A/N: Sorry for the sudden delay in updates. School overwhelmed me.
Disclaimer:
The band aren't mine, only the plot~

The band sat in the comfort of one of their studio's meeting rooms with their lunches set down neatly in front of them. Reita, Uruha and Aoi were all taking tiny stabs at abusing Ruki while he wrote down angry responses with fuming cartoon drawings to them in the light green pen on the whiteboard that Kai had thrown to the vocalist earlier on.

"Ru-Ruki," Reita tried from behind a fit of contagious laughter, "just try saying something. Just—please. Just do it."

"Fuck you." Ruki croaked pathetically. He hadn't meant to croak. His voice just hadn't come out right. He raised the back of his hand to his mouth as he coughed slightly, ignoring the roar of amusement that came from Aoi and the bassist. Uruha pouted, "That's really not a healthy sound…"

Ruki shook his head in a silent, sad agreement. He was beginning to regret his decision to leave the safety of his apartment this morning. Not just because his bandmates were teasing him – wasn't Kai supposed to be the butt of everyone's jokes? – but because his throat was beginning to feel horribly raw again, just like it had on the day he'd been with Kai to the hospital and to get an opinion from the doctor. Concern was welling in the pit of his stomach with every word he tried to pronounce.

Kai raised his eyes from his phone screen for a moment to give the little vocalist a stern, but still somehow soft stare, "Don't push it." He warned, "If we lose your voice we lose the band. A guitar can be replaced if it's broken. Same with the bass—"

"…Although, I am rather attached to mine." Reita commented.

"Drums can be fixed if their skin breaks, but you can never replace a voice." The rhythmist continued.

Ruki nodded once while Aoi sighed loudly, "Yes, yes, yes," he grumbled, tone impatient, "we've heard it a million times."

Reaching out with one of the drumsticks sitting in his lap, Kai lightly smacked the guitarist across the wrist, "Then make sure that you stop teasing Ruki."

"Itai!" The raven hissed, cradling his lean forearm. "You crazy bastard…"

"Aw, Aoi-chan." The other guitarist cooed from across the table, snorting at the glare that was immediately shot in his direction.

"I hope you sit on something seriously spiky." Aoi muttered, gracelessly shovelling rice into his mouth and chewing indignantly as he turned away from the group to sulk.

"If Ruki's sick," Reita suddenly raised a hand, "why is he here today?"

"Because I found the little weasel prowling the streets of Tokyo in search of coffee… or was it coffee girls?" Kai answered, dark eyes twinkling and dimple threatening to form the familiar dent in his left cheek behind a strained back smirk. "I thought it was necessary to put a leash on him before something dangerous happened."

Ruki winced as the three string artists thundered noisily with interest - even Aoi, who had surreptitiously spun his chair back around and leant closer to listen, "Coffee girls?" Reita grinned, "It's the blonde one, isn't it? At Nico's?"

"Eh?" Uruha gasped, "The foreign girl?"

Ruki almost spluttered at this, looking helplessly at Aoi for him to create some joke to turn the conversation away from him and onto something else. The dark haired guitarist simply popped a cherry tomato into his mouth and allowed a rather blunt and muffled, "Knew it." to pass through his lips.

The vocalist hung his head and began to scribble across the white board in his lap frantically, 'Don't be ridiculous. It isn't like that. I already told you.'

There was a short pause as the others read it before Aoi leant back, "Even if you didn't like her," He began, but then raised a finger, "which you do—"

"I don't!" Ruki protested feebly. Kai slapped his arm lightly with the drumstick with which he had previously assaulted Aoi. Rubbing it tenderly, Ruki gazed earnestly at his older friends. 'I don't.' He mouthed as the dark haired guitarist continued.

"She's a very sweet girl. I don't see why you're so embarrassed…"

"I am not…" The light-haired vocalist whined, receiving a much harder smack this time and immediately shifting his chair away from the decidedly sadistic drummer. "I've only met her three times. I can't like her, Aoi." He glared.

The guitarist nodded, blacker-than-midnight eyes locked with the lighter, hazel of his younger friend's, almost as if trying to drag the information from his very mind. Ruki fingered the side of the bottle of water on the table opposite him. "Can…" He began quietly, "can we just drop it now? You'd be the first people to know if I liked someone…"

It was true. He would have gone to them before even making the decision himself that he wanted to ask anyone out. Reita was mostly useless with girls no matter how many fawned over him and had trouble wording his feelings, Aoi usually just joked about things but when he was serious he gave his opinion as fact. Kai was generally mother hen and usually attempted to warn Ruki of the dangers of females and their witchcraft, but also said often that he hoped he would be seeing Ruki juniors in the future while Uruha would eye a girl down to the littlest detail before he was certain that she was an acceptable companion. So while their advice was usually useless, he would take what little help they could give and combine it into making the decision himself. If his friends didn't like the chick, then what was the point in being with her? He was with them almost constantly.

"Someone's a bit defensive…" Reita chuckled, ignoring the glares that both Ruki and Uruha shot in his direction as he glanced down happily at his plate. "Damn, I'm out of fish!"


Later that night, when Ruki was alone again in his room with the humidifier he had been handed earlier that afternoon to help with his swollen vocal cords quietly sighing beside him as it puffed warm moisture into the air. His eyes were glued to the ceiling, searching for cracks that weren't there and thoughts of the earlier conversation with his friends filling his sleepy mind. His eyes narrowed faintly. How could they be so preposterous?

You're alone now, Ruki. You don't have to lie to yourself. Even the littlest lies.

The blonde sat up, pulling his knees to into his chest slowly and resting his chin atop them. He had been the one to go and find her today after recognizing someone who must have owned the same coat as she. He may not have recognized her so well the second time they had met, but he hadn't forgotten her afterwards either. The vocalist sighed heavily. Perhaps there was some truth in the words of his bandmates. But that didn't mean he liked her (thankyouverymuchAoi). He'd just taken an interest in her.

His eyes caught the outline of his black notebook through the darkness; it was always close to him. Reaching out gingerly, Ruki took the small book in one hand and felt underneath the pillow for his phone with his other. He snapped the screen up and flipped through the pages of scribbled words and abandoned doodles and drawings to the last leaf he'd been working on, and there, at the top of the page in black ink were two rows of numbers that Ruki knew belonged to the girl in the coffee shop. He faltered for a moment before typing the number into his phone and hitting the call button.

It wasn't a long wait. The girl answered almost immediately with a quiet, uncertain 'moshi moshi'. "Ah, Reila." Ruki greeted softly, unknowingly clenching his jaw as he waited for her response.

A bubble of relief seemed to wash over the girl as Ruki listened to her sigh quietly, "Gosh I thought you were someone else. This is Reila. Who is speaking please?"

"It's me, it's Ruki." He replied, biting his bottom lip as he waited for her to register the name.

"Ruki, ah, hello! How are you? How's your poor throat?" She enquired, tone bubbly once more.

Slowly, he began to relax. "Ah, very good thank you, and yourself? It's taken a turn for the worse, but the doctors have given me a humidifier to try and soothe it."

"If that was you trying out a dirty joke about your room being steamy, I don't want to know."

Ruki snorted, "You caught me." He smirked, and heard her chuckle on the other line. There was a short pause before he was forced to restart. "But, um, anyway… I wanted to check if this was the right number. And it is."

"That's good, isn't it? I wrote my own phone number down correctly." The girl teased again from the other side. Ruki rolled his eyes, this woman was faster than Aoi.

"Ah, fine, fine." The blonde smirked, "I'll stop saying stupid things. Anyway, etooo…" Ruki paused, shrugged and then asked the question, "would you like to come out with me sometime, you know, for dinner or something?" He then winced, and pressed the heel of his hand against his forehead at how self-assured and cocky he must have sounded. He really hadn't thought anything through just then. He didn't even know if she was single.

"Ano," Reila paused, giggling to herself shyly before composing herself, "sure. Sure, that sounds like a great plan."

That was how it began. That's how Ruki and Reila started to see each other, through a simple phone call and a friendly question asked on a whim.

A/N: once again, I apologize for the delay. Please feel free to review! It'd make me happy if you did.