Disclaimer: I do not own any member of Johnny's Entertainment.
Rating: Hard R to NC-17
Pairing: Jun/Aiba, Ohmiya
Warnings: AU. RPS. BL, not-quite-explicit sex, kissing. Chinen Yuri.
Author's Note: yomimashou really wanted me to write a fic where Jun is Aiba's robot butler. He's not quite that in this, but I hope she likes it anyway. At any rate, because of that, this has been dubbed the "Robot Butler" AU... Additionally, before you start asking me questions: yes, these robots can do a lot of stuff that you wouldn't expect, but honestly, considering the purpose of their design, I feel like the scientists working on it would have had to work out the kinks beforehand... SO YEAH suspend your disbelief.
Aiba Masaki likes to send in for the free giveaways in magazines.
Or rather, Aiba doesn't like to give up opportunities when they're presented to him, and it's not as if he has much to lose by sending in a postcard or two. He's by no means rich, but his job pays perfectly well to suit his lifestyle, and a few fifty-yen stamps aren't going to break the bank. It's never really that he wants the item that's being given away, per se, though sometimes he could use it in some way or another, it's just that, he always thinks, as he tears the postcard from the binding of the magazine, since there's always the chance he could win, why not give it a try? Half the time, he doesn't even pay attention to the prize, simply drops the postcards into the post box without a second thought. He sends away from his own magazines, and sometimes his brother's and his mother's too, when he's home for a weekend, and he's never won anything yet, but at least he hasn't given up an opportunity. One of these days, he thinks, he'll win.
And then one evening, while he's curled up on his bed in front of the TV, there's a knock at the door. Aiba isn't expecting anything or anyone, but he figures it's one of his friends looking for something or else a confused curry delivery boy. Despite the fact that he's in pyjama pants and a sweatshirt, he opens the door with a friendly smile, ready for almost anything.
The one thing he's not prepared for, however, is a special delivery person with a box the size of a small refrigerator asking for a signature, and all Aiba can do is wonder what exactly he sent away for last month.
It's a bit of an effort to even get the thing inside; Aiba's always been skinny and lanky, and the box probably weighs more than he does, but he manages to sign for it and drag it into his small living room, grabbing a pair of scissors to open the thing. There's an instruction booklet for something under the brand name "Matsumoto" with "Jun" stamped in English letters in the bottom corner, but Aiba has never been the sort of person to read instructions first, and so he pulls back the packing paper and foam bits until he unearths whatever it is that he's won.
It's definitely not what he's expecting, that's for certain. When he finally manages to dig through all the packaging and bubble wrap, the first thing he sees is a face, which, if nothing else, makes him start violently with an undignified yelp, falling backwards onto his ass from the position in which he had been kneeling. Belatedly, he realizes it must be a computer; there's no other explanation for a man arriving in a box on Aiba's doorstep, but his heart rate is still racing a little as he peers back into the box to examine its contents once again.
The computer, upon closer inspection, has a perfect, pale complexion and dark brown hair, like it's been bleached slightly-- only, of course, it hasn't been bleached, because, clearly, it's synthetic. Still, he can't help but reach out and touch it, because it falls in perfect curls around its face, and Aiba supposes it can't possibly be real because it feels soft and perfect and like real hair, and not at all like it's been bleached. The computer's skin, too, is soft to the touch, and if humanoid computers aren't expensive just as it is, Aiba's pretty sure that this one has to be expensive. He isn't exactly poor, but Aiba doesn't spend his paycheck on luxury goods either, and the realization of just how much this thing probably costs in stores doesn't do a whole lot to slow his racing heartbeat as he pushes back more of the packing paper with trembling hands. The computer is dressed in a purple silk shirt and a pair of tight jeans, and seems to be about Aiba's height... and, more and more, Aiba is realizing, it's attractive. Not that, of course, Aiba pays that much attention to that sort of thing, it's just that he works in the idol business... sort of.
But the computer is definitely, definitely attractive, and done up to be so, and it's only when Aiba realizes that he's staring that he fumbles to grab for the instruction booklet that he'd set aside before. Flipping it open clumsily, it's easy enough to find the diagram of the on button, located at the nape of the computer's neck, and so tenderly, as if he might somehow accidentally break this expensive, new, beautiful object just by touching it the wrong way, he slips a hand down to the base of the computer's scalp, brushing against the silky curls there as he finds the slight indentation and, taking a deep breath, presses.
It's as if the computer might be waking from a light nap, but even at just the faintest flutter of its eyelids, Aiba jerks back, startled, jumpy from all the uncertainty that has been forced upon him. He's never even thought about owning a human-shaped computer before, and now, not only does he own one, but in a second, he's going to have to interact with it. His fingers knot in the fabric of his pants as he swallows, trying to gather his thoughts while he watches the computer sit up in its box, rolling its shoulders as if it's stiff and running a hand through its hair, flipping it to the side too gracefully for something made artificially. It looks around Aiba's small apartment for a moment coolly, almost as if trying to remember just where it had gone to sleep before it spots Aiba.
The computer's eyes meet Aiba's, and in that moment, everything changes. Its pink lips curl into a pleasing smile, and it cocks its head slightly, shifting its weight such that, even in the confines of its container, it looks as if it were a model posing for a photo. Holding Aiba's gaze for a long moment, it winks before greeting, "Hey, baby."
And Aiba is absolutely speechless.
He realizes he must look pretty stupid-- his mouth is hanging open and his eyes are wide, but he just can't comprehend the fact that this is happening to him. He must be dreaming, in a moment, he's going to wake up and go to work, he's going to buy a bento at the conbini and maybe a coffee if he's tired enough... he's not sitting in his living room with a brand new computer winking at him and calling him pretty pet names. He can't be.
But apparently he can, because he doesn't wake up as the computer pulls itself gracefully out of the box, folding itself onto its knees to smile at Aiba, leaning in a little closer and sliding a hand along the side of Aiba's face. Aiba starts slightly, his eyes growing wider still, but the computer seems unperturbed, caressing Aiba's cheek gently with his thumb as he prompts gently, "And what can I call you, gorgeous?"
Aiba's heart lurches in his chest entirely unnecessarily as his breath catches in his throat, and he really wishes he weren't as flustered as he is. Not that it doesn't make sense for him to be so; the computer he's suddenly received out of the blue is now very much in his personal space and is touching him and looking at him like that, silky words falling off its tongue so easily, and Aiba barely registers it's his own voice when he responds, meekly, stiffly, "Aiba. Aiba Masaki."
He's being stupid, he tells himself, as the computer nods in acknowledgement; this is probably how the thing is programmed to behave, and if Aiba just interacts with it normally, just like he would with any of his friends or coworkers, it will learn that that's not what Aiba's interested in, and things will work out swimmingly. Aiba's always been good at making friends-- he's pleasant and cheerful, and people like to be around him. So a computer should be no different, really, he tells himself, but yet, his heart is still pounding out of his chest even as he struggles to make this into a normal conversation. "And you're..." He flounders for a moment, visualizing the instruction booklet in his mind. "Jun...?" There, that sounds completely normal, right? It still feels surreal, but Aiba can do this right--
But then the computer-- Jun-- nods again, its-- his-- smile quirking up just a bit at the corners before he replies, "But you can call me whatever you like, Aiba-chan," in that silky-smooth voice, and he looks Aiba right in the eye before leaning in and kissing him full on the lips.
Of course, Aiba does the natural thing-- he panics. Going stiff for a moment, he flails, falling backwards and catching himself on his elbows as he stares up at Jun with wide eyes. While he probably should have been, as with everything that had been happening for the past few minutes, Aiba had not been expecting that, and so he blinked up at his brand new computer for a good moment, mouth hanging open, before realizing himself and fumbling his way back into a sitting position as he tried to find words, any words. And explanation, an apology... of course, not only Aiba had not been prepared for that, it wasn't what he wanted, or, at any rate, what he could ever conceive of wanting, but still, Jun has feelings (must have feelings) and Aiba knows that that can't have possibly been very delicate towards them.
But Jun seems already past that point. He's pouting now, having separated himself a good half metre from Aiba, and looking around Aiba's apartment with cool disinterest. When he realizes Aiba's looking at him, he frowns, crossing his arms. "You have a cigarette?"
Aiba bites his lip, feeling more and more guilty by the moment, and shakes his head. He hasn't smoked in years now, not after having trouble with his lungs when he was younger, but he can't exactly attempt to explain that to Jun now, despite the fact that he feels the need to, despite the fact that it makes him feel guiltier still that he cannot provide. Instead, he asks, "Can you even...?" before immediately realizing that if he's looking to make things better, that was probably not the route to go.
Jun gives him a look of distaste that accurately sends another jab of guilt through Aiba's gut, and Aiba scrambles again to try to make up for it. "I... don't know anything about computers."
Jun only gives a half-laugh as a response, shaking his head and running a hand through his hair again as he leans back against the wall, knees folded in to his chest, an even when Aiba goes downstairs and buys him a pack of cigarettes from the machine, Jun doesn't look any less dejected and Aiba doesn't feel any less guilty.
Aiba likes his job a lot. He likes his friends and he likes what he does, and so even though he arrives late to work the next morning, he arrives with a smile, sheepishly making his way to his seat between Sho and Nino. This is the first official staff meeting for Ikuta Toma's upcoming concert, and as the best-selling artist's personal manager, Aiba knows he should have been here early to take detailed notes to relay back to Toma himself, but he also knows Sho will take pity on him and give him all the details he missed. Still, he pulls out a notepad and diligently lists everything that they discuss, from the hotel arrangements and accommodations that Sho has been looking into to the costume, hair, and make-up sketches that Ohno and a few others are to bring in for their next meeting at the end of the week to the arrangements expected from Nino before the beginning of rehearsals. He tries hard to write in detail, but Aiba has never had a particularly long attention span, and he's distracted by the way Nino taps the end of his pen on the table impatiently, the way Ohno doodles around the edges of his notepad as his computer listens attentively, no doubt recording the whole meeting for later, as Sho fidgets, uncomfortable with the way none of them are paying as much attention as they should.
The meeting drags on, as meetings always do, but eventually, they break for lunch. Most of their coworkers rush out of the room towards the cafeteria or the nearby conbini-- in fact, there's a Lawson right across the street from the main office building for Johnny's and Associates-- but Aiba and his friends linger, as always. As always, Sho asks if they don't want to get lunch, Nino complains that he doesn't want to move and suggests they send Ohno's computer, Chinen-kun refuses and says he'll only get food for Ohno, Ohno pays no attention. In the end, they play janken, and Sho loses, but, as always, Aiba offers to go with him to the conbini to pick up instant ramen for the group. It will go faster that way, after all, and then they'll have more time to hang out over lunch break.
When they return, Ohno is nowhere to be seen, Chinen-kun is crying, and Nino is looking smug, but this isn't really out of the ordinary, either. "Ninomiya-kun," Sho sighs exasperatedly at the same time as Aiba chirps, "Where's Oh-chan?" and, unsurprisingly, Nino chooses to answer Aiba.
"He went to get something to drink from the vending machine," he replies with a shrug, accepting his ramen from Aiba as Sho attempts awkwardly to placate Chinen-kun, who refuses to stop crying until Ohno returns to the room.
He knows he probably shouldn't, but Aiba can't keep from grinning; this may be normal, but Aiba loves his friends, loves everything about them, and he settles into his own lunch with the smile still lingering on his lips. Nino steals bits of meat from Ohno's bowl as Aiba asks everyone how their yesterdays were and pleasantly listens to Sho's story about one of his college friends, Ohno's plans for an upcoming fishing trip, Nino's recent video game escapades. He makes a point, even, to ask Chinen-kun so that the poor thing doesn't feel excluded, even if, every time, he shrugs and giggles nervously and answers "Nothing much," in a way that Aiba thinks must be permanently in his programming. But then again, Aiba doesn't know anything about computers.
After everyone else talks, Sho's the one who politely turns the question back on Aiba, and usually, Aiba loves to talk, but today, there's a bit of a knot in his stomach as he thinks about the previous night. He stalls by taking a large bite of ramen before replying sheepishly, "Well... actually, I got a new computer."
He was sort of hoping his friends might take the announcement in stride, but of course, immediately, they're all talking at once in an uproar. Ohno, even is shocked out of examining a small dent in the table, and Chinen-kun, too, who usually takes any distraction on Nino's part as an opportunity to seduce Ohno, seems to be fully captivated by this knowledge. Nino immediately demands to know what brand as Sho comments in surprise that he didn't know Aiba was planning on buying a computer, and Ohno, belatedly and in a pleasant lull in comparison to Nino's and Sho's excited voices, wonders if it's a girl or a boy. Because Nino is the first person Aiba hears, he answers first that Jun is a Matsumoto (Aiba doesn't know any of the implications of this, but he does remember what the instruction booklet said), and then clarifies for Ohno, since the name is ambiguous, that Jun is a guy. Since Sho didn't really ask a question and Aiba is overwhelmed, he adds that he apparently won Jun in a magazine giveaway, to which Nino calls out, "Lucky!" and Sho's eyes widen in surprise. Ohno comments vaguely that he'd like to meet him before going back to the dent in the table, but Aiba barely has a chance to notice him for all the activity around him.
"Wait--" Nino interjects before Aiba has a chance to tell anything else, "Isn't Matsumoto a brand of girly computers?"
Aiba thinks for a moment, then nods despite the fact that he really has no idea. But it makes sense, really, though he hasn't had a chance to think it through-- that would explain Jun's behaviour, his words, the way he was so close to Aiba and touching his skin and kissing his lips and-- But Aiba doesn't want to think about last night too hard, doesn't want to remember the way his heart was pounding and his face was red. Instead, it's easy to write it all off-- if Jun is a girls' computer, then it all makes sense, and it wasn't so weird for everything to happen the way it did and maybe, Aiba thinks, he can scrape things back together after all.
And so, "Yeah," he replies belatedly to Nino, "Yeah, he kissed me."
"Woah!" Nino cries with a guffaw as Sho's eyes widen, and Aiba feels himself flush again as he hurriedly adds, "But I pushed him away and now I think I hurt his feelings..." He can't help but pout along with the admission; it hurts him to know he's hurt anyone, regardless of who they are, regardless of if they're a human or a machine.
It's Sho's turn to respond first, putting a hand on his shoulder. "You meant well, right?" he asks, only they both know it's not really a question. Aiba's never done anything in his life that isn't well-meaning, and it's hardly a secret. "He's programmed to do that sort of thing, and if there's anyone who can make friends with a new computer, it's Aiba-chan, right?"
He glances to Nino and Ohno, but the former seems far too concerned with attempting to pry Chinen-kun from the latter's lap. Sho rolls his eyes, Chinen-kun lets out a squeal of defeat as he's thrown to the ground, and Ohno glances up, staring a moment before nodding with a smile and affirming, "Definitely," as if his computer and his boyfriend weren't practically having a brawl on top of him.
Aiba is comforted.
Aiba is and has always been a positive person. Even though he's tired from spending the past night on the sofa so that Jun could sleep in his bed, even though his mind is reeling from the amount of information he's trying to retain about computers from the quick internet search he did on Chinen-kun before heading home for the day, he's confident that today will be better than yesterday. Yesterday, he was unprepared. Yesterday, he was surprised and caught off guard and flustered. But today he's learned, and today he knows better. Today, he'll make things right with Jun, and they'll move forward. He's sure of it.
He puts a smile on as he unlocks the door to his apartment with an I'm home poised on his lips, but as he pulls the door open, he's met with a haze of cigarette smoke that he isn't expecting and is caught up in a coughing fit. It's stupid-- Aiba is around smoke every day and all of his friends smoke, but when it catches him off guard, it sometimes leads to one of these fits. It's been better anymore; Aiba hasn't had lung troubles for years now, but yet, somehow, he manages to choke on thin air as Jun appears at the edge of the genkan with an eyebrow raised. "Welcome back," he greets unenthusiastically, making no attempt to hide the sarcasm in his voice and putting out his cigarette in one of the ashtrays Aiba still has around from when he used to smoke. "If it was going to be that big of a deal, you could have said something."
"No, no!" Aiba hurries to reply with a smile and a wave of his hands, though his voice is still a little hoarse. "I... hope you had a good day?"
Jun shrugs and sighs in a very put-upon way. "I guess," he replies, running a hand through his hair and scuffing back into the apartment in Aiba's slippers. After a moment, though, he looks back over his shoulder, perhaps to see if Aiba is following, and hope sparks in Aiba's chest as he closes the door behind him. They meet eyes for a moment before Jun asks, cautiously, "You?"
"Work was good!" Aiba chirps a little too quickly, in a hurry to take advantage of any chance he gets, no matter how small. "I was thinking-- if you want-- tomorrow, I'd bring you along? To meet my friends."
Jun shrugs to this but doesn't seem to take it badly, and so Aiba tentatively follows him back into the tiny kitchen, where he's surprised to find pots on the stove and plates set out on the counter. Aiba rarely cooks simply because his days are long and, at the end of them, he's tired; he's much more likely to go out for dinner with his friends or grab ramen or curry on the way home than to cook for himself. But now, here he is gaping in his own kitchen as Jun starts portioning pasta onto plates , barely sparing Aiba a backward glance as he comments blandly, "I made dinner, assuming you want some." Aiba nods, and they sit down to dinner together on Aiba's little sofa-- it's awkward, but it's a step in the right direction.
Aiba's feeling a little more confident-- a little too confident-- afterwards, after he's volunteered to do the dishes before Jun can even say anything, like they're college roommates or some such nonsense and he wants to make a good impression. In actuality, they're about the farthest things from college roommates possible; rather than equals trying to cohabit, Jun is distinctly Aiba's possession, and Aiba isn't at all sure how to handle this. After all, he's always been the sort of person to take joy in pleasing others rather than demanding his own way. It's what makes him a decent manager and a hopefully more-than-decent friend, though it's not like he's spent much thought on it, but at any rate, he's never even been good at giving orders when it's a part of his job, never been good at putting his foot down to Toma when he's being too particular or Sho when he's being too pushy. So how, exactly, is he supposed to interact with this item, this thing, when it's really not a thing at all, when Jun is a man who clearly has feelings and desires, too?
Truth be told, Aiba's experience with computers is incredibly limited, and even after reading the wikipedia page and a few help sites, he still isn't particularly confident in his knowledge. Humanoid computers aren't exactly rare but they're certainly a luxury good, and Aiba doesn't much run with a "luxury" crowd. Ohno is the only person Aiba even knows who has one, and Chinen-kun was an unexpected and generally unwanted gift-- which is to say, the way Ohno (and particularly Nino) treats Chinen-kun makes Aiba a little uncomfortable, even if the kid can be a pain at times. They had pooled together and bought Sho a rabbit for his birthday a few years back because it was the best they could afford, and Aiba has been saving up to buy a puppy one of these days, but bunnies and puppies are easy because they don't know what's best for them even when they're not computers. Aiba would have no qualms ordering a puppy to do this or the other thing, but there's no way he can take that attitude with Jun.
In the long run, he tells himself, he's over thinking things. Jun is just like a person, and regardless of the situation, Aiba wants to be friends. Sure, they may be stuck with one another now, but why shouldn't Aiba make the best of it? He can prove to Jun that he cares, he can show Jun that he's not an asshole or a total idiot. He can make things work, he knows it.
But then he makes the mistake of asking Jun if wouldn't mind being plugged in for a few hours to install some antivirus software and set him up with the password to the wireless internet. Aiba honestly had in mind to show that he was savvy of viruses and eager to keep Jun's operating system bug-free, but in response, Jun rolls his eyes again and replies, "Whatever you want," in a tone that makes Aiba's stomach plummet and his heart clench in his chest.
He lets Jun have the bed again that night, but it isn't the discomfort of his old, worn couch that keeps him awake all night.
Aiba feels like the prospects are grim in the morning. His optimism rarely fails him, but waking up after only a few hours of sleep with an aching back and stiff muscles doesn't really do much for his disposition. His attempts to be pleasant to Jun through breakfast are half-hearted at best; he fidgets for the entirety of the train ride to work. Jun will hate his job. Jun will hate his friends. Jun will hate him-- He doesn't want to think it, but after yesterday's failure, he can't help but be tense all the way until they reach the set for the music video filming that Toma's doing today.
But somehow, by some turn of fate, his fears aren't realized in the least. From the moment they arrive, from the moment that Aiba meets up with Sho and Ohno and Nino (for whom Aiba is never quite sure if attendance to these things is mandatory or if he simply follows Ohno to work) in the staff room, Jun is someone else entirely. Congenial, friendly, playful, he jokes and laughs with Aiba's friends, not only winning them all over entirely, but, seemingly, forming bonds of his own. In fact, somehow, halfway through the morning, Aiba realizes that he feels like the odd man out in his own group of friends as, around him, Jun and his friends are engaged in a lively discussion about evening variety shows.
When Toma arrives and Aiba and Ohno are forced to break from the group to meet him, too, Jun tags along, chatting pleasantly with Ohno the whole way despite the vacant expression on his face the whole time. He's pleasant with Toma, as well, asking about his newest single and the drama he's to star in next season, all the while holding Ohno's makeup palette and brushes for him. Aiba's practically dazed by the phenomenon, and barely notices when Chinen-kun arrives with his lunch; he's distracted by the fact that, when, after a brief conversation, Chinen-kun realizes that he doesn't have a bentou for Jun, he runs back to the convenience store for a new one, something that he's never done for Aiba despite the fact that Aiba has gone out of his way to be pleasant to Chinen-kun at times when no one else is. He doesn't understand it, he doesn't understand the way people are drawn in by Jun, or the way Jun smiles back so sincerely in a way that he never looks at Aiba.
"Matsumoto-kun is quite friendly after all," Sho comments idly as he adds figures late in the office that evening. Jun has gone with Ohno and Nino for drinks; Aiba is looking over some last-minute scheduling. Sho pushes his glasses but the bridge of his nose, glancing to Aiba with a smile. "It's good that things have worked out, isn't it?"
Aiba isn't so sure.
Aiba redoubles his efforts. Over the next few weeks, he tries with everything he has. He comes up with a cute nickname for Jun, the way he does with his friends. He goes out of his way to clean up after Jun. He buys him new clothing. He makes him breakfast. But despite the fact that "MatsuJun" catches with his (their) friends, Jun seems apathetic towards it, and he takes to snapping at Aiba that he'll clean up for himself. The clothing Aiba buys isn't fashionable enough for Jun, and Aiba's cooking skills are mediocre at best, nothing compared to Jun's. He can do nothing right, it seems, and despite the fact that Aiba really, really tries, after a few weeks, his hope starts to wear out.
On the other hand, Jun is getting along swimmingly with Aiba's friends. It seems that every day, he's off with someone different; it's either drinks with Sho or shopping with Nino, if it's not downloading a new program from Chinen-kun then it's seeing a movie with Ohno. He spends nights fairly regularly at the Ohno-Ninomiya apartment, whole days calculating obscure probabilities for Sho. He even starts getting invitations to Toma's parties and goes out for whole nights with groups of Johnny's idols, no doubt clubbing in Shibuya or Shinjuku. It almost seems as if he avoids Aiba altogether for stretches, although it's probably in Aiba's head.
Because the truth is, Aiba is getting jealous. It's a hard realization for him to come to when he's never really been jealous before in his life, but the honest to goodness truth is that, when he sees Jun with his friends, something painful curls in the pit of his stomach and seeps into his veins, and nothing can make him forget it. It lingers through the day, through the night, and though he's far too ashamed of himself to admit it, it really makes him want to curl up in a corner and hide.
And at least it would make a little sense if he was jealous of Jun for becoming the centre of his friends' attention, for practically usurping his spot amongst his group, but, as things play out, that's not really the problem. In fact, quite ridiculously, Aiba is jealous of his friends for gaining Jun's acceptance, for forming a bond with Jun where Aiba has failed. It's stupid, it's childish, it's petty, but Aiba just doesn't understand why Jun likes any given one of his friends so much when Aiba himself practically bends over backwards to make Jun happy and receives nothing but scorn. It doesn't make any sense, Aiba can't explain it to himself, but it only makes it harder to swallow that Aiba himself has failed to make Jun feel wanted and happy in his own home when his friends have all so easily made Jun feel wanted and happy in theirs.
The apartment feels lonely anymore without Jun. Strange, Aiba thinks, that he never really felt lonely before Jun, and yet now, sitting in front of the TV and wondering whether Jun's still out at a club with Toma or perhaps in the bed of some pretty young thing, some other Johnny's idol, or worse-- someone Aiba knows, someone close to Aiba. It's stupid that he's spending his free time pondering what exactly his computer is up to at this hour of the early morning, and he thinks, maybe he should get that puppy. At least then he'd have a computer that loved him.
He doesn't think about the implications of the desire as he drifts to sleep on the couch despite the fact that his bed is unoccupied.
Aiba realizes exactly how bad it's gotten when he finds himself asking Chinen-kun for advice. It's not exactly that he dislikes Chinen-kun, really, it's just not that he really likes him, either. Chinen-kun has a tendency to be incredibly creepy sometimes and just plain annoying at others; whether he's attempting to lure Ohno away while Nino's not looking or bawling his eyes out after Nino's discovered him and is dealing out some harsh retribution, the infinately-teenage computer seems incapable of handling anything in a mature way. But despite the fact that his short shorts and jailbait-esque behaviour sit the wrong way with Aiba, he still tries to treat him like a human being, which, he gets the feeling, is not something Nino or Ohno make a priority.
Still, regardless of the fact that he makes a point to ask Chinen-kun's opinion, to offer him bits of his lunch or make sure he's all right, it's not as if he goes out of his way to interact with the computer, considering that he's clearly programmed in a way that makes Aiba more than a little uncomfortable. But now, he doesn't know where to turn; he doubts that any of his friends will understand when Jun acts perfectly normally to them, and, deep down, though he doesn't even want to think about it, he's a little afraid that they'll side with Jun, that they'll accuse Aiba of doing something wrong. It's bad enough that he can't make friends with a computer that really ought to be programmed to like him, he can't lose his friends, as well.
And so, one day, while Jun is out to lunch with Sho and Ohno is off with Nino doing god only knows what during their lunch hour, Aiba sits down beside Chinen-kun at the table with his bag of onigiri from the Lawson. Chinen-kun looks up at him in surprise but offers a hesitant smile; if anything, Chinen-kun is always demure and sweet to those he isn't trying to seduce and who aren't trying to keep him from his goal. Aiba smiles back easily and offers him an onigiri that Chinen-kun hesitantly accepts, and they're off to a good foot, Aiba thinks. He's better with his friend's computer than his own. Great.
But he brushes that concern aside to open his own onigiri as he takes a deep breath and braces himself, asking, "Chinen-kun... can I ask you a question?"
"Of course," Chinen-kun replies without missing a beat, his wide, adolescent eyes glassy as he looks up at Aiba. "How can I help you, Aiba-san?"
Aiba licks his lips, nibbling at the rice ball to buy himself time but finding himself almost unable to stomach it. "It's just," he starts, sounding incredibly immature, like a high schooler who can't quite bring himself to admit that he's screwed up. "I don't know what to do. About Jun."
Chinen-kun takes an incredibly delicate bite out of his onigiri before setting it back neatly on its wrapper, folding his hands in his lap before humming thoughtfully. "I'm not very close with Matsumoto-san," he disclaims, "But... you two... didn't get off to the best start, did you?"
Aiba sags visibly within himself, his body sinking into his chair with the weight of the statement. Chinen-kun has hardly accused him of anything, but the guilt surges through Aiba in waves; this is all his fault. For behaving like an idiot when he first got Jun. For being an asshole. For thinking he could overcome it because he and Jun were stuck together now-- Jun isn't a machine, he knows, isn't an item to be bought or prize to be won when it comes to his respect, his trust. He's another person, and now that Aiba's messed things up, there's nothing much to be done about it. "Yeah," he finally admits, forcing a laugh, "Yeah, we didn't," but he's pretty sure Chinen-kun can tell that he's not being completely honest about his feelings.
And sure enough, when he next glances at the boy, he looks uncomfortable, rocking slightly in his chair before responding carefully, "Aiba-san... you have to understand... it's just that... We're not always like you. We're programmed to feel certain ways, we can't help it. So..." He trails, looking up at Aiba again, wide eyes shimmering with an honesty Aiba hasn't ever seen in them before. "I know you're... you're kind, Aiba-san. So... do what you think is best?"
Aiba's eyes widen at the boy's words and suddenly, his throat is tight, the corners of his eyes wet. It's stupid for him to feel this way upon receiving a simple compliment from someone who he spends most of his days with, but still, somehow, it means a lot more when he knows exactly how infrequently Chinen-kun hands out compliments without an ulterior motive. Sniffing and swallowing back his tears, he grins full out at the computer, feeling somehow more positive than he had only a moment earlier. Even if things don't work out between he and Jun... so long as Aiba does what he thinks is right, things will be all right. Somehow.
Thus assured, Aiba's eyes crinkle at the edge with the complete honesty of his grin, and he ruffles Chinen-kun's hair. "Thanks."
Chinen-kun blushes but smiles back him him, fidgeting slightly and glancing towards the door before leaning in and brushing a feather-light kiss to Aiba's cheek. Drawing back, he winks sweetly (nothing like the way he winks at Ohno) before rising, bowing, and darting out of the room.
And somehow, Aiba is consoled.
Aiba has lost track of how much time has gone by since Jun came into his life. Some days, it feels like it was only yesterday that things were turned upside down, sometimes he feels like he's been living in a constant state of stress and worry for years now. The calendar tells him it's been almost three months, but he and Jun are still interacting as if they don't know one another. Aiba walks on eggshells around him, though they cut into his feet like broken glass. He's sore from months of sleeping on the sofa.
At any rate, whether it's been a year or a day or three months, it's finally, Aiba feels, gotten to the point where something simply has to give. They can't keep living this way; it's not good for Aiba's health, both mental and physical, and he assumes it can't possibly be pleasant for Jun either. Certainly, he doesn't have blood pressure to worry about and Aiba doesn't think that computers have nightmares or insomnia, but being forced to live in such close quarters with someone who he clearly strongly dislikes, Aiba feels, must be uncomfortable at the very least.
And so, a week or so after his talk with Chinen, Aiba finally comes to a decision. It hasn't been easy; he's stewed on the boy's words for a long time, pondering the best course of action, the best way for things to play out. The last thing he wants to do is to make Jun hate him even more than he does now, but they simply can't keep living this way. It's pointless to keep on pushing when something is eventually going to break under all the pressure, and so, instead of trying to move the unmovable, Aiba is ready to throw in the towel. There are solutions, there are choices, and though he doesn't like any of them, after a few sleepless nights and hours pacing his empty office, he comes to a decision.
It makes him nervous. He frets. He plays out the way things could go wrong in his mind so many times that he practically loses his lunch. But Aiba has never been one to give up in the face of opposition, especially when the only opposition currently is in his own head, and so, after a trying day at work, he comes home and immediately approaches Jun, palms sweating, hands shaking, heart pounding in his chest. He realizes belatedly that it probably feels much more like a confrontation than it should the way he's gone about it, but the adrenaline rushing through his veins won't let him relax, and so he hangs in the doorway of the bedroom, where Jun is currently sitting on his bed reading a magazine, and asks, his voice even wavering under the tension straining every muscle in his body, "So... you're... friends with Sho, right?"
Jun looks up at him with an expression of clear confusion, his brows furrowing as he sets the magazine aside. "...Yeah. He's cool. Why?" His voice his laden with distrust, as if he suspects Aiba of being up to something, but, to his credit, Aiba is. Aiba feels stab of guilt to his gut; he feels like a total asshole. His whole plan hinges on the fact that Jun is, at the end of the day, an item of Aiba's property, a fact Aiba hates to acknowledge.
But it's not as if he can back down now, and so he licks his lips, swallowing before hesitantly continuing, "I was thinking... you might want to go live with him. Since you two are friends. And all." He sounds like an asshole, he feels like an asshole, but he's only trying to do what's best for both of them, right? He's justified-- he wants Jun to be happier, not less happy. Blinking for a long moment, he hopes that Jun will take well to the idea, that he'll be pleased with the thought of living with someone he likes rather than Aiba.
But Jun's face certainly doesn't look pleased, and he stands, lips drawn to a tight line as, for what feels like far too long, he says nothing. He's only slightly shorter than Aiba; they see eye to eye, and there's some sort of intensity in his dark eyes that goes past anything Aiba's ever seen before. in a human or a machine. He swallows again, finding his mouth suddenly dry, as Jun speaks: "Why."
It doesn't sound like a question, and perhaps Jun knows why, or perhaps he's stronger than entreating, but Aiba feels the need to answer, anyway. The heaviness of Jun's tone is like a physical weight coming down on Aiba's shoulders, and if he doesn't chip away at it with some sort of explanation, he worries that he'll be crushed.
"You... always seem so unhappy--" Aiba starts out abruptly, his voice cracking like a child's, his throat tightening with overwhelming emotion. "You don't... you've never liked me. I fucked things up, and... I'm sorry."
It's only when the words tumble out of his mouth that he realizes it's what he's wanted to say all along. He's been trying so hard to fix things and make things right, to make up for what he did wrong and prove to Jun that he's not a horrible person, but he's never stopped to actually say he's sorry. Which has been an incredibly stupid oversight, he thinks, but it's not like he can turn back time-- if he could, he would have by now. He can't make things right in their relationship, but he can move forward. And so, with renewed confidence, he repeats, "I'm sorry. But I want you to... be able to be happy. And since I make you unhappy..."
But before he can finish, he's cut off by a sharp laugh from Jun as he runs a hand through his hair, shaking his head. Aiba would wonder what was funny, but it's clearly not a laugh of humour, and it hits Aiba like a punch to the stomach, knocking the air out of his lungs. Before he can pull himself together enough to construct any sort of inquiry, however, Jun lets out a sigh, mumbling, "God..." as his body concaves into a slouch. For the first time, it strikes Aiba that Jun doesn't look confident. He looks defeated.
Words are still escaping him, but Aiba is transfixed, awed and confused as the cool, sexy, perfect Matsumoto Jun he's always known falls apart right in front of him. Jun runs his hand through his hair again, mussing the usually-perfect curls, and sinks into himself further. "Fucking--" he starts, but doesn't finish, staring pointedly at the floor, and when he looks up again, Aiba is shocked to discover that he looks as if he's going to cry. Seeing Jun come crumbling down this way is more than unnerving, and the guilt curls inside Aiba's chest until everything in him stops dead as Jun says, "I love you."
"What," is the first thing that comes out of Aiba's mouth, but he doesn't remember thinking to say it and it doesn't sound like him. It's more of a croak, echoing in the silence of the room as Aiba, whose world seems to stand still, whose heart seems to stop beating in his chest, gawks like an idiot.
"God dammit," Jun replies, if it's really a reply at all, his eyes squeezing shut, brows knitting at the centre, and Aiba suddenly realizes that either the lighting is playing tricks on him or Jun's eyes are a little wet in the corners. What is going on, he thinks, as Jun presses a hand to his face for what seems like a very long time before repeating. "I fucking love you, okay?"
Aiba's mind is racing and he doesn't know what to think; how can Jun love him? How does that make any sense whatsoever in their interaction thus far? Aiba was certain that Jun hated him, or, at the bare minimum, didn't like being around him-- how could he love him? But then he remembers Chinen-kun's words about programming, remembers how they learned, just after Ohno received Chinen-kun, that depending on the computer, they were designed to feel a certain way about their owners, that there was no choice in the matter. So then, Jun... Jun probably had no choice but to love Aiba, right?
After a moment, he realized he had been gaping for a while now, and struggled to reply. "I'm... sorry?" was the best he could manage, however, his mind racing for better words. "Is your programming... can you not... love someone else?"
Jun laughs again in response, but this time, it's weaker, it's sad. "I'm not programmed to love you," he responds matter-of-factly, giving Aiba an almost pathetic look. "I'm designed to want you, yeah, to some degree, but... god." He sighs again, scuffing his heel against the floor and shoving his hands into his pockets. "You're fucking cute, you know? And sweet. And considerate. And-- shit." Tilting his head back, he laughs again hopelessly, staring at the ceiling. Aiba can see his adam's apple bob as he swallows, so much like a human, against the long, smooth, pale stretch of his neck. "It's so fucking stupid. I couldn't tell you, since you... obviously..." He trails off again, rocking side to side, as if to distract himself. He looks nervous, looks insecure, looks nothing like what Jun is supposed to look like, and Aiba feels his heartbeat in his throat as Jun finishes awkwardly, "But... I've loved you this whole time," looking as if he might cry again.
Fuck, is all Aiba can think, fuck, so this whole time that he's been trying so hard to get Jun to like him, Jun's been in love with him and staying away out of self-preservation? Aiba has always thought he's been easy to read, that he wears his heart on his sleeve and gives away his feelings without a second thought, but this... has all been a misunderstanding of feelings? That doesn't make any sense at all, that can't be true, but he somehow has the feeling that, even if he pinches himself, he won't wake up, not with his hard his heart is beating in his chest and his mouth is dry and his face is hot, like he's just said something really embarrassing, only he hasn't said anything at all. But just looking at Jun like this, so broken down, so exposed, so clearly honest for the first time, Aiba can't help the way he's reacting, and he realizes, he's put so much effort into trying to make Jun like him that, despite the emotional charge of the situation, he's... happy. To know that Jun doesn't hate him after all, he's overjoyed, and there's a bubbling in his chest now that's replaced the guilt, that's threatening to overflow. He wants to grin, he wants to laugh, he wants to throw his arms around Jun and never let go. Some part of his mind reminds him that, if he were to do that, Jun would jump to conclusions, but another part of his mind counters, so what?
And so, Aiba does.
He can hear Jun's quick intake of breath next to his ear, can feel Jun tense within his embrace, but he doesn't pull away, not now. He's fucked everything up for so long--he's not going to give Jun the wrong idea anymore. To have Jun's affection... it's what Aiba's wanted this whole time, in one way or another, and he's not one to deny the truth when it's not easy. The fact is that learning that Jun loves him has been the best thing to happen to him since getting Jun in the first place, and whether or not it's really love, whether or not Aiba's given the feeling any thought before, Aiba knows that right now, this is what he wants, and so he buries his face in the crook of Jun's neck, smiling against the synthetic material that, to Aiba, is nothing more or less than skin, and holding on tight.
There's a moment where they just stay like that, holding on, and nothing changes while everything, everything changes. He feels Jun relax, one of Jun's arms sliding slowly, gently around his waist while the other brushes against his shoulder as Jun brings a hand to cup the side of his face, careful guiding his head up again to meet Jun's eyes. They just look for a long moment, now that there are no more secrets, no more misunderstandings between them, before a smile curls at the corners of Aiba's lips and he leans in and kisses Jun, just like that. He doesn't know what he was expecting it to feel like, but when he does it, it feels right, and he wants to do it again, wants to do it more, and so he does.
Kissing Jun is one of the most beautiful experiences in which Aiba has ever had the pleasure of indulging, because he's good at it and enthusiastic about it, but there's also something honest about it, something raw and real. It's not like Aiba's never been kissed before, of course, but it's never been quite like this, and Aiba likes it a lot. So much, in fact, that he doesn't pull away until he's gasping for breath and seeing white at the edges of his vision, so much that he's almost disappointed when Jun pulls back slightly until he feels Jun's mouth against his neck and thinks that maybe that's all right, too.
He's not sure who moves first, whether he lost his balance or Jun pushed him, or perhaps it was some initiative from both sides, but they tumble into Aiba's bed together far too easily. In contrast, buttons and zippers seem like the most impossible tasks to overcome as Aiba struggles to feel Jun's skin against his own, and he's never felt this clumsy in his life as his fingers tremble and slip on the buttons of Jun's shirt. Jun's hands are much more nimble, however, and Aiba somehow still has the presence of mind to wonder how it is that Jun can kiss him and still undo his pants without looking, but he isn't exactly complaining, and it's much too tempting just to give up on thinking at all.
But whether or not he wants to, his mind is wiped completely blank as he feels Jun slide a hand inside his boxers, and from there, it's nearly impossible to keep track of anything besides Jun's hands on his body, Jun's skin against his own, Jun's breath washing over his face, as, with eyes squeezed shut and lips left parted, Jun presses inside of him, whispering, "Love you, god, I love you," over and over again as he moves slowly, inch by tantalizing inch, bringing them closer and closer together.
Aiba's throat is tight and his mind is blank, and so he doesn't have the words to reply, can't grasp any sort of coherent sentence before Jun starts to move again, tiny, pointed rocks of his hips that slowly become waves of pleasure coursing through Aiba's body up until the breaking point, when he sees Jun tense above him and feels his own body reach its limit, as if knowing Jun's pleasure is the last thing it takes. But once they're both over that peak, once he's curled up in Jun's arms feeling warm and contented and stupidly happy, once Jun whispers into his ear, one more time, "I love you," Aiba grins back at him and nods, answering with complete and perfect honesty, "Yeah... me too."
It feels good to be this way, but eventually, they get up and shower. Aiba draws hearts in the soap on Jun's back until Jun hits him and calls him stupid, fingers entwining in Aiba's all the while. And then they get out and Jun cooks dinner, telling Aiba he doesn't have enough of this or he buys a crappy brand of that, and Aiba can't help but laugh. He laughs and laughs and laughs, and Jun calls him stupid again, but he can't help it. He laughs until he cries, until Jun calls him a crybaby, too, and he doesn't stop until Jun rolls his eyes and kisses him right there, in Aiba's kitchen, like it's the most normal thing in the world.
Once they sit down together, Aiba steals food off of Jun's place despite the fact that he has his own. "You're a pain," Jun whines, rolling his eyes even as a smile tugs at the corner of his mouth.
The insult rolls off of Aiba's shoulders, however, just as easy as that, and it's impossible to imagine that, at this time yesterday, he was fretting over what Jun might say, might think about him. "But you love me," he replies simply, grinning as he leans in to snatch another bite.
"How do you know?" Jun counters, holding back a laugh as tries to swat Aiba away and fails with an overdramatic sigh. Under the table, his foot brushes up against Aiba's, casually, as if it were an accident, except it lingers, their ankles barely touching.
Aiba can't help but laugh again, sliding a hand across the tabletop to rest against Jun's. "You're kind of giving it away."