Nino finds Ohno at the dressing room—alone and focused on getting his hair done.
There's still more than an hour before they are needed and Nino can't be more grateful with how right the timing and situation is. He slips into the room –quietly and unhurriedly, but not with any trace of hesitance– and approaches Ohno. He keeps his casual air in him, laid-back and unthinking as he sits beside the other even though deep inside, he can feel his nerves rattling just the tiny amount. It's been a while since he's truly felt nervous and it thrills him more than he likes to consider.
He stares at Ohno unashamedly, an act that is not foreign for the two of them, and watches how meticulously he moves his elegant fingers to set his locks in place. Leader's hairstyle never changes, but there's actually a minuscule, subtle difference with the way he parts it and tones it down to create some accent to it that Nino secretly takes note of. Today, however, there's something more important that Nino needs to put his attention to.
"Are you almost done?" Nino asks when Ohno finally chances him a glance, and even when he only receives a hum as a response, he chooses not to mind it. His gaze isn't averting away from the other, anyway, and he makes sure that it's heavy enough for Ohno to feel it.
A few quiet minutes have passed and Nino is still staring at Ohno. He isn't particularly bored of it, but his hands are searching for something to tend to and he's so tempted to put them on his leader's shoulder or nape, or just about any part of his body. He curls them on his lap and decides to speak instead, "What are you going to do after the end of this year?"
He waits for Ohno to absorb the question, eyeing every part of his face just so he won't miss a single reaction that will show through his expression. But as expected, his leader's expression doesn't change much except for the slight pout his lips do which signifies that he's thinking about it.
"I'd like for us five to go drinking," Ohno answers in a murmur, his voice low and a bit raspy from having been unused.
"Like what you said in Ohnomaru with Aiba?"
He receives a side-way glance from Ohno before he hears the soft whisper of 'Yeah'. It's then that Nino lets his hand land on his leader's shoulder to give him a light massage, just a very faint one as to not get in the way. He just can't help it, every time he hears the soft and unassertive voice of his leader and sees the unconfident image of him, he just feels a substantial urge to touch him. He convinces himself that it's purely an act to comfort his leader and protect him from his insecurities, but it's getting hard even for himself to believe that nowadays. Perhaps he's the one who has an unquestionable and tremendous need to always be in contact with him.
Nino feels encouraged to plant his palm at the back of his leader's nape when there isn't any objection and resistance. This isn't unfamiliar for the both of them anymore, probably why Ohno doesn't even react to it, but they are also both aware that it isn't merely a habit, it holds a certain implication that doesn't have to be voiced out.
"What about after that?" he questions. His gaze is going back and forth from Ohno's shoulder to Ohno's face, so it doesn't pass to him when his leader's eyebrows crease and his pout becomes visible again.
Ohno blinks, his hand momentarily stopping, and stares at his reflection from the mirror. "I don't know yet."
Nino doesn't speak for a while and simply lets the silence to linger. He presses his fingers at the knots on his leader's shoulder in an attempt to loosen the tension there, then he presses his thumb at the exposed skin. It feels warm, everything about Ohno feels warm and Nino revels on it.
There's a lot of things that he wants to tell him, including all the affections that come with it, but he can't say them so lightly and so inconsiderately. He knows that his leader has been sinking himself into deep thinking about all sorts of things. He's been through a lot and he's still contemplating and reflecting even now. As much as possible, Nino wants to be an aid to him, a steady and strong foundation that he can lean on—always waiting, always willing.
That said, Nino picks up an unequivocal restlessness and uneasiness when he thinks that Ohno doesn't actually need him. He's always believed that Arashi's leader is having the most fun when he's alone, and then there's this desire to go to an uninhabited island that has come from the man, himself. Nino worries that he'll just disappear from them—from him, and he's admittedly alarmed that he may not be able to get in touch with him.
After all these twenty plus years of being together, he doesn't even want to consider a future without Ohno Satoshi in it.
"You're not going to an island where no one is around, are you?" Nino eventually asks, there's a sudden thickness that laces his voice from being anxious. He swallows it along with the lump that has formed in his throat.
Ohno lets out a snort, his eyes crinkling the tiniest bit on the edge. "I won't be able to use Ohnomaru anymore."
It seems like he fails to catch the extent of how serious Nino is, but he lets it pass. Instead, he talks again. Although this time, his tone isn't wavering anymore and his stance becomes humorless and too solemn that it almost sounds desperate. "Don't go off some place where we can't contact you."
'Don't disappear on me' is hanging at the tip of his tongue, but he rolls it back. Subsequently, he regains his casual composure as if there's a huge load on his shoulder that has been taken off now that he's said that. His fingers continue their random wanderings against Ohno's shoulder. He feels lighter now.
On the other hand, Ohno stops moving his hands again and this time, he puts them down on his lap with the hairbrush secured on his fingers. He appears to be lost in thought as he eyes nothing in particular. Nino gives him a soothing rub in the back.
"I won't do that," Ohno says after a while. He displays all his mannerisms that never fail to make him look adorable regardless of his age, like biting on his lower lip, puffing out his cheeks a bit and slipping the tip of his tongue out to wet his lips (all these never fail to make Nino squeal inside as well), and adds, "Even when I go somewhere, I'll make sure you can contact me and I'll come back to you."
Nino feels his lips extending into a smile and sees Ohno looking at him with an expression that's almost imploring, like he's pleading for Nino to believe his words. He doesn't have any reason to do that though, for Nino trusts him plenty enough and his words are actually within the bounds of possibility. Besides, Nino is simply too delighted just to hear that from him.
He retracts his hands from his leader's nape, takes out the small item from his pocket and places it at the table in front of them where the tools and cosmetic products are lined up. When Ohno sees it, he concludes that Nino has accepted his earlier answer and they're ready to move on, so he goes back to finishing his hair up as he speaks, "What's that?"
"You can tell by looking, can't you?"
"Open it, then."
"But I need to finish setting up my hair."
Nino fights the urge to roll his eyes. He is certain Ohno is just messing around with him by acting innocent and being stubborn about it, but a look at his face makes him wonder if he truthfully doesn't know what it is. He isn't showing even a hint of recognition and his expression isn't at all free from naiveté and confusion. Nevertheless, he resolves to proceed with it.
"Fine, I'll tell you what it is." His scrutiny has never left Ohno since earlier, but now, he concentrates on observing even the slightest shift from Ohno's expression—from the movement of his muscles up to the passing of his every single breath.
"This is a box."
Ohno simply nods, wheedling him to go on.
"It contains a ring."
He receives another nod, just a minimal tilting of his chin.
"I'm giving it to you."
Another nod, it isn't even accompanied with a glance or a peek.
Nino swallows another small lump that suddenly forms in his throat and gives Ohno his best genuine smile. "And I'm asking you to marry me."
Fortunately, that has made Ohno give his full attention to him. If he still doesn't react even after that, Nino just won't know what to do.
His leader sends him a look, seeming all shocked and doubtful with Nino's statement. He waits for him to say some more, but Nino also waits for his verbal reaction, thus he shuts his mouth.
There's a significant pause that stretches as they both anticipate for each other to speak, say something, and just address that whole proposal thing, but when it appears that Nino is determined to stay quiet, Ohno opens his mouth to express his thoughts. "You're serious."
"Why do you think I'm dressed like this?" Nino stands straight and lets his outfit be seen. He's been enduring the awkwardness and inconvenience of it the moment he has worn it, but it's probably only now that Ohno has taken a notice of it.
Ohno rises from his seat too and gives him a closer inspection. He allows a tiny 'oh' of surprise as he sees what Nino is referring to. "You're in suit."
"And tie," Nino adds while readjusting the said cloth. He smiles dashingly without breaking their eye-contact.
His leader slowly blinks at him, then he regards him inquiringly. "Isn't it because Takeuchi Yūko is on today's guest team?"
Nino's eyebrows raise at his unexpected assumption. "No, she's not, and even if she is, I won't do it for the second time," he says without another thought and doesn't allow it to tarry and throw them out of track. "So?"
"Ah," Ohno says when he remembers. He licks his lips and bites the bottom one while he seems to ponder on things and racks his brains for a reply. He casts a look at the small box still placed at the table, then gives Nino a pensive one until his expression turns from brooding to distress and really, it sends rivulets of panic through Nino's whole being. "Nino, I'm not a woman."
Nino wets his lips as well, just to give himself time to ruminate on it. It's a fact that his leader likes to be simple-minded and uncomplicated, but it isn't all the time. On rare times like this, he can muse on one thing over and over again until it becomes a web of thoughts that he can't help but infiltrate, and then he jumps to conclusions on his own which, most of the time, are unfavorable for him all because he has a tendency to self-deprecate.
"I know that and I'm not trying to make you one by proposing to you," he says in a heartbeat, leaving Ohno no time to overthink any further.
"Then why do you want me to marry you?"
"I want to make sure you'll come back to me wherever you go."
Ohno tilts his head and lets his gaze wander somewhere above, just like he always does when he's trying to remember something. "Didn't I just promise you that?"
"I want a reassurance," he responds in a tone that compels Ohno to look back at him. When their gazes meet again, he feels serene.
He hesitates, rethinks of his reply and how to make it sound less cheesy, and then deems it okay to simply say it with pride and exactly how he means it. "And because I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
Appearing to be satisfied, Ohno beams that overly cute smile of his where his eyes will crinkle and his lips will stretch in a broad grin. "Okay, ask me now."
They have about less than thirty minutes to spare, Ohno's hair is still ten percent from being done and Nino is still dressed in his suit and tie that are actually the ones from Kimura-kun, but right at this moment, all Nino cares about is the pounding of his heart as he sees the calm and peaceful smile Ohno is granting him. It's quite strange that his leader is the epitome of serenity yet he makes Nino's heart go crazy with elation and eagerness.
"Satoshi, will you marry me?"
Ohno beams at him again and says, "Yes."
After a moment of just staring at each other's eyes, Nino picks up the velvety box, opens it to reveal a white gold band that's prettified by subtle engraving and a tiny diamond stone that looks like it's imprinted within the ring and is only visible by its glint. He takes hold of Ohno's hand and with so much gentleness and precision, puts the ring on. He admires how it fits perfectly on his leader's ring finger and how it suits his graceful hand so nicely.
"Do I have to wear this all the time?" Ohno asks. He, too, is marveling at the great compatibility that he thinks he's lost in wearing accessories.
"If possible, yes. This can ward off some pests." When Ohno hums at him questioningly, he only smiles and carries on, "It suits you."
As their VS Arashi filming starts, it comes as a great surprise that Takeuchi Yūko is actually their plus one guest as she is promoting her upcoming movie. Nino still acts like a loyal fanboy that he is, but compared to that, he feels undoubtedly happier every time he catches the glimmer and shine of the ring that's adorning Ohno's finger.
He is blissfully looking forward to their future together.