Kyo made his way through the studio halls in search of the conference room. He had never been to the PSC building before and, frankly, wasn’t too excited to be there now. Why everyone was meeting here in the first place was beyond him. Shouldn’t they meet where they were going to be in the first place? The vocalist rounded another corner and saw an open door. He could hear chatter coming from the other side.
When Kyo neared the door he saw a sign indicating he was at the right room. The black haired man ventured inside. A group of men had gathered in the center, talking amongst themselves with no regard for the open door. Kyo saw some chairs along the back wall and immediately made his way to the corner. No one noticed him, but that was fine for now. It gave him a chance to observe without others knowing. Kyo scanned the room. Did he recognize anyone?
The tallest man had short light brown hair. Kyo didn’t recognize him. The second tallest had brown hair down to his shoulders. That was Byou from SCREW. Ryuto from Plastic Tree sat across the room. There was a blond Kyo’s height with a piercing under the center of his bottom lip. Kyo didn’t recognize him, either. His eyes focused on the other man his height. This man had black hair like Kyo did, but red ran from his chin down. That was Ruki from The GazettE. A man with short brown hair came in the room and walked right up to the group of four. “Nishikawa-san!” the tallest man and Ruki greeted with smiles. Oh… Takanori Nishikawa, T.M. Revolution. The conversation continued, Nishikawa joining in effortlessly.
“Kyo-san,” a cheerful voice said and the vocalist looked up in to another familiar face. “I’m glad you could come,” Mao smiled with a polite bow. Kyo managed a smile back. Mao was one of the few people who were not afraid of him. The younger vocalist excused himself and joined Byou’s side. Kyo’s brow creased at the look he saw the two share. What was their connection, exactly?
“Quite the crowd, huh?” another familiar voice quirked.
Kyo turned to the man sitting down beside him. “Kiyoharu.”
The elder smiled. “What’s up? It’s been a while.”
“I didn’t expect to see you here. Isn’t the crowd a little daunting?” Kiyoharu asked.
“Kaoru insisted I at least give it a try. He always has fun when a bunch of the guitarists get together,” Kyo shrugged nonchalantly.
Kiyoharu chuckled. “We can evade together,” he promised and Kyo laughed.
“Yo,” a deep voice said from the door. Two more people had arrived, one of them with black shaggy hair and the other with chestnut brown hair as short as Kyo’s with a v pattern on the buzzed sides.
“Oh my god, it’s Hyde-san!” the light brunet and short blond exclaimed in star-struck awe. “Ruki, Ruki, look, it’s Hyde-san!” the taller repeated, shaking the shorter man.
“Shou, let go! You’re acting like a school girl,” Ruki chastised.
“I told you I was more popular,” Hyde said to the man beside him.
“Oh, shut up,” the taller growled.
“Gackt-san, glad you could come,” Nishikawa smiled, being the only one who seemed to pay attention to the other man.
“Thank you, Nishikawa-san.”
“Ryutaro-san,” Hyde greeted with a smile at the man sitting across the room. Ryutaro simply smiled.
“Hyde-san, this is Shou-kun from Alice Nine,” Nishikawa introduced. “I think it’s safe to say he’s a big fan.”
“Nice to meet you,” the two bowed, Shou with a large blush. Kyo and Kiyoharu noticed the tall blond walk in past the others to join Ryutaro. He was taller than Shou by several inches. Another man did the same, this one with a different shade of light brown hair than Shou’s.
“Who was that?” Kyo asked in a whisper.
“Maya from LM.C and Jui from Gotcharocka,” Kiyoharu replied.
The shorter vocalist raised a brow. “Who?”
Before Kiyoharu could explain further a loud voice from the door interrupted all conversation in the room. “Let’s get this party started!”
“Miyavi!!” Shou and Maya shouted.
“Oh, no, it’s you,” Ruki and Gackt groaned in unison.
“So the married man made it after all,” Hyde teased.
“You’re one to talk,” Miyavi said without the least bit of offense.
“I’m divorced,” the shorter corrected.
Maya ran up to hug the soloist first. “I’m so glad you’re here!” he grinned. Kyo noticed then that no one else in the room was able to look Miyavi directly in the eye. “It’s been forever.” Miyavi hugged him back with a smile just as big. Shou pushed his way toward them, pulling them both in to the circle in the center of the room. Kyo and Kiyoharu watched in silence. Though Gackt and Ruki had opposed the soloist’s presence it was evident they were all good friends despite the fact.
“So is everyone here?” Miyavi asked to claim everyone’s attention. “How many are we supposed to have?”
“I think only half of us were able to come,” Shou replied.
Miyavi counted the men in the room. “Fourteen of us.”
“Fourteen?” Gackt repeated. “I count twelve.” Miyavi pointed to Kyo and Kiyoharu. “Oh.”
“How long have you been here, sempais?” Maya asked politely.
“About ten minutes,” Kiyoharu shrugged.
“Twenty,” Kyo said.
“Ooops,” several of the others muttered sheepishly.
“So what do we want to do?” Miyavi asked cheerfully. “Just drink and talk like the guitarists do?”
“I’m hungry,” some of the men said.
“Karaoke battle!” a few others proclaimed.
Ruki scrunched his nose in distaste. “Karaoke? Don’t we do enough singing every day as it is?”
Byou raised a hand. “I agree with Ruki.”
Mao scoffed. “You’re no fun.”
“Oh, come on! A karaoke battle would be fun! We can make bets, have teams, make a game out of it. It’ll be great,” Shou insisted.
Miyavi turned to the two on the back wall. “What do you say?” he quirked. Kiyoharu and Kyo looked at each other in uncertainty.
Ryutaro was the one to speak up. “A karaoke place has food and alcohol. Everyone gets what they want.”
Gackt gave a reluctant huff of air. “Karaoke it is.”
“Of all the places for karaoke…” Kyo murmured in irritation. The group had settled on a venue named Mancy’s. The karaoke room was well designed; that wasn’t what bothered the vocalist. Mancy’s was a spa-like luxury restaurant and karaoke bar with artwork in just about every free space there was. Kyo figured the only thing the business was missing was hotel rooms. It had also taken the group of 14 nearly half an hour to find the place, distance from the PSC building to Azabujuban not included. The room was barely big enough for them. A couch was set against each wall, separated by two small coffee tables, art and plug-ins placed above the back of the couch. A large flat-screen was hung on the far wall. The best way Kyo could describe the lighting was a soft orange.
“Everyone decide what you want to eat and drink,” Hyde told the group, handing out the menus they had been given at the front counter. Ordering took nearly ten minutes with all the indecisive personalities. Gackt, Hyde, Takeru (the short blond), Ryutaro, Jui, Kiyoharu and Kyo occupied one couch (in that order) while Mao, Byou, Nishikawa, Shou, Ruki, Miyavi and Maya occupied the other (also in that order).
“The good thing is we have Gackt and Hyde on our team,” Kiyoharu whispered to him.
“Why is that a good thing?”
“Their English is very good so we’re not outmatched just because they have Miyavi.”
“How do we determine who wins the karaoke round?” Mao asked.
“Depending on the points the person gets?” Nishikawa suggested. “This machine measures your accuracy.”
“Upping the ante,” Gackt pointed out.
“And what does the person who loses have to do?” Takeru pressed.
“A dare of his team’s choosing,” Miyavi decided.
“We’re all getting drunk and daring each other,” Ruki summarized. “Sounds like a blast.” Kyo found himself chuckling at the younger man’s tone.
“Sounds like trouble waiting to happen,” Jui mumbled.
“This was your idea,” Byou said to Shou, “so you get to go first.”
“I wasn’t the only one!” the younger protested.
“Go!” several of the others agreed and the vocalist stood with a pout.
An hour later food had been eaten, cleared away, and replaced by heavier alcohol and drinking snacks. Shou, Mao, Nishikawa, Gackt, Takeru, and Ryutaro had all performed. Maya was keeping score. “The next song is called Remind Story, skill level Difficult,” he announced. “It’s your guys’ turn,” the blond added, pointing to the other team.
Jui stood. “I got this one,” he volunteered casually.
“Someone’s confident,” Ryutaro commented. The brunet looked back at his team and winked. Everyone listened as the man sang. Jui knew every word, the tempo, and all the right notes. When he was finished the screen flashed with a bright, ‘Perfect Score’. The vocalist sat down with his team.
The others stared at him. “How did you do that?” Mao blinked.
“That’s the first perfect score all night,” Nishikawa added.
Jui shrugged. “I just know the song really well.”
“That was a really high note,” Gackt complimented. “I don’t think I could hit that.”
“I can,” Hyde and Kyo said in unison bluntness. The others laughed. “Your turn,” the soloist told the other team.
“Bad Romance,” Maya read.
“Mine!” Miyavi shouted, springing up from his seat with the microphone. This song was in English and sung by a woman. Miyavi’s score wasn’t perfect but very close.
“Isn’t that Lady Gaga?” Ruki quirked. The soloist nodded as he sat down. “Who’s next?”
The game continued in the same manner. Several of them had lost the round but no one had had to do anything extremely drastic in terms of punishment. More alcohol was consumed and more songs were sung. At some point Kyo zoned out, staring idly at the screen, the music turning in to background noise. He hadn’t drunk much, surprisingly, because he wasn’t in the mood. Some of the others were obviously drunk—or getting there. Mao’s words were already slurring and he was leaning on Byou for support. Gackt had drunk more than Mao had but was showing no signs of intoxication. Miyavi and Maya were downing alcohol like fish with water. Ryutaro and Jui had moved closer together but Kyo wasn’t sure that was because of the alcohol.
The drinks seemed to be loosening the reluctant players as well. Ruki and Byou, who had been so adamant on not playing, had started to join in when they were confident in the song. Even Kiyoharu had volunteered for a couple rounds. Eventually Kyo was the only one who hadn’t sung but no one seemed to notice. The vocalist zoned back in when Hyde sang a love song and earned another perfect score for their team. He also noticed the absolute smitten look in Takeru’s eyes. Kyo could have sworn he saw the blond shiver at some point. Then Kyo spaced out again, this time focusing on the black haired vocalist on the other couch.
Ruki had a radiant smile on his face, relaxed and carefree. When he wasn’t smiling, he looked almost sullen. He was handsome and some part of him was rather pretty. He was nowhere nearly as effeminate as Jui but the aspect could still be seen through his masculine features. Kyo couldn’t deny he thought the younger man very—very—bewitching. He also liked to hear Ruki sing even though their vocal styles were so different. Kyo was so out of it he didn’t notice Ruki staring back at him, or when the younger man got up to sing.
Kiyoharu gave him a soft nudge. “You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” the other replied, almost mechanically, and tried to focus on Ruki’s performance. He still ended up focusing more on Ruki than the song. At some point he caught the other man’s sideways glance. Ruki turned quickly back to the screen. Was that a blush?
“Ruki lost!” Takeru, Byou, Shou, and Maya shouted.
“What?!” the vocalist gawked. Kyo looked at the screen. It was true; Ruki’s final score was under the standard they had set. “What the hell happened?”
“You stumbled on the second verse and didn’t recover,” Miyavi explained.
“I will punch you,” Ruki threatened. “What’s my punishment?” he huffed.
“You look bored,” Kiyoharu commented.
“Just thinking,” Kyo corrected. He barely caught the other conversation in the room.
“Kiss someone in this room you’ve never kissed before!” Byou declared. The others cheered in agreement. Ruki downed the last of his drink, took a drag of what was left of his last cigarette, and crossed the short distance between the two teams.
“We can leave when you’re ready. I’m thinking of dropping out pretty soon,” Kiyoharu suggested.
“Sure,” Kyo replied with a nod. Then he felt a hand on his face, turning his attention forward. Soft lips pressed securely against his. The vocalist blinked in surprise as Ruki kissed him again, using the elder’s shock to his advantage, still blinking when the black haired man pulled away. The room was quiet for a split second before the onlookers cheered. Ruki gave Kyo a steady gaze before moving back to return to his seat.
“Nice one, Ru!” Shou clapped.
“You definitely caught him by surprise,” Nishikawa and Gackt praised.
Something inside Kyo burst. He shot up from the couch and grabbed Ruki’s wrist, turning him around and kissing him with crushing force. Kyo gave Ruki’s bottom lip a sharp bite in punishment. Ruki hissed at the act and responded with eager kisses of his own. The others grew silent as they watched in shock. The elder pushed his tongue past the man’s pliable lips, finding the taste of alcohol mixed with tobacco and mint, Ruki’s hands running in to his short blond hair. Again Kyo nipped at the soft flesh of Ruki’s lips, causing him to moan. The elder pulled away first and both men panted for air.
Ruki shivered at the dark glint of desire in Kyo’s eyes. “My place or yours?” he husked.
“My apartment is ten minutes from here,” Kyo replied.
“Yours,” the younger vocalist decided. He and Kyo gathered their things before rushing out the door.
Hyde jumped as Kyo rushed past him and bumped the drink in his hand. “Shit!” he cursed as the liquid spilled all over the front of his shirt. “Don’t laugh at me, you little shit,” he glared at the taller man beside him.
Gackt tried to muffle his laughter in vain. “There’s some on your neck,” he pointed out.
“Don’t blame me.”
The other soloist sighed. Before he could reach for a napkin he noticed Takeru leaning closer. People gawked as the small blond ran his tongue along Hyde’s neck, gathering the alcohol on the other man’s skin, the look in his eyes when he pulled away being non-too-angelic. The stare Hyde gave back was no less sinful.
Takeru’s lips twitched with a smirk. “You can kiss me now, sempai… or miss your chance,” he announced.
With prompt reply the soloist had claimed Takeru’s lips with his, the blond melting visibly at the connection. “My place, now,” Hyde growled and took him by the hand. Takeru barely had time to grab his coat and handbag before being pulled out the door.
The others stared after them in silence. Ryutaro gave Jui a meaningful glance. The effeminate vocalist nodded, grabbing his own things and following the elder out the door. Shou cleared his throat and slowly placed his drink back on the table. Mao and Byou followed suit. “So…” Maya voiced slowly.
“I would say tonight worked out very well,” Miyavi blurted with amusement.