: Butterfly InfernoRating
: PG-13 (future R rating)Pairing/Group:
KAT-TUN member ai, Akame, Nakanishi, Kokame and several, several othersSummary:
In desperation each member of KAT-TUN silently makes his effort to repair the problem they’re all afraid to talk about, but too often desire rides higher than necessity. It’s only when it’s most painful that they begin to realise how much they need one another and how foolish they were not to see it sooner.
( Chapter One Cont'd )
When Maru pushes the dressing room door open, Ueda and Kame are mid-laughter with eyes fixed on, for some reason, Taguchi who has Koki by the front of the shirt. Koki has his theatrics switched on with his eyes widened and his lips trembling. There’s only the minor, usual break in conversation that comes when Akanishi wordlessly brushes past Nakamaru to flop carelessly on the sofa opposite Ueda. Kame, straddling a chair backwards, has become an expert at pretending nothing just happened. Instead he fixes a bright-eyed grin on Nakamaru.
“Come watch what those two are rehearsing to do before the VTR screening today,” he says, getting up to walk over. “Taguchi’s supposed to make him mad, then Koki gets attacked instead.” Kame’s thin fingers wrap warmly around his arm, and Maru is forcibly reminded of how many times, five years ago, he’d sat and listened to Kame half-sob that no one talked to him anymore, that all the Johnny’s juniors their age hated him or talked behind his back. Nakamaru also couldn’t help thinking about the day two years ago he’d found Kame in a bathroom of some bar in Ginza, practically vomiting his stomach up, hiccoughing out warm words that could only have been Jin’s. Kame kept telling Maru everything with that constant refrain, “…because I trust you.”
However much the guilt strikes him, Nakamaru had come to the understanding that Kame was just the type of person you had to hide things from. He was tender in the way that he thought he was strong, and anyone who knew Kame well could see immediately when something small had needled its way inside him. The way he’d stop eating, just completely stop like he’d forgotten that he needed to. He’d invite his juniors out to dinner, his treat, but all he’d order for himself were the daiquiris and shochu in tall glasses. Then as all his guests and admirers chatted amiably around him, he’d slowly and systematically get himself drunk.
The audience’s screams are as deafening as ever as they each step upstage. Nakamaru always takes extra care to brace himself before coming out here. It’s something he’s never really been able to pinpoint, but it occurs to him often that even when he’s at the age of forty, he’ll still get stagefright. Before long, Kame begins the intro, and he can settle back into ad-lib, rehearsed insults, and timed laughter.
Akanishi bumps shoulders with him just as the applause is dying down. Nakamaru decides not to react; he isn’t too sure just yet how effectively he can communicate with Jin on camera especially when there are still some vestiges of the other man’s taste just on the inside of his bottom lip.
“Summer is ending, isn’t it? Any new things you’ve noticed for the coming autumn?” Kame prompts, swivelling to glance quicky at Taguchi.
“Hai!” The tallest member raises his hand swiftly. “I’ve noticed something.”
“Hai, Taguchi, douzo.”
Taguchi, grin wide as ever, folds his hands in front of him and looks over at Koki. “Koki, your clothing choice recently has become cute.”
Koki’s timing is deliberately perfect as his head whips in Taguchi’s direction, withering look in place. “Hah?” he says and Nakamaru has to bite his lip to keep from smiling. It may be rehearsed, but Maru has always been weak against Koki’s brand of humour.
“Your clothing choice…you were going for the cute pattern. It suits you na!” Maru can never tell if it’s intentional, but Taguchi’s wearing his most annoying expression.
Koki’s once decisively enraged expression goes blank. “Arigatou,” he mutters humbly.
Without thinking, Nakamaru bursts out. “Eh?? You won’t get angry?” Koki never did like following the show’s script even when he himself wrote it.
They audience erupts laughing right along with Taguchi as Kame offers a smack across the back of Koki’s head. Ueda meets Maru’s eye as he shakes with chuckles, and he can feel Akanishi tug lightly on the back of his coat. These are one of their finer moments on television, and it reminds Nakamaru all too clearly why they’re all still doing this. Painful as it has become, it is these moments that are like a salve.
That night, Nakamaru goes out to eat with Ueda, but such a thing has become routine for the both of them. After all, Maru likes to end his day this way, no stress or unnecessary banter; just the distant and unobtrusive aura the other man emits when he’s eating. It is more than calming, it’s healing. When Nakamaru first met Ueda, he was under the immediate impression that he’d never quite figure him out, but within that same year it seemed Ueda’s mannerisms had become engraved in his mind. Maru would never quite know what Ueda Tatsuya was about to do next, but once he’d done it, Nakamaru found he know exactly why it had been done. Such a predictable unpredictability set Maru at ease.
It was also easy to think around Ueda since the boy was always doing that himself, sometimes breaking off his run-on, off-topic statements with a sudden frown or an abrupt laugh.
Ueda keeps his hands on his lap as he leans over his menu until his face is mere inches from the page. He’s a twenty-six year old going on twenty-seven and still stubborn enough that he won’t wear his glasses when he needs them. “Lately I’ve realised that I don’t much like mushrooms,” he murmurs.
Nakamaru finds this, among many other titbits of information that Ueda flings out now and then, lacking in substance. He doesn’t comment as he looks over his own menu; he feels perfectly at ease doing so until he realises that he’s being looked at. Ueda’s eyes are hard as always, and that has always been significant to Maru; the way the guy is deceptively beautiful, but startlingly strong mirrored by a strictly male mindset.
“I was beginning a conversation,” Ueda states sternly.
“Gomen, what was it again?”
“What I said before isn’t necessary now since we’re already talking. I actually have something to tell you. Please listen.”
Maru is humouring this behaviour since he’s not sure if Ueda’s joking or if he really is that neurotic. He nods.
“First…you and I both know something, and we haven’t been talking about it; something none of us has talked about since it began.”
It is only now that a burgeoning panic rises in Maru’s middle. He folds his menu a little fretfully, thinking quickly of ways to put this conversation off. It could mean addressing so many things, all of his thoughts, feelings, and worst of all his fears. He can feel Jin’s presence in the middle of it all, like an ugly centrepiece in the middle of a room. The taste he savours in his mouth.
“Before I didn’t care either way…Ka-they could do whatever they like because it’s their private life, and it never got in the way of anything. But let’s be honest, the breakup will always be the thing that made KAT-TUN what we are today. We’re all…I mean, you, me, Koki, and Taguchi; we’re all getting better at this, all doing our best, but lately it’s more difficult…for me.”
Nakamaru is aware that Ueda is getting ready to start ranting, the other boy’s hands are curled on top of his menu, white swimming under his calloused knuckles. Maru leans back and folds his arms, not quite sure how to reply.
“We…” He pauses; the words are distant from him. “We need to keep trying. If Akanishi…their situation is complicated; it’s something we don’t understand because we’re not them. Kame isn’t dealing with it properly and he’s not moving on. Ji-Akanishi is quiet because he knows if he starts talking then Kame will fade out, and that’s more frightening than any….than anything.”
Ueda’s stress threshold is a high one, so it bothers Nakamaru when the other boy rubs the sides of his head quickly, impulsively. “That’s not it…Kame has moved on; at least I thought he had-“
“If you’re talking about the thing with Kyon-chan…”
“I’ve been sleeping with him.”
Nakamaru feels the bottom of his stomach drop away as his mouth goes dry. The words hang between them like dust and Ueda’s expression crosses from helplessness to sheer relief. ( Chapter One Cont'd )