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.
Chapter 5 - Backleading
He had hoped they didn't resort to yelling. In truth, Nino appreciated Ohno for showing him how to ball dance. He only wished Ohno would stop wasting his time! Nino was so motivated to dance after he quit his remaining job at the bistro. He saw a golden opportunity within his grasp at last. For years, Nino dreamed of studying abroad in America. For years, Nino tried to remain passive even when others displayed crude behavior towards him. For years, Nino wanted to show them what he was truly made of, and Ohno was going to get him there. But at the snail's pace they were going, Nino wondered if he found the right teacher.
But then Nino met Mitsu.
At first, Nino thought two teachers could help him. It turns out, Mitsu was accelerating their dance routine faster than Ohno. Nino became fed up with the constant dance change when he was in Ohno's studio. In the end, they would dilly dally all day with the same, boring, simple steps. He knew Ohno was experimenting, but something should have clicked by now. Only it hasn't.
"It's for the best," Nino sighed when he left Ohno's building. "Constantly going over the basics is too much. I...I made the right choice."
"Then why do I feel so guilty?" Nino thought mournfully.
The next day, Nino thought Ohno was going to chase after him or call him on his cellphone. But Nino hasn't seen or heard of Ohno since their fight. Nino reassured himself that Ohno accepted his dismissal. It wasn't like before when Nino had a tantrum for doing nothing but stretches and aerobic workouts. He shouldn't feel ashamed when the instructor isn't suited for teaching. Just like any student, he had to move on. Nino would constantly repeat to himself in his head that this was his only option.
Mitsu's studio was about the same size as Ohno's, but with more students. Even though there was a good mix of male and female, majority of the dancers were male. This didn't surprise Nino since Mitsu was indeed a beautiful woman. Nino didn't pay much attention since he served Mitsu back when he was a waiter. But when he quit the restaurant, they bumped into each other again. They only chatted for a little while, and Nino slipped the fact he was studying ballroom dancing under Ohno's teaching. Nino remembered the little dispute at the restaurant and didn't want to get involved afterwards. But one day, she approached him outside Ohno's studio and invited him to come to her studio. Since then, she took him under her wing.
When he arrived at her studio, Nino waited in the back as he watched Mitsu instruct her students. She was kind and delicate with them. Mitsu would smile benevolently and make sure everyone was in good spirits. She offered praises even when a student fumbled in his footstep which was something Nino was not used to when Ohno taught him.
"He would yell at me if I messed up," Nino thought to himself as he continued to watch.
Another dancer looked lost for a moment, but Mitsu didn't stop the music. The dancer later watched everyone and resumed back into the right position.
"Ohno would have pointed out my flaws and make me practice the same damn position a hundred times," Nino thought bitterly. "Then the next day, he would change the whole damn routine."
At last, the class session was over. Everyone was smiling and bidding Mitsu farewell who wasn't breaking so much as a single sweat drop. She was as pretty as a porcelain doll.
"Ohno and I were practically dying every time we finish practice," Nino remembered sourly. He stood up as everyone left the studio.
"Glad to see you again, Nino," Mitsu grinned at him when they were alone.
He beamed back. "I'm just glad you're taking the time to help me win this competition." There was a playful coy look in her eyes, but Nino ignored it. "So...should we start where we left off?"
"I have a better idea," Mitsu said, walking towards her music stereo. "It's not the dance routine we're working on. I thought today we might take a break and let loose for a bit. Think of it as a celebration for graduating from Ohno's studio."
Nino frowned slightly, but he shrugged it off. "I suppose we could, but still..."
"This is just a chance for us to have some...bonding time," Mitsu smiled.
She selected a music tone Nino had never heard of before. It had a slow Latino beat with guitars and a bass line. Mitsu came up to Nino and held his right hand. She draped her other arm around his shoulders while his left hand naturally rested on her hip.
"This is call Bachata."
She began swinging her hips smoothly and waving their hands in small circular motions. Nino tried to follow her lead, and it was fairly easy when he noticed they were doing a simple pattern. With the beat, they followed a three-step move. On the 4th beat, Mitsu snapped her hips. Even though there was a lot of hip movements, Nino noticed their linked hands had a push and pull motion. Once he got the hang of it, he took the lead.
"This is...nice," Nino grinned awkwardly, somehow fitting in a slow spin into the mix.
Mitsu just raised her eyebrows at him. He noticed the bass line from the music helped emphasize her hip movement every time she makes a quick pop motion. Slowly and gradually, she drew her body close to Nino, pushing up against him.
"It's quite..." Nino tried to search for the right word. "...intimate."
"It's important that we trust each other, Nino," Mitsu said, now looping both her arms around his neck. "I don't want there to be any distance between us."
"Yeah, kinda like what happened to me and Ohno, huh."
"Oh, that Satoshi," she furrowed her brow at the sound of his name. "You don't ever have to worry about him. He strives to make his students picture perfect as if they can keep up with him. He doesn't know how to see through a student's perspective."
"He can be strict at times," Nino nodded.
The music stopped and the studio was dead silent. Nino stopped dancing and lowered his hands, but Mitsu still cling to Nino. She cupped his face in her hand; her body still pressed to his chest.
"Come to my place tonight," she offered. "I'll make you dinner."
Nino gulped and took a step back from her touch. "Thank you for your time," he bowed. "It's getting late. I'd best be going."
As he made his way to the exit, she called out to him. "I'll always be a call away."
He halted at the door to ponder at her words. He just nodded curtly before he closed the door behind him. This wasn't the first time Nino took note of Mitsu's behavior. She was hitting on him and he knew it; he wasn't blind. He noticed way back since the bistro. She always asked for him no matter where she sat, but Nino didn't pay much attention at first.
Until he started coming to her dance studio.
He admitted that Mitsu was a lot nicer and taught dancing a lot faster. However, he felt uncomfortable with Mitsu's forward demeanor. Nino figured it wouldn't be much of a problem if he just keeps on declining.
Ohno did warn him to stay away from her. Nino figured Ohno just didn't want him to suffer a broken heart, but Nino knew better than to get involved with a woman with history. However, Nino couldn't stop thinking of the desperation in Ohno's eyes. There was fear and worry, and Nino couldn't shake it off...
The next day, Nino literally had nothing to do. Without a job and no practice for the day, he lazed around in his apartment. The day seemed to pass by even slower, so he took it upon himself to practice alone.
Nino cleared his small one room apartment and began stretching.
Nino paused when he realized his speech. That was how Ohno would count during stretching sessions.
He rubbed his face and groaned into his hands. "Stop thinking about him!"
But even as he spread his legs further and further apart, Nino couldn't help but recall the times when Ohno would push his back to make him painfully stretch his hamstrings. Nino smirked a little as he leaned forward, surprised on how far he's come. Before, Nino would stretch what he thought was necessary. He never imagined it was also a mini workout by itself. He used to get sore from dancing in the streets and took long breaks until he felt better. Now, he can dance longer and feel fine the next day. Stretching was essentially.
Ohno taught him that...
Nino lightly smacked his cheeks. "Come on, man. He was slowing you down. You're better now. Focus."
He played the music CD that Mitsu gave him to listen too, and he started dancing their routine. It was a salsa number, but a little more advance than the last one Nino danced. He will never forget his embarrassing performance at the dance event, and he insisted to improve his concentration. He started off fine. He counted in his head out of habit, and then he spun a rather clumsy spin.
"What are you doing?"
Nino flinched and immediately bowed. "I'm sorry!"
But no one was there. Nino panted slightly from the dancing as his mind began echoing Ohno's voice.
"What kind of step was that?!" Ohno would retort at him. "Do it again! And we're not going to stop until you get it right."
Nino slowly got up and took a calm deep breath.
"Now, listen to the music and follow the beat."
Nino closed his eyes and opened his ears. The rhythmic beat thumped in his eardrums more so than the blaring melody. It was his count. His heartbeat.
"Open your legs more!"
Nino worked his way back and forth across his small apartment.
"Wave your arms! Imagine water flowing in you,"
Suddenly, he felt lighter. Nino stopped at the end of the dance verse. "Again," he mumbled to himself. Always. Repeat it again until you have it down. He followed the dance routine again with Ohno's voice ringing in the back of his head. Somehow, the CD music faded in the background. Nino remembered the time Ohno first showed him what salsa dancing looked like. He remembered how graceful and beautiful Ohno danced on polished wooden floor. Nino remembered the soft strong hands supporting his back. Ohno's steady breathing. His warm smile. The scent of his sweat...
"Let's prove them wrong. Enter the competition with me."
"Because...you are my only student."
"Then get out! Don't ever come back to my studio with that half-ass attitude!"
The CD music ended, and Nino sank to his knees. This was never going to stop. He couldn't afford to think about Ohno now. He has to focus on the competition if he wants to accomplish his lifelong dream. He has to get Ohno out of his mind. He needs the guilt in his heart to be erased. He needs to forget about Ohno. For good.
Nino picked up his phone and called Mitsu.
It was late at night, and yet Mitsu wasn't surprised when Nino phoned her. When he arrived at her apartment, the lights were already dim and she was in her sleeping gown. Thin, silky, and hugging at her curves. He sat at the edge of her bed, still fully clothed and his head bowed down staring at his feet. Mitsu gracefully lowered herself next to him, but he did not make eye contact.
He felt her hand on his shoulder, and Nino started brooding even more. The lighting, the atmosphere, the fresh scent of bed sheets and Mitsu's shampoo. The setting all together was perfect. Ideal.
And yet he couldn't budge but twiddle his thumbs back and forth.
"Nino," Mitsu purred.
He tried swallowing again, but it was hard to get it down. "Can I ask you something...Mitsu?"
"...what...what was he like...when you two were together?"
Mitsu was quiet for a moment. He wondered if he was being rude for bring Ohno up as a topic. Still, she answered. "Stubborn...but passionate."
Nino slightly raised his head.
"Dancing was all he cared about," Mitsu continued. "But he also has a stubborn ego. Did you ever noticed he wears hard shoes to make himself slightly taller than the female dancers? As if his pride won't allow him to be any lower."
Nino did remember those thick-soled shoes Ohno would wear. He remembered the first time he was in a close position with Ohno. The dancer instructor was slightly taller, and Nino had wondered why it seemed odd.
"No doubt he is an excellent dancer," Nino added.
Mitsu rested her head on his shoulder, and he still didn't budge. "He opened his studio because he obsessed over making everyone a perfectionist. At the same time, he wanted to appear above them. But let's be honest, not everyone can be a great dancer."
"Sure they can. All it takes is hard work and dedication...that alone can be a talent."
"I do have myself to blame for his behavior," Mitsu sighed. "He stopped trusting me and began to distance himself from others. His studio, however, was his world. His dream. He worked hard to get it up and running. Even as his students left him, he still wanted to keep it open for business. His passion for dancing never ceased. Forget about him, Nino. He's probably still sulking in his studio alone now that he has no students left. He'll have no choice but to shut down. He can finally face reality."
Nino quickly stood up.
"I'm sorry, Mitsu," he uttered. "I shouldn't have called you. In fact...I shouldn't have sought out your help at all."
And he bolted out the door, ignoring Mitsu calling after him.
How could he be so stupid? Ohno was the better teacher! Rather than moving on and glazing over mistakes, Ohno would constantly make him repeat the dance phase until he got it right. That was the right way to learn. That was the right way to dance. Ohno never stopped until Nino got the number down. With Mitsu, she would offer praises on how well he's dancing. Sure it made him feel confident, but Nino realized he wasn't improving anything. Dancing is not something you could learn in a week, it takes rigorous practice. Nino was too rash to see that.
And Mitsu was pocketing all the credit when the real teacher was with him all along.
Nino practically knocked the door off its hedges, panting heavily. Ohno came bursting out his office to see who nearly broke his door. Nino noticed Ohno wasn't wearing his shoes but white socks.
"Wha...Nino?" Ohno frowned slightly. "Why are you-"
"Put your dance shoes on," Nino panted, his voice low and breathy.
"Huh? What are you talking-"
"PUT YOUR DANCE SHOES ON!"
Ohno froze on the spot completely clueless. The dance instructor didn't budge, so Nino strode to the supply closet and found Ohno's hard shoes. As he thought, Nino saw how thick the soles were to make Ohno seem taller. Mitsu was right about that. He briskly walked back to Ohno and pulled him to the center of the dance floor. There was no light except for the lamp inside Ohno's office, and yet it seemed so much softer than the lights in Mitsu's bedroom. They were still able to see as Nino offered Ohno his shoes.
Ohno glanced back and forth between the shoes and Nino. Finally, Ohno reached out and took the shoes. Suddenly, Nino slapped them out of his hand. The hard shoes cluttered loudly on the floor.
"What the hell?!"
Nino slipped his shoes off and tossed them to the side as well.
"Now we can see eye to eye," Nino said.
He grabbed Ohno's hand and pulled him to a close position. At last, Ohno stared back at Nino, still slightly confused and agitated. They were about the same height. The sudden closeness and even eye level made Nino's heart beat faster. There was no music on; the studio was nearly mute apart from their breathing.
Nino wasn't sure what overcome him, but he took the lead and danced with Ohno in a simple waltz number. Ohno quickly picked up what dance they were doing and followed along. It was slow and close. Nino would pull Ohno towards a direction, and they met together again. Traditionally, they were suppose to look away from each other, but their eyes fixated on each other.
Ohno still had a confused look but with a slightly awestruck expression on his face. Nino tried to keep a neutral face, but the more he stared into Ohno's eyes, the more his expression softened. He was able to read Ohno's eyes better. Nino saw frustration and constant disappointment. Ohno was just a lonely man who only wanted to share his love for dancing. A man who was more than willing to share the prize money to a stranger. A man who will teach anyone willing to make progress.
At last, Nino lowered his hands and slowly pulled himself away from Ohno.
He dropped to his knees and pressed his forehead to the floor. "Please forgive me!"
"I was wrong yet again," Nino bawled. "You truly are the best teacher around. No one is more willing to work me to the bone to get a dance routine right. Your students may see you as stubborn, but you only wanted them to be better. You've offered me so much, and I have yet to repay back. I should eat my own words! I turned my back on you! I snapped at you as someone who only cares for himself, but I'm no different! I was arrogant! I was foolish! I was-"
"That's enough," Ohno said softly but strong.
Still, Nino was afraid to raised his head. He will never forgive himself for walking out the door. The competition was only a month away now, and they have no dance routine. There was no way they'll catch up. By all rights, Nino shouldn't even be here. Maybe it was wrong to come back in the first place.
Nino felt a gentle touch on his shoulders. Ohno pulled him up to his feet, but Nino refused to glanced back.
"Come on, now," Ohno chuckled. "Didn't you just said we can see eye to eye?"
Suddenly, his throat felt very tight and he couldn't speak.
"Actually, while you were gone, I've been thinking," Ohno said. "I admit it. I do have a stubborn pride. I wear those hard shoes so I can appear to be higher. I wanted to appear on top so that...others can trust me. It was a foolish idea to begin with."
At last, Nino glanced up and saw Ohno's sad smile.
"A lot...happened when Mitsu and I broke off," Ohno sighed. "I began losing trust of others, and yet I still yearn for theirs. I tried to avoid getting close to others for a reason. Then, I realized all I ever have left was dancing. I thought to myself...if one day I might leave this world, I might as well leave being a legacy. I became stricter with my students, but they soon left my studio. No one ever came back."
"I did," Nino muttered. Ohno's mouth parted slightly. "And I promise...this time, for sure, I won't leave until we win you that prize money." Nino suddenly felt pumped and a new surge of inspiration flowed through him like never before. "We'll do this together! We'll help each other reach our goals and beat Mitsu Dan! And I will trust you to the bitter end."
Ohno sucked in his lips, trying to prevent himself from crying. Nino didn't expect Ohno to pull him close for a tight hug so suddenly.
"Thank you," Ohno muffled, "...for coming back."
Things were finally turning around when Nino returned to Ohno's studio. They've finally decided on a dance number; they were going to dance the tango for two men. When Nino watched a video sample of the style, he confessed to Ohno he was a bit nervous. There were tons of tricks, lifts, and complex footsteps into the routine. Yet, Ohno reassured him. If they practice every day, they still had enough to time to work on the choreography for the competition.
After three days, Nino already needed to wear a knee brace. Ohno as well. The dance required endless amounts of strength in their joints, and it also consisted of close contact. This, however, didn't bother Nino at all. He trusted Ohno's direction. Compare to Mitsu, Nino felt completely comfortable with the limited personal space between them. But every so often, Nino caught himself staring at Ohno too long and bashfully look away.
"What is wrong with me?" Nino thought. "He's my instructor. I have to focus."
They had already memorized the first phase, but the grand opening required Ohno to lift Nino high up. They held each other hands tightly and practiced doing simple jumps. Each day, Nino jumped higher while Ohno tried to push him off the floor for extra leverage. It was a working progress and putting Nino's abilities to the test.
"One more," Ohno panted, sweaty and clutching Nino's hands. "Ready? One...two...three!"
There was a knock on the door.
Nino lost concentration for a split second. His arm gave in and he starting falling on his side, but Ohno quickly caught him around the waist before he fell on his knees.
"Come in," Ohno called.
Nino glared at the doorway to see who dared ruined their practice time, but then he felt his heart drop. The intruder at the door was the last person Nino expected to see again...
"No way..." Nino whispered.
"Sorry to interrupt," the visitor grinned. "My name is Sakurai Sho, and I wish to be a student here."
Ohno looked slightly baffled and then pleased. "R-really? Well, sure! I'll be happy to instruct you."
Sho spotted Nino, and his smile grew wider. "Nino!" He came strolling in and gave a tight hug around Nino's shoulder. "I missed you!"
"You two know each other?" Ohno smirked awkwardly.
Nino pushed Sho off. He could feel his face burning red. "I-it's not what you think-"
"We used to date," Sho answered happily.
end of chapter 5
To Chapter 6 >> http://arashiforyou.livejournal.com/56161.html
i bet you guys are like FINALLY! some arashi members!
i guess you can say the romance is gonna kick in next chapter. at last :3
this is kinda why i made a 2-chapter update. to leave you all at this point XDD
see you then!