The Scene in the Sushi Bar Moon71

SUMMARY: After the returning from Kyoto with his engagement to Ayaka in ruins, Eiri has accepted that Shuichi is an unavoidable part of his life, so he comes up with an idea to protect them both from being hurt. A party invitation offers the chance for him to implement his master-plan, but the night is very young…

MOON BLABS ON BECAUSE SHE LIKES IT: This story is in the list with "Persistence" and "Jilted John" inasmuch as it was one of those ideas that arrived in my head early and caused me a great deal of pain, writing-wise, as it came to life. After much revising and editing of the plot in my notebooks and in my head, including a good deal of simplification, cutting out certain scenes and characters, it was finally born. I'm pleased with the result – I hope you enjoy it.

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

RATING: T (a bit of kissing, mention of sexy goings-on)

WARNING FOR FANATICS: To the die-hard misogynistic yaoi fan: danger of heterosex!! Yes! Eiri actually thinks about doing it with a woman! Shocking!

WARNING FOR O/C HATERS: There are several of them in this story. If any of them are taken for Mary Sues, someone please forward me the number of Eiri's psychiatrist.

WARNING FOR EVERYONE ELSE:For the rest of you – warning of unnecessary sarkiness on the part of the Moon71, who has to go to work tomorrow and is thus in a sour mood. Hey, it's not easy being a grown-up with a husband and a mortgage…

DISCLAIMER: I disclaim all responsibility for this story.

DEDICATION: Hmmmm… how about to all those lovely people whose stories I've reviewed and who still haven't updated… do you recognise yourselves…? I'm waaaaiiiiiiitinnnnng…!

"You look really cool, Yuki…"

Eiri acknowledged the compliment with a vaguely affirmative grunt as he brushed a few stray particles of lint from his expensively tailored black jacket. He did not bother to turn around; he could see Shuichi's reflection quite clearly in the hall mirror and that was more than enough to set his teeth on edge. That wistful gaze, that wavering smile – he wasn't having any of it. This night was too important.

"Yuki, I was thinking…"

Here we go again. "The answer's no, kid. Get over it."

"But – Yuki!" Shuichi spluttered indignantly, "you don't even know what I'm going to say, yet!"

Eiri smirked at Shuichi's mirror image. "You're going to come out with another lamebrain excuse to get me to take you with me. The answer is no."

"But the invitation said – "

"Was your name on it?"

"Well, no, but I really think Mizuki – "

"Forget it." Eiri adjusted the collar of his maroon silk shirt and reached for his car keys. "Trust me, you won't enjoy it. It will just be drinks with a load of boring old farts. I wouldn't go myself if Mizuki hadn't offered me an extension on my deadline."

Even as he said the words he felt his irritation rising. Now what did the little moron have him babbling? Why was he making excuses? Wasn't the whole point of this night to put his whole relationship with Shuichi back in perspective before things went too far?

Eiri didn't actually want to hurt him – didn't want to drive him away. It was too late for that now. He had admitted that to himself not long ago, though he was damned if he'd ever admit it to Shuichi. He just wanted to impose some reality on the situation. They weren't a couple, whatever Shuichi – or Mizuki – seemed to think, and they never would be. But that didn't mean they couldn't… well… have the pleasure of each other's company… for as long as the attraction lasted…

It just meant that some new ground rules had to be laid down; some precedents set. Some perspective recovered. Retreat and regroup, work out a new plan of attack. Damage limitation. Whatever!

"But what I am I going to do with myself all evening?" Shuichi whined.

Eiri restrained himself from uttering the first suggestion which came to mind. "Do what you did before you met me, y'damn brat! Practise your music! Watch your Nittle Grasper videos! Go out with Nakano! Take some of your own advice and go and see your parents!"

Shuichi's shoulders slumped. "It was different before I met you… it was like I was living in a dream. It's like… like… you came and woke me, that night in the park…"

"Yeah right," Eiri scoffed, "like you're Sleeping Beauty and I'm Prince Charming!"

"Prince who?"

Eiri waved his hand dismissively. This conversation had to end quickly. There were times when Shuichi seemed almost wilfully ignorant and thoughtless, but there were other times, like just now, when it was as though he had access to Eiri's most private musings. Living in a dream… you came and woke me… He had to get out of here while the boy was still in this pensive mood. He thrust open the front door.

"But wait, Yuki, hear me out," Shuichi cried, brightening ominously, "what I was thinking was, what if I turned up after you? An hour or so later, maybe? Then no-one will think we're a couple – we could just say we met through Seguchi-san! Oh, please, Yuki – we never go out anywhere together and I really like Mizuki-san and I've never been to a cocktail party before… I promise I won't embarrass you, I won't have any alcohol and I won't try to touch you or anything and I won't tell Mizuki-san's friends that we're…"

"Enough!"

The sharp tone silenced Shuichi at once. He finally appeared to have learned, not without great difficulty, that when Eiri used it he was in real danger of ending the night on Nakano's couch. He lowered his eyes sadly, drawing back.

"Sorry, Yuki…"

Eiri hesitated. A quick kiss, perhaps, just to let Shuichi know he wasn't angry…

No. No, no and no. Ground rules, ground rules!

Suddenly, quite without warning even to himself, he turned back. "Shuichi… have you heard of a mangaka called Nakamura Junichi?"

Shuichi gave a puzzled frown, apparently taken aback by such a random question. "I… don't think so, Yuki…"

The slight tightness in Eiri's chest loosened. "See you in a few – "

"Wait – hang on!" Shuichi's expression cleared. "Didn't he write Tokyo Blood-Night? I'm so crap at remembering author's names! I always go by the titles! Yeah, that was really cool! Man, it seems ages since I've had time to read any mangas… why did you want to know, Yuki?"

Without bothering to answer, Eiri stormed out into the hallway and slammed the door behind him.

TBC: CHAPTER 2 – EIRI AND MIZUKI: Eiri considers his master-plan for a happy future with – and without – Shuichi, and the whys and wherefores of how it came about…