Hi. I was going to wait to publish this — like, really wait — but I just don't have willpower, okay? Anyway, this one has been interesting because I'm hitting some different dynamics here; hopefully it all works out. It takes place after Well Enough Alone and xanny, so maybe check out one or both of those first, but I don't think you'd be totally lost without them because context.
Also, I want to give a very special shout out to my fren Rex Madison, who was a huge help with this one, serving as something of an "unofficial" beta on most of this project. If you're reading, thanks dude — I super appreciate it.
With that being said... onward~
"Bro, what the fuck?!"
Robert Garcia's question came out somewhat labored, as he had just done what had to have been one of the most epic, most cartoonish spit takes that was known to mankind. He stared at his friend — no, his brother — Ryo Sakazaki in utter disbelief as he used a napkin to wipe Diet Coke off of his face and goatee.
"Dude, what the hell was that?!" Ryo asked, concerned but, also, apparently mildly annoyed.
"Yeah," the Pao Pao Café's owner, Richard Meyer, spoke up from across the counter, a rag in his hand, "What the hell was that?! Do you have any idea of how much of a pain in the ass wiping counters all the time is?"
"Yeah, sorry," Robert said quickly, with a dismissive wave of his hand, as he turned back to Ryo.
"Why would you even say something like that," he probed.
"Like what? What I really think?"
"Dude, she asked. What was I gonna do? I already bent the truth a bit once!"
"So fucking bend it again!" Robert all but shouted.
"No," Ryo replied simply but sternly.
Robert closed his eyes then, and thought of his martial arts training, and all of the techniques he knew that would help him reach a more peaceful state of mind. He took a very deep breath and set his jaw as he tried to apply any one of them.
"I don't see why this is such a big deal," Ryo said with a frown.
"You dense motherfucker," Robert groaned as he cuffed Ryo's ear. "Do I really have to explain it to you?"
"You know what? Sure. Explain it to me," Ryo answered, exasperated. He crossed his arms and raised his eyebrows, giving Robert the go ahead.
"You more or less told a rape victim that she's not good enough to sleep with anymore."
"That's not what I said!"
"Oh, yeah? Tell me what you said, then. Word for word."
"I said… that… I find the idea of women with too many men a little —"
"That!" Robert interrupted.
"What do you mean 'what?!' Again I ask: why would you even say something like that?"
Ryo furrowed his brow as he took a quick swig of beer.
"Am I not allowed to have principles and — and certain beliefs? And where the hell have you been that you're just now getting pissed about this? We've discussed this stuff before!"
"Yeah but I didn't think you actually thought like that!"
"Okay, now you're the 'dense motherfucker.'"
"Says the guy. who told. a rape victim. that she's been with too many men," Robert stated very carefully. Maybe saying it slower would help it sink in.
"Look," Ryo started, "I don't know how many others there have been. She's a bartender — she meets people all the time —"
"I'm stopping you right there because we both know that she's not one to just go with people."
"Do we really? We spent over a year thinking that she was just being a cranky bitch for no reason instead of dealing with what she's been dealing with!"
"Dude," Robert remarked flatly.
"Okay, how about this," Ryo snapped. "What if it was Yuri?"
At that, Robert balked. Ryo went on before he could offer a response.
"What if, before you, Yuri had been with a couple of different guys? How would that make you feel? It would be weird, right?"
Robert paused. The idea of his girl — of Yuri — with other guys before him didn't even compute.
"Really think about it," Ryo told him.
"Okay," Robert sighed after a moment of silence. "It would be a little weird, yeah. But you know what? I would take pride in knowing that I could do it better than whoever it was before."
Ryo and Robert both grimaced; after all, this was Ryo's sister they were talking about.
"I just… I can't think like that," Ryo admitted. "I feel like… I dunno. It almost grosses me out a little. That someone could just… be with so many different people."
"'So many?'" Robert quirked a brow. "I was there for that conversation, too, man. She mentioned one other guy, and her ex — who was a chick. And, come to think of it, you got a little weird about that, too. Anyway, unless she's been off fucking dudes willy-nilly — which she definitely hasn't been because, come on, this is King we're talking about — you're just being a Puritanical ass, and you need to get that shit out of your head because you're probably this close —" Robert held his thumb and index finger not even half an inch apart — "to losing her as a friend."
"But that's the thing," Ryo exclaimed, "She's my friend! Even if she wasn't… I wouldn't want to!"
"Anymore," Robert replied with a knowing grin.
"Quiet. That was… just… a fluke."
"Whatever, man. Regardless of what it was, the point is that you told her one thing: that you don't think she's a whore — right?"
"Right. Because I don't."
"But then you turned around and told her that she's been with too many guys! That's what a whore is! You can't have it both ways, dude!"
"I… I know that! It's just…" Ryo trailed off so he could drink some more.
"Complicated, right? There's nothing complicated about this, man — you're just being an ass!"
Suddenly Ryo's head snapped forward and the liquid in his mouth sprayed out all over Robert's expensive Armani shirt. Before Robert could get too pissed and grossed out, a high, clear voice yelled:
"'Too many men?!'"
Yuri Sakazaki stood behind her brother, her phone in one hand, furious.
"What the hell?!" Ryo exclaimed while holding the back of his head.
"Are you serious?!" Yuri shouted. "This is bullcrap! It's bullcrap, and you're bullcrap, and this is why we can't have nice things, you unbelievable… butthole!"
The younger Sakazaki threw her hands up before smacking her brother upside the head again.
"Yuri, I swear to god if you touch me again —"
"We all know you're going to stay your ass in that seat so don't even start," Robert growled as he dabbed at his soiled top. "You owe me a new shirt."
"I don't owe you anything!"
"No, but you owe Céccy one heck of an apology," Yuri said as she strolled over to Robert.
"You talked to her?" Both men asked in unison.
"Not exactly," Yuri began. "She texted me so I texted her back but she hasn't responded so she's probably sleeping off whatever, or in the shower, or —"
"What'd she say?!" Ryo interrupted.
"Oh, look who suddenly cares," Yuri growled. "Anyway, she said. Uhh…"
"...What?" Robert asked, one eyebrow raised.
Yuri quickly unlocked the phone in her hand, tapped on the tiny photo of King that was in the Messages screen, and held it up with a grimace so Robert could see. He cleared his throat, squinted at the screen (he had left his glasses in the car) and read out loud:
"Remember all those times you told me that Ryo would never think differently of me if he knew about what happened? Guess what. He does, and he told me that I've been with too many men now. So if he asks about me you can tell him that he can get fucked. Maybe even by too many men."
Robert couldn't help himself as he began laughing because that was one hell of a burn. After a bit, he cleared his throat and looked to Ryo, ready to continue their conversation, but he was suddenly hit with a feeling of unease. Something was coming, and whatever it was definitely was not good.
Yuri placed one arm around Robert and lowered herself onto his knee so she could half-stand, half-sit.
"Robbie, what is it?" she asked curiously.
Robert was about to respond but stopped when Yuri's face paled as she glanced beyond her brother, toward the front entrance.
Ummm, not a lot that needs to be explained going on here:
* Armani shirts are expensive as fuck. The cheapest one I saw in my research was $225.00 USD
* Céccy = King; Yuri dubbed her Céccy after she was told to stop calling her "King-san" all the time.
* Robert's glasses: Falcoon drew a portrait of bespectacled Robert in a business suit once so I took it a ran with it. Fight me.
Okay! That's it for this installment! What did Robert and Yuri see, and why did it elicit such a reaction from Yuri? Hit me up with your guesses and general thoughts/feels. Until next time~