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[personal profile] ciircee
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAILLE! YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

And now, a short bit of ficlet.



Take me home tonight

All Nino can think now is 'What was I thinking?' in a kind of hysterical inner mantra.

"Wow, it's so…it's real, man," Sho is saying, staring around at the rough and dirty streets that make up the warren of Nino's neighborhood.

Nino keeps his eyes resolutely forward. "It's kind of a slum," he says, apologetic.

Sho's sneakers make a soft skipping thump as he jogs a bit to catch up to Nino, suddenly warm at his side. "It's ghetto," he says. He sounds reverent and Nino snorts. "No, seriously! This is where life gets real."

Yeah, real desperate. Real tough. Real dead-end. Real tired and worn and faded and crap. "We can still go to your house, you know. It's cool."

"Are you kidding?!" Sho bounces a bit and then moves and Nino looks over to see him posing all rapper-cool. Sort of. "I have got to see where you live."

Nino can already smell his grandfather's factory ahead. It's not like a smelting plant or anything but it still heats and bends and folds metal and there is the smell of industry in the air, of blue-collar sweat and dingy hopelessness and oil, grease. Factory fumes. "It's not far," he says as they turn a corner. He points to where the factory lurches above the hunched and weedy houses. "It's there, by the factory."

The look on Sho's face is enraptured. "Cool."

Internally, Nino is wincing. He doesn't say anything just leads the way up the street and up the cracked, half-crumbling walk to his door. "Come on in," he invites casually. As casually as he can.

"Sorry for intruding!" Sho is still excited as he steps in but Nino can see it, the change in his expression as Sho takes in the house.

It's not awful. It's not even that bad. But Nino's home is shabby and thin, everything showing its age. There are some useless things lying here and there where his mom and sister have tried to pretty things up—an interesting bottle filled with colored sand, bright throw pillows in thrift-store found fabrics, some lumpy artwork made and colored by his own hands from his elementary school days. There's dust in the corners of the room—nobody ever has time to tidy up, they're all busy working and when they're not…well, it's just them, so who cares if there are strings of dust stretching on the ceiling?

There's nothing much here that resembles the upper-class house that Sho lives in—nothing beyond simple function, that is.

And Sho has noticed. Nino can see him taking it and realizing that the neighborhood outside reveals exactly the kind of insides that can be expected. He can see Sho's shock that the door hadn't opened to some cushy, comfy, airy-spacey-bright space like his own. Sho looks at him and smiles gamely. "Awesome!" he says heartily.

Nino feels a sting of shame for his home, for his life. He feels angry that he feels that way—his mother and sister and grandfather work their asses off and they're doing better than most in the neighborhood are!—but he can't really help it. Instead he just swings his arms a little as he drops the guest slippers at Sho's feet. "It's kind of a mess. I used to do the cleaning up before I started at Johnny's."

Sho nods along, toeing out of his shoes. "Awesome," he repeats.

Nino looks away. "My room is down here—" he says and scuffs into his house shoes, leading the way.

His room is—He suddenly sees it with eyes that are older than that of a fourteen year old boy. It's worth being ashamed of. Sho's room isn't exactly neat thanks to his piles of clothes and books but Nino's room… Nino's room has the same piles of clothes, spilling out of a second-hand dresser and heaped in front of his closet. His bed is an untidy rumple of pillows and sheets, just like in Sho's own room. But unlike Sho's, his room has got old food in it from where he ate and played video games to unwind after a day at work, multitasking in the bit of time he had between his job and his homework and his chores and his family. Thanks to the old food, there are dead bugs here and there. And Doraemon is everywhere. Even on his change jar full of five hundred yen coins.

'What was I thinking?' kicks up in his head again, keeping time with the thudding drop of his heart. Sho is his friend but still, he shouldn't have done this. Not like this. He should have planned ahead, not just come right out with it on the spin of a feeling. "It's a pit," he says, voice cheerful as he makes a face. "If you want we can go down to the coffee place on the corner."

Sho shrugs and flops down on the messy bed, shoving a game controller out of his way (carefully, and that means something to Nino, it really does) and he says, "This is fine. It's great." He rolls and then sits up and motions to the guitar standing beside the bed. "Are you going to play me what you wrote or not?" He grins, all stupidly toothy, "I want to hear an original Nino." His face softens after a moment. "I really do. C'mon."

Nino takes the guitar off its stand and fiddles with the tuning pegs. He has to take a moment to be bashful and smile down at the strings. "Keep your pants on," he mutters.

Sho laughs and he is Nino's best friend, forever.



And a belated Happy, happy birthday! ♥ to my own Deanna. ILU, Aiba-chan.
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Circe

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