And the last 3k of all of Taipi's pain went really really fast. SORRY TAIPI.
Back to Chapter 4
5) You kissed for real?!
For a few days after he realized how he felt about Kitayama, Fujigaya spent all his time waiting for the other shoe to fall, for his bandmates to call him out on his obvious feelings, for Kitayama to look right through him as she sometimes did. Once or twice he’d looked up to find Kitayama staring at him in an even and thoughtful way, and been sure that’s what she was about to do, but each time she only nodded at him and went back to whatever she was doing.
In the end, it was Senga who read him the most easily.
“You’ve been weird all week,” Senga said, sitting on the edge of Fujigaya’s bed without invitation and swinging his feet. He’d come in without knocking while Fujigaya was working at his desk and sat down, and now was watching Fujigaya expectantly.
“Ken-chan, I’m working,” Fujigaya tried to brush him off. “Maybe later, okay?”
“Wouldn’t you work a lot better if you told me what was bugging you so much?” Senga coaxed, totally well-versed in Fujigaya’s methods of avoidance, damn him. “Come on, you’ll feel better.”
“How do you even do that?” Fujigaya demanded, dropping his pencil and turning to face Senga squarely.
“I read your aura,” Senga said seriously, reaching over as if palming the air around him, making ‘hmm I see’ noises. He broke down into giggles when Fujigaya glared at him, and dropped his hands. “I just know you, okay? You’ve been quiet, and you aren’t bitching at Tama or Hiro nearly as much as usual, and when Yokoo-san comes by to pressure you, you just take it.” He lifted his hands to say, see, easy. “So it must be pretty serious.”
“I don’t know,” Fujigaya lied, even though it wasn’t like Senga wouldn’t be able to see that he was lying. “I’ve been thinking about what we’re going to do from here on out.”
“See, that part was true,” Senga said with approval. “Us? Sunshine?”
Fujigaya nodded, keeping his eyes on the carpet.
“Hiro too?” Senga asked. Fujigaya hesitated, then nodded again. “Good. I thought you’d be all a mess once you figured out you liked her.” Fujigaya jerked his head up to blink at Senga, eyes wide. Senga tutted. “Oh, is that all? You only just realized, huh.”
“A little bit ago.” Fujigaya shifted in his chair, uncomfortable talking about this out loud. He liked stewing in silence and feeling sorry for himself much better. He gave Senga a challenging look. “I’m not going to confess to her or anything ridiculous, so don’t even suggest it.”
“Haha,” Senga laughed, making Fujigaya frown harder. Senga held up his hands in surrender. “I wasn’t going to suggest that at all! You definitely shouldn’t do that.”
“Why not?” Fujigaya demanded, mutinous. “Is this reverse psychology?”
“Taipi,” Senga shook his head sadly, as if Fujigaya was a trainee who could barely hokey pokey. “Do you even know what our fans would do to Hiro if they thought you were actually dating her? But listen, I’ve got a plan. You should go on being mean to her.”
“I’m not being mean at all!” Fujigaya protested. “I defended her in front of the press and everything!”
“Yeah, stop doing that,” Senga advised. “Let her fend for herself, she can take it. And you be all long-suffering about being paired up with her, and make faces and be all grumpy...right, like that face there.”
“I’m not making a face!” Fujigaya snapped. Senga reached over to pat his knee. “How is this even a plan?”
“Underdog effect!” Senga announced, triumphant. “See, if it seems like you’re kind of giving her a hard time, the fans will start to root for her, they’ll want her to win you over because they already think of you as grumpy prince-type. It’s playing right into their fantasy, that they could win you over, so they’ll totally associate with Hiro. Like when you play dating sims and after a while you really start to root for the main character, get it? It’s transference.”
“Have you been watching late night television again?” Fujigaya asked critically. “That relationship expert guy? I’m telling Watta on you.”
“Shut up! This is totally going to work!” Senga insisted. “Once they’ve decided you could be a pairing, all you have to do is make eye contact once in a while to keep them going, and Hiro will be totally in with them.” Senga beamed at Fujigaya. “So I’m sorry, but you definitely can’t confess to Hiro.”
“Seriously get out of my room right now,” Fujigaya ordered, pointing at his door.
“It’s for the good of the group, Taipi,” Senga said earnestly.
Mostly Fujigaya just tried to keep his head down and hoped it would be a fleeting crush. He’d had crushes before, on co-stars or showmates or whoever was around conveniently, but they were usually short-lived. Fujigaya’s attention was always re-absorbed by work sooner or later, usually sooner, and most people couldn’t stand for very long in Fujigaya’s personal magnetic field of type-A polarity.
Kitayama Hiromi, unfortunately, was not most people. She never got worked up when Fujigaya shouted about things not being done properly, only stared calmly while Fujigaya cursed at his notebook or phone or computer, whatever was being annoying at the moment, and never once asked if practice was over yet no matter how late Fujigaya kept them.
The only time she got fired up at all was when Fujigaya dared suggest she wasn’t putting as much effort as she could.
“You want to tell me how you think I could do better?” she demanded, hands on her hips and eyes narrow.
“By doing it better?” Fujigaya suggested, and Senga and Tamamori both shuffled back a little because they had both learned it was better not to get in the middle of those two. Fujigaya glared at her as fiercely as possible, but it didn’t at all have the same effect as when he glared at Senga or Tamamori.
Hiromi only stared right back, unimpressed. “You know you aren’t very threatening with your bangs in a palm tree, right? It’s just that if you want me to take you seriously...”
“I want you to take practice seriously!” Fujigaya snapped back, fingers twitching, but he forced his hands to stay down because he sure wasn’t taking out his palm tree just for Kitayama fucking Hiromi.
“Well, if I had somehow magically known that it was going to be this particular song that was gonna send you into one of your breakdowns, I would have stayed here and practiced it yesterday,” Kitayama informed him, crossing her arms. “But instead I stayed and practiced the two things you said we were gonna work on, and I didn’t have time for all the things because you kept us here until, what was it? Midnight.”
“Sorry I cut into your twelve-hour a night sleeping habit!”
“Guys, come on,” Senga tried to cut in, but he didn’t actually come out from behind where Kitayama was basically shielding them. Tamamori looked at him like he was crazy.
“Oh, just let them go, I need a break anyway,” Tamamori advised, rubbing at one of his shoulders. “They’ll work it out of their systems eventually.”
“Uh...” Senga side-eyed the way Kitayama and Fujigaya kept inching closer to yell in each other’s faces, clearly not agreeing. “Wait, I think I can fix it though.”
Senga gave Fujigaya a big, encouraging smile and two big thumbs up; Fujigaya’s mouth snapped shut like he’d received an electric shock.
“Forget it, never mind,” he grumbled at Kitayama, staring at the ground, and then he went back to his corner as fast as possible. Kitayama turned around to look at Senga, eyes narrow.
“What was that?” Tamamori asked, face scrunched in confusion.
“Shut up,” Senga hissed, giving Kitayama an innocent look and a shrug, “I’ll tell you later.”
The hell of it was that Senga’s plan did actually seem to work. Fujigaya did his best to keep his distance for their next few appearances, to let Kitayama fend for herself for better or worse, and not censoring himself very much when he found Kitayama’s stage presence or costume or height lacking. It was certainly working on Yokoo, if nothing else.
“Why is it so impossible for you to get along with people?” Yokoo commented after yet another planning meeting where he physically had to separate Fujigaya and Kitayama’s seats so that nobody got a black eye over the setlist. He didn’t even sound angry, just resigned, like an elementary school teacher whose class never did remember to shut the lid to the hamster cage properly. “Didn’t your mother let you play with the other kids enough? Were you home-schooled or something?”
“I get along with normal people fine!” Fujigaya snapped, although all it took was one sharp look from Yokoo to make Fujigaya back down and shove his hands in his pockets. Or try to; his jeans were honestly too tight for it to work. “She can take of herself, so why are you always on her side? She totally baited me in there, you saw it.”
“You even just said ‘she started it,’ wow.” Yokoo shook his head, so sadly.
“And anyway, I’m only doing what Ken-chan...” Fujigaya stopped himself, realizing that Yokoo knowing about Senga’s plan would necessitate him knowing about Fujigaya’s feelings for Kitayama, or at least the feelings that weren’t about strangulation. He didn’t think Yokoo would approve, given how Yokoo felt in general about messy things.
“Ken-chan?” Yokoo prompted. Fujigaya hemmed and hawed, but Yokoo folded his arms and waited. They both knew he could long outlast Fujigaya.
“Ken-chan has this idea,” Fujigaya said cautiously, hoping he could give Yokoo enough information to appease him without telling him any of the actually important facts. “He thinks if I’m kind of...brusque with Kitayama, the fans will start to root for her.”
“Ken-chan gave you advice,” Yokoo repeated evenly. “And you took it?”
“Well, your advice was ‘stop making that face,’” Fujigaya pointed out.
“What have I told you about doing impressions of me?” Yokoo demanded, but he let the rest of it go, and Fujigaya heaved an internal sigh of relief.
Kityama was just as surprised as the rest of them when the next batch of fan letters included a small pile for her. She looked apprehensive while opening the first one, and stared at it much longer than any letter could possibly necessitate.
“Well?” Senga finally demanded, unable to wait any longer.
“What?” Kitayama looked up as if just realizing everyone was watching for her reaction. “Oh! It’s good, it’s good. I’m just a bit surprised. I guess I should have had more faith in Sunshine’s fans, right?”
“See, I told you,” Senga insisted, beaming proudly. Fujigaya hissed at him to shut up, but it was too late.
“Told him what?” Kitayama asked.
“Ken-chan told Taisuke to be mean to you on stage,” Yokoo informed her, rifling around in his bag to make sure none of the letters were lost in its depths. “He thought the fans would associate with you more if he abused you too.”
“Oh?” Kitayama said, while Fujigaya protested that he wasn’t abusing anybody, geez. “I see. Then what’s his excuse the rest of the time?”
“I’m NOT abusing anybody either on stage or off it!” Fujigaya roared, whacking Senga in the arm because Kitayama was across the table and this was all Senga’s fault anyway. Senga and Tamamori both pointed at Fujigaya in accusation.
“Abuse does imply that you don’t like it,” Yokoo commented, making both Senga pout and Tamamori scrunch his nose. Kitayama just laughed behind her next letter.
All of that Fujigaya could have probably made peace with, if it weren’t for the fact that Kitayama had gone out with Accel’s Totsuka three more times in the space of a few weeks. She had obviously been around this block before, and was smart about it, either meeting him somewhere where she already had reason to be for work, or else some place out of the way and late at night, where the odds of getting photographed were practically nothing. Aside from the fact that dates were actually occurring, Kitayma used enough good sense that not even Fujigaya could find much to argue about.
Not that it stopped him.
“I don’t like it!” he blustered, but Kitayama barely spared him a glance and a wave goodbye over her shoulder as she strolled out the door still putting in her earrings. Fujigaya turned to Senga instead. “I don’t like it!”
“I heard you the first time,” Senga said, barely looking up from his laptop. His chat program was chiming merrily away, and Fujigaya vowed silently that if Senga was cybering with his freako girlfriend while Fujigaya was sitting right there, he was going to put black hair dye in Senga’s shampoo.
“She could get photographed! And fired!”
Senga rolled his eyes. “Wouldn’t that make you happy?”
“No! I’ve spent the last two weeks writing parts for her in songs, she can’t get fired now!” Fujigaya argued. “Last time she stayed out all night!”
“You’re like her father or something, geez,” Senga said, typing quickly. “She’s a grown woman, she can stay out all night. Plus, all they did was go to a family restaurant and then do a million hours of karaoke.”
“You know, the sick thing is, I actually believe that, with her,” Fujigaya wrinkled his nose. “It probably does only take lots of food and some singing.” He paused. “How do you know what she stayed out all night doing?”
“Uh, because we talked about it?” Senga answered, leaving the “duh” to hang unspoken in the air. “We had girl time.”
“You’re not a girl!!” Fujigaya scoffed. “And she’s barely one! You might as well have girl time with Tama!”
“Who’s saying I don’t? Listen, Taipi.” Senga turned his attention away from his laptop to look Fujigaya in the eye. “Maybe you should just admit that you’re actually jealous.”
“I am not jealous,” Fujigaya insisted. “So maybe you tricked me into telling you I have some feelings or whatever, but I know a hell of a lot better than to date some hot mess in my band just because she’s a girl!”
“Uh-huh,” Senga said evenly. “I tricked you. Really.”
“With your wiles.” Fujigaya narrowed his eyes, peering at Senga. “You’re using your wiles on me right now, aren’t you? Admit it!”
“Have you ever been jealous before?” Senga asked, a bit of sympathy creeping into his expression. “Maybe you just don’t know what it feels like so you can’t identify it. What do you feel like right now? Tell Ken-chan-sensei where the funny feeling is.”
“I’m not jealous, I’m annoyed!” Fujigaya informed him, folding his arms and slumping back against the couch. He only glared harder when Senga felt his forehead and cheeks, tutting. “Stop that! It’s because your advice is terrible! And because Kitayama shouldn’t be giving it up to that weirdo from Fumito’s band!”
“But giving it up to other people would be okay?” Senga prompted.
“Yeah, I don’t know, sure.” Fujigaya bluffed, eyes low.
“Like...” Fujigaya blew his bangs out of his face. “I don’t know! I don’t want to think about this!”
“Like you, you mean, right?” Senga shook his head at Fujigaya’s vehement protest. “Taipi, trust Ken-chan-sensei, that’s jealousy. You feel kind of itchy and warm when you think about it, right?”
“It’s a new sweater,” Fujigaya mumbled. “I haven’t washed it yet.”
“And you want to punch people?” Senga went on. Fujigaya said that was normal, though. “And the place it hurts is kind of like here, right?” Senga tapped over Fujigaya’s heart with two fingers, raising an eyebrow expectantly.
Fujigaya just gave up, slumping over with his head on Senga’s shoulder. “Fine, it’s jealousy. Now make it go away.”
“The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem,” Senga assured. “Trying to ignore it only makes it worse. If you like Hiro, of course you’ll be jealous. That’s natural.”
“This feels like a talk my mother gave me once,” Fujigaya said, nose smooshed against Senga’s shoulder, making his voice nasal and mutinous. “I already know what a condom does.”
“Aw, you’re finally becoming a man,” Senga cooed, laughing as Fujigaya shoved him away in disgust. “Honestly, it surprised me that all of this was over a girl anyway.”
“Why?” Fujigaya said, defensive. Senga eyed him evenly. “I like girls! I’ve dated girls before!”
“I did kind of think,” Senga scratched his nose, not meeting Fujigaya’s eyes, “that it was sort of a...front. You never seemed that into them!” he tried to defend himself over Fujigaya’s squawk of protest. “It wasn’t anything like this!”
“No kidding,” Fujigaya sighed. “Oi, don’t you dare tell anybody we talked about this.”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry,” Senga assured, tugging Fujigaya back over to lean against his shoulder again. “Ken-chan-sensei has doctor-patient confidentiality.”
It took a few days for the effects of their talk to sink in fully, but gradually Fujigaya realized that admitting that he was jealous and just letting himself feel that way was much less annoying than trying to fight against it. And even if he still did want to use some choice curse words every time he saw Kitayama laughing at a new mail, he could call Totsuka names in his head just as easily. Better names. Much more creative.
“My, you’ve been mild-mannered today,” Kitayama commented when they were packing up from morning practice. “Have you picked up meditation? Or is Yokoo-san just slipping anti-depressants into your coffee?”
“It’s just been really relaxing around the house since you’re always out with that trollop,” Fujigaya said loftily.
“Trollop?” Kitayama snorted. “I think technically I’m the trollop. I’m not sure you can be a male trollop.”
“Isn’t that a kind of mushroom?” Tamamori asked, but neither one of them turned.
“Hey, really?” Senga appeared suddenly against Kitayama’s side, nudging at her like he could make the details pop out with physical force. “Reeeally?”
“Mm,” Kitayama stalled a second, but then nodded. “Nn-hn.” Her smile was a bit shy and small, but real, and it made Fujigaya’s chest twist unpleasantly. He looked away, trying to focus his attention on packing up his guitar and ignore how warm his cheeks felt.
“Haha!” Senga hip-checked Kitayama gleefully. “That’s...” Senga glanced at Fujigaya, then seemed to catch himself. “I mean, you know, be careful and stuff.”
“I will,” Kitayama promised, elbowing Senga back. “But do you mean about being tabloided? Or--”
“Can’t you two discuss this during girl time?!” Fujigaya demanded, past his limit and then some. “I do have to look Tottsu in the face sometimes, you know!”
“Yeah, okay, okay,” Senga agreed right away. “Tama, girl time tonight!”
“Fine,” Tamamori sighed, like it was kind of a chore. “But this time it’s in your room because there’s still purple nail polish stuck in my carpet from last time.”
“Honestly, you people,” Fujigaya sighed, but he let Senga hug him and promise that he could have Leader time anytime he wanted.
Fujigaya’s tenuous good will lasted until they showed up to their next photoshoot and were informed that their next batch of member pairing rankings had just come in.
“Our what?” Kitayama asked, snorting.
“Fans vote on which pair of us they like best together,” Senga explained, looking actually sort of excited about it, even when Kitayama started laughing outright. “And then they take shots of us in pairs and fans can write in requests for our poses together.”
“Come on, really?” she asked, still snickering. “That’s too gay even for my old agency to do. That might be the gayest thing I’ve ever heard, and I share a wall with Tama-chan.”
“Hmph,” Tamamori said from behind his phone. “See if you ever get asked to join in.” Yokoo whacked the back of his head and Tamamori whined that Yokoo had just made him send his mail half-written. “Nooo, come back, mail-san!”
“Don’t laugh,” Fujigaya told Kitayama. “Our world is your world now, and there’s no telling what fans’ll want us to do with you.”
“Taipi,” Senga admonished when Kitayama’s nose wrinkled. “Don’t be hurt if your pairings are ranked pretty low at first, okay? It takes a while to show each combi’s appeal. Tama used to come in last all the time.”
“Fans don’t understand my appeal,” Tamamori sniffed, but it still sounded mostly like he was talking to his phone.
“But he got super competitive about it and campaigned with Taipi in front of the fans last tour,” Senga went on explaining. “So last month they got first, actually. I’ll have to work harder!”
“Campaigned?” Kitayama asked. “How do you even campaign for something like that?”
The other three just stared at her.
“Wait, never mind.” Kitayama made a face. “I get it, I get it.”
Staff came in just then to deliver the results, and Fujigaya sat up a little straighter. It wasn’t like he really cared which two of them were getting the most doujinshi that month or whatever, but his sense of competition didn’t seem to care how stupid the actual competition was so long as he won it.
“A bit of a shake up this month,” one of the girls said, and Fujigaya didn’t like at all the way they were giggling as they elbowed each other. “With the new member, that puts us up to six possible pairs, and you’ll need a third page from now on if we’re to show each pair’s charms properly.”
“Don’t go to any trouble,” Fujigaya said under his breath, but it only made the girls giggle that it was no trouble at all, trust them.
“In sixth place, Tamamori and Kitayama!” the first girl read, sounding officious. Tamamori pressed his lips together but Kitayama patted his shoulder and said they’d try harder next time. “Fifth is Senga and Kitayama.”
“Aww, you dragged me back down again,” Senga whined, despite his earlier advice not to be hurt about it. Kitayama patted his head.
“We’ll just have to campaign this month,” Kitayama said, and Senga gave a little cheer.
“Fourth place is Senga and Fujigaya,” she continued, pausing while Fujigaya and Senga hi-fived across the table. “And now for top 3! In third place, moving up one spot, is Tamamori and Fujigaya!”
“Only one!” Tamamori made a face, but he accepted Fujigaya’s offered fistbump. “Next month! Gaya, we are gonna own this ranking yet!”
“Okay, okay,” Fujigaya replied, amiable.
“Second, dropping one spot, is Senga and Tamamori combi.”
“Yay!” Senga hugged Tamamori tight around the waist, making Tamamori roll his eyes but smile a little.
“Hey,” Kitayama said, “wait a second.”
“Oh NO,” Fujigaya groaned.
“Debuting in the first place spot,” the staff girl read with obvious glee, “is the popular Fujigaya and Kitayama pair! Congratulations, you two! The fans were very passionate.”
“We have quite a stack of requests,” the other girl put in, not even trying to hide her laughter.
“Come on!” Fujigaya let his head slump over the back of the chair in defeat, arms dangling loosely. “Tama, this is all your fault! If you had more sex appeal--”
“Maybe they just like that your hair matches,” Tamamori shot back, pride stung at losing first place yet again.
“Okay, that’s enough of that, let’s get on with this,” Yokoo ordered, shooing them out of their chairs and ignoring Tamamori and Fujigaya’s whining. Senga hopped up right away, dragging Kitayama along by the arm and chattering about what pose they could do to introduce their pairing’s style to the fans for the first time.
They settled on a perfectly serviceable wink shot; Kitayama was a bit startled when the staff ordered them to squish their faces close together, but went along with it. Beside Fujigaya, Tamamori clicked his tongue and said this was going to definitely be a struggle from now on with this sort of competition.
“Lemme show you how it’s done,” Fujigaya said, just before he grabbed Tamamori around the waist and pulled their hips flushed together.
“Hey! What?!” Tamamori flailed, eyes wide, which is exactly when the camera snapped. Fujigaya let go with a smirk; let anybody’s combi top that action.
“Awww,” Senga called, deserting Kitayama right away. “My turn with Leader! Out of the way, Tama.”
“YOU CAN HAVE HIM,” Tamamori blustered, cheeks pink and scuttling over to try and hide behind Kitayama as fast as he could.
“Che, you only call me Leader when you’re buttering me up,” Fujigaya said, shaking his head, but he let Senga work his way under his arm and lay his head cutely on Fujigaya’s shoulder.
“Hush, you’re Leader all the time and you know it,” Senga said. Fujigaya reached up to scrunch his silly perm and the staff girls all started cooing. “You’ll get spoiled if we call you that too much. You’ll get a big head and leave us for solo work where you can date girls.”
“Oi, don’t say that sort of crap,” Fujigaya shushed him in return. His eyes strayed over to Tamamori an Kitayama, who were making their duo pose a sight-gag about their heigh difference.
“Shit, Tama’s getting really serious,” Senga laughed. “We won’t lose to them, right?” He leaned up to kiss Fujigaya’s cheek noisily, and Fujigaya had no doubts at all which of their shots was going to make it in the magazine.
“Senga-kun and Tamamori-kun!” the other girl called, and then ordered, “Piggy-back ride, please,” which had apparently been the most frequent fan request. Tamamori just took it, although he rolled his eyes a little, but Senga seemed happy enough to wrap arms around Tamamori’s neck and cling tightly as Tamamori hefted him up.
“Wow, high!” Senga said, teasing. “Don’t drop me, senpai~.”
“Shut up, quit squirming,” Tamamori ordered, not a heavy lifter at the best of times. “Ugh, you weigh a fucking ton! Are you following your approved diet list at all?!”
“We have quite a few interesting requests from fans,” the first staff girl said, her smile way sharper than Fujigaya was at all comfortable with. “We’ll be doing several different ones, since as number one pair you get a whole page to yourself.” She held up a thick stack of papers, and Fujigaya reached over to grab them before she could start reading them off.
“We’ll pick them,” Fujigaya said quickly. He glanced at the top one and grimaced, while beside him, Kitayama’s eyes went wide. “Our agency definitely wouldn’t let us do that in a magazine.”
“I’m pretty sure nobody’s allowed to do that in a magazine,” Kitayama said, face scrunched. Fujigaya flipped through a few more. “Or that. Does that say ‘age twelve?!’”
“Our fans are precocious,” Fujigaya informed her, and it wasn’t really a compliment.
They settled on jankenpon, poking each other’s cheeks, and leaning their backs together as the most innocuous options. Staff insisted on a few others that had been very popular requests, specifically them looking annoyed with each other, and also holding hands.
“No,” Fujigaya balked at the last one. “I am not holding her hand like we’re on a third-grade date.”
“It’s non-negotiable,” they were informed, the staff women clearly meaning business. Fujigaya whined a bit, but was clearly not going to get his way on this one.
“Just suck it up, aren’t you a professional?” Kitayama asked. “Like holding hands is the worst thing we saw on those cards.” She shivered. “Hurry up before they think of something else.”
Looking irritated at each other was harder to do on cue than Fujigaya would have supposed, especially since he felt entirely irritated. It turned out, however, that the staff actually meant more like “look like you’re about to throw each other against the wall and give into your base desires.”
“Try grabbing each other’s shirts,” the staff woman suggested, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “Hmm.”
“I’m not comfortable with that,” Fujigaya protested, Kitayama’s T-shirt a little too snug to make any of it a safe zone.
“Kitayama-san, grab Fujigaya’s shirt then. Yes, both handfuls.” She sighed at them. “Can’t you look angrier?”
Kitayama could, it turned out, but when she fixed narrowed, kohl-smudged eyes on Fujigaya, Fujigaya’s breath caught and he couldn’t control what his face was doing at all, or do anything but hope that Kitayama couldn’t feel the way his heart was pounding with her hands so close to his chest. It only lasted a few seconds though before Kitayama’s expression melted into a sort of exasperated resignation.
“You really can’t do it, huh?” she asked, and the staff seemed to agree because they told them to hang on while they thought of something else.
“No, wait, I can. One second, please!” he called to the staff, and then closed his eyes. He took a deep breath, Kitayama’s usual vague strawberry scent a lot stronger with her so close, the heat of her hands working her way through Fujigaya’s shirt to his skin.
Then he thought about Totsuka standing this close to Kitayama, Kitayama wearing Totsuka’s hat and putting her earrings on as she rushed out the door to meet him, Kitayama laughing quietly at the mails he kept sending to her phone, Kitayama and Totsuka pressed close together, and instead of trying to push all of that down and bury it someplace deeper inside, Fujigaya gave in and let all of those feelings out, let them wash over him in a hot, infuriating wave.
He opened his eyes suddenly and grabbed Kitayama’s wrists tightly. For a second, her eyes went wide, before she snapped out of it and put her own glare back on.
“Quick!” the one staff woman ordered, and then there was a flurry of clicks from the camera. As soon as they subsided, Fujigaya let go of Kitayama like he’d been burned and escaped as quickly as he could, claiming that he needed some water.
He fled to the bathroom and splashed some water on his face, willing his cheeks to cool. Stupid, he told himself, so stupid to let yourself get out of control over one damn shot for the stupid pairing rankings. He took a few slow, deep breaths, and a couple minutes later, felt that he could come back out and face staff without making an even bigger fool of himself.
When Fujigaya emerged, Kitayama was leaning against the wall with arms folded, obviously waiting for him.
“We haven’t done the hand-holding yet,” she reminded, looking him over coolly. “Want to tell me what that was about?”
“No,” Fujigaya said honestly, “I’d rather not, if it’s all the same.” He made to walk past Kitayama, but Kitayama grabbed his wrist, fingers tight and warm against his skin. It made Fujigaya shiver, and he had to close his eyes against it. “Let go.”
“Tell me what’s going on with you,” Kitayama ordered, not letting go at all. “I don’t know how you think you’re going to keep hiding it, when we have to keep doing stuff like this. Whatever it is, can’t we just talk about it?”
“I don’t think we should,” Fujigaya answered, trying to pull his hand away, but Kitayama clung to him stubbornly. “Look, just trust me, it’s better this way.”
“What’s better this way?” Kitayama demanded, getting frustrated. “This? This is not better this way at all, and crying out loud will you just look at me?”
Fujigaya opened his eyes and did, and it was entirely a mistake because now Kitayama was properly angry, the difference all in the glitter of her dark eyes and the tense set of her mouth. Before Fujigaya knew was he was doing he’d turned and pushed her against the wall of the hallway, pinning the hand that she’d been holding onto him with against the wall by the wrist.
“Don’t go out with that guy anymore,” he growled. Kitayama struggled, but Fujigaya shoved back, pinning her in place.
“Tottsu?” Kitayama asked, and even the nickname in her mouth made Fujigaya want to fight somebody. “What’s it to you? Why?”
“Because you should be mine.”
Kitayama’s eyes went very wide, but Fujigaya didn’t see anything else because he was leaning in to crush their mouths together, still holding her tight against the wall. It was the opposite of their first kiss, Kitayama frozen while Fujigaya made all the effort, dizzy with the warm, glossed slide of Kitayama’s lips against his own. He licked at her lower lip to get more of the strawberry taste, and Kitayama’s mouth parted under his with a small noise.
He pulled back suddenly, breaking the kiss, chest heaving. Kitayama looked much the same, the surprise fading from her eyes but something else filling them, something dark and heated.
“So don’t go out with that guy anymore,” Fujigaya said gruffly. “Got it?”
“Okay,” Kitayama agreed seriously. “Fine.”
“Fine,” Fujigaya echoed, nodded like that was exactly what he’d expected instead of pretty much the very last thing he expected, and then he turned on his heel and marched back out to the photoshoot so that it would be over as quickly as possible. Fortunately the staff hadn’t seemed to even notice their absence, since Tamamori and Senga were fooling around cutely, providing them with plenty of off-shot material.
The hand-holding pose could not have possibly been more embarrassing. Fujigaya stuck out his hand and looked in the other direction, knowing he couldn’t do a single thing about how grumpy and flushed and uncomfortable his face looked and that they were both going to get yelled at and told to do something even more ridiculous.
Kitayama’s hand slipped into his, her fingers warm, and his closed around hers reflexively.
“Oh honestly,” the staff woman sighed in exasperation, “that’s no good at all! Can’t you two just--”
“No, wait,” the other staff member interrupted. “Take it, just like that.”
“What?” The first woman clicked her tongue. “They aren’t even looking at each other!”
“Exactly, it’s totally cute, isn’t it?” the second staff woman explained. “They look like they’re on a really awkward first date, don’t they? Everybody’s had a date like that. Where you really like each other but can’t express your feelings properly, and everything turns out all a mess. Take it, trust me. We don’t get a side of Fujigaya-kun that the fans can relate to so easily very often.”
Fujigaya managed to hold it together long enough for the cameras to snap and the blasted women to finally call thanks for their hard work. He’d never been more glad to escape to the changing room and strip off his itchy photo shoot clothing.
His hand was still warm where Kitayama had been clutching it, his fingers tingling strangely, and when he pulled his shirt off, there were bright pink marks around his wrist.
Go to Chapter 6