“You know what I really like?”
Sugizo lazily opened one eye and the corner of his mouth twitched into a smile. “Sex in the morning?”
“Well, yes,” Heath admitted, and he kissed Sugizo’s shoulder. “But I was going to say, waking up with you.”
Sugizo rolled over in bed and cradled Heath in one arm. “You know what I really like? You.”
“Why do you always have to one-up me?”
“I can’t help it if that’s the way I feel, Hi-chan!”
Heath chuckled at the sound of his old nickname. “By the way, in case you didn’t notice, last night was amazing.”
“When went to the movies, or after?”
“All of it.”
The previous night they had both gotten very drunk and went to a late night session of the latest action blockbuster. It was fun having the entire theatre to themselves and in their inebriated state, the film was actually reasonably entertaining for a while. Then Heath put a hand on Sugizo’s knee, slowly making his way up, and left his hand resting in Sugizo’s lap.
Sugizo had sat very still until Heath started undoing Sugizo’s belt and trousers with one hand without looking away from the screen, at which point Sugizo had him bent over the next row of seats. It had been sexy and exhilarating and a little dangerous. They’d managed to get away with it and Sugizo had swiftly taken Heath home where they had had another steamy and passionate session in the shower.
“Mmm,” Sugizo murmured, kissing his neck and then suddenly stopped when he saw the bedside clock. “Oh, shit! Where’s my phone?” Sugizo scrambled out of bed, threw on some jeans and went around looking on tables and inside drawers.
“Where did you last see it?”
“I don’t remember, Heath! We were drunk and fucking in the cinema!”
“I’m going to be late… I have to… Aha!” The guitarist found his phone inside one of his coats and held it up triumphantly.
“Where are you off to in such a hurry?”
“Nothing, love. Meeting. I’ll call you later.” Sugizo finished getting dressed, gave Heath a quick kiss and rushed out the door.
Shaking his head, Heath slowly got dressed and went on with his day.
Later that evening that Sugizo’s name popped up on Heath’s phone. “Hey, what’s up?”
“Sorry I didn’t call earlier. I just wanted to see if you were available for a late dinner.”
“Oh.” Heath glanced at Pata. “Sorry. I was just out with Pata and I’m dropping him off at home now.”
“Damn,” said Sugizo. “Maybe I’ll see you back at your place, then?”
“All good?” Pata asked.
“Yeah,” Heath said. “He was at some meeting.”
“Must’ve been some meeting to to take all day,” said Pata.
“That’s what I thought, too, but he can be a pretty busy person,” Heath reasoned, and then he chuckled. “Although he didn’t even bother doing his hair before rushing out this morning. That’s a first.”
Pata grunted as he hauled himself out of the car. “Well. Tell him I said he needs to treat you right, okay?”
The younger bassist smiled. “I will, old man.”
Pata grinned and shut the car door, waving as Heath’s car pulled away.
Upon arriving at Heath’s apartment, Sugizo quietly opened the door and found Heath sitting on the floor staring at the TV, game controller in hand. He sat down on the floor next to him.
“Hey,” Sugizo said, gently nuzzling him.
“Hey, you.” Heath paused his game and smiled. “Where have you been all day?”
“Just busy. I had a lot of errands and meetings.”
“How was your meeting? Everything okay?”
“Oh, yeah. Yeah, everything’s fine.”
Heath thought he sounded a little vague but figured he was just tired, and they whiled away the night with hot tea and Mario Kart.
Over the next couple of weeks, Heath started to notice a pattern of Sugizo dashing off to meetings, having to leave in the middle of practice (much to Yoshiki’s irritation), and the odd doctor’s appointment. Heath was not someone who jumped to conclusions but this behaviour was unusual and he was getting a creeping feeling that something was very wrong.
This was producing a knock-on effect when Toshi later noticed that Heath was starting to look distracted as well. He and Heath shared a very strong friendship and Toshi was getting worried.
“What do you suppose is up with Sugizo lately?” he had asked Yoshiki once when they were alone in the studio.
The bandleader looked peeved. “He’s being a little shit is what’s up with Sugizo lately. Can you fucking believe he’s walked out on me three times already? I’m ready to give him a piece of my fucking mind—”
“Yes, because everything is about you,” Toshi interrupted. “I actually meant, do you think he and Heath are doing all right?”
“Oh, yeah. I suppose that’s pretty important, too.” Yoshiki said almost absentmindedly, twirling his hair.
“What if Sugizo’s cheating on him?” Toshi didn’t want to say it, but thought it needed to be brought up all the same.
Yoshiki thought about it for a moment. “I’m going to give Sugizo the benefit of the doubt here. Yes, he used to fuck anything that moves. Yes, he’s definitely been a little weird recently. But honestly? I think that he adores Heath.”
“How can you be sure?”
“You ever see when he sometimes smiles to himself?”
Now it was Toshi’s turn to stop and think. “Yeah. The little dreamy smile?”
“That’s the one,” Yoshiki grinned. “I’d bet you anything he’s thinking about Heath when he smiles like that.”
Toshi chuckled a little at this.
“Anyway, Sugizo would be the biggest idiot to ruin what he’s got with Heath,” Yoshiki said, and played a quick scale on the piano. “And I’ll slap his fucking face off if he breaks Heath’s heart.”
“You’ll have to beat me to it,” Toshi said grimly.
Yoshiki’s expression softened into a thoughtful smile. “Heath’s a stronger person than a lot of people realise, but it’s wonderful that he has someone like you looking out for him.”
“We’re all looking out for each other, aren’t we?” Toshi looked surprised.
“That’s not what I’m saying,” said Yoshiki. “You really love him like a brother. You two are so close and I think that’s such an important bond.” He paused. “You look after him the way hide looked after me.”
Toshi was silent for a moment.
“Yoshiki. It took me too long and too much pain to learn that this is my family,” he said quietly. “I need to look after this family or I really will have lost everything.”
Yoshiki bit his lip to stop it from trembling, and swallowed the dry lump in his throat. “I know.”
Heath found himself lost in his rabbit hole of thoughts one morning when his phone rang.
“J!” he greeted the other bassist, glad for the distraction.
“Yo! Are you busy?”
“Nope, free as a bird today. Why?”
“Inoran wanted to go out for pancakes for breakfast. Do you guys want to join us?”
Heath cradled the phone between his ear and his shoulder while he pulled on his boots. “I’d love to, but Sugizo’s already gone to some meeting.”
“Well what if we come and pick you up?” J suggested. “Ryuichi’s coming too. Are you at Sugizo’s place?”
“Sweet. See you in half an hour!”
As they dug into their fat, fluffy pancakes, J asked half-jokingly, “So where’d Sugizo go without you?”
“Don’t know,” Heath said. “He just said he had another meeting and left in a real rush.”
“That’s— oh wait, never mind.” J said absentmindedly and Inoran glared at him.
Heath blinked at that. “Guys…”
“It’s nothing, don’t worry.” J said quickly.
“J, please don’t bullshit me.” Heath folded his arms on the table.
The blond bassist looked at his bandmates helplessly.
“Trouble in paradise?” Ryuichi asked carefully.
Heath pursed his lips a little. “He’s been acting kind of weird for a few weeks now. One time I walked into the room when he was on the phone and he hung up really fast. He made up some excuse and looked kind of guilty. He’s not a very good liar.” He hesitated a little. “I guess I’m worried that he might be…” Heath didn’t finish his thought and bit his lip.
Inoran looked at him steadily. “Look, first of all, we’re your friends as well as Sugizo’s. Believe me when I say he isn’t cheating on you. If he were and we knew about it, do you think we would keep it from you?”
J nodded. “We’d pull him up on that shit so fast, he’d get whiplash.”
“Yes, but…” Heath looked unconvinced.
“Heath, you’ve already answered your own question,” Ryuichi said gently. “You’re right, Sugizo is a pretty bad liar. That means that he’s not pretending because he is in love with you.” He punctuated the last few words with a squeeze of Heath’s shoulder.
Despite himself, Heath looked away, blushing slightly.
“I’ll tell you what else,” said J. “Sugizo told me about that time you broke into his house in the middle of the night and fu—”
“He what?!” Heath blushed even harder.
J went on gleefully, “He is so proud of that story.”
“Surely it’s not breaking in if you have a key,” Inoran said, grinning. “Heath, come on. Sugizo is crazy about you, and you’re crazy about him.”
“Aww, Heath’s embarrassed.” Ryuichi teased. “Let’s talk about something else. Isn’t your birthday coming up soon?”
“Yes and I’m telling everyone and especially Sugizo: no presents,” Heath said firmly. “That goes for you as well.”
“Aww,” said J. “You should let Yoshiki throw you one of those big parties of his!”
“He’s going to do that anyway,” Heath said. He looked so defeated by the idea of having to attend his own birthday party that the other three laughed.
Heath stirred and slowly woke up to the pleasant feeling of Sugizo very softly stroking his hair, having fallen asleep in Sugizo’s lap one evening whilst watching Star Wars.
“How long was I out for?”
“Maybe twenty minutes.” Sugizo smiled down at him fondly. “You slept right through the big fight and everything.”
“Ahh shit,” Heath looked a little embarrassed. “Sorry. Sci-fi just isn’t my thing.”
Sugizo laughed. “I don’t care if you like it or not. I just like being with you.”
Heath smiled at that. “I’m really glad to hear that.”
“Why would you think anything else?”
“Well… you’ve been kind of distracted lately.”
“Really?” Sugizo furrowed his brow. “I guess I’ve just been a bit busier than usual.”
Noticing Heath’s silence, Sugizo looked down at him. “What’s wrong?”
Heath hesitated for a long time. “Sugizo… we’re okay, right?”
Sugizo frowned. “Hey. What’s wrong?”
The slender bassist just responded with a shrug.
Sugizo made a pained sigh and pulled him into his arms. “If I’ve done something to hurt you, I’m sorry. I couldn’t bear to upset you. You know that, right?”
Heath’s voice was quiet. “Do you think you’d ever get bored of me?”
“What? Heath, how long have we been together now?”
“I dunno. A bit over a year.”
“Over a year and you still excite me.” Sugizo held him close. “I’m always thinking about you. I can’t get enough of you. Remember how I was too shy to ask you out? Me of all people?”
Heath made a noise that sounded like grumpy agreement. “Mmh.”
Sugizo gave him a little squeeze. “You make me happy. I want to make you happy, too, because I love you.”
“I think you’re pretty fond of me, too, considering what you did to me in the cinema.”
“Heath,” Sugizo said, resting his head on Heath’s shoulder. “Please don’t be mad at me. I’ll be sad.” He pouted and made puppy dog eyes as if to prove it. “Tell you what. I have a super fun idea for your birthday. Let’s get wasted and go to Disneyland.”
Heath bit his lip in an effort to hide a smile at this insane idea and failed. “I said no presents!”
“You’re stupid if you think I’m not going to do something for your birthday.”
“Nothing stupid about being in love with you.” Sugizo kissed him sweetly. “We’re okay. We’re better than okay.”
“Yeah,” Heath said, snuggling happily into his arms.
“Can you please not make a big entrance?” Heath begged.
“Don’t be dumb, it’s your birthday!” Toshi said, beaming. He’d been tasked with picking Heath up. Yoshiki knew that Heath wasn’t keen on a big party and decided that the only way to make sure he showed up at all was to make sure somebody else delivered him to the party personally.
Sure enough when the car pulled up at Yoshiki’s mansion there were hundreds of A-list guests already there with drinks in hand. Heath had hoped to slip inside relatively unnoticed but the first person they came across at the door was Dir en grey’s Die, liquored up and very, very loud.
“Here he is!” Die shouted and he might as well have been using a megaphone. Nearly all the heads in the room turned in their direction and the crowd let out a big cheer and raised their drinks.
“Ahhh fuck,” Heath said under his breath, waving at everybody. “Who did Yoshiki invite?”
“Everybody.” Toshi said, still smiling broadly and then several people including Teru and Morrie turned up to haul Heath away, each wanting to get him a birthday drink.
Once Toshi had managed to get himself a glass of champagne, he sidled up to Pata. “Is Sugizo here yet?”
Pata shook his head. “I haven’t seen him yet but he said he might be a bit late. Had some errand to run.”
“He’d better get here soon.”
“Relax!” said Pata almost lazily. “He’ll be here. It’s going to be a good night. Even Yoshiki’s here on time for once. That’s like a miracle.”
“Pata.” Toshi said. “Yoshiki lives here. Of course he’s here on time.”
Sugizo arrived an hour later, spotted Yoshiki and Toshi by the piano and sauntered over, taking a glass of wine from one of the waiters as he went. “Why hello there. Nice turnout.”
“People will do anything for free alcohol,” Toshi said, grinning.
“Especially the stuff Yoshiki gets,” Sugizo agreed, lifting his wine glass in appreciation. “Where’s my birthday boy?”
“He’s in here somewhere!” Yoshiki said.
“I’ll just have to look out for the tall, beautiful one,” Sugizo said. He was smiling to himself again; Yoshiki and Toshi exchanged a glance and grinned.
“Listen,” Toshi pulled Sugizo aside. “What’s going on between you and Heath?”
Sugizo smirked. “Do you really want to know what goes on between us?”
“Not like that!” Toshi smacked his arm. “We’ve noticed that you’ve both been acting kinda weird lately.”
“God, you people are so nosey,” Sugizo said, taking a drink of his wine. “It’s nothing. We’re fine.”
Yoshiki looked at him suspiciously “Are you sure?”
“Because if you hurt him—”
“Found him!” Sugizo interrupted and wandered off.
Yoshiki’s mouth fell open. “There he goes again! No respect at all.”
Toshi rubbed his face and sighed.
“Happy birthday, gorgeous,” Sugizo said, bowing and kissing Heath’s hand to jubilant cheers from nearby onlookers.
Heath giggled a little. “Finally decided to show up, did we?” he said, pretending to be annoyed.
“I had a very important errand to run!”
“More important than his birthday?” Kaz inquired.
“None of your business!”
“C’mon, can’t you tell me what you’ve been up to yet?” Heath asked.
Sugizo patted his head patronisingly. “Not until you’re older.”
“I am older.”
Heath laughed again.
Despite his earlier reluctance, Heath was having a good time. Any party hosted by Yoshiki was invariably a success and nobody could really put their finger on what it was, though many speculated it was either the quality of the guests or the quality of the booze.
The best part was when somebody—and nobody really knew who—started passing an acoustic guitar around the room. Then people were hauling amps and electric guitars from their cars, and for the next few hours, dozens upon dozens of musicians took turns jamming with each other. This inevitably resulted in a very noisy rendition of Anarchy in the UK.
Later, while Sugizo had gone to get some drinks, Heath was watching Inoran play a lilting melody on the acoustic guitar accompanied by U-ta on bass, when he was suddenly aware of somebody standing very close to him.
“I haven’t had a chance to wish you a happy birthday yet,” said Yama-B, extending a hand.
“That’s okay,” Heath said, shaking his hand. “To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of hearing it!”
They watched and listened to the music for a little while and then Yama-B said, “Say, why don’t we find somewhere more comfortable and shoot the breeze, get to know each other?” Then he very deliberately put his hand on Heath’s back and sliding it down.
“Um—” Heath blurted out in surprise. “How much have you had to drink?”
“Nothing at all,” Yama-B said smoothly. “I prefer having sex sober.”
“That’s… nice…” Heath said, awkwardly stepping away. “Thanks but no thanks.”
“Pity,” said Yama-B, looking genuinely disappointed. “If you change your mind…”
Heath still looked a little stunned when Sugizo came back and handed him a sweet cocktail. “What was that all about?”
“Yama-B just made a pass at me.”
“Did he, now?” Sugizo followed his gaze and found the other man some distance away with the rest of Galneryus. Yama-B caught them looking and winked at Heath.
“See?” Heath giggled into his drink.
“Well, I can’t say that I blame him,” Sugizo said and French kissed him for Yama-B’s benefit.
“Wow, hi, get a room,” came J’s deep voice.
Sugizo and Heath pulled apart and laughed.
“Yoshiki sure knows how to host a party,” J added. “Aren’t you glad you didn’t skip out on this, Heath?”
“It is a good party,” Sugizo agreed, smiling. “We’ve got the music going, Heath is getting sexual offers at his own birthday party…”
“Really?” J looked very interested. “Who from?”
“Yama-B,” said Sugizo. “You know, the vocalist from Galneryus?”
“You jealous?” J teased.
“Only a little bit.” Sugizo put an arm around Heath and looked smug. “Why shouldn’t other people be interested in him? It just proves that I have good taste.”
“He’s not half as hot as Sugizo,” Heath said cheekily.
“Jesus, you two.” J walked off, shaking his head.
Sugizo turned back to Heath. “You know,” he said slyly. “I do like J’s idea about getting a room…”
“Let’s get out of here. They don’t need us. Nobody will even notice.”
That was all the encouragement Sugizo needed, and they quietly slipped out the side door.
It was nice to get out of the cold and into the cosy warmth of Heath’s apartment. Heath hung up his coat and scarf neatly on a hook. “I am so tired.”
“Not too tired, I hope.”
“I might just fall into bed. You coming?”
“Just a minute. You go on ahead.”
Sugizo watched him disappear around the corner and after a few moments he heard, “Wha...?”
The bedroom was dark and Heath was too tired to turn on the light so took him a little while to notice the long black case lying on the bed, shiny stainless steel hinges just glinting from the streetlights outside.
“Happy birthday, Heath,” Sugizo said softly.
“What?” Heath looked at him, to the case, and back to Sugizo again.
Sugizo turned on the bedside lamp. “Well, are you going to open your present or what?”
Heath pulled at the end of the long red ribbon; the bow came loose easily and he unclipped the case. “Oh…”
Inside was a new Fernandes bass guitar, glossy and white with two black stripes.
Sugizo wrapped his arms around Heath and kissed his cheek. “You like it?”
“I… I love it but...” Heath said, still stunned, and it all clicked. “Is this why you’ve been running off all the time?”
“Mm-hm. Forgive me?”
Heath closed the guitar case carefully and leaned it against the wall, then kissed Sugizo deeply so that the guitarist's heart skipped a beat. “God, you make me feel so…”
He pushed Heath against the bedroom wall, kissing him hungrily, fingers nimbly undoing his belt and trousers. Heath let out a shuddering gasp when Sugizo’s hand caressed his hardening length. Heath’s own hands were reaching for the fastenings on Sugizo’s trousers and he whined when the guitarist gently pushed his hands away.
“Oh god,” Heath moaned breathlessly when Sugizo sank to his knees and took him in his mouth, sucking at him eagerly, passionately, alternating slow and fast.
“Sugi...zo…” he breathed shallowly. “Please…”
Sugizo preferred not to rush things. Pleasure was best drawn out and enjoyed; it was no fun if it was over too quickly. He got back to his feet; with one hand he undid Heath’s shirt while the other hand continued stroking his erection and he kissed Heath’s collarbone and neck. This all had Heath melting in his arms.
This time he let Heath’s hands wander down to his belt and he bit Heath’s neck gently when the bassist’s hands touched him.
“You are so fucking hard,” Heath purred.
“ You make me so fucking hard,” Sugizo said with a wicked little smile. He pulled his own shirt off over his head and pushed his hips into Heath’s hands. He let Heath guide him onto the bed and let out a hiss of pleasure when he felt his lover’s lips at his cock. Sugizo watched through half-lidded eyes as Heath teasingly licked at his length, agonisingly slowly, sometimes using his hands, long hair brushing against his thighs, until Heath finally took him in his mouth and Sugizo’s head fell back against the pillows with a gasp of pleasure.
“I fucking love your mouth,” he moaned.
Heath just said, “Mmm-hmm,” and the vibration to his already sensitive cock made Sugizo’s hips jerk up.
Sugizo reluctantly pulled himself away and Heath looked put out until the guitarist positioned himself behind him and Heath found himself on his knees, braced against the bedframe with Sugizo’s lips at his neck.
“But I was having fun with you,” Heath said softly with a little pout.
“Oh, I know you can make me come with just your mouth,” said Sugizo, now kissing him between the shoulders. “But I want to have fun with you, too.”
Sugizo continued kissing Heath’s neck and Heath was so lost in this pleasure that he barely noticed when Sugizo had taken the length of ribbon and tied his wrists to the bedframe until the guitarist finished it off with a bow.
Heath looked at him questioningly.
Sugizo smiled and leaned over to kiss his hands where the bright red ribbon met the pale skin. “Just having some fun.”
Heath tugged impatiently at his bonds while Sugizo gently lubed them both up.
All that Heath could do was moan and clutch his hands on the bedframe when Sugizo used one hand to tease his own cock at Heath’s entrance, while the other hand slipped around his waist to stroke the bassist’s erection.
Heath felt Sugizo pushing inside him and he pushed his own hips back as far as his bonds would allow, biting back a moan as his lover filled him and they moved together in perfect rhythm. Sugizo kissed Heath’s beautiful shoulders and his free hand wandered along the pale skin of his body, enjoying the way that his feather-light touches made Heath shiver.
“I love the noises you’re making for me,” Sugizo said in a low voice and his hand tightened around Heath, making him moan again, arching his back, long black hair falling softly like silk across his shoulders.
With his wrists still firmly bound by the red ribbon Heath was at his most vulnerable and it excited Sugizo to be able to have him so completely, to be inside him, one hand stroking him in rhythm, other hand keeping their bodies pressed close, lips at Heath’s throat kissing him tenderly, delighting in the way they moved for each other.
“Su— ahh… harder...” Heath said through gritted teeth.
Sugizo smiled. “I like the sound of that.” Obligingly he began to fuck Heath faster and harder, his hand still keeping pace on Heath’s aching length, their bodies gleaming with sweat, until they both came one after the other, moaning and breathless, trembling from the intensity and exertion.
“Fuck,” said Sugizo, kissing Heath’s shoulder. “You made me come so hard.”
Heath only managed a weak chuckle. He watched Sugizo lean over and take an end of the ribbon in his mouth, tugging it lightly until the bow came undone, freeing Heath’s wrists.
“God that was sexy the way you did that,” Heath breathed. “If I hadn’t just come, I’d take you so hard right now.”
Sugizo just smiled at that. “I can’t wait.”
Heath lay across Sugizo’s chest, feeling his heart pounding in his chest. He began drawing lightly on Sugizo’s skin with one finger, tracing the same shape over and over again.
Sugizo giggled a little. “That kind of tickles. What are you doing?”
“Writing my name on you.”
“But everybody knows I’m yours.” Sugizo took that hand and gently kissed it. “And you’re mine.”
“Just in case,” Heath said, smiling to himself. “I’m going to have to think of a way to one-up you for your birthday.”
“I don’t know that it can get much better than this.”
“Really?” Heath asked, gently kissing him.
Sugizo ran a hand through Heath’s hair. “What do you think?”
Heath snuggled into his arms, enjoying the way that Sugizo almost reflexively held him as if he never intended to let him go.
“No,” Heath finally said. “I think this is pretty much perfect.”