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Miles Away

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Aiba stares at the goods in front of him with great amusement. When Nino has appointed the box of sweets to him, he has said rather abruptly that someone gave them to him and he's donating it to the Sweets Club, then he immediately walks to where his usual spot in the couch is, leaving Aiba no chance to question him any further.

Not that Aiba still needs to ask, he, of all people, is fully aware of Nino's unspoken intention. He knows that Nino bought these sweets with his own money, but he doesn't want to give them directly to Ohno without making a fuss of his decreasing weight, so he conspires with Aiba instead. Even though the younger refuses to admit it, Aiba can practically read an instruction that is written invisibly on the box, Make leader eat this, use Sweets Club on your advantage and make him finish his share. There is even a p.s. note saying If you fail, you'll give me back my money.

He finds delight at his own humor and grins to himself, all the while chancing a glance at where Nino is busy tap-tapping his phone. Matsujun is already at the green room too, same with Sho-chan, but while Sho-chan is engrossed with his news documents, Matsujun is currently messing with his laptop, giving comments from time to time that aren't really addressed to anyone. Ohno is the only one not in the room, but he will be in a few minutes so Aiba simply decides to wait for him instead of engaging a conversation with the others.

Tapping a finger at the table, Aiba hums softly with the music playing on Matsujun's laptop, it's a song from their early debut days that he has forgotten the title of. He thinks of the many songs that he knows the melody of but fails to recall the title and then belatedly hears the opening of the door, that's when their leader finally arrives.

Aiba directs his gaze to him and immediately notices how he looks alarmingly small. It isn't even because leader is standing beside him or Matsujun that makes him look small, it's just himself in his a size too big attire and vulnerable-looking physique and it worries Aiba to no end.

"Leader, I've been waiting!" Aiba tries and succeeds on getting Ohno's attention first before he can sink himself on his spot on the couch. He gestures for the older to come to him when Ohno responds with a look. "Come here, sit with me."

"What is it?" Ohno asks faintly, his feet already bringing him closer to where Aiba is sitting. He glances at the box in Aiba's possession and without another word, sits across from him.

In one swift movement, Aiba opens the box to reveal two identical slices of chocolate mousse dessert that are embellished with raspberry and gold flakes. He put the first slice in front of Ohno, offers him a plastic dessert spoon and gives him a grin. "Someone donated it to the Sweets Club, let's eat it before filming starts."

Ohno accepts the spoon, but he looks so obviously hesitant to dig in, which causes another wave of worry to befall Aiba. At once, he adds when their leader seems ready to refuse, "Come on, buchou, let's eat. Mr. Good Samarithan will be pleased to know that we enjoyed it."

Ohno casts him another tentative look, but Aiba is beaming so widely and so expectantly, so he shrugs and eventually digs in after saying his thanks. Aiba only has to wait for a few seconds before he hears the foreseeable cry of "So rich~~" when the delicious taste of chocolate has reached their leader's taste bud. Aiba smiles, takes a bite of his own, and joins Ohno in moaning and singing out words of pleasure. When he sees Nino sighs in relief as he watches Ohno with fondness and affection, Aiba smiles some more.

The first part of his task is completed with triumphant result—he has made Ohno eat the dessert. Now, he just has to make sure that their leader finishes it, which is coming across as quite difficult because Ohno only eats a little to begin with and considering his hesitance earlier, it seems like he isn't particularly craving for sweets today so it may not be long until he decides that he has had enough. Aiba has to distract him before that happens.

Once again, there's a music playing from Matsujun's laptop and its melody fills the room. Aiba soon realizes that the song is 'Miles Away' and he searches for the folder of memories that's tucked neatly on the drawer of his mind. He believes that this is one of the most memorable songs they have ever created because it's different from the usual genre and flavor of their singles and title tracks.

This song is the one where Arashi shows off their power vocals and fans have described it as eargasmic. This is also the song that Ohno Satoshi had supervised.

Aiba remembers that during the time they recorded it, Ohno had stated all his fixations on how he wanted the song to turn out as he insisted on the designation of the parts, despite some protesting claims from the other members that he should have the most lines. Ohno didn't hear any of it, he had been stubborn like that.

Ohno wasn't especially great in supervising, even if he is the best singer in Arashi and one of the best in Johnny's, he uses his instinct and natural talent to carry out his performances and execute his aptness, that's why he didn't know how to direct them exactly what to do to produce results nearly as good as his, he could only show them and guide them. Aiba remembers that he had a bit of a hard time hitting those notes and had thought that he would disappoint their leader for the not-so-good results, but Ohno was there all through out the recording process, warmly watching over them and patiently helping them when needed.

He also remembers how Ohno had hinted that he has a very high opinion of the Arashi members, not including himself. He had wanted to brandish their singing abilities and get acknowledged for being more than just face and humor. He had believed that all his members possessed skills and potentials with a caliber similar to his own, like the five of them are equal to each other, even though Aiba has always known that their leader is, was, and will always be a level higher than them. Still, Ohno had so much trust in them and was so confident that the four of them could slay the song. He was never strict too, he had taken what they could give him and then filled the spaces that they couldn't, just like how he always covers the missing parts that make up Arashi without even giving credit to himself.

Aiba remembers as well and as vividly that after the song was completed, all of them were very satisfied, although probably not as much as Ohno whose eyes were twinkling with pride upon hearing the melodious harmony of their voices. Leader, while grinning so endearingly, had said that he liked it, as expected, Arashi is amazing and the four of them are the best.

Aiba takes another bite of his cake and lets out a hum, only vaguely recalling that he still needs to make sure Ohno will continue to eat. When he meets their leader's gaze, however, Aiba sees an uncertain smile forming his lips and somehow he can tell that the other is communicating without words. Aiba glances at the cake to find it gone already, but Ohno doesn't look remarkably contented, as if he has only forced himself to finish the dessert so Aiba won't need to have a hard time. Maybe he knows, maybe he's aware, after all, of how the other members are worried sick for him and in return, he also tries his best to ease their concerns.

Of course Ohno knows, Aiba wants to smack himself for even doubting that he doesn't. Their leader cares for the members as much as the members care for him, they're all just so awkward that they can't be straightforward about it. It comes to Aiba then, that if there's something that he can do, it's to be someone that they aren't.

"Leader, you're the best. You will always be the best," he says solemnly enough to indicate how much it holds a lot of his, their, sentiments and loudly enough so that the other three can hear it too.

Ohno stares at him in surprise and then suddenly his face has brightened and he doesn't look so sleepy anymore, a sign that Aiba reads as him taking the message. Aiba smiles widely even as Ohno comments, "Aiba-chan, you're weird."

Later, in the middle of the filming, Aiba feels a surge of fulfillment and gladness when he hears Ohno laugh so merrily and so gleefully that even their guest has noticed and commented about it saying he feels the most satisfied upon hearing Ohno-kun laugh like he's having so much fun. They are all grateful that Sato Jiro guested on their program and made their leader laugh like that.

And then after that, he feels even more accomplished and happy when Nino, Matsujun and Sho-chan all give him a pat in the back and congratulate him for a job well done.