Shuichi floated, starry eyed, into the recording studio the next day, flinging himself back dramatically over Hiro, who was seated at the mixing table.
"Guess who got jealous over the video?" Shuichi asked in a sing-song voice, looking up at the guitarist.
"The hundreds of women throughout Japan who've just been praying that I'm really the straight one?" Hiro asked with a smirk. Shuichi sat up, nearly smacking Hiro's head with his own.
"No, you idiot! Yuki!" Shuichi yelled.
"Yuki Eiri, jealous of me. My the tables have turned, haven't they? First the boy I liked was taken by him, then the girl, and he's jealous of a video?" Hiro mused. Shuichi wasn't listening.
"It was so cool! It was like he was all possessive and stuff, over me!" Shuichi cooed with far away eyes.
"Can't you guys control yourselves?" Suguru muttered irritably, coming into the studio and eyeing their compromising position warily.
"Do you think he's jealous, too?" Shuichi asked, turning to Hiro.
"Yes, I cannot hide my secret lust for you any longer, Shuichi," Suguru said irritably, rolling his eyes and heading for his keyboard. Shuichi slid off Hiro's lap as the guitarist went to fetch his instrument, looking at the keyboardist curiously.
"You're actually late, Suguru. And you look like hell. What's going on?" Hiro asked, picking up his guitar and sitting on a stool. Suguru shrugged.
"Still a bit worn out from the video shoot, I guess," the keyboardist said, fiddling with the settings on his instrument.
"Did you watch the advance copy Thelonius gave you?" Hiro asked absently, tuning his guitar. Suguru nodded.
"I'm not too crazy about it, really," Suguru muttered. Shuichi turned to them with a sheepish smile.
"What if I told you that it's never going to air?" Shuichi asked. The others looked up at him in surprise.
"What? All that work for nothing?" Hiro asked irritably.
"Um -- well, Yuki kinda called Tohma and -- we're shooting a different version, starting next week," Shuichi said, rubbing the back of his neck and not quite meeting the eyes of his bandmates, who groaned and cursed.
"So, this video thing is turning out to be a real pain in the ass, huh?" Hiro asked Suguru as they headed for the elevator.
Hiro and Suguru had developed a closer friendship over the past year. With Shuichi spending most of his time with Yuki, and his relationship with Ayaka having ended not long after it started, Hiro had found the company of the mild mannered keyboardist a welcome distraction. He'd noticed one evening that the boy seemed as lonely as he was, having no real social life outside of the band, and Suguru had readily agreed to have a casual meal with him. They had hung out after work on a regular basis since then, usually just discussing work related topics and music in general.
"I can't believe we're going to have to spend another week with that Thelonius guy," Suguru said, rolling his eyes. They stepped into the elevator, the door shutting behind them.
"Yeah, he is something else," Hiro said. "Well, you did say you didn't like the video," he added teasingly. Suguru shrugged, punching the button for the garage level.
"You did though, didn't you? I mean, doing that, with Shuichi?" Suguru asked quietly with his back turned.
"Nah, not so much anymore. It was more like a high school fantasy," Hiro said uneasily. "I'm pretty transparent, aren't I?" Hiro laughed.
"I don't know. I never thought about you liking guys before," Suguru said, still facing the door. "Are you in love with Shuichi, then?"
"No! He's my friend. He's happy with Yuki and I'm happy for him. I -- I just haven't been out with anyone in while, you know?" Hiro said, flustered.
"Sorry. It's really none of my business," Suguru said, giving him a small smile over his shoulder as the door to the elevator opened on the garishly lit parking garage.
"No, it's okay, I don't mind your asking. I know one thing, though. I'm never getting involved with anyone who's into Yuki Eiri again," Hiro said with a slight frown.
"Well, that excludes the female population of Japan," Suguru said. "Oh, and my cousin Tohma," he added, rolling his eyes. The two friends laughed as Hiro pulled two helmets from the back of his motorcycle, handing one to Suguru.
"So, what about you?" Hiro asked, pulling his long hair back and slipping the helmet on.
"No, strangely enough, I'm not in love with Yuki Eiri," Suguru said with a smirk, sliding onto the bike behind the guitarist. Hiro laughed.
"No, smartass, I mean why aren't you seeing anyone?" Hiro asked.
"I don't know. There's plenty of time left for that stuff. Right now I'd just rather focus on my band," Suguru said, wrapping his arms snugly around Hiro's waist as the guitarist started the engine. Hiro tried not to notice how nice it felt to have his friend's arms around him.
"Hey, Hiro, I'm not much in the mood for a lot of fuss and signing autographs today. Why don't we get take out and go to my place?" Suguru said casually, leaning near to be heard over the engine. Hiro swallowed hard at the feeling of warm breath on his ear, asking himself what the hell his problem was.
"Um -- my place is closer. Why don't I cook us something?" Hiro offered, yelling back over his shoulder as they left the NG building behind them.
"Sure, that's fine," Suguru said in his ear. He did not say it seductively, Hiro told himself, irritated at his own thoughts.
As they turned the corner, weaving out of the heavy traffic, Hiro nearly lost control of his bike as a figure in pink plush darted in his path, pursued by a man with dark glasses and a slicked back ponytail.
"Wonder what the hell that was about?" Hiro called, looking back over his shoulder.
"We probably don't want to know," Suguru said with a gasp, still recovering from their near wreck. He clutched Hiro even tighter, making the guitarist wince in discomfort.
A few agonizing moments later, Hiro stopped at his apartment building, taking a deep breath before dismounting and proceeding Suguru up the stairs.
"I'd forgotten what a mess the place is," Hiro said apologetically, as they entered the cluttered front room. He cleared some CDs and magazines off of the sofa, and gestured for Suguru to sit.
"This manga's really good, have you read it yet?" Suguru asked, plucking the slip covered paperback off of the coffee table and flipping through it.
"Nah. It's really weird. I usually devour that one when there's a new volume, but I just can't seem to concentrate on anything for more than a minute lately," Hiro said with a shrug and walked behind the counter of the kitchenette area. Suguru turned around on the sofa to face him, resting his head on the back and gazing at him with warm brown eyes.
"Maybe you're just frustrated," Suguru suggested, making Hiro drop the pan he had just pulled from the shelf.
"Frustrated?" Hiro asked, his voice muffled as he bent down to retrieve the cookware. Suguru laughed.
"You're obviously tense. We've had video shoots and studio sessions pretty much back to back for weeks now. I'm starting to get pretty burnt out myself," Suguru said.
"Yeah, that must be it," Hiro murmured, standing upright and telling himself that Suguru was not giving him a flirtatious look.
"Except it isn't, is it?" Suguru asked with a funny little smile. "It's that video shoot." Hiro stopped what he was doing, lost in thought for a moment.
"Not really. I was feeling like this before that whole ordeal. I know you're thinking that this has something to do with Shuichi, but it really doesn't," Hiro said. Hiro knew he didn't imagine the look of relief that crossed the keyboardist's face, and it puzzled him.
"Yuuukiiii!" Shuichi called merrily as he rushed into the apartment, finding the front room empty. He heard the sound of rushing water as he entered the hallway and bypassed the author's study in favor of the bathroom.
"Yuki! Tohma told me you called him," Shuichi said, sticking his face in the steamy room and admiring his lover's silhouette through the shower door. Yuki turned the water off, and flung open the door.
"What the hell do you want, brat? This had better be important. I can't hear you over the water," Yuki said, looking at the boy irritably. Shuichi froze, taking in an eyeful of dripping, naked Yuki.
"Um -- I love you?" Shuichi said absently, wiping at his nosebleed.
"Drop dead," Yuki said, turning the shower back on, but not closing the door. Shuichi remained mesmerized.
"Better wash that blood off, baka," Yuki muttered after a few minutes. He was thrown back against the tiles by a naked, pink haired ball of energy before he could even look to him for a response.
"Gah! Are you trying to give me a concussion?" Yuki hissed, rubbing the back of his head.
"Sorry, Yuki. Tohma told me that you asked him to pull the video," Shuichi said, rubbing his fingertips over Yuki's soapy chest with a small smile. "You really were jealous, weren't you?" Yuki shrugged.
"I just don't feel like seeing you giving Hiro a lap dance every time I flip through the channels, if that's all right with you," Yuki said.
"Of course it is," Shuichi murmured contentedly, knowing that would be the most he'd ever coax his lover to say on the matter without being forced to sleep on the couch for the night. "We have to shoot another video now." Yuki grunted without interest.
"I don't know what Thelonious is planning for this one, really. He seemed really disappointed that the first one was shot down. He's afraid of getting a bad reputation since this is his second video to be pulled," Shuichi prattled on, as Yuki threaded shampooed fingers into the singer's hair.
"Didn't he make that one I caught Tatsuha in my living room with his pants down over?" Yuki asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yep, that's the one," Shuichi said with a shudder.
"I ought to send him the bill for having my couch re-upholstered," Yuki said with a frown.
"So," Hiro said, calmly observing the bound and gagged former Nittle Grasper member in the corner of the dressing room, "Sakuma-san's going to be in this one?"
"At least I hope that's why he's in here," Suguru said, kneeling to free the struggling singer. "But with Thelonious you never can tell."
"You have to help me!" Ryuichi gasped as his gag was removed. Shuichi entered the room, looking at the scene with shock.
"What are you guys doing to Sakuma-san?" Shuichi asked, looking at his friends accusingly.
"We're taking out the competition in case Nittle Grasper makes another comeback. Seguchi-san's in the closet," Hiro said with a grin.
"Not literally, either," Suguru muttered under his breath as he tried in vain to untie Ryuichi. "Damn it! Give me a knife or something."
"Sorry, I'm fresh out them," Hiro said, as Ryuichi whimpered pitifully.
"Stand back, amateurs," K said, walking into the room with a superior grin.
"You're not going to try to shoot them off are you?" Shuichi asked, his lip trembling. Ryuichi pulled himself onto his bound feet and tried to hop away. K reached back as he passed him, pulling him back by the hood of his jacket and whipping out a rather frightening bit of cutlery.
"Guns aren't the only weapons I'm handy with. Don't limit me with your expectations!" K said merrily, slinging the terrified Grasper vocalist back to the floor, and slicing the ropes from his hands and feet in two graceful movements.
"Thanks, K!" Ryuichi said, hugging the Bad Luck manager greatfully. K grabbed Ryuichi by the waist and started for the door.
"Thelonious sent me in here to get you," K said. Ryuichi kicked and fought, looking to Shuichi with pleading eyes.
"Shuichi, help me! He's going to make me do bad things! He's going to threaten Kumagoro!" Ryuichi wailed, his arms waving frantically.
"You don't have Kumagoro with you," Shuichi observed with a blank expression. Ryuichi's head dropped in defeat, his blue eyes staring up from brown fringe.
"That's not the Kumagoro I'm talking about," Ryuichi whimpered as K hauled him out the door, leaving the others scratching their heads.
Fortunately for everyone involved, the scenario of the new video was considerably more tame. Shuichi had presented the director with a long list of things he could not do on film, courtesy of Yuki Eiri, with a proud little smile plastered to his blushing face.
"Some of these are just weird," Hiro said, looking over the now infamous list while they took a break. "Like where he objects to your eating Pocky, bananas, celery, ice cream, hot dogs -- well, it pretty much goes on to list every remotely phallic food known to man. Isn't he going a little overboard?" Shuichi gave dreamy nod.
"It's romantic though, right?" Shuichi asked, receiving an unbelieving stare from his bandmates. "You know, in a cute, neurotically over possessive, Yuki kind of way."
"Sure, kid, however you want to look at it," Hiro said, giving his friend a pat on the head.
The new video was just the band performing on a set made to look like a smoky, atmospheric club. Ryuichi found, to his great relief, that he was merely to make a small cameo as the bartender, though he still nervously jumped at his own shadow until he was allowed to flee the set.
"I'm trying to think of something to spice it up a little," Thelonious grumbled to K as the group made their way from the day's shoot. "If I can think of anything Shindou-san's boyfriend doesn't object to. I guess it's for the best. I can't afford to have another of my masterpieces shelved, after all."
"Don't worry. You can still make something off the first video on the black market," K said, slapping the director on the back. "Not to mention you can probably auction off that list as an unpublished work by Yuki Eiri. Just think of the publicity!"
Shuichi threw his arm around Hiro as they reached the sidewalk outside.
"Well, as simple as the new video is, I bet the shoot won't be as long," Shuichi said.
"It's not a big deal. I'm getting used to being on a set now," Hiro said with a shrug. Shuichi gazed up at his friend curiously.
"Something's different about you. You just seem -- I don't know -- more relaxed?" Shuichi said. Hiro gave him a serene smile.
"Let's just say I've worked out some of my frustrations from last week," Hiro said, walking away from Shuichi to his bike, where Suguru was waiting for him.
A/N: What happens when Thelonious Smith is called in to direct another Bad Luck video? Find out in the sequel, "Sex Tape Scandal"!