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“You know,” Sho said the next night when he caught Aiba smelling his scented salts, “I can prepare you a hot bath if you’d like.”

He had just got back from work and had called for Aiba to tell him he was home. When he hadn’t received a reply, he had started looking for him, and had found him in his bathroom, looking and sniffing at the candles and the salts with a curious look on his face.

“Ah, I’m sorry,” Aiba said in a flustered tone when he saw Sho’s figure leaning against the doorframe while looking at him.

The man chuckled and waved his hand. “It’s okay.” He stepped in the bathroom and took one of the salts to inhale the scent. “Do you like them?”

Aiba nodded.

“I meant what I said. I can prepare you a hot bath, if you’d like to try them.”

Aiba shook his head. “I was just curious,” he said. “They smell very good.” He shot a longing look to the bottle in Sho’s hands.

Sho smiled at him. “So you’ve never tried scented salts?”

Aiba’s eyes filled with innocence and wonder. “I haven’t. I actually have never taken a bath before.”

“You’ve never taken a hot bath?” Sho gasped.

Aiba shook his head again. “I’ve always been curious, but I never got to. To be fair, I’ve never had to stay so long on earth.” He chuckled. “My charges usually accept their matches and send me on my way right after.”

Sho ignored the cutting remark aimed at him. “Then you have to take one.” He opened the tap and regulated the temperature. “Really, it’s one of the best things in life. Well, human life, at least,” he added as an afterthought.

Aiba giggled as Sho lighted some candles and then dropped some sandalwood scented salt in the water. When the tub was nearly full, he closed the tap and turned off the lights.

Jaaan,” he said, opening his arms excitedly.

Aiba inhaled the scent of sandalwood and smiled. In the dim light of the candles, his eyes seemed to twinkle. Sho looked at the god as he got closer to the tub and kneeled in front of it, observing the lights dance on the water. He felt his heart leap to his throat as the figure on the floor made a contented hum.

“This is so pretty, Sho-chan,” Aiba said, full of gratitude.

Sho scratched his neck and thanked the heavens that it was dark, so the god couldn’t see the blush that he was sure was now on his cheeks. “It’s nothing special.”

They spent a few seconds like that, Aiba looking at the water, and Sho looking at Aiba, before the man spoke again.

“There are some towels in the cupboard under the sink,” he said automatically.

Aiba hummed again.

“You should probably hand me your jacket, though. Humidity isn’t good on leather.”

Aiba turned to him. “Oh, yes, thank you.”

The god stood up and pulled off his jacket, revealing a shirt with some words written on it.

“Thank you,” he said again, and Sho made a little nod with his head.

The man turned around and got out of the bath, closing the door behind him with a click. He looked at the jacket in his arms and heaved a big sigh.

What was he thinking?

He dragged his feet to his bed and dropped the jacket there. He went to the living room, taking his tablet along to read some news while he waited. He looked at the screen with a blank stare for a while before he opened his favorite news sites. He tried to concentrate, but when he had to read the same sentence five times, he gave it up.

He placed his tablet on the coffee table in front of him and laid back on the couch with a groan. He slid his hands in his hair and stood still, thinking about things. He liked Matsumoto. A lot. But lately he was starting to feel weird around Aiba, and that upset him. He wondered why Aiba made his heart flutter when he was supposed to be falling in love with Matsumoto.

What if…

No, he cut himself off. Matsumoto was his match. Sho was sure they would be happy together. He was fun, nice, hardworking, honest… and he could cook! He was perfect for him, he was sure of that.

And yet, a little part inside of him told him that something was amiss. The spark. The joy. The intensity. There had been nothing of the sort when he and Matsumoto kissed.

He shook his head. He was being stupid again. These things didn’t happen in real life, did they? There were no fireworks to tell you you have found the one. Only love gods – apparently – and their perfect numbers telling them who to match.

Suddenly, a thought came over him. He jumped up from the couch and slapped himself on the forehead. The numbers! Aiba’s notebook had the answer he was looking for. If he saw the numbers for himself, he would be convinced that Matsumoto was the one, he was sure of that. If the notebook told him he was his perfect match, he would accept it and send Aiba away, ready to start his new life with his new lover.

He got back to his bedroom and found Aiba’s leather jacket on the bed where he left it. He patted it, and barely contained a happy noise when he felt a bulge. He knew he probably shouldn’t do it without permission, but he really needed to know. Just one look couldn’t hurt, right? With no hesitation, he slipped his hand into the jacket’s pocket, and pulled out Aiba’s little green book.

He started flipping the pages, noting distractedly that there were a lot of names. When he reached the end of the book, he found his profile.

Sakurai Sho, 35, in a relationship, advertising manager at Tabekome.

He skimmed through his life story and flipped the pages till he found what he was looking for. The last page showed his past relationships. There were pictures of his past lovers, and a brief profile. It stated their age, their current status, and their occupation. Under each profile there was a percentage stating Sho’s chance at love and at friendship with each of them.

He eyed curiously at Nino’s, and wasn’t surprised to see that their chance at love was only 5%. He noticed happily that their chance at friendship was much higher, though. 78% wasn’t bad at all, and maybe when a little time had passed Sho could try to be friends with Nino again. He had to admit he missed him and their game nights a lot.

Just under Nino’s profile, he found Matsumoto’s picture. The profile stated he was 33, in a relationship, and currently employed as marketing employee at Tabekome. Sho took a deep breath and looked at the rest of the page. There, on the bottom, he finally found it:

Chances at love: 86%
Chances at friendship: 14%


He froze.

86% wasn’t bad, was it? He thought it would be higher, because Aiba had told him Matsumoto was the best match for him, but… that wasn’t a bad number was it? It was good, it meant that he could now accept it and move on. Right?

He heard the sound of faint footsteps coming from the bathroom, so he quickly put the notebook back and tried to calm himself. He left the jacket on the bed and got out of his bedroom before Aiba could open the door and find him there.

He threw himself on the couch, thinking about what he just saw. He thought he would be able to forget every doubt he had once he saw the numbers, but everything got worse. Now that he had seen the numbers, now that he knew what the chances were, he didn’t know what to feel anymore. What if Aiba was wrong? What if Matsumoto wasn’t the one who was good for him? What if someone else was more suitable for Sho? His head hurt just thinking about it.

‘What if Aiba is the one for you?’ a traitorous voice in his mind said.

A whiff of sandalwood reached his nostrils. “You’re right.”

Sho lifted his head and saw the god drop on the couch beside him. He had his jacket back on and a relaxed smile on his face.

“Taking a hot bath really is one of the best things in life.”

Sho smiled weakly. “I’m glad you liked it.”

Aiba turned to look at him. “Wait! Don’t you have an appointment with Matsumoto-san today?”

Sho nodded. He had forgotten about it, and now, after having seen what he had, he really didn’t feel like going out with him.

“Maybe I should cancel. I don’t feel so well.”

Aiba looked at him concerned. “What is it? Are you sure you don’t want to go?”

“No, you’re right,” Sho replied automatically. “Matsumoto-kun is leaving for three days, I should see him tonight.”

He got up as Aiba looked at him curiously and went to the bathroom to freshen up. He stared at the tub from the mirror. There was still a distinct scent of sandalwood in the air that was making him dizzy.

When he had changed clothes, he made his way to the door. Aiba was leaning against the walls, waiting for him with a strange look on his face. When he heard Sho’s footsteps, though, his lips curved up in his usual beautiful smile.

“Are you ready, Sho-chan?”

Sho nodded. “I’m going then,” he said, feeling a weight on his chest at the way Aiba’s smile widened.

“Don’t come back that soon, ne?” the god said with a knowing look, closing the door behind him.


↢ ♥ ↣


He was meeting Matsumoto at some new restaurant a few blocks from his house.

He stopped right before the door and eyed the sign above his head when he heard Matsumoto’s voice coming from behind him:

“Sho-san.”

Sho turned and looked at him. He was dressed in a simple long, grey coat over combat boots, jeans, and a light blue shirt underneath. He beamed at Sho, and he couldn’t help but return the smile.

“Have you been waiting a lot?” Matsumoto asked when he got in front of him. “Why aren’t you inside?”

“I just got here,” Sho replied. “I was about to go in when you called.”

Matsumoto nodded and hesitated a second. Sho saw the way his arm moved imperceptibly, and he realized Matsumoto had thought of taking his hand. Sho smiled at him again, and gestured to him to lead the way. He could see the slight disappointment cloud the other man’s eyes, and felt guilty about it.

Without really thinking, he murmured: “I’m sorry.”

Matsumoto who was pushing the door in the front turned to look at him with a questioning look. “Did you say anything?”

Sho shook his head and stepped in to hold the door open for them.

Matsumoto told the waiter his name and they got escorted to their table. Sho let the other man order for him since he seemed to know the place. Matsumoto looked at him with a flick of nervousness as he told the waiter the order, maybe a little afraid that Sho would not like what he got for him.

After reassuring him with a smile, Matsumoto seemed to relax and they started chatting about his three-days work trip to a convention held in Osaka.

“It’s just going to be four of us going to Osaka,” he was saying, “Kamenashi and Toma from our department you already know. And then there’s a girl, Ishihara-san. Do you know her?”

“Ishihara,” Sho mused. “That fashionable girl from the art department on the fifth floor?”

“Yes, that’s her,” Matsumoto confirmed.

Sho chuckled. “Doesn’t she have a crush on you? Then again,” he pondered. “Half the building has a crush on you.”

Matsumoto groaned. “Don’t joke about that, Sho-san. Valentine’s day is awful for me. My desk ends up full of chocolate and I can never find the documents I need. I don’t even like chocolate!”

Sho laughed again. “Well, you can always swing by my desk and drop all the unwanted sweets to me, I don’t mind.”

“No way,” Matsumoto said forcibly.

Sho saw the frown on his face and quickly apologized. “Sorry, it was a joke.”

“I’m not going to let you eat that chocolate, Sho-san,” Matsumoto said with a blush. “I will make you so much chocolate to last you a week. That way you will only eat mine.”

“You’re giving me chocolate for Valentine’s day?” Sho asked, dumbfounded. “You’re making it?”

Matsumoto blushed even more. “It’s stupid, I—”

Sho interrupted him. “I’ve never had a boyfriend make me chocolate before.” Now he was feeling hot too.

In the past two years of his relationship with Nino, he had always been the one to give out the chocolate to him. Nino didn’t like sweets very much, but, to his credit, he always ate it with a little smile. When White Day would come around, Nino would reward Sho by treating him to dinner somewhere. But there was nothing romantic in the way they did things. Sho gave Nino chocolate because it was Valentine’s, it was the most romantic day of the year, and he wanted to experience that. And Nino treated him on White Day because he had to, not because he wanted to. He knew that, if given the choice, Nino would rather spend the day at home instead of going out.

And then there was Matsumoto. He had told him he was going to not only give him chocolate, but make it himself. Sho felt some kind of warmth in his heart that he hadn’t known could be there. He felt touched at the consideration, and asked himself if he really deserved Matsumoto’s affection.

“Thank you,” he said, somewhat guiltily.

Matsumoto blinked and looked away, flustered. “I still haven’t given you anything,” he said. “You never know, it could taste really bad.”

“I would like it anyway,” Sho said with a smile.

After that conversation, their dinner went on without a hitch. Sho saw Matsumoto smile when he praised the food, obviously pleased that his recommendation had been good. When the bill came, Sho insisted to pay, but the other man wouldn’t have any of it. Since he was the one who asked him out, he had said, he would pay. In the end, Sho had conceded and Matsumoto had grinned triumphantly.

They walked the street to Matsumoto’s house in silence. Sho wondered if he should take the man’s hand in his, but he was wary about it. He didn’t want people to see them, even if there weren’t that many around at that hour, and before he knew it, they had reached the building.

They took the elevator to Matsumoto’s apartment. Once outside the door, the man wrapped his arms around his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.

Sho closed his eyes and tentatively placed his hands on his waist. Matsumoto was taller than him, so he had to slightly tilt his head up to meet him halfway. He hesitated when he felt the other man wanting to deepen the kiss, but, just as he was about to pull away, Matsumoto did first.

“Do you want to come in?” he asked him, arms still wrapped around his neck.

Sho had felt the nervousness in his voice when he had spoken. They hadn’t talked about being exclusive yet, but that would seal the deal, wouldn’t it? This wasn’t something he should take lightly, yet his body didn’t seem to cooperate. His breath hitched with anticipation, his mind getting ahead of itself, making him visualize Matsumoto’s naked body pressed against his, the kisses, the lovemaking, the happiness of waking up the next morning and finding him in his arms…

But then his heart stopped as he remembered something else.

The way it felt when he had looked at Aiba that night. The way it felt when he had found out about what was written in the god’s notebook. The way he felt every time he got home to find Aiba waiting for him. Was this the right thing to do? Should he really enter that door, knowing all the implications and repercussions that were concealed behind a simple yes?

Sho gently pulled away from the embrace and put his hands in his pockets. He smiled gently at Matsumoto. “You should rest. You have an early flight tomorrow, don’t you?”

There it was again, the disappointment. Sho felt a pain in his heart seeing the way the other man nodded quietly and put on a fake smile.

“You’re right,” he said, almost emotionless. “I’ll send you a text when I get there?”

Sho gave him a nod. “Please do. Have a nice trip, Jun-san.”

“Thank you,” the other man said. He hesitated a little, but then he leaned in to leave a peck on his lips. “Good night, Sho-san.”

“Good night,” Sho said as he watched him close the door.

He walked out of the building with his hands still in his pockets. His house wasn’t far from there, so it didn’t take him long to find himself standing outside his own building.

He looked up at his apartment. The lights were off, but he saw him anyway. Aiba was there by the window, looking outside at the night sky.

As if he felt his presence, the god looked down and saw him. Sho held his gaze for a few seconds before turning around and sitting on the bench just outside the building.

He heard a rustling of leaves and a faint scent of sandalwood a moment later.

“Sho-chan?”

He didn’t have to look up to know who that voice belonged to.

“What are you doing here?” Aiba asked. “I was waiting for you, and I was thinking that maybe you weren’t…” a pause “...going to come back tonight.” He sat beside him on the bench.

Sho shrugged. He tried to say something, but what? Why am I not falling for him? Why were you made without a heart? Why do I feel hopeless, guilty, and desperate, when I should be feeling in love?

“Sho-chan?” Aiba repeated. “What’s wrong? Aren’t you happy?”

Sho gulped. It wasn’t that he was unhappy with Matsumoto. But was he happy? He shook his head.

Aiba sighed. “You’ve been weird since this evening. What is it?”

Sho took a deep breath. “Do you think maybe Matsumoto is not the right match for me?”

Aiba looked at him warily. “Did you read my notebook, by any chance?”

Sho lowered his gaze. There was no point in denying, was it? He nodded weakly.

“It said me and Matsumoto-kun have 86% of chance at being lovers,” he said. “He’s good for me, but he’s not perfect. Not a perfect match, like you said.”

The god took his hand and that made him look up. “Do you like Matsumoto-san?”

Sho swallowed. Did he? Did he like Matsumoto? He remembered the first time he had seen him. Yes, he found him gorgeous – and way out of his league, if he had to say so himself. But they both loved old movies, they both loved food, they both laughed at the same things, and even tonight, while he was having his doubts, he couldn’t help but feel at ease with him and enjoy himself. Maybe it wasn’t love yet, but it could be in time, couldn’t it?

“I do,” he murmured. “I think I do.”

“Good,” Aiba said, squeezing his hand reassuringly. “Numbers are just that: numbers. You can’t define any form of love.”

Sho shook his head. That wasn’t how it worked, he thought. Numbers were sharp, precise. He could rely on numbers for anything. Sho liked neatness and precision. He looked at Aiba’s hand still on his. He wondered fleetly what chances he and Aiba would have at love.

He placed his other hand on top of the god’s, turning it around so it was facing palm-up. He pressed one of his fingers on the wrist, hoping to feel a beat somehow. But there was nothing to be heard there, no matter how hard he tried.

Aiba slowly slipped his hand out of his, and Sho just watched as the small heat disappeared from his grip. He clasped the cold air instead, and threw his head back, closing his eyes.

“Do you think we could beat all the odds?” he asked, hesitantly.

Aiba’s voice was warm when he spoke. “If there’s anyone who can, it’s you.”

Sho looked back at him, but Aiba wasn’t looking his way. Instead, the god was staring in front of himself, one hand holding the other that was in Sho’s grasp just seconds earlier.

“Matsumoto-san will be perfect for you, you’ll see,” he added in a whisper.

Sho sighed, sensing a sharp pain in his chest. He never told Aiba that he wasn’t talking about Matsumoto, but he thought Aiba knew anyway.


↢ ♥ ↣


The next morning Sho woke up in bed with no recollection of how he got there. He faintly remembered Aiba pulling him up from the bench and in his apartment. Sho had let him drag him back there without opposing resistance. He remembered that all he had thought at that time was how things would be different if Aiba was the one he was paired with. He wondered if he’d kiss Aiba out on the streets, too in love to care about people seeing them. He wondered if he’d be taking Aiba home that night, nervous and excited about spending their first night together. He also wondered if he would ever feel that way about Matsumoto. If he’d ever kiss him while everyone was looking, instead of hiding in the dark halls of a building.

He had a very meager breakfast before leaving for work. The offices were going to be busier than ever that day, since some of their colleagues were sent off to conventions around the nation.

The whole day passed in a daze, but the positive aspect of it was that he was too busy to think. He took every report, every phone call, every document, as a bliss in disguise. As long as he kept working, his thoughts couldn’t torture him.

He was glad Matsumoto had been sent out for three days. He really couldn’t have made it if he kept finding him smiling at him from behind his desk, or bringing him coffee during their breaks. Just seeing his name when he got his text saying he got to the hotel safe and sound made him feel loaded with guilt and insecurity.

When he got home that evening, he didn’t call for Aiba. He still needed to be alone, and having the god around was not going to do anything. He needed the time to think, to understand what was going on inside his head, before he could confront him.

Aiba had told him numbers weren’t always exact, but Sho knew differently. If his chance to be with Matsumoto was that high, then why did he have so many doubts? Should he consider breaking things off? But then what? Ask Aiba to find him a more suitable partner, one with even better numbers? But what if there was no one else for him? What if 86% was the best chance Sho had at love?

The god had asked him if he liked Matsumoto, and he did, he was sure. He enjoyed his company, he loved talking about their shared interests, and going together to fancy restaurants. But he thought he should be in love by now. If a guy adores you, and he’s the best match for you… wouldn’t you fall in love?

He grabbed his tablet from his bag and went to lay on his bed. He turned it on and blinked at the page that appeared when he unlocked the device. There was something he had started scribbling during lunch break there. It was random thoughts, incomplete chunks of words. He thought about the uncertainty and the feeling of shortness of breath he felt in that moment. Words, he thought, were the only things that got him through when he was fighting with his internal turmoil.

Sho rubbed his eyes. It had been a long time since he had felt so insecure about something. He remembered his teenage days, when he was still trying to figure out his sexuality, and how the only way for him to let it all out was to turn to pen and paper.

He never thought of himself as much of a poet, but he did alright. He had a box tucked away in his closet full of completed poems, as well as incomplete ones. He had found writing the only way to free himself, and had kept every single poem in memory of that.

He looked at the finished product on the gleaming page of his tablet. He read the poem over and over in his head, but didn’t feel satisfied about it. He moved the words around, cut the sentences in strange places. Yes, he thought. Only reading this, his breath hitched, bringing out his emotions at every pause, forcing him to stop and think, but go on with his reading so that he could finish the sentence, try to make a sense of it, his heart beating unsteadily at every turn.

He closed his eyes and pulled the tablet to his heart, wondering if he should just erase the poem and get this over with once and for all.


↢ ♥ ↣


He woke up a couple of hours later without having realized he had fallen asleep at all. He stretched and heard the tablet fall on the floor.

“Hey,” Aiba said.

Sho looked up to see the god standing by the window. “Hey yourself,” he said.

The god pulled away from the window and picked the tablet from the floor. Sho closed his eyes again as he felt the mattress sink under the additional weight when the other sat down.

“What is this?” the god asked, looking at the screen curiously.

Sho’s eyes shot open and he snatched the tablet from Aiba’s hands immediately. “It’s nothing,” he mumbled.

Aiba grinned. “Let me read that!” he exclaimed, jumping forward to steal the device from his hands.

“N—no, wait,” Sho stuttered, trying to get away.

In the end though, the god was quicker – and stronger – than Sho, so he managed to grab the tablet and disappear from Sho’s grip in a whiz.

“Aiba!” Sho yelled. He grabbed the doorknob of his bedroom and ran into the kitchen. Aiba was sitting on a stool near the kitchen counter, the tablet in his hands, mouthing the words as he read along.

When the god heard Sho come into the room, he looked up with a strange expression on his face. Sho scratched his neck, flustered, and looked at anywhere but at Aiba.

“Sho-chan,” the god whispered. “This is beautiful.”

Sho let out a low groan. “Please don’t mock me, Aiba-kun,” he said, mortified.

“No, really,” Aiba said sincerely, jumping up from the stool and coming closer to him. He handed him the tablet with a solemn air. “You should show this to Matsumoto.”

Sho looked up at him. His eyes were fixed on him, a serious expression on his face that he had never seen before. He thought he would be able to read Aiba’s thoughts by now, but the more he spent time with him, the more he realized the god was more than just his smiles and his bubbly, happy-go-lucky appearance. He really couldn’t figure him out.

As Sho looked on, Aiba nudged him again, his lips curving in a gentle smile that somehow didn’t seem to reach his eyes. “I’m happy Sho-chan is falling in love,” he added as an afterthought.

Sho nodded a little. He took the tablet from his hands, and their fingers brushed against each others for a moment. Aiba smiled at him encouragingly and told him that maybe a handwritten note would be more romantic than an email. After saying that, the god giggled and went back to his seat, pulling his notebook out and checking his notes.

Sho stood on his spot for a few seconds. He looked down at the tablet, not really seeing it, but trying to think. Aiba has said he was happy, didn’t he? Yet he thought he had seen something else in Aiba’s eyes when their hands touched. Something a little too close to misery than happiness.

Without thinking, he said the first words that came to mind. “Do you like me, Aiba-kun?”

Aiba blinked and looked up. “Where’s that coming fr—”

“Just humor me,” Sho interrupted him. “If I asked you to tell me what you liked about me, what would you say?”

Aiba looked away. “Sho-chan is nice,” he said. Sho could see his fingers playing with the zipper of his jacket for a while before he spoke again.

“You like to make others think you’re cool and in control, and you always act like a leader. But I know that you have a cute side too,” he smiled gently, as if he was talking to himself and remembering something. “You make silly faces and fail a lot. You like girly things like scented salts and cheesecake, but you’re not afraid to let it show.” The god turned around. “You laugh out loud, and when you’re happy your eyes wrinkle a lot and you clap your hands uncontrollably, and I find that adorable. You’re dense, and you make a lot of mistakes when it comes to your love life,” he shook his head affectionately. “But that’s good, because you have me.”

Sho’s throat felt dry all of a sudden. He moved closer and sat down beside him. “You haven’t told me what you like,” he croaked.

“I like everything about Sho-chan,” Aiba said.

Sho let his hand wander on the kitchen counter. Slowly, looking at Aiba’s eyes, he brushed the god’s fingers with his. Aiba’s gaze didn’t budge, and that gave him the courage to take his hand in his. He got up from the stool and inched closer. The god remained still, watching Sho’s lips part a little. The man stopped when they were so close that he could feel their hot breaths mixing together. He licked his mouth, and felt Aiba’s hand tighten around his, pulling him in imperceptibly. Sho’s head was spinning from the closeness, his heart beating like mad, his palms sweating and making him uncomfortable. He looked into Aiba’s eyes and saw him look back, the uncertainty and the desire mirroring his own. He closed his eyes, ready to taste the full lips that were right in front of him…

“Sho-chan,” Aiba whispered on his lips. “Your phone is ringing.”

Sho opened his eyes and saw the god pull away. He felt his hand slip out of his, and that seemed to break him from his trance. He looked around, trying to locate the sound, before remembering that it was in his pockets.

“Hello?” He answered without looking at the caller ID.

“Hi,” Matsumoto’s voice replied.

Sho looked guiltily at Aiba. “Jun-san.”

He saw the god flinch slightly at the mention of his name. Aiba got up from the stool and left the kitchen, leaving him alone.

Sho leaned against the counter and dragged his hand on his face.

“Is this not a good time?” Matsumoto asked. “I can call later if you want.”

“No, it’s fine. Sorry, I was distracted for a second.”

“Long day at work?” Matsumoto said, sympathetically.

“Yeah, you could say that,” Sho commented wryly. “How about you? How’s the convention?”

Sho heard Matsumoto laugh. “Oh, you would love it here. All we did today was eat. I’m pretty sure I gained five pounds already.”

“I’m glad it’s going well,” Sho said distractedly.

“Are you sure it’s okay to talk? You sound weird.”

Sho sighed. “I’m sorry. I-- maybe you’re right, I’m not completely in it right now.” He heard Matsumoto hum in agreement. “Can I call you tomorrow?”

“Sure,” the other replied. Sho wasn’t sure why, but he thought his voice sounded weird. “Please take care of yourself, Sho-san.”

“I will, thank you.” He paused a second, unsure what to say.

“Goodnight then,” Matsumoto said.

“Goodnight,” he said back.

He hung up and stared at his phone, looking at it accusingly. If it hadn’t ringed, would he be kissing Aiba now? His heart skipped a beat at the thought, but his head hurt from the confusion.

He went to the sink and got some water on his face. What the heck is wrong with me?

He put his phone back in his pockets and carefully stepped out of the kitchen and into the living room. Aiba had apparently found an old book of his on oil paintings and was now flicking the pages without much interest.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

Aiba didn’t look up. “What did Matsumoto-san say?”

“He’s fine,” Sho replied. He looked at his feet and shifted his weight.

“Things should be fine between you, shouldn’t they?” Aiba said, dryly. “Doesn’t he make you happy?”

Sho hesitated for a second. “He’s great,” he admitted.

“Then why won’t you just say it?” Aiba hissed, shutting the book violently. “Are you happy?” he asked, looking at him in the eyes.

Sho looked back and saw the anger swirling inside him. He opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out.

Aiba growled in frustration, but when he spoke he didn’t sound angry. If anything, Sho could feel his voice break a little. “You know, when I was assigned to you, they told me you said you’d be giving up on love the night of your birthday. I couldn’t let you do that, I thought. I would help you in any way I could and you’d believe in love again.”

Sho hesitated. He took at step forward. “It’s not-- it’s complicated now, Aiba-kun.”

“Love is not complicated,” Aiba said. “It shouldn’t be. If it’s complicated… if it hurts, then it’s not right.” He shook his head. “It can’t be right.”

Sho clenched his fists. “Sometimes… sometimes love can be complicated. And that’s what makes it worth it.”

Aiba turned to look at him. “We’re not in a romantic movie, Sho-chan,” he said in a dry tone that sounded so wrong on him. “There are no star-crossed lovers in the love business. Our matches are calculated for a reason.” He lowered his eyes. “I see that now.”

“Don’t say that,” Sho said. “You said numbers aren’t important, didn’t you?”

Aiba’s gaze wavered. “I get it now,” he said. “I get why love gods don’t have a heart. It’s so we can’t get carried away by sentimental stuff.”

He only turned briefly to look at him before he vanished.


↢ ♥ ↣


The next day, he went to his office as usual, but he found it impossible to concentrate this time. He was still swamped with work, but somehow he couldn’t focus on his task that morning. Every time he tried, the scene from last night kept coming back to him.

He didn’t know how to feel. He was a hundred percent sure by now that he had some sort of feelings for Aiba, and he was almost sure he had them too. Still, he was seeing Matsumoto, and even if they had only been dating for a couple of weeks, he still didn’t want to treat him unfairly.

Then again, Aiba couldn’t love him, could he? And even if he could, Sho wasn’t sure how things could even work. Maybe the best thing to do was to let Aiba go, and try his best with Matsumoto.

He got home that night still thinking things over. He had declined Matsumoto’s call when it came, and had sent him a text instead, telling him he was in a meeting and couldn’t answer, when he was really in his office. He would talk to him the next day when he got back from his trip.

He shuffled his feet to the living room, hoping to find the god there, but he noticed soon enough that the room was empty.

“Aiba-kun?” he called tentatively.

Sho cleared his voice.

“I know you can hear me. Please come out?”

Silence.

“It’s okay,” he said to the empty room. “I don’t need you to talk, just to listen.” He stared at his hands and played with his fingers. Despite his false confidence, he wasn’t sure Aiba was really listening. Maybe he was just yelling at an empty room like an idiot. “I’m sorry about yesterday, alright? I realize that keeping you here is selfish of me, so if you want I—I will just let you go, okay? I’ll say I’m happy, and you can go and do your job elsewhere, and I’ll do my best to really make things with Matsumoto work without your help. I promise.”

“Stupid.”

Sho turned around to face the god. “I know I’m just being selfish. I—I’m keeping you here even if I’m very happy with Masumoto,” he said.

“I don’t want you to lie to me, Sho-chan,” Aiba said, his tone warm. “But I think you really do make a good couple. If I’m here, you won’t be able to…” he gulped and stopped.

“I like having you here,” Sho said.

“And I like being here,” Aiba replied with a sigh. “But that’s precisely the problem. You… you need to get on with your life, and I need to get on with my job.”

Sho looked at him guiltily. “I guess I really am stupid, am I?” he chuckled nervously.

Aiba’s gaze softened. “It’s alright. That’s one of the things that I love about you.”

Aiba’s eyes widened and he looked away biting his lip. Sho stared at him, his hand clutching his arm, unsure of what to do.

“Do you--” he started. “Do you want to watch a movie together?”

Aiba seemed relieved at the question. “A romantic movie?” he asked, hopeful.

Sho chuckled. “Oh, right, love god. Romantic movies must be your thing.”

Aiba grinned and clapped his hands gleefully. “Then I’m lucky I’ve been assigned to the hopeless romantic that you are.”

Sho lightly slapped him on the head and headed to his bedroom, with Aiba trailing behind him. He had a shelf full of DVDs right above the television in the living room, but he had some in his room as well. That spot was reserved for his personal favorites.

“How about this one?” Aiba said, pointing at it.

Sho tilted his head to read the title. It was a foreign movie from the early ‘00s. “‘The Wedding Planner’?” He unconsciously rubbed his ear. “Yeah, I really think you’ll like it.”

They didn’t even make it past the first ten minutes before Aiba started to attack him with questions about the protagonists and the story. (“Ne, Sho-chan, do they get together in the end?” “Just watch it, it literally just started.” “But does it have a happy ending?” “Aiba-kun…”) Sho thought he would feel irritated after a while, but he was surprised to realize he only felt more and more entertained. Aiba jumped on the bed, moved around a lot, and talked to the television. By the time they got to the ending, he was completely mesmerized by the movie and would shush Sho even though he wasn’t speaking.

“So,” said an amused Sho when the credits rolled. “Did you like it?”

Aiba nodded enthusiastically and smiled. “I loved it!”

Sho put the DVD on the shelf and returned to the bed. Aiba was spread on it with a pleased expression. From the way he was lying, Sho could see the god’s shirt under the leather jacket. He narrowed his eyes, trying to read the yellow writing on it.

When Aiba noticed his gaze, he stood up and took off his jacket, revealing his pink shirt. Sho tilted his head. ‘Amore’ was written in Latin alphabet on one of the sides.

Aiba pointed at his shirt. “Do you like it?”

Sho squinted as he tried to remember something. “Amore,” he said. “Love? Is it Spanish?”

“Italian,” Aiba corrected him. “It’s my rank.”

Sho’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean by that?”

“Well,” Aiba threw himself on the bed next to him. “We – all the love gods, I mean – we all get a ranking depending on how many couples we get together. I’m rank Amore,” he said, proudly. “It means I’m very good at my job,” he added for Sho’s benefit, blinking at him.

Sho laughed. “Were you trying to wink?”

Aiba pouted. “That’s mean, Sho-chan. Laughing at me while I’m nothing but nice to you.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He patted him on the back, still laughing quietly. “So, there are other ranks?” he asked.

Aiba’s eyes sparkled with excitement. “Yes! The lowest rank is Philia, those are the gods of friendship. We all start out the same, you know? I’ve created a lot of great friendships over the years.”

“Wait… Did you ever do me?”

Aiba chuckled. “Sorry, I’ve been in the love business for a while.”

“How old are you exactly?” Sho asked, curious.

“Older than you for sure.”

“No way! You look my age!” Sho exclaimed.

“It took me more than 35 years to get to my rank,” Aiba mused. “And I’ve been Amore for more than that too, so even my rank is older than you.”

“So you’re just some old man sneaking into people’s houses to hug them under the covers?” Sho asked, faking disgust. “Gross.”

“I only do it with the cute ones, though,” Aiba said, adding another failed wink to his words, making Sho snort.

They fell on the bed, laughing together. Sho felt a bubble of happiness in his chest. Aiba was fun to be around, and he made him feel like himself. He had never felt happier about having someone in bed with him to just laugh and talk with in his whole life.

“I have to work hard,” Aiba said after a while. “To reach the highest rank, that is.”

Sho turned around to look at him. The god was looking at the ceiling, his hands laced over his chest. He turned around too, and they looked at each other.

“What’s the highest rank?” Sho felt his voice say.

A single word left Aiba’s lips. “Ai.”

Sho nodded. The Japanese word for selfless love. “And how do you reach that?”

Aiba turned on his side to look at him better, and Sho mirrored him. They were so close now, that he could feel the air move when Aiba spoke. “You have to pair up a couple that was meant to be together. True love,” he said with admiration in his gaze. “100% compatibility. They’re incredibly rare, though. There’s only a handful of gods with the Ai rank.”

“Do you--” Sho hesitated. “Do you think I have a chance at true love?”

Aiba smiled sympathetically. “I hope you do. I was a little harsh yesterday. I really do believe love is not about numbers. Maybe some people are just meant to be together, despite not being 100% compatible,” he said encouragingly.

“Can you check anyone’s compatibility with me?” Sho asked.

“Of course,” Aiba replied. “I just have to write their name in the relationship page, and the numbers will appear.”

“Just out of curiosity…” Sho lowered his gaze. His heart was beating like crazy from the nervousness. “Have you ever tried putting yourself in there?”

Aiba eyed him curiously. “I haven’t,” he said, looking away. “It would be useless, wouldn’t it? I can’t fall in love,” he said bitterly.

Sho’s fingers twitched. He grabbed the sheets and tugged on them to stop himself from reaching to Aiba. “But you can try,” he said.

Aiba glanced back at him. Sho’s expression betrayed his expectations, and he knew that. He tried to make himself look more neutral, but he couldn’t stop thinking that maybe the numbers would add up, maybe Aiba was his true love somehow.

The god sighed and pulled his notebook out. He made a pen appear out of the air and flipped the pages till he found Sho’s relationships page. He shot a nervous glance at him and bit his lip.

“I don’t want you to have any expectations about this,” he whispered.

Sho didn’t reply. His fingers closed on the sheets more tightly. “Go ahead,” he said.

Aiba waited a second before putting the pen on the page. With a flourish, he wrote his name on the book. The ink sparkled gold and the letters transformed, seemingly typing themselves on the page. Immediately, Aiba’s picture appeared, and it looked like an invisible hand was writing his profile.

Aiba Masaki. Age unknown. No relationship status. Love god (rank Amore.)

Chances at love: 0% - no bond possible
Chances at friendship: 0% - no bond possible


Sho felt the disappointment wash over him. He let go of the sheets and looked away, unable to face Aiba.

“I’m sorry, Sho-chan,” he heard him say. His tone seemed resigned.

Sho closed his eyes for a second. “Let’s sleep.”

Aiba sat up. “I will see you tomorrow, then.”

“Wait.”

It was barely more than a whisper, but Aiba seemed to hear him. Sho looked up at the god.

“Please, stay a little longer.”

Aiba’s eyes clouded with hesitation for a second. Then, without a word, he nodded and laid back on the bed.

Sho turned off the bed-side lamp and got under the covers. On his right, Aiba did the same.

For a while, they stood there, silent, their light breathing filling the room. Sho was lying on his side, looking at Aiba, who was lying on his back. Suddenly, the god turned around and found his eyes on his. Like they could read each other’s mind, Sho got closer to Aiba while he turned to his side and let himself be lightly hugged by the man from behind.

Sho fleetingly wondered if Aiba could feel his heartbeats resonating through his body. He felt his breathing accelerate a little as he thought about his hand resting on the god’s waist. His head was hurting, emotions swirling inside of him, making him lightheaded and unsure about everything. He wanted to stop thinking for once. To just feel.

He pressed himself closer to Aiba’s back. He felt the other stiffen a little, but Aiba didn’t push him away, not even when Sho brushed his nose on his nape. Gently, Sho pressed his lips there, leaving a small kiss. He felt the skin on Aiba’s nape shiver with goosebumps, and he trembled as well. Sho’s arms tightened around Aiba’s waist, pulling him closer. He couldn’t stop the soft groan that escaped his lips when Aiba’s hips accidentally brushed against his pants.

“Sho-chan,” Aiba said, almost breathlessly.

Sho didn’t reply. He ducked his head and pressed his forehead on the god’s back.

Aiba’s hands came to hold his, gently disentangling himself from his embrace. He made to get up, and Sho clang onto the hem of his shirt hesitantly, knowing that it wouldn’t be enough to keep Aiba from going away, but hoping against hope that it would make him stay.

He felt the god’s hand on his, making him loosen his grip on his shirt. But to his surprise, Aiba didn’t disappear, didn’t let his hand go. He laid back on the bed, keeping his hand in his, looking intently as their fingers bent to fill the space between their knuckles.

Sho’s eyes never left Aiba. The pale light of the moon illuminated his delicate features, embracing him in a soft light that made him look beautiful and pure. With a flicker of fear in his gaze, Aiba looked up.

“Are you happy, Sho-chan?”

Sho didn’t answer. He used the hand that wasn’t holding Aiba’s to brush a strand of hair away from the god’s face. He tugged at Aiba’s hand, and inched closer, till he could feel the heat radiating from the other’s body. The tips of their noses brushed, not quite touching, and Sho saw Aiba’s eyelashes flutter, making his heart jump. Slowly, he closed the gap between their mouths, pressing his lips against Aiba’s plump ones.

It was a chaste kiss, a declaration of love. Not hasty, not impatient. He felt his lips tingle with a strange buzz, his heart whisper a sweet melody. He heard the fireworks in his head, the rush in his body. He had never felt so happy, so safe, so loved. Everything he’d ever hoped for, every dream, every wish, everything was in that kiss. It tasted like joy, like romance, like life. It wasn’t quite like a drug yet, but he felt like he could become addicted to it. Like now that he had tasted heaven, he couldn’t turn back.

0% had said the notebook. But how could a kiss feel like that, then? How could one single moment of brushing lips tell him that the numbers were wrong, and that his instinct was right? That maybe that 0% was supposed to be something else? That maybe it was his chance, their chance, at true love?

Aiba pulled away, still holding his hand. They looked at each other longingly for a second before the god lowered his gaze and snuggled himself against Sho’s chest, pressing a ear to his heart, grazing the spot with his fingers, maybe hoping he could catch a beat with his bare hands.


↢ ♥ ↣


He was in love.

Sho jerked awake. His eyes were wide open, his hands were clutching at his covers, and his breath was completely unsteady.

He should have known, Sho scolded himself. He damn well should have known. He was complicated, and impossibly romantic, and stupid when it came to love. Of course, he thought irritated, he would fall in love with… well, love.

He turned around, expecting to see the god by his side, but he noticed with a little disappointment that he wasn’t there. He pressed the palm of his hands over his eyes, trying to get the memory of the previous night out of his head. His lips tingled as he remembered the way Aiba’s fit on his when he kissed him. He couldn’t help but feel a smile appear on his face, and an elated giggle escaped his throat while his heart started pumping faster.

Shit.

He was in love with Aiba, and he had no doubts about it now.

He got out of bed and went to the kitchen, his head still dizzy from the sudden realization. He thought he would feel terrible about it – Aiba’s notebook had told him they had no chance at love after all – but he felt wonderful instead. He and Aiba had kissed, and it had been amazing. And then he had hugged Aiba and had kept him in his arms, and it felt like that was the place where they both belonged: one in the arms of the other.

He poured himself some leftover coffee and then thought better of it. He couldn’t drink, or eat with all the butterflies in his stomach fluttering about. He felt like a stupid teenager with a crush, but he couldn’t help feeling giddy and excited.

His phone rang with the sound of an incoming text. He looked around for it and found it on the coffee table. The name on the screen made his smile disappear a little. It was from Matsumoto, letting him know that he would be back that night.

Sho felt a little guilt sting his heart. He needed to break things off with Matsumoto, and he felt bad about it. He really did believe they could have been great together, but now that he had finally realized that he loved someone else, he needed to let him go.

He replied to the text asking him if he needed to be picked up at the airport. He would take him home and let him rest. He would tell Matsumoto everything the next day.


↢ ♥ ↣


He picked up Matsumoto that night after work.

He carefully avoided being spotted by the others as they all came out from the building. He didn’t want them to get any ideas, especially since he was going to break things off with Matsumoto the day after.

When the man spotted him, he nodded discreetly, and left his group to reach the car. Sho smiled gently at him when he opened the door and sat beside him.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi. How was the flight?” Sho asked.

Matsumoto leaned on the seat and closed his eyes. “It was good, but I’m so tired.”

Sho chuckled a little and patted his head. “It’s okay, you’re back home now.”

Matsumoto blushed and stole a glance at him. “Thank you for picking me up. You didn’t have to, you know?”

“It’s nothing,” Sho waved him away. He started the car. “So, was the convention interesting?”

The man yawned. “I exchanged a lot of business cards. And there were loads of free buffets, so there’s that. But interesting…” he grimaced “if you can call a convention on boats interesting.”

Sho made a small noise in sympathy, and let Matsumoto tell him about the last three days for the whole trip back.

“So,” Matsumoto said when Sho had stopped in the driveway. “Here we are.”

Sho fumbled nervously with his seatbelt. “Can we see each other tomorrow? Maybe for a late breakfast, early lunch thing?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks,” he said with a weak smile.

Matsumoto opened the door. “Sho-san,” he said before getting out. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”

Sho flinched. Slowly, without looking away, he nodded.

“Good,” the other man said with a wistful smile. He pushed the door open and got his suitcase from the backseat. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” he said with a perfect wink.


↢ ♥ ↣


When Sho opened the door to his apartment, the first thing he noticed was that the lights were on.

He felt a rush of adrenaline and suddenly felt nervous. Just as he had gathered the courage to step in and call out to him, he heard Aiba’s voice come out from the living room.

“It’s going well,” he was saying. “I think it’s going well. I found a great match for him.”

Sho tiptoed his way to the room. Who was Aiba talking to?

“I know you disapprove of my methods, but it’s gonna work, you’ll see! They’re good for each other, Koi-san.”

Sho stood in the hallway, peeking from the half-opened door. He saw Aiba’s figure sitting on the sofa, his notebook spread in his lap while he was looking at the couch, talking to someone that Sho couldn’t see from his position.

And yet, try as he might, he not only couldn’t spot anyone, he also couldn’t hear the question that was obviously posed, to which Aiba replied with a:

“He... he hasn’t said he’s happy yet.”

Sho’s ears perked up. ‘He’ was him, Sho, wasn’t it? He had no doubts about that. Aiba had asked him time and time again if he was happy with Matsumoto, but Sho had never known how to answer that. Because Aiba had told him that he was tied to Sho for as long as he didn’t get his wish fulfilled, and if Sho was hesitating to let go of Aiba before, after the previous night he knew that he never wanted him to go away.

“What are you talking about? I’m always happy!” Aiba’s voice chirped with too much enthusiasm.

Sho’s heart broke a little when he heard the hint of sadness in his tone. Aiba wasn’t happy, was he? Did he not want to stay with Sho anymore? Did he want to go back to his friends, pair other couples? Or maybe… a small part of Sho couldn’t help but wonder ‘is he just unhappy that he can’t be with me like Matsumoto is?’

He looked at Aiba on the sofa. The god had closed his notebook and was now staring at the floor, biting his lip. Sho saw the grief in his eyes, and had to fight with himself to not rush to his side, take his face into his hands, and whisper that it was going to be okay, that Aiba had him, that he would never let go, that they would be happy together.

“He kissed me.”

Aiba’s voice sounded far away when he said that. His eyes seemed glassy now, and Sho grabbed the hem of his shirt so tightly that he was sure his hand would break.

“Something felt...” Sho held his breath, waiting for Aiba to complete the sentence “…wrong.”

Wrong.

Sho’s heart stopped beating for a second, feeling the betrayal of that word washing over him.

Wrong.

He couldn’t believe his ears.

Wrong.

Sho brushed his fingers to his lips. There, just hours ago, Aiba’s lips were making his whole body react in ways he had never felt before. The way Aiba had pressed his mouth to his had taken his breath away, and had made his heart drum with a new rhythm he had never known till now. He had thought Aiba had felt it too. How couldn’t he? How could it feel so wrong to him, when to Sho it felt so--

Right.

“I will. Thank you.”

Sho remained pinned to the wall outside the living room. He felt himself shaking with misery, anger, and fear. Was he just being a complete idiot as usual? Was he just imagining things? The casual brushes, the longing looks, the wistful sighs. Was it only in Sho’s mind?

He slid a hand into his hair. Aiba had hated their kiss. Aiba had said it felt wrong. He looked heartbroken when he talked about it. And Sho, stupid Sho, thought he had found it at last.

The stuff of fairytales.

The one in a lifetime.

True love.

He felt so stupid at the thought now. Just because Aiba had made him feel good, and wonderful, and whole, it didn’t mean they were destined to be together. He fought every single fiber of his being that was telling him otherwise. Numbers, he thought, were right. Numbers had told him he and Nino could never be lovers, that they were only at 5% of compatibility. Numbers had told him Aiba and him could never be together. That Aiba and him had 0% chance. He was stupid to think he could go against hard logic.

‘But even if you and Matsumoto have 86% of compatibility, you still don’t love him,’ said a voice in his head. ‘Does that mean he’s not your soulmate either?’

He shook his head. He was being stupid. He and Matsumoto were perfect together, weren’t they? Once Aiba was gone, Sho would have no one to distract him from loving him any more. Matsumoto felt good. He felt right. Matsumoto was the one for him.

With renewed strength, he peeled himself from the wall and ran to the door. He didn’t stop, not even when he heard Aiba’s voice gasp in surprise, calling his name.


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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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