Author: Kichigai aka J-chan aka Gnine aka I have waaayy to many of them ;)
Warning: Shonen ai...um, possible spoilors for the series…don't think there are, but um...it's possible?
Teaser: Um...I suck at these almost as much as I do at titles? People coping...
Note: It may be pertinent to some who may get through the earlier parts to know that I'm really fond of happy endings...Hope you enjoy my first Gravi fic. Oh, also, this fic has a companion piece written by my sister...kind of a missing scene for this fic, called Requiem. (it's really good!)
Those Left Behind
"Oniichan? Are you there? Eiri?" The mouthpiece emitted a static-filled shout as the cordless slipped from lifeless fingers.
In the background, the reporter continued to drone on about the crash and the passengers on the small flight, oblivious to how great an impact that short, solemn statement would have on so many lives.
"Hey, heelloo? Answer me!" The voice on the other end of the line continued its attempt to regain his attention. However, the man in question had by this time sunk to his knees, head bowed, breath caught in his throat, phone forgotten.
After what seemed like an eternity, the body's demands overcame shock, forcing him to gasp in a lungful of air and force it out once more, one word expelled alongside:
The room looked as if a tornado had swept through: books everywhere, shelves overturned, the few picture frames now lying in ruin, the floor around them strewn with tiny shards of glass.
In the center of it all, Hiro crouched, panting. The obnoxiously cheerful ring of the doorbell instinctually brought his head up, forcing him once more to become aware of his surroundings. Something between a sigh and a whimper escaped his lips. Worse part was, all the mess and he felt no better.
The ding came again, and he rose slowly, preparing to answer it. As he made his way through the wreckage, a stray thought caused him to grimace. Well, at least his room now matched his life, both in shambles.
Normally he'd be surprised by the woman who stood at his door, an abnormal expression of worry on her beautiful face, but since the burst of grief-stricken anger a brief time ago, a blanket of almost comforting apathy had settled over him.
"Have you seen Eiri?"
He shrugged. "Nope, sorry, haven't seen your brother...why?"
"Because I'm worried about him, that's why." Her eyes flashed in sudden anger. "He is…was the most important person to him." They both winced at her hesitant correction, but before he could comment, she plowed on. "And he's missing. I know he's heard, Tatsuha was on the phone with him when the report of the accident came over the news. But that was yesterday, and neither of us have seen or heard from him since."
He continued to gaze at her coolly, still waiting for an explanation of why she had come to him. She must have seen the query in his eyes, because, after a deep breath, she elaborated further.
"And I thought there was a small chance he might have come here…I don't know why I thought that. Maybe I'm just desperate… Though now you know, and perhaps you can assist us in our search."
"Why?" Hiro repeated. What's the point? he finished silently.
"Because," she snapped back, outraged, as if hearing the unspoken question. "Eiri was someone Shindo-kun loved very much and I thought seeing as how you are his best friend, you may care to look out for the people he loved!"
"Was..." he murmured.
"Was my best friend, he's dead now," he bit out. Silence stretched between them as their gazes met, then hurriedly broke apart. Turning abruptly, he swung the door shut in her shocked face.
He made no move to return to his room, however, instead remaining frozen, head tilted back again the thick wood of the door, still shaking slightly on its hinges from the force of his slam.
She's right, the part of his mind that still felt and cared started to shout. Shuichi would have wanted 'his Yuki' to be looked after. Grimacing, he spun, wrenching the door open once more.
"Mika-san, matte kudasai!"
Mika paused halfway through opening the car door, her attention returning to the young musician thundering down the stairs behind her. Reaching the bottom, he bowed his head, ever so slightly, the action widening her eyes slightly in surprise.
"Gomen nasai. You're right; Shuichi would have wanted me to worry...and look. I'll help." His head came up, their eyes meeting, and she gave a barely perceptible nod.
"Arigato." Mika murmured, then quickly turned away, breaking the gaze, not wanting to look into those eyes any longer than she had to, disturbed by the grief she saw within. "Tatsuha is coming up from Kyoto later today and checking any places Yuki might go on the way. My plan is to stop by all his local haunts. Would you be willing to go over to the studio on the off-chance he might be there?"
He raised an eyebrow at that. "Shouldn't Seguichi-san have that covered?"
She lowered her head, voice softening ever so slightly. "I haven't told him Eiri's missing yet...he's had so much else to do, he doesn't need to be needlessly worried-"
"I understand," he answered quietly. "I'll check it out."
She looked up in time to see the redhead turn stiffly, heading towards his bike. Slipping into her car, she watched in the mirror as he revved the motor, then sped away without a backward glance.
They pounced the moment he pulled up in front of the studio, like a swarm of hungry vultures seeking their next meal. The flash bulbs blinded him, the mikes shoved in his face as well as the barrage of questions simply overwhelmed him.
Hiro blinked at them stupidly for a moment before ducking his head in growing anger, and attempted to wade through the lot of noisy and nosy reporters. His attempts failed as they all jostled to get closer, each one hoping to have their question heard and answered.
"-san, won't you tell us-"
"How are you feeling-"
"Just a word, kudasai-"
"Hiro-kun." The last made him pause in his push towards the door, turning to glance in surprise at the sudden appearance of Suguru-kun at his side. It took the reporters a fraction of a second less to identify the new-comer.
"Fujisaki-san, how will this affect Bad-"
"What is your-"
"-does Shindo-san's death im-"
"Go, I'll handle them." Suguru murmured, eyes dark with an emotion Hiro couldn't place having ever seen on the younger boy's face. With a shove to accompany his words, he then turned to the horde hungry for a story.
One of the bunch, noticing Hiro's imminent escape, tried to halt it. "Matte, Nakano-san. Please just tell us how this whole tragedy has made you feel?"
"Why should he bother, it's obvious you wouldn't understand the answer anyway!"
Hiro, who been about to keep walking, halted, turning back in surprise at the boy's furious words. He'd seen Suguru annoyed many times, usually at Shuichi or himself, but never this all-encompassing rage that now oozed from his every word. He waited with the now-silenced reporters for the explanation to that cryptic statement.
Suguru did not disappoint them. "You ask this question, already knowing the answer, knowing that this is tearing us up inside, yet you still ask. Because to you, all that matters is the story, not the people. Your readers could care less about speculation, only about quotes." He practically spat out the last word, face a mask of anger, eyes full of something else, a grief Hiro knew all too well.
In the stunned silence that followed, the guitarist slipped inside, shaken more than he cared to admit by the younger boy's emotional outburst. As the door softly swung shut, sounds of the reporters once more starting the flood of questions could be heard, now focused on the youngest member of Bad Luck.
Hiro hesitated for a moment, caught between his need to continue on his quest and the desire to go back and help. But Suguru-kun had chosen to take this on, he reminded himself. Perhaps it was his way of coping...if only Hiro could find his own way.
Hiro decided to seek out Sakano-san, knowing it was probably a lost cause. But at least Yuki might have possibly called in, checked with someone at the studio to see if the story was true. He was looking for anything that might give them a clue as to where the older man was or what he was thinking. And if he had contacted here, Sakano or K would most likely be the ones to know, considering, as far as he knew, they were handling most of the publicity for the entire…accident.
Hiro sighed, even mentally he choked on the word.
Throwing open the door to Sakano's office, he froze at the sight within. Besides the man himself, four other secretaries were crammed into the small room, all surrounded by multiple telephones, which were all ringing before they could even be rested in their cradles.
In the midst of it all sat the one Hiro had come in search of, attempting to juggle four phone conversations at once, two in Japanese, one in what sounded like English, and another in some language he didn't recognize, and from Sakano's broken words, apparently he didn't really know it either.
Almost hesitantly, he cleared his throat. Immediately five sets of eyes shot to him, four returning immediately to their work upon recognition. The fifth held his gaze, and it was then he noticed the silent tears streaming down his producer's face, tears invisible to the many people on the other lines, who only heard a calm, professional voice.
Hiro bowed his head a moment in silent sympathy, then opened his mouth once more, unwilling to waste more time than he had to.
"Have you heard from Yuki-san?" he whispered, just loud enough to reach across the room.
Sakano stopped all his reassurances and statements and just gazed wide-eyed at Hiro for a moment before shaking his head in a slow negative. Then his mouth was off again, apologizing for the interruption as if nothing happened. But, unlike everyone else, Hiro could still see the tears.
Hurrying down the hall, fleeing the noisy phones and silent tears, Hiro began his search of K, only to find out after a half an hour of searching that the manager was not in the building.
Apparently, a gabby yet sympathetic secretary told him, he'd been in the room with Sakano-san, chattering away like all the others, when suddenly he'd slammed down the multiple receivers, stormed out without a word or a backward glance, and had kept going until he was out of the building, no one brave enough to get in his way.
That was two hours ago and no one had seen him since. Pausing in an empty corridor, Hiro sighed for the umpteenth time that day, the only way of expressing his emotions he could currently allow. He was getting more and more tempted to just give up on this search, let others worry.
After all, it wasn't as if he really cared what happened to Yuki...he couldn't care. If he did, it would all fall apart. Whatever sanity, whatever joy and happiness he had left would all shatter and crumble. In vain he attempted to silence the small part of his mind that whispered, it already has.
It was then Hiro noticed the light blinking above the door opposite him, signaling someone was recording in the booth. Strange, considering the now late hour and the fact that Seguichi-san had yesterday decreed there would be no recording for the next few days, something about a tribute to the dead...food for the reporters.
Angry for some reason he couldn't fathom he reached for the door, sliding it open a crack to peer inside--
And stopped, confused. The lights were all off and he could only dimly make out the figure at the far end of the room by the small sliver of light he was now letting in. Still, even in the darkness and with his back to him, Hiro would still know that voice anywhere.
Sakuma-san, he mouthed in silent shock. His voice, undeniably, but the sound it was emitting was like none the younger musician had ever heard. Unwanted and unneeded, tears sprang to Hiro's eyes, as much as he fought them down.
He couldn't shut the door fast enough, cutting off the song, that one voice alone in the darkness, but it still echoed in his ears, the sadness, the grief. In his travels through the building he had heard people wondering if the carefree vocalist of Nittle Grasper would really comprehend the tragedy, the loss.
"Oh, Sakuma Ryuichi understands," he whispered softly to the empty air--maybe more than anyone else, he understands. Back pressed against the sound proof thickness of the door, Hiro slid to the floor, bringing his knees to his chest.
He realized he was shaking and couldn't stop himself. It wasn't until he felt a cold splash against his hand that he became aware he was crying. As he watched the single drip of water slide slowly from his hand, falling to be soaked up by the carpeted floor, he shook himself, once, hard.
Pushing himself dazedly to his feet, he stumbled down the corridor, gaining speed as he went. He had to get out of here, away from that song and all it represented. He'd find Yuki, or K at the very least, he'd find something. He just had to keep moving, keep looking for something…anything, to fill the ever growing emptiness.
With a small yet somehow satisfying shower of sawdust, the bullet implanted itself in a tree fifty meters away. Aiming, he fired again. The sound as well as the sharp recoil of the gun in his hand felt good. It gave him a sense of reality, a sense of control. It gave him power over both life and death…or so he'd always thought. How cruel to be proven so wrong in such an unfair way.
And it had been his fault, he'd bought the damn, or rather, damning thing. How was he to know? He'd thought it'd be good for the kid. Hell, wasn't it his duty as manager to keep the musicians happy? Wouldn't specially sending him home for a weekend with his lover make Shuichi happy? And the rest of them as well, because he for one wasn't sure how much longer he could have stood the young vocalist's moping and whining. Perfect solution: Shuichi went home and the rest of Bad Luck got a chance to relax and recuperate on Okinawa's beautiful beaches.
Hadn't it been the right thing to do?
Hadn't they all wanted, and more importantly, needed a break?
What was wrong with that?
Why had he bought that damn plane ticket?
Surprised at the shout, he turned to see Hiro wending his way through the trees only a few meters away. Somehow he'd managed to miss his approach; must have been the noise of the gun…or his thoughts.
"What?" K asked, turning fully to face the younger man, weapon now directed at the one who had dared to interrupt. At this, Hiro only raised an eyebrow slightly, by now used to having gun barrels pointed his way.
"Have you seen or heard from Yuki?"
The bullet whizzed close enough to ruffle Hiro's hair, but he didn't flinch. K wished he would, anything to crack the emotionless mask the kid was wearing.
"Aren't we all?"
A shrug. K turned away, firing once more at the original tree. Dimly he could make out the sound of retreating footsteps.
BANG Click, click...Out. Damn, clips were expensive and hard to obtain in Japan, too. Looking at his feet, he counted ten already empty. Oh well, didn't matter, there was nothing else to spend his money on. Reaching down, he snagged one of the full ones from the stack and set about reloading.
The bartender had said they were closing, despite the fact the sign outside told a different story. Maybe it was a recent change, or maybe even the man, who spent every night watching and listening as strangers drowned their sorrow, couldn't stand to see the look in his eyes any more.
Yuki didn't really care, just glad he'd been able to convince the man to part with one more bottle for the road…for a reasonable price, of course. Money didn't matter, as long as it meant silence from his thoughts for even a few minutes longer.
Kuso, why had he decided to take this route home? What was he thinking? Sinking down on the nearest bench, he contemplated the idea that perhaps there were drawbacks to being completely inebriated, but the silence was worth every one of them.
Too many memories, even here--especially here he realized tiredly as his eyes roved around the park, the few street lamps small beacons of light amidst the deeper shadows of night. Why couldn't he just forget, like last time? The uncertainty had hurt...but this was far worse.
Instead he was cursed to have it all replay over and over, the echoes of a voice that would never be heard again trapped in his head forever.
"Yuki? Did you hear what I said? I'm going to be coming home tomorrow! K got me out of the signing in Naha this weekend so I could visit! Isn't it great!"
And it was. At Shuichi's ecstatic announcement he'd felt…relieved; the fervent desire for the termination of the oppressive silence that had reigned growing ever since his noisy, wild lover had left.
But he had said none of that, his mind, his body, his walls betraying him, just as they always did. "Go to sleep Baka, it's 3 in the morning."
"Yuuukiii!" His name said as a plea…always pleading, for love, attention, simple acknowledgement which he never gave, could never seem to allow himself to give. And it would have been so easy, but if he gave in once, he'd have to keep doing so, and it opened him up too much--deconstructed his walls farther than he was even now willing to let them go. So instead he had moved to hang up the phone.
And, as if sensing this, Shuichi quickly responded in the only way he knew how. "Ai Shiteru, Yuki! Oyasumi--"
Click. And once more the quiet had prevailed, filling his empty bedroom. Why hadn't he answered…too late…why was it always too late that he understood?
"You look like shit."
He would have been surprised, but that would have been too close to caring, a capability that had been drowned in an alcoholic ocean with all the rest. Instead he chose to continue his examination of the darkness, ignoring his brother's approach.
Hesitating for a moment, Tatsuha flopped down next to him, twisting to scan the older man's face for a moment before trying to speak again. Not finding whatever he hoped for, or perhaps he did, and that's what scared him, he too turned to stare forward into the deep shadows surrounding them. "Everyone's worried 'bout you."
Tatsuha paused, unsure if he understood.
Yuki shrugged. It didn't matter; there was no one who needed to understand him anymore.
"You're drunk, aren't you?" the younger man suddenly accused, turning once more to squint into his brother's clouded eyes.
"That was the intent." Thinking on it, he raised the bottle still clutched in his hands, only to find it already drained. With a grimace he tossed it casually over his shoulder, the tinkling of shattering glass gracing his ears in return. His lips twisted into an ironic grin…he'd always been good at breaking things, hadn't he?
"What'd you do that fo-" Tatsuha was cut off as Yuki rose, attempting to move away from his brother's presence…it was just one more thing he could destroy, best to avoid them all.
However he only managed a few clumsy, faltering steps before a hand grabbed his shoulder, halting his awkward progress.
"You…you really are drunk!" Tatsuha exclaimed, incredulous. "You never get drunk...how much have you had?"
"Not enough...it's all still there..."
The other was silent at this, unsure how to respond, wondering if there was anything he could say. Yuki could have told him there wasn't, but that already took too much of the nothing he had left. A sigh floated up out of the darkness. "Come on then, let's at least get you home."
Words didn't convince, but something in his eyes, or perhaps the lack of something, was enough to make Tatsuha relent. Hesitating only a moment longer, he made up his mind. With a frustrated grimace, he turned, retreating back the way he'd first come, reluctantly leaving Yuki alone once more.
What Tatsuha hadn't realized was that his brother had already been alone, his presence had done nothing, could do nothing, no amount of people, even at the crowded bars, could change that fact.
Reaching for his cigarettes, all his fingers discovered was an empty pack. No options left now, nothing more to fight them with, even the tears still refused to come help drown them out. Just himself now, and the memories.
The young man sat huddle in the small room, staring at the locked door. Finally the silence once more became too much and he jumped to his feat, raising his fist to pound on the wood and shout the only thing that made sense anymore.
"Yuuukkkkiii!!! I want Yuki!"
Daemon sighed, carefully placing the newspaper he had been reading on the floor next to his chair. Rising, he gracefully strode to the door currently being pounded on.
"Yuki!!!" again could be heard through the all-too-thin wood.
"That's it, I'm going to strangle him."
Jumping up from his spot in front of the TV, Blank hurried to place himself between the door and his irate lover. "Please--you promised!"
"That was before he started this...mantra!" the older man snarled. "I swear, he doesn't shut up soon and I'm not going to be responsible for my actions."
"But..." The child-like face began to pout. "but..."
Blank's eyes darkened, on the verge of tears before suddenly brightening. "Why...don't we let him go?" he suggested reluctantly, hoping the idea would placate the other man.
Pausing, Daemon started to seriously consider the idea for the first time in three days. There was only so much crying and whining he could take, and Blank did more than enough to fill up that quota; he didn't need anyone else.
"I wouldn't," Cassandra finally spoke up from the corner, eyes never leaving her book.
"And why not?" he demanded, ignoring Blank's confused look.
Disgusted, she dropped her book to her lap. "God, it's you two who have been gawking at the TV! Do you ever actually pay attention to what you're watching?"
"Hello, he's famous. The fact that he died in a fireball that plunged into the ocean has been blaring on all the TV's and radios for the past three days. What do you think they're going to do when he shows up miraculously alive?"
"Uh...celebrate?" Blank hazarded a guess. The other two simply glared.
"No, stupid, they're going to start asking questions. Like how did he survive…why was he not on the plane…and most importantly, did we have anything to do with the crash!" She sighed at Blank's blank look. "Not to mention the fact that kidnapping is illegal."
Looking at the floor, he mumbled something that sounded like "I just wanted to meet him..."
She snorted. "Darling, taking someone from the boarding ramp in an airport without a by-your-leave and bringing him here is kidnapping…And you," now she turned her piercing eyes on Daemon, "should have known better."
"And don't tell me you had nothing to do with it. He couldn't have done that on his own. You're the only one I know that could have nabbed someone from a place like that with no one noticing."
He shifted uncomfortably, eyes refusing to meet hers. For once, in all of the three days, he was thankful for the sudden interruption of "I want Yuki!" being shouted once more.
Turning abruptly, he headed for the door, grabbing his coat as he went.
Blank looked up. "Where are you going?" he asked, a note of apprehension in his voice.
"Out. Finding a solution." Before either of them could demand what he meant, he had wrenched the door open and disappeared into the night. Behind them, their "prisoner" began to wail once more.
Hiro glanced at the clock.
4:00 AM. Five hours until the press conference, five hours until Bad Luck's official end would be announced. Though everyone already knew. After all, what was Bad Luck without Shindo Shuichi?
He rolled over. Damn, he needed to get sleep. The memorial service was directly following the conference and he needed to be strong for that; someone there had to be. They'd all agreed it was somehow fitting to lay the band to rest before the body…or lack of one. All they really had was a headstone…
Shit, he wiped fiercely at the hot pricks forming in his eyes. He had to pull himself together, couldn't fall apart, not now. After the ceremonies tomorrow, when he was alone, when he didn't need to be there for everyone else…then, maybe, he could let himself cry, but not before .
His thoughts were interrupted by the shrill buzz of the phone only a few feet from his ear. Of course, it was only 4 in the morning, why shouldn't someone be calling him? Why would he be asleep? It's not like he hadn't told everyone that's what he was going home to do--apparently it had fooled no one--why'd he even bothered.
"Nani?" he growled into the receiver.
"Nakano-san?" He resisted a groan. "Mika desu."
"Yah, what'd'ya want?"
"Have you seen my brother?"
Hiro sighed, "We've already been through this. I looked, I couldn't find him, maybe he just--"
"No, I mean the younger one. Tatsuha."
He blinked in surprise, caught off guard. "Ummm…"
"He came back very late last night, saying he had found no sign of Eiri…yet I could tell he was holding something back…but I didn't push. And now he's gone as well…."
Taking a deep breath and slowly expelling it, Hiro closed his eyes, choosing his next words carefully. "Look Mika-san, Tatsuha was Shuichi's friend too and I'm sure he has grief to work through as well. Both your brothers just need time alone to work this all out…when they're ready, they'll come to you."
"But you hounding them out will only make them run further away."
Silence, then a long, slow sigh. "I know, I'm just...Tohma won't talk to me, though I know he's worried for Eiri, and Eiri, oh god…last time…it's just, I'm…I'm scared." She finally admitted the last in a quick rush.
Hiro nodded, not caring that she couldn't see the gesture. "I know…I…" What could he say to that, there was nothing to say, no answers. She seemed to realize that too, for she mumbled a quick 'Oyasumi' and hung up.
For a moment, he simply sat, staring at the now quiet phone in his hand. "I know…I'm scared too," he whispered into the darkness. Scared about what would come next, scared about finding a way to keep going, scared that the pain would never fade but instead keep growing day after day.
Scared that the world could be so cruel and take away his best friend in the blink of an eye.
It took Daemon the better part of three hours, going from bar to bar, inquiring and listening here and there before he finally found his target leaving a small dive in the bad part of town.
Glancing once more at the picture he'd found in one of the Pop Magazines to be sure, he nodded as he approached.
"You Yuki Eiri?" The frigid gaze was enough to make even Daemon hesitate for a moment, the depths of frozen pain contained within the tawny eyes shocking him to the core.
But it also confirmed that this was the man he sought. Before the other could turn away, he latched onto Yuki's arm with an iron grip. "Come with me."
A pause. "Why?" Barely a question, so devoid of curiosity and caring.
He sighed. "Because if you don't I'm going to be forced to do something even more drastic."
Apparently it was enough, maybe anything would have been, because the other stopped resisting and followed without further protest; he was able to lead the writer to the car parked a few blocks away.
The ride was conducted in silence, though Daemon couldn't keep his eyes from wandering to the younger man. It was funny; from all the rumors he'd heard tonight and the short article he'd read, he wouldn't have expected this man to be hit so hard, one of the nicer descriptions of his silent passenger being 'cold, unfeeling bastard.'
But one look in this man Yuki's eyes proved that all wrong. He was feeling the loss, to the depths of his soul he was suffering. It was all there if one only knew how to look.
OK, so maybe his motivation for doing this wasn't the purely selfish need to shut the pink-haired rock star up. But no matter what other reason, Daemon just prayed this would finally silence the brat that he'd somehow been conned into kidnapping. Damn Blank and his puppy dog eyes.
Staring out through the windshield at the dark road, Yuki almost began to wonder what he was doing, why he'd decided to oblige this stranger and his odd request.
Because he was the first person he'd come across in the last three days of bar-hopping who didn't seem to give a damn how Yuki felt? Because he didn't approach offering sympathy or expecting to see grief? All he seemed to want was his presence and, surprisingly, that was the one thing Yuki had left to give.
Or was it that he simply didn't care, couldn't care enough to object?
It didn't matter, as long as he was moving away from the city, away from all the demands he couldn't answer, away from the pity, the sad looks, all the tears everyone but he could shed; but most importantly, away from the memories.
He set his thoughts adrift on the sea of alcohol fuzzing his brain, the unfamiliar surroundings offering slight safety from the shock of a memory suddenly rearing its ugly due to some familiar stimulus. But even then, he could feel them lurking, just behind the many drinks, waiting to come flooding back as his body flushed the mind-numbing substances from his system.
He was barely aware of the car stopping or the order to follow. Only a rough hand on his forearm got him moving. Some part of his mind registered the two new pairs of eyes that widened in confusion as they strolled into the small apartment.
The small, dark-haired woman was first to voice the question that seemed to be on both their minds.
"Who is that? What are you doing?" she demanded as his "abductor" led him purposefully towards the closed door on the far side of the room.
"Well, I figure, if I can't kill him and we can't let him go, then I'm giving him the one thing that'll shut him up," he stated grimly. Yuki's lips twitched in an ironic grin…how those words mirrored his thoughts on Shuichi on quite a few occasions…once more a wave of regret washed over him.
Ignoring his friends' stunned looks, the man wrenched open the door and pushed him through. "Enjoy," was the last word, or anything else for that matter, that registered as the sight before him froze Yuki's mind in shock.
Shuichi sat dejectedly on the floor, a half-eaten tray of food a few feet away. He'd flopped there almost half an hour ago after his voice started to go hoarse from shouting. It was no use. They wouldn't let him out or tell him what was going on.
The man…or boy--he couldn't begin to place his age--who brought him his food had tried to be nice and talk, but he ignored every question Shuichi had thrown at him, instead trying to get him on the subject of Bad Luck and his music.
Usually the singer would have been more than happy to oblige…but he'd been going home, and these people had prevented him getting there. He wanted out of here, he wanted Yuki. Debating on whether or not he should start his shouting campaign once more, he was surprised to hear the door creak open behind him.
"Hn?" Whipping around to see who it was this time, he halted, eyes going wide at the sight. Unbidden, a wide smile spread across his face as he leapt to his feet.
"Yuuukkii!" The shout came in mid-air as he launched himself gleefully at the other man, all other thoughts forgotten. His arms had only just started tightening around the other's waist when he was jerked roughly away, barely catching his balance at an arm's length away.
Shocked, Shuichi quickly glanced up, confused, only to be pierced by one of the most intense, searching looks his lover had ever given him. Frozen, unable to even breath, he simply gazed into the other's clouded eyes, shaken to the core by the deep suffering he saw contained within.
Fear began welling in his chest at the sight, a million scenarios running through his head. What had happened to put a look he thought together they'd finally vanquished back into those golden depths. Was it something with his family, Mika, Tatsuha, or...
Peripherally he was aware of Yuki's hand slowly being raised to his face, thumb caressing his cheek ever so slightly. "Yu-"
The question was cut off as his shoulders were seized and he was yanked forward, off his feet, strong arms enveloping him in a tight embrace. Time seemed to freeze for a moment as Yuki clung to him with a desperateness that scared Shuichi almost as much as the look he'd seen moments before had. Dazed, he hung in the other's arms, his one free arm awkwardly rising to furrow itself in the thick material of Yuki's shirt.
Barely aware of the fact they had sunk to the ground, so caught by sensation of a wetness slipping down his neck where Yuki's face was buried, it took him a moment to realize the shakes wracking his body were not his own, but instead emanating from the man who continued to clutch him as if hanging on for dear life.
Somehow he was able to find the voice to express his growing concern. "Yuki? Daijoubu? Doushita no? Yuki?" Emphasizing each question with a slight shake, but to no avail. "Please Yuki…tell me what's wrong?" Fear grew at every new shuddering sob.
"Oh, probably just the fact that for the last three days he's thought you were dead," supplied a far too cheerful voice from the door.
It took a moment for the unexpected statement to register. "N...nani?" he barely managed to gasp out.
"Yup, plane you were on went into the ocean about..." The tall, long haired man trailed off, lips curving up in smirk.
Shuichi scarcely registered the move, one moment Yuki's hand clung to his shirt, the next it was cupping his cheek, jerking his face back around away from the door and the grinning stranger. He quickly forgot all else, even his initial shock, as their lips met.
Warmth spreading through him from the contact, he let all other worries flow away, content to simply feel his lover's lips on his, too long since they'd been united like this and the absence had been painful.
Too soon it was over, the contact roughly broken, as unexpectedly as it had began. He found his face clasped tightly between Yuki's slender hands, yellow eyes once more boring into his own. All the worries and fears immediately started flooding back as the silence stretched between them. But they were expelled once and for all with the next whispered words.
He could feel his jaw drop and his eyes start to fill with tears but it didn't matter.
Slack arms rising to return the earlier embrace, Shuichi buried his face happily in the other's chest, vaguely aware of the contented sigh that escaped from Yuki's lips as he placed his chin to gently rest upon his lover's magenta locks.
"Hn?" He shifted the miracle in his lap so their eyes could meet, eyes he thought forever closed. Unable to resist the urge, he gently brushed one of the many unruly strands of hair away from the delicate face, unobstructing that beautiful view. "Nani?"
"Can we go home now?"
The simple request brought a smile to his lips as he realized that he again had a home to return to. "Aa." In one swift motion, he brought them both to their feet, one arm snuggly encircling his lover's shoulders.
Together they turned to look at the man still leaning causally in the doorway, a satisfied gleam shining in his eyes, mouth quirked in a slight grin. "I suppose you want to be leaving now, huh?"
Yuki continued to gaze at him coolly, registering the other two silent observers in the room beyond. Something told him these were not people to be lightly reckoned with.
"I expect there's going to be some questions..." The man cocked his head. "You know, coming back from the dead and all…how he survived a plane crash when all others perished."
"And we'll tell them what happened." He paused, emphasizing his next words carefully. "...what we know, that is." Yuki caught the other's eye, wondering if there was understanding there.
"Which isn't much?" The light-haired man's slowly spoken question answered his own silent one. "Soo...what happens when--if people come looking for us?"
Yuki shrugged in return, his eyes running over the sparse decorations adorning both rooms. "You won't be here...that is if we can remember where here is..." He took a long breath. "After all, I wasn't paying attention when you drove me here...and we'll have to probably walk a ways to find a payphone to call a taxi...and in the dark, it's easy to get confused and forget the way."
They held each other's eyes a moment longer. Then both nodded, deal completed.
Shuichi's eyes darted between the two and Yuki could see his mouth open in preparation to demand what was going on. Halting it before the first breath, deciding to explain later, Yuki guided him out the door, past the surprised woman and boy.
Hand on the door knob, he paused, turning slightly, Shuichi forced to mirror the move as he had yet to relinquish his tight hold. "Thank you," The older man murmured and then walked them both into the night.
"And you're letting them go, just like that?" Cassandra demanded, rising from her chair in confusion mingled with anger.
"They won't betray us," Daemon answered simply, a smile playing at his lips.
"How can you be sure?" she countered, trying to hide her surprise at the unfamiliar expression on the other's face. "Perhaps we should have offered him slightly more incentive to keep quiet about us. We're talking serious--"
His confident reply brought her up short. "Why?"
"Because we already gave him back the only thing he wants."
"Oh," she answered slowly as all she had just witnessed finally registered.
In the silence that followed, Blank slowly rose, making his way to his lover's side.
"Thank you," he murmured quietly, tone unusually restrained.
Daemon raised an eyebrow, curious. "For what?"
A pause. "Which one."
The younger man shrugged. "Does it matter?"
The other shook his head. No, he supposed it didn't. Which reminded him. "Have I mentioned that I love you recently?"
"Because you know I do, right?"
"Hai. Of course," was Blank's confident reply as he entwined his small hand in his lover's larger one, his usual joyful smile brightening his all to innocent face.
"Good," Daemon whispered, drawing the other in closer.
But it was Blank who brought their lips together for a brief kiss. As he pulled back, the boy added softly, "But it's always nice to hear it."
"Nakano-san, Fujisaki-san, it's time."
Beside him, Hiro could hear the chair scrape noisily against the floor as the other remaining member of Bad Luck rose. He stayed where he was, frozen, resisting. He didn't want to do this, couldn't do this. Making this announcement made it truly over, truly gone.
He wondered if this was how Shuichi had felt when he'd faced announcing Hiro's departure from the band. But as he'd shown, that hadn't been final, easily changed. And even if it had been permanent, it was only a lost band member, not a lost friend.
"I'm coming." Hiro quickly pushed himself to his feet. Some things could never be changed, never be regained. Some things, the worst things, were always permanent.
Looking up, his eyes briefly met Suguru's, but the gaze was quickly broken, neither able to stand the grief or the sympathy mirrored in each other's eyes. He nodded once, then made to push pass Sakano hovering nervously in the doorway.
The brief touch on his shoulder was vaguely comforting, allowing him to muster a half-hearted smile in return, offering a reassurance that he didn't truly feel.
"They're waiting," their producer murmured, though the perpetual rushed note was absent from his voice.
"Aa." Hiro lead the way, Suguru pacing him closely. After taking a moment to casually wipe something from his eye, Sakano followed.
The flashes blinded them even before they reached the table at the front of the room. As his eyes began to adjust to the constant flickering, he began to make out familiar faces in the large crowd gathered there.
K had apparently made it at the last minute, gun strangely absent from its holster. Near him, clutching his ever-present pink stuffed toy tightly to his chest, stood Sakuma-san, eyes wide and once more full of innocence. Hiro couldn't quite repress a shudder upon seeing the fellow musician, the haunting song he'd overheard still echoing in his ears.
No sign of Yuki though; the guitarist had been half hoping he'd show up for this. But no, logically, he'd known it was highly unlikely. However, apparently the man's siblings had held the same hope, for tucked in the corner, sitting with Seguichi-sama, were Mika and Tatsuha.
He sighed. Well, nothing to stop him now, might as well get the ball rolling. When he leaned into the mike, softly clearing his throat, the murmurs and chatter quickly ceased, all eyes focusing on him. The only sound now came from the clack of yet another flash going off.
"As I'm sure you all know, four days ago the plane carrying Shindo Shui..chi..." He trailed off as movement at the back of the room caught his eye. He froze, mouth dropping open at the sight of who stood framed in the now-open door, a sheepish grin plastered on his face.
There was a loud rustling as everyone turned to follow Nakano's stunned gaze.
"Oh my god..." Hiro managed to gasp. "Shuichi!?"
Yuki had assured him that this was the first place they had to go, something about a press conference that was about to announce very inaccurate information. They'd had no trouble obtaining entry, the guard freezing in shock the moment his eyes fell on him.
Shuichi barely had time to register that strange reaction before his lover was ushering him towards the press room and gently pushing open the door with one arm, the other still resting on his shoulder. Since their reunion that contact had yet to be broken.
Every head in the crowded room turned at their entrance, prompted by Hiro's slack-jawed stare. Shuichi shook his head, blinking in surprise as everyone gaped at him as if they'd all seen a ghost.
Baka, he told himself. Yuki had explained on their way back that everyone thought he'd died, so to them he was a ghost. He shrugged, clearing his throat in the silence. "Anoo...Ohayo gozaimasu..." He eyed the shocked crowd nervously. "Ja...guess it's kinda obvious I wasn't on the plane…"
Behind him, Yuki groaned softly, using his free hand to cover his eyes. Turning, Shuichi was about to inquire what was wrong when the patter of feet forced him to twist quickly back around.
He wasn't at all surprised to see Sakuma-san gleefully charging towards him, arms wide in preparation to tackle and glomp…what did shock him, however, was the sight of Hiro, Sakano-san, K, Tatsuha and even Fujisaki right on Ryuichi's heels.
As he became overwhelmed by hugs, and back-thumpings, only one thought managed to pierce his haze of amazement: Yuki's hand gripping his arm the entire time, unwilling for even that one joyous moment to break their contact.
It was K who finally suggested moving the impromptu celebration to a nearby five-star French restaurant after Shuichi's very empty stomach made itself heard even over the uproar.
It took NG's entire security staff to clear the reporters out, and in the commotion they'd relocated, moving quickly before the media could either track them down or release their story and thus leave them with the general public and millions of adoring fans breathing down their necks.
Currently, every waiter not rushing to fill their orders (or casually attempting to snatch an autograph) was employed in blocking the doors and windows from the hoards massed outside, all frantically seeking entry and a sight of the returned-from-the-dead vocalist. Thanks to the very generous incentive Seguchi-san had plunked down, the restaurant had been cleared of all other patrons and they were all enjoying a quiet celebration dinner.
Well, as quiet as any dinner could be that had Shuichi, Ryuichi, Sakano, K, Tatsuha, and Hrio at the table, not to mention the quieter, yet on occasion vocal members of their party including Seguichi-san, his wife, Fujisaki and Yuki.
The latter glanced down once more, unable to fight the smile that kept springing to his lips every time his eyes fell upon the body pressed lightly against him. Around him, after hearing their initial explanations of how this miracle was possible, the general consensus had been to become roaring drunk, including his little lover.
Yuki ducked his head slightly to avoid a wildly waving arm and sighed. Shuichi never could hold his liquor. In a slurred voice the young man was attempting to explain to the captive audience of a plant what had happened three nights previous. Hiro, Suguru, K and Sakano, who had given up trying to redirect Shuichi's attention away from the distracting leaves and back towards them, were now simply watching their resurrected musician with bemused glances, occasionally bobbing their heads drunkenly in response to what he said.
Ryuichi had produced crayons from somewhere and was happily decorating the table and floor with a life-sized picture of him and Shuichi 'shining' together. Tatsuha cheered him on, taking a swig at every "PikaPika" uttered.
Mika sat, almost slouching, beside her husband, watching all the going-ons with a slight smile, though Yuki could feel her eyes continually sliding to him. And at every glance, her smile seemed to increase a notch. Even she had already downed three glasses of wine and was on to her fourth. Touma matched her drink for drink and smile for smile, his lips also turning upwards every time his gaze wandered towards the other blond.
Despite the heavy alcohol consumption surrounding him, Yuki had opted out, deciding he'd drunk enough in the last few days, declining all offers, even the champagne. Tonight, he chose be completely sober, not a single drop to mar the memory of the extraordinary gift he'd somehow been lucky enough to receive a second time. He snuggled that gift slightly closer to him, ignoring the surprised looks that action elicited from the others present. No, no alcohol tonight. Finally he understood, and for once, he refused to forget.
 Means shiny or shine in Japanese.
C&C is welcome...in fact I'm desperate for it...please, even if you think it sucks...let me know why, kay?
And, as always, forgot to say this earlier, this fic is dedicated to my 'neechan for her for being a soundboard, my beta and for the constant flow of e-mails demanding more. Thanks…