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How K.Ito Met Kurorin

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Michihiro leaned back in the couch, a half-smoked cigarette in his hand and sheets of paper spread out around him. Scribbled notes, pieces of ideas, floating sentences. None of them had really come together yet, but he could hear it forming in his head. That was a good sign – he knew where he was going with this idea.

A polite knock on the door frame cut into his thoughts and he looked up, seeing one of the newer assistants standing in the entrance. She bobbed her head, saying something about him having a visitor and did Kuroda-san wanted to see him? He asked who was it, and she hid her blush behind her hand, bobbing again like one of those toys he had seen in America. He had to coax the name from her slowly, but when he did manage to get the name he just stared at her, his smile fading as memory stirred.

Heated words and bitter accusations flung about a dumpy dressing room, his hands shaking as he tried and failed to light up a cigarette. The guitarist just sitting there with his expression as remote as a stone Buddha, words flying with all the power of bullets. Michihiro almost smashed in that over-sized nose before leaving the room, not stopping until he had walked into a neighboring bar and attempted to drown himself in some sake. Unfortunately Asakura had found him and dragged him back to the stage before he could have more than a sip, something which Michihiro had resented on top of everything else.

He had been just the vocalist. His ideas were not welcomed after the first few songs he wrote lyrics for - he was too playful, too optimistic compared to what Asakura wanted for their musical direction. It was okay though since Michihiro had been so new, so awkward at first that he let the elder musicians take control. He put up with the way things were even after he got used to everything only because of Ito and the understanding they had between them until the end when Ito broke everything apart.

But that had been years ago and he felt like a different man. The trip to America had been a good one, the vastness of the desert calming and the beauty of the sunsets filling up a piece of his soul that missed the simple life. And there was the wind, always soft or hard, calming and constant as the waves of a sea. He loved the desert and the unbelievable blue of the skies and the strange people that lived and worked without the hectic pace of the Tokyo lifestyle.

Realizing that he was staring into space for longer than necessary, Michihiro shook himself and blew out the breath he was holding, leaning forward to crush his cigarette butt in the ashtray and picking up his pack for a fresh one.

"Show him in," he said, and lit up. He thought for a moment about clearing away his papers but then mentally shrugged – why hide what he was doing from another musician? - and then Ito was there, laughing at something the assistant had said before she left the two alone. He looked good, his hair down and dyed a bright orange color, long guitarist hands toying with the corners of a tri-colored scarf trying to out-glow his hair. He stood up and smiled, seeing the emotions play across Ito's face until he was smiling back, a little shyly, but smiling all the same.

"I'm sorry," he said, tugging hard on a scarf end. "I didn't mean to interrupt you while working."

"It's fine." He swept the papers up into a pile and set them on top of his old laptop. "I haven't really started composing yet."

"A new album?" Ito asked, sliding into the room. Michihiro wished he had chosen a room with a door, but he nodded and sat back down. Ito looked around, made an abrupt step towards the same couch he was sitting on before taking a seat on the couch opposite him, flopping down in a carelessly boneless way that was both familiar and disturbing.

"My sixth one," he said, grabbing a throw pillow and hugging it close. Across from him, Ito was lighting up, holding his cigarette up in the air and cupping his elbow with his free hand.

"Congratulations."

Michihiro rubbed his nose and watched him for a moment, wondering what was going on inside of his orange and fluffy head. Ito played with his scarf ends, looking every where but at him and he sighed to himself, wondering if Asakura had sent him. If he was honest with himself, it would probably be Ito that he would accept back in his life before he would acknowledge Asakura's existence. At least Ito had been honest with him.

Ito slumped in his seat and let out a huge whoosh of air. "I don't even know how to begin," he said, taking a long drag on his cigarette. Michihiro stayed quiet, only glancing at the doorway for signs of any eavesdroppers. Ito got up and started pacing, waving his hands as he talked. "You're just. . . you. So quiet and so. . . so. . . I just don't know what to think around you."

"It wasn't easy for me," he replied, hugging the pillow tighter. He didn't want to talk about this, didn't want to think about it, but it was out and Ito was just having verbal diarrhea now that it was out there.

"You could have just say something or do something or just throw something or -" he ran both hands through his hair, sending soft spikes around his face, his words muffled by the cigarette in his mouth "- just something, man! Do you have any idea what I had thought?"

"I don't know, did you think that maybe I expected something more from you?"

"Like what?"

Ito stared at him, puffing hard on his smoke and eyes narrowed. He tossed the pillow aside and got up, walking over to him and seeing his expression change, lines appearing around his eyes and lips as he glanced over to the entrance. Michihiro stopped inches away and looked up. Ito's face was flushed and he rubbed at the back of his neck, looking everywhere but at him.

Michihiro reached up and lightly smacked him on the top of the head. "Idiot. I expected to hear from you sooner."

"You're not mad?"

"It was a long time ago." Five years by his count although he had been talked into doing a few things before allowed to sign off completely. Michihiro smiled and heading for the doorway. "Take a seat. I'll get us something to drink and you can tell me all about life without Asakura."