Ava sips at her mixed drink. She is certain it’s a terrible idea to drink alcohol at the moment but she needs something to help her stop processing. She can’t get the image of Kaz leaning on the back of the couch out of her head. The eyes are the worst part in her imagination. They beckon independently of the rest of the guitarist’s body. Another long sip off her drink and the image gets hazy when she shuts her eyes, trying hard to focus her mind elsewhere. She pulls her ticket out of a small bag and stares at it, hoping it will change into something else.
“Headed to the concert?” Someone asks and she looks towards the voice. A Japanese woman smiles at her and there’s a long silence.
“Something… came up. I’m not sure any more.” The woman looks surprised at Ava’s response.
“You should go, come with us then! We’re going as a big group.” She titters and Ava takes in the woman’s attire. She’s dressed to the nines like a Visual-kei queen and the woman notices the look. “I’m trying to catch Hyde’s eye, isn’t he sexy?”
“Y—Yeah.” The woman looks put off by Ava’s half-assed response. “Sorry, it’s a big thing that happened. I just feel strange.”
“Oh, you poor thing. You need something to distract you then. Seriously, come with us!” The woman gestures to a nearby table and there’s a group of similarly dressed women sitting there, waving to the pair of them sitting at the bar.
“I… don’t think I fit in,” Ava claims, eyeing the group and mentally comparing.
“No, you’re fine!” The woman laughs and reaches out, tugging on Ava’s arm. “It’ll be fun, come and join us! Besides, you’re American and we need some help getting around. Even more so now.” She giggles again and Ava pauses in thought before relenting.
“Come join us then!” Ava gets up from her seat, taking her drink with her to join the table full of concert-goers. She figures that it can’t be too bad to go in a big group, she couldn’t be spotted.
“You are a life-saver Arly.” Hyde grins at the drummer and Arimatsu shakes his head.
“Not doing it for you.” Arimatsu returns to his practice drums.
“I’m well aware of that considering I’m not doing this for me either.” Hyde’s smile sours and turns into a frown for the scarcest of seconds before he shakes his head. “It’s just a saying.” The doors to the room open and Kaz steps back in, one almost crushed pack of cigarettes and a lighter clutched in hand. He looks defeated, eyes puffy and tired and cheeks red. He throws the pack and lighter back onto the table where he got them and starts towards his guitar. “Hey, Kaz, I—”
“Save it. I don’t want to hear your voice right now.”
“Even if I figured out a way for you to serenade your lovebird?” Hyde tilts his head, a triumphant smile on his face.
“Shut up.” The voice that comes out of Kaz is surprisingly hollow as he slumps down into a seat. “Just… shut up. Please.” Hyde’s smile falters and fades, turning to concern.
“Please, I think I’ve had enough today. If you want me to perform tonight, just leave me alone.” Hyde stays silent, staring quietly at the back of Kaz’s head as Arimatsu looks back and forth between the two of them. Kaz looks up to the mirror, mechanically beginning to fix any damage to the makeup and to cover spots that were rubbed away. He touches a couple fingers to where the missing bobby pins were before replacing them.
“Wha—” Hyde hushes the drummer, shaking his head a bit. The singer turns away, speaking with Ju-ken about the set list but every so often throwing a glance in Kaz’s direction.
“Wait, how—what—how are we at the front of the line?” Ava gawks at her new friends who simply giggle and laugh at her.
“You didn’t realize?” the first woman questions, she had learned her name is Kyoko.
“Realize what?” Ava blinks, looking back at the people behind them. The group had taken the time to play with her hair and makeup, sharpening and cleaning it to a fine point. The American almost blends in with them by this point.
“We’re Addicts!” Mitsuko, another in the group, squeals in delight.
“We get to go in first thanks to being in the fan club and you’re coming with us,” Kyoko states, looping an arm through Ava’s and smiling widely at her.
“O—Oh…” Ava feels the blood drain from her face. Right in front is the absolute last place she wants to be. She starts hoping that they would be in front of Ju-ken instead of Hyde and especially not in front of Kaz.
“This is going to be great!” shouts another of the girls, Saki.
“Sound check in ten!” one of the staff calls in. It’s still painfully quiet in the lounge as everyone seems to go over their parts. Kaz plays his guitar, staring blankly ahead but rarely missing any notes. Hyde watches him from across the room, strumming vague chords as he turns the situation over and over in his mind.
The techs come back in another ten minutes to state that they’re ready to go in about another ten minutes. Hyde frowns at them before watching Kaz get to his feet, taking his guitar with towards the door and disappearing out it. Ten minutes later, they’re all near the edge of the stage, doing final preparations. Hyde peeks out as subtly as he can manage to look at the crowd, Jin had pulled him to the side and claimed that she had become much closer than before.
He immediately wants to hug Arimatsu and Jin. The sight of the girl in the middle of a gaggle of strategically placed fan club members makes him pleased. He ducks back and slips over to Kaz, the guitarist noticing him coming.
“We already went over—”
“Let’s drink to the show.” Hyde breaks into Kaz’s statement and there’s a long silence as Hyde snatches a pair of water bottles from someone walking by. The vocalist offers one to Kaz and there’s an extremely long pause before the guitarist takes it. “Kanpai.” Hyde knocks his bottle against Kaz’s as the intro music starts and Jin heads out onto the stage.
“Kanpai…” Kaz nods slowly, taking a long drink off the bottle as Arimatsu heads out. Hyde sucks half the bottle down and sets it off to the side, Kaz following suit. Ju-ken looks to the two of them worriedly before bounding up onto the stage.
“To a good show and to you impressing your lovebird who is going to be right in front of you,” Hyde states rapidly and Kaz blinks at him as the singer guides him towards the stairs.
“Wait, what?” Is all the guitarist manages out before Hyde shoves him up and out onto the stage. The roar of the crowd overwhelms the senses and he gives a small wave before moving over and picking his guitar up, slinging it over his shoulder and turning around. He freezes as the crowd roars again, a group somewhere chanting Hyde’s name.
Ava cringes internally as Kaz’s eyes land on her, watching as he freezes and stares directly at her in the front row. Her fan club friends have her pushed up against the railing, giving Ava maybe two feet from the edge of the stage. An edge of the stage that she is certain Kaz would be standing at most of the night.
“Haido!” She hears Kyoko scream, an echo going up from the rest of the fan club, copying another set of fans doing the same elsewhere. Kaz continues to stare at her until she forces herself to look away, looking to Hyde waving to the crowd, even with his guitar strapped in place. Another shout from the crowd and the first song starts.
It takes three songs before Ava realizes that Kaz seems to be pointedly playing ‘to’ her area of the crowd. She’s been making it a point to look anywhere but where Kaz is. However, random guitar strumming interrupting Hyde’s MC draws her gaze to him. The guitarist’s eyes wander away but not for long, always coming back to her. A flush breaks out on her face as the next song starts and he seems more energized by the fact that she’s actually watching him.
By another song, Ava can’t take her eyes off Kaz. She’s watched many videos and seen them live once before but this time, it seems as if the guitarist is pushing himself to the limit. He even seems to add difficult portions to a solo or two. The guitar sings every note clearly and beautifully under his fingers without mistake or even buzz of frets.
His eyes meet hers once again and the blush rises higher onto her cheeks. A faint smile plays up onto his face before it vanishes, returning to the focus on playing. Ava continues to watch as he moves out and up onto a speaker, balancing there precariously as he plays energetically. Bodies surge forward from behind her, pushing Ava into the railing as hands reach towards the stage, all falling short. Ava recovers enough to look up at him again, nervously biting at her lip.
Glancing over the hands, Kaz pauses before turning and tilting as he plays. The tip of the guitar is just short of the reach of many. A couple people manage to nick the edge but he knows that it’s well within her grasp. He waits, continuing to play and tease the audience, hoping that she’ll reach up.
As he watches, she seems to pause, consider the guitar and him before the blush engulfs her cheeks completely. He’s certain that she understands him at that point. Then, she gently reaches up and runs a pair of fingers along the edge of the guitar head. It takes all of his strength not to reach out and grab back.
Instead, when she pulls back, he bounces off the speaker at just the right point and spins around as he plays a couple times. Hyde looks entirely too amused at the situation, calling him out during the next MC, to which he receives a quiet, snarky reply. The calling doesn’t bother him however, he’s far too happy.
Ava feels her face burning as she watches the happy guitarist. He seems even more pleased than before and she’s certain that it has everything to do with her instead of the concert. Even if that sounds self-centered, Kaz hadn’t reacted the same way to anyone else managing to touch the guitar. As it is, she reads joy and happiness in every movement as he plays and moves around the stage compared to the nervousness she saw earlier.
The band filters off the stage fairly quickly, save for Kaz who lingers before following his bandmates. Ava watches after him, a small smile appearing on her face and he seems happier as he vanishes from sight. Kyoko wraps an arm around her, cheering loudly and Ava can’t help but cheer with her.