w-inds., Counting To A Million

Title: Counting To A Million [Ryohei/Keita/Ryuichi]
Rating/Warnings: R for Ryohei taking out his anger on his bandmates in predictable fashion.
Summary: Sometimes, the way that Keita and Ryuichi are on stage gets to Ryohei.
AN: For shinigamitabris, who dragged my ass to Kanazawa, Yokohama, and Nagoya so that I could see all of this business for myself. Seriously.

Counting To A Million

Quite some time ago in the history of w-inds., long enough ago that Ryohei tries not to think about either the hair or the pants that it entailed, Ryohei had once been pulled aside for a talk from their manager.

The substance of the talk had been that one of them had to be the responsible one, and since Ryohei was the oldest…Ryohei had glanced to the side, where Ryuichi and Keita were happily trying to spray each other in the face with industrial hairspray, and agreed that he was the best candidate of the three.

All in all, it was a good choice. Dancing requires concentration from Ryohei, as compared to Ryuichi who moves like his skin would explode if he didn’t, so it isn’t hard for Ryohei to keep the professional face up. Keita and Ryuichi laugh and flail and shove each other around on stage, Ryohei dances, and they all go on being w-inds., which is what’s most important, isn’t it?

The deal isn’t a secret, it never has been. Keita and Ryuichi thank him sometimes, in their way.

Once in a while, though, Ryohei allows himself a tiny bit of longing for the days when he’d been spraying the hairspray just as hard as any of them, when Keita would catch his eye from across the spotlight, or when Ryuichi would surprise him with quick hugs from behind just as often on-stage as off.

This summer’s tour is hitting that particular nail on the head even more than usual. It seems like everywhere Ryohei turns, Keita and Ryuichi are touching, or laughing at some private joke, or even just watching each other move, constantly.

Maybe it’s just the contrast of the previous year’s tour, how things were so strained after Keita’s sudden announcement about his solo career. Ryohei had been hurt, but Ryuichi took it even harder. For him, the announcement itself hadn’t been the worst part, or the way it put a question mark at the end of w-inds. no matter how much Keita tried to reassure them, but the revelation about the secret guitar lessons.

Ryohei saw it written plain across Ryuichi’s face, every single joke they had made about Keita’s odd absences being so he could tour with his other band, before Ryuichi smoothed his expression out, easy as a photoshoot.

Ryuichi, who had been half-jokingly teaching Keita guitar on and off practically since their debut, never spoke out loud about it, at least as far as Ryohei knew, but the closeness Ryuichi shared with Keita, the casual touches and silent exchanges, cut off as abruptly as if Keita had thrown a switch.

Ryohei loves Keita like he loves the stage when it makes his skin prickle with heat and his eyes water from the brilliance, and he loves Ryuichi like he loves the beat of their best songs when it burns through his veins from the soles of his feet to the ends of his hair. Caught between the two of them, providing a steady source of reassurance for Ryuichi and bolstering Keita’s self-confidence during the brief moments they actually had time to speak, it was a very long year for Ryohei.

Eventually, though, as the weeks wore on and reporters stopped assuming that Keita’s individual success would have dire consequences for w-inds., or maybe as they themselves stopped assuming it, slowly the small touches returned: Ryuichi tugging on Keita’s sleeve and Keita’s arm around Ryuichi’s shoulders, the perpetual curl of Keita’s body towards the right and Ryuichi’s flailing imitation of every single one of Keita’s choreography fails.

At first it’s such a relief that Ryohei doesn’t scold them half as much as usual for their lack of professionalism in the presence of cameras and fangirls. He doesn’t have the heart to discourage anything that puts Keita’s sharp-cornered smile back on his face and the bounce back in Ryuichi’s steps.

His own style benefits from the extra energy too, since the other two are willing to practice longer than usual and don’t get discouraged so easily at their increasingly complex routines. For once, and Ryohei tries to remind himself not to get used to it, it’s actually a pleasure to watch their stage tests and practice footage in the weeks leading up to the tour.

Ten minutes into the first show, however, Ryohei can see exactly where his laxness is going to go horribly wrong, and so do the fangirls, if the volume of their screams is any indication. Having practiced the show with all the physical closeness mixed in, Keita and Ryuichi have trained it right into the routines, so that “Crazy For You” can’t happen without Ryuichi running his hand down Keita’s side, and “Tooi Kioku” never ends without Keita yanking on the tail of Ryuichi’s shirt.

Starting with a baseline like that, there’s no choice but for “Feel the Fate” to end up with their arms around each other, sharing a microphone with an ease that makes it crystal clear, Ryohei is positive, just how often their mouths happened to occupy the same space.

Ryohei gives it until the second venue to see if things calm down, reasoning that the start of the tour often results in concerts that are a bit over the top. Besides, between the whirlwind of choreography and set list adjustments, Ryohei barely has time to think, much less talk his bandmates out of molesting each other in front of a live audience.

But during the third concert, when the doors of the lower stage are barely closed before Ryuichi has Keita pressed up against the wall, effecting a costume change that is at best incidental to the way his hands roam Keita’s slick skin for the entire minute and ten seconds before the lights come back up, Ryohei realizes that things absolutely have be stopped.

He manages to corner Keita right after the end of the fourth show, catching him by the shoulder in a little nook of the left wing. Ryuichi is busy, out of earshot, having an impromptu dance battle with several of the dancers and an instigating guitarist.

“Oh,” Keita’s smile turns from brilliant to sheepish when he sees the look on Ryohei’s face. “Is it time for that talk already? It’s early this year.”

“You hooked your fingers in his belt loops,” Ryohei crosses his arms, “and only me tripping that dancer to fall in between you kept you from bumping and grinding him in front of two thousand witnesses.”

“They would have liked it…” Keita starts, then drops the innocent act when Ryohei makes it clear with one eyebrow that he will not be playing along. “You’re right, you’re right. It’s just been that kind of atmosphere, you know?”

Ryohei knows that he could let it drop there, but just then Ryuichi looks over to search for Keita’s attention for his next move, and something in Ryohei’s chest clenches. “The kind of atmosphere where we get fired?”

Keita’s smile disappears, and Ryohei catches himself, looking away for a second and taking a long breath.

“I’m just saying,” he tries again, curling his fingers to keep from reaching over and running his fingers along the sharp edge of Keita’s bicep, “we have to be more careful than this.”

“I know,” Keita agrees, “we’ll do better,” and then because he knows Ryohei’s body language better than anyone, reaches out to wrap arms around him and tug him close. He refuses to let go despite Ryohei’s muffled protest until some of the tension in Ryohei’s shoulders melts and his hands are uncurling against Keita’s chest.

Ryohei breathes in, Keita’s skin smelling of sweat and stage makeup and his T-shirt damp against Ryohei’s cheek, and lets go a sigh that seems to come from the bottom of his chest, one that finally makes him feel better. Dimly, he feels Keita’s fingers brush the ends of his hair, working their way up under his hat, and Ryohei closes his eyes and puts aside the fact that this is exactly the sort of thing he is trying to talk Keita out of doing.

“Come on,” Keita says, making no move to loosen his grip, “let’s go eat. Ryuichi-kun, get over here!”

Ryohei’s fingers don’t want to let go of Keita’s shirt, but then Keita’s stomach growls, making them both laugh, and the release of air pushes them far enough apart that Ryohei can think again, knows better than to take the hand that Keita offers.

Ryuichi is happy to take it instead when they collect him, and Ryohei makes sure to stand in front of them as they leave in case anybody is loitering around with a camera.

For a few shows after that, things return to an almost normal amount of fan service. Or what passes for a normal amount of fan service in a Japanese boyband, anyway. Ryohei assumes that Keita talked Ryuichi, somehow, down to just smoldering looks and glancing touches until they’re back in the hotel room, or in the car, or at the very least not in front of a packed house.

On the other hand, perhaps his message had gotten a bit garbled on its way from him through Keita to Ryuichi, because not long after, Ryuichi seems to launch a systematic campaign to include Ryohei in on the fan service.

At least, that’s how it seems to Ryohei. In Sendai, Ryuichi catches his eye to grin roughly every two minutes and talks him into making a joint heart sign during “Top Secret.” They get told off backstage for changing choreography on the fly, but it gets such a loud scream from the girls who are quick enough to see what it is that it gets incorporated permanently into the song.

In Hokkaido, Ryuichi steps forward instead of back during “Devil” so that instead of their backs bumping together, Ryohei pitches backwards and slams into Ryuichi. Ryuichi’s laughter shakes them both as they slump to the floor, and adrenaline makes Ryohei laugh with him even before he tilts his head back to find Keita giving them a grin from the upper level, brighter than the stage lights that have rainbows around them from the sweat in Ryohei’s eyes.

And then all hell breaks loose during the first show in Yokohama, where a mystic combination of adrenaline, the box of mochi Ryuichi ate for lunch, and the fangirl in the far right first row who has a sign which reads “Keita ♥ Ryuichi” seems to send Ryuichi completely off the deep end, dragging Keita along with him on the way down.

Keita cheerfully yelling “DOUMO, HENTAI-KUN DESU!” and waving his hand in the air was something that Ryohei had really, truly been hoping to never get a lecture about, especially not when Keita’s constant laughing at Ryuichi’s antics means he bungles the words for “Crazy For You” again.

The three-person W with their arms actually is a cute idea. It almost makes up for Ryuichi rolling around on the floor like a moron during the MC.

It in no way makes up for the fact that Keita and Ryuichi are practically lap dancing with each other during “Tooi Kioku,” the performance of which is starting to cause Ryohei actual dread. When Keita actually slaps Ryuichi’s belly and gets a sliding shimmy against his palm in return, something snaps inside Ryohei, filling his chest with a slippery sort of anger, one that he can’t quite get a good enough grip on to shove it out of the way for the rest of the show.

When it comes pouring out backstage during their next break, even Ryohei is a little surprised to hear himself say, “I don’t want to sing during ‘Feel the Fate.'”

“Eh?” Keita and Ryuichi chorus together, even though Ryuichi’s is muffled by the jacket he is trying to shove on inside-out.

“It’s your song,” Ryohei says, the first available outlet of his frustration making his voice sharp, “it doesn’t sound as good, and I don’t want to do it.”

“Don’t—” Keita starts, and the rest of the sentence will be “be ridiculous” but they are already due back on stage so Ryohei stomps out ahead of them without hearing it, trying to piece his fragmented concentration back together. He ignores Keita’s attempts to catch his eye through the next songs, the light touches of Keita’s hand against his shoulder when they spin close enough for him to reach.

But when the encore actually starts, Keita advances towards Ryohei with purpose in his eyes, and Ryohei is too busy being shocked that Keita would actually force him to do something he’s said expressly that he won’t to notice that Ryuichi has snuck up behind him.

Until arms grab him under the armpits and wrap around his shoulders.

Ryuichi’s body is hot and sleek against Ryohei’s back, sweat soaking through both of their shirts, his grip familiar, his laughter purring in Ryohei’s ear, and then Keita drops to his knees to offer up the mic along with liquid brown eyes to Ryohei, and the anger in Ryohei’s chest ignites, turning into something much hotter and darker.

Keita definitely sees it, his pupils flaring when Ryohei sings his part, grinning at the promise Ryohei is making him with bared teeth. Whether Ryuichi picks it up through the tension in his body before Ryohei shoves him away, Ryohei isn’t sure.

At least until he’s the one slamming Ryuichi up against the wall just inside the lower doors of the set, teeth pressed against his throat hard enough that there will just barely not be marks, Ryuichi’s pulse slamming against Ryohei’s mouth.

“Ryohei,” Ryuichi groans, fingers sinking into Ryohei’s shoulders and urging him closer, and Ryohei rips himself away with a growl. He grabs Ryuichi’s wrist and yanks him out to the nearest driver, not even pausing to tell Keita, who is having an argument with the techs about how far the spotlight can go, where they are going. He doesn’t let go of Ryuichi until they are in the hotel room and the door is slammed shut.

Ryuichi’s wrist has a red mark and his eyes are dark and he’s already sitting on the edge of the bed, kicking off his sneakers. Ryohei doesn’t know exactly how it happened, but the next thing he knows he’s straddling Ryuichi’s thighs, Ryuichi crushed into the bed underneath him, his hands buried in Ryuichi’s bleach-rough hair and his palm stinging from the backlash of the snapped hair elastic.

He can’t get to Ryuichi’s skin fast enough, yanking things out of his way until he reaches a piece he can safely mark, and then loses no time in sucking a bruising kiss in the crease of Ryuichi’s thigh. Ryuichi’s skin is still stage-slick here, where the sweat hasn’t evaporated yet, and the salt stinging Ryohei’s tongue makes him suck harder, makes Ryuichi curl up against him with a keening groan, scrabbling at the shirt that is still tangled around Ryohei’s shoulders.

He would stop if Ryuichi asked him, but Ryuichi lets him do anything he wants, doesn’t mind that Ryohei is all rough fingers and sharp teeth, grasping and marking as his everything Ryuichi is willing to give him. Ryuichi curls up tight against Ryohei no matter how Ryohei moves, holding on in his own way, with gasps of Ryohei’s name and the willingness of his body, until he’s wrapped tight and hot around Ryohei, as close as even boyband members can get.

Ryohei doesn’t let go even after they’re done, and neither does Ryuichi. Ryuichi falls asleep with his hands tight on Ryohei’s shoulders and his ear pressed to Ryohei’s chest, rising and falling with Ryohei’s breath. Ryohei isn’t sleepy at all, but stays where he is, one arm wrapped around Ryuichi’s back, examining the purpling ring around Ryuichi’s wrist with the fingers of his free hand.

When Keita finally arrives at the room, face scrunched as though his own argument has not gone well, he takes a long look at the both of them. Ryohei doesn’t say anything, or even meet his eyes really, just goes on fingering Ryuichi’s skin lightly, until Keita has toed off his sneakers, stripped off his jeans, and crawls in bed as well.

“He’ll need a bracelet tomorrow,” Keita says, reaching up to brush his fingers over Ryuichi’s bruise so that his skin is also brushing Ryohei’s. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Ryohei says, then pulls his hands away and rolls over on his side with his back to them both.

Ryohei doesn’t sleep much, and gets up early to work out, leaving the other two still curled up in bed. He takes his iPod along and turns it up loud enough that he can’t hear himself thinking about why he didn’t just crawl back in with them until it was at least properly light.

Avoiding two members of a three-member boyband is only something that can last for so long, particularly during a tour, but Ryohei does a good job of it by sneaking into makeup and costuming at odd moments, avoiding everyone he can and discouraging the others by pretending to read a script as though it contains crucial changes.

He still can’t seem to piece his concentration back together, though, however hard he tries. Instead his brain replays yesterday over and over, slo-mo-ing through every part where Ryuichi’s hands were on Keita, and Keita’s smile was on Ryuichi.

Eventually he drops into a chair that’s laying around in the shadows of the right wing, leans his head back and closes his eyes, planning to count to a million and see if that helps.

“Oi,” Ryuichi says, dropping heavily into Ryohei’s lap, making his eyes fly open. “You’re avoiding us.”

“Four hundred twenty-four?” Ryohei offers, coughing and shifting Ryuichi down so that the weight is on his thighs rather than his diaphragm, which he needs for boybanding.

“Why?” Ryuichi cocks his head, locking his fingers together around the back of Ryohei’s neck for balance. “You don’t have to be jealous, you know.”

“I’m not…” Ryohei starts, then frowns. “I…” And he finds that he can get a really good grip on the slippery feeling in his chest, now that it has a name. “Oh.”

“Mmhmm. Idiot.” Ryuichi bumps their foreheads together, Ryohei’s eyes crossing as he tries to keep watching. “We’d play with you too if you wanted us to. But you’re…professional.”

“Responsible,” Ryohei murmurs at the same time.

Ryuichi nods, once, definite. “So don’t be jealous.”

“Because you love me too?” Ryohei asks, almost teasing. It’s just that Ryuichi’s line of reasoning is so easy to follow.

“I love you like…” Ryuichi thinks, tilting his head in exaggerated concentration, before giving Ryohei a sly grin and leaning close to murmur in his ear, “like I love when I have my amp turned up to ten and I hit that one chord that makes my whole body shiver like a tuning fork.”

But Ryohei’s the one shivering just now, his hands clutching tighter at Ryuichi’s hips without him trying to, and Ryuichi’s laughter puffs against Ryohei’s ear, and the rough edge of his leather bracelet scrapes lightly across the back of Ryohei’s neck.

“Ne, Keita?” Ryuichi asks, and Ryohei turns his head to find Keita coming up behind them, worrying at his sleeves and with a distracted look. He’s clearly been sneaking looks at the audience, given the way he’s touching strange bits of himself compulsively, his throat, his elbow, his left hip, as if to make sure he hasn’t dropped them somewhere on the way to the stage.

“Sure,” Keita says. And then, “What?”

“What do you love Ryohei like?” Ryuichi leans forward more to lean his chin on Ryohei’s shoulder as if he’s just as interested in the answer as Ryohei ought to be. Ryohei’s brain is still chugging away at amps and tuning forks and Ryuichi heavy and warm in his lap.

“Oh!” Keita’s face clears as if there’s just been a strong wind. “Like nailing the high note in ‘OUR LOVE IS THE GREATEST THING.’ Or,” Keita’s smile crinkles and Ryohei knows there’s no way he came up with this on his own, “hearing both of you sing my lines in ‘Feel the Fate.'”

“Ryuichi put you up to that second one,” Ryohei says, making Keita laugh.

“Yup,” Keita comes close enough to lace the fingers of one hand with Ryuichi’s and brush through the back of Ryohei’s hair. “But the first one was true.”

Ryuichi pouts. “But singing that is fun! We’re making you.”

“Okay, okaaaay,” Ryohei caves, as though there were ever a doubt, and Ryuichi cheers and hugs Ryohei’s neck tighter until his eyes are bulging a little, and Keita has to pry him off, nearly falling all over them for laughter.

They’re interrupted by a stagehand calling the ten minute mark, and Keita’s nerves kick back in, and Ryuichi scrambles off Ryohei to distract him, nearly squishing several things that Ryohei will probably need in the near future.

Ryohei feels lighter than he has since Sendai, and today it doesn’t bother him at all that Keita’s smile is for Ryuichi just as often as it is for the crowd, and that Ryuichi’s body roll has never, ever been for the crowd. In between songs, Keita and Ryuichi take turns cornering Ryohei and making him tell them exactly how he loves them, holding pieces of his costumes as hostages until they get satisfactory answers. When Ryohei runs out of answers, he makes up more, some that make Ryuichi laugh, and others that make Keita smooth possessive hands over the back of Ryohei’s jeans.

During the encore, it only makes him laugh when Keita plops down next to Ryuichi to cuddle close and offer up his mic, completely ignoring the mic dangling uselessly in Ryuichi’s hand. And when Keita advances on him, Ryohei backs up until he runs out of stage, but doesn’t make any pretense of avoiding Keita’s hands.

The headlock is unexpected, Keita’s chest overheated and toned against Ryohei’s back, but when Ryohei looks up to find Ryuichi grinning down at them from the second level, Ryohei loves them both like Keita’s fingers against his skin and Ryuichi’s laugh echoing off the stage.

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