Title: Learning to Fly

Author: Hawk Clowd

Disclaimer: Maki Murakami would be a god if she weren't already a human; she owns Gravitation. If somehow the rights were transferred over to me, however, I do believe I would have a thousand angry fans banging on my door asking why I couldn't just let the boys have a happy ending every once in awhile.  I also didn't invent skydiving.

Blood Type: Chocolate syrup.  Simply because I can.

Part: Five

Warnings:  Sap.  Sap.  And, of course, more sap.  I hate sap.  Why did I put it in this story?

Archived: The usual places. I do not do free archiving, however, and will be seriously pissed off if I find that someone has been hosting my fic without asking first. Yes, this has happened, and no, I didn't like it then, either.

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The night passed slowly for Yuki Eiri, who couldn't quite bring himself to go to sleep.  This wasn't exactly unusual for him, really; Yuki often spent sleepless nights in front of his computer or with a halfway decent book and it rarely bothered him.  This time, however, Yuki couldn't bring himself to pay attention to either his computer or any of the books in his collection, so he just sat in bed and smoked cigarette after cigarette.

Smoking, Yuki decided, was undoubtedly the best nervous habit ever.  It kept him from having to think too much and gave him something to do with his hands besides.  Everything about smoking was simple.  Take out the cigarette, light the end, and do breathing exercises until the thing was done.  Perfect.

He must have slept somewhere along the line, given that he woke up to the sound of the television turning on in the other room.  Looking at the clock, Yuki groaned.  Shuichi would have left quite some time ago, probably, so that meant the television had turned on by itself.  It did that every so often, usually at the very worst times (such as when Yuki was trying to persuade Shuichi to put away the goddamn keyboard and go fuck in the bedroom), and the writer always swore that he was either going to fix it or throw it out...  And then forgot about it.

In any case, the television woke him up.  Shuichi had obviously been the last one to have it on, given that the volume was turned up to a decibel that could cause permanent damage to a person's ears and the station was set to one of those terrible music channels that the brat loved so much.  Yuki scowled, propelled himself out of bed, and then went into the living room.  He meant to turn off the television, but a flash of pink caught his eye on screen and he realized that the station was playing yet another Bad Luck video.  Yuki didn't recognize the song, however, and he frowned, turning the sound down a bit so he could listen in peace.  He sat on the couch for the remainder of the video, trying (and failing) to place the song.

How long had it been since he'd bothered listening to Shuichi jabber on about his lyrics?  When had he last gone to one of Shuichi's concerts?  Yuki couldn't remember.  Was that a bad thing?  Probably.  Shuichi was undoubtedly keeping track and holding all of that against him.

Sighing, Yuki checked the clock again and then turned off the television.  If he dressed quickly and hurried along all of the major highways, he could probably still get to the airbase before Shuichi had a chance to get on a plane.

About half an hour (and two dented trashcans) later, Yuki arrived at Tanudem International.  It did take him almost a full fifteen minutes to locate Shuichi and Yazawa, however.  They were in the hangar, apparently preparing Shuichi for the upcoming jump.  One of the planes, near the back, was running; Yuki assumed that was going to be Shuichi's suicide machine.  Closer to the main building, Shuichi was standing near to an older gentleman dressed in a dark-blue jumpsuit, who was helping zip up Shuichi's skin-tight red suit.  Yuki eyed Shuichi's suit, wondering if they were allowed to take that home.

Shuichi didn't seem to notice Yuki at first, as busy as he was with putting on the black harness.  About halfway through, however, something made him look up and he caught sight of the writer standing nonchalantly in the doorway.  His face lit up and he pulled away from the man in the jumpsuit, running over.

"You came!" Shuichi cried happily as he hugged Yuki around the waist.  Yuki winced as the boy's harness dug into his ribs, but he didn't push Shuichi away.  "I'm so glad you decided to come after all!"

Yuki grunted.  "I'm looking forward to watching you splatter all over the ground," he said in a kind tone of voice.  "Perhaps I'll be able to work in peace once you're dead."

"I'll haunt you until the day you keel over, you bastard," Shuichi replied, nuzzling against the writer's shoulder.  "But nothing's going to go wrong.  Arashi says I'm one of the best students he's ever had and I think he really means it!"

"That's a change."  Yuki rubbed feeling back into his shoulder as Shuichi released him.  "Who's the man in the jumpsuit?"

"That's Taka.  He's the cameraman--he'll be jumping like, three seconds before I do and he'll be recording my jump the whole time!  Isn't that cool?"

"Sure."  Yuki smirked.  "Do we get to keep this new outfit of yours?"

Shuichi grinned.  "Yeah, it would make a great addition to my concert clothes, don't you think?"

"Perhaps," Yuki agreed, "but it could be very hard to get off once you got all sweaty and hot...  We should test it later on."

Catching his meaning, Shuichi made a face.  "Pervert."  Then he laughed.  "I really love this harness thing, too.  I mean, it hurt a little bit when I first started wearing it, but now it's all okay.  See, these straps back here get hooked up to the parachute.  And since I'm doing the static-line, the rip chord is more or less attached to the plane, so the parachute will open by itself.  But if, for some reason, that doesn't work out, then there's also this handle here," Shuichi pointed, "that will open the reserve chute.  But all I've really got to know about are these toggle thingies here, which basically steer me around...  And they're breaks, too.  It's great.  And then..."

Before Shuichi could finish his sentence, Taka-the-cameraman shouted Shuichi's name and so the singer ran back over to him so he could start wrestling with his harness again.  Yuki pulled Yazawa aside and smiled tightly.

"If anything happens to him, do you know what I'll do to you?" he asked the man quietly.  The instructor shook his head, giving Yuki a confused look.  "You know, I'm not sure either.  But I can guarantee that you won't like it."

Yazawa frowned.  "You aren't serious, are you?"

"Bet?"

"But...  We can't control that!  We make the jumps as safe as humanly possible, but we can't exactly line the ground with mattresses or rubber padding," Yazawa protested.  "Nothing's going to happen to him, however, so you needn't worry.  Based on what I know of him, Shindou-san seems to be very resilient."

Scowling, Yuki let the man turn away and he looked over to see that Shuichi was just finishing up with his strap check.  The backpack-like parachute had just been attached and Shuichi had found a pair of goggles, too, and had those pushed up on his head.  Taka had already put on his harness and parachute and seemed to be ushering Shuichi towards the back of the hanger, to a plane.  Shuichi let himself be herded along for a moment and then seemed to second-guess himself, turning back around and running over to where Yuki was standing.  He reattached himself to the writer's waist.

"Thank you for coming to watch," Shuichi murmured into Yuki's shirt.

"Brat," Yuki replied, distancing himself slightly from Shuichi.  He tilted the boy's chin up and kissed him gently.  "You never would have stopped bothering me about it if I hadn't come to watch.  Don't forget how to use that parachute of yours, all right?  I'm too old to go around looking for a new decent piece of ass."

Shuichi made a face.  "You're only twenty-four," he reminded Yuki, "and I love you, too."

Releasing Yuki's waist, Shuichi pecked the writer on the lips again and then bounded back towards Taka, who had been joined by another man in a blue jumpsuit.  The three of them walked to the back of the hanger, Shuichi turning to wave every ten seconds until he was out of sight.  It was only then that Yuki belatedly waved back.

After a moment, Yazawa approached the writer with an obviously feigned smile on his lips.  "Well, shall we drive to the approximate jump site?"

Yuki hesitated for a moment.  "Yes," he said finally.  "Let's go."  The was going to be bad, he just knew it...

The ride took longer than Yuki had expected and he was surprised when Shuichi's plane didn't pass them for quite some time; it was moving at a speed slower than Yuki was even willing to drive at.  Yazawa drove and Yuki rode in the passenger's side, something he was neither accustomed to nor comfortable with, so Yuki was pleased when the car stopped.

Yazawa pulled a headset out of his coat pocket and put it on, hooking one end over his ear and situating the other so that it was near his mouth.  "Testing set one," he said.  "Shindou-san, can you hear me?"  There was a pause.  "Good.  Set two, do you read?  Taka?  Great.  Are we ready?"

Yuki frowned.  "He's jumping now?"

"Quiet, please."  Yazawa adjusted his headset slightly.  "Shindou-san?"

"What's going on?" Yuki asked.

"Please be quiet," Yazawa said again.  "Aa, sorry, I didn't catch that.  What did you say?"  There was another pause before the instructor turned to Yuki.  "Shindou-san asked me to call you a bastard, and I must say that it feels oddly satisfying to do so."  He ignored Yuki's sputtering.  "All right.  Go."

Yuki looked up at the plane passing overhead and his breath caught in his throat when he saw a tiny dark speck fall from the bulky blur of the plane.  He looked over at Yazawa.  "Is that Shuichi?" he asked.

Yazawa shook his head, watching the sky carefully.  "That's Taka, the cameraman."  He pointed up at the plane again.  "That is Shindou-san."

Yuki looked back up, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun, and saw a lighter colored shape falling after the dark one Yazawa had identified as Taka.  Shuichi.  Yuki bit his lip as he saw both shapes falling.  Taka's parachute released first and Yuki gave Yazawa a sharp look.

"Is it supposed to happen that way?"

"Yes.  Taka deploys first and Shuichi's parachute will--" Yazawa paused.  "Shindou-san why hasn't your parachute released yet?"  Yuki shot Yazawa a look and the instructor nodded.  "All right, that's fine."

The one-sided conversation was getting on Yuki's nerves.  "What's going on?" he asked, never taking his eyes off of Shuichi's rapidly falling form.

"The chute didn't deploy.  Shindou-san is using the cutaway handle now, which will open the main parachute."  As Yazawa spoke, Yuki saw Shuichi's parachute open.  "See?"

Yuki couldn't answer him.  Even though he saw the parachute open and he knew Shuichi wasn't going to become a pink smear on the ground, his heart was still racing.  After all, the boy still had to land.  And although Yazawa was directing the singer from his spot in the car, Yuki knew that something was bound to go wrong; everything had been going far too well for Shuichi and Yuki knew better than to trust the singer to keep the Fates on his side.  Yuki needed a cigarette and he needed one badly but he couldn't bring himself to take his eyes off of Shuichi in order to find the carton he always kept on his person.  This was taking too long and--

"Toggle a little more to the left, and then... There.  Impact."

And it was over.

Letting out one long breath of air, Yuki finally allowed himself to relax just a little.  He waited a moment for Yazawa to say or do something but it didn't happen, so he turned to the instructor and frowned.  "Shouldn't we go see how he is?"

Yazawa hesitated.  "We can if you'd like," he said, "but it's not necessary.  I have Shindou-san on my headset, if you wish to talk to him."

"Drive over."

"One moment."  Yazawa started the engine of the car.  "Shindou-san, we're driving over."

The drive took less than ten minutes.  When Yuki finally saw Shuichi, the boy was struggling with his harness and parachute, trying to untangle them, but he was grinning from ear to ear and he was most definitely very much alive.  The camera man, Taka, who had landed not too far away, had already unhooked his own parachute and was trying to help Shuichi with his, but it really didn't matter that much.  Shuichi, when he saw Yuki and Yazawa drive up, practically slithered out of his harness (a fact which greatly unnerved Yuki; he could have done that in midair!) and ran over.  Once Yuki was out of the car, Shuichi lunged and caught Yuki around the neck, kissing the writer heartily on the lips.

"I did it!" he cried, hugging Yuki tightly.  "Did you see it?  I really did it!"

"And you're not dead," Yuki noted, almost as though he needed verification of some sort.

"And I'm not dead!"  Shuichi laughed.  "I really did it."

"Wonderful."  Normally Yuki would have shoved the singer away by then, embarrassed by the extended physical contact.  This time, however, he returned Shuichi's embrace, squeezing the boy slightly and letting the singer's presence calm his nerves.

Yazawa came up to them, smiling slightly.  "Congratulations, Shindou-san.  You've completed your first jump of the course!"

That caught Yuki's attention.  "First jump?"

Shuichi nodded.  "Didn't I tell you, Yuki?  The static-line course involves almost seventeen jumps, total.  I have to do four more on the static-line before I can do an Accelerated Free Fall jump and they're gonna get higher every time I do it...  Today's jump was just from seventy-seven meters or so, which isn't very high at all.  Isn't that awesome?"

Yuki groaned and shooed Yazawa away.  The instructor left grudgingly.  "You mean I have to go through all of this again?" he asked.

"Unless you want me to just throw away my deposit, and I'm not going to do that no matter what you say!  I spent a lot of money on this and it's a lot of fun and I like it!"  Shuichi was grinning from ear to ear again.  "And there's nothing you can do to stop me, you know, because I--"

Yuki cut Shuichi off in mid-sentence.  "Did I say anything about stopping you?"

Shuichi paused, thinking that over.  "No," he answered incredulously, "you didn't."

Yuki nodded.  "Right.  I don't care if you do it or not, so long as I don't end up dying of a heart attack or something because of it."

"That's not funny, Yuki.  You shouldn't joke about stuff like that."

"Shut up; I'm trying to be nice to you.  Just don't expect me to catch you when things go wrong."

Shuichi smiled.  "I won't."  He hugged the writer tightly.  "Thank you."

---end---