[summary] Back Stage ~ Ch. 6 part 121
Type: Novel Summary
Title: Back Stage!!
Series: Love Stage!!
Author/Circle: Eiki Eiki, Amano Kazuki
This time: Rei receives a letter from someone who knows his past and must deal with the consequences. [the last Back Stage!! chapter for a while!]
Note: This chapter is the last of volume 2 and actually takes place after the current Love Stage!! chapters–and therefore it spoils some upcoming events in the Love Stage!! side of things. If you’re wary of being spoiled, you may want to reconsider reading this summary! Just a warning ;)
Warning: This chapter deals with material that may be triggering to some (highlight to read: stalking), so please take care when reading!
It all starts when one day, Rei finds a strange letter stuffed in with the rest of the mail in the SenaPro official mailbox.
It’s been a few years now since the Crusherz made their debut, and they’ve got their own personal manager now in Sotomura, with Rei handling the affairs of SenaPro in general and being less pressured with the band’s activities.
But only just recently, it was decided that the last non-showbiz member of the Sena family, Sena Izumi, would make his debut into the entertainment world, and Rei’s been fluttering about as busily as before with preparations for the debut press conference and the subsequent workload. Since the impactful press conference, offer after offer for television programs and media grabs have been pouring in, with Rei alone left to shoulder the load on top of his work as Seiya’s and Nagisa’s personal manager.
He’s working at his limit these days, and he knows that he needs to find someone who can take over all of Izumi’s incoming work, but handling Izumi will take a lot of finesse, and Rei wants to watch over him himself for a while.
He stares at the letter–it’s addressed to him. A letter addressed to Rei, with no return address.
Getting a bad feeling about the whole thing, he opens the envelope and pulls out the paper inside, opening it to reveal a single line of text: “I know about your past.”
All Rei can say is, “…I knew it.” He’s tried to be careful all these years, doing his best not to have his face in the mass media and turning down all offers for himself to debut–all because of his shady past.
After all, until Seiya took him in, Rei had led a pretty desperate, destitute life. He’d gotten into fights all the time and made more than his fair share of enemies. There have to be dozens who’d leap at the chance to get revenge on him.
He’d tried to keep his face out of the limelight to avoid drawing attention, but that had been impossible at Izumi’s recent press conference. “Well this sucks…” But really, he’s only got himself to blame for letting his guard down. After all, it’s been 10 years since Seiya took him in, and his looks have changed dramatically. Plus, he’d assumed that the only ones who’d actually be on camera at the time would be Ryouma and Izumi–so he may have made some miscalculations in that respect.
But there’s absolutely no way to tell who’s sent this letter from one line of text alone, so he decides to just see how things pan out. They aren’t making any demands, after all, so there’s nothing left to do, actually.
He doesn’t want to inconvenience the Sena family in any way, so he’ll solve this on his own.
“So Re~i! Since I did a pretty big favor for you this time, it makes sense I get an equally awesome reward for it, right?”
It’s a few days after Rei received the letter, and Shougo’s bothering him at the office. He’s already made sure they’re the only ones in the office, and therefore he’s taking advantage of their privacy to make a nuisance of himself.
“And what exactly do you want?”
“You of course~!” Of course. Though it’s not as if Rei can begrudge him the request: he really does owe Shougo a lot. In return for helping out with securing Izumi’s debut, it’d been decided for Shougo to support Ryouma’s musical composition efforts. The two had hardly been close friends, so they both undoubtedly has issues with the decision. But–it had been something decided by both men’s agencies; Ryouma had no place to refuse, and Shougo had no desire to so long as he received a ‘reward’.
“Fine. Come to my place tonight–I’ll blow your socks off.”
“SERIOUSLY?! I’m super excited now!” Shougo’s obviously thrilled at the prospect, looking as if he could take off dancing, and he starts to get closer to Rei.
“Wh–why are you getting closer?!”
“Eeeh? But it’s just the two of us~ I need a Rei-recharge!”
“…Haven’t I told you not to do that here? Anyways–you’ve got work to do after this–”
“Yeah yeah~ I know. So–come on, how about a little upfront payment?” He lays a soft little kiss on just below Rei’s ear where he’s leaning over from behind, and Rei sighs and takes off his glasses–at which point Shougo twists his chair around so they’re facing each other.
Shougo kisses him properly this time, quickly scaling it up and deepening it, but leaving his hands where they’re draped across Rei’s shoulder–meaning he understands that they can’t do much, rather mature for the guy.
After a few moments, there’s the soft buzzing of Shougo’s cellphone, and he’s forced to break the kiss, muttering his disappointment as he answers. When he hangs up, Rei chides his attitude with, “Stop making that face.”
“You’re coming over tonight after all, aren’t you?”
“Yup! Mmk then, see ya!”
As Shougo makes his exit, Rei watches him leave and shakes his head, sighing. It’ll be their first time together in a while, though–the guy’s been awfully busy of late. Taking that into account, he supposes he can’t hold it against Shougo for being that excited at the prospect.
He probably won’t be getting much sleep tonight, so he resolves to finish his work as quickly as possible.
Seiya catches him preparing to leave for the day, inquiring about his pace with some worry that he’s pushing himself too hard lately. Rei tries to brush it off, but there’s no putting it past the man. He gives Rei a piece of candy, reminding him that a sugar boost is perfect when one’s tired. Rei takes the candy, and Seiya smiles–that smile is doing more for healing Rei’s fatigue than any candy ever could.
Seiya urges Rei to take it easy–the Sena family will be in shambles if Rei collapses from stress–and changes tacks to comment on Rei’s mood. “You seem in awfully good spirits today, though. Do you have some plans later or something?”
“Eh? Oh, no–not really,” he lies through his teeth. Had he really looked that happy leaving? Of course he feels happy from what Seiya’s just done for him–but the way Seiya phrases it makes it seem as if he was talking about before that. But Rei himself hadn’t even realized it…
He takes his leave, despite his confusion, and heads home–where he finds in his mailbox…another letter addressed to him, still with no return sender. It’s not strange for the previous letter to have been sent to his workplace where he spends most of his time and the address of which is publicly available…but this one came to his house.
And more so–it has no stamp. Which means the sender put it in his mailbox themselves.
He quickly opens the letter and reads its contents: “I’m always watching you.”
A chill runs down his spine–and then he takes in the veiled threat in the words that he hadn’t considered before: Shougo. If this person really is watching him all the time, and knows his checkered past where he’d involve himself with anyone, man or woman–and then sees a huge star like Shougo coming into his apartment alone at night…
It could be a huge scandal for Shougo. He quickly palms his cellphone and texts Shougo, making apologies for backing out but fibbing that he got saddled with work he just can’t get out of–and if Shougo agrees to put off his ‘reward’, Rei will do whatever he asks. A response comes within a minute, reflecting Shougo’s disappointment but simple understanding that Rei’s got a job to do so it can’t be helped–then asks if he’s being serious about the ‘whatever he asks’ because yaaaaaaay!!! He ends the message with ‘I’ll think it over~!’ complete with several appropriate emoticons.
Rei breathes a short sigh of relief–it seems he’s put off Shougo for now. It’s little surprise though; he’s really rather considerate, now that Rei thinks about it. He never bothers Rei too much when he’s working, and is never demanding; if Rei sends him a text, he always responds in kind, understanding that it means Rei can’t speak on the phone right then.
Right now, though, he needs to figure out what to do about this letter. It’d be best if he could meet with them to talk it over and figure out what they want, but that’s hardly feasible. Whatever he does, though, he’s determined not to involve SenaPro.
He makes sure the chain lock on his door is fastened tight before turning in that evening.
The next day, Rei’s trying to go about business as usual. He’d kept a sharp eye out on the way into the office, but had seen nothing out of place. He knows he needs to get this situation under control quickly.
As he’s settling in, the phone rings, and he answers as usual. “Yes, this is SenaPro.”
“Hello, I’m Mitsudzuka–is Sagara-san in today?”
“I’m Sagara.” He can’t recall any Mitsudzukas at the moment, but…
“Ah, Rei! Man, it’s been ages! It’s me! Mitsudzuka Toshihiko! Don’t you remember me? From back in high school…?”
At this, memories come flooding back with recognition. “Ah! Mitsudzuka-san!” Rei now clearly recalls–back in high school, he’d often left his house for the evening and spent the nights with friends or acquaintances, and Mitsudzuka’s house was one of these sleepover places.
Mitsudzuka had been a few years older than Rei, already working, and he’d often given Rei good meals and clothes when he needed them. He’d always been kind to Rei, and so hanging at his place had been particularly nice, Rei recalls–in fact, he’d probably stayed at his place more than any other. But after his mother’s death, Rei had cut all ties with most everyone…
“It’s been quite some time. What’s with the sudden call?”
“Ah–it’s just, I caught you on TV recently is all! It really took me back! I thought I might be able to get in touch with you if I tried calling here, so I gave it a shot… You remembered me! I’m glad I called.”
Rei thanks him and apologizes for dropping off the face of the earth as it were, but Mitsudzuka seems to not have taken offense, understanding that Rei had his own problems he’d been dealing with. He expresses a desire to get caught up and asks if perhaps Rei has some time for a meal, and Rei readily agrees, suggesting they have dinner that evening. They then exchange cellphone information and agree to meet up later.
A few moments later, the phone rings again–and Rei answers…but there’s no response. He questions who’s calling, but all he receives is a soft snicker and the click of the line disconnecting.
…Could it have been the person who sent the letters?
His cellphone buzzes in his pocket, and he stiffens–but one glance at the screen shows it’s from Shougo, wondering about his ‘reward’. Rei apologizes again, saying he already has plans. He knows it was rude to make them–when his deal with Shougo should take precedence after all–but what’s done is done. Shougo is understanding as always, though, and Rei promises to contact him when he’s free.
He wonders how long he can keep putting off the ‘reward’ before Shougo starts making noise about having ‘Rei withdrawal’ again and not being able to write songs…
He really needs to take care of this situation as quickly as possible.
That evening, due to work, Rei arrives 5 minutes late to the shop where he’d agreed to meet Mitsudzuka. It’s a dimly lit, chic little place, and Mitsudzuka is already waiting. They settle in, exchanging pleasantries, and Mitsudzuka compliments easily, “I’ve gotten so old and boring, and you’re just as beautiful as ever, huh…”
Rei easily deflects the compliment–but inside he feels a bit strange. Who greets a man they haven’t seen in years with a comment like you’re just as beautiful as ever? Perhaps he should be a bit on his guard with this guy…
After all, it’s not like they never did that in their past…
It wasn’t as if they’d been in love or anything–Mitsudzuka had been nothing more than one of Rei’s many sex friends, a casual partner.
“So, are you seeing anyone?”
“Uh…” Shougo’s face immediately leaps to mind, but Rei doesn’t consider them lovers, so he denies it. “No–though I do have someone I have feelings for.”
“I see…so, a man? Or a woman?”
“Haha, right right–you were always fine either way, after all.”
“And what about you?”
“Married! With a kid. Still slaving away in an office.” Rei’s relieved–the guy obviously hadn’t meant anything by his previous comment, given his married state. “Once you get hitched, see, your friends…kind of drop away. So when I saw you, I really just wanted to talk some–see what it’s like working in a world I know nothing about. Ah, sorry if it sounds like I’m just using you for that!”
“Oh–of course not. Are you still working at the same company?”
“Yup, still at the main branch. So–how’d you get in with the company you’re at now? Or–I guess you’d call it an ‘agency’ right?”
“I mostly just…got picked up by SenaPro, I suppose.” He tells Mitsudzuka of his life since they parted ways and all that he’s experienced since coming to work for Seiya and the Sena family.
They’re having a nice time reminiscing about old times and old acquaintances–but two hours into their chat, Rei’s cellphone rings. He assumes at first it’s from Shougo–but the caller ID is blank, and his stomach turns.
He excuses himself and answers, and just as earlier that afternoon, all he hears is a man’s soft laughter. He cuts the phone off quickly and feels sick–he can sense them getting closer now that they’ve even called his personal phone. Returning to the table, Mitsudzuka asks what’s wrong, as Rei’s expression is dark. After a moment’s consideration, Rei decides to tell Mitsudzuka everything about his stalker, hoping that this person who’s known him at the darkest period of his life might be able to offer some guidance.
Mitsudzuka listens carefully before telling Rei what he already knows: that it’s not safe for him to go back to his apartment, and that he should stay with Mitsuduzka the evening, as the rest of his family are home visiting his wife’s parents and it’s an empty house. Rei stalls–he doesn’t want to inconvenience Mitsudzuka–and eventually Mitsudzuka agrees, so long as Rei allows him to escort him home.
Rei allows this, and reflects that Mitsudzuka’s always been a kind person this way. He feels particularly grateful in this instance, though…as truthfully, he’d been scared to go home alone.
To be continued…