A/N: Yes, the title is meant to be super corny. Do you get it? Like, they both draw...and You/Yuu /SHOT
After enduring yet another disappointing interview, it was only natural for anyone to begin feeling distraught when their needs weren't met. Job seeking has been taking up a full schedule lately, and although all the offers were appreciated, there was no way that a talented chief assistant with years of experience under his belt would settle for some mediocre, bottom shelf series that didn't guarantee a long-run. A popular hit that assured stability would be ideal—like the last series he was a part of.
Yuu Yanase, former chief assistant for Chiaki Yoshino, (or more famously known under his pen name: Chiharu Yoshikawa) sighed to himself as he turned his mind away from the stress that came with job searching and walked into Marimo Books, fully intending to occupy his restless mind with a steady dose of manga.
It was a shame he had to leave his old jobs behind, ones he thoroughly enjoyed. In need of a break from work in general, Yuu set in his notices and dropped all the authors he was working for, (including the smaller publications) as well as his main position as Chiaki Yoshino's main assistant.
Dropping all the past projects wasn't much of a headache; he's a freelance artist after all, so no position he ever filled was ever promised to be kept permanent to begin with. Working under Chiaki was the closest thing to a steady job he held due to the success of the manga's he worked on. But it couldn't be helped now. Starting fresh was the best path to follow at this point.
It wasn't like he had much choice anyway, there was no way he could see himself working side-by-side with the man who broke his heart, along with that no-good editor of his that managed to steal him away before Yuu had a fighting chance.
Catching sight of the new issue of Monthly Japun, he snatched it up off the shelf. A dim smile that had been introuvable appeared, but just as fast it came it faded again, for he was reminded of his unrequited love after seeing ZA KAN stealing the cover of the magazine.
This particular series was probably a lot of peoples favorite; it was one of the highest ranking hits that came from Marukawa Shoten. Even so, the only fan he immediately thought of was him: his best friend and coworker, and also the love of his life.
Flipping through the pages, he sensed that the busy mangaka had yet to read this chapter. Usually Yuu would run into his condo and drop off the new issue as a present for the hard worker so he could get his mind off his own projects for a while. Chiaki would rarely ever pick up an issue himself to catch up with the latest chapter of his favorite manga, so it was the least he could do.
The guy never really got much free time away from his studio. Quite the hermit, you can call him, and also a few watts short of a lightbulb, that was for sure.
But even so, Yuu still loved him unconditionally.
Deciding to purchase the magazine, he was greeted by the same friendly cashier that always rung him up. For someone like Yuu who had been in such a dark, gloomy mood after having his heart pulled out and stomped on with what felt like a spiky heal, the cashiers sparkling nature was a bit too blinding for him.
It made him a little jealous how there were people in this world who could be so happy-go-lucky and carefree. Perhaps they aren't always like that, though. Sometimes, the happiest people are the ones with the most worries and secrets bottled up deep inside. After all, it's easier to smile than to explain a frown. This was something Yuu taught himself over the years. He slapped on a smile in an attempt to never cause any worry for Chiaki. The guy had enough on his plate with his busy career, he didn't need the added worry of wondering if something was wrong with his friend.
But maybe that's where he went wrong...
Since junior high, Yuu pasted on a friendly smile to Chiaki; someone who never promised to return the love he secretly had for him, but he never let his worries tear him away from trying to make the guy happy.
Always, he'd make it clear he'd be there for him, when really, it was Yuu that desperately needed Chiaki to be there for him. Not in a needy way, by any means. The mangaka didn't even know how to take care of himself, so he never intended on relying on him for domestic or even mental support.
In other words, he needed him to need him more. For once, he wanted to be the one Chiaki called up when he was stuck in a bind, and not just for work-related issues. Or even being asked to cook his meals and clean his home after a rough deadline would have been appreciated.
He needed him to need him. But in return, Chiaki didn't need him at all. Hatori was the one who filled the spot in the end.
Chiaki once told him that he'd never be able to live without him—which Yuu naively believed, but he was so genuinely happy to hear that. So happy to feel needed by the one he loved.
In what turned out to be an ugly ending, Hatori was actually the one he couldn't live without. If Chiaki meant what he said, why now did he have no problem with going on without him present in his life anymore?
For starters, how was he able to throw Yuu's feelings away so easily? Given that the guy didn't put up much of a fight when Yuu announced he was resigning, he figured what he said about needing him in his life was nothing more than a lie.
I just wasn't good enough.
Desperately trying to keep his mouth tight to seal his quivering lips until he finished making his purchase, he threw his money on the counter and dashed out of the shop, leaving baffled reactions behind.
Clear from the public eye, he rammed his back against the brick of the alley's wall in order to keep up his weary posture.
Quite the philosopher, always making light of the toughest situations: that's how people referred to Yuu Yanase. How admirable it was that he could himself together in the most stressful times, and was still able to paste on a smile and light up the room bright enough for all to bask in. That's how people saw him. If only they seen him now.
When exactly did that part of him disappear—and how many more times will he have to cry like this?
Did Chiaki steal that side away from him? Maybe being rejected was the final straw. Or worse, was the reason for Yuu's optimism in the first place because there was a faint, lingering hope that someday, Chiaki would be his? Was that the only thing keeping his happiness grounded? If so, with Chiaki absent from his life, did that mean he'd be miserable...forever?
He threaded his fingers between his bangs as he held his throbbing head. Regardless of each either was the case, that side of him had gone missing, and Yuu had no idea where to start looking for it, or if he even had the energy to search.
Would he really ever feel as happy as he did before, but this time without Chiaki being number one in his heart?
Eventually, he knew he'd have to get over it for the sake of his own sanity and professional life. Besides, there was no way Chiaki would ever change his mind and choose him, so holding onto those feelings was useless.
He knew that, and yet the mere thought of letting go of these precious feelings was harder than having them crushed in the first place.
Hatori. That was Chikai's number one now. Not Yuu. It never was Yuu, and never will be. That was a fact he acknowledged, but had yet to accept.
If he can someday learn to be happy for their happiness, then maybe he can accept to move on, but he could never imagine that happening in the near future. It was much too soon, and his heart had yet to drain of ache. It would take time to heal, for it took many years to build up.
Never did he have to search for his number one, because he always knew where to find him. But now that Yuu didn't get that title returned to him, would anyone ever be able to fill that spot in his heart? Would he ever again find his true number one?
Shaking it off, he regained the strength lost in his legs and trekked back home.
It was odd, being all alone like this. Chiaki wasn't just his crush, but a dear friend since a teenager. With him erased from the picture, Yuu discovered he really wasn't close to anyone else. He never had a reason to pursue other relationships; he already had someone he got along with well, so he didn't see the point in finding other companions. But now, he had no one.
The lonely echo made by setting down the keys to the apartment reminded him of this. As he removed his jacket, he remembered he lived alone and didn't have the pleasure of calling up Chiaki anymore to see how his day went.
He was home a lot lately, now that he was currently unemployed. His days (and nights, depending on how close the deadline) used to be spent with Chiaki. When they weren't working, it was nice to pay him a visit anytime he felt like it, or stay over after work and burn some stress by chatting about ZA KANwhen a new issue was released. Having someone who shared your interest in professional and personal affairs was a wonderful thing, and something he grew secretly attached to. Now that those simple pleasures were taken from him, he felt lost and didn't know where to go from here.
The realizations that came to mind as he walked down the genkan made him fully grasp just how lonely he truly was without him, and how lonely he might always be from now on.
Moving past the answering machine, not caring of the confirmations of interview dates or job offers, he sat himself down on the couch and boredly flipped through the magazine he bought.
When he explored the panels that held in memorable characters, careful inking and precise toning to form a story, it made him start to really miss work. Art made up a big part of who Yuu was, and even though it's only been roughly two months since he's been completely away from it, he couldn't help but to be envious of the people who put their hard work into the manga he was currently reading.
Here he was, feeling nostalgic and searching for jobs every day, but when it came down to it, he might not even be ready to return to work. He didn't put any real effort into trying, but every time he attempted to sketch—something that normally came natural—it never came out right, and just frustrated him more.
One love was lost, he didn't need to lose another; art being his secondary passion. Though, he knew better than to assume his talents had vanished simply because of a heavy heart, so he tried not to dwell on it.
When he was feeling a lack of inspiration, he'd turn to a model that would give him that artistic boost he needed. Chiaki was an interesting subject to draw. The way his features were so delicate, yet finely defined—and those eyes, so bright and wide, with so much youthful life stored in them.
He could never bring himself to draw him again. It would be much too painful. He's even taken the liberty of shredding and tossing past sketches of him away in attempts to clear his apartment of any trace of him.
The memory of Chiaki was still so strong. Even without him in front of him, if he really wanted to, he'd be able to replicate every precise curve and line that made up every portion of his face with perfect accuracy. It would be like looking at a photograph when it was complete.
That face was engraved into his mind, but unlike one of his sketches, he couldn't erase or throw the memory away.
Even though he told himself he wouldn't, he skipped a few pages in to read the new chapter of ZA KAN. Yuu was also a fan of the manga after all, and just because he was too, why did he have to neglect himself of such a great series?
Actually, calling it great was dishonorable and sounded like a label tossed at unworthy, generic series. ZA KAN set itself apart from others. Not only was the art unique, but the story was funny, educational and above all, entertaining. Not a manga-lover in Japan didn't look forward to a new chapter coming out every month. It wasn't number one on the charts for nothing.
Yuu pulled his head away from the page for a moment to peer blankly.
A popular, ongoing series. A best seller. A smash hit that is known all throughout Japan.
Looking back down at the illustrations on his lap, he realized the answer was right under his nose, quite literally. This was exactly what he's been searching for.
With energy that had been absent from him for the past two months suddenly returned when he jogged to his phone and dialed Marukawa Shoten. After being put on hold breifly, he was redirected to the editor-in-chief of Japun Monthly.
It was effortless to obtain an interview since Yuu had linked connections with the company; it only took a simple search in the computer's system to trace him back to working under an Emerald department's author; one that stood out with great importance: Chiharu Yoshikawa.
At first, Yuu was hesitant to supply information on his work history, because then they'd want to hear references from his old jobs. The last thing he wanted was to be a bother after all the trouble that went on between his last employers.
Thankfully though, both Chiaki and Hatori put in a good word for him, which was strangely a relief to him. It seemed as though there were no hard feelings despite the bitter end. Perhaps, someday far into the future, Chiaki could see him as friend again, at the very least.
To have him around would be enough for Yuu. Sometimes being friends with the one you love is better than nothing at all. But that wasn't a plausible way to think right now—besides, he had a more important matter at hand: like his first day of work.
Approaching the entrance of the birthing place of ZA KAN, and also the residence of Ijuuin Kyō: the mastermind behind the series, Yuu found himself pulled away by the sight of the place. He hasn't even made his way inside yet, he was still lingering in the hall, but he was already impressed with the layout of the building. The admired Sensei must make a ton of cash to be able to afford such luxury, but that goes without saying. Of course the guy was swimming in money; a top-seller like him was probably treated with only the best.
There was a number he received after being hired that he pressed into the dial pad to permit him excess inside. It was customary for assistants to hold onto this code because during working hours, the mangaka's home or office in question would be transformed into a place of work like any other.
The interior he walked in on was a big change from Chiaki's home that he was used to. There was no denying his place was impressive as well, but this condo was much more spacious and the style was sleek and modern.
Wandering about for a moment, he found himself lost in the ray of expensive décor placed everywhere, but when he caught ear of voices nearby, it became clear where the studio was located.
Bowing his head respectfully upon entering, he introduced himself as a new hire, but before he could properly establish a proper greeting, he pulled his head up, curling his nose. A dreary aura plagued through him; and proved to be more fowl than crunch time back at Chiaki's studio.
It was hard to overlook the two men bickering—not amongst themselves, but to someone seated between them who was slouched over and face first on his desk; seemingly not paying attention to a word the men spoke.
If he had time, he would have speculated further and wondered why these two men were barking over this depressed looking man, but his view was covered by a woman standing before him—a woman that looked to have a friendly face despite the bags under her eyes.
"Oh thank goodness you're here! We don't know what we'd do if help didn't arrive today! We have lots of work, and the deadline is in two days so I hope you're a speedy worker!"
Giving a confident nod, Yuu he even have to think twice about the task impending before him. What would normally intimidate someone else didn't even faze Yuu. Self-reliant he could be at times, but he knew how to follow orders given to him and work in a group. On top of that, he rarely second-guessed his skills.
Deadlines creeping close were no stranger to him. Chiaki was alwaysbehind in rough drafts. This would be no sweat at all. If anything, the familiar setting relaxed him.
There's a single lingering fear lingering in his mind, though: he's been out of practice for a while. However, he sensed that once he got drawing utensils back into his hand, it would all come back to him naturally, like riding a bike.
The woman set him up at a large table shared by other gloomy assistants. She hovered over him and went over the overall style and theme for a few minutes. Perhaps she was informed beforehand that he was already very skilled and familiar with the manga, so there was no need to go into a standard orientation—thankfully. That would've been much too tedious. Yuu knew what he was doing, and just because the style was a little different, it was still manga they were dealing with.
After an hour had passed, Yuu found it tough trying to adjust to the new work place. The environment felt foreign of course; enough to distract him from his work so he should steal a gander around the space, but that's natural for someone on their first day. Of course there was the pressure that came with making a good impression on co-workers, but that was the least of his concerns.
The thing that really bothered Yuu was the three men in the corner of the room, two in which were bickering about to the grim looking man under them, who offered them no responds in return which resulted in the two men getting even louder.
It was extremely aggravating.
Certainly, this was no inspirational atmosphere suited for an artist.
Letting his attention wonder off the page, he glanced over and recognized one of the men, who turned out to be one of the many present during his interview. If he recalled correctly, he was Ijuuin's main editor, and also the editor of Monthly Japun, known as Kirishima Zen.
Yuu remembered Kirishima as the man who eliminate a lot of the nerves that came with being interviewed with his laid back and youthful personality. Most of the other interviewers remained strict and professional, but Kirishima eased the tension in the room by throwing in some humor. Now, however, it was almost as if his persona switched completely. He looked stressed and overworked, and maybe a few hours short of a good nights sleep.
The other familiar editor beside him, Shizuku Ishi, appeared very laid back in his own way, but not in the same sense of his superior. He came off as quiet, and just a little distant. Even now he stayed true to that nature, but even though he spoke infrequent compared to his superior, his valid points could still be sharply heard.
Telling himself he'd get one more look to settle his curiosity before he returned back to work, Yuu glanced at the man placed lowly between them, holding his head as if he were in pain.
If he was not mistaken, Yuu believed he was no one other than Ijuuin Kyō himself, though, he looked very different now from when he last seen him.
At the New Year's party a few months back, Yuu had seen him from afar and caught onto some of the gossip from girls making goo-goo eyes at him. They referred to him as the creator of ZA KAN. He seemed to have a calm and collected nature about him. Such a prime and polished air floated around him.
Unfortunately, he hadn't the pleasure of introducing himself at the time since his head was more wrapped around accompanying Chiaki and sending vile daggers at Hatori the whole night.
The missed opportunity wasn't much of a big deal, though. He worked with countless authors before, so seeing a famous mangaka was nothing out of the ordinary for him. Starstruck was a foreign emotion for him after all these years working in the industry.
Admittedly, he thought he'd be a little more excited to see the man behind one of his favorite series, but honestly, he wasn't all that impressed.
"You're probably wishing you applied for the job at the beginning of the cycle so you wouldn't be stuck with so much pressure on your first day!" The woman beside him said, mustering up all the cheerfulness she could, but honestly her voice sounded like it belonged to someone on their death bed.
"Nah, it's alright. I'm used to it from my last job." Since the woman brought up conversation, he didn't see anything wrong with continuing it. There's a lot he needs to be filled in on, after all. He lowered his voice some, "If you don't mind my asking, this scene with the editors—does this happen often?"
"Oh, yes," she exhaled, exhausted. "Unfortunately, the end of the month is a bad time for all of us. Pre-deadline, Sensei loses some of his inspiration and that's when Kirishima-san and Shizuku-san have to come over to give him some encouragement."
Encouragement? Is that what people are calling it these days? To him, it looked like they want to give him a stiff kick where it hurts.
Maybe it was Hatori's way of operating that made this scene feel so off-beat. Often, the editor wasn't afraid to give a dose of "tough-love" and tell Chiaki his work sucked, therefore kicking the author into top gear and distributing something to make his editor regret bashing his talents out of spite. It was a weird system, but a hell of a lot more organized than this, and it least it worked. This method doesn't seem to be doing too well.
The man looks half dead, and hasn't even looked at the pages his editors flashed in his face. It's been two hours now, and Ijuuin still wasn't any closer to cooperating.
Yuu's normally steady hand slid across the paper at the sudden shout followed by the sound of two hands solidly slamming down on a hard surface. An inky mess was created by the slip, and now two hours worth of sketching and lineart had gone to waste.
Yuu lashed his head up, furious that his work had been destroyed over unnecessary ruckus just as he was preparing to get into the toning stage.
It was just as he figured—the one causing all the commotion was that train-wreck author in the corner. It seemed as though he finally snapped. For someone that was mute this entire time, Yuu could have never prepared himself for the sudden outburst from the Sensei..
"Oh don't worry you about that," the women beside him grabbed Yuu's attention, but her eyes were located on the inky mess he had made.
"Not really. The chapter is far behind as it is and now I have to start from scratch."
"It's quite all right, we're actually catching up a bit now. Besides… It doesn't seem like we'll have new material to work on today due to Sensei's—current state. Maybe by tomorrow he'll have the chapters finale draft done..."
Returning to work by grabbing a new sheet, Yuu reluctantly began sketching, again. It was annoying to do things twice, especially when you did it right the first time. Yuu wasn't one to make mistakes on his own accord, so he was really peeved by the orderly working conditions.
The guy must not take his manga very seriously if he doesn't respect his fellow workers, and that pissed Yuu off even more. No matter how tired or over-worked Chiaki was, he'd never make a scene and disturb his assistants like that. It was selfish, and Yuu had a bitter thought enter his mind: Ijuuin must have let fame rush to his head and now he believed it was acceptable behave like a spoiled brat.
"I'm going for a walk—don't come looking for me."
"Sensei—wait." But the door slammed shut before Shizuku's plea could be heard.
Who knew such a childish man was behind such a respected series. It's official now; Yuu didn't like the guy a bit.
Kirishima gave out a ragged sigh and wilted down into the Sensei's chair, taking the throne for himself. "All of you should just take a break. I doubt he'll have any new material by today, so you might as well milk out the projects you have for today. But be prepared to work over-time tomorrow."
"That's if the manga doesn't get canceled by then. I swear, I feel like I'm losing my job at the end of every month! When with this loop end?"
Kirishima assured the stressed assistant, "You'll never be out of a job. Ijuuin-sensei could be a royal pain in the ass, but he gets his work done—just not in an orderly fashion. He does his best work 24-hours before the final proof needs to be sent to the printers, so like I said, just be prepared to work hard tomorrow."
The group gave a weary sigh, as if they were used to this sort of thing.
"Ah, right, Yanase-kun," Kirishima scooted up in his seat when his attention fell on the new face in the room, "Sorry for not welcoming you aboard properly before."
"That's alright, I seen everyone had their hands full so it's not a big deal."
"What a good sport. So how you liking the new position so far? Let me guess—you're going to resign?"
There was an inside-joke hidden between Kirishima's words given that Yuu didn't understand why the room suddenly erupted with sardonic laughter, but the women beside him kindly filled him in, "We should have much more assistants for such a popular series, but we can never hold onto new hires for longer than a month."
"Seriously?" Yuu found it hard to believe. Sure, it was a little rowdy before, but it was a good job. Who wouldn't put up with a little stress to be apart of a top-ranking manga? "It makes me wonder why they didn't stick it out."
"Well, once they get a taste of the pre-deadline," Kirishima started, "They up and quit. It's too tough for some people to handle."
Folding his arms, Shizuku stepped into the conversation. "You worked for a Shōjo mangaka before, correct?"
"Ah that's right," Kirishima answered for Yuu, looking up in recall, "This must be nothing for you—I'm sure a woman author is a lot scarier~"
Every pair of eyes belonging to a female in the room harshly squinted on Kirishima. He stiffened and sunk back in the chair, "…C'mon guys, don't look at me like that. I was married once, I know how women can get when things don't go their way."
Kirishima just dug his grave deeper. Maybe that playful personality of his wasn't compatible in all situations. Of course, it was normal for him to assume his last boss was a female. Not many people knew of Chiaki's real identity.
Deciding to take the safe route, Kirishima kept his mouth shut and let Shizuku talk in his place, "Manga directed at a female audience does take a lot more effort to draw, I would assume. It seems to be much more detailed in comparison with other genres. This style must be easier for you."
The dark-haired editor was indeed spot on about that. There was no gender demographic for ZA KAN despite it running in a Shōnen magazine. The series served as entertainment for anyone who had an interest in culinary arts. Compared to Shōjo, this manga was a lot simpler in terms of style; it had a lot of gag panels, so a lot of scenes were drawn in chibi-style. The use of effects, screen tones and ink was much heavier than in Shōjo: where the lines are thin and the screentones picked usually have a dreamy, airbrushed look to them; the amount of detail for just one panel was ridiculous sometimes.
"Not only is it less detailed as Shōjo, but I'm already very familiar with this series to begin with. I've been reading it for years, so that makes adjusting to the style much easier." Yuu added, and Kirishima cocked his head with a thoughtful look.
"That's… right. I remember you mentioning that in the interview. So in other words, you'd refer to yourself as a fan of Ijuuin-sensei?"
"It goes without saying. For someone like me that hopes to come out with my own series someday, his success is a big inspiration." Now that he's seen Ijuuin in the flesh in a working environment, though, Yuu wasn't so sure about how much he inspired him anymore.
Nodding, or maybe it was plotting, Kirishima blurred out, "Interesting… interesting… So do you think you can tell him that yourself?"
". . ." Yuu blinked, "Eh…?"
"You know, just give him a little fan-boost. Ijuuin loves his fans to death, really. It always picks his spirits up. A while back, he was in an even worse state than he is now—believe it or not. But some part-timer in my department said he loved his work and the guy was walking on a cloud for the rest of the day and had the draft done in the next hour. Simple as that."
Yuu was a fan of his, sure, but wouldn't it be a little awkward for him to say such a fangirl remark to his superior on his first day? It was far from professional. He hadn't even been properly introduced to him, yet he was expected—for the sake of the manga's release—to look that intimidating guy in the eye and tell him how much he loves his work and how much he inspires him?
What a way to put unnecessary pressure down on a new hire—or was this an initiation challenge, perhaps?
"You said so yourself that he's good for getting his work done, so if I was here or not, he'd still get it finished." Yuu muttered down to his sketch.
"Yeah but we can be on time for a change if you give him the push today." Kirishima nagged. "You know how much of a pain it is negotiating with the printers? Well I do, since that's my job, but all you would have to do is tell him the truth about how you feel about him. Which is easier?"
"It still doesn't seem all that fair that I'm stuck doing it." It wasn't that he truly had a problem with it, but the fact that he was practically being ordered to do it took away some of the genuineness. The last thing he wanted was for the admiration to come out as phony just because he was feeling pressure.
It's only Yuu's first day and it would he devastating if he was held responsible for making Ijuuin's foul mood even worse. And really, he had enough stress as it is due to his own personal problems.
"Geez, you make it sound like I'm asking you to spill out a love confession. All I'm asking you to do is casually bring it up when you feel the time is right. It'll make the guys day, and you have to introduce yourself to him sometime today anyway, so why not casually slip that in while you're at it?"
Yuu sighed, seeing as he didn't have much of a choice, he said, "Fine, fine, I'll do it."
"Great!" Kirishima stood and nudged the quiet editor beside him, "We'll be heading out now, I'm sure Ijuuin-sensei won't want to look our faces again when he returns from getting fresh air—keep working hard, guys!"
Only an hour after Yuu had returned to work he had already entered the inking stages. He was getting more into the feel of it now, and just like he thought, drawing really was just like riding a bike. No matter how long you're away from it, you can come back to it and after a little practice, you'll be back to pedaling like a champ.
Thankfully, he was already getting used to sudden disturbances by now, so when a pessimistic aura crawled back into the room, his grip didn't slip like last time.
"Ah Sensei, you've returned," the woman beside Yuu stood, "Are you feeling a bit more motivated now?"
Yuu didn't even have to turn around to view his expression, that heavy aura radiating around him could be sensed—and it was quite the contrary to motivational, it was better described as frightening, or suicidal. Who knew that beaming man back at the New Years party and this man were one in the same.
With no responds from her boss, she continued, "Um… Oh, right! I finished inking page twenty-seven, would you like me to go ahead with the toning, Sensei?"
"…Why bother… No one will like this chapter anyways. It's better off being canceled."
"Eh?! Sensei! Don't be so pessimistic!" Suddenly, Yuu found his arm being tugged up, his body along with it. This woman… was strong. She pulled him right to his feet with little effort. "Right! Sensei, this is the new hire," she gave Yuu a push in Ijuuin's direction, and he suddenly felt like he was trapped in front of a hungry lion. "While you were away, he went on and on about how much of a fan he is of you!"
Yuu swallowed thickly, feeling that he had just been kicked into the spotline in front of a demanding crowd. This was not how this scenario was supposed to be played out at all!
Given that it was the same woman that was afraid to lose her job before, maybe she was just getting desperate to get her boss back into a good mood, but there was no reason to take advantage of the situation like this. Yuu had promised Kirishima he'd give him a little boost, but the way she was wording it was…
"He totally loves you Sensei! He said so himself!"
...completely uncalled for.
Pulling up his shame, Yuu viewed the pokerfaced man before him. Losing his nerve wasn't something that frequently happened, but for the first time in a while, Yuu didn't know how to stay calm and collected. Indeed, he really was just thrown into a lion's cage.
Yuu laughed awkwardly, shoving his hands into his pockets, "I think she may be exaggerating just a litt—
"Not at all! He's just being shy Sensei, take my word for it!"
He sent a dirty look to the woman. So much for casually slipping in some praise like Kirishima suggested.
For the first time in a while, he could actually feel the anxiety flowing through him like a raging river, and when Ijuuin finally spoke, it turned into a riptide, "…What's your name?"
Hesitantly, he replied, a rare tremble to his voice, "I'm Yuu Yanase."
He was far too rattled by this situation, not to mention the blend of melancholy from his own problems.
There was no turning back now, thanks to that obnoxious woman. It would be even worse to deny her allegations, meaning he had no choice but to charge in head first. Go big or go home. "It's really an honor to meet you, sir. I really look forward to working with you—and there…there is some truth to what she said: I am a really big fan of yours, and I keep up with all your work because it really inspires me as an artist."
Motionless and quiet, that's what the room could be described as; maybe it was the calm before the storm. Yuu flinched just thinking about it that way. Everyone's eyes were locked on Ijuuin, maybe waiting for the slightest reaction, but even though they were prepared for the unexpected, no one could have foreseen his lips to curve into the most pleasant smile.
...Did it suddenly get brighter in here or did the hovering rain cloud trapped in the room finally clear?
The studio would have been awkwardly silent if it wasn't for the murmurs coming from the staff in the background:
"Awh man, is he smiling?!"
"Yeah! I think so! But I don't know if I should be relieved or scared!"
Ijuuin snickered, his eyes crinkling with mirth. The mangaka reached out a hand and ruffled Yuu's brunette locks, causing the assistant to bounce up, peeved at the sudden touch.
"Thank you, Yanase-kun. That's very kind of you to say. I look forward to working with you as well."
Note: Tsk tsk. I couldn't even make it one chapter without throwing in a Kirishima cameo. /whispers there's going to be a lot of those.
So, this fic is basically a side project I'm working on. There's a lot of people on Tumblr, including myself, that really want to see Ijuuin and Yuu become canon. Me being a nice person, I decided to write my own version of Yuu Yanase no Baai~ n_n