Beautiful: Part Two - Cage Gray
Kaoru’s eyes were grainy and the dawn seemed hazy to his clouded sight. He had barely slept; he remembered drifting off again on the couch, one arm flung across his eyes, but the sleep had been neither sound nor long-lasting.
As he arrived at practice later that morning he knew he was early, but he had nothing better to do. And he was the band’s leader, after all; this merely showed his dedication to the band.
< Although Dir en Grey is nearly the last thing on my mind, > he thought with bitter irony, staring blankly around the silver-gray parking lot. It wasn’t until he reached the door that led inside and saw Kyo standing there that he glanced around to notice that there were other cars already present.
“Kyo-kun?” he asked curiously, approaching with his guitar in tow. The shorter man jumped at his advance and turned around.
“Shh,” he hushed quickly, motioning Kaoru to be quiet. Kaoru frowned.
“What’s going on?” he demanded in a whisper. Kyo was covertly peering through one of the two plastic windows of the door.
“Die and Toshiya are arguing.” Kyo grinned.
Kaoru continued to frown and followed Kyo’s lead, leaning forward to glance through one of the windows. Sure enough, he saw both Die and Toshiya inside, standing in the hall next to Dir en Grey’s studio. Their practice room was one of the first doors on the left, but it was locked overnight by a faceless custodian who was never seen, and Kaoru had the keys. That was another reason he sometimes came early, so no one had to wait to get inside.
“What are they arguing about?” he asked softly, unable to make out any words clearly.
Kyo snickered. “Hard to say... It sounds like Die didn’t get any last night, though.”
Kaoru tried to express normal emotion, but inside his mind whirled. < Did they have an argument last night, then...? >
“Why do you say that?” he asked carefully, eyes shifting from Kyo to the window. Inside the hallway Toshiya was gesturing violently, seeming quite irritated, and Die was watching him with a dark frown.
Kyo shrugged. “Well... I heard Toshiya say something about ‘not in the mood’ and Die said something about him being a cold bitch and that’s when it really took off.”
< Cold bitch...? > Kaoru’s anger flared, but again, he forced himself to hide the emotion.
< God, I hope this has nothing to do with the fact that I called.... But no, why should it? Unless Toshiya said something... >
But he wouldn’t do that.
Kaoru could still see gestures happening inside and he still heard the rumble of voices.
“C’mon, Kyo, let’s go inside now,” he said. The vocalist pouted.
Kaoru was in no mood to deal with Kyo’s petty desire of eavesdropping. As much as he was curious as to what had transpired the previous night, he knew listening would gain them nothing, perhaps it would only darken his mood.
Moving purposefully, he took hold of the doorknob, rattled it slightly to announce their presence, and then stepped inside.
Immediately the voices cut off, and Toshiya, who had been facing the other direction, toward Die, turned around abruptly.
“Ohayou,” he greeted curtly, forcing a small smile on his face. His eyes were tight, and Kaoru, glancing behind him, saw Die still glowering.
“Morning,” the guitarist replied, directing it to them both. Die muttered something, and Kaoru, with a glance to his side, saw Kyo grinning.
< Kyo... Stay out of this... > he pleaded in silence.
No such luck.
“Aw, Die-kun, you don’t look very happy this morning,” Kyo remarked. Die tossed him a glance but said nothing. “Looks like *someone* didn’t get any last night,” he said, snickering.
Kaoru elbowed him in the ribs, and Kyo let out an indignant squeak. Die’s glare deepened, and Toshiya turned away, angling to face toward the door and away from all three.
Kaoru, sighing, moved to unlock the door, and the silence of the room was thick with tension.
< Totchi... What happened last night? > Once he unlocked the door and stepped inside with his guitar, the others were quick to follow, Die brushing past, Kyo following with a smile still playing on the edge of his lips, and Toshiya entering last.
“Start warming up,” Kaoru told them, setting his things down against the far wall and pulling out his guitar from its case. “That way when Shinya gets here we can start practice right away.”
He saw Toshiya’s gaze shift to him briefly at Shinya’s name, and he carefully avoided those eyes, forcing his own gaze to be dispassionate as he glanced around at the others.
The silence remained tense as the four present band members began to warm up. Normally there would be soft talking or banter; Die and Toshiya would be talking softly, Die would be teasing Shinya, Kaoru would be defending him. But that morning – there was nothing.
When Shinya finally showed up he was ten minutes late.
“Gomen nasai!” he exclaimed breathlessly as he stepped into the room and all eyes turned to him. There was a faint stain upon his cheeks as if he had been running, out of breath, and he bowed slightly.
“It’s okay,” Kaoru said, waving away the apology. Shinya moved toward his place behind the drums.
“Why’re ya late?” Kyo asked, standing up from his perch on the couch with a yawn.
“I overslept,” Shinya said softly, somewhat sheepishly.
Die snickered. “Not gettin’ enough sleep, Shin-chan? What were you doing last night...?” Die’s eyes flickered to Kaoru and then back to Shinya suggestively and teasingly.
Toshiya gave Die a slightly exasperated glance, and looked like he would have elbowed him in the ribs if he had been standing closer.
Shinya bit his lip and turned his face away. Die noticed this, and frowned.
Kaoru cleared his throat, and four pairs of eyes jumped to him. He was only focused on Shinya. They shared a long, deep glance, and then Shinya nodded slightly before letting his eyes slide away. Kaoru pulled his eyes away and let them scan quickly around the others in the room, all watching him with different degrees of curiosity.
He took a short, deep breath. “Anou... I guess you all should know, so – Shinya and I broke up last night... We’re not together any longer.”
It hurt to say that. It hurt a lot.
< I didn’t lie... I really thought we’d last, Shinya... >
No one said anything. Both Shinya and now Toshiya weren’t looking at him, they had their eyes averted; Die was staring at him, face registering clear surprise and consternation, and Kyo had his mouth hanging slightly open.
No one said anything, although questions danced behind their eyes. Shinya, surprisingly, was the first to break the silence.
Tapping one drumstick, he said quietly, “let’s get started with practice since I was holding us up.”
Kaoru held back a sigh, relieved at the silence finally being broken. “Minna – start with Cage.”
Subdued, the five commenced practice. It was a tense and awkward day; the one up-side, Kaoru thought sardonically, was that they all played extremely well.
< Maybe everyone’s just concentrating more than usual... Me and Shinya are trying to forget that we’re not together, Toshiya and Die are mad at each other, and poor Kyo... He must just want to get out of here. >
Kaoru was relieved as he finally announced, breathing the words out in a weary, heavy sigh: “Good work, minna. Practice is over.” A collected sigh was released; perhaps everyone was weary.
The rest of Dir en Grey tactfully ignored the fact that it was earlier than usual to end. They were simply quiet and quick to pick up, dutifully preparing to leave. Kaoru, once he had put his guitar away and was ready to leave, leaned idly against the wall, watching the others as he waited to lock up. He decided locking up himself was the best thing to do, considering that practice was ending so early.
He watched as Shinya stiffly and fluidly avoided the eyes of the others, his gaze cast down. The slender drummer looked up once, at Kaoru, perhaps feeling the guitarist’s eyes on him, and he paused, hesitating. Then he offered the smallest of smiles, though it did not touch his eyes, and Kaoru could do nothing but return the gesture. Then the auburn-haired man turned away and was the first to leave.
Kaoru watched Toshiya and Die once Shinya left, his eyes drifting unavoidably to them, drawn like a moth to a flame. They didn’t speak to each other at first, but he saw a few furtive glances thrown back and forth, and finally Die approached Toshiya. He said something softly, leaning forward so his lips were near Toshiya’s ear. One hand reached up to gently – and with a certain familiarity that was painful to Kaoru – touch Toshiya’s back, resting there.
Kaoru dragged his eyes away, not wanting to see anymore. As he shifted his gaze he found that Kyo was studying him, thoughtfulness in a gaze that was normally only sleep-clouded or sardonically amused. When their eyes met Kyo seemed to make a decision and wandered across the room.
“So,” Kyo said conversationally when he approached, manner and gaze casual. “Is there any chance you’ll tell me what’s going on?”
Kaoru didn’t look at him, let his eyes instead focus idly across the room on nothing. “Shinya and I broke up,” he stated softly.
Kaoru shifted, both irritated and uncomfortable. But he tried not to let that latter sentiment show. “And nothing,” he declared, semi-calm, semi-sighing.
Kyo returned the sigh. “Listen. I may be short, and I may sleep a lot, but that doesn’t mean that I’m dense.” His voice was very direct now, direct and demanding.
Kaoru looked down at him, arching one slender eyebrow. “What does your height have to do with anything?”
Kyo puffed up slightly. “Nothing. I’m just saying.”
Kaoru rolled his eyes. “Whatever, Kyo-kun.” He looked away, but out of the corner of his eye he could still see Kyo peering at him.
“Leave me alone, Kyo, you’re not missing anything. Shinya and I broke up, and those two-” he nodded in the direction of Toshiya and Die – who seemed to have made up – and flinched internally, though he kept his face smooth “-apparently have – or had – some sort of fight last night. End of story.”
Kyo clearly was doubtful, but he finally gave up, at least for the moment. “Alright, alright.... Whatever you say, leader-sama.” He smirked when Kaoru finally favored him with a glare in response to his sarcasm. The vocalist flashed a rather evil-looking grin before wandering out the door.
Kaoru fingered the ring of keys in his hands and sighed, letting his eyes fall to rest on his fingers. Was the tension truly so noticeable? Enough to make Kyo believe that the situation involved more than a simple break-up and fight...?
He hadn’t thought so, initially, but now he wasn’t sure. It was difficult to gauge things when you were locked in a glass cage. From Kyo’s uninvolved view, perhaps it was more obvious than Kaoru thought.
< No, that can’t be. If it is – I have to change that. I can’t let this affect Dir en Grey... >
< I helped to start this, this illicit affair.... I’ve hurt Shinya, Totchi was already hurting... I won’t let Dir en Grey hurt too. >
The only problem there was he didn’t know how to do that. How was he supposed to separate the internal affairs of the members of Dir en Grey from the band itself...?
A snap in front of his face drew him from contemplation.
He looked up, blinking in startlement. Toshiya and Die were near. Die stood in front of him, hand still out from having snapped near Kaoru’s face, and Toshiya stood about five feet away. The bassist wasn’t watching them, his eyes were down and averted, but Die didn’t seem to notice or care.
“Oi, what were you thinking about?” Die demanded, crossing his arms. “You were way off in your own world.”
Kaour forced a weak smile. “Oh... Nothing.”
“I’ll bet it was a new song or something. You always did work too hard...”
< Songs... are the last thing on my mind. >
All he could do was maintain his smile that felt sickly
“Well, we’re off. See ya’ tomorrow, ne?”
Die hardly waited for Kaoru’s murmured “ja ne” before he started through the door. In the process, his fingers closed over Toshiya’s hand.
The slender man acquiesced, but as he was passing Kaoru, he finally looked at him. He cast him a single glance, darkly beautiful and brimming with his hesitation, regret, and sorrow, and Kaoru could only look helplessly back.
“Ja.” Toshiya’s voice was a whisper. Then he disappeared out the door.
Kaoru spoke no words of goodbye to the empty room. In his head he could only see Die taking Toshiya’s hand, pulling him from the room with Toshiya following willingly. One hand not simply holding the other, but both clasped, warm and enveloping.
He flicked off the light, and the room was plunged into soft, gray darkness, light from outside cushioning the black heart. Kaoru slipped out the door and locked it behind him.
He walked down then hall and then into the empty parking lot. He left an empty room behind.
The asphalt was cracked and ash-colored. The sky was securely muffled with clouds. The color of loneliness was gray.
When Kaoru’s phone rang he didn’t feel like answering. He wanted to remain where he was, prone on the couch, face buried in the soft, welcoming pillow that neither judged him nor condemned him, and let it ring.
But he couldn’t just ignore the outside world – he was Dir en Grey’s leader, right? What if it was an important call?
Except – it was seven in the evening. It couldn’t be about business, could it...?
Pushing himself to a sitting position, he reached over with a certain amount of poisoned trepidation and picked up the receiver. “Moshi moshi?”
A long silence. He frowned into it. “Hello? Dare desu ka?” he demanded, irritation growing.
“Kaoru... hi, it’s me.”
His preparatory anger dissolved with that meek voice. His mouth went dry. “Shinya?” he asked softly.
“Hai...” Again, a pause.
Tensely, Kaoru reached out and grabbed the phone cord, beginning to play with it with one hand. It was a nervous habit he had developed; when something upset him, or he was anxious, he needed to do something with his hands, fiddle with anything that happened to be around. He didn’t remember when it developed; he just knew it happened more and more recently, now.
A moment later, a sob struck his ears. His hand froze. “What’s wrong?” he demanded immediately. “Shinya? What happened?”
“Kaoru, I – I...” Another choked noise of crying.
Kaoru took a deep breath, forcing down his alarm with a practiced, internal hand. “Shinya, calm down, whatever it is, it’s alright. Just calm down and then tell me,” he ordered the younger man, hearing his own voice to be calm, but also able to tell that his calm mask was fragile.
He waited patiently as he heard Shinya try to compose himself. After a moment that seemed to envelop an eternity, the drummer spoke.
“I – I’m sorry, Kaoru...”
< Oh God... That’s not the way I want to hear him begin... >
“After practice, I was thinking a lot. And – and a few minutes ago, I... talked to Die.”
Kaoru stopped breathing. “What – what did you say to him?”
Shinya’s wavering control seemed to slip, crack. “I – I told him about.... you and Toshiya.”
Shock. Utter and complete.
“I’m sorry, Kaoru,” Shinya whispered after a long, crackling silence, sounding painfully penitent. There were tears in his voice. “But, I – I didn’t think it was fair, he deserved to know...”
The phone slipped from Kaoru’s hands, dropping harmlessly onto the couch.
< Die... knows. Shinya found out, but now – now *Die* knows, and... >
Muffled crying, mixed with inharmonic words of apology.
< Oh God, what’s going to happen... To me, to Totchi, to Dir en Grey... >
No more tiny words drifting forlorn from the receiver. Now only a harsh, dispassionate beeping as the line went dead from the other end. Numbly, seeing nothing of the world around him, not the walls or the furnishings of his living room, he replaced the phone in its cradle.
< What am I supposed to do? >
He answered himself before he could think straight.
< I have to talk to Totchi... >
Yes, that was what he had to do. He had to tell Toshiya what happened, because... He didn’t know why, but he had to.
Picking up the phone again, now hearing a kinder, but still as unforgiving, dial tone, he typed in the number, brought it to his ear, and waited.
“....Hello?” A quiet whisper, masked, painfully unreadable.
A long silence. Then: “.....Kaoru.....”
“Toshiya, I – Shinya called me a few minutes ago, and....”
“Get off the phone, Kaoru....” A pleading whisper.
A small frown. “Totchi...?”
“Hang up.” A third voice entering. Cold.
“Get the fuck off the phone, Toshiya!” Colder. Louder.
A broken whisper, wrought with unshed tears and unsaid words. “Kaoru...”
The line went dead.
to be continued
back to deg fics pg 3