A tissue packet dropped from above to land on Shige's textbook, and he didn't even have to look up to know that Ryo was standing beside him. "Stop giving me your trash," he said, brushing the tissues onto the table with an absent hand.
"I'm not. Take a closer look."
Shige picked up the packet to peer at it. The tissues were advertising a florist's shop three or four streets over from the jimusho, and Shige shook his head in disbelief.
"Are you serious? Do you actually think Koyama's such a pushover that all it would take is a dozen roses to make him forgive me?"
Ryo rolled his eyes. "Are you really stupid enough to not realize that he wants to know he still matters to you?"
"He knows that I care," Shige said stiffly.
"How? As far as I can tell, the only thing you've done to apologize is not stick your tongue down any more groupies' throats. Which I'll admit is a good starting point, but maybe you could aim just a little higher."
"I've talked to him...apologized. He knows how I feel."
Ryo shrugged. "Whatever. Your business," which, yes, exactly, and why couldn't he have had that revelation five minutes ago, before Shige developed a headache and bad mood that would last him the rest of the day?
Shige gave him a curt nod and pulled his textbook a bit closer, trying to get back in the right frame of mind for studying. He was on his third reread of a pointlessly complex sentence when Ryo sat across the table and shoved a cup of tea towards him.
"Your throat sounded a little rough yesterday," he said awkwardly.
"Yeah." Shige stared at the tea and tried not to examine the small, unexpected kindness too closely. Crying into his teacup would only embarrass them both, and it certainly wouldn't do his throat any favors. "Thank you."
"I love you," Shige said, hearing his voice come out raw and ugly.
Koyama looked at him, eyes overbright. He didn't say anything.
The silence stretched out, and the only thing worse than Koyama not saying it back was the look on his face, understanding and apologetic. Shige nodded finally and forced his voice to steady even though he could taste tears at the back of his swollen, painful throat. "Okay," he said, and, inexplicably, that was what it took to make Koyama's terrible, kind face crumple.
"No!" he said. "Shige. It's not that I don't. It's just...I can't say it right now. Love doesn't mean anything without trust, and my trust in you is--"
"Gone," Shige said, but Koyama shook his head.
"Not gone. Maybe just...a little broken."
Shige snorted. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"I have to make you feel better now?" Koyama asked, raising one eyebrow, and Shige flushed hotly.
"It's okay," Koyama said, endlessly, absurdly generous, and Shige felt like shit all over again. "I have to go now. I'll see you at work tomorrow."
"See you," Shige managed and stood in the hallway watching as Koyama put on his shoes and left.
"I think you and Koyama are blowing this whole thing out of proportion."
"I mean, for fuck's sake, you kissed somebody. I'm not saying it was the right thing to do, but still. It doesn't actually count as cheating unless there are orgasms."
Shige raised an eyebrow. "Can I tell Uchi you said that?"
"Sure. If you want," Ryo said with forced nonchalance, and Shige didn't even try to not laugh at his obvious discomfort. "Shut up. The point is, it's been two weeks. Both of you need to get over it. Though I still think flowers couldn't hurt."
"It was a little more than a kiss," Shige admitted. "Not like... But, yeah, Koyama's right to be upset."
Ryo frowned at him, but he didn't ask.
"All of you are, really," Shige said. "I'm not surprised that Koyama didn't worry about the potential scandal. But what about the rest of you? Nishikido, I fucked up so badly. Why aren't you furious?"
"We were," Ryo said. "But Yamapi said to keep quiet about it, that yelling at you wouldn't help matters. Plus, it's not like you make a habit out of this or anything. What is this, your second scandal ever? And it could've been a lot worse."
"It still could," Shige said quietly.
Ryo grinned. "Yeah, but we've already forgiven you, so you're safe. From us, anyway."
His eyes unfocused for a moment, the smile slipping from his face, and then he said, "And also... Look, I'm not just saying this 'cause I'm, well, me, okay? Yamapi said almost the same exact thing when he first told us, and Massu and Tegoshi agreed. So. You should've been more careful, but it's not like you did something wrong. Or, well, it was wrong, but only because of Koyama, not anything else. We're not going to hate you because of one mistake."
Shige blinked. At best, he'd expected grudging support, given out of some combination of self-interest and shared history. To instead find acceptance was almost overwhelming. "Thanks," he said, a little uncertainly.
"No problem." Ryo grinned again. "Besides, odds are KAT-TUN will do something even more outrageous next week. No one's going to care about your little scandals when they're our competition for the news cycle."
The worst part was that Koyama kept smiling at him, friendly and polite, even the very first morning after Shige's confession. He'd smile, but he wouldn't talk to him beyond the bare minimum, and, a week later, Shige had begun to wonder if this was it. If Koyama had used the time to disengage, and this impersonal geniality was all they had left.
"Have we broken up?" he asked abruptly during their midmorning break, while Yamapi and Ryo went outside to share a quick cigarette and Massu and Tegoshi made a beeline for the bathroom.
Koyama looked up from the book he was reading, his eyes wide and startled. "What? No."
"Because we aren't going to, or because you haven't gotten around to it yet?"
"I don't know," he said, and Shige sucked in a sharp breath, feeling the words like a physical ache in his chest. "No, sorry, I didn't mean that," Koyama said hastily. "I just meant, I don't know for sure if we're going to stay together. I promise I'm not sitting around waiting for the right time to dump you."
"But you could break up with me tomorrow if you decide you really can't forgive me, right?"
"Stop saying that," Koyama said plaintively. "I'm here, aren't I?"
"You work here."
Koyama smiled, and this time the smile actually looked real. "No, I mean I'm here," he said, gesturing at the room, at the two of them in it. "I'm not... I don't know how long it'll be before I can trust you again. But I'm not going to give up on you. You're still my friend."
"Friends talk to each other sometimes."
"Yeah, well, you're my friend who I'm really pissed at," Koyama said, startling a slightly watery laugh out of Shige. "But that last part's only temporary. The 'friend' part's forever."
The boy had been really hot. Maybe a year or two younger than Shige, but a few centimeters taller; red streaks in his dark hair; smooth skin, damp with sweat under Shige's fingers. He'd been wearing loose jeans anchored to his hips by a heavy metal belt, and Shige had palmed the small of his back, slid the tips of his fingers under his waistband. Felt the boy's hard cock pressing against his hip through the layers of fabric between them.
Shige had been hard, too, and the small corner of his mind that wasn't preoccupied with the boy's soft, sweet mouth and distracting fingers had been trying to figure out how far he could push this, the boy, himself. How close to the edge he could get without risking a fall. And then he'd glanced up and seen Tegoshi's shocked face over the boy's shoulder, and the realization of what he was doing hit him with an almost physical force.
Shige pushed the boy away with shaking hands, stammered out an apology that probably hadn't even been audible over the loud music in the club. The boy had been good about it, though. He'd nodded and smiled, squeezed Shige's shoulder companionably before slipping back into the crowd.
"Are you drunk?" Tegoshi asked, leaning close to be heard.
Shige shook his head. "Three beers." Enough to be buzzed, but not nearly enough to excuse what he'd just done. If anything even could excuse it.
"Shige." Tegoshi took his hand, clutching it with his small, sweaty fingers. "Shige. That was so stupid of you."
Ordinarily, a statement like that would provoke an explosion, except that, one, Tegoshi's voice was high and scared, and, two, he was completely right. The club was dark, and Shige wasn't exactly the most memorable face in Johnny's, but it would only take one blurry cellphone picture to destroy everything.
"I know," he said through numb lips.
"Shige. Somebody could have seen you, or that boy could talk to the tabloids. Not even the tabloids. He could post something to a blog; he could tell his friends."
"I know. I don't... I..."
"Shige?" Tegoshi asked, his frightened tone now laced with concern, and Shige shook his head impatiently.
"What do I do?"
Tegoshi didn't answer for a long moment, and Shige wrapped his free arm around his own waist, trying desperately to hold himself together. If the circumstances had been different, he'd have swallowed his pride and asked for a hug, but he couldn't demand comfort for his own fuck-up. The handholding was excusable only because Tegoshi obviously needed it at least as much as he did himself.
"You have to tell Koyama," Tegoshi said at last, and Shige flinched. "No, Shige, listen. If this gets out, you can't have him hear it from somewhere else first. Right?"
Shige nodded reluctantly.
"Right. And I'll talk to Yamapi. He'll know if there's anyone we need to talk to in the company, or if there's anything we ought to do while we're waiting to see if this becomes an actual rumor."
Or actual news, Shige's mind supplied helpfully, and he found himself torn between gratitude to Tegoshi for his tactfulness and the desire to pound his own head against the wall, just to put himself out of his misery.
"Fine," he said, more in an effort to make himself focus than in real agreement.
"And Shige?" Tegoshi's fingers tightened, squeezing his hand almost painfully. "No matter what happens, we're all in this together."