Shalle a la rilla
by !Super Cat
It was Thursday night, after filming, and Tsuyoshi was sitting with Kouichi and Gackt in a downtown ramen shop. The table had a barely wiped-down clean look to it, and in the far back of the shop, an old television was playing an NHK samurai drama. Takizawa was sitting with them, too straight-backed on the little chair. Inviting him along had been Kouichi's idea, one of his really, really bad ones. Taki's smile was sweet and charming, and his pin-up looks were casually boy-next-door, but his smile kept flashing in and out at odd moments, and he wouldn't relax.
Probably, Gackt was throwing him off.
Tsuyoshi glanced up over his ramen bowl at Gackt, who sat at the corner of the table, gazing off into the air, like the spacy version of a classical greek statue. He was wearing the designer suit and tinted orange sunglasses that were his recent trademark. In front of Gackt another, identical bowl of cheap ramen sat untouched. Gackt had an air of impossible cool about him. It was a non-ramen-eating cool. Tsuyoshi and Kouichi were used to it. Taki was fidgeting and getting tongue tied and hesitating over his own bowl.
Yep, thought Tsuyoshi as he slurped up his ramen heartily. Way off.
"What's good to eat here?" Taki had asked when they arrived, sliding into the seat and flashing his smile.
"The ramen sucks," Tsuyoshi mentioned as he hunched over his menu.
"It's, um, a ramen shop," said Taki, blinking.
"Yeah," agreed Tsuyoshi.
"Uh. I guess I'll have the kare don," said Taki to the oji-san who was waiting for his order. He really had to search the menu for something that wasn't ramen. After ordering, he smiled again, awkwardly. He had the manners of someone who only ever ate at expensive restaurants, and he seemed like he wasn't sure what to do with them.
"The ramen," Tsuyoshi said, putting down his menu.
"The same," said Gackt, who always waited for Tsuyoshi to order and then got the same. It didn't matter what Gackt ordered, since he never ate anything.
"Are you dieting?" Taki finally said to Gackt, in an attempt to be both polite and casual. In fact, he was staring at Gackt's meal, unable to hold back. The ramen was congealing into a cold mess of meat and noodles in front of Gackt by this time.
Gackt ignored the question. Just kept gazing off into thin air, displaying a classic three quarter profile.
"Um," said Taki, as silence fell. Then, looking to Kouichi and Tsuyoshi for help, "Um?"
"Gackt," said Tsuyoshi, clearly.
(Back when their people had first begun negotiating with Gackt's people, someone on Gackt's management team had told them earnestly, "If you say his name clearly before you ask him a question, he's more likely to answer you.")
"Hmm?" said Gackt, looking over at him.
"You're not eating?"
"No, I'm okay."
Taki's chopsticks clattered into his bowl. Tsuyoshi hid his grin
behind a slurp of noodles.
Outside the ramen shop they were saying their goodbyes when Gackt blinked and came back to himself. He drew off his sunglasses and looked over with killer blue eyes at Taki. "I'd like to meet up again, when you're free," Gackt told Taki in a soft, deep voice.
"I. I," said Taki.
Tsuyoshi shook his head and thought, Un. Believable.
"Are you free right now?" said Gackt, ignoring everything in the world but Taki, who was looking desperately to Tsuyoshi and Kouichi for guidance, a sign, something--anything--and not finding it. Tsuyoshi was too amused to give anything away.
"I--" said Taki.
"Then let's go." Gackt replaced his sunglasses and gave Tsuyoshi and Kouichi a wordless wave goodbye.
"That was predictable," sighed Tsuyoshi, after they'd left.
"What was?" asked Kouichi.
"You are, like, the brains of the duo," said Tsuyoshi, slinging an arm around Kouichi's shoulder.
Tsuyoshi had never been on a date with Gackt, but he'd heard from those who had. They told stories like, 'He just sat there and didn't say anything.' Or, 'He wandered off half way through the date and didn't come back.' Or, 'I don't know what's wrong. He never tried anything.'
"I like kissing so much I'll do it with anyone," Gackt had said ingenuously one night on Domoto Brothers, and he had almost demonstrated on Tsuyoshi in front of millions of viewers--but not really, right? Not Gackt. Because behind his back, the Domoto Band said that bisexual in Gackt's case just meant he was frigid with boys as well as girls. Gackt was a good guy, but also, let's face it, a total weirdo, and it was impossible to imagine him doing it with anyone.
"How was the date?" Tsuyoshi asked him the next week.
"What date?" Gackt's eyes looked devastatingly cool behind a pair of thirty thousand yen sunglasses.
"Taki," said Tsuyoshi.
"Who?" Gackt blinked, curiously.
"The guest on last week's show," prompted Tsuyoshi, rolling his eyes. Millions of Japanese would have recognized the name 'Taki'. Gackt spent an evening with the guy and forgot his name.
"Oh. It was nice," said Gackt absently.
"And how come you never invited me out on a date," Tsuyoshi said, using the mock-offended tone he used with female guests at the end of the show when they were asked to tap the guy they thought was the most handsome on the shoulder, and they tapped Gackt, every time, every single time, except when they (very occasionally) tapped Kouichi.
"The same reason you never invited me out on a date," Gackt said calmly.
"Uh," said Tsuyoshi as he mentally sorted through those reasons, searching for the one Gackt could possible have meant: He didn't date guys. He didn't date other talent. He basically thought of a first date as, QED the first of a series of dates, not a one-off in which he was left alone completely flummoxed as to his date's behaviour. "Um--"
"Hey guys, this is Utada Hikaru," Kouichi interrupted them, coming to Tsuyoshi's rescue. He had a girl in a tight fitting black Gautier suit in tow. Utada Hikaru was the number one selling female artist in Japan, but she attended college in the United States so she almost never appeared on Japanese television. This was a real scoop for the Domoto show. But Tsuyoshi knew that Kouichi was secretly pissy, unable to get over the fact that Hikaru had agreed to appear on Domoto Brothers, but not on his other music show, Pop Jam. Kouichi got secretly pissy about a surprising number of things.
Tsuyoshi was used to not being the handsome one. So he got along with Gackt better than most people. He thought there was a little something between Gackt and Kouichi, though. A little some Thing, to do with Kouichi, who didn't like getting upstaged. Kouichi was serious about stuff like his hairstyle and the dance segment on Pop Jam, and since the age of fifteen, he had been the best looking guy in any room he walked into. And then came the day when he walked into a room with Gackt in it.
After the first couple of shows, Kouichi said that he wanted to get rid of the segment where the female guest tapped the best looking guy on the shoulder, but it was an audience favourite and it stayed. Kouichi's sultry eyes meant that his sulky face looked a lot like his normal face, but Tsuyoshi could tell the difference, and he suffered with the sulky looks for three weeks before he turned up at Kouichi's apartment with Kirin beer for himself and Pucca (Kouichi's secret vice) in the new giant super size for Kouichi.
"Do you think he had plastic surgery?" Kouichi speculated, his arms folded. It was a blank, defensive question.
"How should I know. Ask him."
"You ask him," said Kouichi, stiffly.
"Hey Gackt, did you have plastic surgery?" Tsuyoshi asked that night at the ramen shop, and Kouichi froze, holding a gyouza between chopsticks in mid air.
"If I'd had plastic surgery," said Gackt in a confused voice, "wouldn't I have made myself beautiful?"
Tsuyoshi looked at Gackt's basically flawless face and said, "Well,
that answers that question."
There was a rumour that to make it in Johnny's Entertainment you had to blow the company president. It was pretty much true when it came to Kouichi's dancers, otherwise known as the Johnny's Entertainment boys. It was not true in the case of Tsuyoshi and Kouichi, who had reached the level of first tier talent before their fifteenth birthday. Tsuyoshi would never have done it anyway, not for fame or money. Tsuyoshi liked girls, and that was that. But he had got drunk enough at a party once that he ended with one of the dancers' heads between his legs, so he could certainly testify to their skill in that area. Kouichi was too uptight to screw anyone from the same management team.
When the dancers found out that Kouichi and Tsuyoshi were working with Gackt they crowded around and asked questions like, "Is he always like that?" and "Do you have his phone number?"
"He's always like that," said Kouichi. "Even in private."
"He's worse in private," said Tsuyoshi.
"The dancers asked for your number today," Tsuyoshi said to Gackt that night at the ramen shop. "All of them."
"Really? I have a new feature on my phone that lets me talk to more than one person at the same time," Gackt answered, pulling out his mobile and pressing a few buttons on it to show Kouichi.
"That's not a new feature. That's been around since last year," said Kouichi, glancing at it briefly.
"Oh. No one told me." Gackt was staring down at his phone with a little frown.
"Kouichi probably didn't want you dating all his dancers," said Tsuyoshi.
Kouichi said rather crossly, "Gackt, I was not holding back information about call forwarding to keep you away from the dancers. You can date them if you want to."
"It's all right, my car's not big enough," said Gackt. "It's only a two seater."
They only had the illusion of normal in the ramen shop. In fact, the place was completely closed for one hour so that they could come in a side door, eat their ramen in peace, and leave. Kouichi had a late rehearsal, so he gulped his food and ran. Gackt stayed until Tsuyoshi had finished, though he had no real reason to wait. It wasn't like he had to finish his meal. He wasn't eating the ramen that he had ordered, as usual.
It had been bugging Tsuyoshi for a while, scuttling around the bottom of his mind, but it wasn't until they were out of the shop and walking in the thick summer night that he finally let it out.
"The reason I never asked you out on a date," said Tsuyoshi, "was because you're a guy. That was all."
"No it wasn't," said Gackt.
"Huh?" said Tsuyoshi, stopping by Gackt's car.
"It wasn't because I'm a guy."
He was still standing there thinking 'Huh?' as Gackt drove away.
And now it really was bugging him. "He said that he never asked me out on a date for the same reason that I never asked him out on a date, can you believe that?" said Tsuyoshi, fully expecting Kouichi to be on his side, or at the very least join willingly into any anti-Gackt conversation.
"And then I actually even bothered to ask him about it, and he said that--huh?"
"I said yes."
"Yes?" said Tsuyoshi, all but throwing down his chopsticks.
"Yes," said Kouichi. "There's no need to look at me like we were doing manzai."
"Why don't you tell me the reason, then."
"We're all competing. It's a popularity contest. He knows that. He knows that if you date the people you're competing against, you lose the edge. That's why I never asked him out. That's certainly why he never asked either of us out."
"Is that why you never asked me out?"
A look like he was crazy. "Why would I ask you out? I don't date guys."
Tsuyoshi had met Gackt for the first time the year before, when 'Gackt and Kinki Kids' had appeared together on Music Station. It had been instant chemistry, fifteen minutes of banter that had the interviewer almost in tears. Tsuyoshi was funnier than Kouichi and better at interviews, but it was Gackt's off the wall answers to questions that stole the show. Then the interviewer had asked Gackt which other singers were his friends, and Gackt had said, "I don't really . . . I don't have a lot of friends, so . . . "
"It's hard to make friends in this industry," said Kouichi. "No one has a lot of time, and people can be competitive."
"You three are certainly going to become friends after tonight, aren't you," said the interviewer, still wiping his eyes from one of the comments made earlier.
And there was a moment when the strange, superlatively beautiful guy who had risen from alternative beginnings in visual kei and the two clean cut, Johnny's Entertainment pop icons had just looked at one another.
"It's a promise," said Tsuyoshi.
"You coming?" Ma-kun asked him.
"No, I'm just finishing up, I'll head out later," said Tsuyoshi, his eye on Gackt who was talking to one of the show's crew members near the front of the set. When Gackt was finished talking, Tsuyoshi marched over.
"Hey you," he said.
"Tsuyoshi-kun," said Gackt.
"That thing about how you can't date people you're competing against because you lose some kind of edge or something? That is Kouichi's reason for not asking you out. That is not my reason." He wanted to be clear.
Gackt gazed at him, somehow managing to look on the verge of speaking and yet distant at the same time.
"What?" demanded Tsuyoshi.
"Are you asking me out on a date?" said Gackt.
"I," said Tsuyoshi, blinking.
"If you are, I'm free at nine."
"I'll pick you up."
"I." Tsuyoshi was suddenly reminded of Taki outside the ramen shop.
And then it was too late.
He had to call Kouichi and Ma-kun, but he told them he was cancelling because of, "Um, something." There was no possibility of telling Kouichi, "I accidentally agreed to go out on a date with Gackt."
He had two hours to kill until nine (who knew what Gackt was doing in that time?), and he spent them getting the stage makeup washed from his face, and changing his hair from carefully spiked to carefully messy, a style that in the last year or so had become popularly known as 'random.'
He thought, 'Why not?' By all accounts, remote, untouchable Gackt never tried anything on dates (if his behaviour towards Taki was any indication, he forgot the date had even happened within a space of seven days) so Tsuyoshi was safe there. And Tsuyoshi's interest was piqued; rumours and tall tales about dates with Gackt abounded. When he met Gackt outside of Fuji Television, Tsuyoshi had a grin on his face that said, 'A date, huh?'
Then they got into the car and Gackt started confidently driving off somewhere.
"Um, where are we going?" asked Tsuyoshi.
Gackt's driving style was consistent with his image, cool, effortless and serenely oblivious to the traffic accidents he seemed to avoid by sheer luck rather than driving skill.
"Do you, uh, always take dates back to your apartment?" Tsuyoshi asked, a little stunned, too stunned to protest.
Gackt's apartment was exactly what he expected, completely weird.
Gackt walked in and didn't turn on any of the lights, which Tsuyoshi put down to absent mindedness until he flicked the switch himself a few times and nothing happened.
"I don't have them."
"Gackt, I should probably tell you that this is already, like, the weirdest date that I have ever been on."
"Well," said Tsuyoshi, and then stopped. Gackt had taken off his sunglasses and tossed them casually onto a small table by the door, and then he had taken off his suit jacket and dropped it over a chair, and now he was loosening his tie. The effect was that of a supermodel removing piece after piece of clothing and dropping them behind her on the catwalk. Tsuyoshi wasn't sure whether he was relieved or not when Gackt did not remove anything further.
"You told Kouichi that you always take people out to see a nightview," said Tsuyoshi a little defensively, referring to a comment about dating that Gackt had once made on the show.
"Oh," Gackt said, padding in socked feet into the next room (they had both taken off their shoes at the door). "Come here."
Tsuyoshi followed him apprehensively.
Gackt's apartment looked like it had once been a minimalist designer's dream, white and spacious, holding a very few clean-lined pieces of furniture. Except that now, half-melted candles of every colour and description crowded the few available surfaces, and even some corners of the floor. The single, white bookshelf was empty of books and piled with candles. The only ornaments that Tsuyoshi could see were in the room Gackt had led him into (not the bedroom, a shining moment of relief). And because those ornaments were human skulls in a little pile on the floor, some with candles poking out of them, Tsuyoshi was a bit too preoccupied with staring at them to realize what Gackt had brought him into the room for. At first.
Then he looked up.
"Oh," he said.
One entire wall was glass, and the view, a wall of Tokyo lights, was spectacular.
"This isn't the view I usually bring people to see," murmured Gackt, slipping a glass of cheap Suntory whiskey into Tsuyoshi's hand. Tsuyoshi didn't realize what it was until he had a sip, then coughed hard.
"Your apartment is really strange," said Tsuyoshi, inanely.
"I like it," said Gackt.
Gackt put the bottle down near the enormous glass wall, and then sat next to it, a casual sprawl on the floor. Tsuyoshi joined him, and they gazed out at the view. A few minutes passed before Tsuyoshi remembered that, 'He just sat there and didn't say anything,' was a common complaint from those who had dated Gackt. He glanced sideways with some interest. Gackt was indeed just sitting there and not saying anything, looking rapt with the view. Rapt and beautiful. And silent.
Tsuyoshi felt a shade of the same amusement he'd experienced watching Gackt flummox Taki. He thought, yeah, if this were actually a date where I was trying to impress him or something, this would be really annoying.
"Gackt," he said clearly. Gackt's ability to ignore people had extended to waiters, friends, extremely famous guests on the show, there was no reason why it wouldn't extend to his date.
Gackt looked over at him.
"What is it with you and nightscapes?" Tsuyoshi asked him.
Gackt was silent for a while.
"At night," he said finally, "I need to look at lights. And just one isn't enough. Because I'm an addict. I need hundreds. If I'm in my room alone and it's dark, I need to know that at any moment I could get up and go somewhere to see lights. All the lights in the city, if I wanted to. I need to reassure myself of that."
Tsuyoshi felt the amusement slip away, to be replaced by an uneasy shiver.
They all knew Gackt was strange, they joked about it. The question of how strange, and why, had never really come up.
"When I first came to Tokyo, I didn't know anywhere I could go to look at lights. At that time, I was in Malice Mizer, and I kept bothering the other band members until finally Kami took pity on me and took me driving, but he took me to the beach. It was wrong. It was dark. The waves were crawling towards us, we were all alone, and I got . . . crazy . . ."
"Crazy?" echoed Tsuyoshi, in a hollow voice. All of a sudden, the whimsically curious way he'd approached the date, his amused interest in Gackt's private life, all of it, just seemed like a really, really bad idea. "What-- happened?"
"Why, are you scared of me?" Gackt was closer, watching him.
"I--" The closer Gackt came, the less he found he could say.
"Do you want to know why I never asked you out on a date?"
He opened his mouth to answer, couldn't speak.
"Because I knew you'd say yes," said Gackt, closing the distance, taking silence for assent.
Letting a dancer blow him when he was half drunk was very different to letting Gackt kiss him when he was sober. Gackt's kiss was slow but demanding, it pulled at Tsuyoshi like an undercurrent, and when Tsuyoshi parted his lips, the kiss deepened and took over.
He could have said no. Meant to say it. Just, he had a body pressed against his own and then a slow-kneading hand down his pants and he couldn't seem to catch hold of the elusive piece of resistance in his soul.
The entire wall was glass. He thought, everybody can see us. Everybody can--
His eyes closed. His fingers grasped at Gackt's shirt. And if Gackt wanted to fuck him for real at that same, languorous pace, was he going to just spread his legs and let it happen? He thought dizzily, no wonder Gackt likes kissing: it feels like this.
At some point Gackt knelt up and Tsuyoshi followed him, one arm wrapped against Gackt's neck. Like a girl. But he didn't feel like a girl, with the silk of Gackt's mouth under his, urging him on. Gackt was more girl than he, although, not quite. Not enough, and Tsuyoshi's nerves were firing skittishly through the heat. He ran his hands up Gackt's torso, hard, male. Gackt was murmuring in Tsuyoshi's ear, here and there, suggesting things that only a man could do and Tsuyoshi's belly was flip flopping wildly. He could have said no. He could have. But-- had anyone ever said no to Gackt?
He tried for a little more control. His hands came up to undo buttons, but Gackt somehow avoided this and it was Tsuyoshi who ended up losing his shirt. It barely registered, because soon after Gackt pushed him against the glass, dipped his head over the v-shape of Tsuyoshi's unzipped trousers and-- went down--
Tsuyoshi arched his back against the glass and cried out.
He couldn't look down because the sight of that head in his lap would have sent the world spinning out from under him. He was panting. Gackt's mouth was wet and slow. It was a while before Tsuyoshi's hands convulsed in Gackt's hair and his mind flashed for an instant white.
There was the distant sound of a key turning in a lock.
Gackt drew back. He was still fully dressed. He was running his fingertips lightly over his lips, a habit of his. His expression had an untouchable and slightly bored look to it that was characteristic and familiar.
"Hi," said a voice. (A voice? Tsuyoshi was in no state to make sense of anything).
"Oh, hi You," said Gackt.
Tsuyoshi, stunned, watched through a clearing haze as a young man he had never seen before walked past and stroked Gackt's hair briefly in greeting, like an owner absently petting a cat. He knew the name, You. You was Gackt's violinist. You had blond hair and a pair of the most arrogant cheekbones that Tsuyoshi had ever seen.
Tsuyoshi was still in disarray, his pants unzipped, looking in more than one respect thoroughly blown.
"I like that hair," said You to Tsuyoshi, "random style, right?" and continued on into the kitchen.
Tsuyoshi gathered his thoughts together.
"Gackt-- what is your violinist doing here?"
"We live together," said Gackt.
The calm way Gackt was looking at him, it took a moment to hit him.
"I," said Tsuyoshi. "I can't-- this isn't--"
He hailed a taxi when he got to the main street. He sat in the back seat and said, "A hotel, anywhere, I don't care," but when the taxi pulled up somewhere called Hotel Azad, which was clearly a love hotel, Tsuyoshi shook his head to clear it more and said, "No, wait-- I'm not staying here. Hang on, this is my address, " and told the driver where to go.
He thought, you agreed to the date, you went back to his apartment, what did you think was going to happen when you let him kiss you?
He thought, I am never going to be able to have sex with anyone else ever again.
He thought, what did you expect?
He groaned and let his head rest against the taxi window as city sped past outside.
At rehearsal, "You look like crap. Where were you last night?"
"I accidentally agreed to go out on a date with Gackt."
It just came out. Kouichi choked on his bottled water.
"I really wish I hadn't."
"I really wish you hadn't," said Kouichi.
"He was right about why I never asked him out," said Tsuyoshi, tiredly.
"Well, I told you," said Kouichi.
Tsuyoshi opened his mouth to say no, it wasn't like that-- to tell Kouichi about everything, about You, about how the hell was he supposed to work with Gackt now?
But what he said was, "Yeah."
"You look like crap."
"Come on," said Kouichi after a long moment, decisively reaching for his jacket.
"Come on what?"
"Let's just forget it all and go get some decent ramen."