“It’ll be fun!” Shizuku says, admist her coughs, and Tatara frowns as he holds up the make-shift practice dress Shizuku had shoved at him earlier in the morning.
“This wasn’t a joke?” he asks, confused, and Shizuku shakes her head, desperation shining in her beautiful eyes.
He really should have learned how to say no by now, he thinks regretfully as he tops on the dress. It looks horrible on him when he glances in the mirror, but when he isn’t thinking about how weird it is to be wearing a dress, he kinda enjoys how the cloth feels as he walks. It’s swishy and beautiful and when he spins it makes a gorgeous circle around him.
“You’re kidding me,” laughs Gaju when he exits the dressing room, and Tatara resolutely ignores him. Mako-chan looks worried behind her older brother, her hands nervously pressed together, but she doesn’t say anything as Tatara marches up to Kiyoharu.
The redhead’s eyes are blown wide and his mouth has fallen slightly open. He’s frozen still, and even though Tatara can hear the girls giggling in the background, he grabs Kiyoharu’s hands, putting them in the customary hold that Shizuku and Kiyoharu had been practicing for the last week.
They’re lucky that he has good eyes and can probably replicate Shizuku’s part of the dance with ease. The added fact that Kiyoharu is a good leader means that they fall into dance quite easily. Kiyoharu is much taller than him, and although it annoys him somewhat to be reminded of the fact every time Kiyoharu pulls him close, the thrill of dancing with someone of Kiyoharu’s talent is making everything fade away.
They work together. Even though Tatara is a leader – a man, foremost – he finds himself smiling wide as Kiyoharu spins him around and around. He knows he shouldn’t be this happy to be led around by another man, but just like with that failed dance with Chinatsu as a leader, it’s ridiculously freeing to be the follower for once.
So he lets Kiyoharu spin them around and tries to ignore the fact that this is a once in a lifetime occasion.
When Kiyoharu gets home that day, he flings himself onto the bed, his cheeks still ridiculously hot after leaving Tatara’s presence.
He can’t believe he got to see Tatara in a dress. He can’t believe he got to dance with Tatara. There’s a lot of things he can’t imagine ever happening that happened today and he would have thought it was a dream if Tatara didn’t feel so real in his arms.
He curses Shizuku in his mind, and feels guilty a second later as he remembers Shizuku’s flushed face. His partner’s sick and had done the best she could to remedy that fact. He shouldn’t begrudge Shizuku.
It isn’t as if she knew he had feelings for Tatara. A crush. A meaningless and stupid crush that shouldn’t go anywhere because ballroom dancers are meant to be married to women. He should be closest to Shizuku, or else how could he dance as well as he’s known to?
Unbidden, the image of Tatara in an ill-fitting dress comes to mind and the way Tatara’s face had flushed with happiness as he had been spun around makes him smile unwillingly.
What was wrong with him?
He rolled over since he was starting to have trouble breathing and grabbed blindly for his phone.
Please get better soon, he texts Shizuku and her answer is almost immediate.
Fujita-kun is trying his hardest, Kiyoharu! He can hear her chiding tone in her words. Please don’t be ungrateful.
He sighs even though Shizuku can’t hear him. He doesn’t know how to tell her it isn’t for Tatara’s sake he wants her to get better.
It’s for his.
He doesn’t know if he can survive the rest of the week with Tatara dressed up as a girl and pressed up against him.
He wonders if Shizuku can somehow pass her illness onto him. Then they could both sit out practice with no need of Tatara in a dress.
His prayers aren’t answered.
The next day, Tatara’s in a dress once again. This time it’s blue.
Kiyoharu stares in consternation, wondering just how his uncomplicated life became this complicated. His life used to be just about dance. Now it’s about dance and pretty boys in dresses.
“I can’t,” he says, helplessly, but as always Sengoku and the girls trample all over his protests. Tatara’s once again in his arms.
“I’m sorry, Hyoudou,” says Tatara when they’ve finished the first dance. His eyes are glimmering with unshed tears and Kiyoharu feels his resolve crumbling. As it’s wont to do in the presence of Tatara.
“It’s not a big deal,” he mumbles, and Tatara seems to brighten at his words.
“I’m no Shizuku,” he says, stating the obvious, “but I hope I’m helping a little bit.”
“You are,” he blurts out before he could think about it, and Tatara graces him with a wide smile.
And then there’s muffled laughter in the background and Kiyoharu whirls, pinning Sengoku and the girls with a heated glare. Sengoku just sends him a thumbs up and Shizuku just laughs harder behind her elegant hand.
Tatara looks terrified when he switches his attention back to him, and Kiyoharu sighs, the tension draining out of his body. He attempts a smile, and Tatara brightens at it, and they flow perfectly together as Kiyoharu twirls Tatara around and dips him.
“What is that?” asks Tatara, in horror.
Mako looks determined as she holds lipgloss in her right hand, the glimmering pink of the tip foreboding as it approaches his lips. “Stay still, Fujita-kun,” she commands, and against all reason, he does.
When it’s all done, and he has a full face of make-up, Tatara really thinks he should have learned to say no to pretty girls already.
“No,” he tries when Mako approaches with a wig full of long luscious black locks, but it’s futile because she ignores him, placing the wig on his head. His hair is short enough to be hidden completely, and when Mako makes him look in the mirror, he grimaces.
“I look nothing like a girl!” he protests, and Mako laughs that cute laugh he’s heard so many times before.
“You do,” she promises. “No one will be able to tell.” She hands him a beautiful blue dress, and it’s different from the other dresses the girls usually wear. It’s not showing any cleavage for one, and it’s poofy, and it reminds him of a dress Cinderella would wear.
“This is embarrassing,” he says, flatly, but when Mako just smothers another laugh, he heads into the dressing room.
Kiyoharu runs straight into the wall when he catches a glimpse of Tatara.
It has to be Tatara. Shizuku had texted him that morning saying she couldn’t make it to the competition and arrangements had been made. Knowing how crazy both Sengoku and Shizuku were, Kiyoharu was almost certain said arrangement would be Tatara in a dress.
After a whole week of practice with Tatara in a dress, Kiyoharu was certain he would be able to keep his composure. This was normal now. Tatara in a dress was normal.
Tatara in a ballroom gown with full make-up and a god-to-honest wig is not in Kiyoharu’s realm of normal.
He swears his heart stops beating when Tatara rushes over to him, his eyelashes full and his eyes wide and full of worry. “Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?”
Belatedly, Kiyoharu remembers he had just ran into a wall. He flushes in embarrassment.
“Yes,” he says, and then turns, unable to face Tatara.
He hears muffled laughter in the background and he bemoans his life. He’s used to this now. Being a show to the devils in his life.
Tatara takes his hand into his and he’s forced to look back at his partner. “I’m not Shizuku,” he says, reminiscent of what he had said during practice, “But we’re going to win.”
For Kiyoharu, this is a competition that doesn’t matter too much. He’s won multiple competitions now, holder of multiple first place trophies, and having Tatara as his partner didn’t make him worry too much. But now, facing Tatara’s resolve, Kiyoharu realizes that for his crush, this is different.
“I’ll make you win,” he promises, lowly in case the others are still around, “You’ll be the most beautiful woman in the room, Tatara.”
“Woman!?” squeaks Tatara, his cheeks a bright red, and his voice high-pitched and Kiyoharu laughs.
They win first place.
Every time someone compliments Tatara on his pale complexion and large eyes, he squeaks out a thank you. Luckily his high-pitched voice is enough to fool everyone and no one questions his role as Shizuku’s cousin standing in for her.
Tatara isn’t allowed to get undressed before they leave because it’s getting late and they have to get home. Sengoku drives them all back, and Mako yawns loudly, falling asleep against her brother. Tatara still looks supremely uncomfortable in his get-up, but he somehow falls asleep, also leaning against Gaju.
Kiyoharu isn’t jealous.
They get dinner, Sengoku’s treat. Tatara’s scrubbed clean, and he’s back in his normal clothes, and Kiyoharu likes him better like this. It’s easier to remember why he likes Tatara when he isn’t made up like a doll.
Still, even though Tatara obviously didn’t like dressing up as a girl and the fact that this was a temporary thing, Kiyoharu still feels a sense of loss. They had become so close during this week that he doesn’t want to see it end.
He walks with Tatara back home. The stars are high in the sky and the wind is chilly, and Tatara sneezes loudly.
It’s comfortable. Even if it is the end.
Shizuku’s already feeling better. She had texted them congratulations and promised to be back on Monday, healthy and ready for their next competition. Kiyoharu wanted to text back a salty ‘why couldn’t you get better before I fell more in love with Tatara’, but he didn’t because it wasn’t Shizuku’s fault she had gotten sick.
“I wish I could be a follower forever.”
Kiyoharu stops in his tracks, the whispered confession barely heard despite the quietness of their surroundings. Everyone around them is asleep in their beds; the only light around is from the streetlamps. But here they are, only halfway home and Tatara’s just as still in front of him, the line of his shoulders tense.
“Kidding,” says Tatara suddenly, turning back to look at Kiyoharu with a wide smile, and Kiyoharu starts to breathe again. “You make everything so easy you know,” he confides. “I don’t think I can ever become a leader like you.”
“You can,” he says, desperate to make that sad look from Tatara’s face disappear. “You are,” he says, “Not just anyone can make Shizuku dance like that.”
The memory of the first competition makes Tatara smile, though it’s wistful and not as bright as Kiyoharu is used to seeing. “I don’t want this to end,” he admits.
“One last time?” He’s shaking, but when he steps up to Tatara, his hands are steady. Tatara looks surprised, but he accepts the hold, and then Kiyoharu is sweeping Tatara off his feet for the last time. Tatara isn’t wearing a dress, but they’re dancing the dance that won them the gold medal and Kiyoharu’s heart is full.
The light from the streetlamps is enough for him to catch the looks he gets from Tatara, full of admiration and longing and awe. And when they come to a stop, Kiyoharu has to stop himself from closing the last bit of distance between them, from capturing Tatara’s lips for his own.
He goes to draw away, but Tatara’s closed the last bit of distance himself. Rough, chapped lips press against Kiyoharu’s for only a moment, and then Tatara’s pushing away, stammering and cheeks aflame and Kiyoharu presses his hand against his lips in disbelief.
“I was just caught up in the moment,” Tatara promises, his tone pleading and desperate for Kiyoharu to understand.
“Did you ever want to kiss Mako-chan?” Kiyoharu wonders. He tries his best to keep the jealousy out of his voice; he doesn’t want Tatara to spook.
Tatara flushes harder under the dim light from the streetlamps.
“No,” he admits, quietly, and then closes his eyes as if he’s expecting Kiyoharu to hit him for kissing him.
Kiyoharu instead cards his fingers into Tatara’s short locks, uses his other hand to tilt Tatara’s chin up, and kisses him.
Tatara melts under him, his lips parting in shock and he’s soft, softer than he had any right to be.
When they pull apart finally, Kiyoharu thinks he may be panting harder than he’s ever had after dancing.
“Guess you’re not divorcing me then,” says Tatara, his eyes sparkling, and Kiyoharu laughs.