**_Silent Devotion_**


No one would know. But if one asked him where he would be if it was his last day on earth, it would be the bookstore. Name all the bookstores in Tokyo, Shizuku Ishi would probably know even those that already closed.

"How long since this has been released...?" Ishi asked himself as his finger tips ran from one manga to another. He had no expression whatsoever, but he was actually upset.

The time Ishi spent just staring at Za-Kan mangas was unbelievably long. So long that even the staff incharged of the Shoujo mangas had to wonder if that specific customer was still alive. The heat this summer was beyond words that maybe, the darkhaired young man at that far corner was suffering from heat stroke.

"Ah...that's a relief..." Yukina Kou breathed in relief. The kid finally moved, grabbing two, three or five copies. To Yukina's confusion, that customer still remained standing there for a whole fifteen minutes before leaving.

Curious, Yukina walked to the Shounen Section of the bookstore and checked what mangas the kid was staring at.

"Za-Kan..." Yukina read as he knitted his brows. "...oh...the manga that was dropped by Marukawa..."

Yukina turned to look at the nearest counter from him and saw the teen with a number of Za-kan mangas in his hands.

"He must be really a big fan...can't be helped..."


One moment, Za-Kan was the most popular thing. The next moment, it had become the lowest selling title.

For Shizuku Ishi, who'd been there from its drafts to completion for release, he couldn't understand what was happening. The story was still polished. The art for him still had the 'old-school' feel yet refined touch. And the mangaka's ability to tell his story through his hands was still unbeatable.

There could be thousands of reasons why the sales dropped below to break-even point. Still, a manga this long-running, a story he almost grew up with, could they really just abandon it at the depths of their storage rooms?

Ishi inserted the key to the small apartment room he was renting and for some reason, he just stood by the door frame, looking at the mangas he bought. Adding the copies he just bought, he already have fourteen copies of the same last-volume release of Za-kan.

"Business is business, huh?"

He went in, dropped the things he bought on his table and slumped on his messy bed. His image was reflected from the picture frame on the wall. A group picture of Za-Kan team. The assistant mangakas were there, some of the sales persons, and at the farthest corner was him and the mangaka looking like a hermit. His looks from that time was totally different now.

Ishi forced himself to sleep, knowing he has to be fully charged for tomorrow. However, he could only stay on his bed unable to forget how Ijuuin just nodded when the bosses' said Za-Kan was done for.

Ishi knew, the irritation, disappointment and frustration he was feeling was nothing in comparison to what Ijuuin Kyo was feeling.


"Could you please take a bath?"

Those were the first words that Ishi blurted after Ijuuin Kyo opened the door to his palace-like apartment.

Ijuuin was still wearing the clothes he was wearing from two days ago. His hair was in a failed-attempt of a low pony-tail and his breath smelled of a million cigarettes.

"Later..." Ijuuin replied, turning away to once more sit at his favorite chair facing a small window.

Ishi walked in, home-cooked meal in his hands.

"Well...you can at least do it for the sake of my nose," Ishi grumbled, trying to prepare the food he brought over but realized there was not even a space where he could place them. To think that he just tidied the place yesterday.

Ijuuin, having his back at Ishi just snickered, lighting his cigarette. Ishi was sure it wasn't the first one.

"Look, so what if Za-kan is no longer in circulation?" Ishi started, pushing the unfinished manuscripts to the side. "You could always try a new title."

The reply Ishi got was just the ring of smoke that floated above Ijuuin's head.

Ishi, reaching the end of his patience stomped before Ijuuin. His brows were creased in disapproval while Ijuuin was just chewing on his cigarette.

"If your fans see you like this, they'd burst into tears."

The other man blew a puff of smoke to Ishi's face. Ijuuin knew just how much the other hated cigarettes. He thought that would make the young man stop butting into his case, but Ishi didn't even bat an eyelash.

"So what? It's you who's just here."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Ishi spat, grabbing the stick of cigarette from Ijuuin's mouth.

It surely shocked the hell out of the mangaka to see the young man who hated smoking, place the stick in his mouth.

Slowly, like Ishi had been doing it for the rest of his life dragged a long one, then exhaled it out of his half-opened mouth, blowing it to Ijuuin's face.

"You show your mature side to everyone. The 'cool' mangaka with the 'cool' smile," Ishi said looking straightly at Ijuuin's eyes. "But you're just a mature man physically with a brain of a croc."

Ijuuin snorted. "You still do realize who's older here correct?"

"Yeah, you're probably too old to cope up," Ishi nodded. "And for the record, I am your editor."

"Stop that..." Ijuuin complained while trying to look for another pack of his cigarettes. Ishi snatched them in time before the mangaka could reach them from his side.

"Sensei...if you're acting the 'cool' sensei every time you walk around in Marukawa, or in front of that starry-eyed fan of yours Takahashi-kun, I'd appreciate it if you'll just show the same to me. It's so bothersome to know that you're okay on the outside but decaying in the inside. Why do I have to be the only one to suffer?"

Ijuuin watched silently as Ishi continued smoking in his flat, with his cigarette. Ishi looked really pissed.

"Brats like you...wouldn't understand."

"What?" Ishi hissed. "I've been assisting with the creation of Za-Kan for a while now. Dare say that, Ijuuin-sensei..."

Ishi stood and moved as if he was about to leave.

"I feel so upset I could blast Marukawa. But unlike some, I use my head and not what's in my chest. You get dumped, you move on. It's you who told me that."

The man from his chair twisted his body a bit to see Ishi snatching all the packets of cigarette he could see at the top of his work table.

"Since when did you start smoking?"

"Just recently," Ishi replied, grabbing his bag. "I'm heading to Marukawa now. Shouldn't you be going too?"

Ijuuin shrugged and stared back at the little open window. "Go on ahead while I nurse this immature heart of mine."

There was a hint of joking in Ijuuin's voice. But Ishi knew a jesting could be half-lie, half-truth. He knew, probably more than anyone else that Ijuuin Kyo was delving into the phase called 'slump' and 'depression' at the same time.

Such an unsightly mangaka would appear every time his deadline was nearing. There was even this instance that Ijuuin was so pessimistic there was no saving him. But just with a single cheer from an energetic 'Takahashi Misaki' whom he met by accident, Ijuuin was able to pull himself back together. Ishi wondered what was so different from when it was him who was trying to cheer the mangaka on.

"Ijuuin, Za-kan is a great story, but it should sell. You know you have to understand the company too right? Get back with a new story or something. Stop getting depressed over a simple thing as this. It happens to everyone."

"I know," Ijuuin replied, not looking.

Ishi sighed, wanting to grab the back of Ijuuin's head and slam the mangaka against the wall to pull Ijuuin back to his senses

"Ijuuin, I haven't given up on putting Za-kan back to circulation. That's the truth. Please...grab a pen and start doing something."

"Ah...Isaka-san and the rest would just brush you off Ishi."

There was silence, a deafening one before Ishi's tapping of his fingers on the work table. "It's my job to face them. Your job is to continue doing what you should. God, how pathetic can you get? Do you have some split personality?"

"Thanks."

Ishi closed the door to Ijuuin's work room and headed to the genkan. The cigarette still stuck in his mouth, he started tying his shoe laces with clumsy fingers.

"Shit..." the teen had to redo his laces. He was so annoyed at Ijuuin. But more than that, he was annoyed at himself, so much that he could die.

All that Ishi wanted was to cheer stupid Ijuuin. But he couldn't phrase his words and probably sounded too harsh. He knew himself 'moving on' wasn't that easy. However, it would be worse if Ijuuin kept on sinking and sinking. It might be too late to pull Ijuuin back to the surface.

"You moron...you act so cool and composed except during deadlines and problems like these...you're such a handful..."

He went out of Ijuuin's apartment building, feeling the blazing heat against his cheeks. He had finally accepted that 'Shizuku Ishi' wasn't made for cheering people on. He had to turn to 'Takahashi Misaki'.

And just as Ishi was thinking about Misaki, the kid fell down from the heavens and suddenly, they found themselves in the lobby of Marukawa Publishing, heading to the elevator. Since the brunette was working part-time for their company Ishi knew he'd see him there at some point.

"Hi."

The teen who was just a little shorter than Ishi flinched. Ishi rarely talked more than necessary so Misaki wondered what was this about. Of course he was worried about Za-Kan and its mangaka. Usami Akihiko even knew how much he bawled after hearing about the whole situation of the manga. But having the 'aloof' editor of his beloved manga, Shizuku Ishi, greet him first made Misaki feel uneasy.

"Shizuku-san...good morning..."

Ishi just nodded, not saying anything. Misaki was about to break into cold sweat because Ishi's silence. Misaki sighed in relief though, when Ishi started the conversation.

"You must already have heard about Za-kan, right?" Ishi still asked though Za-Kan's downfall has been two months already.

The taller of them suddenly halted and faced Takahashi. Ishi's narrow eyes always gave Misaki the feel that Ishi was hard to deal with and it made him break into sweat. Misaki could also feel that Ishi could 'see through' people. He didn't have any proof, but with serious, uncaring eyes like those, it was impossible to know what Ishi could be thinking and seeing.

"Yeah...I'm sorry..."

"You don't have to apologize...it's not like it's your fault."

"Uhm...yeah I know...but..." Misaki looked down, then breathing deeply, gathered more guts. "How is Ijuuin-sensei doing? I haven't seen him for a long time..."

"He'd be jumping like stupid seeing you worried like this..." Ishi whispered.

"Huh?"

Ishi waived a hand. They talked some more. Ishi asking Misaki of some things.

After the short conversation, Misaki stepped out of the elevator first pondering what just happened.

Misaki even felt more curious when for the first time ever, before the elevator doors closed, he saw Shizuku Ishi smile at him after saying his thanks.

Misaki felt like his breath had been stuck in his throat when Ishi smiled. There was just really something when people who seldom smile flashes those small gestures. It felt so precious, and heartwarming it makes a deep impression.


The rest of the day, Ishi remained walking with his head still held up high. No one opened their mouths on the floor, but he knew better. Also, if he couldn't handle this, how on Earth would he assure the authors he was handling that everything will be fine?

"Once I'm done checking three story boards...I'll have to take care of that huge baby holing himself in his room..." Ishi thought, flipping page after page of the first story board he had in his hands. Ishi had to look up from what he was doing and found some heads that just turned away. He blew air out of his mouth upwards, his bangs flying to the side of his face. Ishi hated being stared at.

Anyway, people wouldn't come to him directly because a lot find him too strict to mingle with, too serious to have fun with, and a little perfectionist. And people who'd have more than enough liquor in their systems would name him devil, stone-hearted Ishi, or villain. So far he's okay with that.

"Excuse me, Shizuku-san?"

Looking up, a man who delivers mail to them was what Ishi saw, smiling brightly at him.

"Oh...Takeshi-san..."

The man bowed happily and placed an big, open box on the floor. Ishi looked at the contents shortly and inwardly smiled.

"They're coming almost every day ne?" the man in dark-blue riding suit commented. "Please hang in there! I'm a fan too so I hope to see Za-Kan back on its feet again!"

Ishi just nodded. The man who delivered the box didn't feel offended. He could anyway see that Ishi's face lit up from the crampled state it was in just a while ago.


"Here, your fan mails."

Completely opposite of the humid night outside, Ishi's voice was so uncaring it was chilly as he dropped the huge box that got delivered to him earlier at Ijuuin's feet.

The box was full of letters in different colorful envelopes. There were small hand-made Za-kan charms inside, scented papers, records among other stuff.

Looking at it, Ijuuin darted his eyes back at Ishi who started scanning the mangaka's work table if the man had been able to even make a doodle. Like Ishi expected, there was none.

"Read at least one even if you're feeling lazy," Ishi ordered without looking at his author. He leaned checking the sketchpads on Ijuuin's cluttered side-long table by the wall. "You have to see that there are still fans waiting for you, you know."

Ijuuin, looking more and more like a cave man sat on the floor and started looking into the mails one by one. He had a blank look, having a disinterested face. Ishi on the side was still checking on the sketchpads was really just observing Ijuuin from the corners of his eyes.

"Why don't you try showing that childish-unkept face to everyone? It's such a waste that it's only me who get to see it this time."

The older man in the living room shrugged and continued rummaging into the box without any purpose.

Ishi walked to where Ijuuin was making a mess of the letters and joined the man.

"Here, let's see..." Ishi started, reading a line from a letter with so many hearts it was dizzying. "Ijuuin-sensei...you're still the best. We'll be waiting for Za-Kan. Fight on!"

The editor took another one and read it aloud. "Sensei, you can't just stop it like that. Think about us who love you!"

Both men, hearing and seeing those words, they couldn't help but wonder why Za-Kan fell out of surveys and sales. Did parents suddenly cut off their children's allowances or something?

Shizuku Ishi swallowed the bile he could taste in his mouth. Reading those fan mails in his trying-hard cheery voice was making him sick to his stomach. Plus, Ijuuin seemed to still be drifting into his own pessimistic world. Ishi was definitely convinced that the man has some personality and attitude problems. Or perhaps...

Ishi frowned the moment he saw a familiar name from one of the cards.

Slowly he took the yellow card with a neat hand writing at the back. "Look Ijuuin, it's from someone we know, Takahashi Misaki? Eh...I wonder what he wrote...?"

Before Ishi could even open the card, it was snatched away by Ijuuin right away. The man's dark eyes went from right to left hurriedly and smiled. Not a big smile though, but at least Ijuuin smiled.

"What did your number one fan say? You're grinning like stupid."

"Nothing..." Ijuuin replied, closing the card.

At two in the morning, when Ijuuin was finally sleeping properly on his bed and not on his chair, Ishi walked over to the work table of the man. There was just a one page, messy draft of a possible 'next Za-kan' issue. Just a page was a already a big deal to Ishi that he cleared his throat when he found himself starting to smile alone.

Though he was tired, had to check other stuff and still has to go home, Ishi still silently tidied the table first. In the process, he saw again the yellow card beside the pencil holder. He took it and looked at the name.

"Really...if it's coming from you...Ijuuin could do wonders..."

He put it back to where he got it, thinking what was so different with his 'there are fans waiting for you' and Misaki's 'I'm still waiting for the next Za-kan issue sensei!'

"I'm a fan too you know," Ishi whispered, turning off the lights.


Takahashi Misaki was probably really worried about Ijuuin Kyo and Za-Kan that his fan mails arrive though not regularly, still reaches Ijuuin's hands twice or thrice a week. Though the process was painstakingly slow, Ijuuin started drawing. Like a dying furnace to which a fuel was thrown, Ijuuin was trying to put into paper the edge that he probably lost over the course of being always the 'best-seller', 'best mangaka' among the other bests he got.

Ijuuin knitted his brows feeling a bead of sweat run from his forehead to his nose. He lifted his face from his drawings and looked around him. It's been so long since he last saw his assistants' faces. More so Ishi's hawk-like eyes as he eyed the finished pages before him made Ijuuin feel like they could do it better this time.

Hitting the bottom did open his eyes to a lot of things.

"Oww..." Ijuuin muttered, looking to the roll of newspaper in Ishi's hand. "What was that for?"

"You're drifting in your perverted world, sensei."

It earned a couple of laughter from the assistants who were eagerly lining and doing the backgrounds.

Ijuuin ruffled the back of his head and looked at Ishi.

"We're almost done here, what do you think?"

Ishi raised a brow. "My job comes next."


The third day of the week, Ishi had gathered the people from the board, sales and the other editors, particularly the previous editor of Ijuuin, Kirishima Zen. It was a so-called 'meeting' for deciding whether Za-Kan would be again an investment Marukawa could gamble on.

The funding for promotion, freebies, and appearances would cost a huge lot. And though it was an official meeting, there was another term for it; Ishi begging the higher ups to give Za-Kan a second chance.

It wasn't even him just doing it because he was the manga's editor. He was doing it out of sheer want too.

Ishi stood at the stairs of the fire exit. When the meeting finally was over, he felt his knees would buckle up. Not wanting anyone to see him so tired, he just sat slowly, buried his face on his knees and took a nap.

"Oh...Ijuuin-san! Good afternoon!"

People in the lobby busy running with their errands still found time to greet Ijuuin Kyo. After all, Ijuuin hasn't showed his face for a very long while. Everyone was just glad that the mangaka came looking fine.

"Hi..." Ijuuin would nod.

"I heard the meeting for Za-Kan's comeback is done. I hope it ended well for you guys!" one of the ladies waiting for the elevator chirped. "Ishi-san's been working so hard."

Ijuuin ran his hand through his hair when from the corners of his eyes, he noticed a familiar form walking towards the lounge at that floor.

Instead of riding the elevator, Ijuuin made huge steps, running after his purpose.

"Takahashi-kun, you seem pretty busy."

Misaki who at the time was asked to bring coffee for a group of mangakas crazy about finishing 16-colored pages, looked to his side. It made Ijuuin laugh when Misaki looked like he just saw a ghost.

"I-Ijuuin-san!" Misaki blurted looking the man from head to foot. "You're back now? You're fine?!"

"I'm still in one piece...yup," Ijuuin replied, walking along side Misaki. "It's all thanks to you."

The two reached a vendo machine and Misaki started inserting his coins. Ijuuin stood beside the machine, looking at Misaki with appreciation.

"Really, you're always the one saving me whenever I sink, just like the last time. Makes me fall for you even more."

Misaki smiled uneasily as he listened to the sound of coffee being poured into the second cup. Then, as if Misaki felt something odd, he blinked at the man still looking at him attentively.

"As a fan, I haven't done anything much, Ijuuin-sensei."

"What are you saying? Your cards cheering me on, your words of encouragement brought me back to my senses."

The teen knitted his brows. "Cards? I'm sorry but...I don't remember sending any cards sensei. I did intend to but I've been busy..."

Ijuuin left his place and stepped closer to Misaki leaning. "What are you saying? There were yellow cards...arriving..."

As much as Ijuuin wanted to press the issue more, Misaki's wide and confused look in his eyes confirmed that it wasn't him sending those yellow cards.

"Look Ijuuin, it's from someone we know, Takahashi Misaki? Eh...I wonder what he wrote...?"

The darkhaired man left Misaki looking dumbfounded. Misaki didn't fail to hear though that hissing word that came from Ijuuin's mouth.

"Ishi..."


Since early that morning, nothing has been swimming inside his stomach but coffee and tea. Tired, and sleepy, Ishi finally left his spot in the fire exit area and looked for something decent to chew on. As he was walking, he had his eyes at his side, feeling his pocket for money.

When Ishi saw a pair of black leather shoes before him, he wasn't surprised that when he looked up, he saw Ijuuin Kyo looking at him with a strange anger in his eyes.

"You finally decided on coming then. That's good," Ishi looked at his wrist watch back at Ijuuin. "Want to grab something to eat?"

"Come with me."

The face Ijuuin was making was dead serious. When he walked away, Ishi just ignored his screaming stomach and followed the man. With those eyes, Ishi knew Ijuuin already found out.

Entering into an empty conference room, the two of them stood across each other, a long oval table separating them.

"Those yellow cards..." Ijuuin started, dragging on every syllable. "...it was you sending them?"

Ishi heaved a sigh. "Yeah."

The man slammed a fist on the table so strong it made the table even rattle a little. But Ishi just remained looking at Ijuuin so cool and composed like he wasn't even feeling a little sorry.

"You pretended to be 'Takahashi Misaki'? You did it on purpose? Was it fun?" Ijuuin threw one after another. "Was it fun making a fool out of me huh Ishi? Of all people it was you I least expected to do something like lying!"

Ishi scratched his chin lightly. "Why are you making so big of a deal out of it? You're able to come back with awesome ideas and your art style has greatly improved because of 'Takahashi Misaki's words. Everyone happy."

Laughing exasperatedly, Ijuuin dashed to where his editor was standing. "Happy? I feel terrible. How could you do that to me? I know you have a knack at reading people, so what you know I like Takahashi, you use that for your benefits?"

It seemed like Ishi had forgotten to blink. Ijuuin could see his own angry expression at the eyes staring at him. It made him step back a little.

"Are you done getting angry?"Ishi asked. "Please excuse me."

Ijuuin moved swiftly, blocking the door.

"Ijuuin," Ishi tiredly mumbled. "We're not going to settle anything when you're this angry."

"Yeah, I am really angry right now," Ijuuin hissed at Ishi's face. "Tell me, why did you do it?"

After looking at Ijuuin's face, Ishi looked down, finally giving in.

"To cheer you. To tell you that Za-Kan hasn't ended yet."

The man turned to his side and back facing Ishi. He just didn't know what to do or where to go, he might do something out of control.

"Am I supposed to be touched by that Ishi? Come on...You could have told me that on your own. Why make a fool of me?"

"Ijuuin. I've cheered you on and assured you a million times," Ishi answered softly. "But my voice wasn't that special to get through to you."

The editor pushed Ijuuin slowly out of the way and pulled the door open.

"I'm sorry Ijuuin. I let Za-kan fall. I couldn't make you feel that everything's fine. I couldn't make you push your limit. I'm sorry that I have to use someone's name to get my words to you," Ishi walked out. "I'm a fail of an editor in many ways."

Ijuuin was lost for words.


"Knock, knock..." an annoying voice came.

Ijuuin looked up from his chair and scowled the moment he saw his previous editor, Kirishima Zen enter.

The conference room was silent save for Ijuuin's tapping of his foot against the floor. Clearly enjoying it, Kirishima sat at the edge of the table, loosening his tie.

"You shouldn't be making your editor cry like that."

Halting, Ijuuin eyed Kirishima seriously. "Ishi's crying?" he asked incredulously.

Kirishima laughed. "I'm just kidding. That stone would never cry, I can't imagine him doing so."

"..."

"Anyway..." Kirishima looked at the ceiling pretending on chewing a gum. "Congratulations. Za-Kan will be back on regular circulation starting next month. Your editor spent four hours pacing around this very room earlier pointing Za-Kan's flaws and strenghts in market."

From the corners of his eyes, Ijuuin noticed Kirishima rolling the sleeves of his white shirt to his elbows. The man was complaining why it felt so stuffed when the airconditioning was already on full blast.

"I knew it would pay off to have Ishi as your editor," Kirishima mumbled, still rolling his sleeves. "No matter how handful the person he handles, he wouldn't let go of them. So give him a proper thanks for saving your ass."

"I'm tired. Don't lecture me."

Kirishima paused but just grinned and continued his tale. "I wouldn't say he's a guy of few words. More like, he's a guy that can't use the right words. And since he can read through people, he uses those things to pull someone in the dumps up, even if he ends up being the bad guy."

Ijuuin knitted his brows. He was getting annoyed that he had to go through the same thoughts twice. All that Kirishima was saying, he had already thought about when he calmed down.

Finally deciding to leave, Kirishima turned to Ijuuin while dragging the door close with his hand. "By the way, I was lying earlier. Ishi bumped to me because he was busy rubbing his eyes."

Whistling, Kirishima then said his last words, purposely leaving it hanging on air.

"His silent devotion to someone who doesn't see him is amazing, isn't it Ijuuin-sensei?"

Ijuuin could only hold back himself before he was so near kicking the other chairs inside that conference room. It wasn't like he hadn't noticed his editor's way of just quitely looking at him. It wasn't like he couldn't feel the ever so slight gestures of Ishi bringing him food, scolding him for being messy. And it wasn't like he didn't know that Ishi didn't have any bad intentions for using Misaki's name.

He both liked Ishi and Misaki, but to different extents. Ishi was his editor and special friend. Misaki was something more profound and deep. That was why, even though Ijuuin knew Ishi had feelings for him, he didn't want to delve into the topic. Because he knew he wouldn't be able to give a good answer to Ishi.

Ijuuin cursed under his breath.


"Hi."

Ishi turned away leaving the door to his apartment open for Ijuuin to pass.

"Your eyes are puffy and red," Ijuuin commented as he closed the door.

The editor was in his pyjamas and it was obvious that he was sleeping until just now. Pillow marks were visible on Ishi's cheek and the editor's messy head was a sight, specially that he was always prim and neat at Marukawa.

"Did you eat already?"

Ishi slighly turned his head to look at what Ijuuin was holding.

"I've got Salmon Temaki and Soysauce icecream for desert."

"That is your peace offering? You're really cheap."

Both ate in their own pace, with the only difference of Ijuuin doing the serving. They ate, chewed, drank tea and when the desert was the one left to finish, Ijuuin gave even his share to Ishi.

"I'm sorry for yelling at you Ishi."

"It's already over. You sure you don't want this? There's no returning it."

Ijuuin smiled a little shaking his head. He watched Ishi scoop his icecream one after another. His eyes a little brighter.

"Sorry, I snapped about the yellow cards. I just felt deceived, but thinking I should've realized it already. Your writing makes up for your poor ability at drawing. And Misaki had a bit of a messy one."

"Are you really sure you're apologizing right now?" Ishi put his icecream cup down and drew a deep breath. "Anyway...I was in the wrong too. So we should stop this cycle of apologizing and move on."

The editor shifted on his seat. "Maybe Marukawa should be announced as gay and bi-friendly company."

Ijuuin almost fell from his seat. He just couldn't tell whether Ishi was just making a sick joke.

"Where the hell did that come from?"

Narrowing his eyes, Ishi pointed his spoon at Ijuuin. "There are a number of couples I notice already. Want to know who they are? Including you of course..."

The other man grew stiff. Ishi seeing it, he just shrugged.

"I'm sorry Ishi."

"What for?"

"For acting the way I do."

Ishi ate a spoonful of his soy sauce icecream. "Do you really like Takahashi-kun that much?"

"Ishi..." Ijuuin was about to leave his chair, thinking of reaching out to Ishi. But Ishi made him stop.

"I understand," Ishi replied, looking down, the spoon in his mouth clearly trembling. "Just don't ever yell at me like that again okay?"

The man sat on his chair once more, for some reason, feeling so disturbed.

"Then let's continue being editor and friends."

Ishi said those words brightly. So bright that Ijuuin probably have felt the same way Misaki did when Ishi smiled at him.

More cheery than usual, Ishi let the other cup of icecream slide back to Ijuuin.

"Eat that. My treat."

Ijuuin frowned. "It's practically me who brought it."

"Just eat it."

When the two were already almost done, Ijuuin had to dart at the silent Ishi watching him eat.

"W-what?"

"Ijuuin, if I disappear one day, you'll finally realize you're crazy about me. I wouldn't let you find me though. That will be a sweet revenge, don't you think?"

The mangaka ended up having the icecream melt in his mouth. He wouldn't deny it. Despite the summer heat, he felt a chill.

That summer night conversation ended up with them treating each other as like they've always been. Ijuuin still tried to push himself to Misaki's life, juggling work. Ishi did the same routine of looking after Ijuuin without being too obvious.

In the coming months, Ijuuin would surely realize one thing. But probably might be too late;

That people keep on looking up or somewhere for angels when they already have ones right beside them.

end


notes:

*used a fave icecream flavor despite the cold.

*this one shot idea was brought upon by a comment() that there are not so many IjuuinXIshi fanfics. Ishi is a character that still has a lot to be explored about in the real manga. but the little glimpses of him there made me think he's not the cutesy, pushy, and weak type (if i were a seme, i'd like my uke to be like this, strong and not a cry baby, seriously)

*thanks for the support and please don't catch a cold and don't get sick. (i think im dying. every year this happens to me like a cycle. every beginning of the year! whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!)

*also, i don't know how publishing company works and im sure they operate a little different from one another. i made up my own, which is kind of fun^^

-shuusetsu