title: waiting, a simpler variation of ☁ just a little black raincloud remix
word count: 2,860
author's note: Written for jentfic_remix; based on g_esquared's fic here.
summary: Nino blames Jun, Jun is unapologetic, Aiba is lonely, and the weather is bad.
Nino blames Jun entirely for the whole Taiwan business. After all, it's Jun's fault that he's so popular, Jun's fault that every stupid teenage girl and her mother is in love with Doumyouji and therefore in love with Jun, Jun's fault that he's always the go-to sexy guy, romantic guy, misunderstood guy, lovable guy... the list goes on, but it's Jun's fault in the end for being so marketable that he's landed this goddamn role in the first place, and it's Jun's fault (naturally) that the special is being filmed in Taiwan.
Jun is unapologetic, as Jun usually is about these things. The week before, Aiba trails after him like a lost puppy, eyes wide and wet and expression constantly hopeful, as if something will change, but Jun dismisses the issue constantly. "It's for work," he says, as if that will suddenly fix things for Aiba, as if Aiba didn't know that already, "It's not even for a week."
"But Matsujun," Aiba whines, "A week is seven whole days and one-hundred-sixty-eight hours, and--" Nino has known since he looked them up that Aiba would forget the figures for minutes, seconds, but the way Aiba's voice is tight despite the fact that he tries hard to laugh it off more than makes up for the numbers, anyway.
But Jun only softens slightly, sighing and running a hand through his messily curly hair; he's on the tail ends of a perm, and Nino takes small pleasure in the fact that the untidiness of his hair must be driving Jun crazy. "You couldn't come along because of work," he reminds Aiba gently--Tensai! Shimura Doubutsuen filming was scheduled for smack in the middle of Jun's trip, "and I have to go because of work. I'll give you my Taiwanese cell phone number, and you can call me every day, okay?"
Aiba seems to be at least mostly appeased, but Nino is not. The whole Taiwan thing is Jun's fault, after all-- sure, it might be easier to call Aiba immature or clingy, unwilling to accept what is unavoidable in their business, but Nino hardly cares for the truths of outsiders. To Nino, Aiba is a ray of sunshine, and Jun, while sometimes the magnifying glass that focuses Aiba's warmth upon the rest of them, has become a cloud in Aiba's clear skies. Nino knows (hates) that he's powerless to change the weather, but the least that he can do is exact revenge. He's good at that, and it's Jun's fault, after all, for taking Aiba's smile away.
It's grey and dreary on the day Jun's flight is set to depart. The sky threatens rain, and on the way to the airport, Jun bemoans that if his flight gets delayed, this whole trip is going to be off to a bad start. The filming schedule is tight, and Jun needs everything to be on time-- Nino wonders if Jun has ever considered piloting lessons so that he can march up to the cockpit and demand to take control of the plane. The idea makes him snicker.
In the passenger's seat, Jun urges Sho to drive faster. Sho's gaze darts to the speed limit signs and his shoulders tense. Beside Nino, Aiba slouches further into his seat. One-hundred-sixty-eight hours, ten-thousand-eighty minutes, six-hundred four-thousand eight-hundred seconds...
At the very least, they arrive at Haneda with plenty of time to spare, and some of Jun's anxiety calms; he stops fiddling with the useless decorative snaps on the pockets of his pants and fixes his bangs with his middle finger despite the fact that the rain isn't doing wonders for his hairstyle. As they approach the security checkpoint, Sho wishes Jun a safe trip as their leader smiles warmly and nods. "Don't get eaten alive by tigers... or Taiwanese fans," Nino bids with a slouch and a wave, and Jun rolls his eyes, turning away from Nino and to face Aiba. Aiba, who's been uncharacteristically quiet, Aiba, who's looking up at Jun like a kitten caught in the rain, soggy and pathetic with rain dripping from his bangs and rolling down his cheeks-- or...
It must not be rain (or at least Jun obviously thinks it isn't) from the way his face is getting red, but he swallows-- Nino watches his adam's apple bob and thinks damn right, you ought to be feeling guilty-- and says "Don't sulk," giving Aiba a lopsided smile. "You'll have other opportunities to practice your Chinese."
"Got to be thankful for that--" Nino cuts in before Aiba can respond, because the tension is too much for him. It always has been when it comes to Aiba, and he can't leave the conversation serious, lest Aiba start crying in earnest. Jokes may come across as insensitive, but somehow, no matter how halfhearted Aiba's laugh is, it's always better than seeing him lose it completely. Aiba looks mournfully at him, however, not even cracking a smile, and Nino begins to panic. "Now he's pouting. I didn't wake up at five a.m. to watch this," he whines, but he's fairly certain it sounds tinny and off, not like him, not like he means it.
No one comments however, and Jun shifts, running a hand through his damp, frizzy hair. Nino can tell when Jun's heart is too full of Aiba to worry about anything else; his hair is a complete mess and under any other circumstance, he'd be glued to a mirror attempting to straighten it. He doesn't know if any of the others even notice, but it's one of the things that makes Jun perfect for Aiba, really, one of the things that makes Nino put up with his stupid moments.
Stupid moments like when, a beat later, Jun says, "It's work," like a broken record, like he hasn't given that excuse a million times already. Some part of him wants to say that's supposed to make him feel better? but instead he puts on a smirk. "Is that what it is to you?" he asks, anything to lighten the stiflingly melancholic atmosphere, and when Aiba's late "Oi!" cuts in, he hopes he's succeeded.
But Jun ignores him, of course, Jun the sap, Jun the romantic, Jun who stands at airport security gates and pulls his loved one's hands into his own, fingers wrapped gently around Aiba's, the same tenderness wavering in his expression. They look at one another for a moment, just look, and oh my fucking god is this a chick flick Nino wants to scream but he holds it in, somehow--Jun would kill him for ruining the moment, but Nino bites his tongue for Aiba's sake.
"I'll..." Jun starts, but his voice is thick, and he looks down, clearing his throat before trying again. "I'll bring you... a tiger, Masaki," he says, glancing to Nino with a half smile. Nino regrets making the tiger comment earlier-- of course Jun would turn it around and make it something disgustingly romantic. He makes gagging noises and he can see Jun flushing; he likes to know that Jun feels at least a little shame for acting like a lovestruck teenager in front of them.
But Jun still squeezes Aiba's hands, giving him one last radiatingly warm and sickeningly sweet smile-- how can you act so bright when it's so gray and dreary out, when not even Aiba is shining, Nino wonders, but he doesn't give it much thought, because Jun is finally dropping Masaki's hands and turning towards security. "See you guys," he calls over his shoulder in his own Jun way, and even Nino has to admit, (doesn't ever have to admit out loud, ever) it's a little sad when five goes down to four, even just for a week.
Nino turns to the rest of the group as Jun passes into the security line and out of sight, but no one else seems to feel like moving. Satoshi is staring thoughtfully at the donut he'd bought for breakfast earlier, and Sho is glancing nervously at his watch, but Masaki is staring with all his might at the security line, as if somehow he can will Jun into his line of vision again with love alone. It's stupid, Nino thinks, but then again, Aiba is the type to try to will even the sun out from behind the clouds, and Nino can't help but find it a little endearing, despite himself. If Aiba wants to wait, he thinks, they'll wait. They'll wait until Jun's flight takes off for all Nino cares.
Perhaps by Aiba's will or perhaps because the airport is set up that way, they do get to see Jun one last time. He waves from the other side of the security checkpoint, supposedly to all of them, but Nino can tell where his line of vision is. What are we, chopped liver? he wants to say, but Jun probably wouldn't hear him anyway.
Outside, on their way back to the car, it rains and rains, but once they're all (all but Jun) back in the car again, Aiba's cheeks are still wet. It makes Nino's stomach feel queasy, but he consoles himself with the knowledge that he's going to make Jun regret ruining the weather.
Aiba messages Jun six times within an hour of his flight leaving. "He probably hasn't gotten to his hotel yet," Sho suggests when Jun doesn't respond.
Aiba messages Jun eleven times over the course of the rest of the day. "Maybe he's jet-lagged," Ohno offers in a melodically absent tone when Jun doesn't respond. Nino watches Sho writhe as he bites his tongue from pointing out that Taiwan and Japan are only one hour apart in time zones.
Aiba messages Jun twenty three times on the first full day Jun is gone. "Maybe he's just too busy," Nino responds nonchalantly when Jun doesn't respond, trying as always to find a happy medium between placing the blame on Jun and upsetting Aiba further. Aiba nods quietly, clearly trying to be the adult he knows Nino will tell him to be if he complains, but Nino can tell that his eyes are wet, and his resolve begins to waver. The real reason that Jun has not responded is not travel plans or jet leg or his busy schedule. It's because Nino has given Aiba the wrong number for Jun's Taiwanese cell phone.
The reason behind the plan, of course, was to punish Jun for leaving Aiba in the first place-- not hearing from Aiba at all was bound to, at the very least, make him lonely in his few moments of down time, despite the fact that he would never admit it. But Nino had been so eager in his clever revenge scheme that he hadn't quite taken into account how hard the lack of response would hit Aiba, and by the end of the first day of Jun's absence, Nino is practically getting rickets from lack of sunshine. Outside, the rain has ceased at least momentarily, but Nino is much more strongly effected by the weather inside the rehearsal hall.
And so, at the beginning of work on the second day, Nino grudgingly asks to borrow Aiba's phone, making up some excuse about his internet service being slow. That makes no sense; Nino and Aiba use the same cell phone service, but Aiba, sweet, innocent thing that he is, never suspects a thing. His plan is to quickly change the address and then leave things be, but the first thing he sees on Aiba's screen is the list of messages he's sent to Jun already. Nino isn't one to get choked up by pretty much anything, but Aiba's messages come like a punch to his gut, and he can feel his throat get tight. Somehow, this is not what he was expecting; if Jun didn't answer Aiba's inane messages about animals and soda and fun shows on TV, Nino figured it wouldn't come across as strange, but Aiba's messages haven't been about animals or food or TV. Only one-hundred twenty hours, seventy-two thousand minutes, four-hundred thirty-two thousand seconds until you come back, Aiba writes, no emoji, no exclamation points, no anything, only, I miss you. And shit, Nino thinks-- guilt isn't usually his thing, but Aiba's messages are making him feel pretty goddamn awful.
But there's nothing to be done now but to compensate, and so after changing the number in Aiba's address book, he opens the internet browser, pulling up a website with quotes. Sappy things Aiba would never think up on his own, but right now, it's the best he can do.
He watches from afar as Aiba comes back to his phone, blinks at the screen, and then begins to type furiously. Two hours later, the phone rings, and Aiba's eyes light up as he fumbles to answer, nearly dropping the phone in his excitement.
"What website did you get that off?" Nino can hear Jun through the phone, trying to sound annoyed, and Nino's not sure if he wishes Jun actually were or if he's glad that Jun is clearly touched despite the cheesiness of the quote.
"MatsuJun--" Aiba starts, his voice thick, heavy with emotion, with love, with relief. His eyes are wet and again, and Nino has to look away, but he can't help listening to the product of his handiwork despite himself.
Aiba swallows audibly before pulling himself together. "But you liked it, didn't you!" he chimes, and you better damn well have liked it, Nino thinks, because he was forced to give up his revenge for this, dammit. Jun complains in response, but clearly, he did indeed like it, and after a beat, he admits, "I just kept grinning."
Nino glances over his shoulder on impulse, and he's glad he did; the smile that blooms on Aiba's face is a work of art, is too beautiful, too wonder, too bright-- he almost needs sunglasses. But he can't let this get out of hand, either; he just can't deal with emotions, with the feeling his best friend's happiness is causing in him, and so he rises as Aiba offers a clearly unapologetic apology, making his way to Aiba's side and snatching the phone away. At the front of the room, the rehearsal director is looking impatient, anyway, which makes for a good excuse.
Aiba grabs at him in an attempt to get the phone back, but Nino doesn't relent. "HI HONEY," he coos to Jun in his most obnoxious of voices, "I HAVE TO GO NOW BECAUSE I'M MAING MY BANDMATES WAIT AND SUFFER OUR NAUSEATING GLOWY AFFECTION, BUT I SWEAR I'LL CALL YOU BACK LATER!" With that, he hangs up with a triumphant smirk, handing the phone back to Aiba.
"Nino," Aiba whines, but there's not much annoyance to his voice as he puts the phone back in his bag and rises to join the others in front of the mirror, and even before he's finished looking at Nino, he can't fight the smile off his face. Glowy indeed, Nino thinks, but in the end, as he basks in the warmth of it, he can't really make that into a bad thing.
Aiba's bad memory is sometimes endearing, but after the seventh time he insists Jun's plane should have landed at that very moment, Nino is getting a little sick of it. He does his best to be as detached from these matters as possible, but he's on the brink of breaking down and looking up Jun's flight information when his phone buzzes.
"Hi honey," Jun coos at him from the other end of the line, "I'm home."
Nino frowns. "Go away," he snaps, but there's no real bite to his tone. Jun has saved him a chore, at any rate.
Aiba asks him about a hundred times how long it takes to get from Haneda to their rehearsal studio, and finally, Nino can't keep his straight face anymore. "Fine!" he cries, throwing his arms up in the air, "Go stand out in the rain, see if I care!" He tries to sound frazzled, but he can't keep from grinning, just a little at the corner of his mouth.
"Thanks, Nino," Aiba says with smile, hugging Nino briefly, but Nino knows his mind is already downstairs, out on the sidewalk, waiting for Jun.
With Aiba gone, they're forced to call a break. Nino can see the front of the building from one of the windows in the hall, and he unabashedly plants himself in front of it. I want to be able to make fun of them afterwards, is his excuse, but luckily, no one asks.
A few floors down, Jun is stepping out of a taxi. He has about half a second to get acquainted with his surroundings before Aiba is tackling him, practically knocking him to the puddle-ridden sidewalk beneath them.
Nino can't help but smile to himself just a little as he steps away from the window, crossing his arms and shaking his head. He can do his best to be a little black raincloud, but at the end of the day, he can't deny that Jun's stupid glowy affection works wonders to clear up the weather.