a/n: love is in the air? special thanks to my wonderful reviewers: Bathe Me In Black (cuddlebabez), WindSpiral, no-one's-puppet, PuzzledApproach, and ohsocyanide


-smooth criminal

Hadley and Mace were seeing each other.

They were seeing each other a lot.

They were seeing each other in the mornings, and in the afternoons, and sometimes even at night. They texted during class, and passed knowing looks in the halls, and had secret planny lunch dates where they discussed secret plans in secret planny voices. You could even say that they had entered into a sweet little bromance, only they were not bros and Mace was only screwing Hadley asexually.

Mace sipped noisily at his chocolate milkshake. He and Hadley were having another one of their lunchly rendez-vous pending the cancelation of the one class they had together. He leaned forward in his chair and set his empty glass down.

"So what did you get?"

Hadley squinted down at the mess of notes he had in front of him. He licked his lips and handed one of the many sheets to Mace. "It's his class schedule," he explained. "Apparently Win's a socy major."

Mace tossed the schedule over his shoulder. "Irrelevant. We're only interested in his extra curricular activities."

Hadley scowled and picked the paper up from where it had fallen on the ground. "I wasn't done yet," he snapped. He smoothed the schedule out in front of them and pointed to two blocks he'd highlighted in yellow highlighter. "He's a socy major, but ever since freshman year he's had an Independent Study with Professor Whalan. It's been pretty consistent, actually. Every Tuesday and Friday from nine to eleven."


"So, I looked up this professor Whalan guy. He exists, but he's not in the Socy department. Actually he's a professor emeritus."

"Still bored as fuck."

"Idiot, this means this is a bullshit class. There are four whole hours every week that Win is unaccounted for. But even worse, the school is somehow letting him get away with it."

Now Mace looked interested. He quit spinning his straw in his milkshake glass and rubbed at his chin diabolically. "Tuesday and Friday, say?"

"Yup. Nine to eleven."

"Today's Tuesday."

"I know. I, too, possess a calendar."

"No you shit-face, today is Tuesday." The diabolical rubbing was joined by a maniacal smirk. "I think we might need to pick up a new night class, don't you think?"

Hadley cell-phone was ringing. Glancing at his screen he groaned at the caller ID flashed.

Darth Vater.

You know, because vater was father in german and his father was about as evil as the sith. It was funny. And clever. And such. Or at least he thought so.

He dragged the lock accross the screen.

"Sup brah!" he greeted, turning over onto his back on his bed. "What can I do you for?"

"I hate it when you use streetisms," his father's clipped tone sounded from the other side. "It's almost as if you do it on purpose to annoy me."

"I do do it on purpose to annoy you," Hadley replied gaily. He was usually the dourest of conversationalists, but for his father he seemed to feel the need to sparkle like a unicorn. It might have had a lot to do with the fact that it annoyed his father so much. He considered adding a giggle, but then decided against it. Win had left the room a while ago to take a shower (the boy showered a lot). If he returned out of the blue, Hadley didn't want to explain why he was giggling into the phone like a sugar-high teenager. And at his father no less.

Hadley's father made a tsk-ing sound. If he allowed himself the freedom his son exercised to befoul the air with curses and such he would have called his son a three eyed twatty toad. But he did not. So instead he tsked.

"How are you enjoying school?" he finally asked.

"Still a rotten shit-hole."


"I'm sorry. Still a rotten shit hole, sir."

"Have you made any friends?"

"You mean after you imprisoned me with the latest two neanderthalls?"

"They are not neanderthalls. The dean assures me they are perfectly decent boys. "

"One of them is a man-whore and the other one I'm pretty sure works for the mafia."

"Now you are just exaggerating."

"If you're not going to believe anything I say, why ask?"

"Because your mother made me promise to make sure you grew up normal."

"She didn't keep any of her promises to you. I don't see why you have to keep any of your promises to her."

"That was uncalled for Hadley," his father said sternly.

"Why? Because it's true?"

"I will call you back when you are feeling less belligerant."

"Hah, you know and I know that is never going to happen."

"Good afternoon."

The line went dead.

Hadley ended the call, and brought his phone hand down. He'd won, but somehow it felt completely rotten.

Night came and Hadley was still feeling rotten. Luckily, he wasn't given much of an opportunity to think about it. Mace had decided to be especially...distracting.

"What are you wearing?" Hadley demanded, trying not to watch Mace shimmy into a lot of leather things. Mace turned in adjusting the leather vest he was wearing over his dress shirt. Underneath he wore tight leather pants, which went interestingly with very roaring 20's-style hat.


"You look like Michael Jackson."

"I look better than Michael Jackson," Mace corrected. He leaned forward in the mirror and unleashed a truckload of hairspray into his dark locks. Hadley had to admit he didn't look half bad.

Actually, that was a lie. Usually, Mace looked fucking hot. Right now it was a wonder that Hadley wasn't getting–

No wait, there it was. He immediately sat down in the chair and crossed his legs, trying to look casual as one could when there was a Plymouth rising from one's pants. Placing an elbow on the desk, he lay his hand on his upturned palm.

"I thought we were stalking Win, not auditioning for dancing with the tacky stars."

"We are stalking him. It's just I happen to know where he is going."


"You're not the only one who can do espionage." Mace patted his hair one last time and turned to Hadley. "Now, go get changed."

Hadley looked down at his simple outfit and looked up again. "I think what I have on is fine."

"Yeah, if we're going to a funeral."

"Where are we going?"

Mace merely grinned.

Apparently, the "where" that they were going to had to be reached by vehicle. Unfortunately for Hadley, Mace's idea of a vehicle was a Hurley.

"No." Hadley said firmly. "Fuck no."

"Do you have a better idea?" Mace swung a leg over onto the motorcycle. Reaching back he grabbed a helmet and handed it to Hadley.

"We can take a bus," Hadley whined.

"Busses don't run to where we're going."

"Okay we'll take a cab."

Mace shook the helmet impatiently. "Just get on the fucking bike already."

Begrudgingly, Hadley accepted the only thing between him and a coma and hopped on the back. At least the seat was comfortable. And he had a helmet. In the event that they ended up in an accident his mind would survive. Of course, then it would have to scream itself insane, stuck inside a paralyzed body that it couldn't control anymore.


"Aren't you going to wear one?" Hadley asked, fastening his helmet under his chin.

"Well I can't now can I?" Mace sniffed, leaning forward into the handle-bars. "There's only one."

Before Hadley could have the chance to really digest this sacrifice, Mace started up the motorcycle and they were off.

They rode in silence for a good ten minutes; Mace because he loathed talking while he was driving and Hadley because he had his arms around Mace's waist and he was trying very hand not to think about it. It was not fair the way Mace's back felt so solid. He had had no choice but to press into it and that solidness was enveloping him, and somehow promising him that it was strong enough to prevent anything from ever hurting Hadley again.

What again? I've never been hurt.

Nothing can touch me.

He shook his head. Stupid brain. Stupid, stupid brain.

When they arrived at their destination, Hadley jumped off the bike before Mace had even cut the engine. The taller boy raised an eyebrow at him skeptically, but for once did not make any particular comment.

The neighborhood they were in wasn't a particularly safe one. Even the rats carried knives to protect themselves from getting jumped by other thief rats. Hadley stuffed his hands into the pocket of the dark wash jeans he was wearing and shivered. All he had on in the way of warmth was a black and red mesh shirt that was too big because it actually belonged Mace. While the shirt looked cool enough, it was shit at keeping out the cold. If he had tits they would be pointing north and then some...

Mace finished up securing his bike and they were off again. They came to a particularly blank piece of wall. In fact, it was so blank that at first Hadley thought Mace had stopped so that he could piss. Bashfully, Hadley averted his eyes immediately not wanting to see (but really, really wanting to see) Mace's penis.

"Are you coming or not?"

Hadley's hands dropped away from his eyes. A door had appeared in the blank as blank wall. Okay...so not peeing.


"Uh, yeah. Yeah."

The door lead to a dark hallway, which had only one swinging lamp as its light source. It led to another door, which was just as near-invisible as the other one had been. This time, when they passed through, instead of being met with the hallway out of 'every cliche horror movie ever', they were hit with a blast of pounding techno music. Bass reverberated through the air, turning into an almost physical thing that weaved between the dancers, partnering with those who'd come alone. Blue and white light suffused the room that was piled full of bodies in various states of dishabille: gyrating on the dance floor, drinking at the bar, making out in the corners. Hadley didn't quite know where to look without heat rushing into his face.

Mace maneuvered them to the bar and Hadley ordered something to calm his nerves. He could barely drink it, though, he was so nervous. His eyes swung over to the back of the club where its name flashed in neon.

"The Flamboyant Pretties?"

"It's a gay club. It's got a gay club name." Mace shrugged.


Hadley took another cautious sip of his drink and fidgeted. Win wasn't here yet. The plan was to sit around and get comfortable until he showed up. Unfortunately, Hadley was having trouble with the comfortable part.

His eyes trailed onto the dance floor and caught the gaze of a grinning blond. He was dancing with someone, but as soon as he saw Hadley, he pushed away from his partner and winked suggestively.

Hadley turned red and dropped his gaze.

"I think I'm going to go work the crowd," Mace said, tossing back the rest of his drink and getting up. "Maybe one of the regulars knows somthing."

"No!" Hadley squeaked, grabbing hold of Hadley's arm.

"The fuck is wrong with you?" Mace demanded. "Let go!"

"Look I've never been in a gay club." He was stammering. He didn't know why he was stammering. There was nothing embarassing about this.

"Well of course you haven't," Mace grunted. "After all, you're apparently not gay."

Hadley gulped. He had completely forgotten that Win was not the only person that Mace felt a deep need to unravel.

"Are you afraid of the big bad gays Hadley? Is that what's going on?" Mace inquired. His entire tone had changed and Hadley didn't like it. It had warning all over it.

"Uh, no. Forget it."

Mace snuck an arm around Hadley's waist and pulled him against his body sharply. "Don't worry," he grinned nastily, his breath grazing Hadley's nose. "I'll keep the nasty gays from bugging you."

"Fuck off," Hadley hissed. It came out sounding odd because he was simultaneously trying to remember to breathe again. He detangled from Mace immediately. If there were any predatory gays that he had to watch out for it was the one standing right in front of him.

Mace laughed, but he sat down and Hadley, despite himself, felt a little better.

Twelve songs, a spot prize concert, and a couple of drinks later, and Win finally appeared.

"He's here," Mace whispered under his breath. Hadley half-turned, but Mace grabbed him down. "Don't look, he'll see you!"

"How the fuck are we supposed to spy on him if we can't look at him?"

"I don't know. I didn't think of this part."


"I don't see you coming up with anything better!"

Hadley snuck a little look over his shoulder. Sure enough Win had entered the club. Unlike everyone else, he was dressed fairly normally in a pair of low-riding jeans and a fitted black t-shirt. He was walking to the bar, deep in conversation with the bouncer, but looked up suddenly, like he'd heard someone call his name.



"I think he saw me!"

"What? You idiot i told you not to look!"

"I couldn't help it..."

Mace thought for a moment. "We've got to hide. Come on."

Grabbing Hadley's hand, he dragged him out of his chair and powered through the crowd walking in a zig zag pattern as if to lose the trail of their would-be stalker. Hadley kept his eyes to his feet.

Dance floor. Dance floor. Used condom (EW). Wooden floors. Tile floors. Urinals...


"The bathroom? That's your plan?" He let go of Mace's hand and crossed his arms in disbelief.

"Actually, bathroom stall," Mace said pointing. "You never know, he might decide to come in here. We weren't exactly subtle when we slipped away."

"We can't go into one stall together!"


"Because if someone looks under the door they will see two feet and think things are happening!"



"Just get into the stall, you freak."

And with that he grabbed Hadley by the hoodie and dragged him behind him.

a/n: i am a fail. i am so sorry. i promise not to take this long again.