“We’re here.” He roughly parked the car so that she jerked awake and her eyes widened as if she’d just taken a snort of cocaine herself. She gulped fumbling with her hair and straightening it. “You have drool on the side of your mouth…straighten that out first.” His tone was factual as he looked at her with a blasé expression on his face and she kissed her teeth.

“I’ll take care of my business in the order I want to.” Honestly…she should have taken care of the drool first and she knew but she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of watching her jump around nervously wiping at her mouth.

She would have done it in a second if she knew what he was going to do otherwise. He grabbed her head and turned it quickly towards his as his thumb grazed past chin wiping it off shaking his head. “You’re a child.” He scoffed getting out of the car first and Rie couldn’t help but stare dazed at his back as he walked slowly away from the car.

What was wrong with him? Why was he so strange with her? She could never really understand what sort of man Toma was. He didn’t let anyone in…that she knew of.

She shot her head up and immediately gasped as she realized where they were.

THE OCEAN? No shit this was out of their way! She immediately rushed out of the car behind him and she couldn’t believe the way his hands flipped back to press the lock button on his keys as if he’d known and simply been waiting for her to run out bounding after him.

“THE OCEAN? Ikuta-san how are we supposed to get home in time?”
“Do you want tomorrow off from bartending? I’ll give it to you because I dragged you here.”

“But why? WHY did you drag me here?” She grumbled as she stepped beside him and he simply shrugged as he took a rest by ledge he wanted to sit on and sighed deeply.

“I don’t know the answers to those questions.” He turned towards her with his blank eyes as usual and she couldn’t help but grow angry as she sat down directly in front of him feeling the wind nip at her collar bone pushing her hair back like a lover would.

“Do you know anything?” He simply sighed and turned back to the ocean looking away from her look of scrutiny and she grumbled further decidedly totally unhappy with the situation she was in. Who wouldn’t be? Sitting looking at the ocean with some anti-social boss who you were supposed to bring down.

“I’m not too sure…I come here when I’m trying to find out.” His voice carried by the air reached her ears and she detected the sound of worry in his tone. Something she did not associate whatsoever with Ikuta Toma. If anything he was a cold, callous man who wouldn’t think twice to pressing a gun to the temple of your head if you messed up around him. Which was why she hated spending time with him, the way he made you talk more than he did was almost sure to lead to a slip up if you had something to hide.

Rie had a lot to hide. “What do you have to think about?” She mocked shoving her hands under her shirt and he turned to look at her raising an eyebrow.

“Are you cold?”

“Are you going to offer me your jacket?”

“Not if you’re expecting it. It kind of ruins the gesture.”

“I wouldn’t have accepted it anyways. I’m not the weak pathetic girl you think I am.” She couldn’t help but glare at him and he let out a loud laugh shaking his head.

“What made you think I think you’re weak?”

“If we fought do you think you’d win?” She asked honestly and he couldn’t help but widen his eyes at her response to him. She was slipping up and she knew it. “Battling with drunk guys is a tough job but I got the guns.” She fake kissed her arm muscles and when he only looked further confused she could only awkwardly laugh to diffuse the tension she had caused.

“You’re very strange.”

“So are you.” She agreed. “Two people who are similar can’t be friends huh?”

“I don’t know about people who are friends but you and I could never be friends.” He concurred and she swung her legs weakly on either side of the ledge as she felt the salt water air fill her lungs when she took in a deep breath attempting to calm herself. It felt unnerving sitting here casually beside him as if they really were just a boss and his employee.

“Why not?”

“You don’t listen to me. I don’t like that in my friends.”

“That doesn’t really sound like friendship.” She replied honestly. Seriously what was he a boss to even his friends? That seemed a little ridiculous.

“If I take the time to give you advice you should take the time to follow it.”

“What’s up with you and Christol anyways?” She asked silently closing her eyes knowing that he’d be looking at her and if he was she didn’t want to look back because she wasn’t really sure why she was asking anyways.

“Why are you asking?”

“You hear a lot in the locker rooms…it’d be good to get straightened out. That’s all.”

“Christine and I are just friends…it’s everyone else that thinks we’re more.”

“But she’s special to you?”

“Well…obviously.” He ended turning around. “Do you not like being quiet or something? I swear you talk more than a talk show host.”

“Special the way Jin is to Wana?” She couldn’t help but peek her eyes open to look at his reaction and saw him immediately stiffen up at the mention of those two. “What you don’t approve of them? They’re obviously important to each other.”

“Wana can do better than someone like us.”

“Like ‘us’?”

“Someone like Jin and me, someone in the family business. We’re tied to the family. She’s not.”

“Hmmm last I checked wasn’t she totally related to you?”

“I’m bound to the family in a way she isn’t.” This was the first time but she swore she saw him look disappointedly out at the world. “Maybe if I wasn’t bound I could have made those rumors in that locker room come true.” He smiled weakly laughing at himself and Rie couldn’t help but look on hypnotized by what she saw. He looked utterly defeated this man, not at all like the strong silent resilient force she sat Tryst that kept the place running.

It was just for a minute but she had seen it and she was sure of that. When he looked back at her, his normal expression back on him he looked annoyed with her. “Are you done or do you have more questions for me?” She’d irritated him but she didn’t care.

Rie gulped as she nodded. “One…is that okay?” When he simply waved his hand she took it as a yes and she looked up at the skies as she let out a soft breath that landed on him with such shock that he couldn’t help but be struck by a look of incredulity at the words that tumbled so easily out of her mouth.

“Are you happy?” When the words first left her mouth she felt his stare on her skin and she looked away unable to meet his gaze. Part of her wasn’t even sure why she asked him such a question. When she risked a look at him she was struck breathless at the way he was not even looking at her. Whether he was pondering a reply or just delaying a response she couldn’t quite tell as he stared out at the black expanse of water in front of them and she gulped. She should have kept her mouth shut.

Until finally he turned towards her and leaned back and yelled out a loud scream and she felt her heart freeze at the sound of the agony that came out so clearly from his own chest in response to her question but she couldn’t do anything other than stare at him as he screamed out loud. She was scared. She didn’t understand why she wasn’t stopping him. She wanted to stop him. She did…but she couldn’t. The way he screamed made her heart go out to him in a way that made it beat so furiously she could feel every pump like the feel of his own agony against his blood. She felt her stomach twist in knots, the sound of his voice yelling out, screaming for something she wasn’t quite sure if it was freedom or submission, made her want to throw up. Her muscles twisted as if they were in pain, cramping as she felt the tension wash over her body. She clapped her hand over her mouth and shut her eyes. She felt the water fill her eyes and she took a breath as he continued screaming, her ribs shook with her silent sobs and she felt the cold hit her arms harder than before. She felt like she was drowning the sound of his anguish.

Ikuta Toma definitely wasn’t a normal man. She’d known that before, but she’d felt it now.

Then he shut his mouth and he had grown exhausted because each breath that ran through his body flowed like water that rippled attempting to calm whatever had been released from within him. “I came here…” He coughed for a second bringing his fist to his mouth clearing his throat. “To question you. To find a reason to trust you…and isn’t it just foolish that you ended up questioning me instead?” She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t look at him straight in his eyes, her own were still watering and it was ridiculous. The man hadn’t shared some ridiculously sad story with her; she had never imagined anything like a simple sound would be able to make her cry.

God she was pathetic. She wiped her tears trying to turn away from him so he wouldn’t notice her. She was sure he did. They were sitting too close for her to keep anything truly hidden from him but he didn’t really question her reaction to him. She could only be grateful as she heard the simple words come out of his mouth making her feel stable again. “Let’s go…we have to get you home.” She nodded slowly as he whipped himself around bringing his feet to the ground and getting up from the ledge they were on. If she went home she could feel normal again…her real home, her house that she was going to build with Mukai. She could attempt to never react like this again to him if she went back there.

She had started realizing what his trust meant…she was getting access to a lot more than just some documents. She was privy to Ikuta Toma’s soul and god knew that wasn’t something she wanted. When she’d taken on this job she hadn’t expected to be looking at Ikuta Toma’s mind. She didn’t expect to understand him. She didn’t want to understand him.

But it was unavoidable that she did now and it was even more unavoidable that part of her pitied his life, his situation…he was a criminal. She had to keep reminding herself of the countless people that Ikuta had probably looked straight in the eye before bringing them to their discreet ends.

Then she turned her head to look at him, he was already standing beside her and holding his hand out.

She didn’t have to think that much to understand what it meant. Even if he didn’t get to ask her anything, he did trust her. “Are you getting up?” He said softly and she nodded weakly as she slipped her own feet onto the ground, slipping her hand into his as he pulled her up to his side like a true partner.

When he moved ahead she followed and let her body walk beside his. It felt strange being on the same level as him, while she was pondering she couldn’t help but notice a black car was behind them.

“Ikuta…” She felt her voice start as she saw a hand poke out of the car behind them. What was a car doing here anyways? Then as she narrowed her eyes she saw the figures in the car were shifting nervously pulling on each other and the next thing she knew she saw a gun poke out of the window and she grabbed him roughly by the arm to tell him what was happening but there was no time as he looked at her confused that she had pulled on him but there was no time for that. The moment she saw the man pull the trigger she felt her body jump in front of Ikuta Toma willingly as she felt the bullet hit through her arm.

And as she flew in the air taking the bullet falling to the ground as the car sped up Ikuta cursed pulling his gun out and shooting at them but he really only managed put out one tire as she lay the blood that gushed out of the wound staining the sides of her black shirt. And she was sure her bra was ruined now.

Great…another shopping trip, she felt her eyes scrunch up in pain at the thought and well at the pain in her side.

She looked up at him her eyes stinging from the pain as she took in how perfect his posture was as if he was ready to gun someone down at any point when needed and she felt her tongue get heavier with saliva. She was disgusted and she wanted to hate herself for pitying this man mere moments before. He didn’t need anyone’s pity. What was she doing jumping in front of him to take a bullet meant for him?

“Hey! Hey are you okay?” His voice sounded distant even if she was sure he was yelling right into her ear as she felt her body go limp on the ground…she was starting to feel cold. She’d never been shot before…was this how it felt? Was it something she’d have to get used to? She really didn’t like it. She tried to open her eyes to look at Ikuta but she couldn’t move. She felt too weak and when she felt his hands wrap themselves around her shoulders shaking her roughly waiting for some sort of response from her, she managed enough strength to shake her head. “Fuck.” He cursed as she felt his arms come around her waist slowly hoisting her up from the ground, so that she was more leveled and she groaned. He lifted one of his hands from holding onto her and raked it through his hair and she couldn’t help but enjoy the feeling that he was worried about her…that had to mean he finally trusted her.

That meant she could finally get everything she needed and leave before she got involved further in this mess of a clan. She could leave and go back to Mukai.

He lifted her up to her feet and she felt her arm pull downwards and she screamed as she crumbled into his side panting heavily as she felt herself grow more and more reliant on his side. The tears that had just left from her ducts flew back to her eyes and when she looked up this time she realized that Ikuta Toma looked to her right now like she’d never seen him before. Aggravated, scared as he lifted her from one side and they walked gingerly.

“Please…try and hold on okay? We’ll get you through this I promise.” His words were soft and might have even been sweet except she wanted to She didn’t want to cry but her every gasp that left her sounded like a cry of pain and she muffled it in his shirt, and she crushed herself against his side every time she felt like she was going to fall on her legs. They didn’t feel like her own as they grew heavier and she crumbled into him and he looked down at her with pity in his eyes as he put her into the car seat she’d slept in.

“Lillith…just hold on okay? Nod if you’re okay with that.” The saliva in her mouth was getting harder to swallow and all she wanted to do was curl over in herself and cry. “I’m taking you to Wana’s house. I’ll call Daisy over…she took Sho’s bullet out last time. She’s a nurse.” He bit his lips as he drove carefully looking at her as she brought her hair in front of her face ashamed of what she’d just done.

No way had she just put herself in danger for this man. What was he to her even? What did it even matter? What would Mukai think? What would everyone think?

There was no hiding this.


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