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Dancing On My Own

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As the music starts up for their last song of the night, pounding beats echoing out around the packed arena, Aiba can't help but steal a sidelong glance at the man standing only a few feet away from him. Sho stands poised to launch himself into action at any moment, and at the given time he does just that, his body forming lines and patterns which seem to spring from the very music itself; the rhythm builds and the bass kicks in, Sho's feet stepping perfectly in time, Aiba doing his best to match his band-mate's brilliant performance. As always, Aiba is in awe of the way Sho moves, watching the raw power in those shoulders, the fluid and sinuous shapes described by his arms...

Aiba Masaki has been in love with Sakurai Sho for as long as he can remember. The first day they met, he was taken aback by the older boy's self-assured cockiness, his outright arrogance; it should have put him off, but something about his confidence had immediately appealed to Aiba's more quiet and reserved personality. Of course, that quiet and reserved personality also meant that Aiba stayed quiet about his true feelings until it was too late.

I didn't want to get in the way. Jun was always so upset in the early days when Sho turned him down; what kind of a friend would I have been if I'd abandoned comforting Jun in favour of going after the boy who was making him so sad?

Instead he'd offered a shoulder for Jun to cry on whenever Sho brushed him off, acted as a sounding board for Sho during the moments when he wanted to complain about Jun following around like a lost puppy; it would only have made things worse, he thinks, if he'd followed suit and started pining after Sho as well. No, much better to keep quiet and try to keep the peace between them all, no matter how difficult it had become.

And then, there had been Hawaii. Even now Aiba finds it hard to try and recall the details; there were scurried visits between rooms, hushed conversations between Sho and Jun, and the general idea that something had changed between them. After that, they had made the announcement to the rest of the band that after years of animosity and misunderstandings, there was something between them after all – and Aiba's heart had truly broken in two. Not that anybody had even noticed.

Remembering that announcement he falters, makes a mis-step, his foot landing in the wrong place as his leg twists awkwardly; he glances up, concerned not that he might have hurt himself but that he might have ruined the dance routine, and as he does so he happens to catch Sho's eye – and the other man smiles. Not a cruel and patronising smirk, not a smug grin, but a gentle, reassuring smile which lets Aiba know that everything is fine. He hasn't spoilt anything, and the crowd don't even seem to have noticed.

But that smile... if he could only smile at me like that because it was me he wanted...

Quickly recovering himself, Aiba gets back on track and manages to catch up with the others, although now that he's made one mistake it's as though he's lost cohesion with the rest of them. Now, more than ever, it's as though he's dancing on his own. He's painfully aware how much Sho and Jun adore each other; even now, he can see the two of them exchanging glances as they pass by each other, secret smiles reserved for them and them alone. He's also very much aware of how close Nino and Ohno are too, their relationship having existed for almost as long as the band itself has been together, which only serves to highlight his own loneliness.

He stumbles again, another false step, but again his training means that he keeps going, even though the rest of the band somehow feel further away than ever, despite the fact they are physically so near. He passes behind Sho, the man not only close enough to touch but to even catch his scent; so close, yet at the same time completely out of his reach.

I may as well try to touch the moon's reflection.

The song comes to an end and he breathes a sigh of relief, closing his eyes, the cries of thousands of fans somehow managing to drown out his more melancholy thoughts, for which he is thankful. He fakes a smile as they take their final bows, doing his best to keep it plastered on his face as the band make their way down the stairs to the backstage area where Nino and Ohno break away to do... whatever it is they do, giggling between themselves at yet another in-joke as they go.

“Aiba? Are you alright?” It's Sho, his warm, deep voice genuinely tinged with a hint of worry. “I saw you stumble up there... we're all pretty exhausted, I know, and it was our last number. But you seemed... upset about something.”

“I'm fine.” Aiba smiles back at Sho, losing himself for a moment in those beautiful brown eyes, wishing that he could just throw his arms around the other man and bury his face in Sho's broad chest, hold him close until everything is alright. But he can't. He can never do that, because Sho isn't his to hold. “It's nothing. Really. I'll be alright.”

“You're sure?” Sho doesn't seem entirely convinced.

“Yeah.” Aiba even manages a laugh. He's told the lie often enough that it slips easily from his tongue now, the words barely even registering as a deception any more. “Thank you, Sho. I'll be okay.”

“Well... if you say so.” Sho reaches out and gives Aiba's shoulder a reassuring squeeze before making his way down the corridor to rejoin Jun, once more leaving Aiba alone.

Calm, patient Aiba, always so reliable and honest. Gentle, trustworthy Aiba, always the first to listen to everybody else's problems, never one to burden anyone else with his own. The lies will keep on coming, but the heartache will never really go away.