The Strength of Three Part 4 - Breaking Point
It had been tempting, so severely tempting, to answer the questions Shuichi had put to me. To just break down and say what was wrong. All the doubts that had been plaguing me since the day I'd made the mistake of picking up that tabloid.
Was the only reason I'd ever gotten a chance to be in Bad Luck because of Tohma? Were my remixes uninspired? Just poor imitations of someone else's work? Nittle Grasper's new song had sounded alot like what I'd been working on for Paradise. Had that been chance? Or had I heard my cousin working and had copied it without realizing it?
I'd had the Paradise remix ready, but everyone had been so enthralled with Nittle Graspers new song that the thought of putting my remix to the test of following my cousin's work suddenly had terrified me. What the tabloid had said was suddenly more than just words written by some sensationalist trying to cause a stir. I felt like the charalatan they'd accused me of being. A half-rate musician who'd gotten in because of family ties instead of talent.
What scared me the most was the thought that maybe that was how my bandmates saw me. That if I brought up the questions plaguing me, they'd only confirm my worst fears.
I was at the breaking point. Needing someone to confide in, but terrified to discover my worst fears were correct. When I realized I'd forgotten my music folder at N-G, I didn't know what to do. I wanted to go get it back, but at the same time I didn't want to face anyone to get it.
The sun was setting at the park not far from N-G Studios where Suguru stood, still torn by what to do. His privacy was interrupted when a familiar voice called his name. "Fujisaki Suguru."
Suguru turned, startled to find Yuki Eiri standing not far from where he was watching the sun set. He was holding his music folder, watching him with a guarded look. "Yuki-san...?"
"I believe this belongs to you." He approached, tossing the folder onto the bench next to him.
Suguru had a strange desire to open the folder and make sure everything was there, but he restrained himself, managing to simply pick it up. "How did you get it?"
"Shuichi." Yuki shrugged, as if it should have been obvious. Taking out a cigarette to light, he made no motion to leave.
Suguru found himself looking at the folder, feeling trapped in an awkward silence. If he left it would seem like he was running away, but what was he supposed to say? Why wasn't Yuki leaving now that he'd delivered the folder? "Did...he say anything?"
"Asked if I could find you and give it back. Seemed to think you didn't want to see him." Taking a drag from the cigarette the novelist still made no motion to leave.
"...I take it you know everything that's been going on."
Yuki snorted. "You think Shuichi would keep this to himself? He can't keep his mouth shut anywhere - even in bed."
That was more information about his bandmate than he really needed to know, Suguru decided. Still, it nagged at him that Shuichi had sent Yuki out with the folder. Why not K? Or Sakano? Or Hiro? Why Yuki? "He must be upset."
"His music is important to him. One of the most important things in his life."
Suguru slowly nodded. He was aware of that. The only thing more important to him was the people he cared about. Like Yuki, and Hiro. "What do you think he'll do now that the band's broken up?"
"No guesswork needed there. He told me once what he'd do if Bad Luck ever split up."
"He did?" Suguru blinked, surprised Shuichi had contemplated the thought. He didn't seem the type to plan ahead like that.
"He even talked it over with Tohma."
"Tohma...he's going to become a soloist then?" He asked, interested inspite of himself.
Yuki snorted. "Do you know your bandmates at all?"
"Huh?" Suguru looked at him, startled.
"For as long as you've been part of the stupid band you'd think you'd know your bandmates pretty well, but you don't seem to know the first thing about them. No wonder the band's falling apart."
"I know my bandmates!" Fujisaki protested, finding himself angry at the accusation. "Just because we aren't close-"
"You don't have to be that close to know Shuichi would never survive as a soloist. He needs someone else to give him the drive to perform."
"Well, with you for support, it's little wonder he needs someone to back him." Suguru sniped before he thought better of it. When had he become so childish?
The arc of Yuki's cigarette brought his attention back to the blonde as it landed right in front of him. He looked up at the novelist, but Yuki neither looked at him or said one word as he stepped forward to crush the cigarette with his foot, grinding out the spark. Suguru swallowed, hit by the feeling it could be him under the shoe. That, in fact, the blonde would prefer it that way.
"If you're looking for a second career choice, maybe you should try the tabloids." His eyes pierced his, and Suguru couldn't stop the sharp intake of breath as the barb hit home. "He's going to write lyrics for other bands at N-G when Bad Luck breaks up...or that garbage he calls lyrics anyway."
"Our songs aren't garbage!" He snapped out defensively, not thinking, just reacting.
"Hn. Grade schoolers could write better music."
Tears stung the back of his eyes and he found himself stomping his foot childishly in his anger. "That's not true! Our music is good! Our songs are good...!" He trailed off, realizing what he was saying.
"For someone who wants to leave you sure are defensive." Yuki told him.
Suguru bit his lip. "I..."
"I don't like to see Shuichi cry."
Suguru blinked, looking at the novelist in utter confusion. Where had that come from?
"So before you walk away you better be sure. This better not be some adolescent crisis." When Suguru made no reply, Yuki turned and started walking away. After a few feet he paused to glance back. He almost seemed to hesitate before speaking. "I don't like to share him, you know. Even though I know I have to...you're his bandmate, so I have to share him with you...don't make me regret it." His eyes lingered on the music folder, and then he was gone.
Somehow understanding something, Suguru unzipped the folder as fast as his shaking hands would allow. On the top was a sheet from the notebook Shuichi used to write his lyrics. The pink-haired singer's handwriting filled the page. Suguru found his eyes riveted to the words written there. Tears formed on his lashes as he read and as he reached the last line he found his legs giving out on him. He collapsed next to the bench, resting his face on the open folder and let his tears fall on the tabloid still inside it.
The phone rang, and Hiro groaned when it wouldn't stop. He peered at the clock. 3am. Pulling himself out of bed, he managed to make it to the phone, contemplated throwing it out the window for a few miliseconds, and finally picked up the receiver. "What is it, Shuichi?"
Hiro blinked. "Suguru?"
"Look, I know this is odd timing, but...could you come down to the studio?"
"Yu want me to come down to N-G?" He had to clarify it. This was beyond odd.
"Is something wrong?"
"No...Yes...it's too hard to explain on the phone. Just consider it a Bad Luck emergency meeting."
Wide awake now, and not a little confused, Hiro nodded before remembering he was on the phone. "Alright, I'll be there."
They met outside the front doors. Somehow Suguru had timed it so Shuichi and Hiro would arrive at the same time. Hiro was tempted to ask how he'd accomplished the feat, but recalling other times Suguru had pulled things from thin air with the same eerie accuracy and timing of his cousin, he decided against it.
"Well, looks like the bands all here..." Hiro stated. "Though our management's nowhere to be seen."
"I didn't call them." Suguru admitted. "This doesn't involve them." Hiro raised his eyebrow, but said nothing. Opening his music folder, Suguru pulled out the page with Shuichi's handwriting on it. "I...got it a little wet." He stated. The paper was stained with what looked distinctly like teardrops.
Shuichi smiled. "It doesn't change what's on the page." He replied.
Suguru actually smiled before growing serious again. Pulling out the tabloid he handed it to Hiro, who had been frowning in confusion over the exchange. "Shuichi already read this, I think. You probably have already noticed the date."
Hiro glanced at Suguru and Shuichi before studying the tabloid. Without bothering to read it, he gave a snort and tore it up. Shuichi couldn't help but laugh, and Suguru's smile reappeared. "Should have done that yourself." The guitarist told him.
"Maybe I should have...but despite how insane it sounds, I'm glad I didn't...Someone made me realize that I don't know you two that well. Not really. I've kept myself apart because...well, partly because you two were already so close it felt like I was in the way. And partly because I think I was scared to get too close. I hope it's not too late to change that."
"It's never too late." Hiro told him.
"Not ever." Shuichi added.
"I was hoping you'd say that. Because there's something I want you to hear. If you're willing." He guestured to the building
"One small problem being it's 3 am and N-G is locked up." Hiro brought to his attention.
"Sometimes it does pay to have your cousin run the recording company." Suguru's lips twisted into a wry smile as he produced a keycared. Shuichi laughed, and Suguru smiled at him. Hiro had a feeling he was mising a joke, but shrugged it off as the keyboardist unlocked the doors for them and Bad Luck entered the silent and empty hallways of the shut down N-G Studios.
The recording studio was quiet. Bad Luck sat and stood in various positions around the room. "So...what do you think?" Suguru asked.
"Pretty obvious choice, wouldn't you say?" Hiro replied.
"I agree." Shuichi's eyes were very serious. "I don't want to abandon Paradise, though. I want it recorded too."
"We have alot of work to do, then." Suguru mentioned.
"And not much time." Hiro pointed out.
"Then we better get to work."
"If K was here - he'd say: Let's get in there and make a hit." Shuichi pointed his finger like a gun. "Bam!" Suguru and Hiro laughed.
Usually when we didn't show up for work, K would hunt us down and force us to N-G at gun point. So I'm not sure what was going through our manager's mind when, after our late night session, none of his band showed up. For some reason, he let it slide. He didn't know where to find me, but neither Hiro or Shuichi were visited by our gun-toting manager or stressed producer. We met up for one more private recording and practice session after midnight the next day. And then there was no more time for practice or second thoughts.
As Shuichi had requested, K had booked us a place for what was supposed to be Bad Luck's farewell concert, though that had not been stated. Only that we'd be making an announcement. We'd be delivering on that promise, though not as it had been planned. We had no idea what K or Sakano 's reaction would be, let alone Tohma's, but somewhere along the line we'd stopped caring. For the first time we'd made a decision as a group. And we were going to see it through.
In some ways, the concert was a farewell concert. Because, for better or for worse, Bad Luck would never be the same.
The warm up act had finished their performance...and been sent to pacify the crowd longer. Twenty minutes past showtime and Bad Luck was nowhere to be seen.
"They've never all gone missing like this. What if none of them show?" Sakano was beside himself.
"You'd think Hiro atleast would be here." Mika crossed her arms. Besides her, Tohma looked extremely serious.
"They aren't here yet?" Noriko entered the backstage area, followed by Ryuichi.
"If they don't show...Nittle Grasper will have to take their place." Tohma spoke up. Noriko and Ryuichi nodded.
As the warm up band bowed off the stage again, and avoided the tense group in the hallway to retreat to their dressing room, the lights in the auditorium went out.
"What now? A black out? A power failure?" Sakano exclaimed. "What else can go wrong?"
"We'd like to thank you all for coming tonight." Shuichi's voice cut off Sakano's rising hysterics as it echoed out of the speakers. "It's amazing how much can happen in a week. You can lose your confidence. Your friends. Even yourself." A spotlight came onto the stage, highlighting Shuichi. "Thankfully, you can find them again too."
He walked across the stage, smiling at Hiro, who stood waiting with his guitar. "The reason this concert was scheduled was to announce the disbandment of Bad Luck."
The shock in the arena was palpatable and Shuichi let it grow from a murmur to a crescendo of protests and disbelief. "But alot can happen in a week...and I think you'll all be glad to hear that Bad Luck is no longer slated for cancellation." He moved a few feet to the side, so the spotlight fell on Suguru and his keyboards. The two shared a smile, letting the thundering cheers quiet down before continuing.
"We'd like to play for you a preview of our new album tonight instead. It's named after the first single that's going to be released from it..." Shuichi returned to the front of the stage. "Wonderfully Weak."
The spotlight turned off as the music started up. "On guitar...Nakano Hiroshi!"
A new spotlight came on, this time on Hiroshi, who winked at the cheering audience.
"On synth...Fujisaki Suguru!"
A second spotlight came on, lighting up the keyboardist's area. He flashed a smile to the audience as the cheers grew in height.
"Vocals by..Shindo Shuichi!" A third spotlight highlighted Shuichi where he stood inbetween and slightly in front of his bandmates. He flashed them both a grin before finishing. "We are...Bad Luck!"
The screams from the audience were deafening as the spotlights began to weave around the stage, and the opening notes of the song began."Forgive me my blinding pride.
My failure to see the defeat in your eyes.
The pain you are trying to hide,
Is draining away the passion inside.
"A broken mask won't hide your true face,
But a broken path can seal your fate.
There's no reason to lie about what's already known.
And no reason to fight your problems alone.
"So let me stay by you like you've stayed with me.
Even though you want to, please don't leave.
I know it's selfish. But I've always been -
"Is giving in easier than hurting more?
Have you forgotten what you're fighting for?
Even when there's nothing left to choose,
Remember, there are things you'll never lose.
"No need to ask. Just reach out a hand.
No need to explain. Just understand.
Fuel my fire with your spark.
Fill me until I can't stop.
Connected by the power of musical beat,
There is no triumph. No defeat.
"Let me stay by you like you've stayed with me.
Even though you want to, please don't leave.
I know it's selfish. But I've always been -
As the ending notes faded, the lights went out - except for the light behind them, silhouetting their three shadows on the stage.
I first got into Gravitation through an on-line scanlation of it by a fangroup before I started buying the mangas myself. In the first manga they translated a set of words to mean "wonderfully weak." Something about the phrase caught me, and it inspired me to write a song, which ended up inspiring this fic. However, the song that appears here at the end isn't the song I originally wrote. I ended up not liking it and re-writing it once I'd finished the story. LOL
So the lyrics to Wonderfully Weak were written by me, so no stealing them without permission, 'kay?
Originally there was supposed to be one more scene between the band, and the group backstage. But I kept trying to write it and it kept not coming out right. So I thought I'd end it there instead. I mean, we all know they're in for K shooting at them and Sakano wailing, and Tohma telling them not to pull this sort of stunt again. LOL So I guess it makes the ending scene a moot point.
I have to admit, the scene between Yuki and Suguru became my favorite scene in the entire fic, and it wasn't even planned! Originally it was going to be Shuichi or Hiro that brought the folder to him, and the scene that was supposed to play out was very different. However, when I got to that point I realized that neither of them was going to be able to break through the barrier Suguru was putting up. It had to be someone on the outside. That meant either making it Ryuichi again or Yuki. I chose Yuki and I'm glad I did because I love how the scene played out.