On a Saturday
There's something really weird going on right now, but Mac can't quite put his finger on it.
A dude, presumably and possibly a beefcake, slams into Mac's shoulder. Dick. Mac stops, does a brief ocular patdown on the douchebag with a neon pink hat and camo shorts. It's only February. Mega dick. But he passes Mac's assessment and is cleared to continue passing through.
Mac puts his hands on his hips. It's hard being a super amazing bodyguard when it's this busy in here. But he's good at keeping track of shit. There aren't many things he isn't good at doing. He's good at smashing, destroying, arguing, yelling, calling Dee a bird, throwing toads at Frank (don't ask), eating three whole pizzas with Charlie, and calming Dennis down.
Yeah, he's pretty much the most talented person in this place.
But, seriously, he can't figure out why Dee's behind the bar. He can't figure out why Charlie is serving drinks, even though he has absolutely no business in doing so. The dude can't read or follow directions for shit. He can't figure out why Frank is passed out underneath a booth with his shoes missing. He can't figure out where Dennis is during all of this.
It's his job to take care of Dennis. Obviously, he takes it very seriously. Mac last saw Dennis bartending before midnight, but he hasn't been paying enough attention since. Shit. The dude has been acting weird all day. He didn't even bitch at Mac when he drank the last of the Fireball this morning.
Dennis always bitches. It's, like, his thing.
Mac checks the men's room, his heart thumping in his chest. Sometimes, Dennis has these episodes. He'll hide in the bathroom or his Range Rover, and Mac will find him shivering or crying or screaming at no one or burning his exposed thigh with a lighter. It scares the fuck out of Mac.
When Dennis self-harms, it really messes with Mac's head. Dennis still cuts himself. Dennis still burns himself. Dennis still starves himself for days on end. Dennis still does all these horrible things, and Mac doesn't exactly know why.
(He doesn't even think Dennis knows he knows about these things.)
But he feels a little more better and stuff when he doesn't find Dennis cowering in a stall. Okay. That's okay. This is okay.
(Except it totally isn't okay, and Mac knows he's failed Dennis in every way imaginable.)
Mac storms out of the restroom, nearly breaking the door on the way out because he's super strong and works out, like, all the time. Not just his glamor muscles either like Dennis says. Dennis tries so hard to be right, but, come the fuck on, Mac knows more about his body than Dennis does. He practically sprints over to Dee, who's wiping down the bar. He guesses the rush is over for the night.
"You seen Dennis?" Mac asks.
Dee eyes him. "No. But if you find him, tell him I'm gonna kick his fat fucking ass for leaving us here like this."
She goes on to call Dennis all sorts of names, probably with cocks and stuff in them because she's freaking obsessed with cocks. Mac, naturally, tunes her out and walks toward Charlie instead. Except the dude is a sweaty mess, his hair plastered to his forehead and grey hoodie drenched. He's stuffing cheese from a random table's plate into his mouth.
(Where did they even get the cheese? They don't have cheese here.)
Fucking gross. Never mind. Charlie's a no go. So is Frank. Rover it is.
Mac heads outside to the alleyway. He tucks his hands inside the lined pockets of his awesome sauce leather jacket, tucking his chin into the collar. He's seen Dennis do it before. He's right; it does keep him warmer.
"Den?" he questions, voice almost cracking like he's some sixteen year old twink again. "What the shit are you doing out here, dude?"
Mac finds Dennis sitting against the stained, dirty brick wall on whatever side of Paddy's this place is. His knees are drawn to his chest, his elbows resting on his knees as his fingers massage his hair. Dennis has nice hair, but don't tell anyone he thinks that.
"Dennis," he tries again. Mac kneels down in front of his best friend. His pulse throbs in his throat. Fuck. He really hopes this isn't another explosive rage thingy; he isn't sure he can handle Dennis' anger again so soon. Mac can only stand so many busted lips and black eyes. "What's going on?"
He watches Dennis pull at his hair. Mac inhales and tries to make his heart shut the fuck up for a sec. "Head hurts..." Dennis slurs. Shit. His voice sounds strange and pinched and scratchy.
Dennis has had migraines since, well, forever he guesses. He gets all quiet, and it annoys Mac to no end. Dennis is somehow more annoying to him when he doesn't talk. But Dennis never tells Mac his head hurts until it's too late, no matter how many times he's begged him to. If Dennis would just give Mac a heads up, he could keep Dennis home from work, give him Tylenol PM, and let him sleep it off before the migraine gets real bad.
Mac instantly shrugs off his leather jacket. Dennis is an idiot who came outside in the middle of winter sick and without a coat. He drapes it over Dennis' shoulders. His best friend whimpers and flinches and tugs at his hair some more.
Mac sighs and hoists Dennis off the cold, hard ground. He wraps an arm around Dennis' too skinny waist and carries almost all of his weight to the Rover. It's not a problem, though, because Mac's got serious muscle tone. He wants to tell Dennis how much he's been working out lately, but Dennis' eyes are screwed shut, and he's breathing heavily as he collapses into the passenger seat.
"It'll be alright, dude," Mac whispers.
Dennis whines. "Gonna be sick."
"Can you hold it till we get home?"
"Fuck you," Dennis grates out. "Hurts..."
Mac grabs Dennis' left hand with his right; his skin is too warm to the touch. Mac's eyes widen when Dennis doesn't jolt or tell him to fuck off again. "Try to breathe through it, Den," he whispers. "We're almost home. Five minutes tops."
They make it back in three thanks to Mac's excellent driving skills.
Dennis barfs the second his feet touch the pavement. Luckily, it misses both their pairs of shoes. He sniffles and groans, digging his palm into his left eye. Mac immediately guides Dennis away from the mess and helps him up the five flights of stairs to their apartment. It's fucking torture. Mac's used to bounding up the steps like lightning or some shit, but Dennis goes granny speed instead.
The moment Mac unlocks the door, Dennis makes a beeline for his bedroom. No surprise there. Dennis has a five inch thick memory foam topper on his mattress. Mac sleeps in Dennis' bed more often than not, so he knows how magical that thing feels on his body. It's like a giant, fluffy, cradling massage.
Mac grabs a bottle of water from the fridge and the Tylenol PM from the medicine cabinet. Dennis is curled up on Mac's usual side of the bed, face hidden in the pillows. He takes off Dennis' shoes. Sleeping in jeans is uncomfortable as shit, but Dennis is in too much pain to deal with that right now. Mac gives his best friend the medicine and covers him with two blankets stashed away in the closet.
He sits on the edge of the mattress, palming the back of Dennis' neck.
"Don't go," he hears Dennis mumble.
Mac shakes his head. "I'm not going anywhere."
Mac blinks awake a few hours later wrapped around Dennis.
He may or may not have a boner.
Fuck. Fucking shit.
What the hell is wrong with him?
Sure, he's come out of the closet before, but that's simply because it was convenient and easy for him. He just slid back in whenever things, whatever they were, died down and acted like it never happened. Like he wasn't free for the first time in his life.
But this... This can't happen. Dennis is his best friend. His blood brother. They've known each other since freshman year of high school. Mac loves Dennis, but not like that. It can never be like that.
Which is why this boner is a mistake.
A huge fucking mistake.
Can't control it, he reasons. He was actually asleep, after all. But Dennis being clingy and sweet and soft and nice for once in his fucking life just does something to Mac that Mac can't really explain. Dennis is different when he's sick. Mac wishes Dennis could be like that all the time, but he knows that won't happen. Knows there's something a little off (wrong) inside Dennis' head.
But Dennis has been a dick since the dawn of time. Mac thinks he came out of his mom's vagina that way, all cranky and irritable and screamy. Very few things actually make Dennis happy. Mac likes to think he's the one person who gets real smiles out of the dude.
(He wants to be important to Dennis.)
Mac knows what Dennis' lips feel like on top of his.
Mac knows what Dennis' dick feels like.
Mac knows every inch of Dennis, has been there before.
(And that's what's fucking scary.)
His dad used to wail on him a lot. Luther McDonald caught Mac jacking off to his mom's porn and ESPN and Sports Illustrated way more than once. Once, he caught Mac kissing Jason Keenes in seventh grade. Jason is the only other dude he's kissed besides Dennis in his whole entire life.
And, on this snowy February night, Mac wants more.
More time. More money. More Dennis.
He quickly shakes his head. He's sweating, and his fingers tremble, and fuck... Why is this happening right now?
Mac can't breathe.
He can't fucking breathe.
Mac pushes himself away from Dennis. He can't be around him. He can't be anywhere near him. It's like he's poison or some shit like that. It isn't fair, and he can't breathe, and he runs a hand through his hair because fuck this.
He practically slams his back against the headboard, sitting himself up so he can try to use his lungs like actual lungs.
In out in out in out in out in out in out in.
Another breath won't come. Mac's heart explodes inside his chest.
This isn't happening. This isn't happening.
He needs a cigarette.
(He needs Dennis.)
Not a single part of his body is working. His head spins, and it's almost hard to tell where he is. His pulse fucking throbs, and is this what dying feels like?
Is he dying?
Mac jumps out of bed, nearly tripping over his bare feet and the quilt he and Dennis are entwined in. Fucking shit. Stop. This needs to stop. Why can't he breathe right? Dennis hides his cigarettes in his underwear drawer. Mac fumbles through tasteful boxers briefs until he comes across a pack.
(He contemplates lighting the five left all at once.)
Mac escapes the room. Just barely though.
Sweat drips from his forehead, and he rolls up his sleeves.
Breathe. He's gotta breathe. He has to breathe.
Mac opens the kitchen window. He lights a cigarette with Dennis' purple lighter. He inhales a drag, letting the nicotine swell in his brain before he exhales. His knees shake. His heart won't stop racing. His teeth chatter. He doesn't know why this is happening.
He puts his hand over his heart as he keeps smoking. He counts inside his head. When Dennis panics or rages, Mac keeps him calm by placing Dennis' hand over his chest and counting the beats out loud. It normally works.
It isn't working.
Mac stubs out the cigarette and lights another.
Why is he so stupid?
He instantly turns around, cigarette pinched between his index and middle finger. His hands shake badly.
"What's going on?"
He knows it's Dennis, but he can't respond. His tongue is, like, glued to the roof of his mouth, and when did it get so hot in here? He nearly rips his shirt off his skin when Dennis puts his hands on Mac's shoulders.
Mac breaks. Crumbles. Dissolves.
Tears pour out of his eyes, and he snots all over Dennis' shirt, the grey and purple striped one that's way too fucking big for him. He likes that shirt.
He likes anything Dennis wears.
(Or doesn't wear.)
"Shh... Shh... Breathe with me, baby boy..."
Mac's head is on Dennis' chest.
He can hear his heart beat.
Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump.
Dennis holds on to him until the world stops spinning.
They're lying on the kitchen floor.
Mac's legs are tangled with Dennis'.
Dennis' left hand is on Mac's hip, like it belongs there.
There's no bed and no pillows and no blankets. Just the two of them.
"You okay?" Dennis whispers, voice thick and hoarse. He's feverish against Mac's skin.
Mac nods. Almost places a kiss on Dennis' heated forehead. "Yeah. Sorry about that..."
"You had a panic attack, Mac," Dennis says with purpose. "What was it about?"
What was it about?
How is he supposed to tell his best friend, his fucking blood brother, that he thinks he might be in love with him?
(Is in love with him. Or, at least he's pretty sure.)
He can't tell him. He can't. It doesn't work that way.
"Forget I asked," Dennis says softly. Mac can tell he isn't trying to be rude or mean or anything. "Glad you're alright."
Mac shoves all of his feelings aside because this has gone on long enough. He gets them both to their feet and holds Dennis' clammy hand on the way to the bedroom.
"You're running a fever," Mac states as Dennis gently sits on the bed.
Dennis winces. "Don't feel so good."
Mac pulls out a pair of black sweatpants and tosses them to Dennis, who sheds his jeans and tugs them on wordlessly without getting off the mattress. His movements are slow and sleepy, and Mac can tell his head is still really bothering him.
"I think I know something that'll work," he says, smiling because he does, in fact, know it will work.
Dennis doesn't say anything, and that's how Mac knows Dennis needs his help. Dennis lies down and curls into a loose ball, and Mac covers him back up, tucking him in a little.
"Cold," Dennis murmurs, eyes closed and forehead scrunched.
"Sorry, dude. You gotta sweat some of that fever out."
Dennis doesn't even groan.
"I'll be right back," Mac says, racing over to his bedroom before Dennis can protest.
(If he can even protest. Chances are, he isn't feeling up to it.)
Mac digs around in his dresser until he finds an eighth of premium grade kush. He doesn't bother rolling a joint, even though he's great at it like most things, because Dennis needs relief now. He grabs his Helix pipe, the one he bought for convenience. It's quick and easy to load and a lot smaller than a bong. It really was a great purchase; Dennis only complained a tiny bit when Mac borrowed his debit card to buy it.
He re-enters Dennis' room, and Dennis just barely cracks open his eyes. Mac turns off the lamp once he fills the bowl. He holds the Helix up to Dennis' lips and lights it. He inhales the smoke without questioning or looking. It's funny how Dennis blindly trusts Mac, but he doesn't dare trust anyone else.
Dennis coughs harshly. Mac gently rubs his chest.
They take turns smoking, and Mac does literally all the work for Dennis besides taking in the smoke himself. Eventually, Mac's eyes feel like lead, and he's struggling to keep them open. His head is cool and calm. His hands aren't shaking.
Mac and Dennis used to smoke a lot of weed while they were in high school and when Dennis was at Penn. Now that they're older, they mostly drink and occasionally huff glue or gasoline with Charlie. Mac forgot how soothing, how floaty and free, weed makes him feel. It's like he's seventeen all over again.
Their senior year, he and Dennis got super baked before gym. He and Mac skipped class and sat under the bleachers. They held hands and bobbed along to the music playing loudly from Dennis' Walkman. It was sunny and bright and warm, and Mac's pretty sure he'd never felt anything like that before.
(Dennis is more wonderful than Mac can even actually put into words, but, again, don't tell him that; no reason to make his ego even more bigger than it already is.)
He glances over at Dennis, who's rolled over to face Mac, the blankets pulled up to his chin. He's still shivering, but he seems sorta okay.
"How's your head?" he asks quietly.
"Better," Dennis breathes out. "How're you?"
Mac chuckles. "I'm fine, dude. I'm not the one with a migraine."
"Panic attack," he whispers.
"One time thing," Mac reasons.
He rolls his eyes. "Dennis..."
Dennis squirms and squishes himself closer to Mac until they're flushed together. It's the cosiest Mac's ever been in his entire life. The warmth of Dennis' fever soaks into his skin, but it's still so great.
(So fucking great.)
"Worried about you," Dennis says softly. His lips are super fucking close to Mac's.
"Don't be, Den," Mac whispers. "Don't be."
And, yeah, maybe Dennis nods.
Maybe Dennis presses his lips against Mac's.
Maybe Mac doesn't pull away.
Maybe it's the best thing that's ever happened to Mac.