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8. Technically
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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: PLEASE NOTE: *this chapter features a surgery on a dog--though it is not graphic some medical terms are mentioned and referred to.

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Synopsis

She shoved her toes into his leg when he grabbed her calf, squeezing it tightly, “That’s not even funny.”

“It’s a little funny,” she exhaled a long breath, giggling softly despite herself.

“It’s not,” he responded with a cheeky grin, pulling on her leg, her body sliding down the arm of the couch she’d had her back resting against as he dragged her toward him, his other hand grabbing her other leg.

“Ryosuke!” she squealed, her arms flying frantically in the air, and then he sat up, his hands snapping forward to grab her sides and tickle her which resulted in her legs flailing every direction and her body twisting violently as she tried to get away.

“I give! I give! It’s not funny, it’s not funny,” she gasped, her hands slapping at his.

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The song featured in the chapter is Automatic by Castro: This is the acoustic version, if you’d like to hear the original you can listen to it HERE

 January 20, 2017

Elliot: (ᴗ˳ᴗ) zzz I’m going to bed…I just wanted to say goodnight and tell you to have sweet dreams

Ryosuke:  ( ˘ ³˘)♥ I am going to have the sweetest dreams ever since tomorrow is a PERFECTLY normal day without something extraordinary happening at all!!!!

Ryosuke: (((o(*゚▽゚*)o)))

Elliot: (´∀`)♡ Ahhhh could you possibly be sweeter?

Ryosuke:  Nope. ((´д`)) I’m maxed out on my sweetness level—I can’t possibly get any sweeter. I think we’ll probably need to splurge for an expansion if you want to add any more sweetness to me.

Ryosuke:╭(♡・ㅂ・)و ̑̑

Elliot: Lol (`_´)ゞ Okay—I’ll start saving now…how much does this ‘expansion’ cost anyway?

Ryosuke: Hmm…it varies from person to person, but…I think the kind of ‘end-game’ expansion I’d be aiming for would be pretty expensive

Ryosuke: (´꒳`∗)

Elliot:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  Really? (⊙.☉)7 What makes your expansion so expensive?

Ryosuke: It traditionally has a diamond in it

Ryosuke: *。✰✧*♡〜٩(^▿^)۶〜♡*✧ ✰ 。*

Elliot:  ♡´・ᴗ・`♡ ᵒᵐᵍᵎᵎᵎ

Ryosuke: Of course, you should save your money up for the ‘family’ expansion, I’ll take care of the ‘sweetness’ one!

Ryosuke: (。•̀ᴗ-)✧

Elliot: I see, I see…well, we’ll put them both down on our planners huh?

Elliot: (/^.^(^.^*)>

Ryosuke: Yep, yep! Go to bed sleepy-head!

Ryosuke: (◦˘ З(◦’ںˉ◦)♡

Elliot: Yawn! I am, I am! ( ˘ ³˘)♥ Haha

Elliot: (Ɔ ˘⌣˘)♥(˘⌣˘ C) 

Elliot: ? /(@゚ペ@)

Elliot: Should we say anything or not

Ryosuke: No. ( ´△`)

Ryosuke: Don’t say anything.

Elliot: Okay. ( ゚д゚)

Elliot: ( ̄ω ̄) I’m not saying anything, except that tomorrow I’ll be having a perfectly normal day.

Ryosuke: Me too. (∗´꒳`) Completely normal. Nothing special at all.

Elliot: Same. o(^▽^)o

Ryosuke: We live such exciting lives.

Elliot: I know right?

Elliot: Lol

Ryosuke: (。・艸-。)-☆ wiйκ

Elliot: Anyhoo, sleep sweet!

Ryosuke: Sleep the sweetest, my dearest!

Ryosuke:  ( ๑ ᴖ ᴈ ᴖ)ᴖ ᴑ ᴖ๑)

Elliot: (◦˘ З(◦’ںˉ◦)♡


January 21, 2017

Elliot had done exactly what the two of them had agreed on.

She had woken up this morning, acting as if nothing important at all was happening, going about her morning routine in the exact way she normally would—though she did internally rebel against the idea of staying in her pajamas when Ryosuke was coming to her house to spend the day with her, especially she hated that her hair was up in a sloppy sleep-mussed ponytail.

She didn’t really believe in hexes or bad luck per se, but at this point she wasn’t willing to risk anything…not even a little bit, so she’d purposefully avoided the mirror so far to stop herself from checking her appearance. If something did go wrong and cause them not to be able to spend the day together, she’d at least be guilt free. This way, she’d know if something jinxed the date then it wouldn’t be her fault for putting on different clothes or fixing her hair, so remain in her grey kitten onesie with footies and messy bed-head she did.

I should have thought about that last night.

You’re so dumb, you couldn’t have slept in jeans and a cute top.

Whatever else her mind was going to say was stalled by the knock on the door, causing her stomach to flip-flop and her hands to tremble. 

He’s here.

This is happening!

She took a deep breath, laughing when Sassy went over to the door and sat down expectantly. She really didn’t know how Sassy knew Ryosuke by his knock, but she’d always believed that animals had a super special sense that humans lacked…something like a ‘good’ detector so to speak–and if that were even partially true–given Sassy’s less than kind response to the average person–then Ryosuke was the kindest person of all.

She thought that Sassy was certainly right as far as her own experiences were concerned, she moved over to the door, peeking out to see Ryosuke standing there, smiling, and she pulled the door open, a wide smile on her face as she squealed, “You’re here!”

“Don’t say anything,” he hissed, his eyes glittering with humor, “I haven’t made it inside the apartment yet!”

“Oh!” she nodded, “Right, right!”

She shuffled to the side, gesturing her arm widely to invite him in. He walked into the entryway, and she stomped down her shy nerves as he looked at her expectantly.

“Oh!” she pointed to the mat by the door, “You can…put your,” her eyes fluttered down, taking in his loose-fitting plaid pajama pants, white t-shirt, and blue sweater, and she couldn’t help but laugh when they reached his feet, “…your fuzzy slippers right there!”

He laughed then, toeing off his slippers one at a time and pushing them onto the mat, his eyes shifting to apprise her form, a slow smile playing on his lips, as he tilted his head, “Turn around.”

Elliot looked at him quizically and then twisted to the side and he laughed softly, “I can’t believe it has a tail.”

Elliot glanced down, and then giggled, admitting, “I didn’t change, but I really wanted to.”

“I’m glad you didn’t, you look positively adorable,” he mused as Elliot reached over to take one of the bags from his hands, rolling her eyes as she dismissed his words, peeking down into it, then glancing back up at him, “What’s this?”

“Dinner!” he smiled, a tinge of blush painting his cheeks, “…or well, it will be! I thought I’d make dinner for us tonight, so we could just…stay in?”

She smiled at him, and he seemed somehow shy for a moment and then she laughed, “I think that sounds just about perfect! Staying in and YOU cooking!”

They both laughed and then she came up short as he turned to look into her living room, his eyes moving across the space, and she wasn’t sure she’d ever felt so self-conscious in her whole life as he looked at who she really was–as there was no doubt that she couldn’t hide the truth now that he was inside her home. The color of paint, the fabric of her sofa, the pictures on her wall, the handmade afghan on the recliner, the cat shaped statues, and myriad of other items placed throughout the space surely revealed far more of who she truly was than any biography ever could. Not to mention that everything felt a little cluttered thanks to the dozens of vases filled with roses covering every surface imaginable.

Elliot laughed nervously, gesturing outward, “At least I can blame you for all the flowers!” 

He grinned next to her, shrugging, “Not remotely sorry for it either!”

She cleared her throat, glancing over as his eyes shifted to look at her, “Relax,” he smiled, somehow understanding her feelings, and she felt her nerves soothed by his words, “It’s exactly what I was expecting,” he laughed, stepping into the living room, “…everything is so…so…you!”

She somehow wished she could see the space as he saw it, as a person learning who she was through her belongings, she shrugged, “I don’t know what that means.”

“It means it’s all very cute and adorable and you,” he laughed as he leaned over to kiss her cheek, then smiled broadly, “Kitchen?”

“Oh! Of course,” she moved in front of him, gesturing for him to follow her around the corner to the kitchen, pausing for him to walk in first.

He grabbed the bag from her as he passed by, moving into the kitchen, “Is it okay to put some of this in your fridge?”

“Sure,” she shrugged, leaning against the counter as she watched him set the bags down, digging an assortment of products out and then shifting to open the refrigerator.

Oh my God, Elliot!

He twisted to look over his shoulder at her, discovering her wide eyed and confused, “Elliot! How have you survived this long?!”

“What do you mean?” she tilted her head, confused by his question.

“I don’t see any vegetables in your fridge, or…I mean…” he stepped out of the way to open the door wider, “Honestly, where is the food?”

“Ah…I…it’s…I just…” she hedged, wanting to force him to close the door.

His eyes narrowed as he studied her, and then he sighed, “Don’t tell me?”

He reached up to open the freezer, groaning when he saw the stacked up frozen convenience meals there.

“I’m fine. My goodness…” Elliot laughed, shifting over to shut the freezer door, grabbing the containers from him and sitting them on the shelf in the fridge, and then closing the door, “You need to calm down.”

Ryosuke’s eyes were wide as he spoke, “I just don’t know how healthy you can be eating this food all the time.”

“Oh my gosh, just put a sock in it, Yamada!” she shoved him lightly with her hip as she moved past him to look into the bags he’d brought, wondering what he was making, her voice dismissive, “I am alive and between the two of us I think I know a thing or two about health and wellness and such–contrary to what the world thinks, I actually did go to medical school–and I have the fancy letters next to my name to prove it! Don’t get me started on the fact that I studied more than most doctors who treat humans, okay!? I eat just fine, honestly, I just haven’t been to the store in a few weeks!”

By the time she’d ended the rant she’d turned around to look at him, discovering his eyes wide, and she felt a little flustered, trying to not smile when he suddenly burst out laughing.

No one ever talked to him like that and he was so sincerely glad that she felt so comfortable that she could, he shuffled quickly across the kitchen floor, putting his arm around her waist and dragging her to him, his smile full of mischief, “Listen up, Meadows, I get to worry as much as I want to about you and your health, you got that?”

“Is that right?” she smiled, drawing her hands up to his shoulders.

“It’s absolutely right,” the words ended up a whisper, and for a moment there was a strange static in the air between them, and then he blinked and somehow the spell felt broken, his hands moved, pulling her into a hug as he whispered in her ear, “I’m so glad I’m actually here.”

He sighed softly as he buried his head into the crook of her neck, inhaling deeply. She wrapped her arms around him, closing her eyes as she memorized the moment, the feelings, the emotions, “I’m so thankful for you being here, too.”


They’d spent the afternoon talking about all sorts of stupid subjects, guessing things about each other and telling stories about their childhood, families, and quirky things no one else knew–something neither of them had ever really done, despite having many friends—it wasn’t purposeful, but they’d never just really cared to share the more intimate details about their lives with them.

She supposed Saya knew her the best now, and for him he’d decided Yuri was the only one who knew him very well, though both of them had to admit that neither of their friends knew as much as they’d come to know about one another at this point in their relationship.

Still, they were both surprised when there were so many new revelations after the many months of questions and answers they’d participated in.


“So…then, they made me carry Dai-chan–he was the ugliest thing you’d ever seen walking out in this wedding dress, right? And I had to carry him like a bride–it was absurd.”

“I didn’t see that part,” Elliot took a mental note to ask Yuri about it, “…but I did see gifs of you in a wedding dress….”

“You’re kidding me?!” Ryosuke shook his head, his eyes wide, “Oh my gosh, that’s so embarrassing! Please…you have to promise to never look up the SK episodes.”

Elliot nodded her head like she would be very good and not do it, but what he didn’t know was that she’d most certainly seen the infamous episode he didn’t want her to see thanks to Yuri sending a link to her. She’d intended to keep a straight face and change the subject, but the image flashed through her mind of him and his discomfort and she absolutely couldn’t stop herself, bursting out into laughter, her eyes widening when she snorted softly, and Ryosuke just watched her, his face completely blank, the name rolling off his lips like a curse, “Yuri!” 

He continued acting dejected, crossing his arms, hissing, “What did he do?”

She waved her hand, “No, no, no…really don’t be upset, it’s not like that!”

“I know him, and it’s always like that.” 

She laughed harder at his tone, trying to calm down but she couldn’t seem to make herself stop, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” 

He laughed softly, shaking his head, “I guess there was no keeping things from you…which episode was it?”

“The one where you lost the bet with him…” Elliot whispered and the promptly burst out into laughter again, the words spoken between fits of giggles, “…but your face…when Jelica began dancing to ‘Come On A My House’ with you, and then…” she could hardly breath for the laughter, her face pink and her hand fluttering against her chest, “And when they dressed you up! Oh, my gosh, I nearly died!”

Ryosuke was doing his best to act angry, but it was very hard given the fact that she was insanely adorable in her fit of laughter, and all he really wanted to do was ensure that he could always see her smile.

She shoved her toes into his leg when he grabbed her calf, squeezing it tightly, “That’s not even funny.”

“It’s a little funny,” she exhaled a long breath, giggling softly despite herself.

“It’s not,” he responded with a cheeky grin, pulling on her leg, her body sliding down the arm of the couch she’d had her back resting against as he dragged her toward him, his other hand grabbing her other leg.

“Ryosuke!” she squealed, her arms flying frantically in the air, and then he sat up, his hands snapping forward to grab her sides and tickle her which resulted in her legs flailing every direction and her body twisting violently as she tried to get away.

“I give! I give! It’s not funny, it’s not funny,” she gasped, her hands slapping at his.

He released her, dropping back onto the couch with a smug grin, “That’s what I thought.”

She kicked him lightly with her foot as she adjusted back to sitting, “You know what they say?”

“I can’t wait for you to tell me.”

“Payback is hell,” she raised an eyebrow, leveling her eyes at him.

“I don’t think you could tickle me if you tried,” he mused.

“What makes you think so?” Elliot raised an eyebrow at the level of confidence his words held.

“I’d stop you before you could touch me,” he stated in a very matter of fact way, lifting his arm up to draw up his shirt sleeve and then flexed his arm, his muscle tightening up, his chin tilting up as if he’d just played his ace card.

She knew he didn’t miss the moment her eyes widened slightly at the aforementioned ‘god-like arm muscles’—which she hadn’t seen herself until this moment, though she did her very best to smooth her face out, the way his lips curled into a knowing smirk proved he knew exactly what she was thinking.

She couldn’t help the smile that played at her lips, and then she leaned forward, her voice teasing, “I didn’t say anything about tickling.”

“Ohhh…ohhhhhhhhohoho…I see…” he laughed, shaking his head, “I can’t imagine what you have in mind—but I feel like we should probably negotiate at this point.”

“Oh, now you want to negotiate, is that how it is?” Elliot leaned back, her foot stabbing his leg lightly, “That’s really not how this works.”

“Isn’t it?” he reached down and grabbed her ankle, holding her foot still, “I don’t see why not.”

“I am not sure what you have to negotiate with, Yamada, the fact is, you’re the one who tickled me…”

“I have plenty to offer,” he smiled his most disarming smile, tilting his head down, and then ran his hand across her foot, then up her calf slowly until he reached behind her knee, her eyes moving from his to look down at his hand, and then without her permission her entire face bloomed red from the heat of blush spreading across her cheeks.

Ryosuke burst out laughing as he realized how flustered he’d made her, certainly not completely intentionally, but he didn’t mind that he had that effect on her, and she grabbed the pillow that was between her and the back of the couch, burying her face in it, a string unintelligible words lost in the fluff as she shook her head, drawing her legs up under her, as she finally muttered, “You win, you win.”

Ryosuke scooted across the couch until he was directly in front of her, wrapping his arms around her and rocking her gently, laughing softly as he spoke, “I wasn’t thinking of that…”

“Whatever!” Elliot laughed, allowing him to drag the pillow away from her face, her eyes wide when she realized how close he was to her, the laughter cut off immediately.

“Wh-what were you thinking?” she whispered softly, mesmerized by his eyes, how beautiful they were so close-up.

“That…technically…we’re on our date…”

He smiled, his fingers drifting up her arm to touch her cheek softly, “So…I think I’d have a little something to offer given that fact…”

Elliot understood immediately, the kiss, and part of her thought maybe she should protest, maybe that’s the expectation, but at the same time, she didn’t want to, she had waited so long, her voice was confident, yet soft and shaky when she spoke, her eyes unblinking, “I-I’d take the offer.”

She thought he’d laugh and she’d have time to think, to somehow prepare, but suddenly he was there, his lips barely touching hers, his eyes still somehow connected to hers. Her mind was racing, and when it finally caught up, her hands lifted, touching his cheeks, as his eyes fluttered closed, the warmth of Elliot’s lips brushing against his own.

They’d barely had a moment of touch, almost to the point it could hardly even be called a kiss, when he jumped from the loud sound in the room and felt a sudden rush of air, opening his eyes to find himself kissing the empty space in front of him. His head jerked to the side when he heard movement, finding Elliot across the room looking down at her phone which had apparently made the ungodly noise.

“Ah…” he leaned back, trying to not laugh at the fact that she was running out of the room, not exactly the response he’d hoped for in response to their attempted first kiss. She came barreling out of what he had to imagine was her bedroom, hopping around as she tried to slip on her boots, rushing over to the entryway to open the closet, digging in there as she called out, “It’s an emergency!”

Ryosuke snapped to attention, understanding flooding through him as he realized that was what the tone from her phone was indicating. He stood up quickly, moving to the foyer, his hands grabbing Elliot’s arms when she nearly ran into him in her haste.

“I have to go,” she murmured, putting on her sweater, “I’m so sorry, Ryosuke!”

He laughed softly, toeing on his slippers, opening the door as she rushed past him, turning to look at the door, and then him as he stepped out into the hallway with her, blinking in confusion, “Where are you going?”

“With you,” Ryosuke shrugged, locking her door, holding up her keys which she’d forgotten.

She grabbed the keys from him, “But…you’re in your pajamas!”

“So are you!” he responded immediately, gesturing to her form, “This is still our date–I’m not staying here by myself, and I am certainly not going home. I can at least drive you there and wait for you until you’re done. Technically, we’ll still be together.”

Elliot smiled, grabbing his hand as he pulled the door closed, dragging him down the hallway.


They’d arrived at his car, some sporty model she didn’t know anything about but could tell was entirely too expensive, and she wondered how much money an idol actually made, he opened the door for her, she dove in, quickly buckled up, and they were on their way.

He glanced at her when he heard the ringing from her phone where she’d clicked the speaker phone button, fiddling with the notebook she’d carried out of the house, which he realized held some notes and information she was clearly refreshing her mind on.

Saya’s voice was filled with remorse, “I’m so sorry Boss! I know it’s your date day! I can’t believe this!”

“It’s fine, Saya,” Elliot glanced at Ryosuke her eyes holding an apology, “He’s here, you’re on speaker phone,” she rolled her eyes when Saya called out ‘HI YAMADA-SAN!’ and then he laughed greeting her before Elliot cleared her throat getting their attention, “He’s driving me there and will wait for me to finish up, we’re ETA five minutes, report please.”

“It’s Taiki,” Saya spoke quickly, “She started active labor about thirty minutes ago.”

“You have got to be kidding me!” Elliot threw her arms up into the air, clearly frustrated and Ryosuke glanced at her wide eyed as she looked at him, shaking her head, whispering, “She’s scheduled for surgery in just four more days!”

Ryosuke nodded, understanding, as he looked back to the road, navigating the directions to get her there as quickly, yet safely as possible.

“I wish I was…” Saya cleared her throat, her professional voice engaged, “She was into her nesting, and they’d noticed the pre-labor patterns but didn’t realize she’d transitioned until it was too late, she’s still actively licking and nesting even in pre-op—so I think she’s definitely ready—thinking they might not have had the right date. She’s showing no signs of dehydration, but we’ve already got her running fluids, she’s been given the happy cocktail, and everything is fully prepped in the operating room…but…”

“But?” Elliot glanced up from her notebook, her eyes sharp on the phone in front of her, “…but what?”

“Dr. Maeda is at the hospital with his wife who was in a car accident this morning, she’s going to be fine, but…he didn’t want to leave her,” Saya spoke quickly and then there was nothing but dead silence.

Ryosuke glanced over at Elliot who had her eyes clenched shut, and when she spoke her voice was shaking, “He…okay…can we…ahh…Saya!”

“I know, I know! I’m sorry, I tried to do a secondary call-in, but no one is responding, not to mention we’re down by two techs from the neo team who are not going to be there either, and with Dr. Maeda not there to supervise and oversee the neo team…you’ll be…in charge of them as well…”

Elliot groaned, leaning against the door dramatically, slumping down, “Please, stop talking.”

“I’m sorry, Boss,” Saya whispered, and it was quiet in the car, Ryosuke was working to understand the situation, glancing over to find Elliot with her hands digging into her eyes, when Saya’s voice grew bold and loud, “But…c’mon! You can do this, I know you can, it’s your time.”

“It’s not my time,” Elliot snapped, glaring at the phone, then sighed, “I’m sorry, Saya…I just…I wanted to choose my time,” Elliot lamented, slamming the notebook shut, and glancing over at Ryosuke who was clearly concerned since even though he didn’t know what they were talking about he knew it was something serious.

“I’ve never done a section by myself before,” she admitted to Ryosuke, who nodded, understanding better what she was feeling, glancing at her when she waved her hand in the air, “I’ve performed about thirty or so with supervision up until now…I just…I wanted to be ready.”

“You are ready,” Saya insisted, her voice fierce with determination, “You’ve got this.”

Elliot’s head dropped down, as she shook, trying to not freak out, trying to not cry–because she really wanted to have more experience before she did this kind of thing, before she became responsible for not just the mother’s life, but especially the puppies since she would be overseeing their care from start to finish as well. She shook her head, taking a deep breath, “Okay, okay, who’s on call for the phones?”

Saya groaned, “I know what you’re thinking, Boss, but it’s Miki…”

“Darn it! Of course, she is, she wouldn’t stand in if it were her own mother dying at this point,” she glanced over at Ryosuke, her expression apologetic, “She hates me because of you.” 

He laughed, shrugging, thinking anything that got Miki worked up was probably worth it.

“Nope,” Saya agreed, “Ultrasound showed six puppies, that will be three puppies per tech…it’s not…ideal…but…”

“But survival just dropped by about twenty percent,” Elliot filled in the silence.

He could help,” Saya spoke softly.

“No.” 

Absolutely not.

Her eyes cut over to see Ryosuke looking at the road in front of him, his eyes flitting to hers and then away.

“He could just help with the pups,” Saya spoke quickly, “We have Mao and Naoko working the neo unit, they both are very good, and Mao can give him a crash course–she and Naoko can handle any babies in stress, and he can do the hearty ones?”

Elliot’s eyes hadn’t left his profile, biting her lip before she spoke, already feeling plagued with guilt for even entertaining the very idea of him being a part of what could end up being a complete disaster, “Are you squeamish?” 

“I don’t think…I mean,” he glanced at her, one eyebrow raising slowly, “I don’t know, to be honest” he tilted his head, “I would help though. I’d do my best to help.”

“How are you on seeing gross stuff like blood and umbilical cords and such?” 

“My dog gave birth when I was growing up, I was pretty young, but I don’t remember being too bothered by it,” he spoke quickly, “So, I mean, I’ve seen dogs give birth before, and I know it’s not exactly the same…but I’m not afraid to try–I think I can do it.”

Elliot studied him for a moment, weighing her options, and then she narrowed her eyes, “Are you sure?”

“I want to help, Elliot,” he smiled at her, reaching over to squeeze her hand lightly before returning it to the wheel, “Let me help.”

She wanted to say no, but the thought of losing two puppies because she wouldn’t let him at least try wouldn’t set right for her, “Alright. Saya, let Mao know the situation so she can be ready to give him a quick run through–they’ve already prepped the in-suite since I’m the only doctor, correct?”

“Yes, they have, and I’ll take care of it now.”

“We’re nearly in the parking lot,” Elliot threw the notebook into the floor, sitting forward in the seat.

“We’re waiting for you,” Saya spoke, disconnecting the call.

Elliot watched Ryosuke as he navigated the last block and then turning into the parking lot to pull up as close to the door as he could, her voice soft, “You don’t have to, you really don’t ha–“

He put the car in park quickly, turning toward her, his hand reaching up to touch her cheek, “Elliot, I want to, now stop worrying about me and get in there and take care of your patient.”

She smiled, grabbing his hand and kissing his palm quickly before she scrambled out of the car, running quickly to the door where Saya was waiting. Elliot rushed past her as she heard Saya greet Ryosuke, and then smiled to herself as she heard Mao already talking ninety-miles a minute to tell him what his role would be and how to handle the puppies.

Mao had literally given him a less than three-minute instruction on what his role would be and in reality, he wasn’t too worried, it sounded simple and he was confident he could do it.  

Ryosuke watched as Elliot rushed to the screen beside him, Saya following her, as she spoke quickly. Elliot’s shirt flew across the space to the bench beside him. After a moment her pants flew out, too, and then she stepped out in pink scrubs, quickly tying the pants tight, while Saya jerked her hair down out of the ponytail and handed her the band.

Elliot’s eyes connected with Ryosuke’s somehow despite the chaos she was feeling connected to him, the song playing on the speakers in the clinic soft above them and her heart felt like it was beating double time.

I was lost at sea

You were an island

Like gravity, you were pulling me ashore

He held her eyes with his own, as she reached up, grabbing her hair and smoothing it back, using the band to tie it quickly into a sloppy ponytail.  

I was a refugee, you were asylum

You shelter me and now I call you home

Elliot felt drawn to him, stepping directly in front of Ryosuke, her eyes snapping to Saya who was looking at a chart, her eyes not leaving his as she spoke, “Does he have scrubs?”

“I’ll grab them,” she called out as she took off running.

Automatic, more than I ever imagined

And I’m stuck to you like static

Loving you is automatic

Elliot turned back to look at him, taking his hands in her own, and then for a tiny moment, everything slowed down, and she took a deep breath, her words fast, her voice shaking, “I’m sorry you’re here with me, but I’m also really not.”

Just like magic, a mystery and I can’t grab it

Everything I want, you have it

Loving you is automatic

Ryosuke squeezed her hands, feeling them trembling in his own, and he wished he had wisdom to help her, to tell her she could do this, he believed it with all of his heart. Wishing more than anything, just this once she could see herself the way he saw her. How brilliant, how gifted she was…how capable…how amazing–but the words failed him.

I was a lonely soul

Searching the silence

You were a melody, a symphony of hope

He shifted forward, drawing his hands out of hers, cupping her cheeks in his hands as he placed a soft, tender kiss on her forehead.

And all at once I realized

Everything inside has come alive

He bent his head to look into her eyes, “Hey,” she smiled, her eyes wide, “You’ve got this.”

Automatic, more than I ever imagined

And I’m stuck to you like static

Loving you is automatic

“I-I might not…” she bit her bottom lip between her teeth, squeezing her eyes shut tightly, whispering, “What if I don’t?

Just like magic, a mystery and I can’t grab it

Everything I want you have it

Loving you is automatic

 “You do,” he smiled, words passing between them, and he could feel her gathering strength, could see it drawing from the aura around them, and her eyes seemed to burn with a new light as he whispered, “I know you do.”

Like a spark ignites into a flame

His hand shifted around her head to cup the back of her neck, then he drew her forward, his lips touching hers softly, her eyes popped open for a moment in shock before they fluttered gently closed as she melted at his touch.

Like an avalanche you can’t contain

Her hands moved to touch his shoulders lightly, his lips soft and smooth on her own, his fingers holding her tightly—and for a moment it felt like she was lost to her senses, to the way it seemed to spiral to the tips of her toes, the way his mouth felt so soft and the feelings being conveyed felt so pure and beautiful. From the way he held her, to the way his fingers felt on her skin, a blanket of tenderness spreading across her like a warmth destined to cover her entire being.

Like the sun will rise and fall, again and again

She’d never felt more love, more cared for…more necessary, more important…more…more…more home than she felt in his embrace, than she felt in this moment. Ryosuke didn’t know where the courage had come from, where the gumption to just forge ahead and kiss this girl, right here—right now, but he didn’t care, because the moment his lips had touched hers it felt like all of the blurry lines in his world had suddenly snapped into perfect order. Like everything he’d ever been dreaming of could be found within her—her heart, her mind, her body, her soul—her.

She’s all there is now.

All he’d ever want.

All he’d ever need.

She was his dream come true.

Automatic, more than I’ve ever imagined

And I’m stuck to you like static

Loving you is automatic

Their first kiss at her house had happened so fast, neither of them would hardly count it, this one though, while it wasn’t filled with reckless abandon, or overwhelming passion, it was the kind of kiss that would sweep a girl off her feet like in the movies or the greatest stories written, the kind of kiss that seemed infused with the deepest sincerity of emotions, as if conveying the innermost guarded secrets of the soul…communicating in the mere seconds of this kiss.

Elliot couldn’t help but admit, that this was real—it wasn’t a dream—it was her fairy-tale moment right in the midst of the chaos around them, a gift he’d given her, that he’d somehow orchestrated in a way that made her realize—nothing mattered but him

Not now, not ever again—all that there ever would be, all there ever could be—only him.

To both of them it seemed as if the world had simply refused to move forward until this had finally happened.

I’m yours.

His soul seemed to speak.

You’re mine.

Her soul seemed to respond.

You’re mine.

His soul seemed to confirm.

I’m yours.

Her soul seemed to answer.

When he pulled back, his lips so gentle, so tender as he withdrew from her, he smiled, and it was so beautifully confident, holding something new that perhaps had only just been awakened within him, and she couldn’t help but smile, the feeling equally emboldened within her, when he spoke, “I believe in you. I know you can do this, the woman I love can do anything.”

Just like magic, a mystery and I can’t grab it

Everything I want, you have it.

Loving you is automatic.

Her fingers had trailed up to touch her lips, still tingling from the kiss, his taste lingering there, and then her eyes snapped to his, “You…you…love…” her finger shifted to point at herself, “…me?”

“Yes,” he laughed softly, repeating so she would surely understand, “Elliot, I love you,” he smiled, shaking his head as he simply couldn’t understand how she didn’t understand how very much he loved her.

“I love you, too,” she whispered, her expression bashful as the words made their way into the world around them easily, she’d thought before this moment it would be hard to say those words, to be honest about her feelings, but now that she was in the moment, it was the simplest thing she’d ever done, “I do…I really do love you.”

They both laughed then, because they just couldn’t seem to do anything normally, and here they were in the middle of a crisis sharing not just their first kiss, but their confession as well. 

They knew the truth though, that it was okay, wasn’t it? It was just fine for them to do things the way they did them because their romance was their own story and they were both actively writing it.

Unique.

Unpredictable.

Ridiculous? Yes.

Theirs? Absolutely.

Elliot nodded, taking a deep breath, “Thank you for being here, I’m so glad you’re here with me.”

“I’m glad, too,” Ryosuke smiled, his dimple adorable as he raised an eyebrow, his grin widening, “Technically, we’re still on our date after all.”

“Right, you two can do all the gross couple stuff later,” Saya snapped which made them both jump as she grabbed Ryosuke and guided him to the screen, ordering Elliot, “You! To the prep room!”

Elliot grabbed her cap as she walked in, placing it over her head, making sure all the hair was tucked in, and then moved to the scrub area. She pulled a mask out, lifting her hands to settle it on her face, pausing as she glanced back when Saya and Ryosuke came into the room together. She couldn’t help but smile when she saw Ryosuke in the scrubs–they were red, probably a pair of Naoko’s if she had to guess as they were a little baggy on him, and he looked as cute as he ever had.

“C’mere,” she called out, stepping back across the room, and pulling out another cap, unable to control her laughter as she put it on his head, imagining if the fans could see their idol now. He laughed with her, reading her thoughts, his eyes twinkling as she tucked his hair in, then grabbed his hand to drag him to the sinks, pulling another mask out and handing it to him.

“Like this,” she demonstrated how to put it on, and how to tie it, helping him adjust the metal over his nose to ensure a tight fit, “You wouldn’t normally have to do this, as the neo team is usually in the adjacent procedure room, but since I’m the only doctor, I’ll be in charge of both teams, so you’ll be in the operating room.”

His eyes were wide, but he nodded with confidence as she continued, “You won’t have to be completely sterile, but you will need to scrub up because I’m not taking any chances, my overactive paranoia and all of that, first surgery jitters, right?”

He laughed with her as they both glanced to Saya who was looking down at the chart in her hands as she spoke, “Tamiko is in there, everything is done that we can do, we’re less than seven minutes from go time once you enter the OR.”

“Alright,” Elliot stepped to the sink, pressing the foot pedal to turn on the water, nodding for Ryosuke to do the same, showing him how to open the sterile soap and brush.

Saya moved to the sink beside Ryosuke to scrub up as Elliot showed him how to wet his arms from fingertips to elbows, “It won’t be as important for you, but to remain sterile from this point forward once I am done scrubbing I will not be able to lower my hands, and it is extremely important that you not touch me,” he nodded quickly, and she smiled, “You’ll be fine, but I’ll have you go in first, Mao will guide you to where you’ll be standing.” 

He understood, watching her as she opened her brush and began the routine of washing her hands, getting lost in the normal pre-surgery prep, and when he cleared his throat, she glanced over, realizing, that he had no idea what to do, she dropped her brush into the sink, and turned, “Sorry!” 

He could tell she was smiling, and the joy in her eyes felt like it took his breath away, completely enthralled with how calm she suddenly was—like the predictable routine was soothing her, especially, when his entire body felt on edge, her voice soft, “I’ll show you.”

She opened his package, showing him how to use the tool to clean under his fingernails, and once they’d finished that, she reached over and took the sponge brush from his hand, running it under the water, then squeezing it, and then showed the result to Ryosuke who nodded. 

She reached to take his hand into her own, her hand deftly scrubbing the brush against his skin, his eyes moving from her hands to her mask face and back again, taking a moment to get his head sorted, because there was something so sweet and gentle about it, and honestly, if he were willing to admit it, just a little bit erotic about it.

He admonished himself, because he knew he needed to have his head in the game, and also knew that she certainly wasn’t thinking like that right now—so he had no reason to be so effected by her washing his hands, but when their eyes connected, she seemed to understand, shoving him a bit sideways and shaking her head, “Stop that!”

His eyes widened as he realized, maybe she was thinking a little bit like that right now, same as he was.

“I can’t help it, you’re too much,” he murmured softly, and then she dropped the sponge into the sink, grabbing a new package and pressing it into his hand, laughing as she grabbed a new one for herself and opened it, quickly cleaning under her nails and then looking over at him, “Do what I do.”

She took the time to explain the process, why they went from fingers to elbow, how to count the motions, and how to scrub the palms, glancing over at him as he studiously scrubbed at his hands, proud of how much attention he was paying to the details.

He glanced up at her, smiling, and she couldn’t help but ask, “You ready?”

He laughed then, taking a shuddering breath, admitting, “I’m a little nervous now.”

Her eyes crinkled from her smile, and he felt soothed by the way she was projecting a calm peace, her voice soft and confident, “Ryosuke, everything’s going to be okay.”

He nodded, trying to believe her, wanting to believe her, “I believe you.”

“Good,” she nodded her head to where Saya was heading to the OR door, “Watch how she enters.”

Ryosuke watched as Saya backed into the door, her arms still held straight up in front of her as she pushed against it and then backed through it, carefully avoiding touching anything.

Elliot watched until she saw Mao approach the door, giving her a thumb’s up, and she smiled at him, wishing she could give him more confidence, “You’re up–Mao will take good care of you from here.”

He stood still for a moment, and she wondered what he might be thinking, but before she could worry, he glanced to her, his eyes bright, “Don’t worry, I don’t know anyone who has worked harder than you in the whole world, Elliot. You’re going to do great!”

He winked, starting to back toward the door, “I’ll see you soon!”

She smiled, his words bolstering her spirit, nodding as she watched him move to the door, pressing his back against it and then entered the OR–Mao taking him quickly to the side where the neo unit was prepped, helping him put on his gown and clearly giving him some last-minute instructions.

“Okay,” she sighed softly, closing her eyes for a moment, “You can do this, Elliot.”

She nodded firmly, moving to the door and carefully entering the OR. It was, as always very quiet within the suite apart from the constant humming of the machines, the various beeps that told them the status of the patient without looking, certain tones that only the anesthesiologist listened for, others that were Elliot’s to monitor. 

Even so, the room was still quiet, as those were nothing but white noise to them at this point, all of the team members alert, waiting waiting for her to give instructions. She moved to the assistant who helped her dress in her gown, putting her gloves on, and then tied the gown in the back. 

Ryosuke couldn’t help but notice that it was an interesting transition, as everything about her seemed to slowly evolve from Elliot, the cute, sassy girl he loves, into Elliot, the professional that everyone was counting on, right before his eyes.

He watched, eyes wide, his breath caught in his chest, as he saw the way Elliot was suddenly in command of the room.

This is her stage.

This is where she dances.

This is where she captivates the crowd.

He was mesmerized as he observed her go through the routine of checking the tools, whispering a few words to the anesthesiologist, and then she shifted into position with Saya standing beside her. 

Elliot glanced down to the sweet dog laying on the table, “Taiki, I’m here now,” she cooed, knowing the dog probably couldn’t hear her but it didn’t matter, she always talked to them, “Let’s meet your puppies, good girl.”

Ryosuke could hardly handle seeing her with such a precious attitude, her eyes tender and gentled as she looked at the dog, and if he’d ever wondered how much care and compassion she had for the animals she took care of it was gone in an instant.

“Goal is five minutes,” she announced to the room, glancing nervously to Saya who nodded, and then Elliot confirmed, “She’s had local?”

Ryosuke wondered what she meant by five minutes…surely she didn’t mean that she’d complete the surgery in five minutes? 

That’s impossible.

“Yes,” the anesthesiologist answered, “I’m ready to go, estimated forty to fifty seconds on your mark.”

“Give me fifteen seconds, then you’re free to go,” Elliot answered, glancing to the girl who was situated in the far corner, who looked like an intern of some sort, but clearly not in a position to work in the procedure, “Do you have music for me?”

“I do,” the girl answered, “Saya picked one–target for five minutes long and set the proper volume.”

“Good, very good,” Elliot nodded, turning back to face the operating table, nodding to the anesthesiologist to let her know she was ready, and then, with her hands still held in the same position as the last ten minutes, she closed her eyes.

Ryosuke wondered what she was thinking, what she might do here in the moments before the spotlight shined on her, as he had his own methods of silencing all the noise and gaining his focus before a performance.

She’s beautiful in her stillness.

He glanced to the anesthesiologist, it was like he could see the woman counting, and then suddenly, her hands were in motion, flying as she prepped the dog and then began the anesthesia. 

Elliot’s eyes popped open and she stared down at the dog, as Saya had ensured the drapes were wide, that the final wash was complete, and that everything was ready to go while she’d gathered herself, and now she was fixated on the dog’s belly, her mind already drawing the knife, her hands aching to get started.

“She’s out,” the anesthesiologist announced, and things happened so quickly it was like a whirlwind that Ryosuke could barely keep up with.

“Count at five,” Elliot announced, and then music filled the room, but if she noticed he couldn’t tell, as her hand snapped to take the tool from Saya. Ryosuke’s eyes widened as she instantly cut the straight line down the dog’s abdomen, smooth, steady, and instantly, the flesh peeled open, and he realized that it wasn’t at all what he thought he’d see, there wasn’t some kind of gush of blood or anything, rather, it was just pink.

He was fixated on Elliot, on the way her movements were so fluid, so graceful—he knew that this kind of thing required skill, talent, but he knew now, that he’d really had no idea—he sincerely had no idea at all about what she did, and how she did it.

She’s exquisite.

It was like a dance, smooth, coordinated, as Saya seemed to anticipate her needs before she had to say anything, and apart from the music in the room and the background noise of the monitors, there was silence, the two of them working together like a perfectly tuned machine without the need for words between them.

Ryosuke was glad to be far enough away to not see the details in reality, and also glad he could watch her eyes instead of her hands when she began to reach into the abdomen to retrieve the uterus which she quickly examined, and then drew out the first horn.

Ryosuke glanced around, his eyes darting from one person to another, embarrassment flooding him when he finally realized “Very, Very Happy” was the song that they were playing, and several of the attending were tapping their feet, his eyes snapping to Saya who just happened to glance up at the same moment, and he shook his head, laughing softly at her stunt.

She winked before she went back to pay attention to the procedure. 

“It’s one of my favorites,” Mao whispered, bumping into him as she laughed softly.

He nodded, flustered, whispering, “Thank you!”

He watched as Elliot took the scissors from Saya who spoke softly, “One minute,” and then Elliot was cutting into the larger horn, carefully snipping the muscle to create an opening big enough to retrieve the puppies. She dropped the scissors onto a different table, and then carefully worked her fingers into the opening to extract the first one.

She drew it out, laying it on the draping, and Ryosuke wasn’t sure what she was doing as her fingers carefully worked inside of the horn. Mao leaned over, whispering softly, “She’s detaching the placenta.”

“Oh,” he nodded, not having even considered the details, his eyes fixated on the small wiggling sac that clearly held a puppy.

Mao look at him, her eyes shining and bright, clearly excited about this part of her job, and the other tech, Naoko, “Ready guys?”

Ryosuke nodded, not entirely sure it was true, but he had little choice, and then Mao grabbed a towel from the warming tray, quickly moving to stand beside Elliot. The moment she had the puppy’s placenta disengaged, she lifted the puppy and placenta, moving her upper body to the side, her eyes catching Mao’s, “Don’t move your hands up, stay low,” to which Mao nodded, glad for the reminder as she always wanted to grab the puppies, nervous about the way they had to drop them to keep from contaminating the surgeon or the area.

“Puppy one is delivered,” Elliot spoke in a matter of fact tone, as she turned to resume her work.

The moment the puppy was in her hands Mao rushed across the room, and Ryosuke watched as she cut the sac open, her hands working quickly as she cleared the puppies nose and mouth and began rubbing it’s back to encourage it to take a breath. She tied off the cord and cut it, placing the placenta into a bag that was sitting across the table from where they were working.

“Wha—” Ryosuke started to ask her what they were doing with them.

Mao glanced over at him, her eyes lighting up as she seemed to measure him up, “I don’t think you really want to know that.”

“Huh?” Ryosuke didn’t understand what she meant, when Naoko leaned around him quickly to grab a towel from the warmer, causing him to jump, as he whispered, “The owners give it to the Mom, she eats them, it helps her bond with the puppies. Nature, man, it’s crazy, right?”

“Naoko!” Mao hissed, “I wasn’t going to tell him that!”

“Why not?” Ryosuke shrugged, “My family dog had puppies when I was younger, and the Mom ‘cleaned’ up the mess—I’m not surprised it is something you try to preserve even with assisted births like this.”

Mao stared at him for a moment, and then hummed softly, “You’re pretty okay,” she nodded, looking back down at the puppy.

“Glad I meet your approval,” Ryosuke mused, watching as Naoko stood poised by Elliot, his position the same as Mao’s had been, holding his hands low as Elliot dropped the next puppy into his hands. 

“Puppy two is delivered.”

Naoko came back to the station, repeating the same actions, and then Mao looked over at him, “Your turn.”

“Two minutes.”

She grabbed his hand and put it on the puppy, “Rub him here, keep doing it until I get back.”

“Okay!” Ryosuke did as she said, his eyes wide as he took in the tiny puppy, his hand moving carefully up and down his back as he stimulated him. He glanced over at Naoko who was wrapping his puppy up in a towel, reaching forward to lay it in the warming enclosure, glancing to Ryosuke, “That one’s a spitfire!” then he turned calling out “Two is stabilized and nested!”

Ryosuke laughed, not completely clear, but he surely did understand that some puppies would no doubt begin as fighters and others a little more slowly, glancing down as his puppy made a sound, a tiny precious sound, and he felt his heart melt as he heard Elliot’s voice call out.

“Puppy three is delivered.”

Mao returned next to him with another puppy, glancing at Ryosuke’s puppy, “He’s great, he’s doing fine, when he cries for thirty seconds straight you can put him in the heater,” she tilted her head to where the other puppy was, and Ryosuke nodded, smiling down at the puppy as it squirmed and fussed, counting in his head.

He glanced back over his shoulder to look at Elliot as she dropped another puppy into Naoko’s hands, her movements fluid and precise.

“Puppy four is delivered.”

After thirty seconds of his puppy crying actively, Ryosuke took him and wrapped him up, setting him carefully in the heater, to which Mao called out “One is stabilized and nested.” 

He looked at Elliot and couldn’t tell what she was doing, but after a moment she spoke, “Left horn is clear, four puppies removed, four placentas removed,” and then he noticed the tech who had been in the corner the whole time typing notes on a computer based on what she was saying, understanding there was a high level of communication happening in the room that he’d barely noticed and that the tech must be taking notes of everything happening.

He watched as Saya handed her a new pair of scissors and she quickly cut into the other horn, carefully ensuring that she didn’t harm the puppies within, and then she began the process of removing the next puppy. 

“Ryosuke!” Mao spoke from beside him, his eyes snapping to her as he heard the panic in her voice, “Go get the next one, we’re in trouble here, go low, hold your hands in a cupping way like you’re holding a baseball in them, don’t rise up, don’t go into her area, stay low and let her drop it down to you.”

“O-okay,” he felt his knees wobble as he grabbed one of the warm towels and moved over to stand beside Elliot, holding his hands as instructed, careful to keep them below where she would move to avoid touching her, and his eyes were wide as he watched her place the puppy on the drape and worked to remove the placenta. 

Standing on stage by himself with 50,000 people watching his every move, and being the sole source of entertainment? No problem! Catching a newly delivered puppy? TERRIFYING.

The second she’d affirmed the placenta was complete, she placed it with the puppy and picked them both up, twisting her body, and then she paused, jerking to a stop as her eyes met his, widening, “Ryosuke!”

“Drop it,” he stated firmly, nodding to encourage her.

She closed her eyes for a moment, and then she released the puppy, and there was a split second where they both were holding their breath, and then he felt the weight of it hit his hands and he instantly turned, rushing the puppy over to Mao.

“Puppy five is delivered.”

Mao called out over her shoulder, “Four is in distress, unstable respiration.”

“Three minutes.”

Ryosuke watched as Naoko took the puppy he’d just retrieved, quickly cutting the sack, suctioning, and passing it over to Ryosuke to rub as he went back to puppy three.

Ryosuke immediately started to rub the puppy’s back, watching as Mao continued to work on four, while Naoko tended to three, Ryosuke’s eyes flashing over to look at Elliot who was consumed with delivering the last puppy, not looking up when she spoke, “Sublingual dose of naloxone, don’t panic, we’ve got this, we’re still in a good window Mao.”

Mao had the ampule of drugs already in her hand, but she had to have permission from Elliot to give it to the puppy.

Ryosuke watched as Mao continued to tend to puppy four. 

“Puppy six is extracted,” Elliot’s voice called out, clearly unsure of what was going on at the neo unit.

“Go get the last one,” Mao ordered, stopping Ryosuke’s hand, as she began massaging both puppy three and four, “Hurry!”

He nodded, grabbing another towel and rushing across the room, where Elliot was working to remove the last puppy’s placenta. 

He waited, holding his hands low, carefully making sure he wasn’t in her range of motion, and once the placenta was released, she placed it with the puppy, carefully picking it up and turning, her eyes bright as she looked at Ryosuke, “Some first date, huh?”

He laughed softly as she dropped the puppy into his hands without hesitation this time, his voice filled with humor, his words surprising Elliot as he was so blunt in front of everyone there when he spoke, “In all fairness, it’s my first date ever, I honestly have no basis of comparison.”

There was a quiet moment as Ryosuke rushed back to the neo unit with the last puppy, and then Saya snickered followed by a loud snort, and then a giggle bubbled up from Elliot, and within moments the room was filled with laughter. Mao was laughing so hard she had tears rolling down her face as she placed puppy three into the warming enclosure, her other hand still rubbing puppy four.

Naoko took puppy six from Ryosuke, then handed him five to take care of while he stabilized the last puppy.

“Three is stabilized and nested,” the words were strained with laughter as Mao spoke them.

Ryosuke couldn’t help but laugh, because everyone was still giggling, and he appreciated how everyone was like a happy family, reminding him of the friendship he has with Jump.

He smiled when Elliot cleared her throat, her words clearly spoken with a smile, “Right horn is clear, two puppies removed, two placentas removed,” she glanced over to the three at the neo unit, “Update from neo, please?”

“Puppies one, two, and three are responsive and stable, four is still unstable, and breathing is erratic, puppy five and six are responsive, but not yet stabilized.”

Elliot called out something which Ryosuke didn’t understand because all he could hear were the cute little sounds his puppy was making as he continued to rub the puppy’s back, and he couldn’t help but smile, because he was so adorable. 

“Okay,” Mao called out, reaching to retrieve the drugs, and then quickly administering them to puppy four.

He glanced over his shoulder as a conversation took place between Elliot and the anesthesiologist about how to handle the drugs, and then she went into a quiet world while she blocked out everything around her, and he saw an intensity in her he’d not seen before as she began the careful process of closing up the mother.

Mao glanced over to him, “Has he been talking for thirty seconds now?”

“There about,” Ryosuke nodded.

“Okay, wrap him and put him in the warmer,” she responded, going back to watch puppy four, as he rolled the puppy up in the towel and placed him carefully next to his siblings in the warming enclosure, as Mao called out over her shoulder, “Puppy five is stabilized and nested.”

Ryosuke turned to look at Elliot, who seemed to be completely engaged in working on the mother dog, bent forward at the waist, her hand moving quickly as she stitched her closed.  Elliot’s head popped up, her hands pausing their work, looking at the anesthesiologist, “One minute, thirty seconds, then start bringing her out.”

The woman nodded in understanding, and Ryosuke’s eyes widened as he watched Elliot’s hands move so quickly, with such precision it was hard to believe anyone could do something with such skill as she finished up the sutures.

“Puppy six is stabilized and nested,” Naoko called out as he leaned over to put the puppy into the warmer.

Elliot finished up the sutures, checking in with the anesthesiologist to make sure she was drawing back the drugs, but also giving her the proper post-surgery meds, staring down at Taiki, anxious for her to wake up. When she started to stir, Elliot felt like she could take a deep breath, her eyes blinking open sleepily, Elliot leaned over to look at her, “Good girl! You did good, Momma! Wait till you see your sweet babies!”

She talked to Saya about moving her to recovery, preparing her for nursing and being on standby with oxytocin if her milk didn’t let down within the hour, and getting the “to go” bag and information ready for the family.

Saya listened intently, then nodded, understanding.

“How’s four?” she called out to the others as she stepped to the side to give Saya access to the dog, slowly moving across the space toward the neo team. Ryosuke turned to look at her, their eyes connected, and he could tell she was concerned.

“Still struggling,” Mao responded without looking up, Naoko glanced over at Ryosuke, his brows furrowed, frowning, and Ryosuke couldn’t help but feel like there was a gigantic stone settled into the middle of his stomach.

Elliot moved to the corner to take off her gloves and gown quickly, then slipped on a fresh set, moving to the Neo unit to check in on four. When she got close, Mao shifted to the side, letting her slide into her spot and take over. Elliot worked quickly, checking the puppy over, then gesturing for Mao to take the other puppies to Saya, along with the bag so they could get them ready to take to recovery together.

Ryosuke wasn’t sure what he should do, watching as Mao and Naoko grabbed the puppies up and took them across the room, and then his eyes landed back on Elliot who had piled the towel with the puppy up, holding it very close to her chest as she moved her hand up and down her back, leaning her head over the puppy’s body, listening intently, her eyes closed.

“Is there anything I can do?” Ryosuke whispered.

“She may not have been viable,” Elliot responded, trying to keep her voice smooth, her eyes opening and meeting his, “That happens.”

She knew it sounded clinical, and she also knew that Ryosuke knew it was anything but that to her, but she couldn’t afford to be emotional at this point, not while she was still in doctor-mode. 

Ryosuke stared at her, not liking the weight of the tiny creature in her hands seeming to have so much power over them, sadness flooding him, and he realized how hard this really was–to be responsible for such heavy moments of life and death—even when dealing with animals, maybe even especially dealing with them.

Elliot glanced at the clock, “Sometimes it can be a while, we don’t stop trying until after thirty minutes.”

She slowly opened the towel, and they both looked at the tiny, practically motionless puppy, so tiny, it’s breath labored, body curled up like it could just be sleeping, Elliot moved the towel so her own hands would be touching the puppy, glancing up at Ryosuke and offering a meek smile, “We’ll keep trying.”

Ryosuke tilted his head, nodding when he realized she just needed it, even if nothing came of it, so he reached over, helping her wrap the puppy back up, the towel tucked under her hands, stepping closer, just to let her know he was there. 

Elliot glanced up at him, “I want to try one more thing,” she shuffled toward him, carefully transferring the puppy into his hands, pressing his hands toward his chest, “The heat from your body is good.”

Ryosuke nodded as she tucked the towel around his hands, and then she moved around the cart, opening and closing drawers until she found a different suction tool. She stepped back over to him, “I’m going to check her airways again, okay? It may sound bad, but don’t worry, I won’t hurt her.”

Ryosuke nodded, and then she set to work, Ryosuke watched as she concentrated, her eyebrows pulled down, her hand jerking her mask down below her chin at this point as she carefully suctioned out the puppy’s lungs again.

He gasped when he felt it, the sudden movement under his palms, “She…she’s moving!”

Elliot’s eyes were wide as she stared at him, “Really!?”

He quickly unwrapped the towel from his hands, revealing the puppy which was squirming, tiny grunts coming from it as it voiced its displeasure at the disturbance, and more likely, being born in general.

Elliot watched the puppy, counting her breaths, and then she carefully wrapped the puppy up softly in Ryosuke’s hands, her finger resting on the puppy’s throat, continuing to assess her breathing. The puppy continued to protest, and Ryosuke couldn’t help but smile at the sounds, at the way the puppy was moving now compared to a few minutes ago.

Elliot was counting and listening, but she was also watching Ryosuke, who was clearly having a moment with this puppy. She didn’t feel relief quite yet, but she felt contented, because he was there and no matter what that meant that everything was going to be okay.

She smiled when Ryosuke whispered to the puppy, “You almost didn’t make it, little lady…almost…it’s a good thing you have such a talented veterinarian to take care of you.”

Elliot grinned, shoving him lightly with her shoulder, glancing up when Mao came back over, “Boss! Did you stabilize her?”

“Uh-hmm,” Elliot confirmed, instantly moving into teaching mode, “Sometimes, puppies will inhale some of the fluids that are left after the first suction–which tend go deeper into the lungs. You can usually hear a rattling sound—you have to listen carefully, best to get a stethoscope to do it to be sure, but when that happens you have to suction them deeper, and of course, more carefully. Them aspirating is problematic—we’ll need to give four a shot of antibiotics just to make sure we don’t have a bit of pneumonia set in…be sure to let Saya know in case they move them before I can finalize the charts.”

“I didn’t know that,” Mao nodded, she asked Elliot a few more tips on procedure and then left to tell Saya the plan.

Elliot turned to look at Ryosuke, smiling, her voice soft, “You did good.”

“Shut up,” Ryosuke rolled his eyes, “I caught puppies from ten inches—you were like…I mean…seriously…you just…”

Elliot laughed at how inarticulate he was, “I did my job…”

“You were like a work of art,” he spoke, his voice filled with reverence, laced with awe, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Elliot tilted her head to the side, “A work of art?”

“I don’t know how to explain it,” he admitted, “It was just…you were…breath-taking.”

“I understand,” Elliot nodded, reaching over to pull down his mask so she could see his face, “I think it’s probably what I feel when I see you on stage.”

Ryosuke hummed in agreement, “Probably.”

Naoko came through the door, “I’m here to collect four! Good job, Boss!”

“I can’t believe Saya has all of you calling me that now,” Elliot rolled her eyes, grumbling, “Her and I are going to have a talk.”

Naoko shrugged as he carefully took four from Ryosuke, and then Elliot led him over to the corner, showing him how to remove his gloves so he wouldn’t contaminate anything, then the gown.

Before Elliot had finished, she glanced up to see Dr. Maeda standing in the doorway.

“What in the world are you doing here?” 

He laughed, “Watching you,” to which Elliot shook her head, “I figured this was one way to get you to do a solo surgery—I wasn’t wrong.”

“What?” Elliot stood up straight.

“Well, my wife was in an accident,” he shrugged, “But she’s only in the hospital because she’s a bit of a drama queen. When I told her that I wasn’t going to come she was furious with me—told me to get over here—and get here so if you needed me I could step in.”

“You…” Elliot was flabbergasted.

“You didn’t need me at all, though I did observe most of the procedure.”

Elliot didn’t know what to say, tilting her head, and Dr. Maeda moved backward toward the door, “At any rate, job well done Dr. Meadows! I’ll take it from here, so you can go home and finish your date.”

“Saya!” Elliot hissed under her breath, then cleared her throat, “Thank you, Dr. Maeda. I don’t mind finishing up.”

“Nonsense,” he responded quickly, waving her off, “I don’t have anything else to do now, I’ll go counsel the family and handle the release and such and you two go back to your date!”

“Thank you!” Elliot bowed, then gestured her hand to Ryosuke, “This is Yamada Ryosuke.”

Dr. Maeda nodded his head in greeting, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Yamada-san.”

“Likewise, sir,” he responded, and then smiled when the doctor turned and waved, rushing down the hallway.

“He’s a nice man,” Ryosuke turned to look at Elliot.

“I’m going to kill Saya,” she frowned, shaking her head, “She must have told everyone!”

Ryosuke laughed at her fury as they left the room, stopping in the prep room, where she reached over, plucking the cap off his head, and then her own to throw out, running her fingers through his hair to fix it, frowning because not a single hair was out of place though she was positive she was a bigger mess now than when she’d greeted him at the door this morning.

She leaned over slipping the footie covers off her feet and laughed as Ryosuke did the same but somehow did it far more gracefully than she could ever do it, she shook her head, “Show off.”

“Not today,” he mused, reaching over to take her hand as they moved to the lockers to collect their clothes and such so they could go home, but he stopped her, pulling her close as he rubbed his nose against hers, smiling, “Today the only one who shined was you—today was all you, Elliot.”

Elliot rolled her eyes, “I don’t know about all of that,” she wrapped her arms around his waist, pulling him close, “You did good, I think we would have lost four if you hadn’t been there to help, so thank you.”

He laughed lightly, “You’re too kind, but I did nothing but discover that I am glad I am an Idol and not a veterinarian or assistant–I don’t think…I couldn’t really do this all the time.”

“I can tell you, you’re entirely too distracting in the OR, I definitely couldn’t work with you here every day,” she mused, dragging him into the locker room.

“Distracting, huh?” he mused with a tone laced with mischief, turning to look at the doorway when he heard the door swing open.

Saya poked her head into the room, “Boss?”

Elliot glanced over at her, “Yah?”

“A word?”

“Hold that thought,” Elliot whispered, then reluctantly stepped out of his embrace to the hallway to speak to Saya.

Ryosuke felt her loss instantly and wondered at the idea that she affected him so dramatically, so completely, his eyes riveted to her form through the window in the door as she stood in the hallway discussing something about the puppies with Saya.

Elliot signed the paperwork, telling Saya she’d check in later, and then turned to walk back to where Ryosuke had been watching her.

When she swung the door open she squealed, finding herself caught up in his arms, his eyes bright as he shuffled her backward until she hit the wall, and whatever else she’d expected, it wasn’t the smattering of kisses he placed all over her face and neck, causing her to squeal in protest.

“You! Are! Amazing!” he gushed between kisses.

She laughed, drawing her arms up to hug him, “Is that right?”

“Exactly right,” he mused, his mouth close to her ear, his voice velvety soft, like silk across her ear, “I want to marry you, Dr. Meadows.”

Elliot’s eyes were wide when he pulled back, his eyes blinking softly, his expression clear and unassuming, painted with such love and affection, his fingertips grazing her cheek, “I want you to marry me, Elliot.”

Elliot couldn’t get her mouth to work, as it just kept opening and closing, and then he leaned forward, resting his forehead on hers, “One day soon, you’ll say yes.”

“Ryosuke,” the breath rushed out of her, “We can’t get married now, we’ve only known each other for si—”

“Pfft. Sounds like an adult talking to me,” he rolled his eyes, “That’s fine, I told you I’d ask you this weekend, so I have,” he kissed her quickly, “I’ll ask again, don’t worry.”

“If you keep asking me like this how in the world will know when you’re really asking me?” She really meant the question, because he teased her all the time asking, and she wondered how in the world she would know that he really, truly wanted to marry her.

“Oh, don’t be confused, Elliot, I am really asking you,” he paused, his eyes firm on hers, letting the words sink in, as she swallowed roughly, nodding, because now she thought maybe she did understand, and he grinned as he continued to speak, “I just know you’re not ready to say yes, yet….that said, when I know you’re ready to say yes, you’ll know I am fully aware that you’re a sure thing.”

She laughed at that, shoving him lightly, “How do you think you’ll be so sure?”

“I’m smart that way,” he smiled as he reached beside her to grab the bag Saya had put his clothes into, “I’ll know.”

“Well, be sure to tell me when it’s the ‘one’ then,” Elliot teased, turning to grab her bags as they moved toward the door to go back home to finish their date.

“Oh,” Ryosuke nodded, grabbing her hand, leading her to the door, “You’ll know, don’t worry.”


Well, so…this monster is well over 12,000 words and I HAD to stop writing here even though they aren’t even finished with their date! haha The next chapter will be the second half of their first date lol I just can not with these two! <3 

Also, I am NOT a vet. I have never worked at a vet. I researched this chapter to the best of my abilities, however, there may be inaccuracies because again, I am not a vet and do not play one on tv. I spent a week reading and watching videos (yes, videos of real pupper c-sections), and talking to my family members who are nurses–so, I did my very best to make this as accurate as I could to reality–however, it still might be lacking. I did my very best though so I hope you enjoyed it at any rate! I kept the more technical aspects out of it on purpose!  

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