pairing: Iwahashi Genki→Miyachika Kaito
warning: Vague passing mentions of past bullying
word count: 3,011
author's note: I over-identify with Genki liek woah. Written for shiritori @ writetomyheart.
summary: But that's how it's always been, hasn't it? Genki comes up lacking in every field, and so there's really no reason for him to force his feelings or affections on anyone, and certainly, most of all, not on Miyachika.
Trying to start round two is always more difficult than Genki thinks it ought to be whenever their circle of friends goes bowling in a large group. Starting the game at all is always a hassle; they have to pick an order, and then Fu will inevitably enter ridiculous things in the system instead of their names that no one will remember after five minutes, and then Jinguji will complain that this ball is too heavy or that ball is too light, and his shoes are too small and too slippery on the bottoms, and then Kishi will drop the ball on his foot and start crying, and it feels to Genki as if it takes years just to get the game underway. But once they're finally into the rhythm of taking their turns, he really thinks it ought to be easier to cycle from the last person of the first round (usually him; the others all rush to get their names in first, and Genki has never been one to try to elbow his way in in front of the others, but he hates the way everyone watches him, just waiting for him to mess up when it finally comes time to take his turn at the end) to the first person of the next round, but for whatever reason, things never go that smoothly. At times when the first person is Jinguji, it means they have to go through the whole song and dance of him picking his ball and posing as if he's the main character of a bowling anime or some such nonsense, and if it's Kishi, they have to find a way to pry him out of Fu's arms for him to take his turn (which is surprisingly harder than it sounds), and if it's Shori, they all have to sit around wondering what exactly it is that goes through his head as he contemplates the brevity of the life of bowling pins or else the fleeting beauty of a gutter ball for at least ten minutes before he takes his turn. It's a huge pain, and while Genki loves all of his friends, loves each one of them individually, he sometimes really wants to pull his hair out when they (always, inevitably) make his life difficult.
Of course, there's Reia, who's usually fairly prompt unless he's play-fighting with Shintaro over the french fries or being dragged off to the bathroom by the ever-classy Jinguji, and there's Fu, who will willingly take his turn so long as he can be extracted from Kishi, but more than with anyone else, Genki's stress and annoyance falls away when the little cursor on the screen falls on Miyachika's name. Because, Genki thinks, Miyachika is the definition of consideration; even while joking and laughing with the others, he gets up and takes his turn with little fuss, one throw and then the next, and even if he misses altogether, even if he gets two gutterballs in a row, he never bats an eyelash, but instead cracks a joke about it as he moves on, making way for the next person. Not only is he a good loser, not only is he funny and witty and charming, but Genki finds a certain sense of zen in the knowledge that, even without knowing it, Miyachika will always make Genki's life a little easier. Of course, he'd rather that Miyachika did know it, but there's no way Genki is ever going to be able to tell him, and so he watches admiringly from a distance and lets it lay.
Because what good would it do to try to bring it up? Genki doesn't know the first thing about giving compliments without making things awkward, doesn't know the first thing about talking to boys like that. He's always been plain and awkward and ugly and stupid, and years of torment and bullying in junior high school fading out instead into a life of being the butt of the joke amongst his friends in Johnny's has taught him that it's best not to speak out. He knows that they all mean well, that Jinguji is just inherently an ass to everyone and Fu teases all his friends indiscriminately and Kishi makes awkward comments in passing about anything and anyone around him without giving it a second thought, but sometimes, despite that knowledge and despite loving what he has in his friends in Johnny's now, it still stings, just like no matter how many times his friends tell him his parents are stupid, it still stings to hear time and time again that he'll never live up to their standards. But that's how it's always been, hasn't it? Genki comes up lacking in every field, and so there's really no reason for him to force his feelings or affections on anyone, and certainly, most of all, not on Miyachika.
After all, Miyachika is good at everything, and everything that Genki is bad at and then some. He's an amazing dancer and singer and performer in every aspect, and he's funny and friendly and popular, and he's handsome and fashionable and cool, and there's absolutely no need for someone like Genki in his life, someone quiet and unsure and useless in every way. And so Genki hangs back, watching from afar, even as Miyachika approaches him halfway through the game with a smile.
"That was pretty hilarious, right?" he asks with a grin, referring to how he'd slipped and accidentally thrown his ball straight into the gutter a moment ago, when it had been his turn.
Genki nods enthusiastically, but he's not sure what to say in the face of someone who certainly never needs reassurance of his own greatness. "Yeah-- it was really funny," he replies quietly, doing his best to convey his admiration at Miyachika's grace in losing and ability to laugh at himself through his smile.
Miyachika looks at him for a moment, as if he's expecting Genki to say more, but Genki doesn't know what to say. His brain scrambles for words, anything, really, but before he manages to think of anything worth saying from his own insignificant and embarrassing experience, Miyachika is being distracted by something Jinguji is doing on the other side of the lane and moves away.
It's just as well, Genki thinks. It's not like he could say what he really wants to say, anyway.
Being a junior is a busy job, but without any Summary performances to rehearse for or be in, the summer of 2013 goes by a lot less stressfully than the one previous. Genki has a lot of studying to do, of course, and there's Dream Boys, and Shounen Club, but it's nothing compared to the madness that was 2012, and Genki doesn't like to remember it, doesn't like to remember how it was all on film and shown on TV. He especially doesn't like to think that Miyachika might have seen it, might have seen him airing all his dirty laundry that way, how he was bullied in junior high school and how he used to get even more physically ill than he does now before going onstage, and how he was the one with no friends who was hidden in the corner studying kanji. It sort of feels like the story of Genki's life, but that doesn't mean he wants people to know, doesn't mean he wants Miyachika, whose life seems basically perfect in every way, to know how much Genki struggles behind the scenes.
But 2013 is better, and between rehearsals and school obligations, their group of friends finds time to go to the beach two or three times during the hottest months of the year. The first time, it's with a large group, Jinguji and Kishi and Fu and Miyachika and Reia and Amu and even Matsukura Kaito comes along, but the next time around, at Shori's invitation, it's a much smaller number, Jinguji and Miyachika and Kishi and Genki, just the five of them. It feels intimate, somehow, in such a tight group, and it makes Genki feel warm inside to know that he's really been included, that these people actually want to spend time with him.
He's a little nervous at the beginning of the trip for a variety of reasons; none of these people are exactly the most responsible people Genki knows (except for Miyachika), and the last thing he wants is to be there when Kishi drowns in the ocean or Shori gets mugged in a back alleyway when he's not paying attention, and moreover, he's not sure he wants them to be there when he inevitably fails at everything they do. He's always been on the wimpy side, and so basically anything he can imagine being an activity of choice, from swimming to beach volleyball to frisbee, is undoubtedly going to show Genki in an incredibly unflattering light in front of some of his closest friends… and in front of Miyachika. And so, it's with tense limbs and anxiety pumping through his veins that Genki gets off the train and follows his friends down to the beach, wincing at the feeling of the hot sand in his sandals and bracing himself for when someone notices and begins to make fun of him.
But to his surprise, it's not until Kishi loses a shoe into the sand, is thrown off his balance, and ends up tumbling face first into the ground that any laughing happens, and this time, it's not at Genki's expense. Of course, he makes sure Kishi is okay first, but Genki has to admit, it is a little funny, and even Kishi breaks down and laughs a little, too, once he dries his eyes. And it's not just Kishi; everyone laughs again when Jinguji accidentally smacks Miyachika in the face with the beach ball, and when Shori gets completely enveloped in a wave when he isn't paying attention, and when, halfway through the day, Jinguji starts turning pink rather than brown and throws a fit. And sure, they laugh at Genki, too, when he makes any of the dozens of little mistakes he makes all day every day of his life, but somehow, it doesn't feel as bad when it's not just him. And so little by little over the course of the day, he starts to ease up just a little, starts to let himself smile and relax and enjoy the day for what it is: a beach trip with friends, nothing more and nothing less.
It's surprisingly easy, actually, despite what he's always thought before, despite how he's always felt self conscious and nervous every time he's forced to do anything in front of a large group of people. Eating as a group, fooling around as a group, checking out the shops and the area as a group is actually fun when Genki isn't spending the whole time feeling like everyone's judging him for being a fuckup, and by the end of the day, he finds himself being just as boisterous as the rest of them, cracking jokes and telling stories and thinking about the here and now rather than what might go wrong, what mistakes he might make. It's an amazing feeling, like he's flying, almost, like he's above the clouds without his worries weighing him down.
It's in this light-headed state that he finds himself practically skipping back to the train station at the end of the day, amazed that already, it's getting dark when it feels as if they just arrived. But maybe his head is a little too far in the clouds, because, after almost making it through the entire day without one major failure, just as they're about to arrive at the train station, Genki catches his foot in a crack in the sidewalk and goes careening full force straight into Miyachika, his shoulder shoving hard into Miyachika's side and his head bumping with Miyachika's collarbone. In the adrenaline rush of falling, Genki barely knows what's going on, and his mind goes form hazy to blank when he feels Miyachika's hands on him, steadying him, Miyachika's voice asking if he's okay. It's the sort of scenario that's played out in Genki's head time and time again, in his daydreams and fantasies, but somehow, in real life, all he can feel is humiliation and shame, and as he snaps back to reality, to Miyachika's voice asking, "Are you okay?" he can barely manage a nod before pulling away, hanging his head in shame and trying his hardest not to cry.
Miyachika sort of looks at him funny for the entire train ride back, but Genki can't even bring himself to meet his eyes. By the time they make it home, Genki is so embarrassed and horrified with himself that he wishes that Miyachika would stop looking at him at all, forever.
"You should just tell him," Reia says one day at Dream Boys rehearsal. "Everyone knows, you now. Everyone except Miyachika."
It isn't exactly what Genki wants to hear, but then again, he's not really sure what he would want to hear, anyway, and so he blinks, trying to gather his thoughts. In the end, all he can manage is a shrug; his face is burning and he's sure he looks just as embarrassed as he feels, but he can't exactly help it. The thought of everyone knowing about his crush on someone clearly out of his league isn't exactly comforting, after all.
"He's too KY," Reia adds, as if he thinks Genki's response is due to Reia perhaps mistakenly implying Miyachika didn't return the feelings, "I really do think he likes you!" But Genki knows better, knows that no matter whether Reia thinks Miyachika is interested or not, it doesn't change the cold truth that not only would Miyachika probably never dream of dating someone as inept and unattractive as Genki, but on top of that, Genki has proved now that he's completely unworthy, and so he forces a smile and shrugs again, hoping Reia doesn't notice that he isn't buying a word of it.
But unfortunately, Reia's always been too good at reading him, and he raises an eyebrow. "You know that he doesn't think badly of you for that thing at the beach, right? He thought it was hilarious. He's told the story about a hundred times at school now about how he caught you like a champ."
Genki finds this hard to believe, but he's forced to accede the fact that Reia spends a lot more of his day with Miyachika than Genki does, being in the same class as him at school, and so he shrugs a third time, looking off to the side to avoid Reia's knowing look. "It's not a big deal," he murmurs, even though it really is, and he knows Reia can tell.
"Honestly, I think if anything, he wishes you'd talk to him more," Reia finishes, but then he seems to notice how much Genki really doesn't want to be having this conversation, and lets out a breath, his face softening into a gentle smile in Genki's peripheral vision. It's enough to lure Genki to look up, because even if perfect, nice, popular Reia will never understand what's it's like to eternally be a failure, he really does care for Genki in the end, Genki knows, and so he manages a tiny smile back.
But no matter how misguided Reia's words are, for some reason, they hang with Genki for the rest of the day. All through rehearsal, through their breaks, through dinner as a group, he can't help but glance in Miyachika's direction over and over again, wistful. Confessing his feelings is still equally as impossible as its always been, but somehow, talking about it has made the hurt and the loneliness all the more keen, and it bubbles inside of him now, distracting him from the conversation and making him even more shy and withdrawn than usual. He can tell for every time he looks at Miyachika, Reia looks at him, expectant, hopeful, and Genki knows that Reia just wants him to be happy, but he hates expectations, hates knowing that he's going to crush Reia's hopes just as he's always done with his parents' and his classmates' and his school friends'.
And so he spends the evening quietly and unobtrusively, and when they part ways, he breaks from the group early, hands in his pockets and head down, but before he can make his escape cleanly, he's startled by a hand on his shoulder and whirls around to suddenly find himself face to face with Miyachika, smiling at him, and Genki feels as if the wind has been knocked out of him despite the fact that this time, he didn't even physically fall.
"You should see the look on your face," Miyachika says with a laugh, and Genki forces a laugh too, unable to do much else when all he can feel is Miyachika's hand, warm and strong on his shoulder. There's a beat of awkward silence, and something seems to change in Miyachika's face, but Genki can't comprehend what, can't comprehend anything when Miyachika is so close, is looking just at him. It feels like time is standing still, like they're characters in a drama, and the camera is panning around them, just the two of them, together like this…
"…Good night," Miyachika says at length, and then suddenly, his hand is gone from Genki's shoulder and he's turning to go with one last lingering smile in Genki's direction, disappearing into the night.
And Genki isn't even sure what he's been thinking, what he was expecting, what he's feeling when of course Miyachika was just saying goodbye to him as a friend, of course Genki could never be good enough for anything else, of course. But somehow, despite that knowledge, as he tries to find the strength to tell his legs to move, to trudge home towards the looming promise of schoolwork and his parents' ire for staying out too late, he suddenly feels more alone than ever.