Title: Today of all Days
Rating: PG-13. Mentions of oral sex, but nothing explicit.
Word count: 18,500
Summary: Aiba goes time travelling. Aiba goes time travelling.
Notes: Here is my je_holiday fic for toinkydoink! Here is the original post. If you've been frequenting the community, you might have seen this really long and horrible note I left her as her Secret Santa, saying how I screwed up her original story (that was admittedly MUCH closer to her wish-list specifications) and wrote this instead and this one still didn't turn out according to plan -- kids, the lesson here is to make up your mind about what you want to write and use your time wisely. And get a good beta. I owe aeslis my life and sanity for her invaluable help with this fic at the wee hours of the morning. Thank you. ♥
Anyway, I would GREATLY recommend browsing the je_holiday community; the fics there are all omgiwanttodiethisissogood so if you're looking for a good fic-reading time, YOU'VE FOUND IT! I had a busy holiday season so I didn't get to read any fic besides my own gift-fic by maiaide (SPEAKING OF, piiiimp), so right now I'm slowly making my way through all the fic that has been written and I am seriously going crazy because they're all so wonderful, guys. *v*
rant rant rant rant OKAY! Shutting up now.
On Wednesday afternoon, Nino tells Aiba that he's figured out how to navigate the space-time continuum.
Aiba's first reaction is disbelief. "Whatever!" he says. "You did not, Nino."
But Nino just grins and casually pulls a shiny, silvery-blue cell phone out of his lab coat pocket. "Oh," he says, "but I did."
This is when things start to get complicated.
Wednesday, 8:31 am.
Something's ringing. Loudly. It's not stopping.
Aiba groggily pulls a hand out from underneath his bed covers and paws at his bedside counter until his palm slaps his phone. He puts the receiver to his ear. "Hello?"
"Hi, Aiba-chan," says Ohno's voice.
"Oh! Captain," Aiba says, startling awake a bit more. It's not often that Ohno calls anyone. Did something interesting happen? Aiba glances at his alarm clock: it's 8:32. He's planned to wake up at 9:00, but 8:30 is as good as time as any. "What's up? Am I supposed to be at work early today for a meeting?"
"No, I called to tell you that you can take the morning off," Ohno says. "We're trying to clear the lab for the final stage of an experiment."
Aiba pauses, one foot out of bed. "Is this for that new project you and Nino have been working on?" he asks excitedly. "Give me a hint about what it is, please! Nino won't tell me anything no matter how many times I ask."
"If the results are good, we can tell you this afternoon," Ohno says, and Aiba can hear him smiling. "Come by after lunch okay, Aiba-chan? Enjoy your morning off."
"Wait, Captain, you're sure it's okay? I can come help if you guys want." Aiba’s actually just eager to see this project of Ohno and Nino’s; they’ve been really good at keeping everything about it a secret.
"I just need to straighten some stuff out, and I don't want Aiba-chan to get mixed up with us at the wrong time," Ohno explains. "We -- Nino tested a lot of it already, so we know it works. There are just a few little things that are kind of weird right now..." his voice drifts away from the telephone speaker, and Aiba hears Nino in the background, saying something: hurry up Captain, or I'm gonna start without you. "Sorry Aiba-chan," Ohno says. "Have to get back to work. Don't come in before noon today, please! You need to be safe."
"I'm always safe!" Aiba laughs. "But okay; see you after lunch? Wait, what time exactly am I allowed to show up?"
"Yes, that sounds fine," Ohno says lightly. "Bye bye."
That didn't really answer his question, Aiba thinks. Well, that's fine, then Nino can't get mad at Aiba later for showing up late. If it had been Nino who’d called, he probably would have been all naggy about when and where Aiba was precisely not allowed to be present, but that was just like Nino: too busy obsessing over his newest project to care about much else.
Aiba debates for a while about what to do for his first free morning in what feels like years. He could go shopping! Or maybe golfing? He could visit his parents! Or... he could sleep? Aiba loves mornings, but he'd been up so late last night entering data into spreadsheets... just thinking about it brings about a jaw-popping yawn.
Sleep sounds the best right now. Aiba burrows under his covers again and closes his eyes, a tiny smile on his face. After some extra rest, he'll be bright and energetic for a productive afternoon at work -- plus, he'll finally get to see this Ohmiya project that’s been kept under wraps for so long. The day is looking to be a good one.
Wednesday, 10:40 am.
Something's ringing. The phone again?
"Hello?" Aiba rasps, picking up the call. Crap, crap, he's late for work -- is he late for work?
"Aiba-chan?" Sho's voice says.
"Oh," Aiba sighs with relief, only now remembering that Ohno had given him the morning off. "Hi, Sho-chan."
"Aiba, where are you right now?" Sho asks. Aiba sits up straighter, rubbing his palm across his eyes; Sho sounds uncertain about something.
"I'm at home, Sho-chan," he answers. "Captain called me this morning, you know? I think Nino kicked me out of his lab for today because he didn't want me to break things while he's testing his precious new invention."
Sho laughs. "Yeah, that sounds like something he'd do. So, er. How are you feeling today? You've been at home all morning?"
"I'm still in bed, even!" Aiba says, shaking his blankets for emphasis. Wait, Sho can't see that. "But I feel great, thanks."
"Okay," Sho says, with what feels like a little bit of bafflement in his tone. "Okay."
Now Aiba's worried. "Sho-chan, are you okay? Is something up?"
"No, no!" Sho rushes to say. "Of course not, I'm fine. I was just wondering where you were... since I didn't see you this morning. Sorry, I didn't know Satoshi-kun and Nino told you to stay at home. I think you can come to work now, though. The last I heard, the testing was finished."
Ah, well, Aiba thinks. The break had been nice while it lasted. "Okay, I'll grab some lunch and head there soon. Thanks Sho-chan."
"Yeah. Hey, listen Aiba," Sho says, sounding half distracted with something. "When you come in, can you meet me--" he pauses. "Actually, it's all right, don't worry about it. It's not urgent. I'll talk to you when you get into work later, is that okay?"
"Of course Sho-chan!" Aiba says, surprised. "You're sure you don't want to talk right now? I'm not doing anything and--"
Sho interrupts him. "No, I think it's probably better to talk about these things in person, so there's no chance of a misunderstanding. So... later, all right Aiba? I’d appreciate it."
"Sure Sho-chan," Aiba agrees. He hangs up feeling a bit weird. What was that all about? Well, no point harping on it -- he'll find out when he talks to Sho later. Aiba glances at his bedside clock again: it's a quarter to twelve. Seems like a good time to get up. Aiba jumps out of bed and dashes to the washroom. All of the sudden he's really excited to go to work. Well, Aiba's always excited to go to work; he loves his job and he loves his friends. He wonders if Nino had anything to do with Sho's phone call -- Nino had a lot to do with anything involving Sho. Actually, Nino had a lot to do with anything and everything involving Aiba, too, but that was expected since they'd known each other since their diaper years. Stupid Nino, not even giving Aiba any hints about what he'd been working nonstop on for the past few months. Well, it wasn't as if Aiba was dying from the curiousity or anything, but what if he was? How would Nino live with the guilt?
Aiba is trying valiantly not to set his expectations too high for this finished product, but even if the invention or experiment or whatever-it-was turns out to be a bit of a flub (and it wouldn't; this is Ohmiya Aiba's talking about, they made cannons out of cardboard tubes and gunpowder out of sparkles), it would be cool to finally have Nino free from the confines of the lab now that his project is finished. Aiba misses playing baseball and golf with him, even though Nino always makes Aiba treat him to lunch afterwards. But Aiba's glad to do that -- Nino's his best friend, after all.
Best friend, Aiba repeats, slapping his cheeks lightly. Just a friend. Right.
Wednesday, 12:46 pm.
The first person Aiba sees when he gets into the main laboratory building is Jun, who’s carrying a huge box of test tubes and an assortment of beakers, the glass jangling as he walks down the hall. Aiba grins and tiptoes up behind him.
"Don't you dare try to scare me," Jun snaps, when Aiba's no more than a foot away. "If you make me break a single one of these test tubes I will cut you with the shards."
"Aw, Matsujun's ears are too good," Aiba says, skipping up in front of Jun. "And I wasn't going to scare you. I was just going to tap you on the shoulder or something."
"I hate that too," Jun says. He glances suspiciously at Aiba's huge smile. "Well, you look energetic today. How much sugar did you have this morning?"
"None at all."
"I had some candy for lunch though."
"With some real food, I hope," Jun sighs.
"Some, yeah," Aiba agrees. "Are you going to the cleaning room?"
"Yeah. Sho-kun forgot to clean the apparatus this morning, so I'm doing it now."
"Sho-chan forgot?" Aiba asks. "That's funny. He's pretty serious about doing lab procedure in the exact order."
"Hm," Jun says. "To tell the truth, he's been a bit strange today. I don't know if something happened or not; he was fine when I first saw him this morning." He stops walking for a second and looks at Aiba. "You just got here, didn't you? You didn't come to work and then leave after a bit?"
Aiba shakes his head. "Nino and Oh-chan banned me the lab for the morning for classified physics experiments. Hey, actually, Sho-chan phoned me around eleven. Said there was something he wanted to talk to me about."
"Maybe it's something to do with that, then," Jun says, reaching the door of the cleaning room, where they house the machines designed to boil clean their glassware. "I'm probably worrying for nothing; it's not like he's forgetting himself enough to start mixing alkali metals with water." This is said with a pointed glance at Aiba.
"That was one time," Aiba complains.
"One time too many," Jun returns. "Get to work now, I'll see you later."
"Tell Sho-chan to come find me anytime, okay?" Aiba smiles. "When you go back to your lab."
Aiba opens the door for Jun and waves goodbye, then hurries to the lab he shares with Nino and Ohno. Well, more correctly, it's Nino and Ohno's lab -- Aiba has his own lab, but it's currently under reconstruction due to a chemical reaction gone a bit awry. Just because Aiba left his new electron laser on for self-sustained overnight testing didn’t mean that it was necessarily his laser that blew a huge hole in the middle of the vacuum chamber and melted a hole through three separate walls, but try convincing anyone else of that. Even Aiba admitted that the odds were not in his favour. But anyway, he had been temporarily relocated to another location while his own lab is being repaired. At first Nino had pretended to be pissed, saying he didn't want Aiba "encroaching on his and Oh-chan's pure, special, destiny-ridden love-love nest," but they had all adjusted fairly quickly; Nino even seemed to enjoy having another close friend there (or perhaps just another victim to abuse). It wasn't much of a surprise to Aiba, really, even though he studied material science and Nino and Ohno studied quantum mechanics. He and Nino had always gotten along well, minus the occasional instances when Nino's mouth had prompted Aiba's hand, and Ohno is, well, Ohno: okay with everything.
Aiba slams inside his lab with a cheerful, "Good afternoon!" and immediately deflates. There's no one inside.
"Nino?" Aiba calls to the empty room, as he hangs up his coat and bag. "Captain? I'm here now! You guys aren't still experimenting, are you?"
"Nope, I think we're done," Nino says. Aiba whips around. Nino and Ohno are sitting, side by side, on the counters by the sinks; Nino's grinning. Ohno waves.
"How did you get in here so quietly? Were you waiting for me to arrive or something?" Aiba laughs. "And what were you guys experimenting on all morning anyway?"
"Good questions, Aiba-san!" Nino states, jumping off the desk. "You really are a miracle boy, because all of your very valid inquiries can be solved by one simple answer!"
Nino nods. His eyes sparkle as he walks towards Aiba. "Guess who figured out how to navigate the space-time continuum."
Wednesday, 12:58 pm.
Aiba stares. Had he heard that correctly? He couldn't have, right? Time travel is impossible. Theoretically. Or so Aiba assumes. Aiba knows that Nino and Ohno have been really busy working on their project which had demanded lots of late nights, skipped lunch hours and lots of ignoring Aiba, and Aiba knows that Nino likes dabbling with general relativity theory, and Aiba knows that Ohno is actually a hidden genius who can create anything, and maybe if someone had to figure out the space-time continuum, it would be those two, but the point is that they wouldn’t. Time travel isn’t real, it’s a fun trick to use as a plot device in movies and short stories. So Nino saying he’s figured out time travel... it’s got to be a prank. Ooh, that makes sense.
"Whatever!" Aiba says, not falling for it. "You did not, Nino!"
But Nino's grin only grows wider and more devious. He reaches into the front pocket of his lab coat and extracts a new, silvery-blue cell phone. "Oh," he says. "but I did."
"That?" Aiba says, reaching for the cell phone just as Nino pulls it away. "Wait, let me see!"
"No way!" Nino cries, throwing his arm back. "You'd just break it. Do you have any idea how much effort we put into this project? And it's still just a prototype."
"Nino, you're so mean!" Aiba says. "You can't just tell me you've made a time machine and then not let me try it out! You know what, I don't believe you."
"Ugh, time machine is such a plebian term," Nino says, ignoring Aiba's attempt at reverse psychology. "Oh-chan, think of a better name before we patent this thing, okay?"
"Special Timer Cell Phone," Ohno suggests.
"Time Traveller Phone."
"You're not even trying!" Nino berates.
"GUYS, PLEASE LET ME TRY THE PHONE?" Aiba interrupts.
"You can try it all you want if you buy it," Nino tells him. "I'm hoping for... maybe thirty billion dollars? Does that sound reasonable? It's the invention of the millennium, isn't it. The invention of mankind. What's the maximum I can ask for and still be considered sane?" Aiba watches as Nino's eyes slowly gloss over at the thought of all the potential profit he might earn with his invention. Aiba doesn't have that kind of money; there are maybe a few coins in his wallet, if he's lucky.
"Can you at least show me how it works? Please?" Aiba asks, getting desperate now. He wants to see this, he needs to see this. Aiba has always had an overabundant amount of curiousity for trying new things and having time travel dangled in front of his face is like denying a starving man a smorgasbord of food, denying a bird of a sky to fly in, keeping a really, really, really trigger-happy man from any bullets for his gun -- wait, bad example. But the point still stands. "Nino, you have to show me,” Aiba insists. “I'll -- I'll do all your lab clean-up for the next month. Two months."
Nino narrows his eyes. "Hmm," he says. "You're not very good at cleaning though."
"I'll do it right," Aiba promises. "Matsujun-level clean."
"Aiba-chan is our friend," Ohno murmurs. "We should show him."
"Way to be mister spoilsport," Nino says, groaning. "I was just teasing. Here, Aiba, look." He flips open the cell’s flap, showing Aiba the screen and application icons. "You use the calendar function and the alarm function. You set it to go to a specific date, and then you either manually bring yourself back to the present, or you can set an alarm and have it automatically send you back after a certain amount of time has passed. You can use the stopwatch function to freeze time, and check the phone's internal clock to keep track of how long you've been active, since using clocks in the environment as reference is kind of beyond the point. And we really did a good job, because the technology takes into account everything that the user is touching, so like, clothes and underwear and glasses – even another person can travel with you – to an extent. We put in a mass limit, so you can’t go around transporting the ground or anything, but that’s more on the technical side of things. Any questions so f-- oh my God, you're glowing."
"I am not," Aiba denies. He looks at Ohno. "Am I?"
"You look rosy," Ohno says.
"I'm just excited!" Aiba protests, waving his hands. "No, it's fine, you don't have to start explaining the physics behind it or anything, but can we try it out? I want to see how it works!"
"We cannot try it out," Nino says firmly. "But I will. I'll go across the room, okay?" He types some digits into the number pad. "Watch me now. One second I'm here, right in front of you..." he presses a button, disappears. Aiba blinks.
"And now I'm over here," Nino finishes. He walks out from behind the stack of cardboard boxes that forms a pseudo-wall by the far side of the room, where they keep all their extra supplies.
For a moment, Aiba is dumbstruck. It's one thing to be told that your friend has accomplished time travel, but it's quite another to see the thing yourself. Or not see it, as the case may be. Aiba's head swivels back and forth from where Nino was standing not more than five seconds ago, to the back of the room, where Nino is standing now -- only he's not there anymore. Now he's suddenly in front of Aiba again, transported through thin air; Aiba hadn't even felt a breeze in the room, or any of those popping sounds favoured in movies and TV. Nino was just there, and now he's instantly somewhere else.
"Woaaaah," Aiba says, eyes huge. Nino laughs.
Wednesday, 1:20 pm.
"What part of no don't you get, Aiba," Nino says. "You can't navigate it. There's so much about time-space dynamics that you don't understand. I mean, if some random person just started to use it, he'd probably end up with copies of himself all over the place! Notice that there aren't like three of me in existence right now even though I jumped through space twice? That takes a lot of calibration!"
"No, that's because Nino froze time; he didn’t travel backwards or forwards," Ohno supplies.
"Whose side are you on, anyway!" Nino says, glaring at Ohno. "And it's not that simple." Ohno shrugs. "Anyway," Nino turns back to Aiba. "You're not trying it, end of story."
"Stop asking me that. I just spent the last ten minutes explaining why!"
"I'll jump you for it," Aiba says vehemently, stalking forward right up to Nino. Nino looks up at him, shocked. "Uh, no, I was joking," Aiba amends, taking a step back. Nino blinks dazedly.
Ohno sniggers. Nino jolts out of his stupor and smacks him on the head. "Be quiet!" He takes his phone and hurriedly stuffs it into Ohno's coat pocket. "There, you can't jump Captain for it, can you? You wouldn't do that. Oh-chan, protect that phone with your life."
"Fantastic," Nino says, eyes darting to the clock on the wall. "I have to go down to the office to fill in some forms for the patents. If I bring you along, what are the chances you're going to fall asleep on me halfway through?"
"Pretty high?" Ohno admits. Nino gives him a dubious look.
"Well, then keep yourself busy while I'm gone. Don't freeze time to go fishing."
"I won't go fishing," Ohno repeats dutifully.
"And you," Nino says, turning to Aiba. "Stop staring at Captain's pocket like a mad person or I'm going to report you for sexual harassment."
Aiba tears his eyes away from the cell phone shaped lump in Ohno's pocket. "Who's staring? I'm not staring."
"Right," Nino rolls his eyes and leaves the room. As soon as the door closes Aiba whirls to Ohno.
"Captain," he starts, in the sweetest voice he can muster.
"Nino's too stingy sometimes, huh," Ohno says mildly. "Always keeping things to himself."
"Yeah, he's a brat," Aiba agrees. "Captain, do you think I can--"
"He just wants Aiba-chan to be safe, you know," Ohno continues. "He knows you can be a little clumsy sometimes, and he doesn't want something dangerous to happen. And I think he wants to protect himself, too. Nino doesn't like to take risks. He's afraid of people getting hurt."
"Totally," Aiba nods emphatically. "So now that he's gone, do you think that I--"
"But he needs to trust you more, that's what I feel," Ohno finishes. "He'd be a lot happier in the end, that way. You think so too, right, Aiba-chan?"
"Um, I suppose?" Aiba does occasionally get sick of Nino ragging on Aiba for doing stupid things, but let's face it, Aiba doesn’t really have a reputation for getting things right the first time around.
Ohno nods. "I trust Nino and Aiba-chan both," he says, smiling at Aiba. "And I'm hungry, too," he adds abruptly, as if just realizing it. He checks his watch and hurries to the door, grabbing his bag hanging on the coat rack. "It's almost time, I should go buy some ramen or something," Aiba hears him mumbling to himself, as he quickly sheds his lab coat and throws on his jacket. In a few more seconds, he's shouting, "Be right back, Aiba-chan!" and is out the door.
But Aiba's still caught staring at Ohno's lab coat, swaying lightly from its hook. He’s focusing on the lump in the front pocket. The time machine phone.
Aiba nearly trips over himself rushing towards the coat rack. He reaches inside Ohno's coat and extracts his prize. The metal casing is cool and smooth under Aiba's fingertips and when Aiba flips open the phone, the keyboard shines clearly against a vibrant green backlight. Aiba can't believe Ohno forgot that it was in his lab coat before taking it off -- what is he saying, of course Aiba can believe that. It's Oh-chan, and he'd said he was hungry. There's not much else that can occupy Ohno's mind if he's thinking about food.
Which is great, really, because now Aiba has the phone.
Aiba feels himself smiling. This is going to be fun.
Wednesday, 1:34 pm.
After sneakily making sure that Nino really is downstairs in the administrative office like he'd said he would be, Aiba hurries back to the lab and makes sure that access to the room is cut off from all other people. Aiba doesn't want anyone (read: Nino) to know what he's about to do. The issue of time travel is a tricky one (the issue of getting caught time travelling, even trickier) and Aiba really doesn't want to make the universe collapse on itself or anything. Who knew what kind of weird stuff would happen if Aiba made one wrong move and accidentally changed the whole course of history? Maybe he'd end up transporting himself into alternate dimensions, like, one where they were all girls or something? What if they were all fish? What if they were all super-famous idol stars? No waaay, not if Aiba can help it. Well, being idols doesn’t sound so bad, actually. Hm, neither does being girls. Or fish, really. Okay the point is that if Aiba's sources (read: Hollywood) are correct about how these kind of things work, Aiba's got to be careful and no one who is not time travelling should know that he is time travelling. Darn right Aiba's watched all those blast-to-the-past movies. He knows how dangerous butterflies are.
He makes one last sweep around the room: door? Locked. Chair under doorknob? In place. Windows in walls? Blinds down. Office phone? Unplugged. Aiba's own cell phone? Off. First aid kit just in case? Right there. Fire extinguisher? Also there. Great!
Now he can have some fun.
"Okay," Aiba murmurs to himself. "Let's start off with something small."
He opens the stopwatch function and presses start. The numbers start running across the screen: milliseconds, seconds, no minutes or hours yet -- just like a normal cell phone. Nothing happens? Aiba presses pause. The numbers stop running. Aiba looks around; the room is exactly the same. Nothing happens!
Wait, no. The clock on the wall has stopped. It's at 1:36 pm and 23 seconds, and the second hand is no longer moving. Ohno's tiny fish tank sitting on a table in the corner of the room has been frozen like a photograph: the goldfish are completely motionless, caught in the middle of a tail flick, and the bubbles from the filter are paused in an amorphous shape, yet to break the surface of the water. Aiba walks up to the fish tank, gawking, then looks back at the clock. It's still at 23 seconds. He looks at the cell phone in his palm. Paused at 00:00:33:12. The number is blinking on the screen, ready to continue counting.
"Wow," Aiba says. "Neat."
Wednesday, 1:36 pm
Ten seconds have passed in real time. Within those ten seconds, Aiba has frozen time at five separate instances, for a total of approximately twelve minutes spent out of the normal time continuum. During those twelve minutes, he's lifted up books to leave them hanging in midair; he's run up and down the entire floor and stared at coworkers paused in midstep, in the middle of a blink, mouth half open to form a word; he's stuck his thumb underneath a faucet and stopped time to see thousands of tiny water droplets sprinkle the air...
He's already bored.
There's only so much amusement a person can get by seeing everything stop, after all, and there's so much more that this phone can do.
Aiba stares at the phone's screen, debating. He really shouldn't. He really, really, really shouldn't. Nino's got a point: it's one thing to freeze time and fool around within it, because even though it's sort of like he's changing the immediate future, it's not like he's rewriting history or anything. Unless Aiba goes around breaking into other people's houses and reading their dairies, he's not gaining any knowledge he wouldn't naturally know about. The affects of freezing time mainly just affect Aiba himself.
Travelling through time, however... that's different. Aiba can really, really, really screw things up if he travels through time. Anything he learns in the future, anything he touches in the past, that -- that could change things. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
Oh man, Aiba has to try it out.
It'd be such a waste, otherwise. It would be like buying a jeep only to drive on residential roads. Only using matches to light candles, when they could light up so many other things. Having a cupboard full of various liquids and never mixing them together. So much lost potential! And for what, to be safe? Aiba's safe! More than half the time, in fact.
The phone is right in Aiba's palm, light blinking temptingly at him. Try me, Aiba can hear it saying. Nino and Ohno made this function, so someone is going to have to use it eventually. Right, exactly! That’s perfectly true: the function is there to use.
Wait, Nino and Ohno had been doing experiments with the phone this morning, hadn’t they? If Aiba -- if Aiba goes back in time to this morning and watches Nino's experiments with the phone, it'd sort of be like learning more about the phone, wouldn't it? Not necessarily anything dangerous. And of course Aiba wouldn't let Nino or Ohno or anyone else see him. Aiba would only watch for a few seconds. A minute, at most. That's hardly anything. And as long as Aiba doesn't do anything while he's there, then he wouldn't be changing the past. How hard could it be? Aiba could hide in the broom closet and not let himself leave before the minute is up!
Right, that's decided then! Eager, Aiba rushes to the utilities closet near the back of the room, unlocks the door, and stuffs himself inside. Amidst the broom handles and pails and cleaning supplies, Aiba types in a random time from this morning into the calendar: 10:59 am (not early enough for lunch yet, so chances are that they’re working), and sets the phone's alarm to one minute exactly. He pulls the door closed.
In the dark, Aiba takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and presses start.
Wednesday, 10:59 am
Aiba opens his eyes. He's still in the dark. He's still in the broom closet. Well, he should have expected that -- it's not like the time machine is going to transport him to some random location, all it did was go back two and a half hours.
If it even worked. Aiba gently puts his hand on the doorknob and slowly turns it. It's doesn't move very far.
Oh. Right. That makes sense. The closet was locked to begin with. Aiba sighs. So much for that idea.
Someone outside moans really loudly.
Aiba freezes. What was that?
The person moans again. Aiba presses his ear to the door. Someone is moaning in the lab. Not just moaning. Panting. Groaning. As if -- almost like --
Oh my God, Aiba thinks. Someone is getting a blowjob. RIGHT IN THE LAB.
This... is amazing. Who is it? Who's getting head? Who is giving head?? Aiba had no idea these type of shenanigans went on (during normal day hours, no less!) at work -- and in Ohno and Nino's lab -- HOLY CRAP, IS IT OHNO AND NINO? Aiba swallows the sudden lump in his throat. It couldn't be, could it? Nino made stupid jokes all the time, but he didn't actually lo--he would have told Aiba if he did, right? They're best friends. So Nino would have told him --
No, Nino probably wouldn't have.
Aiba has never had a bigger desire to morph into the closet door in his life. This is hilarious and all, but Aiba also wants to know who's involved here. Now that he’s thought of Ohno and Nino, Aiba can’t get the possibility out of his mind. He wants to know if maybe people have been keeping more than inventions secret from him.
But on second thought, after a few seconds more of listening, the person getting blown doesn't really sound like Ohno... or Nino. The voice is too deep, the breaths too husky. The guy is whimpering more now, the tone long and drawn out, and really, if Aiba had to take a wild guess at who the voice belongs to, he'd say it belongs to... Sho.
Aiba stops breathing.
The cell phone in his hand beeps twice, and the alarm's countdown flickers to 00:00:00:00. Everything goes black.
Wednesday, 1:36 pm.
Aiba wrenches open the door to the closet and tumbles onto the floor, mops and gloves and extra lab coats falling down around him. He looks around in panic, but no one's here except for him. It's the afternoon again. The clock on the wall is ticking normally, 1:36. Everything's quiet except for the burbling of Ohno's fish tank and the hum of the building's ventilation system.
Aiba is trying very hard not to freak out right now.
Okay. Okay, so, it had been Sho. And... he’d been getting a blowjob. Aiba doesn’t know how to take that – no, of course he does. He’s seriously surprised. It was Sho-chan. Happy, silly, fun, dorky, handsome Sho-chan. Getting a blowjob at work. It. Um.
Aiba feels warm. He lifts the back of his hand to touch his forehead; he's sweating. And his heartbeat is just now beginning to calm down; Aiba hadn't noticed how fast it must have been racing while he'd been listening in to -- to -- he should sit down. No, he's already lying on the floor. Great. But he's still flustered. Is this some side effect to the time travel? Calm down, relax, Aiba tells himself. Get that image of naked Sho-chan out of your mind. That can only lead to awkward things. Oh geez, Aiba thinks, covering his face. Sho-chan would look so hot -- if Aiba had only seen it ---
Aiba sits up, eyes wide. If Sho-chan had been getting head in the lab, then who had been giving it to him?
He looks back at the cell phone in his hand, screen innocently bright, as if it’s keen for another command. Aiba shouldn't. He's already tried it now, it worked; his curiousity should be satisfied. Aiba should give the phone back to Ohno.
Aiba should really stop thinking of Sho with his pants down.
It's hard, though. Because -- and here's something that Aiba would never, ever admit aloud, not in a million years -- Aiba's always had a bit of a crush on Sho. No! Not a crush. Aiba isn't some lovesick teenage girl. And Aiba doesn’t pine after Sho. Aiba just... really likes Sho. Sho laughs at all of Aiba's jokes. Sho and Aiba go clothes shopping together. Sho recommends restaurants to Aiba (all of them ending up on Aiba's list of favourites). And Sho-chan's good-looking. Aiba loves Sho's smile. But Sho's a really good friend of Aiba’s, and even though Aiba’s attracted, Aiba's never thought of him of becoming anything more.
So... the fact that Sho's apparently had a special friend this whole time -- this really shouldn't be upsetting to Aiba. And that's perfect, because Aiba's not upset. He's just in shock from the blowjob thing. Sho can have girls, he can have ten girls plus five boys and he still wouldn't owe Aiba any explanations, since they're just friends. Right. And Sho's a young guy. Libido, horny, all that. Aiba's not upset. And Aiba's not turned on.
Who is Aiba kidding. He's both.
The door to the lab rattles. Aiba looks up. Someone sticks their key into the lock, but the door is still jammed by the chair Aiba had put in place. "Aiba-chan?" Ohno's voice calls. "I forgot my wallet, I need to get in." Aiba hurriedly stuffs the phone up his sleeve and opens the door for Ohno.
Ohno smiles in thanks when Aiba lets him in. Then he pauses as he sees the room. "Why are all the brooms out? You don't really have to clean the lab, Matsujun-style. Nino was just kidding."
"I was, um," Aiba says. "I was identifying the gravitational centres of normal household objects."
"I thought you did that last week?" Ohno asks, looking surprised.
"Yes well!" Aiba coughs, suddenly remembering that he had already done it the week prior, in a fit of boredom. "You can never be too sure if those centres are changing or not. Everything's being affected by air pressure and humidity, you know, Captain, so I just wanted to make sure the centres were the same. You lost your wallet, you said?"
"It's here," Ohno says, heading over to his lab coat. Aiba sucks in a breath, but Ohno goes for the inside pocket on the left breast, not any of the side pockets. He takes out a thin wallet and opens it up, pouting a bit as he counts the bills inside. "Not really enough money," he mutters quietly. "But what else can I do in the meantime?"
"Captain," Aiba ventures, mouth forming the words before his brain realizes it. "Do -- did you see Sho-chan at all this morning? Did he," Aiba swallows. "Did he bring a new friend to work or something?"
Ohno furrows his eyebrows together. "I haven't seen him, not really," he admits. "But I didn't hear about any friends. Do you think the ramen shop across the street will start a tab for me?"
"Yes," Aiba says. "You practically live there, and everyone knows who you are. So you haven't met anyone new today? What were you and Nino doing around eleven? I'm -- just curious." He probably sounds as suspicious as a devil with a lollipop, but luckily Ohno is not the type to notice these things.
"Me? I was taking a smoking break, I think, with Jun-kun. Nino was there at the beginning too, but then he left, I think? I don’t really remember because I was talking with Jun-kun. Then for lunch we went to the cafeteria -- but Nino said he wasn't hungry, so I--" Ohno stops. "What are we talking about?"
"Nothing!" Aiba says quickly. "Just making conversation.” He laughs nervously. “Go get that bowl of ramen! I'll see you later, okay?"
"Sho-kun has a lot of friends, doesn’t he,” Ohno mentions as he heads out. “But it’s been a while since he’s gone out with someone, I think. Hasn’t it?" He looks back at Aiba, with the slightest tilt of confusion to his eyes.
Aiba has no idea what to say. “I guess so. I mean, he hasn’t mentioned anything in a long time, and I – I haven’t seen him with anyone new recently.”
"Right, because it’s Sho-chan,” Ohno agrees. “I don’t think he’d share it with everyone though, if he just started a relationship. He’s not that type," he smiles. "But don’t worry about that, Aiba-chan. Bye." The door shuts, and then Aiba hears the turning of the key as Ohno locks it.
Did -- did Aiba hear that right? How had Ohno known what Aiba was trying to get at? He must have misinterpreted. Aiba’s face hadn’t given him away... had it? But Ohno is much more intuitive than people give him credit for. He’s not as quick or as perceptive as Nino, who’s attuned to every detail he can see, but Ohno has the distinct ability to always say or do the right thing at the right moment – often surprising everyone, even if isn’t his intention.
See, and he had brought up a good point: Sho really isn't the type to bring special someones to work. He isn't very good with romance at all, really... the thought makes Aiba smile. If Sho had to get together with anyone, it'd have to be someone who’s already used how pathetic he could be at some times, and amazing he could be at others. A friend before a lover, to understand all sides of Sho-chan.
Aiba blinks. Could it have been... a friend? Who'd been blowing Sho-chan? Could it have been... Matsujun?
Oh. Wow. It actually might have been. Years and years ago, Jun had been a little infatuated with Sho, and although he’d claimed that ever since he started sharing a lab with him, the infatuation quickly (worryingly quickly, Jun had said) decreased to a healthy affection... there was still a chance that the feelings didn’t all disappear, right? It might have been Jun. And if it had been, then no way was Aiba going to go up to them and ask for them to spill the beans. Aiba can’t even imagine the expression that Jun would make. Wait, yes he can. And it’s pretty funny. But then Jun would ask how Aiba figured that out and that would be messy to explain. Especially if Nino and Ohno prefer to keep their invention a secret until the patents are filled out.
But Aiba wants to know.
Fortunately, there’s another way Aiba can find out. He reaches into his shirt and carefully takes out the cell phone again. He'd already been back in time for one minute. Really, what were a few minutes more?
Wednesday, 10:58 am.
Aiba lands back in time in the same position he'd left the present: squatting down behind the storage boxes stacked like a wall at the back of the room. It’s a good hiding place: the boxes are high enough that Aiba is blocked from view even if he stands up. But Aiba has to be careful, there is miscellaneous lab apparatus scattered around the floor too, and Aiba can’t bump into any of them and make a noise if he doesn't want to be found out. If Aiba’s logic is right (which it probably is, according to all those movie plots anyway), not only is Aiba present at 10:58, behind the cardboard boxes, but in one minute, at 10:59, he will be present in the broom closet as well, having travelled back in time from that first instance. It’s suddenly very convenient that the closet door is locked. Two Aibas in one place. Potential chaos, if Aiba let himself be seen by the other one. Which he so won’t.
Aiba hadn't set an alarm on the phone this time (he didn't want the pressure of a time limit hindering him from figuring out who the mysterious other person was), but he keeps one thumb over the stop button on the phone, just in case he needs to make a hasty exit.
From the sounds of things though, he's not going to get noticed. The two other people in the lab are going at their own business, and going strong.
Aiba silently shuffles down the row of boxes until he finds a gap between the stacks that is big enough to peek at the rest of the lab. Where are the two -- oh, crap, there’s Sho. And it really is him. Leaning on the counter by the sink. With someone kneeling in front of him, in a white lab coat. The expression on Sho’s face is... it’s good. Sho’s mouth is half-open and gasping, his lips red and bitten. He’s got his eyes clenched shut and his shoulders are stiff with tension. His fingers must be holding the edge of the counter so tightly; Aiba can see the veins on his arms where Sho’s sleeves are rolled up. Aiba can hear Sho’s fast breaths (the same pattern he’d heard the first time), and the longer he stares, the faster Aiba’s own breathing is getting.
Aiba forces himself to look away. He can feel blood rushing to his face, and to... lower places. When he gathers enough courage to look up again, he tries not to stare at Sho’s face (this is Sho-chan’s sex face, Aiba’s brain informs him frantically; you’ll never see anything like it ever again) and focuses instead on the person kneeling in front of Sho.
The person is short; Aiba sees that right away, with short, cropped hair. It’s not Jun, then? For some reason, Aiba feels relieved about that. He wonders why. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with Jun and Sho being together, of course, but it’s just – it’s Sho-chan, and Aiba, he – it’d be weird and it’s hard to explain and Aiba is going to stop thinking about this now, since the other person obviously isn’t Jun. Jun’s hair wasn’t that short, his back wasn’t so slouchy –
That looks like -- no way, it can't be -- Aiba leans in a bit closer to the gap between the boxes, unable to believe what he’s seeing. Because that stature is very, very familiar. Too familiar. So familiar that Aiba is sure that it can’t belong anyone else but him. Aiba’s unprepared for the immediate gut-wrenching, heart-dropping, throat-choking reaction his body gives as his brain processes who that back and head of hair belongs to.
Aiba clamps a hand over his mouth to keep from making any noise.
This is screwed up. This isn’t what Aiba wanted to see. Aiba had thought – he’d thought – he hadn’t thought, obviously, and he would never have guessed that it would be Nino and now Aiba knows, and shoot. Shoot. Aiba feels tears pricking at the back of his eyes. It’s not just the fact that Sho’s receiving random blowjobs during work hours, in the lab Aiba uses in everyday, and Aiba’s complete ignorance of Sho being in a relationship at all (and Aiba’s kicking himself right now; how could he have missed something like this?). That’s bad on its own, but it’s so much worse now, because Sho is in a relationship with Nino.
This goes way beyond “someone who’s already used to Sho.” This is Nino. Aiba’s best friend.
Aiba’s loved Nino forever.
Because okay, Aiba really really likes Sho, but Aiba’s grown up with Nino. Aiba always goes to Nino first for baseball and golf, Aiba’s shared underwear with Nino, Nino is someone who understands Aiba, through and through. Aiba loves Nino.
Aiba feels sick. This sudden rush of emotions is too much, too strong, and they’re overwhelming. Is this betrayal that Aiba’s feeling? Two of his closest friends, together, and Aiba with no idea about it.
Or is it jealousy? Two of the people Aiba loves most, together, and Aiba without either of them.
Across the lab, Nino (oh God, it’s Nino, it’s Nino) shifts around a bit and Aiba can’t tear his gaze away from the side of Nino’s face. Nino’s clothes are rumpled, his lips are wet and swollen, and even with his lips around – oh damn -- he’s still making that fierce, smug smirk that Aiba hates so much but can’t get enough of. Aiba’s never seen Nino like this. Nino looks amazing.
As Aiba watches, Nino does something with his left hand in Sho’s lap, ducks down a little further, and then Sho’s throwing his head back, spine straightening, and oh my God, Aiba thinks, Sho’s going to come.
And in that instant, Sho’s face turns to the back of the room and for a split, horrifying second, Aiba swears their eyes meet.
“Aiba!” Sho yells.
Aiba jolts hard, taking a step back in surprise. He bumps into a set of glass beakers stacked unsteadily on one of the boxes behind him, and Aiba whips around in shock, arms madly reaching out – but it’s too late. The beakers fall, crashes to the ground, glass flying.
“What was that?” Nino’s voice rasps.
Aiba doesn’t pause to think; he lifts up the cell phone, presses down the stop button to end the trip and bring himself back to the present.
And he’s gone.
Wednesday, 1:45 pm.
It’s been two minutes and Aiba still hasn’t left his little cardboard box alcove at the back of the lab. He’s pretty sure he’s forgotten how to get up, much less walk. His mind is completely blank, save for one thought: Sho had seen him. Sho had seen him and called Aiba’s name and Aiba had broken a beaker and Aiba had changed the past.
Someone else must have swept up the broken glass, in the past few hours, because the floor’s clean now. No trace of anything disturbed. No evidence that Aiba had gone back in time at all, and royally screwed up the future. Maybe nothing changed then? It’s possible that Aiba hasn’t really affected anything. The lab looks the exact same as when he’d last left it – so maybe things are okay. Except Sho had seen him.
Oh God. What has he done? Aiba presses his fingers to his eyes. This is so much worse than anything that Aiba could have imagined. Nino and Sho together, and Sho seeing Aiba, and now Nino is going to find out that Aiba’s been playing around with the time machine and Nino’s going to hate him –
He should go talk to Sho. Explain himself. Tell him that if he and Nino were – are – together, that’s fine. That’s more than fine, and Aiba wishes all the happiness in the world for both of them. Of course it makes sense in retrospect: Sho and Nino are so close. Sho’s the only one who calls Nino Nino-chan (well, Jun does too, but only when he’s really drunk). And they really look good when they stand together, everyone’s noticed this before, including Aiba. There’s this way that Sho’s face lights up when Nino makes a funny comment, and there’s this way that Nino looks at Sho when Sho does something embarrassing – why hadn’t Aiba seen it before? It’s all so clear now.
Aiba really never had a chance with either of them.
Though the stupid thing is that Aiba has never seriously thought he would ever be in a relationship with either of them. Not like that. Like, Nino, for example. Sure, sometimes when Nino had stayed the night at Aiba’s place, Aiba had wondered what might happen if he made a move on him, but Aiba never actually made one. It’s not that Aiba’s afraid of what Nino’s reaction might be – okay, so it is a little bit – but Aiba’s never seen any hint that Nino might feel that way towards Aiba. And Aiba knows how Nino is with relationships: he’s not a fan of them and never has been. Aiba has never wanted to push Nino into something he isn’t comfortable with, and if all Aiba ever has is Nino’s friendship, well... it’s enough. So Aiba should be cool with the thing Nino and Sho have, whatever it is. Aiba shouldn’t let himself be unhappy about things he has no part in.
...Nino must really like Sho, for him to blow him in public like that. This thought is more than a little depressing. Because, well, because Aiba wouldn’t mind getting blown by Nino in public too. The thought of Nino and public sex is really, really hot and – okay, Aiba’s not going to think about that right now.
What had he been saying before? Right, Sho. Aiba should go talk to Sho. Sho had accidentally noticed Aiba hiding behind the boxes; he’s bound have questions about that – maybe he thinks that he’d been seeing things? But the beaker had broken, that’s proof enough of someone’s presence. Aiba really doesn’t want Sho getting the wrong idea. Like thinking that Aiba can phase through solids or magically teleport himself through space– well, he actually can do that now. Technically.
But Aiba can’t handle seeing Sho right now. It’d be... too much to handle.. Aiba needs to think about things, sort out his feelings. And he wants to get out of this lab (Nino and Sho had been standing right there, by the sink, and Aiba needs to stop staring at that spot like it holds some unsolvable mystery or something); it’s starting to get suffocating.
Out in the hall, Aiba sees Jun, coming back from the cleaning room with his boxes of test tubes.
“Hey, Jun-kun,” Aiba says as he walks by.
“Aiba, hi,” Jun nods to him. He takes a couple more steps, then stops, turning back towards Aiba. “Are you okay? Has something happened?”
Aiba forces a smile. “Nothing! I’m fine!”
Jun narrows his eyes. “Let’s get you something to eat, and you can talk to me about it.”
Wednesday, 2:03 pm.
“And you’re sure there’s nothing wrong,” Jun says for the tenth time, frowning.
“I swear!” Aiba says, stuffing more gyoza into his mouth. “Ahm hohally ougay!”
But Jun still looks doubtful. “If you insist.” He glances around uninterestedly at the rest of the cafeteria. “First Sho-kun acts weird,” he muses, “and now you too. Is there something contagious going around the building that I’m not aware of? Have you guys been hanging out today?”
Aiba nearly drops his plate of food. “But I haven’t seen Sho-chan AT ALL today!” he says just a little too loudly.
Jun pauses mid-sip in his coffee. “Right, I was joking. He’s been in the lab since noon.”
“Right!” Aiba nods enthusiastically. “And he hasn’t mentioned me, either, right? Not like, ‘Hey, I wonder what Aiba’s doing right now?’ Or like, ‘Aiba doesn’t have supernatural powers, does he?’ Or, anything like, ‘Hey, Matsujun, do you think Aiba’s a voyeur?’”
Jun stares. “Er. No. He hasn’t mentioned you at all to my knowledge.”
“Well. Good,” Aiba says, sighing with relief. So if even Sho-chan did believe Aiba had been there by the boxes, at least he hasn’t talked about it to anyone else. That’s easier to manage.
“Didn’t you say before that he wanted to talk to you about something?” Jun asks.
Aiba chokes on the dumpling in his mouth. He’d forgotten all about that! “He hasn’t told you when he was planning to come by my lab, has he?”
“No... actually, I don’t know if he’ll try to find you or not. He seems really intent to stay in the lab for some reason. He didn’t even have lunch today.”
That’s shocking, Aiba thinks. “But Sho-chan always has lunch. Always.”
“Maybe he’ll catch an early dinner,” Jun says. “I’m really not sure what’s up with him today, and I don’t know if I should ask. He’s trying too hard to act normally.”
Aiba sets down his plate slowly. So. Something changed as a result of Aiba’s time travelling after all. Somehow, Sho-chan got upset enough to skip lunch. And Sho felt so strongly about food; it must be serious. Damn it. What has Aiba done to this timeline?
“Aiba,” Jun asks, louder. “Did you hear what I said?”
Aiba starts. “Oh, sorry Matsujun, what did you say?”
Jun looks worried. “I said that if there’s something bothering you about Sho, you should try to talk to him about it. I believe that Sho-kun would appreciate that, too. He... really cares about you, Aiba.”
Aiba knows Sho cares. That’s why Aiba can’t stand to hurt him. Talking to Sho about this? How could Aiba explain to Sho that he went back in time, twice, watched like a pervert while Sho got a blowjob, then travelled back to the present to sit and be jealous that he and Nino are in a relationship with each other? And then, on top of that, because Aiba went back in time, he somehow altered the course of Sho’s life? This was like personal violation of the highest degree; so much worse than the time Aiba got Sho upset by doodling in Sho’s day planner. If Aiba tells him all of that, Aiba wouldn’t blame him if Sho decided to never speak to Aiba again. Aiba wouldn’t speak to Aiba again. Talking to Sho is definitely going to make things worse.
But there’s another way Aiba can fix this.
Wednesday, 2:14 pm.
Okay, Aiba thinks, when he gets back to the lab. Let’s go about this logically.
The way he figures it, Aiba’s got two options here. He can go back in time to move the glass beakers out of the way so his past self doesn’t bump into anything. This way, even if Sho sees Aiba (and why, of all places he could have glanced to, did he have to look where Aiba was hiding? Just Aiba’s stupid luck), he still wouldn’t have proof of it, and maybe he’d think that it was a trick of the light or something, Aiba’s not sure. But there’s this big problem of Sho shouting out Aiba’s name. Nino had reacted to that, Aiba remembers. That’s bad. Maybe Nino thought that Sho was thinking of Aiba during sex? Oh geez, that would be hard for Sho to make an excuse for. But still, this isn’t a great solution: even if Aiba moves the beakers, there’s no guarantee that he won’t bump into anything else. It was the shock of Sho shouting Aiba’s name that surprised Aiba, and Sho will still call Aiba’s name, if Aiba’s there. And Aiba can’t go back and prevent himself from doing anything – that would violate one of the most important laws of time travel: don’t go looking for trouble with yourself.
So... the other option is intervening somehow so Nino and Sho don’t enter the room while Aiba’s there.
Aiba scrunches up his hair as he deliberates this. Changing the past isn’t good. But if he could just delay Nino or Sho for a little while – it wouldn’t be like he would be altering anything that wasn’t already going to happen. It was just... putting it off for a bit. If he can just keep the room empty from 10:58 to a few minutes past 11 (when did Aiba zap out of there? He’d been too flustered to check, darn) then Sho would not see Aiba at all, and there would not be anything for anybody to get upset about.
Yes, that sounds better. Besides, Aiba can’t worry about trying not to alter the past anymore, since he’s already done it. He has to concentrate on undoing the mistakes he’d already made.
Now, the only question is how he’s going to go about doing it.
Aiba paces the room, thinking, and his eyes light on Ohno’s lab coat again, hanging from the door on the rack. Hm. Ohno had left his wallet in there before, right? Is it possible that Ohno had left something else as well? Aiba rushes over and rifles through all of the pockets – yes! Score! Ohno’s personal cell.
Ohno had told Aiba that he’d been taking a smoke break with Nino and Jun, but Nino had left early. And it was after that when Nino met up with Sho. So if Aiba sends Nino a text from Ohno’s cell phone, asking him to go back outside for a second, then Nino wouldn’t go into the lab! That would work perfectly. Even better because of Ohno’s perpetual absent-mindedness; even if Ohno admitted that he didn’t remember texting Nino at all (and he might get confused himself), Nino wouldn’t find it suspicious.
This could actually work. But where could Aiba hide to wait for Sho and Nino to walk to the lab?
Aiba ducks into the hall and looks around. There’s the single-person washroom, right across their lab -- Aiba can lock the door from the inside so no one can get in until he’s done his job, and it’s close enough that he’ll be able to hear other people moving around outside.