Title: Hard Shoes
Genre: AU/ Dancing/ Drama/ Romance
Summary: Ohno is a professional ballroom dancer. He teaches at his own dance studio, but it's in danger of going out of business. The only way he can restore it is by winning at a dance competition, but his long-time partner bailed out on him. One day, Ohno comes across Nino, a street performer who has the making of becoming a great dancer. The only problem is that Ohno has to teach Nino how to do ball dancing. It's a story about trust, equality, and learning to walk in another person's hard shoes.
Author Notes: A spin off from a short ficlet I wrote on Tumblr for Halloween. It started as something fun, but quite a few requested for it to be continued, so I made a series. Enjoy!
Chapter 1 - Ball Change
Ohno clapped his hands to the beat, and his voice boomed across the studio. "Five, six, seven, eight!"
As his students danced to the rhythm, he surveyed their footwork and coordination. They were sloppy. Every last one of them. No one counted the beat, no one watched each other's movements, and not a single dancer paid attention to him up front. Their eyes were glued to their feet with their arms swinging almost gorilla-like. Occasionally, a few dancers would look at themselves in the mirror but give no heed to their surroundings. They were suppose to dance as a group, but no one listened to Ohno's instructions. He stopped counting and placed his hands on his hips. He shook his head with disappointment before letting out a tired sigh.
"Stop, stop!" He called out.
The dancers heard him this time and stopped awkwardly. Ohno strode towards the sound system and turned off the music. The absence of the beat was daunting as the dancers saw the upset look on his face. And Ohno had no intention of hiding his fury.
"Can anyone tell me what phrase we're on?" Ohno started off.
No one answered.
"According to the music, we're on the chorus!" Ohno's voice boomed through the studio. "And what were you dancing?"
Again, the dancers remained quiet and stood there, awkwardly embarrassed.
"You all were still in verse three!" Ohno shouted, his anger reaching its peak. "Someone in the back was still in verse two! I was counting—shouting—up here, 'five- six- seven-' but no one was listening! What were you guys doing?!"
"Umm," someone rose their hand up.
"We've been dancing for nearly two hours straight now," she groaned. "May we please take a break?"
The other dancers murmured in agreement. Ohno knew he pushed them a bit, but their lack of determination frustrated him. He's glad people would come to his studio wanting to be taught by him, but their dancing was draggy and flat with no desire for improvement. And Ohno, who has a passion for dancing for as long as he could remember, found this extremely irritating. It was driving Ohno's patience. No one seem to have the spark that Ohno longed to see in someone's dancing. Not only did he opened his studio to teach others ball dancing, he started his lessons in hopes to find that one partner of his life.
But sometimes he felt that his efforts weren't coming across.
"Then go home," Ohno grumbled. "Everyone. You're all dismissed."
Rather than sounding sorry for themselves, the dancers let out a sigh of relief. This infuriated him even more, and he went back to his office. His students were rather happy to leave, and as he sat in front of his desk stacked with paperwork, Ohno couldn't help but feel ashamed of himself. He takes pride in his profession. Ballroom dancing was his life, and he mastered in so many art forms. The samba, foxtrot, swing jazz, paso doble, waltz, and so many more.
But teaching was completely different.
Too many of his students quit before making it past two months. Majority of his students were female, and hardly any male dancers come to be their partners. It wasn't that he didn't want female students. Ohno was more familiar with the male part, and he could see the frustration in his female students.
Thankfully, he met someone who helped him in that departure. But he was foolish and young at the time. He got caught up with an exquisite dancer until it was too late...
Ohno's cell phone rang.
A woman's voice answered. "Hey, it's me...we need to talk. Are you free?"
Ohno glanced out his office door and saw his students had already left. He sighed. "Yeah. "
He hesitated for a moment. "Y-yeah, sure."
"Okay," she said. "I'll see you then."
He didn't want to met her—it was incredible cold outside—but she was still his assistant. He slipped off his dance shoes and rubbed the bottom of his heels. His feet were sore and thick with callus from years of dancing. His personal dance shoes were thick-soled at the bottom despite it being unnecessary for dancing. But that was just his preference as well as his complex...
He changed clothes and turned off the studio lights before leaving the building. As soon as the cold wind kissed his cheeks, Ohno bundled up. He couldn't afford getting a cold since he gets sick very easily. He bowed his head slightly against the wind and headed out to meet up with his assistant. Along the way, he came across a small crowd at a pedestrian street corner. An obnoxious beat vibrated from a stereo on the floor while a group of boys danced in aggressive hip hop moves. Ohno only gave them a sideways glance before he continued on his way.
He never liked hip hop or trending pop culture dancing styles. They can be impressive at times, but Ohno didn't believe any skill can come from street performers. Anyone can pop-and-lock or do the moonwalk. Ohno vowed to slap anyone who say they can "twerk" it and call it dancing. To him, it just isn't dancing. Again, Ohno has his pride in his style. There is just no one that can match to him.
Finally, Ohno arrived at his destination. It was a local bistro restaurant that was smack dab in the middle of a Japanese cuisine street. Its loud red and black colors made it attract customers. He entered the restaurant and scanned the heads until he found the familiar jet black, long, wavy hair at a two-seated table. She sat with her back straight and tucking a lock of hair behind her ear as she looked through the order menu. He approached around the table and glanced down at her skeptically.
"Hey," he greeted.
Mitsu Dan lowered her menu and gazed up. A cool smile reached her eyes. "Hey. I'm glad you came."
Ohno only nodded as he took his seat. "I'm surprised myself actually."
He met Mitsu back when he started his studio. Originally, she was his student, but Mitsu noticed his struggle in teaching to female students. Thus, Mitsu offered her help. What started as a decent partnership became a secret student-teacher relationship. Then, Ohno broke it off with her. Mitsu was surprisingly understanding and still wanted to assist him in his studio. They agreed to never have any relations outside the studio, and Ohno liked it that way. Their past, however, was a dark one in Ohno's opinion. Nonetheless, Mitsu has played a huge part in his life that he will never forget.
"How long has it been since we actually went on a date?" She grinned. "Two...three years?"
"You said you wanted to talk about something?" Ohno asked, roughly.
A waiter came to their table. "Would you like a drink, sir?"
"Give him the Old Fashioned cocktail," Mitsu ordered for him, and the waiter bowed himself away. Ohno just groaned with displeasure. "Oh, come now. You used to love whiskey."
"That was before you and I," Ohno corrected. "What is all this? Calling me on my cell phone again, meeting up at our old dating spot, putting up with this sweet look. Just tell me what you want."
Her eyes suddenly turned cold and her smile dropped, but Ohno wasn't affected. He knew her too well and can see a snake trying to act like a mouse.
"I thought I try to be gentle and set up a nice little chat," Mitsu said. "But I guess we can't even have that."
"Fine then. I'll just come out and say it," Mitsu moaned. She folded her menu and stared straight into his eyes. "I'm opening my own studio."
Ohno lowered his gaze.
"Your business is running dry," Mitsu said matter-of-fact. "You're pushing your students too hard, and they can't keep up with you. And it's not just the female students. The rare male dancers that you ever get are also complaining on your teaching methods."
"Well, fine," Ohno leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. "Go ahead and start your dancing school-"
"I already have," she said.
"I haven't advertise my classes yet, but I've got loyal students now."
"But how did you get students if you never..." Ohno watched her until the pieces fit together. Her venomous smile was back as his mouth hanged open. "You stole me students?!"
"Let's not make a scene, dear," she grinned.
Ohno stood up "You bitch!"
The waiter returned, "S-sir, your drink? Is there a problem-"
"How dare you steal my business!" Ohno shouted, ignoring the waiter and pointing accusingly at the cursed woman before him. "Was this your intention all along?!"
"Oh, you just figured it out?" Mitsu smirked.
"You think this is funny?!" Ohno continued.
"Sir!" The waiter held his arm. "Please calm down or I'll have to ask you to-"
"Get off me!" Ohno brushed him off, knocking over the whiskey. He could feel everyone's eyes on him, but he focused on Mitsu. "Do you enjoy ruining my life?! I bet the only reason you wanted my students was because there was no way you could find students with your reputation!"
"Oh please," Mitsu rolled her eyes coolly, picking up her martini. "I am the better teacher at your studio. You never realized it because of your stubborn pride. You were the one who changed and became so pushy with your students. They came to me willingly. I saw the opportunity and I took it."
He was about to leap at her, but the waiter grabbed him again but with a stronger grip.
"Sir! You have to leave!"
"You won't get away with this!" Ohno roared, not caring that everyone was watching. "You'll pay for this! I will show you. I will get my studio back on its feet! And when it does, I'll be there to wipe those fake lips off your face!"
Mitsu only chuckled and replied quietly. "I seriously doubt that."
The waiter dragged him until they were close to the door. Then, the waiter held him still.
"What?" Ohno grunted at him.
"You have to pay for the drink, sir." the waiter glared at him and opened his palm.
Ohno clicked his tongue and reached for his wallet bitterly. "Take your damn money. I hope I never see your ugly face either."
The waiter kept a hard look but maintained a calm voice as he took the cash. "Have a nice day, sir."
Ohno wrenched his arm away from the waiter and stormed out of the restaurant. He knew he shouldn't have come. He probably would have found out himself later on, but Mitsu loves to rub dirt into his ego. Eventually, he will have to face the fact that no one is catching up with his teachings. He wished he could find someone who understands him from a real dancer's prospective. He once thought Mitsu was that person, but he was proven wrong. He probably never will find the one...
When he returned to his studio, he noticed the mail was left in his office box. It was the usual. A few polite students saying they're sorry for leaving, one new student application (but requesting for Mitsu's assistance), studio bills, advertisement, and a bank notice. Ohno's heart sank when he saw the last letter. He sat down, opened the envelope, and read it carefully. When he finished, he leaned his head back on his chair and looked up at the ceiling.
His accounting statements came. According to the numbers, if he doesn't have more than 100 thousand yen, he would have no choice but to shut down his studio. Ohno raised his arm and covered his eyes. All he ever wanted was to dance and share his love of dancing to others. He wanted to bestow his knowledge until the end of his days. But everything was crumbling away.
"Where did I go wrong?" He sobbed.
Not a single student showed up the next day. Ohno almost expected this, but he had hoped some faithful student would turn up. An hour passed and he was still alone in his spacious studio. He decided wasted space needed to be danced across. It has been such a long time since he had the entire studio to himself anyway. Maybe a little dancing could cheer him up. He turned on his favorite music and tapped his finger against his leg to the beat.
His first dance was ballet, and he always enjoyed its sense of free expression. Memories of his first lessons when he was a kid came flooding back. He remembered how strict his teachers used to be and bend his feet to the point he thought they would break. He placed his foot and swing his arms to give him momentum. His world was spinning and floating until he slowed down. He glanced behind him and made a giant leap and then another and another and-
100 thousand yen.
Ohno tripped. He fell hard on his hands and elbows before he slid across the floor. He rolled over and winced slightly at the pain. As he thought, even dancing couldn't get his mind off the dreaded notice. It still sat on his desk even though he carried it heavily in his mind. He didn't want to take it home with him last night, but it was all he could think about. He sighed and got up to turn off the music.
He strolled back towards his office and glared down at the bank notice. The 100 thousand yen black ink seemed larger than before as if taunting him. He slumped down in his chair staring at the same number, waiting for the inevitable doom.
That's when his eyes drifted to the advertisement mail peeking underneath the bank notice.
He quickly grabbed the ad and gawked at it with wide eyes. It was a flyer for a dance competition, and the prize was 500 thousand yen. Ohno could not believe it. This was the solution! If he could somehow win this competition, he could save his studio. Not to mention, a dance competition will help him gain more students. It was too good to be true.
But then Ohno read the fine print. The admission requires two dancers. The only partner who was as good as him was Mitsu Dan.
"Aaaah!" Ohno groaned loudly.
Where can he find a good partner? The dance competition was scheduled only two months away. Even if he did found someone, it was not enough time to teach and practice a routine that was worthy of 500 thousand yen. He opted his students out as a possibility since they have already abandoned him. Holding auditions will take too much time as well. How will he find a good enough dancer soon?
Ohno decided he needed some air to think clearly and grabbed his coat. The sky was brighter today, and there were more people out in the streets. He purposely avoided following the same path he took yesterday so he wouldn't be anywhere near the bistro restaurant. Soon, he came across a park where he spotted a group of street performers dancing for a crowd.
"No," he muttered to himself. "No way will I seek out their help."
But the crowd was larger than yesterday's group. He couldn't see what the performers were doing, but the audience was cheering really loud. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt to see what the fuss was all about. He maneuvered through the crowd until he saw a better view of the group. There were six of them wearing baggy hoodies, beanie hats, and loose pants. Ohno thought the "ghetto" look was ridiculous. Loose clothing should be worn for rehearsals, not for a performance. He shook his head.
Still, he watched to see what they did. One of them was tall and rather thick. He moved with no direction. His footing was random, and he could seriously work on his counting. Yet, the audience roared loudly as if they loved it. Ohno glanced around and saw the viewers were mostly young people, but he didn't want to judge the group so quickly for their lack of knowledge, and he continued to observe.
But the rest of the dancers were just as bad as the first one. To Ohno, it looked like nothing but flailing their arms around. One girl did nothing but pump her chest incredible fast to impress the male spectators. Ohno rolled his eyes and was about to leave, but there was one dancer kneeling in the back who hasn't done anything the entire time. The man was shorter than the rest, and unlike the other street performers, this one wore tighter clothes. Something Ohno was a little pleased to see.
Finally, the man stood up. Ohno assumed he was the grand finale. The audience started clapping to the beat. Tension was rising, and the man walked up to the center of the clearing. His head was still bowed, and his hood covered his eyes.
Then, the man exploded.
His footwork was nearly flawless. His movements weren't as sharp, but there was playful factor into his moves. Ohno's eyes were glued to him as well as everyone else in the crowd. Ohno spotted a smirk on the man's face as the dancer moved with the rhythm. The audience screamed and cheered at his tricky steps and contagious swings. Even Ohno was impressed. This street performer was different. The man was doing more than just memorizing steps to a beat; he was with the beat. He flowed with the music, and his expression showed through his dancing. There was passion. A spark.
He's the one.
He will be Ohno's partner.
The music ended and everyone applauded to the group, but Ohno only clapped to the small man in the center. The crowd slowly dispersed while a few were generous enough to leave a tip. Ohno waited until the crowd was gone. He approached the small man who captivated his attention.
"That was remarkable," Ohno said. "I've been dancing all my life, and I've never seen anything like yours."
The street performer turned around. His eyes were still covered by the hood.
"I actually have my own studio," Ohno pitched. "There is a dance competition coming soon, and I'm very much interested in teaching you." He reached inside his coat and pulled out his business card.
The street performer bowed his head and took the card.
"How about it?" Ohno smiled. "Would you like to be my dance partner? What's your name?"
As the man stared down at the business card, Ohno couldn't help but feel a familiar air about him. Then, Ohno made a small gasp as he realized who he was. The street performer pushed his hood off and revealed his face. It was the waiter from the bistro restaurant.
"Nice to meet you again, sir," the waiter nodded. "My name is Ninomiya Kazunari, and I'm sorry. I'm not interested."
end chapter 1
To Chapter 2 >> http://arashiforyou.livejournal.com/54924.html
i'm just going to say this now. I do not have anything against Mitsu Dan! XD
i just thought when they were paired in VS Arashi during bank bowling...idk i kinda like them :3
plus she has that villain look, so she was perfect XD