This should be read after Giveaway, by the way.
Title: People Skills
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Pairing: Ohmiya and Chinen→Ohno with background Jun/Aiba
Warnings: au, rps, bl, a bit of roughness
Author's Note: This is a companion to Giveaway, and should be read second despite the fact that is spans a period of time starting before and ending after the events of that story. After writing Jun and Aiba's story, I felt bad for Chinen in the AU, an felt the need to give him some closure.
Ninomiya Kazunari has never been a very social person.
It's not that he doesn't like people, it's just that he doesn't like very many people. He can make friends, he just doesn't always choose to, which is fine. He's never felt like anything was missing in his life, and he's never had very much reason to like people, not considering how much shit he's gotten from bullies throughout his childhood. They're just jealous, he knows, jealous that he's smarter than them, more talented, and who needs friends, anyway? Throughout his school days, he had always preferred video games and music to spending time with other people, and he needed to keep practicing to maintain his skills, didn't he? Nino has always been the kind of person who excels at anything he really puts his mind to, and so putting his mind to his games and his piano and his guitar seem like much more worthwhile pursuits than chasing after people who will, god knows, either turn their backs on him or push him away, anyway.
Ironically, another thing Nino's discovered that he's good at if he puts his mind to it is writing things that move people. Music, to some extent, and lyrics that he throws together for fun make the girls in class with him tear up despite the fact that they don't even know his name, and that's not saying anything for what he can do when he actually tries. He has no experience, when it comes down to it, with human emotion, and yet, when he strums a few chords and writes a few words, things just come together like magic, and somehow, he's able to express and convey emotions he's never felt to the world. And so, after he graduates high school, while working at the factory his uncle owns, he sends in his music and lyrics along with a meager resume to answer an opening with Johnny and Associates, just for fun.
But somehow, it lands him a position, and a coveted position, at that. Nino snickers to himself to think that tons of people who consider themselves oh so sensitive and artistic were turned down for him, a guy who doesn't care for people at all. He's pleased that he's landed a better paying job that's probably way more interesting than the factory, and for which he'll get to do a lot of his work from home. What he doesn't know is that this job is going to be a lot more than just a job for him-- it's the place that he's going to meet Satoshi.
Or, more accurately, it's the place where he's going to meet his future group of friends, his first real group of friends, but it all starts with Satoshi. Aiba the personal manager and Sakurai the business manager are nice people and all, but in the end, they're Satoshi's friends, and that's how they end up as Nino's friends, too, rather than through any effort of his to befriend them. It's Satoshi who's the catalyst, it's Satoshi who first breaks through Nino's barrier with really no effort at all.
Because Satoshi's the other guy in the corner who doesn't care about what everyone else is doing. Satoshi is the guy who's staring at the ceiling when they're in a meeting; Satoshi is the guy who's doodling when he's supposed to be taking notes. Satoshi is so like Nino and yet so not-- where Nino is hard, he's soft, where Nino is aware, he's oblivious, where Nino is fine-tuned, he's all over the place, here and there and somehow always in Nino's consciousness despite the fact that he's doing nothing to interact with Nino at all. It would be easy to consider himself better than Satoshi and yet it's impossible, because where Nino's talented with only a little effort on his own part, Satoshi seems to be talented with no effort at all, producing art out of seemingly nothing. And yet, still, when he asks Nino for his opinion, he seems to wait with bated breath, and when Nino says yeah, maybe I like it, it's okay, I guess, he grins like he's won the lottery.
And Nino's never been good with people, but it's easy just to slip his hand into Satoshi's when they walk back to the train station together, easy to rest his head on Satoshi's when they sit side-by-side in a meeting. And before Nino notices, it's just so easy to kiss Satoshi, too, so easy to follow him home day after day to his little apartment with a steady dependability that he used to mock in others just a few short years prior. But somehow, Satoshi is everything Nino needs and more, and hey, Nino's not arguing.
Besides, the rent is cheaper when they move in together, right?
One morning a little over two years after Satoshi and Nino have moved in together, Satoshi gets a package. It's sent to the office, which is bizarre in the first place, but even more bizarre is the fact that the sender is listed as Johnny Kitagawa-- as in, the guy who runs the multi-million dollar company for which they work. The box itself is large and heavy, corrugated cardboard with Chinen printed on the side in gold lettering, and, "That's a computer company," Sho says. Nino knows that, and has a good feeling he knows what sort of computer the Chinen brand produces, but he says nothing, tight lipped as Satoshi slowly, meticulously cuts through the tape and pulls back the cardboard flaps to reveal what's inside.
Sure enough, it's a computer, and, from what Nino can tell by the face just barely visible through the packing peanuts, it's a child. What appears to be the instruction pamphlet lays atop the styrofoam with another loose piece of paper, and while Satoshi gingerly brushes the manual aside to reveal the computer's head and shoulders, Sho grabs for it, but Nino has other concerns. The stray piece of paper, it seems, is a note from the sender, and sure enough, it's signed by Johnny Kitagawa with a short message: I thought you might like one of your own. His name is Yuri. Enjoy him.
Might like one of your own what, Nino wonders, but he supposes that your own computer is the implication, and watches in silence as Satoshi stares at the thing in awe. Satoshi has always been one to be amazed by things that aren't very impressive; while to Nino a computer is just a gadget like his playstation at home only with glass eyes and synthetic skin, to Satoshi, from what Nino can tell, they're wonderful and mysterious, and while, in anyone else, it makes Nino roll his eyes, in Satoshi, it's cute, somehow. Still, he doesn't know how he feels about Satoshi suddenly receiving this package from someone who shouldn't even know his name much less be sending him luxury goods on a whim.
"You press the button at the nape of its neck to turn it on," Sho informs them out of the blue; when Nino glances up, he realizes that Sho's already partway through reading the manual, glasses sliding down the bridge of his nose. It must be Sho's instinct, Nino thinks, to want to be the one to do things by the book, a knee-jerk reaction to read the instructions that he knows none of the rest of them will. "Turn it on, let's see!" Aiba chimes in, and for a moment, Nino dares to wonder if they can pawn the thing off on Aiba, because while he's never heard Satoshi say anything about wanting a computer, he's sure that Aiba would love it.
But then Satoshi is dutifully reaching behind the thing's head, commenting blandly that it has very soft hair as he boots the computer up, and before anyone can respond, the thing is opening its eyes, sitting up. Nino has never seen a computer quite this close before, and damn, he can't help but think, they do make the things pretty lifelike these days. He's going to make a comment to that effect when the computer looks up at Satoshi, its eyes going wide for a long moment before it pulls itself out of its box and tumbles with unrealistic grace into its new owner's lap.
Nino splutters and gets to his feet-- he wouldn't exactly call himself possessive, but Satoshi is his and he feels no regret in making that perfectly clear. Satoshi, on the other hand, doesn't react at all (he's never been one to react, really), and before Nino can do much of anything, the computer leans in close, eyes wide and wet and cheeks a frighteningly natural shade of pink as it says in a plaintively nasal voice, "Will you take care of me?"
Later, Nino will look back on this moment and realize that it's when everything went to hell.
It's a rough night for Nino. They take the computer home with them (what choice do they have?) and feed it dinner (upon Satoshi's insistence) before Nino closes it in the spare bedroom and demands an explanation.
Nino is not one to initiate talks, ever, which is perhaps why Satoshi looks at him long and hard for a moment before sitting opposite him at the kitchen table, his lips drawn tight and his eyes more focused than Nino is used to. It's strange for them to be so far away and separated by something so tangible as the table; they've always been far more physical than verbal at every stage of their relationship, which is probably why this feels all sorts of wrong, but also probably why Nino is left in the dark about this whole affair. It's a feeling that he hates in the best of situations, and the feeling of not knowing when it comes to Satoshi is the worst, which is probably why it feels like someone's punched him in the gut as he looks at Satoshi across the table.
Satoshi says nothing, and neither does Nino for what feels like hours but is much more likely a few moments, but he can hear the computer sobbing from the opposite side of the door to the spare bedroom, and so he snaps, "Why the hell is Johnny Kitagawa sending you jailbait computers, anyway?" much more harshly than he means to.
Satoshi licks his lips and looks down at the table, though his focus is clearly someplace else entirely. "We..." he starts, flinching visibly as a particularly loud wail comes from inside the guest bedroom. "He used to..." But he trails again, running a hand through his hair, shaking his head and sighing before finishing, "...when I was first in the business..."
Nino's never been good with feelings, and before Satoshi even finishes speaking, he can feel his jealousy flaring up, curling in the pit of his stomach and tightening in his throat. It's illogical, he knows, because Satoshi could very well be involved with whoever he wanted to be before he was with Nino, but Satoshi is his, Satoshi is the one person in the whole world to whom Nino feels fiercely loyal, to whom Nino feels inextricably attached, and regardless of the fact that Nino, of course has had previous flings and affairs of the sort, the thought of Satoshi with anyone else is enough to make Nino's blood boil and his stomach curdle with jealousy. And with someone like Johnny Kitagawa, he thinks, what was Satoshi thinking? He's so old and so gross and there were all those allegations back in the day of molestation of some of the younger talents, back when they were young, back when...
And that's when it dawns on Nino exactly what Satoshi means by "he used to..." It shows on his face, he knows, because Satoshi is looking away, lips drawn tight and eyes lowered in shame, and fuck, Nino thinks, how didn't he realize this before, how has he gone this long without knowing--
But Satoshi seems to have taken Nino's silence for either acceptance or anger, because after a moment, he continues, running a hand through his hair. "He's-- eccentric," he explains, as if that much weren't obvious as day, "He gives... gifts." And Nino wants to say something but he isn't really sure what to say, and his voice has gone missing, at any rate, and so he shifts uncomfortably as the guilt becomes more and more apparent on Satoshi's face, as he looks more and more like a kicked puppy.
But what is Nino supposed to say, what is Nino supposed to do? Here he is with a brand new computer locked in his spare bedroom bawling and having just discovered that his boyfriend was likely repeatedly molested by the head of their company, and shit, when did Nino's life become like a TV drama? In fact, he's pretty sure this is much, much more ridiculous than anything he's seen on TV, and it's almost laughable, except for the fact that it's anything but funny. Because what is Nino supposed to do with this situation, what is Nino supposed to do with a computer that clearly wants to seduce his boyfriend? Why did this have to happen when he was finally developing something of a normal life with the one person Nino has ever found who really and truly fits with him, who really and truly loves Nino for the antisocial, clever, acerbic, thoughtful asshole that he is?
But then he comes back to himself and realizes that Satoshi is going on about how he never meant for any of this to happen and he doesn't know why he's getting gifts now of all times and shit, Nino thinks, maybe this isn't all about him. Maybe right now, there are more important things to deal with. And so, without hesitation, he moves around to the other side of the table and pulls Satoshi into a tight embrace.
"Whatever you want... that's what we'll do," he murmurs into Satoshi's ear, holding him tighter, tighter.
"Kazu?" Satoshi asks, and Nino laughs a little bit, softly, quietly.
"Just remember that your ass is mine," he replies with laughter still on his breath, and when he feels Satoshi smile against him, he knows that, despite everything, things will be all right.
A week later, however, Nino is less assured. He's never been good about being selfless, but he's promised himself that on this one occasion, he's going to be supportive of Satoshi and nothing else. Still, when they let the computer out of the spare bedroom and the first thing it does is attach itself to Satoshi again, Nino almost loses it, almost gives the thing a good smack that would hopefully teach it just to whom its owner belonged. But he keeps himself in check somehow, he grits his teeth as Satoshi pets the computer's hair awkwardly and tries to comfort it until the tears subside and it's following Satoshi around like an adoring puppy, instead. Honestly, it makes Nino want to be sick, but he says nothing, nothing for Satoshi's sake. If he wants to take care of the thing, it's his business, and no matter how much Nino hates it, for once, he's not going to make this about him. This is about Satoshi, and for Satoshi he can do it.
But after a week of thankless endurance, Nino isn't sure what to do anymore. His semblance of a normal life has gone from pleasantly eccentric to a hot mess in a single day, and now instead of worrying about getting work done on time or saving up to buy a new game system, he's praying that his boyfriend's new computer doesn't cop a feel every time Nino's back is turned. More often than not, the thing crawls into bed with them in the night, and when Nino can't put up with it anymore, he finds himself sleeping on the couch rather than the stupid computer. As if he's not already moody enough, lack of sleep only makes him less pleasant, makes him even less willing to deal with things like a mature adult and more and more likely to explode at any minute.
But he never gets a break. Satoshi brings the stupid thing to work with them, and all the while it clings to him, all batting eyelashes and pink cheeks and disturbingly human declarations of emotion. Nino seethes in his seat beside Satoshi during the day, seethes standing beside him on the train ride home, seethes as Satoshi caters to the thing through the evening. But there are only so many nights that he can spend the evening in front of his playstation consuming nothing but melon bread and mountain dew from the convenience store on the corner and sleeping on the sofa, and there are only so many days that he can wake up feeling like a bachelor and yet knowing that his boyfriend is curled up warm and comfortable in his bed with some jailbait computer.
And to make matters worse, the stupid thing has the nerve to cop an attitude with him. It titters at him when he wakes up feeling sore and cramped in the morning after a long night on their cheap foam couch, sneers at him when it clings and Satoshi doesn't push it away. It fucking thinks it's winning, Nino thinks, and that, somehow, is what pushes Nino over the edge.
And so, after only a week, Nino snaps. When the thing's guard is down, he yanks it from where it's attached itself to Satoshi and pushes it down into a chair, ignoring the pitiful cries it makes-- it's not even really a person, anyway, he thinks, and when has he been one for empathy. Satoshi says nothing, his mouth drawn into a thin line, but Nino can't take it anymore and ignores him, turning his full attention to the computer.
"We're going to lay down some ground rules," he says, his tone harsh, his gaze cold. The computer looks up defiantly at him but says nothing; its face is flushed, but in its eyes, Nino can see worry, and that's what gives him the unexpected burst of adrenaline associated with a power rush as he begins his laundry list. The computer will stay in the spare room. The computer will not touch Satoshi unless Nino allows it. The computer will not speak until spoken to. Nino hashes out his rules in explicit detail until he can think of nothing else, until he's breathing heavy and his palms are sweaty and he feels completely victorious. He's not going to sit back and let this goddamn computer ruin his life, he thinks, still riding high on the adrenaline, he's going to stick up for himself, and Satoshi is just going to have to deal.
It feels good to watch the thing traipse away to the spare bedroom and pull the door shut behind, head hanging, tears in its eyes. Nino has never had much of a conscience, but right now, all he can feel is vindictive glee as he turns back and heads into the kitchen where, it seems, Satoshi has taken refuge.
"I'll make sure it doesn't bother you anymore," Nino assures with a smile, because certainly Satoshi will be happy as well, certainly Satoshi will be glad to have some semblance of their normal lives together back.
But Satoshi only frowns into his coffee, swirling the contents of the mug around thoughtful. Nino's about to ask what's wrong when, without looking up at him, Satoshi mumbles, "His name is Chinen."
Nino feels as if he's been punched in the gut. Things may have been bad before, but somehow, this feels so much worse.
When Jun first appears on the scene, Nino goes through variety of emotions. He's somehow managed to survive with Chinen for the past few years, but only barely, when Aiba first brings Jun to work with him, Nino is filled with the sudden hope that somehow Jun will be the answer to Chinen. After all, Jun is charming and charismatic and attractive, far more traditionally attractive than Satoshi, if Nino wants to be honest, and he can't help but think that maybe there's a chance that Jun and Chinen will come to some sort of understanding, maybe, as another computer, Jun will understand Chinen in a way that even Satoshi never will, and maybe something will form between them that will com to rival Chinen's pre-programmed attraction to Satoshi.
Because after all, Satoshi lets the thing get away with far more than Nino would ever dream, sometimes to an extent that frustrates Nino beyond words, but he's not exactly ideal lover material to the computer either. While Satoshi will occasionally let Chinen climb into his lap or kiss him on the cheek, he clearly views Chinen as a possession, a computer to be used for recording notes in meetings and accessing the internet at home. And it doesn't seem that Chinen objects, really; after all, he is a computer, and it's his purpose (or at least one of them) to serve as one. He doesn't seem disheartened when Satoshi plugs him into their little monitor and checks his email, doesn't seem hurt when Satoshi asks him to download a new program, but Nino can't help but think that that can't really be what he wants in the long run, someone who sees him as a hard drive and a logic board and series of ports. Maybe he wants to be babied, maybe he wants to be patronized, but Nino really can't see how someone, even someone made of metal and plastic, could really want to be seen for a purpose rather than a personality.
And so Nino holds onto the hope that maybe Jun will be the solution. Jun gets on better with Chinen than the rest of them seem to, even better than Aiba, who tries so hard. But as time goes on, it becomes more and more screamingly apparent to Nino that it's not Chinen that Jun is after, and when, one day, Aiba and Jun show up at work hand in hand, all stupid grins and giggling like schoolgirls, Nino's hope turns to bitterness. Because what right does Aiba have to a computer that loves and respects him? Nino has never done well with classical romance in the first place, Nino has never been draw in by the flowers and the chocolates and the cards, and frankly, no matter who Jun might be, seeing Aiba's relationship unfold in front of him makes Nino want to be sick. But the fact that Jun is a computer that Aiba received by chance, just like Chinen, just drives the whole thing home, just makes Nino want to punch things rather than puke, because it isn't fair. He doesn't know what he did to deserve this, but why Aiba gets a considerate, respectful, mature computer while Nino is stuck dealing with tears and tantrums seems like the universe playing cruel tricks on him.
And worst of all, despite the fact that Jun is Nino's friend in the end and Nino really does like him as a person and as Aiba's lover, Jun seems to sympathize with Chinen. When Nino makes a snide remark or am acerbic criticism of Chinen, Jun only rolls his lips together tightly and says, after a moment, something stupid and diplomatic, like "Maybe it's not easy for him, either." Not only is it frustrating at times when Nino only wants a little sympathy, but it digs into an uncomfortable truth that Nino doesn't really want to face. The fact of the matter is that Chinen has been forced into this situation just as much as Nino has, and as much as Nino hates it, as much as he feels sorry for himself and wishes Chinen had never come into his life at all, there are times when he feels sorry for the kid. They're few and far between, but when Chinen tries to bite back tears, so different than the crocodile tears he usually gives out so freely, when he hears Satoshi call his name and his eyes light up only to be told that he needs to be plugged into the monitor, when he sits in the corner for hours, running low on battery and waiting for Satoshi to remember him... It's times like those that Nino thinks that this isn't fair, not for Chinen as much as for Nino.
But there's really nothing he can do. Chinen is Satoshi's possession just as much as his shoes and his fishing rods and the umbrella he bought for four hundred yen at the conbini last week when it started to rain all of a sudden, and even if he wasn't, it's not really as if Nino can go up to him and tell him to go find someone better for him. He's clearly programmed to only have eyes for Satoshi, and short of learning enough about computers to attempt to reprogram him, a task that seems far too much work for someone Nino hates at the end of a day, there's really nothing within Nino's power that can help the boy.
And besides, usually, after Nino's beginning to sympathize, Chinen goes ahead and does something so infuriating that Nino thinks, he deserves it, he deserves to suffer, and turns his back completely.
It's amazing, Nino thinks, after so many years, that things Chinen does can still get him so badly. One would think that they would have managed to come to some sort of truce-- or be able to ignore one another at the very least-- by now, but it's still practically warfare for Satoshi's attention, practically a battlefield everywhere that they go. The worst situation of all is when Satoshi leaves Chinen and Nino alone together in the apartment, and so Nino has learned to find something to do with his time, whether it's to go to Aiba or Sho's place or to sit in the coffee shop down the street for a few hours or to wander around the shops in Shibuya for a few hours. It's a pain, sure, but it's better than the other option, better than knowing that Chinen has conned Satoshi into taking him along wherever Satoshi is going with fake threats quoted from things that Nino's never said. Chinen doesn't deserve special treatment, Nino thinks, feeling abysmally like the parent of a spoiled, misbehaving child, and he's thought of trying to explain as much to Satoshi, but in the end, he's always decided that it's not worth it and spent his few hours away from the apartment when it's necessary.
But then one day, they hit an unavoidable brick wall-- Satoshi has to go in late for a costume, hair, and makeup meeting for an upcoming concert, and Nino's tied down to the apartment by a deadline the next day for which he's put off even starting his arrangements until now. Nino's procrastination is usually never a problem; he works just fine under pressure, but it's never come down to this, never come down to a situation where Nino is going to be trapped with Chinen alone in the apartment for the next few hours whether he likes it or not. But there's not much that can be done, and so Satoshi explains, in his ever-soft, ever-gentle tone, that Nino has work to do, and won't Chinen be a good boy and leave him alone? And Chinen replies sweetly that of course he will in that tone that Nino knows means that as soon as Satoshi's out the door, things are going to get ugly. But there's nothing to be done, and he's swatted Chinen away enough times before that he thinks maybe this time shouldn't be so bad.
And it's not for the first few minutes. Chinen sits on the sofa and sulks about being left behind, and for a good half hour, Nino is left alone in bliss to fight with the lyrics to make them fit together with the tune of what he's written so far. But when Chinen is upset, he's never really been able to keep it to himself, and before too long, he starts to goad Nino. He peers over Nino's shoulder, commenting on what he's writing until Nino practically shoves him away, and even then, retreating to the sofa once again, he continues to sling digging insults at Nino's work.
But Nino's gotten too much praise and been far too successful to really give a crap what Chinen thinks about his song writing, which clearly frustrates Chinen to no end, because when he fails to get a rise out of Nino, he shifts to the topic of Satoshi. Nino tenses because, clearly, it's the basis for their hatred of one another, and it's one of the few topics that will really get Nino riled up if his buttons are pushed just right. He tries to simply block Chinen's words out, but soon, Chinen is standing right behind him again, breathing down his neck as he's saying, "I bet he doesn't even really like you, I bet you tricked him into moving in together, I bet he only pitied you because you have no friends and no one likes you..."
And it really shouldn't be, but that's enough to push Nino over the edge. When he's spent all if his life without anyone to understand him, when Satoshi's been the only person to really care about him, to really want him for Nino, for all of his faults as well as all of his talents, Nino simply can't take it anymore. He stands abruptly, knocking his chair to the ground and reaching out for Chinen, but the stupid kid's reflexes are too good, and he's already escaped before Nino can grasp him. He chases Chinen into the living room and back through the kitchen twice, but Nino has always been cunning, and on the third time around he manages to cut Chinen off and heard him into the bedroom, a dead end.
Chinen screeches and tries to duck for cover, but, Nino thinks from the rage he's somehow worked himself into, it's all over for him. Shoving the computer onto his back, Nino has his hands at Chinen's neck before Chinen can even attempt to break free, his body shaking, his breath coming in rough gasps. He can feel the hard metal beneath the synthetic skin of Chinen's neck from how hard he's gripping onto Chinen's neck, hard enough that his internal fan is sputtering and he's gasping for breath in a way that's entirely too lifelike for Nino's comfort, but he's too worked up, he can't let go. "This is the end," he growls, his voice rough from exertion and emotion, "This is it," and he can feel the power button beneath his fingers, so convenient, so easy...
But some part of him is aware enough that, with alarming suddenness, reality snaps back to him and he realizes that Chinen is crying, really crying. His eyes are red and his nose is runny and he's wheezing around Nino's hands around his throat, and, Nino realizes, he looks really wretched. Not his usual pathetic, not pitiable or cute in any way, just disgusting and miserable and like a frightened child.
More than anything, Nino is alarmed, and while he doesn't let up, he swallows, trying to reel in his emotions. "What the fuck is wrong with you," he snaps, harsh because he can't figure out any other way to be at the moment, "Isn't this what you were looking for? Weren't you trying to pick a fight?"
But Chinen only whimpers and shakes his head, too hysterical for words, and when his small body starts to shake with his sobs and he begins to choke from Nino's hands clenched around his throat, Nino's grip weakens before he really knows what he's doing. Chinen looks up at him with big, watery eyes for a moment before managing to whimper out, "I'm scared."
And that's when it hits Nino like a tidal wave. He falls back off of Chinen and onto he knees, staring at the boy in simple sudden awareness, and he thinks, this isn't a computer at all. This is another living thing, and what right does Nino have to abuse this person, what right does Nino have to beat and threaten this boy, this child?
"Shit," Nino says out loud as Chinen is struggling into a sitting position, "Fuck."
He doesn't apologize, but he feels like he should, which is a first.
Chinen ends up having to go into the shop for repairs. After his run in with Nino, his breathing is funny, and though he doesn't start to overheat or anything of the like, his continual gasping is pretty pathetic, and so, a week later, Nino offers to take him in. Satoshi is surprised by the offer, but doesn't say anything. Nino has not told him about the event in the bedroom and doesn't plan to, but somehow, he gets the feeling that Satoshi knows. Satoshi is sort of like that.
The guy at the computer store can't be older than eighteen. He wears a name tag that reads "Yamada" in hiragana and a serious expression as he listens to Nino explain the problem.
"And the problem was caused by blunt force trauma?" he asks with a skeptical expression, raising an eyebrow and his tone at Nino.
"There was... an accident," Nino explains hastily, frowning. "But he needs to be fixed, doesn't he?"
The Yamada kid frowns before turning to Chinen. "You ought to be more careful," he scolds with a perfectly straight face before turning back to Nino and handing him the required paperwork, pointing to each item on the page and explaining what Nino is signing off on. Chinen pouts all the while, clearly annoyed at being scolded, something which amuses Nino (rather than annoying him, as it would have only days ago), and when he turns to go, he ruffles Chinen's hair. "Behave for Yamada-san," he bids patronizingly, but it's teasing, it lacks bite.
Chinen frowns at him, still pouting, but as Nino turns to go, he adds a quiet, "Thanks," that Nino just catches.
Nino glances back and offers him a half grin, feeling more pleased than he really ought to, and, despite that he's obviously trying to hide it, Chinen smiles back. And Nino thinks, as he strolls out of the computer store and towards the ramen place where he's going to meet Satoshi for lunch, maybe he's better with people than he thought.