title: Foresight, or: Five times Kusano was right, and one time he was pretty darn close
pairings: Kusano Hironori x Kato Shigeaki
warnings: As usual, not the most positive portrayal of Yamapi and Nishikido, so please read with discretion if that is offensive to you.
word count: 4,162
author's note: This was started for Shiritori @ writetomyheart, but it got much longer. I went with a nostalgic theme for the title, oops.
summary: Even though Kusano's not the brightest or the most responsible person in the world, Shige can't help but think that there's just something about him that allows him to see the world for what it is, and it makes Shige feel so, so lucky to have him in his life.
"You'll definitely debut," Kusano-kun says with a wide grin, squeezing Shige's hand tight as they wait their turn to be photographed for the junior articles of the idol magazines this month. Some of the other juniors around them had been talking about senpai and work and debut, but up until now, Shige had been perfectly content to stand with Kusano-kun and giggle over nothing, especially when Kusano-kun had, without any explanation, taken Shige's hand in his own and grinned at him in that way that makes Shige feel as if his heart is going to explode out of his chest. He isn't really sure what exactly his relationship is with Kusano-kun; he likes to think of them as friends, and he's pretty sure Kusano-kun thinks that too, but at times like these, it almost seems as if there's a little more, somehow, in a way that Shige really, really likes. Still, he doesn't understand what label to put on it and he doesn't want to over-think, and so he just links his fingers in Kusano-kun's as much as possible and basks in the fluttering feeling of closeness that it brings.
But then, perhaps when the other juniors' conversations finally penetrate Kusano-kun's sphere or awareness, or perhaps because they all have their careers as idols on their minds at least to some extent, most of the time, suddenly, Kusano-kun is looking him in the eye and saying, "You'll definitely debut," and Shige is at once stunned and confused and flattered and totally breathless at the beauty of Kusano-kun's smile and of the sparkle in his eyes. But, "E-eh?" he stutters, "No way… you definitely will debut, because you're good at singing and dancing and everything…!"
He isn't really sure what he's thinking beyond the fact that Kusano-kun is amazing and Shige knows he doesn't measure up, but for some reason, he's surprised when Kusano-kun bumps his shoulders against Shige's lightly and replies, "We're both going to debut together, and it's gonna be awesome, so don't talk like that!"
Shige doesn't know how to respond, but he can feel his face turning what must be an embarrassing shade of pink as Kusano-kun presses close against his side, and so even if he thinks that Kusano-kun's words aren't particularly likely, for now, it's nice to dream that they might come true.
"You're gonna model in magazines for sure," Kusano says out of the blue after Ya-ya-yah filming one day, watching in seeming fascination as Shige wipes the flour off his face with a wet towel. They're the only ones left in their corner of the room; Yabu and Hikaru had pushed to the front of the line for the sink as usual (though to be fair, this was their show, and Shige was lucky, really, even to be on it), and then Shige had felt it was only right to let Inoo and Matsumoto go before him, as well. And then Masuda had wandered in with Tegoshi right behind him, tagging along like a lost puppy as usual, which left Kusano and Shige as the last ones to get to wash their faces after a particularly messy filming. But Shige didn't mind; he didn't mind any chance to be alone together with Kusano, and he's in the midst of daydreaming about what they might do together after they get cleaned up when Kusano startles him in out of his thoughts.
Shige flushes at first when he realizes that Kusano is looking at him; after that day's filming, where they'd been competing to climb up a slope covered in flour and therefore mostly ended up coated in it themselves, he couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed that he was going to be on TV looking utterly ridiculous, and the thought of Kusano staring at him while he did his best to return to some sort of cleanliness and stylishness appropriate of an idol was somehow almost worse. They haven't been officially "dating" for very long, but Shige has had a crush on Kusano for so long that it feels practically like he's ready to get married tomorrow, and he doesn't ever want Kusano to see him looking anything but his best. And on top of that, once he gets past the fact that Kusano is looking at him and processes Kusano's words, he's turning even redder, because he knows he's awkward and clumsy and definitely not model material.
And so, he laughs awkwardly, combing his damp bangs with his fingers and feeling anything but stylish or cool, before replying, "What are you even talking about?" After all, Kusano is way more handsome and more talented and more popular than Shige, and while he's beyond flattered that Kusano would want to date him, he can't fathom how Kusano could look at him and see him as a model.
"I'm serious!" Kusano responds, grinning as he scoots his stool at the dressing room counter a little closer to Shige's, a little too close, enough so that Shige would be embarrassed if the others were around. But it's really just them over here, and so he giggles a little instead; he can't help it, because Kusano makes him feel giddy all the time, like the heroine of a romance manga.
"I mean… we're both in idol magazines…?" Shige offers, because that's the only way he can think of to make Kusano's comment make sense, and it's true that currently things seem good, and he hopes that they'll continue to be able to appear in Myojo and Wink Up and the others for at least a few years to come.
But, "No, no, no, not like that!" Kusano replies with such an overblown expression of exasperation that it would be comical if Shige weren't so confused. "I mean, like, real magazines! Once we debut and we're super famous, I bet you're gonna be in all sorts of women's magazines, doing, like, sexy shirtless photoshoots and stuff!"
In his usual manner, he articulates his words with flailing gestures, but Shige is too much in shock to think about how charming it is like he usually would, instead, he can feel his face growing hot, because not only can he not imagine himself doing anything of the sort, the fact that Kusano is imagining it and the implications therein is almost too much for Shige to handle.
Kusano seems to not have been expecting this reaction, because suddenly his cheeks are flushing red in turn, and he splutters for a second before seeming to give up on words, instead grabbing Shige by the shoulders and kissing him straight on the lips.
They've kissed before, but not quite like this, and while maybe the way their mouths fit together is a little unexpected and lot awkward, Shige is over the moon. It feels like his brain goes completely blank at least for the duration of the kiss and then for a while after, as well, as Kusano presses their noses together and looks into Shige's eye and just grins, as if, somehow, he's just as enchanted with Shige as Shige is with him, but when finally thoughts start to penetrate the haze of giddiness and love, he thinks, even if there's no way he's ever going to be asked to do sexy topless photoshoots in women's magazines, just knowing Kusano thinks he might makes him happier than he'd ever imagined.
"You're the only one for me," Kusano says with a certainty that makes Shige's heart feel as if it's going to swell right out of his chest, his expression uncharacteristically serious as he looks straight into Shige's eyes, unwaveringly. They're on set to film the PV for Hadashi no Cinderella Boy, and as per usual with filmings, everything around them is a bustle of activity, from the director and the technical staff to the hair and makeup and costume people and everyone in-between. Shige is excited but even more nervous than usual; after Uchi's scandal and subsequent announcement of hiatus, Nishikido-kun has been in a foul mood, and it recently seems like everything Shige does gets on his nerves, which would be easier to bear if Shige didn't honestly feel like he was in the wrong most of the time, and if he didn't so desperately want for Nishikido-kun to like him. And so particularly today, with such an important project as a PV filming in front of him, Shige feels anxious and determined to succeed, determined to show Nishikido-kun and everyone that he isn't holding the group back.
But for the time being, the staff are getting set up and nothing has started for the group yet, and so Shige had found a little corner off to the side of the set to try to sit and get his thoughts together. Kusano had been off with Yamashita-kun and Nishikido-kun earlier laughing and making jokes in the dressing room-- and Shige finds it hard to fathom, even still, that someone cool enough as to be accepted by Nishikido-kun and Yamashita-kun would ever want to be boyfriends with him-- but about ten minutes earlier, he'd emerged and immediately sought out Shige, grinning as he sat down beside him. Don't be so nervous! and You're gonna be great, Kusano is always saying to him, so much so that Shige is worried sometimes that eventually Kusano will get sick of the fact that Shige never changes and dump him, because no matter how wonderful and good-hearted Kusano is, it must be easy to get tired of him, Shige thinks, and his unending awkwardness and lack of much to give to the group in comparison to people like Yamashita-kun and Nishikido-kun and Kusano himself.
And so despite the fact that it's probably against his better judgement, after a few minutes of Kusano's unyielding support and cheerfulness, Shige finds himself blurting, "Don't you get sick of the fact that you always have to say these things to me and I don't get any better?" Kusano's eyes widen in response and Shige immediately regrets his words; he's so, so lucky to have Kusano in his life in the first place; what is he thinking being so unappreciative of Kusano's efforts to support him? And so, "I'm sorry--" he fumbles soon after, panic creeping into his voice as Kusano's brow furrows into an unreadable expression, and he's already starting to brace himself for whatever horrible consequences he's carelessly brought upon himself when suddenly, Kusano is pulling Shige into a tight hug that both knocks the breath out of him and squashes all his worries instantly.
"You're the only one for me," Kusano proclaims after a few minutes held in the tight embrace, pulling back to look directly into Shige's eyes with an earnestness even above and beyond his usual upfront and honest behavior. "We're going to be together forever, so don't doubt it!" he adds after a moment, not as a promise, not as a request, but as if he's assuring Shige of something he knows, for a fact, to be true.
Shige desperately wants to say something in response, but when he opens his mouth, his throat feels tight and tears burn at his eyes and he has a sinking feeling that before he even manages to get any words out, tears are going to come. But thankfully, he's saved by Kusano's arms wrapping tight around him again and pulling him close, and so Shige just presses his face into Kusano's shoulder and hopes that Kusano understands that it means I want to be together forever, too.
"I seriously like you a lot," Kusano mumbles at length into Shige's shoulder, and while it's so quiet that Shige can barely hear him, the words practically make his tears start afresh. It's stupid and over-emotional, he knows, and maybe it's because he needs to get more sleep, or maybe it's because all the nerves and stress are getting to him, but there's something about the way Kusano says it, as if his feelings are so strong that even he, the most straightforward person Shige knows, doesn't know how to express them makes Shige feel like the luckiest person alive. "You really are the only one for me," he adds, a little bit louder, a little bit stronger, and then the tears are breaking free and Shige has to hide his face in Kusano's shoulder for fear that one of the others will see him crying.
Because it's pretty much impossible to believe that someone as insignificant and useless as him could be the one Kusano has chosen out of all of the talented and amazing young men in Johnny's, but in the tightness and warmth of Kusano's embrace now, and two years later, in the tightness and warmth of his embrace in his little New York apartment, having finally reconciled after it seemed like they'd never be together again, Shige can't help but think that maybe Kusano might know what he's talking about.
"You'll be fine," Kusano says again, brushing the tears from Shige's eyes with his thumbs as Shige shudders into him, his strength finally giving out after everything that has happened that day. He'd told himself a thousand and a half times that he'd be strong, that he'd hold himself together, that he'd do as the management said and not disclose the contents of the meeting that they'd just had, the meeting where Yamashita-kun and Nishikido-kun had turned their backs on NEWS forever, but as always, in the end, he's failing. Because once they were done and standing in the hallway, awash in a sea of uncertainties as they awaited being told they were free to leave, Koyama had put an arm around Shige's shoulder and held him steady for a moment and told him it was going to be okay before leaning a little closer and mumbling just low enough that the management wouldn't be able to hear what was certainly frowned-upon advice, I think Kusano would want to be with you right now.
And so despite his best attempts to be strong and stand on his own, Shige had given in and texted Kusano something's happened… can you come?, and Kusano had met Shige at his apartment faster than Shige thought should really have been feasible for someone who lived across town, and now here they were in Shige's bedroom, and despite the fact that Shige had meant to tell Kusano very seriously what had happened, and remind him that it was a secret within the agency and Shige could lose his job if Kusano let it get out, and assure him that things would be fine and NEWS would be fine and Shige would be fine, he'd opened his mouth and what had come out instead was, They've abandoned us. And then the tears had come, too, and then Shige could feel himself crumbling in yet another embarrassing display of how weak and useless he was, and he really is a mess, he thinks, just like Nishikido-kun was always telling him, just like Yamashita-kun and Nishikido-kun had said near the end…
But, "You'll be fine," Kusano says as he wipes away the tears spilling over Shige's cheeks, and, "You'll be fine," Kusano says as he wraps his arms and Shige and pulls him close, cradling Shige's head against his shoulder and stroking his hair, and, "You'll be fine," Kusano says as he lets Shige cry into his shirt as if it's totally normal and not weak and humiliating. And even once Shige's tears slow, he rubs Shige's back, and then tucks him into bed as if he's sick and not just an emotional wreck, and makes him instant ramen and microwave gyoza which he insists on feeding to him even though, in the long run, that probably makes more of a mess than if Shige had just tried to eat it himself. But on the bright side, it makes Shige laugh, which quells the remaining tears, and allows him to calm down enough that he can finish his dinner without making himself sick to his stomach, and he can't help but think that, despite the fact that Kusano may not be the brightest bulb in the box and he certainly isn't a master of making good life decisions, somehow, it's almost as if he has a magical power to pull Shige up again even when he's at his lowest.
Still, after another hour, once Kusano has cleaned up the mess from the food and crawled into Shige's bed alongside him, pressing up against him, as if he can soothe out all of Shige's worries through sheer closeness alone, the fears and the anxiety begin to creep back, clutching at his heart and ringing in his ears, You're not good enough, you're the reason they left, you're holding the group back, and before he can stop himself, "What if it's not fine…?" is slipping out of his lips, quietly and muffled into Kusano's shoulder, but there in the open all the same.
Kusano pulls back just enough to make eye contact, and for a moment, the unusual solemness of his gaze makes Shige worry that he's said something wrong and now Kusano will be angry with him. But instead, all of a sudden, Kusano is kissing him, not particularly gracefully despite how long they've been together, but insistently and firmly, and somehow, it's more reassuring than Shige can even explain. And when he pulls away, he he runs a hand through Shige's hair and then gently across his cheek in that way that always makes Shige go weak in the knees and says, "You'll definitely be fine, because no matter what anyone else says, you're the hardest working and most enduring person that I know."
Shige doesn't know how to respond, and so he nods a little before resting his head against Kusano's shoulder again, but even though he can't really see any truth in Kusano's words, he thinks, if Kusano believes them, then maybe, for now, that's enough.
"You'll be amazing," Kusano says quietly into the back of Shige's shoulder just before dawn on the eve of the start of NEWS's comeback concert tour. Shige is sleepless; though he knows he needs to be well rested for the start of what is going to be a difficult period, the pressure of telling himself he needs to get to sleep has never helped him actually be able to fall asleep, and so he'd resigned himself to lay quietly in bed and get as much rest as possible with his head full of worries and his heart full of anxiety. At the very least, Kusano had insisted on being there-- Kusano has a way about him that always helps Shige calm down at least a little, but now that it's three in the morning, Shige knows he can't exactly keep Kusano up all night just to soothe his own insecurities. Still the sound of Kusano's even breathing and the warmth of his body in Shige's bed are still a comfort, and so Shige tries to focus on that as he lies in the dark, trying to find some sort of reprieve, even momentarily, from the worries and the doubts.
But it's hard, at this point, it's hard to believe in anything, after his failure had chased Yamashita-kun and Nishikido-kun away (not entirely true, the logical part of him knows, but in his heart of hearts he accepts it as fact, anyway), after his inability to do anything useful, the way Tego and Massu could sing and Kei could do the news, had held the group back, and so he lays there with his eyes closed, feeling as if his anxieties and insecurities are eating him from the inside until suddenly, he feels strong arms wrapping around his body from behind and a warm body pressing up against his own and a pair of lips brushing against the back of his shoulder in a way that somehow, despite everything, makes him feel a little bit less tense.
Still, it's three in the morning, he thinks, he has no business keeping Kusano awake, and so, "Sorry, did I wake you?" he asks quietly, trying to squirm away a little so that he isn't a bother.
But Kusano only holds onto him tighter, and "You'll be amazing," he asserts, ignoring Shige's question and adding, "So don't worry… because you're going to be seriously amazing."
"I… I can't help it," Shige replies with a laugh, trying to play off the whole thing and hide the fact that he's embarrassingly on the brink of tears, but he knows he's never been any good at hiding his real feelings from Kusano, who he sometimes thinks has a sixth sense or something, "And I'm probably going to mess up and make a fool of myself…"
But Kusano only shakes his head, pressing closer to Shige's back as he insists, "You're going to be amazing, and even if you can't believe it right now… You have to believe that I do,"
And as the tears break free, Shige can't help but think that even if he can't believe it, knowing Kusano does is enough to give him the courage to face whatever is to come.
"You're going to get married to someone ten years older than you, have five kids, and move to the south of France where you'll work as a farmer and live happily ever after," Hiro says with a perplexed expression from behind the cover of some strange American magazine, killing time in Shige's apartment before Shige has to head out in an hour or so for a filming. Now that NEWS is doing more and more activities and Hiro's music activities are going along at their own steady pace, it's harder and harder to make their schedules work out, so Shige is thankful for the times like these, insignificant as they may seem, and Hiro's silliness is really the perfect remedy for the stress of a packed work week.
Still, Shige raises an eyebrow at Hiro's words. "You figured that all out from the fact that I was born in July?" he asks with overblown incredulity, squinting at the magazine that Hiro seems to have gotten from one of his American friends; the title, written in an eye-catching pink font, is unfamiliar and the cover has a photo of one of the former members of One Direction. "Isn't that a magazine for teenage girls, anyway?"
"It's a horoscope! All it needs is your birthday," Hiro says vaguely with a wave of his hand, staring intently at the page in front of him and ignoring Shige's second question. "Wait, which one is the crab one again? Shit. I used to know this!"
"Does it matter?" Shige replies with a laugh. "Unless any of them say, 'you're going be hopelessly smitten with a gross hipster who never shaves and whose existence pisses off your manager,' I doubt any of them are going to be all that accurate about my love life."
It seems to take Hiro a minute or so to process this before he sets the magazine aside, looking up at Shige with an indignant pout. "I'm not gross!" he argues, "I'm an artist!" but when Shige can't help but laugh at that, Hiro cracks into a grin as well, flopping back onto the couch where he sits across from Shige. They're comfortably silent for a while, looking warmly at one another in the morning light that streams in around the curtains into Shige's living room, and Shige can't help but think that, even after all these years, Hiro's face is the same as it always has been, beautiful and playful and earnest and open, and even though he's not the brightest or the most responsible person in the world, Shige can't help but think that there's just something about him that allows him to see the world for what it is, and it makes Shige feel so, so lucky to have him in his life.
But then he's brought out of his thoughts when Hiro sits up again, grinning as he suddenly moves to flop against Shige's body instead, snuggling up to him like a large cat with an expression of pure joy that gets Shige right in the heart as he automatically brings his arms up to wrap them around Hiro's form.
"Well, I got one thing right, didn't I?" Hiro asks, looking up at Shige through half-lidded eyes and a self-satisfied grin.
"And what's that?" Shige asks with a hum, titling his head slightly into Hiro's palm when he lifts a hand idly to brush a few stray hairs out of Shige's face.
"You are going to live happily ever after," Hiro says with a smile so brilliant that it outshines even the morning sun, and as Shige leans down to kiss him, his heart so full that he's sure he's going to cry at any moment, he wonders how it is that Hiro is pretty much always right.