He should have known it was trouble when he agreed to the 'date' with Shuichi. Things like that never ended well for him; last time, after all, he had nearly destoryed the carefully-constructed walls he'd had in place for so long. Why did I think this would be any better...? Eiri stared at the painting on the wall without really seeing it. Things always seemed to go wrong for him when Shindou was involved. Or is it the other way around? The nagging voice tugged at the tattered shreds of his conscience. The painting wavered before his eyes, and he jerked upwards, forcing himself to stay awake.
The first clue really should have been the curtains. He didn't remember writing about them, really, but was certain he must have at some point. Apparantly, Shuichi had taken it upon himself to acquire thicker curtains for the bedroom. Eiri was quite certain that a more ghastly shade of orange could not exist in this world. The pandas, of course, did not help. He'd been grateful, then, for the foolish promise he'd made--after all, if they went out for dinner, at least he could keep Shuichi from hanging the godawful things at that very moment. When they got home, he'd rationalized, it would be the simplest thing in the world to tire the boy out enough to get him to sleep, and then Eiri could dispose of the orange monstrosities when his lover left for work. It had seemed like a perfectly good plan at the time. Eiri let out a soft, cynical laugh, no more than a breath in the darkness. Good plan. Sure it was.
If the pandas hadn't tipped him off, he really ought to have taken the hint when Ayaka, who by all rights should have been back in Kyoto by now, just happened to be at the restaurant they'd visited. Eiri had actually run into her twice before this, once when she and Hiroshi were having lunch at a cafe and once when she'd been alone in a bookstore. He hadn't been able to figure out what she was doing in Tokyo, though a talk with Tohma seemed to suggest that the producer had a hand in it. Frankly, Eiri didn't much care; however, he'd assumed she'd be gone by now. Apparantly, he'd made yet another mistake.
What did you think when you saw her wave...? He'd outwardly ignored Shuichi's reaction, of course, but it was still fresh in his mind. Disappointment. Unease. Jealousy. Suspicion. All there and gone in the blink of an eye, but Eiri didn't miss much. Ayaka's presence disturbed Shuichi, and the girl seemed to take a perverse sort of delight in this fact. With a soft sigh, Eiri's hand raised just slightly to massage his temple. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe it. She is not a bad person; after all, she can't help our parents' decisions any more than I could. Of course, the fact that she probably wouldn't want to distinctly hampers our civil relationship. Thank goodness the girl had left when she did. Heh, to think he'd been afraid that her presence would spoil Shuichi's mood. Oh, no. Leave that to me. Certainly no one else can match my skill in that arena.
He wasn't even sure how, precisely, it had happened; after all, the evening had been fairly routine. Coming home was nothing new. Irritation with Shuichi was far from notable. He'd gone to print copies of the manuscript at Kinko's (([or the japanese equivalent... anyone who knows, please tell me])) so that his editor wouldn't cry again. He hated when she did that. The kid had been asleep when he came home--again, nothing unusual--but on the couch. That should have tipped me off. Of course, it hadn't.
Shuichi, asleep, tangled in blankets. Reaching out, tucking him in, frowning as he whimpered. Shaking his shoulder to wake him.
"Iiieee!!!! Yukiiii!!" He pulled back, obviously terrified, hitting the back of the couch in his haste to get away. Staring down at him, thunderstruck, the words echoing in his mind...
Eiri shuddered, leaning his elbows on the desk and resting his head in his hands. He'd known it would come to this, eventually; he'd known all this time. Ever since that fateful afternoon when Aizawa Tachi had shown up in his own home, Eiri had known what he had--what he must have done to Shuichi. Eiri had remembered, that afternoon, what he had been trying so hard to forget. It had clung to him ever since, despite Tohma's efforts, despite the increased doasage of medication... in spite of everything, he could not forget. The one comfort he had had was that Shuichi didn't seem to be exhibiting the same symptoms. It had been miraculous, really, and almost unbelieveable--which, of course, was entirely as it should be. How he had believed that that blissful state would continue was beyond his comprehension. I should have known this would happen. How could I be so naive?
He didn't remember much of what Shuichi had said, honestly. After the normally clingy pink-haired singer had physically shoved him away, Eiri had been trapped. The memories were too strong to ignore. Only one thing had penetrated the fog, one element of the present that had broken through the past to linger in his mind.
"Gomen Yuki..I ... I.... I'm still so scared..."
"What are you afraid of...?"
Little shreds of conversation came back to him, stuck in his mind, pushing their way into his conscious thoughts whether he liked it or not. Sweating, he held his forehead, closing his eyes, bracing himself for the onslaught.
"Everyone has nightmares Yuki..."
"Not like that."
"I'm sorry... I tried to forget.. just.. sometimes I remember. I'll be ok! Really..."
"Forget... It's so hard...so hard to forget..."
That was when the idea had first entered into his head, though he hadn't entertained it seriously at first. After all, Shuichi wasn't like him; Eiri knew that all too well. He'd tried to settle the singer down, tried to soothe the fears away, but to no avail.
"Let's... go to bed."
Shu looked at him with a smile of relief, his eyes wet and red from crying, and he glopmped Yuki, hugging him tightly. "I love you" he said quietly. The writer said nothing. After a moment, his arms reached to encircle the small body, and he nearly choked on suppressed tears when he felt how small and light his lover was. Like a child... Shoving back the tears, he stood, carrying the tiny burden with him into the bedroom.
"Come on tour with me?"
"Sleep... it's time to sleep now."
"You're gonna stay, right?"
"Yuki... if you leave.. I might die.."
"Yuki? I'm sorry.. I shouldn't have cried."
"...It's okay to cry."
"But I upset you... I always do..."
"No. You don't upset me."
"Then why are you upset?"
Why indeed? Eiri pulled his head upwards, clasping his hands together and staring at the wall across from his desk. Why was he upset? It would be easy to tell himself that Shuichi was the cause; easy, of course, to cut the boy out of his life for good and be done with it. But that wouldn't work, and Eiri knew it. Look how much trouble he'd had simply being away from him for a month, after all. If being without Shuichi meant that he couldn't write, Eiri knew that his life would be over. Without writing, how was he supposed to destroy the demons that plagued him? This way he could get rid of them, could write them into new forms and give them to his adoring public, who would shiver and gasp and love him all the more, never guessing that what they held in their hands was altered barely enough to be fiction. Writing was a dangerous business, after all; in order to draw in his audience, he had to put a piece of himself into every page. That wasn't the trouble, of course. The problem was making sure it wasn't too much. Eiri glanced briefly at the laptop, open beside him. The dark screen stared back. He returned his eyes to the wall.
The boy was more perceptive than he let on; perhaps, in fact, more than he even knew. He was always asking questions, and they were always exactly the wrong ones. Eiri couldn't take it; he'd snapped at his lover, losing control of his temper and provoking a barrage of tears. I never know what to do. He's everywhere and nowhere all at once... he wants to be comforted, so I try, but how? I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought it would help. There was nothing else to do. The medication had always worked for Eiri, after all. It made him forget, at least for a time. It was perfectly logical to reason that it would do the same for Shuichi. Right?
Of course, things hadn't worked out the way he'd planned. Eiri shuddered. The vision of tiny Shuichi--always so animated, even in sleep--looking more dead than alive haunted his thoughts. He'd never imagined that the blissful, dreamless sleep he relied on had such a frighteningly placid face.
Is that what I look like when I take the medicine?
That was the last coherent thought he remembered. Everything after that was a blur; he could recall a sense of panic and the sharp, metallic taste of fear as he suddenly wondered if, perhaps, he had made a mistake, but little else. He knew he had picked up the phone of his own accord, for once in his life. He knew he had dialed Tohma's number, which he knew so well but would never deign to use. He could follow the train of events, if not the feel, as Tohma kept him on the line while he drove over. Remembering the night was difficult; the events seemed to be wrapped in gauze, making the shapes easy to pick out but obscuring the details. The only practical consequence of Tohma's visit was that Eiri had left his lighter in the bedroom. He knew the two had talked, that things had doubtless been said that he would regret, but all that really stuck was the fact that an accessory to his nicotine addiction had been left in the room containing his frighteningly motionless lover. Nothing in this world could induce Eiri to go back and get it. He'd fallen asleep, eventually, slumped on the couch for lack of a more appropriate place.
If that had been his last encounter of the evening, Eiri might still be asleep; unfortunately, his next visit had been even less pleasant. Now Eiri deeply regretted not paying more attention to Ayaka at the restaurant; apparantly she had left a book of hers at the table, and had for some reason assumed that Eiri would have picked it up. He hadn't, of course, but that hadn't stopped Ayaka from coming in. She seemed as if she had something on her mind. A little obvious, that one... not that I hadn't suspected as much. It seemed that Tohma really did have some sort of interest in Eiri's ex-fiancee. I knew it, when he was so damned evasive about the subject of her presence here. As to his purpose in asking her to meet with him... well, I'm sure I can get that out of her once she finds out. She was bursting to ask me about him, after all. He could do, however, without her incessant concern for his welfare.
Eiri barely remembered prodding Ayaka into calling a cab; he recalled even less of the following hours, sitting in his office, staring at the wall. He knew that he should be in the bedroom, watching over Shuichi. This was his fault, after all, from the incident with Aizawa all the way up to the administration of the medication. The boy had also begged him to stay; would Eiri betray him again by being away from his side when Shuichi finally woke? The writer groaned softly, leaning back in his chair to stare at the ceiling. Coward, he told himself bitterly. You can't even fix the situation you've created. You really are pathetic. No wonder he...
Eiri scowled and pushed away from the desk, closing the distance between his position and the window in long, ground-eating strides. His hands moved simultaneously, liberating a cigarette from the ever-present pack, along with the cheap plastic lighter that was the only legacy of Ayaka's visit. He did not, it seemed, remember the little slip of paper upon which he had scribbled her number, the paper which just happened to be on the coffee table in the living room. He must also have been too distracted to notice the faint noise of movement as Shuichi woke, stumbled groggily to the living room to post in LiveJournal, and collapsed on the couch beside it. Completely oblivious to all of this, Eiri stood at the window, creating a comforting veil of smoke to hold his world together.