I don't own Gravitation or any of the characters, just the plot.
Shuichi always felt awkward at these black tie events. It wasn't that he didn't like being Eiri's arm candy, he did, but he'd have felt more comfortable (and in his own opinion he'd look better) if he could wear something a little more Shuichi. The custom tailored tuxedo fit exactly as it was supposed to, his lover assured him every time he wore it, but it felt all wrong. It was much more constraining than a t-shirt, less flattering than his booty shorts, and less distinctive than his stage jackets.
He looked a few feet away to where Eiri was chatting cordially with someone Shuichi had probably been introduced to, but since this was a writerly affair he usually wasn't paying enough attention to remember faces and names. Eiri looked stunning in his tux, so good that it made Shuichi want to drag him into the bathroom and tear it off with his teeth. He would refrain, of course, but the vision proved conclusively that some people were meant to wear formal attire and some weren't. Shuichi was not meant for suits, and really he wasn't meant for all this schmoozing with this or that editor or publisher or literary genius.
"Shuichi." Eiri touching his arm made him fly out of his skin.
Eiri reproached him with a glare. Don't embarrass me.
That was their rule for going into public. Since they'd come out, everyone wanted to see them together as a couple, whether it was at album launches, book launches, their many combined press events, or high-end parties of music and publishing executives, like tonight's event. And no matter where they were, Eiri was always remind Shuichi not to embarrass him, as he was prone to do, especially when he was nervous and uncomfortable.
"I'm getting a drink. Do you want anything?"
Yeah. To leave.
Eiri raised an eyebrow but shrugged and went to help himself. Shuichi would have loved a drink, but if he was supposed to stay in control, he also had to stay stone sober. Also, if Yuki got as smashed as he usually did at these affairs, Shuichi would be driving home.
He always wondered if Eiri didn't really want to be here either and knocked back booze to take the edge off, but he was always the perfect picture of polite and sociable, to a degree that sometimes frightened Shuichi, who still rarely saw him so kind in private. But he knew well enough that at least the charming smile was a mask. He was one of the few people who knew Yuki's real smile. He comforted himself with this as he wandered over to examine a flower arrangement in the corner, a little removed from the dancing suits exchanging endless greetings.
He felt someone come up behind him, and hoping it was Yuki he turned with a bright smile, wanting to at show him he was there for him and happy to be there because he felt guilty for sulking, but instead of his brilliant and beautiful lover he saw an attractive young man no bigger than himself and so pretty he'd have mistaken him for a woman if he hadn't been rocking the coolest tuxedo ensemble in the room. A jet black jacket, trimmed in silver, over a white t-shirt emblazoned with a skull and cross bones, and a dangling male pendant hung against his chest.
He stood with his hands in his pockets, cool and at ease, gazing at the flower arrangement that Shuichi had been pretending to be interested in, but his sly smile told Shuichi he knew he was being check out, and he didn't mind.
"I'm always amazed at how much money people are willing to fork over to rent out these huge banquet halls, get the best catering in town, gallons of alcohol, and then skim on the flowers by buying from the cheapest florist in town." The boy laughed to himself. His voice gave away how young he was, and his accent was Thai.
Shuichi looked back at the flowers. They looked fine to him. The kid was now sizing him up, and Shuichi shuddered to imagine what he must think of the stiff tux.
"Are you famous?"
"Uh..." Shuichi scrambled to think of how to answer without sounding like an asshole.
"You have a beautiful face." He took a step closer, and Shuichi had nowhere to move to unless he wanted to knock the flowers off the table behind him. "You could be in movies. Are you a movie star?"
Shuichi sighed in relief to himself. There was no recognition in the boy's eyes, he was just making a bold pass at an apparently single guy. Shuichi wondered how long he'd been in the country. He didn't want to flatter himself, but Bad Luck was still a pretty big deal.
"Shuichi, there you are."
Yuki to the rescue! Shuichi squeezed his hand as he came over and claimed his territory, not giving the kid a second glance. The boy backed up a step, turning his stunning grin at Eiri, who returned a smile but just as quickly turned away towards Shuichi.
"I brought you a drink."
"That's sweet. Thank you." Shuichi took an uncomposed gulp of the cocktail, wondering if Yuki was wondering who the boy was and why they'd been standing so close together. As if to counteract any thoughts he might be having about the scene he's walked in on, Shuichi nuzzled into Eiri's side and was surprised that he was allowed to, at least until someone else approached their party.
"Andre, I have someone I want you to-" The boy turned immediately towards the voice of a tall man in a white suit, obviously American from his accent and curly blond hair.
The man took in the scene, looking between Andre the boy, Eiri, and Shuichi.
"It's been a while," he said finally. Yuki nodded. Shuichi and Andre were painfully hanging on the tension that had blossomed when Shane entered the space.
"I've missed your business," Shane said smoothly. Andre perked up immediately, looking at Eiri with new eyes that made Shuichi want to pummel him. Eiri stiffened and pulled away an infantisimal distance.
"Another life," Eiri replied, slamming an iron door on the subject with the tone of his voice. Shane bowed his head slightly.
"And you must be Shuichi Shindou." Shane stuck out his hand and they exchanged introductions. He was a tabloid reader, Shuichi could tell from his voice. Those were the kind of people who addressed you with a certain smugness, because they "knew" all of the personal details of your life, even if they'd never met you. Andre was still standing by waiting, having not been introduced, while Shane tried to strike up a conversation about some recently published novel, but Eiri wasn't interested. He abruptly interrupted Shane and turned to Shuichi.
"Will you get me a double vodka tonic?" Shuichi, bewildered, nodded and walked towards the open bar, dying to know why Shane had also sent Andre away so that the two old acquaintances could talk in private.
At the bar, Andre leaned over beside him and ordered a margarita. While they waited he eyed Shuichi up and down.
"You're a little old. Who are you with?" His voice was low and confidential. Shuichi, already confused, was not in the mood for his private riddles.
"I'm with Eiri Yuki, and I'm old enough, kid."
"Hey, if that's what he likes. But I mean what agency?" Andre smiled and looked both ways down the bar to ensure they had relative privacy. "A guy's got to look out for number one, right? The American is a dick. I might be looking around. Know anyone I could talk to?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." What was taking so long with the drink?
"Aren't you on call?"
Was he serious? Was he a call boy? Was Shane his pimp? Shuichi looked worriedly towards Yuki. What were they talking about?
I've missed your business.
He was NOT having a three way with Andre. Unless Yuki wanted him alone. In which case he'd have to be there, he couldn't take it.
No. This wasn't negotiable. They weren't in an open relationship. Shuichi rounded on Andre.
"You'd better stay away from Eiri, you little tramp."
"Whoa, relax man. I don't go where I'm not wanted. I've got bills to pay."
Shuichi sneered. His only expEirince with prostitution was the vague recollection of Hiro once telling him that someone had offered to put him up in a fancy hotel for a week and pay him handsomely if he'd call him daddy. Hiro knocked the guy out when he wouldn't back off, but he said he'd have considered it if there hadn't been a gig coming up that they needed to rehearse for. Shuichi had tried to put it out of his mind. It was dirty, and the people who did it were dirty, and sneaky, and were trying to ruin his happy relationship.
"Oh, please. Don't get all high and mighty. We don't all get the fairy tale. I take what I can. No one else is looking out for me."
Shuichi didn't understand it. "How old are you?"
"Old enough." The bartender set down their drinks and they walked back to Yuki and Shane in silence, not looking at each other.
They had obviously missed something big, and they returned to an icy silence covered by thin smiles.
"Andre, I want to introduce you to someone. Come along." Without taking his eyes off Yuki, Shane grabbed the young man's shoulder and steered him away.
Shuichi handed Yuki his drink and he knocked it back in under a minute, but it was the most uncomfortable minute Shuichi had ever expEirinced. He crossed his arms and shifted from one foot to the other.
Eiri seemed like he was going to fall into a moody silence. He set his drink on the table beside the flower arrangement and leaned against the wall. From the slight flare of his nostrils Shuichi could tell he wanted nothing more than to smoke a cigarette and lay on the couch.
"Do you want to go?" Eiri closed his eyes briefly. Shuichi reigned in all of his questions, anger, frustration, and worry.
"Yeah. Let me say a few goodbyes. I'll meet you outside."
Shuichi was more than happy to leave the banquet hall. On his way out he spotted Andre chatting up an elderly businessman with Shane nowhere in sight. He shivered and quickened his pace out.
The valet had already brought the car up when Eiri came out.
"I'm driving." Eiri took the keys from him and they traveled home in silence, Yuki's mind too clouded for conversation and Shuichi too scared to ask what he was thinking about. From the rate at which he was smoking, though, whatever was bothering him would come out before the night was over and before either of them could have peace again.
When they got home Shuichi's first act was normally stripping out of his tux, which was usually followed by a fun romp, but instead he slid off his shoes at the door and curled up in an arm chair, only bothering to loosen his tie. Yuki took off his jacket and sprawled on the couch, staring at a trail of smoke curling towards the ceiling.
He should at least have the decency to start the conversation, Shuichi thought. Four cigarettes later Shuichi got up and walked into the kitchen, half of him wanting a beer and half of him wanting to find something sharp to take back into the other room and stab Eiri with.
"Get me a beer, Shuichi." He pretended not to hear and came back into the living room sipping on his own bottle.
"I asked you to get me something to drink."
"You know what? I asked you to love and honor me," Shuichi exploded.
"You heard me." Shuichi was on his feet, the beer bottle trembling in his hand. Eiri sat up and laid his cigarette in the ash tray.
"I think I've seen all I need to see." He had no idea what he was talking about, but he was upset and he wasn't going to sit here in silence until Yuki decided he was ready to talk. They'd decided they weren't going to do that anymore.
"No." He hardly ever said no to Yuki. And this was a big no, a refusal of everything that had happened that night, from being dragged there in his stupid tux to Andre to Shane to Yuki clamming up again.
"Tell me what happened back there. Who was that? How do you know him? What did he want? And why don't you want me to know about it?"
Eiri cracked his knuckles. "Fine. Sit down." He sat immediately.
"Well, like he said, his name is Shane Baker. I met him while I was in America." From the way he said it, Shuichi knew he meant when he was in America dealing with his ghosts of Kitazawa. "He came to Japan shortly after I returned and set up business." Shuichi already knew what business he was talking about.
"He knew more about me than most people here did at the time. He called me and made me an offer. I accepted it. He dealt exclusively in young men, and it looks like he's still in the same business."
Shuichi didn't tell him about Andre asking for the hook up with another employer. He was stunned and sickened by Eiri's cool tone.
"For a few years I called him every few months, whenever I got tired of wining and dining socialites. But it got old, and it wasn't what I wanted, so I stopped calling him. That was a long time ago. Tonight's meeting was chance. I'm surprised I've avoided running into him for so long, but it was inevitable. He tried to renew our arrangement, I made it clear to him that I'm no longer interested in his services and that he's not to approach either of us again, and he knows better than to talk to the wrong people. His business depends on discretion. That's it."
That's it? The love of his life was a pervert, probably a child molester, and he thought that was no big deal? Andre was probably an imported sex slave, most of the boys were, Shuichi was sure. He'd read about things like this. There was a lot of money in sex trafficking, and Eiri had been feeding the system for years.
Not only that, but the foundation of their relationship was shattered by his revelation. Shuichi knew he wasn't Eiri's first man, but he did think he was on a short list. Yuki knew all along that he was gay. No one pays to sleep with men when they don't like it.
He felt sick. He put his beer on the table and walked out of the room. He heard Yuki following him, and when he got to the hallway he made a run for the bathroom, slamming the door and locking it behind him. He heard Eiri smash into it a minute later and jumped, tears springing to his eyes.
Eiri didn't try to force his way in, and Shuichi chided himself, even with his frazzled mind. Eiri had never physically threatened him. He had no reason to be afraid of him, no reason to cower in the bathroom, crying like a baby. But when he saw him sitting on the couch, telling his story so emotionlessly, he felt like he didn't even know the man talking to him.
Shuichi leaned over the toilet bowl and his eyes watered quicker as the beer, the cocktails, and the last bits of his dinner came up. His insides heaved again and again until he was completely spent. His throat and nose burned and his eyes bled his pain all down the front of his dress shirt. He eventually curled up in the tub and let his body release wave after wave of emotion until he was carried away into darkness.
I'm sorry that I've been away for so long! I'll try to update this one soon, and make sure I finish it, too. Thanks for reading.