"So what do you think, Yuki?" Shindou Shuichi asked, coming to the end of his usual breathless, mostly one-sided chatter with Yuki through the open bathroom door as he got ready to go to the studio. "Um, Yuki?"
The deathly silence from the front room was suddenly broken by the sound of disrupted objects rattling around, which caused the singer to walk out in curiosity.
He was greeted with the strange sight of Yuki Eiri crouched on the floor before the television, rifling urgently through the DVDs and video tapes in the low cabinet beside it, his cigarette dangling dangerously from his mouth and his beer overturned on the floor.
"What are you looking for, Yuki?" Shuichi asked.
"The video! Where in the hell is it?" Yuki demanded.
"What video?" Shuichi asked blankly as his stomach suddenly plummeted from the headline splashed across the TV screen.
Yuki and Shuichi: Sex Tape Scandal!
"Oh, crap," Shuichi said, his knees buckling as he sank onto the couch.
"Yuki, what are you doing?" Shindou Shuichi asks, peering up at the camera with a look of surprise, from where he is turning on the tap of a large bathtub. He stands, barefoot on the black tile of the white walled bathroom, waiting for a reply, with a look somewhere between amusement and unease.
"Just act like I'm not here, idiot," the voice of Yuki Eiri is heard to say off screen.
"But I'm taking a bath!" Shuichi protests, waving his arms. His statement is greeted with silence, the only sound the rushing water echoing through the room.
"Why do you want to film me taking a bath, Yuki?" Shuichi asks timidly, looking at his feet and squirming self consciously.
The scene cuts to Shuichi nervously pulling his thin cotton tee shirt over his head, gazing from the corner of his eyes at the camera every so often. His mop of pink hair has grown limp from the growing billows of steam rising from the nearly full tub, and he gazes up through damp forelocks with one last silent plea that goes unanswered.
Taking a deep breath, he undoes the fly of his jeans quickly, as if to strip and be underwater as soon as possible. He glances up, as if at some unheard word from behind the camera, and flushes slightly, slowing his pace to a teasing, leisurely unveiling of the rest of his well toned body.
"Oh, for -- will you guys please not watch that?" Shuichi cried frantically as he entered the room, nearly diving across the table in an attempt to wrest the remote control from K's hands. K smirked, holding the device just out of the pop star's reach before stopping the video himself.
"Glad to see you finally decided to join us," K said, still dangling the remote tantalizingly overhead.
"It's a miracle I could get here at all! Tohma had to arrange for a distraction so that I could sneak past the press in disguise," Shuichi said, slumping into the chair between Hiro and a highly distraught Sakano.
"What kind of distraction?" Hiro asked, quirking one eyebrow. "It would take nothing short of world war three to throw them off this story."
"That's because he had a decoy," a weary voice answered from the doorway, where Suguru ambled in, limping slightly, and pulling a pink wig from his head. The schoolgirl uniform he wore had seen better days, the blue sailor collar ripped at the seams, and one loose sock drooping pitifully about his ankle. Shuichi eyed him incredulously.
"It's bad enough that I'm in the middle of an embarrassing sex scandal -- did you have to make me look like a cross-dresser, too? Who gave you the idea to wear that while pretending to be me?" Shuichi moaned. Suguru held his head high and sniffed indignantly.
"I got this from your closet," Suguru answered. The color drained from Shuichi's face as he giggled nervously.
"Oh, um, you did?" Shuichi asked in small voice, as the others turned to look at him questioningly, then added defensively, "I've got other things in there, you know!"
"I was in a hurry, you ingrate," Suguru said, throwing the wig from him and settling in the chair on the other side of Hiro. "In case you haven't noticed, I nearly got my limbs ripped off in your stead."
"The schoolgirl look kind of suits you, Suguru," Hiro said with a grin, causing the younger boy to bristle slightly and blush.
"Well, now that we're all here," K said, aiming the remote back at the television.
"Now just hold on a minute!" Shuichi screamed, leaping between K and the screen. "There's no reason for us to watch that!"
"I just wanted to give us a complete picture of the kind of bad publicity we're up against," K said with a shrug.
"I don't think I want a picture of Shindou that's that complete," Suguru said with a shudder.
"This is all my fault," Sakano wailed, blowing his nose on his hanky.
"How's it your fault, Sakano?" K said, giving him a firm slap on the back and then pausing with consideration. "You weren't the camera man, were you?"
"I thought Yuki-san was the camera man?" Hiro asked.
"Oh, no, the rest of the video is much better," K said with a smile. "Yuki gets in on the action in the next scene."
"Ah, no wonder Tohma's getting involved," Hiro said, turning to Shuichi. "So how's Yuki-san taking all of this?"
Shuichi wasn't listening, the cogwheels in his head apparently at full spin.
"K, I thought you said there was no such thing as bad publicity," Shuichi said, jumping from his seat giving him an accusing glare. "It was you who stole the video, wasn't it?"
K effortlessly brushed away Shuichi's small fists batting at his chest and laughed.
"Calm down, Shuichi. If it were me I would have released it for profit, not given it to the press," K said, shaking Shuichi from his arm nonchalantly as the singer tried to bite him.
"It's not K's fault," Hiro said with a shrug.
"Who's side are you on?" Shuichi demanded furiously, turning towards him. "You're supposed to take up for me!"
"Well, you've got to admit, it is pretty idiotic of you guys to have something like that lying around. I would have thought Yuki-san at least would have more sense," Hiro said, reclining back in his chair.
"Don't blame it on Yuki! The reason he wanted to make that video is actually really sweet. It was right before we went on tour and he wanted something to remind him of me while I was gone," Shuichi said dreamily.
"Yuki Eiri -- the same Yuki Eiri you live with -- told you that?" Hiro said, eyebrow arched suspiciously.
"Of course he didn't tell me that," Shuichi said, rolling his eyes. "He just said to stop whining and get naked or he'd cram the camcorder down my throat. It's the things that he doesn't say that mean something."
"You and Yuki-san sure do have a complicated relationship," Suguru said, shaking his head. "So if it wasn't K who leaked the video, then who was it?"
"I don't see that it really matters. The real question is how we're going to handle the press," Hiro said.
"Let's see," Shuichi said, again not listening, his eyes rolled upwards and a finger to his lips. "Who would be in our living room, watching our videos -- I've got it!"
Shuichi jumped up from his seat with a murderous gleam in his eye, heading for the door as Hiro casually gripped him by the shirt tail, making him run in place.
"Do you think we should cancel our spot on Top Hits in two weeks?" Hiro asked.
"Absolutely not. Do you know how hard it is to get a spot like that?" K asked. "And besides, it would make all of Sakano's sacrifices in vain." Sakano gave a muffled, sniffly moan, burying his face in his handkerchief.
"What exactly did you do, Sakano-san?" Suguru asked, giving the producer a sympathetic pat on the back.
"We probably don't want to know," Hiro mused. "Is there an interview after our set?"
"No. But don't think that will stop them from making time for one. We need to think of way to throw them off," K said, rubbing his thumb beneath his chin in concentration. "Man, why can't either of you two ever do something really stupid instead? Aren't one of you ready for a respectable re-hab stint or something?"
"K! What good would that do?" Sakano asked, pulling on his hair.
"We need a scandal we can work into a positive light, with a dramatic struggle that people will sympathize with -- I've got it! We'll send Shindou to a therapist!" K said, slamming his fist down on the table.
"While I won't disagree that Shuichi might be due for psychological treatment, how exactly is this supposed to relate to the sex tape thing?" Hiro asked, still restraining a squirming Shuichi.
"We could say that he was compelled to make the tape as a desperate cry for help for his, um --" K trailed off, scratching his head.
"Pervyness?" Suguru chimed in, looking at his current attire with disgust.
"Hey!" Shuichi yelled indignantly, stopping his struggle.
"I'm not sure that's an official disorder, Suguru," Hiro said. "We could always say he was a nymphomaniac."
"But that means I'd do it with anyone! I'd never cheat on Yuki!" Shuichi cried, clawing at Hiro with all the intimidation of a grumpy kitten.
"I believe the politically correct term is a 'sex addict'," K said, not a little stiffly, getting a curious look from the others. "What? My wife's a movie star! I hear about things!"
"Right," Hiro said, not entirely taking his cautious gaze off the gun-toting American. "So, he's an exhibitionist, then?"
Shuichi ripped the now well-stretched hem of his tee shirt from Hiro's grasp, and shook his fist.
"Just wait one freaking minute here! I'm not a sex-addict, or an exhibitionist, or any of that stuff! I just did it because Yuki wanted me to, and he scares me when he's mad, and I don't want him to leave me, and --" Shuichi rambled breathlessly, his eyes welling with tears.
"Co-dependency!" Sakano contributed at last, pointing at Shuichi with triumph, as if he'd just solved a puzzle in charades.
"Yeah, so, what else do you have?" Hiro asked K boredly, while Sakano was meekly apologizing to Shuichi, who, despite the fact that the conversation was over, was beginning to brood and wonder if he did have some sort of problem after all.
"Ah, screw it, we'll just let Tohma come up with something. It's almost lunch time," K said with a shrug.
"Yuki, do you think maybe I have some sort of -- I don't know -- psychological disorder?" Shuichi asked, standing behind Eiri's chair as he typed on his laptop.
"Yeah, moron. Now go away," Eiri said irritably, cursing under his breath as he used the backspace to correct an awkward phrase. A phrase made awkward by his subconsciously renaming one of the characters "Shuichi". He'd have to do a word search to make sure he hadn't done that more than once…
"Yuki! I'm serious!" Shuichi demanded.
Eiri sighed, and turned, very slowly, in his chair with a look that conveyed a considered homicide.
"Look, brat. If you're really concerned about your mental health then you couldn't possibly be asking a worse person. I have two days to turn in this manuscript, so find someone else to annoy," Eiri said.
"Okay, Yuki. Sorry," Shuichi said in small voice, backing away, head hung.
Before he reached the door, he heard his lover give a heavy sigh.
"Go get me a beer," Yuki said.
"Sure! Of course," Shuichi said, rushing to the kitchen with a little skip.
"So Yuki said I wasn't any more of a neurotic nut-case than anyone else he'd met outside of an institution. Not exactly the most reassuring way he could have worded it, I suppose --," Shuichi said, growing quiet for a second. "But hey! You know how Yuki is," he finished with a awkward giggle. "Oh yeah, what was I here for again?"
"Hell if I know. You tell me," Tatsuha said, lowering his binoculars and wondering just how Shuichi had known of his annual vigil outside of Sakuma Ryuichi's house on the vocalist's birthday.
"Wait a second, now I remember! You stole that tape that Yuki and I made, didn't you, you bastard?" Shuichi wailed, shaking Tatsuha by the shoulders.
"What tape?" Tatsuha said, after the dizziness subsided. Shuichi gaped.
"The one of Yuki and I having sex! Which one did you think I meant?" Shuichi demanded.
"There's a tape of you and Yuki getting it on?" Tatsuha asked with a strange gleam in his eye. "Can I watch it?"
"Well, yeah, it's on the internet -- wait a second! You mean you had no idea?" Shuichi asked incredulously. Tatsuha shook his head.
"Man, I've been camped out here for two days, and Ryuichi hasn't gotten naked in front of the window once. I wonder what else I've missed?" Tatsuha said, scrambling down the tree where he and Shuichi were currently perched. "Anyway, thanks for the tip!"
Shuichi stared after Tatsuha in mild shock, trying not to ponder too closely his eagerness to see the video, and picking up the item he'd left behind.
"You left your binoculars," Shuichi called weakly to the rapidly moving figure fading in the distance.
Shuichi sighed, wondering where to investigate next, as he caught movement from the curtains in Ryuichi's window. Looking from side to side, like he expected someone to spot him in the tree, he giggled and lifted the glasses to his eyes.
"Oh, well, just a peek won't hurt," he assured himself. "It would be kind of funny if Sakuma-san did get naked now, after Tatsuha left. Not that I would, like, want that to happen or anything. No siree."
Wiping absently at his nose-bleed, and leaning forward so far that he almost fell off the branch, Shuichi focused the lenses on the window.
Ryuichi danced around the room, clutching Kumagoro in one arm and a small bag in the other. Placing the rabbit on his head, he talked animatedly, while opening his package, pulling out what appeared to be a video tape. He merrily plopped down on the sofa with his back to the window after sliding the tape into the player, and aimed the remote at the television. Shuichi didn't have to watch the screen for long to recognize the program.
"No! Not Sakuma-san!" Shuichi moaned, losing his grip, and tumbling to the ground.
"Ow! Damn it all," Shuichi grumbled, rising to his feet, and brushing off his shirt. Gathering his composure, he marched up to the door to push the doorbell, only to find the absent-minded vocalist had left it ajar. He pushed it aside at went to the living room.
"Sakuma-san, where did you -- Sakuma-san?" Shuichi asked, gazing down where the vocalist had slid off the couch onto the floor, and waving a hand before his slack-jawed face.
"Shuichi?" Ryuichi asked, his bottom lip trembling. "Why are you and Yuki-san doing super naughty things on my television?"
Shuichi squeaked, having forgotten the tape was still playing, and quickly ejected it. It was definitely not the original. He would recognize the Hello Kitty video labels he'd bought especially anywhere, even if it hadn't been clearly labeled Shu and Yuki in glitter markers. This tape was rather plain.
"Why do you have this, Sakuma-san?" Shuichi asked.
"Tohma was supposed to be taping my shows for me while I was away," Ryuichi said, still looking rather dazed. "But those aren't my shows!"
Shuichi frowned, plopping down on the floor beside his idol.
"Figures that Seguchi would have a copy, the perv. Oh, well, it's nothing the rest of Japan hasn't seen by now," Shuichi said with a sigh.
"So, the tape got leaked to everyone?" Ryuichi asked, in a way that would seem almost uncharacteristically pensive if he weren't still covering the eyes of his plush bunny. Shuichi nodded.
"Um -- well, Tohma probably needs the tape then, so he'll see what other people saw. It's not easy to get people to start being nice again when they start saying bad things," Ryuichi said.
"I guess you're right," Shuichi said, "This has been kind of a disaster. It's been really crazy even trying to get in and out of the house since this started."
"So what are you doing here?" Ryuichi asked, head cocked to the side.
"Well, I was out trying to find out who could've gotten a hold of the tape. I mean, it was in our living room!" Shuichi said, throwing his hands in the air.
"Oh," Ryuichi said, scratching his head. "So that's your priority right now?"
"What do you mean?" Shuichi asked him.
"Well," Ryuichi said slowly, chewing thoughtfully on Kumagoro's ear for a moment before continuing, "It's the PR thing that really matters right now, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right," Shuichi said with a frown. "What would you do Sakuma-san?"
"Forget it," Eiri said, brushing past Shuichi into the kitchen.
"But Yuki, I haven't even come up with anything yet! Sakuma-san said that we planted one image into the minds of the public, and the best way to get around it is to either place a new one in their minds or to laugh it off," Shuichi said.
"You have no idea what that means, do you?" Eiri asked, opening the refrigerator.
"Well, no, not exactly. I mean, he didn't give any specific instructions, but --" Shuichi began, cutting off with a startled squeak as Eiri slammed the door closed after grabbing his beer.
"It means, moron, that I have to be involved somehow," Eiri said, glaring at the pop singer as he shouldered his way back towards the living room.
"But it effects your publicity, too!" Shuichi pleaded, clinging futilely to Eiri's shirttail.
"So? My books didn't stop selling when they knew I was screwing you, so why would they stop just because they've seen me do it now?" Eiri asked, his gait in no way hindered by the fact that he was now dragging a sobbing Shuichi along behind him.
"Don't you see the difference? It's one thing to imagine it, but now it's like we're porn stars or something! People actually have pictures in their heads of us doing it! Naked!" Shuichi cried, his socks sliding along the hardwood floor.
"So? Afraid they're going to make fun of your little bean?" Eiri said, grabbing Shuichi by the collar and shaking him free before sitting on the sofa.
"That's not the point! School girls read your books, and they buy my records. What if their parents won't let them now?" Shuichi asked. Eiri looked up at him, brow raised.
"Who says school girls are my demographic?" Eiri asked icily.
"Did I strike a nerve, Yuki?" Shuichi asked sheepishly, bracing for a blow.
"Why don't you go play Russian roulette with a semi-automatic or something? I'm trying to relax," Eiri said dismissively, fishing the remote from between the cushions and flicking on the television.
Shuichi sighed with defeat, and went to the linen closet to make his bed on the couch for the night without another word.
"You know, that actually makes sense," Hiro said, leaning back in his chair in the staff meeting room, while Bad Luck awaited the arrival of their manager and producer. "Well, I guess even the great Sakuma Ryuichi has had to field a few scandals in his career, so he should know."
"So, anyone have any ideas that don't involve Yuki in any way?" Shuichi asked meekly, greeted by a span of silence.
"Yuki-san won't get involved, huh?" Hiro asked.
"Don't blame Yuki! He's busy," Shuichi said dejectedly, muttering something about the couch being lumpy before burying his face in his folded arms on the table.
"Hmm. So there goes the idea for an endearing Barbara Walters style interview as a couple. Although I doubt even she could make Yuki-san cry," Hiro said with a wry smile. "Shuichi on the other hand --"
"I'm not crying!" Shuichi blurted out, wiping his nose with his sleeve. "Haven't you ever heard of allergies?"
"So, anyway," Suguru said, looking at Shuichi with a mixture of wonder and repulsion, "Sakuma-san said something about making a joke of it? You know, like a parody of some kind to show we're not afraid to laugh at ourselves a bit?"
"Of all people, I'd imagined you to be the last to point out that option," Hiro said with amusement, poking the serious and reserved teen in the shoulder. Suguru sighed and gave him a withering look.
"I'm just trying to toss around ideas for us to work with," Suguru said, sitting up stiffly and crossing his arms, adding quietly, "Jackass."
Hiro smiled broadly before busting out into laughter, as K and Sakano entered the room.
"All right kids, enough joking around. It's time to prepare for combat!" K announced, pushing his sunglasses up with a gleam and waving his gun in the air.
"Are we shooting the press or ourselves, then?" Hiro asked, tearing his eyes away casually from Suguru and smiling politely.
"Those are merely last resort options," K said distractedly, holstering his gun and approaching the dry erase board. He had the pen uncapped and ready, before seeming to realize he had nothing to write, whirling around towards the others with a confident grin.
"So, why don't we hear your ideas first, you know, make this nice and democratic," K said.
"You haven't got squat, have you?" Suguru asked, rolling his eyes. "What have you been doing all this time, anyway?"
"Suguru was just saying something about making a parody of the incident somehow," Hiro interjected after clearing his throat.
"Yeah?" K said, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "That could work."
"So, got any ideas?" Hiro prompted, looking around the room, which fell silent. Shuichi raised his head, sniffling slightly.
"Hey, guys? Why don't we make a video?" Shuichi asked, breaking the silence. His eyes lit up as he sat up straighter and gained momentum. "We were planning on making a promo film for our new single next month anyway, right? So why don't we move it up a bit?"
There was a murmur in the room, everyone stirred at Shuichi's newfound enthusiasm.
"Not, bad, Shuichi. And even the new song, "Double Exposure", seems to lend a kind of tongue and cheek thing to it, don't you think?" Hiro asked, giving the singer a pat on the back.
"We will have it ready to premier on Top Hits in one week," K said with finality, slamming his fist on the table. "I'm going straight to Seguchi to work out our budget."
"One week?" Shuichi cried in disbelief, amid collective groans from the others.
"K-san, sir, are you sure we can pull off such a thing in so little time?" Sakano asked, wiping his brow. "And demanding money from our beloved president --"
"One week," K said firmly. "It is destiny. It is fate. It is --"
"What the hell is talking about?" Hiro asked.
"It is the very week that Thelonious Smith just happens to be in Tokyo doing an advertisement!" K said with triumph, striding towards the door and slamming it behind him.
"Did he just say what I thought he said?" Suguru finally said in the stunned silence K had left in his wake.
"Heh, heh. Guys? Um, maybe it won't be as bad this time?" Shuichi asked timidly as his band mates turned to glare at him.
"Thelonious Smith," Suguru said, shaking his head as the three musicians made their way to a waiting car outside of the NG building.
The infamous American director had flown to Japan to direct a video for Bad Luck's last album that had turned out to be a small disaster nearly a year before, and none of the trio were particularly thrilled at the prospect of working with him again.
"Well, if you think about it, considering the kind of video we're out to make this time, he might just be the ideal one for the job," Hiro said with a shrug.
"Just what kind of video are we making?" Shuichi asked, his eyes growing wide.
"Don't be coy, Shuichi. After all, this was your idea," Hiro said with a wink.
"But Hiro!" Shuichi cried, as they stepped outside onto the sidewalk.
"I absolutely can not tell you guys how excited I am to be working on this," said a brightly smiling man with slicked back blonde hair, extending his hand. "Love the new song, love the whole parody thing -- man, this is just going to be a blast."
The three band mates smiled weakly as Thelonious led them to the car, chatting amiably.
"I brought my own crew for the ad, so we're all set up at the studio your boss rented for us. We all sat around and watched the video, bounced around some ideas, set up a sketch board -- hey! How do you guys feel about a little product placement? Because the soda company I'm out here shooting for made an offer, and your manager was very psyched about it," Thelonious droned on, to the occasional polite smile from Hiro, quivering lip-biting from Shuichi and haughty glare from Suguru.
Thelonious' cell phone rang when they were on the road, to the band's relief.
"Sorry, guys, I've got to take this," Thelonious said, and began talking rapidly in English, gesturing broadly with his hands as he spoke.
"Why do I feel like we're in over our heads already?" Hiro asked, fiddling absently with the automatic door lock.
"I'm sorry guys. This is my fault," Shuichi said, hanging his head.
"It's all right, Shuichi. It wasn't a bad idea. And K is right that having it ready for Top Hits is perfect timing," Hiro said, ruffling Shuichi's hair.
"Really?" Shuichi asked, looking up eagerly.
"Sure thing," Hiro said with a warm smile. "Besides, it's you that Thelonious will force to do weird stuff. Suguru and I will hardly be in it, I'll bet."
"Right," Shuichi said with a nervous laugh.
"So how did Yuki-san take the news that you were working with his favorite video director again?" Hiro asked sarcastically.
"Um, well, he was writing when I came in, so he just told me to shut up and go play quietly somewhere else. I'm not sure whether he was listening or not, since I'd probably gotten the same response either way," Shuichi said with a shrug.
When they reached their destination, Thelonious pulled Shuichi back as they walked towards the studio.
"Incidentally, Shuichi, that film you guys shot," Thelonious paused dramatically. "Well, I don't know how to say this, but it was amateur. I mean some of the angles were great, but the lighting and sound could have been better, you know? If you ever want to shoot something else, just let me know, okay?"
Shuichi just stared at him in disbelief, his mouth hanging open, and his face turning red.
"Oh, I know, it's not every day a professional offers to take on personal projects," Thelonious said with a toothy smile. "Just look on it as a personal favor for a friend."
Shuichi merely nodded, still too stunned to coherently respond, and followed the others into the building.
"Now we've only had two days to get everything ready and build the sets, but I think we've done pretty well, if I do say so myself,' Thelonious said, as he opened the door.
Shuichi was caught in stunned silence once again, as he took in the two separately constructed sets within the large indoor studio lot.
"But -- but -- this looks just like our apartment!" Shuichi cried in bewilderment, looking back and forth between one set that was a re-construction of the bathroom and another that mirrored the bedroom.
"You really think so?" Thelonious asked, clearly pleased. "I mean, Mr. Yuki does have impeccable decorating sense, and we are on a budget, but --"
"Um, Thelonious? Why did you recreate our apartment?" Shuichi asked.
"Well, as these are the two rooms featured in your film, I figured it would only make sense to use them in the reenactment," Thelonious explained patiently, as if to a child.
"Reenactment?" Shuichi demanded shrilly, going weak in the knees and grabbing a chair for support.
"Why of course. We're going to parody the film in your video, after all," Thelonious said, turning at the approach of a tall, blonde figure from the darkened corner of the room.
Shuichi's head shot up and his eyes widened, sparkling brightly as he followed Thelonious' gaze.
"Yuki?" Shuichi asked in hopeful confusion, flying across the room towards the approaching figure and winding his arms around him tightly. "Yuki! What are you doing here?"
"Um, I take it you're Shuichi Shindou?" asked a voice above his head, somewhat uneasily.
Shuichi stiffened, and slowly looked up towards the unfamiliar face of the man he was embracing, who had just stepped into the light.
"Meet Iason. He's your co-star," Thelonious said.
After a brief treatment with smelling salts and a glass of water, Shuichi grumpily sat in a folding chair near the set, looking over a copy of the video shoot outline.
"So what do you think? First we will recreate your now famous striptease by the tub, tastefully cutting away at the right moment, while you sing the opening lines to the camera. Iason will stand by with a fake camcorder during this scene, and we'll shoot part of this with a handheld to make it seem as if we're seeing you from his point of view. We'll shoot some footage later on of you singing with the band to edit in for between shots, with a little choreography that I'm sure you'll have no trouble with.
For the bedroom scene, we'll have you and Iason in towels, of course, just a little make-out scene with a heavily implied fade to black. Nothing too racy, but defiantly an homage to your little scandal to show that you're not afraid to face the music," Thelonious said with a wink.
"You realize," Shuichi said with a smug expression, "that nearly everything written here is on the list."
"Ah, yes, the list," Thelonious said with a smirk.
During the last video shoot Bad Luck had made with the director, Yuki Eiri had made a more or less all inclusive list of sexually suggestive things that he did not want Shuichi to do in the video, given Thelonious' reputation for controversy, after persuading Tohma that the first version of the video be scrapped.
"But you see, the wording in that document clearly states that it pertained to our last video, not this one," Thelonious said, betraying a slightly sinister gleam in his eye before brightening. "So! Now that we have all that cleared up, let's make a great video, okay? See you when you get back from make-up."
"Um, Yuki?" Shuichi asked tentatively at the door to Eiri's office, studying his shoes as he stood in the doorway.
Eiri ignored him for a moment, finishing the paragraph he was working on, and looked up curiously, fully unprepared for the unobtrusive demeanor his young lover had taken. Shuichi would normally have demanded his attention by now.
"What the hell's bothering you, moron?" Eiri asked at last, shoving back from his desk with a sigh. Having all the invitation he needed, Shuichi bounded across the room, forgoing even the small chair he usually occupied during these interruptions, and diving straight into Eiri's lap.
"Don't be mad, Yuki! I had to do what they said! K shot at me twice as it was!" Shuichi bawled.
Yuki sat stiffly, starting to give the sniffling singer an awkward pat on the back, before instead smacking him atop the head.
"Ow, Yuki!" Shuichi cried, looking up. "Does this mean you're mad?" he added in a tiny voice.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Eiri asked.
Shuichi pulled the scene treatment out of his back pocket and thrust it at Eiri, head bowed. Eiri took the crumpled papers, shoving Shuichi from his lap and pulling his chair back to his desk. Shuichi looked up at him expectantly from the floor.
"Why is my name on here? I told you I wasn't getting involved," Eiri said, his eyebrow raised as he flipped through the pages.
"Oh, that's the stuff Iason is doing. He's playing you," Shuichi said. Eiri's eyes widened slightly.
"So you and this Iason guy played tonsil hockey in bed all day while this Thelonious jerk filmed it, is that what you're telling me?" Yuki said, glancing up and placing a cigarette between his lips.
"Hmm? Oh, no. That scene's tomorrow," Shuichi said, hugging his knees to his chest.
Yuki grunted in response, lighting the filter end before noticing his mistake and cursing.
"So, um, are you going to call Tohma, like last time?" Shuichi asked. Yuki gave him an impassive look, laying the script aside and reaching for a fresh cigarette.
"You said this was your idea?" Eiri asked.
"Um, well, yeah, it's meant to be a parody of our video. Sakuma-san said that about making light of it to show the public that it isn't that big of deal, remember?" Shuichi asked. Eiri nodded.
"Right. Well, you've annoyed me enough and your time is up. I have a deadline," Eiri muttered, turning back to his computer.
"You mean --" Shuichi started, confused.
"I said get out," Eiri snapped.
"Hiro, I don't know what to do," Shuichi moaned, leaning heavily on his best friend's shoulder as they sped along to the film studio the next day. "He didn't get mad exactly, but he kicked me out of his office, didn't come to bed until I was asleep, and he wasn't up this morning when I left."
"But Yuki-san knows what's in the video, right?" Hiro asked.
"Yeah, but he didn't seem all that interested," Shuichi said with a pout.
"You wanted him to get jealous didn't you?" Hiro asked, poking him in the ribs.
"No!" Shuichi squeaked indignantly. "I mean, yes. I mean, I don't know. I just know that something doesn't feel right about this."
"Well, it is kind of turnaround from last time," Hiro said thoughtfully as the car pulled up to the curb.
"Hey, cutie. You ready for our big scene?" Iason said with a wink, as they walked to the set. The tall blonde played up his impersonation, looking cool and nonchalant as he took a puff from his cigarette.
"Um, yeah, sure," Shuichi stammered, and gave a little giggle before following Hiro towards the make-up artist.
"It is kind of unnerving how he looks like Yuki-san at a glance," Hiro said with a smirk. The Eiri wannabe suddenly hunched over and coughed from the smoke he was not used to inhaling. "Then again, maybe not," Hiro added.
"Hey, Shuichi! The shots we got yesterday were fantastic," Thelonious said, crossing the room towards them. "You and Iason have great chemistry. Today's shoot will be super hot!"
"Yeah, thanks," Shuichi said glumly, sitting before the make-up table and staring at his reflection.
"Cheer up, sugar. It can't be that bad," said the makeup artist, as she draped a cloth around him and pinned it behind his neck. "Now hold still."
Shuichi tried not to squirm too much as the lady applied what felt like layers of goop to his face, and began to add liner to one of his eyelids. She had just finished one eye, and had gone to the other side to do the other one, when Shuichi heard a murmur of voices from the set.
"Close your eye, sweetheart," she said, as Shuichi gently pushed her hand away and swiveled around in his chair to see what the commotion was about.
"Oh my God! Oh my God! They didn't tell me he would be here!" the make-up artist cried, craning her neck and catching sight off someone out of Shuichi's view. "I've got to get his autograph!"
Shuichi's heart sped up as he watched the woman run towards the set, and followed her, wondering if it could possibly be who he hoped it was.
"Shuichi? Come quick!" a clearly frightened Sakuma Ryuichi cried, backing away into a corner as he caught sight of Thelonious Smith, the director who had subjected him to a particularly embarrassing video shoot of his own during his solo career in America.
"Calm down, Sakuma-san. It's okay," Hiro was telling him soothingly, as Shuichi reached his side.
"I was going to wish you luck and see if I could watch you shoot your new video," Ryuichi said, trembling. "But I didn't know the scary, dirty boy was making it!"
"Don't worry, Sakuma-san. I promise that if you still want to stay, I'll make sure Thelonious doesn't bother you," Shuichi said, looking around, and, spotting Suguru, grabbing the reluctant teen and thrusting him at the panicked pop singer. "Here! Suguru will stay with you! Right?"
"Um, sure, whatever. I kind of want Thelonious to stay away from me, too, anyway," Suguru said.
Ryuichi looked uncertainly at his tiny assigned bodyguard for a minute before smiling.
"Okay, then! Thanks guys," Ryuichi said happily, pulling a very reluctant Suguru into a bear hug, before looking at Shuichi and laughing. "You're all lopsided, Shu-chan!"
"Yeah, I guess I am," Shuichi said with a grin. "Well, I guess I'd better get my make-up finished then."
Shuichi began to turn away, when he caught a strange sight near the doorway that made him pause. Doing a double take, he saw that there was more than one Yuki Eiri waiting by the door.
Eiri and Iason stood in similar poses, eying each other warily, before Iason broke down laughing.
"This is the bozo they got to play me, then?" Eiri asked, looking over at Shuichi.
"I can't believe you actually came," Shuichi said, starry eyed, as he went to his lover's side.
"Yeah, well, I finished the novel last night and I was bored," Eiri said, looking around.
"Sure, Yuki," Shuichi said sweetly, taking the sleeve of his jacket and pulling him further into the room.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't Eiri Yuki!" Thelonious said, stepping up with a beaming smile and holding out his hand. "You know, one of your translated books is really hot right now, back home. Have they ever approached you about making a film? I've been dying to break out into feature films, and you write really great visuals."
"Yeah, let's cut the crap," Eiri said, ignoring Thelonious' hand and looking him up and down. "The public has their hands on enough titillating images of the moron here to last them a lifetime, so why don't you find yourself another pop singer to star in your soft porn flicks, already? I thought we got this straightened out the last time.
If this is what he wants to do, then I'm wasting my time, but I keep getting the impression you're pressuring him into something he doesn't want to do."
Eiri gave a sidelong glance in K's direction, who held up his hands in an innocent gesture.
"Then I guess the ball is in Shuichi's court then," Thelonious said, his false smile wavering as he looked at the singer questioningly.
"Um --" Shuichi said, looking back and forth from director, manager and lover. "Well, you see, this was my idea and all, and I don't object to everything but -- Can we just cut the make-out scene, already? I don't want to kiss anybody but Yuki!" Shuichi cried, cowering behind Eiri.
"You heard him," Eiri said.
"Well, you're already here, and we have everything set up. Why don't we just replace Iason with the real thing?" Thelonious said sunnily, gesturing towards the set.
"No," Eiri said firmly. "You just don't get it, do you? That tape was private, and you leeches have seen enough. Let's go home, Shuichi."
Shuichi tore off the make-up cover, glancing back with a smile before following Eiri out of the door.
"Well, they shot us playing the entire song yesterday, so they should have plenty of footage to put the video together, and they still have the bathroom scene to use," Shuichi said with a shrug as they drove away.
Yuki grunted in reply, pulling off onto a side road that wasn't in the direction of home.
"Where are we going, Yuki?" Shuichi asked.
"I've got to return some videos," Eiri said. "Fish them out of the back seat so I can drop them in the return box."
"Sure," Shuichi said, turning around in his seat. "But still, I know it isn't the point, and I think we've got the whole PR thing taken care of and all that, but don't you still wonder?"
"Wonder what, idiot?" Eiri asked, as Shuichi returned to his seat with the videos in his lap, popping open one of hard plastic casings.
"You know, who in the world managed to get into our apartment and get the -- Yuki?" Shuichi asked.
"What now?" Eiri asked irritably.
"Um -- you put one of our tapes back in the box. This is one of my Nittle Grasper concerts," Shuichi said with a nervous laugh. Eiri glanced at the box in Shuichi's lap and back at the road.
"Well, I'll be damned," Eiri said, blinking. "I guess I'll take them back tomorrow."
"But Yuki, don't you think --" Shuichi started.
"Not another word," Eiri warned, making a u-turn.