The Tale of Two Idiots

Author's Chapter Notes

I wrote this to Adore You - Miley Cyrus bc it's actually kind of a nice song.
Also guys. ryoka is so sexy.

“Okay everyone, clear the set please, Toda-san. You know what to do.” The voice speaking out at her was curt, blunt and the eyes she looked back at right now were unemotional.

It was clear now, at least to Erika, that Ken’ichi was painfully professional with her now on set. Not that she minded it. She didn’t want to be treated in any special way “ in fact if anything she was grateful that he was acting this way around her. She didn’t need any concessions from him, she just needed to do her job.

That didn’t mean that her job wasn’t impacted by his obvious change in the way he treated her. Her ability to redo a take for no reason simply because she was unsatisfied with it was gone, the ability of her costume team to take slightly longer than others was gone as well.

Now she was expected to perform at the top of her ability and if Erika had been a less talented actress, she was sure she would have faltered under the pressure Ken’ichi was placing on her.

But she wasn’t…and she had determination in her heart now. She looked up at the team around her. In this scene, Hina was left alone, crying surrounded by a hypothetical pool of white light. Slowly the light would dim, as her tears would fall down her face, the light would drop as the dress she wore would turn from white to black in the after effects edits.

This was all supposed to signify the end of an innocent age for her character Hina’s life. Somehow she felt it was all too apt that Hina was letting go of her husband too just like she was but for an entirely different reason.

This scene was from earlier on in the movie but they’d saved it until the end because Kenichi thought it would help her embody Hina’s spiritual essence. She was wearing a night gown that reached just below her knees and left her looking like more of a child than even Mao.

Hina was fragile, heartbroken- hopeless.

Reflexively, her eyes glanced towards her little princess who was tucked away safely in the hands of a production assistant. Her daughter was happily distracted grabbing onto the hands of Japan’s very own little prince with her chubby fingers. It was a clumsy grab- her daughter’s fingers should have slipped off his hands but Erika swore she saw Jun’s hands purposefully hold onto hers.

As her eyes were glued to the sight of the two children, tears came freely to her eyes making them appear dreamy - and Ken’ichi hadn’t even said action yet. “Save it.” She whispered to herself and shut her emotions off, just for a second. She’d need every sob she could muster up for this scene. It wouldn’t do to cry prematurely just because she always felt like crying since she'd read Jin's letter to her.

She'd waited years for that letter. She'd waited years to hear him say that he would come back - not that he would stay. That wasn't what she was waiting for. So it felt like he'd betrayed her trust, that he'd thrown her back the same painful words that she'd thrown at him in that room so long ago.

It felt like she was robbed. If she'd known that this letter he would eventually write her would be to end their marriage she could have stopped caring for him long ago.

She felt like he'd robbed her of the capability to love without hesitation.

“Action!” Ken’ichi’s voice called out and Erika’s eyes whipped open, tinged red from the force she’d been using to hold her tears back. It was going to be a long take but Erika wasn’t worried about how she was going to get through it. All she had to think of was her daughter, her family, and her life in complete shambles. How had she become that girl? How had she become a single mother? Sure she’d been acting like it but she’d never actually realized that was what she was- when had her life become like this?

When had they lost everything? When had her perfect dream crumbled into pieces around her feet?

She didn’t even remember it anymore.

She whimpered aware of the silence around her as she began to feel the sobs knock on her chest loudly like a fist painfully rapping on the cherry wood door of her house to take the glass vase she'd peered at in awe of it's sparkle since she was old enough to remember. The gasps between her tears weren’t planned but a result of the fact she was having trouble breathing through the cloud of her thoughts. Why was it when you were sad you almost always felt cold? Erika brought her arms up around her body to shield herself from her own pain. Though the action was in vain, when the pain came from so deep within no external action could ever truly put it to rest.

Her cries echoed off the walls as everyone watched, bewitched by her performance when she began to choke on her feelings. They knotted up like ropes from her heart finding home in her throat, forming a hypothetical block in her trachea that kept her lungs from expanding to their full capabilities. Her body slowly began to crumble towards the ground, knees quivering like someone had taken the very base she relied on every day out from under her and now she was standing on nothing but thin air.

Matsuda Shota felt his own eyes pinprick as he watched Erika carefully. Something about her performance today was especially strange. While he could normally tell the differences between Erika and Hina, today he knew he was not watching Erika perform. There was a rawness to her tears that he knew not even the most seasoned actor could perform “ he was sure that Erika was crying herself on that set.

Why did she look like her world had turned against her? Why did she look like she didn’t believe in anything anymore? Why did she look so- strong even despite the weakness that the rivulets of water down her face represented?

He had never seen a person cry with such strength.

He was thankful when a few seconds later Ken’ichi’s voice called out. “Cut!” because his own heart was hammering away in his chest “ begging him to race forward and hold her to quell her tears.

But Shota wasn’t stupid, he knew these romantic notions were useless. So he walked slowly over to where Erika was still curled into a ball, rocking back and forth.

“It wasn’t what I expected,” Ken’ichi shot out as he looked over the film on the camera. “But it was better, Erika.”

The girl beside him didn’t respond, she just sat, her frame shaking. Shota gulped as he sat down beside her. Why was she still crying?

“Erika-“ His voice was soft but Erika didn’t respond. He placed a hand tentatively on her shoulder but Erika didn’t so much as make a move to throw his arm off her like he thought she might have.

“Erika-“ Ken’ichi called out and suddenly her head jolted upwards and Shota caught sight of her eyes. They looked like they’d been gouged out and drowned in tears. “You did good today.” He gave her a small smile and though Erika should have been happy at the sound of the praise that she had rightfully earned today, all she could do was nod lightly. “I think that’s it for today guys, pack up!”

He was about to ask her if she was all right but Erika didn’t wait for anyone. As soon as the words were out of Ken’ichi’s mouth the girl had flown over to where her daughter was with his son. In seconds, she was hugging Mao close to her chest.

Shota felt his tongue go slack in his mouth. He never did know what to say to her anymore. Mao’s appearance on set was undoubtedly one of the ways in which she kept herself constantly reminded of what she was supposed to do “ wait for Jin patiently. Like any wife should for her husband.

So Shota had begun bringing his own reminder of his heritage, his own son was after all third in line for the throne after him. What better way for him to remember the duties he had to his country as its prodigal son? He was after all only legitimate heir to the throne, in all of the existing family lines of the Japanese monarchy. If the truth should ever arise about their families convoluted blood history - well he would be forced to take over the throne.

He never intended on exercising that right of course. Even he knew his brother was far better suited to the position than he was. Where Shota had always been irresponsible and impulsive, Ryuhei was cautious and caring for their country.

As everyone prepared to head out, Shota waited for Erika, he had driven her over and he would drive her back. She never said more than she needed to when they drove together, which was just as well he supposed. He may try and beg for her forgiveness if she started treating him as a friend again...and maybe he didn’t deserve her forgiveness because of the way he’d behaved. He had all but forced his feelings upon her.

But that wasn’t an accurate description of their situation either - because he knew what he felt every time he kissed Erika. He wasn’t just imagining it when he felt her respond to him. Her response was ever so present when he heard the shaky breaths she took, or the way her fingers quivered aching to hold his hand or the way her mouth would caress his just the smallest bit before she remembered that this wasn’t something she should let herself do-

But then did it matter if she responded to his kisses at all? Did any of it matter if she didn’t want it to matter? If she didn’t want to have those feelings or even want to act on them? Who was he to make her forcefully open her heart enough to want him back? “Are you ready?” He mumbled finally in front of the object of his affection.

Her eyes peered back at him filled to the brim with apology and pity. “Shota...I'm sorry I think today my father’s going to pick me up today in a little while-“ So that was how it was going to be, her father of all people. Shota almost wanted to laugh. He should have known she would do something to take away even the few moments they had in private. She didn’t trust him any more, and why should she?

She probably couldn’t trust herself around him either, he remarked arrogantly in his mind.

“I understand.” Shota didn’t know what else he could say. Erika was looking straight at the ground, her eyes fixed perfectly on something. He looked to clutch Jun’s hands into his own but-

His son had already fallen into the trap of another Toda daughter. Jun was preoccupied laughing into Mao’s ear giggling away. For a boy who had considered Mao to be a drooling little idiot, he saw that Jun had quite a bit of fun pampering the baby who was laughing away at his side having wandered away from her own mother.

Just as well, he supposed as he saw them get sleepy in their seats.

It left him with a sign.

Everyone else from their production had left the set.

Only he was here, in this empty theater with the prodigal Erika...and he was going to tell her something that would make her even more uncomfortable around him.

If she was going to kick him out of her life by snatching even those few moments he had with her in the car, he didn’t care that he might hurt her feelings by telling her this. The filming was almost over, so if he wasn’t completely honest with her, while sober, he knew he would never be able to live peacefully. “I’m not sorry I kissed you Erika.” Her eyes moved up to lock with his. “When you sit there, and you cry like yourself in front of everyone at this set, you solidify the very reason I want to be there for you- I’m not sorry I kissed you even if you want me to be. I won’t be. I refuse. Even if you take away our friendship I don't care. I won't apologize for wanting to be there for you, for wanting to care for you that way.”

His words held a certain degree of harshness to them despite the kindness they implied, Erika felt like she was being scolded by the prince in front of her. It felt nice to know that someone could still scold her after all this time. Her father had all but stopped - and well - who the hell else bothered with her? She was an adult - left mostly to her own devices. When Shota closed the extended gap between them, she didn’t back away. He was waiting for her to say something, but she didn’t know what she could say to him. The only thing she could mutter out was- “Why am I such an idiot Shota?”

That stopped him in his steps towards her. She smirked watching his features throw themselves into a disarray. She saw his brain whir, what could she possibly mean to ask him? Was it a trick question? “You mean why you’re an idiot enough to not kiss me back properly?” He joked, was she extending the hand of friendship once more to him?

“Sure, why not? Why would you like such an idiot who obviously doesn't jump at the chance to be with one of the best men in the country?” She cracked a small smile when she saw a blush rise on his cheeks. She hadn’t meant to flatter him, surely someone like Shota who had been showered with praises since he was born must be tired of hearing things like that.

Erika was right, generally words like that didn’t incite a reaction from him but hearing them from Erika’s mouth was a different experience all together for Shota. The way she acted around him often made him feel like she didn’t think much of him, if at all. He wanted to remind her that she had a valid reason to stay away from him, but he had a feeling this conversation wasn’t about his marriage or hers for that matter.

It was about why he liked her…and if she wanted him to say it. He would. He’d tell her exactly all the reasons that Toda Erika had bewitched every fibre of his being these past few weeks. “I like you because you’re standing there, looking at me with all this admiration, and you make me want to be better just by being beside you.” His words were soft and he didn’t make a move to hold her hand, or brush his lips against her cheek though he wanted to.

He was no fool, he knew that before he made a move like that again - he would need her permission. Especially now that they were out in the open, away from the privacy his vehicle offered them. “Take it from me Shota, the only good thing I’ve ever done is give birth to that thing over there and she’s already ready to run away from me.” It was the first time Erika had so callously referred to her daughter. “I don’t think I could help you be a better man Shota. I'm sorry to say you're wrong.”

He wasn’t sure what this conversation meant...but this was the Erika he had grown to love so he decided that no matter what it was she wanted out of him, he would give it to her. If it made her feel better, he’d do it. “Did you know Erika?”

His question was so open-ended he knew she would have no idea what he was talking about. “Know what?”

He placed his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, enjoying the way Erika’s eyes lit up with curiousity. Her lower lip twisting into her mouth as if it would help her to bite away at some of the mystery in his question. “Did you know I'm an idiot too?” She was blinking at him dumbly. “They do say only fools fall in love. That’s it. I’m one fool liking another. Nothing special.”

Erika stood, completely unemotional, like a piece of stone, until she cracked slowly and burst out laughing. Just like on stage earlier this evening, it seemed a wall that was holding back everything she felt had come crashing. She clapped a hand on her thigh and covered her mouth with a hand because surely it couldn’t be lady-like to laugh this hard in front of a prince.

To Shota even this laughter seemed out of place, like it came from a source of pain, because every snicker sounded like a sob in disguise. “You mean it isn’t the way I opened my heart up to you- the way I trusted you from the heart?” That had been why Jin had fallen in love with her, it seemed logical to assume Shota would love her for the same reason.

This time, it was Shota who laughed as he moved closer to her face. “You don’t trust me Erika. Don’t your actions today show that? You’re going home with your dad..not with me.”

“Don’t I?”

“You don’t.” He parroted back at her.

“Isn’t staying here the best way to show my belief that you won’t do anything? Here we are alone in a quiet theater, and sure are kids are here but they're sleeping and you haven't done anything Shota. You won't. You know not to now. You’ll just stay quiet by my side, supporting me waiting for me to fall-“ She laughed loudly again. “I’m sorry what was it? You were waiting for me to fall so you could catch me?”

Shota laughed back. He shouldn’t have because Erika was trying to be cruel with him and it did hurt a little but he laughed back because what else could he do anyways? If she wanted to laugh at his feelings, he’d let her because today was different. Today Toda Erika was hurt and he was going to find out why. It could help his cause in appealing to heal her broken heart. “What happened Erika? What changed that you want me to catch you now?” He snickered expecting an equally teasing response from the girl.

He was caught off guard by her blunt response. “I decided I wanted to kiss you. I want to try as Shota and Erika. That’s why I can’t go home with you because if I do- I’m not sure if I'll stop you at the right point if we're somewhere too private. You’re right. I do like it when your lips are on mine and for a second I can forget that I am who I am and just kiss you like the past few years haven’t happened and I’m still a girl who felt inexplicably drawn to a stranger on a stage.”

It was the closest he had ever come to hearing that Erika had feelings for him. He should have been jumping up and down, but he could only dumbly stare back at her. It was so open, so honest - and from a girl who tried so hard to hide so much it was almost unbelievable she would speak to him like this now. “You want to kiss me? Aren’t I still married?” Why?

He knew Erika- she would have changed her mind only if something drastic had altered the way she thought forever. She was stubborn so her opinion never changed all that easily “ what had happened?

At that she guffawed, seriously he was joking right? “That hasn't stopped you before.” The way her eyes looked up at him were different. He had never been privy to an Erika who knew how to get what she wanted. It was like he was confronted with a completely different girl. She was trying to seduce him.

His eyebrow quirked up. For a girl who was normally so mindful of behaving appropriately around him today she had thrown all caution to the wind. His feet stepped softly towards her- if she wanted him to kiss her who was he to say no? “Aren’t you still married too?” He ducked his head slowly towards hers, his arms itching to reach out to her shoulders and just pull her to him already.

“Actually since 2:40PM yesterday, no I’m not. My lawyer file the paperwork for my divorce.” Shota backed up off her shockingly quick with his movements but this time it was Erika with a foolish smile on her face who pushed their faces closer together so her breaths fell on his skin. “Are you scared Shota? All this time, you’ve been the one pursuing me - and I’m the one asking you this time, you must be scared. No proper girl would ever do this. See I’m not too proper after all?”

He looked stricken and indeed it was all Erika could do to not laugh out right in his face. What a load of shit Shota was when push came to shove.

“Erika-“ He glanced over to their children idly “ they had settled into the seats and snoozed away. He could only be thankful for the ability of children to tire themselves out.

“Come on Shota-“ Erika felt her forehead collide with his and saw the way his eyes shut, right now she felt a little bad for Shota. She was pushing him into a corner, in this theater. She needed to be wreckless, she wanted to be able to do whatever the hell she wanted and he seemed like the only person who would let her be immature for a second. “Just do it.” He didn’t move to close the small gap she’d left for him but she could feel his hand clench onto hers, fingers wringing into each others like he was trying to steal resolve and strength from her. It was an action that should have told her to stop because this meant far more to him than it did to her. For her it was an escape, a way to forget. For him it was all he’d come to want in the months that he’d gotten to know her better. “You know you-“

The rest of her words never echoed through the empty space of the theater because his lips had bound her own in their grasp, long enough for her to feel her stomach twisting over itself, in sickness or in health she wasn’t quite sure. She felt dizzy at the prospect he actually fell for her pushing him but then why wouldn’t he? Shota was dying to be her savior, and if she asked he would give her the royal palace itself she was sure.

A snore came from behind them and Shota’s head turned away from her just in time before she deepened their kiss. He was breathing heavily. She was barely affected. “That wasn’t fair Erika.”

“I know.” She blinked lightly back at him. Was it fair to use Shota’s feelings for her own gain? She felt a little sick that she'd actually done that to him. “You didn’t really want to kiss me did you?” She replied softly.

“No I didn’t.” He agreed, he looked frantic, his fingers running through his hair quickly as his hands rubbed his face. She felt her eyes run up to look at him. Was he serious? Had he caused her heart so much confusion all for nothing? Was he putting her in this position for nothing? “You can’t just use me to forget him like that Erika. I’m a little more selfish than that. It might be hard for you to believe but I don’t just want you because I find you attractive. I want you to want me- I shouldn’t care because eitherways I’m with you but I do care. So it feels a little unfair. I’m sorry I shouldn’t have kissed you, not this time.” He shook his head looking at their children. “Jun- wake up.” He ruffled the his son’s hair.

Toda Erika watched Matsuda Shota bustle around the theater, making his yawning child rush towards the exit. Mao wailed loudly as he parted and Erika was left standing there with the consequences of her decisions.

Mao didn't stop crying. "Stop." Now mostly because she wanted Erika to pick her up but Erika didn't know what to do as she stared at her child. Her child that was a result of the love she'd had once upon a time with Jin, somehow her desire to protect this child to love her and only her for the rest of her life had dulled a little.

It was an odd image to be sure. "Stop." Mao wailing, hands waving, screaming to be loved.

Erika staring back at her.

Wouldn't Mao break her heart one day too?

Just like her father?

Akanishi Jin had done something unforgivable to the world when he decided to end their relationship. Yes, Ken'ichi had snatched something that the world had considered physically precious to her but at least he hadn't broken her heart.

Jin had made sure she wouldn't love anyone again.

"STOP MAO STOP PLEASE!" And so Erika broke down in front of her child, wailing loudly until Mao's tears finally ceased and the little girl's eyes peered at her mother, eyes curious and filled with pity for the adult in front of her who didn't seem to be any more knowledgeable about the ways of the world than Mao herself.

Author's Chapter End Notes

So this chapter is one of my favourites simply because of the imagery at the end :D i hope you guys could imagine it properly but I love the idea of Erika just crying loudly as Mao cried in front of her. It's an image I've held dear in my heart for a long time. It also shows the deterioration of her own character because the weaker Erika gets as a person, the weaker she gets as a mother.
Thank you to ichigoyamada and UniqueMikoto :D for reviewing. I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter. It was a little sad...but it was expected neh? She won't get over the official end that soon. I know most of you love Erika and how do I say this without making Shota sound inconsequential?
Mao's discovery will always be about her two parents. So don't worry we'll always have lots of Jin in this chapter and Erika and Jin will always love each other even when they grow to love other people.
No previews :( I hope you guys don't hate me for that T.T but I will tell you that well Jin is going to a party and we're going to see the return of Meisa and Mukai in the next chapter.


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