Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for Yara during massage therapy
Summary: The year of the Dragon is a tough one when you're a Dog.
AN: When yararanger revealed to me that Yara was a dog like me, and Yamaryo was a snake, there was no way I couldn't write this. Also, most of these things (esp the inescapable conversations and the whole massage therapist thing) have happened to me directly since the Chinese new year rolled over. Being a dog in a dragon year sucks, dude.
Year of the Dragon
Yara wakes slowly to the sound of Yamamoto clicking around on his phone. When he peels his eyes open, Yamamoto is bathed in blueish light from the screen in the early morning dark, shooting Yara concerned looks every now and again.
"What on earth," Yara clears his throat, "are you doing?"
"Happy year of the dragon?" Yamamoto offers. He doesn't sound that happy about it, though, so Yara raises an eyebrow. "Ah, but you're a dog, so…"
"So?" Yara prompts. His brain is still fuzzy with sleep, making it impossible for him to work out whether it will be faster to fall back asleep in the middle of Yamamoto's explanation or to push him down to the mattress and shut him up manually.
"Dogs and dragons aren't compatible, right?" Yamamoto peers at the phone some more. "Seems like it'll be a rough year, ne. Only one favorable month."
"Which one?" Yara wants to know, and when Yamamoto reports that it doesn't say, he snorts. "Of course it doesn't. Put that away, idiot. Leave the superstitious junk to Nika-chan and go back to sleep."
"But career and romance are both at stake!" Yamamoto protests, clutching his phone tighter. "It could be a dangerous year for you!"
"Yeah? What about you?" Yara asks.
"Eh?" Yamamoto blinks. "Uh, I'm a snake, so…doesn't look too bad for me…"
"Great, you can protect me," Yara yawns, and when Yamamoto goes back to blathering about specifics, he sighs. "Looks like it's the manual method after all."
"Huh?" Yamamoto asks, but then Yara knocks the phone out of his hand and yanks him down by the wrist, and after that Yamamoto can only make muffled noises against Yara's mouth for the next little while.
Then Yara overbalances, having mis-judged how close to the edge of the bed Yamamoto was sitting, and tumbles off the side and onto the floor with a whump.
"Ow," Yara complains, a huge bruise surely forming on his ass at that very second. Sourly, he thinks about the possibility of a limp and knowing glances from the rest of THEY and everyone else.
Yamamoto's head appears over the edge of the bed, eyes wide with concern. "See?! It's starting already!"
Roundly ignoring Yamamoto's groundless flailing, Yara crawls back into bed and redoubles his efforts, because he'll be damned if he's going to be the only one limping during practice.
"I don't want to hear it," Yara says wearily during the lunch break, making Yamamoto close his mouth with a snap. "It's just a bad day, that's all."
So maybe he forgot his wallet at home, and maybe he broke the zipper of his favorite hoodie, and maybe he tripped over nothing during a totally normal twist-turn-shimmy and now his ankle is aching dully, but stuff like that just happens sometimes.
Maybe not so much of it in a row, usually, but still, Yara remains sure it has nothing to do with dragons, inauspicious as the start of this year has been so far.
"Here," Yamamoto presses one of the cans of soda he's holding against Yara's ankle gently. Yara's hackles smooth enough to offer Yamamoto a wry smile. Yamamoto hands Yara the other can to drink, apparently not minding that his own drink is at the moment occupied. "I told you," he scolds gently, "be more careful this year. We need you!"
"We?" Yara leans a little closer. Yamamoto's cheeks turn pink and he stares at his hand on Yara's ankle, but he doesn't move away.
"I want Yaracchi in one piece, is all." Yamamoto manages to drag his eyes up to Yara's when Yara doesn't answer right away, then fumbles the can in his hands when he sees the way Yara is looking at him.
It hits the floor with a clatter and rolls off, but Yara doesn't pay it any mind.
"Do you, now?" he chuckles, trivial matters like a tweaked ankle forgotten when his little snake says such cute things.
They knock over his open soda in the process, but Yara hardly cares about that either, at least at first. He isn't best pleased when they realize at the end of the break that his T-shirt is now soaked with cola, and he has no choice but to return to practice in just his sweatpants and his unzipperable hoodie.
It's just an off day, he keeps insisting, but it just won't quit the next day or the day after, or the day after that, until it's been an off week, and even the densest junior can't help but notice.
"Here, Yara-senpai," Hashimoto says, holding out a lime-green rabbit's foot. "I think you need this more than me."
Yara draws a deep, calming breath and tries to ignore the way he can hear Watanabe and Fukuzawa off to the side, arguing about who has to stand next to Yara in formation and risk being too close to the bad luck vortex.
Half a dozen deep breaths later, he really doesn't feel any better and finally he yells "KNOCK IT OFF," making both Snowmen jump with an "Eep!" apiece.
But he only gets about twenty seconds worth of satisfaction out of it, before Hashimoto starts yammering on about some thing or other, and just will not stop. Yara tries several times to draw the conversation to a close without any effect. He goes back to stretching, but Hashimoto just starts stretching as well, still talking, and when Yara even tries physically relocating himself, Hashimoto just trails along beside, still running his mouth at a hundred kmh. At one point Goseki strolls by, catching Yara's eye over Hashimoto's shoulder and Yara begs for mercy with his expression.
It's to no avail, though; Goseki likes Yara's pain far too much to save him.
Finally, Totsuka hollers for Hashimoto, wanting to know where he's been all this time, practice was due to start twenty minutes ago!
"Ah, sorry!" Hashimoto calls back, dashing off, and it's only because he's just out of arms' reach that Yara doesn't strangle him when he qualifies that with, "But it wasn’t my fault, Yara-san was talking to me!"
The next day it happens with Sakuma, and a few days later with a stylist who keeps talking while she's been flat-ironing his hair so long that even Fujigaya would want to kill himself. The next week it's some junior so little that Yara can't even name him, although by the end of the conversation he sure has the kid's current Pokemon line-up memorized.
"Ah, but communication is free-flowing in a Dragon year, isn't it?" Takizawa asks when Yara has been forced to take refuge in his dressing room to keep from being cornered yet again. "Especially since it’s a water year, ne."
"You're enjoying this, you bastard," Yara accuses, expression souring all the more when Takizawa only laughs.
Then he gives Yara a week's worth of updates on the successes of Tsubasa's flexibility training.
Stress begins to take physical toll on Yara eventually, until the dull but persistent ache in his back forces Yara to spend his lunch break seeking out the guy who knows more about muscles than anybody else in the whole company.
"Yara-san!" Hashimoto greets, looking up from his DS when Yara sticks his head into A.B.C.-Z's dressing room. "Is the rabbit's foot helping?"
"Not so much," Yara answers, wary of being caught in another infinite conversational loop.
"Aw, it was the green one and everything," Hashimoto pouts, but he doesn't explain what, if any, benefit the color is supposed to provide.
Fortunately, rather than debate the merits of various-colored feet, Yara spots just the person he's looking for. "Tsuka-chan! Can I borrow your hands a couple minutes?"
In no time at all Tsukada has Yara shirtless and face-down on the floor, but it isn't fun like the last time Yara found himself in the same position in this dressing room.
"OW," Yara complains when Tsukada isolates exactly the muscle in question and digs his thumbs in. Hard.
Tsukada whistles. "No kidding, I can barely budge this thing. Have you been stretching properly?"
"Of course I have," Yara snaps, gritting his teeth as Tsukada leans into it.
"Before any kind of strenuous physical activity?" He rocks up a little, the heel of his palm taking all his weight and making Yara's eyes water. "Don't bother lying, Yaracchi, your muscles are telling me their whole story. Their sad, sad story."
"Maybe not every kind," Yara admits, thinking about last week in the snower, or maybe a few days ago in the mirrored practice room. "OW."
"Hmm," Tsukada says, and not in the tone of voice that anybody wants to hear his massage therapist say "Hmm" in. "I can loosen you up a little bit for now, but you didn't get this way in a half-hour and I can't fix it in one either."
"And you're doing shows," Yara remembers with a groan. "None of our rehearsals overlap for ages."
"Mn, we need a pinch hitter. Somebody who can take care of you regularly." Tsukada chuckles. "Maybe somebody who already takes care of you regularly? Ah, Hasshi-chan, do me a favor, run and fetch Yamamoto-kun for us?"
"Sure, Tsuka-chan." Hashimoto snaps shut his DS and hops up, then trots out the door on his assigned mission.
A few minutes later, Yara is in the middle of cursing Tsukada's ancestors when Hashimoto returns, Yamamoto in tow.
"Lower right again?" Yamamoto sighs when he gets a look at Yara's position. He plops himself down next to Tsukada. "I told you that you needed to stretch!"
"Your grandmother was a leper," is Yara's growled response to that.
"You helped fuck it up, you're gonna help fix it," Tsukada informs Yamamoto. He taps the particular muscle in question with a couple fingers. "Put the heel of your palm here and push."
"Ow," Yara complains.
"Harder," Tsukada corrects.
"Tsuka-chan, I don't think I can…"
"OW MOTHERFUCKING OW!"
"Yup," Tsukada says, satisfied, "just like that."
Yara rolls out from Yamamoto's hands to glare at them, watery-eyed and baleful, ready to beg for mercy or give up sex in the mirrored practice room or anything if it will make them stop.
"Wah, I'm sorry!" Yamamoto wails. "He made me! I didn't hurt you, did I?!"
"Did you hear me say 'ow motherfucking ow?'" Yara demands, but he heaves a sigh when that just makes Yamamoto flail all the harder in distress. "Whatever, it's not like you could make it worse." He sits up and arches his spine, testing the pull of the muscle. "It's a little looser," he admits, then adds a grudging. "Thank you."
"Every night," Tsukada warns Yamamoto. "Even if he yells at you. Especially if he yells, because that probably means you're doing it right."
"Got it," Yamamoto nods seriously. "Ne, Tsuka-chan, do you think we'll have to give up the mirrored practice room?"
"Oi!" Yara protests, forgetting all about his previous vows in the face of Yamamoto looking so worried, Tsukada looking vaguely discouraging, and Hashimoto suddenly finding his way into their conversation.
"How's it feel now?" Yamamoto asks nearly a week later, hands stroking steadily over Yara's back, warm and gentle as if making up for the abuse Yara's been receiving from them for days now.
"S'better," Yara mumbles, face-down in the blankets, and it's not entirely a lie. It sure doesn't feel good when Yamamoto follows Tsukada's recommended regimen, but his back hasn't been bothering him so much that it's affecting his dance during the day, so that's improvement at least.
It's still a struggle, like everything seems to be recently, and Yara feels too exhausted to even pick up his head when Yamamoto's hands leave his skin, or even when Yamamoto's weight leaving the mattress makes it shift. He wonders vaguely where Yamamoto is off, but it doesn't seem worth the effort to life his head to see.
He'll be back, Yara figures. Yamamoto never can resist taking advantage of Yara when he's in a weakened state like this.
Sure enough, after a couple minutes, Yara hears Yamamoto's bare feet padding across his floor, stopping just next to the bed.
"Roll over," Yamamoto commands.
"Again?" Yara huffs a sigh, even as he complies, eyes still shut. "Not that I mind when you do all the work up there, Ryota, but I'm exhau—"
He cuts off as something light and smooth is set down on his chest, the light touch of scales familiar and immediately recognizable.
"Chura?" Yara opens his eyes to find his girl eyeing him back evenly. She flickers her tongue against his sternum as if in greeting, whisper-gentle against his skin. "Hi there, pretty lady."
Yamamoto slides back into bed next to Yara, curling up close against Yara's side and reaching over to stroke a gentle finger down Chura's back.
"I thought maybe if you had your snakes to rub off on you, it might keep you safer in the dragon year," Yamamoto explains, rubbing his cheek against Yara's shoulder. "Chura said she'd help. Also, the internet said you should wear a wave-shaped accessory, so…" Yamamoto chuckled at his own cleverness.
"As if you've never rubbed off on me before," Yara says dryly, getting a pouty "Hey!" from Yamamoto. Chura rolls her eyes (Yara can definitely tell). "But thanks all the same. I suppose it can't hurt to be snake-scented this year."
"Mmm," Yamamoto hums, like that's all settled, and goes from stroking Chura's spine to the curve of Yara's ribcage with the same feather-light caress. Warmth spreads over Yara's skin gradually from Yamamoto and Chura's gentle touches, and safe and relaxed as he is, Yara has hope, however small, that he just might survive this entire year.
Or then again, Yara reconsiders the next day as an anxious knot of juniors forces a tearful Taiga to explain that they meant to mail the your mother joke to Machida-san with Yara's phone and Matchy-sama just happened to be next to it on his contacts list, maybe survival is too much to hope for after all.