Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on Maki Murakami’s exquisite story “Gravitation.” I take no profit other than enjoyment.
A/N: This is an AH...Alternate History, rather than a true AU. It branches from the anime canon to explore one answer to the question: What if Shu didn’t opt to go to Hiro at the end of Track Six?
It’s not in any way related to my “Yushu” future history for the boys.
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Nowhere To Go
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“Yuki Eiri-san?” The disgustingly cheerful tone of the uniformed beat cop standing in his doorway had absolutely no excuse for existence this early in the morning.
Eiri grunted and scratched his head absently, seeking focusing eyeballs and functional vocal chords.
“I believe I have something that belongs to you.”
“I doubt that.” Ah. Sound. One out of two wasn’t bad. Of one thing, he was quite certain: if he’d been robbed last night, he’d’ve remembered it. He hadn’t been that drunk.
The cop’s grin widened. Damn, he looked familiar. Oh, yeah, he was the one from the park, the one who’d delivered ... him. Twice.
The cop reached behind him and pulled a pink-haired mop-top up beside him.
Make that ... three times.
“Fuck.” Eiri muttered. “Thought I got rid of you.”
Curiously, there was no loud, whining response from the ejected freeloader, just a wince of the narrow shoulders. But then, considering the circumstances under which they’d parted, Eiri wasn’t particularly surprised.
“I found him sleeping in the park again.” The cop’s big grin, however, vanished into a puzzled frown. “Funny. Always thought he was a sun-worshiper, not a star-gazer.”
“The park?” Eiri stifled his horror, finding relief in a taunt. “Shit, baka, thought you’d at least make it as far as that Hiro guy’s—”
A choking sound rose from the bent head, followed by a muttered, “Excuse . . . please . . . sor—”
And the walking mop raced past him (much too quickly for his morning reflexes to stop), making a bee-line for the bathroom, leaving a cloud of . . . stench . . . behind him.
Oh, joy. A stinking, ejected freeloader.
The unmistakable sounds of projectile vomiting echoed through the apartment.
A hungover, stinking, ejected freeloader.
“Damn.” The cop was staring down the hall after Shindou. “I didn’t know he was sick. He was awfully quiet, especially for him. Thought he was just still half-asleep. . . .”
Buddha protect him from helpful public servants.
“Look,” Yuki rubbed the bridge of his nose then scraped his hair back. There was nothing for it, but: “Thanks for . . . uh . . . bringing him . . . home. Okay? I’d better go . . .” He waved a hand vaguely toward the hall. “. . . take care of him..” He scratched his head again, willing the pounding away. “Or something.”
“Yeah.” But the cop still had that worried look on his face as he turned from the door and headed for his car.
That kid had the damnedest ability to inspire the paternal instincts of people who gave a shit.
Fortunately, Yuki Eiri was not one of those people.
The disgusting sounds had stopped. The john had flushed twice, and the sound of running water was promising. Maybe the idiot would actually clean up after himself for once.
“Don’t you dare come out of there without taking a shower, you annoying baka. You stink to high heaven. Throw your clothes out and I’ll toss them in the machine.” Which meant, dammit, he’d have to wait until they were dry before tossing Shindou out the door—again. “What the hell were you thinking, letting him bring you here?”
Oh, good, he was throwing up again.
“Laid it on proper last night, didn’t you?” He grunted, beating down that damned paternal reaction he refused to have, and leaned his shoulders against the doorjamb, awaiting the idiot’s laundry. “Didn’t know you had it in you. Getting tossed out upset you that much, did it? Trust me, you’ll thank me—”
The door opened, and the clothing in question appeared at floor level. A small, wet hand pushed it clear, then jerked back inside, and the door shut again. The clothing was soaking, as if he’d already rinsed it out.
“Glug. Why’d you do that?” He picked the water-heavy fabric up gingerly, avoiding contact as much as he could and hurried it down the hall to the small laundry nook. From the stains, the idiot must’ve been rolling in the gutter last night. Such a charming mental picture. And now the mud and grease were clogging his bathroom sink.
He measured out the soap, shut the lid, then leaned both hands on the machine, closing his eyes against the pain of unwanted morning. Dammit, his feelings toward that filthy, vomiting lump weren’t paternal. They were anything but. Problem was, feelings didn’t change reality. They’d been living a fantasy, he and Shuuichi, and gotten away with it for an entire month. But reality was about to come crashing in and Shindou Shuuichi did not want to be in the fall out zone.
Yuki Eiri, popular and well-established romance writer, could survive a scandal of this nature, but Shindou Shuuichi, lead singer in a band whose first single had barely hit the stands, could not. He and Shuuichi had to split up and let Seguchi Touma’s devious genius and NG-Pro’s publicity department silence the gossips.
For Shuuichi’s sake.
Somehow, he had to get that simple fact through the thick pink head, and one thing was certain: a rational explanation wouldn’t cut it.
That’s why he’d declared his hatred and thrown Shuuichi out....
Eiri pushed himself away from the machine and closed the door on the noise.
...That was his story and he was sticking to it.
He headed back for the kitchen and his patented morning-after cocktail of V8 laced with salt and sugar. It was utterly disgusting, but did wonders for electrolyte balance. Two, one for him, one for the bathroom freeloader.
By the time he had it ready, Shuuichi had finished his shower. He rapped on the bathroom door, his ‘ignore me at your peril’ knock, and the door cracked open.
“Here.” He shoved the glass through and felt cold fingers take it, enough cold fingers to account for both hands.
“Thanks.” It was a breathy whisper, and just that one word, no more, before the door clicked shut again between them.
Eiri shrugged, and headed for the kitchen, his coffee machine, and a long overdue cigarette. He contemplated putting together a real breakfast, then decided he’d best wait and find out what emerged from the bathroom, opting for coffee and a cigarette out on his balcony.
It was, he admitted reluctantly, a beautiful morning. Birds singing cheerily, the wind rustling the leaves in the park below... The heavy late night downpour had cleared the air. The front had brought in cool air along with the rain, and every surface sparkled.
Last night, it had been downright cold.
What in hell had induced the idiot to spend the night in the park? Eiri had assumed he’d go home to his parents’ house, or, more likely, to Nakano’s. Of course, maybe he had. Maybe Nakano Hiroshi was lying out there somewhere, equally plastered.
He supposed he’d be forced to call Touma, put him onto the possible demise of his new band, but, hey, those were the breaks.
He caught a hint of movement within, Shuuichi surfacing at last, and waited to be accosted, here on balcony, steeling himself for the wailing, for the teary attempts to reinstate the brat into this apartment.
Wasn’t happening. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never again.
He finished the cigarette, lighting a second with the stub.
Still no Shuuichi. That was...strange.
He slid the door open a couple of inches, listening.
All he heard was the disgustingly cheerful birdsong. Inside, it was silent as the proverbial grave.
“Shuuichi?” That would get the brat’s attention. He never, never called the kid by his name. Gave him ideas, that did.
A sudden uneasiness gripped him. Something wasn’t right. Shuuichi would never—
Shuuichi wouldn’t, but a Shuuichi impersonator? Dammit, he’d never seen the moptop’s face. What if someone, some damned reporter, had disguised himself as Shu to gain entrance into this place and was even now going through his stuff looking for some scoop on the famous gay Romance writer and his idiot wannabe-pop-singer lover?
He stubbed out the cigarette on the rail, thrust the door open and—
There he was. On the couch. Out cold. And decidedly not an impersonator.
He was curled in a ball, clutching a bathsheet that completely swallowed his small form. And yet . . . and yet, despite the face, Eiri could hardly believe this was the annoying brat that had lived with him for the past four weeks. Gone was the gawky, skinny-limbed sprawl, gone the contented smile. Most notably, the (dammitall) enchanting little snore had been replaced by the shaky, tear-laden breaths of a child who’d cried himself to sleep.
And Shuuichi lay there, pillowless, shivering in the damp towel, when he knew damn good and well where Eiri kept the linens. As if...
As if he felt he no longer had the right to use them.
Frowning, Eiri fetched a warm blanket and a pillow. Shuuichi didn’t bat an eye when Eiri lifted the damp head to settle it gently on the pillow. The blanket roused slightly more interest, as one small hand deserted the towel to pull the blanket over his pink head, hiding his face from the morning sunlight filtering through the wall of windows. But there was nothing of conscious thought in the act, only an instinctive retreat from cold and light. Eiri doubted, in fact, that he’d actually see those violet eyes any time before mid-afternoon.
The joys of hangovers and nights spent on park benches. At this rate, if the kid avoided a stay in the hospital from exposure, he should count himself lucky.
Not his problem, he told himself firmly. Once that laundry was done, the freeloader would get the boot again.
He turned his back on the gut-wrenching little pile of blanket, and went to refill his coffee before heading for his study to get his day underway.
Eiri was out of coffee, out of cigarettes, and hungry as hell.
He stood up, stretched and headed for a refill on the coffee. He wished, he really wished that the day had proved as fruitless as yesterday, but unfortunately, as had happened every day Shuuichi had spent in this house, the words had flowed like a waterfall, relentless, powerful...and beautiful.
Damned inspirational brat. But he’d get over it. He would, dammit! Words had happened before Shindou Shuuichi, and they’d happen again. Better yet, he’d get back his signature doom and gloom endings. Never mind his editor and beta readers had loved that last one, the one that had gone all sappy-happy, thanks to Shuuichi’s influence on his attitude.
It wasn’t him, dammit.
Never mind it was his personal favorite of all his novels.
He gave himself a mental shake. Of course it was his favorite. It was the most recent. Favoritism went with the territory.
Outside his office, the bathroom door was shut, and the shower was going. Again.
Shit. If the brat kept this up, damned if he wouldn’t send him an electric bill.
In the living room, he froze, staring at the late afternoon sun shafting through the wall of windows.
Double shit. No wonder he was starved. Where in hell had the day gone?
He started a new pot of coffee, grabbed three muffins out of the fridge and shoved half of one in his mouth as he headed back for the study.
That damned shower was still going.
“Hey, you!” He banged on the door to get Shuuichi’s attention, but the shower continued.
Fuck it. In the study, the message light on the phone was flashing. He kept the ringer off and the machine on the shelves behind his chair, because he refused to be bothered by the damned thing until he was in the mood to talk—or until he got email complaints from his editor that the machine was full. Generally the latter.
Not that he was in the mood to talk now, but something in him wondered what was behind this early morning police delivery. Had the kid tried to call after he’d tossed him out?
Two from Tats: the usual, and no, he would not attempt to collect any of the disgusting and sometimes downright creepy object d’ Ryuichi his baby brother simply couldn’t live without. He deleted those. Only one from his editor. Another from some fan who had gotten the unlisted number . . . he made a note of the name so he’d know which of his immediate family to throttle, but it was probably Tatsuha’s doing. In a fit of self disgust for wasting his own time, he was about to delete the lot when an unexpected voice flowed from the speaker.
Since when did Nakano call him? And so . . . cheerily?
“Sorry to bother you, Yuki-san, and I’m glad you and Shu made up and all, but could you tell him, please, to get his sorry ass down here? He’s not answering his cell, and Sakano’s going to spring a leak or something if he doesn’t get here soon. Thanks!”
What the hell? Made up? With Shuuichi? What had the brat told his guitarist buddy? By the time/date stamp, that message had arrived about an hour ago.
Another call, this one from Touma, and left (Eiri glanced at the display) while he was in the kitchen just now.
“Eiri? You must call me back the moment you condescend to listen to this. What have you done to Shindou-san this time?
And another from Nakano, immediately after.
“Damn you, you bastard. What the fuck did he ever do to you, other than give you his heart and soul? I warned you—”
That one ended in a shout from the band’s insane American manager and a gun shot.
Oh, things were hopping at NG studios.
He should just go haul the idiot out of the shower and ask him, but he also knew the futility of ignoring a direct demand from Touma. The bastard probably had his phone tapped; probably knew the instant he checked his messages.
He picked up the phone and auto-dialed Touma’s office: the direct line. When his brother-in-law picked up, Eiri said, without preamble: “It’s me.”
“Eiri. How good to hear—”
“Don’t give me that crap. What’s this all about?”
“No. Kumagoro. Of course, I’m talking about Shuuichi. What was that call of yours all about? Why’s Nakano sending me death threats?”
“Possibly because you’ve just ruined his career?”
“Are you telling me that Shindou-san didn’t just resign because of something you did?”
He responded slowly. “Believe me, Touma, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I threw Shindou out. Nothing more.”
“Of course you did. Might I ask why?”
“You saw that damned gossip-rag and you know what that kind of press will do to his career. Beyond that...” Eiri frowned at the display on his computer, absently repaired a word-salad sentence in his latest manuscript. “You know what getting involved with me entails. I cut it off—before we both got hurt.”
“Ordinarily, I’d applaud your good sense. Under the circumstances... Nakano-san had assumed Shindou-san didn’t show this morning because he was with you. He and Shindou-san evidently parted last night under the assumption Shindou-san was headed to your apartment to apologize. I take it this assumption was false?”
“I didn’t see him until this morning when a cop delivered him to my doorstep.”
“Ah. He is there, then?”
“Unfortunately. Evidently he delayed on his way here for some liquid courage.”
“To put it mildly.”
“Strange. He didn’t sound that way when I spoke to him.”
“Touma, what’s this all about?”
“Shindou-san called me about fifteen minutes ago. He said he was quitting Bad Luck. He said not to blame Nakano-san or—”
“What reason did he give?”
“None, really, just that he couldn’t do it any longer. That he never meant to hurt, anyone.”
“For the love of...that baka-brat couldn’t hurt anyone if he tried. Look, Touma, he’s here. I’ll—” Fuck. No way was he going to try to talk sense into him. He knew where that would lead.
“Just talk to him, Eiri. See if you can sort out what’s going on.”
He cursed softly.
A pause, then, “Eiri, I’m sorry. Under the circumstances, I’ve no right to ask that. Would you like me to come get him?”
Civility? From Seguchi? Wasn’t that unprecedented? Almost, he said, yes, tempted beyond all sense to take advantage of Touma’s momentary weakness, and see how far he could push it, but: “No. At least, not yet. I’ll call, if I need you to.”
“Thank you, Eiri. I’ll admit, his tone of voice worried me. Greatly. I’ve only heard . . . Never mind. Yes, please, Eiri. See what you can find out.”
Touma was implying something; damned if he knew what.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” He hung up the phone, stared out the window without seeing a damned thing, his mind...numb.
Shuuichi was out of the shower and back in the living room. The scrubbing brush Eiri kept under the sink had been left in the basin of the stall. From the small stains remaining on the porcelain, he supposed the kid had just been trying to clean up after himself.
Well, give Shuuichi points for that, he supposed.
Eiri headed reluctantly for the living room and the confrontation he had no idea how to begin. Quitting singing was not exactly the reaction he’d expected. Shuuichi thrived onstage, he lived for the response of the crowd. It was one of the personality quirks Eiri had found irresistible from the start. Being the type to shun human contact of all sorts, the type who abhorred crowds, that easy, open love had been...mesmerizing—and utterly beyond his comprehension. Shuuichi had been a puzzle he couldn’t solve, but an absolutely predictable one, at least where it came to performing.
How the hell could he even think of giving that up? Just when he was about to break out? To realize a lifelong dream? He should be finding refuge from his screwed up love life on stage, pouring out his ‘heartache’ in more of those tripe lyrics, songs his teenage audience would go nuts over.
Not hiding out in the park.
“Shu—” he broke off even before he got the name out. Shuuichi was sitting on the couch, staring blankly across the room, one hand clutching yet another towel around him, the other cradling a squawking cell phone. He said nothing. Only listened, until the squawking ended, then pushed a button without looking, and the squawking began again. Once. Twice. A third time...
Eiri could hear the raised voices even across the room. Frantic voices that became angry, until that little button started the stream all over. Phone messages. At least one, he’d wager, from every member of the Bad Luck team. Touma. Nakano. K. Sakano. Even that green-haired punk Touma claimed as part of the family.
Another punch of that button, and the stream began all over.
Shuuichi looked...devastated. Well, what the hell did he expect? He’d just destroyed the investment portfolios of at least half a dozen people. As Eiri, who was not exactly renowned for his tact, sought a way to constructively disrupt Shuuichi’s wallow in self-pity, he noticed the stains on the towel.
Dammit. That was blood.
“Bleed on my couch, brat, and I’ll personally toss you over the balcony.”
Now that was constructive.
Shuuichi jumped. The phone slipped from nerveless fingers to fall, spinning, across the floor. Those huge, improbably exotic eyes blinked once, then followed the cell’s path, watching it until it came to a halt.
Ah. Got him off the phone. Definitely constructive.
“What the hell happened last night?” Eiri pursued this excellent beginning. “You do realize ‘falling down drunk’ is not meant to be taken literally.”
Slowly, Shuuichi slipped from the couch to land on his knees, reaching for the phone, cradling it against his chest with both hands.
Finally, in a whisper directed more towards the floor than to him: “Y–Yuki, I–I know I have n–no right to ask, but...” Narrow shoulders hunched as Shuuichi swallowed convulsively. “C–could you, p–please pretend...just for an hour...that you don’t h–hate me?”
A flinch stopped his protest cold, and this time, those eyes, swimming with tears, met his. “T–twenty minutes?” And when he still couldn’t find words, a quiet, desperate: “Five? Please, Yuki? I—I just have to pretend, just for a minute, that someone...doesn’t...” His soft, sweet voice failed altogether and his head bowed. “N–never mind...” He pushed himself wearily to his feet, clutching cell phone and towel and headed for the hallway. “I–I’ll just get my clothes—”
“Can’t.” Eiri found his own voice at last, and caught Shuuichi’s slumped shoulders as he passed. “I forgot to put them in to dry.”
An audible sob escaped this time, and despite his better sense, despite his resolve to shut Shuuichi forever from his life and his heart, he pulled the small, wilting body close. Strangely, the thin arms that in the past would have wound around him like a boa constrictor, remained between them, still clutching the towel.
“Why, Shu-chan?” he murmured into the soft, tangled mop. Stupid pink hair. It had been a deep, rich magenta, only a month ago, and the dark roots were showing. “Why the park?”
He thought, for a moment, he’d get no answer, then: “Nowhere else to go.”
“H–how could I? Knowing what I’d done. We had a dream, Hiro and I, and I’d just th–thrown it away. I–I couldn’t go back home. M–my father d–disowned me the day I moved...”
“In with me?” Eiri finished for the failing voice.
A slow nod against his chest. He’d never known. Shuuichi, who’d tried to get him to make up with his family, especially his father. Shuuichi, who didn’t know how to hate. Who would never find it in him to tell his father and his antiquated notions to fuck off. All this time, gentle Shuuichi had been estranged and in pain.
And Eiri’d never had a clue.
“So...I went to the park. There was nowhere else.”
Nowhere else. Because the place he’d called home for weeks had ceased to welcome him.
“Besides, I–I just wanted to be that Shuuichi again. Just for a while.”
That Shuuichi. The before Yuki Eiri Shuuichi. Innocent. With an innocent’s naïve notions of love. Notions that had permeated that piece of tripe lyrics.
Except they hadn’t been tripe—to anyone who wasn’t an arrogant, jaded ass who’d given up on life. Even that jaded ass had to admit to secretly enjoying the brat’s songs these days. It was hard not to. Shuuichi’s enthusiasm was nothing if not infectious and Shuuichi believed in his songs, his music, life, love...all those things he nattered on about, day in and day out.
That naïvete had survived, despite the loss of innocence.
At least, he thought it had. I just wanted to be that Shuuichi again... And Shuuichi couldn’t go to Hiro, his best friend, his bandmate, his fellow-dreamer, because he’d ‘thrown it all away.’
Had he really given it all up—the songs, the band—because Yuki Eiri had thrown him out? Had Yuki Eiri, the world’s most fucked up bastard, finally destroyed that fundamental character?
Had he truly robbed the world of one of its few genuinely sweet inhabitants?
Eiri cupped the quivering chin and tilted Shu’s unresisting head back enough to meet those swimming, violet eyes, seeking answers, finding only an infinity of sorrow, and resolve took a staggering, if not fatal, blow. He leaned to press his lips gently to Shu’s trembling mouth, then murmured:
“I think, maybe, I could manage twenty minutes.”
The tears Shuuichi had been holding back erupted, and Eiri welcomed the flood, as he relished the boa constrictor that wrapped his waist and threatened his breathing. This, this was the Shuuichi he recognized.
He wondered, as he picked the bawling brat up and carried him into the bedroom, just where he’d been hiding.
And more importantly, why.
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A/N: In the anime, Shuuichi’s family is never mentioned. His father and his relationship with his father is all constructed for the purposes of this story.