Hola, minna! Not much to say about this one, I think. Just a short one-shot I dashed off between classes. Um, takes place just after the anime series and is entirely within that context. Oh, and all I own is the plot. The characters, original concept, etc., etc. belong to Maki Murakami and her Corporate Court. Have fun!

Ladymage Samiko ; )


Tadaima. . .

By: Ladymage Samiko

The front door of the apartment swung slowly open as Yuki Eiri cautiously entered his apartment. He regretted his words to Touma, but he really had no choice in the matter. The force was too great; he had to come home.

And the idea scared the hell out of him.

He and Shuuichi had come to an understanding in that god-forsaken, tumble-down building in New York--hell, the boy had saved his life--but the thought of facing him--of working things out, saying the words Shuuichi had wanted to hear from the beginning--terrified him. Uesugi Eiri was the one who had truly died that night several years ago and the Yuki Eiri who had replaced him had been determined never to trust anyone with himself again. And yet, it had happened. Shuuichi had somehow gone over, under, around, and through every single defence he had erected with such painful care. But, Yuki thought, the effort had cost Shuuichi just as dearly. And the thought nearly overwhelmed him with guilt. Shuuichi would have been much better off if they had never met.

But who could have imagined that their first meeting would have led to anything? a little voice asked him.

True. But then, most of Shuuichi's actions were beyond anyone's imagination.

And, persisted the voice, what would have happened to Shuuichi after Aizawa attacked him?

It was my fault, Yuki told himself bitterly. If it hadn't been for me. . .

No. Aizawa was jealous of Shuuichi's talent. You know what the JPop industry's like; you've heard the stories from Touma. How many of those other boys have someone who would fight for them the way you fought for Shuuichi? How many would have someone who would understand and empathize as completely as you do?

Great, he thought. We can have a mutual angst session about being raped by people we trusted and brood together by the hour. Wonderful. Just what we need. The ultimate male bonding.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself, the voice snapped. And stop feeling guilty about the boy. You worked for years to rebuild your mind and become the writer you always wanted to be. Why don't you try applying that same Uesugi pig-headedness to your heart?

The voice quit at that, leaving Yuki speechless in the entryway. The problem with arguing with oneself, he reflected, is that one side was bound to win and the other to lose. And the side that

won was usually the irritatingly right one. Damn.

He left his shoes neatly next to the door and continued into the rest of the apartment. It was very much the way he had left it. Clean, neat, and bare. He noticed that all of Shuuichi's things had been removed; the boy had told him he couldn't stand living there without Yuki. And yet, even without the physical reminders, Shuuichi seemed to permeate the apartment. The boy's presence filled it like summer heat--ever-present and sometimes overpowering--a feeling that wrapped Yuki in a warm embrace. He could picture Shuuichi in the corner, screaming at the TV as he battled video monsters and wailing when his character died. He was in the kitchen, making cup ramen--one of the few things he could be trusted not to ruin or to break cooking utensils while making. Oh, Lord. There were the holes K had made while playing sniper. That kid sure had a fucked-up manager. But their 'date' at the amusement park. . .

Shuuichi sprawled across the couch, talking in his sleep. Singing in the shower before running to work. Standing outside Yuki's study, whispering 'Good night.' Staring at him with wide, innocent violet eyes. Those same eyes half-shut as he kissed the boy senseless. Their fierceness as Shuuichi shouted "'Suki dakara!" at him, trying to get something through the older man's thick head.

Thick head is right, Yuki thought, taking out his silver lighter and looking at the photo sticker on it. He and Shuuichi at Odaiba in one of those damned booths. It was that sticker, that sticker and Shuuichi that had saved his life that night. He didn't give a damn about himself, not really. Whether he lived or died didn't make any difference to him. At that point he had really rather preferred dying. But to see Shuuichi's face there, lit up like a Christmas tree. . . And it had been because of him, because of Yuki Eiri. Why, God only knew. But Yuki realized in that brief moment that if he died, that light would die with him. And while he could easily kill himself, he couldn't bring himself to kill that light. The boy had suffered enough because of him. And so, because Yuki was so tired of life, so tired of fighting and screaming and crying in pain, he would give himself over to the boy to do with as he would. He was still afraid--he would always be afraid, he thought--but Shuuichi was now the keeper of his life, the keeper of his heart.

And now, Yuki Eiri could lay down his sword and take his rest.