IX.

     Gackt never talked to people about his life before Malice Mizer, because that was the time when he had just been a freak, before his strangeness became a commodity, like his face and his body.  He sometimes saw memory-like images, snippets of other lives, and he told people that he had been a hitman, a drummer, a hooker, a foreigner, a military scientist, an engineer.  Most but not all of what he said was untrue.

In the beginning all he had wanted was to impress Mana.  It had been new to him then.  It had all been new to him then.  Androgyny not something he was used to.  And his strangeness was as nothing compared to Mana's; cold, beautiful Mana, who obsessively watched horror movies, and who wore those cute babydoll dresses all the time.  Mana had once said, "When people tell me, 'I love you', it irritates me.  Pushing your feelings onto another person, that's the kind of attitude that I hate."

Gackt was the second vocalist to front Malice Mizer.  He was the newcomer, which made him the outcast.  He didn't mind.  He was used to it.  It was easy enough to turn up five or ten minutes late for rehearsal and beeline straight for the microphone, saying, "What do I sing first?" when he got there.  He didn't mind because although he was the newcomer, he worked the hardest.  He worked harder than everyone except Mana.  He worked at singing.  He worked at publicity.  Malice Mizer won a major record label contract and he only worked harder.  The band was going places with Gackt that it could never have gone with Tetsu.

Because it was impossible to impress Mana with anything but obedience and total dedication to the band.

And then, the first time he had seen Mana with a girl, Gackt had felt so--taken aback--and Kozi had noticed, downed his drink and wandered over, slinging an arm around Gackt's shoulder.  "He doesn't take off the clothes.  When he does it."

"Shut up."  Gackt had shoved out from under his arm.

"He likes the girl on top, but you know, he's frigid, he hardly ever--"

Kozi was laughing at him.  He ignored it.  And got drunk.  And was still drunk when the live started, so that the crowd felt far away and hazy and his voice seemed to melt into Mana's guitar.  A hand in the small of his back pushed him stumbling offstage as the live ended, the crowd screaming Gakuto, Gakuto.

Mana, coldly,  "It's over for you if you ever do that to us on stage again."

Over?  "I'm the vocalist--"

"Tokyo's full of pretty boys who can't sing."

Gackt looked down and saw that his hands were shaking.  He closed his eyes and when he opened them again, Mana was gone, but he could still hear the crowd, chanting his name.

He called Taka and they went driving.

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