Summary: KitKats for sure can't fix what Yasui has.
AN: The failed FQF that I had to scrap because it became clear it didn't need any sex in it. The original title of this was "Yasui is terrible at relationships" and then briefly "Break Me Off a Piece of That." Also I think it's adorable that Kouchi says they call him Yassan. Also here is pirate Shintarou. You'll understand why when you get there.
This is the Road to Ruin (And We're Starting at the End)
"Hokuto's sad," Shintarou says with no preamble, and Yasui looks up from his lunch to blink at him. He glances at Juri, also eating with them, but Juri only watches in mild amusement.
When no more information is forthcoming, Yasui tries, "I'm sorry?"
"So fix it," Shintarou says. "I tried bringing him some strawberry KitKats, but that didn't do it."
Yasui considers this entire situation while he chews on a mouthful of rice. It's kind of funny, because these brats all turn to him with unreasonable demands since he's oldest, and yet Shintarou looks like the secret sixth member of SMAP. On the other hand, Hokuto is actually very sad, and it's sweet of Shintarou to be concerned for his friend. Unfortunately, unlike his face, Shintarou's ability to cope with his friends' emotions are about on par with his actual age.
"You know why he's sad, right?" Yasui tries eventually, deciding to help the kid out as best he can without having to work whatever magic Shintarou can't manage on his own.
"Well, yeah." Shintarou fidgets a little. "It has to do with…you know, the Fuma-kun thing."
"The Fuma-kun thing," Yasui repeats. "You mean the fact that Hokuto has had the same unrequited epic crush on that guy for like five years, and meanwhile everyone in the building has walked in on Fuma-kun and Shori-kun at least twice?"
"Yeah, that," Shintarou says, looking even more uncomfortable.
"And you thought strawberry KitKats would do the trick?"
"They make me feel better." Shintarou crosses his arms when Yasui looks at him evenly. "You're so smart, you fix it, like I said."
"Shin-chan," Yasui spoke a little slower and very clearly, "I can't just fix it, those are his feelings. What do you want me to do, hypnotize him and give him some new ones?" Shintarou scrutinizes Yasui's face, like he isn't sure whether Yasui is kidding or not. "Geez, kiddo, will you hurry up and fall in the love the first time? Maybe when somebody breaks your heart you'll have a little empathy."
"But he wasn't sad yesterday," Shintarou protests. "He isn't sad all the time!"
"Yeah, he is," Yasui says. "Most of the time he just hides it pretty well. I'm sure he'll be fine, someday, but for now this is the way things are."
"That's crap," Shintarou says bluntly.
"Yes," Yasui agrees. "Yes, it usually is."
"That was pessimistic," Juri says, but at least he has the decency to wait until Shintarou is out of earshot so they don't have to keep explaining around him. "I doubt your new solo 'Love is Usually Crap' will be a hit with the fangirls."
"I'm sure some of them would agree." Yasui shrugs. Juri eyes him until Yasui gets uncomfortable with the silence. "I think a little reality check would do most people good, especially around here."
"I didn't realize you were such a cynic underneath that cute face," Juri says, reaching over to poke at Yasui's cheek. Yasui slaps his hand away casually.
"You know what they say." Yasui stands up, leaving his bento behind. It's not very appealing suddenly. "At the heart of every cynic is a failed romantic."
"Yeah?" Juri is still looking Yasui over thoughtfully. "So who was it that broke your heart?"
"Never you mind, brat," Yasui tells him, ruffling Juri's hair on the way by. "But if I ever want a happily ever after, I'll just bring that guy a KitKat."
Yasui thinks of the whole thing as a chance conversation, nothing special, so he's a little surprised when Hokuto sidles up to him at the end of practice the next day. He's been acting more or less normal all day, horsing around with Jesse or Juri, his usual grin firmly in place. But at the moment his grin is nowhere to be found, and Yasui sees right away what Shintarou meant about Hokuto being sad.
"Something on your mind?" Yasui asks.
"Can we…I mean, do you have some time?" Hokuto says. "Sorry, it's okay if you're busy. I was just hoping…I think I'd like to talk to somebody."
"Sure, of course," Yasui tells him, amused that this is apparently come tell Yasui-senpai your problems week. "But are you sure I'm the guy you want to play motivational good advice senpai? Were all the respectable senpai busy?"
Hokuto chuckles a little, a brief flash of his usual self. "Yeah. I'm satisfied with you."
"Those guys are worried about you, you know," Yasui says when they're tucked in the corner of a family restaurant. Maybe it seems like an odd choice, but he always feels like it's easier to talk about something personal when there's a lot of action and noise going on around. Plus, unlimited drink refills.
"I could tell from all the KitKats," Hokuto says, half-affectionate and half-exasperated. "I know I could talk to them, and it's nice to feel cared about. But it's like…they always want to know how to fix it, you know? I just wanted somebody to listen, because it's not a thing that can be fixed."
"If you want somebody to do nothing about your problems, I'm your guy," Yasui tells him, and both of them laugh. "But I'm happy to listen."
It takes almost an hour for Hokuto to talk himself the whole way out, their food long gone. Yasui knew most of the story, even, although there are some details he hadn't know, for instance the fact that Hokuto had actually confessed to Fuma twice, not just the time when he was fourteen that everybody knew about.
"I just…wanted him to know I was serious." Hokuto stirs the melting ice in his drink, more water than melon soda at this point. "I knew he wouldn't accept, but I wanted him to understand anyway." Hokuto shrugged. "I get that this is just the way things are, you know? That they won't change. But sometimes…"
"It's hard," Yasui says. "Some days it's not so bad and other days everything just seems hard and nothing makes it better. It's exhausting to be with people and depressing to be alone. All you can do is wait for it to get better again."
Hokuto nods. The silence stretches out for a minute before Hokuto lets go of his straw and slumps back in his seat. "It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to see him at work so often. You too, huh? I kind of thought so."
"Me too." Yasui pushes his own drink away, knowing in a couple hours he'll regret all this caffeine when he can't sleep. "It's mostly fine."
"Do you think I can learn to be mostly fine someday too?" Hokuto asks.
"Sure," Yasui answers, because sometimes he really can be motivational good advice senpai if it seems like it's worth doing. He leaves out the part about how he mostly makes it through by pretending he's the spunky main character in a drama and if he pretends hard enough sometimes he forgets that he's acting at all. It never makes anybody feel better when he says that part out loud, least of all him. "Come on, let's get out of here."
Yasui settles the bill and claps Hokuto on the shoulder encouragingly, and says that if Hokuto wants to talk all he has to do is say. The offer only stands, though, if Hokuto swears on his life that he will tell all his little friends that Yasui's advice is terrible and not to bother.
"I can't have you brats coming to me with all your scrapes and bruises," Yasui says, like it's a big chore. Hokuto smiles a little and says Yasui's secret is safe with him.
The next day Hokuto's smile isn't nearly so strained, and Yasui only rolls his eyes a little when there's a stack of KitKats six high on his bag when he comes back for lunch.
"Will you tell your little buddy that I am way too short to eat this many calories?" Yasui asks Juri. Juri only laughs, and Yasui drops four of the boxes into his lap. "You eat them, you look half-starved."
"Growth spurt, can't help it," Juri says, then laughs some more when Yasui gives him a dark look. "Also, if you give me chocolate, that makes you the girl, right?"
"Says the guy who's about to put my stick in his mouth," Yasui retorts, and Juri pauses with a KitKat piece halfway to his mouth. After a second he shrugs and pops it in. Yasui rolls his eyes. Tanakas.
Even though Yasui made Hokuto promise things wouldn't turn out this way, a week later Jesse seeks out Yasui after a fight with Kouchi, obviously just wanting a pat on the head and somebody to tell him that things will be fine. A few days after that, it's Hagiya asking if Yasui maybe has some idea of things Shimekake would like to do on a date, and Kotaki asking anxiously if Yasui thinks it's a long-distance relationship if somebody maybe has to be in Tokyo for work a lot these days? When Genki turns up, wringing his hands over what he ought to do if he thinks Jinguji and Reia both like him, Yasui hopes that he has reached the low point.
Then he opens the door to the dressing room and finds Takahashi Kaito wearing a pleading expression. Kaito doesn't even get his mouth open before Yasui shoves a KitKat into his hands and slams the door shut again.
"Do you guys not understand that actually I am terrible at relationships?" Yasui demands crankily at lunch. "Why don't they go bug Hasshi or Miyata or somebody? Somebody who seems halfway successful at them?"
"Who wants to talk to somebody who seems really happy when you feel like crap?" Juri points out. "It's actually your failure that makes you attractive. You know, in terms of advice, I mean."
Yasui eyes him. Juri grins at him, guileless.
"What do you know about it anyway," Yasui finally grumbles, dropping his eyes.
"I know that if I get my heart broken, I'm coming straight to you," Juri says, surprising Yasui. "You're a lot safer than the Hip Hop Clinic, that's for sure."
Juri is an odd duck, Yasui thinks. He seems so happy-go-lucky, so mellow. But once in a while Yasui catches a flash of something when Juri doesn't know anybody is looking, something lurking underneath the grin that Juri is so quick to give everyone. It's a bit like frustration, or maybe loneliness? Yasui wonders if Juri ever feels like he's hiding in plain sight like Yasui does, letting the bustle of so many others distract him from himself.
Then Yasui wonders when he started thinking so hard about Tanaka "get the safety piercer" Juri.
"Stare harder, Yassan," Kouchi comments without looking up from his bag, which he's reorganizing it for the third time. Yasui calls him a girl and tells him to mind his own business. Kouchi ignores him. "Juri, though? He's not your usual type."
"Freaky kouhai isn't that far from slutty senpai," Jesse points out, turning a page in his magazine. "Everybody likes a bit of role reversal."
"Stop that!" Yasui hisses, before Juri hears and joins in on the joke. "I'm not interested in Juri, and my type is not slutty senpai!"
"Kitayama-kun," Kouchi says.
"Kawai-kun," Jesse adds.
"Ooh, burn." Jesse sucks air through his teeth.
"Aniki!" Juri announces behind Yasui suddenly, making him jump and clutch at his chest. Kouchi makes a pained face, and Jesse doubles over with laughter. Juri blinks up at Yasui's horrified expression. "What? Aren't we talking about guys whose solos we want to do?"
Juri saunters off, and Yasui still isn't sure whether he overheard their real conversation or not. With that kid, anything's possible.
It's about then that Yasui starts feeling the little tingles of warmth in his chest whenever Juri is around, the itch to mail him stupid things when he isn't. It's a crush, he diagnoses after a couple days of it, fed by how much time they're spending together for Gamushara filming lately. Yasui feels briefly annoyed with himself, and then lets it go. It'll go away on its own if he ignores it, like usual, and Yasui isn't interested in making any waves.
That plan would work a lot better if Juri weren't sabotaging it at every turn.
On stage, Juri is self-assured intense, so worth watching despite the way he needs to eat way more than half a dozen KitKats. The fangirls have gone from "aww" to "ROWR" for Juri, and Yasui feels their pain as he watches Juri dance from the wings. When he runs off the stage, Juri makes a beeline for Yasui as if drawn by a magnet, face lit up from performing and sweat-spiked hair sticking out all over on top.
"Did it look good?" he asks, voice still breathless.
"Yeah," Yasui tells him, watching a drop of sweat slide down Juri's neck and into the V of his shirt. "Yeah, it looked really good."
"Good." Juri grins, and then as if he's purposely trying to get to Yasui, adds casually, "Yassan looks good too." Juri reaches over to tweak the lapel of Yasui's jacket a little, then goes to wait for his next cue.
"Thanks…" Yasui says slowly. He closes his eyes and counts to ten, but it doesn't help. He tries again, counting so high that he nearly misses his own cue.
Across the stage, Juri rolls his hips to make the front row scream, and Yasui wonders how long it would take to count to a million.
Eventually it's Juri himself who puts Yasui out of his misery. Sort of.
"Want to go out after work?" Juri asks, lacing up his sneakers next to Yasui.
"Sure," Yasui says, trying to ignore how close Juri is sitting next to him on the bench. "Who's going?"
"You and me?" Juri laughs, but it's not mean. "I mean, do you want to go out."
"Oh." Yasui feels like someone poured his water bottle over his head for a second, before he can shake it off. "Juri, I don't think that's such a good—"
"I got tired of waiting for you to say you liked me," Juri interrupts. Laces tied, he puts both feet on the floor and turns to look at Yasui directly. "You do right? Like me?"
"Listen, I don't know what Kouchi told you," Yasui starts. Juri shakes his head.
"Why would Kouchi tell me anything?" Juri reaches over to poke Yasui in the cheek. "I can see it for myself. When you don't think anybody's watching, you aren't as careful with your face. So do you?"
Yasui should lie, it would make this a lot easier and he knows Juri wouldn't press him, but Juri isn't the kind of friend that Yasui lies to so casually. "Yeah. But it's just a crush. It's nothing."
"So let's go out, like I said," Juri goes on. "It'll be fun. Can't do any harm, right? Yassan is pretty cute, too, so I might even put out for you. It doesn't have to be anything serious."
Yasui's chest goes tight when Juri says it's not serious, and that's how Yasui knows that he has to get out right now.
"I really can't," he says. "Sorry, but pass." He expects Juri to either press him some more or else just to shrug it off, but instead Juri just watches his face for a few silent moments, watches Yasui closely. It makes Yasui a little uncomfortable, but he doesn't look away.
"Are you gonna drag that guy around forever? Whoever it was," Juri adds before Yasui can ask. "I know he broke your heart and all, and I'm sorry. But this is something totally different."
"I don't want to do it again," Yasui tells him, the most honestly he's ever spoken about it to anyone. "I don't want to feel like that again, and I especially don't want to do it at work, where everybody can see it all over me. Ever."
"I get it," Juri says gently, and Yasui believes him. "But tomorrow I'm going to ask you out again, because I think I could have a really good time with you. I bet you think so too."
Juri hops off the bench and trots over to let Shintarou and Shouki shove him around, leaving Yasui to stare at his own sneakers, wondering what terrible genius trained that goddamn guy. He hears the squeak of sneakers approaching, and when Yasui looks up, Takahashi Kaito is standing in front of him, holding out a box of orange KitKats.
"Thanks, senpai," Kaito says. "For earlier. They made me feel better, so I brought you a box back to say thank you. Morimoto-kun said this was your favorite flavor." He pushes them into Yasui's hands and trots off before Yasui can say anything back. Yasui just stares at the brightly colored box in his hands for a long minute. When he looks up, he accidentally catches Shintarou's eye, and Shintarou gives Yasui an encouraging thumbs-up and a bright grin.
"Every single one of you idiots…" Yasui grumbles. He opens the box and eats one of the packages of KitKats, and it sure doesn't solve all of his problems but at least it's something to do with his hands.
He's not the only one having a troublesome day, apparently. During the lunch break, Yasui stumbles over Hokuto sitting on the floor near the lockers, clearly hiding. He's right by the bottom right locker, which always smells like the Natto Club is having a meeting in there, and nobody sits there unless they want to be alone.
"Sorry, I'll be out of here in a second," Yasui says.
"Whatever," Hokuto answers, barely looking up.
"Unless you want to talk about it?" Hokuto only shrugs, and Yasui sits down beside him. He waits patiently without saying anything until Hokuto heaves a little sigh.
"Taiga asked me out," Hokuto says. "I told him I wasn't ready."
"That's okay," Yasui reassures.
"But what if I'm never ready?" Hokuto lets his head fall against Yasui's shoulder. "What if it's always like this and I'm making myself miserable for nothing? How am I supposed to know?"
Yasui leans his cheek against the top of Hokuto's head and thinks about it quietly. He thinks about how his heart skips a beat when he makes Juri laugh, and how his skin prickled in panic when Juri said he thought they could be good together. He thinks about how it took so long to start feeling like himself again after last time, and how little he wants to do that again.
"We don't know, I guess," he finally says. "There's nothing to do but try and hope it works out better."
"I don't feel very hopeful," Hokuto admits, and Yasui understands exactly what he means. "I haven't felt anything like that in so long."
"Maybe that's what the other guy is for." After a second, Hokuto laughs, quiet but real. "That didn't actually make you feel better, did it? It's like the dumbest thing I've ever said."
"It's because you make it seem like it's okay to suck at everything," Hokuto says, then laughs some more when Yasui shoves him away and calls him an asshole. He follows Yasui up off the floor when Yasui climbs to his feet, though, and grabs him in a quick hug. "Thanks, seriously."
"It's nothing," Yasui tells him. He squeezes Hokuto back, maybe needing a hug himself. "Don't give up. If it's not Taiga, that's okay, but…don't give up."
"I won't if you won't," Hokuto tells him.
"Yeah." Yasui draws a deep breath through his nose and then lets it go. "Okay."
As promised, the next day Juri approaches Yasui as soon as he shows up at work. Before he can even open his mouth, Yasui hands him the other half of the orange KitKats from yesterday. Juri tilts his head, one eyebrow raised.
"Is this a yes?" Juri asks.
"It's going to be impossible, you know." Yasui shakes his head. "I don't want it to be serious, but I don't want you to treat me casually either. I'm pretty sure this is a gigantic mistake."
"I like a challenge," Juri says, unwrapping the chocolate and popping half of it into his mouth. He looks Yasui over as he chews. "Maybe I could even like you, if you gave me a chance."
Yasui spreads his hands wide, like what you see is what you get. "Take it or leave it."
"Not on the first date, damn, slow down," Juri teases. Yasui rolls his eyes, but he smiles a little. It's hard not to, when Juri is grinning at him like that. "Is it really okay? Non-consensual isn't my thing."
"Not really," Yasui admits. Juri makes it sound easy and light-hearted, but what little common sense Yasui possesses as a Johnny's is telling him all of this is a terrible idea. "You idiots all come to me, but when you break my heart, who am I supposed to go to? Whose bad relationship advice am I supposed to take?"
"There's always the Hip Hop Clinic," Juri suggests. "And hey, think positive: maybe you'll get to break my heart instead."
"That's not…" Yasui starts, but he trails off when Juri leans forward to kiss him. It's quick and sweet, and Juri's lips still taste like chocolate. Yasui wonders if after this whole thing goes south, if he'll ever be able to eat a KitKat again. "That's not what I want," he finishes when Juri pulls back.
"Good," Juri says. He looks right in Yasui's eyes and smiles. "Because that's not what I want either."
It's not the easiest thing, no matter how easy Juri is to like. Yasui doesn't even know what he wants himself, so it's no surprise Juri is fifty-fifty on getting it right. The only part that Yasui isn't confused about at all is the physical side of his crush, so he makes it up to Juri as best he can in sexual favors. After a few weeks, Yasui can even laugh when Juri says it's okay if Yasui wants to call him senpai in bed. Then he bites down a little harder than he ought to on Juri's shoulder, but Juri just moans.
"You Tanakas really are freaks," Yasui informs Juri.
Stretched out flat on his back, Juri grins up at him. "You like it."
Before Yasui knows it, a month has gone by, and things have settled into some semblance of a routine. When Juri happily bursts into the room pushing a sputtering Shintarou in front of him, Yasui only raises an eyebrow at them.
"Shin-chan has a problem!" Juri announces proudly. He sounds like his kid has just learned to tie his shoelaces or something.
"I'll say he does," Yasui comments, taking in Shintarou's striped shirt and flashy gold hoop earring. "Ahoy, there, Mr. Smee."
"That's not the problem!" Shintarou snaps, still struggling against Juri's grip.
"Go on, tell him," Juri encourages. "Show Yassan where it hurts."
Eyes fixed on the floor, Shintarou waves at a spot somewhere in between his heart and his throat. Suddenly Juri's grin makes a lot more sense.
"Shin-chan," Yasui purrs, thoroughly amused. "You're having your first crush, aren't you?"
Shintarou whines like Yasui just told him his hard drive was dead and all his data was lost. "Make it stop! It sucks!"
"Sorry, no can do. But look on the bright side, you're finally becoming a man," Yasui soothes. Over Shintarou's shoulder, Juri is snickering loudly at his best friend's expense. And then, because Yasui is an asshole and can't resist, "Have you tried strawberry KitKats?"
"Seriously, fuck you guys," Shintarou grumbles, but they hug him and promise him ramen later, and they don't even drop him off at the Hip Hop Clinic as he so richly deserves. Juri spends the afternoon trying to guess who it is, but Yasui is satisfied once Shintarou swears vehemently that it is not Jinguji Yuuta, seriously, what the hell.
"Poor guy doesn't stand a chance," Juri says fondly once Shintarou is out of earshot, having bolted directly for the ice cream freezer in the combini. "Hope you're ready for another broken-hearted kouhai advice session."
"I'm practically a professional," Yasui says, barely looking up from the shelf he's perusing. He makes a noise of triumph when he finds what he's looking for. "Here," he says, shoving the box into Juri's hands.
Juri snorts when he looks down at the box of KitKats in his hands. "Melon?"
"Special summer version. Since we've got a Morimoto-sized disaster on our hands, doesn't seem like I'll get my stick in your mouth any other way tonight." Yasui glances over Juri's shoulder while Juri cracks up. "Ahh, go save him, will you? I think one of his accessories is caught on the freezer door."
Yasui shakes his head as Juri goes to free Shintarou. Maybe pudding would be safer.
Yasui turns his head to find Hokuto at the end of the aisle, apparently having just come in. He waves. "Yo. Weren't you going out to eat with some guys?"
"Nah," Hokuto says, but before he can finish the rest of his explanation, Taiga appears at Hokuto's shoulder to ask if he wants coffee milk or strawberry or what. Yasui smiles knowingly at Hokuto, whose cheeks turn a little pink as he says strawberry, please.
"Is that Shintarou stuck to the freezer?" Taiga asks.
"I told him not to lick it," Yasui deadpans. Taiga rolls his eyes and goes over to "help" Juri, which mostly means commenting on Shintarou's idiocy. "Date night?" Yasui asks Hokuto.
Hokuto shrugs a little. "It's a start, maybe. You two?"
"I took him to the zoo but we ended up baby-sitting the gorilla," Yasui says, making a put-upon face, which makes Hokuto laugh hard enough that everyone in the store looks at them.
"It's not funny!" Shintarou hollers back.
Somehow they save Shintarou from his jewelry, pick out food, and manage to pay for it without actually being ejected from the store. They go their separate ways outside, Hokuto and Taiga waving over their shoulder as they head in the other direction.
"Those two?" Shintarou asks, looking over his shoulder still instead of watching where he's going. Neither Yasui nor Juri warns him about the pole.
"Shh, don't jinx it," Yasui says.
"Don't worry, I stuck my KitKat in their bag," Juri announces. He nudges Yasui with his shoulder a little. "For good luck. I didn't think we needed it anymore."
Yasui shakes his head, but he can't help but smile a little. Juri can be pretty cute sometimes; Yasui supposes he can leave it up to him.
"OW!" Shintarou hollers. "Why is it always poles?!"