Originally published here - 2008.03.27
Pairing: Sakuraiba... or not.
Word Count: 1,582
Summary: Aiba's confession breaks him.
Notes: I finally wrote something I'm proud of! I was determined to write something that makes me cry, and I succeeded. Inspired by Angela Aki's "Your Love Song". I uploaded the song so you can take a listen, it's a really beautiful but extremely sad song. I commend all you writers who write angst, it's freakin' hard. Let me know if you cry too.
The rehearsal space was empty, save for one body lying in the middle of the dance floor. Everyone had gone home to their families and loved ones hours ago, but one remained. The studio lights were turned off; the only light filtered through the window of the door from the track lighting in the hallway. The person lying on the sprung floor was completely still. Only the deep, periodic sighs belied his consciousness.
The man on the floor turned to rest on his side, arms clutching the knees brought up to his chest. A long, dark fringe fell across his forehead, obscuring the furrow between his delicate eyebrows. His face, normally brightly lit with smile and laughter, looked old. His full lips looked thin, pursed into a hard line, the bottom one caught between hidden teeth. His long, lean frame, carried with such awkward grace, was curled in on itself, trying to disappear into the floorboards.
Aiba couldn’t remember what he felt like before that day. Now, he felt empty. Now, he felt tired: he felt tired of fighting, tired of pretending, tired of wishing. He felt tired of crying.
He replayed the same catastrophic scene in his head again. He had been replaying it since that evening, since he took the leap, stepped onto the tracks and made a train wreck of his life. He wanted to change the outcome, have that fairytale ending, but the actors would not follow his script. Nothing would be the same again, after that day. He had ruined everything.
He remembered the end of rehearsal. He tried to remember that feeling of elation associated with perfecting a complicated set of choreography without injury. He remembered Jun being the first to take his leave. He remembered Nino coercing Captain into going out to get a meal, on this rare evening not taken up by work. He remembered Sho checking his own schedule and preparing for the following day. He remembered asking Sho to wait for him.
Aiba’s already fragile features crumpled as the horror scene continued to play. Hot tears escaped the confines of his eyelashes, falling sideways off the bridge of his nose onto the cold wood. He sniffled and a ragged sob tore through his body as he remembered.
Sho was planning to go home that night to a family dinner. His mother had been complaining that they were working too much these days and insisted that he at least eat a proper meal once a week. Aiba had asked Sho to wait in the locker room while he clarified something with the choreographer.
“You know, if you want to come to dinner, I’m sure my mom won’t mind. You know she worries about you the most, since you don’t go home that often.” Sho said as he threw his sweaty dance clothes into a duffle bag to take home for his mother to wash.
“I know. Tell her I’m fine and say hi for me.” Aiba replied as he walked to his own locker and opened it, staring into the clutter to hide the palpitations of his heart that he was sure were visible.
“So, you aren’t looking for a free meal?”
“No, I’m not. I wanted to talk to you.” Aiba took a deep breath. He turned around and saw Sho’s features cloud with concern. ‘He really does take after his mother’, Aiba had thought.
Aiba took another deep breath and one, two, three steps to cross the floor between his locker and the bench where Sho was sat. He clenched his fists at his side to keep them from wringing the hem of his t-shirt and sat down, farther away from Sho that he normally would. He remembered that Sho noticed.
“Masaki, what’s wrong? You’re usually bouncing off the walls after surviving a rehearsal like that one. You’re scaring me.” Sho closed the space between them, sliding along the bench. He brought their knees together, an inch apart, and rested a supportive hand on Aiba’s shoulder.
Aiba remembered that tone, that worried, maternal tone. He remembered the strength in that hand that had offered so much over the years. He remembered noticing the lack of honorific: they were closer than that.
“Sho, how long have we been friends?” Aiba asked in a voice that was smaller than he had intended. Sho tilted his head to the side in thought and began counting on his fingers.
“I don’t know… Eight? Nine? I’ve lost count.” Another deep breath; Aiba chewed his bottom lip.
“I can’t even remember a time when we weren’t friends.” Sho smiled gently at Aiba, squeezing the shoulder under his palm. Aiba felt warmth rise in his cheeks. He closed his eyes and tried to regain control of his heart rate for fear of passing out before accomplishing what he had intended to do. “Is there a word stronger than friends?”
Aiba saw out of the corner of his eye the confused look on Sho’s face. One last deep breath. And then he plunged.
In one fluid motion, Aiba turned and rested the tips of his fingers against the smooth skin of Sho’s cheek as he brushed his lips against his friend’s. It was a chaste, innocent, questioning kiss. Aiba could feel Sho’s eyelashes fluttering against his own skin as the other man blinked repeatedly. It only lasted a few seconds. Aiba slowly withdrew, letting go of the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He looked down at the fists in his lap. He had felt scared.
Aiba remembered the moment he finally looked at his friend’s face: Sho was still blinking, the fingers of his right hand gingerly touching his lips as if trying to mimic the sensation of the kiss. The way his eyebrows were slightly drawn together, the faraway look in his eyes, the pale cast of his skin, said all Aiba had feared. But he still wanted to hear the words.
Aiba grabbed a crease of Sho’s jeans between his fingers, trying to maintain or repair the connection that had once been between them. After a moment, Sho focused on the hand reaching out to him. Aiba remembered the rush of blood in his ears, feeling the sting of tears that welled up in his eyes. Clutching the fabric between his fingers, he whispered, “I love you, Sho.”
Sho leaned forward, holding his head in his hands as he rested his elbows on his knees, mindful of Aiba’s fingers still clinging to his jeans. He took several deep breaths before replying. Aiba read the answer in his body before Sho even gave it. “I’m sorry, Masaki.”
Aiba remembered the first tears falling from his eyes, rolling down his red cheeks, dropping soundlessly onto his sweatpants. “I know.” Aiba’s voiced cracked.
“I’m sorry. I… I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t do that to my parents.” Sho’s fingers pulled at his hair in frustration. Aiba remembered the first pang in his chest that came with those words.
“Do you… do you think I had a choice?” Aiba remembered Sho’s head snap up at the question. Sho covered Aiba’s hands with his own, in his motherly way. Aiba remembered that he hesitated.
“I’m not… That’s not… I… Maybe…” Always so eloquent, Sho was lost. “Maybe… if we weren’t who we are, maybe if we didn’t have watch what we do all the time…”
“Satoshi and Kazu do it all the time.” Aiba knew he sounded like a petulant child but he was beyond caring.
“I know, but… that’s different.”
“It’s just… different.” Sho let go of Aiba’s hands. He let go and Aiba knew what Sho wanted to say but couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“Say that it’s okay. Say that this won’t change things. Say that you’ll still take care of me and worry about me and be there for me.” Aiba’s voice was thick and his cheeks were wet. “You’re the first person… I don’t know what to do.”
Sho saw the pain in Aiba’s face and pulled his friend into a hug. And for the very first time, it was awkward. Sho held Aiba, letting him cry into his shoulder, shaking with the weight of his confession. When the tears stopped and only dry sobs remained, Sho extricated himself from his friend. Aiba remembered Sho avoided his gaze as he packed the remainder of his things into the duffle bag.
“I’m late for dinner. Mom’s probably been calling…” Aiba remained seated on the bench, staring at the scuffed toes of his shoes. “Are you sure you don’t want to come?”
Aiba silently shook his head. “I’m not hungry.”
Sho looked at his friend. The light that made Aiba’s eyes sparkle was gone. “Just… please, Masaki… give me some time.”
Aiba remembered sitting in the locker room, starting at the marked and well-worn floor long after Sho had gone home. He wandered absently through the deserted halls, back to the rehearsal room they had been using that day. He felt drained. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d cried so much.
Aiba folded himself onto the floor and stared at the ceiling, tears already pooling in his eyes at the realization that he had just destroyed the most important relationship in his life. He knew things would never be the same between them. Sho said he needed time… But, how much time? Aiba closed his eyes, fresh tears rolling down the side of his face onto the floor. All he could do was wait.