Disclaimer: Nothing in this story is mine. Every character belongs to Maki Murakami.
A/N: I would like to thank my wonderful beta i-satin, who spent so much of her valuable time correcting the several mistakes in this rubbish story. I truly appreciate her kindness and her expertise. -Lances
Low beat, deep beat, music as sensual as a geisha's earlobe yet as sinful as the mind of a Moulin Rogue whore. Music, deceiving when not luring and seducing; music that pulsated through the body, yet never left a lasting touch. Sweat dripping, clothes slipping, exciting scents and shapes invading confused senses. Intriguing drinks quenching the thirst where the blinding, scorching lights created it. Hot air, cool air, mixed together where the glass doors stood open, overlooking the enormous balcony that was actually the skyscraper's high roof. Shimmering jewelry, false modesty, movement that never ceased; all hope abandoned and found anew, all sins forgotten and soon committed again.
Sakuma Ryuichi was dancing in the middle of the crowded dance floor, hot and sweaty and surrounded by strangers. He kept his eyes constantly closed, intentionally submerged in a world that was completely his own, allowing yet not wholly acknowledging everything that was happening around him. Hands coming and going, both male and female, touching him, sliding underneath his shirt and across his skin. Nails scraping his shoulders and neck, drawing delighted gasps and smiles from his moist, halfway parted lips, making him throw his head back in masochistic ecstasy.
Tonight, Sakuma Ryuichi was the epitome of delirium far gone. Clad in black leather and white silk, he was more gorgeous than any of Lucifer's shadiest angels, and more drunk than the rest of the bar's crowd put together.
In silence, Shindou Shuichi observed his long-time idol from the shadows. A concentrated, fascinated look in his eyes, he watched the sensationally beautiful dark-haired man grinding against others, swaying with the spellbinding music. Shuichi closed his fingers around his cold drink and tried to stop his palms from sweating. Ryuichi was now seven and thirty, yet one could easily mistake him for a man of seven and twenty. The ways of the world had not managed to spoil Nittle Grasper's vocalist -- either outwardly or inwardly -- for which Shuichi was very grateful. In the six years he had known him, Ryuichi had practically not changed at all.
Sighing deeply, Shuichi wished he could have been equally lucky, himself. However, the years had been far darker for him. His consuming relationship with Yuki Eiri had slowly changed him into a hollow ghost of the merry boy he once had been, and his heart was so thickly wrapped in scar tissue he wondered how it could still find its beat. However, the pain was all in the past now; deep in the past with Yuki Eiri. Shuichi really shouldn't be thinking about him anymore; after all, Yuki had moved back to New York two years ago, already.
Shuichi assaulted his drink with new passion and forced his thoughts away from his ex-lover. He glanced around and tried to register his surroundings. They were all sitting at the VIP tables of a new nightclub called Avalanche, the members and managers of both Bad Luck and Nittle Grasper together. Well, not all of them were sitting, since Noriko-chan was hanging at the bar counter with K and Sakano-san, all of them laughing and flirting and looking simply stunningly good. And in a nearby corner, Suguru-san was thrusting his tongue down Uesugi Tatsuha's throat while groping his arse –- an embarrassing sight, really, considering they were perfectly in everyone's view.
With a silent snort, Shuichi turned his gaze away. He looked to his right, where Hiro and Ayaka-chan were sitting, Ayaka sprawled halfway in Hiro's lap. She was making a good job of continually cuddling against him and craving for the attention she was by no means lacking, and Hiro looked like he was molten wax in her hands. Shuichi scrunched up his nose with mild disgust and looked to his left.
There was Seguchi-san, all over the black couch, looking pale, so drunk he couldn't even sit straight. At least fifteen empty whiskey glasses stood on the table in front of him, and Shuichi secretly wondered how it was possible he could still keep his eyes open. But Tohma had every right to try and drown himself in a whiskey pond tonight, Shuichi guessed; after all, they were all gathered here in the first place because of the dreadful news that had affected all of Japan: Nittle Grasper had made the decision to break up tonight. Or, more particularly, Sakuma Ryuichi had made that sudden decision, right after the final concert of their six-month tour. Without any explanation, too, which gave the whole affair the label of a tremendous scandal.
So Seguchi Tohma drank. And drank some more.
And while Tohma was at it, the sweet culprit Sakuma-san danced. And danced some more, without a worry in the world.
Shuichi found himself staring. Sakuma-san was bewitching. Shuichi could feel his throat constricting with emotion every time he saw Sakuma-san licking his lips in the heat of the room or inclining his head backwards as the dance-floor lights washed over his face. But it was not only Sakuma-san's outward beauty that made him so special to Shuichi. He was also beautiful from the inside, and Shuichi probably knew this better than anyone else. Because when things had been difficult, when the pressure of the world had been too much for the young, inexperienced artist to carry, Sakuma Ryuichi had been there by his side like a dutiful guardian angel. His support had given Shuichi an extra pair of wings to fly with, and his friendship had been the fire that never allowed his heart to grow cold. Especially during those months right after Yuki had left, Ryuichi's comfort had been invaluable. Shuichi had been a sinking ship, but Ryuichi had patiently stepped onboard, blocked all the leaks and steered him back to the shore.
That was the true beauty behind Sakuma Ryuichi's handsome face.
Shuichi's thoughts were interrupted when Sakano-san brought a new round of drinks to the table, surprisingly not spilling any of them or dropping the over-filled tray. He realised he was actually thirsty again, and chose the one that was deep orange in colour and had a cocktail cherry on top. The taste was strong with alcohol and also a little bit salty, but he was ready to drink just about anything right now in order to get his mind away from Sakuma-san. It was outright indecent to lust after someone who (a) probably wasn't even gay, and (b) didn't even realise he was sexy. In other words, Shuichi felt he was lusting after an innocent child, even though Sakuma-san most certainly wasn't a child. Shuichi had seen him change his clothes a couple of times. Including underwear.
His eyes scanned the dance floor once again, even though he made a vague attempt to stop them. They registered Ryuichi's lithe, swaying form immediately, already out of an old habit. How could it be possible that Ryuichi still had so much energy left to dance, when he'd just thrown a gigantic two-hour concert with Tohma and Noriko a few hours back? The singer had been on the dance floor over an hour by now. Maybe someone had slipped drugs in his drink again? Shuichi made a mental note to check Ryuichi's pupils when he returned to the table.
Feeling rather frustrated, Shuichi picked up the cherry that was lolling in his drink. He lanced it with the cocktail stick and held it up, examining it with forced concentration. Twirling the stick between his fingers, he wondered about the actual purpose of the decoration. Why did they decorate drinks with cherries in the first place? Shuichi had never understood it. What good would it do for a cherry to be drowned in orange juice and tequila? Or the other way around: what good would it do for tequila to have a round, red berry swimming in it?
Curious, Shuichi brought the cherry up to his lips and licked it. It was the sweetest thing he'd ever tasted. Smiling, he rolled it across his lips, realising it was awfully sticky. It probably contained 70 per cent sugar and 80 per cent alcohol. Delighted, Shuichi began to nibble at it. However, he didn't get far before he was startled almost out of his wits by a pair of warm and strong hands pressing into his thighs.
"Hey there, Sparkling."
Shuichi couldn't believe his eyes -- or his sense of touch, for his nerve endings were suddenly on fire. It was Sakuma Ryuichi, crouching in front of him and looking positively dazzling. His flushed cheeks were radiating warmth and joy, and his eyes were glimmering just as brightly as the four piercings on his left earlobe. Shuichi plopped the cherry out of his mouth and just stared. Had he really been so engrossed with his thoughts he hadn't noticed his wet daydream coming over?
"S-S-Sakuma-san? I, er... I didn't see you coming." It was lame, but there it was.
Ryuichi's hands slipped further along Shuichi's thighs, bringing the two of them closer together. Shuichi found himself hardening in a matter of seconds by the feel of Ryuichi's touch near his crotch.
"What..." Ryuichi licked his lips. He was staring at the cherry Shuichi was still holding close to his soft lips. "What have you got there, Shu-chan?"
Not knowing what else to do, Shuichi held out the berry between their noses. "Uh... a cherry?"
Ryuichi leaned closer still, keenly examining the berry despite having to look at it cross-eyed. Then, with a sudden movement, he tilted his head up and tried to catch it between his teeth. However, Shuichi's sixth sense had somehow anticipated this move, and he reflexively leaned back before Ryuichi could get a bite. And consequently, instead of the original target, Ryuichi ended up catching Shuichi's lower lip in between his teeth.
Time seemed to stop. Ryuichi immediately let go, eyes wide with surprise. They stared at each other silently, Shuichi looking just as confused as Ryuichi, and Shuichi could feel the other man's breath hot against his mouth. The abrupt, intimate touch made Shuichi's hands tremble and his stomach tingle. It was almost like a kiss, yet it was somehow even more erotic. Slowly, Ryuichi leaned back and looked questioningly at Shuichi.
"Why did you pull back, Shu-chan?"
Blushing, Shuichi cleared his throat. He wasn't quite sure what he should say, but he made an attempt to save the situation. For both their sakes. "You were too hasty, Sakuma-san... I do believe this is my cherry. I have no intention whatsoever of giving it to you."
Ryuichi challenged him with an impish smirk. "So you say. However, I believe your cherry was popped already six years ago by Eiri-san. So that one can't be yours."
Shuichi's mouth dropped open. He was too stunned by what he'd just heard coming out of Sakuma Ryuichi's mouth. Had he just heard his sweet, innocent Ryu-chan talking about sex and being somewhat clever about it, too? It was just too strange. Too freakin' strange. It was common knowledge Ryuichi talked mostly insanities, and only rarely put in a reasonable sentence amidst his inane chatter. Maybe this was the effect of all the alcohol he'd consumed tonight? Or maybe it was because Tohma had forced Ryuichi to leave Kumagoro home this time, and Ryuichi had just momentarily forgotten to be weird?
Shuichi shook his head and laughed. "I fail to see your point, Sakuma-san."
"If this cherry can't be mine, it sure can't be yours either! I bet your cherry was popped years before mine was."
"Actually, Sparkling, I'm still rather intact." Ryuichi winked. "I've never been with another guy."
"Oh." Shuichi looked down, blushing. "Oh."
"Yeah, that's right. Give up the arguments." Ryuichi invaded Shuichi's personal space again -- even though he had never really left it -- and lifted the younger man's chin with his index finger. "That cherry is mine. All mine."
"No way." A curtain of pink hair fell over Shuichi's face as he shook his head. Something carnal, something primeval woke inside of him, and his expression turned predatory. "So you want to pop some cherries, hmm? I bet I can show you how it's done."
With a teasing slowness, Shuichi brought the cocktail stick and the cherry close to his mouth again. Then, pointedly keeping his eyes locked with Ryuichi's, he wrapped his lips around the stick and gently sucked the red berry into his mouth. He held out the empty stick for Ryuichi to see, and then bit down sharply. Pink juice spurted out of the broken berry, coating Shuichi's lips with its sweet stickiness.
"That's it!" Ryuichi hissed, breathing hard and fast through his nostrils. "That is it!"
Thrusting a hand behind Shuichi's head, Ryuichi brought their mouths together with a quick movement, initiating the deepest French kiss Shuichi had ever experienced. Shuichi gasped as he felt the other man's hot tongue greedily caressing his own. The kiss continued, and continued... until Shuichi thought it would never end. Knowing he'd soon lose his mind unless he could hold on to something solid, Shuichi grasped the nearest thing he could get his hands on. More specifically – the low waistline of Sakuma Ryuichi's black leather pants.
Ryuichi pulled out of the kiss and looked curiously down at the younger man. "You don't seem to mind."
Shuichi's self-control had already left him minutes ago, and all he could do was shake his head. "I... No. I don't. Mind at all."
Ryuichi crawled up along Shuichi's body and finally settled in his lap, straddling him. Then he took Shuichi's jaw between his fingers, tilted his head back and began to kiss him anew. Their tongues battled in Shuichi's mouth, and Bad Luck's vocalist was overtaken with pleasure so overwhelming he thought he might pass out.
Or come straight in his pants.
"Ryu-chan! What are you doing? Stop this instant!"
It was Noriko-chan, standing angrily above them, hands on her hips. She grabbed Ryuichi by his wild hair and pulled him harshly away from Shuichi. "Don't you remember we're in public? Anyone could take a picture, and then you'd be sorry for what you've done! Hell, you were practically eating Shindou-kun! Do you want to take his career down, too, just like you did with your own tonight?"
Ryuichi glared at her, looking hurt by her words, and turned his back on her. "I would never hurt Shuichi. Or his career. Not on purpose."
"Yeah, well, you're awfully good at messing things up even without trying." Noriko rolled her eyes. "As if you haven't caused a big enough a scandal already by quitting Grasper! Think what all the people would think if they also learned you're shagging the lead singer of Bad Luck!"
"Please, Noriko-chan, I'm too drunk to think. So tell me... What would they think?" Ryuichi narrowed his eyes angrily.
"They would think Shindou-kun is the reason for Grasper's break-up, of course!" Noriko yelled. "Which means all our fans would eat Bad Luck alive! And considering how many fans we have... including those who are fans of both Nittle Grasper and Bad Luck... you catch my drift, I'm sure."
Ryuichi gave up, closed his eyes and sighed. "I guess you're right. Pico, pico Noriko-chan is always right and baka, baka Sakuma-san is always stupid."
Shuichi stood up, hands on his hips, looking furious. "I've had enough of this shit. Noriko-chan, the problem is solved. I'm leaving. And Sakuma-san?"
Looking surprised, and even a bit worried, the older singer watched as Shuichi's eyes turned cold towards him. "Huh?"
"If you want to play with someone, make sure it's somebody else next time." Shuichi grabbed the nearest drink, downed it in one go and stalked out of the bar.
He was so angry! Not with Noriko-chan, not with Sakuma-san, but with himself. He was a fool. He was a drunken fool, who had just tried to seduce his best friend who wasn't even gay. Hadn't Sakuma-san just told him he'd never been with a guy? How stupid could a person get? Apparently very stupid. Despite the fact that Sakuma-san had answered his lusty feelings to some degree just now, it still didn't mean he was serious about it. Not as serious as Shuichi was, anyway.
No-one should believe in their dreams.
Shuichi let out a sob and covered his mouth with his hand. He was walking down the street, snow falling everywhere around him, and he'd forgotten to take his coat from the bar. His bare arms were covered all over in goosebumps, and his entire body was shivering with cold. He knew he should probably get a taxi and go home, but there wasn't one available. He was confused, he was miserable, and he didn't know what to do or where to go.
"Shu-chan! Please, wait!"
Shuichi turned and, through his tear-filled eyes, saw a blurry figure running towards him. He didn't have to see the figure to recognize him, though, because he would have recognized that voice anywhere. It was exceptional. It was ambrosial. It was divine.
It was Sakuma Ryuichi.
Shuichi sniffled and continued walking, his heart bursting with pain anew. What would Sakuma-san want with him now?
"Shuuuuu-chaaan!" Ryuichi made his way swiftly through the snow, quickly approaching Shuichi. "Shu-chan, wait! I'll kick your ass if you don't wait! And I'll make Kuma kick your ass, too!"
Inhaling deeply the freezing, wintry air, Shuichi leaned against a lamp-post and hung his head. The metal burned his back with cold and he flinched. Ryuichi reached him, panting slightly from his run, his cheeks glowing a healthy red with the excercise. "Where are you going?"
Shuichi shrugged. "Dunno."
"I... I'm sorry if Noriko-chan... I mean, I'm sorry if I scared you off." Ryuichi hugged himself, only now realising that he, too, had forgotten to take his coat, and that it was winter.
Shuichi didn't look at Ryuichi. "You didn't scare me off. I just didn't feel like staying."
"I know it's my fault you left." Ryuichi drew a circle in the snow with the toe of his shoe. "I never should've kissed you like that."
"Then why did you?" Shuichi yelled, tears finally spilling freely from his eyes. "Why the hell did you do it, then?"
"Because I couldn't help it! Because I like you, that's why!" Ryuichi wailed, his lower lip trembling -- a sign that he was dangerously close to crying, himself. "I really, really like you! I just wanted to show you. But I screwed it all up, didn't I?"
"Y-you like me?" Shuichi swallowed.
"Yeah." Ryuichi pouted. "But don't worry, I know you don't feel the same. I know you're still in love with Eiri-san."
"And don't call me Sakuma-san! Can't you just once call me Ryu-chan, like everybody else? We've known each other for years, and you still can't call me by my given name!"
"Sorry." Shuichi sniffled and covered his face with his hand. He was trembling with cold. He could feel how his pale pink hair was going messy in the swirling snow, and how his thin clothing was becoming damp.
"Shuichi?" Ryuichi poked him with a finger. "Shu-chan, please look at me."
"Are you mad at me?" Shuichi mumbled, still keeping his eyes on the ground.
Ryuichi sighed and pulled Shuichi in his arms, allowing the younger man lean his head against his shoulder. "Of course I'm not mad at you, Sparkling."
"B-but I thought..."
"Hush now." Ryuichi smoothed Shuichi's hair. "I'm sorry if I upset you. It's just that I've had this big crush on you ever since I met you, but you were so in love with Eiri-san that I thought it would be best if you didn't know. And now... I just couldn't hold back any longer. There you were, sitting in the shadows like a fallen cherub, licking a cherry. Licking the goddamn thing, for fuck's sake! You were just too sexy for your own good and I was just too fucking drunk to control myself... I still am, I should say... and that's why I kissed you. I hadn't really planned to do anything like that, I just tried to catch the cherry but... well."
Shuichi let out a long, shivering breath, allowing the smallest of smiles tug up the corners of his mouth. "Well."
"Don't get me wrong." Ryuichi tightened his hug. "I would never, ever force myself on you. I know you can't love anybody but Eiri-san. Or even want anybody else."
"Stop talking about Yuki. I have nothing to do with him, anymore." Shuichi knew that the scars Yuki had slain in his heart would probably never fully heal, but it didn't really matter. After all, who needed the scars to heal, when the heart beneath the scars was capable of loving again? And his heart, bless the blackened little thing, had truly begun to mend. Slowly, but surely. Because of Sakuma Ryuichi. "I'm over him. I don't want him anymore."
"Yeah?" Ryuichi spoke softly against his skin. "Well that's sweet, but you don't have to put on a brave front because of me. We've always been honest with each other."
"Yeah, that's right!" Shuichi yelled and shook Ryuichi forcefully. "If we've always been honest, then why can't you see? I'm in love with you, dumbass! I don't know when it happened, but I can't help it! I'm fucking obsessed with you! You're all I've been able to think about ever since I broke up with Yuki. And now you say you haven't even noticed?"
"Stop yelling at me, baby. I have noticed." Ryuichi laughed. "But I thought it was just your way of dealing with your broken heart. I didn't think it would last."
"Well it has lasted!" Shuichi crossed his arms. "And unless you turn me down right now and tell me I'm being incredibly stupid, it will probably last forever!"
"Well, yeah, you are being incredibly stupid." Ryuichi grabbed Shuichi's hand and kissed him gently on the lips. "Because you should know I could never turn you down."
Shuichi looked at Ryuichi, starry-eyed, his breath vaporizing in the air in translucent, white curls. "D-do you mean it?"
"Of course I mean it, dimwit. Would I lie to you?" Ryuichi was rubbing some heat into Shuichi's cold, bare arms, looking at him expectantly.
"I... I don't know. Maybe?"
"All right, that's it. We're going." Ryuichi pulled Shuichi along and began to walk down the street.
"What? Wait! Where are we going?"
"Imperial Hotel Tokyo. As if I owned a house in this god-forsaken town." Ryuichi waved at a by-passing red car. "Let's grab a taxi and get the hell out of here. It's freezing! Oy, here!"
"Maybe we should just go back and get our jackets...?"
"Never mind the jackets."
"Are you going to question me or are you going to trust me?"
Shuichi arranged his thoughts for a moment, ant then allowed his shoulders to relax. He actually even smiled. "What the hell. I'm all yours to command tonight."
Ryuichi grinned and held open the taxi door. "Good. Get in, then."
Shuichi leaned his forehead against the window, watching the sun rise orange and red from behind the skyscrapers. It reflected from the thousands of windows all around the city; it bounced off the white snow that thinly covered the ground and the rooftops, and the whole world seemed to sparkle. The soft white satin sheet that was wrapped around Shuichi's body was also absorbing some of the morning light, shimmering lightly in the semi-darkness of the room.
Shuichi turned around and looked at the man lying on the bed. Dark brown hair was sticking out in wild directions and sleepy eyes were watching him carefully. Insecurity and self-consciousness, Shuichi realised. So dense one could pluck it from the air and cut it with a dull katana.
Having been there and felt that himself a long time ago, Shuichi crawled back to bed and smoothed the hair out of Ryuichi's face. "No, you are. Sparkling, I mean."
"It's just the sun. Makes everything glow in golden hues." Ryuichi whispered. "Even me."
Shuichi lay down and snuggled against him, tucking his face under Ryuichi's chin. "And me."
They were both silent for the longest of time, until Shuichi spoke again. "Do you think you could love me for real?"
Ryuichi kissed his bare shoulder. "That's the stupidest question you've asked so far, baby. Or maybe you've already forgotten what you made me scream last night."
"Oh, trust me, I haven't," Shuichi purred and allowed his hands to travel under the sheets, "...but maybe you could repeat it once more... just for me..."
Ryuichi gasped as Shuichi's skillful hands found his growing erection. "Ah! Yesss..."
"Oh, fuck yeah... I love you, Sparkling... Shuichi..."
"Mmm. That's better..." Shuichi disappeared under the sheets completely.
Closing his eyes, Ryuichi prepared to scream once more.
A/N: I'm really becoming obsessed with this pairing. I can't help it. Sorry if I'm becoming annoying. Complaints (or sporadic praise) can be directed on the reviews board of ff. net or my Livejournal (LJ username Angryon). Thank you for reading this crap. Makes me feel narsistically cheerful. Heh!