“It’s not really what I thought it’d be.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I thought it’d be, um, heavier? Like that one band you like. The one that sounds like ten guitars in a blender.”
“I’m pretty sure I’ve never listened to anything like that,” but he said it with a laugh, poked Yata in the side and carried on.
“Early metal was really influenced by blues and psychedelic rock, you know. That’s why you can hear it in Black Sabbath’s stuff. Led Zeppelin too.”
Numata paused and took a sip of beer. Yata lifted his legs up onto the little red couch and pulled Numata’s free arm around his shoulders.
“Judas Priest were actually influenced by metal foundries and, uh, things– one of their albums is even called British Steel – and that’s when it started to get heavier.”
“That’s why that other band you like sounds like someone hitting a guitar with a iron bar then,” Yata said. He patted at his pockets and, upon finding them empty, stuck his hand into Numata’s.
Numata raised his hip so Yata could pull his phone out more easily.
“I like loads of other bands,” he said. “I’m telling you, none of them sound like that.”
Yata didn’t say anything– he was busy tapping something out into a search engine. Numata took another sip of beer and let his head fall back. He closed his eyes and let Planet Caravan wash over him.
“This song is meant to be about floating through the universe with your lover,” he said softly. He heard Yata hum.
“In a spaceship.”
“What?” Numata opened his eyes and lifted his head to meet Yata’s eyes through his fringe.
Numata considered this and replied, “I always just imagined like… two people holding hands and looking at the stars and those colourful bits. No spaceship.”
“The surface of your eyes would boil, the water in your body would expand and you'd die of asphyxiation. You’d need a spaceship,” Yata looked back down at the phone screen.
“Romantic,” Numata sniffed, “what do you need my phone for, anyway?”
“Oh, uh… you didn’t mention that Ozzy Osbourne used to be good looking,” he responded and, with a small laugh, Yata tilted the screen so Numata could see.
Numata let out a noise of agreement and let his head fall back once more. His can of beer hung dangerously from his fingertips, but it was practically empty anyway.
They hadn’t exactly had a good day; they’d been hired to discreetly move boxes from a seedy office to an even seedier storage facility, and– like Judas Priest– they’d been fucking heavy. God, he was tired, and he’d run out of heat patches for the small of his back. Thankfully, Yata hadn’t put his shit-talking puppet back on after his shower, and he actually seemed to be enjoying Black Sabbath, as well as Numata’s little tidbits of background information.
Tucked up against his side, Numata could feel Yata shift slightly and rest a cheek against his chest. A hand was placed gently on his thigh, still for only a moment before travelling steadily towards his…
Well… this was a nice turn of events.
“I’m not saying it’s bad , I’m just saying that it was meant to be my music day!”
“If you don’t think it’s bad, then why does it matter?”
“ Because it’s my music day and I wanted to listen to Dead Kennedys!”
Numata tried to grab Karatsu’s phone, but he stuck it behind his back. Unfortunately, Bullet of Truth still blasted from the bluetooth speaker on the dashboard. Okay, maybe not unfortunately ; Numata wasn’t lying when he said he didn’t think it was bad. He enjoyed some hip hop… King Giddra, Hime, Public Enemy, things like that… but he’d really had his heart set on some hardcore.
He crossed his arms and pouted.
“If you’re gonna act like a toddler, I’m gonna treat you like one,” Karatsu warned, crossing his own arms.
“You’re the one sitting on his phone just so I can’t get it,” Numata grumbled.
They were outside an old apartment complex, waiting for a student who needed help moving. She was late, and Numata hoped it wasn’t because she’d dropped dead. She didn’t seem like someone in need of revenge and she wasn’t going to pay them until afterwards.
“What about...” Numata paused as he thought of something more tuneful than the Dead Kennedys. “Um… Buzzcocks?”
Karatsu raised an eyebrow and gave his patented Karatsu Look™ .
“Never mind. This is fine,” Numata conceded with a sigh.
“Look, we can listen to your stuff on the way back, okay?” Karatsu pulled his phone out from behind him and put it in his pocket. He wriggled in his seat.
“My butt’s going numb,” he complained.
Numata snorted and said “mine too.”
They both grinned.
Karatsu inhaled deeply and let out a sigh. He shifted again and rested his elbow against the door.
“So, uh… how are things, you know, going?” He asked, glancing furtively at Numata.
Numata had no idea what was happening. Karatsu sighed again.
“With Yata, I mean.”
Oh. Dammit. Numata and Karatsu had managed to get through long periods of waiting without having to resort to this level of awkwardness before, why start now?
He said as much to Karatsu.
“It was different before,” he answered, “I didn’t know any of the others- if there even were any-”
Numata let out a noise of protest which Karatsu ignored.
“But you and Yata were my friends before the two of you started, uh-”
“Boarding the mothership?” Numata offered.
“Docking the rocket?”
“Probing the Inner Planets?”
“I hate you, but I think being with Yata is doing you some good. You're actually learning something.”
Numata snorted again, but shut up. For the moment, at least.
He cleared his throat.
“I, um, I think it's doing me good too,” he said quietly.
Karatsu glanced at him.
“That- that's great, man. It's uh…” Karatsu hesitated. “um… it's nice,” he finished lamely.
“All that awkwardness for ‘hey buddy, that's nice’,” Numata laughed.
“I was worried anything else I said would come across as sarcastic,” Karatsu said, “because it probably would have been.”
Numata reached out and laid his hand heavily on Karatsu's shoulder.
“One day, my friend, we shall crack that hard sarcastic outer casing and let the warm, gooey feelings ooze out.”
“I hate you,” Karatsu repeated.
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Sasaki was playing music when Numata entered the clubroom and he had to say- despite the fact that he'd never thought too hard about the kind of music his friends were into- that this was exactly the kind of music he'd have expected.
Sasaki looked up from her screen with a slight jump.
“Yellow Magic Orchestra?”
“Yes,” she answered defensively, “is there something wrong with that?”
“Nothing at all,” Numata replied with a toothy grin, “this must be what your brain sounds like.”
Her lip twitched, and Numata could have sworn he'd seen an error code popup behind her eyes.
Warning. Humour detected. Beep beep.
“Actually, at the moment my brain keeps repeating, ‘wow, Numata sure is an idiot’,” she countered, pushing her glasses further up the bridge of her nose.
“The latest upgrade included a sense of humour, did it?”
This time she let the smile show. It was dignified, and he could swear there was some pride in there. Whether at him or at herself he didn’t know, but he also didn’t care.
“Any idea where the others are?” Numata asked.
“Makino and Karatsu are buying lunch- you should call them if you want anything. Yata’s in a class I think,” Sasaki said.
“Oh! Where are they getting lunch?”
Sasaki shrugged, “as I said, you’ll have to ask them. I had lunch before I got here.” She looked back at her screen.
Numata sat on the couch and pulled out his phone to text Karatsu a lunch order. He was pretty sure Karatsu owed him one.
The synths bounced between the walls of the clubroom. Numata tapped along.
Sasaki’s finger moved over the trackpad, scrolling.
Numata scratched his chin. He cleared his throat.
“So um… do you… listen to, uh, other stuff?”
Sasaki didn’t look away from whatever it was she was doing.
“Nope,” she said, deadpan. “Just this one song. Over and over.”
Technopolis faded and a new beat was introduced. Numata caught Sasaki’s eye and gave her a wide smile. The one he received in return was almost affectionate.
After about three minutes of repetitive electronic squelches and what sounded like synthesized claps, Numata asked, “so what is this?”
“Acid Tracks, by a group called Phuture.”
“Huh, it’s not bad,” he said, and lay his head back against the couch.
It was fascinating to watch Makino work, if a little gross considering the body was at least a few days into the putrefaction process.
Belly distended, skin blistering, nice and ripe… he’d actually been worried about the limbs falling off as they’d– somewhat clumsily– transferred the body to the bag.
She had earbuds in and every now and then she'd tap her foot or do a little wiggle, presumably in time to a beat. She gave a twirl and caught sight of Numata leaning against the wall with a grin.
She wore a facemask, but her eyes scrunched up with the smile underneath. She wiggled her hips one last time before pulling the buds out.
“Smells better in here,” Numata said, “are you wearing new perfume?”
“l’eau du cadavre,” Makino laughed, pulling her mask down. “Anyway, what's the story with this guy? You didn’t even tell me you were off corpse-hunting- I just walked in this morning and found him on the table.”
“We left you a note.”
“Ah yes,” Makino said with a raised brow. “Your note…” She stuck a hand into her pocket and pulled out a crumpled receipt. She held both ends and read it like a scroll.
“Ahem…. Makino. Found body. Karatsu drunk, can't understand. Keeps laughing. This guy stinks. Please do … this last part is illegible but I assumed you were asking me to fix him up a bit…”
Numata thought back through the fuzz of the previous evening. By the time he'd gotten to the end of the note, he'd been laughing so much at Karatsu's attempts to speak to the poor dead guy (he– the corpse, that is– had been pretty angry about that, Numata seemed to recall), that he kept messing up and scribbling out what he'd written. He must have forgotten to actually add in the rest.
He smiled apologetically.
“So uh, why are you so happy?”
“Well, after I got here and saw the mess you guys made, Yata called me,” she explained.
“ Killer hangover,” she grinned.
He'd been there for that phone call; Yata had been sick in his wastepaper basket in the middle of it. It had been the only thing within reach at the time, and unfortunately the bin bag had had a hole in it. Afterwards, Yata had announced he was too sick to clean up and Numata had to do it instead.
Truly, theirs was a romance for the ages.
“You seem alright though,” she noted with a pout.
“Don't sound so disappointed,” Numata smirked, “you know it'll take more than, um… whatever it was we ended up drinking…” he trailed off for a second, “well anyway, I feel okay.”
Makino giggled again. She pulled her phone from her pocket and wrapped the wires from her earbuds around it, then placed it into the metal tray with her corpse-sewing-kit.
“You're going to get corpse juice on that,” Numata noted offhand. He sat himself down on the couch and picked up a discarded magazine.
“I already had corpse juice on my gloves,” she responded, waving her nitrile covered hands.
“Gross,” Numata said, flicking idly through the copy of Kanryu T.O.P .
“Don't ruin that! There's some pictures I want in it,” there was a faint pink tinge to her cheeks. Numata couldn't help laughing.
Her blush deepened.
“Jung Yong-hwa, huh?” he teased.
“ Yata , huh?” she countered.
A smile lingered on his lips as he looked at the page he was on. There was a snapping sound as Makino pulled her gloves off.
“You look, like, fond ,” she sounded dismayed.
Numata felt his cheeks grow hot.
“ Yeah , and what's wrong with that?” he challenged. Makino scoffed and folded her arms indignantly.
“Like… nothing really. It's just hard to make fun of you when you're almost endearing .”
“That- that hasn’t ever really stopped you before.”
Makino tittered and placed a finger on her chin in mock consideration.
“I guess not,” she agreed in a sing-song voice. She beamed at him.
Numata snickered and waited for the onslaught.
Echo and the Bunnymen
Numata had left his phone to play music on shuffle, but the current song was hitting far too close to home right now.
Much like the Killing Moon, Numata mused, he was certainly going to come too soon.
He put his hands on Yata’s waist, and Yata– with his hair messy, his cheeks flushed and his breath coming in huffs – paused. They stayed like that for several moments, until Yata grinned his lopsided grin and leant down to press a kiss to Numata’s lips.
Numata pulled away with an apology.
“Think you could change the song,” he asked. Yata looked a bit confused, but sat up and reached for the phone.
“Um… sure,” he said, “anything in particular?”
Numata shook his head and Yata tapped the screen.
The Lemon Song came on. Yata raised his eyebrows at Numata who smiled softly. He put the phone back on the drawers next to the bed.
Numata let his hands wander for a bit; stroked up and down Yata's sides, round to rest on the small of his back for a moment before travelling down to gently grip Yata's buttocks.
Yata started to rock his hips again, but Numata protested.
“Hey hey hey! I wanted to slow down!”
Yata frowned at him.
“I did slow down, I thought you wanted to go again! Your hands are on my butt.”
Numata pouted. He tapped his fingers against Yata's soft skin.
“I only wanted to touch it,” he muttered. “It feels nice.”
Yata buried his face in Numata’s neck and laughed. Hot breath tickled over his skin, and he could feel the reverberations of the laugh through Yata's body.
“That feels nice too,” he murmured into Yata’s hair.
The song was on its instrumental.
He could see the guitar notes bending and curving in his mind and thought of how pretty the curve of Yata's back was as he'd kissed it, how it had bowed as Numata pushed his fingers inside and heard the quiet moan that Yata had tried to stifle with the pillow.
Yata shifted against him, presumably wanting to get more comfortable.
Numata inhaled and shut his eyes. They stayed like that for several moments, until Yata made a little noise and lifted his mouth to Numata’s ear.
“I want to move again,” he whispered. “Please.”
At Numata’s nod, Yata kissed him– gently at first, but soon deepening. Numata felt the flutter of Yata’s tongue on his lips and parted them. He could feel Yata hard against his stomach, but also twitching around him. He moved his hips and Yata inhaled sharply, breaking the kiss and sitting upright with a cocky grin. He squeezed.
Numata gasped, his thighs clenched, his eyes squeezed shut and he-
“Did-did you just come?”
“Um, yeah…” Numata panted.
“Oh. Is that why you wanted to slow down?”
“You could have just said something.”
“I thought you might be able to figure it out from context.”
“Oh… uh, yeah. I probably should have done, huh?”
Yata moved so Numata could get up.
“Don't, uh… don't tell Kereellis about this, will you?” Numata asked as he pulled the condom off and discarded it. He sat back down on the bed and urged Yata to lie down.
“Why would I tell Kereellis about this?”
“I know you two gossip about me,” Numata said with a wink.
He pushed Yata's thighs apart and settled between them with a kiss to his stomach, then continued. “The two of you are worse than my grandma and Mr. Takeda next door.”
“Oh wow… I wanted to finish, but I guess we're talking about your grandma now.”
Numata chuckled and gave Yata's stomach another light kiss.
Yata ran his fingers through Numata’s hair and said fondly, “Kereellis is fed up with me talking about you anyway.”
Numata smiled again, and shuffled a bit further down the bed.
Yata sighed contentedly and let his head fall back on the pillow.
Bonus: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
“Are you seriously telling me you think this ” Numata waved a hand in the air, as if trying to shepherd the notes into a physical form, “is not good?”
“ As I keep saying, there are hardly any talented Earth guitarists! ”
“The guitar was invented on Earth!!”
“ That doesn’t mean shit! Your earthling ears are so fucking useless you can’t even appreciate your own instruments. There have been maybe three decent Earth guitarists. ”
Yata lay back on his bed and let his boyfriend argue with his left hand.
“And Jimi Hendrix– widely considered to be one of the greatest guitarists ever– isn't one of them?”
“ Nope. ”
“Jimi Hendrix could play guitar with his teeth!”
“ Well, that explains it then. ”
Yata, interest piqued, asked “so who are the three good ones?”
“ John Denver, Kacey Musgraves, Dwayne Johnson. ”
“Two country musicians and a... wrestler?” Numata said with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah, I've pretty much only heard of the Rock,” Yata added.
“ Psssh, you wouldn't understand. I did say earthling ears are useless. ”
“But-" Numata began.
“ Useless! ”
Numata let out a noise like an angry cat, threw his head backwards to rest on the mattress, and an arm dramatically over his eyes. There was a snapping sound as his sunglasses cracked.
“Shit,” he hissed. He pulled them off to inspect them.
“ Ha! Nothing to hide your wrinkles behind now! ”
Yata watched Numata’s shoulders stiffen and sighed, perhaps now was the time to intervene properly.
“Kereellis, come on, you’re just being antagonistic,” he said, rolling onto his side and wrapping his arms round Numata’s shoulders.
“ You never side with me anymore! ” The puppet complained.
“I sided with you yesterday,” Yata grumbled, but Numata had turned his head and had started kissing along his jaw.
“ Great, now you’re going to discard me like one of Numata’s used tissues. ”
“Trust me pal, I won’t be coming in you anytime soon.”