Series: Weiß kreuz/Gravitation
Warnings: Shounen-ai, OOCness?, tad bits of angst
Archive: DarkMagick.net, FanFiction.net. Anyone else, ask and we'll see...
Spoilers: Up till Episode 6 of Gravitation, Weiss kreuz TV series. Replaces events after Episode 6 and the OAVs of Gravitation; ignores events of WK OAVs, ignores possible events of WK: Gluhen and WK drama CDs.
Notes: Own nothing but the idea. Possibly unfinished. Information on Gravitation at the bottom. Inspired by this picture (http://darkmagick.free.fr/aya_x_shuichi.jpg) Additionally, I think I suffer from Perfect Aya-chan Syndrome; please bear with me.
Dedications: To Tenshi-hime. Hey, Tenshi, thanks for letting me borrow BT-chan; he was a big help!
How much farther is it? I'm not going to make it much further... I'll just sit here a moment and rest...
The cold slotted metal of a shop grate touching his sore back as he collapsed loudly against it was the last thing he noticed before the world sank into blessedly pain free darkness...
* * * * *
Years of honed instinct had them all awake as the gate clanged loudly a floor below them. Choice of sleeping attire determined who would investigate it.
Omi exchanged a cautious nod with Aya then lifted the gate once the redhead had indicated he was ready. A limp body sprawled in, narrowly missing impalement on the katana. Numerous cuts, scrapes, and bruises covered the - pink-haired?! - young man, and he appeared to be unconscious at least.
Almost automatically, Omi moved over to check his pulse and breathing. "Well, he's alive," he declared a moment later.
"It's a trap."
"For florists, Aya-kun? We're retired now, remember?"
"It's a trap."
Immediately the man they tried to call Ran (but honestly still thought of as and called Aya) looked a little contrite. The dark-haired young woman standing in the doorway, her hands on her hips, dressed in a long robe, was angry. As good a sign as any to run for the hills for most people; to her older - and even more stubborn - brother, it was just about the only way to get him to listen.
As the Fujimiya siblings tried to glare each other down, Hikada Ken slipped around Aya-chan to kneel down next to Omi. "So what's the verdict, doc?"
"Nothing too serious."
Aya-kun broke off the staring match to state, "I'd like to know how he got here."
"That doesn't matter," Aya-chan declared. "He's here and he's hurt and we're going to do something about it to help him, aniki."
"I still think it's a trap." The elder Fujimiya almost sounded like he was pouting.
Ken grinned up at him. "If someone was going to pull something on us, they'd have picked someone who could fight, not Shindou-kun here."
All eyes turned to stare at him, but it was Omi who asked the question that was on all their minds. "Do you know him, Ken-kun?"
He shrugged slightly. "We went to the same junior high. We hung out in different groups, but I studied with him and his friend Nakano-kun a couple of times. Trust me: we'd be in more danger of being flooded by man-eating frog demons than Shindou-kun trying to hurt us. He's as harmless as they come. The worst he could do would be flood us by crying."
Aya-chan nodded firmly, a glint of determination in her eyes that suddenly eerily matched her brother's. "So that settles that. Omi-nii?" He glanced up to meet her eyes. "You're the best at first aid. Why don't you go grab the kit?"
"Of course, Aya-chan." Quickly but silently, he got to his feet and headed for the downstairs bathroom, where the larger of many such kits was kept.
"Ken-nii, can you see if you have something warm and loose Shindou-san can wear?"
He grinned back at her. "I think I know just the thing. Be right back." He hopped up and headed back upstairs.
For a long moment, the two siblings stared at each other. Predictably, it was the older who folded. Anticipating what she was about to ask, he knelt down and lifted the surprisingly light young man in his arms, trying not to aggravate any of his wounds. "Which room to you want him in?"
She smiled slightly. "Well, yours is closest."
He sighed in defeat. At least he knew when to give it up around his rather persuasive little sister, he thought to himself as he followed her back up the steps. A slight and puzzled frown on his face, he stared down at the person in h is arms. And what really happened to you, Shindou? Who are you really?
* * * * *
Fujimiya Aya-chan frowned at the slight figure who tossed back and forth slightly in her brother's bed, apparently caught in the throes of a rather impressive nightmare. Every so often he would murmur the word "yuki," which perplexed her even further; what did snow have to do with him getting beaten up? And thinking of that, anything that would send her Omi-nii into a frowning fit accompanied with frequent head shakings couldn't be good. To her relatively untrained eye, the pink-haired young man looked like he'd made enemies with several people bigger than him, but if Ken-nii was right, Shindou-san wasn't the kind to make that kind of enemies.
Ken and Yoji had gone out to check if any of his attackers were still in the area. She was realistic enough to know the chances were slim to none, but it couldn't help to check, right? As far as she was concerned, she'd like to get a hold of whoever had done this to him and give them a piece of her mind or a piece of her brother's katana, whichever was more handy, but for now she'd settle for making sure her guest was all right and would recover. He seemed to bring out some of her legendary Fujimiya protective streak.
The door opened quietly behind her; the only way she knew was because of the soft hiss it made over the newly installed thick carpeting. "Aya-chan?"
Her brother's form stepped into view. "It's late, and you have class and cram school tomorrow. Get some sleep."
He pulled her up out of her chair and gently pushed her towards the door. "I'll watch him. Go get some sleep, imouto-chan."
Unable to hold it back now, she yawned. "Okay, aniki. I'll see you in the morning. Let me know if anything changes."
"I will, I will." With a firm push, he got her out the door at last and headed towards her own across the hall, before shutting the door and taking the seat she had previously occupied near the bed. It was going to be a long night.
* * * * *
He awoke with a start, wincing as the sudden movement pulled something in his side. He sat on the unfamiliar bed and glanced around the equally unfamiliar room, until his eyes landed on the room's other occupant. Huh...? Did I miss something? Where am I? He doesn't look Japanese... Did K-san take us to America while I was asleep?
The door cracked open slightly, and a dark-haired girl poked her head in. "Aniki...?" She grinned at him sunnily, pushing the door the rest of the way open. "Oh, you're up, Shindou-san! How are you feeling?"
"Umm..." He bit his lip slightly. "Who are you?"
"Oh, I'm sorry! I forgot to introduce myself!" She carefully bowed. "I'm Fujimiya Aya." She glanced down at the tray of food she held in her hands. "I was bringing this up for aniki, but since you're awake and he's asleep-"
He jumped slightly - and immediately regretted it - as the red-haired man uncurled himself in the chair across the room. He looks like a picture.
The girl, Aya, grinned even more brightly. "Good, good, aniki! I left Shindou-san's breakfast in the kitchen; I'll leave yours down there too. Omi-nii said he needs to take one of the white pills with the food. I'm off for school now! Bye, aniki! See you later, Shindou-san!"
Even more suddenly than she'd appeared, she was gone again. Silence reigned for a long moment afterwards. "You don't ever get used to her," that silky deep voice stated. Purple eyes finally turned onto him. "So what happened to you, Shindou?"
"How do you know my name?" he choked out; talking hurt at the moment.
The other man shrugged. "Ken" was all he answered, clearly waiting for an answer to his own question.
"It's personal." He didn't tell them anything about Yuki, he thought to himself. At least he could be proud of that, since he no longer had Bad Luck. He'd have to see K-san and Sakano-san and tell them the-
"That's my bed you've been sleeping in, Shindou, and my imouto who's fussing all over you."
"Just a... difference of opinions," he answered slowly, plucking lightly at the oversize bright orange sweatshirt he now wore that he knew wasn't his.
Those eerie purple eyes stared at him coldly for a long moment then seemed to ease up a bit. "Feel up to some breakfast, Shindou?"
Now that you mention it... He grinned as much as his sore face would permit. "Actually, I am a bit hungry. And it's Shuichi. Shindou Shuichi."
"Ran. Fujimiya Ran." He eyed him critically. "Think you're can make it downstairs?"
"I can try," he honestly answered. Slowly he stood, never releasing the stand beside the bed for support. Once to his feet, he winced as he realized just how much of his body ached; he could feel his legs trembling under him already. I hope that white pill she mentioned will be something for pain. I hurt...
The critical look never left Ran's eyes. "You're not going to make it two steps," he observed flatly.
Hesitantly, he tried to walk to the door. Though it took a bit longer than predicted, his body gave out from under him. To his surprise, there was a warm pair of arms there to catch him. Yuki would have just let me hit the floor then called me an idiot. But why?
"You're not going to make it down there on your own." Almost belatedly, he added, "I won't hurt you, Shuichi-kun."
He felt himself nod in agreement then hold his breath as Ran slid his arm around his waist and pulled one of Shuichi's over his shoulders, sliding them to their feet both effortlessly and painlessly.
The trip down the steps took less time than he'd have imagined, and soon enough he found himself sitting in a kitchen that didn't match the rest of what he'd seen of the place. Seeming to catch what his glances around meant, Ran looked vaguely amused. "Aya-chan and Omi are the cooks around here. We let them decorate in here."
"How many people live here?" he asked softly around the American-style eggs that had been left out for him.
"Five. Myself, Aya-chan, Omi, Ken, and-"
"And the great Kudou Yoji," another voice finished. A tall man with blond hair held back in a short ponytail slid into one of the other chairs. "Good to see you up and about, Shindou-kun," he stated, pulling a cigarette and lighter out of his shirt pocket.
"Outside or not at all, Kudou." Ran didn't sound happy. "And who's watching the shop?"
"In case you missed it, all our schoolgirl fans are at ASK's little production."
He shivered just slightly, something that the other two didn't miss apparently. Ran threw Kudou a dirty look, stood, and retrieved a small white pill sitting on a piece of paper on the counter. The severe expression he wore lightened as he set it down beside Shuichi's plate. "It's going to make you sleepy," he warned, "so we'll just stay downstairs, okay?"
Gratefully, he downed the pill and finished up his breakfast, nearly ready to fall into his plate by the time he was done. As his eyes started to drift shut, he felt warm arms pick him up like he weighed nothing. He smiled and hid his face in silky soft redness. If I can't go back to Bad Luck, I wouldn't mind staying here forever...
* * * * *
"You're being awfully nice," Yoji noted as he watched his team mate settle their guest down on the couch and cover him with a thin blanket.
"What gives? Yesterday, you were ready to slice and dice him, and now-"
"I... don't know." He smoothed a bit of pink hair away from that sweet face. "I just don't want to hurt him."
* * * * *
He woke up much more pleasantly this time around, stretching slightly to loosen pain-tightened muscles. Ran does have a nice place here, even for five people and a shop. He sat up slowly this time to avoid pulling anything. I wonder where everyone is though.
He glanced down at the table in front of the couch, now noticing the note anchored there by a remote control. He pulled it out and quickly read it over.
I'm helping Yoji out in the store up front for a few hours.
There's supposed to be some food in the fridge, and you're
welcome to watch TV or listen to Omi's CD player or
whatever. Be back soon.
As carefully as he could, he climbed to his feet without any help from the furniture and took stock of his new surroundings. A big-screen television, an expensive-looking computer with lots of empty Pocky boxes around it, and an equally expensive-looking stereo system. To himself, he grinned faintly; that was the kind of system he and Hiro had wanted to get to play their first single on. Hiro... He really should call his friend and let him know where he was. He probably thinks I'm at Yuki's still... Yuki... It'd probably be best for me to stay away from him for a bit too, till Aizawa does whatever he's going to do...
Pushing away any thoughts of the blond novelist, he glanced around for a telephone. Not finding one in the room, he made his way into a short hall. From there, he could hear the steady and loud press of feminine voices. Kudou-san's "schoolgirl fans" perhaps? He glanced at a clock on the wall; it was about time for schools to be letting out anyway. It's a shop; there has to be a phone in there. I don't think I could make back upstairs alone to get mine anyway.
He peeked his head in the door at the end of the hall, then quickly shut and leaned against it, horror in his wide bright blue eyes. There's more girls in there than chased me around the train-
The door slid a few inches open behind him. "Shindou-kun?"
He breathed a quiet sigh of relief. "Yeah, Kudou-san?"
"You're welcome to come out here too, you know."
"What do you need me to do, Kudou-san?" he asked, stepping away from the door.
The other man appeared in the doorway, a sheepish but still grateful smile on his face. "Just run the register. Aya and I can handle the rest."
"I thought Ran was here."
For just a split second, he thought he saw Kudou twitch, but the instant passed so quickly he decided he must have imagined it. "Well, Shindou-kun. We usually call... Ran by Aya; me, Ken, and Omi, that is. It's a bit of an inside joke." He wrapped an arm around Shuichi's shoulder and drew him inside the... flower shop?!
"Aww... there's another one!" a high-pitched voice squealed.
"He looks just like a doll!"
"Ran-kun, is it on the application to work here that you have to be absolutely gorgeous?"
At the mention of the redhead's name, he automatically tried to spot him in the sea of faces; luckily his hair made him easy enough to locate, pressed up against the far wall. Violet eyes shot him a concerned look before the wave of girls blocked him from view again.
"Is it always like this?" he heard himself ask.
Yoji shook his head, steering him toward a counter holding a cash register and little else. "No, it's not. Normally, there are more of us here field them off, but Omi and Aya-chan are in cram school and Ken's soccer team had a tournament today." He winked slightly. "And usually, we keep some music playing to keep them under control, but someone trampled it the other week. The register's easy. We'll send an amount with the arrangement; just punch it in, take their money, give them change, don't let them try to grope you. Got it?"
Kudou nodded, then he disappeared back into the group, his height the only way to locate him. Shuichi dragged a stool over, scanning the crowd and picking out Ran again. How do they do this every day? Ran looks like he's about to lose his-
"If you're not buying something, get out!"
He held back a laugh as almost every female in the shop looked desperately around for a flower of some sort, something to warrant their continued presence.
The next few hours passed in a rush of teenaged feminine faces he'd probably never remember if he ever saw again. Then one appeared that he did recognize.
"Aww, poor Shindou-san. Aniki and Yoji-nii put you to work?" Aya-chan winked. "How do you like the Koneko no Sumu Ie, Shindou-san?"
"How do you stand to work here?"
"Me, I like it," she admitted. "It makes me feel like I'm doing my fair share to help aniki out, not like he's still supporting me all on his own." She grinned. "So where you're not behind the counter at the Koneko, what do you do for a living, Shindou-san?"
"I... Nothing, anymore."
"Oh?" She leaned across the counter till their noses were nearly touching. "Is that so?" He nodded slightly, not meeting her eyes. "Hmm." She moved back to the other side of the counter, was silent for a moment, then yelled as loudly as possible, "We're closing now!"
He watched through jagged pink bangs as the young woman herded all the people lingering out of the shop in time for Kudou to pull the grate down then collapse in a nearby chair. "I swear, there are more of them every day," he complained, fanning himself with one hand and pulling out a pack of cigarettes with the other.
"Outside or not at all, Yoji-kun," the blond boy picking up the broken flowers on the floor stated.
"You're such a slave driver, Omittchi. You're going to make someone a good nagging wife someday." Aya-chan laughed and even Ran looked rather amused as Omi sputtered and blushed.
"Do you need me to do anything?"
"Not a thing!" Aya-chan declared before whirling on Kudou. "And it was very bad of you to put him to work like this, Yoji-nii!"
The tall blond shrugged. "He could have said no." He stood, stretching, and hung his apron up. "I'll see all of you later; I've got a date tonight."
"And this is supposed to be a surprise, Yotan?" Omi returned.
"Ooh, stung," the older man quipped.
"Hey, Shindou-san, why don't you and aniki go ahead and take off?" Aya-chan suggested. "Omi-nii and I'll finish cleaning up."
"Bring my CD player in here, if you don't mind, Aya-kun," Omi called after the redhead.
He waited till Ran got over to the counter to stiffly stand and follow him out of the room. At the end of the hall, Ran nodded towards the living room. "I was going to watch some TV, if you want to join me."
"S-sure." He collapsed on the couch, pulling a throw pillow into his lap and resting his chin on it as he watched the redhead disconnect the stereo and carry it out of the room. Once his new companion was out of sight, he let the smile drop off his face. Why couldn't Yuki ever be this nice to me? I've been - I was living with him almost a month, and-
The couch shifted slightly beside him, and he grinned up at Ran. I was right before: he does look like a picture. Or more, a painting. Like he's too beautiful to be real. Something that can never be caught... "So what did you want to watch, Ran?" he prompted, seizing the remote. "I don't think too much is on this late except the news and some hentai anime."
"Shuichi?" His name brought him up short. "I want to know what happened last night. What brought you to our door in the condition you were in?"
After all the help they've given, they more than have the right to know, he decided.
"I made the mistake of trusting one of my elders." He laughed humourlessly. "I made the mistake of trusting a lot of people." A soft sniffle escaped him without him meaning to let it go, and the words just seemed to tumble out after it, as he buried his face in the pillow he still held hostage. "Like Yuki. I was living with him almost a month, then I found out he has a fiancée! Then two nights ago, he said he didn't mind being my lover, but that was after he threw me and Mika-san out! Then yesterday he got home and bundled up all my stuff and threw me out for real! He even said all kinds of mean things, and-"
Arms wrapped around him, and he let himself be pulled back against Ran's chest. It took another few moments for him to register through the tears that the other man was running a gentle hand through his hair. He took a deep breath and started again. "I took everything to Hiro's and we went out to eat and talk. Hiro said I should go back to Yuki's and apologize for asking him so many questions about his past, so I went to the train station and got mobbed. Aizawa - my elder in the business - he saved me from the crowd, and we went back to his place to drink and talk. Once he got Yuki's name out of me, he just snapped his fingers, and these three thugs showed up, and they took me down to the basement and... beat me up and... while Aizawa took pictures of the whole thing. He said as long as I gave up on my dream, he wouldn't bring Yuki down with me."
"Is Yuki worth all this?"
"I thought so, but now..."
"Is he worth you giving up your dream?"
"I... don't know. It's just... I just..."
The hand in his hair never ceasing its movements, Ran's other arm slipped around him and pulled his closer until he was practically laying on top of the other man, his head pillowed on his shoulder. "Don't think about it right now, Shuichi," he softly stated. "Right now, you need to concentrate on getting better. Aizawa and Yuki can wait until then." His arms tightened just slightly as Shuichi's body started to become limp in sleep. "And you can stay here until then, Shuichi."
* * * * *
For several long moments, Ken could only stare as the normally happy girl let out a tirade to put her elder brother to shame - and blister the wallpaper at the same time. He exchanged a helpless look with Yoji and Omi; where in the world had she learned all that?!
"How dare they treat Shindou-san like that?" Aya-chan continued, striving to keep her voice lower than the radio. "Man, if I was Shindou-san, I would have given that Yuki a piece of my mind a long time ago!"
"I'm sorry, Aya-chan," Omi broke in, "but I think that Aizawa and the film are the more pressing problems."
"Are you thinking what I think you're thinking?" Aya-chan sounded more than a bit eager.
The two shared a conspiratorial grin and nodded. Yoji sighed. "Looks like I need to cancel that date after all."
* * * * *
Ran stretched slightly. Sleeping on the couch as he had the night before had left him more than a bit on the stiff side, but...
But that pink-haired guy over there makes it worth it? an annoying little voice in his head whispered.
Yeah, he makes it worth it.
Shuichi had begged a notepad off Aya-chan and had been steadily working on something ever since the morning rush had worn off. Every so often, he'd stop and hum, like he was trying to get the sound of something straight in his mind.
"What are you working on?" he found himself asking, finally giving up the pretense of working on the arrangement he held in his hands.
"Well, I decided last night that I'm not going to just give up on my dream for anyone, so-"
The bell over the door of the shop cut him off, as did the familiar - if unexpected - voice that sang the words, "Looking for Shuichi, looking for Shuichi, looking for - Shuichi!" The dark-haired man carrying a cotton-candy pink rabbit bounded straight across the shop, over the counter, and onto Shuichi.
"Sakuma-san?" Shuichi squeaked.
"Sakuma?" Omi echoed, peeking up from balancing the books. His eyes went wide. "Oh God, that's Sakuma Ryuichi..."
The famous singer seemed oblivious, finally releasing Shuichi from his over-enthusiastic hug. "Aww, Shuichi!" he complained. "We looked all over for you! It's not nice to vanish like that! Me and Kumagorou and Hiro-kun were worried about you!" He grinned and plopped the stuffed animal down on Shuichi's head. "I told Hiro-kun me and Kumagorou would find Shuichi first!"
"Hiro's looking for me too?" For a moment, Shuichi sounded so small.
Sakuma nodded, looking awfully pleased with himself. "And Fujisaki and K and Sakano and everybody!" Abruptly, he calmed down and stood up, pulling Shuichi up with him. "We were all worried after what happened to ASK last night, and we knew you weren't with Yuki because he's in Kyoto again, and-"
"What happened to ASK?"
"They won't say, but Tohma-kun had to get Droopy Eyes... Aizawa out of the hospital this morning." Again, his entire demeanour changed. "Is Shuichi ready to go?"
The pink-haired young man looked directly at Ran, biting his lip slightly as he whispered, "I'm not sure I want to leave."
"Didn't you just say you didn't want to give up your dream for anyone?" Ran's voice was softer than any of them had ever heard it before.
"Besides," Aya-chan piped up, a soft grin on her face, "you know where we are; you're welcome here any time! No need to be a stranger!"
He stared at Ran as the redhead's younger sister spoke. Mentally, he sighed. One more impulsive Shuichi act... Slowly he walked over to the other man. "Do you really think I should try again?"
Ran nodded, violet eyes shuttered. "I think you're the kind of person who can succeed in whatever he sets his mind to."
"No one has ever said anything like that to me before, not even Hiro. Thank you." Quickly, before he could talk himself out of it, he pushed himself up against Ran and pressed their lips together.
It felt like fire as hot as the sun racing along his nerves, searing them and awakening new ones. He felt Ran pull him closer still, and the rest of the world just faded away.
* * * * *
Ryuichi and Kumagorou both seemed to be wearing larger than possible grins as they slipped back into the N-G production studio that had been commandeered as the Project: Find Shuichi headquarters. The singer idol couldn't hold back giggling as K directed agents he'd apparently pulled out of thin air via walkie-talkie.
The American turned an annoyed yet vaguely amused look on him. "We're still one singer short, and you're here laughing instead of looking?"
"Ryuichi and Kumagorou found Shuichi already!" he declared loudly then set to gnawing on the pink bunny's ear.
All the buzzing activity in the room abruptly silenced. "You found him?" Fujisaki repeated.
K's hand twitched closer to the Magnum. "And why isn't he here with you?"
"He's at the Koneko no Sumu Ie flower shop."
"That's near my place," Hiroshi noted. His voice sounded numb.
Ryuichi nodded, childishness fleeing from off his face, leaving behind a sage wisdom. "I think it's for Shuichi to tell you, but he was on his way to your apartment, Hiro-kun, and he couldn't make it any farther than the Koneko."
"'Couldn't make it any farther'?"
Another nod. "He got beat up. Ran took care of him."
He made Kumagorou reach out and tap the control panels. "Is the echo turned on in here?" He grinned sunnily up at Hiroshi. "Ran is the reason he'll be back here tomorrow." He winked and smiled as if he had a joke he wasn't telling. "They said they need to talk."
* * * * *
"Welcome back" greeted him as he walked in the room.
"Good morning, Hiro!" he returned, a brilliant grin on his face. He collapsed down into the seat next to his best friend. "I'm sorry about worrying you."
For a moment, Hiroshi could only stare at the sudden seriousness his friend was showing. "Shuichi?"
"Are we about to have someone else to worry on instead of Yuki-san?"
"You mean Ran?" He nodded. "Hiro, I'm not letting anyone wreck Bad Luck's chances again."
For the second time in as many minutes, Hiro felt floored again. "So there's not going to be any of this quitting Bad Luck for anyone's sake?"
Shuichi shook his head, an uncharacteristically sombre look on his face. "I decided not to give up my dream for anyone. Ran agrees with me - told me not to, in fact." He reached into the pocket of his pants and produced a sheet of a paper, setting on the table before Hiroshi. "I wrote this yesterday. Tell me what you think."
The guitarist slid the sheet closer to himself and skimmed over it quickly. He wrote it in a different notebook this time. Looks like a schoolgirl's notebook... Huh? "When did you write this, Shuichi?" he asked, looking up at his friend, catching him in the act of snitching a piece of strawberry Pocky.
"Yesterday morning. Most of it right before Sakuma-san found me. Is it really that bad, Hiro?"
"This is ten times better than 'The Rage Beat'!" The singer grinned and bit into his candy. "Have you named it yet?"
Shuichi nodded once. "I was thinking SUPER DRIVE."
"SUPER DRIVE, eh?" He snapped a little off Shuichi's Pocky and chewed it thoughtfully as he stared at the written words. "So tell me about this Ran guy. What's he like?"
Shuichi was silent for a long moment before speaking softly. "He's very quiet. I think it's because the other people he works with are all kind of loud. He doesn't smile or laugh a lot, but Kudou-san says it's still much more than he used to. Kudou-san is one of the people he works with, at the Koneko, by the way. He's... taken care of his little sister ever since their parents died a few years ago." He stood and then sat on the table, pulling out his cell phone and punching in a series of numbers. "And that reminds me..."
"Who are you calling?"
"Maiko-chan." He redirected his attention; apparently, she'd picked up. "Hey, Maiko! Guess who? Hmph, you wish. It's your oniisan. Yeah, long time, no talk, eh?"
He tapped the pink-haired young man on top of his head gently, making him look up at him. "I'm going to take this to Fujisaki-kun and see what he can arrange on it, okay?"
"Sure thing, Hiro," Shuichi answered, giving him a thumbs up then turning his attention back to his little sister. "So what are you up to this week, 'mouto-chan? Hmm... Well, I was going to see if you wanted to maybe go out to lunch or something? Yeah, just the two of us. There's something I want to tell you -"
Hiroshi shut the door behind himself, cutting off the rest of the conversation. He sighed to himself. He didn't even mention a word about Yuki-san. Probably just as well I didn't get to tell him about and Ayaka-chan. I'd hate to have to be the one to ruin his good mood...
* * * * *
Nee, oikakete, oikakete, shiroi kaze
Nee, koi ni natte, ai ni natte, hane hirogetai
Nee, ii koto mo, warui koto mo, subete tashite Ni de watte, umaku ikite, toki o koetai... 
* * * * *
Shuichi stepped out of the recording booth and stretched his arms above his head, yawning catlike and then sighing happily. "How'd that sound, Fujisaki-kun?"
"Getting better. I think that take on the ending should be it," the keyboardist replied, hardly looking up from the controls. "I'll see how it sounds when I remix it again, though."
He set a hand down on the younger boy's shoulder and grinned down at him, even though he wasn't looking. "Don't work yourself too hard! You need to relax sometimes! Take a break here and there..."
"You do that enough for us all, Shindou-san," Fujisaki Suguru shot back. "Where're you off to anyway?"
Shuichi turned a shade of red that clashed alarmingly with his hair and started to beat a hasty retreat in the direction of the large closed doors, saying softly as he went, "The Koneko."
Dark eyes looked up at his back. "You've been over there a lot lately. You... like this Ran-san that much, eh?"
Immediately, Shuichi whirled, a playful gleam in his eyes. "Why, Fujisaki-kun, you almost sound worried about me! You're going to ruin your cold reputation!"
"If we're going to surpass Nittle Grasper, we have to have our vocalist in top shape. While you're doing pretty good about here when we need you, we need more lyrics to complete the album."
He winked, leaning against the doors. "I'm working on some new things for you, Fujisaki-kun. Just give me a day or two. We're supposed to take Aya-chan out to celebrate her graduation tonight."
* * * * *
Whoever said that red and pink don't go together never saw aniki and Shuichi-nii, Aya-chan mused to herself, staring at her older brother and the younger man beside him. Shuichi was, as always, trying to be on his very best "in-public" behaviour, a.k.a. not hanging all over Ran. While it was true that her elder brother had mellowed out quite a bit, especially in the last few weeks with Shuichi around, he still wasn't much of a public affection type of a person and likely would never be, though if Shuichi had anything to say about it, it seemed...
It was strange though, she had to admit, that Shuichi had a habit almost as bad as Yoji of wearing glasses of some kind every time they went anywhere even vaguely public. Granted, she knew nothing about what type of work he did; only Ran knew that; she knew that it was his dream and it provided him with a nice income - and it had allowed him to meet and become friends with Sakuma Ryuichi. She hid her grin behind her menu; the famous singer had been to visit them at the Koneko a time or two following Shuichi. Ryuichi and Kumagorou, she mentally corrected herself. I'd be in big trouble if he knew I forgot Kumagorou.
"What are you grinning about, Aya-chan?"
She turned her grin on Shuichi, who was watching her from his seat next to her brother and across the table from her. His blue eyes looked even darker hidden behind the lightly purple-tinted glasses he wore, but they looked mischievous and she couldn't help returning the look. "Probably nothing like whatever you're thinking, Shuichi-nii."
"Ooh, that hurt, Aya-chan," he teased, covering his heart overdramatically.
"Not yet," she shot back, earning herself a bigger grin from the pink-haired young man and a small chuckle from her elder brother. "I wonder where Ken-nii took Omi-nii?"
"Who knows?" Ran's voice sounded almost... wistful, she noticed. It also did not escape her notice how her brother's hand seemed to wrap around Shuichi's of its own will, but she held back her look of pleasure this time.
"You know, guys, I think we were supposed to have had a waiter come by by now," she began, rising in her chair. "I'm going to-"
A tall, darkly-clad figure collided abruptly with the chair she'd so recently vacated, pushing it into the back of her knees and upsetting her balance, already precarious in heels. Her hands slammed down on the table, and Shuichi and Ran both jumped to their feet and grabbed her shoulders to balance her.
"Watch it!" a cold voice snapped.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Shuichi go pale, white enough to make Ran look as tan as Ken; her brother, on the other hand, had pulled the Glare of Painful Death out of retirement, the legendary Fujimiya temper emerging. "You watch where you're going!" he returned.
"Well, if she wants me to walk all over her, then-"
"Well, if you're too blind to see me standing here-!" Aya jumped in.
"Well-" the blond started.
"Leave her alone, Yuki!"
Three sets of incredulous eyes turned on the pink-haired young man as his voice echoed through the suddenly silent restaurant. "Shuichi?" two voices asked in tandem, one filled with concern and the other undisguised shock. Ran released her to put a reassuring arm around the young man's waist and pull him against the redhead's body.
Aya's first thoughts and reactions weren't so nice. She whirled on the blond, looking up - way up - at him and all but screamed, "You're Yuki?!" She blinked, finally placing where she'd seen him before. "Yuki Eiri, the writer?" Shuichi-nii does know a lot of famous people. Yuki Eiri, only the most famous author alive now. Still, that's no excuse! "How could you be so mean to Shuichi-nii?" she yelled, taking another step closer to the author, nearer than she would have even considered if she hadn't been so angry.
"'Shuichi-nii'?" Yuki echoed, looking up at the couple across the table.
A young woman with long dark brown hair, Aya's age or at least in the vicinity thereof, stepped up to the blond's side. "Eiri-san" She gently touched his arm, looking up at him with wide eyes. "What's-" Her voice trailed off as she looked where - or rather at whom - he was staring. "Shindou-san?"
Shaded blue eyes looked up at her for a moment, and he softly replied, "Ayaka-chan."
Aya opened her mouth to launch into another tirade when she very faintly heard Shuichi whispering something very softly to her big brother. She snatched her jacket up off the back of her chair and resisted the urge to stomp on someone's foot as she circled the table.
"Why don't we call it a night, Shuichi-nii, aniki?" she asked. "Let's head back home, okay?"
"But... your party," the pink haired young man began.
Ran nodded. "We promised to take you out to celebrate your graduation." His violet glare turned onto Yuki for a long moment, promising pain and great suffering if he so much as looked at Shuichi the wrong way.
A frown flitted across her face. "Well, I don't want to stay here. Make it up to me another time. Not tonight."
Shuichi nodded slightly as they turned to head back out of the restaurant. "Another time."
* * * * *
"'Another time' did not mean the very next day, Shu-nii!" she cried as loudly as she could. Yoji rolled his eyes, going back to watering the roses. Omi was trying to look curious without being nosy about the contents of the envelope in her hand; Ken on the other hand was flat-out trying to crawl over her shoulder to see it.
"Just go ahead and open it, Aya-chan. And happy graduation," he replied with an impossibly large grin. "I'm gonna go scold Ran out here." He took off down the hall towards the stairs.
She stared after him for a moment then, noticing Omi about to start bouncing behind the counter, tore the envelope open. Five green tickets sat innocently in the paper. She lifted the one in front out of the envelope and read the print on it aloud. "Bad Luck, live at the Zepp Tokyo. Five front row seats!" She pulled out a small sheet of paper out. "One for me, one for Omi-nii, one for Ken-nii, one for Yoji-nii, and one for... Yoji-nii to bring a date...?"
"They're already looking for us," Ran answered, appearing through the doorway. Shuichi was glomped onto his back, with no apparent intention of letting go anytime soon.
"We'll meet you there!" Shuichi declared.
* * * * *
"Front row seats and everything," Aya mused aloud, inspecting her reserved spot.
"Shindou-kun really went out of his way for you this time, didn't he, Aya-chan?" Ken asked, elbowing her teasingly.
She blushed slightly and elbowed him back before looking around their little group. "Where's Ran-nii and Shuichi-nii?"
Ken opened his mouth to answer when a nasal voice cut in, "Ran's on his way, and Shuichi is... in search of sugary caffeinated beverages."
She and Omi let out a groan at the rather frightening thought of a naturally hyper Shuichi on a sugar high; Ken just stared at the redhead in shock as he and Yoji sank down to sprawl in the same chair. "W-what's he doing here?"
"Shuichi told me to bring a date," Yoji replied.
"I'm sure this wasn't what he meant," Ran's deep voice cut in. He looked a lot less than happy as he stared down at the two in the chair.
"Where's Shuichi-nii?" Aya asked, looking around.
"He'll be here any minute now. Now, Yoji -"
The stage went dark, then two spotlights kicked in on a young man at the keyboards and another on an electric guitar as the opening rifts of a song. Then without warning, pink flashed as Shuichi slid onto the stage to grab the microphone.
* * * * *
The bell jingled at the Koneko in that very distinctive manner that said-
And he was hyper at that.
Yoji didn't even look up from the arrangement he was working on; he merely jerked a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the storeroom. "Back there working on orders."
"Doomo, Yoji-san!" Before he could be corrected again ("Don't call me '-san;' it makes me feel old!"), Shuichi raced into the backroom, calling, "Ran!" as he went; he felt more than vaguely proud for making the yell last the entire time.
The redhead looked up just in time to get glomped. The stool he'd been sitting on toppled, and they collapsed to the floor.
Wincing at the new soreness in his back that would likely turn into bruises, Ran muttered, "I missed you too, Shuichi."
"Guess what?! The new single's out! And Seguchi-san says we may break the Top Ten when this one debuts! And-"
His lover cut off the rest of his good news the simplest way possible: a soft pair of lips covering his own.
* * * * *
"Number four debut!" Hiro cheered, toasting his glass against Ken's. At the moment, Omi was working his way into too drunk to care about the rashness of his decision on having the celebration party in the flower shop. At least Shuichi was too busy cuddling on Ran to cause too much trouble.
"Tokyo Bay Music Fes, here comes Bad Luck!"
Or he could be wrong...
Yeah, chasing after it, chasing after it, that white wind,
Yeah, wanna become love, wanna become love, spread out my wings,
Yeah, all the good things, all the bad things, put them all together,
Divide them up between us, do a good job of living, unbound by time...
First Draft: 11 December 2001
Thank you though to my pre-readers. *big wave to Tro-kun* Gomen for the repeated Tro-nappings; we need to take the muses out again sometime soon. *huggles Tenshi-hime* Thank you for hearing me out and putting up with my sorry ass self.
E-mail to Eternal SailorM!