Disclaimer: Gravitation is all Maki Murakami's brainchild. I'm just playing in the sandbox with no profit to myself other than joy. Special thanks to Maki Murakami for letting us do it, and to the script adapters of the anime for their marvelous condensation of the essentials of the manga, upon which this story was based.

A/N: This belongs, technically, with my "Between the Lines" series, but it has long since gone beyond a one shot, so I'm giving it its own slot. As there seems to have been some confusion, my "Between the Lines" series is a series of one shots designed to expand upon, not to rewrite, the anime or manga. "Cutting room floor scenes," if you will. "Dream Date" is based on that same concept and is based directly on the anime version. There are differences, obviously, between this and the anime, but I'm sticking as closely as I can without cramping "Dream Date's" own integrity.

It also, as turns out, serves as something of a prequel to my "Yushu." For "Yushu" and my other "original" Gravi stories, please check my profile.

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Epilogue
by Vindaloo
✴✴✴ ✴✴✴ ✴✴✴

The apartment was dark. Empty.

Shuuichi stood in the doorway, frozen by a flood of disappointment and fear.

He hadn't come back.

His lower lip began to quiver. He caught it with his teeth and stepped through the door, letting his backpack slip to the floor. His other luggage, complete with three boxes of souvenirs from the tour—mostly for Yuki— would arrive in the morning.

Sleep tonight. K had ordered, with a secret smile. Unpack in the morning.

He'd thought he knew what that secret smile meant, thought he was coming home to the sight and scent of his Yuki. Had been running through the possible salacious scenarios ever since he'd gotten in the limo.

Instead, he'd come home to a dark, empty apartment that smelled of citrus cleaners.

He sniffed and hugged the laptop case to his chest, taking it, by force of habit more than conscious thought, to Yuki's office, where he unpacked it and plugged it in, setting it up as he would every time he brought it home, making it ready for its rightful owner.

And then, he sank into Yuki's chair and buried his head in his crossed arms, sobbing.

He'd given everything to the tour, had imagined—hoped—night after night that Yuki was in the audience, waiting for him to come off the stage, waiting to engulf him in strong arms and to say, in his luscious deep voice, Pretty good, for a moron.

Oh, sweet Buddha, what he'd give for just one...dry...cynical...

Long fingers filtered through his hair.

He froze.

"I heard you."

Choked on a sob.

"That first night, at Zepp Tokyo."

Hiccuped.

"Pretty good."

And twisted around, the fingers sliding easily along his scalp to cup his head, holding him steady for that golden-eyed gaze.

"For a—"

The last word swirled to oblivion beneath Shuuichi's lips.

✴✴✴

Shuuichi was on his feet, but only long enough for Eiri's arms to pull him off them. Eiri pressed the kiss deeper, starved for the taste and feel of his tiny lifeline.

"I'm sorry, Shu-chan," he whispered between kisses. "The plane—"

Shuuichi reared up, swallowing the rest.

"I didn't want to come home to an empty—"

Another hungry assault.

"Shu, I—"

"For gods' sake, Yuki, just shut up! Shut up and kiss—"

This time, it was Eiri's turn to swallow the sound.

He swept the brat up and carried him into the bedroom, set him on the bed and began stripping him even as their lips continued renewing their intimate acquaintance.

"Cold..." Shuuichi whispered as his shirt slipped from his shoulders.

"Want me to turn the heat up?" Eiri asked, pulling away, only to have two small hands stop his retreat.

"Hell no."

And soon, the ambient temperature ceased to be a problem.

Eiri's fingers traced the once-familiar lines, discovering worrisome new angles and too-prominent ribs.

"You've lost weight," he murmured, brushing the scraggly pink hair back from a perfect ear and tracing the ear with his tongue.

Shuuichi eeped and shivered beneath his hands, then answered shakily: "Costume guy complained about it, too. Don't know gasp h–how. I a–ate every—yipe—e–everythinginsight." He finished in a rush and Yuki chuckled. Likely it was just the energy he expended on stage. Shuuichi didn't know the meaning of the word moderation.

And they'd take care of it. He'd feed the brat up. Couldn't have him fading in the stretch, now could they?

He smiled to himself, continuing to reacquaint himself with Shuuichi's peculiar erogenous zones, testing his memory, seeing if Shu could possibly live up to those fantasies that had kept him sane the last several weeks.

Like his shoulder. Just that little point of bone right at the top. Who in their right mind went haywire when you licked their shoulder?

But then Shuuichi, his Shuuichi, couldn't claim to be in his right mind under the best of circumstances. And if he were honest, Shuuichi responded to the slightest breath on his hair...if Yuki Eiri was the source of the breath.

Suddenly, it truly registered just how close he'd come to giving this up, worse, to leaving this priceless bundle of endless optimism huddling in a well of questions and self-doubt. As guilt rose, and his universe began to whirl out of control, he took a shuddery breath and gathered his pink-headed lifeline tight. Shuuichi, after a startled gasp, hugged back with all his surprising strength.

"It's okay, Yuki. Everything's okay." Rough little hands ran through his hair and held his face for Shuuichi's awkward but eager mouth. But his taste grew salty with silent tears, and Eiri pulled back to make him look at him.

"What now?" Concern made his voice harsher than he wanted and Shuuichi winced, but didn't flinch from his gaze.

"We are okay, now...aren't we?"

He brushed his lips across Shuuichi's damp eyelids in silent apology and hugged him close again. "Better than okay," he whispered into the pink hair, then, with a poke at his ribs that made him giggle, "But if you tell anyone I said that, you're dead meat."

Shuuichi's giggles reached semi-hysterical status as Eiri continued his concentrated assault on the ticklish spots...which were damn near as numerous as his erogenous zones. Unfortunately, Eiri overplayed his hand as the already tired brat giggled himself into breathless, gasping exhaustion.

✴✴✴

"Shu? Shu!"

Yuki was worried. Shuuichi smiled weakly and played dead, a part that didn't require much in the way of acting skills, he was that tired.

He wanted to make love—hell, he wanted Yuki to fuck his brains out—but there was the problem...he had no brains left to be fucked out, only limp muscles.

He felt Yuki sit up, felt Yuki's arms pulling him into his lap, where he just lay, a limp lump. And then Yuki began to rock gently, murmuring apologies, something about fearing he'd have to call an ambulance.

"Dummy," Shuuichi whispered, but he wiggled a bit, tucking his body closer still, and as those warm, strong arms closed around him, he abandoned all inclination to return to their aborted love-making.

He always had liked the cuddling part best.

He sighed and closed his eyes, thinking of all the times he'd dreamed of a moment like this, all the times on the couch when he'd relived that perfect day with Yuki, only in those dreams, instead of coming home to an empty apartment, he'd come home to find Yuki waiting, here in this bed. They'd make love, then cuddle, then, best of all, he'd fall asleep, next to Yuki.

Well, his perfect date had had a bit of a hiatus, but here he was at last. At least the cuddling bit. And that was enough.

After a timeless silence, he asked, softly: "What happened?"

"After you left?"

He nodded, not surprised, somehow, that Yuki read his mind.

"K's men took me to a hotel. Set me up to watch that crappy concert—" Shuuichi roused enough to poke Yuki in the ribs, surprising a chuckle out of him. "It was good, Shu. Real good. Not, however—" He felt a soft kiss brush the top of his head. "As good as my private one."

He whimpered and pressed hard against Yuki's warmth, remembering that night, remembering, in ways he'd never even tried to tell anyone, the sheer ecstacy of having his voice return. But again, Yuki seemed to read his mind.

"They told me, Shu, about your voice. You...must have been terrified. I...I'm sorry for that, and for whatever part my leaving played in it. If something happened so I couldn't write, I think I'd go mad."

Trust Yuki to understand. He found Yuki's smooth hand with his own and lifted the hand to press his lips against each precious finger in turn, a silent, heartfelt thank you, and Yuki gave a funny little cough.

"Well," Yuki continued after a moment, "Where was I? Oh, yeah, after that night...like I said, I didn't want to come home to an empty house, so...I just...walked around New York for a few days...remembering."

Remembering. Remembering the man who'd betrayed his young love, who'd damned near destroyed both of them.

Yuki was silent a moment, then, reading his mind yet one more time: "It wasn't all bad, Shu. I've...many good memories of the city, and I wanted them back."

"Memories." Shuuichi traced Yuki's hand with a fingertip. "Of...him? Ki–kitizawa, I mean."

"Some. Some of Touma and me. I ... wanted to come home ... free."

"Of...Kitizawa?"

"Of the shadows."

"Did you...did you go to his grave?"

Yuki's hold tightened. "Touma's not the only psychic."

Shuuichi shook his head. The thought of him being able to read Yuki's complex mind was just plain silly. "Just...it's what you'd do, Yuki. So...did you say good-bye?"

Yuki shook his head and Shuuichi glanced up at him. "No?"

"He's dead, Shu. I just needed ... validation of the fact. I never saw the grave—Touma bundled me back to Japan on the first flight. I took flowers. I don't really know why. Felt like a damned hypocrite, but—"

"I'm glad you did."

"Glad?"

Shuuichi nodded. "Whatever else he did, Yuki, he encouraged you to write. He paid for the bad things. I think it's good you thanked him for the good things."

The fingers that had been tracing light pleasant patterns on his back paused. Then:

"I'll bet you thanked Touma for not fighting you about that lock change."

Shuuichi flushed. "K told you?"

"Legendary among his men. Not the thanking part; the standing up to Touma part. They were...impressed. But, you thanked him, didn't you?"

"Yeah. So?"

"So...he did it for himself, moron. He still had the keys and the new advantage of you thinking he was capable of a kind act."

Shuuichi stuck his lower lip out. "I'm not a moron. I also had the law on my side."

Yuki grabbed his lip and tugged gently. "That's never stopped Seguchi. A security system set up by K might have."

Shuuchi pulled free—

And bit Yuki's suddenly defenseless thumb.

Yuki hissed and jerked, but Shuuichi held on, grinning around his hold on the thumb, knowing he was safe from retaliation as Yuki's other hand was being held captive between Shuuichi and the pillows.

But Yuki leaned over and kissed him around the captive thumb. Shuuichi groaned and released the thumb to get more contact with that beloved mouth, then pulled abruptly back.

"You cheated!"

"But I won. And Seguchi would do the same."

"Eee–ew!" Just the thought of Seguchi Touma kissing him was just plain...icky.

Yuki chuckled. "Anything to win. And you think I should thank Kitazawa? For anything? You think he did anything that wasn't...to win?"

Shuuichi didn't even have to think. "Yes. You do things for me—"

"Hah! Like what?"

"Kiss me sometimes even when we don't have sex. Sometimes even after I've been eating Pocky."

"You think that's for you?"

"Yup. You don't like strawberry Pocky."

"And you don't always taste like it."

"But sometimes you kiss me anyway."

"Downpayment for sex."

Shuuichi giggled, knowing Yuki was determined to uphold his self-interested image, no matter what argument he gave. Still: "And Seguchi...he didn't say that just to win, he cares about you."

Suddenly, the air between them grew very serious. And after a prolonged silence, Yuki said, with a touch of bitterness: "You think Kitizawa Yuki...ever...cared about me?"

Shuuichi hugged Yuki close. "I don't see how he couldn't have. Something happened, Yuki, something had to have happened, to make him do something so terrible and someday you'll know what that something is. In the meantime, little Eiri became the writer Yuki Eiri because of him, and Yuki Eiri met Shindou Shuuichi in a park and said horrible nasty things to him, and then he kissed him, and then he even said he loved him—"

"Didn't!"

"Did!"

"Slip of the tongue."

Shuuichi giggled and twisted his head to meet Yuki's mouth and slipped his tongue into the protest to caress the tongue in question. The protest ended as Yuki's tongue returned his caress with interest.

"Yup," Shuuichi whispered against his lips. "Definitely with a slip of the tongue."

"Brat." Yuki murmured back.

"Meanie."

"Moron."

"Maybe. But I'm your moron."

"Point to the brat with the pink hair."

"Yippee!" But his cheer was a near silent exclamation, smothered as it was by Yuki's lips. "Shuuichi made a point!"

"Several. But I'll never tell." Yuki whispered between tiny kisses that traced Shuuichi's upper lip.

"Good." Shuuichi giggled. "Wouldn't want to ruin my rep."

"What rep?"

"Ptl-ptl-ptl—eep!" Shuuichi's raspberry was caught and swallowed and he gave himself up completely and utterly to the man he loved.

✴✴✴

Shuuichi...was leaving.

Eiri roused himself and as the bedroom door inched open: "You'd better just be going to take a leak."

But he knew better. The kid had his pillow in one hand, and his ratty little blanket in the other.

"Uh..."

"Get back here."

Large eyes grew enormous in the moonlight.

"Y–you mean it?"

Eiri lifted the blanket and an instant later, the bed was bouncing and he had an armful of Shu.

"Now...park it. Lie still. Go to sleep."

"S–stay?"

He pulled the armful close.

"Stay, Shu." And as, with a little whimper, Shuuichi cuddled close, falling almost instantly asleep, Eiri whispered: "Forever."

ENDIT

✴✴✴ ✴✴✴ ✴✴✴

Okay, m'friends, that's it for now. I will, however, likely do some 'outtakes' including the scene everyone has probably noticed is missing, which is the scene at the grave site. That's...Yuki's and Touma's scene and was unnecessary in this story. Besides, it really wants to be written in Touma's VP, which just didn't fit with the rest of the story. So...outtakes!

Reviews: To everyone who checked out Ryu's bit over in BtL: thank you! Virtual Pocky and Shu-Hugs to all!

The whole question of the part the dogsuit plays...Totally agree...with both ANKuma and Headcase! (How 'bout that fer waffling?) They are symbolic, but they are a symbolic reflection of how the writers are 'seeing' Shu at the time: i.e. the ever-loyal pet puppy dog willing to get kicked by and for his master. I just actively dislike that interpretation of where Shu's head is at in that final scene. I know it's probably meant to imply his ability to track Yuki anywhere, but it just didn't work for me. Also...the banana suit is just plain silly. I did my nod to his suitcase disguise, though, didja all notice? (LOL) As for taking the costumes literally, that really stretches my enjoyment of the anime. Oddly, Ryu in the Kuma-suit doesn't bother me. Ryu has, whether you're talking manga or anime, a decidedly dangerous side. It's not...demeaning to have him assume the Kuma-suit. Does the term wolf in sheep's clothing mean anything:D Also...he never just appears out of nowhere in it. Shu acquires his suits between one chord of b/g music and the next. Physically impossible and silly. To have Shu actually physically running around in the dog suit...bothers me, because of what it says about his self image. I especially don't like it at all in the final NYC scene.

That Shu is a cosplay nut is, however, obvious, so at the times when it's just plain cute (not to mention physically possible) with a warped Shu-ish logic behind it...like the suitcase or the battery...I admit, I love it. My favorite animal transformation is the hiss-spit kitten on Touma's desk when Touma has the gall to suggest Bad Luck is lacking in something essential. I like the idea of him standing up for himself and what he believes in, and being about as physically dangerous (not to mention reasonable) as a kitten.

As for the crashing into the building...this was one of those moments that I didn't question what the characters were telling me. It just 'felt' right to have this quiet touchdown after the tension and fast pace of his last twelve hours and the thrill of getting blown out of the cockpit. Obviously, I'm not writing a roadrunner/coyote fantasy version, so I really couldn't see how our lad could survive such a crash. Having him 'crash' the performance was about as good as I could manage.

Happynoon: I'm afraid it's hard to write a serious early Gravi story without having poor Shu suffer a bit. It's kind of his job description. The one thing I can guarantee, I'll never write a story where it doesn't come to a happy-Shu conclusion. I haven't had any more Yushu-era stories occur to me, but I've been kind of busy posting the backlog. Hopefully, once I get my current real book done, they'll talk to me again. I love doing the Cotton Candy Snow series...maybe I'll do something involving water, er, sports for summer. :D

Daxemon, Tsuki, AoMe, Yami-no-Hikari-7, R-H PW, BlooDy-May, Sayuri-girl and supershu-chan, and Scorch66: Thank you!

Tsubaki: You couldn't be bad if you tried. ;-) I'm just glad you're enjoying it. You hit the nail on the head...the date isn't really over until they're back home together. Hope this chap rounds it off to a properly warm and fuzzy ending.

FraisesPasteque: I'm posting lots of small chapters quickly, so reviewing several at once is cool:D Yeah, I loved GravEx. So glad she's continuing it. I love the pet names, too, and I have to admit, it does beg for some Between the Lines stories! But I've gotta finish Serghei's story first. Gotta finish...gotta finish...

Thank you all for reliving this wonderful story with me.