Note: Many thanks to Aja for beta-ing for me. I probably would have made it even more confusing than necessary without the assistance.
Track Thirteen: Playing Dress-Up
Shuichi awoke to a dull throbbing pain in his back, his entire body stiff to the point of radiating soreness, and he rolled over, violet eyes blinking open to welcome the shining rays of the sun washing the room in a tsunami of golden fireworks. He sighed, drawing in a deep breath, inhaling the familiar scents around him before carefully sitting up, tendrils of magenta caressing his cheeks in a waterfall of neon color. The singer grimaced when his gaze fell upon the dresser, its mirror reflecting his image from across the room, and he had to force himself not to sob. His appearance was a picture from his nightmares. Dark smudges stood out against his skin, a product of not enough rest, and the dried tear stains were almost visible in the bright light, giving his face a ghostly look that nearly frightened him. Shuichi shivered, lithe arms banding around his naked torso to hug himself in self-attempted comfort. He bravely slid to the edge of the large, empty bed, preparing himself for what was to come. He knew that making any sudden movements on his feet would hurt him, it was almost like being back in Hiro's apartment and waking up to find his friend gone so that he was forced to walk on his own, but he couldn't lay in bed all day and mope; it wasn't ethical, and he had important things to do.
Biting his lip, Shuichi grabbed the edge of the bedside table and compelled himself to stand, a wave of momentary agony caressing his spine as his weight settled onto his legs and lower back before disappearing.
'That wasn't so-'
He walked forward and instantly fell, his hands flailing out to catch hold of something that would keep him upright. He managed to knock off the lamp on the table, pull the bedspread over him, and smash his head against the wooden floor in less than a second.
"Son of a bitch," he cried, the curse falling easily from his mouth as an intense flair of hurt flowed over every inch of him, giving new meaning to the phrase 'no pain, no gain.' Shuichi couldn't remember where he'd heard it, though it was most likely one of K's rambles when he had his magnum to Shuichi's head. He definitely disagreed with the idea behind the phrase. The ache washing over his body made him want to cry. It hurt so much! Shuichi couldn't understand why this was any different than the other times he'd been with Eiri. They'd always been so careful, and although it wasn't obvious, Eiri was a considerate lover, but the memories of last night abruptly made him remember the answer to his question. The feeling of the author thrusting into him making his heart ache. Eiri had been something else; he had morphed into some atrocity that was a crime to the world they lived in, and Shuichi had turned him into that.
He hadn't even said anything!
Fresh tears began to work their way from his eyes, warming the skin of his cheeks as they slipped free to run onto the floor. The blanket surrounded him, and he sobbed into his arms, ashamed of what he'd let the other become. He was supposed to protect him, to shelter him from those things that would make him act anything other than the lovable Yuki Eiri he knew, but he'd failed in his endeavor to be a good lover, a good boyfriend...a good person.
Was that why Eiri wasn't beside him?
Could that have been the reason as to why he'd woken up alone?
Did Eiri think he was some dirty whore that was only there to relieve his sexual urges?
Had Eiri left him?
"Do you need some help, Shuichi?" The familiar masculine voice had him jerking his head up, eyes batting to rid themselves of the tears congealing his eyelashes together. Tatsuha's boyishly masculine face peered down at him from his crouched position, concern written across his features. His hand was extended out, a life saver to his drowning persona. Shuichi tried rubbing away the wetness clinging to his cheeks as he reached out for his lover's brother, wanting to be comforted in any way available to him, and Tatsuha pulled him up gently. His long arms supported Shuichi's back as he held him close. The singer was thankful for the blanket around him. Being naked in Tatsuha's embrace would create a slew of mixed emotions he didn't want to deal with, but the feeling of being pressed against the warmer, stronger body dissolved the insecurity bubbling in his mind. He hugged back tightly, another involuntary sob escaping his chest.
"Please help me...please help me..." Tatsuha ran his fingers delicately through semi-sticky strands of tangled pink, the mixture of hair, dried sweat, and hair gel forming a net around his hand. The heavy smell of cologne was wafting from the vocalist's normally strawberry-fragrant skin, and the younger Uesugi immediately didn't like it. Shuichi was the feminine envy of every man alive, though most would deny it and call him a slew of indecent names because it was an insult to their "manhood." Tatsuha could never imagine something as defiling as repugnant perfume desecrating this [holy] image of humanity. Shuichi existed as the answer to depression, the craving of every man, woman, and child in the purest spiritual form, but something was wrong, something too terrible to voice, and Tatsuha could only hold him.
"Please h-help me," he confessed, his petite body shuddering excessively. "I don't understand...I don't understand what I did..."
"You didn't do anything," Tatsuha replied, firm in his answer; he'd already known that it wasn't.
When he had finally made it to his brother's apartment, the spare key beneath the 'welcome' mat letting him in, Tatsuha found Eiri sitting stoically on the edge of the couch, his eyes wide and fingers trembling as he sucked down one cigarette after another. He quietly placed his helmet onto the floor and tiptoed towards his sibling, his thoughts loud in the silent apartment. He'd never seen Eiri like this before. It was almost like he was worried and upset about something that he normally wouldn't stress over, but the thing that truly frightened Tatsuha the most was the fact that Eiri did absolutely nothing when he placed a hand delicately on his shoulder.
"Aniki?" There was no answer, the novelist just pulled another drag into his lungs, and Tatsuha panicked. "A-Aniki? Aniki??"
Someone had stolen his brother!
"Be quiet, baka," Eiri suddenly muttered, blowing smoke into his face. "Can't you see that I'm thinking?"
"About what?" the other snapped, dark liquid eyes piercing solemn lime. "I'd thought you'd died or something!"
"Stop being so dramatic." Eiri held the cigarette away from his mouth and ran a shaky hand through messy locks of blonde.
"Why? I was worried..." Tatsuha pursed his lips. "I'm your brother, Aniki. What am I supposed to do if I can't be dramatic?" There wasn't a reply, and the sixteen-year-old sighed heavily. "What's going on, Eiri?"
"Nothing." Another cigarette was lit and placed between pale lips to be smoked.
"Don't give me that," he chided, reaching out to confiscate the infatuation his brother had stuck in his mouth. "Tell me!" Frosted lemon eyes met the other's gaze, giving view to the troubled soul within. Tatsuha sucked in his breath, nearly terrified by what he was seeing. Tears were stubbornly being held back from falling free, glistening reverently in orbs of lightened honey as they collected at the corners, and the younger Uesugi fell to his knees, arms wrapping tightly around this brother's shaking form even as he crushed the lit cigarette in his hand. Eiri's slender fingers clamped harshly to his back, pulling the material of his jacket taut, and the writer buried his face in the folds of his sibling's clothing.
His existence ached because of what he'd done. He was beyond redemption, he had sinned against himself and the ideals he'd wanted to cherish, had destroyed everything that had finally been righted in his life, and he could not say anything of his transgressions. Tatsuha was more understanding that anyone he knew, but he couldn't confess his crime to his own brother, to a monk of a Buddhist temple, one which he was supposed to honor more than he presently did.
"Tatsuha..." A reassuring touch to his back comforted him.
"You can tell me, Aniki. I won't think any less of you...what's wrong?" There was a heart-wrenching silence that elevated Tatsuha's pulse for fear of no answer. Then Eiri lost it, his mouth opening to spill the litany of offenses he'd committed, the laws he'd broken because of his uncontrollable emotions. He relived the memory of the drive home from the hospital, of the lust he'd experienced when he'd stared at Shuichi as if seeing him for the first time and how he had ravished him. The novelist remembered the things he had done to Shuichi in their bedroom, thinking it to be a physical show of his love.
Tatsuha listened without commenting, hating the crack in his brother's chilling, deep voice as he broke down in Tatsuha's embrace, and his soul ached despite the commands his conscience gave. The quiet voice that would often visit him at the most inconvenient times whispered that his brother had become a sinner, had mutinied against him and the beliefs he'd been raised under, but Tatsuha ignored it. He argued with the voice that if Eiri was now a sinner then he was just as guilty.
"I'm...Shuichi will..." Wetness soaked into his skin, and the dark haired youth pressed him closer, murmuring softly against his ear while he stroked locks of tangled gold.
Tatsuha caressed Shuichi's hair, whispered to him just as he had his to brother, but the words he offered were useless.
"If...if I d-didn't do anything...t-then w-why..." The pink-haired singer sobbed, pulling the blanket over his head despite the other's hold on him. "Where's Yuki? W-where-"
"He went out," Tatsuha answered, his words a partial truth. The teenager didn't have the courage to tell him that his sibling had gone to see Tohma; it would have broken his heart.
"C-could you help me to the b-bathroom?" His voice was tiny, much less commanding than the usual sing-song tone he belted out, and Tatsuha shifted the vocalist in his arms. He slipped a hand down to gather Shuichi's legs before lifting him.
"I can do that," he replied sincerely, leveraging himself to stand. "Do you need anything?" Shuichi didn't answer immediately, but a head full of mussed pink wriggled from beneath the comforter he'd buried himself in, clear blue eyes blinking up at him.
"Clothes," he muttered meekly, his cheeks staining a pretty color that matched the unruly mane cascading over his petite ears, and Tatsuha laughed even as he pushed another door open with his foot. The porcelain features of the bathroom greeted them with a coolly. The taller male set the bundle he carried on the toilet before taking a step back.
"Do you need -uh- anything else?" From his obvious blush, Shuichi knew what he was asking, and he politely shook his head in response.
"I'll be fine." Tatsuha turned to leave, mentally in search of something the singer would approve of wearing. "Tatsuha-kun?" Charcoal eyes peered back at him from over a t-shirt clad shoulder.
"T-thank you." A blinding smile that made Shuichi's chest ache appeared on the other's face.
"Any time." And, the youth was gone, deserting the vocalist to complete the task that had been requested. Shuichi slid the blanket down his slender body, wincing slightly when he had to lift himself up to slip it beneath him. He leaned over, trembling fingers reaching for the knobs, and he managed to plug the drain as water began to fill the spacious tub. He was grateful for the clashing sound of liquid against solid that drowned out the thoughts that plagued him. He ran a hand trough his hair, squeezing it momentarily before taking a calming breath. Shuichi gathered his strength, knowing that it would be difficult to step over the side of the tub which was a huge obstacle standing between him and his soothing heaven.
The singer still couldn't understand why it hurt so much or why Eiri wasn't there to comfort him, but he was glad for Tatsuha's presence. The teenager could be completely different from the immature, hormonally-unbalanced act he constantly put on. Sometimes his antics had been too annoying to deal with, but now Shuichi felt eternally indebted to the younger boy. Tatsuha had helped him so many times before –notably, when Eiri had planned to marry Ayaka, and when Eiri had deserted him that final time to go to New York. The singer had no words that would express how appreciative he was for the monk's patience, kindness, and care.
'Yuki wouldn't do this for you,' his mind argued quietly as he grabbed the edge of the tub and agonizingly placed a small foot into the cascading water, letting warmth flood up his leg. 'He doesn't care...' Shuichi eased himself into the bath. He was unable to help the sigh that escaped his lips as the pain was dulled into a light throbbing he could manage. His thoughts continued, pelting him with guilt and anger and personal fault that injured him far more than his physical discomfort. 'No one cares for you, Shuichi...no one loves you...Yuki did this to you because he hates you. Why do you think he isn't here? He left his brother to clean up his mess because...because...' Shuichi screamed in frustration, crying out as the unbearable image of his lover no longer needing him preoccupied his mind, and the singer concealed his face in his hands, scalding heat slipping between his fingers to wash down his drawn-up knees.
Eiri didn't love him anymore.
Aizawa stood before the window in Ma and Ken's apartment. The light made his weary eyes look crimson as he peered out at the busy world of Tokyo while it basked in the warmth of the rising sun. He crossed his arms over his chest, shivering as if a sudden wave of frost submerged him in its icy depths. After last night's encounter, the former vocalist couldn't think of anything other than the torment he'd put himself through; the animosity and sorrow threatened to rip his heart in half. He knew Ken and Ma cared. They had been part of his existence for as long as he could remember, but what the blonde had confessed to him, what he'd done to him; it was unreal. The feeling of the other's exquisitely skilled tongue pillaging his mouth haunted him, searing a jagged line of betrayal through his soul which he could not escape. Aizawa closed his gaze to the shining luminosity of humanity. His teeth were gouging into the softness of his lower lip when his mind refused to give him peace.
"You don't have to be afraid..."
His body involuntarily shuddered.
'I'm so scared...Ryuichi...help me.'
Reassuring arms abruptly wrapped around his waist, pulling him against a warm body that radiated an aura of eternal security, and Aizawa couldn't deny loving to be held like this.
"Why are you so sad? Are you hungry?"
Aizawa tilted his head to the side, a tendril of charcoal hair concealing his gaze from the earnest, handsome face staring almost worriedly at him. Aizawa smiled gently, maroon eyes shimmering eagerly in the delicate light as his lover returned his gesture, a dimple creasing the side of his mouth. Moss-brown hair bounced gingerly over a smooth forehead, as if afraid to mar the beauty captured in the singer's affectionate expression. Aizawa lost himself in the crystalline blue color of the other's eyes, wishing that this moment would never end, that he would never have to give him up to anyone.
The chest that pressed tightly to his back shifted, and the curves of their bodies fell into place like the pieces of a perfect puzzle. Aizawa returned to his original frontward position, fingers drifting up his own thigh and stomach to intertwine with the hands resting intimately above his navel.
"I love you, Ryuichi."
"Tell me that you feel the same...that I'm just not deluding myself into thinking-"
"Feel this way, too..."
"Tachi...what are you talking about?
Aizawa opened his eyes, turning around to blink confusedly at the figure who held him, and he gasped when the tanned green hair of his rememberance melted into glistening blonde, and sapphire eyes faded into some unrecognizable color.
"Hai. Daijoubu-ka, Tachi?" The ex-ASK singer had to force himself to nod, unable to believe he'd been dreaming...again.
"What?" The blonde leered up at him in a kind fashion specifically designated as Ma's worrisome smile, lengthy gold hiding the remainder of his features.
"Do...do you want something to eat? Ken-chan's making breakfast."
He had to get away...
"H-hai. Okay." Ma loosened his hold on Aizawa's waist to grip his hand instead, and he was tugged along, his legs wobbling unsteadily as a powerful urge swept over him, unforgiving in its wake.
Aizawa had to see Ryuichi, and he knew Ryuichi had to see him, too.
A/N: Any commentary would be appreciated.