Disclaimer: Gravitation is the brainchild and property of Maki Murakami. I'm only borrowing her characters and world for a short, non-profit interlude.
After four years, Eiri and Shu have settled into something approaching a stable relationship...when a furry wrench worms its way into the picture, forcing them to face one final demon.
Rated for language and implied violence.
Dedication: to my own Yushu, whose first night with me was just like this---well, except for the Yuki-part. (sigh...)
Chapter One: Toys for Tots
"I brought you something."
Shindou Shuuichi's improbably large eyes went round with anticipation, the way they would at the merest hint of a surprise...even on those occasions when he knew full well the 'surprise' was coming and what that 'surprise' was.
This time, however, it would be a surprise, which, after four years together, was saying something.
Yuki Eiri reached into his coat and pulled out the squirming, hissing bit of black fluff. Two yellow eyes, one with a large spot of deep golden brown, appeared in the black, staring across at the wide purple ones.
Shuuichi blinked first and the purple stare shifted to Eiri's face. "For me? To keep?"
Eiri nodded and handed the kitten over. "Careful." He warned, but did Shuuichi listen? Of course not. The kitten was cupped in gentle hands and hugged close.
With a hiss and a squeal the kitten squirmed free, crawling up Shuuichi's arm, across his shoulders, and up to his head, from which the fur ball launched itself for the nearest counter top.
Five minutes later, the idiot had chased the kitten through every room, across every counter top, and under and over every stick of furniture in the house. Tears running down his face, Shuuichi collapsed face-down on the couch beside Eiri, back heaving in exhaustion.
The kitten continued to run.
"He hates me!" Shuuichi wailed.
Twenty-three, a multi-millionaire pop-star, a four year veteran of one of humanity's more tumultuous love affairs, and he was still a brat.
Which suited his only marginally-mellowed romance author partner just fine. With luck, twenty years down the line he'd still be a brat and keeping them both young. He'd long since given up the notion of ditching the punk. Oh, he still threw him out regularly—for old time's sake—and he'd spend the night with his best friend, Nakano Hiroshi, and be back the next day for some fucking fantastic make-up sex.
Sometimes, he suspected, Shuuichi deliberately incited him, just for that purpose.
Not that he was objecting.
"He hates me, hehatesme, hehatesme..."
Eiri ruffled the pink hair and returning to his evening paper said, without the slightest sympathy, "Just wait."
Waiting was not his Shu's strongest suit. He continued whimpering into his crossed arms and Eiri rather absently stroked his hair and back, saying not a word as the kitten quit bouncing off walls and hid under the couch. He winced at the sound of tiny claws in leather coming from the back of his expensive couch, but a corner of the eye glance intercepted a golden gaze peering over the black leather, followed moments later by a small black shadow. The kitten crouched there, staring, then slid down the cushion and up onto Shu's back. Shuuichi, typically oblivious, continued to sniffle, his back still heaving. The kitten rode his back up and down several times, then stretched and began kneading its claws (sharp little pins that would find their way through far thicker clothing than Shuuichi's thin tee) on its newfound perch.
Amazingly, ticklish Shuuichi's reaction was to freeze rather than climb the walls.
"Very good," Eiri murmured, and Shu's sparkling eyes appeared over the top of his forearm.
Rather like the kitten. So very like the kitten, truth to tell. For all their coloring was polar opposite, they were two of a kind. He'd known that the moment the idiot kitten had bullied its way into his coat pocket, then clung like velcro when he'd tried to extract him.
Rather like Shuuichi, in the early days, every time he'd tried to kick him out.
"Slow and easy, Shu-chan, slow and easy. He's a bit skittish, but he'll come around."
Shuuichi's eyes closed, his head dropped back to his crossed arms.
"Where'd you find him?" he asked on a whispered breath.
"The mall," Eiri said, and scanned another headline. "One of hundreds being given away every year, thanks to people who don't take responsibility for neutering, but this little firecracker had escaped and led his idiot owners a merry chase through several stores. I was signing some bookstore's stock, and the little monkey leapt up on the table and invited himself into the pocket of my coat. I couldn't very well reject such a wanton appeal, besides...he...reminded me of someone I know...so...hell, so here you are. Happy unbirthday."
"Huh?" Another flash of purple, and he pushed the brat's head back down, giving the muscles a casual massage.
"God, I have to do something about your education."
"Oh. Book ref?"
"Yeah, brat, book ref."
The kitten had settled into a ball on Shuuichi's back, and Shuuichi turned his head to rest it sideways on his arms so he could look up at him.
"Who'd he remind you of, Yuki?"
He choked, thinking of the chase he'd just witnessed. "Gee, brat, I just can't quite put my finger on it."
The irony flew right over the pink head.
"Well, whoever it was, thank you. I've ..."
The thought trailed off in pink-cheeked embarrassment, but Eiri knew the rest. Shuuichi couldn't pass a pet store or a zoo without turning in. Every kitten and puppy had to be stroked and admired...and longed for, its future agonized over. Personally, he'd never had the urge; besides, now he had Shuuichi, which (he passed his hand again over the soft hair) was much the same, but Shuuichi only had him, and he wasn't exactly soft and cuddly material. Not to mention, all too often there wasn't even him. He was an author long before he was Shuuichi's lover and when the words were flowing, he'd work late into the night to take advantage of the muse; when a block had him in its grip, he'd work late into the night trying for one good sentence.
Which meant lots of nights alone, sitting on the couch watching television, for Shuuichi. Sure he and his band mates would take the occasional club night, but overall, it had to be painfully lonely. Shuuichi didn't complain nearly as much as he had a right to, for all Eiri dutifully played his expected role and pretended to be annoyed when he did, but he hoped the kitten would at least help mitigate the loneliness.
"Just one thing."
"Hmmm...?" It was a sleepy, drifting sound, and he nudged Shuuichi's ribs, making him jump. The kitten sprang free, hissing in protest and sprouting pins, and Shuuichi sprang up, hissing in protest. He met the outraged purple gaze calmly, thankful that, physiologically-speaking, Shuuichi was incapable of emulating the kitten any further.
"Litterbox. Food bowl. In the car. All yours." He caught Shuuichi's chin and leaned over to press his lips to the half-open mouth before heading for his office to get back to work. "Have fun, brat."
The first night nearly brought the demise of said kitten. The whole damned night, it did nothing but wander the house, crying at the top of its lungs. Eiri wouldn't have thought something that small could produce a sound that large.
But then he reminded himself of the person he lived with and officially revised that fundamental law of the universe.
Who'd he remind you of, Yuki?
He stifled a snort of laughter and pulled the desolate Shuuichi into bed. The baka-brat was frozen through, having spent the previous half hour lying on the hardwood floor, trying to coax the kitten out from under the bed.
Personally, he'd had a far more interesting notion of how to scare the furry nuisance out, a notion which involved a whole lot of gratitude on Shuuichi's part (which was almost as good as making-up), a notion it was now far too late to employ.
Besides, the rotten little beast had killed the mood.
"He's so unhappy," Shuuichi said on a sniff, and he buried his head in Eiri's neck, hands pressed over his ears.
"He'll settle down. Give him time. Probably misses his brothers and sisters."
"But I told him, we're his family now." One hand deserted its assigned ear to find a home in Shuuichi's mouth.
He claimed the hand for examination: there'd been more than one hissing objection during Shuuichi's rescue attempts. "Probably doesn't speak Shuuichi very well yet. Give him time, brat, give him time."
Sure enough, there were kitten scratches all over the slender fingers. He let his mouth do a little spiritual healing, kissing each tiny wound, then the palm before tucking the hand into the space between them and hugging Shuuichi close.
It was, he told himself, a gesture designed solely to quiet Shuuichi down so they could both get some sleep. It had, he told himself, nothing to do with the feel of that slender body molding to his or the distinctive scent of an exhausted Shuuichi. Satisfaction, he told himself, was all he felt when Shuuichi's breathing shifted rhythm as he slipped toward sleep.
Himself laughed derisively. It had taken the better part of four years, but Shuuichi had finally taught him to appreciate the fine art of ... god help him ... cuddling.
The kitten yowled on.
And he was wide awake.
God, what he'd give for a cigarette right now. The pack mocked him, just beyond reach on the far side of his pink fluffball. Mocked him. Called his name. If he reached, it would wake Shuuichi up; if he didn't...if he didn't, damned if the DTs wouldn't wake the brat up anyway.
He stared at the pack, a shadow on the shadow of the nightstand in the ambient light from the window, trying to will the damn thing within reach, thinking all the time how pathetic that craving made the so-cool Yuki Eiri.
Silence. The yowling had ended at last. A scratching, scrambling sound from the bottom of the bed and those yellow button eyes appeared, seeming to glow in the dark.
"Hello, demon cat," he murmured, and as if delighted at his assessment, the demon cat bounded up the length of the bed to curl up on Shuuichi's pillow, purring.
Ah, saved by the demon feline.
"Hey, moron," he murmured, and moved the arm held captive beneath Shuuichi. A caught breath and whimpering complaint assured him luck continued to be on his side: Shuuichi was still in the early stages of sleep; another few minutes and a train crashing into the next room wouldn't phase him.
"Ne, Yu ...?"
"You've got company. Hold still, and listen."
A slow smile appeared beneath his sleep-heavy lids. (God, he was a sexy brat.) Very slowly, he eased around to face the kitten, and began stroking the tiny head with one oh-so-careful fingertip. The kitten, spotting the dark cavern beneath Shuuichi's lifted arm, headed immediately for cover, curling up, from the feel against the arm still surrounding Shuuichi, inside the folds of Shuuichi's loose, scoop-necked tee-shirt, pressing against Shuuichi's chest.
Shuuichi cooed, curling in turn around the tiny furball.
Eiri pulled both arms free, stretching a back gone stiff.
"Hey brat, before you cheat on me with the furball, hand me the pack and lighter, would you?"
The cooing paused, Shuuichi's shoulder heaved in a sigh, and, careful not to disturb the kitten, his bare arm slipped free of the covers and snagged the items in question, handing them back over his shoulder.
"Thanks." Yuki tapped the pack, retrieved a cigarette with his lips, and lit, all in a smooth, practiced sequence that was easier, in someways, than breathing.
He inhaled, felt the drug permeate his system, coating his nerves, stopping those incipient tremors. He was halfway through before Shuuichi's voice whispered from the pocket of pink hair and black fur, "I wish you wouldn't."
Not the first time Shuuichi had made the request, but the hint of tears in his voice was new.
"I'll quit. Someday."
"I...I smell it. Down here under the covers. It...it can't be good for Yushu."
"Yushu. Is that what you plan to call him?"
"Good name. —He'll live."
A sniff, a slight curling of that upper shoulder, a nearly inaudible, "But for how long?"
He felt the irritation rise, knowing where this conversation was headed, though Shuuichi, do him credit,had never taken it there. "Long enough."
Shuuichi shuddered, and clammed up. Damn it. He stubbed the cigarette out—he'd had enough, and worked his way down the pillow, wrapping himself around Shuuichi's hunched back.
A pause, then a tiny nod of the head in front of his nose, a whispered, "Aa."
But that whisper still held a hint of tears. Damn it, the kitten was supposed to make him happy.
"I...I just don't want to lose him, Yuki. Not for a long...long time."
And it wasn't the kitten he meant.
He wasn't stupid. He knew an early grave awaited him if he didn't give up the damned things, but it had never been an issue before...before Shuuichi. He was a self-centered bastard. Always had been. He'd indulged his cravings and cultivated the distance it put between him and unwanted attention. But Shuuichi had pushed right past the smoke and the chilly facade and forced him to think beyond the next deadline.
Even beyond the threat to his own future, he knew it created the worst possible environment for a singer, particularly the sweet, clear-voiced Shuuichi. Just his luck to fall for someone like Shuuichi. Mick Jagger...now his voice might be improved by living with Yuki Eiri. But the very voice that drove that fucking self-centered bastard absolutely bug-fuck crazy would eventually suffer, possibly even die, living with that same fucking, self-centered, bastard.
And that self-centered, over-sexed bastard knew now, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that he did, indeed, want to remain with Shindou Shuuichi for the rest of his life.
Having admitted that to himself, he had to acknowledge the reality of that desire, and having acknowledged, the next step, whispered into the strawberry-scented hair, came surprisingly easily.
"I'll try, Shuuichi. I...damned if I'll promise anything, but I will try."
Shuuichi's fingers stroked the arm Eiri had wrapped around his chest, his lips found and caressed the hand attached to that arm. "I love you, Yuki."
My thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed. If you did, I'd love to hear from you, if you didn't, would appreciate knowing what I can do to improve. I hope to update regularly...like a couple of times a week.
Next up: Sometimes, It's Not Enough: Yuki attempts to quit.
Virtual hugs and pocky to all---Vin