Don't Panic

Washington, D.C.

a part of Don't Panic, by Simple_Imperfections.

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Setting

Default Location for Don't Panic

Minimap

Washington, D.C. is a part of Don't Panic.

2 Characters Here

Kairo Choi [41]
Ethan Alexander [41] "I am not overreacting."

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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γ€Œ Kairo Choi ✧ 26 ✧ Location: Dance Studio ✧ Hex: #400E15 」
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"You don't need someone to complete you, you only need someone to accept you."

A part of Kai thought maybe Ethan would push him away, ask him to leave or just leave him alone. And honestly, he wouldn’t blame him if he did, after all it had been Kairo’s fiancΓ© that caused all this mess, and in some way it had been Kairo’s fault too for letting her get away with him. The therapist watched Ethan for a moment, trying to guess what he would do. After a beat of silence, the boy stood up. Kai immediately followed suit. His thought that Ethan was agreeing to go with him was confirmed when the boy spoke, placing his trust in Kai. The therapist smiled softly, the fact that Ethan trusted him now to this degree brought an odd feeling to his stomach. A good odd feeling, but still odd.

Deciding not to waste anymore time, Kairo took hold on Ethan’s hand, giving him a soft nod before guiding him along. They quickly crossed the street, Kai looking back every chance he could to make sure Ethan was doing okay. He kept a firm hold of his hand as some form of reassurance. Finally, they made it to Kali’s car. The man unlocked the doors, opening the passenger seat for Ethan to get in before walking to the other side and sliding into the driver’s seat. Once the doors were closed and the outside noise had been silenced, Kai looked over at Ethan, every bit of concern still on his face. He wanted to apologize, to tell Ethan that it was okay and that he would never let something like that happen again, but this wasn’t the time nor the place.

After placing a comforting hand on Ethan’s, Kairo started his car and immediately drove out of the school’s parking lot. He thought about taking Ethan to his apartment, but there was a chance that Lucy would find them there. He also thought of taking him to his own home but that would make it hard for Kai to look after him as he wouldn’t know how to move around. The only place left was his little studio apartment. It was set on the outskirts of the city. Very quiet and calm. A place Kairo used when he needed to rest or a getaway from everything and everyone. A place not even Lucy nor his parents knew existed, almost like a safe haven. That’s exactly what Ethan needed right now.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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There was a few moments between them that resembled a silent understanding. It was almost like they had come to the same realization: this level of trust was beyond the typical therapist-patient relationship. Ethan wasn't exactly sure what that meant for Kairo, but for him it was going to be a new experience. He doesn't trust easily and he doesn't make new friends. The only people he talks too, that he isn't also paying, is his parents and one of his colleagues. Other than that, he spends a lot of time alone with his thoughts. But after spending time with the music therapist and now being this vulnerable with him was completely overwhelming. Though he wasn't given time to think about it. Kai was moving quickly. Before he knew it, he was being moved through the crowded streets.

What about Lucy? Where are we going to go? She will know! Those thoughts just plagued his mind as he continued to following his therapist. Some part of him knew that this was a bad idea. Running away together. It felt wrong. His thoughts didn't refrain from telling him that this might have been wrong. But he couldn't stop his feet. He couldn't stop himself from getting into the passenger seat and putting on his seatbelt. Ethan placed his hands in his lap and attempted to take deep breaths. Don't do this! You don't know where you are going. Lucy will find you. HIS FINACÉ WILL FIND YOU! So loud. His thoughts were so loud.

Clark didn't hesitate to turn on the radio with a shaky hand. He flipped through several stations before he landed on a pop station. He didn't care for the specific song that was playing, which happens to be God is Woman by Ariana Grande, he just needed it to be loud enough to drown out the thoughts in his head. "Wh-where are we going?" He questioned, not hiding his worry.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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γ€Œ Kairo Choi ✧ 26 ✧ Location: Dance Studio ✧ Hex: #400E15 」
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"You don't need someone to complete you, you only need someone to accept you."

As he drove, Kairo could only think of one thing. Why was he doing this? Why was he going through so much trouble, just so Ethan could feel better? Yes, he was his therapist and, in a way, making him feel better was his job. However, that normally didn’t include running away with the patient and taking them somewhere as personal as his private studio. Maybe it was guilt, and Kairo did feel guilty because he was part of the problem, but that didn’t explain the pain in his heart that he felt when he looked at Ethan. There was only so much a therapist was supposed to do, and this wasn’t part of it. ”Wh-where are we going?” Somewhere along the ride, Ethan had turned on the radio, probably in hopes of focusing on something other than his thoughts. Kai kept his eyes mostly on the road, though he’d steal a couple of glances here and there to make sure the boy was okay. ”Somewhere safe.” he answered simply, hoping Ethan trusted him enough to know Kairo wouldn’t take him anywhere he wouldn’t want to be.

The drive lasted about fifteen minutes until finally Kairo’s car pulled into a small apartment complex parking lot. The place itself radiated peace, surrounded by various gardens, shaded by large green trees and built right next to a small pond. The building itself was painted white with red accents on the windows and doors, and there were very few cars in the parking lot. Kairo had loved this place from the moment he saw it, and decided to keep its existence a secret from everyone in case he ever needed a place to escape to. ”We’re here.” he said, putting his car into Park. He took a moment to look at Ethan, wondering what he was thinking, and decided to take a shot and calming some of the worries he most likely had. ”This is where my personal studio is.” he began to explain, pointing over at one of the windows closest to the pond. ”I come here whenever I need a break from everything…nobody knows it exists, not even my parents or my fiancé…” his words trailed off, not wanting to bring up Lucy at the moment but finding it necessary to let Ethan know that she would not be coming here to bother him. With that, he stepped out of the driver’s seat and made his way over to Ethan’s door, opening it up but not making any gestures to bring him out. ”You can stay here as long as you need to…or, if you’d rather not I can take you home.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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”Somewhere safe.” Ethan was torn at the moment. Part of him was more anxious being in the car with therapist headed in this unknown direction. Every horror movie he had ever watched flashed before his eyes. This is how people ended up killed. They were with a stranger headed to some strange place where no one could find them. If this were any other situation, Ethan would have forced Kairo to pull over and he would have walked home. But it was Kairo. That was why the other part of him was glad to be alone with this man. He radiated safety and comfort, both of which Ethan needed at this exact moment. So he just nodded and looked ahead. He shut his eyes tight and just listened to the songs that played on the radio for the remainder of the ride.

After several minutes, the car came to a stop. Ethan opened his eyes and glanced around through the windows. They were in a parking lot connected to an apartment complex. He has never been on this side of town before so we wasn't exactly sure where they were. Is that his apartment? Does he share it with his fiancΓ©? DOES SHE KNOW THEY ARE HERE? His worry must have been on his face because Kairo took a seocnd to explain the location. ”I come here whenever I need a break from everything…nobody knows it exists, not even my parents or my fiancé…” Kairo's secret hideout. It was nice that he had a place where he could escape to, but then again why is he escaping from the people that are supposed to be supporting him. I have no room to talk..." Ethan is always escaping and hiding. It's the only thing he can do and control. There is comfort knowing that when he locks his front door, he is away from the crazy world.

Clark tracked Kai as he walked around the car and opened up the door. Home? No. No. Not home. Going home wasn't safe. It wouldn't fix anything. Not in a way that Marissa would approve of. "N-no. I-I need to stay with y-you." Supervision was mandatory during states like this. The scars on his upper arms were still healing after the last time he was like this. Slowly he made his way out of the car, arms wrapped around himself. "Lead the way.."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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γ€Œ Kairo Choi ✧ 26 ✧ Location: Dance Studio ✧ Hex: #400E15 」
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"You don't need someone to complete you, you only need someone to accept you."

Kairo knew taking Ethan home and leaving him alone was not a good idea in any form or shape, but he also didn't want Ethan to feel as if he was obligated to stay here. The last thing he wanted was to force Ethan to do anything under such stressful situations. He watched as the boy nervously stepped out of the car and let him respond before beginning to walk towards his apartment. He kept a watchful eye on him, glancing over his shoulder every chance he got to make sure he was still following. Eventually, they made it to Kairo's door, which was opened with a swift turn of the key to reveal a small yet cozy space with a small kitchen, bathroom, living room and even a bed for the nights Kairo worked late and had to spend the night. He let Ethan step inside before shutting the door and turning on the lights.

The room was quickly illuminated as Kairo turned on his heels to face Ethan. A slight frown took over Kairo's lips, his eyes falling to the ground before moving back up. Half of him wanted to engulf Ethan in a tight hug, as a way of reassuring him that Kai was here for anything he needed. But he also knew Ethan was only just getting used to physical contact from strangers. Granted, Kairo wasn't a stranger at this point, but he still wasn't sure if Ethan considered him a friend. There was a few seconds of hesitation before Kairo decided to take a leap of faith. He moved a single step forward, wrapping both arms around the younger boy and gently resting his chin on top of the other's head. He embrace was warm and comforting, but light enough to allow Ethan to break free in case he began to feel uncomfortable. "I'm sorry..." he finally spoke, letting out a short breath. "I'm sorry you had to deal with that..." there wasn't much he could do now, what was done was done, but he felt the need to apologize endlessly because he knew Lucy never would.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Ethan trailed behind Kairo silently. He kept his arms around himself as they walked. He really wished that he had his headphones. He doesn't particularly enjoy walking around the streets without music. It blocks out his thoughts and he also doesn't have to hear the whispers of people around him. For the most part people don't whisper about him, but his brain has a twisted way of making it seem like everyone around him is out to get him. Headphones and loud music counteracts those thoughts. But he didn't have that at the moment. Ethan's silence was just him trying to focus on just following Kairo. Luckily, it didn't take very long before they were in the studio. Slowly, he made his way inside and glanced around once the lights were turned on. The door locked behind him and Ethan tensed up. He was in a new place and now he was kind of trapped here. Deep breath..deep breath. Kairo is not trying to kill you.

His home was extremely cozy despite how small. He could understand why this was a safe haven for him. It gave a feeling of warmth and Ethan had only been in here for several seconds. What he really wanted to know was why Kai even needed this safe haven. But it wasn't his place to ask. For a moment, the two of them just stood before each other in silence. Clark didn't know what to say or what to do. It was like the first time he had met his therapist. He stood there in his spot, not making any moves to get comfortable. Seconds later, Kai made the first move. Ethan was engulfed in a hug before he could even protest. His body still tense during the beginning of this hug. "I'm sorry..." Sorry? He was sorry for the panic attack that Ethan had. "N-n-no. Don't apologize. Y-you didn't do anything. It w-wasn't your fault." Ethan wrapped his arms around his therapist's waist.

Why am I hugging him? He has a fiancΓ©? Why do I like the hug? Let him go! He eventually pulled from the hug, taking a safe step backwards. He needed a safe distance from this man. At least at the moment. "C-Can I have some water...please?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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γ€Œ Kairo Choi ✧ 26 ✧ Location: Dance Studio ✧ Hex: #400E15 」
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"You don't need someone to complete you, you only need someone to accept you."

Just before Kairo decided to end the hug, Ethan returned it. It was an unexpected way for him to respond, but still very welcomed. As small as it may seem, it showed that Ethan not only trusted him a bit more, but he also wasn't upset with him because of what happened. Which he reinforced with his words. Kairo knew it wasn't entirely his fault, but hw also felt a bit responsible for it. On the off chance that his apology made Ethan feel just a tiny bit better, he decided to give it a shot.

The hug ended quickly, which was fine by Kai. He hadn't expected much from the boy in the first place. "C-Can I have some water...please?" the man nodded with a slight smile as he stepped toward his kitchen. "Of course." On his way over, he picked up the tv remote and turned it on. It was a bit too quiet inside the apartment and Kairo knew at this point that Ethan did not like that. The device was switched on and immediately Kairo navigated towards his music apps. These days it's really the only thing he used the TV for. He never had time to sit and watch it, and when he did he was always too exhausted to and ended up falling asleep. Once navigated to Pandora, he let the stations play on shuffle, not looking for any specific artist or song but only making sure Ethan had something to listen to. "You can have a seat, lay down...whatever you need. Make yourself at home here." he added as he set the remote down.

The current song's soft melody slowly took over the small apartment, making even Kairo himself feel more relaxed. He opened up the small refrigerator, taking out a bottle of water for Ethan and two bottle of sweet tea. Ever since he started seeing Ethan, he'd been drinking tea more than anything else, to the point where it's almost all he drank now. Of course he still needed his daily shot of espresso every morning. He walked back to the living room and sat all three bottles on the coffee table. "Are you hungry?" he asked, remember how they didn't exactly get to enjoy their snacks back at the dance studio. But now that Kairo was here, he could make Ethan a proper meal if he wanted it. Whatever it took to make him comfortable.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Ethan remained awakwardly standing by the door, wrapping his arms around himself once more. He could feel that he was still tense, though now it was mostly due to the unfamiliar surrounding and his questioning feelings regarding his therapist. The TV came on and music started to fill the area. It was soothing and soft. It helped calmed his nerves even more. After a moment, he decided that standing around wasn't going to make the situation better. Slowly, he shuffled over to the couch and sat down. He kept to one side and attempted to settle more into the couch. Clark closed his eyes and let the music take over him as he slowly took some deep breathes. You are safe here. You are safe here. You are safe here. You are safe here... The tension began to leave his body as he repeated the mantra in his mind. "Are you hungry?" Ethan opened his eyes to see the drinks in front of him on the coffee table. He reached for the water bottle and opened it. "Yes, but I'm not very picky about food. So whatever you have is good." He said, looking at Kai and giving him a small smile. Ethan sipped the water and then set the bottle back onto the coffee table.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Kairo Choi
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Location ✧ His studio apartment
Outfit ✧ Here
Dialogue ✧ 400E15
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As he went about his things, Kairo couldn't help but watch Ethan. Had he done the right thing by bringing him here? His body language said he was tense, but that could just as easily be due to what had happened back at the dance studio with Lucy. He returned the soft smile Ethan gave him and watched him for a moment before allowing himself to focus on something else. Food. Did he even have anything that could be made into a meal? Given that this studio was a place where Kai came when he was overwhelmed or overly stressed, more often than not he was not in the mood to eat while he was here, let alone cook.

He headed back towards the fridge, hoping with every ounce of strength that there was something there, otherwise he'd either leave Ethan without a meal or have to go grocery shopping which implied leaving Ethan alone. Neither option was going to cut it. But the moment he opened his freezer his worries vanished. Smiling back at him was a pack of Bulgogi Beef, one of his most favorite things to make. He let out a sigh of relief as he reached for the meet, setting it inside the sink and letting the hot tap water run over it.

He wasn't a five-star chef by any means, but he could certainly manage to make this beef along with some sweet potatoes noddles he'd spotted merely seconds after. After setting the meat to marinate for a few minutes, Kairo walked himself back to the couch, making himself comfortable beside Ethan. There was a beat of silence before the therapist turned to the boy beside him, his eyes covered with both concern and guilt. "Are you...feeling any better?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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{ethan 'clark' alexander}

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The thoughts were beginning to quiet down. Music from Pandora cycled through his head and he focused on the melody. He put emphasis on each word in the lyrics as they ran through his brain. The more he focused on the music, the more he calmed down. Clark was finding that he was easily relaxing around his therapist. He should afraid of this feeling. Of his environment Of this new situation. But instead he felt safe. It was the safest he had felt in a long while. The dark thoughts continued to be pushed away by the music that was playing. He was so in tune to the music that he hadn't even felt Kai sit next to him. "Are you...feeling any better?" The sudden question forced Clark out of his trance. "Hmm?" He looked over to the therapist, concern and guilt still written all over him. The question finally processed in his mind and he nodded in response. "Oh. Yes. I am, thank you." He attempted to give him a soft smile in order to reassure him that the answer was sincere. He reached for the bottle of water and took another sip of it. "Umm t-thank you for opening your home to me." This wasn't typical therapist behavior and it deserved a thank you. It deserved more than a thank you, but that was all he had at the moment. 'You are overstepping. Leave his house.' The thoughts were returning and his body tensed once more. 'He isn't your friend. This isn't kindness. He probably told Marissa about your freak out.' Without hesitation, Clark grabbed the remote and turned up the volume on the music.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Kairo Choi
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Location ✧ Kairo's is studio apartment
Outfit ✧ Here
Dialogue ✧ 400E15
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For a moment, Kairo almost wished he hadn't said anything. Ethan looked so peacefully entranced by the melody coming from the television that the therapist felt guilty for interrupting that. Still, he was thankful for the answer he received. He could tell it wasn't a lie. Ethan was noticeably less jumpy than he had been when they first arrived. It was a relief. Kairo knew well enough that bringing him here was going far beyond what a therapist was expected to do, but there was no part of him that would have been okay with leaving Ethan alone after what happened.

"Oh, no need to thank me." he smiled at the sound of Ethan's gratitude. A part of Kai's mind expected this to go south very quickly, but he was glad it didn't. At least not for the time being. "That's what friends are for, anyway." he made sure to add the last sentence in to assure Ethan that they weren't there as a therapist and his patient. They weren't at the studio, or anywhere that required him to be Ethan's therapist. They were at Kairo's special hideout. Right now, Ethan wasn't his patient. He was his friend, someone Kairo cared about more than what he'd be willing to admit.

The raising of the volume didn't go unnoticed, but Kairo didn't comment on it. Instead of bringing attention to what had brought them there, he focused on what they would do now. "Hey, have you ever played poker? I can teach you how while we wait for the food." If Kai was being honest, this too was outside his expertise. He had never grown so attached to a patient to the point where he wanted to forget the therapy sessions and just...be. No agenda, no ulterior motive, just the two of them...keeping one another company.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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{ethan 'clark' alexander}

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"That's what friends are for, anyway." Friends? That word bounced around in Ethan’s head. He doesn’t remember the last time he has made a friend. His colleagues at work are relatively friendly and make conversation, but he would hardly call them friends. Clark also gets really nervous about talking to people and attempting to make new friends. His thoughts usually discourage him and then he just avoids people. There are always his parents, but spending time with them usually means they start digging into his life and he doesn’t like going there with his parents. They just start trying to fix things and it usually ends in a fight followed with a panic attack. But Kairo wanted to be his friend. Even after seeing him have a panic attack in the middle of the street. He couldn’t help the smile that formed on his face, but he didn’t address it in fear that Kai would take it back.

There must have been a mutual agreement about not discussing the obvious boundary they are crossing because his therapist didn’t mention anything else about it either. Instead, he brought up poker. Clark has never played, but he was willing to learn. He was really willing to do anything if it kept his thoughts away. ”I have never played, but um sure you can teach me.” He stated with a smile. ”Hopefully, I am not a terrible student?” He added in jokingly.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Kairo Choi
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Location ✧ Kairo's is studio apartment
Outfit ✧ Here
Dialogue ✧ 400E15
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Kairo was relieved that Ethan didn't feel uncomfortable by what he said. In fact, he seemed to wlecome it. There was a line being crossed, that much was clear to the both of them, but as far as Kai was concerned they weren't doing anything they shouldn't be. Just friends playing poker. Nothing more, nothing less. "It's easy! You'll get the hang of it quickly." he assured the young boy, heading over to one of the drawers underneath the television and pulling out a small deck of cards. Kairo had never been the biggest fan of card games himself, but if it meant keeping Ethan busy and his mind occupied then he'd do it.

He took a seat on the couch, turning his body to face Ethan as he let the cards slip out on the space left between them. "My dad was always obsessed with poker, so he taught me when i was really young." he confessed as his fingers shuffle through the cards. His eyes would every so often shift upwards to look at Ethan as he handed out each player's hand. If he was being honest, he wasn't so much focused on the game, but rather the way Ethan's eyes lit up each time he was going to be taught something new. It had been the same when Kairo first offered to teach him the guitar. "These are yours>" he stated, pointing to the small handful of cards in front of Ethan's leg. He picked up his own hand, giving Ethan time to look through his cards/ "I promise to go easy on you." he added with a playful smirk, hoping it would help in easing the boy's nerves.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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{ethan 'clark' alexander}

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Ethan watched Kai’s movements carefully. The therapist always seemed like he got a burst of energy when he wants to teach something. It was almost like saying β€˜yes’ was a jumpstart to Kai’s energy reserved. Ethan didn’t mind. He actually enjoyed learning new things. The more he learned, the more stuff he could think about that did not involve his anxiety. At the moment, learning poker with his new friend was much better than the alternative. "My dad was always obsessed with poker, so he taught me when i was really young. His father taught him poker. Introducing him to the world of gambling early. That thought made him laugh a bit. ”I wasn’t taught any card games. I was taught how to eat a 5 course meal, properly.” Down to which napkin was used in which way. His parents always attended a lot of important dinners and, before his mental illness became debilitating, he attended them all. He picked up the cars the Kairo said were his and he stared at them, placing them in order from smallest to the largest. He had no idea what he was doing. "I promise to go easy on you." The smirk on his face, made his heart soar and he tried to fight the redness that flooded to his face. ”Umm wh-what do I do?” He asked, glancing back and forth between his cards and his therapist.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Kairo Choi
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Location ✧ Kairo's is studio apartment
Outfit ✧ Here
Dialogue ✧ 400E15
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Kairo didn’t miss the slight blush on Ethan’s face but chose to not bring it up, for both their sake. Instead, he focused on teaching the boy the tips and tricks of a pro poker player. Not that he’d ever need something like this in real life, but learning how to play the game was complex enough to keep his mind occupied, yet simple enough for him to learn quickly. He leaned forward every now and then to look at Ethan’s cards during the teaching process. For moments at a time, their faces were merely inches apart and Kai would be lying if he said he didn’t feel anything. Things he wasn’t supposed to feel for someone that wasn’t his fiancΓ©. Things that, when it truly came down to it, he didn’t even feel towards Lucy. There was a sudden stab of guilt as he realized this, because despite all her tantrums, she truly did care for him. It didn’t last long, however, as it was quickly swallowed up by the excitement of watching Ethan slowly get a feel for the rules of the game. ”that’s it.” he said, a subtle excitement shining through his words. ”I knew you’d get the hang of it.” the soft smile lingered on his face for a moment as their eyes met, but before the feelings from earlier could resurface, Kairo leaned back against the couch’s armrest, creating a safe distance between them just as he had before. ”So? Do you think you’re ready to play?” He hoped the game would now keep both Ethan and himself focused on something other than the obvious line they had crossed from the moment Kairo decided to bring him here.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Be Gentle With Me
{ethan 'clark' alexander}

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{dialogue : #FFAC33 | thoughts: grey }
Don't Break Me
Ethan focused immediately focused on the cards in his hand and at the lessons Kai was trying to give. It was easy to ignore his thoughts when Kairo was speaking to him. His words were smooth like velvet and always captured his attention. In fact the only hard part about this lesson was actually paying attention to it. At certain points, Clark was just letting Kai speak and point out different tricks. It was only when Kai would ask β€˜if he understood’ that he would realize that he had zoned out. Eventually, Ethan was finally getting a hang of the game. The cards and their placements began to make sense. He was actually pretty proud of himself for learning something so complicated in such little time. He was no master, but he was sure that he could at least win one round against Kai. ”I knew you’d get the hang of it.” Ethan smile and the two boys locked eyes on one another. He is so close to him. Ethan could feel his warmth and he wanted to reach out to hold onto it. His smile was so bright and his eyes so deep. He wanted to get lost into his music therapist and wrap himself in the safety that he gives off. This feeling was one that he has never felt and knew that he was never supposed too. ’Move away from him! He is married! How dare you think about him in this way?! If he finds out he will throw you out of his house and never want to see you again! It will be all your faul-’ ”So? Do you think you’re ready to play?” Ethan released the breath he did not notice he was holding when Kai put the safe distance between them. He nodded in response. ”Y-yeah. Just go e-easy on me.” He said, with a sheepish grin. He was for sure going to lose the first round.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Kairo Choi
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Location ✧ Kairo's studio apartment
Outfit ✧ Here
Dialogue ✧ 400E15
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Kairo took a mental note of Ethan's subtle body language. He appeared to be much calmer, and to a bypasser maybe he'd look completely relaxed. But it was the smallest details that led Kai to think Ethan was still a bit nervous around him. He realized his being close to him was maybe not the smartest move, so he kept reminding himself to keep a good distance. The last thing he wanted was to make Ethan uncomfortable when he was supposed to be making him feel better. "You have my word" he said with a soft chuckle as he took his cards into his hands.

If there were any advantages to being a therapist when out in the real world, it was how easy one could put on a poker face without breaking. Kairo's deep browns reached up to Ethan every few seconds to watch his movements. There was an instance when the therapist could clearly see every card Ethan was holding, however instead of letting it show, he kept his word and let Ethan get a few steps ahead of me. "Hmm, maybe I shouldn't have taught you. You're catching on a little too quickly." he teased, but still made sure to play well enough to not make it too obvious that rather than winning, he just wanted to see the boy smile.

After winning the first round, almost accidentally, Kairo took the cards to shuffle. His gaze met Ethan's for amoment, his thoughts lost in a trance of "what ifs". What if he wasn't engaged? What if Ethan wasn't his patient? What if...he unintentially was beginning to develop feelings for the boy that were much more than a casual friendship. He didn't let his thoughts dwell for too long, only long enough to know that he shouldn't be thinking them in the first place. "How bout it? One more?" he asked, right brow lifted in curiousity. It's true, poker had always been something he enjoyed playing. But more than the game, Kairo wanted to do everything he possibly could to keep Ethan here for just a little while longer.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Be Gentle With Me
{ethan 'clark' alexander}

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{dialogue : #FFAC33 | thoughts: grey }
Don't Break Me
Ethan’s focus was now devoted to playing this game. Now that he learned how to play, he wanted to be good at it. Especially if it is something that he is able to do with Kairo during their times together. He wasn’t very good at his poker face and he was truly hoping that this therapist did not notice. He tried his best to hide the cards, but at one point he fumbled them. And he spent way too much time trying to work out the possibilities in his head. When he thought he had a good hand it was all over his face. Ethan was so in his own head that he had completely forgotten to pay attention to Kai and attempt to call his bluff at certain points. "Hmm, maybe I shouldn't have taught you. You're catching on a little too quickly." That excited Ethan. He must have been winning at one point, but he couldn’t really tell. Ethan lost this first round, but he assumed that it was a close game.

He kept his eyes on Kairo as the cards were shuffled. He was wondering what he had done in a past life to end up in this situation. To end up needing therapy. To end up meeting Kario. To end up in his apartment which that Kai was not betrothed to him. Ethan wanted more than a friendship, but they weren’t even supposed to be as close as they were. "How bout it? One more?" ”Y-yes..” Anything to stay here just a little longer. It was the first time in a long time that his thoughts weren’t so loud. ”Don’t forget the food you were making?” He said, remembering that Kario was supposed to be making them both something to eat.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Kairo Choi
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Location ✧ Kairo's studio apartment
Outfit ✧ Here
Dialogue ✧ 400E15
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Kairo knew better than to prolong what he already shouldn’t have done. He knew better than to let himself get attached to Ethan. He knew better yet he continued to do it because something about the way Ethan stared at his cards in utter confusion was very endearing. Something about the way he stuttered just a little when he was nervous made Kairo smile in affection. Kia was supposed to be the therapist, but spending time with Ethan eased his mind, There was no part of him that wanted to keep the distance he knew should be kept.

”Should be ready in a few minutes.” he said in response to Ethan’s comment about the food. His hands took the deck of cards and began to shuffle, but his eyes were elsewhere. His gaze followed Ethan’s movements to ensure his comfort, at least that’s what the therapist continued to tell himself. Once the cards were handed out again, the game began. This time Kairo didn’t bother to pretend to lose. Firstly, because it would be too obvious and Ethan was smart enough to catch on. Secondly, because his mind was occupied with thoughts he shouldn’t have been thinking.

In the end, Kairo won again though this time by pure coincidence. He certainly hadn’t been paying enough attention to the game that if Ethan had just a bit more experience under his belt he would have won. ”I’m sorry I guess practice does make perfect, though you had me worried for a second there.” Kairo chuckled softly as he collected the cards. There was a moment of silence between the two and the therapist swore he felt his heart skip a beat, but he quickly moved past it and got to his feet. ”Okay, food should be ready now. Let’s dig in!” He moved from the couch to the small kitchen, signaling for Ethan to follow, and hoped the food would take his mind off of things it wasn’t supposed to be on.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Be Gentle With Me
{ethan 'clark' alexander}

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{dialogue : #FFAC33 | thoughts: grey }
Don't Break Me

Ethan’s eyes were locked on Kairo’s hands. The cards were collected for a second game and he tried to focus on the shuffling. He was forcing himself to think about the second game of poker and the strategy he was going to use to try and win, but he was failing. β€˜You want him. You can’t have him. He is only being nice. He doesn’t want you. Why are you still here?’ Ethan took the cards in his hand and looked at them, reorganizing them in his hand though he doesn’t know why he did it. Most people just organize their cards so he figured that would help. The game started and Ethan really did try his hardest to win. His poker face was better than the first time, but he was still giving away his hand in his facial expressions. The sheer confusion on his face was enough to know that he wasn’t even aware of what it was he was even looking at. Kai easily beat him and Ethan set his cards down, smiling a bit. ”I will practice more. Next time I will win.” β€˜Next time? There will not be a next time.’

Ethan needed a drink. Something strong to keep his thoughts from screaming at him as they are. He wanted his earbuds. He wanted to blast the music and scramble his brain. He would sleep if he thought sleeping would save him. For a moment, the two of them just sat there across from one another. It was the slowest few seconds of his life. His heart has never beat so fast in such little time. Kairo mentioned food being ready. Another thing to help keep his thoughts off his therapist. Ethan stood up off the couch and he couldn’t help himself from glancing at the front door. β€˜She is coming. She knows. She is coming and she knows. SHE IS COMING AND SHE KNOWS!’ Ethan tensed up again and he shuffled towards where Kairo gestured. ”Th-thank y-you..” He didn’t bother to try and make eye contact. He was just waiting to get his plate so he could eat the food.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Kairo Choi
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Location ✧ Kairo's studio apartment
Outfit ✧ Here
Dialogue ✧ 400E15
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Kairo had done everything he could possibly think of to make it up to Ethan. To make up for what his fiance had done. But it was obvious that despite his attempts at easing the situation, Ethan was still anxious. It was to be expected. Kairo silently cursed to himself for ever allowing Lucy to visit him whenever she wanted. She should have been stopped at the door just like everyone else that showed up without an appointment, but Kairo never imagined her capable of causing such a scene.

"It's alright" the therapist spoke with careful consideration of what he was going to say next. He hadn't missed the way Ethan continued to look at the door. "Nobody knows this studio exists." he assured him, mostly so he'd know there was no way Lucy would find them there. The only one that knew he was the owner of said studio was the landlord, Phil. A gentle old man who had never been a fan of Lucy in the first place. Phil and Kairo quickly developed a friendship, and the former agreed to keep the location of this apartment a secret from anyone that may know Kairo.

"My landlord is the best." Kai added as he pilled the noodles onto Ethan's plate. "I told him I need a place where I could just hide away from the world. A place where no one could bother me, so-" he made a quick gesturing signaling to the small apartment. "I was given this, and he promised not to tell anyone about it. Not even Lucy..." Maybe it made no sense to Ethan. Why would he fell the need to hide something like this from his own fiance? But Kairo had his strong reasons and after the earlier display, those reasons were only further validated. "Oh, that reminds me." after making sure Ethan's plate was equiped with all the freshly cooked food, Kai slid it over to him along with some silverware before pulling out his cell phone.

He quickly dialed the studio's number in hopes that someone would pick up. There were a few things that needed to be done before he could peacefully enjoy his dinner. Finally, after several rings, a voice was heard on the other end. "Hello, Emma? It's Kai. Is Lucy still at the studio?" he asked as he put the phone on speaker and proceeded to serve himself a plate. There was a subtle shuffling before the receptionist answered. "No sir, she said she was heading home." Relief washed over Kairo, glad that she had decided to drop the subject. At least for the time being. "Perfect. Cancel the rest of my appointments for the day. Oh, and from now on, if Lucy shows up without a warning or a clear from me, she's not allowed inside. Do you understand?" there was a short silence on the other end, Kairo could only imagine the look of confusion on Emma's face, but she eventually responded with a "Yes sir." before the call was ended.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Be Gentle With Me
{ethan 'clark' alexander}

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{dialogue : #FFAC33 | thoughts: grey }
Don't Break Me

"Nobody knows this studio exists." Ethan must not have done a good job keeping his anxiety hidden. He didn’t think that the therapist would notice his muscles tensing up or that he was avoiding contact. He figured his behavior would be dismissed, but it wasn’t. Ethan should have known better than to think that Kairo was going to let him get away with being riddled with anxiety. His reassurance regarding the privacy of this studio let him know that. He is lying. This thought he ignored. Ethan wanted to believe that he was safe here with Kairo. If not here, then where? The studio was no longer a safe zone. Not with his particularly angry wife storming through as if the place belonged to her and just writing Ethan off as if he didn’t exist. It would be better if you didn’t... All the progress he made to make that dance studio a safe studio, ripped away within two minutes. Ethan didn’t want to go back. He couldn’t go back. His music therapist went on to explain that this place was hidden away from everyone. Including his fiance. But he was still tense. It didn’t make him feel better. It should have made him feel better. But it got him thinking. What was Kairo running away from? Why was he running? He seemed to have everything together. Ethan couldn’t bring himself to ask and just took hold of his plate.

The food smelled delicious and for a moment it actually distracted him from his thoughts regarding this entire situation and his lack of a sanctuary. Just as he was about to compliment the chef, he was on the phone. Ethan didn’t want to eavesdrop, but the therapist was on speaker. Confusion was clear on the boy’s face. Wasn’t work supposed to be private? But Kai carried on with the conversation. Making a point to check to make sure Lucy was a) no where near the studio and b) not allowed back at the studio without permission. His own fiance was banned from the studio. Not even Ethan’s thoughts had a comment for what had just happened. But this didn’t make him feel better. It should have. Why wasn’t it? He is lying. Ethan couldn’t ignore the thought afterall. ”Y-you had other appointments?” He deliberately decided to ignore the part regarding his fiance. Just the thought of her was making his heart race in a terrible way. Suddenly, reality began settling in. Kairo is a music therapist. Not just for Ethan, but for other people. His panic attack forced the male to abandon his job. ”I-I’m so s-sorry, Kai. I shouldn’t have come here. You are supposed to be working. Other people need you and I just took you away. I am so selfish.” You are going to destroy his marriage. You are going to get him fired. Being you is ruining his life.” His hands were trembling and he set the plate down. ”I-I should go..I-I.. He could feel himself choking up. His heart was racing, muscles tense, and his mind was racing faster than his mouth could keep up with. He couldn’t have another panic attack. One was bad enough, but two? And in front of Kairo. It was too much, but he couldn’t stop it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Kairo Choi
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Location ✧ Kairo's studio apartment
Outfit ✧ Here
Dialogue ✧ 400E15
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Kairo wasn't certain of what response he'd get from his sharing important matters with Eithan, such as work-related conversations. He wanted to show the boy there was nothing Kai would hide from him. He wanted to be as transparent as possible in hopes of getting Ethan to ease up, at least while it was just the two of them. But his plan backfired. Ethan instantly became worried about Kairo's canceled appointments. The words began to spew from his mouth at an alarming rate. Kairo could already tell his body was beginning to shake.

The scene looked all too familiar. The therapist quickly dropped his plate of food on the counter and rushed over to Ethan. His hands quickly cupped his face, just as he had done outside the dance studio, so that Ethan had no choice but to look at him and only him. "Hey, hey hey! Ethan, look at me-" he could feel the boy's body trembling underneath his touch but he didn't let go, instead, he opted to speak as coming and as soothing as he could. "Just breathe with me for a second, okay? Take a deep breath..." he instructed, not letting up until Ethan complied. He wasn't going to allow the boy to have two panic attacks in one day, not if he could help it. He continued to breathe along with Ethan, just breathe until his hands could feel the difference in tension.

"Listen to me. I brought you here, remember?" he spoke with carefully calculated words, not wanting to do or say anything that would make the situation worse. "You're here because I want you to be here." after a moment, Kai's hands slowly released Ethan's face, but he made sure to keep eye contact if only for a little longer. "I don't care about my other appointments right now, okay...I just care about you." the last words came out unexpectedly, but they weren't a lie. There was nothing that mattered more to Kairo in that moment than making Ethan feel...human again. Before the boy could respond, Kairo's arms slowly slid around him. He carefully tucked Ethan's head under his chin, rubbing calming circles on his back with his palm. "You're safe here...I promise you."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Be Gentle With Me
{ethan 'clark' alexander}

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{dialogue : #FFAC33 | thoughts: grey }
Don't Break Me
Ethan’s heart was pounding so loudly in his ears. He swore it was going to burst out of his chest and he was going to die in that instant. The air around him was suddenly thicker and he was working even harder to breathe. And it was hot. The clothes on his body was suffocating him and sticking to him. The walls were closing in and the lights were getting brighter. And he couldn’t escape anywhere. He was trembling, but he was frozen in place. He could no longer hear his thoughts as they were being blocked out by the rapid heartbeat. "Hey, hey hey! Ethan, look at me-" Kairo’s words cut through the fog and he was forced to look at him. It was all he could see. Clark was being told to breath, but forgot how. The music therapist started breathing in and out and Ethan couldn’t help but follow him.

In. He inhaled through his nose. Out. He exhaled through his mouth. He could breathe again. The air wasn’t as thick and harsh to his lungs. The feelings of the air filling his lungs was therapeutic in itself, but his heart was still pounding against his chest. He wanted to ask Kai if he could hear it. He wanted to ask to be taken to a hospital. He was going to die despite remembering how to breathe. But he couldn’t find words. They were lost in his mind somewhere and couldn’t find their way out of his mouth. "Listen to me. I brought you here, remember?" Does he remember? He remembers Lucy. He remembers not being able to think straight as he ran out of the room. And then he remembers remaining on the side of the building, accepting that he was going to die there. And he knows Kairo had come to get him, but he can’t remember the words. He just knows that being alone wasn’t an option.

"You're here because I want you to be here." Kairo wants Ethan here. He wanted him to come to his secluded studio with him. He wanted to be in his presence. His heart rate was slowing down and he was stuck on the man’s words. They were ringing through his head as he finally released his face. Ethan didn’t take his eyes off his for a second. He cares. Was all he could think about, not even realizing that he was being brought into a hug. The trembling had stopped and Ethan focused on the sound of Kairo’s heartbeat instead of his own. It was slow. Rhythmic. Soothing. He closed his eyes and muttered ”lub dub..lub dub...lub dub..” in sync with what he was hearing. His own heart beat finally slowed down to match the slower speed. Ethan could feel his muscles relaxing and he then wrapped his arms around Kairo, holding him tightly.

Never has a person made him feel so safe. Everything from his smile, calm words, and rhythmic heartbeat made Ethan not want to leave this studio. He wanted to remain in his paradise for just a little bit longer. Reality could wait a little longer. ”T-thank… you..” Those were the only words he could manage to say. And he meant them from the bottom of his heart.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ethan Alexander Character Portrait: Kairo Choi

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Kairo Choi
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Location ✧ Kairo's studio apartment
Outfit ✧ Here
Dialogue ✧ 400E15
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Kairo was so afraid of Ethan having another panic attack. Two attacks within such a short time wasn't good for either of them. He threw everything he had into calming the boy down, but the hug was unscripted. Out of all the techniques, therapists were taught to calm their patients down, this was certainly not an approved one. Physical connections with the patients should always be kept to a minimum, according to the instructors. Not to even mention emotional connections, which Kairo was certain he'd also unintentionally developed. But maybe they were wrong. Maybe physical and emotional connections worked better for people like Ethan. Or maybe Kairo simply needed to find whatever excuse he could to justify what he was feeling.

There was a moment of mild regret as his arms were wrapped around Ethan when he worried whether he’d gone too far, but Ethan’s response told him otherwise. He felt the younger boy’s arms wrap around him, and instantly a weight was lifted from his shoulders. He smiled softly as he listened to Ethan’s rhythmic chanting in tune with his heartbeat. There was a couple of silent beats during which Kairo focused solely on holding him tightly as well as making sure his breathing had evened out. Eventually, he received a soft thank you. Kai knew this was possibly his cue to let go, but he didn’t want to. He rested his cheek against Ethan’s head, his dark eyes almost closing. ”You’re welcome…” Kairo’s voice was softer than ever, like silk to the touch. There was no part of him that wanted to let go of Ethan, but common sense said there were only so many lines he could cross before it had become too many. Reluctantly, he released the hug, though he kept his hands gently placed on Ethan’s cheeks.

”I promise nothing bad can happen to you here.” he repeated. He could only imagine the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that ran through the young boy’s head, but Kairo was determined to quiet them all. Slowly, he let Ethan’s face go before nodding over to the food. ”Whataya say we finish dinner, then I’ll find you some comfortable clothes to change into.” he suggested, not entirely realizing he’d all but asked Ethan to spend the night. Rational Kairo chalked it up to him needing to make sure Ethan was okay before sending him home, but the irrational side of him called his lie. Rather than making sure the boy was okay, he’d much rather spend the rest of the night and even the following morning with Ethan than to go back to Lucy.