Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for what A.B.C. does in Kisumai's dressing room anyway.
Summary: Through Shounen Club, Summary, First Concert, and beyond, Shoon starts fitting in again.
AN: It's no secret that I want A.B.C. to adopt Shoon like crazy, and the more it looks like it's happening, the more excited I get, but the more scared I get too. For snowqueenofhoth and ginzarhapsody, and everybody else who flails with me over it.
Heading down the hallway with his bag on his shoulder, Shoon stopped in front of the dressing room labeled ‘A.B.C.’ and paused for a moment before knocking. There was the sounds of people scuffling around, and laughter, and then a bright-eyed Goseki flung the door open.
“Shoon-kun!” he beamed, and over Goseki’s shoulder, Shoon saw three other heads bob in greeting. “I heard we were sharing. Come on in!”
“Sorry to trouble you,” Shoon murmured as he trailed Goseki into the room, feeling shy even though he’d known the members of A.B.C. almost as long and as well as Yabu, Hikaru, or Taiyou. He was an intruder after all, no matter how well they got along. “Especially since your dressing room is the small one.”
“That’s silly.” Tottsu waved a hand dismissively at Shoon’s apology. “We spend most of our time in Kisumai’s dressing room anyway, so it’s really just a place to throw our bags down. You can put yours anywhere.”
“Thanks.” Shoon put down his bag in between Tottsu's and Tsuka’s and glanced around. There really wasn’t enough space for five people in here, but then again, Shoon thought as he returned Tsuka and Kawai’s good mornings, it was nice to be welcome.
“Speaking of Kisumai,” Kawai said, sitting in a straddle on one of the arms of the small, battered couch, “we’re going over as soon as Tsuka gets his slow ass in gear.”
“You try being in two units!” Tsuka protested, digging around in his back with no success. “I have twice as much stuff as anybody else! And the only person to help me figure out which half goes with what unit is Senga!”
“You might as well be naked,” Goseki agreed sagely, sitting down on the cushion next to Kawai. It took all of ten seconds for Kawai to slip off the arm in the fakest accident ever and crush Goseki into the couch, Goseki giggling and flailing weakly.
“Hey,” Tottsu leaned over when Shoon started changing, “we sort of match!”
Shoon looked from the old red costume he was holding to Tottsu’s newish red one and laughed. “We do!”
Tsuka took a look at everybody else’s costumes, then cursed and dug around in his bag harder.
“Ne, Shoon-kun,” Kawai called from the couch, ignoring the Goseki’s pleas that he was suffocating, “you should join our unit! Nobody would notice.”
“Oi!” Tottsu reached over to slap the back of Kawai’s head, knocking him off Goseki. “That’s a terrible thing to say!”
“I didn’t mean it like that!” Kawai winced when his brain caught up with his mouth. “Sorry, Shoon-kun, I just meant…”
“I think it’d be fun,” Shoon agreed, tugging his shirt over his head. “I could do acrobatics more often, like I used to.”
“We should ask Nakamaru-kun about it!” Tottsu agreed, starting to look a touch excited. “There’s always room for things like that in the medleys, I’m sure he’d let us work it in sooner or later. Do you really want to, Shoon-kun?”
“Maa…” Shoon blinked, taken aback by the sudden enthusiasm for what he’d meant as a joke. He squirmed when he realized that four pairs of eyes were glued to him. “Well…if you’d want to…I’d really like that.”
Shoon couldn’t help but grin at the excited cheer that went up around him, and then he turned to fiddle around in his own bag to swallow the sudden lump in his throat.
“All right, let’s go!” Kawai hopped off the couch, dragging Goseki along with him and snagging Tottsu’s arm on the way by. “We’ll go talk to Nakamaru-kun, and then meet you in Kisumai’s dressing room, okay, Tsuka? Shoon-kun, you come too!”
“Yeah, yeah,” Tsuka assured. The door swung shut, and the room was suddenly quiet as Shoon and Tsuka both finished dressing. After a minute, Tsuka asked, “Shoon-kun? Is it really okay?”
“Hm?” Shoon asked, zipping up his bag, not trusting his voice to be entirely even yet.
“Pretending you’re part of our group,” Tsuka explained, and Shoon’s cheeks turned a bit pink as he realized that maybe he hadn’t been as subtle as he thought. “Kawai and Tottsu get carried away sometimes. I mean, it’d be fun, but I know we couldn’t ever replace…”
“It’s fine,” Shoon cut Tsuka off, smiling to soften the interruption. “That wasn’t it at all, I just…I forgot how nice it felt to do something as a unit, even if it is just pretend. To be wanted.”
“That part’s not pretend,” Tsuka assured, and Shoon colored even darker. “You miss them?” Tsuka gave Shoon a sympathetic smile when Shoon nodded. “We do too.”
“Thanks.” Shoon had to swallow again, but he tried to laugh it off. “What I really miss is our old dressing room!”
“You’ll miss it even more after Kawai takes off his socks,” Tsuka laughed, slinging an arm around Shoon’s shoulders and pushing him out the door to join the others.
Shoon laughed when he showed up to the first Summary rehearsal and found that someone had added “+Shoon” in metallic purple marker to the bottom of the A.B.C. dressing room sign, laughed deeper than he could remember doing in quite a while, laughed so hard that it hurt when he pushed the door open and found a sleep-befuddled Goseki with a metallic purple mustache.
This time their costumes matched for real, and they had their own song, and Shoon, who’d known better than to get his hopes up since he was younger than his brother, spent a lot of time reminding himself that it was all pretend.
Not that pretend couldn’t be a lot of fun.
And it was a lot of fun, practicing back flips with Tsuka, sneaking into Kisumai’s dressing room with Kawai to switch the contents of everyone’s bags, squishing in between Goseki and Tottsu on the tiny couch for catnaps before lunch break ended.
It was embarrassing to be in the middle of the group all the time, like he was the special guest star or something, even if they all knew it was just for symmetry’s sake. But Tottsu just accused Shoon of having the biggest cube to twirl because he was overcompensating, while Kawai cheerfully told all the tiniest juniors to ask Goseki what that meant, until Taiga threatened to tell Koyama on him.
“You’ll make Koyama-kun sad,” Taiga insisted with a steely gaze, “and then Yamashita-kun will beat you up,” and Shoon’s face was so red from laughing that he didn’t have any blood left to blush with anyhow.
It was nice to be asked where people were and to know the answer, and it was nice to be found and be told that somebody had known where he was. It was nice to forget that it was all pretend for a few seconds when Tottsu left the –kun off Shoon’s name and Goseki treated him at dinner and Kawai accused Shoon of usurping his position as baby.
“You just don’t like paying!” Tsuka scolded Kawai, and then he wrapped arms protectively around Shoon’s shoulders. “Besides, Shoon is cuter!”
Shoon had a split-second to try and scramble away as Kawai made a face of mortal outrage, but Tsuka’s grip was too tight and Tottsu had already grabbed him from the other side. Kawai’s pounce sent them tumbling backwards to the couch, where an unfortunate Goseki was trying to catch a nap. The couch was definitely too small for that sort of abuse, and the next time Reon got a good look at Shoon in the bath, he asked Shoon very seriously if somebody was hurting him.
“You look happy,” Yabu commented. It was over dinner, at a ramen place where whoever wanted to gathered after late shows, a ragtag mix of HeyBCKismyBAD, whoever was hungry and didn’t have an early curfew.
It was another thing that Shoon loved about Summary, that Takaki and Akito were teaching Hikaru pornographic Kansaiben in one corner, Fujigaya and Kawai were wheedling Goseki into paying for them in another, and further away Junta and Kitayama were trying to hard to pretend that they hadn’t come here with any of these freaks.
“I am,” Shoon agreed, popping a gyoza in his mouth. “Summary has the best atmosphere, doesn’t it?”
“No,” Yabu shook his head, and he shrugged a shoulder towards Kawai and Goseki. “I mean, you look happy with them. Like you used to.”
“It’s not like that, Yabu.” Shoon stared into his ramen, suddenly realizing how many days of August had already slipped by without him noticing. “It’s just for now.”
“What if it weren’t?” Yabu pressed, and Shoon bit down a hurt response that it wasn’t fair for Yabu to ask him things like that, not him. “Would you want to?”
“It doesn’t do any good to talk about things like that,” Shoon answered, voice low so that it would stay even. He’d been ignoring the hope warming his chest all summer just fine until Yabu started talking about it. “Summer just makes us all get a little carried away, that’s all. But then summer ends and we all go back to normal. We’ve had plenty of summers like this, you of all people ought to be used to it.”
“Don’t be like that.” Yabu punched Shoon in the shoulder, and Shoon looked up in surprise. “It’s okay for you to be happy, you know. It’s okay to hope it lasts. This isn’t some stupid Tackey & Tsubasa song about summer love.”
Yabu wasn’t humoring him or teasing him, Shoon realized. He wasn’t being childish at all. Shoon was the one being childish, too afraid to put his heart into enjoying what he had while he had it. Pretending was a lot easier.
“I just want you to be happy, is all,” Yabu said. “You said it’s good for me to be happy in my unit, and I don’t know what idiot would say it wasn’t good for you to be too.”
“Who made you so adult, anyway,” Shoon grumbled, surprised and pleased, and familiar enough with Yabu’s smirk to know that he’d been seen through. “You want to be so grown-up, you can treat me, Yabu-senpai.”
“Well,” Yabu picked up the check with a flourish, “I did debut first, after all.”
“Oi!” Shoon and Yabu looked up to find Kawai looming over them, arms crossed. “Are you bullying my kouhai there?”
“You ought to keep better track of him,” Yabu drawled, leaning back in his chair to raise an eyebrow at Kawai. “He gets lost a lot. And who the hell has been bruising him all up in your dressing room?”
“He spends a lot of time in Kisumai’s dressing room, you should ask them,” Kawai answered, suddenly much more interested in stealing some of their gyoza.
Later, a bunch of them went out to karaoke and made fools of themselves singing senpai songs and forcing Yabu and Hikaru to sing Chinen’s parts in their own singles until Takaki begged them to stop, please.
“God, you sound worse than he does these days!” he groaned.
Shoon was sleepy and full and didn’t mind passing his turn to others who were somehow more energetic at this hour, and found himself dozing a little. He stirred when he was moved into a more comfortable position, and opened his eyes just far enough to realize that his head was pillowed on Goseki’s lap.
“Gocchi?” he asked, and Goseki hummed vaguely and blinked down at Shoon with eyes glazed from exhaustion and alcohol. “I want to stay. Not for pretend.”
No one was paying any attention to them, an Arashi song blaring out of the machine, but Goseki grinned, and Shoon’s chest felt lighter than it had all summer.
“Me too, Shoon.” Goseki ran a soothing hand through Shoon’s hair, making Shoon’s eyes flutter shut, and as he fell asleep, Shoon only worried a little about whether he’d wake up with a metallic purple mustache.
The sign on the dressing room door read “A.B.C. + Shoon” in print, not in marker, and for a moment, Shoon’s breath caught in his throat.
He shook it off to push the door open and shuffled inside to greet the others, losing himself in the bustle of rehearsal and staging and general insanity that ensued anytime you had more than three juniors doing something at once. But the feeling came back in sharp spikes every time he checked his phone and found more mails congratulating him.
“Who’re you getting all those love mails from?” Kawai wanted to know, draping himself over Shoon’s shoulder to sneak a look, heedless of the way they were both dripping sweat.
“Goseki,” Shoon answered easily, slipping his phone back into his pocket, and snickered when Kawai sprang off him to make the saddest face in the whole world and demanded to know why Gocchi didn’t love him anymore.
Yokohama was huge and bright and loud, and just before the stage lights came up to blind him, the sea of glo-sticks waving in time took Shoon’s breath away. He hadn’t thought it would be that much different from Summary or any of the other eight million things he’d backdanced for, but it was, different enough that it made his stomach roll when he heard his name over the loud-speaker and the burst of noise from the crowd in response.
He must have looked shell-shocked during their first costume change, because Tsuka nudged his shoulder and asked if he was all right.
“It’s…” Shoon nodded, then changed his mind and shook his head with a shaky smile. “It’s crazy! It’s too much!”
“It really is,” Tsuka agreed right away, and when he had his pants the whole way up, he hugged Shoon quick and tight, their chests stuck together with stage-sweat. “It’s like…we’ve backed so many concerts, but this isn’t the same at all, is it?”
Shoon hadn’t realized he’d been shaking until Tsuka’s hug made it stop. When he turned to find Tottsu looking like he might be sick at any moment, Shoon passed the hug on, and Tottsu clung to him in relief for the few seconds they had to spare.
It seemed to release some sort of pressure that had been building up inside Shoon, and after that he lost count of how many hugs he gave and received. It didn’t take long for the hugs to spread from unit to unit, Senga grabbing Shoon in relief when they found his lost skate, and Fujigaya getting him in the wings after an impromptu switch of a malfunctioning mic saved Fujigaya from only serenading the front row during a solo.
There were other touches too, high-fives and punches and arms on shoulders and clasped hands and headlocks, but it was the hugs Shoon would remember most of all later, the feel of someone’s heart pounding just as hard as his, being squeezed back just as tightly as he could squeeze.
Please, Shoon begged silently at the end of the first night, when he was crushed in a group hug between Kawai and Tsuka, Goseki’s hand tight on his waist and Tottsu’s breath in his hair, too far past words to even know what he asking for. Please, please, please, please…
The sign on the dressing room just reads “A.B.C.,” and Shoon lets out a sad sigh in the empty hallway, because things are back to normal, it looks like.
And then he stands there for a few moments longer, gathering himself to be the invader of the dressing room once again. He stands there so long that he nearly catches the door in the face when it’s flung open.
“Agh!” Kawai exclaims, clutching at his chest. “Don’t do that! What are you just standing out here for?!”
“Sorry!” Shoon pastes on his usual smile and adjusts the strap of his bag on his shoulder. “Looks like I’ll be the imposter in your dressing room again.”
“Eh?” Kawai tilts his head. “What are you talking about?”
“The sign just says…” Shoon trails off, and his face flushes crimson as he realizes that he hadn’t even checked the dressing room assignments properly, he’d just assumed. “Oh! I’m really sorry! I must not even be in your…”
Kawai looks from Shoon’s face to the door in utter confusion, and then suddenly his expression clears in understanding. He reaches to grab Shoon’s shoulder, to stop him from turning away, still blathering apologies.
“Shoon,” Kawai says gently, “didn’t they tell you? This is your dressing room.”
“But, I…” Shoon frowns at Kawai.
“It says ‘A.B.C.’ right on the door, doesn’t it?” Kawai asks, trying and failing to hold back a grin. “I mean, I know we aren’t in here a lot, but…
Shoon looks from the door to Kawai, and back again, and finally it all sinks in, and he’s smiling so hard it hurts and dropping his bag to the ground so he can grab Kawai in a bruising hug. Kawai is still talking, but Shoon doesn’t understand a word of it, because his heart is pounding in his ears, and then there are other arms and bodies squashed up against his back and sides.
“Welcome back, Shoon,” Goseki murmurs somewhere over Shoon’s shoulder, Tsuka and Tottsu echoing it on either side, and Shoon hides his face in Kawai’s shirt so nobody can see that he’s tearing up like a trainee.
“You really are the baby,” Kawai says, trying for disgruntled and only coming up with affectionate, and Shoon squeezes him until Kawai doesn’t have any more breath to speak than he does.