yoh minna-san! gomen for the late update! i was just...sleeping...pfft! thank you for your patience and support and kind words!
Many times, people have described the quietness before a storm to be scarier than the storm itself. When it's quiet, no one could tell how much the damage could be. When it's quiet, no one could not feel rested no matter how much they have prepared. When it's quiet, it actually only pushes depressing thoughts prevail no matter how positive a person could be. The only thing human beings could do was gawk at how an enormous storm had come to break in. That calm before a storm exactly was the waiting.
"Do you need to get another drink?" Ijuuin asked seeing that the bottle of water he had given Misaki was already empty. But the teen merely shook his head in silent 'no'.
The man sighed and patted Misaki on the head with calculating moves. Ijuuin totally understood the feeling of waiting for the result. That quenching feeling like a person was being strangled. It was a painful yet sweet feeling. It would be useless to tell a competitor to 'not be nervous'. It was almost fifty percent of any given situation in life would be that emotion, nervousness. An emotion when one doesn't know what the future holds.
"Ijuuin-san," Misaki cut in through Ijuuin's train of thoughts. "You're hand..."
"My hand?" Ijuuin raised his hand and if he was some teenager, he swore he could have blushed at that moment. Shaking more badly than his student? How embarrassing!
"YOU didn't see that," Ijuuin muttered annoyed. Misaki smiled sheepishly.
Looking around the room, it wasn't grandiose or extravagant. If anything, it was just a plain white room with wooden chairs to seat on. Aside from that there was nothing more. And inside, the sweltering heat of rivalry was seeping to every square inch. It was the moment where everyone saw the others as not just a mere rival but an enemy.
"I wonder...I think...I am not really fit for these kind of competitions," Misaki absent mindedly uttered while looking at the other people talking in hushed voices.
Ijuuin had to frown at the teen beside him. "What the hell is this about again? After all the things you've done, you say that?" Crossing his long legs, Ijuuin looked up the ceiling. "Give me something with more sense will you?"
"I always thought that music is supposed to be enjoyed...but this feeling...why is it that everyone is having this look like they want to kill?" Misaki asked while looking at his empty water bottle.
"Didn't you enjoy what you did earlier?" Ijuuin asked in a stern voice.
Misaki didn't answer. He merely knitted his fine brows while rolling the bottle on his lap.
"You know Misaki, you're view of the world is still like a fairy tale considering the many things you've been through. But let me tell you one thing," Ijuuin leaned closer to his student with the most serious face he could muster. "Rivalry is what makes the world go round. When you have a lot of rivals, you're pushed more than your limit. It brings out all the potentials within you."
Misaki's green eyes stared straight on.
"Isn't it 'touching people through the world of music' your vision?" the man asked grinning as if mocking Misaki. "Though that sounded really old school..."
"Don't make fun of me, you're my teacher here," Misaki scowled. In truth, Ijuuin felt a little more relieved that Misaki was giving off such face.
In that room with the other competitors with their own advisors, everyone had this hope that they'd be the one. One could hope and dream anyway. They were the free things one could splurge them into in this world. Perhaps, Ijuuin knew that this night would be the last one he'd be Misaki's teacher and advisor. So though it wasn't in his personality to talk with such flowery descriptions, he ended up doing it so.
"Actually Takahashi, you are more gutsy than you realize."
"You walked out on me. Came back here, sang despite crying... as a teacher I admire that in you. If you want others to hear you you have to sing louder, clearer and fiercer. You're not the only one who has something to say in this world. That's why you have to make a loud music not a loud noise."
"What's with this serious talk, Ijuuin-san it feels creepy."
Ijuuin looked surprised and eventually laughed at the comment he got. "Well, I'm just trying to dig into that thick skull of yours that as long as you don't make a name for yourself, you'd only make a small noise in a small corner."
"Ijuuin-san, you're too stiff."
"But you might know it by now, I act most of the time, based here," the teen pointed at his chest for a little while before grinning at Ijuuin. "I don't rely much in my head because I know I am an idiot."
A faint ringing called the attention of everyone inside the waiting room that stopped all conversations.
"We request the guests to please leave the Room Ten and proceed to the music hall. Sonate competitors, please stay in Room Ten until the result is ready. Thank you."
A lopsided smile formed on Ijuuin's lips before standing. His dark suit a little crinkled now but it didn't make him any less admirable. Sighing a contented one, Ijuuin inserted his hands inside his pockets.
"Well, I did learn a few things from you..." he said without turning to look at Misaki. "If you lose, you're free to work in my company..."
"Don't jinx me!" Misaki shouted.
Ijuuin started walking away from Misaki. Slow yet dignified he made his exit. "See? You're not nervous anymore."
"After the competition, you're free to do whatever you desire to do," Ijuuin raised a hand in the air. "I'll be a step on your ladder no matter what. Good luck."
Misaki watched the broad back grow farther from him. As the teen fixed his gaze at the tall man, a sudden emotion took his breath away that he stood abruptly from his seat that sent the empty water bottle to the floor rolling a few meters away.
"Ijuuin-san..." Biting down his lower lip, Takahashi Misaki bowed at his leaving sensei. "Thank you for everything..."
Blurry white floors before him, it wasn't tears of regret or anything negative. It was tears of gratitude towards a man who he rejected but still gave him all the support he could ask for. Misaki knew if not for Ijuuin's strict teaching and faint cheering and wide understanding, he wouldn't be there. So a heart felt and sincere bow was the only thing he could give in return. For his heart was already taken by somebody else.
All the other competitors looked at what Misaki was doing. It was a contagious feeling that they have forgotten they were all rivals. And instead gave a few of their seconds bowing for the respective people they were representing.
It stirred a new kind of emotion to the audience watching on their phones, tvs, laptops and on the big screens outside the venue itself. Such a sight to behold, rivals in unity, it felt like really, 'no man is an island'.
Squinting his tired and blurry eyes, Usami Akihiko fixed his gaze at the huge entrance to the building before him. It looked so close that if he tried to extend his hands, he'd definitely reach it. But reality wasn't as sweet like that. The more he moved forward, the stronger the barriers became. It was frustrating, irritating and maddening. He was there and yet he couldn't even overcome that plain obstacle.
"Shit...not now..." he muttered in a labored voice. Chilly as it was getting, he was running cold sweat. He never liked crowded areas. Just the thought could make him nauseous .
Is this all the distance I could cover?
It was a huge blow to the man's pride. He thought that he was invincible before. In the flick of his fingers, people come flocking down to him. In just one call, everything he needed was laid before him. And yet the one thing he wanted to reach was so far. He knew he already did his best. That was the painful part. It reminded him that he was just a human after all. And part of it was there would be times that he wouldn't be able to take control.
He could only wait at that point in time what fate would bring him. Waiting doesn't mean giving up anyway. Because one is uncertain they wait. And hopefully an opening would present itself. He did all the reaching, but it takes two to make a pair for a 'holding hands'.
Buttons flashing, all eyes stared at the small screens before them and at their timer.
Sneaky and cunning, that was the reality of everyone in an industry for entertainment. The friend earlier could be the enemy later. And the foe could be the angel that would lead one to salvation. Everything was just a blur of anxiety and uncertainty.
"This is so lame...so useless..." the young man hiding his face in his cap muttered, his fingers on that green button.
"In ten seconds, camera 3 will be on air. Everyone please stand by," a voice in their headsets reminded.
The kohai gritted his teeth as he imagined what would happen. The signals would air two scenes at the same time. A screen cut into half to show the Sonate and to show the happenings outside. But that time, instead of focusing on the reactions of the audiece as a whole, they'd be focusing a single man out of the many.
"This is foul play...damn this senpai..." his sweaty hand trembled and he shivered, hatred seeping through him. "Is it fun to make a joke out of gay people? Is it a crime to be gay damn you people?"
He could only follow orders though. But that time he swore, once he gets to the top, he'd never take ratings out of making a fool of someone no matter how childish it may seem.
"Kami-sama, do something for this guy.." he prayed. For when he looked at Usami Akihiko's face, he could only feel sadness at the blatant frustration on that once composed face.
"OMG! THAT IS ME!" a girl squealed. "I'M ON TELEVISION!"
Everyone looked at the huge screens before them. Many felt giddy some started waiving their hands and grinning stupidly before the cameras. However it only took meer seconds before they realized to where it was being focused on.
Massaging his temples, Usami hadn't realized that the mob had created a circle around him. As if he was some freak show, the space they were so eager on protecting thrown out on thin air as they gathered around the seemingly tired man who looked appalled when after raising his head, he saw his own lavender eyes looking back at him on the screens.
"Please give way! Give way!" a male marshall shouted forcing a way into the mob towards the composer.
"Ne, isn't that Sayaka Aoi? Wow...looks pretty..." a guy whispered to his friend. "No wonder they're sending their prettiest gossip girl here huh?"
"Interesting..." the other muttered.
Usami could only stare at the approaching showbusiness show crew towards him. The blinding lights of their cameras seared through his brains.
"Sonate Music Competitors, we request you to comeback to the hall on the stage and stand according to your numbers. The result is already out. Thank you and good luck."
The rustles of clothes, the squeaking of shoes on the floor filled Misaki's brain. The confidence he had tried to gather earlier disappeared like a cigarette smoke and his drumming heartbeat was too much. This cycle of getting calm and getting nervous once again was seriousy making him more tired than he should be.
Young ladies and young men formed separate lines as they exited the room one by one. Despite that, Misaki could still hear the mutterings of the other competitors.
"See, whoever wins is like winning in a lifetime lottery..."
"Baka-did you join just for the sake of money?"
"Of course not. The craft is more important. But you couldn't deny Two Hundred Million Yen is a lot."
"Not to mention a two-year contract with Sonate, a dream come true isn't it?"
A girl turned her green eyes at the two vulgar young men. "Please be discreet you two will you?"
Winning, huh? Misaki thought to himself. He smiled a little. Before, just being able to compete in Sonate was enough for him. And yet, now, he couldn't deny that he wanted to be the one to take home the trophy. People by nature are really greedy. But when put to good use it could really help a lot. As it pushes people to move forward.
The line was neat and orderly. However, despite him being the 36th competitor, he was asked to stand at the last. It didn't matter to him. Somehow, watching the backs of the other people was soothing in its own way.
One by one, Misaki could hear the faint voice of the emcee calling each names as they entered the stage. It felt funny somehow. The time he prepared for this event was long and yet, in just one night they'd judge everything. It was hard to believe.
"Number 9, Minami Ayaka," the emcee announced and the never ending succession of claps could be heard even in the waiting room where they were lined.
They're too tired and their hands might be swollen to clap for me when it's my turn. Misaki joked to himself.
Misaki wasn't really paying attention to the LCD screen hanging by the wall since he didn't want to look at the stage of the Sonate through the television. Looking at it would just break his resolve. However, just one glimpse and he got stuck on his spot. Speechless, mindless.
"This is such a surprise such as yourself is watching outside the hall, Usami Akihiko-san!"
The look on Usami's face wasn't really inviting but the girl, pretty and petite yet alluring continued. She was forceful thinking everyone would and should forgive her because she was the cute gossip girl.
"Or are you not even allowed inside the hall you once reigned?" she sneered. Who knew such an angelic face could make snide remarks as that? But the world was too blinded by her cutesy reactions they didn't care.
Pushing the microphone closer to disheveled Usami Akihiko, Aoi continued her job. "We got from a source that your lover is actually a competitor in Sonate? That's a taboo in this competition right?"
"There's no such thing as that," Usami hissed, trying to hide his face with his hand. Trying to hide the dried blood on the side of his face.
Usagi-san...a chill ran down Misaki's spine as he watched the man, exhausted and somehow unkept through the television. He had never seen the man like that, never. He's here...he's been here all this time...
"Aww..." Aoi giggled. "Don't be secretive Usami-tan! Everyone is dying to know who your lover is. Does he know you're here cheering him on?"
"What the hell is that airhead's problem?!" Arisaka and a couple of people who were watching in their right minds grumbled. Clearly, she was nothing but a woman whose brain was in her chest instead of her head.
The girl wearing super mini skirt despite the chilly air pushed her earphones deeper in her ear as the buzz of the audience outside was overpowering.
"Ask him if his lover is the one named Takahashi Misaki."
The girl tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled an innocent smile that sent the stupid guys watching to wet dream land.
"Usami-tan, is your lover Takahashi Misaki?"
For a moment, Usami Akihiko's poker face displayed a shocked reaction which he hurriedly replaced by his "poker face" once again. But the cameras were merciless eyes that captured every single move the man made. And with that, the speculations grew.
"Oh my goooood..." the girl was exageratedly shocked. "For reaaaaaaaaaal?"
"Why don't you shut your stupid mouth? Don't make assumptions that could ruin others' lives!" Usami hissed which sent the girl backing away. A huge backer had to stand between Usami and Aoi.
In all angles, Usami Akihiko appeared to be the bad guy, scaring the cute girl like that.
"Eh...I thought he'd be composed but to actully raise a voice to cute Aoi?" Misaki could hear the voices of the people in the background.
"She deserves it!" an annoyed girly voice shouted.
"Hey, don't be harsh on a woman just because you're thing is for males!"
On live broadcast, Misaki watched his Usagi-san stand in the middle of the people who clearly knew nothing of how gentle and caring of a man he was. He wanted to pull the television off it's spot and smash it on the floor.
"So cruel...this is so cruel..." Misaki sobbed looking up.
"Number 43, Ueno Shinji..."
The guy before Misaki noticed the teen's muffled cry that when he looked at Misaki, he was a bit surprised to see Misaki's face in a mix of tears behind anger.
The many idiotic people who wanted attention shouted how disgusting Usami was. The others who couldn't care less was just caught in the moment they gave their not so good remarks.
"That 36 has been a pain from the very start anyway...perhaps that rumor is true?"
"Then...shouldn't that be allowed?"
"Is that even important? I bet that wimpy looking guy is the receiver..." a voice muttered followed by a cruel laugh.
Exhaustion, frustration and most of all, anger at hearing his Misaki be talked about in such a manner, Usami Akihiko finally snapped. He didn't care about dignity, composed front and any of those shits anymore. He only had one thing in mind and that was to hit that ugly mug on his left side with all his might.
Screamings everywhere, the other people watching stepped back as Usami Akihiko started beating the guy with red dyed hair with all his remaining strenght. He wanted to make a bloody mess of that ugly face, redder than the color of his hair.
"No...that's enough..." Misaki whispered as he watched the name Usami Akihiko so hardly created go down the drain. "Enough..."
"Hey...Takahashi-san?" the guy called out, unaware of the happenings on television since he was all ears into the calling of names. "You're eyes are red..."
With the anguish on Usami's face etched on Misaki's mind, the teen stepped back. Misaki's started walking towards the stage opening. Passing the numbers that should be called first, everyone looked at Misaki with questioning eyes.
No one in the hall knew what was going on outside since they had once again shut off the huge screens. They shouldn't have been airing what was going on outside. Just that one instant to make their point at Misaki and Io's exactness.
Ijuuin grew numb on his seat. Io who was trying to fix his darkglasses almost slid off his seat. All eyes were once again at number 36 Takahashi Misaki who shamelessly stomped across the stage, his shoes echoing with every step he made. Every part of him looked tense.
And everyone were stupefied when Misaki grabbed the microphone from the emcee at the side of the stage and with an anguish look while his tears were running on the side of his cheeks, he faced the entire audience and the cameras.
"SO WHAT IF I AM GAY?! SO WHAT IF I AM USAMI AKIHIKO'S LOVER!?"
The teen couldn't have shouted any louder than that. The music hall turned silent as if everyone fell into some hole. The audience's neck outside the venue all turned towards the huge screens.
Slowly, Usami Akihiko's grip on the ugly guy's collar loosened. He couldn't believe it. He couldn't believe what he just heard and so slowly, as if he was afraid of seeing what he already knew was happening, he raised his lavender eyes at the huge screens.
Misaki was there on live broadcast crying in front of all Japan, admitting he was gay.
"Usagi-san...enough...please..." the voice croaked from the huge full blast speakers through out the wide area. "Enough..."
The camera focusing on the bleeding guy panned to Usami Akihiko. There was no doubt a tear escaped the man's eye when he looked up at the huge screens.
"Misaki...you idiot..." he muttered in a hoarse voice.
chapter end notes:
thank you thank you...just want to say ARIGATOU for everyone..readers guests...
for now..i am headed to dream land...^^ i'll respond after waking up..hehe
FYI: ￥200,000,000 is roughly around 2 million dollars.^^ whoa!