Summary: An old group debuts, but for those passed up it's just business as usual.
Warnings: n/a. There is no real angst~
Notes: The sun doesn't shine on everyone all the time. For every hemisphere in spring, there's one in fall. And if seven people happen to get lucky this season, there'll still be those left in the winter cool of their shadow. Next year too, and the year after that. /lyrics
Kis-My-Ft2 don't do the women's volleyball tour when they debut, which is a shame -- in Iida's opinion anyway; he would've laughed long and hard if they'd had to. As it stands, he's just kind of his usual shade of mellow about the news. Happy for his old groupmates of course, and distantly kind of sad that he couldn't be there too. But not too much either way.
Despite this, and although it's been a long time since he's met up with even Yokoo (let alone Fujigaya or Kitayama or any of Ft2), their debut concert isn't something he feels he can miss. This isn't just filling Yokohama Arena with ABC-Z anymore after all, though that had been a fair enough feat by all reports.
This is solo. This is a debut single.
This is Tokyo Dome approaching winter.
This is, for them, the start of a serious career...
Iida reconsiders as he walks across the bridge from Suidobashi station the day of that first concert, with cash in his pocket and his eye on a scalper. Maybe saying he was mellow about the news might have been a mild lie.
He's left that era behind him and it's not that he's jealous exactly, but...
It's debut. Only the start of anything any Junior's ever dreamed of. He'll forgive himself for getting a little caught up in the hype, this time. Just once.
The first crooked ticket salesman he finds has two okay seats in the back of a first tier block for a so-so price. Iida doesn't mind the details much; the scalper is surprised and a little put-out though when he only buys one. With a shrug and smile behind his facemask, Iida doesn't explain himself. It's not as if he has to.
(That only happens when venue security asks about the female name on the ticket stub. Without a bag or any dedicated recording devices on him, they're not going to make noise, but Iida feels obliged anyway: "My girlfriend fell sick," he says apologetically, producing a small notepad and pen from one pocket. The stationery is pink and full of sparkles. It belongs to his sister. "I'm supposed to tell her how it goes."
Venue security gives him a sympathetic look and lets him pass.)
The Dome is big.
Not as huge as when J-Support first sang on its live centre stage, way back. But close.
Iida wanders around the inside area with his hands in his pockets, admiring the twenty-odd year old stadium's still stylish architecture. He notes the illumination with a professional eye. It's competently functional: downlights at the doors beckon guests into the darkened Dome proper; harsh fluorescent strips outside the bathrooms deter loiterers; inverted spotlights fixed up high at intervals make for added dynamism against the roofing structures, complementing the crisscross of natural light that streams down through the glass ceiling...
It's a fine, late-autumn day.
As he walks, not even the more manic-looking fans give him much of a second glance. It's been a while after all. Three and a half years since he left aged eighteen-something, and he looks different now. His apprenticeship has him monkeying up and down rigging with heavy spotlights and brackets on a near-daily basis. He's got muscle these days. His hair is unbleached and conveniently cropped, stylish but short, his glasses unremarkable for being the generically fashionable type. He dresses ordinary.
Iida's never stood out much, and the merchandise all looks a hundred times more ridiculous anyway.
Thank providence for small mercies.
Despite hoping a little contradictorily that his scalper won't have sold that second ticket, it's with an irrational satisfaction that he notes the Dome is already half full and buzzing as he finds his seat in the stands.
But around then, Lady Luck kisses him on the cheek, smacks his ass and bids him adieu: the second seat is not only sold, it is already occupied.
By a fellow male.
Who Iida not only knows, but worked closely with for four-and-a-half of his five long years as a Johnny's Junior.
The other's got oversized sunglasses on even in the half light and a loose beanie just as big pulled down low over his long hair, but those pursed lips are unmistakable as he messages on his phone.
Successfully surprised, Iida stays paused on the steps with his calm face on while his mind calls an emergency meeting with his feet about the prospect of turning around and just walking away because this whole endeavour, really, was a rather silly idea to begin with and there is no need for him to embarrass himself further...
He snaps out of it the next second though, when the residual cocky idol child in his mind asks who on earth was ever scared of Takeuchi Kotaro? And a smile forms on Iida's face. He hasn't seen Takeuchi in even longer than any of Kismai, come to think of it. He walks over. "...it's been a while," he says, smiling as he slips into his own seat by the other's side. The girls he'd had to shuffle past ignore them both, chittering excitedly among themselves as an ad loops around the screens. Iida spares it barely a glance. Fujigaya's hair is as big as ever.
Takeuchi doesn't reply at first, though his thumb hesitates over its next keystroke. He glances sidelong at Iida, perhaps thinking himself initially mistaken. But when he turns at last, it's to stare out from behind his shades. "...what are you doing here?" he deadpans, looking for all the world like the victim of a bad practical joke.
Iida images that MAD probably give him a lot of those, and chuckles softly. "Well. I wonder." Because it's not as if anybody should want to see their old Juniors group debut live, really. What a masochistic activity... He flips out his wallet with a wry smile, and unfolds the ticket stub he'd tucked away there, offering it for inspection. "He was the first guy you saw after the bridge, too?"
Takeuchi stares at Iida some more. Then looks at Iida's ticket, noting its row and number before pulling out his own stub to double-check, and--
Both are right, to his utter dismay. "...this is ridiculous," he mutters, shoving his sunnies up higher on his nose. "Crazy."
"If it's any consolation, I wasn't planning to see this with company either," Iida offers.
Takeuchi is blunt: "It's not."
Iida only smiles. He hadn't thought so.
He knows better than to ask why Takeuchi didn't just get a regular VIP seat with the rest of the company's current members, anyway. Egos are sensitive things. Their silence is companionable, if prolonged by the time the stadium dims for real and all around, fans scream. It's deafening.
Iida says nothing when Takeuchi remains seated all through the intro and everything.
Takeuchi says nothing when, on the occasion he glances up from his phone, it looks like Iida's eyes are more trained on the lighting rigs than the actual stage.
Iida maybe laughs, though, when Takeuchi tugs his beanie down over his eyes at the first heavy strains of a rockish song introduced as 'Fire Beat' -- but that only means Takeuchi doesn't feel too bad snickering back soon after, when Iida has to sit down and visibly resist burying his head in his hands. His default calm smile is strained at the edges.
"You don't watch Shounen Club?" Takeuchi shouts, leaning in to make himself heard over the thumping rhythm. Iida only shakes his head weakly. "Popular song! This is the full length version," he explains loudly, smirking beneath his cool exterior, "remixed for the debut single's B-side. Two extra minutes of shirtless stage humping just for you."
Iida folds and refuses to look up until the crowd stops shrieking like they're all going to die.
Times have changed -- Kismai have changed.
And Iida's gone in the other direction.
He can't imagine himself on that kind of stage at all, and distracts himself wondering vaguely how much of that dignity is personal versus occupational. Iida's a lighting tech these days, and nobody wants to see a stage hand running around with his shirt off and pants half undone no matter how ripped he is. That's just not what the job entails.
But even if he hadn't left and were a Johnny's Junior, he...
...is just glad he's not, really, in the end.
Because that really isn't his kind of stage at all.
The rest of the concert is a patchy blur.
It's good, Iida thinks. They're good. The MC is funny; they laugh at each other, exposing their bloopers. Yokoo and Fujigaya banter like two-player Pong, Nikaido butting in. Miyata and Senga are ridiculous and Tamamori derides them all with quiet laughter and sidelong tsukkomi. Kitayama guides the talk. There's no space for anyone else, and somehow the thought is comforting. It's...
Iida blinks when Takeuchi snaps his fingers in front of his face. Blinks, and realises the ambient lights are back on, the stage is dark, and most of the seats are empty. Huh. "...that was good?" he says on auto.
"Clearly," Takeuchi snorts. "So good you fell asleep."
"I did not fall asleep," Iida protests, nudging his glasses up to rub at his eyes. "I saw everything. I just..."
He adjusts his glasses and frowns.
Actually, he knows exactly what he'd been doing.
Marvelling at Nikaido and Miyata's easy leapfrog, and the way Tamamori anchored Senga's high spin, using his braking toe to effortless effect during the Timeline Medley. Watching all the little things.
It's always the little things, after all -- and they've gotten so good.
Iida remembers demonstrating that anchor in practice room three back in the day. That anchor, and that leapfrog. Those pirouettes. With Kitayama... back when Ft2 had barely been able to skate without flailing, or bend their knees without falling over... and Fujigaya had yelled at them to keep their eyes off of the ground... and Yokoo had shown them how to pretend a slip was really a cool breakdance move... Those days.
When Miyata'd had to stop every five minutes because his left foot kept cramping and resorted to salt tablets in the end, so determined.
When Tamamori never used to stay back late to learn the next day's tricks, and Fujigaya'd cracked it at him that one time -- and then looked so shocked when their baby girl had started to cry...
But things like that are too stupid to say, leaving Iida at a loss. He stares straight ahead. "...um."
Takeuchi sighs, flipping his phone shut. He and Iida are less than a year apart, age-wise, but sometimes a year in Johnny's equals about a decade outside, emotionally.
Times like these.
Iida left JE after just half a decade, and was only part of KKKity and Kismai during that time. Conversely, Takeuchi's dozen-years-a-Junior anniversary is coming up next, and his groups so far? Eight. And counting. "Idiot, Kyohei," he murmurs, pulling his sunglasses off. He tucks them into his collar, and pockets his cellphone. "Come on. I'll buy you a drink."
Seeing no reason to object, Iida follows along.
The cool air outside brings his mind back, and though Tokyo's not exactly what one would call 'fresh', there's less smoke out than inside for once. Awesome though it had looked, they'd really abused the fire effects in there...
Iida doesn't feel too bad anymore by the time they stop at a vending machine and Takeuchi pops in four coins for two cans of hot green tea.
He's hale enough to laugh in Takeuchi's face for it, anyway.
"Hey, you know how much Juniors earn!" Takeuchi scowls. He'd tried to move out of home last year and failed. Hard. "Take it or leave it. And no alcohol, because if I start right now I'm not going to stop 'til I'm wasted, and backdancing for Arashi is not recommended hangover therapy, believe you me."
"I'm sorry," Iida smiles, apologising genuinely enough (since he's Iida Kyohei after all). Takeuchi is a lot more confident than he remembers -- not that that's a bad thing. The can is warm in Iida's hands, and he presses it to his nose. "So you're doing Arashi's current tour?"
Takeuchi shrugs, cracking the ring of his drink off as he begins to walk. "The usual. The younger half have NewS duty."
Iida follows. "The younger half...?" he says, more to keep the conversation going than out of any real interest in the Junior groups these days.
"MAD's twenty-four," Takeuchi tells him anyway, "are mostly divided into three. The big four -- Matsuzaki, Koshioka, Yudai and Fukuda -- do more stage these days. Endless Shock. Kinki. Of the rest, we older ten do Arashi and Tackey-Tsuba. The younger ten do NewS and whatever else. Usually. That's probably going to change now that there's no more Kismai for KAT-TUN."
"Mm," Iida says. "Koshioka and Yudai were ABC when we were J-Support, weren't they?"
"They were. They're new MA, now."
Iida tilts his head slightly, looking sidelong at Takeuchi -- then past him as they pass a McDonald's. His eyes linger a little. It's the same restaurant one of Koichi's staff had brought them burgers from, backstage after that first J-Support performance, courtesy of their Producer himself...
Junk food and adrenaline. Such a potent combination for young boys, small and stupid. Even Takeuchi and Kato had been caught up in it at the time, Yokoo and Kusano so far gone they'd been bouncing off of the walls.
Pickles had ended up in Koyama's hair.
"MAD must agree with you," Iida says absently, taking a sip of his can.
"Hm?" Takeuchi raises an eyebrow more with his inflection than his face. "What makes you say that...?"
Iida shrugs. Smiles and lies: "I like to think you can tell a guy's confidence by the size of his hair." Takeuchi's is big these days, and he dresses like a Shibuya hanger.
"Right," Takeuchi snorts. "I know more guys who'd call that overcompensation."
Iida laughs deeply, thinking MAD definitely agrees with his old groupmate. The other never used to say things like that in KKKity, tending toward more nervous and desperate. Though perhaps they all had been back then, a bit... They'd still picked on Takeuchi the most.
Takeuchi shakes his head. "MAD's good," he admits. "Noisy as hell, but they're all... great guys. Fun, you know. Though I don't think they'll ever give up asking me to backflip."
"Koichi Produce was a piece of history," Iida chuckles. "I'm about one for twenty now."
Takeuchi raises an eyebrow. "Twenty? You still bother trying at that rate?"
Iida shrugs. He does, occasionally, when his parents aren't home and he knows his neighbours are out -- lest they ask after the tap-dancing elephants -- just to see if he can. And he can.
One in every twenty, anyway.
They keep walking, away from the bridge and the station and the Dome. Tokyo swirls around them in its default bustle, and there are girls with trundle bags full of posters to watch out for. Takeuchi has his big sunglasses back on and gets a few double-takes, but nobody's really curious enough.
After all, he's only a member of the dead-end mess that is MAD, and has never really stood out either.
"Are they the reason you stay?" Iida asks, changing the subject's tracks a little as they pass LaQua's themepark. The Thunder Dolphin roars by overhead, doing its rounds. Shrieks can be heard from the rollercoaster, and Iida watches it with a distant consideration. It looks so exciting from the ground, and creates so much emotion in those along for the ride. But for the cars themselves, it's just business as usual isn't it...? The same old loops, the same old rounds. He wonders about MAD. "I never really thought you'd stick with it for so long, no offence."
Takeuchi rolls his eyes. "You know, unlike some people, I don't have a father who works in Lighting I can apprentice to after graduating from uni."
"You remembered?" Iida chuckles, crushing his now-empty can.
"No," Takeuchi says bluntly. "But people talk. Some of us get pretty close to the staff. Pyro knows stage, stage knows gaffer, gaffer knows rigging who knows lighting. Someone in lighting knows a guy who works with your dad. Etcetera. Idle chat but, you know, you're not forgotten."
It's strange news to Iida, but he supposes enough people that age like the KinKi Kids and... well. Koichi Produce really was a piece of history. Albeit a small one, compared to KAT-TUN. He tosses his can in the recycling bin beside the next vending machine they pass. "...I haven't graduated yet," he settles on saying. "Still fourth year."
Takeuchi shrugs. "And already working. Point in case."
"I suppose you're right."
"I'm right a lot more these days than I used to be."
Iida grins from behind his facemask, eyes crinkling at the sides. "Sorry."
"Ha," Takeuchi says, only half feigning a derisive dismissal. He crushes his own can and tosses it too. "If there's anybody I want apologies from, it's Kato and Kusano. And Yokoo. You never did anything."
Not for the first time, Iida appreciates his harmless appearance and calm temperament. Or perhaps that's calm appearance and harmless temperament...? Either way. "Thank you."
"Don't mention it," Takeuchi says. When Iida chuckles, Takeuchi narrows his eyes. "No-- I mean it. Don't say a word."
Iida's cheerful silence holds until the traffic light they're waiting to turn right at goes green for pedestrians. Then he has a strange thought. "...invitations to tender are already out for an unnamed Johnny's tour early next summer, hitting up all the major cities," he tells Takeuchi, apparently irrelevantly. But then: "Now that I think about it, it's probably them."
Whereby 'them' he means 'Kismai'. Tours belonging to the rest of the debuted groups are clearly stated as such, and highly contested by the bigger stage companies to boot -- after all, not many others do concerts like Johnny's Entertainment. But Kismai's tour... relatively unknown...
It takes Takeuchi a moment of regard to figure out the thoughts beneath Iida's calm demeanour. It's been a while after all. But eventually, by the time they cross the road: "...you're wondering what it'd be like to stagehand for them," he accuses.
Iida laughs at the offended tone. "Only a little," he admits with utter irreverence. "It'd be like staffing for a regular group of divas, I'm sure." Speaking from first-hand experience, he knows there are many varied (and valid) reasons behind the general public's 'sasuga Johnny's' and 'yappari, a Johnny' kind of sentiments.
"Hm," he muses an amendment. "Though summer's not really a good time for these things, what with the weather and all."
"Excuses, excuses," Takeuchi snorts, and glances sidelong (strictly professionally) at the snug way Iida's thin jacket fits him. They're probably about the same height, some shy of six foot -- on the tall side for Johnny's, but Iida weighs an extra ten kilos easy. "You could just strut around with your shirt off like the rest of them. It'd be like being part of the group again."
"Ah," Iida says, "very funny." Nobody wants to see a stage hand running around with his shirt off and pants half undone. But his voice is soft, and Takeuchi doesn't hear it.
Which leads to a semi-awkward silence, as on the road beside them a truck rattles past, coughing and clanking like a Domoto Koichi with midwinter ills. Still working hard.
"...do you regret leaving?" Takeuchi asks at last. Half because he can't think of anything else to say now that they've turned back in the direction of the station -- half because the reason he can't think of anything else is that the question has been on his mind. "You could've been up there with them, you know. On that stage." Sure, Iida might have left three and a half years ago. But three and a half years isn't so long when you're a Johnny's Junior. It could've happened...
Iida shakes his head though. "I wouldn't have made it." That's something he'd known since ITY were passed up for NewS. "Eight... would have been too many after Hey!Say's ten, I think. They would have split us up and left us behind."
Takeuchi considers that. Except, "Which 'us' are you talking about?" he asks. "Yokoo's debuted now."
"Ah," Iida chuckles. "But Yokoo-san's a youngest child at heart, bottom line. I don't know how those magazine profiles go with that 'responsible and mature' image of his, just because he likes to vacuum everyone else's face off while they sleep... and stuff." Iida's eyes are somewhere on the path straight ahead, though he doesn't seem to be seeing much but memory lane. "He always gets what he wants in the end."
"...Kanjani8 debuted after nine-member NewS?" Takeuchi points out.
He's taken by surprise when Iida leans over and slings an easy arm around his shoulders. "Kotaro," the other murmurs, "stop trying to kill my delusions." Takeuchi looks at him sidelong when there's a pause, but Iida's smile doesn't waver: "I wouldn't have made it."
As they walk back to Suidobashi station in muted company, Iida pulls back and types on his phone. Congratulations, Yokoo-san, he writes. Takeuchi and I wish you every success in the future. He tilts his screen enough for Takeuchi to see, just before hitting 'send' with the grin of an insolent kouhai.
Takeuchi blinks for two seconds for the rare look on Iida's face. "--hey!" he exclaims, belated. "What did you sign my name there for? Speak for yourself...!"
But before Iida can say anything, the phone rings a tinny Good-Bye, Thank You in his hand. Yokoo. Unprompted, Iida puts him on speaker.
"Kyon!" Yokoo greets loudly over the background noise on his end. "Are you guys together? I thought Takeko was in Kyoto for Arashi's gig--"
Surprised, Iida's eyebrows rise at Takeuchi, but the other only shrugs over a murmur: "Magic of the shinkansen."
"...yeah," Iida tells his phone, non-committal. "Well, I--"
Yokoo makes a child's offended noise. "You go visit that loser, but never come see me? Damnit, Kyon! You should've been there today! It was so awesome. Come next time! I think I was pretty cool -- what do you reckon, Taipi?"
"You sucked, Wattan!" Fujigaya's voice belts back, sharp through the speakers. He's laughing though. "Your voice needs so much work. So weak! And damnit, everyone needs to talk more in the MC. I'm gonna go crazy if it's me all the time!"
"You'd go crazy if it weren't you all the time," Yokoo says snottily.
It sounds like there's alcohol -- a lot of it. Glass clinks, and there's indistinct shouting further back.
"I hope Ft2 aren't there," Iida says conversationally.
"Nah," Yokoo tells him. "Nika-chan hasn't slept in like a week. Went straight home with Senga. Out like lights -- or fucking like rabbits, I'm not sure. Ah, kids these days! Hey, Mitsu! What's up with the--"
Reaching over, Takeuchi hangs up Iida's phone. "I don't miss him," he says, casually deadpan. "Or any of them. At all."
"Life right now is pretty good I think," Iida agrees. "My father works at a nice pace."
Omake: Some things never change.
Remembered your address when you showed me the message. Save my contact.
already had it yo
ps. i hope you backdance for them next year. yokoo-san's solo.
Bastard! Only if you have to do the lighting for it.
Can't be any worse than having to do Koyama's Private Hearts solo anyway.
god lol, he did that without kusano on falsetto too funny.
Rap remix. Still not as amusing as watching Yokoo backdance for Kato's Happy Music. NewS tour 07-08. I'll show you the DVD sometime.
haha, how about no.
OK, but we should still meet up.
you owe me a real drink, senpai. tea's for old men.
You pay next time if you care so much what we drink.
Ps. Seriously though, let me know if you get that tender.
lol sure. since i know how much jnrs earn and all.
ps. you'll be the second one i call~
to you, takeuchi, aren't we always.
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