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Dragon's Touch

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It had been some time since Moon Child had wrapped and Hyde had been doing his best to adjust back to life at home. Megumi had insisted on being one of his blood donors and Gackt had taken him to a small club downtown and introduced him around to give him alternative sources so that he was not solely reliant on his wife. There were a total of three people who could get close to him without him feeling uncomfortable, two of which were Megumi and Gackt, and the other was an American exchange student called Michael, who frequented the club and seemed to understand that Hyde had a problem with people being too close without needing a detailed explanation.

He was slowly learning a great deal about the vampires in Tokyo and it seemed that everyone knew Gackt in the vampire community, but very few knew who the musician really was when it came to the Dragon clan. Hyde had yet to visit Kyoto to meet the elders of his new clan, but he knew he was going to have to sooner or later.

When working, he had perfected what he mentally referred to as 'normal Hyde', at least he thought he must have, because no one seemed to have noticed anything, but on a personal level it was much more difficult. Tetsu had been trying to get him to go out with the rest of L'Arc almost since he came home, but he had been resisting. He'd been doing everything he needed to for his career, pretending everything was fine, but he had been hanging back when it came to any socialising. He was sure that when they had been together for various things the rest of the band had noticed that he had changed a bit, but so far no one had called him on it.

His period of grace was, however, up, since Megumi had gone to visit her mother and Tetsu had turned up earlier that evening and literally dragged him out of the house. They'd met the other two guys in a restaurant, which had been fun, but then they had gone on to a club and Hyde had spent a rather tense couple of hours trying to look as if he was enjoying himself. These days he seemed overly sensitive to people and the hyper atmosphere had driven him just about mad along with trying to avoid people touching him, but he had managed to keep it together long enough to convince the others that it might be nice to just have a quiet drink at home. Since they'd been spotted by some fans and only just made it out of the club before there was a scene, the others had been happy enough to agree.

It was when he led them all back into his home that the problems started. Tetsu always became touchy feely when tipsy, since his friend did not drink all that much or often, and Tetsu was well on his way to being very merry. The moment they made it through the door Tetsu threw his arm around Hyde and dragged him towards the drinks area. It took every ounce of will Hyde had not to push his friend away with more force than would have been good for either of them, but he managed to twist away from the oblivious Tetsu before he panicked too much.

"Sodas and beer are in the refrigerator in the kitchen," he said, doing his best to keep his voice even and disappearing behind the small bar to begin noisily moving bottles to cover the fact that he was on the verge of hyperventilating.

It had just been a playful hug and yet he was freaking out, which made him feel angry and vulnerable at the same time. Up until that point he had been doing so well. He had made the decision to keep everything that had happened in Taiwan a secret, but he was beginning to think that might not work.

"You get lost among all the tall bottles?" Tetsu said with a laugh from the other side of the bar and Hyde realised he had been sorting for rather a long time.

Doing his best to pull himself together he grabbed a bottle of single malt from the back of the cupboard and a few other things before standing up.

"Just looking for the good stuff," he said with a smile that he prayed no one would realise did not reach his eyes.

"You weren't kidding," Tetsu said, looking at the bottle of scotch.

Hyde had chosen a bottle of eighteen year old Scottish single malt that he'd been given as a birthday present that year; if he was going to get smashed, he might as well do it in style.

The next problem reared its head as he and Tetsu returned to the main sitting area; Yukki and Ken had already taken up residence in the two chairs, both sprawled across them like they owned the place. That left Hyde and Tetsu with the couch and it took a lot of effort for Hyde to sit down. On an intellectual level he knew none of his friends would ever hurt him, but it wasn't his intellect that was always in control these days.

"You okay, Hyde-kun," Ken asked as Hyde did his best to pour the drinks without shaking; "you look pale?"

"You would not believe the size of the spider I just found in that cupboard," he joked back, hopping that a quick grin would get him off the hook.

Ken was still watching him more closely than usual as he handed the guitarist a drink, but he made an effort to throw himself back on the couch as if nothing was wrong and Ken seemed to be satisfied. He was not sure why he could not put a mask on like he had been doing every time he stepped out of the house these days, but when it came to friends he just couldn't do it.

The members of the band all had so much going on now that Hyde knew he could deflect any attention from himself so he launched into a whole bunch of questions about the other's solo projects. It worked wonderfully since Tetsu sat forward and began talking animatedly about his solo stuff; that was until Yukki took over after a question from Ken, and Tetsu sat back again.

When they had first sat down, Hyde had managed to maintain quite a lot of personal space, but Tetsu didn't seem bothered about letting him keep it and they ended up sitting shoulder to shoulder. They'd done the same many times before, but Hyde felt himself tensing up and there was nothing he could do about it.

"What do you think, Hyde-kun?" Yukki's question caught him off guard, since he'd been concentrating so hard on not reacting to Tetsu's proximity that he hadn't been paying attention.

"Um," he just about managed, but he was sure the two on the chairs at least had noticed that something was wrong, "sorry I wasn't listening, what do I think about what?"

He couldn't help noticing that the liquid in his glass was moving and he put it down rapidly to hide the tremble in his hands, but he knew he'd been a few seconds too late. The only one who hadn't seemed to have noticed anything was Tetsu and that was mainly because his other friend was facing the wrong way.

"What do you think of those new guys, umm ..?" Tetsu asked, reiterating what had to have been the question and apparently forgetting a significant part of it himself.

Seemingly completely oblivious to the tension in the room Tetsu then proceeded to throw an arm around Hyde, drag him close and kiss the top of his head. He panicked, there was no other word for it and he all but climbed over the side of the couch trying to get away. His heart was beating so fast that it was like a constant thunder in his ears and he had to fight down the urge to let all his defences out. He was so close to releasing the vampire and scaring the crap out of his friends that it wasn't funny and he literally scrabbled to get away, not coming to a halt until he was a good few feet clear.

All of his friends were looking at him shocked and worried, but all he could hear in his head was Lee's voice taunting him.

"I'm sorry," he tried to bring himself back under control, but he could feel any composure he had left breaking and he knew it was too late, "I ... I'm sorry."

Then he fled, running straight for his bedroom before he could fold completely in front of his friends. He slammed the door and moved to the far corner between the bed and the wall, sinking down and dragging the cover from the bed with him. The tears would not stay away any longer and he could not hold back the sob that caused his whole body to shake as it broke free. The rest of L'Arc had to think he was a head case and he didn't know if he could fix it.

====

Tetsu watched Hyde run from the room in complete shock, rapidly sobering up as he watched his friend implode. He had known something wasn't right all evening, but he had thought it would have turned out to be something stupid and this definitely wasn't. Climbing off the couch he followed Hyde's trail to the closed bedroom door and put his ear to it, hearing the crying coming from inside immediately.

"What..?" he turned and silenced Ken with one look, directing the other two who had accompanied him back to the main room.

"What's going on?" Ken finally asked his question in little more than a whisper when they were far enough away so Tetsu thought Hyde wouldn't hear them.

"I don't know," Tetsu admitted, not bothering to hide his worry.

"But Hyde-kun's has been on edge all evening," Yukki pointed out quietly; "he hated the club."

"He hasn't been the same since he came back from Taiwan," Ken agreed with a nod, "but I thought he was just working too hard."

Tetsu looked at his companions bewildered faces and came to a decision, pulling out his mobile phone as he did so.

"Megumi-san told me something before she went away," he said as the other two looked at him questioningly, "and I thought it was rather odd, but now I know why."

"What?" Ken asked, clearly agitated.

"She said if anything strange happened to call Gackt," Tetsu replied and pressed the call button as he found the number Megumi had given him.

"Gackt?" Yukihero asked with a frown. "Why Gackt?"

"Because he obviously knows what happened to Hyde-kun," Ken said as Tetsu waited for an answer.

It took a couple of seconds for anyone to answer and Tetsu was beginning to think no one was going to when the line clicked into operation.

"Moshi, moshi," said the voice from the other end.

It was Hyde who was good friends with Gackt, but Tetsu knew the other singer in passing so he hoped it wouldn't be too awkward.

"Gackt-san, it's Tetsu," he said, praying that he was not about to make a huge mistake, "something's wrong with Hyde-kun; Megumi-san gave me your number if anything happened."

"Where are you?" was the instant response.

"Hyde-kun's house," Tetsu replied without even thinking about it.

"I'll be there in half an hour," Gackt said without the slightest hesitation. "What happened?"

Tetsu could hear that Gackt was already moving and suddenly he didn't feel as ridiculous anymore.

"We were having a drink just like we used to, I grabbed him because he was zoning on us and he freaked," Tetsu was beginning to feel like it was his fault. "He's shut himself in his bedroom."

There was silence from the other end of the line for a moment.

"Don't leave," Gackt said eventually, "but don't try and approach him either. I'll be there soon."

And with that the line went dead. Tetsu was left feeling rather shocked and not sure what his role was in all this.

"He said don't leave, but don't try and get Hyde-kun out either," he relayed the instructions; "he'll be here as quickly as he can."

"What the hell happened in Taiwan?" Ken sounded confused and protective at the same time; none of them liked it when one of their number was hurt in some way.

====

Tetsu had been the one to open the door when Gackt had arrived and they had exchanged no more than four words before Gackt had walked straight to the bedroom, opened the door and walked in, closing it firmly behind him. Since then Tetsu had been sitting on the couch waiting for any sign that there was life in the other room. Ken had poured him a large whiskey, but it went a long way to show how worried they all were that not one of them had touched anything since Hyde had fled.

As soon as Gackt reappeared in the doorway, Tetsu was on his feet; he needed to know what was going on. Hyde was a very good friend and he had never seen him like this before. Even though he dreaded knowing the truth he had to understand.

"How is he?" he asked when Gackt came to a halt a few feet away.

"Not good," the other musician replied with stark honesty, "but I've seen him worse. He would like to talk to you, Tetsu-san, if you wouldn't mind."

"Of course," Tetsu replied, filled with trepidation, but heartened that Hyde actually wanted to see him.

Gackt caught his arm as he went to walk past.

"Don't push him," Gackt said quite seriously, "and don't touch him unless he initiates it, please."

It sounded like he was going to be dealing with a skittish animal rather than one of his best friends, but Tetsu nodded his consent; the last thing he wanted to do was make this worse. He walked into the dimly lit room and closed the door which meant he had to stand still for a moment as his eyes adjusted.

"Over here, Tet-chan," a far weaker voice than he was expecting called to him and he turned to the far corner.

He could just about make out a small figure huddled down beside the bed and for a moment he just stood there not sure what to do, but then he shook himself and began to walk over. Remembering Gackt's words he moved to a point where he could see Hyde properly even in the low light, which was just about at the end of the bed and then he sat down. Hyde was hugging his knees and peering out over the top of them at Tetsu and he had to resist the urge to reach out and try and comfort his friend.

"I'm sorry," Hyde said quietly, "I didn't mean to freak out."

"That's not important, Hyde-kun," Tetsu said immediately, since he didn't care about that at all, "Just tell me what I did so I don't do it again."

The sound that Hyde made at that could have been a laugh, but Tetsu did not like the tone of it at all; Hyde was clearly deriding himself.

"It wasn't you," Hyde said as if he was annoyed, but Tetsu was very sure that his friend's tone was not aimed at him, "it was my fault."

"You were terrified," Tetsu said, not happy with how Hyde was running himself down, "and I know I caused that. Something's wrong, Hyde-kun, and I don't care if you don't want to tell us what it is, but the least we can do is make sure we don't do anything again."

He could just about see the whites of Hyde's eyes as his friend watched him from under his bangs.

"I can't bear to be touched," Hyde said eventually in little more than a whisper.

That confused Tetsu, because what he had seen of Hyde lately had not indicated anything of the sort. Thinking about it, Hyde had seemed normal when in front of the camera or with strangers most of the time and it began to dawn on Tetsu that maybe his friend was a better actor than he had ever given him credit for.

"You've been hiding it very well," Tetsu said, wondering how much will power Hyde actually had.

He had always known Hyde was very serious about his career, but to be able to conceal something like this must have taken incredible effort.

"Normal Hyde," he heard his friend mutter, but chose not to comment on it.

"Is there anything we can do to help?" he decided that being proactive was better than just sitting there wondering. "If you need us we can get between you and everyone else."

There was silence for a while and Tetsu knew he was being watched again.

"Thank you," Hyde said eventually, "but it's not 'them' who are a problem. I can cope with people who aren't real to me; it's friends I can't shut out."

Tetsu so wanted to ask why; he felt a great need to know, but he held his tongue. Something terrible had to have happened to Hyde and he had no intention of forcing what out of his friend.

"It's getting better," Hyde said before an awkward silence could fall, "slowly; I'm so sorry."

"I'm your friend, Hyde-kun," Tetsu said sitting on his desire to reach out, "if you need someone to freak out at I'm here. Ken and Yukki are here for you too; we don't care what you have to do as long as you let us help."

For a moment he thought that Hyde's eyes were actually slightly luminous, but he blinked and it was gone so he turned slightly and watch Hyde out of the corner of his eye so it didn't look like he was staring. He had never seen Hyde so cowed, no even after Sakura was forced out of the band, and he prayed hard that there was something he could actually do.

"Something happened," Hyde said hesitantly, "while we were filming."

Tetsu turned his face back, but refrained from commenting; Hyde would tell him what he wanted to in his own time.

"There was this," it was clear that Hyde wasn't sure what he was saying until it came out of his mouth and Tetsu found himself sitting very still in case he hurt his friend more, "psycho who had a problem with Gatchan. He thought me and Gatchan were..." Hyde's voice petered out so Tetsu waited, "were involved. He took an interest in me, but he only showed up the once so we thought he was gone. We didn't see anything for weeks and then one day everyone else was on shoot and I was just going down to join them and I saw him in the hotel."

Tetsu could feel that something terrible was coming the way Hyde's voice seemed to run out and it was so difficult to remain passive.

"He... um... he got me with something," Hyde eventually continued, "and when I... when I woke up he had me naked."

A coldness took hold of Tetsu and he dreaded it, but he knew what was coming.

"He raped me," it was obviously so hard for Hyde to say those words and Tetsu felt like he had let his friend down in some way. "Gatchan arrived with help, don't ask what kind of help, but it's over and done. That's why Mei-chan came over," at least it seemed easier for Hyde to talk about this bit, "and she and Gatchan put me back together. Gatchan wanted to close down the filming, but I asked him to keep going. It helped to be working."

"And you didn't think a break would have been a good idea?" Tetsu could not believe that Hyde had just tried to continue as if everything was normal.

"Being busy is better," Hyde said in very small voice, and Tetsu realised he probably sounded aggressive to his abused friend.

He took a deep breath and put aside anything he was feeling; this was about Hyde not him.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" he asked, realising that if nothing else he could offer his support.

"Just put up with me being an idiot," Hyde said, voice a little stronger at last.

"I've been doing that for ten years," Tetsu said as his mouth engaged before his brain, "so I think I can carry on."

Just as he realised what he'd said he heard the most amazing sound and it took him a second to comprehend that Hyde was laughing, and not the derisive laugh of earlier, but a really amused sound. He was shocked when he realised that he had done something right.

"When I get my head stuck too far up my arse remind me to talk to you, Tet-chan," Hyde said with the most life in his voice that Tetsu had heard since he walked into the room.

"Will you be okay?" he asked, finally giving in to the need to ask a direct question.

"Eventually," Hyde replied and for the first time Tetsu could see the bottom of his friend's face as Hyde appeared from behind his knees.

"Are you coming out?" he asked, almost sure he knew the answer.

Hyde shook his head and began to lower his chin again, which Tetsu decided was a bad idea.

"That's okay," he said quickly, hoping to cut Hyde off before his friend disappeared back into the huddle Hyde had been in most of the time, "I'll get the guys home, unless you want us to stay."

Another shake of the head and a rather guilty expression, but the fact that Hyde was still looking at him seemed to be a positive sign.

"Gatchan said he would stay," Hyde admitted as if it was the worst thing in the world.

"Hey," Tetsu said before Hyde could get any guiltier, "whatever you need, Hyde-kun."

He knew it was almost time to leave, but there was one question that he had to ask. He wasn't quite sure if he should be asking it, but he needed to.

"Should I tell the guys?" he said eventually.

Hyde looked startled for a moment and then appeared very unsure.

"I won't if you don't want me to," Tetsu clarified quickly, "but I will if it will help."

There was silence for a long time and Tetsu thought Hyde would say no, but eventually there was almost an imperceptible nod.

"I'll make sure they understand," he said in what he hoped was a reassuring manner.

"Thank you," Hyde said quietly.

Tetsu slowly stood up, now it was time to go.

"Call if you want to talk or you just want to see my ugly face," he said and he meant it.

Hyde nodded and Tetsu took that as his cue to exit. He walked slowly back into the other room, closing the door behind him. Ken and Yukki both looked up as he walked towards them, worry in their eyes; Gackt appeared to be his usual stoic self.

"He's not coming out," Tetsu said as he tried to assimilate everything he had heard, "but I think he's holding it together."

"Is he okay?" Ken asked.

"What's going on?" Yukki asked at exactly the same time.

Tetsu looked to Gackt, but the man could have been made of stone for all the expression there was on his face and Tetsu knew he was on his own for this. He knew what he had to say, but no words would form in his mind.

"Um," was the best he could manage to begin with, "I don't think he's going to be really okay for a while, but he's coping."

Both of the other members of L'Arc appeared worried by that statement and both sat forward as they realised information was forthcoming.

"I think I need that drink now," Tetsu said and reached down for his glass and he took a swig before he tried to decide what to say next.

Gackt was watching him dispassionately, but there was the knowledge in the other musician's eyes that Tetsu was now carrying around as well. For a moment he didn't want to tell the other two, almost to protect them, but he had told Hyde that he would.

"Tell us, Tet-chan," Ken said in a very serious tone.

"He was raped," Tetsu decided that blunt was the best approach.

Yukki looked completely stunned and Ken's face went stormy in a second, both looked over at Gackt almost as if it was the singer's fault.

"The man who did it has been dealt with," Gackt said in an even tone, "and the information will never reach the press."

Then Gackt stood up and walked away from the group and Tetsu was kind of glad. This was difficult enough to talk about with people he had known very well for years let alone with Gackt there.

"We should go," Tetsu said as the other two did the whole assimilation thing, "Gackt-san is going to stay. The best thing we can do right now is give Hyde-kun some space."

"We can't just go," Ken protested, but Tetsu stopped him by holding up his hands.

"We have to," he said firmly; "it took a hell of a lot of courage for Hyde-kun to tell me, and then he let me tell you. He does not need us hanging around; he'll talk to us when he can. Now, we're leaving."

Gackt was looking at him when he turned to glance at the man and he received the only acknowledgement that he and Gackt were on the same page; the other singer nodded. With that, Tetsu began very efficiently herding his friends towards the exit. They would take this one day at a time and he was sure as hell making sure that Hyde had all the support he needed.

The End