Shuichi sits in the living room of the apartment that he and Hiroshi share, watching videos of Bad Luck's performances. He's completely blown away. This sound – it's much more improved than the music he made back in high school with Hiro, which is funny to think when it feels like he was back in school just yesterday, getting scolded for tardiness and poor grades.
The Rage Beat. Blind Game Again. Glaring Dream. All of these songs – Shuichi wrote the lyrics to them and sung them wonderfully. Obviously, he had practiced his vocals more over the years. He's reached an outstanding level.
Tears roll down his cheeks. He becomes more and more choked up with each song he sees. He did it. He made his dream come true. All of those years of creating and tweaking tunes on his synthesizer, and working on his range had paid off.
He smiles and swipes his tears away with his sleeve, giving a watery laugh. "We did it." Shuichi whispers to himself.
"Hmm, this is quite unusual." Kanna muses, looking over the manuscript that Mr. Yuki gave her. The title of the piece is Misgivings, which is a tale of a tragic heroine named Hikari, who sacrificed herself in order to save her lover's life. In the past, Mr. Yuki has written novels about love and death, but this one is different. It seems to be a bit more on the sentimental side.
Eiri glares at Mizuki, who's seated on the chair opposite his. He's busted his ass typing up that story for over a month, pulling all-nighters, getting high off caffeine, and doing research – not to mention, he's been lazing about in boredom waiting for her to finish scanning through the damn thing – just to be told that.
"How so?" He asks, coldly.
As usual, Mizuki isn't daunted by his iciness. She just smiles it off like she always does. How irritating.
"The heroine hasn't been betrayed by her lover and her death isn't as gruesome as the other deaths you have written." Kanna points out. Perhaps this meant that things were looking up for Mr. Yuki?
Eiri chuckles, darkly. "Would you prefer a huge bloodbath instead of what is presented?"
"Not at all. Just making an observation. I take it that things are more stable in your life?"
"Don't make such stupid assumptions based on what you've read. Fiction is fiction."
"I suppose you're right." Her smile expands. "In any case, I congratulate you on another job well done." She gets up and straightens out her skirt. "I'm looking forward to your next novel."
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Just leave already." Eiri growls. He doesn't care for all of this polite shit. Aside from that, he's tired as fuck and has to catch up on some sleep.
"Take care." Mizuki says before she heads to the door, the manuscript tucked underneath her arm. He slips on her heels and exits the condo to see a familiar man approaching. He's that guy in the band Bad Luck with Mr. Shindou. Hiroshi Nakano.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Nakano." She greets, amiably, giving a slight bow of the head.
Hiroshi returns the gesture, recognizing her as Kanna Mizuki, Mr. Yuki's editor. "Good afternoon" He says, just as friendly.
"You here to see Mr. Yuki?"
"I advise you to take it easy on him. He just pulled another all-nighter and he's very cranky."
"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind."
Mr. Mizuki walks by him, her heels clacking. Once she's out of sight, the smile slips off his face. Shit. Turns out he caught Mr. Yuki at a bad time. There's no telling if he'll listen to Hiroshi's reasoning. But now's as good a time as any. That bastard was hardly ever in a good mood. Why should this time be any different?
He takes a deep breath and raps his knuckles on the door. No answer. A corner of Hiro's mouth is tugged downward. Could he be ignoring him or has he crashed? Hiroshi knocks again, louder this time.
He hears a loud groan come from inside before the door is yanked open. "What the hell do you want?" Eiri growls. He was just getting comfortable on the couch when the incessant knocking started. God, he doesn't need this shit right now – whatever that shit may be. He just needs sleep, damn it!
"I can see you're much more of a curmudgeon than usual so I'll get to the point. As soon as you can, tell the press that you and Shuichi are through." Hiroshi says, standing his ground. He doesn't give a crap how grumpy Mr. Yuki is. All he cares about is ensuring that Mr. Yuki will do this.
Eiri grins. "What nerve you have, demanding this of me."
"What are you talking about? I thought you'd be jumping at the chance to do this."
"Really now? You thought wrong."
Mr. Yuki is about to slam the door in his face, but Hiroshi steps forward, using his hand and foot to keep the door ajar. "Haven't you had enough?" Hiroshi snarls. "Shuichi actually has a chance at true happiness now without you in the picture. Don't you dare ruin that for him."
Eiri's brows knit in curiosity. "What do you mean by true happiness?"
"Oh, you care about Shuichi, all of a sudden?" Hiroshi laughs, mirthlessly. "Don't make me laugh. He's not yours anymore, Mr. Yuki, and he won't be yours ever again. Not if I have anything to say about it."
Before Eiri can think, he lunges at Hiroshi's collar. Hiroshi grunts in surprise and glowers at him. "Who is Shuichi involved with?" He asks, grounding each word out.
K peers through his binoculars, seeing the cars down below. He agreed to watch Shuichi in Hiroshi's place. And during this time, he's decided to be productive by calling Suguru over to re-introduce him to Shuichi. The sooner Shuichi gets back in the swing of things, the better. They can't hide away from the media forever.
A taxi pulls up in front of the building and K sees a person in a hat come out. Then he knows it's Fugisaki when he does the signal: patting his head three times. K puts the binoculars down and joins Shuichi in the living room. He smiles when he sees that Shuichi is watching recent Bad Luck concerts as well as music videos. Excellent. Great progress is being made today.
He stands to the side of Shuichi, whose eyes are still glued to the TV. "I must warn you now, Shuichi, as great as this life is, it can also be really overwhelming. Your life is on display for the world to see and while fans will be sympathetic with your situation, they'll still expect the best out of you. But I also want you to know that I'll do my best to assist you in any way that I can. Surely, the same can be said for Hiro, and even Fugisaki."
Shuichi smirks. "I appreciate the concern, Mr. K, but I think I can handle the pressure. I can hardly wait to perform in front of an audience again, and it makes me ecstatic that the audiences will be a whole lot bigger than they were in high school."
K ruffles Shuichi's head, affectionately. "Some things never change. Your self-confidence is still intact."
The doorbell rings and K lets Fugisaki inside. Once the door is closed, Fugisaki takes off the hat as well as the sunglasses that K lent him, giving them back to the owner.
"How's he doing?" Suguru asks, slipping his shoes off before padding into the apartment.
"He's doing well. He's in the living room, watching Bad Luck videos." K leads Fugisaki there.
Shuichi stands up once he sees Fugisaki.
"Hello, Mr. Shindou. It's good to see that you're alive and well."
"Thanks. And hey, there's no need to be so formal. Just call me Shuichi."
Fugisaki gives him an odd look. Then Shuichi remembers that he's older now. He's five years this kid's senior.
He's not in high school anymore.
"Oh, um, sorry about that. I just…"
"There's no need for an apology, Mr. Shindou. I can only imagine how hard this is for you."
There's a long, awkward silence. It's not easy talking to this kid. Then again, Hiro did say that he and Fugisaki were often butting heads, and didn't share a close relationship like he did with Mr. Sakuma.
K coughs, pulling Shuichi out of his head. "I'll go make some tea. That ought to loosen the tension a bit."
Ryuichi takes a gulp from his water bottle, having just completed a recording for his next CD, River Eyes. The last minute song added to the CD was called Forest of the Forgotten, a song he wrote last night. His run-in with Shuichi has really shaken him. It scared him when he heard that Shuichi bumped his head.
Bumps on the head can be fatal, even after the fact. After he got a concussion one time for falling down the stairs, K told him that he'd be more prone to serious head injuries if he weren't careful. He should've told K to wrap Shuichi's head with pillows. That'd be helpful in breaking any and all falls that Shuichi might have.
"What's wrong, Ryuichi?" Tohma asks.
"Hmm, Kumagorou is safe and sound, thanks to Noriko, but…" Ryuichi trails off, holding Kumagorou's soft, furry body close to his chest.
Noriko gives an irritated sigh. By the looks of it, Ryuichi is on the verge of tears, and the last thing she wants to deal with right now is his waterworks. "Just come out with it already!"
Guess it was too much to ask for one day without Ryuichi's dramatics. She thinks.
"Noriko," he whines. "Why are you yelling at me? You're so mean!"
She crosses her arms over her chest and frowns, feeling guilty for her outburst. Noriko has been feeling exasperated all day, and as much fun as being in the band in, she's had enough of Ryuichi's childish antics. It's like she came to work to babysit, and on most days, she can tolerate it, but not today.
"Sorry. I got cramps." Noriko admits without embarrassment nor shame. She's a woman. It's only natural that she gets her period.
"Cramps?" Ryuichi echoes. He got those whenever he ran too much or stretched the wrong way. Those hurt real bad. It's a good thing K taught him how to overcome cramps. He sets Kumagorou atop his head and jogs over to Noriko, taking her by the hand, ready to assist her. "Walk it off and it'll go away. I know it hurts so squeeze my hand whenever you feel pain, ok?"
Tohma laughs. Ryuichi's obliviousness can be quite endearing from time to time.
"I'm not suffering from those kinds of cramps, you idiot." Noriko retorts. She should've known. Of course, Tohma would know what kinds of cramps she meant. He had a wife, after all. Ryuichi, on the other hand, had the brain of a five year old.
"Really? What other kinds of cramps are there?"
"Ugh, never mind that! Just tell us what your deal is."
"I really, really miss Shuichi and I'm really worried about him! He hit his head, you know!"
"Yeah, I know. That's the only reason why he's able to put up with you."
"Noriko, I'm being serious! He had to go to the hospital because he got a bad concussion and now he has amnesia."
Noriko and Tohma are surprised. In that case, it's no wonder why Bad Luck hasn't shown up at NG for the past three days. Three days prior, K had told Tohma that Bad Luck will be taking the week off as vacation time. However, he did not specify as to why they were. This must be why. Tohma thinks.
"Damn, that's horrible." Noriko says, sympathetic.
"How much has he forgotten?" Tohma wonders.
"K told me that his memories only go as far as his sophomore year in high school."
"Hmm…this proves to be a double-edged sword."
"A double-edged sword?" Noriko repeats, befuddled.
"How so?" Ryuichi asks, seriously. Tohma can't possibly mean that Shuichi getting hurt was a good thing. Can he?
"Pardon me for thinking out loud. Let's continue our session, shall we?" Tohma smiles.
It's strange. Eiri can't stop thinking about what Hiroshi told him; how Shuichi has a thing for Sakuma now. He tries to convince himself that this is beneficial for him. That Shuichi always bothered the hell out of him.
But a nagging thought keeps resurfacing again and again, no matter how hard he tries to push it down. Eiri doesn't want Shuichi to be with Sakuma. He wants Shuichi to come back to him.
Eiri grits his teeth as he drives, resisting the urge to slam his foot on the gas. He'd rather avoid an accident and a trip to the hospital. He has some business with Sakuma to take care of.
He parks his car in front of NG, and slams the car door shut, stalking towards the entrance. The doorman blocks his way and reproaches him. "You can't park there, sir!"
Eiri juts his keys at the guy and reaches into his wallet for a fifty, handing it to the doorman. "Park it for me." He says, leaving no room for argument.
As expected, the doorman's brown eyes glisten with greed. "Of course, sir."
Eiri storms into the building, remembering that Nittle Grasper records in Studio 10. Without knocking, he barges into the room. Ukai, Seguchi, and Sakuma all turn to him, surprised at his sudden appearance.
"Eiri, what are you doing here?" Tohma asks. "Is there something wrong?"
"Yeah. Sakuma," Eiri barks, causing him to jump. For a minute, he glares at Sakuma, and second thoughts rise. He might want Shuichi back. But what about Shuichi? What does he want? "If I find out that you pressured him into anything, I won't hesitate to beat the shit out of you. Are we clear?"
Ryuichi glowers. "I'm not like you."
Eiri's eyes narrow. "Don't get cocky. You can't have him so easily."
"You're talking about Mr. Shindou." Tohma realizes. "But Eiri, he doesn't remember you. Your life will be better without him."
"Shut up!" Tohma flinches. "Don't tell me what will make my life better. You don't know me."
"Where is this coming from, Eiri? How can you say that after all we've been through?"
"Stop with all of the sentimental crap, Seguchi."
"Yuki," Ryuichi starts, earning the man's scowl. "Mark my words. If you pressure him back into your life, I will show no mercy."
"Heh, I'd like to see you try." Eiri sneers.
"Eiri, stop this!" Tohma demands.
Ryuichi's blood is spiking at the challenge. He tries to contain himself, but he's about to explode, and he's about to launch himself at Yuki and strangle him. Noriko jumps to hold him back. Ryuichi struggles to break free from her hold, just rearing to go.
"I will not let you make him miserable again." Ryuichi spats.
Eiri snorts, and turns to leave. Tohma takes him by the arm. "Think about what you're doing, Eiri. Diving back into any relationship, whether it be with Mr. Shindou or not, is unwise. You still have more healing to do." He urges.
Eiri shrugs him off and leaves.
"Eiri?" Tohma calls out, but he's ignored. His heart sinks in his chest. He can't believe how fickle Eiri can be about his feelings in regards to Mr. Shindou. One minute the love is there, the next minute that love turns into hate. Even now, after all of these years, Eiri still hasn't reconnected with himself. He's still grappling, fighting a war of contradictions within himself, and it pains Tohma to witness such a struggle.
More than anything, he wants Eiri to be happy, free from the demons of his past.
Hiroshi returns home, feeling foolish. It turned out that his demands of Mr. Yuki didn't pan through as well as he hoped they would. He really can't figure out that guy. First, he doesn't want to have anything to do with Shuichi, and then he does a complete 180 and wants him back? No, it doesn't work that way. Hiroshi refuses to allow Mr. Yuki to treat Shuichi like some cheap whore any longer.
He takes off his shoes and heads to the living room where Shuichi is watching videos of them back in high school. The tape he's watching now is of when they performed at prom. Hiroshi's older brother, Yuji, had helped them with their instruments by driving them to and from prom in his van. Yuji also taped this performance as well as other events during prom – like when they had professional pictures taken, when Hiroshi danced with his date Emiko, and when they were goofing around in and out of the van.
"Hey, Hiro, where have you been?" Shuichi asks, a pocky stick in his mouth.
"Just went to have lunch with my brother." Hiroshi lies.
"Really? Why couldn't he come over here and have lunch with the both of us?"
"He's on break right now at his job and he couldn't travel all the way over here. He works at that downtown Sushi place, you know."
"You couldn't have brought me along?"
"Shuichi, I don't think it would have been good for you to ride on my motorcycle. Besides, you have to rest, and stay out of the public eye until you're fully recovered. There's no telling when fans will come out at you. In fact, I ran into a few of them myself. They were a couple of school girls. From Motomishi High, I think."
"Ooh, looks like you're still popular with the ladies, huh?"
Hiroshi chuckles and gets a coke from the mini-fridge that stands atop the table in the corner, getting one for Shuichi too. Then he plops down on the couch beside Shuichi, handing him the cold can, receiving immediate thanks. "I have a girlfriend, you know." Hiroshi grins.
Shuichi elbows him, slyly. "Good going. What's her name? What's she like?"
Dreamily, Hiroshi goes on and on about Ayaka Usami, telling Shuichi all there is to know about her. Well, expect the fact that she was Eiri Yuki's fiancé at one point, not like Shuichi would know who that is.
Shuichi remains silent after Hiroshi's ardent elaboration. It seems like they've really found a place in the world – he and Hiroshi. But he can't help but feel a missing link in all of this – those being his memories.
Shuichi strokes the chilled can of the coke with his thumb, staring at the rim. "Tell me something, Hiro. Have I changed over the years?"
Hiroshi takes a moment to think over his answer. "In some ways. You're much happier now, that's for sure. I remember what you told me on our first day of recording. You said that you were happy to be rid of that shitty job you had as a busboy."
Shuichi gives a hearty laugh.
"I know that you're much closer with your family now. I guess it's as the saying goes: distance makes the heart grow fonder. Mostly, though, you're the same hard-working, passionate guy that you've always been."
Shuichi gives him a bright smile. "Thank you, Hiro."
"For making me feel better. I guess I was afraid that I'd disappoint everyone if I was too different, you know what I'm saying?"
So that's what that frown was about. Hiroshi thinks.
He flicks Shuichi's forehead. "Don't be stupid. You're not disappointing anybody. So don't worry about what you can't remember. No matter how much you forget, you still have the gravitational pull that you've always had. Just be yourself and you'll be fine."
Shadowfox13: Yuki is gonna do something, but certainly not with his big boy pants on. Rest assured, Ryuichi is gonna win Shuichi this time around. Yeah, I wanted to do something different with an amnesia-based storyline. :)
Guest: THAT I SHALL. :D
CreCra: Thank you so much, sweetie! So glad that you're enjoying the story so far. :)