Rating/Warnings: PG for fics that freaking make their own author cry.
Summary: Yabu and Hikaru get to record a duo mini-album, Shoon gets to run interference.
AN: Lately, I've watched a bunch of old things at random, like Taipi's Shokura and the Y3 Summer Swimming Special, and every time I think that maybe I can watch old Y3 things without my heart hurting, I realize how much I miss the old songs, Shoon and Yabu's voices together, Taiyou's flail, Hikaru's total idiocy, and everything else.
I guess the truth is that I'll never be totally over it, but maybe that's okay, maybe it's okay to wallow in old mp3s and clips once in a while, because it hurts, but it feels good too, to remember how much I loved Y3 and still do, to see how all of them have grown up and improved and gone on, and that's what this fic is about. It's about nostalgia, which to teach you a little Greek comes from nostos (homecoming) + algea (pain). It hurts because you can't go back home, not really, but it's okay that it hurts because you remember why you want to go back in the first place, and it's even more okay when there are others to remember why along with you.
Long author's note is long. This is for swtjemz, who always wants Shoon, and for snowqueenofhoth who reminds me that juniors are like they've been and like they always will be. But mostly it is for puppeteer8, because she teaches me that there's no shame in being sad, because it doesn't mean that you aren't moving forward.
2 of Us (x2)
The moment Yabu and Hikaru could escape from practice after the announcement, the first call they made was to Shoon.
"He won't answer," Yabu warned with the phone pressed to his ear, while Hikaru leaned all over his personal space, bouncing on his toes. "He's on-set right now, I'm sure."
"We'll leave an obnoxious message!" Hikaru answered, leaning closer to yell, "Come on, come on!" at the phone.
"…Hello?" Shoon's puzzled voice came over the line, and Yabu planted a hand in Hikaru's chest to shove him back a few inches.
"Yo, Shoon!" he said, grinning despite the cool tone of voice he was affecting. Hikaru flailed his arms like a windmill at the phone, but Yabu kept him at arm's length, ignoring him. "How's the drama going?"
"It's awesome!" Shoon said immediately, and Yabu grinned even harder as Shoon babbled on, well-acquainted with the Shoon who was impossible to shut up. "Koyama-kun and I memorized all our lines during Shokura filming last week, and Nino-senpai's been giving me lots of acting advice, and…"
"WE'RE RECORDING A DUO MINI-ALBUM," Hikaru bellowed at the phone, unable to hold it in any longer.
"…said that Clint Eastwood…" Shoon paused. "What?"
Yabu sighed in resignation and handed Hikaru the phone. Hikaru shouted it again into the mouthpiece, waving his hands and bouncing on his toes some more as he told Shoon about the announcement Hey! Say! had just received, and Yabu maybe joined in just a little.
"…at least until Chinen and Ryutarou's voices settle enough to stop making the juniors cry," Hikaru finally ran out of breath. He shot Yabu a mischievous glance. "Even Yabu's bouncing with excitement."
Yabu stopped bouncing immediately. "I am not! It just looks that way because you're bouncing!" Hikaru rolled his eyes, but motioned Yabu closer to listen to the phone as well.
"…really did well during his friendship role!" Shoon was saying. "He and his hamster were perfect. Speaking of that, I have to get back to filming, but we should celebrate!"
"Yes!" Yabu and Hikaru agreed simultaneously, then Yabu shoved Hikaru aside to retake possession of his phone. "We've got more practice and a meeting about possible songs, but text me when you're through for the day, and we'll meet at the usual café, ne?"
"It's a date!" Shoon agreed right away, and Yabu snapped his phone shut.
"We'll be just like Tegomass," Hikaru was saying, hands fisted in glee and eyes full of stars and idiocy. "Just like Tackey and Tsubasa! Just like Kinki Kids!"
"There's the shortest trip on earth," Yabu rolled his eyes, but he was grinning too as he shoved Hikaru down the hall to practice.
He was grinning a lot less by the time they showed up at the café to meet Shoon, however.
"Hey!" Shoon waved wildly when they came in. "I just got here, but I ordered us…" Shoon suddenly took note of Yabu's thundercloud expression and Hikaru's nervous glances as they sat down at the table. "…a round of…um, we are celebrating, right?"
"Yes!" Hikaru said immediately.
"Woohoo," Yabu added, glaring at the table.
A minute of silence passed, during which the waitress came with tea, and finally Shoon asked, "So you had a meeting…"
"We…talked about track listings," Hikaru started, eyes darting from Shoon to Yabu as if afraid Yabu was going to tackle him at any moment. "Nothing for sure, just a little, you know, professional back-and-forth…things were discussed…"
"Things like…" Shoon prompted.
Yabu began stirring his coffee rather violently, but still said nothing. Hikaru made worried eyes at Shoon, and Shoon offered an encouraging smile.
"Things like, you know," Hikaru hemmed, and Shoon propped his chin on his hand. "Solos, we talked about solos…and, uh, I'm going to write some of the lyrics, like I do…"
"Hikaru, that's wonderful!" Shoon exclaimed, making Hikaru beam with pleasure for a second before Yabu cleared his throat and Hikaru's shoulders slumped again. "Okay, now tell me why Yabu's trying to tunnel to America through the bottom of his cup."
"Well…" Hikaru's shoulders scrunched up even tighter and he stared at his hands. "There's the single, and our solos, but then after that…"
"They want us to do Ya-Ya-yah songs," Yabu finally spoke up, voice low and furious, and when he finally lifted his head to meet Shoon's eyes, Shoon's breath caught at the black glitter of them. "As a duo."
"Ah, is that so." Shoon put his cup of tea back down carefully, then flagged down the waitress to inform her that they were definitely going to need cookies.
"But we aren't doing it!" Yabu exclaimed.
"Yabu…" Hikaru said, reproachfully.
"What songs?" Shoon asked Hikaru, ignoring Yabu's outburst and his renewed tea-digging, and after a second, Hikaru looked away from Yabu as well.
"'Baby Babe,' 'Itoshi no Playgirl,' of course," Hikaru said.
Shoon nodded. "Of course. 'SummerxSummerxSummer?'"
"We talked about it." Hikaru took a bite of chocolate chip cookie, then just started flaking chips off onto his plate. "'Ima Susumou' and 'Just Wanna Lovin' You' we talked about. 'Te wo Tsunaide', but I think they want to avoid that because of…"
"Right." Shoon sipped his tea thoughtfully. "What about '2 of Us'?"
Hikaru blinked, then laughed. "You know, we forgot all about tha—"
"Will you two stop talking about it!" Yabu finally snapped, making both of them jump and drawing a few stares from others. "We aren't doing it! We told them we aren't doing it!"
"You…" Shoon's eyes widened.
"We told them we'd think about it," Hikaru corrected, sighing.
"We told them we aren't doing it!" Yabu just got louder. "And we aren't! I can't believe you're even thinking about it!"
"All I'm saying," Hikaru tried to get a word in edgewise, "is that maybe—"
"Oh, shut up!" Yabu snapped, and Hikaru closed his mouth. "I thought you'd hate this just as much as me, I thought you cared just as much as me, but clearly I was wrong, and you—"
"Yabu!" Shoon interrupted, shocked at the hurt on Hikaru's face. "Calm down, there's no reason to shout at Hikaru like that."
"Don't patronize me, Shoon," Yabu's scowl only deepened. "I'm not some junior anymore!"
"No, but I'm still your senpai!" Shoon's icy voice cut right through Yabu's momentum, bringing him up short. "And when you were a junior, you certainly knew better than to say things like that, or to take your childish temper tantrum out on a bandmate who's only trying to talk some sense into you! Now apologize!"
Yabu's eyes hardened. "I…"
"NOW." Shoon stared right back, crossing his arms. "I might be just a junior, but I can still kick your skinny ass from here to NHK Hall."
They glared at each other for a few long seconds, but in the end it was Yabu who dropped his eyes and apologized to Hikaru gruffly, cheeks red.
"It's fine," Hikaru said, but he didn't really look any happier for it.
"Now calmly," Shoon eyed Yabu some more, "tell me what the problem is."
"What the problem is?" Yabu looked up, and even though his jaw was still set angrily, the hurt in his own eyes was plain now. "I just told you they want Hikaru and I to put out an album using mainly Ya-Ya-yah songs, and you don't have any problem with that?"
"It's a good chance for you both," Shoon said. "They're songs that suit you, and you know them already."
"Otherwise, we'll have to learn all new songs," Hikaru added glumly. "We'll have practice forever, I won't have time to write anything…"
"And you won't sound as good in the end," Shoon finished, nodding. "When you do lives, you'll know the choreography."
"That's not what I'm talking about!" Yabu gave Shoon a pleading look. "They aren't duets! It's not right!"
"You did a few of them as duets before, early on," Shoon reminded him. "It was fine. It'll be like that."
"It won't be like that, and it isn't fine." Yabu shoved his tea away and stood up. He tucked his hands in his pockets and stared at the table while he spoke, quiet and rough. "Those songs are for four people, not two. They're Ya-Ya-yah's songs, not ours, and I'd rather sound awful singing something Hikaru scribbled on a napkin in ten minutes then sound like a really talented thief."
"Yabu," Hikaru tried, but Yabu had already turned away. He left the café without looking back, and Shoon sighed, seeing a much younger and more awkward Yabu in the angry hunch of his shoulders and the frustrated ball of his fists in his pockets.
"So much for celebrating," Shoon said, trying for a smile out of Hikaru, and Hikaru forced a wan one to humor him. It only held for a moment before Hikaru let it slip away again, face neutral as he thought.
Just like Shoon had been struck by how Yabu's emotion had made him look younger, now he was caught by how mature Hikaru suddenly appeared, how different from the Hikaru who only came up to Shoon's shoulder and used to laugh and cry at the drop of a hat.
But after a moment's thought on it, Shoon tucked the nostalgia back away, knowing that it wouldn't help anything.
"Shoon," Hikaru asked, bringing Shoon out of his thoughts, "is it really okay? With you, I mean. You don't mind?"
"I mind a little," Shoon admitted sheepishly, after Hikaru had stared at him evenly for a few seconds. "I'm jealous, and yeah, it hurts. But I want to see you do well more." He paused for a second. "And I really, really want a studio version of 'Baby Babe.'"
"Me too," Hikaru agreed, his smile small but for real this time, and he shoved a cookie in his mouth and for a few sweet, achy moments, it was just like before, Hikaru wheedling his favorite senpai to pay and Shoon allowing himself to be coaxed willingly.
"About Yabu," Shoon started when they were leaving, but Hikaru shook his head.
"I'll talk to him," Hikaru assured, giving Shoon a hopeful smile that was just a touch tired around the edges. "He'll come around."
"I know." Shoon clapped Hikaru on the shoulder, and they both let the touch linger longer than they should have before going their separate ways.
Over the next two days, Hikaru tried repeatedly to bring the topic up with Yabu, but Yabu refused to say anything other than "Ya-Ya-yah is four people, not two."
"Sorry to bother you about it again," Hikaru said once he'd got Shoon on the phone. It had been quite a task, since both of them were practically too busy to eat, and now it was after midnight, both of them interrupting themselves with yawns. "But they want an answer Friday morning, so if I can't talk sense into him tomorrow…"
"It's fine," Shoon brushed off Hikaru's apologies. "I'm just not sure how much help I'll be, since last time he didn't want to listen to me either."
"He never listens to anybody," Hikaru sighed, and there was a thunk that Shoon assumed was Hikaru's head hitting his desk. "Brat. This is what we get for encouraging his crush on Akanishi-senpai. I wish they'd send him to study in America too, and then I could just come up with any tracklist that I wanted."
"Tracklist…wait," Shoon had a sudden burst of inspiration. "I think I have an idea. Where's your practice tomorrow afternoon?"
Hikaru told him, then added, "But you don't have to come the whole way down, you shouldn't waste your time when I don't know whether it'll do any good."
"I want to," Shoon answered. "I've got something I think you'll both want to see. See you tomorrow."
"See you," Hikaru echoed around another yawn, and then Shoon ended the call and immediately scrolled through his contacts for another number.
"You found it!" Shoon exclaimed when he saw his other contact approaching with a triumphant grin. He hopped up from the bench he was sitting on in the subway station, both of them meeting for only a few minutes before going on their separate ways.
"I knew right where it was," Taiyou grinned, handing over a folded square of note paper, the edges ragged from being torn out. Shoon tucked it carefully into his pocket. "How's the drama?"
"It sucks," Shoon wrinkled his nose and pushed up his sleeve to show Taiyou his newest wound. "I got bit by the parrot yesterday. How's studying?"
"It sucks," Taiyou answered fervently, making both of them laugh.
They looked at each for a moment, but there wasn't much else to say, and Shoon reshouldered his bag at the same time Taiyou looked up to check the schedule.
"We should go," Shoon said for both of them. "But thank you. I'll let you know what happens."
"Any time." Taiyou watched Shoon thoughtfully for a second before adding, "Tell them I said they should do it. Or else I'll trip on Yabu and crush him to death."
"I'll pass it on," Shoon laughed, and he filed away Taiyou's brilliant smile to take along with him as well.
Hikaru and Yabu knew the second that Shoon showed up in the Hi! Hey! Say! practice room, because across the room, Reon gave an undignified yell and nearly killed the junior next to him waving.
Yabu eyed Hikaru darkly as they got up from stretching on the floor to go over, and Hikaru just whistled innocently.
"…the same crossover as the one we practiced last week, just in reverse," Shoon was saying as they approached, demonstrating a little, while Reon and a handful of others squinted at him uncomprehendingly. "Maa, I can't show you alone. Ne, Yabu-kun, help me out?"
"All right, all right," Yabu grumbled as though it were an awful chore, but he slipped into step beside Shoon like they'd just been practicing it that morning, and they ran the step flawless and smooth on the first try. Shoon caught Yabu's eye and gave a little hiproll, making Yabu's step hitch, and Yabu narrowed his eyes and did a full bodyroll in response that made Shoon trip over his own feet laughing.
It made Hikaru's throat close a little, so he barreled in between them, announced that they were doing it all wrong, and did a flailing version of it that made all the juniors burst into giggles and got him slapped over the back of the head by both Shoon and Yabu.
"That's enough of that," Yabu announced, giving the juniors a stern eye. "Back to work, you all. Yuto, come over and make sure they don't slack off! You two clowns, you're coming to buy me a drink for interrupting practice."
"Ye~s," Shoon and Hikaru chorused, letting themselves be pushed out the door, and Shoon waved good-bye to Reon. Reon didn't notice, busy re-teaching the step correctly to the people on either side of him.
"Oh, wipe that idiotic grin off your face," Yabu shoved at Shoon's shoulder, but Shoon poked at the smile growing on Yabu's own cheek, and Hikaru pinched the other one, cooing about how cute Kotta-chan was until Yabu put him in a headlock.
Hikaru, unsurprisingly, failed utterly at jankenpon, and had to buy the drinks, and Yabu waited until they had all opened theirs and taken a sip before asking them to just get on with it already.
"It?" Hikaru made the most innocent face in the whole world. "Get on with what?"
Yabu sighed at him, and turned to Shoon instead. "I appreciate you coming down here, but I'm not going to change my mind."
"I have something for you to see." Shoon dug around in his pockets, then came up with the folded square of note paper Taiyou had given him. He handed it to Yabu, who raised an eyebrow before pulling it open and smoothing it flat against his thigh.
His expression softened when he got a good look at it. "This is…where did you find it?"
"Taiyou had it," Shoon answered, smiling as Hikaru wrapped an arm around Yabu's shoulders and leaned in for a look, his eyes widening.
"It's the tracklist for our cd!" Hikaru exclaimed, then more softly corrected himself. "For Ya-Ya-yah's cd, I mean."
"During Daibouken." Shoon nodded. "Do you remember writing it, in the hotel?"
They'd been high on concerts and two cases of assorted Fanta, plus something that Yamapi-senpai and Akanishi-senpai had sent to congratulate them and they had all agreed not to talk about afterwards. Somehow the topic had turned to Ya-Ya-yah's debut, and in the capsule of their hotel room at one in the morning, it had seemed so close and real, like they could touch it, and Taiyou had stolen Hikaru's lyric notebook with his longer reach and ripped out a page for Shoon to scribble song titles down on, Yabu and Hikaru shouting and waving their arms at each other and Hikaru spilling melon Fanta all over the hotel bedspread.
"Of course I remember. I couldn't drink Fanta for a month after that," Yabu murmured, brushing fingers over the words, like he could feel the rise of the ink. "'Baby Babe' was just about to come out, so we put it the third slot, our debut single."
"And you made us put 'START' in first," Shoon remembered.
"It's called 'START!'" Yabu rolled his eyes. "Where did you want to put it, moron?"
"Na, it's funny," Hikaru let his chin rest more comfortably on Yabu's shoulder. "But this list is almost exactly like…"
"Stop it, I can see what you're doing," Yabu interrupted, but he continued staring at the paper and his attempt to shake Hikaru loose wouldn't have dislodged a fly.
"Tell me why you don't want to use them," Shoon asked, and when Yabu looked up, it nearly broke Shoon's heart to see how sad and lost Yabu's eyes were.
"Because it'll mean that Hikaru and I are the only part of Ya-Ya-yah that mattered," Yabu said. "Because we aren't allowed to talk about Ya-Ya-yah, or the old show, or even be on the stage together, and if we do they just edit it out, and that's what they're doing, just editing you and Taiyou out, and I can't stand it!"
"Yabu," Shoon tried to comfort him with a hand on the shoulder Hikaru wasn't leaning on, but Yabu didn't even seem to notice, just went on pleading with Shoon with his dark, sad eyes.
"They want to make it like Ya-Ya-yah never existed, but it did!" Yabu's voice hitched, and Shoon had to swallow the lump in his throat. "And it wasn't just me and Hikaru. Shoon, I don't want it to be like Ya-Ya-yah didn't exist."
"You're being ridiculous," Shoon said, keeping his voice as even as possible and tactfully ignoring the way Hikaru was trying to sniffle quietly. Hurt flashed over Yabu's face, and Shoon tightened his hand on Yabu's shoulder. "You love these songs, we all do. And if you say no now, they'll never ask about them again. How will never singing Ya-Ya-yah's songs ever again make it like Ya-Ya-yah didn't exist?"
"I don't know," Yabu said, dropping his eyes to his hands, voice small. "But it hurts. A lot more than just being Hey! Say!'s Yabu does."
"I know," Shoon said. Hikaru gave up on Yabu at that moment and switched over to hug Shoon instead, and Shoon let him cling as tightly as he wanted, arm tight around Hikaru's shoulders. "But you should do it because it was our dream, wasn't it? I know it doesn't look the same as we thought it would, but it's still a good dream."
Yabu didn't answer and kept his head down, but he folded the note paper back up and tucked it into his pocket, and a wave of relief made Shoon tighten his grip on Hikaru.
"Thank you," he said. "But look, just promise me you'll get new solos, because 'Arashi no Carnival' just sounds like an advertisement for the senpai putting on a drag show."
"You're lucky they picked that," Hikaru spoke up from where his face was buried against Shoon's shirt, voice thick. "The other option was 'KAT-TUN no Orgy.'"
Shoon started laughing, voice cracking, and Hikaru was snickering, and then Yabu added, "'NEWS no Slumber Party,'" and Hikaru and Shoon both reached over to force him into the hug too, clinging tightly while he flailed and squawked.
"Let go! No hugging! You'll make me cry and we have to go back to practice!" Yabu wailed, and Shoon and Hikaru just squeezed him tighter.
By the time they did make it back to practice, Hikaru looked smug, Yabu looked mussed, the juniors all looked knowingly at Shoon, and Yabu gave them all a look that would have peeled the nail polish right off all of KAT-TUN simultaneously.
On his way home, Shoon sent a mail to Taiyou and told him that everything was going to be fine.
"Big brother!" Reon exclaimed as he dashed up to the car, thoroughly gleeful at the unusual pick-up from practice. He yanked the door open and slid into the passenger seat, clicking his seat belt on before he noticed that Shoon was fiddling with the plastic wrap of a cd. "New cd?"
"Mm," Shoon answered, and finally the plastic wrap all came off in a tangled spiral. He popped the case open before Reon could get a good look at the cover, and snapped the cd out, sticking in the car's stereo.
The opening line to 'START' played, and despite the tightness of his throat, Shoon started to laugh.
"Hey!" Reon blurted in recognition. "That's Yabu-kun and Hikaru-kun!"
"Yeah," Shoon said, but really he was thinking, no, it's us, and he let his eyes close for a minute and listened for the other two parts of the harmony that had to come from his heart rather than the speakers.
Except after a minute, Shoon realized that the harmony wasn't entirely in just his heart, and when he opened his eyes he found Reon singing Shoon's part along with the cd, and Shoon knew for sure that they'd made the right decision.
"Big brotheeeer," Reon whined at the end of the song, fidgeting in his seat and pushing buttons on the navigator. "Let's go already yo, ne?"
"Yeah," Shoon took a deep breath and felt light, "let's go on."
He'd call Yabu and Hikaru later, Shoon decided as the car pulled away from the curb, just to make sure that they knew as well.