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Dave, 1983

Lars never set out to sleep with Dave, but after a long night of drinking and partying, Lars woke up the next morning with finger-shaped bruises on his hips and the aftertaste of jizz in his mouth.

Like his riffs, Dave was rough and unrelenting. He’d pull Lars’ hair and scratch his thighs and squeeze his cock. When Dave was drunk, he’d mix dirty talk with degradation.

It was just a physical thing, a mutual scratching of itches, so when James and Lars decided Dave had to leave Metallica, it wasn’t a real breakup. Although Dave did let it slip to James that Lars had sucked him off, that Lars loved getting pounded in the ass “like the little homo he is,” which earned Lars an earful after James had dropped Dave off at the bus station.

“You never told me you two were fucking!” James accused, and Lars thought he saw hate there. When it came to sexually repressed homophobia, Dave and James were blood brothers.

“‘Cause it was none of your fucking business!” Lars shot back. “Sorry, Dad, I didn’t know my sex life needed your approval!”

“It does when you’re fucking around with the band!” James stuck a finger in Lars’ face. “Don’t fuck this up for us with your gay relationship bullshit!”

“It wasn’t a relationship!” Lars shouted back as James stormed out of the room.

Cliff, 1984-1986

Lars hadn’t intended to make the same mistake twice. Really. If he had, he’d have responded to James’ decry of inter-band relationships with “how ‘bout I do anyway?”

But Cliff was smart and gentle and calm, which made him almost entirely the opposite of Dave. One night, Cliff rubbed his hand over Lars’ thigh underneath the table, out of sight of the rest of the band, and Lars felt wanted.

It seemed natural to Lars that he would gravitate to Cliff; as the band’s rhythm section, they had to be somewhat in sync with each other, and that synchronicity translated offstage too.

On the bus rides to their gigs, Lars would often read books Cliff recommended. After a show, they’d light a few joints and talk about the book, and maybe screw if they could manage some alone time.

Even Cliff’s parents liked Lars, on the few occasions the band stayed at the Burtons’ home. At night, Lars would climb on top of Cliff and fit him inside, biting his lip to keep quiet as Cliff fucked him from below.

And sometimes Cliff got distant and wouldn’t engage with Lars beyond their chemistry onstage. Lars wasn’t sure why, but when he really thought about it, lying in his bunk while the bus rolled through the dark, he thought maybe he wanted something more than Cliff was willing to give, and Cliff sensed that desire emanating from him like an odor.

Maybe they could have worked it out. Lars would never know, because Cliff had to go and die on him.

Jason, 1987-1988

Lars really should have learned his lesson. But Jason had been staring at him all night, and Lars knew when someone was interested. Maybe Jason had heard from James about Lars’ open secret and wanted a ride on the Metallica bicycle.

“Consider it a hazing ritual, Newkid,” Lars said, pumping Jason in his hand in his messy hotel room.

Jason groaned, “Don’t call me that, I hate when James — ” then his words were subsumed into a cry when Lars took him into his mouth.

Jason didn’t last very long after that, but occasionally he’d come knocking on Lars’ door, begging for affection like a lost puppy.

“I don’t like you that way,” Jason said one night while he was balls-deep inside Lars. “I just — I don’t know…”

“Great pillow talk,” Lars said, suspecting he was some kind of bad luck charm that would bring some kind of curse upon Jason. The last two guys that fucked him either ended up dead or out of the band.

At some point, Jason stopped asking for their little liaisons, and Lars felt an odd sense of relief. If they’d continued, maybe Jason would have left the band too. Lars’ track record wasn’t great.

James, 1991-1998

“So you’ll fuck everyone in the band but me, huh?” James said, clutching Lars’ arm backstage after a show, hard enough to bruise.

Lots of potential smartass answers came to mind, but Lars went with the meanest one. “I didn’t know you wanted to be fucked. Aren’t you too macho for that?”

James scowled. “You know what I mean, dickhead.”

“Is that something you want?” Lars asked, gazing up at him.

James glanced away, color rising in his flushed cheeks. “Shit, no. I just — ”

“Feel left out? Well, don’t take it personally. I haven’t slept with Kirk either.”

“Really?” James’ eyes widened. “I was sure you two had a thing going on.” He mumbled, “Guess I owe Jason twenty bucks.”

James eventually gave in one night, claiming he just needed to get his rocks off, which Lars would have called bullshit on (there were plenty of groupies willing to sleep with James), but he decided not to push here. James slid into him from behind, his large hands wrapped around Lars’ hips, and Lars melted.

The problem, Lars came to learn, with best friends fucking each other is that feelings eventually develop. Over time, James’ walls began to come down, so slowly Lars didn’t even notice until James kissed him one night after a blow job. This, from the guy who used to call Lars homophobic slurs after learning about his trysts with Dave.

While James lay snoring beside him, Lars stared at the ceiling and wondered how the fuck he’d gotten himself into this mess.

He didn’t have the heart to break James’ own, so maybe a jury would find Lars guilty of leading James on. A smarter man wouldn’t have let the whole thing continue, but if Lars was smart he would have stopped fucking his bandmates after Cliff died.

“How come you never fucked Kirk?” James asked once, his taste still bitter on Lars’ tongue.

Lars didn’t have the heart to answer that either. He shrugged, shifting under the sheets. “He never asked.”

James laughed. “Kirk wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful. Of course he never asked.”

Lars had counted on that, because his feelings for Kirk were very much not platonic, and adding sex to that complicated situation would be disastrous. Lars had sensed things heading in a romantic direction with Cliff, some salt-encrusted sailor’s knot of affection and attraction forming in Lars’ chest, and maybe if Cliff had survived he would have left the band anyway when Lars admitted their arrangement was growing legs.

And yes, Lars absolutely saw the irony in James developing feelings for him when Lars didn’t reciprocate.

It took James a while to approach the subject of his own feelings, which Lars both appreciated and took for granted. Lars must have seemed so patient and understanding, since they could fuck and share intimacy and never once did Lars push for more or ask where this relationship was going.

James eventually asked, “What the fuck are we doing? We’ve been screwing around for years. Does this mean anything to you?”

Any answer Lars provided would have been wrong. And yet he felt compelled to say something. “I… I didn’t know you felt that way.”

“Of fucking course I do! I kiss you the same way I kiss her, and it’s fucking me up like you wouldn’t believe.”

Her. At some point, they had developed an unspoken rule not to mention their wives or girlfriends when they slept together. For James to break that pact now meant serious trouble for Lars.

“I — Fuck, man, don’t do this,” Lars sighed, sliding out of bed and getting dressed. It was important to keep moving in situations like this, and Lars felt he’d need to make a break for it soon. “Don’t make me choose for you. Don’t put that on me.”

“I’m not! But I need to know if we’re on the same page here.”

“You don’t want this, okay? The life you have back home is way more fulfilling than anything I could ever give or be for you,” Lars said.

James watched him, unflinching. “I’m not asking what’s good for me. I’m asking how you feel.”

Lars squeezed his eyes shut, as if he could make all of this go away. If James wasn’t going to make this easy, maybe Lars could play hardball too. “What do you feel?”

“I think you know what I want.”

“You want me as something greater than your dirty little secret? As your arm candy at the fucking VMAs? As the person you come home to after a tour? As your husband?” Lars said, knowing the word would make James recoil inwardly. “No, there’s no goddamn way you want that.”

James’ face went through a complicated set of emotions. “I could fucking try! I never thought I’d put my dick in you or kiss you, but here we fuckin’ are!”

This was madness, and Lars had to stop it before it spun out of control, though perhaps it already had. “No. I’m not — I don’t love you. Not the way you want me to.”

It occurred to him that pissing off a guy with anger issues wasn’t the wisest move, but, alas, a wise man would have put a stop to this long ago.

Hurt rippled across James’ face before fury took its place. “So, what, then? This was just some fucking game to you?”

“No, I thought — I thought we were just messing around!”

“Bullshit!” James leaped to his feet and yanked his jeans over his hips. “Me kissing you isn’t ‘just messing around’! You let this go on for fucking years!”

“I’m sorry,” Lars said, at a loss for anything else to say. “You’re right. I should’ve — ”

“Fuck off and get out of my room.”

It was their room, but Lars knew better than to argue the point. He gathered his things and went across the hall to Kirk’s room.

“Room for one more?” Lars asked lamely, holding up his luggage for emphasis.

Kirk let him inside, his eyes wide. “What happened?”

“What usually happens. James and I had a fight.” Lars tossed his bags on the floor besides Kirk’s own open duffel bag. “This one’s probably serious though.”

Kirk’s brow creased in worry. “Should I look for another job?”

“No, you’re probably fine.” Lars chuckled humorlessly. “He always teased me about being a shitty drummer anyway.”

“He can’t kick you out, man. If James is the heart of Metallica, you’re, like, the brain. I’ll tell James, ‘If Lars goes, I go.’” Kirk smiled, and the sight of it brought a smile to Lars’ face too.

“Yeah, well, don’t do something stupid ‘cause of me. I’m not worth it.”

Kirk looked at him with vivid, sad eyes. “What did you do anyway?”

“The same shit I always do.”

“Meaning what?”

Lars sighed. “I fuck one of the band members, and everything goes to shit.”

“Oh….” Kirk often got quiet and oddly scrutinizing when the subject of Lars’ proclivity was brought up, like it made him uncomfortable. Lars couldn’t imagine why; Kirk was openly bisexual and wasn’t likely to be grossed out by the subject of gay sex.

Kirk’s voice was shaky when he spoke again. “Did you, like… fall for James? And he freaked out about it?”

“In a hilarious turn of events, James fell for me.” Lars laughed a sad sound and settled an imploring gaze on Kirk. “Don’t tell anyone, okay? I know he’s embarrassed about it. I might be pissed at him, but I’m not that big of a dick to out him. Neither are you.”

They left it at that, and Kirk didn’t ask anymore, though he did bring Lars some water and a pill to help him relax.

Later, in bed, Lars murmured sleepily into Kirk’s back: “I’m such a piece of shit. Everyone I get close to gets hurt because of me.”

“You’re not a piece of shit,” Kirk said. “You just made a mistake.”

“It’s not one mistake though. I keep making them.”

“So maybe don’t? I think you know by now how to solve this problem.”

Lars did. No more screwing bandmates, even if it meant he’d never be with Kirk in the way he wanted. The stakes were just too damn high.

“If James really does kick you out, I’ll miss you,” Kirk said.

“Send me a postcard every now and then.”

“Sure. When we play in Copenhagen, I’ll think of you.”

Kirk drifted off after a while. He didn’t seem to mind Lars clinging to him like a drowning man clutching a life preserver.

They may have been in the same bed, but to Lars they had never been farther apart.

Kirk, 2001–∞

Jason had left the band, James had ended up in rehab, and Lars felt like a point of contention between the members of Metallica. It wasn’t his fault, exactly, but seeing as both Jason and James had fucked Lars, that didn’t disprove Lars’ theory that his ass was a black hole in which dreams died.

Because Kirk never fucked him, and Kirk was doing just fine. He was on the phone with James at Lars’ penthouse, trading casual conversation. Lars wasn’t really paying attention, until Kirk said with a bit of bite: “Ten bucks Lars fucks the replacement within the first month.” Then he laughed at something James said. “Oh, that’s mean! But probably true.”

Lars felt a wallop. From James, that kind of backhanded hostility would be par for the course, but Kirk didn’t often talk about Lars’ bad habit — which Lars had been really fucking great about curbing since the blowup with James. And Kirk didn’t throw shade at other members of the band, even ones who had departed like Dave and Jason.

When Kirk was off the phone, Lars told him, “That’s ten bucks you’re never fucking getting. I’m done with that shit. Look where it’s fucking gotten us.”

Kirk snorted a laugh. “Right, sure. Jason left ‘cause you wouldn’t put out anymore? James drank his way into rehab because he couldn’t have you to himself?” Another derisive laugh. “Get over yourself, man. No dick is that good.”

“You’re bitchy today. The fuck’s wrong?”

Kirk opened his mouth, closed it and turned away. Then he turned back to Lars. “No, it’s been almost twenty years. I think I deserve an answer. You’ve fucked everyone in the band but me. I’m starting to take it personally.”

“Not everyone!” Lars protested. “I never did anything with Ron! Or Bob!”

“Okay, one: Ron was in the band for, like, fifteen minutes. That barely even counts. Two: Bob? Have you been fucking engineers and producers too?” All of Kirk’s outrage melted away. He couldn’t sustain his rage the way James could. When he spoke again, his voice was soft, wounded. “What is it about me that’s so awful you won’t even — It would just be nice to be asked, is all. I thought we were friends.”

Lars felt his heartbeat in his throat. He couldn’t handle the hurt in Kirk’s voice, couldn’t deal with having put it there. “I — it’s not you. Really. I just — I don’t wanna mess this up. Y’know, things ended bad with James, and — ”

“Okay, that explains the last few years, but what about the first ten?”

“‘Cause when you joined I’d just gotten with Cliff, and after he died I felt guilty and terrible — ”

“So you fucked Jason.” A worry line appeared between Kirk’s eyebrows, and Lars wanted to smooth it away. “I thought we were close enough you could be honest with me.”

Kirk wasn’t going to let him wriggle out of this one.

Lars sighed, raking a hand through his hair and dropping onto the sofa. “Fuck… I wanted to, God, every day, but — I would want more than you could — I’d want you. I do. I still fucking do. But I’d never have to hear you give me the ‘let’s just be friends’ speech if we never…”

“Holy shit…” Kirk stood there, absorbing this with a look of shock. “So it’s not ‘cause you think I’m ugly?”

“Are you fucking kidding me? You’re hot. You’re so fucking hot, Kirk. Not hitting on you the last, like, twenty years has been a challenge.”

Kirk laughed, a little wild and shaky. “So you — you’re in love with me?”

Lars dragged a hand down his face. “God, it sounds so fucking lame out loud.”

“Is that why you and James broke up? Because you had feelings for me and not him?”

“He never — I never told anyone about you.” Lars wished for a turtle shell he could retreat into until this conversation was over. “But I didn’t — ”

Kirk folded his arms (his newly tanned, muscular arms; surfing has been good to him, Lars thought) over his chest, looking smug. “It’s not often I see you at a loss for words.”

“Yeah, well, it’s not every day I have to fucking tell somebody I’ve been secretly in love with them for years. Funny how that works.”

“Hey.” Kirk sat beside him on the sofa. “It’s okay. I’m just messing with you. I’m — I’m really flattered. I …”

Lars knew this was the part where Kirk had to find a polite way to let him down easily. A kind rejection plastered over their friendship in order to keep the band together in this uncertain time. Though if Kirk had ever wanted to leave the band, this was the best opportunity he’d probably ever get.

“You don’t have to — ” Lars buried his face in his hands. “We can just pretend I never said anything.”

“Lars… you’re not the only one who’s been holding onto this for years.”

Lars raised his head from the cradle of his hands. “What?”

“I like you, man. That’s why it’s never worked with anyone else,” Kirk said, shrugging as his face heated up.

Things rattled around in Lars’ chest, his pulse kicking up.

“James told me a long time ago about your habit,” Kirk said. “He kind of joked about it, like ‘Lars lets everyone in the band fuck him; he calls it a Danish welcome.’ And I was curious, but… it seemed weird to just ask?”

“That’s literally what everyone did!” Lars protested. “I didn’t initiate shit!”

“By the time I felt like I could ask or flirt with you about it…” Kirk shrugged again. “I didn’t want to be just another notch in your headboard, y’know? I wanted it to mean something. And every time you’d hook up with Jason or James, it just … reminded me that it wouldn’t be real for us.”

“No. No way. I still — I want you. More than anything,” Lars said, unable to hide the desperation in his voice. “More than Metallica. James could say ‘fuck you guys, I’m done,’ And I’d be okay with that as long as I had you. Is that totally fucked up or what?”

“Then we’re both fucked up.” Kirk smiled and laid a hand over Lars’ own. His touch was warm and felt like home.

Over the years, there had been many touches like this between them, flirtations and even kisses for the sake of publicity, and Lars had tried to hold on in those fleeting moments, knowing they would disappear.

Maybe he could keep them this time.

Lars kissed him gently, as if Kirk might break. Kirk gasped against his mouth then reciprocated with gusto. His lower lip was slightly chapped, and his mouth tasted like stale beer, but, holy fuck, it was Kirk. Lars was finally kissing him. He clutched Kirk’s face, his thumb brushing that tantalizing little mole on Kirk’s cheek.

For a while, their mouths locked and hands roamed. Then Lars licked Kirk’s lower lip and tugged at the waist of his jeans.

“I’ve been waiting,” Lars murmured.

“It has to be — don’t lead me on, man. It’s been too long.” Kirk’s breath was sweet against Lars’ face, and Lars felt momentarily drunk.

“It’s real. I’ll lose you forever if it’s not. I know that.”

Kirk claimed Lars’ mouth again, and Lars brought them to the bedroom, both of them shedding clothes on the stairs.

Kirk dropped kisses along Lars’ inner thigh, as if to twist him up, but Lars was already embarrassingly hard, his dick a tent pole in his shorts, so foreplay was unnecessary. Kirk saw it and worked Lars’ cock free through the slit in his boxers. He stared for a moment, wetting his lips, then he glanced at Lars, seeking permission.

None of the other guys had blown Lars before, and Kirk wasn’t much for technique, but it was Kirk, sucking the swollen head of Lars’ cock, his curls tickling Lars’ thighs, and the world was very far away.

Lars wrapped his hands into Kirk’s hair, forcing his hips to stay still. Kirk knew all the tricks, knew to squeeze the hilt in his hand, and knew to trace swirls over the sensitive head with his tongue. Then Kirk had to fucking moan around him, like Lars’ dick was the best thing he’d ever tasted, and Lars came apart with a groan of Kirk’s name into the empty house.

Kirk took it all, licking at the gooey string that trailed from Lars’ dick to Kirk’s lips when he drew back. His mouth was slick and plummy, and suddenly Lars understood why James hadn’t been able to stop himself from kissing Lars after a blow job. His heart seemed to expand in his chest, like there wasn’t anymore room for it, and he thought he might burst.

Kirk wiped the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand as he crawled up Lars’ body and laid there. Lars felt the solid line of need against his bare thigh, and how fucking hot was it that sucking dick turned Kirk on?

“Was that good?” Kirk asked, like he didn’t just give Lars the best blow job of his life.

“Fuck, of course. I lasted, like, ten seconds.”

Kirk kissed him again, and Lars tasted himself mingling with Kirk’s own flavor. Lars wanted this more than anything, more than the band. Metallica had a good run; could Lars have the next twenty years with Kirk?

Kirk squirmed against Lars, trying to rub his hard-on into Lars’ thigh.

“Here,” Lars gasped against Kirk’s eager mouth as he slipped a hand into Kirk’s shorts. “Let me…”

Kirk buried a hot little noise into Lars’ neck, his hips sliding in rhythm with Lars’ fist. Lars took it all in, watching Kirk writhe and whimper on top of him, then Kirk was coming hot and fast, moaning at Lars’ ear.

Lars stared at the milky white ribbons Kirk laid across his stomach. He wanted to taste it, which was probably super fucking weird, but how was that so different from swallowing after a blow job?

“That was… whoa,” Kirk panted, drawing back a bit. He noticed the jizz on Lars’ stomach. “Oops. Sorry.”

“No, man, it’s fine. Kinda hot.” Lars couldn’t resist. He swiped his fingers through the mess and tasted it. Nothing to write home about, but Kirk’s flushed, wide-eyed stare definitely was.

“You are gross,” Kirk said in awe and amusement.

“You swallowed! How is this different? How? Explain it to me.”

“It just is! It’s like — eating food off the floor, or out of the garbage. You just… don’t?”

“I’m gonna invoke the five-second rule here. It was fresh!”

Kirk snorted a laugh, rolling into the space beside Lars. “Never in a million years did I imagine this would be our pillow talk.”

“You imagined our pillow talk?”

“Of course. I’ve been crazy about you for so long, and I have a hell of an imagination.”

Warmth bloomed in Lars’ chest. He turned onto his stomach, his bare legs swaying through the air. “Ooh, tell me! Am I a domineering top or a sexy submissive in your fantasies?”

Kirk blushed, glancing away. “A bit of both.” He covered his eyes with his arm. “Ah, this is so embarrassing!”

“Are you kidding? It’s fucking great. I love this. Please go on.”

“Nope, I’m gonna invoke the one-week rule. We have to be together as a couple for at least a week before I tell you that.”

“Bullshit!” Lars crowed, grinning. “You just made that up!”

“I can have my own rules,” Kirk said with feigned offense. “It makes things fun.”

“Alright… My rule is you have to take off your pants in my house. And your shoes. And maybe your shirt. Actually, could you just be naked all the time for me?” Lars batted his eyelashes and gave Kirk a sweet smile.

Kirk snickered. “James will hate that.”

“Tough shit for him. It’s about time I had some say in this fucking band.”

Kirk laughed again, and the sound was its own kind of music, melodic and resonant. Lars could listen to that laugh for the rest of his life, and he hoped he’d been given the chance to do so.

“I thought of another rule,” Lars said. “You have to bend me over every surface of this house.”

Beaming, Kirk rolled so he was on top of Lars, a thigh pushed between Lars’ open legs. “Now that’s a rule I’m happy to follow.”