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A Little Madness

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A Little Madness by HRT

-oOo-

Breakfast in Eiri Yuki's apartment was, for once, much too silent. Shuichi was brooding over reheated udon. The writer was nursing a hangover with a beer and cigarettes.

Eiri didn't usually drink this early, but felt the need today. Old memories had been trying to surface, and Yuki and his subconscious were not on speaking terms.

Shuichi's troubled eyes followed each sip of beer. “Are you sure you'll be okay, Yuki?”

Eiri stubbed out his half-smoked cigarette and promptly lit another one. “Fuck, yeah. I just have another deadline.” He blew out a cloud, his face the picture of indifference.

“Don't drink too much today.”

“Don't lecture me,” Eiri replied flatly.

Shuichi paused. Then he twirled his chopsticks, drew together a large blob of udon, and presented it to Yuki, dripping broth everywhere.

Eiri stared. “What?”

Shuichi didn't speak. To Yuki, there was something pathetic about the boyish face across from him. Shuichi was half in drag, cakey kohl around his eyes like black magic marker, with overdrawn lipstick creeping towards his nostrils and chin. Yet, there was something alluring about it, too. The misery and the makeup worked together to make the boy’s teenage masculinity somehow more exquisite.

Like an infant, Eiri found his mouth opening. He bit into the blob and ate it, wondering how Shuichi always managed to persuade him into doing things he didn't want to. He was hungry, he realized with surprise.

“I don't want the rest. You can finish it.”

“Beer has lots of calories,” said Eiri indifferently.

“Please don't starve, Yuki.”

“Shit!” Eiri stabbed out another cigarette. “Go to work, Shu.”

But when the door shut, Eiri flinched at the noise. It was far too quiet without Shuichi. He sat there without moving for nearly an hour. Finally, he roused himself and began to type on his laptop, stealing from his life for his material, as usual.

-oOo-

The man sitting on the couch stubbed out a cigarette, watching the sleeping boy lying beside him.

The boy had fallen asleep about an hour ago, and was wearing a terrycloth bathrobe. The untied sash of the bathrobe trailed along the floor. Something about the sight made the man think of a geisha. The white sash seemed to invite him, whispering that it could be picked up, and used to tie knots around wrists and ankles. He could then shift the bathrobe aside at leisure, and probe and explore.

He still did not know the body under the robe very well. Their affair, due to the boy’s naivete and squeamishness, and the man’s emotional coldness, had been confined more to the basics of sex than lovemaking. Too often, they engaged in a rough grab-and-tangle, still mostly dressed.

The man did not mind this. He was straightforward enough to admit that he liked having a toy instead of a lover. It was the inequalities that fascinated him. He found immense sexual pleasure in being able to shove the boy down and watch him flinch, half-scared and intimidated, but still gripped by the spell of a crude fuck. Maybe it was the predator’s instinct, the pleasure in a fast catch-and-rip, but the man loved it.

The man looked at the sleeping boy again, and thought, yes. He pulled the sash through the loops, rousing a sleepy noise from the boy. But the boy did not wake. Very quietly, the man made the circle, softly, cautiously, right around the two slender wrists lying snuggled near the boy’s sleeping face.

A quick, tightening jerk.

And the boy’s eyes snapped open, afraid.

The man sat back and lit another cigarette while he watched the dazed boy try to figure out what was going on. The man smiled, and reflected some more. He loved this, the flavor of terror and submission. Often, he stepped into the bedroom while the boy was dressing. A shirttail not yet tucked in, buttons undone. A few snide remarks about the boy’s taste in clothes, while jerking at the material. The man liked the little flash of pain on the young face. It aroused the man, and he would throw the boy on the mattress for another session.

He liked to catch the boy saying something stupid, and to make an insulting correction. Often, the boy would cry.

This would only make the man smile more. He could then play comforter, stroking the boy’s hair, kissing his lips, telling the boy that if he would only listen and obey, instead of trying to think for himself, he would be happy.

Now, watching his victim, the man spoke.

Lie on your back. I want you to watch me.”

A moment of stillness, then a slow, reluctant roll over. A pubescent body was bared, the robe falling open to expose everything. The man petted the silky length like he would a cat, and even here, he felt a tremor of fear, a wild beating in the veins. The man smiled, and snaked two fingers in the soft hairs. With no warning, he yanked one out.

The boy stifled a cry.

Good,” said the man. “You did well. You don’t cry out anymore when I hurt you.”

He held up the bottle of whiskey he’d been drinking. “You know how you like it,” the man continued, “hard as steel, and stiff.” He ran a tongue over the bottle neck to moisten it. “But I’m a little tired today. I think I’ll let old Jack Daniels have you instead. Spread those legs apart.”

The boy’s eyes widened in terror as the bottle approached his body. But he obeyed, grimacing at the feeling of cold glass screwing itself inside him.

The boy always obeyed until the day the man bought a gun.

That was the day Yuki Kitazawa died.

-oOo-

Eiri screamed and threw himself away from his laptop. His chair clattered over. He didn't remember typing these words while his hands moved over the keys. He hadn't remembered Kitazawa doing this to him.

Until now.

The recollection spun round and round, until Eiri halted it—by flicking his lighter open, and burning his finger until the memory ceased.

-oOo-

Shuichi noticed, of course.

“Burner accident. I tried to make more udon.”

“Are you sure you don't need a doctor?”

“It's trivial.” The pain was strong enough to distract him, which was his goal. With luck, it would hurt for a week.

Shuichi made a face. “Did something happen today, Eiri?”

“No. I just didn't get any fucking work done.”

The next day he tried writing again, his burned pinky raised awkwardly. Even in his madness, he'd been careful to choose a finger he didn't need to use often for typing.

-oOo-

Do you know what I thought of you at first, Shuichi? Do you think I fell in love with you at first sight?

Bullshit.

You were a stray. A little dog at my front door, coming by to stare at it persistently day after day with begging eyes.

Okay, I’m a bastard, but not a monster. There is a difference. Stupidly, I opened the door a time or two, and like any stray, you kept trying to move in.

Tohma keeps telling me to get rid of you. “Think of the burden, the responsibility.”

Tohma, I don’t have any responsibilities. I’m completely selfish. What I do, I do by choice. I kill myself writing because I want to. Nobody forces me to do it. I’m rich enough to retire right now.

Also, my psychiatrist insists that pets are good for shut-ins.

-oOo-

Destruction.

You don’t know it, Shuichi, but that’s the theme of our relationship.

There’s a karmic fit to us that worries me. I create, you destroy. I’m a writer, you’re the wrecker of my possessions, of my psyche. Yet you also create through your music, and I tear down your ego to piss you off. Which is often, I admit, but other people don’t have to live with you.

You see, I don’t want to say goodbye to an old friend. This friend avoids all introspection, and the moment he starts to think about himself, he becomes X, or Y, or Z, or any other character in his novels. Most of the time he’s quite successful at not thinking about himself at all. But he has to wake at some point, and it’s always a bad time when he does. So he drinks hard and hits the clubs for women. Women, especially those high-maintenance divas of celebrity, use up a satisfactory amount of his mental time. They call and nag, want expensive presents, dinners out, constant attention, a thousand flashbulbs and reporters' pens, the society columns of the newspapers and magazines so they can brag about dating Eiri Yuki, and the tabloids to shriek at when he dumps them.

Sometimes there’s an interruption. Maybe he’s a little too drunk, maybe he’s had one diva too many. So he makes a mistake, and picks up a man.

These end up in the wrong apartment, the wrong way. When he wakes up, he’s face down on the mattress, a soggy chew-rag of pillow in his mouth. His legs are splayed, and he’s lying in gluey fluids from his chest to his knees, leaking more fluid out his ass. He can feel the weight of a body with hair like bristles, and he has no memory of the other face at all. His head hurts, his hands have gone to sleep from the restraints tied around his wrists to the bedposts, and he’s nauseous from the smell of his own vomit. This is very bad, because he more than once woke up like this with Kitazawa.

Destruction? Hell, it’s the theme of every relationship he’s ever had.

My life is a beautifully crafted Mobius strip of oblivion, with just one surface.

What amazes me most is how you remain wholesome, no matter what or who tries to corrupt you or destroy you. But I’m experienced enough to know that even you can be worn down to a bitter edge, because anyone can. The music business alone will do that to you, given enough time. Do you think Nittle Grasper broke up because they had nothing else to do? Yes, Ryuichi Sakuma is unchanged, but Tohma, you don’t know what happened to Tohma. Nittle Grasper changed Tohma the way Kitazawa changed me. He used to try to make the best music, not the conniving trash that sold best. He helped other musicians instead of discarding them, if they didn’t suit his purposes.

Shuichi, the possessiveness that Tohma feels for me, which always enrages you, is the last vestige of Seguchi’s altruism. I let Tohma do it, because I don’t want to see the last piece of the man I used to love disappear completely.

Do you know what I hate the most? Though Tohma and I have changed into bastards, he still loves me, and I’m not noble enough to return the feeling anymore.

I hate having it proved to me that an asshole like Tohma is still a better man, and a less damaged one, than myself.

Shuichi, you want love and devotion from me. I’m afraid to feel them. Then again, what do I feel? You’re still here, so part of me must be attracted to you. The hidden part comes out every once in a while. It appears in bed when I’m half-gone from desire, or that time I heard about Aizawa’s attack.

So the arrival of you, Shuichi, scares the shit out of me. You don’t make us a pair, but a threesome. Kitazawa crawls out of his hole from time to time, but I think I have him shut away for the moment.

-oOo-

“Did you get any writing done today, Yuki?”

“Yes. I just have to change the names. I don't like the ones I've been using.”

The phone rang, and Shuichi answered it.

“Shuichi, this is Tatsuha at the temple. It’s an absolute disaster here.”

Quickly, the singer switched on the speaker phone so Yuki could hear as well. “What's happened?”

“Dad grounded me! He thinks I had something to do with breaking up your engagement to Ayaka, and he's punishing me by making me clean all the flagstones with a Q-Tip held between my teeth! I’ve got fifteen girlfriends leaving me phone messages and crying because they can’t have my body for a month.”

“So fuck them in the girl’s bathroom between your classes,” called Yuki in the direction of the speaker. “That’s what I always did.”

Shuichi scowled at the writer. “Tatsuha, if you can manage to run away, we’ll put you up.”

“What the hell do you mean ‘we?’ You don’t even LIVE here,” Yuki shouted.

Tatsuha’s voice groaned. “Are you two still having that stupid problem? You’d better make up with Shuichi, bro.”

“I am NOT going to let this boy move in with me just because you want him to,” Yuki yelled at the speaker. “I’ve never agreed to it!”

“Then you'd better think of what to say to Dad. He's going to Tokyo to see you. He still has no clue about Shuichi.”

“Oh, shit. I'm going to have to tell him.”

-oOo-

The next day Eiri tried to write again. He was a little drunk, counting the hours until his father's arrival. Over in the corner of the living room was a drum kit with a trio of amplifiers and a mike stand, and he wondered how the hell Shuichi had snuck the equipment into his apartment without his noticing. He wasn't that inobservant--or that drunk. Dammit, Shuichi didn't even live here, and he was already trying to turn the place into a rehearsal studio. He'd have to have a word with Shu when the singer came home for supper tonight.

He was running down the alley, feeling his bare feet stepping on broken glass and filth. He was naked except for Tohma's coat, and he was holding it around himself like a straightjacket. Tohma was helping him run, holding him upright, looking back at the dead body of Eiri Yuki's first lover.

He didn't remember what happened after that, except for K's grim face at the wheel of the rental limo, and Ryuichi's panic at the gun Tohma held. Ever-practical, Tohma had meticulously wiped fingerprints off it and thrown the weapon in the Hudson while K stopped on a bridge.

He does remember lying on the too-short table in Tohma's hotel room, and the hastily summoned doctor who stitched up his injuries.

Worst of all, he remembered lighting up a cigarette, taking the first drag of his life and making a crude joke about sex. He'd grinned at his brother-in-law's dismay and laughed a whore's laugh as the doctor probed his body. He'd propositioned the doctor. He'd propositioned Tohma in the coarsest terms, and Tohma had stepped back, shocked at the maniacal change in personality.

The boy known as Eiri Uesugi had died on that table, and out of his shell Eiri Yuki was born.

The doorbell rang. Eiri spilled his beer, despite himself. He was a very careful non-spiller of beers even when drunk.

He opened the door, hoping he wouldn't have to open it soon after for the police.

-oOo-

“I see you want to disgrace the family, ruin the temple, and humiliate me,” Uesugi-san said.

Eiri was kneeling in the center of his living room, his palms resting on his thighs, his back rigid with attention. If eyes could bore holes, the floor would be a blazing crater. His father had been yelling for almost an hour now. He yearned for a cigarette, wanting to smoke it callously in his father’s face.

/Talk away, asshole. You’ve always been an expert at emotional blackmail./

Then again, Eiri wasn’t sure how long he could stand this. He could see his father’s sandals pacing out of the corner of an eye. Was the old man going to kick him? The restless steps, the shifting from foot to foot, seemed to promise it. The sandaled feet kept coming closer, stepping away, then approaching again.

“I don't give a damn,” Eiri replied in a monotone. He was trying to conjure the uncaring, cruel bastard Kitazawa had created.

The sandaled feet stopped pacing. “Stand up,” the old man commanded.

Eiri did so, and found himself facing pure choler, a red mask held only an inch away. For almost a full minute, his father faced him without a word.

Eiri knew it was almost a minute, because he was counting the ticks that came from the wall clock. The writer was struggling for every ounce of Buddhist calm he’d ever learned to keep from exploding. Was that what the old man wanted? To create an—‘incident?’ To be thrown out? Eiri could see it in his mind. The outraged old man stumbling down the stairs, shouting as he was ejected. The neighbors spilling out of the other apartments, calling the police. There would be newspaper articles and TV spots, shocked because Eiri Yuki had brawled with his own father.

Eiri couldn’t tell if this was logic or paranoia.

“What are you complaining about?” the writer sneered. “You know I never gave a fuck about her.”

The next second, Eiri was staggering aside. His shins struck the edge of his coffee table, and he knocked the heavy maple slab askew. When he caught his balance on his bruised legs, he fingered the hot burn on his cheek. His father had slapped him.

The writer’s hand lifted jerkily to strike his father in reply, then froze.

The old man stayed still. His eyes did not even bother to track the sudden wild motion of his son’s hand.

/DAMN him! He’s daring me to hit him back!/

“I do not understand those who betray their honor,” Uesugi-san replied in tones of acid ice.

Eiri turned away. “I didn’t betray my honor, either.”

“Yes, you did. You promised to marry Ayaka, then you betrayed her. Why did you promise to marry her if you didn’t love her?” the old man shouted suddenly. “Whatever you think of my behavior, I never became engaged to a woman only to dump her for the first empty orifice to come along afterwards!”

/I can’t explain/, thought Eiri dully. After Kitazawa, Ayaka had been the only girl to rouse what slight residue of chivalry remained inside him. Eiri had hoped that by marrying Ayaka, she would scour the monster out of his soul, like ocean waves gradually smoothing sand, a gentle, but relentless cleansing. But he hadn’t loved her.

“I only promised to marry Ayaka to please you,” the writer retorted. “Besides, she has tits as flat as a board.”

This time, Eiri hit the floor. He landed flat on his chin, his nose stinging from the impact with the tatami. When he could, he raised himself up on all fours, realizing his father had slapped the other cheek. /I’m running out of cheeks. What’s next, a fist to the gut?/

“Ayaka has known you all your life, been your loyal friend, and that is the only thing you can say about her?” Uesugi-san roared.

Eiri couldn’t reply. Shame was raging through him. Gradually he sat up, then came to his feet again.

/I can’t hit him back. I can’t get the police involved. I can’t throw him out. I can’t do anything./

“Your selfishness is unbelievable,” the old man continued. “You learned far too much from Kitazawa-san.”

Eiri’s control came apart, sudden as the tearing of a worn seam. “Dammit, don’t you dare mention him! You’re the one who sent him to tutor me. You have no right to use him against me,” the writer snarled. He was trembling. He felt spasms in his arms muscles, yearning to take a swing.

The old man’s face showed no emotion. “I have the right to mention Kitazawa if I can save another innocent. How many others have you seduced, corrupted, and abused the way he did?”

The only sound that came from Eiri’s mouth was a sick convulsive noise. He stumbled backwards, and the words flew through his mind, like an endless loop. /Shuichi. Shuichi Shuichi—/.

The apartment door unlocked and flew open.

“Hi, honey!” Shuichi screeched, bounding inside the apartment and ricocheting off the furniture like a superball. “I’m home! Woo-hoo!”

Eiri was too shaken to reply.

“Come on in guys!” Shuichi screamed. He threw his hands up and cartwheeled around the floor, yelling, “It's time to celebrate!”

A scream of feedback came from a Stratocaster as Hiro plugged into an amplifier. He drowned out the noise of Uesugi-san's voice.

“Sorry,” yelled Hiro to Eiri. “This is your surprise party. Shuichi wanted the band to perform.”

The warble of keyboards joined the squeal as Suguru joined them, and Shuichi's tapping on his microphone sounded like sonic booms.

“Look, Yuki-san!” Ryuichi called. He and Noriko were carrying in a cake between them, a three-tiered wedding cake. It was absolutely, undeniably, a wedding cake, frosted white and decorated with pink roses and filigree. Right on top were two custom-made candles in the shape of a pair of men, namely Shuichi and Yuki.

Uesugi-san was staring at it.

Tohma followed with a pair of champagne bottles. “My presence was requested,” he said half-apologetically. “Nittle Grasper's playing after Bad Luck. Do you have a corkscrew?”

Shuichi bounded after the cake into the kitchen. “Yuki! I'm lighting the candles! Do you want to cut the first slice?”

Eiri could not reply, though his mouth moved.

Gunfire broke out amid the squalling of the guitar. “Happy--” K started to shout. His eye landed on Uesugi-san. “--whatever it is!” The bullets of a Glock chipped the walls and went through the ceiling.

“Oops,” said K. “You don't have neighbors, do you?”

“I used to,” snapped Eiri. “Fuck. Now I need to see if they're still alive.”

“I'll do it,” Noriko said lightheartedly. She too, had noticed the monk.

Shuichi was peeking out of the kitchen at Uesugi-san, having noticed the monk too late. He mouthed words at Eiri. Have you told him yet?

Eiri's hell no, was quite plain.

Ryuichi jumped up on the coffee table. “Let's dance! Kumagoro wants everyone to hop like bunnies. Make ears, everyone!” He put his fingers over his ears and began to hop. Shuichi and K joined in. Over at their instruments, Hiro and Suguro began to bounce as they played.

Uesugi-san was staring at all the squatting and hopping, incredulous. Manfully, Tohma skipped over with a glass of champagne for the monk. “Care for a drink?”

“What is the occasion?” asked the monk. His voice was like ice.

“Er.”

“IT'S THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF YUKI AND SHUICHI!” Ryuichi called from the top of the coffee table. The overloud microphone must have blasted the news into the next block.

The old man turned and stared at his son, his face impassive. Eiri tried to turn away, but he caught the venomous words nonetheless. “A nationally-known homosexual. How disgusting.”

The old monks’ words almost made his son flinch.

Almost.

“Do you want this affair to become public?” Uesugi-san asked. The old man stepped in front of his son, blocking out the sight of the partiers. “Shuichi's life and his career would be ruined. Do you want the whole country jeering at him, humiliating him, and casting slurs on his masculinity? Do you want him to endure that? Have you never thought of the danger you are to him?”

“Damn it! Are you trying to blackmail me?” Eiri's blood pressure was rising dangerously.

“Everyone upstairs is still alive,” Noriko called out as she re-entered the apartment. “What are we doing? Okay.” She leapt about the room and goosed Uesugi-san as she passed by. The old monk sprang into the air.

Shuichi gathered his nerve and kissed his boyfriend.

Eiri reddened. The pressure inside the writer was obviously building to the point of explosion.

Though still hopping, everyone had an ear half-cocked for a Yuki Yell of All of You Get OUT!

“Eiri?! Eiri!” shouted Uesugi-san.

Yuki stood paralyzed.

“E--i--r--i!” the old man shrieked.

Shuichi jumped on the coffee table and began to dance.

It was then that the most bizarre thing happened. Eiri Yuki tossed aside his cigarette, undid his shirt buttons, and leapt on top of the coffee table to join Shuichi, nudging Ryuichi aside. He too, began to dance. His motions were a little awkward, but they were undeniably obscene. He joined crotch to crotch with his boyfriend, and shimmied away.

A smile of incredulity crossed Shuichi's face.

-oOo-

Eiri lost track of the rest of the evening after that. People kept giving him champagne. He knew that his father disappeared at some point. At some undefined later time he was swaying over a cake, looking at two candles and hearing Shuichi say, “We melted into a blob together. Isn't that romantic?”

Later yet he woke up. A dozing Shuichi was lying across his stomach, and there was a bunk above his head and beige cinderblock walls around him that weren't his own. Hungover, the writer dug into his pocket for his cell phone. The movement roused Shuichi.

“Mm. Where are we? This isn't our apartment.”

“In jail. Didn't you notice the bars? Seguchi?” he said as the cell phone was answered. “Tell me straight. Did I kill my father?”

“What!?” Shuichi shrieked. He sat up and knocked his head hard on the bunk above him. “Ow!”

“No. He's in Kyoto. Mika drove him home this morning.”

“Thank the Buddha. By the way, we're in chokey. Shuichi and I need bail money.”

“I'd love to help you, Eiri, but unfortunately I'm locked in the cell next to you. So is Ryuichi. It's flattering that they let us keep our cell phones, I suppose.”

“Crap. Did they bust everyone at the party?”

“Pretty much. K took the bulk of the fines for his guns, of course. Tetsuya Ukai has been given the task of coming up with the bail, but it's going to take many hours to gather one million yen. It's a weekend, you know, and the banks are closed. I suggest you make yourself comfortable.”

Shuichi, sitting on Yuki's stomach, was rubbing his head.

“Double fuck. Okay.”

“Yuki?”

“Goodbye, Tohma. I have to talk to Shu. What?” he said to his boyfriend.

“This really sucks, doesn't it? I didn't want to spend our anniversary in jail.”

“Yeah, it fucking sucks.”

Shuichi dug into his pocket and hauled out a frosting-smeared, smashed mass. “I brought along some cake. Happy Anniversary, Yuki.” He held it out to his boyfriend.

There was nothing Eiri loathed more at the moment than the thought of eating that cake, but he found his mouth opening anyway. Shuichi had always been able to make him do things he didn't want to. This was merely another. He took a bite. So did Shuichi. “Happy Anniversary,” said the writer through his crumbs. “Has it really been a year? How the fuck did that happen?”

 

The End