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take my hand and bring me back

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It isn’t as though Sho is nervous or shy. That territory is reserved largely for Nino, and Satoshi when he gets into one of his quiet moods when any disturbance can make him curl into himself and away from the rest of the world. It isn’t as though he had been purposefully ignoring this inevitable moment, desperate to keep himself as far away as possible, putting distance between them when he was afraid the distance was growing too small for him to handle.

Okay. Maybe Sho is a little nervous. He had known Tomoya for the better part of his life because the two of them had been in Johnny’s together for so long, and Tokio’s history is large.

It’s bound to feel weird when you fall in love with one of your close friends, right?

It’s ludicrous to feel this way in the company of Tomoya Nagase, though, and even Sho can admit this to himself. Tomoya is more like an overly large puppy than anyone Sho has ever met, energetic and full of life, and he bounds several feet ahead of Sho, then waits for him to catch up.

“You’re slow,” he says, but it’s in a light and teasing voice, and his eyes glitter like the evening stars peeking between the clouds above them. “Don’t lag behind so much, okay?”

Sho scoffs at him and takes him by the arm, and the electricity that darts up his skin fazes him. He hopes not enough for it to show. “Then you should hold onto me so I don’t get lost.”

They had only ended up on this outing, this date to use Jun’s carefully chosen word, because Nino and Jun refused to let Sho shy away from his feelings any longer. Nino’s gentle encouragement and Jun’s outright bullying had finally forced him to call Tomoya and suggest they go out together, just the two of them, and he had nearly swallowed his tongue in the process of spitting the words out. And that had been just a phone call, which made him all the more nervous about the actual date itself. The last thing he wants to do is ruin the bond the two of them already have, their carefully cultivated friendship, because of something like love.

Tomoya grins down at him— he has an unfair height advantage over Sho without even trying, all six feet of him, and that doesn’t include the fact he’s broad and strong-looking even if he’s one of the most gentle men Sho has ever met. He shakes Sho off of his arm— and if Sho lets go with a slight pang of uncertainty, so be it— before he throws that arm around Sho’s shoulders, pulling him up against his side hard enough that Sho squeaks, a just barely audible noise. He hopes Tomoya doesn’t hear it, biting down on his bottom lip to muffle any more traitorous noises, but Tomoya only hauls Sho down the sidewalk with him, humming loudly.

“Where do you want to go, then?” Tomoya asks him, stopping at a corner and looking down at him, giving Sho’s shoulders a squeeze as he does.

The closeness and the darkness of the night even with the city lights brightening everything around them makes this feel suddenly intimate and Sho clears his throat around the knot forming in it. “I… I don’t know. Did you have any ideas in mind?”

Tomoya looks thoughtful at that and Sho drops his eyes to the ground, telling himself to take a couple of deep breaths so he doesn’t let himself become overwhelmed. After all, this is Tomoya Nagase. They’ve known each other for so long and Sho really has no right to feel so worried around him, so conscious of where he puts his hands and how he holds himself. He wets his lips, which have gone dry likely from nerves just like the rest of his mouth, and has to bite down hard on another squeak when Tomoya abruptly drags him across the street with him.

“I have somewhere in mind,” he announces, almost sing-songing the words.

“Oh, that’s… Okay.” Sho doesn’t know what else to say. “So where are we going, then?”

The way Tomoya grins down at him makes his face feel hot. “It’s a surprise, Sho-kun.”

“Okay, then.” Sho shouldn’t overthink the way Tomoya says his name, but his brain seems in unusually high gear tonight and won’t let him ignore it. “I’ll just have to trust you, then.”

Tomoya flashes him a smile that’s all bright eyes and white teeth and Sho allows himself to be hauled from one street to another, still safely wrapped in one of Tomoya’s arms. Would this be normal, if they were… A couple? Just thinking the idea makes Sho’s face heat up again and he swears softly, pulling at the bottom of his shirt to give his nervous fingers something to do. This is normal, there’s nothing unusual about going out for a night with a friend. Even if that friend is someone you happen to be in love with, and have been in love with, for years.

The fact they end up in a park a little ways away from the main heart of the city and therefore quieter and more appealing doesn’t surprise Sho. He knew Tomoya had always been interested in plantlife, and the farming he and Tokio had done together had only strengthened that.

“It’s quieter here and you looked a little overwhelmed back there. I thought you might like a quiet walk.” Tomoya drops his arm from Sho’s shoulders, and Sho tries to tell himself not to be so disappointed before Tomoya holds out a hand to him. “Want to hold hands? If that makes it all weirdly romantic for you, we don’t have to. I just… Sometimes having an anchor helps.”

“Thank you.” Sho takes Tomoya’s hand in his, rougher and callused, the hands of a musician, of a farmer, of a man who’s always worked hard in his life. “It does help, a lot actually.”

Tomoya grins at him again, tugs him toward the dirt path through trees hung with faintly glowing fairy lights. “Masahiro and I used to go for walks when I first joined. It was stressful, y’know?”

“Jun was stressed when Arashi first debuted,” Sho admits. “Youngest member things, I think.”

Sho remembers that all too well. They had all been nervous and scared at first, but Jun was the youngest, and everything had hit him just a little bit harder than it had the rest of them.

“A lot of people really hated me. They’d send me these nasty letters, they’d say all these awful things about how Tokio didn’t need me. Sometimes I still think about that.” Tomoya manages a smile despite the words and Sho swallows past the much larger lump forming in his throat at the thought. He’d heard things, but hearing Tomoya confirm it… “So we went on walks to decompress.”

The thought of Tomoya, young and awkward like he used to be, walking somewhere with Masahiro, maybe on an evening like this or maybe in the middle of a busy afternoon, to relax from the stress of being told how much everyone hated him… Sho swallowed again and tipped his head back, hoping it looked like he was looking up at the stars and not about to cry.

“You okay?” Tomoya asks, and Sho thinks, briefly, that his ploy didn’t work at all.

“That’s just a sad thing to think about. You were… Just a kid, still, when you joined Tokio. Kids don’t deserve to hear that.” Tomoya doesn’t deserve to hear that. Tomoya, who is so kind and warm to everyone, whose heart is bigger than anyone’s Sho has ever met before.

“Hey, hey.” Tomoya stops their walking and uses his hand in Sho’s to reel Sho closer, settling his other arm around Sho’s shoulders once again. “It was… Yeah, it was a bad time, but don’t cry over it. Things changed after a while. I’m still here, still with the band. Everything is fine now.”

When Sho’s lower lip wobbles, he bites down on it hard to keep it still and takes another slow, deep breath to try to calm himself. His eyes sting, and his vision swims for a moment before he hurriedly tries to blink the tears away. He’s affected by the story and it’s probably worse than it would normally be because he’s been overwhelmed just being here with Tomoya, in his presence, just the two of them, and because Tomoya is one of his closest friends.

Tomoya must know he’s still on the urge of breaking down because he pulls Sho into his arms, wrapping both of them around him tight and strong, holding Sho against his chest as firmly as he can. Sho hesitates before hugging Tomoya back, pressing his face into his shoulder, and he’s such an idiot for getting worked up like this. He’s fine, nothing happened to him on such a scale, Tomoya was the one who was treated so terribly when he was just a kid, so why is Sho the one getting so upset about it? Tomoya has been holding himself together just fine.

“I think that’s the first time anyone’s almost cried over hearing that story,” Tomoya muses, and Sho groans, pressing his face harder into Tomoya’s shoulder, against the fabric of his jacket. “Don’t sound so upset! I really… It’s kind of sweet that it matters so much to you, actually.”

“I feel like a bit of an idiot. You seem perfectly fine, and then there’s me. God, I feel stupid.” Sho laughs even as he rubs furiously at his eyes, trying to halt the tears still struggling to fall. Of course, it had to be something like this. Tomoya is probably just trying to be nice to him.

Tomoya’s fingers slip beneath his chin and tilt it up so that their eyes meet, and Sho is aware of just how close the two of them are right now. “Well, you shouldn’t feel like an idiot. Like I said, it’s sweet that you care so much. Caring that someone was hurt isn’t something to be ashamed of. I’m okay now, though, I promise. You think you can smile for me, Sho?”

Sho manages a smile, if a watery one. “Yeah. Sorry, I just… I’m glad you’re okay now.”

“Of course I’m okay. I had a strong support system.” Tomoya uses the end of his sleeve to dab the corner of Sho’s eye, drying up a tear before it can fall thankfully. “I didn’t mean to make you cry! The walk was supposed to make you feel better, not worse. I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry. I do feel better.” Sho takes a step back and takes a breath, gives himself a little shake and then smiles true to prove his point. “C’mon. I still want to walk with you.”

Tomoya cocks his head at him, a curious smile on his lips, but offers Sho his hand once more and doesn’t say anything when Sho ignores that in favor of taking him by the arm once more. The park is quiet this late at night with only a few couples making use of the paths through it and Sho leans his head on Tomoya’s shoulder, taking in the peace and quiet around them.

When Tomoya pulls him off of the path into the shade of a few trees whose lights are either not on or have gone off, Sho feels his breath trip in his lungs. No one can see them here, and Tomoya must know that because he leans Sho back against a tree. “Sorry. But if I was gonna ask to kiss you, I wasn’t gonna do it in front of who even knows out here.”

Sho almost swallows his tongue. “You really don’t have to ask me that.”

Tomoya’s teeth flash white even in the dark and he uses that unfair height advantage so that he can lean over Sho when he kisses him, bracing a hand against the tree trunk beside Sho’s head probably to keep his balance. But his lips are warm and soft and if Sho’s eyes sting just a little behind his lids when he leans up into it, his fingers sliding into Tomoya’s hair, so be it.