A/N: This one is for you, christabelrose.

Yuki, why are you always telling me to shut up?

Eiri was at a loss, again. Shuichi had gone on for two hours now, and he just seemed to be warming up. Eiri stared at his computer screen and sighed, wondering if he'd ever catch the train of thought that had slowly started to chug about two minutes before the brat barreled into his study. It seemed to be growing smaller by the minute.

He couldn't help but worry about the brat in some distracted way as he rambled. Geez, that kid had no insight into human nature. The way he misread, or entirely read to much into, every little thing. It was not entirely unlike how he once was himself, before he realized how entirely self-centered people were. Very little they did was truly motivated by anything to do with him. Everyone was in their own little bubble, only looking out to see how everyone reacted to them. He'd been a lot better off since he'd realized that no one really gave a damn. But there was no sense in trying to explain that to Shuichi. He was just too young. He'd have to learn that one for himself, and damned if he was going to waste his time trying to make the brat understand.

"And -- and it really hurt my feelings, too!" Shuichi exclaimed with an adorable little pout that Eiri always found distracting.

Sometimes Eiri would just sit back and marvel at the candid way his guileless lover expressed himself, wondering what it must be like to have so little shame. Would it be liberating to bleed all over the place like that, or did it require some degree of brain damage to be so thoroughly unaware of what an ass you're making of yourself? Eiri smirked at this thought, but it faded when he realized he'd been no different once upon a time. No, it wasn't stupidity. It was the trust he used to have…

All right. Time's up, idiot. I would have told anyone else in the world to shut it an hour and forty-five minutes ago.

"Would you shut the hell up so I can get back to work?"

oOoOo

Yuki, why do you never act like you miss me when I'm gone?

Finally, Eiri thought with irritation, as Shuichi gave him the hundredth last goodbye kiss on his now chapped lips and the older man watched his lover's pitiful, tearful face disappear into the hallway towards a waiting plane.

You'll be all right, stupid. It's only three weeks. Eiri wasn't sure if he was talking to himself or the kid, and was filled with that familiar, almost comforting feeling of self loathing.

Three weeks later, Eiri is nearly knocked to the floor in the same airport.

"Yuki! I missed you sooo much!" Shuichi wails, showering his face with snotty, teary kisses before earning a smack on the head.

"Come on, brat. Hurry up and get your stuff before I leave you here," Eiri grumbles, letting Shuichi hold his hand as he leads him to the luggage carousel.

"Did you miss me, Yuki?" Shuichi asks coyly, sliding into his lap when they're finally alone back at their apartment.

Did Eiri ever have the inclination, on the drive home, amidst the long winded and enthusiastic recount of Bad Luck's tour to interrupt with his own comparatively unremarkable activities in said time? Did he feel even the fleeting need to share how many times he'd caught himself staring into space, cigarette burned to the filter, as he wondered if and why Shuichi would return to him?

Hell no. After all, one of them had to at least pretend to be strong, and it sure wasn't going to be the whiny brat.

oOoOo

Yuki, why don't you ever take me places?

"Aren't you having fun, Yuki?" Shuichi asked again.

"No," Eiri replied.

Eiri didn't know how Shuichi could stand the places he dragged the reluctant man to after endless cajoling, whining, sweet talk and manipulation.

His head swam as he tried to block out the endless buzzing and movement of the crowd. He felt like he was drowning in a sea of chaotic idiocy, and he longed for the control he felt in solitude.

It was bad enough to even be here as an anonymous cog in the public machine, but no, he always had to stand out, didn't he? Fair hair, light brown eyes, pretty face -- he cursed the reflection he caught in the dizzying mirrored walls of the club.

Then there was the added curse of celebrity. Everyone knew who they were and licked their lips hungrily, wanting a piece of them. Half the room was wondering what on earth the cool Yuki Eiri, ladies' man, saw in the diminutive male pop idol. The other half were the ones Eiri really feared, the ones who knew, who demanded to know with their disapproving glances, what in the world he had done to deserve Shuichi's adoration.

Not a damned thing, he thought to himself, as Shuichi whimpered with disappointment as his lover pushed him back towards the car after only half an hour.

oOoOo

Yuki, why can't you be more romantic?

"Ah, Yuki!" Shuichi wailed as he rode out a wave of pleasure atop the other man, Eiri grasping his hips firmly and guiding the boy down onto him.

There was a raw, tender vulnerability he felt, gazing up at that lean, well toned body as it arched above him, that sweet, wide eyed, innocent face at this moment twisted with lust. He wasn't entirely sure why he found the greatest fulfillment of his life with possibly the least skilled lover he'd ever taken to his bed, but there was something about making love to Shuichi…

Making love, he thought, surprised at the way his own mind had chosen to word it. Yes, that was it.

oOoOo

Yuki, why don't you ever say "I love you"?

"Yuki Eiri, you once said in one of your interviews that you felt that love was a useless emotion. Do you feel any differently now, in the context of your close and seemingly committed relationship with singer Shindou Shuichi?" the talk show host asked him, leaning over the arm of her chair casually, in an attempt to appear as if she were merely making conversation.

The smooth, controlled façade Eiri had invented, after a little coaching from his inferring brother-in-law, to deal with the unavoidable public eye, cracked.

"That's personal," Eiri growled, wondering briefly if the camera was picking up the way he was beginning to sweat, and fighting with every fiber of his being to find the will not to make a scene and flee the set like a temperamental child.

"Can you at least confirm that you're in love with Shindou-san?" she pressed, making his blood boil. He felt a stabbing ache in his stomach as he gripped the chair arm.

"That's -- personal," Eiri gasped, wincing from the pain.

"I thought we agreed there would be no questions about Shuichi," Eiri snarled, slamming the door to the TV station waiting room behind him, and digging through his pocket for the bottle of antacids he'd found himself a little too dependant on.

"My apologies, Yuki-sensei. I had no idea she would ask such a thing," his agent said with a cowering bow that reminded him of Tohma's lapdog at the record label.

Eiri entered the apartment with a sense of dread, knowing that Shuichi had been off for the day and had undoubtedly tuned in for the live broadcast. Expecting teary eyes and dramatic accusations, he was surprised at the calm, almost cheerful scene of Shuichi trying his best to prepare dinner, a glop of something he was at a loss to identify gracing the tip of his tiny upturned nose as he balanced his cell phone beneath his chin while mixing something in a bowl.

"No, I'm not upset or anything," Shuichi explained to the caller, most likely Nakano-san. "That's just the way it is. I've accepted it. He only stays with me because I ask him to, you know?"

Eiri cleared his throat, getting the attention of the boy who was clearly unaware of his presence. Shuichi gave a sheepish smile and ended the call.

"Um, I was hoping I'd be done before you got home," Shuichi said. "Sorry about the mess."

"Since when can you cook, moron?" Eiri asked.

"Since never, really," Shuichi said with a shrug. "You just make it look so easy! But look here, I actually think I got it right!"

Shuichi sat the bowl aside and tugged him by the sleeve, making him sit at the table, and presenting him proudly with a plate of noodles and sloppily chopped vegetables.

"See? I already finished the main course! That's desert in the bowl. It's just powdered stuff from a box, but I didn't want to get too ambitious on my first try," Shuichi said, obviously pleased with himself despite his words.

"Bring me a beer?" Eiri asked, poking at the contents of his plate cautiously with his chopsticks.

"Sure thing!" Shuichi said with a grin, popping into the kitchen and coming back before he'd managed the first mouthful.

Shuichi said nothing, chewing on his lip and watching him with an intensity that would have made him laugh, had he the disposition for such displays, as he took his first bite. It was bland, but edible.

Shuichi resumed breathing, and beamed when Eiri gave a short nod, finally preparing himself a plate and joining him.

After dinner, Shuichi curled beside him with a content sigh as he watched the news.

"So you really liked it?" Shuichi asked again.

"I've had worse. Mika's cooking sucks," Eiri said, before trying to wash the aftertaste of poorly mixed powdered pudding from his mouth with a gulp of beer.

They sat in silence watching the weather report, as the words Eiri had heard Shuichi say on the phone came back to him. He looked down at the blissful boy snuggled beside him, who couldn't care less about the news, but was just happy to be beside him, and sighed heavily.

"You know if anyone else asked me to do something I wouldn't do it, right, brat?" Eiri murmured.

"What are you talking about, Yuki?" Shuichi asked sleepily, giving a stifled yawn.

"Nothing," Eiri said. "Ready to go to bed?"

"Yes, Yuki," Shuichi said and smiled, sitting up and stretching before standing on shaky legs and looking back at him. "And I know."

Eiri looked at him with wonder as he followed him to the bedroom, wondering if the brat weren't a little bit better at reading between the lines than he'd given him credit for.