by Talya Firedancer


Blessed silence, the kind which slipped through his fingers all too often. The apartment was thick with it, at long last, and Yuki Eiri stretched in his desk chair, laptop open and glowing before him, prepared for a blissful spate of productivity. Silence. He could hardly work without it, yet its golden aura had been rarely present in his apartment since the day Shindou Shuuichi had moved in.

Shuuichi -- even on his best behavior, even with the door to Yuki's study shut and bolted and barricaded -- had a penetrating whine to rival a buzz-saw shearing through slate tile, and could cut through sound-damping obstacles just as readily.

Yuki flexed his fingers and regarded the blank, open document before him. The drain of finishing a novel curbed many writers' abilities to draw readily on their talent once more, but for Yuki it had always been the opposite. Once an old project had been finished, its complications and its tangled characters and their issues behind him, he disposed of the mental baggage of that book as easily as he would drop it in the trash. Beginning a new project involved infinite promise that made a fresh start appealing to him. Besides, there was the age-old reasoning, perhaps this time he would get it right, that elusive quality of perfection every author angled for.

His index finger touched the first key.

A blast of sound slammed through the house, rattling windows and doors with the force of it. "SHIKATO KIMETE OIKOSEYO..."

After that first blast of sound the volume lowered a fraction...just low enough for Yuki to hear Shuuichi warbling along to the sound of his own voice.


Yuki gritted his teeth and shoved his chair back. It cracked against the bookcase behind him as he stood.

Outside the spartan environment of the study, Shindou Shuuichi lay sprawled arse-up in front of the state-of-the-art entertainment system, a Bad Luck video blaring on the television. The music thundering out of the refined surround sound system was, to put it mildly, deafening. A pair of headphones lay on the phone by Shuuichi's elbow, ignored. The pink-haired boy appeared to be jotting notes down on a clipboard.

Yuki stalked over to the television, stiff-legged with rage, and jabbed the button with a great deal more force than was strictly necessary.

Shuuichi tore his eyes away from the now-blank screen and looked up at him, gaping like a fish. "Huh? Yuki? What did I do?"

"Out," Yuki gritted, extending an arm with what he thought was remarkable composure, and pointed toward the door. "Get out. Now."

"But...but..." Shuuichi aimed guileless, fluttering eyes up at him. "But, but, I don't have work for a few more hours!"

"Then go get some coffee!" Yuki snarled, turning on his heel to take his own advice. Coffee was the answer, coffee and another cigarette and then maybe he could write in peace...after he threw the deadbolt behind Shuuichi.

Behind him, Shuuichi scrambled to his feet. "I'm sorry! Was I too loud?" He skittered into the kitchen ahead of Yuki, eyes wide and manner puppyish. "When I turned on the TV the volume was cranked up!"

Yuki put a hand over his eyes, then used his thumb to massage at the juncture of browbone and nose, where an incipient headache was burgeoning. "Of course it was...we were watching a movie last night, remember?" The echo of gunfire rattled through his skill for a moment. Shuuichi didn't like to just watch his action movies, he wanted to feel them as well.

Shuuichi brightened. "That's right!"

After staring at him for a moment, Yuki muttered "Idiot" under his breath and moved for the coffee urn to fill it with water. He stared in surprise as Shuuichi slid between him and the counter and blocked his way, arms held out resolutely. "What do you think you're doing?" Yuki uttered in dangerous tones. It was a hanging offense to get in between him and his coffee.

"No more coffee!" Shuuichi pronounced. "I know you already had a cup when you got up; I could smell it."


A person had to be either very brave or very stupid to ignore the warning implicit in his tone. Yuki already had a fair assessment of which category his lover fell into.

"So that's it for the day," Shuuichi continued stubbornly, still blocking his way, arms spread. "The doctor said you had to cut back on the coffee, and I know you won't do it, so I'm going to make sure you do!"

Yuki stared at him incredulously, a fresh cigarette hanging from his lip. He bit down on the filter before it could fall. "How the hell..." He checked his words. He didn't have to justify himself to a kid. "Shuuichi, that's none of your business, now get out of the way. I want my coffee."

"Unh-unh!!" Shuuichi shook his head vigorously, his face scrunched up in an expression of determination. "No way! Absolutely not! I saw that report from your doctor you left on the kitchen counter, and I read it! No more coffee, no more cigarettes, no more alcohol, or you're headed for another bleeding ulcer!"

Yuki's amber eyes narrowed as he frowned down at Shuuichi, remembering that moment from the other day. He had put his keys on the mantle, dropped the report carelessly on the island in the middle of the kitchen on the way to the refrigerator and a beer, then had gotten ambushed on the way to the living room by one very enthusiastic Shindou Shuuichi whom he had decided was, after all, very cute and appealing that afternoon...End flashback. Yuki glared at Shuuichi. "You took that report."

"You're right, I took that report!" Shuuichi flared back at him, defiant. "It's good to know I'm not the only cause of your bad health!"

Pinching the bridge of his nose -- there was no forestalling the headache now -- Yuki tried to stare down the vocalist. "Idiot. I never said you were the only cause." Yuki was very much aware how bad his habits were for his body. He simply never had reason to care for the damage before -- if anything, sickness had been a sign he was succeeding in his plan for systematic breakdown.

"Well, everyone else sure made certain that I knew it was my fault!" Shuuichi yelled, balling his fists at his sides, still standing firm. He stared into Yuki's unblinking gaze for a moment before breaking it, looking down and to the side. His chest heaved, up and down. Then he looked up, and his eyes were wide and a little glazed, as if seeing something far away. "But I'm not going away. I know...I know I'm hard to live with, for someone like you. I know...you don't want anyone to take care of you. But I don't want it to happen again. When you -- the hospital -- I don't--"

He was brought to a halt by Yuki's hand under his chin, tilting his head up even further.

"Shut up," Yuki said simply. Then, to make sure Shuuichi followed his command -- and, sure enough, his mouth was already opening in contradiction -- Yuki utilized the surefire expedient of covering the boy's lips with his own.

Catching Shuuichi with his mouth parted meant easy access. He remembered those first clumsy, childish kisses from the young man who was barely more than a child himself. The Shuuichi of now opened to his kisses like a flower barraged by the sun's rays; the boy locked an arm around his neck and loosed his passion into the mix.

There was no easy way to say 'I'm sorry' after a lifetime of making dead certain he apologized for nothing. Yet the consquences of his actions rippled outward like a drop falling into a still pond, breaking up the water and affecting more surface area with each spreading ring. Once upon a time, he drank and smoked and partied like there was no tomorrow, taking joy in none of it, counting on all of it to take its toll.

It's good to know I'm not the only cause of your bad health! Shuuichi's voice rang stridently in his ears; Shuuichi's soft mouth pressed trembling and urgent against his. The boy's hands were fisted in his dark blue shirt now. Shuuichi wasn't the cause of his bad health, but the bright stain of blood was the only thing he saw when he drew his conclusions.

It's not your fault, Yuki wanted to say, kissing him harder instead. The only thing I could blame you for now the fact that I want to live. He gathered Shuuichi closer to him with the slow play of his hands down the boy's slender back, settling firmly on his rear.

Shuuichi disturbed him. Shuuichi unsettled him. And in doing so Shuuichi had a profound effect on him beyond merely those actions that had upset the balance of his ordered existence. Why was it so hard to admit that one thing?

Someone mattered to him.

Yuki took him to bed then, because Shuuichi could be cute in the morning, too, when he wasn't blasting his music during Yuki's productive time. And he wanted to erase the memory of that look on Shuuichi's face. Not his own memory -- he would never forget it. He wanted to distract Shuuichi from the way he'd felt, shouldering the blame for Yuki's deadly habits. Just for a little while, he wanted to wrap himself in warmth and Shuuichi and put it off, put it away from him.

Shuuichi bothered him, and with that upset, something changed.

Yuki found room for things that had never had a place before.

In the bedroom, weak and watery light filtered through the shades that blinded the window. Yuki's bedrooms always faced west, because he preferred not to face the mornings under any circumstances. So there was still a lasting darkness in the room as Yuki took his mouth, Shuuichi already enthusiastically stripping the clothing that separated them, then Yuki took him down, his lips unable to shape the most important things but skilled at this one thing. Best for last, Yuki took what Shuuichi offered him, moving rougher than he intended between spread thighs but the arms that clamped tight over his shoulders sought to hold him, they did not clutch in pain.

And when they moved, they moved together.

In the haze of afterglow and post-coital smoke Yuki looked up at the ceiling, sheet twisted over his hips, Shuuichi sprawled naked and blissfully sweaty beside him with his cheek turned against folded arms. In those kinds of moments Yuki wondered why it was so difficult to recognize happiness.

Yuki discovered that his headache was gone.

A long time ago Yuki had told Shuuichi he was terrible in bed. And sure, compared to a lot of the trashy women he had hauled home, by those standards he was. But Shuuichi had something none of them had...

Shuuichi moaned, wriggled happily, reaching up to lick his ear then he squirmed away like a live eel as Yuki froze, ash dropping onto the top sheet. That gave the boy the chance to get out of range, and he jumped into his pants both legs at a time as Yuki growled and reached out in delayed reaction to throttle him. The brat knew just the place to bite, now, to immobilize him.

...What he possessed was the ability to utterly infuriate him. No one else did it like Shuuichi did.

The door burst open, slamming into the opposite wall. The doorknob busted through the plaster and cracks radiated outward like a minor quake. Yuki dropped more ash on the top sheet. Shuuichi froze halfway into his pants, and seeing as he was jumping into them both legs at a time, this meant that he fell on the floor with a splat.

"K?" Shuuichi said incredulously, from his place on the floor.

Yuki checked his sheet. Still twisted around the hips. Dignity preserved: "What the hell are you doing in my house?"

The tall blond manager shouted out in English, "What time is it!?" At the same time he leveled a large, long, obviously high-powered rifle at Shuuichi's head.

Shuuichi raised both hands and his pants dropped. "I don't know!" he whimpered. "Yuki?"

"Leave me out of this completely," Yuki grated, beyond irritated. He ground out his cigarette in the bedstand ashtray. "Take him and get out."

"Noooo!" Shuuichi wailed, twisting and scrabbling his way across the floorboards like a boneless thing, pants fallen around his hips and hindering movement. K made a grab for the boy's ankle but his rifle got in the way.

"You're three hours late!" K boomed, tracking with his rifle as Shuuichi lunged across the bedroom. "Are you blowing off Bad Luck for this boyfriend of yours?"

Yuki twitched. "Excuse me?"

"I didn't know!" Shuuichi howled, making a grab for Yuki's ankle, obviously intending to dive back into bed and burrow under the covers. "I'm sorry! I'm soooorry! If you'd been taken back to bed by Yuki, wouldn't you want to staaaaay toooo??"

Two things happened. Yuki drew his foot back to keep it out of Shuuichi's grabby hands; this made the sheet slip from its figleafing configuration, and he shone in full birthday-suit glory. Shuuichi, eyes rapt, driven on by the view of that which he desired, made a howl like the wolf and pounced.

K aimed his rifle and fired.

Yuki Eiri pushed Shuuichi's body off the bed, quite calmly regarding the smoking, neat hole inches from his private bits. "You owe me a new mattress."

"Shuuichi, get up!" K commanded, shouldering his rifle. "Warukatta ne, Eiri-san," he tacked on in his bad Japanese. "I'll take the price of the mattress out of Shuuichi's next paycheck. You want new sheets too? Get up, get up!" He prodded the fallen vocalist with one stockinged foot.

"That's fine," Yuki replied, reaching for a cigarette, determined to remain unrattled.

"Waaah! K! I am most humbly sorry for my actions!" Shuuichi apologized, lifting his ghastly head. Blood dripped down his forehead. "Just...just five more minutes..."

"NOW," K thundered, leveling the rifle again.

"All right, now," Shuuichi agreed meekly, then shook his head vigorously, shedding crimson splatters in every direction. He leapt to his feet and patted down his now-sleek pink hair. He aimed wobbling eyes in Yuki's direction. "Yuki~..."

"Get out," Yuki said curtly, blowing smoke. "If you can't honor your own contract what kind of professional are you?"

K withdrew, though he trained his rifle meaningfully on the vocalist during his way out.

"Fine," Shuuichi sniffed. His upturned nose lasted all of an instant. "But I'll see you tonight!" He dragged the door shut behind him.

Bits of plaster sifted and fell.

Yuki sighed, running a hand through his blond hair. After a moment, ever so grudgingly, he smiled. "Idiot," he muttered. Shuuichi had blown into his life with the speed of a bullet, and he was still reeling from the impact. "Maybe...I could cut out *some* of the stuff the doctor recommended."

Silence had returned. Yet the silence, like this place and his unsettled life, held traces of the voice that had disturbed it so.


Author's notes:

* Warukatta ne, Eiri-san - "My bad, Eiri-san." If you need the honorific translated, there's no hope for you.

This fic was partially inspired by a scene in the manga that may or may not have been omake. (Humorous extra.) With Gravitation, it's hard to be sure!