learashi: (Juntoshi)
[personal profile] learashi
Pairing: Juntoshi

Genre: Romance, angst

Rating: PG to NC-17

Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Arashi or its members – this is a work of fiction.

Summary: He was sure about the fact that he was deeply in love, but unsure of the response of the object of his affections.

Previously: CH 1, CH 2







Seemingly oblivious to the interested gazes of the customers dotted around the room, Satoshi and Sakurai began to argue with each other.

Nino leapt in at the last second, grabbing Satoshi’s arm to prevent him from punching the officer in front of a dozen witnesses. He pulled the pair of them behind the counter and shoved them into the kitchen, following immediately behind to try and keep the peace.

“I told you that he was fragile and you promised to not hurt him!” Satoshi grabbed the front of Sakurai’s shirt pulling his face close to his own.

“And I didn’t. He was telling me what happened and then suddenly he started crying and screaming,” Sakurai said as he gripped Satoshi’s collar in retaliation. “I have no idea what happened. I tried to calm him down and when I couldn't I fetched you immediately. I'm not some sort of monster.”

"I know this village lacks excitement but you two don't have to try and keep everyone entertained," Nino complained as he whacked the pair of them with a spatula, unsuccessfully trying to separate them before an actual physical fight broke out.

Fortunately for all Toma walked in a moment later and manhandled Sakurai to a safe distance away from the enraged artist.

"Stop it you two," Toma said angrily. "Do you think that the sound of you two fighting will make Jun-kun feel any better?"

"It's his fault for harassing Jun," Satoshi protested, wriggling free of Nino's grasp and straightening his shirt.

"I did no such thing," Sakurai huffed.

"Neither of you two idiots are responsible for Jun's meltdown, although you're both severely stressing me right now,” Toma complained as he gingerly released his friend. “Jun went through an extremely traumatic experience that he perhaps still hasn't fully explained and it was highly likely that he would have had this breakdown even if Sakurai hadn't questioned him."

"How is he?" Satoshi asked, itching to go upstairs and see for himself.

"He's asleep and he'll stay that way for the next couple of hours. I think that he has to come to terms with what happened to him and the way his life is now and I hope that we can help him," Toma replied.

"And the first thing we need to do is make sure that everyone knows that his presence here needs to be kept a secret. If the wrong people find out about him being here we could all be in danger," Sakurai said. "His father is a very rich and powerful figure in the underworld. He has tentacles everywhere and we have to make sure that they don't reach here."

Nino looked at the other three with wide eyes, astonished that he hadn't realized what was going on under his nose. "I don't know how you plan on keeping things a secret when the entire coffee shop just heard this conversation," he said with a roll of his eyes.

Sakurai chose to ignore Nino. "I will send my men out as soon as possible to pass the word around. This village has always been good at protecting its own."

Satoshi felt his face getting hot at the implication of Sakurai's words. The policeman had grown up here, moved to Tokyo to begin his career and recently returned with his wife, wanting his children to grow up in the countryside. The thought that he now considered Satoshi a local meant a great deal.

"What do I need to do now? For Jun?" Satoshi asked Toma after Sakurai headed out.

"Just be there for him. If he wants to talk, then listen to him, but don't try and force anything. He may just need to know that you are there and on his side," Toma replied. "If he becomes distressed again call me and I'll come over immediately, but I think he is over the worst."

"Would you like me to bake some more cookies and bring them up?" Nino asked with feigned innocence. He wanted to feel part of things, and he was also dying to see this mysterious visitor.

Satoshi looked suspiciously at his employee; Nino was not known for his altruism. "Thanks for the offer, but I think that maybe it's best to give Jun some space. I'm sure he'll come downstairs when he's feeling better."

Ignoring the curious stares directed at him by his customers, Satoshi quickly made his way back upstairs, not wanting Jun to be alone when he woke.

++++

Jun pried his eyes open; his head was throbbing and his throat so dry that it was hard to swallow. He vaguely remembered talking to the Inspector about his father and then it was all a bit of a blur. The bad memories had snuck up without warning, and he had felt panic overwhelming him. As he recalled hitting out at Satoshi he wanted to cry. The older man had been nothing but kind and generous to him and he, in return, had struck him repeatedly as he attempted to calm him down.

Satoshi was sitting in the armchair under the window, once again sketching in his pocket-sized notebook. His brows were knitted together in concentration and the tip of his tongue was poking out of the corner of his mouth as he focused on his work.

The familiar sight was somehow calming to Jun. Even though he had known Satoshi for such a short time he trusted him completely and had come to know him as a man to rely on. His feelings were a muddle of gratitude and something much deeper; something that he was afraid to examine too closely in case it led to rejection.

Jun attempted to speak, but all that came out was a croak.

“You’re awake.” Satoshi smiled broadly as he hastily packed away his sketching materials. He made no move to come closer to Jun, worried that he might spook him with any hasty movements.

Jun nodded; embarrassed by the scene he had created earlier. “Inspector Sakurai must think I'm crazy,” he mumbled.

“Of course not; he understands completely. Toma said that it was a delayed reaction to all of the stress you’ve been under for the past few months and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Now that everyone knows about my family I should leave. I don't want to put any of you in unnecessary danger,” Jun replied, his fingers picking nervously at a loose thread in the quilt.

“Believe me, there have been much worse secrets in this village in the past,“ Nino said as he bustled uninvited into the room carrying a glass of warm milk and honey and a plate of small cakes which he thrust into Satoshi’s hands. “I'm Nino by the way, but I guess that Oh-chan here has already mentioned his most valuable employee in glowing terms?”

Satoshi made a move to chastise Nino, but instead of being distressed Jun’s face was almost split in two by a beaming smile.

Jun gratefully reached for the milk, gulping it down to ease his parched throat as he laughed along with Nino as he described the local characters that he would run into when he eventually ventured downstairs.

It was only natural that the two young men who were close in age should get along with each other, but it didn't stop a sudden and unexpected stab of jealousy to pierce Satoshi’s heart.

“And you don't have to worry about a thing. Sakurai-san has the world's worst dress sense but he knows how to do his job. He’ll make sure that you're completely safe,” Nino said as he made sure that Jun ate at least one of his cakes. He himself was extremely thin but Jun looked completely emaciated next to him.

Nino was so kind and reassuring that Satoshi almost forgot his jealousy as he watched Jun’s tense expression momentarily revert back into the bright expression of a twenty year old for the first time since his arrival.

++++

Another week passed and winter set in with a vengeance before Jun was returned to anything near to full strength. As he slowly recovered he wanted to pay back the kind man who had saved him from almost certain death. One morning he appeared downstairs in the coffee shop with an eager smile.

“What can I do to help?”

Satoshi, surprised and pleased to see the young man looking so energetic set him to doing some simple jobs that wouldn’t tire him out too much.

The group of middle-aged women enjoying their morning coffee stopped their chatter as he brought them a plate of warm apple strudel that Nino had somehow managed to conjure up in the tiny kitchen. They instantly turned their attention to Jun, surrounding him with a cloud of motherly affection, exclaiming over his thin body and the shadow of sadness that lingered in his eyes.

Tears welled in his eyes as he remembered his own mother; he missed her and his sister deeply. When she first married his father she had loved him and been blissfully unaware of his true business. Over the years she had endured a lot, ignoring Jun when he suggested that she leave, taking his sister with her to a safe place. She had always said that nowhere was safe and he was finally coming to realize what she meant. It didn't stop him hoping that one day he might be able to meet with her and his thirteen year old sister again away from the control of his father.

As much as Jun wanted to be helpful, he only lasted for a couple of hours on that first day.

Satoshi found him ashen-faced and swaying as he attempted to wipe down one of the tables on the far side of the room. He immediately snatched the cloth from his hand and made him take a seat while he brought him over a hot chocolate.

“I’d prefer a coffee you know and I’m not really hungry. Plus I’m capable of getting it myself,” Jun said with more than a hint of the truculence he’d shown when he’d first arrived as Satoshi placed the cup down on the table in front of him along with a sandwich.

Satoshi knew that Jun was embarrassed to still be so weak and was trying to hide it with this show of defiance.

“I’m sure that you are perfectly capable, but I can’t be having you faint in front of the customers. It would put them off their lunch, and hot chocolate is better for you than coffee,” he responded with a chuckle, hoping to put the younger man at ease.

Jun glared back at him but said nothing further, finishing his snack before surrendering to Satoshi's wishes and going back upstairs to rest.

++++

Jun was helping Nino behind the counter when a mound of padded clothing waddled through the door. The man knocked the snow off his boots and headed to the counter, unwinding his scarf as he went. He left a wet trail of slush along the polished timber floor as he walked before he collapsed onto one of the stools with a deep sigh.

“Aiba, how many times have I told you to not drip on the floor?” Nino grumbled as he eyed the mess.

“Sorry, but you have no idea how hard it is to deliver the mail in winter,” Aiba replied as he wiped his red nose with the end of his scarf.

“Yeah, well, but at least it's too cold for the dogs to be out, so that's one less worry,” Nino replied with a distinct lack of sympathy.

Jun was watching this interaction with great interest. Nino was grumbling as usual but he was also wearing an affectionate smile.

“So, you're the hottie that Ohno-san has been keeping to himself for the last few weeks?” Aiba asked, looking at Jun with a twinkle in his eye. This comment earned himself a smack in the head from Nino.

“Manners Aiba-shi,” Nino hissed before adding, “Sorry Jun-kun, just because this idiot friend of mine knows everyone and everything that happens in this village he sometimes thinks that he is on personal terms with them as well.”

“I don't mind, really.” Jun was happy to be having a normal conversation and not being treated as someone in need of special treatment. “Have you two known each other long?”

“Since the first day of kindergarten,” Aiba said. “Nino was so small he needed someone to protect him.”

“And Aiba needed someone to fetch the teacher when he got his head stuck between the iron bars of the fence around the playground,” Nino responded with a smirk.

Their easy and longstanding friendship made tears well in Jun’s eyes. He hastily hid the fact by going to fetch a mop to clean the wet floor.

“Don’t run away Jun-kun, it was you who I came to see.” Aiba hopped down off his stool and rummaged in his huge shoulder bag that was sitting on the floor beside his feet.

“Me?”

“Yep.” Aiba said as he held out a bulging paper bag towards Jun.

Jun took it carefully, intrigued as to its contents. He placed it on the counter and pulled out a soft dark blue sweater followed by three almost-new looking shirts and two pairs of jeans.

“Word got round the village about you being here and the circumstances behind your arrival. People knew that you had nothing with you and wanted to make sure that you had some warm clothes to wear,” Aiba said with a kind smile. “There’s no underwear but perhaps you can share Ohno-san’s,” he added with a suggestive eyebrow wiggle which earnt him a slap on the head from Nino.

Jun cuddled the sweater to his chest, his eyes stinging with unshed tears, overwhelmed by such generosity from total strangers.

“The other clothes are second-hand but the sweater is new. My grandmother knitted it for you. She had to guess your size so I hope it fits.” Aiba said with a proud smile.

“T-thank you,” Jun muttered willing himself not to cry. “It’s perfect. Please thank her for me and everyone else too of course.”

It was a rare day that Nino treated anyone to freebies, but that day Aiba earned himself a large slice of chocolate cake to go with his coffee, which was, of course, never mentioned between him and his best friend ever again.

++++

That evening a blizzard was forecast and Satoshi closed up early so his staff could reach home safely before the worst weather struck. He pottered around inside the warm building, watering the indoor plants, checking the contents of the freezers and making sure that there was enough firewood safely under cover. When the snow became too deep the village could be cut off for several days.

Jun was standing in front of the glass walls watching the swirling patterns of snow that obscured his view of the nearby mountains.

Satoshi made some tea and went to fetch Jun to sit with him closer to the comforting warmth of the fire. To his dismay Jun shrugged off his hand when he touched his shoulder. “Jun? Is something wrong?”

Jun responded sinking to the floor in a crumpled heap as sobs shook his body.

Satoshi knelt beside him and snatched him into his arms, pulling him into a tight hug as Jun cried on his shoulder.

After a few minutes Jun straightened up, returning his gaze to the snow and began to speak, the words tumbling out as if he was unable to stop them.

“My father took me to the mountains once. It was my fourteenth birthday. He said that I was a man now and should spend more time with him and less with my mother. He said that she was making me soft...turning me into a sissy.”

It was hard for Satoshi to just sit passively by and watch Jun suffering, but he remembered Toma’s advice to simply sit and listen if Jun wanted to speak.

“I remember now that the two men who dumped me here were there with us too and some of his other men as well. He wanted me to drink whiskey with him. To keep him happy I tried some. It took my breath away and made me cough. He laughed and hit me hard on the back to stop me choking.”

Jun took a deep breath and shrugged, “He was right though, wasn't he? I am a sissy, an embarrassment, an abnormality.”

Satoshi pulled Jun around to face him, angry at the self-loathing that he heard in the younger man’s voice. “Don't you dare say such terrible things about yourself. If you're abnormal then I am too.”

Jun’s eyes widened as he realized what he had said. He could see the hurt in Satoshi’s eyes. “I..I didn't mean to insult you. You are the kindest and most generous man I have ever known. I'm so very, very sorry.”

Jun clutched at Satoshi’s hand, his heart racing out of control; he couldn't believe how stupid he’d just been. “Please forgive me.”

“Do I look like a sissy to you?” Satoshi asked, pulling away from Jun’s grasp. Jun’s imprudent words had hurt him more than he could have ever imagined. “Do I look abnormal?”

“Of course not!” Jun protested as he looked at Satoshi’s compact muscular body.

“Then you aren't either,” Satoshi said as he helped Jun to his feet. “Don't let your father’s poisonous tongue ruin your life.”

“Thank you for being so patient with me,” Jun said, bending forward and kissing Satoshi on the cheek.

They both instantly froze, faces flushing a deep shade of red.

Satoshi cleared his throat and Jun abruptly turned back to face the window, hoping that somehow the drifting snow on the other side of the glass would be able to cool down his burning skin.

“Did you want some tea?” Satoshi asked, gesturing awkwardly towards the tray next to the crackling fire.

“Um, yes thank you. I'll be right back,” Jun said as he bolted to the bathroom.

Jun locked himself in, splashing water on his face and trying to calm his breathing. He couldn't believe what had just happened. It wasn't the fact that he had chastely kissed Satoshi that was the problem; it was the jolt of electricity that had shot through his body when he did so that had him so rattled.

++++

Gradually, as Jun grew stronger he moved on to harder tasks, like sweeping the snow away from the front path and steps and eventually chopping the wood for the large fireplace that kept the coffee shop cosy in the coldest weather.

They lived companionably with each other and soon the villagers had accepted Jun as if he had lived there for his entire life, never questioning the need to keep his presence a secret, just happy to see Satoshi smiling across the floor at Jun as he worked.

Jun and Satoshi’s favourite time was before opening or after closing time when they had the chance to be alone. They didn’t speak to each other much, spending most of their time sitting companionably together sipping coffee or hot chocolate, looking at the ever changing mountain scenery beyond the window.

When they did talk they only spoke of trivial things, looking at each other with affection but each one afraid that the other was going to bring up the subject they were both avoiding with all their might. The subject of what the future might hold for them.
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