Chapter 2

Author's Chapter Notes

This took a while to come up with, but I'm trying to come out of my writing slump, so I really hope you guys enjoy this.
It had been two months since Ryo had been fired and Shige and Pi never failed to check up on him or try to make plans with him everyday, even though he often said no, to let him know that they would still be there despite them not working together anymore.

"You never want to hang out with us," Shige whined one day while Pi was trying to talk to Ryo on the phone. "I miss your face!"

"Shut up," Pi hissed and Ryo heard contact that was no doubt Pi's fist meeting Shige's chest. "He might be annoying about you not hanging out with us, but he's right, in two months you've met with us four times."
"Well, I mean I'm working and-"

Pi interrupted him. "You got that job like two days after you got fired, we work too, and we also offered to join you at your new job, but you declined that offer."

"Well that’s because the both of you have been there for over six years-"

"You just don't let people get close to you!" Shige yelled but the last part was muffled, as if Pi were covering the receiver on the phone... or Shige's mouth.

Ryo sighed. Playing it safe, that was his style when it came to his feelings and emotions; never let anyone in, and never get hurt.

But three people had been able to bypass that rule of his; his two best friends, Yamapi and Shige and the third, a person who he hadn't known for very long but had made a lasting impression on him in the short time they had together none the less, Masuda.

"I should get off the phone now."

"No, don't," Pi's voice was low and disappointed. "We both know Shige says things when he's upset-"

"Listen," Ryo interrupted. "He's right, and it's not fair to you guys... I've barely contacted either of you, I've never offered the two of you to come over, and constantly say no when I'm offered... And yet I still call you two my best friends-"

"We are!" Another annoying Shige interruption.

"You are." Ryo nodded as if they could see him. "But what I'm trying to say is, I'm going to try to pull myself out of this pity party that's been going on for entirely too long... but for now, I have to get off the phone and get ready for work, I'll call you later, okay?"

"Okay," Pi said hesitantly. "You will call, right?"

"I'll call." Ryo assured him before hanging up.

He tossed his phone onto his bedside stand and stood up; he really didn't want to go to work.
Work was never fun for Ryo, especially after talking to Pi and Shige; it always reminded him that the three of them no longer worked together.

It reminded him of someone else too, but he always did his best to avoid that subject.

Truth was though, it had been two months and barely a day went by that he didn't think about Masuda and, of course, when he tried not to think about the man, he only stayed longer in his thoughts.

It wasn't even Masuda he was trying to forget about; it was how he had just disappeared when he was fired, and that he knew the man was attracted to him he was just too scared to further anything even though he had the perfect opportunity.

Truth was he had known how the other man felt about him, he had known all along but only pretended not to know to try and convince himself that the feelings weren't mutual to make it easier to run away, but it didn't make it any easier, it just made him feel stupid.

But feeling stupid was much less painful than taking a risk, right? The pain of not taking a risk was much less than just diving head first into something where the outcome was unknown, right?

Pi would tell him to protect himself, that if he didn't want to do something, then don't do it. Pi always nurtured the careful side of Ryo's, even though he didn't always agree with how careful he was.

Shige, on the other hand, always pushed him to leave his comfort zone; "Get hurt if that's what it takes to get you out of your shell," was one of Shige's favorite things to say, and even though his intentions were good, those words were never any help.

Ryo truly was grateful for those two, they were so opposite but such great friends; but this was a decision he had to make himself.

Hurt himself by trying to protect his feelings, or figure out a way to take the risk of getting hurt by someone else, if it weren't too late.
Masuda sat at his desk, it was almost midnight; he stayed late once again, but he wasn't alone.

"You ready?" Tegoshi asked as he began to pack his things.

"Yeah, I just have to submit this last graph then we can get out of here." Masuda answered. "Thanks for letting me carpool with you these last two months."

"No problem," Tegoshi smiled. "You must be pretty lonely, huh?"

Masuda flinched a little at the question. They both knew the answer, but he had never said it out loud, and Tegoshi had never asked.

"Sorry, it's just been two months, and you still won't talk about it, or him," Tegoshi half apologized and half pressed the subject.

"I've asked for his number several times," Masuda began packing his stuff. "Even gave my number to Shige to give to him and still, nothing, let’s just leave it at that."

"I enjoy riding with you," Tegoshi sort of changed the subject. "Don't take this conversation wrong,"

"I won't," Masuda mumbled.
It was Saturday and Ryo hadn't been scheduled to work any overtime, so he had the day all to himself.

He picked up his phone, it was 7 in the morning... what was he doing up so early?

"Oh well," he mumbled and scanned through his contacts it was a long shot but he found the number he was looking for and stared at it for a moment. Was he really going to do this?

"Hello?" the groggy voice answered on the other end.

"S-shige," Ryo stuttered he felt a little guilty for waking the other man up.

"You actually called!" The other man practically cheered on the other end.

"Yeah, but-"

"It wasn't to talk to me, huh?" Shige cut him off. "You wake me up at 7 in the morning for another man's number?"

"I'm sorry," Ryo said quietly. "I shouldn't have called, I'll hang up now."

"Don't!" Shige yelled on the other end. "I was only kidding, it was only a matter of time, I knew this."

"So...." Ryo said slowly.

"So, I'll text it to you," Ryo could hear that Shige was smiling from ear to ear. "I'm glad you finally came to your senses and saw things my way."

"You kept it all this time, huh?"

"I did, because you know I know what's best for you,"

"Sure you do," Ryo rolled his eyes. "Thank you though, for not being angry.... and uhm, you know...."

"Knowing what's best for you, I know, you're welcome,"

They hung up without another word and Ryo stared at his phone which didn't take long to buzz and inform him that he had received a text.

"Here we go," he took a deep breath.
"I don't normally pick up for numbers I don't know on my personal phone." The man stated blandly as soon as he answered his phone. "But I received a warning text from a little birdie."

"Shige," Ryo mumbled. "Well, I'm surprised you did after you were warned..."

"I am too."

Masuda was always so blunt with his feelings and Ryo almost wanted to hang up and cower under his bed; this conversation was not going well at all.

"Look," Ryo tried to sound confident. "I got fired and then I didn't try to contact you..."

"Thanks for that instant replay."

"Just hear me out, okay?" Ryo kept going even though every part of him was screaming at him to hang up. "Will you meet me? It can be public or private, your choice, I just want to meet up."

"Now you want to meet up?" Masuda scoffed. "After standing me up the first time I asked to meet you, and then falling off the radar after I actually felt something between us?"

There was a silence, "I'm hanging up now."

"I felt it too!" Ryo exclaimed. "I felt it too."

"Then why are you just saying now?" Masuda's voice was so calm it made Ryo feel even worse.

"Please meet with me," Ryo sighed. "There's a coffee shop not far from where I live...Please."

"Two hours from now...I'll meet you there," Masuda hung up.

Ryo stared at his phone for a moment before scrolling through his contacts again but then shut it and began to get ready.

He grabbed his keys, locked the door behind him, and started to walk to the coffee shop that was only a block from where he lived.

He picked a seat once he reached his destination, and waited.

"You didn't stand me up." He looked up at the man standing above him.

"I thought about it," Masuda replied.

"Are you going to sit?"

"I'm still thinking about it."

Ryo sighed as the two made eye contact; for such a cute guy, he sure was cold when he was upset.

Even his eyes looked distant... his beautiful brown eyes.

"Did you invite me just to stare at me?" Masuda pulled him from his reverie.

"I invited you to apologize...."

"Is that it?"

"And to let you know that for the past two months I haven't stopped thinking about you," Ryo told him. "Is that creepy?"

"Only if I hadn't been doing the same thing," Massu replied as he sat down. "But... you really thought of me?"

Ryo watched Masuda's hard exterior soften for just a second as they looked at each other but then they were interrupted by the waitress who asked for their orders. They looked away from each other as they ordered.
Ryo tried to make eye contact again, but Masuda avoided his stare.

His eyes roamed everywhere except for in front of him."You hurt me."

"Isn't it easier to hurt someone than to be hurt?" Ryo let slip, and the brown-haired man across from him stood up so quickly that his coffee slipped all over. "Let me finish!"

"Is there anything that could come from your mouth that would make me want to stay right now after that last sentence?" Masuda whispered, full of anger.

"I didn't mean it to come out like that-" This time Ryo avoided the eye contact.

"Then how!?"

"I meant-I meant," Ryo stammered as he felt his chance slip away. "It's just that, I felt like that for so long... never take chances, never get hurt."

"So you'd rather hurt others." Masuda practically spit the words out.

"But I hurt myself too... I didn't know! How could I? I feel like a crazy person right now... I can't convince you to stay, no, I don't want to... I want you to want to stay." His eyes continuously moved from object to object as his heart raced. How could this have gone so wrong?

"Would you want to stay?" It was a serious question that demanded an answer.

"Any other time my answer would be no-"

"What's different now?"

"Well, it's you." Ryo knew that was a pathetic answer, but continued. "We-We both know I have a bad habit of being a complete ass-hat around you, I lose all sense of any logic. But if it were you that had said what I just said... I'd stay because you stayed. Until I found a way to run away that is..."

"I asked for your number several times." Masuda mumbled.

"Is it too late to say I feel like you're worth the risk?" It was bold, but he was tired of never having anything to lose, and right now he felt like diving in and losing it all or gaining it all.

"It took you two months to figure out what I knew after two days?" Masuda's voice cracked, and so did his anger. "I want to stay... and I want you... I want us."

This time they locked eyes, "I-I do too."

"I'd sit back down, but I have coffee all over my seat and shoes." Masuda unintentionally broke the tension as they both smiled.

"I can take you back to my place, so you can clean up, and so we can just get out of here." He was being bold again. "We've had plenty of stares, and I'm sure the staff would appreciate cleaning this up before it starts to smell."

"Okay..." Masuda hesitated. "Back to your place?"

"Too soon?" Regret was evident in his voice.

"Maybe not, we'll see how it goes. Lead the way."
Ryo woke up expecting to be alone like usual but felt the body next to him roll over and give him a tight squeeze.

He folded into the other man’s embrace; this was so worth the risk.

Author's Chapter End Notes

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The End.
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JumpIntoMyCore is the author of 10 other stories.


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