wendyjoly: (sakumiya)
[personal profile] wendyjoly
Title: Possibly maybe
Author: WendyJoly
Genre: Romance
Rating: PG-13 – NC-17
Pairing: Sakumiya
Beta/ Mental support : The irreplacable [livejournal.com profile] jtaytt and [livejournal.com profile] sky_fish7

Summary: Ninomiya Kazunari is meant to become a computer engineering in one of those big anonymous companies of the capital when he falls in love with a beautiful stranger he met on the train. Well, met isn’t the word since he never dared talking to the man.
Notes: This story was originally written for the wonderful Nino's exchange :)



"Is this a joke?!" Nino growled to a mortified Aiba. "I won’t go in there!" He whirled around, leaving two bewildered businessmen behind.

Aiba ran after his friend, grabbing his sleeve forcefully.

"I didn’t know! I swear to you! Nino please, we can’t take the risk of losing them, please!"

Nino knew Aiba hoped for a contract with their enterprise for months, that it would allow them to definitely hire the three guys in internship at their company but dinning with them at "Le Bistrot" was out of question. Why amongst the thousands of restaurants of Tokyo, did they chose this one, moreover on the 14th of the month? It couldn’t be a coincidence, it was obviously one of Aiba's tricks to eke him out there and it was out of question.

"Tell them I had a family urgency. I won’t set a foot in there."

"Wait, wait!" Aiba fetched his cellphone with one hand, refusing to release Nino’s sleeve even for a second. "I’ll call Jun to ask him if he’s here and if he’s not, it’s safe, right? You can’t leave, it will be disastrous for our reputation, and what will they think of us?"

"Tell them we’re going somewhere else," Nino said, trying to reach a consensus.

"THEY chose the place! Stop freaking out and let me call Jun."

Impossible, he couldn’t, he couldn’t without starting a panic attack. One month. One long month he wallowed in his sadness, dying to call Sho, to run to his apartment, knowing perfectly well that he was a coward who was unable to do so. He wasn’t able to stomach the idea of telling him how he felt about him, only to have him crush his heart all again.

Aiba closed his cellphone, putting it back inside his jacket. "He isn’t at the restaurant! So? They are waiting for us. For the company, please, I beg you!" he made his puppy eyes and Nino knew he was fucked.

As if he had a choice.

"I can’t, Masaki, don’t ask me this please," he tried once again, knowing it was wasted because his friend was the sweetest man on earth, except when it was about their company.

"Man up, Nino, and face your fear, you can’t avoid the restaurant until the end of time."

"…Okay but for your information, I totally CAN avoid this damn shop until the judgment day. And release me, please."

"Thanks, you won’t regret it. And no, I won’t, until we’re inside."

They apologized profusely to their potential clients, then entered the place.

Nino’s heart was hammering crazily as he walked in, the businessmen in tow. The restaurant didn’t change –of course it didn’t, it’s been only one month, idiot!- and Nino couldn’t help but look at his feet as they passed by the kitchen’s doors. The reservation had been indeed made by the clients, Aiba made this I-told-you-so face to Nino and they took the biggest table in the middle of the room. Nino let them choose their chairs, taking the last, the one facing the reception desk.
Matsumoto brought them the menus and Nino read the small line added for this special day with disgust. He watched the people around, all those strangers in the restaurant and he felt nauseous. Sho would sleep with one of those people tonight or tomorrow. Of course he wasn’t here, since Matsumoto told them so but they ignored it. He had probably picked someone during the lunch service. A man, a woman? Nino didn’t want to know. He was dying to know. Was he someone like him, small and insecure? Was it Sho's type? Perhaps he didn’t have any type at all, choosing someone totally different each time, maybe someone far from this lover who died?

When the two businessmen gloated about this rumor telling them the master of the place slept with a chosen client once a month, it made him sick. After an endless dinner of not listening to his neighbors, not fidgeting in his chair, it was the icing on the cake. He jumped from his chair and ran to the bathroom. Shortly after, Aiba knocked at the cubicle’s door as Nino sat on the floor, exhausted.

"You okay?"

"Do I look okay?" Nino threw at him while opening the door.

"Excuse me, I shouldn’t have insisted. I’m so sorry Nino, I didn’t know you are going to be this bad," Aiba sounded sincerely worried and Nino gave up lying.

"I just thought about all those…people he slept with, about the night we spent and it kills me. I thought I’d forget, that I could live with the memories and it would be enough but the fact is that it isn’t. And tonight he’s not here, maybe is he already sleeping with someone else, right now."

Aiba bit his lip guiltily and fetched from the pocket of his jacket a small black card Nino recognized immediately.

"It was slid into the folder with the bill, I guess it’s for you."

Nino took it and contemplated the small card startled. "There’s something written on the back."

10:00 pm. Nino knew the cursive writing, he looked at it so many times on the card he kept preciously in his wallet until the corners of the card was damaged.

"Will you go?"

Nino sighed tiredly. "I don’t know, honestly I don’t know. I don’t think I can cope with it anymore. This…stuff says he chose me today but what if he choose someone else next month, next week?"

Aiba put his arm around Nino’s shoulders. "But he did choose you. Twice. And this time you didn’t even chose the special meal. Things happen for a reason, Nino, and if you keep on coming back to him, there must be a reason, definitely."

"We’re heading nowhere. What kind of behavior is it? Picking someone and throwing him away after one night?! He’s a fucking twisted pervert!"

"Look. I’m not an expert in commitments and such but he wanted you one month ago and he still wants you, maybe you can make him change his mind about this pick-me-up stuff. After all, as far as we know he didn’t cheat on you since last month and he won’t until the next."

"What do you mean? That I have one month to make him change his mind?"

Aiba smiled wickedly. "Exactly. Now will you go?"

It was damned twisted. Damned twisted. But…Masaki was right, neither of them had sex with someone else. Two months with an exclusive partner was a kind of –strange- relationship, right?

"Sorry for the clients," Nino raised up suddenly.

"Just go," Aiba pushed his butt out of the cubicle, readjusting his jacket.

Nino hailed a cab and soon he was knocking at Sho’s apartment. When the door opened he was dragged inside by a strong arm and pinned against the wall, devoured by an eager mouth. They kissed passionately, grabbing each other’s bodies as a drowning man would clutch a lifebuoy. Nino felt his blood running through his veins again, the air invading his lungs again, he was finally alive after surviving four weeks of deprivation.

Then, Sho moved back and without saying a word he held his hand out. Nino took it and followed him to his bedroom. It was nothing like the first night they had sex, it was raw and urgent and Nino was sure it would leave marks for days after for both of them but he was living the time of his life as he was riding Sho’s muscular body.

They climaxed quickly and Sho made Nino roll over the bed, weighting on his slim body. They smiled like fools, exchanging sweet caresses better than love words.

"I was afraid you wouldn’t come to the restaurant today," Sho cooed, looking at Nino straightforwardly.

"Honestly…I didn’t want to."

"So why did you…?" Sho seemed surprised and his smirk didn’t manage to belie the dryness of his tone.

He left Nino’s belly and laid down by his side, his fingers intertwined on his flat stomach. Nino could feel his anger…his disappointment as if he had rejected him, but he couldn’t be disappointed, could he? It was probably only a matter of pride. A misplaced pride.

"I had an appointment with clients and they chose your place."

"Lucky me," Sho snorted, his fingers playing nervously on his bare stomach.

Nino leaned his elbow on the mattress, propping his head on his hand, taking a minute to observe his partner. Wasn’t he really the one allowed to be vexed?!

"But I’m here," he said eventually, putting his hand on Sho's. He didn’t feel so bad anymore, suddenly. Maybe it was only because he just climaxed, probably because Sho had lost a bit of his usual bravado. He rested his crossed arms on Sho’s chest, putting his chin on them to watch him leisurely.
"Sho?"

A smile adorned Sho’s face. "What?"

"I’m glad to be here."

This time the smile was smug. "Because I made you come."

"Because we made each other come," Nino said while pecking Sho’s lips, surprised not to feel a bit of embarrassment.

"We’re pretty good at it."

"Definitely," Nino laid back on the mattress to hide a gaze he knew would be too relevant.

They were better than good, they were a perfect match, sexually speaking. He never thought it was possible for him to feel this toe-curling passion, to be so different from the shy guy he usually was in bed.

"Nino?"

"Yeah?"

"Perhaps I am presumptuous when I think that sex is…really, really good between us."

"Amazing sex…"

"Hot…"

"Hot." Nino turned on his side and slid a hand under the sheet, gently stroking Sho’s lower belly, waking his desire with a simple feather-like touch.
"What if…I don’t know…," Nino lazily caressed Sho’s semi hard member as if trying to prove his point, "We can have sex from time to time."

Sho’s breath shortened as his member was thickening, erasing every coherent thought from his brain. "Like a fling?" he murmured out of breath.

"Hm, yes. Like a fling. No commitment, just pleasure. And we stop when we’re done," Nino couldn’t believe he was that bold but definitely he appreciated what he was doing to Sho. Seeing him losing ground, collecting the bead of clear liquid that was poised at the tip of his cock to lick it eagerly, utterly erotic. He masturbated him slowly, leisurely, bringing him to the edge, then stopped, making the other gasp out of frustration. "So?"

Sho cupped his face and kissed him. "Yes. Yes." He grabbed Nino’s hand and put it back on his hard-on.


+ + +



"And he agreed to be your fucking buddy?" Aiba was sitting on Nino’s desk, visibly stunned by his friend’s unexpected boldness.

"I hate this term…fucking buddy…but yeah, basically that’s it. I couldn’t seriously ask him to be my boyfriend."

"Why not?"

"Because if he wanted a boyfriend, this wicked lottery wouldn’t exist in first place. No way, I don’t want to make him run away by asking him out." He took a sip of the styrofoam cup Aiba brought him.

"But you want him to be your boyfriend?"

He felt so great when he was with Sho, he refused to live the hellish month once again. Or those four years of loneliness. "I have to try, at least. Twice already I let him disappear from my life and I can’t say it made me anything but miserable, so I have to try my luck. And maybe, I’ll be cured of my silly Sho addiction after this month of sex. Does it even make sense?"

Aiba patted his shoulder strongly. "I like that spirit, boy! When will you meet?"

"Tonight."

Having a goal and an entire month to achieve it gave Nino hope and a draft of a plan began to form. He wasn’t a daring guy, but drastic situations meant drastic solutions.

His mother wasn’t an expert in love relationship, yet, he perfectly remember what she said about her men. "Men are used to have the upper hand. Treat them mean, keep them keen."

For once, Nino thought she wasn’t wrong. Sho was used to choosing when and where, and who…resisting his charms would tease his interest and if it didn’t achieve his goal, it would protect Nino from a bigger disillusion. Somehow it was a win-win situation but was he able to play such a game? He wasn’t sure.

He went to Sho’s place with this positive spirit and a bullet proof plan in his pocket.

"Gosh. It was fan-fucking-tastic!" Sho shouted as Nino was sitting on the couch after a hot steamy session of sex.

They didn’t even reach the bedroom this time, didn’t take the time to undress fully before jumping at the each other hungrily. They met for the third time since they decided to have a fling and each time, things happened the same way. Sho waited for him at his apartment after closing the restaurant and as soon as Nino had passed the threshold, they quenched the thirst they had for each other, then Nino showered before leaving the place. A quicky, as Aiba called it poetically. It wasn’t satisfying but at least Sho was totally his during those moments of stark lust. And like Sho said, sex was fan-fucking-tastic.
Nino left the couch and without a word went to the bathroom. He showered, indulging himself by using Sho’s shampoo and body lotion while cursing his own cheesiness. He was trying to cure his addiction, not compound it, damned! He dressed up hastily, it was almost midnight and he could be in bed by one if he’d find a cab quickly. But when he came back in the living room, Sho was cooking, wearing only his black slack unzipped and Nino’s groin stiffened at the view. He put his sweater before him to hide it and waved at the man before beelining for the door.

"Good night."

"Wait!" Sho whirled around, putting the appetizing meal on the kitchen counter. "I didn’t have time for dinner at the restaurant and I thought that maybe you could share my meal. I remember you like my veau Marengo."

Fuck. He was so perfectly sexy and gentle. If only he wasn’t so twisted, Nino thought bitterly. But he had to stop this or he would cry tears of blood the day Sho put an end to their pseudo-relationship. He was already mourning it.

Sho sat on a high tool and tapped on the place next to him after serving two plates of the wonderfully mouthwatering meal. Nino put his sweater back on the couch and complied half-heartedly, cursing his weakness.

"Is it good?" Sho asked, watching Nino eating.

"Are you fishing for compliment, Monsieur le chef?"

Sho laughed joyfully, his whole body jolting sexily. "I love your French."

"Sho…," Nino said seriously. He had to cut this crap because his heart won’t cope with it anymore. "I think we have to establish some boundaries if we want to make this fling thing work."

"Boundaries? I’m all ear."

"First, we’d better not spend this kind of moments together."

"Like good moments you mean?" Sho arched a skeptical eyebrow.

"Like good moments beside sex. Just to keep it casual."

"Neat?" Sho snorted, allowing the pissed guy of the other day to show again.

"Look. I’m just trying to make things less complicated. It will be harder to go back to our lives once we’re done if we know some stuff about the other. For me at least."

"What kind of stuff?" Sho said as if he didn’t hear the last part of the sentence.

"Don’t know…stuff! I…should go now."

Nino almost ran away from Sho’s place. He wasn’t really proud of himself, he had been a coward once again, acting this way to protect himself. But one thing was for sure, his mother would be damned proud of him even if this pitiful retreat had very little to do with her love philosophy.

He was very surprised when the next day he received a message from Sho setting another rendezvous for the next night. At his restaurant.



+ + +




"So, asking a few questions is a no go?" Sho asked in the afterglow of sex.

Summoning Nino at the restaurant was a bit daring since the latter stated clearly he didn’t want anything but sex, but they had sex, indeed. In Sho’s office at the restaurant after the closing hour. For a man who never had sex with lights turned on until recently, it had been damned exciting.

"A fling is exciting by essence," Sho had susurrated into Nino's ear while taking him from behind on his desk after throwing away everything that was on it.

"It depends of the question, I guess."

"So are you hungry is totally fine –tell me if I’m wrong- but how old are you is forbidden?"

"In essence, yes. It’s a matter of boundaries," Nino said with a crooked smirk while zipping his pants.

"This is a very basic question yet," Sho walked to the kitchen, his shirt opened and wrinkled, a reddish mark just above his left nipple where Nino had bit him a few minutes ago. "Even strangers can have this kind of information and we’re barely strangers." He put a tray on the working island Nino just sat on.

"Do you plan to feed me each time you fuck me?"

"Should I answer this question?" Sho took an asparagus from a plate and fed it Nino.

Nino groaned shamelessly. "Smart ass. Hm this stuff is too good. And definitely phallic."

"Don’t moan like this or I won’t behave and I can’t take you in my kitchen or I’ll be unable to focus on my cooking from now. And I guess, yes, that’s what I do."

"Fuck?"

"Feeding people. Smartass. And fuck you from time to time."

Nino bit his lips to repress the irrepressible smile. He couldn’t help but love their chit-chat game while hating the fact that the man wasn’t one amongst the others, free to be his boyfriend and certainly not a man linked by a promise made to a beloved but dead companion.

"A lot, lately," Nino said, swallowing another of those delicious asparagus.

"Are you complaining?" A shadow veiled Sho’s gaze and Nino heard the question very differently. Are we done? was the innuendo. He wished, he could tell him they would never be done if he had a say but he couldn’t without frightening Sho. Instead, he grabbed a plate and fed Sho a stuffed mushroom. "Avoiding my question again?"

"I’m not complaining." The time of a breath, Nino considered lying or subtly changing the subject. It wasn’t that hard, he could get on his knees, get down on him and Sho would forget he had even asked. Maybe it was the atmosphere of the empty restaurant or Sho’s half-nakedness, the red wine he made him drink. But suddenly, the game didn’t matter that much. "It’s just not that easy for me…I’m not a one-night-stand guy so I try to do my best to cope with this…affair. It’s only self-preservation, Sho."

Sho thumbed the corner of Nino’s lips. "I’m not gonna hurt you."

"Not intentionally at least. I think…it’s time for me to go."

Nino flinched and it was his cue to go. He jumped from the kitchen island, decided to take off once again but Sho gripped his forearm. Nino's resolution faded like snow in the sun under the fiery gaze.

"Stay, please."

"Why?"

"Because we get along pretty well despite the rarity of our exchanges. Our verbal exchanges," Sho smiled, charmingly. "And because you didn’t finish eating."

Sho pulled softly and Nino sat back reluctantly. He was a coward emotionally speaking and so? They kept on eating in silent for a moment.

"I’m 29 by the way. I don’t really fear the big 3.0. next year but…I’m not totally at ease with the idea either. It’s like a U-turn you know, when you’re a kid you think ‘I’ll do this, I’ll do that and when I’ll be thirty years old I’ll have two kids, a small house with a blue fence, a dog and why not someone to love’. The deadline is near, I think it’s off to a bad start."

Nino listened to Sho babbling, observed him while he ate casually as if they were long time lovers sharing a pillow talk. He didn’t want to make it easy for Sho but he couldn’t help the flock of butterflies taking off inside his stomach. It was bad.

"Twenty-nine isn’t old unless you’re an unmarried Jane Austen character," he said before even thinking of the consequences of those simple words.

"You know Jane Austen?!"

"I don’t, not at all! But…Maybe did I see by chance an adaptation on TV." Nino shrugged. No, he won’t tell Sho he had several BBC’s DVD boxes set of the adaptations on a shelf in his bedroom. It was part of his secret garden and definitely sensitive information. Far worse than giving his age.

"Which one is your favorite?"

"Pride and Prejudice, obviously." Way to go Nino, so much for sensitive information. He waited for the inevitable giggle –or chuckle, since Sho was so manly- but Sho took another delicious mushroom while pouring a glass of red wine, a Bordeaux, to Nino.

"I studied English literature at university. It was my major and I planned to write my thesis on Thomas Hardy’s work, but Jane Austen was my second choice."

"So why…why are you a cook?"

"By chance. I read this book that changed the course of my life. Karen Blixen’s Babette’s feast did you read it?"

Nino shook his head.

"The story revolves around this woman, Babette who’s a French cook, serving –gratuitously- as a maid for two sisters in a small Danish congregation, very austere. For 14 years she cooks tasteless meals according to their church’s precept but one day she wins at the lottery, a very big amount of money. Yet, rather than going back to Paris, she decides to offer a real feast to the congregation, a real French dinner. Although the celebrants refuse to comment on the earthly pleasures of their meal, Babette’s gifts breaks down their distrust and superstitions, elevating them physically and spiritually."

"And you became cook because…?"

"It seemed so appetizing, so wonderfully written that I could feel the taste of those meals on the tip of my tongue. I had to find a French restaurant to taste those meals she described, so I found one, met the chef and…I fell in love with his cooking. I couldn’t do anything else."

Nino gasped, torn between admiration and thrill, fascinated despite his resolutions. This man was one of his kind. "You’re crazy. Your parents were mad at you?"

"They were and they still are!" Sho laughed genuinely, stretching his arms above his head. "They wanted a teacher, they paid a considerable sum of money to send me to university and I run away to France in the middle of my last year. I’d kill my own children if they do the same thing to me!"

"I admire that. You followed your dream."

"But you did the same. You quit your job."

"For nothing special. If Masaki hadn’t found me, I’d probably be a hobo as we’re talking," Nino grinned, stretching his painful legs before him. He sat twelve hours behind his desk today and the physiotherapist chair didn’t prevent the cramps. Sho reached out and laid Nino’s legs on his laps, skilfully massaging them, sending jolts of pleasure all over his sated body.

"Don’t underestimate your talent. Your company won’t be as thriving if Aiba hadn’t crossed your path."
Nino laughed for good, Sho was so good with white lies. "How do you know?"

"You should listen to your friend, hon. Aiba never tires of praising your incredible skills."

"You talked to Masaki?"

"It’s common knowledge that he and Jun are an item now, right? He spends a lot of time at the restaurant."

"He didn’t tell me, this traitor!" Nino said with a blatant bad faith.

Sho smiled enigmatically. "Do you want me to stop?" he said, looking at Nino’s legs.

"…Don’t, please."



+ + +




"Show me your stuff."

"I don’t wanna."

"Go on, don’t be a sissy."

"It’s…personal, I can’t show it like this."

"Okay. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine."

Nino reluctantly handed his iPod to Sho. His song list was utterly personal, the soundtrack of his life and he never showed it to anyone. He was a music lover, his taste was eclectic and often linked to a memory, positive or negative, it didn’t matter. He wasn’t ashamed by his musical tastes but he didn’t like to explain or argue about why he liked to listen to some oldies or cheesy tunes. It was personal.

He observed Sho as he was skimming his track list with a perfect poker face, then took a glance at him before giving him the iPod back.

Taking his earphones from his back pocket, he plugged them into the device.

"Pick a song for me," he cooed.

"Which one?"

"You chose. Don’t think too hard, pick the first you want."

He did. The first song he used to play when he was done or too tired to open his eyes. "I believe in a thing called love" by The Darkness. A rock, punchy, feel good song, pushing you to dance until your legs give up. Sho gave him one of the earphones and when Nino had put it in his ear he started the music.

Sho arched a skeptical eyebrow at him. "The Darkness, really?"

"Why?"

"I don’t know, I thought you were more pop and Hisaishi’s music."

"You’re a man of preconceive ideas, Mister Sakurai."

"All I ask is to learn, Mister Ninomiya. Pick me another one."

Nino had a theory about music. You don't choose what thrills you, what makes you smile or cry and sometimes, it’s not a song you’re proud of. Cheesy, easy, sung by some dark garage band, you couldn’t resist. And those shameful songs defined you more than anything. He chose one of his shameful song "Wake me up before you go" by Wham, waiting for Sho’s reaction, daring him to mock his sappy pop brainless lyricless song his mother used to play all day long when he was living with her.

"And no one never suspected you were gay, really? George Michael, frankly…"

Nino laughed out loud, picking another one.

"Do you mind if I lay down, I’m dead tired," Sho said with a yawn. It was very late, true, and Sho worked all day at the restaurant, he was probably up since six this morning.

"Course, it’s your couch."

Sho laid down, his legs on each side of Nino’s body. He put some fluffy cushions under his head and once again reached out to give one earphone to Nino.

"You can’t listen from there."

Nino sprawled across Sho, resting his head on his chest because it was the only way to be comfortable and chose an album he loved particularly.

"It’s Fleetwood Mac. The two singers were married to each other and they decided to get divorced after years. They wrote the songs of this album far away from each other and the songs are like a testament. A review of their love story."

"It’s sad."

"It’s beautiful and true."

After Dreams, Sho kissed Nino’s temple, tightening his embrace around his slim body. "You’re right. True and beautiful."

Both of them slid in a peaceful sleep after a few songs and Nino ate breakfast with Sho before going back home.


+ + +






"Shit, I thought I told you I had to cancel."

Sho came to his office to pick him up for a movie session and he was waiting for him in the corridor of the condo, his hands in the deep pocket of his green paramilitary jacket, a knitted black cap on his head, sexy as always. They didn’t change the conditions of their contract but they agreed on the fact that they could make out when the lights would be off. Sex in public places was definitely exciting and new. It was appealing enough for Nino to accept a date outside of Sho’s apartment. What kind of rake has he became over the last weeks?!

Anyway, his mother called him to ask for dinner and Nino forgot to cancel with Sho, which was regrettable since the latter had to take a night off at work for their rendezvous. Shit. He was weak with guilt and seeing the worried look of Sho didn’t help.

"You okay? Something happened?"

"Nah…not really. My mother called, she’s in town and she wanted to meet. Sorry."

Sho was disappointed, it was written all over his face but the occasion to meet his mother were rare and today was a particular day, Nino won’t miss the occasion.

"I know, I thought about our little outing all day long too but…," Nino tried to explain although he hated losing a precious night with his lover. Their moments together were treasured and exceptional too.

"Don’t worry I get it. Family is important."

"It’s not~" Nino watched his boots, embarrassed. How could he find the words to describe his mother, did he want to? Undoubtedly not.

"Where will you get dinner?"

"We didn’t plan anything, she calls me when she’s free. She’s not a very traditional mother."

"Why won’t you come to my restaurant?" Sho offered.

"But it’s your night off."

"Since you’re not free anymore, I guess my night off is postponed too."

You’re too cute, Nino wanted to say. In this moment, he was dying to run into Sho's arms and kiss him to show his gratitude. Or just because kissing him became his main and only addiction. But tender gestures were good for after sex not for this kind of totally innocent moments.

"No, we’re good…I’ll~"

"Please. I’d be glad to cook for you two. At least my night won’t be totally wasted. Plus, since it’s your fault, you owe me a favor."

"Okay. And perhaps could we meet later? I think the old cinema at the corner of Roppongi street has a midnight show."

Sho leaned forward, snaking his arms around Nino’s waist before gently kissing him. "So it’s another date?" his voice was soft and dreamy and spoke of good, hard times in bed.

"Don’t you imagine anything, we’ll just make out during the screening, we’re not watching the movie and certainly not talking about it," Nino argued, feeling Sho’s smile against the thin skin of his neck.

"Yeah, talking would be gross."

"Exactly. Sho…," Nino cooed, his knees trembling, his eyes already closed. But Sho released him suddenly and turned his heel with a small wave.

One hour later, Nino sent the address of Le Bistrot to his mother and at 08:00 pm they met on the curb. She didn’t change since the last time Nino saw her. Three or four years ago maybe, he lost the count. She was small and thin, just like him but it was all for the resemblances. When Nino had a chip on his shoulder most of the time, she was permanently smiling. She was comfortable everywhere, every time, with everyone. Nino’s exact opposite.

She was wearing a flashy skimpy dress and very high heels, her long hair touching the small of her back. She was beautiful but…Nino had to admit she was not elegant or classy. Sho’s mother was probably very different. What would Sho think about her? After a kiss on her cheek, he took off his jacket to cover her shoulders.

"My son became a real gentleman!" she said enthusiastically while entering the fancy restaurant. "This place is great. The owner is a friend of yours, you told me?"

"Yes. Come."

Sho had reserved a table, Nino’s favorite, in a corner of the room and Matsumoto took their orders.

"The chef asked me to tell him when you’re here," he said and Nino’s mother beamed with pride, especially when the gorgeous chef came to greet her.

"He’s your boyfriend?" she asked when Sho had left the table again. "He’s a great catch son!"

"He’s not my boyfriend and certainly not a catch, Mum." He kept silent about the fact that he wished he was, not a catch but his boyfriend. Honestly, Sho introduced himself as if they were in relationship but Nino knew better.

"He’s crazy about you! The way he looks at you! I’m not a good mother but I’m a good judge of love matters."

"Mum." Nino’s heart constricted. She hadn’t been a good mother, true, but she probably did her best with the life she led. "You’re not a bad mother. You’re here." He put his hand on his mother’s, gently stroking it. She smiled but didn’t say another word, finishing her meal instead. It was unusual since she was so talkative by nature. "Mum?"

She put her hand before her mouth, her pretty face misshaped by a sudden sadness. Something must be wrong.
She was such a great actress, Nino almost forgot it during those long years of silence. Memory was a strange thing, embellishing every little naughty stuff his mother did to him. She was poor, she was lonely, and she needed to be loved…she had every excuses to leave her son behind, letting him think he wasn’t enough to make her feel loved. He hoped that perhaps today, amongst all days, she remembered him and came to him to make amends. But no.

So what was the purpose of this surprising visit?

"I’ve made a lot of wrong choices, honey and now I owe money to some people. Some bad people."

"What are you asking me exactly?"

"You’re a president now, right? You’re loaded, right? You won’t even realize, it’s probably one week of grocery for a guy like you!"

She laughed this awful chuckle that Nino hated so much. She was…insufficient. That’s what his grandfather told him once as she just left him for the umpteenth time. She wasn’t fit to be a mother and now Nino realized he always blamed himself, because it’s the kid who makes the mother, right?

"How much do you need?"

She beamed. Literally. And Nino felt the usual chasm widening inside his satirical heart. How many times had she disappointed and hurt him when he believed he was solid and cured? Again and again, apparently.

He signed her a big check and she kissed him to thank him. Twice. Then she ran away in a flashy whirl, leaving him alone once again.

She didn’t love him, she never had and he always knew it but like an idiot he hoped that all this…mess…was a misunderstanding due to his lack of objectivity about her. But in fact, he was still the same naive moron, helpless.

He watched the first tear soiled the pretty checkered tablecloth and put his fingers against his eyes to stop the flood but nothing worked. He was petrified but someone made him raise and put an arm on his shoulder, dragging him to another part of the restaurant.

Then he was pulled against a firm chest and held tightly. "You can cry, Baby. Let it go."

Nino gripped Sho’s waist, indulging himself crying on his shoulder for so long he barely realized when Sho put his seat belt on and drove him to his own apartment.
He never invited Sho over before but he wanted only one thing, come back home and cry his heart out with a good bottle of whisky.

Sho followed him inside and while Nino was taking place on his couch, Sho went to the big wooden kitchen island to boil water. Nino observed him coming and going efficiently as if he was living a dream. Sho in his apartment, taking care of him seemed so unreal but this day was surreal anyway, so why not?

He came back to him with a steaming mug. "It’s a grog, drink it."

It smelt divine and he drank without a word.

"It’s a loft but I can show you around without moving from this couch," he said when his throat allowed words to be spoken. "The kitchen, the living room, the bed and behind the red door, the bathroom."

"It’s a beautiful place," Sho caressed his knee. "Come." He reached out and Nino took his hand following him to the bed.

"Sho I’m not in the mood for~"

Sho laid down with Nino, turning him to spoon him. "Hush, we’re only cuddling, you need it."

No he didn’t need it. He pushed Sho and sat down on the bed, turning his back on him and all his manly insufferable kindness.

"My mother isn’t a good mother, never has been. She’s a woman before a mother, flying from one lover to another while I was raised by her father since I was born. She showed up once, twice a year to extort money, then she was away again. My grandpa was an amazing paternal figure and he provided me all the love a kid would need, I’ve never doubted the love we shared. But she…well it’s another story. I don’t even know who my father is and no need to be a shrink to guess that I’m fucked up because of her. But that’s who I am, I can’t help it."

Sho didn’t utter a word, probably listening attentively to the unexpected confession.

"I swore to myself she won’t fool me again but today is the anniversary of Grandpa’s death and like a moron I believed she remembered and perhaps she wanted to be with me to…I don’t know…share our nostalgia. But then…she asked me money. A lot of money because you know I’m ‘loaded’." Nino chuckled bitterly and Sho reached out. "Don’t! Don’t touch me. My life is a wallow party and love is only a tool that cheaters use to make gullible people like me suffer."

Sho sat by his side, not touching him, his fingers playing nervously on the bed. "It’s her loss if she can’t see how wonderful you are," he said, his voice sulky.

"You’re just like her."

"Nino, I~"

"You come and go, using my weakness toward you to have your wicked way. You make me believe we’re great together and when you’ll be done with me, when I’ll be an old story, you’ll find someone new.
Because that’s what you do, you find someone new each month. What kind of fucking twisted mind you have to use people like lottery number! You win and we lose. She wins and I lose. Each time. So go away and don’t ever call me, I’m done with you."

Nino raised up and Sho followed him to the kitchen, gripping his arm to force him to look at him. But there was nothing else in his eyes but tiredness and determination.

"Go now."

"We should talk about this. About us."

"We shouldn’t. You promise you won’t hurt me, remember? So respect my wish and go."

Sho stood there for a minute or two, his body restless while Nino was cleaning the mug in the kitchen sink without acknowledging him. When Nino heard the door closing behind Sho he put the mug back in place then went to bed.



+ + +



Sho messaged him relentlessly after that night but Nino deleted everything. He wasn’t confident enough and too weak when it was about Sho to even take a look at them.
For ten days after he didn’t go to the office, working from his condo. All in all, he didn’t feel that bad. He knew what rejection and sadness felt like, it was his field of expertise and one thing he knew was that it would pass. It always passed.

Aiba showed up at his door once a day to be sure he ate properly using the company as excuse but Nino knew better. He was worried for his sanity and Nino could only reassure him, asking him for a few days to get back on track. He would get over Sho, eventually.

Then, one day, he shaved his stubble-rough chin, showered properly and jumped into a cab to go to work. Aiba welcomed him with a delicious macchiato from Starbucks and a promise not to talk about Sho anymore, to act as if nothing happened. The enchanted parenthesis was closed again and this time for good. Nino believed he could change the course of his fate by being adventurous and grabbing a chance at this improbable crush but he failed.

Instead, he focused on work, spending all his free time working in order not to think about Sho. The first months were very hard, especially the 14th of each month but with time passing by, he almost did not notice the date on the big calendar hanging on the wall of the lobby of the company.

They obtained the contract with the enterprise Aiba wanted so much – a national contract about bank security- and they hired new employees, people who were ignorant of Nino’s inability to find a lover. He made sure they won’t discover it.

Matsumoto and Aiba eventually moved in together after 9 months of relationship and Nino almost managed not to freak out each time he had to meet Aiba's boyfriend. Truth to be told, he made his best to avoid the man, and he had to admit Aiba had been very comprehensive about the entire affair. Each time Nino had to face Matsumoto, he felt that the man had something to tell him and he had the feeling that he had only words of reproach to offer. Of course, Nino felt guilty, he hadn’t played the game until the end, and he had given up before Sho in order not to suffer the rejection.

It was for the best after all. It made him suffer from day one but he learned his lesson well, he won’t let it happen again. He felt different somehow. He wasn’t looking for love since he admitted -for himself at last- that he had already found it. Yet, no happy ending for him, Cupid fucked up and shoot him with a one way arrow. Everybody wasn’t meant to be half-part of a happy couple and bad luck, he was one of the unhappy few.

At least work was flourishing and Aiba was happy for the two of them. Nino skipped the party Matsumoto and Aiba threw for their moving since he didn’t want for them to choose between Jun’s boss and him, pretending he was ill and apologized profusely the day after, offering them a painting to make amend.

Things weren’t perfect but almost one year later, without hearing from Sho or his mother, he found some peace of mind.

"Are you sure you have the contract?" Nino took a wary look at the thick folder Aiba slid in his suitcase at the airport, only to confirm what he already knew. Yeah, he had the damned stuff.

"You know if you’re so worried you should have come for yourself to this freaking appointment," Nino snapped in his cellphone, hating the skin-crawling feeling that was eating him since the plane took off from Narita.

"I’m ill, dumbass," Aiba said with a nasal twang. "You’re in Hawaii, it isn’t precisely hell on earth."

"I’m not good for this kind of social events, it’s your role, usually."

"I know, but everything will be fine. The contract is ready, they just have to sign it, then you come back home."

"I have a bad feeling, maybe I caught your flu?"

"Stop it already and...oh thanks, Darling, I love you."

"You’re welcome, Darling," Nino chuckled, getting into a cab at the entrance of the airport.

"I’m not talking to you! Jun took a day off to take care of me."

"How sweet of him. Say hello from me." He gave the address of the hotel he was resting for the night and hung up.

It wasn’t the first time he came to Hawaii, he made a school trip there when he was a teenager and coincidentally, Aiba was part of the travel too. Although they weren’t friends at that time.

The client was the owner of a hotel group who wanted for them to take charge of their security software. Nothing fancy but it was part of Masaki’s plan to extend their business to more than video games. Nino wasn’t eager to be richer, it wasn’t his jam but hiring people passionate like him definitely was. And they had to find new contracts in order to so. As simple as that.

The hotel was splendid, very high, and modern with a view on the ocean. Nino wasn’t good with boats and floating devices but the sea was his favorite scenery, if he could live here, he probably would. A small house on the beach for his old days was part of his child’s dreams and the more he grew older, the more he gave it a serious thought. One thing was for sure, he won’t miss Tokyo’s craziness.

"Mister Ninomiya for Mister Ohno," he said at the reception desk and a zealous employee led him to his room. More of a suite than a room, to be precise. He took a look through the panoramic window, opened it and admired the view from the balcony. Life was certainly great here.

Ohno would be meeting him in the late afternoon, so he took his own sweet time to wander through the neighborhood and take a walk on the beach. He contemplated the surfers for a moment while eating ice cream, then he went shopping and bought matching ridiculous shirts for Aiba and Matsumoto.

He had forgotten his apprehension until the appointed time and it came almost too fast.

Ohno’s office was at the highest level of the building and occupied the most of it. The man wasn’t like what Nino expected at all. He was young and cute in his own way, a bit grumpy and ambitious. Just like Aiba told him, he wasn’t great with social events either thus he received him in his office alone. The man decided to open a new hotel, bigger than the three he already possessed and Nino would have the task to detect the flaws in their computer system, nothing he couldn’t handle.

The man signed and it was done, Nino had concluded his first solo business.

Ohno invited him for dinner but he declined the offer, he wanted nothing else than eating outside, with his toes in the sand and the sea as a view.

He found a little food truck, ordered a hamburger and a coke and found a bench. This place felt like heaven, he felt appeased like he hadn’t been since…since Sho. He didn’t feel like sleeping after the meal, the night was still young and he didn’t want to drink alone in his room. He did this since a couple of months ago, going to a bar after work and watch the strangers around him, imagining their lives, what led them there. He went to this little bar across the street from his condo for the bulk of his time but in Hawaii it made the most sense to go to the bar of the hotel. He didn’t plan to drink to oblivion, yet he didn’t trust his sense of direction after two or three glasses of alcohol.

It was ten when he passed the threshold of the place. It was cozy and welcoming. The entire wall was made of glass and from the deep club armchairs one could watch the sunset while sipping some fancy cocktail decorated with rainbow straw and fruits.

Nino sat down in one of those comfy leather armchairs and soon a waitress was taking his order. He was facing the counter where the lonely hearts were waiting for a match for the night or more, two women, three men encouraging each other to make a bold move. Difficult to know who would come with him back to his room. Maybe the small strawberry blonde girl. She seemed to be here by mistake.

She crossed Nino’s gaze and blushed, putting a strand of hair behind her ear to hide her embarrassment. She was cute, undoubtedly. He hadn’t sex since Sho. Things were confused somehow, he had been his first man and he wasn’t sure he was ready for another. Yet, women lost their appeal, sexually speaking, after sharing Sho’s bed. After all these months he still craved for him.

Maybe this was it a chance? Another country, a cute blond girl, why not?

He was about to raise up when the waitress offered him another cocktail.

"I didn’t order it," Nino said apologetically.

"The man there ordered it for you," she pointed a table at the opposite side of the room and Nino froze. He was here. Sho. In Hawaii. It was almost laughable since he managed to avoid him in Tokyo despite everything that linked them there.

Sho raised his beer and walked to him. Nino watched him take the armchair next to his, incredulously.

"Hi," he muttered. He didn’t change at all, maybe he was a bit thinner than Nino remembered but his heart squeeze-constricted the same painful way. Yet, he was melting out of happiness. "What…what are you doing here? It’s been a while."

"The owner of this hotel wants to hire a French chef for his new restaurant," Sho said. Nino forgot how deep his voice was, how husky and beautiful it was. "You?"

"The owner hired us to check his software," Nino chuckled. "Thanks for the drink."

"You’re very welcome, this place is crazy, right?"

"The hotel, you mean?"

Sho nodded in agreement.

"It’s splendid and very quiet."

"When do you fly back?"

"Tomorrow morning. You?"

"I think I’ll spend one or two days more here." Sho stretched and crossed his hands behind his head and Nino took a glance –what a bad idea- at the happy trail revealed by his upped T-shirt. "I feel good here. I hadn’t feel that good for ages."

"Did you go to the beach?"

"I hadn’t time yet."

"You should. I ate there and God, it feels so good."

"I didn’t think you were a man of the sea."

Nino laughed out loud. "I’m not! I get seasick but the view…I can’t get enough."

"Would you~," Sho moved his chin toward the panoramic window and the big French door leading to an empty terrace.

"Sure."

Nino moved outside and sat at the edge of the concrete’s terrace, taking off his shoes to play with the sand. When Sho joined him, he had a bottle of red wine in one hand and two glasses in the other.

"Do you plan to get me drunk, Mister Sakurai?" Nino smiled, remembering the first night they spent together. Sometimes he had wished he could go back there and change things by telling the truth right off the bat. But it wouldn’t have changed the end eventually.

"I plan to get you very drunk, Mister Ninomiya, indeed," Sho said, pouring two glasses of wine.

"Thanks," Nino murmured, closing his eyes to appreciate the delicate perfume of the wine.

"It’s the least I can do for a long not seen friend."
Nino took a skeptical glance at the man. "A friend? After the way I treated you I don’t know if I deserve a drink. I’ve been obnoxious."

"The circumstances were bad and the appearances…against me, I guess."

Did Aiba know that he would be here? Nino didn’t really care, it felt great to see Sho again. At least, he had an occasion to apologize properly, to draw a line for good on their non-story.

"Yet, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have ended things like that, we had a kind of…agreement and I broke it abruptly. I’m not very proud of it."

"Did you find someone since then? Masaki isn’t talkative when it’s about you."

"Strange for a man who can’t stop babbling non-stop about any possible subject."

"Indeed," Sho leaned back, his arms tensed behind him.

"No. I’m still single."

"Hawaii is a wonderful place to meet you again," Sho said out of the blue.

Nino could only nod with an appreciative "Hm."

"Strange, right?"

"Not really," Sho said enigmatically. "I am beginning to be resigned to fate when it comes to you."

"Resigned?"

"May I tell you a really strange story?"

"Sure."

Sho leaned back in his seat, took a sip of beer and ordered a glass of red wine for Nino.

"I told you I was studying literature at university, do you remember?"

"I remember everything, Sho," did he say too much?

Sho smiled.
"I like it but…it wasn’t my call and I knew it then~"

"Then you read Babette’s feast," Nino cooed, sipping the delicious alcohol and Sho’s smile widened.

"My life was nice at that time but I am lacking something, without pinpointing what but my life was just…nice. And one day I had to take the train to go to this French restaurant I heard about. I was reading a book and suddenly I couldn’t focus on it because there was this cute guy sitting across me. It was as if someone asked me to draw my perfect man –granted that is if I know how to draw- I’d have drawn him, from head to toes. But I was a damn idiot at that time and I didn’t even dared to talk him. I wasn’t the man I wanted to be so all I could do was keeping on taking the same train to see him and I ended following him one day –he worked in one of those big condos downtown- and I swore to myself that when I am the man I wanted to be I’d find him and I’d tell him my crazy love at first sight story. That’s when I left for France."

Nino hadn’t made a move since the first words of Sho, an awful hunch hovering around him that something terrible was happening.

"But when I came back to Japan, he had disappeared. I had been presumptuous to think he would still be there like…waiting for me, right? Then I opened my restaurant, that’s why I came back after all, hoping that one day this man would pass the threshold and maybe would fall for me?"

Sho laughed softly but it ends in a strangled sound that torn Nino’s heart apart.

"The business didn’t work at first, and for several month I struggled with Jun to keep the place open. Then one day he had this…silly idea. Every 14th of the month my suppliers brought me some particular fishes I needed to cook one of my favorite meals. Once a month I could serve a bouillabaisse to my clients and the strange rumor Jun made up began to spread, that I’d spend the night with one person among those who chose this meal. It was insane, you know, but I still waited for my dreamy man and the clients considered me like some kind of ice queen, I guess some of them saw an opportunity as insane as it seems, or were simply curious. People began coming to the restaurant, more and more as the rumor grew."

It couldn’t be possible. He couldn’t have been waiting for him for all those years and this rumor…but why did he accept this craziness?

"Then...I met you again. For the second time," Sho achieved in a breath.

"I just can’t…why did you play this game if you wanted to be with me?"

"Because I’m a coward and I was afraid to frighten you. You chose the meal thinking it would be a one-night stand, you weren’t looking for commitment, but I hoped that maybe you’d come to like me too."

"Sho, I…I loved you. When you took the train with me. I never thought you noticed me, I…then I quit my job, God. You looked for me and I wasn’t there!"

Sho chuckled. "Our timing sucked."

"I can’t believe you are saying that! It’s awful!"

"But we always meet, eventually, and tonight I entered this bar and you were there. Like I told you, I’m resigned."

"I’m mad at us," Nino burst out of anger. "We lost so much time, I’ve been so miserable without you and you were too, probably."

"Pride and prejudice, man, this is the story of my life."

"You’re craz~"

Sho shut him up with a kiss and not even for a second Nino thought about refusing, even if they were in a public place. A very empty public place and it was for the best since soon Nino was laid down on the floor while Sho was devouring his mouth.

"I’ve been an idiot to let you believe I played this awful game," Sho whispered between two kisses.

"And I’ve been an idiot for thinking you could be that awful player."

"Yet, you loved me."

Nino moved back and put his hand on Sho’s mouth to stop him as he was leaning forward again.

"And I still love you."

"Marry me," Sho said deadly serious.

"Are you for real?! We barely know each other!"

"And I won’t let you get away again, so what choice do we have?"

Nino pecked Sho’s lips tenderly and when the latter moaned out of pleasure, he knew he was done.

"I’ll stay with you in Hawaii for the duration of your stay," he whispered into his ear while sliding a hand under his T-shirt to caress the warm skin.

"Let’s go to my bedroom, I can’t wait to begin to convince you to marry me."

Sho reached out and Nino grabbed his hand.

THE END



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