Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for rats being alcoholics.
Summary: Yamapi has some new pets. The rest of the band is suspicious but easily won over by fuzzy bellies.
AN: So, it's the AU where Tego and Massu are Yamapi's rats. inspired by the fact that tego and massu are totally identical, you freaks.
Man's Best Friend
It was only a matter of time before it happened, really. It wasn't Yamapi's fault that the pet store was right next door to the movie theater, that Ryo's perpetual tardiness meant they always had time to kill, and that Jin was such a sucker for watching puppies and kittens rolling around in furry little heaps.
Not that there was anything wrong with puppies and kittens, but today Yamapi had wandered off on his own a bit, leaving Jin poking his fingers through the bars at a stripey tabby who was eyeing the wiggling pink thing with open malice.
First he examined the birds, laughing at the parakeets hopping all over each other and smiling at the lovebirds grooming each other. When the huge, white cockatiel took one look at his hair before puffing up his own crest and squawking in direct challenge, Yamapi decided it was time to move on.
There were bright red beta fish with swooshy fins in tiny bowls (Yamapi thought briefly about getting seven of them and naming them after Kis-My-Ft2 members), and bulgy-eyed chameleons (he discarded a half-made joke about Kawai before it fully surfaced), and finally ended up in the small rodent section.
It was in between the gigantic pile of sleepy hamsters and the guinea pigs with the Shige mohawks that he spotted them. "Fancy Rats, large" the sign said, and Yamapi pressed his nose up against the glass to see what exactly qualified a rat as "fancy."
They were just regular old rats, so far as he could tell, but they were pretty cute, Yamapi thought. There were half a dozen of them, poking their noses around their cage curiously, using their delicate paws to scratch their sides, giving yawns so wide that Yamapi laughed at their cute pink tongues. They were the hooded kind, but instead of the usual black fur, these were a soft gray, the color of Jin's rainy day sweater that was three sizes too big but really warm.
His attention was drawn in particular to two in the corner. One of the rats had a huge food block in his hands and was trying to eat in peace, but another rat had his paws buried in the first rat's fur and was grooming him mercilessly, practically knocking him over. Finally the first rat had had enough, and dropped the food to shove the rat over onto his back, and started grooming him back, right in the middle of his furry belly. The second rat, rather than trying to squirm away, seemed more than happy to lie back and let the first rat go to town, eyes closing to little slits of contentment.
"Is there something I can help you with?" a salesgirl said suddenly, startling Yamapi with her appearance right beside him.
Yamapi didn't hesitate before poking a finger against the glass. "Those two."
When he found Jin, exactly where he'd left him beside the kittens, Jin raised an eyebrow at the cardboard box in Yamapi's hands.
"I made some friends," Yamapi said, grinning sheepishly. The box rattled in his hands with the sudden sound of a scuffle, but when Yamapi opened the flaps to make sure his new pets weren't killing each other, they both looked up at him innocently, whiskers wriggling.
"Looks like you'll get along well," Jin commented.
"I told you you'd get vermin if you didn't do the dishes," Ryo said when Yamapi proudly showed off his pets.
"They aren't vermin!" Yamapi protested, cuddling a rat in the crook of his arm. The rat was on his back, feet kicking as Yamapi rubbed his belly, tail flopping over Yamapi's wrist. "They're pets! This is Tegoshi and that's Masuda."
"How can you tell?" Ryo poked cautiously at the rat still in the terrarium, stretched up on his hind legs as if trying to see what was happening to his cagemate. He grabbed Ryo's finger and licked it, then dropped back down onto all fours in disgust when Ryo turned out not to be food. "They look exactly the same."
"It's easy!" Yamapi beamed at Ryo, holding Tego up to demonstrate. "Tego has the fuzziest belly, and Massu has beadier eyes."
"They look exactly the same," Ryo repeated, ignoring Tego's wriggling whiskers and Massu's renewed hopping for attention. He put his hands behind his back when Yamapi tried to drop Tego in them, but Yamapi just shrugged and sat Tego on Ryo's shoulder instead before reaching into the terrarium to scoop out Massu.
"Don't worry," Yamapi soothed as he rubbed Massu's ears until the rat's eyes were closed in rapture. "I'll teach you."
"Right." Ryo flinched as Tego stood up on his shoulder and began investigating his hair with surprisingly deft fingers. "And just what are you going to do with your new friends when we're on tour?"
"Jin can watch them," Yamapi answered casually, more occupied with how cute it was that Massu was licking his wrist.
"And what happens when Jin is on tour?"
"Um…" Yamapi looked up to find both Ryo and Tego peering at him quizzically. Maybe he hadn't thought this through quite yet.
"Everyone!" Yamapi called for attention as he boarded the reserved car of the Shinkansen, hands holding something behind his back. "I have a surprise!"
Koyama, Shige, and Uchi looked up from the pair of seat rows they'd flipped to face each other, but Ryo just groaned.
"You didn't," he said, and then Yamapi pulled his hands in front with a flourish and a "TADA!" which clearly anticipated oohs and ahs from his bandmates.
He didn't really expect Shige to scream like a girl and throw himself over the back of the seat while Koyama shrank nervously into the corner. Yamapi looked down in puzzlement at the little plastic travel cage in his hands. It had been a gift from Jin, and the top was pink and sparkly. Tego and Massu looked back up at him, whiskers wriggling.
"Aww, how cute!" Uchi exclaimed as Yamapi set the cage down on the seat.
"Don't encourage him!" Ryo snapped at Uchi, slapping his hands away from the catch of the cage's lid. "You can't bring your vermin on tour!"
"They aren't vermin!" Yamapi stuck his tongue out at Ryo. "They're pets! Besides, it's fine if nobody minds. Nobody minds, right?"
Uchi, ignoring Ryo totally, already had the lid open and a lapful of floppy rat. Shige was peering cautiously over the seat, flinching as Tego made hopeful eye contact, and Koyama was still pressed into the corner, but his expression was wavering as he watched Uchi babytalk Massu.
Yamapi grinned, sensing victory. If he won over Koyama, Shige would surely follow!
"Ne, Tego needs some attention too," he said, reaching into the cage to scoop up the other rat and dropping him in Koyama's lap, making Koyama squeak in surprise. "You don't mind, do you, Kei-chan? They're really sweet, right?"
"I…I'm not sure…" Koyama's frown wavered even more as Tego worked himself under his hand when the petting did not begin immediately. "Oh, he's very soft…but I don't…aw, he's licking me!"
"You know," Uchi commented as he dropped Massu into Ryo's lap and eyed their identical expressions of derision fondly, "I read that rats are little alcoholics."
"You'll get along well, then," Ryo sneered, passing Massu right onto Koyama, who looked a bit overwhelmed by the amount of adorable in his lap suddenly. "Next time you get caught you'll be all covered, one rat to get suspended from group activities, and the other one to have a terrifically fun meeting alone with Johnny in his office."
Uchi squirmed at the reminder, smile gone, and Yamapi flopped down on one of the empty seats and flicked Ryo in the head. "Don't bully Uchi! You wanted to take the flak for him."
"Didn't help Kusano," Ryo grumbled, but he wrapped an arm around Uchi's shoulders and scrunched Uchi's hair until Uchi was whining and pushing against his hand.
The train started up, unnoticed by the others, and Yamapi put his feet up on the seat across the aisle and exchanged a wink with Tego.
Two shows later, Tego and Massu were practically part of the band, coming not only to rehearsals in their travel cage, but hanging around in the dressing room during shows. Yamapi walked around backstage with Tego on his shoulder, while Massu perfected his pathos to weasel snacks out of both bandmates and crew.
Koyama fretted over the nutritional content of their diet and cut slices of banana for them. Uchi snuck them bottle caps full of the beer that Ryo was sneaking him. Ryo let them lounge around on the hotel bed with him while he was watching television.
Even Shige came around eventually, and perfected a magic trick where he made Massu vanish and Tego appear.
("That's the same rat," Ryo shouted, throwing his hands in the air.
"Believe," responded Shige wisely.)
It got to the point where Uchi complained that the rats were going to be on the backstage DVD more than he was.
"They're cuter than you," Ryo pointed out, and Uchi narrowed his eyes before storming out of Yamapi's room and slamming the adjoining door shut, locking Ryo out of their room. Ryo turned accusing eyes to Tego, who blinked at him guilelessly before going back to grooming Yamapi's head.
"Hey, watch the teeth," Yamapi grumbled, face down on the bed and limp from exhaustion. "Now if only we could train Massu to rub my shoulders."
"He's busy watching Coffee Prince," Ryo said, stealing one of Yamapi's pillows since he would be apparently spending the night. "It's a rerun, but he's lying on the remote."
"I think he likes the way the buttons feel," Yamapi yawned, and Ryo kicked him.
Sooner or later, of course, there were bound to be problems.
"WAKE UP!" Yamapi shouted, standing in the aisle of the Shinkansen. "IT'S A DISASTER!"
"What the fuck?" Ryo growled, rolling over to bury his face further into Uchi's lap. Uchi groaned something incoherent and shoved at Ryo's shoulder before going right back to snoring.
"What's going on?" Koyama asked from the next seat up, and then his window-flattened hair appeared over the back of the seat, along with Shige, blinking sleepily. Their eyes widened when they saw the travel cage in Yamapi's hands.
It was empty.
"Quick!" Koyama exclaimed. "Somebody make a noise like a banana!"
"Just have Shige do his magic trick," was Ryo's suggestion, and Uchi, now woken up for real, shoved Ryo to the floor with a crash.
"Good idea!" Yamapi said. "Are they under the seats?!"
"No," Ryo answered, voice pained. "Also, I hate all of you."
They all searched the train car, calling Tego and Massu's names, and peering under seats, but they didn't have any luck. Shige wondered out loud to Koyama if they'd maybe followed the bento lady to the next car through the sliding doors, and Koyama slapped a hand over his mouth when Yamapi's lower lip started to quiver. Finally, Ryo warned that they only had about ten minutes until their stop.
"What if they're lost forever!" Yamapi wailed, standing in the middle of the aisle and flapping his arms uselessly.
"Wait, I have an idea!" Uchi exclaimed suddenly, digging around in his bag and coming up with a bottle of beer. "Ryo, give me your bottle opener!"
"It's like eight in the morning," Ryo scowled, but Uchi slapped him across the back of the head and reached into his pocket to yank out his key ring.
Sure enough, at the crack of the bottle opening, Massu trundled out from under one of the seats into the aisle, looking expectant. A yawning Tego followed him, scratching his ear with a hind foot and looking as though he doubted any of this were worth waking up for.
"Tego!" Yamapi exclaimed tearfully, scooping both of them off the ground and hugging them to his chest. "Massu! I thought you'd left me for the bento lady!"
Just then, the PA system announced their stop, and as they slid into the station Ryo looked from windows, where a mob of fangirls was already amassed with cameras at the ready, to his bandmates, one of whom was holding a beer bottle and another of whom was hugging vermin and crying.
"God, I hate all of you," he said, but the rats didn't seem to mind when he shoved both them and the beer bottle into their traveling cage.
"It's nice to be home, isn't it?" Yamapi asked, weeks later when they were settled on the couch with a preliminary edit of the backstage tour footage in the DVD player. Curled against Yamapi's shoulder, Jin hummed his agreement and reached over Yamapi for another handful of popcorn.
On the other side of the couch, Uchi grumbled a rebellious, "I told you they were going to be on the DVD more than me." Ryo once again called Uchi's cuteness into question, and this time got a elbow to the stomach for his trouble.
In between them sat the rats, fat and fuzzy and happy, and definitely not having run off with the bento lady. Massu munched happily on the popcorn Jin dropped every time he reached in the bowl, while Tego groomed him busily, both of them looking up when somebody on the television said their names.
"Vermin," Ryo said fondly, reaching down to push Massu off the remote so that he could rewatch Shige discovering Tego in his bag chewing on his earbuds in slow motion.
"Pets," Yamapi corrected firmly, and when he looked down, both rats looked right back at him, whiskers wriggling and looking extremely self-satisfied.