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3. Be Happy
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Reading Time: 27 minutes
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Details
Idol

Yamada Ryosuke

Relationship

Yamada x OC

Ship Name

Yamada Ryosuke x Elliot Meadows

Type

Chaptered Story

Genre

Fluffy, Romance, Slice of Life, Idol Romance

Rating

PG-13 (Strong Language)

Warnings

Animal death, veterinarian situations

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Synopsis

“We have to do something,” Yuri announced, standing up, “Seriously, let’s invite her to the concert tomorrow.”

“Invite who to the concert?” Hikaru asked as he walked up.

“No one.”

“Yama-chan has a girl he likes!”

“Damn it, Chii.”

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Ryosuke had hugged his mother promising that Riku would be perfectly fine while they were gone on their trip. The other animals were simple to board or have a family friend check on—but Riku was aging and his mom was worried enough that she had considered not going on the trip at all so he wouldn’t have to be in the care of others.

He’d offered to take Riku to his house, something he knew would satisfy his mother’s need to have him taken care of by someone who would handle him with the care she demanded. He didn’t keep animals at his home since his schedule was too chaotic so it wouldn’t be fair to the animal despite how much he might love them. Since he would definitely be home for the week they would be gone—he volunteered to take Riku to his house and was looking forward to having an animal around underfoot even if it was temporary.

After having loaded his car up with every kind of paraphernalia possible for a ridiculously small, clearly spoiled dog for a single week’s stay—he stood on the sidewalk with Riku in his arms as his mother said goodbye.

To the dog.

Not him.

He laughed at her, pulling back so he could turn to go when she called out, “Ryo-chan, remember, I tucked the contact information for our vet into the folder with all of the other instructions.”

“Yes, Okaachan, I know,” he called back over his shoulder.

“Wait!” she cried out, causing him to turn around, as she came up to kiss Riku on the top of his head once more, and then she looked at Ryosuke, eyes twinkling, reaching up to fix his hair and then nodding in approval.

“It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,” she smiled.

“What’s that?”

“If you had to take him to the vet…”

“Why’s that?”

“Oh, no reason,” she toyed with him as she couldn’t contain a smile, “Just wear something nice if you do have to take him, and be sure to brush your hair out of your eyes.” She reached up and pushed his hair away again, pulling her hand down to rest on his cheek, “Your eyes are beautiful, you shouldn’t hide them.”

“I’d be going to the vet, Kaachan, not on a date,” he smiled at her gently, working hard to not roll his eyes, knowing that she was just being hopeful, and at least she wasn’t trying to tell him to go on another one of those blind dates she’d recently tried to get him to do.

“I know, I know,” she responded, smiling before putting both hands on the side of his face and drawing him down to kiss his forehead, “I’ll never stop hoping—besides you could meet a nice girl at the vet, someone who likes animals like you do!”

Ryosuke laughed at this, reaching up with his free hand that wasn’t holding Riku, to hold hers to his face, “All of the vets at your practice are well over forty, and none of them are my type so I don’t think your dream will come true even if I did have to take Riku in.”

She laughed then, a mischievous smile on her face as she released him, “Well, you just never know.”

He nodded dismissively and moved to his car, securing Riku in the pet carrier he’d fastened in the passenger seat, waving as he pulled out of the driveway.

Ryosuke adjusted the volume to the radio, speaking softly to Riku next to him, “It’s alright boy, we’ll have a good time, won’t we?”

Riku had settled in nicely, of course it would be nearly impossible for him to not be happy at Ryosuke’s home. He’d already bought so many toys, and treats and goodies for him it was stupid—but he didn’t get to have fun with animals as much anymore and he missed having a pet. The first four days were amazing, coming home throughout the day to check on him when he was able, and then having him curl up in the bed with him at night—it was something he didn’t know how much he missed until now.

He’d wondered if there might be a way he could have a pet, maybe somehow—setting his mind on figuring something out, the fifth day passed and when he’d come home from work he realized something was amiss. Riku’s legs were wobbly and he was favoring one side. When he tried to feed him, he just turned his nose up and walked to the pillow, laying down on it instead of jumping up on the chair where Ryosuke was sitting.

He’d torn the house apart trying to find the envelope with all of the information in it his mom had given him—having just tossed it somewhere without thought since it really didn’t occur to him that anything actually would happen.

Once he found it, he made a call to them and the receptionist told him that the doctor Riku normally saw wasn’t in that day, but that the other doctor was and would be able to work him in if he came right away as they were rapidly approaching closing time.

He’d rushed as quickly as he could to get out of the house over to the vet’s clinic which was surprisingly close to his own home. He must have passed it before, but really hadn’t paid any attention to it. Once he arrived at the clinic they’d shown him to a room right away. The receptionist seemed…forward, a little too flirty for his tastes, and he wondered absently if that was who his mother had been imagining when she said what she had about the vet’s office.

He’d only been in the room a short time before a young girl came in to weigh Riku and take his stats. She was a pleasant sort, quite talkative, and very relaxed with Riku, who had seemed a little apprehensive through the tech taking his vitals and measuring him.

The girl had glanced up at him at one point, staring blankly, and then her mouth formed a perfect circle, “Oh!”

Ryosuke wasn’t sure what it was at first, but then a kind of recognition passed across her face and he realized that she’d just figured out who he was. He laughed, focusing his attention on Riku to keep from having another awkward conversation about his career and stardom.

She didn’t ask any questions, and she also didn’t treat him any different than anyone else would and that was something he found to be really nice. It didn’t happen very often in his life.

She told him that the doctor would be in momentarily and left.

He hadn’t been prepared, not at all…not for the way his stomach twisted up in a knot—and not just a knot but one of those crazy knots sailors could tie that were all intricate and beautiful, yet strong enough to do the hardest work on the boat—one of those kinds of knots. He wasn’t prepared for the way his hands started sweating, and his voice was so small, and the way he could feel all seven layers of his skin like each was alive with a different sensation. He wasn’t prepared for how his ears could hear her breathe from across the room, or the fact that her breath was mingled with the pounding of his heart in those same ears. He wasn’t prepared for how his eyes would burn from not blinking for so long, or for how dizzy he was as the room  went spinning when he stood up as it felt like the axis of the entire world had shifted.

Nothing, not anything he’d experienced so far in life could have possibly prepared him for…her.

“Yama-chan, you okay?” Yuri was snapping his fingers in front of Ryosuke’s face trying to get his attention, “You’re in another world.”

Ryosuke’s head jumped back a bit as he focused on his Yuri’s fingers, then glanced up at him, “I’m fine.”

They were sitting backstage on some crates with a few other members waiting for the sound tech crew to finish up some last-minute tweaks to the sound system so they could do the final dress rehearsal for the show the next day. It was already 8:00 and they were not expecting to get out of there any time before midnight or one o’clock in the morning. Thankfully, the show did not start until the following evening at 7:00.

“You’re definitely not fine,” Yuri insisted, grabbing his crate and scootching it forward to where he could see Ryosuke’s face, “Is something wrong?”

Ryosuke huffed lightly, bringing his fingers up to his temples to rub them, closing his eyes tightly, Keito and Daiki who were sitting close by turned to see what was going on—they’d all noticed that he wasn’t quite himself since they’d arrived and got dressed in their first outfit. He was dazed and unfocused—they kept having to repeat things, and he would apologize, but even the apology wasn’t normal—said absently, without him making eye contact like he was already back into his own mind again before the words had even been spoken.

He was normally very attentive so everyone was naturally a little worried. They’d whispered when he couldn’t hear that maybe it was his back bothering him—as they’d all known that the pain had been aggravated by some of the earlier shows in the tour—and on days when he was struggling with the pain Ryosuke had an edge to him that was missing all the other times. His normally playful attitude was a little dark, his teasing nature a little subdued.

When Ryosuke opened his eyes to look at Yuri he had to laugh, as all three of them were gathered in front of him, their expressions full of expectation that he was going to reveal what was bothering him.

“I had to take Riku to the vet today,” he mumbled, slapping his hands onto his knees, tilting his head to the side to rest on his shoulder.

“Is he sick?” Keito asked, frowning, considering that Ryosuke’s Mom was undoubtedly going to have a conniption fit and possibly never leave her home again if something happened to Riku while she was gone.

“No, he was having some hip pain, he’s going to be fine, though,” Ryosuke answered, closing his eyes again.

“That’s….good right?” Yuri wondered, the words slow as he tried to work through his confusion about how the vet visit was problematic if everything was okay with Riku.

“Sure, sure,” Ryosuke mumbled, lifting his head to roll it to the other side to rest it on that shoulder for a moment.

“Then what’s bothering you? Your back?” Daiki dared to ask.

“My back feels fine, actually,” Ryosuke responded, smiling lightly at having a span of several good days in a row.

“Well, something’s going on,” Yuri spoke flatly, “and you know we’re not leaving you alone until you tell us…”

He waited for Ryosuke to acknowledge him and when he didn’t he continued, “…so the best thing for you to do is to just tell us.”

Ryosuke’s eyes popped open, then narrowed as he looked at Yuri, “I am far more stubborn than you.”

Yuri laughed, joined by the others, “That may be true, but I always win I the end—everyone knows that.”

“Ugh,” Ryosuke grumbled, knowing very well the truth of the statement, “Shut up!”

Yuri didn’t move or change his expression, just waited patiently.

Ryosuke groaned, leaning backward and then pitching forward to rest his elbows on his knees, “Fine, there was a vet…”

“Well, of course there was, you were actually at the vet’s off—“

“Shut the hell up, Dai-chan!” Yuri practically screamed, terrified Ryosuke would decide not to tell them after all, slapping him on the arm with the back of his hand, “Obviously, he knows that…”

Ryosuke grinned, never growing tired of the dynamics in his group and the intricate balance they all supplied, “Anyway, there was a vet, her name is Dr. Meadows, and I just…”

I love her. Oh, my God, Ryosuke, get a damn grip on yourself.

All three of the boys stiffened, holding their breath at what he might be saying.

“Well,” Ryosuke hedged for a moment and then blurted out quickly, “I just can’t stop thinking about her.”

The three boys exploded, jumping up from their crates with whoops and began high-fiving each other and talking excitedly, while Ryosuke just watched them with disdain, waiting until they quieted down, “This right here?” he gestured his arms outward, waving his hands in their direction, “This is exactly why I never tell you guys anything important.”

“Oh, shut up already,” Yuri laughed, plopping down on the crate again, “You can’t possibly think you’re going to tell us you have a girl on your mind and that we aren’t going to be happy—you never, ever talk about ANY girls. Ever.”

“God, why don’t you make me sound more pathetic!”

“We all know the reason,” Daiki supplied, pulling his crate back over after knocking it backwards when he stood up before, “You’re held to different standards than everyone else, but the Jimusho gave us permission over six months ago that we could pursue relationships as long as we are discreet and wait until we’re twenty-four to be seen in public.”

“I mean, you already turned twenty-four, two months ago, and you haven’t even looked,” Keito whispered, flinching and ready to take off running if Ryosuke came at him for saying it out loud.

“I’ve looked.” His tone was far too defensive he knew, but there was nothing to be done about it at this point.

“Magazines and manga don’t count,” Yuri laughed when Ryosuke reached out and punched him the shoulder, hard, making Yuri groan as his rubbed the spot with his hand.

“Shut up!” Ryosuke hissed at him, glaring at the others for good measure.

“Spill it already!” Keito’s voice was excited as he nudged Ryosuke’s foot with his own.

Ryosuke leaned back onto the wall, bringing his hands behind his head, looking up at the dim light in the alcove they’d been hiding out in, “She’s…just…”

He struggled with words, not wanting to say the stupidly cliché things guys always say to explain things about a girl they just met and can’t stop thinking about, “smart.”

The three boys burst out laughing, and Ryosuke couldn’t stop himself from laughing as well, because he knew he’d be thinking the same thing they were right now.

She’s smart. Code word for ‘she’s so hot I would give my left kidney to do her’ and I’m not willing to say the lewd and salacious words I really want to say.

“You idiots,” he grumbled, still laughing, “Fine, damn it, she’s gorgeous, like…the kind of face that you would think is completely wasted by being a vet, as in, she should be a model or something—except she looks like she belongs in that clinic, you know? She’s got these eyes that are so bright, and she’s just…she’s short, right? Like, small and tiny and like so freaking cute, but at the same time, her manner and tone is sexy as hell, and her hands, gah, and I mean, I felt tall next to her, and her hair it’s…it’s almost pink because of this hue that it reflects…and she’s got these dimples when she smiles and she was bold but shy at the same time, and her voice and when I say she’s smart—I mean she’s smarter than all of us put together—including Inoo-chan. She’s brilliant, and Riku loved her, instantly, and you guys know how he is! But he was like ready to go home with her…”

“Sounds like he’s not the only one,” Daiki raised his eyebrows up and down.

Truth.

They laughed at that, and Ryosuke figured he should probably stop them, but it was true—if he were the kind of guy to just hook up with a girl based solely on first impressions—he would totally have wanted to go home with her. 

Honestly, he found most women to be boring—he didn’t mean for it to be like that, he wasn’t some kind of elitist or something.  No, it’s not like he had some kind of unrealistic standard or wanted a ‘perfect’ woman, it’s just that he’d seen so much, done so much, experienced so much…having a woman who wasn’t strong and balanced, and intriguing–someone successful, someone capable, smart, excited about the world around them, well, he couldn’t imagine finding anything to talk about to a woman who wasn’t like that. He’d always daydreamed of himself with someone who was like him, bold when she needed to be, soft on the edges, and ready to explore the world…that’s the kind of woman he’d always seen in his mind’s eye—and that’s the kind of woman Dr. Meadows seemed to be to him from first glance.

It was absolutely true—if he were that kind of guy, he’d sure have wanted to go home with her–in a heart beat–the real concern is that he had a feeling he’d want to stay there forever. That said, he was so far from someone who would do something like that it wasn’t even funny. He’d been raised by his Okaachan to respect girls, and what his mom might have left out—his sisters were always filling in the gaps—or threatening his life. That was apart from the stance that Johnny’s had always taken, and being an idol meant nothing he did was private, ever.

No, he wasn’t that kind of guy, though this was probably the first time he’d ever kind of wished he were—he felt both ashamed and embarrassed at the very thought.

“Maybe,” he admitted, his cheeks turning red which made the other guys stop laughing and look at each other.

“Wait,” Yuri leaned forward, studying his face, his posture, speaking quietly, “You really liked this woman?”

“I don’t know her,” Ryosuke answered flatly.

“Right, but that’s not what I mean, I mean…you really like liked her, like you’d want to get to know her better?”

“Yes,” he knew there was no point in lying, he’d end up telling them everything any way.

“Wow,” Yuri leaned back, looking at Daiki and Keito with wonder, “that’s a first.”

Ryosuke hummed and nodded in agreement, “She didn’t know who I was.”

Yuri’s eyes popped open wide, “She didn’t?”

Ryosuke shook his head, “No, not at all, in fact, one of our songs came on the speakers overhead and I think one of the other employees who recognized me turned it up really loud, but the vet, she didn’t even realize, I could tell.”

“Wow,” Daiki murmured, “That’s crazy!”

“Did you get her number?” Keito asked, still wide eyed from the revelation that she didn’t know who he was—it wasn’t unusual for people to not know one of the other members—but Ryosuke was well known because of his many roles in movies and shows—not just idol work.

Ryosuke shook his head, “I was too nervous, I just…I couldn’t think of what to say and what I did say was so lame—I’m stupidly bad at this.”

“We have to do something,” Yuri announced, standing up, “Seriously, let’s invite her to the concert tomorrow.”

“Invite who to the concert?” Hikaru asked as he walked up.

“No one.”

“Yama-chan has a girl he likes!”

“Damn it, Chii.”

Hikaru’s eyes widened and his mouth popped open as he did a double take, “Yama-chan, you have a girlfriend?”

“No, I do not.” He glared at the others, already done with the conversation.

“It’s a girl he just met, we said he should invite her to the concert tomorrow,” Keito offered.

“That’s not going to happen,” Ryosuke spoke resolutely.

“It sounds like a great idea,” Yuto spoke enthusiastically as he walked up, stopping beside Yuri as he bounced on the balls of his feet in excitement, the other missing band members with him, having heard the end of the conversation.

“God! Guys, no, just no. Absolutely not, she doesn’t even know who I am or anything about me, there’s no way…”

All of his complaints fell on deaf ears as the other members were all talking excitedly and making plans, actually forming a circle in front of Ryosuke—blocking him out of the conversation almost completely. His eyes were bouncing from one of them to the other in disbelief as one outlandish idea was thrown out for consideration after another.

“Okay, okay, we need a name for this operation!” Yuri was so excited over the plans they were making he practically screamed over the top of everyone else.

“I have the perfect name,” Daiki said proudly, everyone growing silent as they waited for him to speak, “Operation Get Yama-chan Laid.”

“That’s it, for fuck’s sake!” Ryosuke jumped up from where he was sitting, kicking the crate back into the wall, “We’re not doing any of this and I sure as hell don’t need your help to get laid. God!”

Everyone was staring at him blankly, when Daiki spoke, breaking the silence, “We can call it ‘Operation Yama-chan Finally Loses His Virginity at Twenty-Four Years Old’ instead, but it seems a little long.”

“Enough!” Ryosuke exclaimed so loudly that Keito actually flinched, pointedly looking at the six other members of the group he knew for a fact were also virgins, narrowing his eyes when they landed on Daiki, and truthfully the other two members he wasn’t entirely sure weren’t also, but never felt like he could ask, “I’m not the only one, you stupid asses, why the hell are all of you so concerned about me anyway.”

“Yama-chan,” Kota stepped forward, putting his hand on his shoulder, “We’re just kidding, seriously, we know that’s not who you are. I’m sorry, we took it too far.”

Daiki started to open his mouth to protest the fact that he certainly was not kidding when Yuri’s elbow slammed into his side so hard it made him gasp for breath.

Ryosuke rolled his eyes, turning to stare at Kota’s eyes for a moment before he nodded, releasing his fingers that had been balled up into a fist.

“But…” Kota continued, “Your happiness is important to us, we’re family, and if there’s something we can do to help you, we’d do it, you know that?”

Ryosuke nodded, of course he knew that, these guys were his brothers and they’d come through for him more times than he could count. He owed them a lot more than he could ever repay them.

“Do you…” he spoke slowly, weighing the words in his mouth before he spoke them, “do you…think that…well, do you suppose she would come if I asked her?”

“There’s only one way to find out.”

“But I mean, I can’t just go ‘hey, I’m a famous idol and you need to come see me perform in front of 50,000 fans so I can see you again’—I wouldn’t even trust me if I said that.”

“Maybe it would be better for her to find out when she arrived? Just make it a nice gesture, versus an invitation to spend time with you?” Kei suggested.

The others agreed and within minutes a plan began to form. The next few hours of rehearsals, they did their job, but they did it with a contagious excited energy, each of them pointing to the seats here and there, and making plans on who could do what when. They managed to enlist the help of an unbelievable number of staff and juniors to help—everyone completely into the idea of helping Ryosuke since they all knew he was going to die an early death if he didn’t learn to chill out a little bit. He was singularly minded about work and his devotion to it, which wasn’t a bad thing really, but the collective of Johnny’s as a whole had long said the boy needed something other than work to focus on—and now that the possibility existed there was nothing they wouldn’t do to make it happen.

It was all very subtle, of course, the changes in the movements, the placement and such, because they knew that the most important part of tomorrow was the fans—nothing, not even a girl they liked could get in the way of the fact that they had a responsibility to their fans—and providing the perfect show for them was more important than anything else, bar none.

That said, they did work in some minor details and they were all very happy to be a part of something rather extraordinary, no matter how it might turn out. Once they’d finished the last set at midnight, they spent another three hours coming up with the rest of plan and how to execute it—ending up with a crowd of at least twenty all brainstorming ideas.

Ryosuke wrote letters, he gathered goods, he went over details of how things needed to be done with everyone involved, he walked Aiko, one of the older Johnny’s, who was going to drive the limo and be with her through the concert through all the seats that were hers.

“How do you have this many seats?” Aiko asked curiously, glancing down at the chart in his hand.

Ryosuke blushed lightly at how extravagant this really was, “The guys all gave up their tickets for friends and family so that I could use them for Dr. Meadows.”

“They’re good friends,” Aiko smiled nodding his head.

“They’re the best brothers,” Ryosuke responded as he took Aiko to the next set of seats.

He’d given all the information to him written down, and Aiko was familiar enough with the set list and arrangements he wouldn’t have any trouble helping her move when it was time.

Ryosuke fell into restless sleep that night and slept until nearly two, realizing how late it was, he jumped out of bed and went to the kitchen so he could prepare the meal for Aiko to pick up on his way to the clinic to get Dr. Meadows.

If she comes.

He didn’t want to have his hopes up as high as he did, but he couldn’t help it…he really, desperately wanted her to come. The possibility that she might not made his chest feel tight.

He took a shower while the eggplant parmesan was cooking, and by the time everything was ready, Aiko was at the door to pick it up. He quickly plated it onto the crystal dishes he’d begged his sister to bring to him earlier in the day—not telling her why, just that he would return them in perfect condition. She’d tried to get something out of him, but he just pushed her out the door, telling her he was going to be late. She stood there complaining, for how long he didn’t know because he walked away after three minutes and then his phone started buzzing with her texted complaints. He blocked her number which made his Mom send him a message about being “mean” to his sister.

He told her he’d send her flowers which seemed to make his Mom happy in the end. The dishes his sister lent him were beautiful and it framed the meal perfectly. He carefully set it all in a box and handed it over to Aiko—telling him how much he appreciated him for at least the hundredth time.

After he saw Aiko off, he gathered his things and headed to the venue, feeling more nervous about this concert than his debut. Everyone stopped moving, turning to look at him when he walked into the dressing room.

“What?” Ryosuke asked, turning to look behind him, confused on what they were all staring at.

“We kinda thought you might bail on us,” Yuri laughed, moving to adjust one of the outfits on his rack of clothes.

“Don’t be stupid,” Ryosuke mumbled, sitting his bag down in a chair by the door.

He jumped at the loud clap, turning to see Kota rubbing his hands together, “Well, let’s go then!”

Ryosuke was confused as he was swept up into the group of boys, who moved through the back corridors of the venue quickly, their voices quiet and their movements soft as they avoided running into any of the staff. They led him, well, they pushed and pulled him was more appropriate, shushing him none to gently when he tried to demand to know what was going on. He ended up at a section of the venue he’d never even known was there before, hands on a ladder as he looked up to where four of the others were already climbing, “What are w—“

“Less talking, more climbing, Yama-chan,” Kei said, shoving him lightly on the back to encourage him to climb.

“Fine,” he mumbled, beginning to climb the ladder carefully, all they needed was for one of them to fall right before the concert and they’d all be in so much trouble.

I mean, we’re not even allowed to do certain sports out of fear of us getting hurt, I think this would definitely be off limits.

He blinked as a bright light shone down onto the ladder from above, still moving upward but slowly so he could make sure he wasn’t going to fall from the change in lighting. When he got to the top, he grabbed onto Kota’s hand and he helped pull him up the rest of the way. He stood up, holding his hands over his eyes and looked around.

They were on top of the back entrance to the venue, a large flat awning that stretched out along both sides. He had probably seen it a million times but it never occurred to him that you could come up there.

“What are we doing?” He asked finally, confused as others had set towels out on the hot metal and sat down, while others actually had folded lawn chairs they’d pulled out the bag and sat down in, clearly, this was a well thought out plan that he wasn’t privy to.

“Waiting on your girlfriend to get here,” Keito called out, eating a piece of popcorn from a bag he’d gotten from somewhere.

Yuri handed him a bottle of water and pointed to a red chair set among the others, “Sit…we’ve got, ah…” he glanced down at his watch, “about fifteen minutes before she’ll be here.”

“What…w…” Ryosuke looked around, catching up, “She’s not my girlfriend!”

A murmur of ‘sure, sure’ and ‘whatever you say, Romeo’ flowed as he moved to plop down into the chair, he glared at them as he huffed, crossing his arms as he hissed, “You’re all fucking idiots.”

The group laughed then, knowing that he was excited about this no matter what he was saying externally, because there was one fact that remained, at least when it came to private, non-idol Ryosuke—and that was since he had to do so many things he hated and was uncomfortable with as an idol, he absolutely never did anything he didn’t want to in his own private life, ever.

Ryosuke sank down in the chair, tilting his head down and drifting to sleep, the warmth of the slowly setting sun making the air feel smooth and comforting around him. He jerked back awake when the chair next to him skidded backwards.

“There she is!” Yuri cried out, jumping up and rushing to the edge of the platform when the limo came around the corner into view.

She came. She really came.

Ryosuke couldn’t stop the goofy grin that formed on his face, standing up and moving to stand next to Yuri, blinking rapidly, then glancing down to the edge, taking Yuri’s arm and pulling him backward a foot or so out of fear of how close he was standing to the edge. When he looked up all the members had moved to the edge, as close as they dared given the fact there was no railing around it, and if one of them died from this, or worst lived through a fall, they’d all might as well be dead for the way Johnny’s would punish them.

They were far too excited for what this was, pointing to the fact that this was a unique novelty—one they all looked forward to experiencing with each other, and hopefully themselves in the future.

Ryosuke felt like he might faint from the anticipation as Aiko opened the door and one foot moved out onto the sidewalk, a pastel pink shoe the first thing he could see.

Within seconds, she was standing there, looking as cute as any human being he’d ever seen in his whole life, dressed in an outfit that made him want to groan, as the initial meeting with her she’d had on scrubs and a white lab coat, leaving a lot to his imagination. This outfit, in quite an opposite manner, accentuated all of her curves, all of the sways of her silhouette, and for some reason he wanted to cover everyone else’s eyes when his were drawn to her legs, seeming so long despite her height, and the socks that stopped just above her knees and the fluffy edge of the skirt she was wearing creating the perfect view of her thigh, making him bite his knuckle for a moment before he realized what the others were saying, all of their words and exclamations jumbling together.

“Damn, she’s hot!”

“I’d definitely do he—“

“Look at her legs, she’s got the kind of legs you want to have wra—“

“Right!? I mean…”

“I swear to God,” he hissed, his fists clenching tightly, “I’ll push all of your asses right off this platform to your bloody deaths if you finish those thoughts out loud. I went solo once, I’m not afraid to do it again.”

This, of course, elicited wild raucous laughter from the others, completely disregarding his threat, causing them to grow even wilder with their statements, knowing exactly how to push Ryosuke’s buttons.

He ignored them, suddenly caught in his own world when she brushed her hair back off her shoulder and began walking forward. Her entire presence something other than what he’d seen at the clinic. She was so feminine and looked so soft, everything around her feeling fuzzy, as she moved toward the venue, she wasn’t just cute, she was breathtakingly sexy, as her entire body seemed to float, and he wondered if she practiced that or if it was just the way she actually walked all the time.

Of course, it’s just the way she walks, you idiot.

He knew he was too far gone, and then froze when her eyes lifted to where they were all standing, his breath whooshing out when someone grabbed him around the waist and someone else was shuffling him backwards, and then he was tackled to the ground. Within seconds there was a dogpile on top of him, tangles of arms and legs and grunts and groans, and he was trying to bat his arms to slap people away but there was no way he was going to be able to move.

“What the hell!?” he screeched before someone’s hand came down over his mouth, Yuto’s face inches from his own as he whispered, “Shut up, Yama-chan, she’s right under us! She’s gonna hear you!”

Ryosuke’s eyes widened in understanding, realizing that he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to see if he was able to recognize her then if she looked too long at them, surely, she’d recognize him as well, thankful as always for his members who always seemed to instinctively know his weaknesses and universally compensate for them. He nodded his head, and Yuto removed his hand.

“Thanks,” he whispered as the others began to move off each other until he was left lying flat on his back staring up at the fading sky.

“Let’s go introduce you to your girlfr—I mean, friend who is a girl,” Keito laughed as he held his hand out for Ryosuke to take.

The concert was a whirlwind of emotions and feels and smiles and heart throbbing flirty over the top stupidly cute behavior and the entire crowd seemed to feed off the wildly erratic mood making the entire concert one of the best they’d ever had. Once the lift had brought them down under the stage after their final encore, Ryosuke dropped onto the platform, sitting down and curling his legs up to himself, resting his chin on his knees. His hands were shaking so badly, he wrapped them around and tucked them under his legs trying to calm down.

Most of the others had already left and didn’t notice him at all, but Yuri and Keito always lingered behind, always enjoying the energetic and excited way Ryosuke behaved immediately after concerts—but this wasn’t that…this was something completely other.

The two looked at each other, Keito shrugging when Yuri’s eyes asked silently ‘what do we do?’.

“I’m fine,” Ryosuke muttered, knowing they were behind him, “I just need a minute to calm down.”

The two boys looked at each other worriedly, not sure if they should leave him or not, not sure what was actually happening at all, but then Keito reached over and pulled Yuri by the arm, gesturing his head toward the hallway, nodding that they should do as he asked. Yuri reluctantly let Keito lead him down the hallway, glancing back to see Ryosuke still sitting where they’d left him.

“Hey,” the voice broke the silence, causing Ryosuke to jump, scrubbing away the tears that had been falling down his cheeks.

He glanced beside him to see Yuto sitting down, facing the darkness in front of them, the sounds of fans milling about outside of the tiny hold they sat in. Clearly, Yuri and Keito didn’t know that Yuto was still there when they left, but he had stepped back into the shadows on purpose, sensing toward the end of the concert that Ryosuke was heading toward a meltdown. He felt like despite the others wanting to help him, they hadn’t really dealt with some of these feelings, and, well, Yuto had, so he figured it made sense for him to try to help, or at least, just be there for him.

“We don’t have to talk,” Yuto spoke, not looking at him, “You can feel whatever you want to feel, you don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to say anything, and we’ll leave here and never discuss it. I just…”

He paused, searching for the right words, “I just…didn’t want you to be alone right now.”

Ryosuke was staring at Yuto’s profile, a fresh wave of feelings washing over him as he sobbed into his hands, completely confused about why he was even crying, because honestly? He was happy, he really truly was, and this weird cocktail of emotions was one of the strangest things he’d ever experienced.

Suddenly, words were flowing out of him, unfiltered, unrestrained, and utterly truthful.

“I have spent my life until now building walls, hell, we’re talking great wall of China bullshit here, like to protect myself, to protect Johnny’s—to do the right thing, be the right idol. I’ve put miles of distance between myself and the remote possibility that I could like someone, or look at them as anything other than a friend. If a girl showed even a hint of interest I had ways to shut that down instantly, in a way that was sometimes borderline cruel, to ensure there was no misunderstanding that I was not available for anything other than a professional friendship, nothing more.”

I’m a damn impenetrable castle with a moat filled with alligators and fire breathing dragons circling the spires.

He laughed, but it was a bitter sound, his voice wet with tears as he continued, “I have closed down every part of me, boxed it up, put it under lock and key, the parts that even allowed me to look at a woman in any other way than a sisterly way. I’m not even kidding, it’s almost sick how good I’ve become at doing this—just putting all girls into this special place in my mind as pretty things to admire and look at but not to touch, like roses with thorns—and I did this, I mean I did it without complaint, I mean hell, it sounds like I’m complaining right? But I’m not complaining, it was all I have ever known! All most of us have ever known! I mean, I joined when I was ten, I hadn’t even hit puberty, let alone had my first spontaneous…well, you know…—“

“—and then it didn’t matter—because girls were off limits, so I just didn’t think about them anymore, just pushed them away, built my walls…and I’ve been comfortable with them, safe inside of them…”

He sighed, shaking his head, “…but all of a sudden, this woman is there and she didn’t just push my walls over, she blew them up with an atomic bomb. I was left completely defenseless and overwhelmed by how raw I felt. She didn’t even know, either, like I could tell she had no idea what she was doing to me, it wasn’t something she was trying to do, she wasn’t being manipulative—she just was there, and suddenly I was unable to take a deep breath considering a day without her in it!”

He growled, running his fingers through his hair before pulling on the ends of it, “How the hell is someone supposed to function with this kind of nonsense running through their head all the time? I mean, I literally feel like I’m losing my damn mind! How do you even do any of this? How do you do anything? For all I know she’s thinks I’m completely insane because, look at how I did this, I mean I would think I was insane, for sure—because, let’s be honest, seriously, I mean, I have no idea…not the slightest idea of what the hell I’m doing here and all I can feel right now is completely terrified. There are at least a billion ways for me to completely fuck this up before I have even taken a single step forward.”

He sobbed into his hands, his palms rubbing violently into his eyes as he tried to calm down, taking a deep breath and whispering, “All I know is I just really like this girl.”

Really.

He didn’t know why, not really, he barely knew her in reality, but there was something there…that stupid thing in romance stories and songs about how everything changes and the colors are brighter when you meet the one that matches your soul—and that’s what it felt like to him.

Yuto didn’t interrupt, didn’t make any sounds at all as Ryosuke spoke, in fact, he just stared at the darkness in front of him as he released his feelings, letting him get it all out of his system. Once he’d been silent, and his breathing had returned to normal, he reached his arm out, and put it around his shoulders, pulling him over next to him.

“Yama-chan, this is one of the first risks you have ever taken.”

Ryosuke pulled back to look at him, shocked by the announcement, and weighing if it were true or not.

“Think about it, even things you’ve done before that were challenges, somewhere inside of you there was the understanding that you would surely most certainly be successful,” Yuto smiled at him then, “It’s part of who you are, you are one of those people who sets his mind to something and then will do whatever it takes to make it happen, no matter how hard you have to work or what you have to sacrifice to see it done.”

The truth of those words settled on him, and he nodded, knowing it was fact, and he didn’t normally take ‘risks’ because he wouldn’t accept failure—which negated the idea that they were risks at all.

“This is different, because you can’t force her to return your feelings—it’s the riskiest thing you’ve ever done,” Ryosuke nodded as the words left Yuto’s mouth, “but, you need to understand something…”

Ryosuke shifted so he could make out Yuto’s features which were serious as the light from the hallway illuminated his face when he turned to look at him, “Is she worth the risk?”

The words cast about his mind in neon flashing colors as he tried to make sense of the question.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes…

His mind was screaming the answer even if he was attempting to approach this using his logic and not his heart.

“If the answer is yes,” Yuto smiled, patting him on the back as he finished the conversation, “Then you need to be prepared to do whatever it takes, just like any other decision you make.”

Ryosuke nodded his head, knowing that there was a pact being made in the darkness under the stage, “Yes, she’s worth it.”

“Then, do whatever it takes and find your happiness, Yama-chan, listen to me, be happy—because there’s no excuse now—the only thing that’s standing in your way is you.”

Yuto stood then, walking quietly down the hallway to allow Ryosuke the time to process what they’d talked about, happy in knowing that he was going to be okay now, he felt sure of it.

For his own part, Ryosuke felt a weight lift off his heart as he closed his eyes, trying to picture what lie ahead—the way he always did, as he believed strongly that you created much of the joy in your life by simply giving it room to happen—and felt contentment as he considered the future.

Find my happiness. Be happy.

Ryosuke had finally pulled himself together enough to get changed and headed out of the venue, everyone else already gone, just the staff and crew working to get things set up for the next day’s performance. Yuri and Keito had both spammed his cell phone asking if he was okay, and he finally took a selfie and sent it to the group chat to basically shut everyone up since if the two of them were worried, they undoubtedly talked to everyone else about their concerns.

He’d just stepped outside when Aiko nearly ran into him as he was coming in, “Yamada-san, I’m sorry! I wanted to bring this to you.”

He held a box out in front of him, so Ryosuke shifted his bag back over his shoulder and took the box into his hands. Glancing down into the box he saw the dishes he’d borrowed from his sister, but also was surprised to see the box that held the champagne, and the other box that contained the glasses he’d purchased for Dr. Meadows, “Why are th—“

“Oh, and this!” he produced the autographed ball he’d caught for her, Ryosuke taking it and looking at him curiously, “She must have dropped it in the limo–she was rather…” Aiko struggled for words to describe her state when he’d dropped her off at her home, “Ah…”

Ryosuke laughed, rescuing him, “I understand, I’d be the same way I am sure. I’ll see to it she gets them.”

Aiko nodded, turning to go as he called out, “Good luck with her, Yamada!”

“Thanks, seriously for that, and for everything,” he whispered in return, Aiko smiling and shushing him as he walked away.

Ryosuke put the ball in the box with the other items, moving forward with a new bounce in his step, excited for what lie ahead of him—his mind already whirling about how to get the champagne and glasses—and the pink ball—to her as he walked.

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