The Game: Chapter 16

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Chapter 16

Fifty thousand people cheering their lungs out was a new experience for James: an aural earthquake inside his rib cage.

James had been to concerts. In high school, before life turned upside down, he and his friends often went to see cover bands playing the underage clubs.

That had been nothing like this. For a debut professional performance, the Colosseum seemed way too ambitious, but the stands were packed to the point of emulating one of those World Cup matches so jammed with people that parts of the stadium started to collapse.

James could just hear Donald pitching the idea.

Why play some shitty club for ten bucks a head when we can fill a freakin stadium with people and charge it right to their game account? Fuck me, it's so perfect I could cry.

But regardless of what subterfuge had gone into building the crowd, Stars and Dreams was no snow job.

Casey and Kanade performed twelve pieces, no two of which could be defined by the same genre. They did hard rock, heavy metal, a power ballad with keyboard accompaniment (played by Kanade and sung by Casey), some upbeat J-pop right out of Ryu and the High School Beat Box, and even some bow-chicka-wow R&B that had the two of them grinding hip-to-hip over wild screams from the crowd. They flew in the face of modern music marketing theory, and they did it with style.

For the encore performance, after ten minutes of thunderous applause threatened to tear the Colosseum the rest of the way down, Casey and Kanade came back out and sat on plain box crates, wielding acoustic guitars.

"We got somethin special for the last one," Casey said, then had to wait for a storm of cheers to subside. "Even our fans from digital downloads 'n stuff won't know this song, 'cause we wrote it today. I'm not real good with talkin, so sometimes it's like the only way I can say what I mean is with music. I wanna dedicate it to a real good friend. It hasn't been long since we met, but y'know ... time ain't everything."

"It's really Casey's song," Kanade said. "I just helped with some lyrics so I could claim it's mine too. It's called Hagane no Kokoro, which I'd like to translate as Unbreakable Heart. To our friend who would probably hate the attention, so we'll just call him 'you know who you are,' ... I'm glad we met."

There was a scattering of applause, and a hush settled over the arena for the first time since the concert began. Not even first-come hipsters knew the lyrics, so all they could do was listen and watch, fifty thousand sets of eyes and ears glued to the stage.

Hagane no Kokoro,
heart unfolded, heart untold
I sat down to think it through, inside out all thanks to you
spirit broken once before, can't be broken anymore
stark and empty, flat and cold

Hagane no Kokoro,
how'd you lose your brilliant smile
open up your razor soul, cutting veins, no blood will flow
never laugh or sigh or care, locked and chained behind despair
meaning of your life on trial

Hagane no Kokoro,
iron heart can twist and bend
shatter, scatter, crush and crack, endless burden on your back
will you always walk alone, bowed beneath this heavy stone
ever waiting for a friend

Hagane no Kokoro, let me break your heart again
set it right and make it mend, follow you until the end
let me be your wings, your sky, never fail you, never lie
Hagane no Kokoro, I'll be all you need to know
Hagane no Kokoro, let me help you let it go

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