To Dance with Him
He stared at the door. It was gray and smaller than the rest of the office doors in the building. Not long ago he had been seeing this as a storage room. He had no idea that this very same room where the Dancesport department had used to stuff unwanted things had become a room for someone. Technically for people living far from home. But so far, there was only a person using it. Takahashi Misaki.
He sighed and knocked on the door using the front side of his shoe. His other hand holding the sweets the man earlier had asked him to give to the teen, the other one holding a paper bag.
He stood there, waiting for any response but there was just silence. The building was starting to get deserted since students, instructors and office workers were already heading out to their homes. So standing there with nothing but the defeaning quiet made the waiting longer.
"I'm soon breaking this door down..." Usami grunted.
Like a normal reflex, he threw all what he was carrying on his other hand and turned the knob. He got surprised that it turned open with a click obligingly.
Pushing the door open, a blinding white light greeted Usami. There were two double decks inside the room but only the bottom part of the one on the left side seemed to be the only one being occupied. He didn't step in though. He just observed, wondering where a sick person would be.
Just then a narrow door opened. And Misaki emerged half naked with only his pants on. He had thrown up on himself that he had no choice but to wash his chest and stomach despite him freezing.
For a moment, Misaki just stood there like he had lost the ability to move.
"Oh my god...this...this is the worst!"
Having the baby blue towel in his hand, Misaki raised it before him in an attempt to hide and cover himself. But it was all too late. Usami was there on his doorstep, and totally saw him without breasts like a girl should.
It must be the most stupid thing to worry about, having no breasts, but Misaki was as sure as hell had been busted by none other than his teacher and 'lead'.
Usami Akihiko had a blank face before stepping in and hurriedly slamming the door shut behind him.
The teen backed away, wanting to lock himself in the bathroom.
Misaki felt like his head was about to split into half. His chest was drumming, and he was on the verge of crying.
"U-Usami-san...I can...I can explain!"
The older man placed the stuff he was carrying on the lower bunk of the other double deck slowly. He then stood eyeing the shaking teen before him. Whether it was the fever or the fright that was making Misaki tremble, Usami wasn't sure. But he figured it was both.
The teen coughed for a long while and hiding his face in embarassing tears, he buried his face on the towel he was holding and never moved on the spot where he was standing.
The sound of the footsteps coming closer made Misaki go stiff all the more. He didn't dare take a peek and just hid his pathetic self behind the small towel.
A sigh filled Misaki's sense of hearing before he felt something on his arm. It was hot and firm and the way it held his flesh was enough to make him fall on the floor. He didn't even had the strenght to yank his arm off. In the end, he let Usami's hand lead him towards wherever while he still had the towel on his face with his other hand.
After a couple of blind steps, he felt the back of his knees hit something. With a push on his shoulders, he found himself seated on what seemed and felt like his bed. And one push again and he was falling into the comfort of his futon.
"I'm sorry...I'm sorry..." Misaki mumbled under the towel, muffling his voice.
Usami on the other hand didn't say anything. He walked about the room, towards the bathroom. And when he returned he had a small basin with a towel in his hand. The man didn't utter a single word. He just forcefully yanked the towel Misaki was using to hide his face and replaced it with the towel he wet with the cold water.
The bed creaked having to support the weight of two people.
Misaki almost shrieked when he felt the hem of his pants roll to his knees.
Not long, soft fingers started massaging his foot, softly and gently. The hands went up to his legs, squeezing the muscles, loosening the cramp and tired tissues in Misaki's limbs.
"You should really stop crying there, you know," Usami mumbled, still massaging the feet with blisters on the side.
Because there wasn't any sound aside from Misaki's endless hiccupping, it sounded even louder to the point that it was hurting Usami's ears.
Misaki pulled the wet towel on his forehead and plastered it on his face to hide again.
"Are you an idiot? Don't take it off!"
Taking the wet towel off Misaki's face once more, he folded it neatly and made sure it would stick nicely on the teen's sweating forehead.
"Cut it out."
Trying to pull his legs off of Usami's lap, he raised his knee only for Usami to smack it a little harder.
"Oww! You don't have to hit it..." Misaki sobbed.
"Then stay still!"
Misaki just whined there. All the whining and sobbing he had been trying to ignore for the last, eternity -like days had started spilling out of him he found it hard to stop.
"There's nothing for you to cry there, I am getting annoyed already!" Usami shouted, but still his massaging went on.
"But..." Misaki hiccuped and sniffed. "I am not a girl. I deceived people...you...openly..."
The two on the bed, Misaki on his back hiccuping, Usami sitting as he massaged the tense muscles, never in his wildest imagination that it would come to this. Misaki felt so sad, ashamed and embarrassed at the same time that his fever seemed to have just gotten worse.
Changing to Misaki's left foot, Usami without a hint of disgust held on to Misaki's foot raw and blistered skin. Massaging it gently, pressing on the sole and the skin that has gotten thick from all the dancing they did.
"I know," Usami mumbled as he started putting ointment on Misaki's foot. "I knew you weren't a girl from the very start."
It was like a spell that worked on Misaki. Or to put it better, those words acted like duct tapes shutting Misaki's sobbing.
"H-hai?" Misaki asked, lifting his body by putting on his weight on both his elbows. "How?"
Focused on what he was doing, he didn't look at Misaki though he answered. "I just know."
That made Misaki all the more confused. He secured the sliding wet towel on his forehead with his left hand while knitting his brows.
"Why... didn't you tell everyone about... me?"
There was a long pause. Even Usami's massaging had stopped. To Misaki's surprise, the older man slightly turned his head in his direction. Looking straight into Misaki's blood-shot eyes.
"That, I wonder."
When Usami reached out to Misaki's face, the teen thought the man would just check on the towel on his forehead. However, Misaki found darkness when all Usami's hand did was block his eyes as the huge hand hovered above his eyes.
"It's my bad for assuming you know how to ease tense muscles after hours of practice. Next time, when you feel something, speak up."
Misaki blinked inspite of the hand above his eyes. This gentleness was foreign. This softness was torture. His eyes hurt. He was sure it hurt not because of his previous crying. Not because of his fever even. His eyes started to hurt when something in his small, heaving chest started to ache. Reasons he was still not ready to accept but so willfully making his heart ache it showed in his eyes, trickling down on his hairline to the white pillow under his head.
The teen bit his pale bottom lip when he saw a faint smile from the space on Usami's hand before drifting to sleep. "I must be crazy."
It was Sunday evening. No classes, no practice, nothing at all for Misaki to do. It has been a one boring, useless day to the teen that when he saw the time on his phone, he finally decided to get out of the building and have some fresh air.
He wore a cap and the usual pink, cutesy shirt and denim pants. Leaving the building for the first time after so many days of being inside it felt like he was a turtle that just got hatched from its shell and was eager to run towards the raging waves of the sea. Misaki was excited. Though he was feeling a failure on the sides.
"I said I'd look for my brother and father...but I don't even have a clue about them at all..." Misaki looked at the afternoon sky and sighed. "Talk about wishful thinking, me..."
He still walked and walked, unable to decide what to do. He didn't want to go buy something or even go see something. Misaki knew the reason but he was too hard still to accept it. Restless at the sudden gentleness his teacher had showed him for a short time only to go back to the natural treatment soon after was disturbing. Misaki wished he didn't get to experience that. He would be better off not knowing Usami had a humane side to him. But there it was, the memory and the soft voice telling him to go to sleep. The careful massage he felt on his sore feet. And that faint smile as Usami said "I wonder..."
"I must have really gotten crazy...Idiot...you're an eternal idiot..."
After an hour of directionless walking, Misaki found a empty back to back bench and sat on it. There were various kinds of flowers in bloom in the flower bed and a water fountain in the form of a fish without running water in it. The dry breeze caressed Misaki's cheeks and before he knew it, sleep was getting to him. But his trance was broken by a girl's sob.
"I knew it. He isn't even treating me kindly but I still love him! Damn it..."
Misaki didn't dare turn around but he was sure that there were two people who had occupied the other side of the bench where he was seated. Making him an unwilling listener.
"Why Mika? Why do I always fall for jerks?"
The other girl sighed. Misaki could even imagine the look on the girl's face. "Yuna...it's natural. People who are jerks by nature who suddenly show a soft side can tug more heartstrings than a regular kind dude. It's just how it is. Because they're jerks you can't help but think about them, fall to them...I guess...that's what you call reverse psychology?"
The girl on the comforting side rattled on.
"You want to hate the person but end up liking them because they're a puzzle. You can't help but hope because why would they show a glimpse of their kindness if they didn't feel anything of something for you, right?"
The girl who was named Yuna, the one crying about falling in love to the jerks stopped crying. "You think there's a chance he really likes me?"
"Yeah...just give it time...he'll open up to you in no time...don't cry anymore okay?"
Misaki was tempted to look at the girls behind him. Those girls made the problem sound so damn simple and well, optimistic. Shyly, Misaki wanted to believe what the "Mika" girl said, only to feel like a stone had been smashed on his head.
"What the hell is with this script? So cheesy. Love in real world doesn't work like this!" Misaki smiled like he was about to cry.
"Yeah...jerks are jerks...what gentleness and give it time so that the guy would open up to you? That only happens in animes and mangas...COOL- ALOOF -GUY-TREATS-TIMID-GIRL-LIKE-HE-DOESN'T-CARE, TIMID-GIRL-STAYS-GETS-SICK-ALOOF-GUY-COMES-TO-THE- RESCUE-THEY-HIT-IT-OFF-AND-HAPPY ENDING. BOW. Really, that plot is way too old and simple and unrealistic! Though we can't help it, this is the script..."
"God I am going to barf..."
Misaki felt the bench move a little and realized the two girls which were just reading a script for some sort of play had left and went away. He looked down at his clasped hands.
"Isn't there...like some sort of exception though? What if, there's really a chance?"
After asking that, Misaki had the sudden urge to take the fish statue before him off its pedestal and pound his head against it.
"No, there isn't a chance..." Misaki thought as he dug his nails on the linen seat of some expensive restaurant.
He locked his gaze at the untouched cake before him. If he was in another situation, that mouthwatering dessert wouldn't even last for a minute on that plate. But Misaki's mouth was bitter and rough like he just ate the sand from the aquariums of the seafood restaurant they were. Even without him looking, he could still make out the figure of two grown men before him. Suho Takahiro and Usami Akihiko.
Misaki's illusions just got crushed. And he didn't know how to act on it.
It replayed once more in the teen's head how a red car looking hip and foreign had slowed down on the road as if following him. When Misaki looked inside the car window which the panes had been rolled down, he instantly saw his 'lead' Usami Akihiko on the driver's seat. But when he looked farther in, he saw the guy who called Usami as "Usagi".
The air around the car was tense and quite formal. And despite Misaki not being properly dressed, they, or Takahiro insisted they eat in that place and talk. After the main course of subtle exotic fish caught in some faraway ocean, the dessert had been delivered. Misaki was feeling off about the unnatural feeling but there weren't much people in the restaurant that gave him room to act however he liked.
That was when Suho Takahiro slowly placed a picture across Misaki on the table. His green eyes looked up questioningly.
"Please take a look..."
Leaning closer to the picture, Misaki felt his hair on his nape had stiffened. He looked at the photo closely and at Takahiro's face alternatingly.
"This...this is my mom..." he weakly murmured.
Takahiro who was sitting close with Usami smiled sadly. His business suit looked like he just went into a funeral. "It's the picture of my mom too in my father's room. The first time I saw you in that practice room, i thought you looked exactly someone I have seen before...I...didn't know I had a brother until our father told me before he died two years ago..."
Misaki just stared at the photo. There he was being served with the goal he was wanting of meeting his brother and father but he felt as empty as a shell.
"I was just able to put the pieces together a week ago. Sorry if I took time to gather the courage to meet you..."
Misaki looked from the photo to Takahiro, expressionless. "A week ago?"
"Yes...Usagi was with me that time when I brought the subject up with him. He was even the one who pointed out the similarities between you and the woman in the picture..."
It was exactly a week ago that I got sick...
"But I wasn't ready yet to face you...having a brother out of nowhere shocked me, I guess. And since I also initially thought you were a girl..."
Misaki abruptly turned his gaze at the silver haired man who was just listening silently. So he told him...
Takahiro grabbed Misaki's cold hand on the table and squeezed it. "I felt this connection when we shook hands the first time...even now my heart is beating wildly...because maybe of what they call blood-rush between family?"
The brother, Misaki could not call 'Nii-san' so instantly grinned happily, the happiness clear on his face. On the other hand, while Misaki's chest was beating like crazy, it wasn't because of the 'blood-rush' Takahiro had said. The more Misaki thought about it, the more the cake had become less appealing.
Of course he wasn't happy hearing that their dad had died even before he could see him. But Misaki had never met and knew the man that the pain wasn't as great when his mom died. One more weird thing was instead of the teen being happy that he at least got to meet the older brother, he felt so utterly miserable.
"I see..." Misaki smiled bitterly. "He became concerned and showed me kindness when I fell ill because a week ago, he already found out that I am that man's little brother..." Misaki couldn't contain it anymore that he had lowered his head and his shoulder began shaking.
"He was so kind with me when I got sick because of that...I'm so embarrassed. I am so ashamed I could die..."
When the trio went out of the restaurant towards the parking lot, Misaki inhaled warm feel of the surroundings. He had his head still lowered and his eyes fixed on his footsteps while Takahiro had hos arms around Misaki's shoulder. The parking lot was silent and deserted. Only the blinking lights of the lamposts with the flies playing around it was their other companion.
"Hora...Misaki-chan...please don't look so down. Aren't you happy that fate led us to meet each other?" the older man cooed, ruffling Misaki's soft hair.
"I'm happy..." the teen answered meekly, still looking down.
Takahiro and Usami exchanged glances before Takahiro ruffled Misaki's hair once more. "You don't have to call me 'Nii-chan' right away...but I am hoping we could get to know each other better..."
After a few seconds, Misaki felt the heavy arm on his shoulders slid off. Curious he finally lifted his gaze to see Usami and Takahiro exchanging a manly hug.
"I'll take Takahashi back to STU in my car," Usami assured.
"You really saved me Usagi! If not for a business meeting I'd want to spend the night with my little brother..."
Misaki couldn't help but scowl. The teen took a step forward suddenly, his face serious.
"Nii-chan!" Misaki called with a stern voice. "Aren't you going to ask me why I am pretending to be a girl? Aren't you disgusted that your little brother...your little brother...might be gay?!"
There was an understanding smile that formed on Takahiro's lips. He appeared like an angel of understanding that when Misaki sheepishly took a stolen glance at Usami Akihiko, he was sure of the admiration glinting into those lavender orbs.
"Misaki..." Takahiro started but then got cut off when a black car parked right behind the man.
The car windows rolled down, and a man with blonde hair and amber eyes peeked out of it. "Takahiro, you're going to be late with your flight to Hokkaido...let's go!"
The man glanced at the blonde and nodded before looking back at his little brother.
"Whether you're a girl or a boy or something in between, you don't have anything to worry..." Takahiro glanced at the man in the car. "Hozaka, this is my little brother Misaki...Misaki...this is Hozaka-san...my partner."
The black car drove off like a black shooting star. Fast and instantly it disappeared into Misaki's view. The red car was there waiting and yet, when Misaki looked up at the man standing silently near him, Misaki caught his breath stuck in his chest. As if his lungs had stopped filtering oxygen.
Just that look, Misaki knew, Usami Akihiko adored Takahiro, his big brother more than friends. That look said it all. When he thought about that deeper and his stupid, messed up emotions, Misaki didn't care anymore about being blunt or who was older or younger or didn't even cared about tact.
"Usami-san, you're in love with my brother."
The older man just gazed from afar, like watching was enough. Like it was something he was used to doing ever since the start. "You think so?"
Stupid...stupid...this is stupid...you look at him like that why didn't you say anything if you were bestfriends...?
The taller man suddenly looked down beside him. He got surprised when the young boy pretending to be a girl had started crying on the spot. Messily, noisely, the teen started crying as if he was frustrated with something.
"Oi...why are you crying?" Usami asked, about to reach on Misaki's shoulders.
But Misaki suddenly raised his tear-stricken face. His cheeks puffy, his eyes glassy.
Out of nowhere, Usami patted Misaki on the head, smiling like how Misaki remembered before he fell asleep when he was having a fever a week ago. Instinctively, he slapped the hand away and moved a few steps back.
"What's that for?!"
"You're a good kid, aren't you?"
"Ha?! Where did that come from?"
Usami looked up for a while as if thinking. "You were crying for me, right?"
"Who's crying for you? You narcistic king!?" Misaki growled. "I...I AM CRYING FOR MYSELF!"
Finally deciding to open the automatic lock of his car using his electronic keys, he pressed on the red button with his long finger and the car beeped twice. Misaki ran towards the back seat. But Usami sure heard something the teen had mumbled.
"Why do people fall to someone who already has someone else? It's cruel..."
Usami pulled the door to the driver's seat and hopped in. His gaze landed right away at the rearview mirror. He watched for a moment how Misaki was rubbing intently on his eyes before looking out the window. He pressed on the accelarator slowly as if preparing the car for a full speed ride ahead.
Being older, Usami didn't want to interpret things. But what he heard from Misaki with that face and attitude was as good as hearing "Why do I like you when you like him?"
chapter end notes: