Pairing(s): Jun/Ohno, Jun/Sho
Word Count: ~4800
Summary: AU. Jun's new apartment feels just right to him, but Ohno thinks there might be room for one more.
Notes: This was written for r_1_ss_a for the arashi_on fandom fundraiser! The prompt was, in a nutshell, 'Jun'--any pairing, any genre, anything goes. Despite the fact that I may have run too far with this (I mean, nothing is new), I hope you enjoy, Rissa, and thank you for your donation! And of course big big thank yous to lysanderpuck and aeslis for looking through this and being woooonderful.
Jun inherits some money from a grandmother he didn't know was still alive and decides that he wants to buy a house. After a couple of hours and some drinks, he's convinced that he wants to move out of Japan and buy land in Australia, but he isn't magic. When he wakes up in the morning the money is still just enough to get an apartment, not even a real house, and he stumbles to the bathroom upset and hungover.
He wakes up hungover for the next three days and finds his apartment on the fourth. Some would say he made the decision on a whim, that it was all impulse and no logic, that he could have found a better deal in a better part of the city where it is less crowded and more green, more accessible, eco-friendly, brighter, cleaner, whatever.
But the building is beautiful. Jun is in love.
He hands over his grandmother's money to the realtor on one of the brightest days in April. By the beginning of May, just a couple of weeks later, he is all moved in with his books and chinaware and shoes and furniture. He takes a day to screw in new light bulbs, to clean the shower and the tub, to mop the kitchen floor. He takes another day to simply sit on his balcony and watch the world go by in compact cars and kids with yellow hats and red backpacks.
Two weeks later, he is still sitting on his balcony in the morning, having a coffee, watching the light in the sky turn orange before he gets on the subway. Four weeks later, he is getting the hang of his electric stove and remembering the names of his neighbors. Six weeks later, he is contemplating throwing a dinner party for his friends, though he quickly puts the idea aside as he remembers who his friends are and what they would do to his unsuspecting apartment.
Moving away has put him farther from his family, but this is fine with Jun, who prefers people when he can handle it and isolation at any other time. Here, he gets to be his own island. He can grow his own palm trees, tend to his own sand, move the clouds in his own sky. And the building is old in the way where there are roses carved into the staircase by an artist from the 70's and the tiles in the floors are mismatched and cracked. They tell stories, the tiles: girls and boys getting married, a little lamb losing his way in the forest, witches holding shiny apples in their palms as princesses look on.
Normally Jun would never pick a place like this, but there was something about it that made him want to stay for a long time--for years--forever.
Somewhere in a magazine he reads about christening new apartments with fresh flowers. He knows nothing about flowers and he's pretty sure his friends don't either, but he's willing to risk it.
He throws the dinner party.
"Irises," Ohno says, slightly slurring, his fingers wound around the neck of a sweating wine bottle. "Hydrangeas, maybe."
Aiba, on his fifth helping of the night, chews slowly. "Oh-chan! When did you get so knowledgeable about flowers? I thought you painted soup cans and stuff like that."
"The Warhol phase is over," Ohno says, smiling. "I'm back to fish."
"God," Nino mumbles, eyes rolling like he was born to do just that. "Spare me. Look, Jun-kun, just go out and buy a bouquet--there, instant flowers. The florist will even pick them for you."
Jun frowns. "Don't you think that defeats the point?"
Nino's eyebrow twitches. "There is no point to buying flowers."
"You've never bought flowers for a girl?"
Aiba laughs so hard Ohno has to pound him on the back.
"That's a good one, Jun-chan," Aiba says after he's done wheezing. "Nino, buying someone flowers."
"Living in the suburbs has made you funnier," Nino says.
"Oops," Ohno says. He's spilled his glass of wine on the new carpet. "Um--."
"My new carpet," Jun says, voice strained.
"What, did you install it or something?" Nino drops a napkin on the blossoming stain. "There. It's gone."
Jun mumbles something about carpet cleaner through his hands.
"Sorry, Jun-kun," Aiba says as he attempts to wrestle the wine bottle from Ohno, who is still holding onto it like it's a wad of money. "We're all a little drunk."
"Speak for yourself," Nino says, but he's slurring, too.
"I'll be outside," Jun announces loudly. "For fresh air."
Ohno looks up.
"I'll come," he says, sounding more sober than Jun thinks he is.
"And leave these two alone in my new apartment?"
"You should have expected this."
"I did, actually."
"Then what are you waiting for?"
Ohno holds onto Jun's arm as they take the stairs step by careful step. He's humming something low and soft, something about raindrops on roses. When Jun turns Ohno has his fingers on the wall, touching the carvings like the flowers are real, like he can smell them through the lines in his fingertips.
And maybe he can. By the time they're down the five flights of stairs and standing in the dark lobby, Ohno is walking his fingertips over the curve of Jun's neck, then up around the sharp jut of his chin and higher still, higher still. It's as if he can hear Jun's thoughts clearer this way, like listening to music in an empty room.
"Ohno," Jun says. He can't see Ohno swallow; can only feel it against his own neck. "About the irises."
"It's summer," Ohno says. "They only bloom in the spring."
Jun can taste wine in every corner of Ohno's mouth.
"But I just really want flowers," he whispers in the interim.
"Relax," Ohno says, fingers tensing. "I know a guy."
Jun pulls his blankets down at four AM. Ohno crawls in, now completely sober, now shirtless for sleep. Nino and Aiba are on the floor of the living room with throw pillows and a single blanket. The wine bottle has rolled to the kitchen floor, to be forgotten until tomorrow morning when someone will kick it on their way to make a pot of coffee.
This is why Jun thought twice about the dinner party. Not because of the stain on the carpet or the fact that he's now completely out of pasta, but that he didn't know who he was going to end up tip-toeing downstairs with to kiss in the lobby of his building. That it was going to happen was inevitable; that it ended up being Ohno was mostly (mostly) chance.
"Jun-kun? Guess what, Oh-chan showed me his hickey."
"Aiba!" Jun almost drops the phone.
"Okay, okay, sorry. –It's a really big hickey, Jun-kun. Can't you at least try and be a little more discreet?"
"Are you jealous it wasn't you?"
"Are you at work? Jun-kun, that's really naughty."
"I'm not." That's a lie: he is, but on break. "It's your fault that you let the two of us just go."
"Well," Aiba says, "we all know you're not entirely over him."
"That doesn't mean you just let me go without saying anything!"
"It doesn't?" Aiba laughs at Jun's silence. "Look, Jun-kun, maybe if you two get back together it'll be a good thing."
A hundred protests complete with reasons and examples immediately rush through Jun's head, but for some reason he can't actually bring himself to say any of them. It just doesn't seem right. "I don't think so," he finally says.
"Why don't you just try it?" It would be that easy to Aiba, Jun thinks. What he would give to one day just wake up and want to try everything because he simply could.
"No thanks," Jun says. "I'd rather sleep with Nino."
Aiba laughs. He thinks it's a joke, though Jun is only half-kidding. "Somehow, I don't think he would mind that."
"Fine. Then I'll sleep with Nino."
"Jun-kun! That's--," Aiba begins, and then just stops. Jun can almost see him grinning into his hand. "Nevermind."
"What does it matter to you anyway?" This time, Jun is serious.
"It doesn't matter to me personally," Aiba says. "It's just....well."
The good thing about Aiba, Jun decided long ago, is that you can always expect an answer out of him.
Even if you don't want to hear it.
"He told me that your new place is too big for just you," Aiba finishes. "He says he wants to live there with you."
Jun twirls a pencil between his fingers.
"You don't mean that, do you?"
"Could I make that up?"
Of course not, Jun thinks--Aiba couldn't make that up. More importantly, he wouldn't.
"What exactly did he say?" Jun tries to keep his voice level.
"That he wants to fill in the empty spaces," Aiba says slowly, remembering the moment.
"The ones in my apartment?"
"What other empty spaces are there?" Aiba giggles, slightly confused.
Jun twirls the pencil again. And again, and again.
"Hey," he says. "I'll call you later."
The building is beautiful because once, long ago, Ohno had drawn it. He had drawn the roses winding like wild vines on the staircase, each one with a distinct face, he had drawn the story-pictures on the tiles and he had drawn each of the five floors like he had suddenly become an architect trained in city dwellings. He had sketched the curtains on the walls, the sunlight filtering in through the lace; he had put the double doors of the building's entrance and every detail in the wallpaper of the lobby on paper.
"Why are the rooms empty?" was all Jun had wanted to know.
"No one lives there," Ohno had said. "When someone moves in they'll put all their things there."
"Maybe," Jun had said, only half-joking, "you should find a real job."
And Ohno had laughed. "I just needed a break from illustrating stuff for other people," he'd explained, and shut the sketchbook.
Ohno had brought up the building a few days later, this time in bed as he lay there catching his breath. Jun's eyes were already shut.
"About the empty space in that apartment," Ohno had whispered as he rolled into Jun's side of the bed. "In the one I drew."
Jun had sighed and opened his eyes. "What about it?"
"It's meant for two people."
"Well, good. I'll let the realtor know."
"Since it's too empty just for one."
"Go to sleep."
Two months later, newly single, Jun found the building and bought it within the first five minutes. Everything about it was the same as the sketches, and just as empty, and so it was perfect.
One morning before work Jun is on his balcony with his coffee when he sees someone at the building entrance that he's never seen before. At this time of the day the only people milling about the apartments is the newspaper man or one of Jun's neighbors coming back from a night shift, but this guy is new--and hauling a giant bouquet of flowers.
"Hello," Jun calls. He might be five floors up, but he's still close enough to ground level. "Are you looking for someone?"
It takes a second for Flower Man to figure out that Jun is talking from above him, and when he finally looks up he jumps backward a little. Jun's never seen anyone actually do that.
"Yeah, um," Flower Man says, "do you know if someone named Matsumoto Jun lives in this building?"
"I'm going to work in a few minutes," Jun says, trying his best to keep a straight face. "Or else I'd show you which room he's in. Do you need to deliver those to him?"
"In that case, I'll come back," Flower Man says. He tosses his head; the flowers from the bouquet are spilling out and brushing against his cheeks. "I was told I have to give these to him personally."
Flower Man grins nervously. "I have instructions."
Jun tells him to come back in the evening.
"Should I tell him to prepare a vase?" he asks as Flower Man turns to walk away.
"Maybe two," is the answer, "or three."
Flower Man waves before he goes, and before he's completely out of sight Jun notices the lilac heads of hydrangeas resting on his shoulder, peeking out from between the folds of the bouquet.
"His name is Sho," Ohno says, and smiles into his cup. "I had to illustrate the brochure for his flower shop."
"I hope that's not innuendo," Jun says stiffly. "But why send him to my house?"
"You wanted flowers, and I think your apartment would do well with them," is the only explanation Ohno gives before taking a long, almost exaggerated sip of tea. When he puts the cup down, though, it's empty. "Are you done with yours? I want another."
Shrugging, Jun looks down at his mug. It's still nearly overflowing with rosehip tea, the ripe color staring up at him almost defiantly. "Go ahead," he says.
This is the twentieth lunch they've had since their breakup. It's not that Jun wants to keep track, but he only ever leaves work to eat lunch when he feels like being with Ohno and his workplace keeps a log of when he's eaten out. When he left today, the secretary told him it was the twentieth time in two months, and Jun nearly turned around to have lunch on his own.
But he told the secretary thank you, and kept walking, and met Ohno at one of the cafes that line the main street of the business district.
"I asked him to bring you something seasonal," Ohno goes on as the waitress brings over another cup of tea and two more heaping sandwiches.
"I don't need personal deliveries." Jun drops a sugar cube in his tea and watches it dissolve in a whirlpool of fluffy white. "I can get flowers myself."
"Just let him," Ohno says, already halfway through the first sandwich. "He's very good at what he does."
This time, Jun pays. It used to be that they took turns, but lately Jun has been reaching for his card before Ohno is even finished eating. He just feels like he should, that this is his responsibility, that if there's something, anything, he can take care of between the two of them it's the check.
It is close to ten when Sho arrives at Jun's building, still in his florist's smock and carrying a bucket of hydrangeas, not the bouquet from earlier. "Keeps them fresh," he'd said when he caught Jun staring at the dewy bunches. "Also, I had to use the bouquet arrangement for a customer earlier and I didn't have time to make a new one, so…"
"Should I expect buckets from now on?" Jun opens his door wide and motions for Sho to come in. "Ohno didn't specify."
Sho turns in the foyer. "Ohno, he--?"
"Told me? Yeah, he's not so great at keeping secrets."
"I should have known." Sho laughs, deep, like someone has plucked the string on a bass and left it going. "Can I bring these to the kitchen?"
"Wait," Jun says, and steps ahead into the kitchen to clear the counter (really, there is nothing on the counter but a scented candle and a couple of notebooks, but Jun feels like flowers should be given as much space as possible). "Okay, here. Do you need anything else?"
"A vase? Or three." Sho grins. "You got me this morning, by the way. I thought Matsumoto Jun was going to be someone else."
"What can I say," Jun says, rummaging around in his cupboards for vases or vase-like things, "I don't like throwing my name out there."
He manages to find two vases and a narrow bucket and watches Sho produce a pair of scissors from a secret pocket on his smock. Jun can't see anything past the bucket's rim, but he hears the quick snipping of stems and in the next minute there are hydrangeas arranged in perfect form.
Just like that, Jun has flowers. If he'd left the kitchen for even a second he would have missed the whole thing, but even now it feels like Sho put on some kind of magic show and the hydrangeas appeared out of nowhere in a splash of water and sparkly smoke.
"Impressive," Jun says, because he is tongue-tied, awed, for no reason.
Sho makes a sound that is somewhere between a splutter and a snort. "It's not," he says. "I just cut you some flowers."
"Still," Jun insists. "That's more than I could ever do."
If it weren't nighttime, and if Jun wasn't concerned about keeping his energy bill low and having all the lights in the house dimmed, he would say that Sho blushes a very nice pink.
"Put these somewhere cool," he says, and hands one of the nicer vases to Jun. "And don't overwater them."
"I mean don't put too much water in the vases," Sho says matter-of-factly as he collects his bucket. "Just leave them be and don't drown them, and they'll be just fine."
"Okay," Jun says warily. "But if plants are anything like animals, they won't like me."
Sho chokes back a laugh. "Really? That--Ohno didn't tell me that."
"Then everything else he told you about me must be a lie."
"He didn't say much," Sho says, and waits for Jun to open the door. "Just--."
Jun leans against the doorframe. "Just?"
"Hm." Sho looks to the ceiling as if looking for help, but there are only constellation-cracks and spots where water has leaked over the years. "Well--he told me that you're not very good at living alone."
"What do you think?"
"I don't know," Sho says. "It's not my place to say, is it?"
"I won't tell him."
Sho cocks an eyebrow. "I don't have an opinion."
"Make one." Jun pauses. "I'd really like to know."
He shuts the door.
Ohno calls close to midnight.
"I hear you're very good at making memorable first impressions," he says, his voice like caramel over the phone even through the static.
"I don't appreciate you doing--whatever it is you're doing." Jun can't find it in himself to be eloquent. He spent the hour after Sho left moving the hydrangeas from room to room, eventually settling them next to the balcony windows at the threshold of sunny and cool. "And I would like it if you wouldn't tell people that I'm not good at living alone. Especially people I've never met."
"Even if it's Sho-kun?"
"Well I don't know him, do I?"
"But I do."
Jun doesn't know where this is going, and it makes him want to hang up. "Ohno, that doesn't make any sense--."
"It does to me," Ohno says, voice taut. "I wouldn't tell him anything he doesn't need to know."
Jun's jaw is tight. He should get off the phone, he should go take a walk or a hot shower--he should do something to calm himself down, because he's not angry at anyone but himself right now and taking it out on Ohno is a bad idea. It was always easy to convince himself of this before, but not so much now.
"I have to go," Jun says. "Thank you for the flowers."
He hangs up.
The hydrangeas keep coming, and Sho with them. Surely other flowers grow in Japan during the summertime, but Jun doesn't know of them and Sho doesn't bring them. All Jun knows during the rainy season are the purple-white firework bunches of hydrangeas that show up at his home in buckets.
And Jun begins to know Sho, too, puzzle bits of information that piece together slowly--Sho is working his way through university, Sho reads far too many newspapers for his own sake, Sho works with flowers because he feels he's not good with his hands and he wants to change that. Everything about him becomes familiar: the slope of his face, the angle of his fingers on the scissors, his bass-vibrato laughter and his misplaced jabs and bad jokes. It's not long before Jun feels starts to look forward to the evening just so he can open his door to a florist's smock, a secret pair of scissors and a smile so fine-tuned to Jun's needs that it's uncanny.
When Jun gets home, tired and spent from the constant rain and humidity, all he wants to do is climb off the face of the earth. But the building is still beautiful, all wooden roses twining their way to Jun's front door and fairy tale-tiles lining the edges of the floor, and once inside Jun is dry and warm and surrounded on all sides by a family of flowers.
Then the door opens to Sho and his grin, and it's all Jun needs to feel like summer has blossomed in his veins, like the rainy season has passed and he is holding hydrangeas in the beds of his palms.
One day Jun asks Sho to teach him about flowers.
"Just names," he says. "I'm not really interested in growing them."
If Jun had been making dinner a minute before, he's completely forgotten about it now in favor of trying to balance on the edge of the kitchen counter where Sho has pinned him, pressing thumbs into hipbones sharp like unpolished glass.
"A-za-le-a," Sho whispers on Jun's lips, and every syllable is a shivering pulse.
The doorbell rings one night, long after Sho has left and hours before Jun will feel calm enough again to go to sleep. For a split second he panics--what if it's Ohno, what will he do, how will he explain things?--but it's not.
It's Nino, hugging a grease-stained paper bag of Chinese takeout to his chest. He waves with his free hand.
Jun blinks. "Why are you here?"
"Yes, hello to you, too," Nino says. "I just wanted to let you know that I've started dating the girl with the chipmunk teeth who lives on the third floor. You know, whatsherface--Riisa-chan?"
"Oh." Jun is too confused to say anything else. "Congratulations?"
"And also," Nino goes on, "I need someone to help me eat this order, because Riisa-chan doesn't like shrimp, and so I conveniently have two shrimp eggrolls and a bucket of seafood fried rice that needs to be eaten."
And this is how Jun ends up sitting on his kitchen counter at one in the morning next to Nino, sharing cold Chinese food and a half-drunk bottle of plum wine that they found in the back of the fridge. It feels good to do this again, to just sit around and talk with a friend--especially when that friend is Nino, who drinks too fast and doesn't eat enough. Soon, his eyes are red-rimmed and he's about to fall asleep on the stove.
"Oh wait," Nino says as Jun slips off the counter, "before you go."
"I'm not going anywhere," Jun says, trying not to laugh. He has a loose grip on Nino's wrist in case one of them falls over. "What is it?"
"You know how Aiba's in Malaysia, right? So he can't ask you this himself, but he wants to know--." Nino pauses to squeeze his eyes shut. "Hold on."
"Fine. Um. Spinning."
Jun grabs a glass from the cupboard and goes to fill it up water. As the sink runs from lukewarm to cold, Nino finishes his sentence--
"He wants to know who your new boyfriend is."
The glass in Jun's hand wavers when he hands it to Nino. "Nonexistent."
"What? No, really."
"He's a florist. He's not my boyfriend."
Nino nods, eyes closed. He drinks from his glass in swigs, like he's pretending it's still the sweet plum wine and not just tap water. "And Oh-chan?"
"What about him?" The panicked feeling surges in Jun again, the same one he felt when the doorbell rang hours earlier.
"Does he know?"
"And that's okay with you?" Nino squints.
"Nino," Jun says. Suddenly he regrets only being tipsy. "It doesn't matter."
Nino smiles. "But it does," he says.
"Because he wants to live here." Nino makes a vague motion behind him to the rest of the apartment. "With you. He always has, you know."
Jun crosses his arms tight, tight. "How do you know that?"
"Come on, Jun-kun," Nino says through a yawn. "You're not dumb."
At the end of June, when Japan is nothing but a vacuum of downpour and humidity, Sho has made his opinion.
"I think you're fine in this place by yourself," he says. "But--."
Jun is chopping onions at the kitchen counter, but he puts the knife down once Sho starts talking.
"But?" he says, and turns around.
Sho is sitting at the kitchen table. One of his hands is curled around a new batch of hydrangeas, the other around the body of a vase, and when he speaks he doesn't look up.
"But I don't think you want to be by yourself," he finishes.
"Your opinion," Jun says with fading confidence, "is wrong."
"It's an opinion." Sho laughs in his throat. "It can't be wrong."
"Well, I don't accept it." Jun goes back to the onions. "I like being alone."
"Okay," Sho says, like a mother would to an insolent child.
That night, the only name that Jun wants to say is Ohno's, in the same pitch and tempo that he used to, though in a different apartment in another area of the city. He has no idea why, but he can't help but pretend someone else is on him, behind him, beside him.
Ohno calls twice in one day. Jun ignores the first call, hates himself for it, and so picks up on the first ring the second time.
Jun exhales. "Hi, Ohno."
"Is Sho-chan still bringing you the flowers?" Ohno has never been one for small talk.
"Yeah, he is."
"Hydrangeas." Jun feels as if he's suddenly lost the ability to hold a real conversation. "They're--pretty."
"Can I come see them?"
This building is beautiful because once, long ago, Ohno drew it: the rose-vines, the princesses, the witches, the floors and the wide empty rooms and the perfect balcony. Perhaps even now Ohno still draws this place. Perhaps he has sketchbooks full of hydrangeas, not just the flower itself but intricate arrangements placed in vases by Sho; maybe there are pages where Ohno has filled the rooms with flowers. Jun imagines the inside of Ohno's head to be a greenhouse.
Sho comes over for the last time with extra hydrangeas, enough to fill three buckets. He appears at Jun's door pulling a red children's wagon behind him and a pair of heavy-duty scissors to replace the usual ones.
"My boss told me to get rid of them," he says, blushing, and in the light Jun can finally say that the pink on Sho's cheeks is a wonderful shade of embarrassed.
While Sho works he tells Jun that he will be going to graduate school for a year somewhere in England, though he is studying German ("It's for the culture," he insists, "and it'll be good for my English!"). He has known about it, he says, for quite some time; the acceptance letter came months ago even before summer vacation started.
Jun nods. "When do you leave?"
All of the puzzle pieces begin to move together, crudely and suddenly. Even so, he doesn't want to know that Ohno hired Sho to be a distraction, because the chance is there but it's not set in gold. Most of all he doesn't want to give in to the notion that Sho treated this entire thing, from flower-start to July-finish, as a simple job. Maybe he did, and Jun is fine with that, he understands--he just doesn't want to acknowledge it.
"In three weeks," Sho says. He has his hands buried in flowers. "Sorry I didn't tell you sooner."
"Sho-kun," Jun says. "It's fine."
"I'll bring you back something from England."
"Not flowers," Sho says, and laughs.
One day Jun comes home to a drawing shoved under his door. It is a simple ink-and-pencil layout of Jun's apartment exactly how Ohno drew it before, only this time there are extra pieces in each room: new lamps, piles of clothes thrown about, an extra dresser in the master bedroom.
And in the corner of the living room there are two potted hydrangeas: one for each tenant.
When all of those flowers die, reads the note at the bottom, scribbled in the handwriting of an artist, you'll need someone to fill in the empty spaces again.