Aya and H had a long talk and it was decided that Nashi was being shipped back to Japan as soon as the New York concert was done but since there wasn’t another performance scheduled until two weeks from then, the band may as well take the scenic route home.  Both felt that a little fun might bring Ju out of his slump.  It was worth a try at least.

They flew from New York to Florida where Ju and the band were treated to a baseball game.  Ju had a blast and took a couple of pictures in the team jersey before the game.  They then flew to San Francisco where they toured Chinatown and the Golden Gate bridge before heading to Anaheim and Disneyland where he acted like an oversized kid to the amusement of his wife who acted just as childlike as he did.   They took turns ambushing each other after fun trips and before long Ju was acting more like his old self.  By the time they flew back to Japan, both were in need of some sleep and some home cooked food.  They got the food but the sleep was a long time in coming.

When Aya and Ju opened the door to the flat, they were met with a chorus of “Surprise!”  and “Welcome home!” and “Happy Birthday Ju!”  Ju turned to look at his wife who was wearing the same perplexed look he was wearing.  Yoichi came up to the couple and hugged them both.  That seemed to have opened the flood gates and the two found themselves being hugged by most of their friends and family.  Rei and Yuki were there as were Arly, Jin, Rei’s hubby, Acchan and Hana.  As much as the pair would have loved to just fall into bed, seeing so many smiling faces infused some energy into them that they didn’t think they had.

Rei got everyone’s attention as Hana gave them each a glass of champagne.  “Ju we wanted you to know that everyone here either loves you or respects you and considers you a friend.  We didn’t want one bad apple make you think less of yourself.  All of us here has at least a couple of stories of you helping us or making us laugh.  Life would be quieter and a whole lot duller if you weren’t here so we decided to throw you this little gathering to let you know how much you mean to us and to wish you a happy birthday.  K has an engagement with his other band and you know how H is but he did give me this for you.”

She handed a very surprised and touched Ju a small box.  In it was an Apple watch.  Ju almost choked.  The things started at close to 74000 yen.  He looked down at a touch to his elbow.  Aya was smiling up at him.  She had pulled out a shopping bag from somewhere.  She handed it to him.

“While the party was a surprise for me too, getting your gifts was something I started a few weeks ago.  Everyone pitched in to help buy your gifts so go sit down and open them.”  He nodded slightly, still in shock from the party and the gift of the watch.  He began pulling boxes out of the bag.

Arly gave him a new strap for his bass.  From what Ju could tell, the leather had been pretreated and was soft and supple.  He really appreciated that.  New straps tended to be rather hard and stiff.  It usually took a good couple of months to get them soft enough to be comfortable.  Rei and Yuki gave him a brand new pair of Doc Martins in blue.  His red pair was so scuffed that he’d stopped wearing them.  Jin and K went in together and got him some biker boots.

When it came  time for his family to give him their gifts, Yoichi had placed a huge box on the cleared table in front of him.  Aya came to stand next to him and put her hand on his shoulder causing him to look up at her.  “Mich-chan, Yoichi, Ichi and myself went in on this.  Go ahead.  Open it.”  Ju opened the box and pulled out first a leather jacket, then chaps, riding pants, gloves and goggles, all with the Harley Davidson logo.  Ju muttered a few choice words of exclamation.

“Damn guys.  I just…I don’t know what to say.  When did you?  Why do I think my lovely wife was behind this?”  When she gave him a grin he knew for sure she was.

Yoichi spoke.  “It was Aya’s idea.  She said you needed some new riding gear and since she was in the states it would be cheaper to buy the stuff there and have it shipped here.  We all decided to pitch in mainly because it kept us from having to figure out something to get you.  Toshi said he’d give you his gift the next time he saw you.  I’d be very afraid.”  That got a laugh from everyone but Ju and Aya who were both sporting a very alarmed look.  They relaxed a little when Yoichi let them know that Kiba had gone with Toshi to pick it out but only a little.

Ju stood up and gave Michiko a kiss, gave Yoichi a hug as well as Ichi who threatened to hit him uncle or no if he tried to kiss him.  When he turned to Aya, he tilted her head back and gave her a kiss that was almost a breath stealer.   He looked around at his friends and family.  These people really cared about him and that made him happy.  He thanked everyone for the gifts and the party which was Acchan’s and Hana’s gift to him.

Everyone was laughing and having a good time when the bell rang.  Naohito was there which surprised Aya.  “What are you doing here?”  Naohito smiled.  “I know we aren’t friends but even I wouldn’t want him being depressed mainly because it would make you depressed so I’ve got a little something that might make him smile.”  He handed Aya the envelope he was carrying but Aya wouldn’t take it.  “He’s in there.  Give it to him yourself.”

Naohito sighed but he knew that tone of voice.  No use in arguing so he steeled himself and went to find the birthday boy.   When he found him he motioned for him to meet him a little farther from the crowd.  Ju did.  He nodded politely when Naohito wished him a happy birthday then he got to the reason for his visit.  He handed the envelope to Ju.

“This is a new contract for the shop.  The old one is about to expire.  This one is for five years and I’ve increased the commission.  You and that shop of yours have done a good job for me.  More importantly, you’ve made Aya happy.  For that I’m grateful.  So happy birthday.”  Ju thanked him and shook his hand.  They still weren’t friends but for the moment they weren’t enemies either.

They were heading back to the rest of the party when Naohito stopped so suddenly that Ju ran into his back.   After saying a few choice words and questioning Naohito’s parentage he looked to see what was distracting the man.  What or who he saw made him smile.  The reactions from some, no, most of the guys there made him laugh.  He went over to his wife and their new guest with Naohito following closely behind.

He gave Amaya a hug before asking the question that Aya had just asked her.  “What are you doing here?  Not that I mind but I thought you were staying in New York.”

Amaya ran her fingers through her hair before smiling.  “I did but they were on their way on a world cruise.  Since my baby sister is married and out of the house they figured it was time to view the world.  I was lucky to catch them before they left.  I spent the past two weeks with them then flew here.  I’ll be working for H for another couple of concerts then I’ll decide what I’m going to do, stay here for a while or fly back to America.  If I can find a job here, I’ll stay for a while.  I’ve got nothing tying me the states except for family and the parents are country hopping and my sister is setting up her new household.  Oh!  I almost forgot.  Happy Birthday!”

She handed Ju a box wrapped in lots of bows and ribbons and frilly things.  He eyed it suspiciously, shrugged then tore into to it.  It was a large box of shortbread cookies.  He grinned, gave her a thank you kiss on the cheek, held the box against his chest and scampered off to put it in the bedroom in the closet where no one could find it and grab any.  Those were for him and maybe Aya if she was a very good girl.  That thought made him smile.

While all this was going on Aya was watching Naohito.  The man looked like his own goddess of love had entered the room.   She turned to Amaya when Ju took off and shook her head.  Taking the woman by the arm she walked with her into the living room and introduced her around.  When she got to Hana and Acchan, he was rubbing the back of his head and Hana was glaring at him.  Seems he wasn’t paying attention to her and was staring at Amaya.  Amaya pulled up short when she saw Hana.  “She really does look like you Aya.  Wow.  And you guys aren’t sisters, just cousins.”  Aya just nodded.  Her and Amaya had become good friends during the course of the remaining stops.  They had talked about Nashi and the stupendous error the woman had made thinking Hana was Aya.

She made the rounds of introductions.  Yoichi just stared at the woman until Aya nudged him.  Naohito was the last person she introduced the woman to.  He bowed deeply before speaking.  “You have to be the most stunning woman I’ve ever met but I’m sure you hear that a lot.  Please.  If you ever need anything let Aya know and she’ll contact me.  I’d give you my card but I’m afraid I’m out at the moment.”  Amaya thanked him before turning to Aya and whispering.  “Damn woman.  How can you not have whiplash from all the gorgeous men you have around you?”

Aya just shrugged.  “The handsomest man in the world to me just ran out of here with your gift.  What was it?”  When Amaya told her, Aya narrowed her eyes.  “Excuse me.  I need to go barbarian princess on that stingy man.  Mingle.  I’ll be back in a few and I promise no bloodshed…maybe.”  She turned and headed off toward the bedroom.  Amaya shook her head and laughed.  She went and struck up a conversation with Rei and Yuki.  A few minutes later, Ju and Aya showed up.  Aya was nibbling on a cookie and Ju looked like he’d been kissed half senseless.

They partied for a while longer before the yawning started.  It had been a very long flight and both were tired.  Their guests took the hint and said their goodbyes.  Naohito was the last to go of the guests since Yoichi was staying behind to clean up.  He pulled Aya aside before he left.  “Do you think you could put in a good word for me.  I’d like to get to know her better.  She really is stunning and if you are friends with her she must be okay.”

Aya said she’d think about it then told him to get out.  She had a sexy man to cuddle up too.  When she went back into the bedroom, her sexy man was waiting.  “Thank you Aya.  I know you didn’t get the actual party together but I know you probably put the idea in Rei’s head but it was nice to know that I’ve made some good friends and to not let one bad apple spoil things.”  He gave her a soft kiss then yawned.  She smiled and pulled him to the bathroom.  They showered together with just some kisses since both were too tired for anything major.  Ju fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.  Aya stayed awake a little longer just watching  him sleep and hoping that her man was back to normal.



~ by jujuken on July 12, 2015.

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