pairing: Yamada Ryosuke/Chinen Yuri
word count: 1,697
author's note: My general feeling about Yamada and Chinen's relationship right now is pretty pessimistic, so I figured I ought to try to change my attitude.
summary: Chinen has been together with Yamada for a long, long time now.
Chinen has been together with Yamada for a long, long time now. Almost eight years, if he wants to sit down and count it out, but somehow, it feels like a lot longer. It's easy to see what JUMP has done in the past eight years (or the past ten, since their debut), easy to check off their accomplishments one by one, their first, second, tenth, twentieth single, their first album, their first Asia tour, their first variety show, their first time filling Nissan Stadium. It's easier, too, to remember interpersonal events within the group, when someone began to date someone else, when a circle of friends broadened, when two people costarring in a drama became closer than they had been. As they near their tenth anniversary concert, everyone is getting more and more sentimental, and while Chinen has never been weepy or emotional looking back on good times, he has to admit, they've been through a lot together. It's all marvelous to look back at, really, and Chinen treasures all the memories they've made together, the nine of them.
But it's different with Yamada. Or rather, there are still the memories, tons and tons of them, enough to fill photo albums and diaries twice and three times over, but it's different because there are no dated events by which to sort them, no chapter markers bookmarks, only memories of then and now and in between, and the knowledge that somehow, changes have occurred, reshaping their relationship time and time again in new and different ways, like slowly moving glaciers that somehow, they've both overlooked. But things have changed, and it's hard to see, now, the children they had been when they met, the tiny little boy with the pixie grin perched in the lap of every senpai he could find that was Chinen, the chubby-faced, shy kid with the determined look on his face and the big dreams who somehow has gown up into Yamada. Of course things have changed since then; Chinen has gotten (a little) taller, Yamada has lost too much weight and then gained some of it back again, but it's not just that, of course, it's far more than just that. Even when, years later, they first began dating, began the roller-coaster of a ride that their relationship has been, things were always different, their faces were thinner, their hair longer, their minds filled only with thoughts of JUMP and of each other.
But they were so young at the start, only sixteen, just babies, really, with no idea where their lives were going or what they were doing, and after the initial glee of stupid teenage love began to rub off and the reality of attempting to make one out of two very different personalities began become obvious, things had gotten rocky, Chinen will be the first to admit. As they were all thrust further into the spotlight (and some more than others), Yamada's insecurities began break through the surface, cutting into both of them, into the shaky little relationship they had built together, and while Chinen doesn't remember dates and times, doesn't remember how, exactly it got to be this way, things were bad, for a while. He isn't someone to hold onto regrets and unhappy times, but he can't exactly forget the constant disapproving comments and snappish responses, the criticisms of you cut your hair too short, grow it longer and don't dress like that, be cuter. He can remember, too, the way the others looked at him, nervously and worriedly, when Yamada carried on in the dressing room at him, when Chinen was the easiest outlet for all of his anxieties and frustrations, and how he had turned the other cheek to it all and battened down the hatches until the storm had ended and Yamada, at least temporarily, turned sunnier. After all, it was clear to Chinen, even if it hadn't been to the others, that Yamada needed him, and so he had stuck it out, endured the verbal abuse and the constant bad moods, for him. Maybe it had been the wrong reason, but even if Chinen couldn't for the life of him figure out when his best friend had become this sink hole of insecurities, lashing out at others for fear of his own inabilities, he held onto hope that maybe one day, the dieting and obsessive preening would fall away and he'd have his best friend back.
And sure enough, somehow, they found equilibrium, the two of them. Chinen isn't sure when or how, but somehow, they managed to turn things around-- maybe, he thinks, if he thinks hard enough, it was when one day, worn particularly thin by the stress of weeks of concerts with not much reprieve, Chinen finally snapped that he was going to dress how he damn well pleased and if he wanted to go out without hair and makeup and all the rest, that was his own business, or maybe it had been when Yamada had finally broken down, tears dragging trails of mascara down his hallowed cheeks as he choked out I have to be like this, because if I'm not good enough, you're going to leave me, and Chinen had finally been given the chance to reply, no matter what you're like, you'll always be good enough for me, I'm never going to leave you. Or maybe it was some other time all together, or a compilation of all the times, but whatever the catalyst had been things turned back around. As they poured their hearts into JUMP and finally began to go somewhere, surpassing their senpai in popularity and sales, Yamada's tightly-wound neuroses seemed to unfold, one by one, until they were all laid out on the table for Chinen to see, to understand, to wipe away as best he could.
And sure, maybe Chinen couldn't fix anything; there's no way for him to know, really, no way for him to gauge just how successful his attempts to support Yamada when he needed a shoulder to lean on, to cheer Yamada on when he needed an ally, to wipe away his tears when he simply needed to cry out the bad were, but sure enough, like winter thawing into spring, things began to change. Yamada's cheeks filled out again, his skin losing the sallow hue it had had for ages, despite how much Chinen had seen Yamada grow and change over the years, through childhood and adolescence, puberty in their teenage years, somehow, it seemed like now, in his twenties, Yamada was doing even more growing than ever before, so much so that when he emerged from the management offices one day and announced, I said no, of course, no way I'm going solo, I'm sticking with JUMP, Chinen wasn't even surprised, wasn't even worried, only happy, happy for Yamada and for both of them.
And so as the days got longer, Yamada's mood sunnier more and more of the time, things began to settle again, or rather, to reshape into something new and better than before. It's hard to compare, exactly, but their fresh, bubbling love from before things had gone downhill had hardly been something to return to in their mid-twenties, and honestly, Chinen wouldn't have wanted to even if he had had the option. The dark times might have been hard, but they had pushed them ahead, Yamada and Chinen both, and the place they reached at the end, one the ice had melted, was all the more solid because of it, the landscape changed to something better for both of them. And so maybe they weren't giggling and eager to hold hands at every opportunity, but maybe catching one other's eye with a warm smile in rehearsals, maybe spending hours consulting one another about set lists and choreography when planning a new concert together, maybe leaning into one another during long train rides, no words, just warmth and comfort was better than silly Christmas dates and umbrellas with their names beneath. If nothing else, Chinen's fairly certain that the feeling of having just co-signed a lease on a nice little 1LDK in Meguro is one of his best memories to date, hazy around the edges as it's become with time.
And so with eight years behind them, everything is different in so many ways, the changes and the invisible growth building up over the years in ways that are obvious and yet indescribable. But everything is the same, somehow, too, in the most basic of ways, and so while their friends plan big, noticeable changes around them, buying houses or getting married or having kids, they're happy as is, the two of them, curled up on their own little sofa with a pile of illegible notes for their next concert planning meeting on the coffee table in front of them. Perhaps a night of delivery pizza and overwork isn't exactly romantic, not like Yamada would have wanted when they were teenagers, it's comfortable and steady and just right for right now, and besides, Chinen thinks, he wouldn't trade anything for the feeling of finishing up and settling into one another, dressed in drab sweaters and old jeans after a night in and not caring in the slightest.
"I love you more than anyone else in the world," Yamada tells Chinen after a little while, his voice a murmur into Chinen's hair, so different from the vehemence with which he used to say it in their youth, and Chinen can't help but smile, snuggling further into Yamada's shoulder and breathing in the scent of their communal laundry detergent.
"Hmm," he hums after a moment, lips curling up at the corners just as they always have, ever since he was a little boy, "I'd still trade you for Ohno-kun, if I had the chance."
And Yamada just laughs, affectionately nudging Chinen in the shoulder before pulling him closer still and pressing a kiss to his temple, and Chinen laughs too, really laughs. Maybe some things will never change, maybe some things will keep changing forever, but he thinks that if, after another eight years, they're still on this couch laughing together, he could be okay with that.