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New Year, New Love?

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“You made it!” Yokoyama Yuu smiles at Sakurai Sho as four out of the five members of Arashi finally make their way to the venue for Johnny's Countdown 2016-17, having rushed through traffic in order to reach it before the show finishes. “I was beginning to think you'd be stuck at the Kouhaku all night.”

“Are you kidding me? I just wanted to get away from there.” Sho pouts like a stroppy teenager who's just been told he can't go out for the night. “I can't believe our team lost! The public wanted us to win, but those damned judges...”

“I guess you're not used to coming second place, huh?” Yuu smirks, walking alongside Sho through the corridors of the backstage area. “Y'know, I think a little humility could suit you now and again...”

“Like you'd know about that, Yokoyama,” the younger man huffs, pushing open the door to Arashi's dressing room with more force than needed. “You're as proud and stubborn as they come.”

“At least I know how to keep laughing, even when I lose." Yuu follows Sho into the dressing room along with his band-mates, continuing to speak to him as he sits down at a make-up counter. After all, it's not unusual for a member of Kanjani8 to be in the dressing room of a different band; to be honest, everyone is just glad that it's not Maru. Once Sho has taken his seat a flock of staff waste no time in gathering round the idols and swapping over their outfits - since Aiba hasn't been able to make it they're doing a quick change into jackets with his face printed on the back, and the ingenuity of this causes Yuu to smile again. "Wait a minute, didn't you lose out on being first place as Japan's most popular man this year, too...?"

"Shut up," Sho growls in response, earning himself a concerned look from Matsumoto Jun. "Look, I accept that we lost, okay? I just don't like the way that it happened."

"Well I think we did really well, and Masaki proved that he's as good a presenter as any of us," Satoshi Ohno pipes up, sensing Sho's dark mood. "Doesn't that count as a win?"

"I'd have to agree with your Leader here." Yuu takes up a position leaning against the counter where Sho is sitting. "It's not only about the numbers."

"I'd say it doesn't count for anything," Sho comments drily. "All that matters is we'll be remembered as the team who lost."

"Don't know about you, Kazunari, but I've had enough of 2016's negativity." Ohno stands up from his chair. "You coming?"

"Yeah, why not. Had enough of make-up chairs for today."

Ninomiya Kazunari joins Ohno in getting to his feet and heading for the door, and Jun also see this as a convenient excuse to leave a sullen Sho alone with Yuu and the backstage assistants. Satisfied that they have done their job, however, Sho ushers the staff out too, leaving him on his own in the room with Yuu.

“It just doesn't seem fair to me.” There's a sulky expression on Sho's face and he sighs, turning back to look at Yuu, glad to still have someone to complain at about what happened. “Everyone else is able to celebrate on New Year's Eve, but not us. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being an entertainer, but sometimes I wish we could take a night off and do what normal people do..."

"You did a good job tonight, Sakurai-san." Yuu attempts to further soothe Sho with his kind words, his voice calm and reassuring. "It will mean a lot to the viewers that they got to watch you like that."

“Sure, while they were watching it at home. Watching it with their partners and families. Spending time tonight with the people they love...”

“And what makes you think I'm not?”

“Huh...?”

“For someone with a degree, Sakurai Sho, you can be a complete idiot sometimes.” Yuu laughs softly and steps closer, suddenly leaning in to plant a daring kiss on Sho's mouth. “Happy New Year, Sho-kun. For what it's worth, you're still my Number One man in Japan."