“Hey! How about we do some team bonding tomorrow?”
Kakeru looked up from the magazine he was reading. Shun stopped munching his cookie for two seconds before continuing and pretending he didn’t hear that. Kira sighed as loud and noticeable as he could. Tomii looked like he was actually interested.
“What kind of team bonding are you thinking of?”
“What crappy internet article did you read today?”
Tomii and Kira asked at the perfect unison, except with different questions. They turned their heads to each other while the other three looked at either one of them. Tomii and Makki were the one who laughed first, followed by Kakeru’s chuckles, then Kira’s. Shun smiled a little, still with his ‘cool guy eating a cookie coolly’ act.
“My question remains though,” the youngest said as soon as the last chuckle stopped. “Seriously, what crappy internet article did you read?” he asked again while reaching for the pile of magazines in front of Kakeru.
“It’s not crappy! Look here,” Makki leaned to his side so that Kira could see the phone in his hand. Kakeru leaned in as well, a little curious of what the article said but mostly thinking oh, so it really was an internet article.
“‘16 Ways You Could Get Closer with Your Friends’? Yeah, that screams crappy, if not sad. Both, actually,” Kira said. “And like I’ve said countless times, I don’t consider you to be friends. We’re workmates.”
“Don’t say such a cold thing!” Makki nudged Kira slightly in the arm, to which the pastel-haired replied with a soft scoff. “Here, see? ‘Movie night: Deciding on what movie to watch and experiencing it together will make you know each other better! Cheap, easy way to bond with your mates, and you can do it wherever as long as there’s some kind of screen!’,” he read the description. “We should totally do this.”
Shun sighed. “We’re practically spending every day together, I really don’t want to know more about you…”
“Well I think team bonding is great!” Tomii replied, beaming. “And I love movies!”
“Well.” Makki grinned. “That makes it two for two then,” he added, ignoring Kira’s mundane attempt to ask ‘since when was this a voting?!’ The oldest then glanced at Kakeru then grinned. “Decide for us, Kakeru.”
“Eh?” the blue-haired was off-guard when Makki threw him a question (more like an order), and his eyes widened a little. Kira made an X sign with his arms and Shun shook his head, while Makki gave him two thumbs up and Tomii looking at him with starry eyes. He chuckled. “Well, movies seem fun, so I vote for yes.”
Kira groaned, Shun sighed, Tomii beamed, and Makki grinned from ear to ear. “I knew I could count on you!”
“Can you at least please let me choose the movie?” Shun asked, closing the magazine in his hands, a frown formed on his lips.
“Oh! Wait, actually, about that,” Tomii spoke up before anyone else said anything, one hand lightly scratching his jaw while the other raised. They turned their attention to the blonde. “Actually, I got an audition for a horror movie in two weeks, based on a manga series, but I couldn’t finish the manga because it’s… really scary…” He paused as he peeked to his groupmates, then looked at each of them one by one. “So if you’re okay with it…” Another pause as he looked at them again. “Can we please watch a horror movie so I can practice?”
“Ooohh!! You got an audition! That’s awesome!” was Makki’s first reaction, then, “Of course we can watch one! I was gonna suggest it myself actually!”
“Wait a minute,” Shun cut, deadpan. “Can you stop deciding everything for us?”
“Eeh? But it’s to help Tomii for his audition!” Makki said, eyebrows furrowed.
“Still!” Shun protested. Makki huffed.
“I guess we can vote for this as well. Who’s up for a horror movie?”
Everyone except Shun raised his hand, to Shun’s surprise. “Wait, what?” He turned his head to Kira, his expression hurt as if saying ‘why did you betray me, weren’t we allies a minute ago?!’
“Well I don’t really care what we watch.” Kira shrugged. “I’m good with whatever. Horror’s good too so I’m voting for it I guess.”
Shun let out an exasperated sigh as he moved his gaze to Kakeru, who just let out a slightly nervous laugh. “Well, I’m good with whatever you want as well, but it is for Tomii’s audition…”
“4 to 1!” Makki grinned in victory. “Horror movie at my place tomorrow!”
“What one earth are those piles?” was Kira’s first reaction when Makki opened the door to his apartment. “How long have you been not washing your dishes and doing your laundry and… cleaning your room in general?” The leader laughed between embarrassment and guilt.
“I was gonna clean it up this morning because you guys were coming, but I overslept so I didn’t have time…”
Kira shook his head in disbelief. Neither him nor the other three group members were a clean freak, but the blue-themed member said exactly what was on every one of their minds, “Because we were coming? So if we weren’t coming, you’ll continue your daily live in... this?” Okay maybe Kakeru’s and Tomii’s thoughts weren’t exactly like this, but the message remained. Makki laughed slightly nervously like he’d been caught in a candid camera, but still managed to shrug.
“Well, yeah, I mean it’s never bothered me…”
“Please be bothered because I am.”
“Aw, I cleaned the area on bed and in front of the TV… sort of,” he added the last two words with a smaller voice. “So! It should be fine!”
Still grumbling, Kira mumbled a “fine” and “I’m coming in” and entered, followed by Shun, Tomii and Kakeru. Makki didn’t have enough slippers for everyone so the last three who came in had to tiptoe with their socks and hoped that they don’t step on anything. There wasn’t much space in the room so they had to push the table aside. Kira called shotgun to sit on Makki’s bed, followed by Shun and Makki himself. Kakeru and Tomii just smiled as they put their stuff on the floor.
After some arguments about popcorn flavors (“Did you know that they just released a pineapple-mango-flavored popcorn?” “Please no.” “Oh! Check this out! They have wasabi-ginger as well” “Please, no.”) and two trips to the convenience store (“Okay these chips and candies look good but did you get the popcorns.” “......Shoot.” “Whose idea was it to let Makki go alone?” “Well he lost at rock-paper-scissors.” “Shun, go with him.” “Eeh, why me?” “Me or Tomii can go with him but we’re going to get that wasabi-mango popcorn whether you like it or not.” “Wasabi-ginger and pineapple-mango!” “That’s not the point and fine I’m going.”), they were finally ready to watch The Ring, which Makki picked at random at the rental store.
Well, almost all of them were ready.
“Tomii, you okay?”
“Huh?” Shounen Hollywood’s good luck charm said as he turned his head, his face had started to lose its colors and they hadn’t even played the movie yet. He had a pillow in his arms—correction: in his embrace—holding it so tight Makki was kind of worried it would get too squished to sleep on later. “Yeah! I’m fine! I have to be,” Tomii said with an attempt to laugh, but everyone in the room could hear how nervous, or scared, he was.
“Yeah! You’ll be fine! And we’re here for ya.” Makki gave him a thumb up and a grin. Tomii smiled weakly in response, but Makki didn’t see it as he pushed the DVD inside the player and jumped over to the bed to sit. “Oh, Kakeru, can you press play? I think the remote’s around you somewhere.”
“Huh? Umm,” the blue-haired said and continued umm-ing while he looked around. Not finding it, he half-stood up and let out a small “ah!” when he found the remote near his legs. “Got it,” he said, pressing the green triangle button.
A previously dark screen was replaced with… another black screen but darker, and slowly a blue logo appeared. Shun took some popcorn (butter with extra cheese as he liked it, thank goodness) and was going to hand it to Tomii, who was unfortunately too focused on the screen and the pillow in his embrace to notice, so he passed it to Kira beside him instead.
Some eerie music started playing and an image of water flowing filled the TV. Kakeru took some popcorn from the bowl before passing it back to Makki. He’d seen this movie, maybe even a couple of times, either with his friends or sister, or both. He wasn’t the type to get extremely scared by the unseen, but he wasn’t completely okay with horror movies either. But he guessed the purpose of a horror movie was to make the viewers scared, so he wasn’t alone in the ‘not completely okay with horror movies’ department.
When the first two characters—both were girls, maybe around his age—appeared, Kakeru subconsciously turned his head to take a look at Tomii who was sitting beside him, though a few ten centimeters apart. The blonde was very much tense, holding the pillow like it was the only thing that was keeping him between life and death. The scene, however, turned out to be the two of them just talking, and Kakeru observed that his muscles relaxed a little. But, as many horror movies were, the talk turned ominous and Tomii clinged to the pillow yet again. This kept going on for a couple of minutes and, although Kakeru felt kind of bad thinking of it, he found Tomii’s change of emotions just a little amusing.
By now there were laughs shared between the two girls and it was a relaxing time for Tomii, but then suddenly the phone in the movie rang. He froze at the same time the two girls did. It had barely been 4 minutes into the movie and he was already on the edge of his seat (metaphorically, because well, he was sitting on the floor).
Tomii had never been good with scary things ever since he was small, even when he was surrounded by his dorm-mates at the orphanage. He would hide behind the largest kid or cover his entire face with anything from a blanket to a home phone (it had been the closest object to him). That was why, when the President told him that a casting team was interested to see him auditioning for a horror movie, his first thought was to say a flat out no. But he liked acting, wanted to expand his horizons, and had heard that Kou-san was going to sing for the movie. There was really only one answer he could give.
That didn’t stop his heart racing as the two girls walked down the stairs, making their way slowly toward the ringing phone. ‘Don’t pick it up,’ he thought, feeling his entire body trembling. ‘Oh no, they’re going to pick it up,’ he panicked internally, leaning forward and holding the pillow right in front of his eyes, not wanting to see what happened next.
Meanwhile, Makki was busily looking for the ghost in every passing scene. He didn’t really want to admit it, but he could be kind of slow sometimes. There were times he didn’t feel scared by a horror movie simply because he either didn’t realized the ghost was there, or he didn’t understand what was happening. As strange as it sounded, he wanted to be scared by horror movies because hey, that was horror movies are for, right? To scare you so much that you can’t go to sleep? Makki wanted to experience that.
One of the girls was reaching the phone. Makki gulped down as he grabbed some popcorn from the bowl Shun was holding without seeing exactly where it was, which resulted in a bunch of the microwaved corn to fall onto his bed, but he didn’t seem to care. He just wanted to experience the movie to the fullest that he could.
Kira was used to this. He’d had his share of watching movies, horror included, ever since he could remember. Of course they scared the hell out of him at first, but ever since he could understand that they were movies and therefore were not real, they became less of scary experiences and more as studying materials for acting and directing and the like. Horror movies might not be his favorite, but most of the times he found the characters amusing. He meant, come on, there was definitely something suspicious going on and you could’ve left it alone, but noooo, you had to come in and have a little look. Or y’know, it was definitely dangerous to be alone in what might be a life-and-death situation, but you just had to say, “Let’s split up.” Yeah, maybe meeting that bad end was your own fault.
His soda can made a hiss sound as he pulled the opener, and he waited a couple of seconds before starting to drink it. His eyes skimmed over the room while the two girls in the movie was carefully going to pick up the phone, thinking of how whatever piles Makki had in the corner was scarier than what was on screen. Goodness. How did a guy like that become their leader, seriously.
After regretting to see his current environment, Kira began to skim the other members’ expression, and didn’t take too long to notice Tomii. The lucky boy was already covering his eyes even before the scary scene appeared. Sigh.
He felt Tomii’s shoulder jerking when he reached over to push the pillow away from the blonde. “You need to watch this,” he said. “You need to get used to it to learn.”
Shun would never openly say it in a non-sarcastic way, but he always thought Kira was amazing. The boy might be the youngest, and would always act so annoying and bratty at times, silly and random at others, but he knew how to get the job done.
But Shun himself was amazing as well so, whatever.
His focus shifted back to the screen, not going to admit this either but he felt his heart drumming through his chest. Horrors weren’t exactly his favorite thing, and while he knew being scared shitless over fictional things was stupid, it didn’t stop him from feeling that he shrunk a little every time he saw creepy movies and pictures. He always kept a cool appearance on the outside, but goddammit, why would you pick up that phone, were you all stupid, you’d spare millions of viewers if only you hadn’t been stupid enough—
“What the heck was that?!”
Tap, tap, tap.
They looked at each other.
“Seriously, what was that?”
The silence that came afterward stayed for a while as the five of them still had their eyes on each other, and the sound of something rolling that followed surprised even Kira and Makki. They and Kakeru looked left and right, trying to find where the sound came from. Shun was frozen for a few seconds before snapping out of it and started looking around as well, though cold sweat was starting to dominate his palms. Tomii couldn’t even say anything, his face was so pale he could be mistaken to be whatever it was that scared him so much.
The rolling sound was getting increasingly farther from them. Kira got up from his uncomfortable seat, followed by Makki who was feeling conflicted if it really were a ghost in his room, it was exciting but terrifying at the same time.
But it was just a freaking bowl.
“I found the culprit,” Kira said, sighing as he showed the bowl he just picked up to the three other members. Kakeru’s expression didn’t really change, Shun was secretly relieved, Tomii was obviously relieved. “I guess it sort of jumped down from that pile of dishes or… Pile of whatever that is.”
“They’re all dishes and nothing else!” Makki protested.
“How would I know from that!” Kira frowned. “I can’t do this anymore. Kakeru, pause the movie,” he told the blue-haired, who was confused for a split second but did as he was told the next. Thankfully, it stopped at a rather neutral scene. But Makki wasn’t so amused.
“Wait, what do you mean you can’t do it anymore?! Are you going home after all we’ve been through to finally watch this movie?” the leader said, over-dramatically.
“No, I’m saying we should do something about this place before something jumped out again and killed Tomii’s heart,” Kira said with a tsk.
“Wait,” Shun spoke up. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
Kira sighed and the other four looked at each other in confusion and disbelief.
And that was the unfortunate story of how a five-boy idol group ended up having a sleepover after getting exhausted vacuuming and dishwashing instead of going through a movie marathon.