Characters: Gekkou Hayate, Shiranui Genma, Hagane Kotetsu, Kamizuki Izumo, Mitarashi Anko, Yamashiro Aoba
Notes:Chapter nine, in which it is decided that Aoba is the man and Hayate was not cut out to be a monkey.
Disclaimer: Naruto is not our toy, although sometimes we wish it was. Almost everyone you meet here belongs to Masashi Kishimoto, we just borrow them, occasionally. Hayate’s parents, Gekkou Ken’ichirou and Gekkou Shizuka, belong to Haya Madison, and Genma’s mother, Shiranui Riza, is all Penbrydd’s fault.
Author’s Note: The song Genma’s singing in this chapter is "Devil’s Radio" by Robyn Hitchcock. On a linguistic note, a ‘molly’ has been a crossdressing male prostitute, since approximately 1730.
The Wryly Fantarding Q&A panel for Corybantic Dance is still located at wrylyfantarding. livejournal. com / 5948. html
Warnings: Violence, expletives, eventual yaoi (KoIzu, KoIzuRai (more funny than sexy), GenHaya).
Hayate was taken slightly aback by the number of people who had noticed his absence that week. Absences from school were a normal and unfortunately frequent thing for him, and few people besides his teachers ever seemed to notice, let alone comment on it. But today as he walked through the theatre to get to the green room, he found himself confronted with multiple people who all seemed genuinely concerned about his absence the previous day.
He was deliberately vague on the matter. Lying was almost out of the question — mostly because he was so terrible at it — but for some the simple answer of "I had to go to the doctor" (he figured he didn’t have to specify whose doctor) wasn’t enough. When they asked more questions, he just quickly excused himself and hurried on further toward the green room.
Anko was waiting for him there, and he approached her with a certain kind of dread filling his stomach. "And where the hell were you yesterday, huh?" she said, though her tone didn’t seem as demanding as it had been lately. Hayate was still apprehensive as he dropped his backpack on the floor.
"Um. I had to go to the doctor yesterday. Did I miss anything really important?"
Anko peered at him for a moment, and much to Hayate’s relief, she didn’t pursue the issue of his absence. "Same shit, different day, kid. Oh, but…" Her eyes glittered for a moment, and his stomach sank. Even in just a week, he’d come to learn what some of Anko’s many vibrant expressions meant for him. This one looked to be a fatality waiting to happen. This one usually meant she was about to have him do something crazy, stupid, and probably dangerous. He’d managed to avoid doing pretty much all of them so far, but he supposed his luck could only run so far.
"Some idiot launched the lead’s handbag up over the catwalks last night and it’s stuck there. I need you to go get it, kid." Hayate’s face fell as he watched her setting up the props table. "It’s up to you how you want to get it down," she went on, flippantly, "but the simplest way is probably with a really tall ladder, or maybe some creative pulley work…"
Genma traipsed out backstage, from the classroom, singing ‘Devil’s Radio’ at the top of his lungs. "Dahlin’, you don’t have to call me Stalin —" He kissed Kotetsu bruisingly, on the lips. "Or even Mao Tse Tung, ’cause I’m far too young!" He kissed Izumo, who did a slightly better job of dodging, and only took it on the cheek. He continued to sing and twirl as he made his way toward the green room. "My rising sign is Capricorn, is that surprising?" Stepping into the green room, Genma swept Hayate off his feet, eliciting a short, strangled yelp of surprise from him, and spun the kid around. "You know that I was born so very soft and easy going. I make no trouble at all!" He smirked at Anko and ruffled Hayate’s hair. "Hey, kid. What’s Bitchzilla got you doing today?"
The glittering in Anko’s eyes hardened to something sharp-edged, and Hayate just sort of stared at Genma dumbly for a moment, as did Izumo and Kotetsu from outside the green room. Those two walked off, muttering to themselves about Genma’s disturbingly good mood.
"Um…" Hayate coughed, trying to regain what little composure he still possessed these days. "I guess yesterday someone’s prop bag thing got stuck in the catwalks, so…"
"Standard prop fag duty." Anko grinned at Genma dangerously. "What about you, Queen Molly? What are you up to?"
"Apparently, I’ll be holding the A-frame, Bitchzilla. Can’t let you damage my goods." Genma snapped his teeth at Anko.
From outside the green room, Kotetsu’s voice could be heard, raised in loud protest. "I don’t care about Genma’s dick! The important thing here is my dick, and why you’re not —" A series of thumps could be heard. "Ow! Shit! Ow! Dammit! Izumoooo…" Kotetsu trailed off into a whine and the thumping died down. Hayate cringed slightly and looked up at Genma.
"Um, Genma, do you think you might be able to help me get the bag down? I don’t know if I can do it by myself." He cast an uncertain glance at Anko. She didn’t look pleased. "Um. If you have the time. You’re probably busy, so…"
"That’s what I just signed on for, kid." Genma’s eyes never left Anko. "I’ll be stabilising the A-frame while you play fetch. Come on and we’ll do this thing."
"Oh. Right. The A-frame," Hayate said dumbly. He had only just learned what that was the other day from Aoba and he’d already forgotten. Jumping into the world of theatre tech, even when he was only working props, was definitely confusing business. He could feel Anko’s eyes on his back as he followed Genma out of the green room. She was clearly irritated that Genma had spoiled her entertainment.
Hayate squinted up at the catwalks, trying to spot the bag. "I just hope I can reach okay…well, we have to find it first…"
"Cake. Lemme go steal Aoba for a second so we can get the monstrosity out here and pitched. Then it’s just you and me. I’d let you help me, but I don’t want you getting hurt. We don’t really have time for this right now." Genma rested a hand on the kid’s shoulder, briefly, as he glanced around. "Stay right here. Just keep looking." He took off in the direction he’d just seen Aoba walk past.
"Aoba! I need to borrow you for a sec. Need the A-frame, lack a second set of hands."
"Yeah, I’m on it, man!" Aoba hustled over to Genma, adjusting his shades. "What’s up?"
"Bitchzilla wants the kid to go get something that’s stuck up in the lights, somewhere. I promised to help with the ladder. Is she trying to kill him?" Genma managed to force the anger back off his face almost as fast as it appeared. He propped the door of the costumes room open and grabbed the enormous ladder to back it down. Aoba worked on assisting him — he looked a little gangly, but four years of tech had really put some muscle in him. Together they lugged the ladder over to where Hayate was standing, pointing upward and squinting.
"What’s that, kid? See it?" Aoba grunted, and Hayate nodded slowly.
"Yeah…I think so. That looks like it."
Genma nodded and he and Aoba walked the ladder back up, standing it properly when it got close to full height. "Alright, kiddo. How this thing works. There are two ladders, here. The frame is twelve feet high. We can add another ten feet with the central column, and you’ll need almost all of it. Even locked down, the central wobbles, which is why I’ll climb the inside of the frame to hold it still for you. If it pulls away from me, jump. I don’t expect it; it never has, but, seriously, jump. If it pulls away, the whole ladder’s coming down — you on it, me in it — and I want to make sure you’re not going to get hit." He grinned at Aoba. "Thanks, man. I hate this fucking monstrosity."
Hayate looked more than a little nervous. "That really doesn’t look safe. Maybe we should find some other way or something, or ask Yamanaka…"
"What? Don’t be silly. I’d tell you to hold it for me, but I don’t think you’re tall enough or skilled enough to offset my weight properly. I’ve been doing this for years. I haven’t dropped anyone, yet, and I’m going to be extra careful that you’re not the first. Hell, I like you." Genma climbed up the unbraced ladder to feed out the second stage, locking it in place before climbing back down. He caught Hayate’s eyes and looked into them. "I’m not going to let you fall. I just have to give that warning. It was given to me and every other crew member who’s ever been up this thing. Standard procedure. I’m really not going to let you fall."
Hayate still looked fairly apprehensive as he approached the ladder, swallowing. "Okay…" Like climbing a tree. It’s just like climbing a tree. Except the tree might fall over and maybe kill you. He shook that thought out of his head. Genma wasn’t going to let him get hurt, much less die. He stepped onto the ladder carefully, holding on with a death grip. Genma scrambled up the inside of the ladder like a spider monkey, determined to be in place like he should have been before the kid had gotten started. Hayate climbed up slowly, rung by rung, eyes fixed on the bag stuck in the catwalks.
Genma braced himself against the inside of the ladder, carefully offsetting the kid’s weight, trying to keep the second stage straight. He fell into a meditative state, breathing cautiously, aware of the balance of his entire body and the weight above him. As he stared down at the stage, Anko walked under the ladder, staring up at him.
"Hey, there, Queen Molly. If I knew you’d be doing this, I’d have told costumes to put you in a skirt. The view’s great from down here," she taunted. "I wonder what would happen if I…" Anko reached for one leg of the ladder.
"The kid would be dead, but I’d be in the hospital. And Raidou would kill you. In the most literal and unpleasant possible way." Genma grimaced as sweat rolled down his face and dripped to the stage below. Getting close to the lights when any of them were on was a rather warm experience. "Don’t fuck with me, today, Anko."
"You’re really fucking boring, you know that?" Anko shook her head and headed off stage. "And hurry up with that, already. I don’t have all night."
Aoba sighed in terse relief, swallowing uncomfortably. "She is seriously out of her fucking mind," he muttered, keeping the ladder steady on the bottom. Hayate, a little less than halfway up the ladder now, made the mistake of glancing back down at the sound of people talking below him. He shuddered briefly but braced himself, biting the inside of his cheek for a moment.
"U-um — is everything okay?" he asked uncertainly. He really didn’t want this ladder to fall.
"It’s fine, kid. Please just move. I’m not Rai — I can hold you up, but you need to get your ass in gear." Genma studied the stage below him, looking for the slightly darker spots where his sweat was striking. "Man, how did we fail so badly to talk Rai into the department? Two of us made it…"
"Football practices, man," Aoba grunted. "Freaking brutal. Raidou’s a pretty tough guy, but I sure wouldn’t want to do this after the daily football practice. I’m just lucky that track doesn’t meet every day."
Hayate worked on trying to get up the ladder faster, still nervous that he’d slip. He finally reached the top, feeling his heart jump into his throat as he no longer had a full length of ladder to rest his body against. Grabbing the top of the ladder tightly with one hand, he reached for the bag hanging off the catwalk. His fingers closed around the cloth — finally, yes, okay — but when it didn’t come away right away, he felt a surge of alarm. Was it snagged? He tugged a little harder and felt it come away with a small ripping sound. He cringed but tried not to think about it. "Umm, I got it," he called down, a little shakily, and started back down the ladder.
Genma crouched statue-still, the sweat now drizzling rather than dripping from his face, shirt wetly stuck to his back. "Great." He was seriously not cut out for this shit. Climbing was all well and good, but bracing someone who moved as slowly and unsteadily as Hayate was just nerve-wracking. The semi-meditative state now included a hissed stream of curses with every breath, in and out. His arms burned and his back was starting to cramp from the bizarre position. Come on, you’ve fucked in tighter spaces than this. It’s not that bad. Just stay still a bit longer.
Hayate did his best to scramble down the ladder, his heart thudding in his ears from the sheer rush of being up so high, of being in that precarious position. His foot slipped on one of the lower rungs and he choked on his breath, grabbing at the ladder, but managed to catch himself at the cost of the handbag. It slipped from his hand, falling to land on the floor beside Aoba, and he let out a shuddering sigh. That was okay. That could be picked up after. He clambered down the rest of the ladder as quickly as he could, all but jumping off of it and staggering a few steps back, breathing a little bit deeply.
Genma wheezed with relief as Hayate stepped off the bottom of the ladder. Now he just had to get down from there. "Coming down!" Taking a deep breath, he pulled himself back over to one side of the ladder and scrambled down the inside face. When he hit the ground he turned and went right back up the proper way to let the second stage down. On the ground, again, he realised that he was damp everywhere he had skin. With a shudder, Genma wiped off his face with the bottom of his shirt.
"Thanks, man." He clapped Aoba on the shoulder as the other senior bent down to pick up the prop that had fallen by his feet. "Give me a sec and we’ll put the monstrosity back." Turning to face Hayate, he studied the kid for a moment. "You okay, kid?"
Hayate nodded, taking the handbag from Aoba. Studying it, his face fell slightly. "I ripped it a little," he said grimly. "It got snagged on the catwalk…"
Aoba glanced over his shoulder, frowning. "Ahh, shit. Hey, Genma? Before we put this thing away, do me a favour and grab my bag. If we’re lucky, I can fix this thing before Anko comes back over here."
"Yeah, I’m on it." Genma sprinted off and returned in a few seconds with a large, lumpy backpack. "What the fuck do you keep in this thing? You and your bitching about frosh bags, and still you keep more shit in this thing than God would know what to do with." He handed the bag over with a grin, and Aoba rolled his eyes.
"I don’t normally keep this much shit in here. I was cleaning out my locker today and forgot to bring an extra bag to stick shit in." Aoba shrugged and dug around in his backpack until he produced a compact sewing kit. "Let me see the bag, kiddo."
Hayate blinked at Aoba as he handed the prop over. "You carry sewing stuff with you? All the time?"
Aoba flashed him that goofy grin that he was so well known for. "The ladies love a man who’s always prepared."
"I will never understand why chicks dig this fool." Genma gestured exasperatedly at Aoba. "Cannot keep his mouth in check, looks like a complete dork in those glasses, but keeps a harem without effort. I have no idea why this works at all…I mean at least I look like candy, half the time, even if I am an asshole."
"I keep telling you, man." Aoba leaned against a row of seats with that grin still on his face, threading a needle. "It’s the Yamashiro Factor."
"Yeah, yeah. And I’ve actually gotta work my hot ass for what I get." A moderately wicked grin crept across Genma’s face. "What do we call what Rai’s got? Did you hear he made some cheerleader walk home, last weekend? Apparently, she grabbed his junk." He looked like the idea of anyone ever trying to grab Raidou’s crotch was the most ludicrous and wholly stupid thing that could be done.
"See, I only date the nice girls," Aoba said, shaking his head. "I mean, I know Raidou’s all…you know. Him. But he needs to stop dating the dumb bitches. Obviously he’s not going to get an ounce of respect out of any of them. I’m not surprised she tried that." He shook his head. Hayate seemed a bit awkward about this topic of conversation, glancing around idly before he spoke — but he did speak at all.
"I’d probably do the same thing," he said, quietly and half-muttered. "If I was Raidou, I mean."
"Oh, honey, I don’t blame him. They’re not nice girls, at all. I’d slap them." Somewhere in the last thirty seconds, Genma had kicked over into ultra-fag mode — the very thing that had earned him the handle ‘Queen Molly’. "Sometimes, I just want to set him up with a nice girl, but your exes are crazy and I don’t…ah…yeah. I try not to, anyway. I just want to back that boy into a wall and show him what kissing’s supposed to be like. Tell him he’ll know he’s found a good one if she can give me competition. That’s his complaint, you know. ‘Oh, I don’t want people touching and kissing me. That’s kind of gross. And not fun.’ Hmph. If I thought he’d ever forgive me, I’d show him fun, just on principle."
Aoba looked mildly squicked, shaking his head as he started stitching up the side of the handbag. "Man, don’t. Ever. He’d kill you if he really thought you ever seriously considered it, and I don’t want to clean you up after that mess."
"I don’t blame him, though. Um, Raidou." Hayate coughed and watched Aoba work. "It is kinda gross. Maybe it’s just not for everyone."
Genma stared at Hayate for a moment. "Okay, two things, in order. First, it’s not serious serious. I’m not into him or anything. Just a favour to a friend. Like you do, y’know? And I’m not going to do it, either. Not unless I’m really drunk, and he’s really whiny. Next, I can’t imagine not enjoying it! What’s so gross, kid? Explain this to me like you would to a retard, because that’s about my level of comprehension, here. I mean, I can see not liking it if it’s done badly, but usually it’s pretty good."
Hayate looked embarrassed, shaking his head. "It just is. I don’t know. Why is it important?"
"I hate being clueless. There are many things in the world that are completely foreign to me, and I’d like to at least…not be entirely stupid about them." Genma reached out and ruffled Hayate’s hair. "Don’t worry about it, kid. I’ll go pester Rai to explain it again, when I’m not drunk, this time." Oh, god help me. It now officially sucks to be me. Doesn’t like the idea of kissing and can’t even talk about it? Ouch.
Hayate wrinkled his nose and shook his hair out, letting it fall back the way it usually did — which, in all honesty, was a scruffy, messy sort of way. He had that constant look of having just rolled out of bed all over — messy hair, rumpled clothes, tired, near-dead look. Aoba just shook his head, continuing to sew up the side of the bag. "Nearly done stitching this thing up," he announced, grinning.
"Stitching what up?"
Hayate could have sworn that he jumped at the sound of Anko’s voice, dangerously tipped with that edge of utter insanity like always.
"Your prop. Take it out of the primadonna who threw that shit up there. It came down ripped." Genma wasn’t lying, but he was certainly implying an untruth. His back was to Anko as he looked sternly at Hayate, willing him not to challenge the statements. Hayate shifted uncomfortably as Anko stared at him from behind Genma, as Aoba started to knot the thread.
"Well?" she said expectantly. "Was it ripped when you came down?" She looked at Aoba sharply as the senior opened his mouth. "Not you. I asked the prop fag here."
Hayate nodded, though he still looked apprehensive. Technically that was the truth, even though Anko didn’t look like she really believed it. She took the bag from Aoba as soon as he’d finished it, inspecting it critically.
"Anko, say thank you to Aoba." Genma didn’t turn around — didn’t move at all. His voice was quiet, but clear. Anko rolled her eyes at Genma’s back.
"Thank you, Aoba," she said with saccharine sweetness. Aoba just shook his head and packed away his sewing kit, and Anko turned her attention back to Hayate. "Come on, kid. Back to the green room." Hayate nodded and shuffled past Genma for Anko, thanking both Genma and Aoba as he walked.
Genma nodded as the kid passed. "So maybe I push her a bit," he commented to Aoba. "Someone has to stop taking her shit. She’ll win here, but that can’t last. Blah, blah, flies, honey, vinegar. You know the drill." He stared after Hayate with a combination of suppressed lust, sadness, and concern. Aoba shook his head, standing up with his bag.
"Hey, the kid’ll be all right. You were right. He’s pretty tenacious." Aoba grimaced at the ladder. "Come on, let’s put the monstrosity away."
Genma nodded again, and set to work helping Aoba get the ladder back down. For some reason, he always wound up on the down side, walking the ladder down. After inspecting it for any new breaks — the old ones were all painted orange — he picked up his end of the ladder and led the way off the stage, still shaking off his concerns. Aoba was probably right — the kid was going to be fine.