VIII.

     Taka had long since stopped mentioning Gackt when he was out with the band.  If he had to he'd say, just out with someone, leave it at that.  It made him feel a little bit like he had a secret.  Like Gackt was his secret, and the things they did together were secret things. They went out to no-name clubs, incognito.  They went driving, just the two of them.  They stayed in, sprawled out on a couch together, falling asleep together sometimes, bodies tangled, a secret, alone.  Having a secret was easier than dealing with it.  Airhead, weirdo.  Tonight, Taka had just flicked off the mike and said, "I've got plans."

Hiro caught up with him near the door.

"Plans?"

Mostly the five of them stuck together after a session, all on the same high, or low, depending.  Tonight they'd scattered.  Levin had a column to write.  Koji had vanished for the evening, was probably dating in that quiet, earnest way of his, maybe a serious girl.  The studio was now a darkened space of silent speakers and tangled wires.  Hiro's voice was a shock in the empty room.

"What?" said Taka, starting, and then, relaxing, shrugging the coat on fully, "Oh.  Nothing special.  Just--out with someone."

"Someone."

Hiro produced a slim cigarette from a packet, lit it, then took a long, slow draw.  He held the cigarette like a movie star, between elegant fingers.  They were alone.

With a flick of ash, Hiro said, "Well, how is someone these days?  It's been a while."

"He's fine," said Taka, with deliberate bluntness.

"I see."

Hiro's looks were impenetrable, long hair loose, inky and exotic, skin smooth and pale.  He and Hiro had always been comfortable together.  Now Taka had a knot tightening in his stomach.  Hiro's beauty didn't make things easier.

"I'm late," said Taka awkwardly.

"Don't let me keep you," said Hiro, who was already disappearing out into the hall.
 
 

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