“That’s enough!” Hikaru squawks as Daiki hits the replay button gleefully, seemingly glad to be getting some tiny bit of revenge for all the times that Hikaru has teamed up with Inoo to prank him. It seems unfair that Daiki has chosen to side with Inoo against him now, but he’s far too distracted by the video coming from Daiki’s phone to put significant thought into it. After all, Daiki has somehow found a recording online of some morning show from earlier in the week announcing the newest information and sneak previews of Fantastic Time… but also including Chihara Junior talking about his obsession for Inoo, something that, as ridiculous as it may be, sort-of maybe makes Hikaru want to punch a wall. Because Inoo is his, and no stupid comedian is allowed to even entertain the fantasy of taking him away from Hikaru… or something.
And sure, Hikaru’s jealousy and possessiveness are mostly an act by now, a part of his and Inoo’s usual rapport that he knows Inoo enjoys because, of course, in truth, Hikaru trusts Inoo unwaveringly and (he hopes) Inoo knows it, but as someone who’s jealous by nature and has been since long before he and Inoo first became an item (hell, he was green with envy over Matsumoto Kohei when Kohei was the one dating Inoo and Hikaru didn’t have any right to be jealous), sometimes, the real deal sneaks back into his heart. And recently, with Inoo’s boom in popularity and the correlating recognition by more and more comedians and actors and other people of repute, it’s been happening embarrassingly often, especially considering that a great number of comedians seem to be drawn to Inoo’s charms in a way that sits with Hikaru all wrong.
And so, as Daiki and Inoo continue to laugh at the video, more and more with each replay, with each time Chihara Junior says, “I could watch him forever!” Hikaru gets more and more red in the face until, “Ugh!!!” he bursts, “Screw you guys!” as he turns to walk towards the door. He knows he’ll be embarrassed in a few moments over his totally immature response, but, well, Daiki and Inoo aren’t being mature either, and if they’re just going to tease him endlessly, then he’s not going to stick around!
But, “Wait,” he hears from behind him, and then a hand gently on his shoulder, and when he turns around instinctively towards the words directed at him, he’s suddenly met with Inoo’s lips against his own in a clumsy but genuine kiss.
“You know you’re the one I want to watch me forever,” Inoo soothes when they break apart, looking at him with those sleepy eyes through those long lashes, and when he reaches out to brush the backs of his long, slender fingers gently across Hikaru’s cheek, continuing, “Don’t be mad, come on,” Hikaru can’t help but wonder how Inoo has the power to make his jealousy melt away in an instant.
“Come on!” Hikaru shouts at Chinen’s perfectly done-up face, despite the fact that he knows Chinen can’t hear him from the other side of the TV. But Chinen ought to know better than to go on national TV saying things like “I love Inoo so much, I want him all to myself,” and bragging about his private photo and video collection of Inoo…! It’s bad enough knowing that this isn’t even recent, but happened weeks ago when Chinen was in the studio to film this week’s episode of Meringue no Kimochi, because what business did Chinen have claiming Inoo as his own behind Hikaru’s back! But somehow, it made it all the worse to know that he couldn’t even really call Chinen out about it now, because if it was something that had just happened, he could have at least pretended to be joking about it, or something, but now, it will just make him seem like a possessive asshole.
And sure, Hikaru knows that Chinen doesn’t actually have any designs on Inoo’s heart, Hikaru is pretty darn positive that Chinen isn’t cheating on Yamada in order to have an affair with Inoo behind Hikaru’s back, but that doesn’t mean his words don’t spark hot feelings of jealousy in Hikaru’s chest that make him feel aggravated and bitter towards Chinen. Chinen is a little brat who doesn’t seem to feel jealousy or anything of the sort, and Hikaru has never been particularly good at voicing his feelings, so he isn’t even sure that Chinen would understand if he tries to explain just what Chinen’s stories did to Hikaru’s heart, but regardless, it would be pretty stupid to bring it up, since Chinen has his own boyfriend to whom Hikaru knows he’s perfectly devoted. It’s a fact that makes him feel like an idiot for being jealous, but that, in turn, just makes the jealousy feel that much worse, tinged with frustration and anxiety.
And so, as Hikaru sits by Inoo’s side in front of the TV in their little shared apartment, he can’t help but grumble to himself under his breath each time Chinen talks about Inoo in that way, as if Chinen was Inoo’s boyfriend, or something, crossing his arms and shifting around agitatedly on the sofa. He can tell Inoo is looking at him out of the corner of his eye, but he tries to ignore it, because Hikaru isn’t good with interpersonal relations, and ignoring issues has always been his default way to deal with things. He’s hoping they can just get through the show without event and then maybe they’ll go out and grab something to eat together, or else Hikaru will cook and they can have lunch cuddled up on the couch beside one another before Inoo has to go to his evening magazine shoot and Hikaru will forget all about Chinen’s stupid comments. But just when he thinks he’s in the clear, Chinen makes one final comment after Hikaru has let his guard down, and he can’t bite back the, “Who does he think he is?!” that slips out of his mouth at full volume.
But once it’s out of his mouth, he can’t take it back, and so all he can do is stare intently at the TV, hoping to avoid having to taking responsibility for his words even as he can feel Inoo’s gaze shift to fix on him. There’s a long moment of silence during which Hikaru can’t hear the TV over his own internal praying that he’s in the clear, but then his heart falls when Inoo slowly replies, “I would presume he thinks he’s my friend, since that is, indeed, the state of affairs between us.”
“I know that—” Hikaru splutters, but before he can manage any sort of excuse for himself, suddenly, Inoo is reaching out to run a hand through Hikaru’s hair gently as he meets Hikaru’s eyes with a warm gaze. “I know you do,” he responds quietly, his hand falling down to rest atop Hikaru’s on the sofa, Inoo’s fingers curling around Hikaru’s softly but firmly, “So why don’t you let me help you calm down?” And as Inoo leans to rest his head on Hikaru’s shoulder, enveloping Hikaru in the pleasant scent of laundry detergent and women’s shampoo, Hikaru can’t help but think that Inoo is the best with words and feelings out of them all.
“Calm down?!” Hikaru bursts in an uncharacteristically overt show of emotion, “How can you expect me to calm down at a time like this?!” Because despite the fact that, even when he’s upset, he usually finds himself falling back on being sarcastic and passive-aggressive, right now, it’s one in the morning and he’s more than a little drunk and he can’t handle the fact that just moments ago, he’d walked into the VIP room at a little upscale izakaya frequented by a variety of Johnny’s groups and found what looked a lot like Inoo and Okada Junichi in a very compromising situation. He and Inoo had been out for drinks when Inoo had gotten a text and flitted away with promises that a senpai wanted to talk to him upstairs but he’d be right back— it was only when Inoo didn’t come back for a good fifteen minutes that Hikaru had gotten too agitated to deal with his feelings or make good decisions while drunk, and had gotten up the nerve to go find Inoo himself. He’d been expecting that Inoo, also drunk, after all, had been dragged into some long-winded conversation with the V6 members (who, Hikaru thought ruefully, all liked Inoo a little too much for his comfort), but what he’d found instead when he opened the door was Inoo standing in the doorway with Okada pressed against him, Okada’s arms around Inoo’s waist, Okada’s mouth against Inoo’s.
And sure, Hikaru knows that Inoo would never cheat on him. They’ve been together for more than five years now without any thoughts of stopping, and they’ve been through their fair share of issues and overcome each of them. They love one another enough that a few months ago, Hikaru had gone out and bought a ring that Inoo now wore without fail on his left hand, and that, Hikaru knows, is what matters. But now, in the middle of the night, mind muddled by alcohol and emotions, Hikaru can’t think rationally through any of that, and so, seniority be damned, he’d marched into the room and brushed away the other V6 members who had already been trying to mitigate the situation and grabbed Inoo by the arm, yanking him away from Okada and down the stairs and out into the alleyway before finally losing control over himself completely.
And so, he demands to know what exactly Inoo had been doing behind his back, ignoring Inoo’s requests for him to take a deep breath and calm down despite the fact that, deep in his heart, he knows Inoo is right. But he’s too hurt and angry to care, and so, “I can’t fucking believe you,” and “You’ve been fucking cheating on me,” he yells, accusation after accusation until his voice starts to grow hoarse. It’s only when his voice gives out that suddenly, his anger does too, and the look on Inoo’s face, a heart-wrenching mix of what looks like hurt and sadness, snaps into focus and makes his stomach plummet.
But he doesn’t know how to make amends for himself, and so his mouth falls open, but before he can find words, Inoo quietly replies, “Not that I really owe you an explanation, but if it will put your mind at ease and make you stop yelling, Okada-kun had a little too much to drink and insisted on giving me tips for kiss scenes in movies. You didn’t seem to notice as you shoved them out of the way, but his groupmates were trying to tell him it was inappropriate already. It was pretty much under control until you decided this was proof that I’m an unfaithful slut or something.” His voice wavers when the words come out of his mouth, and while Hikaru has been doing his best to avoid Inoo’s gaze, he can’t help but glance up at him when he hears the sound of his voice. His words are penetrating slowly through the haze of alcohol in Hikaru’s system, but when they finally sink in just as Hikaru meets Inoo’s eyes, sharp and watery and clearly in pain, he feels as if he wants to die on the spot. He tries to form an apology, but horribly, embarrassingly, all that happens is that he breaks down in tears.
“I’m sorry—” he finally chokes out, “I didn’t mean— I didn’t think— I just— I’m sorry, and—” But it’s all nonsensical and jumbled, and he doesn’t know how to express just how much he regrets selfishly letting himself say so many things that he didn’t mean, and while normally, he’d be more than humiliated to be caught crying out on the street in the middle of the night, right now, all he can think is that there’s nothing he can do to make things right. “I don’t know how to prove it… but I’m sorry…!”
But before he can even figure out what he’s trying to say, suddenly, he’s being enveloped in warm arms, his head being cradled against a familiar shoulder, and Hikaru is so shocked that he can barely comprehend the fact that Inoo is embracing him. “I-Ino-chan—?” he chokes out, but “Shhh,” is all Inoo says in response, gently stroking a hand down Hikaru’s back comfortingly. Hikaru doesn’t know how he could possibly fail so hard at boyfriend-ing that he’d managed to accuse Inoo of cheating and somehow end up the one crying with Inoo comforting him, but he supposes that even if he’s no longer losing his cool over Inoo’s middle school boyfriend, he still has a long way to go. And when Inoo speaks again, his voice gentle and forgiving, telling him, “If you’re sorry… then that’s enough,” Hikaru can’t help but think that he’s so, so lucky to have Inoo in his life to (try not to) be jealous over.
Your turn, dusk037!