Disclaimer: I do not own any Gravitation characters, they are the property of Maki Murikami, my best friend. Just Kidding. ::cough:: But she is what could only be described as one of the most talented and imaginative mangaka out there and one who created a series that most otaku love dearly. ::Hugs Ryuichi and Shuichi until the start squirming to get away:: With that being said, I hope she doesn't mind if I have taken some creative liberties with her characters, mainly paired Shuichi and Ryuichi in addition to Shuichi and Yuki. Although, creative liberties are what fanfiction is all about, so I guess I'll shut my cake hole and let you read the story, ne?

How Things Seemed, Chapt. 1 "The Date" By: Pocky Faery

Shuichi paced around the small table that he had requested, hidden among the shadows and lit by a single candle. The place was crowded, diners attacking their food with astonishing verbosity, yet Shuichi remained unnoticed in the shadows, his small, child-like face lined with flickering candlelight and his hair shuffling to one side as he tilted his head back and forth, trying to relieve the strain in his neck. It seemed like everything should have been so much easier than it really was, somehow, like maybe the Gods were out to get him and no matter what he did it would never appease them.

Sighing once more and glancing at his watch for what felt like the millionth time that evening, Shuichi silently prayed that time would go by faster. Their date wasn't supposed to begin until 8:00, but he somehow found himself arriving at the restaurant a whole hour early, making sure everything was done correctly, just the way Ryuichi liked it.

Ryuichi...the one bright star in all of his mourning. Since that fateful day in the park, that day that seemed a lifetime ago now, only two things had remained constant in his universe: Yuki's constant abuse, constant fighting, constant reminders that Shuichi was not welcome in his life followed by making up which always seemed to entail a new and different make-up sex scenario every time. That all had remained constant, and so had Ryuichi's unwavering devotion to his pink haired koohai. It made Shuichi smile to think of himself as Ryuichi's koohai, the comment could be interpreted many different ways if one had an active imagination.

And as Ryuichi's devotion had remained constant, so had Shuichi's love for the emerald-haired singer. It seemed that each time Yuki broke his heart, no matter what it was about, Ryuichi was always there to pick up the pieces. And once again, they found themselves drifting in this dance, this endless waltz that rewarded neither of them in the end, left neither of them with anything solid or tangible to hold on to.

Due to his lover's fame, the dimly lit table and hidden corner was necessary. And it seemed to be almost to the point that Shuichi's own fame intertwined with Ryuichi's, pulling even more unwanted attention to the couple. Of course, they would never publicly admit they were a couple...no, that had been his and Yuki's mistake to make, not his and Ryuichi's.

Finally giving up his endless orbit of the table, he collapsed limply into a chair and consulted his watch one more time.

7:40 p.m.

* * *

A chilled wind wound its way through the streets of Tokyo, tugging at Ryuichi's scarf and invading the crevices in his clothing like it was searching him out. Which, upon reflection, it probably was. He glanced quickly toward a rooftop that supported a clock, the clock that read 7:40 p.m. There were merely twenty minutes till he was to meet Shuichi, yet he couldn't force himself to leave his perch on the city bench.

All around him, people's voices mingled into an endless drone, unable to be separated from one to the next. He wondered briefly if any of their lives resembled his. A 30 year old pop star, in love with-no, desperately in love with-a 20 year old boy, one that he was forced to watch hurt himself over and over again, with no conceivable end. The days when he was the bouncy icon that littered magazines and TV with his grinning image seemed so far away, lost behind him along with the days before he knew what pain was.

Of course, he had had his share of love affairs, one-night stands, and the like. Both men and women seemed to want him, and he gladly gave himself to both. But it was always them that needed him, them that clung desperately to everything he had to offer. He would hold them, listen to their tears and their sorrows, but that was all it ever was. He remained strong while those around him failed...

And now he was failing. Could anyone truly imagine what it was like to be a mere substitute for someone else, night after night his bed was empty while Shuichi's warm body curled into Yuki's; what it was like to open the door on any odd day and find himself staring into violet eyes, shimmering with unshed tears; what it was like to open the door the next day, or the day after, or a week later, to find himself staring into yellow eyes that glittered happily and hands that clutched a bouquet of flowers, lips that formed the same apology over and over again; what it was like to see the back of Shuichi's head as he left with Yuki? How could anyone know what that felt like?

Only he could, out of everyone in the crowded little city. Only Ryuichi. And today was an 'on' day, Shuichi's little overnight bag parked next to Ryuichi's couch, his fuzzy house shoes poking out from under Ryuichi's bed.

How long could this possibly continue before one or both of them eventually lost it?

* * *

Shuichi downed his third drink in ten minutes, normally it would have been his alcoholic beverage of choice, martini, but Ryuichi always hated it when he drank liquor. Upon reflection, he mused, it was probably not so much the liquor but the fact that it seemed to suggest that Shuichi was not content with Ryuichi. And he was, he really was...

But he was so much more content with Eiri.

The singer shook himself and signaled the waitress again, it was still only 7:45 and the hands of the clock were doing a great imitation of molasses.

She smiled at him, the mindless Tokyoite teenage girl smile. "Let me guess, Shindou-san. Another lemon aide?"

He nodded and forced himself to grin. After signing an autograph for her earlier, he had made himself at least be civil to her, a fan. "Sure thing, Mirai-chan."

His use of the honorific made her blush and she nearly dropped her pad in an effort not to look too happy. "Will that be all?"

Shuichi merely nodded and slumped his head down on the table. There was, after all, a limit to how civil one could be in an entire day. When she came back and refilled his drink, he sipped it slowly, already realizing the foolhardiness of ordering all those drinks. He hadn't enough time to use the restroom before Ryuichi would arrive, and excusing himself first thing was not the polite thing to do.

He sighed. One would think, after so long, after all they had been through, he and Ryuichi would lose the pressing need for politeness, the constant 'thank you's' and 'no thank you's' that seemed to underline every conversation, but he couldn't bring himself to permit such freedoms.

Perhaps that had led to the end of Yuki's toleration with him. Perhaps...

It seemed that everything always led back to Eiri for him. Why couldn't he accept that this time, he and Ryuichi were for real? Nothing had changed, and yet so much was different.

There would be no running back to Yuki Eiri, not for him, not for anyone, not ever.

* * *

It wasn't until Ryuichi realized that he could no longer feel his fingers that he decided to leave his solace and safety behind and venture into what the evening had to offer. No matter how much he wanted to see his Shindou- kun, things had not been the same between them since-

Well, since it had happened. What he had been, with his face on all the magazines and such youthful creative energy surging through his veins came nowhere near to comparing with what Shuichi had been, his talent vastly outshining Ryuichi's own. When Shuichi got up on a stage, people stopped what they were doing to listen. And when there was nothing more to listen to, at the end of a show, there was no applause.

And that's what separated Ryuichi from his koohai. Shindou-kun's audiences were so enthralled that for a moment after his performances, there was an awed silence before people realized they should applaud. Ryuichi inspired some fiery responses, but that awed silence belonged to Shuichi alone. Or at least, it had.

Brushing a strand of hair off of his face and on the way catching a single tear, he turned up the street that led to the Moonbeam, where Shuichi waited on him.

What had been Shuichi, the greatest pop star in Tokyo, was no longer a bouncy, chibi-like performer with enough energy for ten bouncy chibi-like performers. He hadn't even been to the studio in months. What he needed was either a good lay or a good psychiatrist, and seeing as he had already received the first from Ryuichi, he clearly needed the second.

And besides, in the last few weeks, he wasn't good for much besides cuddling...

Ryuichi smiled to himself sadly and reached for the door handle outside the Moonbeam.

* * *

With one last desperate glance toward the door, making sure Ryuichi wasn't coming, Shuichi gave up and ran for the bathroom.

The inside of the restroom as relatively quiet, the gentle pastel colors and paintings a testament to the up-scale tone of the restaurant. His...business...having been completed, Shuichi opened the stall door and padded across the carpeted floor to the sink. He bent over, resting his elbows on the tile and staring at himself in the mirror.

"When did you become this, old buddy? There was something out there waiting on you, something great..."

A single tear slipped down his cheek, then another, and still his expression, unwavering, was one of utter defeat. He reached for the glass that separated him from his reflection and traced its cool surface, running his finger along the image of each tear-streak. The silence hugged him, suffocating and he started humming to himself softly, slowly.

"Mayoi...aruku, machi no kagayakiwa, Glaring one Way kogo e souna, boki o terasu..."

The Glaring Dream, the dream that drove him since he was in Jr. High to achieve, the reach for higher things then just him or his friends, he wanted to reach Japan, touch stranger's hearts, and to fly on the wings of what he thought was just beautiful music. And he had, it seemed, reached the people. Or at least, the tall, handsome stranger that stood, outlined in shadows that day in the park.

On that night, he still possessed the innocence he was now lacking, he struggled with such childish conflict.

Yuki had at first been harsh, denouncing him as nothing, as worse then useless. Shuichi sometimes felt that if he hadn't met Yuki that night, someone else would have told him that but what would it have led to? With no passionate romance, no stolen kisses in apartment building elevators, no visits to amusement parks, no...

Heartache.

The Glaring Dream was the dream that he had led to its end that night in New York City, when Yuki had been close to killing himself.

As he stood in the bathroom contemplating all that had transpired between Yuki's original pronouncemt of the song and it's completion, it occurred to him that there would be no more songs.

"DAMN you, you bastard! You convinced me I could become more then I could know and then you left me! You abandoned me!"

The duo of tears that graced his cheeks became a waterfall as more and more fell until he grew frustrated with his weakness. In one instant, he slammed one fist into the mirror, sending a shower of glass around him, onto the floor and into his hair.

At first the reality was all he saw, but before he could think, the pain began, throbbing in his left hand as his fingers dripped blood from a thousand tiny wounds.

He sank to the floor in a defeated heap and wiped the blood on his pants. Shuichi hugged his knees to his chest and laid his head on his right arm, trying not to scream. The last thing he needed was that waitress and her lemon aide to find him in this state.

"Yuki...Yuki...Is there nothing that we left untouched? Can I really be alone here without you, without my music, without...that horrible smirk on your face driving me harder and harder towards my goal! Can I even accept that you have damned me? I will never hold you as close as I once did, I will never whisper to you in the night, never again..."

* * *

As Ryuichi found his hand gracing the handle to the Moonbeam, he paused for a moment to check his reflection in the glass. It was silly, truly, an old habit he wasn't in the mood to break at the moment, but he wanted to make himself at least presentable for Shuichi.

Would it never end? You'd think that with Yuki out of the way, Sakano could have had Shindou all to himself, but still, he insisted on making him chase him like a teenage girl. The things one would do for love, ne? He smiled quietly at the thought of himself being comparable to a teenage anything anymore. Laughing softly and trying not to attract too much attention to his presence, he made his way to the table in the corner that had always been their own. Even back before all this tension exploded between them, when they could simply enjoy each other's presence the way friend's were meant to, this dimly lit table had been the backdrop for many of their conversations.

He made it to the table without being stopped by any fans except one ("Hey, aren't you Sakano Ryuichi?!?!" "Iie, gomen nasai, you must be mistaken." "Oh of course sir,") he caught sight of the table even through the dim interior of the restaurant, noting that Shuichi was nowhere in sight.

"What has he gone and gotten himself into now?" the singer muttered to himself. "Excuse me," he said, signaling a passing waitress.

"Yes?" she said, looking at him and blinking. "Oh, Sakano-san, you must be here to see Shindou-kun."

He nodded. "That's right."

"He made a trip to the restroom, I'm afraid. Before you arrived he had several lemon aides and they must have caught up with him."

Thanking her and saying he would be right back to order, he turned and headed for the bathroom to find his young lover. Pushing the door aside and preparing to see Shuichi, he put a smile on and tried to sound happy. "Shuichi-kun, na no-"

But what he was saying was abruptly cut off when he saw his lover crumpled in a ball on the floor, blood leaking from his clenched fist and tears drying on his cheek.

"Kami-san, Shuichi-kun.what happened.?" His voice trailed off as he made his way across the floor. Every step he took made a horrendous crunching noise, broken glass splintering more beneath his feet. The shards littered the floor, glimmering and shining in the Hollywood-style lights over the sink. A drab gray wall stared back at him from where the mirror used to be.

Shuichi's eyes opened slowly and he looked up at Ryuichi with a drowsy stare. "Ryuichi-san." he whispered, barely heard over the din of the restaurant.

Ryuichi moved closer to him, never breaking their gaze but checking to see if the wound had stopped bleeding. "Aishiteru, my Shindou-kun."

"Yuki." The singer said below his breath. "Yuki's never coming back."

END CHAPT. 1