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battle armor

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It was the morning after Shizuku’s movie offer got taken away from him and given to Kaname, and the awkward tension from the previous night remained in the air in the hotel room.

Unlike the previous stops in their tour, when they used the time before checkout to discuss the day ahead of them, the room was silent. By the time Homare got out of bed, Shizuku was already in the shower. When he came out of the bathroom, he kept his head low, facing the wall as he packed his suitcase.

Kaname rolled his suitcase to the door, already ready to go. "I'm going to stop by Maakun's room first. Meet you two downstairs?"

Shizuku didn't react, and Homare quickly spoke up instead. "Go ahead. We'll be down by checkout time."

After the door closed behind Kaname, Shizuku let out a sigh. He stood up and crossed the room to pick up the papers he had left on the table near Kaname's bed the previous night. When he turned around, Homare finally got a glimpse of his face.

"Shizuku, you can't go out like that."

Shizuku flinched. "I don't want to, but what else am I supposed to do? We have to check out soon." He pressed his palms to his eyes, desperately willing the puffiness to go away.

"Stop. That's not going to help." Homare grabbed Shizuku's arms and gently pulled them away from his face. "Come on, sit." He led the other boy back to the bed, pushing on his shoulders until he sat down.

"What are you doing...?"

"We're going to fix this. Wait right there."

A minute later, Homare came back from the bathroom, holding a wet hand towel. "Close your eyes."

Shizuku hesitantly did so, and Homare gently pressed the towel against his eyes.

"Hold this here, okay?"

Once he was sure Shizuku was holding the towel in place, he let go and pressed his fingers against the area around Shizuku's eyes.

Shizuku immediately recoiled. "Don't touch—"

"Do you want to look presentable in front of the others or not?”

Shizuku froze in surprise at Homare’s tone. "...Sorry."

Homare sighed. "No, I'm sorry. I should have warned you before touching you. But I'm trying to help, and we don't have much time. Don’t move.”

He gently tapped around Shizuku's eyes and nose, then moved his hands to Shizuku's neck, massaging his way down. He repeated the process a number of times. After a few minutes, he gently removed the towel and took a step back. "'s a start." He discarded the towel on the bed. "Where's your stage makeup?"

"Near the top of my suitcase."

Homare retrieved Shizuku's makeup pouch, then his own. He handed Shizuku a bottle of eye drops. "Use these."

As Shizuku obediently did so, Homare rummaged through Shizuku's makeup. He pulled out Shizuku's concealer, then took a number of items out of his own bag.

"Now hold still."

As he began carefully applying concealer to the area under Shizuku's eyes, a tear intercepted his work. Then another. He paused. "Shizuku, you're only going to make it worse," he said gently.

Shizuku pulled back, pressing his palms to his eyes again. "Sorry, it's—I put in too many eye drops." He took a deep, shaky breath.

Homare waited patiently for Shizuku's trembling to subside. It was clearly more than just the eye drops, but he didn’t want to hurt Shizuku’s pride any more than it already was by pointing it out.

Finally, Shizuku removed his hands from his eyes, and Homare inspected the damage. Thankfully, his eyes weren't too much redder than before. Homare picked up the towel to wipe the smudged concealer off of Shizuku's hands before returning to work.

"Why do you know how to do this...?"

"It's good knowledge to have in case of emergencies, isn't it? Can't go out on stage like this."

"That's true, but..."

Homare continued silently, applying a thin line of navy eyeliner and just a hint of blush to balance out the redness. When he was done, he took a few steps back, then nodded, satisfied. "Check that in the mirror and see what you think."

Shizuku nodded and got up. He looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror and blinked in surprise. His eyes still looked a little red, but the puffiness was mostly gone, and thanks to the makeup, it wasn't visible unless he looked closely. He didn't doubt the others would still notice, but at least it wouldn't be immediately obvious to everyone around them.

"Ready to get out there and face the day? Aran's coming back today. Let's greet him with a smile, okay?"

"Right." Shizuku nodded with determination, then paused. "...Thank you, Homare." He didn’t dare say anything more, but he didn’t have to for Homare to understand.

Homare squeezed Shizuku's shoulder comfortingly. "Anytime."