Beautiful: Part Three - Unable to Resist
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
Toshiya squeezed his eyes shut, but behind the closed lids he could still see Die bearing down over him.
“Die, I... I...” He swallowed, he couldn’t speak. He was on his bed, still near the phone but never thinking of touching it, and Die stood over him, loomed over him.
When Die had walked in a few minutes ago, everything had been normal. Everything had *seemed* normal. And then Toshiya had seen the look in Die’s eyes.
“What’s wrong?” he had asked, blinking.
“Shinya... Just called me...”
Die’s mobile phone had been in his hand. Toshiya, puzzled, had let his eyes trail down to the phone, seeing only then how tightly Die clutched it.
“He told me about you and Kaoru.” Die’s voice had been dangerously low and flat.
Toshiya’s mouth had gone dry. Every muscle had frozen. “Die... I...”
“What the *fuck* is going on!?” The cell phone crashed to the ground, fire and anger flashed in those eyes.
Tears had stung Toshiya’s own eyes. “I’m sorry,” he had implored immediately, helplessly, seeing it to be the only thing he could say. His carefully constructed world had begun to tremble. He had moved to sit up then, lift a supplicating hand, but Die took a step forward and he shrank back, holding back a sob, cowering. It was then that the phone had rung.
<<< For the first two rings Toshiya and Die stared at each other. Then Die’s eye flicked to the phone, minutely, and Toshiya, shaking, reached over and picked it up.
“Hello?” His voice did not quite fail him, but it was a whisper. He tried to keep the straining emotion out of his voice. He wasn’t looking at Die, but he could still see the icy fire in his eyes, the tightness of his jaw muscles.
He almost dropped the phone. Convulsively, he tightened his fingers to keep his grip. He could feel Die’s eyes hard on his back. He closed his eyes. “Kaoru,” he murmured, heart aching.
“Toshiya, I...” A pause. His voice was more emotional than usual, he was not their cool, calm leader, he was distraught, upset. He continued. “Shinya called me a few minutes ago, and...”
< You, you of all people... I can’t talk to you now, Kaoru, I can’t... >
“Get off the phone, Kaoru...” His voice was desperate and pleading.
< I have to hang up, but I can’t, I don’t want to... Oh god, I can’t hang up on you, but... > His eyes still burned.
“Totchi...?” There was confused, hurt questioning in his voice.
“Hang up.” Die’s voice was harsh and commanding. He had said nothing when Toshiya first murmured Kaoru’s name – he knew Die had heard – but now he was reacting.
He knew Kaoru could hear on the other end of the phone. As he squeezed his eyes shut, fought tears, and tried to find his voice, he heard Kaoru’s forlorn, soft voice.
< Kaoru, Kaoru... >
“Get the fuck off the phone, Toshiya!” He flinched. Die’s words were palpable, they were colder, louder, struck him like knives.
< Kaoru... Don’t leave me... >
“Kaoru...” The words escaped his lips like a moan.
Die’s hand came down upon the cradle, and the line became a dial tone. >>>
“Please calm down,” he whispered imploringly, gazing up at Die. The hurt and anger, both naked in the guitarists’ eyes, struck him forcibly.
< I don’t know what will happen, how this can be resolved, but... But if you don’t calm down this will hurt us more. I’m sorry, I’m sorry... >
Die’s jaw was tight, as if he wanted to speak but was trying to adhere to Toshiya’s plea, the bassists’ words remarkably reaching past his anger. He turned away, snapping his eyes from Toshiya.
The bassist saw him draw a deep breath. He was afraid to speak, to break the tenuous silence, so he sat quietly on the bed, watching as Die composed himself, as he swallowed the bitter situation, let it sink into his mind.
When he finally spoke, his voice was stark, he did not try to hide his emotions. “Toshiya... Do you remember – three months ago?”
Toshiya let his gaze fall to the ground. “Yes,” he whispered hoarsely. Shame burned on his cheeks. Three months ago – how could he *not* remember? They had almost broken up, had almost been torn apart.
Die had gotten drunk and Toshiya was not with him. The bassist, in fact, was with Kaoru, helping him and Shinya with a song. That was before his and Kaoru’s illicit romance surfaced. Maybe Die had originally been out with Kyo, Toshiya didn’t remember. What he did recall was that Die had not ended the night alone.
Toshiya had returned late that night, to Die’s place because he had promised he would come over when he was done. He had let himself in with the key Die once gave him. Upon entering the apartment, he had heard noises that were unclear, that he assumed to be from the television.
He had approached the living room, but found it empty and silent, television off. Worry creasing his brow, he had called Die’s name, but he heard no response. Then he went down the hallway, toward Die’s bedroom. The door was ajar, and he pressed it gently open.
And he had found Die in bed with another man.
The rest of the night was a heart-wrenching, painful blur. After that – it was an endless circle of pain between them. The fights were long, Toshiya’s tears hot. The accusations were endless – “You betrayed me... Cheated on me... How can this work without trust...?”
And now... It was all coming back to them, but Toshiya was no longer on the righteously hurt side.
“How can this work without trust?” Die’s voice, his repetition of Toshiya’s words, was harsh and mockingly cold.
“Do you remember all those things you said to me?” Die’s voice was no longer loud. But the density of anger and hurt was frightening, Toshiya almost wished he were shouting without thinking. “Do you *remember*?”
He didn’t think he had started crying yet, although he wasn’t sure. His eyes burned, but he couldn’t feel the track of tears on his face. “Yes...”
“A one-night stand – a fucking *one*-night stand – and we almost broke up. You told me that it didn’t matter that I was drunk, I still cheated on you, I still *hurt* you. You told me about faith, trust, I was ready to fall to my knees for you...”
He trailed off, but the rest of the accusation was still in his eyes.
< You were ready to fall to your knees for me, after just a one-night stand... And I – I’ve done so much worse. So much worse... >
“Die, I – I don’t know what to say...”
“It’s true, then? What Shinya said?”
Toshiya looked away. “What did Shinya say?”
“That you and Kaoru... You...” Die tried again, voice cutting off in a ragged edge. “He said he saw you and Kaoru after practice the other night. And then he confronted Kaoru, and that’s why they broke up... He said Kaoru didn’t love him anymore.
“Does he love you?”
Toshiya’s words were broken. “I... don’t know.”
Voice now dangerously lower. “Do you love him?”
“I... I...” The first tears he could feel crept from his eyes. “I don’t know,” he whispered again, almost choking on his words.
Die’s silence expressed more than words could hope to. Toshiya forced his eyes to focus on Die’s face, to look at him, to *see* him. To see the anger, hurt, and accusations, all directed at him, all focused solely on him.
He spoke into the threatening stillness. “I didn’t mean for things to turn out this way,” he said softly, helplessly, gazing up at Die because he couldn’t move, he felt too weak or too frightened or too ashamed, he did not know which. “I just – I... I don’t know how it happened, Die. I didn’t want to hurt you, I still don’t...”
He wondered if Kaoru had said the same things to Shinya. He wondered if the accusation in Shinya’s eyes had been as strong, if Shinya had wept or if he had shouted.
“I’m sorry...” he concluded helplessly, hopelessly.
“Sorry?” Die whispered; his jagged voice pulled Shinya’s eyes to meet his. A bitter snarl twisted his lips. “That’s what I told you, Toshiya. Three months ago. Did you accept it?”
He dropped his eyes, his cheeks were hot from the stream of steady, silent tears that branded him, burned him. < I didn’t accept an apology... Not for a long time... >
Die seemed to know his thoughts, he continued. “Do you think an apology can be enough, then? Now? Do you think you can *ever* change what you’ve done?”
A sob rose in his throat. He tried to swallow it, force it down. < What I’ve done.. >
“It’s my fault,” he whispered, heart breaking. “Shinya got hurt because of this... Kaoru... You, too... My fault...” The words became the sob he had tried to dissolve.
Die’s silence was an acceptance of his words, affirmed it.
< Oh God... I shouldn’t have let this happen. So many people... Hurt... > Another sob. The tears came faster.
< It was fine. It was fine, before. He had Shinya, I had Die. It was fine... Maybe – maybe I thought I could be happier, but... > His thoughts were like a keening wail.
He heard Die’s footsteps. “Are you leaving me?” he asked softly, desperately. He was unable to see through his tears, but he lifted his head, eyes searching frantically without seeing. “Is this the end?”
Die’s form paused in the doorway, Toshiya lifted a supplicating hand, but he knew there was no one that could help him.
< Kaoru... Die.. > His thoughts were a mixed whisper of anguish.
“I don’t know.” Die’s voice was cold but unsteady. His pain was evident in his voice, layered thickly over the accusation.
Toshiya couldn’t respond and Die left. As the door shut behind him, latch clicking sharply into place, Toshiya heard it echo in his mind, mocking and cold, a fabrication of the hell he was creating for himself.
The night passed beyond the window and there were only the stars to watch him cry.
Kyo was sprawled on the studio couch being consumed by boredom and the longing to go back to sleep. There were, however, two reasons he could not sleep. One, Kaoru would probably yell at him because he wouldn’t be ready to practice when Toshiya finally showed up. And two, there was far too much blatant tension in the air for him to be at ease.
< What the hell is going on? > he wondered, eyes drifting around the room. Shinya was sitting behind his drum set, eyes down on a sheet of paper, which could have been music or anything else. Die and Kaoru were standing with or tuning their respective guitars, and they were on opposite sides of the practice area. This would have been normal – typically, Toshiya stood in-between, playing bass, while Kaoru and Die flanked him – except there was a noticeable added distance between them, forcing them to an almost extreme separation.
The feeling of tension origination, streamed, between them.
Kyo wasn’t dense, he knew that something was wrong. He had known the previous day that something was not right with Kaoru – he thought it was just because of the break-up – but now the plot thickened and it somehow involved both guitarists.
The small vocalist scowled sourly as he observed the others – he hated being left out – and as his eyes passed over Shinya, he got an idea. “Oi! Shinya!” he exclaimed suddenly, sitting up.
He saw both Kaoru and Die jump slightly, both turning their eyes momentarily to Kyo. He ignored them, only watching Shinya as the surprised drummer looked up. He blinked.
“Anou... hai?” he asked, peering across the room at Kyo.
“Come over here for a sec.” If it had been anyone else, Kyo would have expected a response along the lines of ‘why don’t you come over here?’ but Shinya was too polite. Appearing uncertainly curious, he cast what seemed like a reflexive glance at Kaoru. But then he pulled his eyes away – although Kaoru had already turned his attention back to his guitar – and, setting down the paper in his hand, rose.
With swift, graceful steps, he crossed the room to where Kyo sat and stopped, looking down at the vocalist inquiringly.
“Sit down,” Kyo commanded. “I don’t like people looking so far down on me...”
The ghost of a smile crossed Shinya’s lips. “I figured you’d be used to it,” he murmured sweetly.
Kyo blinked in surprise – he wasn’t used to jibes from the slender drummer – and then scowled. Shinya obediently took a seat next to him.
“Something wrong?” the drummer questioned.
Kyo jerked his head in the direction of Kaoru and Die. “Those two,” he stated softly, dropping his voice low enough that it wouldn’t be heard by anyone else over the soft sounds of tuning and the muffled sounds from outside.
He studied Shinya, and the drummer said nothing, waited patiently with masked eyes for Kyo to continue. “Do you know what’s going on?” Kyo asked.
Shinya looked away. The light shimmered auburn off his hair as he shook his head slightly, but his answer was not negative. “What do you mean?”
Kyo frowned, glancing again at the men in question. Still silent, still engrossed in tuning. Still obviously tense.
“Well, surely you know something isn’t right with those two... Did they have a fight, do you think? Do you know if something happened and they’re mad or upset or something?”
Shinya let a soft sigh escape his lips, and Kyo turned back to him. The drummer had his eyes fixed on the ground, but it looked as if they were focused elsewhere, further, deeper.
“Don’t ask, Kyo,” he said softly.
He frowned. “Huh? So – you know what’s going on?”
“Yes.” A whisper.
“Ooh, what is it?” he asked anxiously.
Shinya’s eyes flicked briefly to him. “I said don’t ask,” he repeated quietly.
Kyo frowned. “Shinya...?”
“You don’t want to know, Kyo. It would be better if – if you just didn’t worry about it.”
“How am I supposed to not worry about it?” he demanded. “I’m part of the same fucking band as them!”
Shinya flinched. “I know,” he whispered, turning softly-cloaked eyes to gaze back at Kyo. “But – please, Kyo, for now, just... Just don’t ask me. Don’t think about it, they – they’ll work it out.”
His eyebrows drew down in disappointment and frustration. But he agreed, because Shinya seemed distressed. “Aa,” he said, sighing heavily.
“Arigato...” Before Kyo could respond, Shinya rose quickly and retreated once again to his drum set. Kyo, looking quickly and surreptitiously, saw Kaoru’s eyes follow him.
The vocalist sighed, pouting at nothing as he slouched back on the couch. < Okay.... So Shinya, Die, and Kaoru all seem to know what’s going on. I wonder if Toshiya knows too... >
< Speaking of which, where *is* Toshiya? >
As Kyo cast a glance at the door, he heard his phone ring. He frowned, and looked at the others. Three pairs of eyes had turned curiously to him. He shrugged back in response, and then shoved his hand in his pocket, searching for his small cellular phone.
“Hello?” he asked, flipping open the cover.
“Anou... Hi, Kyo-kun.” He recognized the voice to be Toshiya’s despite it’s strange, subdued quality of softness.
“Toshiya!” he exclaimed, straightening slightly from his seat on the couch. “Where are you?” Because of the strangeness in Toshiya’s voice, he only responded with curiosity to Toshiya’s absence, not tartness or irritation.
“I’m... at home,” he said quietly. “Listen, I – I can’t make it to practice today.”
Kyo opened his mouth to ask why Toshiya had called him and not one of the others – most notably, Die – but the bassist rushed on.
“I’m sorry, but – but I really can’t be there. So – so just tell the others, ne?”
And then he hung up.
Kyo pulled the phone away from his ear, staring at it in consternation. Then he put it away, turning to look at the others. He rose from his seat, running a hand through his hair. “Anou – that was Toshiya.” They had all probably heard his exclamation when he first answered the phone, but he said it anyway. “He’s not coming today.”
Only Shinya seemed slightly surprised by the announcement. Both Die and Kaoru only seemed... angry? Kyo frowned.
“What did he say?” Die demanded. Kyo saw Kaoru’s eyes on the other guitarist.
“That’s the weird thing... He didn’t say why. He just said that he couldn’t come, and that he was sorry and to pass that stuff on to you guys, and then he hung up.” He knew his voice was puzzled.
Then he jumped as Kaoru set his guitar back on its stand with just a bit too much force. “What did you do to him?” he demanded, voice low and harsh with what seemed like barely restrained rage. His flashing gaze was fixed on Die.
The redhead stood rigidly in response, his eyes slowly moved to meet Kaoru’s. “Nothing,” he snapped back coldly.
Kyo watched with wide eyes, incomprehensive and confused. The anger was palpable, strong, and completely unanticipated.
Die put his guitar down now, too. Kyo watched with a certain amount of alarm when the stand shook, almost in prelude to tipping over. Die never noticed. “Stay out of this, goddamn you! You’ve fucked things up enough already.”
“It’s not my fault if he doesn’t love you.”
Die’s eyes flashed in response, his fingers clenched into fists at his side. He took a step forward without seeming to realize it. Kaoru stared back, anger flashing from his eyes and covering him like a cloak.
“Stop...” Shinya said, jumping up and speaking in an effort to dispel their anger. He, too, had been merely watching like Kyo, but instead of confusion, there was a certain helpless anguish in the way he looked on. Because he clearly *did* know what was going on. And Kyo still did not. If anything, he was now more confused.
The two guitarists did not listen to him.
“What happened last night?”
“None of your fucking business.”
Shinya left his drums, approached the two of them. They took no notice.
“I swear, Kaoru,” Die took another step forward, and Kaoru tensed to respond. “If you-”
“Stop it!” Shinya threw himself in front of Kaoru as he was about to approach Die, slipping into the battleground of their eyes.
The drummer may always come across as diminutive, soft-spoken, and almost frail, but his second cry was enough to stop them, his hands landing on Kaoru’s shoulders enough to halt him. Furious words that seemed ready to fall from both men’s lips were held back, although Die and Kaoru didn’t look away from each other.
Shinya kept his hands on Kaoru, as if afraid that if he released him, Kaoru wouldn’t listen.
“I think we should just call off practice today,” he said slowly, addressing his voice and eyes to Kaoru, staring up at him with an almost pleading air. “I think we could all use a day of rest... Ne, Kaoru?”
Kaoru’s eyes finally turned to Shinya, an edge of the anger being replaced with a barely perceptible softness. He seemed to draw a short, deep breath. “....Aa,” he finally agreed, nodding very slightly, tensely.
“Good,” Shinya said softly. He briefly looked over his shoulder, at Die, at Kyo. “You heard him. Practice for today is cancelled.”
Kyo was still stunned into place, and so did not immediately respond, but Die did. With one last flaring glare at Kaoru – which the other guitarist returned darkly – he turned on his heel, grabbed his coat from the back of a chair near the door, and stalked out.
Kyo stared at the scene for a long moment with wide eyes. The thoughts running through his head were broken and confused.
< What the hell is going on? So Toshiya’s involved to....? >
< ‘Toshiya doesn’t love you!’ So... Who does he love? >
Yes, this definitely didn’t make sense. At all.
But Shinya’s eyes had turned to him after Die left, and he now felt them. He focused on the other man’s eyes, pulling out of his thoughts but still wrapped in confusion. In Shinya’s eyes he saw a plea, both for Kyo to just leave, and for him to not ask any questions.
Kyo didn’t want to listen to that plea, he would really have rather demanded to know what was going on, but he just couldn’t with Shinya looking at him like that, with the emotions and their residue so poignant and strong.
He cleared his throat. “Anou.... I guess I’ll be going now.” Kyo tried to force a grin that he would normally offer in parting to his face, but he failed miserably. He gave up quickly, deciding no smile at all was better than bared teeth.
“Ja ne, you guys.” He gave a small wave and didn’t wait for their murmured responses before turning away and escaping the tension.
“Daijoubu?” Shinya asked softly, once the door solidly closed behind their confused and uncomfortable vocalist. Kaoru’s eyes, which had focused on nothing over Shinya’s shoulder, as if he was seeing or hearing things that were not in the present, turned back to him.
The glare of cold anger in Kaoru’s eyes softened when he focused on Shinya. “Hai,” he replied.
Shinya sighed. “Ne, Kaoru... What happened, last night? After I called you?”
The guitarist looked away. “After that, I called Toshiya... He answered, but then he told me to get off the phone. I didn’t, because I didn’t know what was going on. Then – I heard Die, yelling at Totchi to get off the phone with me, and then... The line went dead.”
Shinya bit his lip. “Kaoru, I – I’m sorry, that I told Die, but – but I had to...”
Kaoru hushed him. “Shh... It’s okay,” he assured him softly, quieting the distress in Shinya’s eyes. Then it seemed like he thought of something, and Shinya’s heart skipped when Kaoru lightly stroked his face. He closed his eyes because of the soft pleasure and the aching pain that action brought.
“God, Shinya, I’m so sorry – for fighting with Die like that, in front of you, because...” He let the words trail off.
< Because it was about Toshiya. Because you care for him, so much, and not me... Not like that... >
“It’s okay,” he whispered, wanting to lift his hand to remove Kaoru’s fingers from his cheek, but simply unable to make himself do so. It was a blessing and a curse when Kaoru pulled his hand away, when he drew back with a sigh.
“Listen... You can head on home. I’m gonna stay here for a while. Maybe work on a song, maybe just play guitar...”
“You sure you don’t want any company?” Shinya both wanted to stay and to leave. < God, it hurts so much... To see how upset this has made you, to know how much you care about him... >
Kaoru shook his head. “No, but thank you.”
Shinya felt a wash of regret and relief. “Alright. Then – I’ll see you tomorrow, ne?”
“Ja.” Kaoru’s voice was empty and distant, he had already turned away.
Swallowing a sigh, swallowing the things he could not say and did not want to feel, his regrets, Shinya left Kaoru alone with the empty, friendless studio.
to be continued
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