Normally when she went running she tried to make sure her outfits were breathable but as it was she didn’t have any luggage up here so for now she’d go running in the shorts she’d slept in last night.
When she got to the door she was surprised to see Toma already up and waiting for her. She walked up to him bending her knee so her feet touched the small of her hip to stretch her thighs and hamstrings out.
On the other end of her, he was pulling his elbow to the other side. “So running huh?”
“Well I’ve been kept in a room for the past three days. I figured I could use a little fresh air, clear my head. Any problems?” She pulled on her ponytail nervously. Like her hair was going to help distract her enough from the fact that she was just nonchalantly talking to him like it was no big deal.
“No complaints here.” He affirmed but couldn't help but wonder when he took in her frozen posture, why this girl couldn't relax in his presence now? As Lillith, she had plenty to say, almost too much. She'd been the one who had pushed him beyond reasonable measure and had him end up right here beside her like this was the position he'd wanted to take all along.
This Rie he'd met now though, he could see she was much more guarded…which made no sense because at the end of the day unlike someone with split personality disorder, Rie was quite literally the same person. “I don’t think we actually ever asked you did we?”
“Asked me what?” She shook her arms out pretending to not care about a word coming out of his mouth as she bent to the ground. “Ready?”
He squatted down beside her rubbing the slight tinge of sweat that had started to work his way on his forehead in the unrelenting heat of the summer sun. “We never asked you if you’re okay.”
The blatantly obvious way in which he asked her this question jolted her out of her determination for a second, just for a second, because if she was being honest with herself she wasn’t okay…but was she going to be honest with him? “Are you okay?” She replied back with just as much brutal demand on her features.
“Touche.” He leaned down to the ground and stretched out his legs. “I’m ready now whenever you are.” The carefully chosen words in his response didn’t escape Rie’s notice but for now she chose to imagine he was telling her that he was ready to run.
So she sprinted forward without any more warning. She needed to get away from him, his eyes, his questions, his presence in her life like this. He made sense as the drug leader of the Takuya clan. Their relationship there had been confusing but defined, and it had an obvious line of good and bad. This one here, it felt blurred to her.
The air filtered through her lungs as she trudged along the muddy path. She was starting to feel free again outside taking in the view of the green leaves flying past her eyes with every step she got just a bit quicker. Her legs screaming delightfully how much they'd missed this.
Here, she didn’t feel like Rie the cop or Lillith the bartender she just felt like herself…whoever that was supposed to be.
She ran until she felt the recognizable burn in her legs that told her she should pause, and then she ran a little harder relishing in how her tightly wound joints felt. Part of her knew she should check on Toma because he hadn’t been able to keep pace with her so far, but she wasn’t sure if that was on purpose so he could look at her from the back, or because he just couldn’t run.
Finally at the end of the muddy path, they came to a clearing in the grass, a meadow of sorts surrounded with lavender flowers where there was no obvious road to take and Toma stopped beside her mere moments after she had. “You run fast,” He panted a little out of breath compared to her and she couldn’t help but feel a swell of pride build in her chest as she saw him squint at her through the sunlight.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it in a few days. You did a good job keeping up with me. You only took a few more hours to reach this spot after I did.” She smirked and felt her body untwist just the slightest despite her best efforts to keep it guarded from his view.
“Let’s just say hand-to-hand combat is my specialty. I am not made for cardio.” He sighed and walked forward into the grass falling on the plush cushion. “Come on, what are you waiting for? Get down here.” He asked silently, his eyes closing as his back stretched on the green landscape.
“I’m not going to sit down there beside you…” She mumbled despite herself, this whole atmosphere between them felt wrongly tense and lying down beside him, even just in the grass felt like she was asking for trouble from the gods.
“Oh stop being such a big baby.” He grabbed her by the leg and twisted her with a shocking amount of strength for a man who had been out of breath moments ago. She yelped as she fell backwards, his arm cushioning her fall.
She couldn’t help but wonder yet again, if he was only pretending when he ran behind her. Just as soon as she was on the ground though, his arm was out from under her frame and she felt her body melt into the ground, the dew from the grass sinking into her skin.
“The grass does feel pretty good.” She reluctantly agreed taking a breath as she turned her head to look directly at Ikuta Toma beside her.
“So what’s going to happen now?” He took a deep breath, his chest rose and fell.
“Now we wait…Mukai will let us know when we’re needed.”
“And there’s a lot we can do while we wait-“ She made a move to get up from him but he burst into laughter and pulled her back down. She was extremely aware of the fact that she had landed on the ground closer to his face now. She felt him turn towards her and felt her mind try its best to explain to her body that she should be moving back. “Relax, I was only kidding.”
“I know...” She sighed exhausted with how easily he could tease her and not have any care for how his words were affecting her sanity. “Why do you want it by the way?”
“Why do I want what?”
“Why do you want to be saved?”
“Do I need a reason?” He asked back, too smart for his own good.
“No…you don’t. I’d like to have one still because I need a reason to save you.” She felt her heart quicken when he came closer to her with his eyes closed and she gulped her own eyes closing reflexively.
“Did you know I was pre-med once?” The words whispered past his lips and into her ears with no small amount of shock. Whatever reason she was expecting out of his mouth, it wasn’t that. “Did you know I wanted to save people like you too?” When she looked at him now, his eyes were open unlike anyway she’d ever seen before…his emotions as clear as day in this meadow. He looked longingly on at her. “I want that again. Maybe not as a doctor…but I want it. I want that feeling back. When I saw how you’d been twisted it pissed me off. It pissed me off you lied to me but I understood your situation- but I guess the reason I wanted to be saved so I could save you. So I couldn’t fuck my chances up again the way I had when I was younger. So I had a chance to be who I wanted to be from the start.” The ball in her throat was back and it grew larger. “Is that enough of a reason for you?”
She couldn’t respond clearly. What did she say? What could she say? Before she could stop herself, her hands reached for his and she felt her palms grow sweaty as they lay in the grass together.
They didn’t say anything else but they did lie there for a few minutes, looking into the sky together. Or at least she thought they were but the truth was it might have just been her because every time she hoped to observe him without him realizing-
She realized he was looking at her first. “Rie-“
“We should get back.” She cut him off before he could speak again and say something that would make her falter like she just had. She let go of his hand but he leaned forward to grab it again.
“Okay, lets go.” She wanted to let go but she wasn’t strong enough to try again and as it was she had to admit she relished in the feeling of being able to openly hold onto him.
Thankfully whatever had happened in the meadow seemed to dissipate when they were back in the house and Toma became his new irritating persona of happy go-lucky man. “Ah Risa-chan, do you have any liquor?”
“Alcoholic.” Rie mumbled under her breath smiling despite the connotation of her words. When she saw him smirking at her she’d known she’d gotten just the slightest bit under his skin.
“I’ll have you know since you went and got yourself kidnapped I haven’t had one drop of liquor…I think I deserve a drink.”
“Rah, Toma-chan, Rie is right drinking isn’t good for your health!” Risa-san chastised him and then with a more than healthy sparkle in her eye, the old woman mischievously shuffled over to the back of her kitchen pantry out of earshot.
“Was that the only thing you could wear?” Toma was gesturing towards the loose yukata she’d wrapped around herself.
“Ah Risa-chan said she’d wash the clothes I was in before..but Mukai didn’t happen to bring anything else along.” How did you happen to have more than one pair of clothing on?
“Ah I just sleep mostly naked so it’s all good you know.” She started coughing on her water so furiously that while laughing he had to pat her on the back. “I was only joking there’s no need to choke yourself to death.”
While coughing she continued to glower at him, Risa-chan rushed over with a bottle of Umeshu in her hand. “Rie-chan, are you okay?”
“Fine baa-chan” She coughed one last time as she shuffled Toma’s hand off her back. “Just a little coughing fit.”
“It’s all a big ploy Risa-chan. Her throat is too dry, I think she needs the liquor more than both of us neh!” She wanted to jump on top of him and wipe the snarky smile off his face with her bare palm but she managed to control herself because of the immensely wrong way that might appear to the older lady.
“Mah mah, here.” The lady kindly poured both of them a glass and Toma returned the favour in kind as the three of them bowed their heads and had the first sip of Umeshu. “Wah oishii! It’s been too long neh- I feel sad drinking alone so I never drink anymore.”
“Whenever you need a drinking partner please, feel free to ask me.” Toma responded in kind replenishing Mukai’s grandmother’s shockingly empty glass. Even he hadn’t gulped down the Umeshu so quickly. “It was nice though.”
“It’s no gin and tonic but I have to admit it is delicious.” Rie chimed in, not willing to be left out of their conversation. "Risa-san, be careful...he's a little rowdy when he's drunk."
She swore she saw a blush rise on his cheeks and felt that bubble of heat rise up in her own face. He looked straight at her and nodded but raised a glass up to Mukai's grandmother and yelled brightly. “Kanpai!”
She had to admit, she had never imagined this sort of look on his face, the one where he looked kindly onto the older lady before him laughing and drinking and exchanging stories.
If someone had told her a month ago she would be here with the head of the Takuya drug group and Mukai's grandmother drinking into the night she would have asked them to check into a hospital.
And yet, here they were in this bizarre coincidence and she had to say she had never seen Ikuta Toma look happier than he did right now.
The smile dropped from her face.
Her heart beat even faster in her chest.
Mukai reached the underground parking lot where he was supposed to exchange the Challenger for his regular car…what he was expecting was Ryuusei standing nervously around with the keys to his Lexus shuffling between his hands.
What he got was extremely different. Matsumoto Jun was in front of him smirking and with no Lexus behind him. He felt his hands push on the gears as he drove the car quickly into the parking lot and practically ran out of the car. “Now, now- you shouldn’t look too eager. I’m not the one with your future wife.” The young yakuza called out with no care for how loud his voice was.
“What are you doing here?” Mukai thundered back despite himself. He could practically hear Rie chastising him, Stay calm Mukai! He’s trying to irritate you!
“Oh I’m sorry, where are my manners? I’m Matsumoto Jun-“
“I know who you are- get to the point. Where’s my detective and why are you here in his place?”
“Let’s just say, your detective is detained in traffic being tested for drunk and I’m here as your friend Osamu-san! Let’s just say I’ve got the inside scoop and I want you in on it!” Mukai grimaced as he heard the man's tone of voice. Matsumoto Jun gave you the very distinct impression of a used car salesman.
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“In approximately five minutes your co-worker will be here and he’ll tell you, your chief is releasing Rie’s name on the most wanted list along with Ikuta Toma’s name and he’s going to yell to the world that’s she’s betrayed the force and her country. Most of your cops will wimp out of trying to help save your fiancé because most of them aren’t idiots like you. Most of them don’t love her and Toma will barely be able to protect himself let alone protect her.”
The meaning of his words echoed in the walls of the lot as Mukai couldn’t help but look around him suspiciously. “How do I know to believe you?”
“Well I’m not staying but I did want to give you the heads up- and give you an offer to think about because you’re stuck Mukai Osamu and my team can help you." All pretense of humor disappeared from his face and voice. This Mukai was thankful for because is it was it was hard to take this guy seriously. "We’ll give you what you want- we’ll help you take down the clan that’s really wrong here and we’ll help you burn your incompetent chief.”
Such offers of help never came cheap. Mukai knew this, and he knew he was only being invited further into the dark fold that Rie herself found herself entrenched in.
His treacherous brain brought up the first sight of his fiance he'd had in days as he saw how clearly in his mind she looked when she'd stepped out of the Yamashita house. How she'd looked upon Ikuta Toma like he was a saviour, how she'd clung to him like a child and how Toma had cradled her safely into the backseat before he came up and sat beside Mukai himself.
Now that he thought about it, no matter what she'd said to Toma. Her eyes hadn't been able to meet his squarely and she'd been so callous with him he hadn't realized it but Rie had trusted Ikuta Toma wholeheartedly with her life twice now.
She had worked closely with him, it made sense but despite himself Mukai felt his skin crawl uncomfortably. He remembered her kiss on his lips as he'd left her at his grandmothers but despite the calm the memory of her on him normally brought him today it evaded him.
“Come on, I don’t have time for your good guy irrational mind to come to its senses and take my olive branch.” Matsumoto Jun spoke up irritably knocking him out of his reverie. Just as well, he didn't want to think about it anymore either.
“What do you want?”
“Nothing! It would be nice to just get justice you know. Ra ra! Put people in jail! Ra ra! Yay for the Tokyo Met police actually doing their job for once! You get all the glory! We'll even get you promoted! On your own merit mind you! Takuya's too cheap to pay cops, did you know that?” The man took out a cigarette and lighter and offered him one. Feeling the stress he’d been under the past few days buckling on his shoulders he grabbed the pack from Jun and used his lighter to light both their sticks. “Of course if maybe just 25% of the tonnage of cocaine was to be returned to its initial holders-”
“Are you bribing me with assistance to save my fiances life?”
“Is that considered a bribe? I’m sorry I thought I was just offering a friendly hand.” He raised his hands up in the air. “Remember you don’t have to take our help Mukai Osamu. You can do this all on your own, you and your stellar piece of ass who could probably whip half of this city into shape all by herself.” Mukai raised his hand to punch the guy in the face but the snake was good at dodging and Jun laughed at his failed attempt. "And you're the star of the force...wow." He sucked the air through the cigarette and blowing it in his face irritatingly. “Oh calm down, I wouldn’t touch a hair on her head. She was starting to become popular around the bar though, guards, head honchos, drug cartel kings- Lillith could certainly hold her own amongst them. You must be very proud.”
“I’ll try!” He grinned widely. He was back to being irritating. “So to summarize-“
Mukai cut him off before he could speak again. “I don’t need a summary. I understand your offer and will not be accepting the gesture please get out of my face before I beat the pulp out of yours.” He responded as kindly as he could but it came out looking rather grotesque as Mukai’s hands tightened by his side and Jun bowed his head graciously.
“25%. You have 48 hours. Make your choice, any later and the rate climbs up. Our services don’t come cheap. Consider this a family and friends discount from the new leader of Takuya’s Drug and Co.!”
Mukai snorted. “Whose family would you be?”
“Lillith’s of course brother-in-law! Lady’s practically a sister-in-law to me now!” His suggestive smile did nothing to quell the fear building in his heart. Why would he call her a sister-in-law? “Well, till you call me! Try not to take too long!”
Mukai stood there breathing heavily as he heard a sound behind him and quickly turned to see his detective Ryuusei turn into the lot.
When he turned back, Matsumoto Jun had disappeared with barely a wisp of sound where his car had once been. Mukai only prayed he wasn't correct but something did tell him that Matsumoto Jun wasn't wrong because after the corner they'd put the chief in- how else could this turn out?
How the hell was he going to do this with the whole country looking for the two of them?