Pero (peroxide_fic) wrote,
Pero
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Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge- "Down to the Bone"

Title: Down to the Bone
Universe: Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge
Theme/Topic: N/A
Rating: PG
Character/Pairing/s: Kyohei/Sunako
Spoilers/Warnings: Through the end of the series.
Word Count: 5,705
Summary: Sunako could always see past the surface of Kyohei.
Dedication: for jo_lasalle’s yuletide request! Original post here.
A/N: It has been a long time since I have seen this drama. I have no idea what any of the characters were majoring in or if it was even mentioned, so forgive me if I’m horribly wrong about it all.
Disclaimer: No harm or infringement intended.



Kyohei’s girlfriend still can’t look him in the eye without spazzing out – after months of dating – and this is not the biggest problem he has. He feels the need to reiterate, with emphasis.


This is not the biggest problem he has.


Kyohei sighs and eyes his department guidance counselor with a mixture of contempt and boredom as he waits for a verdict. “So,” the counselor begins, looking kind of mystified, “your major is…business. But you don’t want to own or work in a business?” He sounds like he hopes he’s being pranked.

“Nope,” Kyohei answers, and pops the last syllable for emphasis. Common sense dictates that he shouldn’t go into any field that requires an extensive amount of networking and/or schmoozing. Or that deals with people on a daily basis in general, really. He kind of only chose this major in the first place because Takenaga and Ranmaru are majoring in the same thing and Takenaga takes amazing notes, which makes studying for tests easier considering how much class Kyohei misses on a near constant basis. Maybe he should have followed Yukinojo into the teaching specialization after all, but the thought of a bunch of doting young mothers stalking him through the halls of a kindergarten while their innocent children look on in fear and confusion had been the fodder of some of Kyohei’s worst nightmares. Yukinojo thinks it stems from his issues with his own mother, which means absolutely nothing, because Yukinojo is not a psych major.

The nervous man sitting at the desk across from Kyohei in the guidance office – Kitano-sensei – wipes at his moist forehead, his eyes darting towards Kyohei’s face and then rapidly away again, like he thinks he’ll have his soul snatched away if he stares for too long. It’s a fair enough theory, all things considered. Eventually he just keeps his eyes studiously trained on Kyohei’s less than exemplary – but not completely abysmal – transcript instead.

Kitano-sensei fumbles through a few pages of it absently while more sweat gathers on his very shiny, very bald head. Kyohei wishes he was bald sometimes. Whenever he does though, Takenaga very calmly points out that his not having any hair will not, in fact, change the state of his face.

Kyohei sometimes thinks Takenaga is too logical for his own good. The worst instance had been last week when Kyohei had offhandedly suggested getting plastic surgery to make him purposefully hideous. Takenaga had calmly pointed out that no self-respecting plastic surgeon would want to make Kyohei ugly, because it would be bad for business and for that surgeon’s reputation. Not to mention the fact that Kyohei’s crazier fans would probably find out who did it and raze that man’s practice to the ground in a fit of mindless rage. Which was, unfortunately, true.

Yukinojo had helpfully chimed in at that point and added that Kyohei didn’t have the money for an expensive cosmetic procedure like that anyway, because he could barely pay his rent or take Sunako-chan out on proper dates as it was, so the entire conversation was moot point, even if they could find a doctor deranged enough to cut into Kyohei’s perfect face and put it back together all wrong.

At that, Sunako had giggled maniacally to herself from the side of the sofa where she’d been unceremoniously dragged by Kyohei, pressed against his side and staring straight ahead so she wouldn’t have to look him in the eye unless she wanted to. He’d found she’s more comfortable when they’re like that, and so he always makes them sit side-by-side that way when they watch movies. “It could be like Doctor Frankenstein,” she’d murmured dreamily in the meantime, like she’d been gleefully imagining the stitched-together monstrosity Kyohei’s face would become after going under a madman’s knife.

Kyohei had cuffed the back of her head and told her to concentrate on her stupid horror movie about people getting buried alive.

Yukinojo responded by patting Sunako’s hand comfortingly and telling her Kyohei definitely couldn’t afford someone as famous as Dr. Frankenstein anyway. Everyone had laughed, except for Kyohei, mostly because Yukinojo – who was obviously just trying to be a little shit – was also being right about being a little shit.

Kyohei was more often broke than not.

Rent wasn’t that big a deal because most of the time Mine-san was willing to grant him provisional credit by making him do menial labor, but more worrisome than that was the fact that pretty much every date he’d had with Sunako thus far involved Sunako cooking them something (that the others always ate too) and then watching horror movies in the living room while the rest of his idiot housemates lounged around and ruined the whole date-like atmosphere.

It really was kind of sad and pathetic.

“Maybe I ought to get another part time job,” he’d murmured eventually, which had Ranmaru bursting out into undignified laughter from the armchair while Yukinojo pouted in concern and chided, “Kyohei, you skip class enough! How about you concentrate on finishing school and getting a real job? Sunako-chan and obasaan can’t support you forever, you know.”

Kyohei had lobbed a cushion at Yukinojo in frustration because that wasn’t helpful at all.

Except that Yukinojo had been right. Again.

Which is why Kyohei is here now, speaking to Kitano-sensei in the hole of a building that serves as the college’s guidance department. He grudgingly admits that maybe he needs to figure out what he’s going to do after graduation and for the rest of his life. It’s not that far off, and honestly, he has no idea where to start.

Unlike everyone else he knows. He’s not Takenaga or Ranmaru, with their families’ vast business empires that need running, or Yukinojo, with his brains and his studious dedication to his coursework. He’s the guy in the group who still receives most of his living expenses from his dad on a monthly basis and who always ends up getting fired or quitting every part-time employment opportunity that comes his way within a week.

To make things worse, he’s also the only one who hasn’t made any concrete moves towards the future. Takenaga is diligently apartment shopping in his free time because he’s probably going to ask Noi-chan to marry him someday, and Ranmaru has a management position waiting for him at one of his family properties in Roppongi, while Yukinojo has been student-teaching at a preschool down the street for the past two months. Kyohei has been too stuck on the fact that his being employed means endless sexual harassment and an influx of creepy stalking to even consider moving forward the same way his friends are. Maybe he should have joined Johnny’s after all. Then at least he’d get paid to get stalked and sexually harassed. It’s impossible at this stage in his life, but sometimes he thinks about it, when he goes through a list of possible career options in his head and systematically has to tick more and more of them off as hazardous to his health or to the working environment or to everyone around him at large.

But mostly, whenever he starts to worry about the future he thinks about Sunako, and how hard she works, and what a freak she is, and shudders at the fact that objectively, she is still the more functional adult out of the two of them, technically speaking. It doesn’t kick at his pride or anything, at least, not exactly, but it does strike something in his chest that’s a little bit pained, because she’s come so far in such a short time and he feels like he’s being left in the dust a little bit, even though she still can’t look him in the face when they kiss. She’s working on it though, and he thinks that he should work on himself too, for her, maybe to be better for her, even if, for now, it’s just in something small, like getting work that will make it so he’s able to take her out to some lame family restaurant and then an actual movie theater for once.

According to Noi-chan, Sunako had gone out yesterday and inadvertently gotten a job application to some weird punk/goth shop while they’d been shopping together. The manager had loved her. Kyohei isn’t surprised, because once you get past the total creepiness and her complete disregard for her own appearance, Sunako is basically the perfect person. If they hire her (and they will) she’ll probably be running the place inside of a week because she’s amazing, and Kyohei can’t even stand guard outside of a door at night without causing some sort of horrible incident. He’s useless and everyone he knows is slowly growing up in the meantime.

He doesn’t want to be the only one left behind. He’s determined not to be. Most of all, he wants to grow up into the kind of person who can support Sunako for once. He always feels like he’s leaning on her, one way or another.

Across the desk, Kitano-sensei closes his file and offers a nervous but clearly hopeless smile. “Well, Takano-kun, you still have some time before you graduate, so perhaps you should take the chance to explore a few fields that you think you might be interested in before if you’re not entirely certain about doing business,” he says, which is using a lot of words to professionally say nothing at all. Kitano-sensei is clearly uncomfortable and just wants Kyohei to leave as soon as possible.

Kyohei sighs, because he can’t really blame the guy. A surly kid coming into the office who is on track to graduate with a business degree but who doesn’t actually want a job in business is probably the kind of puzzle guys like Kitano-sensei are not paid nearly enough to deal with. Compromise is the key, which is what Noi-chan and Takenaga always say, because they are one of those sickeningly sweet couples that come up with matching sayings to go with their matching T-shirts.

Sunako is doing her best to get over her fears and look at Kyohei for more than three seconds at a time. She goes out in public with confidence now, and can charm shop managers into giving her job applications even when she’s not looking for work at all. The least Kyohei can do is try to get over his own hang-ups and become a partially functional human being.

Kyohei takes a deep breath and swallows his pride. He looks earnestly at Kitano-sensei for the first time all afternoon. “Look, at this point, let’s just say I’m willing to give anything shot if you don’t mind trying to help me. Is there some sort of work study or paid internship or something I can do just to see if I like it?” he asks, trying to keep his voice even despite how annoyed he feels right now. Kitano-sensei blinks at him, like he hadn’t been expecting this sort of concession. Kyohei hadn’t either, to be perfectly honest.

The silence suffocates the two of them in office for a moment after that, while Kitano-sensei tries to find words.

Kyohei stares back hopefully, maybe even a little imploringly, like he’s seen Yukinojo do with Ranmaru when Ranmaru wants to take the last pudding cup from the fridge but Yukinojo has been saving it for his afternoon snack. Under the power of that gaze, Yukinojo usually gets his pudding, even though Ranmaru knows by now that it’s a complete trick.

In the same vein, Kitano-sensei abruptly looks down again, back at the file, even though it’s closed now and Kyohei is pretty sure the guy has already flipped back and forth through it about a dozen times since this meeting started. And then, just like Ranmaru does before handing over the pudding, Kitano-sensei sighs, keeping his eyes trained on the table. He seems less terrified of Kyohei suddenly though, and a little bit more sympathetic, which is probably a good thing. Kyohei should thank Yukinojo for the inadvertent lessons in appearing non-threatening and pathetic later.

“I might,” the balding man begins, very, very reluctantly, “have a few openings that I could try to place you in until you find your feet, Takano-kun. They don’t pay very much because they’re work for experience mind you, but they’re still something.”

Kyohei breathes a small sigh of relief and figures it’s a good a start as any.

*****

When he gets back to the house a little while later, Sunako is sitting at the kitchen table, very studiously filling out the job application she’d gotten with Noi-chan from their Goth shop in Harajuku. She is smiling secretly to herself as she scribbles in answers, clearly pleased with her accomplishments for the afternoon. Kyohei kind of stands off to the side and watches her for a moment in secret, feeling his lips quirk upwards in a helpless sort of smile, heart filling with fondness.

Eventually, because he’s not supposed to be the creepy one in this relationship, he tears himself away from lurking in corners at her and steps into the kitchen, clearing his throat. “Oi, Busunako,” he barks in greeting, “don’t just sit there smiling weirdly to yourself, huh? You’ll scare off the gardeners again.”

She turns toward him, or more pointedly, toward the little skull pendant he wears against his chest now, which is strategically placed to draw her focus when things get overwhelming. “Um,” she begins, and becomes a little sheepish, “Welcome back. I made almond tofu.” She manages to look him in the eye for all of five seconds before she has to turn away again, but it’s enough that she still seems pretty pleased with herself about it afterwards. She’s taking baby steps with this whole thing, but it still looks like she’s ahead of him by leaps and bounds.

She finishes off the last part of the application before standing and going to get plates and spoons, and Ryohei just shakes his head and leans against the table, a little awkwardly. “So I’m supposed to go to an interview tomorrow for this catering place.” He pauses, realizes how that sounds, and adds, hastily, “Just office work, you know. Answering phones and booking things. No dealing with the customers face to face."

She nods while pulling a truly enormous bowl of almond tofu out of the fridge, the hood of her cowl falling into her eyes a little. “Too bad, then you won’t get to take back the leftovers,” she says absently, like that is the biggest concern she has about the whole thing. He thinks she just forgets sometimes, that his face gives him problems in the real world. It used to be annoying, but when he thinks about it, it’s kind of nice to have someone who obviously doesn’t like him for his looks at all, and who just as easily forgets that everyone else does. She hums thoughtfully at all the chocolate he won’t get to bring home when he’s not working on the front lines and dishes up a bowl of almond tofu for him with a generous amount of canned peaches and pears on top.

He sits down at the kitchen table and shakes his head while she watches him eat, or more specifically, watches the skull pendant on his chest while he eats, in between sneaking shy glances through her bangs at his face every few seconds.

He’s nervous about tomorrow, but he figures if Sunako can try her best to look at him, even though it makes her nervous, then he’s got to try his best for her too. One step at a time.

*****

The interview goes pretty well, because the caterer, Chen-san, is a crotchety old immigrant from China who doesn’t care how Kyohei looks so long as he can answer a phone properly in Japanese. Chen-san’s Japanese isn’t nearly as good, he says, and sometimes he scares customers off because Japanese is much more polite than Mandarin is as a rule, even though his cooking is much better than Japanese cooking is in general. Kyohei is a bit mystified by the guy because he has no brain-to-mouth filter (and this is Kyohei saying so, which means a lot, considering the shabby state of his own). He suddenly realizes, ten minutes into the interview, why Kitano-sensei has had this opening on his paid-internship list for so long. It pays way under what counts as minimum wage these days, involves working with a boss who will constantly be hurling lots of horrible insults in Mandarin and Cantonese at him in turns, and operates under the flimsy pretense that he’s supposedly going to be learning the ins and outs of how to be a successful entrepreneur. The worst part of all (if Sunako’s opinion is anything to go by) is the fact that there isn’t even any free food in it for him at the end of the day.

He takes it.

And then, miracle of miracles, after a week of work, Kyohei finds he kind of likes it. Chen-san calls him “moron” and “lazy-ass” in Mandarin (two words which he picks up in the foreign language right away), but Kyohei is pretty sure Chen-san likes him, if only because he’s not afraid of the guy and calls the grumpy bastard “old fart” and “smelly geezer” almost fondly in turn.

The plus side (besides the extra income) is that the only people who work in the office/kitchen with Kyohei are Chen-san, Chen-san’s equally crotchety and much more terrifying wife, and two impossibly burly Brazilian immigrants who help the older couple with food preparation and don’t find Kyohei the least bit attractive at all, for all that he looks like a very nice young lady to either of them.

Kyohei is beyond relieved to discover that there are foreign concepts of beauty out there that are very different from Japan’s.

Maybe Africa is a possibility in his and Sunako’s future after all.

*****

When he gets his first paycheck he feels really good about taking Sunako out to a creepy vampire-themed café where everything is dyed black and the desserts are all covered in raspberry syrup that is supposed to emulate blood. It looks disgusting but tastes decent enough, even though Kyohei is a little weirded out eating fried shrimp with black panko breading. After lunch they see a movie about evil children possessed by monsters that live in boxes, and despite the weird stares they get for wearing their matching black cowls all around town together (for very different reasons), Kyohei is kind of proud of himself with how well everything turns out on their date.

hen Sunako shows him that she can look at him for an entire eight seconds without freaking out and headbutting him now, which is somehow, so much cooler than anything he’s done for her all afternoon. His heart swells as they kind of gaze at each other for a moment, and all at once, he feels proud of her, challenged by her, and still, somehow, two steps behind her after the fact.

He doesn’t mind though, it just means he’ll have to work harder at keeping up.

After their miraculous eight seconds are up, he carefully places his palm over her eyes and leans in to kiss her, brief and sweet, and they’re both smiling when they pull apart, which probably looks incredibly strange to the other people on the train who aren’t them.

It doesn’t matter what they think anyway.

*****
A month into his new job, Chen-san abruptly stumbles to Kyohei’s desk one morning and declares, “One of the servers is sick. You’re filling in, lazy bum.”

It’s the moment Kyohei had always known was coming but that he’d fervently hoped would be far, far in the future. He swallows. “I can’t, you shitty old man,” he answers vehemently. “I told you, people go crazy when they see my face.”

Chen-san fixes that by promptly punching Kyohei in the eye.

Two hours later he’s decked out in a bowtie and crisp white shirt, and has the shiner to end all shiners hidden under an eye patch that Chen-san’s wife had so kindly slapped onto his bruised face right before the event, which turns out to be an engagement party for two lesbians who don’t even look at Kyohei and his hideous disfigurement more than once the entire evening.

Kyohei makes a heap of tips though, because he gets to man the bar and drunk people are generous with their money.

When they finish for the day, Chen-san looks satisfied and says, “Whenever you get too worked up about your stupid pretty face, I will punch you any time.”

“Thanks,” Kyohei drawls, but takes his share of the tips directly to the kitschy jewelry store by the station and buys Sunako a cute pair of skull and crossbones earrings with the extra cash.

*****

He gets home that night to see Sunako working carefully on something in her room. When he sneaks in and peeks over her shoulder he is a little horrified to see her holding one of those ridiculous idol pictures of him that the girls at school sell and collect like trading cards.

“What are you doing with that?” he asks, and it says a lot when she doesn’t startle at his presence anymore, or wince on instinct because he’s too bright a creature to be in her lair of doom and gloom.

Instead she continues to work on the photo, etching a blank pen across the features of Kyohei’s face very carefully, like she is outlining it.

“Skull,” she admits after a beat, when she finds herself at a good enough stopping point. “Kyohei-kun is just like everyone else underneath.” She smiles.

It says a lot when he knows exactly what she means by that. And can smile back.

Eventually he realizes she’s sketching out the basic structure of his face over the picture, trying to see the bones underneath the muscle and tissue and skin, reminding herself that below the surface, his face is exactly like anyone else’s. It’s a skull just like any other skull. Sunako loves skulls.

“Today, I’m admiring your bones,” she breathes, and it should be creepy, but it’s her, and it’s them, and all Kyohei can feel is touched, because he’s had a whole life of everyone pointing out what makes him different, not what ties him to the rest of the world.

She grins up at him goofily, eight whole seconds of glorious eye contact, and then she squints like she’s been looking into the sun for too long and needs to sneeze. Shaking her head, she goes back to her work, and Kyohei sits on the floor and curls up behind her, resting his chin on her shoulder and looping his arms around her sides as he watches. The box with the earrings is in his pocket, and he slips it onto the table beside her hand a little while later, like an afterthought, because the two of them are so focused on the blank ink trails outlining Kyohei’s face, the thick lines managing to render his specific features endearingly insignificant.

When she finishes, she leans back against his chest in satisfaction and points to what is basically a skull icon drawn neatly over what had previously been a soft-focus shot of his thinking face in class. His insides turned outside, or something similarly gruesome that Sunako would love to hear.

“You have good bones,” she says with that telltale twinkle in her eye that she gets whenever she’s talking about his insides. She holds up the picture in front of her face and traces the outline of black ink with her fingertips. The focus in her eyes makes his breath hitch for a moment, because he knows she’s looking past the surface again, like she always seems to do when it comes to him. She has a way of getting down into the guts of things.

“This is all I need to see when I look at you,” Sunako declares with a determined nod as she sets the photo back down, and Kyohei huffs a breath of laughter against the side of her neck.

“The question is,” he drawls, reaching to the side of the table and flipping the box with the earrings in it open, almost absently, “whether or not you can actually do it.”

Sunako sucks in a quiet breath of appreciation at the sight of the little skulls and crossbones molded in an aged-looking silver that he’d chosen specifically to match her bracelet. “I’ll do it,” she promises, like it’s really that easy. “Because you’re trying hard, I have to try hard too.”

He shakes his head as she gleefully snatches the earrings from the box and puts them on. He wonders if she knows he’s only trying so hard because of her in the first place.

She leaps out of his arms once the earrings are in and goes to embrace Hiroshi-kun, showing off her spoils. “How do they look?” she asks the mannequin, and Kyohei stays on the floor of her room and just watches her through his one good eye like the bruised one doesn’t hurt at all anymore. The bones underneath all the broken parts are fine, after all.

The bones, he thinks, are what really matter.

*****

Chen-san makes him work the front lines again at a few parties. Some of them are outright disasters, like the wedding reception they cater that results in the bride asking to run away with Kyohei mere hours after she’d promised herself to another man for the rest of her life.

He’s always expecting those. Those he’s prepared for.

But, to his surprise, he finds that some of them go pretty well too.

In particular, the one that goes best is the backstage event they do for a group of teenaged idols who need their lunch in between what looks like grueling concert rehearsals. It’s an all day affair that goes on until impossible hours of the night, but Kyohei, whole-faced and diligent this time, notices that not one person from the group or the crew or anyone looks at him like a love-struck idiot or a creepy stalker in all the time that he’s there. It weirds him out because neither Chen-san nor his violent wife had landed a facer on him before he’d come out here with the Brazilian brothers, and he’s pretty sure his face is the exact same one that had annulled what might have been a perfectly functional marriage a week before.

Part of him wonders if he’s in an alternate dimension as he starts setting up plates and napkins at the end of the buffet, little soy sauce trays and packets of disposable chopsticks tucked into his pockets.

It isn’t until about fifteen minutes after they finish setting up when he finally understands what is happening here, because that is when the idols come in for lunch.

The first one through the door literally knocks Kyohei three steps backwards with his face alone because he is ridiculously stunning, stunning enough that Kyohei starts to realize he might not have ever had a chance at Johnny’s Jimusho after all.

The kid is fresh-faced and seventeen at best, with perfect hair and perfect skin and a smile like Yukinojo’s with a body like Ranmaru’s and an air of sophistication a lot like Takenaga’s. It’s all kind of mind-blowing, and Kyohei, for once, finds himself being the one who stares, gaping from behind the buffet where he is supposed to scoop globs of Chen-san’s chicken curry up for the group members and backup dancers who want it.

The idol, tired and hungry, offers a perfunctory smile at Kyohei like he deals with this kind of reaction to his face every hour of every day, and simply asks how spicy the curry is.

“Not spicy,” Kyohei answers without missing a beat, though he’s still incapable of not staring at the guy right now, despite knowing firsthand how uncomfortable it can make a person. The rest of the group trickles in after that and Kyohei is even more stunned to realize they all pretty much look as perfect as the first guy. The sheer concentration of aesthetic perfection in the room is pretty staggering, and Kyohei diligently concentrates on scooping curry so he doesn’t come off as creepier than he already has.

When the rest of the staffers show up for their food twenty-five minutes after the idols have started eating, Kyohei also notes that none of the workers seem to give a good goddamn about how strangely attractive the idols are, even when they’re standing face-to-face with them and rattling off each of the members’ schedules and ride situations. It’s like that kind of pretty just bounces off of them in the face of the work that has to be done here.

And that is when Kyohei comes to a life-changing realization.

No one here cares about how good looking Ryohei is because they are just used to seeing good looking people everywhere they go.

In the meantime, Kyohei is here freaking out that someone might try to abduct him or grab his ass, while no one else in the room cares about his face at all because to them, it’s just Tuesday.

Kyohei finishes serving everyone their curry and menchi cutlets and starts to get an idea.

*****

By early November, Sunako can look at him for a full ten seconds and doesn’t try to headbutt him afterwards anymore. She just kind of squints instead, which is equal parts hilarious and adorable so he doesn’t mind at all. From there, if it gets to be too much, she’ll furrow her brow and look like she’s concentrating very hard, before reaching up to trace the curves of his face with her hands, like she had over the black lines she’d drawn over his photo all those weeks ago. He knows in those moments that she’s looking to the inside of him instead, past his face and down to the very bones of him, deep under the skin.

Something about seeing her like that makes him want to go running into the street, laughing and grinning like an idiot.

He doesn’t, though. Instead he uses it as a gauge, because every second Sunako overcomes her own fears for him is a hundred things he wants to do for her in return.

So by mid-November, Kyohei is sitting in Kitano-sensei’s office again, this time with a smile and an actual, feasible idea of what his game plan is. Kitano-sensei looks at turns terrified, impressed, and doubtful as he listens, but Kyohei knows exactly what he wants to do now, and he knows he can do it, because if Sunako can look at him and see past his ridiculous face, anything is possible.

Kitano-sensei sighs helplessly at him from across the desk, flips through Kyohei’s file a couple of times (needlessly), and nods. “I’ll make a few calls,” he promises, and Kyohei grins and can’t help it when he reaches out to pat Kitano-sensei’s big, shiny head in thanks.

*****

By December, Kyohei is an intern at Johnny’s Jimusho, running around getting costumes and snacks and picking up and dropping off the idols that are too young to drive themselves before and after work. Everyone is bright and pretty and faces a lot like Kyohei’s are around every corner of the building. He gets mistaken for an idol all of twice in the first few days of work, before people get in closer and take in his drab, inexpensive suit, chapped lips, and the unruly state of his hair. Then they realize he’s just a guy here to do a job, just like they are. The bright, feathered, glittering stars are in different stratospheres entirely, and for once, Kyohei gets complimented on how he does everything thoroughly and on time rather than on how he looks good doing it.

A manager for one of the top-selling groups notices how hard he works and takes him under his wing, takes him out to dinner a few times after work, and tells him all about how he remembers being an intern here once before, and how he wants to pass on his wisdom to Kyohei because Kyohei actually looks serious about this job. Kyohei listens raptly to every word he says, and no one at the restaurant they go to bothers them because this is the restaurant where all the famous people come after work. Kyohei is just another generic face in the crowd.

A face who wants to learn the ropes of professional talent management.

*****

By the time they are quietly kissing at midnight on New Year’s in the backstage area of Tokyo Dome while a hundred idols with perfect faces are cheering and singing all around them, Sunako is able to look right at Kyohei for almost a full minute now, to the point where he knows that sometimes, when they’re kissing like this, she keeps her eyes wide open like a total creep, just because she can. For sixty whole seconds, in any case.

What’s even better, and almost just as unbelievable, is the fact that Kyohei can finally look at himself in the mirror just like that as well, and admit that maybe, he kind of likes what he sees looking back at him a little bit.

He smiles against Sunako’s lips when he feels her fingers go up to trace the line of his jaw, the curve of his cheeks, the jut of his brow. He shivers under the touch of her cold hands reaching forward, seeking out the familiar structure of him beneath all the parts that never mattered. He pulls her closer, warm hands going up to cover her chilled ones as he growls, “Close your eyes, Busunako,” against the bow of her mouth.

She bites his lip sharply in retaliation, and around them, singing idols with perfect faces don’t pay either of them the least bit of mind. In this place right here and right now, they are completely, wonderfully, unrepentantly unremarkable.

For the first time in his life Kyohei feels perfect, right down to his bones.


END


Tags: nakahara sunako, takano kyohei, yamato nadeshiko shichi henge
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