Title: "Je Vous Proteregai Toujours"
Pairings: Gackt/Kami/Gackt, unrequited Mana/Gackt, OC/Kami
Chapter Three: Back to the Drawing Board
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“ So…” Mana once again handed the note to the person sitting to his left at the table, Yu-ki. “ Are you all sure you’ve never seen this handwriting?”
Everyone shook their heads, Kami shifting nervously in his seat. After they all got the note and the pictures, they all passed them around for a few minutes, trying to figure out if it was a practical joke by any of the members. Finally, they all had sat down to try to figure out the situation.
“ I really, really don’t think we all should be taking this seriously.” Kami muttered, embarrassed by everything, hair hiding his face. “ I mean, this is just some joke…”
“ It sounds like a stalker to me.” Kozi piped up next to Gackt, who was sitting on Kami’s right.
“ Kami, can you tell us everything that happened last night?” Yu-ki inquired, looking over the pictures and note with an odd look on his face, as if he was feeling disbelief, worry, and shock all at the same time.
The drummer nodded reluctantly. “ I got back from my parents’ house last night, talked to Gaz on the phone, cleaned my house, and took a bath. I was making some dinner when I heard a knock at the door…”
Gackt tensed. Kami had not told him about that last night.
Kami noticed Gackt’s reaction, and sorrowfully mouthed “sorry” to his dilapidated friend before continuing. “ I opened the door, and no one was there, but there was something taped to my mailbox. I went out to check, and I found the first note…”
“ Do you have it?” Mana interrupted.
The long-haired man nodded, pulling a crumpled piece of paper out of his bag and handed it to the leader. “ I brushed it off, at first…” He continued as the beautiful man across from him un-crumpled the paper and read it silently. “ Then, I got this strange phone call a minute or so later. They were silent, and then before they hung up, whoever was on the other line, they laughed really strangely. I sort of…got freaked out, and…er…ran to Gackt’s apartment.”
Kozi let out a snicker, which instantly died out as Mana gave him the letter to read. His eyes widened as they skimmed over the text, then he frowned. “ Damn…”
“ Did anything happen after you left?” Yu-ki inquired. Kami tensed again, getting him an alarmed look from Gackt.
“ Kami?” He asked, inwardly panicking. If they’ve done anything to hurt Kamimura, I’ll personally find them and kill whoever’s pulling off this joke.
“ Well…” Kami ducked his head in shame as Kozi passed the first note to Yu-ki. “ I’m not sure…but I swore that, when I was walking to the bus stop, I heard someone following me.
Everyone at the table besides Kami jumped slightly, eyes wide.
“ I mean, I’m not sure!” Kami instantly added, waving his arms, beginning to feel flustered and nervous. “ I just thought I heard footsteps following me, that’s all! I mean, he didn’t get on the bus with me…”
“ Did you get a look at him?” Mana asked. Kami shuddered a moment, then nodded.
“ Yeah. They were tall, and wearing a long, gray parka with a hood. I think they had black pants and shoes, but I couldn’t tell, since the rain and the streetlights were distorting things a bit. I didn’t get a good look at the guy’s face, since his hood covered it, and the one time I saw him he ducked out of sight, and I basically ran for my life the rest of the way to the bus stop.”
“ W-why didn’t you tell me?” Gackt asked, dismay and hurt in his eyes. Kami bit his lip when he heard the concern in his best friend’s voice, feeling like crying.
“ I-I don’t know, I mean…” He paused and rubbed frustratingly at his eyes, voice breaking slightly. Why do I have to be such a damn wimp when it comes to these things and my emotions?! “ I already bothered you enough about it last night, at twelve, even! I mean, I didn’t want to sound like I was paranoid, or to bother you about something that might be nothing to worry about at all…Please don’t be mad…”
Gackt smiled slightly and gave Kami’s hand a soft squeeze under the table. “ I’m not mad, just worried. You need to tell us these things Kami. If they’re scaring you or threatening you in any way, we need to know.”
Kami nodded rapidly. “ I’m sorry, guys…”
“ I don’t think this is just “nothing”, Kami.” Yu-ki spoke up after a long pause, handing the first note back to Mana. “ From what I can tell, this guy knows your personal name, your address, your home number, where you’re working, and is stalking you.” The bassist put his head in his hands and sighed loudly. “ Damnit, who is this creep?”
Kozi watched Mana as the graceful man set both notes and pictures on the table in a straight line, smoothing out the creases with his soft hands, long black hair falling in his face. “ Do you notice something, Mana?”
Mana peered up at his best friend with his dark brown eyes and nodded. “ In fact, you can find out a lot of things from these notes. First of all, this person is a foreigner, either from Britain or America.”
“ Really?” Gackt piped up, all of the band mates scooting their chairs over to crowd closer to man, who looked uncomfortable at the sudden swarming. “ How can you tell?”
“ Look.” Mana pointed at the last line in each of the notes. “ In the world, the only two main countries who don’t use the metric system are America and Great Britain. In these notes, the person is using “miles” instead of “kilometers”.”
Everyone nodded and agreed, all kicking themselves for not having noticed it before.
“ Secondly, this person knows personal things about Kami.” The gothic man continued. “ So, this person is one of two people, either a personal friend of Kami’s, or a co-worker somewhere in our band system. Now, there are two more possibilities. This person today could have followed Gackt and Kami from Kami’s house to the stadium in the midst of all of the traffic and confusion, parked on the street, since Gackt said that no one followed he and Kami into the parking garage, got out of his car, and managed to run all the way around the building or through the garage to get into position for the pictures. You can obviously see this is unlikely. So, the only other option is that the man, I’ll call him a man for now, knew where we were going to be practicing and waited. So, this means that the man has knowledge of our schedule, and since only you all, the workers at the Tokyo Dome, and our many support members knew we were going to be here, it puts him into the category of one of those things.”
“ Wow, Mana.” Kami oggled at his superior. “ You’re smart.”
Mana snorted, amused. “ I’m not that intelligent, I’m observant. Now, the notes are in hiragana, and are written very clumsily and basically, meaning that this foreigner has only been here for maybe a few months or so, since he seems to not have the confidence to write in Japanese fluently yet, or they were nervous, and trying to disguise their handwriting, but my foreigner analogy still stands. What’s more…”
“ Yes…” Gackt pressed, only to reel back when Mana held the first note up to his face.
“ Oookkkaaayyy…” Gackt frowned, sniffed deeply, and exhaled. “ Yeah, it reeks of cologne.”
“ So does the second note.” Mana nodded, then snatched the note back from Gackt and handed it to Kami. “ Now, our little perfume addict, do you recognize it?”
Kami inhaled, eyes closed, and shook his head. “ No, it’s horrible, though. It smells really, really cheap.”
“ Meaning, that our man either has bad taste, or is broke. Probably bad taste, since he’s obviously sprayed so much on himself, it’s making everything reek.” Mana plucked the note back and put it on top of the second note. “ Now, there’s one last thing we could do that might cinch the identity of our stalker here and now.”
“ And that is…” Yu-ki asked.
Mana frowned a moment, licked his lips, then stood, snatching up the two photos on the table and walking to the door. “ Kozi, run and find an instant camera and a few security detail, then join the rest of us at the parking garage. I think we can forgo a few hours of practice to get rid of a dangerous nuisance.”
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Mana, Yu-ki, Kami, and Gackt walked into the parking lot a few minutes later, cautiously on the look out for anyone strange, all of them on edge. The only sounds were the dripping of water on the concrete from some corner of the structure and the sounds of nearby Tokyo traffic outside. The levels of the building provided shade from the bright outside sun.
“ Creepy…” Yu-ki shuddered, then turned to their fearless leader, who was glancing around with his arms akimbo. “ Okay, Mana, what are we looking for?”
“ Right.” Mana turned to Kami and Gackt. “ Your car’s over there, Gackt. Can you and Kami demonstrate how you were standing and how you walked to the entrance this morning?”
The lead vocalist and the drummer glanced at each other for a moment, but did so, walking to Gackt’s car and back to the entrance two times to satisfy Mana. “ What is this supposed to do to help us?” Gackt demanded, feeling irate and bothered by the whole situation.
Just then, Kozi dashed up, an old battered instant camera clutched in his arms, a security guard trailing him, looking annoyed and highly un-amused. “ Got one from this girl at the front desk. Is this good?”
“ Perfect, Kouji. Thank you.” Mana snatched up the camera and briskly walked over to a nearby pillar on their left. He pulled the photos out of his pocket again, took one or two minutes to study them, then put them away and nodded to his drummer and vocalist. “ Okay, Kami and Gackt, I want you two to demonstrate your walk you two took to the door from the car this morning again, and don’t stop until I tell you both to.”
“ But…” Kami began, but instantly clamped his mouth shut at an icy “you-had-better-obey-me” look from the smaller man. “ Okay, okay. Let’s go, Gackt.”
Gackt was obviously miffed, but did as he was told, not wanting to piss off the leader of the band and also curious as to what he was doing. As they walked back and forth several times, they watched Mana intently. The doll-like man would trail them with the camera, often shifting his position from left to right, back and forth, moving quickly and gracefully in his platform shoes, giving off an air of concentration and confidence.
Finally, after the twelfth repetition, Mana raised his hand, giving the two the permission to stop, who both were grateful to take a break. “ Alright. Comparing this shot from this camera to the angle, distance, and light in the pictures, the man was standing in this general area when he took the photographs.” The beautiful man announced to the group when they were all standing around him. “ Now, if you two know the time you entered the building, we can use this kind security man…” Mana gave a glance at the bulky fellow on his far right. “ To review the security footage from the camera that captures this corner, we can easily figure out who’s been stalking Kami, and arrest him for harassment and endangerment.”
Nobody said anything, just nodded and glanced at each other, everything suddenly making perfect sense. Gackt nodded over and over, secretly admiring Mana for finding such a quick solution to the problem, a solution that he would never have even considered.
“ Now…” Mana turned to the rent-a-cop. “ Please take us to the monitoring room. I’m almost certain that after your superiors hear about your selfless efforts to aid the number-one band in Asia in catching a ruthless stalker, you’ll have promotions behind your wildest dreams.”
The rent-a-cop, who was looking bored and disgruntled initially, quickly warmed up to Mana’s semi-subtle manipulations, and tried his best to look pleased and benevolent. “ Sure thing, Mana-san. If you and your friends just follow me…”
He quickly turned around and strutted to the entrance, chest puffed out proudly like a hen’s. Mana followed the man, shaking his head silently either in amusement or disbelief at how gullible the security guard was. Kozi and Yuki trailed behind the two, cackling and laughing at the rent-a-cop’s preening, and Gackt and Kami followed the others, taking their time and bringing up the rear of the strange group.
“ I’m so glad this is almost over…” Kami breathed in relief. “ I barely got any sleep last night worrying about this…”
“ I know.” Gackt chuckled, wrapping an arm around Kami’s shoulder semi-protectively. “ Next time, though, don’t hesitate.”
“ I won’t, I’m sorry.”
“ Yeah…” Gackt suddenly stopped at the entrance, staring at the ground, causing Kami to gaze at him oddly.
“ Gackt, you okay?”
“ Hn? Oh, yeah.” The vocalist shook his head and looked at the long-haired drummer with a soft smile on his face. “ Listen, no matter what happens, if you need anyone, I’ll be here, Kami.”
Kami blinked at the man for a few seconds, before grinning and nodding. “ Thank you Gackt. Thank you.”
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“ Now, what time did you say it was…?” The rent-a-cop, formally known as Tsumachiro-san, inquired as he sat in the black-leather swivel chair in front of the security screens.
“ Sometime around ten, give or take.” Gackt answered in his deep, tenor voice. Tsumachiro grunted, then pressed a few keys on the console in front of him.
“ It’ll take me a moment to rewind, please be patient.”
“ Of course…” Mana muttered. While he didn’t show it physically, all of his fellow band mates knew that the man was radiating happiness at the experience of being able to see everything going on at the building. His eyes darted with blinding speed from one screen to the next.
“ He’s such a control freak.” Gackt muttered, causing Kozi to elbow him.
“ You are, too.” The guitarist retorted. Then, quietly, he wondered aloud, “ I wonder where Mana figured out the camera trick…”
“ He’s a fashion designer. He probably knows all about angles and lighting and stuff from when he does photo shoots.” Kami piped up. “ I actually hear he’s trying to open up a shop, is it true?” He asked Kozi, who was known as one of Mana’s best friends.
Kozi glanced around the security booth for a moment before nodding, making sure he was whispering when he replied. “ Yeah, Mana’s negotiating a deal right now. It’s probably going to go through, since it’s way too much money in a bad part of town, but he’s definitely trying.”
“ Awesome!” Kami beamed, then started to laugh evilly. “ Soon, thousands of Gothic Lolitas will be prowling the streets of Harujuki and Shinjuku, thirsting for blllooooooddd…”
Kozi, Gackt, and Yu-ki shook their heads sadly and smiled, glad to see that their friend was happy again and not worried and stressed out. Suddenly, Tsumachiro’s voice brought them all back to earth.
“ Here it is. I’ll start playing on a slight fast-forward from nine-forty-five onward.” The rent-a-cop told the group, pointing up to one of the screens on the top left. “ That’s it. Keep your eyes on it.”
The group crowded around Tsumachiro’s chair and began to watch intently as the footage sped through the first ten minutes.
Then, as the footage nine-fifty-five, the six people in the room were startled when the screen suddenly went black.
“ Hey!” Yu-ki exclaimed. “ What the hell happened?!”
“ I-I don’t know!” Tsumachiro rewound the footage again, shaken and sweating, and pushed a few more buttons. “ I’m going to do a frame-by-frame slowdown.”
Everyone watched again, and approximate at nine-fifty-four, they noticed a pole reach up to the camera with what looked like a black hat or sock wrapped around it. As Gackt watched, he felt a sinking feeling in his stomach as he watched the pole cover up the security camera’s lens, blocking the garage from view.
“ Damnit…” Kozi muttered, and Gackt realized that everyone but the stewing Tsumachiro felt the same way he did, astounded and now highly agitated. “ This was pre-emptive. It was an inside job. We might as well not look any further.”
Tsumachiro typed a few more keys, voice trembling slightly as he spoke. “ Plus, I rewound the footage back initially to seven o’clock in the morning, and I didn’t notice anyone walking around the lot. So the only thing that explains it is…”
“ They came from inside of the building, blocked the camera, and then found their hiding place.” Mana finished flatly, eyes wide.
Tsumachiro nodded. “ And don’t even ask me for footage of the door…It’s the only blind spot in this whole system.”
“ Brilliant!” Mana snapped, showing uncharacteristic anger at the rent-a-cop, who cowered away from the man. “ That really shows us that the money we pay you people when we perform in your stadium goes to good use. What do you buy with the money, doughnuts?”
“ Don’t make me call more security…” Tsumachiro began, only to be interrupted by the beautiful man’s cold, curt voice, his eyes glaring down at the stocky man viscously.
“ So what? You’ll be the only one to get in trouble for letting us in here. Don’t try my patience. One more wrong word and I’ll have your job. You don’t know what you’re dealing with.” The band leader spat out viscously. He turned to the others. “ Let’s go, there’s nothing we can do here. I’m going to return the camera to the front desk, the rest of you, please go back to the rehearsal room. And while I may sound paranoid for saying this, don’t’ let Kami out of your sights.”
With that, Mana strode out of the room, leaving behind a wave of silence in his wake, Tsumachiro’s whimpering being the only audible thing in the dark room. Yu-ki finally moved towards the door, followed by Kozi, leaving only Gackt and Kami standing behind.
“ Kami?” Gackt inquired, trying not to let his voice shake. “ Kami, let’s go?”
The drummer didn’t respond. He was staring at the ground, skin white, shaking slightly, breathing coming in gasps. Gackt didn’t press any further, instead taking Kami’s clammy, sweaty hand and leading him out of the room.
As they were going down the stairs to the basement level where the practice rooms were, Kami stopped in his tracks, causing Gackt to whirl around to the man, alarmed. “ What’s wrong?!”
“ I’m sorry…” The drummer’s voice was almost inaudible and cracking, and Gackt had to strain to hear his words. “ I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cause trouble…”
“ Oh, Kamimura…” Gackt quickly wrapped his arms around the trembling man and pulled him close, letting the long-haired man press his face into his shoulder. “ It’s going to be okay…”
“ No, no it’s…it’s not…” Kami had to take a deep breath before continuing. “ This is serious, this…he knows where I live, he…I’m scared, Gackt…I’m scared…”
“ Don’t be scared.” Gackt was surprised at how strong and forceful his voice was. “ There’s no reason to be afraid. We’re all here, and we’re not going to let anything bad happen to anyone. Trust me.”
Kami nodded and broke away from Gackt, face pale and eyes troubled. They began to walk again, and Gackt surprised himself when he laced the fingers of his left hand with Kami’s right hand, and was even more astonished when Kami gave him a small squeeze back at such an odd gesture.
As they caught up with Kozi and Yu-ki, Gackt finally realized that his feelings for the drummer ran deeper than friendship. He wasn’t sure how deep they ran, if his feelings were of brotherhood or even worse…of love. As he strode down the hallway, his face was a picture of disinterest and calm, but on the inside he was shaken up and bewildered by everything. Despite his words of comfort to Kami, he knew deep down that the situation was going to get worse, a lot worse, before it got better. And now, faced with his increasing emotions for Kami and given the burden of the fact that Mana had unrequited feelings for him as well, his mind felt bogged down and in a haze. He wasn’t sure what to do next, between his own emotional turmoil and the fact that Kami probably was in serious danger.
However, as he felt the warmth of the other man’s hand underneath his own, one thing was clear. He wasn’t going to let anything happen to Kami. He knew the others felt the same way, especially Yu-ki, who was one of Kami’s closest friends, and would fight to the death for their beloved drummer. Kozi would protect Kami, too, and while Mana was beautiful and clad in the feminine-gothic style he wore he may look weak, Gackt knew that the leader was perhaps the one the stalker should be worrying the most about out of all of Malice Mizer, if he didn’t know that already.
The vocalist knew, however, that he, himself personally, would never let anything happen to Kami. He wouldn’t allow a failure on his part, and would probably hate himself for the rest of his life if he allowed anything to happen to the fun-loving man. Despite whatever he felt for Kami, he was one of the most precious people Gackt had, and he would never let him go if he could help it.
However, Gackt knew in the back of his mind that the fight was just beginning.
No matter, he thought, looking at his best friend out of the corner of his eye. This isn’t going to destroy us, and come hell and high water, we’re not going to let anything happen to you.
I will always protect you, Kami. I promise.
Well, what do you think? Peace out, dudes, and I promise to update soon!