[identity profile] stormymood.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] arashi_exchange
A piece of rainbow for [livejournal.com profile] smile_arigatou Part 1

Title: Love Letters and Music (I Remember You)
Pairing : Ohno/Nino
Rating/Warning: R
Summary: AU. Ohno is one of Japan’s popular singers and only sings songs composed for him by an anonymous composer. But everything is about to change when Ohno’s management forces him to meet a new composer to work with him on his new album.
Notes: For the lovely, smile-arigatou, girl, you made me write seven drafts of fics before I settled on this one, seriously :D But the fact of the matter is that I enjoyed writing for you, so I really wish you’ll like this. Thank you to the wonderful mods of this exchange for allowing me a few days extension, I really appreciate it. To the lovely A, who always have to check for me on the last minute, you are the best and I love you. Lastly, thank you to all my wonderful cheerleaders – for your words of encouragements, for believing in me when I thought I couldn’t do it. You guys are the absolute best <3


*+*


Ohno Satoshi looked up from the stacks of demo CDs he’d been checking out for the past half hour to find his manager, Sakurai Sho, staring expectantly down at him.

“Excuse me?”

Sho gave him a look – one that was of pure indulgence and a little bit of something he couldn’t place his finger on; at other times, Ohno would be grateful for it, for Sho’s seemingly never-ending patience when it came to him, but not today.

“You heard me,” Sho said, levelly.

“I did,” Ohno returned, frowning; “I just thought maybe I heard it wrong,” he said. “Did you say something about us meeting a new composer?”

“Yes.”

“Why?” he asked; Sho looked taken aback at the abruptness of his question, knowing that for one, he never really cared about how they want his singing career managed so long as he got to sing the songs he liked, the songs he chose himself.

For years now, Ohno had only been singing songs by this one, anonymous composer, whose song compositions were sent through Ohno’s agency, addressed personally to him.

It was just a coincidence that he’d been there when the first demo CD arrived because if he hadn't, he was sure it wouldn’t have reached him. Nakai, his manager back then, was a certified asshole and Ohno knew the jerk would have trashed the package without even letting Ohno know about it.

At first, he honestly wasn’t sure what to do about the song. He was worried to even let his management know about its existence because they’d sure tell him to either ignore it or worse, throw it out. Ohno resolved on keeping it, almost forgetting about it completely, at least until another demo song arrived in the office for him two weeks later.

This time, Ohno’s curiosity won him over. Later that night when he went home with the second demo CD in hand, he purposely sat himself down and checked both demos out, finding himself honestly mesmerized before he was even done listening to the first one. The first demo song, Gimmick Game, even made him choreograph the song in his head on the spot. It was so damn catchy, the words downright sexy that right then and there, he decided to place a call to Nakai, requesting him to arrange a meeting with their management’s executives the next day.

And then the rest, as they say, was history.

Weeks later, four more demo CDs arrived. Ohno was in the middle of recording the song Gimmick Game, with an additional two coupling songs from different composers. The single was due for release the month after.

The next four demo CDs he received, as usual, only had Ohno’s name and company address on them, but no details, not even one, about who they came from, just from which location the package was sent. Ohno had spent a fortune hiring someone to investigate who the anonymous sender was, but even then they weren’t able to find anything.

The sender – and even now this amused Ohno to a fault – obviously preferred to remain anonymous. And this was despite the glaring fact that his songs all made it to the top of the Oricon charts on the same day they were released. Ohno was certain it meant that it was the composer’s own decision to retain his anonymity because there was no way he could not have known that his songs were topping the charts and had somehow accidentally made a certain down-under singer famous.

“Management order,” Sho said. “Said it would be better to try something else, something that’s not your usual. It’s for your upcoming anniversary album so they want someone else, someone who is apparently the industry’s best composer to date to work with you this time around.”

He waved a hand at Sho and took his attention back to the stacks of CDs he had been checking out earlier. He had just received one a few days ago, and he hadn't listened the ones he received few weeks back so he decided he would today. He hadn’t gotten around checking them since he’d been too busy with his CM filming and magazine photoshoot commitments.

“I have enough material for the upcoming album, you of all people should know that,” he said, pointing to the CDs he was checking out and the ones that were arranged methodically on the shelves. He had more or less a hundred songs, half of those he still hadn’t gotten around to check properly and he knew that most of them were good enough to make it into recording.

“And I don’t need a new composer,” he added, dismissively, “Tell them that.”

“Believe me, I already did,” Sho said. Ohno wouldn’t have believed him if it wasn’t for the fact that Sho knew him well enough to know that ever since he’d recorded and released the very first song the anonymous composer sent him, he’d long stopped accepting song compositions from anyone else. “And I’m telling you that on this one, their decision is final. They want you to work with this composer, at least for this album, or they won’t let you release anything.”

He kept quiet; Sho did too, but he had his gaze locked on Sho’s and he knew that the cacophony of emotion flitting across his face was answer enough. It was always difficult for him to verbalize what he wanted, and for so long he just went with whatever his management (and Sho) asked of him, but never when it came to his song choices.

That part was all him; that was the only thing he demanded from them after all: that he’d get to sing what he wanted, work on the material he chose himself regardless if the producers or the record label would end up releasing it or not.

“As if I ever cared about what they wanted,” he muttered, more out of spite than anything. It wasn’t like he didn’t see this coming, because he did; Sho had told him more than once ever since the release of his third album, that he shouldn’t expect their management to be always this accommodating. One of these days, he would a release a song that might not get popular, and, as should be expected, management would most likely step forward to take every possible precautionary measure to steer his career back on track.

Even if it meant taking the one thing – this privilege he’d been given ever since he debuted – away.

“I know you don’t, Satoshi-kun, but as long as you are under contract, you know you are expected to do as they say,” Sho pointed out. “I’m sorry.”

He shook his head and gathered the demo CDs in a pile, placing them back to the box where Sho had stashed them before.

“You have nothing to apologize for, Sho-kun,” he said, forcing a smile. “None of this is your fault, okay? I know you’d have fought them on my behalf if you could have, but as you said, as long as I’m under their contract, there is nothing I can do but obey. And that’s what we will do for now,” he said. One day, soon, he’d have to sit down to think things through, to revise and revisit, but for now, it would have to wait. “When do they want me to meet this new composer again?”

To his credit, Sho looked not the least bit pleased. “As soon as possible.”

His eyebrows twitched at that. “When?”

Sho tilted his head a little. “In an hour,” Sho said. “I was told he is already on his way to the office.”

“But I thought I had rehearsals –“

“It has been cancelled.”

He resisted the urge to scoff at that and instead, shook his head and pulled himself up. “Fine.”

Sho looked surprised. “Okay? That’s it? You’re not going to try and bite my head off for this?” Sho said, obviously meaning it as a joke because Ohno never once did that. Even when he was angry. Not to Sho, at least.

He chuckled. “I don’t plan on making your life harder than it already is, Sho-kun,” he said, “so let’s go.”

“Thank you, Satoshi-kun.” Sho said, pointing at the door. Ohno sighed and marched towards it, heart heavy in his chest.


*+*

“I heard he worked with Utada Hikaru-san on her last album,” Sho told him once they were out of the van and on their way to meet the composer. Ohno tried to recall what her carrier single was but he couldn’t, shrugging it off eventually. Well, it wasn’t like he had much free time to listen to other artists’ songs anyway, and even if he did, most of his free time was spent either at sea or doing art.

“Her album stayed in the Oricon chart for seven consecutive weeks, three weeks at number one.”

“Not bad,” he mumbled absently. He knew he should at least pay attention but it was difficult when his heart wasn’t in it and he was too busy reminding himself to at least be professional enough in front of the composer when they met.

For one, it wasn’t the man’s fault he’d been hired to work with Ohno, and vice versa; or that the only reason Ohno agreed to meet him was because his management forced him to. And as Sho had said, it would be better to keep his mouth shut for now, let his management do what they thought was right. Ohno’s plan to revise and revisit would have to be put on hold until then.

“Heard he’s good-looking, too,” Sho added just as they rounded the hall. Ohno chuckled and shook his head. Sometimes, he didn’t know if it was a blessing that his manager knew almost everything about him – his odd hobbies, the things that ticked him off, and most especially his sexual preference.

But he guessed it was okay; he pretty much knew enough embarrassing stuff about Sho after all, so it was just fair that Sho should too.

“Maybe I could ask him for his number so you can, I don’t know, call him and convince him to back off? You could do it, yes?”

“I could,” Sho said, smirking. “But I won’t. Sorry, Satoshi-kun.” Sho apologized, though he did not sound the least bit apologetic. Ohno felt wholly justified for hitting him hard on the shoulder in retaliation.

“Keep your mouth shut, then,” he said, without heat.

Only a few paces away were the conference room, and adjacent to it was the small recording studio, mostly used for on the spot demo recording. Sho took the lead and nodded at him as he reached for the door and opened it wider for him.


*+*

To say that he was surprised upon meeting the composer was an understatement.

For one, Matsumoto Jun didn’t quite look like one. In fact, if Ohno was going to be completely honest about it, he could have pegged the other man for a movie star, no kidding. Ohno had a hard time taking his gaze away from the man, from his perfectly styled hair to his obviously tailored two-piece elegant suit.

“I was told you needed new materials for your upcoming anniversary album,” Matsumoto Jun said with the air of an aristocrat. Or a person who just knew what he could do and was not afraid to flaunt it. Ohno was honestly a little terrified of him. “Is that correct, Ohno-san?”

I don’t, Ohno wanted to say, but Sho was nodding at him from the opposite corner like a parent nudging his child; As if reminding him verbally beforehand that he should refrain from trying to fuck things up wasn’t enough, Sho had to be there to remind Ohno of it personally too.

Ohno tried not to act like he was considering requesting Matsumoto to kick his manager out and instead turned his gaze away, hoping he could tune Sho out.

“Ohno-san?”

“Yeah,” he said, pausing, considering his answer for a minute before he settled on, “Yes, I believe so, Matsumoto-san.” he answered, meeting Matsumoto’s gaze.

“Though I suppose we have to agree on certain things before we proceed, yes?” Matsumoto asked. Ohno nodded. “And that’s -?”

Ohno held Matsumoto’s gaze steadily. “You have to let me sample the songs first, if that’s okay,” he said, dimly aware of the obvious shift in Matsumoto’s expression the second the words were out of his mouth. He was also vaguely aware of Sho waving frantically from the corner, obviously trying to get his attention and probably just waiting for him to glance his way so he could ask him what the fuck he thought he was doing but he figured Sho could wait his turn.

Of course Ohno knew, what he was saying, and saying it was indeed reason enough to get himself (and his poor manager) in trouble but to be honest, that was the least of his concerns. He agreed to meet this new composer on the grounds that his management wanted him to work on new materials for his next album, and that Matsumoto was good enough to make it happen, so he was going to make Matsumoto prove it. He wanted to make sure Matsumoto was as good as they said he was by checking his compositions first.

“No problem,” Matsumoto said. “I already have a few tracks prepared just in case. But they’re in my studio; I didn’t think you would ask me for a demo song on our first meeting so I didn’t bring any with me.”

“That’s okay,” he agreed before finally giving Sho the attention he’d been asking for. “We have nothing else scheduled today, right, Sakurai-san?” Sho was barely able to nod his head in answer before his gaze shifted back to Matsumoto. “We can go with you. If you’re free, that is.”

“I’m not the artist here, Ohno-san,” Matsumoto said with a grin, and the genuineness of it honestly eased Ohno’s tension slightly. “So it goes without saying that I’m not as busy as you are.” Matsumoto stood as he said this, and Ohno followed suit. Then he turned to Sho, his phone already in hand. “Give me your number and I’ll send you the address of my studio. You can follow me there.”

Sho simply tilted his head and Ohno couldn’t have been prouder of Sho when Sho said: “Thank you, Matsumoto-san, but I already have it.”

Matsumoto raised his perfectly groomed eyebrows and grinned. “Let’s go, then.”


*+*

They made it to Matsumoto’s studio in under an hour. They parked at the front and both he and Sho realized they had stopped in front of an apartment complex. When they hopped out of the car, Matsumoto was already waiting for them at the entrance.

“Here?” Ohno whispered under his breath to Sho, who looked equally perplexed.

“Looks like it,” Sho said at the same time Matsumoto stepped forward and gestured them in. “He probably lives here too, I think.”

Matsumoto probably didn’t, judging with how high-profile he looked but that was something Ohno figured he shouldn’t say. “Probably,” he agreed instead, as he and Sho followed Matsumoto inside.


*+*

They were led into a relatively big apartment three floors up. Unsurprisingly, it was a studio-converted one. From the outside, the building sure didn’t look like it was housing a studio like this, but it was nonetheless impressive. Inside, it was even more so.

“We bought three units here and converted two into this studio,” Matsumoto explained as he led them inside through the automated glass door. They were ushered into what seemed to be the live room – the recording room itself with the isolation booth, and the control room beyond it. There was music equipment everywhere – the usual stuff found inside a recording studio – but the equipment here looked far better (and obviously newer) than what Ohno was used to.

But the grand piano sitting at the far corner was what grabbed his attention the second he stepped inside; the battered red acoustic guitar was leaning against it, as was the stick of a man sprawled on his ass on the floor, scrawling something on the notebook spread out in front of him.

He didn’t seem to notice he had company.

“Nino, I brought the artist and his manager with me,” Matsumoto said, loud enough to startle the man from his writing. He looked up, briefly nodding at Matsumoto before he was taking his gaze to Sho, then to Ohno. Their gazes meet for about a second or two before the man was ducking down to grab his belongings in haste. “They’re here to check out the demos.” Matsumoto added and Ohno watched the man nod his head slightly at them before he disappeared into a door leading to the control room.

He and Sho looked at Matsumoto questioningly. “That was Ninomiya-san,” Matsumoto said, “He’s the technical guy,” pointing at the control room where the technical guy, Nino, disappeared into. “He’ll prepare the sample songs for you, so, shall we go?”

Ohno figured this was what he came here for anyway. “Lead the way, Matsumoto-san, please.”


*+*

“Is there something wrong, Ohno-san?” Matsumoto asked, sounding vaguely worried. Ohno continued frowning at the lyric sheet, more particularly at the tiny letter initials stamped at the bottom of the page.

This was the second song Matsumoto made him listen to and to be honest, he liked it. He didn’t think he would but there was something about the melody that made him think it was composed specifically for him. And the words… Ohno couldn’t quite place it but there was something vaguely familiar about them too.

He put the earphones back on as he squinted at the sheet and Matsumoto gestured to the technical guy through the glass wall. The music started playing and Ohno hummed the words softly under his breath, following the melody, heart beating unusually fast in his chest. Something nagged at the back of Ohno’s mind, but he didn’t think it was appropriate to say it now, especially when he wasn’t even sure he was right.

His eyes darted downwards to where the tiny letters were again; meaningful in a way Ohno hadn’t thought before, at least not after he saw them here, now.

He snatched the earphones off and motioned for Matsumoto to scoot closer; he couldn’t help it, he was itching to know – waiting until Matsumoto was close enough to see. He looked up then, sure that Matsumoto was looking. He pointed his fingertip at the letter initials marked at the bottom of the page.

“Do this letters mean anything?” he asked, carefully. It was difficult not to raise suspicion, especially with what he was asking but he knew that if he didn’t, if he kept quiet, he’d go crazy. He was already cataloguing the number of times he’d seen the same thing, or at least something that looked similar to it, on which sample song and in what box and especially where he'd ask Sho to put these marked sample songs.

Matsumoto considered it for a moment before he nodded. “Yes,” he said, and Ohno felt like his heart was about to jump out of his chest. “They’re my initials,” Matsumoto said, pointing. “MJ. Matsumoto Jun.”


*+*

They left the studio an hour and a half later, with a copy of three sample songs and their corresponding lyric sheets, and a promise to call Matsumoto the day after.

As soon as he and Sho were in the car, Sho was immediately talking.

“Okay, what the hell was that?” Sho grunted, ignoring Ohno’s lame attempt at keeping his thoughts to himself. Ohno was so lost, but also kind of not, and damn it all, if he wasn’t the most confused individual in the planet right now he’d rejoice; but it was hard to think about it when there was this unfamiliar urgency thrumming at the back of his head, so strong Ohno felt it vibrating across his skin. “You looked like you’ve seen a ghost back there. What the hell happened Satoshi-kun?”

He didn’t know how to explain it without sounding like a complete lunatic but he was also certain that if there was anyone who would understand this, it’d be Sho.

But for now… “Let’s go home,” he said as he buckled himself up almost as if on autopilot. “And I’ll explain it there.”

Sho looked him over once and probably saw something that convinced him the other man was serious. “Fine,” Sho said. “Fine, let’s go.”


*+*

“Satoshi-kun, wait.” Sho struggled to keep up as Ohno half-jogged, half-ran towards his apartment, his keys already in one hand and the other clutching the envelope containing the sample songs he requested from Matsumoto. He was shaking in anticipation and something else, not bothering to wait for Sho to catch up as he unlocked the door the second he reached his apartment, throwing it wide open and sprinting the rest of the way inside.

Sho found him in his makeshift studio a little over ten minutes later, carefully putting down the box containing the very first batch of demo CDs he'd received from his anonymous composer. The boxes were arranged according to the dates he'd received them (thanks to Sho and his awesome organizational skills) so he was able to find the one he was looking for easily. The lyrics sheets where there too, and Ohno gently and very carefully pulled one out, then spread it open on top of the coffee table there along with one of the sheets he took from Matsumoto.

The second his gaze found it, he knew, deep in his gut, that he was right.

“Sho-kun, look,” he said, pointing at one of the very first sheet he received about five years ago more particularly at the letter initials stamped at the bottom, and then at the one he got from Matsumoto earlier.

“Holy crap,” Sho muttered, and Ohno swore he pretty much had the same reaction earlier. Holy crap, indeed. “This… a-are they the same?” Sho asked. Well it was pretty obvious that was the case here. Sho turned to him then, his brows knitted together. “Jesus, are you thinking that Matsumoto-san is… is the same person sending you these songs?” Sho asked, sounding completely baffled.

Ohno slumped on his ass on the floor and stared at both papers, stunned. If he was honest, that was his first thought too. But now that he’d seen both, he wasn’t too sure anymore.

He took the other sheet - the older one - and squinted at the letter initials printed there. Sure, the letters M and J were there, printed permanently on the sheet like the partitions on the sheet were, but there were two more letter initials scrawled next to the letters M and J; the letter scrawls were there, though not as clear as Jun's, as if they were simply added there by a pen or a pencil afterwards.

“Sho-kun, tell me,” he hummed without taking his gaze away from the lyric sheet, finger absently tracing the now too faint letters connected to the M and the J. “Do we have any information about Matsumoto-san when he first started writing songs? Like, who was the first artist he worked with, how he became famous in the song writing business?”

“Are you asking me?” Sho said; Ohno didn’t even have to look up to know that Sho looked sorely affronted. He could very well hear the Geez, Satoshi-kun, and here I thought you knew me better than that even though Sho hadn’t really said it.

“I’m asking you,” he parroted.

He didn’t even need to wait long because then Sho was talking, detailing Matsumoto’s profile like he was simply reading the information directly from the man’s resume. Ohno listened intently, bypassing those details he didn’t need and waiting for that particularly important one to come.

When it did, Ohno held out a finger, cutting Sho off quickly to ask: “Wait, you said 2011,” he said, frowning, heart beating crazily fast despite himself.

“Yes,” Sho agreed, looking thoughtful, “it was in 2011 that Matsumoto-san had his big break by writing the carrier single for KissMyFt, only a month after the establishment of his studio. It was around June that year, why?”

June 2011, Matsumoto Jun opened his recording studio, his very first client being Johnnys Entertainment’s newest, and fast rising boy group then, KissMyFt. A few months after that, Ohno received his first demo CD from his anonymous composer with a lyric sheet written on one of the similar sheets, but sent from an unknown location. The very first single he released from the anonymous composer, Gimmick Game, the one that topped every single countdown chart in Japan, was sent to him around August of that year too.

Few months difference, Ohno thought, his mind reeling. It couldn’t have been purely coincidental, could it?

“Change of plans,” he muttered, deciding on the spot that he was not going to wait here for answers. Folding the old lyric sheet and putting it back inside the envelope he took it out from, he slipped it inside the one he got from Matsumoto. He stood up from his sprawling position on the floor and looked at Sho with purpose. “Call Matsumoto-san again, Sho-kun. Tell him we’re heading back to the studio. I need to talk to him again.”

“Huh? But I thought you said –“

“I said change of plans,” he repeated, “Call Matsumoto-san and tell him I need to see him again.” He paused, holding the envelope up with shaking fingers. “There’s something I need to confirm with him, and there’s no way I can wait until tomorrow to do it.”

“It’s about your composer, isn’t it?” Sho asked, though with how he looked at Ohno with those big, hopeful eyes of his, Ohno was certain Sho already knew. “You think that after five long years of waiting and waiting, you’ve finally found him, don’t you?”

“Yes,” he breathed, wondering if he sounded as hopeful as he felt. He took the first few steps towards the door, knowing Sho was just right behind him. Just like always.

“Let’s hope to God that this time, I’m right.”


*+*


“So, are you saying you don’t recognize this?” Ohno said, pointing. The lyric sheets were spread wide in front of them, the same way they had been earlier in his apartment. The only difference was that right now, he was showing them to the person he suspected was the anonymous composer who’d been sending him songs since almost the same time he debuted, or if he wasn’t, someone he knew obviously was. “That these papers don’t belong to you? See, they both have your initials, don’t they?” he asked, darting his fingers between the two papers.

Sure, the older one was a little torn around the edges, and its color changed, but it was obvious to anyone with eyes that the two were the same. At least the papers were, the written words though… and whoever did it was an entirely different matter altogether.

There was an awkward pause, and Ohno would have been lying if he had said he hadn't just held his breath right then, waiting for Matsumoto’s answer.

“Sure, they do,” Matsumoto agreed, low, under his breath, but Ohno could already hear the but coming. Matsumoto raised his head to meet his eyes. “But if you’re asking me if I was the one who wrote this, I’m sorry,” Matsumoto said, pushing the other lyric sheet forward to point out what was already obvious. “It wasn’t me,” Matsumoto added.

“I can see that,” he agreed, with a slight nod of his head. Sure, the papers were the same, even the letter initials printed on them were which made Ohno believe that they came from the same source. The only problem here was, the hand-written lyrics on the one Ohno received from his anonymous composer years and years before sure didn’t look the slightest bit similar to the one that Matsumoto owned.

Of course they didn’t. Matsumoto’s own were printed directly on the paper, after all.

“But you agree with me that the papers are the same, yes? They’re yours, right?”

“Sure,” Matsumoto said, though this time, Ohno detected something different in the way he said the words, like he was trying to be too careful lest he would give something away. Ohno wasn’t sure what to make of it.

“They look pretty much the same to me, too, but the thing is…” Matsumoto paused, eyes thoughtful. When he met Ohno’s gaze again, Ohno knew something in his expression shifted. “Well, I can’t say for sure that this is ours,” Matsumoto held the paper up for further inspection. “See, we have this paper sheet printed specifically for us but you know how it is with these things. Papers, clothes, designs, everything could be easily duplicated nowadays so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone could have gotten the design, reproduced it and used it.”

Well, okay, that was a possibility Ohno hadn't thought of before but it certainly had him thinking now. But still, he couldn’t shake off the feeling that he was so close to finding out who the anonymous composer was; but feeling and knowing it were two completely different things.

But staring at Matsumoto now and knowing that he wasn’t the one Ohno had been looking for brought him some kind of relief he didn’t know he needed, wanted, until he heard Matsumoto confirmed it.

It made him think about that one night - months before he was scouted by one of the agency’s talent coordinator - he spent tangled around a person he met earlier that evening in that particular bar he used to perform in. The memory ached as he stared at Matsumoto’s face, glad but in equal-part sad that Matsumoto wasn’t the one he was looking for, because then it meant he was back in square one.

Somehow, Ohno had this stupid notion that the same guy he was with that night was the same guy sending him these song compositions. And it wasn’t unfounded, no, because he always carried the probable evidence for it, folded very carefully and tucked safely inside his wallet in between his family’s photo and his youngest niece’s latest one, with him no matter where he went

“So this,” he said, pointing at the old sheet he brought with him, “is not yours” It was more of a statement rather than a question. Matsumoto nodded.

“That’s not mine,” Matsumoto parroted. “I’m not the one who composed it,” Matsumoto added. It wasn’t at all a complete denial, not really, at least on Matsumoto’s part, especially if he truly wasn’t the person behind the compositions. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to try and ask.

“You wouldn’t possibly know who it might be, then?” he asked, hopeful. It wasn’t like he wanted to point fingers, but there was no way he could leave this without making sure he’d covered every ground, that he’d asked what could be asked.

“No,” Matsumoto said, firm and sure, though Ohno swore his eyes were saying something else. “No, Ohno-san, I’m sorry.”


*+*

They drove back to his apartment in silence, Ohno’s gaze straying out the window every now and then without really seeing anything. Sho was equally quiet beside him, just throwing Ohno occasional stares through the mirror when he thought Ohno wasn’t looking.

When they reached the apartment, however, Sho’s patience waned drastically. Especially when the first thing Ohno did was to walk straight to his makeshift studio without another word, where Sho found him moments later staring at the lyric sheet of the song he took with him earlier when they went back to Matsumoto’s studio.

“Is there something you’re not telling me, Satoshi-kun?” Sho asked. He sounded worried.

Ohno had to forcefully look up from the lyric sheet he had spread across the coffee table despite his reluctance, and shook his head. It wasn’t like he didn’t want to tell Sho, it’s just that he wasn’t really sure what to say, or where to begin.

Sho, thankfully, didn’t need him to. He was pretty good at catching on things like this after all.

“It’s about the composer, isn’t it?” Sho asked. He looked up. “No, not Matsumoto-san,” Sho clarified before he did so himself. “The other one, the one who’d been sending you those compositions,” Sho said. It was obvious that Sho knew it too, the reason why Ohno had gone back to the studio and talked to Matsumoto.

He sighed. “I thought I had already found him,” he mumbled, feeling a little defeated. It shouldn’t feel like this, really; he’d almost accepted the fact that he was never going to find out who that person was, and why he was doing this, but his meeting with Matsumoto earlier changed that. Suddenly, there were these clues and hints he didn’t think existed until he saw them, and then the blinding urge to know who the person behind these songs came rushing back the way he thought it never would.

“Guess I was wrong,” he said. “I shouldn’t have expected that finding him would be so easy. He managed to keep himself hidden for five years now.”

Sho looked a little confused, and well, Ohno couldn’t exactly blame him. Everything about this was confusing after all. The fact alone that someone with the anonymous’ composer’s caliber would want to keep his anonymity despite knowing (and Ohno was sure the composer was aware of this given that his songs were nothing but a continuous stream of hits ever since Ohno released the very first demo CD he had received) he was rocking the entirety of the Japanese Music Industry was enough to make anyone utterly confused.

“I feel like I’m missing something here,” Sho said. “Like some big chunk of withheld information consisting of fated meetings and unforeseen separation.”

He snorted. He honestly didn’t expect that one, not from Sho at least, but it was honestly just like Sho to literally hit the nail on the head with a guess and it was somewhat hilariously accurate.

He pointed at the familiar initials printed on the paper with his fingertip, his eyes equally tracing the too-faint letters connected to them and vaguely feeling like they were more than just letters. Ohno knew they meant something else, something more, and it was up to him to find out what it was.

“Help me find this guy and maybe I’ll tell you,” he said, looking up.

“Find this guy, how?”

He wasn’t a hundred percent sure but something told him that if there was somewhere he needed to start looking, it should be there.

They were going to go back to Matsumoto’s studio, whether Ohno liked his song compositions or not.

“Call Matsumoto-san and tell him to schedule my first recording the day after tomorrow,” he told Sho. “I have a feeling he knows something.”


*+*


Ohno’s plans included snooping around Matsumoto’s studio while he was being distracted by Sho.

Of course it was easier said than done, what with the fact that both he and Sho had found it difficult to distract Matsumoto when he was in full work mode. They realized this as soon as Matsumoto had pumped enough caffeine into his system, and was working like a well-oiled machine soon after.

They arrived at the studio more than half an hour earlier than needed on the first day, expecting anyone but Matsumoto himself to let them in the door the moment they buzzed in. Surprised, he and Sho simply managed a ‘what the hell?’ look shared between them behind Matsumoto's back as the other man let them inside the studio’s door and vaguely grumbled something about coffee and people coming in too early under his breath.

The early morning scowl didn’t escape Ohno’s attention too.

They were first led in the control room, where he and Sho were offered each a cup of one of the fanciest tasting coffee Ohno ever had in his life. Apparently, Matsumoto and his crew (at least the ones Ohno was able to meet so far) loved coffee as much as he and Sho did.

“I believe you've already met Ninomiya-san yesterday?” Matsumoto gestured to the familiar-looking stick of a man sitting at one of the chairs with his headphones on and fiddling on some buttons or something. They hadn't, but he figured it wasn’t all that important, wasn’t even worth mentioning. The guy, Ninomiya, didn’t bother looking up from what he was doing. Matsumoto seemed to be used to this because then he was turning his attention to another person sitting a chair away from Ninomiya.

“And this is Aiba-san,” Matsumoto introduced the taller guy, who immediately sprang up from his chair to greet them with a smile and an enthusiastic handshake to match it. “He will be assisting us – well, specifically Ninomiya-san –while you, Ohno-san, do your thing there.” Matsumoto pointed at the glass wall, specifically at the recording booth beyond it.

To this, Ninomiya at least raised his head enough to acknowledge them with a slight tilt of his head, though he was still not directly looking at Ohno. It felt strange. Ohno ended up wondering what he could have done wrong to deserve such sour treatment.

“Aiba Masaki, at your service,” the taller guy beamed at him and Sho, introducing himself yet again. Ohno was barely paying him any attention when Sho subtly elbowed him on the side, making him realize he had been staring at the other quiet guy thoughtfully. “I’m in-charge of the less complicated things around here such as minor cable repairs and making sure that glass right there –“ He pointed at the wall separating the control room and the recording room, “is as shiny and stain-free as it should be.”

Sho snorted beside him as he muttered, jokingly and not quite-lowly: “Seems like a tough job to handle, eh, Aiba-san?”

The guy winked at him playfully; Ohno liked him instantly. “The toughest, I assure you,” Aiba said, sounding very serious, at least until Matsumoto came over and whacked Aiba on the head with a folder. Ohno found himself laughing despite himself, eyes glazing over that Ninomiya guy absently.

“Perhaps we should go and start the recording, while we’re still young and able?” Matsumoto said, rolling his eyes good-naturedly at Aiba who was still rubbing his abused head in feigned hurt, before sitting himself next to Ninomiya again with a grin. “Whenever Ohno-san is ready, of course.”

He nodded and gestured Matsumoto to lead the way. “Yeah,” he said, meeting Sho’s eyes briefly. “Yeah, let’s do this.”


*+*

Where Ohno expected the recording would take ages, it didn’t. Somehow, after the few minor adjustments on the way he sang the first few verses of the song Matsumoto chose himself – a slow-beat, kind of jazzy and sexy, Naked, – the recording went by smoothly. Ohno didn’t even realize he was done, until he heard the assistant technician’s breathy voice, Aiba, congratulating him in his ear.

“Off to a good start, Ohno-san,” Aiba said in his ear before Ohno took his headphones off. Through the glass, he spied Aiba waving at him through it. He waved back as if on cue, and somehow found his gaze straying from Aiba to Ninomiya. He found himself watching the other technician avidly and laughing softly to himself when he saw Ninomiya chucking something at Aiba’s head.

Matsumoto, thankfully, was there to take his attention away from the two. “Okay, let’s do the playback check…Nino, on your cue, yeah?” Matsumoto prompted, gesturing him to put his headphones back on. Ohno kept his gaze on Ninomiya, or at least to the part of his face Ohno could see from the distance: his hand raised in the air for a countdown. “Ready when you are, Ohno-san.”


*+*


Three days and only four songs later, Ohno was edgy.

“You do know that it’s a completely bad idea, right?” Sho told him as they were wrapping up the day. Matsumoto was probably with the technicians doing final checks of the song Ohno recorded earlier. “He already told you he knew nothing, that he’s not the one you were looking for. So, you know, I don’t really get why you’re so damn insistent on snooping in the man’s properties just to know that your hunch is right. If he was your composer, I’m sure we would have known it by now, Satoshi-kun.”

Ohno kept quiet. Of course he couldn’t refute what Sho had said, because it was true. Somehow, it was surprising that Matsumoto hadn’t noticed that Ohno was obviously onto something, especially when he was here in the studio. Ohno spent the entirety of his time here checking random things and asking random questions, or at least whenever he wasn’t in the live room, recording a song.

Sure, he hadn’t found anything that would help him connect Matsumoto to his anonymous composer, but Ohno had a feeling that one day soon, he would.

He simply had to be absolutely patient and wait for it.

As if on cue, Matsumoto’s voice was calling out for them. “Final checks are done, Ohno-san,” he said. “Shall I see you the day after tomorrow for the next one?”

He glanced at his wrist watch; it was only quarter past twelve, just in time for lunch. Knowing that his next appointment wouldn’t be in a few hours at least, he decided he could treat Matsumoto and his crew to lunch.

“Sho-kun, rain check on that late-night variety show appearance?” he asked, holding his hand up at Matsumoto.

Sho didn’t even as much as blinked. “It’s confirmed, why?”

“Time?”

“We have to be there half an hour before the show airs. So, six-thirty-ish?”

He nodded. “Plenty of time to go out and have lunch,” he said, then, turning towards the dividing glass wall, he waved at Matsumoto. “Matsumoto-san, you have anything scheduled for the next couple of hours?”

Matsumoto didn’t even pause when he answered. “No.” Then, like an afterthought, “Why?”

He turned and nodded at Sho, who wasted no time in checking his phone and slapping it against his ear once he found what he was looking for.

“Lunch,” he said, as Sho rambled on the phone with someone, obviously securing them a restaurant reservation. “Let’s go?”

Ohno heard an unfamiliar voice adding itself on the conversation. “What, his treat?” The question made him smile, really.

“My treat,” he confirmed just as Aiba bounced from his seat with an excited yell. “I wonder if you guys like Chinese?”


*+*


“You’re not going to believe this guy,” Matsumoto jerked a thumb at Aiba, who suspiciously looked like he wanted to slap his boss’ mouth with dim sum but was holding himself back from outright doing so. On the other hand, the other person, Ninomiya, seemed wholeheartedly devoted to his stir-fried noodles. Ohno couldn’t even see his face despite the close distance because of the way Ninomiya almost had his face buried in his noodle bowl.

Ohno forcefully tore his eyes away from Ninomiya, turning his attention back to Matsumoto.

“So we had this one artist who came over once for a demo recording, right?” Matsumoto told them, outright ignoring Aiba’s whines of protests next to him. Ohno looked on with mild interest while Sho was busy inhaling the rest of his lunch next to him. Ohno chuckled and left him to it. “Nino wasn’t there that time so this guy ended up doing Nino’s job, which was actually just the usual thing they do together.”

“You’re never going to let me live this one down, are you? It was my first time doing it alone, okay? I was nervous.” Aiba grumbled. Matsumoto ignored him again. Next to them, Ohno saw the vague, little smile curving the side of Ninomiya’s mouth that he tried to cover with the back of his hand.

“Why? What did Aiba-san do?” he asked.

“First, he couldn’t turn the music on,” Matsumoto said, grinning like the memory alone was enough to make him want to relive it, if only so he could torture Aiba further. “Then when he finally did, he almost rendered the artist permanently deaf with how loud the instrumental was. I thought he was going to sue us for almost damaging his eardrums by accident. We had to call Nino, who was in the middle of attending that music conference in Seoul to help us figure it out; it was hilarious.”

He laughed, couldn’t not, especially when Aiba did too. It was refreshing to watch them having fun. Ohno wasn't honestly used to the company of funny people despite the fact that his manager was one of the most hilarious people he knew. Perhaps it was the pressure of their jobs that made laughing, or simply finding something to be happy about, a little difficult.

Ohno wished he could change that.

He opened his mouth to say something but it was halted with the sight of Ninomiya standing on his chair, face turned towards Matsumoto.

“Why don’t you tell them about that Ikuta Toma incident? I still think that that one tops the Aiba Masaki’s Life Altering Failures best.” Ninomiya said before he excused himself.


*+*


Not even five minutes later, he found himself trekking the way towards the restaurant’s bathroom.

He left the other three laughing their guts out at Matsumoto’s Ikuta Toma story. Ohno had to leave the table to pee or he would have wet his pants if he didn’t at the hilarity of it all.

He stepped inside the stall’s door and paused at the sound of someone humming a familiar tune.

Ohno frowned, and then looked around, and, finding that the bathroom was mostly empty, he quietly followed the direction where the sound was coming from. He wasn’t even halfway there when the door to the last cubicle opened, and Ninomiya stepped out.

Ohno wasn’t sure if he was imagining it but he swore Ninomiya’s eyes widened in surprise the moment he saw him. But it was gone before Ohno realized it.

“Ninomiya-san,” he said with a slight tilt of his head.

“Ohno-san,” Ninomiya returned the greeting with a bow before he headed straight for the sink. Ohno watched him go, realizing he was acting like a total creep by staring; he had to literally command his feet to move towards the direction of the stall Ninomiya came out from.

Unsurprisingly, when he stepped out, Ninomiya wasn’t there anymore.


*+*


They were on their way to TBS for that variety show appearance when he remembered to ask Sho. He couldn’t ask him earlier in front of the others because he didn’t want to sound like a creep, even though he wasn’t exactly sure if the person humming the familiar tune he heard earlier in the bathroom was Ninomiya.

It took him a while to pin that down, what made it sound so familiar but when he did, he was even able to remember which song it was.

It was his own song, after all.

“Himitsu?” Sho sounded and looked confused, though it could probably be about something else entirely. Ohno was certain Sho had the dates of his singles and album releases memorized. “It was from your 2012 album, One. Why?”

He frowned. Four years ago? He didn’t know it was that old. “2012? Are you sure?”

“Positive,” Sho said, “That was the album you were due to release when I was appointed as your manager so I kind of remember it. I personally like Yume de Ii Kara though, just saying. Anyway, is there any particular reason you are asking?”

He didn’t answer right away, not because he didn’t know what to say but because he knew he was allowing this thing to bother him more than it probably should. But he was, and it was honestly frustrating the crap out of him to know that it wasn’t going to get better anytime soon. At least not until he got the answer he needed.

“Any chance it has been on some radio station’s playlist these days?” he asked, knowing he was subtly avoiding the question by asking another one. He was also aware that he was being outright suspicious but Sho could very deal with it for now. Ohno didn’t have the answers to all these confusing questions himself after all.

Sho shook his head. “Not that I’m aware of, but there might be a slight possibility that it is?” Sho said. “I mean, some DJs do that, playing an older but widely popular song especially if it is being requested.” Sho paused to look at him properly. “I don’t want to sound like I’m prying, Satoshi-kun, but again, may I ask you why you’re suddenly interested about whether or not your older songs are currently being played on the radio?”

Well, he wasn’t sure about it himself really. Maybe he was just being paranoid; maybe it was that desire to meet the anonymous composer so badly that’s what’s driving him to act like this. Like every little event meant something even if they didn’t. It was frustrating the crap out of him too and he knew that if he didn’t find that person sooner or later, he’d go crazy.

“It’s nothing.” He decided to spare Sho the trouble, keeping this to himself for now. There wasn’t much to say, anyway, and he was certain it was what Sho would tell him. He knew it. He didn’t have to hear someone else say it to his face again. “I just thought I heard that song earlier, while we were on our way to the restaurant,” he lied, already feeling bad about it. “I’m sorry; don’t mind me, Sho-kun.”

Sho gave him a look that said he didn’t actually believe him but figured he might as well let it go.


*+*

Their next recording happened a week after. Ohno had been so busy with his other commitments that he barely had enough time to sleep, let alone think deeply about Matsumoto’s connection to his anonymous composer. But that didn’t mean he decided to let it go because he didn’t; he couldn’t.

He was still at home and waiting for Sho to arrive when he found himself once again drawn to the lyric sheets he had taken to carrying around with him now : his favorite – the one from his anonymous composer, Niji -, and the one he got from Matsumoto. The differences were so obvious; he could very easily spot them now, to be honest. And after he looked them over many times for clues, aside from the ones that were just right there for him to see, there was nothing; there wasn't much to point out aside from the ones he’d seen first, not even something new he could work on.

He looked at the sheets, the two of them, hoping for something he hadn’t spotted before. Again, aside from the handwritten words on the one his anonymous composer sent him – the one from Matsumoto had the lyrics printed directly on the paper itself after all – the only other thing that was suspicious enough was the seemingly connecting letters written next to the M and J initials at the bottom. Ohno had spent more than enough time checking it over and over, but still couldn’t figure it out.

He was still squinting at the page when his phone vibrating on the tabletop startled him. It was Sho. He folded the sheets as carefully as he could manage before he grabbed his phone and answered the call.


*+*

When they arrived at the studio, however, Matsumoto wasn’t there yet.

“He had an urgent meeting with the executives of Universal Records,” Aiba told them when he buzzed them in, leading them to wait in Matsumoto’s office. “He said we could go ahead with the recording if you like. Nino will know what to do anyway.”

“Is the meeting going to take a lot of time?” Sho asked, already checking his planner. Ohno vaguely remembered they had to be somewhere in the afternoon, though he wasn’t sure if it was for another CM meeting or something else. “Satoshi-kun has to be at the launch of Softbank’s newest mobile handset before five.” Ah, that one.

Aiba nodded. “I’m not sure but these meetings usually do. Last time, it took him more than half a day to finish. Shall we head on to the studio now, then?”

Ohno and Sho nodded. They might as well get on with it since the technicians are here anyway. “Yeah, we better get started. Matsumoto-san could check it later and ask for a re-recording if he doesn’t like how it turns out.”

Aiba grinned at this. “Don’t worry, Ohno-san,” he said. “I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. Nino knows what to do believe me. He's worked with Matsujun for so long now that he knows what Matsujun wants. Let’s go?”

He got on his feet just as Sho did and followed Aiba out.


*+*

Aiba seemed to be the one in-charge of verbal instructions despite the fact that Ninomiya was the head technician. He realized this as soon as he went into the recording room and it was Aiba’s voice barking things in his ear. Though, it was also kind of annoying, especially when Aiba’s instructions mostly consisted of: “Nino wants you to slow it down for the intro" or "Nino likes that one, it’s good he says.”

Ohno wondered why the other man wouldn’t just tell Ohno that himself.

It really pissed him off but he tried not to show it. He just went with how they wanted him to sing the song, reminding himself of the fact that this was his job and that they were simply doing what was theirs.


*+*

An hour later, they were done. Ohno had never been so relieved to put the headphone down once Aiba signaled his okay, sighing to himself as he listened to Aiba barked an overly excited: “Good job, Ohno-san!” in his ear one last time.

He was about to pull his headphones off when he heard Aiba humming another very familiar tune, this time, something Ohno didn’t even need long to figure out what it was because he knew it.

He scrambled to put the headphones back on, pressing them tightly against his ears and listening to Aiba, until it all became very clear what exactly he was listening to.

It was one of the songs included in the batch that was sent to him a month ago after all.




Follow the link for part 2

Profile

arashi_exchange: (Default)
AMNOS/Arashi fanfiction exchange

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
141516171819 20
21222324252627
28293031   

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 25th, 2017 08:39 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios