Note: This is off the OAV storyline. I haven't seen the manga OR manga translation, so anything inaccurate to the manga should be ignored please, as long as it can fit with the OAVs. *blinkblink* Onegai?
My hands do not shake as I raise the television converter and turn what is so painfully called 'modern entertainment' off.
Well. This was unexpected.
It should not have happened in this manner. I plan too well for that.
Apparently I have misjudged the situation, or at least the state of mind of his fans.
"This is not what I planned." Barely muttering the words, I rise from the leather sofa, pacing the spacious room, feet settling silently into the carpet. I pause by the phone, caressing the soft plastic, debating.
I had believed we ourselves would have had to reveal the truth about his relationship with that new toy of his... only to find, now, that he had done it himself.
In a series of music videos to his new album.
He should not have been able to sing.
He should not have been willing to ruin the careers, lives even, of himself and his lover.
And yet... somehow... he managed to break all the laws of what should have been, and come out more popular.
I shall never understand fans. What could possibly have made them like him more for this? They had certainly never liked his singing; it was garbage. Only his appearance could have drawn them so, as it had drawn so many. The misguided hope that they might some day be his lover.
Now they find out that he is dirty, preferring men to women, and.... like him more.
I am not sure I want to understand fans.
It should have disgraced him, ruined his life, so we could have dismissed him. Now... he is popular so we cannot dismiss him without looking as if we are in the wrong, yet his misbehaviour will still reflect upon us in business.
Father must be turning in his grave, with his favourite being the disgrace, being the one who is dirty, not either of us.
My hand is on the phone, pressing buttons that glow slightly in the semi dark of the room.
He had better answer; this is his business line and if he does not, I will have to punish him, as his superior.
He picks up. "Good evening. This is Nanjo Akihito." The telephone is expensive; barely any distortion mars his voice.
"Moshi moshi. Hirose desu." I begin without preamble. "Are you near a television, Ototo?" I give him no honorific. He knows to deserve none from me.
There is the clear sound of him standing, shuffling papers, a chair creaking. "I am now, Aniki."
"The music channel, if you would."
A slight buzz as the television comes on, then the sound of channels changing. Akihito, fool that he always will be, seems to feel the need to check everything between the channel he is on and the one he is reaching. "But Aniki, why the music station?"
"This is inappropriate for the family," I tell him. He does not know what I mean yet; he will. "It will reflect upon our business. Please contact someone further to learn more about this and we will decide what to do."
The phone goes dead but that doesn't matter; that's just Hirose. My Aniki's been like that for as long as I remember. It's always the business for Hirose.
No matter; I'm Aniki's assistant, after all.
The music channel. Some horrible so-called music that sounds like someone's tortured a cat. A music video is accompanying it, and it takes me a second to recognize the person in the video as my younger disgrace of a brother, completely unlike my Aniki, before the scene in the video changes to one that makes my eyes bulge OUT!
Koji, my dirty younger brother, clad only in pants with his head in the lap of that lower-class soccer player, who is naked and in some kind of bondage device.
I think my heart must have stuttered there.
"Why did Hirose want me to see THIS?!" I can't help yelping aloud as it does a close-up to find Koji hugging his boy-toy's knee, the soccer player's face a mask of grief. Jee-sus.
Yes, Aniki, I did believe you when you said they had a physical relationship, believe it or not, though it's difficult to think of Father's little darling as queer.
Not really that difficult at that.
The Koji in the video's now in front of a microphone, wearing chains, stroking the stand, and singing lyrics I really don't want to hear; what have I done that Aniki wants to force this on me?
This is inappropriate for the family. It will reflect upon the business.
I see! Hirose hadn't been discussing something I did.... He was referring to this video...but....
The scene on the tv switches to an announcer, and I listen closer. He is discussing... how... that disgrace's popularity's actually GONE UP?! That's just... SICK!
And Aniki needs my help in finding out more to help fix this family dishonour.
Hirose needs me.
Wasn't there some model or actress or something Koji used to be lovers with? I snort.... There were many, of course, to Aniki's irritation and mine as well. But there was one in particular... much older than him, who was clearly rather obsessed with the little slut. I can't remember her name, but I have her phone number, something Hirose required of me before to keep tabs on Koji's activities, disgrace as he always was, though we never knew how much. I'm digging through files, quickly, to find it, and pull out the document with the lists of needed phone numbers. Her picture, and her number.
I dial and wait impatiently.
She picks up before the third ring. "Hello?"
"This is Nanjo Akihito, Nanjo Koji's older brother," I tell her. Have to establish this before she decides I'm not worth her time, but I still have to sound polite; I don't want to disappoint Aniki.
Her voice is very attractive, softening almost immediately. "Ah, my boy of fire. How is he?"
That throws me for a loop. She didn't KNOW?! "I beg your pardon?"
"I have stopped paying attention to the news since he lost his voice. How is he?"
"Fully recovered, back in the music business, and back in love, apparently." Love... how hateful to use that term. There is no love in his relationship with that boy, desire, perhaps, but there can't be any love in something like that. Even Hirose said so.
"Back in love?" Her voice has tightened; I've clearly caught her attention. Aniki would be proud.
"Yes. I have to admit," I lower my voice, trying to sound as if I'm sharing a secret between just the two of us, "That my older brother and I aren't too pleased with the situation; you were a perfect match for him and this boy can't be half as good."
"Boy?!" Alarm is in her voice now. The woman spurned.
I sigh. "I'm afraid so. You can catch sight of them on the music channel." It's currently showing some futuristic gothic music video, also with the two of them in it. "Please, any information you can find on how to stop this unnatural relationship would be most welcome by my older brother and I. We will support you in your ventures... as one who should be family."
"I'll look into it. Sayonara." She cuts the communication.
Just wait, Aniki. I'll get you what you want.
My hand tightens around the disconnected phone, forgotten. This video... this is the lover my boy's brother spoke of? What could Koji SEE in him? He wasn't good looking; he did not appear cultured, his eyes were angry.
I am beautiful, and I am not willing to let my boy go.
The events of this video is shocking. Odd enough that Koji chooses himself to represent the ultimate evil; stomach churning that he chose this boy-lover of his to be the ultimate good -- but how could they do THAT in a music video that would be shown to the world?! It is a disgrace! To his family, to himself, and...
To the woman once his lover.
I told him once I would never let anyone take him from me, and I intend to keep my promise. So much the better if his family supports me in this; he will have nowhere to turn.
I am not a good woman to make an enemy, Koji.
But I cannot just barge in; it would affect nothing. I must make him pay, slowly and carefully. And I need information for that.
One person to call; the boy his friend who I believe approved of me.... At any rate, it must be better than THIS, to his mind.
I have to look up the number, but it is not too difficult to find; I am ALWAYS orderly.
How dare he make me wait?
He picks up on the sixth, cutting it off. "Shabuya Katsumi here."
I introduce myself, trying to make my voice warm despite the anger surging through my veins, and finish by asking how Koji is doing.
Shabuya pauses audibly. "He's fine."
This is getting me nowhere quickly. "I heard he had a new lover, and speaking as one who cares strongly for him, wanted to know if he's happy."
Another pause. How DARE he dissect my words?! "He is very happy."
Did I mean so little to you, then, Koji?! Oh, you will pay. "What is the boy's name?"
It doesn't matter if he doesn't tell me; the news MUST be abuzz with this. Shabuya clearly realizes this, sighing and then speaking.
Not his full name; no matter. I can find it out. "Well, I'm glad he's happy. So he's recording again?"
Where can I find you, you bastard?!
"BRONZE was his last album, I'm afraid," Shabuya tells me, something like resignation in his voice.
I chuckle. "But with his increase in popularity, I'm sure he'll change his mind."
"Will you contact me if he does so?"
Does he have to be so damn non-committal?! "Is there any place I can see him again? I feel it's only right to wish him the best. His brothers agree."
My boy, how could you turn your fire upon another?
Wariness has filled Shabuya's tone. "Sorry, I don't know, but I'll tell him you're looking for him."
This is wasting my time. "No bother. Thanks for your time." I hang up before he can respond.
Damn all of you. I'll get back at you, Koji... if I can't have your fire, nobody can.
Damn, damn, damn, damn DAMN!
I knew his womanizing habits would get him in trouble one of these days!
I sigh, drumming my fingers on the table. Why is it that whenever it seems Izumi and he are finally going to be happy and in peace, something happens to mess it up? Is it absolutely necessary for me to have to interfere every few seconds to make sure things happen the way they should?! One would think Koji's old enough to take care of himself!
Old enough... but not used to feeling. I know that. That's one of the reasons it's so damn hard to deal with, yet I keep dealing with it.
Minamimoto had been a mistake in the beginning. All she'd ever been for him had been a moment of dalliance, but everyone could see how possessive she had been. Plus a megastar like her was always in the spotlight. And if she's sided with Koji's brothers...
Never let it be said that Koji liked walking the safe path. He certainly STRIKES a person as a cautious, reasoning person... at least, he does so if you don't actually know the real him.
One of these days I'll get you back, Koji, for all the trouble I've gone through on your behalf.
I raise the phone again, pressing star 6 for the automated dial.
I wait for it. He always...
On the third ring, Koji picks up. "Nanjo Koji."
"Yo. Forget saying 'Hi' or 'Can I help you', name's enough, huh?" I know him well enough now not to have to introduce myself.
I can hear the smile in his voice. "I'm not a business store, Shabuya."
"You dress like one. Say, Koji, I've got to talk to you. Where's Izumi?"
A slightly surprised pause. "Shinjuku. His ex-soccer coach called him for a conference... they're considering taking him back since the team practically collapsed without him." Smugness lingers in his tone; one of his less attractive features. Though I suppose knowing that your lover will pick you over something he bases his life around is something to be smug about.
"Damn. You'll need to pass this on to him then. Minamimoto's digging into your life."
"Oh? Minamimoto? How is she?"
I snort. "Jealous as a spoiled child lacking candy. Hell, she always was possessive."
"She wouldn't try anything."
"Not on her own, maybe. She's been talking to the elder Nanjos."
Koji curses expressively. Maybe I should take notes... "To my brothers?"
"Know any other Nanjos?"
"Shit. Did you tell her anything?"
I shake my head, whether he could see it or not. "Nothing she couldn't find out on her own, and nothing the brothers don't know already. I'm neither insane nor stupid, Koji."
He sighs. "Well, thank you for informing me, Shabuya. By the way, I'm working on a new song."
Heh, I knew he couldn't stay away. Music is to him what soccer is to Izumi. It says all the things he can't say in words to the world. "That's great, Koji! What's it called?"
"Suffocation." He chuckles, as if it is an inside joke. Probably is. Hell, most of his songs are. Just look at Katsuai or Zetsu-20XX. And boy, taping the music videos for those was interesting. I had no idea that Izumi was the actor he is. Or maybe he wasn't acting.
Well, no doubt this music video will be just as interesting to tape. I can see Toshiyuki nosebleeding already as he attempts not to watch but claiming duty as manager to do so.
"I look forward to it." The microwave buzzes lightly, my dinner's ready. "Gotta eat, so I'm heading off now. Don't get in too much trouble."
He chuckles again. "What, don't do anything you wouldn't do?"
"Feh, like that would have any effect on you. Oh, by the way, I can hear that you're smoking." The soft sighs are a dead giveaway. "Stop that or you'll ruin your voice and then you won't have to worry about your brothers, Toshiyuki'll get you first. Ja."
I cut the connection and retrieve my dinner, sighing.
Koji, you idiot, don't let people get between you two again. I'm sick of rescuing you.
Well, this is heavy news.
Returning the phone to its cradle, I turn back to my songwriting, but my heart isn't in it. I light up another cigarette, then think of Shabuya's words. Toshiyuki wouldn't dare hurt me, but I wouldn't put it past Shabuya to try. Besides, Izumi hates my bad habit of smoking.
Looks like I'm outnumbered.
I put the cigarette out in an ashtray and pour myself a drink of whiskey. Izumi hates that habit too, but it helps me think.
Hirose. Akihito. Minamimoto.
Actually, seems like I'm always outnumbered.
I take a sip of the whiskey, relishing the way it burns the back of my throat. Wonderful cold fire.
Like his eyes.
Yes, I'm definitely returning to singing. Some words that sound too dramatic aloud sound right when sung, thankfully, or I'd never be able to tell him.
Tell him. I check the clock. 9:30. He should be at his hotel by now. I'd better tell him. I don't want to worry him, but Hirose already tried kidnapping him once. Who knows what he'll do next time? Since his intended plans didn't go off right, he certainly won't just let us walk away this time.
I phone the hotel and ask for his room. Thankfully, they don't identify my voice. They did once before and it was hell to get off the phone then.
Maybe he's not in yet?
The phone is snatched up, and Izumi's voice, breathless, answers. "Izumi Takuto here."
"Izumi." I need no other words to be identified.
"Koji! Were you phoning me the whole time?"
What does that mean? "Hmm?"
"I just walked in the door, and the phone was ringing. First time, calling, then?" His voice is still breathless; it must be elation rather than exhaustion from the cheerful tone of his words. "You've got great timing."
I close my eyes, listening to his voice, cradling the phone against my ear. I love his voice almost as much as his eyes. So expressive when he wants it to be. So very much him. I cradle the phone against my cheek, against my ear. "How did it go?" I want to be with him.
"They're taking me back!" He laughs at the end of the sentance, on the ecstatic end of hysterical. "They have decided that I won't, quote, be a disgrace to the team, unquote... meaning, of course, that they need me. Hell, you saw in the paper what happened to their winning streak when I left."
"Aa. They've always needed you. You're amazing." He is, and in more ways than one.
He is docile, the happiness clenching inside him like a second heart, beating. I want to be with him. I want him to share that happiness with me.
I am hopeless; I have known that for over a year now. Just thinking about him makes my chest hurt and my breathing stop coming, suffocating. If he has two hearts now, I have only one, and it is him.
"I wouldn't have said it if I didn't mean it." I don't want to ruin his enjoyment, but... can I afford not to say it? "Izumi..."
A pause. "Damn, something's gone wrong." The happiness has fled his tone, and it makes the ache inside me grow that much stronger. Why do I always ruin his happiness? "What is it?"
I sigh, the only expression of my pain at his pain that I can give, and take a deep gulp of my whiskey. "Nothing, yet."
"Damn you, Koji, don't toy like this. What WILL go wrong?"
"I'm not sure anything will." I can hear, feel even, him get angry, and hasten to continue. I am tired of being the cause of his anger. "It's just... considering that my brothers were counting on the unveiling of our relationship ruining both our lives, how do you think they're responding to our increased popularity?"
"Not well. Have they done anything?"
"They have been researching into what's going on in our lives by using a woman I used to..." I pause, trying to waltz around the issue without directly lying, "know."
"Minamimoto." He sighs.
That was... odd. "Yes... but ... how did you...?"
"Give me some credit for not being blind nor stupid, Koji. The media HAD printed rumours even a year ago and Shabuya's mentioned her in passing. God knows you haven't been the most monogamous creature in existance."
It hurts. Even now, it hurts.
"Izumi... I haven't been..."
"I wasn't implying that you still are." There is a slightly smug tone in his voice, and I begin to laugh. "What are you laughing at?"
I can't stop laughing. "Feeling possessive?"
"Shut up." He snorts. "Well... if that's all, this IS long distance."
I take another drink, still grinning. "Izumi, I'm rich."
"Oh yeah. Forgot. Still, it's getting late."
Late? We've stayed up later. "Is it?"
"I'm getting up at five tomorrow to demonstrate to the team that they didn't make a bad choice during practice, so it's late enough."
Of course. I was thinking of myself again. "Sorry."
"Just glad you called. At least this time I know you didn't get into another accident."
I wince. "No accidents."
"Good. I'll just go then." He pauses, and neither of us hang up. "Um, Koji?"
I choke down hope. I have only ever heard the words from his throat once. "Yes?"
A longer pause. "Thank you for phoning."
The disappointment is expected. I've told him my love enough that he is assured of that, at least. The words don't need to be there for it to be true. I know that. "When can I call you tomorrow?"
"Oh, please, Koji." He snorts. "I'm taking the bullet train back as of dinner time."
I shrug, though he can't see me, and tell him the truth. "I don't want to wait to hear from you again."
He pauses. "I'll come back to my hotel room for lunch."
It is enough, that he will do even that when he could be spending time with his team. "All right. I love you, Izumi."
"I know. Talk to you tomorrow."
The phone goes dead, and I replace it in the hanger.
One day, I'll get him to say those words again.
But until then... I think I'll have another drink.
I stare at the hotel phone. Hirose and Akihito again. Well, at least they haven't taken actions yet. And this time, I'll be prepared.
Soccer really helps in learning martial arts, I've learned. Certainly, they may be masters, but they won't be expecting me to fight back, so that might save me.
I realize that my hand's still on the cool plastic of the phone and pull it back.
Why do I find it so hard to communicate with him? Say those words? I feel them, but I can't say them.
"Why do I have to love him so much?"
I don't want to blame it on my mother. It probably is true, but she's affected my life enough. Why can't it ever end?
I try saying the words. "I love you too, Koji." They come out sounding hollow and scared.
It doesn't matter. I can say them any time. I don't have to say them yet. His brothers may be trying to stop it, but there's only so much they can do. I will have the rest of my life with him.
Sure, it will NOT be easy. I learned very quickly that nothing about Koji was ever simple; he took my life and turned it upside down, mostly because I couldn't stop thinking about him.
I still can't.
I'm hopeless, I guess, but there are probably worse things to be.
See, I know that we're both hopeless. I've seen it in his eyes, that same thing I feel. Heard it in his music. We don't need words to communicate. We don't need words, or sound, or sight even. Because we feel the same.
I don't need to say it to tell him I love him.
Author's notes: Well, this is my first Zetsuai/BRONZE fic and I don't know if I'll do another. It's very difficult to do a story with pre-established yaoi characters. I hope it turned out okay. Oh, just so you know, for some reason Koji calls Izumi and Shabuya by their family names; I don't know why. The names weren't mis-ordered.
Zetsubo=obsessive, hopeless. The root of Zetsu-Ai.