“I’m not so sure about this anymore, Shiko.”
Takuya ran a harried hand through his hair and took a deep breath. He’d been so excited when he’d woken up this morning. It was his first day officially meeting his new band. His new band made up of people that had a reputation amongst the idol regime while he was just a small name with barely any experience.
“What’s wrong, Taku?” Takuya could hear a door close on the other end of the line before the soft creak of a mattress giving way under the weight of someone sitting on it. “I thought you were excited about this.”
“I was… am,” Takuya sighed and crouched down in the empty corridor he’d found. “But… Shiko, I can’t even pretend to compete. Kamakari-san alone is better than I could dream to be… Not to mention Yonehara-san and Hosogai-san and Suzuki-san…. And they’re all so much older than me and they all know each other or have worked together or-“
The boy bit down on his tongue and stared at the floor in front of him. His free hand hugged his knee slightly.
“This isn’t like you,” the voice on the other end was worried with a hint of something Takuya understood as disappointment, but whether it was intended to be that or not, he didn’t know. “You’re not there to compete. You’re there to learn, to grow. You’ve been given this amazing opportunity to work with these guys, and from what I’ve heard, they’re all nice guys, and let them mentor you. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re still eighteen. You’re still young. You’ve got a lot to learn and a long time to do it in. So stop worrying, just relax and enjoy yourself. Okay?”
Takuya sniffed and nodded. “Okay.”
“Good. Now stop hiding in a corner-“
“I’m in a hallway.”
“Whatever. Stop hiding and go back to the group and start making a name for yourself.”
“Alright…” Takuya took a deep breath in before letting it out slowly. “Thanks Shiko…”
“Anytime, Taku. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Takuya farewelled his old partner and held his phone against his ear even after the line went dead. He listened to the monotone beep for a few seconds before heaving a sigh and moving the phone so he could stare at the screen. He snapped it closed, the sound echoing down the empty hallway.
Takuya’s head whipped to the side and looked up at the tall man who had appeared at one end of the hallway. “H-Hosogai-san,” he stuttered out in surprise, quickly standing. “Wh-What are you doing here?”
Kei seemed just as surprised as Takuya, and perhaps a little guilty, and took a moment to return his expression to something that was at least somewhat neutral. “I-I… I was looking for a door outside so I could get some fresh air.”
The boy blinked as he thought about that for a moment. He was tempted to just nod and duck his head and slip past to go and find a new hiding spot, but Shiko’s words were still running around in his head.
“Wouldn’t… it be easier if you go back out the door we came through to get into the building?” he suggested, trying to keep his tone neutral, or at least as non-offensive as he could. “All that’s back here is storage and hallways. No doors and no people.”
“Apart from you.”
“… yeah. Apart from me.”
Kei lifted a hand to rub the back of his head and turned his head to one side, staring at the wall beside him. Silence passed between them for a few minutes, Takuya’s gaze dropping down to his feet and staying there.
“Have you been down here the whole time?” Kei’s tone was quiet, as though he didn’t want to break the silence or didn’t want to be heard. “When you said you were going to the bathroom, did you just come straight here?”
Takuya didn’t lift his head and just nodded. “I… had to call a friend.”
The rapper blinked and lifted his head to look at the older man. “Y-You… you were listening?” He wasn’t sure whether to be embarrassed or angry that someone had been listening in on his conversation, so he just nodded his head and folded his arms across his chest.
“I’m sorry,” Kei’s apology was formal and soft as he took a couple of steps closer to the younger. “But… is that really how you feel? About all of us?” Takuya hesitated before giving a slight nod.
The boy’s face began to heat up and he found himself crouching down again to hide it. Unfortunately, Kei followed, crouching down and running a hand into his hair.
“I don't know about the others but… I think you’re pretty awesome,” Kei tucked his hair behind his ear. “You write your own raps, right?” Takuya nodded, still not looking at him. Kei smiled. “That’s better than any of us can do. Kamakari-san can rap but only after spending a lot of time staring at the lyrics. Yonehara-san and Suzuki-san can’t rap, though. And I definitely can’t.”
Something about what Kei had said made Takuya blink and lift his head. “You… Why are you calling them that?”
Kei blinked right back, having to think about it for a moment. He laughed when he realized what Takuya was talking about. “Because I’m like you. I’m not a big name like them, and I don’t know them. I’ve met Kamakari-san once or twice before with Tenimyu things, but apart from that…”
Takuya’s mouth formed a silent ‘oh’ and he looked down at the floor again. He stared at it intently, even when he started talking. “I don’t think Hosogai-san is a small name,” his voice was low, almost a whisper, as though he didn’t want even Kei to hear. “I always watch your shows, and your English is just so… so…” He bit down on his lip in thought, struggling to find the word he wanted to use. “So perfect. Everything you do is. Half the reason I went to Tenimyu was so that I could see you.” He was rambling like an obsessive fangirl and it was making his face heat up with every word he said, but he didn’t stop until a hand was placed on his shoulder and squeezed slightly.
He didn’t look up as the hand on his shoulder moved to ruffle his hair then ran down his arm to grab his hand.
“You really are cute.” Takuya barely heard what Kei said, the words almost too far below a whisper to be caught. They made the blush on his cheeks deepen and Kei just chuckled when he saw. “You’re definitely going to be a favourite with the fans. You’re already mine.”
Takuya had been sure he couldn’t go any redder, but every time Kei said something, it just seemed to prove him wrong. He kept staring at the floor, even when he felt a tugging at his hand.
“Come on, Ide-san,” Kei was slowly standing from his crouch, trying to pull Takuya to his feet as well. “The other three are worried since you’ve been gone so long.”
The rapper slowly stood, looking up at Kei. His cheeks were still red but he was wearing a small smile. “Call me Takuya.”
Kei returned the smile and gave the hand still in his a squeeze. “Only if you call me Kei.”