Title: Shortcomings

Characters: Eiri, Shuichi

Summary: One night Eiri just so happens to notice that there's something a 'little' different about Shuichi

Genre: Comedy

Rating/Warnings: OT/ aside from my usual foul language and silliness, implied adult situations, gratuitous sap, mood swings, and shrinkage.

Disclaimer: I'm not Maki Murakami, so I don't own this. My fanfiction is a harmless non-profit hobby that harms no one. Please don't sue.


The door opened and a young man emerged from the master bathroom followed by a thick cloud of steam.

"Ah, nothing like a hot bath after a hard day's work, huh Yuki?" he said as he crossed the room over to where his lover sat on the bed immersed in the novel he was reading.

"What would you know about hard work?"

"Plenty, and don't be so mean to me or you'll be in big trouble."

"And how's that again?"

"Oh, you'll see."

Eiri glanced up between the pages of his book to look at the boy for a moment. He had one towel wrapped around his slim waist and was busily drying his hair with another, his skin was still flushed a rosy pink from the heat of the shower, and water droplets lazily rolled down his toned but slender form.

It was a pleasant sight, one that Eiri was privileged to see quite often, but this time something struck him as a little… odd.

"What is it, Yuki?" Shuichi asked when he noticed the pair of golden eyes intently watching him, but soon he started smiling as he realized there was usually only one reason why Eiri ever stared at him.

"Do you like what you see?" Shuichi whispered huskily. He tossed the towel that was slung over his shoulder into the hamper and crawled on to the bed and swung one leg over Eiri so he was straddling his lap.

With an impish and nearly predatory grin Shuichi reached forward and removed his boyfriend's glasses before leaning in and capturing his lips with his own. Eiri moaned slightly into the kiss and responded pleasantly but Shuichi couldn't help but think that something was a little off.

"Is something wrong, Yuki?" he questioned when he pulled away. "You seem a little… distracted."

"Hmn? Oh, it's nothing," Eiri replied. He put his bookmark in place and set his novel down on the nightstand next to where Shuichi had placed his glasses, then gave the boy a slightly puzzled look. "It's impossible anyway."

"What is?"

"Never mind."

"Aww, come on, Yuki," Shuichi pleaded. "Tell me!"

Damn! If Eiri could be said to possess an Achilles heel it had to that damnable, annoyingly cute puppy dog face.

"Fine," he sighed. "I was thinking that maybe you shouldn't bathe in such hot water."

"Huh? Why not?"

"No reason, but I might join you more often if you wouldn't try to boil me alive like a lobster."

Shuichi snickered at Eiri's imagery.

"Liar," he accused lightheartedly. "You've already said that you don't like to bathe with me because I take too long, splash too much, use too much shampoo, sing too loud… and a bunch of other reasons I don't even remember! So why would water temperature make a difference? Besides, it's supposed to be hot."

"I guess so," Eiri admitted, "but you should probably turn it down anyways."

"Why?"

"Because…"

"Because?"

Eiri groaned inwardly to himself; he had hoped Shuichi would let it drop, but the kid kept pressing him.

"Because I think you're shrinking," he blurted.

"What?" Shuichi cried. His face flushed the bright red of embarrassment, and he instinctually clutched at the towel still clinging to his hips, pulling it even tighter around his body. "You jerk! I can't believe even you would say something so mean. I ought to… to… Grr."

Shuichi leapt off Eiri, out of bed, and on to the floor.

"You can sleep by yourself tonight!" he shouted, turned around, and made to storm out of the room.

"Wait," Eiri said, throwing the covers off himself and before the boy could make it to the exit he got up and wrapped his arms around him, preventing his retreat. "I didn't mean that you moron, that was never very impressive to begin with."

"Hmph."

"Kidding, I'm sorry," Eiri apologized, as rare as such a thing was, and hugged Shuichi a little tighter. "I didn't realize you were so sensitive."

"So what exactly did you mean?" Shuichi demanded, not quite ready to drop his anger.

A sigh escaped Eiri and he loosened his grip around Shuichi and turned him around so he could look the kid in the face. His eyes roamed all over the lithe and tanned figure in front of him scanning it from head to toe.

Shuichi began to squirm and fidget under Eiri's scrutinizing gaze, the renewed heat of embarrassment pooled in his cheeks and he quickly reached his limit, but, right as he was about to do something about it, Eiri finally spoke up.

"I must be going crazy, or maybe I'm just imagining it, but didn't you used to be taller?"

"Huh?" Shuichi stared blankly for what seemed to be a few solid minutes unable to process what Eiri had said, but when it finally hit him burst into a fit of riotous giggles.

"Yuki, that's silly. Don't tease me like that."

"I was being serious," Eiri deadpanned.

"Don't be ridiculous! People don't grow shorter, and they certainly don't shrink in the wash. I'm as tall as I ever was."

"You sure?" Eiri asked as he reached out his hand to measure the boy's height. "I could have sworn you used to come up higher."

"Well," Shuichi mused, "maybe it seems that way 'cause I'm not wearing any shoes right now."

"Neither am I."

"I know, but your wimpy shoes don't have as big a sole as mine."

"Did you just call my shoes wimpy?"

"Yeah, but that's beside the point."

"Do you have a point?"

"Hmph," Shuichi grunted and stuck his lower lip out in a very tempting cute little pout. Eiri leaned in to take advantage of it but unexpectedly Shuichi stepped back and looked up at him with brows furrowed together in concentration.

"Y'know, maybe you're getting taller," he concluded, nodding his head in self-agreement.

"I don't think so; I haven't grown an inch since I was twenty."

"Wow! Yuki," Shuichi beamed in awe, "you continued to grow even into your twenties? Do you think I might still grow a bit?"

"Maybe, but we'll have to stop you from shrinking first."

"I am not shrinking!"

Eiri couldn't help grin. Shuichi was so cute when he was flustered.

"Okay, you're right, you can't possibly be getting any shorter, but, still, you seem a little… well, littler. Maybe I'm not feeding you enough."

"I eat plenty."

"Well you seem to eat enough, but you also seem smaller than ever, and you were a scrawny little runt to begin with."

"I am not scrawny."

"Are too."

"Am not! I'm in great shape, if I weren't K would point a bazooka at me and send me to the gym. I'm just not very big, and I can't help that."

"Alright, I admit you're in good shape, but don't go getting any thinner or you're likely to disappear."

"I'm not that skinny, am I?" Shuichi questioned, his small voice cracking with emotion.

"No," Eiri assured and wiped away the gathering tears from the corners of Shuichi's eyes. "I was only teasing."

"Okay, then I guess I can forgive you this time for being a jerk," Shuichi said, his mood instantly brightening, "but don't make it a habit."

"But isn't my teasing of you already habitual?"

"Unfortunately, but I suppose I should be happy. If not for that, I don't think you would have any hobbies."

"I have hobbies."

"Smoking and drinking don't count."

"I do other things."

"Yeah, but writing is work, and I don't count either."

"Hrmph."

The author fell silent and Shuichi tried to hide his smile. A sulking Eiri was an incredibly adorable sight to Shuichi, but he doubted he could ever tell the novelist how cute he thought he was without the man killing him.

"Not so fun when you're the one being teased, huh?" Shuichi chided. He noticed how although he sure liked to dish it out, Eiri didn't like the taste of his own medicine.

Eiri halfheartedly responded with a noncommittal grunt. He figured Shuichi had had enough mood swings for one night and he didn't want to press his luck.

"Yeah, sorry," he said in a flat monotone that didn't sound at all apologetic.

"S'okay," Shuichi purred wrapping his arms gently around Eiri's neck in an attempt to cheer him up. No matter how cute he was when he was sulking, a humble Eiri became a disturbing sight after a while. "I still love you anyways."

"I know brat," Eiri responded letting the smallest of smiles grace his lips before leaning in and placing them on Shuichi's. When he finished Kissing him and straightened back up a mischievous glint smoldered behind his amber irises.

"Did I always have to bend down so far to kiss you?"

"Yu-ki! Haven't you had enough making fun of me for one night?"

"Yeah, plenty, I'll knock it off. Besides, I'm too tired to keep it up. I'm going to bed. Are you going to join, or are you still mad at me?"

"I'm coming," Shuichi chirped. "Just give me a minute to get ready."

"Get ready?" Eiri asked and quirked a questioning eyebrow at the diminutive pop-star. What could he possibly have left to do?

"Yup, I gotta finish drying my hair, and I need to moisturize too."

"Moisturize?"

"Mm-hmn. Do you think these youthful good looks come naturally?"

"They should, you're just a kid after all."

"I am not!"

"Yes you are."

"Nuh-uh, I'm twenty years old now. Even the government thinks I'm an adult."

"Obviously no one in the current government has met you."

"Yuki! I thought you were going to stop teasing me for tonight."

"I was, but then you had to go and say something stupid and I couldn't in good conscience let it slide."

"Hmph," Shuichi glared up at Eiri in a way that the man found far more adorable than threatening and then without a word turned on his heals and stomped his way into the bathroom.

Close by, Eiri followed but didn't show even the slightest bit of remorse as he propped himself against the door frame and watched while Shuichi began his nightly routine.

Shuichi plugged in the blow-dryer and started with his hair. Despite his previous anger it didn't take long for his mood to brighten and soon he was humming a tune over the sound of the machine. Eiri tried to recognize the song, he well knew most of Shuichi's music by now, but failed. It must have been something new he was working on.

It didn't take long for him to finish since his hair was half dry to begin with and soon the drone of the machine was cut off as Shuichi unplugged it. Still humming quietly to himself Shuichi put the dryer back in its drawer then opened the medicine cabinet for his next sought after item.

He quickly found what he was looking for on the top shelf and reached to grab it but- all pun intended- came up short. His humming abruptly ceased and he stamped his foot in irritation. His face took on an expression of mild frustration as he stood on his tippy-toes to reach for it again, but it continued to elude his grasp.

Infinitely amused by the spectacle, Eiri thought of several smartass remarks he could say to the brat, but decided he'd be a nice guy and help the kid out first. He strode across the room and, standing next to the tiny squirt, reached for the jar he saw Shuichi groping for.

"Wah!" Shuichi yelped, startled by the sudden movement and tripped over his own feet while he stumbled backward in surprise. He would have fallen if Eiri hadn't reacted in time to hold him up.

"Yu-Yuki where did you come from?"

"I was standing in the doorway the entire time. You didn't notice me?"

"Nuh-uh," Shuichi meekly replied. "Jeez, don't scare me like that or you'll give me a heart attack."

"You okay?"

"Uh… yeah. You can let me go now."

"Oh," Eiri released his grip on Shuichi and let him find his feet.

"Here, is this what you were looking for?" he asked and handed over the jar he grabbed off the shelf.

"Yeah, thanks," Shuichi said while twisting the top off the container. He put a small dab on his fingers which he then massaged into his skin.

"How did you put this up there in the first place?" Eiri asked.

"Huh?"

"This jar. If you can't reach that shelf, how did you manage to put it up there to begin with?"

"I don't know. It didn't seem that hard. Was it always that high?"

"Yes, it's not like I go around moving shelves for sport, but it does lend some proof to my earlier theory. You really are shr-"

Shuichi swiftly clamped his hands over Eiri's mouth to silence him.

"Complete that sentence and I'm cutting you off for a week," he scolded before removing his fingers.

"You wouldn't dare."

"Try me."

"Fine, you win," Eiri conceded, yielding to Shuichi cruel and unfair threat. "You know, I could get a stepstool for you, but at the rate you're going you'll need a ladder in no time."

"Hmm, why don't we just switch shelves?"

"Switch shelves?"

"Yeah! You're the tall one, so why do you get the bottom shelf while I have to struggle to get to the top?"

"I don't know. I didn't think about it when I put my stuff there, but we can switch. After all, I know how much you love being on bottom."

"Yuu-ki!" Shuichi squealed, and Eiri smirked triumphantly, glad as ever to get a rise out of the boy.

"I didn't plan on getting any real work done tomorrow anyway, so I might as well make this place more midget-friendly."

"Bully," Shuichi accused, and thrust the container back into Eiri's hands. "You're lucky I like you so much, because you're very hard to get along with."

Eiri grinned back at Shuichi and easily placed the jar back on the shelf he got it from.

"Y'know," Eiri commented as his eyes grazed over all the products on Shuichi's shelf, "maybe all this stuff is the problem."

"How's that?"

"You have so many anti-aging products in here it almost makes my mountain of medications appear miniscule, no wonder you can't seem to grow up."

"I am grown up!"

"Keep telling yourself that, it might come true one day."

"I'm only four years younger than you are."

"That's what I told Mika when she accused me of cradle snatching, but looking at you now, I'm beginning to think she had a point."

"Oh, puh-leeze! Don't act like such an old man. If you're robbing the cradle, then I'm robbing the grave."

"Nice word play."

"Ooh, a compliment!"

"I was being sarcastic."

"Hrmph!"

"Seriously though, what is with all this stuff? I thought some of the girlfriends I had before you were high maintenance, but you take the cake."

"Grr… I can't help it," Shuichi growled. "I'm a celebrity now y'know. I have to take care of myself."

"But don't you think you're overdoing it? One of these days someone's gonna try to pin me on statutory."

"Well, sorry. We can't all be naturally gorgeous like you. Okay?"

Shuichi finally hit the breaking point and couldn't stand any more of Eiri's tormenting. Even though most of Eiri's jabs had been playful and not mean-spirited, his acidic comments had really gotten to Shuichi, touching on some insecurities he hadn't known were there.

Upon seeing that he'd hit a nerve, Eiri decided he'd lay off the kid for the rest of the night.

"Alright, come to bed. I'll stop teasing, okay?"

"Promise?"

"I promise."

"Okay."

With that, Eiri grabbed Shuichi's hand and led him into the bedroom. He let go as he neared the bed and climbed on to 'his' side.

"Coming?" he asked when he noticed Shuichi had yet to follow suit.

"Yup. Just gotta put on my PJs."

Eiri decided not to comment but did wonder why Shuichi bothered; most of the time any nightclothes he would wear were long gone by morning.

"Quit staring, Yuki."

"Huh?" Shuichi's out-of-the-blue statement snapped Eiri out of his thoughts and he found, much to his surprise, that he was indeed watching the boy. "Why?"

"I can't change with you watching me."

Eiri was incredulous.

"You choose some odd times to be bashful, you know that?" Eiri commented. "A little while ago you practically strutted in here wearing nothing but a towel and a smile and nearly pounced all over me, and I don't think you have a single fan that has seen one of your live performances- to say nothing of your ridiculous stage costumes- who would describe your behavior as self-conscious, but you're still shy about dressing in front of me? Why? It's not like I haven't seen it all before."

"I know, but…" Shuichi whined. He stood fidgeting for a minute hoping Eiri would get a clue and turn around the other way, but politeness was something that was quite lost on Eiri. Trying not to reveal too much, Shuichi turned around to avoid facing Eiri, opened a dresser drawer, and pulled out a pair of pajamas.

Keeping his back turned to Eiri, Shuichi bent over and put his feet through his pant holes, oblivious to the fact that doing so caused his towel to slip up and offered Eiri a near perfect view of his perfect backside, then pulled up the pajama bottoms underneath his towel. With the pants in place, he striped off the towel, threw it in the hamper with its mate from earlier, and slipped the nightshirt over his head.

Eiri chortled at the kid's antics and would have laughed outright if he hadn't promised not to provoke him any further that night.

"Aren't those mine?" he asked when he noticed the oversized nightshirt and bottoms Shuichi was sporting.

"They used to be, but you never wear them. I don't know why you keep this pair, you must have outgrown them ages ago."

"And that gives you the right to steal them?"

"Yup," Shuichi chirped. Not bothering to walk around to the far side of the bed, Shuichi instead climbed over Eiri, gave him a kiss, and crawled under the covers on his side before settling down.

"'Night," he mumbled into his pillow.

"Goodnight, Pipsqueak," Eiri whispered back, gently ruffled Shuichi's hair, and switched off the light on the nightstand.

Eiri laid down and quietly listened to the sound of Shuichi's even breathing next to him. The lull of it started to make him drift into an easy slumber, but he was instantly startled to complete wakefulness when it turned into stifled sobs and barely audible whimpers.

Shuichi was crying.

Immediately, Eiri sat up and flipped the light back on.

"What is it this time?" he asked wearily.

Shuichi looked up at Eiri, who saw the tears trailing down his cheeks and impulsively wiped them away.

"It's not fair!" Shuichi wailed and threw himself into his boyfriend's arms.

Eiri was surprisingly stunned by the boy's outburst, you'd think he'd be used to Shuichi's erratic behavior by now, and found himself unable to do anything but whisper small comforts to him while Shuichi buried his face into his chest and sobbed and cried himself out of it.

"What's not fair?" Eiri asked when Shuichi's crying fit had subsided. He gently cupped Shuichi's chin in his hand and tilted his head up to make the boy face him.

"In all the time I've known y-you," the kid stuttered, hiccupping, and sniffling between words, "you've only grown more beautiful, b-but -hic- apparently I'm still the same little, scrawny, kid that you met in the park."

"Oh, Shuichi," Eiri whispered soothingly while the boy scrubbed the remaining tears off his face. "Is that all?"

"Is that all?" Shuichi's anger flared up again. How dare he make light of something so important? "How can you say that? I've gotten to watch you grow and become a better person, but I'm still the same as always, and I-"

Eiri placed two of his fingers over Shuichi's lips to silence him, and when he quieted down, kissed him, noticing the salty taste of the tears from his earlier crying,

"It's true," he said when he pulled away from the boy. "You're still the same little, scrawny, kid that I met in the park, but-"

Eiri smiled gently at Shuichi, his expression one of complete adoration, and continued.

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

The End


Author's notes-

I actually think Shuichi grows up quite a bit in the manga, but it's clear from some of his internal dialog that he doesn't feel that way.

Sorry if the premise for this was a little too ridiculous, but the idea actually came from the great Murakami herself… sort of. You see I was reading through the manga for about the gazillionth time when it occurred to me how much the characters had changed visually. As much as I love and worship Murakami-sama she's not exactly consistent now is she? Not that I hadn't noticed this before, but I seem to have had a sudden epiphany this go around, and this little fic was the result. Please don't take it too seriously; it was only meant as a harmless joke, but hopefully you all, or at least someone out there, enjoyed this, and I apologize if you felt the end was so sappy that I should have handed out pancakes with it. Maybe I should have categorized this under fluff?

Sorry, this fic is un-betad. I tried to turn into something as closely resembling good!fic as I could.

Well, tell me what you think. Go on, click on the review button, I dare you.