stormymood: (Default)
[personal profile] stormymood posting in [community profile] arashi_exchange

A piece of rainbow for [personal profile] lilly0  Part 2



~~~~~ August // Feathered Eclairs ~~~~~
If there is anything their bi-weekly exchanges has taught Jun, it is that Sho’s a walking enigma most of the times. Despite his familiarity with the others, it is often clear that whereas the three owners of Eden Hall and Samejima SK shares an almost familial relationship, Sho always holds himself emotionally distant from the trio.

Perhaps it isn’t intentional. If anything, it is something Jun expected, for Sho clearly holds an occupation totally unrelated to theirs.

Jun wonders if the man is lonely.

At times, Jun feels the same way when it comes to his colleagues as well. Having not been in Japan for a while, there are moments when all Jun wants is to sit down and reminisce about Paris, a city that bustles like Tokyo, but not in the same way. The nostalgic melancholy hits Jun often, especially during quiet nights at home when he will suddenly miss his friends and the tiny apartment he had in Paris. Tiny, but frequently accompanied by jazz music from the bistro downstairs. There were the summer sunsets at 10 in the evening, but also the infrequent snowy winter days where Jun spent cradling a thermos of hot chocolate as he overlooked River Seine.

That isn’t to say that he did not miss Japan when he was in Paris – he did, badly. Nevertheless, now that he is back in Tokyo, he wishes for a friend he can reminisce to; someone who understands the wanderlust of his youth.

To Jun’s vexation, the only one who has the ability of providing Jun that solace is Sho. The man never fails to ask Jun about his short-lived Parisian life in their weekly, one-hour exchanges, citing his job as an excuse to want to hear more about Europe.

Jun isn’t sure if Sho is being sincere with his motivations – one moment he is his charismatic self, capable of making intelligent conversations with Jun, and in the next, Sho will somehow sneak in an animal analogy to tease Jun, eyes darkening with challenge and with an unreadable expression that makes Jun freeze in his seat like a rabbit trapped by a tiger.

(…Even Jun himself is getting ‘infected’ by Sho’s uncanny ability to associate himself with animals.)

To add to his mysterious charm, Jun learns quickly that asking Sho about himself is like dragging a stubborn mule to a watering hole. Within seconds, the man will have flipped the question and inform him that “curiosity killed the cat.”

Jun’s initial response of “but satisfaction brought it back” has him blushing when he realizes what said ‘satisfaction’ can imply, as well as the lecherous grin that Sho shoots him, clearly thinking the same thing.

And then Sho follows up with the cheesecake request.

In conclusion, Sho is infuriating on most evenings. It is almost as though Sho is being intentionally difficult, and hopefully, not for the sake of a slice of cheesecake.

Their frustrating interactions eventually bleeds into a regular habit, although sometimes Jun feels as though their conversations only end up unidirectional. How long, Jun wonders, will it take for Sho to open up to Jun without bringing up the infernal cheesecake, nor associate Jun to an animal - a pet, even?

Despite his annoyance, there is a tiny part of him that cannot deny that Sakurai Sho clearly had a presence that can tame even the most stubborn, and sharpest of felines.

His theory is proven correct no sooner than later, when Jun finds himself in a mental slump of sorts. In hindsight, Jun realizes that it may have been a delayed betrayal of his body after the intercontinental move, and starting at work without much rest.

Barely months into his work at Samejima SK, Nino has to give him the reminder that he needs to make August’s special, and all Jun can do is stare at him blankly.

(The special changes on the 10th of each month, so it isn’t as much of a ‘monthly’ special as one may think.)

“The special?”

“Yes, the special. The one for our collaboration of Aiba-shi’s zoo upstairs?” Nino waves his hand in front of Jun’s face, eyebrows raising in mild surprise. “You usually have it ready and taste-tested by now.”

“We don’t need it urgently, of course, but we were just curious because you usually have it ready by now.” Ohno continues from the other side of the kitchen, bringing out a tray of fresh croissants in preparation for their late-afternoon rush.

On Jun’s side of the kitchen, Chinen is piping his batch of macarons as a ‘test’ to see if said baker-slash-kitchen help can now officially help with Jun’s pastries after a month of lessons. Jun is grateful for Chinen’s obsession with impressing Ohno - as a result, he is a fast learner, and passes Jun’s ‘test’ with flying colours.

“Perfectionist Matsumoto wouldn’t have forgotten, would you?”

Jun has not forgotten – Nino is right on that account, at least. However, it is very true that for the last two months Jun has had the items planned and ready around this time of the month.

“I didn’t forget. I just haven’t thought of it yet.” Jun huffs, and leans forward to pinch the bridge of his nose. A headache had been building between his eyes since he had gone to bed last evening, and whereas their day off is just a mere two days away, Jun isn’t looking forward to staying past closing time to brainstorm.

“Creative block?”

“No, just been out of my mind. My priority had been training Chinen, who, by the way, passed.” Jun pats Chinen on the back just as the younger man turns to Ohno for a high five.

Typical.

Nino rolls his eyes at the exchange before grabbing one of the fresh macarons and dropping it on a napkin. Looking at him in confusion, Jun is about to ask what Nino is doing, only to find himself being pushed towards the backdoor.

“Nino?!”

“Here,” Nino places the lemon-earl grey macaron in Jun’s palm and lightly closes Jun’s fingers around it. “Go up to Aiba-shi’s place. Today is Saturday, isn’t it? Sho-chan should be around.”

Jun sputters at the words, careful to not crush the macaron – there is no real reason to waste good food – but tries his best to dig his heels into the tiled flooring. “What on earth are you saying?”

“We can handle the bakery for the next 2 hours anyway. Go talk or watch or stalk Sho-chan – that always seems to inspire you.”

“Excuse me?” Before Jun can deny the statement properly, he finds that Nino has already closed to the door between the backroom and the kitchen, grinning his gummy smile and waving at Jun to go through the tiny glass window.

Fighting the urge to flip Nino his finger, Jun sighs heavily and presses a finger to his temple.

On one hand, he can simply hide out in the backroom and think of the next special; and on the other, Jun can take Nino’s advice and go up to Eden Hall. As much as he hates to admit, Nino is right. Interacting with Sho always seems to inspire Jun – and Jun is quite annoyed that it is such the case.

Is he that easy to read? Sometimes Jun wonders if it is only him that is that readable; Nino and Sho seems to have zero problems reading him, and Ohno… well, no one can read Ohno, besides Aiba and Nino, so Jun cannot tell what the man thinks of him.

And Sho…

Before he knows it, Jun finds himself in the backroom of Eden Hall, hand still holding onto the macaron. (Of which, Jun has no idea what to do with it – give it to Sho? Or eat it for himself?)

With a sigh of resignation, he slips out into the main room.

“Matsujun? What are you doing here?” Aiba asks in surprise, Souta and Miyama cradled in his arms. A brush is set on the counter next to him, covered in fur, and Jun grimaces – he wouldn’t be working at the counter in this uniform afterwards, from the looks of it.

“Nino sent me up.”

“We’ve got no orders, right? It’s a quiet day. I think everyone is out at the beaches this time of the month.”

Aiba was right – it is quiet, especially quiet for the weekend; but that is usual in clear summer days such as today. On rainy weekends, on the other hand – that is when Eden Hall and Samejima SK have the most reception.

Jun shuffles awkwardly, unsure of how to put that he is there to see Sho. “Um, Nino sent— “

“Oh, you’re here to see Sho? He’s in a different corner today.” Aiba grins as he cuts Jun off, a knowing shine in his eye.

‘Now Aiba could read him too.’ Jun sighs slowly, and nods in thanks.

“He’s with Reiko-chan today though, so you’ll have to be careful. She’s a bit picky today. Tried to scratch me.”

Jun raises his eyebrows at the comment, leaning slightly over the counter to look at the corner that Aiba is pointing to.

Reiko is notorious for being the most aloof cat in Eden Hall, yet there she is, rolling in Sho’s lap as she purrs and nuzzles against his dark burgundy shirt. Sho does not seem bothered by the amount of white fur being left on his jeans, instead offering his fingers to Reiko.

Jun finds it impossible to pull his eyes away from the sight; he has seen Sho’s hands many times, yet always… always, he finds his attention being drawn to them first, especially when they handle a delicate creature.

His large, beautiful hands with his long fingers, stroking Reiko in a heavy, repetitive sweep from her head to her back, and the other… Reiko’s pink tongue is gently lapping his fingers, nibbling slightly occasionally but never with the intention to hurt. Her eyes are half-closed under his attention, her purr reaching even Jun and Aiba despite them being a good distance away from the scene.

In the twenty-six years that is Jun’s life, he has never thought it capable for him to be jealous of animals, no less a cat. Yet as he watches Reiko sprawl herself all over Sho’s lap, he cannot help the overwhelming irrational sense of jealousy boiling within him.

It is not merely jealously – alongside the hot flash of envy is also a familiar state of arousal and want. Since meeting Sho, Jun has been lured by Sho’s aura in the same way other animals grow tame and quiet in his presence.

And his hands… Jun can almost imagine Sho’s hand in his hair, petting him in a way he is doing so to Reiko, and Jun knows he’d melt.

Jun has never been so sexually attracted to someone who equally garnered frustration in him, yet here is Sho – undeniably enigmatic with his clockwork-like visits and obsession with cheesecake (Jun knows over-exaggerating here, but he wishes Sho would stop with the cheesecake requests), as well as his ‘ability’ to calm all the animals in the room, attract them to his feet, and do the same to Jun.

If Sho tells Jun to kneel by his feet and lick his fingers, Jun will willing do so. Hell, Jun may beg for them, at this rate. And Jun is never the type to submit – in Paris, his sex life was with strangers picked up in bars, of fumbling hands and hurried release, but Jun had never found a partner who made him feel the way he does as he watches Sho.

Sho, who is crooning and handsome and even more so gorgeous with a regal cat on his lap.

In his fascination, Jun realizes a little too late that he may have been staring at Sho for too long without really approaching him. Then Sho raises his eyes to look at Jun, mouth parting just ever so slightly and eyes scorching itself into Jun’s memory.

Sho smirks, and Jun jerks back as though he has been touched by an electric wire.

Dangerous. Hot. Alluring.

Flushing at having been caught, Jun quickly turns and flees from the cafe, leaving the macaron by the counter and ignoring Aiba’s questioning call.

~~~~~

Jun removes his uniform in a rushed flurry, folding it and pushing it into his bag to wash at home – before re-entering the kitchen after a short visit to the bathroom.

With Sho’s gaze still burned into his memory, Jun finds it almost impossible to drag his focus onto his biggest task at hand.

Preparing for tomorrow’s morning sales, and then next month’s special.

“Jun? You’re back fast. And you look flustered. Did something happen upstairs?” Ohno asks in concern when he returns from the storefront, thankfully alone. There is no way Nino would have let Jun stay in the kitchen if Nino had seen him return just a mere 15 minutes after sending him up.

Jun hurriedly shakes his head and peeks out at the display counter, sighing in relief when he sees Nino occupied with the evening crowd, requiring the help of Chinen to shuffle the fresh trays in. He will have at least an hour of peace, then, and Nino will not be the wiser (not).

The image of Sho’s hand caressing Reiko’s fur while the other brings a cup of tea to his lips flashes before Jun, and his knees tremble ever so slightly.

Work. He needed to focus on work.

“Jun?”

“Fine, I’m fine.” Jun rushes as he takes out the carton of heavy cream from the fridge. “I’m just going to start making the cream and bases for tomorrow.”

Ohno shuffles into his view, leaning over Jun’s counter to peer at his face. His round cheeks are puffed up in concern. “You look a bit flushed. … you’ve been looking peaky all day. Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Just a persistent headache. Nothing some sleep tonight won’t fix.” Jun defends weakly, pointedly avoiding Ohno’s gaze as the older man hums. “Let me ponder on the special overnight and I’ll give you a rough draft after the weekend?”

Ohno pats his back reassuringly, and pushes the plate of warm bread – made from the scraps of each batch of bread – towards the patissier with an accepting nod. “Not a problem. Maybe…”

Jun does not appreciate the sudden care in Ohno’s tone.

“Maybe… you should take the day off tomorrow. Chinen has already passed your ‘test’, hasn’t he? He’s capable of handling tomorrow’s half day.”

“What? No, no, I’m fine, really.” Jun blanches at the prospect of taking a day off – he hasn’t even worked for more than two months yet.

“None of us keep the hours you do, Jun. We know you’re always the last to leave the bakery hours past closing time – Aiba tells us. A half day off isn’t so bad. And Sunday’s always our slowest day.”

“I’m good. Really. It’s as you’ve said. It’s just a half day tomorrow.” Jun ducks his head insistently. In his last-ditch effort to change the topic, Jun offers Ohno the handle of saucepan. “Do you want to help me make the chocolate ganache?”

He internally sighs at the brightening of Ohno’s expression – for now, he has averted the crisis.

Of course, when everyone leaves at 5.30, Jun does not leave with them. Despite setting his own deadline for post-weekend, Jun prefers not to be plagued by images and animal metaphors the entire weekend – he has enough of that for the week.

Animals mean Eden Hall and work and… Sho.

Jun groans, scratching his head as he crushes the piece of paper in one hand. A brief glimpse at the clock shows that it has only been half an hour since everyone has left, yet Jun has already drawn and crumpled at least 10 failed sketches, all ideas that came to him but did not feel right.

Head still aching, Jun sighs aloud to himself and drops his head to rest in his arms on the counter. He never had this amount of trouble coming up with items, yet his brain does not seem to be cooperating with him this evening. Closing his eyes, Jun lets out a strangled whine and sighs. Perhaps he’d should rest his eyes for a while…

With his fading consciousness, the last thought Jun has is the wondering of what Sho’s hand would have felt like on his head.

~~~~~

There is a heavy weight on Jun’s head. It is comfortable, too comfortable, feeling large and warm, fingers slowly weaving between hair to massage at his scalp. Even though Jun has no idea who and if the person is real, Jun cannot help but hum under the attention.

It feels too good to be real – like what Sho’s hand may possibly feel like in his hair, the heavy but comforting strokes vanishing the ache in his head, then gently sliding down to grasp at his shoulders and knead at the tightness of his muscles.

So good. Jun hums in his sleep. He may have let out a sound akin to a mewl, tilting his head slightly towards the warmth, but he is too sleepy to care.

Not real.

A soft chuckle sounds from behind him, but it must have been a dream for the voice following it sounds awfully like Sho, and there is no way Sho can be in the kitchen of Samejima SK.

There is no way.

“You really shouldn’t treat your body like this, you know?”

Jun mewls, and snuffles against his arm. He hears a small chuckle, then fingers lightly massage his temple.

“You’re adorable. But you’re just like a pigeon, did you know that? Getting all territorial and jealous of a cat. Or perhaps…well, you’re just a kitten looking for attention, aren’t you?” A small pause, then a sigh. “Take care of yourself better, won’t you?”

With a gentle, barely-there caress against his cheek, the presence disappears.

Jun jerks awake suddenly, whipping his head around blearily. The kitchen is quiet and empty, and a quick check of the time informs him that it is nearly half past 9.

He must have fallen asleep. Jun blankly stares at the mess on his counter, paper balls still scattered about – there is no way he’d be able to think when he is this tired, although the pain in his head has miraculously vanished from the long nap.

Perhaps he should really take up Ohno’s offer and take the following day off. A small niggling feeling tells him to go home and rest – to think about work another day when he feels more human and refreshed, when he is less exhausted.

He pretends to ignore the phantom sensation of the ‘dream’ hands, still easing Jun’s aches.

Shaking his head, Jun begins the quick process of throwing out the crumpled ideas, making a mental note to text Ohno about taking up the offer for his day-off. That means that he has 2 full days to himself – to sleep in, to water and prune his bonsais, and to go to the Monet exhibition in Ueno Par—

Jun’s hand freezes suddenly, shock running through his spine like ice water down his back.

It must have been a dream, right? There is no way that his dream could have been reality, for the kitchen shouldn’t be open to anyone but those who work in the building.

Yet there it was, proof that someone had been there: the lemon earl-grey macaron he had left upstairs is lying innocuously on the countertop, as though it had never left the kitchen, sans the noticeable fact that someone has taken a bite out of it.

What on earth?

~~~~~

Sho seems almost smug a week later, with his plump lips wrapped around the Dark Chocolate Feather and Darjeeling Lemon Éclair, eyes staring straight at Jun when Jun delivered an order of Mont Blancs upstairs.

~~~~~ Still August // The (Bloody) Cheesecake~~~~~

One mid-August evening, Jun has to take a small step back in surprise when he enters Eden Hall. The air of Eden Hall is laden with a heavy sense of despondency, the atmosphere so despairing that Jun has to wince.

And then he gapes at the sight of Aiba apologetically trying to pry the claws of Shinigami-nyan out of Sho’s suit blazer. “What on earth?”

“Matsujun, could you help a bit?” Aiba gestures to the remaining pile of animals that have found their way onto Sho, ears held low and tails droopy as they rub themselves against Sho’s chest or leg.

Warily making his way through the critter pile, Jun hesitantly lifts out Souta, who had been on the way of being squished into a rabbit pancake by Miyama. Strangely enough, the rabbit immediately settles in Jun’s careful grip, only letting out soft teeth clicking sounds and pawing listlessly in Sho’s direction.

Sho appears unbothered by the flock of animals around him, a heart wrenching soft smile gracing his expression as he soothes their sad cries.

“Did someone… die?” Jun cautiously asks, uncertain of what can garner such a depressing response from the animals. Sho trades a look with Aiba, hand reaching out to scratch beneath Tarou’s chin, before training his eyes onto Jun. His pupils – usually a warm and tantalizing dark brown – are unusually rueful and serious today, and Jun’s heart sinks.

“No, but it seems I’ll be going away.” Sho responds morosely, a chorus of whines following his answer. “I’m sorry everyone, I know, I’ll miss you too.” He hurriedly adds to the unhappy animals.

Jun freezes, his hand pausing mid-stroke of Souta’s fur in surprise. “For how long?”

It cannot be for too long now, cannot? After all, Jun has only just begun to warm up to Sho (he has yet to make the requested cheesecake, nor does he intend to do so anytime soon), their conversations growing warmer in the recent days. Yet a sense of horror falls upon Jun, for the animals will not react this sadly unless the issue is something a bit more…

“For the foreseeable future.”

If Jun wasn’t conscious of the fragile creature in his hand, Jun might have already dropped Souta onto the ground. Instead, with his breath catching in his throat, Jun whispers, “Why?”

“The European branch manager of the travel magazine company I’m working in recently decided to quit. The division is currently in shambles because while the next August issue is ready, the ones for September are not, and they need someone there immediately.” Sho explains slowly, eyes sharp as he tries to capture Jun’s response. Jun keeps his lips shut, uncertain of what he should say or give away.

Inside, his heart feels inexplicably crushed by the revelation. “Why are they sending you then?”

This time, it is Aiba who looks surprised at the question, glancing at an awkward Sho. “Jun-kun, didn’t Sho-chan tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“He’s the editor-in-chief for Japan’s Travel-Leisure magazine, and has a decent hand in English. If there’s anyone else qualified for the job of a branch manager, it’s probably him.”

Jun blinks. Editor-in-chief. Sakurai Sho, the editor-in-chief for Japan’s biggest travel magazine, which is an extension of the most popular international travel magazines - at the ripe age of thirty. Jun cannot believe his ears, yet there is no denying that everything makes a lot more sense now. The two-week cycles of looking very put together into a tired mess, especially as editor-in-chief… the money he uses to afford his regular visits.

And now he is going to leave.

Jun wonders why Sho never told him, but in the man’s defence, Jun never tried hard enough to find out. He regrets that now.

“I see.”

Swiftly locating the rabbit basket, Jun stiffly lowers Souta onto the blankets and turns on his heel.

“Jun – wait!”

~~~~~

Ohno and Chinen cleverly leaves the kitchen the moment Jun trudges into the room – hands washed of rabbit fur – face dark and hard.

“We’ll hand out the samples for the next hour or so.” Ohno comments as he hastily pushes the confused kitchen help outside. “Have a cookie or two, Jun.”

Jun remains quiet as he stares at the cooling macaron bases on the counter, waiting to be assembled.

There should have been no reason for Jun to mope… Jun’s friendship with Sho has been a mix of frustration and unresolved sexual tension. Yet there is a benevolence and gentleness that Jun and only Jun is privy to. Jun knows that Sho had always given him a ‘special’ treatment of sorts, one that surprises everyone he rants to about the infuriating man - especially when most people give into Sho’s charm within seconds of meeting him.

Yet here is Jun, an anomaly who refuses to give into the ridiculous cheesecake demand, someone who frequently gets annoyed with Sho… but simultaneously, Sho is the first person to make Jun feel ‘not lonely’, the first, if not only person Jun feels at home conversing with.

The thought of losing someone as important as Sho makes the spicy chocolate ganache filling Jun is tasting turn bitter against his tongue.

Sighing in resignation, Jun begins to slow match and assemble the macarons, losing himself in the repetitive motion of pipe, grab, twist. He ends up being so engrossed that he does not even notice when the door to the backroom swings open.

He jumps when a warm hand pats his head.

Next to him, Sho leans his back against the marble counter, but not before stealing a completed macaron from the tray.

“Aren’t you supposed to be comforting them upstairs?” Jun says quietly as he continues to assemble the macarons – doing that while talking to Sho makes it less likely for Jun to snap, or to cry. After all, the workplace is no place for tears.

“You seemed upset. And here I thought you didn’t like me.” Despite the lightness in his voice, Jun picks out the tiniest tone of regret. Perhaps Sho does not like the prospect of leaving either.

“I never said that.”

“Well,” Sho leans over to grab another macaron, and Jun swats at his hand in admonishment. “You never made me any cheesecakes.”

“Yes, I haven’t. Stop taking the macarons!” Jun hisses, pointing the end of the piping bag at Sho. Sho laughs and raises his hand in surrender, and Jun wonders for a moment if Nino can hear them from the counter. If Nino can, he makes no sign of it, no head peeking through the door.

Jun makes no motion to move when Sho leans in close, and blows warm air in his ear. “Won’t you make me one before I leave, please?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

‘Because then I’d be saying goodbye.’ Is what Jun wants to say, but instead, what comes out is: “When are you going?”

“It was a sudden offer, but the changeover is planned on the start of September, so I’ll have to leave on the 30th.”

August 30th. His birthday. It is just barely two weeks away, and the dulling excitement for his 27th birthday melts into dread. He has that amount of time with Sho left.

“The only concession is that I’ve been given leave to pack and settle my affairs here now that the mid-August issue has been printed, so I’ll have a bit more free time to spend here.” Sho shifts to press against Jun’s side slightly, tilting his head to catch Jun’s frozen gaze. “I was wondering, the branch is situated in Paris, and my French is barely passable… perhaps you could help me?”

The question is innocent, yet Jun knows at that very moment that Sakurai Sho is going to be the death of him. One glimpse of Sho’s bright, apologetic eyes, and Jun knows that there is no way he can say no. Not to Sho, and not for this.

“I…okay. Alright.”

Jun wonders if he’d regret it, if it is worth him hurting himself, getting closer to a man Jun knows is going to leave; but when Sho reaches out to hug Jun in happiness, his heart flutters, and he thinks, maybe - just maybe - it may be worth the pain.

The pain from falling in love with a leaving man, that is.

~~~~~

Teaching has never been Jun’s forte, moreover if he is to teach a language, yet Jun finds that it is easy to teach Sho - he catches on quickly, memorizes fast, and asks the best questions. Of course, Jun internally acknowledges that Sho was likely the brightest boy in his class – there must be a reason why he was promoted to editor-in-chief of such an esteemed magazine at a young age.

They share only two hours every weeknight spanning from 5 to 7. The first hour in Eden Hall, the second in the kitchen. Mondays are different, however. Mondays are the only days Jun was off, and that means that those hours are the more precious of days where Jun can meet Sho in a cafe – Jun in his glasses, Sho in his T-shirt and jeans – to study more French, to talk about the places to go, the food to eat.

Free from animals (but not of animal metaphors; Sho likes them a little too much) and secrets, Jun finds these private meetings with Sho the most enlightening of interactions he has had with the man, but also the saddest.

On the last day before Sho leaves, the five of them – Ohno, Nino, Aiba, Sho and Jun – dress in their yukatas and attend the O-bon festival at the Meiji Shrine. Despite the light-heartedness and jokes being traded around, as well as promises to send home French fries (“You know French fries are American, right, Aiba-chan?”), Jun cannot ignore the heaviness in his heart.

No more time.

“Do you suppose the shrine is still open now?” Jun murmurs at Nino as they watch Sho and Ohno try their hand at the goldfish scooping. Aiba is cheering them on from behind their shoulders, pointing to “there’s Gozen-sama. Catch him. Catch him!”

“There’s a festival today, so probably, yeah.” Nino shoots him a suspicious look. “What are you thinking of?”

“I’ll be right back. I think they’ll be too occupied with catching goldfishes to notice I’m gone but…”

“I’ll cover for you.” Nino casually takes a bite of taiyaki, and makes a shooing motion. “Go on. Do what you need to do.”

Nino always knows.

Nodding in thanks, Jun tucks his fan into the belt of his yukata and quietly walks towards the direction of the main temple. He only looks back once to make sure that no one has noticed his absence, and sighs in relief when he realizes that they are all still occupied.

Ten minutes later he is back, next to Nino, and holding a small paper envelope tightly in his hand.

“Back just in time.” Nino murmurs, eyes flicking down to see what Jun bought.

Jun barely has time to tuck the envelope into the inner pocket of the yukata when the trio turns around, Aiba triumphantly holding a plastic bag containing proclaimed “Gozen-sama” in his hand.

“Look, we caught it!”

“Ohno did.” Sho corrects in amusement, bending forward to put his finger against the tied-up ball of water.

“Oh no you don’t! You’re not going to charm Gozen-sama just before you leave. He’s going to like me first!” Aiba hastily moves the prize away from Sho, curling his hands around it protectively. They all laugh, although Sho pouts in false-offense.

“A fish isn’t going to fall in love with me.”

“Says Snow White.” Jun mumbles quietly. At the sudden outpour of giggles, he blushes a bright-red at the realization that they heard his mumble. But Sho smirks, and reaches up to rest his hand heavily on Jun’s hair. “I wouldn’t be Snow White if animals liked you better, kitten.”

Jun slaps Sho’s hand before Sho even finished saying ‘kitten’.

~~~~~

“So where did you go just now?” Sho nonchalantly asks as they make their way out to the exit. Jun finds it difficult to conjure an appropriate answer in his head, especially when he is delightfully buzzed from all the beer they’ve had.

Swallowing thickly, Jun carefully considers his next words, face warm with intoxication as he watches Ohno clinging to Aiba in drunken glee in front of them. “S-somewhere.”

“Where exactly is somewhere?” A firm hand grips Jun’s shoulder to stop him from crashing into a shrine gate. “Careful there.”

“I— this.” Jun slips out the envelope to press it into Sho’s hand. “For you. For when you g—leave.”

In a swift motion, Sho freezes in his steps and pulls Jun to a stop in the same motion. Jun bites down his yelp of surprise. “Why did you stop?”

“You got me a protection amulet from the shrine.” Sho sounds stunned as he holds the rectangular charm in the palm of his hand. Jun blushes at Sho’s marvel, heart beating like a bird’s. One would have thought that Sho has had received one of these before in his entire life; but as Sho gazes at Jun with unusually teary eyes, Jun wonders if his assumption is untrue.

“You have to get it renewed every year.” Jun blurts out suddenly.

Sho looks confused, but nods. It is a known fact, after all – amulets to be burnt to remove all the bad luck captured in a year’s span. Jun knows he is going to regret the next thing he says, but he can always blame it on the alcohol.

“So, you’ll have to come back once a year. Back to Tokyo.”

‘Back to me.’ Is what Jun really means, but he lets those words hang between them, wishing that Sho will understand Jun has left unsaid.

Sho remains quiet, tension building between the two of them before he gently grips Jun’s wrist and guides him forward to where Ohno, Aiba and Nino are waiting. Jun obediently follows, heart sinking. This is it. Sho is going to leave in the morning tomorrow and there is nothing left for Jun to do or say.

Bitterness clogs the back of his throat like impending nausea, but there is really nothing to throw up besides regret. After they say goodbye, there will be no more time, no more Sho–

“Please don’t leave.”

In that tiny moment where Sho looks up at Jun with the small, apologetic smile, Jun knows he should have kept quiet.

“Jun…” Sho’s voice is gentle, arms reaching out as though to hug Jun; but Jun isn’t going to hurt either of them like this. He ducks, and like a cat caught off-guard, he hurriedly begins to return to where the other three are waiting.

His heart hurts. In less than twelve hours, Sho is leaving, and Jun will be - is already - on a one-way trip to heartbreak town. He does not know when he had started to fall in love with this enigmatic man, yet...

“Jun, slow down. Kitten. I need to tell you something— “

Jun doesn’t even have it within him to respond negatively to the endearment, feeling his throat tighten up further.

“They’re waiting for us. Have a safe flight tomorrow, alright? Message me when you get to Paris.” Jun deliberately avoids Sho’s eyes, and leaves without another word. When Nino catches his teary gaze, Jun does not catch the look Nino gives to Sho. Instead, Jun chooses to drink away his sorrows in the can of beer Aiba offers him.

~~~~~

That night, Jun tries his best to sleep, eyes sore from tears he shed in the shower. In there, he lets himself cry – once he steps out of the bathroom, there is no real reason to cry for a man who will be leaving.

A man who is infuriating… and charming, teasing and intelligent. Someone who has had Jun’s attention from day one and has been so keen in riling up responses from Jun. A man who is obsessed with his bloody cheesecake.

A man who asked Jun to make one for him for his farewell.

It is well past 3am when Jun finally slips into a light unconsciousness, grateful that the bakery and cafe are closed for O-bon week. The last thing he wants to do is go to work with his eyes swollen from crying, and head aching from a mixture of sleep deprivation and alcohol.

Unfortunately, Jun cannot run from Sho, not even in his dreams.

He dreams of Sho’s familiar hand against the side of his head, the warm heat soothing Jun’s aching head as Sho nudges Jun to lay his head on Sho’s bare chest. The sound and feeling of Sho’s beating heart under his ear lulling Jun to sleep as Sho strokes his hair.

“Don’t cry, kitten.” Dream-Sho sighs as he wipes away Jun’s still trickling tears.

And then Jun jerks awake once again, pillow dampened with shed tears and eyes still just as sore. Groaning, Jun grabs his phone and glasses from his nightstand, blearily checking the time. It is merely half past 5, explaining Jun’s weariness and achy body.

There is no way he can fall back asleep now, knowing that Sho’s flight is in less than 6 hours.

His phone blinks with an unread message.

[I’ll be at Narita Airport Terminal 1 until 10.30am. Please come, I need to see you once again. – SS]

Why did Sho want to see Jun again? And is it worth it, for Jun to go, only to see Sho leave? Yet in that tiny message, there is that ‘please’, a word Jun has not heard Sho use often unless he truly wants something from Jun.

Resigned to his fate, Jun kicks off the covers and runs a tired hand through his hair.

He can give Sho this, just this once, just before he leaves... Provided he has all the ingredients he needs in his kitchen – if not, he’ll have to make a short trip to the nearby Lawson’s at the corner of his street.

The (stupid, bloody) cheesecake does not take too long to make – Jun can do it in his sleep, in fact, given that it had been one of the first things he mastered as a patissier.

Nevertheless, Jun takes special care to get precise volumes of each ingredients into the batter, putting all his focus and feelings into it.

This was his goodbye, after all. In this cheesecake, Jun will put his feelings and hope that Sho understands.

~~~~~

He can’t see Sho anywhere, and the announcements are already calling for passengers for the flight to Paris. The hands holding the Tupperware are becoming sweatier as Jun looks around desperately for any sign of Sho.

“Where is he?” Jun mumbles to himself as he checks his phone once again. It is 10.25am, and he only has 5 minutes to find Sho, yet the man is not responding to his texts, nor to his calls.

Jun would have come earlier, but the cheesecake requires a full hour to bake, and more time than necessary to cool in the summer weather. Following that, going to Narita from Tokyo is always a lengthy process, one that had Jun nervously glancing at his phone every second he remained in the train.

Desperation palpable, Jun’s tiredness threatens his self-control, leaving Sho’s name at the tip of his tongue, shy of crying out for Sho, like a stray puppy calling out for his owner in a maelstrom of strangers. Jun isn’t sure what he’d do if he does not get to see Sho again: to go home with a stupid cheesecake he does not want.

10.33am.

Jun stares blankly at the line before the security check. No sign of a Sakurai Sho. In his phone, no messages either.

10.45am.

Jun bites his lip, and gives up. Eyes downcast, he begins his slow walk back to the train station, feeling as though someone had dropped a stone in his stomach.

And then suddenly, he jerks, nearly dropping his phone and cheesecake in surprise when his phone suddenly vibrates in his hand. Not bothering to check the caller ID, he finds the nearest alcove and leans against the wall before picking up the call.

He still cradles the cheesecake against his chest.

“Hello?”

“You came?”

Jun’s eyes shoot open.

“You idiot! You’re going to miss your flight!” Jun hisses into the receiver. The flight is bound to leave any minute now – Jun knows, since he had taken the very same flight years ago.
Sho remains unperturbed still, voice calm as he asks Jun, “Were you going to tell me that today is your birthday?”

“Th-that doesn’t matter.” Jun stutters, fingering the corners of the box nervously. “What’s important is that shouldn’t you be boarding your plane rig—Gah!”

He cries out when someone taps his shoulder. Growling, Jun swivels around to glare at the culprit, only to find himself gaping at Sho in front of him. For someone who is mere minutes away from missing his fucking flight, Sho looks unfrazzled: his stance is relaxed, holding no belongings besides the phone that he holds against his ear. Sho’s eyebrows are raised as he takes in the sight of Jun, slowly hanging up and watching Jun do the same in stunned silence.

“It does. You could have told me, you know.”

“What would that have done? And what on earth are you doing here? Your fligh— “

“I’m not going.” Sho cuts Jun off, expression apologetic as he steps closer into Jun’s personal space. “I denied the offer a week and a half ago. Another colleague of mine – equally capable – went instead. I saw him off today.”

Jun can scarcely believe his ears. “…What? You aren’t leaving?”

Does this mean that Jun never had to brace himself for heartache at all?

“Of course not. I have a feisty kitten to look after. Look at you. You look like you didn’t catch a single wink of sleep last night. Were you that broken-hearted over the prospect of me leaving?” Despite the tease, there is a trace of concern in Sho’s response as he gently cups Jun’s cheek and traces what is likely, the dark circles beneath Jun’s eyes.

Anger blooms in Jun’s chest, nonetheless, at the flippant answer. Wrenching his body away from Sho in a sharp motion, he angrily shoves the Tupperware at Sho, tears of anger – and perhaps relief – trickling down his face like sharp crystals.

“I was up making your stupid cheesecake!”

Sho’s eyes widen, and he hurriedly catches the box, fumbling slightly as Jun crosses his arms and turns away, preparing to return home before he does something stupid like slap Sho in public, tell Sho he hates Sho and his dumb animal metaphors, or—

Or hug him while crying into Sho’s chest in relief, telling him not to leave him ever again. To kiss Sho.

He does not manage to take more than five steps. In a sudden whirl of motion, Jun suddenly finds himself being pinned against the wall behind him. Sho catches his face in one hand, and then it’s suddenly hard to breathe; their faces are so close that they are practically sharing the tiny volume of air between them.

Sho’s eyes are dark, partially from the shadows that are hiding them from the public.

“Tell me, Jun. That these few months hasn’t just been a one-way attraction.”

Jun swallows thickly, tilting his face upwards slightly in defiance.

“You mean a one-way attraction of me towards you, while you pelted me with nicknames and drove me insane with your cheesecake requests and hands— “

He suddenly curses his sleep-deprived mind, unable to maintain the brave gaze after his blatant confession and kink.

“My hands, hmm?” Sho chuckles softly, eyes taking on a more intense gaze as he inches even closer to Jun. There is only the barest amount of space between their lips now. “Jun.”

Jun shyly flicks his gaze to Sho’s dark brown ones.

“I meant it as my one-way attraction of me towards you. Which means it wasn’t so one-way after all.”

And then he presses their lips together, and Jun’s world stops.

This is what he has been delaying.

“Happy Birthday.”

~~~~~



FOLLOW THE LINK for Part 3

Date: 2017-09-09 09:41 am (UTC)
lilly0: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilly0
I really love how both of them find someone to share their loneliness with. It's obvious that they both feel lonely, probably in a way others don't understand. Which is why they understand each other's lonliness so well <3

The sexual tension gets stronger and stronger! It's cute and fun though how the frustration between them builds, and somehow none of them really finds a way to make a step forward. At this point I assume that they feel each other's attraction, but are not really sure about it (not even Sho, despite his confidence)?

Aw, Jun feeling sick, and Ohno being worried for him <3 And of course Sho comes down to pet his head. We all know it's not a dream, Jun. It's so adorable, and shows that Sho really cares for Jun. I found this scene so sweet ♥

Just like everyone else I'm amazed by how well Sho can handle animals. (love Jun's Snow-White nickname for Sho) and how they react to him. I felt so bad for everyone when Sho announced he would leave, mostly for Jun of course, but Sho doesn't seem too happy about it either. It was so sad and heart-clenching to see Jun deal with the news, although it initially brought him and Sho closer by their language lessons!

I'm sorry... Arashi dressed in yukatas? Omg, thanks for this image. I LOVE IT OO The farewell party was lovely, though kind of heart-wrenching too.

I admit, when Jun bought the amulet for Sho and handed it to him, I got tears in my eyes. It was so heart-breaking and sad. And then he even goes to ask Sho not to leave. You got me here, anon, it was such a strong scene (all the emotions, the heartbreak, the unsaid things between them, the sweetnss). Poor Jun. --> WHICH IS WHY I GOT SO FREAKING MAD AT SHO when he revealed he wouldn't leave, and already knows since more than a week. I swear, I was so mad! I mean, I assume he didn't deliberately want to hurt Jun? (curious about what he is going to explain in the next chapter and his reason for it) but it was cruel (And I wanted to kick him right into his balls when he asks Jun if he didn't sleep enough because he was heart-broken) Sho, you asshole! (okay, okay, I know he probably didn't mean to hurt Jun like this, but I'm getting emotional :D Still love you, Sho <3 )

I wonder if Nino already knew or had a feeling that Sho wouldn't leave? That exchange of glances during the festival that Jun didn't realize... (maybe Nino can kick Sho in my place? He is pretty tiny and unpredictable. He could ninja-attack Sho *haha*)

*breathless* My comment gets mixed up, I know, but this chapter has so many feels. When Jun got the message from Sho, asking to meet him at the airport, I wondered how they will resolve this. (now I know of course by the end of this chapter ^^) It's so sweet that Jun makes this cheesecake for Sho, taking his last chance to actually give Sho what he always requested <3 When Sho didn't appear in time, I already got the relieving feeling that he had something up his sleeve (like he wouldn't go, or would take Jun with him, or would only go for a month or something like that) And I was right! I'm so relieved he is going to stay, for Jun ♥ (and with Jun)

By the way, I like how Sho mentions Jun's birthday. He is right, it is important and I'm sure he wished he would have known. (Jun needs to be more open about feelings and this stuff too)

Typical Sakumoto that they bascially ate each other up with their eyes and teased each other, but none of them were sure if the other truly liked them. OMG. This is so real.

By the way, as much as Sho's petnames annoy Jun, I think... they kinda fit *lol* Sorry Jun ^^ But he really acts like a kitten someimes. So adorable. Of course Sho immediately got interested.

Profile

arashi_exchange: (Default)
AMNOS/Arashi fanfiction exchange

September 2017

S M T W T F S
     12
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Page Summary

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 19th, 2017 02:44 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios