A/N – There is so little a fan base for this Japanese drama on fanfiction-dot-net that I simply had to change that. Seriously, if you have the chance to watch this show (and I can recommend a variety of places to watch the entire five episodes that have been subtitled thus far), watch it. It can be a bit corny at times, but it's so simple and funny that you can't turn away without a smile on your face.
Shoutarou was not a happy man.
He glanced at his watch, his mouth twitching between a frown and a scowl as he noted the time. He could feel the eyes of his coworkers on him. It wasn't hard to feel the stares, the unasked questions hanging in the air. If one of them dared ask him why he was looking the way he did he swore he'd hit them over the head too. It was no secret that Shoutarou was generally in a bad mood when a certain other was late for work.
It was a daily occurrence now. Since her arrival at Little Angels Shoutarou hadn't known a peaceful moment in his life. Since her arrival he had taken to actually learning how to care for others. He worried, he fretted, and he did things so out of the ordinary that he often had to pinch himself before he went to bed to be sure it all wasn't some elaborate dream his mind was making up for him.
The pinch hurt every time, which meant it was no dream.
He didn't really understand it. His life had always centered on foreign women and wooing them for days at a time. Shoutarou had never once said the words "I love you" and meant them. They generally came out after knowing someone for four seconds, awed by her exotic beauty and language. Some might say that Shoutarou was a womanizer, and for the most part that would be true ... except that his record on that point was nearing nothing these days. He hadn't been out on a decent date in weeks.
And it was all her fault.
The name made Shoutarou twitch as he glanced down at his watch again, his face settling into a frown, his eyebrows knitting together with what might be considered worry. She was late, far later than she had ever been before.
Shoutarou couldn't really say what it was about her that bothered him the most: her naivety on the world around her; the fact that she was a little slow on the uptake; or the notion that she could save people's lives on her own. Perhaps it was the last one that bothered Shoutarou so much. Whenever she got it into her head that some funky dream was telling her to save a person's life Shoutarou almost always ended up involved. Oh, he could pretend he was helping her because of a promise to introduce him to a new foreign woman, or out of fear that she would tell Miki about his withholding receipts because he had a hobby of collecting them, but those wouldn't be the correct answers. It had started out that way, but as the weeks had gone on Shoutarou had begun to notice a bit of a routine forming. Momoko would run off with only the merest of words to another member of Little Angels about needing to be somewhere, which was generally code for her being up to the usual heroics she couldn't really perform on her own, and after about ten minutes of learning this Shoutarou would take leave, using a flimsy excuse or two before running out in search of Momoko.
Why did he do this?
Because Shoutarou worried about her. Momoko wasn't necessarily the brightest tool in the shed. She did things on a whim, usually jumping the gun and getting herself into even more danger. Shoutarou often told her that she'd be dead without him, which could be seen as more or less true. However, it wasn't just her health and being that Shoutarou worried about; he actually worried more about her mind.
Shoutarou didn't necessarily understand how she came to know about these events before they happened; he didn't honestly believe that business about her grandmother coming to her in a dream, but however she came by the information she almost always seemed to be telling the truth. Premonitions? Shoutarou didn't believe in that sort of thing, he was merely finding it harder and harder to say no to Momoko when she asked for help.
And he was finding it even harder to not wonder where she was when she wasn't at work. Shoutarou didn't like to see her cry – not after that event that Shoutarou liked to call the "stalker incident". He had seen how much it had affected Momoko to not be able to save one man's life; he knew it had torn her apart to know that the life she had saved seemed to be for nothing as the girl claimed to have never met the deceased before the series of events leading up to his death, and her own vow to keep contact with his killer, supporting him even after his terrible deeds.
The aftermath had affected Momoko to the point of being quiet for a few days. Shoutarou knew this because he had watched her. He didn't necessarily like to see her down; it made him feel like an ass whenever he called her out for not doing her job properly, which she generally didn't do.
He still didn't see why they kept her on at the agency. She was ... Shoutarou paused for a moment, his eyes gazing into nothing as he tried to come up with the right words to describe Momoko in his head.
That's what she was. When she didn't annoy him to death she was worrying him to death. Neither was a good emotion for Shoutarou. The man generally liked to be void of any emotion but love and flirtatious, though he supposed even those were fairly bad given that he wasn't good at either. He was good at being charming and that was about it. Oh, and giving orders. Yelling seemed to soothe his nerves. Speaking of which ...
"Akira!" barked Shoutarou loudly, breaking the silence of the room like a hammer. "Stop gawking and get to work! Don't you have papers to be filing?"
The man in question appeared to be frozen for half a minute before he nodded, muttering his apologies as he grabbed a pile of papers off of Miki's desk. Shoutarou pressed his lips together grimly, nodding in satisfaction as the entire room seemed to return to their work with a hurried manner. That would keep them from staring at him. It had been getting rather annoying to feel their eyes on him. The gods only knew what they had been thinking, for it was likely a common fact that he was waiting for Momoko to arrive.
Damn that girl, she was going to be the death of him and his reputation before long. Shoutarou turned his frown into a scowl as he glanced at his watch once again. Four hours late. Where was that girl?
Running a hand through his hair, Shoutarou picked up a paper on his desk and tried to concentrate on it, but two minutes later it was down and his watch was back before his eyes. This was getting ridiculous. Someone ought to tell Momoko what the standard was for being on time to work. She couldn't keep doing this or else she'd lose her job ... not that Mr. Higashi would ever fire her. The man had too big a heart to do that.
So why wasn't the boss worried about Momoko's absence?
Shoutarou glanced over in the direction of the company president, who himself seemed to be gazing off into space, though his expression was a bit vacant. Great, the man was daydreaming. Was no one else troubled by the fact that Momoko was not at work today? Weren't they wondering what was keeping that girl from messing up their jobs and making a general mess of the place?
Another minute passed. That was it. Shoutarou refused to sit and pretend to work any longer. He needed to get out ... and while he was at it he would swing by Momoko's place and see if she was even breathing.
Standing abruptly, Shoutarou ignored the looks sent his way as he began pulling his jacket on. "I'm going out for a bite to eat," he announced to no one in particular. They could think what they wanted. Shoutarou was above the opinions of his coworkers ... so long as they never mentioned it to his face or in front of Momoko. He didn't need her to think he cared about her or anything.
Shoutarou ignored the looks sent his way as he opened the office door and closed it shut behind him. Straightening his jacket he made his way down the steps, his mind going over the directions that would lead him to Momoko's residence. It was a bit embarrassing that he even knew the directions to her place, and should anyone find out about it and ask why he did he would simply state that he needed to know where all his coworkers lived ... though he'd be in trouble if they asked for an address to someone else's house.
The walk didn't take very long, or if it did Shoutarou didn't notice. Nothing really crossed his mind as he made his way to Momoko's place. He tried half a dozen excuses as to why he was in the vicinity, finally scratching them all for his usual persona with her: he'd tell her there was no excuse for being late to work and leave it at that. Yes, that was how he'd do it. There was no need to change himself around for Momoko. Confusing her wouldn't do any good, though there wasn't really anything to confuse her about ...
He pushed that thought outside his mind as he rounded the side of the building that Momoko called her home, coming to a dead halt as he came across Momoko sitting on the bottom steps, her eyes with a vacant expression as she stared straight ahead of her, her face clearly troubled by something.
Shoutarou hesitated. He hadn't really expected to come across her looking like this, though he didn't really know what to make of it. He did a run through in his mind of the last set of events he could recall with her. Nothing out of the ordinary popped to mind. Everything seemed to be the same old per usual – ah, perhaps that was it. Momoko had been through quite a bit, and the gods only knew how she was handling it all. Judging by the expression on her face Shoutarou didn't think she was doing as well as she claimed.
His anger melted, though he hadn't been all that angry to begin with. He moved to go back the way he had come and leave Momoko in peace, but his feet wouldn't budge in that direction. Instead they brought him forward until he was obstructing Momoko's eyesight. It took her a few moments to realize he was there, her eyes widening in surprise as she glanced upward at him.
She stood up quickly, her hands moving together in a nervous manner. "Otomo-san –"
"You didn't come to work today," he stated gruffly, his eyes moving to glance above her head rather than in her own eyes. He didn't like what he saw in them – pain and sadness. It wasn't the usual look she had. It wasn't her.
"I ... I tried." Momoko fell silent, her words seeming to fail her. Shoutarou glanced down at her again to see that she was staring at her feet, her hands still wrung together. The hardness of his face normally reserved for her evaporated. He wasn't sure what came over him, or why he acted as he did, but before he could really think about it Shoutarou was reaching towards Momoko, pulling her into his arms. She tensed for a moment, but then she relaxed, her arms going around his waist, clutching at his jacket. A moment passed and then Momoko began to shake as she began to cry into his chest.
Shoutarou said nothing. He merely tightened his grip around the girl and allowed her to cry. Somehow he knew she needed this, and somewhere in his soul he was glad he had chosen to come looking for her to share in this odd little moment that would seem like a simple act of kindness on his part. But Shoutarou knew the truth. There was nothing simple about this.
And oddly enough, he was glad.
He was glad Momoko Hasegawa had come to work with him all those weeks ago. He was glad she had roped him into her little world of saving lives and other worldly premonitions. And most of all, he was glad she was in his life.
One day he'd look back on it all and say that it was in that one simple moment that he knew he loved her. But one day was far off from today.
Today was simply just another day.