Theme: #10, #10

Disclaimer: It's Maki Murakami's sandbox; I just play in it. I don't own the rights to these characters and I don't make any money from them.

Rating/Warnings: Rated M for language and adult concepts. Spoilers for EX.

Summary: Be careful what you wish for.

Word Count: 1,359 excluding introduction and author's note.

Written for LiveJournal's 30_kisses writing challenge community.

Climbing the Charts

Bad Luck's lead singer waited anxiously all weekend for the ranking of their latest single to appear in Monday's Bop Peat magazine. He paced. He chewed his fingernails to the quick even though he knew the manicurist on retainer with NG would yell at him about it. He even twisted his hair around his index finger, a nervous habit that he'd mostly outgrown.

Normally he hated any suggestion that the band record a song with lyrics he hadn't written, but this was an exception. After months – more like years -- of his record company and bandmates badgering him, he'd finally agreed to record a song with lyrics written by Eiri Yuki.

The pressure to use his lyrics resulted from Eiri's fame as a writer and the public's prurient interest in what his lyrics might say about their relationship. These were the same reasons Shuichi had previously rejected the idea. Their relationship had started with Eiri trashing his lyrics. Using Eiri's would be an admission that he'd been right.

However, as Bad Luck became more successful and he grew more self-confident, Shuichi's feelings changed as well. Why reject something that might increase a song's success? But most of all Shuichi felt he owed it to Eiri after having left him for Ryuichi Sakuma, lead singer of Bad Luck's labelmate and closest competitor, Nittle Grasper. It turned out Ryuichi's avowals of love were phony, part of a boys' love mockumentary about one rock star seducing another away from his novelist boyfriend.

To make matters worse, while Shuichi was gone, Eiri had been injured rescuing a child Shuichi was supposed to be taking care of but had left in Eiri's care instead. After all that, Shuichi wanted to prove to Eiri that he was still deserving of his love and trust.

Although Eiri hadn't said anything about it, Shuichi was convinced the lyrics had a personal meaning, so he poured his entire being into his vocal. Everyone involved said it was one of their best recordings ever and was guaranteed to be a big hit. They were also certain Eiri Yuki's involvement would nudge the song up a couple of places in the rankings.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not so coincidentally), Nittle Grasper had released a single the previous week that entered the charts at #5. Everyone connected with Bad Luck -- other than label president and Nittle Grasper keyboardist Tohma Seguchi -- wanted their single to outdo Nittle Grasper's, preferably by a wide margin.

By the time Monday morning arrived, Shuichi was such a bundle of nerves that he couldn't eat the breakfast Eiri made for him. He kept fiddling with his hair and armbands until Eiri, who was driving him to the studio, yelled at him to "stop screwing around so we can leave". Once in the car, he drummed on the armrest until Eiri snapped at him again. "Stop it."

"Can you stop here?" Shuichi asked as they were about to pass a newsstand. Eiri abruptly halted the car, brakes squealing. By the time Shuichi paid for the magazine he was shaking and nauseous and couldn't bear to look at it right away. When he returned to the car, he dug his fingernails into his hands with knuckles white from an overly tight grip on the magazine.

Puzzled by the evident tension rolling off his lover in waves, Eiri again asked, "What's up?" He didn't follow the music scene obsessively the way Shuichi did so he didn't recognize the magazine mashed between Shuichi's hands.

"Nothing," Shuichi replied, not wanting to let Eiri know how worried he was about the results or how much it mattered to him. Eiri usually made fun of Shuichi's mood swings over his music.

"You aren't acting like it's nothing," Eiri said. "You look like you're going to pass out."

The floodgates of speech opened. "Thesinglesrankings comeoutintoday's issue."

"Say that more slowly, you twit."

Shuichi took a breath and tried again. "The singles rankings come out today."

"Oh." Eiri thought for a minute. "You want to see how the new record is doing? The song I wrote the lyrics for?"

"Yes." Shuichi paused and said, "I really want it to do well to make it up to you."

Eiri gave him a look. "Make what up to me?" he asked.

"You know."

"Cheating on me with that asswipe Sakuma?"

Shuichi let out a sigh. Eiri was going to let him have it. Finally. It was almost a relief to get it out of the way; he wanted to get past the inevitable recriminations. It had been hanging over his head ever since he'd returned to Eiri.

Eiri followed up his dismissive words about Sakuma with a smirk, giving the impression that he had said it light-heartedly. Shuichi expelled his pent up breath. He'd been holding his breath waiting for Eiri to tear him a new one. Was it too much to hope that he wouldn't? Or was Eiri lulling him into a false sense of security so it would be more of a surprise when he actually did tear into him?

Instead of pulling up to the front door and letting Shuichi scramble out so he could drive back home immediately, Eiri drove into the underground parking lot and parked in the spot reserved for Shuichi. Since Shuichi didn't drive, in reality the spot was Eiri's.

Shuichi looked at him, puzzled. "Why didn't you drop me off out front?"

As he opened the door to get out of the car, Eiri said, "Because I want to find out how the song's doing too, you idiot."

The remote locking mechanism chirped as Eiri hit the button and the two of them took the elevator up to the sixth floor where Bad Luck's meeting space and studio were located. Suguru sat at a table reading his own copy of Bop Peat. K alternated drinking his coffee and cleaning his gun. Hiro and Sakano were nowhere to be seen.

"So," Shuichi said, out of breath, "what's the verdict?" He'd started quietly hyperventilating while he was still in the elevator.

Suguru pointed at the open magazine, expressionless. "Look for yourself."

Shuichi looked. Their single, "Shining Light", was number ten. Nittle Grasper's single, "Honeycomb", was number four. "What the hell?" he sputtered.

Eiri leaned over his shoulder to look at the magazine.

"Surprising, isn't it?" Suguru muttered. "I wonder if my dear cousin manipulated the rankings."

Shuichi looked stricken. He wouldn't put anything past the man.

Eiri scanned the entire chart and said, "If this were the Billboard Top 100 in the States, your song would be #10 with a bullet."

Shuichi and Suguru exchanged looks and then stared at Eiri curiously. K held his gun up to his mouth and blew into the barrel to clear out the dust and debris.

"What do you mean?" Suguru asked.

"With a bullet means that it's climbing the charts quickly," K interjected.

Eiri glared at him for interrupting but merely said, "What he said."

Shuichi was thinking that given Eiri's past and Bad Luck's trigger-happy manager, 'with a bullet' was an unfortunate choice of words. But what the hell, if it meant that their song was advancing rapidly, he felt better. "What about Nittle Grasper's song?" he demanded. "And where are you getting this information?"

"From the notes in the fine print," Eiri said. "And their song doesn't have that kind of momentum. Your song should overtake theirs next week."

"It's yoursong too," Shuichi said, and threw his arms around the startled author. "I love you, Eiri!"

Eiri saw Suguru and K smirking at him. "You too, brat," he whispered. "Now get the fuck off of me," he said loud enough for everyone in the room to hear. He couldn't afford to be too nice. He had a reputation to maintain.

Shuichi turned his attention to the day's work, mollified by the news that their song, not Nittle Grasper's, was gaining momentum and by Eiri's whispered words. Eiri left the room almost unnoticed, vowing to use his contacts to get an advance copy of the next issue of Bop Peat so they didn't have to go through this again the following Monday.

A/N - Thanks as always are due to my lovely beta HawkClowd. Any errors or oddities are my responsibility alone since I made the last changes to the story.

I hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a review!