“A shot of whiskey is a toast to your victory. You win, you drink, you celebrate. But you indulge to long in your victory or too frequently you forget your real ambition, your real…target.”
“For you,” Nikki said shoving the phone forward.
“Yeah?” Izzy yawned into the receiver. “Mm, what? Oh. Yeah. Yeah I’m on the bus.” Izzy hung up the phone. He blinked a few times, rubbing his eyes. They widened slightly at seeing the entire Crue starring back at him. “Shit. If you’re gonna beat me up, can you avoid the ribs? I broke one already and don’t feel like losing another.”
“No one’s going to touch you,” Nikki said. “You can go back to sleep.”
“You can stay if you want, but if you’d rather switch buses, you’re welcome to it.” Tommy added. Nikki shot him a warning glance, but Izzy had already curled himself back under the table and fallen asleep.
“Thanks,” he mumbled softly before closing his eyes. Nikki smiled.
The guitarist slept soundly, despite the constant phone ringing. Duff was angry. Axl was angry. Steven was calling because the Crue didn’t answer when Axl and Duff called. Slash even got roped into calling once, probably as a result of Axl’s nagging. Vince had gotten fed up with the constant ringing and ripped out the phone jack.
Silence fell over the Motley bus. Nikki sat with his legs stretched over the table that Izzy was curled under. Nikki liked it there. He liked watching Izzy sleep. He looked peaceful, innocent, and vulnerable. The bassist licked his lips as he eyed the erotic lanky body. Once in a while he would shift and his t-shirt would ride up, baring lush flesh.
Tommy and Mick took turns sitting at the table with Nikki. Tommy curled his legs into his chest as he talked or played cards with Nikki. Mick made up a drinking game where every time they passed corn they had to take a shot of Jack, which led to Mick falling asleep in his favorite leather chair. Vince kept his distance from Izzy., honoring the warning Nikki had given him.
The rustling of jeans caused Nikki to pause in doodling lyrics on a napkin. Peering down at the guitarist with a soft smile, Nikki watched him come to life. Shifting slightly, the guitarist blinked several times rubbing his eyes as they adjusted to the glowing dusky orange afternoon light.
“Good morning, sleeping beauty.” Nikki teased as Izzy yawned and stretched. “Sleep well?”
“Mmm,” Izzy replied distantly as he poked his head above the tabletop. Tommy shifted, giving him room to fully emerge. Izzy pulled himself onto the bench, scratching his head as his tangled hair fell over his eyes. He leaned back, his mouth gaping.
“I know what you need,” Nikki said with a snicker. He took the fresh cigarette out of his lips and stuck it in Izzy’s, closing his jaw around it. “Inhale.”
“I think I could get used to this.” Izzy smiled wide, taking the stick away, exhaling a long plume of smoke.
“Don’t bother.” Tommy laughed, clapping him on the shoulder. “Nikki doesn’t always show his sweet side.” Nikki frowned at the giggling drummer, but Izzy just smirked lazily at the bassist, ignoring the drummer.
“So is this just the way you treat me or do you treat everyone not in your band this nice?” Izzy asked. Nikki’s eyes shot back to the guitarist. Warmth flooded his veins at the satiated teasing look on Izzy’s face. He was adorable, a delightful tease as well as a pleasure to tease.
“Only the people who are worth my time,” Nikki said giving a short laugh.
“I’m beginning to think I just might be worth your time,” Izzy said with an amused smirk. He moved forward flicking off loose ashes into the ashtray. He paused, catching the angry stare from the blonde singer. “Hey man, I’m sorry.”
Vince’s eyes widened.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt Nik,” Izzy said. Nikki shuddered pleasantly at the sound of his prey speaking his name or rather nickname. Izzy turned to Tommy. “And I’m sorry about Duff. He’s kinda like the big brother of the band. He’s not going to do anything else though.”
Vince nodded respectfully.
“It’s cool, dude,” Tommy said grinning wide.
“I guess I should apologize to you too, eh?” Izzy said looking back at Nikki. “I did punch you pretty good.”
“I pissed you off. Whatever,” Nikki dismissed it.
“Something like that, I guess,” Izzy said nonchalant.
“You play cards?” Nikki asked.
“As long as we’re not playing for clothes.” Izzy flicked more ashes off the tip of the cigarette, grinning as Mick silently strolled over, taking a seat beside Nikki shuffling the cards as deafly as he had come over.
“Gotten buck ass naked before?” Tommy asked impulsively. Vince laughed loudly. Nikki smirked as Izzy gave an amused snort.
“Not often. Slash was always too happy to get naked. Axl was a tough challenge to get naked. He was a fucking card sharp.”
“You guys play a lot?” Tommy asked.
“Less than you think.” Izzy shrugged. Vince had pulled up a chair to the table after getting the go-ahead from Nikki.
“So if we’re not playing for clothes, what are we playing for?” Vince asked, throwing back a long swig of Jack.
“Money?” Tommy asked.
“Does anyone have any?” Vince asked. The other musicians responded with silence.
“We have liquor,” Izzy said. The others readily agreed. “But let’s make it interesting…”
Nikki’s eyes locked onto the guitarist who shifted in to a more upright position, leaning forward on his elbows. That same fierce sexual beast that possessed Izzy that night in the dark room at the club was snapping and curling his lips, licking them in preparation.
“Instead of the loser drinking, the winner has to do a shot.”
“Why? Then what’s the incentive to win if you’re going to get too drunk to play?” Tommy asked looking incredulously at the Gunner. The guitarist gave a half smile that Nikki felt it had to be for him. It had hints of sex crackling throughout it. Unaware by anyone, Mick dealt the cards.
“A shot of whiskey is a toast to your victory. You win, you drink, you celebrate. But you indulge in your victory too long or too frequently - you forget your real ambition, your real…target.” He teased the rims of the cards with the pads of his fingertips as his eyes remained fixated on Nikki, causing the bassist to bite his cheek to keep from groaning.
“So if you win a lot, you get really drunk and happy and end up loosing. But if you lose a lot, you’re sober and a looser.” Tommy mulled over looking at Izzy with an incredulous frown. “Seems like you’re screwed either way.”
“In all victoryies there comes a level of consequences,” Izzy said, as he broke eye contact with Nikki. “That’s something I learned awhile ago.”
“Someone close to you taught you that?” Tommy probed. Izzy’s eyes flashed heatedly. Nikki wanted to kiss Tommy for his ADHD.
“Something like that.” Izzy dismissed, but pain flickered in his dark irises.
“It makes sense,” Mick said, causing everyone to turn to look at him. “Wars are won, yet soldiers and civilians have to die for the victory and there is always a losing side. Love is found between two people, but their independence is sacrificed for the other’s well being. Let’s play.”
No more was said on the subject as they began their game. Vince, too eager for the alcohol, played hard and won several rounds right away. He was laughing and hiccupping before Izzy needed a third cigarette. Tommy was feeling happy, but not yet drunk. No one could tell whether the sunglass shaded Crue guitarist was drunk or not.
Nikki was the most sober, because he loved watching Izzy play. The guitarist analyzed situations carefully; folding quickly, yet playing his hot hands even more subtly than when he folded. He could bluff without the aide of a hat or shades. The determination and temperance that flooded his stoic face was breathtaking. Half the time, Nikki just couldn’t concentrate and ended up folding or having to chug a beer, which they inducted as a new rule for the looser.
The intoxicated Crue half stumbled half walked to their respective bunks. Izzy yawned and stretched his wiry limbs. Nikki responded with cocking his head toward the bedroom door. The guitarist gave a brief nod as he walked forward, stripping off his t-shirt before disappearing into the room.
Nikki’s smile widened lecherously as he quickly followed. As he stripped his own clothes, he peered down at the guitarist snuggled under the blankets, already dozing. He wasn’t sure what to make of Izzy’s attitude, but slid between the sheets nonetheless. Izzy instantly curled his body into Nikki’s warm hip, one arm strewn across the bassist’s pelvis.
“I guess this is my victory then.” Nikki taunted with a triumphant smirk as he began to stroke the guitarist’s hair.
“And I thought I was being all coy.” Izzy smiled into Nikki’s naked flesh. Nikki grinned as his caress slipped down to Izzy’s neck.
“Your eyes gave it away, sweetheart.”
“How’d you pick that pet name for me?”
“Dunno. Just seems to fit you,” Nikki said slightly bemused. “Now sweetheart, are you trying to tell me that you’re ready to celebrate my victory?”
“Gimme a few minutes of sleep,” Izzy mumbled. The bassist glowered down at the slackened man, preparing to pin the guitarist onto his stomach and take him right there, but Izzy quickly laced his long arms tighter around the bassist. “You won’t regret it.”
Nikki raised an eyebrow, contemplating his next move as he felt the warm body slacken slowly into a sedate slumber.