Jun glanced up at the four story building before him, nerves on edge. Ninomiya Laboratories seemed fairly non-descript—simple brick siding and a few windows here and there, but he’d had to pass through two separate security checkpoints before he could even stand here. He was interviewing for a position as a lab technician, but the truth was Jun had very little base knowledge in science beyond his high school chemistry class. Luckily the ad had said “No experience necessary! Learn on site with one of the best!” Which probably should have scared him off, but adapting quickly to new situations was one of Jun’s specialties. And besides, the pay advertised had been more than he expected which would really help with the rising cost of his rent. Jun walked with purpose towards the entrance and greeted the security guard with a courteous nod of his head, “Hello, I’m Matsumoto Jun. I have an interview scheduled today.” The guard nodded and waved Jun towards the reception area.
After a short wait, he was led into a small conference room and was greeted by two men, one shorter in stature, hair falling neatly into place; the other wearing a lab coat, his hair mussed and falling messily into his eyes. “Ninomiya Kazunari” the shorter man said offering his hand to Jun.
“Matsumoto Jun.” He replied, smiling brightly.
“This is Aiba Masaki,” Ninomiya added gesturing towards the man next to him.
Jun turned to Aiba and smiled, “Nice to meet you.”
“I’m sure you’re familiar with my company—we work mostly with prescription medications to combat cancer, but we have other smaller divisions dedicated to other areas of interest. Aiba-san runs the experimental division.” Ninomiya explained.
Jun nodded and schooled his features into a neutral mask, “How experimental?” he asked attempting to hide the apprehension in his voice.
Ninomiya smirked at him, “You’re nervous. Don’t worry, that’s natural, especially when Aiba is involved.” He said lightly.
Aiba’s eyes went wide at the realization, “Good experiments!” He insisted loudly. “Not weapons or anything like that, I want to help people!”
Jun relaxed at Aiba’s words then found himself gaping as Ninomiya shrugged, “you need more experience to deal with the weapons division anyway.”
Aiba rolled his eyes and looked at Jun, “Nino likes to tease, we don’t really have a weapons division.” He clarified, throwing a look at Nino, “Basically Nino doesn’t trust me alone in the lab.” He finally admitted grudgingly.
“He’s an idiot.” Nino challenged, then at Aiba’s huff of indignation backtracked a bit, “Okay, how about easily distracted?”
“I get excited sometimes.” Aiba said in a small voice.
Jun blinked between the two of them wondering if the pay advertised would really be worth the trouble of dealing with these two on a daily basis, but there was something he couldn’t put his finger on, something about the questionable scientist, that was stopping him from walking out of the interview right then.
The interview concluded with an impromptu quiz on the basics of lab safety and Aiba wrenching Jun’s hand and telling him how much he looked forward to working with him. Jun decided a trial basis was in order to see if he could actually survive the job.
Standing just outside of the large metal door, Jun used his right index finger to push his glasses up further on the bridge of his nose. He’d chosen to wear the frames instead of his contact lenses after remembering the warning from his high school teacher about fumes getting lodged into the lenses and blinding him. His hands swept down his charcoal dress shirt, smoothing the non-existent creases as he squared his shoulders and plastered a smile onto his face. He knocked twice then pushed the door open, slipping inside and glancing around. “Hello?” He called out, eyes roaming over the glass beakers, burners, pipettes, and a large computer monitor lining the counters along the wall. Everything was a crisp white or gleaming stainless steel, so when a figure popped around the corner, brown hair in disarray and safety goggles giving his eyes a bug-like quality, Jun took a step back in surprise.
“Matsumoto-kun, welcome!” Aiba said happily upon sight of him. He took in Jun’s appearance, noting the stylish clothing that was sure to get dirtied in the lab. “You’ll need these, c’mon.” He said beaming back at Jun, who was blinking at him, eyes still wide from the slight shock.
Jun shifted slightly under Aiba’s intense gaze and looked down at his clothes, wondering if he’d accidentally left his fly open. He looked on curiously as Aiba turned suddenly and crossed the room to open a small closet, rooting around for a minute before producing a white lab coat that matched his own and spare pair of goggles. Recognition settled in as Aiba returned and handed them to Jun.
Jun took the proffered items and slipped the glasses over his head, securing them into place as he followed his boss around the corner, “Thanks, I’ll dress properly tomorrow.” Jun said slightly abashed as Aiba came to a stop at a small workstation. He shouldered the coat on as he came to a stop in front of a lab table.
Aiba shook his head, “You’re dressed fine, Jun-kun, but the lab just gets messy sometimes. Everyone wears a coat. Besides, it’s safer that way!” He explained, raising his arms to show off his own matching coat.
Jun nodded and looked down at the table where a pair of gloves lay ripped open at the seams. A series of small wires were sewn into the fabric of the fingers, and across the palm, leading to a small white plastic pack along the wrist of the accessory. He studied the contraption and watched with interest as Aiba retrieved a small soldering iron and touched the heated tip to the solder to join the wires together at the base of the pack. “What are you making?”
“Electric mittens” Aiba replied easily as he set the iron back in its holder and let the metal set. “They’re battery powered,” he added indicating the small pack attached to the wrist, “so they’ll always be warm and you don’t have to put them in the oven before putting them on.”
Jun cocked his head slightly, filtering back through Aiba’s words in his mind and trying to see if he had heard him incorrectly, “You put your mittens in the oven?”
Aiba turned to him, eyes wide with disbelief, “Don’t you? It makes them really warm before you put them on so that your hands are extra toasty.”
“I, well, I guess I never thought of that.” Jun conceded with a small shrug as Aiba smiled back at him. He watched as Aiba tested the connection, and apparently satisfied, flicked a small switch on the side of the battery pack.
“Now you won’t have to worry anyway—can you hand me that thermometer?” Aiba asked pointing to a gun-looking apparatus hanging in a charging cradle on the wall. “Thanks.” He said flashing another smile as he flipped the gadget on and pointed it towards the palm of the glove and smiled at the digital readout. “Temperature is climbing steadily and reaching maximum warmth…now!” Aiba narrated as the experiment commenced.
“Is it working?” Jun asked stepping closer to Aiba to get a better look, belatedly remembering that part of his job description was logging the progress of the experiments so he snagged a clipboard from the counter.
Aiba nodded, hair bouncing slightly with the movement, then stopped abruptly as the temperature on the gauge continued to climb. “But it’s supposed to stabilize when it reaches—no!” he cried out suddenly and Jun stared down at the wisps of smoke starting to emerge from the fabric. Aiba dropped the thermometer on the counter and reached for the battery pack but small flames erupted on the palm and along the thumb and ring fingers of the glove and it was soon engulfed in flames. “Why does everything catch fire?” Aiba whined pitifully.
Jun sprang into action and swept his eyes across the room, quickly locating the small fire extinguisher mounted to the wall not far off from where the thermometer had been. He crossed to it and pulled the tab, “Get back!” he called to Aiba and pointed the hose at the fire and pulled, smothering it in white foam. He stared at Aiba who was scowling down at the mess, “Does, does this happen often? Your inventions bursting into flame?” He simplified as Aiba blinked back at him in confusion.
Aiba ducked his head, “More often than it should,” He admitted sheepishly.
Jun watched, half-admiring, as Aiba set four more pairs of gloves on fire in the hours that followed the first incident in an obviously futile effort to make his invention work. He had tried to tell Aiba that battery powered hand warmers had already been invented, but Aiba dismissed this easily because they hadn’t been invented in this way.
“Those are inserts.” Aiba explained patiently, willing Jun to follow along as he fitted the last piece of metal back into place, “These are built in to the gloves, so all you have to do is switch out the battery.” Aiba double checked the circuitry in the pack one last time before finally flicking the switch again.
Jun opened his mouth, beginning to ask Aiba just what was so wrong with inserts, but cut himself off as he set forth another burst of foam as the last mitten prototype went up in flames. “Maybe flame retardant material would be a step in the right direction?” He asked wryly.
Three weeks later, Jun had settled into his new job. There had been a steep learning curve in which he’d almost sacrificed the feeling in his fingers in the name of science during a liquid nitrogen experiment, but he really was having fun trying to learn to see things the way Aiba did. They’d fallen into an easy routine of experiments, break for lunch, then record the results and plan for the next day.
One day during lunch, Jun sat at a small table in the break room stirring his instant ramen, watching as Aiba set about preparing his own meal. He grinned at Aiba’s humming as he opened the microwave and placed his food inside, programming it to the correct time and dancing a little as it switched on. Seconds later he was on his feet and dashing towards Aiba as a loud popping and ominous sizzling emitted from the microwave. He shoved Aiba out of the way and curled his nose in disgust as the smell of singed metal assaulted his senses. Aiba, Jun decided darkly, could set anything on fire.
The next day Jun entered the lab with purpose and came to a stop next to Aiba at the work table, a miniature fire extinguisher sat in a holster strapped to his hip. “What are we working on today?” He asked brightly.
Aiba stared down at his accessory, “Jun-kun is so mean” He declared dejectedly.
Jun shrugged, “Better safe than burnt to a crisp.”
Jun walked into the lab, a bounce in his step and a smile on his face. He’d now fully settled into his position of assistant/disaster prevention specialist over the past few months and felt like he could handle anything at this point. However, As soon as he stepped through the metal door his nose twitched at a burning smell and he sighed in defeat. He raced around the corner to see Aiba hovering over a small box, completely oblivious to the catastrophe at hand: a small cake was set over an open flame with all of the frosting melting off and dripping down the sides of the pan to burn onto the device. Jun’s breath caught and he felt his stomach do an unexpected funny little flip at the sight. Of all the things he had expected to be burning, a cake was last on that list. He quickly shook his head to bring himself back into the moment. “Don’t you smell that?” He asked Aiba resignedly as he stepped over to the burner and flipped the switch to put out the flame.
Aiba gave a small jump at his voice and scrambled to stand in front of the box, arms spreading wide in an attempt to obstruct Jun’s view. “Ah, Jun-kun, you’re here early!” he said groping behind him blindly to find a small length of cloth to throw over the box.
Jun frowned at him and checked his watch, “No I’m not?”
“Yes you are!” Aiba replied earnestly, “I got here early so I could finish your present and warm up the cake and—the cake!” He said, eyes going wide as he fully processed Jun’s question. “Ah, it was only supposed to warm up a bit before you got here, but I got distracted working on your present and…” Aiba trailed off, eyes downcast as he looked at the charred remains of the cake.
Jun felt the blush creeping up his neck as Aiba spoke, “Well, you didn’t have to do that. Any of that.” He said felling flustered at Aiba’s attention. “It’s only 9 anyway, and sweets aren’t good for breakfast.” He added dismissively. “Aren’t we not supposed to eat in here anyway?” Jun asked, grabbing a pair of tongs to move the hot plate off of the burner and onto the counter, hoping he sounded calmer than he felt.
Aiba gaped back at him, “Jun-kun, it’s your birthday. You have to have cake for breakfast on your birthday.” He said completely ignoring Jun’s citation of the lab rules as he stepped away from the work table to join Jun by the cake, “It was your Bunsen Burner Birthday Cake” He said forlornly as he stared down at the crispy frosting coating the outside of the now defunct burner.
Jun felt his stomach twisting again and coughed lightly, “Ah well, maybe some of it is still salvageable?” He offered.
Aiba’s eyes lit up at Jun’s suggestion and he smiled back at him, “you really want to try my cake?”
Caught off guard by Aiba’s reaction, Jun nodded and reached automatically for one of the forks that Aiba had brought for them to use and stuffed a forkful of burnt cake into his mouth. His eyes widened and he choked a little as the dense texture of the cake threatened to obstruct his windpipe, but managed to cough out a garbled “it’s good.” Aiba’s beaming smile directed at him more than made up for the lie he had just told and the thought that he may have to choke another few bites of the cake down before he could pass as reasonably full. As he continued to work through the bite, his eyes widened as he tasted something that was most definitely not cake. Jun swallowed thickly, eyes watering a bit, “Did you make it yourself?”
Aiba grinned back at him, head bobbing in affirmation.
“Is, is that pork in there?” Jun asked, using to fork to pick through the remaining bits of cake warily before he chanced another bite. His lips and tongue were now stinging with spice as well.
Again, Aiba’s head was nodding enthusiastically, “You could tell! It’s Mapo Tofu Cake! I made the pieces of pork smaller than normal so that they would mix better, and added some of the chili paste into the frosting too. I thought the sweet and spicy would go well together, even if it isn’t a usual combination.” He explained happily. “Did you really think it was okay?”
Jun stared back at him in disbelief, “I uh, well, the texture was a little…troublesome.” Jun said wincing internally as Aiba’s face fell with his honesty. “But uh, this was burnt, right? So that’s probably why the texture was weird. The flavors were really good though.” Jun’s mouth was working of its own accord and not at all connected to his brain anymore, but he couldn’t help but feel relieved as Aiba’s smile returned as he lied to his boss. He tried not to think about how he may be subjected to another version of this cake in the future.
“Ah! I almost forgot your present!” Aiba said suddenly and crossed back over to the work table, “I still need to finish calibrating the gears, but, “Ta-dah!” he said pulling the cloth away with a flourish.
Jun smiled at Aiba, mumbling a small “thank you” as he stepped closer to the box and peered at it curiously. “What is it?”
Aiba’s smile was contagious as he explained the device to Jun. “Well, you’re always complaining about how long it takes to iron your shirts, so I made you a shirt press!”
“Wow, that’s great, Aiba-san.” Jun said staring down at the box in disbelief. He didn’t really remember complaining about ironing his shirts, but theoretically this could be useful (if it didn’t burn down his apartment).
“Let’s try it out!” Aiba said excitedly, eyes sweeping around the room quickly, and finally landing back on Jun, “take off your shirt!”
“Huh?” Jun asked stupidly as Aiba moved forward and started tugging Jun’s lab coat off of his shoulders. “Stop that!” He said batting Aiba’s hands away and wrenching his coat shut again.
Aiba tsk’d lightly laughing at Jun’s modesty and shrugged off his own coat, laying it on the surface of the table before popping open the buttons of his own shirt, “No need to get embarrassed, I’ll just do it myself.”
Jun watched quietly as Aiba divested himself of his shirt and couldn’t stop a small gasp at the sight of the birthmark on Aiba’s left shoulder. His fingers twitched at his side as he thought about tracing the mark. He quickly squashed that thought and felt his face heating again as he attempted to divert his attention by staring at the long planes of Aiba’s chest as he stripped, which turned out to be an equally bad decision. Aiba’s stomach, while not toned, was lean and the sprinkle of coarse hair beginning just under his navel and disappearing down into his waistband had his mind reeling.
“All we have to do is lay it in the tray like this,” Aiba said as he lifted one side of the box up to reveal a metal tray within as he placed the shirt inside.
Jun’s eyes jerked back up to Aiba’s face as he began talking again. He worked to comprehend the simple explanation Aiba was offering, but he found his eyes still straying to the beautiful silhouette presented before him.
“The you close it, and switch it on.” Aiba’s actions mimicked his words as he spoke and Jun prayed silently that the machine would perform its function without incident. He truly wanted Aiba to succeed. After half a minute the machine automatically shut off and Aiba slid the side open again to retrieve the shirt.
Jun clapped lightly as Aiba removed his now wrinkle-free shirt and smiled proudly. “I’ll never iron again.” He declared. He was more than a little sad when Aiba shrugged back into the garment, but tried to shrug off the feeling; being attracted to his boss was dangerous.
Aiba’s mapo tofu cake was merely the beginning of his food experimentations. He was now in the process of trying to find a way to preserve food for long periods of time, but keep the original form, “What’s the use of eating ice cream in space if you have to squeeze it out of a tube like toothpaste?” He’d asked Jun as he was setting up the tank to dip various foodstuffs into.
“Yes, but freezing food requires the food to be kept at a certain temperature to maintain the safety of the food.” Jun tried to argue against him.
Aiba merely shrugged in response, donning thick gloves as he retrieved the canister of liquid nitrogen to pour. “We’ll figure that out later. Right now we’re going to freeze things and then thaw and prepare it to see how it affects the taste.”
Jun took a steadying breath. He was used to working off the whims of Aiba, but this was borderline ridiculous. “You’re misusing company materials to amuse yourself. You’re ignoring major potential flaws that anyone, could point out, just so you can do something different. It’s irresponsible.” Jun practically spat at him as Aiba poured the fluid into the waiting tank.
Aiba stared back at him, caught off guard by Jun’s outburst, “That’s what you think of me? That I’m irresponsible?” He asked as he capped the canister, twisting the wrench forcefully to make sure it was secure.
Jun shook his head wincing at the hurt in Aiba’s voice, “That’s not what I said. I said you were acting irresponsible. There’s a difference.”
Aiba scoffed at him and turned back to his work station, “Not much of one. Why don’t you go check the growth of the pineapples?” he suggested coolly.
Jun opened his mouth to argue, but decided against it, he didn’t want to push too far and upset Aiba any further. “Yeah, I’ll do that. Try not to set anything on fire while I’m gone” he said simply and made his way to the far side of the lab where a grow light was trained onto a set of planters holding various sprouts and buds, grinning when Aiba called back “Liquid nitrogen isn’t flammable!”
A few hours and several “Agh, disgusting’s!” later Jun ventured tentatively back over to Aiba’s workstation and watched as he worked. “Is that miso soup?” He asked curiously.
Aiba’s gaze flitted back to him and he nodded curtly. “The molecular structure of soup should fair better with the extreme temperatures presented upon it.”
Jun accepted Aiba’s explanation at face value since it seemed like it would make sense. He glanced around at the workstation and sighed quietly at the various dishes lining the counter and the mess that accompanied them. It would be a long cleanup. A light banging soon caught his attention and Jun glanced over towards the pipe connected to the container of liquid nitrogen, his brows furrowing as he realized it was vibrating where it sat. “Uh, Aiba-san?” He asked moving towards where Aiba stood, an uneasiness settling in on him.
Aiba however was too preoccupied with fishing out the now solid block of soup from the tub of liquid nitrogen currently in use to notice the movement of the container or to respond to Jun.
The pipe continued to vibrate picking up speed and causing Jun to grab Aiba by the arm and fling him towards the plant station on the far side of the room as he followed behind him. He ignored Aiba’s sounds of protest and was suddenly propelled several feet forward, accidentally tackling Aiba and knocking his head against the counter as the canister blew, releasing the liquid and filling the room with the rapidly expanding gas. The emergency system kicked into gear soon after and an alarm sounded loudly as Jun shoved off of Aiba and quickly ran trembling hands over the other’s limbs, prodding his flesh gently and asking “Are you alright? Did you break anything? Does it hurt anywhere?” without giving Aiba a chance to answer.
“I’m fine.” Aiba insisted, trying to maneuver Jun off of him, but Jun’s body was heavy against his, “you’re the one who’s hurt!” He said as he finally stilled Jun’s hands and wiggled out from under his body, pushing himself into a kneeling position in front of Jun.
Jun blinked at him in surprise, “No I’m not.” He replied, shaking his head for emphasis, but Aiba’s hands came up to cup his face, keeping his head still as an emergency crew came rushing into the lab. They wore biohazard suits, complete with masks, and made a quick sweep of the area, monitoring the air levels and gauging the threat. Aiba produced a small cloth from his pocket and blotted Jun’s forehead, apologizing as he pressed the cloth to his would to stem the blood flow.
“Can you stand?” One of the crew asked Jun and at his nod, he and Aiba helped Jun get to his feet. Jun was surprised to see the dark red stain on the cloth in Aiba’s hand. A quick checkup for both Aiba and Jun revealed no serious injuries and both were dismissed for the day.
A short investigation revealed that one of the pressure-stabilizing mechanisms within the central unit of the Nitrogen holding tank had malfunction and an unsafe amount of pressure had built up within, causing a catastrophic malfunction. The lab would need to be shut down for at least a week while repairs were made and both Nino and Aiba insisted that Jun should take the time to focus on his recovery. Jun had argued that he was feeling perfectly fine, aside from his splitting headache, and was therefore more than able to help with the cleanup, or at least with monitoring Aiba’s experiments in the temporary lab he was being set up in, but his complaints fell on deaf ears. “The health and safety of our employees is our primary concern at Ninomiya Laboratories” Nino rattled off at him disinterested.
Jun called Aiba six times the first day he was working without him, making sure he’d remembered to turn off the burner, or water the pineapples, or check the temperature in the freezer before Aiba finally snapped, “I’ve been working in this lab for years without you hovering over me, MatsuJun. I can get along fine without you for a week!” He insisted.
Jun only made it to four calls the next day before Aiba shut his phone off.
When he was finally allowed to return to the lab Jun felt both relieved and confused. Mainly, he was confused at how much relief he felt at the thought of being able to monitor Aiba, and be with him every day. He’d spent a week at home alone “recuperating” and imagining the various ways Aiba could have maimed himself and it had significantly hindered his sleep patterns. He walked through the familiar door and smiled at Aiba hunched over the computer. “Hello” he called softly.
Aiba’s body jerked slightly at his words, obviously caught by surprise and he spun around and smiled back at Jun, “Hi.”
Jun crossed the room to the supply closet, retrieving his coat and glasses, “So, what are we working on?” he asked eagerly.
Aiba shifted his weight, “The plants are ready to be moved into bigger pots, so I thought you could work on that today.”
Jun’s eyes narrowed, “Alone?” he asked.
Aiba nodded, “Yes. I’ll be busy re-wiring one of the circuits for the bottle opener, so I thought you could handle that by yourself.”
Jun nodded curtly and turned on his heel without another word. He stalked over to section of the lab dedicated to the plant life and seethed as he saw the new containers waiting for him, their wide empty mouths mocking him as he ripped open a bag of potting soil. He was pissed at the blatant dismissal by Aiba, and more so at the stab of rejection he’d felt at Aiba’s words. They had a working relationship; he reminded himself, agitated at his own reaction. He spent the rest of the day filling the new containers with a little more force than strictly necessary for the task.
The next day Aiba had another menial task for him to accomplish: organizing the supply closet. Jun had stared at him in disbelief, and he could see the apology in Aiba’s eyes as he told him to do it. Jun had tried to argue but Aiba’s quick, “Well, you are my assistant and this is part of your job, I’ve just been really lax with the tasks I’ve been assigning you so far” had put an end to that before he’d ever really gotten started on a rebuttal. Jun spent that day muttering to himself as he alphabetized the cleaning supplies.
By Friday Jun had enough. He knew he was being irrational, but he simply was not interested in being so. Aiba was insisting that he take a tiny little scrub brush and clean out all of the test tubes again. When Aiba explained that the accumulated later of dust from the past two days would cause the tubes to react disastrously with the chemical reagents and destroy all of their hard work, Jun threw the brush straight at Aiba’s head. A flitting sense of satisfaction coursed through him as it bounced off his hair. “I understand that I am your assistant and as such I will be cleaning and organizing things,” Jun began slowly, “but that being said, this is insane.” He snapped annoyed with Aiba’s behavior.
“No, it’s efficient.” Aiba countered picking up the brush and setting it on the counter, hands moving to his hips as he stared Jun down. “You’ve been my assistant for six months and, besides cleaning beakers and tubes and things, you haven’t done anything ‘organizational.’”
Jun’s eyes went wide at the accusation that he had been shirking his duties; that he had been anything less than professional, “That’s because I was too busy making sure you didn’t take out the whole building instead of just your lab.” Aiba looked physically pained at the accusation and Jun instantly regretted his words, “Low blow.” He admitted, anger seeping out of him immediately.
Aiba shrugged and looked at Jun sadly, “But it’s true. That’s why Nino hired you—because I’m a fuckup. I blew up the lab.” His eyes dropped to the floor.
“You’re not a fuckup. The lab wasn’t your fault. The seal was faulty, the investigation proved that.” Jun argued.
“I set mittens on fire, I set the counter on fire, I set my lab coat on fire” Aiba offered meekly.
Jun snorted, “You also nearly broke your toes when you dropped the block of ramen on them.”
Aiba made a pained sort of noise, then whispered, “You got hurt.”
He’d said it so low Jun wasn’t sure he’d heard him properly. “What?” He asked sharply.
“You got hurt.” Aiba repeated louder.
Jun stared back at him, and slowly closed the space between them, trapping Aiba against the counter. “That’s what’s wrong with you?” Jun asked incredulously, “The canister blows up feet from where you were standing, and you’re worried that I got a bump on my head? That’s why you’ve had me quarantined on the other side of the lab?”
Aiba wriggled uncomfortably, trapped between Jun and the solid material of the cabinets. “I just, if anything happened to you—really happened to you, then I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”
“You said it yourself though, you’ve set pretty much everything in here on fire at some point and I put out the flames. Really, when you look at it that way, I’m the only thing keeping you alive.” Jun said, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he leaned closer with each word. Jun had been accused of unprofessional behavior before, but those accounts were unwarranted. If Aiba really wanted to call him out for it, he at least wanted to be guilty.
Jun felt Aiba’s surprised as he moved into him, but was determined not to let his actions go to waste. Aiba’s hands fisted against his sides, then found purchase on Jun’s hips, eventually snaking them up Jun’s back and exploring the contours of his body as he wrapped his arms around his neck and melted into the kiss. Jun relaxed as Aiba yielded to him.
Jun pulled back a minute later and smiled smugly at the dazed look on Aiba’s face. “Does this mean I can help with your experiments again?”
Aiba blinked back at him, head bobbing softly, “You should come home with me” he said in a rush of breath.
Jun’s smile faltered at Aiba’s suggestion, “It’s still 10:00 in the morning.”
“Later. After work. You should come home with me.” He clarified, eyes still a little glazed over. He slid his hand down Jun’s arm to tangle their fingers together. “Please.” He added, giving Jun’s hand a light squeeze.
“Okay.” Jun agreed, his stomach doing that funny twisting thing again.
They worked through a set of experiments with Aiba’s revolutionary bottle opener, watching as it crawled up the side of various bottles, settling onto the caps and securing itself time after time before twisting and freeing the liquid inside with a small “pop.” After the seventh successful opening, Aiba threw his arms around Jun in celebration and Jun’s smile rivaled Aiba’s as they hugged.
As Jun’s car snaked through the city’s traffic behind Aiba’s, he felt his nerves winding tighter with each passing moment. He’d made a split second decision to reveal his feelings that morning and it hadn’t backfired, but not thinking through the invitation to Aiba’s apartment was wearing on him. Jun was a planner. He took great care to prepare completely and agonized over every decision he made. It took him fifteen minutes to pick out paper towels the first time he had gone shopping alone. Throwing caution to the wind He flicked his left turn signal on and followed Aiba down into the garage, pulling into a vacant spot with “guest” painted on the pavement along the far wall.
Neither Aiba nor Jun spoke as they caught the elevator and ascended to the 6th floor. Jun smiled as Aiba fumbled with fitting the key into the lock, glad he wasn’t the only one feeling nervous and followed him inside, lining up his shoes next to the others and smiling when he was offered a self-conscious, “So, this is it.”
“It’s nice.” Jun commented genuinely. “It feels really comfortable.” He added looking around at the mix-matched furniture and colorful artwork lining the walls.
Aiba smiled, pleased with the compliment, “Do you want some water?” He asked suddenly.
Jun quirked an eyebrow and nodded, following obediently and resting a hip against the counter, watching as Aiba retrieved a glass from the cabinet and filled it with cold water from the refrigerator. “Thanks” he said as he took a sip, watching over the rim of the glass as Aiba fidgeted nervously. They needed a distraction, something to break the tension. “So, was this your master plan? Bring me back here, get me hydrated, and take advantage of me?” Jun asked, eyebrows raising as he looked at Aiba.
Aiba’s bark of laughter had Jun grinning back at him and both of them settling more into the situation.
“Is it working?” Aiba asked, eyes bright with smile as he stepped closer to Jun, reaching out to take the glass away from him and set it on the counter behind him.
Jun nodded, watching as Aiba closed the distance and this time trapped him against the counter, “Definitely working.” He said wrapping his arms around Aiba’s waist and yanking him the last foot forward.
They ended up watching a movie and ordering out for dinner, settling on Chinese at Jun’s instance and lounged together on Aiba’s couch as they ate. They kept the conversation light, Aiba reaching over to steal bits from Jun’s bowl, receiving a soft thump on the head in response, but there was no heat since Jun was laughing at Aiba’s faux pained expression. “Jun-chan really is mean!”
Jun shrugged, “Maybe that’s because you deserve it?” He said with a laugh and quickly silenced Aiba’s protests with a kiss.
Jun shifted on the couch uncomfortably, trying not to knock their dishes to the floor but trying to feel as much of Aiba as possible under the circumstances. He finally pulled, leaning over amid Aiba’s protests to set both of their dinners on the coffee table. Aiba smiled as Jun returned to him, leaning over him and pressing him back into the cushions as he joined their lips together once more.
“Let’s experiment.” Aiba suggested a while later, snaking his hands up under Jun’s shirt.
Jun hovered above him, laughing as Aiba’s fingers set his skin on fire.