He places the CD player gently on the wooden floor and presses a button. After a few awkward, quiet seconds, a song comes on. It's a bossa-nova type song, with quick-slow-slow tempo and skittish drums and a sweet, high guitar riff, so high it almost sounds like a lute. The female singer's voice is soft and her accent is vague, her tone almost childlike. I start nodding my head absent-mindedly, then remember what I'm supposed to be doing. Teach him.
He stands there with his hands awkwardly in his pockets, staring at the wooden floorboards of the school's studio. Large mirrors line both walls, presumably for ballet. I clear my throat to get Ichigo's attention and say,
"Seeing as you wanna dance with a girl- obviously-" I add, "I'll need to teach you how to lead, and I'll pretend to be Tatsuki. I guess I'm a little bigger than her but it can't be helped."
Ichigo scowls at me. He's regretting this already, hating it already. I'm kind of finding that my irritation is getting the better of me, too.
"Look, you're the one who wants to learn to dance, and you're the one who asked for my help." I state loudly, pointing my finger in his face for emphasis. "Or did you pussy out? Think maybe you can't do it?"
This is an age-old technique for getting people like Ichigo to do things- suggest they can't and get them amped up. Never fails. So why am I hoping he'll say yes, he is backing out, and that he doesn't want to do it any more? Am I really jealous of a human girl? What the fuck?
My provocation seemed to work however, as Ichigo takes a step towards me, and takes both my hands in a way that makes me feel very hot along the bridge of my nose and the tops of my ears, and I want to punch myself in the head for letting this kid make me blush.
"I'm not like you- I don't pussy out of things, never! I'm gonna do this, and be awesome at it, so quit screwing around and teach me!" He jiggles my hands with the last two words and I have to grit my teeth to ignore my burgeoning need to head butt him, he's standing close enough I could probably make his cute little nose bleed.
"Okay, fine." I concede. "The effect you're trying to achieve here is a quick-quick-slow tempo, so spend a second finding the beat of the song. The drums, obviously."
We're still standing hand in hand in a deserted room, I realise, as silence falls between us. I try to put my discomfort aside and my attention falls to the song we're listening to.
I think I'm a little bit
A little bit
A little bit in love with you….
I cough nervously and bring both of our hands up to our sides.
"This is a charming gesture and all, kid, but what you actually wanna do is have a hand here," I place one of his hands on my shoulder, "…and the other one here." I place the other at the small of my back. "That's how you're supposed to hold your girlfriend."
"She's not my girlfriend! She's my fucking friend!" Ichigo splutters, but doesn't let go of me or even loosen his grip. In fact, I could've sworn he pulled me a millimetre or two closer with the hot palm on my back.
"Hey, hey! No need to get so worked up! Your lady friend won't like it if you yell at her while you're dancing."
He says nothing, just glares down at our feet, and my gaze follows. Why'd he pick dirty converse for dance practise? He's such a scruffy kid. I do like the way he's holding me, though. His hands are bigger than I realised.
A little bit in love with you….
I start out gentle, and show him a basic box-step, and then try to incorporate some sort of rhythm to his movement but he's so jerky, like a puppet with a drunk pulling the strings. I should have figured this'd be hard, the kid's got no grace, no finesse to him. I knew that shit the day I met him, swinging around his ridiculous zanpakuto. All brute power, no thought or care. He probably fucks like a-
No, Renji. He probably doesn't fuck like anything, he is self-evidently a virgin, and you are much, much older than he is.
Eventually he grasps the box-step to a stage where he can dance and sway back and forth without looking at his feet, which is pleasing, but similarly expected of him. He always was a fast learner. Now that he doesn't need to watch his feet, he slowly brings his head up, and looks pointedly over my shoulder, just past me.
"That's great, you're doing great!" I encourage.
Then he looks at me, straight at me, into my eyes, and I have to use every ounce of my concentration not to stumble or break eye contact. His eyes, they're… so warm, so golden brown and full of.. Something raw. Something deep and sweet and brave. A glimmer that says, "I will do my best. I promise to try." and it makes my chest tight. I'm glad I'm helping. This is the only way I can help him, these days. He's outgrown me in absolutely every other aspect of our lives. And even though he is seemingly unstoppable in life and battle, I see so much unchanneled potential in him, like he could be a million times what he is now. And still a good, decent man, when all is said and done.
A little bit in love with you..
But only if you're a little bit
In la-la-la-love with me,
Am I staring at him? I feel like I might be. But he's staring back. Holy fuck, we're a lot closer together than I realised. Both of my hands are resting, as lightly as I can make them without letting him know I'm scared, on his hips, and god do his hips feel good under my hands. His hip bones jut out at angles that seem obscene at this proximity, I want to get between those strong thighs and-
"Um… hi? Stop looking into my eyes!"
I do stumble this time. "You're supposed to, ah… It's part of the, uh….."
I need to react quickly. Quick, get angry. My hands drop from his sides and I shove him in the chest.
"How would you know unless you were looking into mine, queer!"
He shoves me back.
"Fuck you! I'm just here to learn, I didn't come so you could eye-molest me!"
I grab the front of his shirt, the material scrunching pleasingly in my fist.
"What did you say!"
"You heard me! Pervert!"
This is escalating quickly. He looks like he might hit me. Maybe I should hit him. No. This isn't how I wanted this to go. I let go of him, and say quietly,
"I think we're done for today."
"Yeah." He mumbles, and steps away from me. I look over at him, the distance seeming to stretch endlessly between us, and the lack of conversation deafening. The CD player saves us from complete silence, but it doesn't help my mood.
Stay with me
Stroke me by the hair
'Cuz I would give anything,
To have you as my man….