Nuki's Note:

This chapter skips around different POVs a lot.

Chapter 17

Beautiful Crimson

The roar of the crowd of people filing into the stands carried backstage, pounding against the door. Behind the set up of instruments and gradient crimson, gold, and violet decorations, people rushed about, shouting and preparing last minute touch ups. This frantic activity, both behind and in front of the stage was rapidly growing habit to the young singer who had only very recently made her stand in the music world.

Fuschida Inari crossed her slender, exposed legs as she continued a staring contest with her reflection in the large mirror on her dresser. On the table before her lay a number of assorted items. There was her new CD, to be released later on tonight. Although her manager didn't like it, she also had a collection of toy race cars off to the side. It brought her great enjoyment to run them off surfaces. However the most dominate objects on the dresser were the overwhelming numbers of tissues.

Inari frowned at her reflection. Although her bright red hair, cropped just above her shoulders as purple streaks ran vertically downwards, looked wonderful and her face kissed with makeup, she felt like crap on the inside. Scratching the skin on her neck did nothing to help. It was the inside of her throat that itched. No amount of tissues, either scattered along the dresser or shoved into the trashcan, could clear up her nose. Other than snot, she was not leaking any bodily fluids, thus she could not cancel the show.

"Eight minutes!" A man called.

Inari gave a roll of her eyes. She had been told that you weren't a real rock star unless you preformed a show with a cold, but it still sucked. The illness had risen two days before, but despite the amount of medicine Inari took, it refused to pass. If anything, today it was at its peak.

"Inari-chan, are you ready?" Her manager, Yumi, appeared at her side.

Yumi was a small, still relatively young woman with beautiful, dark chocolate curls that hung just past her shoulders. As caring as she usually was, with Inari, she often had to be strict and stubborn.

"Ready for more medicine, yes."

"Come now, you and I both know that you just took some. You'll be able to take more after the show." Yumi sighed.

"Aw, really! Why does my longest show have to be when I'm sick?" Inari whined, bringing her head down on the dresser.

"You just have to give it your best. I'm sure you'll be fine once you get into it." Yumi encouraged. Her smile broke when she threw a hasty glance at the clock on the wall.

"But my nose is stopped up and I'm going to be singing. I can't breathe through my mouth, or my nose. What if I die on stage?"

"A lot of other singers have preformed even sicker than you, so I'm sure--." Yumi was cut off when Inari continued to rant.

"I should have been a photographer like my dad said. I could make tons of money just by sticking my cat in the backyard and taking a picture…" Inari continued to complain, mostly to herself now.

Another woman approached Yumi. "Are you all ready? The show is going to start really soon."

Inari wasn't paying attention. She was bent over playing with her toy cars. "Actually when I was a little girl, I wanted to be a porn star. You wouldn't even have to get dressed for work!"

"Yumi-chan, you must have a difficult job." The woman sighed, putting an understanding hand on the manager's shoulder.

"Well Inari-chan might have quite a character backstage, but she really does work hard."

"I. Want. My. Pills." Inari muttered

"Sixty seconds!" Someone called.

"Come on now, it's time to start." Yumi urged, giving the girl a shake.

Inari heaved herself up, stepping slowly but elegantly as she made her way out. She paused, just yards away from the stage.

"Yumi-san, how many people are here tonight?"

"Oh goodness, Inari-chan! Can't you ever bring this up sometime other time than right before you perform?" Yumi gasped, immediately recognizing the path of the conversation.

"What are the odds…do you think…of Nashii being here tonight?" Inari continued.

"I don't understand why you spend so much time trying to find your old babysitter whom you haven't seen in years. Can't we talk about this after the concert?" Yumi begged as her eyes darted to the clock.

"She wasn't just my babysitter, she was my best friend." Inari defended. She paused, realizing that her old role model probably would have contacted her if she still cared. "At least…I thought she was."

"Inari-chan, we'll discuss this later, I promise." Yumi pleaded.

With a sigh, the younger girl cleared her mind, tightened her clenched fist and raised her head as she strut out on stage.

Ayaka met Reika with Satsuki right outside the stadium. The three didn't spend too much time greeting each other; they hurriedly made their way into the stadium for their seats. Inside was loud and bright. The stage was painted in Inari's signature colors, crimson, gold, and violet. There was a large screen above the instruments. Ayaka assumed it would begin the countdown when ten or five minutes remained until the show. Once sitting down, Satsuki left for snacks, giving the other two girls a moment to catch up.

"I won't ask unnecessary questions. Now really isn't the time for it. But I would like to sit down with you in the future and…talk." Reika explained.

"Sure thing." Ayaka agreed. She was thankful that she wouldn't have to talk about it here. Right now, she wanted to focus on Inari. Ayaka suspected Reika would want to hear the whole story. Some how the thought of explaining it…just made Ayaka feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it was the part of her that wanted to forget everything up until that one night.

"And just to clear up, your cast…it's a result of…?"

Ayaka nodded. She had nearly forgotten about her broken wrist. At first it felt weird walking around with this big piece of protection clinging to her, but time progressed and she had learned to live with it.

Satsuki returned not long after with drinks and food. She was the one who did most of the talking after that. Neither Reika nor Ayaka had a chance of getting more than a few words in when Satsuki began going on about the people at the school. She had been in the middle of a rather heated rant about a snobby girl until the lights all around cut off.

Now the only light in the stadium came from the large screen over the setup. Sure enough, a five minute countdown had begun. The crowd cheered anxiously as each second ticked by and an announcer echoed through the stands, welcoming the people. After a set of instructions, the clock was reaching its last minute. The girls joined the rest of the crowd in counting down.

Every light in the stadium died down as soon as the counter hit '00'. If it weren't for the deafening cheering and screaming, there would have been dead silence.

In unison, the stage blew into a bright red light and a familiar tune from the instruments. Fuschida Inari emerged out of a thick smoke that spread throughout the stands. Her eyes were focused now. The high maintenance girl she had been backstage was gone, replaced with a serious female. A bright purple guitar was strapped to her back, but for the time she did not touch it. She grabbed the microphone and tore out into lyrics that rose above the thunderous crowd.

The air away from the concert stadium, circulating over the neighborhood was still and quiet as the moon made its climb into the sky while the sun made its set. With October approaching its middle, each fall day got slightly cooler. The nights became chilly, on the verge of cold.

Ryo was not going to go to the trouble of putting a stupid shirt on. He simply turned the heaters up. At first his goal in mind was to bug Natasha, but the warmth that settled in the house made him sluggish. So instead he trudged downstairs, taking a seat on the couch as he flicked the TV on. But he did not pay attention to the screen. His mind was completely elsewhere.

He thought of his family history and he thought of his own history. He thought of his sons, each idling about the house, bored now that Ayaka was away. How long would she last? Although kinder than most, Ayaka was still very visibly human. Being a human, being a young girl, how would she handle it? Everything. There was so much she didn't know. There was so much to come that would test her mental stability. With Ryo's family past and his sons, certainly in time she'd be pushed to or past her mental limits.

He didn't like to think about it, but the thought forced its way into his mind. What would he do if one of them fell in love with her? Ayaka didn't know anything about the 'love' history of the Komatsu past yet. Out of the three categories, the love one without doubt was the most confusing and harsh. There was no way his sons deserved her or anyone at all. Despite their family name and past, they didn't deserve it. But if one of them did fall in love…the only way to forbid it would be to…

"Damn." Ryo growled as he desperately tried to push away that thought.

He replaced it with another issue that came to his mind. There was one thing Ayaka would have to get past. If the boys sat down and told her…she might be able to handle it. But if they waited too long, like they probably would, and if she had to find out the hard way, that would definitely shake up her sanity for a while. As upsetting as the idea was, those idiots probably weren't brave enough to tell her yet. More than likely they would just put it off and off until their anger broke.

Natasha knew. She hadn't taken it too well, but she progressively seemed to be accepting the fact. As long as Ryo made sure to tell her on a daily basis that Ayaka would be completely fine, she was getting along. But god, what a lie that was.

He had no idea if Ayaka would really be fine. Although he did doubt that the boys would ever hurt her, purposely, really it all depended on Ayaka's mental stability. The maximum amount of emotional and mental stress that she could handle would play the factors as to whether or not she would really be 'okay'.

Sure, Ryo had lied, but he didn't care. Natasha was just a person. Ayaka was just a person. He enjoyed their company more than most others, but in the end, would he hurt or use them if needed? Of course. He wouldn't think twice about it. If it meant his happiness in the end, he'd do anything. And who was going to stop him? The Komatsu bloodline was already a very powerful family in the business and social world, but his particular family, his parents and siblings, just so happened to be at the top of the top.

"Do you want something?" The man growled when his train of thought crashed at the sight of Akashi in the corner of his eye.

The boy glowered, but said nothing. This only irritated his father more.

"Go away. I'm too tired to beat your ass."

Akashi remained annoyingly silent. He was asking for it. God was he ever lucky. If the heat hadn't made Ryo's body so relaxed, that kid would definitely be slammed into some expensive glass right now.

"If you're going to stand there like scum, then answer this. When are you going to tell her?" Ryo tried hitting where he knew it would hurt.

And it worked. Akashi expression flashed to horror before morphing back into rage. Although he did not verbally reply, he was trembling now.

"Now might be too early, but after a while…the more you wait, the harder it will be for her to bear it. Especially if you wait too long and she's forced to witness it herself. Who knows? She might not be able to handle it…"

"SHUT UP!" Akashi shrieked.

What an idiot, denying it just like that. Ryo gave a roll of his eyes as he heaved himself up and over to his son.

"Don't yell at me just because you can't handle your own personal issues. It's not my fault you were born an asshole." He snapped, kneeing Akashi in the stomach before walking away.

"You made me this way." Akashi choked back.

Ryo froze. Although he considered the statement, he already had his defense in mind.

"You made me make you this way."

Ever since Ayaka had left with Satsuki and her parents to go to the concert, Natasha had been sulking on her bed, surrounded in pillows and squeezing an assortment of stuffed animals. She was trying not to pout, but continued to slip up. Occasionally she kicked her legs in frustration as her mind raced.

She had known. She had known for a long time. From the first day Ayaka began school, Natasha had known she couldn't keep Ayaka to herself forever. She couldn't expect her daughter to spend every moment away from school with her. Natasha was spoiled from the past where she and Ayaka would do everything together. But things were changing now. They weren't in their old, small town where everyone knew everyone. Natasha wouldn't be able to follow when Ayaka went over to a friend's house.

The friend part was actually okay. Natasha didn't mind her daughter going to sleepovers or getting together with girls. It was the boys. She didn't like the idea of her interacting with boys, especially not with boys from the Komatsu bloodline. And of all members of the Komatsu family to pick…it had to be Ryo's sons. Even now, a month later, Natasha still couldn't get over the disgust that filled her when she thought of how those thirteen years had gone down the drain. She needed to find more female friends. There was no way in hell she was going to revert back to the old days of spending her time with those three…

As much as she knew she had to accept it, Natasha didn't like the thought of sharing Ayaka. On top of being Ryo's sons, there was that one characteristic about them, the thing that Ryo had told her around a week or two ago. To think her daughter would be around people like that…it made her nervous. The only positive side she could see to those boys was the fact they lacked in the hormone levels their father had. So at least she wouldn't have to completely worry.

Although they were all thinking different things, the boys, their father, and Natasha all had their minds working hard on pressing matters. Each worried and curious about the future, wondering about the events that would play out as time passed.

"I'm screaming from the heart of a riot. Try hard, strain your eyes, can you see me?

I'll prove myself, I'll be heard. Like these people around me, I'm looking to make a stand.

The heart, I'm screaming from the very heart of a riot. Do you hear me? Can you see me?

You can turn the TV off, but I'm here to make my stand…"

Inari did get very 'into it' when she was performing. If her fingers weren't scratching away at the guitar, she held the microphone close to her mouth and body as if it were an item crucial for survival.

Her part in lyrics came to a short end and she was allowed a moment's breathing while she waited for the song's beat to die. The lights focused on her and the band blinded her, but she could hear the crowd cheering and roaring. It brought a rush through her, pushing her into the next song.

She went through several songs in the next hour. After finishing one of her personal favorites, You Can't Catch Me, she knew the concert would be ending soon. A part of her didn't want it to. She wanted to stay on the stage forever, releasing song after song from her tongue into the eager crowd. But things weren't that way. Things were never the way you just wanted it. Inari kept that in mind as she began the next song, thinking of her old friend, the one she was desperate to locate one day.

They were still there, no matter how much he scratched. They wouldn't go away. She wanted them to go away. If she wanted them to go away, then he wanted them to go away too. But they wouldn't.

Kaito had been laid out on his bed, gloves to the side as his eyes fixed on his wrists. He thought of how easy it was to bring the blade to slice open his skin, allow the blood to pour out. It was so hard to leave the scars as they were. He hadn't touched them since that night around a week ago. She didn't want him to. That other night a little while ago came to play in his head.

He sat with one leg bent and the other pulled in. Most of his weight had shifted to his arms for support. He rested his head on her shoulder, her very small shoulder. And she had sat there with him for hours rubbing his back. Not once had she tried to move. But there was a point in time when she did speak.

"Kaito-kun, what's the matter?" She had asked. "…Why are you crying?"

He hadn't given an answer. For a while, the two allowed silence to pass over them. He felt so weak. Never before had he felt as useless and breakable as when he was leaning on her shoulder, permitting liquid to run from his eyes.

"Does it hurt?" She had asked sometime later, brushing his gloves with her small fingers.

Of course it hurt. It hurt like hell. Every part of his body hurt like hell. Oh, but she had only been referring to his wrists and his physical pain.

"If you would just let them heal…" She continued softly.

It was an indirect request: stop cutting yourself. He'd try. If it would please her, he'd try. More than likely he would fail or require her help. After all, the feeling of the blade pricking through the layers of his skin, the sight of the blood as it dripped like rain from his wounds, was far too addicting. It would be hard; it would be very, very hard…

He now blamed her absence. She was gone for the night, so it was her fault. But his skin longed for the knife kept away somewhere in one of his drawers. It was like putting a recovering alcoholic with a bottle of alcohol and expecting them to resist. One prick. Surely she would forgive just one little prick. Just one little scratch and a few droplets of blood…

One little scratch became one more, and one more, and another. Utterly disgusted with himself, Kaito rolled back onto his bed. His eyes shifted from the stained knife on the floor to his arms with gashes oozing the crimson liquid. He felt dirty and good at the same time. And for the rest of the night, he watched the blood drip from his new cuts, hoping she wouldn't be too mad.

"Thank you for coming tonight." Inari spoke into the microphone, trying hard to keep her breathing steady.

The crowd screamed and howled in response. The young star smiled widely and continued.

"On your way out, we'll have staff handing out CDs. Please take one, and thanks for your support. Everyone had fun tonight, right?"

The yells and roars of excitement provided the last bit of energy Inari needed. She turned her guitar over to her front and placed her fingers in the correct positions.

"We want to end on a high note. I think only a few of you will recognize this song. It hasn't been at the top of the charts for that long, only since I began my career."

Ayaka's smile stretched when the familiar dark tune of 'Beautiful Crimson' came into play. Anyone who called themselves a fan of Inari knew this song. It was the one that had launched her into the music world with unrivaled force. The crowd cheered louder now than ever before. The stage fell into a lighting of dark purple. Flames burst behind the band when Inari began the lyrics.

"Continuing on my way down the street

I know you're there, behind those walls

I can't ignore you, you're haunting me

And I don't know why…"

Ayaka closed her eyes, taking in every event that had taken place within the past month or so. Somehow listening to Inari's music, she didn't mind going back to the earlier, more painful days. It allowed her to focus on the progress she had made. And it brought an unfamiliar feeling of her, something in between thrill and anxiety.

"I reach to you, you reach for me

Somewhere, someway we got the math right

Does it matter anymore?

Despite the pain, we've pulled through

Is the answer in our blood?

Pay attention as it drips…

Don't try to feed me your excuses, I can see through your façade

Stop lying to yourself and open your eyes

Can't you see the connection we've made?

Look closely, don't you dare try to evade the answer"

It was a silly dream, but Ayaka wanted to meet Inari. The odds of that happening were slim, but it had been something she had imagined when she had first heard the song. Inari seemed like such a strong girl. She didn't act like a rock star. One day on the news, Inari had run out into a public park and began dancing and singing for a young girl's birthday party.

Onstage she was very serious, but behind the scenes, she seemed like such a fun person. In fact there were traits in her personality that reminded Ayaka of Natasha. Both refused to act their age.

"I reach to you, you reach for me

Somewhere, someway we got the math right

Does it matter anymore?

Despite the pain, we've pulled through

Is the answer in our blood?

Pay attention as it drips…"

Secretly, Ayaka wanted to sing with Inari. She doubted her ability to do so, should she ever be able to meet the girl, but it was a part of her wish. Not even her mother knew. But for now, she softly sang along with the concert, and most of the crowd.

"More and more and more I watched you suffer

Harder and harder and harder I saw you fall

And now as the beautiful crimson falls from your body

As you lay defeated and hopeless

Will you listen? Will you finally hear what I have to say?

"I reach to you, you reach for me

Somewhere, someway we got the math right

Does it matter anymore?

Does it matter anymore?

Does it matter anymore?

Despite the pain, we've pulled through

Is the answer to this in our blood?

Pay attention as it drips…"

The crowd shouted and cheered in protest as the song came to an end. The magical night was over. People would go home back to their lives. Tomorrow would continue like any other day. But for now, everyone just celebrated. Inari could not stop the grin that curved her lips. There wasn't a sound more melodic to her than hearing her fans. She was experiencing something that most people don't even dream of, and she knew it. Heart racing and body tingling from the excitement that carried in the stadium, Inari stepped forward. She offered a word of thanks into the microphone and then took a bow.

No matter the location, whether it be at the stadium, in the neighborhood, or in a different area, the moon rose that night. A white light shining in the midst of a dark, vast sky, the moon rested above Japan, holding secrets only to be revealed as time rolled on.

Somewhere in a different neighborhood, a different town, she is there. She stands in a room free of any lighting other than the small gap that comes from her fingers pulling away the corner of a dark curtain. She stands still as a beautiful doll. Her legs, exposed as the black and white frills of her dress do little to cover them, are stiff and together. She uses her free hand to brush a perfect strawberry-blonde curl from her face. She stares through the clear glass, eyes exploring everything from the road to the moon. Trouble overwhelms her, preventing her from enjoying this beautiful autumn night.

In this world, tarnished with sorrow and soaked in the corrupted blood that flows through human veins, there is pain. I have seen the suffering of others ever since I was born. These people I have never met, but their mistakes are planted into my memories and sewn into my dreams. I cannot escape this, my vision that leaks into their horrendous and grief-stricken lives. God has ordered me to do this. I will continue to watch their suffering until He rewards me for my efforts.

Go ahead, laugh at me. Why am I seeking a reward that I might never receive? Why am I peering into the difficult lives of strangers? Why was I the only one given this ability? Don't ask me, I have no idea. For now, I can only continue to do what I do, and pray that God will indeed one day place the thing I seek within my reach.

Her brows narrow. She can see it. Diagonally across the street, she spots a female running through the door with her hands in her face. A man appears in the doorway, screaming and cursing after her. He chases her for a distance and then staggers back inside. She frowns at this scene. She frowns at the world.

This Earth is truly a disgusting place. And how did humans, the most vile and revolting creatures on the face of the planet, come to rule it? Anyone who wishes or believes in world peace is a fool. Human beings are far too corrupted to ever achieve anything so beautiful. Mankind is too ruthless to ever agree. We bring nothing but pain into this world. We take and we do not give back. We all deserve to die. There isn't a person alive who doesn't deserve to die. Our selfishness is out downfall. It is the reason we are all doomed to a life of emptiness and agony.

Her will is weakening. She allows a little bit of the gap to close, however her face still oversees the night. Her eyelids fall over her emerald green eyes. After time passes, she opens her eyes. The scene before her had not changed.

I talk negatively, but in the back of my mind, I still hope for it. Despite the pessimistic words I often speak, I do believe that life is very similar to the night sky. I believe that in the middle of our misery and trials, there is a light. Somewhere far in the distance I know there is happiness. We are all condemned to thorny lives, but at one point or another, before our death, we experience true bliss.

Do you not believe me? I understand … it is hard to imagine that even those who find themselves in a sea of blood and sin can also find their happiness. There certainly are different levels of torment in this world. I know. I've seen the difference between the people in my visions and dreams, and those I see around me every day. The distinction is extreme. But even those like them…even the people in my visions…will one day find peace.

I'll prove it to you.

She gives a shake of her head. Her fingers release the curtain, letting it fall to cover her face from the window.

"I'll definitely prove it."

Nuki's Note:

Firstly, thank you to all who read, reviewed, and supported Headset. Had it not been for the encouragement I've received here and on GW, I might not have finished this re-write. On my Word document, this story reached 112 pages, which was even longer than the original Part 1. That one only had 107 pages. I hope you enjoyed the story. More so, I hope you're ready for more.

This is not an ending. Headset is going to continue as a story with a total of 3 or 4 parts (I'm still debating about whether to go with four, or end it at three). Part 2 is well on it's way. Because I'm just strange like that, here is a preview of Part 2. It's pretty cheesy, trust me it was a lot cooler in my head, but um...hopefully it will build excitement for the next part. I'm too afraid to give away any assumed dates as to when it should be up, because there are several things I want to do before starting it, but I'm pretty confident in saying that the wait shouldn't be over a month.

Once again, thank you all for support. I'm am a happy camper :D



There are bad things in this world. There are scary things. You can deny it all you want, but they won't go away. You can counter it by saying that there are also good things, but they don't make the bad things vanish. If there is something bad about yourself, you can hide it. You can hide it for a very long time, but it won't stay hidden forever. At one point or another, that bad thing will be revealed. It doesn't matter what you say or do. There are bad things in this world, and you cannot escape them.

She paused in front of the TV screen. A news reporter was spilling information regarding the headline that scrolled across the screen.

"Early this evening, two young students were reported missing. Officials believe an escaped criminal is behind their absence."

Ryo glared out the window, visibly and inwardly fuming. "They never told her…did they?"

"Are you okay?" Ayaka squeaked as each shaky step took her one step closer to the boy.

There they were again…those eyes. Those distorted, disturbing eyes…

Perhaps the issue lies not with yourself. How would you handle a friend who does bad things? What would you do? What if you couldn't do anything? What if you could only watch? Are you good at handling horror movies?

"Her name is Miyake Momoko. She was expelled from her old school when she told a boy he would die, and a week later, he was killed in a car accident. But she couldn't be put on trial for murder because there was no evidence that she had actually had any part in his death."

Ayaka's voice came in a high whisper. She was surprised she could even talk, it felt as if two hands were choking her, digging nails into her throat. "What do you mean Azami is here now?"

She backed him up into a corner, taking her turn with the dead look in her eye. "I want you to love me. Value me. Make me the most important thing. Die. For. Me."

Don't ever assume you know everything about another person. You don't know what they're thinking. You can't get into their mind. Human beings are so unpredictable. You might just be caught off guard when the one you care for most…falls into the category of being someone who does 'bad things'.

Inari rolled her eyes at the rebuttal. "Fine, it's true you can't always trust others, but…" she paused, lips curling into a smile satisfied with her words. "Sometimes you just don't have to."

"I didn't always hate them. They did something I could never forgive, a long time ago" Ryo whispered into her ear, each word enunciated greatly.

"You don't understand what Azami's side of the family will do to Mom if they think we killed her." Ayaka begged. Her voice broke at least twice.

"What are those?"

"They're drugs. Most of them were confiscated from foreign countries by the United States. But they ruled them as cruel and unusual punishment, or torture. So they were sent to the Japanese scientists for studying."

Where does one draw the line between forgivable and unforgivable sins? Where does one draw the line between sanity and insanity? How far are you prepared to let the go before you put your foot down? How much damage will you allow them to cause?

"Before this evening is over, four people will die."

Ryo shrugged, averting his glance through the glass. "There's one thing in this world more dangerous than fear…and that's anger."

"It's going to hurt." Momoko warned, gradually losing the fight against tears with each inhale.

People are dangerous creatures.

"We can't avoid this."

Everyone is born with mental instability to some degree.

"It's going to be painful."

Some just tend to crack easier than others.

"It's going to hurt….SO badly…"

Headset Part 2: Hemophobia.