Shuichi stared with an emotionless expression out the window.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" asked the dark-haired man in the front of the car. He wore sunglasses, but it was obvious he was looking at Shuichi. He was very handsome. Shuichi nodded stiffly.

"Klyde, leave Darius alone," interrupted a man with red hair cropped short and he looked like he just got out of the US military, built with thick, not extremely big but definitely not small muscle. Shuichi glanced at him. Their eyes met. "You're welcome," mumbled the redhead. He knew Shuichi, a.k.a. Darius, would never show an emotion like thankfulness. The glance was more than the redhead needed to know Shuichi was glad he told Klyde to leave him alone. The man driving grumbled to himself and kept his eyes on the road.

"Darius," yawned a dirty blond kid, stretching, "I'm bored. Will you sing for me so I can sleep?"

Shuichi glared at him under his raven black shoulder length hair, "Am I your mom?" His voice was cold. Angry. Calculating.

"I do have to ask," said the other dark haired man in the passenger front seat, "Why are you here if you don't want to be, Darius? There's no going back until the tour is over." He turned to watch Shuichi's face. He didn't answer but gave Klyde a pointed look.

The driver smiled, "Japan loves you. Besides, it wasn't my idea. It was your producer's."

"Who decided not to join us," spat the kid angrily, "Bitch."

Shuichi's lip twitched, "You can say that again."

The driver glared at them over his glasses with hard brown eyes, "Not around me, you can't."

"Kaya is a bitch!" the kid shouted loudly. The car sped up and the kid's eyes widened, "Hey man, calm down. You know I'm afraid of speeding cars."

"Says the daredevil of the century," mumbled the man in the passenger seat. The driver was Klyde, their manager. The one next to him was Kevin, his twin and their bassist. The kid, Cloud, was the drummer. The redhead was the guitarist, Devon.

Each of these characters had different styles. Klyde dressed like he worked in an office; a blue suit and tie every day. Kevin dressed very differently. Today he wore a net shirt and leather pants. Very flashy. Cloud wore loose hand-me downs, which were usually black band tees and jeans or black shorts. Today he had a DISTURBED shirt on and black shorts. Devon had wild tiedye shirts and jeans.

But Shuichi. He dressed way different than he used to dress. Black, black, black, black, and purple now and again. Today he wore a black leather jacket, black loose jeans, a black tank top, and black leather sneakers with purple laces. His eyes were the only colorful thing about him... except they were amethyst; a shade of purple. Silver poked out of his mouth when he spoke. He had pierced his tongue. Silver flashed at his right earlobe and in his lip. Tongue, ear, and lip all pierced. It was definitely a new look.

"I don't want to pry," Kevin said, "but why don't you like Japan? You're the only Japanese in the band and the only person not psyched to be here."

"When is he psyched about anything, Kevin?" Devon asked.

Klyde agreed, "Devon has a point. Who wants to stop at Zenny's?" Memories flashed through Shuichi's head of eating at Zenny's with Hiro. That was two years before. Ignore it. The car came to a stop. Everyone exited except Devon and Shuichi.

"Are you alright?" Devon asked Shuichi confusedly, "You look..." Shuichi just growled momentarily, getting out of the car. They followed their band members inside and out of the comfortable black limo.

Hiro sat up straight as his new favorite band walked inside his favorite place to eat. Klyde the manager came in first. Hiro's heart sped up. He was so excited. Then came in the rest; Cloud, Kevin, Devon, and Darius- or Shuichi, but our poor little Hiro didn't know his new idol was once his best friend.

The band members all sat across from the bar. He had trouble holding in his excitement, but it worked. Suguru looked to see what had captured his friend's attention. He rolled his eyes.

"Hiro, you're helpless," he sighed, "You knew they were coming to Japan."

"I didn't know they were coming to this town!" he hissed, trying to look calm, "Let alone this restaurant. Suguru, I know I'm just as famous, but... I want their autograph."

Suguru didn't look away from his milkshake, "I don't know who you are." Hiro sighed, stood and nervously approached the band.

"Uh, I know you guys probably get this a lot but," Hiro mumbled, "can I get your autographs? I don't want to piss you off so I'll leave if you want-"

"Its fine," Klyde said with a smile. Hiro frowned. They all looked so friendly, all smiles and normal. But their music was so angry and depressed and offensive, as was their stage presence. Except Darius (Shuichi). Hiro handed them a pen.

He blushed, "Sorry, I don't have paper." Cloud smiled and pulled out his backpack (he was still in high school), taking out a sheet of loose leaf. He wrote in scribble teenage writing: Good luck with finding a better singer for Bad Luck. Cloud. Cloud promptly handed the paper to Kevin.

"So," Klyde said, trying to make conversation, "you're from Bad Luck? Aren't we playing a concert with you?"

Hiro nodded, "Yes. I mean, if you like our singer. He's sort of..." he trailed off. "He's not really nice." he ended lamely.

Klyde nodded, "I know what you mean." He jerked his head toward Shuichi. Hiro smirked. Klyde eventually got the paper and scribbled his name. He handed it to Hiro. Hiro frowned at it.

"Can I have Darius'?" he asked, then added hastily, "If its okay."

Devon frowned at Shuichi, "Usually he isn't like this. He doesn't want to give you his autograph, even though he lives for his fans."

Hiro pouted, "What if I say I'm your biggest fan?"

Kevin chuckled, "You wouldn't be the first." Shuichi just stared emotionless out the window. Inside he was feeling nostalgic, hearing Hiro's voice. And he hated feeling like that. Shuichi stood and pushed past his friend. He even smelled the same. Devon just frowned after Shuichi.

"He's not usually like this," Klyde assured Hiro.

Hiro frowned, severely disappointed, "I see. Maybe he'll feel different later." Suguru touched Hiro's shoulder.

"Hiro," he said, "K will kill us if we're late to meet Ugly Fortune."

Klyde smiled, "That's us. Sit. He won't kill all of us. Its bad for business. I would know." Suguru raised an eyebrow and Hiro shrugged. They sat with the American band they were going to open for.

"So," Kevin said as their food was placed in front of them by a cute waitress, "did you know we're famous?"

She giggled, "Yeah, you told me already. Maybe I can see you later."

He winked, "You know, I'd like that."

"Here's my number," she said, handing him a piece of paper with his food. Then she left.

"Flirt," Suguru muttered under his breath.

Klyde sighed, "You get used to it." They began eating in silence. Not much later, Cloud had them laughing and talking. And people say teenagers are awkward.

"Well," Hiro yawned, "We should probably go. K and Tohma will be waiting for us."

Klyde agreed, "Indeed we should go. Since we're headed the same place, want a lift?"

Hiro beamed, "Sounds great."

The car ride was awkward for anyone within Shuichi's immediate bubble. Everyone else was laughing. That meant poor Suguru was glancing around nervously, looking for something to distract himself from the moody singer.

"Why did you start singing?" he finally asked Shuichi. The car went silent and everyone turned to watch. Shuichi didn't even turn his head from the window. After a long moment of silence, Suguru gave the other passengers a helpless look.

Cloud yawned, "Darius only talks when singing or bashing our producer." True enough, Shuichi mumbled a string of curse words, ending in the word "bitch," when the woman was mentioned.

"Oh," Suguru said dumbly.

"He talks when its important," Devon added, trying to help him seem a little normal. The car stopped and everyone unloaded. They all headed into the building, Shuichi behind the rest of them. He didn't want them to know he knew exactly where every room was. No one needed to know who he used to be. Shuichi Shindou was dead. Now he was Darius.

They eventually ended up in Tohma's office.

"Hello," Tohma said coolly, "you're all fashionably late."

Klyde bowed and shook hands with K and Tohma, "Sorry," he smiled dashingly here, "we got caught up in a situation we couldn't pass up."

"A pit stop at Zenny's isn't a good excuse," K said indignantly, ready to whip out his gun any second if anyone made the wrong move. He was particularly peeved. That's when the new singer for Bad Luck spoke up. Everyone turned to him.

"Can we get along with this?" he asked, his voice silky, his blond hair swaying, his blue eyes sparkling in annoyance. He was American. That explained his radiating arrogance.

"I agree," Shuichi said, "Sing for us."

Devon scrambled to explain, "We need to make sure you can sing well enough to... to sing as our opening band. We have no doubt in anyone's abilities here- except yours. So we'd like a demonstration so we can decide if we like your band or if we should choose another."

Shuichi added, "Sing a song you wrote as well." Devon didn't see how it was relevant, so he didn't try to explain it. The singer frowned.

"I am Johnathan White!" he shouted, "No one doubts my talent!"

Before his tantrum continued, Shuichi yawned, "Fine. Then Bad Luck is not playing for us. When a suitable band is found, Tohma, I expect you to tell us." He stood.

Tohma stopped him, and insisted, "But you didn't hear him sing."

Shuichi didn't look moved, "No. Bad Luck is by far the worst band I have ever heard recently." He paused then added, "Maybe it should be disbanded completely. Without Shuichi Shindou, the band isn't worth shit."

K tried, "Won't you please just listen to him sing?"

Shuichi turned to look at him, his eyes cold yet burning with smoldering anger, "No."

"Nittle Grasper!" Tohma said frantically, "How about them?" Shuichi watched Tohma for a minute.

"Fine," he said, "Let's roll out, guys. I'm tired from talking so much." He didn't look any different, let alone tired, but no one doubted he was. He hadn't spoken that much since he and their producer got into that fight at the start of their band. Only Shuichi and Kaya knew what was said in that argument, but everyone heard some sort of yelling and crashing that night, most of it coming from Shuichi, they were sure.

They all walked out, Shuichi first, then everyone else, saying goodbye to new friends on their way. Shuichi led the way, walking briskly. He couldn't stand being there anymore. Too many memories. He and his new band members piled into the limo and went to the hotel.

Once in his room, Shuichi took a deep breath and flopped onto his bed without turning on lights or changing clothes or showering or eating or brushing his teeth. There was an annoying knock at his door. He ignored it. It continued. With a sigh, he stood and opened the door, face expressionless.

Cloud stared with big eyes, "Darius, there's a creepy guy knocking on my door. Can I sleep here?" Shuichi didn't answer but gave him a hard look. Cloud insisted, "Look!" he pointed at his door. Sure enough, there was a blond drunk waiting at his door for him.

"Tell him to go away," Shuichi answered.

"I did!" the teenager exclaimed. Shuichi went to take care of the guy. Turns out he was knocking on the wrong door. Shuichi helped him to his room and went back to his own room, exhausted. He slammed the door and flopped onto the bed.

"Darius!" Devon called, knocking, "Can I come in?" He opened the door. Shuichi turned to him. What now? "Darius, what's wrong? I know you don't like to talk but ever since we got off the plane you've been acting weird. I mean, stranger than usual." Shuichi sat up and stared hard into Devon's face.

"Get. Out." he whispered through gritted teeth. The words were short, angry, and contained more venom than imaginable. Devon backed away cautiously and closed the door. Shuichi collapsed and fell asleep within seconds. Only to wake up a few minutes later when his phone went off.

He reached for it and read the text. It was from Yuki. It read: Are you still out there, love? I'm thinking about you while I fall asleep tonight. Shuichi sighed. Before he left, he handed Yuki his new cell number. Shuichi never replied or called back, but it was consolation to know Yuki was alive. He said something similar every night before he went to bed, like he promised.

You could reply. Tell him you're in town. Shuichi frowned at himself. Bad Darius! Don't think like that! You're done with him! Then why give him your number...? On impulse, he flipped open his phone.

Yuki stared at the phone like he did every night, hoping his lover would call or text him back. He knew Shuichi wouldn't, but he really hoped he would some day. Why give him his cell phone number just to ignore him? Yuki rubbed his eyes and looked at the cell again. He had to wait. It vibrated, making him jump a mile out of his bed.

He regained his composure and stared at it. It didn't move again. It was a text. Slowly, cautiously, he reached for it and opened it. Shuichi. Oh, God, Shu. It read: Had a rough day... Yuki could have burst into tears. His love wasn't dead. Only ignoring him. Hey, I'd be happy too. He missed his Shu! Hurriedly, Yuki replied.

Why was he doing this? What was wrong with him? Nothing is wrong with you, Shu. You just want to be close to the one you love. My ass I love him! Yeah, you did like to take it up the ass from him. That's not what I meant. His phone went off. He flipped it open. It read: Shu! God, I miss you! What was so rough about your day?

Long flight. A lot of talking. Stress.

Why stress?

Met some people. Tired now.

Do... do you want me to leave you alone so you can sleep?

… No. Your day?

Fine. I finished a book. I want to hear about you. Where are you?


Close? Nearby? Are you in Japan?


I don't understand.

Leave me alone.

With that last sentence, Shuichi turned off his phone. He sighed and closed his eyes. He needed sleep. Desperately. But no matter how hard he tried that night, he couldn't sleep. Shuichi Shindou was awake.

"Are you alright?" Devon asked, concerned, "You don't look so hot." Shuichi just gave him a pointed look. Look who's talking. Devon sighed. Whatever. They were sitting in an NG studio.

"We need a closing band," Klyde was saying, " Any suggestions from Tohma or K?" They were silent. The silence was interrupted by the door swinging open. Johnathan White looked extremely arrogant as he strode in, Hiro and Suguru coming in behind him, rolling their eyes.

Johnathan laughed, "I challenge you, singer of Ugly Fortune to a karaoke contest! If I win, we'll be your closing band! If you win, you can discard us as you wish!"

Tohma saw the opportunity and added, "And if you decline, that means he wins!" Everyone went silent. It was oppressive. Everyone watched Shuichi. He stared steadily at John.

"One condition," he said quietly. Despite his soft volume, it still sounded loud compared to the silence. Everyone were sitting on the edges of their seats in anticipation, so-to-speak. But that was all Shuichi apparently had to say, because he leaned back and went to stare out the window again.

Devon cleared his throat, "Which is?" Shuichi looked at him.

"Oh, right. Kaya has to approve of the challenge," he said.

Hiro frowned, "That's a strange condition." Already, Tohma was dialing numbers into his cell phone. The bands waited, intensely. Shuichi seemed uninterested. Tohma handed the phone to Shuichi with a confused expression. Shuichi took the phone.

"Darius speaking," he said. The phone dropped from his hand when the woman began screaming. No one could understand what she was saying. He picked the cell up with a sigh, "No. That was Tohma. I have no intentions of doing so. Good God woman!" he shouted, standing up, shouting in the phone, "Listen to me!" The incessant screaming stopped. "Finally. Yes, a challenge. Karaoke. No, Kaya. God damn it, no! Fine. I wouldn't plan on it." With that, he closed the phone. Everyone looked at him. He looked at John, "Where?"

John smirked, "Here. Now." K finished hooking up the television and microphone. John chose the songs, since it was his challenge. He sang a Nittle Grasper song, not badly, only messing up the words once or twice. He was decent. Then he handed the microphone to Shuichi with a smirk. He was way overconfident. He scrolled through the songs and found one. Rage Beat, by Bad Luck. Shuichi didn't move, but took the mike.

Shuichi mumbled the words and didn't sing loud enough for the mike to catch so no one heard him. Whether or not he got the words right didn't matter. There was no doubt, he lost already.

Devon frowned when the song was over, "Darius, what-" Darius sat down at stared out the window. Kaya was right. Maybe... Devon frowned. He didn't want to talk.

For a second time that day, the door burst open. Shuichi turned his head slowly to look at the intruder. He was particularly careful not to show emotion. In the doorway stood a blond-haired, golden-eyed drop-dead gorgeous man. Yuki Eiri.

"Tohma," he gasped, trying to catch his breath from running, "I-"

"Eiri," Tohma frowned, "What are you doing here? We're extremely busy."

Yuki pressed, "Tohma, this is important! I spoke to Shuichi last night!" The room buzzed quietly. "I think he's in Japan." Shuichi tried not to bring attention to himself, and stared off into space, looking uninterested but really feeling nervous.

"Are you sure?" Tohma was saying, "He said he was close?"

Yuki answered excitedly, "I asked where he was an he said close."

Tohma frowned, "Do you think he's watching you?"

"I don't know," he said, sounding ecstatic, "I want to see him." Shuichi stood. Yuki turned to look at him and frowned. "Hello. What were you busy with before, Tohma?" he asked.

Tohma answered, "This is Ugly Fortune, a mostly American band. This is Darius, the singer. Cloud, Kevin, Devon, and Klyde."

"Right," he said, "Yuki Eiri." His eyes were locked on the uninterested singer.

"I'm going," Shuichi stretched, "The room is stuffy."

Devon frowned, "Oh no, you don't, Darius. I better not find you smoking out there!" Right in front of him, Darius pulled out the pack of cigarettes and left with a lighter in hand. Devon sighed, "I thought he stopped smoking... Its bad for his voice." Kevin went to follow the singer.

"And therefore the band," Cloud said knowingly, "Yuki, my girlfriend really likes your works. Can I get your autograph for her?"

Yuki sighed, "Fine." He scribbled on a notepad and gave it to him, "Now, Tohma-"

"Fuck! Off! Kevin!" they heard Shuichi shout. Then silence. An angry bassist stalked back in the room, a cigarette burn still steaming on his hand. He grumpily sat down and glared at the floor. Devon sighed, Klyde rolled his eyes, and Cloud looked worried. Everyone else just stared. Darius didn't do that, did he?

The calm singer entered the room after the initial shock wore off. He grabbed his equipment.

"I'm going back to the hotel. I stayed up late. Need sleep," he growled. Then he hesitated and watched the karaoke land on a song. A song he wrote a long time ago and hadn't sang since the beginning of Ugly Fortune. With a sigh, he put down his bag and grabbed the mike.

Slowly the pen touches paper

In the guidance of the words that you write.

Memories roll in of the things you once did

and who you had shared them with is somebody thinking of you.

Did I bother telling you this?

With words that cross teeth and jump lips.

A poor choice of words

In wanting to tell you anything, but words don't come with ease.

They're forever my hurt.

Would it really matter if you were to count the days left with your hands?

Your focus secure and the loves you left;

well smiles staged in photographs,

Here until...

You, you left the light on.

There's a chance I might have tripped, girl.

You were there to hold on...

The song continued. When it was finally over, Shuichi left as he said he would, leaving an entranced group of people. Yuki shook his head. Shu. He had to find his Shu.

"Tohma," Eiri said, "Do you think you could find Shuichi? Maybe trace this number if I call it?"

Tohma nodded, "I can." He turned to John and smiled, "Looks like you won."

John looked at the ground, "He sang better than me."

"After the challenge was basically concluded," Tohma assured him. "Eiri. My office. Call Shuichi."

Shuichi looked at his phone buzzing. Eiri was looking for him. He flipped it open, "Shuichi."

"Shu!" Yuki said, "Where are you?"

"Close," Shuichi answered, promptly turning off his phone.

"Are you sure?" Eiri frowned, "He's in the city at least?"

Tohma nodded, "Positive." Eiri huffed and leaned against the back of his chair. This was big. Shuichi was back. But why? For what reason?

I love you. I miss you.

I feel flattered.


Who did you expect? The Muffin Man?

Where can I find you? I must see you! I can't sleep knowing you're close but not knowing at the same time!

Had a rough day again.

Oh... are you okay?

Hurt my friend. I'm fine, though.

Why did you hurt him?

Accident. Burned him.

Burned? Is he okay?

Fine. Minor burn.

What about you? How are you?

Fine. Angry. Tired.

Shu... why did you leave?

None of your business. Stop looking for me.

Shuichi turned off his phone and closed his eyes. Can people be traced to locations through text messages? No matter. He was tired. It was time to sleep. Again, he couldn't force his eyes shut. Something was bothering him. He sighed and sat up. Paper. He needed paper.

Devon opened the door, ignoring his fear of Darius' wrath. The room was dark. Was he sleeping? He opened the door more and stepped inside. "Darius?"

"Go away," came a hiss from the corner of a room, "I don't give a shit what we're doing today." His voice was thick, raspy. Was he crying?

"Darius, are you okay?" Devon tried again, "Where are you?"

"Why?" came his frustrated voice, "Why does everyone want to know! Darius, Darius! Names don't mean anything! Everyone always wants to know where I am!"

Devon frowned at the darkness, "Are you alright?"

This time he actually heard a sob as the singer cried out, "Fine. Darius is fine. Go away, Darius says. Don't come close. But Darius is tired now. I want to wake up, Devon. Darius wants to sleep. I'm not Darius. Japan is bad for Darius."

"Why are you talking in third person?" Devon asked.

"Because I'm not Darius!" Shuichi shouted, "I am me! Not Darius! I want to see him. I need to see him while Darius is tired. Then when we go, I want to be Darius again."

Devon looked concernedly at where he thought Shuichi was, "Maybe I should call your psychiatrist."

"No!" Shuichi shouted, flinging himself at Devon and ending up hugging him. Devon blinked. Where did pink hair come from? Devon pulled back.

"Darius?" he asked again.

Shuichi buried his face into the crook of Devon's neck, "No! That's not my real name."

Devon replied, "I know, silly. You told us that when you made our band."

Shuichi sighed, "Don't tell anyone this happened." He pulled away and wiped at his amethyst eyes that were still leaking waterfalls. "I couldn't sleep. Show these to the others and you guys can write the rest of the drums, bass, and guitar today." He handed Devon a small stack of papers.

"What's going on?" Devon asked, confused. He stared at Shuichi, "You look familiar, but different. Who are you?"

Shuichi sighed, "I don't know anymore. Look, I'll be back by tomorrow. If you figure out who I am because I did this..." he trailed off, then picked up again, "don't tell anyone. Especially Tohma. He can't know."

Devon frowned, "Where are you going, Darius? Its eleven at night." Then he took in the singer's attire. Tight belly button shirt and yellow jacket. His eyes widened, "Shuichi Shindou?" The singer put his fingers to his lips to indicate it was a secret. Duh.

Yuki stared at his phone. It had been a long time since Shu sent him those messages and fell asleep, but Eiri couldn't help but stare at it, hoping. God, he hoped with all his might. Yuki almost jumped a mile out of his skin when a hand touched his shoulder. But he stayed still. He was too tired to move. A warm body that matched the warm hand pressed against his back.

Confused, Yuki turned around to come face-to-face with his lover.

He began to talk, "Shu-" Shuichi pressed a finger against Eiri's lips, indicating silence.

"I love you," Shu whispered, tears in his eyes, "I miss you, too." Eiri had no time to reply. Shu's lips found his and the lovers kissed passionately...

"Shu," Eiri groaned, "oh, Shu..." Ecstasy filled him as Shuichi's lips wrapped around his cock. Eiri ran a hand through his lover's hair and grabbed it, shoving his cock in further, "Ah... Shu..." Shuichi moaned as well, trying to speak, and it intensified Yuki's pleasure. "Harder," he pleaded, "Suck harder."

All Shuichi could do was comply to his lover's requests. And he did so until the couple could move no longer.

"Shu," Yuki whispered tiredly, nuzzling his face into Shuichi's chest, "Don't ever leave me again. Promise me."

Shuichi sighed, "Yuki... I'm sorry."

"Why?" Eiri asked, the need for sleep confusing his concept of reality, "Why are you sorry?"

"I can't promise something like that," Shu whispered, "I have to go." Eiri clutched desperately to him, even though in his exhausted state, he couldn't hold Shuichi there no matter how hard he tried.

"Don't go," he begged, "I can't live without you. I miss your annoying problems, your cute over-dramatic reactions... Shu, you smell good." He smelled his lover deeply, "I miss this."

Shuichi sighed, "Me too." Within moments, Eiri was sleeping. When Shuichi was sure of that, he slid out from the bed and gave Eiri an apologetic look. "I'm so sorry. I love you, Yuki Eiri. Get on with your life without me." With that, he left Eiri alone while he slept. A second time. Shu felt more like a jerk than ever.

"Darius, are you alright?" Devon whispered, "Your hair is black again."

Shuichi looked at Devon, "My name is Darius." His eyes softened, "Forget what you saw."

"Why did you leave Japan?" he asked.

Shuichi stared out his bedroom window, "First time here."

Devon sighed and stood, "Fine. I get it. I'll see you later, Darius. We have a concert tonight." Shuichi nodded. Devon left the room. He listened and heard Devon speaking. "Leave him alone right now, Cloud." Despite the warning, the door opened and in came an excited Cloud.

"I need help getting ready," he pouted, "I'm no good at fitting into clothes that really fit me." Shuichi stood silently and helped Cloud into the bathroom.

"Strip," Darius commanded. Cloud complied happily, leaving his boxers. Roughly, Shuichi pulled up tight black jeans. Cloud grimaced.

"No fun today?" he asked innocently.

Shuichi glared at him, "Obviously. Sated."

Cloud pouted, "I didn't see a girl in your room last night."

"Arms up." Cloud obeyed and Shuichi pulled a tight black tank top over his head. Then he grabbed black shoes and shoved them at Cloud. He grabbed black spray can and Cloud covered his face.

Cloud walked out of the bathroom, coughing violently. That always happened.

Kevin raised an eyebrow, "That was quick. Usually you two take hours."

Cloud shrugged, "I don't know what's wrong with him." Shuichi stretched. He was wearing to the concert what he usually wore; black, black, black, silver. Black button down shirt, which remained unbuttoned. Black cargo pants. Black sneakers. Silver lip, tongue, and ear rings. The very roots of his hair were just slightly pink, but no one noticed.

Kevin wore fishnets again, and tight black jeans. Devon wore one of Cloud's black shirts, which was tight on him because of their size difference, with black shorts. They all looked each other over and looked to Shuichi, who was the man who was in charge of stage fashion. He grunted and they headed out early. Couldn't keep the fans waiting. The limo was quiet.

Just as quietly, the band got out of the car and went into the building. Time for rehearsal.

Let's just stop,
drop everything,
(forget each other's names) forget each other's names,
And just walk away.

Turn around and head in different directions,
Like we never, it's like we never knew each other at all.
We said what we feel, then we stop ourselves,
And just walk away.
Never looking back,
Loving every second of it,
we just walk away.

This is probably the best,
not to mention the worst idea,
that I have ever had.

Ignoring what we've felt,
Overlooking what we've done,
No awkward silences, no hiding any truths
Ignoring what we've felt,
Overlooking what we've done,
What do you say?

This is probably the best,
not to mention the worst idea,
that I have ever had.

We say what we feel,
Then we stop ourselves,
And just walk away.
Never looking back,
Loving every second of it,
We just walk away.

Let's just stop,
Drop everything,
Forget each other's names,
Can we please just walk away?
It could be...It could be...
Like we never knew each other at all.

Answer me!
All egos aside, what do you say?
All egos aside, what do you say?

Ignoring what we've felt,
Overlooking what we've done,
No awkward silences, no hiding any truths
Ignoring what we've felt,
Overlooking what we've done,
What do you say?

We say what we feel,
Then we stop ourselves,
And just walk away.
Never looking back,
Loving every second of it,
We just walk away.

Shuichi looked out at the cheering crowd as the song finished. So many people... Just cheering for him and his band... He felt rejuvenated by it. He cleared his throat and said into the microphone gruffly, "Hey, guys. Thanks for coming out here. You're what I live for, so... I'm Darius. To my left is Kevin, our bassist. To my right is Devon, the lead guitarist. And for all you ladies out there, Cloud is back there on the drums. He's single. Just wanted to put that out there." He smiled. A genuine, happy smile. The smile he saved for one thing: his fans. "Alright, let's get this started!"

"Hey guys," Shuichi said into the mike, "My band is through for tonight. But I have my very first acoustic song written. I actually wrote all of it last night. Devon helped me with the guitar bit. It was inspired by what I thought someone felt like this morning." As he said this, he got situated on a stool with guitar on the ready.

Where do you go when it gets dark?

And is there room for me there?

How long will it take you to wake up?

Before you go will you wake me?

Or I'll sleep all day.

Miracle sun

Stay with me tonight

We don't wanna be without you

We'll come along so

Save a place for us

We don't wanna be left alone

Where do you go when it gets dark?

And is there room for me there?

How long will it take for you to wake up?

Before you go, will you wake me?

Or I'll sleep all day

And miss everything

Miracle sun

Stay with me tonight

We don't wanna be without you

We'll come along

So save a place for us

We don't wanna be left alone, no

Miracle sun

Stay with me tonight

We don't wanna be without you

We'll come along

So save a place for us

We don't wanna be left alone.

The crowd cheered and he smiled again. Then his eye caught something. Yuki Eiri was being pulled backstage by his brother and Tohma. He sighed, then turned back to the mike, "Thanks again guys. You were great." He stepped back stage and watched people scurry around. Hiro flashed him a smile and he just stared blankly back. A hand touched his shoulder. Slowly, Shuichi turned to face Yuki.

"That song was interesting," Eiri said, "Who was it that inspired you again?" Shuichi didn't answer, but turned around and stalked outside. Yuki followed him. Shuichi flipped out a cigarette and put it in his mouth, promptly taking out another and offering it silently to Eiri. Eiri stared at him for a moment and accepted it. Shuichi lit his cigarette with a lighter and handed it to Yuki.

"Shuichi Shindou," Shuichi said.

Yuki frowned at looked at him, "What?"

"Shuichi Shindou," Shuichi repeated himself, "inspired that song."

"You know him?" Yuki asked.

Shuichi nodded, "Nice kid. Not bad in bed."

Yuki snorted, "You've had a poor sum."

Shuichi raised an eyebrow, "And when was the last time you saw him? He's gotten better, I'm sure. All the girls and boys scream so loudly I can hardly sleep hours after he's through with them."

"You live with him?" Yuki asked, "I would really like to-"

"I don't," Shuichi said, taking a drag of his cigarette, "which means those boys and girls have to scream pretty fucking loud. He's a nice kid, though. Polite. Calm."

Eiri shook his head, "Then that's not Shuichi. He's not calm."

"He wasn't," Shuichi corrected him, "You haven't seen him for how long?"

Yuki took a shaky drag, "Two years."

"Exactly," Shuichi said, and dropped his cigarette, "I think I'm better than Shuichi, though. Last night, before he left so abruptly, I had him screaming his lungs out. Poor thing. Maybe I'll just have to punish him for hurting my ears."

Eiri frowned, "He left you for me?" Now that he thought about it, Shuichi was amazing in bed last night.

"For you?" Shuichi said, eyebrow raised, "Only if he wanted to hurt himself. I hate you. He should know that by now." Then he muttered under his breath, "He's definitely getting it tonight."

"Why do you hate me?" Eiri asked, "People usually love me."

Shuichi glared at Eiri, "I hate you because it protects Shuichi from hurting himself."

Eiri frowned deeper, "I don't understand."

"You don't have to," he said, then stepped forward. Although Eiri was taller than him, he still seemed really menacing, "Stay away from Shuichi. Stop looking for him. You won't find him unless he goes to you. And I'm trying my hardest to keep him from doing that."

Eiri had to smirk, "Trying being the operative word, I assume?"

Shuichi spit on the ground and stepped back, "You can be sure you've just pissed off Shuichi as well by mocking me. You have no idea my influence on him. You might not ever see him again because you rubbed me the wrong way."

"Shuichi will do what he wants," Eiri said confidently, "He always does, no matter the cost to anyone."

Shuichi smirked, "I'll just have to make sure he doesn't want to see you." Eiri's expression fell.

"No one has that much control over him," he said, trying to win the argument.

Shuichi's smirk fell and he stared coldly at Eiri, "Really? You don't know the new Shuichi. You don't know how he's changed or what I am to him. When he went to you last night, did he even once mention anything about himself? Wasn't he there only to relieve himself?"

"You couldn't do it?" Eiri asked.

"Sometimes I'm too rough for him," Shuichi waved it off.

Eiri chuckled, "I don't think that's it. I wasn't exactly careful last night."

Shuichi shrugged, "It doesn't matter. I don't pretend to know everything about him. Just more than you." He turned to walk away. Then he paused and turned back to Eiri. They stared at each other. Darius' eyes were black, thanks to contact lenses. "Shuichi says he's sorry. But I didn't tell you that and if I did, you wouldn't care."

"You did, and I do," Eiri whispered.

"You wouldn't have forced him away if you cared," Shuichi said, his eyes filling with angry tears. "Just thinking about how you treated him makes me want to rip out your heart and feed it to him for dinner. And when he compliments my cooking, I'll tell him I cooked it with love. Love you never showed him."

"You're emotionally attached then?" Yuki asked, "You're talking about love."

Darius turned around, "No. I can just sympathize with him. I have a similar background." Then he stalked off, calling behind him, "Shuichi hates you and you know it!" Eiri stared after the man. What a jerk-wad. Eiri dropped his cigarette and snuffed it out.

"Shuichi," he whispered, "Don't tell me you hate me, if I ever see you again." Shuichi, who was listening in, growled to himself, and walked away for real. Everyone stared at him as he stomped through, eyes tearing up, fists shaking at his side.

Hiro touched his shoulder, "Are you alright, man?"

Darius shoved his hand violently away, "Go away, Hiro." Hiro let go hesitantly. Shuichi stormed outside to the limo. He hesitated. Don't take the limo. He looked around and hailed a cab. He got inside and stared grumpily out the window.

"Where are you headed?" asked the taxi driver. Shuichi ran a hand through his hair and told him where the hotel was. He needed to calm down, keep his composure. "Hey, you look like someone I know by reputation," said the driver.

Shuichi looked up at him, "Yeah? Who?"

"Shuichi Shindou," he said, "do you know him?"

Shuichi snorted, "He's a little pussy."

The driver frowned, "He's a really good singer."

"Yeah, and I'm a fucking famous football player," Shuichi growled. The driver stopped at the hotel and Shuichi handed him the money. "Keep the change." He stepped out of the cab and walked through the garage, looking for his car. He found it soon enough- a black Mercedes. He got in and sped out into town. He was still angry and emotional. He sped down the high way. There was no destination. All he wanted was the warm lights and the cheering crowd.

He stopped his car and got out. Zenny's. Why did he come here, of all places? He went inside anyway and sat in the same spot he always sat with Hiro. He ordered a vanilla milkshake. He stared out the window and pulled himself together. I am Darius! Darius doesn't lose his cool! He sighed. But Shuichi did. And Eiri pulled out the Shuichi in me. Shuichi jumped a mile out of his seat as someone touched his shoulder.

Glaring, he looked at the intruder. Hiro. He turned his glare into a cold, empty stare. Hiro sat across from him and he got a strawberry milkshake. Shuichi's drink was placed in front of him.

"I'd think you like chocolate," Hiro said. Shuichi looked at him, then sucked the milkshake and looked out the window. "Because you like dark colors and everything. Why not strawberry?"

Shuichi sighed and looked at Hiro, "Shut up. Chocolate is overrated. And I hate the color pink."

Hiro raised an eyebrow, "Why is that?" Shuichi thought of his hair.

"I know some annoying punk with pink hair," he answered and sucked on his drink.

Hiro frowned, "You know Shuichi?"

Shuichi rolled his eyes, "Good grief. When I stop talking, you stop asking. Yes, I know Shuichi."

"Where is he?" Hiro asked excitedly, "Why didn't you tell us before?"

Shuichi shrugged, keeping his face blank, "Shuichi doesn't want to be found. Nor does he want me to talk to you. I don't appreciate your friendliness, either."

"Too bad," Hiro said indignantly, "I'm talking to you anyway." Shuichi's cell went off. He looked down and read the message: I'm not going to bed yet, but... Darius says you hate me. Is that true? Shuichi sighed and erased the message. "Who was that?" Hiro asked.

"An annoying punk with blond hair," Shuichi growled angrily, "Mother fucker. What is wrong with me?" he asked himself, promptly hitting his head pathetically. "One stupid blond kid and you're all emotional?" Hiro raised an eyebrow. Darius was talking to himself. Oh, boy.

"What's wrong?" asked Hiro.

Shuichi stood, "Leave me alone, Hiro. Neither of us want to have anything to do with you."

Hiro stood as well, "Tell Shuichi I said happy birthday when it is." Shuichi's jaw set.

"No," he replied through gritted teeth, "I won't. You can tell him yourself if you really care."

Hiro pouted, "But I don't know where he is or how to contact him."

"Yes you do!" Shuichi said, exasperatedly throwing his arms up, "He gave you his cell number before he left!"

Hiro frowned, "No he didn't."

Shuichi rolled his eyes, "Under the floor board where you used to pass notes at night, you dolt."

Hiro narrowed his eyes, "How do you know about that?"

Shuichi sighed and sat down, "Shuichi tells me everything." He looked down at his hands, "Fucking everything. Never shuts up or leaves me alone."

"You listen to him, don't you?" Hiro asked, "You give him attention when he needs it, not just when its convenient?"

Shuichi glared up at him, tears in his eyes, "I'm not Yuki Eiri. I'm Darius. I'm detached, not abusive." He looked out the window, "I hurt Yuki, didn't I? I told him Shuichi hated him. I lied."

"If you hate him, it shouldn't matter," Hiro said.

Shuichi shook his head, "But I lied. Shuichi loves Yuki."

"Aren't you jealous?" Hiro asked.

Shuichi shook his head, "No."

"Really?" Hiro asked, surprised, "You kind of remind me of how Yuki used to be. He used to be protective of what was his. I guess being cold is the only thing you two had in common."

Shuichi sighed and shook his head, "I am protective over what's mine. But Shuichi isn't mine."

"Oh," was all Hiro could say. Shuichi finished his drink and left Hiro alone... with the small bill, too, but Shuichi hadn't done that on purpose.

The next day, Shuichi had thousands of questions thrown at him, mostly about Shuichi. Where is he? Are you two a couple? Is he alright? And Shuichi didn't answer one question. He just stared out the studio window. Finally, someone asked something odd.

"I don't get what that song was about," Cloud said, "Can you explain it to me? Miracle Sun?"

Shuichi looked at Cloud, "The song last night?"

Cloud nodded, "Yeah. I don't get it."

Shuichi shrugged, "If I have to explain it to you, you won't understand." Everyone was quiet while Shuichi spoke. "You people are idiots. I know Shuichi. I'm not his mom. I don't know where he is 24/7 and how he is. Leave me alone and stop asking for him. Back to work." Everyone seemed disappointed, but they did go back to work, practicing and writing songs together. Except Shuichi, who sat in the corner with his acoustic guitar, gently strumming and humming the melody to Miracle Sun.

"Darius, if you stay over there too much longer, someone's going to think you've become completely anti-social," Devon teased.

"Why should I care what they think?" Shuichi retorted, "When is Kaya going to get here?"

Klyde frowned, "I didn't tell you? She's not coming for a while. Her flight was canceled." Shuichi took a deep breath and went outside for some air and a cigarette. Outside, Eiri was waiting for him. Shuichi ignored him and took a drag. Eiri studied him. He looked different somehow.

"So did you punish him?" Eiri asked coolly.

Shuichi looked at him and shook his head, "No. He was crying when I went to see him."

Eiri rolled his eyes, "Why?"

"I'm not telling you while you have that attitude," Shuichi retorted, "That's why he left."

Eiri sighed, "I know. Next month is his birthday, too."

Shuichi snorted, "He doesn't celebrate his birthday anymore."

Yuki frowned, "Why? He loves any reason to celebrate anything."

"Loved," Shuichi corrected him, "Not anymore. Do you know why Shuichi likes me? We're both emotional people."

Yuki snorted, "Yeah. Right. You're emotional?"

Shuichi gave him a blank stare, "Yes. I'm passionate, Eiri. Last night I was passionately angry at you. I passionately made love. Passion. I'm passionate when I sing. I'm emotional." Yuki looked away.

"People are blind to subtle emotions, aren't they?" Yuki whispered, "Shuichi was. I gave up smoking because he left. I thought it was time to change. And then you came and fucked that up." Shuichi hid a smile. He gave up smoking.

"As long as you keep trying," Shuichi stretched and leaned against the building. "Shuichi still sings, you know."

Eiri smiled a little, "That's good to hear."

"You wish you could hear it," Shuichi snorted. Eiri was quiet. Shuichi sighed and thought out loud, "I promised myself I'd try to be more appreciative if I ever came back. I'm such a hypocrite."

Eiri frowned at him, "What?"

Shuichi looked surprised for a moment, "Did I say that out loud?"

"Are your eyes a different color?" Eiri asked finally. Shuichi blinked a little, then his eyes widened.

"Oh, shit," he muttered, "I knew I forgot something. I always forget after shows." He sighed, and looked away, making sure Eiri didn't study them too long. "I have to go," Shuichi said, and walked away. Eiri frowned after him.

The next month was full of shows and practice and silence coming from Shuichi. Eiri got Shuichi to himself at least once a day. Leaves were falling off trees. The autumn air was relaxing and Shuichi often went to walk through the park, purposely avoiding the spot he met Eiri.

One day, Shuichi was walking in the park. He passed a couple of strangers, talking excitedly.

"Next week is Shuichi Shindou's birthday!" said the woman, "I want to go to the party this year!"

The man laughed, "Sounds like fun. He used to be so popular."

"He still is!" insisted the woman, "To think he disappeared for so long and people who don't even know him are still celebrating his birthday! He has to be!" Shuichi growled and kept walking. He didn't want to be reminded of his birthday. Today, Shuichi remembered his contacts, and he was glad he did as Yuki Eiri approached him.

"Hello, Darius," he said casually. Darius ignored him and Yuki fell into step beside him.

"Will you stop it?" Shuichi finally shouted, ceasing in his walk. "I'm not telling you about him! Go away! I hate your silly stalking game!"

Yuki looked at the ground, "To be honest, I wasn't going to ask about Shuichi... directly. I wanted to know... if you would go to one of Shuichi's birthday parties with me." Darius' shock was contained, but Eiri caught the fringes of it.

"Tell me right now, Eiri," Shuichi whispered, "Why do you want me to go with you?"

Eiri looked away, blushing, "I- because I..."

"If you're crushing on me, please tell me," Shuichi whispered, even quieter.

Eiri stared at the ground, "I'll tell you only if you go with me."

"Fine!" Shuichi snapped, "Tell me."

Eiri took a deep breath, "I have fallen for you." Shuichi could have collapsed right there and cried, for several reasons. One: he couldn't escape Yuki no matter who he was. Two: Yuki wanted to be with him, and his old self was happy about that. Three: the new Darius was afraid of Yuki. And he was afraid of Yuki for several reasons once again.

Instead of breaking down, Darius looked him in the eye and turned away. Eiri followed in his wrathful wake. Using wrath to cover happiness and fear was easier than using a blank mask.

"Are you going to tell Shuichi?" Eiri asked quietly.

"Shuichi knows already," Shuichi growled, "Go away. I'm going to your stupid party."

Eiri brightened up a little, "Can you bring Shuichi?" Shuichi froze.

"If you really like me, why do you want him to come?" Shuichi asked.

Eiri shrugged, "I still miss him, even though I love you."

Shuichi turned on his heels to face Eiri, "Don't throw that word around like a toy, Eiri. Do you love me or Shuichi? And if you did love him, would you treat him any different if he came back? Would you treat me with the same disregard?"

Yuki shook his head, "I love Shuichi. But I love you, too. I'm different than I used to be." Shuichi remembered something Hiro had said. "The old Yuki..." Shuichi sighed.

"I'll ask if he wants to come," Shuichi sighed, "Now leave me alone."

After that encounter, Shuichi went to the studio. That didn't help any; everyone there, even his own band, was talking about Shuichi's upcoming birthday. Of course, Devon stayed with Shuichi and tried to distract him from all the talking. He knew who he really was. Or who he once was.

"Figures the whole studio would be talking about it," Shuichi grumbled, "He was their best singer ever. Besides Ryuichi."

Devon sighed, "Can't you at least try to let me distract you? I'm sick of your sulking."

Shuichi looked away, "I'm not sulking." He had the acoustic guitar in hand, strumming to Miracle Sun; something he did when he sulked.

Devon rolled his eyes, "Right. If you're going to be like this, I'm going to leave you alone. I can't cheer you up."

"I don't need to be cheered up," Darius answered, "I just want to sing." Devon frowned at the odd response and Shuichi started humming Miracle Sun. Devon left him to his sulking to talk about the festivities coming up. Darius hit a wrong cord and strummed once rather hard. Tohma, Klyde, and K, who were in his immediate area, looked at him.

"Something wrong?" K asked.

"Yes," Shuichi said, offering nothing more.

Tohma sat next to him, "A penny for your thoughts?" In other words, tell me or K will shoot you.

"I'm pissed," he said, "Shuichi, Shuichi, Shuichi!"

Tohma frowned, "Are you jealous?"

"Jealous!" Shuichi stood, guitar in hand, "Jealous of that wuss!" By now the entire room was looking at him, and Devon was trying to shut him up, but Shuichi would not stop. "Shuichi was a stupid child with stupid dreams! Stupid fantasies of love and hope!" Devon covered his mouth and he continued his muffled rant. Devon dragged him outside.

"Jealous!" Shuichi scoffed, "Who do they think I am? Some punk wanna-be rock star?"

"No!" Devon said, exasperated, "Calm down, Darius! Shuichi used to be a great singer. You're better. Tohma meant that you were jealous of the attention, not his singing."

"Oh," Shuichi said, blinking, "but still. That's not it. Its just... frustrating to hear everything. 'Shuichi was so great!' 'His birthday is next week!' I don't even remember when my birthday is!"

Devon frowned, "Really? Wouldn't you find this amusing? Ironic? No one knows who you are. They're comparing you to yourself. Isn't it funny that Tohma thought you were jealous of yourself? Isn't that amusing in the slightest?"

Shuichi smirked, "I haven't thought about it that way."

Devon snorted, "Obviously. Just don't go in there laughing in Tohma's face."

Shuichi pouted, "Why not?" Devon frowned. He was really not used to this behavior, even if it was nothing compared to how the old Shuichi used to act.

"Because you're Darius now, not Shuichi," he said firmly. Shuichi nodded and put on his expressionless mask. The two headed inside and Shuichi stared out the window with the slightest smirk. Devon went to keep people away from him in case he snapped again.

"Of course," Tohma said, appearing beside Shuichi, "if its okay with Darius, we'd like you to play for Shuichi's party."

Shuichi nodded, "That's fine." I never imagined I'd be the entertainment at my own birthday party. He couldn't hide his smirk. This entire visit is just ironic, isn't it? He chuckled to himself and Tohma gave him a weird look. Shuichi stood, "Let's go, guys. We have a concert, right?"

Cloud bounded up, "Right! I like you better when you talk, Darius!"

Shuichi stared at him, his expression blank, "I don't see why. It just makes me more like everyone else."

Cloud shrugged, "Sometimes being a little normal is okay." Shuichi didn't reply to that, but took his band and left for the concert.

Move one inch at a time.
Don't make shit rhyme.
Would it be easy to repeat the first line?
My mind's not a well;
It won't run dry.
Just keep drinking water and you'll be alright.
This is paralysis with no time at all to let go.

Well don't call me by my full name,
And all this is temporary.
It feels much better to know that you won't feel a thing.
Well don't talk about it;
Write it down but don't ask for help.
I can't be honest with even myself.
Did you ever wish you were somebody else?

Accomplishments are transient.
They pulled me in unremittingly.
Just lasting this long,
I feel relieved to let repetition save me.

Well don't call me by my full name,
And all this is temporary.
It feels much better to know that you won't feel a thing.
Well don't talk about it;
Write it down but don't ask for help.
I can't be honest with even myself.
Did you ever wish you were somebody else?

Move one inch at a time.
You'll be just fine.
Move one inch at a time.
You'll find...
They pulled me in but accomplishments are transient.
They pulled me in but accomplishments are transient.

Well don't call me by my full name,
And all this is temporary.
It feels much better to know that you won't feel a thing.
Well don't talk about it;
Write it down but don't ask for help.
I can't be honest with even myself.
Did you ever wish you were...
Did you ever wish you were...
Did you ever wish you were somebody else?

Shuichi waited for the crowd to finish cheering. "Thanks," he said, smiling widely, "I'm Darius, the singer of Ugly Fortune. You all know those guys. Cloud on drums, Kevin on bass, and Darius on lead guitar. We're also playing for Shuichi next week." He paused, "We don't have a time or place so we'll keep you posted. The song we just played was The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is the Dose. This next one is Holding Someone's Hair Back."

Don't say a word, don't be grateful if I ever made you laugh.
Let's make believe what's at stake here's more than just your reputation.
She's got the photos but no recollection.
He's got the motive but no transportation.
Purely courteous across my chest.
Are you cutting me out now, after crawling inside?

Turn away your head.
What do I deserve, what do I deserve instead?
It's a surprise you haven't caught on yet.
It's nothing personal, you're an embarrassment.
Don't cut me out.

We're offering nothing but the best accommodations.
Just tell us who you are, just tell us who you are.
We're offering nothing but the best accommodations.
Just tell us who you are, just tell us who you are.

Turn away your head.
What do I deserve, what do I deserve instead?
It's a surprise you haven't caught on yet.
It's nothing personal, you're an embarrassment.
Don't cut me out.

It's a surprise you haven't caught on yet.
It's nothing personal, you're an embarrassment.
Don't cut me out.

The crowd cheered and Shuichi smiled again, "That was inspired by an ex of mine." He carefully avoided looking at Yuki who was backstage with his brother again as he said that. The show went smoothly that night.

"What ex inspired that one?" Eiri asked. The two were standing outside again, Shuichi smoking. Eiri had refused to smoke.

"Same person as all the other ones you ask about," Shuichi answered, "Shuichi inspires everything I write, everything I do."

Eiri frowned, "That's odd, considering you don't like him much."

"I like him," Shuichi said, "He's just annoying."

"He isn't," Eiri protested, "There's no way Shuichi is annoying, if you have the right perspective." Shuichi just exhaled a cloud of smoke in answer. Eiri snorted, "If anything, you're the annoying one."

"Then ask Shuichi to go to the party with you," Shuichi said, "Obviously you think he's better than me." Eiri wrinkled his nose.

"But I can't," he said.

Shuichi raised an eyebrow, "You can't?" He didn't hide his smirk this time, "Well I'll see you later, then. I'll be sure to tell Shuichi to come to the party."

Eiri frowned, "You haven't asked yet?"

Shuichi chuckled, "I haven't seen him all day, Eiri. Concert, rehearsal, work..."

Eiri nodded, "Sorry, forgot."

"Oh," Shuichi said, just before he left, "and stop texting him. Its bad for him. He can't sleep."

Eiri nodded again, "Sorry." Then Shuichi left, trying desperately not to laugh. Devon saw the mirth in his eyes and smiled widely. Finally, Darius was opening up. Two years is a long time to only talk to insult your producer. By the way...

"Darius," Devon stopped Shuichi, "Kaya is here, waiting outside." The mirth fell out of his face and was left with a blank mask. With a growl, he turned to the door he had just come from. There was Yuki still standing, and then there was Kaya. Blue eyes, blond hair. And she was Japanese. She was staring intently at Eiri.

"Kaya," Shuichi hissed, "Why are you here? Klyde said your flight-"

She waved her hand, "I took an earlier flight."

Shuichi snorted, "A month late. What took so long?"

She shrugged, "I had business to take care of. It seems you've found your bane."

Shuichi nodded, "Bane and stalker."

Eiri frowned, "Are you talking about me?"

Shuichi turned and raised an eyebrow at him, "No, we're talking about the magic flying unicorn over there. Kaya," Shuichi murmured, "We need to go. And to talk."

She raised an eyebrow, "The famous Darius wants to speak. Interesting." He glared at her. She put her hands up to indicate innocence and they stepped into Shuichi's Mercedes. As soon as the door was closed, Shuichi was his old self, babbling, crying, and laughing. Poor Kaya was reminded of herself. Unlike Shuichi, she only changed her attitude, not suppressed her feelings completely. So in essence, she had reformed her love for Yuki to love for another man. Shuichi had only ignored his feelings. He was still Shuichi. Only it hurt to be himself.

"You got into a little mess," Kaya frowned, "So why are you crying? Pull yourself together. Go to the party, sing, tell Yuki you hate him and Shuichi couldn't come. Then leave for America again." By now, Shuichi was staring out the window, looking like Darius.

He nodded, "That's the sound thing to do. The smart thing if I want to keep this up... but Ayaka, what if I don't want to keep this up?"

She sighed, "Unlike you, I legally changed my name. Call me Kaya. Look, Shuichi, its up to you. Darius is a mask. Ignore him. You're the one in control, not the mask."

Shuichi nodded, "Okay. But... Kaya, I don't want to keep doing this. But I'm too afraid to go through with my plan."

She frowned, "You have a plan already?"

He nodded, "Yes. But Kaya... I'm afraid. What should I do?"

"The best way to overcome your fears," she said wisely, "is to face them."

He sighed and looked out the window, "Great. I don't even know when my birthday is anymore."

She chuckled, "Tuesday, Shuichi."

"Don't call me that!" Shuichi insisted, pouting a little, "I'm Darius."

"That pout says differently," she smirked. He sighed and looked out the window. It was going to be a long weekend.

"Don't come in!" Shuichi yelled through the door, "I'm taking a shower, damn it, Cloud!" Cloud stepped in the shower with him, completely naked.

"Please," Cloud pouted, "we haven't played together since we got here."

Shuichi blocked him from completely walking in, "Play with yourself." Cloud sighed, and walked away to go sulk. Shuichi shook his head and rinsed the shampoo out of his hair. He stepped out of the shower and looked at his pink roots showing more vividly. He frowned and went back in the shower to wash his hair one more time. Today was his birthday. He wanted to look like himself, at least a little.

Eventually, most of the black dye was out. He cut his hair shorter, like it used to be. He left his contact lenses on the counter on purpose and got dressed in the bathroom, putting in his piercings and putting on dark clothes. He stepped out of the room with a black hat on. No one seemed to really notice.

"Are we ready for this thing?" Kevin asked.

Shuichi shook his head, "Today, everyone is wearing anything they want to." They all stared at him for a long moment.

Cloud started wailing, "Darius died! He died!" He gently kicked Cloud in the back of the knee.

"No. I want everyone to wear whatever they want to this show," he said, "I'm Darius. I'm alive."

Cloud sniffed, "But I want to wear what I usually wear."

Shuichi shrugged, "Then wear it. I don't give a shit. I'm giving you a choice for once. Use the opportunity." Kevin began stripping out of his dark clothing right in front of them. So did Devon. Hesitantly, Cloud did the same. They all wore their regular clothes. Devon wore tiedye. Cloud wore baggy hand-me downs. Kevin wore blue jeans and a white tee. Kevin didn't really have a style that he stuck to, did he?

"Let's roll out," Shuichi yawned. Everyone stared at him for the rather human-like motion. He frowned, "What is with you guys?"

"Cloud might be right," Kevin said, "Who are you and what did you do with Darius?"

Devon touched Shuichi's forehead, checking his temperature, "Are you alright, Darius?"

Shuichi pulled away from him, "My fucking God! The moment I show a speck of humanity, everyone stares at me! I yawned! I gave you a choice! Big whoop! Go! Leave before I cancel this show and make you all sleep outside in the cold!" Cloud flinched and followed Devon and Kevin out to the limo.

Cloud smiled as Shuichi got in, "I like it that you got mad. You seem like a person now."

Shuichi rolled his eyes, "Shut up, Cloud." Cloud obeyed. The limo stopped at the place the party was being held at. The band members all left the car and went inside. "Go mingle or something," Shuichi waved them off, "We're not playing until nine." It was eight. They had an hour.

Eiri found the grumpy singer soon enough, "Hey, Darius. Is Shuichi here?"

Shuichi looked Eiri up and down, "He's coming. He's probably going to be late." Eiri was looking yummy with a navy blue button down shirt and black jeans.

"Checking me out?" Eiri asked with a smirk.

"Yes," he answered bluntly, "Why did you want me to come?"

Eiri shrugged, "I figured it could be like a date."

"I'm hungry," Shuichi said, feeling nervous, but hiding it well. The two sat down at a table and some food was served. They ate in silence.

"Take off your hat," Eiri said, "Its rude to have it on inside."

"I don't give a flying fuck," Shuichi shot back. Eiri frowned.

"You're being rather emotional tonight," Eiri commented, "Angry. Irritated. Are you nervous?"

Shuichi shrugged, "Yeah, because its such a big deal every time I have a fucking emotion. I'm human too." Eiri nodded. Darius was really irritated. Whether it was caused by being nervous or something happened before he got there, Yuki didn't want to push his buttons. Kaya touched his shoulder. Shuichi looked up at her.

"Hey, Kaya," he said, "What is it?"

"Are you ready?" she asked.

He sighed, "As ready as I'm going to be. I'm busy."

She chuckled, "You're busy making your boyfriend awkward. I figured I could interrupt."

"On the contrary," Shuichi frowned, "I was the one feeling awkward."

She laughed enchantingly, "Oh, my, Darius! Feeling awkward!" He growled and violently stuffed his face with food. Kaya walked away laughing.

"Bitch!" Shuichi shouted after he swallowed his food. Eiri chuckled. Shuichi chucked a dumpling at him. Eiri dodged, eyes wide. He stared at Shuichi. Shuichi just kept on eating. He knew this night was going to be slow... really slow.

Not soon enough for Shuichi, nine o'clock approached and he was standing on a slightly raised platform, setting up the equipment.

Kevin chuckled, "I can't remember the last time we played in such an unprofessional setting."

Devon nodded, "True that." Within minutes, they were ready to play.

"And that was No Hardcore Dancing in the Living Room," Shuichi said, "Here's another new song I wrote. Its called Right Side of the Bed."

Come on!

I can see her now! Dancing 'round, her drink in hand

All her baggage in tow, I just want to forget and let go of all the joy,

the pain. I took your guilt and placed it into me and now I kiss it goodbye.

Our last dance ended fatally.

Who's sleeping on my side of the bed tonight?

Have you ever cried so hard? Baby, you just died (You just died)

Who's sleeping on my side of the bed tonight?

Have you ever cried so hard? Have you ever cried so hard?

There she goes again

Another masquerade in false circumstance

She'll fuck you just for the taste.

I just wish that I could replace all the memories of what makes me blood run cold.

As your blood runs through me, I say goodbye to what we had.

Who's sleeping on my side of the bed tonight?

Have you ever cried so hard? Baby, you just died (You just died)

Who's sleeping on my side of the bed tonight?

Have you ever cried so hard? Have you ever cried so hard?

She came and went, I gnawed through my lip,

Makeup smeared in her eyes.

Each sob is a reason to say goodbye.

Sometimes when you're holding on, you'll never see the light.

With flowers in her hair,

Gazed upon with dead lovers eyes.

She never looked so good

and I never felt so right

With flowers in her hair,

Gazed upon with dead lovers eyes.

She never looked so good,

and I never felt so right.

Never felt so right.

Never felt so wrong!

With flowers in her hair,

Gazed upon with dead lovers eyes

She never looked so good

and I never felt so right.

Who's sleeping on my side of the bed tonight?

Have you ever cried so hard? Baby, you just died (You just died)

Who's sleeping on my side of the bed tonight?

Have you ever cried so hard? Have you ever cried so hard?

You just died!

The people in the room clapped politely. Shuichi nodded and smiled dashingly at everyone. Instead of introducing a new song, Shuichi spoke into the mike, "Alright, that's a new song. I hope you liked it. I'm going to forget my band for a while," he waved for them to get off stage, "and invite some other people up. Hiro and Suguru, would you please?" The confused musicians stepped on stage. "Sorry to keep everyone out of the loop. Hiro, just use Devon's guitar. Suguru, I had someone bring your keyboard. Alright. Here's an old one. Let's hope we all remember it. Let's go, guys." He whispered to Hiro and Hiro told Suguru.

Everyone's eyes in the room popped wide open like Hiro's did when he heard. Hiro continued playing the guitar perfectly and Suguru the same. Shuichi sang just like he used to, as he sang his first hit; Rage Beat. The crowd cheered, and everyone who knew Shuichi personally was feeling nostalgic or suspicious. In the middle of the song, Shuichi pulled off his hat, revealing pink hair. The crowd stopped and stared. Eiri was about to cry. His Shuichi. His Shuichi.

The song ended to welcome silence. Devon couldn't believe his eyes.

"Well," he said, blushing, "Let me start with saying I've missed Japan." There was a shout from the crowd. Everyone looked at Cloud.

"Hi Shuichi!" he yelled, "Now can you tell us where Darius is?" The crowd laughed uneasily.

Shuichi cleared his throat, "I'm not going to tell anyone what happened or why I left. I left, went to America as a new person, and started a new band. I came here on tour. My name is now Darius, as most of you know. It was never legally changed, so I don't really care which you call me by. I am Darius, Cloud. Darius and Shuichi Shindou are the same person. Now who wants to hear another song?" The crowd cheered and the next song started up.

By the end of the show, a new band had formed. Devon knew how to play all different kinds of instruments, so he always played the odd one, like the trumpet or flute. He wasn't always needed, but always welcome to play. Hiro was the guitarist, Kevin bass, Suguru keyboard, and Cloud drums. Of course, Devon also sang background vocals with Shuichi.

"Good night, ladies and gentlemen," Shuichi said into the mike. The group stepped down from the stage and surprisingly, there was press everywhere. Shuichi just shoved them aside to find his beloved. Yuki was still sitting where Shuichi had left him, tears flowing down his face now, paparazzi surrounding him. He stood when Shuichi approached.

"Shu," he whispered and pulled him into a tight embrace. Shuichi helped him through the crowd and press. When they got outside, Yuki stared unbelievingly at his ex. "You're not real. I'm dreaming."

Shuichi chuckled, "I wish. That was so embarrassing." He pulled Yuki into the front seat of his Mercedes, which he had Kaya drive there. He got into the driver's seat and stepped on the gas. Yuki grabbed his seat, eyes wide. Shuichi was going faster than Yuki used to go. That was fucking fast.

"What?" Shuichi asked with a smirk.

Yuki shook his head, "You picked up a lot of bad habits." Shuichi chuckled and pressed harder on the gas. Yuki looked like a lost bunny. Shuichi frowned, realizing he was being mean. He slowed down to the speed limit. Eiri gave him a grateful glance.

"Don't get used to it," Shuichi mumbled, "I haven't driven so slow in... since... in two years."

Yuki sighed and relaxed a little, "Sorry to do that to you."

Shuichi smirked, "Yeah." He hesitated before asking, "You would have forgotten me."

Eiri frowned at his ex, "What?"

"If Darius wasn't me," Shuichi whispered, "You would have forgotten me and fallen in love with him." His knuckles turned white on the wheel and he pressed just a little more on the gas.

"Darius wouldn't have existed if he wasn't you," Eiri countered. Shuichi sighed and was about to space out when he remembered he was driving. He didn't want to have this conversation. He knew what Eiri was going to say before the thought finished processing in his brain.

"Shuichi," Eiri said slowly, carefully, "I want to know something. Why did you leave?"

Shuichi growled, "I knew it. How about every time something happens that I don't like, I get to drive a little faster?"

"Fine," Eiri whispered, his voice weak. Shuichi pressed a little harder on the gas.

"I left because of you," he whispered.

Eiri rolled his eyes, "Elaborate." Shuichi went a little faster.

"You were ignoring me," Shuichi said, harshness dripping from his voice, "I figured you'd be better off without me bothering you. I figured I'd be better off without the abuse."

Eiri objected, "I wasn't abusing you!"

Shuichi nearly slammed on the gas. "You weren't abusing me?" he shouted, exasperatedly, "Psychologists say that negative attention is better than no attention at all! I would rather you have been an abusive drunkard than what you were!" Realizing he was going a little too fast, even for his own comfort, and a little too loud, Shuichi slowed down to the speed limit again. He lowered his voice, "I was being ignored, Eiri. I didn't appreciate it. I walked away from my problems."

Yuki was quiet again before saying, "Who is Kaya? She seemed to know me."

Shuichi relaxed a little, "Ayaka. Your ex fiancée. We had so much in common... She hated me for leaving you, but decided coming along with me was a good idea. She keeps an online relationship with Hiro. He doesn't know she's here."

Yuki shook his head, "I don't buy it. What made you snap? Why that moment?" Shuichi glared at the road and the car went a little faster.

"I told you my mother had cancer," Shuichi hissed, "and you said 'so what?' You forgot that my dad died recently as well. I needed support. I wanted to support my sister, too. When she came over you acted as if nothing had happened and kicked her out within five minutes of her being there. Within those five minutes that you had yet to greet her, she told me she had AIDS. When she was gone and I told you, you said 'it figures, she's a whore anyway' when she'd only had one sexual relationship in her life.

"That's still not what made me snap," Shuichi went on, with every sentence going a little faster, "They day I snapped was when I came home from my mother's funeral and you laughed at me for going, when I explained to you before was not for me or my mother or respect; I wanted to see how my sister was doing because you never let her in again. I suppose you don't remember any of that." Eiri listened in silence. When Shuichi was done, he turned to look at Shuichi. But Shuichi wasn't there. It was Darius. His expression was blank and the car was going so fast, Eiri was frightened the speedometer might break.

"Calm down," Eiri whispered, "I do remember, Shu. I'm sorry. I talked to your sister after you disappeared and she forgave me. Won't you?" Shuichi slowed the car down again and got stuck in traffic.

Shuichi sighed, "On top of that, I was convinced I was bad for you, ever since you went to the hospital for throwing up blood. My plan was perfect. Sound." He pulled out a cigarette and rolled down the window.

"Except?" Eiri prodded.

Shuichi exhaled a cloud of smoke, "Except I still loved you. So I became like you in the way that I was an ass and I didn't stay close to anyone. And I picked up bad habits. Started cursing. Smoking. Driving fast. Tried drugs and alcohol. I met Cloud while jumping off a plane, trying to kill myself. He laughed at me and handed me a parachute just before I jumped. He held my hand and jumped with me. All the adrenaline afterwards, our relationship became sexual in about five minutes after landing."

"What about Devon?" Yuki asked, "He seems a little protective of you."

Shuichi shrugged, "An audition, naturally. I had a singer, a drummer, and a bassist."

"Kevin and Klyde?" Eiri asked. Asking these questions seemed to calm Shu.

"Klyde held a door open for me in the building for the company who now sponsors me, kind of like NG over here," Shu sighed, "Ten minutes after leaving the same day, Kevin ran me over with a bike while chasing the mail-woman." Eiri chuckled. Shu laughed with him and rolled out of traffic, "Both guys thought I was a girl, which is why Klyde held the door open and why Kevin stopped and helped me up and to the hospital. I was fine after a while, but Kevin was disappointed. Then I offered him a lot of women if he played for my band."

Yuki sighed, "Your life changed so much. You must have changed too."

Shuichi shrugged and pulled up in front of Yuki's apartment, "Get some sleep."

"You aren't coming with me?" Eiri asked. Shu watched him for a while before sighing, parking his expensive car and walking with Eiri up to his apartment.

"What about you?" Shu asked, "What did you do in two years?"

He shrugged, "Stopped smoking. Wrote some more books. Looked for you. Did you know your sister died?"

Shu nodded, "It was in the news." They were quiet for a while. Eiri opened the door to his apartment and they walked in. Shu inhaled deeply. He loved the way Eiri's apartment smelled. It didn't look any different either. Eiri ordered pizza and they sat rather awkwardly in his living room.

"Does this mean we're..." Eiri gulped and looked at the ground.

Shuichi sighed, "I don't know. I need some more time to think. I have no reason to take you back."

Eiri looked up at him hopefully, "Shu, you don't mean that. You love me. You want to come back to me."

"No," Shuichi said, his eyes narrowing, "I don't know what I want. Shuichi wants to jump in your arms and laugh and cry. Darius wants to beat the shit out of you and defile you in any way possible, then kill you in the most painful way possible, and then dump the body in-"

"You can stop there," Eiri sighed, "I don't need to know the rest."

Shuichi smirked, "I thought so. Eiri. I love you. But after what you put me through..." He fell to his knees, looking defeated, "I want someone to hold me again. I want to be kissed with love, not just lust. While you didn't give me much, and you didn't give it often, you did show me you love me. Its okay if you can't say it."

"So what's the problem?" Eiri whispered.

Shuichi sighed, "I told myself I hated you for so long. I lied to myself. I just... can't get those thoughts out of my head. They still scream anger and hatred. I want them to go away, but they won't, even when I give in to them."

Eiri smirked and kneeled beside him, "Then fight back." He held out his hand to help Shuichi up. With a similar smirk, Shuichi took his soul mate's hand.