He closed the leather covered notebook with his mind deep in thought. He left it resting on his lap while fixing the rearview mirror of his newly acquired car that had gone a little off. The faint yellowish light of the car light made his black eyes seem like they were burning.
"I don't believe this..." Ijuuin smirked, finally tossing the notebook on the passenger seat. He had scanned that notebook so many times that day and seeing its contents was a bit of a shock to the man.
He watched the other cars leave from their parking slots, his chin resting on his arms pressed against the steering wheel watching the emptying parking area.
"So that's why I'm restless?" he shook his head in disbelief as he expertly made the darkbluish car in the night roar into life. "Ridiculous..."
Around three in the afternoon that day, Ijuuin Kyou found himself not having anything to do in the Arena but just stare at the final rehearsals with deaf ears. He kept on looking at his watch, he kept on changing seats from the seats at the boxes and he kept on sighing.
Fuji who appeared beside him, giving him a document to sign frowned at his boss making such a face. The secretary decided to sit near Ijuuin, watching the huge stage and the figures of young aspiring stars do their routines on the spreading stage in an octagonal shape.
Everyone was busy. After all, tomorrow night would be the big night. Perhaps Ijuuin has gotten used to the clamor and prestige of it all, he had gone immune.
"Fuji...don't I have any appointments for today? A meeting or discussion with the oldies in Sonate perhaps?" Ijuuin asked, eyes fixed at the familiar blonde going to the center of the stage, another brunette following.
Under normal circumstances, Fuji would have looked up the sky looking for pigs flying upon hearing those words. Ijuuin actually was looking for something to do? The man who scowls at him when he presents a schedule full of meetings and discussions? Perhaps Ijuuin was sick himself.
The secretary pushed his eyeglasses on the bridge of his nose and smiled faintly. "No. Everything's done for today until the first week of the new year."
"The days before have always been busy...it feels weird..."
Fuji threw a glance at the darkhaired man one seat apart from him and grinned knowingly. He turned to the black case he had placed on his other side and took a small, a bit tattered notebook. The man placed it on Ijuuin's knees without a word.
Ijuuin looked at Fuji briefly then at the notebook handed to him. He took it, examining the old, scratched-up leather with his fingers.
"Your schedule," Fuji pointed. "I write them down first before entering them to my tablet just in case. You'll see why you're damned bored at this moment."
Ijuuin turned to the pages with a crease on his forehead. The crisp sound of the paper as it was being turned made Fuji look at Ijuuin curiously. He wanted to laugh the moment the composed flipping of pages turned to a fast motion until Ijuuin reached the last page.
"Eight to eleven, session with Io...twelve, lunch...one to six, session with Io..." Ijuuin frowned. "What?"
"Why act so surprised? There were a bit of little meetings in between with the Sonate people and Minase and Usami team but most of the time you've been stuck in the studio with Io," Fuji stood, straightening his suit. "Anyway...I'll go back to the studio for now. You take a rest, tomorrow's the event so go recharge."
Ijuuin waited until Fuji had gone done the stairs, heading to the exit before he looked back at the neat writings on the notebook. He flipped one page after another, realizing that for the past weeks, his schedule unbelievably revolved mostly with and around Io.
Come to think of it, he had never bothered asking why he had no things to do before. After all, he was only busy during major events. Most of the time he was really slacking off, driving everywhere and living the reclusive yet carefree life.
It was downright funny. Instead of being thankful he could go back to the carefree times and rest after this Sonate mayhem, his senses were looking for the day to day routine he had been doing. Without that loud Io following him around, he started feeling restless at the calmness and quietness that it felt something was wrong.
The darkhaired man forced a laugh as he sped off in the highway. Isn't this what 'missing someone badly' feels like?
The snow started falling in a dreamy fashion. Almost like small pieces of marshmallows, it fell without a sound to the ground. Ijuuin found them somehow relaxing, surprised that he could be a man who could be appreciative of these things.
That was why while his other hand was busy holding a box of sweets, his other free hand was busy dusting off the specks of snow that had fallen on his head. People who probably saw him standing outside his car in the hospital parking lot staring at the night sky must have thought he was crazy. Of all the places he could be appreciative of mother nature and the snow, he had to do it at a hospital?
"You better be thankful you're a patient right now..." Ijuuin mumbled through gritted teeth. "Otherwise I would have never lined up that long and wasted fortyfive minutes waiting for these cupcakes..."
The plan of visiting Io together with Minase and Misaki was cancelled abruptly. Io called Ijuuin with that obviously faking nasal voice of his that he was craving for cupcakes. Ijuuin sighed. He refused yet he still went and bought the brunette's request. As he stood in the line of other customers, not knowing the shop Io said was a popular one, Ijuuin searched his brain. Somehow somewhere, it felt like he's been cheated into doing things he never did for anybody.
Ijuuin stood before the familiar door and inhaled the familiar scent of disinfectants. He paid a sweeping glance at the box of colorful cupcakes he bought before reaching out to the knob. Just then he realized that it was not completely closed. A series of annoyed voices and muffled laughter escaped through that space.
Slowly, Ijuuin peaked at the little opening, wondering why he was even acting like a peeping tom. What Ijuuin saw was the back of a blonde and another brunette head. And a silverhaired man's profile calmly drinking tea not far from the three.
"Come on...you gently pry its soft insides open because you want what's inside it..." Io insisted with that teasing face.
Misaki, sitting at the edge of Io's bed gave an exasperated sigh before attempting. "A drawer? A vault?"
Io made a face. "Does a drawer or even a vault feels soft to you?"
Ijuuin's brows started creasing. "What are they talking about?"
The other young male sitting at a foldable chair scratched the back of his neck. "What is wrong with your word games Io...it sounds crazy..."
The patient who was advised to rest and be quiet waived a hand, he then crushed the white pillow he was hugging obviously enjoying the scandalized faces of Minase and Misaki.
"You're both giving up? Be more imaginative will you?" Io glanced at the silverhaired man who seemed to be busy reading something from his phone. "Akihiko-san...soft insides...with something precious in it...any answers?"
Lavender eyes went away from the screen of his phone and looked up. He had only been listening to the teens' silly word games because Io was complaining of being bored. He had nothing to say about Io's mind, the young male was one calliber of his own. And honestly, listening to them made him almost crack up a lot of times, good thing he could still hold it in.
When Io suddenly turned to him, Usami Akihiko felt cornered for a moment but he managed to smile.
"No idea...sorry, " the composer had a couple of answers but he'd rather keep it for himself.
Io clapped and sweetly smiled. "Oysters. I'm talking about oysters and searching for pearls inside it!"
Minase and Misaki looked at each other, both looking tired. They could use some hospital care themselves the way they were.
"What the hell?" Ijuuin thought still standing like a statue outside Io's room.
Drawing a deep breath, Ijuuin decided to just go in and be done with the delivery. However, Io perked up again, this time, more giddy.
"One last word, okay?"
Minase scowled. "Last one alright? I'm getting headaches from playing your games...shouldn't have worried about you..."
The brunette leaned forward, a hard to ignore patch of white bandages was revealed from the opening of his gown. It reminded the people watching him that he still was a recovering person. They had forgotten somehow.
"Okay, okay...Who said this?" Io's voice sounded very lively. It was almost impossible that just some three days ago, he had been sleeping without the slightest movement. Ijuuin didn't know whether to be happy, or angry. Where was all of his worry had drifted for?
Ijuuin stepped to the wall and quietly rested his back against it. He started listening to Io's giggles and shameless words, and he didn't expect it all, he started smiling himself. Disregard the dirty tricks and word choices of Io, but Ijuuin was really enjoying it.
All Io's antics Ijuuin just realized, were almost senseless, yet he came to realize that the falling temperature was no match to Io. If anything, he was starting to take form of a warm light in winter. A star, or a sun.
Ijuuin was gradually becoming drawn to it. As if he was this firefly dancing around a flickering candle, though dangerous, he couldn't turn away. Since when was Io this fascinating?
"It's smelly, and full of stuff and dirty...but I have to still enter inside and do my thing," Io said with all the shady expressions he could muster. "When I hit the right angles...you feel sooooo good you close your eyes and drift in satisfaction..."
"What on Earth?" Minase blurted, looking really scandalized now and about to stand and walk out.
Misaki blushed all too obviously that Io just narrowed his eyes into meaningful slits.
"Oh-ho...Misaki I bet you know the answer, why don't you do the honor?"
"N-no way!" Misaki shouted, pretending to suddenly rummage in his bag. "I've no idea..."
Usami Akihiko who had been quietly reading and seeping tea at the corner of the spacious room, started having his shoulders shaking terribly.
Misaki threw a glare at his Usagi-san but Usami just shrugged. Obviously amused at the almost dead now breaming with energy Io, he had to thank the teen for making Misaki make such a face.
"Seriously, what is in your heads people?" Io asked, grinning stupidly. His cheeks that had gained the prettiest glow gleamed with glee. "It's so easy."
"Well? What's the answer then?!" Minase barked.
"Cottonbuds," Ishi replied with the most coaxing smile as he motioned his hand to his ear as if he was really holding something. "Ah...feels so good..."
Minase stared dumbfounded, with an equally thrown-off Misaki near him. And at the corner of the room, the silverhaired man who was about sipping his tea leasurely started just choking on his own.
"See? Ne Akihiko-san? It's a good one right?!"
Usami smiled tightly. The man would just really burst out laughing if he wasn't able to restrain himself. He gave a soft smile as he shook his head sideways, swallowing the tea stuck in his throat.
"Ano ne...our brains just don't go on the same wavelenght as yours you know?" Minase hissed.
"Oh come on...you were thinking of something dirty just now!" Io accused while laughing.
Minase looked like he had given up completely. "You and your sexual innuendos..."
Contrary to the laughing Io earlier, the silverhaired man already noticed Io stiffling a yawn. Even Minase and Misaki noticed this. That was why they all, thinking possibly of the same thing, stood in unison.
Io looked up, hand on his mouth. "Eh...you're all leaving? Let's play some more."
Usami stepped up and rested his chin on top of Misaki's head which earned him a jab at the stomach. He didn't even budge. "We have to. You're sleepy now aren't you? Besides...Minase and Misaki here has to rest for tomorrow nigh-"
Slip of the tongue. Usami and the two other males have agreed not to mention anything about the Sonate if Io wouldn't be bringing it up first. Another jab at his stomach and Usami forced a smile while ruffling Misaki's head before him.
"You two, go on ahead, I'll talk with Io for a bit."
Misaki turned to look over his shoulder, watching his man's face. Minase who was a quiet observer couldn't help but think that that look Takahashi was giving off was a 'make it quick' order by a lover. The blonde raised a hand, massaging his neck with a forced smile. He was sensing tension. Maybe even a hint of jealousy.
Of course, Usami knew this better than anyone else and was already doing some summersaults inside his demented head. However, he just grabbed Misaki's hand and handed him his keys with a meaningful grin. "I'll pamper you later," Usami mouthed.
It only earned a scowl on Misaki's face despite the embarassing tint on his cheeks. He turned to Io and gave a slight nod.
"We're going then Io...rest well..."
Minase just waived a hand and headed for the door first. Misaki followed behind. When the door finally was empty, Usami closed in the gap between him and Io's bed.
"It's a good thing we came here...I had a good laugh. Pretty much waived the nervousness those two have as well..."
The brunette nodded, pinching the pillow on his lap randomly. "Good luck for tomorrow."
Ijuuin who went away for a smoke and some thinking saw two figures that just went out from Io's room. Both were talking in hushed voices and didn't notice him. Ijuuin didn't call out either. He had no will for some reason.
The box of cupcakes swaying at his side, Ijuuin paused when he heard his name from inside Io's room.
"I thought Ijuuin would be dropping by?" Usami asked with a bit of a frown.
Io shook his head. "I called him and asked him for something...but he's not the kind to scramble to his feet just because of my call."
"Hmmm..." Usami slowly darted his eyes to the sudden shadow that appeared just by the open door. He didn't mention anything and just smiled at Io. "I see...but I guess you have a guardian watching over you."
"Guardian?" Io blinked. "I already sent my Grandpa and Kanata home because I am fine already. Having them stare at me all day doesn't really help my wound heal faster. Besides, they have some deadlines too with their broken instruments that need tending..."
"You know you can have everything you desire...but not just all at once right? They fall in place one by one. Keep that in mind."
The teen smiled broadly. "I have a palace in construction and now in a halt Akihiko-san. The building up is so slow and I am feeling helpless about it. But I guess...it's just because the foundation is being prioritized? So the next time an earthquake comes...it's going to be tough."
"Yup. Ijuuin thought me that. My palace and the dark knight...they'll fall in my hands one day. I'll keep that in mind. Hehe..."
Usami gently patted the kid on the shoulder once before turning away. "Happy New Year and recover fast...So you can return to the stage."
Io watched Usami's broad back as the man started heading for the door. The teen's lips turned into a lopsided grin, a challenge he could only say at Usami's face without even batting an eyelash.
"Akihiko-san...if I return to the stage...your Misaki will be overthrown. Be prepared."
Right the moment Usami set foot out of the room, he smirked at the owner of the shadow he saw earlier and turned at Io.
"I salute your guts," the silverhaired composer muttered before closing the door.
Usami only paid a slight nod at Io's 'dark knight' as what the kid had called him and turned away. They didn't really talk if there was nothing to talk about. As long as everyone keep their hands away from each other's businessess, they'd live in peace.
On the other side of the wall, Io slumped on his back, blanket about sliding on the floor. He had a sour face as he rolled to his side staring at the dreamy scene outside his window. That falling snow romantically falling in slow motion irritated him.
"He didn't really come?!" Io hissed, almost biting the pillow under his head.
He started rolling and tossing that the sound of his bed could actually be heard as metal clanking from outside his door. As minutes passed by after getting tired, the snow from his window turned into a mess of white blotches until he drifted into his dreamland.
In the dim, quiet and careful steps of polished shoes made an entrance. They halted completely before the bed and stayed there. The box of cupcakes found themselves sitting at the bedside table where a half-filled glass of water and a bottle of tablets were resting.
A long fingered hand grabbed the fallen blanket and cautiously placed them back on the sleeping kid to make it serve its purpose. And when everything seemed in place, Ijuuin stepped back.
Even in the dim, his black eyes looked like a raging sea. He anxiously watched over Io's form as if he had stopped breathing.
Fuji said rest? Ijuuin had shot arrows to shoot it down. There was no way he could rest now. Not like this. Not until he cleared this. He had a lot of searching and sorting to do.
Ijuuin grew stiff for a fraction of a second. He thought Io was awake. Yet the kid just rolled to his back and snored lightly, frowning and scowling for a few seconds.
"Even in your sleep you look like you're having a fight," Ijuuin mumbled exasperatedly as he attempted pulling Io back to the center of the bed. Otherwise the kid would fall flat on the floor, hello another injury. "What angel and angel's breath? You're a war freak..."
Firmly grabbing Io's shoulders, very slightly sliding a hand under the kid's back, he placed Io back neatly on the bed. It was like carrying a ragdoll. Io's head just fell back, exposing the skin of his throat. Ijuuin stared. He hadn't noticed it before. Io had two moles just below his jaw.
When Io squirmed at the discomfort, Ijuuin went back to his senses, tucking the dead asleep young male properly on the bed.
The 'dark knight' poked the dewy skin on Io's cheek with his finger very lightly. As if someone just blew a breath against the skin to tease. The more Ijuuin stared at Io, the more the crease on his forehead deepened.
Ijuuin was clueless about it. He didn't know of its existence. Yet just now, exactly the moment he heard a 'thump' he was sure coming from his own core, he was taken aback. He realized that it already has taken deep roots. He had reached the point where he couldn't anymore ignore and betray the little sensations plucking at his chest.
The man gave a self mocking grin. The 'continuation' he said back then was a half-empty and confused promise. That moment, it wasn't the case.
"I am allowing you to eat one of that...understood?"
Io puffed his cheeks as he stared at the box of cupcakes sitting on his lap. His doctor who came to check and change his bandages found it odd that Io was just staring at the sweets with a gleeful grin.
"But it's a waste if I ate them..."
The man gave a friendly smile before writing something in his notepad. "Your guardian strictly told us to only allow you eat one after a meal you know?"
The kid turned to the doctor and started laughing. "Really..." he opened the box and poked an icing out. "What a stingy guy..." Io mumbled to himself but he obviously looked happy. "Should I surprise him? Will he see me?"
He had turned off his phone and never touched his laptop that day. He couldn't help but feel frustrated everytime a news about Sonate was being mentioned. The entire day, he was only lying on his bed, imagining what Ijuuin could possibly be thinking when the man left the cupcakes last night.
Having stayed in the room like a good kid, until the light gave way to the dark, Io noticed the fireworks from his room window. The Sonate has started.
Io pulled a black and gold striped hoody properly on his head. For a teen who was trying not to get noticed, his get-up was a bit of an attention grabber.
Standing at the area where the most expensive tickets was sold, the front of the stage where only a few select was given the chance to watch, Io blended with the others. He watched the grand stage glittering, the gigantic screens showing a sweeping view of the entire Arena with excited fans and watchers. Everywhere he looked, the fans were wearing the same expressions on their faces. The looked all the same to him, male or female.
Some band was playing and every slam coming from the drums sent everyone's chest trembling as well. The smoke, reached to them, accompanied by the screams all coming from all directions.
Io bitterly smiled. This was the stage that turned out to be better than he had expected.
"Hey...hey...doesn't he look familiar?" a whispery voice asked to the girl beside her. And then both girls wearing a 'Minase Daisuke' banner looked at Io from head to foot.
"I know right? Somehow...he looks like Io?"
"Hah...that's stupid...he's still in a coma..."
"Too bad for him...he's missing out the event of the year..."
Io could only suck his breath controlling himself before he grabbed onto the bun of the girl near him.
"Too bad for me?" Io hissed to himself, tugging his hood, pulling it to his face as much as he could. "I have cupcakes waiting for me you'd die to get your hands on..."
The half of the show continued. Explosions of lights enveloped the entire arena, at the same time chantings of names and hootings filled all corners. It vibrated like a tremor, the arena was shaking.
At an elevated space hidden to the eyes of the fans, Misaki was standing. A black curtain was timidly pushed to the side and he felt like fainting on his spot. This was way too bigger than the Sonate Competition. All those pumped up fans, the raging music, and the excited performers behind him made him nervous. There was no getting used to this. All performances felt like it was his first and he dejectedly looked to his side where a full sized mirror was resting.
The teen couldn't almost recognize himself. How the magic of the professional stylists turned him to a different person outside amazed him. Yet he was still the nervous wreck inside.
"It's still about an hour before our turn..." Misaki mumbled as he looked out again. And then his hold to the curtain tightened. Despite that distance, this waiting area was still close to the VIP sections where girls who paid thousands and thousands of yen paid just to get that close to the stage. He narrowed his eyes which the corners were glittered in a slight shimmery gold. "Io...?"
The curiosity in Misaki won over.
Io was stifling a laugh. One of the girls dancing on the stage had accidentally tossed a high heeled shoe out and to the technical staff just below. The show must still go on however, she had no time to remove the other that she was starting to look like a limp donkey on the stage.
"Oh my god...way to go Miss..." Io mumbled, trying to shoo away the annoying patting he was feeling for a while now against his shoulder. He thought it was just a hand from a fangirl who couldn't contain herself. However, it kept on going that he started getting annoyed.
Rolling his eyes, Io gazed at the annoying finger in a downward gaze. Slowly he lifted his green eyes reflecting the gold and silver colors of the stage. And then an equally surprised eyes met his.
"Misaki?" Io whispered. A series of annoyed expressions flashed before Io's face hidden by the shadows of his hood before he stepped closer to the other. "Idiot...what the hell are you doing down here?"
"I just wanted to make sure it's you...but...you're supposed to be in the hospital right? It's dangerous here..." Misaki whispered back.
Io looked at Misaki from head to foot. Aside from the all black coat and a black cap Misaki was using to disguise himself, there was nothing else.
"I was safe here just a while ago...not now if people realized it's the 'Sonate Winner' standing beside me...what were you thinking? Go back now."
Misaki frowned and tugged at Io's arm. "People could get pretty hyped up here and start going into a stampede later...you're injured so go further ahead where it's safer."
"I'm alright here...I only came here to watch Ijuuin's closing speech you know..."
"I understand but..."
What Misaki was fearing happened. It happened to him.
A girl who was raising a banner for another performer currently singing on the stage accidentally hit the side of Misaki's black cap. The cap went up and flew in a C manner before it disappeared into the sea of eager fans who have dropped their jaws when they saw who was with them.
"Oh my god..."
Io stepped away, not wanting to be involved in the uproar that was happening near him.
Misaki started bowing, smiling the moment he could no longer pretend he was just another watcher. The coat he was wearing has been torn off from him. And girls just freely grabbed on to his arms and shoulders. They were about to eat him alive.
Io who was just very near to the scene watched with a blank face. There was no point in trying to help Misaki the way he was anyway. For sure the bouncers have noticed this already, better just wait for help.
The teen then faced the front and his face half hidden by shadows and dancing lights went pale. It did when Ijuuin's familiar face and appealing form showed up standing before him.
The way Ijuuin was looking at him directly, Io was so sure Ijuuin recognized him.
Io was about to smile and raised a hand to waive at the reason why he came there in the first place, yet Ijuuin stepped not to him but towards Misaki being plagued by eager fans. The unbelievable thing was Ijuuin had not darted his eyes away from Io even when he was going to Misaki's rescue.
Having an expressionless face with that ghostly complexion, Io's eyes started to redden as his half-raised hand went to clutch the zipper of his jacket near his throat.
How touching. They looked so good together. Ijuuin and Misaki, escaping the threatening love and adoration of the fans. How Ijuuin protected Misaki with his arms around the younger male. How Misaki had no choice but to press himself against Ijuuin's protective cover. It was beautiful.
That slow motion, beautiful scene was a pain in Io's chest.
On the side of the stage, an angry Usami emerged. He had been called for an interview for the event at the back of the stage. Having not the time to fly the moment of realizing that Misaki was being surrounded in the midst of hyper fans annoyed him even more. The most annoying thing of all was the arms circled around Misaki as the teen was being ushered back to the safety of the side stage where only performers and the technical staff and TV crews could stay.
"Ijuuin..." the silverhaired man hissed.
"Hey! Takahashi-san! Takahashi-san!"
The crazy girls screamed even when the bouncers who came just a little after Ijuuin was trying to push them towards where they should be. The girls and the few males have already crossed the area where they should stay. The huge men were having a hard time shooing them without hurting them. But the girls didn't seem to bother that they were hurting the bouncers.
Io, standing coldly dead on his two feet just looked at Ijuuin's back with Misaki's crouched form beside him. He couldn't even think of anything but his feet started walking as if running after the two. He felt ridiculous becoming the typical second lead of low rated dramas. He didn't really want to cry. And he didn't. His eyes may be reddening but that was all he would allow himself to show.
How many times could he endure this? Even when it was him, for sure he had limits.
Suddenly the glow of the stage disappeared in his eyes. The amazing music blasting in his eardrums lost its appeal. And everything turned ugly.
"Hey, fans are off limits here!" a deep voice of a man said sternly, grabbing Io by the arm. "Please go back to the designated area."
"Don't touch me," Io growled, yanking his arm off of the man's grip.
"What? Are you out of your mind?"
Io raised his face only the tall man could see. A few seconds passed and a look of recognition flashed on the man's face. He quickly withdrew his hand off of the teen's arm and backed away.
"Sorry, but aren't you supposed to-"
Io turned away ignoring the man. Because of that, the man chose to leave the obviously not-in-mood teen.
Left alone, standing in that spot, Io gritted his teeth. At the side of the stage, he watched the protective Ijuuin escort Misaki. Another figure of a man was there waiting, a silverhaired man became reunited with them.
Io laughed as he looked down. His face hidden by his hair falling on his face, by his hood shielding such embarrassment, he bit down on his lips. "Am I the shadow here? You saw me...you looked at me and then that?"
The teen blinked away the hotness in his eyes and balled his hands into fists. He made an exit. A limp running towards where he could hide.
Something must have snapped somewhere in Usami's head seeing those pesky arms around Misaki. Did Ijuuin really need to show that he was superman that night or something? Before the man could even hiss and attempt grabbing Misaki away from Ijuuin, to Usami and Misaki's surprise, it was Ijuuin who freely pushed Misaki towards Usami's chest.
"Are you okay?" Ijuuin asked in a hurry.
Misaki only could nod at the series of events.
"Well...take care," the darkhaired man said in a low voice before turning to look at where they came from. His face couldn't be painted. At the slow running of someone away from the eager fans, Ijuuin softly cursed.
He left Usami and Misaki without any more words and ran towards the retreating, sorry form of someone dressed with the color of gold. Even in the dark and sea of people, there was not a way Ijuuin would lose him.
Usami knitted his brows. Take care? When he traced where Ijuuin was running to, he somehow realized something that may not be very obvious but was very clear to him. He sighed and grabbed Misaki's shoulders firmly.
"Did you get hurt?"
"No...but...Ijuuin-sensei looked weird..."
"Forget about it..." Usami smiled, placing his own arm around his lover's shoulders, ushering him back to the waiting area for the closing performers so they could rest.
He had dragged his feet with all his strenght but he just got too tired very easily that his running turned to a staggering walk. He walked finding his way out, remembering the exit area facing the parking lot. The same where he had let Uruha in.
Io rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand before continuing. He was really utterly hurt this time. What was Ijuuin playing? How could that man go to Misaki, grab Misaki protectively while looking at Io that way at the same time?
Io was too confused with self-pity and demeaning thoughts to process things.
After making a lot of turns, after almost slamming against corners, Io finally remembered his way and had bowed his head out of exaustion. He went on, sucking his breath and calming his heart.
"You'll never get away anywhere fast with that pace."
The brunette raised his bowed head and saw a hazy form standing blocking the exit. He blinked a couple of times to clear his view and when it did, he looked away again and continued heading to the exit even when there was a man that didn't seem like he would move one step away.
"Move," Io hissed, pushing Ijuuin away from the exit. It had no effect. He was so upset beyond words that he didn't even want to see the man's face.
After a series of making Ijuuin go away to no avail, Io gave up. Huffing he glared at Ijuuin, his hood falling off his head revealing his face.
"You're not the only one who could 'ignore' people Ijuuin."
Ijuuin loosened his suffocating tie, looking towards the ceiling as if he was searching for something. Right there, Ijuuin then saw himself reflected from the ever remembering and dutiful CCTV camera lens at one corner.
The man instantly looked back at the glaring teen before him, took Io by the arm and dragged Io at a blind spot. He had realized that CCTV blind spot due to his boredom. How funny, it became handy.
"What are you doing?!" Io spat as he was dragged into a corner deprived of lighting but was bright enough to still figure out who was with him. "Just because I am an idiot who is head over heels for you, doesn't mean you can always do this to me...you frigid bastard..."
The firm hand holding Io's arm loosened. And then Ijuuin gave Io space as he stepped back a little. For a long while, they allowed themselves be drowned by the distant sound of the music being played on the stage and the faraway shouts and cheerings of the fans. They sounded so far away as if Ijuuin and Io had stepped into a secluded world.
"Did you see that?" the man quietly asked.
Io frowned. "What? See what?" the teen asked incredulously and then spitefully smiled. "Ahh... If you're asking me if I saw you taking Misaki in your arms, being his knight even when he already has someone, and leaving me completely as if I didn't exist, yeah. I saw it damned clearly even when this stupid vision of mine couldn't get focused. Thanks for your New Year's gift."
Ijuuin drew a deep breath and darted his eyes towards the floor as if thinking.
Io stepped forward accusingly. "Is that a new game of yours? To see how long this crazy brat can last? Are you doing this so I would stop bothering you?"
"I did that because I want to show you something."
"Show me you still can't let go of him?" Io threw sarcastically.
"You're not looking at it the way I want you to Io," Ijuuin calmly said, locking gazes with the confused teen before him. "It's quite the opposite..."
Ijuuin leaned forward, his hands that were resting on his sides suddenly held on to Io's shoulders securing him in place. As if holding Io physically wasn't enough, he eyed Io close enough for them to see each others' reflections in their eyes.
"Can't you read between the important lines?"
Io just stared hard at Ijuuin with his eyes wide open.
"I brought Takahashi to Usami."
chapter end notes:
because it's been exactly two weeks...it's been a long chappy! hehe..busy busy busy...XD
this is probably one of the chappies that i really really enjoyed writing. i love showing Io's quirks and Ijuuin's plight.
please share your thoughts and thanks for the guests and the FF users always always cheering me on!
there's a new cover art! please check it out!