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: The time has come where all secrets are to be revealed! Also, I'm sharing this sooner than I had originally planned due to school stuff interfering, and I want to get this out of that way so I can focus. Enjoy!
Chapter 8 - Shadow Position
By some miracle, the physician said it was nothing serious. Minus the abrasions, minor scalp wounds, and a new growing fever, Ohno simply needed rest. Nino still felt antsy. The doctors tried to reassure Nino that Ohno will be fine, but they couldn't give Nino further details since it was confidential. But he saw those medications in Ohno's bag, and the doctors weren't exactly hiding the intravenous labels as they administered the dose.
The physician ordered a blood transfusion, and it arrived within a few short hours. The nurses would walk in and out to check on Ohno regularly. They treated him with delicate care as if he'll break any minute; this only made Nino feel even more nervous. When the medic team finally gave them some privacy, Nino sat next to Ohno who was still unconscious from the fall. Sho was also in the room with them, and he stood far away from Ohno's bed as possible.
This irritated Nino.
"You won't get infected," he grumbled.
"I...I know," Sho said. His voice was low and grieving. "I'm sorry. This was all my fault. I lost my temper again and lashed out at you. And because of my anger, Ohno got involved and now he has a concussion...I-I never meant for this to happen!"
Nino glanced back at him, surprised at Sho's sudden change of temperament. He remembered times when Sho would rage on for days until he calmed down, but this was different. Sho went from shouting at them to concerning for Ohno's well-being. Both emotions were genuine and real like two sides of a coin. With a single flip, Sho can change. It almost scared Nino.
"I truly wish for Ohno a quick recovery," Sho said honestly, "but don't tell me...you still want to be with him?"
Nino could only purse his lips together. He couldn't find the right words yet, but Sho could read his expression like an open book. His silence told Sho everything.
"Nino!" Sho gasped. "He has HIV! What if he has AIDS as well?! He could have spread his virus to you!"
"Sho, I think you should leave."
"Just go," Nino said grimly. "Being in the same room with you makes me feel uneasy. So please...just leave."
Sho didn't make any protests but neither did he move. Nino still held onto Ohno's slender hand and watched Ohno's chest gently rise and fall. After a long awkward moment of silence, Sho left the room and Nino felt like he could finally breathe. In truth, Nino blamed himself for Ohno's fall. He was the one that came in between Sho and Ohno's struggle and pushed them apart. If he hadn't intervene, Nino wouldn't have to watch Ohno plunge down those stairs.
He grasped onto Ohno's hand even tighter and pressed them to his forehead.
He would have never guessed that Ohno carried an incurable virus. The man looked so healthy and so happy whenever he danced. But now, Ohno didn't seem as strong and sturdy as Nino thought. His great and beautiful dance instructor looked so frail and vulnerable on the hospital bed, and Nino felt utterly helpless. Ohno had always been so determined to get his studio back on steady ground. Nino thought it was admirable. Only now did Nino realized how much the studio meant to Ohno even if his life would be shortened. Dancing was everything to Ohno; it was all he had left.
And all Nino could think about was how he felt worried if Ohno liked him or not. It made him feel absolutely foolish. He brought Ohno's fingers to his lips and moaned. "I had no idea, Ohno...I'm so sorry..."
Everything hurt. His body. His mind. Yet somehow, Ohno managed to flutter his eyes open. The sunlight peered through his window blinds and illuminated light into the hospital setting. He groaned when he saw the IV blood pack hanging above him and connected to his arm. How long had he been asleep? A nurse standing nearby saw him woke up and immediately went to get a doctor. Ohno still felt drowsy, but he was able to tell the doctor his medication history.
It turned out he only passed out for a night. The blow to his head still gave him a headache, but the slight fever worried him the most. But the doctor said he was doing fine. He was still early in the stage, so the viral load wasn't as heavy. Because of Ohno's healthy diet and dancing exercises, his virus wasn't developing as fast. Once the doctors remove the stitches on his head and the fever to drop, Ohno will be free to go.
When the door slid open, Ohno raised his head to see if a nurse had returned. His heart sank in an instant when he saw it was Nino. He wasn't prepared to face him, but the young street performer had already came for a visit. Somehow, Ohno felt more afraid than performing on stage. He wished he had the strength to get up and hide the blood bag, but he figured it was too late.
Nino quietly sat down next to Ohno, but neither of them said a word for a long time. They didn't make any eye contact either. What can Ohno say? What was there to say?! He's sick with an incurable virus, and he kept his secret from Nino. The minute someone found out about his virus, they always distance themselves. He knows this from experience. One time, an overprotective father found out about Ohno's illness and that his daughter went to Ohno's studio. The next morning, Ohno discovered his mirrors completely smashed. Many students dropped out after that incident. If Nino was here because he wanted to back out, Ohno wouldn't stop him. He was used to it. Ohno clutched onto his blankets as if it'll help calm down his fear.
"My mother was from Korea," Nino uttered softly, "and my father was Japanese. I hardly ever see them. My grandmother from my father's side raised me."
Ohno lifted his head slightly. "What is he talking about?"
"My grandma was a mean woman," Nino chuckled. "She'd scold at me and blame my mother for stealing away her son. All the kids made fun of me because of my ethnicity. 'Kimuchi Kimochi' was my nickname. 'Kimoi' for short. When I was a teenager, I became aware of my sexuality. My classmates bullied me even more when they found that out. I tried to be rebellious and show some pride...but I didn't last long in that either. Afterwards, I learned to hide it as well."
Then, Ohno's brain clicked. "Nino..."
"I learned the hard way," Nino nodded to himself. "Even in my own home country, the people are racist no matter how hard you try to convince them that you're Japanese too. No one really bats an eye about gays because of all the gay celebrities on TV. But in reality, we're like the large elephants in the room. Without even getting to know me, they judge me for my background. I'm pretty sure it's like that anywhere I go. For the longest time, I never had a true friend. That's why I escaped to dancing."
Nino's eyes seemed to shine brighter, and he gazed up at the window. Ohno felt suckered in.
"Whenever I dance," Nino continued, "it's like I'm on top of the world. I can escape and finally feel free, alive, and just feeling... like me. And with hip pop, it's worldwide. The style can be however you want it to be no matter where you're from. No one will tell you that's not how you're suppose to act or this is the way you're suppose to be. All I ever wanted to do was shut those voices out and be alone all to myself. And so I promised to myself that I won't let any shame or stereotyped expectation bring me down. Just for a little while, I can forget about being a hafu or gay. So long as I can dance and escape into my world, then I'm okay. It's why I continue to practice it. That's why I'm still here and happy. That's why I still..."
"I'm sorry, Nino," Ohno choked. "I'm sorry I never told you about my-"
"No," Nino shook his head. "It's all my fault. I went to see Sho that night, and we got into an argument...and then you came and you fell. I shouldn't have gone to see him when I know..."
A pained look fixated in Nino's eyes. His brow furrowed deeply in thought, and he sucked in his lips as if to stop them from quivering.
"What...what happened exactly between you two?" Ohno asked.
"Well, he...we used to be a duo," Nino explained. "We met around the time I finished high school. He used to go to college, but then he dropped out to pursue in dancing. Back then, Sho was more...robust and daring. He didn't give a damn what people had to say about him, and he always supported me. His outlook on life is one of the reasons why I liked him."
"He sounds very spirited," Ohno grinned. "I guess seeing him again after so long must have been a big impact."
Nino smiled back, but then it faded. "But he was certainly blunt. Near the end of our relationship, things got hairy. I told him to go back to college and get a better job, but he lashed back with more verbal abuse. For a while, he was like that old man at the ramen shop. He was just upset because he couldn't find any work while I found part-time jobs left and right. I remember nights when he would just lay there surrounded with empty beer cans....he never hit me, but his words were more than enough. In the end, his behavior got out of hand," Nino's voice cracked. "I couldn't stand it..."
The young street performer had his head down as if the past still haunted him. Ohno could only assumed that Nino had really loved Sho if he still felt troubled about the past. The more he thought about it, the more Ohno came to realize he knew very little about Nino—aside from his dancing skills. And Nino also didn't know much about Ohno. Even after their pep talks about trusting each other, they still kept their most darkest secrets from each other.
"Ohno, I don't care that you have HIV," Nino spoke after the long pause. "I...I still love you."
"It doesn't bother me!" Nino interrupted. "It doesn't scare me. People who have HIV can still live a long life, right? I'll still be here for you. I'll be here to support you! I won't run away, and I'll continue to be your dance partner. We could even...we could..."
"Nino, don't you want to know how I got HIV?" Ohno asked gravely.
"...you don't have to if you don't want to," Nino answered timidly.
"But you told me your story," Ohno grinned warmly. "I think it's only fair I tell you mine."
Nino slowly raised his head up. Ohno could tell he wanted to know, but Nino was too modest to ask for the truth. He was indeed a good student.
"Do you know how HIV is transmitted?" Ohno asked.
"Eh, I know you can get it through needles, or genetics, or..."
"Sex," Ohno finished for him. He waited for Nino to think for a bit until he saw the shocked look on Nino's face.
"It was Mitsu!" Nino gasped. "That's why you didn't want me to get involved with her. She...she-"
"She was my patient zero," Ohno sighed. "After about a month since we started dating, I came down with a bad flu. I thought it was normal because it was in season." Ohno's frown deepened. "But it never went away. I got worse until I collapsed one day in front of my students. When I woke up, the doctor told me what I had."
"Why didn't Mitsu tell you?" Nino asked.
"Because she was angry when she was diagnosed," Ohno grumbled. "Mitsu has a twisted way of repaying back to the world. If her life must be miserable, everyone else around her should be too. At least, that was the reason she told me. She targeted me and thought I was just a fun toy. But I had actually..."
Ohno's anger was about to peer over the top of his head, but he slammed his tight fist down on his bed. He calmed himself down after taking a slow deep breath and covered his eyes. Nino waited patiently for him to continue.
"I just couldn't accept it," Ohno moaned, lowering his hand from his face. "I begged to the doctors with all my might. 'There must be some mistake. This can't be right.' But they always gave me the same answer, and I always end up angry. Over and over, I went through endless loops and dreamed that everything will be alright when I wake up. But the more I tried to deny it, the more it caused me to sink even lower. For so many nights, I thought of giving up."
Ohno turned his head away from Nino for a only a few fleeting seconds. When he was sure his eyes were dry, Ohno turned back.
"Then, I realized it shouldn't be like this," he continued. "Even after I felt cheated and used, I didn't want to wallow in despair that one day I might die young. Somehow, I overcome and I continued running my studio. For the most part, things did seem normal. Some female dancers would approach me, but I always turn them down. They shouldn't have what I have, and I certainly didn't want to be someone like Mitsu."
Ohno turned to gaze hard at Nino. "But now more than ever, I wanted to leave something behind before I die. When I realized my life might be shortened, I pushed my students harder. Many left because of my changed demeanor, and I got frustrated. But having this virus has taught me that you can never know a person just by looking on the outside."
Ohno reached out and grabbed Nino's hands. "I'm sorry, Nino. I...I can't return your feelings. I can't be with you the way you us to be. But when I tell you this, Nino, I mean it. You have been the most wonderful student I ever had. I will never discriminate you for what you are nor do I intend to. But you should never let anyone put you down because of your background. You are a hafu, and you are gay....and you are also a dancer."
Nino's lowered his head to hide his tears.
"These are what makes you special, so stand proudly for it," Ohno said passionately. "Don't shun your ethnicity. And most certainly don't be ashamed of your sexuality. Don't hide into your hobby just so you can forget what society has said about you. Yes, everyone will continue to bomb you with expectations. But if you keep hiding into your world, you'll never truly feel free. Instead, dance so you can shout to everyone. 'This is who I am and what I love to do, and no one is going to take it from me!' Rather than hide your world, show it to them!"
His young student snuffled loudly. Ohno felt his throat growing tight as well. "As for me...I won't let this virus take me easily, but I also won't pretend what I am not. I am a dancer and an instructor with HIV. That is who I am. However, anything can happen to me, and I could get even more sick. When that happens, I might not have a lot of years left. So I will pass on my knowledge to you. It was your dream after all to go to America, right?"
"Y-yes!" Nino sobbed.
"Will you do me a favor?" Ohno asked, his tears streaming down his face at last. "Show them how to really dance."
The young street performer couldn't stop crying. His eyes were red from constantly wiping his sleeves against his face. Ohno could see Nino had a hard time finding his voice; the apple in Nino's throat bobbled up and down. At last, Nino nodded to which Ohno pulled him for a warm hug. A part of Ohno wondered what Nino was really crying over. Was he crying because Ohno rejected him as a love partner? Or was he crying because Ohno accepted him as a being?
He never asked, but Ohno squeezed Nino tighter.
end of chapter 8
To Chapter 9 >> http://arashiforyou.livejournal.com/56941.html
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