Who: Niou Masaharu (the_trixxxster ) & Yagyuu Hiroshi (verusvero )
What: Wherein Niou takes the opportunity to show off, Yagyuu’s interests are well met and where a new challenge is born.
When: March 29, after Yagyuu extended an invitation here.
Where: Yagyuu’s dorm - #215.
Rating: T, I guess for language.
It was a hushed and quick dash of air, most would brush it off as breathing, but Yagyuu knew himself and his confines much better than that; it was a sigh. No doubt. No qualm. No uncertainty. He pondered as to what compelled him to encourage another to visit his dorm, and the only answer he found was: the desire for his curiosity to be quenched. And the equal desire for his pique of interest to be matched (for he could not deny having an interest in him).
However, just because those desires were in place and he was entirely aware of them, did not mean that he would exclude the suspicion and thoughts of self-defense that he had self-implemented years prior. After all, he learned to guard the facade he so expediently and voluntarily placed upon himself.
Glancing at his watch and watching the seconds tick out of place, he slowly murmured under his breath, “it should be about time,” he fiddled with the pens on his desk, idly lining them up in accordance to height and color. He would have to wait to see the results of his invitation; whether it was considered the “right” choice or not, and whether he could keep his false pretense in check or not.
But, he could absolutely not lay fallacy on his claim. If Yagyuu Hiroshi said he was good at waiting; he’d have to be good.
Niou would always claim that, without a doubt, he was never on time. Not for anything, and especially not for things he deemed to be important. He'd always settle on being fashionably late. Or, really, what he decided was fashionably late. Which, to most people, was right on time. Because his 'on time' was actually early, according to most people. And Niou was never early. Or on time. Just late.
And there was really no reason for him to be late (which was really on time), considering his walk was only about ten steps away. He just wanted to make a point. Nobody was important enough to him for him to be on time. The effect was lost, however, because his 'late' was everybody else's 'right on time'.
Finally, after checking his clock again and deciding it was late enough for him, he hauled himself off his bed and snatched up the Rubik's cube that was on it. The cube was completed, and the sections slid easily in his hands. It was due to the fact that he had this particular cube since he was about twelve. It was the first cube he'd ever gotten, and it was the one he used most often. It was broken in from being solved, mixed up, and occasionally dropped or thrown so many times. But it was one of his prized possessions, and he loved it almost as much as he loved his cat.
He slipped out of the room and closed the door softly behind him. He walked in his usual fashion, slightly slouched and not quite caring to pick his feet up completely, those simple ten steps to the door next to his. He brought his hand up, a smirk flitted across his lips, and he rapped on the door with his knuckles. And although he had half the mind to walk right in and call out some jack-assed comment ("Honey, I'm home!"), he instead waited patiently.
Well, as patiently as Niou Masaharu could get, anyway.
Considering Niou’s attitude and his self-proclaimed lack of “moral fiber” (and perhaps, he speculated: a loss of human reasoning) Yagyuu was considerably surprised. Niou not only came within pristine time, but with a knock, a rather unceremonious one, but a knock nonetheless. Wiping the surprise off of his face and entirely clearing his expression, he stood up to get the door, a soft, “I’m coming” slipping from his mouth as a natural motor response. He opened the door with a swift, but careful motion, giving a slight bow as he welcomed the boy in.
“Hello Niou-kun. You have my gratitude for taking the time to come here...” he paused courteously and continued again, “due to my rather self-centered request.” His voice was calm and even as he eyed the other boy guardedly. He released a slight cough, pushing up his glasses with the back-side of his fingers. He opened his mouth to speak again, “if you’d like any refreshments, I have sports drinks and jasmine tea.” All his actions were careful, considerate and in complete accordance to his will. And as Yagyuu’s lips were slowly curving at the corners - he brought the back of his hand to his mouth; smoothly masking it out without a trace.
As he waited, letting out a soft sound at Yagyuu’s repsonse of “I’m coming”, he mixed the cube up in his hands aimlessly. The cube was nearly falling apart, it slid so easily. But he liked it that way. It was familiar, and Niou liked familiar. When the door was opened, Niou palmed the cube behind his back, almost as if he were hiding it from view. Yagyuu bowed, and he inclined himself slightly in response, although it looked more like a simple nod than anything.
Yagyuu was way polite, but he didn’t let it catch him off guard. He’d expected it, and already decided that he wasn’t going to bother trying to be polite in return. It just wasn’t in his nature to use honorifics and act very refined. He stepped into the room and looked around, taking everything in and analyzing it as he did so. After a moment, he turned around and smirked. “Self-centered? Not at all, Yeahgyuu~.” The way he stretched and distorted the other’s name almost made it seem like they were old friends. “I said I liked to show off, didn’t I?” From behind his back, he tossed the Rubik’s cube over his shoulder and caught it in front of him again. It was so fluid and smooth, that it was obvious it had been practiced. “And some tea sounds really fuckin’ nice, actually.”
Yagyuu scanned his room as he softly shut the door and he was admittedly pleased with the state of it. His room was primped and polished as expected and though it would seem like a silly notion when voiced aloud: he generally enjoyed and felt physically (and perhaps even mentally) engaged when he’d clean his room. Not only was it a deeply integrated piece in his daily routine; but it was what he deemed a necessary drawstring for his mask. Much like a crime scene that needed to be cleared away, Yagyuu would put conscious effort into smoothing and masking over the visible lines and creases of whatever he would deem as being “too deep.” He’d clean and clean and clean until there was no accidental evidence left to analyze, only the intentional. Hence, his room was lined in books and nothing all too personal aside from his Phantom of the Opera DVD. Which, he’d set aside to think about another time.
Seeing as now was the time to focus on his visitor. “You definitely do not disappoint, Niou-kun,” a small and almost inaudible laugh escaped, intermingling with his words. The words and laugh were genuine. It was a strange and foreign concept to him, but he decided: a gentleman will push aside the precarious. And so he did.
“At any rate, please make yourself comfortable,” he motioned to the room in a quick but well-mannered sweep. He then bent down towards a box centered between the closet and the door, pulling out two translucent bottles and handing one to the other, “My apologies, I hadn’t got the chance to chill them yet, but by all means…”
Niou’s eyes continued to move around the room, still analyzing as he stepped farther in. He noted everything on the bookshelf and his mind spoke the word ‘boring’. Apart from, that is, the Phantom of the Opera DVD. (He was tempted to say something about it. Quote a line or hum a few bars. But that would reveal far too much about himself). Niou’s bookshelf in his room was completely different. It was occupied with, for the most part, old text books and assigned reading books he never bothered to give back to his teachers over the years. This included two copies of Romeo and Juliet, a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, and three copies of Wuthering Heights (one of which was actually one he bought). Aside from those, he also had I, Lucifer (which was his favorite book by far), The Divine Comedy, The Odyssey, and The Iliad. He also had three copies of Phantom of the Opera. One was the original French version (Le Fantome de l'Opera), even though he didn’t know French. It was just there for the sake of being there. Another was the translated English version, which he could read, quite well, actually, and the last was the Japanese translated version (Opera Za no Kaijin). So much different than Yagyuu’s, that was for sure.
He flopped down, slouched in the chair at the desk. His left hand continued to mix up the cube while he accepted the drink with the other. He had to pause, if only for a short minute, so he could get the top off the bottle, but then he was back to mixing it up as he took a drink. “I never disappoint,” he said with a lazy grin that could have insinuated that his words held a second meaning to them. But he didn’t say anything else on that particular subject, and instead he put the lid back on the bottle and sat it on the desk. “So,” he tossed the cube up in the air and caught it again, still grinning. “Twenty-five seconds, tops. Y’think I can do it?”
Ignoring his insinuation (though he had lots to say), he placed his untouched drink on the counter as he spoke up, “I think your success depends on if you want to make this interesting.” Yagyuu’s eyes were unreadable as the sun reflected on his glasses in a peculiar fashion. Then without providing an explanation, he walked over and solemnly knelt down beside Niou to open the lowest compartment attached to his desk. He opened it swiftly, pulling out an object and just as quickly shutting it to avoid curious eyes. He held the object out towards Niou. “May I request you use mine instead?”
What he held was no other than a Rubik’s cube.
This was a curious ordeal considering he had once said that he was uninterested as he “lacked the fanaticism.” However, even if that were true, it did not mean he was completely unpracticed. But unlike Niou whom proficiently moved his hands around the cube with incomparable skill, Yagyuu lacked experience and it showed. Unlike Niou’s cube which moved with ease, Yagyuu’s was rigid and almost unyielding as the turns were made difficult seeing how it was virtually unused. Which was expected as Yagyuu had only sought out to solve it to teach his curious little sister (per her request) and naturally, he could also not afford to disappoint. Though, his sister gifting it to him prior to his departure was something unexpected, it definitely showed its use. He’d have to phone home sometime soon to thank her.
Niou’s eyes followed Yagyuu’s form the whole time, watching his every movement. And at the other’s words, his lips curved into his usual smirk. “Oh yeah?” He stared at the object in Yagyuu’s hand for a moment before breaking out in another grin. “Is this brand fuckin’ new?” He took it and turned it over in his hands, setting his old one aside. He turned the cube in his hands again before he started moving sections of it. It certainly felt brand fuckin’ new. It was just a good thing Niou had practice with new ones. He nearly bought himself a new one every week, after all. That might’ve been exaggerating a bit, but hell, he seemed to collect the damn things. They were everywhere in his room. Stacked in the closet, on his bookshelf, scattered about his desk and his bedside table. He had a Rubik’s cube alarm clock, even. And as he shifted, slouching farther in the chair while still moving the sections of the cube, you could see that he had a miniature one attached to his belt-loop. He carried it everywhere with him.
He looked over the cube a little longer before he started to mix it up in rapid movements. It didn’t move quite as easily as his did, which he expected. But it was a feeling he was used to whenever he had to break in his new cubes. After a moment, he glanced up at Yagyuu, his hands slowing down a bit but not completely stopping. “You gotta timer?”
Despite his tactic failing, Yagyuu could not deny that he was pleased with that result. After all, if the players weren’t to this level, one could hardly call it a challenge.
“I do,” he said as he took out his cellular phone, pressing the buttons with practiced ease. Once he had opened the stopwatch application, he set it down in front of Niou. Seeing his visitor fiddle with his cube, Yagyuu couldn’t help but smile; it was almost an endearing prospect. He not only appeared immersed with it, but from Yagyuu’s perception Niou seemed to fully attain a certain amount of pleasure from it. Something Yagyuu lacked with most activities and perhaps something he was an eminent seeker of.
“Do you think you could manage to complete it in less than 25 seconds on mine?” His words were composed and collected. And most importantly: they successfully broke his own chain of thought for which he was amply grateful for.
He looked down at the phone for a second, finished mixing up the cube, then took a deep breath. He turned it around in circles, going through several algorithms and patterns in his mind. This is how they did it competitions. This was now Niou taught himself how to do it. He’d spent hours on end, going late into the night and early into the morning practicing and practicing. It took years for him to get this good.
After several moments of examining the cube, he nodded, sat up a little straighter, and set the cube down in front of him, just like they did in competitions. He took another deep breath, and in the same second, hit the start button on the phone and picked up the cube. His long, nimble fingers moved rapidly, the sections of the cube clicking as he moved them. It was coming together quite nicely, and the expression on his face was one of concentration and seriousness. This might be the only thing he was serious about. And then, almost suddenly, it seemed like, the last click sounded and everything was in place. He nearly slammed the thing down, as he always did when he was timing himself, and hit the stop button at the s.ame time. He picked up the phone to examine it, and broke into a wide, smug grin.
He held it up for Yagyuu to see. 24.27 seconds, the screen read.
“Excellent, truly beyond my expectations, Niou-kun,” he spoke slowly and sincerely.
It was impressive to say in the least. Not only the fact that Niou could complete such a feat but the fact that he, despite his character, could deliberately bring out such intense concentration. But, perhaps more than those two factors, what made it impressive was: passion.
It was both a familiar and unfamiliar word to Yagyuu. And though, he may put on a performance as if he’d felt that emotion before (though he swears he’d done fairly enough to investigate its origins), he knew very well an act is an act and cannot be mixed with reality. At least not his reality, no matter how good of an actor he was. He had to frown at this notion and wasn’t sure if it became too apparent of a feature on his face.
Niou tilted his head, his golden eyes twinkling with what looked like excitement. “Did you really doubt that I could do it? You really thought I would run my mouth with no proof to back it up?” He just grinned and sat the phone back down on the desk. “I can do it faster with this one.” He picked up his cube and turned it in his hands. The colored squares were fading and there were visible scratches on it. It was obvious that it was used often. “But she moves easier. She was like, my first Rubik’s cube ever. She’s fragile and old.” He spoke about the cube like a teenage boy would speak about their car. With pride, joy, and love.
He leaned back in the chair again, slouching down slightly, and sipped on the tea. “I can do it blind folded, too,” he said, grinning wide. “But it takes longer, because I have to memorize every single algorithm there is for the damn thing before I can put the blind-fold on. I also half four by four ones and five by five ones in my room.” He paused for a short second. “And an eight by eight. I also have one that’s clear and it has flashing lights on the inside.”
Yagyuu, at this point could not deny many things to himself. Not the fact that he was envious of Niou’s passion. Not even the fact he was overwhelmed by seeing it and definitely not the fact that he was actually, to some degree: touched by the entire notion.
Niou Masaharu was proving Yagyuu’s preliminary invitation to have been the “right” choice. Though, he initially knew he had a vague interest, he did not predict that it would grow to this extent. Nor could he have predicted that he had no known method of stunting its development. It was unusual as it almost felt as if something was swelling; something in the curvature of his chest – in between his ribs somewhere, maybe it was his heart; but Yagyuu despite having no visible weaknesses and claiming proficiency in most subjects: couldn’t tell.
And a large part of him due to the presence of his mask, also couldn’t deny that he didn’t really want to know. And he definitely didn’t want his desire to become any more present, especially not in front of Niou, whom Yagyuu had almost felt was almost too perceptive.
“It's not that I thought you couldn’t, but rather that people tend to fail on the application or practice or of their words. However, you’ve proved me wrong,” he nodded politely in his speech, his lips slowly unfurling into a smile at the end where silence filled the gap of his period. His smile almost came off as reassuring (mostly for his own sake as his mind was rather disorderly at this time). “Your Rubik’s cube looks reliable. I suppose things with age do have some sort of sentimental value…”
“You must show me the rest your collection sometime. It sounds as it if would be a good experience. I’ve, by no account, found myself being too fond of collecting anything. Hence, my room is rather bare,” part of what he said however was a lie, for he could not deny having a collection of psychological thriller novels and murder mysteries in a wrapped box in his closet. But he wouldn’t let that be known. His Phantom of the Opera DVD was already enough information on his private life as it stood.
When Yagyuu smiled, small and reassuring, Niou grinned back, but it was lazy and slow, and very, very amused. “I tend to do that a lot,” he drawled, “prove people wrong. They underestimate me.” He sat his cube down on the desk again, right by the new one, as if to compare the differences. He stared at them for a minute before looking back at Yagyuu. “It’s a pretty extensive collection, dude. I have tons of ‘em. I even have this one with me right now.” He reached under the hem of his shirt to un-clip the small Rubik’s cube from his belt loop. “This one goes everywhere with me.”
At Yagyuu’s last words his eyes traveled nonchalantly around the room again, pausing briefly on the DVD that was sitting on the shelf. Again, he was tempted to speak up. To say something about how he, too, had the DVD, and three different copies of the book, and how he had all the songs memorized, and even though he couldn’t sing to save his life, he’d still sing them in the shower.
Alright, maybe not the last part, but still. He wanted to say something about it. But that was giving himself away. Even the books on his shelf were tucked safely away behind stacks of Rubik’s cubes and text books. Like anyone would suspect that someone like Niou Masaharu liked musicals and operas. And like he’d be willing to ruin his snarky, jerky, bad ass facade by telling anybody. So instead, he tore his gaze away from the shelf to look at Yagyuu again. “I could totally show you sometime. I need to re-time myself with my four by fours and five by fives anyway.”
Seeing the keychain, Yagyuu released a bit of a chuckle, it was comical in a way that he couldn’t quite understand himself. All he knew was the entire notion was amusing, even imagining Niou solving the little thing. “You have my gratitude, Niou-kun. Hearing you say all this makes me curious as to what other Rubik’s related goods you’re holding stock. Not to mention, your time on the four by fours and five by fives must also be equally as impressive as what you’ve showed me today.”
Yagyuu witnessed the fact that Niou’s eyes had clearly traveled around his room (again) before he responded. Though it was a rather speedy action, it was an observable one. Additionally, he could analyze that by the way Niou’s pupils would flit from one corner of the room to another, it was fairly lucid that Niou was scrutinizing the general objects in his room. As expected from a man whom even Yagyuu would acknowledge as being a perceptive individual. But naturally he would not let himself fall behind.
Seeing that Niou’s eyes paused for several seconds on something fixed on his shelves, he curiously tried to pick out what it was. Obviously, it wouldn’t be the textbooks; they were rather bland and incredibly dry (even to him). Nor would it be the collection of essays by scholars (whose names he really could care less for) as they weren’t any better in terms of “pleasurable stimulation”. Thus, he limited it down to one of the only personal items he set out there – the DVD. The same DVD he’d always seem to go back to and strangely enough a DVD that Niou Masaharu himself seemed to have vested interest in.
Walking to the shelf, Yagyuu gingerly touched the spine as he slipped it out from between the crevice of his old Japanese literary books. “Is this what was catching your interest, Niou-kun?” He held the Phantom of the Opera DVD with a sort of smirk on his face, once again, his eyes unreadable. “I wasn’t aware you were interested in musicals or operas.”
“They are,” Niou replied confidently. Something like this was the only thing he was confident in. Well, that, and his talent of changing himself into a completely different person. “It takes longer, obviously, because the algorithms are completely different. My time on those are closer to forty seconds. And then I have those fuckin’ irregular ones that take me minutes, or even hours to do, because they’re ridiculously hard.” He rolled his eyes a little, but the smirk still stayed on his lips. As he talked, he was solving the keychain slowly. It wasn’t for time, or even for show. Fiddling with the keychain and solving it was something that had became a bit of a habit for him. He often did it unconsciously, without realizing it.
He watched Yagyuu walk to the shelf and slip the DVD out. The smirk stayed on his lips, but his eyes flickered once. Damn. He’d been caught. He’d revealed more about himself than he intended. But at the same time, he found it interesting. Yagyuu had noticed. Even though he was discreet about it, Yagyuu had noticed, and that was more than anyone else had ever done. There was more to Yagyuu than Niou had first thought. More than the seemingly polite, boring person he appeared to be. And it bugged him that he didn’t know what it was.
He’d just found his new project. His new ‘game’. Finding out who Yagyuu Hiroshi really was.
The smirk and the last sentence that Yagyuu spoke almost felt like a jab. A taunt because he had lost. Yagyuu had saw through him, to an extent. But instead of denying it, or telling Yagyuu he was imagining things, he just relaxed farther against the chair and said, “Gerard Butler has an amazin’ fuckin’ voice, doesn’t he?”
“Sounds tough, but I presume it wouldn’t catch half your interest if it was any less challenging,” the same smirk remained on his lips as he casually set out his words. He was still holding the DVD loose between his fingers as he placed both his hand and the DVD on the desk in front of Niou. As if to say, ‘here, I won,’ but naturally as a self-proclaimed gentleman (and often a title he gained from others in return to his well projected image) – he kept silent. He’d hope actions spoke louder than words. Also, he couldn’t help but to feel as if this was retribution for Niou smoothly detouring over his Rubik’s cube trap. He didn’t normally keep score, but he couldn’t deny it plagued some part of his mind.
“I agree, initially his skill had somewhat surprised me,” another small laugh came, hooking onto his words and traveling with them into the air, “honestly, all these people going over and about my expectations.” He said this as if to say, ‘you as well, Niou-kun,’ but once again, he kept silent this regard.
“Though, I had not pegged you as the type, perhaps I now have the freedom to re-analyze my thoughts of you,” he smiled, yes, Yagyuu Hiroshi would have to re-analyze and he’d have to find out, in turn – whom the real Niou Masaharu was. Conceivably, he could regard it as a challenge.
He wondered who would get the other figured out first. And even though Yagyuu was generally full of confidence when it came to impersonations, he found himself in a dubious situation. Under his breath almost inaudible to the human ear, he said directing it to no one in particular ‘I truly wonder who will win.” He said it in a way that solidified the challenge presented (mostly to himself) and in doing so reconfirming his new “objective,” perhaps one he could afford to be passionate about.
“I’m always up for a good challenge,” Niou replied, although he wasn’t talking about Rubik’s cubes anymore. He was talking about Yagyuu. Yagyuu, on his own, was a challenge. A great challenge that Niou was willing to accept and overcome. He knew he would win this war, even if he lost battles along the way. Because not once in his seventeen years of living had he met somebody who he wasn’t able to see through and figure out. He would figure out the puzzle that was Yagyuu Hiroshi. Niou liked puzzles, after all. He was good at them.
Niou was willing to admit that Yagyuu won. That time, anyway. In the long run, he’d lose. Just like everybody else that crossed Niou’s path. And Niou had something, now. He had a hook. A start. And a good start, at that. Although, Yagyuu had the same start with him. They both knew something about each other that the other hadn’t exactly intended for them to know. And it was the same thing. They were on even ground.
Niou just shrugged and smirked a little. “You’ll find out soon enough, Yeahgyuu~,” he stretched and distorted the name again, and his smirk slowly shifted to a grin. “I’m just full of surprises.” He stood up and reached out towards Yagyuu, totally evading any sense of personal space anyone had ever had, and slipped his fingers under his hair line and behind his ear. When he pulled back, he held a small piece of paper in his hand. It had his name scrawled on it and a number under it. “You should call me sometime.” He slipped the piece of paper in the front pocket of Yagyuu’s jeans, retrieved his drink and Rubik’s cube from the desk, and slipped out the door, tossing a casual, “see ya later,” over his shoulder.
The contact was immediate, swift and closer than he was accustomed to. It was also, inevitably the warning siren for trouble, but for some reason Yagyuu couldn’t help but smile. This meeting was the response to his everlasting question: “how much longer would these uneventful, monotonous and incredibly unexciting days continue to carry on?” The answer, at this point in time was: they wouldn’t carry on, they’d end here. They’d end with the name: Niou Masaharu and somehow Yagyuu liked the sound of that.
Hearing the door come to a natural close, he slipped his glasses off, folding the corners of them inwards in one hand and placing them on the counter. He then reached into his jeans, pulling out the slit of paper and giving it a hard stare. After internalizing the number, he ripped it up into tiny shreds as if ridding himself of evidence as he scattered them into his empty rubbish bin. While watching the pieces float towards the bottom of the trash, he smirked, deviously, “let’s make this interesting, Niou-kun,” and the gentleman’s smile was nowhere to be found.