Category Linkin Park
Mash & Mirth
“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage and strength.” ― Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes
Mike sat in the backseat, his mind fumbling over the next thing he could say that might bring some ease to the whole situation. “I’ve never been to a fetish club,” he piped up, loud enough for Brad to hear him. “I’m really not into that stuff.”
Brad glanced over to the passenger seat, lending a smile to his girlfriend Elisa, before meeting Mike’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “It’s not a fetish club. Geez, Shinoda, you’d think we were kidnapping you and taking you to some wild BDSM party,” he chuckled. “We’re going to Mash & Mirth. You’ve been there a hundred times.”
“I know,” Mike admitted, sitting back in his seat and pulling his fingers through his black spiked hair. “But I’ve never gone on fetish night.” He pulled at his jeans, and scrubbed the tuft of hair on his chin. “Tell me again why we’re going tonight?”
“Because Joe asked us to come and see his set,” Brad answered, evenly. “It just happens to be on fetish night.”
Elisa turned in her seat, shoving her wavy blonde hair from her shoulders. “We’ve been there on fetish night before,” she said, her voice beaming through the car with something softer and more gentle than Brad’s rough tone. “It’s actually kind of fun. You get to see a different side of people.”
“Well, alright,” Mike decided in protest, crossing his arms. “But you two can’t leave me alone. If things get too creepy, promise me we’ll go.”
“We promise,” Brad conceded, rolling his eyes in the dark. “But stop being such a baby about it. And it won’t get weird. Besides, Phoenix is meeting us there too. And Joe’s been deejaying at that club for the last year. If things were too cracked out, he would have quit a long time ago.”
“And Trevor’s been bar tending there just as long,” Elisa added.
“I think it’s great they get to work at the same place,” Brad said, his attention leaving his anxious friend in the backseat as he spoke to Elisa. “Just like you and me at the zoo.”
“I know,” she agreed, a smile parting her lips, showing off her glitter lipstick, which matched her eyes. “Who knew a romance would spark over monkey shenanigans and elephant dung?”
They laughed as the zoo became the topic, and Mike was consequently left out. He stared out of his window instead, trying to ignore the giddy stories and sappy banter coming from the front seat. Brad and Elisa had been dating for the last three years, practically just out of college, which neither of them had finished. Most days Mike could stomach their mushy relationship, but once they got on the topic of work and all the zoo stories that came with it, tuning them out was his only option.
He leaned his head back against the aging fabric headrest of the old Toyota, as he tried to imagine how Mash & Mirth would look, since it was fetish night. Will people be wearing leather masks and carrying whips? I didn’t even wear any leather tonight. I don’t own any leather anyway. Do I need to know the safe word? Who decides what the safe word is? Is there a vote on it? Milkmaid would be an awesome safe word. I never did get around to reading 50 Shades Of Grey. Darn it. I’m just not prepared for any of this.
Inside the club, the music was loud, and Mike was having trouble relaxing. Even though he’d been to Mash & Mirth a dozen times, this night felt different. He’d already been caught off guard by the girls dancing in the cages that were up by Joe Hahn’s DJ booth. Joe had said their names were Stacy and Kat, and that they were working their way through nursing school. Somehow, that didn’t make the sight of them grinding their naked bodies up against the bars of the eight foot tall cages for any spare dollar bills people wanted to throw at them, any more pleasant.
“Are you sure you’re not in the market for a girlfriend?” Elisa had asked, pointing at the one Joe had called Kat. “I think she likes you.”
Mike peered through the flashing lights - green, red, and orange - that were zooming over the dance floor; the girl dancing in the cage had long black hair and a nice body, but Mike felt nothing. “I’m done with girls,” he reminded Elisa, saying it loud enough to be heard over the dance music. “After two miserable years with Anna, I just can’t do it anymore. No offense to you, of course, but I think I’m done with them - the whole female species.”
“Nothing wrong with being bi, Mike,” Elisa assured him, patting his shoulder. “Brad told me you had a boyfriend in high school.”
“Brad has a big mouth, but yes,” Mike nodded. “I had one for a little while. We played a lot of video games and ate a lot of pizza in between going down on each other,” he remembered, and a grin creased his face - simpler times.
“Yeah, that’s way too much information, Michael,” Elisa said, slapping his arm.
“Sorry,” he apologized quickly with his face reddening. “Is it hot in here?”
“It’s all the bodies!” Brad yelled as he danced past them, shaking his hips and waving his arms - his head full of curly hair normally would have looked like a giant puff ball about now, but he had wrangled his mane into two smaller curly balls on either side of his head. Elisa had spent the first five minutes of the car ride to the club commenting on how cute he looked, and that he should wear his hair like that more often.
But Elisa shuddered now as she watched her boyfriend do the Cabbage Patch. “I love him, but he’s so embarrassing when he dances in public.” She put her hand over her face, trying not to be seen as Brad was making his way back toward them.
“It’s because he’s too white!” Mike laughed. “He’s got no skillz!”
She laughed, mumbling something about how, if they ever got married, there would be a strict No Dancing law enforced at their wedding. “It’s for the love of humanity, you understand,” she said before she pointed toward the bar at the back of the room, through the sea of people. “There’s Trevor!” she said, showing Mike the twenty-something blonde, who was pouring drinks for people. “Go get some water or maybe even a drink,” she suggested. “You look like you could use one.”
Mike agreed, and then Elisa was gone as she zigzagged her way to hide from Brad’s awkward dancing. Mike took a deep breath - smoke, sweat, and alcohol filled his lungs. There was a smog machine by Joe’s DJ booth, shooting out billows of white clouds every ten minutes, and it was suffocating.
Mike tugged at his collar. He was wearing his customary undershirt underneath the black and white checkered ensemble he’d spent thirty minutes debating over as he had gotten dressed for the club, but now he wished he’d picked out a different outfit. One that would allow him to breathe. He briefly thought of undoing his first couple of buttons, but decided against it when he saw a woman eyeing him from a nearby table. Her neck was long, and so were her nails.
Mike looked away, trying to keep his eyes on the floor as he made his way to the bar.
“Excuse me,” he mumbled as he tried to scoot around a male couple, who were dancing and swaying like they were three shots beyond the legal drinking limit. He got by them, and then dodged around a man and a woman - the latter wearing a leather corset and knee-high black boots.
“Sorry,” Mike apologized as he bumped into a man wearing leather chaps and a cowboy hat. “S-sorry,” he stuttered as he finally made it to the bar.
Trevor met him there, a smile on his face as he wiped down the counter. “Glad to see you made it,” he said over the crowd and music. “Didn’t think you’d come tonight. Fetish night seems a bit wild for your taste.”
“Brad said I had to, to see Joe’s set. The music is great. If I was a dancer, I’d be out on that floor for sure,” Mike said, scooting onto a barstool. Its padded seat felt nice after climbing the stairs that led to the second floor of the club, and standing around Joe Hahn’s booth for the last half hour. “Can you make me an appletini?” he asked.
Trevor had his hands on the bar, resting for a moment. “You bet. Heavy on the apple?”
Mike nodded. “Please.”
“Coming up.” Trevor pulled a silver martini shaker from under the counter, and after adding ice, vodka, and apple Pucker to it, he shook it around as he turned in one spot - doing a sort of martini-shaker-dance. He poured the bright green mix into a martini glass, complete with an apple wedge on the rim.
“Here you go,” he said, handing the drink and a napkin over to Mike. “I’ll catch ya’ later. Don’t drink too much,” he added before he moved down the bar to attend to other customers.
Mike watched as Trevor poured a drink for a woman dressed in a tight red dress, which reminded him of Jessica Rabbit - her breasts begging to pop out of the top and her waist so narrow, she didn’t look natural. Then his eye landed on someone else.
A boy. Not a boy, Mike corrected himself. He looks about my age.
Mike sipped his drink, savoring the cool chill and the bite of the sweet apple that followed it as he watched the young man, who was standing close to the bar, but not sitting down. His hair was blonde and spiky, but Mike could see dark roots growing in under the fair color. Something else was on the man’s head, too, but Mike couldn’t quite figure out what it was from where he was sitting. A headband or a weird hat?
Mike knew he was staring, but he couldn’t help it. He took another drink as he watched the other man drop his head. He was dressed in black Adidas pants, and a white t-shirt - very un-fetish looking, or even un-club looking, Mike thought as he took another sip from his martini. The blonde man looked his way, and Mike felt something inside of him stir. The man had deep eyes, that much Mike could tell, but he didn’t look happy. There was something profoundly sad about him, and Mike decided quickly that he must be lonely.
Lonely at Mash & Mirth on fetish night.
Mike’s stomach warmed as thoughts of playing video games and lazing around his house with another guy - in between hand jobs and sex jokes - flashed through his mind. Maybe it was time to go introduce himself.
Mike stood from his barstool and after bumping into a man wearing a wolf mask and a woman carrying a riding crop, Mike sat down on the barstool next to the blonde. “Hi,” Mike said, running a hand over his hair - sweaty. Please tell me I don’t have pit stains too. Not now. He kept his arms close to his body as he waited.
But the man said nothing, keeping his eyes ducked and his head down.
“I’m Mike,” Mike said, trying to get the blonde to look him in the eyes. The man was petite - both in height and weight. He looked like he was barely over 100 pounds, and he wasn’t even close to six foot tall. “I’m Mike Shinoda,” Mike tried again. “My friend is the one doing the music,” he tried next as he pointed across the room, and the man’s head lifted to look.
Mike smiled. He’s shy. I’m okay with that.
“Have you ever been here before?” Mike asked, hoping to catch the blonde’s attention, and he did. The man looked at him with brown eyes and a soft expression, which reminded Mike of something that was lost or broken, as if the blonde wasn’t a whole person somehow. “My-my friend’s been the deejay here for a year,” Mike added. “And that’s his boyfriend Trevor.” He pointed down the bar, where Trevor was leaning on the counter, laughing and talking with two girls who were trying to order Margaritas.
Mike took another sip of his appletini. He was running out of things to say, and he wasn’t sure why this strange guy wasn’t talking. He took a breath, and regrouped. “What’s on your head?” Mike asked, pointing at the two furry triangles that seemed to be attached to the man’s blonde hair. They were black, with white tips, looking almost like dog ears.
“Is that a costume?” Mike asked, and then his eyes floated down past the man’s face and chin. A black leather collar with silver studs bulleted into it was locked around the man’s neck, along with a chain leash, which was attached to the bar. “What’s with this?” Mike asked, feeling a little lightheaded from his drink as he picked at the chain. He ran his finger up it, until he got to the collar. “Who did this to you?”
The man dropped his head, shaking it.
Mike sat back, his nerves pinching every part of his insides. “Do, do you need some help?” He wasn’t sure what else to say, but his instincts told him that what he was looking at wasn’t a good situation.
The blonde looked up, his upper teeth pulling at his bottom lip, which was pierced with something small and silver, before he looked over his shoulder at the dancing crowd. Mike watched him, and it didn’t take long for him to figure out that the blonde was worried. Or scared. Or worse.
Mike stood up, and the blonde snapped around, waving a hand at him, as if to tell Mike not to come closer.
“Hey, you have flames on your wrists,” Mike said, touching the man’s pale skin where the blue and red flares seemed to dance up his arm. His mind, flooded with alcohol, let itself be distracted as he wanted to trace his fingers all over the tattoos. “Those are gorgeous,” he mumbled. “I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but I’ve never had the guts to get one. Plus, my dad would probably shun me for the rest of my life. He’s kind of old-school with our Japanese heritage that way,” he was saying, just as a large man barreled up to the bar - right in between Mike and the blonde. He was hairy, and the plaid shirt and leather vest he was wearing over it, made Mike dislike him immediately.
“What are you doing!” the hairy man growled in a sloppy, husky voice, which boomed from his oversized mouth like a cannon.
The blonde cowered immediately. He had his hands up, protecting his face as the other man unhooked the leash from the bar. He smacked the blonde on the side of the head, and in an instant, he dropped to the floor, onto his hands and knees.
“Stupid dog!” the hairy man shouted, yanking on the leash. “If I ever see you flirting with someone again, you’re done for! You’re getting the belt when we get home!” He kicked the blonde in the side, and Mike bolted to get in between them.
“Hey,” Mike said, shoving the larger man on the chest - an action he wasn’t even sure was his own. “Don’t do that to him!”
“Mind your own business, you little Jap,” the man hissed as he went to walk away, tugging on the leash and hurling more insults, as the blonde crawled behind him.
Mike had his fists balled, ready to defend his Japanese heritage - his family, his life, his existence - but then he saw the blonde hesitate, and look over his shoulder, right at him.
Something snapped, and Mike was turning the older hairy man around - all thoughts of the man’s verbal bigotry gone. “He doesn’t want to go with you,” Mike insisted, pointing to the man on the floor. “You can’t treat him like that.”
“He’s my Pet,” the older man shot back - his breath reeking of alcohol and cigarettes. “He wants to do everything I say, and he loves it because I’m his Master - his Owner.”
“You can’t own someone,” Mike spat.
The mingling crowd right around where they were had stopped, as the older man yanked on the leash again, stating that Mike had better watch himself. Brad and Elisa had seen the small scuffle from across the room, and by the time they got to their friend, Mike was standing toe-to-toe with the guy, pointing a finger at his massive chest and ordering him to let the blonde man go.
“You little Jap punk,” the man growled, and then he threw the first punch.
Mike flew backward, but he stayed on his feet. Blood ran from his nose and his jaw ached, but he didn’t care. Adrenaline kicked in. He screamed as he lunged forward, shoving the older man and socking him right in his bulbous gut.
“Brad, get in there!” Elisa demanded, shoving her boyfriend to help.
Brad held his ground. “I don’t exactly fight,” he told her, as he watched Mike connect another punch and then the older fella socked him back. “It’s against my personal position in life to stay alive.”
“Brad, really,” Elisa scoffed, folding her arms. “I’m losing faith in your manhood.”
“I don’t see you jumping in there,” he defended, pointing as Mike took another punch, and this time he fell back against the bar. “Shit,” Brad whispered, feeling the need to help. “Ok, you distract that big goon, and I’ll get Mike and we’ll run.”
“That’s worse than not fighting!” she protested, but it wasn’t needed. A second after she said it, another man jumped into the fray. He had a head of wavy red hair, which seemed to swirl around his ears and forehead like it was made of water. He went to Mike first, pulling him to his feet.
“Never thought I’d show up to see you in a fight,” he chuckled.
Mike slapped him on the shoulder. “Just in time, Phoenix. Kill him,” he ordered as he pointed. They pounced, landing double blows on the man. He flew backward, and then Phoenix - who had more muscle than Mike and Brad combined - swung the man around and head butted him.
Mike looked down. The blonde man with the collar on was cowering under the barstool. “Hey,” Mike called, as he crouched down, holding his aching stomach and ribs. “You okay?”
“I don’t know what this fight is about,” Phoenix said, gripping the hairy man by his shirt, “but I think you better step the hell out of this club.”
“He’s got my Pet!” the man shouted at Phoenix. Blood was smeared across the man’s face, and already a black rim was forming around his left puffy eye as he pointed to where Mike was kneeling on the floor. “Give me my Pet and we’ll go.” His voice was gurgled, like blood was in his throat and mouth.
Phoenix glanced over his shoulder. “I don’t think so,” he insisted as he tossed the man forward. “That boy is scared to death, so I think he’s going to stay right here for now.” He wiped his nose, feeling a trace of blood, but it was small. The fight had been no contest.
“You can’t take him from me,” the man seethed, but he gave up his stance quickly when two, impressively large, bouncers joined the party. They took the man by his arms, and he was gone - disappearing among the crowd.
Phoenix walked over to Brad. “Thanks for the help, Delson,” he chuckled, punching him in the arm.
“Hey,” Brad said, nursing his wound, “I was just about to jump in when you showed up.”
“Dave, you were great,” Elisa was sure to say before she looked over: Mike was still trying to see if the blonde was okay. “I’m going to help Mike.” She went over and crouched down on the other side of the barstool.
“Is he okay?”
Mike looked up, the blood from his nose and busted lip were already drying. “I don’t know, he won’t say anything. He wasn’t saying anything before either.”
Elisa went to touch the man’s arm, and he flinched. She sat back on her heels. “Let’s stand him up and take him outside, away from this smog and music,” she suggested and Mike agreed.
“Come on, we’re going to walk you out to your car, buddy,” Mike offered as he tried to take the man’s arm, but he wouldn’t let himself be touched.
Brad stood next to Elisa, crossing his arms. “Take his leash, Mike,” he suggested, pointing to the chain that was still attached to the leather collar.
Mike looked up, a frown crossing his face. “No,” he said, disgusted. “He shouldn’t even be wearing this.” He picked the leash up for emphasis, but the blonde man suddenly jumped to attention. His eyes focused on Mike as he waited.
“Okay,” Mike said, dragging the word out as he stood up, leash in hand. The blonde got on his hands and knees, and looked up at Mike. “Stand up,” Mike said, waving his hand in an upward motion. “Stand up, it’s okay.”
The man didn’t move. He kept that same sad look on his face as Mike tried again. Soon Elisa was joining in, and then Brad and Dave as they encouraged him to get off his hands and knees, and then he did. Slowly.
“See, it’s okay,” Mike said, attempting a smile. “The bouncers took that guy out of here. We’ll take you home or,” he stopped, scratching his goatee. “Or wherever you need to go.”
Mike let go of the leash as he motioned for the man to follow him - but he didn’t. “This way,” Mike insisted, but the blonde looked like he was glued to the floor, and scared beyond reason.
“Take him by the leash, Mike,” Brad insisted again, gently this time. “He’s a Pet. You heard what that guy was saying.”
“A Pet? I don’t even know what that means,” Mike argued, but then his mind bolted to the reality of what he was looking at: the leash, the collar, the dog ears attached to the blonde man’s head.
Mike felt sick, his thoughts trying to wrap around the idea of anyone being treated like an animal. “How could anyone do that to someone else?”
“It’s a thing,” Brad said, trying to keep details slim for now. “Usually it’s mutual, both people agree to it. It’s like role-play. But this,” he said, motioning toward the Pet in front of them. “I think his Owner took it too far.”
Mike’s head was pounding, along with his lip. He was sick of tasting blood in his mouth and he didn’t want to be surrounded by the people dancing around them anymore - none of them even seemingly upset by what had happened between this Pet and his Owner.
Mike took the leash, and after telling the blonde that they were just walking outside, he led the way through the crowd, down the stairs, and into the open air.
“Where do you live?” Mike asked as he tried to walk side-by-side with the Pet, but the blonde wasn’t having it. He kept slowing down, trying to walk behind Mike as they made their way through the parking lot. “Or do you live with that asshole?” Mike asked next, and the blonde nodded. “Well, we’re not taking you back there,” Mike decided, but then he rethought the assumption. Brad had said the Pet and Master was role-playing, so maybe Mike had acted too quickly.
“You don’t want to go back, do you?” he asked, hoping that he hadn’t just saved a willing victim.
The blonde shook his head no, his mouth dropping into the saddest expression Mike had ever seen.
“Why aren’t you talking?” he asked next. “Are you mute?”
The blonde shook his head no again.
“Well then tell me where we can drop you off. You got family or friends around here?”
The blonde shook his head, and Mike felt his hand tighten on the leash.
“Look, you’re going to have to say something,” he insisted, but his words came out harsher than he wanted.
The blonde stopped, cowering back a little as he shook his head again. He turned and pointed toward the club and then he pressed his hand over his mouth.
“What does that mean?” Mike asked, feeling more frustrated than a cat trying to catch a mouse.
“I think maybe he means he’s not allowed to talk,” Brad chimed in. “Sometimes Owners make it a rule. Is that it?” he asked, directly to the Pet. “Did your Owner order you not to talk?”
The man nodded.
“Well that’s bullshit,” Mike huffed. “He’s gone now,” he told the blonde. “You can talk all you want. You’re free.”
“It’s not that easy, Mike,” Brad offered. He looked toward his old beat up Toyota. Phoenix and Elisa were there, leaning against it as they waited on Brad and Mike to hurry up. “He’s obviously been through a lot,” Brad continued. “He seems pretty damaged. I don’t think he’s going to be able to tell us anything.”
Mike grit his teeth - hating the buffoon who had so proudly called himself the Master and Owner. “Fine. I’ll take him back to my place for tonight then,” Mike decided. “Is that okay?” he asked the blonde. “You want to go with me tonight and then tomorrow we’ll figure all this out.”
The blonde nodded, and Mike swore he saw a little smile flash across his lips.
“You can’t just take him home,” Brad tried to argue, but Mike stopped him.
“It’s just for one night. He can crash on my couch. And then tomorrow, maybe he can tell us where his family is.”
Thanks for reading everyone :) Admittedly, this is a weird topic, but believe me when I say that this will all be done in good taste. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so leave a review if you'd like.