Author's Notes: Wow. *is in shock from all the wonderful reviews* I love you guys… You have no idea how touched I was by each and every review. *tears* Please enjoy this last chapter and continue to write wonderful reviews to feed my ego. ^_^

Christmas is a Time…

Chapter 3:

            Yuki Eiri trudged down the carpeted hallway to his apartment. He stumbled just the slightest and cursed. With cracking restraint he stopped and clenched his fists.

            "Will you GET OFF?!" Eiri growled lowly. The arms around his waist tightened and a certain pink-haired singer snuggled more against his back.

            "No!" Shuichi cried desperately from behind the disgruntled writer. "I'm not letting go!"

            Eiri sighed. "Never?" he asked with just a hint of amusement. Shuichi raised an eyebrow at the sudden switch in emotions.

            "Never ever!" the boy responded, clinging tighter. "You're not leaving again!"

            The older man smirked. "But if you don't let go I can't make it the rest of the way to our apartment." Shuichi blushed at Eiri's choice in pronouns. "Which also means I won't be able to give you your Christmas present."

            The singer frowned in determination. "But, you're my Christmas present!" he replied defiantly.

            "Yes," the novelist drawled, starting to loose his temper again, "but I have a surprise for you inside… Unless you don't want it…"

            Shuichi jerked, hastily pulling away. "I want it! I want it!!" he cried, running in front of Eiri and grabbing his hand. "Come on!!" he demanded as he pulled the older man down the hall. Eiri relinquished himself to a smile.

            The bubbling singer dragged Eiri to the door as quickly as he could. He began bouncing up and down as he frantically searched his coat pockets for his keys. "I got it," Eiri offered, pulling his set of keys out. Shuichi grinned in a mixture of delight and embarrassment. He began bobbing on his heels again as the older man unlocked the door.

            "Close your eyes."

            Shuichi blinked. "Huh? Why?" he whined impatiently. Eiri blocked the boy's attempts at slipping inside. "Let me in!"

            "Not until you close your eyes," the author snapped. "I said I had a surprise for you, and I'll be dammed if I put myself in such an embarrassing situation for your dumb ass so you can just ruin it all. Now close your damn eyes, or I'm going back to Kyoto." Shuichi's mouth was instantly shut at the sudden outburst. He swallowed hard, feeling threatened. Nodding shakily, the boy closed his eyes. "Thank you," Eiri bit out less then nicely.

            The pink-haired man was frowning slightly in frustration, impatience, and self-loathing for annoying Eiri after coming home to him. The frown instantly gave way, however, as he felt the warmth in the shape of a hand on the small of his back. He was lead gently forward into the apartment. He toed off his shoes blindly, leaning back against the blonde behind him for balance.

            Shuichi took in a slow breath as he felt Eiri brush by him. He didn't make to move or ask if he could open his eyes yet. If the novelist had a surprise for him, then the boy swore to himself he'd be as obedient as possible. It was the least he could do.

            "Don't open your eyes yet," came Eiri's voice from farther ahead in the apartment.

            From the kitchen, Shuichi presumed.

            "I won't," the boy voiced compliantly. "You give the word." Eiri gave a little sound of distaste. Shuichi's heart dropped. Had he done something wrong? "Yuki…? What's wrong?"

            "Nothing," came the blinded reply. His voice was gruff. Shuichi tensed in the sharp tones in his lover's voice and the sharper silence that followed. "It's not your fault, so stop making that face," Eiri added through a sigh. A slow smile spread over the boy's lips.

            Shuichi's brow creased in confusion as he saw a faint glow of light from behind his eyelids. Another glow came next to it and the two melded into one. He rose one thin eyebrow as the scent of light smoke drifted passed his nostrils.

            "Okay," the writer called. "You can open your damn eyes now."

            The singer inhaled through his teeth and held it a moment. In a rush the breath left him. Violet eyes slowly began to appear underneath heavy lashes. They were open, yet glazed and unadjusted. A mere second passed before flushed cheeks accented shocked purple irises.

            Yuki Eiri stood behind the table in the kitchen where the two men ate their meals together. Only the moonlight from the balcony behind him and the two candles that adorned the table lit the room. The light flickered brilliantly off the stoic writer. Accompanying the dark red candles were two plates, two wine glasses, proper eating utensils, and a bottle of unopened red wine. On the kitchen counter sat a tray of ziti: Shuichi's favorite non-Japanese food.

            The tears had slipped down the younger man's face before he could ever blink. A moment later had him standing limply, still in the doorway, head hung. The tears continued their voyage as they dragged choked sobs with them. He clenched his fists tightly at his sides, trying to suppress the sobbing. He refused to let himself crumple on the floor and bury his face in his hands.

            "Hey."

            Shuichi absent-mindedly wondered when Eiri had walked up to him.

            "Hey," the writer repeated in annoyance. "Why the hell are you crying, you idiot?"

            Shuichi sniffed and tried desperately to calm himself. "I'm sorry," he replied between quick sobs. He scrubbed quickly at his face to clean away the drying tears; thankfully no more followed. A few more sobs racked his frame. "Just… give me a second…" he breathed between the sharp jolts of his stomach. Shuichi pressed the heels of his hands against his burning eyes and inhaled a shuddering breath.

            Eiri shifted impatiently on his feet. His hands were stuffed in his pockets in an attempt to find a stance that proved he wasn't caring about the boy's tears – whether he did care or not was a different story. He eyed the fumbling boy carefully. Even though Eiri's face didn't show it, his heart was swelling with pride. It was, after all, his doing that made the boy so elated that he cried. Eiri paused in his thoughts. He was elated… right?

            "Those are happy tears," the author questioned skeptically, "aren't they?" Shuichi giggled and lifted his face to the blonde. He smiled and nodded enthusiastically. Eiri mentally sagged with relief. "They better be." He pressed his index finger to the younger man's nose. "And if you tell anyone I did all this, I will not hesitate to kill you," he growled menacingly. Something told the singer that Eiri meant it, but Shuichi laughed anyway.

            "It's just…" The vocalist took a shaky step toward the glowing set-up. "It's just so sweet of you…" He could feel the tears prickle at the corner of his eyes again. His head was throbbing. "I never would have thought you had it in you, Yuki…" He reached back and laced fingers with his lover, never taking his eyes off the display. "This is wonderful…"

            Eiri silently thanked the fact that he was somewhat behind Shuichi, otherwise his blush might not have gone unnoticed. "It's no big deal," he offered casually. "You said you wanted a nice dinner and drinks and all. I figured I had to comply with what you wanted somewhat…" He could feel his chest getting tight. God, this is so out of character for me… he groaned mentally. "I mean… you put up with me all the time… so…" He shifted his golden irises over to be met with Shuichi's own. The boy's eyes were pleading for the writer to finish his sentence. "Look, I just thought I owed you it." He shrugged his shoulders, trying to seem flippant.

            True, the past ten months had broken Eiri down somewhat, but there were the times when he was trying to be the most outgoing that he was the most heartless. And Shuichi had slowly learned to accept that. It's just the way he shows he cares… A smile was now playing on the younger man's lips.

            "Come on," Shuichi chirped. This was enough. This he could relish in. He pulled on Eiri's hand and made his way to the kitchen. "The ziti will be cold." He spun around and faced his lover. His eyes were dancing. "Did you make it yourself?"

            "Yeah." Eiri cocked an eyebrow. "So?"

            The singer took a step towards the older man. He leaned up and slipped his arms around Eiri's neck. He brushed feathery lips across the writer's own. "You're the best, love," Shuichi sighed against Eiri's lips. The latter shuddered softly.

            "It's just dinner," Eiri tried as coolly as possible. "I make dinner most of the time." His stomach was knotting at the way his mouth grazed over Shuichi's with each word.

            "But you've only made me ziti once." Shuichi kissed him again. "And we've never had dinner by candlelight." He kissed Eiri once, twice. "And this is our first Christmas together, to boot." He smiled against Eiri's lips. "It's more then I could have ever realistically hoped for."

            Eiri furrowed his brow. "'Realistically'?" He pulled his head back to glare at the boy. "What's that supposed to mean?"

            Shuichi shook his head and smiled. "Nothing, nothing." He pulled away. He turned to the slightly burnt ziti. It dawned on him that it must have been what Eiri was upset about before. "I just know what to really want and what to just dream for, that's all."

            "So I'm not good enough for you, now?"

            Shuichi whipped his head back to his lover to rebut, however he stopped himself. Eiri was smiling down at him playfully. The boy's heart lifted. God, he loved that smile…

            "Hey, Yuki?" Shuichi murmured as the novelist came up behind him.

            "Yeah?" Eiri reached in front of the vocalist and began to cut the ziti.

            "I love you," the younger man purred.

            "Shut up and eat your damn dinner."

            Shuichi watched as the wine poured in a shimmering stream into his glass. The half full wine-glass sloshed around playfully with each added drop. Shuichi smiled – Eiri had never let him near the writer's drinks before.

Eiri pulled back the bottle and began to pour his own. After a moment of Shuichi still idly watching the wine flow, the blonde gently pressed the cork back into the bottle top and rested it on the coffee table. Eiri leaned back in the couch and moved to take a sip of his drink.

"Wait!" Shuichi whined, tugging lightly on the novelist's sleeve. Eiri cocked an eyebrow at him. "We need a toast, don't we?"

The older man sighed softly. "I guess," he muttered, turning slightly to the singer.

Shuichi smiled adoringly. "To spending Christmas with the one I love," he hushed.

            Eiri clinked his glass to Shuichi's "Ditto," he added and took a sip.

            "Yuki," Shuichi gasped. Had he just said what Shuichi thought he said…? That was the second time that night Eiri had hinted at something like that… Was it just a coincidence?

            Shuichi let the unexpected remark drop. His heart was trembling too erratically to ask what the older man meant. For now he just rested himself against Eiri's side as the two sipped at their drinks.

            The silence was becoming uncomfortable. 

"Hey," the vocalist began meekly, cringing slightly at the way his voice broke the quietness of the room. He swallowed and tried again. "Um… everything you did tonight…" Shuichi felt the blush quickly stain his cheeks. He occupied himself by staring deeply into his wine. "Was it all just because I asked you to?"

            Eiri let out an amused breath. He stared down at the pink head that was on his shoulder. "You said this is what you wanted for Christmas," he reminded, as if the boy had forgotten.

            "I know, but… What I mean is…" Shuichi pulled back from his lover and hesitantly looked to his amber eyes. "Well, is it a bother to you?" he asked feebly. "Is it a pain for you to do all this?"

            Eiri scoffed. "You're constantly a pain."

            There was an unwelcome pang of guilt and disappointment that stabbed at the younger man's heart. He quickly adverted his gaze. He shifted himself away slightly and took a sip of wine.

 Eiri watched the boy's antics in bewilderment. Surely he wasn't reading the crestfallen expression on Shuichi's face falsely. He set down his glass and turned to the younger man. He pressed his hand against his lover's shoulder to turn the singer to face him. Shuichi complied, but never looked the blonde's way.

            "Look," the writer began as gently as possible without making it sound like he cared too much, "I wouldn't have come back if I didn't want to, ok? So stop worrying about it."

            Shuichi shook his head slowly. He held the wine glass to his chest. "But… but my present to you is nothing compared to all this…"

            Eiri's eyebrows rose. "All I'm doing is sitting here," he pointed out matter-of-factly.

            The pink-haired man swung his head to his partner. "But, this is how I've always dreamed to spend Christmas with you!" he cried. "One of those dreams that I put into the "it's never happening, get over it" category!" He clutched to his glass tighter. "This means the world to me!"

            Eiri let out a soft breath to help calm his pounding heart. He reached for the wine glass that was in danger of being shattered from how harshly the boy was gripping to it. He pulled it out of Shuichi's grasp. He placed the glass on the table next to his own.

"Idiot…" Eiri mumbled lightly.

            "Oh, Yuki…" Now that Shuichi's hands weren't busy he reached out to his lover. Lithe fingers curled around the fabric of the writer's shirt. "I love you so much…"

            Eiri trailed a soft fingertip down the younger man's cheek. Shuichi shuddered just the slightest. "I know," the blonde breathed.

            The lead singer of Bad Luck quickly hung his head. His hands rounded into little fists around Eiri's shirt. "Does it bother you when I say that?" he asked awkwardly. "Should I stop?"

            Eiri clucked his tongue almost inaudibly. He reached his fingers under his lover's chin and tugged the boy's head up to meet his own. "What's with you tonight?" he queried with a frown. "Since when do you care if you're bothering me or not?"   

            Shuichi's violet eyes were desperate. "It's just that you've done so much! And I never give you anything!" He could feel the tears swelling again. "Today has meant everything to me! Seeing you in that doorway…" The boy sobbed dryly. "God, I had never been so happy in my life… And I just feel like I'm such a bother to you; making you go through all this trouble…" His voice faded at the end. Shuichi's shoulders shook with suppressed sobs. He leaned his forehead on Eiri's shoulder for support.

            Eiri swallowed hard. All the emotions were swirling inside of him so fast he couldn't decipher each one. However, he did know that all of them were being caused by Shuichi, and that every single one made him shudder with delight. Eiri used to think it was the same feeling he had when he was sixteen. Then he began to realize that the way he felt for Shuichi wasn't the same as his sensei – it was stronger.

            "Look…" The writer cursed his innate "talent" at being ironically speechless in situations such as these. He ran feather-light fingertips up and down the boy's spine. "If… if I didn't want to come back - if I didn't miss you - I would have stayed, okay?" Shuichi's arms were around Eiri as he calmed. Eiri held the singer close. "I care about you, you idiot." Eiri relished in how Shuichi's hand instinctively gripped tighter.  "And I don't give a damn if you think the present you got for me isn't good enough, because you give me so much everyday, all right?" The blonde could barely even tell if he was actually speaking anymore. He found it hard to believe he was attempting to voice coherent thoughts when his heart was pounding so loudly in his ears. "Every stupid thing you say helps relieve me from my god damn editor. Every time I make fun of you it gets rid of some of my stress." He paused. This was the closest to romantic Eiri had ever gotten, and he was afraid to press the issue.  "And… well…"

            Shuichi sniffed, even though the tears never came and the shaking had long since passed. It was only his heart that was left quivering. He leaned back just the slightest to see his lover's face. "What…?" he prodded gently.

            Eiri considered turning his face away to hide his embarrassment, but realized that if he kept eye contact with the boy he would seem more casual. "You just…" His tight throat was strangling his voice. It was completely giving his emotions away.  "You make my life less dull…" he continued hesitantly, "and a little bit brighter, I guess." Eiri began to doubt himself. His plan was to tell Shuichi so much more then just this, but if he was having a hard time just saying simple things, then how would he ever get the whole truth out? He sighed and leaned his forehead against the vocalist's own. "And don't stop, you know… saying you love me, and all…" - he closed his eyes - "because it's actually kind of nice to hear sometimes."

            "Yuki…" Shuichi whispered almost incoherently. He sniffed and closed his eyes as well.

            Minutes passed of chaste kisses and hands running through hair. More minutes ticked away as Shuichi snuggled up to Eiri shamelessly, and even more as Eiri pretended to mind, but really didn't. A little bit later and their wine glasses were emptied, along with seconds. And in all the time that passed neither said a word for there was no need. Eiri knew Shuichi loved him, and Shuichi now knew that Eiri cared. And, the writer vowed mentally, tomorrow he'll learn more.

            Eiri glanced at his watch to read that it was a few minutes from eleven o'clock. He proposed that Shuichi and he finish decorating the tree before Christmas came. The pink-haired man was more then happy to oblige.

            The dressing of the tree was filled with casual touches that promised more and lips upon skin that ached for more. Shuichi would flirtatiously bend for ornaments, or reach so that his shirt would ride up. Eiri would brush behind the boy just close enough and occasionally dance his fingers on Shuichi's stomach or sides. Shuichi would nuzzle himself against the writer when he least expected it, and Eiri would graze his lips across the singer's cheeks or temples in return. By the time the decorations had been finished Shuichi was leaning back against the older man and his head tossed to one side. Eiri was lightly running his fingertips up and down the pink-haired man's sides as he kissed down Shuichi's jaw and throat, causing the younger to whimper softly.

            "Hey," Eiri mumbled against his lover's neck as he checked his watch. "It's late. Don't you want to go to bed before midnight?"

            Shuichi sighed lazily. "What time is it?" he asked with a tinge of disappointment.

            "Eleven thirty-ish."

            "Aw, Yuki," the singer whined softly, turning in Eiri's arms. "But we have a half hour…"

            Eiri leaned down and brushed his lips against Shuichi's. Both men shuddered the slightest. "I said go to bed," he murmured against the younger man's lips, "not go to sleep."

            Eiri was lying on his side, propped up on one elbow. Shuichi was facing him, also on his side, hands curled under his pillow. The younger man smiled sleepily and closed his eyes as his lover trailed feather-light fingertips up and down Shuichi's side. The sheets just barely covered them from the waist down, which didn't help the fact that the singer was getting goose-bumps.

            "So," Eiri drawled lowly, "did you get everything you listed from me?"

            Shuichi's tired smile spread as he nuzzled himself into his pillow. "Almost," he purred.

            The novelist cocked a curious eyebrow. "Almost?" he questioned crossly. "What do you mean, almost?"          

            "Well," the pink-haired man giggled softly, "I didn't really get the last thing on my list."

            Eiri frowned. "Oh, and what' tha—" The writer cut himself short as he realized to what his lover was referring: having Eiri submissively. He growled. "You know damn well I wasn't gonna do that, you moron."

            Shuichi slowly peeked open one violet eye. "I know." He yawned tiredly. "I know…" He closed his eyes again. "But I was just hopeful…"

            Eiri's fingers paused in their dance on the younger man's side. "And that's in the 'possible' dreaming category?" He scoffed. "I think you need to reorganize what goes on up there." He tapped the vocalist on the temple for good measure. "There's no way in hell I'd ever—" Eiri halted in his tirade as Shuichi began to sit up in bed.

            "Never ever…?" the singer questioned huskily. He leaned forward on his arms, violet irises glazed and searching. "You'd never let me…?"

            Eiri gulped at the way Shuichi could go to a melting pile of goop on a pillow, to a lustful temptress in only a matter of seconds. His voice alone was dripping with sex appeal.

And his head's doing that tilting to one side thing that he always does when he's turned on… And those lustful eyes… And, God, his breath is tickling my face… Wait… No, no, no, what is he doing? He's not doing what I think he's doing, is he? No, Shu-chan don't you—AHH!!!     

Eiri jerked backwards quickly, hands instinctively flying to his offended ear. His cheeks were flushed bright red and his breathing was erratic. He glared at his smirking lover with wide eyes. The sheets just barely kept him covered, forming a tent between his legs from a certain "love bite" - as Shuichi liked to call them.

"Good night, love," the devious singer cooed. He turned over so his back was facing Eiri and snuggled down into his bed. The clock caught his eye. It read 12:02 AM. "Oh," he began again, sitting up. He turned back to kiss a tense Yuki Eiri on the lips. He mouthed the words "Merry Christmas" against the fumbling writer's lips.

            Shuichi bounced up and down in his seat at the kitchen table. In front of him lay his empty plate, where a mere minute ago laid three pancakes. Eiri's eyes were downcast to his own plate, which still had one pancake left. Where as Shuichi had inhaled his food in an attempt to hurry things along, Eiri was taking his dear sweet time, which was probably on purpose. The writer's amber irises never left his plate, even as he saw his bouncing lover out of his peripheral vision. He had been trying to ignore the energetic boy, but was beginning to loose patience.

            "Bouncing like that isn't going to get me to finish any faster," Eiri pointed out, eyes finally lifting to Shuichi's own. The blonde pushed a forkful of pancakes into his mouth for good measure. "Besides," he continued once he had swallowed, "there's still three more left." He poked at the aforementioned pancakes with his fork. "You don't want anymore?"

            Shuichi desperately tried to stop wriggling in his seat, but only wound up moving more. "I'm too frantic to eat anymore!!" he whined. "C'mon, Yuki!! You're being slow on purpose!!" He absent-mindedly drummed his fingers across the table top in an erratic rhythm. "Can I please give you your present now?!"

            Eiri cocked a curious eyebrow as he swallowed down another bite. "I thought you didn't want to give it to me because it wasn't good enough?" the writer questioned pointedly.

            "I never said that!" Shuichi squealed; his face was appalled. "I want to give it to you either way! Even if it can't beat what you gave me!"

            The novelist shook his head back to throw stray golden bangs out of his eyes. He smirked softly. "You didn't even get your last present from me, yet." His grin widened as his lover's face turned to one of shock. "Would you like it first? Or do you want to give me mine, and then I'll give you yours?"

            The vocalist's astonished face soon drooped. He sagged in his chair and let his eyes fall into his lap. "You didn't tell me you got me something…"

            Eiri blinked, taken aback. "Is that a problem?"

            "Well, now I feel even worse…" Shuichi sighed softly. "I would have gotten you something so much better then what I did had I known…"

            The usually aloof writer felt his heart sink in his chest. Oh, how he hated it when those sad violet eyes were because of him… He suddenly found it difficult to breathe.

            "Hey," Eiri managed out slowly, "how about this?" Shuichi's head perked up. "Why don't you give me the present you got for me, and if it's up to my standards, I'll give you the one I got you." A warm smile graced the author's lips. "Okay?"

            Shuichi was beaming and at Eiri's side in an instant. "Okay!" he chirped, grabbing the blonde's hand. "C'mon! Come to the tree!!" He dragged the older man to the tree that was decorated the way only two lover's with their minds on other things knew how. "Sit, sit!" Shuichi commanded, forcing Eiri down in Indian-style. "I'll be right back!" He dashed down the hallway, passed the long forgotten pancakes. "Close your eyes!!" he called from somewhere inside the bedroom, Eiri presumed. The writer complied.

            Eiri leaned back on his arms, assuming that the search for the present was going to take a while. Shindou Shuichi was not the most organized man a live. The blonde yawned quietly. He considered timing the boy, that way he could rub it in Shuichi's face, but just as he was about to start his mental stopwatch, Shuichi came running back into the room.

Eiri raised surprised eyebrows, but kept his eyes closed. Shuichi plopped down on the carpet in front of the older man. The novelist leaned forward off his arms. He gave Shuichi his best "Well…?" look, considering the fact that his eyes were shut. The boy giggled.

"Okay," he began hesitantly, "you can open them."

Eiri slowly cracked open amber eyes. His lover was staring back at him bashfully. His eyes traveled downwards to find the gift that rested in the younger man's hands. It was a ring box. Eiri's lips parted just the slightest in surprise.

"When I bought it I thought it would be perfect for you…" Shuichi's voice was hushed. Eiri's eye swooped back up to see the singer looking down in embarrassment. "I just feel like I should have gotten you something else, too, ya know?"

"Hey." Eiri leaned forward and slipped one hand in pink locks. "I already told you…" he whispered against Shuichi's forehead, "you give me so much everyday." He closed his eyes, trying to calm his pounding heart. "Besides, being with you last night was a present to me, too."

Shuichi's eyes widened for just a moment and then closed peacefully. A languid smile spread his lips. He leaned up and brushed his mouth against Eiri's, who responded back the same. Shuichi's eyes opened softly. They were nose to nose.

"Merry Christmas, love," the pink-haired man wished lowly. He pressed the gift into Eiri's hands. The writer took it gladly.

Eiri pulled back from Shuichi and stared down at the present thoughtfully. He pursued his lips and reached out for one of the flaps of wrapping paper that was taped down. He yanked off the paper adorned with teddy-bears holding drums and holly around their feet. A black velvet ring box appeared underneath the furls of paper. Eiri pushed the neatly opened wrapping paper aside. He was uncharacteristically gentle about it. The vision of Shuichi sitting on the floor, trying to wrap Eiri's Christmas present was just too endearing. He could imagine a piece of scotch-tape hanging from the boy's lips as he pouted in frustration when the paper didn't sit just right. A smile graced the writer's lips.

Eiri pulled one hand out from under the box, trying to rid himself of such an adorable mental image. He reached out and ever-so-slowly lifted the lid to the ring box. He gasped in shock.

Shuichi gulped, hands tightening in his lap. His eyes skittered nervously from Eiri's face, to the box in his hands, from Eiri's face, to the box in his hands, from Eiri's face… He clenched his jaw tightly. He could feel his stomach clamping up. Was that a good gasp? or a horrified one? Shuichi gulped again.

There in Eiri's hands lay a box with an all-too-familiar ring. It was a golden band that tapered around the underneath, and there in the middle sat an emerald-cut yellow sapphire, with two miniscule diamonds on either side. Eiri could have sworn his heart had stopped. An inscription on the inside of the ring caught his eye: "To the one I'll always love ~Your Shu-chan".

Shuichi could feel his cheeks burning in embarrassment. He flew his hands up to cover his face and squeaked. "I'm sorry!" he wailed. "I thought it was too girly for you, but I just thought it would look so nice on you!! I know it's stupid and cheesy, but I just really though that--!!"

"Will you put it on me?"

Shuichi blinked. He looked up from his hands, eyes curious. "What?" he choked.

"Will you put it on me?" Eiri queried again. He pulled the ring out of the box with his right hand. He pushed it towards Shuichi. "Will you?"

The singer made a small sound of protest. "B-but!" he cried, finally regaining control of his voice. "If you hate it, I can just return it!! You don't have to pretend you like it for me!"

"Pretend?" Eiri's smile was warmer then Shuichi had ever seen. "This is me we're talking about here. You know I wouldn't do that." The writer's eyes traveled back down to the ring that rested in between his fingertips. His heart was pounding. What a coincidence… He made eye contact with Shuichi again. "Put it on me."

The vocalist took in a slow breath. He reached out a shaky hand and plucked the ring from his lover's fingers. He looked back and forth at Eiri's hands, as if wondering which one to put the ring on. To answer his silent question the blonde reached out his left hand. Shuichi blushed. He had measured the size of Eiri's ring finger when he bought it… But if Eiri put it on his left hand, it would look like…

Shuichi's stomach knotted in surprise as Eiri leaned forward and pressed his lips against the younger man's ear. "Put it on," he whispered huskily. Shuichi could have sworn he was melting.

Eiri closed his eyes as he felt the cool metal of the ring be pushed down his finger. He kissed Shuichi's temple and cheeks as the ring slid past his first knuckle. Once the ring had gone down over his second knuckle, Eiri slipped his fingers in between his lover's own. Shuichi's hand tightened around his. Eiri grazed his lips down the side of the boy's flushed face to hover over his quivering lips.

"Thank you," the older man sighed over Shuichi's mouth. He kissed him lightly. "Do you want your present now?" he asked between kisses. Shuichi bit his lip and looked away. "Hey." Eiri squeezed the hand laced with the younger man's tighter. He reached his free hand under Shuichi's chin and turned him to look at the writer. "Trust me." Eiri pecked him on the lips again. "You'll love it."

Shuichi's eyes followed Eiri's actions closely. The older man reached into the pocket of his robe and pulled out a very familiar box. Shuichi blinked. Wait a second… Eiri pressed the box into the pink-haired man's hands. "Here," he offered softly.

The vocalist let out a shaky breath. He pushed his thumbs underneath the tabs of the plaid red and green wrapping paper and pushed up. He couldn't help but smile. The image of his Yuki going Christmas shopping for him and even wrapping it was just too endearing. The fact that they had managed to both buy each other rings was even more heartwarming.

Shuichi laid the wrapping paper down next to where Eiri had left his. The same black velvet box was in the singer's hands. Shuichi puckered his lips in confusion. He was urged by Eiri to open it. The younger man promptly stuck his tongue out at his older lover. Eiri slanted his eyes and grabbed the boy's tongue, causing Shuichi to squeak. The writer reached down with his free hand and opened the box. He let his grip go on the pink-haired man's tongue and sat back. Shuichi turned his gaze to the now open box in his hand. He gasped in shock.

Shuichi stared at the present in his hands, eye impossibly wide. The ring he had bought Eiri was staring back at him with only one change: there was a pink sapphire, not a yellow one. His heart pounded so hard he never even noticed it when the blonde had sat himself behind Shuichi.

"Quite a coincidence, isn't it?" Eiri breathed against his lover's neck. Shuichi closed his eyes and let out a shuddering breath. He nodded the slightest. Eiri pressed his lips to the singer's ear. "Read the inscription."

Shuichi slowly opened his eyes and felt that tears were beginning to prickle in their corners. He lifted the ring out of it's box and laid the velvet holder down. He twirled the ring in his fingers for a moment, letting the light dance off the stone. He smiled warmly. The engraved message was finally noticed. It read: "A promise ~ 'Yuki'"

            "'A promise'?" Shuichi read aloud. He cocked his head back a bit to the man behind him. "A promise of what?"

            Eiri wrapped his arms around the vocalist's waist and nuzzled his head between the younger man's shoulder and neck. His chest was growing tighter by the second. He closed his eyes. Come on, Eiri, you can do this… "A promise that… no matter how many mean things I say to you…" He paused and opened his eyes. He watched as Shuichi's fingers curled around the ring in anticipation. His heart thudded louder. "No matter how many times I tell you to get out…" he continued, "You can just look down at that ring and remember that… I'll… I'll always…" Eiri took a shallow breath. Just three words… Just three words, Eiri! His hands were shaking. "…I'll love you…"

            Shuichi's stomach gave him a small jolt and the tears broke past his tightly shut eyes. He sobbed and bit down on his bottom lip. He brought the fisted hands that held the ring up to his face to ball in front of his mouth. His shoulders shook with suppressed sobbing.

            "Stop crying, you idiot," Eiri hushed gently, moving himself to sit facing Shuichi's side. The boy promptly curled himself in Eiri's arms. The writer smiled. "So, I think our presents are equally matched, aren't they?" he cooed in amusement.

            Shuichi sniffled and shook his head, still clinging to the ring. "It may be the same ring… but… Oh, Yuki!" the singer cried. "I thought you'd never say it!!" he buried his face in the older man's shoulder.

            "So, you're saying that it's the same rings," Eiri continued, wrapping his arms around the younger man, "but the meaning behind them is different." Shuichi answered with another soft sob and a nod. Eiri clucked his tongue. "But your ring says that you love me." He lifted his left hand to admire the aforementioned piece of jewelry. His heart swelled. God how good it felt to tell Shuichi he loved him and to have these rings to show for it. "And my ring says that I promise to always feel that way for you." He looked down at the pink head that was curled against his shoulder. "So what's the difference?"

            Shuichi sniffed and raised his head. The tears had paused. He blinked in confusion. "Well… I say it to you everyday… and you've never told me before so—"

            "Stop trying to make excuses, you moron." Eiri leaned forward and pressed his lips to Shuichi who instantly succumbed. "A ring is a ring," he muttered against the vocalist's lips. Shuichi shuddered. "We're even." The younger man nodded and leaned up to kiss Eiri.

            Shuichi was curled up in Eiri's lap as the older man slid the ring onto his left ring finger. Shuichi couldn't help but blush. Never in his life had he felt so complete. Here he sat, in the arms of the man he loved and that loved him back, wearing matching rings. The tears began to swell again. Shuichi closed his eyes and sighed dreamily, letting the tears fall peacefully as they wished. He nuzzled closer to Eiri's warmth, a lazy smile on his lips.

            "Merry Christmas, love," Shuichi purred softly.

            Eiri smiled and kissed the top of the younger man's pink head. "Merry Christmas, Uesugi Shuichi." He felt the boy freeze in his arms. "If that's all right with you," he added on a quiet laugh.

            Shuichi jerked back, staring at Eiri with wide violet eyes and his mouth agape. His cheeks were bright red. He moved his mouth to speak but all that came out were small choked sounds. Eiri chuckled lowly at the fumbling boy.

            "Are you," Shuichi managed, finally getting his voice back, "serious?!" he squawked.

            Eiri smirked, looking down his nose at Shuichi. "I am." He raised and eyebrow. "Do you have a problem with that?"

            Shuichi glared at his lover with harsh eyes. "Are you just screwing with me?" he growled. "There's no way you're serious. I mean… first we have candlelight dinner, and then wine… And then you let me cuddle with you after we made love… And then…" Shuichi looked down, trying to count everything off on his fingers. "And you told me you love me! And you gave me the ring!!" He swung his head back up. His eyes were still determined, but Eiri caught the flicker hope in the violet irises. "Are you really considering…?"

            Eiri let out a patient breath. He watched the boy for a minute. "Are you done?" he asked slowly, "or would you like to ramble some more?"

            Shuichi clamped his mouth shut in an exaggerated manner to prove to Eiri he was finished. The writer grinned.

            "Good." He reached his hand forward and brushed his fingertips across Shuichi's pink cheeks. "Now…" he began huskily, bringing his forehead to rest against the younger man's own. "Would considering these rings to be wedding rings be bad - is that what you're telling me?"

            Shuichi's eyes widened. The tears were blurring his vision. "You're really serious?" he choked out through a strangled sob.

            "Yes."

            A moment of silence passed of the two men forehead to forehead and arms wrapped around one another. Shuichi sobbed quietly and Eiri sighed softly, both of them with their eyes closed.

            "Can I really take your last name?" Shuichi whimpered between sobs as the tears streamed down his face.

            "Yeah." Eiri leaned up and kissed the boy on the nose.

            "But we won't be even then," the singer joked as his shoulders shook.

            "Shut up." Eiri lightly nipped the tip of Shuichi's nose causing him to yelp.

            Shuichi opened his eyes and leaned back to complain but was cut off at the site of the man before him. Eiri was smiling down, flushed cheeks, golden eyes trembling, thin trails of tears trailing down his face.

            "Yuki…!" the singer gasped.

            "I said shut up," Eiri whispered through his teary smile.

            The writer leaned in and pressed his mouth over Shuichi's own. Their hands intertwined, metal rings resting against each other.

Author's Notes: I woke up this morning (Christmas Eve), and after a little while I realized that it was the 24th. So I'm like, "oh, I should wrap those presents that are sitting in the corner of my room for everyone to see." o_o; That's when I realized I hadn't finished chapter 3 of this story. I have been sitting here for 11 hours with insane writer's block. This is why procrastination is bad, boys and girls. ^_^;;

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!! XD