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Title: Of Wishes, Gods, and True Love
Pairings: Sakuraiba (Sho/Aiba), Sakumoto (Sho/Jun), Sakumiya (Sho/Nino – past/mentioned)
Genre: AU, Fantasy, Angst, Romance, Friendship.
Rating: R
Summary: When Sho decides to give up on love, someone decides to help him believe in it again.
Disclaimer: Arashi don't belong to me. If Aiba is really a love god, can he please fall in love with me?
A/N: written for the lovely [livejournal.com profile] piggywhale for the 2016-2017 [livejournal.com profile] shoexchange, here. I'm reposting the story from the exchange as it is - with a couple of corrections, since typos are my weakness, it seems. Clicking on "Next" will bring you to the next story in the series. To navigate between parts instead, click on "Part #" at the end of the page.
This fic contains a poem. When you read it, you should try to mind the spacing: if I did my job right, you should feel out of breath while reading it.



Of Wishes, Gods, and True Love | Next →



It was his birthday and Sho had no one to spend it with.

He looked at his phone, stiffening a little when he came acrossthe last picture he took of his boyfriend.

Ex-boyfriend, he reminded himself bitterly.

He stared at the package on the table and opened it hesitantly. In it was the birthday cake he had ordered for tonight. He had planned to let his boyfriend treat him to dinner, and then when they’d get back to his place they would open the cake. But then Nino had to go and break up with him a month ago, and Sho had forgotten all about the cake. It was only when he received a call from the shop that day, reminding him to go and pick it, that he remembered.

And things wouldn’t be so bad if he had someone to share his cake with, but his family was all the way back in Chiba while he was in Tokyo. To be fair, they had offered to come visit, but Sho had told them that it wasn’t necessary, thinking that he was going to get a whole day with his lover, doing things his family probably wouldn’t have approved of.

He scoffed.

Instead, it was his birthday and he was alone, with a stupid birthday cake he had ordered from the best bakery in the city, just because his boyfriend had mentioned in passing that he wanted to try the sweets there once, but he never bought any because they were too expensive. He even booked it months in advance to be sure to get it. What an idiot.

Sho was what you would define as a hopeless romantic. He believed in red roses, love letters, confessions under the stars, kisses under the mistletoe – the whole shebang. But he was also a complete idiot when it came to love.

Every relationship he ever had was either wrong – like those first few years of his life when he convinced himself that he liked girls – or a complete and utter disaster – like his last boyfriend. And his only other boyfriend before that.

Sho put the cake in the fridge and poured himself some coffee instead. His most recent relationship had lasted two years, but only because neither him nor Nino were the types to break up with their partners. Still, his ex and him were completely incompatible, so in the end he got dumped anyway. He didn’t even know why they started this mess in the first place. Or, well, he did know, and we’re back to point one – he was a hopeless romantic – and back to point two – he was a complete idiot.

He had to admit he wasn’t even in love with Nino. He was just in love with the idea of being in love. He knew he should probably be relieved that his relationship ended since things were going so badly, but Sho still couldn’t let go of the fact that he was going to spend yet another birthday all alone.

He sipped on his drink and grimaced. Maybe he should get accustomed to the bitter taste. Even if you add sugar to coffee, it won’t stop being bitter. He sighed and spiked his drink with liquor. At least now the burning in his throat would stop the coffee from tasting bad. And from there it wasn’t long before he just ditched the coffee and went straight for the alcohol.

“That’s it!” he said loudly to the empty room. “I’m giving up on love forever!”

He brought his bottle back to his room, where he drank away his loneliness. It didn’t take long before he was drunk and completely miserable. He fell asleep just a couple of seconds before midnight, a soft whisper escaping his mouth.


↢ ♥ ↣


Sho woke up the next morning with a pounding headache.

He groaned a little and extended his arms to his left side. His body moved closer to the figure sleeping beside him, wrapping against the warmth under the covers. He made a satisfied noise when he felt a pair of hands clasp behind his back, pressing closer to him. He smiled a little and placed a kiss in the man’s hair.

“Nino,” he grunted when he felt the figure chuckling silently in his arms. “Please stop moving or I’m going to be sick.”

It took him about four seconds after that to connect the dots in his foggy head. This couldn’t be Nino. Nino dumped him, and he certainly wasn’t all tall and skin and bones like the person he had in his embrace.

He jerked awake and pushed the stranger away. Bumping his elbow on the headboard, he sat as quickly as possible and found himself looking at a man laying on the other side of his bed, a fit of laughter shaking his body.

Sho panicked. What was a stranger doing in his bed? And how did he get in?

The guy’s laughter faded and he sat up. Sho observed as he smoothed down the black leather jacket he was wearing over a pink t-shirt and jeans. After a while that they had looked at each other, one with a scared expression, the other with an amused one, the stranger pouted a little. “You said you wanted to give up on love. I can’t let you do that.”

Sho looked at him in disbelief. A weird guy just broke into his home, snug under the covers to hug him, and now he was telling him he didn’t like him giving up on love? He needed to call the police right away. Or maybe the asylum.

He tried to calm down. If he was a madman, he needed to play along for the time being. “What are you talking about?” he said, just to buy some time. His eyes scanned the room carefully, trying to locate his phone. Maybe he could send an S.O.S. text to Nino and have him call the police without the crazy guy realizing.

The man smiled. “I’m here to make you believe in love once again.”

Sho scoffed. “Is this a candid camera?”

The other guy looked genuinely confused. Sho sighed. No cameras. He really was a madman then.

“Alright, who are you then?”

“My name is Aiba Masaki,” the man replied earnestly.

Good, Sho thought. Now that he knew the name of the crazy guy, he could get Nino to check with the asylums if a patient had escaped.

Aiba giggled. “You know, Sakurai-san, you’re a weird man.”

If Sho hadn’t been terrified out of his mind, he probably would had laughed at that. The crazy guy was calling him weird. That looked like the beginning of a very bad joke. And how did the guy know his last name? He really wanted to know it, but he was afraid of the answer. “How so?” he asked, instead.

Aiba waved his hand. “You don’t need to be scared of me. And, even if Ninomiya-san called the police, they wouldn’t find anyone but you here.”

Sho gulped. How did this Aiba guy know about Nino and what he was planning to do? “What do you mean?”

Aiba lifted Sho’s pillow. Under it, was his mobile phone. Sho whined internally when Aiba picked it up before he could reach it. Then, without a word, the man got closer and draped an arm around Sho’s shoulders, with the phone in front of them.

“Say cheese,” he said before taking a picture of them.

Sho blinked in confusion. He eyed the phone carefully, wondering if he should try to grab it or just make a run for it and leave the guy in his home. But then Aiba handed him the phone and he took it, wary, but relieved.

But that hint of relief was short-lived. When he looked at the screen, he felt a scream die in his throat, and his trembling hands almost dropped the phone.

“Tha—that’s impossible,” he stuttered.

He was looking at the photo the man had just taken, but instead of showing the two of them, there was only a terrified looking Sho in the shot. The other guy was nowhere to be seen.

Sho looked at the man even more terrified than before. Madmen he could handle. They were flesh and blood after all. But ghosts? He wasn’t sure how to deal with that.

The man reached out for his arm, and Sho backed away, falling out of the bed in the process. He hit his head on the floor and let out a cry in pain. His hand shot to the back of his head to check for injuries. No blood, but his headache certainly didn’t benefit from that fall.

He felt a pair of strong arms lift him up, and for a second he forgot who they belonged to. He sat up on the bed again while the other guy looked at him, waiting. Sho covered himself up to his chin, somehow believing that that would be an impenetrable barrier for the ghost. Then a thought crossed his mind.

“Wait a second! I touched you. You feel real. How are you a ghost?”

“I’m not a ghost, Sakurai-san,” the man reassured him. “I’m more of what you would call a spirit guide. I’m very much real. See?” He reached for Sho’s cheek and pinched it to make his point.

Sho whimpered at the contact. If the guy wasn’t a ghost, then maybe he was hallucinating? Could he still be drunk? Or had he gone crazy all of a sudden?

“Okay, let’s say I believe that,” Sho said, trying to come to terms with the possibility of having to spend the rest of his days locked up in some institute. “Why are you here?”

The guy leaned in to look into his eyes in a conspiratorial look. “Yesterday was your birthday, and you said you wanted to give up on love.” His eyes betrayed his sadness at those words, like he was seriously heartbroken that Sho could even think that. “And then before the day ended, you made a wish. Do you remember what the wish was, Sakurai-san?”

Sho looked back into the other’s eyes. They were brown and warm, and he felt something in stomach move at that sight. He looked down and shook his head.

The other’s voice became very serious. “You wished for love.” He smiled. “And I’m here to help you find it.”

Sho looked up, incredulous. “So are you like… my guardian angel?”

He chuckled. “I’m not an angel, and I’m certainly not yours exclusively. I’m more of a…” he gestured with his hands, measuring his words “…a god, you know.”

Sho arched his eyebrows. “A god of love?”

He giggled at that. “Yes, a love god, to be exact.”

This whole situation is bonkers, Sho thought. He stared at the figure sitting in front of him. He was looking at him expectantly, legs crossed and arms grabbing his own feet, leaning forward. He looked really happy and thrilled at the prospective of helping him find love. But his eyes were what convinced him in the end. They were sparkling, pure and honest, and a small, hopeful part of Sho, the part that still believed in wishes upon falling stars, couldn’t help but wonder ‘what if any of this is true?’

He scratched his ear and heaved a sigh. “So… how do I call you?” he asked. “Aiba-sama?” He wasn’t sure how one should address a god, or spirit guide or whatever that strange being was. Even if he was probably just hallucinating or insane, politeness always came first to Sho.

“You can call me whatever you want,” the other chirped.

“Well, then,” Sho looked around embarrassedly. “How about Aiba-kun?”

Aiba clapped his hands with delight. “Perfect! And I’ll call you Sho-chan, then,” he sentenced.

Sho was taken aback by the use of his first name. “Are all love gods this… – he didn’t know what word to use. Informal? Over-excited? Batshit crazy? – …intense?” was what he decided to settle for eventually.

“Ah, Sho-chan,” Aiba said while getting up. “I think you might find I’m pretty different from your usual god of love.”

Sho followed Aiba to his kitchen. Once there, the god leaned against the kitchen counter. Sho eyed him, a little embarrassed.

“Uhm, do you-- do you eat by any chance?”

Aiba shook his head. “I don’t need to eat. Or drink, or sleep, or go to the bathroom, for that matter.”

Sho gave a nod of understanding. “Do you mind if I...?” He gestured at the coffee machine.

Aiba smiled. “Please, go ahead.”

Sho shuffled his feet to the cupboard, pulling out the coffee and sugar. He stole a glance to his right and saw that the god was looking at him intensely, observing the way he was placing the coffee powder in the filter, watching his every move. He had to admit it was pretty embarrassing to have an audience while he was making something as mundane as coffee. Whenever he had someone over from a night in, they would never stare at him like that in the morning. Stare at his ass, maybe. But not at his hands as he nervously fumbled with the powder and somehow managed to make a mess of everything. He cleared his voice, making Aiba jump.

With an amused yet shy smile, Sho opened his fridge looking for something to eat. He felt like having some eggs with rice, but he was all out of eggs and eating rice by itself was just too sad. He stared at the cake he had stuffed in the fridge the previous night and sighed while taking it out.

“So,” he said after he had placed his coffee and a slice of cake on the table and had motioned for Aiba to join him. “What’s going to happen now? Are you going to pull out a magic bow from your… – ‘ass’ was what he wanted to say, but maybe that was too rude of him and he didn’t want to be rude to a magical being with unspecified powers – …uhm, from the air and shoot arrows at the first guy I point?”

Aiba blinked. “Why would I want to shoot arrows at some guy?”

Sho laughed at his clueless face. “Man, you really don’t get references, do you?”

Aiba’s eyes shimmered with glee when he heard Sho laugh. “You have a pretty laugh,” he said matter-of-factly.

Sho blushed a little at that. “Uhm, thanks,” he said, taking a sip of his coffee to dispel the awkwardness he felt.

“No arrows, Sho-chan, but you’re right,” Aiba grinned. “We’re going to use a little bit of magic.”

The god reached in his leather jacket and pulled out a green notebook.

“What’s that?” Sho asked, trying to look at the pages as the god placed the little book on the table.

Aiba looked up distractedly. “Oh, this? It’s my notebook. It helps with my job.”

“Hey, that’s me!” Sho exclaimed when he saw what was written on the page. He strained his neck as he read out loud. “Sakurai Sho, 35, single, advertising manager at Tabekome. What the hell?”

Aiba waved his hand. “I have a profile of all my charges. It tells me things like education, background, past relationships, favorite food, favorite position in bed, and stuff.”

Sho choked on his coffee. “F—favorite position?”

Aiba shot him a grin but didn’t comment further.

“So…” the god started. “First of all, we need to find out why your relationships so far have failed.”

Sho sighed. He really didn’t want to talk about his past relationships. They’ve all been kind of bad, and reminding himself that he was dumped every single time really didn’t do much for his self-esteem. “What’s there to say? My relationships with girls clearly failed because I’m not attracted to them. While those with guys…” he scratched his neck “well, I’ve only been with two guys so far, and the first dumped me because he said I never paid attention to him, while the my last boyfriend…” he stopped and pondered about it “I just guess we didn’t have much in common, really.”

Aiba made a noise. “Have you ever talked it through, when you broke up?”

Sho shrugged. “It just sort of… happened. One day he just said we weren't working anymore, and I actually agreed.”

Aiba looked at him sympathetically. “Do you still have feelings for him?”

Sho shook his head. “I don't. God, no.” He chuckled. “It's weird, you know? We've been together for two years, but he still felt like a friend.”

Aiba nodded. “Well, I think you should go see him anyway. Talk to him before you can move on.”

Sho fell silent. Talk to Nino? He could do that… maybe. He didn't know how his ex would react if he saw him after a while, but Aiba insisted so much that he had to promise that he would go.

After a long day at work, all Sho wanted to do was to throw himself in his bed and not think about anything. He had almost forgot about the crazy love god vision until he found Aiba waiting for him at home. He only had time to change out of his suit before he was dragged out of his house by the over-excited god.

When he had first met him, Nino was working at a restaurant, and moonlighting as cashier at a conbini. He claimed that working in the kitchens of a four star restaurant had spoiled expensive food for him forever, so he often ate cheap fast food and bought microwavable dishes. Not much later, he had quit his job and had bought a game shop downtown. He had told Sho that his dream had always been to become a game programmer, but his parents, who were both chefs, had already decided his path for him. When he started managing the game shop he told Sho he was considering going to college to get a degree in computer programming, which he did when they started dating. Still, Nino liked managing his own shop, so he would spend most of his time there. He said it would cut the costs of having to hire someone to do it for him, but Sho knew that, despite his antisocial behavior, Nino loved to recommend games to people too much to give it up.

He saw him at his usual spot, and he felt some old feelings resurface. He never really loved Nino that way, he had always known that, but they had been friends before being boyfriends, and he did spend the last two years of his life having a romantic relationship with him. He had grown to love him in some way – maybe not as a lover, but certainly as more than a friend.

“I don't think he'll be happy to see me,” he whispered to Aiba, who was poking him in the side to make him go talk to him.

“I think he needs this as much as you do, Sho-chan,” he replied, and pushed him a little.

Sho stumbled in his feet and shot him a dirty look. When he saw the encouraging smile Aiba gave him, he took a deep breath and walked to the counter. Nino didn’t lift his head even when he got there, but Sho knew it wasn’t because he had seen him. Nino was always acting this way with costumers. He was simply too mesmerized with his games to bother looking up.

“H—hey,” Sho said.

Nino didn’t look up, but a hint of recognition in his eyes and a slight twitch of his left index finger told Sho that his ex-boyfriend had heard him.

“How…” Sho started and stopped in the same instant.

He looked over his shoulders. Aiba was mouthing a ‘go ahead’ a few steps from them. Sho wondered why he wasn’t talking, since no one there could see or hear him. He sighed and tried again.

“How are things, Nino?” he blurted out before he could change his mind.

Nino scrolled his shoulders.

Sho held his hands together and stared at them. “Are—are you… I mean, things… with us—”

“We’re not getting back together, Sho,” Nino said in a dry tone.

“No, I know,” he said. “I just wanted to talk. Just talk.”

Nino paused his game to look at him. Sho smiled tentatively.

“Tonight at the usual place. Your treat.”


↢ ♥ ↣


The usual place was a fast food down the road from Nino’s apartment, on the corner of the street.

That had been the place where they had met, six years ago. Sho had just wandered there one lonely night, and he had asked Nino if he could sit with him since every table was already occupied. Nino, who was busy eating his burger, had scanned him from head to toe before nodding.

Sho pushed the door open and saw him sitting at their usual table. There was already a burger in front of Nino, and an hot dog waiting for him at his seat, with two servings of fries and drinks.

“You remembered my order,” Sho said when he got to the table.

Nino nudged for him to sit. When Sho had taken his place, Nino pushed a box wrapped in brown paper across the table.

“What’s this?” Sho asked, looking at the box that was being pushed into his hands.

“Your birthday present.”

Sho laughed. “And here I thought you had broken up with me because you didn’t want to spend money on my present.”

Nino snapped his tongue.

Sho unwrapped the box and opened it. It was full of scented candles and bath salts. “Wow, this is great, Nino,” he said, picking up a cinnamon candle and sniffing it. “Thank you.”

Nino placed his chin on his hand and looked at him. “You still love those right?”

“Yeah,” Sho smiled at him. He placed the box on the empty seat beside him. He scanned Nino’s face while he was picking up his burger. Behind his glasses, he had dark circles under his eyes. Sho imagined he had spent the previous night gaming online.

“Have you been eating?” he asked, concerned. Nino had the habits of not eating if he was too busy playing.

Nino scrolled his shoulders.

“How's studying?”

“Good,” he replied distractedly.

Sho watched him take a bite of his burger and turned his attention to his hot dog. They ate in silence until Nino broke it again.

“So, you seeing someone?”

Sho coughed. “I’m not,” he said, flustered. “We just broke up.”

Nino pierced him with his eyes and Sho shuddered. He always thought Nino could see into his mind. “You show up out of the blue and ask me how I’m doing,” he said. “You either want to get back together—”

“I don’t.”

“—or you want to see how I’m doing so you don’t feel guilty about moving on,” he concluded. “And we didn’t just break up, it’s been a month already, and the relationship was over even longer before that.” Nino finished his burger and rubbed his hands clean. “Who is he?”

“There’s no one, honestly,” Sho replied.

Nino arched his eyebrow, making him sigh.

“Okay, this is going to sound crazy…” he begun. “When I woke up today I found a strange man in my bed…”

Nino whistled. “Sakurai Sho, having a one night stand,” he said with a smirk. “Didn’t think you had it in ya. I’m impressed.”

“That’s not it,” Sho blushed. “That man turned out to be a god of love or something. He’s like a cupid, but without the arrows. And without the diaper,” he added.

“A cupid,” Nino repeated.

“Yes, he told me he was going to help me find love.” Now that he had started, Sho couldn’t stop. He realized how crazy he must look to Nino, but the words kept coming out. “He has a notebook with my whole life on it, you know, like where I grew up, how many pets I owned, what’s my favorite food and stuff like that. He said the book will help him finding me a match, but he suggested I should talk to you first, settle things before I could move on.”

“You have a love god on your shoulder?” Nino asked him with a raised eyebrow.

“I know how it sounds,” Sho said, raising his hands in front of him defensively.

“Do you?” Nino asked. “Have you gone completely mad, Sho? Or is it some ploy to make me pity you so we can get back together? Because that’s not going to happen.”

“I don’t want to get back together,” Sho repeated, exasperated. “I was awful to you, wasn’t I?”

“Well, we did okay as friends, but as lovers… we weren’t made for each other, I guess.” Nino took his glasses and started cleaning them. “Then, can I meet him, this cupid guy? God knows I have shitty luck in love too. No offence,” he added.

Sho shook his head. “No one else can see him but his charges.”

Nino put his glasses back on and stared at him for a few seconds. Then, he pushed his plate away and stole some fries from Sho’s dish, despite still having some on his.

“Did he find you someone yet?” he asked, interest mixed with incredulity.

“Not yet,” Sho said.

Nino frowned. “You worry me, Sho-kun.”

“I imagine we will find out soon if this is all in my head or not,” Sho chuckled nervously. “If I’m not dating or married by next month, you’re free to call the asylum on me.”

Nino’s lips thinned. He picked another fry and ate it without saying a word.

When they were both finished with their food, Sho got up to pay. When he pushed the door of the fast food, he found Nino waiting for him outside.

“So…” he said.

Nino put his hands in his pockets. “Look, I meant it, I don’t think we ever worked as boyfriends,” he kicked an invisible rock on the ground, “but if you need anything, as a friend, just give me a call, okay?”

Sho nodded. “I agree. And likewise.”

“I hope you find your soulmate or whatever,” Nino said.

Sho smiled weakly. “Thanks, Nino.”

His ex huddled himself up in his jacket and left making a two fingers salute.

Sho watched him go, feeling his chest somewhat lighter. He shivered and pulled the collar of his coat up against the cold wind.

“Did you two have a good talk?”

Sho turned around. Aiba was standing beside him, watching Nino walk away.

“Didn’t you listen in?” Sho asked.

Aiba smiled. “I had a feeling you might want to keep things private between you two.”

Sho nodded. “Thank you.”

They walked together to Sho’s place in silence. Sho thought over his relationship with Nino and sighed inwardly. Thinking back on it, he rarely was there for Nino at all. They only saw each other on the weekends when Sho didn’t have to work, and they only did some things out of obligations and expectances instead of love. In the end, he was grateful to Nino for having the courage to break up with him.

When they got inside the apartment, Sho looked at Aiba a little embarrassed. Even if he could accept the thought of a love god being sent to help him out, he still wasn’t sure what he should do about it.

“So,” he said, avoiding the other’s gaze. “What now?”

Aiba sat down on a chair in the kitchen and showed him his notebook. “Now we find you a match.”

Sho sat down in front of him. “And how do we do that?”

Aiba hummed. “I will just run some names by the notebook. People you know, people who live close to you, and such. There are some exceptions, of course, but usually your match is someone you already know,” he explained.

Sho thought about those words. Someone he already knew? He didn’t know that many men who were into men. But then again, they could just be very private, like Sho was. Being gay wasn’t something that was so easily accepted by everyone, after all.

“And then,” Aiba continued, “after I pair you up, I will ask you a question.”

“What question?”

Are you happy?

Sho blinked. “And then what?”

Aiba smiled. “Then I will disappear and leave you with your newfound partner and let you live with him happily ever after.”

Sho made an unconvinced sound. He thought back to Nino. What if he never found someone to be happy with?

As if he had been reading his thoughts, Aiba placed a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry, Sho-chan, I will help you find love. I promise,” he said with a warm voice.

Sho acknowledged his words with a nod.

“You should go sleep, shouldn’t you?” the god said, looking at the clock on the wall behind him.

Sho ruffled his hair. He was tired, and he had to go to work the next morning. “Yes, I probably should,” he convened.

He dragged his feet across the floor and changed in the bathroom. When he dropped his head on the pillow, he heard Aiba chanting a “good night, Sho-chan.” He tried to say it back, but he was already drifting to sleep.


↢ ♥ ↣


“Sho-chan!” Aiba’s voice pierced his ears.

Sho rolled over in his bed with a grunt, his eyes still closed and his mind still foggy.

He felt Aiba’s finger poke him on the cheek, and he slapped the hand away unsuccessfully. He tried to protest, but all that came out was an unintelligible groan.

“Come on, Sho-chan. You know what they say: the early bird catches the worm!”

Sho grunted in reply.

Aiba giggled. “Do you want me to go away?”

Sho nodded and pulled his covers up his head.

“Oh I see,” Aiba said. “That’s too bad, really.” Aiba was keeping a casual tone. “Giving up now that I found you a match…”

Sho pulled his covers down. He looked at Aiba, who was holding his notebook and was looking at him with a smirk on his lips.

“What?” Sho asked, his tongue still half-asleep in his mouth.

Aiba sat on the bed. “He’s a romantic soul like you, he loves music, reading, food, cuddling on the sofa while watching old movies, long walks on the beach at sunset…”

Sho snorted. “What’s that, a tinder profile?”

Aiba looked confused for a moment.

Sho waved his hand. “Never mind.” He felt his excitement rise. Aiba had found him a partner already! Was he going to be his true love? “Tell me about him.”

Aiba smiled, pleased to see that Sho was finally showing some interest. “You need to go to work, don’t you?” he said. “You go do your job, and I’ll do mine. I’ll tell you who your match is very soon, promise.” He smirked and vanished, leaving the man hanging.

Sho protested weakly when the god disappeared, but got up to get breakfast anyway. He tried not to feel too excited about the news. Aiba could still just be a weird trick of his mind, after all.

He got into his car and drove to the company building, parking on the same spot he had parked at for the last eight years. He made his way to the elevator holding his badge out for security, bowing and greeting everyone he knew.

He reached his floor with a yawn and headed for his office. But when he unlocked the door, he saw that someone was already occupying his spot at the desk.

Sho panicked and closed the door behind him in a rush. “What are you doing here?” he hissed, lowering the shades.

Aiba twirled on the rotating chair. “You know no one can see me, right?”

“Yeah, but they can see me talking to an invisible someone and I don’t want them to know I’ve lost my mind.” Sho dragged his hand on his face.

Aiba giggled. “You still think I’m not real?”

“It would be easier to believe you’re not a figment of my own imagination if others could see you, you know?” Sho said, frustrated.

He dropped on the small couch near the door and stared at the god.

“So, what are you doing here?”

Aiba grinned and got up from the chair. “I said I would introduce you to your match soon, didn’t I? Well, I say introduce… you already know each other,” he said.

“Wait, what!?” Sho exclaimed. “Is he here!? In this building!?”

The god nodded. “In this department actually.”

Sho’s eyes widened impossibly. Who could it be? His mind wandered back to the possibilities. There were a couple of guys he always thought weren’t straight, or at least swung both ways. There was Kamenashi, who was rumored to have a boyfriend, even though Sho had seen him with a woman with long black hair from time to time; and Okada, who wasn’t exactly subtle with him, grabbing his butt every time he saw him. He always thought it was done in jest, but now…

“Did you figure it out?” Aiba said, looking at him with an amused expression.

“Is it Okada Junichi?”

“Hmm.” Aiba squinted his eyes. “Would that be your type?”

Sho thought about it. The guy did okay in the looks department and he was fun enough as a friend. However, as a boyfriend… Sho had to admit he didn’t see exactly what they could have in common.

“Well, you’re the expert here…” he eventually said, diplomatically.

Aiba chuckled. “Don’t make that face, Sho-chan, it’s not him.” He moved closer to the shades and used two fingers to create a slit so he could peek outside. “You’re close though. It’s another Jun.”

Sho made a confused face. Another Jun? The only other Jun he knew was Taguchi Junnosuke from accountancy on the second floor, but he was not in his department – and was already married anyway – and Matsumoto Jun from across the hall.

“Matsumoto?” he asked, dumbfounded. “But Matsumoto is straight.”

Aiba, who was still looking outside, turned to face him. “You’re really dense, aren’t you?” he let go of the shades and sat down with him.

Sho blinked a few times. “What do you mean?”

Aiba rolled his eyes and took his notebook. “The poor guy has been pining after you for three years now,” he read. “He found out about your preference for men last year, when he saw you eating out with Ninomiya-san. Also, remember the necktie incident?”

Sho nodded. The necktie incident happened a few months ago, when he had a meeting with a big client and someone spilled coffee on his tie by accident. He had asked his assistant to go find him a clean one before the meeting, but when he got into his office he had found a brand new tie waiting for him on his desk. No one ever knew who put it there, but thanks to that stranger he could make it to the meeting in time.

“Wait, that was him!?”

“Yup.”

Sho’s face fell in shock. Matsumoto had liked him for so long and he never noticed? He thought back to his relationship with him. He was always polite, which was something Sho appreciated a lot, and always took care to serve him drinks and food when they went out with everyone after work. But if there were times Sho had thought Matsumoto had a soft spot for him, he quickly forgot it when he saw the way he interacted with the girls who were always throwing themselves at him. He always interpreted his gentle smile to them as interest, but now he thought he was probably just being a gentleman.

Aiba patted his knee. “Are you okay?”

Sho turned around. “Yeah.” He got up, and sat down again. “Yeah, I’m fine. I just-- Matsumoto-kun likes me,” he said, matter-of-factly. “What do I do?” He turned to Aiba with a lost expression.

The god couldn’t help but laugh. “I’m sorry, but you should see your face right now.”

“Aiba-kun,” Sho groaned. “The guy is seriously out of my league. Are you sure he likes me? He doesn’t even seem into men.”

Aiba gave him a small nod. “Trust me,” he said in a confident tone.

Sho scoffed. “Trust the crazy vision?”

Aiba rolled his eyes.

“So what happens now?” Sho asked against his better judgement.

“Now you’re going to ask him out.”

Sho’s eyes popped. “Are you crazy? I can’t do that.”

Aiba ignored him. “There’s a bakery right around the corner of his apartment that he goes to. You will tell him you’ve been meaning to try it and you will ask him out there. He’ll say yes, trust me.” And with that, he pushed him out of the door.

Sho looked around. People were starting to come in and settle at their desks or in their offices. He made his way to Matsumoto’s office, looking warily behind his shoulders.

“Boss,” he heard a voice call him.

“Ah, yes, Yamashita-kun.”

Yamashita handed him some papers. “This is the storyboard for the Kirin commercial. If you could look it over.”

Sho took the drawings. “Yes-- I’ll look at them later,” he said. “Could you leave them in my office?”

As soon as the man was out of sight, Sho knocked on Matsumoto’s office.

“Come in,” came the voice.

Sho took a deep breath and pushed the door. There was a man in a coat standing by the desk, pulling some papers out of his bag. “Matsumoto-kun.”

Matsumoto seemed surprised to see him. “Ah, Sakurai-san,” he replied with a small bow.

Sho examined his face. He was handsome, there were no doubts about that, and if Sho had known he liked him, he would have done something about it earlier. He also had a good fashion sense, he noted, and always wore clothes with various shades of white or blue. He never met with him outside of work apart from a few times when they’d both been out for a drink with other colleagues, but he suspected he was an interesting person. And Aiba had told him he liked to cook, which was something that definitely appealed to Sho.

“...to discuss about?” he was saying.

Sho blinked as he came back to reality. “I’m sorry, I was distracted. Could you repeat that?”

Matsumoto smiled a little and nodded. He started taking off his coat and his scarf. “I asked you if there was something that you wanted to discuss about my last report.”

“Oh,” Sho said. “Right, your report.” He scratched his ear and tried to remember. “No, everything was good, you did a great job.”

To his surprise, Matsumoto seemed flustered at that compliment. “Thank you,” he said.

Sho gulped. Maybe Aiba hadn’t been wrong. Maybe Matsumoto was really into him. It was time to find out if this thing was just in his mind or not, he decided. Now or never.

“So, listen,” he begun, trying to sound casual, “we have half the day off today, right?”

Matsumoto nodded. “Because of the servers’ maintenance. I was surprised when they told us we’d be getting time off.”

Sho pressed his lips together, hesitating. “Do you have plans this afternoon after work?”

The man looked at him curiously and shook his head.

Alright, here goes nothing. Sho took a deep breath.

“Because there’s this bakery that sells amazing pastries and I always thought about trying it but I never went and since I know you like trying out new food I thought we could go together but you don’t have to say yes if you don’t want to,” he said in one breath.

Matsumoto looked at him with an expression that seemed a mixture of shock and worry, and Sho felt his face become hotter with each passing second. It was over, he had done it. Matsumoto wasn’t gay, and now he was going to yell at him for being crazy. He would possibly file for sexual harassment too, who knows? And Sho would have to get some medical tests done to see if he was ill or just crazy.

Then, surprisingly, Matsumoto let out an embarrassed laugh and looked away. Sho realized he had stiffened when he felt his shoulders relax.

Matsumoto looked back at him with a shy expression. “I would love that, Sakurai-san,” he said, a blush appearing on his cheeks.

Sho couldn’t believe his ears. He let his mouth hang open for a few second before clearing his voice and pulling himself together.

“Then I’ll see you after work?” Matsumoto said, busying himself with a pile of documents on his desk to avoid looking at him.

Sho nodded. “I’ll wait for you in the hall,” he heard himself say.

Matsumoto shot him a fleeting smile and he stumbled his way out.

He ran to his office and closed the door behind him, pushing his back against it.

“I just asked Matsumoto out,” he said, incredulous.

Aiba, who was sitting on the couch, giggled silently.

“I just asked Matsumoto out,” he repeated, this time in a high pitched voice.

Aiba stood up and went to pat him on his shoulder. “Still believe I’m not real?”

Sho turned to look at him with a terrified expression.

No, this was definitely real.


↢ ♥ ↣


“What if he doesn’t come?” Sho hissed to the invisible figure beside him.

“He has to go home sooner or later, so he will definitely have to come down at least,” Aiba said.

“Yeah but what if--”

“Sho-chan,” the god interrupted him. “We’ve been at it for the last ten minutes. Calm down, will you? People are starting to think you’re crazy,” he added, pointing at the two receptionists, who were whispering and looking at him with a worried expression.

Sho straightened himself and gave them a little nod. The receptionists seemed startled at that, and they both lowered their gaze and pretended to be busy.

Aiba giggled a little and elbowed him in his ribs. Sho let out a sharp hiss and turned to him with an angry expression, but the god just pointed at something in front of him.

Sho saw Matsumoto getting off the elevator and jumped from his seat nervously. He felt his palms getting very sweaty all of a sudden, and his head started playing different scenarios, including one where Matsumoto himself was a ghost of his imagination and he would wake up in the hospital and find out he was in a coma the whole time.

“Sakurai-san,” the man greeted him.

Sho felt hot all of at sudden. “Matsumoto-kun,” he said. “Nice to see you.” He tried very hard to ignore Aiba cackling at his awkwardness. “Shall we go?”

Matsumoto nodded and lowered his gaze. Ah, cute, Sho thought. He had never noticed Matsumoto could be this shy. He was normally very confident and outgoing. He wasn't used to this new side of him.

They walked together, with Aiba on tow, to the parking lot. Since Matsumoto had used the subway, they agreed that they would take Sho's car to his apartment, and then walk to the bakery.

The whole time in the car, Aiba would tell Sho about Matsumoto's interests so that they could make small talk. Sho soon found out that the other man loved good food, and loved to cook, and had gone as far as taking cooking lessons when he was younger.

“How come didn't you become a chef?” he asked him later, as they were sitting at a table in the bakery.

“My parents thought I should be pursuing another kind of career,” Matsumoto said with a shrug.

Sho nodded, sympathetically. “It was the same for me,” he said, bitterly. “My parents had this whole plan laid out for me.”

Aiba had left as soon as they had gotten in the shop, and Sho had found it easier to talk to Matsumoto from then on. He was genuinely interested in the man, and even if he had still felt nervous during the ‘date,’ he had slowly started to warm up to him.

Still, as they walked together back to Matsumoto's apartment, he couldn’t help but wonder... what did he see in him? They maybe had a lot in common, yes, but he only knew that because of Aiba’s notebook. He didn't understand why the other man had carried a torch for him for so long.

“Sakurai-san?” Matsumoto called him.

“I don't get it,” he mumbled.

“Sorry?”

“I mean, why do you even like me?” he blurted out without thinking.

“Well,” he started. “You’re professional, hard-working, outspoken and reliable. And you can also be funny and outgoing. Plus, I love to see you eat.” He chuckled, a bit embarrassed.

Sho flushed. “Sorry.” He scratched his neck. “You know, you're so earnest. I would have probably freaked out if you had asked me that all of a sudden,” he said with a chuckle.

Matsumoto joined in.

“So…” Sho started.

“So,” repeated Matsumoto. “I had fun.”

Sho smiled sheepishly. “Me too.”

“We should do this again sometimes,” the other said. “If you'd like,” he added quickly.

Sho nodded. “We should.”

Matsumoto waved him goodbye and got inside the building. Sho waited to see his silhouette disappear before he turned back and started walking to his place.

He thought he wouldn't see Aiba till the next day, but he was apparently wrong. He pushed open the door to his apartment and found him standing there, evidently waiting for him.

“Welcome back!” Aiba yelled.

Sho let out a – very manly and totally not high pitched – scream that made the god laugh so hard he ended up in tears.

“What are you doing here!? Geez, you scared the hell out of me,” Sho said as he clutched his chest.

Aiba calmed down and pulled him to the couch to sit him down.

“How did it go?” he asked excitedly. “Isn't he perfect? Are you happy? Aren't you in love? When are you moving in together?”

Sho's eyes popped. “Calm down,” he stuttered. “We just went out once. We didn't even kiss.”

Aiba seemed a little disappointed at that, but his expression changed immediately. “It's okay, I just know this is going to work,” he said cheerfully. “So I guess that means you're not happy yet? Do I get to stay on earth some more?”

Sho felt strangely numb. There was something at the back of his mind that he couldn't fully recall or comprehend, but he found himself nodding at Aiba's words.

The god thought about it and seemed to decide he wasn't totally displeased with the situation. “Great,” Aiba said. “You know, I've never stayed on earth more than three days at a time. This is weird.”

Sho groaned. “Not as weird as having a love god in your house, I can assure you.”

The god smiled. “It’s not going to take long, you’ll see. You’ll be falling for him in no time.”


↢ ♥ ↣


It had been almost two weeks now.

He had gone out with Matsumoto three times, and he had made it a point to kiss him that night when he brought him home, a development both the other man and Aiba seemed to be happy about.

When he got back after his date, he found Aiba waiting for him with an expectant smile. He had sat him on the couch and had demanded to know about their night, almost squealing when Sho told him with a blush that they had kissed.

It’s just that to Sho, that kiss wasn’t right. He thought, being a perfect match like Aiba said, there would be something more to sharing a kiss with Matsumoto. Instead, their lips had just met awkwardly, and maybe a little drunkenly, and it had felt nice after a while, yes, but not… wow.

“Say, Aiba-kun,” Sho begun, “are you sure this is going to work?”

Aiba looked at him questioningly. “Why do you say that?”

Sho sighed. “Matsumoto-kun is nice. He even brings me food at work now. It’s just that…” How to explain it? It’s just that when we kiss it doesn’t feel right? “I don’t know if it’s… well, love.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Aiba reassured him. “He’s a perfect match for you. My notebook is never wrong.”

“Have you ever fallen in love?” Sho asked abruptly.

“Me?” Aiba stuttered. Sho could see a faint blush appearing on his face for a split second. He was about to say something when Aiba spoke again, looking at him with emotionless eyes. “I can’t fall in love.”

“What do you mean you can’t?”

Aiba didn’t reply. With the same blank expression, he grabbed one of Sho’s hands and put it on his chest.

Sho looked at him in confusion before he realized something. “I can’t hear your heartbeat.”

Aiba smiled wistfully. “I don’t have a heart. None of us do.” He let go of Sho’s hand. “It’s so we don’t fall in love with our charges.”

Sho nodded, shocked. Wasn’t it a bit cruel, that a god of love couldn’t fall in love? “Have you ever wondered what it’s like?”

“Oh I know what it’s like!” Aiba chirped with what sounded as fake excitement to Sho’s ears. “Your cheeks flush, your palms get sweaty, your heartbeat quickens, your body produces more adrenaline and dopamine, and your tummy gets all funny.” He laughed.

Sho looked at him to study his expression. He heard the sadness in his laugh, and recognized the same feeling in his eyes. “That’s just a physical reaction though,” he said. He placed his hand over his chest, where his heart was. “When you’re in love you feel it here. And here,” he touched his temples. “You can only think about that person. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep. You can’t see anyone else in the world, because your eyes are full of that person and that person only…”

He took a long breath as Aiba held his in anticipation.

“And when you kiss…” Sho continued “…the whole world stops, and you wish you could melt in that instant.” He stared intensely at the god. “And when it’s true love, you know it because a kiss is better than chocolate, better than a fireplace in winter, better than a child’s laugh. There’s fireworks, and angels singing, and bells…” he lowered his gaze, suddenly embarrassed by his own words. “Or at least that’s what I imagine it to be,” his voice trailed off.

Aiba chuckled warmly. “Has anyone ever told you you’re a hopeless romantic, Sho-chan?”

Sho laughed a little at that. “Yeah, I’ve been told quite a lot actually.” But never as a compliment, he thought to himself.

“I like it,” Sho heard Aiba say with seriousness in his voice. He looked up, and he was sure that he had seen something different in the god’s eyes in that moment.

Noticing the way Sho was staring at him, Aiba instinctively backed away a little. His serious expression changed into a contented grin on his face. “Being romantic is good. Matsumoto-san is really lucky to have you.”

And with that, he started looking at his notebook, making excited comments on romance and how many people secretly wished for it, and repeating how Matsumoto was the perfect match for him.

Sho listened in silence, nodding casually here and there. He was still thinking about Aiba’s revelation. He didn’t have a heart, so he couldn’t feel love. And yet, there was something in the way he had looked at him earlier. Something that, if he didn’t know better, he would call affection.
 

Part 1 | Part 2 →
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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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