Ueda exited his apartment with affirmative steps and a twirl of his keys on his index finger. What he had been told to expect to have waiting for him by the street curb was a taxi that would take him through the countryside, straight to a train station that housed the train en route to the shooting location he and the rest of KAT-TUN were scheduled to film at for a few days. It was a little out of the way, but nothing entirely unordinary.
However, as he draped his overnight bag over his shoulder, and stepped out into the crisp winter air, what was waiting for him in the aforementioned spot was anything but one of those familiar taxi cabs. Instead, it was Kamenashi, lounging in the driver's side of his car, expectantly thumbing through a pamphlet of some sort. Confusion overrode annoyance, and Ueda approached the vehicle with caution, lightly tapping the window to gain his bandmate's attention. Almost without looking, Kamenashi clicked the button to roll down the window, immediately giving him a quick explanation to nullify the need for pleasantries or inquiries.
"I volunteered to drive to the station. It's cheaper, and we'll get there faster."
Ueda's expression tightened. That didn't answer all the questions he had, but it wasn't like asking more would change anything. This seemed set in stone already.
A swift toss of his bag into the backseat, the sound of the window being rolled back up, and Ueda was stepping into the car. An afternoon spent riding alongside Kamenashi? There could be worse things, when considering alternatives.
"Did you just pick me up first?" Ueda finally voiced, watching absently as Kamenashi fiddled with the GPS device attached to his dashboard. His focus waned to the backseat, and then to Kamenashi again, as if he'd only just thought to check for something.
Kamenashi shook his head. "Taguchi and Nakamaru were already in their cabs."
"Then why bother with-" Now Ueda sounded (and felt) a bit annoyed, waving his hand on the air as if to imply the vehicle they were currently sitting in. "-all this?"
"I told you, it's cheaper and we'll get there faster."
"Speed doesn't matter if Taguchi and Nakamaru will get there later anyway."
Kamenashi sighed through his nose, letting Ueda's rebuttal hang on the air as he continued to type the destination into the GPS. Maybe he realized the truth of Ueda's argument, or maybe he didn't want to bother debating further. Ueda didn't particularly care. He was right anyway. That was all that mattered.
"We'll stop halfway at a conbini." Kamenashi eventually continued, when he'd pulled back out onto the street and began their travels.
Ueda buckled his seatbelt and stretched just so, gaze drawn out the window rather quickly. "Is it that far of a drive?"
The vibrations coming from the car's speakers were unsurprisingly tame. Ueda reached for the radio, wanting to change the station to something less melancholy, but Kamenashi's hand made quick work of nudging his calloused one away. "I like this song." He chided, noticeably offended that Ueda would even think to change it to something else.
Kamenashi shot him a warning look. "Then listen to your ipod."
"Maybe I will."
Ueda had said it as an act of defiance, knowing that Kamenashi loved conversation, but there came no attempt to stop him, as he fished the device from his bag in the backseat, and went to plug his ears. Three seconds, then four, a whole minute even, and Ueda chanced a look Kamenashi's direction. When he saw nothing but eyes concentrated on the road ahead, he gave a small frown and then turned on his music. Whatever.
Ueda wasn't sure how many songs had passed, but at some point there came a hand yanking out one of his earbuds, triggering his body to give a small jolt of surprise. The hell-
"Turn it down." Kamenashi sounded exasperated.
"Excuse me?" Ueda countered with anger.
Clenching his hands on the steering wheel, Kamenashi pulled to a stop at an intersection, returning his glare in full. "Turn it down. I can hear what you're listening to."
"What's wrong with that?"
"It's too loud."
"You're not the boss of me." That had come out decidedly less mature than intended, and it reflected clear in Kamenashi's expression.
Frustration passed between them, but Kamenashi conceded in the end by reaching for Ueda's ipod. "You can listen to the radio. It's no use trying to hear my music over your's."
Despite flecks of anger surging through his body, Ueda allowed Kamenashi to take the device from him. "Maybe if you listened to better music-"
"I'm not arguing with you."
Ueda clicked his tongue, watching his ipod being carelessly tossed into the backseat just seconds before Kamenashi continued with the drive. There was a lot he could have said back, but he fell silent instead, reaching for the radio to purposefully switch the station to something he knew would annoy Kamenashi. Unfortunately, no matter what he changed it to, he couldn't prompt a reaction from the suddenly stoic man in the driver's seat. He had to settle for something he liked, and leave it at that.
Unknown to him, Kamenashi found a begrudging enjoyment in the music as well.
There was an audible, semi-amused snort and then a warning. "I'll leave you here."
"Then leave me." Ueda's mumbled words, thick with remnants of sleep, were nothing but an automatic, hostile response, a way to avoid being fully woken up, even though he more or less was. But then he was blinking open groggy eyes and peering through the window he had been leaning on, taking in the sudden realization that the car was no longer moving. "Are we there already?"
"Conbini." Came Kamenashi's helpful reminder, before he slid out of the vehicle and shut the door behind him. Ueda groaned.
The most prominent temptation tugging at the edge of his mind was to shuffle down in his seat a bit more and fall victim to dreamland again, but a nagging sensation in the pit of his stomach told him if he didn't take the opportunity now, he would be stopping later to piss on the side of the road. It wouldn't have been a problem, if he weren't sharing a car with Kamenashi, and if it wasn't below freezing outside.
With an unhappy grunt, Ueda eased himself out of the vehicle as well. Kamenashi's back was only just disappearing inside the store, so he knew he had time, and yet after a quick stretch and a yawn, he was following suit.
"Are you hungry?" He only barely heard it over the hum of other customers going about their business.
"Huh?" Ueda sought Kamenashi out through the small crowd, hands jammed down into his back pockets for warmth.
"Are. You. Hungry." Kamenashi punctuated. That same sort of amusement was still apparent and Ueda affixed the other man with a half-hearted glare.
"I heard you the first time."
"Mm." His neutral agreement only brewed a more soured look from the older man.
It all melted away as Ueda laid eyes on the sorts of cooked food provided at this particular conbini. Everything smelled amazing, and he was suddenly reminded of how he'd skipped breakfast that morning. "Depends if you're paying."
Kamenashi seemed annoyed as he perused the food himself, with a similar look of interest. "I am."
Rather than say anything more, Ueda reached for a couple of items and handed them over abruptly. Now where was that bathroom?
Ueda had only just taken a couple of bites of his portion of food, when an elbow nudged against his. "Look." Kamenashi's voice sounded excited, and Ueda glanced sideways to look at him.
Before he could actually ask, he was spotting it too-- snow. There were flurries on the air in front of their car, dancing about before appearing to fly towards the windshield. Ueda's eyes drew wide, enamored by the sight. "I didn't know it was supposed to snow."
"Me either." Kamenashi agreed, suddenly made a bit more nervous.
Drawling another glance in Kamenashi's direction, Ueda ascertained that the younger man wasn't used to driving in this sort of weather. There wasn't much of it to be had where they lived, not usually, and Ueda could only suppose that when they were gifted with the icy precipitation, Kamenashi was more inclined to take a cab, or the bus, to wherever he needed to be. This thought made Ueda increasingly uncomfortable.
"Let me drive." He chanced.
Why did it seem more like Kamenashi was trying to convince himself?
"It'll probably pass soon." The younger man continued, and Ueda sunk back into his seat.
"If it doesn't?"
"We're fine." Kamenashi spoke again, tone taut.
Ueda bit back the opportunity to make a scathing joke, and turned his attention back on his food. Might as well enjoy his last minutes of life as much as he could.
Food finished, and death avoided (for now), Ueda had only just resolved himself to another nap when there was a prod of another kind (fingers now) digging into his ribcage. Grunting his disapproval, Ueda tried to ignore Kamenashi's efforts at first, but then those fingers were more insistent, curling and nudging and poking, until he had no choice but to snap something. "Can't you keep your goddamn hands to yourself?" Kamenashi had always been handsy, he'd known that, but that knowledge didn't make it any easier to put up with.
"Don't go to sleep." Kamenashi was just as annoyed, and Ueda noted the way his jaw clenched.
"Why?" Ueda muttered back.
"I hate your sleeping face." It was an excuse if he'd ever heard one. Kamenashi was still nervous about the falling snow.
"I hate your normal face." He returned anyhow, still mumbling.
The sound of Kamenashi's phone going off silenced them both, and Ueda thought he was in the clear for going back to sleep. No such luck.
"It's your phone."
"Ueda Tatsuya." Kamenashi hissed it like a mother scolding her child.
"Kamenashi Kazuya." Ueda mocked in a higher-pitched voice, until Kamenashi was forced to pick up the phone, balancing it between his shoulder and ear as he continued to drive. Ueda was expecting a scowl of some sort, but apparently Kamenashi really was too focused on the road to spare him a look around his phone. Good.
Ueda didn't bother to try and listen to what was being said. The tone of Kamenashi's voice indicated he was talking to someone from the agency-- probably their manager calling to check up on them.
Letting his gaze travel out the window again, Ueda was actually surprised at the level of white surrounding them now, as they wound through remote mountainous roadways. He hadn't been paying much (if any) attention, but those flurries had morphed into something more. If this continued, it was going to end up a snowstorm, and if Kamenashi had issues with driving now, Ueda could only imagine how things were going to change if that happened.
"We have a bit of extra time." Kamenashi interjected his thoughts, a little less irritated than he had been before his phone call. "Seems it's worse up ahead. Taguchi and Nakamaru's cabs are going to wait and see if it blows over before continuing."
"What does that mean for us?"
Kamenashi looked confused.
"Shouldn't we turn around?" Ueda clarified after a couple seconds.
"Forgive me if I don't want to make a u-turn on a steep mountain-side." Kamenashi's voice was sarcastic, but held that same uncertain glint. Ueda couldn't fault the logic.
"There's not even a decent place to pull over around here." Ueda muttered, more to himself than Kamenashi. The younger man nodded nevertheless, hands tightening on the steering wheel even more than they had been previously. "I can drive." In reality he'd be no better than Kamenashi as far as experience went, but at least he'd be less nervous.
"We're fine." Kamenashi repeated all over again, making Ueda click his tongue disdainfully.
"If we die, I'm gonna kill you."
As it turned out, Ueda's prediction-- and their manager's warning-- had been right. The further they went on this road, the worse the snowstorm became, until all they could see was white. Kamenashi's driving had slowed to a crawl despite Ueda's heated warning that they could be struck by some asshole blistering down the road.
"I don't know what you want me to do." Kamenashi hissed, shoulders tense.
"Pull the damn car over." Ueda growled back, seconds from reaching for the steering wheel.
"Where?" Desperate, Kamenashi's voice took on a higher pitch.
"Up ahead, I think there's a tourist spot."
How he knew that, Ueda didn't really know. Maybe he'd been looking too hard at the GPS device's map, or maybe he just had a heightened sense of intuition. Whatever it was, his guess was correct. A rest stop was within reaching distance, making it far easier for them to pull over and take a few moments to just breathe.
Working sweat-slick palms across his thighs, Kamenashi sagged back in his seat the very second his car was put in park. "You stress me out." He offered Ueda, who only gave a hollow laugh.
"We're even then."
Howling winds shook the car on either side, prompting both men to give a wary look down either direction of the road. They were going to be here awhile.
Half an hour passed, and the storm showed no signs of letting up. In the same way, there were no signs that this steep mountain pass was inhabited by anyone other than them right then. No cars, no animals, nothing except the powerful storm that had them stranded.
"My phone's not working." Ueda didn't know what had prompted him to check, but the suspicious lack of service bars didn't settle well in his stomach.
Kamenashi didn't bother to open his eyes, as he leaned heavily against his door. "Then get a new one."
Sinking down further into his own seat, Ueda returned the words with a scowl. "It's not that kind of not working." He grunted. Kamenashi's eyes blinked open then. "I don't have any service."
Sparked into action by that knowledge, Kamenashi went for his own phone sitting nearby. Unsurprisingly, he was quick to discover the same problem of his own device. No wonder they hadn't heard from anyone.
Ueda looked outside again. "Should we try to turn around?"
"That's a good one." Kamenashi quipped, fake chuckle and all, as he scrolled through his phone. It looked to Ueda like he was trying to find some way to restore the service bars, but he didn't bother to say anything about the futile efforts.
"Then what do you suggest?" Ueda demanded.
"We sit here and wait."
"I don't know!" Kamenashi snapped, tossing his phone into the cubby between them. "Service, I guess."
Leaning back, Ueda propped his feet on the dashboard. In any normal situation Kamenashi would have forced him from the lazy posture for the sake of his car's spotless interior, but it didn't seem as important in that moment. "We're going to run out of gas." He offered unhelpfully, in one final attempt to prove himself right.
This triggered a deep sigh from one seat over, and then nothing but silence reigned.
"We have to do something."
Ueda had been nearly dozing by the time Kamenashi's voice broke through the stillness within the car. Clearly the younger man hadn't been as absolved by the knowledge that there was, quite literally, nothing they could do. Maybe it was ingrained in his worrisome nature. Ueda was just as annoyed, whatever the cause.
"Ueda." It had been a whole minute. Points for Kamenashi.
"What do you propose we do?" He muttered dimly.
Silence again, and Ueda settled back.
"Let's walk back to the town."
Kamenashi's gaze settled on him expectantly, and Ueda met his eyes with sheer disbelief. "Impossible."
"No, Kame." He responded quickly, tugging absently at the frayed edge of some designer hole in his jeans.
Kamenashi was not to be outdone. "If we run out of gas, we're going to freeze to death."
"We have enough gas."
"We don't know how long it'll be before the storm lets up, or someone comes for us."
Ueda stopped at that, considering. There wasn't much he could say against it, in reality. Maybe they would have enough gas, maybe they wouldn't. The storm certainly didn't look like it was going to give way anytime soon, and it had already been almost an hour since they'd stopped.
With Kamenashi's eyes still deadset on him, Ueda gave in with another sigh. "If we die-"
"-you'll kill me, I know already." Kamenashi filled in the rest of the threat for him, which prompted Ueda to glower in his direction, before turning all his attention on his bag in the backseat. At least he had a lot of extra clothes to pad himself with.
"This is arguably the worst decision you've ever made." Ueda groaned, stride hugging the inward edge of the road as they made their descent through harsh wind and biting snow. To the right of him, even further to the curb was Kamenashi, who didn't think his petty comment was truly worth a response. That was okay. Ueda had more.
"Only challenged in placement by your decision to drive us to the station." He continued, to which Kamenashi finally spared him a look, but nothing more. Before he knew it, Kamenashi was staring off ahead of them again.
"It would be faster, he said. Cheaper, he said. Does it feel cheap and fast right now, Kamenashi? Does it?" Still no response. Maybe he was getting somewhere at long last. "Because we could have been in cabs right now, stopped in the last town, like Taguchi and Nakamaru. Instead, we don't even know if we'll make it there alive. Brilliant, really, when you think about it."
Ueda didn't really know why he felt the need to chastise the younger man with words more icy than their surroundings. The only thing he did know was that it seemed to make him feel better, and maybe even somewhat warmer.
"Like I knew this was going to happen." Kamenashi retorted, mumbled words from behind a scarf half-wrapped around his head.
"Did you even check the forecast?"
"Just shut up already. You're being annoying."
Stuffing his hands that much further in his pockets, Ueda laughed, long and void of amusement. "Annoying, huh." He parroted. "You just don't want to admit you were wrong."
Kamenashi stopped suddenly, turning around to face Ueda, which caused the older man to follow suit. Ueda could see narrowed eyes aimed at him, from just beyond that stretch of cloth and hair whipping in the wind. Though he inwardly remarked that it must sting Kamenashi to have his hair hitting frigid skin like that, he could only feel twisted happiness that something had finally come of his constant jibing. Maybe that was it. Maybe he wanted to fight. Passive aggression wasn't his thing-- not usually. That was more Kamenashi's speed.
"Why have you been such a jackass this whole time?" Kamenashi demanded, barely intelligible over the wind that suddenly picked up.
"I'm stuck with you, what else would I be?" The comeback came faster than intended, but Ueda sniped a laugh in soon after. This time his amusement was there and earnest.
For Kamenashi, the humor wasn't shared, and he stared Ueda down with certain lividity-- and maybe even a little hurt. It was percisely that emotion-- that realization-- that jostled something within Ueda, too. Had he gone too far? Of course he had. He always did. Kamenashi frequently did it too. It was just how their relationship was, how it had always been. Yet, there came no insult, no barbed quip, nothing to wound his ego as he seemed to have wounded Kamenashi's. Kamenashi simply turned back around and continued walking, Ueda forced to follow if he planned to keep up.
This wasn't the sort of emotion he wanted to die feeling.
It was maybe a few minutes later, or maybe even half an hour, it grew hard to tell as they followed the deserted road down the snowswept mountainside, but Ueda reflected on that simple thought for the entirety of it. More specifically, he reflected on how to change this feeling between them.
In a manner completely expected, there were few options to choose from, and even less that Ueda felt suited to try. He watched as Kamenashi shuddered in place, a few steps ahead of him, if only to prove some silent point. Again, passive aggression was definitely more his style. Kamenashi's predictability was amusing, something that Ueda liked to think he didn't possess. No, he definitely didn't have it.
If he did, then Kamenashi would have seen what was coming next. Surely.
A fistful of snow packed tight in his gloved hand, and in one quick motion, the cold powder was down the back of Kamenashi's jacket-- and his shirt too, straight to the skin.
"Tatsuya!" Okay, maybe he did know.
Ueda had half a second between the time Kamenashi was grappling for the back of his shirt and turning around, but it was just enough of a stretch for him to get another fistful of snow. This one was balled up tighter, and he launched it at Kamenashi's face the very second he was looking his way.
Oh if that resultant expression wasn't the best he'd seen in awhile! All scrunched up and offended, startled and embarrassed for being startled.
The older man let out a howl of laughter, genuine and loud, but still hard to hear over the roar of the storm.
"That's not funny!"
Kamenashi's prompt anger only made him laugh harder, and Ueda fought to stay standing, one hand at his gut and the other hung at his side. Somehow the younger of the two didn't find the sudden chill as humorous, and his hands were trying to make quick work of ridding his clothing, and his face, of all residue. "I could freeze to death! Do you want that?"
"Stop being-" Ueda's words choked up with laughter. "Stop being so dramatic!"
"I'm being realistic!"
No matter what Kamenashi said, it was lost in a series of stuttering, gasping laughs that reminded Kamenashi, albeit vaguely, of a hyena. It was so very Ueda, and so very irritating.
Letting out a huff, the younger man turned on his heel and continued walking, knowing that eventually Ueda would compose himself and catch up.
He wasn't entirely wrong.
Boots crunching in the snow, and Ueda hurried to get back to Kamenashi's side. Yet, his laughter hadn't fully subsided. No, it was now more like chortling, and Kamenashi's irritation only grew. "You're such a sadist." He bit out through clenched, chattering teeth.
Ueda simply snorted. "That makes you the masochist then?"
Kamenashi couldn't find a worthy retort to that, not at first. "I must be for thinking I wanted to spend the drive alone with you." He hadn't fully meant it, but it sobered Ueda's humor right up, something he'd thought he wanted.
"You're the insufferable one, not me." Ueda hissed, voice breathy.
Kamenashi was facing him again before he knew it, only this time, he remained a few steps ahead, and Ueda stopped instantly to maintain the set distance. "Oh, really?"
There was a faint pause, and Ueda almost started walking again. No matter how insufferable Kamenashi was, the storm was even moreso. He wanted to be away from them both.
"Forgive me if I don't share the opinion of a self-centered brat with an image complex." Kamenashi's bite was darker than before, threatening his insecurities. If Ueda had thought he'd seen hurt in those eyes before, he was almost sure of it now. This was the only explanation that could supercede this sort of attitude.
Ueda's nostrils flared with heated anger.
"Oh, I've got your attention now, do I?" The younger man challenged further, voice filled with false relief. "Finally! Maybe I can actually get through."
"Why don't you just say what you've got to say, and get it over with?" Ueda eventually growled, hands clenching from deep within the pockets he'd stuffed them in. "You don't have to be such a jerk."
"A jerk?" Kamenashi repeated, incredulous almost. "A jerk?" And again. Something about such a simple insult had really hit home, and Kamenashi surged forward with the intent to grasp the front of his coat. Ueda had no choice but to tense up, ready to retaliate, but no matter the serious emotions behind the gesture, mother nature didn't rule in favor of the man known as Kamenashi-- not this afternoon.
Kamenashi's foot caught on a particularly slick patch of snow and ice, and that was it. His hand only managed to skirt the front of Ueda's jacket before his feet promptly slid on the snow, sending him teetering, staggering backwards and then-- thud! Right in the snow, right on his back, right at the edge of the street. Ueda blinked, confused as he first tried to process what had transpired, but then he had no choice but to laugh again, louder, more sincere.
If Kamenashi had been embarrassed before, he was mortified now, and it only fueled his anger. "Stop it!" Ueda's laughter made things worse. He couldn't take it.
"Ueda Tatsuya!" Struggling back to his feet, Kamenashi watched the doubled over posture of the older man, seeing his face contort with obvious delight, and all he could think about was getting him to stop. Maybe a punch to the face, or the stomach. Or the groin. No, Kamenashi wasn't sure he'd even forgive himself for stooping that low. "Just shut up!"
The urge to walk off and leave him again was tantalizing, but no. Kamenashi wanted to force him to quit. He wasn't a pushover. He could handle this.
Teeth chattering, heart racing, and face flushed hot, Kamenashi's hand went for the snow. Scooping it up, he didn't even bother to form it into a packed ball. Almost in a single movement, he crossed the distance between them (carefully), grabbed for Ueda's shoulder with his free hand, and smushed the icy powder straight into that wide-open mouth. Ueda's resulting spluttering and coughing, hacking and hoarse huffing made Kamenashi feel self-satisfied, but it lasted for all of a second.
Ueda was quick to retaliate. He shoved Kamenashi back, and then leapt forward in pursuit, tackling the younger man into the snow by sheer force alone. "You've messed up now!" He proclaimed, and Kamenashi was confused when he didn't hear any anger. There was only more laughter. Was this a game to him?
It was. Ueda had long since forgotten about their predicament, maybe even their argument too. His sole purpose at the moment was to win this little snow battle, and somehow, some way, this feeling was translated over into the less enthused Kamenashi. Okay, so, maybe he could indulge him a bit. He had pride to defend. "You're the one who's messed up!" In more ways than one, Kamenashi noted inwardly.
Rolling, tussling, wrestling, shoving snow in whatever crevice and piece of clothing they could find on one another, it was through simple luck alone, that they were spotted by the vehicle trudging its way up the slope, slowly but surely. In fact, had they not been noticed, it was very likely they never would have spotted the car themselves-- and that would have been a whole other mess nobody wanted to think about.
They might not have heard the car, but they heard the stranger's voice, loud and clear. Both stopped suddenly, Kamenashi sobering immediately to the situation at hand, while Ueda, in contrast, continued to huff and puff, snickering himself back to rights.
"Are you okay?!"
Kamenashi was the first to his feet, dragging Ueda with him forcibly, snow coating them from head to toe. "We're fine!" The younger man returned, and words could do no justice to the amount of relief he felt upon realizing the gift they had been bestowed. Someone was here, someone was going to save them.
Ueda, too, felt relief, but to a lesser degree. They'd been having fun. Something about the way it had been cut off, felt far too soon, as evidenced by his continued chortling. The noise only earned him a sour look from Kamenashi, and a nudge telling him to speak. "Yes, we're fine!" He eventually ascertained, following Kamenashi's example of approaching the man and his vehicle.
It almost looked like the man wanted to ask what they had been doing, but thankfully he let that go, instead inquiring about something more pressing. "Were you stranded out here?"
Kamenashi was the one to explain their situation, while Ueda dusted his clothes free from snow-- as much as he could with it still falling in thick clusters from the sky. By the time the man was inviting them to ride with him back down the road, Ueda's dusting had moved to Kamenashi's clothes, as if trying to make them presentable. It didn't achieve that goal, but it did help curb his amusement. For now.
In the backseat of the man's car, after thanking him profusely for rescuing them, Ueda was left feeling almost euphoric. Laughter kept bubbling up now and again, and the more Kamenashi appeared to be annoyed with him for it, the more he laughed. Well, snickered.
"Will you stop it?" Kamenashi snapped under his breath.
Ueda rested his elbow on the side of the door, the back of his hand pressed into his mouth as if attempting to conceal his good humor.
At that precise moment Kamenashi realized that his words were only fueling the fire. "You're such a child." He huffed, slumping back against the seat. "It wasn't even that funny."
"It was-" Ueda began to protest, but it dissolved into a fit of giggles before he could finish.
"Are you brothers or something?" The man ventured from up front, tone joking.
Ueda's laughter increased, squeezing his eyes shut.
"Something like that." Kamenashi replied quietly, feigning a smile for the sake of being polite. "I wonder if you can guess who's the older brother."
The man gave a laugh, and Kamenashi sighed. What a day.
"We probably should have brought our bags with us."
Ueda made the observation as he lounged back on a rather comfortable hotel bed. One hand was resting at his side and the other clasped lazily on a television remote, cycling through the meagre amount of channels the room provided.
"Mm." Kamenashi hummed his agreement from the other bed, a stack of paperwork strewn out in front of him. "It was easier not to be weighed down, though."
Silence fell, and then Ueda added, "We didn't exactly make as much progress as we wanted anyway."
Kamenashi's shoulders tensed, far from missing the added chortle Ueda had given. "That was your fault, you know." He muttered, just for good measure. Not that he hadn't said it a half dozen times before, between actually making it back into the closest city, and explaining their particular series of events to their manager-- and the other members. Kamenashi could do without the 'I told you so' look coming from the former, and the incredulous 'you're lucky to be alive' from the latter.
But Ueda didn't seem to want to let it go.
"If you'd just lightened up some-"
"It wasn't a light situation, Tatsuya!"
Ueda sat a little taller, frowning as he looked over towards Kamenashi. For the moment, he said nothing, and Kamenashi took the opportunity to continue. "We could have died, and you just- You made it worse just throwing snow around like it was nothing!"
"You started that. I just put it down your shirt." Ueda was torn between irritation and amusement, and both of them only served to wind Kamenashi up further. Unfortunately for him, Ueda both realized that, and actually sort of liked it.
"It was the only way I could get you to shut up!" He hissed, fingers tightening on a piece of paperwork. "What if that man hadn't shown up?"
"But he did." Ueda pointed out quickly.
"I'll tell you what would have happened." Kamenashi continued tersely, as if Ueda hadn't interjected. "We would have had to walk the last five kilometers covered from head to toe in snow and God knows what else-- and that's if we didn't freeze to death on the way!"
An aggravated sigh sounded from the older man then, Ueda scooting to the edge of his bed. "You're too pessimistic."
Kamenashi seethed. "No, I'm being realistic. You don't think, Tatsuya."
"I think just fine!"
Ueda lost track of what he had been intending to do by moving off his bed, but the distant sound of running water reminded him; Shower. "Whatever." No, he wasn't giving in, he was just... forfeiting another hour of arguing, in favor of a nice, long shower.
When his hand landed on the bathroom door, something else occurred to him, and Ueda turned to look at Kamenashi again. It was almost as though they'd both forgotten what had just been said between them, as he noticed the younger man focused intensely on his paperwork once more. "Do you think they have a gym here?"
"Probably." Kamenashi offered back, tone absent.
Did the hotel have a gym? Why yes, yes it did. A quaint, nice one, in fact.
Did Ueda Tatsuya have the proper gym attire to wear to work out? Not quite.
Ueda picked at the edges of his shirt while ascending the staircase leading him back towards his shared hotel room. Well, that had been a bust. Maybe he should have thought about clothing before he'd traipsed his way down to look. It wasn't exactly worth it to go out and buy a spare pair of shorts and a shirt, when it may very well be tomorrow when he gets his overnight bag back from the depths of Kamenashi's, no doubt buried, car. At worst, it'd still only be a couple of days, as the forecast predicted.
"I'm coming in." He announced rather lazily, tugging the door open after one quick swipe of his hotel card.
The sound of shuffled papers and hurried movements caught his ear, but Ueda ignored them. Kamenashi was probably working hard on the same thing from earlier, whatever that was. "I forgot about not having any gym clothes." Ueda went on to explain, as though he thought Kamenashi would care.
Silence followed, and Ueda moved off towards the bathroom.
"So, why don't you ask Taguchi for some extra clothes?" Kamenashi eventually muttered, clearing his throat soon after. Ueda noted the way he was slouched over his work, posture somewhat abnormal.
"Too tall." Ueda returned thoughtfully, pausing to stretch.
"Mm." Kamenashi nodded, and Ueda continued walking. "Wait-" His hand had barely grazed the door before Kamenashi's voice called out again. "I was just about to get in there."
Ueda groaned in the back of his throat, taking a few extra seconds to figure out if it was worth fighting over. "Okay, okay." It wasn't. "But be quick, I want one too."
Seeming relieved, Kamenashi gathered his work up in a neat pile, and crossed the room to join him. "I'll be sure to use up all the hot water, though." And the door shut behind him. Ueda cursed under his breath.
"You better not!"
Laughter flowed from the bathroom. "Watch me!"
Ueda had half a mind to force the door back open, but he refrained. Instead, he clicked his tongue in annoyance, and wandered back towards his bed. Might as well see if anything interesting was on while he waited.
Twenty minutes later and the water was still flowing strongly, warm mist rolling out from under the bathroom door. Ueda wasn't sure if Kamenashi was actually going to make solid on his threat, but he hoped not.
More pressing than that, he really, really had a sudden urge to piss. It was probably the two bottles of water he had just downed. Probably.
"Kamenashi!" Ueda called from his spot on the bed, too comfortable to move if he didn't have to.
Of course there was no response. If Kamenashi could even hear him, Ueda probably couldn't hear his reply.
"Kamenashi!" That didn't stop him from trying again.
Still nothing, and Ueda made a small, unhappy sound. It wasn't like it'd hurt to take a quick piss with him in the shower. He could even thank Kamenashi with a grateful flush of the toilet when he was done, sending the water icy cold or scalding hot. Either was fine.
Hauling himself back to his feet, Ueda set his glasses aside on the nearby table, and wandered towards the bathroom, hardly deterred by the extra blurriness accompanying the lack of visual aid. "I'm coming in." He offered with a brief knock, but there was still no response. Maybe Kamenashi was really into his shower. Like with everything else, Ueda's inner jokester quipped.
Ueda counted down from ten in his head, jostled the handle, and then pulled the door open. If he'd thought he couldn't see well before, it was like walking into a fog now. "The hell, Kamenashi?" He muttered under his breath, glancing to the shower and spotting the unaware occupant happily soaping down his body. "Do you just like a preview of hell every time you shower?" Ueda spoke louder this time, door clicking shut behind him, and Kamenashi turned around quickly.
Oh. Maybe not so happily.
Ueda couldn't be sure exactly of what he was seeing, but there was an noteable distraught emotion lingering behind the wide, surprised eyes currently focused on him.
"What do you think you're doing?"
Kamenashi sounded angry, but his voice gave a small crack, and Ueda swallowed down further teasing he'd been intending to banter.
"I was just going to take a piss." He tried.
"Knock next time!"
Kamenashi hesitated. "You should have said something!"
To that, Ueda fell silent, studying the face staring back at him through the textured glass doors. Rather than say anything more, he kept walking towards the toilet, as though he hadn't heard him at all.
"Tatsuya, I swear-"
"What were you crying about?" Ueda interjected, voice passive as he unzipped his pants.
Kamenashi's voice caught in his throat, a mixture of anger and disbelief. "I got shampoo in my eye." He was quick to defend, but that made it all the more suspicious.
Snorting, Ueda made sure he was aiming right before his attention went back to Kamenashi, who had suddenly turned his back to him again. Privacy was nice. "Liar."
Kamenashi's shoulders tensed, the younger man trying to remain more focused on cleaning his body than paying mind to what Ueda was speaking about. "You're the only liar here." Ueda knew he was lying, and he knew that Kamenashi knew that he knew that he was lying. It was all just a matter of working away that solid steel wall of pride Kamenashi attempted to keep up to make himself feel stronger than what he was.
"Mm." Ueda hummed, finishing up and putting his pants back to rights. Unlike he'd considered, he forewent flushing the toilet for now. That could wait. "You know I think you're lame anyway." Actually, Ueda thought quite highly of the younger man, but he had pride too, dammit. "Knowing that you cry only makes you seem more human."
"I'm not lame..." Kamenashi challenged, pitifully almost, with a weak voice heavy with a strange sort of misery. Something about what he'd said must have hit the right spot. Or the wrong one, depending on how you looked at it.
Chuckling, Ueda could only repeat himself, and in a more drawling way. "Laaame~"
Kamenashi had been loosely spraying down his body with water from the shower head, but he turned back around at that particular teasing. Slowly, but with noticeable determination, making it quite clear that it was with a lot of self-control that he willed himself to face Ueda again. Whatever sorrow Ueda had thought he heard was reflected far clearer in those eyes than it had before, and the assumption of Kamenashi crying was affirmed. Ueda winced. Maybe he should apologize.
"I didn't mean-" He started, but Kamenashi cut him off.
"I can't do anything right."
Blinking, Ueda leaned back against the sink. "Eh?"
"Everything that happened today was all my fault." Oh. "All of it. Everything. You're right, if I hadn't insisted we take my car we wouldn't have nearly died, and-"
"I shouldn't have done it. I should have taken the manager's advice and just taken separate cabs. Then we would have-"
"Kamenashi-" Ueda felt a twinge of irritation that he was going unheard, or, at least, unacknowledged.
Kamenashi let out a keening whine, but continued undisturbed. "I shouldn't have acted like that towards you. It wasn't your fault, it was mine. All mine. You were just-"
"A-ah." Finally, the younger man stopped his ramble, suddenly feeling very small as he discarded the shower head and began to wipe at his face. The quivering of his jaw didn't help matters any, and Ueda gave an exasperated sigh.
Reaching for a nearby towel, Ueda chucked it over the top of the shower, unsurprised when, without a second thought, Kamenashi caught it. "Just dry off and we'll talk about it seriously, okay?" Kamenashi hesitated, then gave a small nod. "Good."
"I borrowed some clothes from Nakamaru while you were washing up." Ueda continued, pausing in the doorway on his way out, just to inform Kamenashi of this simple fact. "I got some for you too."
By borrowed he meant that while Nakamaru and Taguchi were distracted with some (loud) video game, he'd nosed through Nakamaru's bag for something halfway decent. Likely even now the slightly older man was none the wiser of his thievery. They probably didn't even know he'd left the room. It'd make for some interesting breakfast conversation.
Kamenashi didn't reply right then, but Ueda supposed he didn't need to. A mutual, silent, understanding was already beginning to form between them.
"You care too much about what everyone thinks."
This was the first thing Ueda spoke when Kamenashi was finally finished getting dry, clothed, and had sat down at the edge of Ueda's bed, directly next to the older man lounging back by his hands. It probably wasn't the best way to start things out, but it felt right, and Ueda, being someone who could be too rough around the edges, was going to run with what he had.
The resultant accusatory look that blossomed on Kamenashi's face was almost amusing. "I don't want to hear that from you." He returned with a bit of a bite, fingers deftly adjusting his still-slick hair out of his eyes.
Ueda snorted. "Yeah, I get upset when people say mean stuff to me, but then I get over it."
Kamenashi sat up a little straighter, gaze avoiding Ueda's.
"But you-" Ueda hesitated when the younger man's expression tightened. "You just wallow in it, and think about it, until you're numb and it's just another layer on your-" He motioned up and down Kamenashi's poised figure. "-shell."
There was a soft twinge of Kamenashi's lips, as if he were trying not to chuckle. "Was that a turtle joke?"
"Maybe." Ueda returned, feeling a little more at ease from that simple response. "Don't tell Taguchi, but he might be rubbing off on me a little bit."
That prompted the chuckle Kamenashi had been trying to suppress. "That'd make him really happy to hear that."
"I know." Ueda offered dryly, as if implying that was the reason he didn't want the normally peppy man to hear about it. Kamenashi just chuckled again, then fell silent, staring down at his hands as he fidgeted them together.
"But it's true, you know." He continued, clarifying only when it seemed like Kamenashi was going to make a joke. "About you, not him."
Kamenashi's small smile fell. "... I know." The admission came with mild hesitance, but Ueda could have swore he saw relief too. "It's just hard to handle when someone's disappointed in me." Not like that wasn't a given. "I like it when everyone I care about is happy."
For a moment Ueda was silent too, considering. "Our manager will get over it." He replied eventually, sitting up a bit straighter. "It wasn't like you meant to almost get us killed."
Kamenashi licked his lips slowly, and Ueda could see how his eyes began to tear up again. Shit. "That was a joke. I don't hold anything against you or-" He chanced quickly, "It was kinda fun, in a weird way. The sort of weird I only get to have when I'm around you."
"You don't get it." Kamenashi's voice was growing emotional again, hitching in all the wrong places, and Ueda felt guilt, heavy and cold, in the pit of his stomach.
"It's not about our manager." The younger man mumbled, stopping Ueda's apologies well enough. "Well, that is-" Kamenashi scratched the inside of his wrist, nothing but a fidgeting motion. "-I feel bad about that too, but that's not... really what bothers me the most."
Ueda wanted to ask, but he didn't need to. In the end, Kamenashi simply continued, voice quiet but sincere. "... The car ride wasn't a last minute decision." Surprise reflected in Ueda's eyes as he tried to meet Kamenashi's gaze. "Once I found out about this filming, I knew it'd be a good opportunity for you and I to... you know, talk and stuff. We don't get a chance to do that a lot."
"Because we don't have that sort of relationship." Ueda supplied with a snort of amusement.
Kamenashi agreed mutely. "Yeah." It was followed with a long pause, and then Kamenashi reached up to wipe at his eyes, wanting the lingering moisture gone. He was forced to stop short when Ueda shoved a tissue towards his hand, and, rather expectedly, that felt a lot better dabbing against his eyes than the drag of his hand.
"I didn't really care if that was just me out there." Kamenashi admitted finally, heaving a sigh. His gaze was brought up to Ueda's, dark brown meeting dark brown. "But I was scared for you, Tatsuya. I'd never forgive myself if something had happened. If you'd been injured, or- or died. And all because I was just being selfish."
Ueda chuckled this time. "It's okay to be selfish every now and again." Kamenashi's brows furrowed, as if implying something. Another chuckle bubbled up from Ueda. "For me, being selfish all the time is okay. It's part of my image."
Kamenashi chuckled too.
"But for you, once in awhile should be fine."
"Noted." Kamenashi dabbed at his eyes some more with the tissue. ".... Thanks."
Not entirely sure what to say to that, Ueda simply nodded and leaned forward a bit, hands clasping against his knees for stability. This wasn't exactly how he had pictured their night to be, but then again, with the sort of day they'd had, maybe he shouldn't be so surprised when things changed like this. That was the thing about Kamenashi. They'd worked together for well past a decade, but they hardly knew one another at their core. That left room for surprises and odd discoveries at inopportune moments. Ueda decided he liked it. As infuriating as Kamenashi could be most of the time.
But that's why he loved him, wasn't it?
Ueda's heart throbbed painfully in his chest, an annoyance if he'd ever felt one. It'd been awhile since he'd thought that. Why was he thinking it now?
In an effort to avoid having to muse it over, Ueda ventured back into their conversation with a certain curiosity. "What did you even want to talk about anyway?"
"Huh?" Kamenashi seemed confused at the sudden break in the silence.
"On the drive."
"Oh." A small laugh and Kamenashi shifted in place to something slightly more comfortable. "You know, just... little things."
Wait. "Like?" Ueda seemed expectant, and Kamenashi hesitated.
"Like... I don't know. Your pets, or... the weather. How boxing's been recently. Our next sing-"
"Liar." Ueda's smile had fell away while repeating that word from earlier, and like a domino effect, Kamenashi's did too.
Groaning in exasperation, Kamenashi finally moved away. "I'm not lying to you. I have no reason to." Lies.
Ueda's expression twisted, and he followed Kamenashi to his feet, venturing after him with a heavy feeling tightening in his lungs, making it difficult to breathe. He recognized it. In those pained eyes still wet with unshed tears. That emotion weighing him down, the one he hadn't thought about in so long. "Kazuya." He wanted to reach for the younger man's wrist, but he stopped himself.
"No, Tatsuya, I'm telling you the truth."
"Why are you being so difficult?"
"Why are you being so persistent?"
Their mild argument ended with Ueda cornering Kamenashi at the far side of the room, arms crossed over his chest. "Please."
Eventually, Kamenashi's own arms crossed in a similar manner. Unlike Ueda, this posture was meant to protect himself, and what he was trying hard to not have to say. "I'm not ready." He murmured, looking away from the man standing in front of him.
Ueda tensed. "You are."
"You'll hate me."
"I won't." Ueda repeated the words with further confirmation, expression softened up, pleading.
Kamenashi gave a quivery sigh, teeth drawing his lower lip between them, chewing absently as his eyes welled up all over again. Ueda would feel guilty if he weren't so filled to the brim with desperation.
"I wanted to... confess." Kamenashi mumbled after a prolonged quiet, and a soft prompt of his name. "How I felt... to you. About you." That's when the first tears began to trickle down, and Kamenashi cursed himself inwardly. He felt terrible, vulnerable, and far too emotional for the situation he was in right now. There were too many raw feelings, and yet, he was unaware that Ueda felt them all the same, right in the center of his chest.
"I know we don't... talk a lot, and when we do we're usually fighting, but-" Continuing, Kamenashi gave a shaky laugh. "Somehow I feel more at ease with you. Like I can speak honestly, and you... can too. There's never any negativity left over. We get it all out, to each other's faces, and that's that. It's always been that way. You don't let me stay mad. I like that." There was a small pause. "I like... you."
Ueda blinked stupidly, wondering if he'd heard what he thought he'd heard, or just heard what he wanted to hear. "You... like me?" He parroted, just to be sure. Kamenashi responded with a tentative nod, still refusing to meet his gaze.
"That's what I wanted to say on our drive, but before everything happened, I just didn't..." Kamenashi chuckled dryly. "I couldn't find the confidence." Another brief chuckle, which was actually akin more to an emotional laugh than anything else. "I even bought this..." His hand stuck out, moving on the air, as if trying to manifest the object he soon began describing. "This wolf plush thing that reminded me of you. I was supposed to give it to you and say all these cheesy lines I'd rehearsed, but that all crashed and burned." Almost literally.
Dumbfounded at the sudden turn of the conversation, Ueda could do little more than let Kamenashi keep going.
Adjusting the tuck of his hands against his arms, Kamenashi slowly licked his lips. The distant hum of the room's heater system sounded far too loud in his ears. "Which is why I felt even worse about what happened. I nearly killed us both just to confess to you, and I didn't even know how you would respond. I didn't even know if you were gay." It was equal parts mortifying as it was strangely romantic.
Ueda saw it more as the latter.
Tears continued to trickle from Kamenashi's eyes, clearly filled with remorse and a half dozen other regretful emotions, and all Ueda knew to do was to draw him into a sudden, tight hug. He'd never been as good with words as he was with actions, and thankfully, Kamenashi seemed to understand. Maybe he even preferred it that way. (He did.)
"I like you too." Ueda spoke just as quickly, mumbled against Kamenashi's shoulder, but intelligible. He didn't even have to think. He knew how he felt. For years there had been that nagging realization at the back of his mind, coupled with the belief that he didn't stand a chance, and the doubt that maybe he didn't even want to try.
Yet, with Kamenashi so openly confessing, even planning something supposedly romantic, it was like those beliefs and those doubts, and anything else stopping him, no longer existed.
"You... really get on my nerves a lot of the time, but for whatever reason, I like it." The older man continued, muttering the words as he felt Kamenashi's heart beating like mad against his. Kamenashi realized the sensation too, fingers grappling for the back of Ueda's shirt, and holding tight, relief scoring through him with unmatched intensity. The returned embrace, the warmth of Kamenashi against him, even the spluttered sobs giving life to Kamenashi's current emotions, were perfect.
Ueda only held on tighter. "I'm glad you told me."
Throat tight, Kamenashi could only choke out something that a nod would later affirm as the younger man agreeing.
"I'm sorry." It took a few long minutes for Kamenashi to compose himself, the apology as wet as his sobs had been, but Ueda simply gave a dry laugh.
"Consider my debt repaid."
Kamenashi's expression turned confused. "What?"
"From before." Ueda clarified. "Onstage."
It was as though Kamenashi was suddenly thrown back many years, and an abrupt laugh cut through his emotional display. "That was cute, though."
"That was gross." Ueda responded almost instantly, and Kamenashi broke away from him to actually try and stop his eyes from watering further.
"Don't you mean lame?" The younger man joked, wiping his eyes with more tissues Ueda provided.
Ueda hesitated, and then nodded, agreeing. "I guess that means we're lame together."
There was a brief silence, and Kamenashi felt his face brighten with a small smile. "As long as we're together."
Ueda returned the smile and reached out to help Kamenashi with the remnants of tears. "As long as we're together." He affirmed softly.
Kamenashi wasn't used to simply accepting things as they were. More specifically, he wasn't used to being able to. The urge to make Ueda say more, to confirm that he really liked him, well, it was still there. Just buried, unable to be reached. Maybe it was because of what he said before-- that Ueda and he shared honest feelings with one another when they spoke, good or bad, so there wasn't a need for further reassurance. Or maybe he didn't want to pop the bubble of illusion, if there was one. Whatever the reason, somehow, after their tumultuous day, it all ended on a high note.
For Ueda, impulsive, present-day thinking was a staple in his everyday life, but even so, he could hardly believe the situation he was left in now. From eventful afternoon spent half in a blistering snowstorm and half arguing with Kamenashi, to enjoying the peace and quiet, and stability, of having a significant other he'd pined for, for years even... to say it was an improvement, was an understatement.
"Good night." Ueda murmured, sprawled on his back and pressed right up against Kamenashi's side, one arm wound underneath the younger man's back, and the other draped over Kamenashi's stomach.
"Good night." Kamenashi returned gently, just as stretched out on his back, cradling Ueda's head in the crook of his armpit as he twined their fingers together over his stomach.
Maybe they should have near-death experiences more often.