pairing: Nino/Aiba friendship or whatever you want it to be
word count: 1,476
author's note: Written for rainbowfilling! The prompt was Always there... yes that's you.
summary: Nino has never been a people person, but regardless, Aiba is always there.
There are so many boys in Johnny's juniors, so many kids his age, older kids, younger kids. There are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kids who are just so eager, eager for any opportunity to shine on the stage, in front of the camera, and there are ambitious kids, the kids who have goals and planners with every last detail in a neat list in ink and who are willing to stay the extra day and go the extra mile until they make it. There are the shy kids, new to Johnny's and to show business, and there are the snotty kids, kids who have done movies or who were hand-picked from their audition by Johnny Kitagawa himself. There are hierarchies up and down and everywhere, east versus west, old versus young, this group versus that group, senpai, kouhai, friends, enemies. There are intricacies to everything as if this group of competitive young boys were its own society somehow, driven not by money or love but the desperate need to achieve fame, to be cast in the next drama or put into the next group, to achieve the poorly-defined steps towards the hazy goal of debut.
Nino has never been a people person, and he's pretty sure being in Johnny's isn't helping-- in fact, some days the posturing and power-play are enough to make him doubt that this was all worth the few weeks' allowance his mother had promised him if he attended his audition. He judges them all, every one of the boys around him in the harsh light of realism, because what are the eager boys but idealistic idiots, putting all their love and energy into some unforeseen and intangible future, and what is there for the ambitious kids but eventual failure in an industry where hard work doesn't always equate to commercial success? He wants to tell the shy kids that they're in the wrong business, wants to show the snotty kids that they're not all that special. He knows he's smarter than them, after all, smarter than them all, east or west, old or young, senpai or kouhai. Nino has no friends and no enemies; he doesn't speak to anyone or interact with anyone when he doesn't have to. He hangs off to the side or in his own corner, silently judging the other boys around him, because that's what he's always done, because he's really never liked people.
And generally, he's pretty good at avoiding interaction. It's a practiced art for Nino; he's been doing it his whole life, avoiding other children scouting members for clubs at school and grating relatives at home, so it's hardly trouble to stay out of the way of boys in a crowd who seem pretty self centered, anyway. He dutifully does what he's told by rehearsal directors and wardrobe personnel and no more, he lies low when the other boys feel the need to peacock strut and keeps his mouth closed when opinions are asked. It's easy to be antisocial, and in Nino's opinion, being social is overrated, anyway.
But there's one boy who, no matter how hard Nino tries, he can't seem to avoid. Aiba Masaki is tall and lanky and awkward, full of energy with nowhere to go; to say he's one of the eager boys is an understatement. He seems to love everything and everyone earnestly in a way that Nino doesn't understand, and on top of that, he seems to want to share that love with anyone in his vicinity. Unfortunately, that includes Nino, who rides the same train as Aiba after work each day.
At first, Nino tries to escape, to find an open seat on the other side of the train or maneuver himself such that he's separated from Aiba by a crowd of businessmen or a gaggle of schoolgirls, but, he supposes bitterly later, it was silly of him to doubt Aiba's perseverance, because Aiba always tracks him down. He seems hell bent on chatting with Nino for the whole train ride, come hell or high water, and Nino isn't sure if Aiba simply doesn't notice that he wants to be left alone or somehow takes pleasure in Nino's suffering. Some part of Nino wishes it were the latter; that would at least add some substance to Aiba's character, but he highly doubts it. There's nothing conniving or deceitful about Aiba, and though Nino can judge him for it until he's blue in the face, he's stuck with Aiba regardless. As much as Nino tries, there seems to be nothing he can do; he's thwarted by Aiba's determination to be friends.
And so it becomes a constant. Nino sits on the train beside Aiba each day, listening to him ramble about his pet dog or this funny thing his brother did or a joke one of the others boys told at work the other day. It's annoying, but Nino learns to deal with it eventually, snickering to himself about the stupidity of the stories, or Aiba's naive perspective on life. Still, Nino has always been bright and incredibly perceptive, and so, day by day, he learns more and more about Aiba; day by day, he becomes more enveloped into the narrative of Aiba's life until he knows the names of Aiba's family members and his dog, until he knows Aiba's likes and dislikes and sleep habits and what video game he's currently trying to beat. Eventually, some of the stories are about Nino, too, and that tickles Nino despite himself, to see himself through Aiba's silly, overly-earnest perspective. Aiba calls him grumpy, and maybe he's right, but Nino can't help but chuckle nonetheless, chuckle where, a few months ago, he would have rolled his eyes...
And Aiba doesn't only talk, he asks, too, asks after Nino's day, his school, his life with such persistence that Nino finally breaks down and answers in short, curt, one-word responses. He figures that Aiba's head is filled with air and that Aiba will forget soon enough anyway, but he's (pleasantly) shocked when, slowly but sure enough, Aiba becomes just as acquainted with Nino as Nino is with Aiba. His surprise must show, because one day, when Aiba informs Nino that he's gotten a present for Nino's upcoming birthday, Aiba laughs at his expression and slips his hand into Nino's and says, as if it's clear as day and Nino is the stupid one, "What else are friends for, silly?"
And Nino is caught off guard because he doesn't know.
There are so many guys in Johnny's, so many men his age, older guys, younger kids. There are bright eyed and bushy tailed guys who are just so eager, eager for any opportunity to shine on the stage, in front of the camera, and there are ambitious guys, the guys who have goals and planners with every last detail in a neat list in ink and who are willing to stay the extra day and go the extra mile until they make it. There are the shy guys, new to Johnny's and to show business, and there are the snotty guys, guys who have done lots of movies or who were hand-picked from their audition by Johnny Kitagawa himself. There are hierarchies up and down and everywhere, east versus west, old versus young, this group versus that group, senpai, kouhai, friends, enemies. There are intricacies to everything as if this group of competitive young men were its own society somehow, driven not by money or love but the desperate need to achieve fame, to be cast in the next drama or release the next single, to achieve the poorly-defined steps towards the hazy goal of fame.
Nino has never been a people person, but sometimes, his groupmates force him out with others from their agency, younger kouhai who look up to them with starry eyes or guys closer to their age who like being able to say that the go out for drinks with Arashi. It's not bad, most of he time, Nino sits back quietly and sips his drink and lets the others do most of the talking.
Friends, the others call them when they talk about these outings later, on TV or amongst themselves, going out with friends. Nino only rolls his eyes to himself, because as far as he's concerned, the others are wrong.
And when they split up for the night each heading to their respective cars, sometimes, Nino hangs close to Aiba, waving goodbye to the others before simply following, fingers linked loosely with Aiba's. Nino smirks, poking fun at things Aiba said that evening, did that day, and Aiba only smiles.
"Still coming home with me after all these years?" he asks back, his own tone gently teasing as he unlocks the car door.
Nino grins and shrugs. What else are friends for? he thinks as he responds, "Always."