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[Fic] [Arashi] Counterbalance

Title: Counterbalance
Author: Mika-chan
Pairing: Aiba + Jun
Rating: PG
Genre: Friendship, mild angst
Word Count: 1,600
Notes: Written back in 2006 when Sho first became a newscaster on News Zero. Not that this story has anything to do with that... ^^;

Something was off with Aiba.

Jun had only noticed a few days ago when he was trying to get a moment to himself during their lunch break from Shukudai filming. Alone in their dressing room, he had stretched out on the couch that stood on the opposite wall of the long vanity set where they applied their make-up. His eyes were closed. Only a few minutes passed before he heard the door open. Grimacing slightly at the thought of his silent reprieve being interrupted, he quickly smoothed out his features in the hopes that the intruder would see him asleep and leave.

No such luck it seemed as he heard soft footsteps pad across the floor and to what he assumed was one of the make-up stools (if the scrape of metal against the floor was any indication). He withheld a wince at the disruptive sound and prevented any other visible body movement that would advertise he was anything other than asleep. He was granted with complete silence for his efforts. Satisfied Jun settled himself more comfortably into the couch cushions with a slight shift of his body weight.

A quiet stillness diffused throughout the room, but for some reason Jun couldn't seem to drift off. He attempted all his usual tricks that often helped him fall asleep, but they weren't working. Becoming more than a little irritated, he carefully cracked open his eyes to see who had trespassed into his private sanctuary (he got there first, thus the room was his) and prevented him from his much needed sleep. He already had some idea who it would be without even looking.

It definitely wasn't Nino. Nino would have entered the room without any regard to whoever was in there and proceed to play whatever game he was currently obsessed with this week. His button pressing would have definitely filled the air. Ohno would have taken one glance into the room, saw that he was asleep, and leave. Because Leader was considerate like that. Aiba would have done the same, though with slightly different reasoning—that reason being that Aiba probably wanted to do something fun, whether chat or play a game, and Jun wasn't any fun when asleep, grouchy even if woken. So, there was no need for Aiba to stay, and no matter what anyone said Aiba had a good sense of self-preservation.

Now Sho, on the other hand, would have no qualms of entering the room, but would be considerate enough to be as quiet as possible during his stay. So, it had to be Sho.

Expecting the recently deemed newscaster, Jun was more than a little surprised to see layered brown-tinted hair and a green-clothed broad back. Aiba sat with his palms on either sides of a book, his head bent enough that his bangs hung almost perpendicularly to the pages. By way of the vanity mirror's reflection Jun could just make out the other's eyes through the strands, moving steadily up and down across the text.

Alba’s face was void of any expression, denying any clues as to if the book he was reading was interesting or not. Yet, engaging book or not, typically there would have been some kind of indication of his thoughts because Aiba was nothing if not expressive. Whether through body language, facial expressions, or vocal exclamations, there wasn't a time when you couldn't work out what Aiba was feeling. Even when hiding something, his mannerisms almost always gave him away. It was just the type of person he was, but this...Jun didn't know what to think.

Aiba suddenly lifted his eyes and Jun immediately closed his own, less he get caught staring when he was supposedly asleep. He feigned sleep for a minute or two before he chanced another peek; his curiosity peaked too high for him to even attempt rest now.

No longer bent over his book, Aiba stared off to the side, though his eyes were still angled to the tabletop. If asked to describe Aiba's current state in one word, he would have to say that Aiba just looked...tired and not in the exhausted, lack of sleep kind of way, but the defeated sort of way that made Jun's breath catch in his throat and an iron band to tighten around his chest. It was wrong. Just wrong. Jun couldn't explain it any other way, but knew he wanted to fix it because Aiba wasn't supposed to feel that way. Not ever.

Aiba's name was on the tip of Jun's tongue when Nino barged into the room informing them in a loud voice that their break was over and they were needed on the set. In a blink of an eye, literally, Jun watched through the mirror as Aiba transformed from his prior melancholy state to his usual bouncy and exuberant self.

It made him feel strangely ill.

That was four days ago and Jun hadn't been able to do anything since as Aiba had to leave immediately after filming that day to go to another shoot and Jun's schedule was full of non-Arashi items until today.

He was watching Aiba carefully all throughout the day and although very subtle, the signs of strain were still there: Aiba lagging behind when they were led to another location; the brief hesitation before volunteering eagerly to perform some physical act he knew no other member would think to volunteer for since he was there. Jun wondered if anyone else had noticed.

He knew they each had their roles to play. It was what their fans expected. To see anything else would be too high a risk to their popularity. Shallow yes, but nonetheless true. Though it wasn't to say they weren't showing their true selves. Good actors or not, you couldn't pretend to be someone day after day without breaking the mold at some point. Still, there were boxes people placed you in: The intelligent one, the spaced out one, the cool one, the trickster, the clown...And it was as if you couldn't behave in any way other than what people expected of you—demanded of you. And bit by bit, you felt as if you were losing your identity—the parts that made you, you.

Jun would be hard-pressed if he let that happened to himself and he damn well wasn't letting that happen to Aiba.

"Okay! The next activity is a little messy. Any volunteers? Or will you all need to janken for—"

"I'll do it."

Jun didn't think he'd receive such a large reaction if he had announced he was shaving his hair and moving to Tibet.

"EHHHH?!” Was the collective response as the other members, hosts, and guest stared at him with varying degrees of shock and bewilderment.

"What?" he questioned. "It sounds...fun.” He physically had to force the word out, but pressed on before he lost his nerve. "Let's do it."

"Oi, are you feeling okay?” Nino gave him a weird look and it seemed all Sho could manage to repeat was 'eh...' Ohno just blinked blankly. Aiba merely stared.

He waved off the concern. "I'm fine."

"Matsumoto-kun, are you sure?" the hostess asked, "Because—"

"Of course. I volunteered, didn't I? Is there some reason I can't do it?” He looked squarely at the female host, challenging her, and saw her cheeks flush.

"No, no, of course not! Ne, this will be interesting, won't it, Eito-san?"

The guest gave his affirmative and the hosts continued with their explanation of the game. It didn't sound too bad.

* * * * *

It was worse. Much, much, much, much worse.

Jun sloshed to the studio's shower; his body covered mostly in pink slime and glowered. He didn't know how Aiba dealt with it, how the guy managed to even smile throughout these deliberate acts of humiliation. He didn't know who, but someone was going to pay. And pay dearly.

A half an hour later, he stepped out of the shower and was in a somewhat less volatile mood. He pulled on some sweats and towel dried his hair as he walked into their resting room. It was vacant; although that wasn't too surprising as the other members mentioned that they had other engagements to attend to after filming. Sighing, Jun trudged across the floor to pick up his bag so that he could leave.

He didn't expect the giant bear hug he received from behind, was in fact nearly bowled over, but managed to keep his balance. "What the—" The arms around him squeezed tighter and he sighed at the familiarity. "Aiba..."

Aiba didn't say anything, only held him closer than Jun thought physically possible. "Aiba..."

Still nothing, and Jun wondered briefly if he was calling out the wrong name, but knew that was not the case. He'd know an Aiba hug from a mile away, although they generally were less desperate. He patted lightly on the hands resting across his stomach. "Ne, I need to dry my hair and then grab some dinner." The arms around him loosened enough so he could turn around. He lifted his right hand, and in a rare gesture of affection, placed it on top of Aiba's head. "You want to come? My treat."

Aiba lifted his head then, revealing a smile so wide and eyes shining so bright that there was no mistaking that this was one hundred percent Aiba Masaki. Jun chuckled wryly in response. "I'll take that as a yes."

Aiba laughed, the sound so carefree and light, and when he threw his arms around Jun's neck, he did knock them both to the floor.

"Oi! You're heavy!" Jun exclaimed from underneath the taller youth, whose body was wracked with laughter. When Aiba finally managed to catch his breath, he said in a soft voice, head buried in Jun's neck, "Thank you, Jun-kun."

Jun brought his arms up to wrap around the other, pressed his face into the other's hair, and smiled.




( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC)
AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW <333 I LOVED IT <3 Its so cute and sweet and i love reading AibaxJun love and friendship <3 The ending was adorable <3 Although it did make me wonder why Aiba-chan was acting that way?
Jul. 17th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC)
Jul. 18th, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it ^___^ Hmm...I don't think I have a specific reason for why Aiba was down; maybe just tired with the public's expectations of him?
Jul. 27th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC)
Oh i see, thanks for explaining :)
Jul. 17th, 2009 06:25 am (UTC)
love it~ love it~~ matsuba fics are always so gentle and so loving~ i love it~~
Jul. 18th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it :)
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC)
I am loving this pairing more and more :)
Thank you so much for sharing this!!
It was sweet, and subtle - LOVE
Jul. 18th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the kind review ^^ I'm glad you liked it!
Jul. 17th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
for jun to understand aiba and for aiba to understand the way matsujun understood him was just a very beautiful thing to think ^^

thanks for this ^^
Jul. 18th, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
I think that's what I like most about arashi in general: that they do understand each other.

Thanks for reading!
Jan. 3rd, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
It was really nice to read, well carried out.

Because Aiba and Jun are so different, I think they work as a pairing really well. It gives me the squeals when Jun protects him and when we see the serious side of Aiba.
Aug. 10th, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)
aaahhh so sweet and wonderful
thank you so much for sharing
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:45 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading/commenting :)
Dec. 2nd, 2011 06:48 am (UTC)
Maybe this is just me, but I think only Jun can control Aiba and that's why it's Jun's job too to make sure that Aiba is not forcing himself to do things that is humiliating, because sometimes Jun will volunteer to do those kind of things himself :D

And why the hell I started rambling? LOL
Anyway, good job~
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )