pairing: Yuto-Chinen friendship-centric
word count: 2,893
author's note: This is my first Night Style People installment of idolverse; it's in the same AU as もっとみてよ、みつめてよ and its sequels. While it's not directly linked to the storyline in those fics, think it might be a bit hard to understand on its own. Written for shiritori @ writetomyheart!
summary: Yuto's Dai-chan collection grows as his concern for everything else around him dwindles, and Chinen tries not to worry about his mental health. In which Yabu, Chinen, and Yuto are unconventional hosts, and Yuto falls in love with an idol.
Even from across the room, he can see the delirious gleam in his partner’s eyes, a look that Chinen knows, from Yuto, means trouble. It's the beginning of the evening and he and Kota have been setting up for over an hour now, organizing the bar and putting tablecloths and candles on the tables and queuing up the music, but Yuto had told them that morning (or really, that afternoon; after working until two or three am, all three of them rarely wake up before noon) that he needed to run a few errands on the opposite side of Tokyo that day, and would probably be a bit late. Chinen hadn't really thought it would be a problem; seeing as it was Thursday and they opened late on Thursdays (there was really no point in being open earlier than 8 or 9 pm on weekdays, anyway), but he also hadn't expected 'a bit late' to mean 'ten minutes before opening time.' That fact, combined with the manic expression on his face and the large plastic bag with a cutesy logo in his hand leads Chinen to believe that perhaps errands weren't the only thing he was doing on the other side of town.
Kota, blissfully unobservant as he is, looks like he's about to chastise Yuto for being late; while opening an idol-themed novelty bar (some mix between a butler cafe and a host club, it was ingenious, really) near Otome Road in Ikebukuro aimed at female anime and idol fans had been Chinen and Yuto's brainchild, Kota was their senpai (or at least, he had been in high school), and sometimes he forgot that he wasn't their big brother, as well. However, Yuto has never really taken being told what to do well, and Chinen opens his mouth to cut in first when Yuto stops them both by dropping everything he's holding, looking from Chinen to Kota to Chinen again, clasping his hands together against his chest and practically shouting, "I'm in love!!"
Kota's jaw drops, his eyes practically bulging out of his head as Yuto twirls around before throwing himself to the ground as well, staring up at the ceiling as if he's just won a drinking contest, and Chinen thinks, with a glance at the clock that tells him it's only a half hour to opening time, it's going to be a long night.
Yuto has been Chinen's best friend for practically as long as he can remember. They'd met in junior high school, when Chinen's family had moved to Tokyo from Shizuoka. Yuto had been the most popular kid in school; tall, athletic, wealthy, and (for a twelve year old) good looking, he had a clique of friends and a gaggle of admirers that followed him over from their private school's elementary school, and he clearly expected everyone, students and teachers alike, to worship him. Which most of them did… but Chinen, conversely tiny, cute, and equal parts childlike and precocious, had never really been the worshipping sort. Yuto had been frustrated at first, but quickly realized Chinen was a better ally than enemy (since Chinen didn't really do enemies, either, and had an infinite ability to completely ignore Yuto's baiting), and after that, they'd become fast friends. Chinen liked to think that his reserved genius complimented Yuto's wildness and energy well, and they'd even dated once, for about three months in tenth grade, before deciding they worked better as friends. In high school, they'd started a new club together (the 'musical performance' club, because their teachers wouldn't sign off on an 'idol' club despite their best pitching efforts), they'd planned their class' culture festival projects together, they'd even run for student council together once, and by now, more than seven years after they'd first met, Chinen likes to think he knows Yuto better than pretty much anyone. After all, it was their joint idea to open their bar, Night Style People, after graduating, and everything about the operation, from the decorations to the costumes they wore to the names of the overpriced drinks that came along with various "fan services," had been dreamed up between the two of them. Yuto is his best friend in the whole world… and so Chinen is understandably baffled when Yuto suddenly starts acting in a way Chinen could never have predicted.
"Look!" Yuto says insistently, waving his phone in front of Chinen's face the next morning after that fateful evening when Yuto had come in late declaring he was in love. "Isn't he cute?? Isn't he perfect?? Isn't he pure??"
Pure? Chinen thinks incredulously as he squints at the large-eyed, baby-faced idol boy in a sparkly costume on Yuto's phone screen, but he nods obligingly. "So… how did you end up falling in love with an idol, again?" he asks after a moment's pause, because no matter how many times Yuto has already explained, even a genius like Chinen is having trouble wrapping his mind around the situation.
"Well," Yuto starts, falling back onto his back on Chinen's bed and staring at the ceiling with stars in his eyes, "I went to Akihabara to buy a new external hard drive, but then at the train station I got a flier for this idol group called Aioi-tai… and I figured I'd check it out… and then I saw the love of my life!!"
"…This… 'Dai-chan'…?" Chinen asks, flicking through to the next photo on Yuto's phone and raising his eyebrows at the image that appears, the same boy as in the previous photo, this time wearing a fluffy sweatshirt, cuddling a teddy bear. He's no expert in idols, but the production quality of the photos, which Yuto has apparently downloaded from the group's fanclub site, looks low enough that Chinen has to imagine it's a pretty small operation. He doesn't want to think about how exploitative it probably is, but Yuto's response draws him away from the train of thought, anyway.
"Yes~~~ Dai-chan~~~ He's so perfect~~~" he sighs, putting his palms to his cheeks and smiling up at nothing. "He's so small, and so cute, and I love him, and I joined his fanclub, and I'm going to go to his show next Monday when we have our day off, and I bought all his goods, and… and… Dai-chan~~~"
His gushing is totally bizarre to Chinen, who isn't used to Yuto worshipping anyone more than himself, but, he thinks, Yuto often develops short-lived obsessions. Still, as he watches Yuto take back his phone, gazing lovingly at the screen, he can't help but worry that this is something different altogether.
"I don't get it," Kota admits to Chinen two weeks, several Aioi-tai shows, and about one hundred rants about Dai-chan's perfection later. "Does he realize he's not really in love? He doesn't even know Dai-chan."
"I… really can't tell you," Chinen replies with a sigh, slouching at their little kitchen table and fiddling with his phone as Kota puts the finishing touches on dinner. Kota might be a little slow on the uptake, but he's willing to cook much more often than Yuto (rarely) or Chinen (never), and that alone is enough to make Chinen extremely grateful.
"His room is creepy now," Kota observes, nodding down the hall to what they both know now lies beyond Yuto's door; his walls are now plastered with ten or so posters of his idol, staring from every angle.
"Yeah, I… really don't get it," Chinen agrees; he doesn't like to be judgmental, but when Yuto's obsession hadn't worn off over the course of the last two weeks, he'd been left sort of at a loss. "To each their own, though… right?"
Kota looks at him skeptically, and though he says nothing, Chinen has a feeling that he's thinking that Yuto is crazy… and Chinen can't exactly blame him.
Things go on in this manner indefinitely. Weeks, then months pass and Yuto's obsession does not fade; the posters of Dai-chan on his walls only increase in number; the amount of time he spends a day watching fanclub videos and sighing over new photo releases on his phone at least doubles. Chinen isn't sure what to make of it anymore, doesn't know how to respond to Yuto's demands to watch fanclub videos together or his insistence that one day he's going to marry Dai-chan. In the past two months, Chinen has gone from knowing almost nothing about Akihabara idol culture to more than he cares to admit about the shows, this particular group, and this poor idol boy who probably has no idea what's being said about him, and while he knows that Yuto is one to dive head first into new and shiny hobbies that he falls in love with in one fell swoop, there's something about the obsessive worship he seems to give this new passion that sits wrong with Chinen. He'd heard a lot about Yuto's passion for horseback riding in junior high school, and he'd gone to a lot of performances and to see Yuto tap dance in high school, but he'd never felt quite so bombarded by Yuto's fixation day in and day out. He can recite facts about Dai-chan that he doesn't even know about some of his friends (his full name is Arioka Daiki, he's one hundred and sixty four centimeters tall, he weighs sixty four kilograms, his favourite food is omuraisu, and supposedly, he's twenty-two years old, though Chinen has a really hard time believing he's any older than 15), and it doesn't seem like there's any end in sight.
It's not really any of his business, he tries to tell himself, what Yuto's hobbies are, because Yuto's life is his own, and Chinen isn't his keeper, or his parent, or even his boyfriend. Yuto's interest in casual sex hasn't declined, at the very least, which is at least comforting in the fact that Yuto hasn't completely replaced reality with his fantasy world, but even still, he has to wonder how long even that is going to last. Yuto spends most of his time at work gazing at his phone lovingly when not directly interacting with customers, and he seems to have lost his competitive drive. Just months ago, they'd had a running contest between the three of them to see who got the most tips in one night, but Yuto seems to no longer care, sighing contentedly at his videos of Dai-chan while Chinen and Kota's attempts at gloating and boasting their respective victories make no difference. Nothing seems to be able to penetrate his bubble of Dai-chan love, and while Chinen knows Yuto's choices are his own, it still worries him, nonetheless.
But there's nothing he can do, really, and so Yuto's Dai-chan collection grows as his concern for everything else around him dwindles, and Chinen tries not to worry about his mental health, but after months on end of Yuto seemingly caring about nothing else… it's a little hard not to.
By the time November rolls around, Chinen is beginning to adjust. Well, adjust might be a strong word, but he's at least come to expect Yuto to go MIA for hours on end for Aioi-tai events, and to rave for days about fanclub videos, and to say "Dai-chan" almost every third word in every sentence every single day. It's sort of hard to accept that his best friend has become so distant in the past half-year, but, Chinen supposes, that's life, and he knows that it's not out of ill will towards him. Yuto is his own person, and as weird as it is, it would be hypocritical of Chinen to criticize him for pursuing his interests without regard to how they're viewed by society. And so, despite the loneliness left behind whenever Yuto is out watching Dai-chan rather than hanging out with Chinen, Chinen knows he has to move on.
But that doesn't make it any easier to swallow when, as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter and November draws to its close, Yuto announces that he's managed to land tickets to an Aioi-tai event on the 30th. "Don't worry," he insists to Chinen's raised eyebrows, "I'm not going to miss work. It's during the afternoon."
Chinen knows Yuto is responsible for his own work schedule, and while he isn't one to take things personally, his response pretty much accomplishes the opposite of convincing Chinen he's remembering what he's supposed to. Of course Yuto isn't obligated to remember Chinen's birthday, but as Chinen's best friend, Chinen pretty much expected him to at least try. They've always done something together during their free time on the other's birthday, even if it was just lunch or coffee, and the fact that Yuto seems to have completely forgotten Chinen's birthday altogether at the chance to see Dai-chan leaves a sour aftertaste. He says nothing and walks away; it isn't a topic he wants to argue even on the best of days, and this is certainly not a good day.
He really isn't the type to be bitter, but he's exasperated to say the least. Chinen really isn't a partier or a social butterfly; he likes people just fine, but he prefers to keep a small, close group of friends who he feels totally comfortable around rather than a large and exhausting one, and Yuto has been the center of that small group for almost as long as he can remember. He and Yuto have seen one another through good times and bad times, and while sometimes, Chinen rolls his eyes at Yuto's explosive hyperactivity and his tendency to hyperbolize, he loves and trusts Yuto with all his heart.
And so it feels-- rightfully, he thinks, like a slap in the face when Yuto is so excited about his idol that he forgets Chinen's birthday entirely. He wants to complain to Kota, but he knows that will just get Kota annoyed at Yuto, too, and he knows that it won't solve anything to have them all grumpy at one another, nor will it change Yuto's behaviour if he thinks he's being ganged up on. It's not Chinen's place to force Yuto to change, and what's more, he doesn't think he could make Yuto change even if he tried, and so he glumly tries to accept that this is how it's going to be from now on and dreads his birthday.
The weeks leading up to it feel like molasses, but finally, the night of the 29th rolls around. Chinen kicks Yuto and Kota out of the bathroom and takes an extra long bath-- he thinks he deserves it, after the kind of week he's had-- before going to bed early and wishing he could just sleep for 24 hours straight. He's expecting to be woken up miserably by his alarm clock… so he's understandably surprised when instead, he's woken up by a loud voice screaming, "Happy Birthday!!!" into his face from an alarmingly close range.
"Yutii?!" Chinen moans, trying to find the willpower to open his eyes when all he wants to do is go back to sleep and will away this odd dream.
"Get up! Get up! Get up!" Yuto's voice responds from what must be Chinen's subconscious, because Yuto wasn't going to be around today… but yet, the voice sounds extremely realistic to Chinen in his half-awake state, and when he opens his eyes, sure enough, there is Yuto, plain as day.
"What are you doing here?" Chinen groans, squinting at Yuto in the morning light coming in through the windows, whose curtains Yuto seems to have opened on his way into Chinen's room. "What happened to Dai-chan?"
"Surprise!!" Yuto yells far too loudly for how close he is to Chinen's face. "Are you surprised??"
"I'm confused," Chinen replies, scrunching his nose and wincing at Yuto's voice reverberating in his ears. "Can you turn it down a notch?"
"I tricked you! I'm the best!!!" Yuto continues, not lowering the volume even a little. He grins smugly, striking a pose in that endearingly ridiculous way that he does, before explaining, "I only told you I was going to see Dai-chan so that you'd be surprised by your surprise best friend birthday party of awesome!!"
Despite the distinctively un-catchy name Yuto has given his venture, Chinen can't help but grin too, incredulous but pleased all the same. Yuto has never been good with surprises, ever; he's too self-satisfied to act natural when he thinks he's come up with something good. But somehow, Chinen had let his dismay over the Dai-chan situation get the best of him… he must have, because here they are, and he has no idea what to say.
"If you don't get out of the way, I can't get up," he finally decides on, shoving Yuto in the shoulder teasingly and sitting up in bed. Yuto takes a step back, but continues to look at him expectantly, like a puppy, or, more precisely, like the puppy-like best friend Chinen thought he'd lost, and Chinen doesn't bother trying to fight back the smile spreading across his features.
"Thanks, Yutii," he says sincerely, his smile growing as Yuto glows back at him in turn, and as he shoos Yuto out of the room so that he can get dressed, he muses that maybe Yuto isn't the one who needs to pay more attention to his friends, after all.