Penance

By: Ashcat

Disclaimer: I do not own Gravitation or its characters. I do not make any profit from this text.

Rated: T

Summary: Eiri reaps what he's sown in his relationship with Shuichi, yet both end up suffering from the mistakes of the past. (Oneshot)

Eiri was not surprised when the phone woke him from his light sleep. He didn't even check the caller id, he knew who was calling him at 3AM. He hastily flipped his phone open and murmured "What". His tone was considerably gentler compared to his normal gruff greeting.

"Eiri" came a shaky whisper from the other end of the line.

"Yes, I'm here," Eiri replied, in that same quiet tone, one might even mistake it for tenderness.

"Eiri… umm… it happened again.."

"I know"

"Umm… you're not going to are you?"

"No, I'm not going to leave you. I'm right here…. Are you all settled in?"

Soft rustling could be heard on the other end of the line, then Shu's timid voice, so unlike his normal way of speaking came back on the line "Yeah… Eiri, umm I love you, please don't... ok?"

"I know, and I won't leave you. Nothing is going to happen. I'm on the first half of my book tour, I will be home in only six more days, on Monday night."

"Ok" Shuichi mumbled, a soft sob coming through over the line.

Eire could hear more rustling as Shuichi burrowed down in his protective cocoon, swaddled in Eiri's shirt and clutching Eiri's pillow. Shuichi had once told Eiri that he always felt safe when he was surrounded by Eiri's scent. Eiri always made sure he wore one of his softest white undershirts the day before departing on any overnight trips; then he left it under his pillow on the bed just for these occasions.

Eiri began to talk, just saying random things to Shuichi. He had found that it didn't really matter what he said as long as he kept his tone low and soothing. He had discovered this during the first couple weeks after the Aizawa incident. Shuichi would wake screaming, drenched in sweat, and shaking. Eiri understood what was happening, yet he felt helpless to comfort his boy. He had never excelled in giving any sort of comfort, both physical and verbal were difficult for him to express. However, just the sound of his voice and holding Shuichi tightly to his side seemed to soothe and relax his boy. Shuichi always seemed to be satisfied with what Eiri was able to give.

Eiri sometimes despised himself for the many things he felt Shuichi had to 'make do' with due to Eiri's extensive limitations when it came to emotions and expressing himself. However, Shuichi seemed happy with him, despite the fact that incidents such as this continued to happen in their relationship. Even though these episodes caused Eiri to experience intense self loathing he never let those feelings seep into his voice. Eiri made sure he gave Shuichi all he could through the phone, trying to pour his love for the boy into the flood of meaningless words.

These nightmares were squarely on Eiri's shoulders. They didn't seem to involve rough hands or tearing flesh; no, they centered on Shu's fears of Eiri abandoning him. They only happened when Eiri was gone for more than a few days while the vocalist stayed at home. Shuichi had learned to handle things in his waking life, to appear calm and cool while the novelist was gone. However, these dreams just wouldn't seem to stop plaguing him.

"Eiri… I love you.." came the timid voice again, when Eiri paused for breath.

"I know," was his whispered reply, Eiri's heart slightly cracking at his boy's obvious distress.

When this happened, Shuichi was strangely quiet; Eiri had never gotten him to say exactly what his dreams were. However, one night Eiri had pressed Shuichi hard and finally the singer had choked out something about being abandoned, that Eiri had left and he wasn't coming back. Shuichi had begun to say more, something about one of them being hurt and then he started sobbing so hard that he ended up choking. The sound of Shuichi's coughing and gagging had scared Eiri so badly that he never asked the singer again, the novelist just let himself drown in his own guilt.

Finally, Eiri paused and listened for the telltale snores coming from Shu's side of the phone. Once Eiri was assured that Shuichi was asleep again, he hung up, slipping the phone onto the hotel nightstand. He grabbed his cigarettes and lighter, propping himself up in bed, and lit up. He was never mad at Shu for these late night calls. He considered them penance for the times that he had left Shu, it was he that had instilled this level of insecurity in his boy. After all, it was Eiri who disappeared from Shuichi's life without warning, Eiri who hadn't protected Shuichi from Aizawa, he hadn't been there to stop Shuichi from being kidnapped by Judy and taken to America, and he had even waited quite some time before putting a stop to his brother's sexual harassment of the singer. So why wouldn't it be his job to soothe the damage that had been done to his boy?

Eiri hoped that one day he'd be able to say the words that Shuichi needed to hear, maybe then the singer would feel confident enough for these nightmares to fade away. Eiri took a long drag off his cigarette before stubbing it out in the ashtray on the nightstand. He lay back down, hoping to return to his own fitful sleep.

Owari

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