Title: Playing House
Author: Hawk Clowd
Disclaimer: Gravitation does not belong to me. Let's just leave it at that, all right?
Blood Type: vodka. It's good for you, really.
Warnings: very few.
Part: one. If I'm lucky, this one won't last all that long.
Author's Notes: I don't like kids.
"Hey, Yuki? What's up with this message on the answering machine?"
Eiri jerked away from his computer, startled. He hadn't heard Shuichi come in; the singer had been living with him for a little over seven months or so and Eiri had grown so accustomed to Shuichi's loudly intoned 'I'm home!' every weekday that he had learned to tune it out entirely. This, of course, meant that he never knew exactly when Shuichi returned from work anymore. It was hell on Eiri's nerves, but Shuichi enjoyed the way he could sometimes make the writer jump in surprise.
"What message?" Eiri asked, saving his current document and exiting his study to see Shuichi peering curiously at the answering machine. The singer had apparently just returned; his face was flushed from the early summer heat and he was only just now removing his backpack.
"You didn't hear it when the lady recorded it?" Shuichi asked, peeling his shirt off his sweaty body and moving to collapse spread-eagle on the floor. "Jeez, I love having air conditioning so much..."
The phone was another thing Eiri had learned to ignore over time. "No, I didn't hear it," Eiri answered. "What is it?"
"It's too hot to move. Press the button yourself." Shuichi's arm flopped uselessly on the floor. "Why oh why didn't I accept a ride from Hiro? Then I wouldn't have had to walk home in this heat."
Eiri frowned. "It's only May," he noted. "The hot months haven't even started up yet."
"It's June, dummy, and it's hot!" Shuichi sighed, feigning exhaustion. "Just go ahead and listen to that message."
Consenting, Eiri hit the button on the answering machine. He skipped two messages from Mizuki, the editor of doom, which he'd already heard, and one from Shuichi's producer, who was spazzing about something, before he finally reached the end of the tape and the newest message began to play.
"Are you still planning on taking all of the kids to the park on the nineteenth, like you said you were going to? I'm sure you haven't noticed, since you're always cooped up in your apartment, but there's a bit of a heat wave going on right now and you'll have to take extra care of them all if you take them outside, since I know that I, for one, won't like it if you give my baby back and she's died of heat exhaustion. I was thinking the movies might be a better idea, or even to a concert. I'm sure you, of all people, could arrange something like that. Think about it. Anyway, we'll see you on the eighteenth! Bye!"
The machine blipped off and Shuichi, who had apparently recovered from his imaginary heatstroke, sat up. "So what do you think? Wrong number?"
Eiri shook his head. "I doubt it. You said it was June, now?"
"Yeah. So what?"
"Father's Day is coming up."
Shuichi blinked, confused, and then got up and followed Eiri into the kitchen. "What does that have to do with anything, Yuki? I mean, it's not like you--" He paused and stopped himself in mid-sentence. "You have kids?"
Eiri nodded and pulled a beer out of the fridge. "Yes. Do you want anything to drink?"
"How many kids do you have?" Shuichi asked, and, when Eiri didn't answer, he pressed on. "Yuki, how many?"
Popping his can and nudging the refrigerator door shut, Eiri shrugged. "Four, I think."
"You think? You don't know?"
"I only know about four of them. We'll put it that way." Eiri took a long swig of his beer. He had the feeling he was going to need even more of the mind-fogging beverage before the day was out. "I thought I'd told you about them already. And if I hadn't, you probably should have guessed it. My reputation as a womanizer is as widely recognized as my success as a writer, after all. Given all the women I've screwed around with, I was bound to wind up with a bastard or four." The writer, catching sight of Shuichi's face, frowned. "What?"
"Four different mothers, too?" Shuichi questioned.
"Well, yes. Why is this such a shock to you? I send each of them stipends every month and it isn't as if you don't go through my checkbook all the time when you think I'm not paying attention to you. Didn't you ever wonder why I sent out four checks to four different women every month?"
Shuichi sputtered. "I thought they were publishing companies with super weird names!"
Eiri quirked an eyebrow. "Why would I pay off my publishers? They're the ones who give me my paycheck."
"I can't believe you never told me about this," Shuichi said, his misery and distress evident in his face. When Eiri did not respond, Shuichi questioned him further. "How old are they? Your kids?"
Eiri thought a moment. "Miho is the oldest and she's five. Hibiki and Namiko are three and two, respectively, and Buffy is just under a year old, I believe. Buffy's mother is an English linguist and she named the girl after an American television show. I would have stopped her, but I wasn't given any say in the matter."
"So who was on the phone?"
Eiri shrugged. "Don't know. I also don't care. Not Buffy's mother, I'm sure."
"Why not hers? Are you two fighting?"
"What would we be fighting about?" Eiri frowned. "For one thing, that woman likes to jabber in bad English whenever possible, and she knows that I can speak the language. For another... Well, every Father's Day I take the brats for the weekend and spend a little time with them. Buffy is still a baby, however, and I've made it very clear that I will not take care of anyone under the age of two." He paused. "This will be Namiko's first Father's Day with me, now that I think about it."
Shuichi's mouth was hanging open as he stared, wide-eyed, at the writer.
Eiri shot the singer a look. "You're not going to start crying, are you?" he asked.
Shuichi shook his head slowly. "I think I've gone into shock. This... It's a lot to take in all at one time, you know? You're the father of four kids and I never even knew about it."
"You're being very adult about this," Eiri observed.
"Yeah." Shuichi swallowed. "I think... I think I'm gonna stay at Hiro's tonight, okay? Do you mind?"
"Do what you want." Eiri paused as Shuichi turned to leave. "You'll be back tomorrow?"
Shuichi nodded. "Yeah, after work. And we're probably gonna have a lot to talk about. Have a good night, Yuki."
---to be continued---