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 ballroom dance. It's a story about trust, equality, and learning to walk in another person's hard shoes.
Author Notes: This is going to be a 2-chapter update! Aren't you so happy? XDD Why the extra chapter? Well, read this chapter and you'll see.
Chapter 4 - Closed Position
Nino proved to be a faster learner than any student Ohno has ever taught. At first, Ohno became worried they might not catch up. He had to remind himself that he wasn't teaching just any regular class session. Ohno has to teach a beginner in order for them to win in less than two months. Nino had to learn nearly all the terminologies of ball dancing in less time than a regular student. Ohno tried keeping it to a minimum and focused on simpler steps such as the waltz or the cha-cha. But Nino showed what he was worth, and Ohno grew excited. It was nice to see a student show positive results for a change. Ohno started to have faith in his teaching methods. Before, he bitterly thought Mitsu was right and that he was a lousy instructor. But with Nino around, learning and excelling far more than anyone, Ohno gained back his confidence.
"One and two and three," Ohno counted out loud.
Ohno watched from afar and circled around his student. Nino followed his counts and placed his foot perfectly on cue. He taught Nino a simple waltz step that he can practice by himself, and Ohno checked to see if Nino's balance and coordination were on spot. Nino danced across the studio naturally. Ohno didn't doubt Nino for a second.
"Excellent!" Ohno clapped. "Great work."
"Thanks," Nino panted slightly.
"We can take a short break."
"Umm, Ohno," Nino slowly approached him. "There's something I want to ask you."
Ohno drank from his water bottle, swallowed, and closed the cap before he answered. "Sure. What's up?"
Nino went for his bag against the wall and pulled out a flyer. "My...uh, well, a friend of mine told me there's going to be a dance event next week. It's ballroom style dancing." He handed the dance advertisement to Ohno who scanned through the page. "It's not a competition, so there's no pressure of winning any prize. But there will be judges. And my friend said a lot of performers for the upcoming competition will be going to this event to check up on their dance routine."
"I see," Ohno nodded.
"I was thinking maybe we could attend," Nino grinned nervously. "I know we don't have a dance routine yet, but maybe it'll be good to see who else will be coming to the competition and know what we're up against."
Actually, Ohno knew about the event. Similar dance events happened every quarter of the year. They were normally called dance festivals. Sometimes Ohno would submit his former students for pre-evaluation before their real performance, but he thought it wasn't necessary to attend this time around. However, if what Nino's friend said was true that future competitors will be attending, it would be a good idea to join. Ohno valued other judges' opinions. It would help him spot any mistakes and patch up Nino's practice.
Ohno's lips frowned but his eyebrows raised up. His approval face. "Alright. We'll go to this event."
"Really?! That's great! I promise I won't let you down!"
Ohno set aside the flyer and glanced back at his student. "I think we're ready for a harder style."
Nino grinned eagerly.
"How do you feel about the salsa?"
Nino shrugged. "I prefer cheese dip."
Ohno lightly smacked his hand on Nino's head. "Idiot. It's not a dipping...well, there is a move where you dip the other partner...but you know what I mean!"
"Sorry," Nino giggled behind his hand. "I couldn't help myself."
Ohno sighed, but he got used to Nino's jokes. He learned that Nino, aside from being a very passionate dancer and an excellent learner, was quite the playful type. During practice, Nino would giggle a lot and fidget around like a child unable to stand still. Ohno remembered the first time he saw Nino dancing in the streets. He has the ability to attract the audience by teasing them like a magician luring in the victim. Nino was light and quick on his feet, and Ohno wanted to exploit that.
"The salsa is a little different from what we've practiced," Ohno said, walking towards his music stereo. "It's a type of dance that requires a lot of weight shifting. The footwork is fast paced. There's lots of hip turnings and hand movements, and yet we maintain our upper body almost on the same level."
Ohno picked the perfect music number. Nino stepped back to watch Ohno demonstrate a solo performance. Immediately when the drums started, Ohno positioned his arms and legs to start with a spin. Nino's eyes widen a bit at how fast Ohno's feet turned; his legs reached out far but then quickly drew back. The trumpets blared throughout the studio, and Ohno twisted and twirled his arms in an elegant wave. Soon, his feet were nearly a blur as they crisscross each other. Yet, Ohno didn't trip or stumbled once. Nino couldn't help but smile as he watched Ohno danced beautifully with vibrate energy.
When the music ended, Nino clapped his hands to Ohno. "That's amazing! You know, I wouldn't mind dancing something like that."
"That's good," Ohno panted with his hands on his hips, "but it takes a lot of work. If we want to make it in time for the dance event, we gotta start working right away." He opened his arms and beckoned Nino. "Now, come here."
Suddenly, Nino felt his heart skip a beat. "W-wait. Now that I think about it...doesn't the salsa usually dance in pairs with a male and female?"
Ohno chuckled. "Yes, it's normally done with male and female, but it's not required."
"There's no gender restriction to dancing," Ohno said. "Not that I'm aware of. All I know is that there has to be a lead and a follower. Since I'm teaching you this dance, I want you to follow me."
"O-oh," Nino stuttered. "Okay then."
Nino approached his dance instructor almost timidly. Ohno had a calm smile on his lips as Nino came close, and their personal space grew smaller. For the past few days since he started dancing, Nino had thought he was taller. Of course, he wasn't so close to Ohno before to compare height. Ohno would usually show him a move, and Nino would mimic from a distance. But now that they stood barely centimeters from each other, it surprised Nino to see Ohno was actually taller.
It was rather strange...
"First," Ohno began, "salsa partners do lots of communication with their hands. This is the open position."
Ohno held both of Nino's hands. Their arms relaxed with their elbows bent. It seemed simple enough.
"And this is the closed position."
Nino felt the heat rising to his cheeks as Ohno gently pulled him closer. Nino went stiff as Ohno placed his right hand on Nino's back. Within the close proximity, Nino could feel Ohno's body heat from his earlier demonstration. Light perspiration shined on Ohno's forehead, but Nino smell something that reminded him of fresh laundry. Ohno's breathing was calm, and Nino felt too shy to make eye contact. His breath felt so close...
"Your left hand," Ohno nodded towards it. "Place it on my shoulder."
"Oh...uh-right," Nino mumbled.
His heartbeat thumped like crazy as he raised his left hand and tenderly held onto Ohno's shoulder. He finally glanced up and saw Ohno smiled warmly at him.
"Just relax now, okay?" Ohno smiled. "And follow my lead."
Nino wasn't kidding when he said there might be future competitors at the event. Ohno spotted a few familiar faces that were infamous in the local dancing community. He was glad he came to watch after all. The spectators packed the theater seats while the performers flooded the backstage area. Three judges sat at the table upfront: a professor from a dance school, a retired ballet dancer, and another senior private instructor. They were the average type of judges, but their input were still valuable. With their comments, Ohno can re-evaluate his teaching methods for Nino.
The only problem was that the participants were extraordinary. It was no joke. These performers will be their rivals at the dance competition.
"Wow, did you see that?!" Nino gasped backstage as another couple bowed to the audience. "He practically hurled her into the air like some frisbee!"
"Don't expect me to toss you," Ohno muttered.
Nino started fussing over his open V-neck shirt. "M-maybe we shouldn't perform. I've never done something like this big! And do our V-necks have to be so low? It's almost reaching my bellybutton."
"Stop touching it! We'll be fine," Ohno said, fixing Nino's shirt again. "Just remember from practice. You memorized the choreography in three days! You've got nothing to worry about."
"Because I over-stressed myself wanting to make it in time for this event," Nino hissed quietly as the next couple took center stage. "I worked my butt off!"
"So stop panicking! It's not a real competition. It's just an exhibition dance. We'll be fine," Ohno reassured him. "If we make mistakes, we'll know what to work on for rehearsals."
"But I've only performed on the street! I've never been watched or judged by so many people."
Ohno grabbed onto Nino's shoulders. "Get a grip, Nino! This is how the real dance world is like."
"But even you said-"
They both turned their heads to the new voice, and Ohno's heart sank. Mitsu Dan stood before them looking glamorous, and rather revealing, in her shocking yellow outfit along with her macho dance partner who looked more like a bodyguard. No doubt she was here to perform as well. Ohno straightened his back and released Nino.
Mitsu acted surprised. "And Nino too!"
"Hey...Mitsu," Nino nodded back.
Ohno frowned. "You two know each other?"
"Well, yeah," Nino said, looking guilty. "Before I quit the bistro restaurant, Mitsu Dan was a regular customer, and I always served for her. She was quite devastated when she found out I left, and we met up again."
It was like a cold wave shocked through Ohno's system. He turned to glare at Mitsu who continued to smile sweetly like a poisonous dart. Nino, however, looked nervous of their stand-off, but he continued to explain their history.
"I know you two have some bitterness between each other, but Mitsu has been very kind to me," Nino said, as if wanting to convince Ohno of her good intentions. "She was the friend I told you about. The one who told me about this event and that I should attend. I didn't mention her name before because I figured you wouldn't agree to come. I know you don't trust her, but she helps me after practice. I would meet up at her place and that's why I was able to pick up the choreography faster."
A shard pierced through Ohno's heart at Nino's words, and Mitsu eyed at him as though she could sense it. Once again, she had struck him hard at his ego. And here Ohno thought Nino picked up faster because he was a good teacher. Almost at an instant, his illusions of being a good instructor came crashing down. Nino still needed more help after all. But it wasn't so much the private lessons that bothered him the most. Ohno was more concerned about another matter...
"Nino," Ohno spoke low; his eyes never leaving Mitsu. "Have you been meeting this woman at night alone?"
"Eh, well yeah," Nino replied. "Since you and I always end in the afternoon, I have to meet up with Mitsu at night."
Ohno fiercely grabbed Nino's arm and stared at him. "Nino...you must not meet with this woman ever again."
"Now, Ohno dear," Mitsu pouted with her cutesy voice. "Aren't you being a bit over the top?"
"Yeah, man," Nino frowned slightly, pushing Ohno off. "I don't know what happened between you two, but I don't see what's wrong if I ask her for help. What's the big deal?"
"You don't understand," Ohno said, almost pleadingly. "I don't want you to be affiliated with her!"
The announcer's voice boomed backstage. "Will Ohno Satoshi and Ninomiya Kazunari take the stage? Ohno Satoshi and Ninomiya Kazunari."
Without a word, Ohno pulled Nino towards the stage. Yet he could feel Mitsu's eyes bore into his back. When the light shined down on them, they took their places on stage. But Ohno couldn't think properly. Mitsu has been tutoring Nino all this time, and Ohno worried for the worse.
He has his reasons not to trust Mitsu...
The music started, and Ohno tried to focus back to their dancing. The first half was the easy part as they danced across the stage in a solo formation. The audience looked excited as they watched two guys dancing with vibrant energy to the salsa music. Everything was going smoothly. He counted repeatedly in his head and twirled on cue. Somehow in mid spin, he spotted Mitsu watching him from behind. It was only a small fumble, but Ohno quickly regained himself before anyone might have noticed.
At last, Nino and Ohno rejoined at the center in an open position before they carried on doing fast hip swings. They held their hands as they worked together in near perfect synchronized steps. Maybe they can make it through the end.
Suddenly, Nino pulled his hand too soon, making Ohno stumbled forward. The crowd gasped, followed by a few murmurs. Ohno quickly straightened himself up and joined with Nino in a close position. He could see the sorry look in Nino's eyes, but Ohno tried his best to smile for the performance. Only a minor step...just a minor step...
They spun for a bit, and Ohno saw Mitsu watching him again.
"She helps me after practice."
"I was able to pick up the choreography faster."
"I am a better teacher...you just never realized because of your stubborn pride."
Their ankles rammed into each other. Ohno lost his balance. He still had his hand on Nino's back, and they both fell down with Nino colliding on top of him. The crowd gasped even louder. This was humiliating! Ohno lost his smile now. He couldn't focus knowing Mitsu became involved with Nino's practice. In private, no less. And now their performance was a failure.
"Get up!" Ohno whispered heatedly under his breath.
Nino quickly stood, and they did their remaining performance with a few feet twists. They clasped their hands together and raised their arms to form a W as the music ended at last. There were only a few polite claps from the audience, but Ohno could see the disappointed looks on the judges' face.
They both bowed and walked off stage.
Ohno continued to walk until he was out of the theater room.
"Wait," he heard Nino call after him. "Ohno, wait!"
He finally came to halt when they were alone in a quiet hallway. Ohno still had his back to Nino, and he rubbed his face before he turned around.
"I'm so sorry!" Nino bowed his head low. "It was all my fault! I completely forgot to count when I should have! I didn't watch my footsteps, and I crashed into you."
Ohno was a little flustered. "N-nino-"
But his student continued to shout to the carpet floor. "I didn't mean to pull your hand so soon! I wasn't paying attention to the music, and I thought I was on cue but I wasn't! I was so nervous!"
"All I could think about was everyone watching me, and I was sweating down my chest like crazy! I was too conscious on my V-neck that I didn't swing my arms properly! And I didn't-"
His student flinched but still kept his head low. Ohno sighed. He gently held onto Nino's shoulder and forced him to stand up straight. Nino's eyes looked apologetic which only made Ohno feel even more guilty.
"It...it wasn't just you," Ohno uttered. "I also wasn't focusing as I should have."
Nino blinked a few times as if shocked. "Is it...because of Mitsu?"
"...yes," Ohno sucked in his bottom lip. "You see...she...we...uh-"
In the distance, he heard high heels thudding softly towards them. Ohno glanced up and saw the one person he didn't want to see again. Ohno dropped his arms to his side when she approached them.
"There you are," Mitsu said. "Will you be coming to see my performance?"
"Oh," Nino mumbled. "Of course. I'll be-."
"No," Ohno cut him off. "He won't be going."
Mitsu raised an eyebrow at him, and then she quickly hooked Nino's arm. "Come on, Nino." She said, while flirtatiously stroking her finger up and down his arm. "Let's go back to the theater."
Nino glanced back at Ohno. "Let's just stick around to see the others' performance."
But Ohno jumped in and wrenched Mitsu's hold on Nino. "I'm warning you," he pointed at Mitsu. "Don't even touch him."
"What the hell, man?" Nino scowled. "It's not her fault our performance flopped."
"We're leaving," Ohno ended.
Even as he walked away, he could hear Nino apologizing to Mitsu.
When their scores arrived in the mail, Ohno expected the worse. The judges spotted their flaws dead on since the beginning of their routine. Ohno pinched the bridge of his nose as he tried to relieve a headache.
A week has passed since the dance event. A wall seemed to build up between him and Nino, and Ohno has yet found a way to break the tension between them. Ohno was also going through a frustrating period. He kept changing their dancing routine to new forms of style, but nothing seems to settle in. Something didn't felt right when they danced together. Something was missing. Something was off.
It wasn't until for a long time did Ohno realized that Nino's trust in him was fading.
Nino started coming to practice late. During stretching minutes, it was nothing but silence in the studio when it used to be filled with Nino's giggling and Ohno's annoyed grunting. It seemed like only Ohno was the one talking and counting out loud, and Nino would leave without saying a word.
The door opened, and Ohno watched Nino enter the studio with his shoulder bag but dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt. Ohno frowned at the sight, and he exited his office. His thick-soled dance shoes clicked loudly across the floor compare to Nino's soft sneakers.
"Why aren't you in your dance clothes?" Ohno immediately asked.
Nino remained silent and listlessly glanced away.
"And it's over an hour since practice started!" Ohno said, his voice slightly raised. "Why are you coming in late?"
"It's alright. I got it," Nino answered. "The samba is no different than the mambo. They might as well be called the same damn thing. Unless we're changing the style again."
Ohno's brow furrowed deeply. "What's with this attitude of yours? We are training hard to win this competition. It was your dream to go to America and get into a good dancing school. Why are you lacking determination?"
Nino puffed up and faced him. "I am determine! I will win the competition and get into the best dancing school. Just not with you!"
Ohno feared this would happen ever since their last performance. He had a feeling Nino would turn against him and leave just like all his other students have done before. He spotted the tell-tale signs of dropouts. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ohno almost anticipated for this day.
But his heart was breaking.
"Is that how it is then?" Ohno uttered flatly.
Nino shifted his feet, looking uncomfortable.
"Did you come here just to tell me that?" Ohno pressed on. "After everything that's happened? Did it finally dawned to you that I'm a lousy instructor? Did all of my efforts to reach out to you, spend hours with you, teaching you all that I know meant nothing?"
"What more do you want from me?!" Ohno shouted. His voice echoed throughout the studio. "I am giving my all! I am sitting there in my office, day and night, trying to come up with the perfect routine for us! All I ask is a little patience! What happened to the Nino who dedicated his time to learn ballroom dancing?! What happened to that spark I saw in you when you dance?!"
"I've got the dancing down!" Nino shouted over him. "I know what I'm doing now! I don't need to constantly come to practice to memorize another dance routine that we'll probably completely change later! It shouldn't be this complicated! Mitsu has taught me so much more than you have in a week. Ballroom dancing is easy."
"It is never easy," Ohno growled. "Why do you think I started this studio? Ball dance is always evolving just like pop dancing. So don't tell me you've 'got it down'. And I thought I told you not to get involved with Mitsu!"
Nino rolled his eyes. "Why are you acting like an overprotective parent? Just admit you're jealous of Mitsu being a better teacher. You showed me what I need to know, so I'm good. Mitsu and I have already settled on a routine. I'm going to enter the competition with her."
"So is this a betrayal? Has she taught you that as well?!"
There was a long pause before either of them spoke again. Nino's eyes were unblinking. "Thank you for everything you taught me. You are a good instructor, but I have to move on. And just to let you know, when this is over, I'm never going back to ball dancing. My passion is hip hop. Always has and always will. I don't have to spend so much effort on this style."
"THEN GET OUT!" Ohno yelled at the top of his lungs. He saw Nino flinched slightly. Ohno's face was beet red and boiling with anger. His finger pointed at the door. "Just quit already! And don't ever come back to my studio with that half-ass attitude!"
Nino slammed the door shut on his way out. The air felt thick in his studio, and Ohno had never felt so furious since his time with Mitsu. Ohno stormed back into his office and stared down at his files. He had worked tediously looking through dance styles and drawing out their dance routine. For hours, he spent researching and planning the best choreography that would bring out the best of Nino's charms. His frustration reached its peak as he knocked over the documents, shredded and tossed papers everywhere. His small office became a confetti whirlwind of ripped up paper, and he did not stop.
How dare he thinks he'd mastered ball dancing already. How dare he switched to Mitsu. How dare he used Ohno to learn basic ballroom dancing. How dare he enter the competition without Ohno.
And how dare he left without saying goodbye...
end chapter 4 O0O
See! I couldn't just let you guys hanging here! So read on to Chapter 5 >> http://arashiforyou.livejournal.com/55693.html
But before you do!
here is a video example during when ohno showed nino what salsa dancing looked like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y0LQL6MD0Q
and here is a video of two guys dancing the salsa. it may not be what ohno and nino did, but it's close enough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK7DfjF8ZbY
if you're wondering why i made ohno taller than nino. or why ohno is wearing thick soled shoes, there's actually a reason
explanation for that next chapter :3