Word count: 2,086
Pairing: Shige/Massu (NEWS), mentions of Shige’s various exes
Warning: Non-linear timeline
Summary: After a series of failed celebrity relationships, Shige proclaims he will only date ordinary people from now on. Massu is troubled.
Notes: Written for je_ficgames 2012 as part of Team Present (the winning team!). ♥ First posted here. Big hugs to grydo2life for beta-ing this at the last minute! Can’t thank you enough.
“That’s it.” Shige slammed his glass on the bar counter, a note of finality in his voice. “From now on, I’m not dating any more celebrities.”
Tegoshi responded to this announcement by bursting into high-pitched giggles, apparently already far more drunk than Shige is, while Koyama threw nervous glances around them, worried that the other bar patrons might be listening in on their conversation. Massu, on the other hand, remained still as he tried to process what Shige had just said.
“You’re saying...?” He stopped midway, unsure of what he intended to ask, a jumble of thoughts running through his mind.
“I’m saying I’ll only go out with ordinary people. No more celebrities or anyone in the entertainment business.”
“But you always date celebrities,” Tegoshi said after his fit of giggling had subsided.
Shige gave him an icy look. “Well, not anymore. I’ve had enough of this shit. I’m done, I’m telling you.” With that, he picked up his glass again and downed the rest of his drink in one gulp.
Massu didn’t talk much through the remainder of the night. After they said their farewells, Shige and Tegoshi stumbled into a taxi together while Koyama and Massu decided to take the subway.
As Koyama’s train slid into view at the end of the tunnel, he patted Massu’s shoulder and said, “I’m sure it’s just a phase. He’ll get over it soon.”
It was good Massu hadn’t had too much to drink, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to school his face into a neutral expression. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Koyama simply smiled. “Sure. See you later, Massu.”
Sometimes, Massu just hated how Koyama knew everything.
Shige had complained about celebrity relationships before, but that hadn’t stopped him from going out with his previous beau, a stage actor he’d met through the director of one of the plays he starred in. He had introduced the guy to the members and he seemed very nice according to Koyama, who always had something good to say about everyone. Tegoshi complimented the man’s approachable demeanor and his taste in TV shows — he mentioned watching Tegoshi in Itte-Q. Massu, thinking it would seem suspicious not to offer a comment, said he was dressed pretty neat (which, in Massu-speak, meant he looked boring, but Shige was too preoccupied to notice).
All in all, things seemed to be going well. Until they weren’t.
Shige didn’t reveal much to the members, although Massu assumed he talked about it to Koyama privately. But occasionally he let slip a few things that hinted at a less than rosy situation. Massu remembered hearing him complain about how his boyfriend refused to hang out at certain places, saying it was “too public,” or how he backed out on going to Shige’s book signing event.
After a while, Shige started mentioning his boyfriend less and less and stopped bringing him to meet the members. Massu could sense that the pressures of the relationship were starting to wear the couple down.
It would be a lie to say that Massu expected them to last long together. But still he was surprised when Shige said, stony-faced, that they had broken up. That was several days before his announcement at the bar.
Massu lifted his eyes to the floor-to-ceiling mirror and found his own reflection next to Tegoshi’s. They were trying on matching sequined suits in preparation for a performance. Tegoshi ran his fingers through his bleached blonde hair, a characteristic I’m-so-stunning-it’s-ridiculous look on his face. Massu’s reflection beside him paled in comparison, looking almost normal.
“Yeah?” Tegoshi mumbled as he swiveled around to critically assess his backside.
“Do you think I look ordinary?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you know how people often say I don’t seem like an idol.” Massu tried to keep his tone nonchalant, as if this were just one of his random musings. “They say I’m like the guy next door. An ordinary person.”
Tegoshi turned to him and in his stare, Massu recognized an alarming tinge of sympathy.
“Never mind,” Massu blurted out before walking away to change.
“Massu,” Tegoshi called out to him, but Massu thought he might not want to hear what Tegoshi had to say. The last thing he could deal with right now was pity from yet another NEWS member.
The most memorable of Shige’s celebrity boyfriends, at least for his band mates, had been one that no one had seen coming. He was Kanjani8’s Maruyama.
“You’re dating Maruyama-kun?” Tegoshi asked, dubious. “Aren’t you like best buddies or something?”
Shige shrugged, a vague smile on his face. “Friendships change.”
None of the other members were entirely convinced, but reality began to sink in after they saw Shige and Maruyama spending time together at Shige’s apartment more frequently. Koyama told Massu he started to avoid going to Shige’s, worried that he might catch the pair in the middle of something he shouldn’t see.
“I wouldn’t be able to look at a Kanjani8 PV the same way again if I did,” he said.
Luckily, Koyama’s eyes were never sullied, as he only saw Maruyama at Shige’s place watching movies or doing other activities of the non-sexual variety. He and Shige were good at keeping private things private. That included their eventual breakup.
The members only found out much later, after Shige almost nonchalantly mentioned he wasn’t dating Maruyama anymore. His explanation was just as succinct as the one he offered when they first got together. “We decided we were better off as friends.”
And it seemed they really were, because they actually became closer than ever after the split. Maruyama still referred to Shige fondly as “Shige-chan” and Massu continued to see them together, their eyes locked while deep in conversation, a smile blossoming on Shige’s face as Maruyama whispered something in his ear.
Massu’s emotional predicament was momentarily disrupted by a different kind of problem. His parents had decided it was the right time of year to carry out home repairs; their house was almost as old as Massu and it was threatening to fall apart. His mother and father chose to settle at a hotel during the three week-long renovations, while Massu’s sister opted to stay at a cousin’s house.
Massu didn’t really feel like joining either camp, and he mentioned this to the other members one afternoon, hoping to segue into a request to crash at Koyama’s place. But Koyama’s eyes lit up and he said, “You can stay at Shige’s!”
“That’s an excellent idea!” Tegoshi joined in. “Right, Shige?”
“Actually,” Massu began, “I was thinking about Koyama...”
“My nephews come to my apartment all the time,” Koyama said. “They’re cute as buttons, but they tend to make a mess. I’d hate to subject you to such clutter.”
Massu turned to Tegoshi, but he had barely opened his mouth before the latter said, “My dogs have been such pains lately. Yapping all day and night, you wouldn’t be able to sleep. Besides, my place is smaller than Shige’s.”
“Shige has a really nice guest room,” Koyama said.
“I do, as a matter a fact,” Shige said, finally getting a chance to put a word in. “You can come and stay for a bit if you have nowhere else to go.”
Both Tegoshi and Koyama had huge conspiratorial grins on their faces, and Massu wondered how Shige remained completely clueless.
Living with Shige was easy. Massu got used to Shige’s daily routine fairly quickly, getting up the same time as he did and having breakfast with him. If they arrived home at the same time, Shige cooked dinner for the both of them. Massu felt guilty being spoiled with such delectable meals so he started chipping in for groceries.
Occasionally they went out to town when they didn’t have work, but more often they spent a quiet night watching DVDs. Sometimes they just sat and talked about nothing or everything.
One night Shige opened a bottle of wine on a whim and shared it with Massu. After one glass too many, Massu found himself bold enough to ask Shige, “Was it really difficult, dating fellow celebrities?”
Shige was silent for a long moment before replying, “Every relationship has its problems.” It didn’t seem like he was finished, so Massu waited until he continued.
“I thought I would be the one more worried about keeping a gay relationship under wraps. But it often turned out that... the other party was more concerned. I got tired of endlessly being reminded about our ‘social position’ and the ‘public opinion.’” He made air quotes around certain phrases.
“It’s not that I think things will immediately be easier with ordinary people, but at least I hope they’ll be less strung up. And they’ll think of me as a person first rather than a celebrity.”
Massu stared at Shige’s profile, but the words he longed to stay remained stuck in his throat.
I think of you as a person first.
The first guy Shige had ever dated was an actor from another agency. Shige was very quiet about it, and understandably so, considering it was a first for him. Massu never saw the couple together or even knew the guy’s name. When Shige finally revealed it to him, Massu was stunned.
“Him?” he said. “Didn’t he...”
Shige nodded. His face had the noticeable glow of someone in love. “You remember him, right? He had a small role in our season of Kinpachi-sensei. Nothing happened back then — well, we were just kids, after all. But I met up with him several months ago and things just sort of happened.”
He said a few more things but Massu barely paid any attention. In the future Massu would clearly remember this moment and the thoughts that subsequently went through his head, swirling endlessly into a black hole.
A guy from Kinpachi-sensei? Seriously?
It could have been me.
It should have been me.
At night Shige sometimes excused himself to sit in front of his computer and write. He told Massu not to mind him and go to bed as he wished. One night Massu woke up to go to the bathroom and saw Shige asleep at his writing desk, arms folded under one cheek.
Instead of rousing him, Massu put a comforter around his shoulders, taking a few quiet moments to watch his slumbering face. Shige’s eyebrows were scrunched together as though he was figuring out a complex plot point in his dreams.
Whether it was a devil or an angel who whispered the thought into his mind, Massu wasn’t certain. The next thing he knew he was bending over, lips gently pressing over Shige’s slightly open mouth.
He barely had time to savor the moment, to imprint the taste of Shige’s lips into his mind, before he felt Shige stirring. He backed off.
Massu watched as Shige opened his eyes, saw Massu there, and lifted his head from the desk. Shige’s fingers immediately went to his lips. “What was... did you...?”
Massu could think of little else to say but, “I’m sorry,” and then, because he was already knee-deep in anyway, “I like you.”
It took a while for Shige to take it all in, and when he did he heaved a long, sad sigh and said, “Oh, Massu.”
Massu wasn’t sure what that meant, but at least Shige wasn’t angry at him.
“Since when? Why didn’t you say anything?” Shige asked.
“A few years now. Because I’m stupid.” Massu cast his gaze downward. “And I’m not ordinary.”
“You only want to date ordinary people now, right? So I’m out of the question.”
He didn’t consider his statement at all funny, so he was surprised to see Shige’s lips curling into a grin.
“Why are you smiling?” he asked.
“Because you’re silly, Masuda Takahisa. And you’re definitely not ordinary,” Shige said, his eyes twinkling gently. “In fact, you’re rather special.”
When Shige moved to stand up, he noticed the comforter around his shoulders. Still smiling, he wrapped it more snugly around himself and stepped closer until he and Massu were face to face.
“It’s pretty late. Let’s go back to sleep and talk about this more in the morning.” He leaned forward until Massu’s ear was only inches from his mouth and murmured, “I’m not writing you off just yet.”
The warmth of Shige’s breath lingered even after he walked past Massu to his room. A smile slowly creeping on his face, Massu thought he couldn’t wait for the morning to come.