fourstarball: (pic#1328709)
Totling ([personal profile] fourstarball) wrote2014-04-05 04:11 pm

Red Eye

Kamen Rider Fourze

... Overworked and overtired, and still completely on guard, though that's not strictly necessary all of the time, really.


Ryuusei was dead tired. He stumbled into his apartment, unable to remember the last time he'd slept. It had to have been a day ago, maybe two. The timezones and jet lag were catching up on him quicker than ever. And with half his flights delayed and being stuck running through the airports... Well, it had caught up with him in a hurry. And to think he'd rushed home for this.

He could barely work the doorknob opening the door, and now he couldn't get it latched properly. His fingers fumbled uselessly with the lock before he gave up working his keys in the lock and slid the chain instead. He tested it and, satisfied, leaned heavily against the wall and trudged to bed.

He didn't bother to look at the clock on the side table. It had to have been four in the morning when he'd left the airport, and there wasn't anything good that would come from checking the time now. All he wanted was to sleep, and all he had to do to accomplish that was to lie down.

So he did.

And he awoke with a start.

Ryuusei didn't know how long he'd been asleep. Not long enough, that much was for sure. His head was pounding and his entire body still felt like lead. His clock had been flipped face down so he couldn't even tell what time it actually was.

What he did know was that someone else was in his apartment.

He could hear things being moved around in another room, drawers being opened and rummaged through. The sound was too loud to be any of his neighbors. Besides, whoever it was had bumped against the wall just outside his bedroom door - and that wall didn't separate between apartments.

He tossed aside the blanket and crept out of bed, barely able to stop himself from stumbling over the mess and landing face first in the windowsill. Ryuusei tried to shake himself awake and slipped to the door without any further incident. Holding his breath and listening for the culprit - who now seemed to be going further down the hall and away from his current location - he slipped out the door with only the softest click.

Ryuusei's apartment was small, which suited him fine. The kitchen area sat down the hall from the entrance and around a sharp corner, where the bathroom walls created a sort of inlet. The bedroom door was in this hallway, which meant that Ryuusei had a good chance of catching whoever this was off guard. Even if they made their way into the living room, it was only accessible through the kitchen. They were cornered, whether they knew it or not.

So far, so good. They were in the kitchen, he could hear things rattling around in there. Ryuusei cast a quick glance toward the door and was struck with even more worry. The chain lock he had struggled to slide in place last night was still latched. He couldn't imagine a way to get through that or why anyone would lock themselves in after breaking into his home.

But Ryuusei could hear the footsteps. Soft ones, from someone obviously trying to stay quiet, were padding around his tiny kitchen. He wasn't sure what to make of any of this.

Carefully, he stepped into the hallway and it was only then that Ryuusei realized he was barefoot. He must have kicked his shoes off in his sleep somehow. Bothering with the laces hadn't been important enough to do last night. So much the better, he reasoned. He'd be even quiet without them on his feet.

He reached the corner at the same time the culprit disappeared from sight around the other. Ryuusei tried to slow his breathing but found himself struggling. The smell of something cooking on the stove wasn't new, he realized, but he'd been so focused on getting here that he'd missed it completely. But how? The delicious scent of soup bubbling should have been impossible to ignore.

What sort of person breaks into someone else's apartment and cooks breakfast? he wondered. Someone clearly too bold for their own good.

His body tensed. They were coming back his way.

Crouching, Ryuusei prepared himself. He forced himself to take a breath and stand at the ready. Just a few more steps, and he'd have them... After that, a fussy few hours with the local police, and then some well deserved rest. That sounded like a pretty good plan.

Closer, closer the stepping of the intruder's feet came. Here now, any second -

"You're awake?"

Ryuusei stared dumbly at the wall, unable to do anything more complicated than blink. What? ... What?

He was still staring straight ahead when she rounded the corner. It didn't make sense, he knew. The door was locked. He'd been sound asleep and hadn't gotten up to let anyone inside. Tomoko didn't appear to care how impossible her standing in his kitchen was. She was there already. The thief was his girlfriend.

"Oh," she said and her face filled with concern as her eyes searched his face. "You should go back to bed."

"What?" Ryuusei finally said out loud. His voice sounded oddly hoarse, even to his own ears. The woman simply looked at him and shook her head and tenderly took his hand, turning him around and leading him back to bed.

Tomoko wouldn't answer, saying instead that he should rest up and even tucking him in under the strewn aside blankets. It occured to him as the door clicked closed that he hadn't been under a blanket when he'd fallen asleep. He'd been too tired to mess around with that. Which would have meant that Tomoko had come in, but he knew he'd locked the door after him, so how... ?

He lost track of the thought as his eyes closed and sleep overcame him once more.

It was hours later that Ryuusei came out of the bedroom again. He still felt unbelievably groggy, but part of that - a very good part, he knew - was just the jet lag talking. As it was afternoon already, he knew he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep unless he wanted to be wide awake at three in the morning, and that was something he definitely did not want to happen. Which meant, as he ran a hand through his unruly hair, that it was time to be awake.

Tomoko beamed up at him from the loveseat in the living room. She was knitting and appeared to have been waiting for him to wake up - there was a tea tray on the table and two cups, still steaming hot and ready. At least part of that was a surprise. He hadn't known she could knit.

"Good morning," she said. Her smile was teasing as she set aside her project and moved over on the small couch.

Ryuusei nodded and took the offered seat beside her. Tomoko gently moved the tray around and passed him a cup of tea, fingers brushing his quite purposefully. He thanked her softly and hesitated for a moment as he thought.

"I locked the door last night," he began. He went slowly, trying hard to remember everything he'd done since arriving back at his apartment. "The chain lock."

"Yes, you did," Tomoko agreed.

"Right." Ryuusei paused to take a drink. Looking at his hands and not at the pretty girl didn't make the thinking any easier. "And you're here."

Her smile grew even more mischievous. There was just something about that expression that made it feel as if she understood the struggle he was going through and found something interesting about it. "You gave me a key."

Now the man was even more confused. "Well, yes... "


Ryuusei frowned at the reflection in his cup. This still made no sense to him. "I didn't get up to do the chain, though."

She nodded her agreement and wrapped both of her hands around her own cup. "Of course not. You were sleeping."

Looking over to him suddenly, Tomoko caught his eye and her face grew more serious. Concerned, almost. "You needed to sleep."

There was no argument there. Even if he did still feel off, at least he felt worlds better than he had when first he got home. None of that, however, seemed at all relevant to the question at hand. He was supposed to be good at figuring out these kinds of riddles - it was his job to be able to do that much. All he'd figured out so far was that Tomoko had gotten into his place without effort or unfastening the inside lock, and that she wasn't so much as batting an eye at the prospect that anyone else could do the same.

Ryuusei shook his head in defeat. "All right. Fine." The brief confusion that passed over Tomoko's face at that went unnoticed by the young man who sighed and drank heavily from his tea.

"How did you get in then?" he asked. His voice sounded hollow in the face of this mystery. The girl just smiled at him again and simply looked at him, unblinking.

"Didn't I say?" she asked. Ryuusei was fairly certain that wasn't an actual question, and he was right about that. "You did give me a key, after all."

"A key wouldn't undo the chain," he said crossly. He swallowed hard around a mouthful of tea that was no longer so flavorful.

Tomoko nodded, setting her cup back on the table with a soft clink, an action that Ryuusei mirrored subconsciously.

"It wouldn't," she said. Her tone was soft and level, and she was speaking the same way she always did when she had to explain something she felt obvious to anyone else who couldn't see it. He'd thought of it as the Gentarou voice before, given just who she usually had to explain things to. Now it looked like he and the teacher were on equal footing in Tomoko's eyes.

"So then, if the key can't undo the chain and you haven't unlatched it yet - " Ryuusei instinctively looked over his shoulder to see if he could see the door (he couldn't) and check the latch himself. Stupid, really, as he hadn't gone near the doorway since returning home, and he'd checked it over when he'd woken up earlier.

"... How did I get in? Or, perhaps that isn't the appropriate question."

"No?" Ryuusei looked at the girl, watching as Tomoko knotted her fingers together and held them almost anxiously over her heart. When she looked up at him she smiled, and he could feel the tension hidden in his shoulders begin to fade away.

"If that isn't the right question," he started slowly, "what is?"

Tomoko's smile went shy. "Hmm... 'When', I think, would be better."


She nodded and he leaned back in his seat, folding his arms across his chest. This whole ordeal was giving him a worse headache than the jet lag already had. Even if he were well rested, he'd still have a time of it trying to keep up with Tomoko anyway...

But when? None of this made sense, but that part was especially vexing. He'd unlocked the door and locked it behind him from the inside. No one had unlocked it after him. She couldn't possibly have come today and let herself in. There was just no logical way for her to have gotten inside the apartment, except for the fact that she clearly had.

Ryuusei exhaled in a huff. He'd been here all night. The windows even locked from the inside, and Tomoko wasn't the kind of girl to go crawling halfway up a building to sneak in through a windowsill. Which left the door, but he already knew that wasn't it...

Now he was just thinking in circles and going nowhere. Great.

"When," he repeated slowly. It was no sooner that the realization hit him and Ryuusei turned sharply to look at her, more surprised at the perfectly contented look on Tomoko's face than anything else in that moment.

"Tomoko? How long have you been here?"

The woman paused, tapping her chin thoughtfully with the end of one knitting needle as he waited. "Oh, let's see... Your flight was delayed. The first one, that is," she added, her sharp eyes flicking to his incredulous face. "That's when you called to say as much. I figured out the second two on my own. After that, I suppose, is when I came over."

She scrunched up her face in concentration, finally ticking the dulled needle across her fingers as she counted. He could feel the sweat on his back growing cold as it went on.

"A full day as of fifteen minutes ago," was the answer that she came up with. "I got here when you were originally supposed to return home."

"Oh, yeah." He tried to smile and had the feeling she could sense perfectly the misery balling in his stomach. "Right... "

The look on her face was nothing but serene as she slowly set her things aside and began to tidy up. Ryuusei sat quiet as she shuffled their empty cups and tray away and started the dish water, but there was still something he couldn't understand. Not yet.


She looked at him over her shoulder. Ryuusei spoke in a soft voice, the thoughts slowly working themselves out in his head as he stared at her. "Why wait so long?"

Tomoko didn't really seem surprised by the question, but she so rarely was. Ryuusei watched her shrug it off and turn her attention once again to the dishes with a little splash. Part of him wished deeply that he was the one getting to see that look on her face. Tomoko was always so lovely at moments like this.

"I wanted to see you," she replied. Her voice was almost whisper quiet, but still so full of warmth. "It's been so long... "

"Not that long," the man cut in. He probably shouldn't have been getting so worked up, or interrupting, but he felt compelled to somehow. Like he had to defend himself to her, though that was pretty ridiculous. "I came back like I promised. As soon as possible."

That was it. It was hard to believe but Ryuusei had forgotten the whole reason for his rushing back to Japan as he had. He could have waited, taken another flight, but he'd made this woman a promise. He wouldn't break another one.

Tomoko nodded mutely. She seemed to have finished with the dishes and folded the hand towel before setting it back in its place on the counter. Then she easily slid back into the living room, curling up in the empty seat beside Ryuusei on the couch. Her head fell against his shoulder softly and he was quite sure that she sighed contentedly into him.

Ryuusei smiled. He shifted slightly to curl his fingers through her long dark hair and pet through it.

"Did you sleep?" he asked after a moment. The woman nodded.

"Oh yes, of course. You're the only one of us who stays awake for days at a time."

He really would have liked to deny that, but of course that was exactly what he'd just done and for the third time in the past two months at that. Oh well. He shrugged with a little withheld sigh. "Where?"

Now it was Tomoko's turn to shrug again. "Out here... in there."

"... What?"

Ryuusei could practically feel the smile grow on her lips. The woman looked up at him with those dark eyes and he could have become lost and forgotten his confusion if she hadn't explained.

"I was in the bed, at least to start. I called the airport when you didn't check in and they said how late things were running. Of course, if you weren't still on your way, you would have surely said something... " The woman's voice took on a sharp edge and Ryuusei winced in spite of himself.

She carried on with a mischievous smile, inching just that much closer against his side. "I just set an alarm to be up in time to meet you, that's all. I was out in the kitchen when you got in. By the time I came to the bedroom, you were already asleep."

Ryuusei grimaced hard. "Sorry... "

Tomoko shook her head and her hand found his, squeezing lightly. "You were tired. It's fine."

The man nodded in response but could not speak. What a let down for anyone to suffer, and after all she'd done to make him feel welcomed and cared for.

"So you really didn't think it was strange?"

Ryuusei let out a very dignified "Huh?" that made Tomoko snicker. Her fingers worked loose from his - he made a little disappointed noise - and then with one slender finger, Tomoko tapped his lips to get his attention back.

"You fell asleep on top of the covers," she reminded him, "with your work shoes on. So I had to take those off and brought in a blanket. I wondered if you would notice. I suppose not."

Ryuusei was stunned once more into silence. Everything she'd said and done - he'd missed it all completely. While he tried to absorb that, Tomoko grasped hold of his hand again. This time, there was no teasing or letting go. The woman used her shoulder to nudge him into laying on his side. That much, he understood. Wrapping his free arm around Tomoko unbidden and threading together their fingers, Ryuusei gently leaned further to the side until they lay cuddled close. The narrow couch did not provide much room, but it was a fine excuse to wrap his arm protectively around her and his leg safely draped across her hip.

"We'll eat later," she murmured. He wasn't entirely sure she was even talking to him at all, but Ryuusei nodded anyway, breathing in deep as his eyes fell to a close. All he could smell was Tomoko - her hair, her soap, and all of it relaxed him.

He was still tired. He couldn't even get his eyes to open again. "We should go to the bedroom," he managed to get out. "Sleeping here won't be comfortable."

"No," Tomoko agreed. "But why get up at all?"

That was certainly hard to argue with, but still... "You'd have more room."

"This is fine," she assured him. Ryuusei certainly wasn't convinced, but when Tomoko pressed her back in tighter against his stomach he began to see her point. "You see?"

That one got a laugh out of him. It was so warm and inviting to lie beside her there despite the cramped space and awkward position he had to hold. Ryuusei still had to wonder if the bed wouldn't be preferable. Not that he wanted to let go of Tomoko or move, of course. Nothing like that. He knew he was still tired out from his journey back.

"Yes, you need to rest more," Tomoko spoke as if all his thoughts had been out loud. To her, they may as well have been. "That will only happen out here, Ryuusei."

Ryuusei hesitated before voicing his question. "Only?"

Tomoko nodded very sincerely and dragged her fingertips across his knuckles, making the man shiver slightly. "Ironic, I know. To think that taking you to bed would keep you up ... "

Realizing her insinuation took a half second longer than it should have, and by then all the young man could do was sputter incoherently and try to stifle the red hot embarrassment. He must have sounded like an upset teakettle, but Tomoko just relaxed herself against him and stroked his arm softly with her free hand.


It sounded a bit like a reprieve, the way she said it, and Ryuusei just tried to smile and refrain from choking on anymore words. He was home, and though uncomfortable and dead tired still, warm and pretty content as things went. So long as Tomoko was willing to help him wake up later on, this whole mess just might be worth it after all.

And then she laughed, warm and rumbly into his chest, and Ryuusei had to chuckle too. It definitely was.