I don’t believe in fate
No psychic vision
But when things fall into place, superposition
In any universe, you are my dark star
-- Superposition, Young the Giant
Tetsurou Kuroo wakes up to the sound of someone groaning in the bunk above him. Annoyed, he sends a sharp, directed kick upwards and hisses, “What the fuck, dude?”
“I’m dying, asshole,” his bandmate Morisuke Yaku groans groggily. “Think someone poisoned the alcohol last night.”
“What would they want to poison your ugly ass for,” Tetsurou says. “You running a drug business on the side?”
Another thud. Tetsurou assumes it's Morisuke kicking the bed in protest. “Shut up. I feel like I might actually die, shit.”
“You better get it together before tomorrow,” Tetsurou warns.
“I’ll live,” Morisuke says. Pauses. “Somehow.”
Tetsurou falls back into a restless sleep, but it’s not as though sleep comes easy on a cheap tour bus, surrounded by his bandmates and some of their crew members. Their bus has a constant disgusting smell to it: a mixture of body odor and human waste and moldy food. He’s never appreciated his old childhood bedroom back in New York so intensely before.
When he wakes up again, he drags himself out of bed to find Morisuke sprawled out dramatically over the couches. “Dude,” he says.
“Don’t you dare say shit,” Morisuke says. “This is how I’m getting it together.”
“I think he’s photosynthesizing,” their third bandmate Nobuyuki Kai tells him, grinning. “He’s been lying there under the windows, not moving, for like half an hour now. Think he’s under the impression the sun’s gonna help him heal somehow.”
“Well, our show tonight is just gonna be fantastic,” Tetsurou grumbles, grabbing a box of cereal off of the shelf. “Sure everyone’s just gonna be thriving off Mori’s energy.”
“Dickhead,” is Morisuke’s response. “You’re the frontman, y’know. It’s your energy they’re s’posed to be looking out for. You can give them the show and I’ll fuckin’ tap on the drums like I always do.”
“Think he’s getting a little delusional,” Nobuyuki says sagely. “Maybe he really did get targeted by someone at the show last night.”
“Yeah, one of his ex-lovers,” Tetsurou says, which earns him a sock tossed at his head.
“Wasn’t me who hooked up with some girl in a fucking Port-a-Potty last concert,” Morisuke retorts.
“Wasn’t me either. You’ve gotta stop believing every rumor you hear, y’know.”
“You’re full of shit, y’know.”
Tetsurou just smirks, shoving a spoonful of Raisin Bran into his mouth. He nearly chokes on the cardboard-like pieces, but reminds himself that it’d been on special, the cheapest cereal on the shelves. They’re saving money to be able to accomplish their dreams. It’ll all be worth it in the end, he tells himself.
The rest of the drive to Chicago is uneventful. Morisuke pretends he’s dying until they stop for shitty fast food and then suddenly he’s resurrected; Nobuyuki reads one of his weird ass gardening magazines; and Tetsurou whips out his chemistry textbook, like the nerd he’s well aware that is. God, if only his fangirls could see him now. He wonders if he’d lose all of his sexy badass appeal.
When they finally make it to Chicago, Morisuke practically falls to the ground in gratefulness, emphatically saying that the bus itself was going to poison him and his last meal would’ve been fucking McDonald’s. Tetsurou whacks him in the back with his guitar. “We’ve got an hour to practice,” he says, “so get your ass in there.”
Tetsurou’s far past the point of nervousness now, he thinks as he takes the stage for yet another performance. The chants of his name interspersed with Neko, Neko hardly even reach his ears. He loves performing, but it all feels the same to him these days - new city, same people, it seems like. The same old songs all over again. Regardless, there’s nothing to be done about it. He’ll just follow his usual strategy of faking it until he makes it. He smirks his signature smirk that makes all the girls swoon and tries to pack all of his energy into the show. It’s what his fans deserve, after all.
His eyes scan the crowd, flicking from one end to the other. They all blur together - a sea of people turning into one homogenous blob. He has to wonder how it got this way, when in the beginning each new face was a thrill to the heart. Now he hardly recognizes anyone, and there’s never that thrill of excitement anymore.
And then, his eyes catch on one person, standing at the edge of the crowd. His hair is pulled back into a ponytail, with a couple of strands escaping, floating around his face. There’s a tiny smile on his lips, the only indicator that he’s enjoying the concert, because he’s not jumping around and screaming like the other fans. His eyes, big and gold, suddenly land on Tetsurou, and Tetsurou quickly pulls his gaze away. He’s not completely sure why his gaze had been drawn to him, but his heart has started pumping again, far quicker than before.
After the show, after the encore and the chants of the crowd and the dragging himself off of the stage, sweat dripping down his face, only to get a towel hurled at him by Morisuke, Tetsurou decides to do his usual and heads out to the bar for a drink. However, he finds that there’s already someone seated at the bar, sipping away at a rum and coke. A quick glance tells him that it’s the guy he’d seen in the crowd. Tetsurou’s heart picks up again.
“You even old enough to drink?” Tetsurou says, unable to stop himself: as his band members have too often told him, he seems to have a penchant for being a dumbass.
The guy glances up, his eyes hardening into a withering glare. Despite the fact that the guy is half his size, Tetsurou almost shrinks away. “Yes,” he says slowly. “I’m twenty-one, actually.”
Only a year younger than Tetsurou. Tetsurou feels like a bit of an asshole, but can’t bring himself to apologize. Instead, he perches on the stool beside the guy and rattles off his order. Then, turning back to face him, he says, “So what brings you out here tonight?”
The guy just stares at him flatly again. “I’m here to see your band play.”
Shit. Tetsurou’s really trying for the Biggest Dumbass of the Century award, it seems. He fakes a smile and says, “You’re a fan?”
“Obviously,” the guy says, ducking behind his hair as though this admission is somehow embarrassing. “I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t like your music.”
Time for a quick subject change, then. Tetsurou can’t help but wonder where the hell all his smooth conversational skills went. “What’s your name, then?”
“Kenma,” says the guy, and then, after a pause, “Kenma Kozume. And I already know your name, so no need to bother.”
“Of course,” Tetsurou says, giving his biggest charming smile. “Doesn’t everyone?”
Kenma rolls his eyes, but there’s a hint of a smile on his lips - the same tiny smile he’d seen while Kenma had been watching his band. It becomes obvious that he’s not going to reply to that, so Tetsurou changes gears yet again. “So how’d you hear about my band, then?”
“You’ve gotten pretty big in the scenes I’m a part of,” Kenma mumbles. “It’d be impossible not to hear about you.”
“Ah,” Tetsurou says with a nod. “You a musician, then?”
“Yeah,” Kenma says. “I mean, not really, not yet. But I… I’m trying to start up my own band. So maybe soon.”
“Your own band, huh?” Tetsurou puts his chin in his hand and examines Kenma. Smirking, he continues, “Lemme guess. You’re a bassist.”
Kenma gives a gentle shake of his head. “Not exactly,” he says. “I’m not great at instruments. I was thinking more… lead singer, actually.”
“Huh,” Tetsurou says. He takes in Kenma’s appearance again - with some work, he could definitely fit the role of lead singer, appearance-wise, at least. He’s got the somewhat edgy aesthetic down. However, he can’t imagine quiet, mumbling Kenma leading a band, screaming into the mic, charming audiences around the world. Still, for some reason… Tetsurou finds that he can’t quite count Kenma out yet. He’s sure there are people whose stage personas and actual personalities are very much at odds. So he gives Kenma an encouraging, “Well, I bet I’ll be seeing more of you in the future then, huh? But hopefully soon it’ll be me watching you on stage.”
There’s something that flickers across Kenma’s face - something like bright, childlike hope. His tone is as flat as ever as he says, “D’you actually think so?”, but Tetsurou knows that he’s a little more optimistic than before.
“Call me crazy,” Tetsurou says, grinning a stupid grin that shows all his teeth, “but I’d be willing to bet on it.”
Kenma turns away, but before he does, Tetsurou’s sure he sees the hint of a blush on Kenma’s cheeks. Huh, he thinks. He can’t put his finger on why exactly, but he’s certain that there’s something special about Kenma Kozume, and he’s hoping he’ll be able to figure out what.
The rest of the tour flies by in the blink of an eye. Seven more cities, seven more crowds, and yet all of the crowds quickly fade to the back of his mind. He meets girls at the bar, flirts with them shamelessly, hooks up with a few, even offers to let one have ‘a tour of their bus’ - but unfortunately, Morisuke overhears him and drags him outside by his ear.
“Not on our bus,” he hisses. “Go to a fucking love hotel or something, asshole.”
Tetsurou grins. “I was gonna bring her to the city bus,” he says. “Give her a tour of the town.”
“You know that’s not what you were referring to.” Morisuke stares at him stonily. For someone who’s about half Tetsurou’s height, he’s incredibly imposing when he’s angry. “You weren’t like this in high school, so I’m not sure I get exactly what you’re looking for. But there are only 3 more shows. Keep it in your pants until then.”
Tetsurou slumps against the wall as he watches him go, feeling himself exhale slowly. He doesn’t know how to tell Morisuke that he doesn’t know what he’s looking for, either. He also doesn’t know how to say he doesn’t think he’ll find it in the places he’s been searching: in the backs of bars and in dirty bathrooms.
He doesn’t want to say that only one person he’s met on this tour has left an impression on him, and that person is a boy in a dusty Chicago bar with big dreams that might very well never come true.
The tour ends, and Tetsurou finds himself back in his childhood home. There’s always something humbling about curling back up under the light blue sheets and staring at his ceiling, where he’d slathered posters of his favorite bands as motivators, reminders that his dreams were always possible, as long as he believed. All that bullshit they tell you as kids or whatever. He stares up at Billie Jo Armstrong’s expressionless face, as he has for years, and tells him, “I’m doing it too.”
Not that Billie Jo would give a fuck.
And not that he even really knows what he’s doing at this point. He’s playing his songs, performing on stage in front of fans like he’s always wanted to, and yet it’s faded into a sort of monotony - everything becoming a dark, bland shade of gray. Is this what it feels like to achieve your dreams, he wonders?
His dreams that night are restless.
He spends his time at home listlessly playing music, trying to find the notes to create the songs in his mind. But the notes don’t come. The words stay jumbled inside of his head, nothing resembling a cohesive sentence. He manages to write a couple of lines, but nothing groundbreaking. Nothing that will get him remembered.
He calls Morisuke’s home line one night, his head hanging off the side of his bed. “Hey, wanna do me a favor?” he asks.
“No,” Morisuke says flatly.
“It’s important!” Tetsurou complains. “D’you want us to have a new album or what, man?”
“Fine,” Morisuke says. “What’s the fucking favor.”
“Can you break my heart?” Tetsurou says. “That seems to be great inspiration for all the other bands out there.”
“You’re an idiot,” Morisuke replies flatly. He pauses for a second, then says, “Your bedhead doesn’t make you look cool. It looks like you never learned how to use a hairbrush,” and then the line goes dead.
Tetsurou gapes at the beeping phone in his hand before he slams it back onto the receiver. It’s true that his words hurt, but it doesn’t have quite the same amount of impact as an actual heartbreak. Not that Tetsurou’s experienced one, anyways - no, not that he’s ever allowed himself to get close enough to anyone to experience one. He buries his head into his pillow and lets out a frustrated yell.
But then, a memory pokes at the back of his head - a boy with dark hair, peering up at him with those beautiful golden eyes as he talked about his dream of being a lead singer. Tetsurou frowns as his hand starts moving, almost without his conscious awareness, printing words onto the paper. Met him by the bar/said he wants to be a star…. He finishes an entire draft in half an hour, and then, staring at the words in front of him, feels his heart sink in his chest.
He doesn’t know what it means, but he figures that if it helps him write his music, then it’s a good thing… right?
They get sent out on tour again before the new album releases, supposedly as a way to promote their new album. Tetsurou’s thrust back into the world of being admired, of everyone knowing his name, after city after city of the same old faces, the same old routine. He wakes and stares at the bottom of Morisuke’s bed, makes himself another bowl of cereal or fries an egg, plops down in front of the terrible quality, tiny TV, or whips out a book as the bus keeps driving on. When they get to the venue, he pushes himself through soundcheck, through listening to the openers, through their set, orders a drink at the bar, goes to sleep, rinses, and repeats. That is, until his routine is once again interrupted after his Chicago show, by a CD in a shiny red case being pushed into his hands.
Tetsurou looks up to see Kenma Kozume staring down at the ground, the strands of his hair falling into his face. Tetsurou looks down at the CD, and then up at Kenma’s face, feeling a smirk stretch his lips. “Eh, what’s this?”
“Well, I mean, you said you thought I could do it,” Kenma mumbles. “This is my band’s first EP. We aren’t signed or anything, but… I thought you might want to hear it.”
Tetsurou tightens his grip on the CD. A wave of - of something rushes over him, hard and strong. Kenma had remembered their conversation, had kept thinking about it the same way he had. It’s ridiculous to be surprised by it, considering that Kenma had said he was a fan. It's inevitable that he’d feel that way about a conversation with his idol.
“Of course I want to hear it,” Tetsurou says, putting the CD nicely into his jacket pocket and tilting his head back up. “So you managed to organize a band, then?”
“Yeah.” Kenma’s nose scrunches up, which Tetsurou doesn’t see many boys do and somehow finds adorable. “I managed to get three people to join - not exactly my first choices to be in a band with, but they get the job done. So. I guess I have a band now.”
Tetsurou feels his own face splitting into a grin - a genuine grin, not one he’d had to force, which feels strange. “What’s your band name, then?”
Kenma ducks his head, his cheeks reddening. “It’s kind of stupid,” he says.
“Can’t be that stupid,” Tetsurou says. “We chose ours on a whim. Didn’t think it’d catch on, honestly.”
Kenma shakes his head. “Catfight,” he says, after a brief pause. “Our name is Catfight.”
Tetsurou stares at Kenma under the dim bar lights. His hair is pulled back into a ponytail again tonight, exposing the piercings all up and down his ears, and tonight he’s wearing a black jacket with ripped black jeans. He doesn’t look all that intimidating, but the energy he gives off makes him feel almost electric. Kenma Kozume of Catfight, Tetsurou thinks. It seems right, somehow. Tetsurou can’t help thinking he’ll be hearing it a lot in the next few months.
His hands tighten on the CD case. “Okay. I’ll give it a listen, Kenma Kozume.”
Kenma lifts an eyebrow, his eyes flickering. “You remembered my name. I didn’t think you would.”
Tetsurou hums. “I remember all my fans’ names.”
“That’s bullshit,” Kenma says.
Tetsurou laughs. “Yeah, you’re right. Maybe I just got the feeling that you’re something special.”
“Well. Now I’m a little nervous I won’t live up to your expectations.”
“I’m sure you will,” Tetsurou says, and he means it.
That night, he curls up in his bed with his Walkman and pops the CD in. With his headphones in, he curls up as the sound of Kenma’s band overtakes him. It’s rough sounding, as any band’s first EP is, but it’s good . More importantly, he falls in love with Kenma’s voice from the very first note. It’s soft and sweet but strong enough to be powerful and emotional enough to draw a reaction from him and all he can think is this band is gonna make it. Kenma is gonna make it.
There’s a smug sense of satisfaction that dawns on him as he realizes that he’d been right all along.
The next day, when they get to Columbus, Tetsurou makes a beeline for an empty coffee shop and whips out his reliable Nokia. He dials the second number on his speed dial. “Dude.”
“Duuuude,” comes the voice on the other end of the line. “Dude, it’s been forever! Where ya been, man? How’s the tour comin’? Hey, why the fuck haven’t you called me? I thought we were friends !”
“We are,” Tetsurou replies quickly, because he knows how intolerable his friend can become when he gets into one of his godforsaken emo modes. “Best friends, you know that. Tour’s just been busy as fuck, man. I know you know how it is.”
“Yeah, I do!” Koutarou “Bo” Bokuto exclaims, his voice already significantly brighter. “Our tour’s busy as hell too! Ever since our song got kinda popular, a ton more people have been comin’! But I think it kinda makes Keiji nervous.”
“That’s why you’re the frontman, Bo. You gotta take some of the pressure off of him. Make it about you. You’re good at that.”
“I am, aren’t I?!” Koutarou exclaims, having not even registered it as an insult - it’s one of the main reasons that Tetsurou likes Koutarou; conversations with him always prove to be entertaining. “I gotta try harder, then. Get the crowds to love me so they don't even focus on Keiji.”
“Sure it won’t be too hard. Hey, listen, I got a favor to ask you.”
“Oh, s’that why you called? Here I thought you were just callin’ to catch up.”
“No, course that's not the only reason. I was planning to call anyways,” Tetsurou lies. “It’s just good timing. But you’ve got connections with your label, don’t ya?”
“You could say that,” Koutarou says proudly.
“So there’s this guy,” Tetsurou begins. “I saw him at the crowd at my Chicago show last year and he told me he wanted to start a band, be a lead singer. Got good vibes from him even back then. And then last night he showed up at the Chicago show again. But this time, he gave me his band’s first EP, and it’s... “ Tetsurou exhales. “It’s really good. Fucking fantastic. I mean, it’s rough like EPs always are, but his voice, the music… You gotta hear it, dude.”
“Damn.” Koutarou whistles. “That’s high praise comin’ from you. But don’t a lot of randoms give you their mixtapes? What made this guy different?”
Tetsurou leans back in his chair, his eyes unfocused as he thinks. “It’s just a feeling. You ever meet someone and you just kind of know that they’ll be something? I got that feeling with him. And boy, was I ever right.”
“Ha, yeah! I got a feeling kinda like that when I first met Keiji. And, y’know, I was totally fuckin’ right. He’s the best lead singer ever.”
Tetsurou exhales. “Okay. Can I send you this EP, then?”
After some quick calculations, Tetsurou sighs. “Just gotta mail it to your house, I guess,” he says. “Call me when you get it, yeah?”
“I’m expecting big fuckin’ things, I hope you know,” Koutarou says. “Hearin’ the praise of the man Tetsurou Kuroo himself.”
“I promise you,” Tetsurou says confidently, “you won’t be disappointed.”
Koutarou calls him back a couple of days later, right before they’re about to start warming up for their Charlotte show. Morisuke gives him a pointed look, and Tetsurou throws his hands up. “Five minutes. I swear. It’s important.”
“This better not be one of your fuckin’ hookups,” Morisuke says.
“As important as those clearly are,” Tetsurou replies, ending him another patented Morisuke glare, “this is about work. Kind of. Mostly.”
“Fine. You have five minutes.”
“Enjoy your important work call!” Nobuyuki calls cheerily as Tetsurou leaves the room.
“Dude,” Koutarou says as soon as Tetsurou answers. “You were right.”
“I was, wasn’t I?”
“So right. His voice is killer.”
“So you’ll talk to the record execs?”
“Hell yeah I will,” Koutarou says emphatically. “I can be convincing, can’t I?”
“Yeah, definitely. Super convincing.”
“I’ll get ‘em a record contract in no time,” Koutarou says, his voice bright on the other end. “I wanna talk to the dude, though. You got his number?”
“Uh…” Tetsurou says sheepishly. It suddenly dawns on him that it would’ve been a good idea, probably, to ask if Kenma had a cell phone, so that they could stay in contact somehow and he could let Kenma know what he’d thought of his EP. But unfortunately, Tetsurou hadn’t been thinking all that hard. Something about conversing with Kenma had occupied all his brain space. He groans. “No. I don’t.”
“Well, shit,” Koutarou says, sounding significantly more glum.
“You’ve got connections!” Tetsurou says helplessly. “Ask around. See if anyone knows a Kenma Kozume, from Chicago.”
“I do have connections,” Koutarou says thoughtfully. “Okay, sure, I’ll try. He’s from Chicago too, huh? I knew I liked ‘im. Good people come from Chicago, you know.”
“Your entire band, you mean.”
“Yeah,” he says proudly.
“Okay, okay, I gotta go before Morisuke kicks my ass. Let me know if you find him though, yeah? And keep me updated on how the whole record label thing goes.”
“Yeah, ‘course I will. Talk to ya later.”
When he walks back into practice, beaming from ear to ear, Morisuke scowls at him. “You were totally talking to a hookup.”
“I was not,” Tetsurou protests. “I was talking to Bo.”
“Oh, is there a difference?” Nobuyuki says, grinning.
“You’re both just jealous of our strong, manly, platonic bond,” Tetsurou says, rolling his eyes. “Let’s just fucking practice already, Jesus.”
But as they start up rehearsal for the song - the song Tetsurou had kind of, a little bit written about Kenma - Tetsurou finds that his chest feels a little bit lighter for some reason.
“I found him!” Koutarou crows into the phone as soon as Tetsurou answers.
“Okay, okay, calm down, don’t destroy my eardrums,” Tetsurou says, holding the phone away from his ear. “You talked to Kenma?”
“Hell yeah, I did,” Koutarou says, pride evident in his tone. “He’s so quiet, isn’t he? And he talks so softly! I almost can’t believe he’s the same person from the CD! But he was super happy when I told him he’d be getting a record deal - or at least I hope he was. It’s hard to tell.”
“Shit, man,” Tetsurou says, running a hand through his hair as he paces back and forth. He can’t help the little thrill of happiness that swells up in his throat. “You talked to the record label?”
“They didn’t need much convincing,” Koutarou replies. “But what little they did, I fought like hell for! Kenma’s band is gonna meet with them next Thursday.”
“Damn,” Tetsurou says appreciatively. “Thanks, dude. I appreciate it. Knew I could count on you.”
“Haha, course you can,” Koutarou says. “But it’s fine. You can return the favor one day when I've got my own record label and sign your band with us.”
Tetsurou tries to imagine a record label with harebrained Koutarou at the helms. The thought is almost hilarious, but he can’t bring himself to break Koutarou’s heart, so he decides it’s best to just agree. “Sure, man. If you manage to start your own record label, I’ll somehow convince Mori and Nobu to move Neko over.”
Koutarou laughs, and it’s oddly quiet for a moment before Koutarou says, “So, you gonna ask for Kenma’s fucking number or what?”
Tetsurou feels like he’s suffocating for a second. “W-What?” he stammers out.
“Dude, this was all because of you,” Koutarou informs him. “You’re the one that gave me his EP and everything. I’m sure he’ll want to thank you, and who knows, maybe you have shit you wanna say to him too.”
“Oh. Yeah, definitely,” Tetsurou says dumbly, because why else would Koutarou give him Kenma’s number? Why the fuck is he even freaking out like this in the first place? Kenma’s just another new face in the band scene, nothing to get so freaked out about.
He scribbles Kenma’s number down on a napkin and stares at the way the dark ink bleeds into the white paper. He’s gonna make it, he thinks. Beyond anything, he knows that.
He decides to call Kenma later that night, when they’re driving down the road towards yet another lonely state. However, when he gets up out of his bed, Morisuke pokes his head out of his bunk. “You’re calling someone again?” he says, eyebrows furrowed. “What, did you actually manage to get a fuckin’ girlfriend? Or you calling Bo again? Because in that case, I might actually believe the rumors about you two fucking.”
“People think we’re fucking?”
“The one guy from Dashboard Confessional asked me about it,” Morisuke says, looking unimpressed.
“What the fuck did you say?”
“I said if you were, I hadn’t heard shit about it. But who knows? Maybe you’re sneakier than you seem.”
“As my fellow band member,” Tetsurou complains dramatically, “it’s supposed to be your duty to kill all the rumors going around about me!”
“S’not a rumor if it’s true,” Morisuke says sleepily. “And it sure as hell is starting to seem that way.”
Tetsurou groans loudly. “No, it’s not true. I don’t like dudes, assface. And anyways, I’m not even calling Bo right now. I’m just gonna call the lead singer of this new band.”
“New band?” Morisuke blinks. “Look at you going and bein’ all charitable. I almost feel bad for makin’ fun of you.”
Tetsurou sighs. “That’s why I’ve been talking to Bo so often. We… kind of helped him to get signed.”
“You what ?” Morisuke blinks. “Dude, I’ve seen you take people’s mixtapes and throw them directly into the trash. What the fuck do you mean you helped a band get signed?”
“There was something different about this one,” Tetsurou says. “I dunno how to explain it.” Don’t know if I can, he thinks with some chagrin . It doesn’t even make any sense to me.
Morisuke shrugs. “Well,” he says with a smile that is far too terrifying, “I sure hope I get to meet this very special dude one of these days.”
Tetsurou gulps internally. I’ll do my best to avoid that, he thinks to himself.
He steps out of the bunk area and slowly types the numbers into his phone. Hope he’s awake. But if not, guess I can just leave a message and ask him to call back, then live in agony till he does, Tetsurou thinks sardonically. But fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, someone picks up on the third ring.
“Hello?” comes a sleepy voice that is unmistakably Kenma Kozume - soft, quiet, but with an intensity like no other. “Who is this?”
Tetsurou pauses, left scrambling somehow for the words to say. “Uh, this is Tetsurou. Kuroo.”
“Tetsurou,” Kenma says slowly, as though he’s processing, and then, “you got us signed.”
“I mean, Bo did that.”
“Koutarou Bokuto didn’t just happen to stumble upon our EP without someone giving it to him, and it wasn’t me. I’m assuming it had to be you.”
“...yeah, it was,” Tetsurou admits. “But I was right. Your EP was amazing. And I thought you deserved a chance. I just know that if I was in your position, I would’ve wanted someone to give me a chance.”
“It’s more than a chance,” Kenma says quietly. “It feels more like a dream. But, well, thank you. I appreciate it. And so does the rest of my band.”
“I can’t wait to hear the first album.”
“You’ll be hearing it soon enough,” Kenma says. “The label seemed very excited. So did Koutarou.” He pauses, as though he’s in shock. “I can’t believe I talked to Koutarou Bokuto.”
“He’s not all that,” Tetsurou says dismissively. “Their lead singer Keiji is the real brains of that band.”
“I figured. You know, Keiji’s always been my favorite member of Full Soul.”
“Who’s your favorite member of Neko, then?”
“I’m not answering that,” Kenma says, which means it probably is Tetsurou, because Tetsurou gets the feeling that Kenma would be more than happy to tell him if it were Nobuyuki or Morisuke. It sends a bit of a thrill down his spine.
They chat for a few more minutes about various bands in the scene and the process of recording an album, when Tetsurou realizes that, sadly, he should probably get to sleep. Before he hangs up, though, he says, “You can call me any time, you know. Uh, if you need advice or anything like that, or need someone to talk to about band stuff.”
“I don’t understand why you’re being so nice to me,” Kenma says, voice soft and honest. Tetsurou wants to protest, to explain - but he doesn’t know what to say beyond that he gets the feeling that Kenma deserves it. He doesn’t know Kenma, after all. But somehow it feels like he does, or rather like he wants to. Kenma sighs, continues, “But I appreciate it nonetheless. And… I’ll probably take you up on that sometime.”
I hope you do, Tetsurou wants to say. Instead, he bids Kenma goodbye and hangs up for the night, feeling the remnants of a smile stretch his lips.
“You got a band signed?” Nobuyuki, the perpetual early bird, interrogates him while Tetsurou is still pouring his cereal.
“I didn’t do shit,” Tetsurou answers, trying to get his brain working enough to string a coherent line of words together. “You know as well as anyone that I have absolutely no power over anyone.”
“You have power over Bo,” Nobuyuki points out plainly. “And Bo has power within his label, and you worked with Bo to get a band signed.”
Tetsurou sighs, watching the Cheerios fall into his bowl, a rather depressing sight. “Yeah,” he says. “I did.”
“Good to know,” Nobuyuki says. There’s no hint of sarcasm or anything like that in his tone, but it’s hard to tell sometimes what Nobuyuki is actually thinking. For the one who’s widely regarded as the nicest of the bunch, Tetsurou still finds he’s a little bit terrified of Nobuyuki. “Can’t wait to hear their album, then, if you and Koutarou are both that fond of them.”
Nobuyuki talks like such an old man sometimes, Tetsurou thinks. But now both he and Morisuke are grinning at him, and he doesn’t want to even begin to process the implications of that.
He wonders if it’s bad fashion to have a beer with breakfast. Whatever, he tells himself. Anything’s acceptable on tour.
A couple of weeks later, once the tour is over and they’re back at home, Tetsurou is dancing with a random girl in a club when his phone starts ringing loudly in his pocket. Should’ve turned it off, he thinks glumly, but knowing his luck, someone - the record label or their manager or Nobuyuki or Morisuke - someone important, would’ve tried to get in contact with him and gotten all pissy when they couldn’t. He takes out his phone, only to see Kenma’s name on the caller ID.
It takes him only a second to make a decision.
He glances up at the girl, mouths, “Sorry, this is important.” The girl nods, though there is a bit of confusion in her eyes. Tetsurou’s well known for being the type to finish everything he starts, to put it lightly.
“What’s goin’ on?” Tetsurou can hear the slur in his voice; he’s at least four shots deep at this point in the night, but he figures - hopes - that Kenma won’t mind.
He can hear the defeat in Kenma’s voice as Kenma says, “I don’t know how to write an album.”
Tetsurou laughs, loud and bright in the night air around him. “Don’t worry, none of us do. We’re all just out here bullshittin’ our way through and hopin’ no one calls us on it.”
“You clearly managed to produce enough to put out two albums.”
Tetsurou hears his loud laugh again and winces, hoping he’s not destroying Kenma’s eardrums - he’s always had a bit of a volume control problem after drinking. “You ever looked at the lyrics to those albums?”
“I like them,” Kenma says, tone half defensive, half embarrassed.
“I was gonna say they’re lyrical masterpieces,” Tetsurou says quickly. “But how I did it?” He sighs, lifting a hand to his chin in contemplation. “I really don’t even know. I just… always try to look for inspiration in the world around me, I guess. Try to find the good there that’s worth writing about.”
“A bit cheesy,” Kenma murmurs. His voice is soft and soothing when he talks. Tetsurou can’t help but dwell on how much he loves it, how he wishes he could listen to it forever, which is kind of a weird thought but not as much when you’re in a music community and fall in love with people’s voices all the time. “But I guess I could try it.”
“The first album was the hardest for me,” Tetsurou says encouragingly. “But if you can make it through this, you’ll be fine. Writing sucks, though. Hah. Sometimes I wish I could just get my heart broken so I’d finally have something to fuckin’ write about.”
“Would it really be worth it?” Kenma asks, and then, “Actually, it probably would help my songwriting. Maybe I should just pretend someone broke my heart.”
“Yeah,” Tetsurou replies. “Pretend it was like, the girl of your dreams or somethin’, and she went off and hooked up with some guy from your band.”
Kenma snorts. It’s a cute sound, Tetsurou thinks. “Wouldn’t that make me bitter at someone from my band?”
“Okay, fine, another band then,” Tetsurou amends. “Pretend Bo stole your girl.”
Kenma exhales sharply. “I can’t be bitter at Bo,” he protests. “Bo basically got us signed.”
“I thought I got you signed,” Tetsurou protests.
“Also, I don’t think Bo’s exactly the type to steal someone’s girl,” Kenma says, ignoring Tetsurou.
Tetsurou sighs. “He’s not, you’re right - and I can’t see Keiji or Akinori doing it either. Hey, pretend it was Yukie.”
“If it was Yukie,” Kenma says flatly, “I think I’d just let her have my girl.”
Tetsurou laughs again, loud and free. Kenma’s funny, he thinks, which further confirms his suspicion that he’d made the right decision - Kenma would fit right in with the others on tour, the group that spends most of their time teasing each other and cracking jokes. He hasn’t known Kenma for very long, but there’s something about talking to him that feels comfortable, free, in a way that talking to very few people does. I could see us being friends, Tetsurou thinks.
His chest feels weirdly warm and fuzzy at the thought.