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How much delicious salty-sweet caramel popcorn can Tori eat at once before looking greedy in front of Eichi? He’s not sure. He sinks lower in his giant deluxe-ticket cinema seat, kicking his legs a little, and reaches out to take another five pieces as quietly as possible.

Two seats to his left, Wataru is explaining something about the director of the film in a tone so overly loud and authoritative that the people sitting around their group are listening in tense silence, as if taking mental notes. One seat closer, Eichi is rapt, nodding at all the right moments and making oh-so-eloquent comments like Ohh and M-hm to encourage him. Except on noticing their audience, when he stretches luxuriously and lets his arm fall around Wataru’s shoulders, pulling him close, before continuing. So possessive. Of course everything Eichi does is perfect and incredible, but he really can be embarrassing sometimes.

Meanwhile to Tori’s right, Yuzuru is -

“Bocchama, remember to practice moderation when indulging in unbalanced foods,” Yuzuru says primly, catching him by the wrist as he goes in for another piece of popcorn. “I should not be letting you eat this at all.”

“Oh, quiet, I’ve barely had any, and commoner food is sooo tasty...” Tori pulls his hand away - struggles to pull it away - strains every muscle in his body and fails to escape Yuzuru’s iron grip on his wrist - “President, help, Yuzuru is bullying me,” he whines. “ President ! Eichi-sama…!”

Eichi looks around at last. “Yuzuru, let him do whatever,” he says radiantly.

“I am afraid I do not have license to be quite so irresponsible, President-sama.”

“When I was a little younger than him the only thing I could stomach was nutritional jelly. I know the real value of food by now; let the children of the world be showered in such riches.“

“President-sama, I am afraid you do not know the value of food, as you attempted to pay for that popcorn with ten-yen coins.”

“I thought ordinary people’s food was supposed to be cheap! I feel cheated. But that’s ad hominem. I’m still right.”

“Fufu. Cinema refreshments are never cheap. How pleasant it is to see President-sama show a little naiveté... Although, it is rather common fare.”

“What’s common now - the food, or me slipping up…? Yuzuru, are you ignoring me and arguing ad hominem again ? How charmingly stubborn.”

Tori looks between the two of them. Yuzuru really is being stubborn. And there’s a musical note in Eichi’s voice, even more than usual, and Tori can't tell if it’s threatening or if he's really having fun. He doesn't want them to be having fun, or to start talking about something else - he only loves it when they fight over him! He knows they’re friends or at least weird about each other somehow even when he’s not there, but he doesn't like the idea. He definitely doesn't like the idea of Eichi messing with Yuzuru - Yuzuru is Tori’s slave only, other people aren't allowed to do that.

Eichi taps his chin. “What does an upright young man like you come to the cinema to watch anyway, hmm? I’m ever so curious.”

Wait, what? Tori twists in his seat. “Yuzuru, you went to watch movies? Without me? And yeah, what were they?” This is very interesting. He doesn't know anything Yuzuru does for fun except cleaning and taking pictures of him.

Yuzuru gently twists him to face forward again. “Eat your popcorn, Bocchama.” Typical Yuzuru. Tori grumbles, but he knows there’s no point in pushing for an answer.  

The movie theatre falls into a hush as the adverts play out and, finally, the movie begins. The screen, no, everything is in pitch darkness. The silence is absolute... Finally, there is light, and colour, and movement, and a voice rings out -

- it’s Wataru’s voice. “Amazing! As you can see, the composition of this shot is crafted to lead the eye toward the shadowy figure that will later turn out to be the monster! And so, as we slowly pan down...“

He gives a play-by-play of the cinematography for about five minutes straight before it becomes unbearably clear that he’s not going to stop, not for love nor money nor actually listening to the film.

Eichi leans over to him. “Wataru, would you mind staying quiet for now? You can explain after it’s over.”

And just like that, Wataru shuts up. So obedient. Tori is glad even a freak like him knows Eichi is worth listening to. He settles back to watch the movie properly, content.

 

--

 

By the time they walk out of the cinema theatre Wataru is skipping about and cackling about the love the actors had for their characters, Eichi is in some kind of serenely dreamy state which requires Wataru to lead him by the hand, and Yuzuru is exactly the same as usual. Absolutely none of their behaviours would suggest to an onlooker that they’d been to see a horror film, which they totally had and Tori is going to have nightmares for weeks even though Yuzuru kept covering his eyes when things got graphic. The awful peeling motion that thing had used… ugh! And the sound it made, too!

Wataru rounds on them as soon as they get out onto the street. “Well? What is the verdict from my fine companions? Did you like it? Were you scared?”

“Haah... I want to try beating that monster myself. I can think of a few good traps to set for it already.”

“Oh my, quite a normal response from you, Eichi. Butler-san, how about you?”

Yuzuru looks down demurely. “The special effects were a little underwhelming, if I may say so.”

“But they worked, did they not!”

Wataru looks waaay too pleased and puffed-up. Tori shakes a fist at him. “Long Hair, why'd you have to pick that film! Not that I was scared - it just wasn't fun or happy or, y’know… it was just about bad stuff happening!”

“Oh my. You weren't scared? Then, I’ll ask you to rate my impression!”

Tori nods. “Mhm, zero out of ten. Long Hair, you always make a bad impression. I’m pretty sure you do it on pur-UMYAAAAAAAA!!“ Tori screams his lungs out on reflex as Wataru somehow appears behind them and makes the exact awful noise of the monster right there in the room with them oh god . For a moment he actually believes it, and runs to hide in Yuzuru’s arms - but Yuzuru isn't there - Yuzuru has whipped around and punched Wataru squarely in the face, knocking him a half-step off-balance.

There’s complete and stunned silence, except for the mutters of passerby (who probably think this is a publicity stunt). Yuzuru is blinking and looking innocent, which means he can't figure out how to fix the situation using politeness and is still trying to decide what to do next. Wataru is staring blankly at him, head still lolling at the uncanny angle the punch had left it at - then, slowly, a huge grin begins to spread on his face.

“Butler-san,” he breathes in a tone of deepest awe. “You were awfully scared after watching that movie, weren't you? Your defensive instincts were activated, weren’t they?”

“Hibiki-sama, I can only offer my deepest apologies,” Yuzuru replies in a slightly automatic tone. “I do not know what came over me at all. It will not happen again.”

Butler-san !” Wataru repeats joyfully at full bellow. He takes a step forward, spreading his arms wide like a conductor whipping up the orchestra, or a mother welcoming her child for a hug. Yuzuru twitches. “Show it to me again! That beautiful visage of yours which I have had the privilege to merely glimpse…!”

Tori jumps as Wataru begins to run at Yuzuru, making that awful monster-noise again. Yuzuru sidesteps neatly - Wataru pivots to follow his movements - Yuzuru sidesteps again before giving up and breaking into a full sprint down the street, pursued by a monster sprouting strands of hair that reach out to catch at his arms.

“Ah, are we playing tag again? I’ll admit I’m not especially good at that one.” Eichi smiles down as Tori takes the chance to skip in closer and cling at his arm.

“Eichi-samaaa, why is Long Ha... Hibiki-senpai so interested in Yuzuru?”

Eichi laughs. “I can think of a few reasons, but who can say for sure? Speculating about Wataru’s true thoughts is a little futile.” He shades his eyes to peer at the pair, and sighs. “I wish he would chase me like that.”

“No way! Eichi-sama, obviously you should be the one doing the chasing. No, you should be able to get what you like without moving at all. And if anyone tried to chase you , security guards should stop them.”

Eichi pats his head, which is one of the best feelings in the universe. “Cute Tori, even I know that’s not how tag works.”

“It’s how it should work for you though?”

“No, following rules is what make games worth playing, rules give solidity to the world… Although it sounds obvious when you put it like that. In any case, shall we catch up to them? I feel bad for poor Yuzuru.”

“Hmm-m, I don’t think we can go fast enough to catch them though? I wish I could say that Yuzuru will come back to me like a dog if I whistle for him, but…?”

“Ah, you’re right. I think a cellphone might work better.” Eichi gets his out. “It’s a shame to sternly put a stop to the fun like this, though.”

An idea strikes Tori. “Eichi-sama…? Do you want to play a different game? I play it with Yuzuru aaaall the time, you know. Hide-and-seek. We can make them run around searching for us, as punishment for leaving so rudely, see.”

Eichi smiles angelically. It would have been a mischievous grin on any less dignified and handsome of a face. “Hide-and-seek across the whole of town? What a perfect idea - thank you, adorable Tori. That’s a much more fitting game for the likes of us. No, even better, it’ll be like we’re in the movie again, hiding from the monster. Fufu, I’ll make the call first, then let’s start on our battle plan...”