pairing: Sato Shori → Nakajima Kento
word count: 5,967
author's note: Shori's crush on Kento is serious business (to him). The title, "shouri mata shouri" is a saying meaning "victory after victory," and I think Shori would find it suitable.
summary: Not only is Kento attractive and talented and charming, but he's exactly what Shori wants to be, what Shori wants to become, and his admiration for Kento outshines any other feelings he has towards his groupmates.
At age sixteen, Shori is pretty sure of a few things. One is that, despite the fact that he's only sixteen and, as such, only has so much world experience, he's pretty good at romance. He's been writing poetry and song lyrics for practically as long as he can remember, taking note of particularly deep or meaningful or beautiful things he hears on the radio or reads in books or sees around him, and it's being observant, he thinks, that lends him an advantage over other people his age. It's just that he's paid attention over the years, and so he knows, from movies and novels and stories of friends, what the right things to say are, what the right ways to think are, and he's confident that now, as one of the frontmen of an up-and-coming Johnny's idol group, he's well prepared for his job. He likes making people happy, he likes making people smile, and while maybe he's a little inexperienced at it up on the stage, needs to work on his dancing and his flashy smile, he has the words and actions down, can whip off a "line to make a girl's heart skip a beat" on Shounen Club just like that, can think of all the right things to put into a sweet love song that kids his age and adults alike love enough to buy quite a few copies. He knows that he's young and has a lot to learn, but at the same time, he also knows that he's done a pretty darn good job so far.
The second thing in which he holds great confidence is that so long as he works long and hard enough towards something, he can make it happen. Everything comes with time, he knows, skills like dancing and singing and writing song lyrics as well as the depth of relationships, the trust and mutual respect that are built up with time in friendships and romances and all the rest. Other kids his age, Juniors and groupmates, he knows, expect instant gratification for their hard work, and while Shori understands the frustration sometimes of the long wait for good results, even at the hardest of times, he doesn't lose faith in the prospect of eventual reward. After all, despite starting out a bit gangly and awkward, a growing kid who couldn't quite find his own limbs much less remember the choreography, enough hard work rewarded Shori with eventual debut, and since then, his continual ability to come up with all the right things to say, to show off his sensitivity and emotional depth in his songs and poetry has slowly but surely won him a steady fan following. These things don't just happen, he knows, and so he silently remains faithful that, no matter towards what he's striving, no matter how long it seems as if there's no change, eventually, he'll achieve the thing towards which he's working.
Sometimes, he knows, the rest of Sexy Zone thinks he's a bit silly, that he thinks too hard or takes himself too seriously. In between rehearsals or before shows, Marius and Sou ask him again and again to take a break in whatever it is he's writing and come grab a snack with them; when he asks the Juniors his age their serious opinion on lyrics he's writing, sometimes they laugh or ask what the big deal is. Shori doesn't take offense; he knows they don't mean anything by it, but at the end of the day, he knows that what he's doing is what's going to get him ahead. It might not seem like it right away, but slowly but surely, he knows that he's moving in the right direction, and that assurance alone is enough to allow him to brush his friends' words aside and keep pushing along with the utmost confidence.
It's not just his job, though; Shori takes this attitude with everything about which he cares in life, from his schoolwork to his friendships to his home life. He treats everything important to him in his life with the same seriousness, and recently, there's been a new development in what, exactly, is important. Because Shori has had plenty of friendships before, with classmates and neighborhood friends, and maybe he's had a crush or two, but that was all before he met Kento.
Nakajima Kento, two-time winner of the prized "Junior you want as your boyfriend" category in the annual Myojo Junior rankings, the best dancer out of anyone in Johnny's in their age range, the unofficial leader of Sexy Zone. It's impossible, Shori thinks, not to be awed by Kento, when confidence radiates from every inch of his being, when he's handsome and smart and always knows just the right thing to say. Fans and younger Juniors alike are charmed by Kento's dazzling appearance and assertive demeanor and self-assured presence, by his sexy hip rolls when he dances and his romantic performances on the piano, but to Shori, beyond all of that, beyond the way that, admittedly, watching Kento does make his heart beat just a little faster, it's the layer beneath all that that really draws Shori in. Because Kento clearly takes being an idol incredibly seriously, Kento clearly gives his all and then some every time they perform, every time they're filmed, every time they sit for photos or for interviews or in a planning meeting. Not only is he attractive and talented and charming, but he's exactly what Shori wants to be, what Shori wants to become, and his admiration for Kento outshines any other feelings he has towards his groupmates (and, he thinks, the affection of all of his peers, as well).
And so, just like everything else in his life, Shori sets about advancing his relationship with Kento. Towards what, he's not exactly sure; he likes the idea of romance, of dates and moonlit walks on the beach, but, he thinks, one step at a time, he'll be able to find what's right for him, for them. And anyway, he can't get ahead of himself; he has to take it one step at a time, and slowly, he knows, he'll reach his goal. Besides, he's always been good at saying the right things, and paying attention to the right points and knowing the right time, and so, he's sure, even if right now, Kento sees him as little more than a younger bandmate, soon, things will change. Slowly but surely.
Shori isn't sure what to make of the atmosphere at the Sexy Summer ni Yuki ga Furu PV filming. Marius and Sou spend much of their time with the Juniors, playing with the kids their age, with whom they'd spent their time up until Sexy Zone's debut. Sou is almost Shori's age, and Shori himself is only a year younger than Fuma, but sometimes, he feels starkly in the middle, as if he's separated from the older two by their extensive experience but from the younger two by his own particularly advanced maturity. It doesn't bother him, really, but sometimes, it's a little lonely; Shori isn't one for rowdy games and loud laughter, and so he leaves Marius and Sou to their friends just like he leaves Fuma, constantly tired from entrance exams and depressed still, even a year later, by his Junior unit's breakup, to his sullenness and his tears. He doesn't begrudge any of them, but at the same time, it does leave him a little on the outside.
But of course, there's Kento. While Marius and Sou are tucked away out of sight and Fuma is hiding from the world at large, Kento spends any time he's not being filmed for the PV being filmed for the Making video, preening in front of the camera and basking in the glow of the attention he receives. It isn't the most flattering attitude to have, but, Shori knows, in show business, backing down is detrimental to one's job, and so he simply watches, absorbing everything he can. Where Kento is confident and spontaneous, grabbing the limelight when he can, Shori is shy and thoughtful, and he knows he misses opportunities this way, so he gazes on in awe as Kento manages to singlehandedly hold the attention of the cameraman for a good hour or so doing things as mundane as commenting on costume pieces and wandering around the set. He's really amazing, Shori thinks, and knows that he can't back down now.
But it's tricky, when everything about Kento's presence is so powerful, when Shori feels as if, right now, he could never hold Kento's attention the way Kento can hold the attention of anyone, anywhere. He watches Kento, whether from afar or a little closer; he follows the Making camera around the studio like a lost puppy, he leans against the piano as Kento plays, he watches, listens, absorbs as much of Kento's presence as he can. It's not hard, really, whenever Shori even sees Kento, he can't help but stop for a moment and simply look, gaze on in awe of Kento's wonderful presence, and so following Kento around and just looking is nice, gives Shori a warm, comforting feeling, because Kento is his bandmate, and therefore Shori will be able to do this, be able to appreciate Kento for everything amazing that his is forever.
However, appreciating is all fine and well, but Shori knows that just appreciating isn't going to get him ahead at the end of the day. Kento is so full of life and energy and talent that he doesn't notice his onlookers the way someone quieter and more observant like Shori might, or if he does, he pays them no mind, and, Shori rationalizes, with good reason. After all, someone like Kento is bound to attract a crowd, and so Shori has to make himself stand out, has to show Kento that he's more than a casual fan, that he wants to be a part of Kento's life, not just someone who appreciates it.
But he's not sure how, not when Kento's presence is so strong that it's practically enough to knock him over. Finding the right words is tough; Shori is one to think things through thoroughly, to find just the thing to say before he speaks, but he can only plan so far ahead, and he can't fumble, not in front of Kento. It's a difficult challenge, and while Shori has confidence that eventually, he'll have the tenacity and inventiveness to succeed, sometimes, it's hard not to get a little frustrated. Because where Kento comes on strong, Shori keeps to himself, where Kento thrusts forward, Shori is pliant, where Kento is, everyone is, while Shori is alone with his thoughts and plans and hopes.
And so the filming goes on this way, with Shori hovering just to Kento's right, his left, a few paces behind, occasionally earning himself a few words to which he stumbles over finding the right response. But just as the filming is winding to a close, Shori's moment comes; his bandmates, exhausted by a long work day, one by one begin to collect on the dressing room couch; first Fuma, off to one end, hiding his face and avoiding all human contact, and then Marius and soon after, Sou, tired out from a day of dancing and singing and rough-housing with their friends. And finally even Kento joins the group, perhaps finally running out of battery after a day of preening and performing and exuding a radiance so bright that Shori has been drawn to it all day like a fly to a lamp, or perhaps because, as everyone else grows tired, Kento is losing his audience, and he's ready to call it a day.
But whatever the reason, he too collapses on the couch, and somehow, suddenly, Shori knows this is his chance. The couch is really too small to fit five growing boys, but Shori has never backed down in the face of silly obstacles like this, and so he wedges himself in next to Kento, their sides pressed up together in a way that makes Shori's heart beat a little bit faster. But despite how nice this is, it isn't what Shori had in mind, and so carefully, doing his best not to wake the others, he shifts just so and carefully managed to fit is arm in around Kento's shoulders.
Kento shifts, and for a moment, Shori worries he's disturbed him, that he'll move away or find somewhere else to sleep. But Kento only hums contentedly and shifts his head so that he's laying against Shori's arm, and, Shori thinks, despite the fact that his arm is going to fall asleep in a few minutes, this is more than just a step in the right direction, this is a small victory.
The passage of time is always something that's amazed Shori; in the blink of an eye, it feels like, Sexy Zone is moving in on their one year anniversary, something that seemed aeons away when they had debuted. Somehow, they'd recorded three singles and were about to release an album, too, and Shori is overwhelmed, sometimes, to think that he's lived all of this and yet it almost feels like a dream. The others seem to have equal trouble processing the fact that they're really on the rise, and while they talk about it in awed voices, can you believe it's almost been a year? and our first album, it's crazy, Shori writes poetry reflecting his feelings and the general atmosphere of the group. Maybe he'll be able to turn them into song lyrics for their next single, or something.
On the Kento front, though, not much changes despite how much time has passed. They do things together with the group and occasionally as groupmates, though the latter is limited, usually, to the trip to the vending machine or, occasionally, coffee between the two of them when someone else bails. Being alone together is amazing regardless, though, whether down the hall or down the block, Shori loves walking beside Kento, and always listens with rapt attention when Kento tells stories from his vast experience in Johnny's. If he's lucky, he'll say just the right thing in response, and then Kento will look over at him and smile, the most beautiful, wonderful, dashing, charming, amazing smile in the world, and then Shori's day will be made. He still hasn't quite worked out what "just the right thing" is, but he's sure, with enough thought, one day, he'll figure it out. And in the meantime, Kento is friendly enough towards him that he's sure that he's making progress… it just hasn't added up enough for Shori to notice the change yet.
And so, from Shori's perspective, everything is going along well enough, and he's understandably surprised when, one day, after he gets back to the rehearsal hall from a quick run to the conbini with Kento, he's pulled aside by Fuma wearing a grim expression. The look on his face worries Shori; Fuma has only recently resurfaced from his year of depression over B.I.Shadow, and to see him look so unhappy is concerning. Shori's attitude towards the whole thing had been to give Fuma his space; surely, he had only needed a little time (or a lot of time) to work out his issues, and so now, faced with Fuma's distress, he's not sure what to do. But when Fuma opens his mouth to speak, Shori is even more surprised to discover that it's about something else entirely, and isn't quite sure what to make of Fuma's statement: "I'm worried about you and Nakajima."
Fuma proceeds to tell Shori that he's seen the way Shori looks at Kento, and that of course Kento is charming, but lots of other Johnny's, senpai and kouhai alike, find Kento charming as well, and that Fuma has known Kento for a long time, and knows that he's not the sort of person to settle into long relationships. Fuma points out that Kento spends many a rehearsal in the bathroom or prop closet with the Juniors backdancing for them, and that back in their own Junior days, Fuma seen Kento break plenty of hearts. He tells Shori that he's sure Kento would love to do the same with Shori, and while of course Kento doesn't mean it, it doesn't mean that he doesn't hurt people, accidentally.
Shori listens to Fuma's lecture patiently, his words slowly melting into Shori's own deep consideration on the matter, but, by the end, they've practically melted altogether, and Shori only smiles back at Fuma. "I know," he replies, because Kento's popularity among the Juniors is common knowledge, and Shori isn't so naive that he isn't fully aware of Kento's promiscuity. But what Shori feels for Kento is different, and he's sure that, once he can make that clear to Kento, Kento will understand. If Shori wanted to be another notch in Kento's bedpost, he would have already slept with him, and it's a little annoying to think that Fuma doesn't realize that Shori is observant enough to have already assessed the situation, but, he supposes, Fuma always just wants to look out for the younger members, and at the end of the day, it's something that Shori admires in Fuma.
And so, when Fuma furrows his brow and says, "Are you sure?" as if Shori is a child and doesn't understand what Fuma has been trying to explain, Shori only nods. Fuma doesn't give Kento much credit, but then again, Fuma just doesn't understand. Whether Fuma can see it or not, Shori knows he's moving in the right direction, and for now, that's enough.
It's a little sad that, at Shounen Club filmings, Marius and Sou are always forced to leave early by management regulations (no one under sixteen, no ifs, ands, or buts), but, he supposes, that's life, and there are plenty of other wonderful things, he knows that come along with being twelve and fifteen, that being a child on the verge of adulthood is a magical time, and so he doesn't feel too bad for them. Especially not when without them, the other-people-to-Kento ratio in their dressing room decreases drastically, especially when Fuma spends half of his time off with the Bakaleya Juniors, with Kouchi and Hokuto, leaving Shori and Kento alone.
Being the sole two Sexy Zone members in a dressing room for five is a bit of a conundrum, because there's little excuse to move closer to Kento once the other have left, and so Shori is forced to make do. Kento spends a fair amount of his time these days doing his college homework in the down time in rehearsals and filmings; college is amazing, Shori thinks, and Kento is amazing-- he has no idea how Kento's grades are, but he's certain they must be great, for how serious and studious Kento looks as he gazes down at his textbooks, diligently taking notes. Somehow, in these moments of candidness, Shori finds Kento sometimes even more dazzling than when he's turned on his full charm for the world, and he can't help but watch Kento work, pausing in his observations only to write them down in a notebook of his own. Kento has been the inspiration for a million poems, a million songs, but Shori hasn't had the courage to show them to anyone yet. Perhaps because the feelings in them are too tender to reveal to the world, or perhaps because he's a little worried that it would become apparent that he had written them about Kento.
At any rate, being alone with Kento in the dressing room at NHK hall is glorious, especially in the times when Kento decides he needs a break in his studies. Kento doesn't go anywhere without an audience, and so, when he suddenly shuts his notes and announces, "I'm thirsty!" Shori knows his day is about to get better. He eagerly accompanies Kento to the vending machines, listening to Kento talk about what he's learning at school despite the fact that Shori doesn't really understand any of it, and basking in the glory that is Kento's presence. The little outings don't usually last long; either they're joined by Juniors or senpai and Kento's attention is distracted or else Kento is forced by responsibility to return to his studies, but Shori savors them for what they are, three or four minutes of pure bliss. And more than that, they're also a chance, a chance for Shori to show how interested he is in Kento, a chance for Shori to make progress, little by little, in winning Kento's heart. One day, he knows, he'll succeed, but only if he takes advantage of little springboards like these.
But then one day, the pattern is broken and Shori is thrown for another loop. Things are the same as usual; Fuma had disappeared twenty minutes ago after a long string of text messages that made him giggle (over nothing, nothing, he insists), and then a few minutes later, Kento announced that his reading was so boring that it was putting him to sleep, and that he needed coffee asap. Shori had, as always, willingly come along, and Kento had been two-thirds of the way though a story about the cute boy who sits two rows ahead of him in one of his college lectures when, all of a sudden, Fuma appears from down the hallway giving them an incredulous look.
"Where have you two been?" he asks, and Shori blinks back at him as he continues, "They called places for the finale like ten minutes ago."
"Gawwwwd, and you tell us now?!" Kento hollers at Fuma's back as he turns and heads back towards the stage, but Shori is at a loss, because he's always been a responsible adult, he's never missed a cue or been late for a call when it comes to work (or school, or home life; Shori takes his life seriously), and for a moment, he wavers, unsure of what to do now. But before he can really think, Kento is grabbing his wrist and saying "Come on," and then they're off, running down the hall together towards Fuma's back.
They make it to the wings in enough time; it's not as if the staff would have started the finale without one of the major groups, anyway, and as they pant in the wings, Shori smiles and catches Kento's eye. "Thanks," he says, and he means it, because despite Shori's admiration for Kento, really, Shori would have been a lot later without him.
"Hey, no prob," Kento replies, giving Shori a playful shove on the shoulder, "It's all Fuma's fault for not getting us earlier, right?"
And as Kento and Fuma descend into friendly bickering, Shori can't help but grin to himself. He's thankful for Kento's help… but the fact that Kento has willingly touched Shori twice in the past few minutes is a pretty nice win, too.
School is a good reprieve from idol work, Shori thinks. It's not that he doesn't like his work; on the contrary, he looks forward to the time when he'll be able to devote all of his time to Sexy Zone and to acting and songwriting and everything else Johnny's entails. But at the same time, everyone's life needs balance, and school forces that balance into Shori's life, which, Shori thinks, is probably for the best. He has time where he's free to be "off," to relax and focus on something that isn't work, and when he has breaks to really focus and reflect on things, on his life. Often, at school, he thinks about Kento. It's only natural, really, when Kento is such a huge part of his life, his coworker, his groupmate, his friend… and of course, a little bit more, too. Or at least, to Shori; despite the fact that he's positive that he's making progress, Shori isn't exactly sure where he stands with Kento. It's hard to gauge changes in their relationship when there's nothing immediate to which to compare, and the last thing he wants to do is jump to conclusions. Still, he's been known to doodle an umbrella or two in the margins of his notes, Kento's and his own names on opposite sides of the handle. It's immature, sure, but he doesn't see the harm.
The other nice thing about school is that he gets to spend time with Hokuto. Ever since Hokuto's transfer to Horikoshi a few months back and subsequent placement in Shori's class, Shori and Hokuto have become close friends despite the fact that prior to being classmates, they only knew one another through Fuma. But they have so much in common; Hokuto appreciates the little things in life, too, and the deep and romantic nature of seasons and the world around them, and Hokuto is a thinker and a planner, just like Shori. And so they get along easily; Shori isn't bothered by Hokuto's occasional bouts of randomness, and it seems Hokuto isn't bothered by the times Shori gets lost in thought mid-conversation. All in all, Shori is grateful that Hokuto somehow ended up in his class despite making a difficult transfer and being a year older; he likes to think that it was fate that put them together. Maybe that's silly and overly romantic, but Hokuto agrees with him, and that's what matters in the end.
However, when Hokuto notices Shori's umbrellas, lining the pages of his notes and textbooks, he seems to agree less, and he frowns disapprovingly one day when he catches a glimpse of one of Shori's binders as they clean up for lunch. He doesn't say anything until later in the day, as they walk to the train station together, headed to rehearsals in the same place, but Shori knows he's been thinking about it, can tell from the thoughtful expression on his face ever since lunchtime, and so he isn't at all surprised when Hokuto starts, "About Nakajima…"
Hokuto proceeds to tell Shori that he's noticed the way Shori thinks about Kento, and that of course Kento is charming, but lots of other Johnny's, senpai and kouhai alike, find Kento charming as well, and that Hokuto has known Kento for a long time, and knows that he's not the sort of person to settle into long relationships. Hokuto points out that Kento spends many a rehearsal in the bathroom or prop closet with Hokuto's fellow Juniors, and that back in their own Junior days, Hokuto has seen Kento break plenty of hearts. He tells Shori that he's sure Kento would love to do the same with Shori, and while of course Kento doesn't mean it, it doesn't mean that he doesn't hurt people, accidentally.
Shori listens to Hokuto's lecture patiently, and when he's done Shori smiles and replies simply, "Fuma's told me." This doesn't seem to appease Hokuto, who frowns, his brows knitting together in concern, and Shori wonders, does sixteen really seem so different as a seventeen year old that all of his friends think that Shori knows nothing about sex? Of course Kento gets around, it's a part of who he is, and Shori knows it, but he also knows that Kento is talented and professional and determined and a good bandmate and a good friend, and, Shori thinks, if Fuma and Hokuto can't see that despite how long they've known Kento, they must be blind.
But then again, Shori knows he thinks more about Kento than probably pretty much anyone in the world, pays more, closer attention to Kento than any of the juniors so eager to get into Kento's pants, than Hokuto and Fuma, even, regardless of the years they've spent with Kento. It's a bit romantic, but Shori likes to fancy that he's more aware of Kento, of his ups and downs and ins and outs, his faults and his strong points than anyone else but maybe Kento himself, and while Fuma and Hokuto are good intentioned, Shori knows they don't understand.
Besides, Shori thinks, little by little, he's sure his hard work is paying off. Maybe it's not noticeable now, but it will be, and then the others will realize that Shori has known what he's doing all along.
Shori is very excited for the New Year's concert, for a variety of reasons. It is, after all, the first concert they've had since their debut concert, really, because Summary doesn't exactly count, and they've all changed and grown and improved so much over the past year that Shori thinks, this is the perfect opportunity to show themselves off to the fans, this is the perfect step forward, in the right direction, towards their future.
And then, of course, it's New Year's, and so this is not only their first step towards tomorrow, but their first step into a new year, and Shori feels, it's all just right, to be performing together this way. Spending the New Year's holiday together like they're family is fitting, because they are a family, in a way, somehow, the five of them, and maybe right now they're a little dysfunctional, a little all over the place, but that's what things like this concert are for, to bring them together. And together they'd come, putting their all into the concert prep, and even since last year, things have come a long way, Shori thinks. Marius can speak in a marginally intelligible way in the MC now, without stumbling or struggling for words too much, and Sou's gotten so much taller and yet still has great form when he dances. And Fuma's come one-hundred-eighty degrees from their last concert, Fuma now is all smiles and love and energy for the sake of Sexy Zone, like he's a brand new person this new year. And then, of course, there's Kento.
While Kento was practically perfect before, somehow, it seems, he's only gotten more perfect in the past year, and while Shori isn't one for cliches like New Year's resolutions, he resolves, anyway, to work even harder towards making Kento notice him in 2013. He's built up all the little things in 2012, he's certain, and so in 2013, he vows to make a noticeable difference, to really snowball all of his efforts until his achieves his goal. Not that there's any hurry, of course; Shori has forever, they'll be bandmates forever, but it is nice, now and again, to see some fruits to his efforts. He has faith that he's doing all the right things, that slowly but surely, he's making tiny, tiny baby steps towards the finish line, but it's just a little hard to gauge how to proceed when he can't see how far he's come.
Still, it's not all bad; there are some tiny, maybe-noticeable results to Shori's efforts. He and Kento do more fanservice together now, more than ever before, and this concert is to be no exception. Of course, fanservice is just fanservice, but the fact that Kento wants to do it with him has to mean something, doesn't it? He knows not to read too much into it, but still, knowing that Kento wants to touch him, to hold his hand or bump sides or sling an arm around Shori's shoulder is reassuring to say the least, and Shori is thrilled when Kento makes a point of putting it explicitly into some of their concert plans, and when, in turn, the staff start choreographing it into their routines. It's not much, not even a blip on the radar of anyone else, but to Shori, it's a step in the right direction, and that's what's important to him.
Of course, perhaps some of it is a little bit in Shori's mind, but so long as he admits it, that he's enjoying things that are mostly innocent, it's okay, he thinks. The beginning of Sexy Summer ni Yuki ga Furu, for example, is hardly fanservice; it's a bit of choreography that features Shori and Kento, yes, but that's about it. Shori fancies that it's because the two of them are the people who care about Sexy Zone the most, or, at least, did at the time; the younger ones, he thinks, are probably too young to understand the gravity of the situation, and Fuma had been… not at his best at the time. But Kento and Shori are always thinking about Sexy Zone, always putting their whole hearts into their group, and, Shori thinks, it's one of the many reasons why they're suited to one another. And the choreographers think so too, clearly, because Shori and Kento have their little bit, and while maybe it's not fanservice, Shori enjoys it anyway, enjoys any time he has with Kento.
It's all fine and well the way it is, but then, when the final show of the New Year's concert rolls around, just as they're supposed to break apart, Shori happens to glance to the side and is surprised to find that Kento is looking right back at him. Shori is caught for a moment, mesmerized, and while it must only be that, just a moment, because the show goes on around them, Kento winks at Shori, and despite how small it is, despite what a tiny, practically unnoticeable change it is, Shori feels as if his heart has just leapt completely out of his chest.
He finds it hard to concentrate for the next few numbers; all he can think about his Kento's face, Kento's eyes, Kento's smile, and it's a wonder that he manages to focus on the show at all until finally, it's time for the Sexy Boyz corner, and Shori, Fuma, and Kento all have a few minutes' downtime to catch their breath and change at a reasonable speed. Fuma disappears in search of water, probably, or else his cell phone, but Kento hangs around the changing area, wiping futilely at his sweat and pulling off the top few excess layers of clothing. Of course, Shori hangs close to Kento, and while he's not sure what to say, he's still a little warm and fuzzy at the memory, and he can't help but smile as he looks in Kento's direction.
Kento, for his part, is absorbed in changing clothes and wiping again at his sweat, but eventually he looks up and catches Shori's gaze. Shori is a little embarrassed and suddenly looks down to his costume pieces, hoping Kento isn't put off by his staring; the last thing he needs right now is to set himself back. But instead, Kento laughs a little, and Shori looks up again to see him grinning right back.
"Looking good out there," Kento comments, winking at Shori again and giving him a thumbs-up.
And that's enough for Shori. It doesn't matter that he doesn't really get another chance to talk to Kento for the rest of the show, it doesn't matter that Kento does fanservice with a variety of Juniors and Sou, and, of course, with Fuma over the course of the concert. It doesn't matter that when Shintaro and Kyomoto-kun show up, Kento flirts with both of them, it doesn't matter that right on stage, Kento slaps Kyomoto-kun's ass, and it doesn't even matter that Kento invites Kyomoto-kun home with him after the show. Finally, Shori's hard work is adding up, and Kento has noticed Shori. And no matter what other people say, no matter how much his friends try to tell him otherwise, Shori knows that it's not the big things, it's not the people Kento kisses or brings to the bathroom with him that matter. It's the little victories that add up, one after another, and Shori has the utmost confidence that, if he waits and works long enough, there will be a big victory, too.