Chapter Twenty Five: Dance Partners
Hiroki and Nowaki left the auditorium to head to the dance. They were holding hands, walking side by side, so close to each other they were occasionally bumping hips. Hiroki looked over and noticed Nowaki seemed to be particularly pensive.
"Nowaki," Hiroki asked softly, "What are you thinking about?"
The tall youth seemed startled by the question. He still wasn't used to anyone actually paying close enough attention to him to be interested in what he was thinking or note a change in his mood. His heart felt a flush of warmth at Hiroki's concern.
"You really liked Usami-san didn't you Hiro-san," Nowaki offered this more as an observation and less as a question.
As always Hiroki was shocked by the other teen's directness but she answered truthfully, "Yes Nowaki I did." As she said this though, she gave the boy's hand a squeeze of reassurance.
"I haven't wanted too many things in my life, Hiro-san," Nowaki mumbled, "but I know I want you and having the chance to be with you like this makes me so happy it scares me.
Hiroki was touched by the tall teen's declaration, but she felt at the same time as though Nowaki wasn't finished with what he wanted to say so she stayed silent, waiting for the boy to continue.
"Hiro-san I want you to be happy, so I'm feel kind of sorry that Usami-san couldn't like you in the way you wanted… but at the same time… it makes me really happy that that he couldn't …because now that means that I can," Nowaki said this with a convicted look on his face. "Hiro-san, I'm sorry that I'm so selfish."
Hiroki stared at the strange, wonderful boy beside her. She shook her wild auburn head, "What planet are you from Nowaki?"
Seeing the boy's perplexed expression she added, blushing mightily, "You know Nowaki, I know we haven't known each other for that long, but I can honestly tell you I don't think I ever met a less selfish person in my life…" Hiroki looked at the ground her embarrassment mounting. "Besides, I am happy," she mumbled uncomfortably. Her large hazel eyes looked up into Nowaki's heartbreaking blue gaze. "Very…"
Hiroki narrowed her eyes and her expression was fierce, "Got that?" she demanded.
A wave of relief washed over the boy's face. Nowaki didn't answer, he just looked at Hiroki and beamed.
The two teens entered the gymnasium where the dance was being held. As the couple approached the ticket table Hiroki immediately recognized the two girls who were manning it (or womanning it more appropriately). It was the twins. The twins weren't really twins but they were best friends. Girls who hung around in a clique known as the eccentrics: an eclectic group of smart kids and arty misfits who were always reading manga in between classes. Hiroki hung out with this crowd on occasion herself.
Today both girls were dressed in black, wearing matching outfits, except one wore a black tee-shirt that said EFG, the other girl's simply sported an X.
"Hi, Hiroki-chan," The EFG twin greeted, "Did you get that coding assignment done?" Hiroki had a computer class with EFG and she also attended an English class with the X twin.
"Ah, not yet, but I'll have it done by Monday," Hiroki murmured. The auburn-haired girl watched with concern as Nowaki drew his beleaguered wallet out to pay for the tickets.
"Who's your friend?" EFG asked with interest, switching the conversation suddenly.
"I'm Hiro-san's boyfriend, Kusama-Nowaki," Nowaki offered not just a little proudly before Hiroki could stammer out an answer.
"Hiro-san, that's a cute nickname," EFG giggled, despite the stern look this earned her from Hiroki.
The X twin was watching this exchange silently. She was the more pensive of the pair. Ever observant, she'd seen Hiroki's expression as the auburn haired girl had been watching Nowaki, so when the tall youth held out his bills for their tickets, X suddenly shook her head and tentatively reached out and pushed Nowaki's hand back towards him.
"You two sure are lucky," X murmured trying to keep herself from blushing, but not quite succeeding. "You're the one hundredth couple to the dance today," She held a pair of tickets out to Nowaki. "Free entry to the event is the door prize for that."
EFG's brows rose considerably in startlement at her twin but she said nothing.
"Really?" Nowaki asked looking both pleased and surprised (and of course incredibly handsome as always).
"Uh, yeah!" EFG said enthusiastically, deciding to support whatever the heck it was X was doing.
Hiroki couldn't help but smile just a bit at the girls' kindness. "Don't question it idiot, just take them," Hiroki admonished, reaching out and grabbing the tickets much to X's disappointment. The girl was kind of hoping to brush Nowaki's warm fingers again.
As soon as she had the tickets, Hiroki put her hands on Nowaki's back and started pushing the tall youth into the gymnasium's interior. Once Nowaki's eyes were focused ahead Hiroki turned back and mouthed "Thank you!" to the twins, who just nodded.
"He's really cute. Hiroki-chan's lucky," EFG sighed.
X rolled her eyes at her twin and pulled a BL manga out of her bag from under the table. She frowned as she looked down at a couple of well-drawn males embracing. "I like cartoon boys better," X murmured unconvincingly. Her hand still tingled where Nowaki had touched it.
"Hey bring that over here where I can see it too," EFG said. The two girls looked down at the manga, then simultaneously they lifted their dark heads, looked at the door Hiroki and Nowaki had just disappeared through, and giggled.
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Inside the gymnasium where the dance was occurring, Nowaki was sparkling almost as much as the decorations.
"Uuuuwahhh, Hiro-san this place looks amazing," Nowaki exclaimed.
"Yeah, I guess it doesn't look so lame," Hiroki murmured, though seeing Nowaki's enchanted expression made her heart feel incredibly warm.
"Hiro-san, would you dance with me?" Nowaki asked the girl almost shyly.
"Of course dumb-ass? Why the heck else would we come here?" Hiroki huffed, trying to hide just how adorable she thought Nowaki had seemed at that instant. She grabbed Nowaki's hand and pulled him out onto the dance floor, just as the song that had been playing ended.
The band picked up another tune in less than a minute, it was a slow song.
Nowaki and Hiroki stood facing each other. They looked at one another seriously and then both dropped their gazes blushing.
"Hiro-san, I wasn't kidding when I told you I didn't know how to dance," Nowaki said suddenly looking back up at the girl.
"Ummm…that's okay Nowaki, I can show you. Slow dancing is really easy anyway, mostly it just about standing around kind of swaying." Hiroki said moving in closer to the boy. Then she took the tall youth's hand she was still holding and pulled it to the small of her back. She grabbed Nowaki's other hand and did the same. Then she wrapped her slender arms around Nowaki and leaned against him, resting her head against his chest (as she wasn't tall enough to reach his shoulders).
"Just follow me Nowaki," Hiroki said looking up into Nowaki's warm blue eyes.
"Anywhere, Hiro-san," the tall youth breathed happily. Nowaki began to rock with Hiroki in time to the music; he brought one large hand up and gently stroked the side of her face.
"Dumb-ass," Hiroki muttered, and bowed her head against Nowaki's chest, but she was smiling as she said this and her tone was exceedingly tender.
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
At the far end of the gym, underneath the bleachers, Miyagi and Shinobu were sitting together, side by side on the floor.
"See I told you we could sneak in," Shinobu hiccuped triumphantly.
"Okay though, so now that we're in what do we do?" Miyagi asked looking at the little blond terrorist pointedly. He still couldn't believe that he'd let Shinobu talk him into this, not to mention he'd ended up spending the entire day with the younger boy (and though he'd never admit it, he'd actually pretty much enjoyed himself ).
Shinobu peered through the slats of the bleachers and then looked back at Miyagi. His face became rather sheepish. "I don't know, sit here and watch everyone else I guess," the tiny blond sat back with a sigh.
"This is the stupidest thing I've ever done," Miyagi muttered settling himself down, Then internally he corrected himself, "the second stupidest, the first was getting sucked into hanging out with this brat in the first place." He watched the smaller teen who seemed to be mesmerized by the couples out on the dance floor. If he wasn't mistaken, Miyagi thought the little guy looked more than a bit jealous of the other kids dancing.
After a minute or two, Shinobu's thin shoulders hitched as he hiccuped again, then the boy wrapped his slender arms around his stomach and groaned.
"I told you shouldn't have had that third double scoop," Miyagi chided.
"I know," Shinobu said miserably, but the tiny teen just hadn't been able to resist going back for more given the indirect kiss that he got whenever he cajoled Miyagi into taking a lick of his ice cream.
"What are your parents going to say now when you don't want to eat dinner?" the older teen scolded.
Shinobu looked at the older boy, his normally fiery gray eyes filled with an ill-disguised sadness. "It doesn't matter they won't be home anyway. My dad's always working and my mom's probably out shopping with her friends.
"What about your older sister?" Miyagi asked curiously.
"Nah, Risako has a new boyfriend now and she's always off with him somewhere," Shinobu mumbled.
"So you're pretty much on your own?" The older teen observed.
"Yeah, I guess so, but I'm used to it," Shinobu said, but Miyagi could hear the heaviness in the younger boy's tone that the blond was trying awfully hard to hide.
Miyagi didn't want to admit it, but imaging the little guy rattling around an empty house pulled at his heart. No wonder the kid was so persistent, such a handful. "Shinobu must be incredibly lonely," Miyagi thought.
He found himself, despite all the warnings his mind was giving him, sliding up behind the smaller teen, so that soon Shinobu was sitting between his legs.
Miyagi then wrapped his long arms around the boy and pulled the blond's slender shoulders up against his chest.
The little teen turned and looked at Miyagi quizzically. "What in the hell are you doing old man?" Shinobu asked hotly.
"Hush brat," Miyagi admonished, "I'm watching the dance."
The blond looked at the older teen with wide-eyed wonder. Miyagi gave the smaller boy a smirking smile.
Shinobu turned his eyes back to the dancers; he watched all the couples out on the floor and was surprised to find he no longer felt the least bit jealous. He let the music wash over him and settled back in to the comforting warmth of Miyagi's arms.
Once settled the tiny teen hiccuped again, but when he did it almost sounded like he said, "Fate."
"What?" Miyagi asked, lowering his shaggy black head over the blond's shoulder.
"Nothing," Shinobu said, snuggling deeper against the older boy. "Now shut up old man, I'm watching the dancers."
Miyagi chuckled lightly at having his own words thrown back at him. Then he tightened his grip protectively around the younger boy and the two sat together silently watching the rest of the world out on the dance floor, neither of them feeling any need to join it.
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Standing at the other end of the gym, also beneath the bleachers, Akihiko was likewise watching the dancers. However, unlike Miyagi and Shinobu, he had his eye on a particular couple.
Akihiko watched as Nowaki brought one large hand up and ran it through the back of Hiroki's hair. He watched Hiroki look up at the tall boy and he'd be damned if he didn't see the professor smile as she looked up at the giant.
The young author felt a deep grief in his heart, realizing that whatever it was that he and Hiroki had shared, while their friendship might continue it would never be the same. Despite the feeling of tremendous loss he felt, seeing his best friend Hiroki moving on the floor pressed against the giant she was with, Akihiko realized he'd never seen the girl look so content.
Akihiko was happy in a way that Hiroki had found someone who could give her what she needed: what she deserved. He resolved to keep a close eye on her and that guy Kusama, however. If the giant ever hurt her, he'd find himself having to deal with one furious Usami. Although the young author had a sinking suspicion that if anyone was going to find himself smarting… It would likely be Kusama.
"Usagi-san," Misaki's voice broke into the silver-haired youth's thoughts.
"Did you find Takahiro, Misaki?" Akihiko asked.
"Yeah he and his new girlfriend Manami were dancing up by the band," Misaki offered. The green-eyed teen scrunched his nose, "they were all pressed up against each other; it was kind of gross."
Akihiko couldn't help but laugh at the younger Takahashi's observation. He reached out with his good hand and ruffled the teen's chocolate head. "You shouldn't condemn it if you haven't tried it, Misaki," Akihiko gently teased, drawing yet another beautiful blush from the younger boy.
"So did Takahiro say it was okay for me to take you home?" Akihiko asked curiously.
"Yeah, he was a little worried that it might be a bother for you, but when I told him you said it wasn't at all, he was fine," Misaki replied.
"So shall we head out then?" Akihiko asked. "We can stop on the way home and pick up something for dinner."
Misaki looked at the floor and his blush increased, "Well, uh sure… Usagi-san, but I was kind of wondering…"
"Yes?" Akihiko asked patiently, as he waited for the other boy to spit out whatever it was that was on his mind.
"Well," Misaki stammered, "Like what you said… could we try it?"
Akihiko quirked a brow at the boy, "What?... Here?"
"What better place would there be?" Misaki asked, his eyes growing wide.
"I don't know?... A bedroom perhaps?" Akihiko purred.
"I was talking about dancing you pervert!" Misaki huffed, "Don't go getting too far ahead of yourself. I haven't even kissed you again since that day at the park!"
Akihiko chuckled at the younger boy's indignance. It was so cute.
"So?..." Misaki asked hesitantly.
"So what?" Akihiko pretended to be obtuse to see if he could get Misaki to say it.
Misaki sighed and turned a deeper shade of pink. "Will... uh… will you dance with me please Usagi-san?" the younger boy muttered looking down at the ground.
Akihiko caught Misaki's chin with his good hand and lifted the boy's head.
Green eyes went wide as the young author leaned in and kissed the other boy deeply.
When Akihiko pulled back he murmured, "Misaki, I'd love to dance with you."
It took a little arranging to work around Akihiko's cast but after a minute or two, the two boys were swaying together in the dim shadows under the protective blind of the bleachers.
"You know Misaki," Akihiko whispered pulling the smaller teen closer to him with his good arm, "If you're not careful, I might just fall in love with you."
Misaki blushed again and nestled his head under the young author's chin. Then after a moment of silence he looked up seriously into Akihiko's lavender eyes.
"Hands, Usagi!" the boy said hotly.
Akihiko slid his hand back up off Misaki's pert bottom. "Ah… sorry," he mumbled, though he didn't really sound all that apologetic.
"Pervert," Misaki said gently and then snuggled back in.
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Out on the dance floor, Hiroki and Nowaki had "somehow" drifted into a darker corner of the floor. It didn't matter to the couple that the song had changed and was now something much faster, the two continued to slowly sway together, lost in a music of their own making.
Nowaki took one of his large hands and gently caught Hiroki's chin, lifting the auburn-haired girl's face up. Then he leaned his dark head down and placed a gentle but lingering kiss on Hiroki's lips. His arm around the girl's waist tightened when he felt Hiroki slip a bit.
Hiroki damned the effect that boy's kisses had on her knees.
When Nowaki broke the kiss he waited for Hiroki's hazel eyes to flutter back open. When they did he swept her away in the blue tidal wave of his gaze. "Being with you, Hiro-san… the one I love… makes me feel so happy I could die," Nowaki whispered.
Hiroki wrapped her arms around Nowaki's neck and pulled the boy's head down. Nowaki's blue eyes widened when she captured his mouth in a crushing kiss that left them both gasping when she finally broke it.
Staring at him hard, despite how her cheeks were burning, "don't even think about it Nowaki," Hiroki said hotly, "because we've just barely started and we have a whole lifetime to be together yet."
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
So here we are at the end of this tale. If you have been reading along or have come along later, please drop a review…even if it's just and "I was here" to let me know you've read this. You have no idea how much it means to me.
Okay… so last author's notes:
Kristin From Italy- Are you okay princess? I didn't see a review from you today and after what you have been going through, it makes me worried. Also… don't be distressed about the twins my dear please. I promise you will have a special treat when I write your terrorist fic princess. Also, I am so pleased you noticed the canon inversion with Hiroki and Akihiko. It was so gratifying to write.
Theressa- thank you so much for the review. Glad you're addicted, but sorry that you had to join so close to the end. Hope you got my PM answering your questions!
Zanydrii- thank you so much for the review. I normally don't like gender benders myself so it means a lot to me that you even tried this fic. I appreciate it.
Cynical Duck- Thank you for the wonderful notes. So glad you enjoyed the fic and the added canon elements.
MidoriTenchi90- I know you're gone querida. But this will be waiting for you when you return. I've missed you terribly and it was so wonderful to have you back on this board!
Flesruoykcfog- Miss you dawg… check in as you can. You know you're my terrorist homie! Thank you for putting me on your alerts. I haven't given up hope of the other yet. I'll just keep writing. Glad you like this Shinobu so well… me too.
Chiharu Moka- well, it's not a full chapter, but it is something…
MissMysty- thank you for being such a great reader (proof) and reviewer!
Wafuruuu- glad you caught the panda barrettes reference.. Thank you so much for the quotes you have no idea how much that tickles me. Hope you like the dance! And thank you for catching that typo. Please never feel bad about letting me know about something like that.
X-wonderful reviews as always. Thank you for noticing the parallel between the characters thoughts in the recent chapters and I love your comments about the festival and the koi. I've been thinking about putting that in the sequel somewhere or maybe a thousand words one shot… we'll see.
Puppyfacetwo- I will try to keep you engaged in one of my other stories. Thank you for being such a faithful reader/reviewer.
EFG- Please don't cry sweetheart. All good things must come to an end… but as I said there's always a sequel and you still have The Escort. Glad you like my forward Misaki… me too… Glad you liked the canon inversion. It was so rewarding to be able to turn the tables I can't even tell you how good it felt. BTW- looking back at all these reviews you sent… can I tell you how much I love you… If you want to know go back and read chapter one.
Yaoifangirl 4ever- haven't heard from you for ages sweetheart. Hope if you're out here somewhere you're okay. So here's your fic… Thanks for the wonderful adventure.
BYE FOR NOW!