In the Dark by Moon71

SUMMARY: Shuichi is late home and Eiri cannot help worrying. Is it to do with what happened the night before?

TIMELINE: Anime or manga-verse, doesn't matter! Some time after the end of Eiri's engagement to Ayaka.

RATING: K-T (mention of adult subjects, nothing graphic)

DISCLAIMER: Not mine, not mine, didn't do it, wasn't there!

DEDICATION: To Noonsam, for brightening up my day!

NOTES: First of all, to anyone I owe replies / reviews etc to, please stick with me - I have had serious problems with my computer and things are not yet completely back to normal!

This story started life merely as a scene of Eiri watching Shuichi and Hiro from the window. To be honest, I can hardly remember what the original idea was, except perhaps just Eiri being jealous of their closeness. The final result is, of course, something altogether different…

This, like most of my stories, was written to be read as one story. As it's a bit long, I've cut it in two at the most convenient point; however, this means Chapter 2 will be a lot longer than Chapter 1! Oh the imbalance of it – it upsets my Libran soul!

LAST OF ALL: This story was heavily inspired by scenes in a couple of Vinadalootoo's stories, most particularly one which hasn't been posted yet. So if it ever is posted - she thought of it first!!!

Eiri didn't know how long he had been standing on the balcony, staring at the empty street below while his feet grew numb with cold. All he knew was that he was annoyed.

Shuichi was late. A few hours late. That was enough to annoy Eiri. He had gotten used to Shuichi's routines – actually begun to adapt his own to fit around them. Not to please Shuichi, of course not – he wasn't quite that far gone. But rather because Shuichi's noisy return home every night was a good cue for him to take a break from his writing. It gave him a timetable, something it was too easy for a home-based worker to fall out of – it gave his day a beginning and an end. It made him eat properly, relax for a bit, even get a decent amount of sleep. And having sex on tap stopped him feeling the need to go out on the prowl at some ungodly hour when the ideas had dried up or the words wouldn't flow. Ultimately it meant Yuki Eiri was more productive, and that meant that Mizuki Kanna and the publishing house generally left him in peace.

But the fact that this was so, even the fact that Shuichi's absence annoyed him at all, annoyed him even more. And more annoying still was the fact that he was actually worried about the little brat. Shuichi always, always called if he was going to be late, whether he was detained at the studio or going out with Nakano Hiro. He called even if Eiri specifically told him not to, even if he insisted in the most unfriendly terms that he did not care. Shuichi always called.

Except tonight. Tonight, of all nights, when he was genuinely late and when Eiri was already feeling uneasy, Shuichi had not only not called, but wasn't answering his mobile phone either. So to add to Eiri's general frustration there was the humiliating prospect of Shuichi realising Eiri had been concerned enough to both call and text him several times.

Eiri frowned, looking down at his own phone which seemed to mock him with its silence and its empty inbox. 3.00 am. 3.00am and no Shuichi. He scrolled down the phonebook as he had several times already that night, staring down at Nakano Hiro's number. Shuichi had programmed it in months ago, insisting Eiri should have it "just in case," and though the presumptuousness of it had irritated Eiri, for some reason he had never gotten round to deleting it.

Now he wished he had. He wasn't going to call Nakano, absolutely no way. Either Shuichi would be with him, and go into paroxysms of ecstasy because "Yuki really cared!" or he wouldn't be there and whether or not Nakano knew where he was, Eiri would still sound like a nagging wife.

Eiri muttered a curse and slammed the phone back into his pocket.

That was it. He was going to bed and he was bolting the door. Shuichi could damn well sleep in the hallway outside. If Eiri had his way he would bar the communal door too, and then Shuichi would have to sleep on the cold, hard concrete steps, where he would hopefully contract pneumonia and -

Eiri caught himself. What the hell did he sound like? A cold-hearted bastard? Well he'd been called that enough times. But no – what he really sounded like was a petulant little brat.

Damn, how did Shuichi stand living with someone like him?

The thought shocked him, but it also cleared his head, enabling to think through the haze of anger.

Last night.

Yes, that was what was really bothering him. It was a mark of how used he had grown to Shuichi's presence, physically and mentally, that it was troubling him this much. He had heard that long-term couples often developed some sort of intuitive second sense, almost a telepathy, which made them think along the same lines, know when the other was near, and when something was wrong. Of course Eiri had never expected to be in any relationship long enough to test the theory… at least until now.

But it seemed to be some sort of intuition which had woken him in the early hours of the night before, knowing, without turning his head or reaching out, that Shuichi was not there. He had lain awake in the shadows, quite still, wondering why his heart was beating so quickly. Finally he had stretched out his arm, found the faintest trace of warmth on Shuichi's side of the bed, and wondered why his heart rate suddenly began to slow.

He had not wanted to move. He had not wanted to know why Shuichi was not there. Shuichi seemed to manage on remarkably little sleep, but once he could actually be persuaded to close his eyes and be quiet, he usually slept like the dead. The only time things had been different were in the first few weeks after…


At any rate, something was wrong, and Eiri had no wish to know what it was.

And yet he had found himself sliding out of bed and making his way into the sitting room where that same irritating instinct told him Shuichi would be. Perhaps, he reasoned, Shuichi had been seized by a creative surge and been forced to act upon it before it was lost. That was something Eiri could understand.

And when he had entered the room, Shuichi was indeed there, but he wasn't composing music or scribbling lyrics, he was just sitting on the floor by the balcony windows, knees drawn up to his chest, staring out.

Eiri had stared for a long moment, not so much unwilling as unable to cross the gulf of shadows lying between them. Shuichi was not aware of him, or if he was he did not want to acknowledge it. Whatever was bothering him it was quite apparent he did not want Eiri's help.

Even so, it would be a simple thing, a small courtesy perhaps to the one who he had taken as his lover, to call Shuichi's name. Just to let him know he was there.

Instead, Eiri had turned around and gone back to bed.

The roar of an engine awoke Eiri from his reflections. He looked down to see a motorbike pull up on the street below, watching the rider and his passenger dismount and remove their helmets.

Right. He's home. He's not lying in a gutter with his throat cut. He hasn't been sold to a brothel in Bangkok. So you can stop acting like his mother and go to bed.

But Eiri didn't move. He kept his eyes fixed upon the couple below. Shuichi was talking very softly, his head bent. Nakano was gazing patiently down at him. After a moment Shuichi reached out his arms in that oddly childish way of his and Nakano stepped forward to embrace him.

So what. Those two are always hugging each other. They've probably watched too many American buddy movies. Now go to bed, idiot.

But it wasn't one of those laughable backslapping, bicep punching all American bear-hugs. It was a tender embrace. Nakano was even stroking Shuichi's hair, and when they drew apart, he tweaked him affectionately. Eiri couldn't see Shuichi's face, but that infuriating instinct told him the boy was smiling.

How very touching.

Get a grip. Are you seriously jealous of Nakano now?

Perhaps that intuition went both ways, because at that moment Shuichi looked up, straight in Eiri's direction. At once Eiri drew back, turning on his heel and retreating into the shadows.

TBC: So where has Shuichi been and what has he been up to? Well I'm off for a long weekend by the seaside so you'll just have to wait until I get back to find out! Assuming you haven't worked it out already…