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Headful of Mirrors, Heartful of Mist, Handful of Mettle

Chapter Text

Yuki didn't realize he had tensed up until Sho paused, stopped, and turned back toward him.

"Pudding?"

"Huh? Oh. Sho-san." Yuki smiled at his sempai, leaning against the costume rack to his right. The aisle between the front and back halves of the dressing room was always crowded with racks of costumes and to pass another person, it was basically necessary to tip yourself inbetween the hanging garments. Sho extended a hand to Yuki with a grin, helping him escape the ruffles of what appeared to be either Micchi's voluminous TRUMP blouse or a leftover from the fashion show last year.

"Were you napping in the ruffles, pudding?"

"No, I just squeezed aside to let you and JunJun through," Yuki said, frowning a bit; Sho had obviously seen him ducking aside, so why was he asking?

Then, as an afterthought: "Don't call me pudding."

Sho grins, shifting aside to let Tooru through, then nodding off to the side, inviting Yuki to follow him over to one of the unused dressing tables, where there was a bit more space to talk. "Okay, Pudding. What's wrong? You looked glassy-eyed. Like a doll."

Yuki frowned, brow creasing. "What are you wearing, Sho-san?"

"New clothing for Enter," Sho answered, stepping back half a pace so Yuki could see the tight black bodysuit he wore. "Today, I'm doing stills for Hero Vision."

It was armored in places, mainly around the shoulders and chest, with silver fixtures and plating. At his shoulders, a couple roundish sockets were probably for cable attachment, knowing the costumes that Sho usually wore for the Enter role. There was a half-skirt that resembled Enter's normal trenchcoat, and a number of nylon straps involved as well. And belatedly, Yuki noticed that Enter's goggles were wrapped around one of Sho's wrists, the strap doubled over to keep them out of his way until he reached the photographer's setup. All in all, Sho pulled the look off quite nicely.

As Yuki looked more closely at Sho's clothes, he could see that they were new, not an outfit he'd ever seen before. Still his heart was pounding a little hard, and it wasn't til Sho reached up to one of the tall shelves above the dressing table, pulling down one of the wig heads stored there, that it clicked.

"Sempai--"

"Oh, wait, this one's yours," Sho laughed, tossing the white and black striped fluffy wig on its foam stand from one hand to the other. "Don't know where mine's got to. I would make such a Burton impression~" He struck a pose, brooding at Yuki from beneath lowered brows, his mouth pursed in a cattish smile.

"No, I mean, Sempai!" Yuki grabbed Sho's hand, pulling him out of character-building and fixing him with an earnest gaze. "You look like Sid-sempai."

"Ohoho! Not half as handsome," Sho shook his head, standing on tiptoe to push the wig head back onto its shelf. "And three times as dimensional!" Sho peered back over his shoulder at Yuki as he said that, one vaulted eyebrow raised.

"And, tell me this again, Sid is your sempai?"

With a big grin, Yuki chuckled, shaking his head at the question. Around Sho, Yuki was comfortable enough to smile wide, without thinking about how goofy he might look, or about that one tooth he didn't like as much as the others. Sho was just as goofy as him, and weirder in some ways that Yuki still hadn't figured out. Being around him made Yuki feel comfortable, and that what he liked best.

But he looked Sho over again, and his smile wilted just a little. Head on a tilt, he answered Sho's question with a frown. "That's the weird part, my heart's gone frantic, just from thinking that you looked kind of like Sid in that outfit. And you don't, even!"

"It's shiny, for one," Sho acknowledged, and tipped his head down to show Yuki the rows of tight cornrow braids across the crown of his head. "And Sid-sempai does not have fabulous hair like moi."

Yuki laughed, bopping Sho's shoulder with his own. "Very true, kouhai-sempai!"

Sho's arm circled Yuki's shoulders, catching him as he came close and holding him warmly against Sho's side. "Sempai-kouhai, you are too kind," he answered back, leaning his head in close to Yuki's, cheek to cheek.

"He should know that I didn't mean him any pain, of course," Sho said, at a lower volume, as a loud shout from the doorway informed the dressing room at large that the shoot manager needed Jinnai-san on the photo stage in ninety seconds.

Yuki blinked, sorting the two messages apart from each other, then chasing the one that didn't make sense. "He?"

"Joe-san," Sho grinned. He fanned his nails at Yuki with a grin, gunmetal-black polish flashing distractingly on the side of Yuki's field of vision, and ducked away, trotting promptly toward his call with the long, loping stride that was Sho's own, not that of any character. To Yuki's eye, it always managed to look a little off-center, somehow, despite the smoothness characteristic of all of Sho's motion.

Watching Sho walk off from behind, Joe could see that his new Enter costume wasn't actually much like Sid's uniform at all, aside from both of them being black and grey. And the grin that Sho had offered right before he left was one that Joe himself had worn many times, different in its shape but similar in purpose. There was a whole world behind that smile, one that he sometimes wondered if he kept to himself because he wanted to or because he didn't know how to let anyone else in.

Yuki resolved that the next time that he and Sho had some time together, he'd ask him what he'd meant by apologizing to Joe. Joe was a character, but perhaps it was his memory that Sho meant to apologize to, or he had meant it jokingly? But Sho was always such a self-critical person in the small amounts of time inbetween doing his work that Yuki had decided, quite early in their friendship, not to ignore any gut feelings he got about his very private friend.

Well, he'd ask him later. Yuki had to hurry, too: first he had a preliminary costume fitting to get to, and after that he was probably going to be just on time for TRUMP rehearsal. If he was late, the whole group would start in on teasing him. On second thought, if they had something to laugh at together, the day would probably go much better. Rehearsals were still in the difficult beginning stage, when everyone felt rusty and untalented and angry with themselves, which had put the whole family on edge. None of them were angry at each other, but it was tiring just thinking about how many frowns today might contain.

A quiet little smirk lit up in the back of his head, and he thought of the mock fights the others had had while he was a Gokaiger. They'd never truly been angry, but a little friendly volume was a comfortable way to vent some tension among people who spent so much time around each other. He'd never joined in, preferring to watch the fur fly between Luka and the Captain.

Yuki grinned, grabbed his costume sloper off of his personal rack, and took off at a brisk pace to find his costume mistress. Maybe he would be a little late to rehearsal. Just a minute or so.

Chapter Text

"Pu~dding!"

The singsong voice in his ear startled Yuki enough that he pulled his phone away from his cheek, blinking at it in confusion before responding.

"Sho-san? You sound different today."

"Winnie!" A voice Yuki recognized, Ohmi. Yelling over Sho's shoulder, it sounded like. And the name he'd said made Yuki smile. Now he could recognize the reason that Sho's voice had startled him - not the singsong tone, but the midrange falsetto he was holding it in. He was in character - again.

"Ohhh. Winnie-chan, right?"

"There's the quick mind," Sho answered, sounding pleased. "Nee will you come over and join Ohmi-chan and me? We're hanging out."

Yuki switched his phone to his other ear, holding it against his cheek with his shoulder to free both his hands. Knife in one hand, chopping board in the other, he scraped a small pile of spring onion into the soup simmering on the range in front of him.

"I'm kind of busy, Sempai. I just started making soup."

"Mou." Sho's Winnie voice sounded so despondent that Yuki almost took it right back, and had already reached to turn off the stove, when a light clatter on the other end indicated the phone was switching hands.

"Yama-chan, hi."

"Ohmi, hello. Good afternoon."

"Winnie really wants to see you. Can we come over there instead?"

"Ah, um." Yuki blinked owlishly, trying to figure out if there was in fact any good reason that he ought to turn down Ohmi's request. "I, uh, I don't see why not? I mean, I'm cooking, and I haven't had time to neaten up the house…"

"He says we can come over there!" Ohmi spoke away from the phone, chuckling as 'Winnie' squealed in the background. "Aa, Yama-chan, want us to bring anything? We could have a cooking day."

"I'd like that," Yuki answered, still a bit behind the conversation. "I'll add more water to stretch the soup, and um, could you bring some things to go with it?"

"Mm, let me get a pencil," Ohmi said. "Okay, gimme the list of what you need. We'll buy extra things for the soup, too, it's our idea to inconvenience you."

"It's always nice to see you, though." Yuki blushed.

"Don't argue! It'll be fun. We'll bring dessert, too, have a big lazy afternoon party."

Yuki chuckled, trying to listen closely enough to make out Sho's words in the background of the call. "Didn't we just do that the day before yesterday, though?"

"And happy birthday again, Yama-chan. We'll be over in about an hour. Okay, tell me what we'll need…"

***

A little under an hour later, Ohmi and Sho (dressed, as Yuki'd expected he'd be, as Winnie Sanders) arrived on Yuki's doorstep. Ohmi carried two bags of fresh groceries for the day's cooking adventures; Sho followed him into Yuki's apartment with a beaming grin, depositing into Yuki's hands a smaller bag, the heat of which made Yuki handle it delicately.

"Fried chicken!" Sho explained, checking his wig in the glass door of Yuki's microwave before beginning to help Ohmi unpack the groceries.

"But we're making food," Yuki said, really failing to follow the thread of his friend's logic. "Why did you…?"

"It's Sho," Ohmi laughed, grinning at Yuki over his shoulder. The two of them had already made themselves at home in Yuki's kitchen, beginning to set out the ingredients they'd brought. Sho was rooting about in one of Yuki's cupboards, hunting for spices.

"Um, they're over there," Yuki said lamely; Sho turned to look, tucking a lock of his wig behind his ear, and stretched to reach.

"What does 'It's Sho' mean, Ohmi?" Winnie pouted, and Yuki found himself thinking of Winnie as a name, not a character, as he watched Sho's mincing, almost tottering lean toward the coriander bottle. He was wearing the pink pair of house slippers, Yuki noticed, and the high wedges he'd worn to the apartment sat neatly side by side in Yuki's entryway.

"Win-nie," he continued, pouting at Ohmi as he handed over the bottle. With a smile of thanks, Ohmi took the coriander, then grabbed a handful of Sho's hip to briefly tug him close, rucking up the slinky skirt he wore.

"It means you're just like that, Winnie," Ohmi answered, grinning before he let their friend go. "It's only in fun."

Yuki, who was beginning to feel like a stranger in his own apartment, felt considerably better as Ohmi detached from Sho and stepped away from the counter, leaving the cooking to Sho for the immediate moment. Yuki was still hovering by the end of the half-wall that partially divided his kitchen from the rest of the apartment's common space, and Ohmi patted his shoulder reassuringly, standing by his side briefly to watch Sho cook.

"He insisted that we bring over fried chicken, because we're making curry and Joe always has to eat curry when he wants fried chicken." Eyebrow raised, Ohmi smiled up at Yuki with a snicker in his eyes.

"This is Sho logic."

Looking from Ohmi to Sho, Yuki couldn't help but smile at their most eccentric of friends. (Winnie, Yuki reminded himself, noting the swish of skirt fabric across the back of Sho's knees. He asked Ohmi to call him Winnie right now, so I will too.)

"Bringing food for my character, too? It's so Sho-san." Sho peered over his shoulder, pouting through his wig's bangs, and Yuki offered a big wide smile and stepped across the small kitchen to Sho's side, lifting the knife from his hands with a shy smile.

"It's not a bad thing," he added, in case his thoughts on the fried chicken were still in any question. "It's a thing only you would think of."

"Well, he was upset by my Enter costume last week," Sho said, glancing at Yuki from the corner of his eye. A lock of his hair fell forward; with both his hands messy with curry paste, he couldn't do anything about it. Yuki reached over to tuck the hair behind his ear. A little bit of Sho's natural hairline peeked out as he did, and before he'd really thought about it, Yuki put down his vegetable knife and turned to brace one hip on the counter.

"Hold still, Winnie," Yuki muttered, brow drawn down in brief concentration. Two fingers under the edge of the wig's net, Yuki braced one hand on the top of Sho's head and nodded; Sho pushed his head back against Yuki's hold, sliding his wig back into position.

"And fixed!" Yuki grinned, and from behind them, Ohmi laughed lightly.

"That's D2 for you, we can costume and curry at the same time. Winnie and Pudding are very talented."

"Oh, 'Pudding' again?" Dismayed, Yuki turned to Ohmi, one hand still hovering on Sho's wig near his hairline. "I'm not as Pudding as JunJun or something. Why does everyone--huh?"

Yuki's attention snapped back to Sho, specifically to Sho's mouth on his palm, lips pressed in a kiss to the heel of Yuki's hand. In the next second it was done, and Sho pulled back with a grin.

"…Huh?" Yuki was highly articulate.

"I like Pudding," Sho said, and turned back to his curry.

Wide-eyed, Yuki looked to Ohmi, but though Ohmi seemed to understand far better what was going on with Sho, he wouldn't even acknowledge Yuki's silent, doe-eyed plea for explanation.

"Let's finish the curry and set it to simmer," Ohmi declared. "Then we'll have plenty of time to kill while it cooks."

Feeling more and more like this whole strange afternoon was one big set-up, Yuki turned back to his chopping board and vegetables, where things didn't make sense in ways he couldn't help but wonder about.

Chapter Text

Weeks went by. And before they'd unfurled too far, Yuki realized his worldview was shifting in the same way that the horizon tends to move when you're on your way over the crest of a rollercoaster's summit.

In much less time than he'd thought it might, Yuki found it became natural to answer to Joe-chan, very occasionally Blue-chan, from Sho. And he began to find it easier to adjust the name by which he called Sho based on what character he was in at the time. They were so many, but all pretty easy to tell from each other. After a few days of Yuki playing along in the name game, all of Sho's characters suddenly stopped answering to any name but their 'proper' ones, and Joe thought this was extra cool, that Sho's acting control was even more admirable.

It became normal for Yuki to have lunch with Enter, for Joe to spend the midafternoon break killing time with Yanigasawa, and for Yuki's vampire character, still in the process of becoming fully-fledged, to go home to Sho's apartment for dinner and goofing around before makeup call the next day.

Youichiro stayed a little distant from all this, which irked Yuki somewhat. It was a new game and fun, harmless and escapist. He wanted the three of them to play the game together, but Youichiro wasn't interested. Yuki felt like he was getting to know Sho-san so much better as they each played with their catalogs of old roles like clothes to dress themselves in each day. He tried to convey this to Youichiro, but he simply listened to Yuki's enthusiastic explanation and gently turned down his encouragement each time.

"I've known Jin-chan longer," was all he would say. "Just don't lose track of your work and your job, Yama-chan."

*

By the time that everything falls apart, it's been the new normal for only a month, maybe five weeks. But it's been enough time that Joe can't remember being someone other than Joe-Yuki-and-more. How did he manage? What did he used to do when the director would call him out in front of the whole cast and crew to criticize his work? Yuki doesn't know how he managed without being able to be Joe in those times, Joe who can take orders, direction, reprimand, without a flinch or a whimper.

How did he manage around Shion, JunJun, and the others? When they went out to dinner together, everyone with their phone cameras and drinks and hugs all around, Yuki liked being Yama-chan but sometimes it was even better to be Fujiyoshi-kun, student of Onizuka, responsible older brother and not the smartest friend in the group, able to escape Yama-chan's tendency to get lost in his own thoughts, deeply winding himself inside of maybes that held him back from the spontaneity of the moment.

How did he manage, really? He asks himself this almost every night. He regrets the newness of his career; Sho-san and several of the other friends he's made through Gokaiger and GTO have such long CV's, even some of the ones as young as him have three or four times as many roles to play with as he does. He thinks about all the people he'll be in the future, wondering what they'll be like, what parts of him they can replace.

*

There's a night when Yuki and Sho are both Yuki and Sho; over brownies and Switch Girl, which Sho continues to choose as background entertainment whether or not Youichiro is present to coo over how cute Jin-chan and Renn-san are together, Yuki and Sho get drunk on ice cream melted in Kaluha.

Yuki isn't really sure how it ends up happening, what the order of events is; he comes to a fuzzy realization that things aren't proceeding the way they usually do when he has to gag and spit, sticky stringy white ice cream clinging to his tongue as he tries to clear his mouth. But they'd had chocolate ice cream, and Yuki frowns and licks his lips, tasting salt, and then licks again, lapping his own mouth clean, beginning to think the sour-salt taste is a good counterpoint to the chocolate, and probably a side effect of the alcohol content of their pseudo-milkshakes.

Until the doorbell rings, and the voice that says, "Entrez-vous, it's unlocked," is not Sho.

Yuki looks up just in time to see the flash of sharp irritation in Enter's eyes; then he's knotting his fingers into Yuki's hair and shoving his head back down. Yuki opens his mouth obediently just in time, and Sho's sticky, half-soft cock hits the roof of Yuki's mouth, making him gag hard. His throat squeezes around Sho's head, or is it Enter's now?, and with a groan from above the cock in his mouth thrusts deeper, and Yuki purrs and tries to relax his throat to let it in, because he's never disliked this game, and he's wondering if Fujiyoshi likes this game too?

In the meantime, Yuki glances to the side, trying to see their visitor as best as he can from his limited vantage point. As Sho - Enter? - he's not sure anymore, and it's easier just to not care. There's a hand in his hair and it's yanking his head up and down, and he's sucking tightly on the cock that's down his throat.

It's not unpleasant, really it's not, and he can breathe some still, so when Youi blasts his way between them, slapping Sho's hand out of Yuki's hair, pulling Yuki protectively into his lap, Yuki's mainly disappointed that he had to stop, because his mouth and throat are empty now and he wasn't done enjoying the almost suffocating fullness of his friend inside of him that way.

Youi's yelling, Sho's yelling, Enter's yelling, Sho's crying, and then Youi's voice breaks too, and he sets Yuki down carefully, propped against the base of Sho's couch, and crosses the room to Sho, reaching for him.

Sho bats him away, so Youi tries again; another smack, a slapped-away hand, and they're suddenly in a hand-to-hand battle, Sho's training from Enter and Youi's practice as Kanji pitted against each other with bitter desperation on both friends' faces.

Youi wins, eventually pinning Sho up against a wall with his forearm braced against Sho's throat; he smacks him across the face, grabs his face in both hands, and kisses him, deep and long, until both boys' knees go out from under them and they collapse in a crumpled, twitching heap against the baseboards.

They're on the far side of the room, and Yuki's upset by this; they're both upset, they're his friends, he wants to help, and he still wanted to finish Sho's second blowjob. He crawls over to get closer, because the way they're pressed so close together makes it hard to see or hear anything either of them are saying from so far away.

Sho's muttering darkly, and Yuki can only catch one in every few words, but it's still very clear what Sho's saying, hateful things against himself. Youi's holding Sho close, wrestling his fists away from his face, his nails away from his skin, tugging and manhandling him just to keep up with Sho's miserable writhing.

Youi finally quiets Sho in the only way that will stick, with his mouth against Sho's own, and Yuki is dreadfully relieved that Sho is smiling against Youi's mouth as he cries into the kiss. He scoots close, curling against them both, and when Sho's hands go wandering across his body and Youi's, Yuki pulls back to look at Youichiro for guidance. He's still far too drunk to be in charge, which is why he wasn't at all earlier.

Youi looks from Sho to Yuki and sighs, tightly. He's obviously not pleased but his hands on Sho's body, stroking, comforting, cuddling, tell Yuki that Youi's just worried about Sho in his own way, like Yuki is too.

Yuki comes closer, leaning in close enough to reach for Youi's mouth, and Youichiro's brow furrows in sharply, confused, worried, maybe just uncertain that Yuki's within enough of his right mind to know what he's doing.

Yuki kisses Youi and when they part, panting a little, the bit of Sho's come that was still on Yuki's tongue strings out wetly between their mouths until Youi gasps, licking his lips, and breaks the strand.

Yuki turns to Sho, eyes blown wide, wanting to help, wanting to be anyone and anything that Sho needs him to be in this moment. Sho looks back at him with a person behind his eyes that Yuki doesn't think he's ever seen before, not ever.

Youi obviously has, though, because he leans in close, wrapping his arms around Sho's shoulders and head to cage in his face, and kisses him so gently, so desperately lovingly, that Sho begins crying again, even as his cock rises, lifting from the still-open vee of his jeans, curving to the side as it hardens. Youi's hands are gentle in Sho's hair, fingertips light, teasing across his nipples; Sho sobs into Youi's mouth and Youi whispers it's okay, it's alright, come undone, you're safe.

Yuki doesn't understand, except that Sho's hurting and Youi was mad at Sho for using Yuki. But Sho wasn't, really, and Yuki's still far too drunk to explain himself properly but he will, he resolves, making a mental memo in bright flashy glitter letters in his mind's eye. Tomorrow he'll tell Youi that he wasn't hurt at all, that Sho didn't hurt him and he didn't force him.

Tonight, Yuki tucks his long black fringe behind one ear, holding it back with one hand since he's got far too much hair for it to stay on its own as he bends forward, ducking his head under Youi's chest, between Sho's belly and the loose drape of the overskirt that's been half-ripped off Youi's shoulders by his fight with Sho. Yuki gently mouths and kisses the head of Sho's cock, softly greeting it again, and it twitches against his lips a little, making him smile. Yuki can feel the chuckle that gently shakes through Youi, too, and he leans further down, parting his lips on the soft, perfect O that Sho had complimented him on before, lapping his friend back inside his mouth and throat.

When Sho's head is nestled against the hard clench of the top of Yuki's throat, rubbed by the pulse of muscle reflex as he swallows to generate spit and slick Sho's way, Yuki closes his eyes happily on a sigh and begins to bob.

Chapter Text

Yuki had promised himself that he'd talk to Sho the next day, and to Youi. Reassure them that Sho hadn't hurt him; that he'd had fun. But the next morning, he wakes in Sho's apartment, on the couch, carefully put to bed and covered with blankets by Youichiro.

Logically, Yuki knows it had to be Youichiro who put him to bed - that just feels most probable - but he can't remember what happened after Sho finished for the second time, filling Yuki's mouth with sticky, sour cum. He can't even really remember whether he kissed Sho or Youichiro after swallowing it all, and he can't remember being put to bed. His heart lurches a little. What else doesn't he remember?

Yuki searches the apartment for his friends, but finds the bedroom door closed securely, and something in his gut ties itself in a hard knot at the realization that he's certainly not welcome past that door, not even to find out if everyone's okay.

He is far too polite to knock, or open it without asking. Instead he puts himself together as best as he can, scrubbing at a few chocolate ice cream stains on his shirt - which can't be helped, as he didn't bring spare clothes. He hadn't been planning on staying the night. He clips his fringe back from his eyes with one of Sho's hairclips, puts on his big sunglasses and the white trilby hat he wore yesterday, with the brim pulled way down.

When he leaves, closing the door quietly behind him, Yuki leaves the blanket and his pillow folded in a very precise stack on Sho's couch, and all the dishes washed and set carefully in the drainer to air-dry. Even the ice cream bowls.

*

Yuki doesn't see Sho and Youi until TRUMP rehearsal the next day, and when he does, he's very stiff, very nervous. They're rehearsing REVERSE today, which means he has to be Klaus. Normally the power that he summons to put behind his Klaus character is easy to find inside himself. It's a sharp-eyed, focused darkness, something he has enjoyed bringing further to the fore. It's far from unfamiliar to him.

He's always known he's had the talent to portray wickedness, but until Klaus and Saito, his roles didn't lend themselves very well to demonstrating it. He showed a bit too much of this wicked spark in Joe, he thinks; Gokaiger is a kids' show, and he should have done better to remain appropriate to that. With Klaus, he really truly intends to. He's put his whole into it, and Jin-chan and he have worked hard together to make their Klaus and Allen portrayals really work well together, in either direction, TRUTH or REVERSE. Yuki's proud of his Klaus.

But then he's on the rehearsal floor, and from there in, his day completely stops cooperating. Though there's the soft fuzz of other conversations elsewhere in the room, the squeak of tennis shoes as someone practices their dancing in front of the ballet mirror, these distractions aren't as powerful as they usually are for Yuki. His mind's so strongly fixed on elsewhere that circumstantial noises don't even register in his ears.

And yet, that elsewhere isn't where his concentration ought to be, so he finds himself fighting against Klaus all day; pushing, pushing at the character, trying to get inside his head. On any other, more normal day, it would be a near effortless process, a click in Yuki's mind as he find and latches into the mental space he needs to portray the true vampire of TRUMP.

But Klaus is impenetrable today, like trying to sew pudding together, and to make things worse, Sho's wide, dark, fearful gaze is entirely Allen. It's as if the previous night didn't happen at all. Youichiro's in Gustav, and his eyes are narrowed as he watches Yuki and Sho run their scene. At his elbow, Kenki has to shake him out of his reverie, gently nudging him back toward his own task which he's neglecting.

Yuki shouldn't have had time to notice what Youi and Kenki are doing, but it would be putting it lightly to say that Yuki's head is not in the game today. He misses two cues entirely, far more bluntly than that Yamada Incident everyone won't shut up about, and Director Suemitsu-san rips him a new one. Joe takes the abuse with head bowed, yes-sir'ing and no-sir'ing as needed, because Yuki deserves the reprimand; he's been barely even trying. From that point until the end of the rehearsal day, he hits every point, every cue. And he's out the door not ten minutes after the wrap talk and next day's assignments have been handed out.

It's TVKC the next two days. Saito is a relief, a refuge for Yuki to sink into, but he's really mostly Joe and then Joe hides in Saito; he's becoming a matryoshka of roles and he still doesn't know how to cope with the tiny, sputtering flame he saw in Jin-chan's eyes when they locked gaze at TRUMP rehearsal two days prior.

He knows he has to say something, but he's got no clue what to say. And Youichiro's quiet, too quiet, except when he's being Sanosuke and entirely too loud. But nobody's home in Youichiro's eyes, either, and Yuki doesn't know how to ring the bell, or what would greet him if he opened that topic up again.

The only comfort that Yuki's got in all of this is that Youichiro and Jin-chan are, clearly, as close as ever -- if not closer. He takes reassurance from that, trying to focus on knowing that Jin-chan's well taken care of, that Youichiro will take care of Jin-chan and himself both. That maybe Kenki or Mitsuya will offer support or advice if Youichiro needs it.

Yuki tries not to think about how very not helpful his own presence or support probably would be. Yuki tries not to feel like the cause of everything that's gone wrong.

A week later, and Youichiro finally asks Yuki to go out for dinner with him after rehearsal. Finally!, Yuki thinks, and agrees, bowing so enthusiastically that he thunks his forehead squarely into the rear boom of a light stand.

"Owww…"

Youi's arms are around him, gently supporting while Yuki waits for the stars in his eyes to fade. "You didn't need to bow, Yama-chan, I'm not going to pay for yours, too."

There's a laugh in Youichiro's voice, and Yuki draws what might be the first clear breath he's managed since the Icecream Night, as he's started thinking of it.

"Sorry, I just…!"

Youichiro's smile softens, falling out of his eyes. "Yeah. Come on. Let's get dinner."

Chapter Text

Yamada's been strung tight since that night at Sho's. I haven't been sure how to approach him, but more importantly, I haven't been sure what to say when I finally do sit him down. And figuring that out has to come first, since there's no going back, now. Not for him, and not for us. Sho and Yamada both couldn't bear it, pulling away after seeing each other like that. Not the blowjob - but what they saw in each other's eyes.

Sho's talked to me about it, obviously. I mean, what don't we talk about? He feels at fault, that he's hurt Yama-chan irreparably. Nothing I say has really shaken that perspective, but at least I've gotten him to agree to let me talk to Yamada about it, see if I can't get them both to a point where they can talk to each other and not just clock each other in the head by bowing too much at each other.

Seeing Yamada's reaction to my dinner invitation, I'm really not very hopeful about that bit.

Anyway, food and then talk. Yama-chan and I aren't about to talk about personal things in public, obviously, but food calms the heart, warms the spirit. And is totally necessary after a workout like we just had today. We were shooting the TVKC opening. And it was a really fun day, in all! There weren't many nervous moments, not much visible tension. You'd never be able to tell there's been something on our minds for a week and a half now; we're actors. If you could tell, we'd be unworthy of our craft. I'm sure some of the others have personal issues going on right now, too, and if they need my support of course they'll have it. We're all brothers. But there's some things that just don't need to be worn on one's face, no matter how sharp the pain.

We go back to my place after dinner. Yama-chan seems nervous, but Mame's happy face wipes all that right off his mind, and the first fifteen minutes once we're in my door are dedicated to cuddling my good boy and doting on him as much as is humanly possible to do for one goofy, adorable Corgi, all smiles and ears and tongue and kisses.

"He loves when Daddy comes home at night," I tell Yama-chan, while Mame gives me kisses all up my cheek and across one eye, which I close just in time so he licks my eyelid, and not my eyeball. My grin's solid but off-center and I am happy to see that Yamada's grinning too.

"He's a good puppy," he says, ruffling Mame's ears, and Mame launches himself off of me (shoving his paw right against my throat in the process) to give Yama-chan a big sloppy greeting too, as though he hadn't already done that just a few moments ago.

"Yuki," I say, after a little while longer of petting Mame, at the point when he's worn off all his hyper energy and is settling in to make a happy lap-napping bean of himself. "Let's talk?"

We move to the couch, and I sit beside Yuki, close, and we put Mame on the couch between us, where he's more than happy to get pets from both of us as I think about how I want to talk. Yuki beats me to it.

"I'm sorry about two weeks ago." His head is bowed, though he's not outright flattening himself to his own lap with the depth of the bow, so I'm marginally relieved.

"It wasn't your fault, Yuki." I would think that much was obvious? He doesn't look up, not yet. I can tell he feels he hasn't given his full confession.

"I don't remember what happened, not exactly," Yuki continues, and my heart twists, because I'd guessed that, but had hoped my guess was wrong.

"And you didn't ask, not after a week of not knowing?"

Yuki shakes his head, his fringe sweeping his knees. "I didn't think after acting…as I probably did, that I had the right to approach you or Jin-chan…Jinnai-san… without knowing if you wanted to speak to me or not."

"He's still Jin-chan to you, Yama-chan," I scold him. "Oh, I didn't mean to sound that sharp. But he's still Jin-chan, and…maybe Sho-chan by now, if you want to call him that."

Yuki looks up - finally - and his eyes are wet in the corners. Damn the guy for being able to cry on a dime. Well, I guess in this case, he's probably frustrated for not being able to help but cry.

"You did nothing wrong," I tell him, reaching over Mame's head - silly bean has fallen asleep, somehow - and touching his knee carefully.

"Sho told me, he got you drunk on Kahlua and ice cream, and he came on to you. If anyone was in the wrong, it was Sho. Not you."

Yuki looks sharply conflicted. Clearly pained.

"I know you don't like hearing me talk about your senpai - your friend - like that, but… he did. He admitted as much to me himself." I grip his knee tighter, trying to comfort him; I'm not sure how to read him right now, and my own emotions on the situation are bleeding in. It's hard to stay cool and objective.

"I'm not saying that what he did was wrong. I guess that's up to you, whether you regret…what happened."

There's a long silence, while Yuki thinks about what I've said. He spends the time petting Mame's head, stroking his fur in steady, gentle motions. For a moment, I'm afraid he's not going to answer at all. But when he finally does, it's so…Yamada of him, that I think it startles tears to my eyes, too.

"It felt good," he says. "It felt good, and it tasted good. I liked it. I don't know if I would have done it, if I hadn't been drunk, but I did and now I know that I liked it. I'd like to try again, when I'm not drunk, so that Jin-chan knows that I'm not disgusted by him. Jin-chan was really upset that night, but he didn't want to say anything about it. We watched Switch Girl instead of talking, but it was his idea to open his pants. I didn't want to be rude, but I figured out it was fun pretty quickly after I started, and then I had fun too."

Yuki looks up again, and I don't think I've ever seen an expression on his face like the one he's wearing right now. It's partly plain old Yamada, but there's a light in the depths of his eyes that reminds me of Saito, or the way he gets when he's deep in the climax scene as Klaus, with Sho as Allen bleeding out over his lap. It's a very sharp light, a smart light. An aggressive one.

"And you haven't said anything about kissing me, Youichiro, and I wish you would, because I enjoyed that, too. I enjoy our acting game, I enjoy being other people when the cameras even aren't close." He stops, about to say more, biting his tongue to cut it off.

I think I know what it was about to be. "You wish I'd play more of the acting game too?" He nods, determined. It hurts me to see that.

I can't explain everything that colors why I have to be Youi, when Sho can be anyone he's ever been. When I'll take anyone he's ever been into my arms as my friend, hold them all just the same as I embrace Sho. Yuki's seen me do it, before the ice-cream night, plenty of times. He hasn't seen what's happened since, and he doesn't know what happens behind Sho's bedroom door when he takes me to bed. I don't know how to explain it all to Yuki, and I don't know how to look at his willingness to be part of something he doesn't even understand in the littlest bit, and to tell him he can't jump in.

He's a grown man. He's proud of accomplishing what he sets his mind to. And I don't want to be a regret to him. But I don't know how to tell him everything that I think I want to.

Mame's waking up, maybe sensing I'm upset, and I gently scoop him off the couch, putting him on the floor at my feet, so that I can scoot closer to Yuki, till our hips are touching. I cradle the back of his neck gently with one hand, bowing my head, and our brows touch, resting gently against each other, while I think about how I breathe, and try to keep my breathing calm.

"Yuki…"

Maybe I've been too concerned with looking after Sho, and his affairs. Maybe I've been thinking about how I can help Sho woo Yuki, even after the horrible impression he made two weeks ago, and maybe I should have been thinking about myself, too.

Because - yet another thing Yuki doesn't know - Sho and I aren't really separate from each other. Because anything that affects Sho, will surely someday affect me.

And maybe today is that someday.

"I don't play the game the same way as Sho does," I murmur, keeping my voice low. My eyes are shut tight, and I didn't take all my eyeliner off after practice - it makes my eyes hurt to scrub too hard - and the dark black outline probably makes my expression look even more sad than it is supposed to. "I can't be other people all the time, the same way as he can. And I'm happy that you enjoy playing with him that way."

I have to breathe carefully, because this next bit is the hardest for me to ever say out loud, to anyone, in any context.

"Sho isn't like most people. Sho isn't playing roles sometimes. Sometimes he just really is the person he's portraying. It's hard to keep up with sometimes. It's upsetting sometimes.

"It breaks my heart, sometimes." I open my eyes, keeping my face close to Yuki's, my head turned down, looking up at him with a sly, almost shy avoidance to my gaze. I know I'm revealing a lot, maybe everything, on my face, in my voice. All my cards on the table now.

"Sho is the most important person in the world to me," I tell Yuki, my voice steady, my gaze steady. It's not an embarrassing truth to me, not a difficult one. Just one that I only choose to reveal after careful deliberation.

"But he's not an easy person to be close to. I just want you to know that."

If he wants an out, if he wants to reconsider, I feel obligated to give him an opportunity to do so. Before things get more tangled. Before he and Sho become…even more important to each other. Inescapably so.

The sharp light in Yuki's eyes flashes, going hard and clear and certain as diamonds. If diamonds had opinions.

"I'm strong," he says, lifting his hand to mirror my hold on his nape, fingers raking into my hairline. "And I like baseball."

I know the line. We all do. And we know the story. I wasn't expecting to hear it here. But it's all he needs to say; in a sentence, he's explained everything.

And in the next moment, he's kissing me. Which takes a minute to process, because really, I thought he'd only kissed me that night because - well -

"Mmmmhh--!" Oh gosh, he's a good kisser. That plush lower lip of his slips between mine, and suddenly I'm sucking on it, lapping at his mouth with gentle (and not so gentle) pressure. His hands are on my nape, holding me in place, and he takes teeth to my lip, then presses in closer, kissing me with enthusiasm and hunger. Pretty soon I'm making all number of ungracious noises, and he is too.

So of course it's right as Yuki's climbing into my lap, and my hands are around his waist and gripping tight, and I'm gasping into his mouth and he's pressing his chest against my collarbone and arching down to kiss me, tipping my neck sharply back, his fringe falling across my closed eyes and cheek as he dips his tongue deep into my mouth, and I can feel his heartbeat quick and light like rabbit feet -

Of course that's about the point at which Sho walks in on us.