VI.

      "What is it about him that's eating Hiro?" Taka asked Koji, folding his arms.  They were leaning against the back wall of a dark, smoky live house.  This was something Taka had done with Koji since way back when, hanging out, keeping up with local, small time bands, none of them destined to be the next big thing.  It always made Taka think of not-too-distant, desperate days.

"He's pretty," said Koji.

"Hiro's pretty."

"He's an airhead," said Koji, shrugging.

On stage, the guitarist was finishing off a riff.  The reason Hiro never accompanied them to these live houses:  he couldn't stand to hear amateurs fucking with the guitar.

"He's not an airhead."

Koji wet his lips, didn't take his eyes off the band.

"He's not an airhead, Koji."

"Sure.  Okay."

He was an airhead.

Taka had seen him make instant miso with coffee instead of hot water because he was too far off in the clouds to notice which pot he was pouring from.  He'd seen him step out into speeding traffic with that same vague, cloudwisp look in his eyes.  Gackt didn't make arrangements with people in advance, because he said he knew he'd forget them; he preferred his friends to call him up ten minutes before they wanted to do something, and say, "Hey, are you free right now?"

And he was strange.  Not just run-of-the-mill eccentric, but deeply strange in a way that extended way out past his usual weird dreamy style.  Like, the first time he visited Taka's apartment, he'd shied and fidgeted until finally, looking pale and uneasy, he'd asked Taka if he could please read the instruction manual for the stereo in the centre of the living room.  Then he'd curled up on the couch and read it seriously, cover to cover, emerging from it confident and revitalized, smiling, butterfly from chrysalis style.

He'd abandoned the manual on the couch armrest afterwards.  Taken Taka by the arm and dragged him down to sit on the couch with him.  Ignored the stereo.

"He read the instruction manual?"  Levin peeked up at Taka from behind a steaming mug of coffee.  He took small, occasional sips, his red hair falling into his face, obscuring his eyes.

"He said that until he understood something completely, he couldn't be at ease with it in the room."

"That's so weird," said Levin.

"You think so, don't you?"

"It's weird."

Levin took another sip.

"You know what else is weird?" he said.

"What?"

"You."  Levin stuck out his tongue, delicately.  "Weirdo."

"Fuck off, Levi," snorted Taka, as Levin hid his mischievous looks behind the huge mug in his hands.
 
 

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