players: hazeltea, kissingchaos
notes: ...the first of 3 posts for the evening, to keep things in order. Apologies for the lateness, but life is pressing sometimes. Editing is fun, though. Oh, and seek is a
Aya made his way through unfamiliar streets towards the address seek had given him. seek had wanted to talk, and introduce him to his little brother, if he was around. It sounded safe enough to Aya. Aya wondered absently when he had begun to think in terms of safe and unsafe, and quickly buried the thought. Rounding a corner, Aya frowned and looked at the paper, and up at the complex before him. Rich people lived here, not seek. There was no way...but this was the address. Shrugging, Aya began to climb the stairs two at a time, and rang the doorbell.
If someone had asked seek why he was so nervous, he wouldn't have been able to explain. But he tried his best to hide it, instead turning the nervous energy into a wonderful array of coffee, teas, and a scattering of sweets all laid out on the table. Susu hadn't said much, ducking into the kitchen just long enough to grab a handful of kiwi gummies, or laugh at his brother's ... housewife-ishness. He'd dressed loosely and almost touching the border of semi-formal with dark slacks and a flowing satin shirt the same brilliant blue as his hair, keeping the makeup around his eyes to a bare minimum: Aya had seen him freakish, but today he wanted to create as soothing an environment as possible.
When the doorbell rang, he'd nearly jumped out of his skin.
He took a deep breath, running through his mission one last time before answering the door. Talk to Aya -- get him to open up some. Maybe find out a little of what's bothering him. Make him feel ... well, feel anything but the nearly-naked terror dominating his every movement as of late. Easy, right?
He opened the door.
Aya stood shyly, creaded paper in hand. His hair flopped over one eye, and he was dressed casually enough in jeans and, if seek was not mistaken, a t shirt that belonged to Tatsuya. Aya looked surprised. "Oh! I did find it!" he laughed. Noticing seek's attire, Aya looked down self conciously at his high top sneakers. "er..we're noty going out, are we?"
seek opened the door wide and gave a short bow of servitude. "This way, good sir," he grinned, directing Aya towards the table.
"Um ... I don't think we're going anywhere ... unless you want to?" seek shook his head mentally, absolutely horrified by how he was handling the situation. He'd hoped to put Aya at ease, but had succeeded in little more than making the poor guy uncomfortable.
Aya knelt to unlace his sneakers and smiled up at seek. "Oh, no...I'd rather stay, if that's ok." Aya stepped into the main room, eyes wide."It's so big" he commented, impressed. "It's such a nice apartment."
seek nodded, running a thin hand through his hair. "Thank you. It's, um, mostly for my brother's benefit, or if we ever have to take someone else in. An emergency sort of thing. How have you been lately?"
Aya smiled softly."better." he confessed. "Oh!" Aya gasped, noting the layout of tea and sweets."You went through all this trouble for me?" Aya looked embarrassed, but touched.
"That's good to hear," seek replied softly, watching Aya's face light up. He felt his cheeks warm and ducked his head, hiding behind his hair. "It wasn't a problem at all. Please, sit down and help yourself. I'll go see if Susu wants to come join us."
Aya sat and took a pastry. It had been a long time since he'd had one from a real bakery, not a conbini. "Susu" he said. "That's a nice name." Aya wondered how much he was like his brother and smiled.
seek padded down the hallway, his bare feet making a soft rhythm against the hardwood. Susu's door was open, so he peeked inside to see his brother lounging in his favorite chair, curled up with a book. "Fish?"
Susu looked up from his book. "So your date's here, huh?" he asked, smirking.
"Susu!" seek looked at him, horrified. "He's one of my bandmates! His name's Aya. Well, it's Naoki, but he likes to be called Aya. Want some drink and junk food?"
Susu nodded. "Might as well. But I have to get back to studying real soon." He rose to follow.
"Thanks, fish," seek whispered happily on the return. "I think you'll like him. He's very shy, though, and skittish -- like almost ... wounded. I don't know. He needs fixed."
Susu raised and eyebrow curiously and followed him. Aya, as he was called, looked soft and young, not too much older than Susu, he noted.
Aya smiled. "You're Susu?"
Susu nodded. "Yeah," he said. "Nice to meet you." He sat and poured out some tea, noticing how much effort seek had gone through for this little spread. Even though seek was usually over the top in the homemaking department, this was odd even for him.
seek glanced between Aya and Susu, a happy smile crossing his face. It was like a family of sorts, and the idea made him happier than anything had in a long time.
Aya sipped his tea. "you're in high school?" he asked the younger boy.
He nodded. Third year."
seek leaned back, listening to both Susu and Aya banter about school and the like -- it was nice, he thought, watching Aya open up to someone. That constant fear in his eyes seemed to be easing, if only a little. seek knew Susu also had the knack for working with people, and he absently wondered where his brother would take that.
Susu grinned, pouring more tea for Aya. "My brother said good things about you, especially when he sessioned for Isabelle. I can't wait to hear you play." Aya smiled at him, but flinched slightly at the mention of Isabelle.
"I'll play for you soon, Susu," he promised.
seek poured himself a cup of tea and took a long drink. "So, Aya," he said, gently nudging the topic of conversation a little closer to his original aim. "So, Aya ... what's it like living with Tatsuya?"
"It's nice," Aya said, shrugging lightly. "He was a little uptight at first, but he's really been good to me. The man is a saint." Aya sighed.
"Beneath the surface, Tatsuya seems to be a really nice guy," seek said thoughtfully. "I was really intimidated by him at first -- he's a genius when it comes to music ... but he's really easy to talk to."
"Really?" Aya asked. "Talking to him is always a challenge for me. I guess ... because he's so intimidating. It's getting better, though."
"That's good to hear. He's not scary at all beneath his rough front. In fact, I think that he's a lot softer and more, um, fatherly than he'd like to admit."
"I think that's part of the problem" Aya said softly. "He reminds me an awful lot of my dad, you know? And we never understood each other all that well."
seek was quiet a moment, passing a brief, contemplative look towards Susu, wondering what his brother was thinking. "I think ... I can relate, at least a little. But try to remember that he's not the same person, even if there are similar traits."
Susu rose abruptly and bowed. "Excuse me, Aya-kun ... I have a paper to work on, so I'll leave you two be. Thanks for the snacks, bro." He turned to leave.
Aya smiled. "Thanks ... it was nice to meet you." Aya watched him exit and sighed, oblivious to the younger boy's unease. "Yeah, I know they're not the same, it's just the trait you know? It's getting easier."
"...not a problem," seek said, a short note of defeat in his voice as he watched his brother leave the room. When he turned to Aya, his smile was just a little regretful. "I know. I know. It's good that it's getting easier."
"I like talking to you," Aya confessed. "And Daishi, too."
"I like listening to you," seek said with a mischevious grin. "Especially when it seems that you're troubled."
Aya smiled slightly. "I guess it shows, huh?" He asked. He took a long sip of his tea and sighed again.
"It's pretty obvious," seek said softly. "I mean ... I don't want to push you into talking about things that aren't my business, but ... if you need an ear, I'm here. Everyone's worried about you -- we just want you to be happy, you know? And, it's like ... you're jumping at every shadow. Your eyes are always scared. Is there anything I can do? We can do?"
"I..."Aya started, and seek saw his eyes brim with tears. "I don't even know where to start," he whispered.
seek rose from his place at the table and motioned for Aya to follow him to the couch, and curled up on one side. "You want to tell me about it?" He asked softly.
Aya nodded. "I'm ... sorry, seek." he whispered, "it's just ... everything. I feel like my life has gotten away from me ... and this band is the only thing that's made me happy in a long time."
seek patted the cushion next to him. "Then let us help, Aya-chan. We all want you to be happy, and we all want to help protect that happiness, you know? But you always look so sad ..." Aya moved closer, trusting, wanting the comfort of another human being. seek smiled reassuringly and wrapped an arm around Aya's narrow shoulders, nestling the smaller man against himself, one hand moving to stroke Aya's coarse black hair as if he were a child.
"Well..." Aya started, "my parents were pretty disappointed in me when I decided to not go to university, you know? So I had a big fight with my dad and I got kicked out. It was a nightmare after that."
"I bet," seek said softly. "I can only imagine what you went through. Music is a pretty difficult career to pursue, I think -- you've got to be really strong or really lucky or both to make it. But we're gonna do it -- you know we are."
Aya nodded. "I really wanted to make it with Isabelle," he said softly. "I feel so guilty. I don't know what possessed me to run out on them. And I don't regret it. I should, I know."
seek hugged him briefly. "I think you made the right choice. All those times I saw you play, and even the few times that I played with Isabelle ... you looked miserable. Isabelle couldn't keep up with you, and I think you know that. Your aims are different, I think. And I'm glad you don't regret it. Don't. Just do the best you can."
Aya did not pull away from the hug, but clung to seek's shirt. "I really let them down after they helped me," Aya whispered.
seek frowned, was that fear, guilt, or both in Aya's voice? He leaned his chin on Aya's head and continued to stroke his hair. "You can't be indebted to them forever, Aya. If we were all like that, nothing would ever change, because there's always someone we're indebted to. Don't worry about it so much."
Aya shivered under seek's gentle touch. "I'm so scared." Aya whispered.
"What are you so afraid of, Aya?" seek asked softly, his voice low and soothing despite the undercurrent of promised violence towards those who hurt what he considered his. And he did consider Aya his -- his friend, his bandmate, someone that he had decided to care for.
Aya trembled. "Tetsuo.."
seek was silent for a moment, his body tensing noticeably even though his fingers never stopped their gentle exploration of Aya's scalp. "What has he done?" seek asked, very, very quietly.
Aya blinked back tears. "I used to live with him" he whispered. "I had nothing, and I was so scared of being one of those homeless people in the train stations that people glare at and despise. I really wanted to make Isabelle work. He offered to let me stay with him ... I was kind of his boyfriend, I guess -- I went to bed with him and he took care of me. Those were the rules." Aya shook under seek's touch. "And it got bad," he continued, miserably. "Eventually I told him I'd found a place and moved out ... you know, when I found Tatsuya. When he found out about me auditioning, he hit me. He said I'd regret it," Aya said, the story rolling out of him at a speed he could no longer control.
seek held Aya tightly against himself, letting Aya lose control at his own pace. He was shocked a little by Aya's confession, disturbed by the fact that someone could bring themselves to force someone else to exchange their body for a place to stay ... and really, really angry that Tetsuo would do that to Aya. "You owe him nothing," seek growled softly into Aya's ear. "Not a fucking thing, Aya. Don't worry about that, okay? We'll take care of you. You'll never have to do that again, Aya, I promise."
Aya nodded weakly, clutching seek's shirt like a lifeline. "I just don't know what to do anymore." he said quietly.
seek nodded. "Tatsuya will take good care of you, Aya. And if you're ever, ever uncomfortable there, my doors are always open, and Susu seems to really like you. You don't have to worry about Tetsuo anymore, okay?" He held Aya close, gently rocking the younger boy, angry, so angry, at how Tetsuo had treated Aya. "You'll be just fine."
Aya nodded, letting seek hold him -- for once, trusting. Thinking of Tatsuya as a protector was comforting as well. Aya thought once more of Daishi's kind eyes and clug tightly to seek, grateful to whatever deity had made him audition. seek would never understand just how bad Tetsuo could be, but for the moment, Aya was safe.
seek adjusted Aya slightly to make them both more comfortable, overwhelmed by the true nature of Aya's pain, wondering if anything he could do would even make a difference. "It's gonna be /fine/, Aya," he said confidently. "We'll take good care of you. Just don't be so sad and scared anymore, okay?"
Aya sniffled and smiled slightly. "It's not as easy as all that." he said quietly. "But thank you."
"I can be a really stubborn bastard, sometimes," seek said in a self-mocking tone.
Aya clutched seek's collar, burying his face in his neck. "What can I do?" he asked quietly.
"Don't be afraid." seek murmured soothingly into Aya's ear. "Don't let him know that you're scared of him. Don't let him think he can hurt you anymore. I know it'll be hard, but ... you can do it, Aya, I know you're stronger than this. And if you need to, stay with one of us as often as possible. He's a scumbag -- I don't think he'll try anything when we're with you, and if he does ..." he trailed off, that hint of barely contained violence evident in his voice.
Aya nodded slightly. "But he already knows I'm scared."
seek smiled, a hint of sadness creeping into his expression. "That doesn't mean you always will be. I used to be scared a lot, too, Aya."
"Once, I tried to leave him, before I even managed to get the place with Tatsuya. He told me that he would kill me ... that my blood would be on the walls." Aya shuddered. "It took a lot of ... planning ... to move in with Tatsuya." Aya bit his lip. "What would someone like you ever be scared of?" he asked, curiosity getting the better of him.
seek laughed. "I'm afraid of everything sometimes. Even now. But I try as hard as I can not to be, because there's too much. I've got things and people and dreams that I have to take care of. And if I fuck up, even for a minute, those things could break, and I can't afford to let that happen. And that's what I'm afraid of the most. I'm afraid that the stupid little things could kill what we've got with this band. I'm afraid of seeing you like this for as long as I'll know you. I'm afraid that maybe I've done the wrong things. I'm afraid that something's going to happen to these people that I care about. But ... I try not to be. I've been fighting it as long as I can remember, Aya, and I'm nobody strong like Tatsuya or Daishi. And if I can do it, I know you can. But, no matter what, I'll make sure you're safe."
"Thank you..." Aya whispered, leaning into seek once more. "But, I think you're strong. I think you're brave. And I think that your brother will grow up so that you'll be proud, because he seems a lot like you, you know."
seek laughed, amused by Aya's perception. "I'm glad someone thinks that. I'm always afraid that maybe I'm not being a good example for him. He's going to go the intelligent route, I'm afraid, and then I'm probably going to lose him forever."
Aya shook his head. "Maybe he'll be something that you're not, but he won't leave your life, because you wouldn't let that happen."
"I can't keep holding on to him forever, Aya," seek said softly, letting a bit of his own pain leak into his voice. "You know, I wasn't going to go to that audition. I hadn't even bothered to read the boards. I didn't want to be in a band, but he made the call in my name and demanded that I go before I waste away. Maybe he was right ... but that night, when he was saying those things ... I just. I don't know. He's everything to me. He's all I have -- I mean, there's the band, but we hardly know each other yet. I've been raising Susu almost all my life. I can't imagine coming home and not seeing him here, waiting for me to feed him before he dies of starvation or something equally lame-brained."
Aya laughed a little at that, and pulled himself away from seek long enough to meet his eyes. "Of course he's everything to you," he said. "It shows. Did he really call Sakito and claim to be you?" Aya asked, wide eyed. "If he would do something like that, it shows just how much he loves you. How much he'd want you to be happy. If he loves you, seek, he won't dissapear."
"He did!" seek said, his mood lightening a little, "though I imagine it was as much his wake-up call as his love of pranks. He tore down the signup sheet and everything before anyone else could see it, and then tried to change the subject by threatening me with a diseased pregnant girlfriend to direct my rage elsewhere!" He laughed shortly, then looked towards the hallway, and Susu's closed door. "I know. But I can't imagine coming home to an empty apartment. And he's going to go someday. He's going to grow up, find himself his own person to be in love with, his own place to exist, and he'll come back sometimes so I can feed him. He's already itching to do it, I know, and I never, ever want to hold him back, but ..." seek sighed, closing his eyes as if in defeat. "I don't want to be sad about it, but I can't help it.'
Aya gave him a sympathetic look, not understanding what seek had meant about the diseased girlfriend, but getting the gist of the situation. Aya wondered how it would be if he had a brother. Pehaps he would be better off...then his parents wouldn't have been so angry if they had at least one son succeed. Aya squashed the thought guiltily and cautiously raised a hand to stroke seek's hair, returning the comforting gesture. "Maybe you'll have your own person to love by then," Aya said.
seek laughed, his cheeks pinking cutely. "I don't think so. People are easy to understand, but when it comes to things like that ... aah, there's no way someone could love someone like me! I'm too weird! I don't make enough money, either."
Aya's eyes widened once more. "You must have money to have a place like this!" he blurted, and blushed. "I'm sorry. I mean...it's really nice." Aya chuckled. "And there are a lot of people in this world who would love someone like you to care for them."
"Susu says I'm like ... the universal mother, or something. He teases me about it all the time." seek shook his head. "It's only because my father has a good job," he said, looking down. "Without his help, we wouldn't have much of anything. My job pays pretty good, but not the best, you know?" He paused for a moment, contemplating Aya's words. "...I'm glad you think that. Maybe I shouldn't give up hope yet, then?"
Aya nodded. "You're a good catch." he said sweetly, pressing a kiss to seek's forehead. "Thank you for offering to protect me. I don't want you to think that I expect you to, though. Tetsuo is too dangerous. But seek... you're going to have a fine family someday, and they would be lost without you. So don't give up."
seek blushed and hugged Aya, momentarily overwhelmed. "Aya," he said softly, "I meant it when I swore to protect you. It's who I am -- I want to protect Susu and you and the rest of the band and these people I care about. I don't want to see you hurt or suffering -- I can't, if there's anything I can do to make it better. No matter what happens ... I want you guys to be happy. More than making music or finding that person or anything else ... that's what I want."
Aya felt giddy and warm, barely able to believe seek's words. They were all he had ever wanted to hear since that first hellish night Tetsuo had forced him to his bed, demanding he "earn his keep." Perhaps the world wasn't cruel after all, Aya mused. "Thank you," Aya whispered again, eyes downcast. "I swear I'll always do whatever I can to help you too."
"Then just do your best to be happy, and don't be afraid to come to me or any of the others with anything you need, okay? Take care of yourself, and we'll all be fine." He grinned up at Aya. "It's not so hard at all when you have the right people with you!"
Aya nodded happily. "I think that something, an ancestor, a god, an angel...something told me to go to that audition. Because I wasn't going to go, you know. I just did it without thinking. Whatever it was was watching out for me and sent me that way to keep me from killing myself." Aya sucked in his breath, feeling better now that he had voiced his confession, even in an offhand way that seek would most likely not take seriously.
But seek -- perceptive, motherly seek, had. He paled, his blood running cold. "Aya," seek whispered, an incredibly sad, vulnerable look crossing his face, "please, promise me that you won't ever consider that again. Don't even think about it. Please."
Aya nodded. "I didn't see much of a choice before," he said. "Now I think, just maybe I have something to live for -- that is, if he doesn't make good on his word and kill me."
"I won't let him," seek said firmly. He held Aya close to him, more determined than he'd been in a long time. "I promise."
Aya squeezed seek tightly and nodded, startling as he realized Susu had entered the room, dirty dish in hand. Aya blushed and sat up, eyes locked with Susu's before Susu graciously broke the contact to return the plate to the kitchen and quickly scurry back to the relative safely of his room.
seek remained blissfully unaware of what had just happened. "So," he asked, "are you feeling any better at all?"
Aya nodded. "I am" he said. "Just being able to say the things I have, without being judged ... means everything to me."
"I'm glad I could be of some use." seek smiled. "You look much better when you're not running from everything. Thank you ... for trusting me. I mean, I know we don't hardly know each other yet, but still."
Aya blushed. "You make it easy to trust you," he said. "And...I'm going to try to trust Tatsuya too, just like you said."
"I don't think you'll regret it," he said softly. "I think he's going to be someone very good to have at your side. And he will be, as much as you let him."
Aya nodded. "I've decided I'm going to follow him. What else is there, after all?" Aya smiled and wiped his eyes again.
"You won't be alone. But don't think that's the only choice you have, Aya. I don't want you to think anyone is forcing anyone to make you do anything. If you don't like something, you can say so, and no-one's going to be upset at you. No one is going to force you into anything anymore."
"I..want to." Aya said slowly, as if realizing his choice for the first time as a choice. "I want to stay with you. I want to stay with Daishi. I want Tatsuya to like me." Aya gasped a little, the realization crashing down on him.
seek grinned. It was working -- he hadn't fucked everything up, after all! "I'm glad. It wouldn't be as much fun without you, Aya-chan."
Aya smiled sweetly and seek felt his heart melting. Without the shadow of sick fear gripping him, Aya was vibrant and beautiful. Suddenly, he felt very aware of his surroundings and position and the beautiful boy looking up at him like he was something special. Something in his chest contracted a little and his throat felt strange, as if something was stuck there. He squirmed in his skin, suddenly very self-conscious, and coughed lightly, trying to dispel the sensation as well as hide his sudden discomfort.
Aya grinned again. "Thank you for tea," he said softly." I should be going, though. Tatsuya wanted me to practice with him today. You have a session with Yura today too, don't you?"
"Yeah," seek said, just a little regretfully. He hugged Aya one last time, and stood to show him to the door. "Yura'll be over today, I'm sure. Do you want me to go with you? It's not that far, really, and I'm sure Yura would understand."
"I'll be okay." Aya said with a grin. "But thank you again ... for everything. I'll see you soon." seek watched Aya leave, noting how graceful his movements were, so that he barely made a sound on the stairs.
"...bye," seek called after him, soft enough that the other couldn't hear. With a heavy sigh, he shut the door and began to clean the table, hoping against hope that he could keep the promises he'd made. He knew he'd have to talk to Tatsuya, too -- he had to tell him at least the general idea of what was wrong with Aya, and what Tetsuo had done ... and, if his own impulses didn't get to him first, tell him enough to find a way to ... deal with him. Above all else, seek had sworn that he'd never let Tetsuo hurt Aya again.
He meant it.