Summary: Shige tries to make a name for himself.
Notes This is a repost. As always many thanks to L.
He can see the finish line ahead and the mantra he's been repeating for the last 10 minutes chimes in his head once more, “just a little further, only a little further and this will all be over.” He pushes himself even more as he reaches down inside himself and finds his last kernel of inspiration, or is it desperation, and continues willing his legs to keep moving.
From the corner of his eye he can see a crowd of people. They look like they are watching him and cheering him on and Shige wonders vaguely why he can't hear them. Why does it seem like someone has pushed the mute button on his surroundings. But then he refocuses on the finish line looming ahead of him and his whole world shrinks down to those same words, “just a little further, only a little further and this will be all over - and then Koyama will see”. No, wait, that wasn't right. This was for himself wasn't it? Shige knew he had decided something about his resolve to do this but the world was starting to look dim and he could barely think much less recall what it was he was trying to remember.
He sees the tape and knows he should be able to feel his body breaking through it, but he feels nothing and suddenly, for only a moment, all he can see is the night sky. Then his view is blocked by many heads. Heads of people that some part of his brain knows he should recognize, but he can't. The heads block the sky and hands pull on him until he can finally feel them. He wishes they'd leave him alone. He had just done something. What was it again? … That's right, he'd just run the marathon and now all he wanted to do was lie still and look at the sky one more time before he closed his eyes and rested. If
only they'd leave him alone to rest, but they wouldn't. Now they were shining lights in his eyes and holding things up to his face, pulling at his arms, touching his body. He tried to free his arms, to knock the things away from his face but his arms felt so heavy, they refused to comply.
Then one familiar face came into view but the look on that face shocked him. He wasn't entirely sure why but something in the dim recesses of his mind said this wasn't right and he should be surprised at the look on Koyama's face.
There was pure terror in Koyama's eyes. A kind of desperation and fear that Shige couldn't understand. He'd finished the marathon and was trying to take a rest, nothing to be terrified about in that. He still wanted to comfort Koyama though. He wanted to let him know that everything was fine but he couldn't break free of those meddling and restraining hands and his mouth wouldn't co-operate with his brain to form the words he wanted to say. So he gave up. He'd rest first and then he'd find out what was wrong. Shige let his eyes close and gave himself over to the blackness that engulfed him.
Tears came to Koyama's eyes as he looked down on Shige's motionless body. What had he done? Had he let them kill his friend? Someone kept pulling at him and lights were shining in his face but he refused to move, he needed to watch Shige's chest rise and fall as visual confirmation that the unconscious figure before him was in fact breathing and alive. One of the scores of hands that seem to be tending Shige waved something under his nose and with a small sputter his eyes opened. Someone was whispering in his ear and Shige was nodding but the look on his face wasn't really one of comprehension.
For once in his life, uncaring of his surroundings or the cameras that were undoubtedly recording this scene, Koyama pushed, pulled and clawed his way to Shige's side. The staff around him were pulling Shige to his feet and Koyama rushed to replace the nearest one to himself grabbing Shige's arm and looping it over his shoulder to help support him. Koyama's tears continued to fall but he made sure that his grip on Shige remained secure. The bright lights of the television crews made it even harder to see through his tears. But as they were directed over to a waiting SUV Shige's dazed eyes fell on him and Shige smiled. It was an affectionate smile and Shige finally spoke, and said just loud enough for the camera crew to pick up his words, “I did it”.
10 months earlier
“And now, Shige please introduce our next song.”
“Ehhhh...” Shige whined, “Is this my radio show?”
“What are you talking about?” Koyama asked, his voice light hearted, “It's an honor. Think of all the cute girls at their radios that are listening and now they are waiting to hear only Shige say those words and ...” Koyama sighed dramatically.
“Oh shut up,” Shige laughed and continued, “Anyway … please enjoy NEWS' Happy Birthday.”
After a moment the music started and Shige continued their earlier conversation as if they hadn't just recorded 15 minutes of radio show between sentences.
“The show is an extreme sports show but the producer is incredible! It's Ishikawa!”
“You know the one that almost got in trouble for grabbing that staff's ass.”
“Be more specific.”
“The one that cheated on his wife with the porn star and had a messy divorce.”
“Shige how am I ... ”
“The one that always wears those ugly Pucci shirts.”
“Oh yeah and there was that rumor that he got caught jerking off at that party for what's her face last year.”
“Wow, he is good Shige. How did you get an audition with him?”
“Hey! Well, actually, it wasn't easy. I had a friend of a friend that was able to set it up but think about it Koyama, if I could be on one of his shows I could become a household name.”
“But,” Koyama said clearly choosing his words carefully, “Extreme sports? I thought that guy specialized in more talked based shows and Shige you don't even like sports and ...”
“I,” Shige interrupted, “Don't like ball sports and the show is supposed to be for the everyman. So they won't be looking for talents that are particularly good at sports. They will want someone who is entertaining and ...”
“Then won't they be looking for a comedian and I heard Ishikawa doesn't usually hire Johnnys either.”
“Are you trying to make me lose my confidence? This could be huge.”
Koyama paused trying to think of a way to tell Shige why he thought this show sounded like a bad idea. He didn't want to say that it was because he thought Shige would embarrass himself or worse hurt himself. He couldn't, so he just kept going with plan B.
“I'm not trying to make you lose confidence. I'm just trying to help you see the whole picture.”
The song was about to end and the producer gave them the signal that they would be recording again soon. Koyama thought he would hear no more of this crazy idea until after the show but to his surprise Shige slipped it into the next segment under a different guise using hypothetical situations to challenge Koyama's opinion and clearly interpreting listeners emails to suit his agenda.
“Well what happened on Soukon then Shige?” Koyama reminds him, annoyed that Shige had wasted so much of their double recording on this and tired of good naturedly fighting off his agenda.
He regretted it when Shige blushed. Koyama laughed, backing down immediately, “Ah but I guess you redeemed yourself at the end and who could ever look good when they are competing with someone like Tegoshi?”
Shige's only response was a pained laugh. Koyama decided it was time to segue into a new topic so he started on another letter. Shige's embarrassment had lessened and he still participated in the rest of the show though Koyama could tell he was still upset. He hoped that it was because Shige had finally seen the light and the tough love had gotten through however, when they finished recording Shige excused himself, saying he was busy and that he couldn't go out with Koyama afterwards like the usually did. Koyama knew though that it was because Shige was still upset about his lack of enthusiasm but there was nothing he could do about it.
So they went their separate ways and Koyama was left feeling bad about how the recording had gone. Not because he'd told Shige that he thought the show was a bad idea but because the way he'd tried to express himself hadn't achieved anything apart from hard feelings.
Koyama is embarrassed by him, that was it.
At first Shige had been annoyed that Koyama hadn't been supportive of his plan to try and be a regular on a new television show. He'd figured if anyone would understand the need to get on a successful show, no matter how unsuited he was for it, it would be Koyama. All the nights they'd spent bitching and moaning about their lack of work and their place in the company but then he'd mentioned Soukon and the shame and disappointment from those experiences had all come flooding back.
They had set up that weird intervention for the TV cameras on Soukon after his first big failure at running the relay but it hadn't been so far from the truth. Shige had been separated from the others while they discussed the situation, trying to decide if they should manipulate things to make it look like he had been able to do it after all or if they should go with the situation as it was and work with Shige's shortcomings as part of the show.
Shige hadn't known at the time that the staff were consulting with his group members about his failures but he'd seen their true level of frustration and disappointment and he knew that he had let them down. He'd been bothered by it but he'd figured there wasn't much he could do. It wasn't like he hadn't tried his best.
When the idea of a TV show had been originally discussed, he had been so excited. He thought that he would finally have a chance to shine. He was good at talking on TV or at least better at it than most of his group and certainly better at that than most of the things he was required to do as a Johnny. But then, in a cruel twist of fate, it turned out to be a sports show and not just a sports show but a competitive sports show. He agreed to do it anyway, knowing he would be bad at it but just happy that he could become relevant again after such a dry spell of activity for NEWS, and Koyama and himself in particular.
He had needed it. They had needed it. So they had gone into the show with their heads high, as a team, like they always had. It hadn't lasted though, and when Shige failed over and over again, making it impossible to move on without some kind of alternative action, he'd seen Koyama's embarrassment - not that his group was sub par but personal shame as if he, by extension, was failing.
The first time was the hardest because Koyama's reaction had been so obvious but after that he had gotten better at hiding it. He'd laugh Shige's failures off or hold himself back so it didn't seem as bad. It didn't matter because Shige could never forget the look on Koyama's face after the first time they had to wrap filming so they could regroup in order to work out what they were going to do with him. It had crushed his already defeated heart. It had taken everything Shige had to rally through it and try harder.
He hadn't really tried at first though, being afraid of failing again. Then he saw the genuine effort that the staff was making and how hard the others were trying to support him and he'd given it his all and in the process uncapping something he hadn't even known he'd had inside of him. Maybe sport really did enrich the soul. Koyama had congratulated him when he had achieved their goal but when Shige thought back about that experience it was always the shame on Koyama's face that he remembered most. He'd overcome that and this time he wouldn't be working with Koyama, he wouldn't be in competition with anyone other than himself.
“So, Kato,” Ishikawa said, looking up from Shige's bio, “You think you're what we are looking for? I'm sure you know this, but I don't usually hire Johnnys," he added, tossing the paper down with distaste. "I prefer to hire people that have gotten where they are on talent rather than the bullying and corruption of their president. So why should I make an exception for you?"
He smiled at Shige like he had just complimented him instead of insulting the company he worked for and accusing him of being a talentless puppet.
"Well sir," Shige said with out a hint of disrespect in his tone, "Isn't that the case for most people in this industry? Certainly you aren't saying that all of the talent on the shows you've produced weren't from some kind of agency that was backing them? And though I am a certainly a Johnny, I'm sure you know I didn't get this interview with you through my agency."
Silence fell on the room as a range of emotions crossed Ishikawa's face. Shige knew he shouldn't be speaking this way but he didn't care. He could tell from Ishikawa's body language that he had never had any intention of giving him this job and it made him angry. Angry at Ishikawa for wasting his time and angry at himself for giving himself aires, imagining that he would even come close to having a shot at something like this.
"I don't pretend to be the biggest name in Johnnys,” Shige continued, his demeanor still polite, “But I am a hard worker and I will do whatever it takes to make your vision for this show become a reality."
"Well, Kato-kun," Ishikawa finally said after another extended pause, his expression finally settling on one that Shige didn't know him well enough to read, "That certainly is a commendable sentiment and I admire your tenacity but do you have any experience in the sports variety field?"
"I was on a sports variety show before and ..."
"Yes, yes, I know all about that. From what I heard your performance wasn't on par with your cast mates.”
“I haven't really had much experience,” Shige said, still explaining his view even though he thought it was a lost cause, “But after reading a mock up for the show it appeared to me as though you wouldn't want someone that was very athletic.”
“And how do you figure that Kato-kun?”
“Well the show is labeled as extreme sports for the everyman. So if you picked someone that is good at sports they will just appear to be this unattainable person doing sports in a really cool fashion. But, if you actually pick someone that is more ... attainable, the audience will be able to follow them in their success and failure and it will bring them closer.”
“But then wouldn't it be better for me to cast a comedian?”
“I think,” Shige said leaning forward and becoming more animated as he tried to express his point of view, “If you cast a comedian it would make it seem like the show wasn't meant to be taken seriously and that everything is just a huge joke. That's why it needs to be someone who is comfortable on camera. Someone who can show a range of emotions...”
“In other words someone like you?” Ishikawa asked smirking at Shige. There was a mysterious gleam in his eyes but Shige was too embarrassed by his former brazenness to try and figure out what it was suppose to mean.
"Well, yes, I guess. Or at least that's what I think."
"Tell me Kato-kun, are you always so thoughtful and passionate about your work?"
Shige blushed unsure how to answer. He could feel that things were changing to his favor but it also seemed like one false step and he'd be right back where he started or possibly worse.
"I think ... it's important to be passionate about your work but I usually don't express myself so openly. I'm sorry if I said to much."
"No Kato-kun it's fine. You've only said what I've been thinking. Perhaps I've been too hasty in my judgment. I'm glad you came in today," he said standing up. "I'll let you know something soon.”
Shige bowed and left smiling with a little too much warmth at the secretary on his way out.
"I GOT IT!” Shige practically yelled into his phone, "And not only did I get the part, they rearranged the show so that I'm the focal point!"
"Are you talking about that sports show?" Koyama asked propping himself up in his bed. He'd been out drinking late last night with a friend and even though 9:00am wasn't an ungodly hour it sure felt like it.
"Of course I'm talking about the sports show! I know it's early but it's not that early."
"But didn't you only have your meeting for that 2 days ago? Isn't that awfully fast for you to hear back from them."
As much as Koyama knew it would kill Shige if this project fell through now that he thought he had it, Koyama still hoped there had been some kind of mistake.
"Ishikawa-san said he knew he wanted to offer me the job before I even left the office but he said he had to get clearance from the executives first. Isn't it great!? And did I mention I'll be the main?"
"Then why aren't you more excited? I know you didn't like the idea of me doing this but you have to realize what an opportunity this is for me. And they certainly wouldn't have changed the show to center around me if they hadn't thought I could do it. After all, Ishikawa-san told me himself that he knew about my performance on Soukon and he still wants me. So he must think I can do it right?"
It sounded to Koyama as if Shige was still trying to convince himself as much as anyone and Koyama didn't know what to do. On one hand he still thought that this was a very bad idea, for any number of reasons, and the fact that Ishikawa had watched or knew the extent of how poorly Shige had done on their former television show was suspicious rather than reassuring. But still worse than all of that was the fact that Koyama knew very well where Shige and this kind of line of self doubt led, and no matter how valid his fears might be, when Shige got this way it only made things worse if he expressed his own concerns.
“I'm sure they wouldn't have chosen you if they didn't think you could do it. Let's go out and celebrate … on you.”
After a slight thoughtful pause Shige let out a sigh but then his tone returned to his previous excitement. “Why is it on me? Shouldn't you be treating me?”
“I asked you first and you're the rising star right? You have to take care of us puny mortals that you're leaving behind in the dust?” Koyama said with a laugh but before he could continue Shige interrupted.
“Koyama?” His voice had turned serious again and his tone had an embarrassed quality to it.
“I know you're busy but I think ... I think I might need a friend when we start shooting. So I was wondering, since we will be working for the same TV network, so it will probably be OK, and we have a photo shoot together before, so it wouldn't be that hard to meet up, if you would, if you could kind of, comewatchmyfilming? I know it's a lot to ask but ...”
“You already know the first day of filming?” Koyama asked in an attempt to divert him. He was genuinely surprised by Shige's request. It wasn't like it was super easy to get on the set of a TV show even if you were famous, so that would be a hurdle. Plus it would look bad for Shige if the staff thought he was being difficult and making demands, and Shige knew it. Koyama started to have a better understanding of just how nervous Shige must really be.
“Well,” Shige continued, “I don't actually know what we will be filming yet, just the day because it will be our regularly scheduled filming day. And I only know it's the same day as our photo shoot because the manager that called me with the info this morning said so. And of course there will be a press conference before that and promo stuff too but for the actual filming I ... just ... I ...”
“Of course I'll come.” Koyama said putting an end to Shige's babbling. If the staff had an issue with him being there, he would cross that bridge when they came to it but hopefully they could think of a valid reason for Koyama to be there that wouldn't cause too many problems. “Now where are you taking me to dinner?”
“Why is it dinner? What happened to breakfast and lunch?”
“Well I'm planning on sleeping till at least noon but if you want to buy me lunch too that's alright with me.”
“Oi! When did I say I was buying you lunch too?”
“Now now don't be cheap Shiggy-chan, nobody likes a cheapskate. I think we should try that new Italian restaurant in Ebisu then we can check out that cute shop I was telling you that I read that article about. Then ... I think we should pick somewhere glamorous with private seating for dinner, but it should also be in a good area so we can keep shopping until we are ready to eat. Or do you think we should just change locations after we are done shopping? Then of course we'll have to go out for drinks after that, since it is a celebration.”
“What are you thanking me for? This is going to cost you a fortune!”
One month later
Oh crap, of course it had to be a bungee jump.
Shige wasn't particularly afraid of heights but he had a healthy respect for them. Of course of all the people he could have asked to come with him to this particular location shoot Koyama was probably the poorest choice.
It had been surprisingly easy to get the staff to agree to let Koyama come along. Their manager said that as long as Koyama signed a waiver that allowed the show to use any footage that he might appear in, he was in the clear. He had even been allowed to ride in the van with Shige which meant he had in fact ended up on camera.
It had turned out that the first filming wasn't on the day they had thought but instead was on the day before. Luckily Koyama had still been available to come along. Shige knew it wasn't exactly fair of him, essentially begging Koyama to come but he wanted to prove that he was wrong and that he could do this. He also thought that knowing Koyama would be watching he would definitely be able to force himself to do whatever it was that he was meant to do.
The staff had given him a hand held camera to shoot some footage of himself and the scenery on the ride to Minakami Bridge where they would be filming the jump. As always whenever Shige had a camera in his hand around Koyama he couldn't help but point it in his direction.
“Maybe I should interview you or something?” Koyama said smiling at Shige while he filmed him.
Shige couldn't help but smile back. He loved watching Koyama from behind a camera. It always made his heart skip a beat when he watched him go into idol mode.
Though it wasn't like it took much from Koyama to make Shige's stomach do flips. After all wasn't he about to do something stupid on TV just so Koyama would think he was cool. Oh FUCK what had he done!? Was he going to kill himself just because he wanted to get into Koyama's pants? Why hadn't he listened to Koyama's voice of reason.
“I'm not really in the mood for an interview right now,” Shige said suddenly feeling a little queasy and wishing that they was headed for almost anywhere but where they were headed. “I'll just shoot some scenery.”
Shige fiddled with the zoom feature on the camera to try and distract himself from thoughts of his impending doom, thinking to move the camera away from Koyama's face in order to film their surroundings.
Oh fuck oh fuck what was I thinking? I can't possible jump from a bridge and then I’m going to look like an idiot and Koyama is going to be humiliated again and what was I thinking about asking Koyama to come along?
“Shige are you OK? You look ill.”
Shige watched Koyama's soft pink lips move through the camera screen but the words they were forming didn't register in his head. Why had he done this? Nothing he ever did was going to change Koyama's feelings for him. Those lips would never speak more than words of friendship and they would certainly never meet his own, so why then was he doing this? What was he trying to gain?
It came to him just as Koyama's voice pierced his consciousness like breaking the water surface after being submerged. It was Pride! He was doing it for his own self respect, and to prove that he could!
“Sorry What did you say?”
He wanted to show that he wasn't just a second or third string member of his band. He wanted people to remember his name and not just think he was just some random Johnny. He wanted to bring pride to his band and not just be a background figure that people only thought of at concerts. And he wanted Koyama to look at him with pride and be proud that they were KoyaShige, even if it didn't mean much to anyone else.
“I said are you OK?”
“Yeah, I'm fine.” Shige said trying to smile as he continued to psych himself up on the inside, “I was just thinking.”
Shige watched as Koyama frowned on the screen.
“Shige, you still have the camera on me.”
“How do you know?” Shige asked a little surprised, bringing himself back to the moment before his internal struggles could start to drown him again.
“I can see the refection in the window.”
Koyama watched as the bungee jump staff strapped Shige into his harness and instructed him on the finer points of jumping off a bridge. They had already filmed a segment with one of the staff giving details about the jump and some general background information about bungee jumping. If Koyama hadn't already been frighten beyond belief he would have been by now.
He knew Shige wasn't afraid of heights the way he was, but jumping from a bridge was still jumping from a bridge so he still expected to see a clumsy and nervous Shige. But the Shige he'd seen since the little episode in the van was cool and collected, all business and he hardly seemed worried at all. Koyama couldn't help but think he looked super cool like a professional athlete. He was confidently asking questions in an easy manner that made it seem like he was interviewing the staff for the benefit of the novice home viewer rather than finding out the important information he needed to make sure he didn't kill or injure himself when it came time to jump.
Too soon for Koyama's taste it was time for the jump and he forced himself to go to the side of the bridge so that he could watch. He held on tightly to the railing. He couldn't stop himself from gazing straight down to the water bellow and a dizzy feeling came over him. He wanted to pull away but he knew Shige expected him to watch so he tightened his grip and turned his eyes towards Shige in the little jumping booth platform. They were attaching a long rope to him and Koyama knew it was almost time.
There was a signal from on of the technicians and one of the cameramen moved in closer and then Shige was at the platform. He had a camera strapped to his chest so that it was filming his face and a helmet camera on his head so that it could capture his fall. Koyama expected Shige to hesitate but after checking with the staff one last time he let out a war cry and gracefully leapt from the platform.
Koyama was so surprised that he shouted “SUGOI SHIGE!” in very loud and awe filled voice. He couldn't help but clap and cheer with the rest of the staff as Shige was lowered to the waiting boat below. His excitement and pride at what his Shige had accomplished making him momentarily forget his fears till Shige waved up at them from below and Koyama had to grab the railing again for support before he could wave back.
“Shige I saw you! I saw your TV show last night.”
“How could you? It didn't come on last night. There wasn't any show this week because of a special broadcast,” Shige asked turning his body away from Tegoshi in order to continue his nap.
“Oh yeah that's right I recorded it and was going to watched it but I haven't had any time. Then I saw that comedy duo making fun of it so I wanted to see the real thing. I don't think that guy does your face justice. The face you made when you jumped was funnier and that noise you did, did you plan that? But the one that screams SUGOI SHIGE, he's pretty good.”
“What?!” Shige asked bolting upright, like someone had poured a bucket of cold water on him, “Are you talking about?”
“That new comedy duo We R Boys. Don't let their name fool you, they aren't even close to being young enough to be considered boys. They're like 35 or something.”
“And they are impersonating me and Koyama?”
“Well, they also have a bit about Matsumoto but it's clear that people find the bit about you two the funniest. So I was thinking you're filming this week right?”
“Want some company?”
“I think I'll pass. Setting up reasons to be made fun of isn't something I'm interested in.”
A staff member interrupted Shige before he could respond, announcing they were ready for them on set now.
Tegoshi waited till they were out of earshot before he said in serious voice, “Shige, I don't think you understand what's coming your way.”
“Don't worry about it,” Shige said smiling affectionately, touched that Tegoshi actually did care about him. “I've been teased plenty in my life. It's never fun but it will get old eventually.”
Tegoshi rolled his eyes. “You really don't see what's about to happen do you? It must be nice,” Tegoshi's voice was tinged with bitterness, “To have things happen for you so effortlessly. I know you think I'm joking but sometimes I really do envy you.”
Shige wanted to argue but Tegoshi just walked away.
“You're crazy. Why would everyone’s darling envy me?” Shige said to his back.
“You know,” Tegoshi said ignoring his last comment but turning back towards him,”You really did look cool jumping from that bridge before your face ruined it.” He laughed as he walked away, leaving Shige feeling like he'd lost a game he hadn't know he was playing.
Three months later
“Aahwn. Sorry I didn't mean to yawn in your ear … anyway like I was saying. The lady laughed and said 'anything for Sugoi Shige' and then took us to the best table. It was incredible. I mean I still really hate that nickname but it is nice when it makes life easier. So how was your weekend?”
“Oh, yeah, did I tell you I have a meeting about a drama? They asked for me specifically. I wish you could have come to filming last week. Did you know you have to wear special underwear for spelunking? We're filming tightrope walking tomorrow. I'm a little bit nervous but I'm sure it will turn out well. After all, when I couldn't get my bike do to that 270 nobody was that upset. I really thought I would have been better at doing tricks on a bicycle than that. Anyway, it's been so long since we've hung out and had fun. Why don't you come and watch filming and then we can spend the rest of the day together. What do you think?”
Everything in Koyama want to say exactly what he thought about everything Shige had just said. His insides screamed to tell him what a bad idea he thought it was for someone as inflexible and poorly balanced as Shige to attempt walking a tightrope. He wanted to scream that the only person that should be annoyed with the nickname 'Sugoi Shige' was himself. He was the one who had lost face with his 'every' colleagues when that dumb ass comedian perfected his genuine amazement at seeing his friend of a decade jump off a bridge. Instead, though, he said nothing, just agreed with Shige and made plans to meet him the next day.
It had been a long time since he and Shige had been able to really spend any time together. They still talked on the phone and Shige liked to fill him in on all the behind the scenes gossip but it wasn't the same. He really missed Shige. And the success of We R Boys hadn't helped. They'd made him look like an incredulous idiot, but it had helped Shige become a household name with Shige's own fearless jump saving him from just being some loser that everyone was making fun of.
Koyama tried to steel himself for whatever was ahead of him tomorrow. The idea of watching the live filming of a TV show that he could barely watch at home without cringing and writhing about so much he looked like he was having a seizure, was hideous. The emotional roller coaster ride of Shige's triumphs and failures, his near misses and his painful falls, were all captured to Koyama's horror in every show.
He had started to understand why Ishikawa had picked Shige. Success or failure he was compelling to watch. He was unconsciously raw and vulnerable as he tried his hardest not to let everyone down. Ishikawa was exploiting his friend. His Shige. The person he had spent years secretly trying to protect and shield. Koyama felt like he should have seen what was happening sooner and stopped it. Now, though, all he could do was watch as anyone who bothered to, could turn on their TV and see the Shige that was originally for his eyes only, make himself available to be mocked.
Koyama knew Shige had been lucky so far. Lots of people seemed truly inspired by Shige's efforts and really wanted him to succeed and they were just as crushed as Shige when he didn't. Plus the fact that he didn't give up, but kept trying to do his best, moved them.
But it was all too raw. Eventually something was going to happen and then the vultures on the sidelines would sweep in and rip Shige apart. And there would be nothing Koyama could do about it because Shige was too big for his protection now. It wasn't that Shige was a naive fool, he just couldn't see himself clearly and was a little too trusting. Koyama loathed Ishikawa for not protecting Shige better. Maybe if they were lucky Ishikawa would be involved in some scandal like that jackass Shimura and have to quit.
Koyama saw it as if it were in slow motion. First Shige stumbled as he tripped over something invisible, his arms flailing as he tried regain his footing, then the exclamation of dismay as his pants caught on the rope, followed by the sickening sound of the bare flesh as Shige's thigh dragged across the wire as he spun and fell to the hard ground, landing with an audible thud. And then the horrible silence as Shige lay on the ground unmoving, while Koyama stood frozen to the spot.
It felt like time had stopped, preventing him from even taking a step. Then suddenly everything speeds up and he's shouting Shige's name in such a shrill voice that he barely recognizes it as his own. Time continues to move strangely as it feels like it takes him so long to get to Shige's side, to find him conscious but his breathing is labored from having the breath knocked out of him. Then in the next moment they are in the back of a car speeding to the emergency room.
Naturally, the cameras keep rolling, and Koyama tries to shield them both as best he can, especially when he realizes they have instinctively joined hands. He wants to yell at them to get away from Shige, but again he stays silent for Shige's sake. At least they don't climb into the car with them, though Koyama knows they won't be far.
The car barely feels like its moving and even though Koyama knows they are rushing to the hospital everything seems to be moving in slow motion. He can hear himself saying comforting things and he knows Shige's in pain because every time there is a bump that jars them at all, he squeezes his hand extra tight.
It isn't until Shige is in a hospital bed, Koyama has spent several hours pacing nervously, and the doctors confirm Shige has a fractured rib and a nasty rope burn on his inner thigh, that time finally returns to normal.
Koyama barely has a chance to pop his head in to see Shige's peacefully sleeping form before he's being ushered out again. He finds a poorly lit but quiet spot just outside the deserted waiting room that he felt like he'd been occupying for weeks. He sags against the wall and let's his body slide down into a crouch. He just wanted to cry. He wasn't totally sure why or what to do about how he was feeling. He felt so unsettled.
He knew Shige was fine and they would be sending him home tomorrow. The doctor said that the only things that could heal a rib fracture were rest and time. So just to be sure there were no other problems lurking, they were going to keep him under observation and on a drip overnight then send him on his way in the morning.
So what was the problem? Koyama felt that everything would be better if they would just let him go back into Shige's room and stay with him during the night.
The sudden intrusion of the sound of two people entering the waiting room made Koyama withdraw more, moving back further into the shadows. He was surprised when he recognized one of the voices immediately as Ishikawa. From the conversation, Koyama assumed the woman with him was his 'right hand man' or possibly someone more senior, given the informal way she was speaking to him.
“Hirose why don't you just let them cancel the show? You've proven your point and you've put that boy through enough. You'll be lucky if he doesn't die next time. And he's going to need at least two months to heal enough to be able to film again, even if it was just a fracture. Don't you like poor Shige-kun, even a little bit?”
“I won't stop and I haven't made my point and you know it! I was suppose to fail at this. You know I didn't want to make this stupid show, but apparently my eye for talent is too good for my own sake. I'm going to finish what I started. That exec Daichi says as long as the doctors clear him with time for at least 3 months training, then the insurance will still cover him and they will let him run it.”
Koyama's heart started violently. What were they going to have Shige run that he would need 3 months to train for?
“Daichi said if we could get his little group mate to come to set again that we should. Apparently they'd like to cause another Sugoi Shige moment. Those people are fools without any artistic integrity. You can't make that kind of stuff happen. It's only great because it's natural. Though it might happen anyway, have you seen those two together? The way Kato moons over him. I'd say they were fucking but you really can only act that way before you get your cherry popped. I imagine the squinty eyed one is the holdout but probably not for long after the way he acted today. Kawahata said he was practically holding Kato all the way here.”
Koyama wanted to stop listening to these lies! Horrible lies told by a nasty little man in ugly clothes!
“Hirose stop being so vulgar. I think they have a beautiful friendship. Did you know that Shige-kun told me the other day that he's known Koyama-san for more than ten years?”
“Wow! I do feel sorry for Kato! 10 years of waiting for someone to get a clue is enough to make anyone a clumsy fuck. Anyway, we are going to proceed as planned. They can edit the tightrope crap together leaving the fall in but making Kato still look good. Then they're going to rerun all they other episodes with clues about the 'big announcement' hinted in every episode. Then we'll do a behind the scenes episode with Kato, and probably his little butt buddy as the host, making the special announcement that Kato will be this years 24hr TV special personality marathon runner. Just like I was asked to.”
“But I thought your point was that the show wouldn't succeed and then they wouldn't have a runner for their marathon?”
“My point is to cause as much trouble as I can without anybody being able to pin it on me. This is the best I can do for now.”
“But what if the doctor won't sign off on Shige-kun's health.”
“I've my insurance for that right here.” He said tapping shirt pocket. “Now come on. Let's find an empty closet, I've always wanted to be blown in a hospital.”
Koyama didn't know what to do. Part of him wanted to stand up and walk over to Ishikawa's retreating back, turn him around and beat on him, which was a new and scary feeling. Another part of him wanted to stop them and demand that they tell him everything because Koyama could tell there was some crucial part of the plan that they hadn't discussed. Of course it wasn't ideal that the runner didn't finish the race but it certainly wouldn't be the end of the world for the network. The only person that stood to be hurt by not finishing was Shige and Ishikawa didn't seem to have any personal issues with Shige except for thinking he was gay for Koyama.
Koyama wasn't the least bit concerned about that because his characterization of Koyama had been way off. So there was no surprise that such a shallow guy wouldn't be able to see Shige clearly either.
He was still conflicted though. Another part of him wanted to rant and scream while another part of him wanted to go back to the crying option. After sitting for a few moments longer he decided to do none of the above and just go home. He needed to investigate this more before told Shige what he knew and the first person he should ask was the man himself. He was careful when he left though, making sure to leave via the private exit, just in case any of Ishikawa's cameramen were still lurking.