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Title: Nerves/Home
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: Reita/Uruha, Ruki/Aoi (The GazettE)
Disclaimers: standard disclaimers apply, unfortunately.
Summary: Five years on, how Reita and Ruki's opinions on relationships still differ.
Word Count: 5,179
Notes: here are two short ficlets that I wrote recently. these are set five years after events in The Ones That Were, a fic that I wrote literally forever ago. I don't know what made me suddenly want to write these. that fic is still one of my favorites, and I thought it would be interesting to revisit these characters (okay, mostly Ruki, who was ace.) It's not necessary to read TOTW to understand these, but it's AU-ish, so it might help. "Nerves" is Reita POV; "Home" is Ruki POV.




Nerves

I felt more nervous than usual tonight. I mean, I almost always felt nervous before a show; it was something I had come to accept would never go away, even if we went on playing shows for another five years or more. But tonight, for some reason, I was particularly nervous.

I don't know what it was. Every time someone opened the door to the backstage area, I could hear the crowd outside, bigger by a good measure than any show we had played before. We were kicking off a tour, our first real one, and it was definitely a momentous event. The next six weeks would see us doing more than two dozen shows all over the country. It could have been that.

Or it could have been other stuff.

Ruki's face in the mirror was scowling at me. "Quit slouching," he commanded, yanking on a handful of my hair which he was arranging on top of my head in some kind of abstract style. I complied, but only so that he would stop pulling my hair.

"Just leave it. It's a lost cause," I said, waving him away.

"I can't let you go out there looking like you do. It would bring dishonor to my family," he muttered, attacking a spike of my hair with a rattail comb.

Behind me, sitting on the small and battered couch next to the wall, Uruha was snickering. He tried to disguise it by picking off a few chords on the guitar in his lap, but I didn't miss his smirk. Of course, he could afford to be amused, because he looked amazing, as always. Ruki never had any issues with Uruha's stage style. Me, I was lucky if he didn't put a sack over my head before sending me out to play some days. Ruki had somehow decided that our band style was his own personal responsibility, and he took it seriously.

Finished with my hair, he began to attack my face with cosmetics. I didn't fight him; it was better to just let him have his own way. Besides, Ruki had always been that way. I had a sudden flash of memory; him helping me get ready for a date, leaning close with his face scrunched in concentration as he dabbed makeup on my face. Years and years ago.

I was feeling strangely nostalgic today. I met Uruha's eyes in the mirror, and he gave me a curious look, asking a silent question. I knew exactly what it was, but I didn't say anything. It could wait until we had a private moment. Ruki gave me enough grief already about everything under the sun; I didn't need to give him any more ammo by voicing my sappy personal thoughts in front of him. And he wouldn't appreciate it, either.

I knew I had been acting unlike myself lately, and I'm sure Uruha wanted to know why. I was blaming it on nerves, and it was partly that. Today, in fact, was exactly five years to the day that I first played on stage with these guys - and in all that time, I'd still never gotten over stage fright. A fact which Aoi and Ruki loved to bring up at every possible opportunity, just because they knew it aggravated me.

It wasn't that, though, that was making me uneasy.

The door opened again, and Kai entered, bringing with him the muffled sound of the crowd on the other side of the stage. "Five minutes," he said, giving wide grins all round.

"Touch your hair again, and I'll murder you," Ruki said, capping an eyeliner pencil with a flourishing motion and looking over my person appraisingly. I have to say, he did have a way of making me look not only presentable, but actually sometimes attractive. I eyed my reflection in the mirror with approval.

"You're a miracle worker, Ru."

"If I really could make miracles, I'd give you the ability to do this shit yourself," he muttered mutinously under his breath, but he probably didn't mean it. Ruki lived for dressing us all up; I think it was the only reason he went with this band idea in the first place, back when we started getting support.

I'm constantly amazed that he stuck with us for five years. Hell, I'm amazed that I stuck with it myself. It seemed like such a ridiculous pipe dream at the time. I would never have believed we'd go anywhere, the strange collection of us. Me, a clerk at a corner store. Kai, a bartender. Ruki and Aoi, both unemployed. And Uruha, the rich kid who funded us. A group of idiots, no doubt.

A lot of other things had happened in those five years, too. Uruha and I had been living together for more than three years now. At first, I had moved into his penthouse apartment in the center of Tokyo, but a few months later we relocated to a modest flat in a decent area of town. The reason for that was because Uruha finally decided he'd had enough of living on an allowance from his father, and refused to take money from him anymore. They had a pretty bad fight over it, and he still doesn't get on with his parents all that well. I don't know that he went about it the right way, but I don't blame him for craving some independence.

Anyway, I'm not one to talk. I haven't spoken to my parents in almost ten years. I did call a few times, recently, when the band began to get famous, but I never had a response. But then, my current lifestyle is not exactly their idea of respectable. I'm a bassist in a flashy visual rock band, and I live with another man. Sometimes I wonder what part of that would offend them the most.

"Take a seat here, Kai," Ruki said, steering the drummer toward the mirror next to mine, despite the fact that Kai had not asked for his help, nor seemed to want it. Kai tried to shake him off, to no avail.

"No, I haven't got time. Where's Aoi? Have you seen him?"

"I haven't. You're not getting away," Ruki added, snatching the other man back by his sleeve and setting him down on the stool beside me. I exchanged a sympathetic look with Kai in the mirror. He and I shared that same talent for doing exactly the opposite of whatever Ruki wanted if left to our own devices.

"I'll look around for him," Uruha said, getting up from the couch and leaving his guitar behind. He gave me a significant look, which clearly indicated that he expected me to join him.

"I'll come with," I replied - what else could I say? "In a minute," I added, waving at him. He gave me a sly glance, but left the room without argument. I was fairly certain he neither knew nor cared where Aoi was; and he didn't need to, anyway, because the other guitarist always wandered off before performances, and always made it back in time without any trouble. Of course, most of the time, his disappearances coincided with Ruki's, which was self-explanatory.

Ruki, in the mirror, caught my eye, and mimicked retching. In return, I gave him a smile. I knew he was only doing it for the sake of annoying me. Ruki had long since been over the fact that Uruha and I were dating. He only kept teasing me about it for the sake of the routine we'd built over the years, I'm sure.

"Leave me alone, will you?" Kai sputtered, trying in vain to swat Ruki's hands, clutching various hairstyling instruments, away from his head. "There are more important things!"

"I'll say. This thing you're wearing, for example," Ruki said disdainfully, casting a wary eye over the less-than-pristine sweater Kai was sporting. "Reita," he added, looking up as I inched my way toward the door. "I meant it. Touch that hair, and you won't have a hand left to play bass with."

"I won't touch it," I promised. I'd be afraid to. I'd have to be careful about headbanging on stage; I could probably impale somebody on the spikes coming off my head.

"I want everybody in this room in three minutes," Kai said, trying to twist round to look at me, but Ruki held him firmly in place by his hair. "Not a minute later!"

I waved a sarcastic salute his way before making my way out the door. Kai was wound so tight before shows that sometimes I was afraid he was going to blow, like a toy with a bad spring. He had sort of become our unofficial band leader, and he took his role way too seriously sometimes.

Out in the hallway, the noise level was astounding. Just on the other side of the wall, I could hear the crowd - all waiting for us, all screaming our names. It was amazing. Somehow, I felt some of my nervousness drain away. Sure, this was our biggest show yet - it was still just a show. I'd done many before, and with luck, I'd do many to come.

"Anything you want to talk about?" Uruha asked, waiting for me by the door. His voice was low, but he was close enough for me to hear him clearly.

"Yeah, can we?" I replied, nodding in the opposite direction, and he followed me down the hallway away from the stage, where the noise dimmed. We went into the stairwell, and I pulled him into the small niche under the stairs for privacy.

"This is cozy," Uruha said, smirking.

I grinned at him, but my voice seemed to be stuck in my throat. I didn't know what to say now, didn't even know what thought I was trying to express. Luckily for me, Uruha knew me better than I knew myself. "Rei, what's wrong?" he asked me.

"Nothing's really... wrong," I said hesitantly.

"Are you nervous?"

"I'm always nervous," I said, giving a tense chuckle. Uruha just continued to smile, shaking his head a little.

"Remember that first show we ever did? I thought you were going to throw up, you were so nervous," he said thoughtfully.

"I was thinking about that today," I replied, and sighed. Uruha just watched me, waiting for me to go on. I never was good at saying what was on my mind. But Uruha was patient with me, even when I was being a huge dork, like now. In fact, he was probably two steps ahead of me; he always seemed to know what I was thinking even before I did. I sighed again. "Do I really deserve you..." I muttered to myself.

"What are you talking about?" he said, whacking me on the arm and making an offended face at my remark. I hadn't meant to say that out loud.

"Sorry," I murmured. "I didn't mean that. I was just... I don't know, my thoughts are all jumbled..."

"I don't know what's on your mind, but you better get it straightened out before we go on stage," he said, his tone half-chiding and half-concerned. "It's not like you've never done this before."

I looked up at his face, studying it in the dim light. It was a face I knew as well as my own, the face that I loved. His hair was a few shades darker blonde than it used to be, his face a little slimmer, the angles sharper. He was still gorgeous, of course. Sometimes I really did think I didn't deserve him, although I would never tell him that. Uruha was the most confident and self-sure person I had ever known, and it baffled him when I showed insecurity.

Granted, that wasn't often. It's not like I was twenty-two anymore, a kid full of doubts and misgivings and afraid of progress. Uruha loved me, and he'd proved it enough times over the years that, even if I sometimes didn't understand what he possibly saw in me, I was at least secure about his feelings for me. There was no point in wondering endlessly why he had picked me to spend his life with. He had picked me, and that was that.

I grinned again, somehow feeling better. I was being stupid, as usual. Five years was an anniversary, and nothing more. It's not like it changed anything, that we had made it to this point. "I'm just being an idiot," I told him, shaking my head. The look he gave me was puzzled, but relieved - and adorable. I leaned forward, grabbing him by the chin and pulling his face toward me. "Come here..."

He met me eagerly, and we kissed for a moment or two, slowly, softly. My nervousness, what remained of it, melted away. It was moments like these that always made me realize, with tremendous force, how much I loved Uruha still. When the rest of the world seemed to drain away, everything from the noise of the crowd outside to the dank grayness of the walls to the smell of exhaust from the car park above us fading into the background as Uruha's lips moved gently against mine, his hand resting in the small of my back, pulling me a little closer. The fact that we had been together for five years, and we still had moments like this, moments where my stomach fluttered just from a kiss.

"Not that this isn't nice," Uruha said a minute later, as he pulled away first, "but I think we've used up our three minutes."

"We'd better get back before the screaming starts," I said, in agreement. I paused. "Let's continue this conversation later," I added hesitantly. Uruha gave me a long, probing look.

"You're starting to make me feel nervous," he said jokingly.

"That's impossible."

"What do you want to talk about?"

I caught his gaze, and held onto it for a moment, almost losing myself in the soft amber color of his eyes. "Just stuff," I said, smiling up at him.

"Hmm," was all he said, sounding skeptical. "Well... let's go back for now."

He grabbed my hand, and I let him lead me back to the dressing room.



Uruha didn't let me stall for long. Almost as soon as we left the stage - even before we made it back to the dressing room - he took me by the hand and pulled me away from the others, and we slipped down a dark side hallway as our bandmates and the staff made their way loudly backstage. Even after the dressing room door had shut behind them, I could hear the sounds of partying and celebration ensuing.

"Good show," Uruha said, grinning widely as he leaned in to kiss me, pinning me against the wall. I felt that familiar swoop in my stomach, that had nothing to do with the adrenaline still in my system, the rush of playing onstage.

"You too," I said when we parted, after some time. Then there was a silence - Uruha seemed to be waiting for me to speak, but it didn't feel like there was anything to say. Standing there with him, in the dark and quiet, and feeling the heat from his body, was enough for me.

I know, sometimes I'm so sappy I make myself sick.

"So," Uruha said momentarily, in a tone that was nothing but nonchalant. "About... stuff."

"Stuff," I repeated, biting my lip. "You know... never mind, just forget it. It was stupid..."

"A lot of things you say are stupid," he said, teasing. "I'm used to it."

"You always know just what to say."

"Are you worried about the tour?" he asked.

I thought about this for a second, and then replied truthfully, "yeah, I guess, a little. I mean, it's really big... for us. For all of us." I paused, contemplative. "It's way bigger than I ever imagined."

"Well, you're welcome," Uruha said, giving me a cool look.

"I wasn't thanking you," I replied.

"Shouldn't you be?" was his response. "After all, if it weren't for me, you'd still be stuck working in that corner store... and living with Ruki, no doubt."

I grimaced, which made him laugh. "Okay, yes, thank you for that," I said graciously - after all, it was true that before he had bullied me into joining his band, my life had been very steadily going nowhere at all. Meeting Uruha had changed everything for me.

"It's gonna be fine," he said, trying to reassure me.

"I know, I know," I said. I sighed. I wasn't that worried about the tour; already in the past few years, I had done more than I ever thought I could. Playing onstage gave me butterflies, but that was never going to change. "I guess... for some reason, this show today made me think about that first show we did. Remember?"

"Yeah. That was five years ago," he said, smiling wistfully. "You were nervous that night, too... it was cute."

"It wasn't because of the show," I admitted, and I saw him grin in the low light. I had been having anxiety attacks over confessing my true feelings to Uruha, which I did, that night, thoroughly making a fool of myself in the process, like I usually did. If I recall correctly, actually, I blurted it out in the middle of a conversation, and then tried to pretend I hadn't said anything. Well, what was I supposed to do? I had never told someone I loved them before - and I certainly loved Uruha more than I'd loved anyone before.

Thankfully, he returned the sentiment without making me endure my mortification very long. That was exactly five years ago today.

He leaned in close to me, resting his forehead against mine. "I wondered if you forgot," he said softly.

"How could I forget?" I sputtered, glad it was dark enough to hide the fact that I was blushing. "I thought that maybe it... wasn't important," I confessed sheepishly.

"Our five year anniversary? Of course it's important!" he said, tutting. Then his irritation faded, and the look he gave me was warm and tender. "I was a little worried you were going to tell me you were quitting the band. You always seem like you don't like it."

"I wouldn't do that."

"Or maybe that you were... quitting me," he went on, trying to look cool, but his tone was hesitant. He thought I was trying to break up with him? Now I officially felt like a jerk.

"You're the one talking stupid now," I said, smiling to reassure him. He rolled his eyes.

"How am I supposed to know? You don't tell me what's on your mind unless I pry it out of you," he chastised. "I figured you were thinking, five years is a long time to be with someone."

"I was thinking that," I admitted, and Uruha raised a skeptical eyebrow. "I was also thinking that I'd be perfectly happy to spend another fifty years the way I've spent the past five."

He looked surprised, and then bashful - if I wasn't mistaken, he was actually blushing! It wasn't often that I got one on him, although I had learned that he like it when I spoke my mind - probably because I didn't do it often enough. It was usually the other way around, with him being embarrassingly frank and making me squirm.

"Well, I'm glad we're on the same page," he said coolly.

"Who's the idiot now?" I teased.

"Shut up," was his reply, and I was spared from arguing by the kiss he pressed on my lips the next moment, which effectively silenced me. Not that I was going to argue anyway, because I knew that I had won - a rarity, honestly - but there was no harm in letting him think that he could shut me up with kisses... because, well, he could. "Alright, let's go back to the others," he said, giving a long sigh, a minute or two later. He stepped away from me, and started to pull me by the hand that was still entwined with his.

"No," I said, pulling him back, and smiling at the half-curious, half-puzzled expression on his face. "Let's stay here for a few more minutes, okay?"

He didn't mount any protests as I led him back toward me, sliding my free hand around his back to bring him a little closer. "Well, okay, I guess we can do that," he said, and if his tone was begrudging, the grin on his face was enough to tell of his real feelings. Then I closed the distance between us, and neither of us spoke again.


~

Home

I fell asleep on the couch in the dressing room, again. I knew that everyone else had left already, because when I woke up - suddenly, as if startled - the room was quiet, although it hadn't been when I fell asleep. Only Aoi was still here, sitting against the wall facing me. His guitar was in his lap, but he wasn't playing.

"Why did you let me sleep?" I said accusingly, sitting up and stretching. I probably hadn't been sleeping for long. I was always tired right after a live, tired enough to crash just about anywhere, even though I'd given Aoi specific instructions to not let me do that. Still, every time, he did.

In response to my question, he only shrugged, and began strumming his guitar absently, a series of random notes. "You ready to go?" he asked me.

"Didn't I tell you not to let me sleep...?" I grumbled at him, ignoring his question.

"I was going to wake you in a minute. Everyone else only just left."

"Hmm," I murmured, in lieu of a real response. I flipped over, laying on my stomach on the battered couch, and made no attempt to actually get up. Aoi watched me for a few moments, and then he began to gather his stuff, packing his guitar away and shoving everything else into his shoulder bag.

"Come on, let's go home," he said, grabbing his bags. My own stuff, I noticed, had been packed up neatly and was waiting beside the couch for me. I still didn't get up.

"I think I'll just go back to my place tonight," I said coolly, staring at a spot on the gray wall instead of at my boyfriend. If he was surprised by my declaration, his expression didn't show it.

"Well, but you still need a ride, right?" he asked.

I said nothing. We had come in together this morning, so of course I needed a ride. We always came in together. I practically lived at his apartment. I did manage to make it back to my place once a month to do the laundry and pay the rent, at least.

Still, it bothered me, the way he said it so casually - "home". Like it really was. Like his place was our place.

"Just go ahead without me."

He gave me a look that seemed to indicate he thought I was being stupid. "What, are you going to sleep here? Everyone else is gone. Just come on."

Again, I didn't say anything. I studied his face, his expression that was clearly annoyed with me. To be honest, that was the expression he had most of the time. I was a troublesome boyfriend. Whiny, selfish, and high-maintenance. Sometimes I didn't even like myself.

Despite that, he was still sticking with me. Or was I sticking with him?

He gave a loud, dramatic sort of sigh, and them came over next to the couch. "Okay, what's going on, Ruki? You were in a good mood this morning. Now you're all pissy."

"I'm not pissy. This is my normal self," I lied.

"That's not true and we both know it. Now cut the BS," he replied.

"Maybe the rose-tinted glasses have finally come off," I said sharply - more sharply than I meant. I didn't know why I was being so mean. The truth was, it wasn't like me - I usually had no problem telling Aoi exactly what was bothering me, and he was never put off by my surliness.

He made a thoughtful face. "Well, it has been more than six years, hasn't it?" he wondered.

I sat up, trying to read his face. Sometimes I couldn't tell if he was being serious, or just patronizing me. It had been six years, but there were still times when Aoi surprised me - mostly with his insistence on staying with me, even when I was being horrible, which happened too often.

The problem was, I had never expected this to go so far. I went to Aoi for a one-night stand, a quick fuck to spite my boyfriend at the time, and he stuck to me through an affair that lasted nearly a whole year, and a relationship that was now going on five. Even when I tried to shake him off, he clung to me, didn't let me go. But maybe I was the one really clinging to him.

"I guess you're trying to break up with me," he said, staring at me with a flat expression. I couldn't tell if it was an accusation or a question. Either way, his bluntness surprised me.

"What? No," I spat, feeling suddenly apprehensive. Was that what he was hoping for?

"Oh, thank god," he said, and the pure relief that was evident in his voice was enough to blow away any doubts I had about his interest in staying in this relationship. I felt relieved myself. I guess I hadn't even realized how much I did want to stay in it. My heart was still pounding from the panic I had felt just moments before.

In all honesty, I did love Aoi. I had for a long time, although I've never told him. I know that's bad. He tells me all the time that he loves me - he's been telling me since that first night we spent together. Do I feel a little guilty over that? Yeah, but at the same time, it's almost... something that I don't feel needs to be said. I'm sure he knows, anyway, without me saying it.

"You made me so nervous," he admitted, cracking a grin even as he held a hand over his heart, as though it were painful. "I didn't know what I'd do if you said yes!"

"Is that what I have to do to make you nervous these days?" I replied, trying to sound teasing. His expression turned sly.

"Oh, no. You make me nervous all the time," he said in a low voice.

"Really?"

"Sure. Having you as a boyfriend is positively nerve-wracking."

I pouted at him, which prompted a smirk. He leaned forward, catching my lips in a long, slow kiss. I shut my eyes, sinking into the familiarity of it - the insistent press of his lips on mine, the sharp pressure of his lipring against my skin. It was a soft, gentle kiss, intimate. The first time we had kissed, he had bruised my lip with that piercing of his - not that it was the only part of me that was bruised that night. There was no love, no gentleness in anything we did that night. The next morning, I had to lie to my boyfriend - I told him I'd gotten hit at the bar the previous night. I was tied up with guilt over it for weeks.

Didn't stop me from going back to Aoi, not long after. And again, more times than I remembered during that year. Guilt was a small price to pay for how he made me feel - loved.

"If that's the case, I'm surprised you stick with me," I said in response to his remark, trying for nonchalance. His eyebrow went up, a clear sign that he could see right through me - well, he always did.

"Only because you asked me to," he said.

"What do you mean? When did I ask that?"

"Long time ago," he went on, shrugging, like it was no big deal. But I frowned, drawing a blank. Then he grinned. "You asked me to stick with you, because you needed me. And I don't go back on my word. I'll stick with you."

I felt confused. I didn't remember such an event. What's worse, I was blushing - his earnestness had surprised me, the utterly unabashed way he could say such sappy things to me. Like it wasn't totally embarrassing for him to be so schmoopy. "Well, I hope you mean that," I said, trying to hide my embarrassment with gruffness. Judging by his smirk, it wasn't working. "I'll hold you to it, you know."

"I hope you do," was all he said, and then he stood up. "Can we go now?"

"Yeah, alright," I said, and I grabbed my stuff from the floor. In silence, we exited the building and headed upstairs to the car park, which was nearly empty now. We walked through the gloom toward Aoi's car, and he didn't speak until we were pulling out of the lot.

"Do you still want to go back to your place?" he asked casually, but there was an undertone of humor in his voice that said he probably already knew my answer. I decided to surprise him.

"No," I said, staring out the window with an air of nonchalance, "I don't think I want to go back there. You know. Ever."

I saw him glance at me, and was pleased with the puzzlement written on his face. "What, you mean you're finally going to move in with me properly?"

"That was the idea."

"Well, it's about time!" he huffed, but he was smiling. "I've only been waiting for you to say that forever. You sure like to keep me waiting."

"If you were waiting, why didn't you just ask?" I said huffily.

"If I asked, you'd have said no."

That was probably true, so I didn't deign to reply. Aoi knew me too well. I wished I could say I knew him half so well, but in fact I was constantly finding that he was surprising me - like every time I thought I had him pegged, thought I knew what was going through his brain, he proved me wrong in spectacular ways.

It wasn't a bad thing. It was probably the thing that made me love him.

I leaned my head against the window, the glass soothingly cool against my skin. I'd been to Aoi's apartment a million times; I knew the ride would take about twenty minutes. "I'm gonna take a nap," I announced, shutting my eyes.

"That's fine," Aoi said. I could hear the smile in his tone. "I'll wake you when we get home."

"Yeah. Wake me when we get home," I repeated, and I smiled. It wasn't even hard to say.


~

Please comment if you read. well, if you enjoy, anyway. :D

Comments

shoshomiki
Jan. 4th, 2014 08:37 am (UTC)
I read AND enjoyed :D Thank you <3

It's was great!
I like Reita and Uru. They are so cute!

Aoi is so funny xD and Ruki is so stubborn! xD


It's been a long time since I last read gazette fic or any fic for that matter. I kinda quit for a while .. xD kinda have no time.
But I really enjoyed reading it. It was fun! It reminded me of how I felt towards the gazette, which seem so long ago for me.

Thank you for writing it! :)