Summary: Five years later, Jun can say he owes who he is to Sakurai Sho.
Notes: A belated birthday drabble fic for astrangerenters! It's kind of late, but I hope you had an excellent birthday! ♥
Jun is practicing the new moves they've been given just the day before. There's a bead of sweat edging its way slowly from his armpit down his side and his head's starting to hurt and his knee is always bending too late on the second turn. Maybe he would've stopped to take a rest as a Junior, but now he's in a group and they're all working not to offend each other in an already uneasy environment. That's why Jun is trying his hardest, and it's not because--
The door opens and Sho comes in, head bobbing to whatever is playing through his headphones. Jun's eye catches on the curve of Sho's neck as it meets his shoulder, pale and smooth and exposed.
Jun promptly trips over his own feet.
Romantic yearning, Jun thinks, only gets you so far before it gets sad.
It's also dangerous. Touching is all well and good and even encouraged in what they do (looking pretty and taking good photos, Nino says sardonically, but he takes to the idea so well that soon enough he and Ohno are practically licking each other for the cameras), but actually wanting to touch another guy is a different matter.
Jun is 19 years old with a smattering of acne, has a weird sense of humor that mostly involves making odd faces, is gay and sexually repressed and in love with someone that'll never like him back. Like that. So basically, he's as screwed as it gets.
That's when he gets the role of Sawada Shin.
Jun considers it for a whole night, laying awake in his bed, a foot rubbing nervously over a knobby ankle. I have to change, he thinks slowly and then more intensely, I can't be short and cute and dorky forever. Being someone like Sawada would be good.
He bats the idea that this is all because of Sho out of his mind.
When Sho greets him in the morning, he falls into the role and doesn't smile sweetly or fall all over himself or ask Sho if he wants to go down to the combini during their break. It's just like playing a character. Instead he quirks the corner of his mouth and says, "Good morning, Sho-kun," flat and kind of cold.
If I create this distance, Jun thinks, I'll get over him. I have to.
He doesn't, of course.
Jun's still not sure exactly why he likes Sho. It had started as fierce admiration and then puberty had kicked in, angrily bringing in spots on his face and a veritable jungle on his legs and hot dreams that led to him waking up with his hand in his pants in the morning. It had changed from idolism to I want to touch him, I want to run my hands under his shirt and his pants, I want to know what he's thinking, I want him to tell me everything--
Jun kind of hates himself for it. Sho doesn't deserve to be the target of his illicit affections. Sho doesn't even know how to deal with the character change Jun's created for himself; Jun thinks it's okay that Sho withdraws a bit and a sort of tension falls between them, awkward and silent, distance.
This is what Jun had wanted. Because he's a boy, he ignores his heart feeling heavier and heavier.
It feels less and less like playing a character as time goes on. Maybe he would've been different, Jun thinks, if he hadn't changed himself purposefully, but he thinks he likes the kind of adult he's growing up to be. He's more confident. Jun finally feels like he can control things.
He fucks around with some guys, and even some girls for appearances. It's good, but he doesn't think it's something he can't live without, so he stops. There are other bad decisions to make and because he's a teenager, he makes those instead. (When he buys an expensive hat for the first time, he does feel kind of guilty.)
Really, he's just not that interested in sex - it's not like Jun's waiting for something. Or someone.
Five years later, Jun can say he owes who he is to Sakurai Sho. He does like who he's become and the distance between him and Sho has been lessening over the years, slowly and gently, until Sho is more than a friend, more than family. This is better than if Sho had been a lover, Jun thinks.
But if the curve of Sho's wrist sometimes catches his attention, or the dip in his waist, or the way he says something and then laughs his head off, then it's just Jun's imagination because he loves Sho, but he's over him.
Jun's a capable adult. He has good friends, particularly Mao and Shun who both know too much about him (that he's actually gay), and they're always willing to listen quietly. He knows that what they tactfully don't say is that he's lonely, that he hasn't actually seriously dated someone in years. Jun knows that too well himself.
That's when he starts to consider getting a dog.
Sweet-smelling smoke and the sound of laughter fills the room as they celebrate their tenth anniversary, beaming too strongly and drinking too much. In fact, it's probably good that this place doesn't have karaoke, because Sho and Aiba are just about crawling on the table already. Jun thinks they've earned this happiness a million times over; they'd worked hard for it. The years spent airing on midnight slots have taken away any ego from them, any expectation that what they'd wanted would just be plopped in their hands.
"Sho-chan! Bottoms up!"
"Bleagh! What is this crap? Wait, give me more?"
Maybe others would have failed or started to act out in frustration. But they'd flourished instead and Jun feels so grateful that it's these four - he can just be himself. He can count on them. He's probably drunk too much if he's getting this sappy without a sad movie in front of him, but it's at times like these why Jun can understand how easily Aiba cries.
"Leader looks like he's going to throw up, Nino..."
"Grab him by the feet, Aiba-chan!"
The way he burns for Sho has only simmered. It hasn't gone away, and Jun thinks his younger self idiotic for thinking that it would. He's not in denial anymore. He's just put it away where he can look at it fondly, perhaps with a small amount of regret. Besides, now he knows that Sho is terrible at romance anyway, and really--
Something heavy lands on his shoulder. Jun looks up from the table, marveling at how caramel-coated and detached the world seems when there's alcohol in him. Nino, Ohno and Aiba are in the corner, jabbing excitedly at something in the shadows, and Sho's head has just pillowed itself in the space under Jun's jaw. Jun can't help but flinch.
"Hmm, you always smell good," he hears Sho murmur, and hot breath washes over his chin. "Like candles..." Sho moves closer.
"That's because I use that scent," Jun says quietly, trying to get some distance between them. He's also trying to breathe. "Sho, are you okay?"
Sho makes a soft 'uh-huh' noise and burrows closer. Jun's confused - Sho's usually a loud drunk, yelling with all the rest of them and trying to clink beer cans together to the tune of Arashi songs. He'd even once made an unremarkable attempt at stripping. What's going on now is odd and it's making something turn in Jun's stomach, something that he knows too well. He can't deal with the want, so instead he grabs at anger.
"Look, you perverted old man, stop feeling me up, okay--"
And then he freezes because there's warm fingertips stroking over his skin, under his shirt, from the bottom of his ribs to his waistband -- he makes an odd noise, raw and involuntary. Nino turns around, sees them, raises his eyebrow and the corner of his mouth and then turns back.
Help me, Jun thinks faintly, oh, god.
Where they're sitting is slightly shadowed and made even more humid by the heater under the table. Sho's thigh is pressed tight against his own and his hand is still moving on the small of Jun's back, back and forth, slickly where Jun's beginning to sweat.
"Sho-kun." His voice squeaks.
Sho's pupils are blown and unfocused, except he's staring intently at Jun's face right now and there's that little crease he gets on his forehead when he's attempting to do something he probably won't have success in. "You never say anything," he says almost scoldingly, voice low and rough. His gaze moves down to Jun's neck. "And I'm... I'm bad at talking, okay?"
"No, you're not," Jun snaps, squirming, unsure if he's trying to get closer or away, "you talk a lot. Too much. And what do you mean, when have I not said anyth--"
"About this," Sho interrupts, suddenly seeming sober and Jun gets the dizzying idea that he'd been pretending, Sho who has always showed an open face to them in private, always. Sho's hand slides over to Jun's trembling stomach where their lower halves are hidden by the table, large and heavy, and stops there. "About this," Sho repeats, lips brushing Jun's neck in the lightest contact, and it's only now that he registers that Sho's cheeks are red - with the flush of embarassment.
"Okaaaay, you snugglebugs," Nino's voice suddenly cuts in, loud and strident and definitely amused; Jun jerks himself out of Sho's warmth and almost falls over on his side. "Time for you two to go home, okay? The taxi's here for you. We're just going to keep on drinking. Because I have more tricks and they need to be seen."
"You have so many tricks, Nino," Aiba almost moans, his hand curled around a bottle of sake and his chin propped on the table. Ohno's staring at the rotating ceiling fan.
Nino fans his cards out. "Exactly," he says, and ushers Sho and Jun out into the cool night, looking somewhat wobbly himself. Sho seems to have lost all equilibrium; he stands with his shoulders tensed and he's still looking at the ground like it's as fascinating as a newspaper. His cheeks are still stained red. Jun doesn't know what to do -- he feels like the kid he'd decided that he never wanted to be again, tripping over his own feet whenever Sho came into the room.
He's had so many fantasies of this happening over the years, dwindling as he'd told himself to become less delusional. But now that it's here, it's just questions. Why now, why, but he's. Never been interested in you, his brain says. Never.
"Your apartment," Sho says when they're seated in the taxi, sounding like he's choking. "I have no idea what I'm doing," he blurts out a second later.
"Yeah," Jun responds. He has no idea what he's agreeing with.
When they're halfway there Sho leans his head back against the seat, squinting against the bright lights flaring through the window. "When you changed, all of a sudden," he says slowly, "I thought..."
"I wanted to get over you," Jun answers, leaning forward and twining his fingers together, speaking almost without thinking. "It didn't work. It hasn't worked."
A hand falls to cover his, and when he looks over Sho's still staring out the window at the passing blurs of other cars. "But after all," Sho says, almost to himself, and the fingers on top of his tighten, "you're just you... just..."
He whips around and pulls Jun's hand to his mouth, pressing his lips there, his eyes wide and frantic. He probably thinks that's sexy, Jun thinks and laughs breathlessly, reaches across the space between them and yanks him closer.