Hello! After seeing the raws and reading some fan translations I felt a dire need to put my fluffy thoughts into text.
She felt her heartrate escalate as she waited outside his apartment. Tonight was the first time she was going to meet with him at his home since that… eventful elevator incident.
Sure, it had been a month since then, and sure, they had met privately during stolen moments between filming and sets and interviews and what not.
But never this intimately.
Kyoko took a deep breath. This would be fine, she told herself. When he had asked her to come over earlier that day she had surprised them both by not even hesitating to accept his offer.
That day had changed everything. It shook the very foundation of her being, and yet, she felt as if a great weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. The uncertainty that had put such a heavy wall of sadness and straight out grief between the two just… vanished.
Something clicked into place within her.
Kyoko whispered a prayer to herself and pressed the doorbell.
When the initial shock had settled she had been terrified she would never be able to hold a normal conversation with that man ever again. How could she? After all he had said- after all SHE had said…?
The lock turned and the door opened, bathing the dark hallway in warm light.
Her breath hitched in her throat.
"Hi" the softness of his voice matched the warmth of his smile.
"Hi" she answered with only the slightest pause. A smile spread on her face, impossible to suppress in his presence.
Tsuruga Ren offered to take her grocery bags as he stepped to the side to let her in.
"Punctual as always," he chuckled "Welcome"
"Well, why break a good habit." She laughed, while gracefully stepping inside. "Thank you"
While she removed her shoes and jacket Ren informed her he would start to unpack the groceries in his kitchen.
In a way, Kyoko had been right. The way they interacted now was nowhere near the old definition of "normal".
Sure, she had been blushing and stuttered uncontrollably the first few times, but there was something very different about it all now.
Comfort was the closest comparable word she could think of. Perhaps a tad paradoxical considering how undone it made her, but still! The way she felt herself relax in his presence- the way he seemed to relax in HER presence. The natural way they smiled, talked and behaved around each other was completely different and palatable.
They now knew. They knew where they had each other. They knew that none of them were going insane by the devices of their own imaginations. The sheer and raw honesty they had shared with each other tied a bond of trust between them.
The proof of that trust currently hiding in the form of a thin silver chain underneath her shirt – close to her heart where it belonged.
Kyoko walked through Rens' apartment, the scent of this place familiar even though it had been quite a while since she had last been there. Coffee and some kind of woody smell – cedar, perhaps? Then there was that specific scent that permeated the entire place, a scent uniquely to him and him only.
A scent she had become incredibly familiar with the last couple of months.
She felt a blush spread across her face as she moved to the kitchen where she found the source of her olfactory musings.
"As always I am ashamed to say I barely know what about fifty percent of all of these things are" Ren said amused, as he unpacked her bags.
"No, that must be a lie!" Kyoko said "Judging by your culinary skills I'd say thirty percent. Tops!"
"You wound me with your lack of faith!" He put a hand to his forehead, feigning hurt. "As your superior I find this as a worrisome sign of hubris!"
"You may be my superior on camera, but here," Kyoko gestured dramatically around the room "I am the one in charge and you are my lowly student"
"Lowly student!" Ren gasped "I say, I have plenty of exp-"
"What's this?" She held up one of the jars she had brought with her. He only eyed it briefly.
"I yield." He bowed low in front of her, like one of those european knights in front of their queen. "I am yours to mold to your liking, Sensei. Teach me your ways!"
Kyoko burst into uncontrollable laughter.
"Stop! Don't say it like that!" she managed to say inbetween giggles. "That is such a weird phrasing! To mold!"
"Well, I thought it was fitting in this context of cooking." He said innocently, but with a glint in his eye she had begun to recognize he continued "Or were you thinking of some other kind of molding?"
"No!" she burst out, completely redfaced "I would never- no I did NOT- I was-"
Now Ren was laughing loudly.
Kyoko threw a clean towel in his face.
"Onion duty, now!"
He continued to chuckle a bit, but dutifully went to work as she had instructed.
Different. Not normal. Comfortable.
They continued to work on the meal together like that; joking, laughing, teasing. They also discussed everyday things – little things about work or some little thought they had carried with them throughout that day.
This is how the last couple of weeks had been like whenever they were in the same room.
"Oh! Hold still! Some of the lettuce got stuck to your shirt" Ren reached over and plucked the little piece of green off her sleeve.
Little gestures, just like that. One particular moment she would never forget was the first time she did a similar thing: rotating a pin on his collar so it lined up perfectly with the rest of his attire. The close proximity to his being did not even register. Not until she felt the warmth radiate from his body as well as the hand he had placed over hers upon his chest.
"Thank you" she said softly, just as he had that time, a faint blush coloring her cheeks.
After about an hour of cooking and chattering the meal was finally completed. Kyoko placed two neatly organized plates on the table in the livingroom.
"Some days I am so caught up in your brilliance as an actress I forget you've actually spent many years working in the restaurant business" He marveled as he put two glasses down on the table. "Just look at that! If someone saw this out of context they would think I have hired a professional chef to stay with me at home!"
"You know, I would never enourage such a thing normally, but your eating habits are spectacularly terrible. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea?" Kyoko said with chuckle.
"Well… I have you…?" He made the statement sound like a question. Before she had a chance to even consider an answer he continued "I mean maybe we could cook together more often. I have a lot to learn and I quite enjoyed us working together in the kitchen."
Danger, an old, familiar voice whispered in her mind. Dangerous territory.
"I…" she began, trying to form a proper sentence while battling her conflicting emotions.
Then she looked at him. Really looked at him. His eyes bright, full of hope. His cheeks slightly colored, yet his brow and smile betrayed a feeling of worried anticipation.
Cute. That is what he was. Straight up adorable.
"I would love to." She finally said. "I really would. Please, go ahead and eat! This was a joined effort!"
He let out a relieved laugh but resumed to dig in.
After dinner they stayed in the sofa, the conversation flowing naturally. No one glanced at their watch or their phone, the empty plates forgotten with no intention of cleaning anything up in the immediate future.
They both laughed at some joke Ren made and they fell into a soft, comfortable silence.
"I enjoy this" he said at last.
"This," he gestured to her, to him, the forgotten plates. "I enjoy spending time with you. I enjoy eating, talking and laughing with you. It brings me immeasurable pleasure to just be with you."
He leaned his head on the headrest, still facing her. A rouge strand of hair fell gracefully across his face.
Everything about him was always so graceful.
Kyoko licked her lips, lost for words and lost in his gaze.
"I do too" she finally breathed. "It is hard to put into words. It is all still very difficult for me to process it all…"
She reached a hand to her neckline and pulled at the thin silver chain that had been hidden underneath her clothes. The little ornanental silver pendant hanging from the chain shined dully in the ceiling lamp light as it hung between them.
She heard how Ren sucked in a small breath.
"You still wear it?" He asked, reaching a hand to gently touch it with his fingers.
"Almost every day." She answered.
"And… do you want… to return it?" Reluctance and what could only be described as fear shone through every word.
"No!" she said, surprised by his question, and then more softly "No… to be honest it brings me great comfort to have it close to my heart."
She cradled the necklace in her free hand, grazing his index finger in the process.
He let out a shaky breath and took her closed hand in both of his. She widened her eyes, but did not attempt to pull away.
"I'm glad. I… am so glad." The gentle smile he said it with – the smile she once thought would be the end of her – made its appearance more and more often lately. She began to think that, maybe, that smile belonged on the evergrowing list of things she loved about him.
"You know… I meant every word I said that day I gave you this necklace"
"I know" she answered in a whisper, relishing in the sensation of her hand in his.
"And even though now isn't the time for us to pursue anything… further" he continued, lifting one hand to her face. He gently caressed her cheek with his thumb, his other fingers resting on her neck and behind her ear. "I want you to know that I am doing my upmost to bring us closer together in every way I can"
Kyoko felt her face heating and heart racing, but she did not break eye contact.
"There are so many things we still have to work out. To talk about. I have so many steps I yet have to take, and you" He sighed and swept his eyes over her face "you have stars to reach. And they are getting closer by every second."
"I know." she said once again and closed her eyes. "There are many things that are still unclear. But right now in this moment… can we just be?"
As she said this she leaned her face into the comfort of his hand, her eyes remaining shut.
She heard his breath as she felt him move. All her senses became overwhelmed as he leaned his forehead against her. She took a deep breath.
"Yes. Yes, I'd like that very much" he whispered, his breath mingling with hers.
They sat like this for what could have been a minute, or five or maybe twenty. Time had stopped meaning anything a long time ago.
All Kyoko knew was that it ended at some point, leaving her both completely full and empty at the same time.
They finally cleaned everything up and Ren gave her a ride home.
She thanked him a last time as she stepped out of the car.
With a last lingering look and a promise to repeat the event in a not too distant future he drove off.
Kyoko took a deep breath of the cool night air and looked toward the stars.
Maybe, she thought, maybe one day.
She turned and went inside the Daruma-ya.
Hope was the feeling she fell asleep with.
A/N And there we go. My first fanfic in about 8 years. How about that. The last couple of chapters have truly sparked some emotions I wasn't aware I still had regarding this particular couple.
I hope you enjoyed it!