|Remix fic for wintersjuly: "Waiting"
||[Aug. 10th, 2008|07:59 pm]
Japanese Drama Remix Exchange
Fandom: Nobuta wo Produce
Summary: When it's better not to give up.
Original story: Guilt Free At Three A.M. by wintersjuly
The apartment block was silent by the time Shuuji got home, every window dark and staring. Shuuji took care to make as little noise as possible as he slipped inside and crept down the hallway, feeling absurdly like a teenager trying to sneak in after curfew. He made a face at himself, but still winced outside his own door as his keys jangled in the silence.
Inside it was pitch-black save for the barest glow from the streetlights outside. His eyes had adjusted to the darkness well enough that he could make out looming, ghostly shapes where the furniture should be, the faint sheen of a glass surface. He kept the light off, toed off his shoes, and padded toward the kitchen.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something move.
Shuuji stumbled backward, clutched a hand to his chest, and swore as his heart careened madly in his chest. The something moved forward a little more and Shuuji gritted his teeth, one part completely unsurprised and one part furious anyways.
"Kusano," he said threateningly.
"Good morning, Shuuji-kun!" Akira whispered, smiling idiotically and screwing his eyes shut.
Shuuji took a deep breath, then another. His heart was still racing. "What are you doing here?" he hissed.
Akira made big eyes at him. "Shuuji gave me a spare key! Shuuji said I could come over whenever I – "
Shuuji cut him off before Akira could repeat verbatim the embarrassing speech Shuuji had made after graduation, before he realized Akira planned him to follow him to university as well. "That was supposed to be for emergencies," he said. "Not to – to jump out at me in the middle of the night -- "
"Shuuji was out late," Akira said disapprovingly. He pointed at Shuuji and put on a mock falsetto. "You! Do you know what time it is!"
Shuuji rolled his eyes. "Akira, it's not even – "
Akira ignored him and sniffed exaggeratedly. "What? Perfume?" He gasped. "Was Shuuji out with a woman?"
"Idiot," Shuuji said. With an infinitesimal sigh, he resigned himself to the situation. Stifling a yawn, he eased himself down to the floor, where he tucked his legs under the low table and felt for the switch to turn on the kotatsu.
Akira flopped down across from him with much less care, coming perilously close to banging a shin on the edge of the table. He folded his arms on top of the table, rested his chin on them, and tilted his head to one side. "Nobuta's coming today," he said. There was the faint tone of disapproval again.
"I know," Shuuji said. Of course he knew; he'd been thinking about it all evening, all through the English club's end-of-the-year party, through the endless toasts and the impromptu karaoke and the drunken first-year girls clinging to his arm.
"Because Shuuji wouldn't forget something important like that," Akira said, nodding to himself. "Even if he had a girlfriend...?" There was an upward tilt to Akira's voice at the end of the sentence, a faint questioning note, as if he wasn't entirely sure, or was seeking reassurance.
Shuuji frowned. "I don't have a girlfriend," he said.
"But if you did," Akira persisted. "You wouldn't. Right?"
Shuuji looked at Akira hard. Akira's face revealed nothing. "Of course not," he said. "Why are you even asking."
Akira didn't answer. He looked past Shuuji, out the window, and the corners of his mouth curved up the tiniest bit. Shuuji hadn't known there was that much subtlety in Akira's entire body.
"Shuuji's going to be tired," Akira said instead, after a minute.
"You're going to be tired, too," Shuuji pointed out, "since you're staying up just as late as I am." It was a struggle, but he didn't add, and if you weren't here I'd be asleep by now.
Akira hummed noncommittally. Then he said, "Couldn't sleep anyway."
Shuuji smiled, just a little. "Excited, huh. Yeah."
"Do you think Nobuta's sleeping right now?" Akira said. His tone was all wrong. When Shuuji looked over, he wasn't smiling any more.
Shuuji frowned again. "Maybe? Nobuta doesn't like staying out late, right? She has a long train ride tomorrow, she probably needs to rest."
Akira was quiet for a minute. Shuuji could hear the steady tick of his bedside clock from the other room. He started, "If you want, I can get out the extra futon – "
"It's different," Akira said. "I'm not tired because I wasn't doing anything. Just waiting."
Shuuji opened his mouth, and closed it again. "Akira," he said slowly, at last. Akira wasn't looking at him. "Akira. You're not. You're not the only one." You're not the only one who cares.
Akira's eyes were fixed on the window. He spoke softly and rapidly. "Akira – I gave up. On Nobuta. But only in one way. Nobuta and Shuuji grew up and Akira still – I still can't give up. I can't give up on you two."
Shuuji swallowed. "Then don't," he said roughly. "Who wants you to give up, anyways. We haven't either. I haven't. Nobuta hasn't."
Akira didn't say anything, so Shuuji kept on going. "And I won't, and neither will she. Akira. Look at me."
Akira looked at him. His face was blank, just like it had been the day Shuuji had given him the spare key.
"I'm not giving up," Shuuji said, "ever. Understand?"
Akira cleared his throat. "I understand," he said softly.
Shuuji exhaled. "Good," he said. He shifted a little. "Do you want to ask her? Tomorrow?"
It was just the briefest of seconds before Akira shook his head. "No," he said. "I should trust my friends, right?"
"Right," said Shuuji.
"Besides – " Akira smiled again, that stupid simple-minded smile that stretched across his whole face, and Shuuji almost sighed with relief. "Besides, if Shuuji loves me that's enough for me!"
Shuuji groaned. "Idiot," he said, "who said anything about love – "
"Shuuji's never giving up," Akira caroled, "Akira believes in Shuuji – "
"Shut up," Shuuji hissed, feeling his cheeks heat up in spite of himself. "You're going to wake the neighbors!"
Akira's annoying laugh was cut off by an earsplitting yawn. "Tired after all?" he said, looking vaguely surprised at himself.
"Come on," Shuuji said, getting to his feet. "I'll get you the spare futon."
"No need for a spare," Akira said happily, following. "We can share, like true friends!"
"Since when do true friends sleep together," Shuuji said. "True friends wouldn't be bothering each other in the middle of the night in the first place."
As he turned toward the bedroom, Akira slung an arm around his shoulder. Shuuji didn't push it away.