I.

Camui Gackt was slender and pretty, but also strange and basically a fruit, and you could never tell if the occasionally fragile look in his eyes was genuine or just the result of blue contact lenses and dim lighting. Taka had no idea why he got on with him so well. They'd only been friends in the beginning because their publicists had thought it was a good idea.

"You must be joking," Taka had said, the phone tucked under his chin as he rummaged through a drawer. Good press, the tinny voice on the other end had rattled, drop each other's name at a few interviews, do a photo shoot together, the whole time Taka half a mind elsewhere, thinking, dumb publicity shit, simultaneously with, I know my keys are in here somewhere.

Maybe it was because Gackt had looked just as awkward as Taka that first day at the shoot, his hands shoved deep down into his pockets, his shoulders sloping a little as he leaned against the wall. "Our first date." Gackt said it like a joke; he was nervous, obviously.

"Shitty date." Taka had been pissed off about the whole thing. Like, La'Cryma Christi and his real life weren't cool enough, he had to play out some fake friendship with the kind of singer that fronted every other band. Yeah, some sulkily gorgeous visual kei star with the right pout and the right eyeliner, who couldn't sing, and wouldn't take two steps out of his aparto for fear that his hair would be attacked by that vicious assailant known as the wind.

Maybe some of that showed. He was brusque. Kind of rude. 'Cause Gackt was pretty much exactly what he expected. Taka took in the artful hairstyle and the vacant blue eyes. But Gackt just smiled, hesitantly, shoving his hands deeper into his pockets.

"Yeah, I didn't get you anything. Sorry."

Maybe it was because despite the weirdness, Gackt seemed good natured and fairly casual. Like when Taka had asked him, "So what's it like singing in a band with Mana?" Gackt had murmured, "Fucked up."

So what the hell. They hung out a little and it turned out that Gackt was decent company. He could talk seriously about music and in classical terms knew his stuff, even if it seemed like he didn't listen to any contemporary music at all; mention someone like Yoshiki and he'd shake his head and with a clueless look say, "Are they a new band?"

The night it became a friendship was the night Taka had one too many beers, and somehow ended up singing a Malice Mizer song at karaoke, forcing his voice down as low as it would go until Gackt was as close as he ever came to laughing, snatching the mike after Taka and taking revenge in a version of With You--which started off all right, but their ranges were deeply out of whack, and Gackt ended up singing the chorus and everything that came afterwards in falsetto. By the end of the song, Taka was weeping.

"We're going to hell," Taka said to him, breathlessly, because it had been so much fun, it had felt like some kind of musical sacrilege, or something.

But turning his head to grin at Gackt, Taka found that they were sitting much closer than he'd expected, and Gackt was looking at him in a way that made him think, fuck, fuck.

"It's not hell if you're there with a friend," said Gackt, and in the dim light his blue eyes were all pupil. Then he stood up, slipped his wallet out of his back pocket and disappeared off to pay the tab.

When he realized it wasn't a pass, Taka breathed again, and thought, yeah, okay. As usual, Gackt is just a freaking weirdo. Later, hugging Gackt goodbye the way he always did, feeling that warm, slender body pressed against his own, it occurred to him that, despite the weirdness, and exactly because it wasn't a pass, that, it was stupid but, he was kind of . . . moved.

Shuse and Hiro thought Gackt was an airhead, and Taka learned quickly that Gackt and the members of his own band didn't mix. Hiro was sweet as pie around the members of La'Cryma Christi, but around Gackt he turned into a slippery bitch who used every weapon in his considerable armoury to make the pretty boy look like a fool.

Shuse humoured Gackt, which was worse, because Gackt would be lulled into saying something truly ditzy, and Shuse'd nod and say, "Wow, that's really interesting," and then turn and raise his eyebrows at Hiro, and give Taka merciless hell about it afterwards for days. Worse, Shuse being Shuse, he'd spread his legs and mime jerking off or say, "Oh baby," if someone mentioned Gackt's name, and he wasn't above asking Taka if Gackt's ass was as fuckable as the rest of him.

"Listen, I'm sorry about--" Taka had said once, when they were on their own, sure that Gackt was picking up on it, and he wanted to die when Gackt looked up and smiled, like he had no clue that behind his back the others were tearing strips off him.

"Hey, no. It's okay. They seem nice. Hiro--he reminds me a lot of Mana."

"Uh." Awkwardly. "Yeah, he's--" Taka thought of the Hiro he'd known back in college. Back when they could spend all night sprawled together drinking beer and talking about nothing, before that Hiro had disappeared behind long, dark lashes and a waterfall of silky black hair. "--changed."

But Gackt was already looking off to one side, a sign that he had turned his mind to other things, had let it go. So Taka let it go too, sort of, but he stopped inviting Gackt out with the band. Started seeing him one on one. It was just easier that way, and Taka found he could relax more away from the judgement of his friends. Gackt didn't seem to mind that arrangement either.

And so.

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