Purely Platonic Chapter 4 Part 1
Pairing : Nakamaru/ a girl
Genre : Friendship, romance, humour
Rating : General
Flame : No, please
Summary : Nakamaru Yuichi found 2008 to be a very busy year. Concerts and all of those idols rituals, plus he's in Waseda now. But several things changed in his life. He will have a girl as a best friend, who made his life more enjoyable and meant a lot for him, and he finally confessed to the girl he has like for two years. Let's go see through Maru's life and feelings.....
Takeba Rie. Or her pen name as a mangaka : Kirijo Yukari
“Konnichiwa, senpai!” a boy greeted.
“Ah, konnichiwa!” Maru said, walking past the corridors.
“Konnichiwa, Nakamaru-san!” another voice greeted. As he walked down from the rehearsal room to the elevator and down to the cafeteria, more greetings were addressed to him and Maru answered all of it, though maybe he didn’t see all of the people who greeted him. He entered the cafeteria and stood in line. It was a short line and there were three juniors in front of him. He didn’t know their names though, but as soon as they saw him, they moved aside, saying, “Douzo, senpai. You first”
Astonished, Maru pulled his hand from his jacket pocket and waved mildly, “It’s okay, you guys go ahead”
“Iie, senpai. You go ahead” one of the boy said.
“Um, okay, if you’re sure. I won’t be long ne”
He then picked the plate and bowls, took a generous amount of food, placed it on his tray and moved along to the tables. Junno and Jin waved to him from the center of the room, halfway done with their lunch.
“Oi, Nakamura, in here!” Jin called, deliberately mistaking his surname. Maru walked to their table and sat down, noticing some of their juniors sitting at the table around them nodding their heads at him. He started to eat, half listening to Jin and Junno’s bickering of some of Junno’s antics and then lost himself in thought.
It’s been years. Yeah, years, since he first entered the jimusho. Maru looked around the room and remembered what it felt like back then, sitting there as one of the new juniors, in a room full of the most famous people in
Nowadays, juniors greeted him all over the building. A word from him and a boy would bow deeply, exhilarated with his greetings and look at him with shiny, amazed expression. He got lots of invitations from the kohais and friends to go for drinking, karaoke, party, and other things.
Do these kids see me like I saw my senpais back then?
People know me now. I see billboards of myself in the streets, and my face on TV. I have surely come a long way from the junior days.
He remembers that he had this wish, a wish that was deep and sometimes turned to envy. Sometimes turn to anger, or led him to desperation.
It became a dream, then something he was afraid he will never achieve.
Back then, all he wanted, what his eyes, body and soul screamed as he looked at all the famous senpai around him, was one thing.
He was 15 when he first entered the Jimusho. This big agency full of stars of the entertainment world. At first, it was something that felt just like another high school club. His friends at school registered him to Johnny’s. One afternoon after the soccer club ended, four of his closest friends cornered him, grinning like they know the secret of the world.
“Hey, Yu, guess what?” one of them asked.
Maru gulped, feeling uneasy. There must be something alarming right, if his friends corner him like this?
“You’re called for an audition with Johnny’s Entertainment”
“You have an audition” the other friend said, “for Johnny’s Entertainment”
For a while he did nothing except blinking at them, then he let out an indifferent laugh. “Yeah right, sure. And I’ll be dancing with Amuro Namie tonight. Haha. That was a good one guys” Maru said, starting to enter his sports uniform to his bag.
“Oi, we’re not joking, we’re serious!”
“Here, read this!” an envelope was thrown at him. It was written for Nakamaru Yuichi, though with the address of his school, not his house. Maru squinted his eyes. Well, it looks official, typed and all that. So he opened it and read the letter. It was said that he was invited to the first audition of the next Johnny’s Entertainment Junior Member the following week.
It is real.
Then he was panicking.
“But why would I want to go to an audition? I don’t want this! Here!” he said, shoving the letter to his friend. “You can have it!”
“Why wouldn’t you? It’s the place where V6, Kinki, and Hideaki Takizawa, and those stars come from! You should be glad we registered you!”
“You! You will be dead!” Maru threatened, pointing his finger at his friend, trying his best to make a threatening expression.
“What? It’s cool if you can be a star. You’ll be famous, and be rich! You definitely gotta try this one! It won’t hurt to try!”
Maru came to the audition with his mother. He thought, “Why not? What do I have to lose anyway? If I don’t make it, it’s okay. If I do? Well, think about it later”. He came to the wrong place. Wrong tower. And met another kid, a couple of years younger than him, fair, thin, gawky, bushy eyebrows. After almost an hour sitting there with no other people coming, his mother called the number written at his audition invitation.
And then his mother said,
”Yuichi, this is the wrong place, the wrong tower! Come on, there’s still time, let’s go! You too, follow me and Yuichi. But we have to be quick! We have to run!”
After that, his mother started to run. Maru then ran after her, and Kame followed suit. They ran to the elevator, go down, ran for three blocks, and then arrived at the right building. While they all ran, the boy said to him, looking to Maru’s mother who was running far ahead of them, “Woah, your mom can really run! Look! She beats us easily!” Kame said, as Maru’s mother dashed so fast ahead of them.
“Yeah!” Maru agreed, stopped talking to gain some air and said, “I never knew she could run this fast! Should we run this fast anyway?”
“Mochiron! We can’t lose to your mum!” the boy laughed and gain some speed, Maru grinned, feeling this whole situation is funny, he ran with a stranger in Shibuya, following his Mom, to an idol audition. That sounds super strange, but he kept up with the boy anyway. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Kamenashi. Hey, look, your mum entered a building!”
And so they all safely arrived at the audition. They were all given a number card attached with strings to be put around their neck. They all introduced themselves shortly to four men and a women sitting at a long table. Danced as best as they know how with music playing, while an old man walked round and round the room, peering at them all and making notes.
Maru said he could play guitar. He lied, actually he couldn’t play any music instrument at all. He didn’t give it much thought, he just said it. He just wanted to say something special, anything. Other kids sings like angels, play piano, guitar, violin. Speaks English, French, Spanish. He can’t do anything else except soccer. And there was no grass field and soccer ball there, so he lied and said he could play guitar. It was dangerous, what if they ask him to play a song? But luckily he was not asked to do that.
There was a break for lunch, and after that, a big white board was placed, with numbers of the boys who got in. Surprisingly, his number was one of it. His mother hugged him (who waited patiently during the audition at a café nearby) and informed she would wait him to come home at the gate, when he is done.
A boy stood beside him, looking aghast, like he was going to be sick. Maybe he didn’t get in? Feeling sympathetic—maybe this boy really wish to join, unlike him who came with a nothing to lose spirit—Maru approached the boy and tap him on the shoulder.
“Hey, are you okay?”
The boy looked at him and frowned a little, like he was wondering why Maru talk to him, “Huh? Me? I’m alright”
“You look rather pale. Is your house far? Can you go home by yourself?”
The boy scratched his forehead, “Oh. My house is one station away”, the boy then looked down at his feet, like he was in shock.
“It’s okay, you know. If you really want this, you can try this again sometime” Maru consoled.
“What? Oh! The audition? I got in”
“That’s good! But why you look like you’re going to be sick?”
“I’m surprised. That’s all. Didn’t think I’ll got in. Well, if I don’t it’s okay anyway. My number wasn’t on the board, and I was just coming back to that room to give my number card, forgot to do it, you know? I met an old man and asked where I should give the number card, and then he said, “Oh YOU! YOU’re in! You’re through!”
Maru was nodding to the story, maybe this boy just need to tell what’s on his mind.
“And it appeared that that old man is Johnny Kitagawa himself” the boy said in a serious tone.
“HEEE! Maji ka yo?” Maru asked, “You mean that old man who walked around the room?”
“Yeah. I was shocked. If I didn’t give my card back, I wouldn’t get in. Funny. I feel really happy now. I didn’t think much, but now that I’m in, I’m happy!” the boy smiled happily.
“Nakamaru!” a voice called and Maru looked around, finding the boy from earlier, Kamenashi, walking to him.
“Hey, you’re still here, then you’re in too?” Kamenashi asked.
“Yeah, I am. I’m lucky” Maru answered.
“Me too” Kamenashi smiled.
“He’s in too. Oh yeah, what’s your name?” Maru asked to the boy beside him, who was still looking rather out of space.
“I’m Akanishi” the boy smiled. “Nice to meet you guys”
In the beginning, he did it all like a clock. Following orders, from meager interest to gradually excited after several months. It was school, soccer, the train, jimusho, train, sleep. His life was an organized cycle of routines. He was glad to meet new friends and try new things like “Vocal Harmonization Class”. The name of his classes in his training schedule felt new and strange when he pronounced it. Acting class, dancing class, music class.
It was all simple until he realized the differences between kohai and senpai in the jimusho. He started to hear about “rivalry”. Of “trying to get there”. Meaning, to debut, sing in front of thousands of fans, with kohai as back dancers. Or be the leading actor of a dorama. They were all friends, all of the kohai. But they are rivals too. Conscious or not, trying to gain attention.
Senpai like Kinki Kids, Tsubasa and Takki, V6, and TOKIO have their own changing rooms at concerts. Complete with food, snacks, refrigerator, and a card from Johnny Kitagawa written : “I hope your concert will be a success. Good luck!”. While Juniors, like him, changed their clothes on the stairs, hanging costumes at the railing. Or if you’re a very lucky kohai, at the far corner of your senpai’s dressing room.
Senpai have stylists with diploma from hair and make up studies, who brush their faces to perfection it looks excellent on the stage. They manicured, they changed your hair style every month. And sometimes give you advice like “to have enough sleep, drink less, and don’t party every night”.
Senpai stood at the center of the stage, basking under the spotlight, the attention of all audience. While you stood at the corner of the stage, behind three taller juniors, unseen, unheard, unknown.
The difference is that big.
You want to be seen, you want to be heard. You want the attention. You want the audience to sit there, paying to hear you sing.
You want to be special.
Johnny Kitagawa was sitting leisurely at his office at the top of JE building, the
He has no appointments until three, and was currently leaning his head at his big comfortable chair, randomly switching radio channels with a remote control. The radio set is one of the most modern products. He has no computer in his desk, but there is TV and Radio there in his office, to keep him company when he has time to relax or searching for inspiration. Changing channels, he finally found a good channel that airs the current recent songs of the month.
“Next” the radio host said, “We will hear “Key Of Life” from Nakamaru Yuichi of KAT-TUN”.
Key of Life? Johnny-san chuckled. How odd. A title not fit for a song targeted for young people. So this Nakamaru claimed that he knows what the key of life is? Let’s listen to what he has to say then. It’s an easy listening song, not a bad voice too, he thought, while contemplating what to do next, reading his schedule for the next week, or read the selling reports of recent singles selling. That was before a sentence from the song stopped his hands in midair.
This Nakamaru said that the Key of Life is to love someone and being loved back with that person.
He stopped doing anything else and sat properly, listening to that song until the end. He sat at the edge of his chair, looking like he was ready to jump at any moment. His sister, Mary Kitagawa, would know that this pose of his, similar like a dog finding something funny and ready to run for it, meant that he has found an idea.
The song ended. He contemplated for three seconds. Than reached for his phone and called through intercom : “Noriko, I want Nakamaru Yuichi”.
It was a full intake of breath (which was considered a long time for his senior secretary to respond), until she asked full of dignity, “I beg your pardon, Sir?”
“I want Nakamaru Yuichi. Bring me a comprehensive profile of him. Now”
“Just a moment, Sir. Ten minutes and I’ll give you a complete report”
“Make it five, Noriko. You know how I hate to wait”
“Very well, Sir”
Johnny-san poured over Maru’s profile, reading everything Noriko put in. A stack of pictures. From concerts, rehearsals, interviews. A DVD was enclosed of all his performance caught on tape since he entered the jimusho. Recent interview transcripts from magazines and TV. Had he asked for every transcript Maru ever did, Noriko will ask another five minutes and will give him a thick folder contained of everything Maru ever said publicly.
“Hmmmm…………….” he heaved a long contemplating sigh over the files on his desk and muttered to himself.
“Special talent : beatboxing. That funny noise from your throat. General image from his friends : peace maker of the group”
“One or two gossips with girls…but nothing major or anything scandalous. No sleeping around, no drinking around….”
“Duet with Tanaka in comedy skits…radio shows…What?” his old wrinkling eyes went wide. “Recently accepted in
He quickly reached his phone again and pressed the intercom.
“Noriko, how many days does Nakamaru have for his day off this year?”
“I’ll check, Sir”
Half a second later and Noriko answered, “Six days, Sir”
Indeed. Only six days off and he managed to enter Waseda. With all the tight schedule of KAT-TUN, he must have study around midnight to be able to do it. The profile further stated that he was enrolled for “correspondent studies”. He might know every trick to monopolize the Japanese press, but he had no idea what correspondent studies meant. He had to ask Noriko again, who explained it to him dutifully.
“Great time management…..And a sense of putting his job above everything else….Hum…I like this boy….”
He summoned Noriko to his office and the moment she opened his door, asked, “I want to do something unpredictable in 2008”
“Will you, Sir?” Noriko asked, clasping her hands in a calm pose, waiting for orders.
“Yes! I want to make a solo concert for a KAT-TUN member!” Johnny-san proclaimed.
“And that would be for Kamenashi or Akanishi, Sir?”
“Neither!” he denied in triumph. “For Nakamaru Yuichi!”
Noriko was dying to ask “Why would you?” but decided to say nothing.
“Because I have a feeling it will be a success, and because I want to!” he explained, though unasked.
Rie said to Maru that she has a “Thank You Plan”. And she wasn’t joking. She really has a plan, something she will give Maru and was confident that he will be happy with it. If she succeeds, that is.
Maru has given her so much. Without that one single simple sketch of Masaharu, the ugly character, Beast and Beauty won’t be finished. And also for accompanying her on so many nights of drawing hurriedly near the deadline. For being a friend who understands so much. For making her comfortable, for spending hours talking with her at the dead of the night, for all those times he ran to the nearest store to buy ink or pen for her. For simply being Nakamaru Yuichi and being her best friend.
So, Maru seems like he has everything. A caring family, a bunch of friends who often pick on him but actually like him. Money, from all those performances, singles, albums, and concerts. A car, fans all over
She knows who Maru likes. It’s Takashima Aya. The anchor of Mezamashi TV. Maru himself told her that : “I think she is pretty and nice to talk to. We met every time KAT-TUN is interviewed by Zoom In and that’s several times a year. I like her since around 2006, maa—at first it was because she laughed at my joke. Sometimes I met her in parties and she was always nice. I have her number and sent several text messages in the past. But it seems she changed her number now, well, I haven’t text her again in more than a year. I’ve confessed twice, and—“there Maru sighed, “have been rejected twice. She didn’t really explain why. But I heard that she is dating steadily for a couple of years now. Perhaps engaged”
Maru’s face looked forlornly sad, and he didn’t continue to talk for several minutes. That was when Rie decided that she will try to bring Takashima Aya and Maru together, if she can.
Having made up her mind, Rie planned strategies and steps to win the battle. She looks for information about Aya—that’s how Rie call her in her head. Because really, when she becomes Maru’s girlfriend, she becomes like a sister to her. She searched the internet, and found Aya’s official blog. She read everything from the first entry to the last. Rie then knew what Aya likes and dislikes. Where she came from, her birthday, her apartment address, her parent’s address, even what she ate for lunch that day (because she wrote it in her blog).
She watched Aya anchoring for Mezamashi TV (now Rie is more aware of the entertainment gossips than she ever was in her life). She wrote down the shops Aya went for shopping at Shibuya (from her blog again), the place she hang out at, and the subjects she took at Waseda. Aya is studying at Waseda for Master’s Degree. Maybe that’s one of the reason Maru chose Waseda to study, though Aya attends regular classes and Maru correspondent studies. But they still share the same almamater now.
Okay. Now I know a lot about Aya. Then what?
Somehow, I should get to know her, get her to spend time with Yuichi, show her all of Yuichi’s good qualities, then Yuichi can confess again, and she will accept, and they will have cute babies and I will be the cool aunt who will take them to
It wasn’t hard to know which class Aya was in at Waseda that week. Rie knew the subject and day from Aya’s blog. She called Waseda to find the exact schedule. She spent two and a half hours standing near Aya’s class, at a place where she couldn’t possibly miss her when she got out of the class, unless she didn’t attend that class.
Rie found a bench there and sat. She was seriously nervous, feeling the insides of her stomach turned upside down. She was cold sweating. “What should I say? How should I approach her? I can’t possibly just run to her and said, ‘Aya-san, could you please date Nakamaru Yuichi?’, right? Or maybe I can? No, no, I think not”. She produced her sketch book and spent the time spending her energy sketching the next plot of Beast and Beauty, rather than sitting nervously with her fingers twitching.
Time passed and the class door opened, people coming out of it, chatting to each other. Rie shoved everything back to her bag and stood at the side of the corridor. And then she saw Aya. She looked as nice as she always does on TV, wearing jeans and a pretty blouse, smiling to her friend. This is the time!
And Rie couldn’t move. More or less her courage flew out to the drain.
Takashima Aya was passing her.
Say something, Rie! Anything! Anything!
And Aya walked passed her to the end of the corridor and disappeared.
Rie sighed and looked down.
I failed. “Baka!”.
She let out a breath, wiping her bangs from her forehead.
Rie made up her mind, planned another mission, and put her heart at ease enough for immediate action. Aya will be anchoring for Mezamashi TV on 7 am. Rie was in front of Fuji TV building several minutes before 6 am. This is her usual sleeping time after a night of drawing, so she feels rather light headed. She had been standing there for some time, palms digging to her jacket pockets in search of little warmness, wondering how she could get in, since she had to pass the securities who all looked serious.
Lie that I’m an internship? No, that won’t do. The security must have a list of names of all the internship. Her eyes wandered around and she saw a bento stall on the pavements. Aha!
She bought two bentos and came to the security guard who was welcoming people at the front door.
“Ohayo gozaimasu! I’m here to deliver these bentos for Mezamashi TV crews”
“Oh, but there was someone who did that half an hour ago!” the guard said.
“Um—it’s…..” Rie stopped, to find some idea to say. “These two bentos were left out. Sumimasen, but if I don’t deliver these, there will be two crews who won’t get their breakfast”
“I see, well, that wouldn’t be good. You can come in, after I check your belongings”
The guard checked her bag with censoring stick, and then Rie was free to go.
“Which level for Mezamashi TV? I’ve never came here before” she asked to a middle aged office lady in the elevator. “Oh, it’s on 7. That’s where the studios are” she smiled kindly and pressed 7.
The elevator cheerfully pronounced a ”Ding!”, and Rie stepped out at the seventh floor. She read the information board and it says there are eight studios at that floor. Great. Which one?
She walked through the corridor and found only a pair of doors with a big lamp above, that said “Stand By”. Rie felt thankful. Luck! For once!
Now what do I do? Can I just get in?
Rie pushed the studio door and it was opened too easily. Wait, wait! I’m not ready!
The studio was full, with what looked like a dozen crews wondering around the room. There was the set for Mezamashi TV at the center front of the room. Rie stood in awe. She placed the bento she carried at the nearest table and felt content in admiring the scene. Cameraman, people with little mic on near their mouth, looking busy and in a hurry.
Karube Shinichi and Kaito Aiko came out from a room, saying “After Aya finished with her make up you really must remind her of—“
Rie caught the conversation. Aya is in that room! She walked to that room’s direction and—
“Hey you! Baito onna!” Rie jumped and looked around, heart beating fast.
“You! Yes, you! Who else? Get over here and start working! Don’t wander around like that!”
Rie waved her hands, “No! But I’m not a—“
“I said” the cameraman said sternly, “Get over here!”
She couldn’t possibly say she was there just to stalk on Takashima Aya, on a mission to help a friend find the love of his life, security guards would kick her out of the building, and that’s the last thing she needs. So she nodded and came to the cameraman.
“Here” the cameramen said, shoving a handful of cable to her, “Unwind this to that screen and then go to the lighting guys and help them. After that, please get us all coffee from the machine near the door. Or tea, just ask around what people want, okay!”
Rie looked at him, speechless.
“Get going! You’re no use standing there! We’ll be on air in half an hour!”
Rie unwind the cable and put it firm on the floor with white tapes, helped positioning the lighting and almost broke one of it, making her got scolded by one of the lighting crews. She went to the coffee machine and came back with a tray full with a dozen cups of coffee for all of the crews, legs tired with all the walking to and fro.
“Ano, it’s Takeba Rie—if you don’t mind. Please don’t call me mere ‘Baito-onna’” she protested.
“You should’ve said that earlier” said the cameraman, wiping his forehead out of sweat. “Now give these scripts to the anchors”
“Hai” Rie nodded, and accepted the scripts. She approached the four anchors and gave it to them. Aya accepted hers with a smile and an “Arigato” but then continued to chat with her fellow anchor.
Rie had pondered over how to approach Aya. She concluded that there’s no other better way than this. Or maybe there is just no other way, period.
She prayed to all the Gods that Aya will go home alone. At least be alone when Aya pass her. And her prayer was answered this time. The other anchors has already left, only Aya who is still in the studio. Rie was standing at the corner of the turning point, at the corridor outside the studio, leading to the elevator. Yes, here she is, Aya is approaching. She was on the phone and seems to be concentrating on what she was talking.
Ichi, ni, san!
Rie half run to the middle of the turning point, carrying her folder of sketches. She made sure she stood at the right position.
The collision was rather hard. She and Aya hit each other. Her sketches flown to the air, pages scattered all over the floor. She made an exaggerated move of hitting the wall beside her and made a pitying sound.
“Oh no! Are you alright?” Aya asked in panic.
Rie whimpered, “Ittai….”
“Sumimasen! Does it hurt so bad? It’s my fault for talking on the phone and not seeing my way. Where is it hurt? I’ll—I’ll take you to a doctor!”
Rie sat straighter on the floor, leaning on the wall, rubbing her head.
“It’s okay….I think I’m alright…..”
“Are you really alright?” Aya asked, peering on Rie’s face and trying to see if she is bleeding somewhere.
Rie didn’t answer and look around. “My sketches….” she said, and started to move and gather all the papers one by one. Aya immediately helped her and pick up the papers.
“These are good! You are talented!” Aya praised, after looking at the sketches she was holding.
Rie gave a weak smile as Aya handed her the rest of the sketches and put it in her folder again. She stood up heavily and started to walk to the elevator direction, staggering a little.
“I—I don’t think you can walk around like this. I still think we should go to a doctor” Aya suggested in concern. Trying to hold Rie’s hand to support her.
“It’s nothing much, I’m okay. Besides, you didn’t mean to do that….I was just wanting to have some breakfast….”
“Where do you want to eat? I’ll take you there!” Aya offered.