this is going to be a two-chapter fic, one about Amai getting jealous and one about Zombieman getting jealous, and the way they both handle that.
This is just the first chunk of the first chapter. There will probably be smut later but not yet.
As far as parties went, Zombieman had been to worse. There was food, if only appetizers, and booze, if only weak champagne. Zombieman couldn’t drink it fast enough to get wasted unless he was trying pretty hard, and there were good reasons not to tonight.
One of those had spotted him as soon as he arrived, and waited a few minutes until Zombieman retrieved a drink and a cracker with gray stuff on it before he came over to chat.
“Hey,” Sumiro said, flashing his thousand-watt smile. “I didn’t know you’d be here.”
I bet you didn’t, Zombieman thought, and aloud said, “Doing my part for the community.”
“You’re a hero! You do plenty.” He said it just a bit too loud, standing just a bit too close, so when people turned to look they saw the two of them appearing to be very friendly.
Zombieman shrugged. “They invited me personally. I thought that was nice.”
Sumiro nodded, and in a lower tone said, “Too bad your spotlight got stolen, huh?”
“Huh?” Zombieman parroted.
Sumiro tilted his head toward the opposite end of the hall. Most of the ticket-buying guests had gathered there, though there was – as always – a ring of awe-induced space around the person they wanted to see. The person who was the other reason Zombieman didn’t want to get too drunk. From here, he could just catch the gleam of hotel lighting off Amai Mask’s sky blue hair.
“This is a benefit,” Zombieman said. He tried to keep his voice neutral. “We’re here to raise money for rebuilding, not show off.”
“Right, right,” Sumiro agreed, his smile faltering. “Of course. I lost my shop, you know. The original one. My second location’s better anyway, but still. We sold a lot of merch in the original.”
Zombieman gave a noncommittal hum, and shoved his hors d'oeuvre into his mouth. The gray stuff turned out to be salmon mousse.
“I didn’t know he was from around here, did you?” Sumiro asked. “This was supposed to only be local celebrities.”
“I knew,” Zombieman said around his mouthful. He swallowed, and added, “I invited him.”
The shock on Sumiro’s face was more satisfying than the cracker. “You know him?”
“We’re both heroes. We work together.”
He could see the internal struggle going on behind Sumiro’s eyes. The desire for an introduction fighting against the knowledge that he was the last person allowed to ask for career favors from Zombieman.
“That's… cool,” Sumiro said, audibly pained. “It’s always good to have work friends.”
“Yep,” Zombieman agreed, and took a measured sip of champagne.
Inviting Amai had been a gamble. He’d honestly completely forgotten about Sumiro and that he might be here (oh for the blissful ignorance of an hour ago), but the benefit was for a good cause and Amai had been griping about a controversy the sprung up over a product he endorsed. Making an appearance at low-key event like this, unpublicized but sure to leak to the press, would get him back in people’s good graces.
Zombieman hated himself, a little bit, for knowing enough about public relations to come up with this plan.
The gamble part came because he had to make Amai believe he was doing it for himself. If he tried to “interfere” in Amai’s career he’d be leaving an opening for Amai to try and manage his again. So instead he said something halfway believable about wanting to help but not fitting in at events like this. It was probably true, but Zombieman had never cared about fitting in. He was okay at making conversation, and he had fans across all walks of life. Nothing close to Amai Mask, of course, but there was always somebody around who knew who he was and what he did.
There was very little attention coming his way tonight. While Amai was basking in it. If it wasn’t for Sumiro, Zombieman would have been looking forward to the rest of the evening.
“Well, uh,” Sumiro said when it became clear Zombieman wasn’t going to continue the conversation. “I better go make the rounds. See you.”
“Mm,” Zombieman said. He started glancing around for something other than salmon mousse.
Once more snacks were acquired, Zombieman started getting the ticket-holders. He wasn’t entirely sure if just gathering d-list celebrities and expecting people to pay to be in the same room with them was a good idea or not, but if the number of party-goers wearing those orange wristbands was any indication it had paid off.
He talked about the weather. He talked about guns. He posed for plenty of selfies. Almost before he realized it, an hour had passed.
An hour must have been long enough for the awe to wear off, because in a lull between wristband-holders Zombieman found Amai approaching him. He was dressed in blue velvet, of all things, and carrying a glass of champagne that had lost all its fizz. His carefully crafted expression of mild pleasure faded as soon as he was in Zombieman’s earshot. Apparently the eyes constantly on him wouldn’t be disillusioned if he frowned a little while talking with a colleague.
“This is dreadful,” Amai said, without preamble.
“Good,” Zombieman said. “I’m glad you feel that way.”
“You’d better be planning to make this up to me.”
Zombieman smiled, and lowered his voice even though no one was close enough to overhear. “Have I ever let you down, baby?”
Amai didn’t show it on his face, but he must have been flustered because he took a sip of his flat champagne. “No pet names in public,” he muttered, and pulled a face. “Ugh.”
“Here,” Zombieman held out his own glass. “It’s pink.”
Amai accepted the swap, though he still wrinkled his nose after he drank some. “Better,” he said.
“It’s a fundraiser, they’re not gonna spend money on good wine.”
“I know that.” Amai rolled his eyes, then covered up the motion by scanning the crowd.
Most of them dressed up, but Zombieman still didn’t know enough about fashion to tell if they were the type who had money to burn. They didn’t act like it. Old money tended to treat him like a servant. Like an object.
Like his creator had.
Zombieman swallowed the rest of Amai’s flat champagne and almost didn’t hear his next question.
“You know that man?”
“I know a lot of people here,” Zombieman said. It was true, that was why he’d gotten invited. But he was pretty sure he knew who Amai meant.
“That sideshow attraction who keeps looking over here.”
Zombieman seriously considered waving at one of the waiters. “Too mean.”
“Sorry,” Amai muttered. He didn’t sound it. “The one with the tattoos and piercings.”
Zombieman nodded, twirling his empty glass between his fingers. “Sumiro. He’s uh… he calls himself a ‘celebrity tattoo artist.'”
“Meaning he’s a celebrity as a tattoo artist, or he’s a tattoo artist to celebrities?”
Zombieman chuckled. “He’d like you to think it’s both.”
Amai gave a haughty sniff. “Which means neither.”
“I dunno. He was doing all right last time I checked, but I made a point of not looking him up after I dumped him.”
Amai froze. Didn’t blink, barely breathed, just stood there like a mannequin. It was always a little scary when he did this, even for Zombieman. He knew that this inhuman stillness was the sign of a predator in hunting mode.
“You dated him,” Amai said, quietly.
“For a while,” Zombieman said, keeping his voice casual. He didn’t need to mention how long of a while it was. “He was an asshole.”
“Tell me.” Amai’s tone didn’t change at all. Which was a warning sign in itself.
Zombieman shrugged. “It was a long time ago.”
“Tell me,” Amai repeated. There were veins beginning to bulge on his temple, and his pupils had narrowed to pinpricks. He’d compose himself if Zombieman pointed it out, but he’d also be stewing in his curiosity all night.
Zombieman sighed. “It’s not a big deal. Around the time I was starting to get recognized as a hero, Sumiro and I met through people we had in common, and he asked me out. We dated for a while, then I found out he’d only been interested in me because he wanted to ride my fame. Asshole.”
He left out a lot. Like how it had started with a half-drunk men’s room hookup, or how they’d been dating long enough to talk about moving in together when Zombieman found out Sumiro had arranged their first meeting, or how he’d actually taken him back after that and wanted to believe Sumiro was telling the truth about falling for him for real… until Zombieman caught him using his private photos in advertisements for the shop.
He left out that Sumiro had broken his heart.
Amai’s brows drew in, and he was moving again, though it was a slow flex of his fingers that indicated violence for someone if he didn’t snap out of it. “He hurt you.”
“Yeah,” Zombieman admitted. “But I’m over it. He’s not important, Amai.”
“Don’t murder him,” Zombieman said. He wasn’t joking, exactly, but he hoped he was exaggerating.
“I won’t!” Amai protested, just a little too quickly. “Anyway, it’s only murder if I plan it. If I did it in a fit of passion, it’s manslaughter.”
“Don’t kill him at all!”
Scowling, Amai took a fake sip of pink wine. Maybe only Zombieman would have noticed that his lips didn’t part, and the volume of liquid in the glass didn’t change. It was a practiced motion, something ordinary, to cover the time it took to regain control. The veins were still creeping out from under his collar, but at least all of his face was back to normal.
“You can do better,” Amai said at last.
“I know.” Subtly, Zombieman bumped the back of Amai’s free hand with his knuckles. “Obviously.”
The other eyes in the room had always been on them, but now the gazes were increasing and Zombieman saw a few flashes of orange wristbands. Nobody wanted to interrupt two heroes talking – it might be serious, after all – but they were getting impatient for their fix.
“We’ll talk later,” Zombieman said. “Go schmooze.”
“Yes,” Amai said, mildly, and fixed a warm smile on his face as he walked toward a middle-aged woman holding her phone in both hands like a lifeline. A few selfies, a few handshakes, a few more dreadful conversations.
Only Zombieman noticed the way Amai followed Sumiro’s movements around the hall like a tiger tracking prey.
this panel is literally so funny to me. ritsu “let me replenish my blood sugar” kageyama. who the fuck talks like that?? this emo ass nerd… and then mob responding with “oh you’re bringing candies to school?” ritsu you bad boy?? bringing candies to school? i’m telling mom unless you give me one
PSA animation assignment: Packbonding With Your Human Coworkers
this PSA can also be used by humans trying to get along with other humans
song: crepe suzette
also big thanks to my siblings for helping out with the hand poses