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5. Now or Never
Multi-chapter
Reading Time: 29 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

Something changed in her expression, and she stepped forward, closer to him which made him cringe a little bit, her voice a whisper, “Listen, I could check for the next decade and there would not be an opening available for you.”

He frowned, searching her eyes for an answer, “For me? What does that mean?”

“You’re not stupid,” she laughed lightly, rolling her eyes, “Surely, you understand what’s happening here?”

Reality dawned on him, the words bitter as he spoke them, “She’s given you orders to not allow me in to see her.”

“Exactly.”

Damn it.

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Story Rating

After the incident with Dr. Meadows, Ryosuke had left and driven directly to his parent’s house where he spent the first thirty minutes snot-faced bawling his eyes out in his Mom’s arms like he was a two-year-old who just got told ‘no’ for the first time. In all of her wisdom, his Mom did not try to console him or talk him out of his feelings, as the truth was, he’d never experienced rejection before, not that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so to speak—but Ryosuke always had a kind of blessing that followed him where he went. If he pushed, the doors opened, if he leaned, the windmill tilted, if he asked, it was given. It didn’t create in him a spoiled character, not at all, in fact, he was quite humble despite these gifts—but she’d often worried about what would happen when he faced real difficulties. As she held him, she’d wished he never had to.

She was quite sympathetic, of course, but after she’d consoled and comforted him, she painted a stark picture of the grave error that he’d made by going to her home—in particular, for his less than honest way of finding out her home address. She told him that he had to be careful, a charge of stalking or other such thing could ruin his career, and it was a notion that had not even entered his mind. It was good that she had the common sense and wisdom since he’d not considered any of the implications. She’d scolded him with love, and then gave him a glass of milk and some chocolate chip cookies.

Maybe he was a little spoiled.

As he was leaving, she told him point blank that if his heart was bent toward Dr. Meadows, then he had an obligation to himself to see this though. To find out what was there, and to get to the bottom of the mysterious behavior from her. He begged her for an idea of what to do, but the only advice she could give him was to never meet her privately, to be sure to approach her in a safe environment, preferably public to ensure his reputation and character could not be defamed.

The next morning Ryosuke was parked outside of the clinic at 8:00 am. He had no idea what he was doing, not in the very least. That said, he’d called his manager and actually lied to get out of work for the first time since he’d joined Johnny’s. He told him he was extremely ill and could not come into work this morning, he requested they reschedule all of his morning work for the next day.

His manager was more than happy to comply, nearly hysterical, asking if he needed him to send an ambulance. After a few minutes of convincing him it was merely a ‘tummy virus’ and nothing more, he was relieved to find out the only things on the schedule for this morning were brush-up rehearsals and a tv appearance, which they’d only planned on three of them going to promote the tour, so they’d send Hikaru instead.

Naturally, an hour later his phone was lit up like crazy as everyone assumed he was quite literally dying if he didn’t come to work. One message after another arrived from various sempai and kouhai and even a few executives who sent their best wishes that he would make a ‘speedy recovery’.

I’m definitely the worst human being ever.

Once the influx of messages arrived he’d checked the time, realizing that Jump would be arriving at any moment to their practice so he’s sent a short message to the group telling them it was an issue of a personal nature. It only took thirty seconds for his phone to ring, Yuri’s voice clearly on speakerphone and Ryosuke could only assume the rest of Jump was listening.

“What kind of personal nature, Yama-chan?” Daiki asked, his voice infused with humor and innuendo and Ryosuke was positive he was raising his eyebrows up and down even though he was on the phone.

“Don’t be an ass, Daiki,” Yuri chided him, “…but you’d tell us, right? Right, Yama-chan?”

It took him a moment to figure out what they were asking and then he was glad they weren’t in the same zip code together when he realized that they were asking if he’d spent the night with Dr. Meadows, thus meaning he was spending the morning with her, “Guys, what the hell!?”

“Seemed the logical conclusion,” Yuya muttered, and then several others sounded their agreement, and Ryosuke couldn’t help but wonder what kind of conversations they had about him when he wasn’t present.

“Are you telling us it’s too personal to share with Jump?” Yuri’s voice was laced with worry, and Ryosuke sighed.

“I was going to explain later in person, but I’m at the vet clinic, something happened, I mean I literally have no idea, okay? But she won’t speak to me.”

“What!?! Why!?” all different voices were asking at once.

“What on earth happened?”

“She was happy when she left after the concert!”

“Guys, guys, listen,” Ryosuke waited for them to shut up so he could explain, “I don’t know! That’s why I’m here—so I can find out! I didn’t mean to worry you guys, okay?”

“Are you just walking in and asking?”

“No…aah, umm…so I….kinda borrowed my Mom’s cat to come to the clinic to try to speak to her.”

“Oh, God, which cat did you borrow?” Hikaru asked gravely, knowing that the Yamada family had three cats, two that were at least non-lethal, but one of them, that one was a vicious feline that had a taste for human flesh. Ryosuke hadn’t cared which cat, he just needed an animal to use to see her. His Mom had picked this one—he had no idea her rationale and it really didn’t matter to him, as long as the cat got him in the door.

Ryosuke sighed, then his eyes popped open as he saw Elliot, “Guys! I gotta go, she’s here!”

“If there’s anything we can do let us know, okay?”

“Yep.”

“Good luck!”

“Thanks!

After they’d ended the call he watched as Elliot walked up the street, her head down, her feet moving in that same slow, graceful walk he’d remembered, though the glow around her was dimmed, she seemed sad and it made his heart ache. She was wearing some kind of knit pants, with a long-oversized sweater, and a hat…that had cat ears. He couldn’t see her face or expression, just the tiny tendrils of her hair peeking out around the hat.

He’d watched the other employees go into the building earlier, the techs entering through the back, and that woman, whatever her name was, she entered through the front. Elliot turned the corner and he wanted to run after her and just throw himself on the ground and beg her to give him a chance.  The meow sound from the carrier next to him reminded him of his intended plan.

“I hear you, Tonka,” he murmured, reaching over to rub the cat’s face through the opening in the carrier, jerking his hand back with a yelp when the cat attempted to bite his finger, “HIkaru is right about you, you know that?”

He didn’t move his eyes away from Elliot’s form, taking a deep breath when she finally left his line of sight.

“Well, let’s do this? Right?” He took a deep breath, steeling his nerves to get out and go inside.

Twenty minutes later he was still sitting in the car, hands gripping the steering wheel as he listened to Tonka pitch a holy fit inside of the carrier. He was sweating, his entire body tense and coiled, and he caught his eyes in the rear-view mirror.

“Damn it, man, you’re an Idol. You’ve performed in front of sixty thousand people, get your ass out of this car and go get the girl!”

When that didn’t cause him to move, he decided on a different approach, “Listen, you either want it or you don’t. You can leave right now, Yamada, and that’s it, closed, over, done. Or you can get over your debilitating social anxiety and get your ass in there and go get the girl!”

Now or never.

He opened the car door, reaching over to grab the cage, glad he’d decided to go inside because he figured Tonka was going to rebel if he didn’t do something as he’d started slamming himself against the side of the cage in protest, making a loud squalling sound.

He entered the clinic, cringing when Miki looked up at him, her expression morphing through several emotions before it settled on what seemed to be indifferent.

“Can I help you, Yamada-san?”

“Ah, yes, actually, I am here with my Mom’s cat…Tonka…he hasn’t been seen in quite some time and my Mom would like to confirm that he’s healthy and that the food and vitamin regimen she’s giving him is the best for this age.”

“I see,” she nodded, looking down and tapping some buttons, before she glanced back up, her eyes narrowed, “Would you like to see Dr. Meadows or Dr. Okada?”

He took a deep breath, swallowing, clearing his throat, not fully understanding why he couldn’t just say it, kicking himself internally, “D-dr. Meadows, please.”

She hmphed, clicking some more buttons and then held her hand out to him.

“Ah…I’m sorry…I?”

“Don’t you have a list of what the cat is eating and being given for supplements?” her voice was terse and snippy.

“Oh! Oh! Yes, of course,” he sat the carrier down carefully on the ground and patted his pockets, figuring out which one held the paper from his Mom, and producing it to hand to her.

“You can have a seat,” she nodded her head toward the cat waiting room, “You should be called back in just a few minutes as we had a cancellation.”

He nodded, the heaviness falling off him as he put distance between himself and her, not sure why she caused him so much distress, but she just did, and he couldn’t care less about figuring out the reason. Not when he was really there to see Dr. Meadows and get this whole crazy mess cleared up.

He’d been sitting in the cat room for a few minutes when someone walked in, glancing up he saw that it was a tech he didn’t know, but this woman’s eyes were narrowed, holding a file folder that must have been Tonka’s, a hand on her hip as she stared at him, “Yamada-san, I’m having Dr. Okada check out Tonka for you today.”

Her words were coarse and clipped, and she jerked her head to the side for him to follow her, turning immediately and walking away. He grabbed the carrier and scrambled after her as she walked to another hall that he’d never been in before, “Ah, thank you, for that, but…I was really hoping to see Dr. Meadows?”

Was his voice always this small? What the hell was wrong with him?

She didn’t say anything, just opened the door to a treatment room, number 3 and waited for him to enter, completely ignoring his question.

She closed the door after he’d finally walked in, and he moved over to the couch to set Tonka’s carrier down, turning to see that the woman was staring at the folder, “I’m sorry, is there no way for me to see Dr. Meadows today?”

There, he’d asked again, point blank, and she had to have heard him, there’s no way she could ignore him now.

“No, there is no way you can see Dr. Meadows today,” she hissed, causing him to startle at how angry she seemed, “What’s wrong with your cat?”

“Ah, that…there’s nothing…wrong with him, I just—I mean, my Mom wanted me to bring him because she wanted to be sure he was getting a proper diet…” he gestured to the carrier, where Tonka was making a low grumbling noise, “Since he’s getting older and all that…”

“Fine,” the tech moved toward Tonka, stopping when he growled and hissed at her, causing the cage to shake violently, “Is he always this aggressive?”

“Ah, yes, I’m afraid he is,” he grinned, kinda glad that Tonka was basically telling the woman to kiss his furry butt, because that’s pretty much what Ryosuke wanted to do, well, except not the furry part.

“I’ll be back in a moment,” the tech turned and walked from the room without a single glance his direction.

“What the hell?” he murmured, to himself since no one else was there except for that cat and he didn’t think the cat really cared about much of anything other than maiming humans who came to close to him.

The door opened and Saya walked in, closing the door loudly behind her.

“Oh, thank goodness,” he sighed in relief, “I was wanting to ask yo—“

“Yamada-san,” Saya spoke tersely as she crossed the room to look into the rattling cage where the cat appeared to be completely possessed, spitting and growling as she came closer to him, “I’m going to have to take him out of the room to have him examined, may I have your permission.”

Ryosuke’s hands went up in the air when she looked at him, as her eyes were full of so much fury and if looks could kill, he’d be dead to be sure, “I—I mean…yes, that’s fine.”

His words were rushed and within seconds the cat was gone, carrier and all.

He paced for a few minutes, and then flumped down onto the couch, dropping his head into his hands, feeling like the world was conspiring against him. After about twenty minutes of self-reflection that resulted in nothing other than him concluding that this was one of those situations that he had to be persistent about, the door opened and Saya walked in with the cat carrier.

“Your cat is healthy, and the diet you have him on is good for his age,” she sat the cat down on the table, “You can see Miki to make an appointment for his wellness check up in a year.”

She turned to go, her hand on the doorknob, when Ryosuke just couldn’t take it anymore, “Wait! Please! Just a moment…”

She didn’t turn around to look at him, but didn’t open the door either so he rushed forward, “Can’t you just, please, just tell me what I’ve done so I can fix it?”

He watched as her hand gripped the doorknob tighter, her head turning slowly to look at him, “You can’t fix what you’ve done, Yamada-san.”

And then she was gone.

Damn it.

The next day he was solidly booked and didn’t have a moment to breath, but the day after that, he was back at the clinic, bringing his sister’s dog in tow.

“I’d like to see Dr. Meadows, please,” he watched as Miki sat down the folder she was holding, her eyes narrowed.

“That won’t be possible today, Yamada-san.”

“Is she not working today?”

“That’s confidential information that I am unable to discuss.”

“I saw her walk in, is there a reason I can’t see her?”

“She’s booked solid.” He couldn’t help but notice she wasn’t even checking her schedule.

“Could I make an appointment to see her then, tomorrow perhaps?”

“No, she’s booked tomorrow as well.”  She didn’t even move, didn’t look, just answered.

“Then the next day?”

“No.”

Ryosuke sat the puppy down on the floor, the leash clenched in his fist as he leaned forward over the counter, “Listen, I don’t know what your problem is, but there’s no way Dr. Meadows doesn’t have an appointment available in the next year. Please check.”

Something changed in her expression, and she stepped forward, closer to him which made him cringe a little bit, her voice a whisper, “Listen, I could check for the next decade and there would not be an opening available for you.”

He frowned, searching her eyes for an answer, “For me? What does that mean?”

“You’re not stupid,” she laughed lightly, rolling her eyes, “Surely, you understand what’s happening here?”

Reality dawned on him, the words bitter as he spoke them, “She’s given you orders to not allow me in to see her.”

“Exactly.”

Damn it.

Not to be driven to give up so easily, the pattern continued, his desperation clear when he ran out of animals from his parents, siblings, and relatives to bring with him to attempt to speak to her. So far he’d brought in eight cats, nine dogs, a guinea pig, two bunnies, and a turtle. He’d even borrowed a neighbor’s dog—which was weird, needless to say. Some days he was seen in a timely manner, a few times he’d had to wait almost an entire day, but he waited, trying to remember what he was doing, why he was there. One day one of the techs came out with a sandwich, stealthily giving it to him in the cat waiting room.

“I don’t know what you’re doing,” the tech spoke in a whisper, offering the paper bag, “…but I admire your persistence at least.”

Ryosuke had been flustered, thanking him and wondering what the rest of the staff was thinking, what they were talking about when it came to him. Did Dr. Meadows know how often he’d been there?

His time had given him some information at least—he realized that two of the exam rooms in the building were hers, Room 4 and Room 5. They had a plaque outside of them with her name on them, the other rooms had the other clinic doctor’s names on them—so he learned to know if they were taking him to see her or not based on which direction they had him go. He also learned that she was very in demand and well loved, all the people he’d met in the waiting room had been very kind and quite enthusiastic over how well she’d taken care of their animals.

This made him very happy, despite not being surprised since that was his own experience. He’d also learned that they were almost always busy. There was a constant influx of people in and out and animals of all types, sizes and breeds. It was a little alarming, the clinic was fast paced and there didn’t seem to be enough people working to manage to see all the clients who came each day, and he couldn’t help but remember what Miki had said the first day he’d asked about her.

…there’s certainly been no time for relationships or anything as exhaustive as marriage.

Well, having observed her schedule in a really, he hated to admit it, a rather stalker like way, he understood why Miki had said it. The woman worked all the time! Even more than him! He also had realized that perhaps the clinic was taking advantage of her, as he’d often see the other doctors show up late or leave early, even when the waiting room was full—pushing all of the patients off onto Dr. Meadows.

Nearly a month had passed, and everyone kept asking why he wasn’t giving up…and he really didn’t know. He just found her fascinating—and if she was going to reject him, then he at least wanted to understand what he’d done so he could learn from it. There was a spark there, in the edge of his mind, that kept telling him there was still a hope, a chance, and he should remain steadfast.

So, steadfast he was.

He decided to try a different approach, begging Yuri to come and bring his dog with him in hopes that he could sweet talk Miki into getting him back to see her.

“You’ve got to be kidding me?” Miki’s response was full of humor, shaking her head.

“I’m not,” Yuri spoke firmly, flashing a disarmingly beautiful smile at her, “I need my dog to be seen by Dr. Meadows. I’m afraid I can’t accept any answer besides yes.”

“I can’t do that,” she sighed, her eyes full of stars as she looked at him, blinking softly.

“Can’t you, though?” Yuri cooed, leaning across the counter and moving a piece of her hair behind her ear, pouting a bit, “Is that what you were told? That she couldn’t see my dog? Couldn’t see me?”

Ryosuke just stared at him, because he’d never seen Yuri do something like this before outside of a drama performance.

Damn, he’s good.

“Well—I—I mean—it’s just—no, I guess I wasn’t exactly told she wouldn’t see you,” Miki’s voice shook as she spoke, her hands shuffling the papers on her desk nervously.

“Then, it should be okay for you to let me see her, shouldn’t it?”

“I—I mean—I can check and—“

“So, you don’t make the rules for the front? Pity…I thought you were in charge up here,” Yuri frowned, his bottom lip poking out a little bit.

I do, I run the front,” she replied tersely, hands flat on the counter, Yuri flattening out his hand so that his fingers were barely touching hers. She stared at his hands for a moment before she shuddered, glancing back up to find him smiling again.

He was playing her like a grand piano and she had no idea. Then again, if Ryosuke wasn’t wrong about her, he figured she’d let him or any of the idols play her in whatever fashion they wanted and she’d be perfectly happy. He shivered at the thought of it, and wanted to step between Yuri and her to protect him from her, like her personality in and of itself was contagious.

“Have a seat, you’ll be called back in a few minutes.” She gave in, typing something on the computer in front of her without looking back up.

Ryosuke followed Yuri to the puppy waiting room, shaking his head, “You’re positively devious, Chii-chan!”

“I know,” he smiled brightly, “It’s a gift.”

“Thanks for this, seriously.”

“We haven’t made it back there yet, don’t get too excited.”

They both laughed, and Ryosuke was flooded with relief when a few minutes later they were finally called back to one of the rooms on Dr. Meadow’s side, in fact, into Exam Room 5, where he’d first met her.

After only a few minutes, Saya and Mao walked in—Mao stopped just inside the room, the moment she laid eyes on Ryosuke, looking over at Saya cautiously.

“Chinen-san,” Saya spoke, looking down at the chart in her hand, “There’s been some kind of—“ She stopped short, eyes surprised and then angry when she looked at Ryosuke, “Honestly, what the hell are you doing here?!”

Ryosuke narrowed his eyes in defiance as she glared at him, “I’m here to speak to Dr. Meadows.”

Saya slapped the folder down on the counter, “She doesn’t want to talk to you, can’t you see that? Isn’t it enough to have hurt her? Why do you need to remind her?”

He couldn’t help but clench his fists, because this was insane…he’d spent a small fortune, not that he couldn’t afford it, it was money well spent, but still he was bringing animals in to be seen in the clinic for the last month who were all perfectly healthy, all to attempt to see this woman for five minutes so he could find out what in the world was going on. He’d contemplated risking the restraining order route and going to her house multiple times but he knew his parents would let him rot in jail before they’d rescue him after his Mom had explicitly told him to not do that again.

Twenty-four years old and still obeying my Mom, geez!

“I—it’s not like tha—I mean, I don’t even know what the hell I’ve done here!” He didn’t mean for his voice to be so loud, or so angry, but there it was, out in the room like that, tension heavy between everyone.

“Then you clearly are entirely too spoiled by getting your way too often,” Mao hissed, her expression sharp and unyielding.

“I—wait, what?” Ryosuke had no idea what they were talking about, not at all.

“You know what you’ve done,” Saya turned to leave.

“I swear to you, I don’t understand what has happened here! I haven’t done anything except be kind!?” Ryosuke had stood up, and was pacing the room, “Do you think if I knew what everyone was so upset over I’d be here? The last thing I want to do is continue to hurt her!”

Saya stopped, turning around to study him, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth to chew nervously on it, glancing to Mao who shrugged, “I want to believe you.”

“Then just believe me, I swear I have no idea what is going on!” Ryosuke wasn’t sure he’d ever been as desperate as he was at that moment, even in front of Yuri he wasn’t afraid to plead, “Please, please, I’m begging you, do I look like I understand what is happening?”

Saya’s eyes took in his haphazard, discombobulated presence, honestly, it looked to her as if he hadn’t even slept last night. Her eyes drifted past him, landing on Yuri, almost startled to actually realize he was there since she’d come into the room and discovered Ryosuke she hadn’t noticed anything else. A shy smile crossed her face when he nodded at her, and then she looked back to Ryosuke, “Dr. Meadows isn’t like the other girls you….you…choose to play with, she’s innocent and…she needs protected.”

Mao bumped into Saya’s side, laughing lightly, whispering, “She’d kick your ass if she heard you say that.”

“Shh!” Saya glanced at Mao, shaking her head.

“Protected from me?” Ryosuke’s voice was louder than he meant it to be as couldn’t piece it all together, couldn’t make sense of what she was saying.

“You’re gonna need to talk to him like you’re speaking to a child here,” Yuri commented, a wry smile twisting his lips as he spoke, “…cause you ladies aren’t being clear, not at all.”

“She’s not the kind of girl who does one night stands,” Mao spoke abruptly, done playing around, might as well get it over with, quick like ripping off a band-aid.

“Of course, she isn’t!” Ryosuke spoke vehemently, “What does that have to do with anything?”

“I mean, oh my gosh, it has everything to do with everything!” Saya cried out slapping the folder on the table again.

“Look, I’m going to ask you to tell me what exactly you think I’m doing here?”

Saya seemed to consider whether to answer or not, but before she could Mao spoke bluntly, “Use Dr. Meadows as one of your hit and run women that Johnny’s are so notorious for.”

“Hit and…notorious for…wait…you think that I was…”

Ryosuke rolled the words around in his head, his eyes growing bigger and bigger as the implications of what was just said worked through his mind. He jumped when Yuri laughed loudly behind him, “That’s funny, cause Ryosuke is a—“

The words caught in Yuri’s throat when Ryosuke turned to level a glare at him that promised swift retribution if he completed his thought out loud. Ryosuke turned back to look at the two girls who had equally confused looks on their faces, “Then, this is what Dr. Meadows believes is true as well?”

“She does.”

 Damn it.

 “Look, I can’t even begin to express what I’m feeling right now,” Ryosuke’s voice was laced with hurt, his hands running through his hair, “but I need to talk to her. I need to clear this up. I don’t know where you got the idea that I am that kind of guy, or I mean, really that Johnny’s are all out on the prowl using women as sexual objects, God! I mean seriously, I just can’t believe…”

He growled in frustration, “That’s not what this was ever about, not even remotely on my mind, and I need to make sure she knows that, even if nothing else comes from this, I need her to know it wasn’t about that.”

Saya stared at him, taking a deep breath and stepping forward to study his eyes, “You’re being serious, that’s not what this was about?”

He stared openly, daring her find any hint of falseness in him, “That is not what this was ever about.”

He took a deep breath, gulping down his nerves, “I just really felt like I had a connection with her, I wanted to…get to know her…not…any of those other things.”

His voice rushed out as he spoke the last words, and Saya nodded, “I’ll get her,” then glanced to Yuri, eyebrow raised, “If you’ll come with me, we’ll take your dog to the room next door for the exam…that is if you actually really did need to see a vet today?”

“Sure do!” Yuri smiled, not actually needing it at all, but finding Saya’s on again off again personality intriguing, he hopped up off the cushion and picking up his puppy to follow Saya out of the room, turning to peek back inside at a distraught Ryosuke before closing the door, “Good luck!”

A few minutes passed, then the door knob turned and Ryosuke was convinced he was going to pass out from hyperventilation, because seriously, this is not him. He didn’t have any idea what he was going to say or do, just that he needed her to know that he didn’t have those kinds of intentions with her. Other guys were so good at this, so smooth, but he felt like he was trembling from head to toe in his nervousness.

Then she walked in, her eyes were cast to the ground, and she looked so small and delicate, and her hair was creating a frame around her face, keeping him from seeing her properly, and he wanted to reach over and move it so he could see her better, but dared not to take such liberties.

“Whatever you want to say, please, say it, so my staff can stop freaking out every time you walk into the clinic,” she spoke softly, and he felt her voice wash across him like a ray of sunlight, she glanced up at him, shaking her head, before she looked back down again, “You’re kinda driving everyone crazy—I mean, I don’t even know where you got half those animals.”

He laughed nervously, “Dr. Meadows, I wanted to apologize…”

She shuffled her feet, and he took a deep breath, “I just found out that you were under the misconception that I had less than honorable intentions when I sent you the ticket to the concert, but, please, I need you to know that nothing was further from the truth.”

She lifted her head then, a kind of soft flicker of fire in her eyes when she finally made eye contact, “I’m not stupid, no matter what you think,” despite the words being harsh, her tone was small, defeated, “I did some research, and I know the truth.”

Ryosuke tried to not scream, because everyone kept talking about this ‘truth’ and he had no idea what the hell they were referring to, “What truth?”

“That Johnny’s can’t be in relationships, that they just use women and then discard them,” she murmured, twisting her hands together as she stared down at his feet.

“Okay,” the word stretched out, because Ryosuke needed a moment to curb the desire he had to kick something because seriously, is that what this was about?

“First off, there are so many things wrong with what you just said, I can’t even begin to formulate the words to correct you…” he shook his head, groaning as he ran his fingers through his hair, tugging on the ends in frustration, “Look, Johnny’s has had a rule for as long as I can remember, no dating, no relationships, no marriage, all of that, that’s completely true.”

She nodded, and he wanted to grab her face and make her see him, see the truth right in front of her, see him, see the truth in him, I’m here, I would never hurt you, ever, “…but just this year, Dr. Meadows, they changed that rule, and we are now allowed to have relationships after we turn twenty-four. It’s just…the Jimusho isn’t exactly forthcoming with information, it’s not like they put out a press release or something when they do stuff like this…they just change it internally—because they are so…myopic they don’t really care what the world thinks.”

Her eyes were wide as she stared at him, her mouth open as she tried to breath, searching his eyes for a seed of doubt, of falseness.

This is true? Is this true? Was I wrong?  Can I believe this from him? I’m a terrible judge of character, I know, I am…what do I do?

“You have no reason to believe me, I understand that, as infuriating as that is, but I don’t intend to allow you to live the rest of your life under the impression that I was trying to do anything other than to get to know you—I know there are some Johnny’s who have treated women with disrespect, but they are the exception, not the norm for our organization. I know some of them personally, and it’s sad, but even among the best of Johnny’s, what I can tell you is that neither I, nor my members have or ever will do such things. We hold Jump to a higher standard. We hold one another accountable.”

She hummed softly, trying to believe him, but at war within herself.

“How do you know your members don’t do those things?” she asked before she could think better of it, her genuine curiosity making her mouth open.

“I’d know, believe me,” he laughed softly, his expression hardened, eyes ablaze, “I’d kill them if they did.”

She thought about this, as he didn’t seem super imposing, but couldn’t help but admit there was something forceful about him, like the way a tornado didn’t need to be miles wide to be destructive—he might not show his strength outward, but there was a fighting spirit inside of him that she couldn’t help but admire. She believed that his members would consider his response before they took risks, it was easy to imagine that he would call them to task if they didn’t live up to not just the Jimusho’s expectations—but even more importantly, it would seem, Ryosuke’s.

He shook his head, studying her face, his stoic stance softening as he felt a kind of defeat wash over him, “Look, I just felt something…when we met and I wanted to see…what it was…that’s why I sent the ticket and why I did the things I did. I just wanted to see if…that something was really…real.”

“Thank you,” she blurted out, her hands back to wringing again, “I appreciate everything you did for me, sincerely, and thank you for explaining this situation to me so that I could have the right impression of you. The thing is, even telling me this doesn’t really change anything…I think we are just…both from far too different worlds.”

“What does that mean?” he stepped toward her, his hand moving out and then dropping back to his side again, “What do you mean by that?”

“It doesn’t matter what your intentions are, there’s nothing, there can’t bebetween you and I, Yamada-san,” she spoke the words so softly, but to him it felt as if each one of them was a dagger straight into his heart and soul, his eyes landed on her hands which were shaking, “We’re from two very different worlds.”

“How—why….but Dr. Meadows, you don’t even know me?” He wanted to beg her, but couldn’t find the words, the pain in his heart too much, because now, after all of this, she was still going to reject him? He was so sure if he could just talk to her, just reason with her, she’d at least give him a chance.

She nodded, squeezing her hands together, “I know, that’s true, I don’t know you, but I know me—and I am simple, my life is quiet, and routine, and…I like it like that. Your life must be chaotic and you’re…you. I can’t see it, I can’t imagine it. I’m sorry, but Yamada-san,” she bowed slightly, “…please, just have a nice day.”

She turned to leave, wanting to get out of the room as quickly as possible because his voice was too smooth, his words too beautiful, and his presence too intoxicating to allow herself more time there.

“Elliot.”

He’d meant her name to sound soft, meant for it to sound pure when he spoke, but instead, it hit the room with force, with a demand, a note of sheer desperation, conveying the deep passionate need to be sure she knows, since this might be the last thing he’d ever get to say to her, so the way her name fell from his mouth was a testament to his burning desire to have her know how he felt, to acknowledge just one time that he wasn’t imagining things.

The sound of her name on his lips caused her to stop, the way it was laced with so many emotions that hit her full force, her hand on the door knob, her heart beating wildly in her chest, every fiber of her body wanting to turn and run to him.

Who cares about common sense? Who cares about doing the logical thing? Who cares about any of that?!

“I’ll never come back again, you’ll never have to see me again, if you can tell me that you didn’t feel it too.”

She clenched her eyes shut because she almost made it. Almost got out of the room.

I can’t lie to him, even now, even after all of this, I can’t lie.

Just don’t say anything. Just walk out, stupid!

My hand won’t turn the knob, what the hell hand, do it, just turn the knob!

A minute passed as her internal dialogue continued to battle the will to leave and the will to stay.

“I’ll see you tomorrow then,” he whispered softly.

She turned when she heard the door click, finding the room empty and Ryosuke gone.

 Damn it.

 She was a nervous wreck until the next day, walking into Exam Room 5 a little after lunch to find Yuri standing there holding a bundle of two dozen white roses.

Before she could get the wrong idea, Yuri stood up quickly, holding the flowers out to her, blurting out the words, “They’re from Ryosuke! He got called to do a reshoot of a scene and couldn’t make it but wanted to keep his promise so asked me to come instead.”

He bowed slightly and she took the roses, nodding her head, glancing around, “Did you…bring an animal?”

“No,” he laughed softly, “I didn’t have time to get one!”

“I see,” she smiled, laughing lightly, “Thank you for this, you were my last patient for the day so at least that’s nice.”

“There’s a note there,” he pointed at the flowers, and she glanced down to see that there was an envelope nestled within the flowers.

“Dr. Meadows, could I walk you home, perhaps so we could speak privately?”

He knew all of the people there had good intentions, but he needed answers that he didn’t think he could get between these walls.

She stared at him for a few moments, then blinked rapidly, “I—I mean, I was going to the book store before going home.”

“That’s fine, could I maybe go with you there then?”

“I suppose,” she shrugged, “It’s a public sidewalk.”

He laughed lightly, “I’ll wait out front.”

Elliot took her time getting ready, thinking maybe he would have left, but no, he was waiting there as promised, and fell into step beside her. She glanced over at him, uncertain, “What was it you wanted to talk to me about?”

“I just want to make sure you understand,” he spoke softly, turning his face to the wind and she marveled, because were all of these boys this beautiful up close?

She waited for him to continue, he glanced at her as they turned the corner, “Ryosuke is a good man, he’s my best friend.”

“I picked up on that,” she hummed softly.

“I’ve never known him to have ill intentions—he has the purest heart—even in our industry—our line of work, everyone, everything is so cut throat—he’s not like the rest of us.”

She fit the information around the things she already knew about him, finding that they rang true.

“One moment, please,” she stopped, holding her hand up, and Yuri watched as she seemed to waver, concentrating on something and then she reached into the bouquet of roses, carefully pulling a single stem out, handing it to Yuri, and then suddenly ducking inside the building they were standing next to.

Yuri looked down at the rose he was holding, then glanced up at the sign finding that it was a rehabilitation center, curious, he tried to see what she was doing inside. Peering through the window he saw her talking to someone at the counter, and she handed them the flowers, turning to walk out, then quickly rushing back to the flowers again to grab the letter she’d nearly left in them.

When she came back out, Yuri couldn’t help but be confused. Those flowers were a gift from Ryosuke, how could she give them away like that? It was as if she could read what he was thinking, speaking quickly, “I always give fresh cut flowers to the rehabilitation center—because they use them for crafts with the children—teaching them how to dry them and press them into bookmarks and things. I wanted to keep those roses because I’ve never seen any as pretty as those in my whole life….”

She glanced back inside the building, her expression longing, then looked down, a note of sadness in her voice, as she whispered softly, “I really wanted them.”

Then she shook her head, looking back up at him, “…but as we were walking past here, I just couldn’t take them with me—I would feel guilty for keeping them to myself and not sharing, so….I gave them to them—they’ll put the roses on the tables in the dining area until they begin to fade, then use them with the children…this way, many people are given joy from his gift. I think…”

She felt bold when she said it, “I think he’d like that, wouldn’t he?”

Yuri smiled, handing her the rose he’d been holding, understanding that she’d saved just one for herself, and then laughed softly at how true it was that Ryosuke would appreciate what she’d done there today, “He would love it.”

“Good,” she nodded as she gestured for them to continue to walk, “I have this after all,” she held up the envelope and rose, which Yuri noticed she had not opened yet.

“Why haven’t you read that?”

She shrugged her shoulders, “If I rush to read it then I won’t have this feeling anymore…”

He looked at her curiously before she continued, her hand resting on her chest, “…the fluttery feeling of possibilities…the unknown…what could be here in these words?”

She held the envelope in front of them, “It could be a confession, or it could be a demand…it might be a goodbye, or it might be a pleasant ‘how do you do?’ Once I open it, the fate is decided, and I think I’d like to feel the possibilities a little longer. I read too many romance stories I think, but I find letters to be a beautiful art that is slowly being lost.”

Yuri shook his head, considering that it was no wonder Ryosuke found the woman positively captivating—hell, he was having to remind himself that she wasn’t available—his eyes glittering with happiness as he spoke, “I don’t know what the letter says, in case you were wondering.”

“Mmm…” she nodded, “I figured he would not share his thoughts…” she paused, stopping suddenly, “Chinen-san, what did you want to talk to me about?”

He was startled by the sudden change in mood, and he took in her posture which seemed a little defensive, “It’s not my place, and I know that, okay?”

She nodded, accepting of this, and he took a deep breath before he sighed, continuing, “I just…look, he’s a good guy, and he’s my best friend, and he’s spent all of his life so far taking care of me, okay? And…I just need to do this, I just want to ask you to please not hurt him.”

“I wouldn’t hurt him, it’s not my intentio—“

His hand snapped out to grab her wrist, his voice laced with the importance of his words, “You are hurting him.”

“What—I just…”

“Please, can’t you just give him a chance?”

She looked down at where he was holding her wrist, his hand letting go, a whispered apology, and she shook her hands out, “I don’t think that it would be good for either of us.”

“Why do you get to decide that on your own?”

Her expression was confused, trying to answer such a question, because when he put it like that it seemed extremely selfish for her to be the one who was making all the choices.

“I—I don’t…I didn’t me—“

“He just wants to know you better,” Yuri interrupted her, “If you can tell me why that’s wrong, I’ll make sure he doesn’t come again.”

“It’s not that it’s wrong, it’s just that I….I’m…”

“Afraid?”

She startled at the accuracy of his guess, nodding, as he continued to speak, “Look, I’m just gonna be honest here, none of us at Johnny’s has the slightest idea of how to be in relationships, okay? They’ve ruined us, I swear they have,” he laughed then, not bitterly but genuinely amused, “So what you have is a whole bunch of grown-assed men over there who don’t even know how to properly talk to women or date them or anything—we’re a bunch of idiots—I mean, when I told my Mom what we did for you she told me it was absolutely insane and she didn’t blame you for running away.”

They both laughed at that, “…but we are all wanting to learn, and I swear, I can’t speak for a lot of guys, I wouldn’t dare, but I know Ryosuke—and there’s not a single part of who he is that would take you lightly, would take advantage of you. He might not go about things the most normal way, I’ll admit that, cause I doubt any of us in Jump would, but there’s no way you can cast anything other than good onto his motives.”

She stared at him, then smiled, “I understand…and I will give this to you, Chinen-san—it speaks very highly of his character that he has such loyalty from a friend such as you.”

He beamed under the light of that statement, smiling, “I’m not the only one, if you talked to anyone at Johnny’s they’d all say the same, he’s one of a kind. And I might say the same about the people who are ready to step in to protect you as well—those girls at your clinic are willing to go to the mat for you, you know?”

She nodded, smiling, “I believe we’re all lucky to be surrounded with good people, and the thing is, Chinen-san, I just can’t make any promises, all I can do is tell you I will try to have an open mind.”

He studied her, trying to decide whether to push her for more, but then saw a spark in her, something that he felt might grow, and nodded, contented that she wouldn’t be purposefully hurting Ryosuke, “Fair enough.”


Later after her visit to the bookstore and eating dinner the letter was sitting on the counter practically screaming at her to open it. She reluctantly picked it up, her name written on the front in a neat, tidy handwriting, and she turned it over, shuddering as she breathed, worried about what it might say.

Now or never.

She dug in her resolve and ripped the envelope, pulling the letter out and reading it quickly.


Dr. Meadows,

I’m sorry to have to send Chii-chan to deliver the roses. I had hoped to see you today, but something came up and regrettably, I couldn’t. Don’t think I didn’t completely freak out when this happened, imagining that you were going to confirm the idea in your mind that my life is too crazy and outrageous for you. I’m prepared to admit, I have seasons where things are as you can guess, and then times, a lot of it, where things are so normal and quiet and serene…and I’d share that with you, I would. 

See, I want to say something, and it might have been impossible for me to say it in person, but here I find the words are easy to write. I need you to know something—you said to me that you weren’t stupid, and believe me, I know that, I can see how brilliant you are, but I am going to tell you a fact I’m not sure you understand.

I’m not stupid either.

I am not worldly, no. I have lived a very sheltered, insulated life. I know that goes against what the world thinks of idols, but I’m being completely honest with you. I don’t know how other famous people are handled, but we, Johnny’s are handled very carefully—we are protected, we are able to grow up a little slower than one would think. In particular, I have been sheltered by my group. We stand out among the Johnny’s because of our friendship, our brotherhood, and my group has taken care of me, allowed me to grow at my own pace. Yes, I’m an idol…but I am not very good at being anything extroverted apart from characters I play, and as far as talking to people and knowing how to interact, I’m just an idiot who barely scrapes by on the rudimentary knowledge I learned in elementary school about social normality. I’ve never been in a relationship, and honestly, I don’t know the first thing about it.

But I want to. I want to learn with you.

I’m not stupid.

I know there’s something here, between you and me. I know you feel it too, or you would have walked out of that door yesterday.

You didn’t because I’m right.

I’m not asking you to do anything, nothing, other than give me the chance to show you who I am. Show me who you are, and if we become friends that’s great, if it becomes more that’s great, too.

I can live with knowing you on any level—honestly, the only thing I can’t live with is not knowing what could have been because we were both too afraid to try.

I’m willing to take the risk.

Are you?

Kindest hopes,

Yamada Ryosuke

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