Ju-ken and his bass: An Opportunity part 3

Once the guys were set up, they wasted no time starting their rehearsal. They needed to know what the acoustics were and have their equipment set up accordingly. While they were rehearsing, Toshi, Kiba and the rest of Gargoyle showed up. While Kiba had taken Toshi’s word that the band would do, he still wanted to make sure. He listened for a while, raised an eyebrow in question at Toshi after one of Ju’s solo’s and nodded in satisfaction. He pulled his lover to the side and had a quiet conversation with him.

“Is it me or has your friend improved?” Toshi grinned and nodded. “You know he was always good but never that serious. I started giving him pointers and working his nerves and suddenly he got serious. Getting his hat handed to him during challenges with me must have turned on his competitive switch. He’s gotten so much better lately that it’s a little scary.”

Kiba nodded. “He’s good. Not as good as you but very close. I’m assuming that the others are going to continue to be just a cover band. How does Junichiro feel about that? Has he even talked about maybe auditioning for an indies band or something?”

Toshi shook his head no. He honestly didn’t think that Ju had thought that far ahead. If he performed here like Toshi knew he could, no telling what might happen. Word tends to get around about unknown talents. People will start following the band more that’s for sure. Social media can get someone noticed quicker than any agent. “I hadn’t even considered them for a replacement but that bar owner friend of his Atsushi put the notion in my head. It works…as long as they don’t out perform us that is.”

Kiba gave Toshi the look that comment deserved. “I doubt we have to worry about that. Two different styles for one thing. Our fans like our type of music. That’s not what they play so it shouldn’t be that much of a problem as long as they don’t perform badly. As for Ju…I guess we’ll have to wait and see.” Toshi just nodded again and the two-headed off to prepare for their own rehearsal.

A few hours later, Hana and Aya arrived with a number of people along with Acchan. The place had opened about 30 minutes before they got there and was close to being sold out. Aya was surprised to see so many people she knew but was told that Acchan was responsible for that. She wasn’t sure whether to kiss him on the cheek or kick him in the shins for that. She just thanked him verbally. Acchan was one of the few people she couldn’t intimidate with a look. He was immune to those looks that made Ju cringe and Toshi pale. She had given up trying to work that type of magic on him years ago. Hana had told her that Acchan was the one that planted using Lethal Wound as the replacement in Toshi’s mind and the look she’d given him would have peeled paint off the wall. He ignored her of course but when she found that he’d made sure that the guys had some familiar faces for support, she’d modified her opinion. Acchan really was a good friend to Ju and had made sure he had gotten home to her safe and sound on more than one occasion.

She and Hana pushed and elbowed their way to the front or as close as the security guards would allow. It wasn’t long before the club manager came out on the stage to welcome everyone and introduce the band. There were some cries of disappointment when he told the crowd that the original band had cancelled and polite applause, screams and cheers for Lethal Wound. Hana bounced up and down, hugging Acchan’s arm as the man made his way up to join them. Aya smiled when the guys came out and whispered a much-loved “Ju” when he appeared. He was dressed in a simple white tee, jeans and a vest. He managed to spot her and gave her a wink and a smile before picking up his bass. He turned to face the crowd and Aya inhaled sharply. The look on his face, his whole demeanor had changed as if he had thrown a switch and this new Ju appeared. He had his game face on and the look was one Aya hadn’t really seen before. Shades of it yes but never this intense. Then Ryo played the first chords of FAKE?’s Taste Maximum and the crowd, the ones that knew the band, started cheering.

From there they played, BucTic’s “Baby I want you”, Oblivion Dust’s “You” and One OK Rock’s “Re Make”. They slowed things down a pace when Ryo announced a special song for a special lady. Aya teared up when Ju started playing the opening chords of “Snow”. He didn’t sing this time, leaving that for Ryo while he played the hell out his bass. All of the guys seemed to be at their best and the size of the crowd didn’t seem to bother them either. After Snow, they played “Pulse” and Ju went wild. He pranced around the stage seemingly oblivious of the crowd, the band or anything else. The music had him now and Aya knew that he’d be at a fever’s peak by the time they played the last song of the night. After the song ended Ryo did the whole introduction/MC thing. Everyone did a small solo but when he got to Ju the crowd went crazy. Ju grinned and just turned the place out with his solo. He went into the beginning of “Bitch” and played “stupid” was the only thing Aya could think of to explain it.

“Playing stupid” was what Ju called it when a musician or athlete’s mind shut down and their body did all the work. It was zoned out to the nth degree. Even Aya was screaming by the time the song and the set were done. All of the guys bowed and started to leave the stage to loud cheers and applause when Toshi strode on stage strumming his base as he walked, a stage hand playing out wire as he went. He stopped in front of Ju blocking the man’s path. When Ju moved to go around him, Toshi played a set of chords and stepped back in his way. Ju got the hint, grabbed up his base and plugged it in. He repeated the chords Toshi had just played with a few of his own added in. Toshi matched that and added a few in himself. This went on for a bit with the chords getting more complex. Ju kept up with Toshi note for note. The crowd was loving it. Finally the two men leaned on each other, back to back, and played the same tune in a grand finale. The place erupted when they finished. Toshi clapped Ju on the back, gave him a man hug then held out his hand toward his friend. Ju waved as he left the stage amidst a thunderous applause.

Aya listened to the applause with pride. That was her man they were cheering like that and while she worried that he wouldn’t be able to escape notice much longer, she was still proud of him. She looked around for a stage hand or security to try to get in the back where the guys were. She waited patiently as one of the security guards took a message back to Ju. It only took her showing her driver’s license and a photo of them together that she kept in her wallet for him to believe that she could possibly be something other than a fan or a groupie. He came back shortly and escorted her, Hana, and Acchan into the back.

The band members were surrounded by guys and girls all vying for attention. It was packed back there and being short, she couldn’t see where Ju was. She tugged on the security guard’s shirt, made a questioning motion and was pointed in the right direction. She found Ju in the middle of the largest group of people, signing autographs, taking business cards, joking, chatting and even a little flirting. The flirting was him being him and wasn’t directed at any one woman but to all ladies in general. She shook her head and headed his way. She managed to part some of the ladies, stuck her hand out palm up and said in a girlie voice, “Can you autograph my hand Juken? I’ll never wash it again if you do.” Hana snickered behind her hand at this and Acchan wisely kept his own consul. Ju took the hand in front of him never looking up and signed “I love you too woman.” released her hand and went on to the next autograph. A couple of the women near by saw what he’d written and squealed asking Aya if she was his girlfriend and telling her how lucky she was. Aya closed her hand and pulled it toward her heart. He was okay for now. He signed a few more autographs before excusing himself and heading toward the small group.

He stopped in front of Aya, looking down on her with a small smile on his face. He had a towel around his neck that he’d used to wipe his face, neck and arms. His hair was plastered to his head in places. He still looked like the most handsome man in the world to her and she told him so. Taking a step closer, he grinned and asked how he’d done. She answered that he’d been good. He took another step closer and asked again. She answered that he’d been very good. His next step took him into her personal space. He placed his fingers under her chin and lifted her face up asking again how he’d done. She told him that he had been absolutely amazing. He kissed her then. Very soft, very gentle, no tongue just love. Once again there were whispers asking who she was and saying how lucky she was. Ju stepped back from the kiss, let out a whoop of pure joy, and hugged his wife till she started beating on his back and making “I can’t breathe” noises. He let her go, peppered her face with kisses then turned and hugged Hana and gave Acchan a man hug. By this time the rest of the band had come over and there were congratulations and high fives a plenty. Nothing, to them, felt better than a good set.

A short time later the guys had all cleaned and packed up and were checking out Gargoyle’s performance. The crowd was really into them which was expected since Gargoyle was who most of them came to see. Kiba was in good form and Toshi mugged for the crowd like always. When Gargoyle’s set was over, the manager of the club came in and said that he’d be happy to have Lethal Wound back, gave his business card to Ryo, paid them a nice amount and left. Ju told Aya he was going to say goodbye to Toshi and to thank him then they could leave. He had just finished thanking the man when a guy in a black suit walked up to him and handed him a business card while introducing himself. He turned out to be working for the talent agency that Gargoyle used and wanted to talk to Ju about doing some work for them. Ju told him he would call him on monday. He was excited when he got back but didn’t say anything until he and Aya were in the van and headed back home. She was driving so she had to keep herself together. She nodded when she needed too and smiled when she thought she should.

It was late when they finished unloading all the equipment off at the bar. Acchan and Hana had stayed and Ju joked that if Hana was anything like Aya, Acchan was in for a treat. Aya for her part pulled out a small shopping bag, swinging it on a couple of fingers and informed him that he had his own treat coming to him. He wasted no time getting them back home. He seemed to appreciate her purchase immensely. Both of them were worn out by the time he’d had his fill. He fell asleep in her arms as she idly stroked his hair. She couldn’t sleep right then. What may happen next was weighing on her mind. If he got an audition for a band…well she’d cross that bridge when she got to it. She kissed her big baby on the forehead then snuggled into the crook of his arm and closed her eyes. Sleep finally came but not for a long, long time.

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~ by jujuken on April 13, 2013.

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