Actions

Work Header

love encased in amber

Work Text:

Kohaku hops off of Madara’s motorcycle with aching arms and fresh bruises littering his small body. It’s just a dull, throbbing pain at this point — they hurt, but they’ve always just been a constant feature of his appearance. Madara and Kohaku are anything but normal teenage friends, but they vaguely seem to resemble it for a brief fleeting moment when Madara instantly attacks Kohaku’s already windswept hair the moment he takes off his helmet. With newly ruffled bangs and a faint embarrassed blush coating his cheeks, Kohaku yells a goodbye to his ride home and digs through his pockets for his keys.

Well, it’s not actually Kohaku’s home. It’s Niki’s, to be more specific, but in Kohaku’s mind (and probably Niki's as well), it’s his too. Niki generally spends most of his free time in his ES dorm room now, but he still likes using this old place he lived at beforehand as storage for himself and Rinne, so he keeps it around. Lately Crazy:B have been using it as a consistent meeting spot away from the hustle and bustle that makes up the chaotic ES dorms.

Chaos is inescapable in Kohaku’s life, though, as the hug he’s launched into when he’s still searching for his key proves. He lets out a gasp and tries to shove the taller man off of him, who only tightens his grip on him in response. Rinne is obnoxious , even more so than Madara, and unlike Madara, he doesn’t even have the redeeming factor of being a convenient transportation method. He lets out his signature booming laugh and puts Kohaku in a headlock, which is swiftly stopped by a lecturing voice from inside the house.

“I’ll eat your dinner for you if you keep treating him so roughly, Rinne-kun!”

From any ordinary person that’d be an empty threat, but Niki says it with complete and utter sincerity. Rinne gives Kohaku a little shove and humph of indignation as he heads back inside the house, still a petulant child even in his 20s. Kohaku just mutters a swear under his breath as he squats down to pick his keys off the doormat.

******

HiMERU raises an eyebrow at Kohaku as the younger boy sits down next to him on the couch, but doesn’t make any attempt to put down the book he’s reading. It’s some fancy classic novel written in a language Kohaku probably doesn’t know, another relic of HiMERU’s mysterious university years that Kohaku will never understand the full truth behind. HiMERU isn’t the type of person to ask about unnecessary topics, and he’s especially not the type to express concern for others so openly, but there’s a twinge of pity in his expression as he looks down at the boy next to him.

Kohaku is long accustomed to HiMERU’s usual refusals to be the first one to speak — but he also happens to be a persistently stubborn 15 year old boy, and so he puts on his best pout and crosses his arms. A few seconds tick by before HiMERU, as the older and (slightly) more mature one, admits defeat and sets his book down. “Is there something you wish to discuss with HiMERU?”

Kohaku dodges the question and leans in a little closer to peek at what HiMERU is holding. “What’re ya readin’?”

HiMERU silently hands the novel to him and, as he expected, it makes Kohaku squint at the advanced foreign terminology decorating the cover. “Seems like a real snorefest, don’tcha think?” He puts it down next to him and then wordlessly lets himself fully lean into HiMERU’s side.

“Where are those injuries from? They look new.” HiMERU calmly folds his hands on his lap, but it’s obvious what he’s referring to, and it’s not hard to tell that he’s alarmed. “Mikejima-san dropped you off today, correct?”

“Well’a course , who else ever does?” Kohaku starts to pick at a loose string on his socks (a recent gift from Niki, impulsively purchased after a concerned chat regarding Kohaku’s excessively tiny wardrobe). He usually snaps at people when they bring up uncomfortable topics like this, but he trusts HiMERU enough at this point to reveal a bit more than he usually would. 

“Double Face work is gettin’ a lil rougher than normal lately, I s’pose. It’s real tricky to keep up with two units at once. It’s just so...exhaustin’ sometimes. Kinda reminds me of some stuff I’ve spent my life trying to run from, but that sort of thinkin' is mighty cowardly of me.”

The air between the two of them is silent for a moment — HiMERU pauses to see if Kohaku has more to say before he replies. “HiMERU will help you properly clean up those cuts after dinner. You’re doing it too sloppily and inefficiently, which will make them heal poorly.”

“Yer really not gonna say anythin’ about what I just said?”

“HiMERU just did,” is the only response he gets, but Kohaku knows that it's true. HiMERU usually doesn't offer much genuine advice, but he's scarily good at keeping secrets (perhaps even too good) and listens to Kohaku ramble about anything and everything. They’re two very different yet very similar boys with the same aversion to honesty. Some things are still too painful to admit, but they’ve both already long decided on the first unitmate they’re going to go to about them once they’re finally ready to share more someday.

Kohaku’s unspoken gratitude shows itself in the form of his head resting on HiMERU’s lap and the quiet buzz of the television in front of them that neither of them are watching.

******

Niki usually calls out to the others from the kitchen as soon as their food is ready, but today he's too preoccupied with a particular man clinging to his side. Niki has a longtime talent of working around Rinne's large presence, leaning over him to grab things and tuning out even the most annoying of noises and attempts at small talk, but he does appreciate these rarer moments of innocently quiet affection. He much prefers Rinne when he's not harassing people or actively trying to reduce the amount of clothes in the room. Niki hums a little to himself as he cooks, conveniently ignoring the body silently hugging his back and the face buried in his shoulder, and ponders over the scene from when Kohaku arrived.

Kohaku often reminds him of a younger Rinne, the same kind of wild-eyed and tough young boy with a scary lack of self-love as the one he once saved. Sometimes Kohaku brings out the same side of Niki that a younger Rinne did, the part of him that's always been desperate to help anyone in need. Although...Kohaku isn’t the type of person who shares much about himself, and in fear of appearing like some kind of annoyingly overbearing parent, Niki constantly fights against his own urge to pry for more information. He can’t help but be more worried than usual ever since Double Face started doing an increased amount of activities together, the kind that Kohaku never explains to him but always tries to hide the marks of.

It’s not like Niki dislikes Madara — he barely knows the guy, really. But something in his gut tells him that Madara isn't entirely the healthiest influence for a clearly emotionally damaged young teen, no matter how well they might understand each other’s problems and pasts (Niki, of course, thinks of his own gut as his most trustworthy tool). These kinds of formal one-on-one discussions are best suited for a later time, however, one where Rinne isn’t stuck to him like glue and one where everyone’s dinner isn’t currently cooking. This kind of situation is still useful in some ways though; after all, it means he can ask for other people’s thoughts more easily.

“Hey, Rinne-kun,” he starts. He doesn’t stop washing the plate he’s holding as he talks.

Rinne picks his head back up at the sound of Niki’s voice. “Yeah?”

“Do you ever get kinda worried about Kohaku-chan’s Double Face stuff too, or am I just goin’ crazy?”

Rinne’s voice is lower than usual, surprisingly more hesitant, before he finally replies. “Why are you askin’ something like that so outta nowhere?”

Niki isn’t super sure himself. Heavy topics are hard for him to handle, awkward and beyond what he considers to be the scope of his own emotional maturity, but something about Kohaku’s dilemma makes it feel worth pointing out.

“He’s just...really young, y’know? I always think he’s got too much on his shoulders, if that makes sense.” Niki picks up another plate. “He’s outspoken and honest when he needs to be, but that alone doesn’t make him any stronger, I guess.”

“I think he’s fine...probably.”

“He’s 15 , Rinne-kun.”

Rinne finally releases his firm grip on Niki before leaning back against a nearby kitchen cabinet instead. “And you were even younger than that when you started takin’ care of lil ol’ Rinne-kun. What’s your point?” He rolls up his sleeves as he approaches the stove Niki’s standing in front of. “Anyways, I’m starving, are you done yet?”

Niki lightly taps Rinne’s arm with a spoon, annoyed, and gives him his best “I’m trying to be serious right now” expression. For someone with a face as sweet and immature as Niki’s, however, trying to look strict is always a futile effort. Rinne hovers over the pot and his eyes shine. “Mmm, maybe not ready yet, but it’s already smellin’ good anyways~.”

“I didn’t ask for your cooking advice , Rinne-kun…” Niki sets down everything he’s holding and crosses his arms, staring up at the taller man. Rinne is being a pain in the ass as always, intentionally insufferable and always dodging the point of any conversation just because he feels like it. He’s almost never someone worth having discussions like this with. Frankly, Niki’s not really sure why he’s even trying right now. “I kinda wonder what HiMERU-kun thinks...I think Kohaku-chan’s more open with him, right? Maybe?”

“Well, if you’re really askin’ me, like for real ...I think I kinda get what he’s thinkin’.” Rinne is finally admitting defeat, his grin fading away into something more fitting for the mood. There’s a hint of more somber memories in his features. “I mean, when I was new to the city, I never wanted anyone to know I needed help...it killed my pride a lil’ bit when you insisted on doing so much shit for me.”

“Ehh?!”

“He’s still kinda new to the city too, did ya forget? He’s a tough kid, he never tells us stuff ‘cuz he hates being babied or talked down to.”

The youngest member of Crazy:B is stronger than the rest of them in some ways, like a persistent little insect who only recently dug his way out of his amber prison and isn't quite used to having freedom yet, but he’s still the youngest member of Crazy:B at his core. He’s by no means clueless or weak, not at all, but he’s mostly unaware of what being deeply loved feels like, and he’s lived his whole life heavily in solitude up until recently. He’s resistant to affection and runs from friendship. He’s experienced in things someone his age shouldn’t be experienced in, and inexperienced in rather ordinary things at the same time. 

He’s also a master of silently approaching people, but Niki still jumps every time it happens. He’s like a cat, stealthily slinking around corners without making a single noise. Whether this is always an intentional choice or if it’s just a habit influenced by his upbringing and Double Face work is debatable.

“Are ya almost done cookin’ yet? My stomach’s gonna be achin' real soon.”

Kohaku is mostly unfazed by the sight in front of him; it’s normal to see Rinne all over people, especially Niki — but this still doesn’t stop Kohaku from making a grossed out face when he sees them together sometimes. 

“Yeah, you can probably start setting up your spot at the table if you want to. Dinner’s coming right up~!” Niki answers. His conversation with Rinne has ended almost as quickly as it began, frustratingly uneventful and unproductive.

“Alright, I’ll tell HiMERU-han in a sec.” Kohaku’s usual grace fades away when he opens the fridge and immediately drops the water bottle he takes out of it. “Damn it…” he grumbles as he bends over to pick it up.

“You look half-asleep.” Niki can’t stop himself from commenting on it. Kohaku’s hair is a mess and his eyes are half-closed; nobody ever wants to point out the dark bags he constantly has under them. 

“I just took a lil’ nap a second ago when I was hangin’ out with HiMERU-han.” Kohaku straightens himself back up and stares at Rinne again. He gestures at the older man with the bottle. “By the way, what’s his problem? He’s actin’ even grosser than usual, and that's a tricky thing to achieve for him.” He leans against the fridge, uncapping his water bottle, and takes a big sip out of it.

Rinne doesn’t react, his face hidden against Niki’s back again. “He just likes affection. Even Rinne-kun has a cute side sometimes, y’know~?”

An accusation like that prompts Rinne to take action. He flings his arms around Niki’s shoulders and starts smothering his cheek with quick little kisses, the kind that make Niki laugh hysterically and Kohaku grimace in disgust. “My beloveddddd Niki~! When we get married someday, we aren’t gonna invite kids as bratty as this one is to the ceremony!” 

Kohaku scoffs after making a mock gagging gesture. “Shouldn’t have asked. Yer a real buncha weirdos, as usual.” But there’s a hint of a fond smile on his face too as Rinne settles down and goes back to wrapping his arms around Niki’s back. “Oh, by the way…” He makes his way to the doorway to the kitchen. "Next time yer gonna gossip about me, can ya at least have the courtesy to do it more quietly?” 

And with that, he’s out of the room as quickly as he entered it.

Rinne laughs and starts poking through various different kitchen cabinets to help prepare for dinner. “I told ya he’s all good. If he’s still got enough attitude to say shit like that to us, he’s doing fine enough.”

Niki goes back to stirring. “I’m sure you wouldn’t say that about your brother, who, may I remind you , is only one year older than our dear little Kohaku-chan is.”

“Well…” Rinne ponders this, and then admits defeat by setting down a stack of plates a little too loudly. “You got me there, you jerk.”

“I think you should talk to him about how you really feel, by yourself. I bet it’d help. It’s worth a shot, at least.” Niki gives him a warm look that's saved only for him, the kind that makes Rinne’s face heat up despite having already seen it a million times by now. “He reminds me so much of how you used to be, y’know~?”

“Fine, fine, you’re probably right…”

Emotions and honesty were difficult for Rinne, awkward and a battle to force out of him. He preferred sitting back and showing how he cared about people with his actions more than with his words. But Niki always knew best, that was something he was sure of, even if he rarely admitted that to his stupid boyfriend who looked for any chance to tease him about his softer side.

“For now I guess you can go tell HiMERU-kun to get ready, if Kohaku-chan hasn’t done it already,” Niki instructs.

As Rinne is about to leave the kitchen, Niki tugs on his shirt sleeve and leans up to place a quick kiss on his lips. “Thanks for trying, by the way. That makes me super happy.”

Oh , Rinne thinks with a burning red face, I really do have it bad for this guy.

******

Dinner is as uneventful as a dinner made up of Crazy:B’s members can be. Kohaku is the first to finish his meal, even before Niki, which makes all three of his unitmates raise an eyebrow at him. They know something must be wrong if Kohaku is rushing so quickly that he’s eating faster than Niki of all people.

Rinne approaches him in the living room after finishing his own meal. He finds the younger boy curled up on the floor, leaning against the bottom of a chair and mindlessly scrolling on his phone. Without announcing his presence, Rinne sits down next to him and pokes Kohaku’s forehead.

“Which app are you rotting your brain with this time, kid?” He tries to lean over to peek at Kohaku’s phone, but is met with his own reflection on a pitch black screen. He puts on his best offended tone of voice, the one that always makes Kohaku annoyed. “Aww, you turned it off right when I showed up? That’s so cruel! So mean!”

Kohaku sighs, placing his phone on the carpet, and looks up at him. “Whaddya want? I’m really not in the mood for yer bullshit right now.”

Rinne thinks for a moment. He hadn’t actually planned out his approach to this. He’s the type of person who finds greater success from improvising and adapting to the situations presented to him, a true gambler at heart.

And so, he begins their conversation with a gamble of a question.

“Are you…like… feeling okay?”

Narrowed purple eyes glare up at him, and he silently thanks whatever higher power made his own little brother the sweetest angel of a teenager he’s ever met.

“I should be asking you that, ‘cuz there’s no way in hell you’d ever come up to me just to ask how I’m doing.”

He should’ve expected this type of cold reaction; this is just how Kohaku is sometimes. But Rinne is the one member of their unit that beats him in sheer stubbornness levels, and so he keeps pushing forward.

“You’ve been looking all mopey lately, and it’s starting to bug me. Don’t tell me you got your little heart broken by that crush of yours or something. I can’t deal with that kind of teenager shit anymore. What was that kid’s name again, anyway?”

Kohaku buries his cheek deeper into the carpet, huffing in annoyance. “You've really gotta stop assuming stuff about my friendships.” He pauses, and then becomes more honest. “I’m just a lil’ bit burned out nowadays, I suppose.”

“Jackpot, that’s what I was waitin’ for you to admit.” Rinne grins and ruffles Kohaku’s hair. “Tell your Big Bro Rinne-kun what’s wrong, I gotta hear all the details. I’m way too experienced with that kind of thing, and I’m also your unit’s leader, so I sorta have to care about that.”

“Ya only ever act like a leader when it’s convenient for ya…” Kohaku sticks out his tongue, irritated. “Anyways, I dunno. I love idol stuff, don’t get me wrong, but…”

“But what? Spill it.”

“...I know this sounds real foolish, just absolutely ridiculous of me, but sometimes when I see my friends from ES talkin’ about their school problems and stuff like that, I kinda wish mine were as simple as theirs are.”

Ahh, so it’s like that, Rinne thinks, If anyone understands that feeling, it’s me.

“Well you’ve come to the right person, little dude, because I’m the living proof that you don’t need a normal education to succeed later in life!” He points a finger at himself, smug and confident, and Kohaku laughs a little.

“You ain’t exactly the epitome of success, Rinne-han.”

“But I got you to smile again, so that counts for something, doesn’t it?” Rinne says. He crosses his legs, looking up at the ceiling fan, unable to say anything too honest if he can see the expression Kohaku makes in response to it while he talks. “I worried about that kind of stuff too when I was a teen. I always felt kinda crappy whenever I saw Niki stressing over his homework and shit like that. Like, why couldn’t I have a life as normal as that?”

“Mhm, it’s somethin’ like that type of feeling.”

“Then I realized, isn’t it pretty fuckin' cool that I have the chance to make my life whatever I want it to be now? Like, once I left my hometown, I could do whatever I wanted! And yet, for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to leave Niki’s side.”

“I ain’t here for your nasty love stories,” Kohaku groans.

“That’s not what I meant, shut up. I’m just trying to say that…I dunno…I think everyone can make the most of their circumstances, no matter how rough they are.”

“I don’t get it.”

Rinne looks back down at him again, and for a moment he feels the same way he does when he explains things to Hiiro. “Look at it like this. You’ve got this great opportunity in front of you. You spent your whole life locked away or whatever, but now you just ate a fuckin’ delicious meal made by a guy who’d do just about anything for you, with two other guys who feel that way too. Isn’t that a pretty awesome change?”

“I’m still not seein’ yer point.” Kohaku’s tone is impatient, but despite his words, he clearly isn’t making any effort to stop the conversation anymore. “Hurry it up.”

“Things can change , dude. You just have to let them do their thing, and make the most of the cards life has dealt you in the meantime. If you care enough to put your mind to it, you can come up with a million different winning strategies.”

“Everything’s a gambling thing for you, ain’t it?” But Kohaku smiles at him again. “I see what ya mean now, though. You want me to accept help from people more often, don’tcha?”

“Bingo.”

Kohaku thinks for a moment, and Rinne doesn’t break the silence in the room for once. And then, Kohaku sits up and leans his head against Rinne’s sturdy side.

“I guess I can give it a shot. Thanks.”

A weight of pressure releases from Rinne’s shoulder as he throws an arm around Kohaku. “I told you you’d end up listening to me! And you dared to think that I’m not always right!”

Kohaku snorts. “Ah, shut it, old man.”

A few minutes later, Niki smiles to himself as he walks by and spots Rinne and Kohaku chatting about whatever game they’re playing together on Kohaku’s phone.

******

HiMERU may be the one to bug his unitmates about the consequences their bad sleeping schedules are going to have for their health, but Niki is the one to dig through the closet to find a blanket and pillow for Kohaku. HiMERU and Kohaku rarely spend the night here, usually returning to their own ES dorm rooms before it gets too dark and giving the obnoxious couple in their unit the opportunity to spend their nights alone together. But this time, Niki is surprised to hear Kohaku mumble something about wanting to stay over, claiming that he’s already sent off a text to his roommate Jun to inform him that their dorm room would be his for the night.

Always the type to be weak to a cute Kohaku expression, Niki never objects whenever this happens. What he was surprised by was HiMERU’s continued presence.

“It would be rude of HiMERU to be the only person to leave. This is simply the more logical option.”

He had said it so matter-of-factly, like he didn’t have a choice, but it’s not hard to notice that he already brought another pair of clothes with him in his bag. He had been planning this from the start; Niki is always amused by these moments of silent affection from his usually somewhat robotic unitmate.

Blanket in hand, Niki walks past the predictable sound of HiMERU and Rinne bickering with each other in the kitchen about something he can’t quite make out from his limited context. Those two are always like this — they’re both always mocking each other and trying to get under each other’s skin in their distinctly opposite ways. Whenever he doesn’t have to be involved in it, Niki finds it to be funny as hell. He can tell that they’ve gotten closer over time, though, from how these discussions eventually shifted from genuinely annoyed complaints to ones filled with sarcasm and intentional dramatics.

Niki makes his way to the living room, the place Kohaku usually lingers in the most whenever he’s at Niki’s old home, and is delighted to easily find his target. Sometimes that guy really had a way of slipping past him right under his nose; whatever the Oukawa family did to improve their kids' agility was clearly too effective.

Kohaku is already lying on the couch, earbuds plugged into his phone with a lighter expression on his face than he had earlier that day. It’s a relief to see him relaxing and being unproductive. Things like this always make Niki think back to the stress he felt as a teenager whenever a younger Rinne stumbled back home and collapsed in bed after a day of overworking himself. Niki hates seeing people push themselves past their limits, and Kohaku is no stranger to doing that on a regular basis.

“What’s with the bandages?” Niki asks, half out of real curiosity and half as a way to get Kohaku to acknowledge him. Kohaku takes out an earbud and moves his arm around, staring at the bee-colored band-aids covering up the scratches Niki had fretted over earlier that day.

“HiMERU-han gave me a hand. He’s good at that kind of stuff.”

Niki throws the blanket on top of him and sits down in front of him on the floor, clutching the pillow he brought between his crossed legs and his chest. “Do any of your bruises still hurt? I’ve got ice cream in the fridge if you need a distraction, by the way~!”

Kohaku chuckles and, after pausing whatever he was watching, takes his other earbud out. “I’m good for now. The jobs Double Face goes on are tough, but not too tough for someone like me.” He’s acting a little confident, more like his usual self again, and it puts Niki’s worries at ease.

“So, how many people did you guys kick in the face today? Tell me, tell me!”

“Hmm…” Kohaku makes a failed attempt to count on his fingers as he recalls his memories from earlier in the day. “Enough to make HiMERU-han go send a nasty email to the fellas in charge of NewDi if he knew about it, probably.”

“You never tell me any of the cool details! Your performances are awesome, yeah, but I wanna know about the shadier stuff too!” Niki’s eyes are sparkling the way they do when he sees a food he likes. “You’ve got the coolest idol unit concept~! It’s all dark and mysterious!”

“Folks as kindhearted as you ain’t the type that can handle the work we do,” Kohaku retorts.

“That just makes you sound like you’re trying to be edgy.”

Kohaku disregards this teasing and does some of his own. “Didja come here just to bug me or what? Did Rinne-han get tired of being gross with you, and now you’re all bored or somethin’?”

“Actually, I’m here to deliver a gift!” Niki holds up the pillow and waves it around in his hands. “Ta-da~! Everything you need to turn this old couch into something just as good as that fancy-schmancy dorm room you’ve got at ES!”

Kohaku plucks it from his hands and holds it up in the air over his head, as if he’s studying its features. “I always tell ya this one is too hard, don’t I? It ain’t comfortable at all.”

“Unless you wanna use the one Rinne always uses, you’re kinda outta options.”

This counterargument is easily accepted, just like how it is every time the two of them have this conversation whenever Kohaku stays over. Kohaku shoves the pillow under his head and finally lets out his first yawn of the night, stretching a bit.

“Point taken. Now it’s time for some peace and quiet, please.” He says it politely, but Niki knows it’s not just a suggestion.

“Sweet dreams, Kohaku-chan~.”

He tucks the blanket over Kohaku’s shoulders a little more after the younger boy rolls over and closes his eyes, and then goes to turn off the light. He has no concerns about HiMERU, who will inevitably somehow find his way to a chair in the room to spend the night in without making enough noise for even a diligent sleeping Oukawa to detect. Rinne is the bigger risk factor, so he heads off to go force him to be quiet now that Kohaku is trying to sleep.

It’s later than any of them should be awake, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary for people as energetic as Crazy:B. Niki isn’t surprised when he runs into HiMERU first, who’s still sitting by himself at the kitchen table despite Rinne leaving it by now. He’s once again reading a book, which is of no interest to Crazy:B’s known hater of academics Niki Shiina.

Niki slides into the chair across from him and rests his arms on the table, propping his head up on them and staring at him. “Thanks for bandaging up Kohaku-chan earlier, that was sweet of you. You’re such a softie sometimes, huh~?”

“HiMERU just does what needs to be done,” HiMERU replies. But there’s a ghost of a smile dancing at his lips afterwards.

“Sure, sure.”

“HiMERU wanted to mention that Oukawa’s condition seems to be improving overall. He’s significantly less tense than he was when he first arrived this afternoon. This is promising progress.”

Niki stares up at him and sees right through his layers of persona.

“He reminds you of someone else, doesn’t he?” he asks. “I dunno who, but I can see it in your face, ‘cuz that’s how I look when I think about that kind of thing too.”

HiMERU freezes, a rare slip-up from a normally perfectly composed man. He’s silent, and then he slowly nods ever so slightly. “Sometimes, yes. And HiMERU knows he must do everything possible to help ensure Oukawa’s wellbeing, along with the wellbeing of his other unit members. That desire comes from experience.”

Niki will never fully understand HiMERU, he’s long accepted that fact. But in moments like this, he appreciates getting to see a slightly more genuine side of the man behind the mask that is the idol HiMERU.

“I think I’m gonna head to bed, and you should too,” Niki says. He stands up from the table again and stretches. “If you ever wanna…I dunno, talk about stuff…lemme know.”

HiMERU closes his book and watches him leave.

“HiMERU will keep that offer in mind.”

******

HiMERU is the first person to wake up in the morning, just like he always is, and he takes this opportunity to get himself a small cup of coffee with some actual quiet for once. After he finishes his excuse to put off going to Crazy:B practice, though, he heads up to the bedroom Niki and Rinne share whenever they’re here and wakes them up with no remorse.

He may not be the leader of their unit, but he’s always the one to keep them organized and lecture them about necessities. “The next Crazy:B live is in a few days. We have no other options besides making the most of our practice time before then.”

Rinne is always one to complain. “Dude, it’s not even noon yet. You’ve gotta get a life outside of work.” Somehow he’s even whinier than usual when he’s half-asleep. Niki is able to quickly drag himself out of bed with the thought of breakfast, however, and this prompts an irritated Rinne to go follow his former source of warmth that’s now left him.

HiMERU can only stare disapprovingly at them as they go. “If they knew the hours HiMERU had to work in the past, they would be appalled,” he mutters to himself.

He’s always the first to be fully ready, already packing his bag with everything he’ll need for dance practice while Niki is still attempting to fight Rinne’s atrocious bedhead with a comb. But the one person who nobody has said a word about yet this morning is their other unit member.

HiMERU finds Kohaku in the same spot he was left in last night, never the type to move much in his sleep. His face is cute when he’s not trying to act tough , HiMERU thinks with amusement, brushing a stray strand of hair off of Kohaku’s cheek and back into its proper place. Kaname looks the same way as this when he’s asleep.

He knows he should wake Kohaku up on time; he always does, albeit with far kinder techniques than the ones he uses on his two more annoying unitmates. But something is stopping him. Maybe it’s the sight of the bandages he applied for Kohaku last night, already starting to peel off on their own. Or maybe it’s his light snoring, the kind nobody would hear unless they were right next to him, a strong indicator that he’s out cold .

Or, it could just be the fact that HiMERU feels pretty bad for him.

He knows it isn’t good to compare people to his younger brother all the time. Kaname isn’t Kohaku, and Kohaku isn’t Kaname. But sometimes they still manage to activate the same big brother urges in his brain, and those are impossible for him to fight against.

He clears his throat as he enters the kitchen to make his presence known, intentionally interrupting a now-flustered Niki and Rinne. He seriously can’t stand walking in on couples being romantic together. It’s always so foreign and strange to him.

Niki wipes his lips and grins sheepishly, picking his bag off of the floor and holding it out to show it off to HiMERU. “We’re both all ready to go now, if you two are too~!”

“Where is the little brat, anyways?” Rinne asks. “I haven’t seen him at all today.” His words are harsh, but his tone is fond and knowing before HiMERU has even had a chance to explain the situation. He can always read HiMERU like an open book, and that fact really makes HiMERU antsy.

“HiMERU believes it may be best to just practice as the three of us today. Oukawa seems to need the extra rest.”

Niki is quick to agree, already digging through his own bag for snacks he’s supposed to be saving for after their dance practice. “Mhm, I totally feel the same way~. We can just go on our own this time.”

Rinne shoves his hands into his pockets and motions towards the doorway. “Well…the choreography part we’re focusing on today doesn’t really include him that much, so I guess it’s fine for now.”

That’s just an excuse to dodge the topic, and they’re all very aware of it, but HiMERU and Niki both let it slide. Their unit leader is stubborn to a fault, and nine in the morning is always too early to expect genuine honesty out of him.

As they pass through the living room on their way out, HiMERU stops to pick the blanket up off the floor and drapes it across Kohaku’s sleeping body again.

“So who’s gonna be the one to yell at CosPro and NewDi about his schedule~?” Niki asks as soon as he finishes locking the door. “I know we’re all thinking about it.”

Rinne just smirks. “They’ve gotta listen if they’ve got a whole swarm of their annoying bees buzzin’ at ‘em. All three of us will go together later today,” he declares.

“HiMERU looks forward to it.”

The three laugh, and they continue their walk to ES with renewed spirits and a new plan for how to spend their afternoon.

When Kohaku wakes up to an empty house a few hours later, his bruises don’t hurt as much anymore, and he hums part of a Crazy:B song to himself after he takes off his yellow and black bandages. He wasn’t expecting to be allowed to sleep in so late today, but he certainly doesn’t mind it. Niki was right: he did have good dreams for once. The surprisingly sympathetic texts he received from Madara while he was asleep help too; Madara is once again pleading for him to tell his other unit members that Double Face aren’t fully in charge of scheduling their own events so they’ll stop bugging him about it.

Kohaku neatly packs up the blanket and pillow he was using to put them back in the closet. He lingers in the kitchen, trying to predict the odds of Crazy:B already stopping for a meal before they come back to see if it’s worth trying to cook them something. He settles on the decision to give it a shot anyways, and gets to work; he’s been practicing with Niki recently, so he knows how to make a few simple things decently enough.

It’s nice to be in such a free-spirited and easygoing idol unit. Sometimes, Kohaku decides, doing things at his own pace is good enough.