Women, fame, and money. Things normal guys would enjoy. But Taichi, Takeru, Jyou and Yamato, four frustrated, desperate, clueless, and indecisive young men, are just about ready to throw in the chips. AU. Sequel to 'Been There.'
Disclaimer: I don't own.
Author's Note: Yes, I made a sequel. Yes, it will be modeled after "Been There". No, it is not the same story. Yes, I plan on finishing. Sorry if this first chapter's a little short, but it'll develop more as I get going. Hopefully.
It's been two months, six days, and thirteen hours since my last date.
That can't be a good sign, can it?
I mean, I'm attractive, right? Isn't the blue-eyed-blonde look in these days? And I'm pretty decent. I've got a great-paying job, a personality I'm told is quite charismatic, money in the bank, skills in more than just writing, and I know a thing or two about romance. I mean, I've had my share of good relationships. They just have a knack for ending….
But why the hell should this dating thing be this difficult?
And it doesn't help any that Ken's getting married in five weeks.
Of course, I'm very happy for the two of them. I mean, I can't think of another couple who deserve each other more than Miyako and Ken. Their names are practically synonymous. And sure, they've had their rough moments, like that fiasco last year that almost ruined it all. But they pulled through and we all knew they would, more in love now than they ever have been before. So none of us were at all surprised when he finally proposed and she finally said yes (more like wailed, according to the stories). So I'm happy for them.
Really, I am.
Deep down somewhere.
But seriously, I'm twenty-eight this year and I'm still waiting for that fireworks kiss, the true love match-made-in-heaven with my one and only soul mate that everyone else seems to have but me. What am I, cursed?
I'm getting restless. Call me crazy, but I'm old enough to know there's something I'm missing.
I want what Ken has. I want what Daisuke has. I want what Taichi has.
Speaking of which….
Leaping from the airport lounge chairs, I wave my hand wildly, pushing through the in-coming crowd to reach him. He's dressed in black, his classy business outfit completed with dark shades that he quickly pulls up when he catches sight of me. He grins, smirking like he always does, totally suave.
That's the thing about Taichi. He's got this kind of appeal that turns heads, even if he may not be the best-looking in the bunch. It's just his character, the way he is. It's no joke that he's still considered the most eligible and desired single man in Tokyo, despite the fact that he's been in a serious relationship for more than a year now.
It's actually kind of weird to think about it. No one in their right mind would ever have expected Taichi of all people to commit to anything. (His own parents have trouble accepting it.)
In fact, I'm not really sure what he thinks about his present situation. That is, we all know he's crazy about Mimi, and he has been for years, but he was always rather attached to his bachelor status. (So is the rest of Japan, whose tabloids, in a desperate attempt to deny reality, keep printing stories of his failed relationship. It's rather shocking how they treat Mimi in those tabloids, but thankfully, they're both far away in London and pleasantly ignorant of the less-than-truthful tales.)
Nevertheless the two of them managed to take the rest of by surprise by finally hooking up in New York last year. Okay, don't be fooled. It was not as easy as I made it sound. In fact, it was a little mini-drama unto itself, now that I think about it. At least, it had way more drama than any of my past relationships have. Or in my entire life, for that matter….
But anyway, to sum it all up, the two of them had basically been hopping around each other for weeks while Lady Fate shoved them together on her own questionable terms. Then Taichi panicked when he almost lost her, and in self-defense, cut off all ties to any of us and just ran for it. That wasn't like him at all, but he'd been going through more stuff than even we realized, and when push came to shove, he just couldn't handle knowing he'd let her down anymore. If there's one thing you should know about Tai is that he can't stand failure, especially when it's his fault, or when he thinks it's his fault, and especially when it involves the people he cares about most. So he had to get away by himself for a while.
Unfortunately for him, the rest of us weren't going to let him abandon us like that, not when there was still a chance for him to change. So Mimi went right on after him, eventually tracked him down, and the two gave in and attempted to slowly patch things up. Finally, they took us all by surprise again by announcing their move to London (much to his parents' pleasure and her parents' horror, but that's a whole 'nother story), where Taichi works now, and they've been together there ever since.
That's my version of the story, obviously. If you want the details, ask the girls. Women have a tendency to over-exaggerate the unnecessary, though, so don't say I didn't warn you if you do decide to hear the tale from their point-of-view.
But though we're all really pleased, it has been kind of boring without the two headstrong personalities around, so it's times like these that we look forward to. Actually, a lot of us have been getting more involved in our separate lives lately, so it's always nice to have big get-togethers once in a while. It keeps me sane, at least.
"Hey, Takeru," he greets, clapping me on the shoulder as a manly, brotherly sign of greeting.
I shrug him off, pretending to be offended. "I haven't seen you in over half a year and that's all you've got to say to me?"
He rolls his eyes. "When you've got a woman like Mimi to come home to, your ability to initiate an extended conversation decreases dramatically."
I peer over his shoulder curiously, suddenly realizing why it's still so quiet. "Didn't she come with you?"
He shakes his head.
"At the last minute, she had a few glitches to settle with her new restaurant. She's taking a later flight, said she'll be here tomorrow. And she complains that I care too much about my work…."
I smile. "You are the worst workaholic I know."
"I'm getting better," he insists.
"Thanks to Mimi," I add.
He throws me a look. "Sure."
I frown. "Is something wrong?"
"No," he replies too quickly.
I cross my arms over my chest, waiting expectantly.
He sighs loudly to show his irritation. "Everything's fine, Takeru."
I grin in spite of myself.
"What was it about this time?"
"I don't want to talk about it," he grumbles, walking away.
"Yeah, well, lucky for you, I do."
"Taichi, you flew alone across the globe for a wedding where she's bridesmaid and you're her guest. You can't expect me to not read into that."
"Yes, I can," he snaps darkly. He shifts his small carrying bag over his shoulder causally. "Now shut up and let's get out of here."
I shrug. "Fine."
It's a few minutes of silence as we leave the airport and I hail a cab to take us back to my apartment. It's closer to Ken and Miyako's and the engaged couple is hosting a dinner that night, so it just made sense to have Taichi stay with me for a few nights. Of course, I'd originally planned to have Mimi come with him, but I guess it's just going to be us guys for one night. More room, at least. There, I found one benefit for being a lonely single. Not really comforting, but still a benefit.
In fact, my apartment has turned into a free hotel for other single guys. (I'd say a bachelor pad, but I'm no where near as rich enough to afford all the expensive crap typical bachelor pads require.) Iori and Yamato are both crashing there right now as well.
Iori, I understand.
Yamato, I do not.
His debut in America last year did wonders to his success. He's been asked back to open for a few other well-known artists, which will definitely help his popularity. Still, he insists on staying with me during the pre-wedding planning. He says he wants to bond as siblings. I think he's being a cheap bastard. But at least Taichi and Iori will be there to keep Yamato from turning uber-protective on me, the way he used to get when he visited me in college. God, that was embarrassing….
Anyway, we ride to the apartment in virtual silence as Taichi checks his mail and handles business on his laptop. He's still immersed in it when we reach the flat, with me dragging most of his luggage since he's too engrossed in his work to even realize where he is. That will never change about him, I guess. He always was one of those obsessive types, especially when he's in charge. It's like a drug for him, being the boss of something. I can't really relate.
Iori opens the door for us. He looks tired. He's been working on his dissertation for the past year, and though he's made more progress than his peers, it's taken a lot of dedication and time. On the other hand, the fact that he's ahead makes it easier for him to slow down a little and help out for Ken's wedding, something the groom is rather grateful for.
Iori greets Taichi warmly, though the latter sort of just grunts a hello and blindly staggers into the living room, his eyes glued to his laptop screen.
Yamato tries a more direct approach. He leans over from the couch where he's seated and gives Taichi a friendly punch in the shoulder.
"Hey, Yagami. You there at all?"
Taichi barely reacts.
With a sigh, Yamato shuts the laptop. Taichi almost drops it out of shock.
"What the hell are you doing?" he exclaims, horrified, trying to reboot.
My brother goes on coolly. He's one of the only people I know who can handle an enraged Taichi so well it should be an art form.
"You know, I really think we should start hanging out like we used to. We've all been really busy with our own separate lives, but I think it's time we get back to the basics."
Taichi's looking at him like he's sprouted two heads. "Are you fucking kidding me? I don't have time for sentimentalities!"
"Ken and Miyako are getting married, you idiot. Nothing else matters but your friends right now, remember?"
"I'm not saying they don't matter, but it's not like they're getting married right this minute. Jesus, why the hell are people making such a big deal about this? They've been together all their lives! So now it's legal! Well, fine, it's their choice! Why should it matter to the rest of us?" He snatched his laptop and stood up, fuming as he stalks to the bathroom, muttering tensely about people ruining perfectly good things for the rest of us and when in the hell did things have to get so complicated so fast?
I break the silence.
"Well, that explains why he came alone…."
Yamato gives a start, as though he's only just realized it. He looks a little guilty. "Why, you think they fought?"
I roll my eyes.
"It's Mimi and Taichi. If they're not fighting, they're trying to manipulate each other, and if they're not being sweet to take advantage of each other, then they're fighting."
Iori grins. "So she's giving him commitment pressures? Quelle horreur."
"Wouldn't want to be him."
"When is she coming then?" Yamato asks.
"Taichi said tomorrow. She's taking a later flight, apparently, but I was going to give her a call anyway, after a while. Time difference, you know."
"Maybe she called Miyako already," Iori suggests.
"Possible." Yamato nods. "Miyako's going to be pissed if she doesn't."
"And you'd have to be suicidal to get on a bride-to-be's wrong side," I observe wisely.
The three of us exchange grins, snickering, remembering The Wedding Dress Fiasco which made The Bridal Shop Catastrophe of last year look like—well, it was much worse. Weddings do terrible things to a woman's mind. I'm convinced. Thankfully, I wasn't there, but Takenouchi Sora, who designed the dress, was so bent out of shape that she spent a week at the spa to get over it and keep a cool head before coming back to work.
I myself got an earful about the situation from Hikari, who called afterwards to rant. To rant, mind you, and this is Yagami Hikari we're talking about. She's the picture perfect alter ego for her hotheaded older brother, with patience and grace like you wouldn't believe. To get her all riled up enough to rant takes some incredible skill. I, for one, was impressed, although I know better than to tell her things like that and inadvertently make myself the target of her irritation.
But of course, you shouldn't think that Hikari's one of those girls who's all sweet on the outside but full of bottled up emotions on the inside. She's not. Granted, she has her moments, but though she often makes mistakes and keeps things inside when she shouldn't, it's usually just to protect her friends, not save her reputation. But she's getting much better at that, especially after The Daisuke Incident.
Okay, so it wasn't much of an incident, but it certainly created its own share of problems. You see, Hikari had been harboring a romantic interest in an old flame, our good ol' idiotic Motomiya Daisuke, for ages, but she never got the guts to tell him until it was too late. To make a long soap opera-ish story short, she faced him once and for all and found she was ready to let it—and him—go completely. And she did. We were all really proud of her. Now she and Daisuke are much better friends, which makes it the almost fairy-tale ending that it could have been if he hadn't found his already with another girl.
Actually, Daisuke was the first of us to get married. It was nothing compared to what Ken and Miyako (more Miyako) have in mind, but it was nice and simple and so long ago that it's hard to believe he's coming up on his first anniversary in a couple of months.
Naturally, this all just makes me feel worse.
If I don't find a date to Miyako and Ken's wedding, that's fine, but I'd better get one for Daisuke and Sumiko's anniversary, or I'll have to have myself shot.
So that gives me, what, five months? Four? I'd better find out. Time is money, after all.
All right, the game is on. I can do this. Just watch me.
"Takeru!" Yamato practically shouts.
I look up, dazed. "Huh?"
"What's gotten into you lately? It takes forever to get your attention these days," he grumbles.
I'm annoyed. See what I mean about the whole older brother mentality he gets when we're in the same room? I'm not a kid anymore. I can handle myself. Ihate how he can't see that. Even Taichi gives Hikari a break now and then. Okay, not the greatest example, but seriously. It's frustrating how he still treats me like I'm five-years-old sometimes. Maybe I'm exagerrating, but you never had him for a brother, so you wouldn't understand.
"Well, it's not like we're as close as we used to be," I snap unnecessarily, knowing I'm probably making a big deal out of nothing. But I'm standing for this anymore. If I'm going to be serious about finding my one true soul mate, than I should be serious about other important things as well. Yamato, for his part, just stares at me in surprise, not expecting me to snap at him like that. I just keep going: "I'm sorry if I changed when you weren't looking—,"
"Hey, guys, come on," Iori interrupts quickly, warily eyeing the squabbling siblings before him. "One crisis at a time, please." He goes over and raps on the bathroom door, from behind which you can hear the click-click of the keyboard and the mutterings of what sounds to be a business call. "Tai?"
He screams a curse.
"Wait your goddamn turn!"
Ah, it's good to have him back.