He hated to admit he was weak, but it was only a matter of time before he was standing in front of Dave’s door.
Hours passed with him huddled on the floor in the fetal position, pain and regret seeping out of him. Lars was the one who found him and sat with him, stroking his hair and quietly assuring him it was all going to work out. Cliff and Kirk lingered in the doorway, torn between their desire to help and their knowledge that neither of them knew the real reason their frontman was muffling screams in a shirt. Neither of them knew there was anything beyond friendship within the band, but that was all Dave’s doing. But Lars knew, had known the moment Dave came in to audition for Metallica, and he alone understood why James Hetfield was having a major emotional breakdown.
Crying was such a chick thing to do, but once he started, James found it was damn near impossible to stop. He remembered Dave’s audition, how those green hazel eyes had locked with his as the fiery man finished warming up on his guitar. Quietly holding hands as they walked down the sidewalk, not subtle or obvious, just enjoying the warm sun on their backs and each other’s company. Their first kiss, shared in the private bathroom of a bar, an uncertain but passionate celebration of their first successful show, first slow, then deep and hungry. Being confronted by Lars one after and admitting it was more than their mutual love of music holding the two of them so close together. The night they both had just enough courage to take their intimacy to the bedroom and being proud, for once, none of their courage was liquid. But more vivid than those was the memory of Dave’s confused eyes as James drove away, eyes that wondered why all of their love and work was coming to such an abrupt end.
Despite his mixed feelings about the relationship as a whole, Lars did not leave James’s side as afternoon faded into dusk. He remained sitting on the worn, stained carpet, his callused fingers moving through James’s mussed curls in a slow, comforting rhythm. They had been friends for far more time than James and Dave, and it seemed Lars was determined to keep up their friendship even in the wake of this disaster. Once James had calmed down enough to be reasoned with, it was Lars who led him to his room, Lars who nudged him into bed so he would sleep. Lars who made sure Kirk and Cliff did not try to wrestle the shirt out of James’s fingers so the singer woke with his face buried in the soft, worn material. Lars who insisted James needed to pick up the pieces and move on to someone who could love him without holding him in a death grip and dragging him to the grave.
James tried to move on, but it was hard to expunge the memory of the only person who had ever loved him. He washed the shirt and hung it up in his closet, comforting himself with the knowledge he had a chance to apologize and make things better. But for two weeks, he found himself locked in Limbo, not sure if he could go to Dave, but not sure if he could live without his only love. His indecision was causing turmoil within the band, but they never bitched him out, never told him to man up and move on to someone better after the first time.
He stood at Dave’s door, the shirt held so tightly to his chest he felt like he was crushing his ribs. All he had to do was lift his hand and knock, but it felt as though something was holding him back, stopping him from making the final, monumental step. Before he could summon his fractured strength and rap his knuckles against the door, the door swung in to reveal the classic Mustaine snarl. Dave stood before him in a Motorhead t-shirt and a pair of faded jeans with the knees ripped out, his wild curls an angry as hell torrent around his face. Even though he’d had a whole speech prepared to say to Dave, James found ti impossible to say anything when confronted by those accusing eyes. He dropped his head and twitched when a few cold drops hit his back, alerting that rain was on the way, and he knew his black wife beater would not protect him.
“What do you want, Het?" Dave asked, his voice marked with spite and a hint of curiosity.
Clearing his throat, James focused on a crack in the concrete under his feet and willed himself to begin speaking. "I just wanted to talk to you. To get a second ch-chance."
“You want a second chance?" Dave snorted, the sound making James flinch. "You kick me out of Metallica and ump my ass at a bus stop, and you want a second chance? You give me a taste of what it’s like to be happy, to feel like I belong, then rip it all way, and you want a second chance? A chance to what, exactly?"
“To fix what I can," James mumbled, shivering as a steady drizzle began to soak through his clothes.
He snuck a peek at Dave through his dampening hair and was relieved to see the redhead’s expression softening. Even though his mind was screaming at him not to do it, he took a tentative step forward and held out a hand, the other clutching the shirt tighter. Dave’s eyes flicked down to his hand, considering, before one pale, callused hand grasped his and drew him right up against Dave’s chest. The mixed scent of booze and cigarettes enveloped him like a protective veil, and he was able to forget the liquid ice rolling down his skin, making his clothes cling like a second skin. His break caught in his throat when strong arms embraced him, drawing him close until his wet skin was leaving darker places on Dave’s clothes. Tears welled up in his eyes and slowly spilled over, but he only pressed his face into Dave’s shoulder in an effort to hide them.
“We should go inside,"Dave whispered, lips so close to James’s ear it made the younger boy tremble. "If you get a cold and fuck up your vocals, you’re going to have to put off recording. And the last thing I need is a sick asshole like you to take care of."
James chuckled and followed Dave inside, rubbing away the mixture of tears and rain on his face with the heel of his hand. The apartment was small but cozy and warm, and he kicked off his tennis shoes before stepping on the carpet. Dave disappeared down a short hallway and returned with a towel, a shirt, and boxers tossed over his shoulder, and his wet clothes had been changed into something dry. The Black Sabbath shirt was one James knew well, considering he was the one who bought it for Dave as a nice way to welcome him into Metallica.
“Here," Dave said, handing James the clothes and towel before heading back down the hallway.
Without hesitation, James stripped out of his wet clothes and toweled his hair dry before he dried himself off. Dave returned to the room just as James was tugging the Judas Priest t-shirt over his head, holding a thick stack of records. He said nothing as he placed one of the record player and flopped down on the couch, twisting his head back so he could look up at James with wondering eyes. James tossed the towel on top of his wet clothes and sat down beside Dave as Sabbath filled the small apartment, drowning out the sound of rain on the windows.
They were close enough to touch, close enough to see the play of light in each other’s eyes as they gazed silently at each other. Dave’s hand traced the line of James’s wrist before sliding higher, gliding along the length of the singer’s arm to rest on his shoulder. Even those tiny touches were making James’s stomach twist into a knot, his eyes darting between Dave’s piercing eyes and soft lips uncertainly. He wanted to kiss the older boy to seal their love, but he was a deer caught in the headlights, too stunned to do anything more than wait for collision. But Dave could move, and he leaned in close, his warm breath curling across James’s lips before their mouths met in a slow, simple, unhurried kiss.
The hand on James’s shoulder drifted into his hair, long fingers tangling in the wild curls. A soft moan left James’s mouth as he wrapped a hand around the back of the redhead’s neck, keeping their mouths together as his other hand began to roam. His hand fisted in the thin material and tugged it, trying to close the last inch between them, parting his lips so he could deepen the kiss. A strong arm circled his waist, dragging him up and close, forcing him to straddle Dave’s waist, and he released a tiny yelp when the hand at his waist slid beneath his shirt. Cold fingers traced the line of his spine, as if his back was a fretboard and Dave was working a complex set of chords along his skin. He sighed into the kiss and drew back long enough to pull his shirt over his head, then kissed Dave again, no longer worried about the past or the present or the future.
His hands moved to the bottom of Dave’s shirt, creeping beneath the material to brush the warm expanse of warm abdomen. He eagerly explored the redhead’s torso, growling when Dave’s tongue forcefully parted his lips and slipped into his mouth. They parted for air again, and Dave removed his shirt, tossing it over the back of the couch before pressing his bare chest James’s with a hungry look in his eyes. It had been too long since they were this close, able to hear the rhythmic sound of each other’s breathing, the frantic breathing of each other’s heart. James did not have another moment to think about it before Dave was kissing him again, demanding every scrap of his attention.
He wrapped an arm around the redhead’s broad shoulders and pulled him down so they were laying on the couch, Dave on top. Their kissing was wet and messy, and Dave’s hair kept invading so they were kissing through a tangle of strawberry-tinted hair. James tried to keep those wild curls out of their faces, but it was a battle he soon lost when he was distracted by a hand grabbing his high. Moaning quietly, he hooked a leg around Dave’s waist and rocked his hips up, eyes closing as Dave’s lips traced a hot, wet path to his throat. Teeth nipped at the thin skin over his pulse point, leaving him breathless as he dragged his short nails down the length of the older boy’s back.
Dave propped himself up on his elbows and continued his journey, lips and tongue licking and kissing down James’s chest. He stopped at the waistband of James’s jeans and ran his fingers over the buckle of the vocalist’s black leather belt. He lifted his head, resting his chin on James’s stomach with the smallest hint of a smile, lifting the corners of his lips, the snarl a distant memory. Not quite sure what to say, James just ran his fingers through Dave’s hair and enjoyed the moment of just being able to have the boy he loved so close.
After a moment, Dave stood and stopped the record, then came back to sit on the couch. "It’s going to be hard as hell to stay together, Het."
James nodded and sat up, running a hand through his tousled curls. "I’m aware of that. It’s not like it’s ever been easy, though."
“I can’t promise I’ll stay faithful, not when you’re a thousand miles away,"Dave continued, shaking his own hair back and giving James a knowing look. "I can promise to love you, yeah, but that’s about the only guarantee I can make."
The words were sad, but James smiled and moved to sit at his redhead’s side. "Right now, that’s the only one I need."