Word count: 10,653 words (in 2 parts)
Genre: Drama, Angst, Non-AU & Aiba-centric
Summary: The signs are always there but Aiba never notices.
Note: The story was originally written for the lovely mangamistrezz in Ohba & Junba Exchange. Big Thanks to my awesome beta-reader silverdoll14 without whom this story would never end up making me as happy as this. Thank you so much <3 Any remaining mistakes are my own.
[Their concert tour is about to start.]
Their concert tour is about to start. It is that period of the year again when they would be together for pretty much all the time. They will stay in the same hotel, go to concert halls together for rehearsals, preparation and show, then come back to the hotel together. It is when the members get to be close to each other – all five of them. Aiba usually likes this time of the year. This year, however, he is not so sure.
His feeling for Ohno is a whole big mess now. He already thinks dealing with a crush in a workplace is hard. Dealing with a crush who says to you in one drunken night that he likes you then completely forgets about it the day after, is definitely so much harder. It is already difficult for Aiba to get through the concert tour in one piece, now he has to deal with these butterflies in his stomach at the same time. With him being the weakest member of Arashi, Aiba feels he needs to put all his energy and effort in to the preparation and the performances. He needs to make sure he doesn’t screw up. Aiba doesn’t want to let Arashi down. Seriously, Aiba does not have time and energy to spare with these unnecessary, confusing feeling.
OK, I am over thinking it. Whatever has happened, it is not real anyway.
Aiba swallows hard when he thinks about Ohno’s thin lips, his perfectly lean and muscular body, and his mysterious eyes. Aiba knows he’s insanely attracted to all of those. Thus, he believes his feeling to Ohno may just be physical. He probably just needs the intimacy from Leader. If he can just have Ohno once, Aiba can get the silly crush done and over with. But Ohno is Nino’s. Aiba doesn’t intend to sleep with his best friend’s boyfriend.
Aiba needs to find a way out, and fast before something terrible happens.
The success of Arashi takes Aiba by storm. The first several years has been hard. Their success comes completely unexpected, and Aiba tends to be overemotional over this especially during concert. When it comes to reminiscing about the past - how difficult it is for all of them back then and how their hard work seems to pay off in the end - Aiba would cry. Jun has told him to try keeping the sensitive issue off his mind during concert. He is afraid Aiba is going to break down in the middle of the speech or during a song. That would not be good for the show. “It’s good to show appreciation, Aiba-kun, but not too much sadness, okay? We should not make the fans worry.” Aiba remembers nodding to Jun when he has said those things. Of course, he understands. Arashi are idols. There are certain images Arashi are expected to uphold. The problem is Aiba cannot control where his mind goes sometimes.
So tonight in the middle of his concert speech, Aiba sees the dome filled with fans holding uchiwas and screaming their names. His thoughts wonder to the older days when seats have been empty everywhere, and Aiba breaks down to tears. He stutters and forgets the speech he has thought of earlier. So he lets out what really is on his mind and ends up crying. Something makes him even more sensitive than usual. Maybe it's the general atmosphere of that particular show, or maybe it’s his personal issue. Ohno is just right there, only a few feet behind him, and Aiba is overly-conscious about that fact all the time. It does not help with his mood swings.
That evening, Aiba cries like he has never done publicly for quite some time. It just comes out. He barely manages to finish his speech. Then, they are supposed to move down the center stage and starts singing the next song. Aiba prods along dutifully, but inside, he is a bubbling mess. He stands where he is supposed to on the stage just a bit to the left of Jun. Aiba still tries to figure out how he could utter a single coherent words in the song when a firm hand reaches for his shoulder pulling him into a tight embrace. Sho has walked from where he is standing to get to Aiba. Everything is there in those strong arms - the strength, the warmth, the security. Aiba takes all of them willingly. He buries his face deep into Sho’s nape, and when he looks up again, his teary eyes lock with another pair of eyes looking directly at him from the right. For a second, Aiba sees sparks inside Ohno’s usually absented, almond shaped eyes. Aiba’s lips unnaturally squeeze tight, blocking the sudden overwhelming feeling. Aiba decides to pull Sho in even tighter as if to absorb the last of Sho’s strength. The fans are screaming like crazy.
When Aiba lets go of Sho again, everything around them seems to go back to how it should be. The song continues playing. His band mates are singing. Sho has to rush back to his position. At the furthest side, Ohno is singing and responding to fan’s requests on uchiwas. Arashi’s leader is smiling and waving as usual. Aiba bites his lips and starts singing the part that is his. The pain is his chest is almost too painful.
Aiba has many chances to say No that night.
He can say no when Ohno asks him to stay behind after their get together in Ohno’s room – under the questioning eyes of Nino. He can say no when Sho asks if everything is okay. He can say no when Ohno wonders if Aiba wants the same thing he does.
If he says no even once, maybe he won’t be so close to Ohno. Maybe he won’t be naked like this.
Aiba looks at the man now standing so close to him. The smaller man is all muscular. The nice tone muscles on his arms, shoulders, chest and abs. They are all too familiar to him, but they are never as pleasing to him as it is right now. Aiba looks at the smaller man who is now staring directly at him. The normally sleepy eyes are now gleaming with something incomprehensible. Aiba is about to ask when Ohno takes his hand and pulled him lightly. Aiba lets Ohno lead him from the bathroom into the bedroom where Ohno gently pushes him onto the bed. Aiba's back lands on the soft, ruffled cover of Ohno's bed, and Aiba lets himself be absorbed into the softness of the cool blanket.
Ohno climbs on top of Aiba, his arms extend just slightly, allowing just inches of distance between their faces. "I want to see you while we do it." He says it with an intent stare. Ohno's voice is neither soft nor hash. Aiba does not know what to think, but he does not have much time to contemplate anyway.
Everything that night feels right – from the way they kiss, the rhythm of his body responding to Ohno’s movement and the warm sensation Aiba feels in his chest. When Ohno pushes inside him, Aiba almost screams from the sensation. Ohno's thin lips trail over Aiba's nape, kissing and whispering softly. "I want you, Aiba-chan," Ohno breathes into Aiba's soft hair. The smell of alcohol mixes with the sweet scent of peppermint. Aiba moans when Ohno presses his lips on to his chest, kissing and licking him, all the while increasing the speed of each thrust. The sensation gets more and more intense, making it harder for Aiba to breath and he starts seeing stars. Aiba whimpers while crying out Ohno's name breathlessly. He does not want Ohno to stop. He needs this. He has always needed this. Aiba lets out a loud scream from the intense joy. Almost right after, Ohno comes releasing inside him. He moans with pleasure before dropping on top of Aiba who accepts him into an embrace.
Aiba rolls both of them to the side, holding Ohno inside his arms. The smaller man breaths into his chest. Ohno is drunk and exhausted. Eventually, Aiba feels Ohno's breathing even out and turn into a steady breaths. Ohno' sleeping face is so peaceful and serene. Aiba leans his head closer into the short hair of Leader. The light smell of the foreign shampoo comes into Aiba's sense. The sweet, tangy scent of orange and flowers. He closes his eyes and lets his head dropped on the pillow. Ohno touches are still so real on his skin, yet he does not dare touch the sleeping man right now. Being certain that Ohno is sleeping soundly, Aiba allows his worry to float away, and he mutters into the dimness of the room what he is certain now. He whispers to Ohno, 'I love you.'
Aiba puts on his clothes and quietly leaves the room not long after. He does not dare spend the night next to Ohno. Aiba is afraid his beating heart could have misunderstood that all of this actually meant something.
If the last night of their first dome tour does anything to Aiba’s problem, it only makes things worse. The physical experience does not satisfy Aiba. It only makes him want more. Aiba is frightened. He is out of control.
After that night in Sapporo, they do it again in Nagoya, in Osaka and in Fukuoka. By the time they reach the last dome, Aiba is a train wreck. He feels like he is living a borrowed time. He loves every minute of being with Ohno, but Aiba knows it is not real. It is the concert tour. It is the wonderland. It is like they are living in a different time and space. Everything is going back to normal when the tour ends, Aiba is certain. The only thing he isn’t certain is whether the feelings would go back to normal like everything else.
Ohno’s fingers slowly trails from his cheek, down his neck, onto his collarbone. Aiba cannot breathe. Ohno does not say much because his eyes tend to do all the talking for him. Ohno wants him. Aiba can see that. Aiba closes his eyes and his lips stretch out into a brief smile. Tonight is their last dome tour. It is in Tokyo, so they are all supposed to go home afterwards. Aiba has at first before he drives to Ohno’s apartment. Next thing he knows, he is making out with Ohno in the living room. Ohno's hand moves to grab the back of his neck, pulling the taller man closer for a passionate kiss. The hand slowly guides Aiba’s face until his forehead touched Ohno's. "Masaki..." Ohno whispers seductively. Aiba holds his breath, he has no power over that voice. Ohno's soft lips touches Aiba’s again and presses gently. “Masaki,” Ohno calls his name again. “After today...” Aiba’s heart sinks. After today, they are going back to the way things were. Aiba understand that but he does not want to hear it. Aiba quickly stops Ohno with another kiss. It’s a little more intense and desperate than the ones before. He cannot bear to hear the inevitable from Ohno’s mouth.
“Don’t say it, Oh-chan.” Aiba tries to avoid Ohno’s eyes when he speaks. “Please… I don’t want to hear it.” Aiba tries so hard not to let his voice quiver. Ohno just looks at him questioningly but decides not to say anything. Aiba is relieved. What is left in Aiba’s mind is Ohno’s strange look, as if he’s hurt, as if Aiba has done something wrong.
That night, they do it in the floor of Ohno’s living room. Ohno is rougher than any time before, but Aiba does not voice it out. He is afraid to know why. As Aiba lies on his stomach with Ohno still in his back, pounding inside him, his eyes keeps wondering back toward the now closed bedroom door. Earlier, when Ohno went in to get something from the bedroom, Aiba’s eyes followed him. And right in there, inside Ohno’s bedroom, was a painting – probably something Ohno has recently been working on. It is just for a second but Aiba knows what it is. Aiba knows who it is. His guilt that is buried down deep during the concert tour instantly emerges and takes over all his senses. That painted eye flashes in his mind, and Aiba closes his eyes painfully. On top of him, Ohno’s pace picks up, and Aiba moans in response. Aiba lets out a breathy whisper of Ohno’s name. I love you. Aiba wants to add that as if to reassure himself that everything is still okay. What they are doing is not completely wrong. What they have here does not matter.
Aiba isn’t looking for anything from Leader. He just wants to be with him – whatever does that mean – even just for a little while. If Ohno just wants physical, Aiba will give him that. It is only temporary anyway. Aiba won’t ask about Nino and what is going on between them that make Ohno comes to him physically. One thing Aiba is certain of is that Ohno and Nino still belong to each other.
Aiba’s eyes shut tight. His body responds with Ohno’s final movement. The shock sends through his back and Aiba cries loudly. Still Aiba cannot get rid of the image of the eye from the painting in the back of his mind. It still haunts him. Aiba closes his eyes feeling Ohno’s breathing on the back of his nape.
It’s OK. This is not wrong. I never want Oh-chan to be mine….
What Aiba does not expect after that night is that Ohno does not stop asking him to come to his home. And Aiba, who always fears that this time would be the last, never says no.
It has been a long year for all of them, and most members would get a two-week vacation soon. They need to stock up a few tapes for their shows for the time they will be away. Aiba still has another week to go for his other variety shows, so his vacation will only be a week. Sho-chan is going abroad. Jun plans to do a lot of shopping. He also has a big party planned for the first weekend. Aiba can tell Nino will be staying at home, playing some games he missed out because of their busy concert tours. Ohno doesn’t say what his plan is. Most likely, it would be a week of fishing trip. Aiba is thankful for Leader’s plan. They would be far away from one another. The guilt is eating Aiba alive. He must find a way to stop all of this before everything burns to ground.
Aiba hopes Nino would never know about him and Ohno. In fact, he hopes no one would ever know about him and Ohno. But Aiba is Aiba. He is sometimes careless and absent minded. When Aiba is careless, he gets hurt and persons around him get hurt. Aiba hates himself for that.
Nino's back has bothered him earlier during the Arashi ni Shiyagare taping. Aiba knows that. He just never dares asking. But Jun asks, and Ohno has been making sure that Nino is comfortable enough during the shoot. Aiba only pretends he does not see. Maybe he is too agitated. Maybe he is too nervous. Aiba lets slip after the filming that he is at Ohno’s place recently. There are only two of them in the greenroom, and Aiba is just trying to make a conversation with Nino. Clearly Aiba is not thinking carefully. When Nino asks why, Aiba gets panic. Instead of answering, Aiba immediately grabs his bag and runs away, forgetting that Nino will care enough to run after him. Aiba is afraid. He has done something unimaginable and is about to be caught red handed. Aiba does not know what to do.
When Nino collapses in the parking lot, Aiba's heart almost stops with it. What is so wrong with him to be so self-conscious that he forgets his best friend's pain? Nino’s back has gotten worse because of the running, and Nino is whimpering painfully on the floor with Aiba standing there not knowing what to do. Nino refuses to go back into the studio, probably trying to avoid meeting other people in such state, and he would not go see doctors. He already has pain medication on him, so Aiba brings him home. Aiba makes sure he has some food with the med and put him in bed. Nino has been sleeping since. They haven’t said a single word about the question that makes Nino run after Aiba. Nino is in too much pain, and Aiba just wants to forget about it.
Aiba looks through the half open door of his bedroom. The figure on his bed heaves up and down steadily. The pain has lessened now that Nino could sleep more soundly. His friend looks small under his oversize comforter. Nino is also pretty light when Aiba carries him into his apartment. Nino hasn’t been eating again, Aiba guesses. Aiba closes his eyes and the scene from just hours earlier comes to mind. He remembers Nino's agonizing face, trying to control the pain. Aiba's lips bite hard and his arm muscles tighten as he tries to control his emotions. He is hurting Nino. This is not right.
Aiba thinks of how he feels being with Ohno and how he feels when he sees Nino's fragile frame drops on the floor. He makes the decision. Aiba knows right then what he must do. To him, nothing matters more than Arashi. Nothing is more important than these four guys and the bond that they share together. Aiba is willing to give up anything for them to stay together as long as they could. Anything. That includes this tickling, burning feeling he has been having for the past months. Compared to Nino and Arashi, the senses and feel of Ohno in his arms, the light sweet smell in his hair and on his body aren’t important. Ohno’s mesmerizing movements in the dance practice, his beautiful voice, and those smiles that are directed to Aiba aren’t either. Even Aiba’s own happiness isn’t. None of those are as important as the person lying in his bed right at that moment.
Aiba wipes away the tears and walks slowly into his own bedroom. He slides under the cover next to Nino and reaches an arm out to pull the smaller man closer to his body. His friend stirs a little, murmuring something incomprehensible and falls back into steady breathing. Nino's head turns to the other side so Aiba moves his face a little closer to the nape of the sleeping man. Aiba mutters an apology into the soft skin and tried to muffle the sound of his own crying. He tightens his arm around Nino, pulling his body even closer. He repeats the apology until exhaustion takes over him, and he falls into a restless sleep.
When both of them wakes up in the morning, Nino is still groaning and Aiba’s eyes are puffy from crying. Aiba hugs Nino so tight. Nino knows something is terribly wrong. But Aiba begs him not to ask. Because Aiba hardly ever begs Nino for anything, Nino decides to let it slide. Nino leaves Aiba’s apartment still wondering all about it while Aiba is left to ponder how he is going to end this as soon as possible.
Aiba has decided the best cause of action is the direct one. He is going to talk to Ohno formally and in person. So, Aiba waits until the end of the week to talk to Ohno about it. It’s just the day before their break. He makes sure the other three are definitely not present because of their schedules before he starts.
“Oh-chan, let’s stop this.” Aiba tells Ohno when they are finally alone in the greenroom. Nino has left the taping early because of the remote location filming of his new drama. Sho has a meeting with his classmate - Aiba already confirms it on his tightly-packed schedule book. Jun has also left for the office, where he would have another wrap-up meeting of their concerts. Ohno is free, and they are alone.
Maybe he should make this nicer, but Aiba does not have a heart. It is already too difficult for him to say those three little words. Ohno does not look up from the paper he has been drawing something on, but the abrupt stop of his color pencil tells Aiba that Ohno is listening.
“Whatever it is that we have, Oh-chan. I don’t want it anymore.” Aiba tries his best to make his voice sound more forceful. He must be firm. Everything would be okay.
Ohno just stares at him, almost blankly. Ohno is clearly confused.
Well, of course. There is no need to overreact. Aiba tries to calm himself. His body is shaking. It is not a big deal. Oh-chan is probably wondering why he has to make a fuss of this and say it out loud. There is nothing serious between the two of them to begin with anyway. And looking at it, Ohno hardly turns away from whatever he is doing. Aiba breathes in heavily. He has to be strong.
“I also think it’s better for us to stay away from each other for a while.” Of course, he only means anything outside work. Arashi is the most important thing for him after all. Aiba is not going to let his own mess interfere with their work. He just cannot stand being around Ohno for the mean time. It is already too painful even to stand right there. Luckily there is this two weeks break. At least, they won’t be forced to be together because of work.
“Umm ‘kay.” Ohno’s answer comes after a long, uncomfortable silence. Aiba thinks he sees Ohno’s frame hunchesa little. Then again, his mind tends to play tricks on him quite often.
When there is no response, Aiba decides to just leave it like that. He swings his bag across his shoulder and storms out of the room.
Aiba has been avoiding all of his band mates for the past week. He presses reject to all the calls from Nino in the first two days, and Nino stops calling after that. Nino knows that when Aiba does not want to talk, there is no way Nino can pry anything out of him. And don’t forget the fact that Aiba has not been entirely truthful with Nino. His friend has every right to be angry at him instead of trying to get in touch with him like this. Sho-chan is not that hard to reason with. After ignoring multiple calls and massive emails from Sho for a few days, Aiba sends a long email saying that he wants some time alone and wishes that Sho-chan would respect his request. That does the trick. Sho leaves him alone after that. After all, Sho is already on vacation abroad.
But there is still Jun. Jun hasn’t been in contact with him at all last week. Then, completely out of the blue, Jun takes him by surprise.
“Aiba!” A familiar voice shouts out his name in a not so kind manner as Aiba is walking in the hallway of NTV studio. Aiba knows instantly Jun means trouble. He turns toward the origin of the sound and sure there he is. Jun has just stormed into the NTV station and barks into the studio of someone else’s show no less. His large eyes spark with fire.
Shoot. I’ve gotta run.
Aiba quickens his pace and heads in the opposite direction. If he’s quick enough, he can make it out on the other side of the studio before Jun. Aiba makes his way into the parking garage half-running. Jun is close on his feet.
“Don’t you dare running away from me, Aiba.” Jun yells after him and starts to run now. That makes Aiba to run as well. Thank God the parking garage is pretty much empty, saved for several cars belonged to staffs still working late night shift. Aiba runs past his own car. There is no time to get in. Maybe he can catch a taxi outside.
However, before Aiba even gets out of the parking garage, a strong hand grabs onto the back of his jacket and yanks him back violently. Aiba loses his balance and is thrown onto the back of one of the cars. Aiba whimpers. He looks at his band mate who is now grabbing his shirt so tightly. Jun’s hand clumps into a fist. Jun is probably about to hit him, and knowing Jun, it is probably for a good reason. Aiba just wishes he knows how he has managed to anger the youngest member of Arashi, so much that it warrants such treatment. Aiba’s innocent, frightened eyes stare into Jun’s angry ones. That is enough to make Jun stop. Somehow, Jun manages to control his anger, just barely, and drops his fist. He realizes he cannot let out his frustration on the man when that person does not have the slightest clue why. Jun’s other hand, however, is still pulling Aiba’s t-shirt so strongly. It probably stretches the collar of his t-shirt to ruin already. Gulping hard, Aiba gathers his courage and speaks out.
“Jun,” his voice is a little shaky, “What have I done?”
Okay, Aiba knows he is wrong to avoid everyone, but surely Jun won’t be this angry with just that, right?
Jun’s eyes spark angrily again. He looks like he wanted to kill. He pulls Aiba not quite lightly back toward the parking garage. “Are you really that stupid for real?” Aiba is slightly taken back by the comment and is about to voice out his disagreement when Jun tells him to shut up. “I am not really in the mood, Aiba. Please don’t give me any more reasons.” Jun’s voice is murderous. In front of them is Jun’s SUV, Aiba knows they are heading somewhere. When Jun lets go of him, he obediently walks to the passenger side and climbs into the seat. He signs in frustration and decides to sit quietly as Jun pulls his car out of the garage and into the quiet Tokyo cold winter night.
By the time Jun drives off the highway, Aiba is certain where they are heading. The familiar tree lines and small buildings line up the street near Ohno’s apartment. Aiba wants to say something in protest. He wants to run away, but a look at Jun’s face, Aiba cannot make himself do either of those. He remains quiet when Jun finally pulls his car into the apartment underground parking garage and leads him up to Ohno’s floor. Aiba does not ask why Jun has Ohno’s keycard. He does not protest when Jun unlocks the front door of Ohno’s apartment, shoving him inside. The lights of the living room and the kitchen are already on. Aiba dutifully walks towards the living room, dreading the moment he will see Ohno for the first time in the week. He isn’t strong enough to face the man.
But the sight that greets him is not what he has been expecting.
Sho, who is supposed to be away for his vacation, jumps up from the purple sofa. Sitting on the other side of him is Nino, who turns his head toward Aiba as soon as Aiba enters the room. Sho’s eyes are tired and bags began to form underneath while Nino looks genuinely concerned. Worries make his boyish face looked years older. Nino blinks a few times as if he does not believe that it is Aiba standing there. Damn, why did Jun bring me here to meet Nino? Aiba knows he probably should be on his knees bowing and begging Nino for forgiveness, and that probably would not be enough. Yet Aiba does nothing. He just stands there staring at the coffee table. Aiba wish he weren’t here.
Right then, Nino’s eyes change from disbelief to anger. He jumps at Aiba, who is not expecting such reaction. Aiba loses balance, and the two of them crash on the wooden floor in a loud thud. A slap lands on his face so hard Aiba feels the burn on his skin. Before Nino can land another hit, Jun rushes in to pull him away from Aiba and Sho is quick enough to pull Aiba up on his feet. Nino is screaming in Jun’s tight grip. He resists, yelling angrily, for a minute before he calms down enough to only stares at Aiba furiously. Nino looks like he wants to tear him to pieces. Aiba looks at Nino’s reaction and his tear falls down silently. He feels something inside his chest snaps.
“Calm down, Nino. This is not helping.” It is Sho who breaks the silence. His hand reaches for Aiba face when he inspects to see the damage of Nino’s attack.
“That hurt, isn’t it?” Nino asks, anger is still in his voice, “That’s for hurting Oh-chan. You deserve more.” Nino’s furious but sincere comment hits Aiba harder than his slap. “You should not play with his feelings. Why did you treat him like that?” Nino’s voice is so loud, close to a scream. Aiba never feels as guilty or as ashamed in his life. He mumbles an apology muffled by his own sobbing.
“What happened, Aiba? Why did you break up with Leader?” Jun asks more calmly and in a tone of matter of fact. The contrast between the two voices is obvious, but Aiba knows the anger is boiling in both of them. Aiba tries to stop his sobbing. Jun is expecting an answer.
That’s when it hits him, the strangeness of Jun’s question.
“Why did I…break up…with Leader?” Aiba repeats the question, confused. His gaze shifts from Jun to Nino and from Nino to Sho. All of them are looking back at him, expecting his explanation.
“But I…” Aiba begins to look frantic, “Didn’t Oh-chan and Nino…?” He turns from one member to another. His confused eyes search for an answer in each one of them. Jun looks surprise at Aiba’s reaction. Sho looks like he feels sorry for Aiba. Nino is full of annoyance.
At that exact moment, Aiba finally understands. Aiba eventually realizes what kind of mistake he has just made. Nino is not Ohno’s boyfriend. He has never been. Aiba is. Or at least, he was, until he has broken it up with Ohno the week before.
“You never accept his feeling, didn’t you? You always made him feeling uncertain all the time.” Nino states it out rather coldly. “I would never have thought you are that type of guy.” There is a strong disappointment in Nino’s voice. Sho is quick to intervene and reminds Nino to be nice. On the other hand, Jun looks like he supports every single sentiment Nino has. “Whatever it is that you have done, it is killing Oh-chan. You may not be serious with him, but you cannot hurt him like this.” Nino sounds desperate. It is not easy to make Nino desperate.
Aiba can hardly stand. The realization of his mistake hits him harder than anything. What he has done to Ohno all these months come back to him. How cruel he must have looked to be. He walks out on Ohno when the older man confesses. Aiba always leaves Ohno to sleep alone after they make love. Aiba never commits, never confirms, and never shows his mutual feelings for Ohno. It is only Ohno who shows how much he wants Aiba and how much he cares. Aiba has been avoiding and running away from his true feeling all these time.
How can it come to this? Aiba is in total dismay. Then a soft but firm hand wrapped around his fingers, firm and assuring. Aiba knows whose hand it belonged to even before he sees its owner, standing at his side. Sho does not say anything when he pulls Aiba into his arms. Aiba takes in all the strength he can from what is offered. He is so broken, so confused. He never means any harm. Yet, it seems that he has hurt everyone. A familiar and comforting voice whispers into his ear, “Please, Aiba. Fix it.”
From what Jun tells him, Ohno has been shutting himself in the bedroom for the whole week. Nino is the first to know of the situation four days ago. He called Jun, who also has failed to get Ohno out. Sho has canceled his vacation and flies back to check on Leader. That did not help either. No one can communicate with Aiba, whom they know is the source of the problem. So Jun has decided to take action, trying to get Aiba to fix the crisis he has caused.
Now they shove Aiba into Ohno’s bedroom and tell him he cannot leave alone.
Aiba does not plan to.
The room is dark. The light curtain is drawn, allowing only little bit of moonlight and the suburbs neon to get through. At first, the room looks unoccupied. It is all so quiet. Aiba allows his eyes to adjust to the darkness and slowly takes in the contents of the room. The room is medium size equipped to the minimum. The bed is quite small even for the size and is located on the side closer to the door. The rather small bed is neat and tidy. No sign of anyone sleeping or has slept on it recently. A build-in closet is on one side and there is a door to what Aiba assumes to be a bathroom. There is no TV, no computer, and no other entertainment system. In fact, there is nothing else except for a large canvas propping against a bare wall on the far side. Aiba remembers it is Nino's portrait. He remembers that small section of the right eye that he catches a glimpse weeks before. Aiba cannot help himself. The next thing he knows, he starts walking towards the portrait. Something draws him in. His eyes stare at the unfinished painting. The dim light makes only some details visible. One side of the eyes is finished. Another is already outlined and partly colored. Aiba slowly takes in those information and the realization hits him, hard. The eyebrows, the outline of the face, the thin lips, it isn’t Nino. It is his own unusually sadden and distant gaze staring back at him.
Is this how he looks like in Ohno’s eyes during these past months?
And at the floor just in front of the painting, curled up into almost a ball, is Ohno Satoshi.
"Oh-chan." Aiba cries out softly. His voice is so hoarse from the lack of speak. There is a sudden stir of the body on the ground. Ohno has recognized Aiba's presence. Yet he does not turn nor does he move from the original position. Aiba calls his name again and when there is no response, Aiba drops on the floor and reaches for the small man. As soon as his hand touches Ohno’s shoulder, Ohno instantly jerks away from the touch. There is a soft whimper. Then there’s just absolute silence and stillness again. The reaction startles Aiba. He retreats to the wall, unsure of what he has to do. Why is Ohno like this? It is all Aiba’s fault.
Lost and confused, Aiba starts to cry. It is just tear falling down at first before it turns into full wailing and bawl. His chest hurts. His heart hurts. Aiba does not know what to do. He isn’t good with words like Sho. He is not quick-witted like Nino. He is not as willful as Jun. Aiba is just Aiba. He has tried to fixed the problem once when he chose to walk away. Look where it leads him to, where it leads all of them to. He has the best intention but how come things still turn out this badly. Aiba is crying so hard his body trembles from the overwhelming emotion. Suddenly, the shaking stops. A pair of arms wrapped around him. A slim, muscular pair of arms that is so familiar to him. Aiba realizes they are Ohno’s. The broken man on the floor decides that consoling Aiba is more important than his own sadness. That makes Aiba to cry even more. This man has been his from the beginning, yet Aiba throws it all away because he’s too self-absorbed and too frightened to say anything aloud. Aiba buries his face in Ohno’s nape while crying his heart out. He feels Ohno pulling him even tighter into his embrace.
“It’s OK, Aiba-chan. It’s OK.” Ohno’s voice is soft and tender. One of Ohno’s hands supports the back of Aiba while another ruffles Aiba’s hair affectionately. Aiba tries to say something but cannot. His emotions are too overwhelming. “It’s OK.” Ohno cupped Aiba’s face in his two hands as if he wants Aiba to pay full attention to his words, “I love you.” Ohno smiles gently at Aiba, yet it fills with sadness, “It is not your fault if you don’t love me. It’s OK.”
Aiba’s heart breaks and he cries even more. He pulls Ohno in a hug so tight he cannot breathe himself. “That’s not true.” Aiba mumbles through hiccups. Ohno’s look changes to confusion. Aiba’s face perks up then his lips reach Ohno’s. The older man responds to his advancement. Their lips crush as if searching for something more. Aiba lets his reaction does the talking.
Aiba cannot find words to explain how he truly feels about Ohno, but he hopes his kiss would.
Aiba hopes his body will tell Ohno that Aiba loves him too.