Summary: OC (Natalie) has some reservations about Teppei’s plans to steal the supercars for the Brotherhood.
Notes: This fic is in response to the @choicesflashfics prompt “I don’t know if I want to know the answer, but what are you doing?” It takes place in Ride or Die chapter six and utilizes an OC, Natalie. For more Teppei x Natalie content, please check out The Dragon and the Phoenix, The Water Dragon, and Power Outage. Thanks for reading!
Natalie lay on the floor of the office she shared at the garage with Teppei, her legs propped up on the wall. She closed her eyes, her red hair fanned out like a halo around her head as she took deep breaths, counting silently. In, two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Out, two, three, four. Ordinarily she would never have even considered lying on the floor here but seeing as her boyfriend’s blood was still under her fingernails, she made an exception.
The door opened clumsily, knob rattling loudly, and Natalie heard the slow, dragging gait of someone unaccustomed to using a cane. The door closed and Natalie kept her eyes closed as she listened to Teppei drag himself to his chair and sit down heavily.
“I don’t know if I want to know the answer, but what are you doing?” he asked.
“Yoga,” she replied, eyes still closed.
“Since when do you do yoga?”
“I read somewhere this was supposed to be a stress-relieving pose.”
“What do you have to be stressed about? Other than the fact that you’re lying on a garage floor, I can’t vouch for the cleanliness.”
“That’s not funny.”
“Everything is fine.”
Natalie opened her eyes and lowered her legs, rolling to one side before pushing herself up to a sitting position. She turned to look at him in his desk chair and were it not for the unusual paleness of his skin, he could have fooled her into thinking he was telling the truth.
“Everything is fine?” Natalie said. “Let’s review: you met with the Brotherhood who broke your leg and caused you to lose a ton of blood. The crew and I just had to patch you up here and attempt to set your fucking leg because you refuse to go to a hospital. Then this you’re getting ready to steal a bunch of cars using Ellie as a driver? Are you kidding me right now?”
“Why not have me do it?” Natalie asked.
“I don’t want you anywhere near this.”
“Well too bad, I’m already in this,” Natalie said. “You and I have been together for six years, you think I’m not in this?”
“It’s bad enough Colt is doing this, I don’t want both people I love involved.”
Natalie studied him. “No, that’s not it. There’s something else.” Teppei met her gaze without flinching, the dragon strong beneath the surface. “Oh my god. You want Ellie to do this.”
“I hadn’t planned on it, but the opportunity seems somewhat fortuitous.”
“Because if she does it, you have even more leverage against her father.”
Teppei said nothing, but he didn’t have to; Natalie knew she was right.
“You’ve lost control of the situation,” Natalie said as she walked to her own desk chair and sat down heavily, turning to face him.
“No, I haven’t.”
“Your leg is broken and you bled all over the break room and now you’re letting someone who got their license thirty seconds ago help you steal a supercar. Forgive me for being skeptical.”
“Natalie, I’m out of options,” Teppei said quietly but evenly. She glanced at the closed office door, wondering if Toby had his ear pressed against it. “The Brotherhood has me cornered and I have to do this job. This time they came after me, the next time will be you or Colt. That, they promised me. Letting Ellie drive on this job gives me some leverage against the cops so that I can at least partially neutralize one threat.”
“And what if she can’t do the job?”
“I don’t have the luxury of considering that option right now,” Teppei said. He tried to readjust his position in his chair and grimaced. “You know, it’s too bad you’re an accountant instead of a nurse.”
Natalie stood up and retrieved one of the folding chairs from the opposite side of his desk and brought it to him before gently helping him place his injured leg on it. She turned to go back to her own desk when she felt him catch her hand with his.
“Please don’t be mad at me,” he said. “I know you’re not happy about this, but I can fix it.”
“I want to believe you,” Natalie said as she turned to look at him. “But it’s hard when your blood is staining my clothes.”
Teppei traced the errant smear of red on her pant leg with the fingertips of his free hand. “I’ll take care of this.”
“I can do my own laundry.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
They were silent for a few moments as Natalie traced her thumb over Teppei’s knuckles. “You keep promising that things are going to be okay and that you’ll take care of it, but I don’t know if you can promise that this time.”
“I’m promising it anyway,” Teppei said, bringing her palm to his lips and giving it a gentle kiss.
“What can I do to help you?” she asked.
“You already do so much for me,” he said. “Just be there when I get home tonight.”
“I always am. I can never sleep when you have a job.”
Natalie had the vague sense that time was running out for Teppei, but she couldn’t place why or how long he had left. If he sensed the same, he didn’t show it. Natalie wanted to tell him not to go through with this job, to find another way to handle the Brotherhood, but she didn’t have any ideas and, like he’d said, Teppei was out of options. So instead she leaned down and kissed him gently while a small voice in the back of her head wondered how many more times she’d get to do this before he was gone.