When a package filled with giant cotton balls designed to resemble him and his troupe mates arrived at their front door, Chikage didn’t really know how to react. Sakyo had mentioned that the company would be making new merch. What he didn’t expect was that they were getting said merch too.
He didn’t think much of it when they first arrived. Sure, it was entertaining to see the rest of Spring Troupe’s faces squished into themselves as a result of (Itaru and Citron) playing around with them in the living room, and Chikage found himself holding onto Itaru’s more than he’d like to admit, but that was that. They took the omanjuus to their respective rooms, and Sakuya made a simple comment, saying something like this was their new home from now on. He couldn’t shake off the feeling of time repeating itself, no matter how silly it seemed.
That was a few months ago. Now for the current situation at hand. Chikage didn’t want to call it a problem, it was far too minuscule for that. Definitely.
At least that’s what he tried to tell himself as he squinted at the large thing that looked like him in his hands.
Ever since it arrived, Itaru was spending more and more time with the cushion. While the Itaru ball was usually sitting comfortably in the corner of Chikage’s bed, the human Itaru could almost always be seen with the omanjuu. Whether it be right after Itaru finishes a stream and Chikage is allowed to enter the room again, or when he’s just lazing around, there the ball was, wrapped in Itaru’s arms with an infuriating smile as if it was taunting Chikage. He didn’t know his own face could make him feel this irritated. Luckily Itaru wasn’t in their room right now, so he wasn’t able to witness Chikage giving this giant ball of cotton the worst death glare he’s ever given.
Chikage let out a sigh and tossed the omanjuu down on their messy shared couch, rubbing one hand over his face. This wasn’t good. He was Utsuki Chikage, April, for god’s sake. For years he’s lived through life threatening missions that most people couldn’t even imagine experiencing. He wasn’t going to get jealous and sulk over his boyfriend spending more time with a cushion version of him than the real thing. Absolutely not.
… Maybe he was a little bit jealous.
Though if there was anything that Chikage was worse at than admitting things to himself, it was admitting things to others. He was going to take this to his grave.
(Later, he would see that he was not able to live up to this declaration.)
Courtesy of Sakuya, the topic of what everyone has been doing with the omanjuus was brought up at dinner.
“I guess I’m curious about everyone too,” Tsuzuru said. “All Masumi does with it is give it his headphones when he’s not using them. It’s kinda funny seeing it since it looks like it’s the one wearing them.”
Masumi looked up at him. “You’re way worse, Tsuzuru. I’d feel bad for it if it didn’t have your face.” Chikage heard Itaru snort at that, and he had to fight to not do the same.
“What happens to Tsuzuru ball in your room, Masumi?” Citron asked.
“Masumi, don’t say anything-”
Masumi ignored Tsuzuru and leaned his face on one of his hands. “He bites the thing. I can see him chewing on it when he can’t think of anything to write down.”
The table erupted into chaos as Tsuzuru buried his face into his hands and groaned. “I can explain!”
“No you can’t.”
Tsuzuru sighed and changed the subject. “Well, what about you and Citron, Sakuya?”
“We gave ours matching bows!” Citron exclaimed, clapping his hands together in delight.
“Yeah!” Sakuya grinned. “We asked Yuki to make them for us and they look really good!”
“For real? Maybe I should ask him for a bow for Senpai ball too.”
“Don’t you dare,” Chikage side-eyed his junior. “Besides, won’t the bow get in the way of you cuddling it all the time?” he teased as if the thought didn’t make his eye twitch.
“Wh- Senpai!” Pink dusted Itaru’s cheeks, and Chikage supposed that giving up cuddles was a little worth it if he could poke fun at Itaru like this.
“Gross,” Masumi hissed under his breath. “We didn’t need to know that. It’s like watching your parents be all mushy.”
“Isn’t Citron the wife?” Tsuzuru asked.
“It’s okay, Citron’s my wife in name, but Senpai’s my actual wife.”
Chikage’s heart sped up a little at Itaru talking as if they were actually married, but he played along. “Who says I’m the wife?”
“Well, I can’t cook for shit, and you’re always doing my laundry for me,” Itaru rambled, lightly waving his fork around. “So, total wife material. You’re my malewife.”
“It’s exactly what it sounds like, Senpai,” and Itaru’s grin was absolutely ridiculous, as if everything he was saying made perfect sense. That didn’t make Chikage adore it any less.
“If that’s the case, then I think your malewife would appreciate it more if you would give him more attention instead of a cushion ball,” Chikage said in a lowered voice.
“Huh? Did you say something, Senpai?”
“Nope, nothing,” Chikage stood up out of his chair, taking his plate with him. “Thanks for the food.”
He saw Tsuzuru glance at him suspiciously as he walked past the table back to his room, but he paid no mind to it. He probably didn’t notice Chikage’s tone, let alone hear what he said.
Deep down, Chikage knew he was somewhat lying to himself. After all, he knows better than anyone else that the other members of his troupe are unexpectedly great at picking up these sorts of things.
In hindsight, maybe stealing the omanjuu to hide it on the roof wasn’t the brightest idea Chikage has had. It was easy of course, he knew this routine like the back of his hand. But now that he was actually here, on the roof of their dorms, it seemed ridiculous. It was ridiculous. It’s not like he planned on backing out now though.
He made his way to the back of the building, moving swiftly and carefully. He didn’t need to make what he was doing any more obvious, and he certainly didn’t want to place an omanjuu of himself somewhere visible, somewhere where it would be the first thing someone would see when going to the dorms.
The gentle breeze of the evening made his hair dance, and he placed down the ball on a surface that it wouldn’t fall off of.
“Aah! It’s Chikage!”
Chikage didn’t flinch, but he definitely wasn’t expecting to hear another voice here. He turned to the direction of the sound and found Misumi crouching beside him.
“Misumi. I didn’t know anyone else was going to be up here.”
“Me neither! I came here to eat some onigiri and watch the stars, but what about you?” he asked, onigiri in hand before his eyes laid on the reason Chikage was here in the first place.
“Oh! You brought Chikage ball with you! Were you gonna watch the stars with him too?”
Chikage didn’t know how to answer that. He supposed he could call leaving the omanjuu on the roof “stargazing” though.
“Not exactly. Unfortunately, I won’t be joining him.”
Misumi deflated a little, but perked back up as he spoke again. “That’s okay! I can give him a bit of my onigiri!”
Chikage huffed air out of his nose in a semi-laugh. “I think he’d appreciate it.”
Misumi proceeded to take a bit off of his onigiri and placed it on top of his rival. (Rival felt like a silly word to refer to the ball, and Chikage inwardly cringed at himself. Maybe Itaru’s been rubbing off on him too much.) He grinned, and turned to find his place on the roof before he stopped, looking like he just remembered something.
“Oh! Won’t Itaru be lonely without Chikage ball though?”
Chikage grimaced, but not enough for Misumi to notice with the moonlight as their only source of light. “Who knows?”
Misumi stared at him for a bit, like he was scrutinizing him, before he went back to his usual appearance. “Well, if he does, then he’ll just have to come back to him! But since he’s stargazing, I guess he can’t do that right now.”
“Right. Could I ask you to keep him company for now? I’d also like for this to just stay between us. I’ll give you more onigiri if that’s what you want.”
“Sure! Though, I dunno if I’d like spicy onigiri, so keep the spices out of it, okay?”
“Got it. Thanks.” Chikage let out a small smile, and left Misumi to his own devices, going back to the balcony and re-entering the dorms.
Chikage staggered into his hideout, rushing for the first aid kit on hand as he held onto his throbbing arm. He kept the lights dim as he treated his stab wound and cuts on his body, hissing as the alcohol came in contact with his injuries. He decided he’d deal with the bruise on his arm later, and headed to his car after cleaning everything up.
There were no other cars on the road as Chikage made his way back to the dorms. Though, that was to be expected, since it was already past 4 am. Luckily that meant everyone, even Itaru, was already asleep.
When he arrived back home, the door to his room softly creaked as he opened it, and true to his intuition, his boyfriend was asleep. Chikage walked over to Itaru’s bunk and climbed the ladder to get a closer look to see him clinging to his omanjuu, half of his face buried in the cushion. Chikage sighed, not surprised but not any less irked either. Itaru had somehow gotten it back, but he knew it was going to happen eventually.
Though, it’s not like I can blame him, Chikage thought as he gently ran his hand through Itaru’s soft hair. He’s always been terribly busy, with him usually working overtime and his other “job” taking up a lot of his time. It made sense for Itaru to want something to fill in the empty space Chikage leaves behind when he’s constantly flooded with work.
Plus, he couldn’t deny that Itaru was absurdly cute when he buried his face into the omanjuu, just like now. Not even just tonight either; there are times where Chikage catches Itaru groaning into the ball, either because of a bad pull or a level he can’t seem to pass, and it never fails to endear Chikage to levels he didn’t even know about. And Itaru thinks he’s the unfair one. Pair that with Itaru’s sleeping face and Chikage’s heart is completely done for. KO’d, if you will.
Itaru quietly grumbled, and Chikage’s hand froze in place. “Mmn… Senpai, don’t… go…” and that’s all he said before going right back to dozing off.
Chikage was silent for a bit, his boyfriend’s sleeping words sinking in. He spoke in the most quiet whisper he could muster.
“I wish I didn’t have to, Chigasaki,” he started with a disgustingly affectionate expression on his face. “If given the choice, I’d stay here with you, never leaving your side.” He silently apologized for constantly worrying Itaru, knowing that there’s another reason he stays up so late other than playing games.
“However, I can promise you that I will always try my hardest to come back home. To come back to you,” and he could only pray that it was enough.
Chikage was aware he was being uncharacteristically romantic (ironically), but Itaru wasn’t awake and love can change people. Evidently, it can also make them stupid. Stupid enough to hide a cushion on the roof from your boyfriend, a voice in his head nagged at him. He paid it no mind and started lightly scratching at Itaru’s scalp, who unconsciously started leaning into the touch. The action tugged a small smile on Chikage’s mouth, and he continued to do so for a few minutes, almost never wanting to stop before he remembered that they both had work in a few hours. Chikage slowly pulled his hand away and leaned down to press a kind kiss on Itaru’s forehead.
“Goodnight, my darling moon.”
Chikage felt the couch dip as Itaru dropped himself on the spot next to him.
“Alright Senpai. We need to talk.”
Turning to face Itaru, Chikage could instantly tell that this wasn’t something that he needed to worry about. Usually when someone hears the words “we need to talk” while in a relationship, they’d start panicking, wondering if they messed up badly enough to break the relationship. Though seeing the omanjuu in its normal place in Itaru’s arms told Chikage that this was far from it. He decided it wouldn’t hurt to humor him.
“What do we need to talk about, Chigasaki?” he asked with partially sincere innocence and a smile plastered on his face.
Itaru proceeded to shove his omanjuu in his face. “This! Or- him!” Chikage moved the ball out of the way to reveal a pouting Itaru.
“You’ve been weird about Senpaijuu ever since he’s gotten here, Senpai,” Itaru placed the omanjuu back in his lap, leaning on it while moving closer to Chikage. “What’s your deal?”
He even gave it a nickname? As per usual, Chikage didn’t let the irritation show on his face, but it was considerably more difficult than he was used to it being. This also meant that Itaru had noticed that something was off, which was something Chikage couldn’t allow. (He decided to ignore the fact that this might be already out of his grasp.)
“Nothing, really. Just means that there’s more things I’m going to have to put in the laundry for you. Isn’t it too cruel of you to accuse me of anything when I’m being such a good senpai?” Chikage found himself also leaning into Itaru’s space, as if challenging the other man to a game he knew he was going to win.
Or so he thought. Games have always been Itaru’s forte.
“One, you do that and more for me even with all your complaining anyway, Senpai,” Chikage quietly grunted. “And two, there’s no point in lying your way out of this battle. I already know where Senpaijuu went when he was missing and I know how he got there. Misumi was the one who gave him back,” and god, the triumphant grin on Itaru’s face was both absolutely endearing and infuriating.
But fuck, Chikage thought, pushing Itaru’s smile out of his mind. How was he going to explain that? He even told Misumi that he wasn’t supposed to spill, but he couldn’t really blame him.
Ah, that’s right. He called it stargazing. He knew that this was a flimsy excuse, but he was willing to grasp at straws if it meant Itaru wouldn’t figure out the ridiculous amount of jealousy the object brought him.
“Didn’t Misumi tell you? He was watching the stars along with him. I simply brought him up where he could properly see them.”
Itaru glared at him suspiciously. “Uh huh. And that’s supposed to explain why you bribed him with onigiri to not tell anyone?”
Most of the time, Chikage appreciated the fact that Itaru’s intellectual capacity was (surprisingly) high enough for him to be able to go back and forth with him. This was not one of those times.
Chikage sighed. “Alright, fine. There was a reason why I took your omanjuu to the roof. Happy now?”
“Uh, no. Of course I knew there was a reason, Senpai. What I wanna know is what the reason was. If it’s really something you can’t tell me, then you don’t have to, but I can’t really think of a reason for why it has to do with your mysterious double life-”
“No,” Chikage interrupted. “No, it’s nothing like that. Don’t worry.”
Itaru sighed in relief. “Okay, good. So, what was it?”
“That… I’m not telling you.”
“Ehh?” Itaru was smiling again. “You still can’t tell me? What, were you jealous or something?”
Chikage froze and didn’t respond. He knew Itaru asked as a joke, but now he didn’t know what he was supposed to say.
He stayed silent and watched realization dawn on Itaru’s face, then watched it morph into disbelief. “Wait. Wait, wait, wait. Wh- h-huh?”
As Itaru continued to stammer, Chikage focused his gaze on the wall and tried to will down his face heating up like an oven to no avail.
“Senpai, are you really…?” Now the color of Itaru’s face was starting to match his, and Chikage wanted to crumble. He wanted to crumble into a million pieces of dust and fly away (not really; he wouldn’t be able to protect anyone that way). He could feel Itaru’s awed gaze on him, and he couldn’t bring himself to look at him.
Chikage covered the bottom half of his face with his hand, his voice muffled, “We… We haven’t been able to be… together as often because of that... thing.”
“D-Don’t call him a thing,” Itaru mumbled in response, Chikage’s rare show of embarrassment rubbing off on him. Neither of them could look each other in the eye, and Chikage’s face was on fire. A few seconds passed before he heard shuffling in front of him and soon the omanjuu was behind Itaru, who was now pulling him into his arms. Chikage instantly returned the embrace, wrapping his arms around Itaru’s waist. Their combined weight pushed them back against the armrest, and they settled with Chikage’s back leaning against it.
“You’re so, so, so unfair, Senpai…” Itaru spoke as he buried his face into Chikage’s neck. He could feel the heat coming from his cheeks on his skin. “If you wanted me to cuddle with you instead, you could’ve just said so… You’re not supposed to be this cute.”
Cute? Chikage moved one of his hands from Itaru’s waist to gently scratch his head. “... It’s not like I tried to be. Isn’t your definition of cute too twisted?”
“Everything about my tastes turned twisted as soon as we started dating, Senpai.”
Chikage chuckled. “Right.”
The two settled into silence, their breaths steadying and matching up. Chikage continued to stroke Itaru’s head, running his fingers through his hair. Like usual, Itaru was probably going to get mad at him for messing up his hair later, but that didn’t matter when Itaru was enjoying it so much that he was about to fall asleep right on top of him.
Itaru jolted a bit in an attempt to not fall to the hands of slumber, as he would say, receiving a quiet laugh from Chikage. “You can sleep if you want to, Chigasaki.”
“Mmmmm…” Itaru grumbled as he laid his face back down on the crook of Chikage’s neck, his breath tickling him. It wasn’t late, but Itaru had a rough day at work, Chikage recalled when he came home with a complaining Itaru.
Chikage planted one last kiss on top of Itaru’s head before he felt him start to doze off.
“Your omanjuu can’t hold you while you sleep like this,” he whispered.
Itaru quietly snorted and lightly hit his arm. “Shut up, Senpai.”