|Remix fic for jain: "Forever" (Shuuji/Nobuta)
||[Aug. 10th, 2008|07:42 pm]
Japanese Drama Remix Exchange
Fandom: Nobuta wo Produce
Summary: But while he hasn't grown up a lot, Akira has learned that believing something doesn't always make it true.
Original story: Lost and Found by jain
Akira knows the truth before either of them says a word, even if he wants to believe he's wrong. He wants to believe that there's still a chance for him and Nobuta, or maybe he just wants to believe that the three of them will be friends forever, never changing. But while he hasn't grown up a lot, Akira has learned that believing something doesn't always make it true. He's learned that there are things he can't control. And he already learned what feels like a long time ago that he can't always have everything he wants.
"We're..." Shuuji says awkwardly. "Nobuta and I, we..." Nobuta nudges him with her elbow without looking up, and then Akira knows for sure. "We're going out," Shuuji finally manages. "Dating."
"I know what 'going out' means," Akira says. For some reason, some strange, stupid reason, he feels tears prickling behind his eyes. He takes a deep, slow breath, willing them away. It would be silly to cry.
"Akira?" Nobuta's voice is soft, but it's been a long time since his name sounded awkward in her mouth.
"Say something," Shuuji says roughly. Akira can tell he's nervous.
"I thought..." Akira starts. He thought he still had a chance, even though he gave up before. He thought maybe things would be different this time. But maybe he missed his chance three years ago and he's never going to get another. Maybe Nobuta was never meant to be his after all. Maybe it's better this way.
"You thought?" Shuuji prods.
Akira smiles, almost surprising himself. "I forgot that time moves on," he says. "Now, you two promise to take good care of each other." Nobuta blushes and Shuuji looks insulted that Akira thinks he needs to be told that. Akira grins. He doesn't know if it's better this way, and he never will, but he thinks that at least it's okay.
Once they know he's not upset about their relationship, Akira becomes the confidant for both of them. It's only natural; he knows both of them better than anyone else. It could be awkward—maybe even it should be—but somehow he finds he doesn't mind. It's a comfort to know that there will always be a place for him, that he's still their best friend no matter what they are to each other.
"I think," Nobuta says one day, staring at her fidgeting hands, "that Shuuji is very shy. About things."
Akira stops and studies Nobuta before he answers. She doesn't look upset, just perplexed and a little embarrassed. "Things?" he asks. He can guess easily enough what she means, but it wouldn't do to presume (and he has to admit to taking a certain perverse pleasure in embarrassing both Nobuta and Shuuji).
"I think he kisses you more than he kisses me," Nobuta mutters.
Akira laughs, and Nobuta blushes, but she's half smiling. "Were there more drunken kisses I forgot about?" he asks. Nobuta shakes her head vigorously.
Without stopping to think why, Akira drapes an arm over Nobuta's shoulders, a little like a hug. There's no particular reason, just that she's warm and comfortable and Nobuta, and he loves her crooked smile and the way she's always so quick to deny his teasing suggestions. "Nobuta's a good friend," he says when she tenses under his arm. "I'm glad."
Nobuta doesn't answer, but she relaxes. They're quiet for a while before Akira says, "Shuuji will figure it out. It's just that he loves Nobuta too."
"Mmm." Nobuta leans against him, just a little, and Akira smiles to himself.
"How are things?" Akira asks Shuuji one afternoon when it's just the two of them.
He knows exactly what he means by "things", but obviously Shuuji doesn't because he answers, "Eh? Fine. Everything's fine."
"Not those things," Akira corrects, with a put-upon sigh that never fails to make Shuuji look disgruntled. "Nobuta things."
"Oh." Shuuji's expression goes from annoyed to thoughtful to what Akira thinks is uncomfortable. Obviously there are things he's been thinking about too. "It's fine. We're fine. I just...you know, I want..." He makes a vague gesture, looking frustrated with his inability to say what he's thinking.
Akira gasps and covers his mouth in feigned shock, earning him a glare from Shuuji. In reality, he's not surprised, nor is he scandalized. He knows they're not children anymore (as much as it's fun to act like they are). He drops the act after a moment and asks, "What's stopping you?"
"Nobuta never says no to me," Shuuji says. "So I never know what she really wants."
It makes sense, but in light of what Nobuta told him before, it's ridiculous. Best friends or not, it seems that there's a lot Shuuji and Nobuta don't understand about each other. Akira can't help it; he bursts out laughing.
"What's so funny?" Shuuji grumbles.
"Nobuta..." Akira can barely gasp out words between giggles. "Nobuta thinks you're shy. She said, 'I think he kisses you more than me."
"I only kissed you once!" Shuuji protests. "And I was drunk! I've kissed Nobuta—" He breaks off, realizing what he's saying, but Akira's laughing too hard to even comment.
"Oh, shut up," Shuuji mutters as Akira rolls on the floor laughing. "You know I'm bad at this."
Finally, Akira stops laughing. He does know that Shuuji as bad at this, at being honest about what he wants and at not worrying too much about other people. It's funny, but at the same time, Shuuji and Nobuta are his friends, and he wants them to be happy. He doesn't mind helping, since they seem to need it. "Shuuji," he says seriously. "Why would Nobuta say no?"
Nobuta and Shuuji are holding hands when he arrives. They let go the moment they notice him, but they're still standing close together. Akira doesn't ask anything, doesn't mention his talks with either of them. He doesn't need to ask questions to know that they've worked things out. And this time, he thinks, it would be better not to laugh at them.
He pushes in between them and slings an arm around each of them. They stumble apart, and Shuuji says an unconvincing, "Hey!" but they let him do it. "Good morning!" he crows cheerfully, prompting both Nobuta and Shuuji to cover their ears.
"What are you so happy about?" Shuuji asks.
Akira doesn't really know the answer. What does he have to be so happy about, when his two best friends are happy together without him? But they're happier together with him, and maybe that's enough.
He smiles his widest grin. "I'm happy because Nobuta and Shuuji are still here with me," he says.
In the ensuing silence, Nobuta reaches up and squeezes Akira's hand. Shuuji just scoffs. "Of course we are."