Transition

Eiri stared at his computer screen. There was nothing on the document. How could there be? He felt nothing. No words came to mind. All that seemed to fill him was the deafening silence that was once welcomed like a good friend. Right then and there, it was the opposite. It had become his worst enemy.

He awaited his lover's overly enthusiastic greeting. But then thought it more to be wistful than logical. After their fall-out, God knows how long ago, Shuichi would most likely creep inside, and tentatively knock on his door, silent and meek.

His eyes widened as he caught sight of the date. Their fall-out occurred over nine months ago. Had it really been that long? It seemed like just yesterday Shuichi was sauntering about, humming, smiling, and pretty much finding some kind of way to be noisy whether that be from knocking down something or singing. Eiri recalled how much his head ached, being exposed to such a noisy individual, and how much he detested it.

In that moment, he loathed the silence instead.

"Hey, Yuki, Bad Luck is going on tour in America! Could you believe that? I never thought I'd ever live to see the day when Bad Luck takes the world by storm." Shuichi was beaming. This tour obviously meant a lot to him.

Eiri grew livid. And he didn't even understand why. It was possibly because of Shuichi. Here he was prattling on about some obtuse turn of events that Eiri could care less about. All Eiri cared about was getting his work done. "It makes no difference to me. Now get the hell out." Eiri growled.

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Shuichi's hurt expression. He felt a pang in his chest. Why did Shuichi make him feel this horrible? More importantly, why would he even bothering sticking around for more torture? It didn't make any sense. Shuichi didn't make any sense. Though, he knew Shuichi would respond to that inquiry with some recycled speech about being in love with him. That didn't make any sense either. How could Shuichi be in love with such a monster?

Eiri wanted to be done with these wretched emotions. All they did was throw him off balance, and make him want to lash out, and he didn't want to lose control. So he deemed it best to resume his years of solitude.

"Yuki," Shuichi had started. Such agony filled his voice. It sickened Eiri.

"Don't come back here. Live in America, go home to Mommy and Daddy, I don't care. Just leave." Eiri didn't even look at him. He couldn't bear to. He just listened to the silent weeping, and slow footsteps that followed. It wasn't long before Eiri heard the front door close.

The months rolled on by, overlapping into one big day, which turned out to be nine months. Eiri could hardly believe it. All of this time, he still hadn't gotten past the lack of sound. He couldn't stand it anymore. Eiri exited his document, dragging his cursor over to his Internet Explorer icon, clicking twice, and searching for live Bad Luck performances. The most recent was from last week.

"Hello there, everyone! We are Bad Luck, and we've come all the way from Japan to give you our love!" Shuichi fervidly announced in English, his accent heavy. Even so, Eiri was impressed. He wondered how he spoke English so well. Then he remembered that his lunatic of a manager was American. "This is a song I wrote a while back. Are you ready to hear it?"

The crowd roared.

"I'm sorry. What was that? I can't hear you!" Shuichi cocked his head to the side, cupping his ear, successfully teasing the audience into screaming louder. In response, he laughed into the microphone, clearly pleased with the reaction he got. "That's more like it! Now prepare yourselves because we are gonna rock your world!"

Music began to play. To Eiri, it sounded like a bunch of kids who were rubbing knives together, and banging on metal. He was sure that's not how it truly sounded since the audience was so excited about it. The difference being that Eiri's musical ear was more warped than their's.

Though he couldn't hear the music how they did, Eiri was entranced. He found himself staring at the scene, and thinking about how different this performance was from the others Shuichi has done. Usually, he stood still, tapping his foot to the beat, and making dramatic hand motions every now and then. This time around, he was dancing to the music, even incorporating some cartwheels and flips. Needless to say, it was impressive.

The crowd certainly thought so, too. Their applause was so loud that Eiri had to turn the volume down.

Shuichi continued pulling out the stops on the next few songs. It was a wonder how he could breathe while dancing around like that.

Eiri searched for more videos. The more he watched, the more warmth he felt, and he couldn't get enough. Eiri was addicted to them. No, he could care less about the special effects, the cuts to Nakano and Fugisaki, and the ever-changing scenery that had nothing to do with the song. All he cared about was Shuichi.

In those moments, Eiri was realizing more and more with each passing second that Shuichi was the missing link. His absence was why his life had become so monotonous. Nothing mattered anymore, not even his career, because Shuichi wasn't there to share everything with him.

After he watched the videos, Eiri went to NG's website to find out where exactly Shuichi's tour was going. Currently, they were in New York. Perfect. All he had to do was get the plane tickets. Meanwhile, he phoned Mizuki.

"Mr. Yuki, how strange of you to call at this hour." She sounded sleepy. It was understandable since it was ten to twelve.

"I've finished the manuscript." Eiri replied. He had finished it earlier that day. Then he attempted to get started on the next story, but that proved to be impossible. "You can come pick it up tomorrow. It'll be on the counter."

"Excellent, but where are you going?"

"To New York."


"Come on, Fugisaki, have a drink!" Shuichi held a beer out to the younger man. His face was hot, but it felt nice to let loose.

Suguru made a face. It was hard to believe that he was the younger one here. "You shouldn't be offering a drink to a minor, Mr. Shindou, much less drinking yourself." Last he checked, the legal drinking age in America was twenty-one. Mr. Shindou was a few years short. The only reason he was able to sneak some liquor was thanks to Curtis, who was twenty-five.

"It'll put some hair on your chest!" Shuichi tried.

"What part of no don't you understand?" Suguru pushed the bottle back. Seriously. Mr. Shindou could be so irresponsible.

"Suit yourself!" Shuichi sang, tilting his head back to take a few gulps. Once he came up for some air, he faltered, almost falling over. Someone caught him. Someone who smelt like a mix of alcohol, and cologne. Shuichi looked up, and smiled. It was Curtis, his new boyfriend. He was tall, had a great built, sky blue eyes, and short brown hair that was spiked in the front. They had been boyfriends for about nine months.

Curtis laughed, helping Shuichi stand up straight. "I think that's enough booze for you, my dear."

Shuichi giggled, holding onto Curtis, tightly. "You called me dear. That's so very nice of you." He hiccupped.

"Here we go again." Hiroshi commented. Each took a turn hosting covert drinking parties. This time it was Hiroshi's turn. It usually went about this way. Shuichi would drink until he couldn't see straight. Sometimes he'd laugh, uncontrollably, like he was at the moment. Or he would cry, uncontrollably. Or both. It was amusing to see his friend get all plastered after two drinks. It was also nice to see him with someone like Curtis. The guy was just what Shuichi needed. He was conscientious, caring, and shared his love of music.

Every so often, though, Hiroshi wondered if Curtis was really who Shuichi wanted.

At times, he wanted to bring up Yuki. But always decided against it. He recalled how devastated Shuichi had been at first. He'd clam up, and coerce a smile, asking him how everything went with Ayaka. Eventually, Shuichi was able to smile more genuinely, and that was around the time Curtis had joined up with Bad Luck as a background dancer. So he kept to himself about his concern. This was something that Shuichi had to find out on his own.

"I think I'll take him back to our hotel now." Curtis announced, hoisting Shuichi up into his arms.

"Good idea." K said. He had gotten Sakano's limp body onto the couch. Poor guy was stressed to the max, and had drank down his nerves. K didn't think it was possible, but Sakano held his alcohol worse than Shuichi.

Curtis flagged down a taxi. He settled Shuichi into the back of the car, and sat next to him, giving the taxi driver the address. Curtis paid him once they arrived, and carried Shuichi to their room. All the while, Shuichi was mumbling some incoherent things, smiling and giggling.

"You're so handsome, and romantic. Where have you been my whole life?" Shuichi slurred as Curtis managed to open the door.

"On the other side of the world, wondering when I'd finally meet you." Curtis replied, setting Shuichi down on the bed.

"Oh, you say the sweetest things."

"So do you. Now stay there, all right I'm gonna go get you some water."

"You got it, my dear!"

A chuckled left Curtis' lips. He bestowed a kiss on Shuichi's temple before retrieving a water bottle. He gave it to Shuichi, watching as he drank it. Soon after, Shuichi vomited on him. Curtis gasped.

Tears quickly gathered in Shuichi's eyes. His throat was on fire. To make it worse, he had puked on his boyfriend, who had to be pissed, and disgusted by the action. "I'm so sorry." Shuichi cried. "I didn't mean it. Please don't hate me!"

The outburst was shocking. Curtis froze, gaping. Sure, the throw-up was gross, but Curtis would never loathe Shuichi for something that he couldn't help. "Hey, it's no big deal. I didn't like this shirt anyway." He tossed it aside, and gathered Shuichi into his arms. It broke his heart to have Shuichi hysterically crying like he was. He rubbed his back, shushing him, comforting him.

Shuichi burrowed closer to Curtis, as close as he could get. "He's never been this nice to me." He said once he calmed down. He closed his eyes, instantly falling into the void.


"That'll be $2.35." The cashier said.

Eiri paid up in exchange for a Hershey's bar. He was about to exit the shop when he spotted a magazine with Shuichi on the cover. His heart sank. There was a man with him, holding him. Eiri's curiosity drew him to it.

Japanese Pop Star Shuichi Shindou's New Beau? It read. Eiri flipped open to the page where the article was.

It's been months since background dancer, Curtis Raymond, joined Bad Luck on their tour. Since then, he's been spotted with lead vocalist, Shuichi Shindou, countless times whether that be at the park or at the arcade. At first, the band confirmed that their relationship to be nothing more than platonic. However, a recent interview with the duo, says otherwise.

"I had no idea who Bad Luck was when I first met them. Actually, I wasn't all that familiar with JPop at the time. But I was eager to work with them. Dancing is my life, after all, and the type of music or nationality didn't matter to me. All I wanted to do was experience a foreign type of music. I'm so glad that I did, too, because their music is breathtaking. I was impressed with the range, too. With how various the beat can be…like, how one song could be all slow, and soft, and the next could have this frenzied beat that might have rap mixed in. Shuichi has such a powerful voice, and that definitely helps. So does his bubbly personality. It's been a miracle to work with such an amazing person." Raymond says.

Shuichi only confirms our suspicions correct even more. "Curtis is more than a background dancer to me. He's a shoulder to lean on, and an all-around good guy that's so easy to talk to. He's given me the happiness that I've always wanted."

Eiri couldn't stomach anymore. He put the magazine back on the shelf. Shuichi had moved on with a guy that was better for him. He should be happy that he did. But he wasn't. Eiri was upset, jealous, and confused. Why the hell would Shuichi be with another guy? Wasn't Shuichi in love with him? That's what he had said countless times before.

Maybe it was a mistake to come back to New York.

Eiri went to go book a flight back. But he was denied that. No more flights were heading out because of the impending thunder storm. That left Eiri with no choice, but to follow through with his hotel reservation.

He was about to open the door when someone asked. "Eiri? Is that you?" Eiri froze. He knew that voice. His body stiffly turned to face the one person who resembled his teenage love, whose haunted him for over six years. Yoshiki, Kitazawa's younger brother, smiled at him. "Well, well, well. I never thought I'd see you back in New York."


Shuichi woke up, his head throbbing. He squinted his eyes open. His head went up to clutch the side of his head. Shuichi groaned. He felt like crap, to put it mildly.

"I see that you're up." Curtis said, cupping Shuichi's arm.

Shuichi winced. "So loud."

"Sorry." Curtis lowered his voice. A knot formed in his stomach as he remembered what Shuichi said the night before. It was like Shuichi was talking about someone else. Who could this he-person be?

Bile piled up in his throat. Shuichi shot up, covering his mouth. Not again. He didn't want to barf. But it couldn't be pushed down. Shuichi leaned over the bed, heaving.

Curtis jumped into action. He sought a towel for Shuichi to clean his face with, and a garbage can, just in case. Curtis also got more water for Shuichi, to keep him from dehydrating. He rubbed at his hung-over boyfriend's back as he drank, contemplating whether or not he should broach the subject. He stared at Shuichi, thinking of how he bought alcohol for him. Before last night, Curtis didn't think much of it. Everyone needed a dose of alcohol every now and then. Hell, he knew that he needed it. But after what Shuichi said the night before, Curtis suspected that there was more to it than an occasional pleasure.

"Shuichi?" Curtis asked, hesitantly.

Shuichi blinked, hard. "Mmm?"

It didn't feel right to prod when Shuichi was in such pain. "I'll be right back." He went to the restroom to get some Tylenol. But there was none in the medicine cabinet. Curtis knew that it was a must to fight against hangovers. And he recalled buying Shuichi one pack not too long ago. Had he really used that much already? Curtis headed back to the room. "I'm going to the store. You just stay here and rest, all right?" He asked, gently.

Shuichi nodded, wearily, moaning in response. He had no intention of getting up anytime soon.

With that, Curtis headed out to the pharmacy. It was strange. When he found the Tylenol, a man at the end of the isle was glowering at him. It was a tall, skinny man, who had short blonde hair, and piercing golden eyes. He picked something off the shelf, and then stalked past him. It was like an icy wind passed by.


Yoshiki grimaced. Eiri had entered the car by slamming the door. "What's got you so wound up?" He asked, softly.

Eiri yanked the seatbelt over him, slumping back in his seat. The mere thought of that guy made him seethe. How dare he take his Shuichi away?

Yoshiki followed his glare to see a man exiting the pharmacy. His eyes widened. That was Curtis Raymond, Shuichi's new boyfriend. It was no wonder why he was thanked. Yoshiki proceeded to drive back to the hotel. He wanted to ask Eiri about tit, but thought it best to keep quiet. Eiri needed some time to cool down.

"Hey, Eiri, why don't you come in? I'll treat you to a few drinks." Yoshiki offered before he could enter his hotel room.

Eiri didn't want to be alone. So he silently accepted the offer.

Yoshiki showed him to one of the swerving chairs. He handed Eiri a beer from behind the stove. While Eiri drank, Yoshiki began to make dinner. Moving about the kitchen, Yoshiki talked to Eiri. "So you haven't told me why you came here."

"…I came to settle some personal matters." Eiri confessed.

"Oh? Would these personal matters have anything to do with Shuichi?"

"So what if it is?"

"I'll take that as a yes. I must admit. I was confused when I saw Shuichi with another man. But then, I figured that there must be a good reason for it. Care to elaborate on that reason?"

"I told him to leave."

Yoshiki made a plate for Eiri, setting it in front of him. It made him sad to see how badly his brother's death affected Eiri. The tragedy appeared to be taking complete control over his life's decisions. Out of all people, Yoshiki understood that pain. He was devastated by his brother's death as well. What made it worse was how he died. Yuki had gotten drunk, hit on Eiri, and paid ten bucks to get him raped by two strange men. That incident confused, and angered Yoshiki, who thought his brother was above all of that. As betrayed as he felt, Yoshiki was able to move past it.

Yoshiki understood why Eiri wasn't able to do the same. Eiri had trusted, and loved Yuki so much. To have the person he cared for like that turn on him the way Yuki did was ineffably traumatizing. More traumatizing than Yoshiki could ever fathom.

"And why did you do that?" Yoshiki asked.

Eiri took a few sips of his beer. "Because he was getting on my last nerve."

"Is that really the real reason?"

"At first, I thought it was."

"And now?"

"…I feel like I made an error in judgment."

"I see." Yoshiki could tell that Eiri regretted kicking Shuichi out for good. Seeing Curtis with him most likely reinforced that regret. "Why don't you stay here for the night?"

Eiri grinned, slyly. "Is this your way of getting me to sleep with you; giving me a beer and then buttering me up?"

It was nice to see that Eiri was able to joke, despite his situation. Yoshiki joked back. "I'm on my period. Sorry. Maybe some other time."

After dinner, Yoshiki pulled out the couch bed for Eiri. He put on some clean sheets, got him blanket, and pillow. "All done." Yoshiki clapped his hands together, happy to be of help to Eiri.

"Why are you being so nice to me?"

"Huh?"

"I killed your brother, remember?"

"Yes, but I'm not going to hold that over your head. It wasn't your fault."

"How are you able to do that?"

"Do what?"

"Let go."

"It wasn't easy. In the beginning, I was devastated when I found out that Yuki was dead. Then I learned about what he did from Mr. Seguchi, and I didn't believe it at first. Yuki was a good older brother to me. I used to get picked on when I was a child because I wore women's clothing, and he stood up for me. To think that that same person did that to you was…unbelievable, to say the least. My parents, and I went to counseling for a while afterwards. It helped dull the pain, that's for sure. It was relieving to get my feelings down on the table so that I could understand how to cope more."

Eiri nodded. The reason why Yoshiki was able to persevere was because he talked about this feelings. He knew that that was his answer. He had to make his feelings clear to Shuichi. But he was never good at doing that. For over six years, he's been avoiding any form of verbal intimacy. He didn't trust anymore enough to engage in such. That was because he didn't want to be betrayed again. Eiri didn't want to have to deal with the emotions that came with it. The easiest way to evade that was to put up a front, and keep everyone at bay.

"What are you thinking?" Yoshiki wondered. Eiri looked lost in thought.

Agitated, Eiri sighed, taking a seat on the bed. "About how screwed up I am. About how much easier it'd be for me if I were someone else."

"It's never too late for plastic surgery. It worked for me." Yoshiki tried to provide some levity, but it came to no avail. Eiri was giving him a peeved look. Yoshiki held up his hands. "OK, OK, just trying to loosen you up a bit." Taking a breath, he sat down on the couch. "But seriously, shit happens, Eiri. You can't let it dictate your life. It's not worth it. Having said that, let me ask you this, do you want to live the remainder of your life like this or are you going to take advantage of this second chance at happiness?"

Eiri didn't answer. More than anything, he wanted to be with Shuichi. Yoshiki seemed to think that he wasn't serious about Curtis, but who was to say for sure if he was or wasn't? If Eiri approached Shuichi, would he get rejected? What if Shuichi really was in love with Curtis as he feared?


The next day, Shuichi was rejuvenated. He couldn't wait to get out of the hotel, and spend his day off with Curtis. They agreed to go to the arcade in incognito, of course. There was no telling when the paparazzi would be around. So it was better to be safe than sorry.

They played DDR together, attracting a crowd with their skills. They challenged a few people to some rounds. In the end, they were victorious. It was nice to hang around people like this for a change as if they weren't famous.

As much as he indulged, Curtis' concern resurfaced once he and Shuichi were alone. They were wandering around the park. It was the opportune moment to talk. Curtis pulled Shuichi over to a bench.

"What's up, Curtis? You look worried." Shuichi said.

"I am." Curtis replied, taking a hold of Shuichi's hands. "When you were drunk the other night, you said that he was never this nice to me. Who did you mean?"

Shuichi froze. He cursed himself for the slip, hoping that Curtis didn't hear him. Apparently he had. Truth be told, Shuichi wasn't completely over Eiri. On some days more than others, he'd get depressed over it. By then, he had learned to distracted himself from his melancholy in order to avoid the mere mention of Eiri's name. As much as he'd rather not delve into the matter, Curtis deserved to know. "I meant my ex."

"Oh," Curtis said, his eyes narrowing. He could deduct a lot from that one sentence. Whoever that guy was, Curtis hoped that he got some serious karma for making Shuichi cry like that. "Scumbag."

"Could we please stop talking about this?" Shuichi's voice broke. He didn't want to cry. He had already cried too much over Eiri as it was. All he wanted to do was forget. He wanted to be done with these feelings. He didn't want to feel the yearning for Eiri at night nor did he want to feel the need to defend him.

This was obviously a touchy subject. Curtis held Shuichi against him. "Of course."

"All right! Five minutes until show time." Sakano announced as frantic as ever. "Please do your best, everyone. And Shindou, please refrain from crowd surfing, remember to zipper your pants, and please let's not have another microphone stand twirling incident. We can't afford to have another fan injured because of your recklessness." They were lucky that the fan loved them too much to press charges.

Shuichi's face scrunched up. "Why am I the only one getting chewed out?" He asked from his chair. "I'm not the only one who does stuff wrong."

Suguru crossed his arms. "Do tell."

"Well," Shuichi thought for a moment, and then pointed at Hiroshi. "If Hiro keeps winking at girls in the audience, people will start to think that he's whoring around, and Ayaka will surely misunderstand, which won't be any good for our image or for their relationship."

"It's called stage-flirting." Hiroshi countered, confidently. "And you do it too."

"Yeah, but I'm gay."

"I fail to see how that makes any difference and how winking could make the media think that I'm fooling around."

He got Shuichi there. "Well, Fugisaki," he pointed at the younger man. "He keeps drinking water around the instruments when he shouldn't."

"Not once have I ever spilled anything on our equipment. Besides, you drink water in the recording room too, which makes your claim even more invalid than it already was."

Shuichi growled.

K cocked his gun, causing everyone to jump. "Enough of this! As of now, I'm making a new rule, and that will be to refrain from bitching before any and all performances. Failure to comply will result in a punishment involving my AK-47. Is that understood?"

"Yes, sir!" They all stood up straight, and saluted in a frenzy.

"Very well, then. Now go knock 'em dead." K grinned, pushing them out the door.

Bad Luck took the stage, setting up their equipment. It wasn't long before they were announced. The curtains came up, and the crowd roared and clapped with excitement. Pride welled up in Shuichi. A smirk spread across his face. "Whose ready to party?" He loudly asked into the microphone. The crowd responded by cheering again. "Hit it." He told Hiro and Fugisaki.

The music began. Shuichi tapped his foot slowly to the beat of Anti-Nostalgic. His chest tightened, recalling how this song was inspired. It was when Eiri had kicked him out the day after their first time. We spent one night together and that's all it was. That cut Shuichi deep. It hurt to know that Eiri only thought that night had been nothing more than another hook-up when it meant so much to Shuichi.

Near the end of the song, he got choked up, singing the last few lines with a wavering voice. His innumerable amount of fans reacted with affectionate aws, and screamed comforting words to Shuichi. Above all of the noise, all Shuichi was able to make out was, 'Don't cry, Shuichi, we love you', 'What's wrong', and 'Are you ok'. Shuichi gave a watery chuckle, using his pointer, and thumb to wipe the tears off his face.

"Shuichi," Hiroshi murmured, concerned for his friend. It wasn't like him to break down on stage.

"Don't worry, everyone, I'm all right. It's just that…while I was singing, I remembered something sad, and…." Shuichi's smile faded as he caught sight of a man in the crowd. His hand slid of the microphone stand.

It was Eiri.

Everything flashed in his mind at light speed; all the times he spotted Eiri in the back of the audience at his concerts, all the times he was face-to-face with that intense stare, and the cruel words that came from that beautiful mouth. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as he fell onto the stage.

"Mr. Shindou!"

"Shuichi!"

Suguru and Hiroshi rushed to Shuichi's side.

The whole stadium of people panicked.

Curtis dashed onto the stage. He kneeled down before Shuichi, who was cradled in Hiroshi's arms. "Shuichi?" He asked, frantically. "Shuichi, wake up! Open your eyes, please, and tell me that you're all right."

Something inside of Eiri jumped, alerted, causing him to take a step forward. Anger overlapped with his shock as he saw Curtis put his hands on his Shuichi.

The paramedics came in to take away Shuichi on a stretcher. Eiri exited the stadium, the ambulance sirens sounding more clearly in the parking lot. Eiri headed to his car, waiting for the ambulance to take off. Once they did, Eiri followed them to the hospital.

He parked his car as soon as he found a spot. Eiri slammed the door, and locked his car. He didn't remember the last time he ran that fast. By the time he got past the sliding doors, he was winded. Eiri's lungs were on fire, and he put a hand to his rapidly beating heart.

"Mr. Yuki?" Hiroshi asked in shock, getting up from his seat.

Eiri stiffened, opening his eyes. The whole Bad Luck screw as well as Curtis were there in the waiting room.

Curtis looked up to Hiroshi. Yuki…Why did that name sound so familiar? He pondered it for a moment. Yuki, Yuki, Yuki…Then it snapped. Curtis remembered that Shuichi was mumbling that name in his sleep, repeatedly apologizing. This had to be Shuichi's ex. Curtis shot to his feet, taking fierce strides towards Yuki. "So you're him." He growled, holding up a fist to hit him with.

Hiroshi lunged forward, taking Curtis by the arm. "Wait, Curtis! Don't do this!" He had to grab him by the waist to get a better grip. Curtis persisted to fight against him.

"You did this to him, you son of a bitch!" Curtis yelled. He wished Hiroshi would let go so that he could give this bastard what he deserved. "He's hurting because of you. How dare you do this to him?"

K fired a shot at a flower pot. That did the trick. Curtis stopped.

The people in the waiting room were frozen with terror, staying close to one another.

"Good. Now I believe that Mr. Yuki has a good reason to be here. Isn't that right?" K asked.

Eiri didn't reply. He was still staring down Curtis.

Curtis exhaled an angry breath from his nostrils. As much as he wanted to beat this jerk to a bloody pulp, it wouldn't do him any good. Not in public anyway. Reluctantly, he returned to his seat.

Everyone sat in silence, nerves and tempers high.

That was until a nurse said that Shuichi was free to have visitors. Curtis was the first one up, followed by Sakano, Hiroshi, and Suguru. The nurse stepped in front of Eiri, preventing him from going any further. "Excuse me, sir, but who are you?" She asked.

Eiri glowered at her.

K took Eiri by the arm. "He's with us." He informed the nurse. She stepped aside, allowing them to head towards Shuichi's room.

Eiri stood behind everyone as they fussed over Shuichi, who was reassuring them that he was all right. There was this warmth that surrounded them that intimidated Eiri. He couldn't make Shuichi laugh or smile the way that Curtis or any of the rest did. Eiri wasn't one of them. He was an abnormal person. Perhaps it was best if he were to…

"…Yuki?" Shuichi questioned, incredulous. Everyone parted so that he could see Eiri. Shuichi practically stopped breathing. So it wasn't his imagination. Eiri was there at the concert.

It made Eiri's skin crawl to see Curtis put his hands on Shuichi's shoulders.

Shuichi's gaze averted to the floor. He couldn't make sense of any of this. Why would Eiri be here? Was it because he wanted him back? Was it because…? Shuichi shook his head. He was getting ahead of himself. Besides, how could he forget about Curtis? Curtis was his boyfriend, not Eiri. Despite that, though, Shuichi couldn't shake the need to talk to Eiri.

Shuichi exhaled, closing his eyes. "Can you all please give us a moment?" He asked.

Curtis sat on the bed, gripping Shuichi's upper arms. "No, Shuichi, you just fainted from exhaustion. You have to rest. You can't afford the stress right now."

"Curtis, please." Shuichi grounded out. He knew that Curtis was concerned. But all that concern did was frustrate him.

There was no dissuading Shuichi. Curtis knew that. But he really wished that Shuichi would just tell this loser to beat it. He didn't deserve to take up Shuichi's time. Curtis looked at Shuichi. It appeared that he really needed this. So, out of respect for Shuichi, Curtis left the room along with the rest of the group.

"Why are you here?" Shuichi asked, his heart on overdrive.

This was the moment. Eiri had to take this chance while it was still available. But he was scared to death of finding out whether or not Shuichi was in love with Curtis. Eiri put his hands in his pockets, hoping that Shuichi didn't notice how clammy they had gotten. He sauntered a bit closer to his bed. "I wanted to…settle things." He finished, lamely.

Shuichi's lips pursed together, and his eyes squeezed shut as he began to tear up. He leaned back against his pillow, bringing one hand to rest against his aching head while the other wrapped around his queasy stomach. Shuichi couldn't believe that this was happening.

It pained Eiri to see Shuichi crying so hard. Slowly, he ambled to the side of the bed. Eiri reached out to touch Shuichi's red head.

Shuichi scooted to the opposite side of the bed, shielding his tear-stained face. "Please don't touch me." He sobbed.

Eiri's hovering hand returned to his pocket. "Sorry," he mumbled.

"What do you mean by settle things? I don't understand…"

"…It's taken this long to realize it, but I…can't stand how quiet it is in my condo."

Shuichi scoffed. "I thought you liked it that way."

"I used it, but now I hate it."

"I can't believe this. You're here…because you want me back?" Shuichi smirked, laughing. He had to be getting Punk'd or something. But when he turned his head to look at Eiri, he doubted that. Shuichi's smirk disappeared, and his eyes widened. Eiri didn't look like he was joking. "Why is that? After all of this time? I don't get it…and you should know by now that I have a boyfriend." Shuichi remembered.

Eiri harrumphed. "Yeah, I met him. He's a real swell guy."

"As a matter of fact, he is." Shuichi retorted, his heart twisting and turning in his chest the more that he spoke. "Even though I'm a handful, he's been patient with me, and he loves me for who I am. He's been real good to me, and I like how I feel around him."

"You said that he loves you, but it doesn't sound like you're in love with him." Eiri responded. If Shuichi was really in love with this guy, why wasn't he more ardent about it?

Shuichi gaped. Eiri had him there. He was still as transparent as glass to Eiri. That made him frown, thinking of all the times Eiri saw through him, and broke him as a result of that. Shuichi hated how Eiri managed to read him so easily. It wasn't fair that he was such an open book while Eiri wasn't. "Who are you to come in here and tell me how you think I'm supposed to feel? Huh? I do like…love Curtis. So stop talking like you know what's going on in my head because you don't!"

Eiri caught the slip. "You're settling. Don't deny it."

Shuichi couldn't take any more of this. A part of him wanted to believe that Eiri was being sincere. Another part, a bigger one, was terrified. Shuichi didn't want to go back to being used as nothing more than a boy toy. His heart couldn't take any more of that.

Curtis couldn't hold himself back any longer. He busted through the door, earning the attention of the room's occupants. "I think you should leave."

With one last look at Shuichi, Eiri left the room.


"So how'd it go?" Yoshiki asked.

Eiri jumped. He spun around to see that Yoshiki had somehow managed to infiltrate his hotel room, and was lounging on his couch. To be caught off guard like that after what happened did nothing but worsen his temper. "How the hell did you get in here?"

Yoshiki smiled, holding up a nail file. "I didn't think that you'd mind."

"Oh yeah? What the hell gave you that idea?" Eiri growled, violently tossing his jacket onto the other side of the couch.

"It didn't go well, I take it?"

"No, everything was grand."

It was obvious that Eiri hadn't gotten Shuichi back. Yoshiki expected as much. Shuichi was too hurt by him to just give in. Then there was the matter of Curtis. Whether they were really in love or not was anybody's guess. The magazines might've said so, but that didn't make it true. Such was American media. They tended to over exaggerate facts that concerned celebrities whether that be to make look bad, good, or merely to fulfill a romantic fantasy.

Yoshiki could tell that Eiri loved Shuichi. He wouldn't have made this trip around the world if he didn't. However, there was no way Shuichi could know this. Eiri didn't exactly have the best communication skills. That gave him an idea. What better way to prep him than to role-play? "Why don't you come sit down?"

Eiri just stood there.

Yoshiki got up, took Eiri by the hand, and pushed him onto the couch. Then he took a seat two feet away. "Good. Now pretend that I'm Shuichi."

"What?"

"Say to me what you feel like saying to him, all right? I'll start." Yoshiki coughed, realigning his body to face Eiri. "Oh, Yuki, why are you here?"

Eiri blanched. He was so used to hearing Yoshiki's effeminate voice. It was perturbing to hear him speak as a man.

"Come on, don't give me that look, and answer the question. Oh, Yuki, why are you here?" Yoshiki patiently asked again.

There was no sense in deterring him. So Eiri decided to play along. "Cuz I want you home. Now."

Yoshiki made a buzzing noise. "Wrong answer."

"What?"

"You're getting ahead of yourself, Eiri. You have to remember that a lot has happened since the last time you two saw one another. That means that you have to make time to reconnect again; get to know the new things, and let him know that you truly care."

Eiri huffed, slumping. For the first time in nine months, he really craved a cigarette.

"I know it's difficult for you to go out of your way like that, but I really think that Shuichi will come to appreciate the effort."

Eiri didn't answer.

Yoshiki sighed. Maybe it wasn't the best time to prep Eiri. He looked furious. Yoshiki figured that he'd want to be left alone, so he got up. He put a comforting hand on Eiri's shoulder, wishing him a good night before leaving.


Curtis rushed onto Shuichi's hospital bed, taking his distraught boyfriend into his arms. He buried his head in Shuichi's neck, placing a kiss there. Then he propped his chin over Shuichi's shoulder. Curtis held on tight. "What the hell did he say to you?"

Being reminded of what had just happened made Shuichi break down even more. He wanted Eiri. But he didn't want to be used. He needed answers. But he was petrified to know the truth behind them. Was it K who was pulling Eiri's strings? Or was Eiri really here to fix things? Did fix things mean what Shuichi thought it meant? Or did it mean that Eiri just wanted him around for convenient sex? Shuichi's hope clashed with his doubt, leaving him at a loss.

Curtis shushed him, occasionally kissing his neck. All he wanted was to help Shuichi through this.

Eventually, Shuichi settled down. He pulled away, wiping at his eyes. "I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. You did nothing wrong. Now tell me, what'd he say to you to make you so upset?" Curtis asked, moving a strand of red hair behind Shuichi's ear.

Shuichi stared up at him. Here was a guy that he knew loved him. Curtis was kind, fun, and faithful. Shuichi enjoyed spending time with him. They always had a lot to discuss. Everything was so easy with Curtis. And more than anything, Shuichi wanted to fall in love with him. "It doesn't matter." Shuichi said, tilting his head up to peck Curtis on the lips. "You're here so what he said doesn't matter." Shuichi knew how it felt to be ditched for someone else. The last thing he wanted to do was put Curtis through the same painful experience.

Curtis smiled, embracing Shuichi. Then he frowned. He couldn't help but feel like those words were forced.

The next day, Shuichi was released from the hospital. The doctor told him to rest for a day. That he planned on doing. He was tired, and had a dull headache from all of that crying that he did the day before. Curtis insisted that he lie down in his bed. But Shuichi couldn't stand lying down. He had done enough of that at the hospital. All he wanted to do was get out, and be alone to clear his head.

Shuichi meandered. All the while wishing that everything wasn't so complicated.

He walked into a park, seeing some couples. They looked so happy, sitting side-by-side on the benches, jogging together, holding hands, laughing, kissing, smiling, pretty much everything that he and Eiri never did. Shuichi envied them.

"Isn't it great how Shuichi can be with a man like Curtis?" Shuichi overhead one girl tell her boyfriend. They were on a park bench, flipping through a magazine.

The guy actually looked interested too. "It sure is, darling." He smiled, nuzzling her nose.

That's right. He had a boyfriend. Why did Eiri keep making him forget that? They were over a long time ago. It was all in the past. Exactly where it should stay. Besides, Eiri was better off without him anyway. All he had been to him was a nuisance.

Shuichi stopped mid-step. It was like déjà vu; the way the breath was knocked out of him. There Eiri sat on a park bench. He had his cute glasses on, and he looked so immersed in his book. It was entrancing. Shuichi found himself taking a few steps forward. But then he remembered that they were through. Shuichi pulled up the collar of his jacket, hoping that'd be enough to conceal his face as he walked by, his steps heavy.

"I never thought that you'd ever ignore me." Eiri took off his spectacles to peer up at Shuichi, who tensed up instantly.

Shuichi faced him. The intensity of those golden eyes overwhelmed him. For a moment, he was weighed down to that spot. He wanted to say something. But he was too scared. Anything he had to say would probably be countered by a nasty remark. And Shuichi couldn't take that. He didn't want to be controlled by Eiri like that anymore. So he ran.

Acting fast, Eiri got up to grab Shuichi's arm. "Please wait."

Shuichi whirled around. "What? What do you want? Why did you come here? Was it to torment me while you were on your book tour or whatever the hell it is?" It was out of his control. All of the questions that he's been dying to ask were flying out of him.

Those were all stupid questions. Even if he was on a book tour, Eiri wouldn't have bothered approaching Shuichi if he didn't care. His eyes narrowed, and he tightened his grip on Shuichi's arm. This was the opportune moment. "How did you meet this Curtis guy anyway?" He asked. The name disgusted him, but Eiri had to bring him up. He had to hear Shuichi say that he wasn't in love with him.

Shuichi's forehead creased in irritated confusion. "Huh?"

"Don't make me repeat myself." Eiri felt his cheeks get hot. He let go of Shuichi's arm, putting his hands in his pockets.

Shuichi blinked. Eiri was blushing. Was he embarrassed? Whatever the case, Shuichi decided to accommodate him. "Well…when we began our tour, I wanted to change the Bad Luck dynamic a bit by adding in some background dancers. Everyone was on board with the idea, and it panned through. We held auditions here in New York, and that's how I met him. We started talking about music, and he introduced me to America music while I introduced him to JPop. I think that's why we were able to hit it off so well; because of our passion for music."

"I see."

"What about you? Don't you have a book tour to return to? Or…a lady?"

"No."

"Really?"

"Why do you care?"

"Who ever said that I cared? I was just surprised is all."

Eiri smirked. Shuichi was still bad at lying. "Whatever you say."

"What's with the smirk?"

"I thought you said that you didn't care."

Eiri took a step forward. Shuichi took a step back, his heart jumping in his chest. It was as if Eiri was looking right through him with those piercing golden eyes. That had him feeling more vulnerable than he would've liked. "I…I don't." Shuichi replied, not sounding even the least bit convincing.

"Let me ask you something. Do you honestly think I came here to torment you because that's stupid. I wouldn't waste my time on such a petty endeavor. You should know that."

"…Then why did you come here?"

Eiri stepped closer. Shuichi didn't move, but he had his guard up. It was a weak façade that was foiled by the anxiety Eiri could see in his eyes. Eiri couldn't stand the distance anymore. But he didn't want to coerce anything that Shuichi might not want. To test Shuichi's reaction, Eiri put a hand on his arm. Shuichi tensed, but he remained immobile.

Shuichi glanced at the hand on his arm. The hold was gentle. Shuichi looked up. Eiri's eyes were gentle. It came as a surprise. Usually, Eiri was rough and aggressive. Typically, his eyes were cold and predatory. But there was a softness about him that made Shuichi take a step.

Eiri took that as an invitation to wrap his arms around Shuichi. Once he held him close, Eiri truly realized how much he missed Shuichi. He held on tight, relishing in the delicious scent of Shuichi's shampoo, in how good it felt to embraced him, and in how everything came together. Eiri wanted to be with Shuichi. He needed to be with him. Eiri was in love with him. "I came here because of you." He whispered.

Shivers rippled through his body. Shuichi let out a shuddering breath. He was so touched, so moved that he couldn't think of anything to say. Words were insignificant. Shuichi relaxed against Eiri, coiling his arms about his waist, smiling as he leaned his head on Eiri's chest. Shuichi's eyes slid shut. He could honestly admit that he was content.

They shared a long embraced before Eiri pulled away. He could care less that there were people around. Their opinions didn't matter. Shuichi was a big part of his life, and if they didn't like that, they could just keep walking.

Eiri bought a hand up to stroke Shuichi's face. He watched, hypnotized, as Shuichi's mouth opened slightly. Eiri ran a thumb over Shuichi's lower lip. Then he leaned down to kiss the side of his mouth.

Shuichi inhaled, sharply. That felt so good.

Eiri peppered kisses until he reached the center of Shuichi's mouth. A warmth expanded in his chest. His heart wasn't beating how it should. But it felt right.

Before he could kiss back, Eiri separated their lips. Shuichi stared, feeling his face heat up. Eiri never kissed him like that. He wasn't one for public displays of affection either. He wouldn't do that unless…Shuichi blinked, tilting his chin inward. Eiri really was there for him.

Eiri could see that Shuichi still needed time to get everything straight. He couldn't forget Curtis as much as he would've liked to. The decision was up in the air, and it was Shuichi's decision to make.

Eiri dug into his pocket to produce a slip of paper that had his new cell phone number on it.

Shuichi reached out to take the paper, and unwrapped it. This was…He looked back up at Eiri.

"It's your choice whether you rip it up or not." Eiri said before walking away. He can't believe that he lost control like that. All he planned to do was give Shuichi the number. And he kissed him. It wasn't intended to pressure Shuichi into choosing him. The last thing he wanted to do was make Shuichi do something that he didn't want to do. Though Shuichi didn't seem opposed to the kiss at all.

Shuichi stood there for a while with a hand to his lips.


Curtis knew something was off. Shuichi had returned to the hotel, intent on taking a nap. Curtis helped him into bed, and was about to kiss him when Shuichi decided that he didn't need a nap anymore. He put on this fake grin, and suggested that they go out to eat with the others; that everything was on him. Everyone took full advantage of this, and they all had a good time. Except Curtis. He didn't know how to feel about Shuichi being extra cheerful, and then turning to him just to look away again.

When they got back to their hotel room, Curtis tried to kiss him again. Shuichi dodged it once more. Curtis was getting annoyed. "All right, what's wrong?" He asked, crossing his arms.

Shuichi felt guilty all over again. "What? Nothing's wrong. Why would you think that something is wrong?"

"Gee, I don't know. Probably because you've been acting all funny ever since you got back from that walk. Did something happen? Or are you coming down with something?" Curtis put a hand to his own forehead. He reached out to touch Shuichi's, but all he met was air.

"You worry too much. I'm fine."

"No, you're not. So would you please stop lying to me?"

"Curtis, I…"

"It's about Yuki, isn't it?"

Shuichi's eyes widened. Had he been too obvious about that? Or was Curtis reading his mind?

"I knew it. You still love him, don't you?"

"Yes, I do, but…"

Curtis paced around the room, laughed darkly. "I can't believe this. Were you just using me to make him jealous or what? Because I know, Shuichi. Your whole heart wasn't in this relationship and like an idiot," he put emphasis there, "I refused to acknowledge the truth of the matter. That's because…I love you. And I appreciate you. I wanted to be the one, the only one, for you."

Shuichi was shocked at the admission. He was certainly empathetic. He knew how it felt to love and not have it returned. It made him feel awful to put Curtis through that. "Curtis, I'm so sorry, but I…"

Curtis held up his hands. He already knew that Shuichi loved that bastard. He didn't want to hear it again. It pissed him off. It was sad, really, that Shuichi would go back to a man that made him cry as hard as he did earlier on in the week. "Yeah, I'm sorry too that I wasted all of this time being with the likes of you." After that, he stormed out of the room.

Shuichi plopped down onto the bed. As he reflected that day's events, his head spun. A stroll in the park turned into another chance encounter with Eiri, who was nothing less than sincere. Eiri hugged him like he was the only one who mattered, and he kissed him in the sweetest way possible. Shuichi melted as he reminisced about that kiss.

Shuichi pulled out Eiri's number. He remembered how self-conscious Eiri looked. He thought back on what he had told him. How he was settling for Curtis. Shuichi sighed. Eiri was right. When Curtis said that he had feelings for him, Shuichi hesitated. But after he put some thought into it, he figured that he could develop feelings for Curtis if he tried hard enough. Shuichi couldn't have been more wrong.

No one can force love, after all.

What he did to Curtis was selfish, and unfair on so many levels. Shuichi put his head under his pillow. He felt like such a jerk. A huge, stupid jerk.

Shuichi got little to no sleep. He rose early, eating breakfast at 7:30. He ordered scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast. Though he could've excluded the eggs, and sausage. All he was able to stomach down was a few nibbles of toast. It was a miserable morning, which the rain seemed to emphasize.

Around eight, he received a phone call. "Hello?"

"Shuichi, hi, it's me Curtis."

"Oh, hey."

"Listen, about last night…"

"I know. I'm so sorry, Curtis. I didn't mean to hurt you."

"You were always too quick to apologize, Shu, and you were good to me…I thought about it a lot, and what I said wasn't fair. So I'm sorry for losing my temper."

"That's all right. I deserved it."

"No. No, you didn't."

"Yes, I did. Even without realizing it, I used you, but I hoped that I could fall in love with you. I wanted that so badly; to just forget about Yuki, and move on with someone who actually loved me. But no one can force love. I know that better now."

"So where do you plan on going from here?"

"I can't say for sure, but I do know that I want to talk things out with Yuki, and see where we stand."

There was a long pause.

"Curtis?"

"I don't like the idea, but…you deserve answers. Just be careful, all right?"

"Don't worry, I'll be fine. But what about you? You didn't spend the night in a dumpster somewhere, did you?"

Shuichi felt more at ease when Curtis laughed. "No, I spent the night at my sister's place, though I kinda wish I did spend the night in a dumpster. It would've smelled like ass, but at least there was no chance of me walking in on my sister and her boyfriend getting it on."

Shuichi grimaced. He sympathized. Back at home, sometimes he'd hear some kissing going on in his little sister's room. It wasn't as bad, but it was still disturbing. "I hear you. Sorry you had to go through that."

"Hey, no worries. A few therapy sessions should help me deal more with my mental trauma. And beer. Lots and lots of beer." Curtis joked.

Shuichi chuckled.

"As for the direction I'm headed, I think I should quit being your background dancer."

"What?" They had spent so much time together that Shuichi was shocked to hear this. It wouldn't be the same without Curtis.

"Please understand. It'll be hard for me, too. But I think it's what's best. For the both of us."

"I understand, but…will I ever see you again?"

"What? Of course, you will. I don't want you out of my life for good. I just need some time away from you. To get over you. If I stayed, I wouldn't be able to do that, and I'm afraid that I'd do things that I would regret."

"I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you, too. Good luck with everything, and…thank you for giving me a chance."

"Thank you, Curtis, for everything."

"Take care, Shu." Curtis warmly said before hanging up.

Shuichi smiled. The tightness in his chest had dissipated. It was replaced with a light feeling. While Curtis made for good company, he wasn't the one Shuichi was in love with. He was nothing more than a good friend that Shuichi hoped to share more happy memories with sometime in the future.

With that settled, Shuichi took out Eiri's number. This was it. He took a deep breath. Shuichi was nervous. There was no denying that. This was big, after all. Eiri had opened a door for him, and all he had to do was take the initiative, and step through. If only it were that simple.

His hands trembled as he dialed the number. Once he was done, he stared at it, his stomach feeling much like a washing machine set on high. Shuichi took another breath before pressing the SEND button, and held the phone to his ear. His foot began to tap as the phone rang. One ring, two rings…what was taking him so long to pick up?

"Hello?" Eiri asked.

Shuichi jumped. "Uh! Hi, it's me, Shuichi. Um, I…" His mind went black. He had no idea what to say.

"Do you think you could meet me at Starbucks in twenty minutes?'

"Sure! Of course!"

"All right. See you."

Shuichi pressed the END button.

He had to get ready.

Shuichi rushed to his room, searching through his closet. Shuichi grabbed a few pairs of pants as well as shirts. He mixed, and matched, and eliminated. keeping in mind that he had to wear an outfit that wasn't too showy. That narrowed it down to a black long-sleeved shirt with a dark green pair of jeans, and black boots. He put on a black hat, and a black jacket before looking himself over in the mirror.

Everything looked in check. Except his nerves. Shuichi was scared, excited, happy, hopeful, and sad all at once. It was stressful to think something positive one second, and then anticipate something negative the next. But Shuichi knew that he had to do this. For himself and for Eiri.

Shuichi grabbed his umbrella, and left. When he was outside, he secured his hood over his head. It wasn't needed. But it was for the sake of quelling some of his paranoia. Fans were everywhere, and the real devoted ones had a keener eye than the rest. He shivered as he recalled the time he neglected to disguise himself at the subway station. That ended in being chased by a mob of crazed fans, which wasn't as awesome as Shuichi thought it would be. He thought it'd be different in America since he didn't live there. In some states, it had been, but a lot of people knew him in New York. He couldn't afford to be running late so this precaution, as paranoid as it was, was very much wanted.

Shuichi rounded the corner. He stopped dead in his tracks. Eiri was standing near the entrance of Starbucks, leaning on the window with his arms crossed. Shuichi pushed his hood back, and sealed his umbrella. He took a heavy sigh, clutching his umbrella tightly as he approached Eiri, his heart pounding wildly.

"Hey," Shuichi greeted. He felt foolish for smiling. But he couldn't help it. Eiri had to be the most gorgeous man in the world. "You weren't waiting long, were you?" He frowned, knowing how impatient Eiri could be.

"No, I just got here a few minutes ago." Eiri replied. It was hard to believe that he hadn't been waiting for hours because it sure felt like it. "Come on." He took Shuichi's hand, and led him inside. They took their place in line. "Do you want anything?"

"Uh! No, thanks. Coffee and I aren't a good mix." Shuichi responded. It had about the same effect as alcohol. Coffee loosened his tongue, and made him want to bounce off the walls until he had no more energy left. It was best to avoid that since he didn't want to embarrass Eiri in public.

Eiri smiled. "Good point."

Shuichi watched Eiri exchange money with the female cashier. He was his usual charming self, though he didn't hit on her, and he wasn't checking her out either, which was a relief.

They took a seat in the corner. Eiri sipped at his coffee, peering up to look at Shuichi, who blushed, and then averted his eyes to his lap. The silence was unnerving. But Eiri had no idea how to start this conversation so he kept on drinking his coffee.

"So…" Shuichi began, somewhat awkward. "Um, I…I want to know where we stand." He said, looking up at Eiri.

Eiri was grateful that Shuichi chose to speak first. "That's what I'd like to know."

That comment perked Shuichi up a bit. He felt his cheeks lift as a joyful breath escaped his lips. "I…" He licked his dry lips, wondering what Eiri thought of the action. "I ended it with Curtis."

Eiri held Shuichi's gaze, setting his cup down on the table.

"You were right. I was settling. I hoped that something would come out of being with Curtis. You know, like, something special. But no matter how hard I tried to fall for him, I just couldn't. I can't think of him as anything more than a friend. As for us…I wanna give us another shot. I mean, if that's ok with you, that is…"

"Why wouldn't it be? Honestly, you can be such an idiot." Eiri wouldn't have given Shuichi his number if he didn't want to get back together.

"Hey, what's that mean?" Shuichi asked, irritated. He didn't appreciate being called an idiot, especially when he was taking such an emotional plunge.

Eiri grinned. He didn't know how much he missed getting a rise out of Shuichi until that moment. "Exactly how it sounds."

Some things never changed. Eiri was still such a wiseass. "Well, it takes an idiot to know an idiot." Shuichi reasoned, leaning back in his chair, and folding his arms.

"Couldn't be more right."

"Stop calling me a…! Wait, what?"

"We're both idiots." Eiri smiled, ruefully. Shuichi was an idiot for putting up with his cruel behavior. While Eiri was an idiot for mistreating the one person in his life who made him want to break away from his past, and be happy.

"Eiri," Shuichi softened up. He realized that he called Eiri by his first name, putting a hand to his mouth. But Eiri didn't seem to mind.

"I've made horrible mistakes that winded up hurting you. For some unknown reason, you seem to think that my lashing out on you was warranted. But it was far from it." Eiri frowned, recalling all of the times that he hurt Shuichi, and made him cry. Those memories filled up with remorse.

"I know that you were hurting." Shuichi replied. He couldn't possibly imagine how Eiri felt on that fateful day about seven years ago. That kind of betrayal could screw up a person real bad. Eiri was a prime example of that. As bad as he was treated, Shuichi understood better. Underneath all of Eiri's anger and insults was a man that was hurting, and lonely.

"That's no excuse."

"But that doesn't matter to me now. What matters is that you're willing to make a fresh start with me, and that makes me the happiest guy on Earth."

Eiri was surprised. He stared Shuichi's beaming smile, and his sparkling amethyst eyes. His heart rate increased at the sight. Shouldn't he be the one saying that? And shouldn't Shuichi be the one telling him to take a hike? Apparently not. Eiri deemed that strange. Then again, Shuichi was strange.

"You're so simple-minded." He smiled. "I must say that I envy that ability you have to let go of your troubles."

Shuichi pondered about that. "I think it's because I talk to Hiro or whoever about what's bothering me, and then move on from there. I can't stand keeping it all inside. It doesn't feel good, at all." That came with personal experience. After Eiri told him to leave, Shuichi refused to talk about it. That killed him inside.

"I see."

"Look, Eiri, I know that I can't possibly understand what you went through when you were sixteen. But I do understand that it's really affected you. And I want you to know that I'm here to listen if you want to talk about it or anything else that's bothering you."

"Shu," Eiri softly said as Shuichi began to sniff.

"Sorry, I just…can't stand seeing you suffer, and not being able to do anything about it. It breaks my heart how you've given me so much, and I couldn't give you anything in return." Shuichi replied. Eiri had been a shoulder to lean on. He had given inspiration, and a place to call home. All Shuichi had ever done for him was cause him pain.

"That's not true. You've done more for me than anyone else."

Shuichi's breath caught.

"You didn't want me for my body or my money or my fame like everybody else did. You wanted nothing more than to get to know me. At the time, I thought it was dumb. Nobody wanted to know me. Hell, I barely even knew myself. Somewhere along the way, I lost essence of who I was. I smoked, I drank, I even did drugs for a short while before Seguchi made me stop. All the while, I was trying to elude my past. But you…made it all come back, the past that I had suppressed. It sucked, and you gave me constant headaches, but it wasn't all bad. I think it was good, actually. You helped me remember what happened so that I can get past everything that made me so horrible in the first place."

Shuichi kept quiet, absorbing all of that.

"You're quiet. I should talk about my feelings more often." Eiri quipped.

Shuichi smiled, slowly, melting under the magnitude of Eiri's words. "Thank you."

Eiri blinked.

"I mean, thank you for opening up to me." Shuichi put his hand on top of Eiri's. It made him so very happy to have Eiri confide in him. It was like a new beginning for them.


The next morning, Shuichi saw Eiri in the hotel lobby. A bellhop was helping him with his luggage. Shuichi ran up to him. "You're leaving?" He asked, upset. They had just reconnected the day before. To have Eiri leave then was too soon.

Eiri frowned, his heart aching. He did wish that he could stay longer, but he couldn't. "Yeah, I came here and did what I came here to do. Now I have to tie up some loose ends at home."

"What loose ends?"

"Mika called me last night to inform me that Tatshua had been using my condo as a hook-up place. He even threw a party there, and didn't even bother to clean up. On top of which, Mizuki is throwing a fit because she thinks I've been slacking off, and I'm scheduled for an autograph signing in two days."

"Oh," was all Shuichi could say. He understood that Eiri was a busy man, who was in high demand. But understanding didn't make him any less disappointed. Not at Eiri. But at the situation. Shuichi was busy himself. He still had a few more months until his tour was over.

Eiri knew how let down Shuichi was. It made him sad that he had to return home to such unpleasantries. He'd much rather stay in New York with Shuichi. But it couldn't be helped. "Here." He handed Shuichi a key, and a paper with the address of his new condo. "Try not to lose it, all right?"

Shuichi nodded, exuberantly.

"Your luggage is all packed, Mr. Uesugi." The bellhop announced.

Eiri nodded at him. Then he looked back at Shuichi.

"I guess this is goodbye. For now, anyway." Shuichi smiled, holding the key to his heart.

"Yeah."

"I'll really, really miss you."

"Same here." Eiri replied, pulling Shuichi against him. "One last thing…" He took Shuichi's lips with his, sucking gently. "I love you." He whispered against Shuichi's mouth.

Shuichi gasped. It was as if time had stopped. I love you. Those three words echoed in his head over and over again. They were laced together with the utmost adoration by Eiri's velvety voice. His warm golden eyes reflected those words. Shuichi choked up with emotion. He shut his eyes, allowing the warm tears to pool down his face.

Eiri caressed the side of Shuichi's face. It made him happy to make Shuichi happy. "I'll see you when you get home." He gave him another kiss before he left.


During their separation, they called every now and again to keep each other updated. It was nice to talk. There were still those silent, awkward moments. But there were also those moments when they'd hear the other break out into a smile. Gradually, communicating was became easier. That made them anticipate their reunion that much more.

It was finally the day. Shuichi couldn't wait. K noticed this. So he arranged for their own private jet. That got them home faster. By the time, they landed, it was dark, and everyone was exhausted.

The car ride home made them that much more tired.

Shuichi bid everyone a good night once he was dropped off at the new condo complex. It woke him up somewhat to know that he was going to be seeing his beloved in a matter of minutes. He had some trouble locating the condo, but he managed. Shuichi looked at the paper Eiri had given him, and the condo number. They matched. He smiled, and opened the door with the key.

"I'm home!" Shuichi called, hauling in his luggage. He shut, and locked the door, leaving his luggage in the living room. He looked around. "Eiri?" He asked, peeking inside several doors to discover where the new office, and restroom were. The next door revealed Eiri lying down in bed fast asleep, his upper body illuminated by the light from his laptop. Shuichi smiled at the sight. He crept over to the bed, leaning over to save the document that was opened before shutting it off. Gingerly, Shuichi removed the laptop from Eiri's lap, setting it down on the nightstand. Then he pulled the comforter over Eiri, lightly running a few fingers through blonde bangs.

Shuichi bent over to give Eiri a kiss on the forehead. "Sweet dreams." He whispered. Shuichi was about to leave the room when Eiri took him by the hand. In turn, Shuichi about-faced.

"Stay here." Eiri ordered, his voice soft and lethargic.

Shuichi obliged, getting comfortable under the sheets. Eiri brought him close. It was easy to fall asleep, being that secure. The next thing Shuichi knew, he was being kissed awake. He knew these lips. There was the slightest taste of nicotine, but it was mostly strawberry shortcake. Shuichi kissed back.

Eiri didn't want to wait any longer. For nearly a year, he had been without Shuichi. He's yearned for him. Eiri maneuvered himself over Shuichi, prodding his tongue inside of his mouth. It turned him on even more when he heard Shuichi gasp. He tilted his head to the side further. That way, he could get his tongue inside more. Eiri ran it over Shuichi's a few times. Then pulled out once he needed air.

It was funny how much everything has changed. Eiri reminisced their first time. He had been rough because to him, it was another round of sex he agreed to just to appease. But Shuichi kept coming back for more. Then it became more than appeasement. Over time, Eiri found himself more sexually attracted to Shuichi, and he had no idea why. All he knew was that he wanted more.

Looking at Shuichi, and how flushed, and out of breath he was, Eiri knew that this time was different. This wasn't just sex anymore. This was love.


A/N: It's been such a long time since I've updated! School has certainly kept me busy. So, onto the story...This took me a week to write. It took even longer to plan. Honestly, I think this is the only Gravitation story that I ever did completely in character, though I did add in some character development, but I tried not to be too maudlin about anything. I think I did a good job with that now that I understand Eiri's character more.

I know that I mixed in the manga with the anime, but I couldn't help myself. Yoshiki is such an awesome character that should've been included in the anime. He's so upbeat, and put together. He could be that calm kind of goofy, but he could also be serious whenever the situation calls for it. As for the time frame for this story, I got so wrapped in the plot that I didn't put too much thought into it. And since it includes both anime and manga facts, the time frame is too muddled for me to think of. I apologize for that.

Anyway, I'm glad to be back! I do hope that all of you enjoyed this story, and look foward to a sequel, ok? I'll give you a brief synopsis of what I have planned: Eiri is reluctant to go with Shuichi to the Cherry Blossom Festival. That's all I will say. So stay tuned, everyone!