Sometimes it takes an outside force to help you finally realize things. Gravitation is strong, but some emotions are overpowering…

Stripped - by Kloudy Reignfall

Summary: As the band Nittle Grasper begins to fade into the background, new competition arises for Bad Luck. And its name is - Christina Aguilera?! She and her music are having a strange effect on the Gravitation cast, bringing to light doubts and forgotten emotions. It seems like trouble, but perhaps it's just what is needed to help them finally realize…

WARNINGS!: So, obviously this is semi-AU. (Really, what's the chance of Christina Aguilera actually showing up in Grav?) And it might end up being a little (or maybe even a lot, who knows?) OOC.

I called it a "Romance/Angst" mostly because there wasn't an option that said "All." It was originally supposed to be partially humor, but oh well. I plan to let this story go where it takes me. It'll probably have a little bit of everything. (Expect a ton of Drama, Romance, and likely Angst. But still some humor, don't worry too much.)

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Gravitation or Christina Aguilera. In fact, I own very little. I have nothing against Christina Aguilera (if I did, I certainly wouldn't be listening to her music).

This is the absolute weirdest idea I've ever had! And that's saying something! Well, that's what I get for listening to the Stripped album after reading Grav fan fiction.

Anyway… Read on, dear fans!

Track One - Stripped Part One (The introduction)

All was well in the Shindou household. People were minding their own business, and not annoying anyone else. And then a heart-stopping noise was heard.

"OH MY GOD!!!!!!!" and a Fan-girl-ish squeal came from the direction of … Maiko's room.

Shuichi ran out into the living room. "What's wrong?! Who's dying?!"

His mom looked up from the sink smiling lightly, as usual, and said, "Your sister." She continued to do the dishes.

He ran into Maiko's room to investigate.

"Maiko! Are you ok? What's wrong? Where are you hurt?" Shuichi was oddly concerned for his little sister. But when he found her he calmed down a little bit. She was just talking on the phone. Still, he wanted to know what was such a big deal. "Maiko, what's going on?"

She looked up from the magazine she was fawning over. "Christina Aguilera is coming here!!!" she said, while waving the magazine in front of her brother's face.

He grabbed it and scanned the page. It read:

Christina Aguilera, one of America's top pop stars, in going on tour in Japan. Over the past year the star has gained much recognition and a dedicated following in Japan. Women love her for the powerful message she sends to young girls, encouraging them to take a stand and achieve their goals. Men love her for her beautiful voice and stunning looks.

Her scheduled concerts are already sold out across the country. With Christina's popularity on the rise, critics believe that she may soon surpass even Bad Luck on the pop charts. While what exactly will be the outcome is a mystery, there is no denying that Japan is in for some major change at the hands of Christina Aguilera.

He looked up to find Maiko staring at him happily. She sighed. "Christina Aguilera is so-o-o-o-o cool! She actually understands what it's like to be a teenage girl in today's oppressive society! And she's so… powerful!" She swooned and fell back onto her pillows. Then she sat up suddenly and gasped. "I have to go to one of her concerts! I have to see her! Oh my God, I just have to! Where am I going to get a ticket?!" And she slumped back again, depressed at the thought of not being able to see her idol.

Shuichi finally blinked. All his concern for his sister was gone. So-o-o-o-o gone. Out the window, down the drain. It never existed. He was confused and annoyed. "Maiko?! Whatever happened to supporting Bad Luck? I thought we were your idols! I thought we "rocked your lame ass"! And now you're supporting our rival?! How could you?!" At choking out this last sentence he began to cry. Pathetic little tears dripped down his face.

As much as Maiko loved Christina Aguilera, she couldn't stand to see her poor older brother cry. "Oh, no! No, I still support you, Shu! And don't worry! She's not really popular enough to be your rival yet!" She tried to consol Shuichi but he still sniffled.

He smiled at her attempt to make him feel better. "Thanks Maiko. I'm just having a bad day."

Maiko frowned. When was he not having a bad day? Something was always bothering him. "Yeah, but you don't usually cry this easily. Well, not unless someone eats the last of the pocky or something. What's the matter? Are you PMSing?"

He laughed and chocked on a sob. "Sorry, I'm just a little stressed lately. About Yuki, you know?"

She sighed and shook her head. Ever since Shuichi had started seeing the moody novelist he came home about once a week, crying his eyes out. And Maiko had been a really big Eiri Yuki fan before this. Now she kinda hated the bastard. (His romance novels were still really great, maybe even better, but the author himself really pissed her off.) Her brother deserved much better treatment than that.

Shuichi kept talking, not really caring if his sister was listening or not. He just had to talk. "There's just so much! I always want to be with him, but he seems like he's ashamed of me or something. And it really hurts to see him act like that! But I keep going back and letting him do it again. I mean, I…I love him." He began to weep again.

"Hmm. You know, that is just the kind of stuff that Christina Aguilera sings! Her songs are so-o-o-o-o inspirational!"

'Oh, great,' Shuichi thought. 'I've got her started on that again.' "Why don't you just tell her you're in love?"

Maiko smacked him upside the head. "Oh, shut up you! Anyway, like I said, you shouldn't worry about stupid Yuki. You can get by fine by yourself!"

"Sure…" Shuichi got up off the floor and walked back to his room, nodding to his mom on the way. ("Oh, Shuichi, are you staying the night, sweetie?") He flopped onto his bed and stared up at the ceiling fan. Maybe he shouldn't worry about Yuki. Maybe…But he really did love him too much to ever forget about him. And even if it drove him crazy to be with someone who might not love him back, it would be even worse not to be with him.

Shuichi rolled over and curled into a ball. Hugging his pillow and wishing it was something else, he fell into a dreamful sleep.

………………………………............................................................................................................

Shuichi woke to hear new voices floating in from the living room. They sounded familiar but he couldn't put a face to them just yet.

Groggily he pulled himself out of bed and changed clothes. Not caring to comb his hair he pushed into the living room - and stopped to stare wide mouthed at his parent's company.

K, his band's manager, looked up from his tea with a grin. "Oh, good morning, Sleepyhead! It's a good thing you're ready. We were just about to come wake you up!" By 'We' Shuichi knew he meant 'Me and my 44 magnum'.

Shuichi managed to pull his face into the shape of something other than a gaping hole. "Why are you here?" Shuichi asked, hoping for his safety's sake that he didn't sound too rude.

K smiled as he explained. "I realized that I didn't have your home phone number when I went to call you at Yuki's, but you weren't there!" He continued to smile, a little too much, making Shuichi glance nervously at K's pocket. "The asshole wouldn't give your number to me, so I just decided to take a drive and come get you."

…Shuichi forced an apprehensive smile to his face. "And where are we going, K?"

He blinked. Smiled again and cocked his head. "Practice, dear Shuichi! You remember what practice is, right?"

And suddenly K's tone of voice made Shuichi remember exactly why K might have been so mad at him today. It might have something to do with the band practice he'd been missing for the past week.

"Heh, heh. Yeah. Practice. I remember that…"

K stood. "Good. Now that that's settled, we should be going." He bowed politely to Mr. And Mrs. Shindou and pulled Shuichi out the door by the collar.

It wasn't until they got in the car and down the road that K became his real self again. With a steel barrel to Shuichi's head he said, "Miss another day and I'll use your head as target practice. Okay?"

Shuichi nodded fervently. Although he no longer believed that K would carry through with one of his threats, you could never be too sure. And that cold steel never failed to make him nervous. He sighed relief when K took the gun down and continued down the road.

"Why have you been missing practice anyway?" he asked conversationally. "Sakano's been about to have a cow."

Sighing, Shuichi wondered why he put up with this stuff. Being a vocalist was a hard job. And no privacy either! Everyone always wanted to know what you were up to. He thought about what he'd tell K. He tried to think of the actual reason but found that there wasn't any way to explain it. "I…I just haven't been in the best of moods lately."

K grinned. It might have actually been a smirk, but you couldn't really tell with him. "What, is it that time of the month again?" he asked, definitely now grinning. "It seems like you go through this a lot."

Shuichi growled. "What is it with you people?! I'm not… I'm just… Grr!" He put his head in his hands, trying to think of a way to explain to everybody what he was going through. Nobody ever seemed to understand the stress of his life. "I've been really stressed about everything okay?"

K didn't respond, only laughed quietly, which made Shuichi even angrier. But soon they pulled to a stop and his anger was forgotten.

"Why are we here?" he asked K, looking out the windshield at the building in front of them. It was just a small-ish bar in an area of downtown. On one side was a corner café and on the other, a small family owned bookstore. Shuichi had been to this bar a couple of times, under rather strange circumstances. As he thought about it, that seemed so long ago, but he didn't remember how long it had actually been.

K led the way to the door as he answered Shuichi's question. "Mika rented it out for us for to use for practice. The studio has a termite infestation, but of course you wouldn't know." He cast a glance over his shoulder. "We're here for at least a week."

'It could be worse,' he thought as he followed K into the dark bar. 'Let's just hope everyone's not too mad.'

It was very cold inside. It even looked cold. Everything was elegant: green marble, glass, or polished cherry wood. To the left of the entrance was the bar, behind which stood the bartender, who nodded to them in greeting. To the left was a wide room and about twenty small round tables. Behind those was the stage, upon which the rest of the band sat idly.

They stood when they saw Shuichi. Sakano looked relieved, Suguru's lips twitched into a smile, and Hiroshi stepped hurriedly off the stage to greet him.

"Hey! I'm glad you didn't decide to up and quit the band. We wouldn't be nearly as popular without a singer." He smiled broadly and Shuichi was glad to see that they didn't all hate him at least.

"No, I just-"

He's been about to explain his absence (if anyone, Hiro deserved an explanation) when a greenish-brownish blur launched itself at him.

"HI!" Ryuichi said from atop Shuichi. "Where've ya been? Kumagorou has missed you!" He held the stuffed pink rabbit up to Shuichi's face. "Too bad you've been gone! We've been having a lot a fun while you were away!" Several people rolled their eyes at this. "I've been subbing for you!"

Shuichi sat up and the other fell off of him. He smiled and shook his head. It was amazing that Ryuichi, who was a full-grown and successful adult, could still act like a little child. (And it was amazing how Shuichi could be the exact same when he wasn't wallowing in depression.) But the two of them got along perfectly well and seeing Ryuichi cheered him up immensely.

That was all it took to get him back into the groove. Shuichi and Hiro got back up on stage with Suguru and began the long-awaited practice. Even if it had only been a week since he'd last sang, it felt like forever. It was nice to finally be back to normal again. As he sung, Shuichi's problems seemed to melt away.

………………………………...........................................................................................................

"Okay, let's just try it one more time, and then we can call it a night."

The room was filled with music once again. By now Ryuichi was bored. He'd been told by K that he had to sit down, and stop interrupting Shuichi while he was trying to work. He wasn't even allowed to sing along. So to entertain himself he was quietly playing "I spy" with Kumagorou. He was losing badly, so he glanced around behind him to find something really good.

"I spy with my little eye, something… ooh!" Ryuichi bounced up out of his chair and scurried to the front of the bar where a figure was standing in the shadows. Cautiously he approached it, like a tiger stalking its prey. Or like a curious puppy who'd been beat a few too many times. Whichever you prefer.

"Whoa!" He jumped when the figure moved into the light. It was a… a pretty blonde lady with crimped hair and who was wearing not very much clothing. "Who are you?" he asked, as he got right up in her face. "You're not in the band." Suddenly he turned to the rest of the band who had just finished the song, and shouted. "Hey, we have a visitor!"

Dragging the girl along with him Ryuichi skipped up to the stage where the rest of the people were sitting/standing/leaning. He turned to her. "Introduce yourself!" he said with a grin!

The blonde girl stood there, slightly stunned, but recomposed herself quickly. "My name is Christina Aguilera," she said to nobody in particular. "And you must be Bad Luck."

Now it was the group's turn to be stunned. But only one of them was stunned for the right reason. They thought this girl to be another rabid fan. Usually they didn't go so far as to stalk the band, and it was amazing that one had actually found them in such a random place. But Shuichi's overactive mind pin-pointed the name instantly.

He stood agape, staring at this woman. And then he stuttered. "You…you're Christina Aguilera?!" For a few moments he tried to find something to say, some way to prove that this was in fact his newest possible rival. "Then, um…uh… Then sing!"

Her face stayed blank as she walked up to the other vocalist. "You're a cutie," she said to him. "All that voice comes from you? Hmm. What's your name?"

As always when his talent was questioned, Shuichi was outraged. And loud. "I'm Shuichi Shindou, and this is my chart-topping band, Bad Luck!"

"And who are you all?" Christina asked. She pointed in turn to the others as they introduced themselves. Suguru and Hiro were obviously apprehensive, Sakano shook and stuttered, and K glared at her, untrusting. Then Ryuichi bounced back up to her.

"Hi! I'm Ryuichi! And this is Kumagorou," he said, gesturing to the pink stuffed bunny he constantly carried.

"Nice to meet you," she said to Ryuichi before turning back to Shuichi. "Okay, Shuichi Shindou, I'll sing for you. Tomorrow night, right here. I'll sing for you."

And with a mischievous smile, a glint in her eyes, she turned and walked out, leaving everyone staggered, except Ryuichi who had followed her out the door.

All was quiet for a moment. And then came the mousiest noise they'd ever heard. "Sh-Shindou, what was that?" Sakano whispered.

Quite the contrary to Sakano's whisper, Shuichi let loose a howl not unlike a banshee. "WHY?! WHY ME?" he cried as he sank dramatically to his knees.

They all blinked down at the pathetic ball of pinkish something writhing on the floor.

"So, see you all tomorrow?" Hiro asked. They all muttered in agreement and went their ways. Stooping down, Hiro half picked up Shuichi and proceeded to drag the bundle of sobbing mess to his car.

Finally when they were standing outside Yuki's apartment Shuichi stopped crying enough for Hiro to ask what was going on.

It almost looked like he'd let loose a flood again, but Shuichi held it in. He just let himself look slightly depressed instead. "Oh. Well, she's famous and she's probably going to take over our spot as chart toppers." He explained this rather calmly for having been so erratic only moments before.

Hiro finally looked like he understood. But instead of looking angry or nervous, he just smiled, typical Hiro. "I guess that means we'll just have to show her up then, right?"

Shuichi nodded and unlocked the apartment door. "Don't forget, okay?" Hiro called as Shuichi stepped inside. He closed the door and sat down on the couch, sighing and thinking about how much his life sucked sometimes. But before he even had time to form one coherent thought, Yuki appeared in the living room.

Looking up from the spot on the floor at which he'd been staring, Shuichi saw what he thought had to be the most wonderful sight ever. Yuki stood there, looking rather unkempt in just a pair of gray sweatpants and his glasses. His hair needed combing and his eyes were bloodshot, and his smile was hardly noticeable, but Shuichi was awestruck all the same. He squealed and jumped up, glomping the older man enthusiastically. "Yuki, Yuki, Yuki! I'm so glad to see you!"

Yuki smiled, a smile so slight only Shuichi would have been able to tell, and let the pink-haired boy wrap his arms around him and burry his head in his neck. He sat down on the couch and hugged Shuichi to him comfortably. "You're quite enthusiastic tonight," he commented.

"Yeah," Shuichi muttered into Yuki's neck. "I've had a weird day. First K shows up at my house and threatens me to make me go to practice, and then we couldn't get this one song right, and then this beautiful girl shows up and we're all going to watch her sing after practice tomorrow. She's so perfect and she's a singer, too and I'm really kinda scared about her, and" Shuichi continued to mumble semi-incoherently.

He'd only been half listening, but this last part sunk in to Yuki's head. She's so perfect and she's a singer too. As he realized what Shuichi had said, his eyes narrowed and he tensed.

Suddenly Shuichi found himself dumped on the floor, Yuki standing angrily over him. "I'm going to bed, so leave me alone." And with that, he stormed off to his room and slammed the door. This left poor Shuichi, totally confused and hurt, to sleep on the couch once more and wonder.

'Why do I always put up with this?' he thought with a sigh. 'Why do I always come back?'

End Track One

Okay, so I left it on a rather sad note, but it's the best place for it.

Anyway, how did you like my first attempt at a Gravitation fic?! I thought it was okay…Better than my other stories anyway. Well, I've already got chapter two written, just to let you know, but I won't post it until I finish writing chapter three. I do this so that I don't give up on it altogether. And I won't post it at all if I don't get enough reviews, so PLEASE review! PLEASE! I love them!

By the way, if any of you have any ideas for me at all, I'd be super glad to hear them! Especially if you think you know what I should classify the story as. (It's not really humor, and it's not really angst, but it's not completely romance…. What do you think?)