He walked while counting the light bulbs lighting the long and spacious hallways. The red brown walls, the red carpeted floors, the paintings, they were all a symbol of how strong and successful the Sonate Organization has been the past decades, and still going stronger.

"Ten...eleven..." Io mumbled, craning his neck upwards while both his hands were tucked inside his jeans. "The more I see everything, the more I get jealous..." Io suddenly hissed shaking his head out of the blue, his hair hitting his own face. "I feel like a fat envious loser."

As the teen made his way to the comfort room, he bit his bottom lip, still looking up. He hated the very prospect of being in the same room as Takahashi Misaki. Misaki who was loved by the many, Misaki who always looked positive, Misaki who always managed to make people accept him. Shizuki Ishi, deep inside, though he didn't want to think of it much deeper, was wondering if people could also give him the same acceptance they have given to Misaki. Given all the shit he had been pulling off when he was still the one on top.

Could anyone really blame him for entertaining such conflicting thoughts even though he had already decided to change himself? He had always been the bad guy. Bad guys could change anytime they wanted. But he knew in reality, acceptance would be like searching in the desert for a needle since a lot hated him. A lot didn't like him.

"Ah...God...this is annoying!" he kicked an imaginary can before him as he passed a huge mirror. He glanced at his reflection and glared at his face. "Clawing your way back into the entertainment industry sure is're now tasting your own medicine...really..."

There was one thing that Io was also concerned of. To have to see Ijuuin look at Misaki the way the man never looked at him, that gentleness, that longing, made him feel really sinking into the mud. Was trying to change himself from being a wayward, haughty fake singer before this heavy? Having his pride and heart be crushed at the same time, could he really manage?

What would it take, what should he do, to have that hung-up man look at him instead?

"Should I act like Misaki too?" Io rolled his eyes, as he stepped into the cubicle in the middle. He slammed the door to the cubicle shut and just stood staring at the sparkling white ceramic. "If I do that, maybe that stupid Ijuuin would start to notice me...right?"

He flushed the toilet without really doing anything. "But then...I would end up as just a replacement...who fucking wants that?"

Extremely in a bad mood. That was Ijuuin Kyo' state for a reason he didn't want to think about. From the time he and Usami Akihiko parted ways from the smoking room, to the music room itself, he couldn't waive the annoyance taking over.

"That is some possessiveness there, Ijuuin..." a thought that was playing over and over in his mind.

He was just concerned to have that hard-headed, punk be involved in another mess. Like a news for example that he was hitting on Usami. Or trying to have a good favour to the composer or something. Just one gossip could be very detrimental to Io's still in the dumps status. As a sort of Io's guardian and mentor, he was entitled to be mad.

Mad at having to see Io beside Usami?

Ijuuin sighed as he stole a glance at Misaki. "Ah...I know why..."

He'd never say it even if it killed him. He was afraid that Shizuki Ishi would just change parties. Like most of the people he had trained and mentored. Was it really just that?

He glared hard at the music sheets he was holding. But the music notes written on the lines were nothing but messy dots. As his irritation grew, the itching in his throat he suddenly felt worsened.


Minase was sitting on a lower wooden stool with ridiculous intricate designs giving one an impression that they were just playing a return-to-the-past-era game.

"Are you okay?"

Inhaling through his nose and slowly exhaling the heaviness out of his lips, Ijuuin started waiving the music sheets in the air, taking lead of the meet-up.

Usami Akihiko who always liked to be the one in-charge of his songs whether by partner or alone didn't mind Ijuuin leading. He was all busy staring at Misaki's enthusiastic face even Minase had to wonder if the great composer would actually be able to do anything.

That annoyed Ijuuin as well. Was it not, work should be work? Personal matters set aside first? In this case, Minase was rigidly sitting, Ijuuin, annoyedly explaining, Misaki eagerly listening, and Usami, entertaining ideas Ijuuin already had some idea about.

"This part here, Usami I suggest we repeat it at the end..." Ijuuin pointed out with a calm face as ever.

It was only Fuji, the secretary who knew, the more calm and unruffled Ijuuin was, it was a sign of the man reaching the end of his ropes. Too bad for Fuji, he wasn't there and instead just stayed at their office. He would definitely enjoy the look on his boss' face.

Usami crossed his long legs and finally looked at his own music sheet. "Hmm...I also thought of that earlier..." he sort of smiled without his eyes doing so, more like he wasn't pleased with the idea that both of them was thinking of the same thing. Wasn't it just a proof that both of them really had the same taste? "Also, who'd do the higher notes? Minase-kun or Misaki?"

The dark eyes looked at Minase who suddenly stiffened for a bit. But as Ijuuin smiled reassuringly, the blonde eased more and nodded at Misaki who was obviously excited, ready to do any part.

"I think, it's better if Misaki do it. I heard Minase-kun once, and the lines from verse 3 to 5 suits his voice. Low and cool, letting people feel that there is something coming..."

Misaki jumped to Minase's side and both looked at one music sheet, murmuring to each other how it would turn out.

"Rendition is important at the end so we should do a couple of voice testing here," Ijuuin added, putting a red circle on a verse of the song.

The group was engrossed with their project, leaving a quiet Shizuku Ishi lying on the long, red sofa of the music room. He was there sitting as if immitating Cleopatra. He'd look at Usami Akihiko's direction to Misaki once in a while and then would look at his copy of the song the two most known composers of that time was working at.

However, his eyes were actually not on the notes or lyrics but were actually spying on Ijuuin.

Io was sulking. He felt it was better for him not to see Ijuuin having that pissed off look just because he could see in person how lovey-dovey Misaki and Usami were.

"Wait, Ijuuin," Usami Akihiko interrupted, straightening his legs as he eyed the dark eyes. With his lavender eyes which was so full of things going on, he looked at Io who was currently pouting at the music sheet as if him and the paper were talking about some secret.

"Io," Usami suddenly turned at Io, making the kid almost slide off from where he was sitting.


Ijuuin looked from Usami to Io with no change of expression whatsoever. Minase and Misaki also raised their gazes at the teen dude, sitting there like a princess.

Misaki smiled forcefully. He could sense his stupid and manipulative Usagi-san brewing something. That serious look on Usami's face, as if he was nothing but a pure good hearted man was just a mask. Misaki knew that. He had memorized that part of Usami. Misaki found it funny at times but mostly, it ended up as only annoying him because he had to catch all the returns in the end.

" you have anything to add?" Usami exhaled. "Well you were brought here to observe by Ijuuin and yet you're just there...I bet you're feeling left behind?"

Io laughed. He just laughed naturally because it was such a relief to be able to act and talk normally to Usami Akihiko which he thought would be impossible given their past. It felt, surprisingly, that he had earned a close and important friend.

"I'm fine here, Akihiko-san! I could hear everything..." Io replied waiving the music sheets in the air once. "Besides, Ijuuin-sensei said I have to behave. If I stayed there, I would end up ruining everyone's concentration...I'm just observing anyway. Thank you for your concern, Akihiko-san."

Minase looked from Io, to Misaki and knitted his brows. He was worried if the brunette beside him would be jealous given that Misaki's lover, Usami Akihiko seemed to be 'friendlier' to Io than he was expecting. But instead, Minase had to change his gaze to Ijuuin Kyo. To his sensei who was looking at the music sheet with his jaws obviously working.

"Ne, sensei...where did Usami-san and Takahashi-kun go? Won't they be joining us with lunch?"

Ijuuin was currently holding a bowl of Donburi, the music sheets he and Usami were discussing earlier laid before him. He set the bowl down and grabbed the bottle of water before him.

"There is an interview for Takahashi-kun at the lounge and he didn't want to turn it down, so he simply said he could do it on lunch..."

Minase whistled before stuffing his mouth with an ordered Tempura from a nearby establishment. As he was chewing, he threw a glance at Io who insisted on having a pizza for lunch instead.

"Ah~~" Minase narrowed his eyes. "It's such a refreshing feeling to have to work with a very polite and nice guy like Takahashi-kun...I'm so relieved."

Io who was in the middle of biting a huge one on his Hawaiian Pizza smiled a humorless smile at the blonde and chewed loudly. Minase's face crumpled into disgust.

"But...Usami-sensei sure follows every move of's a bit awkward but..."

Io turned his head at the blonde giving him a knowing look. "When you're crazy about someone, you can't help it. Your eyes will follow the person whenever, wherever, whatever..."

Still eating silently, Ijuuin didn't make any remarks.

" worked together before right? How come you didn't get even a swab of Takahashi's should learn a lesson or two from Takahashi-kun, don't you think?"

"Ah? Everybody likes Takahashi-kun even when he's just standing there doing nothing," Io muttered with a mocking grin. He poured more hotsauce into his pizza and batted his eyelashes. "Minase-kun, keep it slow, don't push your self too hard. Usami-san and Ijuuin-sensei will be there to support us..." he mumbled, in a sly, energetic yet mocking voice.

"Stop it! Takahashi-kun doesn't act like that! You're making me lose my appetite!"

Io pulled his knees up on his chest and buried his face on it as he was laughing his head out. "I act sweet and still no good? Bwahaha..."

Ijuuin straightened on his seat and looked at Io still shaking on his chair. "Io."

The teen lifted his gaze, his eyes were the only part of his face visible. "What?"

"I did tell you to behave, that doesn't mean I said, stay away."

Io placed his pizza down and sat properly so suddenly, as if his energy had been sapped out. "Well...I don't have anything to do with the New year's special and besides...I think the song is already fine as it is, what else could I add?"

"Still uncomfortable with Takahashi?" Ijuuin asked in a soft voice as Io seemed to sink lower in his chair.

The boy gave an exasperated sigh before stuffing his face full until his cheeks puffed. "You wonch unjerstan. Anwey..." the teen swallowed hard before continuing. "...I'm not really needed here."

Minase stayed quiet. He could feel the conversation going a bit serious this time. He just looked at Io with his blue eyes. Honestly, he was understanding what Io could probably be feeling.

The moment they arrived at Sonate, everyone was all excited about Usami, about Misaki, about Ijuuin and were curious about him as the BlackMedley's official apprentice in the Sonate. Io, just behind the scenes, having that poker yet almighty-face. Perhaps, that was just Io's way of redeeming himself despite being treated as not important.

"Io, I brought you here as a part of my team. Don't say 'not needed' here..." Ijuuin countered. "Eventually you'd be in this kind of things in the future. That's why I want you to observe and open up."

"Part of your team?" Io repeated. Looking at the almost empty box of pizza, the boy cleared his throat, masking the impending wide smile on his lips. He didn't want to look so happy at just a simple phrase and look like an idiot.

"Moron, the instant I forced you into getting a comeback, you're already in my team."

Minase gaped at Ijuuin. The blonde couldn't believe the man just said 'moron' with a straightface. And grinning, he turned at Io. "Well, basically I don't want to have to do anything with you but yes, this has become a team already right, what with all being stuck with you almost twenty four seven...?"

Io glanced at Minase back to Ijuuin. "Okay..." Io mumbled, looking away, stuffing pizza into his face faster than he was doing earlier. "I'll participate then..."

Io had this warm sensation in his chest. To have something be pointed out, that he really belonged to a circle made him stupidly lightheaded. He was a member of ZONE before. That was his home. But the instant everyone realized his flaws and faults, he was left in the air floating directionless.

This time, that people accepted him first for his flaws and imperfections, gave him a feeling that really, he could do it.

Ijuuin sipped his coffee, with his eyes at his two students arguing about how Minase was trying 'too hard'. He was glad though that Io was getting more and more of a listener and more open to Minase and him.

The three of them were still waiting for Misaki and Usami to come back. Perhaps the interview had taken an overtime.

" sounded so fake!" Io growled.

"What fake?" Minase growled back. "I was merely feeling the emotion that should be incorporated in the song. It was a part where it says letting go despite it being hard! Naturally I have to sing it with an emotion like I was about to cry..."

"Cry?" Io laughed. "You sound like you're being strangled..."

"Yeah...said the one who can sing!"

Io glared at Minase. Minase glared at Io. But after a long while, they just went on with their own businessess. The music room growing quiet once more.

After a couple of seconds of walking around the music room aimlessly, Io stood

"Ijuuin," Io called, standing before the man. It made the composer look up with a curious look. "I'm...really sorry for earlier..."

"What...that's fine already. Just don't disappear without telling me."

Io grinned, the kind as if he was already flirting. The him he really was. The straightforward, shameless guy who'd make the move if his target was not doing anything.

"Then I'd tell you wherever I go from now on!"

"Huh?" Ijuuin knitted his brows. "Well...that's fine I guess..."

"Why are you looking so surprised! We're a team already! So I'll report to you everything!"

This sudden lively attitude from Io made Ijuuin feel a little cautious. There were times that he just couldn't really tell what mood really was Io in.

Minase was doing a breathing exercise in one corner of the room while Io was pestering Ijuuin for how their lunch appeared to be like of a pauper's. He wasn't complaining earlier but with this new found energy, Io wouldn't just stop blabbering.

But everyone grew silent when the huge mahogany doors of the music room blasted open. Revealing expectant and curious faces of the media.

Ijuuin stood right away from where he was sitting. "Excuse me? But this is a private meeting, what are you doing here?"

Minase walked towards Ijuuin, with Io dragging his legs behind the blonde.

"Sir, we'd just like to get some informations regarding the Sonate Special..." the woman at the front with small, slanting eyes looked at Minase. "And we'd also want to hear from this new young man here how it feels to work with two great composers..."

"What are you saying? Stop getting pictures," Ijuuin threw the folder he was holding on the table and gave everyone in the press a menacing look. "I said stop it." How on Earth did they even learned about today?"

Misaki came rushing from the back, making his way in front of the people equipped with cameras and microphones.

"Ijuuin-sensei!" Misaki stood on tip toe whispering to the darkhaired man. "We don't know how they got in here, but the president said why not take this opportunity to advertise the coming special? Usag- I mean, Usami-san, said there isn't anything we'd lose although, this means you have to finally show your face in public..."

Ijuuin looked deeply into the boy's green eyes and looked at Usami at the back of the media people. Usami was just there, not having any expressions at all. He inwardly cursed.

He didn't have any qualms of showing his face in public. But this was too sudden. Just too sudden.

However, Ijuuin running his opportunistic side, this was a good chance. Having the public's attention all at him for showing himself after not long ago, a fellow wellknown composer did in the person of Usami AKihiko would gather all kinds of eyes. Good and bad.

Everyone would look and watch for Minase Daisuke he was mentoring after a series of auditions. And most of all, other than that, people would listen to everything he would say regarding the blacksheep among the rising music pillars. They'd listen to whatever he had to say about Io.

Thinking all of these within a matter of milliseconds, Ijuuin plastered a smile that could make anyone swoon over him. A smile so practiced it was an art in itself.

"I can't believe the BlackMedly is a charming man. I bet women who had fantasized how you looked like would be really surprised and would go crazy!" a thin man from a showbiz magazine toothed.

Eyeing the music room that just a while ago was quiet and conducive to working, Ijuuin sighed and smiled. The smile that was so inviting as he patted Misaki on the shoulder once.

"Very well, since we're already here, maybe it's time for me to introduce Minase Daisuke..."

The hissing sound inside the room, as if a bunch of bees just got out of their colony filled the entire space. Flashes of cameras flooded the room, the sound of their eager voices sounded high pitched and had no intention of stopping quacking until their questions were answered.

Because of the ambush interview, Usami and Misaki, with Ijuuin and Minase sat back in the long round table, being civil and answering questions about the upcoming Sonate Special and the albums and the songs they were creating. Io sitting in one of the chair around the table as if he didn't exist there.

"Despite it that we're still counting more days for the New year, the tickets for the Special are already sold-out! Could you tell the viewers what to expect in this?" a young woman from a TV show asked, readying her tablet and recorder.

"Well, just be surprised," Ijuuin answered shortly.

"Damn this bastards..." Ijuuin thought as he was smiling there. Despite him wanting to make a huge fuss, there still remained the fact that he and Usami were part of the face of the Sonate. They have to be more patient and understanding that these media people were just doing their jobs. On the side note though, it was making him worried. Minase was answering questions gracefully so his concern wasn't on the blonde. He was concerned for a different matter.

The interview only lasted for about an hour. And just when everyone thought it was over, a photographer stepped up, wanting to get better pictures of their subjects than just photos around a table.

"Excuse me, but could we take solo and group photos of you guys? We would like to take photos of the key persons in the Sonate Newyear's special! This will really hype up the viewers !"

Could that reporter point out any stronger that they only needed key persons in the Sonate Special?

The other brunette with a blank expression quietly stood and went to a corner, allowing the photographers to fuss over Ijuuin, Minase and Usami with Misaki.

Io was just standing at one of the corner of the room. He looked like he didn't want to get in the way so he just stood there beside an artificial plant. Normally, Io would never do that. Giving way to the point that it looked like he was not worth anything at all. Just looking at Io there with that proud smile still on his young face made Ijuuin angry.

No one was actually paying attention to Io. Ijuuin wasn't sure whether to be relieved that no one was bringing up Io's past mistakes and scandals. But the way Io was just watching him, and the rest of them, felt like someone was stabbing him slowly at the back. Io was left behind.

Usami who was there with his brows twitching patted Misaki on the shoulder.

"Okay fine."

The photo session started with Usami and Ijuuin together. With Misaki and Minase together. And with the four as a group.

At first, it was just Usami and Misaki standing behind an old painting as their backdrop. Usami standing proudly, Misaki had this strange nervousness on his smile. The next was Ijuuin and Minase together.

As the cameras produced the flickering flashes and the 'snap', 'snap' sound continued, Ijuuin had the urge to look back once more at Io who was still alone in that corner of the room.

"Moron, the instant I forced you into getting a comeback, you're already in my team," Ijuuin's mind was full of this. He just said it a while ago, but there he was, standing with Minase infront of the crowd, leaving Io in that corner.

The flashes soon disappeared into Ijuuin's eyes and could only see Io despite the distance between them.

The boy was looking at them. At him. But that didn't last long as Io tore gazes and instead looked at the artificial plant beside him. How Io started flicking each fake green leaves with his fingers etched its way in Ijuuin's mind.

It was a picture of someone trying to show a noncaring expression while their pride was being crushed.

And before Ijuuin could even think, he started walking in one direction.

Io stopped his flicking with the leaves as a hiss of restless voice grew louder. When he lifted his gaze from his plant towards the commotion, Io was stunned beyond explanation.

Ijuuin was walking to where Io's corner was with the blinding flashes of cameras following him.

chapter end notes:

let's stop with the cliff hanger first..hahaha..gomenasai for the long wait, ne?



~(__) it's just that i am in the middle of a huge decision for life and got busier...but i am trying my best not to let go of this one passion that contributes to me still being alive!

that's BL and writing! that will never change!

did anybody miss me? hahaa...

thank you for waiting for me and being supportive and patient! *sobs* love you guys!



ps. i missed Io...buwahaha

also i would like to take this opportunity to those who don't know that i post BL Drama CD scenes with their rough translations. I just want to share the goodies. just go to my profile and you'll see the link!