1 9 : 十九番
-December 2006; Present Day-
Seven in the morning… Ryuutarou-san was at my bedroom door like clockwork—attempting to wake me up by knocking on the door.
But this morning, I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed and answer the increasingly more persistent knocks on the door.
Eventually he was hovering over me shaking my shoulders in a greater attempt to get me out of bed.
"Inohiko get up. We have to be at the studio in an hour."
I groaned and tried to hide from the hand that was shaking me.
"Geez, stop acting like such a baby and get up already," Ryuutarou-san flew the covers off of my bed exposing most of my bare skin to the cold air.
I finally gave in and opened my eyes to find Ryuutarou-san staring intently at my face. My heart sunk into my stomach as I remembered the expression he made when I told him I was moving out.
"Nice underwear," Ryuutarou-san said sarcastically as he threw a pillow at me on his way out the door. "Get dressed."
Still half asleep, I sat up and slowly crawled to the end of the bed to retrieve the covers that Ryuutarou-san had pulled off of me and proceeded to slowly make my bed.
Getting dressed was the hard part.
Struggling to keep my eyes open, I wandered over to the closet and stared blankly at the clothes hanging inside. I ran my head through my hair in annoyance, mentally noting that it was still slightly damp from my late night shower, and finally settled on an old pair of vintage jeans and a couple of shirts.
Ryuutarou-san returned to my room just as I was fixing my belt. "Ready to go?"
I nodded, grabbed my phone and wallet off my night stand and followed Ryuutarou-san out the door.
Less than an hour later we were sitting in the studio waiting for Yasu-san and Daigoro to show up.
I sat mindlessly picking at the strings of my guitar, playing some choir song that I had heard in middle school. Yakuma Tadashi-san was on the other side of the room laying on top of the table Ryuutarou-san was sitting at.
"How much longer?" he groaned as he too mindlessly played his bass.
"Five minutes, probably," Ryuutarou-san responded.
"Oh, by the way, my manager told me to remind you about the interview and photo shoot with Rokku Magazine for their December issue."
Ryuutarou-san only nodded in response.
"It'll be tomorrow morning at eight in the morning at that one really expensive hotel in Odaiba."
Ryuutarou-san nodded again.
"You're turning into Inohiko-kun," Tadashi said as he placed his bass on the stand next to him and rolled off the table.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ryuutarou-san asked.
Tadashi-san smiled, "Nothing really. You've just been quiet all morning."
Tadashi-san crawled behind the drum set and sat down.
"Let's play something, Ino-kun," he said turning to me.
I nodded in reply as I strummed the chords to the first song that popped into my mind. Tadashi-san soon followed by mimicking Yasu-san's drumming.
Before we had even reached the first chorus however, Yasu-san and Daigoro-san had entered the studio.
"Good morning," Yasu-san said, finding a seat next to Ryuutarou-san.
"Morning," Ryuutarou-san and Tadashi-san repeated.
"So, last night Ryuutarou and Ino-kun stayed here on our vacation day making the demo for our next single," Yasu-san announced as he spun a CD around his middle finger. "I think this is going to make us rich."
"You should talk that way about your own music, Yasu-san, people will think you're getting cocky," Tadashi-san said as he stood up from behind the drum set.
Yasu-san smiled, "I didn't write this one. Inohiko-kun did."
"Eeh—?!" Daigoro-san and Tadashi-san instantly looked straight at me, making me suddenly more nervous than any stage had ever scared me.
"Are you serious?" Daigoro-san asked.
"No way," Tadashi-san's expression was that of shock, "Our little Inohiko-chan wrote us a song?"
Yasu-san nodded, "Are we done being shocked so we can listen to Inohiko-kun and Ryuutarou-san's work?"
Daigoro-san nodded and sat down in his spot on the floor.
Knots started tying themselves in my stomach. As I had suspected, it was going to be difficult to listen to my own song.
Yasu-san handed out the tablature to Inohiko, Tadashi, and I, and gave Daigoro-san the vocal score before he pressed play on the CD player.
As we listened to the song, I found myself glancing at Inohiko from time to time. His eyes were focused intently on the tabs before him—it seemed as if he were dying to run away from the scene.
The poor thing, I thought to myself. He looked more nervous than he had been at our first live.
The chorus. Inohiko's gentle, deep voice filled the room, and it seemed as if Inohiko would dash out at any second. Tadashi and Daigoro-san's once again became wide-eyed.
Daigoro-san pointed furiously at the CD player, "Ehh?! Don't tell me that's you, Ino-kun!"
"It is," Yasu-san answered for Inohiko, who was probably using all his mental ability to focus on not hiding under the table.
"No way," Daigoro-san laid on the ground, "He's going to steal away my job."
"That's amazing," Tadashi nodded in agreement. "You wrote all this by yourself?"
Inohiko nodded slowly.
"To think this came from a mute," Tadashi smirked.
"So what do you think?" Yasu asked as the song ended.
"Total shock, total, total shock," Daigoro-san said.
"I think you're right about this one, Yasu," Tadashi nodded, picking up his bass.
"Who recorded the bass yesterday?" Yasu asked.
"Inohiko," I replied.
"Then, Inohiko, since you already know you're section, work with Tadashi on the bass and Ryuutarou can work with Daigoro on the vocals."
"And you?" I asked.
"I have a meeting to attend with the new band that we're signing on, so—I'll leave you in charge Ryuutarou-san," Yasu smiled.
"What's with this '-san' business?" I frowned.
"Oi! Leader-sama! You're abandoning us again!" Daigoro-san faked cried as he called after Yasu.
"He's probably got a date with the new secretary, leave him be," Tadashi said as he threw a drumstick in Daigoro-san's general direction.
"Icky," Daigoro-san returned to his seat next to me. "Nee, if Inohiko sang for the demo tape then why isn't he the one assisting me?"
"Because you need much more guidance than he's willing to speak for," I replied as we walked over to the piano.
"Cruel," Daigoro-san replied with a child-like pout.
When we broke for lunch, Inohiko and Tadashi were already jamming in the corner, playing out the song in such a way that you could almost hear the final version. Daigoro on the other hand, still had work to do.
We were all sitting in the break room scattered amoung the tables, sofas, and other employees, when Daigoro suddenly yelled— "Aha—ah—ah! What's that?"
Inohiko and I, who were sitting across the room turned to see what all his commotion was about.
"A bentou?! With hearts?!" Daigoro stood their pointing at Tadashi's lunch, "Don't tell me—you have a girlfriend?! The internationally famous playboy from Chiba prefecture has a girlfriend making him lunches?!"
"You're so noisy Daigoro," Tadashi frowned. "It's not like that."
"No wonder you've been too busy to go party with me."
"Now it sounds like you're my girlfriend, idiot," Tadashi said, "Sit down, you're making a scene."
"Then who made such a bentou? Your mother?"
"No," Tadashi sighed audibly, "Stay out of other people's business, would you?"
"But the bentou—" Daigoro-san huffed.
"The fan girl who won that contest and got to stay at my place remember? With the funny name? She made it for me dumbass, now sit down."
Daigoro-san might have been at the edge of tears, it was hard to say since he did things like this quite often, but he sat down across from Tadashi anyway, staring at Tadashi's boxed lunch with his puppy-eyes face before glancing back at the candy bar that he had shaken out of the vending machine.
"No fair," Daigoro-san sighed. "I want a girlfriend to make me box lunches."
"She's not my girlfriend!" Tadashi threw his bottled water at him, "and for geez sakes Daigoro, get a hold of yourself."
"That's it! I'm going to eat out!" Daigoro-san said as he stood up abruptly and hit the table with his fist. He turned to face Tadashi and then suddenly bowed ninety degrees. "Please let me borrow one-thousand yen!"
"What?" Tadashi coughed through his food.
"For the mental trauma you've caused, please let me borrow one-thousand yen!"
"You can't be saved can you?" Tadashi groaned as he pulled out his wallet and stuffed the thousand yen bill down Daigoro-san's shirt.
"Thank you, na!" Daigoro suddenly looked reenergized and dashed out the door.
"Tomorrow's headline: Musicians at X Records Company Japan being underpaid. Unbelievable," Tadashi said as he returned to his food.
"He can't be helped," I replied. "His older sister probably still washes his laundry."
I turned back to face Inohiko who had a bottle of water pressed to his lips.
"That's your lunch?" I asked.
He nodded, bringing the bottle down. I noticed that the level of the water had remained the same, sitting at the top. Memories of his collapse filled my mind as the water trembled slightly in the bottle.
I stood up and walked over to the vending machine. Orange juice…
"If you're going on a liquid diet," I said as I walked back to him, "This is better for you."
He looked up at me as if he were confused as to if the beverage was for him or not.
"Take it already," I said, switching it with the one in his hand. "You better drink all of it. It was almost two-hundred yen. Heavens forbid I have to borrow money from Tadashi to eat dinner tonight."
He smiled—almost laughing.
I guess I smiled too.
"Oi, when did I become this band's bank?" Tadashi groaned from his table behind me.
"Stop spoiling Daigoro," I replied.
Practice ended around seven that night. Ryuutarou-san left with Tadashi-san and Yasu-san to discuss their interview tomorrow, leaving me and Daigoro-san in the studio to pack up.
"So I overheard Ryuutarou-san mentioning to Yasu about you moving out of Ryuutarou-san's place," Daigoro-san said suddenly, "that true?"
"When? He said… tomorrow?"
I nodded again.
"Have you packed and everything?"
I shook my head 'no.'
Daigoro-san smiled a little. "I guess you don't really have much to pack… but can I offer you some help?"
"…If it's not too much—"
"Not at all!" Daigoro-san gave me one of his cheeky grins, "I can even give you some stuff for your place, me and my sister live together and we have a lot of extra stuff lying around from when I moved up from our parents house. What do you need?"
I only smiled in reply as he continued on with his rant. It was almost as if he were more excited about the move than I was.
"Hey, once we're finished up here can we go see it? Your place?"
He looked really determined, so I nodded in reply.
"Yes! Let's hurry up then! We can take my car."
Less than ten minutes later we were out of the studio an onto the streets of Tokyo in Daigoro-san's car.
"Where is it at?" Daigoro-san asked as he handed his GPS device to me.
I plugged in the address and placed it back onto the dashboard.
"Wow, that's pretty close to the studio. Is it big?"
I shook my head in reply.
I answered the same.
"Not bad—but I guess I'll just have to see for myself."
When we arrived a short time later, we walked into the lobby and into the stairwell.
"Which floor?" Daigoro-san asked as we climbed the stairs.
I held up four fingers.
"Eh? Fourth floor? Isn't that supposed to be bad luck? Probably why it's cheaper…"
From the stairwell I walked down to the first door on the left and pulled out my wallet where I kept the key.
"Room four, zero, two huh?" Daigoro-san read as I opened the door and flipped on the light. "Sorry for intruding!"
We both removed our shoes and stepped into the main area of the apartment with the kitchen attached. The bedroom was to the left separated by glass sliding doors.
"Wow. This is really tiny," Daigoro-san said. "But it kind of suits you… Where's the bathroom? Do you mind if I use it?"
I lead him into the bedroom area and pointed to the door on the left.
I returned to the living room area and put my cell phone and coat on the counter that separated the kitchen from the rest of the room. I looked around and noticed just how empty this place was. I wondered how long it would take me to adjust to it.
I looked again through the small pantry and cupboards that were available, taking mental notes as to how much space I had for things that I might need.
Daigoro-san reappeared with the usual grin plastered to his face, "We should have a housewarming party," he laughed.
"In any case," he continued, "I think we have an extra microwave and a television at my place if you want it. When are you moving in tomorrow?"
"…Morning," I replied.
"Oh yeah, we have morning off tomorrow don't we? With Tadashi and Ryuutarou-san doing their thing… Well, that settles it, I'm going to pick you up tomorrow and I'm going to help you move in. I've got nothing better to do with my time off," he laughed a bit, "and besides, moving into places is really exciting for me."
"Thanks," I replied.
"No worries. I suppose with Ryuutarou working tomorrow morning, you'd be by yourself anyway, right?"
"Well, should I drop you off at Ryuutarou-san's place then? It's getting kind of late."
I nodded again, picking up my things off the counter.
"But geez, this place is pretty small," Daigoro-san said as we left the apartment, "It seems like it may only be like six tatami mats in size, minus the kitchen and bathroom… You sure you can handle that?"
I nodded again in reply.
"If you insist," he shrugged, "Poor Ryuutarou-san is going to be so lonely."
To Be Continued…
Someone give me an idea for who I should draw next! Ryuutarou? Inohiko? Tadashi? Daigoro? Yasu? Random assistants? Haha...