Prompt: 018 ~ Smoke May 2011©
Fandom: Antic Cafe
Focus: Takuya x Akira (FemOC)
Word Count: 2,043
Fandom: Antic Cafe
Focus: Takuya x Akira (FemOC)
Word Count: 2,043
Takuya was living the dream.
He was a real life rock star, the guitarist in an internationally recognized Oshare Kei rock band.
He had the best friends that anyone could ask for, regularly toured the world, ate fantastic food, bought the best of everything, and had his pick of men and women alike who were desperate for his attentions. And he made his amazing living by doing what he loved.
For Takuya, life was good.
And stressful. At the same time as everything about his life was wonderful, Takuya’s life was incredibly, unbearably stressful. Practice, photo-shoots, touring, finding ways to please the fans and the time to write new songs, not to mention trying to fit sleep and relaxation into the hectic lifestyle, all of it combined and compounded to make Takuya’s life incredibly stressful as it was mashed up into a mad-dash schedule that was constantly in flux.
Technically, he had a home address, but the amount of time he was actually able to spend there wasn’t really enough for it to amount to ‘home’. He was always on the move, always in transition. It was a fantastic, stressful and unsettled life.
It was why he smoked.
He kept it mostly away from his public image, but the chemicals that swirled around in his brain were impossible to live without. They forced his mind to quiet for a few moments, no matter where he was. It was an awful and choking way to do it, but it made him feel calm and collected and the bitter taste kept him grounded. It was the most peaceful five minutes of his day.
And right now, peace was something that Takuya needed desperately.
Kanon and Bou were having another of their lover’s rows. Actually, that was underplaying the extremes of the more or less regular event. When Bou and Kanon fought, the show was spectacular. Recently, the fights were getting more and more frequent as Bou and Kanon tried to work out an agreement that let Bou go to school, being completely anonymous and entirely without Kanon for eight hours a day, while giving Kanon the satisfaction of making sure that Bou was safe and sound. And there was something about the band and a possible comeback making its way into their argument as well.
It didn’t actually matter what they were fighting about, all that mattered was that they were fighting, again. Kanon had run off to take over Teruki’s apartment and Bou had come to invade Takuya’s. And Miku wasn’t helping. Right now, Miku was inside making things worse like the devilish diva he was and Takuya needed a moment to himself. He’d slipped outside as Miku had said something or other, again, to make Bou swear and cry, again, and Takuya had sighed, again.
Out on the open air landing of his apartment, Takuya took a deep breath of the late winter air. The only hint of spring was that the daylight hours now stretched out the cold of day without giving its chill the excuse of night. Takuya leaned on the railing and stared out at the bleak grey sky, feeling the cold wind as it clipped across his features. His jewelry, the necklaces, rings and piercings, were all ice against his skin in seconds, but Takuya embraced the numbing feeling without a shiver.
After a moment, and hearing something inside his apartment bang with a massive impact, Takuya reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his pack of Marlboro Light. Tapping out a white wrapped cylinder, Takuya fished around for his lighter. His fingers found nothing but the smoothe fabric of his pockets. Takuya murmured a curse and pulled the cigarette from his lips angrily. His lighter must have fallen out while Bou was clinging to him, half in desperate distress, and half using Takuya as a supplement for the boyfriend he wanted to shake some sense into.
It took Takuya a long second to notice that a hand holding a lighter hand lowered into view and that the disinterested voice echoing about the landing belonged to the hand’s owner.
“Go on, take it,” the feminine voice coaxed, gesturing with the lighter to encourage the action.
Out of blank reaction Takuya held out his hand and watched as the lighter dropped into it. Staring at the thin container of butane, Takuya mumbled, “Thanks.”
He carefully set his cigarette aflame before holding the lighter up to return it as its own laughed softly and said, “No problem.”
Tipping his head back, Takuya strained his neck to see her. He wondered how she’d managed to reach down so far from the landing above. When he saw her hanging with her knees thrown lightly over the higher railing, her back pressed against the outside of the rails, he didn’t quite register the sight. Her expression was completely relaxed, slightly bored even. It was an improbable sight to say the least.
As realization took root, Takuya’s eyes widened. His mouth dropped open and he very nearly lost his grip on his cigarette. “What the hell are you doing?”
She shrugged, as odd gesture to view at this inverted angle. Takuya couldn’t believe it. “Get down from there! It’s dangerous!” Takuya shoved his box of cigarettes in his pocket and reached up to help her down.
Waving his hands aside, she commanded, “Back up.”
Before Takuya could really react, she reached up behind her to grab the floor of the landing she was hanging from and let go of the rail with her legs. Hands latched firmly onto the landing, she was able to swing easily down to join Takuya. He just stared at her, dumbfounded, as she brushed herself off and adjusted the way her skirt laid over her tights.
Then with a chipper smile, she held out her hand and said, “Akira desu!”
“Takuya.” He was wary as he took her offered hand. “What were you doing up there?”
“It looked nice,” Akira said with a shrug. “The sky, I mean. When I’m upside down like that, it always looks nice.”
“Do you do that a lot?”
Akira went to stand at the rail, leaning on her elbows as she stared out over the streets below. “Not really, not regularly.”
“You shouldn’t. Ever,” Takuya pointed out. He may have had the sweet exterior of the boy next door in Antic Café, but few would really believe that his protective older-brother complex was genuine. Usually, looking after Bou and Miku used up all of his energy, but right now that fretful streak was flaring to life with new energy. “It’s dangerous.”
“And that isn’t?” Akira returned with a smile and snark, looking pointedly at Takuya’s cigarette.
“It’s not the same,” Takuya said defensively.
“Yes, it is.” Akira explained, “It’s just the same. It’s an escape.” She looked back at him and asked, “How’s your little friend doing in there without you?”
Takuya’s eyes flicked to his door in a glance that wasn’t quite wincing. “He’ll be fine, he’s just having a little spat with his boyfriend.”
“He? Wow, pretty face he’s got there. And he’s got a boyfriend? Shame.”
“What’s wrong with any of that?” Takuya demanded, his tone protectively sharp. Bou and Kanon had faced enough disapproval in their lifetimes, they didn’t need any more.
Akira only laughed. “He’s gorgeous. But I can’t very well go around stealing someone else’s boyfriend, now can I? Pretty as he is, I’m not surprised he’s already spoken for.”
“Sorry,” Takuya sighed.
“It’s okay. Actually, I think it’s nice that you accept him like that, enough to protect him,” Akira returned with a slightly wistful tone.
Takuya didn’t have a response to that. After a second he decided that he needed to say something and chose to revert the conversation to its starting point. “I’m escaping a woe-is-me wonder boy with a socially acceptable carcinogen, what blue elephant are you trying to escape by hanging off the side of a building?”
“A little of this, a little of that,” she replied, nonchalantly, turning away from Takuya to stare back at the cityscape. “You know, Life.”
“But hanging off a building? Isn’t that a little extreme?” Takuya asked, coming to join her at the railing. He took his time blowing a perfect ring of smoke, watching Akira watch him out of the corner of his eye. Takuya didn’t say anything, for hope that she would respond somehow.
She sighed, seemingly having decided something. “It changes perspective, you know? It changes perspective, and blood flow to the head, just like smoking, and stronger drugs do, but you’re perfectly fine after words. No side effects, no lasting delirium; if it does kill me it’ll be quick and not because of anything I’ll have time to regret.”
Again, Takuya found himself with nothing to say. He wasn’t one of the most talkative members in An Café, so the circumstance that Takuya would not respond wasn’t terribly unusual. It was rare however that he found that he could not respond. Akira’s statements had been simple enough, but even with a light tone they carried some hidden weight and here highly critical of Takuya’s choice of escapism. She began to fiddle absently with the lighter in her hands, looking out over the city streets below.
Takuya reached over and put his hand on the swirling metal. He felt it pause suddenly as Akira froze. Pretending he didn’t notice, Takuya pulled it from her fingers and clicked the flame to life. He felt her tension ease a small fraction as she stared into the flame.
“Why do you have this?”
It had been bothering him for a while. She seemed to be so adamantly against his drug habit, and yet of the pair of them, it was she that had been carrying the lighter. He’d only met Akira ten minutes ago, and this question seemed to be stepping over the bounds of that acquaintance, but at the same time it felt like he’d known her longer than that, long enough to make his curiosity anything but nosy.
“If I told you that drugs killed my brother, would assume that he’d gotten sick?” Akira asked, telling a part of her story in the question.
“Yeah,” Takuya replied, knowing that he was supposed to.
“If I told you that his friends were loyal and good and with him to the end, would you believe me?” Akira didn’t wait for Takuya to respond before she added bitterly, “They really did help him on his way.”
Takuya didn’t say anything. Instead he clipped the lighter closed and passed it back to the girl it belonged to. He didn’t look at her as she took it back, but he did smile softly.
“I suppose that regret is something to avoid living with,” he said after a while. “But I’ve already got enough of it hanging on my shoulders. A little cancer here or there isn’t gonna cut down my life span half as much as some of the other things I’ve done.”
“You should really fix that, it’s not really a healthy lifestyle.” None of the previous strain remained in her voice as she nearly laughed. She glanced at her watch and suddenly backed away from the railing. As Takuya turned around, she was giving him a once-over and stretching herself out. “I’ll see you around then, ne? Takuya-kun?”
“Yeah, see ya,” he replied. His words weren’t necessary though, as Akira had already begun to trot away and mostly likely hadn’t heard. Her footsteps thumped down the stairs of the apartment building and she headed off in the direction of the cool yellow orb of the setting sun.
Takuya blew another smoke ring, briefly wondering if Akira hadn’t simply been some sort of illusion, he hadn’t been getting enough sleep lately after all. She’d vanished as thoroughly as the smoke ring, simply dissipating into the surroundings, leaving no trace. Well, that wasn’t entirely true.
Akira’s traces were in the smoke itself, and in the stirring of his thoughts. Just as the smoke left an ashy taste in his mouth, she’d left a humming in his head.
And then another loud bang echoed from inside Takuya’s apartment. Sighing, Takuya stubbed out his cigarette and left it to smolder out in an ashtray as he stormed back inside shouting, “Miku! What did you break this time?”