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30 Days

Chapter Text

Naoki could feel it, every time they had rehearsal, the fracture between them grew a little worse and it was breaking his heart.

“Senpai?”

Naoki hurried to dash the frustrated tears on his sleeve, silently cursing his bad luck. Of all the people to catch him feeling sorry for himself, it would have to be him.

“Sorry, was I not supposed to see that?”

“It's nothing,” he croaked, adding another curse to the pile. Before he could even think of a joke to turn the conversation, hands were cupping his cheeks and then lips were pressing an all too brief kiss to his.

“Dinner?” Kouki asked. “We can talk about nothing all night if you like.”

“... I think I'd like that,” he said after a moment.

“Great. I know just the place.”

Naoki's heart might be shattering, but at least he didn't have to be alone with the broken pieces.

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“Is it just me or does he seem ... different?” Ibuki asked of no one in particular, gesturing vaguely. Next to him, Hikaru just snickered while Reika and Minase kept right on discussing their compositions. Huffing, Ibuki frowned at Kouki. He was humming and bouncing a foot while he did something or other on his phone, his lunch bento practically forgotten. And was that ... a new cologne? But since no one else seemed to want to talk about Kouki's weirdness, Ibuki slid into the chair next to the man, frowning at his screen. It was just a bunch of stickers, why was he grinning like an idiot? Oh god, had their idiot vocalist actually managed to get himself a girlfriend??? That ... that really would explain everything, wouldn't it?

“I hope you're being careful, Treebeard,” he teased, nudging Kouki in the ribs. The blank look was as priceless as ever.

“With your girlfriend,” he explained, gesturing to the phone. “You know how some bangya get.”

“Eh? O-oh! Um. Yes. I mean, it's not like that. We're just ... friends.”

“Right, of course, my mistake.” Just friends. Right. Well, if that's the line they were to use in public, Ibuki would roll with it.

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“I'm just saying it's weird, that's all.”

Aoi frowned at Reita, then shook his head.

“Your face is weird, but you don't see us calling you out for that,” he countered. The bassist flipped him off, but at least it put an end to the conversation. It wasn't like Aoi was oblivious to the rumors floating around, despite the front he pushed for himself, but that's all they were. And to be honest, a part of him was anxious to cling to his denial a bit longer. Kagrra had been there for them since the beginning. Aoi wasn't ready to face a future where his senpai weren't there.

“He's not wrong, you know.”

“Ugh, Ru, not you, too,” he muttered.

“Hey, I get it, but we can't just bury our heads in the sand. If they really are breaking up....”

“Yeah, yeah, I'll call Shin-senpai later, see what he can tell me,” Aoi said with a sigh. If Kagrra really was disbanding, it would be up to all of them, as Gazette, to try to step up into that place. Them and Kra. Maybe he'd call Taizo later, too. He was overdue to take that one out for another beer.

Chapter Text

“I hope you're happy.”

Akiya didn't say anything, just kept walking. There was nothing left to say anyway. It was over, done, finished. That was it, they had finished their last day working together as Kagrra. From now on, Akiya of Kagrra was a thing of the past, someone he no longer was. Someone he might never be again. And he was fine with it. He was. This had been the only solution, the only way forward. Time to close the door on his time as a part of the PSC family and open the door on the next chapter of his life.

And still his thumb hesitated over the delete button on his phone. One thing to say he was finished, another thing to actually erase those ties completely. For twelve years, those four had been more than bandmates, they had been brothers. Could he really cut ties with them all so easily?

Sharp words echoed in his ears. He hit the button. Those days were gone for good.

Chapter Text

Taizo picked up his glass, only to discover it was already empty. Oh. Had he done that? Scowling at it, he tried to remember how many he'd had. Not enough and too much all at once.

“Is this seat taken?”

A long blink as he tried to focus on the person who had spoken to him for ... some reason. He couldn't completely escape the feeling that he should know who it was sliding into the seat opposite him, but no name was coming to mind. He was certainly pretty, but then of course he was. Taizo was tipsy, not stupid.

“Bad day?” his uninvited companion said. Well that was entirely too presumptuous, no matter who this pretty face thought he was. Taizo was still trying to order a properly scathing rebuke when a hand closed over his.

“It's okay, yeah? We all have them sometimes.”

It was stupid, but he couldn't stop himself, hiding his face against the table for a moment. An arm tucked around his shoulders and he leaned into that silent strength.

Chapter Text

San scowled at the high wall in front of him. Or more accurately, the half dozen rotten eggs smashed against it. This was the second time in as many weeks and while he had filed a report with the police, he didn't expect them to be able to do anything about it. Still not his idea of a great way to spend a Friday night.

“... what the hell are you even doing??”

San startled so hard he actually dropped the stiff-bristled brush.

“Yu-kun...?”

“I thought you said you were going to sell. I don't see a sign.”

“No, I said I'd think about it so you'd shut up,” he muttered, snatching up his brush and attacking the dried egg splatters.

“San-kun....”

“Don't start. I've made up my mind, either help or leave.”

At first, San actually thought his bandmate had left. And then arms coiled around his waist, a head resting against the back of his shoulder.

“For the record, this is a really horrible way to spend a Friday night,” Yu grumbled, squeezing him tighter for a second.

“You don't have to stay,” San muttered.

“Undomesticated equines could not displace me.”

It was a terrible joke, but it helped.

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Ryuutarou sat with his phone in his hand, compulsively checking Twitter every few moments. So much upset and hurt from people dear to him and yet what could he do? The pain was real, even if the cause was not, and comfort was always especially elusive in such situations. As was the need to keep the truth secret.

“Ne, Tarou-kun, what are you doing?”

“Trying to find the right words,” he said with a sigh, deleting another half-written tweet. For a writer, this was a particularly deep sort of hell.

“Sometimes, the perfect words don't exist,” Kenken said, taking the chair next to him. “Sometimes all we can do is acknowledge the pain, you know?”

True enough. With a slow nod and a heavy sigh, Ryuutarou tried again.

:: Beers tonight, my treat?

:: ...dunno if I'm up for it.

:: Please? I think we both need it.

Ryuutarou was starting to think he had pushed his luck too far when another message finally came in.

:: Fine. No beer for me, though.

A small smile. It wasn't much, but he would take it.

Chapter Text

“This is a mistake.”

“The greater mistake would be to do nothing,” Isshi murmured, shaking his head. “I cannot ignore my heart.”

“Master....”

Isshi closed his eyes, taking a deep breath as he finished putting the wards back in order. How many centuries since the last time he had allowed his heart to feel anything like this? Oh he had allowed himself other, smaller loves, little more than flings really, but this ... this had been different. From the first time he had let that word cross his lips, he had known. This time was different.

Of course, he had intended to keep walking beside his mortal mate for many, many more years before coming to this. Now ... now all he could do was safeguard the house he had gifted to him and set him free.

At least that's what he told himself as he charged the last protective sigil. But as he stood just out of sight, watching that bent head digging out weeds, he wondered if he could really do it.

“I love you, kitten,” he whispered to the wind. “Be happy. Be free.”

Chapter Text

Even knowing it was all a part of his act, Yukihiro still could only just sit there for a long moment, wondering if he had really heard what he thought he had just heard. The interviewer didn't quite seem to know what to say either, and then Hyde was off on another tangent, the moment set aside.

“I swear to all the gods, Doiha, sometimes I think you live just to try giving me grey hair!” Tetsu announced once they were safely away from microphones.

“What?” Hyde said and that innocent face was really too much.

“You know what!”

“Oh come on, it was just a joke, Tet-chan, don't get all wound up, ne?”

“I don't care, you can't say stuff like that and not expect at least some of the fans to take you seriously!”

“And if some fangirl can actually prove she bought more copies of our next single than anyone else?”

“... no. No, no, no. Absolutely not.”

“Not even if she buys a hundred copies? Not even just a kiss on the hand?”

“.... maybe. But no one's going to do that.”

“Well, I guess we'll find out, won't we?”

Yukihiro really hoped no one tried to collect.

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“Stop being such a sour puss,” Ray grumbled, grabbing San's wrist. “You're way too young and way, way too pretty to be giving up just because your boyfriend went off and died on ya.”

“Fuck off,” San hissed, jerking his wrist free. And yet not fast enough, Jin pinning him in from the other side.

“Don't be so hateful,” the vocalist said with a slow smirk. “We've been putting in a lot of hard work, you should be more grateful.”

“Fuck you,” he snarled, angry tears stinging his eyes.

“Nah, baby, that's what you're for,” Jin drawled. San could feel bile at the back of his throat as Jin tugged on his shirt.

A sudden bang as the practice room door nearly popped its hinges and, quite unexpectedly, San found himself standing free of his two bandmates.

“There you are! Sorry, boys, this one's taken~”

San's brain froze, he couldn't think at all as Jui tucked an arm around him and steered him out of the room. What?

“Have dinner with me?” his senpai asked, as if things were completely normal. “In fact, I insist.”

“S-senpai....”

“I promised him I would protect you,” the singer said softly. San didn't, couldn't argue.

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Satsuki sat at a small table by himself, watching the people passing on the street and taking little notes. The number of different school uniforms. How many times someone tripped over that one crack in the sidewalk. The number of times the same cat darted into the same combini, only to be chased out by an apparently very forgetful shop owner, some packaged snack or other carefully clutched in her jaws. He came here every week, supposedly to work on his art. In reality....

“... why do I feel stalked?”

“Well that's just ridiculous,” Satsuki said, pouring a second cup of tea from his pot. “It's not stalking, I've been coming here every week, three times a week, for eight months now, you can ask the staff. And I've been here for the last hour and a half, so there.”

Still, he couldn't resist a smile at the way San, same as before, huffed. And then took the seat opposite him.

“I'm paying this time,” the younger man said, scowling at him.

“As you wish,” Satsuki demurred, a small smile. It didn't matter who paid, in the end, the contact between them was all he needed to ensure San was protected.

Chapter Text

Junji sat with water in one hand, his phone in the other. Summer in Ibaraki wasn't any better (or worse) than anywhere else, but at least they weren't shooting outside in winter. This time. Still, he was in the middle of something private when he heard the heavy-footed approach of their making-of filmographer. A muted huff and he raised his cup of water, hoping that would be enough to ward him off.

--

Mitsuki hunkered down slowly and stretched out his hand.

“Here kitty,” he called out. The cat crouched lower, warily sniffing his finger. Maybe? He kept his movements slow, non-threatening and the cat eased forward a tiny bit. Oh yes, perfect.

Someone kicked a loose pebble and the cat darted away.

--

Mahiro was only too glad to be finished with his shooting for the moment, sitting in the designated space beside a small ashtray. A few words to the making-of crew and then he was allowed his moment of peace. He didn't need much, just a few minutes, maybe not even half a cigarette. With the day they were having ... nothing bad had happened yet, but.... Something. Something had to break soon. Just as long as it wasn't him.

Chapter Text

Kai took a deep breath, then closed his eyes and rolled over. And then a hand reached across the darkness and he almost jumped out of his skin.

“Just me ... but you felt it, yeah?”

“No idea what you're talking about,” he mumbled, rolling over onto his back and trying to force his racing heart to calm down once more.

“It's been a bad month,” Aoi mumbled. Kai grimaced, wishing he didn't know what his friend meant.

“It was nothing.”

“Another star went out, that's not nothing.”

“Wh-what... what are you even...?” he tried to ask, surprised to see Aoi sitting on the edge of his bed, holding up his phone.

“After Issama ... I told senpai I couldn't go through that again. He texts me now as soon as he knows.”

Kai wasn't even going to ask how Shin found out half the things he did. Somehow, he just always knew. Uncanny, but he wouldn't argue if it meant his guitarist had peace of mind. Sort of.

“Who?”

“Just a kid. I don't mind sharing if ... it helps, not to feel alone, yeah?”

“... pants?”

“If you want. Doesn't matter to me.”

Rolling his eyes, Kai pulled Aoi down beside him.

Chapter Text

Jun felt his eyes narrowing as he watched the band that was on stage at the moment. Nega had always been, in his opinion, better than just good. But there was something about them, something that was holding them back. And for once he didn't think it was as simple as some of the antis were saying.

“Ne, Kiki...”

“Jun, what have I tol–.”

“Yeah, yeah, shut up and tell me what the deal is with them,” he said, gesturing towards the stage. Kisaki gave him one of his looks and Jun stopped a minute, then rolled his eyes at his friend. “Don't tell me you don't know what I mean, Kiki. Come on, spill.”

“Don't know what you expect me to say,” his boss said with a shrug.

“Uh, you could start with why this is as far as they've gone.”

“It's where they want to be.”

“Oh come off it, Kiki,” Jun insisted, but Kisaki only shook his head, walking away before he could ask any more questions. So he was surprised to get a text message a few minutes later.

::Look at Jin.

Scowling, Jun looked back up at the stage and really Looked at Jin. Oh.

Chapter Text

It wasn't often Yoshiki could just sit back and watch Sugizo with his violin.

All right, technically he wasn't supposed to be doing so now, either, but they were doing sound checks, he could afford to take a few minutes to just watch the angel who held such a sacred place in his heart. He truly was beautiful, his fallen angel who was not yet his.

“You really need to tell him,” Toshi mumbled, sitting down next to him in the front row.

“Eh? Toshi, be serious,” he mumbled back, hoping to fool the man off the scent.

“You'll never know what could be if you don't take a chance.”

“Maybe. But not yet.”

“Yoshi....”

“Not yet, Toshi. The time ... it's not right, not yet. Soon, maybe, but not yet.”

A huff and Toshi squeezed his thigh before getting up. Not yet. He couldn't risk ruining what had already given him such joy. When the time was right, he would move to reclaim what was his ... but not yet. He could wait a little longer.

Chapter Text

“Are we going to talk about this?”

“Talk about what?”

“About the fact that you're still here,” Gackt huffed, trying to scowl at the man weeding the raised flower bed along the back of the house.

“You know, the whole property is in a sorry state. If I'd known you were going to neglect the grounds like this, I never would have sold it to you,” his guardian said, verbally sidestepping the real issue.

“Issama!”

“Don't presume you can tell me what to do, brat,” his guardian snapped back with a sour look.

“It's my fault, Issama,” You said as he stepped outside carrying a tray with a pitcher of lemonade. “I let chores slide and haven't wanted to hire someone to do the work for me. Thank you for taking it up.”

Gackt flashed his soulmate a surprised look, but You ignored him.

“Well ... it's something to do.”

“Still, I appreciate it. And I'll try harder not to fall so behind.”

“Then you can help me with these house beds. Finish those today and we'll call it a good job, yes?”

“Sounds good to me,” You replied, grinning. Outnumbered, betrayed, Gackt gave up, sitting down with a chilled glass

Chapter Text

The thrill of the hunt. Hyde crouched lower, tail swaying slowly as he studied the yard. There, at the far end, a little mouse checking to see if it was safe. Whiskers twitching, he crouched lower. Two bounds, maybe three, and he would have a snack.

The wind changed, the mouse caught his scent and fled in panic. Huffing a silent sigh, Hyde stood into a long stretch, then started strolling around the edge of the concrete. If he followed this path, there were always birds around the front, especially by the water element. Birds were much better prey anyway.

Chapter Text

“It's ... it's ... it's obscene.”

“Come on, Naoran, you had to know it was coming....”

“What? What? No, no I didn't, what are you even talking about??”

Shin sighed and actually set down his coffee cup. Surely his friend wasn't this naive? And yet the offended look on his face....

“Come on, Naoran, you know how the tabloids work. All the secrecy, the delay, of course there was going to be speculation. Tabloids thrive of gossip and speculation, the more prurient the better. You said yourself it wasn't even a press blog, just garbage from the fandom, why are you getting all worked up about it?”

“Because it's ... it's disrespectful! Issama poured his heart and soul into his music and someone turns around and suggests that he would kill himself... it's wrong!”

“Of course it is, but what are you going to do? Track down anyone who posts about it and lecture them until they see the error of their ways?”

“Well, no,” Naoki huffed, crossing arms over his chest. “But....”

“Just ... let it go. Let them think what they want. You know it isn't true, that's all that really matters.”

Shin watched Naoki practically fold in on himself. Soon. Maybe.

Chapter Text

Kuina stopped dead in his tracks, his bag falling from suddenly nerveless fingers. A nudge and Tora was moving past him into the tiny apartment, embracing the impossible.

“I thought you weren't staying,” Tora was saying softly while Kuina rubbed at his wrist. This ... this wasn't possible.

“Turns out leaving isn't so easy. Puppy, come, come, it's okay.”

That was it, whatever was holding him broke and Kuina practically tripped over himself as he hurried forward, falling into Isshi's arms with broken sobs. Arms he thought he'd never feel again closed around him and he cried even harder.

“Daddy....”

“Shhh, I'm sorry, puppy. But I'm here now, it'll be all right.”

“But what ... how....”

Kuina frowned up at the man who had meant life to him, jerking back when that beloved face suddenly bore horns and glowing red eyes.

“D-d-demon....”

“Youkai,” Isshi corrected, looking like himself again. “Shinji told me what happened, I had to do something, I couldn't let you go looking for me that way. But we can't tell anyone else.”

“But San-kun....”

“We can't tell anyone else.”

Kuina huffed a sigh and burrowed into Isshi's chest again. It wasn't fair but he knew he wouldn't tell anyone.

Chapter Text

Yu sucked in a breath, waiting for an explosion, but there was just silence. And then San was turning off his amp, packing up his equipment without a word.

“Boss?” Ray asked at last.

“I told you guys before,” he said as he started coiling an amp cord, “if you want to be a band, we'll be a band. If you want to dick around, I quit. Obviously, Jin-kun's decided he'd rather dick around than be serious. So I quit.”

“Fine then. Quit and run away like the useless little pussy you are,” Jin snapped. Yu only half regretted launching one of his drumsticks at the man and that was only because he missed his head.

“What the fuck?!”

“What, you think I'm just going to sit here while you behave like a spoiled child? Pull your head out of your ass and apologize or I'm with him.”

“Fine. Like we fucking need either of you!”

“I'll be sure to mention that to Kisaki-sama,” Yu muttered, quickly grabbing up his own things and hurrying after San. He hated to think this was the end of Nega already, but San needed, deserved his support. It was the least he could do.

Chapter Text

Takemasa's gaze kept sliding sidelong between fans to see how the others were interacting with the (mostly female) fans who had come to their in-store. More than once, he would catch himself wondering what it was like to be like Junji or Mahiro or Mitsuki. Those three, more than either Hiyori or himself, could be completely honest and themselves with the fans. Meanwhile, he had to hide behind his masks while Hiyori had to spend forever carefully applying his onnagata makeup for every appearance. The bassist had yet to complain to anyone else, but Takemasa knew it was wearing on him. He tried to be as sympathetic as he could, but sometimes he felt like Hiyori didn't entirely believe him. Sure, his illusion was easier to achieve, but that didn't mean he didn't still sometimes find himself trying to live through their bandmates, wishing he could be that open with someone, anyone, outside the band and their kouhai. Maybe someday....

“Ne, Kujou-san....”

“Ah! Sorry, sorry, don't mind me, miss! Thank you for coming!”

Another who wasn't really there for him. Well, he was used to that, too. Someone had to be the least popular member in the end, after all.

Chapter Text

Yawning while rubbing a hand through his hair, Jui stepped out onto his balcony and took a deep breath. Dawn. He had such a love/hate relationship with this time of day. He was, after all, an incarnation of fire, the same fires that brought light to the new day flowed through his veins. And at the same time, being a bandman often meant very late nights indeed.

“Here, try this.”

A double take and then he just gaped as a steaming mug of coffee was pushed into his hands.

“How the fuck are you even awake right now?”

“Ah, how quickly you've forgotten,” Kisaki teased, laughing. “Dragons don't need sleep.”

“Right. Hate you.”

“No you don't,” his ex said, leaning in to brush a kiss to his cheek. “Drink your coffee. We need to talk.”

“... I'm not going to like this, am I?” he mumbled, impressed at his ability to find a seat without tripping over his own two feet.

“Why do you always assume the worst?”

“It's you.”

“It's about San-kun.”

Yup, he already didn't like it.

“Nope, don't wanna hear it. Issama's decided he can't leave, take it to him.”

Kisaki scowled but Jui just drank his coffee.

Chapter Text

It wasn't like Kisaki had ever wanted things to be like this. But he also knew if he just let San quit, if he let Nega collapse under the weight of Jin's unreasonable ego, it would put to waste years of hard work. To say nothing of disrupting patterns he had already seen. Patterns that needed to be preserved, for the good of more than just himself.

“Hikkun, be reasonable!”

“Oh you're one to talk about being reasonable,” his friend countered with a snort. Kisaki crossed his arms over his chest, scowling at the man pretending to still be weeding perfectly maintained flower beds. Arrogant son of a –.

“I can hear you, you know,” Isshi said without bothering to turn around.

“Hikkun, I need you. I can't save him alone.”

Isshi set down his tools, standing and turning to give Kisaki an inquisitive look.

“Was that really so hard?”

“... what?”

“Saying you need help. Was it really so difficult?”

Kisaki blinked a moment, then threw his hands up in the air and stormed back towards the front of the house.

“You're welcome!”

“Still hate you!”

Getting into his car, Kisaki turned towards the highway connecting Hadano to Osaka. Egotistical ass.

Chapter Text

“Look, I'll take care of it. Just ... just let me talk to San-kun?”

Ray shifted his weight from one foot to the other, hating the way it felt like Kisaki's eyes were boring right through his skin, burrowing into his very soul.

“I'll ask him, but I'm not promising anything.”

Nodding, Ray jerked back when the apartment door was closed in his face. Why did that feel like an ominous sign?

The door opened again and San stepped outside, giving him the most empty look Ray had seen in his life. This was worse than right after that guy's death. Shit.

“San-kun, I... I'm sorry,” he said, his whole argument evaporating into nothingness. “I ... I'll talk to him, I will. I'll get him on task and I'll keep him there, somehow. I just ... please. Don't give up on this.”

Nothing so much as even flickered in the other man's eyes.

“Anything you want, just tell me what to do to fix this.”

“You already know.”

He could feel San and Nega slipping through his fingers, but he didn't know what else to do.

“Just give me a chance, please.”

“Maybe.”

He could work with maybe.

Chapter Text

You took another deep breath and smiled to himself. There was just something about early December mornings that he especially enjoyed. Crisp and still, especially out here at the country estate, his estate, tucked away in the foothills of Hadano and surrounded by a dozen shrines and temples. Bundled in a heavy blanket and holding his coffee close, he took a seat on the back patio and watched the colors of dawn painting themselves across the winter sky. A perfect moment, one he knew wouldn't last much longer. After all, his soulmate was out there somewhere and when he came back.... You's lips curved a little at the memory of the last time Gackt had come home from a morning jog to find him out here. He wouldn't mind a repeat of that so much.

Living with dogs, even with the quirks of this house, meant it was impossible for You not to know when Gackt had returned. Still, he stayed where he was. Dawn had already fading into a frigid, pale blue with scattered high clouds. Another cold day, but he couldn't say he minded.

“Trying to catch a cold?”

“Just enjoying the morning.”

Chapter Text

The air was always on the verge of being too cold here, but Tora climbed the steps anyway, one at a time, taking a deep breath with each step. A few more steps and then he was pushing through the brass-clad doors of the great Temple of the Wind.

“Something on your mind, Shinji-kun?”

“... you could say that,” he said, following his patron and master to his private office. The white tiger laughed, settling him at a tea table and pouring him a cup of tea. As always, just being in Byakko's astral temple helped him feel better, though the tea and conversation didn't hurt either. The Guardian of the West could only do so much, but just having someone listen helped.

“It will be all right, Shinji-kun, don't worry so much.”

“Can't help it, I guess.”

“Worry won't help you, child.”

“Yeah, well, stopping isn't exactly easy.”

“Few things in life are. Stay awhile, rest. You have more than earned it.”

“Thank you, Master.”

He couldn't stay for long, of course, but then time was always a bit different on the astral plane. What time he had in this safe haven would be enough.

Chapter Text

Ruki snapped his teeth on a knee-jerk, emotional response, instead sucking in a calming breath through his nose. Just a question, no doubt meant innocently enough. The way things would get reported, especially to overseas press ... he knew better than some how things could get lost in translation. But to ask that question that way....

I think,” he said slowly, mindfully choosing his English, “you should think how you asked that.

His translator shifted a little uncomfortably while the interviewer's eyes went wider than dinner plates for a moment. And yet he could tell that things weren't actually connecting in her head. Swallowing down a sigh, he tried again.

“I lost a very dear mentor this past summer, it's a wound on my heart that still bleeds,” he said quietly, pausing for the translation. “I can only hope that he is proud of what I have done to carry forward his legacy with honor.”

He still wasn't sure she understood where she had gone wrong in her question, but at least it was enough to get her to move on to another topic. For now, it would have to do.

Chapter Text

Kouki watched the easy way Naoki joked and laughed with some fresh-faced bandman whose name he hadn't yet caught and cursed his own stupidity. He had tried to make that laugh his once. Things hadn't quite gone the way he would have preferred and now he was left watching his senpai having a good time with someone else. He really was the worst sort of hopeless idiot. He should leave before he –.

“Kou-kun! Kou-kun, you should let me introduce you to my new friend here!”

“Uwah, ah, senpai, you don't –.”

“Don't be silly! Kou-kun, this is Subaru of Royz. Baru-chan, Kouki of Dauto. I'm sure you two will have a lot to discuss, vocalists always do, ne?” Naoki said, offering a brilliant smile. Kouki could feel his own impending doom.

“Vocalist, hmm? New band, is it? I don't know that I've heard of you.”

That easily Subaru was bubbling and babbling about his band and their recent activities and how overwhelming it all felt. And how much he would be deeply honored by any advice senpai had to offer. Completely doomed.

Chapter Text

“I ... you ... you ... ugh, Akkkiiiiiiiiii...!”

Aki was laughing and Hitsugi folded himself in half, though it wasn't enough to escape the playful fingers dancing in his hair.

“Come on, Tsuchi, tell me,” the bassist cajoled. Hitsugi huffed as he sat back, snatching up a second beer.

“Nope,” he insisted between swigs of beer. “Forget it. Not like I'm not used to you knowing everyone and their uncle's second cousin's stylist's sister-in-law by now.”

It wasn't particularly convincing even in his own ears, but what else could he do? An actual confession was out of the question, so he was left clinging to the thin illusion that he didn't actually care. It didn't matter, he was happy for his friend, really. It wasn't even like their friendship was anything new anyway. He was fine, he didn't care, he didn't need Aki to introduce him, he wasn't that lame. He was well enough connected now, when the opportunity came, he would just introduce himself to his senpai himself. Yeah, that's what he'd do. Next chance he got.

Chapter Text

The thing Aki loved most about these evenings was the chance to run his fingers through Hyde's hair. Well, okay, maybe second most. Naked was always better, but at the moment Aki had Hyde perched on a stool while he carefully worked his way through removing all of his senpai's extensions. Sure, Hyde's stylist could have done it as easily, but it was a nicely innocent-sounding excuse to be together.

“You know, it's too bad the only multi-band event Laruku does is Jack in the Box.”

“Mm? Why's that?” Hyde hummed and Aki had to stop a minute to nip a warning to his senpai's neck when he threatened to start squirming. He wasn't even half finished yet.

“Just ... it's DC only, yeah? Means other bands can't participate.”

“Why does this feel like you've got someone specific in mind, Kiki?” Hyde murmured.

“Like there's a band in the scene that would turn down the chance to share a stage with you, Haido,” Aki countered with a low chuckle.

“Out with it, Kiki.”

“'s'nothing, just... a friend who'd really like to get to know you better.”

“Like we need a live for that, ne?”

Aki laughed. Well, Hyde had a point....