Summary: OC (Natalie) receives the phone call she’s dreaded for years.
Notes: This is my entry for Day 6 of Ride or Die Appreciation Week (and a big thank you to @kat-tia801 and @desiree-pow-35-1986 for reminding me). This fic takes place after the events of the chapter 13 of Ride or Die and utilizes an OC I created and used in a couple of other fics, The Dragon and the Phoenix and The Water Dragon.
CW: character death
Natalie set her phone down on the kitchen counter in front of her, adjusting it slightly to straighten it. It finally happened. The call she’d been dreading for nearly six years. She wasn’t sure how she expected to feel when it happened, but it wasn’t this. Natalie was surprised by how calm she felt. There were no tears in her eyes, no sobs choking her throat…nothing. She was aware of how smooth her phone felt beneath her fingers, the slight hum of the fridge, even the gentle whisper of the air conditioning. Natalie thought of how it sounds when the power goes out, the overwhelming quiet that envelops you when even the white noise you take for granted is taken away. The stillness of it all. That’s what Natalie felt. Still.
“I don’t…Natalie, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to say this, but Kaneko–Teppei–he’s dead.”
Natalie replayed Ellie’s words in her head over and over, but they did nothing to shake the heavy stillness that kept her anchored to the bar stool she sat on.
So this is how it ends, Natalie finally thought, her own mind breaking through the loop of Ellie’s words. Teppei is dead, the garage is gone. Ellie doesn’t even know where Colt is right now. Natalie wasn’t sure where he’d go, but she knew he was unlikely to come back here. Natalie looked up, glancing around the kitchen. When they’d bought this house, Teppei had wanted her to put so much of herself in here. He cared more about the cars than the interior design of the house, and he’d said he liked that she’d made it her own.
“I feel like I’m wrapped up in you every time I come home.”
Natalie now found herself studying the choices she’d made, trying to find Teppei in any of the details, but he stayed hidden below the surface, tucked away. She turned her gaze towards the window, staring out at the glittering lights of Los Angeles below. It looked so peaceful from here. You’d never know that the person Natalie loved most had sacrificed himself for his son in a violent explosion, the dragon roaring one last breath of fire.
Eventually, the sky began to turn from black to gray as the sun prepared to crawl over the horizon. It felt wrong, that the sun should rise like it was any other day. And yet it came anyway. Natalie finally stood up from the stool, her muscles stiff from sitting in one place for so long. She left her phone on the counter and slowly made her way to the bedroom, searching for Teppei in the details of the house but not finding him anywhere. Had he planned it like that? Had he known that there might come a time when he wouldn’t return and he wanted to save her from drowning in what was left of him?
In the bedroom, Natalie pulled the curtains shut, keeping the night in a little longer. She sat on the edge of the bed and looked around the room. Her eyes landed on the hamper in the corner and stalled when she saw one of Teppei’s shirts uncharacteristically clinging to the rim. Natalie slid off the bed and crawled toward the hamper, catching the shirt with her fingertips and pulling it out. She studied it for a moment, turning the shirt over in her hands before bringing it to her nose. She inhaled deeply and there he was–the power that had gone out in the house, the gaping emptiness that had left her still.
Finally, the tears came.