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



Author Notes: here we are! the finale! ;A; here is the final music link for you, optional, to listen. it's a very light and cheerful piece, and i thought it would be a fitting ending piece for this final chapter. so picture nino and sho performing this piece :3
Enjoy!
Music reference: Beethoven-Sonata for Piano and Violin no 5, "Spring Sonata"

Chapter 15 - Sonata

Kenta was getting antsy in Ohno's lap. The intermission was over thirty minutes ago, and the audience buzzed louder and louder, wondering where the great Ninomiya went. Even the pianist was missing. In particular, Ohno wondered if something happened to Sho. The two musicians were clearly gifted in music, but they weren't playing right—Ohno could tell from one artist to another. Something was off between them on stage...

"I hope nothing bad has happened," Jun's wife mumbled, sitting two seats down from Ohno, before clasping her hands together in prayer. "Please let Nino be okay."

Jun continued patting his baby daughter's back who also started fidgeting as well. "Maybe he ate something bad and is taking his time in the toilet."

Ohno heard Kiko slapped Jun's arm. "Nino is not the type to have poor indigestion!"

"You don't know that," Jun teased back.

Kiko puffed her cheeks and looked away from him.

Ohno smirked and murmured low. "I'm kinda glad I'm a single parent."

Jun pouted at Ohno before turning his attention back to the empty stage. "You don't think...Sho left the concert hall, do you?"

Ohno could tell from Jun's tone that he was wondering the same thing. Ohno glanced down at his stubbed ticket that Aiba gave him and furrowed his brow. Kenta started entertaining himself with his finger game, and Ohno stared back at the stage as well.

"I don't know, but I promise I'd come today to see how much Sho has changed," Ohno answered. "This concert is about second chances. I believe in it because I've lived through it." Ohno gently stroke through his son's hair. "So I'll believe in him...I want to know if he did turn out to be a good man."

Another five minutes passed when Kiko was the first to notice Ninomiya walking back on stage. Ohno found it strange how they didn't announce Nino's return to the stage. The violinist walked across the wooden stage in a rather brisk pace as if something pestered him. Kiko clapped the hardest. Soon, the audience saw Nino was back, but there was still a missing pianist. Not even the page-turner was present. The audience remained dead silent as Nino stood there with his violin at his side. A certain awkwardness hung in the air. Everyone waited until Nino raised his instrument to his chin.

"Is he going to play by himself?" Jun whispered. "I thought violins always need a piano accompaniment when performing a solo."

But Nino played anyway. Kenta stopped his finger game and focused back to his favorite musician on stage. Nino's music resonated beautifully throughout the concert hall. His bow arm swung long and wide as his fingers danced across the fingerboard. Ohno wished he had his program pamphlet with him, but Kenta had ripped it to shreds during intermission for fun. Still, Nino played viciously as if he was mad about the world. A rather odd style when the melody he played had a distinct lightness. As a visual artist, Ohno tried to picture a spring setting with birds chirping and the leaves sprouting. But Nino's aggressive energy painted the image in a thick splash of red; the birds yelled at the wind while the leaves burst out in angry puffs. Ohno shook his head thinking this was completely off.

Then, Nino's finger fumbled and played an off note.

Ohno's brow came closer as he listened closely. Maybe he just imagined it. Maybe it was part of the piece to play a weird note. Ohno was no expert in playing instruments, but he knew something was strange with the way Nino was playing.

Before the intermission, Nino's playing was calm and poised—although he was a little robust. The man never batted an eyelid nor did he broke a sweat as he played through he pieces perfectly. Now, Nino's brow was tightly knitted. His disheveled hair covered his face, sweeping back and forth across his forehead with each deep swing of his bow, and his melody no longer sounded right. The birds flew upside down, and the leaves fast-forward through time with changing colors.

"Oh god, what's happening to him?" Kiko gasped.

The audience also started muttering to themselves. Nino's playing grew worse. His bow moved across the strings frantically, but the music rapidly fell apart at his fingertips. They blurred and meshed together in an awful mess. Soon, Ohno couldn't grasp an image from the distorted sounds even if he tried. The gifted musician sounded more like an unintelligent maniac. Kenta covered his ears when it got too much, and the audience's buzzing grew louder.

"Damn it!" Nino suddenly shouted out loud.

The audience gasped in unison as they watched Nino drop to his knees and elbows. His violin laid on the stage as if it was nothing special. Nino panted heavily. He bowed his head low to hide his face, and he clenched his fist tightly to suppress them from shaking. But Ohno could see the slightest trembling...

"Nino has never made a mistake on stage before," Kiko panicked. "He never does!"

Ohno couldn't believe it either. He never met the man personally, but Ohno felt a small part in him to go up on stage and hurry the man out of sight. There was something in the way Nino's body shook that reminded Ohno of Kenta when he was afraid of the vacuums. The similarity was almost striking, and Ohno unconsciously drew Kenta closer to his chest. This was a man in need of help. Someone has to step up and save him. Remove his fear factor.

Then, in the midst of the audience mumbling, a young girl in the front row started cheering.

"You can do it, Nino!"

All the adults grew quiet as they listened to the girl calling out to him. Soon, the children from the pediatric ward joined in, cheering for their sponsor.

"You can make it!"

"Stand up!"

"Don't give up!"

"Nino! Nino! Nino!"

Kenta raised his fist and started calling out as well. "Nino! Nino!"

The violinist raised his head slight and gazed back at the young children up front. Ohno watched intensely as the autistic savant slowly picked up his violin and stood back on his two feet. Ohno and the audience applauded to the man, but Nino looked exhausted on his feet. He lifted his violin as if it was the heaviest object on the planet. Nino grunted and his arms dropped to his side.

"You can do it!" The children screamed.

"Keep fighting!"

"We believe in you!"

Ohno saw Nino mouthing something. A response. But Ohno was too far away to hear, nor was he able to read lips. Nino looked like he was about to give up. None of the adults in the audience joined in the children's cheer. Perhaps just like Ohno, they were just as shock such a display of humanity was taking place. Even Nino looked slightly dumbfound. Here was a man dedicating his concert for the pediatric ward patients in need. But the children end up supporting Nino.

Then, despite the shouting of the children, Ohno heard a pair of pounding feet running down the alley and climbing up onstage.

Ohno gasped. "It's Sho!"

Only a look exchanged between the two musicians, but Ohno could see something clicked between them. While still holding his violin, in a more stronger grip, Nino wrapped his arms around Sho in front of everyone. The audience went still for one second and then back to muttering. The two musicians pulled apart from their embrace and gave each other a determined nod. Sho took his place at the piano bench, and Nino was able to lift his violin back under his chin again.

Finally, the second half of the concert began.

It was completely different from the first half. Not only were they able to play perfectly together, but they were with each other. Ohno could sense their raw emotions through their playing, and something tugged deep down inside him. Rather than being Nino's accompaniment, Sho acted as Nino's counterpart. He wasn't an add-on but another soloist onstage. Whenever Nino played a melody, Sho echoed back. When Nino performed playful tunes, Sho added to them.

Their music painted a better picture than before. The birds were back, but they soared high above the trees. The sounds the violin whistled in the wind and through the bright green leaves. The piano added footsteps as new critters entered the scene, giving their world more life and vibrance. The music of spring rang throughout the entire hall and encasing the audience in the same environment.

And in spring, the dark cloud drifted into the scene. But it wasn't a vicious storm, rather it was as if the rain had washed away the fierce fire that set them off in the first performance. Ohno could almost feel the audience sighing with relief as Nino and Sho played the harmonious piece together. It rolled in waves that brought a sense of comfort and security. Their trust in each other rang clearly across the stage and into the audience's ears.

Finally, they reached their final phrase with a jubilant tune. The grand finale to the concert. Kenta rocked his head back and forth whenever the main melody played. It didn't even looked like Sho was reading his music score. They were both playing by heart. Ohno saw Nino smiling on stage, and Sho was grinning from ear to ear.

"Ah, so this is what Aiba meant," Ohno whispered to himself.

Sho has become a changed man. He found someone just like Ohno found Kenta. This concert was a story of their journey together: the frustration they've been through when they first met, the calming aftermath when their differences were settled, the sudden fear of being apart, and the vibrant ending that leads into a new future. A new spring. The music fitted their story as well as the children. Even Ohno could relate. What once was a harsh and dull life, a new opportunity awaits.

Nino played out the final note in long bittersweet vibrato. When the final note stopped ringing, the audience exploded to their feet and cheered the loudest Ohno has ever heard. Ohno also stood up, with Kenta in his arms, and cheered along with the fans. He glanced to his side and saw Jun's wife crying while Jun waved his daughter's arm at Nino.

The two musicians came to the center stage and exchanged each other glances with a smile. With their hands held, they raised their arms up and bowed to the audience before leaving the stage.

The concert was over.

*****

Aiba made his round trips with the different hospital executives, doctors, and administrators. They were all smiling and shaking hands on what a successful concert they've organized. Thanks to the donations, they can finally make some improvements to their pediatrics department, something that Aiba fully supported. This concert will bring new beginnings...

"Aiba!"

He turned around and saw Chiaki. Her mother pushed her wheelchair closer, and Aiba kneeled down to match Chiaki's eye level. "I'm glad you came. Did you enjoy the concert?"

"It was the best," Chiaki grinned. "I'm so happy I got to see Ninomiya live."

Aiba smiled until the wrinkles appeared on his cheeks. "I'm glad. Your dream finally came true."

Chiaki did her best to nod at him despite her slightly stiff neck. "Did you hear me call out to Nino? I was the first one to cheer to him!"

His eyes widen before his grin grew wider. "Really?! That was you?"

"Yup!" Chiaki giggled. "But it's not over yet."

"No?"

"Seeing Ninomiya play on stage makes me want to fight again," Chiaki said. "I'll keep on doing what I can even if I can't move my legs. Even if my arms stop working or when I stop speaking. I'm going to keep on living and help others who need me."

Chiaki's mother pursed her lips with her eyes brimming with tears. Aiba held Chiaki's thin hands and gave them a firm shake. It seemed like only yesterday when Aiba first diagnosed her with ALS. And now he finally saw her smile, shining ever so brightly. Even through all the bitterness and anguish denial, she has matured so much and Aiba was both relieved and proud.

He rubbed her head as he normally does. "And I'll be there to help you."

As he stood up, Chiaki's mother bowed her head to him and gently pushed Chiaki away. Aiba let out a satisfying sigh and glanced down at his watch. Even though the concert was over, he returned to the concert hall and sat down next to his wife. The seats were nearly empty except for two families sitting closer up front: Jun's and Ohno's.

"Will Sakurai really play a solo for Nino?" Yuka asked him. Her large round eyes observed him for answers.

Aiba leaned back into his chair when he spot Nino sitting in the very center seat of the first row. "You saw him running back onto the stage. He's definitely going to play."

"What do you think happened back then during the intermission?" Yuka asked. "Do you think they got into an argument? I've never seen musicians make mistakes like that before."

His mind replayed the awkward scene he witness between Sho and Nino in the dressing room. Aiba never knew what happened when Nino went after Sho. Aiba hummed in his throat before responding back. "I'm not sure. To tell you the truth, I'm still confused why Nino insisted on hearing Sho's solo on stage."

"It's because Nino communicates through music."

"That he does. But he can still understand what we're saying to him verbally," Aiba quickly replied back. "Even if he doesn't give a response right away, he listens to us. Nino can hold conversations, but not to the extend where he can fully express himself. He uses his violin for that." Aiba tilted his head in thought. "Perhaps Nino believes true emotions are limited when saying through words...and that it is the same for Sho. Now I'm wondering if Nino is setting this private recital for Sho rather than himself."

Yuka's eyelashes batted with astonishment at Aiba's thesis. "You mean to say that Nino staged this to help Sakurai?"

Just then, the man himself walked across the stage alone and sat down before the piano. The small audience clapped even though it was a miniscule compare to the ambient applause during the main concert. Sho glanced at each one of his listeners, his eyes especially lingered a second longer on Nino's, and he placed his hands on the keys.

"You know what they say," Aiba uttered to Yuka. "Music doesn't lie."

At the first chord, Aiba almost jolted from his seat. The sound and the volume completely resonated deeply in his chest, like dark and impending doom luring in. This was how Sho's story started: full of anger, regret, shame, and slightly vengeful. Aiba glanced down the seats at the other spectators, wondering what their thoughts were.

He spotted Ohno farther down the seats on the right with Kenta sitting on his lap. They both focused on Sho, and Aiba wondered how much Ohno knew about music. Not that Aiba knew any more, but he hoped Ohno could sense Sho's feelings through the piano.

To his bottom left, Aiba spotted the young couple listening intently. Kiko seemed to be the most scrutinous with her piercing eyes. Jun, on the other hand, had a softer expression as if he was concern for a friend. Aiba wondered how much Jun knew about Sho that he didn't.

Finally, Nino sat in the center, leaning slightly forward, with his elbows on his knees. Aiba couldn't see Nino's face, but the violinist sat perfectly still as if he was completely absorbed into Sho's music. Funny how everyone currently in the theater became connected thanks to this one genius savant...

"This is a lovely piece," Yuka whispered next to him. "The poor man must have been through a lot."

"That he has..."

Sho's brow furrowed deeply as his fingers rained down the keys. The melody swelled louder and louder until Sho paused in his music. In the vast nearly-empty theater, the air felt ten times chilling when the noise stopped. Then, Sho trilled a softer note. Before, there was energy and vibrant movements. Now it was calmer, and Sho's piano became sweeter. This must be when Sho met Nino.

"It's like a demon meeting an angel," Aiba mumbled.

"Or a demon turning into an angel," Yuka commented next to him. "It's like a love story."

"I suppose it is."

Even with his eyes facing forward, Aiba could practically hear his wife's smile. "In a way, he's kinda like you."

At this, Aiba snapped his head to face her. "What do you mean?"

Yuka kept watching Sho's performance. "I mean, even a man who committed sin can be forgiven. When you see someone change right before your eyes, how can you justify them for what they were in the past? And especially when he did so much good to everyone around him. Koharu-chan, for example, would not be mad at you."

Sho's piano became more sorrowful, but Aiba's heart was not in rhythm with Sho's melody. Aiba's eyes grew wide with shock as he continued to stare at Yuka's profile. His heart thumped at irregular beats, possibly because a part of him was listening to Sho's piano while the other was beating with fright like a murderer found at the crime scene.

"H-h-how..."

"You were not yourself during Koharu's last few days," Yuka explained, her voice soft and angelic. "I didn't want to believe it. I never asked. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense that it was you."

Sho began playing his second climax, and Aiba turned his head to face the pianist. But his ears were more on his wife's gently voice.

"I was so upset," Yuka sighed sweetly. "There were even times I wanted to avenge Koharu, but I couldn't. I realized if I was there, I would have done the same thing." Yuka reached out and took Aiba's hand. "You're the type of person who doesn't want to see others suffer. Look at all these people you brought tonight. Their lives are different because of you, dear. Ohno would not have his family. Kiko and Jun would not have given their support for this charity. And Nino wouldn't have someone to love. I know they're thankful of you....I'm sure Koharu-chan would have been proud, and so am I."

At the word "thankful", the tears started pouring, and his mouth became an ugly pout. Aiba covered his eyes with his free hand and let out a quiet shaky sob. He grasped onto her hand tighter, and she squeezed back.

Sho was near the ending of his piece. Aiba could tell because he realized it was also his song. It was the same for Ohno, and Jun, and Nino too. They were all similar to Sho in some sense. They were all different people in their past, someone they were not proud of. And yet Sho played his piece with vibrant hope and love as if he had finally forgiven himself and ready to move on. He was ready to face the challenges ahead of him even with the burden of his past sins.

This was the piece Sho played. It was their song.

At last, Sho's piano rang quiet. The first one to clap his hands was Nino. Soon, Aiba followed and the rest gave their applause to Sho's spectacular performance. The man was panting heavily as if he ran for miles. Aiba couldn't blame him; Sho played his entire life summary up to this point in less than five minutes. They all gathered at the front where they congratulated Sho's solo.

"That was wonderful," Yuka commented first with a bright smile and kind eyes. "You should have performed during the main concert."

"If you can play that well, then I don't mind you staying by Nino's side as his accompanist," Kiko said smartly.

Aiba patted his hand down on Sho's shoulder. "Even I was able to understand your feelings through your music."

"You should definitely think of launching a solo career," Jun added.

Nino didn't say anything, but his smile was genuine.

Sho kept looking more and more bashful, his lips sucked in and bowing his head curtly whenever a new comment came towards him. The last person to speak was Ohno. Even with little Kenta clinging to his father's leg, Ohno's eyes still looked hard at Sho. Sensing the awkward tension, everyone waited for the man to speak.

Then, Aiba spotted Ohno's tightened brow softened.

"I'm glad...I got to hear your music piece," Ohno finally said. "Kenta really liked it too."

Sho made a loud snuffling noise and bowed his head low. "Thank you so much!"

The atmosphere grew warm again, and Jun's daughter let out a happy wail. Just her sheer voice made everyone smiling and laughing. It was a moment Aiba wanted to put it in a picture frame. Everyone was full of smiles, the ideal setting that Aiba loved to see. It was something Aiba always strived to see everywhere he goes...

*****

The ride back home was quiet. The magic from their concert still felt alive in their stomach, but it slowly started to feel like a dream. When Aiba, Jun, and Ohno left with their family, the atmosphere became awkward again. Sho's nervousness quickly resurfaced just by being alone with Nino. Neither one of them uttered a sound as they drove through the city streets.

Sho stole a quick side-glance and saw Nino gazing out the window, his chin resting on the back of his short hand.

"I've got to say something," Sho thought, his hands gripping tight on the stirring wheel. "But what should I do?"

When they came to a red light, Sho stared listlessly off to the side of the street. He must have stared at the stupid neon sign for a full minute before a lightbulb flicked in his head. The moment the green light flashed on, Sho drove up the street and made a U-turn.

At last, Nino spoke. "What are you doing? Home is back that way."

But Sho made it back to the neon sign he saw earlier and parked at the side curb. After he turned off the car, Sho got out and quickly went around to open the car door for Nino as if he was his personal assistant. When the violinist stepped out, he also noticed the neon sign and he gazed up in awe.

"Guitar Shop"

"Shall we go in?" Sho grinned and took the lead.

A small bell rang when they entered the shop. They were the only customers, and one elderly store manager greeted them with a humble nod before turning back to his laptop. Sho glanced down at Nino and saw the man's jaw hung open. An assortment of guitars displayed across the pale yellow walls, and stacks of guitar tab books and CDs stationed at the center. Behind the register, different types of pegs, string sets, and tuners perched on the shelves. A large range of amplifiers hugged the base of the wall, and small keychains dangled from a display rack.

But Nino's eyes glued to the string instruments on the wall. One in particular.

Sho glanced back at the manager. "Excuse me, may we see that acoustic guitar?"

The store manager looked up, his thick mustache twitched as if he swished his mouth back and forth. Sho imagined what the manager was thinking: what the heck are two tuxedo men doing in my store? But the manager hummed a reply and helped pull the guitar down from its rack.

The moment the instrument touched Nino's hand, Sho already saw the newfound love growing in Nino's eyes. He plucked a single string, and the note vibrated a deep and soothing sound. Without even hesitating, Sho turned back to the store manager. "I would like to buy the set."

This time, the aged manager's eyebrow slowly raised up without even lifting his eyelids. But the man twitched his mustache again and walked to the back of the store to retrieve the necessary items.

Nino peered up from the guitar with large confused eyes. "Why...why are you...doing this?"

"I...uh, I'll explain when we get home," Sho said, sensing the manager was close by and picking out beginner guitar tabs from his collection like an expert.

After Sho made the purchase, they carried Nino's new instrument and equipment into the car trunk. Now the ride home felt less awkward, but Sho's heart started pounding again as he pulled up to Nino's house. When they entered the house, the first place Nino went to was the practice room to set down his violin case and his new guitar—he didn't even turn on the lights save for the one outside in the hallway. Without waiting, he opened the guitar case and lifted the instrument into his hands. He swung the strap over his shoulder, but he paused just as his hands were about to strum the first chord.

Sho lingered by the doorway and watched Nino hesitate. When Nino glanced back, his eyes were shining. Sho nodded to him. "Go ahead."

The violinist stared back down at his new instrument. It was larger than a violin, and it had an extra string. But if Nino could learn how to play the piano, he could learn how to play the guitar. He ran his thumb over the strings, and a melodic tune hummed in the spacious practice room. The strings were so much deeper than a violin. Soft, calming, and romantic. Nino made a little giddy shake, eager to begin practicing. But his body was tired, and Nino placed the guitar back into its case for tomorrow.

"It suits you," Sho spoke up after Nino zipped up the acoustic guitar away. "I think you'll master it in no time."

Nino stood back up, his eyes clear and focused. "Why did you give me this all of a sudden?"

"I thought...a new you should seek out a new skill," Sho answered. "When you were working with me, you learned to play the piano. And now that you no longer need me...I figured you'll want to play a new instrument. A string instrument, of course. They are your specialty."

Nino's brow slightly turned down as if Sho's logic didn't make sense to him.

Sho blinked and gazed around the floor, annoyed that he had to reformulate his words again. "It's like a graduation present. Sachi...was like your violin. Always there. Always present. Always with you. I was temporarily your piano." He stared at the studio piano sitting against the wall. "Not much color. Only black and white keys. Always changing...but now you have a new guitar. Something that can represent a new part of you. The independent you."

The silence dragged on between them, but Sho saw the concentration on Nino's brow. The man was thinking long and hard on his words before he could speak. Sho's palms began to dampen, and he wiped them along his backside to steady his nervousness. A whole year has passed since Sho built this practice room back when he was just a lonesome construction worker. The same room that they encountered their first musical experience, their first fight, their first kiss...first sex. And now Sho will hear Nino's first thoughts of him.

"I've been thinking a lot on the way back," Nino uttered. "About your solo, about my music, about...us."

Sho quickly spoke up. "If you don't want to talk about it, then I'm okay with that. You've made it clear before, and all I can do is respect it. You want to go to America? That is fine by me. I'll be out of your way...I hope you like your new guitar."

Sho turned around to head back to his room, but he felt a strong hand grip tightly around his wrist

"Please listen to me!" Nino said firmly. "What I said earlier, about being able to live on my own, you know I meant it."

Sho's brow twitched, but he didn't dare turn to look back at Nino. If he took one glance, Sho knew he'll be suckered into those eyes.

"About you needing me, you know that was also true," Nino continued. "I was able to confirm that through your solo performance tonight. It told me everything I needed to know." Nino's grip tightened. "It wasn't easy for you...and for so long...and I wasn't the ideal partner to begin with. Do you know what your music really told me? You want to be free just as much as I do. But we complete each other. My violin and your piano. It is like we are chained to each other, and that's why you're so scared of being left alone. And yet the music we play together makes so much sense to me, I don't even know how to explain it."

Sho gave in and glanced over his shoulder.

"All I'm asking is for you to let me have my freedom...let me be on my own for some time...but don't tell you won't be my pianist anymore!" Nino's eyes glistened. "You say your past terrifies you because it reminds you of what you're capable of? Well, I'm terrified how much I want to keep you because...because I love you too."

Sho's heart leaped to his throat at those words. He whirled around to face Nino and watched the shorter man blushing deeply and veered his eyes down.

"I can live without you," Nino said, his voice low and husky, "but the truth is I choose not to. Not because I'm dependent of you...but because I want you with me!" Nino's voice grew louder with more heated passion. "Just because I said I want to be on my own for a bit doesn't mean I don't want you at all! How can you be so stupid?! I'm not calling myself a saint either, but I swear you were meant to be my partner! I can help you, Sho! And I will love you no matter!"

At that instant, Sho pulled Nino for a tight embrace. Nino's arms wrapped around Sho's back with his short hands clinging to the pianist's shoulders. If there was any trace of anxiety and doubt left in Sho's body, it had completely washed away. Within the dark and quiet practice room, Sho felt lighter as if the final thorn plucked from his chest.

"You were right, Nino," Sho muffled into Nino's hair. "I need you...I need you in my life even if it means to be patient. I will wait for you. Always."

Nino slowly pulled away from their hug and held Sho's face. From the hallway light, Sho could see Nino's eyes sparkling just before the violinist leaned up for a kiss. Sho slithered his arms around Nino's waist as their jaws moved. Their warm lips pressed against each other, and their tongues traced along the corners to each other's mouth. Sho was about to pull away to catch his breath, but Nino quickly pulled Sho's head closer for a longer enduring kiss. Finally, Nino released them just as Sho's lips peeled away from the gifted violinist. Somehow their heartful confessions seemed silly, and they giggled at each other, fingers lacing each other.

"Say it one more time," Nino moaned, his lips smirking. "That you need me."

Sho's eyebrow twitched up. "You're quite sadist, aren't you?"

Nino let out a chuckle as Sho brought his nose to the crook of Nino's neck and nuzzled down on soft skin again. If the world condensed into one room, their practice room was their own once again...

*****

~One Year Later~


Sho carried the bouquet of white flowers up the concrete stairs. Nino followed behind him with his own set of flowers, and the split up when they reached the cemetery. Sho gazed down at the numerous gravestones until he found one that was itched with his mother's name. Someone had already placed some flowers before her grave, and Sho made a small smile. He placed his flowers next to it and brought his hands together in a prayer.

Just when he was about finished, he felt his phone buzzing. He reached inside his pocket and read a text message from his brother. They were having a family dinner tonight at a restaurant, and they wanted Sho to join them. Sho's smile grew wider and he happily texted back he'll come. Family dinners were always once a week now.

He stood up and went to find Nino at Sachi's burial. The man stayed still as a statue himself with his hands close together. Sensing Sho behind him, Nino glanced over his shoulder.

"I'm going to have dinner with my family tonight," Sho said. "Do you want to come?"

"No, I like staying at home," Nino answered as he stood up. "You should stay home too. You have a solo concert to perform next week."

Sho chuckled. "I've practiced enough already. I think I deserve a break from music."

Nino flustered up as if he was insulted. "You can't take a break from music! You are a professional pianist now! Music must constantly be your life! Your very existence! I will not forgive you if you quit music!"

"I won't quit, Nino. You're overreacting," Sho rolled his eyes before walking away.

Nino caught up to him. "Will you bring back food?"

"You can make dinner yourself," Sho teased. "Or you can go hang out at Jun's place."

"But Aiba and his wife are planning to have their baby shower there. It'll be too noisy."

"But someone's gotta watch over Kenta and Sachiko during their a play date," Sho refuted back. "You could probably help relieve the parents with your guitar. They like it."

It took a while before Sho became aware of the absent footsteps behind him. When he glanced back, he saw Nino making a pouty face of disappointment. Sho sighed and walked back to Nino. He gently took the violinist hands and kissed the corner of Nino's mouth.

"Let's go home."

Nino nodded.

They walked back down the stairs with their hands laced together and their matching gold rings.

The End

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