Author: Hawk Clowd
Disclaimer: So far as I know, I own nothing. Gravitation belongs to Maki Murakami and I wouldn't take it away from her for anything in the world. I just like to play.
Blood Type: Something flammable -- times two! -- simply because you could light a match and both Ryuichi and Tatsuha would be on fire.
Warnings: Very few.
Author's Note: Ladies and gentlemen, I present... the end. Many thanks go out to Aja, who was a fantastic beta reader throughout this whole shebang. Her input helped make "Dizzy" the monster it is, and I honestly couldn't have done it without her. Thank you, Aja. Also, thanks go out to all you lovely readers. I don't know many of you, but I appreciate everyone putting up with me despite my late updates, complaints, and other such hassles. You are all wonderful. Don't forget that. And, to close, this story is dedicated to Bates. May he be happy and find the answers he was looking for!
Shuichi's music room was arguably the cleanest room in the entire apartment, at least under normal circumstances. Tatsuha had been shocked at the near spotlessness of the room when he had first seen it, and Eiri had grunted to say that he didn't quite believe it, either. Shuichi only laughed and swore that even he could be neat and tidy when the need called for it. Whatever that meant.
The room had a computer set up on a table in the corner and a keyboard next to that, set up so it was easy to hook up to the computer for editing and saving purposes. There was a bookshelf against the opposite wall, and it was about half full of notebooks and music texts Shuichi used for reference. A few posters of various bands were on the wall -- all signed, of course -- and Shuichi had somehow purloined the plaque given to Bad Luck when their first album went platinum; he had hung it proudly on the wall directly opposite of the door, so it was the first thing a person would see when he or she walked inside the music room.
In the middle of the floor were two beanbag chairs, one blue and one orange. In those two chairs sat Shuichi and Ryuichi. A small collection of beer bottles lay on the floor at Ryuichi's feet and two or three empty bottles rested by the beanbag chair in which Shuichi sat. Ryuichi had one bottle, about three-fourths of the way empty, in one hand, and was loosely holding onto Kumagoro with the other hand.
Shuichi and Ryuichi both stared at Tatsuha when he walked inside, and Tatsuha was struck dumb for almost a full minute. Then, finally, he cleared his throat.
"Um," he said. "Hi."
Shuichi immediately started to chatter nervously. "Tatsuha! Tatsuha, you should... Have a beer!" he cried, throwing himself out of his beanbag chair. "Sakuma-san and I weren't talking about anything to do with you, I promise, we were just talking about --"
"Music," Ryuichi supplied.
"Music," Shuichi agreed. "And... and... and about other things! Like, um..."
"More music," Ryuichi said.
"Right, more music. And I --"
"Was just leaving," Tatsuha said. It had, after all, worked for Ryuichi.
"Yeah, I was just... What?"
Tatsuha glanced at Ryuichi and met his gaze almost entirely by accident. He held it. "You were just leaving, Shuichi. Because Sakuma-san and I need to talk about something really, really important. In private."
Ryuichi tightened his grip on Kumagoro. "He's right," he said. His voice sounded cheerful, but his face did not quite match; his lips were twisted in a painful smile and his eyes were open just a little too wide to be natural. "We have lots to talk about."
Shuichi chewed on his lower lip and looked from Tatsuha to Ryuichi and back again. "But... I should really..."
"Lots to talk about," Ryuichi said again, glancing momentarily at the younger singer before he went back to staring at Tatsuha. "Tatsuha-kun always has lots to say to me."
"Yeah, but..." Shuichi shifted on the balls of his feet and then finally conceded. "Well, okay, but you just pop your head out and yell if you need anything or if --"
"We'll be fine," Tatsuha assured Shuichi.
Shuichi mewled once and then left the room, shutting the door behind him. Neither Tatsuha nor Ryuichi said anything for several minutes, so Tatsuha used the silence to think for a moment and collect his thoughts. This time he wouldn't let himself get caught up in Ryuichi's spell. This time it would be different. This time... This time he would be able to say no and mean it. Yeah. Of course he would.
Tatsuha cleared his throat. "Saku --"
"Sit down," Ryuichi said, nodding to the beanbag chair Shuichi had recently abandoned.
Tatsuha made a step forward before his brain caught up and he stopped himself. Sitting in the chair meant he would be closer to Ryuichi, and he wasn't sure he could be quite that strong. He shook his head. "I'd rather stand for now."
Ryuichi shrugged. "Okay."
Tatsuha was quiet for a long moment. He couldn't do this. If he tried saying what he needed to say, Ryuichi would just put him back under that spell of his and draw him away from his point. Not that being under Ryuichi's spell was a wholly bad thing. Still...
He had to do this. Had to. Now it was just a matter of getting up the nerve to do so.
Ryuichi brought his beer bottle back to his lips and eyed Tatsuha while he drank from it. He was being careful, Tatsuha noted, not to make the first move. Why? Was he afraid Tatsuha would run away? Or had he finally learned from his previous mistakes not to be so overwhelming? Or was Tatsuha just imagining things?
Tatsuha shifted nervously on the balls of his feet. Okay. He would start with little things first. Little things. Little things like... He chewed the inside of his cheek. This was not supposed to be this hard.
"I talked to Tohma today," he said at last. "After I left your place."
Ryuichi frowned and held his bottle by the neck. "Tohma shouldn't put his nose into other people's business. Don't listen to him." There were no traces of silliness or youthfulness in his face anymore. Suddenly Tatsuha could see trace wrinkles around Ryuichi's eyes and deep lines etched into the singer's face. It bothered Tatsuha, simply because the sudden transformation was so unsettling, but he pressed on.
"Actually," Tatsuha said, "he made some good points."
Tatsuha laughed in spite of himself. "Just some," he said. "But I think I caught him off guard. He made this funny chipmunk face and..." He was getting off the subject. He steeled himself. "Look, my point is... Well, you're an asshole."
Ryuichi drew back a bit. "What?"
Tatsuha took a deep breath. "You're an asshole," he said again. He sighed, relieved. It was good to get that off of his chest.
Tatsuha nodded. "We're only supposed to be 'just friends' now, remember? I've been thinking about this since earlier. When I left last year, we agreed we would send messages back and forth and we would start as friends. That was it." He notched his thumbs in his pants pockets. "And maybe we're both assholes, because I know when I first got here I wasn't interested in being 'just friends' anymore, either, but that's where we agreed we were supposed go with things and that's where we should go with it."
Ryuichi frowned. "You don't actually want to be nothing but friends," he accused.
"I know," Tatsuha said. "But I don't want... Look, I like you. It's not much of a confession, I know, and it's not exactly news, but it's true. I've wanted to meet you since I was four and I think I've been dreaming of you since I was eleven. There were -- and still are -- posters of you and Nittle Grasper all over my room. It used to drive Eiri crazy because he shared a room for a few years. People tell me I've been obsessed with you since I was a little kid, but you already knew that. So yes, I like you. Or I like the person I thought you were -- the one whose posters I put up on my wall and whose interviews and stuff I listened to religiously."
"But I'm --"
Tatsuha held up a hand. "I know. You and the guy I idolized aren't the same person. Well, you are, but at the same time you're not. We went over this last summer. The problem is -- I think -- that I don't know the you who is really you. Not very well, anyway. And I kind of think I should. You know, just in case."
"Just in case of what?" Ryuichi asked. He was still eyeing Tatsuha, but his face did not reveal anything. Was he relieved? Angry? Confused? Annoyed? Tatsuha wasn't sure he was making a great deal of sense, but Ryuichi's expression did not hint one way or the other. Did he or didn't he understand?
Tatsuha hesitated. "Just in case I do want to be more than 'just friends' with you." He bit his the inside of his cheek for a second and then licked his lips. "You understand?"
"You don't want to be a plaything because you actually want to get to know me before you pursue a relationship," Ryuichi said. "In case I break your heart. Right?"
How was it that Ryuichi could take everything Tatsuha had said and condense it into one or two easy sentences? He was like Eiri that way, and Tatsuha almost let that bother him.
He nodded. "More or less, yeah." Tatsuha paused and then quickly went on again. "And it works both ways, too! So you'll get to know me really well and know if you really want to be more than friends before we do start sleeping with each other. Then you'll know whether or not it's worth letting me break your heart. Or hurt you. Or whatever."
Ryuichi frowned. "What really makes you think all that is going to make a difference?"
Ryuichi shook his head and pointed to the still-open beanbag chair. "Sit down."
This time, Tatsuha did as he was told, and he waited. Ryuichi studied Tatsuha for a few moments, his eyes sharp and critical. For a moment the younger man did not think Ryuichi would say anything but, just as Tatsuha began trying to think of a way to change the subject, Ryuichi opened his mouth to speak.
"Have you ever had the feeling," Ryuichi began, "that everything that's going on is really just a dream?"
Tatsuha studied Ryuichi carefully. "Only when I'm sleeping," he answered.
Ryuichi ignored him. "Sometimes, right in the middle of ordinary things, I get this weird humming noise in my head." He made a few small, tiny hand gestures to illustrate this, mostly spinning his fingers around his head. "And everything glows a little around the edges. It happens a lot when I'm on stage. I feel like I'm the only person alive and everything else is just a figment of my imagination." He paused. "It's not a bad feeling, but sometimes it's a little... scary, you know? It makes me feel like nothing in the world can touch me and when it's done I come crashing back. You get it?"
"Not really," Tatsuha answered honestly. "Maybe it's something you have to go through to really understand."
"No," Ryuichi said, shaking his head. "Because I don't get it either."
"Oh." Tatsuha idly scratched his wrist. He didn't see how Ryuichi's dream-speech was at all relevant to their own situation or to anything that had happened to them over the course of the day, but that didn't worry him too much. He didn't know what to do from here, so maybe it was better to let this happen a little more naturally. If Ryuichi wanted to talk about the weather, Tatsuha wasn't about to stop him.
"It's like any high, I guess," Ryuichi mused. "Did you ever do drugs? I did them a few times right before I turned twenty. They aren't worth it. I mean, I thought they were at the time, and sometimes I still think they were, but they really weren't. Aren't. You know what I mean."
Still, Shuichi was bound to come back into the room eventually, and they should try to resolve this as quickly as they could, right? Right. So...
"Sakuma-san, I --"
Ryuichi frowned and Tatsuha stopped talking. Shit. He was doomed. Ryuichi had already caught him back under that spell and he wasn't going to be able to do anything about it and then... And then what? Tatsuha chewed on his lower lip. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do from here, or what was going on. Now what? He shifted awkwardly in the beanbag chair and the chair moved beneath him. His stomach lurched.
"You surprise me all the time," Ryuichi said. He seemed stunned by his own words. "Not a lot of people can do that anymore, but not a lot of people can treat me like a person anymore, either." He shook his head. "You, though. You don't even care when I tell you I have to dye my hair to keep the grays from showing or that I layer on makeup to hide my wrinkles. I'm twice your age and you don't care, even though I don't act like an idiot around you. Often."
Tatsuha started to say something, but stopped himself.
Ryuichi went on. "And you know why I do it all, too -- I told you why last summer. But you still..." He ran a hand through his hair. "All that stuff I was saying about the dreams? Well, you sometimes make me feel that way but without all the scary parts. S'like you keep me grounded. That's one reason why I like you -- I like the person I am when you're around, because that person doesn't have to hide all the time. You know?"
"And that's why you keep playing with me like this?" Tatsuha asked.
"Kind of," Ryuichi said. He shrugged. "Not exactly. I'm selfish. You're cute. And I like you." He folded his hands over Kumagoro's chest and half-closed his eyes. "I have to keep playing or else you're going to lose interest."
Tatsuha paused a moment to digest that information. "Who told you that?" he asked.
"No one had to." Ryuichi frowned. "I know enough about you from the stories Tohma tells to know that you take after your brother. The sleeping around thing, I mean. You don't hang around for relationships. You flit back and forth between people and beds and all of that. So that must mean you get bored easy." He quirked an eyebrow. "Right?"
Tatsuha had never thought of it that way before, but Ryuichi had a point. He slept with all sorts of women and men just because he quickly grew tired of that kind of thing, and he hadn't exactly been chaste the entire year since he had left Tokyo the previous summer. He didn't like it and he wanted desperately to defend himself, but he wasn't sure he could. Ryuichi was right, and he had been a little hypocritical so far as Ryuichi's girlfriend was concerned. He hesitated and then, finally, nodded. "I guess so."
Ryuichi nodded. "Thought so." He relaxed into the beanbag chair. "And I didn't want you to know it bugged me, y'know? So I got Alison. The model."
Ah. Yeah. That had been Tatsuha's next question -- or it had been before Ryuichi had pointed out that Tatsuha had yet to give up his licentious habits. He squirmed a little in the beanbag chair. "And how exactly do you feel about her?"
Ryuichi frowned. "Alison -- that's her name -- is great and she's my friend. Using her to get to you was... probably a really bad idea."
Tatsuha frowned at Ryuichi. "You were using her to get to me?"
Ryuichi suddenly looked timid and uncertain -- he reminded Tatsuha of a small child. "I kept hearing about all those girlfriends and stuff you had from Tohma and Mika-san and Shuichi and it bothered me, so I wanted to bother you, too." He glanced surreptitiously at Tatsuha. "Did it work?"
"Maybe." It still wasn't fair, what Ryuichi had done -- not to him or to Alison or to anyone -- but Tatsuha smiled anyway. Ryuichi returned it.
So now what? Tatsuha considered that. What did this make them? It should not have been such a difficult question to answer.
Tatsuha hesitated. "Friends?" he suggested.
Ryuichi nodded. "Sure." He paused a moment and then leaned in confidentially, his expression both determined and mischievous. "I wouldn't count on it staying that way for too long, though."
Tatsuha was momentarily taken aback, but he got over it quickly. "We'll see," he said. Despite his lustier inclinations, they were going to work this one at his pace. Something a little slower than normal, too. Maybe. Although going slower would certainly be easier if Ryuichi would stop giving him that sexy come-hither look.
"Should we kiss and make up?" Ryuichi asked in a low voice.
Tatsuha pretended to consider that. "I think we should," he agreed. Okay, he had never been very good at 'slow'.
Ryuichi climbed out of his beanbag chair, leaving Kumagoro behind to play voyeur, and knelt in front of Tatsuha, who leaned forward and closed the distance between their lips. It was a slow and careful kiss that quickly became less than chaste. As the kiss deepened, Ryuichi moved closer, guided by Tatsuha, until the singer was perched overtop of Tatsuha, leaning over him. Tatsuha ran his hand down the knobs of Ryuichi's spine and pressed against the small of Ryuichi's back. Tatsuha seriously considered letting his libido take over, but decided against it and, at last, pulled away from the kiss.
"Friends," he reminded Ryuichi.
Ryuichi nodded. "Friends who kiss," he agreed. "And maybe more later on?"
Tatsuha nodded. "We'll find out." He smiled again.
Ryuichi grinned and stood up, holding out a hand to help Tatsuha to his feet. "So," he began, "there's going to be this party tonight at K-san's house. You wanna go with me?" He glanced sideways at the teenager. "As friends who kiss?"
Tatsuha nodded. "Sure," he answered. What could one party hurt?
Besides, he and Ryuichi still had plenty of time to figure out where they were going and how to deal with each other before Tatsuha went home to Kyoto. Maybe Ryuichi didn't quite love him, but at least he had at least guaranteed Ryuichi as a friend, and that was almost as good.