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little love songs

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Shin would give Renji his notes - half-written, sometimes crumpled, always scrawled - and Renji knew the importance of privacy, but would always end up looking them over in the staffroom. It wasn't as if he was often bothered in there, after all; if he was looking anything over, then the natural assumption was that he was looking over a pupil's work and, really, it wasn't as if that wasn't the case...

Megumi would visit, pressing her hands to the back of his chair and leaning over his shoulder. "Whatcha lookin' at?" (and he'd startle, wrapped up in a rhyme or a metaphor, pressing the paper down moments too late.)

"Oh, just--... just some... some work..."

She'd lean over further, pressing fingers against the paper and leaning in closer as she made to try to wrest the obscured words from his grasp. "Looks rather scruffy to be someone's work, you should really give them a lecture about that...! Enami-sensei~."

"It belongs to Nishimura, okay?"

and he'd feel her freeze against him, and stand up and away and dust herself down, "... I see."

He didn't mean to use it as a weapon and she didn't mean to feel so wounded by it, but it was so difficult not to. So difficult not to, thinking to herself in those moments who would blame me?! Who, at all, would blame me? And it was Renji's failure, and her failure, and that Nishimura's fault and everything else. Because Renji knew Shin outside of school, because--... because that doesn't make it any better--! That just makes it worse...!

If nothing else, Shin trusted Renji as the elder musician, even if his own skills had sat with the keyboard rather than the actual lyrics. Gave him those papers with a dismissive sort of an air, with words that implied he sort of wondered what Renji thought, but it didn't matter, whatever, whatever. But Renji could see it in the way he didn't dare make eye contact, in the way he could be fearfully direct but for when it came to this. Everything else was something that Shin could cover up with a mask or a charade but when it came to his lyrics, his songs, he didn't want to hide anything. Beauty in truth and truth in beauty, typical teenage behaviour.

The lyrics were, really, only one part of it. Renji would read the words over, knowing that. There would be notes to indicate the melody, but nobody really knew that until Shin himself put the two together. There were the lyrics and there was the tune but also was Shin's voice, and that was the part so entirely separate from anything on the page to the extent that Renji wasn't quite sure if it helped anybody at all for him to be reading those words in the first place. He could advise a change here or a correction there, but sometimes he felt he knew only about as much of this as Shin did or could, if that. For all that he maintained a cool facade in his day-to-day life, his lyrics dripped with haphazard teenage passion; perhaps it could be overblown at times, but what teenage emotion wasn't? Renji wasn't about to try to tell Shin the right or wrong way to feel things. Even as a teacher, Renji knew he had no authority there. Shin simply wrote what he felt as he felt it, and if the reactions of the crowds at the Live House were anything to go by, this method served him perfectly well. Renji saw no cause to try to change it.

Renji was at the Live House most weekends anyway, but he always made the effort to be there when Shin - and Synchro - were there performing. He'd make sure to keep to the back and in the shadows, away from where Shin's adoring crowd might be distracted by Enami-sensei--! being present. He'd stand and listen to those words come to life, feel the combination of the music and the words and Shin's voice bring everything together.

He'd invite Megumi, sometimes. She always refused. He knew why and knew that she knew that as much as he did, but never made a point of it. Just invited her, now and again. In case she wanted to hear him sing. "You'll regret it when he's popular and sold out everywhere!" (He'd smile. She never would.)

Enami would wonder the source of Shin's material, sometimes. Never quite dared to ask. He knew the most likely answer to be that Jinguuji, and that was the one he knew he didn't really want to hear. And he knew it rather childish and selfish to be jealous, especially of someone in Shin's peer group--... or maybe that's exactly why, he'd think. Akihiro was as passionate as Shin was aloof, and there came a certain sort of charisma with that kind of behaviour. In an odd sort of a way, Renji trusted Akihiro; he trusted Akihiro to want only the best for Shin, and knew that the jealousy most likely stemmed from you're no part of that, no part of that at all. Akihiro held a rather open and vehement dislike towards Renji. Renji didn't blame him, not one bit.

It was dead-end desire that could go nowhere and was good for nobody, Renji knew that much. He liked to think that what was between him and Shin had the potential to remain there, but for as long as Akihiro was in the picture he knew that was never going to be a realistic aim. Akihiro knew, and hated him for it. Megumi knew, and hated herself for not doing - or being able to do - anything about it. Such behaviour was, probably, what kept Tomoya from him, also. Such behaviour was what prevented him from settling down and he knew it was an excuse, but couldn't quite find it in himself to stop it. He would listen to every word, no doubt inspired by that Jinguuji, and imagine for a moment it was for him and hated that he'd entertain himself these whimsical and stupid flights of fancy. And he saw Megumi at the Live House, just the once. She didn't see him, and she was there with Hiro. Renji wouldn't have thought a thing of it, but for the way he took her hand and kept it there and-- oh. In those moments, it felt as if he was everything she'd ever said he was. Of course. Of course.

He'd meet up with Shin afterwards, at school, and he would smile (that rare thing) and offer a disk. "I thought you'd like it." Renji wasn't sure that it was like, exactly, but he accepted the gift all the same. Maybe Megumi would like to listen to it, later on. Maybe Hiro would. Maybe he'd listen to it, while spending the umpteenth hour failing to press the button to call Tomoya, like usual. He'd look at the disk, still in its case, sat on the counter. Wonder how many of Seirei's students - Seirei's female students, undoubtedly - had Shin's voice as the background music to their lives. Times that they'd look back on, moved to memory by a note that reminded them of a song--.

Sometimes, he'd find Megumi on the school roof. Lying back, staring at the sky. He'd join her, wordlessly, remembering every similar time of their youth.

"You don't know how often I think that we shouldn't have come back here, Renji."

(He knew, though. And he agreed.)