Disclaimer: I do not own Gravitation nor do I make any money from using the characters.
Rating: Oh Gosh, let’s call it NC-17 from the start. Why mess around about it?
Notes: Hello again! This is a continuation in the Epic of Life series. Illusions of Life, Realties of Life, Something In-Between and now, Come What May. Although I am trying to write it so reading the other three installments is not necessary. I don’t know if I am successful or not.
This story was supposed to be all about healing and redemption and blah-blah-blah. And then I stated writing it. I swear, I must have angst-colored blood.
As usual, this story could not be complete without Kri and Ashcat, those two really kept me going and they have the unhappy task of wading through the unedited raw stuff that I write. They also suffered through my temper tantrums, (especially Ashcat.) Also this time I must thank JadeHeart who gave me a patient pat on the head and sent me on my way (along with a ton of angsty ideas,) and ffpanda, who gave me sage fan-fiction advice and the gentle kick in the ass I sorely needed.
I’m not going to lie, the beginning of this story was difficult for me. But now… I’m at chapter 4 and I am feeling it, I am out to mess with your pretty little heads!
So. Here. We. Go. Again.
As always, if you have time, please review. I love them, I live for them! Honestly.
Come What May
I have a tendency to wear my mind on my sleeve
I have a history of taking off my shirt
It's been one week since you looked at me
Threw your arms in the air and said “You're crazy!”
Five days since you tackled me
I've still got the rug burns on both my knees
It's been three days since the afternoon
You realized it's not my fault not a moment too soon
Yesterday you'd forgiven me
And now I sit back and wait till you say you're sorry
I opened my eyes and blinked several times, allowing myself the luxury of waking up slowly. It was extremely rare that I was the first to wake. Shuichi maintained the uncanny ability to be fully awake the moment his eyes popped open. Apparently the brat only had two settings – on and off. Even after all he had been through there was still no ‘moderate’ setting, and ‘on’ was still annoyingly full of energy and noise. It may be tamer than it once was, but it was still an incredible amount of noise.
Rolling to my side, I gazed at my sleeping, fallen angel. Shuichi’s hair had once again been changed, this time it was dyed black, with rich magenta tips. And it appeared as if he was allowing the wild mess to regain some length. It had only been a few months since the he had shorn off the locks in a crazy night of drugs and wildness, but I had noticed years ago that Shuichi’s hair grew at an alarmingly fast rate. Already the dark strands brushed at my lover’s collar.
Secretly, I wanted Shuichi to let his hair grow, hopefully to the length it had been. His nearly waist-long hair had been completely enticing to me and I found I had mourned its loss when he had cut it off. At the moment, I even kept the tight braid I had found in his apartment after his abrupt departure to England. The hair was currently in a plastic air-tight bag and stashed securely in a drawer in my office. I would probably need to do something more permanent with the hair soon, but what? I knew it was childish of me, hiding the braid like some sort of special treasure, but gods only knew what his reaction might be if I was found out.
I stared at my lover, my steady gaze taking in his delicate, slight frame. He was still recovering from the severe illness he suffered in England. Shuichi was sleeping on his left side but his right arm was under his pillow, putting him in the unusual position of being half on his side, half on his stomach. I was able to get a good view of not only his right side, but his back as well. The cat was curled into a tight ball and rested between Shuichi’s knees, watching me with a lazy curiosity.
Reaching over, I slid the blankets down his bare shoulders, scrutinizing my lover’s back closely. There I found the scar that the crazy fan with the knife had given to Shuichi. I traced the scar lightly, taking precautions to not wake my love. To me, the mark from the knife held a strange but deep meaning. The scar was a link between the old relationship the two of us had shared to the new, more adversarial relationship we were struggling to maintain. The night I changed the bandage for this wound was the same night I realized Shuichi still loved me.
Of course, he had knocked me unconscious right after that discovery, but still, revelations are revelations.
My eyes slid further down his body and stopped at a particularly wicked scar. A nasty patch of road rash discolored the skin just above Shuichi’s right hip. My fingers danced lightly over the angry marks that were a ragged red after nearly a full year of healing. I was certain this wound had been excruciatingly painful. Shuichi told me he had obtained this injury when he dumped his first motorcycle.
A motorcycle! What could he have possibly have been thinking? From what I had witnessed in the past, the idiot could barely keep a bicycle upright.
Shifting the cat to my right, he gave a sleepy “mrrr” and curled up against me, seeking to leech the warmth from my body. I had never understood the fear the little ball of fluff could create in the various visitors to our homes, the cat was sweet enough to me.
I continued my visual tour of my lover’s body. Pulling the blankets off of Shuichi completely, I had to catch my breath at the sight of the naked beauty lying so peaceful before me. I had to force my eyes down to focus on another ragged scar at the back his left thigh. The injury had been caused by the accident with his second motorcycle. Shuichi had been smart enough to be wearing leather when he wrecked the second bike. However, leather can be weak protection against sharp pieces of metal and in this case, the metal had been part of a guardrail he had crashed into. It turns out the same railing that scarred had also saved the idiot from going over the side of a cliff. I gently caressed the scar with my index finger as I considered the positives to the ugly mark; Shuichi still lived because of it.
I turned my attention to the scar on the side of Shuichi’s left calf. His wreck in the BMW had been the contributing factor in that mark. The car had been going very slow when he crashed, but the bottle of whiskey in his hand had shattered, cutting his leg deeply and requiring several stitches. Shuichi had been lucky that night – the car had been totaled; and yet he had walked away. I considered this scar to be a testament to his idiocy.
My gaze shifted to Shuichi’s left arm, splayed out behind him. There was evidence of a deep jagged wound, about 5 inches long on the back of his bicep. This injury along with the one on his forehead had been the most serious. Those two wounds had been caused when the idiot had driven Sakuma Ryuichi’s Mercedes off the road and into a ditch. Both gashes and his broken nose had been tended to by the finest trauma and plastic surgeon in all of Tokyo. The treatment had been so good I hadn’t even realized the injury on Shuichi’s forehead existed until he had pointed it out to me. The scar on his arm wasn’t quite as well hidden, but it too, was almost invisible unless you knew where to look.
Shuichi’s scars were a constant source of contention for him. K, Tohma and Sakano insisted the scars not be visible. When he was on stage or at a photo shoot, the marks were either covered with clothing or make-up. But when it was up to Shuichi, he almost flaunted the scars, displaying them proudly as if they were wounds obtained in some honorable battle
Giving a soft sigh, Shuichi rolled over onto his back. I had to catch my breath again while I viewed my lover. This side of the brat had come away almost completely unscathed. At least visibly. Underneath, I was certain Shuichi’s heart was crisscrossed with scars, most of them inflicted by me. Reaching over, I touched the skin over his heart.
“Eiri, that tickles,” his violet eyes fluttered open, and Shuichi smiled at me. Not the carefree smile of old but also not the creepy, fake smile. Grabbing my hand and pressing it tight against his chest he asked, “What are you doing, going over your regrets?”
“Something like that,” I grumbled, irritated by his ability to see through me so easily.
“I’m hungry,” he complained.
“You’re always hungry,” was my patented response.
Shuichi stretched his naked body, “But not always for food.”
He was teasing me. “Well, it’s my turn to cook, what do you want?” I said gazing at my lover as I briefly considered other options.
“The usual,” Shuichi mumbled as his eyes slid shut again. “I’m still sleepy.”
“You’re still recovering, dumb ass. It’s only been a little over two weeks since you left the hospital, so of course you’re still tired.” I ran my hand through his hair and said, “Sleep. I’ll call you when breakfast is ready.”
“Thanks, Eiri,” he mumbled as he drifted back to sleep. “I love you…”
As I made my way to Shuichi’s kitchen, I was annoyed to realize I was almost smiling. These days Shuichi held his declarations of love tightly and gave them out sparingly. He still managed to spit out those ‘three little words’ easier than I could, yet it was usually only when his guard was down as it had been a few minutes ago.
Shuichi was getting better physically, even if he was still weak and tired out easily. Currently, I had my hands full trying to keep the idiot from wearing himself out again, so I was happy that each day he seemed a bit stronger. On the other hand, at least I was getting some writing done. Surprisingly, Shuichi would spend the majority of his day in his own apartment writing new songs, working on his keyboard and his computer. He would shout and make a fuss if I interrupted him while he was working, even if I was only reminding the dumb ass to take his medication or to eat.
It was somewhat reminiscent of our earlier days, when I was the one shouting at Shuichi to leave me be. Our relationship was so odd these days, it seemed as if we had almost completely switched roles. Well, saying we had switched roles wasn’t correct. Maybe we simply shared the same role, grumpy and guarded with an acid tongue.
It also felt strange that we were not actually living together. We still slept together at night, usually at his apartment because of the cat and during the day I was just steps away, but I still found something lacking in the arrangement. I knew Shuichi wasn’t ready for the commitment of a live-in relationship. His feelings on the matter were understandable, yet they served to make me… a little bit insecure.
It appeared that I was paying a karmic debt that had come due.
Shuichi had always been the one to chase after me, the one to keep us going when our relationship faced difficulties. How would we keep going if he decided to run off again? I was so limited in my abilities, what would I be able to do? I shook my head dismissively. I would do what I always did. Sooner or later, I always went to collect the brat. Shuichi himself had made that observation and, after the initial internal shout of denial subsided, I had to face the fact that it was true. Perhaps, I was stronger than I gave myself credit for.
But that newfound strength did not lessen the guilt of what I had done to that sunny, happy boy. I had hurt Shuichi so badly that I had changed him, nearly completely destroying what he had once been. I was also painfully aware that it wouldn’t take much to tear apart the fragile, tentative peace we currently enjoyed. In order to hold us together, I would need to become a better person, but I needed help. Hopefully that help would start in a couple of days, when the two of us attended our first therapy session.
Once we had returned to Japan and settled, I had attempted to have a discussion with Shuichi about the scheduled therapy sessions. For some odd reason, he had misinterpreted the discussion to be some sort of mandate from me. Our ‘discussion’ escalated rapidly into an ugly, ferocious fight ending only after half the dishes in Shuichi’s house had been thrown at me in fury, leaving a pile of broken stoneware at my feet. He had finally agreed to go, but only after I assured him I would be attending the therapy sessions with him.
Gingerly, I touched the small gash on my temple. I had been lucky, he had only managed to connect with me once.
I sighed as I started the coffee maker. There was no doubt – Shuichi had a lot of anger.
So, it was back to therapy for me. I hated therapists – but I also had to admit that from time to time they had actually had been of some use. Maybe they could do the same for my lover.
What would happen if the therapist told Shuichi to leave me? To be completely truthful, I would be amazed by almost any other outcome. Our relationship was so volatile and hurtful, I was sure that any therapist, good or bad, would see that problem immediately. I hated acknowledging it, but I was scared, terrified even, of what might happen when we sat down with an unbiased third party.
An even worse thought was what would happen if it came down to me holding our relationship together? Could I be successful at that? Or would I simply throw up my hands at the wrong time, essentially granting Shuichi permission to run off? That was possible, too. I was very limited when it came to comfort and saying the right things at the right time.
“Eiri, did you hear me?”
Turning my head to see my spiky-haired lover, I said, “What?”
He held the cat in his arms and petted the purring animal lovingly. Shuichi repeated, “Remember that we are going out to dinner with Mirai tonight.”
I found I momentarily resented the cat for receiving more affection from Shuichi than I did. “Mirai?”
“Yes, Eiri. Mirai. We’ve had this set up for a week now,” Shuichi said impatiently. He glared at me and raised his hand, “She’s a chef, about this tall, brown hair, brown eyes.” His voice dropped lower and he almost hissed, “Remember her? You slept with her at one time.”
I snorted and glared in return, “Well, I guess it’s a good thing that she’s in love with you, then.”
“Like that matters to me,” Shuichi snapped back. “Do you think I’m going to beg you to go with me? Stay at home if you want, I really don’t care.”
I didn’t want to go out to dinner, but I also didn’t want them to be alone together. Shuichi didn’t sleep with women so I knew, for his part, that Mirai had never been anything but a friend. But that did not change the fact that she was in love with him. I felt the swellings of ridiculous, burning jealousy in my heart once again. I met Shuichi’s glare and saw his eyes were dark with anger and all at once I understood. His eyes were a reflection of my own – we were both jealous.
Leaning against the cupboards, I lit a cigarette and nodded. ‘What time?”
He exhaled some of his anger, “Eight. It’s formal. When’s breakfast?”
“I thought you would be sleeping a bit more.” I answered, “But I’ll start it now.”
“I’ll be going to the Dojo later today, after breakfast,” Shuichi said as he idly watched the brewing coffee.
“Are you sure you feel up to that?” I asked after taking a drag.
“I need it, Eiri.” He stared at me with a challenge, “I need to bleed off some…”
I nodded again. He needed to expel some anger and the physical exercise would help him, we were both acutely aware of that. Housebound for over a week now, no wonder he was so easily angered. I looked outside.
“It’s raining. I’ll take you.”
“No, Eiri,” he snapped. “I’m quite capable of walking. I need to walk it. I’m not an egg, stop treating me so…”
“Nice?” I finished for him.
“Okay,” I answered as I took another drag.
“Okay?” He eyed me suspiciously.
I’d had enough of this crap. “Yes, okay! Fucking drown in the rain for all I care, you fucking ungrateful brat!”
“That’s better,” he sighed as he slid onto one of the kitchen barstools. “It’s creepy when you treat me so nice. It makes me suspicious.” He nodded towards the coffee pot. “Coffee’s ready.”
My stomach hurt, apparently I needed some of my own ulcer medication.
Two hours and several bickering moments later I had settled in my own apartment to write as I wondered if the day could get any worse. I had been stuck on that stupid love triangle story again, up until the night before when I had received an idea from Shuichi of all people. So now I was hoping I could pound the story into something I wouldn’t be embarrassed by.
Shuichi had approached the story simply by saying, “This story has been making you crazy since we were in London. If you can’t make up your mind what to do, just kill the main character like you always do. Then it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
I had wanted a happy ending. After all, my relationship with Shuichi was the basis of the book. But our story had veered sharply away from the story on my computer so maybe the angst angle would be the route to go. Wait, was I seriously considering taking writing advice from Shuichi? Maybe I was going insane. But then again, there was something to be said for simplicity.
I was typing at a furious pace, my muse suddenly fully awake and battering at me when I was startled by a ringing phone. I could tell that it was Shuichi’s phone, but what was it doing in my office? I looked at the floor where the sound emanated from and noticed one of Shuichi’s shirts and a pair of his jeans crumpled in a pile along with one of my shirts. I smiled as I remembered how his phone had ended up in my office.
But the cursed thing was blasting out a hideous ring tone version of “Sleepless Beauty” at an alarming volume. Before I even considered what I was doing, in order to silence it, I answered it.
“Uh, Yuki-san? Where’s Shu?”
It was Inoue – it appeared my day could get worse.
“Out.” I answered.
“Smooth as ever, eh Yuki-san?” His taunting voice came through the phone loud and clear. I could hear Nakano in the background.
After a few moments of silence Inoue said, “How is he?”
“Hmm, I see that you are a wealth of information today. I guess I’ll call back later and speak with Shu.”
I weighed my options. If I didn’t answer the smug bastard now, that would mean he would call back and Shuichi would actually speak with him. And the brat would flirt with him like crazy on the phone simply because he knew it would get under my skin.
Reaching for my cigarettes I said, “He’s eating well – almost everything in sight. He’s at the Dojo right now.”
“Really? Well that’s good. He’s always easier to deal with after he’s tired himself out.”
“What are you implying?” I snarled.
He chuckled, his mirth at my jealousy was crystal clear. “Anyway – I wanted to wish him luck with the therapist – but maybe it’s you who I should wish luck.”
“Huh,” I answered.
“I mean it, Yuki-san. I think it will be good for both of you.”
“Well, that’s just what I was living for, a pep talk from you.”
“Did you just make a joke, Yuki-san? Why, I believe irresistible me is growing on you.”
I hung up and threw the phone back onto the pile of clothes as I muttered, “Bastard.”
Turning back to the screen, I realized the muse had fled. Fucking Inoue.
Deciding I needed a few minutes to clear my head and hopefully lure the muse back, I took a walk to the store. While I was there, I picked up several household staples. Beer and cigarettes for me, an armload of Pocky and sesame rice crackers for Shuichi. The brat needed to put on a few more pounds.
I also picked up ingredients for sukiyaki. It was true that we would be going out to dinner later that night, but I could make the sukiyaki the next night. I wondered if Shuichi would be pleased with the meal, it had been his favorite it the old days. With some sadness, I realized he wouldn’t squeal and throw his arms around me when he found out what I was making, not like the Shuichi of old would. However, there was a possibility the new, more aggressive Shuichi might seduce me outright for cooking his favorite dish. And how could that be bad?
Returning home, I put the items away, opened a beer and wandered back to my office. Sitting down in front of the computer I lit a cigarette and considered my muse. I could feel it lurking, but it had not made up its mind if it would show itself.
Shifting in my chair I leaned forward to place my hands on the keyboard when the phone rang. It was my phone this time. Picking it up, I saw Mizuki’s name. Well, great. I took a deep drag from my cigarette as I decided I might as well get this conversation over with. I had been avoiding her even before I had gone to London.
“Yuki-san, I’m surprised you answered. Are you and Shindou-san home, now?”
Over the years, Mizuki had figured out how to ask me questions indirectly. Her question about being home was really her way of asking if Shuichi and I were together again. “Yes.”
“That’s good,” I could tell she was smiling. She really liked Shuichi. “I’m glad for you. Are you both doing well?”
I took another drag. “I’m working.”
She laughed, “Yuki-san, have you forgotten? We have a couple of completed books by you waiting for publication. Your time in New York was exceedingly prolific. There are no pressing deadlines for you as of yet.”
“Then,” exhaling and sensing a trap I continued, “what do you want?”
“To invite you and Shindou-san to Madoka-chan’s Okuizome celebration a week from next Sunday. I’m about to put the invitations in the mail for both of you.” 
Ugh, the baby. I had forgotten about the creature. And I had been shamefully neglectful of Mizuki’s baby’s birth. I owed her this and she knew it. Yet the thought of being surrounded by my editor’s family and friends as we watched food being forced into her baby’s mouth for the first time sounded about as exciting as watching a plant grow.
“Um,” I stuttered, reaching for an excuse.
“So 7:00?” I could hear that smile in her voice again.
“Um, Mizuki,” I struggled.
“Or; instead of the attending the Okuizome,” she said smoothly, “would you prefer a private evening with me and the baby?”
The trap snapped shut, she had me right where she wanted me. I sighed, “What day?”
“How about this Friday?”
“Still 7:00. Will that be okay with both of you?”
“I’ll check with the brat, but unless you hear otherwise, we’ll be there.” I hung up and leaned back in the chair, deciding the day had totally sucked.
I heard the front door open, “Hey, I’m home!”
Home. Well, maybe my day wasn’t a complete waste of time. I had a hint of a smile as I gave the traditional ‘welcome home’ answer. Standing up, I stretched just as Shuichi entered the room.
“What are you doing Friday?” I asked.
“Why?” he asked suspiciously.
“Mizuki invited us over for dinner,” I answered.
He grinned, “To see the baby?”
“Unfortunately,” I grumbled.
“Really, Eiri?” He was still grinning.
“Yes. She blackmailed me into it,” I sighed. “You don’t have to go.”
“Are you kidding? You know I want to see the baby!” He stared at me, “And you do, too. You just don’t want anyone to know that you like babies.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go so far to say I like them,” I answered.
He smiled again, “Are you done for the day?”
“Yeah, I’m done. Your friend called, by the way.”
“You have my phone? I’ve been looking all over for it.”
I pointed at the pile of clothes and he walked the few steps to retrieve his phone.
Suddenly, he turned and looked at me with surprise, “Wait a minute, you actually talked to Kyo?”
“I said a friend called. I didn’t say it was Inoue.”
He chuckled, “You don’t have to say his name, the tone in your voice said it.”
“Huh,” I grumbled as I rubbed my stomach.
Watching me, Shuichi asked, “Did you take your medicine today?”
Shaking my head I said, “Not yet. I forgot.”
He crossed the room and stopped in front of me, his eyes delved into mine before he gently encircled my neck with his arms and rested his head against my chest, “I’m sorry, Eiri.”
“For what?” I answered as I slid my hands under his shirt so that I could feel his skin beneath my fingers.
“For…” I felt him shrug, “Kyo.”
Was he sorry about the phone call or the time he and Inoue did that other thing? He pulled me closer and hugged me harder before saying, “I’m so sorry, Eiri.”
This was as close to a sober conversation about the incident with Inoue we had ever had and I wasn’t sure I was ready for more. I had vague memories of talking about it in London – but I had been drugged at the time so I wasn’t sure I remembered it correctly. I swallowed back the sudden surge of emotions threatening to break loose. Instead of treading onto the dangerous ground of words, I tightened my hold on him and nuzzled at his hair. It was comforting to know Shuichi held some regrets about that horrible day. I know I certainly did.
We stood that way, holding each other, soothing one another’s wounds for several minutes, wisely allowing our bodies to do the talking instead of our voices.
Finally, he pulled back far enough so that he could smile at me, but his eyes were still full of sorrow. Softly he said, “We should get ready now, Eiri.”
I nodded in agreement and then said, “Want to take a shower?”
The sorrow disappeared with his laughter, similar to snow melting in the sun. My boy was still in there, but now he only existed in parts, much like myself.
“I know us, if we take a shower together, we will be late,” he smiled at me.
“You say that as if it’s a bad thing,” I stared at him.
Grabbing my hand and dragging me towards the shower, he said, “Well, we’d better hurry, then!”
We were late, but only by about 15 minutes. Not bad, I thought.
The restaurant was a posh Italian place with a reputation of being difficult to get in to. However, Mirai had considerable pull in the restaurant business and she had managed to get us very quick reservations once we had returned to Japan.
She was already waiting for us at our table. She looked stunning as she rose from her chair to greet us. “Hey, you two. You should wear a suit more often, Shu, you look hot! You both look hot!”
Shuichi hugged her, “What about you? You are smokin’ hot!” Releasing her from the hug he studied her face, “Mirai, are you in love?”
She blushed as she nodded her head. “I should have known you would see right through me.”
“That’s great!” He grinned at her. “You’ll have to tell us all about him.”
I attempted to listen to their girlish chatter about Mirai’s new boyfriend while I sipped at a scotch. Shuichi was practically glowing with happiness for his friend and I found I was feeling somewhat paradoxical about their conversation. On the one hand, I was happy - and relieved - Mirai had found someone other than Shuichi to love. On the other hand, their conversation with each other was so easy and natural, I felt the stirrings of a new and different type of jealousy.
Swirling the scotch in my glass, I idly wondered if Shuichi and I would ever be able to obtain a similar level of discourse. We never had an easygoing relationship, even after we got through those rough first six months or so. I guess maybe it had been the entire first year. No, now that I thought about it, the whole time we had been together had been fraught with problems. Suspicion had always lurked in Shuichi’s heart and fear in my own.
Not to mention that I had never been the world’s most communicative person. In the past, I had always relied on Shuichi to start any conversation and my role had been to simply react to him. But now, he wasn’t very talkative either and we could go a whole night without exchanging any words. And it wasn’t the comfortable silence two people obtain after being together for years – our silence was awkward and stilted, born from an inability to interact normally with others.
Maybe we should have sought counseling earlier in our relationship. If we had, it was possible that we could have avoided a lot of pain. But then again, at the time I would have never agreed. It took almost destroying Shuichi for me to understand the extent of my limitations.
“Eiri, don’t you think that would be fun?” Shuichi turned towards me.
“What?” I answered.
His violet eyes studied me with disappointment, “A double date.”
“A… what?” I shook my head. “What are you talking about?”
“Haven’t you listened to a word we’ve been saying?” His smile disappeared and his voice rose in irritation.
“Shuichi, honey, settle down,” Mirai looked nervously over her shoulder at the neighboring diners.
Lowering his voice but continuing his tirade he hissed, “Honestly, Eiri, why did you even come if you were going to be like this?”
“Be like what?” I answered, my own anger beginning to respond to his.
Mirai grabbed Shuichi’s arm and said quietly but sternly, “Shuichi, behave yourself. If you get us thrown out of here, I won’t forgive you!”
Shuichi’s eyes fell to his lap, like a chastised dog, “Sorry, Mirai.”
“And you,” she turned her brown eyes on me, “at least try to pretend that there are other people in the room!”
I took a drink of my scotch as I glared at her.
Sighing she said, “Are you two always bickering like this?”
“Yes,” Shuichi said.
At the same time I said, “No.”
Our heads turned toward each other and our eyes locked. After a moment I said, “Yes.”
At the same time he said, “No.”
She relaxed and chuckled, “It must be difficult dealing with all that anger.”
We were still locked in our glaring contest. “We manage,” I answered.
“We get though it,” Shuichi said at the same time. And then he smiled as I felt his hand slide onto my knee under the table.
“I can see that,” she smiled in return.
It suddenly occurred to me that being adversarial had always been a part of our relationship. Maybe even an important part. Perhaps we simply needed to accept the fact there would always be such difficulties for us. I would be okay with constant bickering and fighting, as long as it meant we would be together.
I let my hand close over Shuichi’s and I squeezed, hoping he felt the same way.
“So, Mirai,” I said trying to change the subject and lighten the mood. “What do you recommend?”
We actually had a very good time for the rest of the evening. We were able to try several different dishes and I did not find anything lacking in the conversation. At the end of the evening, we even made plans for the dreaded “double date” with Mirai and her new boyfriend for the following week. It may not have been something I wanted to do, but I still wasn’t comfortable with letting Shuichi go on a date with someone that had been in love with him.
Shuichi was so exhausted from his busy day that he was asleep by the time I got the car out of the parking lot of the restaurant. And once we got home, I had to practically carry him inside.
Laying him on my bed, I undressed him with a slow reverence as he made soft, appreciative noises in response to my caresses. Due to his workout at the Dojo, and our workout later on at home, he was completely worn out. I would never admit it openly, but I had to agree with Inoue, Shuichi was much easier to manage after he tired himself out physically. He also had a tendency to show his vulnerable side to me when he was exhausted. So much, in fact, I was hesitant to leave him, secretly hoping to hear more of his sweet words. I continued to gaze at his peaceful features, memorizing the untroubled look that he wore only while he slept. Finally, I kissed him gently before reluctantly standing to leave.
“Where are you going?” He asked sleepily as he reached for me.
“Do you have to?”
“Did you have something else in mind?” I asked as I brushed my hand through his hair.
“I just want you to hold me for a while.” His eyes opened and blinked a few times as he woke up sufficiently to rein in his vulnerability, “But it’s okay, you don’t need to. I know you need to work.”
Remembering Mizuki’s words about my lack of looming deadlines, I peeled off my clothes and slid into bed beside him. His eyes were wide open now and but still surprisingly full of tenderness, “Eiri...”
“Shh,” I said as I kissed his forehead again and pulled him close to me.
His body relaxed into mine, “Yeah, you’re right. We always screw things up when we talk.”
“Yes. Now go to sleep.”
“Hmm,” he mumbled.
I kissed him again, feeling my own eyelids grow heavy. I didn’t think I was tired.
“You’ve been worrying a lot lately, that’s why you’re so tired.”
Had I spoken out loud? It was a bad habit both of us suffered from, speaking out loud when we didn’t mean too.
“You need to take better care of yourself, Eiri,” he said groggily. “I don’t think you see it, but London was hard on you, too.”
There was the shade of my boy again, shyly peaking out as he spoke aloud his worry for me. I nuzzled his hair, “Go to sleep, dumb ass.”
“Ne, Eiri. I love you, too,” was his answer before sleep took him completely.
Well, I supposed calling him ‘dumb ass’ was a term of endearment from me. Just before I followed him into sleep, I realized I was glad Shuichi could occasionally translate my few words into their true meaning. That small seed of knowledge made me certain we would find a way to make our relationship work.
Come what may.
Lyrics for One Week by Bare Naked Ladies
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