sincerely not. (9)
↳ gojou satoru/reader
with an arranged marriage set in place, the sacred bond is doomed with a wife who wants to make the relationship work and a husband who’s ready to ruin it all. unknown to him, a tragic fate already lies within the pages of your romance book.
genre. heavy angst, unrequited love, arranged marriage, modern au, 18+
tags/warnings. hurt/comfort, illness, mentions of pregnancy, infidelity
notes.￼ 9.2k wc. thank u sm @suhkusa & @rinstars for beta-ing last minute, so grateful for u both <3 anyway, the devil works hard but ai works harder >:D enjoy this chapter!
series masterlist -> part ten
“Y/N, are you ready for your results?”
You hated hospitals. You hated the antiseptic smell that lingered through the air, spanning a good portion of the hallways that never allowed you an escape from the miasma of alcohol that hung around the establishment. You hated the harsh fluorescent lighting and the neutral colors that accentuated the stark room with a sterile and uninviting surrounding. You hated the dissonant sounds of the machines, the general cacophony from the staff, the flash of people in white garments—everything about the hospital attracted your repressed anxiety.
The olfaction was the worst of them all because it was omnipresent and it triggered the unwanted, not even nostalgic, memories that you have spent years wanting to escape from.
It has been a decade since you lost your mom. A period of ten years where life hasn’t been the same for you—from shutting yourself out from the world, eventually cutting people off, to losing the motivation to pursue your dreams—you never thought that a person’s death could carry this much anguish in your heart. You shared your mother’s throes for when she was in the median between life and death, remembering how her frail hands held yours in her last moments, staring at your face with a breather covering her mouth. You watched her die before your eyes while knowing that you were the last person she saw before she departed from her physical body.
You watched how people eventually moved on with their lives, only a week since your mom’s funeral rites as though it was easy to forget a person who once existed to bring joy and comfort for those around her. Death was inevitable and that was not something you could deny because life was an endless cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation. However, even as the person transcends to the afterlife, what would remain after their death was the infliction of pain for the ones left behind.
And that pain was truly of the worst kind.
Cutting out of your trance, you met Dr. Mori’s deep russet eyes with a suppressed sigh. “Yes, doc.”
In his hand was a copy of your electrocardiogram that he squinted at behind his thick framed glasses. “Based on your ECG, it seems that you have developed what we call an Angina Pectoris,” he carefully revealed, gauging on your reaction as he spoke, “we also refer to it as Stable Angina. Are you familiar with that?”
Your nod was hesitant but rueful withal. Because of the unbearable chest pain that you’ve had back in Bora Bora, you suspected that something about your heart was not functioning right anymore and you knew that you were bound to be destroyed by another devastating news that did not root from your husband’s mistreatment this time. His words and actions were painful, but discovering about your illness was excruciating. “So I have a serious heart condition?” your lips quivered as you asked. Your face, pallor. Void of any other color but ashen hue.
“It’s not life threatening yet,” he quickly clarified as if to console you from the anxiety that was building inside, “but it could be detrimental if you don’t take good care of your heart. In your case, you experience episodes of squeezing, pressure, or tightness in the chest area because the blockage in your arteries hinders blood from flowing through your heart. You are at a high risk factor for coronary artery disease so I’m gonna have to put you on strict medications to prevent that.”
As much as the news sucked the life out of you, your initial reaction was to be completely numb. You were already deadened inside after all the things that you’ve had to go through for the past week and learning about your illness was the icing on the cake. You were on the brink of losing your sanity. Truly, how could life be so cruel? How could the universe offer you nothing but endless torment? All this suffering had you starting to believe that you might have been a terrible person in your past life and you were paying the price in this lifetime.
“Any family members that have had similar heart-related problems before?” The doctor was writing down on a pad of paper, jotting down any necessary information that he could get from your medical history.
You held it together for your sake, but you could see that the man sympathized with his patient beyond his sworn obligation. “My mom.” The hammering feeling returned to your chest just by answering the doctor’s question. “She died because of her heart disease about ten years ago.”
“Ah, so it’s hereditary,” he hummed, the ticking of the clock was louder than his voice. “That’s one of the risk factors, but it could also root from extreme physical activities or severe emotional stress. Since you have a weak vessel, those aforementioned can narrow your arteries and trigger angina. Is there anything that’s been stressing you out lately?”
You almost wanted to laugh. Bitterly. Spitefully.
Why on Earth did you always have to be on the losing side? How could your husband sleep peacefully at night while you always had to wake up facing a new plight? If you were going to answer the doctor’s question, Satoru Gojou was the sole reason for your stress. Heartache. Sorrow. The man you called your husband, the same man who threw his ring on the ocean without sympathy for the wife that sacrificed her fears just to search for it—he was responsible for the permanent damages on your heart. But even then, you could not blame him.
He was not at fault that you lived with a frail heart to begin with. He was not at fault for lashing out at you after you uttered hurtful things about his mom. These things were beyond his control and he was completely unaware of the byproduct that came forth from your failed marriage.
“There were some things that have been stressful,” you admitted, doleful eyes glued on the hourglass sitting atop the table. “Is it possible to reverse my condition?”
A yes was what you hoped for, but a no was what reality brought back to you.
“Angina is irreversible. There is no immediate cure for it but that’s why you need to change your lifestyle and take medications to prevent it from becoming worse. You’re in the early stages so there’s no need to place too much stress on yourself, alright?” Dr. Mori offered a comforting albeit professional smile as he saw the despondency in your mien. “My best advice is for you to detach yourself from the primary cause of your stress. It could be a lifesaver.”
Detachment—something that you should have done long ago instead of pathetically fooling yourself thinking that your marital gaps could be fixed by filling up the empty spaces. It was distressing to know that all your time and effort into making your marriage work would be thrown to waste, but you had to do things for your sake and not his anymore.
This marriage was your downfall and you ought to save yourself before it could kill you. Literally.
Somehow, you found it surprising how you were able to gather yourself together despite finding out about the dreadful news. To know that you might end up six feet under and be forgotten in this world like your mom did was an experience that left blisters on your heart. Was it depressing? It would definitely catch up to you within the next few days, but for now, you carried the heavy weight on your slumped shoulders as you listened to your doctor’s next instructions with a lifeless look on your face. Medications, diet, and avoidance towards stress. He spent the next thirty minutes yapping about the do’s and don'ts that were crucial to your heart’s condition while you sat there trying to hold it all together.
By the time you left his clinic, you were no longer all too stunned when you happened to bump into Dr. Shoko Ieiri from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology who was immediately pulling you inside of her office with a troubled expression on her pale face. It had been a week since you came home from the traumatic trip, ignoring the entirety of your husband’s existence as you left him and his mistress when you took the commercial flight back home. It was Ieiri who stayed with you after you passed out from being a dried prune with all the tears you’ve shed over your supposed partner in life. It was her who made sure that Satoru couldn’t talk to you while she and Getou drove you to your dad’s mansion as soon as you landed back in Japan.
If you weren’t burdened by the unbearable pangs inside of your ribcage, you would have found it ironic that Satoru’s own friends could not find it in themselves to support his actions.
“Did you get checked?” Ieiri immediately greeted you with a fusillade of questions as she took notice of the huge brown envelope on your hand. “What happened? What was the result?”
You blamed it on Shoko’s comforting presence because tears pricked at your eyes now that you could finally release the emotions that you’ve kept inside the bottle. “I want to keep this between us but I have a heart condition,” you gave her an honest response while her sunken eyes measured your visage, “It’s gonna worsen over time if I don’t take care of myself.”
“Oh, gosh… Y/N.” She didn’t even hesitate at pulling you into her arms, hiding the glaze of sadness in her eyes. “I’m…” She was rendered speechless and so were you. “I’m sorry. I really am.”
You learned that people, even those not at fault, would apologize for things they did not do because they wanted to extend their sincerest sympathies. Ieiri was the living example of that. She has always been perceptive and sensitive towards other people’s miseries, something that your husband considerably lacked.
“Don’t apologize,” your voice broke, “I had a feeling that I was gonna inherit it from my mom. I’m just glad Gen didn’t.”
Pulling away, she rubbed your back for some comfort. “I mean, you’re literally the kindest and you don’t deserve everything that’s been happening especially with Go—”
“I haven’t seen him in a week,” you cut her off before his name could leave her lips. You genuinely wanted to avoid any topic concerning your husband because even the mere mention of his name could put you on your deathbed at this point. “But I don’t think I can go back to the mansion tonight after knowing about my health. I might just end up breaking down in front of Gen and my dad. I-I don’t wanna worry them.”
She squeezed your arms and you could see it in her eyes that she understood how difficult and emotionally taxing it was for you. “Do you need a place to stay?”
Surely, it was the smartest option, but not as easy as she made it sound. “No, I have to… sort some things out back at the penthouse.”
As much as you dreaded going back to that place to see the man who loathed every fiber of your being, you would rather deal with Satoru now than to be in your weakest state in front of your own family. It was a gamble, but you knew that you would only end up losing on the latter. With Gojou, there was nothing more for you to lose because there hadn’t been any gain in the first place. He might probably even celebrate the fact that your death was only a hair's breadth away. In the end, you had to pay for ruining his life through this marriage. After all, you were a curse more than a blessing for him.
“Okay… well.” Ieiri held your hand with a much needed warmth. “If you need anything, please please let me know. It breaks me to see how you’re dealing with all of this.”
It broke you, too. Wrecked you, even. Your mother’s death left a significant void in your soul and you witnessed the scars it left on your dad—scars that never healed and would stay with him until his last breath. Imagining your father’s reaction to you having a similar health condition would absolutely crush his whole world.
At the end of the day, you still chose to protect everyone’s emotions other than yours.
Dealing with something of this gravity was more than a person could take. Despite the people that surrounded you, you felt so lonely. So forlorn. Everyone else had their own thing going on with their lives while you were bedeviled by the grief in yours. It seemed that the onus was always on you, never of anyone else’s. Happiness was never within your reach because all the universe ever planned for you was to make your human life a living hell.
You were swamped with deep thoughts when you drove around town; lost in the sea of cars moving and passing, of traffic lights blinking and switching, of the people walking and smiling. There was no one to share your troubles with. No one to release the blues in your heart because you were meant to face everything by yourself.
However, while you were stuck in heavy traffic gazing at the baby blue skies, you remembered the one person who believed and encouraged your dreams without even knowing your history. It was the hopelessness that urged you to fish out your purse, withdrawing a certain business card so you could dial the number printed under his name. And as you held the phone to your ear, your listlessness shifted into sanguine.
“Hello?” The deep voice from the other end of the line sparked electricity within your heart. “Who’s calling?”
With a deep breath, you tapped the steering wheel and answered, “Mr. Toji Zen’in, it’s Y/N.” A smile momentarily concealed the pain in your voice. “I was just wondering if I can still take you up on your offer?”
Satoru has not had any decent sleep for the past week.
There was no point in lying. As much as he hated to admit it, he was absolutely miserable without you. Ever since that failure of a weekend getaway, he was haunted by the guilt of putting you through colossal pain all because his wrath swallowed him whole. He had already inflicted damage before his mind became lucid, realizing how the extent of his actions affected you to the point of being completely irreparable. He couldn’t even do damage control because Ieiri wouldn’t allow him to see you. Getou, despite being his closest friend, kept insisting that he should leave you alone.
For how long? He had been deeply agitated because he couldn’t deal with the amount of overthinking that plagued his mind lately. He did not hear from you throughout your absence nor did anyone from your family tried to contact him. Were they aware of what happened? Were you bound to ask for a divorce again? This was the exact reason why he couldn’t drive up to your place and pick you up because he was scared shitless that his presence would provoke you to further reject him.
He fucked up and didn’t know how to turn things around for the better. His greatest fear was for this incident to become a domino effect, from the downfall of your marriage to putting the company in dire straits.
‘You’re becoming like the person you hate the most.’ He recalled Getou’s words and refused it all the more. ‘You already lost her.’ He couldn’t lose you. These things could still be fixed, but what he could never accept was hearing how he was acting exactly like his father. He would never in his life be like the twisted man who ruined his childhood and drove his wife away from his son.
Satoru knew that you made extremely valid points for not wanting a baby, except his ego and his pride just didn’t allow him to immediately understand your perspective with a rational mind.
And Sera. Damn it. What has he done? She was the result of all the rage that consumed him after your big fight. Getting her pregnant out of spite would be the worst case scenario in his already tainted life and he had to prevent it before things got out of control.
With all the said factors in mind, Gojou has completely lost his equanimity. He never thought that he would have to rely on sleeping pills just to get a wink of sleep because his nightmares were getting worse. He would wake up in the middle of the night touching your side of the bed and feeling nothing but cold, empty space. He would go to the office without paying attention to his attire because he couldn’t be bothered to carefully pick the right one for himself. He attended meetings with bags under his eyes, succumbing into deep thoughts when he should be focusing on important business matters.
You weren’t supposed to affect him this much. Why couldn’t he just keep the same frenzied rage that he had when he heard the trenchant words you’ve said about his mother leaving him? Why couldn’t he keep the same attitude when he threw the ring in the ocean and left you sobbing on your knees before he went to his other woman to fuck her stupid?
All he could think of for now was how he could no longer spend another night without seeing or hearing from you. He was going insane. Because, for some unidentifiable reason, his stone cold heart craved your warmth.
“—the goal is to take over J-Air and make it one of the top three leading airlines on a global scale.” Right in front of Satoru was the Chief Operating Officer, delivering a presentation in a long table full of shareholders who all listened intently to the proposal. “According to the financial statement in the business plan, the assets at the fiscal year-end increased by 125.4 billion yen from the end of the previous fiscal year to 1 trillion 854.2 billion yen, mainly due to procurement of aircraft and advance aircraft payments. The liabilities increased by 34.7 billion yen from the end of the previous fiscal year to 760 billion yen due to issuance of corporate bonds and an increase in loans—”
Gojou’s deep exhale earned the attention of the shareholders before he cut to the chase. “What’s the ratio? It’s not in the presentation.”
The COO stammered as he assessed the ceiling-to-floor projector screen. “Uh, well the equity ratio rose by 1.0 percentage points from the end of the previous fiscal year to, uh… 56.9%.”
“Are you sure it’s not 57.2%? How could you mess up the numbers?” Gojou’s austere businessman facade had always been deemed intimidating by everyone else in the room during executive meetings. It didn’t matter if these people were part of the company’s upper echelon. The aura and power that he has was something that they also saw through his father which were both a compliment and an insult for him. Business-wise, Satoru would be happy to hear that he had the same sagacity as his father. But outside of the business world, saying that to his face would send the person into the pits of hell.
One of the lines that can never be crossed in Satoru Gojou’s handbook was to say that he was the exact copy of his dad.
The COO nodded apologetically. “You’re right. My apologies for the error.”
If Satoru didn’t study the financial statements prior to the trip, he doubted that he would have had the capability to make rational decisions on his own since his mind was a befuddled mess all because of you—something very unusual for the frontman who led the general stockholders’ meetings when the Chairman was overseas. Since his father was in Macau to fulfill a proposition for a newly built hotel and casino, Satoru was in charge of approving all the remaining proposals from small acquisitions to huge corporate alliances for the month.
He didn’t want to stall things further when he finally made a decision. “Complete the acquisition,” he ordered in an orotund voice, quickly gaining looks from all the shareholders in the long table. “This should be done in four months. Let’s end the meeting here.”
He was already getting up from his chair, striding across the room as the COO and all the shareholders politely bowed at his exit. His new secretary struggled to keep up with his pace being only recently hired by his father and clearly still requiring more time to adapt in a competitive environment. The woman had many things to catch up on and her boss wasn’t exactly very friendly within the glass walls of the C-Suite floor so Satoru already expected that this poor girl wouldn’t last more than two months.
“Miwa Kasumi, was it?” Gojou only spoke when he entered his office, followed by his seemingly inexperienced secretary. Her nod was brief as she stood by the door. “What’s my schedule for the day?”
She quickly checked through her iPad. “Ah, well… None for the day, sir,” she said, pausing for a moment before adding, “although your wife called today—”
“What’d she say?” With wide sapphire eyes, Satoru was ashamed at how he immediately looked back at her for some news.
Contrarily, Miwa was not surprised at the urgency in her boss’ tone. “Um, she just wanted to check if you had any appointments left.”
Why would you ask for his schedule? Were you planning to finally come back home today? From the corner of his eyes, Satoru saw Sera walking past his office with the click clack of her heels and that ultimately distracted him from the thought of you. However, this time around, it was only because of her presence that his anxiety increased, remembering that he still had to deal with another crucial issue at hand.
“Secretary Miwa,” Gojou gave her one last order before he followed Sera out of the door. “Get the best bouquet you can find. I need it for my wife.”
“Why can’t you do anything right?!” For the longest time, Sera had to put up with her insufferable boss who never once treated her with kindness. Mrs. Fujikawa was one of the strictest Executive on the floor and to some extent, Sera could understand that it was only driven by her challenging role as the company’s CFO. But seeing as how the stern woman showered you with compliments every time you visited the office, she could feel nothing but resentment for the fact that you were only getting treated well because of your status. Sera hated it. She hated just how easy life was for someone like you. “Your photocopies come out like a mess. You don’t get paid to waste my time seeing these unaligned copies一are you listening?!”
In obligatory acquiescence, she gave the woman an apologetic bow. “I’m sorry, Miss. I’ll just do all five-hundred pages again.”
“You better!” Mrs. Fujikawa unforgivably slammed the papers atop the fax machine and pivoted on her heels as she left. Sometimes, Sera wondered if the reason why this woman acted unpleasantly towards her was because she had an inkling about her secret relationship with Satoru. If that was the case, then it would justify just why Mrs. Fujikawa slapped her with the extreme contrast between how you and her were treated.
She couldn’t understand why the elite loved stepping on the lesser people’s shoes like it was their day job. Sera couldn’t even feel an ounce of sympathy for what happened to you back at the trip because she believed that it was karma for your desperate pursuance to make Satoru yours. You needed to know your place, and if passing out from crying was how you would wake up to your senses, then it was good enough that it happened. You have not even experienced half the suffering that Sera had to endure in her life.
It was farcical how you could ruin her day without even showing up in the office. She has no idea how things were between you and Gojou after the trip, but what was aggravating her was how the man couldn’t pay attention to her as much as he used to. Something seemed to have changed. Something seemed to have snapped within him but she could not fathom what exactly it was. Guilt? Remorse? Satoru shouldn’t even feel bad. He never really desired you, anyway.
Sera let herself be swallowed by her bitter thoughts while she spent the next hour skipping her lunch because she was burdened by the amount of photocopies that she needed to finish. And at long last when she had completed her tedious task, she left the copies in Mrs. Fujikawa’s office and marched across the corridor knowing that Satoru would catch a glimpse of her.
Her intuitions were right. She was always right. Because not even a minute after she passed by his office, he was already snatching her arm and pulling her inside the vacant and isolated meeting room to hide from the prying eyes of his employees.
“We need to talk.” Satoru did not make an effort to turn the lights on. Still, Sera could see the consternation in his stance and she despised just how he wasn’t being the usual confident and poised man that she fell in love with. This Satoru was different and unappealing.
She crossed her arms and leaned against the table. “Talk about what?” If she was being honest, Gojou looked awful. His collar was visibly creased and two of his buttons were undone because he didn’t care enough to wear a necktie.
“You took the plan B when I told you to, right?” he asked, perturbed and all. So this was what was causing his anxiety? How laughable. “Answer me,” he egged on, now grabbing her wrist to make her look at his eyes.
Sera, overcome with bitterness, gave him a scoff. “What if I didn’t? Are you that scared that I could be pregnant? Weren’t you so ready to be a daddy?”
“Don’t fuck with me,” he snapped, chest rising and falling deeply. “You’re not valuable enough to ruin my life.”
Taken aback from his piercing remark, she pushed him off. “Not valuable?” A laugh of disbelief followed. “You say I’m the only woman you love and suddenly I’m not valuable? Go fuck yourself, Satoru. It’s not like you even feel anything for her.”
Instead of quickly apologizing like he normally would, he chose not to take his words back despite the puncture it left on Sera’s heart. “You’re not stupid enough not to understand the situation, right?” Not once did he look away. “I know we’ve been in denial about this whole infidelity thing but everyone will see you as a homewrecker. It’ll ruin us both.”
“Why didn’t you pull out if you’re so scared?” she questioned with gritted teeth. Gojou’s logical reasoning was unbelievably asinine. “Ruin us? Why? You were going to divorce her either way.”
Sera didn’t know what hurt more. If it was knowing how Satoru didn’t want a baby with her or hearing him choose you if she ever made him pick what his priority was. At this rate, the restlessness in his face was a sign of how he must have seen his life crumbling down before him.
“Just get a pregnancy test as soon as possible.” He averted his eyes and threw his head back, releasing an exasperated sigh from his peachy lips. “We can’t have a baby. It’s all my fault but we really can’t.”
Sera ignored the searing ache in her heart but tightened her fist nonetheless. “Why? Is she threatening you or what?”
He answered by shaking his head. “She hasn’t come home for a week now.”
So this was what it was. Sera could see it now. Because you had not come home, he had no outlet to release the intensity of his anger but on her. She was the recipient of his rage because you chose to be dramatic about the whole trip. How much of an attention seeker could you be?
“Don’t you realize that she’s maybe just trying to get you to chase her?” she pointed out to enlighten his mind.
Surprisingly, however, he dismissed the thought. “I need her back home regardless.”
Pathetic. This wasn’t Satoru. Sera was displeased to see this other side of him. “You’re not you,” she said, strictly. “Get a hold of yourself. You’re desperate ‘cause you think your plans are gonna fail. Can’t you just resolve it instead of pretending like you need her so badly?”
“I am resolving it.” Satoru’s back collided against the wall as his lover took another step to pin him back. She distracted him by trailing kisses along his jaw, pressing herself against his chest while he spoke his mind. “Just that if she walks out on me, it… it would remind me of when my mom left—”
Sera had to pull away and roll her eyes. “Here we go again.” Truth was, she had no time for this. “I’ve heard about your mother leaving over and over. It’s getting old. Move on.”
Seriously, if he hated his mother so much then why couldn’t he just forget about her? There were more problems to face in life. Sera already had baggage on her own and carrying Satoru’s along with hers was asking for too much. He was a grown adult. Instead of burdening her with his own problems, he should know that there were boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.
“I’m not in the mood anymore. Talk to me when you figure things out,” was the last thing she said before she left him alone to reflect by himself.
Perhaps she needed some self-reflection, too. She needed some time to think about what would happen if she really did end up pregnant with his child. Frankly, it was all Sera ever wanted because she couldn’t see being with anyone other than Satoru. What would only make the situation problematic was how his father would possibly strip him off of his rights to be the next CEO because of the amount of scandal that it could put the company through. Sera used to understand that Satoru had to make sacrifices to achieve his ideal life, but his indecisiveness and more so his recklessness was making her frustrated.
Had he not shown any signs of genuine affection towards you, Sera never would have acted this way.
She carried the same frustration until she came home to her family’s new apartment downtown. Because of the ten million that she received from Satoru’s dad, Sera was able to lease a decent three-bedroom home in a nice neighborhood as compared to the one she grew up in. Thinking back of how awful their previous house was, she had no intentions of ever going back to the inner-city slums.
Still, life has been unsatisfying for her. When she entered the house, she could immediately smell the stench of alcohol that came from her drunkard father who was sitting on the couch doing nothing like the waste of space that he was. Peeking from the kitchen was her mother cooking their supper, immediately welcoming Sera with a smile as soon as she entered the door.
“My daughter,” she cooed, holding a spatula and wiping her other greasy hand on her apron.
Sera barely acknowledged her mom as she kicked her heels out of the way, walking past her parents while heading straight into her room. At least, her personal space was neat and tidy. Nearly everything in her room was a light shade of yellow and she couldn’t wait for the day when she would finally be able to sleep in a king-sized bed, sharing a room with the one person that she loved.
“Nee-chan?” Her younger sister, Nari, called by the door. “Dinner’s ready.”
Her face stayed rigid. “Yeah, I’ll come out in a while.” Frankly, Sera was feeling lackluster after the conversation that she had with Satoru this afternoon. She was truly upset at how the man was denying the thought of having a baby with her but was willing to have all of that with you. It wasn’t her insecurity tugging at her, she was simply distasteful at the fact that you had a leverage into high society because you were born with a silver spoon on your mouth.
With a restrained sigh, she walked into the mirror and twisted her body, caressing her stomach and imagining how she would look like with a bump growing day by day.
God. “I’m coming!” she yelled, slipping out of her office attire and changing into more comfortable clothes. As soon as she got out of her room, the perpetual frown reappeared on her face when her father nearly stumbled onto the dining table. “You said you’ll stop drinking!”
The old man looked up with half-lidded eyes and a stupid grin. “Sera, my daughter!”
“You’re revolting.” Her brows were all furrowed as her siblings watched her harshly pulling out a chair with her misdirected temper.
Her mother was quick to place a piece of fried fish on her plate, only to earn her look of disappointment. “Why? You don’t like the food?”
“I don’t wanna eat this,” Sera complained, huffing in displeasure. “Didn’t I give you enough money to buy good meat?”
All her mother could offer was an apologetic smile. “I had to limit our budget since your dad was….” the increasing silence in her tone was a clear message for Sera. Her father gambled, again. “I’ll try to bargain for some wagyu beef in the market next time.”
No, she was no longer in the mood to eat. She already had an exhausting day at work and despised that she had to come home to this household at all. With the combination of her stress and frustration, she got up from her seat and slammed the chair back in. All of them were startled by her fit of pique but she didn’t even try to conceal it as she looked at her parents with fire blazing in her eyes.
“Nee-chan, calm down,” said Jiro, her brother, who tried to prevent his sister’s growing ire.
“Why would I?” Sera stared daggers at her parents. “Why would I calm down when I have to deal with all of you by myself? Our mom and dad are useless.” Her scoff was full of antagonism. “I don’t deserve to be born into a poor family, but I have no other choice because our parents are failures!”
Silence filled the room because they knew that Sera was becoming tired of having to be the breadwinner of her family. Life’s full of shit, she had that in mind. It was unfair how others had the privilege to be raised in a rich household while she was punished with jobless parents who did nothing but watch their eldest child work her ass off every single day. See, this was the difference between you and her. You didn’t experience this much hardship in life for you to complain about not winning Satoru’s heart.
If Sera couldn’t have anything, then you shouldn’t, too. It was only fair.
“I’m going to bed,” she announced, stomping her way out of the dining area wishing that it was as easy to walk away from the life that she was given.
Toji was the CEO of one of the top conglomerates in Japan and it was normal to perceive the guy as an intimidating man with a dominating presence who could make a room full of people bow at his feet.
But between him and Gojou, he wasn’t exactly the type of man who would uphold his authority just to feel superior. He leaned more into having an approachable stance contrary to popular belief because he knew that his actions would reflect the image of his family’s business empire一the same image will be passed on to his employees who all looked up to him as their highest-ranking executive. How could he inspire people if they were scared of him? That was the easiest way to put it.
You didn’t even feel uncomfortable around him despite not having seen the man for weeks, because as soon as he entered the cafe, he had a boyish grin tugging at his scarred lips when he met you at your table. Beyond the simple hi’s and hello’s, or the how are you’s and the small talk, the man was clearly perceptive to your emotions that he was fast to notice the sorrows that you’ve tried to mask with your docile eyes.
“You’re not here to talk business with me, are you?” His question may be straightforward, but there was comfort laced behind his tone.
Your lips stretched into a small smile. “I’m sorry. You probably have more important things to deal with.”
He quickly countered your assumption with a playful joke, “I can make time for Mrs. Zen’in.”
“Silly.” This wasn’t the first time he managed to make you laugh in your deepest lows. How could someone who wasn’t even your husband be able to do what your spouse was supposed to?
Hesitantly, you tapped your fingers on your cup of coffee and tried to gather yourself together. Back to the real deal, what was the best way to tell someone that you were bound to tragically die? The doctor did say that your case was not life threatening yet, but you already knew where it would lead to. Holding onto false hopes would only wreck you, so it was better to face the harsh realities than to maximize the weight of your suffering for when the time comes.
“No, I… uh,” you paused as you took a deep breath and met his emerald eyes with a glint of hope, “I just wanted to tell you that I need to meet Mai and Maki soon. Maybe Megumi, too.”
The man in a black suit leaned back on his chair without taking his gaze off you. “That’s it?” he asked, looping his fingers onto the ceramic cup before taking a sip from his freshly brewed Americano. “For what?”
You tilted your head a little. “I sketched a new batch of designs and I want to personally have it tailored for them.”
Toji glanced at your lips before meeting your eyes again. “The kids would love that,” he said, immediately taking it back, “Well, not kids anymore, I guess,” and in between his sentences, you found solace from his presence. “How about you come visit the estate tomorrow?”
“Great, I will.” You already looked forward to it knowing that the Zen’ins seem to have such a great relationship with one another. In that sense, the happiness in their household was what yours lacked. Now that you were doomed with a heart problem aside from your loveless marriage, you couldn’t exactly tell how you would proceed to live a contented life. You didn’t have the clarity to think of what you should do to avoid further damages that you have long sustained by keeping your marriage intact. Toji didn’t specifically ask about what was going through your mind, but his obvious concern allowed you to finally spill your thoughts. “I just found out that I… I have a certain heart condition that requires me to keep myself away from severe emotional stress, otherwise it could… be life threatening.”
Unlike Ieiri, his reaction wasn’t big. He was calm and composed, but he was reading through the emotions present on your face as he took a few minutes to let the news sink into him. And even then, feeling sorry was not his option because instead of treating your situation as if it was pitiful, he actually gave you a boost of encouragement. “Life’s too short not to enjoy the happy sides of it.” His eyes glazed with rue nevertheless. “This is the perfect opportunity to focus on yourself and what will bring you happiness. Your dreams, your passion一it’s not too late, Y/N. Having an illness, no matter the magnitude, shouldn’t hold you back from pursuing your heart’s desire.”
He was right. While it was natural for you to think that halcyon days were now out of your reach, it was also a good wake up call for you to realize that you should put your happiness first before anyone else’s. You shouldn’t be counting your last days on Earth, and instead, anticipate the rest of your sunrises and sunsets without any regret.
“I just don’t know where to start,” you admitted, looking at the glass wall and watching the beads of rain bouncing on the concrete. The sky was crying and so should you.
“Does he know?” the man asked. “Or does he care?”
Your crestfallen face could speak for itself. “I don’t plan to tell him,” you said, eyes beginning to pool of tears, “and I一I think it’s healthier for me to maintain my distance.”
Toji wholeheartedly agreed. “You know, staying with him is your fatal flaw.”
The man wasn’t even aware of your husband’s infidelity and ill-treatment. He was simply an innocent bystander and yet he could confidently say that being with Satoru was your hamartia in this tragic love story. Perhaps it was easy to see. Or maybe, he was once in a toxic marriage which made it effortless for him to notice the red flags in yours. If your husband was your own destruction, the only way to prevent it was through divorce.
You weren’t exactly ready to deal with the strain that it would cause you.
What you could do, on the other hand, was to toughen your walls around him. No more setting aside your emotions for his sake, no more extensive effort to save your marriage for your own desire. Your only purpose from hereafter was to live your best life without sacrificing anything more than you already have for a husband who could never love you.
Gojou had never been this nervous coming home.
His hands trembled when he opened the door to the penthouse, holding the bouquet of red roses that his secretary specifically picked for you. He had a gut feeling that you would be coming home tonight because there wouldn’t be any other reason for you to ask about Satoru’s schedule if it wasn’t to prepare yourself when he arrived.
He wouldn’t say that he missed you, but he hasn’t seen your face for a week. He hasn’t heard your voice. Hasn’t received your kisses.
Those feelings of longingness had completely washed away as soon as he entered the apartment and spotted you sitting on the couch, overlooking the cityscape in complete silence. His heartbeat increased exponentially and his desperate footsteps quickly led him to you but he had to slow himself down in case his presence was too overwhelming.
You didn’t exactly acknowledge him right away even when he placed the bouquet on the coffee table before he walked closer and crouched down to look at you. “You’re back.”
It was like he was seeing a different person. Your eyes were empty, your lips were pale. The depressing sadness was overflowing but not once did you make an effort to look at his eyes.
“Y/N…” He grabbed your hand and squeezed it. “Can we talk about what happened?”
He wasn’t prepared to talk about it, frankly. In fact, he was afraid to look back at what happened because he knew that he fucked up and he knew that he completely ruined you. However, Satoru learned that he had to have the courage to open up before things could worsen. He didn’t even expect that you would be coming home at all so it wasn’t surprising to be welcomed with the palpable tension between you and him right now. It was so intense that it was almost tangible, but he was willing to face it all in exchange for seeing his soft-hearted wife back.
“Talk to me, please.”
Unfortunately, you weren’t very cooperative because you chose to close your eyes and lean your head back as if the man didn’t exist. He could see the slow rise and fall of your chest, the quivering of your lips, and the surge of tears that you were trying so hard to keep. It was as though you wanted to speak to him, but couldn’t. You wanted to open your mouth and say something, but felt that you shouldn’t.
His heart fell.
Since when did Satoru feel this much emotion from you? He felt the urgent need to hear your thoughts in order to comfort you but it wouldn’t be possible if you refused to even acknowledge him in the slightest. And as he held your hand, he noticed that the gold ring was no longer there.
“Wh-Where’s your—” Fuck. He didn’t even have the right to ask about the wedding ring. He just needed you to talk. That’s it. “Have you had dinner yet? Do you wanna go out—”
For the longest minute of his life, you finally moved but only to pull your hands away from his grasp, pressing your palm on your chest as you got up. “You stay away from me.”
Satoru would be a hypocrite if he said that he was actually hurt when he had told you many times to stay away from him in the harshest way possible. He treated you like garbage, stomped on your heart, poisoned your soul with venomous words. How exactly could he find an antidote to make you stay by his side?
He wasn’t used to this. When Getou told him that he already lost you, he had a hard time accepting it. You were still here, and if you coming back home meant that he could fix things, then he would do whatever it took to win you back.
For now, it was difficult to even get you to give him some attention because you avoided crossing paths with him as much as you could. He wasn’t dumb. You must have realized that there was no point in trying to resolve your marital issues when he was bound to pulverize your heart again one way or another. You were protecting yourself from getting hurt, and goddamn did it bring a pang of unshakable guilt to Satoru.
He couldn’t ignore the little things, too. Such as how you locked the door while you were taking your night shower when you used to let him enter anytime he wanted to. Gojou left for work this morning with an unmade bed and pieces of his clothing that were all over the floor. His leather shoes were scattered, his neckties were in disarray—everything was messy without you. Now, your shared bedroom was clean and tidy again, but there was a strange uninviting coldness that seeped through.
Because he was panicking without knowing what to do, Satoru spent some time lounging at the pool area as he dialed his best friend’s number. He hasn’t spoken to the guy since you all got back from Bora Bora and he was hoping that he could allow him to confide even just for tonight.
Getou knew that there was no other reason for Gojou to call at ten in the evening if it wasn’t about you. “What’s up?” The guy’s casual tone was a relief for Satoru to hear.
“Suguru, she came home,” he quickly spilled, looking up at the night sky as he leaned against the metal railings, “but she’s not talking to me.”
“Jesus. I wonder why?” His words dripped with sarcasm. “She doesn’t even know that you fucked a baby into Sera. It’s gonna ruin her.”
He took a deep breath and released it into a deep sigh. “Don’t tell her. I’m already trying to clear things up with Sera. She took the plan B.”
Getou snorted from the other end of the line. “Now you suddenly care about how Y/N would feel?”
Gojou couldn’t find a good rebuttal to his best friend’s question. The only thing he could do was express his distress. “She’s not wearing her ring anymore. I just know she’s about to bring up the divorce. Fuck, Suguru. I don’t know what to do.”
There was a minute of silence from his best friend’s side that Satoru almost thought he hung up on him. He even had to check the caller ID to make sure that he was still listening until he did speak again. “Did you know that Y/N jumped into the ocean to look for your ring and nearly drowned?”
Shit. “H-How—Why didn’t you tell me?” No wonder you couldn’t even spare him a glance. His stupid actions resulted in that, and he didn’t know if he could ever forgive himself for it. His wife. His poor wife. What had he done?
“You made it very clear that she didn’t mean anything to you.”
“Suguru,” he warned.
“What?” The guy scoffed. “It’s your marriage. Fix it without hurting her,” and before Gojou could respond, Getou added one last thing, “I found your ring and gave it to her. You can ask her for it.”
Fix it without hurting you—how could he actually do that?
It was nearly midnight when he returned to bed and saw you sitting in silence, sketching on your tablet with an unyielding gaze even as your husband slipped in next to you. His pride told him not to say anything and let you be, but for once, he let his heart win.
“Don’t you wanna sleep? It’s late,” he offered, scooting closer to give you a light kiss on the shoulder. At least, he could sleep well tonight knowing that you would be by his side.
Your hum was barely audible as you moved away.
Unlike for the past week, he surprisingly fell asleep quicker tonight. It didn’t even take him five minutes to fully succumb into his slumber without any nightmare waking him up in the middle of the night with cold sweats and a rapid heartbeat. The thing was, he did wake up but it was because your side of the bed felt empty.
When his eyes shot open at three in the morning, he had to make sure that he hadn’t dreamed about you coming home as he got up from bed and looked for you. You weren’t in the bathroom so where else would you be at this time of the night?
The answer to his question shattered the entirety of his heart because when he made his way out of the bedroom, he ended up seeing you sleeping like an angel on the couch with a blanket draped over your body. Curled in a fetal position, eyebrows creased as if you were having a bad dream.
This was it. This was how he finally opened his eyes to the accumulation of misery that he had put you through.
When he first got into this marriage with you, he remembered ruthlessly asking you to sleep on the couch on your exact first night as a newlywed couple. That version of him wouldn’t have cared now.
But this version of him quickly scooped you into his arms, carrying you out of the couch and tucking you back into your king-sized bed with only as little of a distance that he could give between you two. He was holding you close, so close that you could probably feel his heartbeat vibrating against your back because he wanted nothing but to make you feel the sincerity in his actions and just how regretful he was for everything that he has done.
“I’m sorry,” he just had to whisper it in your ear, kissing your temple when he hugged you tighter. “Y/N, I’m sorry. I know it’s not enough but it’s all I have.”
He felt warm drops of your tears falling on his forearm as you shifted to hide your face away. “M-My heart’s already suffering,” you spoke softly, unaware that the pain in your voice caused goosebumps all over his body, “please don’t make it suffer more.”
“All I-I ever wanted was a h-happy marriage.” Your chest heaved as you silently cried, but Satoru respected that you didn’t want your face to be seen as you shed more tears to release the agony that you’ve been keeping inside. The most he could do was to hold you in his arms and press his lips against the crook of your neck. “J-Just let me go.”
Satoru refused to. Now that he was hearing your downpour of raw emotions, he too was on the suffering end. He too could feel tears forming in his eyes as he listened to your heartache. “I don’t want you to go.”
How could he let you go? How could he let go of the only person that understood his pain? The person that went out of her way to comfort him despite the treatment she had to receive? He was goddamn scared to lose you and he could now see your importance to him. Gojou has done so many fucked up things in life, but seeing you like this was what finally turned things around.
He had to change course. He had to treat you better. And, for his sake and yours, he had to right his wrongs.
Things were too good to be true.
It was what you told yourself when you broke down in your husband’s arms last night until you fell asleep after all the tears that you had to release. For the first time since your marriage, Satoru did not move an inch to release you from his tight embrace. He was almost like a kid clinging to his mother, afraid to ever let her go.
Although, at daybreak you remembered that your life had drastically changed now. Giving into the rollercoaster ride of forgiving Satoru could be your destruction in the end. Just like what your doctor said, avoiding stress could be a lifesaver. Just like what Toji said, being with Satoru was your fatal flaw. Their respective advice was clear and reasonable.
Now it was on you to listen to them.
You have decided that from this day forward, you would only focus on yourself, your health, and your happiness. Not even Satoru would be able to break through your walls because you already learned. You had to be strong. You had to be independent.
Ironically, the tables seem to have turned, because when you were all dressed up at seven in the morning on a Saturday, your husband was the one who hugged you from behind and feathered kisses on your neck.
“Where you goin’?” he asked, voice deep and raspy. He sought for your attention with visible yearning.
You pushed his hand away and grabbed your bag. “Don’t wait on me. I’ll be out for the whole day.”
“Hold on.” Satoru’s electric blue eyes were wide as he held onto your wrist. “I need to ask something.”
After drawing a deep breath, you gave him an apathetic look and didn’t say a word.
He couldn’t veil the curiosity in his visage. “About the ring, Suguru told me he found it,” said he, shooting you a hopeful gaze like he still had every right to bring it up. “Can I have it back?”
The audacity. His request almost earned your scoff, but you decided to keep a straight face because it was better to hold back than to argue knowing that it wasn’t in your nature to act such. “I don't think you need it.”
“Y/N.” You couldn’t believe that he would follow you into the living room like a lost puppy, vying for your attention as if he had been deprived of it for the longest time. Unfortunately for him, showing his sincerity was more than just a bouquet of roses and barely audible apologies. “How do I make it up to you? I’ll do anything.”
You turned on your heel to leave. I’m sorry, Satoru. I have to protect my heart.
“You wanna make it up to me, you will do it for the rest of your life.”
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