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

Title: Gut gegen Nordwind (Title based on the novel "Love virtually")
Pairing: JunBa
Rating/Warnings: NC-17
Summary: Aiba is the owner of a small bookstore. He sells foreign language books, which had always been his dream, but a dream is not always only nice. Luckily a customer is there to help Aiba out.
Notes: Dear [livejournal.com profile] astrangerenters, I somehow loved your bookstore prompt, I hope it’s okay that I took this one. I had so much fun writing it, and I really hope you enjoy reading it. <3

It was Monday – half past nine. A new day started for Aiba. He could already hear the first people on the street, waiting for the shops to open. He took a bite from his bento before he got up to open the roll-up door.

He slipped outside when the door was about half-way up. There were various big boxes in front of his shop. Aiba’s heart made little jumps. That must have been all the new books he had ordered.

Aiba pulled the rummage table outside. He picked up one book to take a closer look at it. There were some scratches on the backside, but it was in a good condition. Aiba would sell it for a cheaper price. Metamorphosis was written on the front side. It was in English. Aiba stroked over the blurb and read it – again. He didn’t know how much time he had spent reading during the last three years. His own little book store had been his biggest wish ever since his school days. And it was a quite unusual store. Of course he sold Japanese bestsellers, but he also had a soft spot for international literature and for things that other stores didn’t sell.

He put the book back onto the table and opened the roller blinds completely. The sun was shining and the air was already pleasantly warm. It was early spring – Aiba’s favourite season. He took the new boxes and brought them into his shop. “Good morning”, he could hear someone saying.

Aiba turned round. “Ah, Nino, good morning.” They were in a small shopping street not really in the centre of Tokyo, but there were a bunch of people who loved to go shopping in this district. The other stores were similar to Aiba’s. They were small and cosy shops, mostly family businesses. The stores hardly changed and slowly Aiba got to know everyone around here. To others it might have been strange if Aiba told them how he felt, but to him it was somehow like family.

“I have a new flavour for you,” Nino smiled at Aiba.

“Really?” Aiba answered without looking at him. He looked at his window dressing. He needed to change it during the day. Winter season was over and he needed some new, lively, literature in there, things that would give you a summer feeling.

“Banana with chocolate crisps.” Now Aiba had to look at the other. He loved bananas. “It’s the newest trend from Italy.” Nino added.

Aiba never got to know why Nino had called this small shop Gelato. He had just heard him talking about Italy with customers. It made Aiba smile because he knew that Nino had never been there. But like Aiba’s dream of a book store, Nino had this special dream about having an ice cream store. And he could see that Nino loved what he was doing.

“Oh that sounds great. I will come by later to buy one. But now I have to sort the new stuff I got.” Aiba pointed at the packages. Every Monday he got a lot of stuff he ordered from publisher companies. The second hand books came from everywhere around the world. Aiba loved searching for books. He only knew English and Japanese, but Aiba also bought foreign stuff like Italian books or German ones. And to his surprise people came to buy from him. During the last few years he had gotten more and more regular customers. He wouldn’t become rich with his job – it was quite the contrary, he wasn’t even able to afford an actual apartment, so Aiba lived in back room of his store – but he didn’t care about that. To Aiba, his life was perfect.

He carried the packages to his sales counter. “Seems to be heavy”, he heard a voice at the door. Aiba looked up. “Oh, hello Ohno. Yes, these are the Haruki Murakami books I ordered. And the ones by that Norwegian author Henning Mankell. I got his works in Norwegian and Japanese. Isn’t that great?” Aiba held up two books and smiled at the other.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Ohno answered.

“You have no idea, have you?” Aiba whined. “Did you start reading the books I gave to you?”

Ohno smiled guiltily. “You know there is a lot to do in the shop, and you know I …” he started.

Aiba pulled one eyebrow up. “You don’t like reading, right?”

“Nooooo, that’s totally not it, it’s just … you know”, Ohno sighed. “Okay, yes. I don’t like reading.”

Aiba took a deep breath before he started talking. “You know books are the most beautiful things on earth. You are able to dive into so many different fantasies. You can get drawn into the plot with Katniss Everdeen in The hunger games, or you imagine that you are the one on the train to Shanghai with Phileas Fogg in Around the world in eighty days. Or you can’t sleep because you’ve read the story about Shiryo .” Aiba stroked over the spines of some books. He looked up at Ohno, who just stared at him with eyes wide open.

“You really should read some of them,” Aiba heard someone saying. It wasn’t a voice he knew.

“Maybe. But actually I am just here to tell Aiba-kun that I have some Takoyaki for him for lunch,” Ohno told the other man, before turning his attention towards Aiba again. “Just come to my store,” he invited Aiba. With that Ohno passed by the stranger and walked back to his Takoyaki store.

“You really do know a lot about books.” The stranger smiled at Aiba, who blushed a bit because of that.

“Ah, yes. I love books, so I read a lot.” Aiba hated himself for getting nervous in such a situation. “How can I help you?” He smiled at the customer.

“I am teacher in a High school and I need something to read in class with my students,” he said.

Aiba’s eyes started to sparkle. “Oh that’s great. How old are the students?” He was totally in his element, relaxing a bit. He took a closer look at the customer. The man was tall and thin, but not too skinny. His hair was dark and short and his eyes held something mysterious but also honest. Aiba shook his head. What was he thinking?

“The students are 16 years old. Oh, and it’s an English class, so I need something in English. And for my private library I need something in French and German,” the man said.

Aiba nodded quickly and went to work. He walked up the spiral stairs of his shop. There was a small corridor with a metal handrail on the left side and shelves from the floor to the ceiling. Altogether he had more than 2000 books in his store. He could see his customer’s surprise and he thought there was a little sparkle in his eyes, which said that he admired Aiba for this collection. “I can suggest some things to you. This here is something in German that I strongly recommend. It’s called Gut gegen Nordwind. It’s by an Austrian writer. He is really famous there.” Aiba held up a small, blue paperback.

“Have you read it?” The customer asked, a little surprised.

Aiba blushed. “Ah, you know … actually … no. I can’t read German, but I read a summary in the internet.”

“So, what’s the story?” The customer asked.

“It’s a great story about a man and a woman who only know each other by exchanging e-mails with each other. And everything starts because she sends an abo cancellation mail to a wrong recipient. A friendship slowly forms between the two of them.” Aiba explained. He wanted to talk much more about the book, but he tried not to give too much of the plot away.

“So, it’s a bit like the movie E-mail for you?” the customer wanted to know.

“Yes, a little bit.” Aiba smiled.

The customer nodded. “Okay, I’ll take that one for me.”

Aiba walked to the end of the corridor where he had his French books. “As for French literature, I recommend Michel Houellebecq. Maybe his newest book Soumission is something for you?”

“Have you read it?”

Aiba nodded. “Yes.”

“Okay. I take it.” Aiba wondered about the customer’s behaviour. The man didn’t even want any details, or take a closer look at the book he had suggested. He seemed to trust in what Aiba said. It was strange and it made Aiba a little nervous. That man sure was mysterious.

“And for my class?” the customer wanted to know.

“Do you have boys and girls in your class?” Aiba asked.

“Only girls,” he said.

Aiba scratched his head. He walked down the stairs and went back to his English section. “How many copies do you need?”

“7. It’s an English book club,” the man said.

“Okay, how about The fault in our stars? It’s something girls like to read and it’s really, really touching and you absolutely need a big box of tissues and maybe a big bar of chocolate while reading it,” Aiba said without looking at the other.

“And you think it’s a good book for group reading?” the man wanted to know.

Aiba turned around and saw the other smiling at him. “Sure. There’s enough to talk about afterwards and you can make long discussions about several topics.”

The other nodded. “Okay. I trust you.”

Aiba smiled because of that. “I have only three of them here right now, but I can order them for you. I should get them by tomorrow.”

“That’s perfectly fine. I only need them by the end of the month.”

Aiba took a piece of paper and wrote the title and the amount of copies on it. “What’s your name?” He looked up at the other, who took a business card out of his jacket. “Thanks, Matsumoto-san. I will call you when they arrive. And here are the books for you.”

The man placed the money on the counter and placed his books in his bag. “Thanks a lot,” he said before he left the shop.

“I think he will come again,” someone said.

Aiba turned around. “That isn’t fortune telling, Sho-kun. He ordered books, of course he comes again.”

Sho glanced at him. “I didn’t hear that he ordered something. So I knew that he’d come again without knowing it.”

“Whatever.” Aiba rolled his eyes. Everyone in the street already knew about Sho’s ability of fortune telling, his shop was very well-frequented too. His customers loved him and especially the women came by like they’d need his opinion for living. “I think you have a customer,” Aiba pointed at a middle-aged woman, who was standing in front of Sho’s shop.

“Oh god, she always wants to go out with me”, Sho sighed.

“Maybe that’s because you always tell the truth about her future,” Aiba mocked.

“Yes. No,” Sho sighed. “I don’t know. I better go now before she starts searching for me everywhere around here.” With that Sho turned around and left Aiba’s place.

Aiba hid a grin behind one of his books. Somehow he pitied Sho for this situation, but it was also kind of amusing when the woman searched for her Sho-kun everywhere, almost interrogating every shop owner about him. She hopefully would never get to know that he was totally not interested in her.


It was already lunch time when Aiba looked at his clock. He was still busy unpacking all the new books and finding the perfect place for them. Now he stood right in front of the shop’s window and thought about a new theme for the window dressing.

“How about summer romance?” Aiba heard Nino calling from the other side. He turned to look at his friend.

“I already thought about something like this, but I am not sure about the books I shall use for this,” Aiba answered.

Romeo and Juliet?” Nino suggested. Aiba rolled his eyes. No matter what window dressing he planned, Nino’s comment had always been Romeo and Juliet. It was the only foreign language book he had ever read.

“You are really not helpful, you know,” Aiba said.

“Hey, at least I read one more book than Ohno did.” Nino pointed at the shop two houses down the road, where Ohno had his small shop.

Aiba wanted to say something when his sight fell on a little kid, walking up to Nino’s ice cream shop. “Chocolate and Vanilla, please,” the boy smiled at Nino.

Aiba grinned – ‘a summer for children’ window dressing. That would be his next theme. He rushed into his shop and started searching for the best books coming to his mind. He pulled out one book after the other and carried them all to his window. He brushed over one of the books. Die Omama im Apfelbaum – Mira Lobe was written on one of them. Aiba had read about it on the internet and got truly fascinated by the story. He placed the book in the middle of the window. He still had a small tree as a stand-up display which he placed behind the book. It fit perfectly. To the right of that book he placed Winnie the pooh and Where the wild things are. Those two English stories Aiba loved most. He had stopped counting how often he got pulled into the world in which Max travelled to the wild things to tame them. The book contained a few words only and Aiba remembered that he had learned the English language with books like that one, which contained just a few simple words. Maybe that was one reason why he loved children’s books so much. They helped him learning foreign languages, after all.

On the other side he paced Alice in wonderland and Le petit prince. Aiba had read both of them at least ten times. They were two of his all-time favourites.

For the older children he placed Harry Potter – the philosopher’s stone and Paper towns in the window. Aiba searched for his summer decoration and placed a small hammock and a palm tree in it as well. Into the hammock he put Die Seiten der Welt a fantasy story for young adults. Aiba shifted the items till he was content with the arrangement.

“You again almost forget to eat something, Masaki,” Aiba heard a voice behind him and he almost dropped the book he had in his hands. Behind him there was Ohno with a plate and some too awesomely smelling Takoyaki on it. Just then Aiba felt his stomach grumbling with hunger.

“You’re always so mindful of me, thank you.” Aiba bowed.

Ohno shrugged. “It’s not a big deal.”

“And don’t forget to taste the ice cream,” Nino called from the other side.

A warm feeling spread in Aiba’s body. When he had come here he felt shy and a little like an intruder in an already existing kind of family, but all his fear had been unfounded. Everybody had welcomed him warm-heartedly. “Can I give you the money tomorrow, Oh-chan?”

Ohno smiled at him. It was a knowing smile. Of course, he knew that Aiba was short on money. Everybody did. Aiba often couldn’t afford buying food for himself throughout the month and that was no secret. But he had always been happy with the things he had and with his friends around here, caring for him, he felt much better still. “Sure, or just give it to me when you have it,” Ohno offered

Aiba nodded. “I’ll pay all of my bills tomorrow, after that I’ll give you the money I owe you.”

“As I said, it’s okay. And now enjoy the food.” Ohno patted Aiba’s shoulder gently.


Aiba turned over in his bed. It was rather small at the back of his bookstore. He grunted. He had fallen asleep while working through his bookkeeping – into a restless sleep. For weeks now he’d had thoughts spinning in his head. He barely had enough money to get by as it was and he had already heard that the landlord wanted to increase the rent. If that happened, Aiba wouldn’t be able to stay in his shop.

Aiba sat up, scratching his head. He felt like throwing up. How the hell should he cope in the future?

He couldn’t imagine a life without his beloved bookstore. Aiba lay back down on his pillow. The world started spinning around him.

Aiba fell back into his restless sleep.


It was early in the morning when Aiba woke up. He grunted and turned to look at his clock. 3:30 am.

Aiba stood up and walked to the front of his store. Everything was calm around him. He took a deep breath. The smell of books around him made him feel good. It was still dark outside and hardly any light fell into the shop.

Aiba walked to the big windows next to his door. He stopped when he saw two big spots on his window dressing. “No,” he whispered.

Aiba took the keys and opened the door to step out of his shop. On the window, in big red letters a word was written: DEATH.

Aiba felt heat rushing through his body. “No …” he breathed out. Memories came up in his mind and he felt fear rising within him.

“God, what the hell,” someone behind him said.

Aiba couldn’t say anything. He just stood there, staring at the letters.

“Masaki.” Sho touched Aiba’s shoulder. He winced.

“Not again,” Aiba whispered.

“Come with me.” Sho pulled Aiba away from the frightful picture. He took Aiba’s keys and locked the door for him.

“God, what happened here?” Aiba turned around at the new voice. He hadn’t expected to see Jun, the customer from the other day. The man stepped next to Aiba, his mouth wide open.

“I’ll help you,” Jun said.

Aiba heard a peeping sound.

He opened his eyes. Aiba was soaking wet and his breath was fast. He rubbed his eyes. “What a weird dream.” He stood up to take a long shower before he walked to the sales section of his store to start a new day.

Everything was calm there and his window was as clear as a crystal.

Aiba sighed in relieve. It had really just been a dream.


“Matsumoto-san?” Aiba nibbled on his lower lip. He was never nervous when he called a customer, but this time he could feel a slight twitch in his belly. He stroked over his stomach like he wanted to calm himself down.

“Ah, Aiba-san. Are my books already in your store?”

“Yes, you can pick them up anytime you want to,” Aiba answered.

“Perfect,” Jun said. “I’ll come and get them this afternoon.”

“Oh, that’s totally okay,” Aiba said.

“Till then,” Aiba added.

“You look like you need some strawberry-banana-honey-lemon-cookie ice cream.” Nino grinned at him with an ice cream cone in his hands.

“Nino-chan, it’s 8 o’clock in the morning,” Aiba said.

“Yeah. So?” Nino held the cone in front of Aiba’s nose. “It’s never too early for a good cone of new flavoured ice cream.” Nino smiled.

Aiba rolled his eyes. He knew it was futile to try getting away from Nino and his ice cream.

He tasted a spoonful. “Wow, that really tastes good,” Aiba said.

Nino smiled at him proudly. “It’s my own creation.”

“You’re talking about food?” Sho came across the corner of the street and peeked into the bookstore.

“We talked about Nino’s new strawberry-banana-I-don’t-know-ice-cream,” Aiba chuckled.

“Do you want to taste it, Sho-kun?” Nino asked.

“It’s 8am, Nino,” Sho said.

“Pf…” Nino rolled his eyes. “As I said, it’s never too early for ice cream.”

Sho let himself fall down on Aiba’s couch. They still had some time before their shops would open. “Shall I do a palm reading for you?” Sho asked Nino, who declined energetically.

“Last time you did that, you told me that I’d have an accident and I was nervous for a whole week.”

“Till you finally fell down the stairs and hurt your knee,” Aiba finished the story for him.

“But I told you the truth,” Sho complained.

“Yes, thank you,” Nino grumbled.

“How about you, Aiba? I could read your palm,” Sho said.

Normally Aiba didn’t like things like that, but this time he agreed to the suggestion. Sho took his hand and let his finger wander over Aiba’s palm. “Your lifeline is long. You had a surgery as a kid, right?”

Sho looked up at Aiba, who blinked. “Yes, my lungs were weak,” Aiba muttered, stunned.

“What’s that?” Sho pointed at a small cut in his line. “You got threatened once?”

Aiba gulped. He had never told anyone about it and he wasn’t sure if he should do so now.

“Yes,” he finally said.

“Who threatened you?” Nino asked.

Aiba looked up at Nino. “It was an ex stalking me,” Aiba explained.

Sho turned his attention back to Aiba’s hand. “Is that why you moved here?”

Aiba nodded.

“You don’t have a good relationship with your family, do you?” Sho asked further.

Aiba could feel his cheeks blushing. “Well …” he started. “They never accepted the way I live my life.”

“What’s wrong with how you live your life?” Nino wanted to know.

“I guess it’s because of the way you love.” Sho looked at Aiba’s hand while he said that.

“It’s okay.” Aiba pulled his hand away from Sho. “I am happy now.”

“As long as it’s not about money, right?” Sho inquired.

Aiba blushed. “I need to work now, so please leave.”

“I didn’t want to upset you,” Sho assured him.

“At least you aren’t a fraud, Sho-kun. You totally hit that nail right on the head, my friend.” Nino touched Sho’s shoulder.


Aiba rummaged through the boxes of the new book arrivals. He was totally absent-minded because he felt so exposed. Sho had revealed his problems and slowly he feared that he was an open book to read.

The pictures of his dream came back to his mind and a shiver run down his spine. He didn’t want to think about the situation several years back.

“You won’t leave me, do you hear me,” Ken yelled. He stood in the garden while Aiba stood on the balcony, staring down. They’d had a major fight and Aiba decided to break up with him.

“Please just leave,” Aiba said.

“You’ll be sorry, I’ll make sure of that.” Ken glanced up.

Aiba had no idea that the following months would become the worst he had ever experienced.

It started with blackmail letters paired with hundreds of calls. Later Aiba learned that Ken stood in front of his apartment every day.

One day, when Aiba came home, he froze. The bags he had in his hands fell down when he saw the writing on the door. DEATH was written there in big red letters.

“Excuse me.”

Aiba jumped in surprise. He turned and looked directly into Jun’s eyes.

“Hey, ah … sorry,” Aiba stuttered.

“I didn’t want to pull you out of your thoughts.” Jun smiled at him.

In the end Aiba was glad that someone had pulled him out of his horrible nightmare-memories. “No problem at all.” Aiba stood up. “I didn’t think that you’ll come so early.”

“I had some businesses around here so I thought of coming by now,” Jun said.

Aiba stood up to walk around his counter where he had placed all the customers’ orders. He handed Jun his package. “Do you need something else?”

“Last night I read the books you recommended and I need some new stuff, so yes, please. I need something to read.” Jun bowed.

Aiba walked to the shelf and pulled out two books. “Do you like crime stories and thrillers?”

Jun nodded. “Yes, sometimes.”

Aiba gave him the books. “Try these, then.”

Jun looked at them. There was a trail of blood on one cover. “And you really think I’ll like these?”

Aiba smiled. “I’m sure.”

“How?” Jun wanted to know.

Aiba looked at him. “How?”

Jun stepped a little closer, which made Aiba’s heart jump joyfully. He tried to supress his feelings, though.

“How do you know what I like to read?” Jun specified.

Aiba shrugged. “I don’t know. I look at you and there is this kind of wild sparkle in your eyes, which tells me that you like some crazy, dangerous, adventurous stuff. And then there is this cute, innocent – maybe a little bit romantic – curl around your lips, which tells me that you like humorous love stories.”

“Don’t tell me you’re trying to flirt with me?” Jun laughed.

Aiba felt his cheeks burning. Yes, Jun was totally his type, but he hadn’t intended to flirt in that moment. When it came to books, Aiba tended to forget everything around him, even his shyness and the massive wall he had built around his person to prevent anyone from getting close to him. “No, I am sorry, I easily get lost in my own world when it’s about my work.”

Jun laughed. “That’s okay.” He grinned. “I trust you and I’ll take these books.”

Aiba smiled. “I am curious as to how you will like them.”


“So you mean that you need to close your store for good if you don’t earn enough money during the next weeks?” Ohno chewed on his Takoyaki.

It was late in the evening and the stores were already closed. Aiba and Ohno sat together on some boxes just outside Ohno’s restaurant. It was a warm evening – perfect for some food and a cold beer – and, of course, Nino’s ice cream.

“What does that mean?” Nino wanted to know.

Aiba sighed. For days he’d been feeling a terrible headache whenever he thought about his financial situation. “I saved some money when I was younger, but that’s almost gone and I don’t have enough customers to be able to keep this store running.

“What if you asked your parents?” Ohno started, but Aiba immediately interrupted him.


“But your father is pretty well-circumstanced, maybe he can …” Ohno tried again.

“No way.” Aiba blocked.

“Okay, so how can we help you?” Nino asked.

“Yes, there has to be a way we can help you out of your situation,” Sho said.

Aiba felt a warm feeling course through his body. After years of living alone he had finally found something he would call a family.

“Don’t tell me you’re crying now,” Nino grunted. He stood up and disappeared for a few minutes before he returned with a cup of ice cream and whipped cream with chocolate and strawberry sauce on it. “That’ll help you.” Nino said. “That always helps when you’re not feeling well.”

“Thank you,” Aiba sobbed. “You’re all so kind.”

The others smiled at him.

“And now let’s make a plan to help you.” Sho clapped.

They had various ideas for Aiba’s shop, but in the end they were all impossible to implement.

They kept silent for a few minutes. “We’ll find a way, I am sure,” Nino said.

“Thank you.” Aiba bowed. “I don’t want to leave here again.”


After weeks of nightmares Aiba had a calm sleep one night – at least at the beginning.

He was on a road together with a well-known customer. “Jun, look, a deer.” Aiba pointed at the animal, which stood at the edge of the wood.

“How cute.” Jun stepped closer to Aiba. His hand brushed Aiba’s and their fingers entwined. Jun’s hand felt warm and it gave Aiba a feeling of being safe.

“You’re not a human, you’re disgusting,” Aiba heard a voice at his ear. “You’re not part of this family anymore.” Aiba shivered. He turned to look at Jun, but his face had turned into a different one. The other’s hand pressed his and it was painful, cold and Aiba wanted to shake it off, but the other didn’t let him.

“Go away, Ken,” Aiba cried out.

“Not a human,” the voice said again.

“Father …” Aiba sighed.

“No,” Aiba yelled out. He sat up in his bed, sweat running down his face. He was trembling.

Aiba stood up to get himself a glass of water. “All a mess,” Aiba said to his image in the mirror. He looked pale and tired.


Aiba leaned against the shelf. He had his eyes closed. The previous night had provided far too little sleep for him. He felt numb and empty. His limbs hurt and his head was about to explode.

“Hello?” a voice sounded and Aiba’s heart beat faster immediately. He opened his eyes.

“Matsumoto-san.” Aiba smiled. He hoped he didn’t blush visibly. That man was just making him crazy – in a good way, Aiba told himself, but ultimately it felt like Jun just made an even bigger mess of his feelings. “What can I do for you today?” Aiba got totally absorbed into Jun’s dark-chocolate-like eyes and his smile had Aiba almost melt at the spot.

“Is everything okay with you?” Jun asked.

“Yes, why?” Aiba lied.

“You look tired and sick,” Jun said. “Do you need some medicine?”

“I am fine, thank you,” Aiba said again. His head was spinning and he felt hot. He figured he was feeling weak, because he hadn’t eaten anything yet.

“I want a new book recommendation from you, Aiba-san. The thriller you gave me was incredible,” Jun stated.

“Mhm, let me think,” Aiba rubbed his chin. He tried to clear his head, but he felt dizzy.

“I will be back in five minutes. I have to organize something, can you think of a good book for me meanwhile?”

Aiba nodded. “Sure.” He already had a book in mind, but he didn’t want to stress Jun.

Aiba looked after Jun, who left his store to walk down the street. He then quickly made his way up the shelf to pull a book out of its highest row. Suddenly the world turned upside down and Aiba grabbed for something to hold onto as he almost fell down the small ladder. “God, maybe I am really sick,” he said to himself.

Aiba placed two books on his counter and sat down on his chair. His head felt heavy and everything around him seemed to be far away. He closed his eyes – that way at least he didn’t have the feeling that the books around him were dancing up and down.

“Aiba-san?” He opened his eyes. Jun stood there, a big plastic bag in his right hand and a second one in his left hand. “I have some food here,” he said as he raised his left hand to show Aiba the bag he was holding in it, “and some medicine here,” he continued, repeating the same motion with his right hand. “You close up your store now and then you’ll eat something.” Jun ordered. “Why are you smiling?”

“You really sound like a teacher,” Aiba said. “I can’t close up the store, Matsumoto-san. I need money.” Aiba was more honest than he wanted to be. The fever was obviously clouding his mind.

“Good, where do you live?” Jun asked.

Aiba pointed to the backside of the store. “There.”

Jun pulled up one eyebrow. “You live in your store?”

Aiba nodded. “I don’t have enough money for an extra apartment.”

“Okay, come on.” Jun pulled on Aiba’s arm. “Stand up.”

“But the store,” Aiba whined half-heartedly. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to work in the store all day.

“Leave that to me.” Jun walked to the backside of the store.

Aiba tried to wiggle out of Jun’s grip. “I don’t even know you. How can I trust you? Maybe you want to steal my books or my money.”

Jun sighed. “Hey, Gelato-man,” he called for Nino on the other side of the street.

“I have a name, you know,” Nino yelled back.

“Whatever. Can you watch me while I take care of this bookstore? Your friend here is sick, he’s sporting a fever, but he totally doesn’t want to close up his store. In addition, he’s afraid that I might steal something from him.”

“How nice of you.” Aiba knew this tone in Nino’s voice. It was his ‘he finds you hot and that’s why he’s helping you’ tone, but Aiba didn’t want anyone near him. He had decided to stay alone for the rest of his life – and he had worked so hard to build that massive wall around his person so that nobody would ever break through it. He looked at Jun. His gentle but worried eyes made Aiba nervous. He felt a little crack in his wall, even though he didn’t like that feeling at all.

“You really are like a mother, you know that?” Aiba sulked.

“Yes, that’s my nickname. Now come.” Aiba got pulled into his small sleeping room and Jun pressed him immediately down onto the bed. “Do you have a bathroom?” He asked.

“Yes, the door to the right over there, left side is a small kitchen,” Aiba answered.

Jun nodded wordlessly and left Aiba lying there on his bed. After a while Jun came back with a cold, wet towel, a glass of water and some medicine. “Take this.” Jun handed him a pill and the water.

Aiba was far too weak to fight, or even complain, so he just swallowed the pill with a few gulps of water. Jun then took the glass back from Aiba and urged the man to lie down again. He then placed the wet towel on Aiba’s forehead. “Try to sleep now.”

Aiba didn’t have to be told twice. He closed his eyes and was almost immediately asleep.


Aiba woke up and didn’t know where he was. He looked around the room. It was his room, he was lying in his bed and he had a cold towel on his forehead. He could hear someone in his small kitchen.

He felt better, even though he still felt weak. He stood up and walked into his kitchen. Much to his surprise he found Ohno standing there. “You should get back to bed, Aiba.” Ohno said as he looked at him.

“What the hell is going on here?” Aiba asked.

Ohno smiled at him. “Jun asked me for help. He is busy running your store and he asked me to cook something for you.”

“Really?” Aiba asked, stunned. “Thank you, Satoshi.”

Ohno waved him off. “No, you should thank Jun. He’s the one who organized all this.” Ohno leaned closer. “I’d go for him if I were you.”

Aiba blushed. Crack … another hole in Aiba’s wall.

He left the kitchen and walked towards the front of the store. He blinked. Were there really around 15 people in his store? How could that be?

“Aiba-san, you should stay in bed.” Jun came up to him.

“How? All the people,” Aiba stuttered.

Jun pushed him back towards his room and made him lie down again. “You rest some more and we’ll talk later, when Ohno is done with cooking dinner.”

Aiba wanted to learn what was going on right then and there, but Jun had already placed another towel on Aiba’s forehead and pushed a pill into his mouth.

Aiba closed his eyes and immediately fell asleep again.

It was already late in the afternoon when Aiba woke up again. He slipped out of his bed and walked to the front of the store.

The roll-up door was already closed and Jun sat at the table, counting the day’s earnings.

“Last time I earned so much money on one day … wait … I’ve never earned this much money on one day,” Aiba said. He already felt much better.

“Aiba-san, come here.” Jun pulled up a chair for Aiba to sit on. “I’ll get us some soup.”

He disappeared into the kitchen and came back just a few moments later with two big bowls of freshly made Ramen. “I decided not to serve you ice cream, like Nino suggested.”

Aiba rolled his yes. “Sounds like Nino, yes.” He laughed. Aiba sat next to Jun.

“I’m sorry Aiba-san,” Jun suddenly said.

“What for?” Aiba looked at him.

“I asked Nino about you and …”

“…he told you the story of my life.” Aiba finished Jun’s sentence. He rolled his eyes. Of course, Nino … the ice-cream-chatterbox.

“Don’t be mad at him, please,” Jun pleaded. “I asked him about you, because you looked so sad – and then you got sick.”

“It’s okay, I guess.” Aiba shrugged. “But how did you earn so much money?” Aiba wanted to know.

Jun grinned at him. “I made some calls,” he explained. “I have several teacher friends and I asked them to come here to order their books in your store.” Jun took the booklet with the orders and showed it to Aiba. “I know it’s not much in the long run, but at least it’s a beginning.”

“Why are you doing this for me?” Aiba asked.

Jun shrugged. “I think I like you.”

Aiba felt his stomach doing backflips. “Thank you, Matsumoto-san.”

“Jun,” the other man corrected him. “Please, call me Jun.” He smiled at Aiba.

“Masaki,” Aiba said and bowed.

They ate the soup without talking much. Was this already a date? No – Aiba didn’t want that kind of thing. He looked at Jun who smiled at him contently.

“I’ll come tomorrow to open your shop,” Jun said.

Aiba shook his head. “I think I can do that on my own.”

Jun shook his head. “No way – you aren’t working tomorrow, Masaki. You need to stay in bed for at least three days and that’s not open for discussion.”

“But you have to teach – you have a job.” Aiba shifted on his chair.

“It’s the spring holidays,” Jun explained. “Lessons will start only next week again.” His smile was mesmerizing.

Aiba shook his head – no, he would never ever fall in love again. Crack …

“Thank you, Jun.”

“Nah, I already told you I like bookstores and yours is so special.” Jun took a spoonful of the soup. “And Satoshi is a really good cook.”

Aiba chuckled. “Yes, he really is, but don’t let Nino hear you – he thinks he is the gastronomic mastermind around here.”

“But he only makes ice cream,” Jun said, stunned.

“Yes, the elixir of life,” Aiba laughed.

Jun’s smile almost took Aiba’s breath away. Crack …

Follow the link for part 2


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AMNOS/Arashi fanfiction exchange

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