[identity profile] stormymood.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] arashi_exchange
A piece of rainbow for [livejournal.com profile] rainbow_teatime Part 1


Title: Convergence
Pairing: Sakumiya
Rating/Warnings: PG-13; R for mentions of underage smoking/alcohol consumption; mentions of sex and mentions of domestic violence (triggering)
Summary: The first time model student Sakurai Sho has to participate in imposition is also the first time he meets the school's misfit Ninomiya Kazunari. When their first conversation consists of Sho scolding Nino for smoking, it is clear that they won't get along. But the better Sho gets to know Nino, the more he is drawn to the boy and soon he even finds out his worst secret…
Notes:
Dear [livejournal.com profile] rainbow_teatime, to be honest, when I read your sign-up, I had no idea about a plot, but knowing your love for Sakumiya I allowed myself to pick one of my ideas and write it out for you. I hope you like the result. I have to admit that it became deeper than initially planned. As always, huge thanks to my mental supporters and my beta!



Never before had model student Sakurai Sho done anything at school that could earn him detention or imposition. Never. But today, he did something wrong for the first time in his life and of course the teacher had to catch him and his friend and classmate Ohno Satoshi red-handed.

Ohno was now standing next to his friend, spacing out like so very often. This wasn't the first time he was scolded by a teacher, so for him it wasn't such a big deal. His parents might scold him a little when he would go home today, but they would forget, just like he would, and there’s no damage done. But for Sho it would be different.

In general, Sho wasn't the type to do something inappropriate or something that might get him into trouble. He didn't want to go home after school having to tell his parents about what happened and why a teacher had scolded him or even called their home to inform them about their son's misbehaviour. He was a model student, for God's sake, and he would try his best to maintain this hard-earned image in front of his family. In order to make sure about that, the student even asked his teacher not to tell his parents about the incident. No, he begged the teacher.

"I'll do anything you want me to and I promise, I'll never do that again, but please, please don't call my parents!" OK, he might have sounded a bit desperate but for Sho it was like his life was at stake.

The teacher shook his head, wondering what he should do with these two guys. Knowing Ohno, it was clear that the student would not really be affected by any punishment he had to endure but for Sho, probably everything was going to be a disaster just because he was going to be punished. In the end, Ohno was sent to detention after classes for a couple of hours, while Sho was assigned to imposition that consisted of some cleaning duties on the school grounds, picking up trash from the baseball field, to be exact. He would be allowed to go home after he finished and they would never ever talk about it again.

"This can't be true," Sho murmured as he dragged his feet towards the sport's field after classes.

This was a disgrace! It was the first time ever, in his 12 years of attending school, that something like this happened to him. And all of this just because he thought he should be helping his friend! Yeah, of course he knew it was a bad idea and he surely learned his lesson. However, the outcome couldn't be changed now and so Sho would just have to deal with the punishment. There were bigger catastrophes in the world, right? At least, his teacher promised not to tell his parents, so his reputation would be safe and the incident would be forgotten sooner than he might expect.

Sho didn't know yet, but this day would eventually become a highly memorable one for him.

When the student arrived at the baseball field, he immediately spotted a boy, already sitting there within the small grandstand.

"Great, exactly what I need – an audience," Sho murmured, sarcastically.

Or companionship, in case the boy was there for the same reason as Sho, because judging from the blazer he was wearing, it must be a fellow student, probably one of the first or second year, since Sho didn't recognize him when he approached him.

The boy's hair was a pitch-black mess, and spiking in all directions. He had his feet crossed nonchalantly on top of the seat of the row in front of him and seemed to be deep in thoughts, one of his hands in his blazer's pocket while holding a cigarette in the other, and taking a puff, slowly. Sho stopped a few meters away, cringing at the sight of the boy smoking and the smell that slowly but surely invaded his nostrils. He sighed before he took a few more steps closer to the student.

"Hi…," Sho said as he stopped at the end of the row. The other student was still about four seats away from him. The boy didn't react and just continued smoking, as if he hadn't heard Sho talking at all. The student cleared his throat and waved his hand at the other boy in a big gesture, trying to catch his attention. "I said Hi!"

Slowly, the sitting boy turned his head, facing Sho with slightly hazy, brown eyes, the cigarette still between his lips, waiting to take another puff before he lowered his hand and blinked. His eyes cleared up and now, the boy was staring at Sho, critically. The latter swallowed. Somehow, the student's aura was a bit strange. Unapproachable, maybe even a little scary.

"Hi," Sho repeated for the third time, offering an insecure smile.

The other boy sighed, not making any effort to return the greeting. "…What do you want?" he asked instead.

Sho frowned. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, what are you doing here, idiot?" the black-haired student replied after another sigh and a slight roll of his eyes which ended in looking at the other boy from the corner of his eye.

"How friendly," Sho remarked, but of course, he didn't expect a reply. "Are you here for cleaning duties?" Sho wanted to confirm, either he wasn't the only one getting punished for doing something (probably) stupid, or he was just unlucky and would have to do his task with that weirdo watching him picking up trash while having a smoke.

"I am, obviously," the student replied in an annoyed voice, even if it was obvious that he was doing anything but cleaning at the moment. "And you?"

"I have to help you clean the field, as it seems...," Sho replied, scratching his chin, not daring to look at the other.

The boy snorted, and Sho looked at him, a bit confused, meeting a sceptical look with arched eyebrows. "Are you kidding me? Sakurai Sho doing impositions?"

"So you know who I am…," Sho sighed. Damned. He at least had hoped to meet someone who didn't know him so that words about his punishment won’t spread too widely. Well, he had hoped for nothing, as it seemed.

"Of course, who doesn't? Elite student, member of the basketball team, son of a family of doctors, top of the best list at school, popular... people are talking about you, you know?" his fellow student chuckled slightly amused. "Tell me. What did you do to get punished, too much homework?" he joked.

"Not funny and I'm not going to tell you...," the other student replied, pouting slightly before pointing at the boy, and earning another frown. "Can you please stop smoking?" The young man didn't say anything but his look was easily interpreted as "Why should I?", so Sho kept on talking. "I can list several reasons for you not smoking. First, you're underage and shouldn't even have a cigarette in your hand. Second, if the authorities see you like this you won't finish imposition so soon, since, obviously, smoking on the school grounds is forbidden for students. Third, I hate the smell and fourth, it's really bad for your health."

"As expected from a doctor's son...," Nino sighed but kept on smoking under Sho's critical eye. Then he added, challenging, "What are you going to tell the teachers? What will they do? Make me clean up the soccer field too? Go on."

"I'm not telling anyone, but I mean it," Sho tried again. "I'm not a fan of passive smoke, you know?"

"I've almost finished, give me one minute," the other student mumbled, annoyed.

"You really should quit smoking," Sho kept on, as he was on fire now, trying another strategy to reach his goal. "You're increasing your chance to die from lung cancer for you and the people around you."

"We all have to die, sooner or later," the other boy replied, shrugging.

"Trying to be philosophical, huh? Anyway, I prefer dying later than sooner, so please." Sho crossed his arms in front of his chest, glaring at the other.

Finally, the boy gave up. "OK, fine, Mr. Moral," he sighed heavily before stabbing out his cigarette on the front seat, creating a small dark burn mark on the plastic. "Satisfied?!"

"I should confiscate your cigarette package," Sho grumbled.

"I might chop your head off if you try," the boy grumbled back.

Sho gulped but didn't let his insecurity show. People who threatened others were usually just talking big, weren't they? At least, the boy in front of him had neither the stature of a rowdy nor… wait, was that a bruise on his chin?!

"What's your name?" Sho simply asked, trying to hide his sudden nervousness about getting involved with an assumed troublemaker. After all, he wasn't in the mood for a fight, – not that he had any experience with fights - even if he had wanted to convey his morals. "Which class are you in?"

The boy stood up - causing Sho to stiffen and take a step back instinctively - and let out a soft chuckle. He looked at Sho while pushing his hands inside his trousers' pockets.

"Not that it is going to concern you but my name is Nino. Class 2-4. And don't worry, I won't hit you."

"Nino?" the other student frowned. "What's your full name?"

"Everybody just calls me that, and that's enough," Nino replied, starting to approach Sho, no, passing him and actually going onto the baseball field, as it seemed.

Sho, his body relaxing again as he realized that the boy most likely wouldn't pose any danger to him, said, "Uhm… well, isn't it odd, calling you by your nick name? We don't know each other that well after all."

"In fact, I don't give a fuck about how you call me, Sakurai-san," the younger replied, sending the other student a cheeky look.

Sho swallowed but didn't say anything. He could definitely feel the sarcasm throbbing from the polite suffix the other used and once more he noticed that it didn't matter what people addressed another person, revealing their real politeness was a matter of intonation, sometimes.

"Now will Your Grace come give me a hand or not?" Nino asked, turning back when he reached the cleaning tools that would be used to pick up garbage and straighten out the field. It seemed that he had prepared them already – maybe being too used to such tasks, Sho assumed.

"If you stop giving me weird nicknames," Sho sighed, deciding to ignore the other's annoying attitude for the rest of the afternoon. This would be "fun" enough already, so the sooner they could finish this task and the sooner they would be able to go their separate ways again, the better.

+ + +

In the end, Sho and Nino didn't spend more than a couple of hours together, picking up the trash from the last practice baseball match. They didn't even exchange that many words either after Sho convinced the other to put out his cigarette. But Sho had to admit that for some reason it was hard for him to forget about their encounter. That Nino had something special about him that Sho couldn't pinpoint yet. It was just a feeling. The boy was definitely different. Different from all the other people Sho knew from school, whether they were his friends or simple acquaintances, and that meant something, considering the fact that Ohno was quite "different" already.

Without even realizing, Sho actually kept his eyes out in the next morning for Nino. He was not even sure why he was trying to spot the student somewhere in the school yard or along the corridors of the school building. However, so far, he wasn't lucky. There was one option left though Sho had not checked out yet, feeling too strange about going that far to find out the boy's class, but as fate would have it, there was another, less conspicuous source that Sho could turn to.

"Do you happen to know someone called "Nino", Jun? He said he's in your class," Sho took the chance during lunch break when he and Ohno settled into their usual place in the cafeteria together with his other best friend and second year student Matsumoto Jun.

The boy was unwrapping a homemade overly filled sandwich and about to take a huge bite when he looked at his friend, wondering. "Nino? You mean Ninomiya? Ninomiya Kazunari?"

"Is that his full name?" Sho asked immediately. "He only told me his nickname..."

"True, he's in my class… he's kind of a weird guy," Jun replied, chewing on his sandwich.

"Tell me more about him," the older student requested, unable to hide his curiosity while he opened his own lunchbox – rice with plums, eggrolls and a few pieces of fried chicken. As always, his mother's cooking looked delicious, and Ohno wished to try some. Sho, as always, granted his friend’s request.

Jun frowned, obviously wondering what he could or should tell his friend. "Well, how shall I put it… he's mostly quiet, almost not noticeable during classes but when he says something it's usually a bummer. He has this strange sarcastic humour, you see? If he's talking, his words are poisonous."

"True," Sho chuckled without noticing at first, remembering the boy's witty mouth despite his calm and thoughtful aura. It's true, what the other said to him had been dripping with irony and sarcasm.

"I have no idea about his grades," Jun continued. "I never paid attention to him, but he's not in the top 10 of our year, that much I can tell." Of course, Jun could, since he was leading the top 10 of the second year and his name was always on the top of the scoreboard when test results got out. "Hm… what else… It seems he tends to get into trouble, I noticed bruises on his face and arms a few times… he's not exactly popular, you know? Why do you ask?"

"I met him at the baseball field yesterday during cleaning duties," Sho explained, without hesitation.

"Why were you at cleaning duties?" Jun frowned at his friend.

Oops. "I… uhm well…," the older student tilted his head. Even in front of his best friend it was embarrassing to admit his mistake.

"He helped me cheat in the simulation university entrance exam," Ohno, who kept quiet until now, decided to chime in before he yawned, his own lunch long finished. "And Macchi-sensei caught us."

Confused, Jun frowned even more. "Why would you do something like that, Sho?"

"I just wanted to help…"

The younger student rolled his eyes. "It wasn't even a real exam! Guys, you're so stupid, really."

"I know," Sho sighed, burying his face in his hands.

Ohno patted his shoulder and offered him a tired smile. "Don't worry, Sho, I will never ask you to do that for me, again. I'm sorry," the student said.

"Thanks," the other murmured, grateful for his friend's understanding.

"So?" Ohno asked, showing real interest in the conversation for the very first time. "What about Nino? Why are you so curious about him?"

"I don't know…," Sho tilted his head. "He has that… aura? Somehow, he irritates me."

"You wouldn't be the first person saying that," Jun snorted.

"What about his friends?" the other asked curiously.

Jun hummed. "If you can call it friendship, I think he knows Aiba-kun. Or the other way round… but that's it. He's more a loner, I think."

"As expected," Sho nodded slowly, finishing his fried chicken, not surprised.

+ + +

What surprised him a lot more, though, was something that happened a few days later. Sho was back in the cafeteria together with Jun, Ohno and a few more classmates, and they were planning their weekend. Unexpectedly, Nino – wearing headphones - passed them (it was the first time Sho saw him walking in the cafeteria) and even more surprisingly, Ohno waved his hand to attract the boy's attention.

"Oh, hey Nino!" he greeted, loud enough to make the other stop.

Nino pulled off his headphones for a while when he stopped next to Ohno, looking a bit confused. He nodded at the student, before he quickly let his look brush over the rest of the people sitting around the table. Nino averted his eyes quickly, focusing back on Ohno, but Sho was 100 % sure that their eyes met for a second.

"It’s been a while. How are you doing?" Ohno asked with his usual chilled friendly smile.

Nino still looked at him, obviously not really getting what was going on. Well, he wasn't the only one in this, Sho thought, still surprised over Ohno's actions.

"How are you doing?" the boy asked back, arching his eyebrows.

Ohno chuckled softly. "Avoiding questions as always, huh?"

"I have nothing to tell, you can't blame me, Oh-chan."

Did Nino just say "Oh-chan"?! Sho frowned, pointing his finger from Ohno to Nino and back, giving his friend a questioning look.

"Wait, you know each other?"

Ohno nodded. "We live in the same neighbourhood."

"Really? Why didn't you tell me?" Sho asked indignantly.

"Is it important?" His friend shrugged, brushing away Sho's complaint before he turned back to Nino. "How is it, do you want to drop by at my party on Friday evening?"

Sho pulled in some air sharply, and grabbed Ohno's elbow, making him turn to him. "Satoshi! I told you it's a bad idea to hold a party –"

"Oh come on Sho," the other student rolled his eyes. "You're the only one sitting around this table who thinks so, including Jun! Where's the fun of being alone at home if I don't take the chance to throw a small party?" He turned back. "Nino?"

"Will there be alcohol?" the black-haired boy asked nonchalantly.

Sho jumped up, slamming his hands on the table. "We're underage!"

"Scream even louder and the next teacher will come over and question you before you even nipped on a beer," Nino hissed, glaring at Sho critically. "Being underage doesn't mean there can't be alcohol at a party, Mr. Risks-are-no-fun."

"There might be alcohol," Ohno answered, slowly nodding his head before he turned to his classmates, who hummed agreement.

"Satoshi!"

"What?" the other arched an eyebrow at Sho. "It's not in my power what people will bring to the party. I only provide some snacks, an open door and some music."

"I'll think about it," Nino finally replied, his hands already on his headphones to pull them back over his ears.

"Great," Ohno smiled, counting this as acceptance. "You know where my house is. See you there."

Sho couldn't help but gape after Nino, who only lifted his hand to make a nonchalant wave gesture at Ohno without looking back, and then shot his friend with a death glare.

+ + +

There was alcohol at Ohno’s party on Friday evening. Beer, to be exact. Lots of beer. And lots of people. And Sho didn’t really like it, wondering what even made him agree to come here in the first place. Was it because Ohno was one of his best friends and had insisted on him joining them? Was it because Sho couldn’t help but feel a bit responsible for his fellow students and wanted to keep an eye on them so that nothing bad would happen (like one of the Ohnos’ neighbours taking down the party by calling the police or something)? Or was it because of the tiny little bit of curiosity, wondering if Nino would really show up at Ohno’s party, like he said?

Well, OK, the boy had said he’d think about it, Sho dared reminding himself. That didn’t mean that he was actually planning to come here. In fact, he didn’t really look like someone who’d attend a party. And even if he came, how would it concern Sho?

To be honest, parties had never been Sho’s forte either. He enjoyed meetings with his friends in smaller groups for dinner or watching a movie. It wasn’t that Sho’s parents prohibited their son from attending parties. Since he was 16, the student was free to stay out longer on Fridays. That's as long as he abode by the rules - being home by 11 pm, no cigarettes, no alcohol, no drugs, no… yeah, the usual stuff 17 year olds probably should keep their hands off anyway and of course that didn’t only apply to Sho but also to his friends.

So basically, if Sho’s parents knew that there was beer at Ohno’s party, they might not be amused and that was why Sho - even if he knew that it might probably be a stupid idea - tried to get rid of the beer. He didn’t even mind being seen as the moral police. As a future doctor, people even expected him to approach them and tell them that alcohol would damage their brains and they would fail their next test if they kept on drinking. They would listen to him and nod, and yeah - keep on drinking nevertheless. It was true, Sho was popular and people liked and respected him. Well, not as much as beer, obviously.

At least Jun listened to him, Sho thought, when his friend who was sitting next to him on a comfortable couch in Ohno’s living room, clinked glasses with him - both glasses filled with coke. Sho tried to smile, but it probably turned out strange, since he didn’t feel like smiling at all. In fact, he had tried to find Ohno, which was a bit hard in the crowd of students in this big house that the Ohnos owned, to convince him again to forbid alcohol. However, when he heard their friend Maruyama saying that Ohno had been seen going into his bedroom ("Locking the door behind him!") together with a girl, Sho gave up.

"I’ll go and catch some fresh air," the student finally said, standing up, when he ran out of things he could talk about to Jun, his mind not being able to focus properly. How ironic, since he was one of the few people who did not have distracting alcohol in his blood. If Sho hadn’t found that so stupid, he even might have laughed.

The garden was crowded, too crowded for Sho’s taste and some people seemed to have sat down in a circle to play spin-the-bottle, and as soon as he saw that, the student turned on his heel. He remembered the last time people dragged him into that game. He had ended up causing all the participating girls to try to spin the bottle at him, aiming for a kiss with the future doctor. Even if Sho had to admit that his first kiss could have been with someone much worse than Miyazaki from the parallel class, it had been one of his most embarrassing evenings up to date and Sho seriously didn’t plan to repeat that.

Keeping that in mind, Sho went back into the spacious house, making his way through some fellow students and upstairs, aiming for a - maybe - empty room with access to the balcony that lined the upper front of the Ohnos house. Usually, Sho would access it through Ohno’s room, which was located upstairs, but if it was true that the boy was busy with a girl at the moment, Sho wasn’t sure if he wanted to try go in there. He couldn’t help but be curious though, and so he at least tried knocking on the door to his friend’s room. When he didn’t receive any reply, he tried the handle of the door only to find out that the door was indeed locked. He backed off, biting his lower lip, before trying his luck with the next door.

He actually found a couple of girls sitting on a bed, which Sho assumed to belong to Ohno’s parents, and they tried to get him to sit with them, but Sho politely declined and pointed at the balcony door, telling them he was there to breathe some fresh air.

"You probably won’t get much fresh air out there," one of the girls said. "Seems to be the smoking area..."

Sho was about to sigh deeply and to consider either going back downstairs or to really join the group of girls for a chat, when his mind suddenly clicked and a thought ran through his grey cells. That thought unexpectedly triggered the exact opposite reaction he might have given, usually, his hand automatically reaching to push back the curtains from the only slightly closed door, as he decided to step outside onto the balcony.

The door immediately bumped into something - or someone - once Sho pushed it open, a painful groan followed, and even if Sho hadn’t hear it that often yet, he immediately recognized the voice. The student pushed his head through the gap of the now opened door and his suspicion was confirmed instantly as he met the eyes of the boy he had just hurt unintentionally.

Nino was standing there on the balcony, rubbing his upper arm with one hand, a cigarette hanging from the corner of his lips, and an indignant look, darted at Sho, on his face.

"Crap… did I hurt you?" Sho asked, quickly closing the door behind him after he stepped onto the balcony, and instinctively reaching a hand towards the boy.

"No, you didn't," Nino replied grumpily, still rubbing his arm, his hand slipped underneath the short sleeves of the black t-shirt he was wearing, imprinted with the logo of a famous rock band that Sho never listened to.

"You look like it hurt," Sho insisted though, approaching the other. "Let me take a look."

"Hands off!" Nino exploded, unexpectedly, stepping back and glaring at Sho as if he was ready to eat him.

"What’s that," Sho asked, spotting a large, dark bruise covering Nino’s elbow, growing a bit over his arm.

"That wasn’t the stupid balcony door," the other student replied. "Just a bruise from a fight that still hurts a little, being pushed doesn’t actually help the healing process."

"Oh… OK," Sho said. "Sorry, I didn’t see you." It was the truth, the curtain, the night’s darkness had covered the view... he really didn’t see Nino.

"Obviously," the other boy sighed, annoyed, and resumed to leaning over the balcony’s banister to look down into the garden. He reached for his cigarette, taking another puff.

Sho mirrored the boy’s gesture, putting his elbows onto the banister and looked down, spotting the group of spin-the-bottle players - Maruyama among them, as well as Jun who seemed to have joined them - before he focused his attention back onto the balcony. There were just the two of them, he and Nino, everyone else seemed to be either inside or in the garden.

"What?" Nino suddenly asked, turning his head slightly at Sho, who found himself just staring at the other boy for a few seconds now.

He startled slightly, searching for an excuse for something he’d been doing without even realizing. "I didn’t expect you to come to the party," Sho blurt out.

"Well, since I live nearby and someone said there might be alcohol...," demonstrating, Nino reached to the place where he stood earlier, before getting pushed by Sho, and lifted a bottle of beer he had placed on the floor of the balcony.

"You should neither drink nor smoke," Sho finally said, pointing at Nino’s cigarette, trying once more to land a hit with his moralist attitude, even if he knew exactly that Nino was probably the last person it would work on.

"Oh well, if that isn't Sakurai Sho the anti-smoking-commissioner again," the boy sighed in reply, not even trying to hide his annoyance. "What are you doing up here, don’t you have to confiscate some beer bottles down there?"

Nino knew exactly that Sho didn’t have the power to do so, so the student decided to ignore the other’s comment. "I mean it. You should quit."

"This does not concern you," Nino murmured, puffing from his cigarette once more.

The sky had turned almost black now, the few lights shining from the windows of the house as well as the tip of Nino’s cigarette soon became the only sources of light as he took another puff, blowing out the smoke, directly into Sho’s direction, who cringed.

"You'll damage your health..."

A soft chuckle reached Sho’s ears.

"As if anyone cares…," Nino said but then, he stabbed out his cigarette on the banister, flipping the cigarette butt from the balcony.

For a silly moment, Sho wondered if someone down there in the garden would be hit by it and look up to them, or if that person might probably be too drunk to even notice.

"Well, as a future doctor, of course I care about people’s health, even if they are stupid enough to be the cause of their own death," Sho said, drily.

Nino turned at him, probably frowning, but it was too dark for Sho now to see his expression, not even when he came a bit closer to Sho.

"Are you just saying this in order not to feel guilty if I really die from lung cancer? Or because it makes you feel like a better person?" Nino asked provokingly, leaning on the banister with only one arm now, facing Sho directly. The dim light shining through the window reflected in Nino’s eyes for a second. "Or because you can say "I told you so" if something happened?"

"You really should care about your health," Sho simply replied after a few seconds of silence. He wasn’t in the mood for a verbal fight, nor a discussion with a smoker, but he could be stubborn too.

"It's really sweet of you to pretend to be concerned about me, Sho-chan," Nino then said in a faked sweet voice, before getting even closer to Sho, until their faces were only a few centimetres apart from each other, making it possible for Sho to hear Nino’s next few whispered words. "But seriously, shut up, OK?"

"Sh-sho-chan?!" the other student stumbled, taking in a deep breath. He wasn’t sure if it was the unexpected use of his given name or the sudden, irritating closeness of this almost stranger, but for a moment, Sho thought that his heart had stopped beating.

"Anything wrong?" Nino asked again, in his faked sweet voice.

"Uhm…," Sho stumbled. No, tried not to stumble. "I mean… You don't get it, do you? You're freaking what, 16, and you're damaging your health with smoking like you don't care at all –"

Sho couldn’t even finish his sentence, when all of the sudden and completely unexpected, Nino leaned a bit forward, closing the last small distance between the two boys, blocking Sho’s poor night vision even more with his face. Suddenly, there was a strange, warm feeling on Sho’s lips, literally shutting him up. Lips. Nino’s lips.

The kiss - which was the only word popping up in Sho’s mind to describe what just had happened, even if his brain tried hard to find counter arguments while screaming internally - ended as quickly as it started, so for a second, Sho even wondered if it really happened. Maybe, it was just a dream? A nightmare happening during micro sleep... OK, no, Sho was not drunk or high or anything, he wasn’t even tired, so he had to admit that this option was very unlikely, which caused his heart to beat faster in a panic with the realization of what just happened. A kiss with that weirdo! Fuck!

Nino drew back from Sho’s face, taking his nonchalant position again, seemingly examining the other boy now, curiously, maybe even amused. Those stupid low lights made it impossible for Sho to read Nino’s expression, but he was pretty sure that the other was grinning wickedly. If he had tried to tease Sho, to irritate him, he had reached his goal.

"What…," Sho tried to get out of his surprised stiffness. "Are you crazy?! What was that?!" he asked, instead of asking Why.

"Obviously, I shut you up with a kiss, Sho-chan," Nino commented cheekily before he turned to look down into the garden again, bedding his chin on his crossed arms over the banister. "But apparently, it only worked temporarily. Too bad..."

"That was…," Sho didn’t know what it was but it had definitely not been what he expected to happen during a confrontation with the other boy.

"Disgusting?" Nino offered insignificantly. "Tasted of smoke, huh?"

"…And beer," Sho added in a low voice, still trying to proceed what had just happened.

"Are you confiscating my bottle too now?" Nino asked, before he reached for the said object to take a sip from it.

Sho was still staring at the boy. He knew he had to react now. Somehow. Just somehow or... yeah... or what? No matter what would happen, Sho wanted to get back control over the situation. Not that he always felt in control when it came to Nino but still... he needed to do something about this. He cleared his throat and pulled himself together. He was ready for this confrontation. Nothing happened, he would just pretend that nothing happened, and everything would go back to being fine.

"No, I'm not," the older student replied, trying to stay as calm as possible. "In fact, I give up and just hope that no one in the neighbourhood will call the police. Everyone is doing what they want to do anyway."

Nino hummed, agreeing. "That's how it works, Sho-chan."

"Stop calling me like that!" Sho said sharply, his voice unintentionally hitting a high pitch.

No, he wasn’t about to freak out. He was just... For some reason, Sho didn’t know what he was anymore. Fuck. That was a kiss, Sho thought, panicking, his heart pounding like crazy. A kiss with someone he had only met a couple of times in school, not even exchanging some conversation beyond Sho’s opinion about smoking. And now, they had kissed!? Sho couldn’t even put into words, how much he hated this right now. Instinctively, he let his look fall over the banister, down into the garden, to check if someone witnessed them. No one, he thought in relief, at least it might have been too dark already for someone to witness this embarrassing scene...

"Why? Aren't we close enough for your taste?" Nino chuckled, jokingly, of course, what else. "Come on, Sho-chan, practically we even kissed."

"We did not kiss!" Sho said firmly, trying to act against all the voices screaming in his head at once.

"Oh…," the other boy faked sympathy. "Was that your first kiss? Did I steal it?"

"No!" Sho tried to make clear instantly. "That's not what I meant! You just wanted to shut me up, that’s it! So... it doesn't count as a kiss!"

Nino shrugged. "If you say so…"

"I'll pretend that it never happened so don't mention it again," Sho said, crossing his arms in front of his chest. Exactly, this had not been a kiss. At least, it wasn’t considered a kiss. It was a disqualified kiss...

"Whatever," Nino shrugged again. "So what are you going to do now? Going home? If someone calls the police, you'll get in trouble as much as everybody else here..."

"I know but…," admittedly, Sho had a hard time focusing onto something else other than his still pounding heart. "I don't want to leave Ohno alone. Last time he got drunk it wasn't fun…"

"Then why are you up here with me and not down there to watch over him?" Nino asked, challenging.

"I... he... he’s in his room and with a girl so probably, he might do something else at the moment rather than getting drunk...," the other student finally replied in a low voice.

"What?" Nino chuckled amused. "Kissing?" he teased the older student.

Sho shot Nino with a death glare - at least he tried - but failed with the killing-part due to not being able to focus his gaze on his supposed-to-be victim at the moment.

"I - I’m going!" Sho finally spat out, obviously not wanting to pick up the conversation with Nino, and wherever that might lead to. He turned on his heel, reaching for the balcony door and pulled it open slightly. "Don't smoke again!" the student said once more before he eventually turned and entered the room again, getting out of Nino’s sight.

"…Killjoy…," Sho could hear Nino from outside before he closed the door.

+ + +

For some reason, it was hard for Sho to forget about what happened between him and Nino on Ohno’s balcony. The whole weekend, there was nothing else on his mind - well, except homework, of course - than that kiss Nino had attacked him with. Sho had tried to forget it as soon as he arrived home on Friday night, but it was impossible and he ended up with a sleepless night. Why was it so damned irritating? Because it was a guy who kissed him? Because he didn’t expect it? No matter what it was, it was confusing as hell and Sho hated it. When his mother asked him on Sunday morning at breakfast if everything was alright, Sho considered for a second to ask her for an advice, but in the end didn't, not knowing how he should explain the situation to her.

Back at school the following week, Sho didn’t know how to react when he came face to face with Nino. He averted his gaze when they passed each other along the corridors. When Ohno invited Nino to sit with them at the cafeteria table another day, and Nino surprisingly accepted, Sho pretended to be busy with his lunch and didn’t even dare to look at the other sitting just about two meters away from him. Of course, they didn't talk.

A few days later, Sho was about to pick up Jun from his class to go shopping for new clothes in town, and he still hadn’t forgotten Nino’s kiss, but at least he managed to be more chilled about it. It was nothing special. Just Nino teasing him with something unexpected. To irritate him. Which had worked. Probably, that was just Nino’s style - doing random stuff to random people to irritate them. Sho didn't know how many other people Nino had kissed just to confuse them... and for some reason he secretly hoped it weren't that many.

Dealing with that student might be a challenge, but somehow there was a level of intimacy, Sho had to admit. He didn't know exactly where it came from but no matter what he tried, he couldn’t completely get rid of this strange affection (he wasn’t even sure if that was the right word, but he lacked another fitting one) the boy brought out in him. He couldn’t bury his curiosity and interest, and kiss or not, teasing or not, Sho couldn’t help but want to know the boy better.

He realized this once more when he spotted the boy sitting at his desk when he came to get Jun. Everyone else seemed to have gone home already, Jun was ready to leave too, and so Nino was the only one left. The boy was just sitting there, his chin bedded on his palms as he was staring at the blackboard in front of him, seemingly in thoughts. Sho noticed a white bandage that was wrapped around his wrist.

"Nino is still here?" Sho asked the obvious in a whispering voice when Jun jumped up in front of him with a bright smile.

"Ah, yeah, seems that a teacher wanted to talk to him later," the younger boy replied, turning a little to look at his classmate before he pulled Sho with him into the corridor. "Let’s go!"

"Did he do something?" Sho asked curiously, unable to let the topic slip yet.

"Nothing special," Jun quickly answered, sounding a bit annoyed. "Didn't do his homework or something like that… his usual stuff."

Sho frowned. "Did you see? He's injured..."

"That's nothing special either," his friend said, frowning. "Most likely he got into a fight yesterday or something like that."

"Is he a bully?"

Jun shook his head. "No, but let's say he can be provoking so some people probably don't really like him."

Sho stopped their walk. "Is he being bullied?" he asked, feeling a strange concern starting to weigh on his chest.

"Not sure if you can call it like that," Jun, who had come to a halt too, said surprised, and seemed to consider the possibility, but again shook his head, even though a little less convinced this time. Then, he pulled at Sho’s elbow to get them to resume walking. "What's with that sudden interest in him, I don't get it. Did something happen?"

Sho’s heart skipped a beat when he - again - thought about the kiss.

"No. Nothing," he lied.

"Then you shouldn't pay so much attention to him or you'll get into trouble too sooner or later," his friend replied.

When Sho spotted a slight pout on Jun’s lips, he nudged his friend, offering him a smile before they hurried to catch the bus into the city.

+ + +

Despite Jun's warning, Sho still couldn't not pay attention to Nino. Instead, he caught himself developing an honestly slightly disturbing obsession with that boy that was growing every day. Recently - as if Nino became visible to him only since their encounter - whenever the boy was close, Sho seemed to notice him right away, no matter how much Nino tried not to stand out. It was as if Sho had developed some kind of Nino-radar or something strange like that, it was ridiculous.

Sho himself didn't understand his interest in that boy either. It wasn't that he liked him. Well, he didn't dislike him either. The only thing he really disliked was Nino’s smoking and that he had been teasing him with strange nicknames. Ok, probably, this was a bit more complex. However, as he started trying hard to focus his confused feelings onto something to be able to handle them better, slowly but surely, Sho started wondering if he and Nino could become friends... well, sort of. Things might be a bit easier then, probably.

The problem was just that Nino didn't seem to be the type to befriend easily. Even if it was true that Nino and Ohno knew each other from earlier, it didn't mean that they were close friends. They had been closer during elementary school as it seemed, but if Sho believed Ohno's stories, Nino had always been a very quiet child, hard to get through, and once they entered middle school, he'd changed more and more into a loner.

While Nino seemed to have been a victim of bullying during middle school, here in high school, people mostly left him alone, even avoided him. Nino's tongue hadn't been poisonous from the start, Ohno once said, and Jun agreed that Nino only spoke when others talked to him.

Most of the time the boy seemed to have his nose buried in a book or his ears covered with headphones, or he was simply staring into nothing, spacing out, something that Sho already observed from Ohno, even if he couldn't help but feel a difference between Ohno's behaviour and Nino's. During those times, Nino’s eyes were directed into a far distance. His head must be up in the skies or trapped in a spiral of thoughts, Sho would never be able to find out. Sometimes, Nino seemed like he was living in a completely different world from all the other students and sometimes, Sho seriously wondered how that might feel.

During breaks, Nino only showed up in the cafeteria to grab a snack occasionally. Sho mostly spotted him alone, either outside hidden in the shadows of a large tree, or up on the rooftop where he used to smoke. When a teacher caught him, Nino used to run away and of course, ended up in detention again after his cigarettes had been confiscated.

If what Jun said about Nino getting into trouble and fights with other people was true, it didn't seem to happen on the school grounds. At least, Sho never witnessed the boy getting into a fist fight with fellow students or anything and nobody else seemed to have become witness of such a scene either. Nevertheless, whenever he came a bit closer to him, Nino had a new bruise or cut. It was strange...

Only a few times, Sho witnessed the younger student talking with someone in a friendly way. It was Aiba Masaki, a fellow basketball player from Sho's team. Tall guy, radiating smile, friendly to everyone – including Nino, apparently. Jun already had mentioned that Aiba seemed to know Nino in some way. Sho didn't know if they were friends, acquaintances, or if Aiba only tried to be nice to a putative outsider because he had a big heart, but it made him curious how those two might be connected.

Nino and Aiba didn't really hang out together. Aiba, as the school's number one basketball star, was usually surrounded by a bunch of people, which Nino seemed to avoid. The boy seemed to prefer going his own way, as if he didn't need anyone in his life. Or at least, pretended to. Because if Sho wasn't completely mistaken, he was convinced that sometimes he could see sadness in Nino's eyes. Sadness and loneliness, that were sometimes so obvious, that Sho felt the urge to do something against it, personally.

So far, Sho held back, trying to ignore the strange attraction Nino had on him. But one day, he just couldn’t ignore it any longer and so, when he was walking along the corridors and spotted the younger student standing in front of a big board announcing some exam results, he saw it as a chance. First, Sho stopped shortly behind Nino, without the other noticing him, and curiously browsed through the list of names up on the board, trying to spot Nino’s.

And there it was. Math seemed to be quite OK for Nino, true, he wasn’t in the top ten of the second year students, like Jun said, but he was in the upper middle field. He ranked pretty high in Japanese Literature. A few other subjects had resulted in the middle field too, apparently, and then there was one subject, which the student seemed to be at war with.

"You really suck in English," Sho said, his voice low enough to not be heard by everyone, but loud enough to make Nino realize that he was talking to him.

The student startled slightly, turned around and looked at Sho. He sighed, annoyed, when he recognized the other. "Go make fun of someone else, elite student," Nino grumbled.

"I'm not here to make fun of you," Sho said, his eyes still focused on the result board.

"What do you want then?" Nino huffed.

Finally, Sho dared to face the other boy. It made him a bit nervous. He shrugged, trying to act as nonchalant as possible. "Don't know… I could offer my help with that."

Nino frowned. "Why should I want you to help me?"

"Because I already learned that shit from year two and I'm the best in English here," the older student offered, a hint of pride in his voice.

"Not big-headed at all, are you?" Nino snorted.

"You want it or not?"

"Want what?"

"My help."

For a few seconds, Nino didn’t reply, and only stared at the other student in disbelief.

"You're serious?" he finally asked, and if Sho wasn’t mistaken, the annoyed undertone was gone.

"Until I change my mind," Sho replied, crossing his arms in front of his chest. He arched a challenging eyebrow, trying to hide his nervousness. "So?" Sho wondered if Nino might really consider his offer.

But then, the boy's look darkened and shortly after, he stepped a bit closer to Sho, passing him before he stopped behind him and whispered. "Stop joking and leave me alone, Sho-chan, or I'll kiss you again."

Sho swallowed when he heard that and whirled around quickly. "You can't threaten me with that, Nino."

Slowly, Nino turned around. A mean smirk was adorning his lips. "So you'd actually like that?"

"I didn't say that," Sho murmured, his cheeks were now feeling like they were burning, and he prayed that he was not blushing as much as he feared.

"I didn't expect it," Nino replied in a low voice and after locking eyes with Sho for a last time, he turned, his hands buried in his pockets, and left.

Sho took a deep breath.

+ + +

A few days later, the typical trio consisting of Sho, Jun and Ohno were chilling outside in the schoolyard, enjoying a really nice warm day, and waiting for the after school activities to start. Sho was part of the basketball team, Ohno participated in the arts club and Jun was one of the leading actors in the school’s theatre club. Right now, after having finished their lunch, Jun was reviewing a few lines of a new script, while Ohno seemed to be taking a nap and Sho was busy with... staring at Nino who was sitting far away at the other side of the yard in the shadows of a large tree and listening to music.

"Sho… do you have a crush on Ninomiya or something?" Jun suddenly asked, out of the blue.

"What?!" Sho snapped his head to his friend, honestly surprised. "Me? Having a crush?! On Nino!?" He laughed. "You must be kidding…"

"You seem to be very interested in him recently," Jun mumbled, turning the pages of his theatre script as he averted his eyes.

Sho chuckled again, trying to think about what to say next. He hadn’t spoken about Nino with his friends yet, and he was not even sure what exactly he should tell them. However, he wasn't having a crush, he just wanted to become friends with the other boy. That's all.

"What makes you think so?" he asked Jun, curiously.

Jun frowned; somehow, he seemed to be a bit annoyed, or was Sho only imagining it?

"Whenever you spot him at school, you're staring at him."

"I am?" Sho wondered.

"You are," Ohno chimed in with a droopy voice as he slowly sat up and looked at Sho with sleepy eyes. Apparently, the student's nap was over.

"It's not a crush, so silly… he's just confuses me…," Sho murmured.

"Whatever, he's weird, so don’t waste your thoughts on him!" Jun said, slamming his script shut. Sho frowned at his friend, wondering about the strong reaction.

"Well... He's not weird," Ohno said, thoughtfully. "Let's say... he's a bit special."

"You know more about him, right, Satoshi?" Sho then asked, turning to his friend, and ignoring Jun's pout. He didn’t get what the other’s problem was, so for now he decided to put it aside.

Ohno tilted his head. "I'm sorry, since we're not in that much contact for a few years now, I don't think I can say that I know a lot about him... we kind of grew apart."

"Sho, seriously, you better not get too close to him," Jun repeated with a serious look on his face. "He might be a bad influence on you!"

"You really don’t like him, do you?" Sho snapped at his friend. "Maybe you're doing him an injustice! I think we should try to become friends with him."

"He’s weird! He's always injured, he's unfriendly and sarcastic, he's… he's not someone I want to see you together with, Sho! And I surely don't want to become his friend!" Jun made his point clear.

"Fine!" Sho huffed back. "I won't force you! Then I'll do it alone."

Jun took a deep breath but whatever was lying on the tip of his tongue, he couldn't spit it out. Instead, he took his stuff, hurriedly, jumped up, facing his back at his friends and he stormed away without saying anything.

"Jun?! Jun!" Sho couldn't believe it. Was his friend offended now? "Satoshi, did I do something wrong?"

"No, I think you didn't", the older boy, who had just silently witnessed the scene, replied. "Just let him be, maybe he's a bit jealous because his best friend is suddenly more interested in someone else."

Sho sighed. Jealously, really? He didn't think about that for even a second! Well, probably Ohno was right. Jun was Sho's best friend since childhood and it wasn't a secret that the boy admired Sho and took some pride in their friendship. Bringing Nino into the picture now was probably really upheaving for him. It was similar when Jun joined high school a year after Sho and found out that Sho had become friends with his classmate Ohno. However, Sho wasn't in the mood for friendship drama now. He never said, he would replace Jun with Nino, but he also didn't want to let his friends tell him who he could be friends with and who not.

Nino was different, yes. He was unconventional, opaque, and somewhat mysterious. He looked strong and weak at the same time. Sho didn’t know him well enough yet to know what’s going on, but Nino seemed to be fighting against something, somehow, and that was something to respect. Most likely, Nino wasn’t just a weirdo, like Jun labelled him. Sho was more and more convinced that there must be more to that boy. And he had pretty much made up his mind already. He wanted to find out more about Nino, no matter what.

That was the reason why Sho had offered his help to the student. And probably the reason why he actually didn't find that kiss at Ohno's party as disgusting as he might have expected a kiss with a guy to be, right? True, it had tasted like cigarettes and beer, which wasn't exactly a pleasant taste but disgust wasn't what he had felt when Nino "shut him up". No, if anything would describe it, it was something more like "confusion", probably even "excitement". But it had nothing to do with having a crush.

Sho sighed, resting his chin on top of his knees. His look wandered over the schoolyard again, finding Nino who was still sitting in the same spot as before. For a short moment, Sho wanted to stand up and walk over to him.

But it had nothing to do with having a crush…

+ + +




Follow the link for part 2

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