Pairing/Genre: Aiba/Jun, resolved angst
Word Count: 3205 words
Summary: You know exactly what you're doing, but you don't want to know why, until the day it slaps you in the face.
Notes: Written for jentfic_remix, originally posted here; remix of maiaide's beautiful What If. It is completely nerve-wracking writing from such amazing source material. I hope I didn't fuck it up too much. Thanks to trivialaffair & xplodey_di for their hand-holding and spacetiger for cheering me on even though she doesn't like JE.
You're not sure when it happens, or why, but you turn around one day and everything has changed. You didn't always go out so often; you preferred a quiet night at home with a glass of wine and a good book to endlessly flowing liquor and boring conversation, but now you're out almost every night, fingers slipping across hems of skirts and whispering scandals against ears. The whole scene makes you nervous deep down inside, but you don't listen to your nerves - you never have, they make you weak and you wouldn't be where you are if you shied away from things that made you nervous. You drown them with alcohol and stave off the comedown by bringing girls home with you. You don't wonder why you're doing it, but that's because you distract yourself any time you hear the question creeping into your consciousness - more often than not with a passionate kiss or a deeper thrust.
You're an idiot, because you know what it's doing to him but you don't do anything about it.
You know he's said something when the others start giving you strange looks. Sho's the most obvious, but he's never been subtle about anything, least of all his concern, and you pretend not to notice (because you're better at that than anyone else) and go about your business. It throws you off, though, and you bring someone different home the next three nights in a row, just to show how completely unaffected you are by your own behavior. It's a childish, counter-productive thing to do, but you do it anyway, and your moans are louder and the headboard bangs into the wall harder than before. You know he can hear, but you do it to make a point.
This isn't about you, the deep moans and ragged breaths say, this is what I want and you can't stop me.
The mornings change around you after that; you can feel it in your bones. He wakes up before you now, when you used to be the early riser, and it feels like he's waiting. He watches as you make your breakfast and morning coffee, and you can feel his eyes on you, hitting you right at the top of your spine and it gives you a headache. It's not that you can't stand people's eyes on you, but you know what's behind the look and it's accusing. It says, what are you doing, Jun? Who do you think you are? and it echoes the things in the shadows that you've been avoiding. You hate it, so you leave earlier than you need to every day, shaking off the uncomfortable feeling as you walk to the train station.
But the hardest thing in the world is to ignore Aiba Masaki, and you should have known that when you started trying.
"It's not just you in this," Nino says one day, curled in Ohno's lap and playing with his hair. You're the only other person in the green room and you'd been ignoring them, reading over the outline for the show you're about to shoot, so Nino's voice cuts through the companionable silence like an intrusion. You don't know what Nino's talking about for a moment, but when you meet his eyes there's a depth of seriousness that only means one thing. You raise your eyebrows and play innocent, but you're not sure if you want to placate or provoke him. "If you fuck with Aiba, I swear you're going to regret it," he says, extracting himself from Ohno's lap and leaving the room before you can even ask for clarification.
Ohno fixes you with a penetrating gaze until you look at him. "Aiba's the closest one to you, you know."
It's true, you realize, even though it's more literal than emotional, and you can't help but notice all the things Aiba knows about you now that he's moved in. They show up like bacteria under an ultraviolet light: the various sleeping pills in your medicine cabinet, the empty bottles of wine under your sink, the copy of the Kama Sutra with your DVD collection, the stash of low-quality microwaveable meals in your freezer, the wall of family photos hidden in your laundry room. Aiba knows more than you ever thought he would, and while revealing these details didn't bother you before, it's when you feel his eyes on the back of your head every morning that you wonder how far his judgements stretch.
You're just looking for reasons, though. It would be easier if it wasn't just the sex that has him in a tangle.
But Nino's words echo in your mind even louder. The words were clear, but what he said between the lines is more damning and you ignore it. Something's wrong, and you could take your guesses but it makes your head spin. So you put it down to Aiba being a bad housemate; he knew before he moved in that you were sexually active, so what the fuck is his problem? You're content to be angry about it, because anger cuts and stings but it doesn't have the same dull ache as the alternative.
Still, you can't stop yourself from thinking forever, and eventually a little spills over.
"Masaki, what's wrong with you?" The question explodes from you one morning, though your voice sounds level enough in the air around you and it sends a shiver down your spine. Your fingers grip into the mug tighter as you wait for his answer; you're not sure you really want it, but you're waiting for it anyway. He lies through his teeth and tells you it's nothing, and you could throttle him. The truth would have been better, you think, and push him a little to see if he breaks. He doesn't, though he looks as though he might vomit, and you give up too easily. You see right through the lie, but your cowardly streak kicks in like it does every morning and you excuse yourself to go to work instead.
You don't want to hear as much as he doesn't want to speak, and it works out. For a while.
Winter creeps through the windows and under the door, but it doesn't stop you. You still go out, still bring a string of nameless, faceless girls home, and the sex provides moments of release you've come to rely on more on than you'd imagined. You thought you'd have gotten sick of it by now, but by the time the holidays are upon you, you realize you can't do without it. The prospect of an empty bed in winter is too lonely to contemplate, so the nights you don't bring anyone home are either the nights you collapse into bed after working late, or those you fall asleep on the couch after half a bottle of wine and something mindless on television. It's just become a habit, nothing more. It's not like you're not afraid of being alone - you're never alone, anyway, not with him sleeping in the next room.
Some days you almost wish you were on tour, because then you could hear his breathing in the bed across from yours.
You're usually good at ignoring the things lurking in the back of your mind, but things start to fall apart at the end of the year. They always do. It's not only winter tearing things apart because everything feels more difficult in the cold, but also the new year because everything is meant to unravel every three hundred and sixty-five days. You succumb to the breakdown, because you're a sucker for the idea that there's some higher power in the days ticking over from one year (an arbitrary measurement of time, but that doesn't bother you) to another. You like feeling as though something else is pulling you inexorably over a line you would never have crossed otherwise, because then you don't have to blame yourself.
You always like an escape route, and this time you need one.
This time, it's the work Christmas party when you throw caution to the wind. You don't know how the party will to end when it starts, but this is the time of the year you take risks, because everything is meant to fix itself by the time the clock ticks over. If things are still broken, you throw them away in the excuse that it was last year and doesn't matter now. Time is your friend when it's running out, and tonight you leave your hesitations behind in drink after drink. You're still charming, a perfect guest and a better entertainer, you tell the right stories to the right people and you're a model employee. The image is easy to keep up because you've been doing it for so long, but you let it go just as easily when slender fingers touch your hip and a coy smile glances up at you from behind long auburn locks.
"Would you like to dance?" And you don't hesitate, a smirk sliding across your lips as you move onto the dance floor.
She isn't anyone you know. You don't care. She's warm, though, soft and beautiful and the way she moves leaves you without a doubt that she would be the best fuck you'd had in a while. You play with her hair, let your fingers trail over the smooth pale skin of her thigh, teasing at the hem of her short skirt as the music pulses through your veins. There's a hum in your throat and a laugh on her lips and you don't care about the way everyone else is looking at you because you're too lost in the moment. She clutches onto your shirt and it distracts you enough to erase the embarrassed laughs and the disapproving frowns you can see out of the corner of your eye, and you close your eyes as you breathe "come home with me" into her ear.
A hand on your shoulder yanks you back to reality. There are only a handful of people it could be, but you know exactly who it is.
"Jun, stop this." His voice is quiet and still, something you haven't heard in a while. It's a slap in the face, a douse of cold water over your heated skin and pounding blood, and your focus shifts entirely. The tunnel vision you'd had on the girl shifts to Aiba, and you find yourself speaking in questions, as though you don't know what he's talking about, until he drags you away. You follow without even thinking. He rants at you, waving his arms indignantly and you yell back, pushing because this isn't his problem. It hasn't got anything to do with him, he doesn't need to worry about you, and you want him to stop judging you. He's been keeping count of your conquests, just like you thought he was, and for a moment you don't know whether to feel violated or flattered. Before you can decide, he drops a bomb.
You knew, but you didn't want to. You'd seen it in his eyes since he moved in, but ignored it. It was easier.
Now, it's anything but easy. You ask him for clarification and he hesitates, feeds you lines about Arashi and group dynamics but you know it's bullshit. The truth comes out eventually, soft and on an exhale but it still hits you hard. Hearing it makes your ears burn, and you can't help but feel as though the walls are pressing in on you, watching and listening and you close your eyes to make it all go away but your plan backfires. The next thing you know, your back's against the wall, his fingers on your shoulders and his mouth on yours and you freeze. It doesn't last long, but it's enough to change everything.
Actions speak louder than words, and Aiba's screaming at you.
Your mind races, spinning from the alcohol in your blood stream and the thoughts running through your mind, and the unceasing waves of emotion crashes over your shoulders, the weight of which is enough to collapse beneath. You stumble as you stand upright again, feeling the threads that hold you together begin to fray and you take a deep, constricted breath. There's a lump in your throat and you swallow around it, crossing your arms again and nodding towards the exit. "Let's go home," you whisper, throat dry and cheeks burning as you school your features into your most unaffected expression.
"It should be me." The words are louder in the crisp night air outside the reception hall and you can't ignore them.
The train ride home is silent, just the sounds of the city and you try to lose yourself in the rhythm of the night, the mood of the city like you usually do, but Aiba's presence beside you keeps you tethered to the spot. Your mind buzzes with a heady mixture of alcohol and heightened emotions and you can feel it prickling in your fingertips: the unknown. You don't know what Aiba's confession means, whether it was meant to change everything or if it was just an accident, and you can't tell if the tightness in your chest is your heart constricting in fear or nervous butterflies.
You absently touch your mouth the whole way home, lips tingling with the ghost of the kiss.
The trouble with hiding from your own feelings is that it's impossible. You can only tell yourself so many lies to explain the way your heart swells and flutters, because in the end your mind can never overrule your heart. You sit on the couch when you get home, fingers pressed to your temples as you ask how long he's felt this way, as though it might sound better now that you're in the comfort of your own home. He asks you questions in turn, were you looking to replace me? and your heart jumps into your throat because the answer's on your tongue before you even know what it is.
Aiba's irreplaceable, and the girls were poor substitutes.
The realization terrifies you, sends a shock of adrenaline though your body that feels like a fight-or-flight reaction, but you stay where you are. He looks hurt already, like you'd rejected him, but that's not what you meant. You're scared, but only because you can't lose him. You've been playing with substitutes because they're safe - you're safe with them. You couldn't ruin anything with them because they didn't mean anything. If it all goes wrong between you and him, though... you'll have nothing left. What if it doesn't work out?
"But what if it does?" And then he kisses you again.
And then you kiss him back, because this time it isn't a surprise. This time, it isn't caught up with your own burning desire to ignore it, to sweep it under the rug, to hide it lest it make your heart hurt too much; this time, you want it. All your confessions hover in the air around you, but they make you feel light instead of suffocated. You take in a deep breath through your nose, a smile tugging at the corner of your mouth because yes, this is the way it's meant to be and you can feel every inch of your body relax as the seconds tick past.
Then, "Do you trust me?"and you think hazily that you would jump off a cliff if he asked you to right now.
Instead, it's his bedroom, your spare room, the one that used to be empty and bare until he moved in and you didn't notice it before but it's been infused with the very essence of Aiba. Pieces of him lay strewn everywhere, out in the open instead of hidden in medicine cabinets and laundry rooms and it's not your spare room anymore, it's his room. Even in the dark, even as you both fiddle with buttons and zippers and layers of material, you feel surrounded by him, a warm, comfortable, encompassing sensation and you try to infuse your kisses and touches with everything you're feeling but you can't tell whether it's working.
He stops when you're both naked and covered in a sheen of sweat, but doesn't look at you as he speaks. "Can I trust you?"
You wish words existed to assuage his fears properly, to explain every reason why you would never betray his trust, but there aren't any. Your words sound inferior to your feelings as they echo in the room, and your heart hiccups as he asks if you've always been careful. It's a pang of guilt, both for the way it's worried him and for the reminder that you were stupid enough to try to ignore what's right in front of you, and you kiss him fiercely, your heart leaping into your throat so hard you're sure he must be able to taste it.
More words, and they mean less than the kiss, but he accepts them and you melt as he leans in for another kiss.
Then the moment changes: the slow, warm heat of exploratory touches burns hotter as his movements have more purpose behind them, more urgency, and every inch of your body feels as though it's on fire. His cheeks are flushed red as he presses kisses along the inside of your thigh, tongue and mouth blazing trails across your sensitive skin that curl the coil of desire tighter in your stomach. Your fingers grip into the sheets, noises escape your throat without you letting them, and your eyes open and close of their own volition and it all looks like stop-motion film in front of you. It's almost too much, but not enough, and you thread your fingers through his hair, gasping for air.
Wait, don’t let me - not yet - because you want more, and the smile he gives you in response makes your heart soar.
Nerves, excitement and tension stretches your skin, burns it, and though the moments spent waiting are short, they feel like forever, time twisting your desire into need and you might be relaxed and ready on the outside but inside you feel wound up and tight. It's been a while, you realize as he slides into you, but it's never been like this. You gasp as he fills you, swallow as he pulls back, and let out a moan as he begins to move, fingers sliding over his shoulders and legs wrapping around his waist, all to pull him closer, push him deeper, and make him faster. He obliges and you arch into him as he finds the perfect angle, thrusting so hard and fast your head spins and you have to close your eyes. The sensations tear moans of pleasure from your throat and he barely has to touch you before you're spilling all over his hand, your stomach, and he follows quickly, his orgasm setting aftershocks coursing through your body. It's quiet afterwards, and you trail your fingertips over his sweat-slicked skin as your breathing evens out.
You can't help the smile on your lips. Tonight, you'll be able to hear his breathing as you fall asleep.