Stronger

Dec. 3rd, 2016 05:21 pm
rollingday_s: (sakuraiba)
[personal profile] rollingday_s posting in [community profile] rollingdayscomm
Title: Stronger
Characters and Parings: Sakurai Sho, Aiba Masaki, Ohno Satoshi, Ninomiya Kazunari, Matsumoto Jun, Sakuraiba (Sho/Aiba).
Genre: Drama, Romance, Fluff, Friendship, Angst.
Rating: R
Summary: Aiba had always been stronger.
Disclaimer: Arashi don’t belong to me. It’s them who own my Soul! Soul!
A/N: This ended up way longer than I thought it would be, but once I started I just couldn’t stop. I have so many feelings (some may even say too many) about Sho and Aiba together – and Arashi as friends. ;__;




01. Hurt

No one would believe it, probably, but Aiba had always been stronger than it looked.

    Truth be told, he was certainly the quickest to cry and everyone would regularly tease him about it. Every concert for him would end up with tears wetting his face, mixing with sweat and – most of the time – rain. His eyes would grow red from all the rubbing, and his back would tremble and jerk with sobs. His feelings would take over completely and he would just let them, not afraid to cry in front of others – even if it were millions of people. And maybe that was a strength in itself already.

    But, even if his emotions could get the best of him most of the time, Aiba was always a rock in times of trouble.

    That day, he had ordered him urgently to go get hamburgers and meet him at Nino’s. Sho obeyed with no hesitation, a little puzzled at the concern in Aiba’s tone. It wasn’t rare that he would spend his evenings with Nino, nor was it rare that he asked him to bring them food. Most of the time, Sho would find the two of them on the couch or on the bed, reading manga, playing games or watching TV.

    At first, when he had just fallen in love with Aiba all those years ago, he had been too afraid to confess because he thought the other guy was in love with Nino. He had spent the next two years thinking he was in an unrequited love, sighing every time Aiba left the room, which felt colder without him, his heart breaking each time he would see him get affectionate with Nino. It wasn’t until Aiba took the matter in his own hands and he himself confessed to Sho, that he realised that the two were just the very best of friends and nothing more.

    Still, sometimes it was hard for him to look at them. Not because he was jealous – albeit he had been for the first few months they’d started dating – but because he felt a little uncomfortable watching them interact in such a natural and honest way with each other. It felt like he was somehow violating a secret intimacy between the two of them.

    That was especially hard on him during that first year he and Aiba had been together. He longed for that intimacy with his lover, and was constantly insecure about Aiba’s friendship with Nino. What if one day he decided Sho wasn’t worth it, that they didn’t click, and that what he had with his friend was effortless and felt more right? He never said anything, though. Sho valued Aiba’s independence and they both respected each other’s space.

    It took Sho almost two years of waking up with Aiba’s limbs wrapped around him, a smile curving his lips as he stared at him tenderly, to see that his lover had a look in his eyes that he reserved just for him. And that was when he realised, no relationship is effortless, and he was sure other people were probably feeling uncomfortable watching them interact too.

    He rang the doorbell and waited for someone to open the door. Aiba had given him a copy of Nino’s house keys, but he was just getting back from filming and had forgotten them at home. A few seconds later, Aiba’s head appeared in the door, gesturing to him to come in.

    Everything seemed normal. Nino was playing on his laptop, the house was a mess, nothing was on the stoves. Completely normal, Sho thought, if only it weren’t for Aiba’s troubled expression. The man nervously snatched the plastic bag from his hands without a word and sat next to Nino. Sho sat on the chair opposite them. Nino didn’t show any signs that he realised Sho was even there.

    “Eat.” Aiba’s voice was full of authority.

    Nino didn’t lift his head. “Not hungry.”

    “Don’t care.” He had unwrapped a hamburger and was pushing it into Nino’s mouth with no success.

    Sho tried to stop him. “He can eat it later, Masaki...” he said, weakly.

    To his surprise, Aiba turned to give him a death glare before going back to his task. “Ninomiya eat the damn burger or I’m breaking your computer and I’m burning all your games.”

    Nino shrugged and snorted, almost as if he was saying ‘I’d like to see you try’ and Aiba simply took his laptop and threw it on the other side of the couch with no care.

    “AIBA!” Nino yelled, furious. He punched him in the arm in a fit of rage.

    Aiba didn’t flinch. Sho was unsure what to do, so he just remained in his chair and watched. Nino punched Aiba again, this time in the stomach. He groaned a little, but he didn’t budge.

    “I hate you!” Nino yelled, punching him again and again and again, until he seemed to crumble onto himself and ended up a sobbing mess into Aiba’s chest.

    Sho was confused and more than a little uneasy as he saw the scene unfold under his eyes. Aiba was caressing and comforting Nino while whispering that it was okay, everything was going to be okay. Slowly, and very gently, he made Nino calm down before making him sit up so he could help him eat his hamburger.

    From his corner in the room, Sho had remained ignored as he had looked amazed at the patience and the calmness with which Aiba had managed to get Nino to finish his dinner and then helped him go to bed.

    “I’m sorry,” he said to him while getting out of Nino’s room and closing the door behind him. “I think I should stay here tonight.”

    Sho stood up a little awkwardly. “It’s okay...” He hugged Aiba and let him rest his head on his shoulder as he stroke it. “What happened?”

    Aiba linked his arms around his waist. “He got dumped.”

    “Ah.” He didn’t need to know more. Nino really loved this one. “Are you okay?” he asked, a little concerned.

    Aiba scrolled his shoulders. “It’s not about me.”

    “But Nino punched you… I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to do… I thought…”

    Aiba lifted his head and gave him a gentle kiss. He pulled away after a few seconds and smiled. “I’m fine, Sho-chan, really.”

    Sho smiled slightly and sighed with relief at Aiba’s reassuring tone. He kissed him again before letting him go.

    He went home alone that night.




02. Silence

Aiba’s strength was definitely not in his words, but in his actions.

    Like for example the way he would wake Sho up with a different kiss depending on his mood. A kiss on his shoulder when he was feeling sleepy; a kiss on his neck when he was feeling turned on; a kiss on his forehead when he was feeling worried; a kiss on the nose when he was feeling affectionate; and, Sho’s favourite, a kiss on the lips when he was feeling happy.

    Aiba said it all with his body.

    Sho only knew another person like that, and it was Ohno. The way his figure slumped even more when he was tired was different from the way it curved when he was sad. His polite laugh was hearty and warm, but Sho knew that when he let out a genuine laugh he closed his eyes for a second.

    Sho became so much better at understanding Ohno’s silence when he got together with Aiba, because he learned how to recognise the little hints. Like Ohno, Aiba was polite, but his body often betrayed his real emotions. Sho knew what it meant when Aiba would tug at his sleeve without saying anything, just smiling in a way that might have looked pleased to anyone else but him. He heard the hurt in Aiba’s giggle when people picked on him and their teasing hit a little too close to home.

    And Aiba and Ohno could read each other, of course. They weren’t the best of friends, not like Nino and Aiba were, but they got along very well, and they were the only people he knew who could spend hours without talking, just staying silent without feeling embarrassed.

    The same couldn’t be said for Sho.

    Sho was the chatty and showy type. He became aware that his body language was an open book for everyone to read when he became a teenager. He started hiding his true self, afraid of people’s judgement. He joined Johnny’s. Pierced his ears and belly-button. Dyed his hair blond. And learned how to fill the silence with his voice.

    With time, he had learned to accept his true self enough to let go of some of the things he did to hide it. He ditched his rebel image when he accepted his responsibilities, but he never learned how to shut up. His chattiness was his only defence mechanism now that he was an adult. And the only one who ever noticed was Aiba.

    He would spend hours listening to Sho talk about anything. He would just let him go on and on, without interrupting, just looking at him, or at the ceiling, a hand resting on his chest or his thigh, reassuring him and keeping him grounded. When Sho would stop talking, that was when Aiba spoke, in whispers usually, telling him that he loved him and that he always would. As Sho knew how to listen to the unspoken words in Aiba’s silence, Aiba knew how to look for the unspoken pain in Sho’s noise.

    That night, the five of them had spent the whole time drinking at his and Aiba’s place. Aiba was the one who suggested it, actually. After a long day at work, he had dragged a recalcitrant Nino and a tired Jun to their apartment, with Ohno and Sho trailing behind them. They had gathered around the kotatsu and gotten under it to find shelter from the cold, and they had soon gotten drunk over hotpot and take-out sushi.

    Or rather, Sho, Jun, Nino and Ohno got drunk, and Aiba pretended to be.

    Sho blamed the copious amount of alcohol in his system for not noticing sooner, but looking at Aiba now, he really didn’t think he was drunk. Aiba’s telltale sign when he drank too much was that he’d start groping and kissing Sho in public, something that annoyed him to no end. When Sho got drunk, he got grumpier and grumpier. He had to admit that they weren’t exactly the best combination when they weren’t sober.

    But this time, Aiba kept his harassing at a minimum. Yes, he did pinch his butt and giggled when he got up to get more beers, and he did try to lick his ear when he came back, but that had been it. Maybe it was the beer talking, but Sho almost felt a bit resentful. Instead, Aiba seemed to glance at Ohno every so often, handing him a new beer as soon as he finished his.

    Nino and Jun had fallen asleep on the floor sometimes around 2 a.m., and, an hour later, the three of them were the only ones still awake, with Sho almost ready to join his friends in the dreamland. They had spent the last thirty minutes in silence, and it was driving him crazy. Sho needed to talk, to fill the void with something, but he was too tired to speak.

    He looked at Aiba, who was looking at Ohno as if waiting for something. The oldest was looking at the beer in his hand, sometimes taking a deep breath as if he was worried or sad about something. He didn’t seem to be aware of the two pair of eyes that were watching him.

    Aiba gently put his hand on Ohno’s shoulder and he winced, as if suddenly remembering that he wasn’t alone. They looked at each other without saying a word, and for a second Sho actually thought they were communicating with their minds, because he clearly saw Aiba nod at some point, to which Ohno sighed and whispered a thank you.

    He wanted to ask what was happening, but his tongue refused to collaborate. His eyes simply closed, and he just fell asleep on the armchair, his beer still in his hands.

    The next morning he woke up in bed with Aiba next to him, and he didn’t say anything because his lover had just given him a kiss on the neck, and, as he felt Aiba’s hand slide in his pants already, he told himself that sex was probably the best cure for his hangover anyway.




03. Broken

If you asked anyone who knew Arashi to say which one of them looked like the strongest one, everybody would probably point at Jun.

    And it was true, Sho used to think, Jun was quite strong. He was hard-working, serious, reliable, caring. He really was the best friend one could wish for, and he was sure these qualities also made him a good and loyal partner.

    But Jun’s strength wasn’t unlimited, and he too would sometimes break under the pressure of doing it all, and doing it all flawlessly.

    He always thought they were very similar in that regard.

    Jun, like Sho, was driven by a need for perfection, but the difference was that, where Sho did it mostly out of duty and education, Jun did it out of passion. And sometimes that passion would burn inside of him to exhaustion, till he would just fall and be unable to pick himself up.

    When Sho and Aiba still weren’t together, Aiba would spend a lot of time with Jun. And the youngest member of Arashi would lean on Aiba for support without even noticing. Just with a laugh, or a smile, or a friendly talk, Aiba would make Jun realise that he was needed, that he was loved, and that he didn’t need to be perfect for anyone else’s sake.

    Sho had always known that Aiba knew all the right things to do and say. That’s why, when they got together, Aiba would repeat time and time again how much he loved to see his ‘uncool’ side. That he loved the very part of Sho that he hated about himself, the part that his overachieving self wanted to erase from his existence. And, gradually, but surely, Sho learnt to accept that he didn’t need to change who he was to fit into some mould. That failing was okay every once in a while. And maybe even most of the time. When Sho loved Aiba, and Aiba loved him back, he learned to love himself as well.

    He knew that Aiba saw the similarities between him and Jun. They were both the go-getters of the group. The role models. The ones with their head on the shoulders. The serious Sho, the reliable Jun. The Shadow Leader, the Concert Master. And sometimes it was just too much.

    “You didn’t need to come,” Aiba said as he parked his car outside of the bar.

    “I know,” Sho replied. “But I was free anyway…” he said, trying to sound casual.

    Aiba smiled gently. “I know you’re worried, Sho-chan.” He patted his thigh. “Such a nice senpai you are, ne?”

    Sho snorted. It had been so long since Aiba had called him that. And even longer, he suspected, since Jun did. He really didn’t feel nothing like a senpai to the youngest any more.

    They got out of the car and shivered. The wind was biting at their faces, but that was actually a good thing. They could wrap their scarves around their faces, and pull their hats down without raising any suspicion. Sho almost grabbed Aiba’s hand before realising that, Arashi or not, they were still two guys, and holding hands would definitely attract someone’s attention.

    He pushed the door to the bar. A strong smell of cigarettes and alcohol welcomed him. It was incredibly warm indoors, and the dim lights and the silent atmosphere almost made him want to fall asleep on one of the comfortable-looking benches in the corner.

    He felt a tap on his shoulder, and turned around. Aiba had taken off his hat and was pointing at Jun’s figure sitting at the bar counter. He was alone, which was quite unusual for him, and, judging by his gaze staring into the void, he was already more than a bit drunk.

    He let Aiba go ahead and they sat at both sides of Jun’s.

    “Hey, Jun-chan,” Aiba murmured, gently looking at him.

    Jun snapped out of his daze and turned around. His lips twitched in a forced smile. “I’m fine, Masaki-kun,” he said, slurring his words. He noticed Sho on his other side and greeted him by patting a hand on his shoulder. Sho winced a little. Jun couldn’t measure his strength when he was drunk. The youngest hummed and made a gesture to the bartender to give him another beer.

    Aiba shook his head and stopped the bartender. “How many did you have already?”

    “Hmm,” he put his chin on the counter and started mumbling. He raised his right hand and counted down five fingers. “Four,” he said, and then snickered at his own lie.

    Sho watched as Aiba furrowed his brow. “You don’t need to do this, Jun-chan.”

    “I like beer,” Jun simply said. “Beer is effortless. It just goes like,” he lifted his glass and mimicked the act of drinking. “Woooosh,” he said, before bursting out with laughter.

    Aiba sighed and stood up to pay Jun’s tab.

    “I got it,” Sho said. He took his wallet out and gave the bartender his card.

    He looked back at Aiba talking to Jun and he immediately knew why that scene looked so familiar to him.

    He remembered when he was in Jun’s place, and it was him Aiba had come to pick up. It hadn’t been that long since they had debuted, and Sho was feeling the pressure of being an idol and a university student at the same time. With his parents and his whole family still against him, he was struggling to go on. He ended up drunk most of the time when he got off from work and didn’t have to study that much. He would just go out alone and throw himself in the nearest bar he could find.

    But somehow Aiba always found him.

    He never knew how, and he never knew why, but Aiba would always be there. Sometimes he would be a shoulder to cry on, sometimes he would be the friend who would scold him. Whatever he needed, Aiba was there. And, Sho thought, as he faintly remembered one of those nights, maybe that was the moment he fell in love with him.

    “Thank you, sir,” the bartender said, giving back his card. “Please come again.” He bowed.

    Sho helped Aiba pull an annoyed Jun up from his stool, and kept him steady while his lover put his coat, hat and scarf on. “It’s cold out, Jun-chan, please cover up,” he said as he adjusted Jun’s scarf.

    They left the bar and got to Aiba’s car. Aiba laid Jun on the backseat, and he started grunting. “Masaki-kun,” he pouted, grabbing him and refusing to let go.

    “Keys?” Sho asked.

    “Left pocket.”

    He nodded and reached for the car keys. Aiba silently thanked him with a nudge and got in the backseat with Jun, who immediately fell asleep with his head on Aiba’s lap.

    Sho got on the driver’s seat and started to drive to Jun’s place.

    “How do you always know where to find him?” Sho asked suddenly after a few minutes.

    “Uh?” Aiba said distractedly. “Oh, I turn on the GPS on his phone while he’s not looking and then I track him. Jun is a bit helpless with technology,” he giggled.

    A doubt came over him. “Do you track me too?”

    Aiba snickered at his shocked look. “Never give me a reason to, Sakurai Sho.”

    “You’re scary,” he muttered jokingly under his breath, loud enough so Aiba could hear and laugh again at that.

    Sho briefly looked in the rear-view mirror and saw that his lover was looking at Jun with a soft gaze, pushing his bangs away from his face. “Ne, Sho-chan,” he said, still looking down at Jun on his lap. “Is it bad that I still see him as that cute little boy with a big smile on his face sometimes?”

    Sho smiled to himself. He knew what he meant. “It’s not,” he reassured him.




“I’m sorry,” he said with a regretful expression.

    Sho sighed a little. They had gotten to Jun’s place and Aiba was trying to lay him on the bed and walk away, but the youngest persistently held on to his sweater and it was impossible to make him let go.

    “It’s fine,” said Sho. He caressed Aiba’s hair and leaned in to kiss him. “Goodnight.”

    “Goodnight, my love,” Aiba whispered back.

    It was okay, thought Sho. It certainly wasn’t the first time he slept on the couch while a drunk and needy Jun was in bed with Aiba anyway.




04. Crumble

He always thought, being older, being more experienced, that he would be the one supporting Aiba.

    He knew that being in a relationship meant to be able to support each other, but somehow he always liked to think of himself as the strong one, the reliable one. Instead, it was him who crumbled the most. And every time, it was Aiba who was there to pick up the pieces.

    “Sho-chan!” he chanted while running to him. “Okaeri!”

    Sho nodded. “Tadaima.”

    “Sorry for leaving earlier than you today,” he said bowing slightly. Sho waved his hand.

    He changed his shoes at the entrance while Aiba looked down at him happily. Sho smiled weakly as he stepped in and placed a soft kiss on his lips.

    Aiba giggled in the kiss and pushed closer, like he always did. It was a ritual for them since they moved in together. Aiba would usually be the one waiting at home for Sho to come back, and Sho would usually be the one too tired to kiss him properly, but would still end up giving in to Aiba’s tongue as it tried to part his lips.

    When he didn’t kiss back, the younger man pulled away and looked at him with a frown. “What’s wrong, Sho?”

    Sho sighed. “It’s fine, Masaki.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m tired, is all.”

    Aiba smiled sympathetically, but he could see that his mind still wasn’t at ease. He let the man grab his hand and pull him to the kitchen. He had smelled the scent of curry before he even entered, but it was only now that his stomach growled at the thought of food. Aiba’s curry was one of the best thing he ever ate.

    He sat down on the stool. When it was only the two of them eating, they would eat on the kitchen island instead of using the table in the living room. Sho had always liked that that spot was only for them.

    He looked at Aiba’s back as he put a generous amount of rice and curry in his bowl. He was wearing a tight, low-cut shirt that left his neck and part of his shoulders bare. He could admire the subtle way in which his muscles twitched. He was all skin and bones, he thought a little concerned.

    Aiba sat beside him on his usual spot. The curry looked so good that Sho made a noise of appreciation before he even dug in. The younger man giggled at that. He knew that Aiba loved to cook for him, as he had confessed more than once that he loved to see him stuff his cheeks with food. ‘You look cute!’ he had said countless times.

    “Itadakimasu!” Sho said, before lifting the bowl to his chin to eat. “Mmh,” he basically moaned when he had the first bite. “This is so good! Masaki is the best,” he said, almost to himself.

    Aiba hummed contentedly before starting to eat himself, stealing glances every once in a while to look at Sho as he ate his dinner. “Sho-chan,” he chuckled. “You’re going to choke if you eat that fast.”

    Sho made a noise of protest.

    Aiba rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to cry at your funeral if you die on me in such a stupid way, just so you know.”

    Sho at least had the decency to swallow before he replied. “You’re mean.”

    Aiba laughed out loud. The pouty expression on Sho’s face as he nudged him with the bowl asking for seconds was priceless. And cute.




“Sho?”

    “Hmm?” he replied distractedly.

    They had finished eating for a while now, – Sho had actually went for a third bowl with no shame, though to be fair he did share half with Aiba while yelling that he needed to eat more, – they had washed the dishes together before crashing on the couch, and now they were passively watching TV. Aiba had wrapped his arms around Sho’s torso, and had rested his head on his chest, while Sho, who was the ‘Remote Master’ – by his own self-appointment – was looking for something they could watch together.

    “Is everything okay?” Aiba asked suddenly.

    Sho almost cursed under his breath. He knew he couldn’t hide anything from Aiba, no matter how hard he tried. He still did try, though. “Hm? Yes, sure.”

    Aiba sat up. “Liar.”

    Sho looked over at him. He had a furrowed brow and his lips were thinning out by the second. If there was one thing Aiba hated, it was lies.

    Sho sighed. “Baby, I’m tired, can we just watch TV and go to bed?” He tried to hold his hand, but his lover pushed it away.

    “No.” He sat with his knees on the couch so he could turn around to face him directly.

    Sho felt his heart beat painfully. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I love you, you know that?”

    Aiba didn't say it back.

    “I love you, that's the thing,” he repeated, looking down at the floor.

    Aiba's frown deepened in confusion. “You're not making any sense, Sho.” He leaned over to touch his forehead to check for his temperature.

    Sho laughed bitterly at that. Aiba always worried about him. “I went to see my parents today,” he explained.

    Aiba's hands fell on his lap. “Ah,” he simply said. “Your father?”

    Sho nodded.

    “He'll come around. He loves you. He wants to see you happy.”

    Sho didn't need to look at Aiba to know what he would see in his eyes. Guilt, compassion, sadness. All gently hidden away behind an affectionate smile. Aiba never tried to make him feel bad about this subject.

    He shook his head and placed it in his hands. The voices from the TV filled the silence before Aiba stood up and grabbed the remote, turning it off.

    “My love,” he whispered to him, grabbing his hands and pushing them away slowly. “I love you.” He looked into his eyes and gently kissed away the tear that he didn’t even realise had escaped from between his eyelashes.

    Without a word, he took his hand and pulled him off the couch to their bedroom. Sho let him lay the both of them down on the mattress. He didn’t let go of Aiba’s hand. He held on tight. He wondered how his lover could do this. How he could take him in his arms, softly whispering in his ear, reassuring him. “Does he know?,” he thought. “Does he know that we’re not meant to last?”

    He held on tight, and Aiba held his hand tighter.




05. Stronger

“A yen for your thoughts?” Aiba perked up.

    They were sitting on the floor, under the kotatsu, drinking tea together. Aiba had been reading a book for the past twenty minutes while Sho was sorting out his schedule on his laptop.

    “It’s ‘a penny,’ Masaki. ‘A penny for your thoughts,’ not a yen,” he smirked, avoiding the question.

    Aiba hummed. “But I don’t have any pennies, only yen,” he said, waving a finger in the air.

    Sho laughed and looked back at his computer’s screen.

    He was trying to concentrate on his schedule for the next day when he felt Aiba’s hand under the kotatsu resting on his knee, dangerously starting to slide up.

    “Masaki…” he warned him.

    “Yes?” he asked, feigning innocence. His fingers were pinching his inner thighs now.

    Sho groaned impatiently. “I still have things to do.”

    He shrugged his shoulders as he kept pinching him over his jeans. “I’m not stopping you.”

    Sho yelped helplessly when he felt the younger man’s hand walking up his crotch. “Masaki…” he puffed.

    Aiba stopped and pulled away. He put his hands on his lap and stared at them. “I miss you,” he whispered, looking a bit sad. “How long has it been?” His head turned to look at him.

    ‘Three months, four days, ten hours and twelve minutes,’ Sho thought. Not that he counted.

    “I don’t know,” he lied.

    “If you just need more time,” Aiba continued, “it’s okay. Just…” he smiled at him. “Let me know, okay?”

    With a wistful smile and a pat on his hand, the younger man stood up and left him alone in the living room.

    Sho felt his breath hitch. He clenched his fists and stared at the screen in front of him. He felt the mouth of his stomach tighten up with guilt. ‘You’re weak, Sakurai,’ he told himself.

    He slammed his laptop shut in a fit of rage and got up. He was aware of the fact that he wasn’t thinking straight, that he needed to stop, but he couldn’t. He found Aiba in the kitchen, leaning on the kitchen island, reading from his tablet.

    He lifted his head when he heard him come in. “Would you like it if I tried making bouillabaisse sometimes?” he asked him.

    Sho didn’t reply. He pulled him forcefully by the sweater and pushed him on the wall. Aiba groaned a little, but he attacked his lips immediately, swallowing his groans. He pressed himself against him, letting his body do the talking. Aiba moaned in the kiss when he felt Sho’s crotch push against his thigh.

    Sho broke their kiss and sucked on Aiba’s neck while the younger man tilted his head back and put his hands around his nape. He moaned his name, and Sho felt his heart in his throat. He bit on Aiba’s collarbone, eliciting a whimper. When he heard that sound, he couldn’t contain a bitter smile. He was unable to stop, and that scared him, but he didn’t care at that moment. All he cared about was that his hand was now unbuckling Aiba’s belt, while the man was cupping his ass. He groaned, and it took all of his willpower to stop for a second so that he could grab Aiba’s belt and pull him towards the bedroom.

    Once there, he threw him on the bed and stared at him for a moment while unzipping his own pants. Aiba was laying on his back, propped on his elbows, panting lightly while looking at him. Neither of them talked. Sho took off his pants, his gaze never leaving the other man on the bed. He shivered when Aiba licked his lips at the sight of his bulge. Without wasting another second, he took off his shirt and got on the bed, positioning himself on top of his lover.

    He grabbed his chin and pulled him up to meet his lips. Aiba gladly complied, their kiss full of hunger. He pushed Aiba back on the bed again, making the younger man gasp in surprise. Sho bit his earlobe before grabbing his jeans with both his hands and pulling it all the way down. Aiba whimpered against his ear and Sho almost groaned. He wanted to hear Aiba’s moans, louder. He wanted to lose himself in the thought that he would only be his, and no one else’s, even if he knew that could never be the truth.

    Their touches were becoming more desperate now. Sho didn’t know who got rid of Aiba’s shirt, but the feeling of skin against skin was making him hotter by the second. He licked the birthmark on his lover’s shoulder, wondering if anyone else would ever love it the way he did. Wondering if anyone else could ever love Aiba more than he ever would.

    He didn’t want to think about other hands sliding in his hair the way his hand was just now, pulling Aiba’s head back so he could suck on his neck. He didn’t want to think about other hands caressing his chest, his thighs, his hips. Other lips ghosting over his collarbone. Other fingers giving him pleasure. Other ears hearing his moans filled with some other name instead of his.

    The piercing pain in his heart didn’t subside. He didn’t know what he thought would happen if he did this. Did he think it was going to get better?

    Aiba took him in his hand, making him groan in what felt like a painful stab of pleasure. His guilt bit at his stomach. He was determined to finish this quickly now. He barely gave his lover the time to get used to his fingers before going in. Every time Aiba moaned, or called his name, he felt like suffocating. He wanted to hear him, but he couldn’t take it anymore. He kissed him frantically until he could swallow even his last sigh, and they both collapsed on the bed without saying a word.




Sho never knew Aiba could be that strong. But it was all good, he thought, because he needed him to be strong in that moment.

    “It’s okay,” he said. He wasn’t crying, and it felt wrong somehow. Sho had always imagined that Aiba would cry when he told him.

    “Masaki...” his voice broke despite himself. He was overflowing with sadness, guilt, and regret, but he had decided that he wasn’t going to cry. If Aiba could be strong, he should too. It was his fault after all.

    Aiba looked at him. He’d never seen him so serious in his life, except when Sho’s father had passed away three months before and his lover had taken care of everything because the intensity of the loss had crippled him. Aiba was so strong then, so focused, not letting Sho’s mourning affect his judgement, organising the funeral in his stead, all the while caring for his and his family’s needs, even if his family had never accepted him, and never would.

    Sho owed more than his gratitude to Aiba. More than his love. More than his heart – which would always be his anyway. He owed him his life.

    The other man brushed his cheek with his fingers, before stopping abruptly. “Sho.” His tone was sweet but hard at the same time. “I understand.”

    He turned around, distancing himself. “I always knew this day would come. And I won’t fight for you,” he said, and Sho’s heart sank. “If that’s what you want,” he added, almost in a whisper.

    ‘No!’ Sho wanted to scream, ‘This is not what I want. I want you. I want your smile on my lips every morning when I wake up. Your voice whispering love promises in my ear even if you won’t keep them. Your hands touching me till I go crazy and I come undone under your gaze. Your warmth lulling me to sleep in the cold winter as you keep me in your embrace. I want you, Aiba Masaki. All of you, forever.’

    “Thank you,” he said instead, and Aiba nodded, and it was so wrong, god it was so wrong.




06. Weaker

Aiba had always been stronger. Sho knew that well.

    He had smiled tirelessly as Sho announced to the world his engagement. Patted his back when the press asked for his bandmates’ comments. Gave his fiancée a congratulatory bouquet when he first met her. Every gesture, every glance, every word was perfect. Nothing was out of place. It was as if Aiba had erased the last 10 years of their relationship together in a heartbeat, and only because – and his heart broke some more at the thought – Sho had asked. And he always did what Sho asked of him.

    Aiba had put on a smile and braved the world. He would move on, Sho thought. He would find someone who could maybe love him more than he did.

    No, said a voice inside his head. Not more. Impossible. But better? Yes. Maybe. With no pain but the good pain. No heartbreak. No expiry date.

    Aiba had always been stronger, he knew that. But Sho had always been weaker. He knew that too.

    He stared at his notebook. He had started planning out his life from then on. Marriage. Two or three kids. Maybe four, if they were so blessed. He was almost 40 now, so he figured somewhere in the next five years he’d stop being Arashi as well. Maybe become a newscaster full time. A journalist, perhaps. And run away, away, away. Away from Aiba. To never suffer. To never give in to temptation.

    He checked his phone to find a picture he had taken a while ago. It was the five of them after a concert. Dead tired, but happy. That was a couple of years ago, before he broke up with Aiba. They were so happy then, living in blissful ignorance of the pain that was going to come. Before his father died. And before Sho met her.

    Kiko was nothing but perfect. Refined, elegant, smart. But also funny, easygoing, kind. She had a nice figure, which was also a plus, of course. And she was also her chosen partner for his omiai.

    He was going to say no at first. He was going to yell it. He was going to march in and announce to everyone that it wasn’t a ‘phase,’ that he was in love with a man, and would never marry a woman. Not even if his family had never accepted it and never would. Not even if it was his late father’s wish that he’d marry the daughter of a respectable colleague of his. Not even if Sho had it all laid out since he was sixteen and the thought of falling in love, and falling in love with a man nonetheless, had never crossed his mind.

    He was going to say no.

    But he didn’t.

    Instead, he went to the meeting wearing his best suit. He had sneaked out of bed very early in the morning and had told a sleepy Aiba that he had a work-related lunch. Aiba had believed him, and why wouldn’t he? Sho had never lied to him about these things before.

    And so, with a guilty conscience and death in his heart, he had gone to see her. Because Sho knew then, and he knew now, that he was weak. And that this was his life plan. A house. Marriage. Two or three kids. Four if he was so blessed. The perfect husband. The perfect family.

    A single tear escaped his eye. He cleaned the screen of his phone with his thumb. Where would the other men be in five years?

    Jun was probably going to continue being an idol and go solo. He was made for that job. And when he would be too old to perform, he would retreat to the backstage, organising everything from behind. He was the best at it after all. He probably would marry sometimes soon so he could have kids, but Sho had no idea how that would go down.

    Ohno would probably quit and move to an island so he could fish all day. One of those quiet islands immersed in nature, so he could also paint to his heart’s content. And he would be the first after him to marry, surely. He would probably have just one kid, though, a small little rascal with a round face like his. Sho chuckled. Ohno was going to be one of those fathers who’d let their kids do anything they wanted.

    Nino had expressed the desire to become a director many times, so that was probably going to be his path. He would stay in Japan, of course, and find a wife eventually. A younger one in all certainty. He was going to have a couple of kids in his old life, if he decided to have them at all. But Sho was sure that, kids of his own or not, he would spoil his friends’ children.

    And Aiba… He brushed his face over the screen. Aiba would find some other guy. Sho always imagined him to be a bit like him, because even now he couldn’t see Aiba with anyone else that it wasn’t him.

    He shook his head and cursed under his breath. The wedding was tomorrow, and he had so many things to do still. And thinking about his ex-lover wasn’t one of them. He put his phone on the desk and buried his face in his hand with a sigh. ‘Will he come tomorrow?’ The chuckle he made was humourless. ‘Of course he fucking will.’

    He closed his eyes, troubled. For ten months now, since he had broken up with him, Sho had tried to get Aiba off his mind. And he had succeeded, for the most part.

    Sure, they still saw each other at work, but every other time he spent away from the man, he fought off the thoughts that were trying to take over. He never let himself think about Aiba’s smile, or his giggle, or the way his hand would always slide in his hair when he was distracted.

    He never let himself think about the way Aiba liked to play with his nephew, building sandcastles on the beach, playing hide and seek, pushing him on the swing. The way his eyes lit up when he could play with children. The way he himself became a child at heart.

    He never wanted to remember the way Aiba would pull him down on the floor of their living room while he was busy writing his rap lyrics, just because the younger man felt playful and wanted to annoy him a little. Or the way he would prepare a hot scented bath for him on the cold winter nights when he came home really late. Or the way he would fall asleep with his legs wrapped around him, and then would wake him up in the morning or in the middle of the night with a kiss on his neck, his hands roaming freely over his body.

    He tried to remember the way he looked when he was on top of him, his eyes darkened in abandon, the soft breaths ghosting over his skin as Sho begged him to go faster. Like in a trance, he slid his hand in his boxers and let his fingers graze his hardness. He imagined his fingers taking him in his hand, teasing him like he usually did. Lovingly, with no rush, eliciting a sigh with each movement.

    “Masaki...” he sighed.

    Prey of his own fantasy, he almost forgot that the man wasn’t really there. Aiba’s hand gripped him tighter, his soft lips pressing on his neck, sucking on it. A moan escaped his lip as Aiba’s hips started to move faster into him. He looked for Aiba’s lips, wanting to kiss him as he came, but his lover refused to meet his eyes.

    “Fuck…” Sho moaned as his hands immediately brought him to his release. He whispered Aiba’s name as his breathing calmed down.

    He opened his eyes after a few seconds. He felt the warmth on his cheeks burn with guilt. He had tried so hard to hold off his feelings for him for so long, only to fail now.

    “Fuck,” he cursed out loud.

    He got up angrily and went to the bathroom to clean himself. He stripped completely and got into the shower. He almost screamed when the ice-cold water hit his chest, but he didn’t waver. Maybe physical pain would help him get through this.

    He leaned with his forehead on the tiles, closing his eyes and clenching his fists as cold drops were rolling down his shoulders.

    “Don’t fuck this up, Sakurai,” he spat. In the shower cabin, his voice sounded louder than it was.

    ‘A house. Marriage. Two or three kids. Four if we’ll be so blessed…’




07. Pink Camellias

The truth was, he always knew.

    Every time he looked into those big eyes of his, so big that he could lose himself in them, he saw right into his soul. He knew there was fear, and pain, and sadness. And love. So much love. Too much love, maybe. It hurt, if he thought about it.

    “‘’Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all,’” he murmured.

    “Huh?”

    He smiled wistfully. “Do you know who said that, Satoshi-kun?”

    Ohno shook his head.

    “A British poet did. Lord Tennyson. In a eulogy for his friend.” He almost sighed before realising he shouldn’t. “Hey, I should be happy about this!” he exclaimed with a giggle. “Sho-chan’s finally getting married. That’s great, ne, Satoshi-kun?”

    Aiba saw the way Ohno’s gaze flickered a bit. The older man’s hand reached over to squeeze his shoulder, and Aiba almost felt like he would end up in tears in his leader’s chest. He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts.

    “I’m fine!” he said.

    Ohno snorted. “You’re such a lousy liar.”

    “Oi,” he said, a bit resented, but he didn’t deny it any further.

    They were standing in the garden outside of the big wedding hall. They were waiting for the bride and the groom to show up so they could congratulate them.

    Jun and Nino were there as well. The four of them were trying to keep their distance from the rest of the guests. Aiba because he felt like being alone, and the other three because they didn’t want to leave their friend in that time of need.

    Nino kept looking at his best friend worriedly, Jun wouldn’t stop talking, and even Ohno was grunting and talking more than usual. Aiba appreciated the thought, but he really needed everyone to act normal. Still, he smiled at Jun as he went on and on about a new hat he had bought during his brief trip overseas.

    “Jun.” Ohno put his hand on his arm to make him stop talking. All three of his friends looked at Aiba nervously, and he knew why. He turned around and saw Sho and his fiancée, soon to be wife, make their entrance. He stood up from his chair and rubbed his hands on his tux.

    As the couple walked in and they got closer, he could see the both of them better. Sho was as handsome as ever in his white tux. He hadn’t seen him in a week, and now to see him like that… It was as if the oxygen was completely cut off from the air around him, and he couldn’t breathe for a second. He almost held his chest before remembering that he couldn’t act hurt. He tried hard to stop his knees from buckling, but he was already blacking out before he hit the ground.




He was standing in the middle of nowhere.

    Everyone was probably still in the big wedding hall. He had seen the bride and had thought she was stunning. He had made sure to kiss her on the cheek before he ran out. “I’m sorry,” he had whispered to someone who wasn’t there, and he had ran and ran, until he ended up in a field of pink camellias. The sight was breathtaking, but without him by his side it felt wrong.

    He wanted to scream. But scream what? Anything. His pain. His hopes. His dreams. His love. His name.

    “SHO!” he yelled to the empty field.

    He felt a sob escape his throat. He shouted his name over and over again, hoping to get rid of his longing. But with every scream, his heart beat faster. His name rolled off his tongue like sweet honey, like a forgotten memory that made him feel alive.

    He fell on his knees, exhausted and with no voice. He thought he had no more tears to cry, but he was wrong. Could he let himself cry? No one was there. He could let himself be weak, for once.

    He lifted his head to the sky as he let the tears stream on his cheeks. The truth was, he had always known this was how it was going to end, but he never would have traded the pain he felt for anything in the world.

    “Masaki…”

    He turned around, but no one was there. His mind was playing dirty tricks on him. Making him hear his voice when he wasn’t there. Aiba bit his lip. Sho was probably married by now.

    “Masaki…”

    He heard his voice again, but this time he didn’t turn around. He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his hands over his ears.

    “Masaki, please…”

    “Stop it!” Aiba yelled. His chest was hurting too much to think straight now.

    “Masaki, wake up…”

    ‘Wake up?’ Aiba thought. ‘Wake up from where?’

    He opened his eyes and looked at the flowers in front of him. They looked real. He couldn’t be sleeping, could he?

    He tried to take a camellia from the field. As soon as he touched the flower, though, it disappeared in thin air. Slowly, one by one, every camellia vanished under his eyes.

    “Sho,” he gasped, and he opened his eyes.

    “Masaki!” Sho exclaimed.

    “Masaki-kun?”

    “Aibaka!”

    Four faces were looking at him in concern. He tried to remember where he was, but he couldn’t.

    “What happened?” he asked, looking at Sho’s red eyes.

    Sho opened his mouth to reply, but no sound escaped. He looked at Aiba, brushed his cheek, and suddenly fell on the chair next to the bed. He put his hands on his face and started crying.

    Aiba tried to get up, but Nino pushed him back down. “Jeez, Aibaka, do I have to tie you up?” he hissed.

    “Sho…” Aiba whispered. Sho’s back was trembling now.

    Aiba turned to Nino. “What happened, Nino?”

    It was Jun who answered. “You collapsed.” He looked pale and scared. Aiba felt a tinge of guilt. He made everyone worry.

    “We thought it was your lungs again,” Nino continued. “It’s not,” he added quickly. “But you’re still under observation. So suck it up and stay in bed, or I really will tie you up. And not in the fun way.”

    “M—Masaki.”

    Everybody turned to Sho, who was still crying on the chair.

    “P—please, M—Masaki, forgive m—me,” he sobbed.

    “Sho,” he whispered. Sho lifted his gaze. There were tears still rolling from his eyelashes and his nose and eyes were red, but Aiba thought he was so, so beautiful. “It’s okay, my love.” He reached out for his hand and the other man held it immediately.

    “I think we’ll wait outside then,” Ohno said.

    Jun turned to the door, but Nino stood his ground. “No.”

    Sho looked at him ashamed.

    “Nino…” Ohno started.

    “I’m not leaving Aiba with him.”

    “You yelled at him enough for today.” Ohno’s voice was calm as usual, but his tone admitted no reply.

    Nino stared Sho down for a long second. He cursed under his breath. “Fine.”

    He squeezed Aiba’s arm and looked angrily at Sho again, before reaching the other two out the door.

    Aiba waited till Sho’s breathing settled down. “Nino yelled at you?”

    Sho nodded. “He did.” He bit his lip for a second before continuing. “I wish he had punched me as well. He only kept on yelling that I am a bastard and an asshole and that I have no right to be here when it’s all my fault.”

    Aiba tried to speak.

    “No, Masaki.” Sho shook his head. “I deserved it. He was way too nice with me.”

    Aiba pressed his lips together. “You didn’t have to come, you know?”

    Sho smiled feebly, a little hurt at those words. “I was free anyway,” he whispered.

    Aiba giggled silently. “I thought you were otherwise engaged, actually.”

    Sho’s smile disappeared. “I’m sorry, Masaki.” He looked down in shame and sadness.

    Aiba felt a pain in his chest, but he knew it wasn’t physical pain this time. It had been almost a year since Sho had broken up with him. He could still remember their last night together, and he could still feel the raw pain and passion running through his veins at that time, if he thought about it very hard.

    “I never stopped loving you,” Aiba said.

    Sho spoke immediately. “I never loved anyone else but you.”

    Aiba shook his head. “Let me speak, please.” Sho nodded slowly. “Thank you.”

    Aiba sat up on the bed and turned around to look him in the eyes. “I love you, Sho. And that will never change.” Tears welled up in Sho’s eyes. “But you’re getting married.” Sho started to open his mouth. “We always knew this would happen. If it’s not now, it will be later. You will have to settle down eventually, and your family will never let you settle down with me,” he concluded. If he could, he would have cried. But he needed to be strong, for Sho.

    “I don’t care about my family,” Sho blurted out.

    He looked at him sympathetically. “Yes, you do.”

    Sho didn’t have the courage to deny that.

    “It’s okay.” He patted his hand.

    With a jerk, Sho pulled his hand away, making him gasp. “It’s not okay, Masaki,” Sho said, angrily. He closed his eyes for a second, and when he opened them again, Aiba could see that his gaze had cleared up. There weren’t tears in his eyes, just determination, and that love he yearned for so badly.

    “Before today, I thought I had lost you forever,” he said. “But when I saw you collapse I thought I was going to lose you for real.”

    Sho’s hand brushed his face tentatively. When Aiba didn’t pull away, he got closer and leaned in. He stopped when his lips were almost a breath away from his, and they looked at each other.

    “My heart won't beat without you, Masaki.” Sho's breath tickled his skin.

    Aiba’s blood rushed through his veins. “Don’t do it, if you don’t mean it,” he whispered.

    Sho’s thumb brushed his lower lip as he looked at it before looking back at him. “I know I’m weak, Masaki. But for once, let me be your strength.”

    Without a single word, Aiba pulled him down, and their lips met at last.

    As his mouth closed on Sho’s, Aiba breathed in, and finally he felt alive. He couldn’t believe he had survived all that time without the feeling of Sho’s lips on his. It was like he had been sleeping for a year, and now Sho’s kiss was waking him up, making his heart beat again.

    They broke apart a few seconds later, but Sho kept on placing small kisses everywhere on his face, all the while whispering soft ‘I love you’s with every breath. He never stopped, not even when Aiba looked at him pressing his lips together, grabbing his jacket so hard that his knuckles became as white as his tux.

    “Thank you,” Aiba whispered back, before he felt his heart swell up and he could finally let go. Sho kissed away every tear reverently.

    Sometimes, Aiba thought, it was okay to let Sho know how weak he really was. Sometimes it was okay for him to cry. So they could deal with it.

    Together.
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Rolling Days

About

Disclaimer: I don't own Arashi.
It's them who own my Soul! Soul!

Fics list (please see the masterpost for details):

~ {Ravenclaw AU} Out Loud
~ Backstage Sex (Pun Intended)
~ Ficlets batch #1 [ 1 & 2 ]
~ Amore [ 1 | 1.5 ]
~ Paradox
~ The Only Exception
~ Boy/friend?
~ Idols don't need to be smart
~ Stronger
~ マイリーダー (My Leader)
~ L is for... [#1 | #2 | #3]
~ Truth or Dare [1 & 2]
~ Operation Jeannie
~ Their Relationship & His Laugh, His Smile
~ Lemon and Mint
~ The Biggest Fan
~ Not Like That
~ Patience
~ The Shadow/Leader





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