Title: 愛じゃない？ ("ai ja nai?" ~ "isn't it love?")
Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to anything.
Word Count: 3,336
Author's Note: Writing this kept getting Kitto Daijoubu stuck in my head... Written for rainbowfilling; the theme was Monday to Sunday.
Summary: He's well-meaning, Nino knows, but he wishes that Aiba would just leave him alone every once in a while. AU in which Nino is a salaryman.
Mondays are the worst, in Nino's opinion. He was never meant to be a salaryman, he thinks, though what he should have been he really has no clue; honestly, maybe he would have been happier working at a conbini, where he didn't have to dress up in a suit every day and pretend to give a shit. But he'd gone to high school, gone to college like a good boy, and then he'd gotten to senior year with no idea what to do with his life. A few of his friends were applying to this company or that one, and so Nino had applied too, with a lack of any better options.
But strangely, Nino, despite being completely directionless, had been accepted where his friends hadn't, and so after he graduated, he started up right away with his own little cubicle and his own little desk on one of many identical floors of a nondescript office building in Minato. He works next to identical people wearing identical grey suits with identical neat haircuts, and wears the same identical ties and shoes as everyone else. It's overwhelmingly dreary, he thinks, overwhelmingly drab and boring, but the only thing he can think of that he'd rather be doing is playing his Nintendo DS, and it's not really like he could have made a career out of that. And so he boards the train and is packed in beside hundreds of identical salarymen every morning of every day.
But Mondays are the worst, because Mondays are the day that the dreariness and boredom all seems the keenest. After a weekend of blissful freedom, of sitting at home and eating when he pleased and drinking what he pleased and smoking as much as he pleased, after a weekend of playing video games late into the night and waking up whenever he wanted, getting up to the tinny sound of his alarm and pulling on his stuffy suit and dragging his body to the train station feels like absolute torture. And then the sight of all the other salarymen in the same suits with the same tasks in mind... it's enough to make him want to puke.
And then when he gets to work, there's always a pile of papers waiting for him that he should have faced over the weekend but didn't, and the people at the desks around him are always extra chatty on Mondays, catching up after the weekend, bragging about this thing they bought or that place that they went. Nino hates the stupidity of it, hates stupid people in general, and more than anything, he wishes that they would shut up so that he can get his fucking work done and get the hell out of the office, first one or not. Nino's never really cared for those stupid rules of etiquette, anyway.
But worst of all is that Aiba is the most annoying on Mondays. Aiba works two floors below Nino, in the publicity and advertising office, but for some reason, he always seems to find Nino in the elevator or the lobby or the conbini next door. They went to the same college, according to Aiba, anyway, but never spoke during their time there, and honestly, Nino isn't really sure why Aiba follows him around the way he does. But Aiba seems hell-bent on being friends with Nino, and so no matter where they are, as soon as Aiba finds him, he tries to strike up a conversation when all Nino wants is for him to go away.
It's not that Aiba is stupid or a bad person or anything like that, he's just very energetic in a way that makes Nino tired just from watching. He's a people person in every way that Nino isn't, he wants to chat with Nino about things that Nino would rather just as well keep to himself. And he's well-meaning, Nino knows, but he wishes that Aiba would just leave him alone every once in a while. In fact, Nino tries to avoid Aiba as much as he can, but he's quickly learned that that's pretty damn near impossible. If Aiba is anything, he's persistent, which Nino would admire if he wasn't beating his head against a figurative wall every time Aiba tracks him down despite Nino's best attempts to keep his whereabouts on the down-low.
And Aiba is always the worst on Mondays. On Mondays, he's always fuller of energy than usual, as if he's spent the weekend recharging what must be the world's most long-lasting battery, and just so eager to talk. Somehow, the way he's full of life ought to be a break in the monotony from the grey and drab of everyone else in the office building; the way Aiba practically emits sunshine, he may as well have worn a lime green suit every day instead of a grey one. But he just annoys Nino so goddamn much that Nino thinks he'd prefer the boredom, especially on Mondays, when Aiba is desperate to know all about Nino's weekend and tell Nino about the cat who had kittens outside his apartment building and regale Nino with tales of his friends' weekends, as well. And at the end of it all, unwaveringly, Aiba will always ask him if he wants to go out after work.
This isn't peculiar to Mondays; Aiba asks him this every day, and Nino always turns him down. After all, why should he want to go out with someone from work after he's done for the day? All the Nino wants at the end of the work day is to go home and relax and be alone. He likes being alone just fine, but Aiba doesn't seem to understand this no matter how many times Nino tells him, and so this ritual is repeated every single day without end.
But, Nino supposes, one nice thing about Mondays is that all that work he's procrastinated on makes for a good excuse to tell Aiba he really doesn't have the time, sorry. It makes him feel a little less guilty when Aiba looks so dejected at his response.
Tuesdays are okay days because Monday has felt so horrible that Tuesday seems like less of a trauma by comparison. Tuesdays are a little lighter than Mondays, too, because he no longer has to trudge his way through the work that he put off like he does on Monday, so that leaves a little extra time for goofing off at his desk, a little more time for cigarette breaks. The only thing that's just as bad on Tuesdays as on Mondays is Aiba, who is undeterred by Monday's rejection. He asks Nino how his night was, if he did anything fun, if he hung out with anyone, and when Nino's answers are abrupt and uninteresting, he proceeds to bombard Nino with far too much information about his own evening, from what he did to what he ate to what he watched on TV. And of course, he asks Nino out after work, to which Nino, the same as always, tells him no.
But then one particular Tuesday, Nino somehow happens upon Aiba before Aiba finds him. He's on his way down to buy a juice from the vending machines, but before he gets there, he hears what is either Aiba's very distinct, high pitched laugh or a dying hyena and he ducks back, hoping that maybe he can stay out of sight until Aiba leaves. Luckily for Nino, he's clearly occupied, he chatting with another coworker about their plans for the day. But of course, Aiba talks for forever, and Nino is about to give up and come back later when he hears something that surprises him: the other person asks Aiba out after work, and Aiba says no.
Nino's brow furrows; it seems like Aiba never has anything to do after work but go out with friends, considering that he asks Nino out every single day, but maybe, for the first time, he has other plans. Maybe he has a doctor's appointment, or a date, or... something. He isn't really sure why Aiba has never had one of those things ever before in the time that Nino has known him, but somehow, he feels relieved, because now Aiba won't ask him out tonight and he won't have to deal with him, at least for one day.
Except for apparently that's not the case, because a few hours later, despite Nino's best attempts, Aiba catches up with him. He jammers away like usual, but Nino is still crossing his fingers that Aiba will leave soon, clearly with some evening commitment, when the question comes up: does Nino want to go out after work today?
And Nino can't help but let his jaw drop, because, what? After Aiba had turned someone else down... here he was pestering Nino? But that didn't make any sense, because that meant Aiba was asking these things of Nino purposefully, that meant that Aiba wasn't just generally seeking attention, and Nino didn't know what to make of it. It seemed ridiculous, it seemed outrageous, because, when other people clearly wanted to spend time with Aiba, why was he harassing Nino, who clearly just wanted to be left alone? It was unfair, really, and before he really knew what he was doing, Nino was snapping that Aiba may as well accept other people's offers, because Nino sure as hell wasn't ever going to say yes.
If there's anything Nino hates, it's feeling guilty. He tries to pretend he's unaffected, but the look of sadness-- akin to that of a kicked puppy-- on Aiba's face feels tangibly like a punch to Nino's gut, and he thinks maybe Tuesdays aren't that great, either.
Wednesday, he does not hear from Aiba. He feels like this should be a blessing, that when he checks the clock and it's time to head home, he ought to feel relieved that he hasn't heard Aiba's voice once, hasn't had to sit through his obnoxious stories or turn down his obnoxious requests. It's what he's wanted for the whole time he's known Aiba, what he's held his breath for every day for the past god-only-knows-how-long. But yet, somehow, when he's brought it about himself, it feels completely unsatisfying, like reminding someone of your own birthday, and there's a heavy knot at the pit of his stomach that only tightens when he realize that he hasn't even seen Aiba all day.
He doesn't get it; he's never liked people, so why should it be an issue that someone who annoys the hell out of him isn't speaking to him? Why should he care about Aiba's feelings when Aiba had driven him to the point of snapping, anyway? It's really stupid, he's being stupid, and yet, even once he's at home, away from work, he can't stop thinking about Aiba, about who else he must be asking out now, about the friends he's probably spending time with now that he's given up on Nino... or maybe, the way he's sitting sullenly at home, lonely and isolated, without the hope of Nino choosing to go out with him one day--
It's so fucking stupid, Nino tells himself, and by the time he's going to bed, he just wants to bash his head against the wall in the hopes that he can beat Aiba out of his thoughts. But even in the dead of night, he lies awake in bed wondering what Aiba thinks of him now until he finally falls into a fitful, restless sleep.
Thursdays are usually good, because they're the day before Fridays, which means that Nino can begin to procrastinate on his work, but on Thursday morning, Nino awakes feeling tired and worn out, with a pounding headache. At work, he sees hide nor hair of Aiba. This should be a blessing, but yet the knot in his stomach tightens, and he can't get the man off of his mind for the entire day.
Friday, Nino is ready to throw in the towel. As much as he doesn't want to admit it, he feels guilty for telling Aiba off, and as much as he'd lie to anyone who asks, he can't lie to himself about it anymore. After dreading his daily onslaught of Aiba's affections week after week, he finds that, without it, his day loses something irreplaceable, something that he can't concentrate without. It's horribly ironic, really, and Nino is a little disgusted and a lot frustrated with himself, either for growing to depend on Aiba or for not figuring this all out earlier. He tells himself it's not worth his time to figure out which, but some part of him knows that it's the latter.
He searches for Aiba as best he can without seeming like he's searching; god forbid his coworkers think he likes Aiba. But Aiba is nowhere to be found, which makes a whole lot of sense, because Aiba works two floors below him, but Nino has been hoping, just a little, that Aiba will have gotten over Nino's explosion near the beginning of the week and will have come to find him once more. No such luck.
At lunch time, he wanders through the second floor with the excuse that the toilets on his floor are full; no one asks, but it makes him feel better to have have one nonetheless. He sees Aiba from the hall, but he has a serious expression on his face, staring at his computer screen, and Nino feels almost as if someone is gripping his throat, because he's never seen Aiba be that serious before, Aiba shouldn't be that serious, it's not right. But, then again, Nino realizes, he's never sought Aiba out. He's never seen Aiba work, he's never even thought about Aiba working. Perhaps he looks like this everyday; Nino wouldn't have a clue. And, really, Aiba must know things about Nino that Nino doesn't even know, either. What does Nino's face look like when he's concentrating, how does he sit in his desk chair, how does he hold himself as he works? Maybe Aiba sees things in Nino that Nino has never cared to see in himself-- but what the hell is he thinking about, anyway? This isn't about how Aiba sees Nino or about how Nino sees Aiba, for that matter-- it's about the fact that Aiba needs to go back to being what he used to be.
But Aiba isn't looking at him, and Nino isn't sure he wants to catch his eye, anyway. He leaves without accomplishing anything and spends the rest of the day fretting, despite the fact that the procrastination is going to make next Monday something awful. It's not until he's about to leave that he happens to catch a glimpse of Aiba in the hallway, and it's at that point that, excuses and denial be damned, he drops everything and runs after him. He's not really sure what he's going to say or do, not really sure what he even wants to accomplish, but if things don't go back to the way they used to be or at least get resolved somehow, he's never going to be able to get over it.
He's pretty sure he looks like a complete idiot barreling down the hall after someone most of his coworkers must be aware that he strongly dislikes, but right now, the only thing he has in mind is catching up with Aiba, and Nino has always been someone to make sure he gets what he wants. He throws himself down the hallway, all holds barred, and despite that Aiba's legs are much longer than his, he catches up with the other man at the end of the hall, grabbing him by the shoulder.
Aiba looks utterly surprised and confused, but Nino doesn't care. "Do you have any plans for after work?" he gasps out before he really knows what he's saying, breath coming heavy after all the running, and he curses his lack of any athleticism whatsoever.
Aiba stares at him as if he's grown another head, but slowly shakes his head. "No," he replies, his voice careful. "No plans...?"
Nino can tell by the way he phrases it as a question that he has no idea what Nino's leading to. Albeit, Nino had no idea to what he was leading, either, until a moment ago, but his own denial set aside, he's really quite pleased with it. "Well," he begins, putting on a serious face and taking pleasure in the expression of worry that comes over Aiba, "In that case, you may take me out to dinner."
It takes Aiba a moment to digest that, and it plays out on his face. Confusion hangs over his features for a moment before breaking into realization and disbelief. His mouth opens to speak, but closes before it opens again, Aiba's eyes wide as he asks, "Really?" The expression is a little ridiculous; it's as if someone has just told him he's won the lottery, not that a man he knows from work has just invited him out to dinner, but yet, somehow, the look of pure excitement is honestly adorable, and Nino can't help but smile a little bit too.
"Really," he responds, and when Aiba takes his hand and squeezes it tight, warm and sweet and affectionate, Nino thinks that maybe listening to Aiba chatter might not be so annoying in comparison, that maybe it might be worth it for this.
Saturday morning greets Nino with warm sunlight filtering in through curtains that, as Nino drifts into consciousness, he realizes are certainly not his own. Wakefulness comes to him slowly, but Nino's mind has always been quick, and even before he rolls over into the body next to him, he remembers the evening prior. Still, waking up next to Aiba is much more pleasant than Nino ever thought it would be, and he sighs, dropping his head back against Aiba's shoulder and basking in the warmth of his body.
But Nino has never been good for lying still for long, and after a moment, he cracks an eye again, shifting up on one elbow and admiring the man laying beside him. Aiba is long and lean tangled in the sheets, his perfect skin practically glowing in the sunlight. Nino has never really thought of him as particularly attractive before, when the only adjective he affixed to Aiba was annoying, but now, watching him sleep, Nino really can't deny the fact that he's beautiful.
But then Aiba's eyes flutter open and he looks up at Nino for a long moment before breaking into a sheepish smile, and it's in that moment that Nino's breath gets caught in his throat. The past evening, he had spent a lot of time with Aiba, eating with him, listening to him chatter, riding the train back to his apartment, kissing him, sleeping with him. He had listened to Aiba's voice and stared at his face and felt his skin against Nino's own, but yet somehow, only now is it sinking in that really, everything about Aiba is more than beautiful, is overwhelmingly, breathtakingly, amazingly beautiful, and Nino doesn't know how to process it.
"Good morning," Aiba greets in a singsong voice, giggles on his breath.
Nino frowns, his face flushing. "I was wondering when you were going to wake up," he mumbles, but there's no bite behind his words, and he has a feeling Aiba can tell.
"Did you have fun last night?" Aiba asks, still giggling, but before he can say anything else, Nino kisses him. To shut him up, Nino tells himself, but despite the fact that Aiba has disgusting breath, he has the sneaking suspicion that he could get used to this every once in a while-- just for a break in the monotony of all the video games.
Sunday morning, Nino wakes up in Aiba's bed again. This time, he has no excuse, but he doesn't regret it in the slightest.