The thing that appeared in front of my eyes vanished
The voice that cut my dreams to pieces
In this world that’s full of lies
Mana lay awake in bed staring at the ceiling. The night was as restless as the leader of Malice Mizer. A full moon watched him from the outside from behind thin wispy clouds.
His mind replayed the day of Gackt Camui’s announcement. Over and over the voice of velvet speaking those ugly words.
A crack resounded in Mana’s chest, right where his heart should be (is, beating so fitfully).
Splinters dug deep, tearing gaping wounds into the broken heart.
The carefully constructed mask threatened to shatter.
A tear slips down his painted face. Lips part, aching to change the prince’s mind.
Mouth betrays heart. Watery dark eyes watch as his prince gets up from his chair. Watches as he walks over to plant a kiss upon upturned lips, both trembling, and turn to walk out the door.
Gackt pauses in the doorway with one hand on the frame. Looking over his shoulder at the motionless man behind him. Not a hair out of place nor emotion breaking the doll-like makeup.
“I still love you,” he whispers.
Blue painted lips twist into a grimace. “Leave.” Betrayal is nothing new, not anymore.
A capricious girl’s change
If you can embrace each other on this earth
If you notice a person’s an imitation
Nights of the two of them together flashes before him. Wondrous nights filled full passion. Sweaty bodies clinging to one another. Breathy gasps shared between the scant space between them.
‘We don’t need him!’ a tiny voice screams. ‘The band can find another singer. A better one than him.’ Whispered words of love and ‘forever’ echo continuously, overpowering the tiny voice. The sensation of hands gliding over skin return.
‘I don’t need him! I don’t!’ the voice attempts to be heard again. The memories banish, along with them went the remaining pieces of his heart. The heart that Gackt had so painstakingly unfroze.
Pull my strings…
Make me live
“Mana-chan!” Kozi pounds on the bedroom door. “It’s time to go!”
Icy brown eyes framed by a pale white face and long black hair glare into the oval mirror above his vanity. Black lipstick was held centimeters away from pursed lips.
‘I don’t need him,’ the manta echoes. ‘I don’t need him.’
Two hands encased in black leather gloves appear on his shoulders. “Mana-hime,” a deep voice sings. “They’re waiting for us.” Warm breath tickled the hair near his ear.
“Almost done,” Mana replies absently.
A smile graces full lips. “Need any… help?” One hand glides down the length of the arm that held the lipstick. Slowly raising his eyes to gaze at the man behind him breaks the fantasy forming within his mind. A soft face morphs into the barely noticeably sharper features of their new vocalist.
“Leave me, Klaha!” Mana shouts at their reflections.
The hands leave as if burned. The door behind him slams shut loudly. A scream tears itself from deep within. Unheard by anyone but the man. He throws the lipstick at the mirror, breaking both from the force.
‘I don’t… need… him…’
The roaring of the crowd at the end of yet another performance without Gackt deafens him. He walks stiffly off the stage towards his waiting dressing room.
He lives only for Malice Mizer, for his band, hid dream. For their fans.
That voice that can be heard distantly
Noah’s boat that’s full of delusions
Beat me… Stop me…
The crowd cheers as Klaha begins to sing their newest hit. Mana watches his surroundings from behind his emotionless mask. Watches as Yu~ki and Kozi play their instruments. Eyes shift over to the darkened corner where Shu, their support drummer, drums away unseen.
Memories flood his mind as he moves through their choreographed, painstakingly rehearsed performance. Images of Kami, their sweet Kami, on the drums drumming his heart out, hair flowing from his movements. Turning away shows him Klaha’s back, which is instantly replaced with Gackt’s. Hips swaying, hand twirling in the air above his head. Glancing back and winking at Mana.
His breath catches in his throat, fingers stilling for just a fraction of a second.
After another successful performance, Mana sits on the chair in front of his shattered mirror. Behind him, the door clicks open and shut quietly. Soft footsteps pad towards him. Hands no longer hidden by gloves caress his pale neck.
Lie… You who ripped up my chest
Robbed me of my voice
Stopped up my eyes
Empty eyes stare up at the ceiling. Rumbled blankets and stained sheets tangle around pale legs and torso. It was a good… release of stress and pent up energy. Nothing more. Here and then gone.
Phantom hands run over his body. Hands infinitely more gentle than Klaha’s. They make their way up, massaging tense shoulders. Butterfly light kisses ghost upon cheeks and lips. A hand teasingly travels down over a shoulder to rest upon his chest.
“I love you, Mana-chan.”
The fingers tap tap away on his breastbone, blunt nails pricking the sensitive skin.
“Always and forever.”
Tears pool unshed in the corners of Mana’s eyes.
“I’ll never leave you, my princess.”
Breath sticks in his throat, choking back an anguished scream. Those blunt nails dig deep, past bone to the delicate muscle pumping away beneath it. Blood flows down his ribs like a flooded river. Pools of it form around his body, staining blue satin sheets.
The hand pulls out slowly. A frantically beating heart stutters and stops within his merciless grasp.
Hate me… Pity me…
Tease me… Break me…
Beat me… Stop me…
Violate me… Kill me…
In a lovely penthouse across the ocean, one man sits staring blankly into the fireplace. Lights dance, bringing shadows to life. Eyes tinted blue through contacts and bloodshot from stress never waver from the dancing flames.
Fancy and elegant paintings collect dust from neglect. One picture, he couldn’t even recall who had created it, hangs crooked on its nail. It drives him crazy whenever it happens, but now…
He just doesn’t have the energy to care.
One photo, though…
One single picture taken years ago remains untouched by dust. This one receives the most care, despite its crinkled edges and lines wrapping it from folding and refolding. Never leaves his sight unless it’s to go back in a pocket close to his heart.
A photo of a couple. A happy, almost carefree couple. An impulsive evening spent at a carnival. It was the first time that either one had been to one. Naturally they were like little children let loose by their parents.
A fan who had recognized them had taken the candid picture. They didn’t even know about it until they received it in the mail weeks later. Mana was holding a stick of rainbow cotton candy in his hands, while Gackt fed him a small chunk of it.
A bittersweet smile tugs at the corners of Gackt’s mouth. It was quickly replaced with a frown. ‘Those days are long gone,’ he thinks sadly. ‘And it’s my fault, in a way, isn’t it?’ Tears prick at his eyes. A shaking hand goes up to stop them from falling, to block out the world. ‘I needed to leave. I was suffocating from his manic need for control.’
“You hate me now, don’t you, Mana-chan?”
His question’s directed towards the photo laying innocently in his lap. But the words echo over and over in the relative silence of his home.
Leave everything behind
Even now at that place
I’m only looking at you
‘I can live without him.’
Mana clasps his hands behind his head. Eyes half closed gaze at the passing clouds overhead.. One particular cloud stops right in front of where he lay on the grassy hill outside of the city.
They say that when you stare hard enough, you will see what you want to see when cloud gazing. Much like with Rorschach prints.
He watches attentively as the cloud shifts. Instead of being a giant mass of water and dust particles, it transforms into the outline of two bodies. Bodies huddled close together laying down. So close like a lover’s embrace.
A tear rolls out of the corner of his eye and is silently soaked into his hair.
You who ripped open my chest
Robbed me of my voice
Stopped up my eyes
He had collapsed again.
It had been after another long grueling practice. Everyone was exhausted from all the work. From how hard he pushed them. And yet… He pushed even more. He wanted, needed, it to be perfect.
His ‘Dears’ deserved no less from him.
Of course, they were all willing to give them the best and more. Doesn’t stop them from complaining and whining about it all. Masa, Chacha, Iago, Ren, and You wouldn’t mind all the work if…
If he just wouldn’t push himself to hospitalization and still try to work.
All five of them were gathered at Gackt’s penthouse. The doctor had only released him if someone was there to watch him. To make absolutely sure that he followed orders of rest and food and drink.
Much easier said than done.
Which is why the whole band is present. He may try to fool one or two of them. But all five?
You walks into the living room and sits down with a heavy sigh. His leg is immediately turned into a living pillow by a sleepy Masa. To his right was Chacha absently watching the news report while barely understanding a single word. Ren was in the bedroom helping Gackt back to bed since he’d mistakenly thought he was well enough to get up on his own.
‘Why do you keep pushing yourself, Gackt?’ You can’t help but question. He lets his hands curl within Masa’s hair, softly petting the short strands. The redhead snuggles closer as he wraps his arms around You’s thigh.
A few minutes later has Ren exiting the bedroom. A quick detour into the kitchen happens before he joins them in the living room. “He’s asleep now,” he informs them as he cracks open a beer. “You’re up next, Chacha.” His sigh as he settles into the recliner next to the sofa mirrors You’s perfectly.
Beside him Chacha nods in understanding. Picking up the remote, he changes the station until he finds something mindless to watch. A few channels later and he stops on a random movie. His free hand he brings up to You’s shoulder, gently tugging his head down to rest on his shoulder.
He’s asleep between one breath and the next.
Hours later find his jerking awake, breathing rapidly as the memory of watching Gackt fall lifelessly to the ground retreats. Wiping sweat from his forehead and sleep crust from his eyes he sits up.
It’s dark in the living room now. TV turned off, fire long since burned out. The distant lights from street signs far below give the room an unearthly glow. Around him are the shadowy forms of his fellow band mates. All thankfully still sleeping away the exhaustion of the day.
Gently, oh so gently, You untangles himself from the death-grip Masa has on his thigh. Chacha’s is so much easier, his hand sleep loose on his shoulder. Practiced hands slide a pillow under his head and tuck the blanket they’d been covered in around their still sleeping forms.
He jumps. Breath hitches in his throat as his heart jackhammers. He whips his head towards the open balcony doors. Within seconds he’s at Gackt’s side, hands fluttering about uselessly.
“So,” Gackt breaks the silence. “What happened while I was forced to stay in bed all day?” He reaches out, stills those hands. Pulls You closer to rest against his chest. Tucks his head down onto his shoulder, hand on the back of his neck to keep him there.
You shakes his head, effectively rubbing his nose into Gackt’s sleep shirt. “Nothing really.” He wraps his around around the other man’s too thin waist. “Ren made sure you were asleep after your latest escape attempt.” Pulling his face away enough to look, he tacks on, “I guess they decided you’d learned to stay in bed.”
The resulting chuckle is felt more than heard. It vibrates low in Gackt’s chest as he finger combs the mess that has become of You’s hair. “Yeah, I can see th-”
A moan from the sofa cuts him off. Soft muttering soon follows. Quiet as can be, the two edge closer to investigate.
A half asleep Masa was patting around the cushions. For what wasn’t immediately clear. Until both men heard him mumble You’s name in confusion.
Sharing a look, both men gently eases his head up enough for You to slip back underneath. Masa instantly snuggles back against his thigh. Next to them, Chacha shifts enough to let his head fall onto You’s shoulder.
The soft, “You too, Gackt,” startles both vocalist and violinist. Squinting at the guitarist shows that he’s just awake enough to notice when Gackt doesn’t listen. “Doctor’s orders.”
“Only the doctor’s?” comes the light tease. Despite the lightness of his words, Gackt quickly settles himself at the other end of the sofa. Now he’s just as trapped as You, only by Masa’s legs. He grabs the spare blanket off the back of the sofa to wrap around his shoulders.
Letting the combined body heat of his band mates seep into his tired body, he slowly starts to drift off again. He manages a faint, “Maybe… Maybe I’ll cancel practice tomorrow.” His hand rests on top of Masa’s hip, thumb rubbing hypnotically against the soft blanket covering him. “Yes,” he hums, “That’s what I’ll do. We could all use a vacation, huh?”
The sudden silence bothers him enough to pull him away from the edge of slumber. Flopping his head to the side, he’s able to see that both You and Chacha have already fallen back asleep without him. Huffing out an amused breath, he shifts enough to lessen the pressure of Masa’s legs on top of his.
Settling back into a more comfortable position, head resting against the back of the sofa to stare straight ahead, a glint of light catches his eye. A sleepy smile appeared as he found the source.
Up on the mantle of his fireplace was an old photo. Behind the protective glass was his old band. Taken right after they’d realized how popular they’d become. All of them tipsy, smiling like loons at the photographer.
Their grinning faces follow him into sleep as the sun rises. The memories of holding Mana in his arms. Warmth on either side from Yu~ki and Kami. The weight of Kozi at his back.
Lie… Gently rip me up
Across the world, Mana was staring blankly at the same photo. It sits where it’s always sat: on his bedside table, clear view from the head of the bed. The ecstatic group stare right back at him. Mockingly. Like they knew all along how he was going to end up.
He lays back down on the bed. His mind registers, finally, all the aches and scratches and forming bruises. They force him to lay as still as possible.
Klaha had left nearly an hour ago. Mana hopes that he won’t come back tonight. He’s had enough of that to last him a lifetime and beyond.
Some nights, like tonight, he wonders why he’d accepted Klaha into his bed in the first place. Into the band was obvious: he has an amazing voice and an attractive face.
The nights where he stays, though… Those nights are worrisome. Pillow talk isn’t something Mana’s ready for with the other man. Klaha, on the other hand, has absolutely no problem with lazily chatting away. About anything that comes to mind.
Different thoughts on all the photos around Mana’s room. How people’s faces are changing, not from age, but from stress and hidden emotions. Random ideas for their next song - something less dark, something catchy.
‘There’s nothing I can do about it now,’ he thinks. He rolls onto his side, back to the photo. To the door. ‘I’ll talk to Kozi and Yu~ki tomorrow.’ Closing his eyes does nothing to block out the image imprinted on his brain. The phantom touch of Gackt’s hands on his hips follow him down into sleep.
Behind him the door swings open silently.
Dressed in only his robe, Klaha shuffles back to the bed he left only an hour ago. He lets his robe drop to the floor before climbing back into bed. The sheets are punishingly cool against his bare skin.
But that’s how the outwardly doll-like guitarist prefers it.
Oh so gently he positions himself along Mana’s equally bare front. Instantly he’s wrapped up in deceptively strong arms. Trapped within Mana’s embrace. Just like every other night since he was invited between those very same sheets.
Lips, clean of their lipstick and ever so slightly chapped, brush against his collarbone. Blunt nails flex along his back. He returns the embrace. Always, always returns it. Resting his chin on top of Mana’s bowed head, he locks eyes with his predecessor.
He can see the tight lines around everyone’s eyes. Even as they smile, hints of exhaustion form under their eyes and in the tight curve of their smiles.
He feels it. In a bone-deep sensation. Only half a year has passed and yet…
‘I’m beginning to see.’ Internally he’s fretting about their next practice. About how detailed and precise his movements are required. ‘I understand why you wanted to leave after so long. Why you craved your freedom.’
A leg wedges its way between his. Arms tighten around his ribs. Unintelligible muttering against his skin raises goosebumps. Despite how muffled the words are, he knows one thing:
That’s not anywhere close to his name. The sentiment behind them nothing like how Mana talks to him in the day.
He’s okay with it. Really. He doesn’t mind being a replacement. For now.
The dim lighting of the room plays tricks on his eyes. The faces in the photo shift. Gone are their smiles. They twist into grotesque frowns. Eyes narrow as he stares unblinking.
“Run,” they scream into his head. “Save yourself before it’s too late,” echoes around his skull as his eyes fall closed. “You can be free,” soaks into his blood, into his bones, as he’s held securely from shoulders to hips.
Softly embrace me
Pl-e-a-se save me