“I shall get undressed,” Hikaru declares with a grin as he stands up, presumably to start removing his pants.
“No,” Yamada exclaims. He grabs his bandmate’s shoulder and tries to push him back into his seat. “We don’t need you to be naked.”
“I’m just trying to cheer up Keito,” he answers, blinking his eyes to look more innocent, but they know better than that.
Yamada smacks the back of Hikaru’s head.
“It didn’t cheer me up,” Keito says, looking quietly exasperated. It’s been a solid 27 minutes since he’d accidentally gotten horribly tangled up in some ribbon and string monstrosity in the company costume room. Yamada and Hikaru had yet to free him, and his left foot fell asleep a few minutes ago.
Hikaru leans back to survey the scene again, scratching his chin like he’s a college science professor assessing a difficult formula.
“It might just be easier to cut Keito out of there,” Hikaru suggests. “In that case, I’d definitely give you my pants.”
“No,” Yamada repeats in frustration.
“Walking around the building without pants on isn’t the most embarrassing thing I’ve done in my career,” Hikaru mutters to himself, which makes Yamada roll his eyes in response.
Keito merely sighs as the two of them begin to argue instead of untangling him. He still regrets not paying enough attention before he’d tripped and landed in the mess of sparkly fabric. In his panic to get untangled, he’d only managed to make the situation worse and now the ribbons were wrapped so tightly around him that he couldn’t move much more than his head. He looked sort of like someone had strung him up the most glittery Maypole they could find.
He politely clears his throat to remind them that he’s still there.
Yamada turns back to look at Keito once more, only this time the expression on his face is reminiscent of a painter trying to fix a mistake on his canvas.
“Let me try,” he says right before shoving his hands deep into the sequined cocoon of fabric. He tugs and pulls and twists around trying to break Keito free amidst Hikaru’s complaints of “you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong” until Hikaru finally joins in too, pulling at bits of fabric from the opposite direction.
Keito feels kind of like he’s a Christmas present no one knows how to unwrap.
“I think we may have problem,” Hikaru says after a few minutes.
“You think?” Yamada spits out in sarcastic response.
Now all three of them are tangled up and unable to move. Keito just sighs again.
The door to the costume room opens and Daiki’s head pops in. “Oh there you guys are,” he grins. “I’ve been wondering where you went. What are you doing?” He walks closer to get a better look at the three of them.
“We’re modeling the latest fashions of Paris and Milan, can’t you tell?” Hikaru deadpans, looking annoyed. It had been all fun and games to him until he’d gotten trapped too.
“Just help us get untangled,” Yamada says. “Poor Keito has been stuck like this for over half an hour now.” He tilts his head towards Keito in the middle as if Daiki could miss him.
“Well how long have you two—”
“That’s not important,” Yamada cuts off the question. Keito notices he’s looking a little red-faced, but he’s not sure whether that’s from embarrassment or just the sparkly ribbon wrapped tightly around his forehead.
Daiki squats down low, observing the situation from a different angle. He scratches his chin while he contemplates what to do, ignoring Hikaru’s complaint of “you’re doing it wrong” before he’d really even done anything.
Keito is not shocked when, five minutes later, Daiki has somehow managed to get himself tangled up in the mess as well. Daiki’s probably the most fortunate of them all, however, because he’s tangled up but also sitting on the floor, so at least he gets to rest his feet. Of course, Daiki’s sitting position also means he only has a great view of Hikaru’s knees, so in the end, Keito guesses the suffering all evens out.
“How much fabric is this? Where does it even keep coming from?” Yamada complains as he tries in vain to wiggle his shoulders free.
“Maybe it’s magic fabric that keeps expanding,” Daiki suggests right as Inoo and Yabu walk into the room.
“What’s magic?” Inoo asks excitedly looking around. “Are you guys practicing a magic trick and no one told me? This is weird-looking magic trick.” He looks them up and down. “You kinda look like a nightmare I once had where an evil clown vomited up a bunch of fabric and then everything turned into snakes.”
“What the hell kind of dream is that?” Hikaru mutters quietly.
Yabu just surveys the scene in front of him without a word, looking unfazed and unsurprised, like he’d probably seen this before at some point in his long career with Johnnys. With a sigh, he pushes up his sleeves.
“Let’s get them untangled,” he says to Inoo.
And for a brief few minutes, Keito is hopeful that they’ll actually get free of the fabric. Yabu is careful and precise as he untwists pieces of fabric and directs Inoo on which pieces he needs to tug on as well. Keito even regains the feeling in his left foot again. Even Hikaru refrains from muttering “you’re doing it wrong” this time.
And then unexpectedly Yabu sneezes loudly right in the direction of Inoo who immediately recoils to protect himself from the germs. There’s a few seconds of general confusion where Daiki tries to offer Yabu a tissue despite not being able to reach his pockets, Inoo shouts that there may be boogers in his hair (there aren’t actually, but only Keito can see that from his position), and Yamada calls them all idiots.
“Well this didn’t go exactly as planned,” Inoo says quietly once he realizes both he and Yabu got tangled up too.
Somehow they’re all more tightly wound than before with Daiki’s face pressed up against Hikaru’s knee, Inoo has his arms locked around Yabu’s waist, Yabu has a mouthful of fabric preventing him from speaking, and Keito suddenly has a fantastic view of Yamada’s eyebrows.
Those eyebrows are, of course, furrowed with annoyance.
“Did you guys abandon dance practice to do something kinky without us?” Yuto’s voice echoes as he walks into the room followed by Takaki.
“I’m not really into bondage,” Takaki says, turning back around to leave again. “I think I’ll just come back later.”
“No!” the rest of them call out before their potential help runs away. (Yabu’s shout of “no” is more like an incomprehensible grunt muffled by the fabric in and around his mouth)
“We got tangled up in this stupid fabric and ribbon mess,” Hikaru explains, “and we need someone to get us out. For the love of all things good please get us out.”
Takaki and Yuto look at each other, and then at the tangled mess of fabric and people, and then both shrug. Yuto pulls out his cell phone to take a few pictures.
“It’s kind of funny-looking though,” Yuto says.
“It was only funny an hour ago when Keito was the only one trapped and Hikaru was offering to not wear pants,” Yamada says and then adds quietly, “and even that wasn’t really funny.”
“Wait, why isn’t Hikaru wearing pants?” Inoo asks.
“I am wearing pants!” Hikaru answers back grumpily.
“Can confirm,” Daiki says. Half of his face was still pressed up against Hikaru’s knee.
Keito sighs for what feels like the hundredth time that day.
Yuto and Takaki finally join in on the fray of fabric, but they make about as much progress as the previous attempts. Yabu tries to talk them through it but no one can understand the muffled words coming out of his mouth.
To no one’s surprise, they end up trapped in the monstrous fabric cocoon as well. Yuto somehow has Hikaru in a headlock, and Takaki is back to back with Keito. Considering that Keito was getting really tired of standing up, he did appreciate having someone to lean against, even if it was only slightly.
“This is like some Final Destination shit,” Takaki complains now that he’s trapped with the rest of them. “This is how we die.”
“This is preferable to a lot of other horror movie deaths though,” Daiki says.
“Nobody is going to die here,” Yamada interrupts, but even he sounds too tired to argue the point. “Chinen will rescue us… eventually. Probably.” His voice trails off as he gets more and more unsure. “…I hope he notices we’re gone.”
“Let’s be real,” Inoo says, “he’s probably taking a nap.”
At this point, Keito has been tangled up so long, he’s beginning to think even Chinen wouldn’t be able to rescue them, though Yuto’s offhanded comment that Chinen would probably be able to chew his way out because, well, he’s Chinen was starting to seem less farfetched than before. Or perhaps Keito is just starting to feel woozy from the lack of oxygen reaching his brain because of all the ribbons constricting his ribcage.
Despite their doubts, Chinen does finally show up about ten minutes later right in the middle of Daiki trying to convince everyone that singing a round of row, row, row your boat would lift their spirits.
Chinen stares at them, arms crossed like he’s unimpressed that they haven’t already escaped.
“Help us, Chinen Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope,” Yuto pleads, to which the group (minus Yabu) collectively tells Yuto that now isn’t the time for Star Wars jokes.
“Why can’t we have one normal day at work without some sort of crisis?” Chinen asks which makes Keito feel slightly guilty because he’s the one who got tangled in the first place.
Chinen pulls a small pair of scissors out of his pocket and immediately starts snipping away at the glittery monstrosity trapping them all together. He ignores Yamada’s protests about ruining the fabric, Hikaru’s usual utterance of “you’re doing it wrong,” and Inoo’s questions about why he is carrying a pair of scissors around anyway.
“Thank goodness,” Takaki says as he stumbles free, shaking his arms to loosen them up again, while Daiki shouts “FREEEEEEDOMMMM” as he ecstatically rolls across the floor away from the rest of the group, crashing into a clothes rack in the process.
“Everything tastes like glitter,” Yabu says as he finally is able to get the sparkly fabric out of his mouth.
“Thanks for saving us,” Keito says to Chinen as they all finally emerge from the web of fabric that they’d been trapped in for too long. It feels pretty nice to be able to move freely again.
Chinen just grins as he pats Keito’s shoulder. “You can all reward your hero,” he gestures to himself, “by buying me dinner later. Something fancy.”
Keito merely sighs once more, and then is surprised by Hikaru poking his arm.
“Thanks,” Hikaru says.
“What for?” Keito asks in confusion. Chinen had been the one to rescue them in the end.
Hikaru just laughs, in a much better mood now that he was free. “That was a fun bonding exercise for the whole group. We should do it more often!”
“No!” Yamada says in a grumpy tone as he walks by. He had just stuffed all the glittery fabric fragments into a nearby closet in the hopes no one would notice its destruction. “That was worse than that ‘bonding exercise’ when we got trapped in that tiny broom closet last week.”
Keito scratches his head in confusion, and just replies with “okaaay?” to Hikaru before he leaves with the rest of the group to head back to dance practice. Keito walks slowly behind them, watching his step to make sure he doesn’t trip and fall into another pile of sparkly ribbons.
There are only so many “bonding exercises” he can do per day.