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[personal profile] stormymood posting in [community profile] arashi_exchange
A piece of rainbow for [personal profile] an_anna 

Title: You Bring Out the Best in Me
Pairing: SakurAiba (main), Sakumoto (colleague bff),
Rating: PG-13 for Kisses
Warnings: Nothing
Summary: Sakurai Sho is the legitimate playboy/most-desirable-bachelor. A fact of which he is well aware and uses as he likes. Until one day, when he meets simple and humble Aiba Masaki with extra baggage, who without he even realized, was the package that he had always looked for so far.
Note: It’s been long since I last wrote SakurAiba but it was great fun to research and write the story, hope you will enjoy it an_jung.



“I really can’t believe him!” Sakurai Sho flinched a little when his CEO, Matsumoto Jun, slammed the thick proposal just like that onto the large meeting table they were sitting around right now. He looked up from his laptop to see the man fuming with anger. He tried to breathe evenly, knowing he needed to stay calm when the other was angry like that, but he couldn't.

“You’re not the only one Jun-kun. I don't know what they thought was wrong with it.” He ran his fingers through his hair, messing it up, and then loosened his tie. No matter how many times he looked at the presentation, he still couldn't understand how it got rejected.

Sakurai Sho and Matsumoto Jun were the CFO and CEO of [KyoToKyo] transporting company. They both had started together a couple of years ago, with excellent work experience and education background, which made them the motor of the company. They had worked hard to get their company noticed and gained projects from outside Japan, even from the US. However, this time, their proposal of a new business line had been declined with no justifiable reason, which was why they were frustrated right now.

“Our competitors have been in the oil and gas transportation business since I don’t know when, so why should we only stick to goods transport? I don’t understand why Ninomiya rejected the idea just like that?! You’ve made the profit forecast but he still rejects it?! That damn b***h!” Jun cursed harshly.

“I don’t think he has the power to decide whether we should carry on the plan or not, he’s just a representative. And he loves money. I think it's more likely that it was Ohno-san who declined this.” Sho bit his thumb softly, thinking of a more possible scenario of how their amazing proposal got rejected with a simple ‘NO’.

“Ohno-san? The owner you mean? If he was the one who refused it, I would say he’s out of his mind. This will make him richer, why would he be so against it then?” Jun slumped onto his chair. He scrunched up his face upon hearing the possibility that their owner had refused their idea.

“Well, as far as we know, we've never met him so how could we know what he thinks?” Sho stared out the window. It was true that he and Jun had never met the owner, not even once. When they had started working in the company, there had been an Ohno senior. He was said to have been the first owner of the company, but that man died not long after they had joined the company. Rumor said that his grandson then inherited the company, who, all the years up until now, had never shown his face at the office. They were contacting the owner through his representative, a guy name Ninomiya Kazunari, the same guy who had rejected their idea just now.

“Don’t you think it’s frustrating? We tried to make this company bigger, and they just simply say no! Ugh, I hate them sometimes. Most of the time.” Sakurai just looked at his business partner, throwing his head back. Jun had to be more frustrated than Sho, since he had been dreaming about this proposal for a year now.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely hungry. Let’s just go eat something. We’ll think about this shit some other time.” Sho finally slammed his laptop shut and moved to gather the sheets of papers scattered around them. It was past 8 pm, and the last meal he had had was only a brunch, no wonder his stomach growled.

“Yeah, you’re right, come on, let’s get some ramen, what do you say?” He raised an eyebrow when hearing Jun’s suggestion, remembering the man was a health freak who in a normal situation wouldn't settle for anything that was not organic. “What? That’s what happens when I'm stressed out.”

Sho laughed heartedly looking at the pout that younger man made. He hurriedly chased after him into the night's chilling air of early March, preparing for a long walk when Jun suddenly turned off into an alley. He entered a small ramen restaurant that was quite hidden from the main street. He raised his eyebrows in confusion and Jun, who noticed it, tried to explain.

“Hey, I was drunk, made a wrong turn and landed here. Just try it first before you say anything.” Jun's blushing face made him laugh even louder. As expected, the younger man would not normally visit such a place, Sho knew that Jun was a posh guy who only wanted the best and branded goods, judging from his appearance.

He listened to more of Jun’s grumble while they were waiting for their meals to be served. Mentally, he was thinking about some people he could call to release his tension tonight. He didn't have to worry, people were lining up for him anyway. He was about to ask about Jun’s trip to Las Vegas when two bowls of steaming ramen was put in front of him. Out of politeness, he looked up to thank the waiter but was immediately sucked into sparkling deep brown eyes looking back at him. He didn’t know how long he had been staring for until he heard fingers snapping and his attention was diverted by Jun’s right hand just in front of his eyes. He squinted when he noticed a series of numbers tattooed onto the man’s wrist.

“Oi! Are you here to stare at the owner or eat?” Jun's question made him turn to look at his friend who hurriedly pulled his long sleeve to cover his wrist. Wait, the owner? Sho turned his head again to see the confused face that was still looking at him, a small smile on it.

“Matsujun is bringing friends now? Nice to see you. Hope our ramen meets your expectations.” The man smiled widely now and Sho felt like being sucked into the smile and left breathless. He stared at the man, at the broad shoulders and chest that were shown by his wet shirt, his brown soft hair held in place by a small towel. The man was sweating at the moment, but Sho still found him attractive, very attractive. His eyes wandered from those almond shaped-eyes over the high perfect nose to his plump lips that were reddened due to his work near the stove. Those kissable lips.

“Earth to Sakurai. Oi! Stop it, you’re embarrassing Aiba-san.” Sho was again shocked when a hand slapped his shoulder. He got a hold of himself faster this time. So the man’s name was Aiba.

“Hello, Aiba-san, I’m Sakurai Sho.” Sakurai extended his hand in a friendly way, happy to have the smile directed to him. He didn’t let go of his hand until the man had stated his name. “Aiba Masaki.”

“Matsujun never told me about the hidden gem he found. If he had done, I might have come sooner.” Sakurai was still looking directly at the man, waiting for his reaction but a smaller man coming from the kitchen area pulled the tall man away.

“Aiba-san, why don’t you check on the roast beef so our customer can finally start eating his ramen,” the man said before turning his face towards Sho, so Sho was able to read the name embroidered on his t-shirt, Kazama Shunsuke. “And sir, it's best to eat Ramen while it’s hot, so please eat it as soon as it is served.”

If looks could kill, Sho was sure he would be dead by now. The new guy looked at him with an unfriendly stare, even though his way of talking still suggested politeness. Sho just nodded, taking his chopsticks and started eating the Ramen. Jun had been right. The ramen was really delicious. He couldn't help looking at the man who served it, secretly of course, because the other guy was still in front of the counter.

“This is really good. So delicious,” he beamed at Jun who was still busily slurping his own ramen beside him. The man just nodded his agreement. Following his lead, Sho continued his meal silently, raising his ramen bowl and heartedly enjoying the salty warm flavor. It didn’t even take him five minutes before he had emptied the large bowl and was facing the unfriendly guy again.

“Thank you for your visit. We will welcome you again, but I must remind you, we only offer what we have on the menu. So if you’re coming for any reason other than that, please reconsider coming,” Kazama said glancing at Aiba’s back and Sho instantly understood the warning.

“Well, I know when I’m not welcome. But as long as he’s not objected, I don’t think you should give me a warning.” Sho put his money on the table, looking challengingly at him. He didn’t understand how someone he had just met could be so unfriendly to him.

“Listen, I know your type, so if you’re just looking for a little fun, look elsewhere. Aiba has enough on his plate right now.” Kazama leaned forward to take the money but Sho clearly heard his whispering. He was about to answer when Jun gripped his arms and pulled him up.

“Thanks for the food Kazama-kun, it was delicious as always. Aiba-san, we’re leaving.” Jun waved his hand, and it was clear that he was a regular. Sho saw Aiba turn and wave back at them.

“What was that all about?! Look, I know you like everything that's beautiful, but could you please stick with your gallery of sex friends, and leave that poor guy alone?” Jun confronted him once they were out of the door and started walking to the station.

“Why do you sound like I’d be a danger for that man? And what are those relationships anyway? I don’t understand how that Kazama guy can be so unfriendly to a customer.” Sho stopped Jun before the man could enter the station. Jun’s place was a couple of stations from their office while Sho only needed to walk two blocks further to his own apartment.

“Listen Sakurai, it’s not a secret that you sleep around, heck you even once asked me. But that guy, Aiba, you can’t treat him like you treat the others. He has been through a lot, and as far as I know, he and Kazama-kun are childhood friends. I will remind you again, please stay away from him.” Matsumoto gave his final warning before he turned and walked into the train station, leaving a startled Sho.

***

Despite all the warnings, Sakurai found himself seated at the ramen bar for the fifth time during the next couple of weeks. He had actually tried to avoid the restaurant, but he couldn't. He wasn't sure though if it was the warm ramen or Aiba’s smile, he was always thinking about. So he found himself taking the same street that Friday afternoon, two weeks after he first had came to the ramen shop. He silently cursed Jun for literally kicking him out of the office because he kept on sneezing for the last two days. According to Jun's nonstop preach, he was banned from his own office until his flu was cured. That day was cold, in his defense, and their staff was also blowing their noses constantly, so it was not entirely his fault that he had caught a cold.

He stopped in front of the ramen shop, noticing the closed-sign. Again, he cursed his own stupidity. It was not even 4 p.m. yet, which explained why the shop was still closed. He was re-thinking his options - he could just continue walking home and grab a konbini bento, or he could wait until the shop opened - when he heard noises at the back of the shop. Sho curiously walked to the narrow alley beside the shop, finding the man of his affection sitting on the cold asphalt, a stack of flour sacks on top of him.

“Aiba-san, are you okay, what happened?” Sho ran towards him, noticing a motorcycle stopping in front of them and a tanned short man getting off, shouting: “Masaki.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought I could lift two sacks of flour at the same time, but I slipped. Hahaha,” the tall man laughed, trying to move the sacks but Sho beat him to it and hurriedly took the sacks himself. His knitted his brows when he read that it was 10 kilos per sack. No wonder the man couldn’t lift them by himself.

“Where’s Kazama-kun?” the motorcycle-guy asked while helping Aiba stand up.

“He’s sick today, so his wife keeps him home, or it may get worse and he might give it to their baby, right?” Aiba explained and turned. He saw Sho was carrying the two sacks and started panicking. “Oh my god, Sakurai-san, so sorry, here, let me take these from you.”

“No, don’t, just tell me where you want me to put these.” Sho shook his head quickly. He wouldn't let the man carry anything now. Aiba hurriedly walked past him and kept on apologizing, while opening the back door for him and that new guy, who brought another big box with him.

It was the first time Sho went through the back entrance of a restaurant. He was expecting a messy table with ingredients, piles of dirty pans or kitchen utensils but the room he stepped into was far from what he had imagined. Yes, there were ingredients on the table, but it was still neatly arranged. There was also a white spot on the tabletop where Sho thought was where they produced their handmade ramen.

“Please put them here Sakurai-san, thank you very much.” Aiba showed him the corner of the pantry where a relieved Sho put his baggage. He stood up to receive a bright smile on Aiba’s lips and all his tiredness went away instantly.

“Masaki, I’ll put the shellfish in the fridge after cleaning.” The new guy who Sho still didn't know put his box near the sink where he started to pick the shellfish one by one. Sho’s eyes turned to look at the big shellfish the man was cleaning.

“Ah, Oh-chan, you don’t have to do that, I can do it later.” Aiba again panicked and was about to take the shellfish away but the man only shrugged it off, as Sho had done. “Don’t be ridiculous, you’re making the ramen right? It's almost time to open, so get the ramen done.”

Aiba could only whisper ‘thank you’ before turning to Sho and nodding his thanks again. But he seemed to have just remembered something and Aiba’s eyes widened. “Wait, Sakurai-san, why are you here at this hour? Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

“Yeah, Jun kicked me out of the office, because he said I got the flu. So I hoped to get a warm meal here.” Sho chuckled, stroking the back of his head, feeling ashamed because of Aiba’s outburst.

“Well, if that's so, please wait at a table. I will prepare your meal soon.” Aiba ushered him out of the kitchen when another surprise was waiting for Sho. At the counter sat a little girl, paper and crayons were scattered in front of her. She looked up to them. “Papa, who is this man?”

“Miyu, introduce yourself to Sakurai-san please.” Aiba guided him to a table, before he called the little girl. Sho couldn't believe his ears. Papa. So Aiba was married and had a daughter - so much for his affection for the man. Sho couldn't control his blank expression, looking at Aiba and his daughter who had stepped in front of him.

“Good afternoon, my name is Aiba Miyu, nice to meet you, sir,” the little girl smiled at him and Sho could see a distinct resemblance of her father in her. “Hi, Miyu, I’m Sho. Your Papa never told me he has such a beautiful daughter.”

Sho couldn't help smiling, when he saw the little girl chuckling shyly. He liked kids and was dreaming about having one, someday in the far future. Miyu really looked like her papa: long nose, big eyes and full red lips, only her face was more round. With her curly brown hair she looked like a living doll. As with Aiba, Sho couldn't take his eyes away from her.

“Come then Miyu, let’s not bother Sakurai-san, ne?” Aiba tried to get his daughter back to her seat, but Sho stopped him. “I don’t mind keeping Miyu-chan company Aiba-san. May I?”

Aiba looked conflicted about it but Sho could see that the man was weak against his own daughter's big puppy eyes and enthusiast nods, asking for a new friend for her. The man looked back to Sho in doubt. “Are you sure it’s okay? I don’t want her to bother you, Sakurai-san.”

“No, she won’t bother me, right Miyu-chan? How about showing me your drawing?” Sho took the kid’s hand and sat beside her at her original place. He stared at the girl as she showed him all her drawings of herself with her classmates, with her teachers, with uncle Kazama, his wife and his little baby boy, and of course many of herself and her papa. All drawn in bright crayon colors, which made Sho smile with adoration. But there was one thing that bothered him. None of the drawings showed herself and her mom, so he asked carefully.

“Miyu-chan's so good at drawing. Also they are so pretty. Miyu’s mom must also be pretty, isn’t she?” Sho looked the girl into her eyes, seeing the bright smile fading slowly and her hand stopped drawing him. “I don’t know. Papa said Mama went to a far away kingdom where she lives with other angels.”

“I’m sorry Miyu, I shouldn’t have asked.” Sakurai quickly put his arm around Miyu, feeling sorry for the little girl. He was expecting the girl to cry, but when she looked up at him, beaming sweetly, he couldn't help falling for the girl too. “That’s okay. Papa said mama is my angel, she'll always stay with me, I just can’t see her.”

Sho smiled back at her. For someone who was used to talking a lot, he was lost for words. But Aiba saved him, carrying two plates of fried rice in his hands, which was weird since it was not on the menu.

“I hope you'd like to eat something before the ramen is cooked. I made this for Miyu, but maybe…” Aiba said doubtfully. Sho immediately extended his hands, especially because his stomach was grumbling very loudly, and took the plates. “I would love to, I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.”

Miyu giggled beside him, taking spoons for them to eat. “Papa’s fried rice is the best.”

“Yup, it is.” The short tanned man from earlier showed up from behind the kitchen curtain, carrying a plate of fried rice and chewing it eagerly.

“Uncle Toshi!” Miyu jumped down from her chair and ran towards the man, hugging his waist dearly. The man laughed, putting down his plate before carrying the girl around. “Here's my princess.”

Sho smiled watching them, but somehow he felt a pang of disappointment seeing his new friend abandon him and run to her uncle Toshi. Looking at Aiba surprised face, the man realized he hadn't introduced them.

“Ah, I forgot to introduce you two. Sakurai-san, this is Oh-chan, my supplier for fresh shellfish, and Oh-chan, Sakurai-san is a regular at our restaurant.”

“So this is the famous Sakurai that Kazama warned you about?” That Oh-chan guy extended his right hand and Sho could clearly see a tattoo written there. MJ.

“Warn you? About me?” Sho laughed seeing the blush on Aiba's face. “Tha... that's not what he means, he only means well.”

“Uncle Toshi, where's my present?” Miyu’s voice broke the tensed atmosphere. She extended her small palm, which made uncle Toshi laugh. He carried the girl back to her place but he sat on the chair, letting the girl sit on his lap.

“Of course I remember, princess… here it is.” Oh-chan took a piece of paper from inside his shirt pocket and Miyu eagerly looked at the drawing there, Totoro and friends. It was drawn so beautifully that Sho thought a professional artist had made it. However, the signing was a serial number that he thought he had seen before.

“Wow, the drawing is so nice. Did you draw it yourself?” Sho commented.

“Yes he did, I want to draw like uncle Toshi. Ne, uncle Toshi is so nice, he can draw and he sometimes takes us to the beach and fishes for me. I love uncle Toshi the most. I want to be his bride.” Miyu's innocent blabbering made all adults look at her in disbelief, then burst out laughing. Oh-chan tried to stifle his laugh. “Thank you princess, we'll see in another 20 years, ne…”

***

Sho felt his feet wobble a little as he brought the dirty bowls to the kitchen. He was thinking of leaving when Aiba started to open the restaurant for the night and Miyu was sent upstairs, where they both lived. Now that Sho knew where they lived, it was a reason to come more often. But as he was about to leave, other customers, salesmen from the area were flooding in and he couldn't leave Aiba all on his own. So he hung his suit jacket and necktie on the back door, put on apron and started helping by taking orders, cleaning and making drinks while Oh-chan also decided to stay and do the dishes. Since it was Friday night, many more came than usual, so they worked nonstop. Now his flu has taken its toll of him.

“Irrashai…” Sho turned when he heard the sliding door being opened but he didn't expect his colleague to be standing there and staring at him in disbelief.

“Sho! I thought I kicked you out of the office so you can take proper rest and not work part-time here.” Jun was instantly by his side. It's good that there were only a few guests left otherwise it would have been very embarrassing for him.

“Matsujun, welcome.” Aiba appeared from behind the counter. Maybe the man also wanted to take a break from the dinner dash.

“Aiba-san, what is this idiot doing here?” Jun gestured at him but Sho was too weak to even protest against the way he had called him. Aiba's worried face answered the question. “Sakurai-san has been helping me a lot this evening. Why?”

“This man has been sneezing all day so I told him to go home. I didn't that know he'd be here.” Sho was holding on to the table next to him, feeling dizzy from the flu. He thought he would collapse but two pairs of hands were immediately there, holding him.

“So you do have the flu Sakurai-san, you said it was just Matsujun exaggerating. Mou, you're burning up.” Sho closed his eyes as he felt Aiba's cool hand sweeping his forehead. “You better rest. I'm so sorry Matsujun, I really didn't know.”

“No, it's his own mistake Aiba-san, but I can understand. Do you have a place for him to rest a little?” Sho now really felt bad for making them worry. Aiba put an arm around his shoulder before answering. “I'll take him upstairs, but…”

“I'll help you take care of the shop. Please make sure this stupid man rests a little, I'll take him home when he's better.” Jun untied Sho's apron and put it on himself, halfway cursing this stupid and love-struck fool.

“I'll be quick, Matsujun, please tell Oh-chan, ne.” Aiba walked him to the hidden stairs that lead to the second floor, clearly ignoring Jun questioning look after hearing the name.

“I'm sorry for intruding,” Sho said weakly when Aiba opened a door on the second floor. His living space was as tidy as his restaurant. From the room door one directly faced a low table. Miyu toys were inside a cute box with a castle drawn on it. A small kitchen was on their right with a hanging cabinet filled with paired, cute eating utensils, and futons at the far end.

“No... no… I should be the one apologizing. I shouldn't have accepted your help when you're sick.” Aiba shook his head so Sho was able to smell the faint sweet fragrance from his shampoo. Sho was hoping he was well enough so he could get his way with the other, as they were alone. Or so he thought.

“Papa…” A small whisper was heard before he saw the futton’s cover being raised and Miyu looking at them, disoriented.

“Hi baby, sorry to wake you up, but Sakurai-san is not feeling well, so he will rest here for a while. Will you promise not to bother him, sweetie?” Aiba hurriedly went towards the futons, and spread the only one folded beside the one Miyu was sleeping on. He grabed a sweatshirt and a pair of pants before running back to Sho, shooing him through a door into what turned out to be the bathroom. “Your shirt is all wet, please change into these, or you can take a shower if you want, take the towel on your left.”

So Sho confusedly looked around in that small bathroom. Nothing different than the usual Japanese bathroom: a toilet, shower and small ofuro, but like the rest of the apartment, this one too was neatly arranged. Even the pink rubber ducks that Sho believed belonged to Miyu were lined up neatly near the shower gel bottle. Sho’s smile turned into a cough that made him realize his original plan. He decided to just wipe himself using the small towel he found there, to weak to take actual shower and changed his clothes quickly. When he got out of the room, Aiba and Miyu stood in the kitchen, which happened to be located across the bathroom door. The man turned around as Sho walked out.

“Here, let me take your clothes, I’ll wash them, and take this.” Sho wasn’t prepared when Aiba took his clothes out of his hand and handed him a steaming mug instead. He couldn't say a word watching Aiba put all his clothes in the washing machine and Miyu pull him toward the futons.

“It’s ginger tea, papa always make it for me when I have cold.” Sho stared at the little girl, letting himself be dragged to the futon while Miyu busily arranged the cover. “Papa said I can be your nurse. So drink the tea and sleep."

Sho couldn't help smiling when hearing the bossy tone but he followed the order. His throat hurt so bad that he wasn’t able to say anything. He sipped the warm tea, feeling its fragrance freeing the knot inside his nose and soothing his throat.

“Miyu, let’s put you back into bed, okay? And remember, you must make sure Sakurai-san gets his sleep, okay?” Aiba had returned to them, pushing his daughter gently onto her futon, earning himself an excited nod before the girl lay down on her back.

“I need to go back downstairs, but I can send Matsumoto-san if you want.” Aiba shifted his attention to him. Sho was hoping the man would stay with him, but of course that was just his wishful thinking.

“N... no… it’s okay. I have nurse Miyu.” Sho couldn't recognize his own hoarse voice. But he knew, he didn’t want to share this place with anyone, not even Jun. It felt like this small place was so special for him, his secret sanctuary.

“Then I will leave you, so you can rest. See you later, baby.” Sho choked on his drink before he realized Aiba was talking to his daughter. He kissed her on the forehead before he stood up. Sho couldn't help but ask. “And me?”

He smirked seeing a blush adorning the man’s face and he left, leaving him with Miyu. He fixed Miyu’s blanket and settled inside his own after finishing his tea. He looked at the little girl beside him who was also staring at him. “Oyasumi, uncle Sho.”

“Oyasumi Miyu.” Sho replied softly, seeing Miyu’s eyes flutter shut slowly before his own did the same. He wondered how he could be so calm but he really wished he could experience such things forever.

***

The next day, Sho was woken up by a sizzling sound, the nice smell of coffee and a slight headache. He blinked, adjusting his eyes to his surrounding, feeling a light burden on his upper arm, which made him look at it. He found Miyu’s head on his arm, sleeping like an angel. He carefully stroked the girl’s hair, touching the soft strands with his hand. His eyes wandered until he found Aiba’s back, standing by the sizzling stove. So that was what smelled so nice. Sho looked at his watch, surprised to see it was not even 6 a.m. yet, but the man had started his breakfast. He wondered how many hours the man actually sleeps. Carefully, he lifted Miyu’s head from his arm, replacing it with the pillow.

“Good morning.” Sho finally whispered softly after taking a couple of minutes admiring Aiba’s lean but sexy frame in that awful faded green sweatshirt. Sho had to admit, he had slept with many men before, but since he had met Aiba, he couldn't even touch others. Aiba’s face always preyed on his mind. He chuckled when the man jumped a little, hearing his voice behind him.
“G... good morning, Sakurai-san, you startled me.”

“When will you call me Sho? I thought I’ve told you to just call me Sho.” He leaned onto the sink, watching Aiba flip the tamagoyaki expertly. Miso soup, natto and rice were already on the table. So he would get a Japanese style breakfast and he couldn't wait for it.

“But… Sakurai-san is our customer…” Sho’s knitted his eyebrows upon hearing that. As Aiba placed the tamagoyaki on a plate, he moved to stand directly behind the man, making the other fidget nervously. He hadn’t thought about it before, but it seemed like Aiba was too shy to look back at him, so he trapped the man. “I thought we were friends and all my friends call me Sho.”

“I… I don’t think that's a good idea.” Aiba stuck on his words, so Sho let him dodge him, placing the plate onto the small table. “What is not a good idea?”

“We.We being friends.” Sho could hear the unconfident tone in Aiba’s words and he wouldn't let him get away so fast. He followed Aiba back to the kitchen area, where the other took some cups. “And why is that?”

“I… you… well, we’re so different.” Aiba kept on avoiding looking at him and that almost made Sho growl in frustration. The man continued. “You wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who already has a daughter, that some excess baggage you won’t want. Right? You can live a free life, but I can’t.”

Aiba looked at him with a wide smile, but Sho knew the smile didn’t reach his eyes. It took him some time to understand what Aiba meant. The man had worried about so much about him last night. So how come he was so calm now, pretending he didn’t have any feelings when Sho was so sure the other at least cared for him. He caught the man before he walked back to the table again, this time, being sterner than before.

“Why don’t you let me decide myself who I want to be friends with or not, because I really want to be your friend, even more if you allow me.” Sho looked deeply into Aiba’s eyes, looking for refusal, but when he found none, he dared himself to be bolder, leaned in and gave Aiba a peck on the soft lips. Just a little peck, but he lingered there a couple of seconds more, feeling an electric rush inside him. That had not been his first kiss, far from it, but it had tasted better than any kiss he had ever had. The anxiety, the sweet fragrance, the soft texture of Aiba’s lips seemed to be crying for him to be owned. He was about to deepen the kiss but a whining voice, coming from Miyu, prevented that and the next thing Sho knew was that he was shoved away until his elbow hit the sink counter.

“Hi Baby, good morning.” Aiba kneeled beside Miyu’s futon, kissing her awake and it seemed to work as she squirmed with a giggle. "Morning, Papa.”

Miyu put her little hand around Aiba’s neck and when she saw Sho smiling back at her, her radiant and beautiful smile quickly changed into a shy one. She stood up before running toward Sho, hugging his leg and chirping.

“Uncle Sho, you’re still here. Good morning.” Sho bowed and picked her up. It seemed like the little girl had already gotten used to him even though they had just met yesterday. Sho took the chance to kiss Miyu’s round cheek. “Good morning, milady.”

“Miyu, why don’t you wash your face and brush your teeth with uncle Sho so we can have breakfast.” Aiba had quickly started busying himself with folding the futons, clearly avoiding Sho’s gaze.

“Come on, princess, let’s do what papa says.” Sho nuzzled Miyu’s cheek, making the girl giggle. Sho knew that the small chance he had had with Aiba was now gone. But he also knew that he was stubborn, he could not give up now, not after he had had a taste of how sweet Aiba’s lip was and how he had been deeply asleep with Miyu beside him. He wanted this morning to last for the rest of his life.

***

Sho nearly choked on his coffee as Jun barged in, literally throwing the magazine onto his desk. It was the second Monday morning after he had spent the weekend at Aiba's place. He had tried his best to stay calm and recover from Aiba's rejection that day, and so far he had managed it, he thought.

“Looks like the oil price has gone down recently.” Jun opened the magazine in front of him, furiously. “Many companies collapsed, especially forwarding companies, can you believe how lucky we are not to be in that business?”

Sho read the article Jun had shoved near him and as Jun, he felt relief that the owner of the company, Ohno, had rejected their idea. If they had insisted on it, Sho couldn't even imagine the damage it would have caused their company “It's good that he rejected our idea, isn't it?”

Sho kept on reading, missing any answer or at least reaction from the man in front of him. He looked up when he had finished his reading and Jun was still so quiet. The man was looking at him blankly, like he was in deep thought.

“Jun, anything else?” He asked quietly, but Jun jumped a little in his seat. It seemed like his business partner really had some stuff on his mind. Sho closed the magazine, putting aside all reports he should have been reading. Jun needed his attention. “Anything you want to talk about?”

“Ne Sho, have you ever thought of settling down?” Jun finally asked after some more silence between them, but the question was a surprise for him too. He stared at the man. They indeed were just business partners who rarely talked about their personal lives, but he had never thought the other would ask, or maybe think about settling down, not when he knew that his career meant everything to Jun.

“You know Aiba has a daughter, right? What will you do then? I’ve told you, he’s not like your other friends with benefits who you can leave just like that.” Jun said the words, but somehow, Sho had the feeling that the man was not talking to him, but rather to himself.

Sho followed Jun's lead and stared blankly at the wall in front of him. ‘What will you do then?’ Sho couldn't answer that question, he had busied himself for the last couple of weeks, going from one business travel to the other. However, every time he was at the office, he went to the restaurant only to find Kazama was the one who served his order. It seemed like Aiba also tried to avoid him. But what made him sad the most was the fact that he wasn't able to see Miyu again. He once thought of going upstairs quietly and meeting the little girl, but he erased the idea instantly. He wouldn't want Aiba to hate him more.

“Gentlemen, if you could spare some of your precious time, and stop your chit-chat, it would be so nice of you both to join me in the meeting room, now!” Both Sho and Jun were startled when Ninomiya poked his head into their room. They had forgotten about their weekly morning meeting, which made both stand up hurriedly, grabbing all the reports they’d need. Sho cursed internally, he didn’t know how they both could be so careless with their work when they usually lived for their job, but maybe, it was not their priority anymore.

Later that night, Sho stood in front of the ramen store, contemplating whether to go inside and be served by Kazama or find his dinner somewhere else. He was still thinking when something hit his head. Looking up, he found Miyu’s face at the window but the little girl seemed to be on the verge of crying. That made Sho panic instantly.

“Miyu?” He called her, but instead of answering, the girl cried at once. Sho didn’t think anymore, worried if they, the girl and her father, were in trouble. He burst in, ignoring all curious stares from the guests and went to the second floor through the hidden door. He opened the apartment door and found the little girl crouched down on her futon, sobbing quietly, calling him “uncle Sho”.

“Yes, baby, what is it? Does it hurt somewhere?” Sho was kneeling in front of her, gently pulling her hands away from her stomach. The sobs got louder and she kept saying: “Please don’t tell papa.”


Sho didn’t say anything, but he slowly told the girl to lay down straight and slowly lifted the girl’s right leg, which made her scream in agony. Sho was so focused on the girl that he didn’t realize that her father had come up and shoved him away with an angry yell.

“How long has she had stomachache?” Ignoring Aiba’s anger, Sho kneeled back at the girl’s side, pressing his hand gently on her stomach. Sho looked at her father and it dawned on him that Miyu might have never told him that she had stomachache. Aiba looked at him confusedly. “Miyu maybe got appendicitis. Did she lose her appetite?”

“I’m sorry papa…” Miyu’s whisper made Aiba quickly divert his attention, kissing her cheeks whispering ‘it’s okay’ over and over.

“Sh... she… she didn’t finish her breakfast… but… I thought…” Aiba sat down beside him, not moving until he saw Sho picking up his daughter. “Wait! Where are you going?!”

“She needs a doctor, come on.” Sho lifted Miyu gently, trying his best not to jolt her too much as he ran down the stairs. He knew most clinics were closed at that time of the night, but he knew someone who might be able to help. He looked back to see Aiba catching up with him. His face was so pale and tired, Sho felt really sorry for him. It had to be hard raising a daughter on his own. Sho heard little sobs from the girl he carried, so he adjusted the girl and whispered soft words to ease her pain. “It’ll be alright, princess.”

“Sho, why are we here? The clinic is closed, we must go to the central hospital.” Aiba pulled his arms when they stood in front of a glass door, a couple of blocks away from his restaurant. The lights of the clinic had been turned off, and there was a closed-sign on the door but Sho didn’t move. He fished out his phone, dialing a number he knew. “Yo, open up will you, it’s an emergency.”

“It's okay Masaki, don’t worry, Miyu will be taken care off soon, she’ll be fine, ne, Miyu-chan.”
Sho let his free hand squeeze Aiba’s hand, hoping he could ease the wariness he knew Aiba had to be feeling right now.

“This is my kouhai’s clinic, he lives on the third floor and he is a great pediatrician.” Just as Sho had finished his words, the lamp inside the clinic was turned on and a tall man rushed to open the door for him.

“Senpai, what a surprise, who is this you have there,” the tall man asked with a smile on his face, peeking through Miyu’s arms she had put around Sho’s neck, hiding her face shyly on Sho’s shoulder. Sho stepped into the clinic, still carrying Miyu while he sat down on the edge of the examination table.

“This is Aiba Miyu, sensei, she’s a brave girl who wants to ask you about her stomachache, could you please help her?” Sho stroked her back soothingly, quietly asking her to look at the doctor. “This is Ikuta-sensei, Miyu-chan, he’ll help you get better.”

Miyu slowly raised her head to look at Sho with her big round eyes before she turned to see the doctor who was smiling at her widely. “Hello, pretty princess, can I take a better look at you?”

Sho slowly pried Miyu’s hands away from his neck, soothingly stroking her back so she could lay on her back, letting Ikuta check on her while he himself moved away to stand beside the father. Aiba’s eyes were bright red, it seemed like he had cried during the short trip to the clinic. Sho stroked his back, attractig his attention. “It’s okay, everything's gonna be okay.”

“I… I don’t know, I should have noticed it, why didn't I pay more attention to her?” Aiba cried quietly, biting his own hand as his tears flew down. He looked so pitiful that Sho didn't have the heart to say anything. It was not his fault. He just pulled the man into an embrace, letting him cry freely without saying anything. “I’m a horrible dad, I should have known, I should have paid more attention to her. This is all my fault.”

“Hey, no, listen to me. You’re a great dad, you have the most wonderful and understanding daughter. It was not your fault, nothing is.” Sho whispered directly into his ear, hoping the man would understand his words. He could understand Aiba's helplessness, but he could also feel Miyu’s understanding for her father who had been so busy to take care of her. They both needed someone who could take care of them, and it took him by surprise that he wanted to take on the role. He wanted to be the one taking care of them. He wanted to settle down. The realization surprised him, but he was so sure, that it was exactly what he wanted. So he asked: “Aiba Masaki, I am serious with what I said. So would you please let me be Miyu’s father and someone you can always rely on?”

***

“You’re leaving already?” Jun asked as he passed the man’s door and Sho just nodded, making the younger man come after him. “Wow, Sakurai Sho's now a family man.”

Sho just smiled hearing the teaser. He stopped by the reception, retrieving the data he needed to read that night. He really didn't mind Jun's tease, maybe it was right anyway. He couldn't wait to finally go home where Aiba and Miyu would be waiting for him. Miyu was finally released from the clinic two days after her appendicitis operation. Sho had basically threatened Aiba to stay at his house, which was closer to both the clinic and Aiba’s ramen shop. He also argued that the room above the ramen shop would be loud from the customer’s voices, which would disturb Miyu’s rest. Moreover, if they also lived in Sho’s house, Miyu wouldn't be left all alone at night, as Sho would be home when Aiba started his shift at the restaurant. Since Aiba finally nodded to his proposal, Sho never once stayed late at the office. He opted to leave early and take with him any work that needed to be done and that he worked through after Miyu had gone to sleep. That had been going on for almost three weeks now and Sho enjoyed every second of it. Even though Aiba still refused any physical relationship with him and chose to sleep in Miyu’s room, Sho had never felt so lucky. He had never once thought of searching for release anywhere else. He knew now that he only wanted Aiba and he would wait as long as Aiba needed.

“Earth to Sakurai… hey new Sho, wipe that creep away would you? You’d scare your new daughter looking like that.” Sho laughed heartedly hearing Jun say ‘new daughter’. He just wished he could assure her father that he indeed wanted to be one of Miyu’s fathers too. He was about to answer but Jun seemed to be distracted by the big painting behind the receptionist's table.

“Here.” Both Sho and Jun jumped instantly when Ninomiya handed a pack of blue medicine to Sho. They looked questioningly at the man.

“Toma told me to give this to you, it’s for Miyu-chan,” the short man explained with a crimson face. Sho was still confused and didn’t understand what the man had said. “Toma?”

“Ikuta Toma-sensei, your kouhai, Miyu’s doctor.” Ninomiya shoved the blue pack on top of the documents that Sho was carrying. Sho was about to ask about the relationship between his kouhai and the shorter one, but Ninomiya whispered quietly, still with a deep crimson face. “He’s my boyfriend.”

Sho couldn't hide his shock hearing those words. Ikuta had always bragged about his ‘cute’ and ‘sweet’ boyfriend, which he thought was not the case with Ninomiya’s appearance and attitude at the office. He couldn't say a word though because his phone rang and he knew exactly who it was, without checking. He excused himself immediately, continuing his plan of going home. He left Jun and Ninomiya discussing the big painting with the numbers 3104 as the painter's signature.

He picked up his phone once he was out of the office building, smiling widely hearing the sweet tone of his little girl. “Dad, papa asks what you want for dinner?”

His smile got wider, as he hurriedly walked - almost ran - to the promised delicious dinner, warm house, and smiles from his beloved ones, his lover and daughter.

~owari~

Date: 2017-09-07 01:28 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] an_anna
you know what? This is amazing!!!
i really love everyseconds in this fanfic...
the flow and everything just perfect!!!

oh miyu, dont worry sweety, youll get the world's best daddy and papa!

thanks for writing!!! love love love

Date: 2017-09-09 08:39 pm (UTC)
lilly0: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilly0
Such a sweet story <3 I love how Sho and Aiba gradually get closer and Sho stops his playboy attitude and kinda 'settles down'
Thanks so much for this, anon-san!

Date: 2017-09-11 11:58 am (UTC)
ladyc2: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ladyc2
This was sweet. I like how Sho got immediately enraptured with Aiba and how Aiba having a kid didn't put him off but made him grow and move past his playboy ways.

Thanks anon-san

Date: 2017-09-12 10:55 pm (UTC)
falkner: photoshoot picture of Sakurai Sho from Arashi (Default)
From: [personal profile] falkner
Sho's relationship with Aiba's daughter is so cute, I really liked how they immediately got along. Very nice story :)

Date: 2017-09-16 04:39 am (UTC)
phrenk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phrenk
Aww, what a sweet story! It made me happy how easily Miyu took to Sho, and how hard he fell for her, and of course I liked how captivated he was by Aiba from the first. I'm glad to think of this new family finding their way forward! Thank you for sharing. ♥

Date: 2017-09-17 04:35 am (UTC)
piggywhale: (Default)
From: [personal profile] piggywhale
This is very sweet and very heartwarming ❤️ I am always into Sakuraiba+kid and you give us exactly that here. My heart almost couldn't cope with how adorable, sweet and loving Aiba and Sho are in this story. Especially, Sho. What a sweet guy. I am sure he will be the dependable and strong daddy for both Yumi and Aiba (subtly hinting Sugar Daddy Sho here, lol).

By the way, I love the way you describe how Aiba looks in Sho's eyes, like super hot and super sexy without Aiba himself knowing it. I was like "yes! Of course, he's SUPER hot." LoL Really enjoy that here.

And I love the ending, that Sho proves to be really into this for real relationships, not just wanting to sleep with Aiba. When Sho woke up with Miyu, my heart was like.. awww. And when you describe that Sho let Aiba stay in his house with his daughter without trying to push Aiba into physical intimacy, I was even more.. awwww. It's so sweet ❤️

Thank you so much for this stort, anon-san. 🎉
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