word count: 1,759
author's note: Fuma has changed a lot over the years, and I wanted to capture that here. Written for shiritori @ writetomyheart, inspired by the lovely yararanger~
summary: When he's around Hokuto, somehow, Fuma can let everything fall away, can feel the most like himself, whatever that means.
All three of them, Fuma knew, he and Nakajima and Kouchi, they'd all suffered in the wake of their little group being broken to pieces, in their own ways and in their own time. At the time, he'd thought he had the worst of it; wallowing in tears and misery, unable to find the will to eat or sleep, much less work with the new group of children who'd forcibly taken the place of the people he wanted to be around, he looked at Nakajima and Kouchi working their hardest at their respective dramas and recordings and rehearsals and thought that there was no way they'd been in as much pain as he was. But as time began to heal the wounds from which, in melodramatic self-pity, Fuma had never thought he'd recover from, as his appetite (and with it, his weight) and his ability to sleep began to return to him alongside his growing appreciation for the three little ones who were, if not by choice, Fuma's own to love and protect now, he began to realize that maybe, outer appearances were deceiving. Maybe, Nakajima's strutting and posturing were an attempt to cover up some sort of fear or insecurity, maybe Kouchi's strength when Fuma cried to him over the phone or curled up in the corner of Kouchi's bed was built only in the absence of anyone else to hold him up. They all suffered in their own ways, in their own little corners of the world, Fuma realized, and once he was well enough again to smile and laugh (even if it's always been a little harder to take anything seriously since then, for fear of it being all torn away again), he tried to pay back every little bit of support they'd been for him when he'd been too torn up to see that they were needing someone, too.
And so Fuma knew all three of them had suffered, to be sure, but no one, he thought, had suffered like Hokuto. Unlike Nakajima and Kouchi who were so extroverted, so good at making friends and earning love and admiration from those around them, albeit in drastically different ways, and unlike Fuma himself, who'd been lucky enough to have the support and care of the people around him, when everything had been taken away, Hokuto had been so outstandingly alone. In a fit of fear and anger and confusion, he'd pushed Fuma away when he'd first heard that B.I.Shadow was being destroyed in order for Fuma to debut, and while it hurt at the time, while it tore Fuma to pieces to know that he'd hurt Hokuto so badly without even wanting to, he understood. After all, Hokuto's never been good at understanding his feelings or how to express them, Hokuto's never been good at building relationships with other people. Quiet and introverted, Hokuto has always had too big of a heart to really properly show through words, and while Fuma had known it when they were kids, had seen Hokuto struggling to make friends with others (because not everyone could click the way they had from day one, the day they'd fallen in love at first sight), he'd thought he'd always be there for Hokuto to help, to translate, to hold his hand when he got worried or embarrassed. But when they'd been torn apart, when Hokuto had been lost and confused and emotionally vulnerable, he'd had no one, unable to open himself to anyone, and that, Fuma knew, had to be the worst way to suffer.
But now Hokuto doesn't have to be alone anymore, now everything's better, and Fuma will be there for him, always, no matter what. It's harder now that they're in different groups to be together as much of the time, but, Fuma thinks, the fact that they manage to see one another as much as they do just proves their devotion to one another, their dedication to never letting the other feel alone again after what had happened in 2012. He can tell that Hokuto is just as devoted to him, to making sure that Fuma always has someone there for him, now, too, and it's good to be together this way again, to fit together in every way, their shoulders bumping just right as they walk down the street or their fingers fitting into place just right as they hold hands backstage before Shounen Club or their mouths pressing together just right in a brief kiss stolen between photoshoots at the Myojo studios. They've always been able to understand one another better than anyone else in the world; somehow, Fuma always knows just what Hokuto's trying to get across through each awkward laugh or hesitant touch or nervous flick of the eyes, and even now that Fuma jokes and trolls more often than he's serious, Hokuto can still see through him, still knows when Fuma's hurting and needs someone to come up and quietly put an arm around his shoulders, or when he's happier than he wants to let on and is just in the mood for a celebratory kiss. It's amazing, really, not only to have someone like Hokuto in his life but to somehow have managed to win him back, to fix things and mend what was broken after everything had been torn apart, and Fuma is filled with an overwhelming sense of luckiness, of gratefulness every time Hokuto meets his eyes or smiles at him or brushes against him in the hallway as they both rush around to get their photos done and fill out questionnaires and be interviewed and finish everything that's necessary but still aggravatingly keeping them separate on any given magazine day.
But magazine days are glorious in that, at least, they're usually in the same building at the same time, and if they're lucky, their schedules will overlap with enough time to catch a break together. Fuma's having a harder and harder time managing his school stress these days, and so seeing Hokuto is practically a necessity, when around anyone else, Fuma has to constantly keep up his defenses, keep up the cutting humour that keeps Nakajima in check and the intense sense of protectiveness necessary whenever he's around Shori and Sou and the merciless teasing that's somehow become his last resort when he doesn't know what to do with Marius's spoiled brattiness anymore. He's long changed his priorities and set his goals on Sexy Zone, now, but that doesn't make every day any less of a struggle, when the majority of his groupmates are hovering at the crux of puberty and Nakajima certainly doesn't have the maturity to make things any better. Being around kids seems to revert him and Nakajima both to a less responsible state of being, but conversely, when he's around Hokuto, somehow, Fuma can let everything fall away, can feel the most like himself, whatever that means.
And so, as he sits in the dressing room of the Winkup studios and stares blankly at yet another stupid survey about love, Fuma can't help but look up with a hopeful smile on his face as he hears the door open. Hokuto'd texted a few minutes earlier to say that he was almost done with his photos, and sure enough, a moment later, he peeks into the room before breaking into a relieved smile when he sees that only Fuma is present. "Hey," he greets quietly, closing the door behind him before moving across the room to where Fuma has stood up now, catching Hokuto by the arm before he can sit and pulling him into a tight hug. They don't hug like this when others can see them, not anymore, not when, as coworkers rather than groupmates, they have to be more aware of what goes on between them, of what others can see, but when no one's watching, it's like they're fourteen again, almost.
"Thanks for coming," Fuma breathes into Hokuto's hair, his arms tight around Hokuto's shoulders. They're bigger, broader than when they were kids, but this feels the same, somehow, despite everything that's changed.
Hokuto shakes his head. "I always want to come," he replies simply, palms warm and steady flat against Fuma's shoulder blades as he holds Fuma close. Fuma's a little taller than him now, but it doesn't really matter; they still fit together in a way that they'll never fit with anyone else, no matter their size, no matter their height.
"That's what she said," Fuma cracks quietly with a bit of a snicker-- he can't help himself always, can't bite it back now that joking about everything has become second nature, his most successful defense mechanism over the past three years, but with Hokuto, he tries to swallow it back, and especially with time, some of it begins to fade away on its own. After all, around Hokuto, he doesn't need any sort of defense; around Hokuto, all the bad things that have built up over the past two and a half years all fall away.
Hokuto smiles a little; Fuma can feel his breath hitch against his ear, but he doesn't say anything, only pulls Fuma a little closer, and it feels as if all of the tension from school and work and his groupmates eases out of Fuma's body in that one movement. He breathes in the scent of Hokuto's shampoo and soap, and it feels as if, with the air filling his lungs, a warm, tingling sense fills up his heart, too.
"…thank you," he breathes after a moment, but what he really means is I love you. It's not as easy to say now as it was when they were kids, when they didn't know the hurt and the weight that could come along with those words, but he knows Hokuto knows what he means. One day, he'll find the strength to say what he really feels again, one day in the future when they've grown even closer together than they are now, but for now, Fuma doesn't feel the need to push. Neither of them is going to have to suffer alone ever again, and for now, Fuma is more than happy to stay this way, a little silly as it is, fitting together like they were made to be that way, because if they made it through being torn apart, if they made it through the pain and the depression, if they made it through being ripped up and broken to pieces and put back together again, then, Fuma thinks, maybe they were.