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22 August 2008 @ 05:48 pm
[Arashi] [Ohmiya] Years  
[Title] Years
[Author] honooko
[Rating] PG13
[Notes] HAPPY BIRTHDAY hontowa, waxrose, and karmade! Also, huge freaking thanks to crazychickencow for the beta. This was supposed to be a short little one-shot, but, uh. I got carried away?

sixteen.
Nino wasn't sure how this happened. He joined Johnny's because his cousin submitted his application and he got an audition; his mother had held his hand and told him firmly that opportunities shouldn't be wasted, not when you lived like they did. Not when you needed what they did. She handed him the bribe money, and he felt a bit bad at the time for taking it. But he had big baseball dreams. Pro players made big money, money enough to take care of his family for the rest of their lives.

And then at the audition, someone mentioned the Jrs salary, and Nino understood with a heavy, sinking feeling why he was there. So he joined, and he stayed, and for three years he never asked his mother what happened to the money he was earning. He didn't want her to have to tell him that the house was old and the factory was old and there just wasn't enough with his father gone. There hadn't been enough when he father was there. Nino didn't need to ask to know that his paychecks were making ends meet, and if he could make things that much easier on his mother, he would.

But he hadn't really thought he'd be debuting.

He hadn't really wanted to debut. Johnny's wasn't what he wanted.

At least he'd be with his friends; Aiba-chan was thrilled, and also scared. Nino knew from several late-night hushed conversations that sometimes Aiba wasn't sure that he was any good at anything. Johnny's was all he knew how to do with moderate skill. Johnny's was all he could picture for a future.

Jun wanted it so he could become someone he could be proud of. Too many people in his life had led ordinary lives; Jun just wanted to die someone who was remembered. He wanted to change the world by changing himself. Not in so many words, of course, but Nino had caught enough pieces of Jun's motivations to understand.

Sho wasn't sure about this either. He had a significant academic career ahead of him; Keio was no cake walk, and Sho's father wouldn't be satisfied with anything less. Nino thought Sho had enough to shoulder without worrying about being an idol.

Ohno… Nino didn't really know Ohno. They'd met before during 'Kyo to Kyo', and Nino liked him well enough, but they weren't very close in age, and Ohno spent his time with MA, his unit. They'd joked and laughed with each other, but Nino didn't really know enough about Ohno to call him a friend.

"This sucks," Nino muttered under his breath, curled in a corner of the yacht with a blanket over his head. They hadn't even asked if he got seasick.

"I want to go home," said Ohno's voice from somewhere to his left. Nino poked his head out of the blanket.

"Homesick?" he asked. Ohno nodded.

"So we're both a kind of sick," Nino said, lifting the corner of his blanket. "Let's keep each other company."

Nino was surprised when Ohno accepted the offer; he was further surprised at how very aware he was of Ohno's presence. His skin was warm where they touched, side by side, and Nino could smell a hint of sweat on Ohno's clothes. Ohno shifted, and Nino sucked in a breath when Ohno's fingertips brushed against his leg.

He wondered why it even mattered.

"I'm probably going to fall asleep on you," Nino said, proud of how dismissive he sounded, rather than shy.

"Okay," Ohno agreed, laughing softly. "Just don't puke on me."

"I make no promises," Nino said as he rested his head on Ohno's shoulder. He felt brave for doing it, without knowing why.


seventeen.
Nino tossed his legs over Sho's lap. A year was a long way to come; it hadn't felt that long, but he'd take what he could get. These guys were his friends, without question, and he didn't spend much time thinking about how to get out of it anymore. Sometimes he still wished he'd had a little more choice in all this, but it was easier now. They'd all decided to be Arashi; all they had left to figure out was what they wanted Arashi to be.

Nino almost felt a little like he knew what he wanted to be, as well.

He was starting to recognize things about himself in a new way. He'd always known, on some level, that he attached himself to people easily. He also knew he didn't really pay much attention to normal levels of behavior; other boys did not usually feel the urge to drop kisses on the cheeks of other boys, and if they did, rarely did they act on it. But Nino never really understood why he shouldn't. This led to the realization that while other boys liked girls or boys, Nino liked people. Gender didn't seem to play into the matter. A week after this epiphany, he'd decided to tell his mother.

"Mom," he said quietly, helping her put away the clean dishes. "I think I have no taste."

"Look, the takoyaki were not that hot, you big baby," his mother snorted. "Anyway, I'm sure your tastebuds will regrow eventually."

"I didn't mean like eating," Nino said. "I meant in people."

"...You taste people? Kazu, cannibalism is not really a good career move," his mother pointed out reasonably.

"Mom," Nino said with growing frustration. "I think I like girls. And guys. Both."

"Good for you," his mother commented mildly. "You've considerably widened your chances of finding someone who can put up with you."

"Wait, so," Nino said, attempting to understand, "you mean you don't care? It's weird, isn’t it?"

"After seventeen years," his mother said with a grin, "I have come to terms with the fact that you are apparently an alien changeling baby of some kind. I am at peace with this."

Sometimes, Nino really loved his mother. Other times, he worried that her crazy was contagious.

Nino found himself appreciating things about the people around him more. He was completely distracted from whatever game he happened to be playing when a particular friend of his sister's came over; the girl had a serious, long face, and Nino would lose track of what she was saying because he was too busy staring at her hands as they continually brushed her hair off her face. She wasn't really pretty in any way Nino could describe, but something about her was interesting, a quality that he valued much more.

At the same time, he was noticing that Aiba had gone from a skinny young teenager to a considerably broader older teenager, and his voice (already a bit rough) had dropped a few octaves. He was growing into his face, and even though the entire affect was shattered when Aiba giggled at something, Nino found he rather liked that dissonance. He liked that he could still find the Aiba he'd been so close to as a child in the Aiba that was nearing the title of 'man'.

Aiba was also the first person Nino confided in about his attraction to both sexes. He had a suspicion that Aiba would relate, if not outright agree, which was confirmed when Aiba didn't understand what about the idea was so strange.

"Girls are fun," Aiba said. "But guys are fun too."

"You just like sex," Nino pointed out.

"Can you blame me?" Aiba laughed.

'I can't blame anyone for taking the chance to jump you,' Nino thought, but didn't voice this opinion.

He’d also noticed a strange desire to constantly touch Ohno, of all people. Nino had always felt remarkably comfortable with Ohno; something about the older boy was relaxing. Ohno never demanded anything of him, and if Nino was in a bad mood, Ohno didn’t mind letting Nino put his head in Ohno’s lap while he smashed buttons on his gameboy. Sometimes (if he wasn’t drawing) Ohno would even run his fingers through Nino’s hair. Nino’s scalp would start to tingle, and pleasant cool jets darted down his neck. Sometimes he even fell asleep. When he woke up, Nino would stretch and rub at his eyes, then give Ohno a sheepish and slightly shy smile.

"Sorry," Nino apologized. "Oh-chan’s comfy."

Ohno smiled back, his fingers combing through Nino’s hair where it stuck up strangely. "It’s okay," he reassured Nino. "I don’t mind. You’re warm."

Nino couldn’t resist curling up against Ohno’s side, resting his head on Ohno’s shoulder, and catching one of Ohno’s hands with both of his own. He smiled as Ohno’s fingers tightened, his long fingers making a nice image against Nino’s short ones.

"Oh-chan," Nino said, and Ohno made a questioning sound. Nino turned his head to finish the statement, but stopped; Ohno’s face was mere inches from his own, and his expression was soft (and, Nino thought absently, a bit fond.)

"...You smell nice," Nino said quietly. He blushed; somehow, the words hadn’t sounded quite so silly inside his head. Ohno chuckled, bouncing their intertwined hands.

"Thanks," he said with a grin.


eighteen.
Nino had had the opportunity to see Ohno significantly drunk on a few occasions, and each time, three things became immediately apparent to him:

1. Nothing bothered Ohno when he was drunk.
2. Everything was hilarious to Ohno when he was drunk.
3. He mumbled worse than ever.

On the rare instances when they drank as a group, Nino refrained; he didn’t like the way his thoughts tripped over each other, or the way everything affected him far more severely. Things were funnier, but they could also be a thousand more times hurtful when they filtered through his alcohol-influenced brain. He also needed his wits about him for taking care of Aiba; one instance of Aiba taking off every piece of clothing was more than enough.

Plus, Aiba had also tried to feel Nino up on more than one memorable occasion, and Nino had adopted a policy of constant vigilance.

Sho, at least, could be counted on to be a reliable, if slightly less mothering, drunk. He had been known to wax poetic, and also to slip into English rap slang when very excited. Aiba frequently joined in, and it took Nino and Jun distracting them with something else to make them stop. Jun too stayed away from the alcohol, although Nino suspected it had less to do with what sort of drunk he was, and more to do with what sort of drunk Jun was afraid he’d be.

Nino had been crawling across the floor on his hands and knees, trying to find the bottle cap Aiba had casually flung aside, when Ohno reached out with both hands and pulled Nino back by his waist. Confused, Nino had allowed it, and Ohno had wrapped his arms around Nino and drew him back against his chest. It was warm, and Nino settled into Ohno’s hold with a quiet smile.

"So cute," Ohno murmured in Nino’s ear (against his ear, Nino noted with a shiver), nuzzling into his hair. "Nino is so cute."

"Thanks?" Nino said, a bit unsure of how he should take that.

"I’m going to keep you," Ohno insisted, his hold on Nino tightening.

"Okay?" Nino said, laughing. "No one else is trying to take me away though, so I don’t think you need to worry."

"They will," Ohno said gravely. "You keep getting cuter. They’ll snatch you up and I’ll be all lonely."

"You’re being silly," Nino said, but his voice sounded weak to his own ears. He wasn’t sure what Ohno was getting at, or what he wanted Nino to say. He wasn’t even sure Ohno would remember this conversation tomorrow.

"You’re hogging Nino," Sho interrupted, laughing as Ohno pouted and buried his face in Nino’s neck. Aiba made an encouraging hooting noise, and Jun smacked him lightly on the back of his head just as Nino’s ears turned red.

"If I’m too slow," Ohno mumbled against Nino’s skin, "you’ll pick a new best friend. But I want to keep you."

Nino didn’t respond; he didn’t know how to. He couldn’t be sure of what Ohno was talking about. It almost sounded as though—but no, he thought, shaking it from his head. Ohno was probably talking about their friendship. He probably thought Nino would grow up and grow away from him. He was worried (albeit drunkenly) about them having nothing in common anymore.

He wasn’t talking about anything more. Nino wasn’t even going to consider it. He wasn’t going to spend any time thinking about Ohno as someone closer than a friend, who cared about him and understood him. It was pointless to look at how close and comfortable their friendship was and to try to apply that, even in his own mind, to something else.

Nino didn’t want a relationship anyway.

"Oh-chan will always be my best friend," Nino said finally, and something in his tone made Jun look up sharply, "until you’re even more of an old man than you are now, with no teeth and lots of weird fishing stories."

Jun kept looking at Nino for a long time after, and Nino avoided his eyes; even so, it was clear.

Jun knew.


nineteen.
As long as he lived, Nino would never forget this moment.

Aiba had been brushing them off for days, insisting he was fine, it was just a persistent cold, he was just a bit tired, he was fine. But people who were fine did not collapse on the floor of the rehearsal hall, unable to breathe and clawing at their own chests, before quickly dropping into oxygen-deprived unconsciousness. People who were fine did not fail to respond to their name or to Nino’s hand squeezing their’s as they waited for paramedics. People who were fine didn’t get driven to the hospital in ambulances in grim silence.

Nino turned down riding in the ambulance with him, and Sho went instead. In Nino’s head, going with Aiba meant Aiba might not make it there. If Nino didn’t go, Aiba couldn’t leave because they hadn’t said goodbye.

Jun looked more frightened than Nino had ever seen him. Ohno was pale and silent. The ride to the hospital felt like the longest drive of Nino’s life, and he refused to allow himself to compare it to a funeral. Staring at his lap, Nino saw Jun’s hands shaking, and he thought nothing of catching Jun’s hands in his own and squeezing. He had a feeling they all needed the physical comfort.

Once at the hospital, Sho explained what the doctors had told him; Nino couldn't handle hearing exactly what had happened and how it was going to be fixed, and he had to make a quick exit to the bathroom. He splashed his face with cold water and let the sound of the rushing faucet drown out his worried thoughts. Once he returned, Aiba was sent into surgery, and they all settled down in the waiting room to make sure they were close.

Nino was painfully aware of how close to disaster the entire situation was. Rationally, he knew that merely by being alive, they were always near to death. But having it lurking around someone who was so very dear to him was so powerfully frightening that he didn't know what to do with himself. Pacing only wound him up, and he couldn't focus on anything long enough to read or pull out his gameboy (which he realized he'd left back at the rehearsal hall anyway.) All he could think about was how Aiba could very easily not "pull through". Just the thought was enough to make Nino feel sick to his stomach, as though living was like getting a grade on a paper; as if too few points would cause him to fail.

Sho and Jun were murmuring low to each other, their heads bent and expressions grim. Aiba's family had been allowed to wait in the room they'd put him in post-surgery, and every so often Aiba's mother would come down and pass along information. Nino couldn't listen to any of it; he didn't want to know anything except that Aiba would be okay.

The fourth time Aiba's mother came down, Nino got up and stepped outside for some fresh air. He found a bench blocked off from view, and sat down, his fingers twisting in his jeans as he wished for a cigarette. But cigarettes were something he'd started smoking with Aiba, when they were younger and more desperate; as much as the nicotine might calm him, Nino didn't want to smoke alone.

Nino didn't notice Ohno's presence until Ohno held a cigarette out in front of him, his face for once looking a lot like the tired old man they teased him for being. Nino didn't meet his eyes, but he did accept the offered cigarette, and the lighter Ohno held up for him after. Ohno sat next to him, their shoulders brushing, and Nino automatically passed the lit cigarette over to him for a draw.

They didn't speak for a long while, and Nino realized he'd never actually mentioned that he smoked. Considering he still had a bit before he was legal to purchase them, he and Aiba had been careful to hide the habit.

"Do you think it hurt him more?" Nino asked softly, tapping the ash off. "We started years ago."

"Probably didn't help," Ohno agreed. "But it's not like it was the only reason, right?"

"It was a dare, at first," Nino said softly. "Each of us had to finish one. But once we stopped choking, it wasn't so bad. It gave us something quiet to do when we were stressed. Something we could do every day if we had to, that we wouldn't get in too much trouble for if someone saw. And then we both sort of needed it, when we were really tired and there was just—so much going on."

"There are worse things you could have done," Ohno commented, smiling wryly as he took his turn with the cigarette.

"There are," Nino agreed. "But I keep thinking how it was my idea. I got us started. And he kept doing it with me because I didn't want—"

Ohno waited for Nino to continue, but he didn't. The cigarette was nearly gone, and he ground the butt on the side of the bench. "Sometimes," Ohno said quietly, "it really isn't anyone's fault. Things just happen."

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Nino said, resting his elbows on his knees and covering his face. Ohno put a hand on Nino's back, rubbing it in soothing circles.

"I don't think anything can make us feel better right now," Ohno said, and Nino felt his heart clench. He sat up straighter and rested his head on Ohno's shoulder. Ohno pulled him into a full hug and seemed to understand that Nino just needed some time to put himself back together.

"He'll be okay," Nino murmured against Ohno's shoulder. Ohno dropped a kiss on his head.

"He'll be really mad when we tell him he can't practice his sax in the hospital," Ohno reassured Nino, and Nino tried not to think about how much better Ohno could make him feel just by understanding.


twenty.
Nino didn’t tell anyone when he broke up with Noriko. He hadn’t told anyone when they started dating, either. Part of him had wanted to keep it to himself; Noriko was one of the better things to ever happen to him, and he selfishly wanted to keep her his own little secret. He loved her music and her smile and how she looked when she’d just woken up. She made Nino feel safe and comfortable and like a person who was needed.

The secret had gotten out, of course. Noriko dropped her phone on a shopping trip, and the pictures on it were sold by who ever found it. Bubka ran them as a feature, and Nino walked into work feeling extremely conflicted. On the one hand, he was utterly ashamed to see his private life being slandered so horrifically. On the other, he loved her; he never wanted to feel ashamed of that.

"This isn’t just a casual thing, is it?" Jun had asked him quietly, full of the strange gravity that only Jun could muster in such situations. Nino didn’t answer at first; he was trying to find the words.

"No," he managed finally, and the expression on his face told Jun everything he needed to know. "It’s not."

"Good," Jun said softly. "Then at least it’s worth it."

They lasted barely two months more. The strain on their relationship (now believed by the public to already be over) was tense. Nino didn’t mind being trapped at home, but Noriko needed to get out and needed the freedom to be in love. For three days, they talked about solutions, but it didn’t help.

By the time the second article hit the presses, they were already over.

When questioned, Nino informed the managers shortly that there was nothing more to be done.

"Are you okay?" Jun asked him quietly, and Nino could only nod his head. He wasn’t okay; of course he wasn’t. He’d loved her, and it wasn’t enough. He could barely stand to look at himself in the mirror.

"Was there anything more you could have given her that would have changed anything?" Jun asked. "Was there something you could have done?"

"No," Nino said, resigned. "We talked about it a lot. In the end, it just... wasn’t working."

"Then you don’t have anything to regret," Jun said.

The others respected Nino’s rather clear desire not to talk about it after that. Nino threw himself into work, deciding that if he failed at relationships, he could at least not fail at his job. But he seemed to be doing worse the harder he tried; he couldn’t hit notes, couldn’t remember lyrics, and after a particularly spectacular fall during dance rehearsal, Nino was beginning to wonder if he was actually good at anything.

He’d gone through two and a half packs of cigarettes in two days.

On one such chain-smoking break, he was joined by Ohno. They’d smoked together off and on since Aiba’s hospitalization, and Nino found his company quiet and soothing.

"Can I make a suggestion?" Ohno said quietly, leaning against the wall.

"Yeah," Nino shrugged. "I can’t promise I’ll listen, though."

"Stop loving her," Ohno said. "Stop thinking of yourself as loving her. Think that you loved her."

"I don’t see the difference," Nino commented.

"The difference is that it’s over," Ohno explained. "You can still have felt strongly about her. Nobody’s trying to change that. But it’s the past, right? So make it the past."

"I can’t," Nino said, and he hadn’t expected his voice to break like that. "I can’t do that. I can’t stop—I’ve never fallen out of love. It just doesn’t happen."

"Then what else are you supposed to do?"

"So much of me was put towards loving her," Nino said, and something in his tone made Ohno step forward and put a hand on his shoulder. "I can’t just stop, I can’t just let go of all that. I need something, or I’ll snap."

Ohno wrapped his arms around Nino’s waist and pulled him close. Nino pressed his face into Ohno’s neck, letting out a slow, shaky breath. Ohno’s cologne smelled sharp with a hint of the sweat they’d built up dancing. Nino suddenly noticed every point in his body that was rigid with tension; his shoulders felt like they’d been around his ears for weeks, and his back was a solid plane of knots. Ohno’s hand moved up and down Nino’s spine, stroking out the tension.

"If you need to love someone," Ohno said softly, "then love us."

Nino made a questioning sound in his throat, and Ohno clarified.

"If you can’t go without loving someone, then love us. Pick one of us, all of us. It doesn’t matter. You can love us as much as you want, because we love you too. We understand. We’re not going to do anything that would hurt you more."

Nino considered it. He thought about how much of his heart was already in Arashi and how much more was divided up between the members. He thought of Aiba’s smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes; Jun’s true laugh, high and squeaky; Sho’s blush when someone pointed out he’d said something dumb; Ohno’s constant serenity and unwavering understanding.

It was easy to love them; he already did. He didn’t have words for how much they mattered to him. ‘Love’ didn’t even come close to how much Nino relied on them, trusted them, and enjoyed just knowing them as well as he did.

"I’ll try," Nino breathed against Ohno’s skin, and he couldn’t figure out why Ohno’s grip tightened or why his heartbeat was so quick.


twenty-one.
Nino wasn’t sure why he hadn’t seen it coming. Maybe he had or maybe he was just too damn tired to notice the way Ohno had been looking at him. Nino knew without a shadow of a doubt how he himself looked at Ohno; he’d been caught with his eyes lingering more than once and his touch lingering twice as often. He couldn’t help it. Rehearsals and filming and concerts all forced his attention onto Ohno. Nino acknowledged his physical attraction to Ohno quite easily; Sho agreed with him. Something about Ohno’s small but solid frame was a treat to view, and the effect only increased when he was moving. Nino could happily watch Ohno dance for hours. His lithe form had a power to it that made it almost impossible to look away.

"You can see how natural it is for him," Sho once commented, and Nino quietly agreed. Ohno never looked quite as aware of the rest of the world as when he was dancing.

But it was more than just that; Nino liked watching Ohno draw, too. Ohno’s brows would knit and his elegant hands curled around his pencil just so. Sometimes his tongue slipped out to wet his lip, and Nino would swallow hard and have to look away. Ohno didn’t seem to mind if Nino pressed against his side, his head pillowed on both arms, and stared at him through half-lidded eyes.

"Nino," Ohno said one day, as Nino’s eyes burned a hole in his face.

"Hmm?"

Ohno looked up, his eyes flashing uncertainly and he opened his mouth as if to speak. But he abruptly shut it again and curled in on himself, shaking his head.

"Nothing," he said. "Never mind."

Nino hadn’t really expected to get quite as sick that year as he did. At first it was just a fever, a small cold. Nothing he hadn’t worked through a hundred times before. But two weeks later Sho found him curled on a backstage couch shivering and cradling his right arm.

"Hey," Sho said softly, sitting on the couch and lifting Nino’s head into his lap. "You don’t look so good."

"I’m the ugly one, everyone knows that," Nino joked, but the humor was somewhat lost when his teeth wouldn’t stop chattering. Sho frowned, pulling off his jacket and laying it over Nino’s shoulders. His head brushed Nino’s bangs away from his forehead, and Nino knew the minute Sho discovered his temperature by the way he sucked in a breath.

"Nino," Sho said quietly. "You’re burning up."

"I noticed," Nino said, curling into Sho’s warmth. "I’m freezing."

Sho reached down to rub Nino’s arm to heat him back up, and Nino let out a sharp cry of pain. Instantly, Sho’s hand moved to Nino’s back, steadying him as he sucked in air.

"Oh," Nino gasped. "That hurt. That really, really hurt."

"What did you do?" Sho asked, clearly thinking it was a pulled muscle.

"Nothing," Nino insisted. "My whole arm is messed up, I don’t know what the hell is wrong with it."

"Your whole arm?" Sho asked, gently lifting Nino’s hand. "Bend your fingers for me."

Nino attempted it; slowly, his fingers bent. His thumb remained totally stationary.

"How long have you been sick?"

"About two weeks, I guess," Nino admitted. "But it was just a stupid fever, it really wasn’t anything."

"I’m calling the manager," Sho said seriously. Nino groaned.

"I’m fine, it’s just a flu or something," he insisted. "I’m fine, Sho."

"No," Sho said softly, brushing Nino’s hair off his forehead again. "You’re not okay. And I’m calling a manager, and then we are going to the hospital."

No amount of protest could change Sho’s mind, and they went to the hospital a few hours later. For the next two weeks, Nino received antibiotics and painkillers, as well as more than a few extremely suspicious and worried looks from his friends. But he would tolerate that as long as they swore not to forbid him from performing in the concerts; daily injections of painkillers numbed him enough to be able to dance, and someone was always willing to sit down and let him nap with his head on their lap before the show.

It wasn’t until later that Aiba told him how Ohno and Jun had spent hours tweaking the choreography to make things easier on him. Moves that required him to lift his bad arm a lot were cut or changed to a less painful action; parts where he had to run around a lot were exchanged for ones where Aiba ran instead. In six days, they had adjusted every single dance. Jun, Aiba explained, had been thinking about it, but it was only with Ohno’s help that they’d finished in time, and Ohno had been the one to bring the issue up in the first place.

By the time 24hr TV rolled around, Nino had recovered enough to be on normal antibiotics, although after an odd reaction to the first ones, management had agreed that he had best be spending the night at the hospital for a while. So every day, once filming of his drama wrapped up, he stumbled through the hospital doors, allowed his temperature and blood pressure to be checked, before passing out for a few hours sleep. By the third day of this, Nino wanted nothing more than to sleep in his own bed, uninterrupted, for an entire week.

On the day of 24hr TV, Nino had a suspicion that his friends were taking turns keeping watch over him. He was followed every where he went, and he could set his watch by how often one of them asked, "How are you feeling?" By the time they were told to sleep, Nino was so sick of his well-being being questioned, he’d taken to answering, "I’m feeling a bit homicidal, actually, thanks for asking."

Ohno at least had the sense not to keep asking if Nino was alright; instead, he would gently rest his hand on Nino’s lower back. The touch was a subtle inquiry, but one that only needed Nino’s nod to satisfy. And if Nino quietly shook his head, then Ohno’s touch would turn into a warm, one-armed hug. Nino leaned into his hold, closing his eyes into the comfort Ohno offered.

"Hey," Nino said softly as they finished their dinner. "I’m tired."

"I noticed," Ohno laughed, squeezing Nino’s hand. "Want to sleep?"

"Yes, please," Nino said sweetly. Ohno laughed again, and they went to the room where futons had been laid out. Nino’s grip on Ohno’s hand dragged him down into the same futon, and they curled up under the cover, exhaustion taking its toll.

"Don’t get mad at me," Ohno said with a sheepish smile, leaning in to bump their noses together. "But are you okay?"

Nino sighed but couldn’t summon up the energy to be angry. "Yeah. Just tired."

"Okay," Ohno said softly. "I’m—I’m glad. I was worried."

"I know you guys were," Nino said, rolling his eyes. "You haven’t left me alone since we got here."

"I didn’t mean the others," Ohno said. "I meant me. I was worried."

"Oh," Nino said, not sure how that mattered. "Thanks?"

"I missed you," Ohno said quietly, his eyes closing. His arm around Nino’s waist tightened slightly, and Nino shivered as Ohno buried his nose in Nino’s hair and inhaled. "I missed you."

"I missed you too," Nino said quietly, feeling his heart clench. "A lot."

"Nino, I—I was wondering... do you—would you ever—" Ohno stammered.

"Spit it out," Nino said, smiling.

"Have you ever thought about us being together?" Ohno said quickly, his voice surprisingly urgent. Nino blinked.

"We’re together all the time," he said, avoiding what he knew Ohno had meant.

"...That’s not—I just thought that you might... but that’s stupid, huh," Ohno said quietly, and Nino could hear Ohno’s heart breaking. He felt sick, but he couldn’t admit to Ohno that he had thought about it. Often.

And that in the end, he always dismissed it as a fantasy.

Nino said nothing. He pretended to have fallen asleep, and after a long stretch of silence, Ohno brushed his hair off his forehead and dropped a soft kiss there.

Despite his act, Nino stayed awake for a long time afterwards. His mind replayed the conversation over and over, and each time, Nino felt worse. He knew what Ohno wanted to say. But for some reason, he hadn’t wanted to hear it. He’d rejected a confession that hadn’t come, and that felt like a much crueler thing to do. Worse, Nino knew that it wasn’t even that he didn’t like Ohno.

Ohno didn’t stay nearly as close in the following days. Nino knew he’d really hurt Ohno, and the longer it went on, the longer he hated himself for it. He’d caused someone he cared about pain, and he’d done it for purely selfish reasons.

Three days later, Nino showed up on Ohno’s doorstep. Ohno blinked, and Nino could tell he’d just woken up because his hair was sticking up at odd angles. Nino’s fingers itched to fuss with it, but he resisted. Barely.

"Do you remember what you told me last year?" Nino asked.

"Um," Ohno said, clearly confused. "…Happy twentieth birthday?"

"Out the side door. Right after... after Noriko," Nino prompted. His hands curled into fists to keep from fidgeting with them.

"...You said you needed to love someone," Ohno said quietly, remembering.

"Right," Nino confirmed.

"...I told you to love us," Ohno continued, his gaze suddenly unable to meet Nino’s eyes.

"You can hate me for this if you want," Nino said seriously, "and you can be mad, or something. I won’t blame you. But I need to tell you."

"Nino," Ohno said, and Nino winced at the sheer weariness in Ohno’s voice. "What is it?"

"I picked you," Nino said. "You told me to love someone else, and I picked you."

For a long moment, Ohno simply stared at him. Nino wrapped his arms around himself tightly, shifting his weight from foot to foot nervously. He’d done it; he’d said what he’d come to say. And yet, he still wasn’t ready to leave. Nothing had changed. As long as Ohno was staring at him like that, like he didn’t what know to do, Nino couldn’t leave.

"Well?" he said finally. "What—what do you think?"

"I don’t know," Ohno said, in the same worn-out tone. "I really don’t know."

"I—" Nino started, cutting himself off and swallowing the weakness in his voice. "I shouldn’t have said anything, should I? You—didn’t want to hear that."

"I don’t know what I wanted," Ohno said, his eyes dropping again. "I don’t know what I was expecting."

"I don’t know either," Nino snapped. "It sort of seemed like you wanted to do something about this earlier."

"Yeah, earlier," Ohno replied, a touch annoyed. "Before you told me I was an idiot."

"I never said that," Nino said softly. "I would never say that."

"No," Ohno agreed coldly. "You prefer not to say anything at all, don’t you?"

"What the hell was I supposed to say?!" Nino said, taking a desperate step forward. He forgot about the public nature of standing on Ohno’s porch and arguing with him, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Not when it was Ohno and it mattered more than he could put into words. "That I love you? That I’ve been wanting something for so long I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have it? That just the idea of caring for anyone like this again is the scariest thing I can possibly consider?"

Wilting, Nino’s hands fell limp to his sides.

"I did what you told me to, Oh-chan. I’m sorry."

Nino stood, silent and wishing he could take it back, or start over, or anything that would make Ohno say something to him. He felt his heart ache and wondered why he even bothered anymore or why he'd even tried because he'd already vowed never to hurt like that again. Except that it was Ohno. And Ohno mattered.

He didn't hear Ohno move, but Nino felt it the instant Ohno's arms went around his neck and pulled Nino forward against his chest. As Nino wrapped his arms around Ohno's waist, he realized Ohno was shaking.

"You're stupid," Ohno said against Nino's cheek, and Nino felt something in him release. He laughed, burying his nose in Ohno's neck and holding on to Ohno as tightly as he could.


twenty-two.
Nino always wondered if there was something bad about his relationship with Ohno. Not bad in the 'things are not going well' sense, but bad in the 'you are completely and utterly bizarre' sense. He loved Ohno, and Ohno loved him, so nothing could be horribly, world-tiltingly wrong, but he did wonder. He was pretty sure other couples didn't have sex more often at work than at home. Or at least have sex on company time.

Of course, he couldn't think of many couples who would turn down the opportunity to be paid while having sex without it being porn or prostitution, either.

The simple truth was that the time they spent at their homes was far, far less than the time they spent pretty much anywhere else. It was far more convenient to slip into an empty greenroom or costume closet with a lock than it was to find a day when either one of their families weren't home (especially considering Nino had not mentioned to his family who he was currently dating, and he was willing to bet Ohno hadn't either.) They found that tours were actually an excellent chance for intimacy, simply because they were already being put up in hotels; sharing didn't raise eyebrows.

Plus, it was free. Nino liked things that were free.

"Do you ever think," Nino asked absently as Ohno did sinful things to his collarbones, "that we might be freaks?"

"I like it when you're freaky," Ohno answered.

"I don't mean like that," Nino snorted, but he took a moment to preen over the compliment. "I mean like strange."

"I am okay with being strange," Ohno replied, nipping at Nino's neck. Nino did not feel the need to question him further on the subject, as Ohno's hand had just made a move towards his belt, and there were more important things to be thinking about, such as what Ohno would do when he noticed Nino had preemptively forgone underwear that day.

Nino had been relieved to learn that Ohno didn't mind his tendencies towards touching; in fact, he seemed to enjoy their frequent cuddling as much as Nino did. Nino had never entirely figured out why he loved it so much. It just felt nice to curl up against Ohno and twist their fingers together for a while. Sometimes he'd sit on the couch and pull Ohno down with him, his chest to Ohno's back, and nuzzle the nape of Ohno's neck softly as he dropped tiny kisses all across Ohno's shoulders.

After a concert, Nino caught Ohno's hand in a tight grip and smiled at him sweetly. Ohno laughed, swinging their linked hands.

"What are you so happy about?" he asked. Nino's smiled grew.

"We're going to shower," Nino explained brightly. "I'm going to wash your hair for you."

"And touch my butt," Ohno added.

"And touch your butt," Nino agreed, not even slightly ashamed.

"I want to touch Captain's butt too," Aiba said, coming up behind them and draping his arms across their shoulders.

"You can touch Sho-chan's butt," Nino said, looping an arm around Ohno's waist. "Or Jun's, if you think you'll survive it."

Aiba pouted, but his eyes sparkled in a way that suggested Jun was going to be whacking him upside the head very shortly. As he skipped away, Nino hoped Aiba at least had the sense to wait until Jun had removed his rings.

Nino continued following Ohno into the showers, and he took great pleasure in helping Ohno to undress. His fingers neatly undid buttons and pushed Ohno's sweats down his hips. Ohno was far too used to it to complain; Nino was pretty sure Ohno didn't mind it anyway. Once standing, Nino quickly pulled off his own clothing, giggling as Ohno hugged him from behind and pressed a quick kiss to Nino's cheek.

Once in the shower, Ohno adjusted the temperature until he was sure it was perfect before drawing Nino in with him. Sighing as the hot water hit his skin, Nino helpfully squirted the body wash into Ohno's outstretched palm, then his own.

"Turn around," Ohno said. "I'll do your back for you."

"Are you going to wash my butt too?"

"Oh yes," Ohno agreed. "It's a very cute butt."

"Thank you," Nino said. Two stalls over, Nino heard Jun's shampoo bottle hit the floor violently. Grinning, Nino increased his volume. "It's not nearly as nice as your butt though. Your butt is so firm and pert!"

Ohno snorted, but played along.

"Oh no," he said sincerely. "Your butt is much nicer. See, look, my hand fits on it perfectly."

"Our love is clearly destined," Nino said, nodding. At that moment, the shower curtain was ripped back, revealing a wet and cranky Jun.

"As fascinating as your asses doubtless are," Jun said tightly, "please restrain your affections before I am forced to scream."

"You're just jealous that you aren't in here with Ohno's fantastic ass yourself," Nino commented brightly.

"I think I just threw up a little in my mouth," Jun said flatly.

"Poor MatsuJun," Ohno said sweetly, reaching out to pat Jun's shoulder. "Don't worry, I think Aiba was going to help you feel better."

Jun's expression turned suddenly hunted, but it was far too late; Aiba was already tearing down the aisle between the stalls, catching Jun by the elbow and dragging him (with only minimal resistance on Jun's part) back to the shower, excitedly offering to scrub Jun's back.

"Do you ever think we might be a little too mean to him?" Nino asked after a pause.

"Nope," Ohno said, reaching for the shampoo. "Are you still going to wash my hair?"

Nino nodded, taking the bottle and squirting a generous amount into his hands. Reminding Ohno to keep his eyes closed, Nino gently massaged it into Ohno's scalp, his fingers sliding through the short strands of hair and working up a good lather. Ohno hummed softly to himself, and Nino smiled when he recognized 'Subarashiki Sekai'.

"Okay?" Nino asked softly. Ohno made an agreeing sort of noise, leaning his head back further into Nino's hands.

Watching Ohno relax under his touch, Nino was struck by how ridiculously sappy he tended to become whenever Ohno was concerned. He couldn't seem to help it; Ohno had such a strange softness to him that Nino couldn't help but soften as well. He was happy like this. And for all of Jun's complaining, Nino would never for a second believe Jun was actually upset; grossing Jun out was just as much a game as when he and Aiba rearranged the sections in Sho's newspaper before he'd read it.

It occurred to Nino that after a year, he really should inform his family. He'd avoided it less because he thought they'd be upset, and more because his mother and sister would without a doubt tease him within an inch of his life at every available opportunity. So it was with some trepidation that he brought Ohno home with him one day, leading Ohno by the hand into the kitchen.

"Mom?" Nino said, drawing her attention. "You remember Ohno, right?"

"Hmm, let me think," his mother said, considering it. "Your face is very familiar; I feel like I've seen you somewhere before. Have you ever been on TV?"

"We've been going out for a year," Nino said, ignoring his mother's sardonic tone bravely.

"I see," his mother said seriously. "He must be good in bed."

"I like to think so," Ohno commented casually, shrugging.

"Excellent," Nino's mother said, clapping her hands together brightly. "You make an honest wife out of my boy, now. I am expecting no less than two grandchildren."

"We'll get right on that, ma'am," Ohno assured her.

Informing Ohno's family of their relationship went much the same way, despite Nino's inexplicable bout of nerves. He wasn't sure why; he'd known Ohno's mother for years, and she seemed to like him very much.

"It'll be fine," Ohno assured him with a laugh, running his fingers up and down Nino's back. "She thinks you're great."

"It's different, though," Nino insisted, tightening his grip on Ohno's shirt. "I wasn't a love interest then, just a friend."

"To be honest," Ohno said with a sheepish smile. "I'm pretty sure she's been thinking of you as a love interest for me for a lot longer than I have."

"Mothers," Nino said with conviction, "are scary."

Sure enough, the reveal went well; Ohno's mother had seemed less surprised, and more annoyed. She snapped her fingers in irritation.

"Damn," she said. "I owe Kazuko-san 5000en now. Couldn't you brats have waited one more year? The pool doubles in March."

"You bet my mother when we'd get together?" Nino said, blinking in confusion.

"It's not fair," Ohno's mother sighed. "Kazuko-san won the bet about when you'd both realize you liked boys, too."

"Mom," Ohno said calmly. "You're scaring my boyfriend."

Nino's ears turned pink; he still wasn't used to Ohno calling him that. It was nice, somehow. His hand tightened around Ohno's and he ducked his head, suddenly shy.

"Satoshi," Ohno's mother said. "I think he's too cute for you, honestly. Way out of your league."

"I know," Ohno said brightly. "I'm lucky like that."

Nino laughed and wrapped his arms around Ohno's waist, rather than saying something disgustingly sappy like, 'I'm the lucky one.'


twenty-three.
Nino had been both hoping for, and dreading, the phonecall. On one hand, this was one of those opportunities that only came around once, if ever, and it was quite literally a dream come true. On the other, he would have to give up a lot for quite some time to make it work.

"The shoot starts in February," his manager said. "They'll arrange where you'll be staying and send me the information."

"You haven't said yes already, have you?" Nino asked urgently.

"Not yet," his manager replied. "But they do need an answer in the next few days."

Nino spent the night at Ohno’s house; they’d started doing it at least three nights a week after Ohno admitted he slept significantly better when he fell asleep next to Nino and was much happier waking up next to him. Ohno’s mother had not blinked an eyelash and kindly bought another set of house slippers to leave in the entryway for him. Nino’s mother had asked if Nino planned upgrade his bed.

"Isn’t your bed a bit of a squeeze?" she asked skeptically.

"Oh, absolutely," Nino replied. "He has to practically curl up around me."

"...That’s the point, isn’t it," she accused.

"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Nino said, feigning innocence.

This particular night, Nino had waited until he was leaning back against Ohno's chest as they were watching TV to bring the issue up. Their hands were twisted together and resting on Nino's raised knee; Nino squeezed to get Ohno's attention.

"Hey," he said softly, leaning his head back to look up at Ohno. "I need to talk to you about something."

"Okay," said Ohno, before adding, "Wait, are you dumping me?"

"Of course not," Nino snorted, turning his head to kiss Ohno's chin. "I'd dump you over text message."

"Very classy," Ohno assured him. "Are you pregnant? Because my mom will be thrilled."

"Yes, Satoshi," Nino said. "I'm pregnant. With twins. Only they're Jun's."

"...You and Jun would be hot."

"I'm going to tell him you said that tomorrow."

Ohno laughed, nuzzling Nino's temple. Nino hummed, closing his eyes as Ohno snuggled him closer. He almost wanted to just forget about it entirely and stay just like this for the rest of the night. Unfortunately, the matter wouldn't wait.

"Remember that audition I did a few weeks back?" he said quietly. "The one for the war movie?"

"The Clint Eastwood one?" Ohno said, his nose still pressed to Nino's hair.

"Right," Nino confirmed. "I got a call today. They want me for the part."

Ohno pulled back, surprised. "Really?" he said. "That's great!"

"Most of the shoot will be done in Los Angeles," Nino said quietly. "They're saying a minimum of six weeks."

Nino could tell the moment his words sunk in because Ohno's arms tightened around him and he inhaled deeply. Nino dropped his head, looking at their linked hands and wishing there was a way to just take Ohno with him.

"I haven't said yes yet," Nino said, squeezing Ohno's hand again. "It's a long time. If it's—too long, then I'll say no."

"And turn down a Hollywood movie?" Ohno said.

"I don't care if it's Hollywood or a converted storage unit down the street," Nino answered. "If it's too long, it's too long."

"Kazu," Ohno said, and Nino smiled at the name. "You've been talking about Hollywood since you were fifteen. It's Clint Eastwood. Jun would have kill himself to try to beat that."

"...It's really annoying when you make sense," Nino commented.

"We'll wait for you," Ohno said. "I'll wait for you."

Ohno couldn't see Nino off at the airport, but they certainly said their own goodbyes the night before; climbing out of bed the next morning was one of the hardest things Nino had ever done. He lingered long after his alarm, running his fingers through Ohno's hair and watching him sleep before quietly snapping a picture on his phone.

Once in LA, Nino discovered staying in touch was harder than he'd thought; his phone didn't accept calls and only sporadically sent or received emails. He attempted an international call, only to discover the automated instructions were in English, and he didn't understand enough to complete the call. He planned to accost the manager who came with him and insist on help, but each day he got back to his trailer and simply fell face down onto his bed. He barely had enough energy to eat and bathe, let alone figure out the surprisingly complex task of contacting Japan.

He finally managed one call on his manager's phone, but the only person he could reach was Sho.

"How is everyone?" he asked in a rush. "Did you get my emails? Is the promotion going okay? Did Oh-chan walk into traffic?"

"Ohno is fine," Sho laughed. "He's been moping a lot, but Aiba keeps taking him out drinking and Jun has been allowing him to cuddle. Oh, and Jun got an email, but nobody else."

"Sorry," Nino apologized. "I sent them to everyone, but they're not sending very well."

"We guessed, it's fine. Ohno was just happy you weren't dead," Sho reassured him. "Aiba told him Death Valley was the hottest place in America and now he's got this irrational fear that you'll be stranded out in the desert somewhere."

"I'm fine," Nino said. "I really miss him though."

"He misses you too," Sho said. "We all do, but especially him."

"I have to go," Nino said, his frustration clear in his tone. "Tell everyone I said hi? And tell Ohno—"

"That you dream of his butt night and day, I know," Sho laughed.

"And that I love him," Nino added quietly.

"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I am sure his response will be, 'I love you too.'"

"Thanks, Sho-chan."

"No problem," Sho said softly. "We'll see you in a few weeks, okay?"

"Okay."

The next few weeks were the longest of Nino's life, but he managed to survive until the day came that he was back on the plane, pulling into Narita airport. In the middle of the afternoon, he wasn't expecting to be met by anyone, but he stepped out of the gate to be greeted by every single one of his bandmates. Nino dropped his bag and started running; he met Aiba halfway across, the two of them colliding into a hug that almost knocked Nino off his feet.

"Jun was pawing your boyfriend," Aiba grinned.

"Jun better cough up all the details," Nino responded, his own smile bigger than it had been in months.

The two rejoined the rest of the group, and Sho pulled Nino into a firm hug.

"You lost weight," he commented. "Stop that."

"Sorry, mother," Nino said, dropping his head in mock shame.

"Please shave that off tonight," Jun said as he hugged Nino. "It looks ridiculous."

"I was kind of thinking I'd try growing it out," Nino said, stroking his barely-stubbled chin thoughtfully. "Try for something a bit more full and manly."

"Manly like a fifteen year old hitting puberty," Jun snorted, but his smile gave him away.

Ohno hung back, his hands jammed in his pockets. When Nino turned to him, he made a move as though to step forward, but then stopped. Biting his lip, he looked up.

"Hi," he said quietly. Nino didn't answer; he simply launched himself into Ohno's arms. He knew Ohno would catch him anyway. Sure enough, Ohno immediately pulled Nino close, burying his nose in Nino's neck.

"I'm home," Nino murmured softly in his ear. He could feel a hot wetness on Ohno's eyelashes where they blinked against his skin.

"Welcome home," Ohno answered just as softly. "I missed you. I forgot what you smell like."

"Silly," Nino said. "I smell like me."

"Good," Ohno said. "I love that smell."

"If you two are done being total saps," Sho drawled, grinning. "We are dropping your bags off at your house and then going to get roaringly drunk and eat as much ramen as humanly possible."

"You guys," Nino said sincerely, his arms still wrapped firmly around Ohno's waist, "are the best friends in the world."


twenty-four.
Nino used to laugh when people asked him if he planned on moving out of his mother's house. Why would he? He got free food, free rent, and his mother always made sure he got up on time, even if it meant covering his face with a burning hot wet washcloth until he screamed and jerked upright.

It wasn't a bad way to live.

And yet, as time went on, he started to wish he had a little distance. Ohno would come over, but Nino's house was small enough (and Nino was generally loud enough) to make intimacy unwise; sound travelled through the walls like paper. Even just cuddling on the couch warranted teasing, and on the rare occasions when his mother and sister didn't poke fun at him, they were still around, and he was uncomfortably aware of their presence.

It wasn't much better at Ohno's house; Ohno at least had the second floor to himself. But his family was still around, and neither of them felt quite comfortable going beyond making out when they could still hear his parents downstairs. It was like being an awkward teenager again.

Nino started budgeting his income differently; he had always allotted money to give to his mother to help cover the house payments, but his gaming budget was reduced, and the funds were relocated in his balance book to a section he tentatively named 'home'. He started picking up brochures for apartments and compared prices and locations in what little spare time he had. It was distracting, and he found his head filled with numbers and layouts for most of each day.

"Kazu?" Ohno asked him one day, a hand cupping Nino's elbow. "We're still on for tonight, right?"

"What?" Nino said distractedly, blinking. "Oh, right. I forgot."

"You forgot?" Ohno repeated, confused.

"Yeah," Nino said. "Actually, I'm going to have to take a raincheck." He'd found a complex nearby with an opening; the manager had warned him that they rented quickly, so he'd only have a few days at most in which is see it.

"Oh," Ohno said. "Okay. Another time, then."

"Sure," Nino said vaguely, before walking away.

The apartment turned out to be quite a find; it was a nicer complex, and a little pricey, but utilities were included and it was private and close to the office. As a bonus, a few other well-known figures lived there, so security was top class. Nino collected as much information as he could and put down the money for the background check, just in case.

When he got home, he was surprised to see Ohno on the couch, waiting for him.

"What are you doing here?" Nino asked, nervously adjusting his bag. He had pamphlets and paperwork inside, it wouldn't do to have Ohno see.

"You seemed off today," Ohno said, his brows knit. "I was worried."

"I'm fine," Nino said shortly, kicking off his shoes and heading towards his bedroom. "You're imagining things."

"Am I?" Ohno asked, and Nino was surprised by the slightly angry tone of Ohno's voice. "You've only cancelled on me a few times, and you were always either sick, or you'd been talking to your father."

"I'm not sick, and I haven't seen my father since March," Nino snapped, defensive. "I just had to get something done tonight. I don't know why you're making it such a big deal."

Ohno followed Nino into his room, shutting the door behind him. Nino turned around at the sound, dropping his bag on the bed. Ohno's expression was dark and serious, and Nino shivered; it wasn't an expression he'd ever seen directed at him before.

"You're not telling me something," Ohno said quietly, his tone flat and empty.

"Like I said, you're imagining things," Nino said dismissively. He pulled off his shirt and went to his dresser, rummaging through for a t-shirt to sleep in. He didn't see Ohno move to the bed, but by the time he turned around, Ohno was sitting with a pamphlet in his hands, and a look of utter horror on his face.

Nino's heart froze.

"...You're moving," Ohno said softly. Nino shifted, jamming his hands in his pockets, but didn't respond. Ohno looked up at him, and his face looked tired and broken. "You didn't tell me."

"I—" Nino started, but Ohno cut him off.

"Who is she?" he asked, his voice so quiet Nino had to strain to hear.

"Who?"

"The girl you're moving in with," Ohno said, and his voice cracked on the final word.

"What?" Nino said, completely taken aback. "What are you talking about?"

"The girl," Ohno said. "The one you've been seeing."

"Satoshi," Nino said seriously, kneeling on the floor in front of Ohno. "I really have no idea what you're talking about."

"Please," Ohno said, and Nino could see his hands shaking. "Just stop lying to me, okay? It's been at least a month; you leave the room to take calls, you're distracted all the time, you brush me off when I ask—and you're moving."

Nino took the pamphlet out of Ohno's hands.

"There's no girl, Satoshi," he said, replacing it with both his hands in Ohno's. "I'm not lying. There's no one but you. There never has been."

"Then why—"

"I was going to ask you," Nino said quietly, dropping his head. His heart beat wildly, and he took a moment to send a silent prayer to every deity he could think of that Ohno wouldn't think he was crazy for this. "It's been three years, and I thought... it might be nice."

"What would?" Ohno asked.

"To live together," Nino said, his fear edging into his voice. "Just us."

For a long moment (that felt infinitely longer to Nino) Ohno said nothing. He didn't move, and his hands remained still. Nino closed his eyes and swallowed down the desire to take it back; he wasn't the kid who would ignore what he wanted anymore. If Ohno said no, fine. But Nino wasn't going to pretend he didn't want it.

"You want to live together?" Ohno said quietly.

"It's okay if you don't," Nino said, just as soft. "I just thought—I mean, I don't really know where this is supposed to be going. So it seemed like this would be a really great step, and it'd be really nice not to have to tiptoe around our families anymore."

"Kazu," Ohno said. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I wanted to surprise you," Nino said. "...And I was scared."

"Of what?" Ohno asked.

"That I was asking too much," Nino said. "I've never really... figured out how serious you are about this, and I didn't want to make you uncomfortable."

Ohno's hand came up to cup Nino's cheek and lift his head.

"After three years," he said with a soft smile, "you still honestly think I'm just in this for the fun of it?"

"Well, to be honest," Nino replied, "I figured my incredibly sexy bod had something to do with it."

Ohno leaned down and kissed him, and Nino forgot for moment that just minutes before, they hadn't understood a word the other was saying. He sighed into the kiss, letting the sweetness wash over him. Nino lifted his hand to cover Ohno's on his cheek, and he had a stunning moment of realization:

Anywhere Ohno was felt like home.

"Does this mean I have to help you pick curtains?" Ohno asked as they pulled apart.

"No, but you get the carry the ones on clearance that I hand to you," Nino explained, standing up and climbing into Ohno's lap. Ohno smiled and slid his hands up Nino's back.

"I can live with that," he said just before Nino kissed him.


twenty-five.
"You know," Nino said, examining the magazine spread carefully. "Your pictures are way more skanky than mine."

Ohno groaned, but the sound was muffled by the cushions of the couch he was laying face-down on.

"This one's kind of funny," Nino said, holding the magazine aloft. "You really are a leg man."

Ohno made another pained sort of noise, and pulled a pillow over his head.

"You're going have tons of fans in the juniors for this, you know," Nino commented. "Two girls at once is quite impressive for someone as short as you."

"If you're done humiliating me," Ohno whined, turning his face out to pout at Nino. "I would very much like some spouse-like doting."

"Then you should marry me," Nino said with a sniff, turning the page.

"Fine," Ohno said. "Now can I get a backrub?"

"...You're joking, right?" Nino said, peering over the magazine skeptically.

"Why would I joke about such a serious thing as backrubs?" Ohno said, his tone innocent.

"Satoshi," Nino said quietly. "I've told you. Don't say what you don't mean. Even as a joke."

"I wasn't joking," Ohno said, just as seriously. "We might as well, I don't plan on being with anybody else."

"For the rest of our lives?" Nino said, setting the magazine aside. "You're awfully nonchalant."

"No, I'm sure," Ohno said. "There's a difference."

"So," Nino said, getting up to sit next to Ohno's legs on the couch. "What, that's—you're proposing? Like that?"

"I could get down on one knee if you want," Ohno answered. "But like I said, my back is killing me."

"...Forever?" Nino asked softly, his hand settling on Ohno's lower back and moving in slow, soothing circles. "You really want to be stuck with me forever?"

"When I play with Kazus," Ohno said with a serious look, his lip pouting rather spectacularly, "I play for keeps."

Nino laughed. and the laugh turned into a hysterical, almost tearful gigglefit that had Ohno sitting up and patting his back and reminding him to breathe. The giggles subsiding, Nino sucked in air, and looked at Ohno. He wasn't even sure what he was looking for, but whatever it was, just seeing Ohno's face was enough to calm him. Ohno looked completely sure and completely confident. It didn't matter that whatever they did wouldn't be a legal contract; it was enough to know that both of them were determined to last until they were long past dancing and singing and being idols.

They'd been together for four years and had been friends for so much longer. Somehow, continuing on didn't seem that hard anymore. It wasn't absurd to think they'd be together at thirty, and if they could last until thirty, why not forty? Sixty? Why not until Nino couldn't do backflips and Ohno couldn't pop and lock and the both of them had trouble remembering the names of all those damn juniors that just kept pouring out of the woodwork?

The man in front of him had been a constant in his life long enough for Nino to honestly believe that he would stay that way. And he couldn't think of anything that made him felt safer and happier than that.

"Your ass better stay hot when you are old," Nino said, grinning. "I'm in this for your hot bod."

"Ditto," Ohno said, and they were both laughing into their kisses.
 
 
 
THIS IS SPARTA WHAT IS THIS: 嵐 | 大宮 | *~touching~*crazychickencow on August 23rd, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
;~; ♥
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
YOU BEAT COMMAS BACK WITH MINDBOGGLING PROWESS.
(no subject) - crazychickencow on August 23rd, 2008 01:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
サマンサックス: ohmiya2omnipresentdmat on August 23rd, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)
GOAAAAAAAL

I'll be back to read after the movie, darling.
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
Huuuuurrrrry baaaaack~
*________________________________________* - omnipresentdmat on August 23rd, 2008 05:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
1992*4##111: [arashi] ohmiya - i can't make this shitgimmick_game on August 23rd, 2008 01:24 am (UTC)
jdsklajfkdljaglkdjaslfdlks!

I really and truly do love you, my Ho ♥
炎子: [Arashi] ah married life.honooko on August 23rd, 2008 01:25 am (UTC)
I still can't believe it broke 10k. CRY, MY LIFE.
(no subject) - gimmick_game on August 23rd, 2008 01:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
{Reijeux}chibi_reina on August 23rd, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
omg can I marry this fic? Because I love it. I seriously do. It made me giggle and just... yeah.

I'm speechless, haha. So I'm gonna go and read it again~

Great job, great job X333
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
this is your ego.: good lovin' gets you places.augustfai on August 23rd, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
sdgfoaketiwperotuewyiwetopiwerouoqiup

I AM IN LOVE.
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
WHEN I STARTED, I WENT, "I'LL WRITE A SERIES OF DRABBLES! :D:D:D"

YOU SEE HOW THAT TURNED OUT. ._.
(no subject) - augustfai on August 23rd, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ishi_ann on August 23rd, 2008 02:12 am (UTC)
Man... that was so amazing.
I like cute Ohmiya <3.
And I like your stories.
Could it get any better ?
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
Thank you~!
★ Rhee ~: Ohmiya is Love - Arashiskadihelias on August 23rd, 2008 02:14 am (UTC)
Hot damn...

I'm...incoherent right now?

One thing, mothers are bloody awesome XD
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
MOTHERS ARE GREAT. Especially Ohmiya's. ♥
(no subject) - skadihelias on August 24th, 2008 07:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
tiina: arashi - ohmiya - scp gigglesstarsystems on August 23rd, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
I think you just turned me into a big ball of pink fluff. I AM NOW THE THING THAT CHASES JUN THROUGH HIS NIGHTMARES.

All week I've been staring forlornly at my flist, wanting sweet ohmiya fic and then you write 11,000 words of it! This was so adorable and funny at places and oh god their mothers. It was very fluffy but in the right way. The way that doesn't involve me sobbing in desperation over my keyboard. Instead it made me emit sparkles and pink hearts all over the place. Like dandruff.



"...You and Jun would be hot."
OHNO AGREES WITH ME. What? I actually thought that when I got to that part. (I pretty much love that whole exchange. Might be my favourite part. :P )
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
NinoJun is totally hot okay. Everyone knows it, especially Ohno, since he knows what they look like under their clothes. ;D
Funky no Fuzakefunkyfuzake on August 23rd, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
I'm in love with this fic and your writing finesse. The Ohmiya was beautiful, but also every time all five of them were together, my heart did a happy little skip. You do their interaction so well.

♥!
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! :D
Rinny: ohmiya bluerinalin on August 23rd, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
I can't even begin go to express how awesome this is. From the beginning to the end and every stop in between, there's just so much...RIGHT.

Nino's fear that Aiba's lung collapse was somehow his fault...Jun's quiet comfort when Nino's heart was broken, Sho acting as relay while Nino was in LA...you totally managed to tie in Arashi to this Ohmiya fic in a completely natural way. It felt honest and real. While Nino's feelings for Ohno become increasingly powerful, they never seem to shadow what Arashi means to him.

And Ohno... Every little moment. I love how they are to each other, how he's just THERE for Nino, how the little touches and quiet moments mean so much to him. And in the beginning, he doesn't even know why. You marry the tension and the angst with such pure moments of happy. Meeting the parents, group showers, taunting Jun...

Living, growing, loving, hurting... you have it all. Susinct and beautiful and flowing perfectly.
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
Thank you, I'm really glad you enjoyed it! ♥
Katie: Some Boys! Touchhontowa on August 23rd, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
I like the whole thing, particularly 'seventeen' and 'twenty-one,' but this scene is my favorite thing ever:

"We're going to shower," Nino explained brightly. "I'm going to wash your hair for you."

"And touch my butt," Ohno added.

"And touch your butt," Nino agreed, not even slightly ashamed.

"I want to touch Captain's butt too," Aiba said, coming up behind them and draping his arms across their shoulders.

"You can touch Sho-chan's butt," Nino said, looping an arm around Ohno's waist. "Or Jun's, if you think you'll survive it."

Aiba pouted, but his eyes sparkled in a way that suggested Jun was going to be whacking him upside the head very shortly. As he skipped away, Nino hoped Aiba at least had the sense to wait until Jun had removed his rings.


XD XD XD

Thank youuuuuuuuuu <3 <3
炎子honooko on August 23rd, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)
HAPPY ROUGHLY-NINE-MONTHS-BEFORE-THIS-DATE-YOUR-PARENTS-HAD-UNPROTECTED-SEX DAY!!!!
Nico Coer: Arashi Ohmiya grentle eyesnicocoer on August 23rd, 2008 03:40 am (UTC)
. . . this was exactly what I needed today. . . thank you. *huggles tightly*
tsukikipintsukikipin on August 23rd, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
Yeah maybe just a bit carried away. XD That was like a 9 or 5 chapter story smooshed into one <33

One of the best Ohmiya fics I've ever read~
き季kirei_kisetsu on August 23rd, 2008 04:06 am (UTC)
Oh, this is so utterly awesome ♥ I loved it all (especially the fact that you did it to a timeline :O) but I particularly loved Ohno!Mama and Nino!Mama! :D

"When I play with Kazus," Ohno said with a serious look, his lip pouting rather spectacularly, "I play for keeps."
And this line, is so cute <333
Lemmings, please!: sprawl of nino blackitachitachi on August 23rd, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)
Unngh. ;o; I want to hug this fic and never let go.