Hikaru had always hated Tuesdays.
Not only were they right after Monday, but they were always so incredibly boring. Nothing excited ever happened on Tuesday.
Ironic how the one time a Tuesday was in any way exciting, was one of the worst.
"Ohmanohmanohmanohmanohman-" Aoi was pacing around the penthouse, phoning three different people at a time, panicking, yelling, and panicking some more. She had seen the video, and according to the view count, so had at least one million other people. The video was already being aired on a few pop news shows, but seemed to not have much of an effect otherwise.
Here was an incriminating video of him being accused of something illegal, and it seemed like no one cared. Well, not necessarily. They cared, whether it was people who hated him making a few snide remarks, or his fans standing up for him and defending him (idiots), but overall, it was as though this kind of behavior was expected from him, which bugged him.
Aoi got off the phone, letting out a deep breath. "Okay," she whispered, seeming to try and calm herself more than Hikaru, "Everything's fine, everything's going to be fine. We have the talk show today, there's no concrete evidence, and no one else important is bad-mouthing you. Okay, we can work with this."
Hikaru was tempted to ask Aoi about his concern, but he decided against it. There was no way he was going to start sharing personal stuff with anyone, least of all his personal assistant. He didn't say a word as the two were guided into the limo by guards, a few journalists trying to ask Hikaru some questions. Aoi noticed his silence, and as they drove along she asked, "Are you all right? You're really quiet."
Her look of genuine concern made Hikaru cringe. "Ew, what's with that weird face?"
"Why you-" Her face was beginning to turn red from annoyance, and Hikaru laughed. Aoi crossed her arms, turning away from the ginger and muttering, "Seriously, what I get for being polite…"
This is bad, Hikaru thought, practically seeing the cracks in the walls he had built up his entire life, This is very, very bad.
"Hey, hi, hello to Renge's Rice Corner! I'm your ever energetic hostess, Renge Houshakuji!"
The studio audience roared with applause, and Renge smiled from her seat on her signature white chair. Her light brown hair was in a high bun, her clothes were trendy as ever, and her brown eyes were large and cheerful. Hikaru hated having to deal with these talk-show hosts. Their happy-go-lucky, can-do attitudes made him want to barf. His face didn't give away his real opinions, though, as a pleasant smile rested on his lips and he sat comfortably on the white love-seat.
"Now, let's make our guest feel welcome! I'm not sure if you all know him. Ever heard of, oh what's his name…Hikaru Hitachiin?" Every girl in the room screamed, Renge covering her ears and raising a brow. "Wow, so I guess you have." The audience laughed, and Hikaru suppressed the need to roll his eyes. She turned to him, chirping, "So, how's your day?"
The question caught him a little off-guard. He had suspected that she would dive straight into questions about the video. However, there was a glimmer in her eyes, and suddenly Hikaru was aware that perhaps Renge wasn't as air-headed as he had judged her. He picked up on her strategy, replying nonchalantly, "Oh, a little of this, a little of that, nothing out of the ordinary."
"That's nice. Did you manage to grab some lunch before you came?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Well in that case, we can head out to eat together after the show."
"Mhmm. Oh, I was supposed to ask you something…" She turned to the audience knowingly, listening to their yells and protests of wanting to get into the gossip. Renge laughed. "You know I'm just teasing. Gosh, you guys won't leave me alone until I get out all the scandalous details, so let's just get this out of the way. I'm sure you've seen the video, Hikaru."
He only nodded, not quite sure how else to respond.
"Oh look at him, being all shy. No need, no need, we don't judge over here at the Rice Corner. Well, there's no other way to put this: Are the claims in the video true?"
Hikaru knew how he was supposed to respond. He was supposed to smile and laugh, rambling about what a misunderstanding it was, how he was sorry for the confusion, and how he was just as innocent as all his fans made him out to be. He was going to pretend this never happened, brush off Éclair's attack, and go on with everything as scheduled. That was the plan.
But then, he was also supposed to never have gone into music. He was supposed to just sit in his empty mansion, being tutored and taught how to be a good little heir. He was supposed to listen to his mother and never go behind her back, and spend his time trying to become the perfect son.
And so, his reply was obvious.
Of course, he had never been very good with doing what he was supposed to.
The studio audience gasped, whispering, and Hikaru could see Aoi having a conniption on the side, but Renge didn't miss a beat. "What a relief!"
It was Hikaru's turn to be surprised. "Eh?"
Renge winked. "For a while, I wasn't sure you were human. A great singer, student, citizen…I was afraid you were an android! It's reassuring to know that you can make mistakes just like me." The audience listened, quite a few beginning to nod.
"It was a mistake. I didn't even mean to have any alcohol at the party, but someone brought it in and things got a little out of hand." A complete lie, considering Hikaru had always intended to have booze involved. He decided he wouldn't reveal the whole truth, though. He wanted to show Éclair that he was going to play her game, not lose it immediately.
"Did everyone make it home safe?"
"I made sure that everyone got a taxi and no one was hurt."
"See? He can make and fix mistakes. I think that's nicer than the perfect guy, don't you folks think so?" Another few seconds of clapping and agreement from the fans. She turned to Hikaru, asking with a smile, "So, care to tell the ladies more about this newly discovered wild side of yours?"
The girls squealed, and Hikaru smirked. "Well, I assure you nothing illegal, but I think I'll keep it a secret for now." Mostly because it includes offending a lot of people.
Renge laughed. "When did you become so mysterious?"
"I've always been a little secretive." Okay, so at least that wasn't a total lie. "Maybe now the world is just starting to pay attention."
"It certainly is. Now let's get off this topic, it feels like we're beating a dead horse, as morbid as it sounds. I think it's about time we start talking about the very reason you're on the show; your music!"
"I listened to your hit single, 'Close', and I have to wonder, what inspired you?"
"It's a funny story actually…"
The show was over, and everyone was congratulating one another backstage, Hikaru finishing up what little water was left in the plastic bottle. He had always hated how hot it got under the lights. He was off to the side, not really wanting to deal with people for the rest of the day, and so he grimaced when Aoi walked to his side, opening her mouth to no doubt lecture him about what a stupid mistake it was and how he shouldn't encourage people like Éclair to make another claim about him.
Aoi turned around, Hikaru looking past his assistant to see Renge standing with her bag, ready to leave. She smiled, putting her hands in her pockets as she casually explained, "Most of my guests always to portray someone so perfect and stiff. It's refreshing to see you taking a more realistic approach."
Hikaru raised a brow. "What do you mean, character?" He stepped forward, Aoi watching as he smiled, soothing, "I'm not fake."
"Good one," Renge muttered, rolling her eyes. "Seriously, why does no one understand that you can drop your act when the camera turns off?" She looked up at him, smirking. "Chill, I have a character too, don't I? If I reveal you, I'd have to reveal myself. I'm a talk-show host and you're a singer; we won't gain anything by being enemies."
"Why bring all of this up now?"
"Because I'm not blind. I know you and Éclair don't like each other. I had her on the show last week, I know she hates your guts, and you obviously hate hers. I'm on your side, though."
"Oh," Hikaru raised a brow, beginning to relax into his usual self, "And why is that? Could it be that my charming personality has won you over?"
"Nah, I just have a personal grudge against her."
"What happened? You can't expect to just mention that and have me not want to know more."
"Don't worry, I'll tell you…over lunch."
"Are you asking me out? Because you're not my type."
"Don't worry, I'm not into tall, ginger, and shallow. I'm just hungry, and I'd rather talk in private." She pointedly looked at Aoi, who bristled. "Without a lot of other people around."
"You know somewhere we can go without being bugged?"
"Yup. So are you in?"
Hikaru looked back at Aoi, who seemed agitated and nervous. She wasn't used to him going off and doing whatever in broad daylight, and the idea that something could go horribly wrong and she wouldn't be able to fix it right away was probably torture. He looked back at Renge, who had piqued his interest, not only with her cleverness, but a story about Éclair. Besides, he could use a few allies if he was going to go against Tonnere.
"Let's go. Business Lady, clean up my penthouse while I'm gone."
"Well, well, charming personality indeed."
And without even meaning to, Hikaru was taking another step towards finally tearing down the walls.
I apologize for the absence, guys, but a close friend of mine passed away. I'm still trying to deal with everything, and it's going to take some time to really heal. As much as I would love to say that I threw myself into writing, I didn't, and updates will probably be a little slow for a while. Not giving up on the story, I just need to cut back a little.
Until next time, read and enjoy!