“Okay, I admit it…I need help. I don’t think I can do this by myself. I understand if none of you want to help me, I honestly don’t deserve it.” Aoi had asked his bandmates to his flat, essentially to ask for help, and eventually forgiveness. “I don’t want to do formal therapy, like seeing a shrink or some shit.” Kai took the initiative in speaking for the band. “What are your goals, Aoi? You’re asking us to help you…help you do what?”
After the night that Reita came over and bitch slapped him for sending the nasty text to Yuki, accusing him of sleeping with Yusuke of Lynch, Aoi finally had hit bottom. That night he got no sleep, instead he went through his life and his accomplishments and failures, weighing each. Sadly, he had more failures than not, something he had never admitted to himself before, his failed relationships with Reita and Yuki at the top of the list.
Aoi cried that night more than he could ever remember, sobbing like a child with his face buried in his pillow. There were no phone calls or texts, no one concerned about his well being at that moment, everyone had deserted him, tired of his bullshit behavior. He had thought about calling his sister, then remembered the names he had called her when she kicked him out of her home…with that last thought, he knew he was truly alone.
Reita wouldn’t look at him, Ruki had his nose in his phone, not giving a shit as he had told Aoi several times, Kai and Uruha the only one’s listening intently. “My goal is not to be an asshole anymore, to um, rediscover who Shiroyama Yuu is. As for how you can help me…I don’t even know, I just want to make sure you guys won’t abandon me.”
Uruha got up and approached Aoi, “We’ve known each other for ages, Yuu. If you want to find yourself or whatever you want to call it, I’ll help you.” Uruha hugged Aoi, “I promise, I won’t abandon you,” he whispered in Aoi’s ear. “Thanks.”
Putting down his phone, Ruki looked at Aoi, “Like I said before, I hate Aoi of the Gazette right now, and I’m not too fucking happy with Shiroyama Yuu either, but if you truly mean this, I’ll help you as well. But I swear if the asshole in you comes out again, I’m going to kick your ass all over the damned studio!” Aoi grinned, “You can kick my ass anywhere you’d like Ru, thanks.”
Looking over at Kai and Reita who were standing in the kitchen, leaning across the counter, Aoi figured that neither of the men wanted anything to do with him, the conversation had stalled. Kai nudged Reita, who just rolled his eyes. “Fine.” Coming from behind the counter, Reita walked up to Aoi and got in his face, “If you fuck this up, I’ll never speak to you again. You will lose everything we’ve worked for, you won’t be able to join another band , let alone work anywhere else, you will be out of the industry for good.”
The look in Reita’s eye, the anger and distrust in his voice, Aoi believed everything that the man was saying to him, there would be no do-overs or forgiveness this time…it had to be the last time. Reita then clapped Aoi on the shoulder, “I’m going to make you work your ass off…you’re going to hate me when I’m done with you.” Aoi grinned sheepishly. “Okay, that’s cool.”
“I was ready to write you off, to the extent that I was looking for someone to replace you. Yukke was the one that kept me from going to management to have you removed from the contract.” Kai paused, walking over to Aoi, “The shit with Pon, now with Yuki…I’m like Ruki, I fucking hate Aoi…but I miss my buddy Shiroyama Yuu and if he’s trying to come through, who am I to say no to helping him?”
Aoi felt the tears start to fall, wiping his eyes with the back of his sleeve quickly. “Um, thanks … you guys don’t know how much this means to me, I’m so done being a piece of shit,” he paused, “Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to do this, I honestly don’t have a clue.” Ruki snorted, “Figures.” Uruha reached over and smacked Ruki in the back of the head, making Reita laugh…which of course spread. Then the silly boyish pushing and shoving started, Aoi ending up in a group hug, something that brought him to tears, sending everyone else in a fit of teary laughter.
Kai finally broke up the group hug, reminding them that they had to be at the studio in the next hour, “We have two more days before we start recording, let’s make the best of the time we have left.” A group whiney groan and mutters of ‘kill joy’, and general grumpiness could be heard as they broke up the party, everyone making their way to the studio. Uruha gave Aoi a ride, wanting to corner him alone for a few minutes, “Hey, anything I can do, I will, but my first suggestion is lay off the booze. From personal experience, drinking gives you bad ideas that sometimes you follow through with.”
Aoi smirked, “Yah, no shit… Okay, no more alcohol for awhile, but I’ll be calling you if I start to slip and want a beer or something.” Uruha chuckled, “That’s fine, that’s what friends are for.” Uruha didn’t trust himself to say anything more, he didn’t want to expose himself to Aoi…not yet…maybe never.
The recording of Lynch’s new album was in the final hours, they were in post production making the tiny changes to each song and Pon couldn’t be happier. Not having to see Akinori every day for hours on end, the man constantly flirting and touching even with Pon having forcefully slapped away the man’s hand more than once. Ken had made a few comments to Lynch’s manager, “You need to rein in your bassist, he’s fucking obnoxious and is harassing Pon, do something about it or I will.”
The manager had spoken to Akinori, and the harassment died down a bit, but there were still the stares, the sexual inuendo in virtually every comment. If either Asanao or Reo were in the room, Akinori’s behavior turned to the model musician; doing his job and not interfering with the technicians, but the second the men left, it was back to the harassment of Pon.
Pon had left the studio for lunch that day, needing to decompress from Akinori’s constant attention, walking down to the ramen shop near the studio. “Irasshai.” Pon stepped up and ordered, finding a seat against the back wall, eating his ramen in peace. One more day…that’s all he needed to deal with and be done with Akinori.
“Irasshai,” Pon looked up as the door chimed, seeing Ken walking up to the counter, “Hey…no breaks for the head technician, Ken.” Pon joked, as he waved Ken over. “You escaping too?” he asked Ken. “No, not really…just decided to get some air and real food.” He sat down with his ramen, “Hiding from him?” he didn’t look at Pon, “Not really hiding, just needing a break, just thankful that it ends today, at least the recording part does. I don’t really want to get Die involved in this.”
Ken snorted, “Maybe you should, I’m sure if he knew, he’d be pissed as hell.” Ken knew about the fight that happened between Aoi and Die, when Pon went after Reita, he was sure Pon could handle himself against Akinori.
Pon shook his head, “No…I just have to get through today, then it’s done, now if he tries shit after this? I’m not responsible for Die’s actions and I wont’ stop him from beating the snot out of Akinori.”
Ken snorted, “I’d pay good money to see that, Akinori has no idea what he’d be dealing with, I’ve seen a pissed off Die and it’s nothing to be blown off.” They talked a little while longer until Ken made the call that they needed to get back to the studio. “Only a few more hours, then you’re safe.”
Aoi was listening to what Kai and the others had planned for him, Kai of course starting with Aoi’s abysmal diet, “You eat like shit, part of your problem is your brain is dying from eating all that crap all the time. Eat better, feel better.” Kai turned towards his drum kit, “Oh, and no alcohol,” he said over his shoulder. “I second that, beer is included…you need to detox.” Uruha raised his hand.
He wanted to complain, throw a tantrum and tell them all to fuck off, and leave in a huff. But he didn’t, he heard Reita’s angry words in his head, he could still feel the sting of the slap and the humiliation of being left on the floor like trash.
“Can I at least have soft drinks? Cutting out alcohol and cigarettes is going to be brutal, I need some sort of legal drug.” Aoi tried not to whine, he didn’t want to sound ungrateful for the help. Uruha thought for a moment, “Yah, I guess caffeine isn’t too bad.” Aoi bowed to him, “Thank you Senpai!”
The mood in the practice room was lighter than it had been in months, the laughing and joking aside, the business at hand was to get ready to record a new album and secondary but not less important, bring Shiroyama Yuu back into the Gazette and leave Aoi for the stage.
Pon and Ken could hear the Gazette’s practice as they walked down the long hall to the recording room, “Hey, going to use the bathroom, I’ll be there in a few,” Pon pulled up short at the bathroom door. Walking towards the urinals, Pon was shoved forward into one of the stalls, the door slamming as his face hit the wall. With blurred vision and bells ringing in his ears, suddenly there were hands on his crotch, pulling at the buckle of his pants, “You’re going to love this” was whispered in his ear, a bite and a lick on his neck as hands grabbed him.
“GET THE FUCK OFF ME!” Pon growled, struggling and fighting back. Pon knew instantly who this was, “AKI GET OFF ME! ASSHOLE!!” Pon knew if he didn’t fight back, Akinori would likely get what he ultimately wanted, “Shut it Pon… come on boy…I’m not askin… SHIT, YOU LITTLE FUCKER!” in the struggle Pon slammed his head back, catching Akinori in the mouth and bloodying it, which earned him a hard shove into the tile wall, stunning the smaller man and leaving him bleeding at the temple.
Akinori watched in anger as Pon slid down, falling in between the toilet and the wall leaving a smeared trail of blood. “Dumbass, if you would had just given in…now I’m fucking bleeding, stupid fucking kid.” Akinori left the stall, left Pon lying on the floor, grabbing a wet paper towel, Akinori left the bathroom.
“Take a break guys, Aoi’s doing the pee dance.” Kai finally took pity on his second guitarist. “Hey, I had three cups of coffee today… cut me some slack. I’ll be right back.” Aoi hurried out of the room and down the hall, rushing into the bathroom. Opening the door, he stopped dead, “Pon? WHAT THE HELL?” Pon had gotten up and staggered out of the stall, trying to get out and go to the management office, “Uh, I don’t…” he fell to his knees, “Can you help me please?” he reached up to Aoi.
Aoi grabbed Pon’s hand, pulling him up, “Who did this to you Pon, was it Akinori?” Pon nodded, “Come on, let’s get you to our room.” With his harm around Pon’s waist, Aoi guided the injured young man back to the Gazette practice room, kicking open the door.
“Take him!” he growled, Uruha being the closest, takes Pon in his arms, watching as Aoi ran out of the room, “Follow him!” Kai hissed at Reita, who was already half way out the door, he had an idea where Aoi was going, and sure enough, he could hear the shouts and what sounded like a fight. “Damn…AOI!” Shoving his way into the room, Reita grabbed the first person he saw which was Aoi, who had Akinori by the shirt as he screamed at Aoi, “STOP IT WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?” Ken grabbed Akinori from behind, pulling him away from Aoi.
“THAT SON OF A BITCH HURT PON! THAT’S WHAT’S FUCKING GOING ON!”
“He’s lying! I never touched that kid!” Akinori struggled against Ken. “Aoi probably did it himself! He’s always wanted Pon, don’t you Aoi? Chasing after that kid, trying to fucking rape him…yah I’ve heard the rumors. Oh, and look! How convenient, your partner in crime is right here too!”
The guitarist lunged at Akinori, “AOI! Come on… we’ll deal with him later…” Reita struggled to get Aoi out of the room. “Ken, come down to our room!” Reita yelled over his shoulder as he wrestled Aoi down the hall. “Shit, Pon!” Aoi broke free and ran back to the practice room.
Bashing through the door, Aoi walks up to the injured man, “Pon, are you okay? Did he um…” Aoi stuttered, “He tried, but I headbutted him, so no, he didn’t rape me.” Aoi knelt down next to the couch where Pon was sitting, a wet towel on his temple, the amount of blood was significant. Ruki was in the corner on the phone, waving his arms wildly, “Die damnit JUST COME TO THE STUDIO!” Ruki snapped his phone closed. “He’s on his way Pon,” Ruki told him, “I’ll be right back.” Grabbing Kai, Ruki left the room.
Uruha got Pon a clean towel, “You’re going to need stitches I think, three or four at least.” Pon nodded, “I’ll have Die take me.” The door flies open and Ken is there, kneeling in front of Pon, “Did that asshole do this?” Pon nodded, “Damn him!”
Ruki and Kai came back to the room with the manager of the studio, who took one look at Pon, frowned angrily and left the room. “He’s going to deal with it, he’s calling the police then the rest of the band,” said Kai. They all turned towards the door as they could hear someone in the hall screaming, “PONNN!” Getting up, Pon opened the door, “Pon are…baby!” Die’s hands were shaking as he reached for Pon’s face, “you’re bleeding…” he whimpered. “I’m okay, but I think I need to get some stitches in my head.” Taking the towel away, Die paled when he saw the cut, reaching out to touch it, “Pon-kun…why?”
“It was Akinori, Die. Aoi found him in the bathroom, that asshole cornered him in a stall and put his hands on Pon.” Ken walked up to Die, putting his hand on the man’s shoulder. “The cops are going to come, management already knows.”
Die’s face grew very dark, something Pon had never seen before…a scary angry Die. Reaching up for Die’s face, the man kissed Pon’s hand, then turning and leaving the room. “Give him a head start,” Aoi told Ken, “At least ten seconds,” “Aoi no, Die’s going to hurt Akinori, I’d rather the cops get him, please Aoi?” Ken groaned.
Aoi put his head back and groaned, “Fine… Come on Ken, let’s go save that asshole from Die.” Ken slowly walked towards the door, “Do we have to? Let’s take our time getting there, ne?” “KEN! AOI! GET OUT OF HERE!” Kai growled.
Throwing the door open to the recording studio, Ken and Aoi found Reo and Asanao holding Die back in a corner, Hazuki kneeling next to what looked like an unconscious Akinori, lying bloodied on the floor. “Good job Die!” Aoi laughed, “We’ll take care of him, you guys are going to have to talk to the cops, so stick around.” Die wrenched himself out of Reo’s arms, bending down next to Akinori, “You ever come near my boyfriend again, I will kill you, then I’ll take what’s left of you and give it to Kyo, believe me when I say that I am now your worst nightmare,” Die spit on Akinori then left the room.
A DCR manager was standing outside the Gazette practice room, holding Die back from going in, “Wait here for a moment, I don’t want you involved in this part. The police are in there taking statements, Aoi you need to go give yours.” Aoi nodded and went in, Die huffed and leaned against a wall. “How bad did you do him?” the manager asked. “Oh, I barely touched him, but I think he fell and hit his face on a wall a few times, maybe he’s drunk.” Die deadpanned.
Ken was speaking to a police officer, Aoi was sitting with Pon, “You okay kid? You don’t look so hot.” Aoi leaned over and nudged Pon’s shoulder. “I’ve felt better that’s for sure.” Pon smiled weakly. “Hey um thanks for uh, you know like saving me and shit.” Aoi looked at Pon, “Dude, I’m the last guy on earth you should thank, I didn’t do anything worth noticing. I just found you and brought you to the room. I didn’t save you, you got hurt…that’s not saving someone.” Pon cocked his head, “You didn’t walk away when you could have. That’s worth something, Aoi.”
Kai clapped his hand loudly, “Alright gentlemen, we are done for the day. Tomorrow’s practice will start at 1pm, no early morning call, I think we all need to sleep in.” Pon started to get up but swayed a little, grabbing Aoi by the arm, “You okay?” Aoi asked, “Stay here, I’ll go get Die.” Pon sat down again, watching as Aoi trotted over to the door, “Hey Daisuke, your boy needs you right now.”
Die came into the room, looked around quickly until he saw Pon, “Hey babe…” he walked over then knelt next to Pon’s chair. “We need to get you to the hospital to get some stitches, are you ready to go?” Die patted Pon on the leg. “Yah, I’m just a little woozy, that’s all and my head kinda hurts.” Before Pon could stand, Die scooped him up in his arms, “I’ll get you to the hospital,” he kissed Pon’s nose, then walked to the door, “Thanks again Aoi,” Die said as the man held the door open for them.
Two hours after the incident, Aoi’s state of mind at that moment was in shambles. He was sitting in his flat alone and desperately needed a beer. “Just one beer…that’s not really drinking.” He bargained with himself. Going to the fridge, the second he pulled the door open, he groaned, where his beer should be, a note was in its place,
“Don’t Drink! Call Me!”
He sighed and took out his phone, he knew who had stolen his beer, Uruha,
“Hey, so when did you do it?”
“Before we left for the studio, poured out all your alcohol as well.”
“Okay, I called you, so now what?”
“What made you want to drink?”
“I’m alone, it’s too quiet here.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“Wait! NO!” Shit, he hung up.
Ten minutes later, much to Aoi’s disappointment, Uruha is sitting on his couch with his legs tucked up. “Pretty intense day, right? I mean you saving Pon and all that.” Aoi groaned, “I didn’t save Pon! Damn you’re all acting like I did some huge thing, I just got him into the room.”
“But you did do something, you got him somewhere safe, before you went after Akinori, the Aoi six months ago wouldn’t have done any of that.” Aoi turned red and shifted uneasily in his spot, “Don’t make it out to be such a huge deal, I told you guys I wanted to change…besides me and Pon, we’re already okay. The bigger question is why are you here?”
Now it was Uruha’s turn to blush, “I…I told you I’d help with the alcohol thing, and uh…you sounded like you needed some support, so here I am!” Uruha bounced a little. Dropping his chin to his chest, Aoi took a breath, “You can go home now, really…I’m fine. Thanks for the support,” Uruha took the hint and got up and walked to the door, Aoi standing behind him, just as Uruha reached for the knob, he quickly turned and hugged his friend, with an almost unperceivable grind against Aoi.
“Okay, I’ll pick you up tomorrow on my way, let’s say about 12:30?” Aoi could do nothing but nod at Uruha. As he closed the door, he couldn’t help imagining that Uruha leaned in with his hips.
“What the hell was that? Did he really just…?”
Uruha leaned his head back in his seat, as he banged his hand on the steering wheel, “Fuck…that’s it, now he’s going to think I’m some sort of perv. Why did I do that?” he was sure that Aoi felt the tiny grind, he was also sure that Aoi had no idea of his feelings.
Die moved slowly and quietly, trying to get into bed with Pon and not wake him. He had gotten one leg in, and was ready to sit down, “Get in bed, you dork.” Die made a rude noise. “You could have just told me that you were awake.” Pon giggled, “No way, I wanted to watch you try to be quiet, but you always fail…it’s kinda cute really.”
Die pulled the covers up then pulled Pon into his chest, “Still hurting?” he murmured in Pon’s hair. “A little, mostly just feels like a bad headache. Am I like all bruised up?” Pon didn’t remember the loud gasp from Die when he helped him into pajamas. “I think you’ll be surprised, but yah you are pretty banged up.” Pon leaned hard into Die, burying his face in the man’s chest. “Why?”
Die wanted to say something clever, but this wasn’t the time for that. “I don’t know baby, I truly don’t. I mean I understand why they pick you, you’re sexy and funny and smart. I don’t get why it seems that none of them will take no as an answer, until it gets really physically ugly.”
Pon looked up, resting his chin on Die’s chest, “I think it’s age,” he said confidently, “Look at Aoi, he’s not as old as you, but way older than I am. He’s my senpai, and I shouldn’t refuse anything my senpai asks of me. Akinori is technically my senpai too.”
The swell in Die’s heart just about choked him, the fact that Pon was trying to explain away Akinori’s attack as some sort of cultural issue instead of an asshole musician that couldn’t take no for an answer. “Baby, maybe it’s just that Akinori is an asshole, um… what did Yuki call it? Self-entitled prick musician. Rape or attempted rape is not a cultural excuse, in any culture.”
Die tightened his grip on Pon, “I’m going to take you to breakfast tomorrow morning, I don’t have anywhere to go, and I’m sure no one expects you at the studio, so after breakfast we’re coming home, I’m going to make love to you and fall asleep in your arms. How’s that sound?” When Pon didn’t answer, Die looked down, Pon’s mouth was open just enough to snore softly. Reaching up to turn off the light, Die then kissed Pon’s head softly, “I love you, Hiroto.”
Two men sat opposite of each other, both not knowing how to start the conversation. The younger of the two men looked pale and wane, the older was drawn and haggard. They were not strangers, they knew every little detail of each other’s lives, there was just something there, that was blocking them both; Fear. Fear of rejection and fear of the unknown, would they be able to find their way back to each other. Someone had to start. “I love you.”