this part: R
Konomi's, not mine
a/n: In which there are violins. First person to name an actual, honest-to-god violin piece for me will get a prize. Or their name mentioned in the next update. Or something.
Ohtori stifles a yawn as he bends over his geometry homework. Life has been hectic lately. The teachers were obviously trained in sadism, for they delight in piling on more and more work with each new day. Clearly they're waiting to see who'll be the first to crack. Ohtori is determined that it won't be him, but it's hard to remember that at ten o'clock, after a tennis practice that seemed to last for years followed by two hours of frustration in the company of his violin. No less than three strings had snapped, Ohtori's fingers cramped from all the swings he'd done earlier and, worst of all, the music just wouldn't come. All he was doing was sawing the bow across the violin. This was not where he wanted to be when he had an under-sixteens violin solo competition the very next weekend.
Hideki is splayed across his bed, reading a manga. He's only in the art club, and he finished his homework hours ago. He offered to let Ohtori copy. Ohtori managed not to let his indignation show at the time, but now he's almost considering taking Hideki up on it. Lights are out in half an hour and Ohtori is only half way through his maths problems.
A knock comes at the door, and Hideki rolls to his feet to answer it. Ohtori hides a frown in his hand. The last thing he needs is one of Hideki's friends cluttering up the air with loud debates about the crassness of Henri Rousseau's work, or whatever is the current hot topic in the art club.
He nearly falls off his chair as a familiar, if confused, voice asks, "Er, hey. Is Chou -- is Ohtori-kun here?"
"Shishido," gasps Ohtori. "What are you doing here?"
Shishido is leaning against the doorframe, twirling his cap in his hands. To anyone else the pose would have appeared arrogantly confident, but Ohtori knows Shishido well enough to realise that he's feeling hesitant. Ohtori would be too, if Hideki was looking at him with such a vicious expression.
"I came to visit you, of course." Shishido clears his throat. "I was wondering -- well, you know Saturday is free activities, so I was thinking we could hit the street courts. We need to brush up on our doubles work before next year if we're going to take back the D1 spot."
"I'd love to, but I can't." Ohtori's brain runs through his options. There are none. He bites his lip in regret. "I have a violin competition on Saturday. I really can't miss it."
"Don't sweat it, Ohtori," says Shishido, sounding amused. "We can play next weekend."
"Sure." Shishido flips his cap a little too quickly, and it ends up on Hideki's bed. Hideki brushes it to the floor as if it were a poisonous spider. Ohtori gapes at his impoliteness, but to call him on it would be even more rude.
Shishido doesn't seem to notice anything amiss. He scoops up his cap and peeks over Ohtori's shoulder. "Geometry, eh? I remember that unit. It was a killer."
"Tell me about it," groans Ohtori. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Hideki scowling fit to burst.
"It's nearly lights-out," snaps Hideki. "You'll have to leave soon ... what was your name again?"
"I know that, squirt." Shishido doesn't even look at Hideki, fixing his gaze on Ohtori instead. "If you want some help with that -- well, I have a torch. And all my old notes."
He grins rakishly.
"That'd be brilliant. Thank you, Shishido."
"Don't mention it." Shishido pauses at the door. "Where is your competition on?"
Ohtori reels off the address. Shishido nods, satisfied. "Do your best, Choutarou."
"Of course." Ohtori beams, but Shishido is already gone.
"You're finished, right?" says Hideki roughly. He slams off the light before Ohtori even has a chance to reply.
Shishido pushes open the door to the hotel, feeling a dart of guilt at the sweaty mark he leaves on the gold handle. His discomfort only increases as he takes in the plush surroundings in the hotel lobby, from the glittering chandelier to the potted palms. He nearly turns around and leaves, but then he spots the signs leading the way to a violin recital.
The doorman guarding the way to the ballroom raises sceptical eyebrows at Shishido's rather pungent streetware, but when he gets out his Hyoutei student card it's like flashing a gold Visa. "You're just in time," the doorman whispers, and ushers him through.
Shishido hides behind a marble column as rousing applause breaks out. A girl, trembling like a leaf in a gale, walks away from the spot-lit dais at the other end of the ballroom and promptly dissolves into tears.
"Next we have Ohtori Choutarou of Hyoutei Senior High School. He will be playing 'The Lark Ascending' by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Ohtori Choutarou, ladies and gentlemen."
A door behind the dais opens and Ohtori comes through. The compère guides him the front of the dais. Shishido's eyes widen as he takes in his friend's appearance. Ohtori is dressed in tails, with a white shirt and a black bowtie. His head is thrown back, his hair swept off his face. Shishido is used to the glittering eyes and burning cheeks that always accompany Ohtori's performance, but this is something else again. Ohtori looks almost ... fierce.
Ohtori bows, and Shishido has a chance to notice the panel of judges sitting at a table in front of the dais. Ohtori lifts his violin to his neck and gently lays the bow across it. His eyes flutter closed.
And then, he plays.
Shishido would never admit that Ohtori's playing gives him the goosebumps. For one thing, it would mortify Ohtori and he might never play for Shishido again. Shishido knows that Ohtori is just another boy, but he has a hard time remembering it when Ohtori is in the thrall of an instrument. Then, he's more like a fallen angel -- or a reformed demon. Shishido can't make up his mind.
When the bow finally stops flying, the polite applause rises again. This time it sounds more enthusiastic, or maybe that's because Shishido is adding considerably to the racket from behind his pillar. Ohtori sags, his feet dragging as he goes to the ranks of chairs and sinks into one. Shishido guesses that he made some tiny mistake that no one who isn't a total perfectionist would hear, and it's getting him down. Shishido is impatient to go tell him how good -- how great -- he was, but the compère has ascended the dais again.
He announces a ten-minute recess while the judges review the performances. Shishido sees his chance and wends his way through the slowly moving crowd, banging more than one person with his tennis bag.
"Choutarou!" exclaims Shishido, grinning. Ohtori looks up, his face dazed. His eyes widen into swirling vats of chocolate.
"Shishido! You came. Why did you come?" Without waiting for an answer, Ohtori rushes on. "Wasn't that terrible? I panicked in the middle -- I couldn't remember what note came next, and there was this pause, I could see the judges staring at me --"
Shishido is used to Ohtori's adrenaline rushes. He's just the same after tennis matches, except at least then he knows if he's won or lost before he starts berating himself for his mistakes. Shishido puts a steadying hand on Ohtori's shoulder and Ohtori shuts up with a suddenness that surprises Shishido. He guesses that his gesture was unwarranted, and quickly returns his hand to the grip of his bag.
"You sounded brilliant to me," he assures Ohtori. He wants to banish that fragile look from Ohtori's face, but nothing he can do will erase Ohtori's habitual uncertainty. He's tried before.
"Who is this, Choutarou?" asks a new voice. It is cultured, finely-modulated, and as cold as ice shavings. Shishido feels his back stiffen in response.
"Okaasan! You came too. This is awesome." Ohtori's smile is wide and unfettered. "This is my friend, Shishido-san. Remember, I played doubles with him in middle school?"
"I remember," says Ohtori's mother. "Please do not use those slang words, Choutarou."
Her gaze roves over Shishido, catching on his cap (he forgot to take it off, and he can suddenly feel the sweat beading in his hair), the scrub marks on his shirt and shorts, his scuffed sneakers, the tennis bag that's seen better days. "So this is the famous Shishido-san, is it? At home it's always Shishido-san this, Shishido-san that. I'd swear that you were the only other person attending Hyoutei." She gives a little laugh, which sounds like ice cubes tinkling in a glass.
Shishido manages a smile. It hurts his mouth.
"Okaasan," hisses Ohtori, turning red. "Don't say things like that."
"Why not? It's true." Ohtori's mother clasps her hands over her elaborate obi. The last time Shishido's mother wore kimono was at her wedding twenty years ago. For some reason he thinks Ohtori-san can sense this, and despises it. "You are a good senpai to my son, Shishido-kun."
"I try." Shishido's tongue feels thick in his mouth.
"Indeed." Ohtori's mother turns to her son. She reaches up to fix his collar with a frown. "I'm glad to see that your playing has improved somewhat, Choutarou. It would have been an awful waste of money otherwise. I'm afraid I must be off, though. I expect you to bring me home a prize."
"You won't stay?" says Ohtori weakly.
His mother shakes her head. "Your father and I have an important lunch date with one of his clients. I only came to see you because we were in the area." Her small smile looks a little more genuine than before -- but not much. "I will tell him that he can be proud of his son, as always."
"Thank you, Okaasan." They bow to each other, looking oddly formal to Shishido's eyes, before Ohtori's mother glides off. She moves like a geisha.
Shishido can't think what to say. He hates to see Ohtori looking so pale and drawn, though. A few minutes ago Ohtori shone brighter than a Christmas tree. Somehow his mother managed to sap him of all his joy.
Nice going, thinks Shishido, sarcastic even in his brain.
"Please sit down, Shishido." Ohtori pauses. "Unless you have to go somewhere, too."
Shishido sits down so fast that he nearly overturns the chair.
In the end Ohtori walks off with first prize. Shishido thinks that even Ohtori-san would be pleased with the huge silver cup, which is too big for Ohtori to carry easily. He doesn't complain, but he does let Shishido hold it for a while as they wander the streets looking for a ramen stand to celebrate Ohtori's win.
"I can see my face in this," teases Shishido.
"Careful it doesn't break, then," Ohtori returns cheekily. For a moment, Shishido is stunned by Ohtori's audacity -- then he laughs out loud. Ohtori's finally growing up.
"You are pleased, though?" asks Shishido. Ohtori, despite his big smile for the cameras, has looked a little down ever since his mother left.
"Of course. I'm very lucky -- my practising hasn't been going right for ages. It all came together for me today."
"Yeah, right. You're gifted -- just admit it." Shishido grins to take the bite out of his words and shifts the cup under his arm, where it pushes hard and cold against his belly.
Ohtori just ducks his head, the old blush returning full force. He hasn't grown out of that yet, it seems. Shishido is oddly pleased by the fact.
"I was wondering, Shishido," says Ohtori, stumbling a bit over the words, "if you'd like -- part of the prize was two tickets to Disneyland. I thought you could come with me." He raises his pleading gaze to Shishido's face, which he has to quickly school to hide his horror at the prospect. "If you don't want to, you don't have to. My sister will just make me take her." He shrugs. Shishido can read a million words in that gesture. Who wants to go to Disneyland with his sister?
Who wants to go to Disneyland at all? Shishido corrects himself. Certainly not Shishido. But he can tell that Ohtori wants to -- a lot.
He swallows his repugnance. "Sure, Choutarou. Just --" he winces "-- no rollercoasters, all right?"
"Shishido is afraid of heights?" Ohtori sounds surprised. Shishido gives a tight little nod. For some reason, Ohtori looks thoughtful.
"Shishido is afraid of heights," he repeats, more softly. He nods, as if storing away a vital piece of information.
"C'mon, the ramen stall will close if you keep dawdling," says Shishido. "Even great violinists need to eat, you know."
"Especially if they're being treated," replies Ohtori slyly. Shishido just laughs and digs out his wallet.
"What time will you be back?"
"I don't know," says Ohtori, as patiently as he can given that it's the fourth time Hideki's asked this question. "The last train is at eleven, so twelve at the latest, I suppose. We've cleared it with the dorm masters," he adds, before Hideki can object to that. Again.
"Hmph." Hideki shoulders into his pillow, dark eyes fixed on Ohtori. Ohtori hides a sigh. Hideki has been having some gruesome mood swings lately -- snapping at Ohtori for no reason until Ohtori feels tears prick the back of his eyes, but sweet as pie the next minute. Ohtori is severely regretting his decision to room with Hideki, but at least there's only a few months to go before they're juniors. Ohtori guesses that Hideki is greatly anticipating that day. Ohtori knows he is.
Ohtori starts getting changed. He planned on being ready ages ago, but Hideki hasn't stopped asking annoying questions since breakfast. At least it means that Ohtori doesn't have any more time to fret over what he's going to wear. He changed his mind every day since asking Shishido to come with him. Nearly everything he owns is too childish or too boring -- except his dress clothes, which are hardly appropriate for an amusement park.
Hideki is staring at him as he strips off his uniform trousers and steps into his black jeans. Ohtori turns his back when he changes shirts, but he can feel Hideki's angry glare on his bare skin. Getting dressed in boarding school always presented a problem for Ohtori, as he gets embarrassed about people seeing him naked. Most people are polite enough to at least not watch -- even Hideki, up until now. Ohtori longs for a screen to shield him from Hideki's gaze.
He is tying his laces when Shishido knocks on the door. The blush that started while he changed doubles in intensity as Ohtori takes in Shishido's outfit. Baggy calf-length shorts, a blue t-shirt adorned with silver writing, a jacket slung casually over his shoulders and -- wonder of wonders -- no cap. He's obviously tried to neaten his hair, but it sticks up in careless whorls and spikes.
Ohtori holds his breath in what might have been jealousy. Shishido looks so cool.
"Good, you're ready," says Shishido, breaking Ohtori's reverie. "We need to leave right now if we want to catch this train."
"I'll just get my money." Ohtori ties his final knot and gropes the bed for wallet. "That's funny, I could have sworn I put my wallet right here --"
"That green one, isn't it?" Shishido's eyes are narrowed, and he doesn't wait for an answer before continuing, "It looks like it's under your roomie's bed."
Ohtori follows his gaze and laughs. "How on earth did it get under there?" He drops to his knees and pulls it out, apologising to Hideki for bumping his leg. Hideki just grunts again.
Ohtori peers into his wallet. "All present. Let's go!"
"Let's," echoes Shishido, his gaze crackling and not directed at Ohtori.
Ohtori doesn't register Shishido's mood. He's too excited, and he can't help sharing his
feelings with Shishido via a big, goofy grin.
Behind him, Hideki scowls darkly.
The most horrible fact about Disneyland doesn't hit Shishido straight away. This is mainly because there are plenty of moderately horrible facts to keep him occupied in the meantime, like the hordes of children and the creeps dressed as mice and the screams from the scarier rides and the sheer, unadulterated dorkiness of the place.
Disneyland is filled with couples.
They loom out of every queue and crevice, taunting Shishido. He already knew that it was a mistake agreeing to come -- well, aside from the delight it inspired in his friend -- but now the mistake has taken on catastrophic proportions. It's fine for two boys to hang out in other places, but Disneyland might as well change its name to Lovers' Paradise.
Ohtori hasn't appeared to notice this dynamic -- he's purchased a map and is studying it intently, occasionally seeking Shishido's opinion on one ride or another. Shishido makes non-committal replies as a parade of couples swans by their bench. Some of them are even holding hands.
Then again, Shishido shouldn't expect Ohtori to be aware of such things. A year makes a big difference at their age.
It's not that he's worried that strangers in the crowd will think that he and Ohtori are dating, or something. Who'd do that, even if they were ... into boys? True, half the locker room talk is about what the seniors used to get up to with their roommates when they were freshmen. It's okay to fool around when you're young -- not that Shishido did -- but no one is supposed to take it seriously.
He's glad that Ohtori isn't the type to experiment either. He has a feeling that Ohtori would take it seriously.
He trails around after Ohtori, trying to drum up some enthusiasm for his sake. Ohtori has enough eagerness for the both of them anyway. They make an almost totally comprehensive tour of the park, excepting the rides that involve heights. Even for Ohtori, Shishido doesn't think he could shake his phobia. He's pleased that Ohtori doesn't pester him about it. He's a good kid.
It's while they're on the ghost train that Shishido realises he's not the only one with an irrational fear. From the moment they got on the ride, Ohtori has been stiff with it. When lighting-effect ghosts materialise from the darkness, Ohtori gasps. His shaking hand finds Shishido's on the safety rail and holds on tight.
Shishido wants to laugh, but Ohtori didn't when the tables were turned. He also wants to peel off Ohtori's hand, too, but then again no one can see it there. So he lets it pass, and by the end of the ride Ohtori's grip has nearly cut off his circulation.
Ohtori's hands are both loosely gripping the rail when the train emerges into the light once more. His face is waxy. Shishido decides he needs some sugar and drags him off to a candyfloss stand.
He doesn't mention the hand-holding, and Ohtori seems to have forgotten that it even happened.
Ohtori has always thought about Shishido a lot, ever since they first became doubles partners. At first it was because he didn't know Shishido all that well, and wondered how he might react to different things. Later he had imaginary conversations with him that were, if not particularly satisfying, at least prevented him from talking Shishido's ear off every time they met. Ohtori loves to tell Shishido things, but even Shishido doesn't have an unlimited capacity for listening to babble. Ohtori prefers to keep their conversation revolving around the important things: tennis, music and food.
After the day in Disneyland, the imaginary conversations evolve. Ohtori envisages wild scenarios, where Shishido is trapped in a burning building and Ohtori is the only one who can save him. Or where they take their tennis doubles to Wimbleton and win. Or where the door to the piano rooms is accidentally locked and they have to spend the whole night there, and Ohtori staves off Shishido's boredom by playing for him. Most of the fantasies end in Shishido's bedroom -- Shishido is so grateful for whatever Ohtori has done for him that he lifts up the duvet and invites Ohtori into bed with him.
The idea of sleeping side by side with Shishido, double body warmth making everything comfortable, sends tingles through Ohtori's skin. He often starts to blush -- in the middle of the night, for crying out loud -- and that's when he switches to thinking about class or his newest piano piece.
Ohtori isn't as innocent as everyone seems to think. He's jacked off before. When he was younger he'd just lie on his tummy and rub gently against the sheets. Granted, it was a while before Ohtori figured out that his own hand felt better than the friction of cloth.
He still doesn't like to do it unless he absolutely has to -- but he does know how. Even if he didn't, sharing a room with Hideki would be an education in itself. Ten minutes after lights-out Hideki is at it, every night, his breathing a harsh rasp in the darkness. Even Ohtori's iPod doesn't drown out the slick sounds completely.
If Ohtori has to, he always waits until Hideki falls asleep.
"Excellent, Shishido!" Ohtori's voice brims with pleasure, and he turns to face Shishido with a blinding smile. "You've really got the hang of it now. Want to try it once more?"
"Sure." Shishido shrugs, pretending to act like he doesn't care. He fails miserably due to the matching grin on his own face. He places his fingers lightly on the keys and begins to play.
Ohtori claps at the end. When Shishido sends him an arch look, Ohtori flushes but holds his gaze. "What? A good performance deserves a round of applause."
"Then I should be clapping for you," says Shishido, feeling himself start to blush for no reason at all. "It's all because of you."
"Oh, no, Shishido," protests Ohtori. "Your hard work has paid off. I only helped."
"No. All you." Shishido keeps his voice firm. While Ohtori is still stuck in a state of sweet confusion, Shishido stretches up a whole two inches and kisses him on the mouth.
It's an act born of pure impulse, but it wouldn't have happened with anyone but Ohtori. And maybe not even Ohtori, if one side of his body weren't touching Shishido's or if they weren't such good friends or if it weren't the only way Shishido can think of to stop Ohtori's face from dropping in annoying self-deprecation.
Ohtori's lips are soft, with a ridge of dry skin where they meet. His fingers twitch where Shishido has accidentally caught them under his thigh and he begins to tremble.
"That's to say thanks," says Shishido when he pulls back. His heart is racing, which is silly -- it was only a little thank-you kiss, like the ones he gives his mother on birthdays. So it was on the lips. So Ohtori isn't a female relative. It's still the same.
Ohtori touches his mouth. Wonder fills his face, and makes Shishido apprehensive.
"Listen --" his voice is sharp "-- I'd better go, okay?"
Ohtori nods and smiles. A hard, twisted knot forms in Shishido's stomach as he hurries away.