Pairing: ohmiya, sakuraiba, matsuba .. in a way
Summary: The coming school year is going to bring changes to every aspect of their lives: family, school, social. But if there's one thing you can always rely on, it's the walking club.
Notes: You can find previous chapters here.
The last few weeks of school seemed to fly by. At least, they did to Sho. Life was a lot easier once he cleared things up with Aiba. Although he wasn't quite sure exactly where they stood, he enjoyed being greeted with a smile everyday, walking home hand in hand (once they got past the electronics shop), and the free food Aiba's parents lavished on them every night for dinner.
It also helped that he had taken the Keio exam right after Aiba's confession and made it. It was a relief to have his future, both academic and romantic, for once headed in the right direction.
It was at his celebration dinner that things had taken a slight turn for the worse. The five of them (Emi had work but was going to meet them there once her shift was over) headed down to Tengu to stuff their bellies in the name of Sho's accomplishment. Everything seemed to be going fine. Nino wasn't ignoring Ohno too terribly; in fact, he seemed minutely aware of everything the older boy did. Ohno, meanwhile, spent most of the time congratulating Sho while also keeping an eye on Nino, as if waiting for a chance to talk to the younger boy. A chance that was probably never going to come as Nino spent most of the time talking to Jun, teasing him about his upcoming confession to Emi. Jun, worried that Emi would walk in at any moment, tried his best to quiet his annoying friend but that was a useless endeavor and they all knew it. Aiba spent most of the time enjoying the hijinks, laughing every time Jun swatted Nino, his hand holding Sho's under the table.
After a few rounds to the soda bar and multiple plates of fries, Ohno cleared his throat, trying to get everyone's attention. The other three looked up at him while Nino looked everywhere but Ohno, rigid and worried, most likely, that the announcement would involve him.
"I know this is Sho's special day and all," Ohno began, smiling at Sho, "but I figured he wouldn't mind if I made a little announcement of my own. After much consideration, I've decided to attend Jorinshi College in Saitama in the spring."
Aiba was the first to recover, the shock of hearing Ohno actually speak about his future let alone decide on a school knocking the wind out of the everyone else's sails.
"That's great! Congratulations!" Aiba started applauding in the restaurant, elbowing Sho to join in, which he did.
"I'm glad to hear it, Ohno," Jun smiled.
"Congratulations, Ohno. That's exactly what I wanted to hear," Sho smiled, trying to ignore his embarrassment over the fact that all the other patrons were looking at their party. Noticing his discomfort, Aiba snuck him a grin and that was all Sho needed.
The only one not applauding was Nino, who hadnt even looked up through the announcement, picking at his plate with his chopsticks. Once the clapping had died down a bit, Ohno sat down but a voice broke through the happy atmosphere like an arrow.
"I thought Jorinshi wasn't a good school. I thought you weren't a good artist."
Nino still hadn't looked up, seemingly concentrating on moving a single fry in as many different paths along his plate as possible but his shoulders were tight and his gaze was unmoving. Ohno had frozen at his words. Sho tried to break the tension.
"Nino, that's not a very--"
"I'm not a very good artist," Ohno broke in, his voice strong and purposeful, gaze fixed on the side of Nino's face. "That's why I didn't get into Asakusa. But I'm not bad, either. I'll go to Jorinshi and I'll improve. It's all I can do."
Nino hummed in response, still not looking up. Aiba blinked across the table to Jun who shrugged his shoulders awkwardly in response.
"And do you know how I managed to realize that?" Ohno continued, gaze unwavering. Nino shrugged. "Because I have someone who believes in me." He paused, as if considering something. "Well, at least, I had someone who believed in me."
Ohno trailed off, confidence waning at the lack of response from Nino. Nino had dropped his chopsticks but continued not to look at the other boy, a mixture of pain and guilt on his face as Sho had never seen it before. The other three felt like third wheels, not entirely sure what to do.
The awkward moment was rescued, however, by the appearance of Emi, who showed up with a bag full of ice cream she had brought with her from the convenience store. Bustling into the party with a grin and a plop of her giftbags, the uncomfortable air dissipated. Jun grinned, obviously lovesick, towards the girl, helping her pass out the treats she had brought. Aiba giggled and gave Sho's hand a squeeze. Sho laughed.
"Sho, can I talk to you?" Jun called from the hall outside Sho's classroom. This was quite unusual, as Jun really had no reason to be on the third floor or to be talking to Sho. Thinking that it was probably about Emi (although why he felt the need to continue to consult Sho on his courtship was beyond the older boy), Sho made his way outside, only to be pulled into the men's bathroom by Jun.
"Is everything alright, Jun? You're being especially secretive today. Worried Emi'll hear something?" Sho grinned, trying to lighten the mood. Jun's face seemed to be no laughing matter, however, not even cracking a grin.
"I need you to talk to Ohno. I promised Nino I wouldn't tell him. Of course, I also promised I wouldn't tell you but somehow I think I'll be able to get away with at least this much."
"Tell what?" Worry marked Sho's eyes, Jun's tone and Nino's recent actions making the boy nervous.
After a brief explanation and subtle nudging from Jun, Sho made his way back in the classroom, still processing what he had just been told. It made sense, it did, but at the same time, the timing was horrible. He stole a glance at Ohno who was staring off into space out the window. There was no way to know how the other boy would take the information. The only thing he could do was share.
Birds chirped outside in the slightly chilly air. The sun shone brightly through the small chill and Ohno smiled, looking forward to the walk home. It was days like this, sunny but chilly, that he loved. There was something refreshing about it. Soon enough, it would be time for cherry blossoms, too. He would love to try painting them on a real canvas for once, his previous attempts all being watercolor. Maybe he could even sketch when they all went out for hanami.
His thoughts were interrupted by a cough and he turned around to see Sho watching him with cautious eyes. This could mean one of two things: something to do with school or something to do with Nino. As school was almost over and both boys had decided on colleges, Ohno braced himself for whatever Sho was about to say.
"You should go to Nino's."
"Why?" Ohno blinked. This wasn't exactly what he had expected.
"Nino wasn't at school today, you know," Sho continued.
"Sho, I'm sure Nino doesn't want to see me, whatever it is he's doing," Ohno tried to cut his friend off glumly. Although he had felt like he had made progress breaking through to Nino, the past week or so had seen no development and Ohno had become disheartened.
"Ohno, Nino wasn't in school today because he was packing. His family is moving."
"Moving. Away. Today." Sho punctuated each word with a grave look at Ohno.
Ohno felt the floor drop out from under him. Moving away? Today? To where? School still had a week and a half. What did he think he was doing? Why was he leaving?
Ohno looked up into Sho's eyes and saw an answer there. Grabbing his bag in one hand, he flew from his seat and out the door, not noticing the understanding nod Sho gave him or the way his homeroom teacher tried to warn him about running in the halls.
The normally fifteen minute walk to school was completed in roughly eight as Ohno rounded the corner to Nino's street. He had tried to convince himself on the way there that it was a trick, that Sho was simply trying to tie up loose ends before the two of them graduated but sure enough, there was a large white van in front of the Ninomiya household and two strange men were loading the family couch into the back.
Feet suddenly tons heavier than merely ten seconds earlier, Ohno trudged forward, watching the slow progress of the two men as they loaded possessions and memories into the back of their truck. Why hadn't Nino told him?
As he neared the house, he saw the object of his thoughts come out, a box in his arms, seeming to struggle under the weight of it. His feet moved of their own accord and Nino blinked, surprised, into his eyes as Ohno took the box from him. His expression quickly turned annoyed, however, as he tsk'd and let Ohno take the box.
"Jun told you?" he asked plainly, a touch of irritation in his voice as he lead Ohno around to the side alley, away from the prying eyes of the workers and Nino's mother.
"Jun told Sho. Ugh, I'm going to get him," Nino muttered, his eyes gazing at a distant scene of him exacting revenge on their younger friend. Ohno wouldn't let it stay there, though.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
Nino turned to look at Ohno, really look for the first time in months. Ohno blushed under the gaze, feeling uncomfortable and something else at the same time. All Nino saw, however, was Ohno turn away and his face turned away as well, trying its best to betray no emotion.
"Why would you care?" Nino shrugged. "So the Ninomiyas can't afford to live in Heiwadai anymore. You've almost graduated. You wouldn't have missed me anyway."
Nino began to turn, moving back towards the house, and on impulse, Ohno reached out a hand and grabbed at his wrist. For once, Nino did not shrug it off but instead turned back, slowly, a look of guarded curiosity on his face and it was at that moment that it all fit together. The last puzzle piece managed to find it's place and Ohno actually smiled out of relief, much to Nino's confusion.
"I would miss you," Ohno emphasized to the other boy, a hereto unknown passion lining his words. "Because you're Nino. You're my best friend. I know you hate me right now and you have every right to. I was a dick. I should never have taken my anger out on you. That was a bad move. But I have been doing everything I could to make it up for you and now you're leaving? That's not fair. I wasn't done yet."
"Oh yeah?" Nino asked Ohno's hand, not looking up. "And what else were you going to do? Knit me a DS cover?"
"No. This," Ohno breathed, screwing up all his courage before taking Nino's face in his hands, turning it to look up at him. He barely had time to register the shocked expression on Nino's face before he crashed their lips together, as if searching for something that only Nino could give him. Nino didn't respond at first but Ohno didn't let that daunt him, pressing further into Nino, begging for forgiveness in the only way he hadn't tried yet.
When he felt the resistance start to waver, he took advantage of it and slid his tongue into Nino's mouth. The younger boy squeaked in surprise (which Ohno found adorable) but quickly acclimated, melting into Ohno as his body became suddenly boneless. Ohno wrapped an arm around the small of Nino's back to keep him upright. Nino tangled his hands in Ohno's hair. Ohno growled, much to his surprise.
Suddenly, Nino came to his senses with a start and pushed away from Ohno. He stared at Ohno in shock and confusion. Ohno tried to look as sincere and trustworthy as he could.
"Why?" Nino asked in a whisper.
Ohno shrugged, a slightly guilty expression on his face.
"Because I think I love you."
And it was true. For once, Ohno was certain of something and that was that the thought of Nino being far away from him, of Nino hating him, of Nino doing anything other than smiling at him and calling his name was something he couldn't handle. He wanted to see Nino's face when he finally bought the game he'd been waiting for for weeks. He wanted to hear Nino sing when he thought the others had fallen asleep already. He wanted to be a part of Nino's life more than he wanted to concentrate on his own and now that Ohno understood that, he had to make sure Nino did, too.
Nino looked away, not quite sure what to say, something between a smile and a frown on his face. Ohno didn't know how to feel. Nino had said he loved him once and Ohno had fucked that up. He knew he didn't deserve a second chance but he was hoping beyond hope that somewhere in his chest, Nino felt the same thumping that thundered through his heart.
The two looked at each other for a long time, hope in Ohno's eyes and something like fear in Nino's before the boys heard a horn honk and Nino's mother call for him. Ohno felt a panic rise in his chest. It couldn't end like this. It couldn't.
"Nino?" he asked cautiously, trying not to sound too needy. The other boy just smiled sadly and Ohno felt something thud inside.
"I have to go, Oh-chan," Nino said simply, a weary smile on his face.
"No, don't leave" Ohno breathed but Nino just leaned forward and gave the older boy a peck on the cheek before turning around and walking towards the moving vans.
Ohno thought he might have heard Nino say goodbye before he crumpled to his knees.
Ignore my horribly laughable attempt at writing romantic scenes. D: And sorry this took so long. My life has been consumed by the never-ending quest of trying to get the most out of my time, which unfortunately doesn't leave much time for writing . There are only two chapters left, however, and I am determined to finish them before the end of the semester so this story will definitely be finished sometime before the beginning of August. xD As always, I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading~! ♥