Disclaimers- I don't own Gravitaiton. Maki Murakaki, the publishers of the manga, and whoever put out the anime do. The song "Forever Young" was performed by Rod Stewart and written by Rod Stewart, J. Cregan, and K. Savigar. "Baba O'Riley (Teeange Wasteland)" was written and performed by The Who. Just a note: that second song there has an AMAZING guitar part, which was one reason why I chose it. (The lyrics were the main reason, as with every song in this fic.)
The Life of Shindou Shuichi: A Retrospective in Music
Written by A Guy Named Goo
Act 1: Forever Young/Teenage Wasteland
Only a hospital room could manage to be too quiet and too noisy at the same time. The soft beeping of the heart monitor, the whirring and clicking of the resperator the occaisonally bells and muffled voices of the call bells and public address system, and the muted typing of someone typing furiously on a laptop keyboard.
Only three people were in the hospital room: Yuki Eiri, Sakuma Ryuuichi, and Shindou Shuichi. K had been there, but he'd left to phone anyone who hadn't heard yet.
No one spoke. Yuki was typing frantically, hoping his fictional world would provide the escape he needed from the nightmare that was Shuichi on life support in front of him. It had effected him more than he thought it would when he'd recieved the call, being Shuichi's only emergency contact listed. They had told him that Shuichi was unconcious and that they couldn't gauge how much brain damage he had, if any, until he woke up. If he woke up. He'd actually gasped upon hearing that.
It wasn't until he was at the hospital when he found out what had actually happened, the details of the events having been pieced together by the bystanders: Shuichi had been seen by the whitnesses at a vending machine, purchasing cigarettes. He'd then waited at the crosswalk and crossed the street on his signal. A car then sped from around the corner and ran the red light, striking Shuichi. The car hit his legs first, but had been going at such a speed it had actually sent him tumbling over the hood and roof of the car, only to land behind it. It had almost been a hit and run, had the car not careened into a telephone pole not a kilometre away from the accident. It had been driven by a very drunk man who had already had his license revoked for driving drunk, and who was now in critical condition in ICU.
The damage was extensive. Both of his legs were broken, his right arm was horribly mangled and Yuki had overheard a doctor saying there was a possibility it would have to be amputated, his left wrist was broken, his right lung was collapsed, he had five broken ribs (one of which had punctured his left lung), he'd sprained his neck, and he'd slipped four vertibrae in his lower back that could result in permenant damage. He'd spent most of the day in surgery, both exploratory and corrective. When Yuki had asked the doctor if Shuichi would make it, the doctor had only told him that he'd seen people who'd been in worse shape and survived, and that it all depended on whether Shuichi woke up or not. Though stable, the doctors had stopped referring to him as being unconcious and officially stated that he was in a coma. Now, deep in his sleep, he was on life support and in traction. Even if he did wake up, he would have a lot of painful rehabilitation in front of him.
It was incredibly heartbreaking to see the usually genki and overemotional boy so broken and silent now, and though Yuki would never say it out loud, he was worried sick. As long as he hid behind his computer and kept working no matter what happened, he was the Yuki Eiri everyone knew and expected to see. If he showed his compassion then he would probably be admitted and checked for brain damage himself.
Yuki quickly looked up at Ryuuichi, who was huddled in a chair in the corner, clutching Kumagorou close to him, fast asleep. Yuki's first instinct had been to call Touma, but just as Shuichi had said, he was away. At his home there had been no answer except from his answering machine, and at his office his secretary had explained that he had left for the week to go to Los Angeles on buisness, and he had taken Mika with him, though on Yuki's insistance that there was a major emergency that required the immediate attention of NG's president the secretary had promised to try her best to get a hold of him. Not sure who else to call, he'd dialed the number of the cell phone of Bad Luck's manager and explained the situation. Because K had had Ryuuichi with him at the time, the permenant man-child that was the former Nittle Grasper lead singer had accompanied him. This had proven to be a mistake in itself, because as soon as Ryuuichi saw Shuichi hooked up to so many machines it had proven to be too much for his fragile psyche, and he'd broken down into tears and sobbed continuiously on his beloved stuffed rabbit until he fell asleep.
The door opened and closed. Yuki didn't look up. If he looked up, he would seem interested, and the truth was he didn't want to speak to anyone right then. The other, whoever it was, didn't seem to want to speak, either. A few moments passed in complete silence.
"This is your fault isn't it, you bastard?" the voice of the one who had entered snarled. Yuki barely glanced up from his computer long enough to see the rage-filled face of Nakano Hiroshi. He looked down and kept typing.
"Sure, go ahead, ignore everything's that happening!" Hiro continued. "Just keep on working. Of course it doesn't matter that Shuichi could die as long as Yuki Eiri can keep on writing is little love stories! Everything's just peachy in Yuki-land, isn't it?!"
Yuki threw a glance at Ryuuichi. The only sign that the other man was alive at all was he twitched slightly in his sleep. Sighing, he saved his writing, preparing for Hiro to do something like take his computer away or throw it in his rage.
"And I bet this was your fault! I bet you were being a heartless bastard again and he ran crying into the streets again and then this happened! Is that happened, Yuki Eiri?! Dammit, answer me!"
"Kind of hard to answer you if you don't shut up," was Yuki's retort. He saw Hiro's hand curl into a fist. He could have sworn he also heard him grit his teeth. "If you must know, he left the house in a fairly good mood, as far as I can tell. He had to go to the store for something. The most I did was I told him to pick up a pack of cigarettes for me. I even gave him the money for them. He didn't run in front of the car. I don't think he's stupid enough to pull that stunt twice. He was walking on the crosswalk, obeying the traffic signal, and a drunk driver struck him. I was not involved in any way." In actuallity, he was consumed with an overwhelming feeling of guilt. If he had not ordered Shuichi to get cigarettes for him- an errand he knew Shuichi absolutely loathed- he wouldn't have been at that particular crosswalk and he wouldn't have gotten hit. But he wasn't going to tell Hiro that. He was doing a fine enough job of beating himself up without Hiro aiding him in the process.
"So you are going to keep your head burried in that laptop?!" Hiro shouted. "I thought even you had more compassion than that! Your boyfriend is nearly killed and you work! You really are a heartless bastard!"
Yuki saved his writing again and closed his laptop, setting it on the bedside table and leaning back in the chair, crossing his legs. He really needed a cigarette then, but that was the least of his concerns.
"What about him?" he asked, gesturing to the corner were Ryuuichi was sleeping his a jerk of his head. "Why don't you wake him up and tell him that he's being a heartless bastard because he's not keeping a twenty-four hour vigil? Then when you do, you can sit back and listen to him sob for four hours straight like I had to. Why don't you try to call everyone you know to tell them that he might die? Then, when you're done, you can sit in here for 12 hours waiting to see if he comes out of surgery alive, and then listen to his life support beeping and whirring for hours on end. Yes, Nakano Hiroshi, I am a heartless bastard who doesn't care at all. I did all that precisely because I don't care. Forgive me for getting sick of sitting in here with only the sound of machines for company and deciding to do a little work to keep me from going absolutely insane."
Hiro was staring at Ryuuichi in the corner. He seemed geniunely surprised to see him sitting there. Before Hiro could say anything, the door opened again. K walked in with a cup of coffee and took the empty seat next to Ryuuichi.
"Took you long enough," Yuki snorted.
"Sorry. I had to go home to get some...things in order. Plus Sakano needed a ride. He nearly had a heart attack when I told him, but can you expect any less from him? Anyway, he's downstairs now getting checked out because he fainted twice and won't stop hyperventaliting. I think this could be the one that does him in. Oh, and Suguru's here, too. He's waiting to see if Sakano is going to snap out of this one." He stopped to take a sip of his coffee. "Oh, and I got a hold of Touma. He has a number in case of emergencies. Gave it to all of the members of Nittle Grasper. I found it in Ryuuichi's address book. He was in the middle of a meeting, but he said he'd get on a plane and head back as soon as it was over. Kept asking me if Shuichi was all right and if he would be able to work again any time soon. I couldn't tell if he was worried about Shuichi, the lost revenue of him being here, or something else." K glanced at Yuki then, something that Hiro didn't pick up on. "So, anyway, what do we do now?"
"Exactly what we have been doing," Yuki sighed. "We wait."
Shuichi looked around. The room was dim, but large. It appeared to be a theatre of some kind, but all of the plush red seats were empty. He looked up at the stage. A screen lowered, and with a flicker a silent film began. A familiar image started it: a pink-haired baby, about a year old. Shuichi paused and watched the film some more. Seamlessly, the film moved to a scene of him, about 3 years old, with his sister.
Swallowing, he began to walk toward the screen. He looked at the seats again. In the front row, on his left, was an aisle seat. The entire row was empty, except for a card resting in that one seat. It was white, and in gold lettering it read "Seat Reserved for Shindou Shuichi". Hestitantly, Shuichi sat down in the seat, lifting up the card. He was about to put it on the floor when it suddenly vanished.
A great whooshing sound filled the theatre. Looking behind him, the theatre was suddenly packed with people. Not just any people, Shuichi quickly realized. People he knew. Childhood and adulthood friends, teachers, classmates, employers, family members, casual acquainences, and one row that at first he didn't recognize, but he then realized were the people who had been surrounding him when he got hit. He looked in the row next to him. Sitting along the line were more important people. Next to him was K, then Touma, then Mika, then Yuki, then Hiro, the Suguru, then Sakano, then, at the very end, he realized with a sudden, overwhelming feeling of dread, was Aizawa. He wondered where Ryuuichi was.
On the screen were scenes of him at age 6. Music began to play, softly at first, but then it began to get louder. A familiar voice began to sing then.
"May the Good Lord be with you/Down every road you roam/And may sunshine and happiness/Surround you when you're far from home," Ryuuichi's voice sang. Once again Shuichi scanned the room for him, but couldn't find him. Only his voice.
"And may you grow to be proud/Dignified and true/And do unto others/As you'd have done to you," Ryuuichi's voice continued.
"Wh-what is this?" Shuichi suddenly gasped. Everyone in the row he was sitting in suddenly leaned forward to stare at him, causing him to lean back further in his seat.
The song continued, being played by an invisable band and sung by the invisable Ryuuichi. "Be courageous and be brave/And in my heart you'll always stay/Forever young, forever young/Forever young, forever young...."
Suddenly, Touma smiled wamly at Shuichi. "Good. You made it. And just in time. The show is about to start."
"Of course," Mika confirmed. "You should know. You're the star."
"What show?!" Shuichi cried out.
The song continued to play. "May good fortune be with you/May your guiding light be strong/Build a stairway to heaven/With a prince or vegabond..."
"Your show," Hiro told him.
"You died," K continued.
"Actually, you didn't really die. Not yet, anyway," Yuki corrected.
Suguru leaned forward. "There's been a mistake. You shouldn't have died yet."
"So now we are here to reinact your life," Sakano picked up.
"And when we are done, you get to choose whether you continue your life or not," Aizawa concluded.
"B-But of course I want to live!" Shuichi cried. "Why are you all doing this?"
Ryuuichi's voice was still singing. On the screen Shuichi was now 12. "And may you never love in vain/And in my heart you will remain/Forever young, forever young/Forever young, forever young/Forever young/Forever young...."
"Are you so sure, Shuichi?" Touma asked.
"Think really hard about your life," Yuki instructed.
"Has it really been all that great? Do you want to return to it?" Suguru asked him.
"We are using a medium that has meant much to your life to retell it, and hopefully things will be put in perspective," Mika continued.
"And when you finally fly away/I'll be hoping that I served you well/For all the wisdom of a lifetime/No one can ever tell..." Ryuuchi continued. In the film Shuichi was now about 15.
"But why are you guys here if I'm dead?" Shuichi asked nervously, his voice suddenly very small.
"We aren't actually the people you know," Touma explained. "We are actors portraying them in the show."
"Obviously, if we are going to reinact your life, we have to be in the costumes of the players in your real life," Hiro continued.
"So what are you really, then, if you're not people?" Shuichi pressed, not liking this one bit.
"Actors," they all said in unison.
"But whatever road you choose/I'm right behind you, win or lose/Forever young, forever young/Forever young, forever young/Forever young, forever young/For, Forever young, Forever young...." Ryuuichi's voice faded, and the music abruptly ended, as did the film. Shuichi, in the film was about 17, just about the walk on stage before the first live perfomance of his life when the film suddenly stopped. The lights began to turn on, and everyone began to stand up and walk back stage.
"Wait! Where are you going?!" Shuichi cried, leaping to his face.
K turned back and looked at Shuichi, smiling. "Same place you're going. On stage."
"B-but why?!" Shuichi exclaimed.
"Because you're the star of the show," Mika repeated.
"And the first act is about to begin," Ryuuchi's voice announced as a spotlight shown on him from his place next to the screen. The curtain fell suddenly, and Shuichi had a very bad feeling about what that could symbolise...
Shuichi had been in a coma for four days.
The doctors had assured everyone that as long as there was some brain activity then there was still hope, but everyone present was still worried.
Touma had showed up (along with Mika) the morning after the accident. He had demanded to know the details of both the accident and the singer's condition. When he found out the man who had hit Shuichi was in the same hospital, he had suddenly gone quiet. Everyone knew that usually meant he was quietly seething, plotting his revenge. It was something Aizawa could certainly attest to.
Ryuuichi was finally able to contain his grief without the aide of sedatives, unlike the first two days, but he still had a death grip on Kumagorou. Yuki still worked most of the time, occaisonally slipping out for a cigarette or to get some food or something to drink. The others usually took turns leaving the hospital to get take-out for everyone, since they couldn't stomach hospital food. They wondered how Yuki could, but decided that years of chain-smoking and casual drinking had dulled his tastebuds. That, or he simply didn't care.
Yuki wasn't the only one working out of the hospital room. Touma had ordered all calls be re-routed to his cell phone so that he could keep working, and often went into the hall to take calls. So far he had also conducted two meeting on speaker-phone from inside the hospital. A few times the doctors had told him not to use his phone inside the hospital, but Touma didn't listen. He was the president of NG Records, after all, a very powerful man who had someone with a magnum he wasn't afraid to use working for him and sitting right behind the door.
After yet another hour of awkward silence passed, Touma returned to the room, having finished yet another call. He was holding a cup of coffee as he took his seat between Yuki and Mika, which was, unbeknounst to the others in the room, a very awkward place for him.
"What do you think he's dreaming about?" Ryuuichi said quietly at last. Everyone glanced over at him, waiting for him to repeat himself, but he didn't.
"What do you mean by that?" K asked at last.
"Well, you can't be asleep for this long without dreaming about something," Ryuuichi clearified. Though outloud he only referred to Shuichi's condition as "sleeping" and, the few times he did talk about it, and seemed to be treating it childishly, everyone present knew that he understood the full magnitude of the situation at hand, and that regressing more and pretending he didn't helped him to cope with it.
"I guess we won't know until he wakes up," Hiro said after a few moments of uncomfortable silence passed.
The stage, as if by magic, changed from a movie screen to a strangely familiar set-up and place. Shuichi quickly realized it was where he had performed for the first time in his life on stage two years ago, at a Battle of Bands.
"This is where Hiro and I first performed as Bad Luck," Shuichi said out loud. He turned around and saw that the actor Hiro was wearing the same outfit the real Hiro had been that night. Looking down at his own clothes, he saw they had also changed to what he had been wearing that night. "We didn't win, but that night we met Sakano. He said that he worked for NG Records and that they were looking for new talent. He's the one that convinced Seguchi Touma to sign us in the first place. Even after we almost gave him a heart attack on several occasions he still thought we had potential and kept trying to show us to Touma. Bad Luck wouldn't be where it is today if it hadn't been for that first concert...."
Hiro nodded. "It's almost time for the curtain to rise. Remember that the music fits the scene, but isn't from the scene. Just let to words come to you naturally."
Wondering what Hiro meant by that, Shuichi took his place at the mic stand and picked up the mic. Hiro picked up his guitar, and suddenly the curtain raised. The audience couldn't be seen, but he heard the same clapping that he had heard at that concert.
Suddenly, a synthesizer began to play, and Hiro played a guitar rift that seemed at the same time to be completely unknown to him yet already etched into his mind.
Finally, Shuichi knew he was at his cue to sing. Unfamiliar came to his mind and then out of his mouth.
"Out here in the fields/I fight for my meals/I get my back into my living/I don't need to fight/To prove I'm right/I don't need to be forgiven..." Shuichi sang passionately.
A guitar solo began, and Shuichi was suddenly overcome with an excited, joyful feeling. Finally, the instrumentals ended and he sang into the microphone again.
"Don't cry/Don't raise your eye/It's only teenage wasteland!" he sang. He quickly realized the feeling he was experiencing was the same feeling he had had that night. He sang not because it was profitable or because of the fame. He sang for the joy of singing back then.
"Sally ,take my hand/Travel south crossland/Put out the fire/Don't look past my shoulder/The exodus is here/The happy ones are near/Let's get together/Before we get much older," he sang, and as the words sank in he began to realize what actor Hiro's cryptic words had meant. The song was, indeed, about the situation he had been living in before the concert changed everything.
"Teenage wasteland/It's only teenage wasteland/Teenage wasteland/Oh, oh/Teenage wasteland/They're all wasted!" Shuichi finished. Hiro finished the guitar solo, and the crowd was cheering, just like that night. Just as suddenly as the curtain had raised, it fell, just like instead of being lowered manually someone had just untied the rop and let it drop to the floor.
"The first act is over," Hiro said, putting the guitar on the stage. I promptly disappeared, and Shuichi realized his mic stand was gone, too.
"That was great!" he exclaimed. "That felt-"
"Just like that night?" Hiro finished. "We don't just recreate the scenes of your life, Shuichi, we recreate the feelings that came with them. Otherwise you won't understand the impact of the event. It's through the songs that we tell the story, but it's through your own feelings that you absorb what those things meant. Still mean."
"And now," Touma said, stepping forward. "It's time for the second act."
~End of Act 1~