Disclaimer: It's Maki Murakami's sandbox; I just play in it. I do not own the series or the rights to these characters, nor do I make any money from writing about them. No copyright or other infringement is intended.
Rating/Warnings: T for potty mouth and suggestiveness.
A/N: Written for LiveJournal's 30_kisses themed writing challenge community. Theme: #19, red, Beta review by HawkClowd. This one had to be cut in half and beaten into submission first.
By now, their neighbors were used to screams coming from their apartment. The profanity was nothing new, either.
"Shit! Fuck! Fucking bastard piece of shit!"
Japan's best-selling romance novelist stood up so fast that he knocked his chair over, slammed his hand down on his desk so hard that his coffee mug skittered and fell on the floor, spilling coffee on the carpet, and scooped up the laptop, ready to throw it down the hallway. He stopped when he realized that he might lose even more than he already had if he damaged it.
Eiri tried to convince himself that losing the last few hours of his blood, sweat, and tears wasn't so bad. It didn't matter that it was perhaps his best writing ever. It didn't matter that the words had flowed so easily from his fingertips to the keyboard and onto the screen. It didn't matter that he'd gone from being ahead of schedule to being behind, either.
What mattered was that he'd been so absorbed in what he was doing that he'd forgotten to save what he'd written before his word processing program quit due to system error. Everything that hadn't been saved was wiped out. Gone. Kaput.
He wanted to punch something. Anything, whether animate or inanimate. It didn't matter. He kicked his chair, stubbing his toe in the process, and decided not to try that again.
Maybe it would help if he had something he could pummel when he reached his breaking point, like a punching bag or one of those inflatable clowns. More than a few people thought that he took his frustrations out on Shuichi, but they were wrong. Eiri enjoyed getting Shuichi's goat – riling him was a gift that kept on giving - but although the insults still got under Shuichi's skin at times, nowadays they were more likely to get him fired up. It was more a form of foreplay for them than anything else.
Since he had neither a punching bag nor an inflatable clown to pummel, Eiri sought some other way to work out his anger. He glanced at the clock on the wall. It was five. Shuichi had said he'd be home by five-thirty. Was it worth it to take a walk and maybe stop at the convenience store for more beer, or should he stay put? He could try to distract himself by reading one of the many books piled by his side of the bed until Shuichi came home. Or maybe try taking a shower to destress. No; he had an unfortunate habit of scrubbing his skin raw when he was angry. He didn't want Shuichi scolding him about that again.
He stalked to the bedroom and slammed the door behind him. Flinging himself onto the bed, he picked up the topmost book. Over time, the pile of unread books had grown to mammoth proportions and was now in danger of falling over. Eiri usually had more entertaining things to do in bed than read.
This made him remember their activities of the night before, which was a nice distraction until he realized he'd just read the same paragraph twice. He was so wrung out from his earlier adrenaline rush that he struggled to keep his eyes open.
Eiri gave up on reading and considered the possibility of eating dinner out. Every once in a while, Shuichi would complain about how infrequently they went on dates like other couples. (Eiri had learned not to point out that as media darlings, they weren't a normal couple.) Going out for dinner would please Shuichi and had the added bonus of getting Eiri away from the damn laptop. Eiri fell asleep thinking about Shuichi's gratitude and how he would do whatever Eiri wanted to distract him from the temptation to smash the laptop on his desk until it was a mangled mess or it spewed out the words it had eaten.
Eiri woke up to a loud and cheerful shout of "I'm home!" He sat up groggily as he heard footsteps pound down the hallway and halt just outside the door.
"Yuki?" Shuichi said hesitantly. "Can I come in?"
"Yes," he called out. "I was just reading," he explained when Shuichi opened the door.
The book he'd had been reading was lying face down on the bed, the spine bent open in a manner that Eiri scolded Shuichi for when he did it, and marks from the comforter on Eiri's arms, tell-tale signs that he'd been napping, not reading.
"Why aren't you writing?"
Eiri scowled and was tempted to throw the book at the brat before he realized that he'd rather have Shuichi's company than eat by himself because Shuichi was too upset to accompany him. Instead, he said, "I lost every fucking thing I wrote this afternoon. I'm taking a break tonight. I'll figure out what happened tomorrow."
Shuichi frowned. "How could that happen? Is something wrong–"
"Don't ask. Shut. The. Fuck. Up." Eiri scowled more deeply with each word, his face beginning to flush. He had lectured Shuichi many times about how important it was to save what he typed every so often. He didn't want to admit that he hadn't followed his own advice.
Shuichi's stomach rumbled loudly enough for Eiri to hear. "Wanna get some takeout?" he asked. Eiri was glad that Shuichi had figured out that he was in no mood to cook. If Shuichi had asked what they were having for dinner, he might have lost it.
Eiri frowned. "No. I'd like to get as far away as possible from the piece of shit laptop before I throw it out the window. Let's go out for dinner."
Shuichi's eyes shone and his lips curled up in a great big grin. "Really? Like, on a date?" He bounced up and down. "How about going to Moghul?"
"Fine," Eiri said, not letting on that he would have suggested the same thing if Shuichi hadn't beaten him to it. Moghul's customers were mostly from around the neighborhood, so their chances of being able to find a table and dine in peace without being gawked at or stalked by paparazzi were good.
"Thanks, Eiri!" Shuichi chirped. "We haven't gone out in a long time, and we haven't been to Moghul even longer.
"Just give me a minute," Eiri said as he combed his nap-tousled hair into some semblance of order. He found his keys and slipped on his jacket and shoes.
They walked the few blocks from their apartment to the restaurant while Shuichi babbled about the day's recording session. Eiri let the words wash over him without paying much attention. He put more effort into tamping down the adrenaline rush of anger that had started coursing through him again after he woke up.
Mrs. Singh, who along with her husband owned and managed the restaurant, left her station behind the cash register as soon as they walked inside the restaurant. She held Shuichi's face between her hands and squeezed lightly while she pecked at both cheeks, the metal bangles on her arms clattering against each other.
"Welcome, Shindou-san and Yuki-san," she said. "What brings you here?"
Eiri rolled his eyes and said, "Dinner."
Mrs. Singh smiled. "We haven't seen you for months! Is it a special occasion?"
"Yeah!" Shuichi piped up. "Yuki broke his computer, so he wanted to get out of the house."
"I did inot/i break my computer," Eiri said indignantly, elbowing Shuichi as inconspicuously as he could.
Greetings over with, Mrs. Singh summoned her daughter, Amira, who ran up the aisle with menus under her arm.
"Take them to their usual table, please, dear."
Amira nodded and said, "Follow me, please," as they threaded their way through a mostly empty dining room. The other customers ignored them, too engrossed in their meals and conversations to pay them any heed.
She led them to a table tucked away in the far corner, well away from the front window and the scrutiny of passersby. A clean but threadbare white tablecloth covered the table, which was graced with a lotus blossom-shaped candle floating in a glass of water.
She brought a basket filled with flatbreads and a small bowl containing a dip made of yogurt, chopped cucumber, and spices when she returned to take their order. They both asked for the usual – chicken tandoori for Eiri and lamb tikka masala for Shuichi.
While they chewed the bread – Shuichi's slathered with clarified butter, Eiri's with the cucumber dip - Shuichi told Eiri about his day. Eiri only half-listened, concentrating more on not getting food stains on his shirt, until he realized that Shuichi was waiting for him to say something.
"Earth to Eiri," Shuichi said softly and waved his hand, but kept it far enough away for Eiri not to be able to bat it away, as he often did when he was upset. Eiri was relieved that Shuichi no longer tried to cajole him out of a bad mood but waited for it to pass instead. Eiri said too many things he regretted then.
"Sorry," Eiri said. He'd changed, too. Not that long ago, he wouldn't have bothered to apologize, and if he had, the apology would have been insincere and overshadowed by his scowl. Nowadays Shuichi realized that Eiri didn't always hang on every word he said and Eiri recognized that he needed to apologize when he hadn't been listening. "Did you ask me something?"
"I asked you to pass the tea."
"Oh. Sorry. Here." Eiri picked up the teapot and handed it over. Eiri noted, with gratitude, that Shuichi managed not to slop tea on the tablecloth. When they left a restaurant, the tablecloth sometimes looked like it had dined and drunk more heartily than they had.
Eiri asked to have the rest of his meal boxed up so he could eat it for lunch the next day. For his part, Shuichi only left a few stray bits of rice on his plate. Even though he'd been too full to finish his dinner, Eiri added a dessert order to Shuichi's. He might as well enjoy himself after the trying day he'd had.
The restaurant was beginning to fill up by the time dessert arrived along with Eiri's leftovers and the check. Eiri picked up the pace at which he was eating after he heard someone mutter their names. He tensed up; he'd hoped that they'd be able to finish without being recognized.
Shuichi disappeared into the men's room while Eiri signed the receipt and left a tip. Eiri frowned and tapped the pen that had accompanied the check while he waited for Shuichi to return. Each additional minute increased the chance that someone would want an autograph or to say hello, and he was not in the mood.
Much to his relief, Shuichi emerged before anyone approached. Shuichi said good night to Mrs. Singh. Eiri nodded to her as he walked by. Someone behind them exclaimed, "Isn't that Eiri Yuki and Shuichi Shindou?" Eiri held the door open for Shuichi and followed him out, pretending not to hear.
Shuichi was uncharacteristically quiet on the way home. Eiri wasn't sure how he felt about that. Sometimes Shuichi was quiet because he was feeling tired or down. Maybe dinner and the walk there and back had tired him out, or maybe something was bothering him that he didn't want to talk about. Sometimes he was quiet because he didn't want to annoy Eiri. Maybe he was trying to keep Eiri's bad mood about his lost writing from returning when they arrived home. More rarely still, Shuichi was quiet because he was thinking about something and realized that his usual chatter would interfere with his thoughts.
Shuichi veered so close to Eiri's side that he nudged him with his elbow. Eiri seized the opportunity to unobtrusively hook his arm around Shuichi's. They strolled home arm in arm under lamplight.
A small smile hovered on Shuichi's lips. Eiri thought about using Shuichi's considerable prowess for cross-dressing to distract him from his computer woes. What was he in the mood for: the French maid, the schoolgirl, or the geisha with the delicately embroidered kimono?
He paused to think about it. His mood might dip and his anger return when he least expected it; he'd likely prefer it nasty and rough tonight so he could use his passion to vent as well as to forget. That meant the fragile geisha outfit was out of the question. Maybe he'd leave the choice between the French maid and the schoolgirl outfit up to Shuichi.
Eiri smiled wolfishly and kissed Shuichi on the forehead as they waited for the elevator. On the way down the hallway to the door of their apartment, he said, "I'll call Mizuki tomorrow morning to have the tech people help me with my laptop. Maybe they can recover what I wrote. Your choice of the maid or schoolgirl outfit tonight." He raised an eyebrow. "Unless you don't want to play?"
"Oh no," Shuichi said. "You've had a hard day, master," he purred in a breathy voice, his hips swaying suggestively as he spoke. "I'll gladly play with you." He batted his eyes and looked up at Eiri.
"Tease," Eiri said, though without any heat. He slapped him on the rear. "Go get changed. I'll meet you in the bedroom."
Shuichi ran off to do as he was bid. Eiri toed his shoes off, hung up his jacket, and put away the leftovers from his dinner. Then he slowly walked toward the closed bedroom door and whatever surprise Shuichi would think up for him tonight.
Given Shuichi's track record for inventiveness, whatever he came up with was guaranteed to be better than fuming about the work Eiri had lost. Eiri took a deep breath, straightened his shoulders, and opened the door.