G, 519w, vaguely inspired by/based on Ray Bradbury's A Blade Of Grass
Back then it had been Fujigaya who'd been fascinated with Life and Living Organisms, Fujigaya who had woken Kitayama out of stasis every night just to sneak out and comb through the junkyards a mile away from their processing center in the hopes of finding a dandelion, a cockroach, a drop of water with algae, anything that was alive and organic. It had been a dangerous thing to do of course, certainly illegal, but Fujigaya had been so fascinated with the idea of Life, so passionate about it, and Kitayama had never been able to deny the sparkle in Fujigaya's eyes.
So it's surprise more than anything else that spurs Kitayama into action when Fujigaya would obliterate the blade of grass they've found growing – actually growing – from a crack between two cement blocks.
"What are you doing!" Kitayama hisses, crouching down to cup a hand protectively over the precious blade of grass. "Do you not realize what this is?! Think how many hours we spent searching when we were younger!"
"Kitayama, we cannot," Fujigaya tells him, voice flat and toneless, standard. He lowers himself stiffly and looks Kitayama straight in the eye sensors. "You know we cannot. It is against the Regulations."
For a long moment Kitayama searches Fujigaya's gaze, looking for the sparkle that he remembers so well. He has screenshots of it stored away in one of his archival folders, dated and timestamped from eons ago. But he sees no sparkle left in Fujigaya's eyes, and doesn't even need to search out the screenshots for a comparison because he finds he has that sparkle imprinted right into his RAM.
"It's against the Regulations," repeats Fujigaya, and this time Kitayama does nothing to protest.
Kitayama doesn't move his hand when Fujigaya turns on his flame gun – his titanium coating has a much higher melting point than anything the gun can reach – even though it's no protection for the poor little blade of grass. It doesn't stand a chance against the foot-long tongue of heat that licks out from the end of Fujiaya's gun and swallows the grass whole.
There wasn't even enough of the grass to leave a wisp of ash behind, and Kitayama's fingers close around heated air only as he slowly stands up. He doesn't look at Fujigaya as they move forward again, returning to the regular routine of their patrol.
Silently, internally, Kitayama schedules an appointment to have his RAM upgraded as soon as they get off duty.
G, 515w, before Fujigaya goes on his J's Journey to Russia
It’s not the manager.
Fujigaya hasn’t talked to Kitayama on the phone in months, since mails are enough to suffice for whatever everyday information they need to exchange, but the deepness of Kitayama’s voice on the phone is something that’s been ingrained in his memory. It’s probably in his bones now, this ability to recognize his members’ voices anywhere, at any time.
“What the fuck do you want? Do you know what time it is?”
“Sorry,” Kitayama breathes after a pause, and the miracle is that he actually does sound a little sorry. “I just… I wasn’t really sure what time your flight was. I had to leave at ass o’clock when I went to India.”
It’s too early for Fujigaya’s brain to work properly, so he doesn’t even try to figure out what Kitayama’s getting at, doesn’t bother to coat his words with any of the professional amiability they speak to each other with these days. “Look it’s too early so just tell me properly. Why are you awake, and why are you calling me?”
“I just wanted to wish you a good trip,” Kitayama says. He, too, doesn’t bother with any of the walls and curtains that have somehow risen up between them in the past few years. “Sorry for waking you, really. Guess I should’ve double checked with manager first.”
Fujigaya can hear the sincerity in Kitayama’s voice, and it fills his chest with a surge of warmth that he’d never admit to.
Kitayama has been bombarding him with advice for the J’J show recently but Fujigaya’s been brushing him off because their trips are going to be so different, and most of Kitayama’s “advice” just sounds like trolling anyway. Yet right now, in the muted darkness of an early winter’s morning, there are no barriers and no stilted reservations between the two of them for the first time in a long time.
Kitayama wishes him a good journey again, just simple everyday words, but they go straight to Fujigaya’s heart.
“Thanks,” he responds after a moment.
That’s all there is. They hang up quickly so that Fujigaya can get a few more hours of sleep, but he does so with a smile that hovers around his lips until he wakes up, and throughout his flight, all the way until the end of his journey. That's all there is, but it’s everything.
ABC-Z (vague hints of Tottsu/Tsuka and Tottsu/Hasshi)
G, 1358w, Tsukada wants to like Hasshi...
The funny thing is, he doesn’t mind any of the big things. He doesn’t mind Hashimoto being added to their group, is happy to stay late to hammer out adjustments in their choreography and help Hashimoto learn acrobatics, doesn’t even care a whole lot about having their singing parts rearranged to fit Hashimoto’s admittedly better vocals in.
What bothers him are the little details, the barely perceptible changes in daily life that are so difficult to adjust to. It’s hard to remember that he has 2 feet less room to stretch in thanks to Balcan3000’s new post at the end of the sofa, harder to remember to bring back an extra drink from the vending machine, impossible to figure out which bento should be whose at lunch because suddenly there’s a fifth mouth to account for.
It irritates him, too, that it feels like none of the others are having such a hard time as he is adjusting. Oh sure, Goseki’s a little impatient with Hashimoto for not picking up the dances quickly enough, and Kawai escapes to Kisumai’s dressing room just a little bit more often than before, but at the end of the day they’re still happy and laughing and at peace with themselves and with Hashimoto. And Totsuka, especially Totsuka, seems to really love having Hashimoto in the group. Hashimoto spends all his breaks cuddling up to Totsuka as though the older were a body pillow, and Totsuka just lets him with an indulgent smile and a pat on the head.
Tsukada finds this unbelievable. Because he himself, on the other hand, keeps snapping at Hashimoto even when he doesn’t mean to, surprising himself and everyone who knows him with the sharp words that fall from his tongue. The one time Hashimoto had tried to snuggle up to him, he'd snatched his arm violently away before his brain had caught up with his reflexes.
He wants to get along with Hashimoto; it bothers him that it's his fault they don't get along.
His sister suggests that it’s jealousy fueling all this unwanted antagonism towards Hashimoto. Tsukada scoffs and waves a dismissive hand in her face. What does she know, she’s younger than him.
And yet the suggestion stays with him, a nagging little voice at the back of his head that speaks up from that point on whenever he looks at Hashimoto. He tries to find the source of his irritation, paying attention to details throughout the day, taking notes on who what when where and why each time he feels the uncontrollable surge of irritation towards Hashimoto.
Tsukada has always been good at sharing, and yet when Hashimoto arrives early one morning and finds Tsukada curled up around his guitar, he’s loathe to let the younger boy take the instrument out of his hands. He just blinks up at him, fingers splayed out protectively against the soundboard.
“But I just wanna hold it,” Hashimoto pouts, one finger tracing the jut of the tuning pegs lightly like he really wants to touch but is afraid to. “Tottsu taught me some chords the other day, let me see if I still remember them! C’mon, I won’t break it.”
The sheer amount of reluctance Tsukada feels is a reminder that he’d promised himself to work harder at being welcoming towards Hashimoto. So he carefully uncurls his fingers from the fretboard and let’s Hashimoto take the instrument out of his hands, biting back a warning about being careful that wants to be voiced. Hashimoto isn't a child anymore, even if he is quite a bit younger than the rest of them, and now that he's in the same group Tsukada needs to treat him like an equal.
The first few chords Hashimoto tries for are messy and discordant, and it makes Hashimoto's face scrunch up in such a cute way that it tugs a smile out of Tsukada. He let's out a huff of amusement and leans over to reposition Hashimoto's fingers and adjust his elbow so that he's not holding the guitar in such an awkward position. The next couple of chords are way better, Hashimoto's long fingers easily reaching all the right frets now that he's holding the guitar properly, and the smile he sends Tsukada is brilliant.
It's the chords that come after that are the problem. The rhythm is off since Hashimoto is more focused on finding the right chords than anything else, but Tsukada recognizes the progression of the melody anyway and the realization makes him jump up so quickly his knee knocks into Hashimoto's arm and makes the guitar slip from his hands. Instinct kicks in and he grabs the instrument before it tumbles to the ground, but Tsukada isn't so worried about a broken guitar string all of a sudden.
Hashimoto was playing the song that he had been working on with Totsuka recently. It was supposed to be their song.
And with the rush of anger that has him curling his fingers into fists, he realizes that maybe his sister was right and it is jealousy pure and simple.
Tsukada discovers that he doesn't like to share his friends. It's pretty dumb, because the whole point of friends is to all get together and go out and have fun. But Tsukada's never really been known for his brains.
He glowers at Hashimoto from under an ice pack Goseki has pressed to his forehead, and maybe glowers at Totsuka a little too for the way he's hovering like a mother hen over Hashimoto's split lip. Hashimoto makes a little whining sound and presses into Totsuka's side more, and Tsukada feels the urge to stomp his feet and yell "my friend! my friend!" like a child.
Kawai traipses in with Fujigaya and Miyata, who shake their heads and purse their lips at him, and Tsukada really does let out a strangled sound of frustration this time because why are those two turning on him too?! Goseki chooses this moment to increase the pressure on the ice pack, forcing his head backwards, so he turns his glare towards the older man since it's so convenient.
"Grow up," is all Goseki says to him, expression bland but eyes piercing.
Behind Goseki's back, Hashimoto sticks his tongue out at Tsukada. It makes Tsukada's blood boil again.
But before he can react, Totsuka's doing the same thing Goseki did, jabbing Hashimoto in the forehead hard with his index finger so that his head snaps back. "You," Totsuka scolds, "behave. We've all been lenient towards you since you're younger and haven't spent years working together with us, but if you want things to work out you're going to have to behave."
Totsuka buys Tsukada a new guitar string.
Tsukada is surprised when Totsuka gives it to him quietly before practice a few days later. Things had been... not awkward, but not quite usual either lately, something foreign and uncomfortable wedged in the air between them. Tsukada recognizes the guitar string for the peace offering it is, taking it from Totsuka's outstretched hand (after a moment of staring) without any of the protests that would've been the polite thing to do.
"Let's write an even better song with this," Totsuka proposes.
Tsukada feels one corner of his lips tugging up, and then the other, and let's the smile spread slowly across his face before he nods. He has a peace offering of his own too: "Do you think Hasshi will want to sing it for us when we record the demo?"
Just then Hashimoto rushes in amidst a whirl of apologies for being late again and anecdotes about his morning train ride. "Wait, did I hear my name?" he asks abruptly, interrupting himself in the middle of his own sentence.
It's silly and dumb and honestly kind of endearing. Tsukada glances sideways at Totsuka, who nudges him in the side.
"I was just wondering," says Tsukada slowly, "if you wanted me to teach you how to restring a guitar?"
Note(s): ... URGH I DON'T KNOW EBI IS HARD TO WRITE /)_(\