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They were on good terms. All the drama of the past was locked where it belonged, each one moved on to their new paths. Things were going well, and there was no reason to avoid one another anymore. Even their friends in common were close again, surprisingly.

That is not to say, however, that there was not some strange kind of feeling. All was well, but what happened, happened. The weirdness was exactly the lack of drama, the “clean” atmosphere that resonated now. The absence of bad things in the present was also a reminder of the absence of the good moments that now belonged in the past.

They were on good terms, but they were no longer together. They were barely friends. Their relationship had long died, it was about a decade ago, and now they rarely talked. It must be just the way it is. Time goes on and people grow part, even friends, sometimes even family.

It seems almost obligatory for ex-lovers to feel some kind of awkwardness around each other. However, for two people who claim to have left all the problems in the past, ten years was a very long time to be estranged.

So when Hyde got invited to the Danger 5 gig, where he knew Sakura would perform as well, he had to ask himself a couple of very important questions. It was easier to just say “I’m too busy, I can’t come right now”. So that was the route he chose. The easy way out.

He did not confirm anything and kept working on his own projects, looking only at his present self. In the back of his mind though, he had a hunch. It was just a feeling that it wouldn’t be so easy. And as a dozen cancer sticks dissolved on his ashtray, frustrated balls of paper piling up on his trash, his phone rang. His heart sank a little.

“Hello…?” his lips, however, parted in a faint smile.

“Hyde?” the voice answered, confirming his expectations. He did not need any identification to figure out who the caller was. It had been a while since they last talked and it could have been anyone, but somehow, he knew even before Sakura opened his mouth. He just knew.

“Sakura, how long.”

“I heard you were invited to the Danger 5 gig too!” he imagined a hesitant smile on the other side of the line, as the voice that spoke to him uttered sounds of enthusiasm.

“Yeah, uhn, I’m not sure I can go though…”

“No way, you have to! We haven’t played together in so long.” It was one thing to say “how long” to Sakura and another one entirely to hear it from him. Hyde sighed.

“Ah, I’m so busy right now, I’m not sure I can do it, Sakura.”

“Come on, I miss leading you. We can’t do things like this all the time.”

“You make it hard to say no.”

“That’s the intention.” Ba dump. Ba dump.

“I’m not even going to sing.” His mind raced in a labyrinth of ways out. It was supposed to be so easy, but everytime he thought he had found it...

“You could sing.”

“...” You know how it goes.

“You could sing I’m So Happy.” If all the butterflies in his stomach could fly away.

“Just like the old days, huh?”

“Just like the old days.”

“Okay then, you win. But we’ll say it was my idea.” he smiled coyly.  Would it really be like the old days?

 


 

It is strange to hear your ex’s voice. No matter how long it’s been, it is still the voice of someone that used to be closer to you. A voice filled with memories and slumbering feelings. It messes with you, unnaturally, unlike a gust of wind. It’s a jolt from the inside.

A part of your body remembers. Your fingers almost move on their own, as if they could touch him again. There is fire. And there is cold, rejection. Fear. Whatever ends, does it for a reason. The past is a road to be avoided, yet your body moves towards it like it was the way home. No.

Reminiscing is odd. But they were at it again. Music. They were playing I’m So Happy together again.

It had really been a while.

In fact, they were celebrating the 15th. That means nearly ten years without him. Ten years of the drums being played by someone else. His melodies reinvented. His rhythm left behind. His chaos forgotten, replaced by calm mechanisms. The fire was put out.

The fire was put out.

It was gone and extinguished.

Sigh.

Gone.

More cigarettes, please.

In recollection, they were quite the brats. Stupid, reckless and unfortunately toxic. It was so easy to forgive Sakura because no one dared to pretend they weren’t also to blame. It was easy to forgive Sakura because he showed real change. The change was elsewhere though, with other bands, other people in his life. Maybe it was a change in himself.

So Hyde put on his best smile and, once the promise was done, he actually really looked forward to seeing him. It is not like it was the first time in ten years either. It just never got easier either way. But it would be nice. He knew it would be nice.

His heart would not calm down anyway. Or his hands, that trembled lightly as he lit one more cigarette on the day of rehearsal, as he hid away backstage.

Breathe.

Inhale.

He was already there, so he could get it over with… and maybe even have an amazing time.

“Hyde -” the word struck him right through the throat, so surprising he jerked his body forward and coughed until he thought he would choke.

SLAP. Sakura wasted no time, painfully releasing hyde from his coughs and making the short one frown at him. “You forgot how to smoke?” he laughed.

“... you scared me!” He coughed a couple times more and straightened his back. Funny how embarrassing yourself could take half the tension away, but not the insecurity.

“What? I’m such a shocking sight?” he mocked “Personally I think I still got it.” Hyde rolled his eyes a little, but his lips didn’t correspond the gesture. Instead, they forced their way into a smile.

Maybe this wouldn’t be so difficult after all.


To think that one day they made that song their own, and they performed it together as a band. Now, it was weirder to be onstage with people who weren’t his bandmates, L’Arc or not, than to perform it without Sakura or vice-versa.

Walking onstage again, even if just for rehearsal, was a teensy fumbling sensation. It was weird and fun, it lifted your spirits, but you no longer knew what to expect of it. Hyde laughed as soon as he touched the microphone. What if their voices did not harmonize anymore? Maybe they could just laugh it off as a joke.

But the drumming began. Sakura led him, you see. And Hyde had so much more training now. It couldn’t go wrong like that. Once the rhythm walked in, he just flew into the song.

It was not an easy song, exactly. Hyde had to play the guitar, and as simple as it may have been for anyone else, for him it was a rocky path, full of stops. But his voice looked for Sakura’s. It didn’t hesitate facing the mistakes of his hands, it moved forward towards the flawlessly imperfect sounds that came from behind him in the drum stand.

愛しているから (Because I love you)

A jolt of energy.

His heart was not calm anymore. His voice broke, but did not falter. It gave itself in, donating the anxiety from its heart to the intensity of the song.

Hyde glanced backwards. And closed his eyes.

“I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you” - that was nerve wracking.

“I’m so happy with love…” It’s just a song, he reminded himself.

And rehearsal done, Hyde went straight back home. He had a lot to think about. Or rather, a lot to forget. Cigarettes, alcohol, a little bit of work and a long night’s sleep did it. It was a lonely Christmas’ Eve. Tomorrow would be a new day.

 


 

You know, he was not alone with Sakura. There were so many other musicians at the actual event, including all of the original major formation of L’Arc. In a way, it was sort of like a group reunion. A little bit awkward, yes, but nothing impossible to get through.

Between rehearsal and the performances, with every act switching up before they could get warmed up, the day flew by without a problem. The cheerfulness of Christmas inflated the atmosphere of the room, and even the staff seemed happy to be there.

It was a lot easier to remind himself of the L’Arc days with Sakura when L’Arc was actually around. And even though the bass and the guitar didn’t exactly sound like Tetchan’s or Kenchan’s, maybe he could close his eyes for a moment and pretend it was business “as usual”. Like nothing had changed, and that nothing that had died out in the past was missed in the present.

For the first time, Hyde watched all the performances that took place before his. From other big shots in the industry to the solo work of his fellow bandmates. He was awed by Leader’s brilliant hard work, as usual, and inspired by the breeziness of SOAP’s performance, which contained every bit of Ken-chan’s sense of humour and radiant musicianship. Through and through, it felt like a celebration, not of the past, but of what simply was, and for a couple of moments, Hyde forgot about the things that fretted his mind.

Soon enough, the actual party began. It felt more like New Year’s Eve than Christmas, maybe because there were so many people there, maybe because they had so much to drink, but those details didn’t seem to matter.

In that crowded, dark space, it was like Sakura had disappeared out of sight. Blurred between all the industry seniors and juniors gathering all around him, the alcohol entering his system, the music and chatter in the background, the smiles you could not tell from lies and truth, the room seemed to spiral down.

He called his ride home not that long after Christmas had ended, and he did not know if it was just the social exhaustion or something more, but he felt empty inside. Passing by every light, he remembered the last Christmas he spent with Sakura.

It was 1996, and they had a special Carnival of True concert, a celebration of the holidays, a celebration of True. Sakura was so nice to him that day. He wasn’t high as usual. They performed a little magic show for the crowd, it was so stupid they had to make a huge effort not to laugh. Usually that would make them feel like losers, but that day it was some kind of a win. As soon as the concert was over, Sakura took him on his shoulders and snatched him away before he even noticed. It felt loving.

Back then, Hyde felt like he had a piece of Sakura that belonged to no one else. The way he looked at him, talked to him, touched him, it all felt so different and special. He loved him, but he also loved being loved by him. It didn’t matter that it was a secret to the world, it didn’t matter that it was so complicated. Of course it hurt, but all the pain made it feel like the good moments were all the more earned.

Hyde scoffed. Hard earned love, painfully predestined. That was youthful. Life was made of failed marriages and broken-up first loves. Nothing from fairy tales.

No undying feelings. No heartfelt reunions. Nothing.

It was a lonely Christmas after all, and he had to wonder if he expected it to be any different. If deep inside he desired it to be any different.

Days before, Hyde thought the last thing he wanted was to face Sakura. Why did he feel so empty inside now?

Well, he was home now. He’d fill up the bath, have some more wine and maybe go to bed again. An uneventful end to an eventful night. And as he was about to take off his shirt, the doorbell rang.

Ba-dump. Ba-dump. Ba-dump. Ba-dump. Ba-dump.

He opened it.

It was Sakura.

A million different scenarios skipped through Hyde’s mind in the quarter of a second after he saw that face, even more so than during his hesitant walk to the door. Life, however, was slower and that much more complicated, so when words finally came to his mouth, all he muttered back to him was:

“Uhm… hello? Did I forget something with you?” His mind basically did not even register Sakura’s first words.

“No…” Sakura ran his hand on his hair, pulling it out from his face, like he had always done when he couldn’t just pace around “I just wanted to talk. Check in on you, y’know. We barely talked out there.”

“Ah…” Hyde scratched his head. “Well, come in, come in.” That was a little awkward. “Make yourself at home, I’ll pour some wine for you…”

“Some beer is fine.” Sakura said.

Hyde sneered a little. “So macho.” Sakura chuckled in return.

“I’ll have whatever you’re having then.” Sakura bowed sarcastically, promising to be a good guest. Hyde eyed him suspiciously before pouring some wine and sitting down on the sofa with his unexpected guest.

“So how are you then?” An ice-breaker.

“I’m fine, I’m fine. In between gigs. I’m playing the guitar now for Lion Heads.”

“Yeah, cool. I uh, I’m doing my solo stuff too, I released an album this year… I’ve been writing some songs for L’Arc too…” Sakura smiled.

“How are things with L’Arc?” that was the equivalent of his ex asking about his other ex, or however the hell Hyde managed to wrap his head around the awkward situation that was going on.

“I’m uh… It’s good, it’s good.” He scratched his head again, his eyes wandering anywhere in the room as long as it was away from Sakura’s.

“It’s okay, Hyde. I mean it.” Hyde’s heart sank a little, and he forced his eyes to look back at the man observing him from the seat next to him in the couch.

“Is it?” Some questions were always there, like a lump on the throat, just waiting to be asked.

“It is.” He nodded sympathetically. It felt like a kick in the nuts to receive sympathy from the man who went to jail for their past mistakes.

Hyde sighed and poured more wine.

“I guess I just always wondered if it really was alright.” He stared into the ceiling, sipping his drink, perhaps talking more to himself than the man near him.

“If things had been any different it wouldn’t be alright.” Sakura sighed too, chugging his entire glass.

“... what do you mean?” Hyde looked from the corner of his eyes.

“I mean I wasn’t okay. It is what it is. I’m fine now.” Sakura’s words were firm, but Hyde’s heart was riddled with guilt and relief, one piling up over the other. “You couldn’t have helped me, Hyde.”

What came out of Hyde’s mouth could have been either a sob or a chuckle. But of course he pretended it was the latter.

“If you say so…”

“It was fun today. And yesterday, for that matter.” A welcome change of topic.

Hyde smiled. “It was. Even Yukkie was there. It was nice getting together.”

Sakura punched his arm lightly as Hyde laughed. “Yeah, it was.”

“Ouch, what was that for?”

Sakura lit a cigarette. “For you, acting like that.” Hyde asked for one too, but instead of using the lighter, Sakura gestured for Hyde to come closer. One stick lights the other. The smoke blurring their faces away. A pause.

“I always think about you when I play I’m So Happy.”

Those words could have come out of either one’s mouth. And maybe it wasn’t necessary to say the words that came after, but it made the entire difference.

“Me too.”

Suddenly, there wasn’t anything standing in between them. There was no distance. No lack of communication. No absence. No time. No words. There was nothing.

There were only them. And their kiss.

They may have been older. They may have smelled different, tasted different. But somehow, it was still the same.

Hyde felt those differences with his fingers, the way Sakura’s arms grew around him bigger than before, but his own fingers still found his way onto his hair and his tongue inside his mouth, his body looking for the reminiscing of the Sakura he used to know, for the essence of the person it loved.

It looked for the similarities in his taste, the lingering of his past scent, he disappeared in the pressure of his lover’s weight against his own body. All of those things belonged to the Sakura he used to know.

Even though he knew he wasn’t the same. Ah, his fingers, his body, however, they worked on the memory alone. A moment of soul searching. He ran his hand through Sakura’s hair, feeling every inch of it, noticing in every detail how it parted from the past. It was no longer so rough, but soft and straight.

Hyde licked his ear, imagining flowers on his skin. He held him so tight, he did not remember ever being so close to anyone.

When Hyde backed away to breathe, Sakura’s tongue immediately came searching for his. They entangled like counterparts, without resistance or hesitation. Some things were more than reminiscence. They had never had a kiss like that before.

And if a moment ago he backed away, now he moved forward, his nose rubbing violently against Sakura’s face as he bit his lips, his small body attempting to turn them over, yet being met by a strong, rock stiff figure who pushed him down, not moving an inch away.

So Hyde pulled Sakura down on top of him, his hands cupping his lover’s face, one knee bending upward as his right leg still struggled under the other’s body. If before he had felt like his chest would explode, now all that remained were shambles. Still, his anxious hands tugged on the back of Sakura’s neck, making a mess out of his hair.

Sakura adjusted himself on top of his lover, Hyde’s knees cuping his body, his weight almost completely resting on the one below him, their bodies separated only by the clothes that remained. Supporting himself with his right arm, Sakura’s left hand traveled through Hyde’s body, from his chest to the side of his hips’ and upwards again. He buried his face on Hyde’s neck, inhaling deeply as he appreciated him with his other senses. Hyde sighed loudly.

Slowly, Sakura’s hand traveled up Hyde’s shirt. The singer held his breath. Sakura looked up at him, raising his chest only enough to admire the one beneath him, his hands continuously travelling up, reaching a nipple that begged to be touched. Hyde gasped.

With slow, circular movements, Sakura caressed him from under his shirt. It was tight and, soon enough, sweaty, but he didn’t care. He spread his fingers, his hand reaching for the opposite nipple on that small chest. He sat up and lifted Hyde’s shirt with both hands. Their eyes were locked.

He caressed Hyde’s waist, cupping his torso as his face travelled downwards, kissing the middle of his chest, his nipples, his stomach, his navel, from which he licked until reaching Hyde’s belt, provoking unsuspecting moans. He rubbed his face on Hyde’s soft skin, feeling on his cheekbones the goosebumps he gave him, and tugged down on those tight jeans, but they wouldn’t budge. He sighed.

“Look at me” Sakura said as he crawled up Hyde’s body again. Hyde responded quietly, parting his lips softly as Sakura stroked his hair. Almost involuntarily, Sakura’s lips moved forward, meeting Hyde’s. He didn’t even remember what he was going to say.

Hyde’s hands ran through Sakura’s back, pulling up his shirt as their tongues continued their frantic dance. They only paused for Sakura to remove his shirt completely, revealing his nude torso to the lover who gasped and smirked softly as he reminisced on the first time he had the pleasure of this vision, back in the day. When he couldn’t actually touch his skin. So that’s what he did now.

The tips of Hyde’s fingers travelled through Sakura’s skin, touching it barely enough to tickle, from his abdomen to his chest and his back. Hyde played with the sensitivity of his skin, drawing flowers over him as the very last hair of his body vibrated with that touch.

The singer’s lips moved in the direction of the drummer’s neck, sucking and nibbling on him, as he undid his own belt, no insecurities, nothing hold him back. Sakura responded by removing his own with much clumsier, more aggressive movements.

Hyde laid back. Sakura smiled. It was time to work his magic and please the princess below him. He planted a soft kiss on Hyde’s forehead and, now that his jeans were unburned by that dreadful belt, he removed them with one rough movement, startling the scaredy kitten to the point of making him hold onto the sofa. Sakura laughed and, without any ceremony, spread Hyde’s legs.

“You haven’t changed.” Hyde whined.

“Did you want me to?” before Hyde could formulate any coherent words, Sakura’s wet finger found its way in. Not that it took Sakura any long at all.

Hyde bit his lip, his nails clenching onto the sofa as he held on for his life. His chest moved deeply up and down while Sakura carefully felt him up inside, smirking at how ready and clean he found Hyde, even if he was a bit tight. Hyde stared at him with the anxiety of someone who did not want to reveal his secrets, and Sakura indulged him by keeping his mouth shut, even as his smile suggested otherwise.

A second finger was welcomed in with gentle pulsating. Hyde’s fingers at last eased onto the cushion and he allowed himself to lay back again, moaning in response to the circular and forward movements happening inside. His right hand involuntarily looked for his cock, but before he could do anything with it, Sakura lowered his own pants and placed Hyde’s hand where it belonged: on him.

A fire lit up inside him. Touching Sakura, again. He was so close, and yet it only began to feel real then. And surreal, all the same. His cock squirted the first drops of precum as he touched Sakura’s manhood, analysing it rather than pleasing him.

Sakura smirked. “You missed me, huh.”

Hyde breathed heavily in return, closing his eyes as he stroked Sakura faster, causing the drummer to groan and move his body forward, his fingers rocking harder and faster inside Hyde. Both gasped and before their rhythm gained momentum, Hyde broke apart from Sakura to pull him up and take his full length inside his mouth.

“Fuck…” his wet hand entwined on Hyde’s hair, holding him firmly, instinctively thrusting his hips forward. He did not need to do it though. Hyde deep throated him like Sakura’s dick was water from the holy fountain. Every last drop counted.

Hyde smiled around his work, pleased with the honors, as Sakura fucked his mouth. His hands moved to touch himself again, he could barely take it anymore.

“Ah…” Sakura groaned almost in annoyance and pushed Hyde back down onto the sofa. He couldn’t take it anymore. “I’m going to fuck you.”

Hyde’s legs spread themselves for Sakura before his mind could begin to register the words said to him. Ah, the memories. They made his body move on its own. He had been ready for longer than he knew.

Sakura pulled out a wallet from his back pocket, taking off a lubed condom. He pulled his jeans further down and moved towards Hyde, gripping the back of his thighs and pushing them down until his small legs’ and torso were pressed together to the end of his flexibility.

“Please…” Hyde begged. Sakura’s grip on his thighs tightened.

“Please what?” Hyde could feel Sakura’s breathing on his ear, his husky voice touching his skin.

“Please… Don’t make me wait… Yacchan…” Reminiscence.  

“Wait for what?” Sakura’s lips practically touched Hyde’s ear.

“Fuck me… Make me come…” he moaned his words out. Sakura shut his eyes and found his way in, a single thrust into Hyde’s soft depths.

Hyde yelped and tightened around him, his entire body embracing Sakura down to the very core. His lover’s scent, the hair falling on his face, it relaxed him, welcoming the thrusts that came next. The soft, the rough. The circular, the forward.

His legs parted as wide as they could, moving upwards until they cradled Sakura’s shoulders. His body made way for his lover, craving contact, to be as close as humanly possible, to feel the thrusts deep inside as they synchronized.

Sakura slipped out and with a rough yet swift movement, turned Hyde around on his stomach, pulling his hips upward and fucking him on all fours. The singer cried out continuously, a moan following each thrust as his head sank onto the cushion, his lips covering it in drool as his ass met his lover’s dick. He could feel himself dripping, his entire body melting away as his body squirted a jet on the sofa below him.

The aggressive movements, being fucked like a dog, they could taste love. They tasted it with the sweat of their own skin. They tasted in reminiscence brought to reality. They tasted it like Sakura’s nails tasted the blood on Hyde’s waist. And Hyde knew in his dirtiest dreams he wanted to feel Sakura dripping inside of him without any restraints. He wanted to feel like he belonged to him.

They collapsed onto the couch, conveniently not looking at each other, and breathed deeply as they tried to comprehend what had just happened. They fell asleep before they could come to any conclusion.

But what had started that night did not disappear into a hasty Christmas dream. And it did not end without further ado.

Something had changed, not on the Christmas of 2006, but along the ten years they had spent apart. And they were not the same anymore. What Hyde did not realize is that maybe that was a good thing.

And just like he would have done ten years ago, Sakura called him again. And again. But this Hyde picked up the phone. And this Sakura would not miss his commitments.

It was not simply reminiscence.

They picked up their pieces day after day.

After day.

After day.