Takanori took a deep breath. They’d rehearsed this hundreds of times – why was he so nervous? Of course, he knew the answer. This was one of his favourite songs, sung by someone he’d loved since as far back as he could remember. And he’d be performing alongside him, too. He allowed himself to get lost in that thought, leaning against the door of his dressing room. He sighed deeply for the second time in moments.
Suddenly, a knock from the other side vibrated in his chest and took him out of his pre-show trance. Opening the door, his eyes grew wide at the sight of Atsushi before him. “Ah!” he breathed, suddenly forgetting how to speak. There stood Atsushi Sakurai, arms behind his back. He wore a flowing black outfit, staring back at him through heavily made-up eyes.
“Let me in?” Atsushi smiled warmly. “We have time,” he said. Takanori nodded, still dumbstruck, and opened the door wide enough for his mentor to slip through. Wow, he thought. This is really happening. Fuck.
Atsushi perched himself coolly against the mirrored vanity’s counter, crossing his feet gracefully. Takanori swallowed hard. “Thank you again for agreeing to this,” he managed to say. He could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks, and averted his eyes.
Atsushi smiled again and laughed (Christ, what a beautiful laugh he had), “don’t stand on ceremony, Taka,” he motioned for the younger man to perch next to him (Takanori obliged). “This will be fun. The audience will be screaming about it for ages.” He tossed his head back nonchalantly, staring at the ceiling.
“Still,” Takanori muttered, “thank you. It's been a dream of mine since I was at school to be able to sing with you.” He glanced at the other man next to him.
Atsushi snickered, “don't make me feel so old!” and he playfully smacked Takanori’s shoulder. They smiled together. Atsushi ran a hand through his silk hair, not as long as it used to be, but still unruly enough to cover his eyes. Takanori wondered if Atsushi could hear his heart beating. Calm down, he thought, don’t act so goddamn smitten.
“Cigarette?” Atsushi offered. Takanori nodded in acceptance, allowing Atsushi to place one between his lips and light it for him. Their faces were so close; Takanori swore he could see the other man’s pupils dilate as they locked eyes. They broke apart quickly though, and sat calmly next to each other as they smoked in silence.
“You’ll do well, you know,” Atsushi offered warmly. “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You’ll bring your own flavor to my song. It’s old; it’s time for a new version of it.”
Takanori snorted in a laughter he wasn’t expecting. “Sorry, it’s just,” he composed himself, “it’s perfect the way it is,” he smiled up at Atsushi. “We haven’t changed it much.” I’ve loved that song for years, he’d wanted to say. “You performing it with us will make the audience go wild, though. You’re so loved, by everyone.”
This brought a wide smile to Atsushi’s lips. “You think so?” he took a drag of his cigarette, ash collecting on the floor.
“I do,” Takanori replied. Christ, I love you, he thought. It’s not just the audience.
“I said something very similar to Hide, once,” Atsushi spoke softly. His eyes seemed to look beyond Takanori at that moment. I haven’t thought about him in a little while, he thought, chastising.
“Hide…?” Takanori repeated, slowly. Reverently. Oh. That Hide. They were friends before he died, he reminded himself.
“Yeah.” Atsushi took another drag. “We’d have these long phone conversations, before… you know. Just. Before. He’d sometimes wonder why this business was so hard. And I would remind him how much people loved him.” He would call me up at 4am just to talk about the day he’d had, too. And I’d always answer.
“He was a real god,” Takanori offered, softly. “We all miss him.”
Atsushi smiled. “Yes,” he replied, “we do.” He ruffled Takanori’s hair slightly. “You remind me a little of him, you know.”
Takanori’s heart nearly leapt from his mouth. “I what?” Did he just compare me to Hide?
“You’re soft and gentle, like he was.” Atsushi explained. “Full of energy.” You smile genuinely like he did, too. But I’ll keep that to myself, I think.
Takanori wanted to burst into tears at that moment. But, all he could do was stare up at his mentor, and share a knowing smile. “Thank you, for saying that,” he said softly. Atsushi flicked his cigarette to the floor of the dressing room and placed a hand over one of Takanori’s, and squeezed. “Make me proud tonight, yeah?”
“I’ll sing my heart out,” he smiled.
They stood quietly like that for a little, Atsushi’s hand still holding Takanori’s. Their comfortable silence was interrupted by a stagehand calling out through the door, “five minutes!”
“You’d better go, Taka,” Atsushi said, grinning. “I’ll be out when it’s time. Knock ‘em dead.” Takanori beamed, and, barely containing his joy, bowed in thanks and replied, “I’ll do my best!” as he exited the dressing room in a flurry of excitement.
Atsushi was left there, chuckling softly. “He’s… good,” he muttered to himself. He really is just like Hide, he thought. Suddenly he was reminded – of a night he’d long since buried, along with other memories of the pink-haired man. Kisses, furious kisses and moans and far too many bottles of beer littering the floor. “Atsushi, Atsushi…” he could hear Hide’s voice pleading with him for more. And that night, he gave him everything.
Blinking that memory away like the tears that had begun to form, he lit a second cigarette. He had time before his “surprise” appearance, anyway. I haven't thought about that night in years. Do you miss me, from heaven?
The smell of Takanori’s cologne lingered in the air, leaving Atsushi happily sniffing.
The crowd screamed when Atsushi crept up behind Takanori onstage. The mood was electrifying; some in the audience crying from joy at the sight of him. As he sang, he watched Takanori mouthing the words along with him, his pretty mouth straining with emotion as he looked on. They sang parts of the song together, voices working perfectly in tune. Takanori couldn’t suppress the wide smile on his face as he sang alongside the man he’d idolized since he was a teenager.
Why am I not like the wind, like the mist?
why are there no feathers that float up to the sky
Why am I not like the stars, like the moon, enveloped by everything?
why are there no feathers that
sink down into the night…
They embraced as the verse came to an end, as the crowd cheered deliriously. Atsushi’s hand felt warm and strong wrapped around the smaller man’s frame; Takanori wished he could freeze time in that moment, but of course the song needed singing. They danced around each other, never breaking eye contact. Atsushi looked… hungry, perhaps, but not for food.
As the final notes were played, Atsushi took a low, theatrical bow and winked at Takanori. He slipped away as quickly as he had appeared on stage, and Takanori found himself praying that he would stick around until their set was complete.
Atsushi crept back to Takanori’s dressing room once he’d slid away from the eager stagehands, handing him water and a towel, and one or two (or five or six) who had asked for photos. I’ll surprise him once he’s back, he thought, he’ll light up like a little kid. He chuckled again to himself. Takanori had done a great job, he thought. And the audience loved it, as they’d planned.
Of course, what he hadn’t planned on was that annoying flutter in his heart as he’d watched the younger man give the performance of his life standing next to him. The way Takanori had looked at him… it made his heart ache. And when they had embraced on stage, he’d wanted to keep his arm around the younger man for even just a few beats longer… Atsushi shook his head. Don’t get involved, he reprimanded himself. This business is complicated enough. Haven’t you learned your lesson? But… he couldn’t help thinking of how beautiful the other man’s lips were. Shit, he thought, I must like him.
Atsushi could hear the crowd cheering as Takanori and his band wrapped up their set. He’d been scribbling drawings in a tattered notebook he always kept with him when he thought of lyrics. He’ll be back soon, he thought. He shot a quick glance at himself in the lit vanity mirror. For a moment, he cursed the fact that he’d aged at all. God I wish I was thirty years old again, he thought. Still though, people seem to think I’ve still got it. He stopped himself before fancifully wondering if Takanori found him attractive.
He could hear the band members now, praising each other and making plans to go for drinks once they’d rested for a short while. Takanori’s gentle footsteps found their way to the door. Atsushi could hear his heavy breathing, still flushed with adrenaline from the show. I love that feeling, he thought. Never gets old, does it?
Takanori flung the dressing room door open with a theatrical sigh and was about to collapse on the floor from exhaustion when Atsushi stood up from where he was sat and greeted him with a smile. “Good job, Taka,” he said sweetly. He moved closer to the younger man and propped him up so that his smaller frame rested against his own.
“Thanks,” Takanori breathed, clearly drained from the performance. “You… stayed?” he blinked a few times, trying to wake himself up and register that Atsushi was, in fact, still there.
They sat on the couch at the far side of the room. “Yeah,” he replied, allowing Takanori’s head to rest against his shoulder. “Yeah, I did.”
“That was… so much fun,” Takanori mused, catching his breath. “Probably one of the best nights of my whole life.”
“Really? Why?” Atsushi played along. He grew aware of his heart beginning to race.
“Because I’ve always wanted to sing with you,” Takanori confessed, sitting up. Atsushi wished he would rest against him again, but looked him in the eye. “Since I first heard you sing.”
“Well, now you can cross it off your list, huh.” Atsushi smiled back. He suddenly felt solemn. “You know, Taka…” he paused, shifting position so that his body faced the other, too. “I’m not,” another pause. “I’m not some super-human. None of us are… we’re just people. Regular people.” He gently patted Takanori’s hair. “We’re all just trying to make music, aren't we? Even the ones who are gone… they were just human, too.”
“But you’ve inspired so many people,” Takanori began, mirroring Atsushi’s body so that they both faced each other. “Buck-Tick started a revolution, surely you see that.” Takanori wasn’t about to lecture the man himself on how his music started the visual kei wave – after all, it was practically taught in school.
“Perhaps you’re right,” Atsushi agreed, smiling. “We’ve had a pretty good run, huh?” he ran a hand through his hair. “I just,” he paused again, biting his lip, “I want you to see me as a man… just a man. I’m ordinary.” Hide was just a man too, once, Atsushi thought fondly. We all loved him like a god, though. Maybe we should have treated him differently… not like the god he was, but as a man. Christ, I miss that pink-haired brat.
“You’ll…” Takanori chose his words with great care. “You’ll always be a superhero to me.” He smiled brightly. “But, now,” he reached out for Atsushi’s hand – the elder gave it, and Takanori looked at his palm as if trying to see his next words there. “Now, you’re just a man sitting with me. Is that what you want?” he looked up at Atsushi, carefully, who nodded imperceptibly. He saw something flash in the other’s eyes. Without missing a beat, he slowly leaned forward. Atsushi met him halfway, their faces just millimeters apart.
“Taka,” Atsushi breathed against the other’s lips, “is this what you want?” he parroted Takanori’s words.
“God, yes,” Takanori whispered back, closing the short distance between their lips. Oh god, Takanori thought, is this real? Or have I passed out? Atsushi’s hands found their way to the other’s face, and stroked his cheeks as they deepened the kiss. Takanori held Atsushi’s wrists, fingers gently caressing. He felt tears welling up behind his eyes but forbade them from falling. He smiled widely, disrupting the kiss.
“This is…” Takanori began, voice shaking.
“Shhh,” Atsushi cooed against his lips, “let me kiss you again… please…”
Takanori gingerly straddled the other man where he sat on the couch, his hands mimicking what Atsushi had done – taking the other’s face in his hands as he sat on his lap, Takanori kissed Atsushi again, deeply – I wonder if he can feel how much I’ve wanted this? He thought. Atsushi’s strong hands ran up and down his back, and every time Takanori broke their kisses to lick and suck wantonly at Atsushi’s neck, he grabbed at the younger man’s t-shirt. Atsushi couldn't take much more of this – with a swift movement he took Takanori in his arms and pushed him against the wall, legs still wrapped around Atsushi’s waist.
“Mmm…” Atsushi purred, feeling himself harden and strain in his own jeans.
“Atsushi… ahh–” Takanori could barely speak. He inhaled sharply when Atsushi slid his tongue tantalizingly down his bare neck, pausing to kiss and nibble. I want to leave a mark here, Atsushi thought.
Takanori’s satisfied moans encouraged Atsushi to bite harder. He knew that a mark in that place would be difficult to explain if anyone saw it, but in the moment, he didn’t care. Takanori was his.
“Taka… let me…” Atsushi breathed into his ear. Without waiting for an answer, Atsushi dutifully dropped to his knees and lustfully took nearly Takanori’s entire length into his mouth. Takanori’s hands finally free, he braced himself against the wall with his right, and he rested his left on the top of Atsushi’s head, petting at his long, soft hair as his head dipped back and forth. Atsushi glanced upwards to see Takanori’s head thrown back, almost completely overcome with pleasure. He slowed his movements, allowing the younger man to catch his breath just long enough to string some words together.
“Atsu… Atsushi…” he started, pulling gently on the other man’s hair, beckoning him stand and meet his gaze. “Atsushi,” he said again, drawing the other man close enough to whisper in his ear “please… keep going… I need you inside me right this moment.” Atsushi growled sensuously into Takanori’s ear and hoisted his legs around his waist again. “Yes sir,” he replied.
Takanori grabbed at Atsushi’s smiling face and pulled him close for a deep, long kiss. He felt like fireworks exploding. Atsushi thrust the other man’s legs apart and very gently began to tease and coax his ass. Takanori’s happy moans signaled to Atsushi that he was ready – not a moment too soon, he thought, I’m going to fucking explode. He positioned himself quickly and slid inside. With a satisfied exhale, Takanori relaxed further and allowed Atsushi to enter almost completely.
“You have the most beautiful face,” Atsushi murmured into Takanori’s ear, thrusting. He kissed at the other man’s neck and pinned one of his hands above his head. Takanori’s eyes were wide with pleasure, relishing in the sensation. He moaned with each thrust of Atsushi’s hips, every time he stroked up and down his hot length. He clawed at Atsushi’s back with his free hand, biting into the other man’s shoulder to keep from screaming and alerting anyone who might still be about backstage. When his teeth sunk into Atsushi’s skin, he couldn’t help but let out a roar of his own. “Fuck…” he moaned, “Do that again…”
Atsushi felt a wave of possessiveness wash between the two of them. Tonight I want to leave a big mark on you, you angel, he thought. He continued to bite and suck at Takanori’s neck and shoulders, knowing that bruises would appear by sunrise.
“Atsu… Atsushi, I’m… so close…” Takanori breathed, arms shaking, anticipating ecstasy. The older man reveled in the look on Takanori’s face, glistening with a thin film of sweat.
“Come for me, you angel,” Atsushi answered, digging his nails into the younger man’s smooth back, a hand in his hair. Almost as if on queue, Takanori climaxed, shuddering into the sensation and collapsing into Atsushi’s arms. Atsushi, too, felt the familiar pulsing sensation between his legs and came at last. He kissed Takanori softly, and smoothed back his messy bangs from his forehead.
The pair collapsed onto each other and rested against the wall. Catching their breath, chests heaving with the adrenaline of what they’d just done. Takanori could barely string a coherent sentence together, so contented himself with staring into Atsushi’s calm eyes. He smiled.
“That was…” Atsushi started, pushing his own bangs away from his forehead, “amazing.”
“Atsushi,” Takanori nestled his head into the other’s neck, “could we…”
“Keep doing this?” Atsushi finished for him. He couldn't help himself, and kissed the other’s forehead. “Yeah.” He paused for a moment, and then said again, smiling like a child, “Yeah. Let’s keep… doing this.” He pressed his forehead against the younger man’s, and they looked into each other’s eyes. They knew that they’d changed things – for the better, it seemed.
Takanori closed the space between their kiss-swollen lips once again.