Characters: Kanjani8, News, Various other JE boys. Surprise appearance of Tackey and Tsubasa in this chapter (don’t ask, I have no idea)
Main Focus: Ryo
Summary: An unexpected event rips the hearts of Kanjani8 and News members. They are left to attend their wound while looking after one of their own.
(side note: this is NOT a death fic, even though it looks like it.)
Format: Multi-Chapter Story
Warnings: This is set during spring 2010 while News was still a six-member group and *obviously* Subaru was still in the band. Also trigger warning for nervous breakdown I guess?
Chapter 14: Trepidation
Ohkura was strolling down the halls of the agency when he came face to face with one Kato Shigeaki.
“Ah, sorry,” he mumbled and turned to walk around Shige. He wasn’t in the mindset to confront anyone, especially not a News member.
“Wait!” Shige stopped him. He was tense, his eyes huge and his mouth a thin line.
Ohkura raised an eyebrow at the younger and stopped at his track. The youngest member of News seemed on edge. This was weird. “Yes?”
“Erm…” Shige squirmed under the others frown. “How is Nishikido-kun?”
“If you are so concerned, shouldn’t you go and see him?” Ohkura couldn’t help but scold. He wasn’t in the mood to comfort a worried band member. He found News’s treatment of Ryo cold as always.
“I… Well…” Shige stumbled on his words.
“Good morning Kura!” a third voice interrupted them. Ohkura and Shige turned to see Maru strolling down the hall. “Ah Kato-san, hi.” He greeted warmly with a bright smile stretching his face.
“Uh… Hi Maruyama-san.” Shige bowed his head for an inch.
Ohkura’s gaze didn’t falter; he still eyed Shige with a suspicious frown. Maru looked between them.
“What is going on? Is everything alright?” Maru asked, raising his eyebrows in concern.
“Nothing… nevermind…” Shige mumbled, frustrated.
Ohkura turned to Maru. “He is asking about Ryo-chan.” He said with frustration.
“Hmm…” Maru looked at them, confused. “Why wouldn’t you say so?” He offered Shige a warm smile. “He is much better, though he is struggling with his dance steps… His body is not healed enough for that.”
Shige nodded and murmured a ‘thanks’ before walking away. His head was still low.
“What was that all about?” Maru questioned, looking after the youngest News member. He turned to Ohkura with puckered lips. “Tatsu?”
Ohkura shrugged but a frown was still visible on his face. “I have no idea. Another ‘News versus Nishikido’ example maybe?”
“Tatchan!” Maru objected. “You are unexpectedly harsh today.” He looked at his friend with wide eyes as they started to walk down towards their dressing room.
“I guess I am angry at them…” Ohkura trailed off.
“And why?” Maru encouraged him.
“Well… The way they tried to snatch Ryo away from us pisses us all, right?” he nodded to Maru as the other did the same. “But, what pisses me more is, in the end they don’t actually know him or his desires, what’s in his heart…”
Maru didn’t answer. He looked away, a far off look on his eyes. The topic was all too delicate for all eleven of them. They had their hardships with sharing a member between them. Not to mention both groups were situated in different cities. They were not allowed to complain publicly about schedules. Not that they would ever. And definitely not to Ryo.
Ryo’s hardships were much more severe, being torn between two groups and giving it all to both of them. They never heard him complain once though. Sure, he would act spoiled and demand some attention from the members. But that was because he was their little brother and had been acting the same since their junior days.
Maru sighed; if only Ryo could remember all this.
Ohkura turned to stare at him. “And you know what, they keep him at arm’s length all the time.” He continued, unaware of Maru’s racing thoughts.
“Hmm…” Maru looked up at the other’s eyes, thoughtful.
“Don’t tell me you agree with them?!”
“Eh?” Maru exclaimed in surprise. “I am not on their side Tatchan!” He let out a tired sigh. “But, I think we are not really listening to Ryo-chan either. Or, well, were not listening.”
“The hell with that!” Ohkura growled. “We know Ryo-chan much better than them, hell we treat him much better.”
Just at that moment Yamapi brushed past him. Both Kanjani members startled. They braced themselves for a harsh comeback from the News leader, or at least a glare directed at them. They were openly criticizing the other group after all. But Yamapi didn’t even lift his head to acknowledge their presence. He silently strolled down the corridor, shoulders sloping.
“Now what’s with that?” Ohkura asked curiously. “What is wrong with News today?”
Maru shrugged before they both continued their walk towards the dressing room.
“Ah, Ryo-chan.” Ohkura said in surprise. “You are early.”
Ryo was curled up on one of the couches, reading a magazine. He glanced up towards the new comers and turned back to his reading. Subaru, Yasu and Yoko were sitting next to the table nearby.
“Whassaaaap!” Maru greeted them cheerily to liven the mood.
“Nothing much.” Subaru answered as he too was reading a magazine.
“Oh?” Ohkura looked at Ryo. The amnesiac was quite but looking at ease from where he lay.
Maru walked over to Ryo and greeted him rather loudly. “Morning, Morning, MOOORNIIING Ryo-Chaaaaan!”
Ryo startled and looked up. His eyes were filled with fear and his body visibly shrank back into the couch.
“Idiot!” Ohkura smacked Maru’s head. “What kind of greeting is that!” He grabbed Maru’s arm and directed him away from the couch.
“Ow!” Maru pouted. “I am just happy to see Ryo-chan. Subaru and Yoko chuckled at that but didn’t say anything.
Ryo turned his gaze back towards his reading, pretending to look unaffected of Maru’s sudden exclamation. But his fast and shallow breathing gave him away.
Ohkura curled his lips in concern, but stayed silent on the matter. Rather, he turned to the other members. “Hey. Let’s get ready.” He pulled Maru towards the other side of the room. It was better not to spook Ryo too much.
Ryo let out a shudder once they turned their backs on him. He wasn’t sure he could do this today. The idea of dancing in close proximity to others was overwhelming.
“Morning,” greeted a Murakami Shingo. “Ready for rehearsal?” They all greeted him with cheerful expressions.
“Let’s get ready!”
Ryo forced himself up and started to get ready for the dance. But one glance at the others gathering around him sent his stomach in to knots. He started to shake his head unconsciously and backed away until his back hit the mirrored wall.
All Kanjani eight member’s eyes were on him in an instant. Yasu and Subaru exchanged a worried glance. Yoko stood at the back of the crowd; his mouth slightly open in confusion.
“Ryo-chan?” Ohkura voiced his concern.
“Are you feeling unwell? Do you want to go home?” Yassu asked.
“I can’t.” Ryo started to mumble while slowly sliding towards the door. “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t…”
“Okay,” Hina said soothingly. “It’s okay. You don’t have to.”
“Let one of us take you home.” Ohkura tried.
Ryo shook his head in disagreement and opened the door with a shaking hand. He didn’t look back as he left the room.
All Eito members stared in shock.
“What was that?”
“He was okay yesterday.”
“What should we do.”
“He shouldn’t be alone.”
While the band tried to make a decision, Ryo faltered down the hall and eventually crumbled to the floor. Tears were now flowing down his cheeks; he was shaking so bad that his body started to ache. He felt his head meet the floor, his gaze locked on the opposite wall.
Somebody was calling his name. Ryo couldn’t make out who; to be honest, he didn’t care either. He tried to wrap himself to avoid the shaking but it was an unsuccessful attempt.
Someone grabbed his shoulder and Ryo shrieked.
“Ryo-chan! Ryo-chan, it’s okay. It’s okay.”
Ryo felt his body lifted from the floor to a sitting position. He came face to face with Tackey.
“It’s okay, don’t worry.” The other smiled at him reassuringly. Another man was standing nearby, dumbfounded.
Ryo tried to wipe away his tears with trembling fingers and stared at the floor.
“Tsubasa? Can you please arrange the car? I think Ryo-chan needs to go home.”
The other man left without uttering another word. Ryo heard footsteps approaching as Tsubasa’s faded.
“Oh my- Are you okay.”
“We shouldn’t have let him leave!”
Ryo startled and cringed away from the sound. His arms unconsciously wrapped around his torso. Tackey immediately raised a hand to stop the others.
“Hey,” Takki called to Ryo in a calm voice. “It is okay. Everything is okay Ryo-chan. Just look at me. Come on, lift your head.” Tackey smiled at Ryo reassuringly. “It’s okay.
Ryo slowly lifted his gaze and looked tentatively at Takki.
“There you go.” Takki smiled. “Now take a deep breath and hold it. Good, you are doing good. Exhale.” Takki’s smile was encouraging. “No, don’t look anywhere but me. Now again, take a breath…”
Ryo felt himself calming step by step. He wasn’t expecting Takki to have this effect on him, but here he was, starting to feel composed again.
“Any one got water?” Tackey asked without looking up.
There was a small crowd starting to gather around them already. A few junior groups were on the hall besides Eito. One of the juniors handed Tackey a water bottle immediately.
Ryo looked sideways, tired and embarrassed. Tackey had one hand on his shoulder and another offering a water bottle. “Drink this. You’ll feel better.”
Somehow, Ryo didn’t flinch away from Tackey and accepted the water. His trembling fingers wrapped around the bottle and he forced himself to drink. Even though he spilled half of it, the sip he took was refreshing. He mumbled an incoherent thanks to Tackey.
“I’ll take you home. Are you well enough to get up now?”
Ryo glanced towards his bandmates shamefully. “Erm.” His voice was hoarse.
Subaru crouched next to Takki. “It’s okay, Ryo. You don’t have to push yourself.” He offered a big smile to him. “Take it easy, go rest.”
Ryo nodded in embarrassment. He lifted his face to offer an apologetic smile at his bandmates while trying to avoid any eye contact. But then his eyes locked on to Yamapi and his small smile vanished. The other looked stunned and ashamed.
Ryo’s head dropped. “Yes, please,” he whispered at Takki. “Please take me home.” He didn’t turn to look at anyone else as he let Takki help him up. The silence behind him was deafening.
Once they reached the car, Ryo saw the other man, Tsubasa, waiting for them with the back door opened. The man was smiling at him encouragingly.
Ryo held his face down with shame as he let Takki half carry him to the car. Once settled down, Ryo saw Takki turn to Tsubasa and ask for the car keys.
“Like hell. I am not going to just leave after that.”
“Tsubasa… It might not be a good idea to have… company.”
“The situation is delicate.”
“Okay. I understand that… But at least let me drive.”
Tackey sighed. “You keep making fun of me but you are pretty considerate to you juniors too, eh?” He chuckled.
Tsubasa half shrugged with a smile and got in the driver seat.
Ryo let his body lay down on his side and listened to the soft music Tsubasa put on as they drove back to his house. He watched the street lamps appearing and disappearing in the blue sky. Somehow it was soothing. Either that, or he was too exhausted to feel anything else.
“I’m sorry.” He mumbled, his eyes drooping.
Both guys chatting in a low voice stopped immediately. Takki turned his head towards Ryo and smiled.
“There is nothing you should apologize for.”
Ryo didn’t say anything, just stared back. But it was evident he didn’t think the same way.
“Don’t blame yourself Ryo-chan.” He said sweetly. “There is nothing for you to feel guilty about.”
Tsubasa checked him from the rear mirror. “It’s okay kid. Don’t push yourself too hard.” He couldn’t see Ryo of course, but he still felt checking on the younger.
Ryo stared at the back of the seats. He felt emotionally drained. But, he shouldn’t have let the very people who had been there for him from the beginning down.
“Don’t overthink. Especially not today. Just focus on relaxing, nothing else.” Tsubasa’s voice was soothing. “You know, we can just have a day off and go sightseeing.” he suggested, glancing at the mirror.
“Hmm… What do you say Ryo-chan? Would you like to go somewhere?”
Ryo thought about it for a minute. A part of him told him he caused enough nuisance for today. Another part of him found the car ride relaxing.
He closed his eyes. “Can we… Can you just… drive?”
“Drive?” Tackey turned to Tsubasa questioningly.
Tsubasa shrugged. “Why not? Say, Ryo, would you like to see some greenery. We can drive through a forest road, and you can watch the trees as you lay down?”
Ryo didn’t look up but gave a small nod.
“Yosh, it’s settled then.” Takki grinned. “Let’s see some nature.”
Tsubasa smiled at his friends and drove towards a road he recently discovered and slowed down to a decent pace so they could enjoy the sight.
It was a narrow road surrounded by long trees on each side. Tsubasa let one of the windows roll down a bit to let in the fresh spring air.
Ryo watched tree after tree, branch after branch pass by the window. He found himself calming down, his expression softened as he watched the nature slip by. He heard the other two chatting in a low voice but didn’t mind them.
Ever since waking at the hospital, Ryo felt completely at ease for the first time.
“Say, Ryo, would you like to-” Takki turned to find his junior drowsing off peacefully. “Ah, he is asleep.” He watched the other with concerned eyes for a while. “Maybe we should pull over? What if we bump on something and wake him up. What if he has another episode?”
“You don’t have to mother all your juniors you know.”
Takki turned at his friend. “What? Come on, you didn’t expect me to leave him at that state, did you?”
Tsubasa chuckled. “No. but you don’t have to be concerned by his every move. Calm down and let the boy sleep.”
Takki snorted. “I am calm.”
“Okay. Did you inform the others? Subaru is probably having a heart attack right now.”
“Yes, yes, I sent them a text.” He stared out of the window. “Calling him boy.” Tackey chuckled. “You are not that older than him.”
Tsubasa laughed. “You are not much older than Yamapi but you are still his papa.”
Ryo woke up to find himself curled comfortably under a blanket. The car had stopped in the middle of a forest road and windows were half down. He could hear the birds chirping and water flowing. He turned to lay on his back and watched the sunrays slipping between the leaves.
It was extremely calming.
He could stay like this forever.
It was at least half an hour later that he lifted himself from the backseat. The car was empty but Ryo could make the silhouettes of the two men sitting on a nearby tree trunk, immersed in a conversation.
Two more strangers that apparently knew him but Ryo couldn’t remember. Two more strangers he let down. But Ryo couldn’t bring himself to feel guilty. He didn’t want to break the peace he was feeling at that moment. It was a rarity for him – a luxury.
Ryo opened the door, causing both men to lift their heads towards him.
He wrapped the blanket around his body and took a few tentative steps.
“Thank you.” He said shyly, averting his gaze. He could feel his face heating up. They waited for him to continue, but he didn’t. He just stood there grazing the dirt with one foot.
Tsubasa was the first to approach him. He patted Ryo’s shoulder and smiled at him. “Not a problem. It’s been a nice change of scenery for us too.”
Ryo stared up at the older, surprised. “I…”
Tsubasa raised his eyebrows “Hmm?”
Ryo averted his eyes. “Sorry, I don’t remember you.” He mumbled.
He wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but it wasn’t definitely Tsubasa chuckling. “Boy! Why are you even sorry for? It’s not your fault. Just take it easy.” He patted Ryo’s shoulder once more and walked towards the car.
Ryo didn’t know how to react to that.
“Do you want to stay for a bit?” Tackey approached him with a smile.
Ryo nodded and settled himself on the far end of the trunk. He wrapped his arms around his legs and watched the nature with calm eyes.
“This was really…” he started but couldn’t continue. He felt all shy again.
“Hmm?” Takki encouraged, rearranging the blanket around Ryo’s shoulders.
“Thisws..lful.” Ryo mumbled, blushing.
“What?” Tackey chuckled.
“It was helpful. Th-thank y-you.”
“Oh I see. I am glad.” Tackey beamed at him.
Ryo rubbed his flushed cheeks. And stared at the small river flowing under the sun. they stayed there, silently watching the birds flying, squirrels jumping around.
Only after an hour Ryo broke the silence. “I think I would like to go home now.” He would have loved to stay there a bit more, but his aching back was disagreeing. All he wanted was a good shower and a comfortable bed at the moment.
Tackey watched the other stumble towards the car. “Say, Ryo, would you like to eat something before going home? Something nice and sweet? I hear chocolate helps a lot?”
Ryo made a face at Tackey. “I don’t think I like sweet, so no.”
Tackey let out a laugh.
To be continued…
A.N.: So a big HI to people who are reading this (especially to you Mari-chan).
I don’t know why T&T hijacked their way into this chapter, but I am glad they did. Apologies if they are out of character (they definitely are) since I don’t know them much.
For those who are reading, I would love to hear your opinions. Please don’t hesitate to comment! I will continue to write this story since I really love writing it J It would be nice to hear your opinions too!
Please excuse my mistakes as I am not a native English speaker. But I do try my best^^