After thinking back on Aizawa’s attack, Shuichi comes to a decision. (Takes place during Track 13.)
What if Shuichi had loved him? Would he have been able to deal with it? Would he have been the one to run away? And maybe Yuki would be the one here, without a voice yet begging him to come back.
Shuichi sat on a bench in the park, gazing at the bright lights of Tokyo. He shivered a bit as a cold breeze blew past him, making his hairs stand on end. He tried to cough and once again no sound came out.
Of course Yuki wouldn't be here. Yuki would never beg. He wouldn't even ask for anything. He didn't need anything.
He didn't need him.
Shuichi felt the beginnings of a tear in his eye but bit his lip and held it back. No, he couldn't do this now. It was too easy - he'd lost both of the things he loved. If he gave in to sadness ... well then what? It wouldn't help, after all.
He hugged his knees to his chest and once again let his mind wander to the man in the picture Yuki showed him. Kitazawa Yuki. The man who Yuki had loved. The man who betrayed him. The man who he killed.
Shuichi rested his head on his knees. He remembered the brief period of time when he could have seen himself in that position. He remembered dreams he had of hurting his own attackers, nightmares where he ripped off their dicks or chomped their hands off at the wrist. When Shuichi woke up the next day he swore he could taste the blood and bones in his mouth. He felt a bit sick to his stomach at the memory.
Hiro had told him it was normal to feel that way, healthy even. But it wasn't in Shuichi to want to hate. Even now he didn't hate Ai ... what was his name? Droopy eyes? Aizawa Taki. Shuichi smiled. Strange that he kept forgetting his name. Maybe a part of him didn't want to remember it?
At any rate no, he didn't hate Aizawa. In fact, he didn't feel anything for Aizawa. But it was different for Yuki. It would always be different.
He remembered more of that night than he liked to admit. Remembered being held down and hit as those men forced their hands inside him, forced his mouth and body open. Shuichi remembered struggling until they put a gun to his head. He remembered concentrating on the next camera flash so he wouldn't have to think about what was happening to him.
But it was okay, wasn't it? After all, he chose it. If it was him or Yuki they could have taken him. He said that at the time and he still meant it. And he didn't regret his decision. Oh, he regretted going with Aizawa. He regretted drinking so much. But if he had to relive that moment over again, he wouldn't have said anything different.
Yet he hoped he would have tried harder to get away.
When he came to Hiro that night, his clothes torn and dirty, his body sore and painful, his best friend dressed his wounds and assured Shuichi that he did everything he could, that it wasn't his fault. Hiro whispered those words over and over as they sat on his bed together, Shuichi crying into his shoulder as they hugged for hours. Shuichi felt a little guilty for that. He loved Hiro. He would always be grateful for what he did for him that night. Yet at the time he desperately wanted Hiro's arms to be Yuki's, wanted it to be Yuki's voice soothing him.
He read later that raped men usually fear sex for a long time after their attack. Not him. It just made him want Yuki back even more, as if Yuki's touch could somehow burn theirs away and make him pure. He guessed it was strange. Yuki wasn't a gentle lover. Yuki was forceful and strong: biting, clawing, fucking. But Shuichi loved it, loved being pushed onto the bed and having his limbs held down as Yuki fucked him or sucked his dick or, if he was in an incredibly generous mood, rode Shuichi's cock himself. He loved the force then, loved giving himself up fully. Because it was different, because Shuichi knew Yuki would never really hurt him, at least physically. He could see the sweetness beneath when Yuki would let slip a smile or an affectionate glance; it melted his heart. No. Sex with someone you loved was nothing like that. He pitied people who saw it that way.
But maybe it explained the dress. It had been hard for him to look in the mirror after the attack. Maybe that was why he had convinced himself that Yuki wanted a woman; that someone like Ayaka really would make him happier. He didn't feel fully comfortable in that sailor dress, but when he heard that Yuki had threatened Droopy Eyes the idea of being a girl got easier. Like Yuki was some sort of golden prince defending him. He remembered feeling shattered when Yuki just glared at him and walked away. The wall between them still stood; his prince was gone.
When he woke up later, when Yuki told him that he would leave, why did he do it? Did he still want that cleansing fire? Did he hold out a hope that Yuki would take him back? Or maybe he really was ready to say good-bye? He felt shameful and numb as they fell onto the bed, Yuki ripping off his costume and taking him for what Shuichi was sure would be the last time. He remembered trying to concentrate on every feeling, trying to savor every last moment. His focus was so strong that he didn't realize that was the most affectionate Yuki had ever been to him. He made no demands, no insults, was never forceful. Just slow, affectionate sex. Making love.
Maybe it was a form of apology or a sign of understanding, but it wasn't the end, at least not yet. Shuichi had gotten him back, though that wasn't very easy either. It had shocked him; maybe even hurt him a bit to learn what Yuki had done. But it didn't stop how he felt. They'd moved back in together (although not without protest from Yuki), but Aizawa had come for him again.
Shuichi smiled triumphantly to himself as he remembered that night. Aizawa ranted and raved like some sort of manga villain about how he was going to hurt Yuki, about how he would bring him down and ASK would be the best. And over what? Music? Aizawa did all those horrible things to him over music? Looking down at his "sempai" Shuichi realized how small he was, a childhood bully with too much money. After that night the dreams stopped.
But for Yuki ... Shuichi hung his head. For Yuki the nightmare must have started all over again. He hadn't quite known how to handle seeing Yuki cry, tried to soothe him with touches and affectionate words. Some things worked better than others. No matter. Yuki had recovered. They'd gone on to share the announcement of their love to the world, gone on to share their first date.
Shuichi's chest felt tight. It was after that date ... that magical, wonderful, perfect date that Yuki told him the rest of the story, told him about Kitazawa Yuki.
He closed his eyes and tried to bring up the picture of Kitazawa in his mind: tall, brunet, a kind smile. The Yuki ... no, the Eiri-chan ... in that picture seemed like he lived for that smile. The way Shuichi lived for Yuki's smile now ... that smile so rarely seen. Kitazawa seemed to give his smiles away easily.
Not for the first time, Shuichi wondered what it would have been like to meet that young Eiri. Maybe he could have made things different. Maybe if Shuichi knew Eiri back then he could have helped, could have taken that beautiful blond boy in his arms before the memories hardened him and told him that everything would be okay, that no matter what he would always love him. Or maybe he could go back even further, could have loved him and been his friend before he went to New York. Sometimes these fantasies got even more complicated. He imagined himself walking hand in hand with Eiri to school, eating lunch with him, spending summers together. Sometimes Eiri was even there at band practice, sitting in the back quietly writing while Shuichi wrote and performed songs with Hiro and Mariko.
But it was all a stupid, impossible dream. Shuichi was a hyperactive and self-absorbed twelve-year-old when this happened, jumping on tables during lunch and sleeping through class. He probably wouldn't have been able to deal with Eiri's pain, wouldn't have taken to the shy, bright-eyed boy four years his senior. Maybe he wouldn't have even noticed him.
No, that wasn't true. He still would have noticed him. He still would have fallen in love with him. It would have been impossible not to.
A strange thought occurred to Shuichi. He remembered hearing another gay man once say that homosexual relationships were more equal than heterosexual relationships because a man would always feel like he had to protect a woman and thus never treat her as an equal. What a load of crock. Even though he was younger, weaker, and meeker than Yuki, Shuichi still felt an overwhelming need to protect him. It didn't matter that there would have been no way to do so, that so-called "masculine" instinct was still there, still bred into him even though Yuki was a male.
And maybe that's what made it so much worse. Men were supposed to protect their children, their charges, their friends, their loves. Wasn't that why Hiro had taken Shuichi in when he needed them? Or why he gravitated towards Ayaka, Shuichi's unfortunate rival, comforting her in her time of need? Wasn't that why Ryuichi had joined him on the stage that fateful night? Because maybe he saw something of Shuichi in himself and had taken pity on him? Wasn't that why K-san had done so much for Bad Luck, why he had supported him and Yuki even though they didn't need to have any connection to him besides steps to a higher paycheck? Wasn't that why Tatsuha encouraged Shuichi? Because he wanted to see his older brother happy? Even Touma, who he was so angry at now, had that instinct. Wasn't Touma trying to force them apart because he, too, wanted to protect Yuki?
If Aizawa hurt him, it was one wolf turned against another, some sick ploy for dominance. Maybe he even saw it as a way of protecting ASK, of protecting his pack. But Kitazawa Yuki had attacked his cub. He'd turned on the person he was supposed to protect. And Yuki ... Eiri had loved him. Eiri had wanted the kisses that Shuichi now wanted so desperately. And Kitazawa had repaid his affection by ... Shuichi felt his hands curl into fists. He would have shot him, too. He would shoot him now. Kitazawa was a sick man, a rabid wolf picking on the weak. No, if he met him he would do more than shoot him, if he met him ...
Shuichi stopped himself. Kitazawa Yuki was dead and buried. Even his corpse was nowhere nearby. And yet he wasn't dead. Not really. Yuki remembered him. Touma and Mika remembered him. He was alive in their minds, still poisoning their hearts.
Shuichi took another look over Tokyo, over his city, his home. Then he looked beyond the city, turned his eyes to the sky. He thought about how Ryuichi had told him to sparkle. Ryuichi. He was no longer his idol, but now another friend, another man in his life looking out for him. Like his father, like Hiro, like Tatsuha, like K-san. Maybe even like Suguru and Sakano. It was because of them that he didn't fall, because of them that he sparkled. They were the true stars in his sky. But he couldn't do it without his brightest star.
A brisk wind blew past Shuichi, cooling and comforting him. He picked up a marker and started to write.
He was going to take Yuki back into his sky, rise him up with the others, and be for him who they had always been. Shuichi would get him back. He wouldn't let him run away again. No matter where Yuki went he would follow. He would keep back Kitazawa like he kept back Aizawa. He wouldn't let Yuki go.
He would protect his mate.