A/N: Beware of slight Haruka Nanami bashing. If you'd read Alone and Sick No More, you'll understand it's not just your stereotypical character bashing. Also, if you're not a fan of Tokiya/Haruka pairing, you may want to take off your shipping goggles for now.
You shouldn't give up rock.
Footsteps echoed on his ears, Ranmaru walking to a secluded place he was asked to come. It was late at night, the street lamps illuminating his path. Those words were etched on the back of his head.
Believe in yourself, Ranmaru. Trust me, I'd been in your shoes.
She clearly had, and that was why he followed the direction on the note he received from her. His mind drifted back on the moment that made him think.
It was the right decision to wake her up after suffering from an unpleasant dream, the nightmare of his past still haunting him after all these years. Haruka was approaching him, probably to help him calm down, but he didn't want her to know. She was STARISH's song composer, and she was still too young to understand how his life went. Sure, she was already seventeen, but her mind wasn't mature enough to handle these kind of things. Besides, it always gave him the creeps when the guys where head over heels on her. What scared him more was that her inability to reject her suitors, accepting their affections without much care about them.
So yes, he wasn't okay with entrusting his secret towards Haruka.
Ranmaru was grateful Soramaru had the ability to wake up as soon as possible, although grumpy majority of the time. When her eyes landed on his face, he knew she sensed what was wrong. The silver-haired man wasn't sure if she also noticed Haruka stopping from her tracks as he dragged her away from the comfort of the makeshift bed, disappearing from the view. Least the young woman wasn't stupid enough to follow them.
Confident that no one would pursue their presence, Ranmaru let go of his hold on her hand. Realizing how her hands were soft under his touch made his heart race, but there was no time for that, he had to spill the beans on her.
Taking a deep breath, Ranmaru faced the confused Soramaru, "Sorry if I disturbed you and then pulled you somewhere. I... I need to get this off from my chest."
She nodded, her bewilderment gone as her face turned serious. She was listening.
Ranmaru didn't know how he started his tale. Everything, he admitted it. The silver-haired man narrated his life; how he expected to take his father's place when he retires, how he missed seeing his younger sibling, how he missed his older sister doting on him, how he missed hanging out with Ren and Masato, being the older figure among them...
"And then..." He didn't realize he was now sitting on the ground, his hands shaky as beads of sweat rolled down from his temples. His vision was blurry, but he could make out her hands on top of his, squeezing it as she brushed her thumb across his palm. It was enough to make him continue, internally grateful that her attention was full, doing her best to calm his nerve.
Ranmaru recalled the times Ayame having a rocky relationship with their mother, who wasn't faring well when it comes to being a proper parent. He wasn't sure why their mother lost her caring nature, but he didn't really thought much about it back then. He was a papa's boy, and had relied on his older sister more, so it wasn't really a huge deal for him. After his father was betrayed and worked himself to debt, he and Ayame wasn't sure how to pay off the remaining debt. It made his older sister leave their home, pursuing her career as an idol to take care of them as well as the debt. Meanwhile, he took a different approach and started his own rock band, but unfortunately everyone left him. No one stayed to help him salvage the band, no one ever did. They always prioritized women, whether they reciprocate their feelings or not. This made him detests their existence, with the exception of his siblings. They had to ruin everything, his father, his band, his life...
Ranmaru recalled a scene from a TV show, the time when Ayame comforted him after recently breaking up with his ex-girlfriend. It was a story of a young woman who was shunned by everyone because she was different: ugly, weird, and prefers rock. Everyone hated her, and she had no one to rely on. But she stayed strong, vowing to keep producing rock to break the stigma. The silver-haired man unfortunately forgot the title nor the face of the character.
With that in mind, he still kept on, collecting various types of bass guitars for himself. It made him happy, it was the company he needed. Strumming his fingers on the strings as he produced a song, it help him heal. Admittingly, that was where his leftover cash was invested, so he never really cared much about polishing his apartment.
Then one day, Ayame introduced him to Saotome Academy to be an idol like her. At first, he thought she was being silly, but he reluctantly accepted the offer. She was about to step down as an idol and work pursue being a solo artist. The beginnings where rough, he wasn't really feeling it and didn't align with his ideals for being a rocker, but he pushed forward. Backing down wasn't in his vocabulary. Fast forward, he graduated, being one of the best students and was assigned to work with Reiji, Ai and Camus and form the idol group QUARTET NIGHT.
Life had been okay for the most part, but even with that the nightmare never ceased. His past was still holding him back. With his love for rock connected with the damned memories inside his head, the only way to move on was to let it go. Give up his dream as a rocker, forsake the carved memory of the young woman who pursued her dream no matter what. It was also for the sake of QUARTET NIGHT. He could fully embrace being a part of QUARTET NIGHT that way.
Soramaru's hands retreated from his hands, and the next thing he knew, he felt a stinging sensation from his right cheek.
"What the hell was that for, Sora-?!" He stopped mid-sentence.
"You really are stupid..." She muttered under her breath, her face obscured from his view. "Giving up a part of yourself for the sake of others, and you think that'll help you heal? Child's play!"
When she glanced up at him, his heart skipped a beat. She wasn't angry, she was sad. The raven-haired woman was shedding tears for him.
"Do you honestly believe giving up is the right decision? Giving yourself to the world will end it all...?"
"I... I was just..." Ranmaru had no definite answer.
She was right. If he gave up rock... what then? Would he actually move on, or it would make things worse? What about him? His passion for rock? His bass guitar collections?
"Why are you here?! Why did you loved rock?! Why did you love bass?! Why were you born?!" She took a deep breath, and calmed down. She knelt down in front of him, her face getting softer, "You were searching for the light... The brightness at the end of the tunnel." She reached up and cupped his right cheek, "But you lacked conviction. You were just going along with the flow, never caring for yourself..."
His breath was caught in his throat. "Soramaru..."
"You shouldn't give up rock," Her thumb tenderly caressed his cheek, "Believe in yourself, Ranmaru. Trust me, I'd been in your shoes." She slipped out a bittersweet smile, "You shouldn't sacrifice your passion for the sake of others. Endure whatever pain you may face. Fight the obstacle you'll meet, even if they see you as a pathetic loser, even if they find your ideals weird, even if you're broken inside... That's what being a human is about."
He reached up and placed his palm atop her hand, but he wasn't able to feel her radiating warmth as she pulled her hand away. It crushed him, but he didn't show it. They were just friends, after all, he didn't want to make things worse right now.
The raven-haired woman rose from the ground, extending her hand in front of him. "Accepting this hand means you'll come along with me tomorrow night... To help you find the spark of your passion again. Refusing it... You'll have to find your answer alone."
Ranmaru didn't had any second thoughts on taking her hand as she helped him stand up. "I need you, Soramaru. Help me fend of this unending nightmare of mine." He took hold of her hands, baffling the raven-haired woman, flushing her cheeks with a scarlet hue, "We'd been friends for a long time now. Honestly, you can read me like a book by now," He couldn't help but flash a grin, "So I know that you can help me. The words you'd said... it made me ponder about why I was even planning to give myself up. Thank you." He squeezed her hands, "Thank you for always being there by my side..." He slightly bowed his head, "And sorry if I dragged you along in this mess."
It had been many months, but he knew confessing right now wasn't the right choice. His emotions were spiraling out of control, but feeling her warmth on his hands helped him stabilize himself and stopped adding more weight of worry on her face.
Soramaru released a deep breath, and slowly retracted her hands away from him. She dug up a scrap of paper on her pants pocket and held it out for him, "Here. Tomorrow, meet me there."
Ranmaru took it and scanned the content. A direction for an open field, huh. He wondered what was she planning to do.
"We should head back." She coiled her fingers around his wrist, tugging it to pull him along, "Everyone's going to wonder what we're doing late at night, and I don't want them getting their mind on the wrong gutter."
With that, they went back in total silence. They also drifted back to sleep. Ranmaru wished they could had stayed longer, could had cherished more of her warmth, but he was being selfish. He need to control himself, he mustn't ruin his bond with her because he was trying to be more intimate.
Morning came, and it was the usual. Haruka tried to asked him about last night, but he pushed her off. She tried to hand him her composed song, but he refused in a misogynistic nature; he wouldn't sing a song composed by a girl, and by a girl who never know how rock song works. And definitely if said girl somehow had the liberty to write a song for an idol group she wasn't even part of. Reiji accepted her creations, him being the not-so reliable brother figure in his book, especially with how he's treating her like a delicate girl. Haruka herself was too dumb to decide on her own, and rather do things for everyone, including Soramaru, much to the actress's dismay.
Ranmaru steered himself away from her as possible, since Soramaru herself was occupied with her project on the morning. Reiji wasn't pleased with his attitude towards the composer, calling him out for being rude, but he couldn't care less.
"Just because she's a composer doesn't mean I have to treat her like a godly being."
This surprised everyone in the room, especially Haruka. She was on the verge of tears, and he was sure that came from being hurt by him.
"She has the skills of a composer, but she lacks the soul I'm looking for as a rocker. I rather get a song composed by Soramaru than her; at least she knows her standards."
That was his last words before he left the room. He couldn't stand it anymore, he was beyond pissed. Reiji commented about his biased towards the actress, remarking about how he treats Soramaru like a "godly" being. Ren tried to cut him off, but it was too late. Ranmaru almost landed a blow on him if it wasn't for Masato seizing his arms behind his back, doing his best to calm him down. The others didn't know what to do but to stare in shock and fear. Hell, even Camus got cat in his tongue; no snarky remarks escaping his throat.
Ranmaru broke free from Masato's grasps, shooting him with a glare. He glanced at Reiji and his scowl deepened; he was just too nice to everyone. He suspected he's also smitten with Haruka, which ticks him off. In order to simmer down his rage, he decided to leave the room in silence, careful on not slamming the door behind him. He needed some fresh air to breath, and then wait for the right time to find her. He pondered on his violent reaction, quickly regretting being a dickhead to everyone, but he couldn't help it: they were stepping on the wrong boundary, especially Reiji when he used his own words against him.
Ranmaru took a deep breath. Tokiya was out with Soramaru, and he wished he was on his place instead. They were about to shoot a scene from a TV series, but he forgot what it was about. He would check it out soon. Right now, he needed to calm his nerves and prepare himself for the night. The silver-haired man headed to the greenroom, and sighed. After the talk, reaching up on his bass guitar felt harder than before. He really was ready to give it up, his love for rock... He shook his head, and took hold of his bass guitar. The design wasn't flashy, but it was coated with red hues, just the way he liked it.
Ranmaru plucked his fingers on the chord, testing the strings... and then his hand moved on its own accord. A new rhythm, a new beat... a melody of his feelings. Yes, he felt the familiar spark again. He closed his eyes as his ears focused on the notes strummed on the strings, the passion lost over the years slowly crawling back on his heart.
Ever since he'd became a part of QUARTET NIGHT, he didn't really had any time to spend for his bass guitar. He just buy one, and then let them sit and collect dust for a long while. He did play, but not as he used to before: as part of his fun hobby. He was losing interest the more he thought back about why he was even here. He wanted to ease his sister's burdens and pay the debt himself, but he could only do so much because he needed some expenses for his survivability too.
He finished, the thing he needed to think about was the lyrics to complete his new song. Ranmaru also needed to get back from the group to properly apologize. He may be reactive, but he knew how to say sorry and actually meaning it.
The rest of the day was a blur. They did the usual, he was in good terms with Reiji again. Haruka limited her initiation on conversing with him, letting out a squeak whenever she was about to ask him something or tell him something. Ranmaru was now a big, mean monster in Haruka's eyes.
After the grueling long wait, it was finally time to be dismissed and free to do whatever. Ranmaru went back to his apartment since Soramaru wouldn't be free until later tonight, hence the very late request on the paper. There was nothing to bring but himself. The silver-haired man wanted to dress to impress her, though, a little payment for her kindness. Instead of donning his signature outfit, he went with something more loose, more casual.
He recalled her words, he was the light, and she was the darkness. They were the two sides of the same coin, the ying and the yang. He remembered how she admitted her own nightmare to him, revealing her true self in the process. She was surrounded by darkness, no light shining above her. If he could wear something that had a lighter color, maybe that'll symbolize something for her? He proceeded to wear a tight-fitted red buttoned-up shirt that showed up his well-toned muscles, fully aware when Soramaru's eyes swept on his body. It gave him a sliver of hope that one day she would be interested in him romantically. He donned a black denim jeans that tightly wrapped his legs, and exposing his bottom as much as possible, a thing he lacked.
Ranmaru checked himself out on the mirror, his lips curled into a satisfied smile as it matches his expectations. This should give her hope.
Checking the time, it was still early to go, so he grabbed the closest bass guitar on his side and played the new song he'd created earlier, making the jarring transitions smoother and weaving it to flow more naturally. He still lacked the lyrics though.
Stopping on his tracks, Ranmaru glanced down on the note on his hand and then back at the empty field. The lights were on, hinting she already arrived. He peered his eyes on his surroundings, there was a elevated stage on the edge, spacious enough for a big band. There was some bags on the side, he assumed it belonged to her, with the combination of red and black palettes on the bag. The light barely shone on her stuff, but he could barely make out a guitar case bag.
"You came." A strong feminine voice spoke.
Ranmaru whipped his head to the owner of the voice. Soramaru emerged from the shadows, the lights giving her the spotlight as she walked towards him. The outfit she wore... it was a punk-rock princess idol costume, consisting on a sleeveless strapped black leather top that clung tightly on her shoulders, a feminine cleavage peaking out between her well-rounded breasts, a big, magenta ribbon that was coiled around her waist, white ruffled pleated skirt that was open on the center, with a shorter black leather skirt underneath, long black leather gloves, and black knee-high boots. Her hair was still in their signature pigtails.
What a cute and sexy combination. She looked like a fallen angel...
Soramaru stopped from her tracks when she was in front of him. "Thanks for that," She slipped out her rarest gentle smile, "I was worried you'll not arrive, considering it was late, after all." She shrugged her shoulders.
Ranmaru couldn't take his eyes off her. He controlled himself from letting out a not-so pleasant grunt.
The raven-haired woman noticed his attentive stare and glanced down on her outfit, "Oh. Liked my outfit?"
"Yes..." He swallowed the lump on his throat, "You look amazing, Sora..."
"Gee..." Her cheeks turned tomato red, "Stop making me blush!" Her eyes flickered, twinkling as her smile resurfaced on her lips, "You ain't bad yourself. It's a bit odd seeing you in bright red, but it does compliment you well."
It was his turn to become bashful. He scratched the back of his head, "Glad you liked it."
Soramaru quirked an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. She turned around and motioned him to follow her.
"You can sit on this lone chair." She hovered her hand on the white plastic chair, "I want you to watch me as I perform something I'd never done for the long time..." She faced him as she placed her hand on her chest, "I will... perform a live show cover."
"A live show cover?"
"Yes." She averted her gaze, "Unfortunately I can never compose my own song nor my own steps, but that doesn't stop me from trying." She gazed at him, her silver eyes piercing through his orbs, "My passion for being an idol will never cease, even if I'll never get my chance. I can always be that fan who does covers, I can still spread the smile that eases the burdens on people's heart. Besides, I'm not alone anymore..." She took a deep breath, "I have Nanjo and Nanaka with me as we resume doing cosplay dance covers of various idol songs. I can still keep my dream going..."
"Soramaru..." The silver-haired man understood it now, but he knew it wouldn't be enough. He had a lot of things to work on.
She bowed her head, "Please enjoy the show!"
The lights on the stage shut off, enveloping the area with darkness. Only the streetlamps from the pavement were lit, which was enough to faintly light on the main show. The stage light slowly turned on, and a music played. It had a low, electronic beat and had a rebellious tone on it. The spotlight shone on Soramaru, who had her head bowed.
Ranmaru was focused on the way she moved her body on the beat, her face changing expression according to the flow of the song. The way she danced, it was like she was part of the tune. When she opened her mouth to sing, he recalled his new composition, the lyrics coming to him at full force.
"People aren't limited to only one existence."
Watching her, the first line appeared in his head. We'll slip out of this useless existence. So, baby? Let's go!
She held out her right hand, her hips swaying in the same direction, "White wing," She did the same with her left, "Black wing." She clasped her hands to her front, forming a makeshift-wings with her fingers.
Cast off things like this worthless reality... His heart hammered in his chest, completely under her spell. And I'll rock you to a world just for us two!
"A different me from yesterday," She pulled her pigtail clip from her hair and threw it, "gives a different answer today."
Why is it? I've been wandering around the maze called "the real world". His thoughts were trying to match the lyrics, which he didn't mind.
"If no is yes," Soramaru shook her head, "then yes is no?"
He closed his eyes for a brief moment, then saw her lips curl into a sly smile, "It all depends on my mood." I just believe your words, absolutely. In the darkness, my heart was saved by your words of light.
Her eyes narrowed and she gave him a wink, "Ah, I'm certain there's more "me's" that I have yet to know."
Ranmaru swallowed the lump on his throat. That specific wink sent shivers down on his spine. Words like "bonds" cause an awful lot of fuss
Soramaru hopped forward, her face turning serious. She glided her arm to her side, palms open as she sang the next line, "To cross this boring world," If I was your lover…if that'd come true... She placed her other hand over, clasping it together, "We have to combine our powers!" I'd want to hold you close for eternity. The silver-haired man imagined those hands as them, embracing under the moonlight, without a care in the world.
Her eyes directly gazed at him, sparkling at the reflection of the light, "Look if it's me and you and "me", a miracle will soon happen!" And then, I finally understood what you meant when you said to "believe".
The raven-haired woman knelt down, clasping her hands together in front of her chest, "But right now we have to bear with it,"
They were truly opposite of each other. As she enveloped herself with the darkness, Ranmaru felt the light shining on him. Let's become like the bright road to the future! Leaving behind a lingering warmth!
"We have to bide our time in this unstable world!" She rose from the ground as she held out her arms.
He outstretched his hand towards her, his desire running full course. We're connected together, my heartbeat's song, I'll send it to you.
Soramaru ran forward and pulled him up. Ranmaru took the lead as he moved his feet according to the song's rhythm, guiding her to dance with him. Their eyes were locked on each other, never wavering as they parted, twirling around as the song reaches its end. Even if the dance itself didn't match with the song, none of them cared about it. Their eyes lingered on each other, unable to look somewhere else. The light was dim, and the moonlight became brighter. It was the perfect atmosphere to step it up the notch, but Ranmaru didn't took the risk: she was here to help him relieve his nightmare, not to ask him out.
Soramaru approached him, smiling in a proud triumph, "So, how was it? Have you felt my passion?"
Ranmaru crossed his arms, flashing his pearly-white teeth, "Do you really need to ask? Of course I felt it. I felt you." His hands reached out to grab her shoulders, "The way you danced and sang... It wasn't just to perform: you're speaking your emotions, how you feel, by body movements and facial expressions. That's the soul of a rocker."
The raven-haired woman gently pried his hands off her shoulders as she backed away from him, "I'm glad. And now..." She turned her back on him as she headed back on the stage, approaching her bags. He could hear her unzipping a bag, a ruffling sounds and a light thud. She returned with her prized bass guitar at hand, extending it in front of him.
"It's time for you to unleash your passion within you."
His smile faltered as a bead of sweat emerged from his forehead. Not only she was lending him her limited-edition bass guitar, but to play something right now? He wasn't ready with his new composition yet. Still pondering on what song he could play right now, his hand went auto-pilot as he took the bass guitar from her hands.
"Oh, right." Soramaru dug her hand inside her pocket, retrieving a piece of paper, "Haruka composed a song for you-"
Hearing Haruka's name flushed away his peaceful mood and replace it with sheer annoyance, "I refuse."
"I know you'll refuse," Her eyes glinted with a playful smirk, "That's why I took reign on fixing her mistakes. I basically have to rewrite the whole thing!" She let out a soft chuckle as she held it out for him, "Call it a collaboration with her or whatever. All I did was write down the lyrics, and she used her composer skills to make it flow smoothly."
Ranmaru felt his cheeks heat up as he was caught red-handed. Tentatively, he took the paper away from her hand and scanned its content. His eyes widened at how it really fits him. He could see the combination of a scrawny handwriting and an elegant one, the scrawny handwriting explaining the mood, the lyrics and the whole content of the song, as the elegant writing connected the threads together. He exhaled through his nose, flashing her a grin, "Earlier you said you can't compose your own song, and here you are with a lyrics at hand."
Soramaru gasped, dropping her jaw on the ground, "I-I just corrected her wrongdoings, is all!" She crossed her arms and averted her head away from him, "I can never have the skill to create my own songs, even writing lyrics."
"Still, you'd created something, and that something is for me." He reached up and cupped her cheek, turning her head to face him. "That's all that matters, Sora."
"That's right," She nodded, and took a step back. She curled her fingers into fists as she held it up under her chin, giving him him her gentle smile, "Believe in yourself, Ranmaru... because I believe in you. You can overcome the unending nightmare." She just had to have faith in him. Even if she herself was still chained by her own darkness, she wanted him to be free. "You can do this. I got your six."
Ranmaru closed his eyes as he channeled his energy inside, her words ringing repeatedly on his ears. He just need to trust himself, because she trusts him.
No matter what happens to our family, Ranran, remember to never give up your dreams. You should always prioritize yourself, always have time for yourself.
The silver-haired man recalled his older sister's words of wisdom, the long-forgotten quote that emerged back on his head. Right... He had two women to trust: Ayame and Soramaru. His eyelids fluttered open, his silver eyes staring intently on her grey orbs, "I'm ready."
Ranmaru stood on the stage, Soramaru's limited-edition bass guitar on his grasps. The raven-haired woman was sitting in front, her hands clasps in front of her chests as she yelled her support, "Unleash your rock within you, Ranran!"
His heart skipped a beat as he felt a bead of sweat roll down to his cheek. This was the first time she called him by his nickname. It fueled his adrenaline, his mind and soul ready to rock. He took a deep breath, and strummed his fingers on the string.
This song, it was meant for him. The words escaped naturally from his lips, his fingers striking on the chord with much gusto.
Soramaru was aware of his attraction to her smile. But was she aware of his feelings for him? With how it was written, it seemed only Haruka was the one who wrote the lines of romance. It didn't matter, as he felt his passion running at full course, electricity coursing through his veins as he sang his heart out, unleashing his emotions through music. His gaze never left hers.
What rescued me was your love.
"Tokiya, do you see that?"
"The lights are on. I can faintly hear a performance, too." Tokiya grabbed her wrists, "Come on, Haruka."
The two of them sprinted towards the field. They recognized the singer as they came closer. It was Ranmaru, singing his heart out on a rock song. Haruka's eyes widened as she recognized the lyrics he was singing; that was what she collaborated with Soramaru! Does that mean what Tokiya said was true? The reason why Soramaru was in a hurry to shoot is to help Ranmaru from his nightmare? Was that the reason why Tokiya recommended her to tell it to the actress?
They'd arrived on the scene, and they saw it. Ranmaru rocking his heart out, while Soramaru was standing in her place, pumping her hands in a rock sign. Haruka ran up to her, with Tokiya following behnd her.
"Miss Hoshizora!" Haruka stopped in her tracks, her face in bewilderment.
Soramaru glanced up to see the last two person she expected to meet tonight, "Haruka? Tokiya? What are you two doing here?!"
"Allow me to explain, Soramaru." Tokiya lowered his head in a curt bow, then raised his head to face her, slipping out a bittersweet smile, "We're worried about Ranmaru, too. He'd been working himself too hard lately, and something was lacking about his performance."
"Ren and Masato..." Her gaze dropped on the ground, "Do they know?"
"They..." Haruka's voice was soft and full of fear, "I'm sorry."
Tokiya placed his hand on her shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze. "Haruka..."
"That's why I asked you to collaborate with me on composing a song for Ranmaru." The composer tried to hold back the oncoming fresh tears, "He didn't want my work. He said he rather sing a song created by you. And then... Reiji argued with him. Ren didn't manage to stop Reiji on time, and Masato risked himself to stop Ranmaru from punching him."
The background noise evaporated from the actress's ears. Did that really happen? Did he really see her in high regard, and not as a joke? She glanced at the stage, to see him still rocking his heart out. She gazed back at them, "Why did he broke?"
Tokiya cut the composer off, "Reiji deflected his arguments back at him. Reiji was defending Haruka from his snarky, misogynistic remarks and turned his words against him."
"I see..." Soramaru's voice trailed off, cursing inside her mind. Damn it, Reiji. What the hell did you say to him that made him snapped? "If only I was there, things wouldn't be too rocky-"
"Don't blame yourself for his actions, Soramaru." Tokiya approached her and placed his hand on her shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze, "Both of them are in the wrong, and they're back in good terms.
The raven-haired woman nodded.
Doing his guitar solo, Ranmaru creased his eyebrows as his eyes landed on the two newcomers. What the hell were they doing here, and what were they saying to Soramaru? It was about what happened earlier? Did Haruka told both Soramaru and Tokiya about it? That clumsy, dense little- His thoughts were disrupted as his body moved on its own, performing the next part. Damn, he needed to concentrate on unleashing his soul, not poking his nose on her business. He raised his voice as he sang the next verse, catching the attention of everyone. His vision landed on the raven-haired woman as he spoke his next lines.
Tokiya wasn't blind when the rocker's gaze kept landing on the actress. The two women watched his performance in silence as he was nearing its end. The azure-haired man crossed his arms as he pondered on his assumptions about Ranmaru's relationship with Soramaru. They'd been friends for several months now, and Ranmaru wasn't beating around the bush when he had a chance to be affectionate towards the actress. Soramaru didn't seem to accept or refuse his advances, going so far as to humor him recently. He was aware of Ranmaru's feelings for Soramaru, and it was only a matter of time for him to directly confess it to her.
Soramaru, on the other hand... She shut her heart close to suitors. Working with her sparked his longing for a significant other, but just like her, he wasn't ready for commitment yet. Both of them had a rough time associating themselves with other people, with him having a distant relationship with his parents, and with the actress losing her family. Tokiya was single all his life, but Soramaru had one ex-boyfriend. Listening to her tale convinced him to be wary on choosing his potential partner, in fear of experiencing what she'd been through: she was nothing but a way to lose her ex-boyfriend's virginity due to a bet. With this, he was unsure whether she reciprocated the rocker's feelings or not, but with how tight-knitted they are from each other, he was leaning towards the former.
Tokiya glanced at Soramaru, witnessing her gentle smile. He knew that smile only appears at special occasions, but more frequently when it comes to Ranmaru. Maybe one day, he would repay her kindness. As Ranmaru's performance end, the azure-haired man promised to himself that if he was ready to ask Haruka out on a date, he would be the first person Soramaru could rely on when it comes to admitting her feelings towards Ranmaru.
It finally ended.
Ranmaru panted, feeling his body soaked from his sweat. His hand tighten his grip on the bass guitar, having no intention of dropping it on the ground. Adrenaline evaporated from his body, leaving him with an empty feeling. He let his muscles relax as he kept supplying his lungs with oxygen.
Soramaru took a step forward as she clapped her hands. "Well done, Ranran! I felt it... your passion... I hate to admit this, but it's stronger than mine!"
Haruka glanced at the actress, "Ranran?"
"She's right," Tokiya chimed in, ignoring the composer, "I felt it, too. You'd been holding yourself back all this time?"
Ranmaru was now calm. He jumped down from the stage, careful on the bass guitar, and approached the trio, "I guess you can say that. It's all thanks to Soramaru that she slapped some sense into me."
"Literally." The raven-haired woman snickered.
"It shouldn't be surprising that you see her in high regard, Ranmaru." Tokiya slipped out a small smile, "She is a professional actress, after all. She knows how to push everyone out from their shell."
Soramaru grinned, "I can hear you."
"Ranmaru?" Haruka walked closer to the rocker, "I'm glad you liked our creation." She smiled sweetly at him, her eyes sparkling from joy.
The silver-haired man gave her a deadpan stare as he shrugged his shoulders, "Eh, yeah. Thanks for helping her out." He darted his eyes towards the azure-haired man, "Can you two go on ahead? There's something I have to tell to Soramaru."
"I understand." Tokiya held out his hand towards Haruka, "Let's go back."
Haruka glanced at the other two before reluctantly accepting his hand. "I'll see you two tomorrow. Good night, Miss Hoshizora. Good night, Ranmaru."
They left with their hands intertwined. Ranmaru rose an eyebrow as Soramaru let out a pleased smirk. Score for Tokiya! That guy needs to lighten up and stop brooding. As much as she hates the woman's guts, if it makes him happy, she wouldn't complain.
"Is there something I'm missing here?" Ranmaru asked when they were out of sight.
Soramaru glanced at him, unable to hide her grin, "Some rules are meant to be broken. Seeing how Haruka can fall for pretty much everyone she interacted with-"
The silver-haired man ended up having a coughing fit. "Are you for real?!"
She rubbed his back, shaking her head with an amused chuckle escaping her lips, "That's what me and Tokiya concluded anyway. She could try to make anyone fall in love with her, because that's how she is. Anyway..." She slapped his back, "What were you about to tell me that you sent them off?"
Ranmaru shook his head, smiling at the slap he received. Her way of telling she was done. "I wanted to tell you this." He flung his arms around her body, hugging her close to his body. Soramaru let out a surprised squeak, but didn't struggle beneath him. He placed his chin above her head, her fragrance wafting on his nose. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know this isn't enough to completely stop my nightmare, but it's a great start."
Soramaru let out a deep sigh, "You silly goose." She shook her head, then placed her hands on his chest, "I'm glad I got the ball rolling. Remember, I have your back. You can always rely on me, no matter how much I'm buried underneath my work."
"I'll keep that in mind, Sora." He tightened his embrace. "I... I love how you're always with me." I love you.
The raven-haired woman softly giggled, "Geez, you're making me nervous." She breathed through her nose, "...You really love being intimate with me, no?"
Because I want to let you know how much I love you. "You're huggable, cute, and the best friend I can talk to all day." He leaned back to face her with a smile, "And I really mean that."
Soramaru narrowed her eyes as she puffed her cheeks, then softly let the air escape her lips, her eyes twinkled from happiness, "Gee, that really means a lot." She stepped back, ending their sweet embrace, "Let's go back and have some rest. We both need it, especially you." She turned around and approached her belongings, stuffing all of her things back on the bag.
"Can we sleep together?"
Soramaru paused her action, contemplating. They'd been sleeping on the same bed together occasionally, especially if they ended up sharing a room together without raising anyone's suspicion as to why two opposite sexes could be in the same room without something scandalous happening. Ranmaru needed some comfort right now, she pondered, and the actress also needed some warmth of her own.
Ranmaru smiled as he watched her work, waiting for his cue to help her.
In this unstable world, a bright road is ahead for them to pursue. The silver-haired man was truly grateful that she was willing to heed his requests without questioning his motives, or making him uncomfortable by asking him if she has some attraction towards her. It probably floated on her head, since Reiji assumed she had feelings for him, but with how she politely deflects some of his affections, he doubt that she felt the same way. He initially thought she was more interested with Tokiya, with their similarities, but tonight confirmed his assumptions: he was wrong. Tokiya was smitten with Haruka, which didn't really surprise him, but what did was how the composer just accepts his advances without batting an eye. She should feel somewhat special.
Maybe one day, he would be brave. Christmas was nearing, maybe that was his opportunity to try. But he wouldn't rush, he wanted her to be fully comfortable around him, to entrusts all of her secrets on him. She was a box of mysteries and he would make sure he could solve everything and know her to the fullest, like how she knew him like she was a part of his life since childhood.
Ranmaru approahced her when she called him for help. He wore the straps of the bag on his shoulders as she carried the others. Both of them walked side by side, small talks randomly happen when something on their vision piqued their interests.
Tonight would be the first time he could try sleeping in peace, with Soramaru in his side.