IV.

      In terms of publicity, everything worked perfectly.  Exposure increased.  Sales went up.   Malice Mizer fans seemed to be of the type who would buy La'Cryma Christi CDs simply because they thought Taka and Gackt looked cute together.  Taka didn't imagine that things worked out quite as well in reverse; he assumed that the benefit to Gackt's band was more about musical credibility than about record sales.  He never said as much to Gackt, who seemed to take photo shoots just as seriously as he took Malice Mizer's music.  Then again, because Gackt said everything in that soft, earnest voice, Taka still didn't quite have a grasp on if and when he was joking.

Taka thought the stuff that they had to do in the early stages sucked.  The faked friendship, the photo shoots, the crappy publicity.  It wasn't so bad for Gackt.  Gackt was at home in front of a camera the way Taka was at home on stage, the place where it all came together, all that intensity, that roiling energy.  In front of a camera, Taka had to fight off the last vestiges of self consciousness, and it didn't help that he wasn't a natural at it the way he was at singing.  It was too easy to get angry.  Irritated by it all.

Gackt went to extreme lengths to get Taka to loosen up, talking Taka out of any awkwardness, murmuring to him to relax, or getting him to laugh at the crucial moment.  Gackt handled it, the space cadet with the hidden professional side.  And that was a needling irritation, wasn't it?  To get home and realize that he'd been handled, by Gackt, who was so out if it usually that he had to be kicked under the table before he noticed that an interviewer had addressed a question to him.  Taka had that on good authority.

Maybe the third of the five shoots that they did together, Gackt came out of his trailer all dolled up in extreme fashion and eight inch heels, with tousled hair and just enough make up to transform him from pretty into jaw-dropping.  Taka thought sourly that if Gackt could sing at all, it was incidental.  One look at that face, those extraordinary fake blue eyes and you'd instantly shell out your thousands of yen for an album.

Yeah, well, they were visual kei, and this was what visual was about, apparently.

Gackt draped himself around Taka's neck, and they held it while a stylist ran up and made a minute adjustment to Gackt's hair.

"I never get to wear a suit anymore," murmured Gackt, sliding his fingers just inside Taka's lapel.

"Because you look so hot when you dress like a sissy, Gaku-chan."

"Relax, Taka."  Gackt's breath was warm against his ear.

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