“You’re staring at Doppo’s abs again,” Michizou whispers.
“Shut up, I’m not,” Chuuya replies, shoving his hand in Michizou’s face.
“You kind of are,” Ryuunosuke says.
“I’m totally not,” he snaps, keeping his voice hushed. “I mean, how do you not look? He’s fucking topless. I’d have to not look at him at all.”
“Oi, you three,” Doppo calls. “You gonna sit back there and hassle gossip or we actually getting some work done?”
“Urgh!” Chuuya jerks up to his feet and sets down his guitar. “I can’t focus like this! You guys are no help at all. I’m going downstairs to the cafe, and I’m gonna have some proper food and then maybe, just maybe, you guys will stop being such a pain in my ass and let me write some lyrics that live up to my usual amazing standards, not that you deserve them.”
“Chuuya’s such a diva today,” Michizou laughs as Chuuya sweep towards the door.
“What’s up with him?” Doppo says.
“Probably just hungry,” Ryuunosuke says. “Food sounds good.”
Footsteps come up behind Chuuya as he heads down toward the cafe on the ground floor of the building. It’s not his fault Doppo insists on drumming without a shirt on, in just a vest that totally showed off his perfectly sculpted torso and strong arms. Not that he didn’t have this problem when he was wearing a shirt. His work suit was way too attractive too and Chuuya all but melts when he puts his hair back and puts on his glasses.
No wonder Doppo has so many fans.
Inside the cafe, the youngsters are up to… something? Chuuya stares at the kids. They’ve got their chairs moves out and Gin is in a rather interesting bunny girl outfit while Ichiyou takes photos on her phone.
“What’s going on?” Ryuunosuke snaps as Chuuya sits at the counter and orders curries for each other them. “Man-tiger, what are you doing with my sister?”
“It was Ichiyou’s idea!” Atsushi cries, waving his hands, in an outfit Chuuya could swear was one of his own. “And it’s just an idea. We’re trying things out.”
“Trying what out?” Michizou says as the curries are put in front of them.
Chuuya grins, deciding to ignore the argument going on and focusing on eating. Whatever the youngsters are up to, that’s their concern. Although, as he half listens, it becomes apparent they’re trying on stage outfits.
“What do you guys think?” Junichirou says.
“Not paying any attention,” Chuuya says between mouthfuls. “If you’re not edible, I don’t care.”
“Oh?” Akiko says from the other side of the counter. “And what edible things are holding your interest right now, Chuuya?”
“You keep your innuendo away from my curry, doctor,” he grumbles.
“That’s my sister,” Ryuunosuke mutters. “I don’t want to see her in scandalous stage outfits.”
“I definitely wasn’t looking,” Michizou replies, suspiciously red.
“You guys are no help at all,” Atsushi sighs. “Kunikida, you’re the voice of reason around here. What do you think?”
“Why are you even doing this?” Doppo says.
“We saw this amazing band today,” Junichirou says. “And we thought maybe we should do something to up our stage presence.”
“Aren’t you guys missing the point?” he replies. “What you’re wearing doesn’t make your songs good or bad. People’s hearts aren’t won over so easily by a costume.”
Chuuya nods along, despite being focused on his food. He might like to wear his lucky hat and always felt off without gloves, but his music would still enchant the hearts of his fans whether he was dressed in rags or those expensive gaudy hideously bright ugly things that bastard Dazai wore - seriously, who could you pay that much for something that ugly? - or even nothing at all!
“Yes,” Ichiyou says, “but we thought maybe if we worked on our original look, it might help with out popularity.”
“It’s not about just being popular!” Doppo snaps.
They turn to find him stood from his seat, everyone staring. After a moment, Doppo’s eyes soften as he realises his outburst and turns away.
“I’ve got to work early tomorrow,” he says and stalks out.
“Hey,” Chuuya calls after him. “You’re leaving so early? You’ve barely touched your food.”
“Sorry,” Doppo mutters and walks out.
Chuuya frowns and tilts his head. What was all that about?
“Maybe we did get a bit carried away,” Ichiyou sighs.
“Kunikida’s right,” Atsushi says. “Stage costumes aren’t going to win over crowds. We can’t cover our struggles with fancy outfits.”
“It was fun dressing up for a bit though,” Junichirou laughs.
Gin nods only for Ryuunosuke to throw his coat over her. “Stop playing dress up and put some clothes on.”
“Are you not into cosplay, Ryuu?” Michizou laughs.
The streets around their building are dark and quiet, perfect for Doppo to walk home lost in his thoughts. He shouldn’t have snapped. He shouldn’t have said that much. It’s not really their fault. They’re kids. Of course they think being popular is important. Of course they want to be popular. Don’t they all? But that’s not reason to do stupid things like dress up in costumes and change themselves.
Doppo frowns, a dark gaze meeting his in his memories, smiling and laughing.
There’s a figure up ahead; familiar and strange all at once. Doppo almost doesn’t recognise him sometimes. He leans against the street lamp, bright clothes totally out of place. Dark hair has been bleached blond, colourful streaks running through it.
“Long time no see, Doppo,” Osamu chirps.
His eyes are brighter now, Doppo thinks. Or perhaps he’s just started wearing contacts that make them look that way, to go with the rest of the image shift. And he can see two eyes now, his face no longer half hidden by bandages.
“Is it ok for you to be here?” Doppo says. He almost scolds himself for being concerned. “Won’t you get into trouble if the record breaking number one star is spotted in a place like this? Or talking with a rival band member?”
“Rival?” Doppo ignores the hint of a smirk that is quickly schooled into a small smile. “I never got to thank you properly for the other day. You ignored me when I tried. That's terrible rude, so I had to come and try again, you see.” Osamu straightens up and beams, voice shifting up to an obnoxiously fake pitch. “Thank you for helping me shine on stage the other day, Doppo!”
Doppo purses his lips, eyes narrowed. He can practically see the stars and glitter sparkling around the bastard as he smiles back at him expectantly. Does that really work on his fans?
After a moment, waiting to see if he’d get something more real for him, Doppo sighs and shoves his hands in his pockets, carrying on down the street and passed Osamu.
“You haven’t changed at all,” he says quietly as Osamu’s smile fades a little. “I still can’t like you one bit.”
“But, I’m waiting for you, Doppo,” Osamu sighs with dramatic flare.
Doppo pauses. Waiting for him?
This time when Osamu speaks, his voice is low and dangerous, as it always used to be. “Hurry up and drag yourself and that chibi of yours up onto my stage already.”
Doppo whips around, throwing his fist straight at Osamu’s face, only to meet thin air. That smile was the one he knew. The easy side step, glittering bright eyes and smugness as he read Doppo’s movements.
He stops, glaring over his shoulder at Osamu, who’s hands are deep in his pockets, smiling back at him over his own shoulder, eyes sharp and mischievous behind his high collar.
“You haven’t grown soft living your pampered life with that Mori bastard then?” Osamu’s eyes soften slightly. “Osamu-”
“You’re the only one who calls me that anymore,” he says and tilts his head away.
“Oi, Doppo,” calls Chuuya’s voice. Doppo tilts his head. Chuuya, Michizou and Ryuunosuke are wandering down the empty street. “Wait for us.”
“Your chibi is cute,” Osamu says. “You should keep a tight hold on him.”
“Later, Doppo,” he laughs.
This time Doppo is sure he sees radiant sparkles as he winks before flitting away and somehow blending into the darkness like a ghost.
“Who was that?” Chuuya says as he turns to his bandmates. “Someone you know?”
“Not really,” he sighs, tiltings his head. “What are you three doing?”
“We’re going to get ramen,” he replies with a grin, like it’s totally obvious.
Doppo tilts his head. “Didn’t you just have curry?”
“Idiot,” he sighs. “Curry might as well be a drink, you know?”
“I’d much rather go for ramen anyway,” Michizou says with a shrug.
“You’re the ones who always talk about how I should eat more,” Ryuunosuke says.
Doppo stares down at them for a moment. How had he ended up with friends like these three? He smiles and lowers his head. Honestly? They came all this way with such lame excuses?
“I guess I have no choice,” he says, turning away. “Let’s go. I guess as the only one with a full-time job, I’ll treat you this time.”
There are quick footsteps behind him and Chuuya’s weight presses down on his back for a moment, arm slung around his shoulder. Their cheeks press together for a moment and Chuuya’s grin is utterly dazzling. And then Chuuya’s feet touch the ground, the others joining them as they walk through the streets. Chuuya leans against his side as they walk and Doppo’s hand slips into his.
Keep a tight hold of him, Osamu had warned. Doppo had no intention of doing anything less.