Summary: When Kitayama was 18 and Senga was 12, the gap between them seemed like an ocean.
AN: 30 Kisses, day 9. Why do Kitayama's keep turning out all nostalgic? I need to fix that.
Sennen no Love Song
When Kitayama was 18, Senga was 12, and the gap between them would have seemed like an ocean, if they had even known that the other existed.
Kitayama had been a Johnny's for more than a year when Senga joined ("Joined properly," Senga still teases, "not like you."), and if sometimes Kitayama still needs taught things that tiny trainees know, he's comfortable with his place in the company by then. Senga was just one of a sea of new recruits, cute enough to stand out but far too shy to try, at the mercy of older boys or ones who have been in longer, homesick for Nagoya.
Sometimes they tell a story about their first meeting, trainee Senga running smack into Kitayama-senpai in the hallway and stuttering out a terrified apology before having his hair ruffled and his costume corrected. Senga isn't sure which of them invented the story, but he likes it well enough, likes it enough to hope that maybe at least a part of it is true.
When Kitayama was 19, Senga was 13, and the gap between them shrinks unexpectedly when they are put in the same unit.
Kitayama already knows how to skate, and Senga is young enough to pick it up faster than the older boys, unafraid of falling or of looking silly, the kind of kid who loves to please staff and unitmates alike.
Even though Kitayama is in university and Senga not even in high school, Kitayama finds him easy enough to talk to, glimmers of maturity that disappear all too quickly when that Nikaido kid shows up to collect Senga at the end of practice. When they have letter changes and Senga is pulled for something more age-appropriate, Kitayama finds he is a little sad about that, that (especially when Fujigaya is particularly insufferable or Iida sinks into a sulky silent treatment) he misses Senga's easy smile and willingness to throw himself into new things.
When Kitayama was 20 and Senga was 14, Senga comes back to him and Kitayama tells him "Welcome back" and means it (despite the ragtag bunch of weirdoes he brings along with him).
When Kitayama was 21, Senga was 15, and somehow Kitayama finds that he would rather study with Senga than with some of his college friends. Senga cries over geometry sometimes, but at least he doesn't keep stopping after half an hour to try and coax Kitayama into getting drunk the rest of the night.
"Shoo!" Senga scolds, kicking Nikaido out when he isn't any more serious about schoolwork than Kitayama's drunken yearmates, sharing a long-suffering eyeroll with Kitayama when he sits back down at the low table covered in their books and notes and flashcards. And for all that Senga still loves Toku and Shounen Jump, he and Kitayama talk about their choreo and injuries and unitmates as equals, as often or more often than they talk about last week's One Piece episode.
Sometimes, the gap between them is strangely small, before it swells back to normal.
When Kitayama was 23, Senga was 17, cut off from the rest of them by his inability to work Countdown, the last of them to clear that gap.
Kitayama can see that Senga wants to whine and pout about it, especially to Nikaido who has been his partner in crime for all the missed Countdowns before, but he can equally see Senga struggling to hold that inside, to just endure this one last time. It strikes him all at once, like a thunderbolt, how close to adulthood Senga is, how soon he'll lose the very last of his babyfat and early nights and whatever innocence he's kept for himself all this time.
It makes Senga squawk, but Kitayama pinches his cute cheeks while he still can, then just grins when Senga demands to know what that was for. Senga gets his revenge by mastering their new skating crossover on the first try and then laughing about leaving Kitayama in the dust.
Pride assuaged, five minutes later he is teaching Kitayama himself, just as happy leading as being led, and Kitayama can't wait until next New Year's.
When Kitayama was 25, Senga was 19, and that was the year when they learned they'd be together forever, all of them, and the gap between them was only as much as is between them when Senga throws himself into Kitayama's arms and squeezes him tight.
"Leader," Senga murmurs against his chest, and it's not the first time he's said it, joking or serious, but this time Kitayama doesn't argue with him. This time, Kitayama just squeezes him back as tightly as he can, because Senga is one of the people who have been teaching him about strength all this time.
He is glad for the lesson, when there is delay after delay, when their costumes don't match and their new songs are strange, because they are strong enough together. He thinks about 13-year-old Senga falling on his face and getting up laughing, and he looks at the Senga who stands beside him every day, and he understands that they can be strong enough for this too, that from now on they all get to grow up together.
Now Kitayama is 27 and Senga is 21, and if Senga still cutely calls Kitayama "big brother" and "senpai" and "Leader" sometimes, Kitayama considers them equals in every way that matters and a lot more that don't. Senga is only ever as far away as Kitayama's own heart, where Kitayama keeps him always, and the other members too.
"What are you thinking about?" Senga asks, creepily perceptive when it comes to the other members, concerned always with their mood and condition and well-being. He pokes Kitayama's cheek. "You look funny."
Kitayama opens his mouth to say that it's nothing, and then changes his mind, just because it's Senga. "I was thinking about the gap between you and me. That it used to be so wide, when you joined, but now you're standing right beside me, even though we're the same six years apart."
For a moment, they look at each other, and Kitayama sees understanding in Senga's eyes, and gratefulness and pride and happiness. He knows Senga has gotten his whole message, as incompletely as he expressed it.
Senga grins. "Life is mysterious, right, Leader?"
On impulse, Kitayama leans in to kiss Senga, wanting to communicate in touch as well as words. He means it to only last a second, but Senga reaches up to press a palm to Kitayama's cheek, holding them there, holding their connection, for just a little longer.
When he pulls away, Kitayama growls softly that Senga is spending too much time with Takizawa, and Senga bursts into laughter.