Title: Critical Mass

Characters: Eiri, Shuichi (Shuichi pov)

Summary: Nothing is exempt from Yuki's criticism

Genre: Romance/fluff

Rating/Warnings: T/ a couple of choice words, and my usual sweet and silly sap.

Disclaimer: Not mine. Just sneaking in to Murakami's sandbox again.

Yuki can't seem to hold back criticism.

I used to think I was special because he would give me his unvarnished opinions about my work, even though they were rarely good… okay, so they were never good, but I soon realized it wasn't a privilege reserved just for me.

He criticizes nearly everything.

Take the TV for example. Not even it is exempt from his scathing reviews. Now, Yuki doesn't watch a whole lot of television, not that you'd guess as much from the state-of-the-art system he has, but I suppose when you have enough money you can spend it however you want. But there are times when he will watch it with me.

Like sometimes in the afternoon, when I actually get out of the studio at a halfway decent hour. Yuki will declare he needs a break from writing and then he'll sit down and join me. It never takes long for him to start complaining about what I choose to watch though, and then he'll wrestle me for control of the remote.

I think it's a little unfair; he always wins the wrestling match. I think he should go a little easier on me, or at least give me a handicap. He's twice my size, damnit! You wouldn't think he'd be so smug about beating me to the remote all the time either, but he is.

If our struggle doesn't wind up leading to other things, as it often does, then we'll make ourselves comfortable on the couch and he'll start channel surfing, usually with me curled up next to him. It was during one of these rare occurrences that I first observed it.

Yuki…arguing with the TV.

I couldn't believe it. This was something sixty year-old men do, not my super-cool, uber-handsome, way-too-sexy, incredibly sophistomacated Yuki. And yet there he was, complaining about some shampoo commercial.

At first I thought I was going crazy.

He then went on to ridicule some actress for her choice of fabric softener.

Then I thought he was going crazy.

But, when he accused some daytime soap opera of stealing material from his novels and went on to call the show the 'most insipid, worst performed, terribly cast, and horribly directed piece of shit' he'd ever seen, I realized Yuki hadn't been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with some pod person after all.

I was just discovering something new about him.

And even though it was a little strange and almost frightening at first, I soon came to love even this aspect of Yuki.

I can't help it; I think the man is adorable.

Like how he argues with the coffee maker. It's soo cute!

No, I'm not kidding.

I've heard him go into such a heated one-sided debate about how good coffee is supposed to turn out, and how the machine keeps producing terrible swill unfit for human consumption, that I'm sure if it were capable of expressing emotions, the coffee maker would have been shamed to death.

Or how he yells at other drivers in traffic.

I wonder if it's a trait of all Uesugis to drive like homicidal maniacs?

According to him, he's the only one on the road who knows how to drive. Everyone else needs to ' Pick a lane, asshole!' or 'Step on the gas, grandma. It's right next to the damn brake!' And those are the tamer comments. Does he actually think the people in the other cars can hear him when he flings his rude insults at them? At least he doesn't make good on his threats to run the other drivers off the road, but that's probably only because he doesn't want to risk wrecking his precious Mercedes.

And I know for a fact that he has had to replace more than a couple of windows when he and his computer have come to an impasse. I'm sure you can imagine Mizuki's reaction to his excuse of 'Sorry, I lost everything when my laptop suddenly decided to fly into the streets of Tokyo' when he wasn't able to meet his deadline.

I guess it's kinda funny sometimes, but it also makes me worry; having that much of a temper can't be good for him. Not to mention the effect it has on property values and the relationship with our landlord and neighbors.

Y'know, all things considered, I think I should be happy. I think he might actually be holding his temper back on me after all.


Sure, he still says I have zero talent, and according to him a grade-schooler with a childish crush could write better love songs, but he's never threatened to throw me out a window for it.

Well, maybe once.

But his biting commentary doesn't hold the impact it once did.

Maybe his verbal jabs don't bother me as much as they used to because I've grown more confident.

Or maybe he's used up all his really creative insults already.

But I suspect it has something to do with the fact that even though he still calls me a know-nothing-brat, or says that he's heard better cereal jingles, the corners of his mouth will quirk up the slightest bit into what might actually be considered a smile.

And his eyes, which at times used to be so cold and piercing, soften and light up with an amused glint.

And while his words are as sharp as ever, his teasing tone of voice has become almost sweet.

Yup, he might not hold back his criticism, but he never holds me at arm's length either. In fact, nowadays he usually holds me close to him and runs his fingers gently through my hair- even when he's telling me I ought to acquaint myself with a thesaurus or dictionary sometime.

There's one more thing that makes me think he doesn't really mean all his nasty comments.

It was something he said to me the very first time we met. He used to say it all the time, but he never says it anymore, and that's something I find encouraging.

So, he might still scoff at my lyrics, and he might still be a little harsh, but I haven't given up hope.

After all, Yuki never tells me to quit.

Thanks to lawless523 for once again helping me improve my work. I was the last person to handle this though, so leftover oddities are the result of me taking my usual creative liberties with the English language.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this piece. This is my first attempt at writing a fic in a first person perspective, and I hope it turned out well, and that I did justice to Shu's voice.

Well, feel free to follow Eiri's example of letting loose with the criticism; leave a review.