Youichiro's learned that if there is one constant in his relationship with the inimitable Jinnai Sho, it's that Youichiro's going to have to fight for constancy in their relationship. And that's just fine with him.
It's not that Sho is unreliable or a flake in any way. He keeps his commitments and is there when he says he'll be, and a lot of times when no promises have been made at all, but Youichiro needs him, so there he is. Whatever Youichiro needs, whenever he calls Sho up, pretending loneliness or whimsy or not bothering to pretend at all, Sho is there for him, offering help or his kitchen or a patient ear to hear everything that rolls out of Youichiro's head, important or not, sensible or not. And often it's not, since Youichiro loves to ramble, going on and on creating silly scenarios and worlds and making them more and more ridiculous until Sho feels compelled to join in, making up his own characters to add to Youichiro's story, until there's dinosaurs on hangliders and Sho and Youichiro have fallen against each other with giggles, sometimes dragging Dai or Yuki into their giggle pile with them.
Youichiro can always depend on Sho to be there for him; but he can't always rely on Sho to be Sho in the process. It's a difficult thing to accept about his friend, that he's happier being a character than being himself, that he sometimes feels compelled to hide from himself by retreating inside a character.
"Even when it's your best friend, sometimes you need time away from them, time when you just don't want to see their face?" Sho had explained it to him once, an explanation which Youichiro has not forgotten, and never wants to make Sho have to repeat. "Well I'm not even best friends with Jin-chan, so I definitely don't want to keep him around all the time."
Youichiro wishes Sho could see what he sees in him. He's always taking photos of Sho when he's sleeping, or off-guard, hoping that one of them will have that something about Sho in it, that soul-deep beauty that's so clear to Youichiro's eyes, which Sho seems unable to even glimpse. None of the photos ever do show that part of him, and Youichiro thinks it's probably because he always has to catch Sho when he's sleeping. And while there's beauty in Sho's face, the gem of him is in his eyes, and the way the power of his mind is so clearly displayed in every role he sets himself to.
And yet there's the tragedy, as Youichiro has discovered over and over, that as soon as the camera's lens turns towards him, Sho's not entirely Sho anymore. Sometimes a bit of this character, sometimes mostly that one with a touch of a third tossed in. But what he's trying to capture to record for Sho's own gaze is always just too flighty to catch. Through all his attempts at photographic stealth, Youichiro's gotten quite familiar with Winnie Sanders, the character Sho favors most for personal interaction.
Winnie might be as close to Sho's actual personality as he'll voluntarily display. Youichiro has seen Sho stripped down to his core only a scant few times, and remembering the depth of pain on his face, Youichiro is glad it's only been those few times. The rest of the time, Sho stays safe under the veneer of Winnie's protection, and Youichiro's lived through a lot of things with her, holding her hand or feeling hers supporting his own.
Sho calls himself by female pronouns when he's Winnie, and Youichiro doesn't find that odd; some of the others do, because they don't feel comfortable switching pronouns even when they're doing it onstage because Watanabe says to. Winnie and Youichiro have had a conversation or three on the topic, and once, just once, Youichiro got Sho to talk to him about it, too. Winnie and Sho's perspectives matched, to which Youichiro had breathed a sigh of relief. It confused Sho that Youichiro cared, but he wasn't about to explain - not yet, at least.
So Youichiro feels that he knows Sho well, despite the fact that he spends more time flickering in and out of characters with him than they spend as themselves. It makes Sho more comfortable when Youichiro character-skips with him; though Youichiro tends to favor the character from his current project while Sho hops all through his library, sometimes flickering as far back as Yanagisawa Shinya, sometimes the deejay that he used in Pole Dancing Boys and a few other cameos.
Often he'd fall into stage roles, which was almost more rehearsal than self-defense; there were so many of them, and the production schedules so fast-paced and challenging, that every moment in those characters was one more moment toward compelling performance. Youichiro, who doesn't rehearse as much as he ought and nowhere near as much as Sho chooses to, knows that his friend is a good influence on him in this way, forcing him to apply himself to his craft even on the days when he's not so much in the mood.
There's less helpful roles in Sho's repertoire, though Youichiro has learned to draw usefulness from every single one of them. Sho's most recent television role, in particular, isn't conducive to casually hanging out as friends. Enter is the type of character that Youichiro knows best as a replacement for Sho's angry face. Youichiro brings Kanji out at those points, fighting Enter-Sho's strong, cold, furious self-hate with Kanji's warm, rough-hewn, awkward but forcefully earnest love. Usually, it works.
This time, they've been debating one of the regular topics. It drains Youichiro to have the same debate over and over and over; even pulling from the internal stubborn strength that Kanji has doesn't help Youichiro as much as he needs to keep up with Sho and the true, unselfconscious submersion into his character that Sho achieves so effortlessly. Sho's inside a shell, and this time the tracks of their arguments are so well-worn that Youichiro can't find his way out of them into a new tactic, a new way to show his beloved friend the errors in his self-hateful ways.
He's standing right in front of Sho and yet they're miles apart, and Youichiro is struck by a sudden, deep moment of fear: that no matter how much he loves Sho, as a person, a friend, a companion, that the fundamental way in which Sho is put together will keep him forever at a distance.
In a moment of pique, Youichiro screams - in frustration, defiance, and fear, all rolled into one. The noise rocks Sho's small apartment, startles his fish into stillness, and makes Sho himself blink, wide-eyed, one eyebrow raised in Enter's sneering disdain for overdramatic displays of emotion.
"Oh la la, he is getting impatient with being so wrong," Sho trills, flourishing one hand along the line of Youichiro's jaw. He's sunk completely into Enter, so insulated that even his own emotional pain, the cause of today's debate, is too far away for him to touch. He's inside a shell where nothing can touch him, and Youichiro can't handle another moment of it.
His hand snaps out, grabbing Sho's jaw, pinching his cheeks hard to command his attention.
"Winnie," he orders, and through the sheer force of will that he puts behind that name, Sho complies. Enter fades out of Sho's eyes as quickly as blinking, and Winnie flickers into focus. The line of Sho's mouth softens, losing the hardness of Enter's sneer.
"You-chama?" Winnie asks, perplexed by Youichiro's distress. "What's wrong, love love?"
"Winnie, kneel down for me, okay?" Youichiro strokes her jaw and the shell of her ear, gently combing her hair back from her face. It always amazes him how the angle of her eyes is so much more droopy, and kind, than Enter's or even Yanagisawa's. It's like Sho's face is inhumanly pliable. Maybe it should be unnerving; Youichiro has always only found it beautiful.
Winnie kneels without argument, looking up at Youichiro with a bit of mischief in her eyes. They've played this game before, and she gently cups one palm between Youichiro's thighs, sliding it up to cradle the warmth of his balls through his pants, which are soft and loose, a casual pair of baggy lounge pants he's sniped from Sho's own drawers.
The next few steps are well-practiced, and Youichiro gets his cock out, stroking it to hardness with Winnie's help, in near-silence. A grunt, a sigh as Winnie traces one black-polished nail, manicured for Enter, along the side of his cock, tracing a vein. He runs his fingers through her hair, nails dragging against the scalp. She sighs, whimpering, and leans close.
"I want to ask you for something," Youichiro murmurs, his voice barely audible in the stillness of Sho's apartment. His best friend kneels on the carpet in front of him, fingertips gently tracing his cock and dancing warm, teasing paths down his thighs, ruffling the sparse hair there. Youichiro strokes Sho's cheekbone with one thumb, his eyes damp with frustrated tears. Sho opens his mouth, as Winnie, beginning to offer a flippant assurance, and Youichiro silences him with one thumb across his lips.
"Please, I want Sho."
Youichiro's heart just about breaks as he watches the panic wash over his friend's features. With gentle fingers he strokes Sho's hair and face, coaxing him to hang on, not to disconnect. Youichiro's cock, half-hard, stands at partial attention a few inches from Sho's face.
"I just want you, Sho. Please. Please, I need you." Youichiro palms his cock lightly, reaching down to clasp hands with Sho, lacing their fingers, before drawing his friend's hand up to replace his own on his cock. Sho smiles, wrapping thin fingers around Youichiro's shaft, and strokes with firm, practiced strokes. Youichiro's shuddering in a matter of moments, one hand knotting in Sho's hair for support to keep himself standing.
They know this rhythm, and they're both in love with it for different reasons - and perhaps the same ones, as well. Youichiro gasps and licks his lips, not losing track of his goals but certainly putting them aside for the moment, as Sho wets his fingers with a generous laving of spit from his own mouth and strokes wet, cooling trails along the underside of his cock.
"Please," he gasps again, looking down and meeting Sho's honey-brown eyes, firey in the strength of their gaze. Sho chuckles, low in his throat, and the sound itself is an agreement as much as it is a tease. Youichiro knows what it feels like when that chuckle is wrapped around his cockhead, sussurant tight vibrations rubbing that soft lobe until he just about blacks out from the bloodrush. He groans again, encouraging, praising, pleading all in one sound. Sho licks his lips, that formidably inscrutable cat's mouth of his, and smoothly swallows Youichiro three-quarters down his length.
It's been a while since they've done this, and at first the pleasure is so strong Youichiro can think of very little else. He thrusts forward, barely remembering restraint, and looks down to see Sho's lips stretched tight around his shaft, Sho's eyes looking up at him as he lets Youichiro ride his face. The slick on Youichiro's cock just gets thicker as they go, leaking from the corners of Sho's tight mouth, right where the tiny dimple corners are stretched out around him.
Sho makes a little noise in his throat, opens his mouth a bit further, gulping Youichiro's cock more deeply down. His eyes are strong, soft, needy, all at once. He can't speak with words, but his gaze says plenty. And Youichiro thinks he sees a spark of Winnie in there, and thrusts harder, once, twice, three times, four because he can't stop himself, combing his fingers through Sho's hair, drowning in the gorgeous, gorgeous pressure and heat and wet of Sho's - his Sho's - mouth.
But that's not all he wants, and Sho's gaze is still only mostly his own, and it's too tragic to Youichiro that it's only with his cock down Sho's throat, with lust and hormonal short-circuits running amok throughout their blood that he can reach this deeply into Sho, that they can get this close to bald, bare honesty in a way that Sho can cope with it.
Youichiro swallows deep, gulping air to try to steady himself, and he traces one knuckle across Sho's cheekbone, around his eye, over the browbone and eyebrows now arched with tension and needy vulnerability. "I don't want to fight with you, Sho, I'm sorry we yelled." Youichiro thrusts hard, rocking Sho's head back; greedy, Sho gulps him deeper, pushing his own limits until his cheeks bulge with the outline of Youichiro's shaft and his nose tickles the curls at his base. Youichiro can't help but whimper, his voice shredding into shaken, overwhelmed sobs at the edges.
"I don't care about that. I don't want Winnie, I don't want anyone else that's in here," he says, cupping one hand around Sho's skull, gently cradling the army of characters and shells, personalities, personas, and layers all contained within. Sho's eyes are wet, and on the next thrust, as Sho swallows deeply, Youichiro pushing him to his limit and just a bit beyond, the tears spill over, and the softness of his eyes show a smile that his mouth is too busy to continue with.
"It's not that I don't like them, you know that. But I just want you here. With me. I'll push you as hard as I have to, Sho, till you give me you. Every time."
Sho reaches up, searching for Youichiro's hand, finding it, lacing their fingers together. He grips tight, nails digging into skin, and tugs Youichiro closer, asking more. His throat constricts around his cockhead; he bobs his head, tipping his chin up, letting Youichiro's thrusts go deeper, making the angle smoother. His brow is furrowed with the strain of emotion that he's too unpracticed in feeling.
Youichiro grips Sho's hand tight, his other hand stroking Sho's cheek and jaw, the bulge of his cock each time it strokes deep into Sho's mouth; the curve of Sho's browbone, and the stretched curve of his smirky cupid lips.
"I just want to reach you, Sho. Every time. I will reach you."