Rating/Warnings: G? PG? Fujigaya curses a couple times (I blame Koki).
Summary: For Kis-My-Ft2, the moment when the reality of debut sinks in is different for all of them, but they all end up in the same place in the end.
AN: I really wanted to write something for debut day, and I didn't quite finish on time, but it's still 8/10 someplace, right? I guess the inspiration for this is that I keep thinking I'm going to have a big moment when debut is 'real' but instead I keep having little moments where it sort of creeps in. Also some of the things are taken from this interview where Kisumai talks about their memories and feelings about debut. Title from Kisumai's b-side "Wakamonotachi" (waaah, they have b-sides ♥).
A Journey Without a Map
For Kitayama, it's real the moment he reads the words on the paper, from the very first moment. It isn't the same for all of them, he realizes later when they're backstage and trying to pull themselves together for second show. The others talk about it, the ones who can talk without working themselves into tears, in hushed voices, like it's a bubble that will pop, or a dream they'll startle themselves out of if they get too excited.
Yokoo mumbles something about Takizawa, and the rest of the group shifts uncomfortably for a second.
Maybe the difference is that he was holding the envelope in his hands, that he had something physical to touch, or maybe the difference is just him. Kitayama's always been a concrete, black-and-white kind of guy, not given to worrying or doubt; when he'd said he was aiming for debut he'd meant it, never mind about his age or the member changes or their silly initial name.
So now that it's actually here, words from Johnny-san himself, Kitayama has no doubts at all.
Because it isn't like he has room for doubt with the other emotions crowding it out, joy and relief and satisfaction and resolution. And then suddenly it's like his body isn't big enough to contain it (if only he had those damn ten extra centimeters), and Kitayama does the thing that always makes him feel best.
He doesn't run, he flies, like he's still on skates, the faces and the roar of the crowd a blur in front of his eyes, until he reaches center stage, hollering into his microphone because even running isn't enough. He turns, and his unit is already gathering in the middle of the stage, whooping and hugging, even Fujigaya.
And the thing that strikes him the most is that not a single one of them is crying, that as overwhelming as the moment is, after all their work and all this time, every eye is dry. For Kitayama, it's because debut isn't his goal at all, but what comes after. He hasn't been sure about all of them, wasn't sure what would happen when debut wasn't the thing that they were all pointed towards, but now he can see their determination. He can see that they feel the same as he does, that they're ready to start running too.
Not running. Flying.
They're waiting for him, Kitayama realizes, joy chasing wildly over his skin, they're his and everything is in front of him.
No choice then but to run for it, since after all of this it isn't going to be Kitayama that keeps them waiting.
"Don't worry," the staff member says when the delay of their schedule is brought to them officially, "it's just a delay. The schedule has changed, but it's still for sure."
Relief flashes hot and cold over Senga's skin, turning his knees weak and dropping him into his chair, and that's the moment when he realizes their debut is for real. He tries to get a hold on himself, telling himself you're being ridiculous and drawing deep breaths, but the tears well up anyway, all the more for their delay.
"Kenpi?" Nikaido is hovering over Senga suddenly, of course, and Senga would curse if he could get the words around the lump in this throat.
"M'fine," he grunts as he scrubs at his eyes with his sleeve. Thankfully the staff member is occupied talking details with Kitayama and Fujigaya while the others are listening in, so Senga is only embarrassing himself in front of Nikaido, which is certainly nothing new.
Nikaido is still peering down at him in concern.
"I just," Senga swallows hard and swipes away the last of his tears, "just now, I felt so relieved, and I realized how scared I must have been to feel like that, and if I could feel that much about something…it didn't feel real until just now, but it is, right, Nika?"
"What?" Nikaido shifts a little under the intensity of Senga's watery grin. "Of course it is. Aw, Kenpi, geez, pull yourself together." But he's smiling back too, just a little.
"We're debuting," Senga says, like he's testing it out, because saying it out loud isn't at all the same as reading it or mailing it or listening to Kitayama yell it to seventeen thousand fans packed in an arena. "Nika, we're debuting!"
"Way to get on board, moron," Nikaido says, but he doesn't argue when Senga throws arms around his waist and squeezes him as tightly as he can.
Miyata is more than a little pleased by their wardrobe for the cover shoot. He'd been worried, it's Johnny's after all, but the black and white theme suits all of them, the leather pants and graphic T-shirts making all of them look like…well, like idols.
Even him. Miyata examines himself in the mirror unabashedly, totally satisfied with how the tight pants make his legs lengthen, how the cut of the T-shirt shows off his collarbones, how none of the accessories have poofy feathers or anything. He looks good, even if he isn't at all sure how that happened.
"Guess you're an idol after all, hm?" Kitayama asks as he hip-checks Miyata over enough to use the mirror himself. A glance over his shoulder shows Tamamori and Fujigaya monopolizing the other ones, unsurprisingly.
It's an old joke in the group, and Miyata chuckles. "Seems like I am. Mostly I'm just glad the cover concept looks good on all of us. But maybe I was worried most of all about myself~."
Miyata is not prepared for Kitayama to suddenly burst into laughter, hard enough that he can't even get words out at first when Miyata asks what that's about.
"Holy shit," Kitayama manages after a couple tries. "Your shirt! You totally can't read that, can you?" His laughter renews when Miyata blinks down at his shirt in puzzlement.
"N…no?" He squints, like that'll help. It can't say anything too awful for their album booklet, right? He sounds out the letters mentally, with little success, or at least little enough that he can't see why Kitayama is practically peeing himself. "Something about beer?"
Kitayama is actually doubled over at this point, hands on his knees trying to keep himself upright. "It says 'Titties and beer!' You know, like breasts? Oh my god, Taisuke, get over here!"
"Does it?" Miyata asks, dismayed. He knows that the staff probably reads about as much English as he does, but it's hard not to feel like he's purposely being made the butt of the joke like usual. "For our single cover and everything…"
And that, of all moments, is when it sinks in for Miyata that this whole thing is real, that they're being photographed for their single cover, for their single, with their leather pants and Tamamori's new eyebrows and Fujigaya's drama hair and his stupid T-shirt and everything, they'll be preserved just like they are forever, right there on the glossy paper behind the plastic.
"Did you make him cry right before our shoot?" Fujigaya demands, giving Kitayama's shoulder a rough shove. "What the fuck, Mitsu?"
"No!" Kitayama protests, laughter cutting off as he shoulders Fujigaya back. "Look at his…fuck, what are you crying for?"
Miyata reaches up to his cheek and is puzzled when his fingertips come away wet. His laugh comes out watery as he scrubs at his eyes with the heel of his palm. "I'm not sure? It's our cover shoot! For our single!"
"No shit!" Fujigaya's voice comes out snappish, betraying his own nerves. "Stop that right now, you've already got makeup on!"
"Okay, okay," Miyata says dutifully, trying to obey without getting smudges of eyeliner all over his shirt.
Surprisingly, it's Kitayama who seems to understand what Miyata's outburst is about, even though Miyata himself doesn't quite. "You realized all at once, right? That it's real. The songs and the recording and the practices, we've done all those before. This is the first new thing, after all, a thing juniors can't do."
Miyata nods, that's it exactly. He's stunned for a second, and so glad, for how Kitayama sees through them sometimes, how easily Kitayama puts things into words when they need him to. "Ah, you got it. That's just like Leader, isn't it."
"Shit, don't start calling him that." Fujigaya rolls his eyes hugely, still scowling at the both of them. "Tama! Get over here and straighten him out, can't you?!"
"Whaaaat," Tamamori protests, shuffling over. He looks Miyata over from smudged eye shadow to watery grin to leather pants, clicking his tongue. "You know your shirt is talking about tits, right?"
Fujigaya squawks, Kitayama and Miyata both crack up laughing, and Tamamori asks what they even called him over here for in the first place.
Yokoo's moment happens when he's alone.
He'd thought it wouldn't feel real until the single was actually out, but it takes him by surprise when he makes a chance trip to Shibuya to shop for a friend's birthday present. He comes out of the Hachiko exit thinking about nothing in particular except whether he can get his errand done and get back to the station before it starts raining.
He glances up to check the sky, and there they are.
His face is on a billboard in Shibuya, and Yokoo freezes in place, staring up at Fujigaya's old hair and that stupid thunderbolt while a river of people stream around him.
"I made it," he says to himself, and then he has to close his eyes a moment against the rush of relief that somehow he did make it after all, that he's safe.
It's because of them, Yokoo knows, and he opens his eyes again to see them up there, looking back down at him. It's something he couldn't have done on his own, couldn't have done with any other group (and he'd know, about other groups). They decided that it if wasn't all seven of them then it wasn't any good, and somehow still made it. Maybe because of it, Yokoo isn't sure.
"Thank you," he tells them, then he pulls his gaze down, smiling as he goes on his way. He's got the rest of forever to prove to them that they made the right choice for their Y, and he won't let them down.
"Why do they keep doing that?" Fujigaya explodes when it's just the two of them, making Tamamori jump.
"What?" Tamamori asks nervously.
"Replacing your voice with mine!" Fujigaya kicks at the leg of the table they're sitting at. "Isn't it making you crazy? You're the fucking lead singer, for fuck's sake!"
"It's okay?" Tamamori shrugs, and his complacence sometimes drives Fujigaya the most insane of all. "I'm only fake lead singer, so it's not surprising they keep just using you."
"But you sound good!" Fujigaya snaps, trying to get a grip on himself. It isn't Tamamori's fault after all, it's not him Fujigaya wants to yell at when Tamamori's the one putting in all the hours of vocal practice and working like a dog, but Fujigaya as usual has a limited amount of 'grin and bear it' and his quota, today, is full. "You sound fucking better than I do!"
"Sorry?" Tamamori tries to edge his chair away without Fujigaya noticing, and Fujigaya just gives him a black look. "Aw, Taipi, it's always like this, calm down."
He's right, and that doesn't make Fujigaya want to calm down at all. It feels like it's the same all over, the drama, the vocals for all their new songs, the choreography for the concerts. No matter how hard the others work or how good they sound (and they sound a hell of a lot better than a whole lot of certain senpai Fujigaya could name), everything lately has been him and Kitayama and now sometimes Tamamori jammed in.
"It feels like it used to," Fujigaya says, grinding his teeth a little but lowering his voice. "It feels like it did at the beginning, when they wouldn't let you do anything and…" And the truth is that early on Fujigaya didn't care about that even a little bit, was perfectly happy for the solo lines and the spotlight and the attention focused squarely on him.
Maybe that's why it feels that much more unpleasant now, because it reminds him of how childish and selfish he used to be, selfish enough to nearly quit just because he wasn't getting his way all of the time.
He picked a hell of a time to grow up, it feels like.
"It's just debut," Tamamori counsels, reaching over to squeeze Fujigaya's shoulder, the touch unusual enough to make Fujigaya blink through his irritation. "Isn't it just that they don't want to give new fans too many people to focus on? Seven is a lot, ne."
"Seven is exactly the right number!" Fujigaya snaps. He wants to shout at the staff, at the choreographs and the vocal coaches and the idiot newspaper reporters, that they're not three plus four, they're not some guys with permanent backers, they're seven, and it's seven or nothing! "Why does this suck? Debut's supposed to be awesome!"
"Because it's the beginning," Tamamori shrugs again, "not the end."
Putting aside for a moment the fact that somehow Tamamori has become the voice of reason, fuck his life, Fujigaya chews on that for a bit, while they do promo shots and script run-throughs and wardrobe adjustments.
This is the real thing, is Fujigaya's epiphany. All the things they've done together until now, it's all been practice, but practice time is over. If they're going to show the world who Kis-My-Ft2 is, then they have to take hold, it's something they have to do themselves. And if the staff and the reporters and even Johnny himself won't listen, then they'll just have to make them see, they'll have to make it so that none of them can be ignored.
That's their responsibility. That's debut.
"So this whole thing," Fujigaya says a few days later when he's managed to squeeze in dinner with a favorite senpai, fiddling with his glass, "it's different than I thought."
"You figured that out so fast?" Koki reaches across the table to muss up Fujigaya's hair roughly, making him whine and push against Koki's hand. "That's why you're my favorite kouhai, yo!"
"Quiiit," Fujigaya protests; Koki gives him a last scrunch before leaning back in his seat. "Why didn't you warn me, though? KAT-TUN has the same problem, right?"
"It's the sort of thing you have to figure out for yourself." Koki chuckles, and it's sheepish rather than amused. "It took us a lot longer, though. So don't waste the extra time, you."
"Got it," Fujigaya nods, determined not to waste a single second of it.
Being a drama lead, Tamamori sighs to himself as he tries to keep his eyes from falling shut instead of reading his script, is fucking hard.
The hours are endless, he's got about ten million lines, they keep expecting him to be cool and funny and interesting during interviews, and he doesn't even get to drive the hot car his character supposedly owns. His face won't stop breaking out and he's losing a ton of weight, and even when he gets a few hours to sleep, he's too jangled to do it properly, waking himself up over and over with nightmares of missing cues and bumbling lines and breaking Takimoto-san's nose.
So it's kind of funny that, somehow, the concert weekends are actually like breaks.
Tamamori doesn't appreciate it at first, since everything is through a haze of pressure and exhaustion, but little things penetrate his fog.
At the airport Kitayama takes point with the staff naturally, distributing boarding passes and letting them know the schedules, while Yokoo distributes gum so nobody's eardrums explode. He takes one look at Tamamori before rifling around in his bag a second time; Tamamori swallows whatever Yokoo hands him without question.
Tamamori naps during the flight, Miyata's shoulder more than comfortable enough and Miyata's left earbud tucked firmly in his ear, because who even knows what he's done with his own iPod, and Nikaido shakes them both awake when it's time to turn off their electronic devices.
At the venue, Senga pulls Tamamori and Fujigaya aside to try and catch them up on the concert practices they've been missing. Tamamori certainly is not at his best, but Senga is endlessly patient, and more importantly knows which things Tamamori has a hope of mastering and remembering before that night, and which things they'll have to let go.
Tamamori has to borrow sweatpants from Miyata and hairpins from Fujigaya and deodorant from Senga, and by the tenth time he says "Um…does anybody have…" even the staff is laughing at him.
"What did you even pack in there?" Nikaido demands, leaning over to peer in Tamamori's bag, and since Tamamori threw it together at four in the morning before filming, he really doesn't know. At least the costumes are the staff's problem, so all Tamamori has to do once the concert starts is take off his pants at the right time. Even a trainee can handle that much.
That night, for the first time in a month, Tamamori curls up in bed and sleeps like a rock. He doesn't even bother setting an alarm, because Miyata will wake him up in plenty of time.
The next morning he feels like he might not drop dead at any moment, like he can think again, and what he thinks about is how suddenly everything is reversed. All this time, all these years, he's spent worrying about Kis-My-Ft2, about his place in the group, about what will happen to him and them and if they can ever, ever be good enough. If he could ever be good enough for them.
Right now, he realizes, he doesn't have to worry about them at all. They're right here, something solid and real that he can come back to after he goes out and does these crazy, hellish projects on his own, and they'll know exactly where Tamamori fits in when he does come back. Kis-My-Ft2 is the one thing in the whole world that he doesn't have to worry about.
They're permanent, the realization dawns suddenly on Tamamori, leaving him awed and breathless. That's the magic of debut, that he can do anything, and they'll be right here, always.
"Tama-chan?" Miyata interrupts Tamamori's thoughts, and Tamamori realizes that he's been sitting with the same bite of his lunch on his chopsticks for who knows how long. Miyata's lips are pursed in concern. "Are you really all right? Should I go ask Watta for something? Your cheeks are all pink."
Tamamori drops his chopstick and throws his arms around Miyata to hug him tightly, just because he's closest really, and says that he's fine, he's just happy that concert weekends are totally relaxing.
"Oookay," Miyata pats Tamamori's back awkwardly. "I think maybe another nap before show time might be a good idea…"
It's not something that he's said out loud to anybody, but for Nikaido, it's not debut until it's debut.
The others probably know him well enough to understand that's how he feels; Senga definitely does. Senga's the only one who teases him outright, at least, but it's okay if it's Senga. He's long used to Nikaido's superstition side, unsurprised by it no matter how it manifests.
Anyway, isn't it natural to worry about important things? It's always made Nikaido twitchy when people talked about debut directly, and doubly so to talk about their own. The fact that Kitayama talked about wanting to debut bluntly has made Nikaido shudder more than once, his nervousness obvious enough that one time Kitayama had stood in front of Nikaido with arms crossed and made him say out loud that he wanted to debut over and over, until Kitayama actually believed it.
It's one of those memories that'll probably be a good one later, Nikaido thinks. After it's all said and done.
And maybe, when Nikaido's being entirely honestly with himself, it isn't entirely worry about getting to debut safely, maybe some of it is fear of what comes next as well. Their job as juniors, as backers and kouhai and crewmembers on the fair ship Takizawa, those are jobs and responsibilities they know inside and out. From now on, Nikaido doesn't know exactly what will be expected of them. For now, it's all he can do to have faith in Kisumai's power and to focus on what's in front of him with all of his energy.
Recognizing his fears and moving past them, Nikaido thinks that's part of becoming an adult. Maybe he should work on that.
As they get closer and closer, recording and photoshoots and PV all done, concerts started, Nikaido's feelings don't change, although Senga's teasing ratchets up a couple notches.
"Now?" Senga presses after the concert where they found cds in their baskets, tucked neatly in with their towels. He gives an exaggerated sigh when Nikaido shakes his head. "Nika, you're holding the single in your hands."
"It's not debut until it's debut," Nikaido replies, stubborn. It isn't like he's being unreasonable just to do it, it's just that he can think of any number of things that might go wrong at the last second, that have already gone wrong, stumbling blocks and delays and false starts.
"Don't be so scared," Senga says, expression softening, letting his head fall so that his cheek rests on Nikaido's shoulder. He matches his breathing to Nikaido's, whether because he thinks it'll be comforting or just because it's something Senga does, Nikaido hasn't ever figured out. "You should be happy. You should be excited."
"I am, I am," Nikaido assures, and he is. "I'm those things too." Maybe Senga sees it as a problem, but Nikaido doesn't, comfortable with his feelings. And the fear isn't for himself anyway, it's for Kis-My-Ft2.
He thinks it's entirely natural to worry about something you love.
They aren't the kind of group that does things together outside of work, but it seems only right that they should be together for this. Kitayama's couch can hold four of them at a squeeze, but Nikaido and Senga take the floor anyway, happier for the space to shoulder at each other. There's more relocation anyway when Fujigaya and Tamamori stumble in, Miyata sliding to the floor so that Tamamori can collapse with his head in Miyata's lap, Fujigaya taking his spot with an exhausted groan as his head falls back against the cushions.
They're all gathered around a screen, but instead of the television it's Kitayama's laptop, the Avex site clicking down inexorably their last hours as juniors. They try to chat normally, but it's tough, and the conversation wanes more often than it waxes.
When it gets down to a couple minutes, Miyata shakes Tamamori awake and Yokoo jostles Fujigaya to make sure. Kitayama plays host and makes sure everybody still has beer to toast with. Senga presses closer to Nikaido's side, and Nikaido feels him shivering when he wraps an arm around Senga's shoulders.
When the counter hits all zeros, the whoop Fujigaya gives nearly makes Nikaido jump out of his skin, makes Tamamori break into cackles when Nikaido sloshes half his beer over himself and a surprised Senga. Whatever, he figures as they kampai communally, it wouldn't be them if there weren't some sort of disaster and nudity.
"Now, Nika?" Senga asks right away.
"Now." Nikaido takes a deep breath and lets go of his worry as best he can, and the space it leaves behind is filled with relief and happiness. Right now, this moment, for the foreseeable future, they're all here, they're all safe. "Now it's debut."
"Of course it is," Kitayama leans over them, making them both lean their heads back to see him. "I told you it would be, you weren't doubting Leader, were you, Nika-chan?"
"Oh my god," Fujigaya groans, "somebody make him shut his face."
Kitayama tells him he can try it and Yokoo in between them says that's enough, thank you, and on the floor Tamamori is already close enough to unconsciousness that Miyata barely grabs his drink in time, and next to Nikaido Senga is laughing and stripping off his shirt to try and mop up the mess of Nikaido and his beer.
"Honestly," Kitayama sighs, "can I really work with you guys?"
"No choice now," Nikaido says, and suddenly he's grinning so hard it kind of hurts. Beside him, Senga gives up on the beer and the shirt and just collapses against Nikaido's side. "Now you're stuck with us."
"Mm." Kitayama surveys the trainwreck of his unit and his living room, but when his gaze meets Nikaido's, he looks pretty satisfied. "I guess it can't be helped."
Eventually Kitayama tries to throw them all out of his apartment, and the couple of them who are still conscious laugh in his face, and Nikaido lets his eyes fall shut and his breathing match Senga's beside him and thinks that as debuts go, this one is going all right so far.