|Back Stage Novel Chapter 7|
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Our scene opens in early March with Rei in the SenaPro offices hunched over his computer–and he’s nursing quite a headache, because he’s pretty well stumped. He opens up a browser window and types ‘birthday’ and ‘surprise’ into the search box and gets back over a million results–this…is gonna take a while.
Of course he’s not googling for ideas on how to celebrate his own birthday–but Shougo’s!
It’s been 6 months now since that moment that he realized that he has genuine feelings of love for Shougo–but he still hasn’t confessed them to Shougo himself. There’s the fact, for one, that they’re both incredibly busy, so they’ve kept their meet-ups pretty much the same as they always have been, getting together when their schedules allow it–but while it may seem on the surface that nothing has changed, underneath? Rei’s changed a lot.
He’s found that he’s actually…really been looking forward to the times when they can meet up now, has found a sense of comfort in the sight of Shougo relaxing in his room with a beer, and the sex? Well that’s even more amazing than ever now.
But Rei’s also been doing his damnedest to keep Shougo from realizing how much his feelings have changed–mostly because, if Shougo knew, he’d get completely carried away with the idea, and Rei really likes the relationship they have right now and doesn’t want things to change.
Plus, well, it’s embarrassing. He’s known Shougo for 10 years now–how on earth is he supposed to come out and say, “Oh, I’m in love with you by the way,” after all that time? It makes him feel weird just thinking about it.
And then there’s the fact that…in all honesty, he’s still #2 in Rei’s heart, and Seiya will always be first for him. How would it feel to hear from Rei that Rei loves him…but doesn’t love him as much as he does Seiya? Besides, it’s not as if they can get married, so really, what’s the point? Their relationship right now is perfectly fine.
Still, all of this does nothing to change that Rei does have these feelings for Shougo now, he’s realized, and they’ve made him want to do something in return for the guy. The way Shougo pours all his love into Rei and works so hard just for him, it makes Rei want to repay him somehow.
And he’ll have just the opportunity to do so in another month and a half: April 8th, Shougo’s birthday.
He figures it won’t seem out of the ordinary if he goes a little overboard, because hey–it’s a special day! So he’s been thinking long and hard about what to do, but nothing’s quite coming together just yet. Of course he has to consider Shougo’s schedule and make any special arrangements for dinner or trips–and the idea of surprising Shougo with something is becoming more and more appealing. But how to go about it?
Most everything he’s researched so far seems either in appropriate for Shougo or really inappropriate for Rei; buying him an expensive present seems ridiculous given Shougo’s financial situation, and well, Rei’s already done the ‘naked apron’ thing to death.
He’s in the middle of considering just what to do, though, when The CRUSHERZ manager Sotomura drops in and catches sight of Rei’s research efforts, immediately twigging to the fact that he’s looking up ways to throw a surprise birthday party for Shougo. Rei tries to brush it off as a mere consideration, but Sotomura thinks this is a great idea and suggests they all throw Shougo a party together!
Rei despairs–because he’d wanted this to be special, something that would give them time alone, and his plans are falling apart right before his eyes, especially when Seiya wanders in and inquires about the excitement, throwing his full support behind the idea of throwing Shougo a surprise party when Sotomura explains the situation. And of course Rei’s never been able to turn down Seiya.
Yup, this is how they’ve decided to get Shougo to his birthday venue: by convincing him that he’s giving a birthday concert in Osaka. Rei had initially been disappointed, but now he’s realized that he wouldn’t have been able to pull off a surprise like this without everyone’s help, and he’s even gotten a little excited with the anticipation.
Shougo is still disappointed–he’d really been looking forward to spending his birthday with Rei and tries to wheedle his way out, or at least to have Rei let him get there the day of so they can spend some time alone together before. Rei manages to cajole him into being a good boy and traveling with his companions by promising to celebrate good and hard after the concert. Shougo gives in…but not before talking Rei into a bit of pre-birthday celebrating which proves quite pleasurable for the both of them.
It’s finally the day before Shougo’s birthday, and everyone’s boarding a charter bus–Seiya, Nagisa, Izumi…and for some reason Ichijou Ryouma is tagging along. The bus gets started–but just as they get going, Izumi starts to get carsick. Rei offers him some medicine and tries to switch seats with Ryouma to watch over him, but Ryouma’s adamant he get to take care of Izumi.
Rei reflects on how Izumi’s and Ryouma’s relationship has changed–from Izumi being pretty much flat out frightened of Ryouma after Ryouma attacked him to the way they are now, almost always by each other’s side as if it’s natural. Rei quite approves of it himself–mostly because hanging around with Ryouma all the time has done wonders for Izumi’s popularity since his debut.
Several hours later, they finally arrive in Osaka and disembark. Shougo and his gang are set to arrive on the next-to-last bullet train, so they head to the inn first, where they’ve reserved rooms at an onsen. Once there, they start decorating the banquet hall for their private surprise party for Shougo–however, just as they finish up, with nothing left to do but wait for Shougo, Rei’s cell phone rings, and he gets a bad feeling–it’s Sotomura calling.
It seems just before their train was set to depart–Shougo took off and left them all behind, telling them he’d catch up in a car the next morning. Rei believes without a doubt…that Shougo has made his way to Rei’s apartment. He sighs deeply and tells Sotomura to wait at the station–that he’ll make sure Shougo gets on the last train, and hangs up. The others around him wonder what’s wrong, but Rei has no time to explain the situation, telling them everything will be fine and stepping out of the hall for some privacy.
He dials up Shougo, and after a few rings, the guy picks up–very hesitantly, with all of the wary and worry of someone who knows he’s about to be yelled at. Rei orders him to get on the last train, but Shougo maintains that he really wants to spend his birthday with Rei. Rei quickly comes up with an excuse, explaining that they’ve ordered a camera crew to come surprise him first thing in the morning, so if he’s not here tonight, everything will be ruined. Shougo is immediately penitent and hangs up the phone, and Rei breathes a sigh of relief.
A short while later, Shougo and the others arrive safely in Osaka and make their way to the inn–where the surprise goes off without a hitch. Shougo is thrilled, and a cake is quickly wheeled in and the lights doused as everyone sings Happy Birthday. Rei watches, catching Shougo’s eye as he takes in everything–it’s the first time he’s seen Shougo like this, actually almost calm because he’s so happy and overwhelmed, surprised but thrilled at the same time.
Shougo blows out his candles and receives congratulations from all around (and is really confused as to why on earth Ryouma is there too), and the party gets going–there’s karaoke and chatting and, of course, booze.
Rei takes a moment for a toilet break, and as he’s heading back to the main room, he finds Shougo standing in the hall, waiting for him.
“Rei…I’m sorry.” Rei laughs dryly–he ought to be; thanks to his actions, the surprise was almost ruined. But well, he got to see Shougo’s surprised face, which kind of made it all worth it. Shougo is relieved to be forgiven and suggests they go for a walk in the garden for a few minutes. Rei is hesitant–Shougo’s the man of the hour and needs to get back to his party, but Shougo wheedles him into indulging, just for a bit. Rei reflects that he’s hardly against being able to spend time just the two of them–but he can’t let Shougo know that.
Shougo’s relieved to finally know why this whole thing has seemed fishy–he’d trusted Rei implicitly, but it had still nagged a bit. Plus this way he gets to spend his birthday with Rei anyways, so all’s well that ends well, and he’ll never forget this birthday. He takes Rei’s wrist in hand and drags him close, intent on getting a little nookie out of sight, but Rei reminds him that the innkeepers could easily see them and rebuffs his advances–Shougo petulantly snags a single little smack before Rei can retreat, though, and delightedly thanks Rei for the ‘meal’ as it were.
Rei lets it go–it’s dark, and unlikely anyone saw them–but…he somehow has managed to get a little turned on from something no more intimate than a greeting kiss, despite knowing full well they can’t possibly do anything tonight.
Just then, though, Haru and Linpei show up, waving a card key for their hotel room–they CRUSHERZ were supposed to room together, but the pair let Shougo and Rei know that they’re going to just bunk with Sotomura-san…so Shougo can have the room all to himself. And since Sotomura and Rei were supposed to be rooming together…the other band members are essentially letting them know they’re welcome to spend the night together.
“Consider this our present to you~” they announce, pressing the card key into Rei’s hand before giving him a slap and a wink and taking their leave.
Shougo drops his voice and suggests they meet up in his room later, and Rei agrees after a moment’s silence. Watching Shougo head back to the festivities first, Rei reflects that he’d thought with everyone around, surely nothing could happen between them…but he grips the card key tight, then slips it into his pocket.
By around 3 AM, everyone’s pretty well and thoroughly smashed on booze, and Rei makes his way to Shougo’s room. He’s the man of the hour, so he’ll likely be stuck with them for a bit longer, and Rei plans to use the time to take a bath and prepare. After all, each room is equipped with its own private open-air bath, so it’ll be nice to soak away some of the alcohol before his and Shougo’s private evening gets started.
He settles into the warm bath, and for some reason all he can remember is the way Shougo’s eyes were lit up as he blew out the candles. A short while later, Shougo enters, apologizing for being late–he’s out of breath and clearly rushed to get there. Rei waves him off and invites him in, the water being perfect for relaxing in. Shougo doesn’t need to be told twice.
He strips at lightning speed and quickly slips into the water, pulling Rei close into a tight hug. Rei warns him off for squeezing too hard, but Shougo just hadn’t expected to be able to spend his birthday with Rei, and he’s kind of overwhelmed.
Shougo reflects that he heard from Sotomura that the whole thing had been Rei’s idea to begin with, and thanks Rei once again. Rei asks if he enjoyed his presents from everyone, which Shougo naturally did. “Then…I suppose it’s time for my gift now, huh?”
“Happy birthday, Shougo.” He places a gentle kiss on Shougo’s lips, which deepens and escalates.
They’re woken the next morning–well, afternoon–by the other band members tentatively knocking on the door, and Rei rushes around to get ready on hearing that everyone else is already gathered for lunch. Rei realizes that despite their sleeping in full yukata in separate futons–just in case someone came and saw them–Shougo at some point managed to snuggle into Rei’s bed, a fact for which Rei berates him. Rei is adamant they get dressed and go see the others, but Shougo’s perfectly happy lazing about in bed and cuddling. And he couldn’t care less if anyone happened to see them–he’s so happy right now he could jump right on Twitter and tweet his love for Rei to the whole world.
This earns him another swift punch–doesn’t he know his place? If it got out that Shougo was shacking up with not only his manager but another guy, both CRUSHERZ and SenaPro would be finished. He realizes once again that he definitely can’t let Shougo know about his feelings. If he let the words I love you leave his lips, forget a simple ‘coming out’, who knew what Shougo would do.
He reminds Shougo sharply once again that he can’t tell anyone about their relationship, soundly kicking Shougo out from his futon and vowing to keep their relationship as it is for a little longer.