Jump Then Fall

*COMPLETE*

Plot: They've been together for years. Now, after viewing the relationships of those around them, they are forced to look into their own. What they find brings them to a fork in the road. Is their love strong enough to hold them together, or is it true that sometimes…love just isn't enough?

Author Note: This is a two part Gravitation story I wrote by request for my friend. She kept insisting that I write it so, here it is. The information I used was taken from the anime, the manga, and my own imagination, but mostly the manga. Enjoy.

Part ONE

Eiri puffed on his cigarette as he sat in the chair outside of Tohma's office. The secretary glared at him off and on as she typed and answered the phone. She had asked him several times over to put the cigarette out. It was against policy to smoke inside the NG building. He didn't care. As he puffed on the stick waiting for Tohma, he wondered if Shuichi had picked up their suits from the dry cleaners. He hoped so. If he didn't they were seriously going to be late for Hiro's engagement party. Which, for Eiri, would not be such a bummer.

"Mr. Seguchi will see you now."

Standing, Eiri grabbed the door knob and turned. Just as he stepped into the office, a young woman brushed past him to step out. "Excuse me."

Cocking his head, Eiri watched the swing of her hips as she left. His eyes then roamed over to Tohma. "Who is she?"

"She is a respective client."

"A client?" Eiri shut the door.

"A singing client."

Eiri said nothing as he took a seat, crossing one leg over the other.

Tohma smiled. "A singing client just like Shindou. What can I do for you, Eiri?"

"Does Mika know yet?"

Tohma folded his hands on top of his desk with a straight, neutral face. "Know what?"

It had happened before. Eiri knew it would happen again. "That you're having another affair."

"Eiri." He began, sounding offended. "That was just a client. I am allowed to speak with other women besides my wife."

"Whatever." He blew out a puff of smoke.

"The past is the past, is it not?"

He shrugged. "Not my business."

"My words almost exactly."

"Okay."

"So then what can I do for you today, Eiri?"

"I came by to discuss the tabloids with you. I don't like how that manager is smearing this wedding stuff all over the front page of every magazine."

Tohma shook his head softly, "Why? What does Hiro's engagement have to do with you?"

"It doesn't. It has everything to do with Shuichi. He's the front man of that band of theirs. With all this Hiro excitement the band is getting a lot more attention. The press has showed up at my front door twice now looking for Shu. I don't want to have to move again because the press won't go away."

Leaning back in his chair Tohma thought about it. "I can ask K to slow it down, but that won't stop the attention on Shu. He's going to be asked to give interviews. Like you said he is the front man. People want to know how this will affect the band and his friendship with Hiro. It's only natural."

"I don't want to have to move again, Tohma. Shuichi went through a lot with that whole prank caller bullshit a few years ago."

The memory of the shenanigans Ryuichi pulled was quite funny now that one could look back on it. Tohma chuckled, causing a scowl to appear on Eiri's face. "I'm sorry. Like I said, I will talk to K. I'll make sure the press backs off of Shindou and give him air. I can't promise anything though."

"That's bullshit. You and I both know how much weight your words hold. You can pull anything off."

"I admire how much faith you have in me. I will certainly do my best, Eiri."

"Thank you."

"Is that all? You could stay and actually visit with me you know. It's been awhile since we spent time together."

Standing, Eiri put his cigarette out on a nearby plant. "I have work to do. Dead lines."

Disappointed, Tohma rose from his desk opening the door for his brother-in-law. "It's been a long time since what happened to Mika and I.", he said sternly, coming to his own defense. "We got through it okay. I wish you would stop being so suspicious of me."

"I wish you would stop giving me reasons to be suspicious." With that Eiri left Tohma's office, slamming the door.

From across the room, Shuichi gazed at Hiro and Emiko with disdain. It wasn't that he disliked Emiko, she was nice enough. And it wasn't that he was jealous that he would now have to share his best friend's time with this Emiko, it was simply that they were engaged. Only a year into the relationship and the two lovebirds were engaged, planning an enormous wedding. It was such big news that all of Japan was in a giant uproar. Everywhere Shu went he saw headlines reading, "Bad Luck's guitarist finally settling down!", "Hiroshi Nakano Engaged, A Sad Day For Female Fans", "Where will this elaborate wedding take place?", "Who will be the dress designer?". You would have thought the Queen of England was getting married in Japan.

Shu sighed and drunk his coke in one hard gulp, hurting his throat. It wasn't any of his business if Hiro wanted to make a full of himself. Right? Hiro could do what he wanted. Anytime. Shu had Eiri to think of, right? Right!

Yeah… Eiri…

Shuichi's eyes drifted over to Tohma's fireplace. Eiri leaned against it gracefully with that boyish charm and sparkling white smile as he spoke with a fellow writer. Eiri was faking that charm and smile. Shu could tell. He'd been fooled enough times by his own boyfriend over the last seven years to know that real smiles by Eiri were so rare they were almost extinct.

Almost. Eiri caught Shuichi's eyes. His lips were stretched into a curve, faking that pretty smile, but the gold colored eyes, they weren't lieing. Shu could see them smiling, just for him. Shu knew that Eiri's most honest smiles came from his eyes, and he knew that they were still happy with one another. Shuichi didn't have to worry about Eiri cheating, or leaving, or anymore secrets. It had been seven years since there last almost was breakup. They had finally figured out how to make it work. Things were perfect.

Eiri turned back to the magazine writer, the one currently developing a story about Hiro's rise to the top with Bad Luck. Shuichi looked back at Hiro an Emiko. They were sitting on the sofa, and Hiro was leaning into her ear whispering words no one else could here as she giggled and played with the diamond ring on her finger. If things are so perfect, Shu thought, why am I not wearing a ring?

The party ended around three-thirty am. Shuichi was falling asleep as he waited for Eiri. He leaned against he door and closed his eyes. He didn't feel Hiro's presence until the guitarist brushed a strand of hair out of Shu's face. The singer opened his eyes with a smile. "Nice party Hiro."'

"Emiko did everything. I only attended. She made the food, decorated. Invited the guests. Why do you look so sad?"

Shuichi's heart skipped. How was it that even when he was so in love with Emiko, their friendship could still hold up. Hiro could still tell. "I'm not sad. I'm tired."

"No. Your both. Shuichi, ever since we announced our engagement, Emiko and I, you seem…different."

"I'm not dif-"

"Is it Yuki? Has he done something? Or…" Hiro's face fell, he looked insulted, or hurt, or even a little embarrassed. Shuichi felt himself fidget. "Shuichi…do you not like Emiko?"

What? "No. No. Hiro, she's great. Really. She seems really nice. And she's pretty. Really pretty."

Hiro studied the boy. "That's a lot of really."

Shu laughed softly, stealing a quick glance at Eiri and Tohma talking. Eiri caught his eyes and held up a finger. 'One minute', his eyes read. When Shu looked back at Hiro, the guitarist was looking at Eiri too. "Shu, you and I can still talk about anything. What's on your mind?"

Shuichi sighed. "Hiro… You've only known Emiko a short time. You've only been together a year.."

"So?"

"So don't you think… I mean aren't you rushing it a bit?"

Hiro took his turn to laugh. "No."

"No?"

"Nope."

Frowning Shuichi lifted himself off of the door and ran a hand through his hair. He felt silly. Stupid, even.

"Shuichi, I love her. Tell me what's wrong. I'm still your best friend. Aren't I?"

"Yeah. Forever."

"Well then. Spill it."

"I already did. Your marrying too fast. I mean, you just broke up with Ayaka two years ago and-"

"Woa. Woa. Shuichi. Ayaka?" What was Shuichi talking about? "She's married and living in America with that guy. She broke up with me ,remember? What does she have to do with anything anyways?"

Shuichi felt even more stupid now. He didn't know what he was saying anymore. "Aren't you rushing this?"

"No. Shuichi I love her."

"I know! But so? Just cause you love her, I mean, that doesn't mean you get married."

Hiro looked offended. "When you love someone, you want to be with them as much as possible."

Shuichi knew it was true but the truth hurt. Feeling insecure, Shuichi babbled not thinking about what he was really saying, "Yeah but you don't run into a temple and spit out vows. You two haven't even moved in together yet. Come on Hiro, your rushing this. You need to slow down."

"Shu, I bought a house in Tokyo. She and I are going to move there together after the wedding. She's very traditional. She doesn't want to make love until after we're married. I can barely kiss her. I love her and I'm marrying her whether I have your blessing or not. When two people love each other enough to want to be with them forever they get married. If somewhere down the road we divorce, well I'll deal with it then, but right now, tonight, I love her. And she loves me. We're marrying and that's all there is to it, Shuichi. That's what people do."

A silence fell between them as Hiro caught his breath and Shuichi knew he'd hurt him. "Hiro I'm sorry. I…" His violet eyes began to water. "I.. oh gosh, I'm so sorry."

Hiro suddenly got it. He felt like an ass now too. "Oh Shu.. Oh forget it. It's not a big deal. It's not what everyone does. I mean some people spend their whole lives together and never marry. It's just a piece of paper."

Shuichi smiled. Hiro was so sweet, trying to back track his words.

Hiro ruffled his hair. "He loves you. You know that. Anyone can see the way he looks at you."

"Yeah." Shu looked back at Eiri. "I know."

It was then that Eiri made his way over carrying Shuichi's coat for him. "Ready?"

Shu looked up into Hiro's eyes, "Forever, Hiro. Congratulations."

Hiro smiled. "Thanks, Shu."

Eiri lifted a curious brow as he watched Hiro head back to the remaining guests. "What was that?"

"Nothing. I'm sleepy." Shuichi let Eri put his coat on and opened the door. "Let's go home, Eiri."

Barefoot, with wet hair sticking to his neck and forehead, Eiri walked into Shuichi's home studio still buttoning his white shirt. He leaned in the doorway. "Mika wants to know what we're buying them. She said if anyone buys the same gift that it would be tacky or some shit like that."

Shuichi was sitting at the piano. He didn't know how to play. Eiri, Fujisaki and Hiro did, but not Shu. Shu just picked at the keys whenever he couldn't think of anything to write. The piano was their when they moved in and Eiri wanted to throw it out. Shuichi insisted on it staying just for the simple reason that it looked nice, and somewhere in his secret heart he had hoped that they might someday have a child, and Eiri could someday teach that child to play. But three years had gone by since they moved into the penthouse.

"Shu, did you hear me?"

Shuichi's fingers slid off the keys. "Huh?"

"Mika wants to know what we're getting them."

Shu looked up. "Who?"

"Hiro and Emiko. Did you stay up all night again working on those lyrics? I already told you. They're trash. Start over."

Normally Shuichi would have smiled at the teasing and felt warm. Today he shrugged, "Mika is throwing the bridal shower. Let her buy a gift."

"She is buying a gift." Finished with his buttoning, Eiri walked to his lover and began to massage his tense shoulders. "You're worried about that song, aren't you? Don't let Tohma and the band pressure you so hard. So what if that band-what are they called? Violet? Violent? Whatever they're called, don't let them get to you just because their song beat yours on the chart. It was just one spot. It's not like you were even in first place."

He brushed Eiri off. "I'm happy for Hiro. He always said he wanted kids. Now he can have them."

Startled at the sincerity of Shuichi's words, Eiri stepped back. Was Shuichi saying he wanted kids? Did the brat really think he could handle that? "Shuichi…"

"I just don't understand."

"I'm not good with-"

"Wording your feelings, I know. I just thought… I thought by now we would be-"

"Don't say that word. It gives me chills."

Shuichi frowned. "I can't even say the word now?"

"No."

"Why?" The singer demanded.

"I just told you."

"So your scared. That's the reason why." Shuichi didn't care about hurting Eiri's ego right now. Right now he wanted honesty. He needed to know why they weren't married if they were so in love.

Eiri felt his blood boil. "I'm not scared. I just know facts. And the fact is that you can't handle it."

"Me? It's you who couldn't handle it, Eiri. You are too wrapped in your own world of possibilities. If it happened you wouldn't have those anymore. Would you?" Shuichi turned around on the stool to look at his lover with accusing eyes. It wasn't a secret that Eiri used to cheat on Shuichi.

"Yes, possibilities. You took the words right out of my mouth." Eiri said. "What your wanting Shu is just too much. Especially right now. What if, at a moment's notice, I wanted to fly to Europe? Then what?"

Shu's mouth dropped.

Fly. To. Europe. ?

Europe.

Europe!

Of all the nerve!

Shuichi's mind saw some blonde girl pronouncing the bathroom as the 'loo', making love to Eiri in some cheap hotel in London. "You are disgusting."

Eiri's mouth dropped. "I'm disgusting because I don't want responsibilities? I'm disgusting because I want to do what I want, when I want?"

"Yes! I can't believe after seven years of faithfulness you would actually say this to me."

"I'm just being honest! You're the one who insists on honesty!"

"Honesty!" He through his hands in the air. "That's a good one. Why can't you be like those other cheating boyfriends who at least lie? Am I not even worth a lie anymore, Eiri?"

Cheating boyfriends? Oh. He suddenly got it. Eiri could have flew into a laughing fit. "Shuichi…" His shoulders began to shake as he started to chuckle.

"Why the fuck are you laughing?"

"Because you are so stupid."

Shuichi stood from the piano's stool and marched out of the room. He didn't have to take Eiri's shit tonight.

"Wait Shu, come back."

Shuichi marched into the bathroom. He stretched his arms over his head pulling off his shirt then unzipped and stepped out of his pants. He was stepping into the shower when Eiri opened the door, coming in. Shuichi closed his eyes and ignored him as he washed his hair.

Eiri leaned against the sink watching through the pale pink shower curtain that for all it was worth might as well have been clear. He marveled at Shu's naked body. They were both getting older, but their bodies were still holding out. No wrinkles, not a dull strand of hair, not an ounce over weight. They were doing good. Of course, the sex probably had something to do with the weight success. Without saying a word, Eiri removed his clothes. He just had a shower, but why pass up the opportunity of make up sex in the shower?

Pulling the curtain back, Eiri stepped in behind his lover wrapping his arms around his waist lovingly. "Shu.." He murmured in Shuichi's soft, brown hair.

"Go away." The singer grumbled.

"Shu…"

"I said go away."

Eiri slid his hands down Shuichi's waist and thighs. He felt the inside of Shu's warm legs, enjoying the boy weakening under his touches. "We were talking about two totally different things."

"What?"

"Two different things. Miscommunication. I'm not seeing anyone else and I don't want anyone else."

"R-really?"

"Really." He started kissing Shu's neck, nipping him playfully but gently down to his shoulder. "And I don't appreciate.." His lips smacked as he planted kiss after kiss down Shuichi's arm. "..the way you jumped-to that-conclusion."

"Sorry. I knew better." The younger turned around in his lover's arms, and together they made up like all the times before.

It was not until late that night that Shuichi grabbed Eiri's shoulder and shook it in order to wake him. "Hey. Hey wake up."

"Hm?" Eiri pulled the blanket further up his shoulders.

"Eiri wake up."

"Huh?" Sitting up the blonde saw the alarm clock on the night stand. "It's four in the morning." He announced before falling backwards and pulled the pillow over his head.

"Eiri." Frustrated, Shuichi snatched the pillow away. "Wake up. I want to talk."'

"We'll take at breakfast."

"I want to talk now."

"About what?" He snapped, fully pissed off.

Shuichi pulled his knees up to his chest as Eiri cracked an eye to look at Shu. His soft, strawberry smelling hair was a mess and his beautiful eyes were looking worried. Eiri asked a second time, but much softer than before, "What about?"

"Earlier."

"The sex?"

"NO. The…miscommunication."

"Oh. What about it?"

"What did you think I was talking about?"

Eiri sucked in a breath of air and glanced again at the clock. He had tomorrow planned for an all day writing fest. He had two deadlines just around the corner and Shu wanted to talk about this now? Annoyed, but knowing it would be better to get this all out now rather than later when he was trying to write, Eiri admitted, "Kids."

That shocked the singer. "ki." He cleared his throat. "Kids? You mean have a baby?"

"Yeah."

Shuichi busted into a laughing fit so strong he fell over onto his side. "We can't have a baby!"

Eiri covered his ears. "Good. I'm glad."

All smiles, Shu said, "Not yet anyways. Not anytime soon. I just want to-" He stopped himself. "I mean…I like the way things are right now."

"Me too." Eiri smiled as he watched Shu's giggles calm down. "Glad you don't feel the need to go there."

"Yeah. You worried about nothing." Shuichi , softly laughing, scooted close to his boyfriend of so many years and cuddled his head on Eiri's shoulder. "I love you."

Eiri, not good with his feelings simply said, "You too."

Shu kissed Eiri's cheek. "Sorry for waking you. I was just worried."

"Only stupid people worry."

"Yeah. Sorry again. Waffles for breakfast. How does that sound?"

Eiri grumbled, "Are you cooking them?"

"Yeah."

"No thanks."

Playfully Shuichi hit him on the chest, then rolled over going back to sleep. Eiri laid their awhile, thinking. Shuichi meant a lot to him. The kid, who wasn't much of a kid had been worried about something. Eiri wondered what it was, and that wonderment was enough to spark a curiosity in him.

At the breakfast table, Eiri couldn't wait any longer, he asked Shuichi right off. "What did you think I was talking about last night?"

Shuichi's mouth was stuffed with a waffle. He scrunched his eyebrows confused. It took a moment, but then he remembered. He studied Eiri's face. Did he want to bring up marriage? Should he lie? Eiri looked to be in a good mood today. Maybe Shuichi should take the chance to bring it up. He swallowed and said, "Nothing." Or maybe he was just a coward.

"Nothing caused us to argue?"

"Yeah."

"Shuichi, you said you wanted honesty in this relationship. We had to always say what was on our minds because we can't read them."

"That was me? Sounds like something Mika would say."

Eiri pulled his pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket and slid out a stick. "I won't get mad." They looked at each other while Eiri lit up and Shuichi chewed another bite of his waffle.

"Eiri… Do you ever get the feeling we're not like everyone else?"

The writer smirked. "I sleep with another man, and you ask if I feel different?"

Shuichi dropped his fork. "I'm asking if you feel like we're falling behind."

"Behind?" Those were strange words for Shuichi. "Behind what?"

"Everyone. It's as if we're coming in last."

Eiri took a drag trying to figure Shu out. "You're going to have to talk in words I can understand."

"Everyone is getting married and…we aren't. Don't you ever feel like we should?"

"No."

"Well gee don't hurt yourself thinking long and hard on that one." Angry he stood snatching his plate up and dumping it in the sink.

"Shuichi, we're homosexuals remember? We're not the kind of people who get married."

Leaning against the counter of the sink, Shu listened to what Eiri had to say, but he thought his reasoning was weak. "Eiri, that's stupid. I know plenty of gays who are married."

"Well…they're the exception."

"We could be the exception."

Eiri sighed. This was what was bothering Shuichi? He wanted two of them to get married? "Why do you want to get married?"

"Because I love you."

"I love you too but…" He thought of Tohma, and the girl that left his office. He thought of the original girl that caused Mika to draw up divorce papers. He thought of Tohma on his knees, "I'm sorry. It will never, ever, happen again." He thought of how Mika cried on his shoulder for a week. "Shuichi, let me tell you something. Marriage isn't what you think it is. It's really just a forty-five dollar piece of paper. That's all."

"No it isn't! Eiri, a marriage is when you want to tell the world that your in love."

"Didn't we already broadcast this relationship?"

Shuichi remembered Eiri standing in front of a dozen reporters and saying, 'I think people are more understanding of these things today'. "That's not what I mean, Eiri, and you know it."

He sighed. "Shuichi, why do we have to broadcast that we're in love? You know that I love you. I've told you. You know that I'm committed to you. People who need a piece of paper to prove it are insecure. They feel that's what everyone else is doing and it's what they should be doing so they get married. So they're just lying to themselves and other people to make them feel safe and secure in their relationship." He thought a minute before asking worriedly, "You're not insecure are you? About us?"

Shuichi shook his head.

"You know how much I love you? That I'm not seeing anyone but you?" Eiri had learned to ask the two questions at least twice a week. It kept Shuichi aware that he in deed needed Shu just as much as Shu needed him, and it kept him from actually having to say how much he loved the brat out loud.

"Yes. I trust you, Eiri."

"Good." He smiled. "We have a great life. We're happy. We don't need to get some paper to prove we love each other. Do we?"

"No." Shu sighed. "You're right Eiri." He pushed off the counter and found Eiri's lap, kissing him sweetly.

Shuichi looked at the tuxes. "What's the difference again?"

Hiro held the one in his left hand higher. "This is black. And this.." He lifted the one in his right hand higher. "is navy blue."

"They look the same."

K nodded, squinting his eyes. "They are."

Fujisaki agreed. "I can't tell the difference either. Pick whatever you like."

"I can't do that. Emiko wants everything to be special. Which one do I look better in?"

"They're the same really." Shuichi said. Then noticed the uncertainty in Hiro's eyes. "Well…maybe the one on the left is a little darker. Yeah. I can see it now." He lied. "That's totally black. Pick that one. It looks best."

"Really?"

"Yeah. That one for sure, Hiro."

Fujisaki leaned into Shu's ear as Hiro turned to go into the dressing room. "You lied, didn't you?"

"Of course."

Laughing the three men sat down in the big blue waiting seats by the mirrors. K asked aloud so Hiro could hear, "So Hiroshi, why the big rush? You two love birds seem to be speeding this wedding along. Or maybe it's just me. "

"No rush. We just want to be married."

"I know that but she changed the date twice, didn't she?" Fujisaki asked.

"Oh that well." Hiro said. "She didn't want a winter wedding and we sure didn't want to wait till spring."

K laughed. "Could she be…pregnant?" He teased.

Shu gulped. "Hiro?"

"She is not pregnant. She's very traditional and just doesn't want a winter wedding. That's all"

K continued his teasing, "Hm. But she did look chubbier in those wedding photo invitations than at the engagement party."

"She's not pregnant."

Fujisaki decided to join in. "She did look a little bigger…"

"She's not!"

Ignoring Hiro's cries of protest, Fujisaki asked, "Hey K, how long were you with Judy before you got married?" "Ah Judy!" K's eyes closed remembering his younger years. "Judy turned me down twice before finally agreeing to marry. I probably chased her all over the countryside."

"That uh, doesn't answer my question.."

"She finally agreed and we eloped that very night."

"Eloped?" Hiro asked.

"Yep. Eloped. We flew to Hawaii and married on the beach. Just the two of us."

Shuichi frowned. "Wait. Wait. You didn't have any witnesses? Didn't you want to tell the whole world?"

"Hell no! We liked having a private wedding."

"But then what was the point of getting married then?"

K gave Shu a confused looked. "Because we were in love! Why else? That's what people do when they are in love. They don't just live forever in sin! I had to marry her or people would start to talk. Besides, her fa-"

Hiro stepped out of the dressing room. "How do I look?"

"Great! Just great." Fujisaki offered.

"A perfect groom." K said.

Shuichi frowned as he thought over what he and Eiri discussed a week ago. "Yeah…Uh, you look fantastic."

"Shuichi what's wrong?" Hiro asked, noticing the look on Shu's face.

Fujisaki glanced at the singer of their band. "Shuichi?"

"Nothing." He wiped at his cheeks. "Its nothing guys."

K hit realization just as the other two. "Oh Shuichi, I mean, not for everyone. Not everyone gets married!"

"Yeah." Hiro jumped in. "You and Eiri, your not like everyone else. You know? Eiri has a lot of emotional damage. He's, he needs time."

"Right. Hiro's right. I mean, look at my cousin Tohma. He was with Mika how long before they finally got married?"

Hiro nodded frantically, "That's right. But if you guys never get married, well, that's not terrible. You know he loves you. You know that. Marriage just isn't for some people. It's not what some people want."

Shuichi nodded twice before busting into tears. "I know he loves me. I know he does."

Eiri blew a puff of smoke out and leaned his head back against the couch closing his eyes. He finished his dead line, so now he could look forward to a few weeks peace before this whole wedding nonsense would take place and give him a headache. Then hopefully once it was over it would get the marriage bullshit out of Shuichi's head. He loved Shu. He needed Shu. Eiri just didn't believe in marriage.

He sat up to get a cup of coffee when his cell rang. He pulled the little phone from his pocket, "Hello?"

"Eiri? It's Tohma…"

"What is it?"

"Mika kicked me out."

"What?"

"I came home and my clothes were scattered across the lawn. You didn't have anything to do with that… Did you, Eiri?"

Eiri pictured his sister throwing out Tohma's hats and large coats out into the front yard. "No. I think that's all your fault."

"She was a client. I was not lying to you."

"I didn't tell her anything."

He heard Tohma sigh into the phone. "She's going to stay a few days with Noriko. She said she wants a divorce."

"Maybe that's for the best."

"I don't want a divorce."

"Should have thought about that before you fucked some girl in your office. Goodbye Tohma." Eiri disconnected the call and ran his trembling fingers through his hair. He never thought he would choose, but he just picked a side, didn't he? He just chose his sister over his best friend. Dear God, now what was he going to do?

A slam of a door caught his attention. Eiri looked at his front door. It was closed. The slam of a second door caused him to stand. Shuichi's studio. He was home. Eiri put out the cigarette and went into the studio. Shuichi was sitting at the piano again, not playing. Shuichi was probably on the edge of a deadline and coming up with nothing. Normally Eiri didn't interrupt but he felt this was something Shu needed to know. "Shuichi-"

Shuichi didn't bother to look up. "Not now, Eiri. I need some quiet right now."

"Okay but I need to talk with you."

"Later."

"No. Now."

That caused the singer to look up. "You want to talk?"

"Yes."

"Okay. Lets talk. How come everyone is married or getting married, but us?"

Eiri was thrown through a loop. "What? Didn't we talk about that?"

"I want to talk about it again."

Eiri tried hard to come up with an unmarried couple. "Tatsuha and Ryuichi didn't get married."

"Because they live in two different countries! They're together only when Ryu makes his trips back to Japan every summer. They know they'll never be married. They don't count."

"What about Fujisaki?"

Shuichi rolled his eyes. "He's too young to think about marriage right now. Noriko is married. Tohma and Mika are married. My sitster got married. Hiro is getting married. K is married. And Sakano is engaged. And even Reiji is married. What are we doing?"

"We…" Eiri said slowly. "We…. We are…We are happy the way we are."

"No Eiri, you're happy the way we are. I'm not. I want to be Noriko and Mika."

Eiri laughed. "You want to be a loud, big breasted, controlling bitch?"

"No! I want to come home after a long day at work knowing that you are going to be here. I want to always refer myself as 'we', about everything. I want a ring. I want vows. I want commitement."

"You have and do all of that." He demanded. "You just don't have a paper."

"Well I want that piece of paper."

"Shuichi-"

"Don't Shuichi me! Why aren't we married?" He demanded, leaving no room to change the subject.

Eiri sighed gently, sitting down on the piano bench next to his boyfriend of so many years. "I told you I love you, and that I want no one else. People who are insecure get married. They need that paper to tie the other person down. It's their way of holding onto them. We don't need that paper to keep us in place. We're stronger without it."

Shuichi's couldn't believe the words coming out of Eiri's mouth. "That's bullshit. That's a line. A line of bullshit that every one says. I watch the movies. I listen to people at work talk. I listen to my sister and her friends talk. That, 'I don't believe in marriage' crap, and the other shit about insecurity is just a line of bullshit, and Eiri you know it!"

"I'm not feeding you lines! It's not bullshit."

"You are and it is! You're just making that up because you don't want to get married."

"I don't believe in marriage. Can't you believe me when I say I honestly do not believe in marriage? If we got married right now, nothing would change at all Shuichi. Nothing. We'd be the same two people, the same apartment, the same jobs and the same friends and family. We'd love each other the same and we'd eat the same damn food."

Shuichi stood up, looking straight at his lover, "Then why not get married then? If nothing will change, then why not? How can a single, little piece of paper hurt us?"

They stared into each others eyes like a dare. Shuichi waited for Eiri to tell him why. Eiri tried to think of something to say; something to make Shu understand.

For Shuichi, Eiri's silence was answer enough. "Eiri… We have both been through a lot. We separated. We got back together. Every time. I never brought it up before because I wanted to prove I'm not the same punk kid you met in the park. I wanted to show you that I've matured emotionally and mentally. I didn't want to be pushy anymore, or too clingy. But I see now that it's gone on too long to not bring it up. We wanted to be honest with each other. Lets stop pretending we're something we're not. We've been together over seven years. I want to marry you, and either you want to marry me or you don't." The boy stopped to catch his breath. Their atmosphere turned thick and Eiri's chest tightened at Shuichi's next words, "Are you ever going to marry me?"

Eiri stayed silent. What could he say to such emotional words pouring out of Shuichi? He thought of Tohma's affair and his sister's heartache. He thought of his brother and that idiot pop star Ryuichi. He thought of his editor who was married. Then, he thought of life with Shuichi as a married couple. He didn't know if he could marry Shu when he didn't believe in marriage. "I don't know."

Shuichi blinked, and tears began to pour down his cheek.

Eiri said, his own throat tightening in fear, "I love you. That I do know."

Shuichi shook his head. "I love you too, but that… that just isn't enough this time."

"Shu…"

"I can't do keep doing this." Brushing past his lover, Shuichi walked out of the room.

Part TWO

If you could pretend all the photographers and reporters weren't there, Hiro's wedding really was beautiful. Emiko was gorgeous in her white, sleeveless wedding gown and Hiro really was the perfect groom. Shuichi stood by his best friend's side as Emiko walked down a carpet laid out specially for her service, and he stayed their while the two in love recited vows and promises. Shuichi sniffled as a few tears started to fall. Hiro looked so happy, no wonder they were getting married.

When they shared that first married kiss, Shuichi could have sworn he saw Hiro tear up as well, which washed away any doubts Shu had about this marriage. He watched as Emiko and Hiro took hands and walked back down the aisle together in all smiles. Yeah, Shuichi thought, marriage isn't just a piece of paper. It can't be.

At the reception, Shuichi didn't feel like dancing. Instead he found a table and planted himself there with a bottle of champagne. Over the last year or two he had stayed away from any alcohol. Eiri was the beer drinker. But today Shuichi needed something, and a little alcohol might just do the trick for the loneliness he'd feel when the time came to go back to his empty apartment.

"Shuichi!"

The singer recognized that voice anywhere, "Hey, Ryu."

"What are you doing sitting by yourself?" Ryuichi slid into the seat beside Shuichi with a smile.

"I'm just having a drink. Where's Tatsuha?"

"Tatsuha and I are playing a game."

"Oh?" Shu asked. "What kind of game?"

"Doesn't matter, he won't win." Ryu winked and took a sip from Shuichi's cup, as he switched from that playful idiot to a more serious adult. "Where's Mr. Tall, brooding and handsome?"

Shu frowned. "Uhm, Eiri decided not to come."

"Oh? Well parties never seemed to be his thing."

"No. He likes the quiet."

Ryuichi sighed, "I missed you. America is no fun without you. We didn't do anything fun the last time you were there."

Shu remembered the year he quite at NG and signed onto XMR. He shivered at the thought of those bad memories. "Well, I was pretty busy at the time." He began blocking out some of the particular memories. Things no one wanted to remember.

"Since you and Eiri aren't together anymore, why don't you come stay with me for awhile? Tatsuha is coming to stay too and we could go out and see the sights and-"

"Woa. Woa. Woa. Back it up. What did you just say?"

Ryuichi gave Shu a devilish smile. "I said come stay with me and Tatsuha."

Shuichi looked at Ryu, who was trying to look cute and innocent, "Who told you that we broke up? It's not like we announced it."

"No one. I see it in your eyes. Calm down. No one knows but me. Oh and Tatsuha because I told him. Oh and Tohma because Eiri probably told him. Uh, and Mika cause Tohma probably told her. But that's all. No one else has a clue."

Shuichi wanted to relax, but couldn't. "It wasn't my fault." He confessed, looking into his empty glass of champagne.

"What happened?"

Shu sighed, "It's a long, uninteresting story, Ryu." He decide to change the subjet. "What plans do you have while you're back in Japan?"

"I'm only staying for the wedding. Tell your story. I'm your friend. You can tell me."

"It's just…Do you believe in marriage Ryu?"

Ryuichi wasn't too shocked to hear the question. He figured weddings had something to do with the break up. He shrugged. "It's only for some people. It's not for me. I will never marry Tatsuha. And he knows that. I live in America, and I refuse to leave it. He lives here, and he refuses to leave it. We're okay though. We don't mind. We make up for the time lost when we visit."

"You don't want to go home every night knowing that Tatsuha will be there? Don't you ever get lonely?"

Something in Ryu's eyes seemed to waver, but then he shook his head looking very serious. Then the corner of the right side of his mouth twisted in a sort of smile. "Shu… honestly, Tatsuha and I are grown up. We both know it. When we're apart, he and I both know we can sleep with anyone. It's a rule. When we're together, we know not to even glance at something that wiggles. Do you get what I'm saying?"

Shu shook his head, "No one ever understands what you're saying, Ryu. You speak in riddles. I think I do but, if it's to make me feel better you did a shitty job."

Ryu laughed. "Come to America! Come on Shuichi! Why not? I'll show you the time of your life while your there. I promise."

"I don't know."

"Oh come on! You don't have anything here. Here you're lonely and scared. In America you've got me."

Shu smiled softly. "Well…"

"You know you want to. Wipe the dirt off your hands from this crummy little country and come to LA with me."

Shu thought of the empty bed back at the apartment. Eiri wasn't coming home and Shuichi needed to take his mind off of things. "Alright. I'll do it."

"Yes! We're going to have so much fun Shuichi!"

Tohma sighed and taped the lid of the box, looking at the floor space around him. "Where did the marker go?"

Eiri picked the black permanent marker up from the coffee table and tossed it over to Tohma who was sitting on the floor boxing up his novels. Mika had kicked him out for good. She'd left for the day to give him a chance to collect everything that was his from the house. (Everything she hadn't previously thrown out into the yard that is)Eiri came to help, because at the end of the day he was always Tohma's best friend. And Tohma his.

"Thanks, Eiri."

Eiri looked at how pathetic Tohma looked. "You need a shower."

The blond looked up. "Is that all the help you are going to offer me today?"

"Pretty much."

Tohma didn't respond to that. He picked the marker up and wrote out in big, bold letters, 'BOOKS'. Eiri leaned back on the sofa looking around. The sitting room was huge. Mika had picked the house out specifically for it's large rooms because she wanted kids someday. Well now she had little Hisoka, but no husband. But that wasn't her fault. It was Tohma's.

"Tohma…" He started. "If you didn't want to be married. Why did you? I know Mika didn't propose to you. And I know that my father didn't pressure you. In fact he hated you. So why bother if you didn't love her?"

Taken by surprise by the personal question, Tohma pushed the box away and stood up. "Are you thirsty?" Without another word he ventured into the kitchen and began putting on a pot of tea quietly.

Eiri followed, unsure if Tohma was going to answer him or not. He took a spot at the dinning table and waited patiently for Tohma. When the tea was done and the man who owned the biggest music label in Japan had taken a seat across from Japan's number one romance novelist, Eiri asked again, "Why did you marry Mika in the first place?"

Looking up from his tea cup and into Eiri's eyes Tohma answered honestly, "Because I loved her."

"Love?" He couldn't believe that. "But you still had an affair. That doesn't make any sense. And once was bad enough, but twice? How dare you say that you loved her."

"But I did. I loved her, Eiri. More than I love you or ever loved you. I trust her still. I love her still."

Eiri felt like choking Tohma. Normally this was business that didn't concern Eiri, but Mika was seriously upset by this, and not to mention Shuichi had given him the ultimatum. Marriage and weddings were a touchy subject for Eiri right now. "Then why the hell did you have an affair? Come on Tohma, people who are in love don't step out on their wives."

"Because I wasn't ready for marriage, Eiri. I was not ready for that kind or commitment. Mika and I were very young when we married. But I loved her. Please don't ever think otherwise. I did not marry her for any other reason, but I was also very young. Very young. I wasn't ready."

"So you weren't ready and now your having affairs left and right?"

Tohma's eyes widened, "Hey! That's a lie! I slept with one girl, once. And the girl you saw in my office was not her. Look, Eiri, I love Mika. She loved me. So we married. I couldn't live without her. Marriage was perfect for awhile. Then I opened NG and started running the business with no help. It was just me struggling to make NG a success. I had to work long hours. Mika stayed at your parents to take care of your father and you two boys. We never saw each other."

"You see each other now."

"We do, but… She, just like you, will never trust me again. I had only one affair. You can't even call it an affair really. I slept with a girl once and she will never believe me that it was only once. Just like you Eiri, she believes I slept with my client. The very same one you saw and accused me of. But I didn't. You can call the girl and ask her all you want. But I didn't lay a hand on her."

Eiri took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Was he going to believe this? "Have you told her all of this?"

"Yes. She called me a lying, manipulating bastard."

Eiri made a 'hmpf' noise. "She's known that for yeas. That's no excuse for a divorce now."

Tohma smiled, and finally began to relax. "Will you talk to her, Eiri? Please?"

"Well, I don't-"

"Please?"

"Tohma, I don't know."

"Please? Eiri…I love her."

Looking at Tohma, Eiri had never seen Tohma look so lost. When he had asked Mika for forgiveness the first time, only time, whatever, Tohma had looked so scared. Now he looked lost and confused and just so alone. Eiri didn't know what to say.

Shuichi had only been to New York. Las Angelas. was so much different from New York and Japan. It was like being in a whole new world.

Suddenly, Tatsuha slapped the singer on the back, "I knew it, Ryu! He's speechless."

Ryuichi laughed as the three walked from the taxi cab to the apartment building. "You're going to love it Shuichi! We're going to have so much fun!"

Shuichi smiled. "Yeah, it's colorful. I'll say that. There are so many people."

"Great people!" Ryu insisted. "Never a dull moment. Keeps us on our toes. We'll have to take him clubbing on the strip won't we Tat?"

"Yeah! Shu you are really going to love it. These bright city lights will make you forget my bro so fast you won't know what hit you."

Shu faked a laugh and frowned as they went inside. He didn't want to forget Eiri. He just wanted to forget the loneliness inside himself. He thought back to that night they fought, and how he said he couldn't do it anymore. Eiri insisted they sit down and talk it out. He wanted to change Shuichi's mind.

That touched Shu. He knew Eiri loved him, ever since six years ago when he saw the writer bawl his eyes out at the Nittle Grasper concert that Bad Luck had stolen the stage from. But Shu also knew what he wanted, and if Eiri couldn't give it, then maybe they were wasting time together. So he gave Eiri a choice: Marry me, or this is over.

Eiri had offered to be the one to leave. He claimed, "I don't want you out this late at night trying to find a hotel. I'll go." Shu didn't think he'd really leave, but when Eiri shut the door behind him, Shuichi crawled into bed and cried till it hurt to blink.

Now Shuichi set his bags down on a strange bed in an apartment with Tatsuha and Ryuichi, the biggest party animals he ever met. Maybe they were right though. Maybe a little fun would get his mind off of everything. "Hey guys!" He shouted. "After we unpack lets hit the strip. I'm ready to have fun!"

Ryu yelled back from his room next door , "Now your talking!"

The clubs were hot and Shuichi was having a blast. He took shot after shot and danced with girls and guys he didn't know the names of. Exhausted he fell onto the bar stool, laughing. "Wow. L.A. is definitely more fun than New York. Especially when your not getting chased by giant pandas."

Ryu laughed as he fell into the chair next to him. "Well, Reiji isn't here."

"Thank God for that."

"Yeah. Hey Shu, we need to share the stage again soon. It's been forever!"

"We do!" Shu jumped up and grabbed the music legend's hand pulling him to the stage where a band was rocking the joint. "Come on! Lets steal the stage."

Ryu laughed. "Lets do it!"

For the rest of the night they sang and danced, while across the seas in Japan, Eiri wished that his bed sheets smelled like strawberries.

Mikami wiped her eyes as she opened the door for Eiri who was knockingfirst thing in the morning.

"You look like shit." He said.

"Thanks a lot. You look like shit too. What do you want?"

"Just to talk."

"Yeah right." She said as she walked back into the sitting room. She was still dressed in pajamas, her long hair flowing down her back. She grabbed her house coat from where it was draped across the sofa and slipped it on. "Are you here to get Hisoka? Because I told Tohma that if he wanted to spend the day with him, he'd have to pick him up from Emiko's. She and Hiro offered to take him for the weekend."

Eiri looked around. He had never been to Noriko's house. He'd met her tons of times when Nittle Grasper first formed but he never really got to know her. Or her husband. As crazy as he always thought she was she seemed to have a nice place and life. He now saw her in the corner of his eye. She stood at the bottom of a flight of stairs across the room. "Hello." He said.

Her arms folded. Clearly she was on Mika's side in all of this. Interesting, considering she was Tohma's band mate since they were kids. Eiri told Mika, "I'm not here to pick up Hisoka. I'm here as a favor for Tohma."

Mika spun on her heals, her eyes slanted and Eiri could seriously feel the heat flowing off of her like a cheap perfume. "Don't even say it."

Eiri took a deep breath and risked having his face ripped off. "He wants you to call off the divorce."

"Fuck you, Eiri. I thought that whole, 'I'm a bastard' act was for your reputation, now I know you really are a bastard. Just like Tohma. Get out." Noriko began to walk towards him.

"Wait." He held his hands up in defense. "Mika, look, I don't know what your feelings are right now. If you want to divorce him, divorce him. Punch him in the face for all I care. He's your husband, you do what you want, but he helped me out in New York. More than once, and now, I'm paying him back. In fact, I asked you what he told me to, so now we're even."

Noriko still kept up her march. As she reached the writer she grabbed his arm. "Come on. Stop causing her pain."

Eiri yanked his arm away. "Don't touch me. I can leave on my own."

Mika slipped a strand of hair behind her ears. She looked so fragile standing there. Eiri couldn't imagine how Tohma could hurt her.

"Noriko…. Could you give my brother and me some time alone? I'll be alright."

Noriko didn't seem to like that. She gave Eiri a once over, debating.

"Eiri." Mika said. "I heard about Shu. Do… Uhm… Do you want some tea, or…coffee?"

"Have any beer?"

Mika glanced at Noriko again, who nodded before heading back upstairs.

Eiri was amazed by Noriko's seriousness of the situation. He'd never seen her so solemn like this. "Great. I'd love one."

They sat at Noriko's dinning table alone together. Eiri opened his beer feeling out of place in the large house. Mika on the other hand looked right at home as she drank her coffee. She asked, "How are you, Eiri?"

He gulped his beer, having to mull that one over. "Some days are better than others."

She smiled at that. "I imagine Shu is going insane by now without you. Why'd you leave him this time?"

"I didn't. I mean, I did leave, but he wanted me to."

That shocked her. "Woa, what?"

"He gave me an ultimatum. He said, we marry, or I leave."

"Oh, I get it." She said nodding, "This is about commitment."

He sighed. Why did he agree to sit and talk with her again? "No this is about Shuichi feeling like we have to be like everyone else."

"No Eiri, this is about needing to feel secure."

"Well I don't date needy people."

"Why not?" She spat. "You're needy."

His golden eyes narrowed at her but she knew his bark and his bite was nothing to worry about. Shuichi tamed this wild beast years ago. "Sorry Eiri. You didn't come here to talk about Shuichi."

Eiri sighed with a shrug of his shoulders, he didn't want to talk about Tohma either but he supposed he had to. "Tohma says he really loves you."

She laughed, unable to help it. "Right. Well, I bet he tells that to all the pretty girls."

Eiri shook his head, "He says he didn't touch that singer. The only time he says he cheated is the one time you have already forgiven him for."

Mika pushed her chair out and away from the table. "No. No I don't believe it."

"Why?"

"Because I don't. He's full of shit."

He watched her stand and push her messy hair out of her face. Her body movements were stiff and jerky. It crushed him to see her like this. "Mika….at least talk to him."

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because…."

He waited. He knew marriage was fake. He knew that a certificate couldn't mean anything but extra heartache.

"Because…" Mika's voice faltered. "Oh Eiri because I know as soon as I look at him I'll want to forgive him." With that confession said she slid back into the chair, her face in her hands.

He was surprised to hear that. "What?"

"You heard me." Then she began to cry. "I love him. Eiri I do. I love him. But I know he's lying. And even if he's not… He lied before. I can't take him back. And knowing that is just going to make it worse if I have to look at his face."

Eiri sighed again. Alright, he thought, this is probably my time to leave. He pushed his chair back and stood just as his hand balled into a fist. Seeing Mika, who was normally the strongest in the family, look so weak, angered Eiri. He almost felt betrayed himself.

Reaching out to him, Mika grabbed Eiri's fist and unfolded the fingers. "Don't do anything stupid." She whispered.

"Why not? Mika, he vowed himself to you and then he went out and slept with another woman. See? I told you not to marry him. Didn't I? This is what I tried to tell Shuichi. Marriage is a fake."

"Oh Eiri no…" She wiped her face and smiled at her baby brother who had misunderstood. "Eiri don't think that. For everything Tohma and I been through, and even though this divorce will probably get ugly…I, I don't regret it. I don't regret marrying Tohma. I never will."

Eiri couldn't believe the words coming out of her mouth. "He hurt you."

"So? That's life sometimes Eiri. At the time I chose to marry him, I was in love. So was he. As the years go by I've realized that people, Eiri… People are…" She sighed with a smile. "People are people. We're just human. All you can do is follow your heart and eventually you'll get it right."

Shuichi laid in his bed alone beneath the bundle of warm blankets. He stared at his alarm clock as it blinked to the next minute. Five am in L. A. Shu, Ryuichi and Tatsuha had gotten home from all their partying around three. Ever since Shuichi had been listening to the two on the other side of the wall as they talked, laughed, whispered, and made love to one another inside their bedroom. At first Shuichi covered his ears and buried his head beneath his pillow, but then after awhile he couldn't help but over hear the sweet, simple things Ryuichi was saying.

Sadly, Shu remembered the way Eiri would sometimes whisper things into his ear that let him know the blond writer really did care. Now, looking at the clock, Shu wondered what Eiri was doing. Had he found a nice apartment? Did he finish the novel before the deadline came? Last he wondered what time it was back home. Maybe he could call just to check up on Eiri.

No…

No maybe he should just leave Eiri alone.

Shuichi blinked as warm tears began to build up. He could hear Tatsuha now, promising Ryu that he had made plans to come back in the fall. Shu's shoulders began to shake when he heard Ryu say, "You don't have to keep promising Tatsuha…I know your coming back silly. You think I doubt you when you say you love me?"

Was that how the two men made their relationship work with their crazy schedules? They simply trusted and believed in one another? Shu felt his body tense. Maybe he shouldn't have given Eiri the ultimatum. He missed Eiri. He never wanted them to break up, but yet he caused it. Maybe he had been wrong and Eiri had been right. They were just like a married couple except they lacked a piece of paper. Just like Tatsuha and Ryu. Ryu and Tatsuha were not married, but they loved one another as if they were.

Shuichi began to cry openly as he decided on what to do.

Eiri shut the car engine off after parking, then took a deep breath hoping to steady his nerves. He griped his pants pocket, feeling the object inside. How was he going to pull this off when he was so nervous and scared?

The writer released a large sigh and got out of the vehicle. He made his way into the airport and waited on a bench for Shuichi's flight to come in, though it didn't take long. Twenty minutes later he saw the short singer walking towards him, carrying a large duffle bag.

"Eiri?" The singer sounded surprised. "What are you doing here?"

Eiri took another deep breath. "I came to pick you up." He ran a nervous hand through his hair. "If that's okay. If not I can get a taxi for you…"

Shuichi shook his head. "I don't mind." He bit his lip as tears stung his eyes. "I missed you." He dropped his bag and flew into Eiri's arms. "Oh God Eiri, I missed you. Please say you missed me too."

He let his arms tighten around the brat's waist. "Of course I missed you, punk."

"Eiri I'm so sorry. Please, lets get back together. The ultimatum is off the table. What does a piece of paper mean when your not around? Just being with you is enough. So please, please, say we can go back to the way we were."

"Stop babbling and lets go home."

Shuichi smiled. "Right. I love you." He kissed the writer hard. Eiri gave back with full force. It had been too long since they had touched.

Back at home, in the quiet of their apartment, Eiri smiled as he hung his last shirt back into the closet he had missed. Shuichi watched from his position on the bed. "Eiri, did you really miss me?"

"I already told you I did. There was no one around to do my laundry."

Laughing, Shuichi threw a pillow at his lover.

Some few months after Shuichi and Eiri had made up in Japan, Ryuichi watched Tatsuha make breakfast wearing only pajamas. "Hey, Tat…"

"Huh?"

"I really miss you when you're not around."

Tatsuha smiled. "Same here."

Ryu sat down at the table and watched his lover scramble eggs. It was amazing how fast Tatsuha had adapted to American culture. He was making traditional American breakfast foods quicker and better than Ryu ever could. He was already familiar with everyone in the apartment building. Plus he was learning English very well. He rarely needed Ryu in public to help him the way Ryu desperately needed Tatsuha in Japan. Ryu had forgotten so much over time, and the way he traveled constantly was never any help when it came to cultures. His whole life Ryu always felt more American than Japanese.

An idea that had been brewing since Shuichi left, had never left. Ryu twiddled his fingers then cleared his throat. "Hey Tat…"

"Ryu we're past greetings now. Unless you'd like to try goodbye now. I myself prefer hellos though."

Ryu wasn't in the mood for jokes. He cleared his throat again and in a much more serious tone said, "Tatsuha…I miss you when you're gone."

Tatsuha turned around to face the legendary singer with a straight face. Something in Ryuichi's eyes told him that there was something wrong. "Ryu?"

"All I ever do is think about how as soon as you get back we can do all these things together. Or when I go to Japan how we can sleep all day in your bed."

Tatsuha didn't interrupt. It seemed Ryuichi was speaking from the heart and he rarely saw this side of the singer. He wasn't about to mess it up now.

"And you know what Tat? I was realizing that, we don't have to wait for those days together. So I guess… what I'm asking here is… Will you move in permanently?"

Tatsuha's mouth opened in shock, gaping like a fish. "W-what?"

"I'm asking you to stay. Please… say you'll stay with me?"

Tatsuha felt his heart hammer inside his chest. Forgetting about the eggs completely as he scooped Ryuichi into arm he announced, "Yes. Oh yes, I'll stay here with you. Yes."

Mika slammed her car door as hard as she could. How dare Tohma not show up for his own divorce! What the hell was going on in his head? How embarrassed she was, to face the judge and ask to divorce an empty chair. Hell, she ought to be used to that actually, seeing how often she had dinner with an empty chair over the years, and slept with an empty spot in the bed. Perhaps she really was divorcing an empty chair.

She marched into her home, tossing the keys wherever they wanted to land as she kicked off her heels. Well, she thought, his not showing up went in my favor at least. The judge gave Mika everything, stating that Tohma's no show was, in his opinion, Tohma's way of saying he contested nothing.

Taking her hair down, Mika ran her fingers through her hair as she walked back to the bedroom.

"Mika…"

Scared, she jumped and turned around to see none other than Tohma standing in her hall. "What the hell Tohma? How did you get in here?"

"I have a key, remember? I did used to live here."

"I'm trying to forget." In a huff of annoyance she brushed past him, walking to the front door where she gladly opened it for him. "Goodnight."

"Mika wait… Just, shut the door. I'd like to talk."

"If you wanted to talk you should have come to the divorce. Thanks to your absence I own everything but NG. Oh but I do get half of the proceeds for alimony."

He winced at her tone. "Take it. You can have the whole company. Just talk to me. I need you to listen."

"I don't want to listen to you Tohma. I want you to get out."

"Take me back."

Her breath stopped. He looked sincere, but she wasn't buying it. "No. Get out."

Not caring about his pride, the blonde keyboardist dropped to his knees. "Is this what you want?"

"Tohma…" Her breath caught in her throat. Why was he doing this to her?

"No listen. Please. I couldn't live without you then…and I sure as hell can't live without you now."

She shut the door softly, leaning her back against it. "It doesn't matter now, Tohma. Were already divorced." Her voice shook, loosing firmness.

"So?" He begged. "Marry me again. Let me be the husband I started out as."

She laughed, though she was beginning to cry. "You were a crappy husband Tohma. I felt like I was married to an empty chair all of the time. You were never home."

He smiled. "Then divorce the chair and let me be the boyfriend I started out as. Please, let me start over. We were so happy in the beginning."

She shook her head.

Tohma felt his eyes sting. "Don't do this. Please God, Mika, don't do this."

"I already have. Tohma you…." She was beginning to choke on her tears. "You have to get out."

"Mika.." He stood on his weak legs. "Don't. Please. I am begging you."

"I know you are. I know. I love you but I can't do this anymore. We've already been through this once."

He stepped towards her, taking her face into his hands. "I never slept with anyone else after you forgave me. Never."

"That just makes it all my fault then doesn't it? I shouldn't have taken you back. I can't trust you."

"I don't care."

"I do." She pushed him off. " I don't want to be married to a man who I can't trust."

Frustrated, hanging onto his last thread of hope, he threw his hands up, "Then don't marry me! Just love me. Just love me, that's all I want, Mika."

Her eyes, drenched in tears gazed up into Tohma's green eyes. "I already do."

Without hesitation he grabbed her in his arms and brought her mouth to his, kissing her hard as he could. He didn't have anything but himself to offer her now.

Eiri shut off his phone and leaned backwards in his seat. The two were on a plane heading towards Europe on a moments notice. Shuichi was next to him struggling to open a pack of peanuts. "Who was that, Eiri?"

"Tohma."

"Oh, what did he want?"

"For me to be the best man in his wedding."

Shu's eyes bugged. "What? He just got divorced from Mika! How could he ask you something like that? Who is she? Is she the woman from his office? That new singer? I knew she was bad news."

"Shuichi… Calm down. He's marrying Mika."

"Mika?" He blinked. "But they divorced."

'So he's remarrying her. Whatever. None of our business."

"I suppose."

"How long do plan to keep working on that?" He was referring to the bag of peanuts Shu had been working on for nearly an hour.

"As soon as I get it open! I'm starving."

"We'll be landing soon. You can eat then." He said, although Eiri knew Shuichi wouldn't give up. It was what Eiri had counted on all morning but now Eiri's nerves were getting the better of him and he just wanted the damn singer to open the fucking bag already.

"But I'm hungry now."

"Fine." He sighed, all patience out the window. "Let me help." Eiri snatched the packet from Shu's fingers and easily opened it, dumping the peanuts into the brat's awaiting hand.

"Wow, thanks Eiri. You really…you…."

Eiri watched as a stunned Shuichi stared down at his open palm. In the pile of small peanuts was a ring. A silver band. "Eiri….?"

"Will you marry me, Shuichi?"

The singer was speechless. Eiri was proposing? With a packet of peanuts? "I…"

"Just say yes."

Shuichi thought back on Eiri's sudden burst of "Lets go to Europe!" a few days ago. Had this been the plan all along? "Eiri, you don't believe in marriage."

"Maybe not. But I want you to be happy. If this is what it takes to make you happy, then I want to do it."

"You said it's just a piece of paper…"

"I know." Eiri picked up the ring and slipped it onto Shu's right hand. "It is just a piece of paper. So how can it hurt?"

"Eiri…"

The writer smiled, asking again and erasing all of Shuichi's doubts, "Will you marry me?"

Shu smiled in return saying, "Just kiss me already."

Fin