also, you guys on the meme. ;__; thank you for your suggestions and everythings. ♥ *treasures like my preciousss~*
title: a little like like
verse: tsukada, totsuka; 1635w; PG
notes: because there really just needs to be more tsukada in fic. :D /guilty of this neglectful crime also. some elements (like the staff showing them tsukada's photos... xD) taken from enshinge's wonderful translations.
They are all, Totsuka tells himself quite firmly (repeatedly), too old and industry-jaded for crushes, or should be. But it's not love exactly, the way he likes Tsukada.
It's probably nothing Hashimoto would understand yet...
A vague kind of I want to be like you, dating back half a lifetime. And more recently, I want to stay with you. For at least another half-lifetime to come.
The question indeed comes up with Hashimoto, who is still at the age of school-yard intrigues.
"Yes, Hasshi?" Totsuka says, not looking up from the notes on his script.
Hashimoto is silent for a bit, looking over Totsuka's shoulder. Totsuka can tell where the boy is up to on the page by the way he tilts his head at difficult kanji and pouts at the Roman letters. "Blehhh~ why do you have to use English words like that?"
"Is that the question you want answered?" Totsuka asks.
"Oh." Hashimoto blinks. "No. I was gonna say..." He looks around and drops his voice furtively. Smiles all conniving. "...d'you like Tsuka-chan?"
Totsuka gives him a blank look. "Of course?"
"Nooo, no no~" Hashimoto says, leaning in even closer. "I mean like... like like, right?"
"..." Fairness, Totsuka decides, is something important for senpai to have. He sets down his script in order to give ABC's youngest an honest answer (though the fact he can't say no outright may be telling enough). "I... suppose..."
It starts with his skill.
Even some time after being inducted into the Junior ranks, there remain only three people Totsuka finds himself genuinely impressed by. One is Johnny himself. One is Takizawa Hideaki. And the third is Tsukada Ryoichi.
To Totsuka's young eye, Takizawa is practically a god incarnate, and Johnny is something else; but Tsukada makes an impression because he's young—younger than Totsuka even, if only just. He's a fellow Junior whose group is called BIG even though they're all really small, and above all he is batshit crazy.
Totsuka had no idea someone could even get that high without a trampoline.
When the Acrobatic Boys Club is first formed, Totsuka's the odd one out. Koshioka and Tatsumi have worked together before, as have Tsukada and Kawai. Still, it isn't the older ones Totsuka looks to. "Yoroshiku!" he grins right Tsukada's way, and he's never meant the Please teach me part of it so much in his life (even if the I'm in your hands part ends up counting for more in the long run).
There's something necessarily a little different about relationships where you're literally catching each other before you fall, on a daily basis.
It starts with his strength.
For the umpteenth time, Totsuka's flat on his back, feet beaten, ego bruised and also ten times vice versa. He's tired and winded and stares up at the ceiling unable to muster the will to move. "I want to die~♪"
Across the room somewhere, Kawai laughs like a monkey and Goseki tells him sternly, "Concentrate."
Then Tsukada pops into Totsuka's field of vision somewhere just past his toes, grinning and dripping sweat all over the shop. "Giving up already, Tottsu?"
"No," Totsuka lies. (The truth is he can't even find enough muscles to frown.)
"Okay," Tsukada says happily. "Then let's try landing it again~" He reaches his hand out and waits patiently, patiently, smile unwavering; and finally Totsuka groans and grabs Tsukada's strong hand, and Tsukada hauls him up with ease. "Good job! Second wind~ bonus points today!"
"Only because your chin was dripping on my leg, okay?!" Totsuka says, exaggeratedly indignant just to see Tsukada laugh. And Tsukada does laugh, hearty and hale somehow like they haven't even started yet.
Totsuka doesn't ask what Tsukada's on.
In truth, he wants it for himself.
It shatters with his surreality.
Along the way, calling the doctor becomes sort of a running joke.
The jimusho has trained first-aiders on staff of course, because sometimes people accidentally collapse their lungs and things like that. Totsuka breaks his nose once or twice, and would have an easier time naming joints he hasn't sprained in the name of practice. His fingers have swollen tomato-ish from being trod on, and he has a little scar on his ankle from Kawai's two front teeth—not that Kawai ever bit him on purpose, but split-second timing takes a while to master.
Tsukada's always the one that calls for help because he's indestructible.
Except for the one time that... Totsuka's not even sure how it happens, really. Flying, crash landing, and Tsukada doesn't get up, doesn't move, on the floor like a limpet with his foot facing the wrong way, and Totsuka can smell the memory of blood in the back of his own throat. He gags.
Kawai tears off toward the sickbay yelling as Totsuka fumbles out his cellphone and tries several times to bring up his address book. In the end, Goseki calmly stands from Tsukada's side and plucks the phone from Totsuka's fingers.
"He's probably just concussed. Broken leg. Don't move him."
Totsuka, full of he's-not-even-sure-what like panic probably, and fear, says, "But but you don't understand, it shouldn't be possible!"
Goseki just gives him a strange look, phone to ear. "He is human, you know," he says, and turns away. "Ah, Aoi-sensei? Yes..."
It stays with his smile.
It's the first time they're apart for so long. A month? More? Totsuka isn't sure, because ABC are in Kansai for stage and the days all blur together.
Tsukada's back home in Kanagawa being useless with his leg in plaster. They don't see him for a while.
Occasionally, one of their phones will buzz. A picture message for Kawai for instance, [img:chapstick]. Text: for you!! hahahaha ^_- Or a hundred bonus points awarded to Goseki-sama for no discernible reason. One day, Totsuka receives a picture of a hand with the caption: cats have nine lives, you know!!!!
It makes no sense but just like that Totsuka's fatigue evaporates, and he smiles even if he has no idea what to message back yet apart from Are you crazy?. They all know Tsukada is.
Later that afternoon they have a magazine interview with familiar staff from Kantou, who scroll through their SLRs for the pictures of Tsukada they'd taken earlier in the week. Just for ABC.
"Ohhh, so that's what he looks like these days!" Kawai laughs, and Goseki observes another hairstyle change.
In every single photo though, Totsuka thinks Tsukada looks the same as ever.
He wishes he could smile like that while away from everyone, but the fact that Tsukada hasn't changed... the thought gives Totsuka strength. He messages back that night from his hotel cot: I definitely earned bonus points today. Thanks to you! So thank you.
Tsukada writes back: i am a ninja of the Hidden Sand!! ^_- and Totsuka laughs without argument.
"I guess I do," Totsuka tells Hashimoto. "Like him, I mean. Even if it's probably not the way you think." Hashimoto may not quite get it yet, but that still doesn't mean he's wrong.
Tsukada's just one of a kind, that odd mix of grounded in the sky and quirky smile, childish air and mesmerising skill. Selfish and selflessly generous...
"No, I think I know exactly how you mean," Hashimoto says so sincerely that for a moment Totsuka blinks at him in surprise.
But then Hashimoto grins and giggles and says, looking conspiratorially around the room, "Okay! Time for Phase 6B!"
And it's no longer surprise Totsuka's blinking with after that. "...Hasshi, what exactly are you doing?"
Honesty, he remembers a touch too late, is only a good policy with a little discretion and discretion has never really been ABC (or their Z)'s strong suit.
"Man, I feel like some good yakiniku!" Tsukada exclaims, reaching skyward in Kismai's dressing room as if a dish of it floats in the air near the ceiling. Totsuka only pays half a mind as Kitayama rattles a few restaurant recommendations off the top of his head, and Yokoo adds a couple more.
"What do you think, Tottsu?" Tsukada asks, and Totsuka looks up.
"I think let's go to the one by your house," Tsukada grins. "I like the one by your house."
"Sooo~ far!" Hashimoto complains loudly (a sentiment echoed by Yokoo and Kawai and Fujigaya), but Tsukada just smiles his ninja smile and for once Totsuka can't quite decipher it.
Kitayama looks from Totsuka to Tsukada, then to Hashimoto before sharing a glance with Goseki. And despite the fact he and Totsuka usually go home together, Kitayama says: "The rest of us can go to Yokoo-san's recommendation near here instead. I haven't tried it yet."
"It's good!" Yokoo assures. "And the owner's real nice—a friend of Kei-chan's."
"...see you tomorrow," Totsuka says on his way out, wrist in Tsukada's hand, and Hashimoto gives him a too-enthusiastic wave and excitable thumbs up. Totsuka's stomach sinks. "Thanks... for your hard work."
"So hey," Tsukada says without preamble (he's never had to do the cartwheel before the no-hands backflip after all). "Hasshi said something interesting today."
"Which instance?" Totsuka chuckles dryly. They're standing toe-to-toe on the train, speaking just loud enough so the creaks and rattles of their carriage are background noise to the murmur of their voices.
"Ah. I guess the one where he said maybe you like me?" Tsukada offers, candid.
Comedy-style, Totsuka duly thuds a palm to his forehead to cover the fact his brain has just stalled. School-yard intrigues, he reminds himself. That's all. "...that boy just says whatever he likes."
"He doesn't lie though," Tsukada grins. "He's like Fumi and me! It's only you and Gocchi that are the tricky ones. So were you lying?"
Totsuka shakes his head with a wry smile. "I don't think so?"
"See, what's with that tricky!" Tsukada laughs. "There's nothing to 'think' about 'like,' you know."
"It sounds so simple when you say it like that," Totsuka chuckles. He's envious, a bit. Tsukada's a simple kind of guy.
"Isn't it, though?" Tsukada grins. "I like you too, and that's everything there is to it!"
Totsuka gives a fond look. "You know, I guess you're right."
The thing with Tsukada is that, no matter what, with the smile in his eyes comes the promise of a happy ending.