ArashiForYou (arashiforyou) wrote,
ArashiForYou
arashiforyou

Play By Heart

Title: Play By Heart
By: arashiforyou
Genre: Romance/ Drama/ Angst/ AU/ Music
Rating: R
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.



Music reference (this is a very somber piece for a second to last chapter of the story, but i absolutely love it T_T):
Adagio for Strings - Samuel Barber

Chapter 14 - Tremelo

~Three years ago~

Minami sat alone in the apartment with her wine glass and a bottle of Merlot, staring at the television screen with a great sense of boredom. The TV hosts and comedians laughed at their own jokes, but Minami sipped on her drink nonchalantly. It's been three months since her husband left on his other "self-finding art" trips. She called him last night asking when he was coming back, but all she got out of him was "I'll come home when I'm ready. Please wait for me."

But her patience was wearing thin. She could not stand being confide in one place for so long with no one there to be with her. Being alone was not in her nature. Minami needed to be around people; she needed to be around Ohno. But he wasn't here, and she couldn't wait for so long. Drawing energy from others gave her a great sense of reassurance even if it was only from one person. Whenever Ohno was around, he gave her the love and attention she needed. But he wasn't here to give it to her...

It started as a game. Sakurai Sho was the only cute guy in the office, and Minami liked playing around Sho for a while. The man slated her need, and he made her feel so good during their affair. But deep down, Minami wanted for her husband. Even though Sho was there to keep her company, the one person she was still hoping to come back was the man she married. When Ohno finally came back, Minami's insecurity quickly vanished.

He came back tanner than he first left. Rolled up paper canvases stuffed inside his backpack, dried paint splotched all over his jeans, and numerous keychains and buttons clipped to his belt. He looked like he hasn't showered in days, but finally seeing him again in the flesh made Minami's heart flip with joy.

But if Minami showed too much eagerness, she'll lose any sense of pride; Minami never liked showing weakness. She was still mad at him for leaving for so long. She crossed her arms and pouted angrily at him.

"Welcome back, Mr. Sunburnt," she grumbled.

Ohno shed off his backpack and left it at the front door. "I'm back..."

He walked towards her and sighed before resting his arms around her shoulders. He smelled like grass and sweat. His white T-shirt was dirty, and his rough jeans roughly brushed against her shaved legs.

"You smell awful," Minami groaned, trying to pull away.

But Ohno pulled her closer. "I'm sorry..."

The strength of his arms almost made her melt. It was this sense of security she craved for. Not in the financial sense, but on a personal level. When she was with Sho, it was only a flirtatious fling. It could never be permanent. With Ohno, she got the attention she needed to feel happy.

After a shower, the two spent the night together on Ohno's beloved couch. Since then, it seemed like Ohno was staying with her at home for good, and she was happy. They even went out to a nice restaurant and spent the night at a luxury hotel like lovey-dovey newlyweds. He gave her the attention she finally wanted. It was the only thing she ever asked of him: to love her. But Minami never had the best of luck...

"Someone call the cops!" Her manager shouted while wrestling Sho to the ground.

Minami sobbed as her female colleagues helped her stand up. Another female offered her jacket to cover Minami's ripped shirt. It was a hectic work day with the police at their office and questioning Minami on the specifics. Traveling home was the worst. Her paranoid gradually climbed to the point where everything seemed to increase her vulnerability. She could sense someone was watching her, waiting to strike. When she returned home, the first thing Ohno saw was her bruised eye.

"What happened?!" He gawked at her while holding her face tenderly. "Did someone attacked you? Who did it?"

But she couldn't utter a single word. How can she explain to him the person who attacked was the same person she cheated with? Every time Ohno came back from his art trips, he shared with her all his findings: the people he met, the places he's seen, and the art he created. Ohno was always honest with her. Not once did Minami suspected him cheating. She wanted to believe he was a kind and understanding husband. She wanted to believe that he'll still love her.

So she told him the truth.

"I've...I've been seeing someone," she confessed through her sobs. "Since last month...when you were gone...I've been seeing someone from the office."

Ohno lowered his hands away from her face. His expression slowly dwindled away from a concering gaze to a confused stare, and Minami started to panic.

"You've been gone for so long. I'm not like you! I can't stand to be alone for too long!" Minami cried louder. "I needed to be around someone, but you weren't always there. But now that you're staying at home, I broke off ties with him. And so he attacked me today."

"You...you slept with him?" Ohno uttered, his brows knitted tight and his eyes drooped as sad as a puppy.

"Not anymore," Minami answered. "I don't want to be involved with him anymore, and I-"

"But you were seeing him," Ohno repeated. He took a step back and lowered his gaze. "I thought...I thought you'd wait for me."

Minami's anger quickly rose. "Don't you see the problem here?! I was sexually assaulted, and you're more concerned about that?!"

Ohno raised his voice as well. "W-well maybe that wouldn't have happened if you hadn't cheated on me!"

"You're blaming me for this?!"

"I never asked a lot from you! I only wanted you to wait for me while I try to find my muse, but I come back to find out you've been disloyal to me?! The reason I wanted to marry you was because I thought I could trust you!"

"And I agreed to marry you because I wanted you to always be there for me!" Minami shouted, the angry tears started slipping down her face. "Today...I was terrified! Okay? When I was riding the train, I thought someone was going to attack me again. You wanna know why?! Because I'm so used to you being away all the time. For a moment, I thought I was going to be home alone tonight. That's just how much you've left an impact on me and this marriage. I practically thought you weren't going to be home today!"

Ohno opened his mouth to say more, but then he clamped his lips shut tight.

Minami lowered her voice before she continued. "I need you to love me more...please...or I'll leave."

When Ohno turned his back, her heart broke. She had once loved him, but clearly he couldn't give her the support she needed. She remembered storming out of Ohno's apartment and riding a taxi back to her parent's house. Ohno never called her, so she sent him divorce papers. All in the midst of the court case, Minami felt light-headed until she discovered she was pregnant.

The last thing she wanted to know was the father of her child. If it was Sho's, Minami will constantly be reminded of her affair and her attack. If it was Ohno's, the child will remind Minami of the man who didn't love her enough. So she never filed a father for child support, and she carried out living by herself with Kenta in her one-room apartment. But taking care of Kenta was so much work. He cried all night, and he hardly drank her breast milk. Eventually, Minami found a job and met a new man. The only problem was that she never told him about her child.

Minami needed support. She needed the feeling to be loved again, but she did not want to lose her precious son. Her plan was to secure a marriage with her new boyfriend. But she feared her boyfriend wouldn't support a son who wasn't his own. Convincing him to have his support for her son will take some time. So she gathered all of Kenta's things and left him to the only person she could think of: her ex-husband. A part of her believed Ohno was the real father, but Kenta looked more like her than his father. Within the six months without her son, Minami recuperated her energy back and became less stressed.

So when the day came when her new husband said he'll take care of her son as well, she was ecstatic. Someone finally wanted to love her and support her son financial. It broke her heart when she had to leave Kenta behind, but he was back in her life again. And now she can give the best care for his autism than ever before. Finally, things were looking up for her, but Minami never had the best of luck...

"When should I go back to work?" Minami asked her husband one night at the dinner table.

He glanced up at her with a smirk. "Work? There's no need for that. Your duty is to stay home and take care of Kenta."

Minami heard a pin drop echo in her head that almost made her heart stop. "T-that's ridiculous. I should be able to work too."

"No, you don't," he said but more firmly. "You're my wife now. And as a wife, you need to take care of Kenta and make sure he gets properly educated before he starts school. Then, you'll have to make sure he is doing well with his studies while keeping the house clean and cooking meals. Everyone knows that."

Minami slammed her chopsticks down in an angry fuss. "I'm not going to be some housewife!"

"And leave Kenta alone?" He raised his eyebrow at her. "He is your son, so he is your responsibility."

"I thought you would support me no matter what!" Minami said, her eyes bulging and completely shocked at the words coming out of his mouth. "Whatever happened to you wanting to care for Kenta as if he was your own? What about wanting to be there for me?"

Her husband continued to eat in his cool and collective manner. "I said I'll help you support Kenta financially. I never said I'll take care of him. Honestly, I don't see why you want to keep him. You seemed so much happier when he wasn't with you. He's quite a hassle too."

Minami was about to retort back, but the words got stuck in her throat. She was indeed happier when living on her own without her son. She had the freedom to do whatever she wanted. She wasn't held down at home, waiting for her husband's return for months, and she didn't wake up at night to a screaming baby. Minami was too free-spirited to be tied down by the housewife lifestyle.

But that didn't meant she didn't love Kenta. Even though she vowed never to know whom Kenta's true father was, Kenta was her only proof that at one time there was a man who loved her more than anything. And Minami didn't want to lose that last piece of evidence. She only wanted what's best for her son, but she doesn't want to give up on him.

"Will you look after Kenta tomorrow?" Minami asked. "Spend some time with him while I go out for a bit."

Her husband lowered his rice bowl and stared back at her. "And where will you be going?"

"To find a daycare for Kenta."

The next day, Minami visited every nearby daycare centers that were willing to take in an autistic child. But sadly, many of the houses didn't have enough funds to take in another child. They all told her the same story: lack of child support from their government. Many of them were in danger of shutting down. The best ones were further out of town, but Minami decided to go another day. Tomorrow, she'll look up local nanny agencies.

Only that day never came.

When she returned home, she found police cars at the front of her house. The flashing blue lights brought back ominous memories. Completely flabbergasted at the scene, she started imagining what could have happened. Did someone break in? Did someone hurt Kenta? She approached her house, and an officer stopped her from entering.

"Can I help you, Ma'am?"

"What happened? What happened to my home?"

The officer mumbled into his shoulder monitor before turning back to her. "Are you perhaps Kenta's mother Minami?"

"Y-yes."

Suddenly, more cops surrounded her. Someone reached for her arms and pulled her hands behind her to secure handcuffs on her wrists.

"W-what are you doing?!" She gasped.

"You are under arrest for child negligence," the officer replied and escorted her to a car. "Your son was found in the living room with heatstroke. He's been sent to the hospital."

The officer's words almost sounded foreign and left her utterly shocked and confused. "T-that can't be! What about my husband?! He was supposed to stay with Kenta today! Where is he?!"

"We do not have any knowledge of his whereabouts," the officer answered. "However, Kenta's father has filed child custody over your son. You'll be seeing his lawyer back at the station soon."

The police officer slammed the car door, and she sat alone in the back seat. Minami only wanted to be loved. She wanted someone to support her and be there for her. Now, her husband ran on her, her son is being taken away from her, and she was going to prison for a mistake she never intended to happen.

Minami never had the best of luck....

*****

When he told his mother the good news, her voice screeched at his ear. "AAAAHHH! Congratulations! I can't believe this! I'm officially a grandma!"

Ohno held the phone away from his ear, but he smirked nonetheless as his mother continued to shout with joy at the other end. He sat next to Kenta in the hospital, and his son sat up looking healthy and munching on peanut butter-covered rice crackers that Ohno prepped.

"He's really your son this time, right? Right! Ah, I'm so happy for you, Satoshi!"

"I'm glad too. I never imagined myself being a father," Ohno felt a smile spread across his face as the memories of his struggles replayed in his mind. "Honestly, I didn't think I had it in me. And maybe a little even now. There's so much I don't know yet."

"But you never gave up on Kenta," she reassured him. "You remembered what I told you? Kenta is relying on you, so don't ever abandoned him."

Ohno nodded. "I'm all he has left, right?"

"What are you talking about?! Am I not his grandmother now?" And she laughed.

Just then, Ohno heard a knock on the door. He turned around to see Aiba greeting them. "I have to go, Mom. I'll call you later...yes, I promise to bring Kenta over. Okay, okaaaay...bye."

When Ohno ended his call, he stood up with another huge grin on his face. "Thank you again, Aiba."

Aiba beamed back with his eyebrow slightly raise. "I didn't do anything. I had a day off when your son came in. I only heard the news."

"But you did encouraged me," Ohno said. He glanced down at his silicone bracelet and rubbed it between his fingers. "If you hadn't told me to fight back, I would still be drinking at a bar. But I finally got the courage to meet my ex-wife's lover, and now I finally have proof. It's amazing how much people can change...how I've changed. Aiba, I'm glad I meet you."

"Papa," Kenta cooed with his eyes large, round, and innocent.

Ohno quickly went to Kenta and scooped up the boy into his arms. Kenta started playing with his hand game again, but now Ohno found it the most adorable thing ever.

"But I'm even more glad to have met Kenta," he said before giving a quick kiss on Kenta's soft cheek.

"I'm glad to hear that," Aiba said, approaching the small family. "I have a present for you."

Ohno looked down and saw Aiba handing a ticket. When Ohno took the ticket into his hands, he read the title for Nino's concert: Music for the Children.

"Patients attending this hospital gets free admissions," Aiba explained. "And I wanted to congratulate you on your family reunion."

Ohno bowed his head. "Thank you, Aiba. I think Kenta will enjoy it. He really likes Nino's music." He handed the ticket to Kenta who started turning it over in his tiny hands.

Aiba's face became slightly stiff even with his heartfelt smile. "I was going to mail it to you, but then I thought of handing it to you in person...especially you because...Sakurai Sho will be Nino's piano accompaniment."

Ohno also went still. "So he really is living with Nino?" He lowered his gaze with a slight frown. "What are his real intentions in being with Nino? How could anyone trust that man?"

"I know...there has been some...dispute between you two," Aiba continued, rubbing the back of his neck. "But please come to this concert...with the intention of seeing how much Sho has changed."

Ohno's frown deepened, and he lowered Kenta back onto the bed. "You...you want me to forgive him?!"

"No! No, of course not," Aiba shook his head and hands frantically. "What Sho did was unforgivable, and he has been punished for it. But it's like what you just told me. People change. And I want you to watch Sho and see how different he is now."

The conflicting thoughts started raging inside Ohno's head again. One side says that Sho should be thrown back to jail and rot for all the trouble he started. If it wasn't for the affair, he would have still been with Minami, and Kenta would live with both of his parents. But the other side told Ohno that Sho has turned over a new leaf. Even when they went to the lab together, the air between them was non-hostile. The man wanted to prove himself worthy again.

In the past, Ohno viewed himself as a worthless being too. When he got his divorce and started living on his own, he drank for nights and regretted his decision for letting Minami leave him. And then the sense of hopeless came back again when his son was taken away from him. Now, he was full of energy again with new sense of purpose in his life. If Ohno became a different man, surely he could see a difference in Sho as well.

Ohno sighed. "Alright. I'll go to the concert and see Sho's performance myself."

*****

Kiko waited patiently with the mass of fans waiting for their lottery number to call. She held onto her receipt tightly and prayed silently. Most of the fans were women twice her age, but they started to push and shove their way closer to the stage. But she didn't let their aggression sway her stance. Kiko learned from experience during the times of concert tickets: there is no nobility amongst fans.

The fanclub president stood at the front with a large box. "And the finally lottery winning number is...number sixteen!"

Kiko heard a fifty-year-old woman shriek with happiness before bounding her way to get her concert ticket. Kiko's heart sunk knowing she just lost her chance to get a free ticket to Nino's concert. The lottery tickets always got the best seats, but this year wasn't her year again.

She walked out of the conference room and sulked her way back home. When she open the door to her apartment, she heard her daughter squeal in a loud playful scream—most likely laughing at her father's silly faces again.

"I'm home," Kiko sighed before pouting. "I didn't get the tickets."

Jun lifted Sachiko up and mimic Kiko's pouty face. "Aw, hear that, Sachiko? Mama is gonna spend money on Nino tickets again."

Jun then did a fake impersonation of Sachiko's voice. "Why can't Mama ask Ninomiya-san for tickets?"

He went back to his regular voice. "Because Mama dreams of having Nino to notice her which will never happen like high school juniors daydreaming of their seniors."

Kiko stomped her way across the room and snatched Sachiko away from him to playfully mimic her voice back. "Maybe Mama should marry Nino because he's a lot kinder and more talented in music than her ridiculous, pasta-loving, mascot-obsessed husband!"

She used her normal voice. "I like the way you think, sweetie."

Jun tried to make an angry face, but he had a hard time suppressing his smile. "Well that's too bad because Nino is with Sho now, and we're going to Nino's concert to see them for ourselves."

Kiko immediately dropped her playful act and stared wide-eyed at Jun. "Really?"

"Really," he grinned and pulled out two tickets from his back pocket.

With Sachiko in her other arm, Kiko quickly snatched the tickets with her other hand and gawked at them. These were premium seats! The best spot in the theater to hear Nino's music. Even the fanclub couldn't pass these around.

"Oh my gosh!" Kiko gasped. "Where...how..."

"Aiba gave them to us," Jun answered, nodding to an open letter on the table that Kiko missed seeing on her way in. "But he also asked that we stay to hear Sho's piano performance at the end of the concert."

Kiko's eyebrows twitched slightly at the request. "Why would he ask us?"

"I'm not entirely sure," Jun tilted his head. "But I don't see what's wrong with it. You said you were always worried about Nino not living with Sachi anymore. I think this will be Sho's way to prove he can look after Nino...and I want to see it too."

Kiko set Sachiko down to play with her toys. "Do you think Sho is a good person?"

Jun made an unsure face. "We only met him once. And a friend told me some things about him, but I want to see how far he's come."

Kiko slowly nodded before gazing down at her daughter. Aside from the seizures appearing, Sachiko did fairly well. The medication and therapy showed improvements, but Kiko tried not to focus on it so much. Now, she knows her favorite baby foods, the TV shows she likes to watch, and her favorite Nino pieces. In fact, if it wasn't for Nino's music, Kiko would have never been with Jun.

Feeling an overwhelming emotion of love, Kiko wrapped her arms around Jun's neck and brought in his face closer to hers. Their noses bumped into each other, and their lashes brushed against each other. Jun placed his hands on her hips, and they stood there gazing down at each other's noses.

"Alright," Kiko said. "We'll listen to Sho's piano too. I think Nino would appreciate it if we stayed longer, but I'll also do it for you. You seem more curious about his performance than I do."

Jun grinned. "I'm really glad I got those Nino tickets."

And he quickly stole her lips.

*****

Sho sat awkwardly in his black suit with his family and guests on the morning of the charity concert. They all listened in silence to the priest's chanting while a portrait frame of his mother displayed at the front. He saw his father keeping a straight face but with sullen eyes. Sho's siblings kept sobbing even though they were adults. He never kept in touch with them. Every time he did, they ignored him. His father viewed him as a disgrace, his brother stopped talking him, and his sister was afraid to be around him. They were ashamed of him and his crime.

Only his mother supported him. And now she's gone. At least his family was gracious enough to allow him to attend her funeral. Still, they never once greeted him when he arrived or made any eye contact. If anything, Sho was the ghost.

After the sermon, family friends and other guests presented their final gifts and parting words. Sho couldn't even bring himself to stand behind his family, so he treated himself as an outsider and waited as the guests gave their condolences. Finally, he was the last one. They stared at him as if he was a foreigner who rudely interrupted a private funeral. Mai and Shun looked away as he approached them. Only his father maintained eye contact; chin up and nostrils slightly flared.

Sho reached inside his breast pocket, pulled out three reserved tickets to Nino's charity concert, and placed it on the table in front of them

"Please come," Sho uttered. It was hard to speak with his throat so tight, so he bowed his head to hide his face. "It would mean a lot to me."

Sho started to wish he sent the tickets by mail, but it was the only way to get their attention despite the awkwardness. His mother was always critically harsh on him, but she forgave him. It bothered Sho why the rest of his family couldn't. He stared down at the three shiny tickets, but no one made a move to take them. He bowed his head one last time and walked out as quickly as he could. The sooner he was away from the awkward and suffocating atmosphere, the better.

He's not wanted here. He's not wanted anywhere....

*****

That evening, Sho waited backstage with Nino who was slowly cleaning his violin strings. The stage-fright butterflies fluttered like crazy inside Sho's stomach. He glanced at the tall mirror stand again to re-adjust his tie and tugged his jacket to remove any wrinkles. He kept rubbing his hands together to get rid of its sweaty feeling, but nothing else was calming him down. And Nino sat there quietly, his head bowed down and focusing solely on his dark wooden violin.

He has been to many recitals in his younger days, but this was the first time Sho ever performed at the esteemed Bunkamura Orchard Hall. When he first walked in the concert hall a few hours earlier, the immense vastness of the theater took his breath away. And apparently, Nino has attended to this venue more than a dozen times already.

Sho had never performed for more than a hundred viewers. But now he going to perform to more than two thousand spectators. A complete full house. He wished he could get a glimpse of the audience, but he was alone with Nino in their private dressing room, waiting for the cue. Sho wanted to know if his family came, but he'll have to find out when he walks on stage...

A staff member wearing a "Music for the Children" T-shirt entered their dressing room. "We're ready. Please follow me."

Nino walked out first, and Sho followed after. They were silent throughout the entire walk until they positioned just outside the entrance to the stage. A page-turner greeted Sho as well.

"Ninomiya-san, please wait here," the staff instructed. "Sakurai-san, please head out on stage."

Sho gulped nervously. It was custom for the pianist to wait on stage before the main violinist entered. Sho took in a deep shaky breath before letting it out low and slow. He stepped out and walked briskly across the stage with the page-turner following behind him. He could feel everyone's eyes on him, and their silence grew louder. He approached the piano and sat down on the bench. The grand piano was so much larger than the studio piano he normally practiced on, but the music score placed on the piano rack was the same one. The familiarity gave Sho some peace.

The staff signaled to the hospital representative to come on stage. The audience applauded his entrance, and Sho took the time to glance at the audience. But the blinding spotlight made it impossible to pick out faces. They all looked like one big blot of darkness. Sho took another deep breath and listened to the administrator's opening speech.

"Hello everyone and thank you for coming," the administrator spoke. "It gives me great pleasure to announce our first charity concert for the pediatric ward of our hospital. As many of you may know, our country's birth rate is declining and so is our medical care for children. It has been a struggle for us, and for many years, to give the services these children need. Children suffering from disease and illness. It has been, indeed, a constant challenge.

"But thanks to your donations and the generosity of hundreds across the city, we can finally take a step forward," the administrator smiled. The audience gave a short round of applause before he continued. "My colleague, Dr. Aiba Masaki, told me he was good friends with a famous musician. And I can't help but think...it must be fate that he's come to us. A brilliant man with the gift of music has come to perform for the children. When you hear his performance, please think on the purpose of this charity, your donation, and future of our country. And so without further ado, let's welcome a round of applause to the renowned violinist...Ninomiya Kazunari!"

The super star came out on stage, the audience gave a warm welcome. Sho could hear a few fans whistling and calling out Nino's name. But the man seemed completely oblivious to their cheers, and he stood at the center of the stage. Sho kept his eyes trained on Nino with his hands at the ready. Nino lifted his violin, and the entire theater went still for a brief moment. The violinist turned and stared at Sho.

They both took a breath at the same time, and Sho began playing the concert's first note...

*****

Sho drank from his water bottle in large gulps. He exhaled a loud sigh and grabbed his nearby handkerchief to wipe his brow. The first half of the concert went by faster than Sho could even remember, but it was successful. They didn't have any hiccups, and neither of them fell behind each other. Sho made sure to stay under Nino's melody when necessary, and they remained at the same tempo even when Nino changed up the speed.

But something was missing.

He lowered his handkerchief and sat down limply on his white wooden chair. Sho glanced up at the mirror and saw his reflection looking just as confused back at him. They were pitch perfect on stage; neither one of them missed a beat. But something was wrong. The nagging feeling was so immense, he was sure the audience could sense it too. Sho glanced over his shoulder, but he was alone in the dressing room. Nino had left to use the restroom.

Then, there was a knock on the door. Sho went to open the door and found Aiba with his usual smile.

"Hi!"

Sho's lips twitched at Aiba's casual greet. "Hi."

"You two are sounding great," Aiba said, entering the room. "I think my wife is becoming a fan of Nino too."

"Heh, leave it to Nino to steal all the wives out there," Sho snorted amusingly before sitting back down in his chair. "Did we really sounded okay?"

"As far as I can tell," Aiba answered honestly. "Why? Did something seemed off when you were performing?"

Sho clamped his hands over his knees a little tighter. "It didn't feel like anything...special. Our times in our practice room had more meaning than what we just performed. We may have sounded nice, but I felt like we sounded dry and hollow. There was no...there was no..."

"Heart?"

Sho glanced up and saw the doctor gazing back with his silver spectacles. He forgot that Aiba was also Nino's closest friend; the man was probably the second person on the planet that knew Nino best after Sachi. Sho sat up more in his chair.

"Aiba, was I good enough for Nino?" Sho asked earnestly. "Nino only needed me for my piano skills and taking care of him when he was at his lowest. But do you think...I mean, uh, that is...did he ever-"

"Why don't you ask him?" Aiba asked him back.

"He doesn't know how to respond back," Sho sighed with a hint of annoyance. "I don't know if I'm going about this the right way."

"Then perform on stage for him," Aiba answered simply. "After the concert, ask your question through your piano. Nino knows music best. It's how he communicates. So why not perform a solo-"

Sho abruptly stood up; the white wooden chair nearly tipped over. "Nino talked to you about this, didn't he?"

Aiba looked taken back from Sho's sudden movements. "Eh?"

"He asked you to tell me to play on stage, didn't he?!" Sho suddenly raised his voice, his eyebrows knitted together and his hands slightly trembling. "I don't want to keep expressing myself just by playing music. I want to hear the words for myself! Why can't he just tell me in person?!"

Suddenly, the door swung open and Nino quickly stood a little in front of Aiba. "You have to play it."

Just then, the same staff attendant appeared at the doorway. "Ninomiya-san. Sakurai-san. We're ready for-"

But Sho pushed past the staff member and stormed down the hallway.

The anger swirled inside him as he power-walked down the hall and few flight of stairs. There was no destination set in his mind because of his unsourced fury, but suddenly he was almost out the front door. The lobby was completely deserted save for the large banners hanging from the ceiling. Sho glanced up and saw the same promotional photo of Nino playing his violin. Sho couldn't tell if he admired that face or was sick of it. But the answer came to Sho almost too quickly...

He heard someone panting and running behind him. It honestly surprised him to see that Nino had chased after him.

"S-sho," Nino heaved before finally catching his breath. "The concert is about to start. We have to go back-"

"Go back by yourself!" Sho retorted. "We weren't even really playing together. We were only focused on our own parts, so what does it matter. We're done."

"What...what has gotten into you?!" Nino suddenly yelled back. Sho glanced back and saw a flustered Nino with an annoyed glare in his eyes. "I'm asking you to play the piano for me just this once. Is that so hard to do?!"

Sho shook his head. "You don't get it, do you? The music is not what I care about. I don't need a piano to express how l feel. And whatever it is you need to know...you damn well don't need to hear my piano to understand!" Sho inhaled deeply, feeling his face blushing. "I have always loved you, okay!"

Nino's eyes widen and his mouth slightly parted open in shock.

Sho continued. "I'm not the most perfect person out there. My past will always be a constant reminder of what I'm capable of doing, and it terrifies me every time I'm close to you! But when you told me you want to travel to America alone," he shook his head, "what am I supposed to do?! I've got no one else in this world who wants me anymore! But if you tell me you need me again, to let me be with you, then I swear I will love you endlessly."

Something was already tearing up inside him as he watched Nino's expression turned from shock to pity. Suddenly, Sho's eyes started burning as well as his nose. He had seen Nino's expression before. It was just like the faces he seen during his court trial, from his family, and anyone he tried to get close to. Pitied. Embarrassed. Unwanted. Unloved.

He didn't want this. He didn't want to see that face again! Not from Nino!

Sho ran up to him and grabbed a fist full of Nino's suit. "Say something already! Don't give me that look! I can't stand it! How long are you just going to keep me hanging here?!" The angry tears started sliding down his face. "You are so lucky, Nino. You have all these fans, Sachi, Kiko, Aiba...I have no one...so why...why can't I be like you? Why won't you tell me...that you still need me by your side? That's all I want to hear!"

Nino's eyes remained dried and expressionless as if Sho's heartful confession hadn't reached him. A typical response from an autistic man. Sho saw flashes of red. An old instant surged through him, but it took all his strength not to throw a punch. Instead, Sho shoved Nino hard and the poor violinist hurled to the ground. Sho was a mess between heaving and sniffing. He viciously wiped his eyes, now brimming red from tears, as Nino slowly sat up.

His eyes still stared pitifully at Sho. "No...you're the one who doesn't get it."

Sho's voice cracked. "E-eh?"

"You keep talking as if I'm desperately in need you," Nino said. "But you got it all wrong. I didn't come here to tell you that I need you by my side. I know now I can live on my own just fine-"

Sho grunted like an angry dog in response, and he turned his back on Nino. He could walk out the theater right now, but he could hear Nino standing back up. His feet rooted to the floor. Sho hated how he remained still as if hoping for more...

"I can live on my own now," Nino continued, his voice somber and quiet. "And so can you...but not right now you can't. Even after all this time, you still need help. You need me. If you want to leave...you can leave, and I won't chase after you. But I won't have anyone else play the piano on that stage. So please play it for me. It's the only way I'll know."

Sho croaked. "Know what...?"

But he heard the carpeted footsteps as Nino walked away. His anger slowly diminished to make room for remorse, and his tears kept pouring out. He glanced back up at the giant promotional banner and sank to his knees. Nino's photo portrayed his entire personality perfectly—forever playing elegantly as if it was the only thing that mattered in this world.

"Why..." Sho sobbed up at the banner, "why did you had to say it like that? I needed you? How did you even come to that conclusion? I don't get it. That wasn't what I wanted to hear..."

Then, Sho remembered his encounter with Matsumoto.

"She really understood me even at times when I didn't. That's the kind of person you're supposed to be with."

------
end of chapter
To Chapter 15 - http://arashiforyou.livejournal.com/66816.html

okay, so here is where i shall reveal my cheesy inspiration to write sakumiya...i drew some inspiration from the song "Endlessly" by The Cab. yeah! i know! where the heck did that come from! i'm the type of person that gets inspired to write by death psych class and corny love songs from 3 years ago! but when i heard i just thought of them, so can you blame me!!? XD

also, i want to bring up the topic of Minami. what do you think? i hope you don't think she's a scumbag mother anymore. she is a person too, who went through a lot. she did not asked for any of this. she's the extrovert type and needs the love from someone who can support her for whom she is.

the next update is the final chapter! OHMYGERD!
OTL

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