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The Vagueness of Salvation

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          “You’ll find someone, don’t give up yet. I’m going to ask at work today.”

          “I’m not that confident, I’m sure Ruki has given you details about my past attempts at relationships.”

          “Some, but he didn’t go into detail, that’s not like him. He just wants you to be happy and have someone in your life that appreciates you for you.”

          “Thanks, Tomo. Guess all I can do is wait.”

          Aoi sat in a chair with his guitar in his lap, waiting for Ken and Pon to dial in some different mixes. He glanced at Uruha surreptitiously, the question of who the man was texting was burning in his mind. “Ready Aoi?” Ken asked, drawing Aoi’s attention back to the business of recording.

          Uruha had become great friends with Ruki’s boyfriend Tomo, the two men quietly sharing thoughts, Tomo encouraging Uruha to remain positive about finding someone outside the industry. He knew Aoi was watching him, and as such he played it up while texting Tomo; laughing and giggling much like Ruki had in the early stages of his relationship with his shy boyfriend, knowing that it was pissing Aoi off. He didn’t care.

          Aoi had approached him earlier in the week, asking for his new phone number, “I need it in case something happens with one of the others, if we can’t contact you…” was his weak argument. “You don’t need my number, Aoi. I don’t need you harassing me on an hourly basis either. Kai has my number and as leader he’s the only one that needs it.”

          “Wait…Ruki and Reita have it too, they’re not leader so why do they get it and I don’t?” This time Ruki stepped in, “You’re a dick Aoi, that’s why you don’t need Uru’s number.” The man was left with his mouth hanging open. “Is that what you think of me, Kouyou? Am I a dick?”

          “Pretty much, yes Yuu.” Uruha replied smugly. “You’re the reason that I’m never dating anyone in the music industry again. So, thanks for that.” Pon was listening, smiling at the fact that Uruha was standing up for himself.

          Ken interrupted the bickering again, “Okay children, let’s record…I have a date tonight and I want to get out of here on time.” Ken said that specifically for Aoi’s benefit, perhaps if the man got enough flak on his behavior, he’d change.

 

 

           Nakamura Taizo followed the realtor through the house, not really listening to what she was saying as much as taking in how the house felt to him. He had forgone a free-standing house as he had experienced that in America, and wanting to avoid having to hire someone for taking care of the landscaping, it just made more sense to go with a home in one of the many hi-rise buildings in Tokyo.

          “You have a lovely view of Tokyo Tower, which is very impressive at night,” the lovely young woman pointed out. Standing in front of one of the large floor to ceiling windows, Taizo could see himself living in the home. With five bedrooms and four bathrooms, and over 4600 sq. ft of living space, there was plentiful room for entertaining business associates and the high-ranking members of the community. Yes…this would do nicely.  “Thank you, I’d like to make an offer and if you would draw up the paperwork and fax it to me, I’d greatly appreciate it.

          Leaving the building, the valet had his car waiting for him, “Thank you,” taking the keys he drove slowly through down town Tokyo, getting a feel for how the city had changed in twenty-five years.  Pulling into the garage of the home he was currently in, he quickly went inside and into the office. The next few days would be consumed with the purchase of the house, and he wanted to make sure to take time to reach out to Madame F.

          “Good afternoon. This is Nakamura Taizo, would it be possible to speak to Madame F?

 

          Pulling into the parking lot of Yuki’s apartment complex, Ken took a deep breath before getting out of the car, he wanted with all his heart for this night to be special. Earlier in the day had been marred with the asinine behavior of Aoi towards Uruha, putting a damper on Ken’s attitude. If the other man would just quit being such an asshole, perhaps he’d manage to be happy, “Pfft, not like that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

          Knocking on Yuki’s door, Ken smoothed his hair down and smiled, “Hey, of course you’re right on time, and I’m not!” Yuki laughed as he opened his door. “Give me one more minute and I’ll be ready!” he said as he ran down to his room. Ken was in awe of his young boyfriend, his vibrant personality matched the color of his hair, bright and exciting.

          “Okay, I’m ready.” Before Ken opened the door, he quickly grabbed Yuki around the waist, pulling him into a heated kiss. “You’re so fucking sexy… do we really need to go out to dinner?” Ken pouted. “Oh, hell no! No way Mister! You’re taking me to dinner, I didn’t get all dressed up just to eat pizza!” Yuki smacked Ken gently on the chest. He wasn’t going to let Ken go the way of Aoi, never taking him out to dinner or introducing him to his friends.

          “I’m just kidding! Let’s go.” Ken grabbed Yuki by the hand and led him out the door. “Ayato told me that sometimes stuff happens at this place…do you know what he means?” Ken laughed, “Well, ages ago… Ruki was quite the dine and dash bandit, usually running out on the others without paying. Um… there’s been some other stuff too. You know that Uta and Davina had Teiji’s wake at the restaurant, um…Shinya beat the shit out of Reita there too.”

          “Wait…what? Uh, I don’t know about that!” Yuki knew a lot about what had gone on with Reita before he met Ayato, but this was new. Ken explained what had happened, “I wasn’t there, but from what friends have told me, Shinya beat the crap out of him, dropped him to the floor.”

          Yuki couldn’t believe it, “Shinya? I’ve never really met him but he’s like so thin and kind of scrawny, I don’t picture him hitting Akira…Reita that hard.” Ken shook his head, “He’s a drummer, he might be skinny and delicate looking, but the man is tough.” Pulling up to the restaurant and handing the keys to the valet, Ken guided Yuki towards the door, “Ken-sama, welcome…and to your guest, it has been some time since you’ve last dined with us, please enjoy your dinner,” the concierge greeted the couple. “That’s fancy.” Whispered Yuki.

          Seated at their table, Yuki started to glance around at the other diners, small sounds slipping out in tiny gasps. “Holy crap,” he leaned in and whispered, “Is that Sugizo and Heath?” Ken turned and looked, then waved at the two men. “Yep, are you surprised?”  Yuki nodded, “I told you that this place caters to the industry, you can have a nice quiet dinner without fans or the media.”

          Ken wanted to order wine, but he had a feeling that Yuki may not be a wine drinker. “Um, can I have a gin and tonic please?” he asked the waiter, who bowed and went to the bar. “Gin and tonic? Totally didn’t peg you for that kind of drink, but I didn’t think you were a wine kinda guy either.” Yuki made a gagging noise at the word wine. “Nope, got super drunk on it once and never again, a wine hangover is the worse you can ever experience.”

          Just as they had gotten their drinks, Ken see’s Miya and Shinya walk in, waving them over. “Hey guys, I um…I wanted to introduce you to someone, Miya, Shinya, this is my boyfriend Yuki.” Miya winked at Ken, “Hey Yuki…you sure you’re safe with this guy? He’s kind of dodgy you know…” Shinya smacked Miya in the arm, “Ignore him, he thinks he’s funny. It’s nice to meet you, Yuki, I’m sure you’re keeping our Ken-chan honest.” Throughout the entire exchange, Yuki just giggled, “Um… he’s okay, not too bad for an old man.”

          “Hey!” Ken objected, “Good Yuki… you keep him on his toes. It was nice meeting you, and now I’m going to drag this idiot off.” Miya and Shinya bowed and moved to their table. “He’s nice…” Yuki was still giggling. “They’ve been together forever, probably one of the nicest couples I’ve ever gotten to know over the years, though Kai and Yukke are up there as well.”

          Their dinners arrived and the conversation turned to other couples that Ken had known throughout the years. “It’s not always been great…” Ken’s voice dropped a little, “When Hide died, we all thought Yoshiki was going to commit suicide, I guess it took Sakurai everything he had to keep the man alive, that was a really dark time.”  Yuki had only heard of these things, not knowing what to say, “Oh heh, sorry… Debbie downer right now.”

          “Debbie what?” Yuki laughed, he hadn’t heard the very American term. Ken explained it and all Yuki could do was laugh. Pushing back from the table, Ken ordered them another drink, relaxing as they just spent time talking. Ken was telling a story, waving his arms and being very animated, when he stopped, dropped his arms and groaned. “What?” Yuki turned around to look at what was happening… Aoi had just walked into the dining room.

          “Oh shit…um, just ignore him, he won’t come over here. It’s fine really.” Yuki reached over and put his hand over Ken’s. “It’s okay, he doesn’t bother me anymore.” Ken turned and smiled at Yuki, “You’re a bigger man than he is, that’s for sure.”

          Aoi couldn’t miss that Yuki and Ken were there, he steeled himself and sighed, nodding to Ken and moving to a table in a dark corner, where he could see Yuki. He ordered a drink and his dinner, then sat and just glanced around to see who else was there. He saw Miya and Shinya, nodded hello but made no effort to speak to them, instead just playing with the utensils on the table.

          Ken paid the bill and was leading Yuki out of the restaurant, “Have a nice night Aoi.” He said as he passed the guitarist, “Um, you too Ken.” Yuki turned to look at Aoi, seeing the man wearing a sense of regret on his face, he gave a small half wave and followed his date out the door.

          “He looked sad, didn’t he?” Yuki said as they were pulling away from the restaurant. “Well, he’s fucked up two relationships in less than a year, so yah…he does look sad.” Ken reached over and patted Yuki on the thigh. “Do you want to spend the night at my place?” he asked hopefully. “Mmm, that would be nice.” Yuki laid his head back and looked over at Ken as he drove, he was falling hard for the older man and he was pretty certain the feeling was mutual.

 

          Watching Ken and Yuki eating dinner together, watching them leave hand in hand, Aoi looked down at his plate and shook his head, “Fuckup,” was all that he could think of. Yuki looked happy with Ken, that much was obvious, even more obvious was Aoi’s lack of success in making someone else happy.  Uruha wouldn’t give him the time of day, let alone his new phone number, Yuki has moved on and all that Aoi is left with is… “Not a damned thing, you’re a complete loser.”

          He had just asked for the bill when Miya and Shinya stopped by his table, “How’s recording going?” Miya asked. Aoi looked at the couple, “Good, we have about half the tracks laid down, I think it’s going to turn out amazing.” They made small talk for a few minutes, then excused themselves. Shinya turning and looking at Aoi just as they walked out the door, “He looks miserable, doesn’t he?”  Miya nodded, “Yep he does, but from what I understand from Yukke, he’s brought it all on himself. It’s gotta be hard for him to work with Ken these days.”

 

          Paying the bill and leaving the restaurant, he decided to try one more time and after this he would just drop everything. Driving by Uruha’s apartment, he sees that the lights are off, which means Uruha has already gone to bed, or isn’t home. “It’s a sign, you dumbass, just leave it alone,” he snapped at himself. As he drove home, he thought to stop by the konbini and grab a few beers, “That’s not going to fix anything,” The problem was, he didn’t know how to fix what was broken, and he was the biggest problem.

          Walking up the stairs to his flat, his shoulders heavy with the weight of the understanding that it wasn’t Yuki, and it wasn’t Uruha, it was him. He was the asshole, he was a self entitled prick musician, he was a horrible friend. Falling face first onto his couch, Aoi screamed into the cushion. He stayed like that for awhile, secretly hoping to suffocate but knowing that it really wouldn’t work. Turning over on his back and dropping his arm across his eyes, the guitarist was lost, not able to think of anyone but himself.

          “That’s your fucking problem dumbass, nobody but yourself.” When was the last time he cared about anyone else? Reita…even then he fucked that up because he only saw the problem from his angle and not Reita’s. Ruining his relationship with Reita, the one man he had truly loved, because he didn’t feel needed. Ruining his relationship with Yuki, because he was only interested in his sexual needs. Ruining what had just started with Uruha, because he wanted to announce to the world that they were together, ignoring what Uruha wanted. “It’s all about me, the self-entitled prick musician.”

          Aoi knew he needed to change. That was the first step in any program, admitting you have a problem. “There’s no asshole anonymous club,” he snarked. Therapy? He tried that with Yuki and it was of course an epic fail because he didn’t like what the therapist had to say to him. Getting up from the couch Aoi went and retrieved his laptop from the bedroom, “Have to start somewhere.”

         The first thing he did was search ‘assholes anonymous’ and almost pissed himself laughing when a site came up with a classic 12 step recovery list. He reached for his phone to text… no one. “Have to do this yourself.” As Aoi read the steps, he wasn’t sure this was exactly what he needed, but it was funnier than hell that the site actually existed. The next four hours slipped by as Aoi continued to look for something to guide him yet came up empty. Slamming the laptop shut, Aoi leaned back in the couch, his arms crossed over his chest. “How and where the hell, am I going to find Shiroyama Yuu again?”

 

       Picking up his phone, he saw that he’d been in bed for five hours without sleeping, just lying in the dark throwing himself a grand old pity party. Uruha’s heart hurt every time he saw Aoi, throwing up the brave front at the studio with saying nasty things, yet coming home alone and going back to being a pathetic hermit. He turned down Ruki’s invitation for dinner saying he was working on some music, but thanked his friend all the same.

      Uruha’s heart was screaming at him to call Aoi; just call him! There had been dozens of times since they broke up, that he had dialed the number, only to hang up without pushing that last little button. Thankfully his brain overrode his heart; no, you can’t call him, he’s clueless to what he’s doing to you. As much as he thought he wanted to find someone else, Uruha knew better. Life in a world known band wouldn’t make dating anyone easier, even if he said he didn’t want to date anyone in the industry…where else would he find someone? Not like he rode the train on a regular basis, and that was just creepy to think he could find a suitable date that way. He didn’t go to bars that much, again hard to go to clubs or bars when you’re ‘Uruha of the Gazette’.  The way he saw it, Aoi was his last chance at happiness and it had gone up in flames.