Disclaimer- Ah, yes. The elusive disclaimer makes it’s grand return as I have even MORE things that aren’t mine to disclaim: "Never Ever" was written and performed by Ayumi Hamasaki. For the maximum effect of this song and for it to be relevant to Amai then listen to the Jonathan Peters Radio Mix (it’s more keyboard/synth based than the original and in all more Amai). "Nan Ren Ku Ba Bu Shi Zui" was written and performed by Andy Lau. (It’s kind of hard to find, but SO worth it.) "In Your Wildest Dreams" is performed by the Moody Blues and written by Justin Hayward. Lyrics and translations were obtained from A-YU-MILLENNIUM ("http://ayumi.yoll.net/lyrics.html") for "Never Ever" and Ting Dong Chinese and Japanese Lyrics ("http://www.powersugoi.net/tingdong/") for "Nan Ren Ku Ba Bu Shi Zui". (I wrote down the lyrics to "In Your Wildest Dreams" myself. It might not sound very Gravi-like, but I LOVE the lyrics.) And that’s enough disclaiming for one day other than to say Gravi and it’s characters: not mine. Original characters: mine (unless otherwise noted in previous chapters).

Note- The set-up of this chapter is a bit unusual. Every other scene (starting with the first) is a flashback sequence, and then the other scenes are part song-fic. Hopefully when you see it used it comes together. This one focuses around Tokui, but I plan to do something similar for Quon Yue later in the fic. BTW, if you are reading this at FF.N the Heart's Fašade website is already up (with character bios and hidden spoilers as well as other goodies) at "http://www31.brinkster.com/gravific/index.htm". (The layout kind of sucks now, but I'll fix it soon enough.)

Heart’s Fašade

Chapter Ten: Remembering and Forgetting

Written by A Girl Named Goo

*Hisss...pop...hisss...pop.*

The respirator's morbid beat filled the small hospital room, contrasting with the images of clowns, cartoon characters, and other happy, bright colored murals that someone had painted onto the wall in an effort to distract people from the fact they were, indeed, in a hospital, a place where as many people took their last breaths as their first.

*Hisss...pop...hisss...pop.*

That one machine was currently the only thing keeping the small boy in the middle of the bed, so utterly alone in the room, alive and breathing. Chances were no one knew he was awake yet, as the tube in his throat prevented him from speaking and he was too weak to find the button that would summon an orderly. Instead he kept his golden gaze fixed up at the ceiling. It wouldn't be the first time he was left alone in the hospital room with only his imagination to keep him company. At least it was better than having to hear tittering nurses and insensitive kids asking him questions that he wouldn't have answered even if he could. In his four short years he had already decided that people weren't worth the time or the effort.

He was dimly aware of the door to his room opening, but he couldn't sit up to see who it was. He was sure that whoever it was would make themselves known soon enough, as was usually the case with his visitors. He closed his eyes, hoping that if it was someone annoying they would believe he was asleep and leave. That, or think he was in a coma when he refused to "wake up" and be questioned. It'd happened before.

"You can go right in, Yuki-san," a female voice said. "I think he's still asleep, but he should be waking up soon. I'm sure he'll be happy to see you."

Tokui's eyes flew open, a gesture that, if anyone had noticed it, would have given away that he wasn't really asleep. His uncle was the only welcome visitor for him, even if he couldn't talk to him. The older man looked like him and probably knew what it was like to have people asking if he was foreign, usually not to his face. But more importantly, the man never spoke. His company was more than enough, and words often spoiled moments that were fine on their own.

Yuki looked down at the boy in the bed, who would have smiled if it weren’t for the tube in his mouth. A tiny smile quirked on the corner of the man's mouth as he sat down in the chair next to the bed, putting the case he had with him on the small table next to the bed. He opened it and pulled out his laptop, finding an outlet for it by unplugging a lamp and switching it on. While the computer booted up he looked down at the boy again, who was staring up at him with large golden eyes, eyes filled with a mixture of sadness and excitement. He reached over and smoothed down his little nephew's hair before resuming his work on his computer.

There were a few tittering nurses in the doorway, and their hushed conversation floated into the room.

"He's so handsome!"

"Do you know who that is?"

"Who?"

"Yuki Eiri, the novelist."

"He's better looking than I ever could have imagined!"

"Is he foreign? I've never seen people with coloring like that before..."

"I don't know. Do you think that's his son in the bed? They look alike."

"I heard that's his nephew."

"But they look so much alike. Did he have an affair?"

"I doubt it. That's his sister's son."

"It's so nice of him to come and visit. That boy never has any visitors."

Yuki glanced at the boy again, who was soundlessly staring back up at him, tubes in his mouth and throat with more tubes and wires coming from various parts of his body, taking care of every bodily function so that all Tokui had to do was live, no more, no less. Tokui, had he been old enough to understand what he saw, would have realized the strange look in his uncle's otherwise icy stare was pity. Pity for the miserable existence this child lived, pity for the tittering nurses and the shameless children.

But the look he got in return for his pity filled gaze was nothing but love and admiration, a look that broke his heart. No, this boy was his son, but he often found himself wishing he was....

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"What the hell is this?!" Hiro fumed, holding up the memo in his hand.

"Well, Mr. Suit, I don't know what they call it in these parts but where I'm from that's called a piece of paper," Quon Yue answered, lighting a cigarette (with a disposable lighter instead of a match, Hiro noticed). He was wearing the white shirt he had borrowed from Hiro with a pair of black jeans and black sneakers, probably the most modest outfit Hiro had ever seen him wear. His hair was in a French braid, however, with the silver and dark blue strands separated perfectly as they intertwined. Hiro noted he must have dyed his hair nightly, because his roots never showed.

"I mean what's on it, smartass. And where'd you get a lighter?"

"I had an unexpected payoff yesterday and bought it. Not as messy as matches, and it won't burn any carpets. And I am not sure what's on the paper. Enlighten me."

Hiro sighed and decided not to ask how he came about money. "According to this note you took it upon yourself to fire your session pianist. For no reason. Now she wants Seguchi-san to keep paying her for work she's not doing until she gets another job and Seguchi-san is taking it out of my pay."

"Sucks to be you."

Hiro threw down the paper with a loud *SMACK* that actually caused Quon Yue to jump. "Do you ever stop to think of someone else besides yourself? You just skid through life day by day, taking advantage of everyone you meet, and then you have the nerve to insult them to their face. Well, you know what? I don't care if you're poor or if you were raised wrong. You are going to find your own damn pianist and you are going to pay for the old one, because I am your manager, not your damn father!"

Quon Yue's eyes were wide and violet, but when they shifted to bright blue Hiro knew he was in trouble. "Make me," he said simply. "The bill is in your name, and Seguchi loves to see you crawl so he won't send it to me. If you send it to me and I don't pay, you're the one who gets in trouble." He took another drag from his cigarette. "Law of the jungle, Mr. Suit: always look out for number one. And for your information, I know exactly what I'm doing."

"If you have some great plan, I'd like to hear it, because I don't give a shit how talented you are and I don't care if Seguchi wins in the end anymore, I am ready to quit and let you torment some other manager," Hiro spat out hatefully.

"I don't like that pianist. She's no good," he said smoothly, taking another drag from his cigarette. "You might not hear it because you don't play piano, and the average listener probably won't hear it, but I hear it and it bothers me. So I want a new pianist. I want Seguchi Tokui."

It took a moment for Hiro to register what Quon Yue had just told him. Then he sighed and looked down at the memo beneath his hand. "You are absolutely nuts, you know that? Tokui cannot and will not perform for ANYONE, not even you. I know that you went behind my back and made friends with him somehow and I know everyone thinks you are a miracle worker, but you are asking him to do something most normal people won't even do."

"I think I can do it," Quon Yue affirmed, smashing his cigarette out on the corner of the table and throwing it into a trashcan.

"Well, if you're going to do it then you'd damn well better do it soon. I've got you booked to go on stage with Seguchi Amai and Neo Grasper in two days. Which, by the way, Seguchi was not pleased by that but since Shuichi booked the date his hands were tied. You should thank Shuichi for sticking his neck out for you."

"When have I ever taken anything Shindou-san does for granted? And I will have Tokui playing the piano. I'd be willing to bet anything on it," Quon Yue told him, his eyes turning sky blue as his face took on a look of conviction Hiro had yet to see on him.

Hiro stopped for a moment to think about this. "I'm calling your bet. If I lose and you get Tokui to play the piano at your concert I'll give you whatever you want and I'll pay for the bills for the session pianist without any more complaints. But if I win, then you have to personally invite that session pianist back and pay for her salary. Deal?"

Quon Yue's eyes turned bright blue as he nodded, a smile tugging on the corners of his mouth. "All right. It's a deal."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As a rule, Tokui wasn't supposed to leave the hospital bed. If he got exposed to anything the incision where his feeding tube was could get infected, and his portable oxygen tank was heavy and would have to be dragged, thus further inviting danger. But by some fluke he had lived to see age five, and he wasn't going to let little things like this bother him as he stood up, sliding into the slippers next to his bed.

The door to his room was closed, but only because the nurses thought he was taking a nap. He'd actually faked his exhaustion, tired of all the kids who had nothing better to do than to go into his room and ask him questions he didn't want to answer: "What's wrong with you?" "How long have you been here?" "Where's your parents?" "Why is your hair that color?" "Why are your eyes that weird color?" "Are you Japanese?" "Who is that man that comes here to see you?"

Not wanting to scrape his oxygen tank and cause the catastrophe that the nurses had warned him about, he also took his blanket off the bed and put it on the floor, putting the oxygen tank on it. He dragged his tank in this fashion over to the door and looked outside it. The only nurse he could see was walking in the opposite direction from his door and couldn't see him.

There was a supply closet near here. He'd seen nurses going in there countless times as he watched them from this very doorway before they scolded him and put him back into his bed. He wasn't used to walking and was a little awkward on his feet, but he was sure he could make it such a short distance before anyone caught him and put him back into his bed.

As soon as the nurse disappeared into another room he made his move, darting as quickly as he could while toting his oxygen tank to the closet. He opened the door to the closet, slipped in and pulled in his oxygen tank, and shut the door behind him, panting for a few moments as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He was surprised when he saw, on the other side of the closet, a boy already sitting there. He was wearing the thin pajamas that all the sick kids wore, and though he was very thin he was still taller than Tokui. He had no hair, and his eyes were large and dark as they looked at the unexpected visitor in alarm.

"Nurses poking and prodding you?" the boy asked. Tokui just gaped at him, so the boy averted his gaze down to the oxygen tank. "Wow, you must be really sick. Didn't that make an awful racket dragging it, though?"

Tokui shook his head. "I...pulled it on the blanket," he said, holding up the corner.

The boy stood and walked toward Tokui, but appeared to be examining the oxygen tank. "Ordinarily I'd tell you to get lost like every other kid that finds his way in here, but you look like you could be a good citizen of Closet World." He boy went back to the back of the closet and sat down again. "Yes, a very good citizen. Maybe better than me. By the way, my name is Hinoiri. Sucky name, I know. What's yours?"

Tokui slowly approached the boy who called himself Hinoiri. "Tokui," he said softly.

"Heh. And I thought I'd die without finding a name worse than mine. Thanks for giving me that. So, whatcha in for?"

Tokui shrugged, sitting down across from him. "Lots of stuff. I was born here and I never left."

Hinoiri nodded appreciatively. "And someone whose spent more time here than me. I'd better watch my job as Chief Outcast of Closet World."

"Closet World?"

"Why did you come in here?"

Tokui blushed. "The other kids wouldn't stop asking me questions I didn't want to answer because I look weird."

"Perfect citizen. Closet World is a place for people that the people out there don't want or think are weird. In here everyone's weird, and no matter how strange what you say is everyone believes you. No one out there believes that I am half-alien and I am actually dying because the atmosphere is too dense on Earth, but here they're trying to call my home planet to come get me and save me."

"You're an...alien?" Tokui asked, taking deep breaths from his mask. His eyes were wide with interest. He'd never met an alien before.

"Well, not really, but it's easier than believing I am just a weird human who is dying of cancer. Suspension of disbelief, I believe it's called. And precocious is what they call me, which I guess is a fancy word for a weird kid who is too smart. They just don't want to believe I'm a seventeen year old trapped in a seven year old's body. How old are you?"

"Five."

"Not that much younger. You can still learn. This is actually my second time I've had cancer. Well, actually, I never got rid of it the first time. It went into remission, which they said is liking knocking it out. Well, now it's gotten back up and it wants to fight. And it's calling in reinforcements. But I'm okay with it. If I'm gonna die then I'm gonna die. No sense in fighting it. I stopped my chemo for that reason. Let me guess: you have problems with your lungs."

Tokui nodded slowly. "And because I can't eat normally, and because my muscles don't work right, and my heart does weird things."

"You run the gamut on health problems, don't you? Maybe the citizens of Closet World should be calling your home planet instead of mine. You look more like an alien than me- no offense- and the atmosphere is crushing you more.”

Tokui looked down at the floor. A boy dying of cancer felt sorry for him? He’d seen enough kids come and go with cancer to know how horrible it was, and how equally horrible the treatment was. While his ailments weren’t a picnic at least there was a slim chance of recovering. He was already doing better than the doctors could have ever hoped.

“Hey, you wanna see something cool?” Hinoiri asked. Tokui looked up with interest as the boy reached for a backpack behind him. He opened it and took out a personal CD player and a CD. He handed both to Tokui, who hesitantly took them. The CD was by Bad Luck.

“My uncle’s lover is in this band,” Tokui said, handing them both back. “Shindou Shuichi.”

“I would say I don’t believe you, but you look like the Yuki Eiri the magazines say is dating Shindou-san and the first rule of Closet World is to believe everyone no matter how weird what they say is. Plus you don’t strike me as the lying type. You even believed I was an alien.”

The door to the closet opened, and both boys jumped as they looked toward the door. A nurse was standing there, and she didn’t look at all happy. “Hinoiri! There you are! We were looking all over for you! Your parents are here!” She looked at Tokui. “And Tokui, you know better than to drag around your oxygen tank. You are supposed to stay in bed. Doctor’s orders.”

Hinoiri stood and looked at Tokui, smiling at him. “I’ll see you later, okay?”

Tokui just nodded as the nurse walked in and picked up his oxygen and took his hand, leading him to his bed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Quon Yue shut the door to the rehearsal room. He often wondered why they were called “rehearsal rooms” when he never saw anyone doing anything but lounge around and talk in them. He was just about to light a cigarette when a voice stopped him cold.

“Tousan doesn’t let people smoke in the building,” Seguchi Amai said, leaning against the wall next to the rehearsal room. Quon Yue bit back any comment he could have made about her or father by sheer virtue they were related to Tokui and put his cigarette back into the pack, pocketing it.

“I take it you’re not here to scold me on my bad habits,” he told her, examining his fingernails. He had a feeling he wouldn’t like this girl any more than he liked her father, whether she was Tokui’s twin or not.

“You’re my brother’s only friend, you know,” Amai said, as if this was some profound revelation.

Again, he bit back saying something potentially hurtful. “Yes, I know,” he said evenly. “And he’s my only real friend. We trust each other and we like each other. I think that makes us good friends.”

Amai leaned forward and rested her forehead between her forefinger and thumb of her right hand, a gesture that made her look remarkably like her father. “I’ll spare the speech about how he’s a little strange considering you’re a little strange yourself. I just wanted you to know not to expect any miracles.”

“What exactly do you mean?” Quon Yue asked, quirking an eyebrow. His eyes were turning ice blue and betraying his feelings for the younger girl, and but she managed to keep herself as composed as her father did.

“Tokui doesn’t open up to people very easily. Not even to me. Don’t expect him to suddenly open up to you.”

“Actually, he’s already told me quite a bit that I can guarantee no one else knows. Is this really your problem, though? Or are you angry because someone else can talk to your brother when you can’t anymore?”

Amai looked up at him, her dark green eyes smoldering, looking wholly too much like her father. He almost expected her to tell him he was fired. Instead, in an icy tone that matched the color of Quon Yue’s eyes, she said “You cant fix everything, you know. The doctors don’t even think he’ll live to be twenty.”

“Maybe because he never had a reason to live before, what with a sister like you.”

Amai gasped, then turned and stomped away indignantly. As soon as she was out of sight, Quon Yue took out his cigarette and lit it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tokui was sitting on the edge of the bed, his oxygen tank sitting on the floor in front of it. His mother (who he only saw about twice a month, if that) was packing all of his clothes and his few belongings into a suitcase, not bringing herself to look her son in the eye.

Tokui had had mixed feelings about going home. He'd never been "home" before, and therefore wasn't entirely sure what to expect when he got there. And he would be living with his mother, who he barely knew. He knew most of the doctors and nurses in the hospital better than he knew her. And he wouldn't get to see his friend anymore, either.

Seven months had passed since Hinoiri had made Tokui a citizen of Closet World and showed him everything it had to offer. Though he was getting progressively weaker his spirits never dampened, and that, in turn, made Tokui feel much better. His hair was also growing back, the effects of his discontinued chemo therapy having worn off. At least once a day they would hide in the closet or empty room together until the nurses found them and put them in their respective rooms. Once Hinoiri had asked if he could be moved to Tokui's room (since he had a roommate but Tokui didn't), but this request was declined because of the different kinds of care they required that put them in different sections (Tokui still needed to be medicated frequently, as well as have his oxygen replaced and fed through his feeding tube, whereas Hinoiri refused to be treated and didn't need constant care, just pain treatment).

Tokui had noticed that in the past couple of weeks he hadn't seen Hinoiri. He could only assume the reason for this was that the doctors were keeping a tighter guard on him considering his rapidly deteriorating condition. The only time Tokui had seen him in the past month was when Yuki had come to visit and Hinoiri had managed to come in in a wheelchair. Tokui had been hesitant to share his beloved uncle, even with his best friend, but since Hinoiri seemed more concerned with finding out details about Shuichi Tokui had stopped minding.

Another hang-up Tokui had about going "home" was he didn't know if his uncle was willing to brave his sister and keep coming to see him. He would much rather that "home" be his uncle's apartment, not his mother's house. Not even his sister lived with his mother. Though his twin sister Amai visited more often than Mika did, she still didn't come nearly as often as Yuki did. His sister spent most of her time with their father, either at his house or in his office at his record company, and only came to see him when their father did.

"K-Kaasan?" Tokui started, causing his mother to turn and look at him. She actually looked a little annoyed, which made him feel even more uncomfortable and almost made him rethink asking what he wanted to. "C-can I go and say good-bye to my friend?"

"Sure, but try to make it quick," Mika said as she returned to her packing. She appeared to be looking for something.

Tokui jumped off the bed and tried to pick up his oxygen tank. Though it was a small, portable one his weak joints and muscles prevented him from lifting it, so he put it on his blanket like he usually did and dragged it out of the room, not noticing that Mika was watching this peculiar display.

He was about half-way down the hall when a nurse found him. He thought she was going to send him back to his room, but instead she picked up his oxygen tank and got him a wheelchair so that he could sit with the tank in his lap. Evidently the word of his discharge had already spread. The nurse continued her rounds as he continued to wheel himself down the hall. Finally he came to the open door where Hinoiri and his roommate were staying. But when he looked in he didn't recognize either of the kids that were in there. They gave him a strange look as he continued to gape in, looking for any trace of where his friend had gone.

"Excuse me, son. Are you lost?" a male voice asked. Tokui turned around and saw a doctor standing behind him.

"Where did Hinoiri go?" he asked softly.

The doctor's face softened, and he cleared his throat. "Hinoiri is...gone."

"He was taken home?" Tokui asked.

The doctor's face grew sadder at this child's innocence. "I'm sorry but he...he passed on a few days ago."

Passed on. Those were the words that adults used to mean someone died. He'd heard them before. Tears sprung to Tokui's eyes as he looked in the room, as if expecting Hinoiri to appear, lopsided grin in place, asking why the doctor thought he was dead.

"No!" Tokui cried. He tore off his oxygen mask and jumped out of the wheelchair, the tank hitting the floor with a loud *CLANG*. He raced toward the closet where they had first met, a nurse jumping out of the way as he whizzed past. He threw open the door, expecting Hinoiri to be sitting there, waiting for him.

But no one was in there.

Tokui fell to his knees, sobbing and gasping for air. He wanted to die. He wanted to disappear and never come out. He wanted to retreat to Closet World and never see the real world again.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Your sister doesn't like me."

"She doesn't like anyone."

"Huh?" Quon Yue asked, surprised that Tokui would speak ill of anyone.

"What?" Tokui asked back, looking up from his notepad. He didn't seem to realize he'd said anything.

"You just said that your sister doesn't like anyone," Quon Yue explained. They were in the stairwell between the third and fourth floors, Tokui sitting on the bottom step and Quon Yue smoking on the top one.

"I did?" Tokui asked, sincerely surprised. "I didn't realize I'd said that outloud. Must be because I'm not used to talking to other people. Anyway, it's true. If she can't manipulate them, outwit them, or otherwise degrade them or if she doesn't have anything to gain from being nice to them she wants nothing to do with them. And if you can prove you are superior to her in any way then she'll hate you. There are few exceptions, of course, like our father, but for the most part she doesn't like anyone. Did you beat her in an argument?"

"Well, I slapped her with a pretty harsh truth."

"That's even worse. You found a flaw in her. It's one thing to show you are better at something she's good at. It's another thing entirely to point out something she's bad at. Now she's probably plotting your downfall and ultimate demise."

"Just like her father. How cute."

Tokui shrugged. "She's a product of her environment. She looks like my father, she was raised by my father, therefore she acts like my father."

"Ah, the nature versus nurture argument," Quon Yue mused. "Personally, I go for nature. You compare where I grew up and what my parents were like to what I'm like then you'd agree with me."

Once again, Quon Yue was answered with nothing more than a shrug of the blonde boy's shoulders. He sighed and stepped out his cigarette, descending the staircase. He had figured out that while it was possible to initiate Tokui in conversation, the difficult part was keeping it going. If a conversation reached a certain point (usually where Tokui couldn't think of anything to say) he would go quiet and the entire line of conversation would end.

Quon Yue rubbed the back of his head, suddenly feeling nervous. His eyes turned the awkward white color that made his defect obvious as he looked down at his feet. "Um...uh...Tokui, can I ask you something?"

"You just did."

"Wow. We've been friends for about a week and a half and already you're a smartass. But this is important."

"All right. Then ask."

Quon Yue sighed. "Well, before you say no just hear me out. I kinda sorta need a pianist for my concert and-" he was cut short by Tokui's frightened expression. "You wouldn't be on stage! At least, no one would see you and you wouldn't see them. It's just that I need a really good pianist, one that I have chemistry with, and the session pianist wasn't any good."

Tokui blushed deeply. "I-I am not any good, either. I never had any proper lessons."

"You're a natural! I've heard you play! You can play it by ear, and it's just for one song." Tokui didn't seem to be giving in, so he decided he had one last chance. "I also kind of made a bet with Mr. Su- ah, Nakano-san about whether I could get you to play for me or not."

"Why did you do that?" Tokui asked, the shaky tone in his voice not fading.

"I didn't mean to make it a bet! When I told him that I wanted you as a pianist he got all smug and it rubbed me the wrong way so we made a bet about it. But the reason why I fired the session pianist was because I want you to play the piano for me. I don't think I can go on stage unless you're there. You'll be behind a curtain and no one will see you and you won't see anyone."

"Nakano-san didn't think I'd do it?" Tokui asked softly, blushing.

"Well, you can't really blame him," Quon Yue pointed out, but for the first time he looked up at Tokui, who was now blushing deep red. "Oh God...you like him, don't you?"

"I-I uh...well...yeah, I do," Tokui finally confessed. "I have for about two or three years now."

"Shit!" Quon Yue cried out hitting the wall. Tokui looked surprised at this, and noticing this expression Quon Yue decided to clarify. "I kinda...I...I slept with him. But it was just once, before I met you! And it was my fault, not his. He..." Quon Yue's eyes darkened to the deep blue color that meant he was reflecting on something. "He reminds me of someone."

Tokui swallowed and looked down at floor. Why was Quon Yue apologizing? He had no doubt that a man Hiro's age had slept with other people. And Quon Yue hadn't known him or known about his crush on Hiro.

"Don't apologize," he said softly. "I am...surprised. But not hurt. It's a childish crush, and it's not even as strong as it used to be. I don't mind that he sleeps with other people, and I am sure you wouldn't do anything to hurt me on purpose. And I will play the piano for you as long as no one can see me."

Quon Yue looked up, his eyes violet at first, but then shifting to silver-gray as he embraced Tokui tightly. "Thank you. This means a lot to me, a lot more than a stupid bet with my manager."

Tokui nodded. He wasn't sure if he could bring himself to actually play piano in public, but for Quon Yue he was willing to try. He suddenly looked up into Quon Yue's eyes. "Tell me...what was it like?"

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tokui was eight years old that day. At least, that's what his sister had told him. "We were born on different days," she said cheerfully. "I was born yesterday, and you were born today." This, of course, seemed to explain why Touma threw a big party for Amai the previous day and had done no such thing for Tokui.

Tokui was currently crouched in his closet now. The day that was supposedly his real birthdate was quickly drawing to a close, and no one had once acknowledged it. It seemd ridiculous to assume that they had forgotten, as he and his sister were twins. Even if they had their birthdays on different days, they were still close enough together that one couldn't forget them.

But the only other explanation was that they simply didn't care, and that hurt him worse than if everyone had simply forgot. Not that his birthday was the grand event that it was for Amai. He didn't have any friends, whereas she had several. He didn't want or need anything, while Amai wrote huge wish lists. But he did like sweets, and he'd at least gotten a little cake every year since he'd been home so far. While he still had to use his feeding tube most of the time, he could eat solid foods sparingly now, which was a sign of progress.

Tokui sniffled, telling himself not to cry. The citizens of Closet World hadn't forgotten his birthday, after all. It was a national holiday for them. But they didn't have cake, and they couldn't make his parents look his way. The first few tears slid down his cheeks, and he sniffled and tried to wipe them away without success, as they were quickly followed by more. They weren't going to remember. No one was. His sister was more important. She was bright and healthy and just like their father. She wasn't a freak like he was.

Tokui began to sob, which caused him to begin gasping. He groped in the darkness until he found his inhaler, shaking it as he had been taught to do so long ago. He took two puffs, but it failed to quell his choking sobs. He was about to try the medicine again when he saw a sliver of light penetrate the darkness of his sanctuary. The door slowly began to open, and a tall, shadowy figure stood on the other side.

Tokui gaped up at the shadow, releasing another sob mixed with a gasp for air. The shadowy figure knelt down and took the small boy in his arms, taking the small portable oxygen tank next to him into his hand, lifting him up and carrying him out of the closet, careful to pick up the blue sachel that contained his medications. Tokui buried his face in his uncle's shoulder and continued to cry and wheeze, causing the man whisper that it would be okay in an effort to stop the boy's painful crying.

Mika was standing in the hall, watching her brother as he picked up her sobbing, barely breathing son. He gave her an icy glare and proceeded to walk down the hall, the boy still crying in his arms.

"Where are you taking him?" Mika asked firmly, though she made no movement to stop him.

"My apartment," Yuki said gruffly. "Shuichi put together a little something for his birthday."

"Are you asking me or telling me? Dammit, he's my son."

"I'm telling you. And if he's your son then act like it. I don't appreciate finding my nephew crying in a closet on his birthday."

"He never wants to do anything for his birthday!"

"He never wants a party! That doesn't mean he doesn't want people to acknowledge it! Wish him a happy birthday, for chrissakes."

"It's kind of hard to wish him a happy birthday when he's stuffing himself in a closet all the time!"

"You could have made an effort to find him! It didn't seem to take me too long!"

Mika gave up arguing with her brother. She knew not only was it a futile gesture, but he was actually right: Tokui spending the night at his apartment would be better for him.

Tokui had stopped crying upon hearing someone had not only remembered his birthday but had actually done something for him. His uncle and his lover seemed to always be ready to make up for his parents' acts of neglect. In fact, they always seemed to plan things in anticipation that his parents weren't going to do anything for him. Tokui buried his face further into his father's shoulder, not wanting to see his mother before he left. It would most likely spoil his good mood.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Quon Yue was sitting on the windowsill in a reheasal room in the NG building, looking up at the night sky. Even though looking for the stars in this region would be futile, and even though they were concealed by clouds heavy with snow about to fall at any moment, just knowing that they were somewhere up there made him feel better somehow.

"Chen-san?" a voice asked, literally bringing him back down to earth. Kyousei Himeko was organizing her briefcase as she spoke. "Are you sure you don't want to go home?"

"Positive. The concert is tomorrow. I need to prepare," Quon Yue said confidently. He stood, stretched out his lean frame, then leaned against the wall, lighting a cigarette. "Where'd Mr. Suit go?"

"I believe Nakano-san is down in the cafeteria getting something for dinner. You don't have a band here. How can you rehearse?"

"I don't have to have a band to sing, do I?"

Himeko had to concede she was beaten as she closed her briefcase with a sigh. "You also don't need to be here to sing."

"I can't sing at home. My cousin is an ass."

Himeko didn't bother asking what those two things had to do with each other, if for no reason than she didn't want to have to waste time listening to his long and bizaar explaination.

"What's the matter? You're husband missing you or something?" Quon Yue asked suddenly, flicking his ashes into the trashcan.

"I'm not married," she answered.

"Boyfriend?"

"No."

"Girlfriend?"

"No!"

"Don't answer him when he talks," a slightly annoyed, slightly bemused voice ordered from the doorway.

Quon Yue's eyes widened and turned violet briefly before his grin returned, eyes shifting to the bright blue that always meant trouble. "Mr. Suit! I'd given you up for dead! I was just about to ask producer chick here what she does for sex."

"Why? Are you offering your services?" Himeko asked, surprising both of the men present.

Quon Yue recovered quickly, however, never one to be taken off guard for very long. "I don't think you could afford them on your sallary."

Hiro wasn't sure if this was confirmation of his suspicions of the younger man's current occupation or if he was simply being a smartass. Neither would have surprised him much. He simply placed his coffee on the table in the center of the room. "So did you do it?" he asked simply.

Quon Yue nodded. "Sure did. He's ready and willing to go tomorrow...as long as we keep him out of sight."

"Am I missing something here?" Himeko asked, taking the coffee Hiro offered her.

"Chen here is trying to tell me that he somehow managed to get Seguchi Tokui to play piano for him tomorrow, which is highly unlikely and we have a bet on it."

"The president's son?"

"Yes, that Seguchi Tokui," Quon Yue answered before Hiro could pick up the question. "He's my best friend. And he agreed to do it. Not just for me, either."

Hiro widened his eyes in disbelief. "That's impossible. He won't even show himself to a few people. He's honestly going to go on stage tomorrow and play piano in front of hundreds of strangers?"

"If we keep him out of sight, like I said. Ask him if you don't believe me. Now, I do believe it's time for you to pay up."

Hiro sighed, afraid of what kind of things this young man's sadistic mind was cooking up to make him do. No doubt it was something humiliating.

"If I am not mistaken, this weekend is Seguchi Touma's engagement party," Quon Yue started. Hiro quirked an eyebrow, wondering where this was going. "Seguchi Touma is marrying your former producer, Sakano Ayame. Therefore it stands to reason you got an invitation. You will go to that party. And you will ask Tokui if he would like to dance."

Hiro's jaw dropped. He opened and closed his mouth a few times like a fish that had been suddenly thrown on shore. Then his voice returned, as if someone had thrown the fish back into the water. "Why?" he asked simply.

"Why do you think, yue ch˙n╣? He has a thing for you. And there's no way in hell he'd tell you so. I was going to ask you if you could tell Shindou-san to dance with me, but after the hell I'm going to put Tokui through tomorrow I think he deserves to have his wish granted more than I do."

Hiro looked down at the floor. He had suspected that Tokui had a crush on him. But what would he do if Hiro asked him to dance? Run and hide? That was unlikely. Tokui was too polite for that and liked Hiro too much. He probably would dance with him because he thought it would please Hiro, but he would also enjoy it himself. And Quon Yue seemed to know him better than anyone else and was also a fairly intelligent person, so if there was a remote possibility of something going wrong from this then he would have figured it out.

"All right. Fine. I'll do it. But only if Tokui really is playing the piano tomorrow for you. I'm not making any promises until I see it with my own eyes."

"Deal."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tokui smoothed down the front of his school uniform. Twelve years old, and yet this was his first day of school ever. Amai had tried to assure him it would be no big deal, but he was still having doubts. He'd never been in a crowd so large in his life, and already students were staring at him and whispering.

Tokui blushed deep red and walked into the building, ignoring the fact that all the other children were spread around the campus outside. He didn't want to play outside with those children. And really, he couldn't. The school already had all the notes from his doctor saying he shouldn't go outside or engage in very much physical activity. He was also the only student who had an oxygen mask strapped to his face.

And thus was the beginning of the short reign of the Pale Gaijinn▓ Who Couldn't See the Sun, as the students called him. When he was lucky, that was.

Tokui took his seat in the back of the classroom that he had been assigned to for homeroom. Not even the teacher was there yet, and he wondered if he would get in trouble for being in the school. After what seemed like eternity the bell rang, and students began to file into the room, followed shortly after by the teacher.

He wasn't in his sister's class, he'd noted with dismay. And all the students had swivelled around in their seats to look at him. Tokui shrunk down in his seat and began harder, and with that the day began.

The staring wasn't the problem. Neither was recess, where he stayed inside and wrote in his notebook with the pen his uncle had given him for his last birthday. His sister had thought it was a a "stupid" gift, not like the things she was used to getting. Amai just didn't realize, however, that the thought and practicallity behind this gift made it the greatest Tokui had ever recieved. He never asked for anything, and to get something obviously chosen with his personality in consideration and not something random to be polite made it wonderful.

The next few classes were also not too bad. More stares from different sets of eyes, but nothing too bad.

It was lunch that was horrible.

Tokui had brought his own lunch due to his dietary restictions, and it was in much smaller portions than kids his age usually ate. Students were watching as he pulled out the strange items: two pieces of what looked like plain white bread. One nigiri. Two sticks of vanilla Pocky. One bottle of apple juice.

He removed his mask, ready to nibble on a piece of bread, when two large boys walked over to him. He looked up at them, gold eyes filling with fear as he put his bread back down and replaced his mask.

"Whatcha got there, gaijinn?" one asked teasingly, taking his bread and sqeezing both slices into one thick, doughy mass.

"Not much, by the looks of it," the other said, taking his nigiri and dropping it onto the floor, stepping on it.

"And now he has nothing!" the first boy said, picking up his bottle of juice and pouring it onto the floor. The other boy laughed hysterically and began to eat the Pocky. Tokui wanted to cry, but all he could do was gasp and wheeze.

"Aw, look, little baby wants to cry!" one boy taunted. He grabbed hold of his face mask and dropped it onto the floor, putting his foot in front of it when Tokui reached for it, gasping for air. "Go back to where you came from, freak."

"What the hell are you doing?!" a voice asked from behind them. Both boys turned and looked at the diminuitive but still intimdating figure that was Seguchi Amai. "That's my brother, you know!"

The boys widened their eyes. "Look, we're sorry, we didn't know-"

"Well, you know now! Now get the hell away from him!" Amai ordered. The boys nodded dumbly and ran away as Amai handed Tokui his mask. As soon as he had it back on he picked up his oxygen and turned and retreated from the lunchroom, not thanking his saviour.

Later the teacher entered a classroom to see a group of students gathered around the closet door in the back of the room. He quirked an eyebrow and looked at the odd gathering. "What's going on here?" he asked at last.

"Tokui's locked himself in the closet and won't come out."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was less than ten minutes before Quon Yue was set to go on stage and begin the concert, and Hiro was pacing around nervously. When Quon Yue had arrived about an hour before he'd been wearing black jeans and a black turtleneck sweater. When Hiro had acted shocked and asked if that was his image Quon Yue had just smiled and pointed to his duffle bag before disappearing again.

Tokui was there, behind a black screen that concealed the piano on the stage, but Hiro wondered how much longer he'd stay there. Just the sound of all the people talking was making him shake like a leaf, and without Quon Yue there it was only a matter of time before he made a break for it, leaving Quon Yue piano-less for the set.

"You look about ready to piss your pants, Mr. Suit," a voice that was as smooth as silk said from behind Hiro.

"Finally!" Hiro cried before turning around and gasping. He thought he'd seen all Quon Yue had to offer in terms of surprises. But now he could see he was sadly mistaken.

Quon Yue stood before him, the silver half of his hair tied up in a ponytail while the blue half hung loose. The left side of his face was made up, but at the same cut-off point that his hair had his face was unmade. His clothes were also divided this way: on the left side he had a white tank-top (which was stuffed slightly) and a black leather mini skirt and wore one black platform shoe. On his right side he had somehow managed to sew onto the tank-top half about half of a black T-shirt, and the miniskirt was sewed onto a pair of pale blue jeans. He was wearing a black combat boot on that foot. As always, his jewelry was still all in place.

"Where the hell did you find that outfit?!" Hiro all but shrieked.

"I made it. Like my image, Mr. Suit?" Quon Yue asked teasingly, twirling around. "Based on a sideshow attraction from America during the 1920s. They used to employ 'half-and-half's, which usually were just men who grew out they beard and worked out on one side and wore make-up and part of a dress on the other side. I think it complements my two sides nicely, don't you?"

"How the hell do you expect people to like you when you're dressed like that?!" Hiro snapped.

Quon Yue shrugged. "The people are strange. They've gone for stranger things. Now, if you excuse me, I must get on stage for my set."

Quon Yue walked toward the stage, ignoring the stares his session band gave him. He walked over to where Tokui was behind his curtain, embraced him tightly, then took center stage, waiting for the curtain to rise.

"He's really something else, isn't he?" a female voice asked.

Hiro turned and saw Himeko step up to him. "Shindou-san is with Neo Grasper in the dressing rooms right now. He doesn't know about this. I saw him in the hallway. He's right, though: for every strange gimmick there is a fanbase."

"I'll take your word for it since you've been in this business longer than I have," Hiro told her. "But I just hope and pray you're write or it'll be my ass in the fire."

Just then the curtain began to rise, and Hiro held his breath. The audience suddenly went quiet as Quon Yue approached the microphone.

"Good evening, everyone!" he announced. The audience didn't seem to respond, but Quon Yue didn't seem to notice. "I am your opening act, Chen Quon Yue, here to perform a little number in my native Chinese. Hope you all like it!"

Quon Yue didn't wait for a response. He gestured to his band, and first Tokui began to play, but the others joined in a symphonic sounding intro. Suddenly, the music seemed to hit a climax...only to soften as Quon Yue joined in with his vocals, his eyes turning indigo as he did so.

"Zai wo nian shao de shi hou Shen bian de ren shuo bu ke yi liu lei
Zai wo cheng shou le yi hou Dui jing zi shuo wo bu ke yi hou hui
Zai yi ge fan wei bu ting de pai hui
Xin zai sheng ming xian shang bu duan de lun hui
Ren zai ri ri ye ye cheng zhe mian ju shui Wo xin li jiao cui..."

Quon Yue pointed his eyes at the stage and began to sing breathily.

"Ming ming liu lei de shi hou Que wang le yan jing zen yang qu liu lei
Ming ming hou hui de shi hou Que wang le xin li zen yang qu hou hui
Wu xing de ya li ya de wo hen lei
Kai shi jue de hu xi you yi dian nan wei
Kai shi man man xie xia fang wei..."

He suddenly threw his head back up. "Man man hou hui Man man liu lei!"

The band began to play harder again and Quon Yue crossed the stage, the sweat pouring from his face.

"Nan ren ku ba ku ba ku ba Bu shi zui
Zai qiang de ren ye you quan li qu pi bei
Wei xiao bei hou ruo zhi shen xin sui
Zuo ren he bi ling de na me lang bei
Nan ren ku ba ku ba ku ba Bu shi zui
Chang chang kuo bie yi jiu yan lei de zi wei
Jiu suan xia yu ye shi yi zhong mei
Bu ru hao hao ba wo zhe ge ji hui Tong ku yi hui."

There was a period of instrumental where Quon Yue fell to the stage. The fans suddenly seemed to erupt, though they didn't understand what was being sung. He drew himself back to his feet as the music reached it's climax again, and then once again softened.

"Ming ming liu lei de shi hou Que wang le yan jing zen yang qu liu lei
Ming ming hou hui de shi hou Que wang le xin li zen yang qu hou hui
Wu xing de ya li ya de wo hen lei
Kai shi jue de hu xi you yi dian nan wei
Kai shi man man xie xia fang wei Man man hou hui Man man liu lei!"

He ran to the other side of the stage and looked at the fans that were now cheering for him.

"Nan ren ku ba ku ba ku ba Bu shi zui
Zai qiang de ren ye you quan li qu pi bei
Wei xiao bei hou ruo zhi shen xin sui
Zuo ren he bi ling de na me lang bei
Nan ren ku ba ku ba ku ba Bu shi zui
Chang chang kuo bie yi jiu yan lei de zi wei
Jiu suan xia yu ye shi yi zhong mei
Bu ru hao hao ba wo zhe ge ji hui Tong ku yi hui!"

The music began a soft classical melody and he went back to the center stage.

"Nan ren ku ba ku ba ku ba Bu shi zui
Zai qiang de ren ye you quan li qu pi bei
Wei xiao bei hou ruo zhi shen xin sui
Zuo ren he bi ling de na me lang bei..."

The music picked up once again and he fell to his knees.

"Nan ren ku ba ku ba ku ba Bu shi zui
Chang chang kuo bie yi jiu yan lei de zi wei
Jiu suan xia yu ye shi yi zhong mei
Bu ru hao hao ba wo zhe ge ji hui Tong ku yi hui..."

The music drew to a close, and the fans went crazy as Quon Yue walked over behind the curtain where Tokui was still sitting. The cutains fell closed and the musicians began to scatter as Quon Yue walked back toward Hiro, Tokui in tow.

"Well, I'll be damned..." was all Hiro could manage.

"I told you it would work out," Quon Yue said knowingly. "You just need to have some faith, Mr. Suit. Now, pardon me, I'm going to go change my clothes."

As he walked toward the hallway, followed by Tokui, he passed the members of Neo Grasper. Alexander sized him up before following his bandmates toward the stage, their parents in tow.

"Your act sounded great," K told Hiro with an approving nod.

"He didn't look great, though," Touma pointed out. "I thought I told you to fix that."

"The audience liked it, didn't they?" Hiro pointed out.

Touma opened his mouth to say something, but the curtain was rising, so he cut it off short. Alexander was in front of the microphone, and Amai and Saki were behind him on keyboards.

"Hello everyone!" Alexander called out to the audience. They took one good look at the band and began to cheer ecstacially. "I know you came to see Seguchi Amai tonight, and you will see her. But first, just listen to a song by us. We're Neo Grasper!" Whether it was because they recognized Amai and Saki in the band, Alex was cute, or they recognized the name from Nittle Grasper, the audience went crazy.

"On keyboards, we have Ukai Saki!" Saki waved at the crowd, and those who recognized her began to cheer.

"On keyboards and back-up vocal, Seguchi Amai!" Amai bowed slightly, causing her own fans to call out enthsiatically. She gave Saki a look that made her scowl.

"And on vocals is myself, Alexander Sakuma-Winchester!" The audience gave one last deafening cheer, and as soon as it died down Alex gestured to the girls, who began to play the catching intro. He grabbed the mic and began to sing.

"Once upon a time
Once when you were mine
I remember skies
Reflected in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you
Think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

Once the world was new
Our bodies felt the morning dew
That greets the brand new day
We couldn't tear ourselves away
I wonder if you care
I wonder if you still remember
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

And when the music plays
And when the words are
Touched with sorrow
When the music plays
I hear the sound
I had to follow
Once upon a time

Once beneath the stars
The universe was ours
Love was all we knew
And all I knew was you
I wonder if you know
I wonder if you
Think about it
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

And when the music plays
And when the words are
Touched with sorrow
When the music plays
And when the music plays
I hear the sound
I had to follow
Once upon a time

Once upon a time
Once when you were mine
I remember skies
Mirrored in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you
Think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

In your wildest dreams

In your wildest dreams...."

The audience erupted into thundarous applause as the curtain fell, and Neo Grasper walked off stage. Amai remained, however, joined by a team of session musicians.

"See? Now that's music!" K praised, clapping a hand on his son's shoulder.

"Dad, you have to say that," Alex said modestly in English. "But I had this for luck!" He reached under the vest he was wearing and produced a large Beretta.

K smiled and pulled a similar one from the shouled holster under his jacket. "That's my boy."

"That's my Dad," Alex said back.

"That's a pair of loaded semi-automatic weapons," Hiro added, causing both to holster their guns. After all, the curtain was raising again, and Amai was ready to sing.

"itsuka ha umareru mae kara kitto
kawaranai mono sagashitsudzukete ha
mitsukete ushinatte toki ni
hito wo kizu tsuketa yoru mo atta

moshimo tatta hitotsu dake negai ga kanau nara
moshimo tatta hitotsu dake negai ga kanau nara
kimi ha nani wo inoru
kono sora ni kimi ha nani wo inoru

tsuyoku hoshigaru kimochi no soba de
dokoka akirame oboehajimete ha
mitsukete tebanashite toki ni
jibun wo kizu tsuketa yoru mo atta

moshimo kimi ni sashidaseru mono ga aru to sureba
moshimo kimi ni sashidaseru mono ga aru to sureba
kawaranu tashika na omoi

honno sukoshi demo waratte kureru nara
mada koko ni ikiru imi mo aru yo ne
honno sukoshi demo motomete kureru nara
mada koko ni ikiru koto yurusareru kana

moshimo tatta hitotsu dake negai ga kanau nara
moshimo tatta hitotsu dake negai ga kanau nara
kimi ha nani wo inoru

moshimo kimi ni sashidaseru mono ga aru to sureba
moshimo kimi ni sashidaseru mono ga aru to sureba
kawaranu tashika na omoi
sou kawaranu tashika na omoi
nee koko ni..."

Touma watched his daughter proudly as she went into the tune. Just then Quon Yue and Tokui appeared behind the small group. It was a night none of them would soon forget....

End of Chapter 10

Goo's Note- Sorry the ending sucked, but this chapter was so damn long I just wanted it to be OVER.

╣ Chinese for "idiot". The yue in it is pronounced differently than the Yue in Quon Yue's name.

▓ A word meaning "foreigner", it can also be an insult in Japan. In the manga it's said that Yuki was called this when he was younger because of his strange hair and eye color.

And here's the translations:

It's Not a Crime For a Man to Cry

When I was young, the people next to me said not to cry
After I matured, I said to the mirror I cannot regret
In this range I'm pacing back and forth nonstop
My heart is continuously transmigrating* on the brink of life
I sleep while maintaining a mask day and night; my heart's strength is becoming overworked

When it's clearly time to cry, I've forgotten how to cry tears from my eyes
When it's clearly time to regret, I've forgotten how to let my heart regret
An invisible pressure is pressing down on me until I'm very tired
Starting to feel that breathing is a little difficult
Start to slowly dismantle my defenses, slowly regret, slowly cry...

It's not a crime for a man to cry, cry, cry
Even stronger people have the right to be exhausted
If only a broken heart is left behind after laughter
Why must I be so thoroughly cold in order to be a person?
It's not a crime for a man to cry, cry, cry
Sample the flavor of long-separated tears
Just as falling rain is a kind of beauty
It's better to hold this opportunity well, and suffer one round

*This is a Buddhist term, meaning "Transmigration (of the soul).
Never Ever


Sometime, surely before I was born,
I was searching for something unchanging.
I'd find it, and lose it, and sometimes
there were nights where I hurt people.

If just one of your wishes could come true,
If just one of your wishes could come true,
what would you wish for?
What would you wish for, here, under this sky?

Despite my strong desire,
I started giving up.
I'd find it, release it, and sometimes
there were nights when I hurt myself.

If there were something I could give to you,
If there were something I could give to you,
It would be my unchanging, certain thoughts.

If you'll laugh for me, even just a little,
then there's still a reason for me to live here.
If you'll search for me, even just a little,
then maybe my living here will be forgiven.

If just one of your wishes could come true,
If just one of your wishes could come true,
what would you wish for?

If there were something I could give to you,
If there were something I could give to you,
It would be my unchanging, certain thoughts.
Yes, my unchanging, certain thoughts.
Right here.