Rating/Warnings: PG I suppose? It's gen.
Summary: In some universe somewhere, 14-year-old Yabu gets grouped with Hikaru, Nikaido, and Senga in a unit called 2SHY, and somehow they still all grow up into strong, talented adults.
AN: So when I was visiting musikologie this summer, somehow we ended up watching a handful of tiny tiny baby Yabu/Hikaru clips and TEENY WEENY Nikaido and Senga were backing them on the old Y3 show, and then we had this conversation where beth named them 2SHY and I started writing this. It sat around half-finished for ages, and then tonight apparently I wanted to write 2k of it and stay up until 3am, so here you go.
Eye to Eye
Koyama-kun calls them 'the unit made of ADORABLE' which makes Nikaido predictably cranky, but Yabu points out that he's not far wrong, more diplomatic than any 14-year-old has a right to be. Certainly the four of them make a lot of sense together, two of them preferring vocals to dance and two of them vice versa, and if they get the costumes mixed up (it's usually Senga's fault), the sizes are close enough that it doesn't really matter.
It's a nice mix too, a good age range. Nikaido and Hikaru are practically the same age, Yabu old enough that Senga's kouhai wiles work on him but young enough that Nikaido doesn't bother with the –kun, since Hikaru hardly does. Cute and talented, 2SHY doesn't shock anybody by getting a show to run wild on with KKKity and ABC, all the skits and field reports and livestages the four of them can handle.
2SHY's fun, at least, Nikaido thinks. They get to do interesting things, and he certainly doesn't mind the attention. He's a bit reserved about the unit thing, smart enough to think even at thirteen that getting all attached is stupid, enough that the others tease him about his coolness.
"Careful, Nika-chan," Yokoo-kun says, wrapping an arm around Senga's shoulders. "Or we might steal one of your cute little members~."
"You don't need an S," Nikaido scowls, tugging Senga out of Yokoo's grip, his own hands possessive. Yokoo and Kusano snicker when he adds, "Don't say weird stuff."
"Aw, get attached after all, did we?" Kusano taunts, leaning over to pinch Nikaido's cheek, but before he makes contact, Kato-kun appears out of nowhere to grab Yokoo and Kusano by the collars and drag them back to practice.
"Because you like 2SHY, right?" Senga prompts, dashing Nikaido's hopes of not having to answer that question after all. He's giving Nikaido that sweet, hopeful smile that works on everybody, even Ueda-kun, and Nikaido lets go of him to grab at his own elbow, a nervous habit he keeps vowing to outgrow but never manages to.
"What's not to like?" he relents, grudgingly, but it feels kind of good to say and he gets a gleeful hug out of Senga for saying it.
"Yay!" Senga exclaims while he's doing it, grip surprisingly strong for somebody their size. "So you'll be my partner, right? Because Yabu-kun and Hikaru-kun are partners already, so…"
"Can't be helped," Nikaido says, and when Senga pulls back to give him the smile again, Nikaido's answering grin can't be helped either.
2SHY's popularity shields them from more than one unit reshuffling, but none so egregious as the year KKKity turns into just 'ity.'
"They could add in Toma-kun as a T?" Senga offers, trying staunchly to cheer up the solemn atmosphere at lunch. "That would make them Ti—no, wait, um…"
"But if you add the S and the H," Nikaido pipes up, "then it'd make them SH—"
"Stop helping," Yabu orders, giving them a dirty look, but Hikaru is snickering into his onigiri. "Leave them be, they'll sort it out on their own."
"I'm glad they didn't take our S or H," Senga says, more quietly, and when they look at him, his smile is gone as he picks at his rice.
"Idiot," Nikaido wraps an arm around Senga's shoulder to squeeze him, "what would they do with just a 2 and a Y?"
"Suck," Hikaru answers without hesitation, eyes sparking amusement when Nikaido throws him a dirty look. Hikaru gives a pointed look at Yabu's suddenly lengthening legs, and Nikaido's ill-advised haircut. "Seriously, you'd be the unit of awkward growth spurts instead of the unit of…" Hikaru stops himself on the brink of using Koyama's old nickname for them, then gives himself a little shake and finishes, "…adorable."
Senga rubs his cheek a little against Nikaido's shoulder. "I'm gonna miss Koyama-kun."
"He's not going anywhere, not really," Yabu soothes, reaching over to ruffle Senga's hair. "They'll still be on the show and everything."
"It won't be the same," Senga bumps his head up against Yabu's hand. "It won't be like before."
Yabu's hair-ruffle turns into a little bit of a yank before he lets go. "But maybe it'll be even better."
"Don't pretend you're so grown up," Hikaru grouses.
At first it seems like Senga might be right, since NEWS is kind of a mess and all, but he still gets hugs from Koyama when they see each other, and Hikaru and Nikaido channel their own worries into a string of pranks that Yabu is forced to put a stop to when it looks like ABC is gearing up for a full-on prank war and Toshin is the last casualty.
After a while, it even seems something like normal.
But it turns out their popularity does not in fact shield them from special projects, or at least not Senga.
"You're too busy to hang out with those losers," Nikaido grumbles while Senga hunts through his bag in search of his deodorant, lost as usual. "Especially that new guy, he's weird."
"Kitayama-kun isn't weird at all!" Senga protests, excited about something new to do, and that's what makes Nikaido grumpiest of all, if he's being honest with himself. "He can skate, isn't that cool? He's gonna teach us! So we can do Hikaru Genji-senpai."
"You're gonna get hurt," Nikaido tries to couch his objections in terms of the group, "you'll have to sit out and then 'SummerxSummerxSummer' is gonna look stupid and…"
"Aw, Nika, don't be like that," Senga says, giving Nikaido a pleading look, and then gives up on his bag. "Ne, Yabucchi, lemme borrow your deodorant, okay?"
"Again?" Yabu says in mild exasperation, but he's already handing it over. "Don't lose the cap again, got it? And ne," Yabu reaches down to ruffle Senga's hair, "don't get hurt either."
"Got it," Senga promises as he climbs back to his feet. He turns a hopeful smile up to full wattage on Nikaido. "It probably won't even be for long, so don't be mad, okay? I'm still 2SHY's S."
"Fine, fine," Nikaido gives in, swallowing the other arguments waiting on his tongue because it can't be helped anyway, not really. "Just…have fun. Or something."
"Thanks, Nika," Senga gives Nikaido a smaller smile, but a sweeter one, the one that's just for him, before zipping off.
"Awwwww," Hikaru purrs behind Nikaido, and Nikaido rounds on him to snap that Kis-My-whatever can take him next for all he cares.
Nikaido's modicum of good will lasts only up to the point where Yokoo skates breezily by him, Senga sliding along after him by hanging onto the back of his T-shirt, giggling and still wobbly on his new skates.
"Told you we'd take him if you weren't careful," Yokoo says, giving Nikaido a flash of yaiba and a wink. "And he's a lot cuter than he used to be, so we might not give him back~."
"You shut the hell up!" Nikaido shouts after their backs. "And I told you not to get hurt, pay attention to what you're doing!"
A few months later when a couple guys drop out and Kis-My-Ft has a membership change that drops their youngest member, Nikaido can't say he cares even one little bit.
"You belong to us," he tells Senga fiercely, and then tells Yabu to stick his deodorant in it when Yabu asks mildly what happened to not getting attached.
"Sure, Nika," Senga agrees, happy enough to focus back on dance. But sometimes, just for a second, when Fujigaya or Iida glide by on easy wheels, Senga's eyes give wistful chase.
After that, there's a stretch where everything seems to spread out in front of 2SHY in a straight, lucky line. Their show is popular, the worst of their growth spurts are over, they have plenty of original songs, and Yabu's voice is even starting to even out.
"I mean, you know," Hikaru hedges, "mostly," and Yabu gives him a black glare, trying to ignore the pitch-perfect impression of the vocal instructor berating him that Nikaido is doing behind him while Senga giggles his permed head right off.
"And you have as much a chance of hitting that C as Nikaido has of attending university!" Nikaido finishes, making Senga nearly double over and getting a bark of laughter out of Hikaru.
"You're a terrible partner," Yabu grumbles, aiming a half-hearted kick at Hikaru's shin. "And see if I treat you to any more dinners!" he adds to Senga.
"Aw, Yabucchiiiii." Senga whines, immediately contrite, and rushes over to work himself under Yabu's arm, assuring him that Yabu's his favorite senpai, definitely.
"Except for all the other senpai," Nikaido says, rolling his eyes.
"Especially Tackey-senpai," Hikaru agrees, shaking his head when Senga eyes go starry at just the mention of his name. "Ugh, gross."
They don't talk about it, they all know better. But the four of them know each other well enough to see it in each other's faces sometimes, without speaking.
Things are pretty good like this, like they are now.
At the end of a good dance practice, the kind where they've learned the song enough to have fun with it and can't wait to do it live, the kind of practice where their muscles all ache but in the best way possible, Hikaru catches eyes with Senga. Senga's glowing with exertion and happiness and it's plain as day that this is exactly what he wants to do, and the smile he gives Hikaru takes Hikaru's breath away, because it says that he's so glad they're there to share it with him.
Across the room at vocal practice, the instructor is busy with Hikaru and some triplets, and when Yabu looks up from his lyric sheet, Nikaido blinks, caught staring on accident. After a beat, he gives Yabu a confident smirk that kind of says 'we can definitely do it' and kind of says 'hang in there, yo.' After that, Yabu puts his whole focus into the new song, and his voice doesn't crack even once. By the time they're finished and Yabu catches Nikaido's eye again, his smirk is almost a smile, and it definitely says, 'I told you so.'
They get to do a whole song of their own when they back for NEWS's next concert, and it isn't like they haven't done "Eye to Eye" in front of an audience about a thousand times, but this time it feels different, it feels special. From the moment Hikaru's voice joins in with Yabu's seamlessly in the first chorus, to Nikaido's perfect flip in the dance break, to Senga's bodyroll that makes the girl in the front row drop her uchiwa, it's different.
"So cool," Koyama wibbles at them in the wings, "why are you so grown up?" They all just grin at each other without speaking because they don't need the words, because they know without saying that what they have together is something interesting and practiced and good.
"Hey," Senga says in his and Nikaido's hotel room that night, tucked under his blankets but nerves still thrumming too much for him to sleep, "hey, Nika, do you think…"
"Don't," Nikaido cuts him off, voice sleepy and hopeful and maybe a little scared. "Just…just don't."
"Why not?" Senga wants to know.
"You know why not." There's the rustle of Nikaido rolling over to face Senga, the dim light just enough for him to make out the shape of Senga's shoulder as he shrugs. He's used to Nikaido's superstitious side, after all.
"Don't worry so much," Senga advises. "It'll be good, what happens next, I know it."
"You do not," Nikaido says, but his uncertainty carries across the room. "How can you?"
"Because it's us," Senga answers, like that's all the answer he needs to give.
And in a little bit when they still can't fall asleep, they drag their pillows into the ajoining room to wake up Yabu and Hikaru and find them equally sleepless. It takes hours for all four of them to drift off, talking in hushed, hopeful whispers across the gap between their beds.
"I'm so sorry," Yabu says the first chance they get to talk about it. His eyes are ringed with exhaustion already and Hikaru is hovering at his shoulder, silent and anxious like he's still in shock.
There's a moment of awkward silence between them before Senga asks, "Why?"
"We didn't know," Yabu goes on, shoulders slumping, "no one warned us either, and…"
"No, I mean," Senga interrupts gently, "why are you apologizing? It's not your fault or anything."
"Ken-chan," Yabu's frown fades into a watery smile, and then Senga leans forward to hug Yabu tight. Nikaido and Hikaru blink at each other for a moment until Senga drags them in too, somehow having hands enough for all of them, like always.
"Don't pretend you're such a grown-up," Hikaru mumbles into Nikaido's shoulder, and that's when Senga starts to laugh and cry at the same time.
"I just thought," Yabu says softly, "you know, that we…" He trails off, and Senga squeezes him that much tighter before pushing him back by the shoulders so they can see each other.
"You'll still be 2SHY's Y and H," Senga tells him seriously, "even if you're JUMP's Yabu and Hikaru too. So you have to work really hard and don't embarrass us, okay?"
"Got it," Yabu says, swallowing the rest of his tears and straightening his back.
"And we'll still be behind you," Nikaido informs them, voice thick but firm, "so you can't slack off or we'll definitely catch up!"
"But you won't be able to back for us anymore!" Hikaru finally bursts in, like he suddenly can't contain everything he's been holding in for the last two days. "We won't get to sing together or do the show together or even…" Hikaru has to swallow before he can finish, "…even be on stage together."
Yabu wraps an arm tight around Hikaru's shoulders and gives Senga a wistful smile. "It won't be the same," he agrees. "It won't be like before."
Senga and Nikaido exchange glances, but the smiles they show for Yabu and Hikaru are bright and confident, and without a trace of regret.
"But maybe," Senga says, "it'll be even better."
For a while it definitely is not better, it's lonely and weird, but Senga and Nikaido get to keep on doing some of their duets and back for favorite senpai while Yabu and Hikaru struggle to find footing in their stupidly huge unit. They communicate mainly in scattered mails and silly pictures, and when they happen to pass in the hallways, all four of them paste on brave, adult smiles.
All four of them can see right through the brave, adult smiles, but the thing about it is that when they do it often enough, sooner or later they start to feel just a little braver and a little more adult. Nikaido's certainly glad for the practice putting on a brave face when suddenly it's announced that Kis-My-Ft needs their S back after all.
"Two for one deal, hm?" Kitayama says, he and Fujigaya giving Nikaido a critical up-and-down as if inspecting new merchandise. Next to Nikaido, Senga is preening from the attention, magnifying Nikaido's crankiness by a factor of ten. "I guess when it's a discount you run the risk of damaged goods."
"I'll damage your—" is all Nikaido gets out before Senga stomps on his foot.
"Please take care of us~," Senga chirps.
"Yeah, yeah," Fujigaya waves away Senga's cute like he's trying to ward it off from his retinas. "Just put your skates on and don't break your necks, okay?"
Senga recalls his previous skate training with disgusting ease, gliding after the others in messy figure eights while Nikaido scrambles to catch up. It helps a little that it takes Nikaido about two and a half practices to be a better skater than Tamamori, who's been at it for two years by that point, but for the first couple weeks, most of Nikaido's mails to Hikaru and Yabu consist of pictures of his bruises.
Maybe they'd treat you better if you weren't just the dot, Hikaru theorizes, and Nikaido sends back that he hopes Hikaru takes a volleyball to the face.
"What are you grinning about?" Nikaido asks while the two of them are lacing up their skates.
"I'm happy!" Senga answers, his brave, adult smile not the least bit fake now. "I feel good, like…" Senga pauses, head tilted thoughtfully, "…like I'm where I'm supposed to be right now. Ne, Nika, you're happy too, right?"
Nikaido thinks about it as he yanks his laces tight. His new costume is kind of itchy but the purple swooshes do look cool, and they are getting to do their new song for filming today and he has a solo line in it, and he's pretty sure he can get through the whole choreo without falling on his ass.
"Yeah," Nikaido answers finally, then repeats it more firmly. "Yup, I guess I am." Senga beams at him with such force that Nikaido fumbles the knot he's trying to tie.
"Taipi says hurry up," Miyata leans into the room to call for them, "or he'll make you cry during warm-up."
"He'll do it too," Tamamori advises, although he doesn't seem to be in a particular rush himself.
They clatter to their feet and out into the hall, and are almost at the practice room when they practically run right into Johnny's newest debuted unit, fresh from volleyball promotions.
"Yabucchi!" Senga exclaims in delight, swooping in for a hug and disregarding the half-dozen of Yabu's unitmates that have to dodge to avoid having their toes run over. Nikaido gives Hikaru a lazy V and Hikaru laughs as he returns it.
"I thought maybe you finally had that growth spurt, but guess it's just the skates," Hikaru teases. He and Yabu seem tired still, understandably so, but the edge of desperation is starting to fade, and a knot loosens in Nikaido's chest that he hadn't even realized he'd been carrying around. "Have they given you a letter yet, dot-san?"
"Even better," Nikaido says proudly. "I get a number!"
"Aah, it all makes sense," Yabu puts in. "We're BEST, and you're number 2!"
There's laughing and punching and name-calling, and for just a moment it's the same as it ever was. Then a staff member comes out to remind them this is exactly the sort of thing that they need to avoid during filming, and Fujigaya sticks his head out of the practice room to yell for Nikaido and Senga to get their asses in gear.
They leave with a last smile, Yabu ruffling Senga's hair, Nikaido thwacking his fist solidly against Hikaru's. As they're going their separate ways, Nikaido glances back over his shoulder to see Yabu herding Takaki and Chinen along with practiced ease, Hikaru with a reassuring arm around that tiny Morimoto kid's shoulders. Nikaido files it away in his heart, and when he turns back, Senga is smiling at him, soft around the edges, and Nikaido knows it's the same for him.
"I told you it'd be something good, Nika," Senga says, and he doesn't have to say the for us too for Nikaido to understand. Instead Senga grabs Nikaido's hand and tugs him along to warm-ups without another word, their skates clattering on the linoleum.