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To Weave Words, Make Melodies

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Touma doesn't understand why he can't do it.

Making conversation, asking for some time together, to exchange some digits....'picking up the ladies', as it's called. He's read up on common tropes to deal with the matter, researched scripts on romance -- how could anyone call this entertainment -- even looked into online forums for advice. But despite that, the concept alone sounded daunting. Frightening. Scary.

But he had to understand. His job required it, demanded that he picked up some charms to woo the female audience.

So, why not take the trope to next level? On that fated day, on the rooftops, Touma reaches out. And he gets, well....

"You want me to pick up girls with you?"

The response he hears from Itsuki doesn't surprise him. Having a wingman, picking up the girls together? The concept was like a pitch for a sitcom: Itsuki would be the charming, sweet voiced man sweeping the girls off his feet, and Touma would be the bumbling, clumsy idiot serving as comic relief each episode.

...gods, he can't let Maiko know about such a horrible concept. Once she caught wind of an 'idea', who knows what devious methods she'd use to achieve it!

But thankfully Maiko isn't here, and more importantly, Itsuki accepts the proposition. He takes Touma to Harajuku -- the crowds are as big as ever, but at the very least its not Takeshita Street. He'd probably lose poor Itsuki in the mass of people flocking for the latest fashion! A open space would allow them to find a suitable person to practice with.

When they do find someone to speak to, the first thing that Touma notices is Itsuki's demeanor; he speaks softly, thoroughly listens to the woman he speaks to. If it's not coffee they like, he asks if they'd like tea instead -- if time is an issue, he suggests exchanging topic IDS with the busy person. Itsuki has an answer for everything, and he weaves his words into a melody that he could listen to all day., why was even speaking difficult for himself?

"To start, you're not always going to get a yes," Itsuki explains; the two of them had taken a break, dipping into one of the crepe stands nearby to grab a midday snack. "Not every girl is going to fall into your arms, and that's ok."

"That...makes sense." Touma mumbles, "So, even if it means getting a no, I should ask...?"

"Yes. But comfort is important too." A cautious Itsuki adds. "Don't force them to hang out with you. People have the right to say no, and that's not anyone's fault."

The boy would continue explaining things -- obvious things, yet unfamiliar and foreign and somehow just so, so difficult to put into practical use. At least his job didn't have to be realistic -- now that he had the basic outline, he's at least sure he can perform it well.

But performing was unmistakably different from reality.

A few weeks pass, and the performance goes off without a hitch. The director commends him, and his talent begins to draw attention. Not just the ladies, oh no! He's drawn in someone much more prominent, someone who's interested enough in his performance that they offer him a chance at a job. A job that, if he were to make the audition, would have him live on TV, airing on Saturday mornings.

There's a few mishaps this time -- by the gods, why did mirages have to do such horrible things?! -- but he makes it there in time for audition, is approved, and soon enough...

It's his face on the screen. His! He's become the hero he's always wanted to be, the figure that children everywhere look up to. He couldn't be prouder of himself, yet Touma is awed that his determination, all his hard work, had finally made this a reality.


He turns to find Itsuki standing there; he's forgotten that the boy had also been watching his premiere. "You did an excellent job," Itsuki adds, and gods, there was his bright, gentle smile. It was so difficult not to parrot a smile of his own when he saw this heartwarming expression.

And this face, Itsuki's face! This was the face of someone who helped him get to be where he was. Touma was absolutely going to tell him, and he would, he so would,  genuinely and truly thanking him with every ounce of appreciation...

But Itsuki calls it strange. Calls it unusual. But why? Jokingly, he jabs a playful, "You wouldn't be embarrassed, would you?" However, as he words it, Touma feels his own hands press against his cheeks. Without realizing it, he's the one who's embarrassed, burying his face in his hands.

Something clicks in Itsuki's mind, and Touma watches the boy shy away from behind his hands. "Actually, yes.." He gathers the energy to say, "I'm embarrassed as well, but it's alright. I don't mind it."

Silence drifts on. Touma's hands are glued to his face, cheeks becoming a rosy hue.

"Say," Itsuki follows up, his expression calm, collected, yet still retaining his meek face; "Do you want to go out for some coffee?"

Wordlessly, Touma's hands fall, and take the boy's hands into his own.