In January, they start the year in a flurry of travel and activity and glitter and lights with Hey! Say! JUMP's winter concert. It's a good start for a good year, Yugo thinks optimistically as he watches everything go on around them, the sparkling sets, the sparkling costumes, the sparkling people, a good sign that things are on the up and up. There's no reason to think otherwise; BI Shadow has been getting more and more attention as a Junior group over the past few months or so, and the Hey! Say! JUMP concert in all of its glistening glory is just another rung in the ladder. It's appropriately grand, Yugo thinks, to bring in the new year, then, in a huge arena with hundreds of thousands of yen worth of lights and set pieces and costumes, it's a sign, certainly that the rest of the year will be just as grand, just as wonderful.
Which isn't to say that Yugo, that any of them aren't enjoying it for what it is. Travel is tiring and tech rehearsals are long, but at the end of the day, performing live in front of thousands of people is a wonderful thrill, and all four of them know it, all four of them come offstage all giggles and grins. They tumble back into their shared dressing room after a show with laughter on their breath and all the stars in their eyes, fingers entwined amongst them as they recount this particularly funny moment or that mistake or some other costume malfunction, and perhaps none of it should be funny at all, but nothing can get in the way of their happiness, nothing can destroy the joy that they derive simply from performing together, the four of them, as a unit. And that, Yugo thinks, is somehow what's better than the lights or the costumes or the huge arena, and though he's fairly certain Kento, who's taken to strutting around in costume far earlier than really necessary, would disagree, he knows that at the end of the day, what makes their group better, stronger is the closeness they share, especially at times like these.
In terms of closesness, though, none of them compare to Fuma and Hokuto, not anymore. Those two have been growing tighter and tighter over the past year; Yugo has watched them move from blushing when their eyes met to shy, fleeting touches of the face, the arm, to chaste kisses at the end of rehearsals followed by sweet words and even sweeter smiles, and though he teases them about the mushiness of it all, at the end of the day, he really does think it's nice, really does like to see both of them happy. And now, as they share dressing rooms and hotel rooms at various venues around Japan, Yugo watches as the light, momentary touches become hands clasped together as they wait to go onstage, as the brief, gentle kisses become longer and longer in duration after they've successfully completed yet another show. But it's not just the physical closeness; Yugo is impressed when he begins to notice Hokuto leaving food at Fuma's spot at the mirror in the dressing room, when he catches Hokuto slinging his own sweatshirt around Fuma's shoulders as they wait between tech rehearsals in the cold arena. He's amazed to think that, a few short months ago, he was teasing them about crushes and puppy love when this has clearly become something more, something substantial, something, Yugo thinks, that could certainly only exist between members of a group so tight as theirs.
Gross, Kento will moan when he catches Yugo watching them curled up together in the stands between afternoon and evening shows, Hokuto's arm around Fuma's shoulders, Fuma's head tucked neatly in the crook of Hokuto's neck, but Yugo doesn't really think Kento has room to be calling anyone gross, and he tells him as much with a raised eyebrow and a skeptical grin. After all, Kento spends his free time making passes at other juniors their age and sexual innuendos even at Hey! Say! JUMP themselves like it's going out of style, Kento swaggers down the hall making pelvic-thrusting movements that he must, in some strange alternate reality, think are sexy; essentially, Yugo doesn't think Kento has a right to be judging anyone. But then again, maybe Yugo doesn't have any right, either, considering the number of times now that he's found himself pressed up facing one way or another against a dressing room wall by Kento and has, without a doubt, enjoyed it. Still, he doesn't think sleeping with Kento makes him quite as gross as Kento himself, and so he continues to tease all the same, asking him what on earth he's doing when he struts around the hallway and calling him Sexy Ken-chan in front of all the staff whenever possible. He isn't sure if Kento is capable of feeling embarrassment, but it's amusing to see him pout all the same. Somehow, it makes up for the fact that later, Yugo will almost certainly let him get by with saying all sort of gross things when Yugo is too incoherent to call him out.
But, at any rate, the time they spend divided into two and two or any other configuration is really inconsequential when compared to the time they spend as the four of them, performing and preparing and just being together before, between, after shows. They feed off of one another's energy while they're all jitters beneath the stage or high on endorphins while dancing, and it's not out of the ordinary for them to collapse in a pile in the hallway after the show is done, too tired to make it back to their own dressing room and too giddy to care, laughing and rolling around on the floor on top of one another. They laugh and laugh until they can't laugh anymore but are too tired to get up, especially when they're comfortably entangled in one another, and it's at one of these times that Hokuto says, "One day, it will be our concert," and as they melt into one another right there on the floor, Yugo can't help but think, certainly, one day, it will be.
In March, surrounded by an odd mixture of sobbing and celebration, Yugo and Kento graduate from high school and move on into the world of real people, real work. Or rather, both of them are moving on to college, because that's what good kids do (that's what undebuted juniors do), but they both know that at the end of the day, that's hardly what matters. What matters is work, what matters is BI Shadow, and so unlike other recent graduates looking forward to dorm life or dreading an increase in studying in the future, college is practically the farthest thing from their minds as they leave high school behind, diplomas in hand and thoughts only of their group in their heads.
But, Yugo has always thought, it's no good to go through life too serious, and so when the next day, Hokuto and Fuma insist that he and Kento follow them back to Hokuto's house because Hokuto's parents are out of town only to reveal that they've planned a surprise graduation party, Yugo has absolutely no complaints. In fact, he's fairly certain that his pleasure is apparent on his face, because Fuma and Hokuto exchange proud looks while Kento is still gaping before ushering them inside. There's food and prank gifts and video games and movies, and even with just the four of them, Yugo thinks, he hasn't had this much fun in a long time. In fact, more likely, it's because it's just the four of them; somehow, they understand one another, they get one another in a way that wouldn't be the same with anyone else. They laugh at Kento's stupid jokes, they admire the t-shirts Hokuto made just for the four of them, they reminisce about the good times they've had over the course of being in high school, and more than any big Johnny's party, more than an invite to a private affair thrown by one of their senpai, Yugo thinks, he wouldn't trade this for the world.
They play and eat and laugh themselves silly, until they feel like they can't laugh anymore and then some, but as the night wears on to midnight, one AM, they begin to drift into a contented daze as they lay sprawled around Hokuto's living room. From his spot on his back on the floor, Yugo can see Kento slouching sideways in an armchair, his legs dangling off the side as he stares at the ceiling and recounts memories of being together in concerts, in shows, in Summary. Yugo is halfway listening, but he can also clearly see Fuma and Hokuto on the sofa together, curled up against one another in a ways that seems as if it would be impossible for anyone but them, he can clearly see Hokuto's hand first rubbing small circles into Fuma's shoulder before migrating to his cheek before dropping to just beneath his chin, where it stays as Hokuto leans in for a kiss. It's sweet at first, but recently, Yugo has learned to look away at times like these, because one kiss, he knows, will become two, will become longer kisses that really must count as more for how involved they are, and then eventually, they'll disappear from the room... Only now that they're at Hokuto's house, Yugo doesn't have so much faith that they'll have the presence of mind to disappear, and so after a moment, he hauls himself to his feet and grabs Kento by the wrist and drags him into the next room and out the door, onto the balcony.
The night air is crisp and pleasant, especially after spending the evening crammed together with three other bodies in a small room, and Yugo takes a deep breath, leaning on the railing. Kento, who had previously been grumbling about being dragged out of his chair, seems to have finally realized why they left the room as a loud moan of something that sounds vaguely like "Hokuto" spurs him to slam the door just a little too quickly, and he joins Yugo with a roll of his eyes, leaning on the railing next to him, so that their arms are just touching.
The sensation is surprisingly pleasant, and Yugo can't help but smile as he stares out into the distance, over the tops of buildings and past all the lights of the city. They've come a long way together, the four of them, and while they've had their differences, while they're very different people, while after this Yugo will certainly tease Hokuto and Fuma for getting frisky on Hokuto's living room couch, while sometime this week, Yugo will certainly tease Kento for the other juniors he chooses to seduce around the jimusho... At the end of the day, Yugo thinks, there's nowhere he'd rather be than here, with these people.
"Hey, a shooting star," says Kento all of a sudden in possibly the most unromantic way possible, startling Yugo out of his thoughts. When he looks in the direction Kento was pointing, however he sees nothing, and frowns. "What are you talking about?"
Kento shrugs and purses his lips, shouldering Yugo slightly before moving just a little closer still and asking, "Aren't you going to make a wish?"
Yugo doesn't really understand what Kento's playing at, and in the bad lighting, he wonders if Kento is blushing or if it's his imagination. Something about Kento's expression, though, is inexplicably cute, and so Yugo grins, relaxing against him slightly and looking back out st the night sky before replying, "I wish for a debut for the four of us."
Kento scoffs. "Well, that's obviously going to happen, what a waste of a wish."
This doesn't feel like a waste at all, Yugo wants to say, thinking that even if Fuma and Hokuto spend the whole night on the couch, maybe he'd be okay with spending the whole night out here with Kento, as well. But instead, he shrugs and replies, "I guess now we can be extra certain."
In August, Fuma suddenly gets very quiet; Kento suddenly gets very loud. Neither of these are particularly surprising states of being, really; Fuma generally keeps himself to a polite indoor volume and tends to think before speaking, to say what he means to say and not more, while Kento, on the other hand, has been known to blather on for far too long about nothing, to sing his own praises to the rooftops, and that's just that. But there's something that happens at the beginning of August that has Fuma quieter, Kento louder than usual-- or at least, that's the way it seems to Yugo, but he can't put his finger exactly on why, exactly on what makes him think that there's something beneath the surface, here, for both of them.
Kento, at least, is easy to handle, Kento is always easy to handle, really, when it comes down to it, as difficult as Kento is want to be. Yugo's never been bothered by his puffed chest and big words, but when it seems to be getting under the other members' skin, when it seems to be causing problems for rehearsal directors, Yugo has no problem puncturing his ego and letting him deflate. When, "I'm great," Kento says, prancing around like he's the next MatsuJun, "No you're not," Yugo will shoot back with a grin, "Your dancing might be all right, but you never managed not to go flat in any of the Summary rehearsals that I watched," and then Kento will pout and shoot Yugo nasty looks for the rest of the day. But he'll get over it, Yugo knows, he'll be over it by the time they're done for the day, at which time Kento will almost certainly make some sexual comment in Yugo's direction to which Yugo will almost certainly reply by asking him what he means in the most teasing tone possible, and this exchange will almost certainly amount to the pair of them making out (if not more) in the dressing while Fuma tells them in exasperation to get a room.
Except Fuma hasn't been telling them to get a room recently, Fuma hasn't been telling them much of anything at all. He ignores Kento's strutting and Yugo's teasing and spends most of his time off to the side or in the corner, checking his phone or reading a book or staring into space, just staring. Yugo doesn't know what he's staring at, but he's pretty sure it's not something in the room, not something on the outside at all, but something inside Fuma's own mind, and it almost seems as if Fuma is crumbling in on himself sometimes, closing himself more and more off from the rest of them until there's nothing left.
But before too long, Hokuto joins Fuma off to the side or in the corner, clasping a firm hand around Fuma's or sliding a comforting arm around Fuma's shoulders, and Yugo thinks, certainly, things will be okay. Hokuto is always watching, after all, when Fuma is down or depressed, and even though Hokuto gets absorbed by his work, by his thoughts when they're in rehearsal or a meeting, Yugo knows that he cares about Fuma more than anyone. And so, when Fuma starts to crumble, Hokuto is always there in an instant, holding him up and holding him close and leaning in to say something-- they're always too far away for Yugo to hear, Hokuto's voice too quiet, a breath against Fuma's cheek, really-- that almost certainly bolsters Fuma. Not a lot, not enough to keep this from happening again, but enough to make him smile and lean into the embrace. The way his head tucks into the crook of Hokuto's neck is cute, Yugo thinks, sweet, and so he leaves Fuma to Hokuto, trusts that, with the strength of Hokuto's love, somehow, things will be all right.
So that leaves Yugo on Kento duty, but it's not a problem, really. Recently, the number of other boys Kento sees has been dwindling, and for the most part, he stays with Yugo anymore, goes out with him to grab coffee after work or stays just a little later than they should with him in the dressing rooms once everyone's gone home. It's not like Yugo has ever wanted Kento to drop everything else for him, it's not like Yugo thinks of himself as special or different or important, but it's nice, nonetheless, to be able to rely on Kento's company, grating as it sometimes may be, at the end of a long day. Kento may be obnoxious, but his body against Yugo's is somehow steadying, his skin against Yugo's is somehow comforting in a way Yugo has never expected and doesn't really understand but enjoys nonetheless. And so, late into the evening, he slouches a little farther into the worn out dressing room couch and entwines his fingers with Kento's just for a few moments, and thinks, even if things right now are rough, even if they're all tired and stressed and dealing with personal demons, certainly, they'll find a way to pull through together.
In October, Yugo is forced to sit back and watch as everything falls apart. Some part of him can't even comprehend what has happened, can't believe that this is life and not some sick anxiety dream brought on by Fuma's depression or Kento's insistence that no, he really is the best thing since sliced bread, they'll see, they'll see… But no matter how many days seem to spiral downward and downward, Yugo doesn't wake up and is forced to swallow all of his naive optimism from the past few months in favor of any attitude to keep the three people he's held closest for three years now from completely crumbling.
But he doesn't even know where to start, doesn't know where he can start when there are too many cracks for him to patch singlehandedly, when the other three seem to be doing everything possible to drive a wedge between the members of their group (their former group, he reminds himself, and it hurts). Maybe he should have realized earlier, maybe Fuma's silence and Kento's noisiness should have clued him in, but what's happened has happened and Yugo wants to push forward… if only he knew how. Because suddenly, Kento is king of the world, high on the promise of debut and fame and fortune, and has no time for any of them anymore, not when there are younger juniors in front of whom to preen, not when there are his new future groupmates, small and with stars in their eyes, for Kento to dazzle and charm with his striking good looks and charismatic demeanor. That's how he describes it to Yugo, anyway, when he has the time of day for Yugo anymore, and he goes on about how this one is so talented and that one is so cute and the fact that Kento talks about these kids as if they're attractive makes Yugo want to puke just a little, perhaps because one of them is eleven, but more likely out of a burning feeling in the back of his throat that he'd really like to deny but almost certainly is jealousy.
If Yugo didn't know him better, though, he'd almost think that Kento was trying to find an escape from the tension, because honestly, Kento is a minor problem in comparison to the others. Where Kento is flying high, Fuma is at his lowest and sinking farther every day, and honestly, Yugo doesn't think he can find any way to fault him. He was there, after all, despite how badly he wishes he weren't, when the news broke, he was there to see Hokuto's expression turn cold, his voice icy as he turned to Fuma to ask if this was the reason he'd been so quiet lately. And if his tone weren't bad enough, the look of fear on Fuma's face in response was enough to make the pit of Yugo's stomach drop and remind him that perhaps he should excuse himself to the hallway.
It's no good though, because he could hear their raised voices through the door, and he didn't know what he was supposed to do as he heard Hokuto verbally cut Fuma to the ground, calling him a traitor, accusing him of not taking their group seriously, of not valuing their relationship. Fuma's voice, tight and high with emotion, thick and choked with tears as he tried to convince Hokuto otherwise, as he begged Hokuto to believe him that he didn't want to debut either cut into Yugo, too, but clearly, it couldn't break through Hokuto's hardened defenses, because after a few more exchanges, It's over, he announced, and Yugo barely had enough time to register what he had heard before the door was slamming and Hokuto was halfway down the hall, gone. And Yugo was torn, but running after Hokuto now was a daunting thought, and besides, Fuma's sobbing was just as clearly audible as the conversation that caused it, and so Yugo took a deep breath and goes back inside because he didn't really have a choice.
Fuma was crumpled on the floor when Yugo found him, face pale and eyes swollen and tears streaming down his face, and honestly, not much has changed since then. He's managed, literally, to get back onto his feet, to make appearances with his new unit, to sing and dance on music shows and Shounen Club as a member of Sexy Zone, but honestly, Yugo is surprised he's even managed that much. They don't see as much of one another anymore, but every time he sees Fuma, his eyes are pink and his cheeks wet and oh god, Yugo thinks when a week becomes a month becomes two months, because he's so far out of his breadth. He's never seen Fuma like this before, but he doesn't know what to say when he, too, had placed all of his faith in Hokuto, when he, too, had been counting on the two of them to stay together further than the foreseeable future. And so he struggles to do anything he can, to send Fuma encouraging emails every once in a while, to get lunch with him when they do have time together, to try to take his mind off of the whole mess, or else hear him if he needs to talk, provide a shoulder to cry on, but at the end of the day, it seems like it's no good. Fuma shows up to every meeting with tear-stained cheeks, leaves every meeting with tears welling in his eyes, and Yugo has noticed that he doesn't even talk to Kento much anymore when they're together, hangs off to the side of rehearsals and filmings all alone. But all Yugo can do is keep trying, and even if he can keep Fuma's tears at bay for an hour, even a half hour… it's better than nothing.
And then there's Hokuto. After previously being the perfect boyfriend, devoted to Fuma every moment he wasn't devoted to work, it seems he also is facing a void in his life, whether he wants to admit it or not. He stays stoic and icy for the first few days, but slowly, he begins to return to normal around Yugo-- or pretend, really, it's clearly pretending, because as soon as Fuma appears, his entire demeanor changes completely, his jaw setting, his eyes turning cold, and why do you do this to him, Yugo thinks, why do you do this to yourself? Maybe he can't understand because he's never really been in a relationship before, definitely not one like theirs, but in the end, it seems like Hokuto is hurting them both and helping no one. Still, Yugo has enough self-preservation instinct to know not to interfere, and so he's forced to watch his friends hurt and do nothing, say nothing.
But even when Fuma isn't around, even when Hokuto makes a point of chatting with Yugo at rehearsals and acting as if nothing has changed, Yugo knows he's unsettled, something about him is off. His concentration on work has always been impeccable, he's always taken his job more seriously than anything (possibly even more seriously than he took his relationship with Fuma) but Yugo sees his eyes roam now in rehearsals, his hands fiddling with the seams of his clothes, and during break time, he paces, checks his phone over and over, puts on a sweatshirt to take it off again. There's no one there for him to put an arm around while standing off to the side as others rehearse, no one to give a kiss of encouragement when things get rough, and, Yugo thinks, even if Hokuto himself doesn't consciously realize it, all the nervous habits he's started to pick up show that his body does.
But just as spending time with Yugo seems to be only a brief reprieve in the loneliness for Fuma, chatting, grabbing coffee with Yugo seems to be only a momentary distraction for Hokuto. He's never volunteered to talk about his feelings and after experiencing the breakup firsthand, Yugo is too afraid to ask, and so he listens to Hokuto talk about work, talk about how dedicated he is and how he's going to do this and that and the other thing to get ahead. Wouldn't it be better to face your own feelings? Yugo thinks, but he says nothing; there's nothing he can say. Certainly, he thinks, at the very least, things will get better with time. After all, there's no way they can get worse.
By January, things seem to have settled into a new normal, though not one that Yugo particularly likes. He and Hokuto work together as much as they used to, on Shounen Club and around the jimusho, and while nothing has started yet, they've been told they've been cast in an upcoming drama collaboration with a group of younger AKB members. Hokuto seems to be slowly equilibrating to being single; the fidgeting in rehearsal has decreased, and he seems to be pouring himself into work even more than before, if that's even possible. It doesn't really seem healthy to Yugo, but he doesn't really know how to voice that in a way that's at all productive or sensical, and so he doesn't and instead offers to grab dinner with Hokuto after work or see a movie with him over the weekend. At the very least, he seems to be able to carry on a normal conversation with Yugo again, which is a good sign.
On the other hand, Yugo has sees consistently less and less of Kento and Fuma since their debut, and while he makes an effort, it seems as if they're constantly busy these days. Which is to be expected, of course, of debuted Johnny's talents, especially ones still in school, but it makes Yugo a little sad anyway, makes him wonder where they'll be a year or two or three from now, if BI Shadow won't just be another vague memory, another four-member disaster like Ya-ya-yah and MAIN. But still, since most of Sexy Zone is far from legal, work after 9 pm is out of the question for Kento and Fuma, and so sometimes, Yugo manages to get plans in with them now and again.
Kento, at least, is easy to read, and even if it's a bit of a slap in the face sometimes, it's good, Yugo thinks, to know where he stands. Sometimes, his emails about evening plans get responses like nah man theres a sup cute jr im gonna meet after this or sry mari wants me 2 take him 2 dinner and u no wat that means, and despite the fact that Yugo finds it all highly distasteful, it's good to know that Kento isn't ignoring him or making excuses, good to know that he's being honest with Yugo, even if it is to say that his choice of evening companions has changed. And besides, Kento always makes it up to him; after blowing Yugo off, he'll often email about plans the following evening, or else catch Yugo in his dressing room at Shounen Club just like he used to, just like it used to be when they shared a dressing room… and Yugo knows that things are different, that everything is different, but it's a small comfort, anyway.
Fuma, on the other hand, is another matter entirely. Yugo honestly isn't quite sure what to make of it, what to make of him. Sometimes, he's eager to meet, to invite Yugo to Sexy Zone's dressing room at Shounen Club and introduce Yugo to Shori and Sou and Marius, and at times like those, Yugo finds himself hoping that Fuma is on his way to recovery. He sees Fuma with the little ones, sees the way he's responsible for all of them, the way he makes sure they're all happy and taken care of before taking care of himself, and Yugo is proud, even to see that Fuma has stepped outside his own problems to be the adult when an adult is needed (because really, Kento hardly fills that requirement), and he hopes that his constant smiles on these occasions lets Fuma know, as well. There are really good times like this, times when Yugo finds himself at Starbucks with Fuma and the two littlest ones, entertaining them with tales of Johnny's senpai and embarrassing stories about Kento, and Yugo things, maybe supporting these kids is helping Fuma back onto his own two feet, as well.
But then there are other times, times when Fuma calls Yugo in the middle of the night in tears, times when Yugo catches him staring just a little too long at their new group of six, with Shintaro and Juri and Taiga and Jesse, only it's not them he knows Fuma is looking at. After all their years together, Yugo knows how to read Fuma like a book, can tell when his eyes shine in just the wrong way, when his normally-pouty lips are drawn just a little too tight. And there are still the times when he returns with the bathroom with red and puffy eyes, still the times when his voice comes out choked and his cheeks seem consistently damp. Yugo has noticed recently, too, that he seems to be humming Hitoribocchi no Haburashi constantly, and he just doesn't know what to make of it, doesn't know what to do. He can't fix what's been broken by circumstance or perhaps some other underlying issue that's even more unpleasant, and while he does everything he can to distract Fuma, to brighten his days, at the very least, tomorrow is always uncertain, always a question of whether Fuma will have the strength to pull through or not.
But Fuma only has so much time to spare, and Kento is likewise, and so worry as he might, most of the time, Yugo is around only Hokuto, the former BI Shadow member who seems the most normal at this point. He supposes it ought to be a comfort, that the two of them who haven't debuted, the two of them still left in the nebulous uncertainty of Johnny's Juniors haven't despaired, but yet somehow, Yugo isn't comforted.
On the outside, things are looking good for them, their prospects for moving forward in the realm of Johnny's, the realm of entertainment at large. They're studying scripts and beginning filming in the near future, they're in a group with the most popular juniors their age, and they're being promoted in magazines and on the internet… what more could a Junior want? And it's all fine and well for Hokuto, whose chosen method of escapism seems to be absorbing himself in work-- a method, granted, that certainly seems to be serving him well, judging the seeming state of his mental health versus other particular members of their former group-- but Yugo feels as if he ought to give up his spot to another Junior who would enjoy this more, another Junior who doesn't spend all his time worrying about what will become of his friends now that the carpet has been pulled out from beneath their feet.
But he can't very well do that, and so he does the only thing he can: he moves forward. He goes to rehearsals, he goes to meet-and-greets, he films. He practices lines with the other Bakaleya Juniors and spends time with friends in his spare time. In fact, he spends most of his time with Hokuto, because despite the fact that BI Shadow is no more, they're the remaining pieces of a once-inseparable group, and where others have made more widespread and varied friends, it seems, mostly, all they have is one another. And so Yugo does his best to swallow his worries and enjoy coffee, dinner, whatever, tries to make jokes and casual conversation without thinking about the dark circles under Hokuto's eyes or the way Fuma is probably crying himself to sleep as they speak…
"Seems like things are looking up, huh?" Hokuto says vacantly one day at the trailing end of a conversation about their upcoming drama, fingers fiddling with the straw of his drink, eyes focused on something out the window, in the distance.
And Yugo wants to say yes, wants to say for sure, wants to say anything, really, to affirm Hokuto's statement, and yet, he doesn't feel like anything is certain anymore.