ArashiForYou (arashiforyou) wrote,

Play By Heart

Title: Play By Heart
By: arashiforyou
Genre: Romance/ Drama/ Angst/ AU/ Music
Rating: R
Pairings: Sakumiya (main)/ Jun x Kiko Mizuhara/ Aiba x Yuka/ Ohno x Minami Hinase (broken)
Summary: Nino is an autistic savant and a brilliant violinist. The only hard part for him and his sister, who takes care of him, is finding a consistent and patient piano accompanist for Nino's solo performances. One day, Nino's sister finds Sakurai Sho, a man with a mysterious past but gifted in music. Together, the two musicians must learn to communicate with other, live with each other, and possible love each other.
Warnings: It's rated R for: sensual scenes (softporn), parenting struggles, sexual assault, divorce, character deaths, and mental disorders/illnesses.

Music reference: Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No.2 (Adagio Sostenuto)

Chapter 9 - Mesto

In the three months since Nino found out about Sachi's death, the once genius violinist has not picked up his instrument. Nino has regressed into a deep depression, and Sho had no other choice but to look after him. Sho had hoped the memorial service helped bring closure for the violinist, but Nino never set foot in the practice room.

Sho was also bombarded with new responsibilities after Sachi's passing. Suddenly, phone calls would ring almost every day giving Nino their condolences while still asking for a concert. Sho became a manager overnight, and the stress was killing him. Sho ended up rejecting any requests saying that Nino was in no condition to play his violin. Which was basically the truth.

At first, it was bearable. Nino would wake up, take showers, eat his meals, and go to sleep. But the man never uttered a word nor play his usual morning scales practice or his one o'clock rehearsals. Sho tried to lure Nino out of his room by playing the piano as loudly and as soulful as he could, but Nino hardly left his room.

As time went by, Nino's depression slumped even further. The man wouldn't get out of bed—he had to be told by Sho to take his daily showers and baths. And Nino barely touched his plate except nibble a few pieces of food. The bags under Nino's eyes grew larger. Sho noticed every morning how red Nino's eyes were, possibly from late night crying, and the pity sunk deeper in Sho's stomach.

And now here they were. Three months later, and Sho was spoon-feeding Nino. At least Nino was still able to go to the bathroom by himself, but his movements have become so slow. Sho would go by through a whole the day without seeing Nino leave his room except for dinner hours—the only time Nino ever made an appearance. The house has grown quiet without any music. The only sounds came from the television at night with nothing else to do, or the sizzling of Sho's cooking. He had gotten better, and Sho tried to make healthier meals to boost Nino's strength. He even called Nino's doctor to make a home visit.

But Aiba sighed heavily when he exited Nino's bedroom. "There is only so much I can do for him. I'll write up a prescription and have it mailed here."

Sho bowed his head with gratitude. "Thank you, Doctor. It''ll be more than enough."

As Sho walked with him to the front door, Aiba gave him a skeptical look. "Tell me, Sakurai. What made you decided to stay by Nino's side for so long? I mean no offense, but Nino's needs are far beyond anyone can handle that isn't family. Why are you still here with him?"

Sho paused in his footsteps, staring down at the hardwood floor with a sullen expression. "I've wondered that myself, Doctor. Why am I still here with him? I was only hired to be his accompanist, never his caretaker. And now I have to handle all of the bills, cook his meals, do his laundry, and manage his music career." Then, Sho raised his head. "But I think it's more than that."

Aiba blinked at him. "Oh?"

When Nino's depression was at an all-time low, Sho would check up on him at night. But before he could open the door, Sho already heard Nino's sobs through the door. The man never cried in front of Sho, but Nino never hid his grieving expression.

"I know he doesn't say it in words," Sho sighed, "but he needs me. And I have nowhere else to go myself. I can't just...leave him."

When he glanced at Aiba, the doctor smiled warmly at him. "Sachi made the right decision in hiring you."


Aiba lightly shook his head. "Never mind. If there's any updates on Nino's condition, call me."

"O-of course," Sho nodded, and Aiba walked out the front door.

Sho let out a long and tired sigh before he went back to check Nino. Truth be told, after the first month since Sachi's death, a part of Sho wanted to run away from this responsibility and never look back. But the stronger half made him stay. It was just as his mother told him—one day someone will need him and thank him for it. But it wasn't so much the gratitude that Sho was after. Ever since he heard Nino's work up close, Sho's goal was to bring Nino back to his feet and play the violin again. Music was Nino's functional method, and it affects everyone.

Even Nino's simple piano playing back at the hospital brought smiles to all the children. Though he wasn't an expert on the piano yet, Nino's music captivated people of all ages. The concert was coming soon, and Sho didn't want the poor children to be disappointed. He has to get Nino back into shape again...he just wasn't sure how...

Sho knocked on Nino's bedroom door. "Nino? I'm coming in."

When he opened the door, Nino was still lying on his side with the blankets covering him. It has been a while since Sho last entered Nino's room, and there was a distinct odorous smell in the air.

Sho sat down besides Nino on the bed and uttered softly. "Nino, how about take a bath?"


"I'll wash your blankets while you soak up," Sho said. "We need to wash them."


"I'll go draw your bath," Sho said, and left Nino's room.

He turned on the faucet and felt the water until it turned warm, then he plugged the drain to let the water fill the tub. Sho folded a fresh towel on the rack and set clean clothes for Nino to change into on the side. When the tub was full, Sho turned off the water and poured soothing bath soap into the tub. After a quick swirl with his arm, the water turned into a white opaque liquid. Sho returned to Nino's room to find him still lying in his bed.

"Your bath is ready," Sho said.

Nino made the slightest sound, but he didn't budge. Sho pinched the bridge of his nose before he slowly pulled the covers away. Nino's hair was a tangled mess, and Sho noticed Nino haven't changed his clothes in nearly a week. Nino finally sat up and swung his legs over the edge of his bed—his eyes cast down and his head bowed low.

Despite Nino's sweaty clothes, Sho wrapped his arm around Nino and hoisted him up. Nino didn't seem to mind the touch, and he allowed Sho to lead him towards the bathroom. Sho set him down on the toilet seat cover and closed the door behind him.

"I hope he'll do alright in there," Sho mumbled and headed back to Nino's room to do the laundry.

An hour went by and Nino never left the bathroom. Sho was just about to make dinner when he decided to knock on the bathroom door.

"Nino?" Sho called through the wooden door. "Are you finished with you bath?"


"Is everything alright?"

Still, no reply. For a fearful second, Sho wondered if Nino got hold of a razor or drowned. Not wanting to overreact, Sho slowly opened the door and peeked inside. He didn't find any blood in the water, nor was there a suicidal Nino. In fact, Nino remained where he sat since Sho left him: on the toilet seat. The steam from the hot tub was long gone, and the soap slowly swirled in the center as the only opaque area. The towel was still dry, and Nino still wore his dirty clothes.

Sho dipped his hand into the water. It was already lukewarm. Sho didn't hide his tired sigh and plunged his arm into the tub to pull the plug. The water slowly drained away as Sho stood there staring down at Nino.

The violinist did nothing but stare at the tiled floor with the most dejected face. Sho squatted down to his knees, hoping to make some eye contact, but Nino glanced away. So he reached out and took Nino's hand.

"Nino, need to wash up," Sho pleaded. " can still shower for yourself, right?"


Sho bit his lip before standing back up and rubbing his face with exhaustion. He couldn't keep ignoring it forever, but Sho hoped it didn't come to this. Nino's slow mobility has reached rock bottom, and Sho saw no other options...

When the tub was fully drained, Sho pulled the shower curtains and turned on the shower head instead. While he waited for the hot water, Sho turned to face back at Nino. The man did not reject Sho's touch as the pianist pulled Nino to his feet. Sho took a deep breath and turned Nino around so he only saw the man's back.

Sho grabbed the hem of Nino's shirt and slowly pulled it up. Nino complied by lifting his arms up, and Sho was able to remove the shirt over Nino's head. Sho's heart accelerated fast and pounded hard against his chest. Nino's skin was still pale as their last physical encounter. The heat rose to Sho's cheeks as he tucked his thumbs under Nino's sweatpants and slid them down.

Nino lifted his foot from each leg hole, and Sho balled up the pants into the laundry basket. It was only Nino's back, just a regular man's body, but Sho's eyes couldn't stop wandering. It reeked with sweat, and there was thin layer of grease, but Nino's skin was so clear. His thin arms and thighs made Sho swallow nervously. But Sho didn't dare take a peek at what's in front...

Sho pulled his own shirt over his head and removed his pants and underwear. From behind, he guided Nino to enter the shower. The warm water cascaded down their bodies, and the steam rose to the ceiling. Nino's hair became flat against the pouring water, and Sho pushed back his wet hair to see.

He started with the shampoo and combed through Nino's hair delicately with his fingers. He placed one hand over Nino's eyes as he gently pushed Nino's head towards the pouring water. The soap spilled down Nino's neck and torso, and the scent of the shampoo reached Sho's nose. The pianist bit his lip to stop himself from sniffing closer at Nino's hair.

He then reached for his body wash, but it was nearly empty—Sho made a mental note to make another trip to the store. Sho searched through the number of bottles in the shower rack—he made another mental note to throw out the trash. Finally, he found one pink bottle in the back and poured a reasonable amount onto the body scrub. He quickly worked up a foam and brought the scrub to Nino's back. Sho made slow circles along Nino's back and shoulders. Under the water, Nino's skin felt ten times softer. As Sho's hand slid along Nino's arm to wash away to soap, the hurricane of butterflies fluttered in Sho's stomach.

Sho kept his eyes closed as he reached his arm around to wash Nino's collarbone and chest. The violinist stood perfectly still, never protesting and never reacting. A part of Sho wanted Nino to give some response, but the man was too deep in his depression to notice Sho bringing the body scrub lower to his belly.

Sho paused right below Nino's navel. He gulped loudly, but he didn't advanced forward. He couldn't work up the nerve, and the risk of losing his control was too great. Nino's skin felt so good under his fingertips, Sho could almost picture the bed sheets...

Instead, he let the water wash away the remaining soap on the scrub, and it flowed down Nino's legs. Finally, Sho turned off the water and pulled the curtains back. Nino stepped out the tub and waited as Sho got the towel from behind. Sho wrapped the thick towel over Nino's shoulders and rubbed the man dry. Sho tried to dry Nino fast when he got down to the man's legs; he still avoided Nino's pelvic area. Not once did Nino saw Sho's front, and it was only respectful if Sho didn't see Nino's either.

The flustered pianist wrapped the towel around Nino's waist. Sho quickly grabbed a spare towel and hastily rubbed himself dry before covering himself. Finally, he turned Nino around so they faced each other.

"You can put your own clothes on, right?" Sho asked.

Nino's eyes were more focused on Sho's chest, but the man finally nodded.

Sho made a satisfied nod and swallowed once again. "Good."

He took their dirty clothes away just in case Nino picked them again, and he walked out the bathroom. Sho pressed his back against the cool wall, covering his mouth with his hand. His heartbeat was still pounding like crazy, and he felt the blood rushing towards his groin. Sho scrunched his eyes shut and lightly pounded his forehead just to make himself calm down.

Dinner was awkward. There was always silence between them ever since Sachi's death, but this silence was different. Somehow, Nino's movements appeared more precise and conscious. The man's eyes would glance across the table where Sho's hands lay before staring down at his food again. Nino still ate in small bites, but at least the man ate more than before. Nino didn't bother to stay in the living to watch television. Instead, he retreated to his bedroom. But Sho didn't follow. He, too, returned to his now permanent bedroom and decided to sleep in early.

He was about to fall asleep when he heard his door creak open.

Sho raised his head with slightly sleepy eyes. "Nino?"

The violinist stood at his doorway, timid like a little boy, in a clean gray sweatpants and a white T-shirt. Sho sat up, more awake, and wondering if he was dreaming again. But it was very much real. Sho was thankful at least Nino was fully clothed. Nino slowly walked up to Sho's bed and crawled next to him.


The violinist snuggled himself comfortable next to Sho with his eyes closed. But even in the dark, Sho saw tears leaking out from the corners of Nino's eyes.

"Sachi..." Nino moaned. "Sho...smells like Sachi."

Sho blinked and watched Nino let out more gasping sobs into Sho's pillow. Then, it clicked in Sho's brain. The pink bottle from the shower. He had used Sachi's old body wash for Nino. The smell must have brought back memories of his sister again. Sho wasn't sure if this was a mistake or a new step forward. Nino continued to cry quietly next to him, and Sho finally ease down next to him.

He brought his arm around Nino's shoulder and pulled the man close to his chest. Nino didn't protest from the closeness, and Sho gently rubbed Nino's back. He closed his eyes and hummed a simple lullaby. Hopefully, he could lull Nino to sleep.

And he did.


Aiba stared down at his reports for the longest minutes. He couldn't focus on his work or any of his daily routine; his mind was completely a void. He found himself thinking about Nino and Sachi instead. When he confirmed to the police who was Sachi's family, his mind and body became completely numb. Only afterward when he was alone in his office did the grief and devastation settled in. And the home visit didn't relieve the negativity in Aiba's heart either. Nino was in terrible shape, and the dreaded feeling of uselessness came back into Aiba's mind. If this keeps up, Nino might not be able to play for the charity concert. Nino might even cancel it...

Someone knocked on his door. "Doctor Aiba? Chiaki is here."

Aiba took a deep breath and patted his face. "Okay, send them in." A few minutes later, Chiaki entered his office in her custom wheelchair. Her mother followed after her, quiet and timid as ever. He never failed to greet his patients with a smile. "Hello, Chiaki. It's good to see you."

"It's good to see you too, Aiba," Chiaki said honestly, looking a little tired. "Thank you for recommending me this wheelchair."

Aiba nodded his head. "No problem, Chiaki. How is it doing for you?"

"It's really great," Chiaki said. "I can move faster in it. My classmates help me without me asking. But it's always more fun when my friends push me to go faster."

"That sounds like fun," Aiba chuckled. "I'm glad your friends are helping you out."

They carried on with their counseling session. Surprisingly, Chiaki was taking her disease very well. Aiba still question why children are more accepting of their diseases more so than adults. It always pained Aiba to see children more appreciative of life at such a young age because he heard stories from his wife. Secretly, they cry at night...

"Aiba, I have to tell you something," Chiaki said, her eyes brightened with a little more energy. "I've finally found it! I have a new dream!"

He gasped out loud, overly expressing his excitement. "That's great, Chiaki! What is it?"

"I want to see Ninomiya's concert!" Chiaki smiled back. "My friend lend me her CD, and I love his music. I heard he's going to perform for this hospital. I can't wait to see it!"

Aiba didn't let his smile waver, but he definitely felt his heart sinking.

"I know the children can see the concert for free," Chiaki continued, "but I want to be different. My mom owns a bakery store, and I'm going to be a delivery girl for my neighbors. I'm going to work hard to submit my own donation for the concert. After all, I don't have a long time to live, I might as well help those who have a chance to live longer."

Aiba sucked in his lips to stop them from trembling, but his nose was already starting to burn. "Is that so? That sounds wonderful Chiaki."

"It's all thanks to Aiba," Chiaki said, earnestly. "You told to find a new dream, and now I'm going to work hard for it. You'll see. I'll attend Nino's concert as the highest contributor ever."

He couldn't ruin the moment. Chiaki and her mother were smiling so happily and savoring the precious moments they have left for each other. It took Aiba all his strength to make it through the session until Chiaki left his office. When he closed the door, the room was dead silent. He walked over to his desk where a pile of reports waited for him to complete. His eyes lingered on a particular flyer promoting the concert.

His smile was completely gone, and he angrily swept his arms across the table. The files scattered everywhere across the white tiled floor...


Jun made fake airplane noises with his lips, and his cute daughter laughed loudly with her mouth wide open. Jun took the opportunity to spoon-feed her the mushy baby food. Sachiko didn't seem to mind the taste but neither did she swallowed it. Sachiko squealed happily at Jun's funny noises, and the sweet potato mash dripped down her chin.

"Ah, ah, ah! Sachiko," Jun pouted, scooping the mess from her face. "This time close your mouth, okay? Aaaahhmmmm."

But baby Sachiko didn't close her mouth nor swallow down the soft food. Her head lolled to the side and gazed up at her loving father, but Jun gently titled her head into position.

"Come on, girl. Eat for me," Jun said and brought the spoon to her face. "Aaaah."

Sachiko opened her mouth for the food, and this time she closed her mouth around the tiny baby spoon. But some mash still spilled out from her mouth. Jun giggled at her silly face.

"Why won't you eat your food, you silly little girl?"

After a messy dinner, Jun washed her up and set her down on the diaper table. After he slipped on her baby pajamas, Jun noticed Sachiko flopped limp in his hands. Jun frowned slightly, but then Sachiko lifted her head as if nothing happened. It has only been a month since Kiko left, but Jun noticed subtle differences in Sachiko's behavior since she left the hospital.

Jun pushed the worry thought away and assumed it was nothing. He gently laid her down in her crib where she yawned deeply. He stroke her fine hair before leaning down to kiss her goodnight. It was going to be another late night since she fell asleep early, but it was all part of being a parent.

It was around two in the morning when Jun heard Sachiko crying. With tired eyes, Jun sat up and walked over towards Sachiko's crib. He lifted her up to change her diaper, but she kicked and waved only her left arm and leg. In fact, it almost appeared as if she could only move her left side.

"Hmm?" Jun blinked down at her. "Maybe she's having a fit for a wet diaper."

He cleaned her thoroughly before strapped on a fresh diaper, but Sachiko was still crying. Jun sighed heavily and tried to rock her back and forth in the middle of the dark room. He patted her back while calculating in his head the last time he fed her. But just when Jun was about to walk into the kitchen for Kiko's stored breast milk, Sachiko's cries subsided.

"Was it just the wet diaper?" Jun mumbled to himself.

After he set her down in her crib, he face-planted with exhaustion in his own pillow. Only three hours passed when Sachiko started crying again. Jun grumpily got up to cradle Sachiko again. He tried to feed her this time with the bottle, but the milk dripped down her chin and she continued to cry. Jun didn't want to drown her with the milk, so he set it aside.

"What's wrong, girl?" Jun sighed before a yawn escaped his lips.

Sachiko's head drooped to the side. Perhaps the baby mattress was too soft, and Jun settled her down on his own bed. He carefully secured her with a blanket so she wouldn't roll over or hurt her neck. He gently patted her tummy and tried to shush her from crying.

But Sachiko cried until the sun appeared...


Sho's lips pressed against Nino's neck, and he sucked down tightly on the soft pale skin. Nino whimpered in his arms and stroke along Sho's arms. Sho's heart pounded hard against his chest just by hearing the sounds Nino made, and his adrenaline gradually rushed through his body. He moaned as he passed his tongue over Nino's collarbone and down to his nipples where he lightly pinched it with his teeth.

Nino gave out a little cry, but the violinist gripped tightly onto Sho's hair. The pianist trailed his fingers down Nino's side and towards the man's thigh. Sho grinded himself against Nino's pelvic area while lapping over a hardened nipple. He felt something warm touched his chest and dripped down his abdomen. The smell reached his nose, and Sho breathed in deeply.

Sho drew away and wiped the white mess with his hands. He gazed down at a blushing Nino, and the pianist brought his daft messy hand to violinist's face. Nino took Sho's wet hand and licked his fingers, just like he did with the pudding. Sho felt an aching twitch in his groin just by watching Nino's tongue curl around his index finger. Sho let out a growl and crashed his lips hungrily against Nino's.


His eyes flew open.

He side-glanced at Nino who was standing beside his bed, fully clothed and freshly washed face.

Sho, however, felt hot and flushed. "N-nino?"

"...I'm hungry," Nino simply replied and left Sho's room.

The older man groaned out loud and rubbed his face. This was the second time he had a sex dream with Nino. Except this one was a lot more vivid. Sho could have sworn he felt Nino's body heat under him. He closed his eyes and tried to recall the scent and the taste, but all the senses seemed to vanish away. Only the vision remained vibrant in Sho's mind.

Dreaming of a flustered Nino would have brought a delightful and bashful grin to Sho's face, but not anymore. As the pianist slowly got up from bed, the shame and embarrassment wallowed up inside him. Although Sho admitted that Nino's body looks pleasing, harboring any personal feelings for the man would seem unprofessional; Sho was hired as a pianist and nothing else. As far as Sho could tell, the only person Nino ever loved was Sachi. Nino never mentioned a previous relationship nor expressed any affection to anyone. But then Sho recalled the secret men's magazine that Nino kept under his pillow...

After Sho splashed his face with water, he quickly whipped up breakfast for Nino. Ever since that one night when Nino slept next to Sho, the violinist finally showed some improvement. For one, Nino finally bathed and showered on his own properly, and he finished his plate. Nino was even talking more, and Sho was grateful. Although Sho suspected it was the medicine that Aiba prescribed, he was still pleased to see Nino was slowly getting better.

But the man still wouldn't touch his violin.

Sho sat alone in the piano room and practiced by himself. Nino still hasn't picked out the songs to play for the charity concert, but Sho continued playing just to keep his skills from getting rusty. While managing performance requests, food shopping, cleaning the house, and taking care of Nino, Sho used every chance he could get to play.

But despite the hectic days, Sho still wasn't sure he was doing enough to help Nino. Sho was doing more than being Nino's piano accompanist now, but the man still wouldn't play his most precious instrument. Even though the extra work did helped Sho keep his mind away from old memories, he wished he could do more for Nino.

Using the house phone, Sho called his mother for advice.

"Oh the poor dear," his mother sighed after hearing the full story. "Tell Nino I'm sorry for his lost."

"I will, but..." Sho leaned against the wall with his head bowed down, "I don't know...if I'm really helping him."

"What do you mean?"

"Cooking, cleaning, managing...they're all things I can mindlessly do now," Sho said. "I'm wondering if I'm the problem that he's not getting better. I'm not a replacement for Sachi, and I think he sees that. What if he doesn't want me around? I know he needs me, but...I don't know what else to do."

He heard his mother grumbled at him from the other end. "Frankly, my dear, I'm surprised you feel that way. You were always intelligent and honest. I don't think it's a matter of doing more but expressing yourself more."

Sho felt his heart thump a bit. "I've tried playing the piano with him but-"

"With your words, Sho," she said. "Tell Nino you are worried about him. Tell him you want him to play the violin again."

Sho nodded to himself. "I...I do want him to play again."

"Then there you go."

It seemed so simple, but it wasn't the easiest thing for Sho. He lack in telling his emotional feelings. And seeing that Nino does things on his own terms, telling him to play music again was out of the question. All Sho could do was playing the piano and the music pieces he knew by heart. His fingers danced across the keys, his mind repeating the same prayer. Play music again. Hear my song. Please come back to the violin. After a month of playing the piano alone, Nino finally entered the practice room.

Sho heard the floor creak behind him, and he glanced over his shoulder. "Nino?"

The man walked over towards his violin case and cracked it open. Sho held his breath as he watched Nino carefully picked up the violin and tucked it under his chin. Nino tightened the bow and brought it to his strings to fine tune. Sho smiled brightly as Nino walked up next to Sho. As expected, Nino communicates through music.

Neither of them said anything, but they both started playing the same piece together...


Two months have passed, and Sachiko seemed to cry more and more. Jun was at his wit's end with her, but he continued to cradle her and praying she'll stop. He had only been able to go to his restaurant three times since Kiko left; he couldn't bear to leave Sachiko even if his sister did offered to babysit her. Caring for Sachiko was now his responsibility and dedication, but Sachiko's cries just seemed to grow louder and sounded even worse.

To add to his stress, the air conditioner broke in the middle of summer. He fanned Sachiko as best as he could, and he took the blankets away at night. Thankfully, the technician came to fix. But in the time he waited, Jun suspected Sachiko caught a fever. At night, it was always the same: Sachiko cried, Jun changed her diaper, he tried feeding her, and Sachiko continued to cry. Gradually, Jun began eating less himself and drank more coffee just to keep up with Sachiko's night calls. Yet, his eyes weighed as heavy as a sack of rice, and his sagging frown might as well be permanent.

When the doorbell rang, an overwhelming sensation of relief crashed down on Jun the moment he saw his wife at the door.


Her eyes widened at the sight of him and a screaming Sachiko in his arms. But she smiled softly at him and teased. "My gosh! What have you done to my baby?!"

After dropping her bags, she easily scooped Sachiko into her arms and carried her back to their room. Jun leaned on the door frame and watched his wife magically rocked Sachiko to sleep. Something about watching Kiko smiling in the dark room with Sachiko's head resting on her shoulder made Jun's heart swell. It had never occurred to him how much he missed all three of them together; the past two months had been the most loneliness nights of his life.

Kiko hummed a sweet lullaby—probably composed by Nino—and placed Sachiko back into her crib. When Kiko drew her arms away from the baby rails, Jun roughly pulled her arm and pressed his lips onto hers. He could feel Kiko's lashes fluttering against his face, but he continued to breathe in deeply and wrapped his arms around Kiko's shoulders. He was so relieved that he wasn't alone in this. He was so glad he had Kiko with him.

When he pulled away, Kiko giggled a little. "I missed you too."

"I missed you more..."

Kiko chuckled before patting at Jun's chest. "You look like an absolute mess. Was she that bad?"

"I won't lie, she was a handful." He leaned down and brought his nose close to Kiko's neck. "Or maybe because you weren't by my side."

"I'm sorry I had to leave you," Kiko moaned affectionately and brought her arms around Jun's neck. They rocked back and forth as if they were having a little slow dance. "I promise I won't do something like that again. Why don't you wash up and rest up tonight? I'll be on night duty."

He shared with her one last kiss before he headed for the bathroom. At least the hot water was still working. If that had broken too, Jun might have cracked under the pressure. Now that Kiko was back, some stress had finally washed away along with the water falling down his body. When he got out of the shower, he patted himself dry and slipped on clean and comfy sweatpants.


His heart sank at the sheer volume of Kiko's scream. He raced down the hall and burst through the door. He saw Kiko holding Sachiko limp in her arms. Tears poured down Kiko's face, and her lip trembled as Jun tried to summarize the picture.

"S-she's...she's not breathing!" Kiko cried.

end of chapter
To Chapter 10 -

(well look at that! for once i dont have any author notes!) XD


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