Shinji/Kamio, for orphne
Akira taps Shinji on the shoulder one day when it’s too hot to play
tennis and invites him over to play DDR in the cool of Akira’s bedroom.
It’s a wide room. The dance pad is spread out in the middle of it and
the room’s few breakable objects are lurking safely in corners. Shinji
thinks they look like offerings at a shrine, and says so. Akira gives
him one of those looks that says he expects Shinji to elaborate, so
Shinji elaborates. Like at shrines or war memorials where the flowers
are strewn and the notes are scattered but all are focused around one
thing, as if Akira is a god when he dances, and the cd tower and the
laundry basket and the plant in the corner are all there to worship.
Shinji has never noticed that Akira likes plants. He has been to
Akira’s house dozens of times, maybe even hundreds, because they have
known each other that long, but he hasn’t ever really stopped to look
around him to see what sorts of things he can learn about Akira from
his environment—he supposes this is because Akira is always rushing him
along somewhere, just like when they were on their way here, and Akira
kept tugging at his elbow for no reason, like they were in some sort of
hurry, even though—
Akira breaks in with an exasperated, nervous
laugh, and turns on the DDR soundtrack before Shinji can ask him why he
should be nervous when Shinji has seen him dance before. In fact, if
anyone should be nervous, it’s Shinji. Shinji isn’t a dancer. Akira is
the one with the innate sense of balance and the energy working through
his body, the kind of built-in rhythm that reminds Shinji of Echizen,
and the way he never stopped moving the whole time he played Shinji,
until the racket handle broke (Shinji still feels bad about that, but
he supposes Echizen has probably forgotten all about it, about him, by
now), and even then he still managed to keep—
bouncing on the balls of his feet and turns. The glint of excitement
that always shows up when he exercises has yet to appear in his eyes;
at the moment he just looks annoyed. Shinji wonders why.
Akira says, sweeping his hair out of his face. “You think if I’d been
the one to play Echizen, I would have wound up not being able to talk
about anything else?”
Shinji blinks at him. He doesn’t think
this is accurate, and it’s not like Akira to make misjudgments about
people, especially not people he’s known as long as Shinji. Shinji
doesn’t talk about Echizen more than anybody else, and he figures Akira
would be able to see that better than anybody else because Akira is
around him the most and if Shinji talks about anybody, it would really
be Akira, because he sees Akira every day, and Echizen’s only run into
him once at the sporting goods place when they—
moving and touches Shinji’s elbow again like he did when he was
dragging Shinji away from the street courts and home.
“It doesn’t matter where you start
talking,” he says. “It’s always where you end up.” He looks down at the
pad beneath his feet. “I wonder if that happens to everybody who plays
His voice is odd and Shinji can’t tell if he’s mad or something. He looks at Akira for a moment.
“Akira, do you want to play Echizen?” he asks.
opens both his hands. He moves his palms down by his sides. Then he
puts them both on Shinji’s shoulders. He kisses Shinji.
mouth is dry. His eyes are wide and dark, pressed against Shinji’s
face, and Shinji keeps waiting for him to pull back and act like
everything is a joke. Instead Akira raises his fingers and touches
Shinji’s hair. Shinji thinks that he hadn’t brushed his hair in a
while. The thought embarrasses him, and he steps apart.
flushes bright red and turns away. Shinji opens his mouth to speak but
Akira says, “No.” Shinji wonders if he’s telling him not to speak or
answering Shinji’s question. He stares at Akira, thinking that Akira
has never kissed him before. He wonders if Akira will do it again. He
thinks the second time might be better—that his kiss might be sharp
like the cut of his chin and the tints of his hair. Shinji might even
try to kiss back. But Akira doesn’t do anything, and Shinji stares at
him, waiting, while Akira stares at the dance pad, then at the maple
bonsai in the corner, before finally turning and making his way out of
the room. Shinji hears his feet padding on the stairs. He wonders if he
should leave. He wonders if Akira thinks he is a bad kisser.
next day Akira doesn’t look at him during their first class, or any of
the ones after. He steals Tachibana An’s pen set, and keeps it away
from her for the rest of the day.