The Scene in the Sushi Bar Moon71
SUMMARY: Okay, last stupid British-type double entendre joke… Eiri has accepted that Shuichi is an unavoidable part of his life, but that doesn't mean they're a couple. A party invitation – and a chance meeting with an old flame – sparks an idea for the perfect plan to keep things hot, but will the evening go off like a wet firework, or will Eiri end it with a… no, I just can't go on. Even I have limits!
CHAPTER 6: EIRI AND… So what does Eiri want? And how will Shuichi respond? Perhaps Eiri still has a lot to learn about relationships…
NOTES: Well here we are at the end! I do hope you've all enjoyed this! Looking at the ending now, I do wonder if it's a little quick, but I didn't want to make it too self-indulgent. All the same, I have the notes for a sort of epilogue, mainly about Eiri, Shuichi and the sushi bar thing, but also views on our favourite couple from the perspectives of a few of the other party-goers. This was inspired TOTALLY by the generous and supportive comments of my reviewers!
A FEW BITS: Noonsam: You and I do see eye to eye on Eiri and Shuichi. I got the impression (from the manga) that Eiri was still fooling around in the early stages, but it's never mentioned after Shuichi moves in. I tend to think if Eiri was still playing around in the early days, it was more of a reflex action – I get the sense from the manga that he doesn't have much respect for any of the women he sleeps with; they just serve a purpose (I think he virtually says as much in Grav Ex? Can't remember…) Pikeebo: Don't be tooo hard on Eiri… the purpose of his date with Ayano was more to do with his distrust of relationships and his own self-doubt than anything to do with sex. He doesn't think his relationship with Shuichi will last and he's trying to protect himself. As Noonsam noted in a review for the last chapter, Eiri's hooked – he's just struggling in vain to get free! Scorch – enthusiasm like yours really makes a writer's day! As to whether Eiri will come clean… hmmm… well I think Shuichi has more or less guessed in a general sense… less said soonest mended, perhaps? Lilgurlanima – yes, finally Prickly and Cutie are together. Hope you like their special moment. Hiro's problem is Ayaka – he was about to tell Shuichi about his feelings for her, but Eiri's phone call got in the way! Gravitation Fan – thank you, thank you for such a kind and thoughtful review. I'm glad you liked my Shuichi – I actually find him harder than Eiri; I don't like seeing him portrayed as an idiot, but it's too easy to make him the Angel Gabriel next to Eiri's Lucifer! And (there she goes, whinging again…) I hate it when fic writers emasculate him – he's a young man, not a girl! He doesn't just take Eiri's cruelty and then run away to a new country like a battered wife! (And Mpreg? Don't go there!) I'm glad you think I got the balance right!
"Of course it's me, moron," Eiri growled, "who the hell else would it be?"
"But… I thought you were at Mizuki-san's party…!"
"How d'you know I'm not, stupid?"
"Oh! Yeah, right!" Shuichi gave a nervous, hiccupping little laugh. It was obvious he was more than a little disconcerted by the phone call, but Eiri kept his tone coolly indifferent.
"As a matter of fact I'm waiting for you."
"What – you mean you're home already?"
"No… I mean I've changed my mind. I'm taking you to this damned party. Give me Nakano's address and meet me downstairs in ten minutes. Oh – and wear something nice. I know you haven't got anything of your own that would answer that description, but Nakano's got slightly better taste than you… just try to look presentable."
"Yuki! Do you really mean it? You're not making fun of me? You really want to be seen with me? In public? Really truly?"
Eiri couldn't help a reluctant little smile at Shuichi's excitement, but he tried to keep the amusement out of his voice. "No, not really – but Mizuki has something I do want, and you're going to help me get it! Let's call it compensation for all the back rent you owe me! So what's the address…?"
There was no answer.
"Shuichi - ?"
"Look, if you're speechless with shock, give the damn phone to Nakano and he can tell me…"
"Uh…" When Shuichi's voice finally came again, it was apologetic and subdued. "Uh… well, the thing is, Yuki, I… I mean, it's totally cool that you've changed your mind, but…"
"But what? Don't tell me you've come over all shy on me…?"
"No, it's not that… I mean, it's what I really wanted, but… well, I've kind of said I'd spend the evening with Hiro, and…"
This time it was Eiri who was stuck for something to say. It had quite honesty never occurred to him that Shuichi would put his loyalty to his best friend before his longing to be with Eiri, but there it was. Perhaps, Eiri considered with a confused mix of emotions, this was one lesson he deserved to be taught by his open-hearted lover. Yet the chance to salvage something from what had turned out to be a thoroughly misjudged and ill-starred write-off of an evening was too good to pass up.
"Well… why don't you bring him along with you?" Eiri suggested, warming to the idea even as proposed it. Two for the price of one… that had to be worth a sushi bar at least… "Oh… and tell him to bring his guitar…"
Some twenty minutes later – Shuichi having insisted he couldn't get changed in ten – Eiri saw the young vocalist making his way out of the street door of Nakano Hiro's block, greeting Eiri with a vigorous wave and a nervous grin. "Do I look all right, Yuki?"
Eiri studied him. He was wearing what were obviously his friend's clothes – black jeans with a twilight-blue shirt which was a remarkably good match with his eyes. The trousers and shirt sleeves were rolled up to suit his shorter limbs, and even with a belt the trousers hung loose about his slim hips. With a thin leather thong knotted at his throat, the whole ensemble gave him a romantic, almost piratical look which was actually very becoming.
"You look… smart," Eiri admitted softly. And damned sexy with it, he silently added, admiring the shirt's tendency to slip backwards off Shuichi's slender but sinewy shoulders, giving a tantalising view of a collar bone just aching to be nuzzled... "Relax," he said, to both Shuichi and himself as he felt his blood heat. Where's Nakano?"
"He's on his way down, but I…" Shuichi looked away bashfully. "I… I wanted to say… to say that… well…" In the end he gave up, glanced warily about him and finally leaned in through the window to kiss Eiri warmly on the mouth.
The kiss took Eiri's breath away. Not because it was the best he had ever had, even from Shuichi. Not because he had been longing for it, or even thinking much about it, because he hadn't. But because it felt… right. Disturbingly so.
Enough was enough. If he carried on this way he'd have a thundering headache and probably an upset stomach too, and there would be no point in getting any extension on his deadlines if he was too sick to appreciate it. This one battle might be lost, but there was a long war still to be fought. Some way, he didn't know which, but some way, somehow, he would get his life back under his control. He had to, before it was too late for both of them.
Feeling a sudden shiver of cold, Eiri could not help slipping his hand into Shuichi's as his lover slid into the passenger seat. "It's Mizuki you're really doing a favour for," Eiri warned him, "so the idea is that she invited you, right? I just went to pick you up."
"Oh… sure, Yuki…" Shuichi sighed, smiling dreamily down at their clasped hands, "whatever you say…"
As he caught sight of Nakano, Eiri jerked his hand free and scowled, silently intoning a prayer to the patron deity of his father's temple that the final disaster of the night was not yet to come.
Mizuki stood wide-eyed and gaping in the doorway as she took in the sight of the three men standing before her. It was curiously satisfying to see her struck dumb as her gaze shifted stupidly from Eiri to Shuichi and finally to Nakano Hiro, who she seemed to recognise after a good deal of thought. When she finally took in the guitar case slung over Hiro's shoulder, Eiri was quite sure she would actually fall into a swoon.
Within moments, however, she had recovered her poise and was triumphantly leading Shuichi and Hiro over to meet the guests of honour. Even Eiri had to bite back a smile as Shuichi and Junichi stared at one another with eyes like saucers when the introductions were made.
"Well, this is unexpected," Sato Shiho murmured, eyeing Mizuki shrewdly, "I had no idea you were a closet J-pop groupie, Kanna-san…"
"Oh, I'm far too old for that sort of thing," Mizuki giggled self-deprecatingly, "I just happened to meet Shindou-kun one day at Yuki-san's…"
Eiri clenched his teeth and was about to shoot his editor a damning look when Shuichi spoke up.
"Oh yeah, that's right…" he said cheerfully, "Yuki-san was kind enough to help me with my lyrics one day when I got stuck… just as a personal favour to my boss, Seguchi Tohma-san. Isn't that right, Yuki-san?"
Impressed in spite of himself, Eiri could not help bestowing a brief but gentle smile upon his lover as he slowly nodded.
"You really help with Bad Luck, Yuki-san?" Junichi asked, gazing at Eiri with Shuichi-like adoration. "Wow, that's so cool, isn't it, Shiho-chan?"
"Oh, yes…" Shiho answered, her eyes narrowing suspiciously as they shifted from face to face. "That certainly is… cool…"
"Do let me get you all a drink," Mizuki said serenely, "would you like to try a cocktail, Shindou-san? How about a strawberry daiquiri? Or a grasshopper?"
Shuichi glanced uncertainly at Eiri, who just gave a small shrug. Why the hell not? It looked as though the kid had earned it.
As if he knew it, Eiri's lover flashed him a quick grin before turning to blink shyly at his hostess. "Um… what goes into a grasshopper…?"
A short while later, as Shuichi and Junichi talked over one another with breathless enthusiasm and Shiho competed with Fujiko to back Hiro into a corner, Eiri caught his editor's arm. "A moment of your time, Mizuki-san…"
"Yuki!" Shuichi called, waving eagerly to him, his cheeks flushed pink both from excitement and the cocktail he had gulped down in a nervous hurry, "come on… me and Hiro are going to perform something!"
"I'll be with you in a minute, dumb a – I mean, Shuichi-kun," Eiri said, managing a small, gracious bow. Grinning, he tightened his grip covetously on Mizuki's arm before she could escape. "Mizuki-san and I have the small matter of a deadline… and a sushi-bar… to discuss…"