Betaed by Solo and Jo Lasalle, who helped very much. Thank you again! You are dedicated enablers.

The Taguchi Method of Falling in Love

by Sylvia



Set List
(aka Table of Contents)

Heartbreak Club
Keep the Faith
Real Face
Will Be Alright





Junno falls in love the way other people catch the flu. In fact, he considers the two afflictions to be basically the same kind of thing: they both come on suddenly and without warning, most often you have no clue just how you managed to catch them, they make you intensely miserable for a while, and eventually they fade slowly, leaving you beaten down and exhausted, but recovered.

It's a matter of constant bemusement to Junno that most people are so enthusiastic about what is, on the whole, an excruciatingly unpleasant experience.





"I don't really cook much," Ayumi-san says, and grins. And then Junno falls in love with her. One instant he's fine; the next, his heart is in his throat and his breath is unsteady, he's cold and hot and shivery, and he feels shaky all over with the sheer sudden force of it.

Wow, bad timing. But then, when is it ever not?

Everyone's looking at Junno. Did the show's host just say his name? Yeah, he did – it's Junno's turn with the cooking thing. Right.

"Me neither," he manages, and then clears his throat and laughs a little, ducking his head apologetically. It's a good thing Ayumi's a far bigger star than he is – the host is happy to accept this as Junno's full answer so he can get back to questioning her.

Junno spends the rest of the show trying not to stare at Ayumi's lips, and the next weeks listening to all of her songs on endless repeat. He has no idea whether he actually likes them or not. He's only listening to her voice.

It happens, this falling in love thing. At this point Junno's long used to it – at least, as used as you can ever get to something so wrenchingly sudden, unsettling and absolute. No matter how often it happens, it's still always just as fierce, just as irresistible.

Junno's been trying to find additional constants ever since it first started. There must be reasons for why and how and when and with whom it happens, and if Junno can just find and understand these underlying rules, it won't be quite so jarring. At the very least he'll know what's going on and not feel so helpless. Maybe he'll get more of a warning, too. Maybe he'll even be able to avoid high-risk situations – head off the entire thing altogether, some of the time.

It's great in theory, but unfortunately, the constants of Junno falling in love are impossibly hard to pin down. It'd probably help if Junno weren't always in love when he gets the chance to gather conclusive data – that makes it like trying to lift a stone he's standing on. It's just not the best state of mind for thinking.

Anyway, so far all he's managed to find is a bunch of variables. Such as: It's not always beautiful or popular or outgoing people. It's not always women (seriously, being bisexual is massively inconvenient when you suffer from uncontrollable bouts of falling in love). It's not always smart or athletic or otherwise talented people. It can be people Junno has known for years or people Junno has only just met. It's not even always people Junno likes. It happens when Junno is happy, when he's down, when he's surrounded by friends, when he's alone, when he's stressed-out and relaxed and busy and idle and hungry and full and – yeah.

It just happens. A lot. That's basically what all of Junno's insights boil down to.





The first time Junno falls in love is because he forgets his math homework.

Junno likes math. It's clean, logical, structured and unequivocal. He likes numbers, the way you keep on understanding the underlying structure a little better each time you work with them. They're steady. Reliable. Constant.

In Yokohama, he likes the math teacher too. Junno didn't care for the one in Kobe – he'd made a point of calling on students who weren't so good at math, purely to humiliate them as far as Junno could tell – and the one in Sendai had been totally unable to explain things. That had been kind of upsetting; math, of all things, should not be confusing.     

But Hashimoto-sensei is good at explaining things, and patient when someone doesn't get it right away. She's friendly and plump and conservatively dressed, with wire-rimmed glasses that might seem stern on someone else, but only make her look smart. And on the day when Hashimoto-sensei asks Junno to come up to the blackboard and write down a problem they were meant to solve at home, he realizes, with sudden horror, that his assignment is resting peacefully on the living room table, right where he left it.

"I, uh, I'm really sorry, sensei, but I don't," he starts, and of course that's the moment his voice chooses to break and turn into an embarrassing squeak and then go away altogether, because it's been doing that for weeks and it always finds the worst of all possible moments to do it in.

The silence in the classroom is absolute. Junno wants to sink straight through the floor and into the center of the earth, but no such luck, so in the end he has to try again. "I forgot my homework at home. I'm really very sorry."

"Ah," says Hashimoto-sensei, and smiles at him kindly. "That's okay, Taguchi-kun. It happens. Tomorrow, ne?"

It hits with the force of a brick to the head. Junno submerges without even a splash and before he knows it he's so far under that he can't see daylight anymore, and everything is changed and distorted, new and unfamiliar.

Nothing like this has ever happened to him before. At first he just gapes at her and blinks and almost forgets to sit down again, and then he huddles in his seat with his head spinning. His heart is racing and he feels weird, and at some point he realizes that it's all because Hashimoto-sensei is the most amazing person he has ever met.

He never forgets his math homework again. He joins the math club even though he really doesn't have the time, and starts to tutor several younger students. He is always early to Hashimoto-sensei's class so he can clean the blackboard, and he carries chocolates and bottles of green tea in his bag that he never dares to leave on her desk. He delays packing up until she's left the room, because just before she does, she always turns to the students who haven't left yet and gives them a little nod. Sometimes Junno's the only one who's still in the room, and then she nods for him alone.

Junno knows he's being stupid. He's hardly more than a kid and Hashimoto-sensei's a grown woman – she isn't interested in him. Not even remotely. And besides, she's married, and she's his teacher, and it's all just absurd. It doesn't make a difference, but he does know.

Eventually, it passes. Until it does, he has no idea if it will, and he's scared the entire time that it won't, that he'll have to feel like this for the rest of his life.




Heartbreak Club

Shiori is glamorous, and gorgeous in that high-gloss model way, and perfectly polished and poised, and it's clear from the first instant he claps eyes on her that he is very much not her type. That doesn't stop it, of course.

It doesn't happen right away. It tends not to. She's over on the other side of the dancefloor at first, and while Junno notices she's beautiful when he catches glimpses of her, it's just an idle observation with no punch to it. Gradually she drifts over, and then she's dancing with him, and then she's flirting with him, too. He's a little surprised, and goes on to be surprised further when she doesn't run for the hills at the first couple of puns. She laughs instead, and invites him to buy her a drink.

That's when it happens, unexpected as always.

Maybe it's her laugh, loud and warm and genuine in a way that makes you feel like you could wrap yourself up in it like you'd wrap yourself in a soft, comfortable coat. Or maybe it's how she wrinkles her nose whenever she takes a sip of her cocktail. Maybe it's even the strand of hair that has escaped her stylishly upswept hairdo and is straggling raggedly around her neck, unnoticed.

Or it might not be any of those things. Maybe it's just the weather, or the bowl of ramen Junno had before coming to the club, or some kind of air-borne pathogen.

Whatever sets it off, it's just as raw and gutting and violently fierce as always. It lasts for months and months, longer than average. This is probably because Junno's going out with Shiori; he tries to avoid that kind of thing –  it's recklessly counterproductive and just drags things out – but he can't always help it.

In April, when the sakura in Tokyo's parks are covering the ground with snowy drifts of petals, Ueda invites them all over to his parents' house, and Junno finally gives in to Shiori's hints. He should have done this long ago... should have introduced her to the others right at the start.

It's just that he's in love, and it's so easy to believe that she is, too.

He's never seen Shiori as happy as she is when he asks her to accompany him to the party. She glows and shines with it, and for almost two weeks she smiles and laughs and giggles like a little girl. Junno can't help but smile and laugh and giggle right along with her. He loves to see her so happy. It makes him feel good, too.

The rest of it – that's only the usual baseline of being in love. He's used to it.

Two hours into the party, Kame finds him and takes him aside.

"Taguchi-kun." Kame looks and sounds like he'd rather be anywhere else but here. Junno smiles at him encouragingly, but it doesn't seem to help. "Junno. Listen, don't think I... It's. Your girlfriend. I think she's probably drunk. You should take her home."

Junno looks over to where Shiori is lounging on the couch, glossy and gorgeous and poised as always, shining with excitement and happiness, watching them – watching Kame – with barely concealed longing. The sight strikes home in a crushing blend of yearning and tenderness and joy and resigned, hopeless misery.

Yep, still in love.

Junno can't really claim to be surprised at Shiori. It'd be too much to say he was expecting this, but... well.   

Anyway, it's nice of Kame to be concerned about her, so Junno gives him another smile. "She's fine, don't worry. She never drinks much."

Kame shifts uncomfortably.

And suddenly, belatedly, with a sinking feeling almost like falling in love, Junno realizes what kind of position he's putting Kame in. This is incredibly awkward for Kame, of course it is – it was clear it would be, or it should have been, would have been to anyone with half a brain. Of course Kame hates this, and there really is no excuse for Junno to be dragging him into this.

For a second, Junno is speechless with mortification. Why didn't he think of this earlier? "Oh god I'm sorry," he blurts as soon as his mouth goes online again. "I never meant – she's always wanted, uhm, to meet you. But you, uh, I guess you noticed that. I'm really really sorry, seriously, I – I'll take her home right away. I just. Didn't think."   

Yeah, well, he didn't. That's no excuse, but it's part and parcel of being in love. You forget to think of other people. You forget to think, period. But with any luck this will be over soon – please let it be over soon because this is a nasty one, it really is.

Kame gives him an odd look and nods, starts to turn away. Then he hesitates and turns back, and Junno smiles encouragingly (and apologetically) again because he still looks like he's wishing himself to Hokkaido, or Hawaii, or the moon. "Are you okay?"

"Me? Sure." Junno blinks. "Why wouldn't I be?" He's just in love, that's all.

There's a very weird moment in which Kame keeps looking at him, and for a vertiginous instant Junno thinks it's going to happen again, right then, and this time it will be Kame. But then, thank all the gods, the moment passes, and Kame turns away, and it's still only Shiori.

And in another while that, too, passes, finally, mercifully. As it always does.




Keep the Faith

Junno never falls in love with anyone in KAT-TUN. In the beginning, he's afraid that he will. Why wouldn't he, after all? There's nothing Junno can do to prevent it, and he spends a lot of time with the guys, so there's a lot of opportunity.

And if it did happen…

It's not that they don't get along well, in the usual run of things. Sure, when they're just starting out things are a little iffy, but that's mostly circumstances and everyone getting used to things. They do pretty well after that, especially considering how different their various goals, interests and outlooks are.

Still. Adding something like that to the mix – there's no way that would go anywhere good.

Junno doesn't even think the bisexual thing would be the main problem, although, yeah, it might be an issue. Mostly, though, Junno falling in love with one of the others would be a huge wrench thrown into painstakingly developed and maintained group dynamics, with completely unpredictable results.

Plus, even if Junno managed to be way more subtle about it than he suspects he's capable of being, so subtle that nobody noticed anything at all… even then it'd still suck in a major way, because when they're on tour or in the middle of some other big project like Dream Boys, they have to spend almost every second of the day together. Junno has never been forced to spend that much time in the immediate vicinity of someone he's in love with, and he can't say he's eager to find out what it feels like.

He suspects he has a close call with Jin when they're filming Yukan Club. Jin seems different on set, maybe because he enjoys filming more than talkshows and photoshoots and interviews, or maybe just because the other guys aren't around. Anyway, whatever the reason, Jin talks to Junno more, and hangs out in Junno's dressing room, and sometimes when Jin goes to catering for something to drink he brings back something for Junno, too.   

Fortunately, Junno falls in love with Minami instead. He's wretched, of course, but comparatively speaking it's not too bad. She's very nice about it, and even Jin doesn't tease Junno as much as he's expecting. Neither do the others, once Jin tells them.

There are several other narrow escapes – at least Junno thinks so. It's basically pure conjecture, of course, because even after all these years he's still completely in the dark when it comes to the parameters of a high-risk situation. But there are some moments...

Like that time Nakamaru tells Junno he's really great at picking up the choreography, and Junno can tell Maru's saying it for no other reason than to make Junno feel better on a day when nothing has gone right for him. Or like the time they drive half the night to get to Hiroshima for the concert and Junno accidentally falls asleep on Ueda, and wakes up to him turning a page in a book he's propped on Junno's chest. Or like the time that Koki dresses up in Junno's costume and does Samurai Love Attack, the rap version.

It never happens, though. Sometimes Junno wonders why, but mostly, he's just glad.





"Hey, you – Taguchi," Ryo barks at him one day, when Junno happens to be loitering near for no particular reason.

No particular reason except that he's hoping for a glimpse of Ryo. Which is a reason, just not one he can give if anyone asks what he's doing here. Which is, in turn, the reason why Junno has also been hoping nobody would ask.

And nobody would have, because nobody would have noticed. Except. Who knew that Ryo would come out of the wrong door and practically run right into him?

Junno tries to cover up his guilty start with a grin and a bounce, and then searches his mind for a pun, or a joke, or anything at all. Nothing presents itself, which Junno attributes to an inauspicious combination of: A, being in love, and B, suddenly being confronted with the object of said affliction at a much closer range than anticipated.

"Are you following me or something?"

Junno laughs and quickly shakes his head. "Following you? Me? Why would I be following you? No conceivable reason, is there. Why would you even think that."

Ryo's eyes widen. Junno can't help but think startlement is a good look on him, but Junno's in no position to be objective at the moment. Ask him again in a couple of months.

"What the fuck, you are!"

Junno's never been any good at lying. It's a problem, sometimes. "No, no, I mean. Kind of. But not really. It's just, uhm." He darts a quick glance around the corridor. There's a group of production assistants clustered around a schedule and a couple of juniors hovering in the general vicinity, but nobody's within hearing range. "It's nothing. Nothing to concern you. It will pass, don't worry."

"What? What are you babbling about?"

This isn't going well. Now Ryo looks like he's undecided between getting angry and shouting for help.

Junno waves his hands appeasingly and smiles in what he hopes is a calming manner while he desperately cudgels his brains for the right thing to say. This would be so much easier if he weren't in love. Of course, if he weren't in love then he wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

When cornered, Junno tends to be honest. That's also a problem sometimes. Like now. "I'm just, uhm. Maybe a little bit in love with you. But don't panic! It doesn't mean anything. It's not going to be a problem. It'll pass, I promise. I'll, I'll stay away until I get better. Promise."


"Sorry! Nothing personal."

Judging by Ryo's expression, that doesn't help. Damn, what can Junno say that's reassuring? "It passes quickly?"

For a certain value of quickly. But Junno doesn't have to go into that.

Ryo just gapes at him, mouth opening and then closing again. The only thing that makes it out is a strangled "whu" sound. Junno thinks it's cute, but, yeah. Definitely not a reliable judge.

This conversation is really not going well. Junno grins in sheer desperation and then turns and legs it out of there before Ryo can recover enough to ask any more questions.

Over the next couple of days Junno collects a lot of funny looks from Jin and Kame, and Jin keeps trying to corner him alone, presumably to interrogate him and find out just what the hell he's playing at. Junno takes this to mean that once he unfroze, Ryo called up all of his friends to tell them about Junno's fit of insane besotted stalkerishness. Junno doesn't blame him. It wasn’t one of Junno's finer hours.

If only stupidity weren't endemic to the condition of being in love, Junno could simply have passed the entire trainwreck of a situation off as a practical joke.

Come to think of it, the practical joke excuse still works. Junno will run with that if the matter comes up again… although he rather fervently hopes it doesn't.




Real Face

It does, of course. Junno's luck just isn't that good.

"What the fuck?" is the first thing out of Ryo's mouth.

The sinking feeling in Junno's stomach is more resignation than apprehension. This is not an entirely new situation, even though Junno never really gets used to it. "Ryo-chan –"

"It's Ryo-kun now, dumbass. No, strike that. To you, it's Nishikido-senpai."

Well. At least the conversation can only go uphill from here, right? Plus, it turns out that even "attempted murder by glare" is a good look on Ryo. Even if Junno still isn't in a position to make any absolute judgements on the matter.

"I'm sorry. It was just a joke – a really bad joke. Just, I didn't think you were going to take it so seriously."

Ryo's expression freezes.

Junno has a moment to wonder what the hell he's said *now* before he finds himself being grabbed and manhandled through the nearest door into what appears to be someone's dressing room. He then has a moment to forget how to breathe when Ryo slams him up against the wall, getting right in his face.

"What kind of joke is that!" Ryo hisses. Junno blinks at the venom in his tone. "Why would you make a joke like that! Did someone put you up to it? You'd better tell me now before I kill you!"


Ryo steps back just a little and Junno recovers a measure of capacity for speech. "No, I – it was my own –" God, Junno is so very bad at this. "Okay, fine, so it wasn't a joke! I really am in love with you. I'm sorry it bothers you so much, but it's not like I did it on purpose or anything."

It's obvious that Ryo doesn't believe a word. It's less obvious just what Ryo doesn't believe – that Junno was joking? That he wasn't? That Junno's in love with him? That he isn't?

In the complete absence of clues on how to defuse the situation, Junno just keeps talking. "I'm harmless, you don't have to act like – it's not an insult, someone falling in love with you. Even if it's me. It's actually kind of a –"

"Why would you be in love with me?" Ryo's tone is even harder, more suspicious and angrier than before.  

Of all questions, of course it has to be the one that Junno absolutely cannot answer.

"I don't know." Junno shrugs a little and tries for a smile. He has the feeling it ends up sheepish more than anything else. "I never know, it just happens. I fall in love. This time I fell in love with you. I can't give you a reason."

Ryo finally lets go of Junno's shirt and retreats a pace, two. His cold stare never leaves Junno's face. "What the hell makes you think I would go for *you*?"

That stings, even though Junno knows better. "You don't get it at all!"

Great – now they're both shouting. No, just, no; Junno stops and breathes and tries to collect his thoughts, and then shakes his head and starts again. "Look. Just forget the entire thing, okay? Ignore me. It doesn't even have anything to do with you, really."

"It doesn't have anything to do with me? You idiot! There's clearly some reason –"

And then, finally, the last variable clicks into place and the equation suddenly becomes clear. "Oh, I get it. You're gay!"

The ambient temperature drops by about ten degrees.

Ooops. That just... kind of popped out. One of these days Junno is going to learn how to detach his mouth from his Eureka moments. He really is.

"Uhm! But, no, seriously," he rushes on before Ryo can have an apoplexy or murder Junno or burst from sheer rage. "It makes no difference. I mean, I didn't know, there wasn't anything to, uh, but anyway I don't care either way, it's not my business and it's not like I'm going to tell anyone. Obviously I'm not telling anyone. Ryo-chan, please calm down?"

Ryo doesn't calm down, but he doesn't burst or murder Junno either, and eventually – after a couple of minutes of stomping around the room like Godzilla and calling Junno all kinds of names – he storms out.

Junno guesses that could have gone worse. Say, if there'd been an earthquake and Tokyo had been reduced to rubble.




Will Be Alright

Two days later Ryo waylays Junno in a different corridor, drags him into a different room, and demands to know all the details. Evidently he thinks that if he can understand what's going on, he'll feel better about it. Junno gets that, and it's his fault for making Ryo anxious in the first place. So he tells Ryo about the way he falls in love, and that there's no comprehensible reason for it that Junno's been able to discover, and that factors like gender or sexual orientation don't come into it at all.

It could have been Ryo's eyes or lips or fingers, just as it could have been the way he dances, or talks, or drinks his tea, or laughs. Or it might just as well have been the alignment of the moon and the sun and the stars.  

Junno knows other people fall in love differently – it's one of the reasons he's never really talked about this with anyone. So it's not much of a surprise that Ryo looks at him like he's some kind of unfamiliar lifeform of dubious provenance and highly questionable intelligence.

"What, you constantly fall for people like a ton of bricks and never do anything about it?"

"No, of course not! Not constantly. Just, uhm. Occasionally. And I tried to determine the underlying constants – I'm still trying. What else could I do about it?"

Ryo stares at him for a moment and then snorts. "Oh, hey, I don't know – maybe send flowers, or chocolates, or whatever! Or go on a date! You know, things normal people do when they fall in love. People who aren't creepy geeky stalker dorks."

Junno ducks his head, shrugs, and smiles an apology. He does do those things sometimes, depending on circumstances. But in the end, it only prolongs the unpleasantness.

Ryo still seems tense underneath the swagger, and he's kind of pale, like he hasn't been sleeping enough. Why couldn't Junno have been more careful? Then Ryo never would have caught him and wouldn't be worrying like this now. Although of course it's not just Junno, but the entire situation, what with the closeted gay thing and all.  

He's probably lonely, despite his friends. And maybe he's scared because this is something so basic about who he is, and yet something he can't control at all. Maybe he feels like he's up against something way too big to handle alone, but there's nobody who can help, nobody even to talk to.

Junno can't really help, either. But... maybe he can at least make Ryo feel not quite so alone.

When he gets home that evening, Junno finds an online florist and sends Ryo a small bouquet of bright, cheerful spring flowers. The card reads "Don't worry! Everything will work out in the end."

He doesn't sign his name, but he guesses it's pretty obvious who the flowers are from. Can't be helped, and anyway it may be better than a truly anonymous gift.

Some days later, he sends chocolates, and the week after that he sends an assortment of nuts, wasabi peas, chips and rice crackers. He calls some people and manages to get hold of a pair of tickets to the sold-out Green Day concert in Tokyo and sends them to Ryo.   

In the end it turns out to be an average bout of being in love. Junno contemplates sending Ryo a text message once it's completely gone, as an all-clear of sorts. In the end he doesn't, though. Ryo might not want the reminder.





That summer, KAT-TUN and NewS are in a show with word association games and impromptu impressions and even a tug of war, and on the whole, Junno has a great time.  

On the not so great side, Ryo refuses to acknowledge Junno's existence. He doesn't look at him even once; during the word games, he turns away, puts a hand in front of his face, and mumbles unintelligibly at a fake plant in the corner. Asking him to repeat what he said makes him hunch over and mumble more, so in the end Junno just pretends he understood and makes up appropriate responses for Ryo himself. 

Maybe the flowers weren't such a great idea. Oh well. Junno's just glad he's not in love with Ryo anymore.

The next time Ryo waylays Junno in a corridor, he doesn't drag him off into any rooms. He looks less angry, too, though still every bit as tense. Junno feels bad for him; it seems he hasn't found a way to be happy yet.

"Uhm," says Ryo. And then, nothing.

"Hi, Ryo-chan!" Junno says brightly when it appears that nothing else is forthcoming. "The new Kanjani8 song is great. It's so zippy! And the choreography is pretty cool, and you all seem to really –"

"Taguchi. Junno – Junnosuke-kun. Would. So there's this, uhm. Movie. That. If. Maybe."

And Ryo swings around and strides away quickly and purposefully, leaving Junno to stare after him in confusion.

Two hours later Ryo sends him a text message reading "If you want flowers, go out with me."

Much later than that Junno will reflect that it's kind of absurd Ryo had the gall to complain about the way Junno falls in love, considering. And Ryo will glower at him and punch him in the arm and invite him to shut the fuck up.





Junno never does find out which underlying constants govern how and why and with whom he falls in love. That's okay though, because he discovers something more important: how to stop it from happening once and for all.

It's different, this new thing. It's not so sudden, and it's not so lonely. It's also more of a chronic condition than a passing bout. But that's okay too, because it doesn't make him miserable at all. 



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