After practice wrapped up for the day, Gackt asked with his eyes whether anyone would join him at the gym. I feel so restless today, he thought. You and Jun-ji comically averted their eyes when Gackt plaintively glanced in their direction, eliciting laughter from all three.
“Fine, fine,” Gackt grumbled good-naturedly. “I’ll go to the gym on my own today,” he turned to pack his bag.
“I’ll go with you, Gacchan,” Chachamaru’s soft voice cut like flowers through the other member’s giggles. He rested a hand on Gackt’s back where he bent, zipping his gym bag.
“Ah, good,” Gackt smiled up at the older man. “Let’s go, Chacha.”
The two said their goodbyes to the others and made plans to get dinner later all together the next day; then, walking arm in arm, the pair left the studio.
Once they had departed, You and Jun-ji exchanged knowing looks, and laughed.
The two of them had always been like this; since the start. It had been almost twenty years that they had known and worked with each other – they’d been through far too much to ever even consider leaving the other’s side. Forming Gackt’s solo career after he’d left Mizer, writing songs together in Chacha’s old van, leaning on each other when they both couldn’t seem to handle the pressure of the industry. The tours, the late nights, the 2am phone calls begging for artistic inspiration, the tears of frustration, of joy. Gackt had always relied on Chachamaru, but their bond seemed deeper than a brotherhood; he never delved deep enough to explore what that might mean, and it seemed that neither did Chachamaru. So, the pair went on living; content, side by side, arms linked – facing the world.
Today, it was Chacha’s job to spot Gackt while he lifted weights.
“How heavy are you planning on going today? Aren’t you tired from rehearsal?” he asked, concerned. Gackt smiled up at the other from his lying-down position on the bench, and shook his head no.
“If it’s too much, you’ll just have to rescue me, won’t you?” he replied. Chacha slapped Gackt’s shoulder playfully. “Come on,” he said.
“One… two… three…” Chacha’s counting voice was measured, calm. It’s almost enough to put me to sleep, if I wasn’t lifting 200 pounds above my head, Gackt thought fondly. As he continued to lift and lower the weights, he glanced up at Chacha, sitting straight behind his head, arms at the ready to catch the weights from Gackt’s tired arms. After a while, Gackt felt a hand resting gently on the top of his head. He was used to Chacha’s gentle touch, so he did not break his concentration. Where Chacha’s long fingers softly touched Gackt’s forehead, the skin felt warm. He looked upside down at the older man’s face – what he could see, anyway – and noted sweetly how bright his eyes were. I hope he never loses that youthful glow, Gackt thought wistfully.
The pair moved from machine to machine, and ended their workout together with stretches. They sat on the floor, legs apart as wide as they could go, feet touching each other like a mirror image. They held hands and stretched their bodies forward as far as they could without snapping.
“One, two, three…” Chacha’s smooth voice counted the reps once again. He held tightly to Gackt’s hands, tiny beads of sweat forming around his forehead, wisps of hair beginning to loosen from his long ponytail. “Gacchan, I’m not as flexible as I used to be…!” He was the first to straighten his back and let go of the other man’s hands, laughing. “Be kind to me, I’m an old man, now!” He smiled, gingerly undoing his ponytail and combing the long, dyed hair with his fingers.
Gackt straightened his back in turn and drew his legs back into a cross-legged position, elbows resting on his knees. “Chacha, you’re not old,” he reassured. “Look at you,” he smiled. “You don’t look a day over 30.”
That elicited a scoff from the older man. “And yet, I’m almost twice that age!” Strange, he thought, I don’t feel it.
“Let’s shower and go,” Gackt said after a while. He stood up first, extending a hand for the other to take as he stood. Chacha left his hand in Gackt’s for a beat longer than usual before slipping it around the other’s waist.
“Yes, I’m hungry!” He declared playfully. Then, grinning next to Gackt’s ear as they walked, “Buy me dinner!” They walked off to the locker room together, leaving the few patrons in the gym staring at them as they left; the pair didn’t notice the quizzical looks.
As was their habit after a workout, the two men sang in the showers side by side. They had settled on an old favourite, Hoshi no Suna.
In the steam-filled room, their voices echoed against the white tiles.
I kept singing that song for you, the one you taught me as you smiled at the dawn;
and I kept on counting the tears that returned to the starry sky;
again and again and yet again, the nights merely repeated themselves--
ah, so deeply, so very deeply, even now...
yes... I love you still.
As they sang the final line of the song, the pair turned to each other in the shower and looked into each other’s eyes, and smiled. There was no embarrassment in either man’s face, no rising blush, nothing. Just a soft stare that seemed to say, how long it has been… having you next to me?
Chacha was the first to turn the water off, and patted Gackt’s shoulder saying, “let’s get something to eat,” as he smiled and left to get changed.
Yes, Gackt thought, I’m hungry.
Today, though, something kept Gackt a few moments longer in the shower, lagging behind the other man. For the first time, the thought struck that he would be embarrassed to have Chacha watch him dry off and dress. Whatever had prompted it, he hung back a few moments.
By the time he emerged, Chacha was half-dressed. Unaware of Gackt’s hesitation, Chacha smiled up at the other man and jokingly chastised, “Come on now, slow-poke. I’m hungry! You promised me dinner,” He fastened the buttons on his shirt with one long-fingered hand and twirled his hair with the other.
Gackt couldn’t help but smile. He’s so… soft, Gackt thought. “Right, right,” he said apologetically. “I’ll be quick.” He sat on the bench and tightened the towel around his waist. In a moment, Chacha tossed his own towel so that it landed on Gackt’s wet hair. He felt Chacha begin to gently rub his hair dry. “Thanks,” a muffled voice came from underneath the towel. Chacha smiled.
Eventually, the boys made it to a hole-in-the-wall ramen joint, a favourite of Chacha’s when he was first starting out. I refuse to believe that the 80s were almost 40 years ago, he thought. How young I was at the start of all of this!
The pair sat down at a dimly-lit table towards the back, even though it was deserted inside. The booth was cramped, so Chacha’s long legs tangled a little with Gackt’s under the table; though, the pair didn’t seem to mind. They were beyond displays of shyness now, and never really gave their skinship a second thought; until today, it seemed – at least for Gackt. Of course, seeing men in a different way was nothing new to him; but this was Chacha. He didn’t want to ruin it. As they drank, Gackt allowed himself to remember when they first started out – how handsome he thought Chacha was! But of course, then, even he had kept his attraction to men under wraps. He was just beginning his solo career, and he couldn’t afford the rumors. But, then audiences seemed to scream for fanservice – and Chacha was always happy to go along with it on stage. The pair never really spoke about it; it just seemed to be a part of their friendship. So, Gackt never pushed it. Today, though… he felt different.
In comfortable silence, the two slurped up thick udon noodles and brazenly called out for refill after refill of their beers. The attendant was more than happy to rush over and refill their glasses again and again; a signed photo of Chacha and Gackt hung behind the bar; the photo was at least 15 years old by now. How cute, Gackt thought as he sipped his beer and looked at Chacha through long lashes. A favourite son, huh? Look how young we were then… he couldn’t help the smile that grew on his face.
“Gacchan,” Chacha said after a while, “where are you?” Gackt felt Chacha’s hand rest on his own. “You’re miles away tonight.”
“I guess I am, aren’t I?” Gackt replied apologetically, blinking himself back to reality. “I don’t mean to be,” he added, patting Chacha’s hand, still resting atop his own. “Just… reflecting.”
“Us, I suppose,” Gackt replied honestly. “How long have we known each other, Yukihiro?” Gackt surprised himself – when was the last time I called him that? – his real name felt smooth and weighty on his tongue, like a melting chocolate.
Chacha seemed equally surprised, but pleasantly so. “Gacchan, you must really be deep in thought to be calling me by my real name,” Chacha smiled, taking a long sip of his beer.
Gackt shook his head. “It’s nothing, don’t worry. Just thinking about all of this,” he gestured with his hand at the two of them. “We’ve known each other so long, isn’t it natural to reminisce?”
“That’s true,” Chacha agreed. “But, you’ve been quiet today. Is something on your mind?” He looked up at Gackt with his large round eyes. I don’t like it when you’re so quiet, Chacha thought. It worries me… like that time…
Gackt shook his head again. “No, really. It’s nothing – just a little melancholy tonight, I suppose.”
“Do you want to get out of here?” Chacha offered.
Thinking a moment, Gackt agreed. “Yeah, let’s go back to yours.”
They settled the bill and tipped generously, and posed for a selfie with the bar staff and chef. He stood next to Gackt, a hand resting gently at the small of the other man’s back, thumb stroking the soft skin beneath the shirt. Another photo for their wall, Chacha thought sweetly. If they put it side by side with the other one, you can tell how old we’ve gotten, I suppose. Gacchan is right; we’ve been together a long time. He smiled at the knowledge that in this world, there probably wasn’t a single soul that knew him better than Gackt.
“So,” Chacha began as he let Gackt into his apartment, “shall we have another drink?”
Gackt, though already feeling quite warm from the beers they’d drank at the restaurant, nodded his head yes. He followed Chacha into the kitchen and helped himself to the snacks in the cupboard. “I want something sweet,” he said, searching through the chips and shrimp snacks Chacha was so fond of. He stumbled on a package of strawberry Pocky at the back of the shelf. He snatched it up and waved it at Chacha, eyebrows fluttering as if to say, “I didn’t realize you were a schoolgirl!”
“What?” Chacha retorted, smirking. “I like pink.” Then, after a moment, “Share it with me. I want something sweet, too.”
With the beers and the Pocky in hand, the pair moved over to the couch and turned on the TV for background noise. They sat close together on the couch, as they often did. Gackt pulled open the cardboard tab on the box of Pocky and offered one to Chacha, who opened his mouth expectantly. Gackt, obliging, fed him the pink yogurt-covered stick. Crunching happily, they sat in silence for a moment.
“Gacchan,” Chacha said after a while, “How long has it been?” He lolled his head back on the couch and looked at Gackt through heavy-lidded eyes – the alcohol was beginning to take effect, as much as he hated to admit it.
Gackt took the Pocky from his mouth and held it like a cigarette. “Almost twenty years,” he smiled. “Can you believe that?” He turned his head to face the other man and brought his legs close to his body, sitting like a child. He extended an arm, inviting Chacha to rest against his body. Chacha moved closer to Gackt and happily laid his head against the other’s chest. How comfortable, Chacha thought. When was the last time we rested like this? He smiled. It was past the time to question the nature of their relationship, wasn’t it? After all, he was getting old… and whatever it was that was between the two of them, Chacha thought, it would be too late to acknowledge it… wouldn’t it? So, he contented himself in the role of Big Brother, mentor, friend – though sometimes, he did allow himself to wonder whether Gackt ever thought of him as a man, as he sometimes couldn’t help doing. That they were so comfortable being with each other like this, so close… mustn’t it mean something? He inhaled the smell of Gackt’s cologne. So fragrant, like flowers… sweet, like he is.
Chacha closed his eyes, content to rest in the crook of Gackt’s neck and breathing in his scent deeply. I don’t want to get up from this spot, he thought. He almost chastised himself – I’m too old to be feeling this way, again and again… I keep coming back to my feelings for him. Shouldn’t I be content with things, as they are?
Just then, bringing him out of his reverie, Chacha felt a soft kiss being pressed to the top of his head. His eyes opened in surprise, but he did not move. Instead, he spoke in a whisper, “Gacchan, what are you doing?”
Gackt didn’t reply. Instead, he lifted Chacha’s face by his chin and brought their lips together in a slow, gentle kiss. Can you feel what I’m thinking? Chacha wondered, smiling into the kiss.
At last, Gackt spoke. “Chacha, I… you are so dear to me…” I don’t want to ruin this, he thought. It’s you, after all… you’ve always been by my side.
“Gacchan…” Chacha whispered between his kisses, “what has made you change your mind, after so long?” Could it be, he’s felt this way since the start?
Almost as though Gackt could read his mind, he replied, “I haven’t changed my mind, Chacha… it’s always been you,” he nestled his head in the crook of the other man’s neck. “I knew from the beginning, how special you would be to me… but I didn’t let myself see all of you, I didn’t allow it… I’m sorry.” Could we have been like this… the whole time? What a waste…
Chacha looked up at the ceiling, perhaps telling himself not to cry. How strange, he thought, that I feel like crying when something so wonderful is happening? “Gacchan,” he said at last, “look at us now… two old fools,” he laughed, almost bitterly, as he felt his voice choking up.
“Not old,” Gackt replied, “but fools, yes…” he stood up, and extended a hand. Chacha took it, and the pair stood, leaning into each other in a soft embrace. Gackt took Chacha’s hands and placed them around his waist. Without music, the two men started to sway and dance, Chacha’s head resting on Gackt’s shoulder.
After some time, Gackt began to sing. Chacha, upon recognizing the words, joined in softly as they swayed together in the living room.
Sinking more deeply than anyone else
Even my heart drowned
And now in this place I gaze only at you;
If it is a dream that will never return, then I will break it
Unable to forget, I want to meet you one more time.
Laying mirages side by side
Gathering your shadows,
I continue to wait while the hands of time remain frozen,
Sleepless nights and mornings of sighs,
Your favorite moon song…
“Yukihiro,” Gackt said once the song was over, “things… things won’t change, will they?”
Chacha smiled at the use of his real name. How lovely it sounds in your mouth, he thought. “No, Gacchan, they won’t,” another kiss. “Things will stay the same as they always have; the members know how close we are, they won’t notice if we touch each other more than we already do,” he spun the taller man as they swayed. “And in private,” he chanced another kiss, “in private, we can do whatever we please.”
The pair shared a knowing smile.
“Satoru,” Chacha whispered in Gackt’s ear – a whisper more like a hungry growl than anything. Hearing his real name spoken like that made Gackt’s heart jump. A smile spread across his lips.
“No one has called me that in years,” he said. Feeling bold, he added, “Say it again…”
Chacha pressed his lips to Gackt’s in a passionate kiss. He groaned delight at how receptive Gackt was being. “Satoru…” he said again, his voice low and sonorous. “Come to bed with me.”
It’s silly, Gackt thought, how long I have waited for him to say that to me… “Yes,” he replied. “Take me to bed.”
Chacha led Gackt by the hand to his bedroom; Gackt had often spent time there, and the pair had shared a bed more times than he could count – sleeping side by side was not something that made them blush. But tonight, both men seemed to treat it like the first time. They lay together on the bed, bathed in moonlight. For a while, they simply looked at each other, Chacha’s fingers tracing the outlines of Gackt’s body, while Gackt pressed soft kisses to Chacha’s lips and cheeks. Chacha’s hand at last dipped just under the waist of Gackt’s jeans, bringing forth a soft shudder from the other man. He slid closer to Gackt on the bed, and began to undo the buttons of his jeans with one hand, the other entwined in Gackt’s soft hair. Gackt, too, began to undress the other man – starting with the buttons on his shirt, he slipped his hand beneath the fabric and delighted in how soft Chacha’s chest was.
Slowly, slowly… Chacha thought to himself, I want to savor this… but Gackt seemed to have other plans; he climbed on top of Chacha’s slim frame and helped him remove his open shirt. Holding one of his wrists above his head and pinning him down to the bed, Gackt kissed along Chacha’s jawline and neck, pausing to nip and suck hungrily at the pale skin. “Ahh…” Chacha breathed. “Gaku…to…” He clawed at Gackt’s bare back with his free hand, trying to bring him closer. Gackt seemed to enjoy being just out of reach to the other man, and smirked delightfully every time Chacha sunk his nails into his skin.
“Chacha,” Gackt rested his forehead against Chacha’s chest, and with his free hand he slowly began to undo the buttons on Chacha’s jeans. He could feel just how excited Chacha was – and that only made his desire stronger. “Chacha… let me…” and as Chacha exhaled with a shiver as Gackt’s hand traveled below the band of his underwear, Gackt’s devilish grin grew wider.
The following day, Gackt and Chacha arrived at the studio together, grinning like idiots. The others were already there, sharing a drink and laughing.
“You’re late!” You joked as he tossed a beer in Gackt’s direction.
“Ah, sorry,” Gackt and Chacha said in unison, making everyone laugh.
“Something came up,” Chacha offered as explanation. Gackt couldn’t suppress the grin that began to form and quickly turned his back to the others to compose himself.
Jun-ji handed You a 5,000 Yen note, making a face that seemed to say, “dammit, I lost.”
Chacha noticed out of the corner of his eye, and, not wanting to spoil their fun, winked comically and blew a kiss.
“Let’s get started,” Gackt said at last, the shade of pink retreating from his cheeks.
“Yes, boss!” The members chimed.