SixTONES, Early in Time

Title: Early in Time [Shintarou, Maika, Taiga]
Rating/Warnings: G
Summary: Ren is a serious kid surrounded by insanity. No wonder Taiga is his favorite.
AN: more Shintarou/Maika + kids + Baka6. This one’s about Ren joining JE, much to both Shotarou and Taiga’s embarrassment. Spoiler alert: he gets to be Hokuto’s birthday twin. Also thanks to the Kamen Rider W joke that Ryutarou makes in the first one, Shotarou calls Ren “Philip” when he wants to be a jerk. If it helps, the original Shintarou + baby fic is here and the ones about Julie-chan are here and here.

Early in Time

“Merry Christmas,” Maika says, handing over a silver-wrapped box. It’s small and light, but that’s normal since their Christmas presents to each other are usually the dumbest possible thing. Shintarou had given her a star-shaped idol keychain of himself he’d won from a gatcha machine (on the fourth try; he’d also won two Hokutos and a Juri, which were now hung on the tiny fake Christmas tree in his unit’s dressing room).

Inside the box is a pregnancy test with two blue lines on it. Shintarou whoops with excitement and grabs Maika to twirl her around, ignoring her claims that she’s going to puke right on him. Julie-chan cheers with him, excited just because somebody else is, but Shotarou gives them all the side-eye.

“Summer again?” he demands, old enough at six years old to do at least birthday math. “I already have to share my cake with her and dad!”

“Shut up, kid, magic birthday,” Shintarou says, in that breathless way he always says it. Both Maika and Shotarou roll their eyes at him.

“It better at least be a brother this time,” Shotarou grumbles, reaching up to poke his mother’s flat belly.

“Whatever it is, it’s Papa’s fault,” Maika informs him, brushing his hand away. Shotarou accepts that without question despite being way too young for that health class.

“We’ll just try again if it’s a sister!” Shintarou says, grinning hugely, too excited for self-preservation. “We’ll do it seventeen more times if we have to!”

“Then you better ask Dr. K and MC Blackjack to knock up Juri for you,” Maika says, cracking a knuckle, and Shintarou clears his throat and says maybe it’s time to make those fluffy pancakes he promised everybody.

Ren arrives almost month early, scaring the daylights out of his entire family and making it so that it’s Jesse, Juri, and Hokuto who have to share their birthday cakes instead. Maika blames Shintarou’s stupidly huge babies, Shintarou blames Shotarou for using his birthday magic for evil, and Juri blames Hokuto for getting the new baby as his birthday present.

“Three days!” Juri whines to Maika in the hospital, who has no sympathy for him. “I was so close!” Hokuto just leers at him smugly and refuses to let anybody else hold his birthday twin, Shintarou hovering at Hokuto’s shoulder and whining louder than Juri.

It’s 9 in the morning, Ren’s birth having kept them up all night, and they have a concert that afternoon in Yokohama. Shintarou wants desperately to skip it, but can’t because half of their fans still think their debut might be a dokkiri, especially after their debut single undersold Jesse’s random Christmas release by like 50,000.

“It isn’t my fault they let an-an design the covers!” Jesse always snaps at them guiltily when they bring it up. “I didn’t tell them to just tie a bow on me for the shop version!”

“You’re lucky he even had a bow on,” Maika comments. “Otherwise it would have been more like 500,000.”

Ren is a big-eyed and serious child, and the only one who looks anything like Maika. Shintarou frets about how it takes him ages longer to talk than either Shotarou or Julie, but his mother points out that everybody else in his house is so loud it’s not like he could get a word in edgewise even if he wanted to. When Ren does start talking, it’s practically in full sentences, and Morimoto-san says see, she told him so.

“Finally, somebody around here who thinks before they talk,” she says, patting Ren’s head in approval.

“No, you’re a monkey butt,” Shintarou is busy accusing Juri, Shotarou and Julie giggling helplessly. “Sorry, Mom, what did you say?”

Most of the time, Ren trails after his siblings, a quiet watcher of the insanity. Shintarou encourages him to be a little more outgoing, especially when starting school doesn’t change the situation, but Maika says leave him be, not to fuss over the kids so much. So it’s a surprise when Shintarou is driving Shotarou in to a dance practice and Ren pipes up from the backseat that he wants to go too.

“What?” Shotarou twists to look over his shoulder. “You’re too little, Philip.”

“Don’t call me that!” Ren kicks the back of Shotarou’s seat. “Can I, Dad?”

“You’re only seven,” Shintarou says, reluctant to agree with Shotarou about Ren being too little, even if he is right. He says they can go in and watch for a couple minutes, ignoring Shotarou’s whining that it’s embarrassing to bring his baby brother in. “Shush, brat, you don’t get to make all the rules.”

That night Shintarou tells the story to Maika, how they watched for a little bit and Ren asked when he’d be old enough to audition too, how odd a thing it is for him to ask when he’s so shy around people. “You’d think the last thing he’d want is a bunch of people watching him on TV.”

“He hates being left out even more,” Maika points out, making Shintarou frown thoughtfully. “Honestly, do you even know your own kids? And besides, you were the most awkward turtle on earth for like five years and they still paid you to stand there and refuse to sing.”

“Hey now,” Shintarou says, a little hurt. Maika kisses his cheek and says there, there, surely Johnny-san must know how to handle Morimotos by now.

Ren is surprisingly persisted about his request, egged on by Juri and also Hokuto, who just wants some cute birthday twin spotlight footage on their next concert DVD. They make it until Ren is nine and Shotarou is fifteen before Shintarou gives in and says he can send in an application. He’s only delaying the inevitable, he knows. Jesse accuses him of just wanting to keep his tiniest brat in JE record intact.

It’s no surprise when Ren makes it in on the first try. The surprise is how quickly Shotarou mellows out about it, making Ren practice with him in the living room after dinner, Julie and sometimes Ryutarou sitting on the couch and dismissively critiquing their style. It’s no big deal, Shotarou says when Shintarou presses him about it, it’s just that he’ll get some extra screen time and magazine pages out of having an adorable little brother.

“Plus it’ll make me look stupid too if he sucks,” Shotarou adds, and Shintarou affectionately calls him a mercenary.

“Hi,” Ren says, tapping Taiga’s shoulder during Shounen Club practice lunch break. Taiga looks up from his lunch and his host’s script, blinking.

“Hi, Ren-kun,” he answers. “First practice?”

“Uh-huh.” Ren bobs his head. They’ve got him in a hot pink smock that Taiga is sure he wore himself at least two dozen times. “I’m in the Fresh Jr. segment. Can I say you’re my favorite senpai?”

“Me?” Taiga asks, puzzled. He glances around, but doesn’t see anyone else from the idiot squad lurking about waiting to jump out and laugh at him. “Not your dad? Not Juri or Hokuto?” Ren shakes his head. “Sure? You don’t have to ask my permission, kiddo. You can say anybody you want.”

“I’m gonna say you,” Ren tells him, and when filming rolls around, sure enough, he does.

“Whoa, surprising! Why?” Yasui, Taiga’s co-host for the filming, asks Ren.

“Because Taiga-senpai is cool-type,” Ren answers succinctly, much more clearly than the other ten and eleven-year-olds have been mumbling their answers. “And his dad is on TV a lot, like mine. So I want to be cool-type like Taiga-senpai.”

“Uwah, Ren-kun is pretty cool-type already, right?” Yasui asks, making the audience laugh and coo over how cute Ren is, how cute Taiga’s little flustered faces are. “Ren-kun, can you do an impression of Taiga-kun?”

Ren looks right at the camera and does a perfect imitation of Taiga’s kissy wink face from their debut PV, making Yasui nearly double over laughing and Taiga whine at the accuracy of it.

“You planned that!” Taiga accuses when they’re off-stage.

“Yup,” Yasui agrees easily, wrapping an arm around Ren’s shoulders, both of them grinning at Taiga. Taiga grumbles at them good-naturedly as Yasui slaps Ren on the back and saunters off to torment the next group on the interview bench.

Taiga is surprised when Ren lingers long enough to hug him around the waist.

“You really are my favorite, though,” Ren informs him with a shy smile.

“Oh,” Taiga says, still a little surprised. “Well, thank you.”

If nothing else, at least he can brag about this in front of the others.

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