Joe was a liar, and everyone knew it. The thing was, he didn't lie all the time, and he didn't always lie when you expected him to. He'd lie about dumb things sometimes, for no reason, just because. And sometimes he'd tell the truth and it would startle the hell out of you, because it wasn't just when it was safe or easy or whatever. It was when Joe felt like it, and you never could tell when that would be.
Billy lay there on the bed with the cheap synthetic comforter, the thin pillow folded behind his head, and the ashtray resting beside him. He slid another cigarette out of the box and lit it, peering up at the ceiling through the smoke. Joe had pretty much just tossed his bag into the room when they got to the bandhouse and headed right back out in the van to get more smokes and booze.
Last night, at Bucky's place - Billy's lips curved into a humorless grin. The only surprising thing was that anyone had ever bought Joe's story about the benefit. Billy had known he was lying all along, and besides, Bucky Haight wasn't going to be the thing to bring Billy back to the band. Joe knew that, he had to know that. The Bucky thing - that was just an excuse, a pretty good one, one that bought Joe the money and the attention and the justification to pull this off. Joe was a convincing bastard when he chose to be, and he had certainly fucking chosen to be with that benefit chick and with Bruce fucking McDonald.
They bought his line, they bought it entirely. But they hadn't known Joe Dick since he was twelve years old.
They didn't know Joe like Billy did.
Seeing Bucky Haight up and walking on two perfectly fine legs - that had been no surprise to Billy. The thing was - and this was all Billy could think about as they sat as an uncomfortable audience to Bucky's ramblings - that Joe had been willing to risk that. Joe didn't have many heroes at all, even fewer that he would admit to, and Bucky had been Joe's goddamn hero. Billy'd known he was lying about the benefit - bullshit fucking story - but he'd been curious to see how far Joe would fucking go with it. He'd figured, he'd really figured, that Joe would come up with something, would figure something out, would fucking manage the situation. Steer them away from Bucky's ranch somehow, keep up the front.
Joe was all about keeping up the front.
That had been the surprising thing, that Joe had blown it so entirely. Joe and Billy, both, had been jittery with nerves by the time they pulled up to the farm, and Pipe and John had been completely unaware of what was causing the undercurrent of tension in the van.
The door to the room slammed open and Billy didn't even twitch as it hit the wall, the reverberation sending a shower of plaster down from the ceiling in the corner. Joe, a carton of cigarettes in his hand and a bottle of Jack under his arm, ignored it. He tossed the carton to Billy, who caught it one-handed.
"Jesus motherfucking christ, next time I'm sending Pipe out," Joe growled, kicking the door shut behind him with one heavy, booted foot. "I had this one punk kid drooling all over me in the store, telling me how excited she was about the show tomorrow." Joe sounded pissed, but he looked pretty pleased.
The room they were sharing had two narrow beds that looked like they were deconstructed bunk beds from some kid's set. They were made of old, scarred wood, but they were solidly put together, at least, and the room itself was the cleanest. Pipe had ended up in the room that had the queen-sized bed, the room Billy had nixed because he was pretty sure the sheets had never been changed on that bed, no matter what the band-house dyke had said. John was sacked out in the tiny back bedroom wedged in behind the kitchen on the first floor, but that was okay - he needed his privacy and he never complained, anyway.
Billy took the cigarette out of his mouth and blew smoke in Joe's direction. "Aw, you got yourself a fan girl, huh?" he drawled.
Joe snorted and let his coat fall off his shoulders, left it in a pile on the floor. He put the bottle of Jack on the worn wooden night table between the two beds, and sat down to take off his boots. "She was an idiot, was what she was. Probably about 14 years old and thinks she knows anything about the music scene."
"Kids these days," Billy said dryly.
Joe rolled his eyes, shoved his boots off his feet and sprawled back on the bed. "Done. I am fucking done with that goddamn van."
"You picked it," Billy said mildly, lifting up the bottle of Jack and studying the label as though it were something that mattered.
"Shut up about the van already." Joe leaned forward and pulled the bottle out of Billy's hands. Billy watched as Joe tore the seal off, twisted off the cap, and took a long swallow from the neck. He handed the bottle back to Billy, and Billy took it, bemused, watching as Joe swiped the back of his hand across his mouth.
He looked down at the bottle again, running his thumb around the lip of the bottle where Joe's mouth had been. He thought about Los Angeles and long nights, and lifted the bottle to his mouth, took a slow, smooth swallow.
They passed the bottle back and forth for a while, Joe doing most of the talking. He bitched about Pipe and John, about Bruce, about Billy himself not helping matters, but he never once said a word about Bucky, never once talked about the night before at Bucky's place, which he maybe didn't remember too much about, but you never knew with Joe. He got fucked up a lot, and he did fucking stupid things, but he remembered shit you'd never, ever think he would.
Billy himself didn't remember much past the beginning of the night. Bits and pieces mostly: smearing the make-up on Joe's face, and Joe putting eyeliner on Billy with a strangely steady hand. He remembered the knife, sort of, and he remembered the gun. He remembered Joe falling to the ground and Billy thinking for one wild second that this had gone way past faking it.
He didn't remember the goat, and he was happy about that, but he remembered Joe's fingers still slick with blood as they slid over Billy's cheek and into his hair, tugging on him and pulling him close.
Billy blinked and looked at Joe across the gap between the two beds. Joe had his head bent, lighting a cigarette, and he looked old for just a second. Restless, Billy leaned off the bed and flipped open his guitar case, carefully lifting out the fucking gorgeous Strat. He pulled it into his lap, sitting back against the head of the bed. The hard wood dug slightly into his back as he ran his fingers over the strings.
Joe shut his lighter with a snap. "What the fuck are you doing?" His voice was loud in the quiet room. The whole house was quiet. It felt weird, it felt cut off, like the world had narrowed to just the two of them.
Billy looked up at Joe. "What the fuck does it look like?"
Joe's lips thinned and he shook his head once, hard. "Put it down."
Billy curled his lip at Joe and kept strumming. "Deal with it."
Joe was the one who had the deep and meaningful fucking hero worship thing going with Bucky. Billy never felt that connection, never even came close. He respected the guy, sure, but there wasn't anything god-like about him. That morning, when Billy had woken up with his head pounding and his throat sore and every muscle in his body aching, he was on the floor of Bucky's living room, and Joe was nowhere to be seen. Billy'd dragged himself off the floor, feeling like six kinds of shit, and staggered to the kitchen. He'd drunk directly from the faucet, his mouth tasting like rags, before tugging on his coat and making his way to the porch.
He'd been on the porch long enough for his head to mostly clear by the time Bucky came out and caught him with the guitar. He'd felt like an asshole - you don't fuck around with another guy's instrument - but he couldn't have kept his hands off of it if he'd tried. It was a fucking special guitar, and Bucky'd given it to him.
Joe was still snarling at him, but Billy tuned him out, segued into "Purple Haze." Joe flung himself back on the bed and growled to himself, smoking his cigarette like he was angry at it.
By the time Billy finished the song, Joe was quiet on the bed, his hand curled around the neck of the bottle of Jack at his side and the ash on his cigarette trembling dangerously long. As Billy watched, Joe tilted his head and flicked the cigarette a tiny bit with his tongue so that the ash fell onto the bed beside him.
"Careful," Billy said, "That blanket's more likely to melt than burn."
Joe snorted, and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, crushing out the cigarette in the ashtray. Billy let his arm rest on the edge of the guitar, and held out his other hand for the bottle.
"Don't you think you've had enough, Billy?" Joe said in a snarly, sing-song voice. "Aren't you all clean and sober now? Or, oh wait," Joe's face spread into a hard grin. "That's right. You fell off the wagon, didn't you, sweetheart? Guess I'm not the only one who fucks up." Still, he shoved the bottle at Billy.
Billy's fingers curled around the glass neck. It was still warm from Joe's hand. He raised an eyebrow and looked over at him. "Never said that you were, Joseph."
"Right." Joe eyed Billy. "Put down the guitar."
"It's a 1959 Strat," Billy pointed out, his hand running lovingly down the length of it.
"I don't fucking care, put it the fuck down." Joe's tone was quiet, and Billy looked at him for a long moment. Joe made a low sound of exasperation in his throat and went to take the guitar from Billy's hands.
"Don't," said Billy in a low, warning voice, and Joe stopped, and smacked the side of Billy's head instead. Billy bared his teeth at him. Joe, who didn't lie half as well as he thought he did. Joe, who thought he was the one who brought Billy here, tricked Billy into coming here.
"Put it down yourself, then, cuntface. The whole world isn't your fucking audience."
Billy snorted, and raised the bottle to his mouth, taking a long sip. More of the world was his audience than Joe Dick's. Fear of success was too fucking simple a summary of what drove Joe. Joe wanted the audience, wanted the attention, wanted the fucking fame. He'd take all of Hard Core fucking Logo down to Los Angeles if they wanted him there, and both of them damn well knew it. That wasn't what this was about. That wasn't anything close to what this was about.
Billy held the bottle out to Joe, who took it and drank, looking at Billy over the lip. Billy played two more chords, then turned and leaned over the side of the bed to put the Strat safely back in its case.
When he sat back up, Joe was leaning forward from his bed, passing the bottle back to Billy. Billy took it, even though he was feeling dizzy already. The years of sobriety took away his tolerance. Half a bottle of Jack - not even - used to be an appetizer for a night of drinking. That was nothing at all. Still, he tipped the bottle up, gulped it this time - he was used to the taste, and his throat was practically numb now. He felt some of the booze trickle out of the side of his mouth.
By the time he lowered the bottle, Joe was on Billy's bed. He pushed away the hand that Billy raised to wipe his mouth, and leaned forward, licking up the booze from Billy's neck, his chin, his lips, and then Joe's tongue was in Billy's mouth.
Billy groaned and fisted his hands in the back of Joe's sweater and slid down a little, Joe following him down. Joe was a liar, Billy was reminded once again; Joe lied all the time, but he wasn't good at it. Joe pinned him down with his body, kissing him rough and fierce, and Billy just slid back further, spread his legs, and shoved up against Joe.
"Slut," Joe hissed under his breath, yanking his mouth away and grinding. Billy laughed, and Joe lifted up, grabbed his hips and pulled him down hard, so Billy was flat under him. Billy, drunk and dizzy, went easily, tilting his face up and looping an arm around Joe's shoulders, pulling him down and kissing him.
"Fuck you," Joe gasped out against Billy's lips, pushing his hands in between them and fumbling at the button on Billy's pants.
"Yeah," Billy said, lifting his hips as Joe shoved his pants down. "Yeah," he said again as Joe's hand closed around his cock. This didn't matter. None of it mattered.
"Christ," Joe grunted, and his calloused hand was pulling rough and steady on Billy's cock, and it didn't matter how fucked up they were or how little this mattered, because Billy's dick didn't care, Billy's dick was leaking like crazy all over Joe's hand.
Billy tilted his head forward and looked at Joe. Joe was staring at Billy's dick like it was the fucking holy grail, and Billy almost laughed, because god, Joe, at least try to put up a front. But nah, not him, not his Joe. Joe went after what he wanted. Went after it full throttle, and he'd get it, too, and then fuck it up. Fuck it the fuck up, that was what Joe was good at, that was what was pretty much guaranteed in Joe's life. That's how he ended up a middle-aged rock star in a falling-down bandhouse with Billy fucking Tallent's dick leaving smears all over his hand.
Watching Joe's face, Billy figured Joe wouldn't have it any other way.
Joe looked at Billy - finally - and growled, "Faggot," just as he pulled up from where he'd been humping against Billy's thigh. "Fucking - faggot," he gasped as he pulled out his own cock and stroked it roughly a few times, and god, you know, some things never changed. Billy wanted Joe's cock in his mouth, but uh-uh, no way, he was done going down on his knees for Joe. Not this time. Not now.
He wrapped his fingers around his own cock, ran his thumb up and over the top. He looked up at Joe when he brought his thumb to his mouth and licked it off. It tasted salty and Joe looked like he was hardly breathing. Joe was easy, so fucking easy. All Billy had to do at that point was tilt his dick out, just a little bit, and Joe was going down like he'd been wanting to since Billy set foot in the fucking country.
Didn't make it any less good. Made it better, maybe. "Jesus," he panted up at the ceiling, wrapping his hands on Joe's hair and shoved him down on his cock. "Christ, yeah, just -"
Joe didn't try to push him off, Joe never tried to push his hands away when it was like this. He just went down deep, sucked Billy in, didn't give him a second, not even a second to even breathe. This wasn't about rhythm or smoothness or anything like that. This was Joe knowing Billy like he knew no one else. This was about Joe swallowing him, taking it from him when he wouldn't take it from even one other fucking person in this whole goddamn world.
Joe had him deep, was jacking him with one hand and holding down his hip with the other, and Billy couldn't be quiet, wasn't even trying. He never could, never could, not when he was drunk and screwed and deep in Joe's mouth. "Fuck, Joe, jesus, just fucking - Christ -"
Billy was coming, panting harshly, his head tilted back so far he couldn't breathe, shooting again and again into Joe's mouth, felt like he'd never stop coming. No girl, no groupie in the fucking world could give head like Joe Dick and that was the god's honest truth.
Then again - Billy managed to lift his head up - no groupie looked up at him the way Joe did when he lifted his head off Billy's cock, letting it slide out of his mouth and onto Billy's stomach with a wet splat. That fucked-up look that wasn't anywhere near what any sane person would call love. It was too much, it was need and desperation and Joe's own special brand of love all tied up into one. Too fucking much.
Billy was still catching his breath as Joe drew one slow hand over his mouth, wiping it off, as he swallowed. Billy, feeling limp and used and fucking great, boneless on the stupid-ass twin bed in the stupid-ass bandhouse in the middle of fucking goddamn Edmonton in the dead of winter. Slumped back, with his shirt pushed up and his pants shoved down, Billy let his hands fall to either side of him. He tilted his head and gave Joe his best slow, drunk, half-smile that didn't mean anything at all.
All yours, Joe Dick. What are you gonna do?
Joe grabbed his own dick in his hand - not gone soft at all, no way, giving head - well, giving head to Billy did nothing but ratchet Joe up and up - and planted one knee in between Billy's legs, a little too close to Billy's balls for comfort. He let himself fall forward, catching himself on one hand planted right beside Billy's head. He looked dark and quiet and dangerous. He had his lip caught in his teeth, he was growling obscenities under his breath, and he never once stopped looking right in Billy's eyes.
"Fuck you, you fucking fuck, I just fucking - fuck -" A long stream of cursing and promises as he looked down at Billy and stroked himself, hard and fast and, "Christ, god, Billy," came all over Billy's stomach.
He collapsed down beside Billy, and Billy, running his hand through the mess on his stomach, tilted his head to the side to look at Joe. Joe had his eyes shut and his jaw clenched and he was still muttering curses under his breath. Billy ran his other hand lightly over the wilted curve of his Mohawk, but Joe kept his eyes shut and Billy was pretty sure he didn't even notice.
Twisting around on the bed, Billy felt around on the floor until he found the bottle. He lifted it up and took a long swig, leaving barely an inch at the bottom. "Just like the old days," he muttered to himself.
Joe snorted into the pillow. "Right, Billiam." He heaved himself up onto his side and looked at Billy, ran his eyes down the sprawled mess of him. He looked pleased. "You're staying."
It wasn't a question, but Billy raised and lowered one shoulder anyway.
Joe nodded. "Good," he said. "Music. No coke. We'll be big together, you and me. We'll be huge."
Joe sounded tired but sure, and Billy wasn't going to argue. He passed the last of the Jack over to Joe and watched Joe's throat move as he drained it.
"We'll see," he said, tugging his t-shirt off and using it to mop up his stomach. Joe watched the process, his face serious and focused on something else entirely.
"Trust me," Joe said.
"Not in a million years." Billy never lied. Billy never had to.
"Fucker." Joe flashed him a quick grin and slung his arm around Billy's neck, pulling him in for a kiss.
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