I am lost.
I don't know what to say.
I know what I want to tell everyone, but I really can't without consequences.
Isaka-sensei warned me not to tell anyone about Usami-sensei's relationship with Misaki-kun. He said it would be detrimental to his popularity and the popularity of the company if the media knew he was gay or had a younger, male lover.
Why does that matter when both Sensei and Misaki-kun are already dead?
I felt a hand lightly grip my shoulder. I look back slightly to see Isaka-sensei behind me. His eyes are dull and bloodshot. I know he's been up for days dealing with Sensei's death. Not only was Sensei one of his prize-winning authors, but also one of his oldest friends.
"Are you ready, Aikawa-san?" he asks. His voice is lifeless and he barely looks me in the eye as he speaks.
All I can do is nod and stand up.
I'm not ready to face these people.
They all want to know the truth about what happened to Usami-sensei.
Isaka-sensei chose me to lead the press conference. He said it was because I have a certain way with words and I was closest to Usami-sensei. I don't think that's true. I was only an editor who was lucky enough to witness Sensei with his one true love.
I follow Isaka-sensei and the president and vice president of the company into the main hall of the hotel we reversed for the conference. I clutch the small notebook with a few scribbled notes in it close to my chest. We enter into the giant conference room and are greeted with a magnificent display of camera flashes. The room is packed with journalists, other staff members of Marukawa, and many other strangers.
Who would have thought so many people would be interested in Usami Akihiko?
I take my place at the podium on stage. Isaka-sensei and the presidents stand around me. I look out into the crowd. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. There are even a few cameras videotaping in the back of the room. I open up my tiny notebook and look at what I've written.
1.) Greet and thank the guests
2.) DON'T mention Misaki
3.) If asked, you DON'T know why he killed himself
4.) DON'T show them you're hiding something
I take a deep breath and plaster a fake smile on my face.
"Good afternoon and thank you all for coming. I am Aikawa Eri, Usami Akihiko's editor." I introduce Isaka-sensei and the presidents. They all bow to the crowd in respect. "We are here to clear up the rumors about Usami Akihiko."
Before I can continue, a reporter jumps up from his seat and waves his hand in the air. "Miss! Is it true that Usami-san is dead?"
This stunt fires off a chain reaction of reporters jumping out of their seats, throwing their hands in the air, and shouting questions.
"Did Usami-san move away?"
"Is he done writing novels forever?"
"Was it suicide?"
"Everyone please sit!" I screech into the microphone. My voice is shrill, like when I would yell at Sensei for being past his deadlines. When everyone is seated again, I continue. "Please hold your questions till the end of the conference." I clear my throat. "Some of the rumors you're hearing are true. Usami Akihiko is dead."
Everyone gasps then a dead silence fills the room.
Then the uproar starts again.
"Was it suicide?"
"Was there an accident?"
"Did he die of natural causes?"
I shout at them again. "Please everyone, let me explain!" I feel tired already, but I know I must continue. They must know the truth, at least some of it.
"Usami-sensei died two days ago in his home. Yes, it was suicide." Everyone gasps again, but I continue without pause. "I found him at his house, already dead. There was nothing I could do to save him. He shot himself in the head."
From the corner of my eye, I see Isaka-sensei flinch. I'm sure he wishes I would be a bit more reserved on the details. I look at my list again.
I'm not going to follow of it.
I'm going to do all the don't's.
All the reporters jump up again, asking the same question: "Why did he do it?"
"Usami-sensei had a lover." I hear Isaka-sensei call out my name, but all the shouting of the journalists drowns that out. "What I'm about to tell you all may shock you." I paused, thinking carefully of how to word these next few sentences. "Usami-sensei was gay," I blurt out.
I watch the reactions on everyone's faces. They're all shocked beyond belief. Isaka-sensei looks horrified.
There's no turning back now.
They all deserve to know the truth.
"Usami-sensei's lover was a younger male. His name was Takahashi Misaki and he was 22 years old." The crowd is roaring, but I talk over them. "I wish everyone could have seen those two the way I saw them. They were crazy for each other. It was pure romance and it was a damn shame they couldn't show their true feelings to anyone else."
The same reporter in the front row that started the whole mess jumped up again. "Where is this Takahashi?"
I look him dead in the eyes. "Dead."
Another chaotic uproar begins, but my vision turns blurry with tears. Isaka-sensei yells at everyone to sit down and be quiet while I wipe my eyes with some tissues I had in my pocket. I sniff and thank him before continuing with my big speech.
"Mourning is the most difficult thing for a person to go through. Grief makes even the person who knows all the words become mute. A loss makes the person who has everything in line falter. A death causes even the most religious person to question their own faith.
"But something bigger inside of us pushes us forward. We find the words to speak, get back on the path, and look back up to our God. We find our strength again."
Everyone is quiet and all eyes are glued on me. Some people are crying from the last part.
"Usami-sensei and Misaki-kun were not like other people. They could not find the courage to live without their loved ones. Misaki-kun lost his brother earlier this year. Grief turned him into a zombie. He lost all hope and couldn't do anything anymore. A week ago, he ingested too many pills and died."
I pause. This time I was expecting everyone to jump up and shout out questions. No one said a word. They all sat on the edge of their seats, waiting for me to continue.
"Misaki-kun, the love of Usami-sensei's life, died in his arms. He couldn't function without the boy. He blamed himself for his lover's death. He also became a zombie. He lost all words and could no longer write. It got so bad, that he took his own life as well."
I sigh. "Say whatever you want about Usami Akihiko. He didn't deserve what happened to him. Misaki-kun didn't deserve that pain either." I look up at the ceiling. "The pain is over now you guys. I hope you're happy together… up there." I look back out at the stunned crowd. "This conference is over."
I burst into tears as I run out of the room, far away from the chaos.
I run back to my office and lock the door. The tears don't stop for a long time. I can't help but sob incredibly loud.
It hurts so much, not just because they were my friends, but also because I know how much they needed each other.
Isaka-sensei knocks on the door. "Aikawa-san? Can I come in?"
I stop sniffling and wipe my eyes before I get up and open the door. Isaka-sensei looks extremely stressed, but not angry. I was sure he would be angry at me for doing all the things I wasn't supposed to.
He closes the door behind him. "What happened to Chibi-tan?" he asks sincerely.
I sit at my desk, exhausted. "He overdosed on sleeping pills a week ago. I think his brother's death really got to him. He hadn't been himself since his brother passed away. He wouldn't even get out of bed."
"But, Chibi-tan was usually so happy."
I nod. "His brother was his life, just as much as Sensei was. Sensei never left his side. He comforted Misaki-kun and tried to help him get back to normal."
Isaka-sensei smiled a little. "He probably never let that kid out of his sight."
I bite my lower lip. "He did. He left to get some sleep because Misaki-kun would constantly have nightmares that would keep both of them up. When he came back, he found Misaki-kun on the verge of dying. He tried to save him, but I think he was too far gone. He died in the hospital soon after."
I've never seen Isaka-sensei so concerned before. He looked hurt and disturbed by all the information I was telling him.
"Sensei blamed himself. He said he could have been there to stop Misaki-kun from killing himself. But I know that's not what happened."
"What do you mean?"
"Misaki-kun knew how much he meant to Sensei. And he was not at all selfish. He had to have known that killing himself would hurt Sensei so much. I believe it was an accidental overdose. He couldn't have had the strength to actually attempt suicide. He didn't have the courage to leave like that. He couldn't hurt his lover in that way."
Isaka-sensei's eyes were watering. Mine suddenly were too, just thinking about everything. I missed them both so much already. Why does mourning have to hurt people like that?
I wipe my eyes again. "I'm sorry, Isaka-sensei. Everyone needed to know the truth. I know things will be a little crazy around here now concerning Sensei, but it's what he would have wanted."
To my surprise, he nodded. "Yeah, it is what crazy Akihiko would have wanted."
A crazy idea begins to form in my head.
I suddenly know what else I need to do for Sensei and Misaki-kun.
"I'm going to write a book," I say. "I'm going to write the story of Usami-sensei and Misaki-kun. The world will finally know everything." I finally smile for the first time in a while. "Sensei would have loved it."
Isaka-sensei almost laughs. "That's brilliant, Aikawa-san. It will be a hit seller… as long as you can give it to us sooner than Akihiko ever gave us anything."
I do laugh. "You can count on that."
I turn to my computer as Isaka-sensei leaves.
I start to type, without really thinking.
"It all started with a boys-love novel."
A real Romeo and Juliet story, eh? :D I do love a good tragedy every once in a while.
If you liked this and want something with fluff and lemon, be sure to check out my other JR fic called Finally Realizing!
Thank you all!