Title: In the Changing Room - Chapter 6
Chapter Title: Breaking A Rule
Nino had a plan.
A most likely long-term entertainment plan. And it obviously involves the two idiots who are hanging around in the room right now trying to deny each other's existence despite being co-workers.
One was talking to another member, while the other was just reading a manga in which Nino couldn't quite see what the title was from where he was sitting. Nino wasn't sure whether he was really reading the manga though, considering the occasional, almost hidden, irritated glances he casted at the other party. Nino had decided.
He would make them break every single rule on their contract.
To do it, first, he was going to have to gain their trust. Or at least, get their guards down. The tricky part was that, once he executed an action, he still has to remain on their good side to progress along the way. It's a game that has no saving points nor a reset button.
Back to the current situation, Arashi had just finished recording an episode of Uso!Japan, exchanged greetings with Taichi-kun and most of them are feeling a little extra chilly, as they usually do, after half an hour of spooky revelations as they returned to their assigned room, to find that the vehicle that was supposed to bring them back had broken down, so they had some time to kill before returning home. It was a pretty good opportunity, in Nino's point of view.
Nino watched irritably as Aiba pulled off a silly stunt, causing Sho to erupt with laughter. As much as he liked Aiba's crazy antics, he's kind of in the way right now. He placed one hand on Ohno's shoulder, who was sitting quietly while watching Aiba with a goofy smile on his face, and said aloud,
"Leader, why don't you and Aiba go get drinks for us? There's a vending machine on the floor below I believe. I was there just now."
"Ehhh? Why us?" Aiba protested. "I was talkin-"
"I'd like a can of Pokka coffee please, thank you." Nino cut him off short with a pointed smile.
"Ah, I'd like one too, many thanks Leader, Aiba-kun." Jun said without taking his eyes off the manga.
"Then... Should I go help them too?" Sho asked Nino.
"No, the two of them can handle it, right guys?" Nino flashed another smile at them.
"Ehhh. Alright, alright." Aiba said with a pout. "Come on Leader. Do you want a drink too Sho-kun? No? Okay." Ohno stood up and shuffled after Aiba wordlessly.
Nino rubbed his hands together.
Okay! Time to break Rule Number #2!
Jun did not care that Sho had really stopped looking at him, had really stopped trying to talk to him, had stopped making any sort of contact with him. That was in the contract after all, wasn't it?
It just irritated him when he noticed the gradual change in Sho after a while. It irritated him that Sho was always hanging out with Aiba recently, always laughing in a carefree way. It irritated him that Sho didn't smile around him anymore, and yet smiled around Aiba.
Traitor, he thought. He still dares to be happy.
He continued to stare at his manga, uncomfortably aware of the presence in the room after Aiba and Ohno had left.
"Hey guys, look." Nino called out to them. Jun lowered his manga to look over at Nino, who was sitting on the sofa opposite of his. Poker cards were spread on the table before him. Sho shuffled over to Nino to look over his shoulder.
"I've recently learned of this game called 'Cheat'. Have you guys heard of it?"
"No." Jun said, and Sho shook his head.
"You've never heard of it? Well, it's a pretty interesting game, and it sharpens your sense of perception and observation. You guys wanna try?"
"Not really," Jun said and raised his manga again.
"W-ell... I'm not sure how it even goes," Sho said at almost the same time.
"Oh come on, don't be such a spoilsport. I'll teach you guys okay? It's quite fun."
The taller guy of the pair standing by the vending machine was smacking the buttons on it for around the 20th time in the past ten minutes.
"Ehhh. It's not working."
"I know." came the reply from his companion.
"It ate my coins!! ...What should we do then? Just go back?"
A short , thoughtful pause.
"Hmm. No. I think there's a convenience store just 10 minutes away from here. Let's go there."
"Ahhh! You're right! Okay."
The pair began walking again, heading for the convenience store, when Aiba suddenly stopped. Ohno looked back at him questioningly.
"Ehh. But didn't Nino say he was at the vending machine earlier? Why didn't he mention it was spoiled?"
"Cheat." Nino said calmly, looking at the faced-down card that Sho had just place on the discard deck. Sho froze, almost comically, in the middle of pulling himself back to his seat. Jun smirked and turned the top card over.
"Well, well, look at that. It's not an Ace."
"Arghh! How is it that you guys keep seeing through me?"
"Hah. We're psychic. We can read your cards." Nino said with a chuckle as he pushed all the cards in the discard deck towards Sho, who took it with a pout on his face.
"My turn." Jun said, drawing two cards from his hand.
"Two '2's." He said, with a poker face, and placed them faced down on the table in front of him. Sho frowned and squinted at him as he scrutinized his face for telltale signs. Nino flicked a glance over at Jun's face, and turned his eyes back to his cards. He carefully placed one card faced down on top of the cards Jun just placed.
"One '3'." Jun eyed him suspiciously, as so did Sho, only that Sho did it with squinted eyes. A short pause, before Jun turned to look at Sho instead, silently indicating that it was his turn to move. Sho had just looked back at the cards in his hands when Nino stood up quickly. Both the other guys looked up at him.
"Toilet. Urgent." And he made a rush for the door, leaving the two of them to themselves.
Jun turned back to Sho, without realising that the two of them were left alone. He waved his hand towards Sho,
Sho in turn, took a card out of his hand and placed it face down on the very thin pile of cards on the table.
"One '4'." He said, removing his hand slowly away from the cards, trying to be careful of his expression at the same time.
Jun scrutinized his face, speculating whether the card was really a '4' or not. Sho, focusing deeply on trying to keep his face poker straight, raised his eyes to meet Jun's.
And was almost blown away as his eyes met solemn, yet shining brown eyes, spilling radiantly with brilliance. He breathed in sharply, almost instantly pulled his eyes away and scolded himself for being so taken aback. Since when did Matsujun's eyes develop that shine? Yet, underneath all that brilliance, lies a tinge of... melancholy?
Curious, he raised his eyes back to return Jun's stare with a steady gaze of his own. For a moment, these two, unaware of their surroundings and situation, connected.
Jun, on the other hand, was unaware of it himself at first. He found himself looking at serious eyes that promised calmness, and peace of the mind to the onlooker. Eyes portraying a strength in mental willpower... eyes that he had almost forgotten.
He was caught in those eyes as if trapped in an abyss, as the other man seemed to be caught in his eyes in the same way.
The eyes were one of the things that had brought him to respect and admire his senior, Sho-kun.
For a moment, everything seemed to have went still around them. Even time.
And then the door clicked open, snapping the two back to reality, revealing a beaming Aiba and Ohno, who had came back, carrying plastic bags containing can drinks, followed by a not-too-pleased-looking Nino.
Aiba had caught Nino loitering somewhere near the changing room, and had practically swept him along with him and Ohno, like an unstoppable bulldozer, and charged into the room. Of course Nino wasn't pleased that his plan was being interrupted. He didn't expect them to be back so soon.
Well. At least he managed to catch a peek of those two morons looking at each other, before they quickly turned away in opposite directions, looking quite flustered, as soon as they realised the others had entered the room. As soon as they realised what they had been subsconsciously doing.
Feedbacks? XD;;;; I'm not sure how things are looking from a reader's point of view at the current moment...