The newspaper twitched and a tired voice spoke from behind it. “Would you two please get a room?”
Sugizo looked bewildered. “But… we’re not doing anything.”
“I know exactly what you’re doing. Especially you.” Still without looking up from his newspaper, Pata pointed an accusing finger at Heath.
“Me?” Heath asked, surprised.
Pata finally set the paper down. “Yes, you. You there with your bass and your tongue sticking out and you know it turns him on, and he’s sitting there looking like he’s going to explode in his pants.”
On the other side of the room, Yoshiki and Toshi sat at the piano watching this little scenario with fascination.
Toshi leaned over to Yoshiki and whispered, “Seriously, how does Pata see everything?”
Yoshiki shrugged. “I dunno. He must have special powers.”
It had been a few weeks since Sugizo and Heath had first gotten together. They hadn’t announced it, nor did they try to hide it, and nobody asked them about it; everyone just accepted the fact that everyone else in the band knew. Yoshiki had even had a private chat with hide and Taiji and asked them to watch over the pair.
Heath and Sugizo had both agreed not to rush into sex but this was plainly easier said than done, especially for Sugizo because, as it turned out, Heath enjoyed teasing him. He was never cruel about it—Heath didn’t have a cruel bone in his body—but it didn’t take much, either. One night the five of them had gone out for dessert and Heath was eating ice cream with a long spoon. He had simply pulled the spoon slowly out of his mouth and Sugizo’s hands shook so hard that he spilled his glass of water all over the table.
Yoshiki did nothing to curb this behaviour, partly because he knew that Heath and Sugizo were too professional to bring their personal foibles onstage, and partly because he thought it was hilarious to see Sugizo reduced to a shaking mess by their unassuming bassist.
Toshi still thought of Heath as his baby brother even after all these years and couldn’t help feeling protective of him. Sugizo did have something of a reputation, after all. A few days ago, when they were alone, he had gently asked Heath how the relationship was going; the younger man said it was “fine” but the shy smile told him that it was more than just fine. Toshi knew that Heath was absolutely capable of taking care of himself but he kept a watchful eye on him all the same.
Pata didn’t really care as long as they were happy, which they clearly were, except that the sexual tension in the room was thick enough to cut with a knife.
“Heath, stop teasing him already,” Yoshiki called. “At this rate he’s going to need a cold shower.”
“Cold showers don’t work,” Sugizo muttered to nobody in particular.
“I honestly didn’t know I was doing anything,” Heath said. Yoshiki decided he was telling the truth.
“They just need to have a good fuck is all,” Pata said matter-of-factly, going back to his paper. Both Heath and Sugizo turned red and Yoshiki had to cover his face with his hands to keep from howling with laughter.
That night at a secluded bar near Heath’s apartment the two shared a small table at the back, enjoying a couple of frosty beers.
“You know,” Sugizo said. “Your teasing is going to get us both into trouble.”
“I really wasn’t doing it on purpose that time,” Heath said. “But I’ll stop doing it if you stop enjoying it.” And he took a drink and licked his lips.
Sugizo’s jaw clenched for a second and then he practically jumped across the table and kissed the bassist hungrily, almost knocking the beers over, and Heath returned the kiss with equal fervour.
“Why must you be so sexy?” Sugizo grumbled.
“I don’t know, you tell me.” Heath grinned.
“All right.” Sugizo took a long drink of his beer. “I have a proposition for you, Mr. Sexybones.”
Heath looked confused.
“Some of your fans call you that.” Sugizo explained and Heath giggled. Sugizo went on: “If you like games so much, I have a game for you.”
“First person to initiate sex has to get the other one a present. Like a really awesome present.”
Heath laughed. “Is that all? This is going to be so easy.”
“I won’t lose. I have decided to strengthen my resolve,” Sugizo declared.
“You’re just afraid that Pata will yell at you,” Heath said. “Not that I blame you. The first time I heard Pata yell at hide, I nearly shat bricks.”
Now it was Sugizo’s turn to laugh.
Heath tipped his now empty bottle upside down. “Want to come up to my place tonight?”
Sugizo sculled the rest of his beer, threw a few notes on the table and they beat a hasty retreat via the rear exit of the building.
Soon enough they were stumbling through Heath’s apartment in the dark, kissing desperately. Sugizo’s hands slid up and under Heath’s black tank top, pulling it off before practically throwing the bassist on the bed and kissing his neck where he knew Heath liked it best. Beneath him, Heath whimpered with pleasure and Sugizo kissed his mouth deeply before sitting up to take his own shirt off. Heath used this opportunity to flip Sugizo onto his back and trailed long kisses down his chest, hands exploring the guitarist’s finely-sculpted body. Sugizo arched his back and tangled his fingers in Heath’s long hair, pulling him up so that their lips met. As they kissed, Heath ground his hips hard into Sugizo’s.
Sugizo’s hips bucked up in response but he broke the kiss, smiling and panting. “The game’s only just begun. You aren’t going to win that easily.”
Heath straddled his hips. “That’s okay. I’ll get you.”
“If you say so. You know you want this as much as I do,” Sugizo said and he ran both hands up Heath’s thighs. He gave that ass a firm squeeze and pushed their hips together again but this time Sugizo was in control and he could feel Heath getting hard. Heath had to bite his lip to keep from moaning. Sugizo smiled at this small victory and gathered the slender bassist in his arms. That was enough for now.
“You’re playing dirty.” Heath murmured into Sugizo’s neck.
“No more dirty than you are,” Sugizo smirked. “I can’t wait for you to lose.”
Heath just smiled and lazily traced the tattoos on his arm. There was a contented silence between them for a while.
“Oh, I nearly forgot. I have something for you.” Sugizo got up to fetch his jacket from the floor and rummaged through the pockets.
“Did I win the game already?” Heath asked.
“Ha. No, the game is still on.” Sugizo climbed back into bed and placed a small piece of metal in his hand.
“A key to your heart?”
“A key to my place,” Sugizo corrected. “You’re the key to my heart.”
Heath blushed at that.
“I know it’s a bit soon to be exchanging keys and you don’t have to give me yours,” Sugizo continued. The bassist was a notoriously private person and Sugizo couldn’t blame him; as a rock star, every shred of personal privacy was incredibly valuable. “I just thought it would be... nice.”
“It is nice. Thank you.” Heath kissed him gently before placing the key carefully on the nightstand and snuggling back into Sugizo’s arms. “Are you staying tonight?”
“I might. As long as you don’t try to take advantage of me.”
“I’ll be good,” Heath promised.
In the morning when Heath woke up, Sugizo was already awake. He fondly brushed the hair out of Heath’s eyes.
Heath blinked sleepily. “What time is it?”
“Nearly 8. I should get going,” Sugizo said, kissing the top of his head.
“I need to go home to shower and change.”
Heath grumbled something about showering here and staying in bed all day.
Sugizo gently extracted himself from Heath’s arms. “I’ll see you at Yoshiki’s later.”
He drove back to his own apartment as fast as he could. If he were to win this game he had to start with an advantage.
When Sugizo arrived at the studio, Toshi looked him up and down and said, “Aren’t you dressed a little… uh, provocatively for regular practise?”
“I’m dressing strategically.” Sugizo checked himself out in the full-length mirror and looked very pleased with what he saw.
“Heath and I have a little wager going on. Whoever initiates sex first has to buy the other one an awesome present.”
Pata raised his eyebrows. “So… let me get this straight. Instead of one of you flirting insufferably with the other, you’re both going be doing it?”
Sugizo leaned closer to the mirror, fixing his hair. “You make that sound like a bad thing.”
Yoshiki entered the room just in time to catch the end of the conversation and asked, “What’s a bad thing?” immediately followed with, “Whoa, what’s with the slutty outfit?”
“Sugizo and Heath have a bet.” Toshi explained. “The person who initiates sex first is the loser. Can’t say I really get the logic there.”
Yoshiki thought about this for a second. “I like it.”
“You like it?”
“I think it evens out the playing field. Sugizo’s giving Heath a run for his money.” Yoshiki said.
“Sugizo’s going to win this one,” said Pata.
“Thank you, Pata.” Sugizo said graciously.
Yoshiki shook his head. “Sugizo, you know I love you but my money is on Heath. He’s way too cool and in control; you’ll crack before he does.”
Sugizo pouted at this.
Toshi looked from Yoshiki, to Pata, to Sugizo, and sighed. “I think I agree with Yoshiki. Heath won’t give in.”
At that moment Heath arrived. He took one very long look at Sugizo in that outfit, swallowed hard, and headed in the opposite direction.
Sugizo turned to Toshi and Yoshiki smugly. “You were saying?”
The game continued in this fashion for a while and even Pata was impressed at how long they managed to drag this out without submitting to the other.
One time Heath was sitting on the floor of his apartment, playing video games, and Sugizo sat behind him, starting with a perfectly innocent shoulder massage that turned into a much less innocent massaging of other areas.
Another time Heath spent the entire practise session with his back to Sugizo and leaning over tables and chairs, forcing him to look at his ass all day.
Sugizo took to practising violin topless.
Heath wore tight, low-slung leather trousers that only just clung to his slim hips.
During a live, Sugizo walked up behind Heath and very deliberately ran his hands down Heath’s body.
Then there was the time they ended up kissing passionately in Yoshiki’s dressing room; they weren’t sure who started that one or who was the victor there since they’d both been on the brink of tearing each other’s clothes off. Yoshiki had been somewhat unimpressed when he walked in on them; he had closed the door and loudly told them to get out. An hour after the incident the two of them were still giggling like stupid teenagers.
All the while, Yoshiki, Toshi and Pata watched this like a game of tennis and none of them could tell who was playing it better.
It finally came to a head the night they attended Takuro’s birthday party. Heath was out on the balcony chatting with Issay when Sugizo started flirting with Hisashi right in front of him. Hisashi knew Sugizo too well to take it seriously and thought it would be funny to play along. That was until he saw that Heath was slightly drunk and visibly jealous, at which point the petite guitarist quickly made himself scarce. Even Issay had taken a few steps back, never having seen Heath looking so pissed off.
Sugizo started to wonder if he’d gone a little too far with that one and was about to find him to apologise, until Heath sent him a very dirty text message from across the room and watched with a satisfied smile as Sugizo dropped his phone while reading it.
J lifted the wine glass out of Sugizo’s other hand. “Had enough for one night?”
“Uh, n-no,” Sugizo said, retrieving his phone from the floor.
J grinned. “What’s he done now?”
“Your pretty boyfriend over there. Got you all hot and bothered, has he?”
J gave Heath a big thumbs up and Sugizo scowled. “How do you know about this?”
“I’m one of your oldest friends, Sugizo.” J said matter-of-factly. “I can always tell when something’s up with you.” He took a drink of Sugizo’s wine. “Also, Yoshiki told me.”
“Stupid Yoshiki,” Sugizo muttered.
J roared with laughter and gave him a hearty slap on the back. “I can’t believe that you of all people haven’t jumped Heath’s bones yet. And after you’ve spent all this time moping over him as well.”
“I’m just saying. We bassists are sexy motherfuckers.” J said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “So, what did he send you?” He snatched Sugizo’s phone.
“J!” Sugizo tried to take it back but J held it out of reach.
“Holy shit.” J chortled. “Heath, you little minx. I’m almost envious. Hey! Inoran!” J waved and Inoran threaded his way through the other party guests. “You need to see this.”
Holding Sugizo at arms’ length J gleefully showed Inoran the message and his eyes grew wide as he read it. “Wow. Did he really send you that? I thought he was the quiet one.”
“Yes, he did, and he is, thank you very much.” Sugizo finally managed to get his phone back and tucked it into the inner pocket of his jacket where his nosey friends couldn’t reach. “So you know about our little bet as well?”
“I hear Pata’s the only one who thinks you’ll win,” Inoran said, grinning.
“Seriously, what are you waiting for?” J grasped Sugizo by the shoulders and pointed him bodily in the direction where Heath and Hyde were lounging on a couch, laughing at one of Shinya’s stories. “Look at him. If I weren’t married, I’d totally bend him over a table.”
“Nice. Does your wife know that?” Sugizo asked sarcastically.
“I adore my wife but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate other beautiful people.” J gave him a little shake. “Sugizo. Please. Fuck the game. He’s gorgeous and he’s yours. If you love him, then love him.”
Sugizo sighed. “Okay. You’re right. I’ll stop this stupid g…” his voice trailed off when Heath caught his eye and slowly ran his tongue along the rim of his wine glass.
The three watched in stunned silence and Inoran’s cigarette fell out of his mouth.
J looked like he wanted to cry and gave Sugizo a big hug. “I am so fucking happy for you, man.”
Meanwhile Toshi had been watching Heath and decided that that was it for the night. “I am taking you home. Right now.”
“But I’m fine,” Heath said, surprised.
“Your game with Sugizo is getting out of hand.” Toshi said firmly, taking away his wine glass and handing it to a passing waiter.
“I wasn’t done with—”
“What’s Sugizo doing?”
“Talking to Inoran and J.”
“I’ve won, haven’t I?”
“Nope, you’re both losers and the game stops now.”
“Okay.” Heath giggled quietly.
Toshi pursed his lips. “All right. You are definitely going home.” He started pushing Heath toward the exit and the bassist went along placidly.
Inoran pointed after them. “Where’s he going?”
“Looks like Toshi’s taking off with your boy,” J mused.
Sugizo gave him a backhanded slap in the chest and stomped off look for Yoshiki. He found him at the bar cornered by Gackt and the drummer immediately leapt up. “Sugizo! I’ve been looking all over for you, I need to talk to you about something,” Yoshiki said loudly, taking him by the arm and leading him away very quickly.
“You did?” Sugizo asked, puzzled.
“God no, I just needed to get the hell away from that lunatic.”
“Yeah, okay, whatever. Where’s Toshi off to?”
“He said he was taking Heath home.”
“Heath was drunk—”
“Not that drunk.”
“—and Toshi’s worried about him. He said this bet of yours is out of control. I kind of agree. It was funnier at the start.”
Sugizo looked down and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Yeah. I know. J said the same thing.”
Yoshiki patted his shoulder. “For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen Heath this happy in a long time.”
“Really?” Sugizo perked up a little.
“You really can’t see it? He wants you. Why else would he be playing the game so hard?”
“I dunno, pride?”
“You know he’s not like that.” Yoshiki said. “Look, forget everything tonight, go home and sleep on it, and talk to him in the morning. Everything’s better after a good night’s sleep.”
“This from an insomniac.”
Yoshiki shrugged. “I know about sleep in theory. But my point still stands.”
Sugizo smiled gratefully. “Thanks. I appreciate it. You always know what to say.”
“Oh shit!” Yoshiki hissed and ran.
A very lost-looking Gackt wandered up. “Did you see where Yoshiki went?”
“Um, bathroom.” Sugizo lied.
“Oh,” said Gackt, confused. “He’s been spending a lot of time in there. Is he sick?”
Sick of you, Sugizo thought, smirking to himself.
Deciding to take Yoshiki’s advice, he made his excuses to his friends, gave the birthday boy a hug and drove home in the warm night.
After Toshi had taken him home and made him to drink lots of water, a very bored Heath lay stretched out on the couch, flicking through TV channels. The pleasant feeling of being slightly drunk was wearing off and now he just felt tired. Worse, he felt lonely. He’d started getting used to having Sugizo around and the spacious apartment felt huge and empty with just one person rattling around in it.
He looked at his phone and thought about calling Sugizo, then thought better of it. He’d still be at Takuro’s party and probably wouldn’t even hear his phone ringing.
With nothing better to do, Heath crawled into bed, not even bothering to undress, and tried to go to sleep. Sleep refused to cooperate and he couldn’t get the guitarist out of his mind.
After what seemed like hours he reached for his phone to check the time and saw that he’d received a new message from Sugizo just under an hour ago. Realising that he must have dozed off for a little while, he squinted at the bright screen.
“I miss you.”
Heath stared at this message until the screen dimmed itself and the room darkened again. He got out of bed and left the apartment, taking the key from the nightstand with him.
Sugizo was woken up from a restless sleep when he felt the weight on the bed shift. Long hair brushed lightly across his bare chest and soft lips pressed against his. Eyes still closed, not sure whether he was dreaming, he inhaled Heath’s perfume deeply and heard his gentle voice: “I missed you too.”
Sugizo held him tight. “I’m so sorry for tonight. For everything.”
“Why?” Heath asked softly. “Are you sorry for telling me how you feel about me?” He was kissing Sugizo’s neck.
“Are you sorry for making me fall in love with you?”
Sugizo’s throat tightened when he felt Heath push his hips against his thigh, felt the hardness in him, and heard his quiet voice: “Are you sorry for making me want you so badly?”
Heath’s lips were on his again and Sugizo pushed himself up off the bed without breaking the feverish kiss. His hands made quick work of Heath’s fine silk shirt and Sugizo slid it off his shoulders, loving the way they tapered down to that slender waist.
He reached for Heath’s belt next, only to be pushed back down and pinned to the bed. Heath kissed his mouth and gradually worked his way down, caressing the firm muscles of Sugizo’s body with one hand. Sugizo bit his lip hard when Heath slid his boxers off.
“God, Heath,” he managed to gasp in a strangled voice, arching his back as the beautiful bassist pleasured him with his mouth. He wanted, no, needed to touch him but Heath held both of his hands down and all he could do was whimper and moan until that talented mouth brought him to orgasm.
Slowly Heath licked him clean, enjoying the way Sugizo’s body trembled, every nerve setting off fireworks.
Heath moved off him and reached for the nightstand. Relieved to have some respite from the stimulation, Sugizo found the strength to speak. “Bottom drawer.”
Though Sugizo couldn’t really see what Heath was doing in the dark, he heard the clink of a belt buckle being undone and he bit his lip again and let out a long, shuddering breath when he felt cool, lube-coated fingers teasing him.
“I could play with you all night,” Heath said softly.
“Oh god, Heath,” Sugizo whimpered again. “I need you.”
His moan when Heath slowly slid into him was cut off when the bassist kissed him deeply. His hands dug into the smooth skin of Heath’s back while they moved together, desperate for one another.
“You feel so fucking good,” Heath said between ragged breaths.
Sugizo had gotten hard again. He pushed his hips up in need; in response to this Heath began to increase his pace and intensity, one hand gripping the bedframe while the other stroked Sugizo’s length firmly. Beneath him, the guitarist arched his back, crying out like a whore, hands clutching at Heath’s hips.
Heath pounded into him so hard that the bedframe hit the wall and Sugizo let out a moan of pure, raw pleasure, coming all over Heath’s hand. Heath kissed him again desperately and a few more strokes later he also had his release, his lean, finely-muscled body tensing up, moaning into Sugizo’s mouth, and finally collapsing on top of him.
Sugizo’s mind clouded with ecstasy and love and lust. A detached part of him said it was all a dream but the sheen of sweat on his skin and the feel of his lover in his arms told him otherwise.
They lay tangled together for a while, catching their breath.
Sugizo ran his fingers through Heath’s silky hair. “I suppose this means I’ve won our little bet,” he said quietly, softly kissing Heath’s neck.
“I don’t care,” Heath purred. “It was worth it.”
The next morning Yoshiki was fretting.
“I’m getting worried about them,” Yoshiki said to the back of Pata’s newspaper. “Do you think they’re okay?”
“I think they’re fucking,” Pata said, turning the page. He picked up a pen to start doing the daily crossword. “Three across. Seven letters, ‘Such sweet sorrow.’” He wrote farting.
“Heath was fine when I dropped him off at home,” Toshi said.
Yoshiki was already calling Heath and then shook his phone violently when nobody picked up. He dialled Sugizo next, pacing restlessly and then let out a loud sigh of relief. “Thank fuck you’re picking up your phone.”
“Have you had a chance to talk to Heath yet?”
“Umm, not really, no…” Sugizo sounded vague.
“Shit,” said Yoshiki. “I just tried calling him but he’s not answering. Do you know where he is?”
“...Well? Where is he?”
“Between my thighs. Did you want to talk to him?” Sugizo asked innocently, and there was a soft giggle from Heath in the background.
Yoshiki hung up and cleared his throat. “They’re fine.”
“I told you.” Pata said calmly. “Sugizo won, didn’t he?”
“What? How do you know?” Toshi looked surprised.
“I just know.”
“Were you spying on them? That’s disgusting.”
The older guitarist put down his newspaper. “You know how I know? Because Heath is the sweet, quiet one, and they’re the ones you need to watch out for.”
Yoshiki and Toshi exchanged a look and Yoshiki said, “I guess you’re right.”
“Of course I’m right.” Pata said, picking up the pen again. “Wanna help me do the crossword?”
“Yeah okay.” Toshi sat down next to him and peered at the newspaper. “Hey… that’s not the answer for three across...”
“You need to stop that or I’ll never leave,” Heath said as Sugizo trailed sweet kisses along his back.
“That’s the idea,” Sugizo purred, and laughed when Heath gave him a little shove. “Got somewhere to be?”
“Home, to get a change of clothes,” Heath said, slipping on his shirt. “Also I was thinking that we probably should do some recording.”
Sugizo pouted. “But I don’t want you to go.”
Heath kissed that pout and got up to get dressed.
Sugizo saw him off at the front door and Heath slipped a folded piece of paper into his hand. “This is for you. Come ‘round to my place later.”
He watched Heath go with a lingering smile and looked down at the piece of paper. Written on the front in Heath’s neat hand was: To the winner, with love from H.
Sugizo unfolded the note to find two tickets to Nine Inch Nails and a key.