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Blue on Blue

Chapter Two: You Can Call Me Un-perfect

Rating: PG

Soundtrack: Selfish - Nsync

Masato was tucking his phone back into his pocket when he felt the stares of six pairs of eyes on him. He looked up and noted that none of the gazes was in any remote way of a friendly nature. Even Aijima looked disappointed. Strangely, that look bothered him more than the others.

"I don't wish to talk about it," he said peremptorily. He was already humiliated that he couldn't restrain himself from trying to talk to her; he didn't want to have to explain anything to the others.

"Oh, you're gonna talk about it," Syo growled, pushing up his sleeves. "Or I'm going to rearrange your teeth so you can't talk about anything."

Well, this was an unfortunate turn of events. "You can try," Masato said before he could bite back his retort. The last thing he needed was to alienate his bandmates. That would just complete his hopelessness. With that, he might as well crawl on his knees back to his father and submit.

"Brave words, considering the fact that the Little Lamb is crying in her room because of you," Ren said smoothly. "You think we're going to let that slide?"

"It's none of your business, Jinguji."

"Everything about Haruka is our business, Hijirikawa. Didn't I tell you not to mess this up?"

"I didn't-,"

"Then why is she an emotional mess?" Tokiya spat. At that, Masato allowed himself a flinch.

"It is a personal matter," Masato tried, though he knew inside that his explanation was too weak to give it speech.

"You know what's going to be a personal matter?" Syo said, as he began advancing on Masato. "The condition of your face when I'm done."

"Well, you don't really want to mark up his face," Otoya suddenly said, "Shining-sama will kill you."

"There are other things I can mark," Syo offered.

"What is going on here?"

The members of STARISH froze and turned in unison from their target. Syo was the first to respond to Camus' question, growling as he turned back to Masato, who had his back pressed against the door and a rigid glare in his eyes.

"I'm trying to decide whether it would be easier to break Hijirikawa's teeth or snap his neck for him." He cracked his knuckles, looking as if he would be happy to do either.

Masato's eyes narrowed slightly, almost daring him.

"Why would you injure Hijirikawa?" Mikase Ai asked, tilting his head.

Wincing slightly, Natsuki looked over at his senpai. "He made Haru-chan cry."

"Whaaat?"

Everyone stopped in their tracks and watched as, for the first time since they'd met him, Reiji actually frowned. Displeasure touched every part of his expression, from the thunderclouds in his gray eyes to his drawn, pinched lips. "You made Haruka cry?" he asked slowly moving forward to stare at Masato. "Oh, Ma-chan, that is not a good thing." Even though he was shorter than Masato, the younger man was eerily intimidated.

As much as he would prefer leaving the conversation a dead thing on the ground, Masato was not backing down, despite the odds quickly stacking against him. "None of you know anything about it," he grated out, his fists clenched at his sides. He kept his expression utterly closed.

"Humph," Otoya said, expressionlessly. Masato looked away from him.

"None of this is making sense to me," Ai, the cold voice of reason, cut through the tension in a way only he could. "Can someone explain?"

Syo backed away from Masato, allowing the other man to move from the door and toward the sofas.

"While you are doing that," and he gave Masato a meaningful look, "I am going to check on Haruka," Otoya said, pushing through them and whipping the door open.

"Leave it alone, Itokki," Masato said.

"I can't," Ittoki answered, slamming the door behind him.

Once he was gone, the others turned their attention back to Masato. "So?" Ai asked again. "Why is Haruka unhappy? What did you do?"

Masato cleared his throat and sat up straight, folding his hands in his lap. He would give them the bare facts, leaving the underlying details close to his chest. "The… relationship we had has unfortunately come to an end."

Silence fell over the group.

"She is naturally upset."

While some looked stunned and shocked at the word relationship, and others looked as if they could happily hang Masato out of a moving jet plane without a parachute, Ai processed the information. "You were closer to Nanami than the others, correct?" At Masato's stiff nod. "And now that is not so?" Masato nodded again. "Why?"

"It is a… private concern."

"Tch," Tokiya spat. "It isn't a private matter when it affects Haruka so thoroughly that she cannot sit through her own birthday breakfast," he informed his bandmate.

"He's right," Ranmaru cut in, crossing his arms. "If Haruka cannot function because her emotions are unstable, we will all suffer for it."

Camus curled his lip. "This is why there is a prohibition against personal relationships within the agency. Idiots."

Masato looked at his tightly clutched hands, trying unsuccessfully to hide the flush in his cheeks. They were all right.

"You lost the privilege of privacy," Reiji cut in, "when you treated her so heartlessly."

Masato's head whipped up, glaring at the older man. He could feel and see his band mates' surprise at his expression; none of them had ever seen such a profound anger in the young man's eyes before. Every part of him screamed outraged denial.

Mikaze Ai, perceptive as ever, too sensed the change and raised a hand, calling for attention. "I don't believe things are quite as obvious as they seem," he said quietly.

"No," Ren cut in, giving his roommate a long look. "They're not." He leaned forward, trying to pin Masato with his eyes. "Private matter? When you say it like that, you usually mean it's a Hijirikawa matter."

"Leave it, Jinguji," Masato warned through slightly clenched teeth.

"Is it your family?"

"I said leave it!"

Ren shrugged and leaned back. "I'm afraid I can't do that, Hijirikawa," he smirked. "The lady's feelings are very important to me, and if your family had anything to do with her upset, I'm not going to sit by and let it happen."

Masato fought with himself for an eternity, and then looked away. "There's nothing anyone can do."

"So you left her because your family had objections?" Ranmaru asked. "Coward."

]o[

"What?" Tomochika gaped at Otoya in the middle of the hallway. She was on her way to join them for Haruka's birthday when Otoya stopped her, shaking his head and explaining the bare bones of the situation. "She dumped him?"

Otoya shrugged. "I know. It's insane. I'm going to see if I can talk some sense into her."

"I'm going with you," Tomo turned and allowed Otoya take her arm as they sought out Haruka in her room. "This is unbelievable. Why would she do such a stupid thing? Do you even know how much Haruka is in love with Hijirikawa?"

Otoya threw Tomo a look. "Apparently you do," he muttered with a small smile. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Why didn't you tell me until now that she was idiotic?"

"Touché, Tomo-chan."

"I got your touché, honey. We certainly have to coordinate better than this if we're going to do this busybody thing properly." She waved her hand. "Do I have to teach you everything?"

"Ah, Tomo-chan…"

They found Haruka drowsing on her stomach across her bed, the crystal piano set beside her head. Tomo sat beside her, and Otoya knelt on the floor near her head. They both took in her puffy face, the hitch in her breath and the fact that her hand was still touching Masato gift. Tomo gasped quietly and shook her by her shoulder gently, trying to wake her.

"Mmmm…" Haruka's eyes flickered open, still slightly swollen and red from her tears. "Tomo-ch-chan?" she husked, sitting up.

"I heard, Haru-chan," Tomo said, rubbing her friend's back gently. "I'm so sorry…"

"Nanami, you can't let this happen," Otoya jumped right in feet first. "Masa-kun could care less about what his father thinks! Didn't he tell you that?"

Haruka put her fingers to his lips. "I don't believe him," she said.

"Has he ever lied to you?" Otoya asked. He watched that argument die in Haruka's eyes.

"I can't let him do that, Ittoki-kun," she said. "He can't sacrifice everything… for me." The tears were rushing to her eyes again and Tomochika gave Otoya a look that pled with him to shut up.

Otoya shook his head. "It should be his choice how he deals with his family. I know he cares deeply for you. He thinks he hides it so well, but I can tell."

"He's not thinking straight," Haru said as tears flooded her cheeks. "And if he continues in this way, his father will disown him. He'll be left with nothing." She looked at Tomochika. "You understand why I can't let him do that, right?"

]o[

"I don't believe you," Tokiya said after Natsuki and Syo managed to wrestle Masato away from Ranmaru before he could throw a punch. "Seems like a convenient excuse to me."

"I believe him," Cecil said. "He would not hurt Haruka like that."

Masato blinked in disbelief at Cecil. How did he do that?

"So, she ended the relationship," Ai said matter-of-factly, "because your father would not approve."

"His father would approve no one not chosen by himself," Ren grumbled. "That man is as cold as a glacier and as hard headed as a marble statue. It makes him an admirable businessman but a terrible father."

"I told her that it didn't matter," Masato said quietly, a flat layer of bleakness coloring his voice. "She wouldn't listen." He gave a short, bitter laugh. "My parents know nothing about her. Nor does my father's opinion in this matter signify."

"Haru-chan is more stubborn than we give her credit for," Natsuki observed.

"Once she gets something in her mind, not much can change it," Syo added.

"You'll have to show her in a way that she can't ignore," Cecil commented thoughtfully.

"More important is," Camus cut in, "why did Saotome allow this to happen? He has strict rules against romance in the agency. One word from him and this would have ended before it even started."

That reminder made Masato want to punch a wall. If it is such a crime, then punish me, he thought. He was so close to not caring it was alarming.

Camus gave Masato a censorious look. "She would not have become so… emotionally invested."

Masato resented that. "As if I am not… emotionally invested?" he demanded.

"Or physically invested ne?" Reiji said with a twist of his lips, obviously fishing for more information. The anger left his eyes, to be replaced by an oddly calculating look.

The silence in the room was complete, and Masato felt unease trip down his spine as everyone turned and looked at him in unison. Masato leaned back, retreating from the mass glare. "Ph-physically?" he sputtered. "That's not—I mean-,"

"Hmm," Reiji lowered his eyes and tapped his fingers on his knees. "So it hasn't gone that far yet?"

"Absolutely not!" Masato practically shouted, his deep voice bouncing off all four walls. "I would never compromise Nanami in such a dishonorable way! That you would even consider-,"

Ren chuckled. "Now, that's the Hijirikawa I wanted to see," he said. He slapped his hands on his knees and stood. "The pathetic shadow look does not suit you at all." He gave his friend an inquisitive look. "So. This heartache is not your idea. Are you ready to fix it?"

Masato frowned. "How will I do that? She has made her feelings perfectly clear."

"The girl can be an obstinate little thing," Ranmaru grunted.

Ai said quietly. "It is obvious that her feelings are at odds with her actions. You need to figure out a way to make them coincide."

He'd tried everything. Haruka managed to avoid anything other than strict business at every juncture. "Again, how do I do that?" Masato moved toward a window. "She won't speak to me about this."

He gave them (could he really call them his friends?) an inquisitive look. He was at a loss; if they could come up with a solution, he would consider it.

It was all he could do at this point. He hadn't realized that, once he let his feelings for her out of their self-imposed cage, that it would be so painful to put them back.

He'd spent the first night in a soft haze; disbelief and denial clouding everything he did. Sleep had been elusive as he tried to think of some way to convince her to change her mind. The next three days were recording days; he had no time to consider his feelings. After that, every attempt was in vain. He could see the pain in her eyes, but he couldn't stop himself from trying.

The last text, just a few moments previous, had been the last thing he could think of.

"You need to supply her with the data that is missing from her mental equation," Mikaze said suddenly, as if it should have been obvious to anyone.

Of course, it should have been obvious, Masato thought. If he'd been thinking straight, he would have found it obvious.

Haruka didn't know the whole story.

"Data, hmmm?" Ren said. "That gives me an idea."

Masato did not like the sound of that. He recalled that, as children, when Ren said he had an idea, it never ended well. He had no indication that this time would be any different.

He realized then that he was completely out of his element.