[identity profile] stormymood.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] arashi_exchange
A piece of rainbow for [livejournal.com profile] learashi Part 4




Sharing light is easy. It barely requires any effort on your part. It just happens.

Sharing darkness is difficult.

How do you know that it's safe? What if sharing darkness creates more darkness? Do math's rules work for darkness? Does dividing darkness result in smaller portions?

It's worth a try.



Jun tells him everything.

He talks about his job, about how his career is now ruined forever thanks to those leaked pictures and how much he regrets that he let Ohno take them. Then he talks about Masaki and all the problems he had after the media started saying that he was the guy in the pictures. And, eventually, he tells Nino about Masaki's death.

Nino's eyes go wide. "Why hadn't you mentioned that before?"

"I didn't know how to," Jun sniffs. He hates crying, but that's all he does lately. "I… I still don't think I have processed it very well."

"Jun-pon…" Nino sighs. He wraps his arms around Jun's body. "You don't have to just deal with all that by yourself, you know? You can talk about this with others."

"I don't want to," Jun replies. "Those are my problems, Nino. I don't want anyone to get involved. Look what happened to Masaki! He just wanted to help and… and…"

"There, there," Nino says. "I know this will be hard to believe, but it's not your fault, Jun-pon. You didn't cause all those problems."

"But I could have prevented them."

"You couldn't have known that things would go the way they did. It's true, because you didn't, or did you?"

Jun has to admit that Nino has a point. Not even for a moment did he suspect that everything would go so wrong. It doesn't make him feel less guilty, though. Bad things related to him still happened. His lack of control over them only makes him more frustrated.

"You should at least let the doctors call your family," Nino says. "There isn't much you can do by yourself with your arms like that."

"I don't think they will be very thrilled to hear from me. Maybe they'll get mad that I didn't cut myself properly."

Nino glares at him. Okay, that may not have been a good thing to say.

"My sister might answer," Jun says, hoping that Nino isn't mad at him. "She will tell my parents if she thinks they need to know, I'm pretty sure of that."

"Okay."

Nino gets up and leaves the room. Jun feels stupid. Why did he say that? Now Nino is upset, thanks to his stupid mouth. Can't he do anything well?

"I'm an idiot, an idiot," Jun says to himself.

Nino comes back with a nurse. She takes note of Jun's sister's phone, which he has thankfully memorized since he was in high school. She leaves just a moment later.

He expects Nino to give him the silent treatment. He deserves it. He's dragged Nino into his problems, and now he's said something very inappropriate.

"So… are you up for some magic tricks?"

Jun blinks. Nino takes a deck of cards out of his pocket. "Eh?"

"Pick one," Nino says with a grin. "I'm going to show you something cool."

Why isn't Nino mad at him? Why is he talking and smiling and…?

Why is Jun so relieved?



That night, something Jun didn't foresee happens.

"Jun-chan!"

He looks up when he hears a female voice calling his name. His eyes go wide when he sees his mother entering the room, followed by his sister. "Jun-chan," his mother says, her eyes glassy as she observes him. "My baby, my poor baby!"

It's been a while since the last time Jun was hugged by his mother, a few years actually. She hasn't changed her perfume. She smells just like she did when she sent Jun off at the train station the last time he was at their hometown, the same way she always has ever since Jun was a child.

"It's alright, mama is here," she says as she rubs Jun's back. Jun hadn't realized it, but it seems he's crying.

"Who told you?"

"They called from the hospital this morning," it's Jun's sister who replies. "I was at mom and dad's when I got the call. Dad said that we should come immediately."

Jun goes completely still in his mother's embrace. "You told dad about this?"

There's no need for a verbal response. His father comes into the room in that very moment. Jun cannot read the expression on his face very well, but he assumes that the man must be furious. He'll probably lecture Jun about his stupid actions, and let him know just how much of a disappointment he is for the entire family.

Wrong.

"How are you feeling, Jun?"

Those are not the words Jun was expecting, and that's not the tone he thought his father would use with him, not after what his sister told him the last time.

"The doctor said that you had a fever last night after the transfusions, but that you're better now," Jun's father continues. He puts a hand on Jun's head to ruffle his hair. "Why didn't you give the doctor our number? We could have come earlier."

"I-I… I'm sorry…" Jun mumbles. "I didn't want to be a nuisance, father. I've already caused you enough trouble as it is."

"You are not a nuisance, son," Jun's father replies. "Not now, not ever."

Jun thinks he's dreaming when his father wipes his tears and smiles at him. Is it real?

"Your mother and I were thinking about staying with you for a while, if that's okay," Jun's father says. "We don't want to impose on you-"

"Y-Yes… please, stay," Jun replies without thinking it twice.

"Very well," his father nods. "Your mother and I will go to your place and leave our luggage. We will pick you up tomorrow."

"I will stay here until they come back," Jun's sister says.

Jun's mother kisses his cheek and wishes him a good night. His father gives him a last smile and a pat on the head before leaving with his mother.

"Jun-chan, I brought your favorite blanket!" Jun's sister announces happily.

In the corner, Nino observes with a smile while Jun gets wrapped in a fluffy Goku blanket by his sister.



Light… it is slowly returning.



The first day at home goes nicely.

Jun's mother makes miso soup. She spoon-feeds Jun and chatters happily about what's happened in their hometown since Jun's last visit, and also about his grandparents' farm. "Mom and dad said that you should go visit them soon. You are always so busy!"

"Tell them I'll go there for grandpa's birthday," Jun replies with a grin.

Jun's father is on a mission to make Jun's apartment "safe" for him. He's hidden all the sharp things somewhere in the guest room, which is now permanently locked.

They tuck Jun into bed together that night.


The second and third day are just as pleasant. Jun's father helps him shave. They both laugh remembering the first time they did this, back when Jun was in high school.

Jun's sister and her husband visit on the afternoon. They inform Jun that he will soon become an uncle.


Nino drops by on the fourth day.

When Nino is gone, Jun's mother makes the question Jun was expecting since Nino's arrival.

"Is he your…?"

"No!" Jun says. "We are friends. Actually, we barely know each other."

Jun's mother seems a bit disappointed. "But he's so nice and cute! You should date him, Jun-chan!"

"Dad…" Jun whines, hoping that his father will rescue him from this.

To his surprise, his father merely smirks at him and continues grooming Matsu. It seems Jun is not the only person in the family who likes bonsai trees.

His mom doesn't stop teasing him.


Nino also comes on the fifth day. He has a good laugh when Jun tells him about what his mother said.

"You know… we could actually do it, since your parents already approve of me," Nino says with a wink.

If Jun's arm wasn't in a sling, he'd hit Nino.


It is on the tenth day that the first problem arises.

"Come on, Jun-chan, we have to go for your appointment."

"N-no…" Jun shakes his head. "No, no, no, no, no!"

He screams and cowers in a corner of his room.

Even when his parents decide to just let him be, he doesn't stop shivering in fear. Between Nino and his mother, they manage to make him go to bed. Nino puts Masaki's Disco Star shirt over his shoulders, and then covers him with his Goku blanket.

That night he wakes up covered in sweat and screaming after a nightmare.



His family contacts a therapist immediately. They arrange for the man to visit Jun at home, since his fear of going out is too extreme.

Jun feels stupid. He's making things difficult for everyone, isn't he?

That day he considers for a brief moment to try it again. He could do it better this time, he thinks. He won't fail.

Then he hears his parents talking.

"We must do everything we can to help Jun get better. We must be his strength."

Now he feels stupid for even thinking it.

He won't let them down. He will keep on trying.



I will do my best.



Therapy. Medication. More therapy. More medication.

It does help. The nightmares don't return.

"You should face your fears."

"You are not guilty of what you cannot control."

"You must learn to let go of the past and forgive yourself."

Jun and his therapist obviously have different opinions on some matters.



"Tell me more about Aiba-shi."

"Why do you always want to talk about him, Nino?"

"He sounds like a great guy. And he has the same name of a boy who went to elementary school with me."

"For real?"

"Yeah… We used to be best friends. He moved back to Chiba, though, so I never saw him again."

"Eh… and how was he?"

"He had a smile as bright as the sun. And he had this weird birthmark on his shoulder."

"…."

"What?"

"Nino…"

"What?"

"I haven't shown you Masaki's pictures, have I?"

"No."

"I think you should see them."


Their talks about Masaki are more frequent after that day.



Jun's parents have to leave Tokyo for a few weeks. "We are needed at the farm," Jun's father explains, looking apologetic. "We will be back as soon as possible."

The apartment feels much lonelier without them.

Before leaving, Jun's parents locked all dangerous items in the guest room. Even the implements to take care of Matsu are in there. Nino has the only key, and he keeps it in a "secret" place at his own apartment. Nino stays with Jun during most of the day, and only goes out when Jun's therapist is there for another session or when Jun falls asleep after taking his medication.

Jun's arms are recovering, He is now able to hold small things, like his pills. He still needs help for more complicated things, such as eating or taking off his clothes. Nino seems to be enjoying himself way too much every time Jun needs his assistance, and Jun swears the first thing he will do when he recovers the strength in his hands is to land a good punch on Nino's smug face.

On Saturday, they clean Jun's apartment. Nino does most of the work, but since Jun is the one telling him what to do, he counts it as a 'team effort'. When Nino moves the couch, after ten minutes of complaining about the back pains he will surely get after doing so much heavy work, an object falls to the floor.

"It's a phone," Nino tells him. "Seems the battery is dead."

"That's where I left it! I thought I had lost that thing!" Jun laughs.

Nino frowns. "How long has it been since you checked your phone?"

"Hmm… I'm not sure. When was Masaki's funeral?"

"Almost three months ago."

Jun smiles sheepishly. Nino merely rolls his eyes at him and goes to find the charger. "Whoa, look at that!" he exclaims when he turns on the phone. "You've got a lot of missed calls, Jun-pon!"

"Eh? Let me see!"

In fact, everyone he knows has been trying to contact him. There are a dozen calls from his former manager, and a hundred more from his friends and kouhai. He grins when he sees that Ohno sent him a few texts. He'll check those later, when Nino isn't around.

"Who's Sakurai Sho?"

"A coworker," Jun replies, "why?"

"Poor dude must have been worried. Take a look," Nino points at a corner of his screen.

Indeed, Sakurai is the one who has called more times. He's called Jun at least two or three times a day since the funeral. Jun feels bad for him. He regrets a little bit that he didn't say goodbye the last time.

"Won't you call him?" Nino asks.

"Eh? Oh… sure, sure, I'll give him a call. I should probably start replying to all those mails I got anyway. Maybe I'll just mail him! Yes! That is very convenient, don't you think? I'll mail him," Jun says.

Nino throws him a suspicious glance but doesn't say anything else.



Matsumoto-san, I'm back in Japan.

I heard about what happened with the pictures from a friend. I'm deeply sorry. It wasn't my intention to cause you any trouble. I should have behaved more responsibly.

I would like to visit you one of these days if that's okay with you.

-Ohno


I suspected that you had already gone overseas when I didn't hear from you.

What happened was truly regrettable. I'm somehow glad that you weren't here in Japan, for I would have taken it out on you when it wasn't your fault either.

You are welcome to visit anytime.

-Jun



"Have you called Sho-chan yet?"

"No."

"Jun…"

"What's the point, Nino? He isn't even my friend! He just happened to be there during Masaki's funeral, and he probably freaked out because I had a breakdown. That's it! He just… I don't think he actually cares about what's going on with me."

"Jun-pon… aren't you just running away from him?"

"Why would I do that?"

"I don't know, you tell me."

"…"

"Did he hurt you?"

"Eh? No, not at all…"

"Then?"

"I… I just don't want him to judge me, okay? I don't want him to see me like this."



"What are you afraid of?"

I wish I knew it.



One by one, Jun contacts the people who have kindly left messages either in his inbox or his voice mail. Most of them reply within a day. A few invite him to go out for drinks, to catch up. Jun declines, of course. He doesn't feel ready to go outside yet. He doesn't ask them to come over either, but promises to stay in touch. It's all he can offer them by now, and he hopes it's enough.

Nino keeps pestering Jun about Sakurai. His curiosity about the man only increases when Jun tells him that Sakurai and Masaki used to be very close.

"Masaki kept trying to make me talk to that guy," Jun says. He is a little bit tipsy after the beers they've been drinking since dinner. He shouldn't be drinking alcohol, but he guesses that if he just does it tonight, it won't hurt. Besides, Nino is there to watch over him. He will be fine.

Jun snorts. "What could we talk about? We didn't have anything in common! We're opposites, I'd say."

"Well, you know what they say about opposites," Nino wiggles his eyebrows. Jun snorts in response, shaking his head at the ridiculousness of the idea. "It's true! You never know-"

"Oh, please! There are more chances that I'd be attracted to, say, someone like you than to Sakurai Sho."

Nino bursts out laughing. "Can't blame you for that. I'm hard to resist." He winks.

"Hmm…" Jun scoots closer to him. "Well… you are kind of cute, when you're not being a pain in the ass." He giggles as Nino tries to smack his head. "But I think you're not my type after all."

"Ouch," Nino pouts. "You're breaking my heart, J."

Jun stares at Nino with a blank expression until the other man can't keep his pretend hurt face and laughs again.

It happens too fast. One moment they're laughing, and then one of them closes the distance. They kiss.

They stop for a moment and stare at each other. Nino smiles and puts a hand on Jun's cheek. They kiss again. And again. And again…

It's different from the kisses Jun shared with Masaki. There are no butterflies, no nervous anticipation. It isn't like Ohno's kisses either. There's no lust, no hidden desires. If Jun had to describe it, he would say Nino's kisses are comforting, like that Goku blanket he keeps in his room. They make him feel warm and at ease. It's been a long time since someone could make him feel that way.

Still, when they part for air, Jun has the feeling that it won't happen again. He can read it in Nino's eyes. And that's alright. He doesn't want his relationship with Nino to change.

"So…" Nino tucks a strand of hair behind Jun's ear. He's blushing, that's rare. "You should probably go to bed now."

"Come with me?" Jun stutters. He's sure Nino isn't the only one blushing now. "We could cuddle or something…"

"Okay."

"Okay."


They cuddle. It's nice. They should do it more often.



The sun is shining too bright the day Nino finally convinces Jun to get out of his apartment for the first time. Jun wants to go back inside, but he promised his therapist that he would give it a try, and he doesn't want to deal with that old man's lectures the next time they meet.

"Can I at least wear my shades?" Jun grumbles, squinting his eyes to see better.

Nino rolls his eyes at him. "It isn't that bright, J."

"It is!" Jun whines. "Why didn't we wait until the evening?"

"I told you that I have an appointment tonight," Nino replies. Jun can sense that he is losing his patience already. To Nino's credit, he doesn't let it show in his expression. Jun is starting to think that he might be some sort of saint in disguise. "Come on, move your ass!"

The park is just a couple of blocks away from their building. Jun feels the anxiety building up with every step they take. "I can't do this," he tells Nino as they're about to cross the street. "I can't, I can't, I-"

Nino grabs him by his shoulders. "Breathe," he says softly. Jun does as he says, pooled tears starting to roll down his cheeks. "You can do this. Nothing bad will happen, okay? Can you believe that?"

No, Jun wants to say. Being outside is dangerous. They don't know what could be lurking in the shadows, waiting for them. It's not safe. They're not safe anywhere. No matter how many times he discusses it with his therapist, that feeling still doesn't go away.

Jun takes a deep breath. "I'll try," he says.

"Good," Nino pats Jun's shoulder. His other hand has already found Jun's. His grip is tight and firm, just what Jun needs. "Let's get a crepe. My treat!"

They sit on a bench, as far as possible from the playground. Jun can feels his hands trembling, but he tries to hide it.

"What?" Nino asks him, his head tilted in question. There's some cream in the corner of his lips, and Jun is itching to wipe it.

"Nothing," Jun mumbles. He wipes the cream off Nino's face with a napkin. "You're a mess, here… you'll need this."

"Ah, thank you!" Nino chuckles. "But eat up! It won't be as tasty if it gets cold!"

They finish their sweets in silence. Jun feels Nino's eyes on him the entire time. It's only natural, Jun guesses, so he tries not to feel annoyed by it. He won't do anything stupid. He doesn't want to make anyone suffer again, especially not Nino.

"Was it good?" Nino asks him.

"It was," Jun says. "I prefer Masaki's recipes, though."

Nino shakes his head with a smirk. "You are too biased."

They spend another hour at the park. Nino walks him home after that. "Remember to take your pills on time," he tells Jun before leaving.

Jun has to admit that it went way better than he expected.



Three days later, an unexpected visitor comes to Jun's apartment.

"M-Matsumoto-kun…"

Jun gapes. He doesn't know how to react.

His visitor beats him to it, wrapping his arms around Jun's back almost immediately.

Is it for real? Jun cannot believe it.

But there he is. Sakurai Sho is hugging him.


It turns out that Nino's mysterious appointment from the other night was with Sakurai. That coward left right before Sakurai arrived, and he won't be in Tokyo during the next week because he's going to a convention in America –now Jun wonders just how high Nino's position is for him to be attending events overseas. Is this his doing then? Jun huffs as he makes some tea. He makes a mental note to demand an explanation from Nino when he returns.

By now, Jun must face Sakurai.

He's been avoiding this moment for months, and now he's in a position where he cannot run away from Sakurai anymore. Not that he feels like running anymore, but he would have preferred to get a heads up.

Taking a deep breath, Jun carries a tray with the teapot and two cups to the living room.

"T-Thanks…" Sakurai bows and holds the cup with both hands. He sniffs a little, trying to stifle a sob. He was crying for a while when they hugged. His eyes are still red-rimmed and glassy, even if the tears have ceased to fall. That's an image Jun never imagined to see.

"How did you find me?" Jun asks. "I don't remember giving you this address."

Sakurai lowers his head. "I asked around," he replies. "Nobody wanted to tell me anything at first, but then I met your manager one day. He told me where you lived. The security guards wouldn't let me in, though, so I kept calling you…"

"Yes, I am aware of that," Jun chuckles. "I had a ton of missed calls from your number."

Sakurai's face goes red. "I was worried about you," he says. "You disappeared before I woke up the day after the funeral. You even left this behind!" He hands Jun a small plastic bag.

"What is-" Jun's words die in his throat once he sees the green fabric inside the bag.

"It's Masaki's scarf, isn't it? I remember that he wore that thing all the time." Sakurai gives him a sheepish smile. "I washed it for you, since it was a bit… stained. I was sure that you'd want it back."

Jun's hands tighten around the scarf. He puts it around his neck and sighs happily. "Thank you."

"Ninomiya-kun… he's a nice guy," Sakurai says after a short moment of silence. "He called me from your number almost a week ago, saying that he wanted to meet me. Unfortunately, I was in Karuizawa at the moment, so I could only meet him three days ago. He was the one who let me in today."

Just like I thought, Jun sighs. "I supposed he had something to do with that. He's oddly interested in you."

"Really?" Sakurai frowns.

"You were Masaki's friend after all. He's probably curious about what you can tell him," Jun says. Sakurai's frown gets deeper. "Eh? He didn't mention it?"

"What?"

"That he used to be friends with Masaki when they were little."

Sakurai's eyes widen in surprise. "He didn't."

"Then what did you guys talk about that day?"

"You."

Jun gapes. That was unexpected. Nino would surely mention him, but Jun didn't think that Sakurai would talk about him with anyone. "Why?"

"I just told you, didn't I? I was worried." Sakurai's expression is serious now. "Ever since those pictures came out, I've been trying to contact you. I know you have plenty of friends, and you might not need someone like me at all, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I needed to make sure that you were alright."

That's new. The Sakurai Sho Jun has known since his teenage years doesn't give a damn about him. That's what Jun has always believed. The man sitting in front of him says the opposite. When did he change so much?

Was Masaki right when he said that Sakurai did want to get closer to him?

"You…" Jun clears his throat. "You didn't have to."

"I know." Sakurai laughs. "I did it because I wanted to do it anyway. Masaki warned me that you still hated me, though. I was hoping we could change that."

Jun bites back a grin. "And how do you expect to do that?"

"I don't know." Sakurai scratches his head. "I guess I was half-hoping you wouldn't hate me as much as Masaki said, and that maybe we'd start from there."

Jun's eyebrows shoot up. "So there's no plan?"

"No."

"Sakurai Sho, the man who can't leave home without making a schedule of every remaining minute of the day, doesn't have a plan? Wow, that's… strange!" Jun says. "Are you sure you can handle that? I mean, we both know how you get when things aren't going your way!"

"Honestly… I'm a bit nervous," Sakurai admits. "On the other hand, my plans have never really worked when it comes to you, have they?"

"I guess not." Jun nods.

"Then it's about time I try a different strategy, don't you think?" Sakurai flashes a nervous smile at him. "Maybe you won't hate me as much as before."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that in your place," Jun says, secretly enjoying the way Sakurai immediately looks a bit distressed. "You have the talent to get on my nerves more than any other person I know."

Sakurai pouts. "Hey… that's not true!"

Jun arches an eyebrow at him. "Want me to refresh your memory?"

"T-That's not necessary!" Sakurai winces. Judging by his expression, he does know that he messed up before, and Jun is delighted to see that. It's a great improvement. "We're talking about starting over here, aren't we? Let's just forget about that!"

"I wonder if I'm not making a mistake by letting this happen…" Jun lets out an exaggerated sigh. "Don't make me regret it," he adds with a small smile.

If Jun said that seeing Sakurai's face light up after that didn't make his heart jump a little, he'd be lying. Not that he'll ever admit it, of course.


Sakurai doesn't stay for much time. He claims to have a prior appointment, but Jun senses that he's simply feeling nervous. He keeps blinking madly as they talk and makes very little eye contact –which means, if Jun remembers correctly, that he's most likely freaking out on the inside.

"I'll come to see you one of these days… it that's okay with you," Sakurai says, shuffling from foot to foot in front of Jun's door.

"I'd like that," Jun says. He laughs when Sakurai stares at him, a bit dumfounded. "I will be alone during most of the week, and I could honestly use some company. I hate being alone lately," he says with a chuckle, hoping he doesn't sound as pathetic as he does in his mind.

"Oh, if that's the case… I could stop by later," Sakurai says.

Jun blinks. "Would you? I mean… you don't have to if you're busy."

"I… I have some free time tonight." Sakurai grins hesitantly. "I was planning to spend the night alone at my place anyway. To be honest with you, I don't like it much either."

Jun tries not to seem too excited about it, although he is. "Okay… I'll be waiting for you, then."

"Should I bring anything to eat? I know a very good Italian place, if you're still into that."

"Sounds good!"

They bid each other goodbye. Jun sighs of relief once the door is closed. It feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders after his conversation with Sakurai. Besides, he also got Masaki's scarf back. It smells like Sakurai does, though. Not that Jun particularly dislikes it, but it's strange that an object that usually made him think about Masaki now also reminds him of another person.

He spends the afternoon reading a book on the couch. The apartment feels so empty now that he is by himself, and he can't wait for Sakurai to come. As it gets darker, he grows antsy. Depending constantly on other people during the last few months was pretty convenient, given his circumstances, but he didn't think that being alone for the first time since the incident –that's how he calls his failed suicide attempt, if only to avoid thinking of the word 'suicide'– would be this frightening.

The sky is completely dark now. Jun sits on the veranda, hugging his legs against his chest. He's changed into an old t-shirt and his favorite sweatpants. He looks at the scars in his arms and feels his chest tightening. He tries to stay positive, but he ends up crying. He doesn't like this.

"Matsumoto-kun?"

Jun jumps when he hears the voice behind him. "S-Sakurai… how…?" He immediately hides his arms behind his back.

"Nino gave me the keys," Sakurai explains. Then he stares at Jun and frowns. "Were you crying?"

"N-No…" Jun lies. Sakurai folds his arms across his chest. "I just… I felt…" Jun bites his lip and looks away.

Sakurai hugs him.

He smells so good.


Then Sakurai sees Jun's scars…

And completely freaks out.

Shit.



"Stop looking at me like that."

"…"

"This is why I didn't want to talk to you! I knew that you wouldn't understand…"

"It's not that, Matsumoto-kun. And, believe it or not, I do understand."

"Then?"

"…"

"Sakurai…"

"It hurts."

"What hurts?"

"Not being able to do anything for you."



Jun is still thinking about their conversation of that night some days later. Sakurai has kept in touch with him, mailing and calling a couple of times per day. He hasn't been able to visit Jun due to work, though.

Loneliness hasn't been much of an issue during these days, since Jun keeps himself busy. He waits patiently for his parents' daily calls and Nino's occasional mails. He goes out to the veranda more often to watch the city.

When someone opens the door, Jun rushes towards it, unable to hide the wide grin on his face.

And finds Ohno.


Talking to Ohno is way easier than talking to Sakurai.

"I had forgotten that you had a key!" Jun laughs and hands Ohno a can of beer.

"Sorry for not returning it," Ohno smiles sheepishly.

Unlike Sakurai, Ohno doesn't comment on Jun's scars. They talk mostly about what Ohno's been up to since the last time they met. Jun is grateful for the distraction. He's talked so much about himself lately that he's getting bored of it.

"And how are you? Doing well, I hope?" Ohno finally asks.

"I'm doing better," Jun merely says.

Ohno doesn't pressure him for details.



"Hang in there," Ohno says and pats Jun's cheek before leaving.

Jun gapes at him.

How does he do that? How did he know? Aside from the scars, Jun is sure that not much has changed about him. And they didn't talk about Jun's problems at all.

Yet Ohno noticed.



Just hanging in there won't do.
It's time to act.



The morning after Ohno's visit, Jun decides to go out on his own.

He puts on Masaki's scarf and walks out of his apartment. His steps are hesitant at first, and he just wants to go back and hide himself under a blanket. No, he shakes his head and continues walking. Each step makes him feel more confident.

Before he knows, he's already outside. He shields his eyes from the sun with a hand, smiling. He takes a deep breath and continues.
He finally visits that bakery Nino likes so much. He rewards himself for his feat with an extra big cinnamon roll and a latte. After he's done, he goes out to walk aimlessly around town for a while. His phone rings.

"Matsumoto-kun?"

"Oh, Sakurai-san! What's up?"

There's silence on the other side of the line. "You sound like you are in a good mood."

"I am," Jun says, and can't help giggling. "I'm outside!"

"Y-You are? That's great! That's great, Matsumoto-kun!" Sakurai says. He sounds about as excited as Jun is. "Where are you?"

"Remember that store where Masaki shopped most of his clothes?"

"Okay… that's not too far from here. I'll join you there."

"Great! I'll be waiting inside. I really need new clothes."

Sakurai chuckles. "I had forgotten how much you love shopping."

Jun rolls his eyes, even if Sakurai can't see him now. "Get your ass here soon or I might go to another store without you," he says and hangs up with a grin.

Once inside the store, Jun feels the need to buy everything his eyes land on. By the time Sakurai gets there, Jun already has a pile of clothes in his hands –which he dumps on Sakurai to go and get some more.

"You won't buy all these, will you?" Sakurai asks. Only his eyes are visible behind all the things he's holding for Jun. He looks incredibly amused.

"Shut up and walk, Sakurai," Jun says. Sakurai bursts into a peal of laughter. "Oh, look! This one would look cute on Nino…"

Sakurai looks at him like he's just grown a second head. "Seriously?"

"It would suit him, don't you think?" Jun holds the garment up to show it to Sakurai. It's a yellow hoodie with a fox face and ears. "He looks good in this color."

Sakurai shakes his head. "Masaki's fashion sense rubbed off too much on you."

Jun aims a smack to Sakurai's head but fails. "I'm buying it," he says and throws the hoodie in Sakurai's face.

They end up going out of the store with at least seven bags. Jun takes the smallest one and lets Sakurai carry the rest all the way back to his apartment.

"I'm so tired," Sakurai whines.

"Aww," Jun coos and pinches Sakurai's cheek. "Then I guess you won't want to go out to get some lunch with me? I know a very good soba place."

Sakurai's eyes narrow in suspicion. "No more shopping?"

"No more shopping, I promise." Jun laughs.


Jun lied.

He drags Sakurai to continue shopping after lunch.



When they come back, Sakurai is still sporting a massive pout.

"You promised…"

"I'm so sorry," Jun says with a grin, not feeling sorry at all. "I guess I got carried away."

Sakurai sighs. "Fine… but I'm choosing what we do next time!"

Next time. Somehow Jun feels excited to hear that. He will go outside again. "Fair enough," Jun replies.

Before Sakurai leaves, Jun pulls him back inside. He puts a bracelet in Sakurai's wrist. "For being with me today," he simply says.

Sakurai beams at him, his round eyes shining happily. "Thank you."

It was a great day.



The bracelet Jun bought, which came as a set with Sakurai's, is on his night table.

It will be a reminder of today. The first day he felt completely at ease since things started going wrong.

"Please, let tomorrow be like today," he prays silently as he closes his eyes.



Follow the link for part 5

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