“It’s not just a band name then,” Ava says as she stirs her coffee, the buzz of the café surprisingly loud for the time of night. Kyoko plucks at her lacy collar, her eyes darting around the coffee shop. The rest of the group had headed back to their hotel, Kyoko convincing them to do so even though Saki and Mitsuko looked suspicious.
“No,” Kyoko states, after a long silence.
“So your real in is providing blood.”
“In a way. I do things for Arimatsu-san.”
“I thought you were a Hydeist.”
“Was. Kind of still am.” Kyoko looks increasingly uncomfortable talking about it. “Do we have to do this in public?”
“Would you rather talk about it in your hotel room? Or my car that I drove here and planned to sleep in?” Ava questions, not looking up from her coffee, and there’s a long silence between them. “No one’s paying attention. If they do, they’ll think we’re practicing for some movie or discussing a book or something. That is if they understand us.” There’s a longer silence after the final sentence is spoken in Japanese before Kyoko gives in.
“They’re vampires, yes. Technically I’m Arimatsu-san’s thrall, if the word has any meaning for you.” The woman switches to her native language, seeming much more comfortable.
“I have an idea but explain it anyways.” Ava sips on her coffee, responding back in the same language.
“I’m like his retainer. He can ask me to do things and I do them for him. We have a mental connection when he wishes for it to be active or if I’m in need.” Kyoko stirs her tea, glancing around a little nervously still. There are quite a few concert attendees in the shop. “He drinks from me usually and sometimes some of the others let the rest of the band drink from them.” Ava almost chokes on her coffee. The collars were obvious now that the thought occurs to her. Ava was the only one without a collar in the entire group.
“So you’re their delivery food.” Kyoko frowns at the statement.
“I wish you wouldn’t put it that way.”
“I have an odd sense of humor.” Ava brushes Kyoko’s statement off and sips at her coffee again, fixing her eyes on the other woman. “So what did Kaz want with me?” There’s a very long pause.
“I have no idea. I don’t get details, just statements. They wanted you backstage, I took you with me.” There’s a very long silence.
“Did he ask you to pick me up at the bar too?” Ava keeps her eyes on Kyoko and a pained expression appears on the Japanese woman’s face.
“He asked me to keep a look-out for you but I told him you were right there. That you were considering not going from the looks of it.”
“So you convinced me to go.”
“For the sole purpose of giving me to them. That’s sick, I hope you realize.”
“They wouldn’t kill you,” Kyoko manages to add a vehement tone to her whisper and Ava stays quiet. “In fact, if you were locked into a room with Kaz-san, he should’ve already bitten you.” The image of the guitarist standing in the hallway pops up in Ava’s mind and she attempts to shove it away, the forlorn expression on his face bothering her the more she thinks about it.
“So what does he want?” Ava mutters, drinking more of her coffee, eyes focusing on the steam coming off it. She had been having such a great time and the odd moments with the guitarist are surprisingly included in that. Finding out that so much had been orchestrated has soured her mood.
“I don’t know. I can only guess and say you.”
The trip back to the hotel is just as subdued as the packing up of the longue room. Hyde keeps a hand on Kaz, attempting to comfort the inconsolable guitarist. He has no idea how the next concert is going to go with him like this. He finds himself mentally cursing the girl that had caused the trouble before jumping to Kyoko and Arimatsu, before landing on himself for blame. He had tried to rectify the situation but it had only gotten worse.
The fan club is at the hotel, cheering loudly and Kaz attempts to look better for them, looking them over, searching. He does a double check and it causes Hyde to check the group himself. He notes that they look smaller in number and he tugs Kaz along to the elevator. Arimatsu hangs back for a second before catching up, the last one of the five in the elevator.
“Kyoko’s missing,” the drummer states. Kaz stays quiet, looking down at his feet.
“Is she okay?” Hyde questions.
“I’ll check in a second, when I get to my room.” Arimatsu nods in response. When they reach their floor, they split into two different groups, each person heading for their room, and Ju-ken shoots Kaz a sympathetic look. Hyde stays close to Kaz however, unwilling to let the guitarist be alone. He’s right beside him when Kaz opens the door to his room and there’s a long silence, the door partially open.
“I’ll be fine.” The guitarist’s voice is weak, staying in the doorway as he speaks. “I just need to give up.” There’s a short silence before he steps into the hotel room. “Try to forget that it happened.” Hyde easily slips into the room behind him.
“You really think I’m leaving you alone?” There’s a short pause.
“No, I guess not.” Kaz moves over and takes a seat on the bed, staring at the floor. He’s silent until Hyde joins him, the vocalist’s feet just short of the ground. “I had her Hideto. I got to touch her, see her smile, make her smile…”
“I know.” Another wave of guilt washes over Hyde and he rubs his friend’s back.
“I wish I hadn’t.” Kaz stays quiet for a while. “Loving and losing being better is bullshit. I wish that I hadn’t been there. That I hadn’t seen her, hadn’t met her, hadn’t seen her smile.” Kaz puts his head in his hands, shutting his eyes. Hyde finds himself at a loss, not sure what to say.
“Come on, let’s get cleaned up and I’ll stay here with you tonight.” Hyde pulls Kaz up from his seat and towards the bathroom. The guitarist trembles as he moves, weak-kneed and stumbling.
“…Thank you…” The words are strangled by tears and Hyde can only rub Kaz’s shoulder to try and impart some comfort, despite knowing that it will do little to ease his friend’s pain.
“So you figure out which hotel they’re staying at?” Ava looks up at the hotel above her and Kyoko, considering it.
“Yeah, or we get a message. We got a message this time.”
“And you book your rooms.”
“You know I’m not becoming like you, right?”
“It’s not so bad.” Kyoko starts up and into the building.
“You’re not where I’m sitting.” Ava shakes her head, following Kyoko.
“Neither are you where I am,” Kyoko retorts, silencing Ava until they get into the elevator.
“What did you tell him exactly?”
“That we are on our way back and that you are considering speaking to Kaz-san again to understand what it is that he wants.” Kyoko presses a button in the elevator and the doors start to close. “I’m just bringing you close so that you have the option to actually do it.” There’s a long silence between them as the elevator heads upwards.
They get off at a different floor and Ava follows Kyoko down the hallway to a room that they head into. It’s empty save for them, surprising Ava and Kyoko seems a little curious at her shock, giving her a curious look.
“I expected more than just you in here.”
“To help pay for the room.”
“I don’t need that sort of help.” Kyoko smiles, shaking her head and walks over to the bed, taking a seat before lying out on it. “Comfy…” Ava instead moves to the far side of the room and looks out the window. They’re far off the ground and the view is beautiful. “So have you decided yet? You do have a limited time frame. Tomorrow morning, we all leave.”
“As do I.” There’s an extremely long silence between the two women. Ava finally turns around to see Kyoko’s watching her. She plucks together her courage and curiosity. “What room is he in?”