SUMMARY: After Eiri's return from New York, he and Shuichi have some unfinished business…

TIMELINE: After the anime

RATING: K (pretty harmless)

DISCLAIMER: Nahhh, not mine

DEDICATION: To Supershu-chan for nice stories and super-sweet reviews

NOTES: This is the sort of story which was born "whole", as a single idea. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. Does it work? Not sure! Judge for yourselves and let me know!

The strangest thing about the date was that it had actually been Yuki's idea.

When Shuichi had gazed up at his lover in wonder, quite lost for words, Yuki tilted his head curiously. "Well," he said dryly, "that's not quite the reaction I expected… no hysterics, no jumping on me, no dancing about the bedroom…?"

"Yuki…" Shuichi whispered, "are you serious…?"

Yuki didn't answer for a long time. The shadowy predawn light softened his strong features, giving them an oddly vulnerable quality. Slowly he sat up, reaching for his cigarettes. He placed one between his lips and picked up his lighter, but didn't click it open at once, just stared down at it for a moment.

"…Yuki…?" Shuichi asked uncertainly, putting a tentative hand on his bare shoulder.

Seeming to awaken, Yuki lit his cigarette and inhaled deeply. "Why shouldn't I be? I still owe you. The last one I promised you didn't exactly go to plan…"

Well, no, not quite, Shuichi reflected. It had ended instead with Yuki confessing to the horrifying truth of how he had come to kill his beloved tutor before he had disappeared without a word. It had ended with Shuichi wandering home alone, not sure if he would ever see the man he loved again.

But he had got his Yuki back. Yuki had come back to him willingly, in spite of the insistence of Tohma and Mika that it was better he and Shuichi stayed apart. And even they now seemed to accept that it was Shuichi who had been right when he had refused to give up; Yuki had as good as said so by coming straight back to him. To him, not just to Japan. Which proved, didn't it, that he had been right that day by the drinks machine – Yuki loved him.

Of course he had arrived back just as Bad Luck's national tour was getting underway, and for the second time Shuichi had felt himself being torn in half – just as when he had been frantically looking for Yuki, now he couldn't reconcile his need to be near his lover with his equally powerful need to give everything he had to Bad Luck. Finally he had worked up the courage to ask Yuki to come with him on the tour. He had been ready with complicated arguments of how easily Yuki could work from a hotel, about how he would surely enjoy the journey from one side of Japan to the other. He had even been ready to scream and cry and complain until he got his way. But as soon as he asked, Yuki just shrugged and said "why not?" And that was that. Even more proof, surely, that Yuki loved him?

So why couldn't he just relax and enjoy it? Why, after fighting for him for so long, regardless of who or what got in the way, regardless of how Yuki himself felt about it, was he having doubts once he had apparently won? It wasn't that he doubted whether it had all been worth it; he loved Yuki more desperately than ever.

Desperation… yes, that was it. He felt a desperate need to keep Yuki within view, to hear his voice if he couldn't see his face; to touch him, kiss him, hold him in his arms, to go to sleep and to wake beside him. To reassure himself Yuki was real, that this was not a dream from which he would wake to find Yuki still missing. He half expected Yuki to scold him for it – he had always got irritated when Shuichi's behaviour became too clingy. But since his return from New York, the writer hardly complained at all.

Which in itself was… just a little unsettling.

And now this. A gesture that was not only romantic, but fundamentally kind. Shuichi had always thought of Yuki as a kind person, though he knew others, even Yuki himself, looked at him incredulously when he said so. It wasn't something he could explain – just an impression, collected from many disconnected little examples. Now that Yuki was proving him right, why was he so wary? Perhaps it was that Yuki was so quiet as well as so agreeable, as if he had left something of himself behind in New York.

Or perhaps there was really nothing wrong with Yuki, and the problem was Shuichi's alone…

To go back to the place which had been the site of the possibly his happiest – and his unhappiest – moments since he had fallen in love with Yuki… perhaps that was just what he needed…

"Of course, if you think it's a crap idea…" Yuki continued, exhaling smoke, "or maybe you're too grown up for the amusement park these days…? Everyone keeps telling me again and again ad nauseam how mature your behaviour was while I was away… they actually seem to think my vanishing like that did you good…"

"What…? No!" Shuichi shook himself, belatedly throwing his arms about Yuki's neck and almost burning himself on his cigarette in the process. "Oh Yuki, it's a great idea, that's so cool, thank you, thank you, I love you!"

"Now that…" Yuki murmured as Shuichi squeezed him in a suffocating embrace, "is more like it…"

And so they went back to Oidaba Amusement Park. Shuichi almost forgot his worries in the excitement of the day, so focused was he on recreating every special moment. They bought ice cream, rode the rollercoasters, played the shooting galleries, ate crepes in the same restaurant as before and explored the same shops. Only when Shuichi suggested more print-club stickers did Yuki object; he never said why, but after lunch, Shuichi once again caught him looking thoughtfully at the now rather worn photo sticker on his lighter and decided not to press him.

Finally, at just the right time, they went out to admire the sunset. Shuichi gazed wistfully at the beautiful spectrum of pinks, purples and blues, contrasting with the dark cityscape and the sparkling electric lights, and felt a sudden clarity. Yes, coming back here had been a good thing. He knew, all at once, just what was wrong; why in spite of everything turning out just as he had dreamed, in spite of the fact he still had Yuki and Bad Luck, he still felt that nagging anxiety.

"Yuki…" Shuichi moved closer to Yuki, letting their arms brush against one another, dipping his head coyly. "Do you remember what you said the last time we were here? About how you'd do anything I wanted you to do?"

Yuki raised one eyebrow. "I remember…"

"Does that apply to today, as well…?"

A soft snort of laughter. "Sure…"

Shuichi leaned on the railing overlooking the bay. "Then… will you buy me dinner tonight…?"

He glanced over his shoulder to find Yuki smiling slightly. "I think I can manage that…"

"And…" Shuichi dropped his voice to an intimate whisper. "Will you spend the whole night making love to me…?"

Yuki rolled his eyes. "I can try…"

"And…" Shuichi swallowed hard, but when he spoke he tried to keep his tone playful and light. "Will you… tell me you love me…?"

He watched in dismay as the lazy smile evaporated from Yuki's face, his pale brow creasing, the set of his jaw tightening into a frown. His expression grew guarded, a distant look entering his hazel eyes. Shuichi could literally feel him drawing into himself, like a snail drawing defensively into its shell, just as he had so many times before his trip to New York.

You idiot! Shuichi cursed himself, you – you – damned brat!

How many times had he promised himself, while Yuki was away, he wouldn't do things like that anymore, that he would be happy and contented and would never complain about anything ever again so long as he got Yuki back? What more did he want? When would he ever be satisfied?

You're always like this. You don't think about the other person at all, do you?

Suddenly Yuki's bitter words, whispered to him in that freezing, dilapidated New York apartment, rang clear in his head. He had dismissed them at the time, absolutely, unequivocally sure he was right to go after him, unwilling to even entertain the idea of letting him go. But since then doubt had penetrated his resolve. He found he needed to hear Yuki avow his love just to be sure, absolutely sure that this was what Yuki wanted, that he would not sooner Shuichi had just left him alone in New York with his ghosts and his memories.

Shuichi had pestered his lover for so long to say those three words to him, told himself that he wanted to hear them said even if Yuki did not really mean it. But in the end, what difference would words make? For the first time, Shuichi realised Yuki had been wise not to say it if he was not sure it was true; he could say "I love you" a hundred times – it still wouldn't matter if he didn't mean it, or if Shuichi could not believe it.

And now he had ruined everything! All at once, the harbour lost its magic. The sunset seemed oppressive; a symbol of ending, of decline, of lingering sadness. Unwanted memories flooded back. Loneliness. Fear. Doubt. He saw himself once again, finally giving up on finding Yuki and wandering the harbour for a cash machine to draw out money for a taxi, trying hard to convince himself Yuki had just gone home without him. He saw himself in the taxi, trying to choke back bitter tears, wanting only to get back home and find Yuki there.

It had been a mistake to come here. Up until now he had managed to put these painful memories aside, but now they were all around him. Why, why couldn't he have left things well alone and been happy with the gifts he had been given? It would serve him right if Yuki finally told him he didn't love him and never could.

Shuichi fought back tears. What was the use in crying? It was too late to take it back. Unable to work up the courage to look into his lover's eyes, Shuichi gazed fixedly at the ground. "I'm… real tired now, actually, Yuki," he mumbled, "why don't we just forget about dinner and go straight home…?"

When Yuki still didn't answer, Shuichi pulled away from the railing and started back the way they had come. But just then, a hand clamped down on his arm and he found himself drawn back to face his companion. "Y-Yuki….?"

Yuki reached out a hand, stroking the hair back from Shuichi's brow and tilting his chin up so that he could into his face. Shuichi struggled briefly, but Yuki's grip was strong. "Look at me," he said firmly. Reluctantly, Shuichi did so. Whatever Yuki was going to say, he had asked for it and now he would hear it. Unlike Yuki, he thought with a fragile, bitter pride, he wouldn't run away and hide.

"I'm sorry," he heard Yuki say quietly, "I'm sorry I left you here. But I came back, and I'm not going anywhere, so you can relax."

Shuichi gasped, scarcely able to believe what he had just heard. "Oh Yuki…" he choked out at last, "is that… is that why… is that why… you…" As words failed, he waved an arm to encompass the harbour, the amusement park; the day itself.

"Anything you want, right?" Just as he had that time in the moonlight, Yuki gently wiped the tears from Shuichi's cheeks. "So then." He leaned in very close, his breath hot against Shuichi's ear. "I… love you, Shuichi."

Shuichi stared up into the taller man's face, searching for any hint of mockery or deceit, but Yuki gazed down steadily. Was that all this new quiescence meant? That Yuki was happy? That he was in some way… content?

Dazzled by the bright golden eyes, Shuichi turned away once more, clinging to the railing with trembling hands. He struggled to speak but the words would not come. No, not his voice, not now! Surely that couldn't happen twice? He had to say something, anything, quickly, or he was certain he would never be able to speak again. He gazed out over the water.

"It's… even prettier than last time," he gasped, and sighed in relief.

He shivered just a little as Yuki's hand slid gently to the back of his neck and began stroking, long fingers pushing up into his hair, a thumb rubbing lazily just below the ear.

"Maybe it is at that," Shuichi heard him say.