I had been at the recording studio for three hours before he stormed in. Luckily, we were taking a break, Kyohei, Iori and I discussing what they were looking for as far as songs for their next album, while Takashi made his way through the songs that I had already recorded.
“We’re looking for a more grown-up sound,” Kyohei explained. “We’ve sort of gone past the practical age of the typical ‘boy band’. The band needs to grow up and evolve, just as we have.”
“Anybody else feel a sudden chill in the air?” Nagito asked, just as the door of the meeting room burst open.
In the doorframe stood Eisuke, aggravation clearly etched on his face. As soon as he spotted me, he stalked over, not stopping until we were toe-to-toe.
“Where were you?” He growled.
“I’ve been here, like I said I would be.”
“You missed the meeting with Sanderson. You’ve known about it for two days.” His finger was at my nose.
“And YOU,” I retorted, jabbing my finger into his chest with every word, “knew that I had studio time today. You’ve known about it for more than six WEEKS.”
He had stepped back with every jab, and looked as though he were about to respond, but I hadn’t finished saying my piece yet.
“In fact, I reminded you yesterday, and this morning before I left. Now, if you forgot, or, more likely, ignored my reminders, that is entirely on you.”
His mouth worked soundlessly for a moment. I would have laughed at the sight if I hadn’t been so irritated, myself.
“Give me your keycard.” He held out a hand. “You’re done.”
“Two things. Number one. You are ending my contract early, so I expect a severance package equal to what my earnings – plus bonuses - would be, had the contract ended naturally. Number two. When I am finished here today, I will return to the penthouse, pack my things, and I will leave the keycard on my way out.”
“And what if I don’t agree to those?”
“At the very least, I can let it be known that Eiskue Ichinomiya doesn’t uphold his end of deals. Think about how many of the people that you do business with know me. Beyond that,” here the gods of the department of punishments sprang to mind, “I can cause you much more trouble.”
The arrogant expression on his face was washed away as he seemed to realize what I was talking about.
“Fine. The money will be in your account this evening. I expect the keycard in my hand this evening.”
He turned and stalked back out of the room.
I drew in a lungful of air and turned to the members of Revance.
“My apologies, gentlemen.”
“Sounds like you need a place to stay,” Kyohei observed.
“We have an extra bedroom at our place,” Nagito added.
“As well as a full studio,” Takashi finished.
“Are you talking about the storage room with a bed in it?” Kota interjected.
Iori laughed. “He’s not wrong. We have a lot of stuff in that room. I’m not sure it’s polite to offer someone a corner of a room.”
Kyohei thought for a moment.
“How about this? Give us until tomorrow morning and we’ll have that room cleaned up and ready for you.”
I thought about it for a minute. I’d be leaving one group of boys for another, in much closer quarters. Also, the Revance boys had no idea about my truth, so I would have to be more guarded. I didn’t know as much about these boys, having only played a couple of the routes in their game, and read the wiki page. I know that Ryo comes back after a bit, so it would only be a short-term arrangement, and in the meantime, I would have the opportunity to figure out what I wanted to do with my new life here, and make sure I had enough money set aside to buy a house somewhere, depending upon what path I chose.
“You know what? That sounds like a deal,” I answered. I held out a hand to Kyohei, and we shook on it. I then proceeded to shake hands with the rest of the band. All except Nagito, who wrapped me in a bear-hug.
Takashi handed me a business card with an address and code written on the back.
“The code is for the gate. I’ve already heard a couple potential songs that I’d like to talk about.”
“Thank you.” I slid the card into my cell phone case and returned it to my pocket.
We all left the meeting room, I to go do some more recording, Revance to do whatever it is that boybands do when they aren’t recording or touring.
“We’ll see you tomorrow, Ava!” Nagito hugged me once more before following the others.
“I can’t wait!” I called after him.
After a few more hours in the studio, I made certain that all of the electronic files were on my computer, and not the studio computer, and then burned a cd of the songs, so that I would have a hard copy in case the files on the computer got corrupted. After that, I packed things up and headed to a nearby café for dinner.
While there, I made reservations at a capsule hotel for the night. I’d always wanted to try one out, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Then, I headed to the penthouse, for the last time. I’ll admit, I got a little teary-eyed, thinking I would never again be in this elevator, heading up to the penthouse, with my first loves in the Voltage world.
Things change, regardless of if you’re in a strange, other world. Even though I had always intended to leave, I could feel my heart breaking just a little bit.
The elevator doors opened on an empty great room. All of the guys were out and about, which would make things a little easier, in all honesty.
I headed straight to my suite, pulled my luggage out of my closet, and quickly packed my few things. I had added to my wardrobe while here – it had been a necessity. What I hadn’t done was buy a lot of ‘stuff’, and I was grateful I’d had the foresight to forego collecting tchotchkes. Everything except my guitars fit into the luggage. I latched the smaller case to the larger case, strapped the overnight bag to those, slung my electric guitar across my body, and carried the acoustic guitar in one hand, pulling the luggage with the other.
I hit the button to call the elevator car back up and took the opportunity to take a last look around. I was sad, and yet excited, much like when I’d left my family home, heading off to college on the other side of the country. More so because these guys were the closest thing to family that I had in this world. They were the only people who knew my secret.
My nose started to sting, and I could feel tears at the corners of my eyes. The doors of the elevator slid open as I was dabbing my eyes, and I looked up to see Mamoru. He stepped out long enough to take the handle of my luggage and my acoustic guitar and stepped back into the elevator.
“Spill,” he ordered as soon as the doors were closed.
“I was at the recording studio today. As has been the plan for the last six weeks. I reminded Eisuke last night, and before I left this morning. This afternoon, he stormed in while I was in a meeting with a band, yelled at me for not being here for his meeting, and then told me to leave the penthouse. So, that’s what I’m doing.” I shrugged one shoulder.
Mamoru frowned, raking his fingers through his hair.
“I could talk to him,” he offered.
“No. We both know that wouldn’t do any good. I’ve already made other arrangements, and it’s time for me to get on with my life here. It’s been nearly nine months now. It’s time for me to get on with things.”
He nodded, still not happy.
We reached the ground floor, and he followed me out to my car. We loaded everything into the back.
“Don’t be a stranger, okay kid?” He rubbed the back of his head, suddenly embarrassed, and I laughed, and wrapped my arms around his chest. It was unfairly cute that he insisted on calling me ‘kid’ when I was, technically, older than him. His arms wrapped around my shoulders.
“I have your number in my phone, and we’re connected on every social media platform there is. Plus, you have to come with me the next time I go gambling, because I only win when you’re with me.”
“Sounds like a date,” he snorted a laugh and loosened his hold. “Don’t take any crap from anyone.”
“You know I won’t.” I tilted my head back to meet his gaze, long enough to wink. I pulled the keycard from my pocket and tucked it into one of his jacket pockets. “Make sure Eisuke gets that. My severance package depends upon it.”
He nodded, and his arms began to drop from my shoulders. I started to take a step back, when he cupped my face in his hands and pressed his lips to mine. I grabbed onto his wrists, holding tighter as the kiss drew on, my knees turning to jelly and my heart doing flipflops in my chest. He broke the kiss softly, resting his forehead against mine as we both regained our breath.
“If you ever need anything… I don’t give a damn where I am or what time it is, you call me. Understand?”
“Ye-es…” I managed to gasp.
He kissed my forehead and left, heading back into the hotel.
I managed to climb into my car, my head swimming, my lips still tingling. Finally, I drove away, heading to the capsule hotel.