Rating/Warnings: PG for bandmates growing up.
Summary: Shoon isn't sure how it happened that they all grew up so fast.
AN: for 26 Birthday Kisses, Kiss Eight: Goodbye Kiss.
First Kiss | Good Luck Kiss | Drunk Kiss | Kiss and Make It Better | On-Screen Kiss | Morning After Kiss | True Love's Kiss | Goodbye Kiss | Good Morning Kiss | Surprise Kiss | Meltykiss | Goodnight Kiss | French Kiss | Congratulations Kiss | Sealed With a Kiss | Hello Kiss | Kiss Under the Mistletoe | I Forgive You Kiss | Birthday Kiss | Blown Kiss | Kiss on the Forehead | Kiss on the Hand | Kiss on the Cheek | I'm Sorry Kiss | New Year's Kiss | Welcome Home Kiss
Kiss Eight: Thank You Rather Than Goodbye
"It's not uncommon for younger group members to get crushes on their senpai," Koyama tells Shoon gently after they've been Ya-Ya-yah for about five minutes, and Shoon has no idea at all what he's talking about until Hikaru is standing in front of him with big eyes and a hopeful smile, asking shyly if Shoon wants to exchange mails.
"OH!" he says, suddenly understanding completely and making Hikaru hop back a step. And then, because he also understands what Koyama has been warning him about, he smiles warmly at Hikaru and says, "That's a great idea, Hikaru-kun. We should all exchange mails, shouldn't we? Let's go ask the others."
It's Taiyo next, seeking out comfort after long practices which don't in any way come natually to him, and in the end even prickly Yabu shows up to grumpily ask Shoon to check a strained wrist after older boys have been bullying him. Over time he becomes an expert at deflecting their shy advances without them getting their feelings hurt, or usually even noticing.
In time they grow up, all of them, and the gap between them shrinks so that the occasional crushes that flare up are more about spending all their time together than hero worship, and those are easier to deal with. Shoon ignores what he can and counsels taking it slow for everything else; usually after filming is done and they have a day or two off, things return to normal.
Hikaru gains confidence and a wider circle of friends, turns his romantic attentions outside the group, and Shoon is proud of him for understanding on his own what Koyama had had to explain to Shoon. Taiyo's energy is consumed with trying to keep up with the pace of the others, and he learns to keep more of his heart hidden, preferring to keep his friends close rather than risking uncertainty.
To Shoon's surprise, it's Yabu who never gives up, Yabu whose eyes say that he knows what Shoon is doing when Shoon gently brushes him off or turns him in another direction. It's Yabu he finds watching him when he glances over his shoulder during a water break, Yabu who opens doors from the other side before Shoon has even touched the handle, Yabu who sends Shoons mails on their days off as if just to remind Shoon of his presence.
They never say anything important (In Harajuku. You'd like these pants.), but they do exactly what Yabu intends them to do. Shoon doesn't usually reply unless the mail explicitly demands one, but he smiles as he tucks his phone back in his pocket.
As Yabu grows taller and more beautiful, Shoon finds Koyama's advice harder and harder to hold on to. It's one thing to turn aside the childish crush of a kid with a bowlcut who barely comes up to his armpit. It's something else to look away from the knowing stare of a seventeen-year-old whose eyes are framed by delicate layers and is filling out his jeans better Shoon ever has. But Shoon does hold on to it, because he's Ya-Ya-yah's big brother.
So Shoon can't say that he's surprised in the end, when it's Yabu standing in front of him, fists clenched and face a battlefield of excitement and frustration and hurt.
Shoon isn't Ya-Ya-yah's big brother anymore.
"I…" Yabu opens his mouth, staring to the side, jaw set, but Shoon interrupts before he can say the words.
"I know," he says, and Yabu's gaze flicks up, surprise taking over for a second before the anger rushes back, and Shoon realizes that maybe Yabu hadn't known after all.
"Why didn't you ever say anything?" Yabu demands.
Because you were too young, Shoon thinks about answering, except now you aren't. Because Koyama told me not to, except that was a long time ago. Because we all needed Ya-Ya-yah, except apparently we don't.
But he doesn't say any of those things, because fury is one of the most beautiful expressions that Yabu wears, eyes flashing and cheekbones sharp. This time Shoon takes the step forward to find out what fury tastes like on Yabu, rather than just looking.
Yabu sucks in a sharp, hitching breath when their lips touch, and Shoon thinks maybe he's been reading Yabu all wrong, but then Yabu seizes Shoon's hips with tight fingers and tilts his head to force Shoon into a better angle. Shoon lets him, lets Yabu be Leader for the last time.
It's Yabu who pulls away first, and whatever Shoon is expecting to see on his face, it isn't the look of thoughtfulness that Yabu is actually wearing. He regards Shoon with a long, even look, and Shoon looks back, trying to ignore the twist in his chest at how well Yabu has grown up.
"Thank you," Yabu finally says.
"You're welcome." Shoon smiles when Yabu slides a warm palm over Shoon's cheek, and when he leans in for another kiss, this time it's finally as an equal.
Filming sucks, the mail reads, but you'd like these pants, and Shoon laughs out loud as he tucks his phone back in his pocket, shaking his head when asked what he's laughing about.