by Murasame

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/70482.html)

Many thanks to my beta crowfish!

Somewhere along the way, life had become even more complicated than it had been nine years ago. At least the road isn’t so complicated. He sat in his Ferrari convertible with his sunglasses on, the desert wind blowing through his reddish-blonde hair. Even though it was a hot, dry wind carrying all the pollution of the day and the noise of the gridlocked traffic, it relaxed him, gave him time to think, something that he considered a precious commodity.

After he had finally pulled himself together from his lover’s death, Minabe Katashi had carefully cultivated a facade of being composed, being in control no matter what the situation. Whether it had been speaking at the funeral despite the tears running down his face back then, or working with new talent, or drawing together the band he’d made over the last year, he could manage the situation, could deal with anything.

He tried to think of work, tried to think of the words to the song he wanted to write, anything to take his mind away from the latest worries it presented. Unfortunately, thinking of the song brought to his mind thoughts of the man who would likely sing it, which offered nothing but a fresh slate of worries.

Katashi knew he had bought into his own image when he selected Sato as the vocalist. Sato definitely had talent rivaling and even surpassing his own at some points. He also had one of the hottest bodies Katashi had ever seen to match that inhumanly perfect voice, and even had known the pain of losing a lover. He had believed he could control Sato, could fix him, could prevent his insanity from making the turn from harmless to pernicious; now he couldn’t shake the fear that he had, once again, encountered something beyond the reach of his words, his wallet, anything he could offer.

Nah, not him, he thought as he waited at another light. The last thing I need is to be the new Mishima Yukio’s partner in the beautiful way. His problems don’t need to become my own any more than they are.

– – –

What was a composer, if not someone who drew order out of chaos, beauty out of disarray, method from madness?

– – –

Normally, his mansion was eerily silent when he arrived home, per his orders for any of the help to leave at least an hour before he arrived. He needed the silence to think if he was sober, and he needed the freedom from prying eyes if he was as drunk as he had been on some occasions. Scandal had barely been avoided nine years ago, but now he preferred being edgy enough to be loved and admired by his audience without acquiring bad publicity.

Yet this time he could hear something that sounded like the strings of a guitar, as if someone was there, playing the opening notes of. . . of something. Maybe I’ve finally gone crazy, like they said I would. But why would I hear his guitar and not his voice, not feel him?

Katashi reached into his pocket for his phone, not sure whether to call the police to report a burglary. Maybe someone had broken into his mansion, playing his dead lover’s guitar before trying to make off with it. The fucking nerve. Yet there was no evidence of a burglary that he had seen, and he worried that he was inventing the whole scenario himself. Should I call my staff and see how I could get into a hospital with no one knowing? Not like it would fucking work. It didn’t before.

His more rational side screamed that he needed to run the other way and call the police. If this actually was a thief rather than his own mind, he could be facing an armed robber alone with nothing but a cell phone to fight someone so dangerous.

At least then he’d know he wasn’t entirely losing it. He’d know that whatever happened to him upon opening the door wouldn’t be seen as his being irrevocably out of his mind or as a grab for drama by yet another has-been. Slowly, he stepped toward the door, grabbing the handle and opening the door slowly, then stepped back in shock at the sight. It wasn’t a thief, nor was it the ghost of Dei he was half-expecting to be sitting there.

Minori? Ishihara Minori? As far as Katashi knew, he and Minori had a working relationship and nothing more. True, they had spent a day talking about life and interests and love while driving around the hills of Santa Monica. That was after Minori had accepted Katashi’s invitation into the band, wondering if reuniting Hex would be worth it…

“Oh! I’m sorry!” The music stopped, but Minori still stood there, Dei’s favorite guitar resting on his shoulder.

“Put that down,” Katashi snapped. “What the fuck are you doing in my house without my permission, you sideshow freak-”

“That’s rich,” Minori said with a laugh. “The person who inspired me the most calling me a sideshow freak.”

“Don’t you know you’re only a mockery of what Dei was? What I fucking was? And now you’re sitting in my house, playing his guitar-”

“I didn’t even know it was his!” Minori yelled, tapping a foot on the floor in nervousness. “I saw a bitchin’ guitar-”

“And so you randomly decided to play it. What are you going to do next, destroy my piano? Break my drums? Steal some money or some booze like any other thief?”

“I wanted to play with you,” Minori babbled. “Just you on drums and me on the guitar. Sato takes over too much with the vocals – he thinks it’s all him. Gizo’s always trying to outdo me since he’s older and thinks I’m competing with him. I wanted to see what you and I sound like, alone. But you weren’t home so I kind of got bored.”

“You think I’m going to believe that?” The question was more rhetorical than anything, but he did really believe it. Sato viewed all of them as his new backup band, even going as far to bring in another musician from his old backup band to pound in the point. They had gotten into a screaming argument at the studio before Minori had arrived that very morning, a fight that Gizo had to break up before it had resulted in physical violence.

Minori smiled at him. It was kind of creepy. “There you go, all quiet and pensive again. You’re trying to actually be a monk now?”

“Nah, people tell me I act too rashly,” Katashi said as he settled down behind his drumset. “And what’s this shit about being a monk? Don’t tell me the tabloids are starting rumors again.”

“Kind of assumed it,” Minori said. “From what a little bird told me, you haven’t even been able to get off since nine years ago, you’ve thrown yourself into your work and anything that doesn’t involve other people too closely, and you’re trying to be more contemplative.”

“If ‘a little bird’ means Sato, tell him to go fuck himself. All he wants is to dominate in some way, to control-”

“Isn’t that what you want too, Katashi?” Minori whispered, forgoing the formality that he would normally use with someone who was almost sixteen years older, not to mention a pioneer of their art. “To be in control of everything, to compose life like you would a song, to protect yourself from his memory?”

“Enough,” Katashi said. “You came here to practice, didn’t you? Are you familiar with any of my old songs?”

“I loved your band. One could say I worshipped-”

“Then you show me how good you are on that guitar. ‘Dying Love’ in three, two, one-”

– – –

Yet who said order and beauty and method were necessarily good? It is imperative for the visual type to escape from such notions, to go beyond such useless definitions.

– – –

Katashi discarded his shirt going into the next-to-last song of the set, when it had become so soaked through with sweat that it was uncomfortable. He sat there at the drums, almost exhausted, as Minori played the guitar solo ending their last song. As tiring as it had been to play a full set after a day of practicing for their CD recording, it had been an enjoyable experience, which was more than he could say for the band work.

“You’re great,” he said airily, as Minori put the guitar back on its stand. “Dei would be proud of you.”

“Of you too,” Minori replied. “You played better than you ever have. You’re like a drumming god.”

“You’re just complimenting your boss,” Katashi said teasingly, laughing as Minori laughingly denied the accusation. It’s been forever since I’ve laughed for real. I think the last time was back then.

“Aww, you’re going into yourself again. It’s not fun,” Minori said with a sigh. “You’ve got to show me around your house. I don’t think I’ve ever been in here, until your maid let me in today.”

“There’s a reason for that. I like my privacy.”

“You like living like a hikikomori in your palace and your work. Congratulations, you do a thousand times better than the average-”

Katashi turned to face him, grabbing at the straps of that garish excuse for a shirt. “Shut the fuck up,” he roared. “You don’t fucking understand me, you don’t fucking understand the pain I’ve lived through, and if you don’t want to leave this house and my band right now-

“Sorry,” Minori half-yelled as Katashi let go of the straps and they slapped hard against his chest. “I don’t understand you-”

“That’s right,” he said, as he walked out of the room. “I’ve given reporters tours of the place, though, so I shouldn’t be so harsh. Follow me.”

Minori followed him in silence, and what seemed at points envy and awe, as they walked through the dining room, the kitchen, the living room. Finally he spoke again. “Why do you have so few things? I get so much stuff from my fans and photoshoots-”

“My life has been my music, my work. It’s my taste to have few things, but good things, things that make me happy. Everything has meaning here,” Katashi said, hoping Minori had bought the lie, as saintly and deep as it sounded. It usually fooled the reporters and other nosy types. Hell, it had even fooled Sato on his one and only visit.

“Oh.” Minori shrugged as they walked around the pool patio, then began undoing his shirt straps and the codpiece attaching his shirt to his ripped pants. “What a very inviting hot tub, I could swear the spirits of the water and fire called to me-”

Katashi stared at him in surprise and, admittedly, admiration. “If you want to use the hot tub, all you have to do is ask, not bore me to an early death. Speaking of spirits of fire and water, would you like a drink?” I could sure use a few hundred right now. Since I can make it look like being a good host. . .

“Some wine from that wine vault you showed me would do,” Minori said as he settled into the hot tub. “You should get in here too. It would make your neck and wrists feel better.”

“You shouldn’t know such things about your legend,” Katashi replied half-jokingly.

“It’s kind of obvious. You tend to rub your wrist with your other hand, to try to not follow your eyes by moving your head-”

“That will be enough about my head,” he snapped before he could really think of what he intended to say. Time seemed to creep to a halt. In actuality, Minori had only looked back at him in confusion for a few seconds before he regained his composure, but it felt as if hours had passed.

When he returned with the wine and glasses, it was his turn to stare. Minori had undressed entirely, and his clothes now laid in a pile on the stone-paved ground beside the pool. He sat there, his lithe body easily visible in the water, waiting. Waiting for him. . . no. Must not think of it like that, can’t think of it like that, Katashi thought, as he forced his body not to react as best as he could. It had been much more difficult when he had been younger, but now he was older, was wiser. He knew he would be betraying Dei’s memory, knew getting into another relationship would force him to give up the control he so treasured having.

Minori could ruin him, being so obviously much less inhibited than he had been since the incident nine years ago. He was too much like Dei. Too open with who he was, too free. Too able to let something slip in an interview, or to post something on his blog about their having sex. Katashi shuddered at the thought. They’d forever be a laughingstock, forever be seen as nothing but fanservice personified, go too far for even their fans back in Japan-

He managed to maintain his normally blank expression while he poured the wine and passed a glass to Minori.

“Aren’t you getting in?” Minori asked. Formality and distance had long since been forgotten. Maybe that was my first mistake, Katashi thought as he sat there, frozen, unable to think of what exactly he needed to do next, what his next move should be.

“Yeah,” he replied, finally discarding his own clothes a few minutes later and slowly inching into the water, never mind he’d been in and enjoyed hotter water in the past. “Sorry.”

“I say a toast would rock,” Minori said almost too happily, lifting his wineglass to touch Katashi’s. “To the past, to the memories that will be with us.”

“That makes me want to puke,” Katashi said, glaring at him. “To the new Hex. You’ve inspired me tonight.”

“Why to a band,” Minori whispered. “Why to something that has caused you so much pain?”

“I don’t want to talk about that, don’t you understand?”

“No, I don’t understand you, remember?” Minori said. “I’ll never understand you.”

“Not that I want you to.” Katashi almost repeated the toast to Hex and the future when he noticed something on Minori’s arm, a small scar running its length up a vein. The pause, while he found himself thinking about how it happened, had been enough time for Minori to touch their glasses again and speak.

“To memories. May they stop causing us pain.”

They slammed the glasses together so hard that both broke into pieces. Both quickly climbed out of the water to avoid the floating glass, yet they were laughing at the irony. Katashi found himself laughing at the memory of his first toast with Dei being when they had been so drunk that they had smashed the glasses, wondering how he’d done it stone-cold sober. Minori seemed to be laughing at the idea that maybe even the glass couldn’t withstand their issues. Both laughed at each other, no, with each other, as they dressed again.

“What about the glass?” Minori asked as they walked back toward the house. “Aren’t you going to clean that up?”

“Leave it for the pool man. We’ve still got almost a bottle there, and it would be a shame to waste a fine night like this cleaning, don’t you agree?”

For no apparent reason, but since when did he ever have an apparent reason, Minori hugged him from behind. All the memories came flooding back at that moment – the memory of Dei holding him during the performance and how spontaneous Dei’s affection could be. He had been the only person who could understand and he’s fucking gone now and nothing’s ever changing that.

“You don’t like that?” Minori said, letting go and backing away. “I thought you would.”

“I like it. I like it too much,” Katashi breathed. “Too fucking much.”

“Let me do it again, then.”

“Not until we’ve had the wine.” With any luck, he thought, his tolerance would far surpass Minori’s, if only because he had many more years of drinking than his companion. Minori would pass out and sleep it off in the guest room. Everything would be as if that great set in the studio, that awkward moment in the hot tub, and that embrace, that embrace that made him wish he could curl up in bed crying and mourning Dei, had never happened.

– – –

Disregarding these useless definitions, can we truly define what is sought in the art that is life?

– – –

The fireplace crackled as they watched, embers and flames scattering about behind the glass, reflecting off the marble of the floor and the glass of the coffee table. Somehow, the plan for Minori to drink had died soon after his second glass. Katashi grabbed the bottle, forgoing the goblets and drinking from it like Dei used to drink.

With each swig, he thought of Dei, thought of Minori sitting next to him. They were so alike, yet different. How are they different? But he couldn’t think of the words, and it was making him mad. So fucking mad, as he watched Minori sit there and drink so carelessly, draining the last of that second glass, looking so happy. So fucking mad.

Katashi threw his nearly-empty bottle at the coffee table, breaking both the goblet and the panel of glass on which it landed. “You are not him! Don’t lie to me! Don’t fucking lie to me, you selfish bastard,” he spat as the world seemed to move slowly, to blur. His hand missed Minori’s face, as Minori’s wine glass shattered on the floor. “Get the fuck out of my house!”

Minori seemed to turn away sadly, but instead of walking out the door, he stopped. “Is that really what you want? Or do you want it like you wanted Sato to take over the band?”

“Why don’t you tell me what I want,” Katashi said, voice trembling as he uneasily stood and paced the floor. “Since you seem so convinced you can. Oh wait, you can’t! I should have known-”

“That I want me to be happy? That I’ve loved you, that I’ve wanted you?” Minori said as he walked into the path between the kitchen and the living room. “You’re right. I want you to be selfish with me.”

Anger finally began to ebb away, only to be replaced with almost overwhelming sadness. “It’s different,” Katashi said, trying to smooth out his voice. “You don’t understand.”

“I don’t,” Minori said as he stepped closer. “I’m sick of playing this game. I don’t understand you, you don’t understand me. That’s fine. I never said I wanted more than one night, more than-”

“That’s more than I can give you,” Katashi whispered, grabbing a pair of sunglasses and slipping them over his eyes. That should do for now. Now if he only leaves.

“But you’ve written songs about what it was like for you-”

“Are you really that naive, Minori? There was only one person who could give me what I need, who understood me. If you don’t remember, he’s lying in a grave in Tokyo. You’re not him. You never will be him.”

“I’m not fucking trying to be him,” Minori screamed. “I’m trying to get what I want. Why can’t you understand that about me?”

Katashi took one of Minori’s hands between his own, running fingers over the manicured nails. How does he not break them when he creates such beautiful sound, he asked himself as he stared at the hand for a moment. “Your hands are far too delicate,” he finally said, the wine slightly slurring his speech. “They should not bear such a burden as holding another man’s life, if they somehow could.”

“You seriously think I’ve never touched a cock before?” Minori said, laughing, drawing his hand from Katashi’s grip. “If that’s all you’re whining about, chill out. I don’t mind what’s between someone’s legs.”

“That’s not my life,” he said, tears wetting his face beneath the sunglasses, despite his best effort to hide them. “My breath, you couldn’t take it away, now could you, Minori?” He could see the puzzled look in Minori’s eyes. Somewhat, he thought, like that time he had been driving in the mountains and a deer had stared into his headlights before running. Maybe you should run while you can too. Stay away from me, like anyone sane, before we destroy each other.

“My love could take your breath away easily,” Minori laughed as he leaned in closer. “I’m amazed at the lack of confidence you have in me.”

“It’s not a fucking metaphor for once,” Katashi snapped. “Your bragging annoys me.”

“What do you mean it’s not a metaphor? Can’t you stop being so annoyingly mysterious and tell me? I promise, no one else will know. You know I don’t like Sato enough to trust him with anything about you, and Gizo doesn’t even know where some of my tattoos are.”

Katashi raised his hands to his neck, enclosing them around it, wincing at the pain in his wrists from doing so. “Fine. You found out what you want to know. Go ruin me to the fucking tabloids and Sato and Gizo now.”

“Why would you think I’d do that?” Minori looked so sad at those words, so stunned. “It happens. Everyone has different-”

“Nothing else works for me,” he said. “Dei understood that. You don’t. You can’t.”

“Trust me,” Minori said, and with that, Katashi remembered blue hair rather than purple, the first embrace of his life from a lover, rather than a much younger man snuggled against him who wanted to be his lover. So many years ago, he’d heard those words the first time. Trust me, I understand you. I’ll take you as far as you want to go. Oh, I do that too.

Except Minori wasn’t saying the last part. “I’m sure I can find something I like,” he breathed against Katashi’s lips. “That you will enjoy as well.”

“I want to believe you,” he said, kissing Minori almost mechanically. Katashi hoped he didn’t notice the lack of emotion, the fervent wanting for Minori to not be himself, but to be Dei.

Minori didn’t seem to notice the lack of passion, or if he did, he didn’t seem to care. “Oh,” he moaned as he broke from the kiss. “I’ll rock you like you do a stage.”

In that moment, those words reminded him of so many years ago, how Dei had pulled him aside after one of their performances. Such a horribly sappy and fawning line, some would say, yet it was one of his first memories of him and how fucking dare you say that, you’re not him, shut up, go away, leave me alone-

“Katashi? Are you-”

“Leave me alone,” he hissed. “Or I’ll fucking kill you.” If he knows how much I still love Dei, if he stays here and sees me like this-

“You won’t,” Minori said warningly. “At this point, you’d feel as guilty for me as you do for Dei, and you didn’t kill him.”

“If he didn’t, if we didn’t, if I’d been there, if I could have called for help.” The fragmented words seemed to hang in the silence that followed for a few moments. He knew he should have pushed Minori away, knew that if he didn’t now, he would appear weak. If Minori and Sato were plotting something together, he couldn’t afford that-

“You can’t live in the past; isn’t that what you’ve said yourself?”

“Who says I can’t,” Katashi said as he held onto Minori’s arm for the rest of the walk to his bedroom, despite his misgivings about doing so. Alcohol and crying had a way of blurring things, and falling would have been even more embarrassing, another sign that he had lost the control he so wanted to keep over his life. “The past was perfect. We were the present, the future, and it’s gone now-”

“It’s not gone now,” Minori said as they sat on the bed, neither willing to undress or lie down. “We’re here. As long as we’re here, we aren’t gone.”

Can I do this? Should I do this? Dei, I wish you could tell me if it’s all right to want this. Is he pretending to be you? Is he going to hurt me like you did when you died so suddenly?
There were no answers, no sudden thoughts, no voice from the nether; nothing to guide him, nothing to tell him what Dei would have thought. Nothing happened like in all the concerts and movies and dramas and music videos he’d watched, for which he’d composed drama, art, life.

“If all you need’s someone to cuddle, I’d feel good doing that too,” Minori said as he moved closer. “I like that type too, it’s so rare to find a man who doesn’t want to fuck the minute you meet.”

“I don’t know what I want from you.” There, I said it; shouldn’t the world come crashing to a halt or something equally dramatic?

Minori only smiled at him, that same creepy smile from earlier. It didn’t seem as creepy now, as it seemed oddly sincere. “That’s fine; we’ll stay like this for now, since it’s making me happy.”

The room was fading around the edges. As humilated, as old as he felt in doing so, he closed his eyes, only meaning to nap for a few moments, but drifting into a dreamless, drunken sleep.

– – –

It could be that there is nothing sought but the confused, sad, sick, yet vibrant and alive art itself, that is life.

– – –

Katashi opened his eyes after what he thought was a few minutes to see that odd cat clock that Dei had given him as a random surprise so many years ago. Four o’ clock? Not a nap, not a night’s sleep either, it’s no good, he thought, as he became aware of how awful he truly felt.

The next thing he became aware of, as he wearily got to his feet, was Minori lying awake on his bed. “Don’t you ever sleep?”

“Sometimes,” Minori said, sniffing at the air for some reason only known to himself. “I couldn’t tonight.”

“Don’t tell me you were worried about me,” Katashi said. “I’m sorry you didn’t get what you want from me. I can’t-”

Minori huffed in mock annoyance. “The night’s not over yet. At least give me a chance,” he said, allowing one of his hands to rest on Katashi’s shoulder, slowly moving it toward his neck. “I can give you what you want, but let me get what I want first.”

“Promise me you will,” he began, the rest of his words cut off by Minori’s lips on his own. His hands strayed to undo the straps and buttons and snaps and hooks holding the younger man’s clothes together. Then he noticed it, when Minori’s yellow silk pants fell off thin legs to the floor, along with his own white jeans and black shirt.

“What are you laughing at? I’m almost insulted, it’s not like you got a bigger one!” Minori said, as Katashi, still laughing, ran a hand down his back and pinched the bunny tail on the back of his boxers.

“Do you like it when I play with your tail, little bunny?” He expected Minori to laugh and tell him that made them even for the “rock you” line earlier. Instead, he sharply inhaled and pressed himself closer. Katashi could smell the floral smell of Minori’s perfume and the smell of the wine, could feel his heartbeat and his arousal.

“Somewhat,” Minori said, in the most deadpan voice possible for his current condition.

Katashi didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. You’re not him, yet you are. He froze, turning away, but before he could say a word, before he could walk away and lose himself in his memories of Dei, Minori grabbed him from behind as he had on their walk from the pool. What the fuck, why can’t you understand you’ll never be him, he thought, yet the words came from his mouth as a moan.

“You know, it would be a shame if you fell asleep again,” Minori teased as he reached around and wrapped the fingers of one hand around Katashi’s cock, stroking in a steady rhythm. “I’m making you hard, aren’t I?”

“I want you,” he mumbled, trying to remember the sensation of Dei’s hands on his neck. Katashi so wanted to recall that sensation of terrified panic. Hot tears running down his face, then the pause, the feeling as if his entire body had been about to break, like fire boiling through him before the climax. Then he was falling back onto the bed, into the bliss that was nothingness, until Dei finally let go. Yet it couldn’t work. The fantasy couldn’t replace the reality enough, and his mind couldn’t replace Minori with Dei.

“If you want me so much, look at me,” Minori yelled, breaking off their intimate contact, balling up his delicate hands into fists. Apparently thinking better of it, he backed away toward the door. “Fuck this. I’m not him. I loved Dei. I loved what he was about, hell, I worship him, but I’ll never be him. I’ll be me and you be yourself rather than this pathetic angstpot, or I’ll take care of this myself and leave you to your ghost.”

The threat hung in the air, almost as painful to Katashi as the memories themselves. “You don’t understand me-”

“I’m not playing another round of that game,” Minori said as he paced the floor, looking almost as if he were going to shoot out of his skin and run around the room. “I want to love you, but only if you can love me for me, and I love you for you.”

“Can you really give me your own memory?” Katashi fell back onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling as he asked the question, not expecting an answer other than Minori’s walking out the door.

Instead, Minori jumped back toward the bed. “Only if you’ll let me,” he whispered. “I’ll take you with me.”

Katashi laughed again, this time a bitter, harsh laugh. “How many fucking times do I have to tell you it’s hopeless before you leave me?”

“A few more hundred,” was the reply. Then Minori’s hand slid between his neck and the pillow beneath his head, his thumb ghosting over his adam’s apple. “Memories can only do so much, can’t they? You need me,” he whispered.

He’d expected a kiss, but Minori’s lips and tongue only brushed his, wetting his lips slightly and making Katashi want more, want to do something that had been so mechanical and emotionless earlier. Yet those soft, gloss-smeared lips were now maddeningly distant from his mouth. Their only contact was that hand, that thumb; he’d so expected Minori’s hands to close and-

“Not yet,” Minori said, seeming to thrill in the wild-eyed rage those words inspired. “Not until I’ve gotten what I want.”

Little shocks of pleasure ran from his neck down his spine from the touch and the anticipation. He tried to lose himself in the sensation of Minori kissing down his face to his chest, finally hard. Yet anything like actual release seemed so far from his reach, so impossible. “Alone,” he whispered. “Need to be alone.”

“No. You, you’re not leaving me like this,” Minori said, his fingers tightening, his voice sounding as if it were about to break, as if he were about to break. That need, that pain, the thought that he could make this man on top of him do anything, could make him risk killing him, it felt so perfect, so good.

“Fuck you,” Katashi screamed when Minori’s grip loosened and his hands weren’t there. His mind whirled in need, disappointment, anger, betrayal in the moment Minori’s hands were no longer on his neck. Then Minori’s lips were at his cock, closed, his tongue only flicking out. “You fucking tease.”

“You first,” Minori said, his voice low, seductive. “Don’t tell me you’ve never sucked a man off.”

Whether he had taken in or had been taken first, he didn’t care. it felt almost as perfect, felt like something missing, a voice screaming in the back of his mind, fire, burning, burning not stopping. Oh Minori, he wanted so badly. Minori, himself, pushing, sucking, needing, could I break time itself? His world narrowed, melted away, to nothing but a faint taste of salt in his mouth. He wanted to scream; he was screaming, nothingness and everything, as fast as any of his drum solos, bliss, floating-

“Am I dead,” he hoarsely whispered, not really wanting full consciousness yet, not wanting to open his eyes and see his bedroom. He didn’t want to see the cat clock or the black satin sheets, nor to feel the bed beneath him or the hangover-headache building behind his temples.

Minori laughed and snuggled against him. “Maybe a little.”

“Remind me never to let you write the music.”

“Like you haven’t written things like that.”

– – –

If this is all that is, let us seek to find what peace we can from each other, if only for tonight.

– – –

The phone left in the living room rang as the rays of the sunrise poked through the windows, past the blinds. Katashi reluctantly left Minori’s embrace and walked back toward it, not really caring that he was nude. “Shut up,” he yelled before he heard the voice on the other end, wishing the cell had a way to be slammed. Maybe I could sleep in today, he told himself, as he searched in the kitchen for a glass of water and a few pills.

On returning to the room, it was empty. The only reminders of their night were the smashed wine bottle in the living room, the rumpled bed that smelled vaguely of floral perfume too pretty for a man to wear, and a small note scribbled on a sticky from his desk.

“We should make this a regular engagement. You know you love me. -Minori.”

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