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.
A/N: Another early update! O__O Well, actually it's because i have this chapter sitting here already. so i thought "why the hell not?" XD Enjoy!
Chapter 9 - Freestyle
There were only five days left until the competition. This worried Ohno to no end because they still haven't finished their ending finale bit. He kept urging the doctors to discharge him sooner, but because of the fever that came while he was unconscious, he had no other choice but to stay longer.
Nino would faithfully come to visit even though Ohno tells him to spend more time practicing instead. Despite his rants, Ohno secretly appreciated Nino's kindness. This wasn't the first time Ohno stayed in the hospital because of his virus, and Nino was the only one visiting him every day.
However one time before Nino came during his usual hours, Sho had also made a visit.
"I'm sorry for fighting with you!" Sho bowed his head low.
Ohno was about to blurt out that it was fine, but then again if it wasn't for Sho, he wouldn't be stuck in the hospital. Ohno would have more time rehearsing with Nino. "Have you talked with Nino lately?" Ohno tried to change the subject.
"I haven't," Sho straighten up. "Which is why I'm here to tell you...I'll stop coming to practice so that you and Nino can have more time to prepare for the competition. Please use my evening hours for Nino."
Ohno's eyebrows twitched up slightly in shock. "There's...there's no need-"
"It's the only way I can say my apology to Nino," Sho explained, "without having to face him. Please tell him I'm sorry. I don't want him to think about it too much. He should be focusing on his main goal. I don't mind disappearing now. If it's for him...I'll back off."
"Sho..." Ohno uttered quietly. "It bothers you, doesn't it? That I'm HIV-positive and yet Nino..."
Since his arrival, Sho stood from a distance and shifted his weight from foot to foot. "I won't lie...I am frustrated. I've worked so hard to become a better person for Nino. But even after all those years, I still frightened him. But you did something I couldn't. You're helping him reach towards his dream. All I ever did was yell at him. I'm sure all Nino wants to do is forget about me and everything I've done to him."
Ohno propped himself up at bit. "I don't think that's true," Ohno reassured him. "You two used to feed off from each other. Even though we only had one lesson, I can tell from your dancing. There's a saying that old habits never die."
Sho frowned slightly. "What do you mean?"
"I noticed when you danced. You tend to have this playful bop of the head to the music," Ohno said, mimicking the action slightly. "I noticed it since it was more of a hip hop move. But my point is that I spotted it because Nino used to do that same move. Of course, I reprimanded Nino from doing that since we were focusing on ballroom dancing." Ohno smiled and nodded to Sho. "But when I saw you doing the same thing, I had a hunch you two were close."
Sho dropped his gaze and sucked in his lips.
"I don't think Nino will ever forget you," Ohno continued. "Despite the harsh times you had, I think you two had more happy memories than the bad." Ohno veered his eyes away as he heard Sho quietly sobbing. "Maybe in time...you can ask for Nino's forgiveness in person and not through me."
Sho's voice trembled. "Y-you know him better t-than I do. You r-really do love him, don't you?"
Ohno glanced up. Even after their scuffle at the park, Ohno believed Sho was a good person. Or at least, he is trying his hardest to be a good person. All Sho needed was a second chance and for others to be patient. When this was all over, Ohno will gladly help him. The handsome man wouldn't stop crying that Ohno tried to lighten the mood afterwards. Sho promised to watch their performance; he even planned to bring his students which made Ohno very pleased.
At last, the hospital released Ohno, but now they had only three days left until the competition. Before he left, the doctors gave him the usual run down: maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and report to the HIV center for having any sexual contact of others. The doctors were aware of his dancing career and told him to take it easy on rehearsals, but Ohno felt a little rebellious. He had to teach Nino the final step.
"We'll take it slowly, okay," Ohno said calmly at his studio.
Nino took a deep breath, shrugged his shoulders, and leaned his head side to side until there was faint pop of his bones. "Ready."
Their finishing act was a dangerous lift that could either win them the competition or fall flat on their face. Since Nino had the smallest shoulder width, it was easier to support him on Ohno's shoulders than if they reverse roles. Nino draped his arm around Ohno's shoulder, but his short hand gripped onto Ohno's shirt tightly. Nino kept his leg straight and swing it as high as he could. Ohno quickly supported Nino's waist and pushed him up and over his shoulders. Ohno tucked his chin in as Nino rolled over his back. His arm was out to catch Nino, but Nino's leg touched the ground.
"I'm sorry!" Nino quickly blurted out, walking off and smacking his face lightly. "I'm sorry. I chickened out for a bit. I'm sorry."
"It's alright," Ohno panted. "I'll catch you, I promise. Just trust me."
"I do," Nino moaned. "Of course, I do. I'm just...a little nervous. I've never done this kind of move before. Can you give me a minute?"
Ohno glanced at the clock feeling slightly tired himself. "Let's take a five-minute break then."
Nino went to his bag for his water bottle while Ohno went to his office. Nino continued to walk around his studio, spinning on his toes and practicing his rotation speed. Ohno was about to tell him to stop and take a break, but his cellphone buzzed. A text message came in from a number he recognized even though he deleted it from his address book.
"I want to tell you something important. I'm outside right now."
Ohno clicked his tongue in annoyance. What more trouble could Mitsu Dan want now? If Ohno could guess, it wasn't something good. But then again, if it was something so bad, she would take the liberty to walk into his studio and tell him right away. Ohno glanced back at Nino who was still practicing and cursing silently to himself. Mitsu knew they were practicing. Was it something she couldn't tell him in front of Nino?
Ohno left his office. "Nino, I have to go downstairs real quick. I'll be back before break is over."
"Sure," Nino nodded and carried on with his work.
Ohno exited his studio and descended down the stairs until he was at the ground level. He saw Mitsu was already waiting inside the lobby rather than outside since it was near freezing out. She still looked the same. Powdered face, red lipstick, and stunning wavy black hair. Ohno only gave her a cold glare.
"What is it?" He grumbled.
Mitsu smiled. "I thought I let you know I dropped out as a competitor."
Ohno couldn't hide his surprise. "What?"
"I'm not competing," she repeated, strolling closer towards him. "I was given an even better opportunity."
She stood incredible close to Ohno, but he stood his ground with only his head leaning back. She made lazy circles against his chest; her perfume clouded his nose.
"And what's that?"
"I've been appointed as a judge for the dance competition," she perked up.
"So this is a threat," Ohno scowled down at her. "You'll purposely mark us down so we could lose?"
Mitsu lightly patted her hand against his cheek. "No, of course not, love. I'm here to give you even worse news." Ohno went stiff, and she started walking around him. "The competition is rigged. The winners have already been decided since the beginning. However, I can change all that."
His heart already sank at Mitsu's words. Still, he glanced over his shoulder. "I don't believe you."
"Believe what you want, I am telling you the truth," Mitsu said. "As a judge, I can tip the scales to your favor...under one condition."
Ohno gulped, knowing it wasn't going to be good. "What?"
He could almost hear Mitsu's venomous smile. "I'll even the playing field at the judges' table...if you spread your virus."
"No!" Ohno whirled around to face her. "Never! I am not like you!"
"Then kiss Nino's dreams goodbye," Mitsu laughed. "And don't think you can get away by lying to me. You have a civil duty to report to the HIV center if you had any sexual contact. I will know because you and I were partners."
"The doctors can't tell anyone of someone else's medical history," Ohno fired back.
"Not unless my current boyfriend was a nurse," Mitsu curled her lips up. "You know how much they love to gossip."
"Why...?" Ohno shook his head. "Why do you do this?"
"Are we really going over this again?" Mitsu tilted her head. "I have no reason. Even before I became diagnosed, I only looked out for number one. Trust...equality... such meaningless words. I have no need of them. It's all about who reigns supreme. I will be the best instructor in the region, and I'm not going to let some STD stop me...or any another dance instructor around."
"...you are absolutely disgraceful," Ohno frowned. "Even with the competition being rigged, it was not enough for you. The lengths you go through just so you can torture me or some other poor guy out there...I feel sorry for you."
"You liar," MItsu glared back. "You don't feel sorry for me."
"You're right. I pity you more. Had it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason why you don't trust others is because you can't trust yourself?" Ohno asked. "You don't want to face the fact of what you are, do you?"
Mitsu crossed her arms looking annoyed. "That's ridiculous. I am HIV positive. What more is there?"
She suddenly looked helpless and small as if she hated hearing herself say those words. Ohno's mouth open slightly when he realized what a familiar expression she wore. After all this time, Ohno finally understood why Mitsu was so vile.
"That's just it, you only see yourself as a sick patient," Ohno said. "You identify yourself as something repulsive because others see you that way. It's eating away at you, isn't it? The expectation to spread the virus...an ill patient who will eventually die from AIDS. You've succumb to that stigmatic image, and you secretly hate yourself for it, don't you?"
"Save your breath."
"You don't have to be what they expected you to be!" Ohno emphasized. "I'm sure you can learn to trust others if you just show your true feelings. Sure you'll feel more vulnerable, but it's more reasons for them to want to protect you."
"That's the most stupidest thing I've ever heard," Mitsu mocked. "Say what you want, I'm not falling for your sappy speech. Trust is a waste of energy, and I have no use of it." She turned around and heading for the door. "This is my final offer. Either you lose to a rigged dance competition, or pass on your virus." She glanced back at him with a wicked look in her eyes. "If you love Nino, you will do whatever you can to make his dreams come true."
And she left the building. Ohno stood in the lobby with his fists tight and his heart pounding with rage. He didn't want to believe in Mitsu, but the thought of a rigged competition was unsettling. He had seen falsified competitions before, but he never had any power over them. Even if Mitsu was appointed as a judge, he didn't want to fall for her cruel plan.
Ohno was about to head up the stairs, but Nino was already there waiting for him around the corner.
"Is it true?" Nino asked, his eyes looking confused and lost. "The dance competition is rigged?"
For a second, Ohno's voice was lost until he calmed himself. "I don't know...let's go back upstairs."
Nino wouldn't move at first, but as Ohno approached him, Nino quickly turned around and hurried back to the studio. Somehow, the studio felt a lot colder than it used to be. A looming dread seem to fill the air, and Ohno could see it in Nino's eyes.
"Listen, Nino," Ohno said, his voice low and mellow. "I'm sorry I got you involved in all this. I should have known this competition was fake. For 500 thousand yen, I should have spotted it sooner-"
"Don't believe what Mitsu says! Maybe she's only trying to scare us, " Nino said. Then, his posture changed and became more hunched and small. "But if she's like what you've said, then I don't know..."
The defeat and helplessness in Nino's voice made Ohno's heart break. He wanted so badly to hold Nino close, but deep down Ohno knew Mitsu was telling the truth. It's hopeless now to win the competition, and it made Ohno sick to his stomach. Not only had he lost his chances of restoring his studio, but he had crushed Nino's dreams. Ohno will never forgive himself.
Ohno closed his eyes with his brow furrowed.
"Y-you know him better t-than I do. You r-really do love him, don't you?"
"If you love Nino, you will do whatever you can to make his dreams come true."
He felt nervous and hot under his shirt, but Ohno opened his eyes. "Alright then."
"Hmm?" Nino turned towards him. Ohno went to his office to grab his jacket and headed for the door.
"I'm not going to let them ruin your chance of winning," Ohno said, his hand still on the doorknob. "I...I'll find someone to spread my virus, and then I'll report to the center. Hopefully, Mitsu will find out soon and-"
"W-wait a minute," Nino stuttered. "What are you saying?"
"Mitsu has my hands tied!" Ohno said, turning around. "If she wants me to suffer the most, then I'll let her but it doesn't mean you have to as well! She knows that I don't want to do this, but I won't let her take away your dream."
Nino suddenly lunged forward before Ohno stepped out the door and grabbed his wrist. "You don't have to do this! What if Mitsu is really bluffing? You could change someone's life forever and it would mean nothing! Don't be like her! Please stay."
Ohno sighed. "And what if it's true? The competition being phony and all. Even if we find another way to win, Mitsu will not stop until I break."
"That's just what she wants you to think," Nino frowned, pulling him back inside the studio. "Do you remember what you said to me at the Morning Flash?"
Ohno raised an eyebrow, not recalling much of what he said back then.
" 'A great dance can win the hearts of many,' " Nino repeated. "When I saw you do the swing at that bar, you won me over. I'm sure with our routine, we can win over the other judges as well. We'll make it through this, you'll see."
A small chuckle escaped in Ohno's throat, but his smile faded too quickly. He really wanted to be as optimistic as Nino, but Mitsu's threat was too ominous. He started to feel sick all over again but a more hopeless feeling. Ohno wished he had the right words to comfort Nino like telling a child the fairy tales were real, but the guilt and doubt was building up. There was nothing they can do. They've lost...
"I'm sorry, Nino," Ohno whispered.
He veered his eyes away so Nino wouldn't see his shame. Ohno regretted he ever found Nino on the streets. He regretted for getting Nino's hopes up all these weeks only to send them crashing and burning. He regretted growing close to Nino in the first place.
Suddenly, Nino went to his bag and searched for his music player. Ohno watched with dejected eyes as Nino connected his music player to the stereo. A beat pumped through the studio that Ohno wasn't familiar with. One of Nino's pop songs, perhaps. Nino approached Ohno and pulled him closer to the center of the studio.
"Follow my lead, okay?" Nino said, giving Ohno a little shake before he released his hands.
Ohno watched Nino's footsteps for a few seconds before Nino stopped. He was doing a hip hop dance routine.
"But it's not our-"
"Just copy me!" Nino insisted.
Nino repeated his steps but a little slower. It was simple enough. Just a twist of the ankles and swinging of the hips. Ohno copied, wondering what Nino was planning to do. However as they danced, Ohno's worries seemed to dissolve into the back of his mind. Hip hop was more technically than Ohno thought. Nino made it look so flawless and playful, but eventually Ohno got the hang of it as well.
"You're pretty good at this," Nino grinned.
Ohno had never danced hard for a pop song before. It was actually...kinda fun.
"Ah," Ohno gasped.
He stared at himself in the mirrors, seeing the sweat building up on his brow. Nino managed to do the unthinkable. He made Ohno enjoy pop dancing. Even though Ohno believed so strongly that ballroom dancing was the superior dancing form, Nino showed him the steps. Ohno learned it quickly, and he enjoyed it.
Nino was proving his own point. A great dance can win the hearts of many.
"Let's go faster now," Nino winked with a smile and adjusted the stereo to the regular tempo.
Together—side by side, step by step—they danced to the upbeat pop song. The music grew on Ohno as well. By the time they reached the second chorus, Ohno started throwing in his own flair. His wrists and legs naturally snapped and retracted back. Nino smiled and watched him dance with a new blaze in his eyes. Despite being Ohno's first time, they were near perfectly in sync with each other. They complemented each other well, and flawlessly read off each other's body movements.
The music finally ended.
"Wow, that was amazing!" Nino clapped his hands. "You have a knack for this! You're better than I am!"
Ohno bent over, trying to catch his breath. When he stood back up, Ohno couldn't stop smiling. He turned to the young street performer and pulled him close for a tight embrace.
"Thank you," Ohno mumbled. "I'll never forget this."
Nino giggled like he always did and brought his arms around Ohno.
"I won't do what Mitsu says," Ohno nodded, still holding Nino and patting his head. "We'll definitely win. I swear."
end of chapter 9!
To Chapter 10>> http://arashiforyou.livejournal.com/57166.html
yay! student teaches teacher moment :3
now if only there was a video i could share of nino and ohno duo pop dancing -3-
i guess any arashi music performance will do XDD
so you're probably thinking "they could use condoms and just have some fun. everyone is saying that ohno loves nino, so why not?" XD
please wait for the next chapter
which, by the way, is the final one!! T_T