Genre: Romance/ Drama/ Angst/ AU/ Music
Pairings: Sakumiya (main)/ Jun x Kiko Mizuhara/ Aiba x Yuka/ Ohno x Minami Hinase (broken)
Summary: Nino is an autistic savant and a brilliant violinist. The only hard part for him and his sister, who takes care of him, is finding a consistent and patient piano accompanist for Nino's solo performances. One day, Nino's sister finds Sakurai Sho, a man with a mysterious past but gifted in music. Together, the two musicians must learn to communicate with other, live with each other, and possible love each other.
Warnings: It's rated R for: sensual scenes (softporn), parenting struggles, sexual assault, divorce, character deaths, and mental disorders/illnesses.
Author Notes: (i told you i'd update soon!) remember back in chapter two how i said mental illnesses covers the broad range of illnesses like depression and anxiety etc...yeah, brace yourself
Music reference: Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 I. Moderato
Chapter 8 - Lament
"Sachi should be home soon," Nino said after finishing another concerto piece. "Any minute now, and we'll ride the Ferris wheel together."
Sho sat on the piano bench with a deep sullen face with his hands on his lap. Nino went about through his vast collection of music books before picking another piece for Sho to play. Nino propped the book on the music rack for Sho and turned to the page he wanted. Sho kept his eyes cast down; his brows forever knitted together.
"Perhaps she's doing some grocery shopping before she comes back," Nino repeated for the past hour and tucked his violin under his chin.
Nino started playing, but Sho didn't accompany him. It was already past noon since the police officer's visit, and Sho still hasn't told Nino about Sachi's death. He couldn't find the right time or the right words. But Nino was starting to get antsy. Two months was too long, and Nino kept repeating the same sentences every hour or so. Sho's heart weighed heavier and heavier in his chest each time he heard Nino say the name "Sachi."
It was even affecting the way Nino was playing. Before, Nino played smoothly as if he was patient and calm. Now, Nino's violin music was jittery and shaky. He was anxious, nervous, and worried for his missing sister even if he wasn't saying it. Sho couldn't take it anymore.
Sho stood up. "Nino."
For the first time, Nino stopped playing in the middle of a piece. The man never stopped playing once he's into a melody. Sho gulped and tried to fish out words from his mouth. Nino's eyes were round and slightly judging, completely and utterly oblivious of the possibility why his sister wasn't around, but the violinist still looked scared.
If only there was a way Sho could calm Nino's nerves and deliver the news slowly.
"L-let's go to the park," Sho suggested. "Just to stretch our legs. What do you say?"
Nino blinked and glanced out the window. The sky was still gray from the light snow last night, but it didn't look so gloomy. Even though it was winter, a breath of fresh air would be a good idea.
"Sachi might be waiting for us there," Nino said eagerly and started packing his violin away.
After they got ready, they headed out the door and walked along the path towards the nearby park. Valentine decorations hung along the street lamp post, and Sho immediately regretted this idea. There were a few people out also having a stroll around the pond, couples sharing warm moments under bare snow-covered trees, and the Ferris wheel was still blinking pink and red lights. But Sho didn't want to give up just because the lovey-dovey atmosphere made him feel awkward. The game stands were still open, maybe a few quick games could lighten Nino's mood.
"Nino, look! A pitching game," Sho pointed and led him towards the stand.
They played a few games, and Sho purposely made fake laughs and smiles to show Nino everything was fine. Nino, for the while, seemed focused on each game, but his overall expression seemed neutral. His eyes wandered from the game stands to the Ferris wheel visible throughout the park.
After they played five games, Nino finally spoke up with a tired voice. "Sachi will meet us here."
Sho tried not to show his dispirited look. "...let's sit down."
They found an empty bench that had the perfect view of the Ferris wheel across the pond. The atmosphere was quiet despite the people passing by down the hill. Sho gripped onto his knees to calm his nervous heartbeat. He glanced away, hoping he'll find something to save him from this heavy responsibility. Then, he spotted behind him a waffle stand...
"Wait right here, Nino," Sho said and hurried to wait in line.
He bought two waffles with honey and strawberries. The sight of the food was enough to make Sho grin a small honest smile for the first time since morning. As he approached Nino, he noticed the small violinist looked up sadly at the Ferris wheel and nothing else. Nino's muffler made the back of his head looked increbile tiny like a tuft of black curls poking out. The man subtly bobbed his head up and down to a soundless tune that could only be heard in his head. Sho sighed and appeared from behind Nino, handing the waffle in front of the savant's face.
"Eat while it's still warm."
Nino suddenly gasped and whirled around with a huge smile on his face. "Sachi!"
Sho was a little startled by Nino's response, but soon the violinist's smile faded away. Nino's eyes searched Sho's, looking more confused and scared with each passing second. It was then Sho knew he made the wrong move. He must have done something that reminded Nino of his sister. Sho let out a defeated sigh and sat down next to him.
"W-where is Sachi?" Nino finally asked, his voice still stern as if trying to be tough. "Why isn't she here?"
Sho couldn't even look at Nino. There was no point in stalling anymore. "Sachi...your sister...I'm so sorry, Nino. Your sister...she's dead."
Nino made a groaning noise. "No, Sho...where's Sachi?"
Sho rubbed his face and contemplated if the man even knew what the word "dead" meant. "Nino, I don't know what else to tell you. But Sachi is not here." He finally glanced back and saw a frightened man. "She's not coming back. You...you can't ride the Ferris wheel with Sachi...she's gone, Nino."
Those words seemed to make sense for Nino, and the violinist's eyes darted left and right as if trying to process this new information.
"You're lying. Sachi will come home," Nino said as if trying to correct Sho. "We have to ride the Ferris wheel when Sachi comes back-"
"She's not coming back, Nino!" Sho resorted to shouting. "She died in a car accident on the way home! There will be no Ferris wheel ride, and there will be no more Sachi! No more Sachi!"
"Sachi...Sachi..." Nino slid away from Sho, his eyes wide with fear and a trace of anger. "No...Sachi will come...come back...where is she?" Nino stood up, his eyes focused far across the pond, and shouted. "SACHI!"
Suddenly, Nino ran down the hill. Sho cursed under his breath and chased after Nino; the waffles were left abandoned on the bench. People stared at Nino as the man shouted and screamed his sister's name as if she was lost in the park. Then, Nino tripped and fell hard on his palms and elbows. Sho quickly appeared at his side.
"Nino!" Sho knelt next to him. "Nino, are you alright?"
Sho roughly grabbed Nino's shoulders. "Nino, listen to me. It's no good. Sachi isn't here, alright?! Let's...let's go home, okay? I'll...I'll look after you! So let's go back home-"
But Nino flung his arms out and stood back up, running towards the Ferris wheel. Sho pursued after him and noticed the sky grew darker. It was a mistake bringing Nino out in public. He should have told Nino when they were in the privacy of his home. Now, Nino is completely disoriented. His mind must be in a state of total chaos and confusion. Sho regretted his decisions. Worse of all, he regretted yelling at Nino.
Nino collapsed again, too tired from running. The tears ran down his face, and he suddenly vomited white mucus from his mouth. Sho panted heavily with his sides burning as he finally caught up with Nino. People gave weird looks at the two of them as Nino continued to sob and make a mess on the pavement. Sho rubbed Nino's back and bowed his head to the passing people.
Sho wiped Nino's mouth with his jacket sleeve. "I'm so sorry, Nino. I'm sorry."
"Sachi..." Nino moaned quietly and gasping for breath between each sob. "Sachi....Sachi..."
When Kiko received the message of Sachi's death, she cried in Jun's arms. Apparently on the night Kiko went into labor, Sachi got into a car accident. Sachi had been like an older sister to Kiko. When they first met, Kiko did her best not to squeal or flail about like another obsessed Nino fan. For a moment, she worried her facade would show through. But Sachi grew fond of her, and Kiko will never forget Sachi's kindness. In that instant, Kiko knew exactly what to name her daughter.
"I'm sure Nino would be happy to hear that," Jun reassured her. "And I love it too."
Despite being three months premature, Sachiko was fairly healthy. The kangaroo care helped the most, but Sachiko still had to remain the hospital until she no longer needed to be in the incubator. Kiko gradually got better, but she grew anxious when she was released first before her daughter. Doctor Yamada continued advising Kiko and Jun to stay cautious for any signs due to Sachiko's early birth, but it was hard to think of the negativity when seeing Sachiko's tiny face.
After two agonizing months, Sachiko was finally able to go home in the early spring of May. At the same time, Sachi's memorial service was being held. Her funeral was privately attended only by Nino within the week of her death. It upsetted Kiko and Jun greatly that they couldn't go to Sachi's funeral. For some reason, Nino refused to send out invitations to the funeral. Kiko could only imagine the grief was too strong inside Nino, and the man didn't want any outsiders. Kiko tried reaching out to Nino and offering her help, but the man never called her back. Finally, after a few calls from colleagues and Sachi's college friends, Nino approved the memorial service. Now, she can finally say her condolences to Nino in person, and introducing her daughter could help lift Nino's spirits.
Sachiko slept in the backseat as they drove to the service.
"Do you think Nino will be mad to see us?" Kiko asked, picking at her bottom lip whenever she was worried. "It's been so long since I've seen him privately. The last time Sachi invited us for dinner was last year."
"He invited us, didn't he?" Jun pointed out. "Besides, I think he'll like it if you come and pay respects to his sister."
"Actually, I didn't talk to Nino on the phone," Kiko said. "It was a man named Sho. Nino's new piano accompanist. Sachi told me before she left on her trip that Sho was looking after Nino while she was away. I get the feel he's been with Nino this whole time. Now I wonder...if that man will be taking care of Nino forever."
"Poor guy," Jun frowned. "Nino has taken over all of Sachi's accounts, right? But he can't really pay bills and manage himself, right? I hope this Sho character knows what he's doing."
"I'll be the judge of that," Kiko nodded.
They arrived at the recreation center, and Jun carefully carried their sleeping daughter inside. There were a lot of visitors: some college professors, local musicians, Nino's sponsors, and other colleagues of Sachi. But there were no other family relatives. Kiko spotted Nino standing up front with a black suit. A handsome man stood next to him and was the only one bowing his head to greet the people visiting. Nino kept his eyes focused on the floor and didn't bother to look up at anyone. Sachi's portrait was posted high with flowers covering around the frame.
With a quivering bottom lip, Kiko approached portrait and gazed up at Sachi's smiling photo. Kiko covered her mouth to muffle her wail.
"Oh, Sachi," Kiko cried, placing her hand on the edge of the frame. "I wish I had one last dinner with you."
When Kiko approached Nino, the savant finally raised his head when he recognized her voice.
"Kiko," he uttered.
She couldn't hold back and flung her arms around Nino. In the past, Nino had been reluctant in sharing physical contact with strangers, and Kiko had her fair share of awkward hugs with him. But the autistic man didn't push her away nor made any uncomfortable noises. She hugged him tight and rubbed his back.
"If you need anything, anything at all, you can call me," Kiko told Nino. "I will always support Nino."
She finally pulled away and glanced at the man standing next to Nino. This must be Sho, the man now taking care of Nino. Sachi may have trusted this man to look after Nino, but Kiko had known Nino longer and would have been a better choice if she wasn't with child. He looked nervous as Kiko gave him a mean and scrutinous glare.
"If anything happens to Nino..."
She didn't bother finishing the sentence, and Sho nodded his head vigorously.
Jun walked up to the violinist. "Nino, would you like to see my daughter? Her name is Sachiko."
Nino made a little gasp at the name, and he glanced down at the little baby in Jun's arms. He pulled the blankets away to show her face more, and Nino's mouth appeared to be stuck open. Sachiko was a heavy sleeper even as Nino let out a quiet sob.
He bowed his head to them. "Thank you..."
The service ended rather too quickly for Sho. The guest speakers said their speeches about Sachi, and everyone gave Nino their final sympathy before leaving. Only Kiko remained by his side after the service, and Nino held Sachiko in his arms. It was strange to see Nino holding a baby. His mouth was still open while staring down at the sleeping child, and Nino would let out a gasp whenever the baby fidgeted. Sho sat as far away while watching them silently. He had the impression that Kiko didn't want him around either, so he waiting alone at the end of the room.
Then, the man with the strong face sat in the chair next to him.
"Is your name Sakurai Sho?"
He glanced back at the man. "Y-yeah?"
"My name is Jun," the man held out his hand. "Kiko's husband."
Sho bowed his head timidly and shook hands.
"You know, Kiko was really upset that Sachi didn't ask her to look after Nino," Jun started. "Kiko insisted that she would watched Nino while Sachi was away, even while pregnant. She's quite upset it was you and not her. Nino's most devoted fan. She just wants to make sure you'll stay with him properly."
Sho lowered his gaze and gripped his pants at the knees. So that's why Kiko gave him mean looks.
"I'm kinda curious too," Jun continued, trying to make friendly talk. "I mean, you're going to take care of Nino now, right?"
Sho swallowed a thick lump stuck in his throat. "Sachi left him in my care. I can't...I can't just leave him alone. But..." Sho glanced up and watched Nino bouncing the now crying baby lightly in his arms with Kiko supporting the baby's head. "I'm...beginning to have my doubts."
He could feel Jun's gaze piercing the side of his head, but Sho focused his attention back on the floor. He felt tight around the chest as the pending future loomed over his mind. "What can I do for Nino? There's so many things I'm unsure of, and I don't even know where to start. I used to be someone who didn't had any responsibilities, and I know people have little trust in me. Now, I'm thrown into this tornado of obligations. Nino wants me to play the piano his way, Sachi wants me to live with Nino, and now your wife has expectations too."
Sho leaned forward and held his head in his clammy hands. "How can anyone expect so much from me so suddenly? Do you guys really want me around? What if I'm not right for Nino? How will I know if I'm just hurting him even more?"
The baby's cry became louder, and Nino began moaning too. Even with his head down, Sho could hear Kiko gently hushing her baby back to sleep, and Nino's complaints subsided as well. Kiko could easily revert Nino's behavior. Why couldn't Sho do the same?
"Sachi believed in you though," Jun spoke up. "If there was anyone that knew Nino best, it was Sachi. And if she thought you were the best fit for Nino, then she was probably right. If Nino hasn't pushed you away, then I think he definitely wants you around even if he doesn't say it."
It was true that there were times when something clicked between them. His piano playing and Nino's violin music came to Sho's mind easily, and suddenly the world was only the two of them. Even Nino was able to understand Sho's guilt and shame. Yet, the doubt was still swimming in his gut.
Sho lifted his head. "But-"
"Take myself for instance," Jun interrupted him, his eyes on his wife. "I was really worried for Kiko when she was pregnant. I kept questioning myself into the late night on what more could I do, was I doing enough, or was there nothing I could do at all. I was just so confused, and stressed, and caught up in a mess. But Kiko gave me peace of mind...she understood me even at times when I didn't."
Jun turned to face Sho. "That's the kind of person you're supposed to be with."
Sachiko stopped crying, and Sho felt the goose bumps rose from his skin. Jun clapped his hand against Sho's back before standing up.
"Be patient with Nino," Jun advised. "I'm sure he needs you more than ever." And the man walked back to his wife.
Ohno tried calling Minami, but the woman never picked up her phone. Every time he picked up the phone to call her, Ohno felt a surge of fatherly pride and practiced beforehand exactly the words he wanted to say to that devil woman. But every time he heard the automatic voicemail, his pride diminished bit by bit. Each phone call suddenly became harder to make. Ohno's doubt grew larger and larger until he finally did stopped calling.
Maybe it was better this way. He could finally go back to his paintings. But when Ohno pulled out his blank canvases and paintbrushes, he couldn't find an ounce of inspiration let alone a single motivation. It was like a missing part of his life left a deep scar. He was stuck in a limbo-like situation, and Ohno couldn't bounce back with his life.
He was just...stuck.
Ohno heard the mail door flap open. Having nothing else to do, he walked towards the front door and scooped up the letters. Behind the junk mail, Ohno received a postcard from the neurology department. Apparently, Kenta was due for a checkup. Ohno groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. He forgot to tell the hospital that Kenta was no longer under his care. He had hoped Aiba would have gotten the picture after that scene in the children ward, but clearly the hospital still hasn't cleared out his name as Kenta's caretaker.
He could have made a quick phone call, but the depressed man couldn't stand to be in his own home a minute longer. Just being inside the same space where Kenta used to play, eat, and sleep made Ohno even more depressed. So he decided to take a walk to the hospital instead. Even walking felt irregular—Ohno had constantly slowed his pace for Kenta or waited for Kenta to finish inspecting a pebble on the ground. Finally, he approached the front desk of the hospital and hoped to pass on the information to the right department.
"If you're not the legal guardian, please let us know who is so we may change the data in our system," the receptionist said.
"Bages Minami," Ohno answered. "Though, she might have a different last name...depending on her husband."
"Do you have her phone number?"
Ohno reached for his cell phone when he heard someone calling out to him. "Ohno!"
He turned around. "Aiba..."
The doctor gave a wiry smile before nodding to the receptionist. "That will do Haru. I'll take over from here."
But Ohno didn't have any intentions in going to Aiba's office. "It's alright. I'm here to change Kenta's data because I'm no longer his primary caretaker."
Aiba patted his shoulder. "Ohno, walk with me."
They walked pass the hospital's main entrance and strolled along the white quiet corridors. The glass windows showed the courtyard outside. It was empty except for a few patients that could withstand the chilly spring air, but there was one child patient walking towards a garden patch with a cane. The poor girl appeared to be struggling to lift her legs.
"I'm sorry for what happened," Aiba started. "As Kenta's physician, I should have done something to help him. But legal issues such as parent ownership is beyond my control."
"I don't blame you," Ohno replied. "Honestly, I want to thank you for helping me. Even though it was for a short time, Kenta got better because of you. Truly, thank you." Ohno bowed his head low before he stood back up. "But now, there's no need to contact me. It's as my ex-wife said. She'll take care of Kenta. She has the funds to support him."
"But you wanted to support him," Aiba suddenly spoke up, his brow slightly pushed together. "You wanted to take care of Kenta, didn't you? He was your son."
"I'm probably not his father," Ohno said bitterly and turned his body away from Aiba. "I've always had that doubtful feeling."
"But you never gave up on him!" Aiba persisted. "Your wife abandoned her son to you. Kenta was in your care and you could have easily sent him away, but you didn't! So why now are you giving up?"
"Why do you care?" Ohno turned back to glare at the nagging doctor. "What do you know about raising children?"
Aiba's expression slowly softened, but his frown looked sadder by the minute. Aiba's image was always a smiling doctor, and a sudden block of guilt sat in Ohno's gut when he saw Aiba's smile disappear. The doctor glanced down at the young girl with a walking cane in the courtyard.
"I do know," Aiba uttered. "I had a daughter once. She would be eleven years old now. Her name was Koharu, and she was the apple of my eye. Full of life, spunk, and smiles." Aiba let out a quiet chuckle. "She loved playing baseball with me. On weekends when I didn't have classes, I would take her to the park and play catch. Yuka didn't like it because Koharu always got her dress dirty. But she was really good."
Aiba took in a shaky breath before continuing. "One day, without telling my wife, I took Koharu to the park to play catch. And...because I wasn't careful, Koharu was struck by car."
Ohno's lips parted in shock, and his eyebrows twitched up. The little girl in the courtyard tripped and fell hard on the rough dirty ground. It looked like she skinned her knee badly, and she started crying.
"If I had been more attentive, more protective, I could have saved Koharu," Aiba sighed before glancing back at Ohno. "You have no idea how lucky you are to have your son alive. You can believe that you're not the father, but some part of you must have grown attached to Kenta."
Ohno dropped his gaze from Aiba and watched the little girl again. "Kenta...Kenta is with his mother now. He cried for her the first night he came to my doorstep."
"And I heard him shouting 'papa' when he was taken from you," Aiba added.
A pinprick jolted into Ohno's heart at those words. He closed his eyes and remembered Kenta's anguished face as he cried out to him, begging Ohno to come get him. He felt Aiba grip his shoulder tightly and gave it a little shake. When Ohno opened his eyes, Aiba held out a silicone bracelet to him. It was a charity bracelet with the hospital's logo. The words carved into the bracelet read: Music for the Children.
"Learn from my mistake," Aiba said. "Fight for your child."
Aiba dropped the bracelet into Ohno's palm, and the doctor walked away leaving Ohno to his thoughts. He rubbed the bracelet between his fingers before slipping it on. When Ohno glanced down at the courtyard, he saw the little girl's mother had come to help her...
"Two months?!" Jun gawked at her.
"I know," Kiko sighed as she patted Sachiko's tiny back after breastfeeding. "The office needs this magazine ready before printing begins. And they told me that the producer I left in charge was doing a piss poor job. So I have to go away for work to pick up the slack."
Jun shook his head. "Are you sure you can't work at home? It's only been a month since Sachiko left the hospital, and she still needs your milk. Heck, I'll go in your place!"
"You manage a restaurant. Do you even know how to market fashion?"
Jun frowned slightly. "I pick out clothes with my feelings."
Kiko rolled her eyes until Sachiko finally let out a tiny burp. Kiko settled her down in her crib. "It'll only be for two months, Jun. I've stored plenty of breast milk in the fridge, and if Sachiko needs more, I can bottled them up and send them to you by mail. You can survive. "
It wasn't the first time Jun experience her determination, and he almost always never get her to budge when she made up her mind. Kiko had insisted on going back to work after Sachiko was born. Hopefully Jun's sister would come and help babysit while they were both at work, but Jun didn't like the idea of leaving their daughter at home without one of her parents nearby. Sachiko was still tiny from the premature birth even though she was three and a half months old. He's worried about her.
Jun shrugged. "Fine then. I'll take some time off work until you come back."
"You don't have to do that," Kiko said. "You said your sister will look after her for us, right? And I know the restaurant means a lot to you."
"Sachiko means a lot to me now," Jun corrected her. "Besides, this will be a great time for me to bond with her. Every time I come back from work, she's always either sleeping or crying."
Kiko pouted. "Are you sure you don't need to go to work?"
Jun chuckled. "I'll drop by once in a while, but two months will go by fast. We both make good money, so everything will be fine." He leaned down and gave Kiko a quick kiss on her forehead. "I'll look after Sachiko."
Ohno found out where Minami lived with her new husband. A lot of information can pass through a fishing auction house. Apparently, Minami married the owner of a well-established restaurant chain. Ohno stepped in front of the tall gates and gazed up at the large house. No doubt Minami found a wealthy husband this time, but Ohno didn't want to leave now. He pushed the doorbell and waited for someone to answer.
The monitor spoke. "Yes?"
"Uh, I'm here to see the mistress of the house," Ohno said.
"She's out at the moment," the person said followed by a click to end the conversation.
Ohno rang the bell again.
"Can you tell me when she'll be coming back?"
"Who is this?"
There was dead silence at the other end. For a moment, Ohno thought he was ignored, and he was about to ring the bell again. But then the front door opened, and Minami herself walked out. Ohno held his breath as Minami came out to greet him at the front gate, but she didn't open them.
"What do you want?" Minami hissed, crossing her arms.
"Let me see him," Ohno immediately jumped to the point. "I want to see Kenta."
"Kenta's sleeping," Minami rolled her eyes. "Please leave or I'll call the cops."
"Just tell me this," Ohno frowned, grabbing onto the metal bars of the gate. His silicone bracelet slid down slightly from his wrist. "Were you happy that Kenta was born?"
Minami didn't shift her eyes away for even a second, but Ohno sensed an uneasiness from her. She glared at him, and her chest puffed as if fuming anger build up inside her. If she wasn't pregnant with Kenta, would they still be together? In their last moments before Ohno found out about her adultery, they did both spent time together until the attack. If Kenta wasn't Ohno's child but rather Minami's attacker, why did she still kept him? It had been nagging Ohno for a while.
Ohno gripped onto the metal bars tighter. "Did you loved Kenta's father?"
Minami's eyes suddenly turned glossy. Ohno felt his heart beating slightly faster as he suddenly remembered that face. The same face that belonged to a woman he once loved. But somewhere down the line, their trust for each other shattered, and Ohno was beginning to see that his old art trips were the cause of it. Her bottom lip started trembling slightly, and she took a deep breath before speaking in a calm, sorrowful voice.
She whirled around—her hair swung like fiery pinwheel—and marched back into her home. Slamming the door shut.
end of chapter
To Chapter 9 - http://arashiforyou.livejournal.com/65368.html
so a long chapter to make up the previous one!
and yes, the inspiration for aiba's daughter's name was his role in My Girl (hence yuka as his wife) ;A;
notice how i made this really huge time leap into two months later since sachi's death. mainly because i wanted to get jun's baby out of the hospital XDD
next chapter...more sakumiya moments ;)