He drank too much. He knew he drank too much by how heavy he felt, as if his limbs had been replaced by leaden weights covered in sand. But he didn't feel as gray as heavy drinking usually made him feel, none of the gray masses of clouds or the swimming white faces replacing the real faces around him. Instead objects glistened as if they had been covered in latex, tiny motes of gold catching the light here and there, filling the air with brilliant bubbles of fragile rainbows.
The small shabu-shabu restaurant might not have seen so many musicians at one table, the loud chatter over riffs and notes and bars drifting over the table inter-mixing with off-color remarks about concerts or peers in the field. It did rise to the challenge of preparing a large spread of food and drinks, and seeing to the comforts of the staff that followed them and were added to the bill. Michihiro blinked at this sign of Ito generosity before remembering that they did it before, in those years when the music was still fresh.
Maybe that was why he drank more than he should be drinking. Or maybe it was how Ito smiled in a way that made Michihiro feel bitter and old. He wasn't sure at this point and he didn't care as his fingers fumbled with his cigarettes as the last traces of the meal were swept away by attentive servers. He managed to get one out without tearing his pack in half, and didn't burn his hand as he lit up. It took a little more effort to get everything back where they belong but he felt much better with the nicotine in his lungs.
He waved aside the next drink, watching through narrow eyes as Ito and Baba had some kind of contest involving rice cakes and napkins. Katsuragi was reaching over and try to knock the rice cakes off the napkins while Konnno kept on disrupting his attempts by hitting Katsuragi with bits of paper. Okuda and Nagai were both swiping drinks from everyone and either drinking them or handing them to staff members. Foreseeing that this was one impromptu party he was willing to miss, Michihiro pushed away from the table, murmured his good nights and headed for the door.
It was rude of him, but he really didn't care at this point. He did stupid things when he was drunk. Surrounded by people he actually liked, with the object of some of his worse dreams across from him, he needed to get away. The cool night air seemed to wake up his mind a little bit, and he shoved his hands into his jacket pockets and blew smoke. The door chimed behind him and a tall, lanky form collided into his, long arms draping over his shoulders.
"You can't leave."
Michihiro rolled his eyes and jabbed his elbow back even as he stepped out of the loose embrace. Ito coughed harshly, his hands on his stomach and his flushed features looking purple under the fall of his bright hair. Michihiro raised an eyebrow, almost expecting him to lose it all right there and unsure whether he felt regret or some kind of perverse enjoyment on seeing him hurt. But Ito regained his breath and stood up, rubbing his stomach slowly and frowning.
"Why do you always have to hit me?"
"Why do you always have to touch me like one of your guitars?"
Ito's mouth dropped open. Michihiro snickered at his expression, hiding it badly behind his cigarette. Ito's nose scrunched up and he bit his lower lip. Michihiro covered his yawn with his hand, managing to keep his cigarette in place. Ito was the first to break into laughter, little hysterical hiccups that grew in volume. Michihiro chuckled softly and tapped his arm in a much more subdued manner.
"How's your stomach?"
"It's been better," Ito replied, wiping the tears from his eyes. "At least I'm not going to throw up."
"It's no fun, at least not on a public street."
"Yeah? I wouldn't say I had the pleasure to find out," Ito said, grinning at him.
The door chimed out behind them and the rest of his band came out, blinking like lizards that had just discovered daylight. Baba weaved between the two of them, smiling up at Michihiro. He took a step back and ran a hand through his hair, trying hard not to look at either guitarist.
"We were thinking about going to a karaoke bar," Baba was saying.
Michihiro arched his right eyebrow and glanced at the rest of his band. He liked karaoke bars in general, so long as other people sang, but tonight he felt too heavy, too worn to take much pleasure in listening to other singers. He just wanted to go home, make sure Rhapsody was tucked in bed and find his own bed. He opened his mouth to say exactly that when his space was invaded by Ito again, the lean body feeling so good and so right against his. It froze all thoughts in his mind save one that he really did not want to think about.
"I think I need to be taken home," Ito said, hands waving vaguely in front of Michihiro's eyes. "Rin-chan can drive me, right?"
"We could call you a cab," Baba said. Michihiro looked over at him and wiggled out from under Ito's weight.
"It's fine. I'm worn out too."
"Are you sure?" Baba took a step towards Michirhio. The singer shook his head and tugged the heavy keychain from Ito's pocket.
"I'm sure. Have fun and take some pictures for me."
He was being cruel and he knew it. Over the past five years he had used Baba as a sort of crutch – talking to him about his problems, drinking with him, hanging out when the loneliness in his head got too much. Baba probably figured that it gave him extra rights and in a way Michihiro let him think that. But he was leading Baba on in letting him think that there was more. Michihiro had only room for one person in his life and – despite the other relationships he had stormed his way through – that person remained there.
The rest of the band drew Baba away. Michihiro fingered the small charms in the shape of Ito's dogs, listening until he couldn't hear them before poking Ito in the ribs. Hard. He jumped and looked up.
"Yes," Michihiro said, biting off the word he wanted to use. He rattled Ito's keys and tilted his head to the side. "You can stop acting like an idiot and go home."
"I don't want to go home."
That particular tone made Michihiro's mouth twist. He didn't want to deal with this. He really didn't want to, so why couldn't he pull away?
"Ito. . ."
He looked up, caught again by the seriousness in his voice and seeing the glitter of gold flecks, the soft subtle rainbow caught in the bright fall of orange hair. He wanted to close his eyes and block it all out, but he felt so heavy, so tired, and this was something he wanted for years. Dreamt of. Thought of. Hungered. Needed.
"I can't. . ."
Ito closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. He reached over, stealing the cigarette half-forgotten from Michihiro and took a drag from it. The flare of the cherry illuminated his face, the glistening lines, hollowing dark eyes. Michihiro choked and took a deep breath, blinking his eyes rapidly as he looked down. Long calloused fingers closed around his hand holding Ito's keys, the thumb stroking over his knuckles.
"You hurt me." So few words choking past the block in his throat, the rainbows shattering into tiny motes.
"You left first."
"You know why." It was too much, too much and the heaviness seemed to fill his mind as well and Michihiro wanted to pull away and move closer but all he could do was stand there, his hand held in that loose grip that still felt like steel.
"Then why. . ?"
"Michi, do you really think I could forget you?"
He did look up, feeling miles away inside too tight skin, seeing the emotions hidden deep in his eyes. His fingers twitched in their prison and his breath caught before he looked down, taking a deep breath. It was his choice, wasn't it? To forgive and either let go or embrace. Ito would not force him to choose, and that was why he nodded and met his eyes.
"Let's go home."