On the Outside
by Kira (kirabop@hotmail.com)

Author's Notes: A completely spur of the moment multi-parter fic idea I decided it was better go with than ignore. As a fore-warning, I only saw the anime, and read a few translations of the manga, so some things I make up as I go along. *sweatdrop* Which I hate doing, but... ah well.

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Chapter One

When Eiri informed Shuuichi that I would be coming to stay for a few weeks, the conversation went something like this.

"My brother is coming."

"Eh? Tatsuha-san?"

"Aa."

"He's coming?"

"Aa."

"Why?"

Shrug.

"For how long?"

Shrug.

"... he's really coming?"

"Aa."

And that was that. Let me tell you, the one thing Shuuichi was most concerned about was likely whether or not he'd be able to get my brother into bed while I was there. Okay, and maybe he was a little worried considering the first time we met, I tried to molest him. Tried being the operative word there. Even back then, Eiri would have torn off my head if I'd gotten any further.

Right. Back then. Hard to believe that my royal prick of a brother (I say this in the utmost endearment, I love my brother -- really) would stick with one person for so long. Mika didn't understand it for a long time, but I think she's finally given in to the fact that Shuuichi is going no where, and maybe, just maybe, Eiri is happy like that. We're still not sure about that one and likely won't ever be.

It's more a matter that Eiri has stayed with him this long that's amazing, than the fact he's living and sleeping with (quite often, I'm unfortunately told) another guy. The Uesugi boys have this little thing I like to call the 'slut gene.' Before Shuuichi, Eiri had maybe a new girlfriend every week. The kicker is he was the most charming guy in the world with them. He can be obnoxious like that. So he'd wine and dine them, pretend to be one of the shmucks he writes about in his books, and before the day was up would have a girl in his bed. Then on to the next one.

I've got the gene too, but I can say honestly I've never taken it as far as Eiri. I'm just a terrible womanizer. I'll have ten, fifteen girlfriends at any time, about five of those in my school, five in another school, and five across the country.

See, the Uesugi slut gene can also be accounted to the fact we guys just get bored very easily. It takes a special person to be able to hold our interest. And when life gets boring and repetitive enough that we can't take it anymore, we go looking for something new.

Eiri found Shuuichi. I developed a somewhat healthy obsession with Sakuma Ryuuichi.

It's funny. I really don't consider myself a person that's attracted to guys. I've never dated another guy. I've thought about it sometimes, but nobody's ever really caught my interest like that. I can pass some random guy on the street and think hey, he's pretty good-looking, but I'm not gonna chase after him and try to get his number or anything. Sakuma Ryuuichi is just... different.

And absolutely and utterly insane, but where would the fun in life be without that?

It's not that shallow of an attraction either. Sure, he's good-looking and all, but I at least know what the guy is like the rest of the time. People think with the way I spazz out at seeing him on TV or whatever that I'd just die at the chance to meet him, but I already have. Come on. My sister is married to his former band mate and the president of NG Records. You'd think there'd be a few encounters, wouldn't you?

But I spent most of those encounters tongue-tied. Aside from the one time I got a little drunk and decided to pretend like I was dying. Low blow, but it got me some 'quality time' with my god.

Pause for the obligatory drooling.

Anyway. Staying with Eiri wasn't my bright idea. Far from it. The whole thing was fabricated by my old man. Something about maybe spending time with an obedient family member might teach Eiri a few things. Scratch that. Mika made up that bull story. And he bought it, of course. Mika has a way of swaying men to do what she wants, as long as they're not Eiri or her husband.

The truth is I hate it at home. It's boring as hell. Wake up, go to school, come home, do my duties around the temple -- that's right, I'm a monk. A sixteen-year-old monk. Not by choice, mind you. It's the family way.

Let me explain this a bit. Not doing what your family expects of you in the Uesugi clan is grounds for disowning. Now, Eiri was on his way to being the next temple priest and all, but then Touma up and whisks him off to New York when he was sixteen. When he came back he was a completely different person, for reasons no one has yet to inform me of (I asked Mika once, and she told me to drop it in this very scary voice -- so I did). He also came back with it in his head he was going to be a writer and to hell with the family expectations and temple.

But look, there's little Tatsuha-kun, won't he make a good, obedient monk?

Yup. Eiri decides hell with it, goes to live in Tokyo. Me, I stay in Kyoto, and learn to take my father's place someday. And let me tell you, it's boring. More boring than sitting in a room with nothing in it, listening to a leaky faucet.

Don't get me wrong. I don't hold it against Eiri for backing out, or for the fact I get to take his place. Not really. I mean, he used to be an obedient kid that would have never talked back to his father, but all of that changed when he came back from New York. And hell if I know why. I remember this big brother that was always looking out for me, that'd give me piggy-back rides around the house.

And now I have 'damn the world and all of the people in it, grrrr grrr grrr' Eiri. Oh well. He's still my brother, right?

Back to the point. Mika, God I love her, realized how damn miserable I was and convinced my dad to let me go to Tokyo for a few weeks. It's not like I'm not allowed to have any fun or anything; I have plenty of fun in Kyoto. She just noticed that I was getting bored with the same old routine and before I could do something stupid, she worked all this out. Better to pitch me into a city where there's a million and one things to keep my interest than to leave me back home. Who knows, I could have decided that fire is a hell of a lot of fun to play with.

Don't really know how Eiri took it to begin with. I know Mika went and explained to him what was going on, and if he'd be so kind as to put me up for a few weeks. Something I doubt he appreciated too much. Probably demanded why I couldn't just stay with her and Touma. And well, from there it was probably one of their big knock out drag on fights, until Eiri either kicked her out or finally said it was fine.

So one cheerful morning I showed up at his doorstep, armed with only a duffel bag. The look he gave me when he opened the door was blandness incarnated.

"Get in," he said. What a greeting, huh?

"If you said that with a little more enthusiasm, I'd think you were just a little too delighted to see me, big bro."

I came in and tossed the duffel bag to the floor and made myself at home on the couch. Eiri went about his usual greeting process. Taking a cigarette out from wherever it is he hides those things on his person, putting it to his lips and lighting up, taking a long drag before he even thought to look back at me.

Eiri is the type of person that only does things on his own terms. If he doesn't want to talk to you, he won't. He'll completely ignore your existence until he sees fit to notice you. I don't get too worked up about it. Mika used to get pissed with him for it, and I know for a fact that it frustrated Shuuichi to no end, but that's just how it is. He's got to have things the way he wants them. Accommodating someone else has never been one of his strong suits.

Geez. I'm becoming a master of my own brother. I ought to write a book on it someday. 'The Secrets to Inner Working Mind of Famous Novelist Yuki Eiri -- by Uesugi Tatsuha.' It would sell a million, that's for sure.

"Rule number one."

Rules? Shit.

"Don't bring any of your girlfriends here."

Okay, I can understand that. High school girls make the vein in Eiri's forehead pop out like mad. It cracks me up. 'course, he fails to see the humor about it. I think he still holds it against me the time I brought home about fifty high school girls when I accidentally let it slip that Yuki Eiri, the Yuki Eiri, was at my house.

"Got it. No girls."

He pointed to his stereo. "Nittle Grasper never goes into that."

"What? That's totally unfair! I bet you let Shuuichi listen to them."

"Yes. But the combination of you and him and Nittle Grasper is enough to make anyone want to commit suicide."

Oh. Right. We do get a little ... uh... overenthusiastic?

"All right."

"Curfew is midnight."

I laughed aloud. His eye twitched in that way it does when he's irritated, and I quickly shut up.

"Okay, okay. Anything else?"

He shook his head. "Don't bother me while I'm writing. The rest I'll make it up as I go along."

Sounded like a riot to me. It'd be a real pain in the ass if he randomly decided to have a rule about using the microwave or stove in the middle of the night, when I want to make something to eat. Then again, this is his place, and it's by some amazing stroke of generosity he's even letting me stay with him.

I looked around. "Where's Shuuichi?"

"Work," he answered. He took another drag of his cigarette before stubbing it out in the ashtray on the kitchen counter. He's becoming a chain-smoker. He'll leave one out in the living room, light another in the kitchen, another in his study, and another in the bedroom. One for each room or something.

I should have figured about Shuuichi working. Since recording and releasing the impromptu song Shuuichi burst into at the Tokyo Bay Music Festival, they've been working on getting another album done. Which would probably be a hell of a lot easier if Shuuichi knew how to write lyrics for a damn.

Sometimes I wonder why Eiri doesn't just write lyrics for them. It'd sell more albums. It's probably some issue about not wanting to depend on other people or something as far as Shuuichi is concerned. He goes around declaring himself the world's greatest lyricist, so he has to deliver. It's what the fans want to see.

I don't really think they'd be all that objected to buying records with lyrics written by every teenage girl's favorite author though.

"What're you writing now?" I asked.

"Trash novel."

I bit my tongue at that. It would have been easy to agree that yeah, most of what he writes are trash novels. It's not that he's not got the talent or anything. I've read his books. He's damn good at what he does. He's also smart. He knows what people want to read and he writes it for them. Teenage girls want stories about doomed romances that all work out in the end, of charismatic men coming to the rescue of the damsel in distress. No one wants to read a story where the doomed romance really is doomed and the man is really an asshole.

I stopped reading his books awhile ago. I can read the first line and know exactly where it's going.

And I know Eiri isn't satisfied with that. The same as he was never happy with those random girls he would bring home, sleep with, and then pitch out again the next day. It's always the same thing.

"You should write a story of your life," I suggested.

He snorted. "Yeah. Right."

"The fan girls you have would kill to get it."

"I don't want the rest of the world reading about my life."

Something in his voice made me stop at that. And still I can't help but wonder what it is about himself and his life that he hates so much. It sucks to be in the dark.

I hopped up and retrieved myself a coke from the fridge. The fact he had cokes kind of mind boggled me for a second there, but then I figured... duh. Shuuichi. Normally there would have been beer, beer, and oh yeah, more beer. Not that Eiri is an alcoholic. Far from it. But he does have at least one beer a day along with his twenty cigarettes a day. Or is that fifty? Who knows.

"How's the old man?" he asked. I'm surprised. Who'd think he'd care.

"Cancer's come back," I replied, taking a swig of my coke. "Doctors say it's spreading. They're going to try treatment again."

My mother died of the same thing. Cancer of the lungs. She didn't smoke a day in her life, but was surrounded by it all of the time. Her father was a heavy smoker. My father used to be. She was the one that died for it. You'd think, with something like that in the back of your mind, Eiri wouldn't smoke.

You'd also think that I'd be more worried about my father. But I'm not. Not really. He's my father and when he dies, I'll be upset about it. But he's had one foot in the grave since I was a kid. I've resigned myself to it.

Unlike Eiri, who's just waiting for him to put the other foot in.

"That's why Mika's been home so much," I continued.

"Is that why she wanted you to get out of Kyoto?"

I shook my head. "Nah, that's just because she thinks if I get any more bored, I'll turn into you."

Mika is the one that holds together our dysfunctional little family. Poor sis. I really do feel bad for her, honestly. When our mom died, she had to take on the duties she had. I was just a kid then, too -- twelve. Eiri was eighteen. She had to look out for me and Eiri too, who was a hell of a bigger handful than I ever was.

The only thing expected of Mika was for her to marry and marry well. The only thing expected of Eiri was to become the next temple priest after our father passed away. And I was like the back-up plan if Eiri should ever mess up. Which he did, of course, and so lucky me.

One of my more amusing duties was looking after Ayaka-chan. It was arranged for her and Eiri to be married for years. He met her once, had a sort of 'mneh' reaction to the entire affair, and then went back to his own life. She was only sixteen then and her father didn't want her to marry until she was eighteen. So it was my job, when she was eighteen, to deliver her to Eiri. She made it a bit hard for me. Took off the night before I was going to take her to Tokyo to find Eiri on her own, got tangled up with Nakano Hiroshi and Shuuichi... women.

Nah. I like Ayaka-chan. She's a sweet girl. Sweet enough that I'd've hated to see her ruined by someone like Eiri. Like I said, I love my brother, but he's an ass. There's no doubt about that.

But I guess it worked out for the best. She and Hiroshi are still dating and Shuuichi won Eiri in the end.

And me, I just watch all of this unfold from the sidelines. Great, huh?

"But you know," I continued, more to hear my own voice, I think, "Dad's like a cockroach. He'll still be around even if the world explodes."

"Probably," Eiri agreed.

He lighted up another cigarette and was about to take a long drag of it when the door was flung open with a cheerful cry of, "Yuki! I'm home!"

It's hard to describe what exactly happens when Shuuichi comes home. It's one of those things you have to see for yourself to understand. First, he tosses off his shoes in the front foyer, then bounces up, goes to Eiri and plants a kiss on him, takes off his jacket, dumps anything he has with him on the floor, and then goes rooting through the fridge. And he does it while talking. At the sound of light. I'm not kidding.

"Idiot," Eiri snapped. "Don't just leave your stuff lying around."

Shuuichi poked up his head from the fridge. He opened his mouth, about to say something, maybe whine about Yuki being mean to him, apologize about being a slob, but it was then that he noticed me. His expression changed into surprise.

"Tatsuha-san!"

"Yo, Shuuichi," I returned, grinning.

Shuuichi suddenly launched himself across the room and latched onto me. "I've got something you don't have," he said, in a sing-song voice. Behind his back, I could see Eiri rolling his eyes.

I narrowed my eyes. "If you've got the new Nittle Grasper video..."

He beamed innocence rays. Really. Beamed them. I wanted to slug him one. But instead I just grabbed him by the shoulders and gave him the shaking of his life.

"Let me see! You jerk!"

"Ahhhhhh, Tatsuha-san, you're rattling my brains--"

"As though they could be any more rattled," Eiri interjected.

I ignored them both. "Cough it up!"

A little more successfully rattling and Shuuichi crawled away, retrieving the video from where it was beside the TV. Sensing some incoming fan boy moments, Eiri disappeared from the room. I heard the door to his study close and the door lock behind him. Hey, he never said anything about not having Nittle Grasper on the TV, right?

Shuuichi put in the video and the room was filled with the sounds of Sakuma Ryuuichi. I practically glued myself to the television set. The video of their new single had just been released and was practically impossible to get. I'd gone to every record store in Kyoto and didn't find it anywhere.

"Sakuma-san gave me this," Shuuichi said. I was reminded of the little molestation incident. Sakuma had given him that tape too.

"Since Yuki wrote the song," Shuuichi added.

I glanced at him. The song had more meaning to him than it ever would to me. Sure, it was being sung by the guy I had obsessed over for half my life, and the song was written by my brother, but it didn't mean a thing to me. Eiri had written the song about Shuuichi. That made it mean a whole lot more.

"Lucky bastard," I muttered.

He laughed. "Yup."

The song finished. I leaned back on my elbows. Sad, sick obsession of mine. I don't think I'm ever going to get tired of watching that guy sing.

"Hey, Tatsuha-san, you should come with me to the studio tomorrow," Shuuichi said abruptly.

I raised an eyebrow at him. "Serious?"

"Sure!" He flashed me a broad smile. One of those infectious smiles. I grinned back.

"All right."

You know, I can already tell that Eiri is going to want to kill us both by the time these weeks are up.