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TRIVIAL WRITING
trivialwriting
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January 2011
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trivialaffair [userpic]
eleven, uneven (perfect)

Title: eleven, uneven (perfect)
Pairing/Groups: Arashi/NEWS; Arashi POV
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Office AU. 8000+ words.
Notes: Moments in their office. For tinyangl at jerainbowbridge. Originally posted here.

eleven, uneven (perfect)


-----


"Let’s have an office party!"

Jun breathes slowly through his nostrils, the telling stirs of a migraine beginning to pulse in erratic rhythms against his temples. He had slept only a few precious hours the night before, and only by accident. Chai isn’t as strong as he had hoped (which is tragic because Sho had just introduced him to the stuff and it was kind of delicious). Either way, the night had been dedicated to looking over reports and sponsor lists, poring over PowerPoint slides and bar graphs, doing everything humanly possible to make sure he would be prepared for his talk.

Needless to say, it had been a long night.

He feels drained, sapped of all energy and willpower. He knows it will be difficult to refuse Aiba, who is surprisingly persistent when he wants to be; his energy spills out of him like soda fizz, sticky and bubbly and fun. His eyes slip shut as he presses his fingers deep into his temple, and when he looks up again, Aiba has plopped his tray down on the cafeteria table and ripped into his hamburger, fatty oils glistening on his palms. Jun can feel his arteries clogging at the sight.

"You always think we should have a party," Jun says warily. Not that he minds parties. Jun loves parties, and everyone knows that Aiba knows how to throw one. But the last time Aiba was in charge, Jun had woken up hung over and half naked on a gravelly beach rolled halfway onto Sho’s stomach and Ohno’s calf. It had been an interesting experience, but he had secretly vowed never to let Aiba plan a party again (at least when the company was paying).

Aiba’s mouth opens to retort but the sight of greasy half-eaten meat makes Matsujun cringe. "Chew."

Aiba closes his mouth obediently. "You never want to have parties," he says as soon as he’s swallowed, pouting in a sickeningly sweet way that Matsujun hopes Aiba doesn’t think is effective (except that it is, but Aiba doesn’t need to know that).

"Why didn’t you ask Ohno?" Jun asks, but he already knows the answer.

"He said to ask you or Sho-chan, and I wanted to see you before you left for the conference anyway."

"You couldn’t wait to ask me until after I got back?" Jun sighs.

At that, Aiba looks a little sheepish. He knows how stressed Jun has been the past few days. His expression wavers apologetically and Jun closes his eyes, resigned. "Why do you want to have a party, Aiba?" he asks plaintively.

Aiba’s face lights up in an I’m-glad-you-asked sort of way. Jun’s mouth quirks; he has learned early on that humoring Aiba is usually the best way to go, but the potential for disaster and bodily harm tends to increase exponentially with his excitement. "Koyama and I were arguing over who had more love for our office and I said that of course I do, because you know I do. But Koyama said that he had more office love, and that is not okay. I definitely love our office more. So, to prove my love, I want to throw a party!"

Jun blinks. Of course. "I don’t know," he muses, willing his headache to clear as he picks at his lite raspberry vinaigrette salad, "Koyama does always make us coffee in the morning…" He spots the horrendous competitive gleam in Aiba’s eye and nearly chokes. "Aiba, so help me god, if you try to make us all coffee again, I will skewer you. I banned you from the kitchen, remember?"

"I only broke the coffee machine once," Aiba mumbles. Jun glares and Aiba chuckles. "I know, I know. Coffee is your life juice and I shouldn’t interfere with it,” he smiles bemusedly, "Fine, so let me have my party." His eyes soften and Jun knows that whatever Aiba says next is going to make him cave. "Come on Jun, I’ll cut back on the booze this time, promise. We haven’t had a party yet, with all eleven of us. And we’ve been working together for almost a year! I think it’s about time we did."

And Jun knows that he’s right. For appearance’s sake, he waits four minutes to agree, but Aiba doesn’t notice, distracted by Yamapi and Tegoshi who set down their trays next to them. Aiba immediately turns to the two with glee.

He regales them with his grandiose plans and a few stories from his previous parties. He talks about the time when Ohno had drunkenly rubbed against a telephone pole and everyone thought it was hot and couldn’t look at Ohno for days after. And that time Nino told Sho that his muscles were made of air and Sho believed he could float – do you remember that, Jun? Jun watches Aiba, his arms flailing and face more and more animated with each passing minute, watches Aiba’s excitement clear as day. And he looks at Yamapi and Tegoshi; Yamapi with his curious laughs, and Tegoshi’s brimming smile as he barely touches his food, Aiba’s stories more interesting by miles.

Jun watches them all, with hesitation and worry and just a little bit of excitement, and maybe, just maybe, he thinks that Aiba’s idea is a good one.

But when Aiba declares "THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST PARTY EVER!" while nearly flinging a chicken wing into Jun’s hair, Jun prides himself on holding in his whimper.


-----


Nino hates Jun’s timing sometimes.

"Have you been following up with the Uzu-corporation deal?"

Nino stills, right outside the elevator. Didn’t Jun have a conference to go to? Damn. He whistles loosely, inching toward the elevator doors, "Oh yes, of course. Lots of following. Lots of up. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to wine and dine a fine set of legs. Don’t wait up for—"

"You haven’t," Jun says flatly.

"Haven’t is relative," Nino says cheerfully, glancing at the clock. 5:56. "I’ve threatened them with financial ruin if they don’t decide to follow the contract. Isn’t that enough?"

Jun’s glare indicates disagreement. Nino rolls his eyes, "I have a meeting with Morioka and his group tomorrow." Jun’s shoulders barely lower. "Jun, relax. The office isn’t going to collapse in your absence. You’re only gone a couple of days, and we’ve got your back."

"That’s exactly what I don’t want," Jun says shortly, and he still doesn’t look very convinced, wringing his hands tightly. "You guys shouldn’t have to pick up my slack. You—"

"You’re going to be fine," Nino says. Now that Nino thinks about it, this is probably what Jun has wanted to hear since the very beginning. "Tegoshi will take care of all the logistics so you don’t have to and you are going to do great. You’re going to be the best goddamned speaker in the whole micromanagement series. Hell, the whole conference even."

Jun rolls his eyes but his lopsided smile gives him away. "Right, Nino. Right."

Nino claps his back and Jun exhales with a wince, "Oh, by the way, Okada assigned Nishikido to help you with your presentation."

Nino distinctly recalls his last project with Ryo, and he’s sure Jun does too. By the end of the month-long venture, their scathing banter had reached a hellish peak, and considering they all worked together in one big room, none of their coworkers escaped the onslaught. It was the most fun Nino’s had on a project in a long time.

"Damn," Nino grins, "I hate that kid."

"Who doesn’t?" Jun laughs. "Anyway, I think that’s all I had to say. Now get out of here." Nino wastes no time in pressing the down button and Jun steps back. Just as the elevator doors swing open, Jun clears his throat.

"Oh, and Nino?" Nino turns and Jun smirks, "That set of legs…tell Princess Peach I said hi."

"Fuck you," Nino says.

(That night, Nino gets all the way to the sixth-level Bowser castle in record time. Apparently, imagining Jun in Princess Peach’s outfit does wonders for his score. He’ll have to remember to Photoshop that and plaster it all over the office when Jun gets back.)

But as much as he loves kicking Bowser’s ass, he’ll have to admit that staying up to play does have its problems. For one, the next morning Nino can’t blink without wanting to keep his eyes closed. After hours upon hours of game play (just like every other night, really), Nino has been known to barely function. His coworkers also know never to cross him in such a state.

Ryo has never cared for such civilities.

When Nino hobbles exhaustedly to his desk, Ryo greets him with a “Yo!”, spinning around lazily in Nino’s chair. He smirks in typical Nishikido fashion, harmlessly annoying, harmlessly him.

"You look like shit," Ryo says cheerfully.

"I’ve always wanted a bitch," Nino says, with an even wider fake smile. "Just thinking of all the things I could make you do brings me so much joy."

Ryo snorts, "I’m not your bitch." Nino merely raises an eyebrow and Ryo folds his arms. "This is just one presentation we’re working on together. Once this is over, I’m never speaking to you again."

"Didn’t you say that last time?" Ryo pretends to look confused and Nino tugs at his chair. "Get me a cup of coffee. One creamer, no sugar. Thanks." Nino pulls Ryo’s sleeve to make him leave, ignoring the death glare burning through his suit with glee.

"I’m not your bitch," he grumbles again, but he does get up and glares again for effect. "Don’t think this is going to be a regular occurrence. Because it isn’t."

"That’s what you think," Nino retorts, "I talked to Yoko after our last collaboration and he says I’ve been going about this all wrong. Apparently back in the Kansai branch, you talk big but you’re really just a pussy. I intend to exploit that with everything I hav—"

"I AM NOT A PUSSY," Ryo growls.

Behind him, Koyama coughs, barely covering up his giggle, "You okay, Ryo-chan?"

Ryo groans. “I am not a pussy," he repeats weakly, voice seething, face red.

"I’m sure you aren’t," Koyama pats his shoulder awkwardly, turning to Nino with a smile and holding out a tray. "Coffee?"

Nino’s hands latch onto the tray, nearly spilling the precious liquid in the process.

Koyama looks alarmed, though it’s unclear whether his alarm is due to the Nino’s shaking hands or Ryo’s embarrassment. He shuffles his feet, clearly searching for something to say, but then Ryo straightens, mumbling something about getting his briefcase.

"Hey," Nino calls after him. Ryo glances back and Nino smiles, genuine, happy, and just as embarrassed. "Looking forward to working with you again."

Ryo, still flushed, cracks a small smile before going to his desk.

Koyama chuckles then, turning toward the tray to prepare Nino’s coffee, "Hey, did you hear about the party? Aiba says he’s planning one!"

"…Shit," Nino says.


-----


Sho slowly looks up from his overflowing stack of papers; rings of exhaustion line his eyes, and his throat tickles with the beginnings of a cold. "Do you need something?" His response isn’t short, not yet, but Sho knows that his patience is thin today.

Shige hands him his report cautiously, and Sho almost feels bad for being in such a bad mood, "You wanted the Saki report?"

"Looks great," Sho says, before he takes even a cursory glance at the document. "Okay, thanks."

Out of the corner of his eye, Sho sees Shige try not to roll his eyes too obviously as he moves to place the report down. Shige also looks tired, expression dimmed and shoulders tense. It makes sense, considering they’re both pulling overtime just to finish their individual work.

"You didn’t even read it," Shige points out politely.

Sho rifles through some pages for show before putting it down on a growing stack of texts. "It’s you," he says simply, stifling a yawn, "I trust you did a thorough job. Which is good because it makes my life a little easier. And didn’t Masuda edit this already?"

Shige flushes. "Yes, but I wanted to run it by you before I send it up to Sakamoto-san anyway. And, well, thank you," he says earnestly. He glances at Sho’s pile of work and makes a face, "Matsumoto’s leftovers?"

"Sort of. It’s mostly just logistical stuff," Sho sighs, kneading fingers in the back of his neck, "He just left yesterday but already the work is piling up. If Koyama weren’t here earlier, I would’ve had even more to get done. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken that lunch break."

Shige looks concerned but also understanding, "Koyama was doing research right? On the KOTA group?" Sho nods, and Shige hums as he bites his lip in thought, pauses, "Can I help you with anything?"

The temptation is immediately evident in Sho’s eyes. He knows Shige’s offer is genuine, but…but—. "But I heard you and Masuda talking about going to a bar after work. You’ve been working late nights recently, so you should go."

Before Shige can reply, Massu bounds up, stretching sore limbs and rubbing the small of his back. "Man, I can’t feel my butt. Shige, you ready to go?" A beat as he takes in Sho’s grim figure, "Sakurai-kun, are you okay?" Another beat, a glance at the pile on his desk, "Can I help?"

Sho is about to refuse the help a second time, but then he yawns widely, eyes dry and tired. He glances at the both of them, Shige and Massu and their unyielding concern, and he gives up.

"You guys are good kids," Sho says jokingly, but Massu and Shige get the point.

When they finally get through the last of the pile (10:37, the clock mockingly blinks), Sho treats them both to drinks.

"I can be a good sempai," Sho laughs, "really." And Shige and Massu just down their drinks in response. Their cheer is infectious, settling warmly in Sho’s gut. He guzzles another beer. They’re sitting close together, ties loose and suit jackets draped haphazardly over their chairs. (Sometimes, Sho wonders why he doesn’t do this more, but then he sees them next to him wide-eyed and smiling, and he thinks it doesn’t really matter that they don’t often, but that they’re doing it now.)

The rest of the night is fuzzy in Sho’s mind. He thinks they talked about onsens and soba, about the failing economy and how Massu’s always wanted to be a starfish because how cool would it be to regenerate your limbs? They talk about Nino and Ryo working together again, that despite how much they enjoy each others’ snark, they just really need to shut up already; Shige jokes that it’s unresolved sexual tension and Massu just think they need more hugs. Sho talks about wanting to look for an apartment of his own but not having time to. Massu remarks that Sho’s probably just afraid of change and Sho thinks that he’s probably right.

They talk and they talk and they talk, and the next thing they know, his watch reads 1:14 and Sho ushers them outside, paying for their cab fare. They wave each other goodbye in wide arcs, voices loud and bright, more so in the neon rush of the Tokyo streets that surround them.

And then he goes home, stumbles through his door and murmurs hello to his mother, a little tipsy and a little giggly and just a little happy.

He collapses on his bed, and falls asleep within minutes.


-----


Aiba remembers distinctly the first day they moved in.

They were new hires; young and impressionable ("stupid too," Nino had added). Aiba could recall when he was in their position, when they too had just started. He had been giddy and high, restless, shuffling next to Jun and leaning close to Sho, glancing at Nino amusedly and bopping Ohno when he looked asleep. He, much like his companions, thought he could take over the world, could rise to the top. His goals were simple: make loads of money, and maybe have a young pretty wife.

He was sure that the six men before them were just as nervous, just as unsure. The tall lanky one seemed permanently attached to the faux-hawked boy. There was a short one with a rusty laugh and a stocky boy with brilliant dimples. One looked too young and sort of awkward, and Aiba thought the last one just looked bug-eyed and lonely. They were so out of place, in suits that seemed just a little too big and with nerves that hung on the edges of their too-loose sleeves.

The elevator doors opened and closed as they came through, laden with cardboard boxes and heavy binders with notes full of corporate policy. And all eleven of them stood, in front of those elevators, tense. They stared each other down, sized each other up, sempai and kouhai, young and the younger.

Aiba completely understood them in that moment.

Nino spoke first.

"You’re pretty," he told the tall one, tilting his head appreciatively as the taller man flushed, "Can I have you?"

The younger man started in surprise, nearly dropping his cardboard box. "I- I’m sorry?"

"This could be fun," Nino said loudly, ignoring the man’s uncomfortable look. He turned to Ohno, fingers loose on Ohno’s forearm as he glanced at the man next to him, "You can have the old looking one."

Faux-hawk looked mildly offended (Aiba wished he could tell Faux-hawk that it’s just a defense mechanism, that that was just Nino’s way of letting out his frustration at change – three months later, he did, and Shige understood). Next to him, the dimpled guy laughed in an awkward high pitch.

Sho stopped Nino at that moment with a strangled smile, welcoming the new hires to their office space and immediately divvying them up. They shuffled in and settled down warily; concerned, alarmed, confused.

On both sides, the damage had been done and certain doom seemed almost imminent. Aiba’s generation had never had to share their workspace before, not as sempai, not with people they didn’t know beforehand, not like this. And the new guys were awkward, afraid to speak up, worried about everything. Tensions strained with conversation, and uncomfortable silences and halted chatter abounded.

That was only ten months ago.

Now, when Aiba looks back on that day only months earlier, it seems amazing how far they’ve come, how used to each other they are, how well they get along.

Now, Aiba looks around the office and see anything but awkwardness. Maybe there is still tension – deadlines are always a pain in the ass — but for the most part the office is bathed with a comfortableness that sits light in the air. Massu stands by the water cooler gulping down water as Ohno tells him about the joys of deep-sea fishing, and across from them Nino helps Shige read over the Saki report one last time before Shige sends it to the upper department. Sho, Koyama, Yamapi and Ryo sit at their desks, mulling over papers and typing away at their laptops, but they also chat idly every now and then to pass the time. Jun and Tegoshi are noticeably absent, but he’s sure they’re doing okay; the conference is halfway over and they haven’t killed each other yet. (At least, that’s what Jun had said the yesterday, the night before his talk. He had called Aiba, panicked, and Aiba had only told him to kick some ass. Every now and then he wonders if his advice actually had helped.)

Still, they are together, and they are fine.

Aiba revels in it.


-----


There are many reasons why Jun doesn’t like Tegoshi at first.

Tegoshi, Jun thinks, is too…too much, basically. He’s too scrawny under that poorly cut suit, too pretty to be a boy, too loud and too all over the place. His features are too smooth, his laugh too raucous, his smile too perky, his gestures too wide.

Minutes after meeting him, Jun feels a headache coming on.

"He reminds me of you," Sho tells him a week later, bravely ignoring Jun’s patented Matsumoto Death Glare. "You’re both the youngest of your groups. And both flashy as hell. I could go on."

"Shut up," Jun seethes.

He supposes he shouldn’t dislike Tegoshi after one bad first impression. After all, Sho says he’s smart, from Waseda. And the other new guys seem to like him well enough.

But the bad impression just doesn’t fade. All Jun can see is that Tegoshi is a talker. Jun knows this because Tegoshi doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the words "for the love of god, please shut up" (and yes, Jun has been that blunt). Tegoshi likes to chatter about things of little importance, and mostly about himself. He has a cute little dog named Tinny. Apparently, he likes soccer and plays it as much as he can in his free time (which is a sin in itself; baseball is clearly a superior sport).

And rumor has it he adores pranks. This is bad, because Nino is nearly famous for his love of seeing people put to shame. The combination of the two can only promise humiliation and devastation, and everyone in the office knows it. (When he sees Nino and Tegoshi hanging around the copy-machine a little too casually a few months in, Jun cries inwardly.)

These are just a few of the many facts Jun learns about Tegoshi over the months, but one thing becomes clear: this isn’t going to work out.

"Is there any way you think Okada will let me switch him with someone else?" Jun asks Ohno, desperation tinged in each word.

Ohno tilts his head, "Do you really hate Tegoshi that much?"

Jun clears his throat, "Well, I don’t hate him. He’s just…always talking."

"So is Aiba," Ohno says.

Jun falters, "True. Ohno, you’re supposed to be on my side."

At that, Ohno laughs, "Who says I’m not?" Jun folds his arms over his chest and Ohno sighs, "Look, I think Tegoshi just really wants you to like him. Whatever pre-existing notion you have of Tegoshi, it’s time to get rid of it."

Jun blinks. Pauses. "I think that’s the most leader-ish thing you’ve said to me…ever."

"Well, I have my moments," Ohno smiles.

And so, Jun tries. Toleration is a good first step, Jun thinks.

In a way, Tegoshi is like a parasite, eating into Jun’s already-thin temper so much that all Jun can do in the end is just welcome the intrusion. And when he does welcome it, Tegoshi doesn’t let Jun down. When Jun really looks, it’s clear Tegoshi is trying to be anything but annoying, and instead, is trying his hardest to please Jun. And the next times Tegoshi talks, Jun attempts to actually listen to him instead of tune him out, sometimes even engaging in the topic despite himself.

Jun also grudgingly notes that Tegoshi always manages to quiet down when Jun really needs to focus. And when they finish their tasks, Tegoshi always looks thrilled for the both of them, while also apprehensive, as if worried Jun wouldn’t be as pleased with his work. Nevertheless, Tegoshi is extremely dedicated, and works with more efficiency than even Jun possesses. Daily, he reduces Jun’s paperwork by half, and after reading samples of Tegoshi’s reports, he has to admit the kid may be a little brilliant.

He still talks, and Jun still gets frustrated, but somehow, Tegoshi becomes a little endearing. Maybe. Sometimes.

Tegoshi impresses him the most with their latest assignment. It’s Jun’s biggest one, and Tegoshi is with him each step of the way, from the moment he gets the assignment to the presentation itself. Tegoshi takes care of coffee (which is essential), organizing spreadsheets, touching up PowerPoint slides, listening to Jun rehearse and rehearse until his voice strains and Tegoshi makes him go to bed to be rested fully for the next day.

And maybe Jun can admit that he likes him, just a little.

"I didn’t get to say this earlier, but congratulations,” Tegoshi says, as they’re walking up the steps to their hotel the night after Jun’s presentation. "You were excellent."

And Jun finally lets go, exhales with a mixture of relief and joy. He had done well. He had succeeded. Tomorrow they would be back in the office and back to work and to stress and to everything that comes with it. But for now, Jun can relax. And they both know it’s in large part due to Tegoshi’s unfailing support.

He turns to Tegoshi with a tired, genuine smile. "Thank you." (He restrains himself from adding "for everything", because Jun isn’t that cliché; besides, he’s sure Tegoshi gets what he’s trying to say.)

And Jun finds that he means it.


-----


They call each other "old man". Shige calls Ohno that because Ohno actually is old (a running joke throughout the office because most times, Ohno seems like one of the youngest). And Ohno calls Shige that because once upon a time, during their first meeting, a nervous Nino lashed out and called Shige old, and though the insult faded, the name stuck.

Okada, the resident "old man" on the floor above them, assigns these "old men" to work together, thinks they’ll work well and get lots done. Ohno has no idea from where Okada’s logic stems, but he doesn’t bother to question it, even though everyone else does. ("For some reason, Okada thinks you’ll be perfect together," Sakamoto tells Ohno warily, pleading undertone to his voice. "Please, for heaven’s sake, prove him right.")

Surprisingly, they do just that. Ohno knows he isn’t exactly the best person to work with. He spaces out a lot, thinking of all the things he’d rather do than sit there and do his work. Every now and then, he falls asleep at his desk, head pillowed on his forearm across scattered papers (once, he almost stabs his eye with a stray pen and Tegoshi doesn’t stop giggling about it for days).

But Shige takes this all in stride. He wakes Ohno up with a soft shake of his shoulder, reminds Ohno of deadlines and what he does and doesn’t need to do. He reads over Ohno’s papers, and Ohno reads over his. He asks Ohno for advice and Ohno somehow manages to give it. They eat together, stealing away to the cafeteria (they learn early on that they both love to eat), and ultimately they perform with flying colors.

So Ohno likes this guy, this other "old man". Though that doesn’t mean he dislikes the other guys.

After his first project with Shige, he works with Massu and Tegoshi intensively for a couple of weeks. They have a presentation to give about AMZI corp and Ohno is supposed to act as mentor, which is more ironic than anything else, considering he speaks the least. Still, they do sufficiently well and he learns that these two are insecure, with big hearts and great talent. He talks to Ryo sometimes, when he pops over to Nino’s desk just to say hello. (Koyama is usually right beside them in an attempt to placate while Sho just sighs from his desk). And when Aiba tackles Ohno in a big bear hug, Yamapi is usually right behind him with an amused smile.

Sometimes, he wishes he could know these guys even better, but he supposes he still has lots of time to do so.

He pulls out of this reverie like every other, blinking his daydreams away. Shige stands in front of him, with a hand on his shoulder and a steaming mug in the other hand. "Tea?"

Ohno takes it with a smile and Shige slides into the seat next to him. "Ninomiya tells me I should ask you to treat me out to dinner." Ohno looks mildly alarmed and Shige laughs, as if expecting the reaction. "Don’t worry, you don’t have to. But since Ninomiya suggested it, I was curious as to why he would even bring it up."

"That’s because he’s a sadist," Ohno says darkly and Shige hums in amused agreement. A glazed look passes in Ohno’s eyes as he recalls numerous incidences all resulting in his empty wallet. "You can ask Aiba why I don’t like going out to eat with them."

Shige laughs again. "Got it."

Ohno breathes, glad that Shige understands. Because really, as sempai, Ohno probably should take him out to something.

Maybe he’ll take Shige fishing someday.


-----


Contrary to popular belief, Nino doesn’t totally hate Ryo. Ryo’s snarky attitude is a defense mechanism, Nino learns early on. In that way, he and Nino are similar.

But in more ways, they are nothing alike. For one, Ryo is ridiculously shy, painfully so. Nino learns this the first time they have to meet with a client. He’s just an average businessman: Teruka-san, lean and balding, completely unassuming and even more harmless. And yet, Ryo cannot seem to say a word the first couple times they meet and Nino ends up doing all the work, much to his displeasure. It’s annoying, and when Nino calls him on it, Ryo only snaps at him that it isn’t his fault he can’t control his shy nature. Nino hates that he understands, and eventually, he gets used to his coworker’s quirk. Ryo doesn’t leave him much choice after all.

And Ryo gets used to Nino.

From what Ryo has told him (albeit it took him months after they were first paired up), Ryo didn’t trust Nino for a long time. Something about a comment the first day that had put all of the new guys on edge. Honestly, Nino doesn’t even remember what he said, but he knows himself; it was probably rude and unnecessary at best.

Nino, likewise, takes a while to warm up to Ryo. He’s never been the trusting type, and he certainly was not going to start with an upstart who made annoying comments about his Ohno-touching habits and then the next moment flat out refused to speak in front of clients. Hypocrite, he used to think of Ryo for the longest time.

If anything, Nino warms up to Massu first. It’s hard not to, because in a way, Massu reminds him of Aiba. Bright and cheerful, with a smile that radiates genuineness, a compassion unrivaled. When Nino talks, Massu actually listens. He’s just an all around really good guy, and it’s disturbing, actually. In corporations, people need a little grit. Massu seems to have none of that. Nino thinks it’s cute. He’s certainly unique, that’s for sure.

Though sometimes, despite the fact that everyone sees Massu in the same positive light that Nino does, Nino thinks Massu feels a little left out. Massu’s technically the editor-in-chief on their floor. "Methodic and Meticulous Massu", that’s what Sho has taken to calling him. And they all agree. Massu was made for this position. It takes him forever and a half for him to finish editing, but once he’s done, everyone knows they don’t need to have it looked at again.

But he doesn’t get to do work that often. Editing comes in cycles, when deadlines fast approach, and when there are no deadlines, Massu just hangs around in the office, doing little things when he can.

"Sometimes, I feel like the odd one out," Massu admits, one morning when they’re grabbing coffee across the street from their building. He’s still smiling, but there’s a small sadness lurking around the corners of his mouth that Nino’s never noticed before. "Don’t get me wrong, I know my editing work is important. But – ten is a perfect even number and makes so much sense. Since there are eleven of us…I guess I feel like I’m the eleventh, the last. An afterthought."

Nino shakes his head, with a vigor that surprises the both of them. "Don’t think that. No one else does."

Massu had shrugged then, but his confession still bothers Nino sometimes. Nino thinks this is the subconscious reason he seeks Massu out so much to work together. It isn’t pity, though it takes a long time for Nino to convince Massu otherwise. Massu thinks it can’t be anything but pity, disappointment in Nino flashing across his features every time he asks for help. But Massu truly is a good worker. He just has a self-appreciation problem, which in Nino’s humble opinion, some people in this office could use (a few coworkers come to mind, but Nino knows that if he had to name them, he’d have to include himself as well).

So when Ryo rushes back to Osaka because of an issue with one of his clients, the first person Nino asks to help him work on the Uzu presentation specs, of course, is Massu.

"I’m surprised Aiba hasn’t asked you to help with the party," Nino jokes, when Massu says he has some free time, having already finished looking over Yamapi’s last report.

"He did," Massu chuckles, "but I declined. Even though I need to kill time, I’m not that desperate."

They laugh.


-----


If Sho is honest, he tends to assume, and one of the biggest assumptions Sho makes about the new hires is that the Waseda kid must be the smartest.

He knows education isn’t everything (his coworkers are perfect examples of that), but he still can’t help but salivate when he looks over the new workers’ transcripts and sees Waseda University under one of the schooling sections, such a shiny, prestigious name. Naturally, he decides that he wants to work on his newest presentation with the Waseda kid, almost formally requests to do so. He has high hopes for him, and thinks they could get a lot of good work done together.

But instead, his first assignment is with a gangly guy with a nervous smile and a high giggle. Koyama, he learns, is not the guy from Waseda. He graduated from Meiji. Meiji, which is not Waseda and certainly not ranked as high. Sho tries really hard not to let his disappointment show.

(He fails, of course, because his coworkers have always been able to read him like an open, large-print book.)

"We can’t all go to Keio and top-ranking schools like you," Nino says simply, and Sho knows that, but his presumptions still linger in the back of his head. He sighs audibly and Nino rolls his eyes. "Just give him a chance," Nino says, "He could prove you completely wrong."

Thankfully, Koyama does just that.

Koyama is actually sort of a godsend. He chatters a little too much for Sho’s liking, but it soon becomes less an annoyance and more like background noise, humming and constant. He offers to make Sho’s coffee and it’s perfect (his compliments soon leads to Koyama being asked to make coffee for the rest of the office; Sho sometimes feels bad about it, but Koyama doesn’t seem to mind). Koyama is organized and his writing efficient. Despite his endless chatter, his papers are succinct, which is a trait Sho can only appreciate. He knows when he needs to sit down and get his work done, and when Sho is feeling particularly moody, Koyama becomes a comforting presence of sorts, quiet and caring, Koyama.

Every now and then he makes mistakes, but that’s expected of any rookie. Besides, what he loses with his mistakes he makes up for with his personality. Sho has a theory that no matter the business venture Koyama attends, Koyama will make friends and get any deal signed and dealt with in mere minutes. It’s an amazing skill to have, very much like Aiba’s strengths (though perhaps Koyama isn’t as exuberant and giddy). Still, he quickly learns to appreciate and admire Koyama’s unique abilities.

And Koyama certainly isn’t stupid.

"Shige's actually the smartest out of all of us," Koyama says mildly, one day when they’re out getting lunch before their meeting with Suzuki’s group. Sho looks up from his ramen in surprise. "Just thought you’d like to know." He doesn’t look hurt, just sort of understanding, knowing.

Sho almost blurts out something about Aoyama too, but Koyama’s point has already hit home.

"I’m sorry," he says instead, and Koyama shrugs, as if used to it. Sho takes a deep breath. "No really, I am. You’re intelligent and can snap up deals like it’s a piece of cake. Not to mention you’re really great to work with. I shouldn’t have made any assumptions."

Koyama stills for a second, hesitant, before smiling, wide and true. "Thank you."

Sho feels the smile slam into his gut. One he hasn’t seen before and one he cannot wait to see again. Perhaps this is all vindication Koyama needs. Sho feels a little dumb for not saying anything earlier.

(When Sho gets his next assignment, he requests to work with Koyama personally. When Koyama finds out –from Tegoshi, ironically – his surprised laugh fills the room and Sho knows he’s never made a better decision.)

And they are okay.

"Aiba just told me that he’s still planning the party." Sho looks up as Koyama sits down next to him, handing him a steaming cup of tea. Chai. His favorite. "Does he usually take this long?"

Sho snorts, "He has the Miyata case, so he probably hasn’t had much time to think about it, thank god." He passes Koyama a contract. "Can you have a look at that for me?"

Together, they get back to work.


-----


Once he gets the okay to host the party, Aiba immediately enlists help. Mainly from Yamapi, not only because no one else seems to want to (though he can’t possibly understand why; planning parties is fun!) but because they’re working on the Miyata deal together anyway.

Aiba will admit that Yamapi confuses him the most, at first. He’s heard the rumors from the upper level. Yamapi’s one of the boss’s favorites ("An up-and-coming star," Sakamoto had said, "sort of the leader of the other new hires, a fast learner too." Aiba had beamed then and worry flashed across Sakamoto’s face. "Try not to break him with your happy," he warned; Aiba just giggled).

But when Aiba shows Yamapi to his desk, he sees none of that star quality that the boss had raved about. Instead, all he sees is a too-thin boy carefully raking his eyes over every inch of the office, arms folded across his chest defensively. He’s surprisingly guarded, perpetually tired. Still, he pretends to smile widely, says the obligatory "Thank you for guiding me," and Aiba realizes that this is going to be harder than he had thought.

He vows to crack Yamapi if it’s the last thing he does.

Though he probably scares Yamapi more than anything else. He’s been told that his energy is unrivalled, his cheer abundant to the point of overflowing. He’s always in high spirits, always looking at the bright side, always trying to smile. He knows that he’s an airhead sometimes ("All the time," Sho often laments), that he’s naturally flaky and just looking for a good time. But can he help it? Life is meant to be lived, after all.

Still, Aiba can see how he would take some getting used to.

"I’m not quite sure what to think of you," Yamapi admits one day. They’re on a picnic table with beers in their hands. Aiba doesn’t remember how they found themselves in the park outside their company building, but he thinks they were probably celebrating their first partnership and the success of the Takeda corporation deal. What he does remember is lying on the picnic table, suit rumpled and dusty. He remembers glancing at Yamapi and frowning, telling him to stop being so uptight and just let loose a little (and Yamapi finally breathes, as he gingerly lays down next to him).

"Well, I’m not sure what to think of you either," Aiba retorts.

Yamapi shakes his head, "That’s not what I meant." He fingers the sleeve of his suit jacket before continuing, "You’re…enthusiastic. A little too enthusiastic, sometimes. And you don’t like to follow rules. It seems like you’re always procrastinating and never do any work, but every time a deadline approaches, you’re always on top of things. I’m just… I’m not used to working with people like you."

Aiba shifts up and over Yamapi to look closely at his expression; it’s hard to see with just the flickering of a fluorescent street lamp above, and Aiba wants to make sure he’s telling the truth. Somehow, it’s important to Aiba that he is.

"How do you feel about being the leader of the new guys?"

Yamapi flushes, though whether it’s due to being called the leader, the abrupt change of subject or Aiba’s proximity is debatable. Most likely it’s a mixture of the three. "I’m not really the lead—"

The conversation ends there with a digital click from the side. Aiba pulls away abruptly to Nino’s smirk, cell phone in hand. "Yay compromising positions," Nino deadpans, though his expression promises that the image will be forwarded to everyone in their office before the end of the day. Next to him, Tegoshi nearly collapses laughing, clinging to Nino as he bawls with joy. Apparently he has a thing for pranks; Aiba will have to tell Sho to separate him from Nino in the future.

Still, the laughter rings happily in Aiba’s ears, like a symphony. Laughter that surrounds him like every other day. A laughter that he is beginning to get used to. His flashback to what is fondly known as "the picnic table incident" fades as he glances around the office room, hearing said laughter. Then again, Aiba has always been hyper-attuned to the sounds around him in the office (probably because he likes finding reasons to get distracted, but that’s neither here nor there).

Whenever deadlines approach, the office buzzes with the shuffling of papers and the click clack of typing on keyboards. Sometimes there's a drum of fingers on desks and impatient foot-tapping. An anxious current of muttered curses under Jun’s breath and worried coos from Koyama to keep everyone awake and functioning.

But most days the office is filled with chatter, bouts of giggles, playful shoves. Sometimes, Sho raps playfully at Tegoshi across the room or Matsjun and Ryo bitch at each other. Sometimes, Nino catcalls Koyama as he walks down the desk aisles and Shige stumbles over stacks of papers. Sometimes, Ohno and Massu talk about the joys of food and, usually, everyone joins in.

Sometimes, Aiba wonders if the conversation was ever as warm when it was just the five of them. And he knows it must have been, because of course it was, but this works too, somehow.

“So let’s talk about the party!” Aiba says, and the groan that resounds in the room is the best thing he’s heard in a while.

He can’t wait to have this party, to celebrate them.


-----


"You didn’t tell me 'meeting' was actually code for 'fishing twenty-four hours straight'."

"It was implied," Ohno says happily. ("Pack your bags," Ohno had said solemnly the day before, "Tomorrow we’re going to an overnight meeting.")

Shige scowls, "No wonder Ninomiya kept telling me to have fun at the meeting. He had such a shit-eating grin on his face, I should’ve known."

Ohno laughs, then shrugs, "I’m surprised you didn’t. Everyone else knows." Shige looks curious and Ohno elaborates. "I need these fishing outings every now and then, and the boss indulges me. It keeps me in line, gets me to actually do my work."

"…Are we getting paid to go fishing?" Shige asks incredulously.

"Paid leave," Ohno nods. "I only get this once a month though, usually I have to find time on my own."

Shige’s jaw drops, "How does the boss put up with you?"

"I’m irreplaceable," Ohno jokes, but they both know it’s true. Ohno does amazing work when he isn’t sleeping; it’s just a matter of motivation. Ohno has wanted to quit many times throughout his career, but the boss was insistent; his incentives always managed to win Ohno over. What other job can he take that lets him fish and get paid for it? It’s almost like heaven.

"I can’t believe I never noticed that your monthly meetings weren’t really meetings," Shige laments, though with a smile. "I’m actually a little ashamed of myself."

They sit back and bask in the sun beating overhead. Ohno pulls out an endless amount of snacks, and together they sweat and they eat and they breathe.

Shige tells him stories of his college life at Aoyama, about how he’s always wanted a jellyfish for a pet, how his dog Nana is the cutest thing on earth. He talks about his days back in training for the company. There were nine of them who started out together. One had left almost immediately after training had begun; apparently he didn’t want this sort of white-collar mundane life. Another had resigned due to some scandals that had been dug up, followed by a third months later for the same reason. When Ohno asks what they were accused of doing, Shige just firms his lips and doesn’t say.

"Well, that sucks," Ohno says, cutting a freshly caught fish open for sashimi. "I’ve been hit with some nasty rumors myself, but by then I was already out of training and the boss needed me, so I only had a couple days of suspensions."

Despite himself, Shige looks curious. "Like what?"

Ohno begins to tick them off his free fingers. "Illegal substances, orgies, more illegal substances…you know, the usual."

"The usual, you say," Shige laughs. "Were any of them real?"

Ohno waggles his eyebrows. Shige pales.

Ohno chuckles, and then he sighs. "Though I don’t know why they’d say that. Fishing is clearly better than crack," he says wisely.

Shige looks like he is contemplating throwing himself overboard. Ohno laughs, mirth playing in his eyes.

A pause.

"But seriously," Ohno says, and he knows it’s an abrupt change of topic and not really related, but then again, it sort of is. "You guys are pretty okay."

'Pretty okay' doesn’t even begin to cover it, but Shige understands. He smiles, and then yelps with excitement for his coworker, friend, when Ohno’s fishing rod shivers with another catch.


-----


In the end, Aiba decides that perhaps the best way to have the party is to go about it simply. So he trudges up to Okada’s office and pulls a few pouts and large enthusiastic gestures, and the next thing he knows, he has the funds to host an office dinner.

The eleven of them go to a fancy yakiniku place and get a room in the back. They crowd around a table that really should be meant for eight and they eat, and they talk, and they laugh, and they touch. Aiba’s head lolls on Yamapi’s shoulder and Massu drunkenly clutches onto Ohno like his life depends on it; across from them, Tegoshi sits half-draped on both Koyama and Sho. Down the table Aiba sees them all, sticky with cool sweat and loose bodies, suit jackets draped every which way and ties loose around their necks.

And oh, do they drink. They drink up to their mutual success, to their shared office experience, to their happiness, to their friendships.

"I love you guys," Aiba wails, as the alcohol begins to course through his veins and make his head light. "I love you," he points to Jun, "and you," Yamapi, "and even you," Tegoshi and Nino. "All of you," he says, with a sloppy gesture to everyone else across the table. And then he bursts into tears, which prompts a massive cry-fest, but that is conveniently forgotten in lieu of the fact that Aiba was the one who started it.

They tease Aiba about this night days after, with pretend crying and overdramatic speeches about love and overcoming obstacles and manly bear-hug friendships. And they joke that this is the reason they never let Aiba host parties.

But maybe, perhaps, they all love in the same way.


-----


AN: I still can't believe I wrote all this O_O. And that tinyangl actually liked it. Happy day!






Oh and I swear I haven't totally fallen off the face of the earth. Really. School has just been eating my soul. :(

Comments
Re: if this does not show you my love, i'll . . . poke you. with something pointy.

why are your comments so fucking epic?

Re: if this does not show you my love, i'll . . . poke you. with something pointy.

Yeah I think I already told you how much I love you for this. Not that I didn't before. But. You know. *________________* ::clingclingcling::

...

You.

You wrote Tegoshi.

...

You even made him kind of cute.

I had to stop and remind myself, "Wait, wait, this is Triv's writing."

x.x

But alknlksnldknglskndlgkns office AUs. T_T OFFICE JE NEVER EVER GETS OLD. AND YOU MADE THIS ALL SERIOUS AND SORT OF META. OHNO SHIGE FISHING OH GOD.

T_T

I wish school weren't eating your soul. ;_; YOU COULD BE CHURNING OUT MORE STUFF LIKE THIS. T_T

GA

alsdkmfadsf. Can you tell I had the HARDEST time with that part omfg alsdkfmalsdkf. Seriously. Why did I think putting Jun and Tego together would be a good idea? That was the last part I wrote and took me foreverrrrrrrrrrr T____________________T

NO???? IT SEEMED A LITTLE TOO EASY ACTUALLY. :| I WAS LIKE, "...WAIT WHY IS HE BELIEVABLY AWESOME. SHIT NOW I HAVE TO LIKE HIM OR SMTH."

GA

LOL WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO? XPPP

...This is all your fault. ):

GA

...

TEGOSHI, TRIV. TEGOSHI. :| YOU COULDN'T EVEN HAVE MADE HIM FAIL A LITTLE BIT??

GA

I DID? IN THE BEGINNING? ...SORT OF? D:?

.....eeeeeeeeee wow. So sweet! So very very sweet and. and. Office AU! And sempai/kouhai relationships and and ping. Just. Yeah ♥

XD Yay pings. XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD ::tackles::

OH FUCK THIS SCREAMS CRACK AT ME WAIT LET ME GO READ IT

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG Triv, never, ever stop writing. I BEG OF YOU. OR ELSE I WILL PARCH UP AND DIE LIKE A FISH OUT OF WATER.

I love this and I admire all their ability to stay on track to WORK goddamnit and okay so this story wasn't as epic as the one you and Gem wrote, but IT'S REALLY GOOD AND IT MADE ME ALL GIGGLY AND HAPPY AND EEEEEEEEE OH RIGHT I WAS GOING TO MENTION THE EPIC V2 OF 6 THAT PEEKS OUT FROM ABOVE THE CLOUDS (aka the higher-ups) AND CAN I PERSONALLY GET SOME MORE OF THIS AU? I don't know how you feel about writing K8 so I'll beg you for some higher-up goodness?

DON'T DIE THAT WOULD BE SAD. ESPECIALLY SINCE I WON'T BE WRITING MORE OF THIS, AS NICE AS YOUR COMMENT IS XPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP.

Aw this is so adorable. I miss your writing! When will you come back to meee?hearts

laksdmgf um. um I'm here now? :DDDDD?

Weren't you going to write me something? I can't remember. More cuteness!

ldkfmaldskfads I probably was. I can't even remember I fail at everything fandom related these days T________________________T

That's okay~ I can't think of what I asked you to write either so let's pretend it never happened.

lol sounds good to me XDDD

Okay, I feel like a complete stalker now.
I reread it, and I just had to comment!
It's hard to find ArashixNEWS nowadays. An Office AU at that!
You captured them so perfectly ♥

omg don't feel like that, seriously. i'm sure i stalk worse than you :)

anyway thank you! i'm glad you wanted to comment, and that you thought so. thank you for reading :DDDDD