Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the wonderful story Gravitation by Maki Murakami. She owns the characters and the milieu. I'm only borrowing them so I can give Yuki and Shuuichi an attitudinal cat.

Summary: Shuuichi returns from a concert tour to find an unresponsive answering machine and an empty bed.

Warnings: Hmmm...Ben-gayness? Fuzziness? Oh...probably you should read my story Yushu before reading this as Yuki and Shu and even the story itself are very much predicated on that story, and if you haven't read it, they might seem somewhat OOC. There are also references to stories 2 & 3 and at least one yet to be written chapter of Cotton Candy Snow.

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Forever

by Vindaloo

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"We now return to our regular programming."

Yuki Eiri smiled to himself and tapped the off button on the TV remote, picked up his phone and punched his brother-in-law's quick-dial code.

"Hai." Touma was unusually succinct.

"Go."

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Tired. Sore. Bored.

Yup. That about covered it.

Shindou Shuuichi stared up at the ceiling and counted the insulated ceiling tiles.

One. More. Time.

If you expect to be able to walk off the stage at the end of your concert tomorrow night, you'll spend the day flat on your back.

Hell, what did doctors know anyway? It was just a little muscle strain.

But Seguchi Touma, president of NG records, was his boss, and when Touma said 'stay in bed,' he stayed, getting out only for prescribed 'therapy' sessions, which meant lying on the floor with little balls tucked under him in the craziest places while he lifted his legs or arms.

Very slowly.

Boring. Boring. Boring.

Fifty-five. Fifty-six. Fifty-

Seriously bored.

Shuuichi sighed and turned gingerly onto his side, propping his knee on a pillow, exactly as the physical therapist had commanded.

It wasn't fair. All the other guys got to go home and sleep in their own beds, while he was stuck here, in the special NG boxcar (there was no other word for the hunk of train currently parked in Tokyo) no bed, (well, there was a bed, just not his bed) no Yushu, no...

No tall, blond surprisingly cuddly author, who would be ever so much better for his back than the stupid pillow.

Still, no one knew better than he why that reunion had been put off. The cuddling part wouldn't hurt his back, but the rest of the Shuuichi loves Yuki equation would probably cripple him for a week.

What none of them, not his manager, Claude 'K' Winchester, not his best friend Hiro, not Suguru or Sakano or Seguchi Touma seemed to understand was how much, after so long away, he needed to feel those strong arms, needed to taste that beautiful mouth.

Yuki was his touchstone in the unreal world of fannish adoration. Yuki was the one who knew him like no one else. Who knew him, body and soul, waterworks and temper tantrums, and still wanted him.

Or so he was certain when Yuki was near. It was when they were apart for long periods of time that the insidious doubts surfaced and he began to lose faith, seeing not Yuki's 'pint-sized lover' in the mirror, but a skinny, rather funny-looking fellow that no one as beautiful and sexy as Yuki Eiri could possibly be attracted to.

No matter how much his head told him differently, no matter how many times he read the inscription on the picture Yuki had given him to carry in his wallet, the picture from their first date together, the inscription that read: My baka, my lover, my museforever...no matter the words in his head, something inside him went weak and uncertain when he was away this long, something that could only be reassured by the touch of one special person.

He sighed again and shifted back to stare at the ceiling.

If only Yuki would call. He'd called Yuki last night as the train pulled in to tell his lover he was stuck here until after the concert, begging him to come visit...well, he'd begged Yuki's answering machine. Yuki himself was probably deep into one of his stories and ignoring everything...even the date.

The date. A very special date. At least to him. It was the day—

He stopped the thought cold.

It was the final concert date. Nothing more. Well, that and a day to go home.

Home.

Their beautiful home with the perfect view of Tokyo Bay. The home they'd designed and built together and in which he'd only gotten to spend a handful of nights before leaving on this tour.

He and Yuki had barely had time to 'christen' the new bed.

Whatever that meant. Sometimes Yuki used the strangest words.

He sighed again and huddled under the covers, seeking the sleep that should have been so easy, he was that tired following three months on the road—or tracks, in this case—but finding that ultimate escape from boredom all too elusive.

He should have just accepted Sakano's offer of a sleeping pill, but he knew better. He'd have a hard enough time finding the go-juice for this final concert. Take one of those and he'd be out for at least twenty-four hours.

If only Yuki would come tonight. Yuki's presence in the theater always gave him all the energy he needed. But he never expected Yuki to come. Yuki rarely attended concerts, especially Bad Luck concerts. Yuki hated the crowds, especially the clamoring fan girls that hovered outside the halls, waiting, dammit, to ogle the now-famous couple.

Not that they could blame anyone but themselves.

They'd become quite open with their love in the past year, and their fans had gone wild, even to writing weird stories about their sex life and posting those stories on the internet. That was scary, but still kinda cool, especially when Yuki took a fancy to some of the suggestions and decided to 'field test' them, which had made for some pretty wild nights.

Still, he thought, staring dreamily at the ceiling, none of those stories could begin to capture the real magic of being in love with Yuki Eiri. No words could capture how special he felt when those golden eyes singled him out of the dozens or even hundreds of people in a room. No words could describe the shiver that went down his back from the promise in a half-wink or an amused twitch of that generally sober mouth.

A tear trickled from the corner of his eye and into his ear as his own mouth fantasized about Yuki's and the fresh, minty taste of an early morning kiss.

Stupid tear. He had no right to feel sorry for himself. Because of those fans, he and Yuki could cuddle in public, with no more dangerous consequence than a fan asking for an autograph.

A lot of guys weren't that lucky.

Yeah, they were lucky. Really lucky. Just look what happened when the tabloids attempted what Yuki called a 'smear campaign,' complete with paparazzi pictures. A general outcry had buried the stories (which were a bunch of lies anyway) and ended the career of the meanie responsible.

Well, he didn't like being the cause of anybody losing their job, but Yuki said the guy was a scandal-chasing hack and had deserved the boot for years, so he supposed it wasn't that awful.

And then there was that time in the United States. All he'd wanted was to visit Yuki in the hospital, but the nurses hadn't let him in because he wasn't family. The next thing he knew, the whole world seemed to be yelling 'injustice' and 'legal reforms.'

Just for him and Yuki.

On the one hand, he loved the fans for that support. On the other...

On the other, Shuuichi hated the attention, maybe even more than Yuki did, who spent the majority of his life sequestered in his study, avoiding not only the fans, but sometimes Shuuichi, too, when Shuuichi was home. When he was home, he wanted nothing more than to crawl into Yuki's arms and stay there. After five years, that urge was as strong as ever.

But not all the love in the world could counteract the simple fact that Yuki had to write when the words were coming, so Shuuichi had to fit himself into the cracks. That was the singlemost basic reality of their life together. Shuuichi accepted that reality, even though, at times like this, it really hurt. A part of him even accepted the realization that the frequent denial of that urge to be with Yuki was no small part of what kept the desire itself so strong.

He couldn't resent the writing, which was as fundamental to the Yuki he loved as the arms he craved, but he could and did resent every private moment stolen from them by the press and fans. He was 'on' every moment he spent outside the haven that was their new home, and more often than not, he had to be 'on' inside as well, if 'on' consisted of behaving counter to his own inclinations.

Not that being on was the least bit foreign to his nature. It was his nature.

It was also exhausting and sometimes he just wanted to be...Shuuichi. A young man who was very much in love, not only with an enigmatic author, but with the whole idea of being in love.

He rolled to his other side, cursed roundly at the twinge of back muscles and buried his face in the pillow he hugged to his chest. If he had to spend this time in bed, he wanted that bed to smell of Yuki, not him. He smelled...normal. Yuki smelled...special.

One more day. Just one more day. One day. One.

If only Yuki would—

Thump! Came from the end of the bed. A familiar weight worked its way up his side. A soothing, low rumble met his ears. A moment later, a slender, hooked appendage pulled delicately at the sheet in front of his nose, pulled it back and golden eyes stared at him.

Round golden eyes surrounded by shining black fur.

"Yushu?" he whispered and with a thrill of hope, lifted the covers and pulled the big cat underneath, hugging him close.

Then he waited.

There was only one way Yushu could be here.

But the much heavier weight he expected on the opposite side of the bed didn't manifest. No warmth happened at his back to match the soft mass under his chin.

He poked his nose above the covers and sought that other pair of amber-colored eyes, the narrow ones that could freeze hell itself, when their owner was in the mood, found them in the shadows near the door, above crossed arms and broad shoulders holding up the wall.

"Yuki?"

"About time, brat."

Gods, he loved that voice. Loving, angry, even disgusted, it sent chills down his spine.

Yuki's lean body twitched, pulling gracefully away from the wall and into the single shaft of sunlight sneaking between the drawn curtains, then back into the shadows, giving Shuuichi only the quickest glimpse of his tight-lipped expression.

A chair scraped across the floor and Yuki folded himself into it, propping his feet on the edge of the bed.

"Did you come to take me home?" Shuuichi asked that shadowed figure, daring to hope.

"What gave you that idea?"

So much for hope.

"You're confined to that bed," the beloved voice continued. "All day. No exceptions. Pain of death. Mine. I brought the damn cat. Been driving me crazy all night. He always knows when you're back in town. Don't ask me how the hell he does."

Cold, detached Yuki had come. Shuuichi bit his lip. Hard. Wishing warm and loving Yuki had come instead.

"Y–your book's not done, then?" He hazarded the obvious.

"What do you think?"

"S–sorry. Guess you'll be going home now, then."

"Got that right."

But Yuki didn't move, didn't even lower his feet to the floor.

Something felt...wrong.

Yushu, as though he felt it too, reached out and patted his nose with one velvet paw. Shuuichi blinked and pressed his face into the cat's soft belly fur.

"T–thanks for bringing him." He thought he should say something...had to say...something. Anything. "W–will I see you later then?"

"Maybe. Maybe not."

He wondered what that was supposed to mean, felt his chest tighten and buried his face against the furry ball weighing down his arm.

"I missed you."

"Like, that's news?"

He bit his lip, fighting the tears that somehow threatened. He wanted Yuki's arms around him, Yuki's rich voice telling him welcome home. Some small indication that Yuki had missed him one billionth of what he'd missed Yuki.

But there was no such admission. Yuki stayed there in that chair, radiating anger and frustration. Boredom. But he didn't leave, which meant Yuki had something he wanted to say and suddenly, Shuuichi thought he knew what that something must be. His breath caught, the sobs deep within fought to escape and he angrily fought them back.

Yuki hated it when he cried.

"Just say it, Yuki," he whispered.

"Huh?"

"S–say it and go. Please."

"What the hell are you babbling about?"

He winced. "Who is it, Yuki? Do I know her? Or...is it another g–guy?" He didn't want to hear that. He thought, maybe, he could handle being dumped for a woman—maybe—but Yuki and him ...that had been special. Unique. For both of them.

Or so Yuki had always insisted, even before Yuki admitted Shuuichi was more than simply a convenient fuck.

Unique. Special.

And so he'd believed. Yushu had happened. Eiri had quit smoking, had worked out all those issues. They'd built their house together. Yuki had been teaching him to skate. They'd been happy. Or so he'd thought.

So he'd hoped.

Silence. Which meant he was right: Yuki had found someone else. He squeezed his eyes shut on the tears flooding him. Every time Bad Luck went on tour, it was like coming home to a stranger. There was always this period of getting their lives back into synch with one another.

He was always a bit depressed, coming off the months-long adrenaline rush of touring. He'd find himself fearing coming home, fearing what he'd be coming home to, fearing...what had finally happened.

Yuki had moved on. He just didn't need him any longer.

"I wondered why they didn't let me go home. Why you didn't c–call. It's because I d–don't have a home anymore, isn't it, Yuki? You brought Yushu here as some sort of...what? Consolation prize?" He bit his lip hard enough to draw blood. "Please, Yuki, just leave. It...it's OK. I've...been expecting it for a long..."

Except he hadn't been expecting it. Not this time. He'd thought...my museforever.

He burrowed in under the covers and held his breath, determined not to plead, not to cry, not to do any of those things Yuki hated and that made him feel, in retrospect, like something cheap and cowardly, tried not to panic as the weight of Yuki's feet left the bed and the door to the car opened.

"All right, you American maniac. Take your shiny guns and bullets and fuck the hell off."

The door slammed, and before he had time to process, the mattress at his back sank, rolling him back into a warm, and oh-so-welcoming pair of arms.

TBC

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A/N: This will be a short, two or three parter. Next up, Yuki 'n' Shu in bed, though surprisingly little citrus involved. Shu's back, doncha know.

As always, please read and enjoy, review if you have time. Critical comments are appreciated and taken seriously. Flames only ignite the flamer. :D---Vin