"Come home with me?" Sakurai asks, and it's the first word either of them have spoken since they left Matsumoto-sachou's office, the whole way down in the elevator. "Stay over."
"Okay," Tsukioka agrees simply. His quiet is strange, and Sakurai finds it unpleasant in about as much measure as he feels like he deserves it.
The whole train ride to Sakurai's house is like that, and even the house is quiet when they arrive, his father staying late at the office and his mother away at his sister's to help get her apartment ready for the baby.
"I'm sorry," Sakurai finally says when he can't take it anymore. Tsukioka looks up from where he's sitting on Sakurai's bed, puzzled.
"This…it…all of it," Sakurai tries to explain and can't, everything in confusion.
Tsukioka clicks his tongue, like Sakurai just can't be helped sometimes. "Don't apologize, moron, we're getting a new unit."
"A fake unit!" Sakurai shouts without meaning to and immediately feels guilty about that too. "The only reason you got dragged into this was because of me. You know it's a punishment, and I deserve it. But you don't, and I just keep doing it to—"
"God, will you shut up already?" Tsukioka snaps, exasperated. He points to the space beside him and Sakurai sits down meekly. "Look, work is work. Who cares if it's a fake unit or if it's only six weeks?"
"You do," Sakurai says bluntly, and Tsukioka squirms because it's true. "You'll get all attached no matter who they are, even if it's six days. So I'm sorry."
"I don't care at all!" Tsukioka blusters, and Sakurai has to suppress a chuckle as always when Tsukioka puts on his Brave Complete the Mission face. It softens right away, though, Tsukioka offering Sakurai a hopeful smile. "At least the next six weeks, I get to be with you again. And who knows what'll happen after that," Tsukioka shrugs, "so I'm gonna enjoy it while I can. Yuuichi, I miss you."
"Stupid," Sakurai lets Tsukioka hug him tightly, rests his chin on top of Tsukioka's hair and when he breathes in he can tell that Tsukioka is for sure breaking the six-weeks rule about bleaching, "I'm right here."
"You know what I mean," Tsukioka murmurs, voice muffled against Sakurai's shirt.
Weeks later (has it really been weeks? Time is blurry when Sakurai's only sleeping a couple hours a night), Goto makes Rin promise not to make anybody in their unit cry, and Sakurai tries not to wince too obviously. He was a lot more comfortable with Rin being a jerk, being a constant reminder that this whole thing is at best a brilliant marketing ploy and at worst a mockery of their whole careers. He was a lot more comfortable when Goto wasn't acting anything like a leader.
"Hey," Sakurai says, coming into their room and pulling the door shut behind him gently. "Okay?"
Tsukioka is sprawled on his back, taking up their entire bed, staring at the ceiling. "Yeah," he sighs.
"What happened to not getting attached?" Sakurai asks. He sits on the edge of the bed; Tsukioka drags his eyes down from the ceiling long enough to glare briefly and doesn't move over to give Sakurai any more room.
Sakurai reaches over and pushes at Tsukioka's side until he rolls over onto his stomach, then rubs slow, warm circles on Tsukioka's back. The silence between them is heavy but not awkward, both of them knowing everything the other has to say, what they ought to be saying to each other but won't.
"I like them too," Sakurai finally says.
Tsukioka heaves a sigh, making Sakurai's hand rise and fall. "We ought to stop that, huh."
They don't stop it at all, in fact; in another couple weeks Tsukioka is calling Goto Leader and Sakurai is calling Adachi Reiki, and everybody is calling Rin Tat-chan. Then suddenly Goto and Adachi are dragging Tsukioka out from behind a costume rack, Rin's expression murderous enough to peel the blocking tape off the stage, and Sakurai could never thank them properly if he had another six weeks, or even twelve or fifty-two. They never do find Tsukioka's hat.
It's a long night, that night, it feels longer than a whole Summer Concert series, and in the morning when they find out they're trainees again, Sakurai feels like he'll never need sleep ever again.
"You're such a headcase," Tsukioka accuses, giggling at everything from over-exhaustion. "We get a new unit and you're depressed, we get demoted to trainees and you're happy!"
"Like you aren't," Sakurai retorts, poking Tsukioka in the cheek. Tsukioka only laughs harder, squeezing Sakurai in a quick, fierce hug before running off to climb into Leader's lap, if he can kick Adachi off of it long enough, or maybe to pick a fight with Rin. Now that they're stuck together for the foreseeable future, Rin still isn't allowed to make him cry, leaving Rin basically unarmed.
That winter is one of the coldest winters Sakurai can remember, or maybe it just seems that way given the temperamental heating in the apartment. Sakurai can't say he minds it though, honestly, Goto badgering him to make curry all the time, Adachi wearing his prop sweater coat so much it becomes a fanfiction cliché, Tsukioka keeping his bed warm despite the drafty window (and Rin as well, the one night the heat goes out completely, but when dawn comes they're sworn to secrecy on pain of death).
"Isn't the honeymoon period over yet?" Fujiyama demands when they're at the izakaya and Sakurai has been rambling about his unit for a solid forty-five minutes. Sakurai has the decency to blush a little, or maybe that's just the beer.
"Can't I join your unit, please?" Shota whines, pouting cutely.
"Idiot, how can they be 5*STAR with six people?"
"I'll be the S! 5*STARS!" Shota decides, and when Fujiyama reminds he'd be another A, obviously, Shota says he's perfectly willing to be the asterisk if that's what it takes. "You guys have way more fun together than I've had with anybody in ages."
"Hey!" Fujiyama says, sharply, because he may be a skater now, but nobody talks trash about MAGYk to his face like that.
Sakurai's phone rings while they're bickering, and it turns out to be Tsukioka wanting to know if he plans to stay out forever or what. Not so much longer, he promises, and he'll tell Fujiyama and Shota hi for him as well.
"Tcht, so clingy," Fujiyama sighs, "you'd think he'd have grown out of that by now." Sakurai just shrugs and says he doesn't mind; it's him who keeps proving to Tsukioka over and over that units aren't forever.
When he does get home finally, Tsukioka is already tucked into bed, but he rolls over at the sound of the door opening.
"Sorry," Sakurai apologizes for his lateness, for the cold rain dripping off his hair and the way smoke is clinging to all his clothes. Tsukioka just shakes his head, still half-asleep.
"Glad you're home safe," he says. "Come sleep already."
"In a minute," Sakurai promises. "Go back to sleep."
He strips off his damp clothes and reaches for his towel to dry off his hair, then rolls his eyes a little when it's damp to the touch already. Tsukioka must've taken his without thinking about, so Sakurai takes his instead.
He goes to the kitchen to drink a glass of water, smiling faintly at the low murmur of Goto and Adachi's voices coming through their door, Adachi calling somebody on the internet names and Goto laughing at him. Sakurai detours through the living room on his way back and isn't surprised to find Rin passed out on the couch, in an uncomfortable curl and his laptop teetering precariously on the edge beside him. He stirs when Sakurai reaches down to save the laptop, asking what time it is and promising to go bed properly, not to just roll over and stay there. Sakurai waits until Rin is sitting up, rubbing at his eyes, before going on his way.
The Koreans have it right, he can't help but think, the way they all live together. It seems strange to them (Why Not? would all be dead if they tried it), but it's in these quiet, still hours when Sakurai feels closest to the members. For him, member-ai is in their small comings and goings, in knowing that they're all home and safe, knowing who can't sleep at three in the morning and what their sleeping faces look like when he goes to wake them up. Maybe that's why Pantheon likes them so much, because they understand, because Daewoong can shrug a shoulder towards Jeongsook and mime the poof of morning hair and send Tsukioka into fits of giggles.
Jeongsook's bedhead has nothing on Tsukioka's, that's for sure.
When he finally does crawl into bed, Tsukioka is well and truly asleep, but he rolls towards Sakurai's warmth, his next breath a little sigh of contentment. Sakurai scrunches his hair a little, sighing himself at the roughness of it and swearing to have another talk with him about the six-week rule and make him promise this time. Then he laughs, because Tsukioka never changes.
"What happened to not getting attached?" he asks, asking himself mostly. In the quiet of the room he can hear Goto telling Adachi to just go to sleep already through one wall, the noise of Rin collapsing onto his bed through the other.
The Koreans definitely have it right, he thinks as he lets his eyes slip shut, able to sleep easily with all of his unit within easy reach.