title: public affair, the on and on and on remix
warnings: vague mentions of a dubious relationship with a minor
pairings: Miyata/Tamamori; Nikaido/Senga; Fujigaya/Kitayama
word count: 9,350
author's note: A remix of public affair by rikikomori
summary: As the night moves on and on into dawn, they think, there's always next year.
The first anniversary comes and goes with enough fanfare to practically be a debut of its own, and enough champagne and food and raucous laughter to drown out any of the harsh realities that might put any sort of damper on the situation. They all spend the evening (and the night) at Kitayama's apartment, crammed into his tiny living room, drinking and eating and rehashing their victories and triumphs, embarrassing moments, ridiculous experiences over the past year in increasingly loud voices, smattered with occasional off-key renditions of their past four singles on and on into the night. It's easy to forget the bad things at a time like this, the struggles and hardships, because here they all are together, the little junior group that could, come now a full year as debuted Johnny's artists with a fanclub and regular TV appearances and everything they could possibly want.
In reality, things aren't that simple, of course, and perhaps things have gotten more complicated since they were only a junior unit, pulling together and pulling through everything because they had the same common goal, the same common dream. Now, everything has became much less clear; "debut" is practically a tangible entity, a contract, a CD, a page of their own on the Johnny's website. But now, of course, they all want to go up, they all want to become number one, but what exactly that means, how exactly they go about achieving that is a whole different story, and without a clear path in mind, without a clear aim to shoot for, it seems, they're beginning to fray a little bit at the ends, dragged apart by the choices of a fickle management pressed on all debuted Johnny's groups, and by their own personalities, brought to the forefront by new and confusing pressures and problems.
Because when they were still a junior group, no one had dreamed that the gap between their group's frontmen would become so wide that people on the street would be able to name Kitayama and Fujigaya and Tama right off the bat and none of the rest of them despite how long the person thought, and no one ever thought that their songs would boil down to practically trios for the frontmen while the other four are left to sing harmonies during the chorus. And while they've never been a completely equilateral group-- what group in Johnny's ever has been?-- no one quite understands how Tama was nudged from the back to the front over the course of the years. They all love Tama, of course, love him the way they love all their groupmates, with an intensity they've always thought was unique to them and maybe ABC-Z in their longstanding Junior situation, but when bitterness begins to rear its ugly head, it's hard not to wonder when Tama can barely remember the lyrics, the choreography on his own…
And none of them had ever dreamed that the divide would become worse than that, even, that it would go from three and four to one and two and four, that somehow, Fujigaya would become so far featured above the rest of them that it would become uncomfortably and glaringly obvious, no matter how hard any of them try to ignore it. But of course, nothing about Fujigaya is subtle, and he struts around with a puffed out chest like he's suddenly replaced Yamada Ryosuke as the Next Big Thing, like he's somehow died and been reborn as Kimura Takuya. It shouldn't really be a big deal; Fujigaya has always been a strutter and a preener, but somehow, now that they're debuted, now that things have changed, it feels like salt in their wounds, sore muscles from endless dance rehearsals and scraped knees from roller skate mishaps while Fujigaya stands in the front and takes all the credit.
And it doesn't help that they're being torn apart at the seams as a group. With Nikaido and Yokoo siphoned off in an endless run of stage plays and Senga and Miyata deemed good enough for bit roles here and there in the Nitere one am Johnny's slot, with Tama and Kitayama and Fujigaya constantly in new dramas or else being sent off to India, they don't have nearly as much time together as they used to. When they do see one another, it's mostly in the context of work, of stress and obligations, and that doesn't really make for the best atmosphere. Where they used to go out to dinner together, now, someone has to run to a rehearsal, someone else to a magazine interview, and the rest are too tired to stay, early filming, early meeting, early obligations in the morning. And under the pressure of it all, even their most basic foundations of friendship are being shaken, when, for some reason, Fujigaya has decided to prioritize some unhealthy maybe-mentorship-maybe-more with that German kid from Sexy Zone over his groupmates. It sets everyone's teeth on edge, but it practically sends Yokoo into an obsessive compulsive tissy every time he sees them together, pulling Fujigaya aside later and spitting that he could be caught in the tabloids this way, he could put his job in jeopardy, all seemingly in one ear and out the other to Fujigaya, who's never really taken kindly to that sort of criticism. But worse is Kitayama, who, in the end, had always had the closest relationship with Fujigaya, the fiercest rivalry, the most intense friendship, the strongest bond between bandmates as they pushed one another forward. Kitayama seems to see the whole thing as some sort of spurn, and while he will never admit it out loud, he becomes snappish and irritable around just Fujigaya at first, and then around all of them. It's a mess, but no one really knows what to do about it, and so they try to ignore it, try to ignore all the problems and keep pushing forward, because, really, that's all they can do.
And besides, it's their anniversary, and today of all days, nothing is going to get them down. They drink and eat and talk themselves silly and then some, making such a ruckus that Kitayama's neighbors will probably hate them for years to come, but they don't care. They've made it this far, they survived years and years of striving towards something they thought was impossible, and, through their communal determination, made their dream finally come true. So maybe things aren't perfect, but when are they ever? The time for worrying isn't right now, and so they party through the night and into the morning, until a few hours before dawn, one by one, they drop off to sleep scattered around Kitayama's living room floor.
It's nice to see everyone this way, Miyata thinks as he watches Tama finish off the last of the champagne, his cheeks pink and eyes unfocused with the alcohol, nice to see them being closer than usual, as Yokoo lays with his head on Kitayama's legs and his feet tangled in Fujigaya's arms while, a little way apart, Nikaido and Senga lay halfway draped over the sofa. And Tama probably holds his liquor the worst of them all, but Miyata had made sure to keep him from drinking too much too early on; the last thing they needed was Tama getting sick on them, and besides, Miyata had wanted this moment to themselves. And so now here they are, a little privacy even amongst the group, and Miyata smiles a little, snaking an arm around Tama's waist. It's KisuMai's one year anniversary, but it's also theirs, and Miyata plans to celebrate, at least a little tiny bit.
"Ewwww," Tama slurs, swatting at Miyata ineffectually, and even if he wasn't drunk, Miyata thinks, it's pretty clear that he's not even attempting to push Miyata away. "You're gross, get off."
"Nope," Miyata replies simply, leaning in to press a kiss to Tama's cutely pink cheek, and he's pleased when Tama waits until he's basically done before shoving him weakly on the shoulder. "It's our anniversary, too."
"Shut up, someone will hear!" Tama whines, and Miyata rolls his eyes slightly, not sure why Tama is so intent on keeping their relationship a secret. He respects Tama's wishes, but it's not exactly as if he thinks the others would judge them or treat them differently, especially in an agency like Johnny's, and especially when he's walked in on at least two of them in rather awkward positions with various sempai and kouhai and ABC-Z members. But before he can respond something to that respect, Tama continues, "Besides, today doesn't count. I mean, I went on that stupid date with you, but I didn't start actually liking you until like at least two months later."
And Miyata laughs at that, can't help but laugh. He isn't sure what he was thinking when he challenged Tama to their little deal just more than a year ago, that if they debuted, Tama would have to go on a date with him, but he supposes it doesn't matter now. They're happy; he can tell from the way Tama is slowly sinking into his embrace, letting his head fall to rest on Miyata's shoulder that despite how prickly he tries to be, Tama is happy, too, and that's what matters. Miyata, for his part, is over the moon, always is when he's with Tama, and so he can't help but smile as he replies, "It's enough for me."
The second anniversary is different than the first in that it's so, so much worse. They had all hung onto hope as their second year began that perhaps things would equilibrate once they were mostly settled into being a debuted group, perhaps things would get better from there. But despite all of their efforts to put a positive foot forward, things only get worse and worse as time goes on and on, as the pressure increases little by little and each member is brought closer and closer to the breaking point.
Because despite an increase in group activities, despite a nationwide tour and a new album and plenty of singles, each new release is the product of hours and hours of extra rehearsal and meetings and filming, each new release comes at the expense of time to sleep, time to relax, time to regather their sanity. And so while their work activities increase, the time they're together outside of work obligations decreases sharply and alarmingly, with each member seeking refuge from the others in an attempt to maintain their sanity and keep from beginning to hate the others. Perhaps distance makes the heart grow fonder, but even if it isn't some sort of magical cure-all for friendships, they could all use a little distance now, especially when in their forced close proximity, all of the interpersonal problems seem to be brought to the forefront, each of their respective problems and neuroses grating on the others like nails on a chalkboard.
The worst of the problem, of course, is still Fujigaya, strutting around like he's king of the world and the others are lucky to be able to work with him, to be considered his bandmates. Equals isn't even really the word for it anymore when Fujigaya gets almost all the screen time in their PVs, all the solo lines in their singles anymore, and especially when his first solo single, released only a few weeks before their anniversary, sold practically better than some of KisuMai's singles have in the past. It's not really his fault that his popularity brings to light an unpleasant truth about the industry in which they all work, but it's a little hard to let that slide by when Fujigaya practically flaunts it in front of their noses for weeks.
It's also hard, though, to put all the blame on Fujigaya when, in response to his behavior, Yokoo and Kitayama have become nigh on intolerable themselves. They take it out in different ways; while they both have their brooding and moody days, Yokoo rebounds back and forth between obsessive strictness, scolding the other members for any toenail out of line he catches, and unbearable trolling, to the point that it's hard to tell when he's being serious at all. Kitayama, on the other hand, falls practically to Fujigaya's level, engaging in enough strutting of his own that anything he says about Fujigaya anymore begins to sound like the pot calling the kettle black. But of course, any comparison between he and Fujigaya leads to another temper tantrum, and so the others try to look the other way, but it's hard, when almost half of the group are practically refusing to speak to one another. It puts the other four on edge, too, makes Senga shier, Nikaido grumpier, Miyata compensationally more obviously cheerful than ever before, and Tama, of course, never really a bright ray of sunshine even in his own right, seems to become even more whiny and self-centered now that there's almost no positivity around to coax him into a better mood.
And so by the time their second anniversary rolls around, things are ugly, really ugly. They all give the public their best sparkling smiles, because that's their job, to keep their own issues behind closed doors, but there's no denying that the issues are there, anyway. They're starting to leak into even the best times, to put a damper on what little time they do spend together, and so their second anniversary party isn't awful, but it's not like the first either, it's a little uncomfortable and a little off the whole time. It doesn't help that Fujigaya shows up two hours late, late enough that Nikaido was beginning to wonder, a sinking feeling in his stomach, if Kitayama had invited him at all, and it doesn't help at all that his excuse is well, I had to drop Mari off at home on my way here, you know how it is…. It doesn't help, either, that Kitayama refuses to speak to him for another good hour after, or that the tense atmosphere makes Tama a crankier drunk than usual, leading to him drinking far too much for his slender body to handle and ending up puking in Kitayama's only bathroom less than four hours into the party. Feelings make Nikaido uncomfortable as it is, good or bad ones, and he frowns, grumbling to himself more and more to cover the fact that this is scaring him, the way his friends are acting is scaring him and he doesn't know what to do.
Eventually, things calm down a little, go back to some sort of normal; once Tama gets himself back under control, he spends the rest of the evening leaning on Miyata's shoulder and letting Miyata feed him crackers and ginger ale, finally, Kitayama gives in to Fujigaya's goading and engages him in a drinking contest that ends in both of them passed out cold right there at the table. Yokoo sighs and gets blankets for both of them before curling up by himself on the sofa some time around the time Tama starts falling asleep and he and Miyata disappear into Kitayama's bedroom. And then that leaves Senga and Nikaido, alone all of a sudden and awkwardly silent after all the ruckus and fighting and bared emotions where they weren't supposed to be. Honestly, coming here, Nikaido had thought he was going to be safe, with friends, with the people he had (though he'd never admit it aloud) come to love with all of his heart over the years. And now, he's still reeling a little, he doesn't know what to think, and he doesn't want to let his weakness show, either, but he can't find the right words, can't even find a complaint to grump after such a tumultuous experience.
But then "Nika," says Senga, and it startles Nikaido out of his thoughts, startles him enough that he jumps a little despite himself, blushing and frowning at his own reaction. Somehow, Senga is way closer than Nikaido remembers, up next to Nikaido now where they remain at the table, and he's warm, Nikaido can practically feel it radiating through him, even in the heat of summer. He smells good, too, like fresh laundry, and it make Nikaido's blush get worse as he frowns and pointedly looks the other way. "What do you want?" he grumbles, not sure how else to hold himself together right now besides feigned indifference.
But Senga only smiles-- Nikaido can see it out of his peripheral vision, and god, he's really too cute sometimes he thinks despite himself-- and scoots a little closer, resting his head against Nikaido's shoulder. "You don't always have to worry alone," he replies after a moment, voice quiet and soft but still there, still assured, "I'm here too, you know."
Nikaido wants to ask him what he means, but when he turns his head to look at Senga, Senga leans up and kisses him, right on the lips, without another word. And while maybe Nikaido should be pulling away and scowling, maybe he should be startled and surprised and in shock, maybe at the very least he should be worried that Yokoo and Kitayama and Fujigaya are actually asleep, that Tama and Miyata aren't going to appear out of the bedroom at any moment, all he can think is that maybe, just having Senga here actually might be enough to make things a little less scary from now on.
The third anniversary is better than the second, at the very least. Their third year of debut is a mixed bag, some of the goods outweighing the bads, some of the bads still dragging down even the most positive of moments, so that, at the end of the year, they sort-of even out into something that's not wonderful or fantastic but pleasant enough, at any rate. The year had dragged on and on at first, on the heels of the awful second, but slowly, it starts to feel lighter and less dreary until summer rolls around and they've made it through another year. At the heels of it all, the party feels like a legitimate celebration of the fact that they've made it this far, which, frankly, seems like something worth celebrating to most of them.
Because while some things have gotten worse-- Fujigaya's second and third solo single and first solo concert, for one, leave the rest of KisuMai wishing they could be happy for him and yet trying to swallow back a distinct bitter aftertaste, and the fact that Tama has been selected to co-host a new variety show despite the fact that he can barely read the cue cards, much less make interesting conversation doesn't sit quite right with the members who aren't also starring in two or threes dramas in a year as well-- it's not all bad. After Nikaido's big drama break the year prior, he and Yokoo have been cast in a movie remake of one of their stage plays, earning them more attention and publicity than ever before and actual solo lines in the single released to be the movie's theme, and a few months later, they release a PV with a street dancing theme that features Senga and launches him forward in popularity, as well. They pull off another successful concert tour, and while they're stressed and have moments where they snap at one another after nights of no sleep, rehearsing and traveling from city to city, the moments just after a show, high on adrenaline, that they pile into a group hug just off the side of the stage are starting to make up for it again, just like when they were younger. And when, just before their anniversary, it's announced that Tama's variety show will be revamped and Miyata will be added on as a "regular guest," it begins to seem as if even if everything isn't fair or equal, even if there are some touchy spots and bumps in the road, things are looking up, if even just a little.
And so things are far from perfect, but they're far from awful, too, and at the very least, they have one another to get them through the hard times. It's still hard as a group sometimes, hard not to step on one another's toes, hard not to snap or accidentally push too hard on the subject of something still sensitive, but in pairs and small groups, at least, they begin to find comfort and companionship again. Yokoo finds it in his heart to start spending time with Fujigaya again, in small doses, or else with Kitayama, and Senga and Nikaido have gone from close to nigh on inseparable. And even Tama seems less intent on shoving Miyata away, his whines of you're gross as Miyata pulls him close and makes kissy faces at him lacking much bite and his shoves weak enough that he couldn't have pushed away a small child, much less Miyata in his unwavering devotion. And so even if they still have their cracks and bumps as a group, even if there's still some underlying tension, some hurt feelings and damaged pride, they're coming back together in new ways, growing in new and different places despite everything that's pushing them down.
So when it comes time for their third anniversary party, everyone is in much higher spirits than in the past as they pile into Kitayama's apartment, everyone on time, Senga and Nikaido, and then Yokoo and Fujigaya turning up in pairs. Things still aren't perfect; Fujigaya still tells one too many stories about his solo tour for anyone's, much less Tama's comfort, which puts Kitayama and Yokoo both into grumpier moods than they should be, considering they're at a party, but if Tama remembers correctly (and Tama always remembers correctly, no matter what anyone says!) he finally stopped sleeping with that dumb little kid sometime in the past year, and at least that's a start. And at least this year they're all able to talk without getting into stupid fights, able to relive moments from tours and recordings and laugh at their own mistakes, which is definitely more than could be said for last year. Of course, Tama doesn't make mistakes, but he's more than willing to laugh at the others, and to pout along when they laugh at him. Sure, it's annoying, but he'd rather see them laughing than fighting, and if he has to be the conduit for that, he supposes he can be the bigger person.
And so floating on the smiles and the laughter, the evening goes by quickly as they eat and drink and laugh on into the night. They're doing better than usual at not drinking too much early in the evening, and everyone is good and tipsy by midnight, just enough to make things more pleasant without the coherent reminders of reality, and the laughter comes easier for Tama the more drinks are in his system, even when it's at him. It gets easier and easier to lean onto Miyata's shoulder, too, despite that awful scrunchy grin that Miyata gives him, despite the way his cheeks flush even further the closer and closer he gets. On the other hand, the booze seems to make Miyata bolder than Tama thought possible, and it's around that time that Miyata's hand finds Tama's thigh, pushing back the hem of his shorts as his fingers press into Tama's skin. The touch is just light enough to make Tama shiver, and he shoots Miyata a glare, but Miyata only smiles that infuriating smile, and well… it feels pretty nice, actually, and Tama isn't sober enough to find the energy to care.
And so the night rolls on, and eventually, things begin to peter down. Fujigaya is the one to drink too much this year, eventually, after he and Kitayama decide around one thirty that it's a good idea to start doing tequila shots after four or five beers over the course of the night, and eventually ends up as the one in Kitayama's bathroom, moaning and complaining loud enough that even Kitayama's neighbors can probably hear. After a good ten minutes, Yokoo gives Kitayama a look, and despite the fact that Fujigaya still doesn't really have any hair to hold back anymore, Kitayama rolls his eyes and sighs heavily and pulls himself into an upright position, hollering that he's coming already and Fujigaya better not have puked on his bathroom rug. With his two main charges and the people who had been driving the party on suddenly gone, Yokoo takes this opportunity to announce that he's taking the bed this year while Kitayama can't defend it, and disappears before anyone can argue. Nikaido and Senga seem to take this as a cue, and manage to teeter from the table to the sofa, tumbling down together in a giant tangle of limbs and giggles, not bothering to rearrange before cuddling up and quickly falling asleep.
Tama eyes them from the table with distain; he doesn't get them, he thinks, disgustingly lovey-dovey without even being dating, looking like something out of a chick flick all curled up together on the sofa. Speaking of lovey-dovey, though, he turns his glare to Miyata, whose fingers are still making little circles in Tama's thigh, just gentle enough to feel more like a caress than a grope, just firm enough to keep Tama's breath coming a little faster than he'd like. And so, "stop that," he gripes, shoving his weight a little harder into Miyata but lacking the energy to move from where he's leaning against Miyata's side, "I can't believe I let you get away with molesting me all evening in front of everyone like that, god."
But of course, Miyata, infuriating as he always is, just laughs, slipping his hand a little higher up Tama's leg, fingers teasing along his skin. "It's because I just loooove you so much," he coos, nuzzling against Tama's face in a way that makes Tama lean away and make a gagging noise. "I can't control myself~"
"Try," Tama snaps, though his tone loses a lot of its bite when the word comes out slurred with the alcohol he's consumed over the course of the evening and slightly breathy as Miyata's fingers begin to trace patterns against his thigh. "You're so gross, you totally get off on doing it when other people can see."
"I didn't see you complaining," Miyata replies with a chuckle, pinching Tama and practically smirking when he yelps. "Stop it--" Tama whines, but cuts himself off to suck in a breath as Miyata drags his fingernails along Tama's skin before withdrawing completely. Tama pouts; he didn't actually mean it, he never actually means it when he tells Miyata to stop touching him.
But when Miyata pulls away, it isn't for long; he moves only far enough to turn slightly, putting himself at a better angle to practically tackle Tama, pushing him back into the floor cushions scattered around the table and pinning him down, pressing an adoring but short-lived kiss to his lips. "We can do whatever we want now," he comments, raising his eyebrows and cutting Tama's complaints off with another kiss. "Everyone's gone now, so there's no one to see anything naughty that we get up to~"
"Mitsu and Taipi are still awake," Tama grumbles, deciding it would take far too much effort to lift his arms and give Miyata a fake shove, even if it does mean giving up the pretense of distain. "And if you keep making so much noise, Watta and--" but he's cut off by his own shriek as Miyata really does grope him this time, a disgustingly pleased smirk on his face.
"Who's making noise now?" Miyata asks, and Tama rolls his eyes and snaps, "Shut up," before pulling Miyata into a kiss and effectively making him do just that. And maybe the others might wake up, maybe, at some point Kitayama and Fujigaya will emerge from the bathroom, but as Miyata takes over the kiss, giving Tama exactly the sort of treatment he wants without even having to ask after all these years, Tama decides he really doesn't care. After so much alcohol in the middle of summer, Tama is swelteringly hot, and he really doesn't want to have to answer any prying questions in the morning, but yet, for some reason, he lets Miyata hold him close on and on through the rest of the night.
The fourth anniversary comes at the end of the first year that things really and truly start to get better. It's not just that they're happier, or that, on an individual basis, they've found more satisfying solo work, more satisfying projects, but really that, honest to goodness, things within and surrounding Kis-My-Ft2 start to change for the better. It's little things at first, completely equal coverage in idol magazine articles and costumes for PVs becoming the same color, becoming the same style, becoming equally bedazzled, and they don't really notice, not in a big way, not more than today has been a good day or we should really hang out in a group more often… But as is want to be with these things, the little things begin to snowball together, the good days become good weeks become good months as the pressure and strain on their relationships begins to ease and they begin to remember what exactly was so great about being a group in the first place.
And then halfway through the year, little things aside, good news hits them in a big way: their variety show is being moved to golden time, 8 pm on Tuesdays, and suddenly, despite the fact that they've maintained a good fanbase, good sales over the past three and a half years, their popularity skyrockets. And it's not just Kitayama and Fujigaya and Tama this time; their show's inbox is constantly flooded with mail requesting things from Senga, from Nikaido, from Miyata, from Yokoo in their respective corners, and while they try not to let it show, it clearly thrills each of them every time they get a new letter from a new fan. And somehow, while it's something that might have inspired jealousy out of Kitayama in the past (because they were supposed to be the frontmen), he can only be happy as he watches more pride and confidence grow in his friends with each passing day.
And now that finally, as a whole group, they're moving up, they're reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, they're starting to reach out to one another again, too. Small groups merge together to form larger groups when they go out to eat during concert tours, when they decide to grab drinks after filmings, and soon, it's like it used to be again, all seven of them crammed into a little izakaya booth, Tama whining that someone's elbowing him and Miyata using the proximity as an excuse to leave his arm wrapped around Tama's waist and Yokoo rolling his eyes good-naturedly at all of them as Senga and Nikaido giggle between themselves in the corner and Fujigaya and Kitayama call for one more round, one more round… And it's easier to go out as a group now, too, now that it's not the same people with less work looking for the others to have free time, as well; because they do more group work, their solo activities have to plan around, and now that the seven of them are all doing drama spots and variety shows and stage plays, now that all of them are desired by directors and TV stations alike, it's somehow easier to make time for one another despite the fact that they're all, in actuality, busier. Even Fujigaya, who maintains the busiest schedule of all, still, even if only by a hair, manages to find time for dinner with the group most times, something that couldn't have been said a year ago, and while none of them want to say it out loud, it makes them all feel just a little bit warmer inside, nonetheless.
And so the fourth anniversary comes with smiles and anticipation, with active party planning for weeks in advance (Yokoo will bring the snacks, Senga and Nikaido will bring the sweets, Fujigaya will bring the hard liquor, and Miyata will bring the beer-- no one trusts Tama to remember to bring anything). They all mark the date on their calendars and in their phone schedules, something no one has done in years-- but then, this is the first year that every single one of them is really and truly looking forward to the party, the celebration that this year, finally, finally, they've pulled through, as a group, together.
They arrive at the party one after another, all smiles that build into jokes and raucous laughter, because for the first time in a long time, they can really let their guards down around one another, they can really relax and forget all the bad things together as a group. It's not long ago that they were causing the bad things that were tearing them apart, and so to be able to be together this way, just like when they were practically kids, working their asses off to make it to debut, is an amazing feeling. And now that they're debuted, maybe they still don't have a better goal than they did four years ago, maybe they're still a little bit awash, the seven of them, but if there's one thing they've learned, it's that wherever they're going, they want to go there together.
And so they drink and laugh and party on into the evening, soaking up the time in embarrassing stories and memories from their youth, and maybe because no one is trying to drown anything out, or maybe because they're so absorbed in one another (or maybe some combination of the two), they manage to make it through all of the booze that Fujigaya and Miyata have brought before anyone gets drunk enough to be sick. Kitayama announced jokingly, okay, that's it, party's over, everyone out, but his sense of humor backfires when the other nominate him in turn to go to the Family Mart on the corner--the only place open at this time of night, probably-- and bring back more booze. Kitayama gripes that he's always letting them use his place, the bunch of lazy bums, but it's to no avail, and so, with a long suffering sigh, he stands and announces that if they want him to go out, it was Fujigaya's job to get the liquor in the first place, so Fujigaya had better come with him.
As the words come out of his mouth, he's not entirely sure why he said them; Miyata, too, was responsible for bringing alcohol, and even if his original idea had been to make Fujigaya suffer with him, since when does Kitayama want to go on late night outings alone with Fujigaya? Maybe a long time ago, but certainly not in the past four years, certainly not since Fujigaya had started drifting away the first time, but that's all ancient history by now, and he mentally kicks himself as Fujigaya whines but agrees and follows him to the door. "You all better not destroy my apartment while I'm gone," he snaps as he pulls the door shut behind them, taking in all of their nods and smiles and not trusting them in the least.
But there's nothing to be done about it now, and so somehow, Kitayama finds himself out in the thick humidity of the night with Fujigaya, and despite the fact that things haven't really been tense between them for almost a year now, they haven't really spent much time just the two of them, either. They manage to make it to the convenience store on casual banter and discussion of what drinks to buy, and things feel almost normal as they check out and head back to Kitayama's place. But as they walk along the sidewalk, heavy bags full of bottles in their hands, silence falls over them, and perhaps it's the lack of distraction or perhaps it's just being alone with Fujigaya again, but whatever the reason, Kitayama's thoughts plummet downhill fast, through all the jealousy and the hurt and the betrayal of the past four years, and when Fujigaya lets himself into Kitayama's apartment building without holding the door for Kitayama, Kitayama uses it as an excuse to snap.
Except it's more than snapping, really, it's breaking, it's crumbling after years and years of trying to stay strong against constant pressure. "What?" he shoots, tone harsher than he really intended, and Fujigaya slows, stopping and turning to face him right there in the vacated lobby of Kitayama's apartment building. Kitayama can't read his face, but he doesn't look surprised, he doesn't look angry… he almost looks as if he's waiting, just waiting for Kitayama to continue, and that pisses Kitayama off all the more.
"What?" he repeats, his anger building hot inside of his chest now that he's let it go, "Are you too good for me now? Too good to hold the door for a groupmate-- or do you even think of me that way anymore?" And he shouldn't be saying these things, he knew, especially not today of all days, not on their anniversary, the happiest occasion of the year. But it's too late, and he's lost control of himself entirely, words jumping straight from his heart to his tongue without ever going through his brain, and before he even really realizes what he's saying, he's saying, "I bet you're going to leave all of us behind soon enough and go solo."
And as soon as the words are out of his mouth, he regrets them, but in the heat of the moment, in the heat of his emotions, he can't stop, can't retract them now. All the way from the beginning, he and Fujigaya had been close, had been friends and rivals and companions and everything else that there was to be in Johnny's, and sure, they'd had their spats, sure, Fujigaya had pissed him off, but they had been equals, and while Kitayama hasn't actively thought about it since things had started to go downhill between them, that's what's been hurting him the most over the past four years: the fact that no one, not even Fujigaya, considers them equals anymore.
But right now, Fujigaya only looks at him for a long moment as Kitayama's breaths come heavy and his face feels hot, and he's about to shoot out another accusation when Fujigaya simply responds, "I said no."
"What?" Kitayama snaps back, confused by Fujigaya's response. His heart is pounding in his chest now, anger and adrenaline ringing in his ears, and his brain struggles to process Fujigaya's words even now. He wonders wildly if Fujigaya is shitting him, if he's joking, but Fujigaya's face is dead serious as he opens his mouth again.
"The management asked me to break from the group and go solo, and I said no."
The words feel like a sudden ice storm, and Kitayama trembles, his entire body suddenly shivering even in the summer heat as he struggles to understand Fujigaya's response. But perhaps it sinks into his body faster than it sinks into his brain, because after a beat, he's grabbing Fujigaya and dragging him into the outside stairwell, because the last thing they need right now is to get caught by the paparazzi in the middle of this mess.
Once they're at least marginally out of easy line of sight from the street, Kitayama practically throws Fujigaya across the narrow space, staring at him incredulously. "You better not be shitting me," he warns, his voice low and tight and dangerously serious. "The management actually asked you to go solo and you…"
"I told them to go fuck themselves," Fujigaya replies, the tiniest hint of a grin tugging at one corner of his mouth for the first time since they've been been out. And Kitayama doesn't know whether to scream or to cry, whether to slap Fujigaya or race upstairs and tell everyone that finally, finally the thing that they've all been worrying about for almost four years has come out into the open and been put to rest, finally…
But all he can manage is to drop down into a sitting position on the steps, staring up at Fujigaya in lingering shock. "…Why?" he asks, because he has too many thoughts, too many feelings to really put into words just yet.
Fujigaya glances off to the side for a moment, staring out into the alley beside Kitayama's building and running a hand through his hair, longer these days than it's been in some time now. It takes a moment for him to look back to Kitayama, but when he does, it's with a smile as he replies, "Because there are things that are a lot more important to me than the money and the fame and the glory." And with that, before Kitayama can even think of finding a response, Fujigaya leans down and kisses him.
It's a good fifteen minutes before they make it back to the party, cheeks flushed and lips swollen and hands clasped together over the handle of one of the Family Mart bags, but when they finally get back into Kitayama's apartment, they're greeted by five sleeping bandmates, draped over the couch and sprawled about the floor together. "Fuckers," Kitayama gripes, shaking his head, "After they told us to go back out for more booze…" But there's laughter on his voice and a playful grin on his face as he turns to Fujigaya and asks, "So what now?"
And perhaps it's a good thing, actually, that all the others have passed out while they've been gone, Kitayama thinks as he tumbles into his little single bed with Fujigaya, picking up where they left off in the stairwell. Maybe things have changed over time, maybe things have gotten worse, gotten better, too, but maybe, Kitayama realizes, he shouldn't have doubted that despite all that, the seven of them, the two of them, would keep going on.
By the fifth anniversary, maybe things aren't perfect, but they're pretty damn close. Somehow, over the past five years of debuted existence, things have plummeted downhill and them somehow come back again, all the way back to where they started and better. They don't really understand how it happened, don't even think about it, really, per se, but every time they go out to a meal as a group, every time they grab hands at the end of a particularly successful concert, every time they wrap up a variety show recording, they can't help but feel it, just a little, like they've been torn apart and not just put back together the way they were, but that they've become closer, somehow, for it. Maybe it's easier to be close when they're all on equal footing now, all getting solo songs on CDs and equal screen time in PVs and equally featured in choreography, or maybe it's because somehow, through the strength of their wills alone, they were able to pull through the hardest time they've ever had as a group together, or maybe it's something else entirely, but whatever the reason, as they close out their fifth year and dive head-first into their sixth, they know things are only going to get better for them, for all seven of them, from here on.
And it's not only that they're all equal now, but they've had room to grow, each in their own ways, each doing something that he loves. After their movie's box office success, Nikaido and Yokoo are in demand for dramas practically every season now, as well as the occasional stage play, earning them tons of screaming teenage girl fans every time one of them stars in a romance drama, and Senga has gone from helping with KisuMai's stage choreography to their single performance choreography to often being the main choreographer for their PVs, something that, no matter how much he tries to talk it down, makes him smile hugely every time he sees his name listed in the credits. Meanwhile, Miyata and Tama's variety show's ratings have only gone up as Miyata and Tama's relationship dynamic has caught the attention of more and more viewers, and Fujigaya and Kitayama have both been cast in upcoming movies and are constantly betting on whose will do better in box offices. The others all roll their eyes every time they begin to bicker, but really, it's so good to see their friendly competition reemerging, and each of them has put at least a little money on one movie or the other, perhaps less for competition and more to show their support for their friends, though they'd never say it in words.
And so the fifth anniversary party is the best anniversary party yet, better, even than any parties they had in their junior days, too. They drink and laugh and celebrate, of course, with all sorts of beer and liquor and even champagne, they shout and sing and make noise for Kitayama's neighbors to hate them over yet again, but as the hours roll on, the conversation takes a nostalgic turn, and even if their words are slurred and their voices slightly hoarse to follow after all the alcohol and the yelling earlier in the night, it's the thought, Miyata thinks, that counts.
And "Five years" Fujigaya slurs, a grin on his face that's not even the slightest bit smug, "we've been a debuted group for five years," and Miyata can't help but think it's a testament to those five years, after everything, that Fujigaya is the one getting nostalgic first, the one reflecting.
"Thank you for staying with us," Kitayama replies, a look of seriousness finding itself on his features, but instead of getting offended like he once might have, instead of snapping back something in defense, Fujigaya only rolls his eyes and slings an arm around Kitayama, collapsing into his side in a way that, Miyata thinks, would be far too affectionate for him if he wasn't completely sloshed. But maybe it's not just the alcohol; the two exchange grins and make peace as they clink their bottles together, and when Nikaido remarks remarks on how different this behavior is from how things were five years ago, the two brush the remark off with a bit of affectionate roughhousing, and even while Tama moans that everyone around them is gross, Miyata can't help but smile.
The smile doesn't fade as time goes on and the reminiscing continues, about how things have changed for the better over the past years, about how the back four have come front, about how the frontmen have found the right niches, about how they've grown up and together and found real popularity as a group, not just as a few attractive guys and their backdancers. They talk about specific past projects, wasn't this concert great and I miss recording that PV, as well as upcoming ones, and they all make plans to go see Kitayama's and Fujigaya's movies, to watch Nikaido's upcoming drama, to guest, if they can, on Tama and Miyata's show when their next single drops. They talk and talk and talk until somehow, it's four in the morning, and they're beginning to drop off to sleep, first Senga and Nikaido, who migrate over to the couch as a pair and curl up together, just as they have in years past, and then Fujigaya, who passes out on top of Kitayama. Kitayama, for his part, seems to have been staying conscious out of sheer force of will, and as soon as he's beaten Fujigaya, falls back against the floor pillows and falls dead asleep as well.
Even Yokoo rests his eyes for a brief while, and Tama and Miyata take the opportunity to grab Kitayama's spare futon set and curl up inside, Miyata's fingers tracing patterns along Tama's arms, his shoulders, his sides beneath his shirt despite Tama's lackluster complaints, pausing only to pretend to be asleep when Yokoo rouses and tucks Nika and Senga in before dragging Kitayama and Fujigaya to Kitayama's bed. He doesn't reappear, and when Miyata deems the coast clear, his hands find themselves under Tama's shirt again, curling around his slender form to rest in the small of his back. Tama grumps that this is what almost got them in trouble last year, when Miyata thought it was such a great idea to get frisky right there in the living room while Kitayama and Fujigaya were out getting booze and then they had to lay there pretending to be asleep when all of a sudden, Kitayama and Fujigaya returned. But Miyata only laughs it off and kisses Tama's forehead affectionately, and Tama sighs, curling into Miyata's embrace for a moment before asking in a whisper, as if he's really still worried about Nikaido and Senga waking, about Yokoo reappearing, "Weren't we going to tell them tonight? Perfect timing and all?"
They were, but this isn't the first time that they've talked about finally confessing their relationship to their friends, and it isn't the last time, either, Miyata thinks. It's not really that it's a secret, honestly, but that the time was never right to tell. Things were too rocky at first, too delicate, and then when everything started coming back together, there was the constant fear that a big change like a relationship might throw things off again. And somehow tonight didn't feel right either, didn't feel like a time to talk about only he and Tama, not when this evening had been about the seven of them, all seven of them.
But it's easier now, laying beside Tama, to keep it simple, and so "Missed the window of opportunity, apparently," Miyata replies quietly, "I don't mind."
Tama gives him a scowl for show, but he can't help but laugh a little despite himself as he teases Miyata about how he loves to have a secret, about how he loves to do improper things while the others might see, moving closer and closer to Miyata all the while. Only Tama would blame Miyata for being a borderline exhibitionist before kissing him right there in front of Nikaido and Senga's sleeping forms, but Miyata can only love him more for it, more and more and more with each year.
Eventually, though, they tire of kissing and break apart to catch their breaths, foreheads touching as they lay there in one another's arms. As they reminisce about their first date, how they ended up together, their little deal that turned into so much more, Miyata can't help but think that it's amazing that, in a group like theirs, despite the fact that he's sure no one will mind their relationship when they finally do tell, they're the only ones who ended up dating. But it's a passing thought; what's important now that everyone else has gone to bed is Tama, because even if today is mostly about Kisumai, it's just a little bit theirs, too.
"Happy anniversary," Miyata mumbles against Tama's lips a few kisses later, once the conversation has mostly faded out, Tama wrapped up tight in his arms, and
"Happy anniversary," Senga whispers sleepily into Nikaido's chest, unsure if Nikaido is awake or asleep but comforted nonetheless by the steady sound of his heart beating, and
"Happy anniversary," Fujigaya murmurs against Kitayama's ear, lips swollen and breath still coming fast as he curls comfortably against Kitayama's bare skin, and
As the night moves on and on into dawn, they think, there's always next year.
"Happy fucking anniversary!" Kitayama yells, far louder than necessary (though by now, hopefully his neighbors know to spend the night out on August tenth), thrusting his glass into the air and spilling champagne everywhere. "Ten fucking years, can you fucking believe it?"
"What a foul mouth you have when you're drunk," an equally-drunk Fujigaya quips back, taking the opportunity now that Kitayama has risen up on his knees to make the toast to slap his ass. He's rewarded with a punch in the arm, and laughs.
"You two better watch it or you're going to be put in the back next," Yokoo warns jokingly, laughter on his voice as Tama pouts at him, "Seriously, you're still bringing that stuff up?"
"It's ancient history," Miyata agrees warmly, more of his attention on petting Tama's hair from where Tama is leaning against his shoulder than on Yokoo. "Stooop," Tama whines, even as he nuzzles his head into Miyata's touch.
Kitayama and Fujigaya both roll their eyes, looking from Tama and Miyata to where Senga and Nikaido had been giggling between themselves up until the past few moments, but Yokoo only chuckles. "More importantly," he adds, glancing to Fujigaya and Kitayama before addressing the group, "Happy anniversary to all you lovebirds. I don't know how I got stuck with you guys being mushy on me all the time, but I guess I can't kick all six of you out of the group."
"Who's mushy?" Kitayama gripes, frowning, but Yokoo only quirks a brow in response.
"Who ran away and got married in Vegas?" he asks in response, sending Nikaido and Senga into a new fit of giggles and drawing exasperated expressions from both Kitayama and Fujigaya.
"Oi-- we were filming there already, and we were drunk!" he explains, cheeks coloring, though it's hard to say whether from the alcohol or the memory.
"Whatever," Fujigaya cuts in, waving a hand in Yokoo's direction, "They're all just jealous that they're never going to have a wedding night like we did, right Mitsu?"
But before Kitayama can answer, Senga replies with a giggle, "We did just get to christen our new apartment, though…" as Nikaido turns a brilliant shade of red and looks away, elbowing Senga in the ribs.
"We really are all grown up, now that our babies have moved out and are having sex all over their shiny new 1LDK," Yokoo comments jokingly, but even so, there's a smile on his face as he looks at Nikaido and Senga together, and at Kitayama and Fujigaya, together in happy endings that none of them had dared to hope for eight, nine, ten years previous.
But then "Stoooooop!" cuts into the silence, and everyone's attention is drawn to Tama, who's squirming in Miyata's embrace as Miyata plants a kiss firmly against Tama's neck. "Stop doing that while everyone can see!" Tama clarifies, shoving Miyata so weakly that Miyata doesn't move in the slightest, and chuckles instead.
"You're too pretty to resist~" he replies in a singsong voice, even as Kitayama makes retching noises in the background and Fujigaya rolls his eyes.
"You guys have been together for how long now, and you're still gross like this?" he asks, overdramatic exasperation in his voice but a smile on his lips.
"Ten years," Miyata replies proudly, squeezing Tama a little closer against his side, and despite the pout that he's trying to force, it seems like Tama can't help but smile a little, too.
"Holy shit, that's a long time," Kitayama replies, and Senga nods earnestly. "I can't believe you didn't tell us for so long! Like…" He seems to be trying to count, but mental math isn't agreeing with him after so many drinks. "Like more than five years!"
"Shut up!" Tama replies, eloquent as always. "You all did the exact same thing!"
"Not for as long," Nikaido replies grumpily, but before they diverge too far from the topic at hand, he adds, "And ten fucking years, and you haven't changed at all!"
"How long are you going to go on being so…" Senga starts with a giggle, and "weird and gross," Fujigaya finishes for him, causing Senga to dissolve completely into giggles once more. Tama sticks his tongue out in response, mature as ever, but Miyata only smiles and intertwines his fingers with Tama's as he responds:
"Another ten years, at least."