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4. Netflix & Chill
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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

Ryosuke, the world is often confused by love. They think love is all about how it feels, but feelings can lie. The truth is, it’s not about feelings, not at all—all love, all relationships—they start with a choice, and it’s a new choice every single day—on days when you love the person and they are your light, or on days when they are the darkness threatening to steal every ounce of joy—the feelings, good and bad, are at the mercy of the choice you make. To love, or to not love.

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Story Rating

Elliot’s weekend had been uneventful after her experience at the concert on Friday night. Of course, she’d mused that her measurement for “eventful” had certainly been rewritten after the amazing evening she’d had. It still had this fuzzy around the edges feel to it when she replayed the memories.

She’d woken up very late on Saturday, emotionally and physically exhausted from the day before, but eventually made her way to the park to try some of the pruning methods outlined in the gardening book she’d just purchased. She’d stayed there until the sun had set, enjoying being in that quiet space.

If she walked far enough to the back of the park it was like she wasn’t even in a city. It was surrounded by trees that created a wall that sheltered her from the sounds of the city, tall enough she couldn’t see the buildings or skyline—it was so peaceful and serene, and they’d put an area with curved wrought iron benches positioned in a circle that faced a fountain in the middle. As the sun dipped below the trees the timer came on and the fountain light clicked on—a beautiful array of soft colors causing the water to reflect the light onto the sidewalk around the base.

Were colors always this pretty?

She admonished herself for thinking in such a poetic, romantic way, certainly not the way she usually thought, well, at least about herself and her own life.

On Sunday, she’d done all her chores around the house, setting out her cloths for the next morning, and had to go to the clinic for an emergency call that took about an hour and a half. She had dinner with her family that evening and then settled into her bed that night to read a bit of the romance novel she’d purchased, falling to sleep and having the same dream she’d been having since Thursday.

A prince who takes care of me, and me, a princess who would take care of him.

She did not have to work until 10:30 on Monday morning, so she took her time, eating her muffin and having her coffee, giving herself a little extra happy with an additional shot of vanilla into her cup just because it made her feel sassy which seemed to fit her current mood. She’d tried to not dwell on it, but when her mind inevitably drifted to Ryosuke and the event on Friday she would feel the butterflies fluttering around inside of her tummy and a warmth would spread softly across her skin.

She tempered the feelings she was having that tickled at the edge of her mind, practically screaming to believe in love at first site, at first glimpse, to trust that true love was real and sometimes it happened when you least expected it—when you hadn’t even remotely considered it a possibility—wasn’t even on her radar…yet, she tempered this emotion with a severe lecture about reality, facts, and practicality.

Better to keep your feet on the ground, Meadows. Firmly planted on the ground!

Despite her best efforts, she still found herself drifting off into the land of “what if” and minute by minute the possibilities seemed endless to her. It felt good to have something with such positive energy flowing through and around her. As she’d begun to make her way to work, each step had been light, and she’d felt like she was walking on clouds as she moved through the streets, smiling brightly as she came in the back door of the clinic. Taking the clipboard from Saya’s hand to glance over the schedule for the day quickly before handing it back to her, then stepping behind the screen to change into her scrubs.

“Are you seriously not going to say ANYTHING!?” Saya had to control herself from going over and shaking the screen in frustration.

“I thought it would be better to tell the story once, instead of fifteen times,” Elliot mumbled, trying to not smile like a love-struck teenager, stepping from behind the screen and finishing her preps for the day.

“I suppose that’s true,” Saya frowned, her eyes cast to the floor between them.

“You knew, didn’t you?” Elliot stepped forward, causing Saya’s eyes to glance up at her.

“I did,” Saya laughed lightly, “we all knew—everyone but you. I’m sorry if it was wrong to keep it from you but it seemed like it would make the evening even more fun.”

“I guess it made the evening more of something, though the level of shock I felt, not sure it could be termed ‘fun’,” she stepped into the treatment area, the techs who were there stopped moving, looking at her, clearly unsure if she was mad at them or not for keeping the secret.

“It’s fine, guys,” she laughed walking to her desk to check her messages and then turning to glance back at them, smiling to reassure them, and noticing that Miki was sitting behind them at one of the other treatment tables eating her lunch.

“Well,” Mao stood up, leaning onto the table in front of her, bobbing up and down in excitement, “Spill it! Tell us!”

“It was amazing, and I don’t know how to even begin to explain,” Elliot knew they were going to ask these questions, and she’d tried to come up with a way to explain how it made her feel from the moment she arrived home on Friday night, but even now, the words continued to elude her.

“I mean…it was…just the most perfect evening I think I’ve ever experienced,” she was staring up at the ceiling, words failing her as sights and feelings, smells, emotions, sound—all assailed her body, mind, spirit, and soul as her memories spun around in front of her mind’s eye.

She had considered over the weekend how to handle this with grace and tact among all the ongoing daydreams and fantasies. It wouldn’t do for her to make assumptions about Ryosuke’s interest in her, and she knew she couldn’t go without ensuring he understood how much she appreciated the gift he gave her. She had settled on writing him a note, planning to send him some kind of gift, but she hadn’t been able to decide yet what would be a good gift to send, something friendly but she could hardly consider any kind of knowingly intimate gift, given the fact that she really didn’t actually know him.

If this was meant to be something more than a casual ‘thank you’ that was a little more elaborate than average, they’d get to that eventually—but for the very start she was trying very hard to not be too enthusiastic, not to imagine too much here that may not be anything more than kindness.

Despite her best efforts, every single time his face floated through her mind her heart would still skip a beat, and sometimes it felt like he was still around her, this warm, fuzzy feeling consuming her—like his arms were there embracing her or something. She couldn’t explain it and wouldn’t begin to try since it sounded crazy even in her own mind and she was the one thinking it!

“So…what’s your plan then?” Miki asked moving to throw away her food containers and sitting in one of the tall rolling chairs beside the techs.

“Ah, what do you mean?” Elliot asked, not really clear on what she was asking.

“Well, I mean, you’re a smart girl, I’m sure you googled the Idol, so you know what’s what—are you gonna do it or not?” Miki’s expression was something different than what Elliot normally saw, a hint of something cynical and almost vile appearing on her face.

“I…uh…”

It hadn’t even occurred to her that she could google him and likely find out all sorts of information about him. In truth, that felt a little insincere as she considered it in her mind even now, and she decided that would definitely be the wrong way to approach it.

“What are you talking about?” one of the techs asked, turning to look at Miki.

“Oh, the boys at Johnny’s aren’t allowed to have girlfriends or get married or anything like that—it’s completely forbidden! They’ll get into some major serious trouble, like could even lose their group and get kicked out!”

Elliot felt her mouth go dry, her eyes fixed on the movement of Miki’s mouth as the words, spoken so casually, so easily, were flowing out.

“So, clearly, if Yamada is trying to get her attention he only has one thing in mind!”

“Wait, if they can’t date then what is he…” the other tech’s eyes grew wide and she stared across the room at Elliot who was screaming, it was inside her, it was all internal, from the outside she looked perfectly normal, but on the inside, she was a screaming, throwing things, breaking stuff mess.

“Yep!” Miki continued, each word like a dagger directly to Elliot’s heart, “There’s been rumors for years about these ‘discreet’ liaisons different Idols would have with women—always beginning with something extravagant—and ending with them screwing the girl in both the literal and emotional sense—all of the girls discarded like a common call girl. I suppose for all intents and purposes they are exactly that—but who would care about that!? You get to spend the rest of your life knowing you’d been with a real Idol!”

“Wow…”

“I know, right?” Miki laughed then, “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d totally do any of those Johnny’s idols because seriously, they’re hot, right? Who cares, I’d do all of them!”

“You’re shameless!” The statement was issued as an admonishment, though Miki just laughed it off, not really caring what any of them thought, she’d do what she wanted no matter what anyway.

“Pfft, why should I be ashamed, I’m a girl with needs, and they really have what I need!” she laughed, then seemed to be considering something before she spoke, glancing over to Elliot, “Though, I mean I think a lot of times the girls didn’t know what they were getting into, so in that way you’re already a step ahead! You can just enjoy the ‘ride’ knowing exactly what it is…I know I’d take advantage of it, and have no regrets. Who needs a relationship when you can just take what they are giving with no attachments!?”

The room filled with a strange assortment of laughter—some of them genuinely amused, others nervously watching the train wreck unfold, as they knew Elliot, and they were worried about all of this—despite her face being impassive, and her external appearance not giving anything away. Miki continued to rail on about the things she would do to Ryosuke, or any Idol that would give her the chance—the conversation quickly exiting the g rated realm and moving into explicit and mostly pornographic content in seconds.

Elliot wanted to claw her face off. Wanted to dig out her eyes, cut off her ears, numb all her senses to stop the pain from infusing itself to every memory she’d just cherished an hour ago.

He was…he only wanted to sleep with her? Is that what it was? To use her for his pleasure, then discard her like she was trash? This was just an elaborate ‘one night stand’ that took a little longer to prep for because of his status? How could she be so stupid!?

How could you not see this!? You’re so blind!

“Well, are you gonna let that sexy beast, Yamada, fuck you or not Elliot?” Without someone trying to reel Miki in she’d grown bold, her words caustic and harsh, the level of her jealousy clear in every syllable she spoke, her eyes slightly narrowed, clearly expecting an answer, “I mean, I know you’re probably not experienced enough for a guy that practically screams ‘fuck me hard’ like him—but I’m sure if you told him you were a virgin he’d at least try to make it good for you.”

“I…I…” Elliot couldn’t form words, nothing felt right, the air on her skin burned, and she turned to quickly rush to the bathroom feeling her breakfast working upward to make an appearance.

“When he’s done with you, make sure you let him know I’m available—even if he’s not interested, he can introduce me to some of the others!” Miki called out as Elliot turned the corner, hot and heavy tears streaming down her face as she jerked the bathroom door open, rushing in, barely making it to the stall before the contents of her stomach were expelled.

She fell onto her knees, her head resting on the cold surface, her tears pouring down as she tried to catch her breath. She jumped when she felt someone touch her shoulder, looking up to see Saya standing beside her, and Mao wringing her hands as she stood by the door to ensure no one else would come in.

“Boss!” Saya sat down, grabbing her upper arms, shaking her lightly, “That stupid bitch! You don’t believe what she said do you?”

Elliot struggled to calm down but it was like a flood gate opened and she fell forward into Saya’s arms, her face resting on her shoulder as she just sobbed onto the other woman, her body wracked with the weight of what she was feeling. Saya wrapped her arms around her and held her while she cried, whispering words of support and kindness.

Elliot hadn’t realized until that moment how many ideas she’d formed, how many tiny tendrils of hope and happiness had sprouted in just a few days, and suddenly the entire garden was nothing but poison. Every single growth and blossom was being violently ripped out by the root, one by one.

Saya let her cry, until she was just sniffling, her body shaking now and again as she tried to take a deep breath, “Boss, I don’t believe what she said! I think there’s gotta be something else!”

Mao shifted, catching Saya’s eyes, her face twisted into a frown as she pointed to her phone where she’d googled Johnny’s to find out if the things Miki had said were right or not, her eyes puddled with tears as she shook her head, mouthing the words, “It’s true!”

Saya’s breath caught in her throat, her eyes drifting down to Elliot and then back up to Mao, the feeling of helplessness setting into the pit of her stomach, because she was the one who talked Elliot into going, the one who hid the truth from her, she felt like she was directly responsible for how she was feeling now.

Elliot lifted her head to glance up at Mao, nodding at her expected horrified expression, “Please, don’t act like I’m not here.”

Mao nodded her head, a tear rolling down her cheek as she twisted the phone in her hands, “It’s…Dr. Meadows, it’s true.”

Elliot felt like someone had just grabbed her heart in her chest and was squeezing it—the possibility that there was something else, that Miki was just messing with her, it existed and then suddenly it didn’t—between one breath and the next, every possibility that could have fixed this was gone.

Please just rip it out.

“Read it to me, please, Mao.”

“I don’t want to,” she mumbled, casting her eyes to the floor, shuffling her feet, looking much younger than she was.

Elliot held her hand out to her, and she reluctantly slipped the phone into her hand. Elliot blinked her eyes, trying to focus on the screen, reading the top of the page that signified that she was on Johnny’s official website, and clearly outlined on the page were the terms of their talent’s responsibilities, which included things associated with their health and wellness, dangerous activities and sports, and there among all the other conditions and restrictions was a paragraph about their ban on dating and the fact that no Idol is permitted to be in a relationship or pursue marriage while they are under contract to the agency.

She hit the back button, noting that the search terms turned up countless pages of sources of this information, ranging from tabloids, to reliable media sites, to fan based rumor sites. All of them agreed, without a doubt—the Idols were not permitted to have relationships, nor to marry, not at all, as long as they worked for Johnny’s.

She handed the phone back to Mao, attempting a smile to make sure she knew that she wasn’t to blame for the bad news she had to deliver.

Saya was frowning, her brows furrowed, “But he came back, and he talked to us…”

“What?!” Elliot’s head jerked up in surprise.

“The day he brought his dog in, the day you met him, you’d left, and we were doing some prep work for the next day. Everyone but the two of us had went home already, and we heard the knock on the door out front…I guess since the lights were still on he figured someone was still here.”

She shook her head looking up at Mao before she continued, “The thing is, we let him in, and he was really nervous, like seemed seriously nervous—talking about how he couldn’t stay long but that he just needed us to tell him something about you, anything so that he could just thank you, he said that exactly didn’t he?”

Mao nodded, “He did, and then he said he wanted to send you a thank you gift, and I told him, mostly joking I swear, that he should just take you out to that restaurant you love over on the second avenue and get you some eggplant parmesan and that’s probably be the best thank you he could give you.”

Saya nodded, “He laughed and said he could appreciate a woman who loved to eat as much as he did….”

Mao continued, “We laughed, he laughed, we didn’t think anything of it. He wanted to know your schedule and we thought he was going to bring you flowers or something, you know? We had no idea about the ticket and things…but he was so nice…it just didn’t seem like he was just setting up some elaborate ‘netlfix and chill’ using a concert ticket and a limo.”

What the hell is ‘netflix and chill’?

Saya nodded, “I just didn’t get that vibe from him, honestly, Boss. He seemed nervous and just wanted to do something nice for you. That’s what we both felt when he left and we were kinda excited cause no one would deserve something that amazing in her life than you!”

“What is ‘netflix and chill’?”

“God, how are you seriously this sheltered?” Mao murmured before Saya leveled a glare at her.

“Sex—casual sex…no strings…just a fun time…” Saya responded, answering her question, then adding adamantly, “but he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would do things that way…at all.”

“Maybe it’s not his normal way of doing things, maybe that’s what made him nervous, I don’t know, but you can’t argue with facts, and I believe facts over feelings—that’s who I am, who I’ve been—until this weekend I guess.” Elliot shook her head, taking a deep breath as she passed the phone back to Mao, “That’s the mistake I made here, getting caught up in flights of fancy, letting myself follow heart feelings instead of clearly reading all the facts and knowing the truth. I won’t make that mistake again.”

One of the other techs poked her head into the doorway, “Mari called in your sub—you should go home Dr. Meadows. We’ll take care of your schedule today.”

Elliot wouldn’t normally leave, not work, not when she was known for her professionalism—but she felt like her heart was open and bleeding around her. She was useless here and she knew it, and it was at least comforting on some level to know that they knew it too.

She nodded, Saya helping her up and walking her out to the back door, Mao holding out her bag and coat.

“Just bring the scrubs back tomorrow,” Mao murmured, hugging her lightly, then both girls watching as Elliot trudged down the path, not closing the door until she’d turned the corner and went out of their line of sight…both of them miserable and wishing there was something, anything they could do.

Elliot walked, slowly and without purpose, in fact, part of her was just on autopilot. She couldn’t begin to understand how she’d made it home, but once she’d closed the door behind her, she moved like a zombie to her bedroom, throwing off her scrubs and grabbing the pajama shorts and comfy oversized sweater, throwing them on and then crawling up into her bed, curling up and let the deep mournful sadness seep out of her mouth, the noise thankfully muffled into her plush pillows.

She fell asleep eventually, her body so tired, so exhausted from the emotional strain. She knew now, realized, and saw it clearly, this is why she’d never allowed herself to have any kind of romantic entanglements. She wasn’t good at seeing people, at seeing the real picture and not the fairy tale in her mind. She’d been like this as a small girl, asking her mom when her white knight was going to arrive to take her to the castle to live happily ever after.

She saw good in people; her default setting was to err to people being innately good.  In fact, it was impossible most times for her to look at things to see the harsh, sometimes bitter truth others were perceptive to immediately. Out of all the unique quirks of her personality—this one was probably the one that made her susceptible to being hurt, because she didn’t see when people were using her, abusing her…no, this was because she wasn’t strong, wasn’t good at discerning—but as she drifted to sleep she resolved that she’d never allow herself to be taken like this again.

Not ever.

At about 3:00, Ryosuke walked through the door to the vet clinic, the now familiar chime signaling his entrance as the woman behind the counter, Miki glanced up at him, her smile instantly broad and in a word, predatory. This woman made him extremely nervous. There was no pretending otherwise, there was just something about her that made him uneasy.

“Well, hello there!” Miki cooed, standing up, her hands resting on her hips as she leaned forward giving him a direct view down her shirt.

Was she this forward before and I didn’t notice?

“Good afternoon,” he smiled, the disarming smile that usually bent people to his will, “I was just dropping by, I know I do not have an appointment, but I was coming by to speak to Dr. Meadows—do you think it would be possible for me to see her for a moment?”

He had left the other items in the car, hoping maybe he could convince her to join him for dinner or something, anything, as long as she’d agree to just spend some time with him—an opportunity to properly introduce himself, to say ‘this is me’ and hopefully control his emotions enough to not just blurt out ‘please love me!’ like some kind of psycho maniac. He felt the smooth surface of the pink signature ball in his palm, having plucked it from the box to remind her of his motive, spinning it absently as it settled his nerves.

“Dr. Meadows isn’t here,” Miki stood up straight, her flirty demeanor suddenly replaced with a matter of fact tone.

“Oh,” Ryosuke tried to replay the conversation with the girls from last week, certain that they said she would be here this afternoon, “I thought she was on schedule today…”

“She left, she came here and then left, I don’t have any idea, I think a stomach bug or something—the sub doctor is here.”

She leaned up toward him, leaning over the counter looking around him, then glancing back to his eyes, “Do you have an animal you need to have seen?”

“Oh, ah, no…” he shuffled his feet feeling flustered and embarrassed, “I just came to…”

He took a deep breath, nodding once, “I came to speak to Dr. Meadows, not as a client, but to…”

“I see,” Miki snapped, cutting him off midsentence, “Well, she’s not here…so…”

“Will she be here tomorrow?” he asked softly, feeling more and more intimidated by the second by this woman.

“Who knows!” Miki rolled her eyes, clear with her displeasure of his questions, sitting back down, shuffling papers to look busy, and Ryosuke stared blankly at her, not used to feeling so…dismissed.

“Here!” Miki slid a card across the counter, “Sadly, you are clearly not my type,” the words were bitter coming out of her mouth, and he was immediately offended but not completely sure why that was, “but there’s enough Johnny’s that surely you know one or two or ten who might be looking for the kind of good time I’d give them—give them my number.”

She immediately went back to doing whatever she’d been doing before he walked in, and Ryosuke was glad because he knew his expression had to be one of complete and utter mortification, absolutely appalled at what this woman was asking him to do. He wasn’t stupid…he knew there were woman all over the world who would instantly throw themselves at any of the Idols because they were so taken by the idea of a relationship with one of them—even if it was merely a sexual one—but this wasn’t something he’d ever witnessed firsthand.

He’d been fortunate enough, or maybe it was better to say he’d been insulated enough, probably something he could thank the other members for, that although he knew that a large portion of women and honestly, men, saw him as a sexual object long before they saw him as a human being, he’d never had any women be bold and actually approach or proposition him.

He blinked, finally, not saying anything, just reaching his shaking hand forward to pull the card off the counter and turned to leave, confused and bothered by the entire conversation—because seriously, there was something wrong with that woman—dropping the card off into the trashcan on the side of the walkway as he moved to his car.

He weighed his options—he could come back the next day, that would be okay, but his schedule the next day was hectic and he genuinely didn’t know if he’d be able to drive back here then. He could have left the items with that woman, but he really didn’t want her involved in anything if he could help it. He could perhaps ask for the girls he’d spoken to last week—surely, they would take care of the items, and ensure they would get safely to Dr. Meadows for him. That felt wrong in the pit of his stomach and maybe it was his own stubborn, selfish need that he just wanted to see her again that deterred him from choosing either of those options.

Instead, he opened his phone to look at his text messages, pulling up the picture of her driver’s license that the Junior who had delivered the ticket to her had secretly taken the day of the concert, quickly typing her address into his GPS and starting the car. He’d explain the whole ‘I promise I’m not a stalker but yes, I got your address in a less than honest way so I could send you flowers’ so she didn’t think he was out of his mind.

Maybe you are.

In all seriousness, he had to consider the fact that nothing he’d done for the last four days was normal for him. Not remotely normal. He couldn’t put his finger on why he was so sure about this, so sure about her. It didn’t matter, he’d resolved himself to this and he was going to see it through.

He’d decided that nothing positive in his life was going to happen by him being docile and cowardly. This was the time to be brave and strong. To take that risk Yutti had helped him come to terms with. It was time to find his happiness…and he was determined to do just that.

The words from his mother echoed through his mind from the conversation they’d had the night before.

Ryosuke, the world is often confused by love. They think love is all about how it feels, but feelings can lie. The truth is, it’s not about feelings, not at all—all love, all relationships—they start with a choice, and it’s a new choice every single day—on days when you love the person and they are your light, or on days when they are the darkness threatening to steal every ounce of joy—the feelings, good and bad, are at the mercy of the choice you make. To love, or to not love.  

I’m terrified, how will I know if I’m making the right choice, Kaachan?

Son, you know it’s the right choice because you’re terrified and yet still rushing forward. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. Don’t deny yourself love, embrace it. You deserve to be loved most of all.

I deserve to be loved.

He tried to continue to repeat those words in his mind as he climbed the steps to her apartment.

Be bold, Yamada…be brave, you can’t make new paths without taking the first steps, be happy, this is about being happy…you deserve to be loved, you most of all, just knock, knock on the door…

He looked around, realizing he couldn’t knock on the door very well with the box in his hand, so he pressed the box between his hip and the wall to hold it up, his hand shaking as he reached up, his knuckles hovering over the door before he took a deep breath and knocked quickly on the door.

No backing out now.

He listened and there were no sounds coming from inside the apartment, it seemed silent and he strained to try to hear some indication that she was there.

Maybe she’s not home? She was sick, maybe she went to the doctor…

Elliot heard the knock on the door through the cloudy haze of sleep, groaning as it felt like her head was going to burst open as she swung her legs over the side of the bed, stumbling her way to the living room and to the door, trying to clear the sleep from her eyes, and swinging the door open prepared to tell her next-door neighbor that she wasn’t giving him anymore rice or sugar or anything—go away.

She wasn’t prepared to see Ryosuke standing there, smiling his beautiful smile, his face changing in front of her as he took in her haggard appearance, and then despite her shock, all her mind was screaming was to make the pain stop. Her arm moved without her will as she slammed the door shut violently. If only it were that simple, if only setting him beyond her visual sight was enough to make the world stop torturing her.

What the hell is he even doing here!?

Ryosuke had jumped, startled, when the door swung open violently, his eyes taking in her appearance as she stood in the doorway—she had on an oversized sweater that hung off of one shoulder, the edge of it laying low on her hips, a tiny sliver of loose fitting shorts with a soft floral print peeking out from underneath the edge, her legs bare apart from the slouchy socks on her feet, looking completely and utterly disheveled. Her hair was a tangled mess, her face was puffy and swollen, her eyes deep set and dark and her expression filled with pain.

He wanted to drop the box and rush in to make sure she was okay but before he could say or react, just as in the same manner she’d opened the door, it suddenly slammed shut in his face, his eyes blinking as he tried to make sense of what just happened.

Maybe someone died.

Maybe she’s got something really contagious and she’s afraid she’ll give it to me?

Maybe she doesn’t recognize me in normal clothes.

His mind rushed through scenarios, trying to explain what just happened, leaning forward toward the door, he spoke loud enough that maybe she’d hear him even with the door between them, “Ah…Dr. Meadows—I’m sorry to bother you, but I brought things you left in the limo the other night…ah…I’m sorry you’re not well…I can leave them out here for you?”

Elliot scoffed at his words, turning on her heel, invigorated with a fresh round of heartache at the sound of his voice, pounding across the floor quickly, storming through her bedroom, quickly gathering up the items he’d given to her from the concert, the mask, the bag, the pictures, the fan, all of it, as much as she could carry, she grabbed it all up into her arms, rushing back through the apartment fueled by the need to be done with this, completely done with it.

Ryosuke listened, pressing his ear closer to the door trying to discern movement or any sound that might indicate she was listening, but it was silent on the other side of the door, he glanced down the hallway to the other doors, frowning, “I would be worried your…I mean not to say your neighbors aren’t trustworthy, I mean, obviously, I don’t actually know them, but I would be concerned, that is to say that someone might…”

I sound like an idiot.

“You know what? I’ll just come back when you’re feeling better.”

He lifted the box up to leave, bouncing it in his arms to get a better grip on it when the door swung back open, causing him to step backward from the unexpected movement and the way the door crashed into the wall inside her apartment, the sound echoing through the hallway from the force she’d used to swing it open.

Dr. Meadows was standing there with an undefinable expression, and before he could formulate words, she’d stepped forward toward him, moving directly into his personal space, and then he realized she had something in her arms. He blinked, his eyes not able to look away from her face, it was fury personified, and so very beautiful in her brokenness.

I will annihilate whatever has caused you to suffer like this.

Elliot felt a fresh wave of feelings rush through her as she took in his expression, pained and confused, a part of her mourning the outcome even as she was moving through the motions of destruction.

Ryosuke was shocked when she pushed on the box, stumbling backwards a step, looking down at the contents, confused, his eyes drifting over the items she’d deposited—all of the souvenirs from Thursday, they were piled up on top of the wine and glasses.

Elliot blinked hot tears away from her eyes, angry at the idea he’d see any tangible evidence of what he was doing to her, his eyes meeting hers, filled with so much hurt, so much concern, and she felt words bubbling up, a war raging in her because he didn’t seem like this person, the kind that was out to hurt her, his face didn’t look like the face of a man who wanted to use her—but facts were facts.

You can always trust facts.

“Wha—“ he couldn’t control his expression, looking back up to see her staring intently at him, he frowned, “Why are yo—“

“I…”

I hate you!

“You….”

You bastard!

“You…”

You monster!

“I’m…”

I’m not that kind of girl!

“I just…—”

I just wish you’d never walked into my clinic!

Her voice was sad, yet there was an underlying tone that was like a small storm cloud threatening to burst, because the words wouldn’t come out right, and it infuriated her, they were caught in between her mind and mouth—and wouldn’t spill out despite her trying to say what she wanted to desperately to say to him.

Likewise, he couldn’t form words, his mouth just opening and closing, not clear on what she was trying to say, only sure she was very, very angry and hurt and he couldn’t begin to imagine why.

“YOU!” she hissed, channeling every ounce of hurt into the word, the way it moved in the space between them like a slap and a curse at all one time, before she stepped back inside and promptly slammed the door without another word.

What the hell is happening here?

Ryosuke stood staring blankly at the spot where she’d just stood moments before, and instantly, unable to process anything—just feeling like something horrible was happening but he didn’t know what or why it was.

His mind flitted in all directions at once and then settled on the fact that he had come there today knowing it was a risk—prepared to take that risk—so he dug his feet in, getting himself together, stepping closer to the door, raising his voice so if she was on the other side she’d hear him loud and clear, “I don’t know what happened to you, Dr. Meadows, I’m sorry to have somehow contributed to your suffering. I don’t know what I’ve done, but please know—all I wanted to do was to get to know you.”

He heard a noise from the other side of the door, a grating noise, but it didn’t open, he leaned forward pressing his forehead against the cold surface, closing his eyes trying to think of some way to get through the door but nothing would come to him, his mind was blank, and he hated himself for not being knowledgeable about these kinds of things, about relationships, about women.

And then he realized that he was absolutely right before, because somehow, he’d managed to completely screw this up without even having what could be considered a proper conversation with the woman.

You’re such an idiot, Yamada. Of course, this is the outcome!

“Dr. Meadows,” he spoke just loud enough that he knew she’d hear him if she were still there, just beyond those two inches that felt like a billion miles that now stood between them, “I’m really sorry, I just wanted to see to your happiness.”

He waited, he didn’t know how long, and the silence from the other side of the door stretched out, and his legs were aching and his heart was breaking, and finally, he turned, not willing to leave the items there at the door for someone to take…no, they were hers and he’d see to it she had them back one way or another.

“I’m really, really sorry,” he whispered as he shuffled his feet, stepping away from her door, turning to go down the stairs.

Elliot had pressed her back to the door after she’d slammed it in his face, sliding down the smooth surface as she bit her lip to keep from crying out, clenching her fists to keep from throwing the door open and either beating the living hell out of that man or kissing him senseless.

She was disgusted with herself—because there was a part of her that would have settled for just being close to him even if all he wanted was to use her and leave. Just to maybe know what his hair smelled like or how soft his skin was. That was insane, she wasn’t that girl, but here she was with a battle going on inside of her despite knowing that’s not who she really was.

She heard his words, frowning and shaking her head at the phrase he’d used, mumbling, “…see to my happiness, sure, sure….”

Sorry isn’t good enough.

Ryosuke had set the box in the backseat of his car, slamming the door after he sat down behind the wheel, staring blankly in front of him at the street that was quiet and still. He felt a tear slide down his cheek, his frustration growing as his hands roughly swiped it away, then the next one, and suddenly he couldn’t stop the tears from falling. 

Angry and frustrated, his fists hit the steering wheel, “Fuck!”

He screamed the word, then screamed again, and again, his hands reaching up into his hair, leaning forward, defeated, as he lost the will, the energy, lost the battle, and felt weary, his voice silent, his tears all spent.

He had closed his eyes, searching for clarity, trying to make sense of what had happened, what it all meant.

I was so sure about this.

But nothing made sense, nothing was clear, there were no answers.

His hands reached down to wrap around the leather on the steering wheel, grasping it firmly, squeezing it tightly as he felt his resolve, the feeling of helplessness falling away from him, as the spirit his Kaachan had instilled in him as far back as he could remember began to swell up inside him.

“I have no idea what just happened or why,” he hissed, twisting the leather under his fingers, the words losing power over him as they were placed into the world around him, his eyes snapped to his own in the rear-view mirror, making a promise then and there to himself, “but I sure as hell intend to find out.”

I’m going to find out.

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