Title: Shell of a Man 1/?
Sequel to: Head of the House
Summary: Maruyama learns to love again after the death of Ryo.
It had been a year since Ryo had been killed. Many things had changed in Kanjani 8. Uchi had returned to the group as Ryo's replacement. Things had begun to get back to normal with almost everyone. One person would never be normal again. That was Maruyama Ryuhei.
Shota had watched when Maruyama came into the dressing room. The taller man didn't say anything to anyone. He picked up the script he knew he should study. Then he Plopped into the farthest chair away from anyone and began to read. Maruyama never talked to anyone unless someone talked to him first.
In many ways Maruyama had died when his lover had died. No longer was he anyone's friend. He was alone. He would stay alone.
Shota missed his friend. It wasn't like before; When Maruyama would make up crazy jokes. He had always been one of the supporting members of the group, but now the support was gone, and now only a shell of a man was in Maruyama's place.
"I wish I could help Maru," Shota sighed. He looked at his band mate across the room. He was sitting at a dressing room table with Subaru.
"Help him how?" Subaru looked up from painting his nails.
"Maru is always alone." the smaller man pointed out the obvious.
"Why does that matter to you?" Subaru started painting a rich onyx on the next nail.
"He's just lonely that's all." Shota tried to sound non chalet. It hurt him to see his friend hurting.
"He's not lonely," Subaru told him. "He hurts. There is a pain in his heart that no one can take from him."
"How would you know?"
"I felt the same way when Tacchan moved in with that bitch." He blew on his nails. "It's like a living hell."
"You got better." Shota realized that Maruyama was looking at him. His eyes distant and far away.
"I always had the hope that I would get Tacchan back." Subaru began to put a second coat on his nails. "Maru doesn't have that luxury. The one he loves will never come back to him."
"I just wish that he would stop staring at me. It's like I have something on me." Shota whispered.
"He watches you," Subaru agreed.
"What have I done so bad that makes him watch me?"
"It's nothing bad Yassan." He put the nail polish brush down. "Do you like Maru?"
"He’s a good friend." Shota lied. He had been more then just a friend to him for quite some time.
"I think he likes you more then a friend." Subaru looked him over.
"Perhaps I should ask him out."
"He'll probably say no." Subaru picked back up the nail polish brush.
A shell was all that was left of Maruyama's heart. A coldness that would keep the pain out. He worked as always, no one on camera would ever know he had changed. No one would understand his pain. He had promised to love Ryo forever. They had planned to spend their lives together. But their happiness had been stopped by Rena's knife.
Maruyama had promised Ryo that he wouldn't be like Uchi. He would never leave him. Yet Ryo was the one to leave.
No one could understand the ache in his heart. Waking up and forgetting that Ryo was gone. Expecting to find someone curled up beside him in bed. But finding the bed empty.
Sometimes just sometimes the coldness would go away. It was replaced by warmth that made him feel good. His friend Shota was one of the few that stayed at his side even though Maruyama hurt. Just being around him was enough.
Maruyama knew should go on with his life, that Ryo wouldn't want him to be alone like this. But he was too afraid to make the first move. He was terrified that Shota would leave him too. He would be alone again.
"You want to go for something after filming?" Shota asked him one day while they were taping a show.
"That wouldn't be a good idea." Maruyama dismissed. "I don't date."
Shota looked crestfallen. He hated when his friend looked the way he did. Then just as suddenly, Shota plastered on a hopeful smile. "It's just going out with some of the group. It isn’t' a date."
Maruyama wanted to say no, but something inside of him made him nod. "That would be great."
"Wonderful!" Shota beamed. "I'll see you then."
Shota wasn't sure when he had fallen for Maruyama. Perhaps it was because now that Ryo was gone, they had to spend more time together. He knew that Maruyama didn't like him that way. He was hurt too much to ever love anyone again.
Sometimes, just sometimes Shota would see his friend watching him from affair. The sad look would leave his face just for a moment. But never in the entire time had Shota ever seen him smile.
That was when Shota began to wonder if there was still hope.
He had asked Maruyama out, it was a double date. Maruyama didn't know that. They would keep that fact a secret. Maruyama wasn't fully ready to love again, thought it had been a year.
Maruyama's filming was finished over half an hour before Shota's. He realized there wouldn't be a date, not this night.
He was surprised when the taller man actually waited for him. He had been afraid that he would have left. Instead, Maruyama had showered. His hair still damp. He had put on fresh clothes.
"Who’s going out with us?" Maruyama asked.
"What about Yoko and Hina?" he asked. "Are they coming too?"
Hina was at his dressing room table. "Coming where?"
"We're getting a bite to eat, want to come?" Shota asked.
"Sure, why not." Hina smiled.
They went to Ohkura's cafe. That was the name for it. Maruyama tried to stay away from it. He didn't want to see the children, kids for reasons not their own were blood relatives of the woman who had killed Ryo.
The cafe had changed in the past year. It had been redecorated so that no trace of Rena was left. Subaru's mother Shibutani san was now the manager of the cafe. She had run other cafes before, and she made sure that this one was great.
The waitresses pushed tables together for them. That was one thing that had changed; Ohkura had hired other staff for the cafe, so that it would be ran without them if needed.
Shota was the first to sit down. He sat at the side of the table. He didn't say anything to Maruyama, but the look on his face made him realize that he really wanted him to sit by him.
Maruyama did. It wasn't a date he reminded himself. Just friends going out. But in a way it felt like a date. He realized if he had to go out, he would date Shota.
They ordered some food. They all had something that they knew they would always order. But still it seemed different. For the first time in a long time, Maruyama was able to relax. Even though it was only with his friends.
"Oh you got the spaghetti," Shota sighed as the food was put in front of Maruyama.
Maruyama glanced to Shota's plate. It was some kind of noodle dish. "What did you order?"
"You’re kidding." he gasped.
"Your right, I'm kidding."
Maruyama smiled for the first time in a long time. A real genuine smile. Nothing was fake about it. It was a smile from the heart.
"So what did you really order?" he asked.
"I'm not sure, I just picked something." Shota shrugged. "I like to try new things every time I come here."
"That's a good idea." Maruyama agreed.
"Why don't we share our food?" Shota suggested. "I try some of yours and you try some of mine."
It was so different from Ryo. Ryo never wanted to share his food. But this wasn't Ryo. Maruyuma reminded himself. This was Shota, and he knew he shouldn't compare the two.
"What's wrong?" His friend asked concerned.
"Nothing," Maruyama nodded. "That would be a real good idea if we shared our food."
Shota picked up a bite of the food with his fork, he offered it to Maruyama. His friend took the bite without touching the fork.
Shota began to eat. Maruyama began to chat to the other members in the group.
Maruyama glanced back to his date several times. Shota had a bit of sauce on his chin.
"You have something on your face." Maruyama took his napkin and wiped off Shota's chin. Then their eyes met and Maruyama smiled again. For the first time in a very long time Maruyama Ryuhei felt alive.
Shota and Maruyama began to date. It wasn't a real date, Maruyama told himself. Just friends going out. But he knew deep inside that he wasn't just friends with Shota. Slowly, very slowly Maruyama felt like his old self. The empty feeling had left his heart. He still mourned for Ryo, but he realized that there might be a life without him.
Maruyama had many dates with Shota. It was now almost daily that the pair shared a meal. They would always order different things and eat from both plates. Then they would go on a walk. Maruyama really began to look forwards to their dates.
This walk there was a stand selling coffee. It hadn't been at the park before. Maruyama got a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. He had seen the stand before. It belonged to one of his grand father's associates.
"Let's get some coffee." Shota suggested. "It's so cold out that I could really use a drink."
"Not from that place." Maruyama told him.
"What's wrong with it?"
Maruyama looked away from him. "I can't tell you."
"Please Maru?" Shota pouted.
"If that's what you want."' Maruyama sighed.
Maruyama followed his friend to the stand. He held back as Shota ordered, hoping that perhaps he wouldn't be seen.
"What does your friend want?" The server asked Shota.
"Ryuhei," Shota touched Maruyama's arm.
Maruyama had no choice but to talk to the server. He looked him in the eye. "I would like a cappuccino."
"It will be a minute." the server told him. He set the drinks on the counter, and then he looked over Shota. "Is that your boy friend?"
"We're just friends." Maruyama said as he picked up the drinks.
Shota flinched and turned away from the taller man. Maruyama paid for the drink.
Maruyama gave him his drink. He thanked his friend but didnt' take a sip.
They walked away from the stand, neither of them talking. The bass player wanted to get Shota as far away from the stand as possible. He had kept his friend away from his family. He didn't want him to find out the whole truth about himself. How once Maruyama had been trained to be a killer. How his grandfather wanted him back in the family.
"What's wrong?" Maruyama finally asked.
"It's nothing," Shota looked close to tears.
"No it's not nothing. Maruyama said. "What is it, please tell me."
"We're only friends." he looked at the coffee. "I thought I was more then that to you."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you." his friend said. "It just that that vender..."
"What's wrong with him?"
"He works for my grandfather." Maruyama admitted. "My grandfather pays money to his men if they can turn in information about me."
"Why would he do such a thing?"
"My grandfather likes to be involved in all of my life." He looked away from his friend. "I don't want the family to know about you."
"It’s dangerous isn't it?" Shota guessed.
"Yeah it is," he agreed.
They walked away from the vender, until they could no longer see him.
"I want you to know that you're more then a friend to me." Maruyama confessed. "For the first time in a very long time I am happy. I look forwards to our little ventures."
"Then why do you hide it away?" Shota’s eyes were wide, curious. “Why can’t you tell me the truth?”
"My heart still hurts from Ryo." Maruyama sipped at his own coffee. "You deserve some who doesn't have all this baggage. Someone who can love you and not be afraid"
"Are you afraid?" Shota was so innocent; he had never felt the pain that Maruyama had felt.
"I'm very afraid." he admitted. "So very afraid that I will love you and you'll be taken from me."
"I understand." Shota nodded. "Would you like for us to keep having this special friendship?"
"Is that what it is? A special friendship?" It didn't sound like enough to Maruyama.
"It's special, very special." Shota told him. "Someday you won’t be afraid anymore, and I'll be with their waiting."
The weeks passed as Shota and Maruyama shared their special friendship. Shota still dated Maruyama. But very slowly, Maru began to change. He would sit closer to Shota. If they took a bus ride, he had to sit at his side.
But still no kiss. Not touching. Though that was all Shota wanted from him. He wanted to take Maruyama into his arms. To show him that love didn't have to hurt.
They walked together in the park. Maru was walking beside him. It was a beautiful April day.
Then Shota felt it. Maruyama's fingers touching his hand. Not really holding, just one finger twined with one of Shota’s. Then soon it was followed by a second.
He didn't look at Maruyama, he was afraid. It was like a spell. Something wonderful, just the simple touch.
"Yassan, can we stop for a second?" Maruyama asked.
Shota stopped; they were under an oak tree.
His friend just stood there, terrified. Shota had never seen him so scared. Then it happened, Maruyama touched his cheek. Then he kissed Shota. Maruyama's lips trembled. But it was a kiss, after so long they shared their first kiss.
Then just as suddenly, Maruyama pulled away from him. "I shouldn’t have done that."
"Didn't you want it?"
"I want so much." Maruyama looked away. "I want to hold you, and never let go. I want to love you, to be at your side. To wake up knowing that there would be someone beside me. That the loneliness would be gone."
"Then why don't we?"
"I would be cheating on Ryo." A tear rolled down his cheek. "I promised to love him forever, to never betray him."
"You still love him that much." Shota felt disappointed. He looked away from Maruyama.
"Yes, I still love him." Maruyama admitted.
"Then all of this is wrong." tears stung Shota's eyes. "My feelings for you don't matter...”
"I love you." He waited for Maruyama to say something, but he didn't.
"I didn't expect that." Maruyama finally said.
"I know, you don't have to love me back." Shota knew he would have to let Maruyama go. He didn't want to. He wanted to show his friend that love would be all right. "Someday when your heart stops hurting come to me. I'll be waiting."
"What about now?"
"It’s for the best if we’re just friends." Shota turned to leave. “Sayonara Ryuhei.”
Shota was surprised to feel Maruyama's hand on his shoulder. Then he was hugging him from behind. The bass player’s whole body shook against him.
"Please Yassan, don't leave me." The loneliness had returned to Maruyama's voice.
Shota wanted to go, to tell Maru that it was better this way. That he couldn’t live this way. They had to part forever. But he couldn't. His body had shut down at his friend' touch.
The smaller man felt Maruyama’s arms tighten around him. The bass player pressed his cheek against Shota’s, it was wet from tears. "I never thought I would be able to love again. Then you came into my heart. When we're together, I no longer feel alone. The emptiness is gone. I am whole again."
"Do you love me?" Shota suddenly realized he needed to know how his friend felt for him.
"I love you more then anything." Maruyama confessed. "I didn't know I could love like this again."
Then Shota came up with an idea. "Why don't we ask Ryo if it's all right for us to be together?"
"Ask Ryo?" Maruyama repeated. "He can't answer us."
"He can, in our hearts." Shota told him. "We'll buy some flowers and visit his grave."
"All right," Maruyama agreed.
They went to the grave yard. He found that there were leaves on the stone. Maruyama brushed them off. It was a warm April day. Ryo always loved days like the one they were experiencing.
"What are you thinking of?" Shota asked.
"How much Ryo used to love days like this." Maruyama admitted.
"We don't have to go through with this if you've changed your mind." Shota offered. "I would understand."
"No, I can't stand this loneliness any longer." Maruyama told him. "Every day with no one beside you. Waking up to know that nothing will ever change. There is only the longing for your lost love to embrace you."
Shota put the flowers he was holding on the grave stone. "Ryo, Ryuhei is afraid to ask you something. He's afraid you'll tell him no and he will stay alone forever."
"Why did you tell him that?" Maruyama asked.
"It's the truth." Shota paused. "Can't you feel him; he's here all round us."
Maruyama tried not to sigh. His friend was a dreamer, one who believed in miracles. But then he realized he could feel Ryo. It was such a strange feeling that he knew it had to be his lover.
"Ryo, I died when you did. My heart felt like it had turned to ice. But I avenged your death. I went on from there trying to live my life." Maruyama began. "But around Christmas, I realized that I could love again. He was right there with us all along. But I am so afraid. I won't even let him kiss me. I feel like I'm cheating on you."
"I promise to love Ryuhei the same way you did. I'll try and make him happy. Please Ryo, show us a sign." Shota told the air. "Please give us your blessing to love."
"What do we do now?" Maruyama asked.
"We wait." Shota told him.
"I do love you Ryo, but I love Yassan too." Maruyama told Ryo.
A few minutes passed. Maruyama was about to give up hope, when a yellow bird flew by and landed on the grave stone. Maruyama had never before seen a bird like the one that was on stone. It was carrying a twig. It dropped the twig at Shota's feet.
Shota picked up the twig. It had two ribbons wrapped around it. One ribbon orange, the other blue.
"Our ranger colors." Shota gasped.
"So a bird came by and dropped a twig." Maruyama tried not to care. But in reality it frightened him a bit.
"It was a yellow bird. Ryo was the yellow ranger. The bird was like nothing we ever seen before, just like he was." He insisted. "The twig is wrapped in our colors. It has to be our sign."
Maruyama took the twig from Shota, looking at it carefully. Embossed on each ribbon was eighto ranger. It was the sign they had asked for.
"Thank you Ryo," He said humbly.
The bird flew off, flying towards heaven and disappearing.
Shota smiled at Maruyama. "Let's go home Ryuhei."
Maruyama took Shota's hand, kissing the knuckles.
Maruyama walked Shota towards his car. He stopped dead in his tracks. A limo stood between the car and them. Two of his grandfather's men stood by it. They had come, for him. He took Shota's hand.
"Their here." Maruyama said in a rush. “My grandfather’s men.”
"They followed us." Shota realized.
"We have to escape." Maruyama told him.
They turned and walked the other way. The men began to follow them. They began to run, but still the men followed.
There was the sound of a rifle being fired. Pain coursed through his body. Maruyama fell to the ground. He had been hit in the shoulder.
"Ryuhei!" Shota screamed, he knelt beside the taller man.
"Run," Maruyama gasped. "Leave me and go!"
"I can't leave you." Shota insisted.
"They'll kill you." He was beginning to feel numb. "You have to run.'
There was another sound. Maruyama felt Shota's body land on his. Then everything went black.
Maruyama woke up. He was in a soft bed. He opened his eyes. He realized he was in the bed and breakfast ran by his grandmother.
He looked around; there was an armed guard in the room.
He reached up, touching his shoulder. There was a raised bump, from the tranquilizer dart. If they had been shot by darts, then there was a chance that Shota was still alive.
He sat up, looking at the guard. "What am I doing here?"
"My prince, the chief ordered you be brought here." The guard told him.
"What about my friend?" Maruyama asked concerned. "Where is he?"
"I don't know," The guard told him.
After a few moments a servant came into the room. She told Maruyama that breakfast was ready.
Shota woke. He tried to open his eyes, but found that he couldn't see. He tried to move his body, but found he couldn't. He was on something cold. That was the first thing that made him realize that he was some kind of table. His arms stretched above him. Those were tied down.
"He's awake." An unfamiliar voice said.
"Make things easy on us." Another voice said. "Confess that you've been sent as a spy."
"A spy?" Shota asked confused. "I'm not a spy."
Something hit him across his back. It was hard, it stung.
"Confess." The voice demanded. "Your father is yakazuka."
"My father owns a music store." Shota said. It was the truth. The man he had grown up to believe that his father did own a music store.
"Your real father!" The voice said. "Not your step father!"
"He is my real father." Shota said. “My real father owns a music store.”
He was hit again, it really hurt this time. He cried out in pain.
The men walked around the room. Shota could feel something being slathered on his back. By the smell he realized it was baby oil. He didn't have long to wonder why they were using baby oil, because he was hit again, this time with something different. It took for hits before he realized it was an electric cord.
"Tell me that you were sent by your father to spy on the prince!' The voice demanded.
"I can't..." he gasped.
It was the beginning of the first beating. The first of many. To make the pain stop, all he had to do was confess he was a spy. But Shota couldn't betray Maruyama. He couldn't lie and say that he was sent to spy on Maruyama. He had been with him for only one reason, because Shota loved him more then anything.
Maruyama went down to breakfast. That was one good thing, he wasn't a prisoner. His grandmother scurried around, taking care of the guests. It was all part of the front. To show that the families holdings were just investments.
Maruyama's grandmother set a plate of food in front of him. Then she sat down across from him.
"Tell me about your girl friend." Maruyama's grand mother asked gently.
"I don't have a girl friend." The bass player denied.
"I just want to know if you’re serious about her." She asked. "My contacts say that you’re dating. I am very pleased that finally you started going out with girls."
"I don't date girls." Maruyama reminded her. "I am gay."
"Your grandfather gave me some photos of you and your girlfriend." She passed the photos to him.
Maruyama looked over the pictures. All take with a long distance camera. He felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. This was worse then he thought. The photos showed him with Shota. His friend wearing a long denim skirt. His hair long. Beautiful, Shota was beautiful.
"Isn't that a girl?" His grandmother prompted.
"No, grandmother it isn't." he put the photos on the table.
"Then who is it?" The older woman paused. "You know there isn't anything to worry about with me."
"His name's Yasuda Shota." He admitted.
"So you finally decided to love after Ryo," she poured her grandson a cup of tea. "Is he anything like Ryo?"
"Shota’s different then Ryo," he took a sip of the tea. "I think that's why it was so easy to fall in love with him. Where Ryo was gruff, Shota is soft, gentle. For the first time in a long time, I feel alive."
"What did Ryo think of Shota?" She continued.
"Ryo had few real friends, but he counted Shota as one of them."
"I would like to meet him." The older woman decided. "Why don’t' you call him?
"Grandfather's men took him. We were together when I was taken." Maruyama paused. "I don't know where he is."
"They took him." His grandmother repeated.
"I am afraid they killed him." He admitted. "I know they don't like to leave witnesses."
"I'll check on him." His grandmother promised.
A day passed. There was no news about Shota. Maruyama's grandmother had promised to check in on him. But he hadn’t' heard anything. He worried about Shota. If he was alive.
Finally, Maruyama was told that his grandfather wanted to speak to him. Maruyama went, though he was shaking inside. He was taken to another building, this one in the heart of the city. It was his grandfather's office building.
Maruyama-san sat behind a large oak desk. It was very impressive.
"I want to talk to you about your so called friend." His grandfather said.
"You mean Yasuda-kun?" Maruyama asked.
"Of course, who else would I mean?" He asked.
Suddenly there was a scream of agony that rang down the hallways. Maruyama knew who it was in an instant. It was Shota.
"Why are you doing this to him?" Maruyama demanded.
"You don't know everything about your friend." he said. "I have evidence that Yasuda-kun is a spy."
"A spy? For what?"
"You don't know what his father does do you?" Maruyama-san sneered.
There was another scream, this one worse then the first. Maruyama knew he had to get to his friend. He jumped to his feet, but found he was shoved back into his chair by two of his grandfather's men.
The younger man struggled to get away. "I've met Shota's father before. He owns a music store."
"That's Yasuda-kun's step father." his grandfather told him. "His real father is a chef in the Hyogo family. His real name is Nishikido Shota."
The bass player sighed. "I don't believe this."
"Has Yasuda-kun told you about his family?" The questions continued. "His father had many mistresses and many, many children."
"What has that got to do with anything?"
"Tell me, did Yasuda-kun remind you of Ryo, is that why you go out with him?"
"He's nothing at all like Ryo!" Maruyama insisted.
"Did you know that Ryo was his brother?" his grandfather demanded.
"Ryo and Shota are not brothers." Maruyama hissed. "I lived with Ryo for two years, he would have told me!"
"They have the same biological father." His grandfather countered.
Just then there was a knock. "Come."
One of the aids came in. "Yasuda-kun refuses to confess."
"Confess to what?" Maruyama demanded.
"Yasuda-kun was sent to seduce you, to spy on you." Maruyama san told him. "We want him to confess before we kill him."
Shota lay in the cell. His whole body hurt from the torture. He couldn't see. A blindfold had been put on his eyes and hadn't been removed. His wrists tied together. It was over, just like he knew it would be the moment he fell for Maruyama. He knew what would happen. They would torture him until he confessed, then they would kill him.
Shota thought of Ryo. That was the only good thing about visits to his real father. The dark eyed small boy that was his half brother. Ryo had never resented Shota. Instead, he wished that he could have lived with Shota's family. What was worse, their father hadn't cared for Ryo, and he had been sent to join the Johnny's when he was very small.
The door opened. Shota's body hurt from the torture. Still, he edged backwards so that he was sitting up. He was afraid that the men would rush him. Would pull him out of the room and began to hurt him again.
He could hear the person walk to him. He began to fight against the person, though his hands were bound. His legs still worked, and with that he kicked at the person with all his will.
"Please, quit kicking me." A very familiar voice said. It was Maruyama, the man he had fallen in love with.
Shota stopped kicking his friend. "What are you doing here?"
"Is it true, are you yakazuka?" Maruyama's voice was hoarse.
He realized that he had to tell the truth to his friend. Perhaps the same arms that loved him would kill him. He knew it was the way of their kind.
"Well, are you?" Maruyama repeated.
"My biological father is yakazuka," he admitted. "I never was. I never lived with him. I just had visits."
"Is Ryo your brother?" his friend demanded.
"Yes, he is."
"Why didn't Ryo ever tell me?" Maruyama sounded hurt. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"We never thought of each other as brothers. Just friends." Shota tried to explain. "Ryo didn't want anyone to find out about our relationship. He was terrified that Johnny-sama would separate us. He made me promise not to tell anyone."
"Are you a spy?"
"No, I'm not." Shota insisted.
"Then why didn't you tell me the truth about you?"
"When I went to Kansai and because a Junior I started a new life. To me, my step father always was my father. No one had to know the truth. That I have yakazuka blood." he admitted. "I know that your family is going to have to kill me."
"Who said that?" Maruyama sounded very angry.
"The people that were interrogating Me." he said. "I want you to do it."
"I want the last thing that I see to be you." Shota fought back the tears. "I'm not a spy, but I understand the way of yakazuka. Please Ryuhei, be there my last few moments. I know you don't love me, not after what I did to you. But I love you. I will always love you, even in heaven."
He felt Maruyama's hands on him, taking off his blindfold. Then Maruyama untied his wrists. He was surprised about what happened next, his friend kissed his lips. It was a kiss that felt like he was sucking the life out of him.
Shota signed and kissed Maruyama back. It wasn't a gentle kiss; it was a kiss that captured his soul. He no longer had doubts. He belonged to Maruyama.
When they finally broke away from each other, Maruyama took his hand. He looked into his friend's eyes. "I want you to come with me, tell my grandfather the complete truth."
"I can't leave you. To be together you have to tell the truth." Maruyama said seriously. "No more lies."
The door to the cell opened. Men came into the cell. All of the men were armed. Three grabbed Shota and three Maruyama. They pulled Maruyama away from him. The smaller man was shoved back into the corner. His body pinned against the wall.
"I'll tell my grandfather!" Maruyama struggled against the men. "Let me go!"
"Shut up!" One of the men ordered, he slapped Maruyama hard across the face.
The taller man was forcibly pulled out of the room. The door was slammed shut. Then it was locked. Shota could hear Maruyama screaming for him.
A few moments passed. Then Shota heard a sound he never thought he would hear. Maruyama screaming as if he is being tortured. Tears pour down Shota's cheeks. He realized they were both going to die.
Maruyama lay unmoving on the interrogation table. He tried to be as still as he could, to try and learn more from these people. They thought he had passed out from the beating. The bass players mind raced. He knew he had to get out of this room. That he wouldn't be able to help Shota unless he was out of his binds.
"We better tell the chief that we're interrogating the prince." One of the henchmen said.
"I'm not going to tell the chief!" the other one said.
"We should let him go." the first said.
"The prince will kill us if we do that." The second countered.
"The chief will kill us if we don't." the first countered.
"The chief will kill us once he finds out we took him."
"What should we do then?"
"We should kill the prince."
"Oh no, I'm not going to do that!" The first insisted. "The chief will kill us slowly if he finds out that we killed his favorite grandchild."
On and on the two men argued. It was giving Maruyama a head ache. He just wanted both to shut up.
"Why don't you just let me go?" Maruyama suggested.
"Prince!" The first said.
“”We didn’t know you were awake.” The second one told him.
"Let me go," he repeated. "Then give Yasuda-kun to me. I want to take him to my grandfather."
"Sir, we have orders." The second one said.
"Do as I command or you will die very slowly." he promised.
The first man went to Maruyama untying him. He sat up and rubbed his wrists. Maruyama stood up and punched the second man in the face. He felt good when the man fell to the ground.
"That's for even thinking of killing me!" He spat. "Now take me to Yasuda kun!"
Shota hadn't heard any noise coming from Maruyama's cell for quite some time. That frightened him. Did it mean that the men would return to him and beat him again? It was the waiting he hated the most. The breaks between beatings, when he knew that men would be coming for him soon. Thinking of Maruyama having to wait to be tortured upset him.
The guitarist wondered if Ryo had gone through all of this when he had gotten together with Maruyama. Ryo had become gentler when he was with Maruyama. He showed his lover the side that he only showed his brother. Now Shota realized what it was that had changed Ryo. The thing that had made him love Maruyama.
Finally, he heard movement outside of his door. He got to his feet. He would fight these people, his determination even stronger now that they had Maruyama. He would never, ever give into them.
The door opened. Maruyama came into the room. His face bruised. He looked determined. Gone was the silly clown that most people saw. When his friend was serious everyone had always thought he looked funny and laughed at him. But Shota knew that there was no room for laughter. Not with the black eye that marred Maruyama's face. His lip was also swollen.
"I don't understand. I thought you were a prisoner. They were hurting you." Shota felt helpless.
"I was able to convince the idiots to let me go." He took Shota's hand. "I am going to take you to my grandfather. You have to tell him the truth."
"I'm afraid." Shota confessed.
"I am too, but we have to be strong." Maruyama told him.
Maruyama took Shota to his grandfather's office. Shota didn't really want to go, but he didn't have a choice. His friend was convinced that they would both be let free if only they could talk to Maruyama-san.
"Why have you brought him here?" The grandfather glared at Shota.
"I want you to question him." Maruyama suddenly looked very afraid.
"I have others that do that."
"Please grandfather, question him. If after hearing his story you decide he has to die, and then kill me too." Maruyama said in a rush. "I know I am an idiot, but please trust me with this."
"Sit down," Maruyama-san gestured to two chairs.
Shota sat down, Maruyama sat beside him.
"Is it true that your father is a member of the Yakazuka?" the older man asked.
"My biological father is." Shota admitted.
"Tell me, what is your father's house like?" the grandfather asked.
"It's very large." Shota said honestly. "My biological father has a great number of servants."
"Did you have your own bedroom?"
"I never lived at my father's house." He told Maruyama-san. "I'm the son of one of his mistresses. My mother left him when she found out she was pregnant with me and then she married the man I think of as my father."
"How many times did you meet your father?"
"I had to visit him almost every weekend." Shota said truthfully.
"Are you close to your father's side of the family?"
"I was only close to Ryo." Shota admitted. "He had to put up with me. Every weekend I shared his room. He never minded. I was simply the bastard son to my father. But to Ryo, I was his brother."
"You miss your brother." Maruyama-sama said.
"It's been hard without him." he admitted.
"What do you want to do with your life?"
"Play music, perform." Shota said. "My real father, the one that raised me is a musician. He taught me to love music. I would like to be like him."
"Have you ever killed anyone?"
"Never." Shota said firmly. "How could I kill someone? I'm not god, I don't have that right."
"What are your feelings for my grandson?" The older man looked at Maruyama.
Shota looked at Maruyama. His friend nodded. Shota turned back to Maruyama-san. "I love him."
"What could I do to make you give him up?" the older man asked. "What if I gave you money?"
"I wouldn't do it." Shota said firmly. "I love Ryuhei. I don't care what you do to me, what you give me. I won't give him up!"
"Take him to your quarters Ryuhei." Maruyama-san ordered. "I must talk to your grandmother about this."
They returned to the bed and breakfast. Maruyama took Shota to his room and locked the door. Shota wasn't too sure if he was safe in this room. But he had Maruyama with him.
"I'm sorry I lied to you," Shota told him. "I know you'll...."
Maruyama went to him, touching him gently on the shoulder. "You didn't lie. I understand why you didn't tell me."
"I should have told you Ryo was my brother. We could have mourned together."
"Ryo wouldn't have wanted us to mourn." Maruyama told him. "We both know that."
"But still, the pain is there." Shota realized. "The pain will always live in your heart. You can't love me the same way you love Ryo."
"My feelings for you are different then my feelings for Ryo." Maruyama looked away from him. "Ryo and I got together after Uchi dumped him. He was my first love. But he had been hurt, and it took him a long time to learn to trust me. With us...."
"You are the one that was hurt." Shota finished for him.
"You are so pure, so gentle." Maruyama turned back to him. "So very different, but there is something about you that reminds me of Ryo."
"I don't want to be a replacement for Ryo."
"You're not a replacement." Maruyama promised. "Never, ever think of yourself that way. I love you for you. Because you make me feel alive again for the first time in a very long time."
Maruyama kissed him. The kiss so gentle, so pure. A kiss that promised more then just friendship. But it had been two days since Shota had been taken captive. He wanted to be fresh for his lover.
Shota pulled away from the taller man, who looked at him confused. "Is something wrong?”
"Do you mind if we take a shower?" Shota asked. "I want to be fresh for you."
Maruyama looked at him strangely for just a moment. A fleeting look that soon left his face. "Would you mind if I took the first shower?"
""All right," Shota smiled at him.
Maruyama was the first to take a shower. He waited for Shota on his bed, wearing only a robe. He wasn't sure what would happen once Shota came out of the bathroom. It was so much like Ryo. His former lover had always insisted they shower before they loved. Maruyama put a tube of lube in his robe's pocket just in case.
He should have realized that Shota was Ryo's brother. There was something about him that made him so much like Ryo. It wasn't their looks, but something that Maruyama could see when they were alone together. The innocence, the vulnerability that Ryo only showed Maruyama was also a part of Shota.
Shota came out of the bathroom; he wore a towel around his waist. His hair damp from the shower. Maruyama couldn't help but watch him. His bruised muscles were a turn on. He loved Shota, really loved him.
"What are you thinking of?" Shota asked him.
"How gorgeous you are." Maruyama admitted. "How much I love you."
Shota walked to Maruyama. He kissed his friend's lips gently. "I love you too."
With a flick, the towel was discarded. Shota pulled Maruyama down to the bed, kissing his lips hungrily. The smaller man untied Maruyama's robe, forcing it over his shoulders until soon he was nude too. Then they were kissing again, their nude bodies crushed against the other. Shota's fingers seemed to be everywhere. Trying to quickly memorize the taller mans' body.
That was another way that Shota was like Ryo, he was the dominate one in bed. But Maruyama didn't think of that, all he was thinking of was Shota, his Shota loving him.
Maruyama took the tube of lube out of his pocket, pressing it into his new lover's hand. Then gruffly he said. "Make love to me Sho-Chan."
Their first time, Shota would never have guessed that their first time would be when both faced death. But the truth had changed Maruyama. No longer was he afraid of being hurt. Instead, he was strong, brave. He had to be for his new lover. Shota could die because of him. He had to let his lover know that he loved him.
Shota did know it. But still he was terrified that their time together would be brief. So he made love to Maruyama, letting him know that there was something besides just friendship in his heart.
This might be their only time together. Both knew it. They savored ever touch, every caress. Their two bodies becoming one. It felt so good to be inside of Maruyama. The bass player’s finger nails scraping his back. It was almost like they were meant to be together. Shota wanted the feeling to last forever, but he was only human, and he came. He could feel his lover move beneath him, coming at the same time as he did. Maruyama screamed his name.
Shota knew he should go and get cleaned up, but he couldn't leave Maruyama's arms. They clung together afterwards. The taller man kissing his new lovers lips, promising him that it would be all right.
Still, Shota was afraid. He knew the ways of the yakazuka; he knew that something would happen to the two of them.
"What's wrong?" his lover asked. "Are you still afraid?"
"I don't want to leave you." Shota confessed.
"You won't. You have me." Maruyama kissed him gently.
"I think your grandfather wants to kill me."
"He is going to talk to my grandmother, that's a good sign." The taller man smiled. "It's a very good sign."
"I don't understand why that is a good sign?" Shota asked confused.
"You'll find out about that later." Maruyama took Shota's hand and kissed his fingers. "Right now I just ask that you please trust me."
"I do, I trust you with my life." Shota breathed.
"Then we'll never be parted." Then Maruyama was kissing his new lovers lips yet again. Shota kissed back hungrily, knowing that this would all have to end in tragedy. But still, hoping beyond hope that something wonderful would happen.
It was near dawn. The lovers hadn't fallen asleep yet. Both Maruyama and Shota were worried that someone would come for them and they would be parted forever. Maruyama had stopped talking to Shota. He was terrified that he would say or do something stupid. He kept thinking of one thing, what would happen if his grandfather decided that Shota had to die? He knew that he couldn't live without his friend.
"What are you thinking of?" Shota asked his new lover gently.
Maruyama wasn't sure what he should say. If he told the truth, he might upset Shota. Instead, he ran his fingers across Shota's shoulder, and down his well muscled arm. "It's nothing."
"It's not nothing." Shota told him. "I won't laugh, I just want to know."
"I've decided that if my grandfather sentences you to death, that I will die with you." Maruyama confessed.
"No Ryuhei. You can't die." Shota said.
"We would be together in heaven," Maruyama told him. "We would be together forever."
"Killing is wrong. Especially the death of an innocent and you are innocent." Shota insisted. "If I die, I will wait for you. But you must go on. Live your life."
"I mean it." Shota looked into his lovers eyes. "You have to live."
"It just that I can't live with that feeling again." he confessed. "To wake up and no that no one's beside you on the bed. To know that no one will ever be there."
"You won't be alone forever." Shota told him. "You'll find someone else."
"I don't want to find someone else." Tears stung his eyes. "I want you. I only want you. I love you so much."
"I love you too." Shota kissed his lips gently.
Three armed men burst into the room. Maruyuma pulled away from Shota and stood in front of his lover. He was nude, he looked ridiculous but he didn’t care. He had to protect his lover.
"What do you want?" he demanded.
He felt his lover putting something in his hand. Then he hissed. "Put this on!"
Maruyama looked down to it; it was the towel that his lover had been wearing. He put it around his waist. "I said; what do you want?"
"The Head wants to talk to you, both of you." The aid told them.
"Why are you nude?" The third man asked.
"That is none of your business." Maruyama snapped.
"We need fresh clothes." Shota stood up, he was nude. The men's eyes got wide. "I am not going to see the head with dirty clothes."
"There are clothes in the closet." the first man told him.
Shota and Maruyama had to put clothes on in front of the armed men. All the clothes belonged to Maruyama and were too long for the smaller man. Shota found a yukata and put that on.
Questions went through Shota's mind. If Maruyama's grandfather was the chief, who was the head? Was it the same person? He couldn't ask his lover, because the armed guards stopped them from talking.
Shota was shoved into a room. He was pushed to a small table.
"Sit down!" the guard ordered.
Shota sat in front of the small table. He could hear noises behind him. Maruyama had been forced to sit away from Shota. That was when he realized that this head person wanted to speak to him and not to Maruyama.
Shota turned back to look at Maruyama, and was hit for doing that. So he turned, facing the table.
An elderly woman came into the room. She was wearing a formal kimono. She sat down at the table and looked through a folder. Was this the head? This old lady? Shota had met her before. The sweet old lady who had come to their early v vest performances. The one that bore a striking resemblance to Maruyama.
"So you are Yasuda-kun," Maruyama's grandmother said.
"Yes Ma'am." Shota answered, even though he had met her many times in the past.
"Why have you been injured?" The woman demanded.
"Injured?" he repeated.
“You’ve been beaten.”
"Grandfathers' men tortured him." Maruyama told her.
"Hush Ryuhei!" His grandmother snapped. "I am talking to our guest."
“I’m sorry,” the bass player quickly said.
She turned back to Shota. "My husband's men sometimes become over eager in their methods." She tried to explain. "I am sorry you had to go through it."
Shota was surprised to be apologized to. "There is no need to apologize."
"If you tell me who the men are, I will make sure they are punished." She promised.
"I would ask that you only punish those who hurt Ryuhei.” Shota said, thinking of the abuse that Maruyama had to go through “He was hurt because of me."
"It will be done." She told him. "I looked over your file; I strongly disagree with my husband's belief that you are dangerous."
"Your brothers on the other hand I believe to be very dangerous." She said.
"My brother's dead." he told her. "I only have one older sister."
"Your half brothers." She corrected. "Your father has other children; he had two other families in Tokyo. Two of your brothers are members of the Johnny's agency. They belong to a rival group."
"A rival group?" Shota repeated.
Do you want to know who they are?"
"It doesn't matter," Shota said. "I don't consider my biological father's children my family."
"I’m glad about that. But you still have to be careful." She pushed an envelope towards him. "Your brothers might want you to join their family. For your own safety, you need to find out who they are."
"Perhaps later," Shota took the envelope and tucked it into his yukata. "The life of my biological father isn't my life."
"I understand that." she said. "I contacted your father about you. Your father is demanding a price for you. I am willing to pay it."
"A price?" Shota felt sick to his stomach. His father was willing to sell him.
"We give your biological father thirty million yen, and he forgets about you."
"Can it be that simple? He asked himself.
"We can't be sure, but it will be paid." She looked past him to the man sitting behind him. "Ryuhei is my favorite grand child. I will do anything to make him happy."
"You're not going to kill me?" Shota asked surprised.
"That wouldn't make Ryuhei happy." she smiled.
"Will I have to join your family?" Shota asked.
"Not in the way that you think." the old woman said. "Your path is a different one then your fathers. Your path lies in the art of music, not the yakazuka."
"Thank you for understanding."
"I called your agency and arranged for the two of you to have a week off." She told him. "Why don't you spend it here? That way I can get to know you better."
"Thank you," he looked down. "Are you going to make Ryuhei return to the family?"
"Ryuhei will always be my grandson." She told him. "But the life of a trained killer isn't one for Ryuhei. He is so much like his father that way. I do not have the heart to force him to be something he's not. That's why when he ran away to join the Johnny's I let him."
"You let him? Shota asked.
"Of course, this is my family." The woman told him. "I let my husband be my figurehead. It's expected for the yakazuka head to be a man, but with this family I am the head."
Maruyama Ryuhei woke. For the first time in a very long time it wasn't like it had been. He was no longer alone. The other side of the bed wasn't empty. He knew it before he even looked. He could feel the small body pressed against him. It was like before, but the scent was different. The body wasn't the one that he had loved in the past. It was a new love.
It had been so long, so very long. Almost an eternity since Maruyama woke beside someone who loved him. He looked to the window. There was a strange yellow bird watching them. It was the bird that had been at the cemetery. Before, Maruyama hadn't believed it was Ryo. But now he did.
"Ryo, I promise I'll take care of Shota for you." Maruyama told the bird.
*Idiot, I want him to take care of you for Me.* the bird said in his mind.
"I don't understand."
*I thought I would be able to watch over you forever, but it's time for me to go to heaven.* the bird said. *The two people I care for most have each other now. He will take care of you. You'll never have to wake up alone again.*
"I still love you." Maruyama said.
*I still love you.* the bird said seriously. "You must let me sleep in your mind. You’ll care for him, and he'll care for you.*
"I wish you could stay." The taller man said. “Shota would love to talk to you.”
"I can't stay. I must go. Tell him good bye for me. I love you Ryuhei." The bird flew off.
Maruyama woke. It was like it was before. He was in bed, with Shota beside him. But his lover looked at him.
“You were talking in your sleep,” Shota told him.
“I had a dream.” Maruyama tried to explain.
Then Maruyama noticed it. The feather on the ledge. He got out of bed and went to the window. The feather was bright yellow, tinged with black.
"A yellow feather." Shota joined him at the window. "Ryo was here, wasn't he?"
"He wanted to make sure we are all right before he went to heaven." he found himself saying.
"Then he's gone," Shota said sadly. "I'll never see him again."
"Don't think that way." He put his arms around Shota. "He's in a better place now."
Shota kissed Maruyama's lips. Then he pulled away from him and took his hand. "Let's go back to bed."
Maruyama followed his lover to the bed. Shota pulled him down to the bed, making love to him yet again. He was very happy; he knew that he would never be alone, for he had Shota in his life.