pairing: Hey! Say! BEST-centric; implied Takaki/Yabu and Hikaru/Inoo, as well as Tackey/Tsubasa in the background, but you can read it as you like.
warnings: Dealing with Taguchi's announcement on Best Artist. Read with discretion.
word count: 1,602
author's note: I'm still not really sure how I feel after last night's announcement, but I wanted some sort of conclusion for these boys, whose faces during the medley after the announcement said it all. Written for shiritori @ writetomyheart.
summary: Somehow, in the midst of all the fear and the pain, Inoo knows the only answer right now.
"Just fucking do something already!” Takaki barks, shocking Inoo out of the concentration he had on his phone. He'd gotten a rush of texts from friends and family since Taguchi-kun's announcement earlier that evening on Best Artist, but since the first part of the Johnny's Medley had come soon after, he hadn't had time to even really check, much less answer, the litany of questions and entreaties bombarding his LINE account. But they're done now, along with Johnny's WEST, whose solo performance had also been before the medley, as well, and so, as the large backstage area blocked off for the ten Johnny's groups to use swirls with activity in a nauseating mix of excitement, anxiety, and sheer sadness, Inoo tries to focus on his phone screen and center himself before facing the world around him again.
But Takaki's voice, harsh and demanding, like he's suddenly jumped back in time 8 years to the angsty teen who worshipped Akanishi that he'd been when they debuted together, startles him from his thoughts and he looks up, blinking and half expecting to see the skinny, cocky kid he'd watched star in Gokusen rather than the groupmate he's come to love and respect. "You're close with him, with all of them, so do something!!" it continues, almost as if the words are coming from a wormhole from the past, but still, Takaki is the same as he ought to have been, softer, rounder, and in his eyes, Inoo can immediately see not irrational teenage anger but hurt and confusion and pain. He has an arm around Yabu's waist now, Yabu's face tucked into the crook of his neck, but Inoo doesn't miss the way Takaki's hands tremble, nor the way, when Yabu turns to look at the target of his boyfriend's words, the glistening trails of tears on his face become visible in the harsh white lighting of the TV studio.
Inoo doesn't know what to say; he runs a hand through his hair and glances around them, but Seven seems to have disappeared into the crowd or else found someplace private for the four of them to come to terms with what's going on; for all that they'd clashed and fought and rubbed wrong as teenagers, Inoo is certain that, now that they've grown far closer than he'd ever imagined, being together in a small group is what they need to stay strong right now. But with Seven gone and Yabu and Takaki a clear mess, there isn't much else to fall back on; around them, the intimidatingly elevated (above this, really, above the level where KAT-TUN could ever really have meant something to them on a personal level) figures of Kinki Kids rehearse off to the side for their solo performance yet to come, and Arashi, more personable to Inoo but still far away all the same, try to stay warm for their appearance, which will round out the night. TOKIO hasn't even performed once yet and are all warming up along with V6; the eleven of them are all conversing quietly amongst themselves in the picture of professional decorum, something Inoo can't even imagine maintaining right now. Johnny's WEST have dispersed, the lingering members bidding their farewells as they check their phones and head for the door, perhaps to reconvene elsewhere, or else to handle their feelings alone first, and Kanjani8 is nowhere in sight, while Tsubasa-kun lies on the sofa in the back of the room, clearly in poor health, his head in Takizawa-kun's lap as Takizawa-kun strokes his hair gently and whispers what Inoo knows must be reassurances into his ear. NEWS are huddled together in a corner by the door to the filming studio, and Inoo's stomach lurches as he thinks about how it must be hard for them too, maybe harder-- it's difficult to say, when they'd all been together for all those years on The Shounen Club and Ya-Ya-Yah, NEWS and KAT-TUN and the beginnings of JUMP-- but nothing makes him feel sicker than looking around at the members of KAT-TUN, scattered around the room in silence, looking as if the world is ending-- or perhaps, has already ended, really, their little world for the four of them. Kamenashi-kun's hands are shaking as he looks over the program setlist again and again, as if somehow he can force himself not to have feelings through sheer discipline, and Ueda-kun is red in the face, certainly from the strength of will it's taking not to cry. Nakamaru-kun looks hopelessly between the two of them, as if he's unsure how or who to try to help, and then occasionally across the room to Taguchi-kun, standing alone, an island in the sea of senpai and kouhai, as if he's already gone.
Inoo looks at the senpai, the kouhai, the friends around him, his fellow members of the same agency, fighting for the same causes, struggling against the same hardships, but for all the mentors, the acquaintances, the people with whom he's shared both difficult and wonderful memories, he knows that right now, there's no one who can help him, no one who can save him, save them, save anyone. But somehow, the knowledge isn't scary-- if anything, acknowledging it allows him to stand a little straighter, a little stronger.
"W-we can't do anything-- we just need to calm down--" Daiki interjects before Inoo has a chance to really gather his thoughts, looking nervously from Takaki to Inoo, but his face is flushed and there are tears in his eyes as well.
"Well someone needs to do something!" Yabu practically shrieks, his voice cracking with the strain, and Daiki jumps, a stray tear breaking loose as he hurriedly glances around the room. Their senpai are dutifully acting as if they can't hear anything, and Inoo knows that everyone knows that tensions are running high, but Daiki looks frantic to keep everyone's voices down. "There's nothing--" he starts again, but Takaki cuts him off.
"Ino-chan has to do something," he practically snarls, his gaze shifting from Daiki back to Inoo, "You're friends with them, right?? So fix this!" But his attitude, getting more aggressive as Yabu's tears start afresh sends Hikaru into his protective mode, in turn, and he steps between Inoo and Takaki, snapping, "Shut up, he can't do anything just like you!"
"Guys--" Daiki practically wails, clearly quickly losing grips on any chance of being the calm one, but Inoo puts a hand on his shoulder, quieting him instantly. Daiki takes a step back while Inoo takes a step forward; Hikaru looks nervous but steps aside. Inoo doesn't really know what's going on inside his own head, inside his own heart, but he knows one thing-- this isn't helping anyone.
"Well?" Takaki demands, his arms instinctively tightening around Yabu's slender, trembling form as he stares Inoo down, but Inoo can see now that tears are pooling in Takaki's eyes now too, his face growing redder as he clearly tries it hold it in, perhaps in some ill-conceived attempt to be strong for Yabu's sake, or perhaps because Takaki has never particularly been good at parsing feelings.
"Yeah, I'll do something," Inoo replies with a nonchalance that startles himself, and seems to startle everyone else, as well. "Ino-chan--" Hikaru says, worry creeping into his voice, at the same time that Takaki shouts, "Don't fuck with me!!" but Inoo isn't bothered. He doesn't hesitate another moment before taking a deliberate step towards Takaki, and then another spanning the distance between them in a matter of seconds. Takaki's expression changes from anger to worry; it takes Inoo a moment to realize, when Takaki abruptly pushes Yabu away, that Takaki thinks Inoo is going to hit him.
But Inoo knows better than that; somehow, in the midst of all the fear and the pain, Inoo knows the only answer right now. Perhaps, in the future, they'll be able to talk, to sort out their feelings; perhaps someday Inoo actually will be able to speak with KAT-TUN about this. But for right now, Inoo knows without a shadow of a doubt what he has to do, and so he looks up at Takaki for a moment, unwaveringly, before drawing him into a hug.
He feels Takaki tense in his embrace for a moment before suddenly, he gives out; he feels Takaki's hands clasp the small of his back, he feels Takaki's body begin to shake as the tears finally come. He feels Yabu next, pressing into their sides and wrapping his long, thin arms around both of them, resting his head on Takaki's shoulder with fresh tears rolling down his cheeks, and then he feels Daiki, on the other side, pressing his face into Inoo's shoulder, his tears soaking through Inoo's t-shirt. And then last, he feels Hikaru, always hesitant in the face of feelings but sure enough, wrapping his arms around them all, his chest flush with Inoo's back, his face resting on the back of Inoo's shoulder, warm and comforting. He feels Takaki's embrace, strong and passionate, Yabu's embrace, wide and inclusive, Daiki's embrace, tender and compassionate, and Hikaru's embrace, strong and unrelenting, and he feels his own embrace, weak as it may be but unyielding all the same, and he feels the beating of all five of their hearts, beating in time, as if reassuring him that nothing can tear them apart.
He feels sadness, and fear, and uncertainty in equal parts with comfort and companionship and love, but most of all, he feels that somehow, in some way, in their small corner of the universe, things will be okay.