i lost to a hamburger... (littlealex) wrote in sleeptotwelve,
i lost to a hamburger...

[FIC] lemon slices. pg-13. tomapi, angst-ish. 7806 words.

Title: Lemon Slices
Group: NewS (Yamapi), Ikuta Toma
Pairing/Genre: Tomapi. Kinda angsty.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 7806 words
Summary: When it rains, it pours. Tonight, Yamapi rains all over Toma's parade.
Notes: So I've had this one for a while. k_julia looked it over for me a while ago and gave me some really amazing feedback, but as most of my longer stories, it just needed to sit a while before I could go back to it and polish it up. This story might leave a sour note for some, but I couldn't change what I wrote - this is how this story goes, and I'd love to hear how you see it. Also, excuse the poor ending, because I fail at conclusions. Remixed for remixredux09 by solesakuma into This is the Night Akanishi Jin Dies (The Waiting Waiting Waiting Remix)

It all begins with a text message.

Nothing fancy, no emoticons or unrelated information like what he had for lunch that afternoon, just a simple message: "Come over." For most people, it wouldn't really be cause for concern, but Toma is pretty sure he's never received an unadorned message from Pi in his life, so all it does is raise alarms.

Okay, he replies, and gives into his curiosity by following it up with a casually concerned, is everything alright?, but he doesn't get an answer. The lack of response in itself doesn't worry him - Pi's always erratic with his replies, even when he doesn't mean to be - but it does give Toma time to consider what could possibly be so urgent that Pi needs to speak to him right away.

On the train over, he sketches out a list in the notebook he carries with him everywhere (for moments like this, when his thoughts won't stay in his head), and he arranges them thus:
  1. Family issues: his mother and sister are away for the weekend, maybe he hasn't heard from them and is concerned?
  2. Personal problems: maybe he's fallen for someone he shouldn't have. Again. Yamashita never talks about his personal problems.
  3. Health issues: he has a cold and wants someone to play the part of his mother. Though this should be Akanishi's responsibility, it always falls to poor Ikuta.
  4. Work problems: someone has told him 4TOPS won't debut, even though everyone knows they should.
Toma knows it's not personal problems, but the others are almost as easily ruled out. Pi bragged about his family being out of town for the weekend, so it can't be that. The health issues are also unlikely, as the message would have been longer and involved pathetic descriptions of his weakened state and more than a few sad faces. It could always be work, but short of 4TOPS disbanding, Toma can't see anything serious enough to warrant such behavior. And sure, Toma isn't Johnny, but they're doing well enough it seems like a bad move to split them up.

By the time he arrives at Pi's place, he's effectively talked himself out of every possible scenario. His notebook has a page filled with scribbles of what could be plaguing Pi so much - he even guessed at a surprise birthday party, two months early - but in the end he realizes he has no idea. He just prays, silently as he presses the buzzer at the gate, that he finds out whatever it is quickly.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be in the game plan. Instead of buzzing Toma in like he usually does, Pi comes all the way down to the gate, dressed in sweats and wearing sunglasses even though the sun has already set. If the blunt text message hadn't set off any alarm bells, this does, and Toma can't help but feel his heart race a little faster with the prospect of some impending doom. Something has happened, and Yamapi's reacting too strangely for Toma to even guess at what it could be.

"Pi, what's wrong?" He doesn't even bother with an appropriate greeting, but all he gets is a sniff in response. Pi grabs his wrist and tugs him inside the gate, not letting go until they reach the front door and not saying anything until they get inside. This gives Toma even more time to worry, his mind racing through all the scribbles in his notebook and going off on tangents like what if Jin died? that don't even make sense but might explain the reaction.

Once inside, Pi switches one pair of sandals for another and immediately squats down in the hall, waiting while Toma unlaces his boots. "Hey," he says, quietly, and he might be looking up but Toma can't tell from behind the dark sunglasses he still hasn't taken off.

"Hey," Toma replies, a slight frown on his face as he tugs off his boots and finds a pair of slippers to wear. "What's up?" Despite the fact that every inch of him is screaming to just shake the answer out of Yamapi, he restrains himself, puts his hands in his pockets, and waits. After five years of friendship, he's learned that the only way to get sensitive information out of Pi is with a gentle, casual attitude, so he swallows back his curiosity and watches as Pi stands up again.

"I'll get you a drink," Pi says instead, guiding Toma through to the kitchen with a hand on his elbow, as though Toma didn't know the way. Starting off with a drink is never a good sign, and it would have worried Toma more if he wasn't sure he'd already reached his limit for concern. Instead of listening to the constant buzz of thoughts rushing through his mind, Toma deposits his bag near the breakfast bar and watches in silence as Pi moves through the kitchen, getting a bottle of vodka and two shot glasses.

"Pi," Toma begins quietly, but cuts himself off as Pi hands him a cutting board and a lemon. "You know where the knife is," he says, and Toma can just barely see Pi's eyes looking directly at him from behind the sunglasses, his blink a protracted but inscrutable flutter of eyelashes.

Toma doesn't say anything, but follows the unspoken orders helplessly. Everything is just too strange for him to fathom. He knows Pi's dramatic, but this is too serious for him to just be playing a joke. Pi has his tells, just like everyone, and Toma knows them well and can see them instantly - a quirk of the lips, a flash of a raised eyebrow, something - but there's nothing to suggest this isn't anything but deadly serious.

Pi takes the alcohol and glasses out into the living room, and when Toma joins him with a bowl full of lemon slices, he's staring blankly at the bottle. He gives a little sniff when Toma kneels on the floor beside him, nudging one glass towards Toma and unscrewing the bottle of vodka. "Two," he says, holding up two fingers as he puts the bottle back on the table. "Then I'll talk."

With that, Toma completely ignores the fact that there are so many reasons they shouldn't be drinking - least of which is the illegality of it all - and takes his glass and a slice of lemon, ready to down two shots in quick succession if it will get some answers faster. Of course, Pi is taking his time, and meticulously picks the seed particles from his chosen lemon slice (the only thing he's done that is anywhere near characteristic of him so far) before he picks up his glass and raises it to touch Toma's.

"Kampai," Pi says rather solemnly, and doesn't bother waiting for Toma to echo it before knocking back the liquid. Toma watches him take the shot and considers the fluidity of his movements and the lack of reaction to the sting of the alcohol, convinced by now that this isn't the first shot of the evening. He downs his own shot quickly, scrunching up his face before he even gets the lemon to his mouth.

The process repeats itself - complete with Pi picking out the seeds - and the moment seems to drag on forever now that Toma knows there's some sort of explanation coming. Still, he stays completely silent in case he accidentally ruins the moment and waits, sucking on his last piece of lemon, feeling the warmth from the alcohol spread through him. It won't hit him for another few minutes, but he's not really paying attention to anything except Pi and what he has hidden behind his frustratingly unreadable expression.

Finally, Pi puts down his shot glass and removes his sunglasses. His eyes are bloodshot and puffy, and there is no question that he has been crying, though it has obviously been a while since he stopped. Toma swallows back a mouthful of sour lemon juice and tries not to say anything, even though he's pretty sure his expression is doing all the talking for him.

"It wasn't for me," Pi says offhandedly, referring to the crying, but that doesn't really explain anything. "So, I got a phone call today," he begins casually, as though Toma had only just arrived and they were catching up with some small talk.

"Oh yeah?" Toma plays along, taking the lemon out of his mouth finally and leaving it on the table. "Who from?"

"Oh, you know. Someone at the company." So it is about work. Toma's mind runs through the list of ridiculous things that could have gone wrong so quickly he almost doesn't hear what comes next. "They said I'm going to be in a temporary band for a month."

It takes a beat for Toma to hear what Pi said, then to realize that... well, what's so wrong with that? If 4TOPS aren't splitting up, what is Pi so distraught about? It's just a month, it could be some promotional thing for someone else's drama, or some Shounen Club bullshit they'd come up with.

"Just a month?"

"Yeah, we're going to be doing a song, a few B-sides maybe. The CD will be sold in convenience stores, you know. A little, short-run promotional thing."

Toma decides that Pi is completely insane. There's no need for the drama if it's what amounts to a single being released to promote something or other with a few random Juniors for a month. That happens all the time, and it doesn't necessarily mean the group would break up. Toma can't help but feel mislead, and he stares at Pi for a moment, brow furrowed.

"Well, that's not too bad, is it?" Toma ventures, thinking that there must be something else that Pi's hiding. Otherwise it would all be just a very cruel exercise in getting him worried. "I mean, it's only temporary. One month is nothing."

Pi flinches at the words as though they sting and picks up the bottle of vodka again, pouring them both another drink. "Yeah, it's nothing," he says, picking up Toma's glass and forcing it into his hand. Toma could swear Pi's eyes are getting a little wet, but he doesn't say anything until the ritual of another shot is over.

"Pi, come on," Toma says, putting his hand on Pi's forearm. With the casually concerned approach failing dismally, he decides to take a different approach and attempt to gently coax the final detail from him. "There's something else, and it's really messing you up. What is it?"

Pi looks utterly distraught at the question, his eyes puffing up even more as he looks up at Toma, and before Toma can say anything else, Pi flings himself forward. He wraps his arms around Toma's shoulders, his hot cheek pressed against Toma's neck, and Toma doesn't know what to do for a moment, stunned and confused and kneeling slightly awkwardly now, but eventually just returns the hug and tries to settle the other boy with long, slow strokes down his back.

It doesn't really help, because the next moment, Pi is hiccuping through his words and Toma can feel hot tears trickle down his neck. "Toma," Pi says pathetically, his fingers gripping into Toma's shirt so tightly he can feel the material stretch over his shoulders. "It's for the volleyball."

In any other world, in any other context, this confession would be laughable. In any other world, there's nothing wrong with volleyball, or promoting a volleyball team or match, and for a split second, Toma pretends he's a part of that world. No, he tells himself, he's not part of a world where a band is built on the strength of their promotion of the national women's volleyball team. No, he's not about to lose his best friend to a band who'll be shot to stardom on the back of promoting volleyball. Again. No, there's nothing wrong with this. He's not a part of the world in which volleyball means so much more than pikes and spikes and girls in short skirts.

But he is. He's in Johnny's world, where promoting the volleyball means everything. Where, exactly four years ago, he found himself left behind as the rest of another Juniors band left him to promote the volleyball, and went on to star in dramas and movies and release hit singles and do tours every summer. He might have been able to delude himself that this promotion was only temporary if he didn't know better. But he does. There's no way it this band will be temporary, and suddenly everything about the evening makes sense.

"You're kidding me, right?" Toma whispers after a while, voice weak as he comes back to himself and realizes that Pi has been crying silently on his shoulder for the last minute or two. "Please, tell me you're kidding."

Pi just hugs tighter and shakes his head quickly into Toma's shoulder, and Toma would be more annoyed about the snot on his neck if he didn't feel so much like he had been punched in the gut. As it is, his stomach is churning and he finds that he can barely breathe - though that might just be Pi's hug. He squirms out from the embrace, nudging Pi gently from him before standing up and taking a few steps away. Pi remains on the ground, slumping on the edge of the table and Toma can't help but think he looks incredibly small.

"I can't believe this," Toma mutters to himself, the full force of what's happened hitting him again. "I can't believe they're just taking you away. Who's in this band, anyway?" Not that it matters, because obviously nobody has control over where they're put, but maybe if he knows the juniors it won't be so bad.

Pi sniffs and looks up at him, the very picture of misery and for a second, Toma wonders why Pi's even crying. It's not as though his dreams have been pulled out from under him. Again.

"Nobody, just some fucking kouhai. Nishikido, that's the only person I really know." The answer throws Toma for a loop, completely distracting him Pi's tears, and he crosses his arms in confusion.

"Nishikido? Hasn't he already debuted with Kanjani8?" Surely, if there was a band member who had already debuted, they couldn't keep this new band around for very long. Maybe it was only temporary.

Pi doesn't seem convinced, though, and he nods solemnly. "Yeah, he and this other kid Uchi are going to be in both bands I guess. The rest, I don't even know them, one of them entered... I don't know, fucking three months ago or something. I just... I don't know. It's fucked up."

The swearing is jarring, and Toma shifts uncomfortably on the spot, crossing and uncrossing his arms as he decides how to react. There's not really anything he can do, nothing Pi could do, nothing anyone could do. Once these decisions are made, they're final, and nobody else gets a say. It would be easy to get angry, to storm around screaming a string of obscenities, but it's not worth it. Toma's been angry about this before, and it nearly tore him to pieces, so he clenches his fists to resist the urge, frowning at Pi for looking so pathetic.

"Come on, Pi, don't cry over this. If you're crying for yourself, that's just self-indulgent. You're debuting, for fuck's sake, don't cry about it. And if you're crying for me, don't worry. This happened before, and I still came out alive. Besides, I'm not even nineteen yet; Joshima was twenty-four when TOKIO debuted. I've got plenty of time." These are things he's told himself before, first when Arashi debuted and then later when he saw Kanjani 8 debut in Kansai - people younger than him, more inexperienced, less popular leaving him behind. He's felt this before, and made justifications and platitudes to comfort himself, but this time it's harder. The words taste bitter on his tongue and he shifts on the spot.

Pi sees right through it, and wipes his face before standing to face Toma.

"I wasn't crying for myself, and I wasn't crying for you," he says calmly, though the effect is ruined by a shuddering breath and a running nose. "I was crying for us." The words throw Toma completely, and he almost feels like asking Pi to repeat himself but he continues a second later. "We've been working together for the last four years, Toma. Friends for longer. As much as I want to debut, I never wanted to do it without you. You've always wanted this; sometimes I think you want it more than I do, and now I'm the one who gets to go off and debut and you're getting stuck with a bunch of stupid kouhai? It's not fair, and I'm upset because I don't want to be the one leaving you behind this time."

Toma can't help the constricted feeling in his throat as Pi speaks, and he swallows hard to counteract it. Pi's never really been a big talker, and when he talks a lot it's usually meaningless waffle to pass the time, so the sentimentality of his words are amplified even more. It renders Toma speechless, and he opens his mouth to say something but nothing comes to him. Anything he said to reciprocate would pale in comparison, and anything to console them both would sound empty and shallow.

Instead, he just nods, swiping at Pi's wrist in an uncharacteristic moment of shyness before tugging the other boy in for another, far less awkward hug. Again, he's not really sure who the hug is for, but he knows they both need it.

"It's okay," he murmurs, and of course it sounds hollow, but it's all he can do to keep the bleak prospects for the future from swallowing them up. "It's not like you're dying or anything." A touch of humor never went astray, and Pi laughs a little, breath tickling across Toma's ear. "I mean, Jin's been in KAT-TUN for three years now, and we still see him plenty. Besides, if I'm only doing Juniors jobs, they won't take up too much time. I'll come to your concerts and do your MC with you."

They're the sort of words mothers say when their children are sobbing inconsolably, and Toma knows it. The words don't really help, they only serve to calm the moment, to help it move forward instead of getting stuck in the continual waves of sadness. The shock of change isn't going to wear off until things have settled again; they'll get used to Pi being debuted, but now it seems inconceivable. Toma's positive everything will be okay, and he knows it will be. It has to be. It has been before, so it will be again.

He doesn't really have an option but to believe his own encouragement.

"Toma, I'm going to miss you," Pi says, his breath hitching again and Toma can't help but laugh a little. The alcohol must have kicked in because this is not the emotionally-reserved Pi that Toma knows.

"I'm not going anywhere, idiot. I'm right here, and I always will be. Don't you think our friendship is stronger than some band?" It's probably a little strange to be saying such sappy things while standing and hugging your best friend in the middle of his living room, but Toma can't really do anything but smile at it.

"I do," Pi mumbles, turning his head as he speaks and Toma's pretty sure that Pi kisses his jaw to punctuate his words. It's a bit weird, but not a big deal (Pi has strange ideas of appropriate touching and kissing, as do most people in Johnny's), and Toma just laughs, the spot cool and ticklish as Pi breathes all over it.

"Did you just kiss me, Pi?" Toma asks, and wonders whether he should pull away for this sort of conversation.

"Oh, I'm sorry, was it your first kiss?" Pi asks, even though he knows it's not, and Toma can feel a grin as Pi's cheeks tighten against his own. "I just couldn't help myself, you know?"

"Because I'm so irresistible, right?" Toma plays along, because even if this is a little bit weird, it's undeniably better than dwelling on the unforeseeable future.

"Mmm," Pi agrees without actually saying any words. Toma almost laughs at how drunk he sounds, but gets distracted as Pi's hands wander a little lower to clasp at the small of his back. "You know, I should really confess to you now, Toma. This would be the perfect time."

Pi's words make Toma's heart jump a little in panic. "Confess?" He repeats, hoping he misheard as his mind races. He knows Pi's drunk, but he's not that drunk and this is just weird and strange and he probably shouldn't have asked because now he's going to get an answer and -

"Yes. You see, I like you. You know, a lot. I like you a lot," Pi drawls, voice low and breath warm over Toma's ear and Toma just freezes. It's okay to joke about these things, but it doesn't sound like a joke.

Toma leans back a little to look at Pi, wondering vaguely with the part of his brain that isn't panicking how they went from a conversation about debuting and doomed career paths to confessions of unrequited love. He's expecting to see what he's hearing: Pi, inebriated to the point of being unable to stand on his own two feet, that little crinkle in the corner of his eye that means he's lying. Instead, what he finds is his best friend looking at him steadily, his big eyes bright and blinking innocently at him.

"You'd better be fucking with me," Toma says after a moment, finding his voice thin and his mouth dry.

Pi doesn't really answer him. He holds his gaze for a while, eyes round and still puffy and bloodshot, before taking a long blink and moving away. Toma can't help but be painfully aware of how Pi moves back, dragging his hands all the way around his waist, lingering for the briefest moment on his hips, before there's a gap between them that can't be more than a few inches but feels like a gaping chasm. Toma instantly feels bad, but still can't decipher Pi's inscrutable expression. To make matters more confusing, Pi just gives him an enigmatic smile and turns back to their empty shot glasses.

"Let's have another drink!" He says energetically, raising his arms and flashing the peace sign enthusiastically with both hands, kneeling down the next moment and pouring out two more shots. Toma's not entirely sure that it's a good idea, but again it seems better to follow the suggestion than dwell on what's just happened.

"Where did you get the vodka, anyway?" Toma asks, kneeling back where he was before and idly stacking his used lemon slices on top of each other. Everything seems to be buzzing in his mind, too many things to think about for him to settle and understand any one of them with any clarity, and he knows that the vodka isn't helping his ability to process any of it successfully.

Pi grins as he pours the drinks - still sober enough to avoid spilling - and lifts one shoulder in a shrug. "I have my ways," he says, voice low and mysterious. The tone sets off alarms that would be louder in the back of Toma's mind that he would have heard more clearly had he not had so much to drink already.

"It had better not be your mother's or you're a dead man come Monday," he plays along and smirks, picking through the lemon pieces for one without any seeds and handing it to Pi. It's much easier, he decides, to pretend nothing happened for the moment. It would be easier to process in the morning.

Pi's still grinning as he takes the lemon piece and shrugs. "Maybe it is, but you know what? I'm not going to be living here much longer, so it doesn't matter."

"You're moving out?" This is news to Toma, which only makes him wonder how many more curve balls there are ahead. "Since when?"

"Since... now. Since I'm debuting and all, right? I should be an adult. I'm nearly twenty, anyway -"

"You only just turned eighteen."

"Shh! I'm nearly twenty now, so really. I should move out. I'm just being tied down by my mother, and my sister's turning out to be a real brat."

"You're such a bad liar, Pi," Toma says, grinning because he's finally able to see the lies all over his friend's face. "Besides, you don't even know how to do your own laundry! You'd probably turn all your clothes pink on the first load."

"That's okay," Pi replies flippantly, clearly in the middle of a thought but he interrupts it to touch his glass to the edge of Toma's. "Kampai," he says, and this time Toma echoes it a second later, downing his drink and sucking on the lemon. It worries him a little that the alcohol doesn't sting on the way down, but not as much as it should. Pi chews on the lemon as he continues his thought. "You can do my laundry for me."

"I'm not doing your laundry!" Toma squawks, lemon still in his mouth as well. "Why would I be at your house doing your laundry? I'm not going to be your maid."

"You'd come over for sleepovers, though, right?" Toma laughs at the childish question as Yamapi refills their glasses. He's pretty sure the bottle of vodka should not be as empty as it is, but he's lost count of how many they've had already - never a good sign.

"Yeah, sure, I'd come over for sleepovers, but that doesn't mean I'd do your laundry."

"Not even to repay my kindness and hospitality? I'd cook you dinner and let you watch whatever you wanted on television and you could sleep in my ridiculously large king-sized bed, and you wouldn't even do a little thing like washing my clothes?"

Toma keeps his giggle to himself this time and raises his glass to Pi's. "Kampai, my friend," he says, drinking quickly before coming back to the laundry issue. "First of all, I'm not sure I want you to cook for me after the time you fed me that super-spicy ramen. Second, you might let me choose what to watch but you could never promise not to complain. Lastly, who says I want to sleep in your ridiculously large bed?"

"Everybody wants to sleep in my ridiculously large bed!" Pi proclaims, lemon falling out of his mouth. They both laugh at that, and Pi throws the used piece of lemon at Toma.

Which was, in hindsight, a pretty stupid thing to do, because it just starts a lemon-throwing contest. It goes back and forth a few times, both of them giggling like school girls as their discarded lemon pieces stick to shirts and arms and hair. They both squirm ridiculously because they're throwing at close range and it's difficult to dodge, but at least nothing gets knocked over in the process. It ends, slightly tragically, when Pi manages to land a piece of lemon smack in the corner of Toma's open eye.

Toma's in the middle of being surprised and in complete pain when Pi reacts far more quickly than a person of his blood alcohol level should, leaning forward and holding Toma's face in his hands. Toma can barely see, he's keeping his eye shut and the other one seems to need to follow suit, but he hears Pi shift onto his knees and feels it when a soft pair of lips press gently over his scrunched up eye. For a second, the pain dulls and all he can feel is a comforting warmth rush through him. Then it occurs to him that Pi is kissing his eye, and that's definitely more than a little weird.

Abruptly, the whole moment is over, and Toma pulls away from Pi's hands, shaking his head and pressing the heel of his palm against his eye. "Sorry," he mumbles, though he's not really sure what he's sorry for, and manages to scramble to his feet and find the bathroom without falling over.

As he's washing his eye out, Toma considers the fact he's pretty sure he has no idea how or why the evening progressed this way. It had all started out harmlessly enough, anxiously perhaps, but it progressed to worrying, through a touch of misery, some sentimentality, a little awkwardness, plenty of confusion, bits of randomness, and now here he is, standing over the sink washing lemon out of his eye, half-drunk and exceedingly perplexed.

None of what happened makes much sense, except for the fact that Yamapi is going to debut. Which, to be honest, sounds dodgy anyway (roping in two debuted Kansai kids just doesn't sit right), so really? It's all a little more than fucked up.

"I know what you're thinking," Pi says from the doorway, surprising Toma so much he stands up straight away, splashing water all over the place and earning a quick bark of laughter from Pi.

"Really?" Toma counters, raising his eyebrows as he reaches for a towel. "Because I've got no fucking clue what you're thinking, Yamashita."

Pi looks a little hurt at the sudden name change, but he doesn't say anything about it. He doesn't do anything at all, really, just stands there, and Toma takes the opportunity to dry his face. A moment later, though, Pi tugs the towel out of his hands, and Toma wants to protest but quickly finds his mouth otherwise occupied.

It takes him a moment - and he wonders why his body chose this moment to feel the effects of the alcohol - but he realizes slowly, warmly, that Pi's kissing him. Properly. With a little bit of tongue and everything. And before he fully realizes that it's Pi who's kissing him, it doesn't feel so weird. It's a nice kiss: Pi's lips are full and smooth and just a little moist, like Toma always catches himself thinking they'd be, and his tongue tastes like lemons and vodka and not much else. It's easy to get caught up in, and his mind goes blissfully blank for a moment before he remembers the crucial detail of the whole moment.

"Pi," Toma mumbles into the kiss the second before he pulls back, pressing his fingers to his mouth the next second (though he's not sure whether that's to keep the memory or to stop it happening again), opting to just look stunned as he collects his thoughts.

Pi sways a little from the force of the kiss being broken and opens his eyes at length, running his tongue sinfully slowly over his bottom lip before he manages to look up at Toma. "What's the matter?" he asks serenely, and Toma wants to blame the last minute entirely on alcohol, except for the fact that Pi sounds and looks entirely sober. Or, at least, far less drunk than he should have be to kiss his best friend. Who is not a girl.

A few seconds later, as Toma feels his brain catching up with what's going on, he realizes he doesn't have an answer. He considers the possibility that it could be the alcohol talking, but there doesn't seem to be anything wrong, objectively speaking. He feels less strange now than he did when they were hugging and Pi kissed his jaw, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but that's how it is.

"Toma? You awake?" Pi says, grinning and patting Toma's cheek lightly. "I mean, I know I'm a good kisser, but I didn't realize I could stun you into silence." That jogs Toma back to reality, and he responds very maturely by sticking out his tongue. Pi laughs and mimics the action, and for a moment they're just two fools sticking their tongues out at each other like they're in junior high school.

"Shut up, you just surprised me, that's all." It's a lame excuse, but Toma sticks with it. Pi just laughs and pretends to catch his nose, for no discernible reason.

"Surprised you, huh?" He asks, pretending to put Toma's nose back, grinning and tilting his head. "You know, I did confess back there, you shouldn't have been so surprised."

"I thought you were just making it up!" Toma protests indignantly. "You're always making shit up, staring at me to freak me out, getting in my personal space...." He trails off, thinking about what he's just said and realizing that not only should he have really noticed something a long time ago, but he should have been able to tell that Pi wasn't just yanking his chain with the confession.

Pi just grins at him. "And the penny drops. You, my good friend, are a complete moron. Rivaling Bakanishi, really. Even he figured it out, you know."

"Jin knows?" Toma squeaks, eyebrows shooting into his forehead. It's one thing for him to have been clueless, but for Jin to have worked it out? Well, that's just not fair.

"I didn't tell him," Pi plays with semantics like he's playing with a curl of his hair and if Toma wasn't so dumbfounded, he'd probably consider how funny Pi trying to flirt with him is. "He just guessed. Came up to me one day, after some Shounen Club thing last year, and just said, 'you should tell Toma how you feel.' That was it. It's not like we talked about it or anything, but I guess I didn't forget it. He's a perceptive little shit."

It still isn't really sinking in, and Toma just nods as though that might actually help all the new information settle in his mind. It doesn't, and it must be obvious since Pi laughs at him again, reaching over to run his fingers affectionately through Toma's hair. The touch sends a strange thrill through his body and the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, and Toma laughs because he's embarrassed, but then he realizes that he doesn't have anything to be embarrassed about.

"So," He says, trying to be casual even though the question on his mind isn't exactly one that's easy to phrase. "What now?" It's a little vague, but he's hopeful that Pi will catch on.

"Well, if it was up to me, we'd make out some more, I'd ply you with a little more alcohol before very coolly asking if you want to join me in bed and see where the night takes us, but really, it's not like I haven't thought of all possible scenarios here. Including the one where you completely freak out and hate me for the rest of our natural lives, so I'm pretty much happy with whatever you want."

It's a proper answer, that's for sure, but not entirely what Toma hoped for. "Oh. I meant more like... what about tomorrow, and the next day, when you debut?"

Pi's face scrunches up a little in a look of distaste. "God, Toma, I didn't realize you were such a girl," he says, but doesn't hold his expression for long enough for Toma to believe it. "I don't know," he adds a moment later, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. "Hadn't thought about it. Well, I had, but involved us debuting together, so I think... I think we just see what happens."

It's all perfectly logical, and is beginning to make sense, and Toma's nodding when the full situation hits him again. This isn't just trying to work out their scheduling conflicts, it's trying to work out how a relationship might work when they're split up in different bands. And not just any relationship, some kind of... well, something different from staying friends, and it's not just any friend he's made over the last few years, this is Pi. This is his best friend, his best friend who's just confessed to him, and the whole thing just makes Toma's head spin and he's sure it's not just the alcohol this time.

"I think this whole thing is driving me crazy," Toma mumbles, the words spilling out without him really thinking about them. Sure, he enjoyed the kiss, and he's not sure there's anything wrong with being in love with Pi - not that he is in love with Pi, but isn't that a natural end result of making out? Or something? - but is this really what he wants? How is he meant to know if he wants it? What does he want? How is it even going to work? Toma's mind is buzzing even more and he lifts the towel to his face again with a frustrated groan.

Pi just laughs indulgently and reaches up to pull the towel away. Toma doesn't think it's particularly fair that Pi gets to laugh at his internal monologue because surely this can't be anything but completely confusing. He frowns at Pi, but that only makes him laugh harder.

"Stop this, Toma," Pi says, grinning at him. "You're thinking too much about this. There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so; come on, you've read Shakespeare, Mr. Gentleman of Verona. You can't think out your feelings, just follow them." His tone is shallow and flippant, but Toma can't help but think it might be the deepest thing Pi has ever said to him. "Come on, let's get you drunk."

Toma just rolls his eyes and tosses the towel over Pi's head. "You completely ruined that moment, you know," he says, grinning reflexively as Pi emerges from beneath the towel with his hair spiking up in all different directions. "I mean, you quoted Shakespeare. You could have been really romantic, and instead you go straight to getting me drunk."

"Yeah, but you're adorable when you're drunk," Pi says with a casual shrug and a grin that doesn't quite match, reaching over to lace his fingers with Toma's. "Besides, we're already halfway there. May as well make the rest of the journey."

The rest of the journey doesn't really take that long.

The problem is, Toma decides, that alcohol seems to wait to show its full effect. It lulls you into a false sense of security by giving you a quick buzz, makes you feel tipsy, and then - bam! You're drunk, unable to sit up straight let alone remember how to put your sentences together, giggling about something that would never be funny if you hadn't been drinking, pressing your face into someone's shoulder like it would help you breathe.

At least, that's how Toma realizes he's had too much to drink, and his head starts to spin the moment he closes his eyes against Pi's shoulder. He stops giggling and sits back, eyes wide open and staring at the curtains as though it might help the dizzy feeling, and it takes Pi a second to catch up but he eventually does, laughter fading and he presses a hand to Toma's thigh, even though that's not the part of him that needs steadying.

"Hey," he says, snapping Toma's attention away from the curtains back to him. Toma breathes a sigh of relief as he's able to focus on Pi's face, but his body still feels like it's swaying a little and a giggle bubbles from his throat. Pi looks amused, but still concerned as he shifts to move a little closer. "Are you okay?"

"What?" But Toma had heard, it just takes him a moment to realize and he nods. "Oh, yeah. I'm fine, the room started spinning a little."

Pi gives him an indulgent sort of look and presses his palm to Toma's cheek. "Come on, lightweight. Time for bed."

The word 'bed' triggers the memory of the kiss from earlier and Toma feels a hot rush of panic coarse through him, blurting words before he even thinks about them. "I'm not sleeping with you!" The next second, he realizes what he's said, and clamps his hands over his mouth, cheeks burning instantly.

But instead of being offended, Pi just giggles and sits back on his knees, gripping onto Toma's arms - but who he's trying to hold steady is unclear. "Don't be silly, of course you are," he says with a grin, as though they usually slept together and it was foolish for Toma to change the rules now.

"What?" This time, he means it.

"You're coming to bed with me. To sleep," Pi adds the last part pointedly, but it's only when he grins that Toma realizes what it all means.

"Oh! Oh, to bed. To sleep."

"Yes, Toma. Because you're incredibly drunk, and while one day I hope to pass out, inebriated, with my hand down your pants, I'm painfully aware that tonight is not going to be that night, so, in short, and to be very precise about it all, yes. To bed, to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream." It's deliberate, of course, all the extraneous words, but Toma misses everything he should have paid attention to and catches on the last phrase.

"You know that line is about dying, don't you? Hamlet wants to kill himself. That's not very romantic."

Pi just grins and stands up - with some small difficulty, Toma is pleased to notice - and then offers his hand with a flourish. "Come on. Goodnight, sweet prince."

"That's about dying, too," Toma says as he takes Pi's hand and struggles to his feet. "I think you should read something else besides Hamlet, it's a little depressing."

"Please don't talk about Shakespeare," Pi interrupts the moment abruptly, shifting closer and wrapping his arm around Toma's waist to support him as they make their way to the bedroom. "It's cute when I'm sober, but you get too... intelligent about it, and right now I am not feeling intelligent at all. I'm feeling stupid and reckless and I want to kiss you again but you're too drunk now."

That's not exactly how Toma expected the statement to finish when it started, so it takes him a moment to react. By the time he works out what he wants to say, they're at Pi's room and he's leaning on the doorway while Pi clears a path on the floor to the bed. "I am too drunk," is what comes out, and Pi just laughs as he tosses magazines off of his bed and onto his desk.

"Very perceptive of you," Pi says, grinning as he takes Toma's hand again and tugs him towards the bed. "Now, take off your jeans and get under the blanket," he says, and Toma opens his mouth to say something but is stopped by Pi's hand. "Your jeans are too heavy to wear to bed. So take them off, pick a side of the bed, and get in. I'm going to turn the light off, then I'm going to get into bed wearing all these clothes so you don't have to worry about any cooties."

Toma frowns at that, though it feels a little strange beneath a hand, and Pi just grins and moves over towards the light. Taking off his jeans seems more difficult than it should be, but he manages to free himself from them by the time the lights are off, sliding under the covers quickly before Pi returns. "I'm not scared of your cooties," Toma says into the darkness, hearing Pi's shuffling footsteps come closer. "I'm not scared of you."

"I'm glad you're not scared," Pi says, much closer now than before, and he slides easily into the bed beside Toma. All of a sudden, the bed feels a lot smaller and the world feels like it's spinning a little faster, and Toma wishes his heart would stop beating so hard in his chest. "But I have to ask you something." This time, Pi's voice is lower, quieter, but Toma can feel the other boy's breath across his skin that's how close they are.

"Anything," Toma replies, fingers reaching up to press over Pi's elbow in a small but hopefully powerful gesture.

"Will you be scared tomorrow?" Pi asks quietly, shifting so that they're facing, and even though Toma can't see him, he can feel Pi's fingers slide tentatively over his waist, gripping into the fabric of his shirt.

Toma doesn't really know how to answer. He's scared in some ways, but none of them are bad. He's nervous and jittery and it makes him feel a little sea-sick, even aside from all the alcohol, but it's not to sort of fear that's going to do any damage. He's not the type to hesitate, so Toma knows that once he's rid of his nerves, everything will be easy, like nothing had ever been awkward or uneasy.

He can't find the words to say it all, though. He wants to tell Pi that it's okay, that he doesn't need to be worried, because even though everything - their lives, their careers, their feelings - has been turned on its head, he's sure it will be easier now that it's all in the open. He's still not sure where hes going, what he's doing, or what he wants, but he doesn't want to think about it anymore. Right at this moment, it feels easy and uncomplicated, even if it's the most confusing thing that's ever happened to him.

The silence has stretched too long, though, and Toma knows it. The quiet 'no' he was going to give doesn't feel like enough, so he lets his actions speak for him, moving closer and aiming a kiss for where he imagines Pi's mouth is. He misses a little, catching the corner of a smirk, and laughs the next second because at least he knows that Pi doesn't care that he's completely hopeless right now.

"No, I won't be scared tomorrow," Toma says quietly as he leans back on the pillow, smiling even though Pi probably can't see him, moving one hand up to press against the other boy's chest.

"Good," Pi says, and Toma can practically hear the grin even though he can only see the outline of it in the darkness. "Then I'll wake you with a kiss tomorrow morning."

Toma twists his fingers into the fabric of Pi's shirt and closes his eyes, smiling to himself. The dust might not have settled yet, and time could make or break them, but if there is one thing he has learned in the last seven years, it's how to make things work for him.

Tags: fic: ikuta toma, fic: je, fic: news, genre: angst, pairing: tomapi, rating: pg-13, word count: 5000-10k

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