Chapter 22 y'all! Oh my gosh! Thank you everyone who left really nice reviews! They made my life like nothing else. And I'm like on a roll! It's not even three weeks since I last updated! Go me! Um, so enough about that. I just want to say how awesome you guys are for supporting this story through your favoriting and alerts and reviews and I just want to give you all hugs. So without further adieu, Chapter 22.

Natori walked toward his trailer. When Endo spotted him, the director immediately came over and began to run his mouth about something or other. Being on time was one of them apparently. Natori stopped and let Endo run his mouth. It was best to let the director vent on him instead of someone else. Someone with blonde hair and gold eyes that insisted on bringing his over-weight cat everywhere for example.

Natori only half-listened to what Endo had to say. He nodded in all the right places and hummed affirmatively where it was appropriate all the while keeping his perfectly real-looking smile on his face. Nothing was wrong. He's been called worse than "annoying." He'd had past girlfriends (and boyfriends) call him a "manipulative snake." He really couldn't imagine how all of them had come up with that term. When he was younger he used to think that everyone was conspiring against him. He wasn't entirely convinced that it wasn't the case even now.

So something little like "annoying" shouldn't hurt at all. At least nothing this bad…

"I need you to get up on that stage and-"

Endo was cut off by a high-pitched squeal. It was coming from the direction of Natsume's trailer. Natori found himself sprinting to Natsume's trailer for the second time that day.

When he got there and opened the door, he looked around frantically and said, "What happened? Is everything all right?"

He didn't immediately find anything life-threatening. However he was met with the surprised gaze of Natsume's stylist and the shocked almost embarrassed gaze of Natsume sitting down on a chair. Natsume seemed to be getting redder before his very eyes. He also vaguely registered that Natsume had a change his hairdo but the adrenaline coursing through his veins made his mind more focused on danger and protecting Natsume.

He leapt toward Natsume and got down on his knees to get a better look at him. "Did something happen? What was that yell? There was a scream and- what happened?"

Natori scanned Natsume's face, chest, arms, legs and then back up again to see if there were any visible cuts or bite marks or anything else. He didn't find anything. Was it more of a psychological beating? That was even worse. Crap. But he couldn't help unless he knew what had happened. So he asked again this time looking in Natsume's eyes. He made sure that Natsume knew he was not kidding.

Natsume just seemed to bristle. But not in an angry way. More of an embarrassed way. His face steadily grew redder if that was even possible and he shifted in his seat.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. He whirled around to see Mimi smiling at him. Strange. Not the fact that the smile or the act of smiling was strange but Natori couldn't remember if Mimi had smiled at him before. It was a warm and familiar smile. Natori didn't know if it was a smile that fit the current situation. Natsume was hurt and this woman was smiling.

"No one was hurt, Natori-san. Nothing happened. I just… um, I saw a spider. I'm deathly afraid of them, you know. It's really nothing to worry about."

"Oh…" Natori said. There was nothing more to say really. He felt a little silly. Actually more than a little silly. Jumping to conclusions like that.

He got up from his kneeling position slowly and looked at Natsume who was having a meaningful staring contest with Mimi.

He was smiling. A true genuine smile that Natori's afraid he's gotten too used to seeing since they started working together. And it still warmed his heart to see it. At least he knew now that everything was okay thanks to that smile. His own lips twitched upwards in an almost smile.

"Well," Natori said as he stood up awkwardly, his seemingly dramatic worry for Natsume now moot. "I'll be, uh, I'll be in my trailer and… if, um, anything happens-really happens- then I'll be there… in my trailer. So, I'll go."

Mimi was giving him the strangest smile he'd ever seen on a woman and Natsume continued to sit there and he even giggled a little.

Before he was out the door, he heard Natsume say, "Thank you, Natori-san. Do your best today on stage."

It was a completely sincere statement. It wasn't patronizing or sarcastic in anyway. He didn't even think that Natsume had a sarcastic bone in his body… well, that wasn't true. Natsume did like to tease and joke sometimes but he would never joke about someone's honest feelings or if someone made a genuine attempt to protect and was baring his heart in the process. It wasn't in Natsume's nature. He was too good of a person for that. He's just too good a person in general.

If their positions had been switched, Natori would've teased him for days. Natsume would never have lived it down. On the inside, Natori would've felt extremely flattered but the only way he was capable of showing it would be to bring it up in the most annoyingly patronizing tones.

Natori would actually like to retract and amend his previous statement. Natsume is actually too good for Natori.

Natori just turned and gave him a nod and a smile while walking out of the door.

He scrubbed a hand across his face. No wonder he thinks I'm annoying, he thought. Can't leave him alone for a minute and I tut and coo around him like a mother hen.

He walked to his trailer where his stylist was waiting for him. She impatiently tapped her foot and gestured to a chair so she could get to work on his hair and makeup.

Faintly, he heard Yukiko on the rampage. He rolled his eyes and got a sharp reprimand from his stylist for moving.

Hopefully, she won't make good on her threat to leave until after we finish these last few scenes, he thought.


As soon as Natori left Natsume's trailer, Mimi and Natsume were giggling like a couple of mad school girls.

"Was that reaction really necessary?" Natsume asked Mimi between laughs.

Mimi shook her head. "I'm sorry, Natsume-kun," she said. "But I was just so happy to hear that you love him. That I was right. I think that the dynamic between you two is extremely romantic. I think it's important for people to establish a firm friendship in order for a romantic relationship to work. I think you two have that."

Natsume shook his head blushing all the way down his neck. "Thanks, Mimi, but there's no way Natori-san would ever think about me like that. It's one thing to be close friends or even have a… brotherly relationship, I guess. But to want… a romantic relationship is something else entirely. I mean, they're different. Those two types of relationships. And Natori's the type of person who would go after what he wants. If he wanted that kind of relationship from me, he would've said something by now…"

Natsume said the last part with a slight tilt of his head, like the idea was almost just sad enough to warrant a bow of the head. He'd actually only just thought of it now. If Mimi hadn't said anything, Natsume would've never even considered what Natori would do if he did have feelings for him. But he was probably thinking about it too much. It wouldn't happen.

Mimi nodded. "Well," she said, "he certainly has affection for you. All you really need is a good heaping pile of passion and then you two wouldn't be able to get your hands off of each other."

Natsume covered his face with his hands. "Mimi, please!" he said almost as a lament because the words "you two wouldn't be able to get your hands off of each other," gave Natsume the pleasant but unwelcome mental image of the two of them tangled together in an intimate embrace. Natsume's hands would inevitably be in Natori's hair and maybe Natori would be running his hands along his back and- Nope. Nopenopenopenopenope. Not going to entertain those thoughts.

Mimi meanwhile was giggling.


Momoka didn't know what to do. Her very special super secret mission that was supposed to have been fool proof had been a failure.

Natsume was supposed to have told his older female friend about his feelings and Natori would have heard about it. Then once he realized that they were both being silly and denying their feelings for each other, he would've rushed through the door and grabbed Natsume and engaged in public displays of affection, like the ones the humans call "a hot steamy make-out."

However the plan completely back-fired. Now Momoka knew that Natsume could harbor secret feelings for Natori and think that he was annoying. Momoka knew that human's feelings were complicated and that there were more layers to human emotion than just one. But it seemed Natori either didn't know that or chose to ignore that fact to support his flawed reasoning.

Momoka had a hard time trying to understand why Natori was trying so hard to convince himself that Natsume did not return his feelings when he had massive amounts of evidence to the contrary. The holding hands, the hugging, the looks.

Wasn't it human nature to look for happiness? Why wasn't Natori looking for what would make him happy? Why wouldn't he accept the idea of something that would make him happy? Instead he was trying to cling to this idea that to anyone else would've been undesirable. Who would try to convince themselves that someone they have feelings for doesn't feel the same?

Momoka thought that she was a pretty well-versed youkai, especially in terms of human emotions. But she didn't understand.

Maybe he just didn't quite understand yet and Natori didn't want to get his hopes up too high. Natsume is after all very important to him. Maybe all Natori needed was more convincing.

Convinced that this was the most logical solution, Momoka nodded to herself and began to once again patrol the set, looking for any opportune moment where she could get the two of them to understand what one meant to the other.


Everyone on set seemed to be abuzz with chatter and laughter. Everyone just seemed to be in a really good mood despite the bags under their eyes and the slight slump to some of their shoulders.

When Natsume got on set he was immediately greeted by Miyu.

"Takashi-kun, have you heard?"


"We're almost done!"

Natsume had to stop and process that for a minute. "How close are we to being done?"

Miyu linked her arm around his and was leading him to the dance floor where the other extras were practicing and talked as they walked.

"Well, we still have to shoot this scene where Natori-san's character has to make his big dramatic entrance to confess his love to Yukiko's character. He's going to brave all of the yakuza around and sing a love song that will move everyone's hearts. Then Yukiko's character is going to see the errors of her ways and she's going to decide that she can't possibly live without the love of her life. So then-"

After that Miyu launched into a terribly complicated version of the remaining scenes they have to shoot complete with character analysis and everything from the camera angles to the music that will be playing in the background once the mixing and ADR is done. But from what Natsume could glean from Mimi's chatter was that they had four scenes left to shoot.

This scene, the next scene where Yukiko's character confronts her father, the scene after that where her father tells the rest of the yakuza not to chase after the lovebirds anymore because he has come to realize the love that the two share and the last scene, where the two lovebirds run into each other's arms and kiss. And then that would be what they call a wrap.

Natsume wasn't looking forward to that last scene. He supposed he didn't have to watch but he wanted to support Natori even if he was just standing on the sidelines.

And since Miyu didn't say anything about stunts, he guessed that he didn't need to dress up as Yukiko anymore which was a relief.

Amid his other thoughts, there was a prominent feeling of sadness. This whole experience had been a whirlwind of emotion, sure, but there was a lot that he'd learned too. He met so many wonderful people and it made him kind of sad that he might not be able to see them again after they finish. But he supposed that he could dwell on those melancholy thoughts when they actually do finish. He thinks it'll probably take at least two more days to shoot the rest. He'll have to let the Fujiwaras know that he'll be… he'll be home soon.

But he was pulled out of his musings when they suddenly stopped walking. Miyu positioned herself in front of Natsume and rested one hand on his shoulder and then held the other one out as if waiting for him to take it. She looked up at him and raised an eyebrow expectantly.

He just smiled and took her hand and they began to practice their dancing.

"So…" Miyu said after awhile. "You… you didn't tell anyone, right?"

Natsume shook his head. "No, I didn't. Just like I promised."

Miyu nodded her head. Then after a pause she said, "I didn't tell anyone either… you know… about your… um, about what you said yesterday."

Natsume smiled. He knew she wouldn't have but it's nice to hear that Miyu could keep a secret. He didn't like to admit it but he had been worried. Miyu did love to talk.

"Do… do you think you're going to do anything about it?" Miyu asked.

Natsume blushed. "I… uh, probably not."


Miyu looked a little lost after his answer like she had been expecting Natsume to say something different. Something that she could do too. Maybe she thought that Natsume would have said that he'd tell the object of his affections exactly how he felt about them. Then maybe she could've drawn encouragement from that and that maybe she could do the same. She could go up to her crush and not be afraid of her feelings and that maybe everything would turn out okay.

But Natsume didn't know if things could turn out okay. For him and maybe for Miyu. But he didn't want Miyu to give up just because Natsume didn't think the best option entailed telling your crush your feelings. Miyu should be able to speak her mind because… well, she did little else.

"But… I think you should. I think you should tell her because what have you got to lose?"

Miyu looked up at him and put on an indignant pout. "What do I have to lose? Well my dignity for one thing. And what if she tells me I'm disgusting. I don't know how I would deal with that…"

Natsume didn't really know how to respond to that. He wasn't the best person to talk to about relationships. But something deep inside Natsume was telling him it was wrong to hide. That it was wrong to put down other people for their feelings just because… they felt them. It's okay to love someone. It's even okay to not love someone back because you can't help it. But ridiculing someone for their feelings is just wrong.

He had half a mind to tell Miyu this and almost did. But just as he was taking a breath, Endo walked up on stage.

"In a few minutes we'll be starting to shoot everyone. And all you extras need to do is dance until Natori starts singing and then stop and turn to look at him and just pretend that we're all really surprised to see him. Then he'll start to sing and you will all have a happy dreamy look in your eyes. It'll be romantic and feel free to give your partner meaningful looks of love and all that crap. Nothing too hackneyed or anything just… do it. Subtlety. Alright?"

Everyone sounded in the affirmative.

"Good. All right. Places, everybody."

Natsume and Miyu resumed their dancing. Natsume couldn't keep his heartbeat low. Natori was going to sing for everyone and he couldn't wait to hear it. Those few notes that he caught on the way out of his shower were nice. Natori probably had a very good stage presence and he probably sang with a lot of feeling.

When Endo yelled "Action!" Natori took his cue and picked his way through the crowd. Natsume could tell because some of the extras were shifting to let him through. Natsume could even see him from where he was standing.

Natsume was once again overcome with awe as he watched Natori work. Everything that was Natori had been stripped away and in its place there was only his character. Rin was picking his way through the crowd with a determination that could've been similar to Moses' determination as he parted the Red Sea. Rin needed to get to that stage so he could tell the woman he loved that he'd brave the lion's den to be with her.

Soon he was able to climb up on stage just as the live entertainment was going to strike up a song. There were a few beats of confusion on Rin's part as he struggled with what to do but then a smile appeared on his face. The music started and he locked eyes with where Yukiko would be in the crowd and gave her an exceedingly attractive grin. Natsume wouldn't admit it if anyone asked him but he felt a tiny bit jealous that the grin wasn't directed at him. But he comforted himself with the knowledge that Natori was playing a part and really didn't mean it.

When the intro was through playing, Natori opened his mouth and sung. Clear, crisp and beautiful notes flew from Natori's mouth.

The song started off slow. Natsume could hear Miyu's words in his head. "It's perfect for this scene because it reflects the hesitance on both parts in regards to the relationship. Rin knows what he wants but he's not sure what Kyoko wants. But as the song progresses he becomes surer of himself and that in terms makes Kyoko surer of herself and it's just incredibly romantic."

The song throughout had a mellow tone, nothing too urgent. But the way Natori sang made it seem like this song was the world. A world that the character had built just for him and Kyoko where they could live happily and where no one could bother them. If only it's message could be understood then everything would be better. If only the one who was supposed to receive the message of the song were to finally understand. If only they could accept what was being said to them. Then there could be a happily ever after.

But while all of those other thoughts were swirling inside his head there was also the most prominent one. Natori was a damn good singer. Natsume didn't know why but sometimes when Natori would hit that higher note just right or hold a note in a perfect belt, it made him weak in the knees just a little bit.

It was beautiful what he could do with his voice. It was just… beautiful.

And then the song ended. Natori with the guise of his character slumped his shoulders and opened his arms in a helpless shrug as he looked at Yukiko. He had the stupidest grin on his face.

"Cut! Beautiful," Endo said.

The whole ballroom erupted into thunderous applause. Even Natsume had to clap. Miyu clapped and threw in a couple of wolf whistles for good measure.

Natori looked up and around and waved giving everyone a gracious smile. Then he caught Natsume's eyes. There was something in his eyes. Something like uncertainty. Natsume couldn't fathom what it was doing there particularly after such a beautiful performance. So Natsume gave him his best reassuring smile as he kept clapping.

Natori's eyes ripped from his when Endo patted him on the back with a big smile of his own.

"Good job, Natori! Alright let's take it one more time. Everyone reset. Let's do it again!"

So they did it again. A few more times in fact. Each time Natori did a little something or other differently. But nothing beyond that changed. The level of performance was still just as masterful as it was the first time. And each time Natsume felt his heartbeat increase just a tiny bit more and his knees go a little bit weaker when Natori started to sing again.

And it probably had shown on his face too because a few times he would catch Miyu staring at him. The first time she was staring at him with a gob smacked look. She would stare at him and then stare at Natori. The next time she gave him a questioning look as if she was asking, "Really? Him?" Natsume just gave her a little shrug and smiled. The last time he caught her staring at him she was smiling too. And all he could do was smile back as they let Natori's singing wash over them.

It was such a beautiful sound.

After they had done the scene a few more times, Endo was finally pleased with all of their takes. In fact he was so pleased that he found it in his heart to give them all an hour break for lunch.

As soon as everyone was leaving and going the very few different ways that they could go, Natsume disentangled himself from Miyu and went to meet Natori.

Natori was making his way off of the stage and when he caught sight of Natsume… there was that uncertainty again.

At the moment, Natsume thought that it may have something to do with his performance. Like he wasn't sure if it was good or not. It was only much much later that it occurred to him that Natori was exceedingly confident in all areas of performance to the point some people may have described it as cocky.

But that idea didn't occur until well after the project was over.

So thinking that it had to do with some insecurity, Natsume went up to him and said, "That was really something."

Natori blinked as if he were surprised by the compliment. "Yeah?" he asked.

There was still a trace of that uncertainty which Natsume didn't like to see there at all. Natori should always be confident because that's who Natori is.

"Yep," Natsume answered. Then he put a little grin on his face and said, "It was almost as good as that time you were singing 'moo.'"

There was a moment where Natori looked confused. Natsume was afraid that he'd just failed terribly at making a joke and was promptly going to cover his face with his hands and never show his face around Natori again. But then clarity shown through Natori's eyes and he got the joke. A smile spread across his face and all of that uncertainty was gone. Natori even let out a low chuckle.

"Well that's quite a compliment. I don't know how I'll ever top that performance," Natori said. He had the biggest grin that Natsume had ever seen on him.

"I don't think you can," was Natsume's reply.

So I hope this wasn't too boring for you guys. It'll get a lot more interesting this next chapter I promise! I just had to set up a few things first. Anyway thanks for reading and if you're so inclined leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts. *kisses*