Summary: Juri likes making Taiga blush, and Hokuto can surely see the appeal.
AN: So somehow it turns out I already have Baka6 pairings, who knew. Mostly I just wanted to write fic about Juri knowing all the dirtiest jokes from Koki, and how he's never impressed with Shintarou ever. I really need them to be a real unit, okay, Johnny-san? They're so good together!
It's All in the Delivery
“So then the guy says, ‘How do you think I rang the doorbell?’” Juri finishes, wiggling his eyebrows. Kouchi and Jesse crack up, but Shintarou just frowns.
“I don’t get it!” he protests. It only makes Kouchi and Jesse laugh harder, Juri joining in, and Shintarou’s scowl intensifies. “Come on, explain it! How can he ring a doorbell with no arms?”
Taiga squirms, cheeks bright pink, flustered as usual by Juri’s off-color jokes. Juri has a million of them, thanks to his older brother no doubt, and it seems like lately he makes it a point to tell as many of them as he can until senpai or the staff tell him to knock it off. It’s Shounen Club practice today, though, the senpai and the staff both too busy to pay any attention to what Tanaka Juri is up to, of all people.
“Taiga-kun gets it, riiiight?” Juri asks, leaning in to poke Taiga’s cheek, and Taiga bats it away. “Go ahead, tell our innocent little Shin-chan what’s so funny about it.”
“Yeah, come on!” Shintarou whines.
“Don’t pick on me,” Taiga says, giving Juri’s shoulder a shove, but it doesn’t stop him at all. Juri launches right into the next dirty story, something about a shinto priest with a cat. Taiga tries not to listen and to focus on his stretching, but it’s pretty much impossible, his cheeks getting redder by the second.
When Hokuto strolls up, having been across the room getting their practice assignments, Taiga turns long-suffering eyes to him.
“Make him stop,” Taiga begs, using the big eyes and everything, but Hokuto just chuckles as he drops onto the floor next to Taiga to start stretching himself. “Ugh, you’re no help at all.”
Hokuto only smiles serenely as he reaches for his toes; Taiga scowls and reaches to yank on Hokuto’s wrists until he grunts in surrender.
“But if he doesn’t have any arms--” Shintarou tries again, sending Jesse and Kouchi back into peals of laughter.
It’s forgotten during practice, all of them focused on their work because they have a whole song to themselves this filming. It’s nice to be grouped with others who want to work just as hard as he does, Taiga thinks to himself, nice to have a dynamic that’s serious and familiar. Jesse helps him run their lines a few times when Taiga comes in flat, and Kouchi asks if they can try that crossover at half-speed when they bang shoulders the third time.
It’s different, wanting to work up to other people’s expectations rather than trying to improve on his own, wanting to support others. Taiga feels like it’s a lot more effective in his case; he throws himself into it happily, determined not to get left behind.
“What are you guys doing back there?!” Shintarou snaps, glaring over his shoulder when Taiga and Kouchi slam into each other yet again. Unimpressed, Juri puts his hands on his hips.
“Worry about yourself, your freeze is for shit,” Juri informs him flatly. He turns to Taiga without waiting for a response. “Honestly, tell him to fuck off once in a while so he doesn’t forget we’re not his Snow Prince Choir, you know?”
Months ago, Shintarou would have started a fight over such an obvious dismissal, but now all he does is roll his eyes and mutter a “yeah, yeah” back. Taiga hides a smile by using the tail of his T-shirt to wipe the sweat off his face, because Juri was the only one who hadn’t ever been intimidated by Shintarou’s bullying even way at the beginning.
“I’m not telling him that,” Taiga informs Juri when he keeps watching him expectantly. It’s not that he’s shy around them, that’s long since passed, but Taiga has never quite understood the appeal of how the others bluster about cursing and sex. It’s just not his thing, and he’s self-confident enough these days to quit pretending that it is, for the most part.
“Just say it, it’ll feel good, it’s therapeutic,” Juri coaxes. He sidles closer when Taiga still shakes his head. “C’mon, do it. You haven’t ever told him to go fuck himself, have you? Have you ever told anybody that? Do it, right now, I want to hear it.”
“Geez,” Taiga grumbles, knowing his cheeks are turning pink again, knowing it will only egg Juri on until he gets his way. The more Juri presses him, though, the more it just makes Taiga want to dig his heels in. “It’s totally unnecessary.”
“Tell me to go fuck myself, right now. You can even do it in English! Jesse!” Juri hollers over. “How do you say go fuck yourself in English?”
“Go fuck yourself,” Jesse calls back without looking, unclear whether he’s answering Juri’s question or just telling him to actually fuck himself. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
“See?” Juri grins at Taiga with a sharp-edged smile. It reminds Taiga uncomfortably of certain senpai and the way they teach younger juniors stuff they totally shouldn’t. “Go on, go on.”
“Go fuck yourself,” Taiga mutters quickly, flustered and wanting to go back to work. Juri claps his hands in delight but lets up, shuffling back to his start position just as Shintarou turns around to tell him to get his shit together.
“Your mom,” Juri says easily, not hurrying up his saunter even a little bit. Taiga turns away from their comfortable bickering to see Hokuto watching him with the same small smile as before.
“What?” Taiga asks, feeling even more self-conscious than when Juri was hollering swears at him. Hokuto shakes his head and goes back to focusing on his dancing. Taiga sticks his tongue out at him and tries to focus himself.
It’s hardly early by the time they finish up and change back into street clothes, but it doesn’t stop them from going out for food with a bunch of the other guys, heady with practice adrenaline and teenage freedom, thoughts of school tomorrow morning far away.
“Are you sure you’re old enough to come out with the big kids?” Nakajima teases Shintarou. Fuma snickers at Nakajima’s shoulder.
“Your mom is totally going to ground you again,” Hokuto warns, eyes glued to his phone.
“Shut up,” Shintarou orders, then scowls when his phone rings in his hand, like just the mention of his mother’s name has somehow summoned her. He shoves the phone in his pocket, which does little to muffle the thrum of its vibration. “Pick on Jesse for once instead of just me!”
“Jesse looks old enough to be out past dinnertime, though,” Kouchi points out, ever helpful. “He gets carded less than Yasui-kun.”
“HEY!” comes a protest from near the back of the group.
They end up in the back corner of a family restaurant, wedged in side-by-side tables and having to climb over each other to get refills from the drink bar. The waiter gets fed up with them pressing the button for his attention pretty quickly, and leaves them alone as much as possible after dropping off their food. They’re still a bit stage-high and more than once Shintarou gleefully hollers something that makes Taiga cringe a little as he glances at the other customers, but it’s not the most embarrassing group of co-workers he’s ever been out with, not by a long shot.
It’s nice, actually, Taiga thinks when Kouchi shoves his plate of fries over for Taiga to share, and when Jesse refills Taiga’s melon soda for him without asking. Feeling like he belongs and that the others want him here, lately Taiga’s been realizing how important that is to him.
“What’s that about? You’re making a weird face,” Kouchi asks, poking Taiga in the cheek and startling him out of his thoughts. Taiga shakes his head and says it’s nothing, chuckling at himself for being a great big girl. It’s just food after work, after all, it’s not that big a deal.
Eventually his phone buzzes with a mail from his own mother, and unlike Shintarou, whose phone has been vibrating the table at regular intervals entirely ignored, Taiga takes his mother seriously when she reminds him what time it is and what time his butt needs to be in the house. He doesn’t have to leave right this second to make it, but Taiga finishes his soda anyway, tired from the long day.
“I’m heading out,” he says, standing up and stretching, waving off the others when they groan and call him a weenie. Juri calls him a mama’s boy, and Taiga reaches down to flick him squarely between the eyes, the others cackling at Juri’s yelp.
“I’ll walk with you,” Hokuto says, surprising Taiga a little when he stands as well, but really Taiga is glad for the company.
There’s a comfortable silence between them for the first block or so, both of them adjusting hats and scarves and jamming their hands deep in their pockets. The wind stings Taiga’s cheeks where his scarf isn’t covering everything, makes him shiver despite his layers. Hokuto doesn’t seem bothered by it, strolling along steadily, not tripping over the sidewalk while he tries to fuss with his scarf like Taiga.
“School tomorrow?” Hokuto asks to make conversation.
“Yeah,” Taiga sighs. “My mom’s been on me about my grades. She says they won’t care whose kid I am when I’m applying to work at the McDonald’s because I haven’t graduated high school.”
Hokuto laughs and it makes Taiga smile too, behind his scarf. “You would look cute in the uniform, though.”
“Shut up,” Taiga says, side-eyeing him.
“I’d come and buy fries from you every day,” Hokuto promises solemnly, grin returning when Taiga tells him to shut up again. “Like you aren’t good-looking enough to just keep doing what we’re doing. It’s not like the president cares whether you’ve graduated high school or not.” Hokuto laughs a little darkly. “Honestly I think he prefers it when we aren’t that smart.”
“There’s plenty of good-looking guys,” Taiga murmurs as they reach the station, both of them digging in their bags for their train passes.
“Not so many like you,” Hokuto says. Taiga has no idea what to say to that as they head down the stairs to the platform, so he says nothing, hoping that Hokuto thinks his cheeks are pink from the wind. He fights the urge to squirm when Hokuto stops to look him over squarely. “I mean, it’s pretty obvious why you’re popular.”
“I wonder,” Taiga murmurs, feeling shy under Hokuto’s direct gaze. His heart starts to speed a little, Hokuto’s dark eyes and knowing smile not helping at all.
“This is totally the reason Juri picks on you so much,” Hokuto informs him.
Taiga blinks. “What is?” He swallows a startled noise when Hokuto grabs him by the wrist and drags him further down the platform, around to the other side of a large vending machine. There’s hardly anybody else on the platform, all of them nearer the stairs and none of them paying any attention to the two of them, and now the vending machine is blocking the view of anybody else who happens to come down.
Taiga’s heart is positively skipping now, as Hokuto leans in closer. Taiga backs up half a step, but the vending machine keeps him from going any further.
“You’re so cute when you’re flustered,” Hokuto explains. He lifts a hand to graze Taiga’s cheek with the backs of his fingers. “You blush at everything, and it makes you look so shy and innocent. It makes me want to say all kinds of stuff to you too, to see how dark I can make it. Because you aren’t that innocent, right? No more than the rest of us.”
Taiga opens his mouth but before he gets a sound out, Hokuto’s mouth is already covering his. His lips are are little cold at first but warm quickly, coaxing but gentle, and before Taiga really knows what’s going on he’s kissing Hokuto back, eyes fluttering shut. Even though his shoulders are against the vending machine, Taiga brings hands up to clutch at the front of Hokuto’s jacket, tugging a little. Hokuto gives a soft hum that makes Taiga’s blood heat and steps even more into Taiga’s space, close enough to block the wind.
Hokuto was right, Taiga isn’t that innocent, and he knows what Hokuto’s asking with the tease of his tongue across Taiga’s lower lip. Not uninterested himself, Taiga opens his mouth under Hokuto’s with a soft sigh of surrender, pressing closer against Hokuto’s chest and enjoying the heat building between them, the winter cold forgotten. He’s honestly even forgotten where they are, not protesting when Hokuto tugs the zipper of his coat down and slips hands inside to brush along Taiga’s sides.
“There you are!” Shintarou hollers right next to them, scaring Taiga nearly to death and making them spring apart. Taiga’s heart is in his throat, but Shintarou doesn’t seem to notice or feel at all awkward about what he just interrupted.
“Going home too?” Hokuto asks, faking composure more easily than Taiga can possibly put himself back together.
Shintarou nods, pulling an annoyed face. “My mom gave up calling me and started calling the other guys instead. She promised them cookies to gang up on me, geez...” Shintarou trails off, finally seeming to notice Taiga trying and failing to do up his coat zipper with fumbling fingers. “Oh!” he exclaims in sudden revelation.
“About that,” Hokuto says, face sheepish. “Would you mind not saying anything for a bit?” He sneaks a look at Taiga. “We only just...”
“What? Oh, whatever,” Shintarou waves a hand dismissively. “No, I mean, I get it!”
“Get...what?” Hokuto asks, puzzled.
“How the guy rang the doorbell!” Shintarou exclaims, grinning. “I get it!”
Taiga gives up on his coat with a faint wail of distress, trying to cover his burning cheeks with his hands instead. Hokuto laughs out loud, eyes scrunching up with the force of it before he can collect himself to help Taiga out. His fingers are working a lot better than Taiga’s, and he zips Taiga’s coat up on the first try.
“Don’t be so tormentable,” Hokuto says, then sneaks a quick brush of his lips over Taiga’s cheek that makes Taiga squawk. “At least, not for anybody but me.”
“Quit it,” Taiga complains, but he kind of means don’t. Hokuto’s self-satisfied expression says that he isn’t fooled.
“Okay, but the one about the cat, though...” Shintarou pipes up, but fortunately just then the train arrives and saves them from having to explain anything else to him via demonstration.
Two weeks later, Taiga is reaching lazily for his toes and not having any trouble ignoring Juri’s joke about the emperor with the three jealous concubines. He’s much more preoccupied with thoughts of Hokuto’s clever fingers skimming his sides, Hokuto’s gloss-soft lips against Taiga’s throat. The light flush on his cheeks has absolutely nothing to do with the punchline about the cucumber.
“These aren’t even funny, are they?” Shintarou snaps in exasperation. “You guys just make these things up so that I’ll look like a moron, don’t you?!”
Jesse and Kouchi laugh so hard they’re sprawled in a heap on top of each other, clutching their stomachs, and Juri has tears gathering in the corner of his eyes. Even Taiga grins a little, before a familiar touch running up the bumps of his spine makes his eyes flutter shut and his breath catch.
“You should tell them the one about the cute junior and the prop closet fifteen minutes ago,” Hokuto murmurs in Taiga’s ear, then laughs when Taiga blushes all for him.
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