"Uhm...Sir...this is going to be only this once alright?" a meek woman, slender and had a youthful face mumbled as he let Usami Akihiko in the fourth floor of the MH Hisashi Facility. "I'm going to get into trouble if they knew you're not related with the person you're seeing now...so please..."
Usami smiled a little. He was wondering how his editor managed to sway this fearful woman into agreeing into this whole thing. Aikawa must have been pretty desperate for him to come up with a new novel.
"Aikawa and you are friends?" Usami gently queried, trying to calm the woman's wits.
"Friends? With that bitch?!" the woman gasped and clasped her hand over her mouth. "I'm sorry...well...my family owes her...so..."
The two not wanting anything anymore personal to be pulled out in the open chose to remain silent in the remaining steps they have to make.
The man then observed the place. Typical long and winding hallways for a special hospital. The paint had gone to a yellowish hue, although it must have been a clean white years ago. There would be crying every once in a while. Sometimes, an indistinct shouting would echoe through the halls.
Usami looked up where a huge sign was plastered against the side of the wall in red letters. "Pavilion D", it said.
"Usami-san, the person you're about to meet is normally stable," the woman said almost into a whisper. "So please just avoid upsetting him or something...if something happens, ring the buzz and I'll come right away."
MH Hisashi Facility. An old facility for people with mental needs. It may look normal outside, but it was a place with deeper purposes than that. They cater only to people with special circumstances: Those who have killed people and have gone insane because of it; and those insane people who have killed others without even knowing it.
Dark leather shoes stopped in the middle of the walk, and Usami lowered his eyes at the woman. It wasn't like he was scared, but safety precautions must still take place so he asked. "What if he lunges forward and tries to hurt me?"
It was the woman's turn to smile, with a somewhat odd light in them. "He won't hurt you. Since he arrived here, he never tried to even lift a foot away from his bed. Like he even had lost the will to move and live..."
The novelist drew a deep breath and braced himself for what kind of face a killer-gone-insane would have. Instead, after the door opened, he saw a calm profile gazing out the barbed small window. There was a bird resting by it.
It was the woman who came in first. She walked slowly and smiled soothingly towards the man sitting on the bed like a good child.
"Takano-san...how are you feeling?"
The somewhat odd hazel-hued eyes darted from the window to the woman. But he neither smiled nor responded. He just stared at the woman and at the man by the door.
"Uhm...he's isn't really responsive so I doubt you could get anything from him but...Usami-san, I'll give you two hours. Please make it quick."
When the door behind Usami closed with a click, he was enveloped by an thick silence. Something that was too strong he could feel pounding in his ears. He wondered if talking to such a person was a good idea. But he was already there. He wouldn't lose anything anyway.
Usami looked around. There was nothing to sit on. No chair, no table, not even a piece of furniture. The room was so bare except for the bed this Takano guy was occupying. So in the end, Usami decided to stand by the wall, back resting against it.
The author observed the raven on the bed thoroughly just as how the hazel-eyed man was doing to him. The guy was wearing a white polo with a fading jeans. He was also bare footed. He would have looked like an exemplary, good-looking man had it not for the 'MH' embroidery that was located at the upper left of the chest area of the polo. And his far away gaze that was chilling to the bones.
"This person really killed somebody?" Usami thought to himself. The serious eyes looking at him pierced him so bad. There was a slight recognition he could feel in that gaze. He'd seen that gaze somewhere. And unable to contain the eerie silence and restrain himself, he opened his mouth. "My name's Usami. You are?"
The person on the bed looked like he wasn't even blinking.
"Onodera. Ah...Takano..." the man answered somewhat unsure. "No...that isn't right. I'm Takano."
Usami maintained a cool face. "If I may ask, who's Onodera then?"
"Onodera?" Takano repeated the name as if it was a new word to him. "Who's he again?" the man looked down as if in deep thinking. And then he looked surprised in a weird way. "Ah...I killed him."
The bird by the window flew away as if it felt an ominous air around the room. Usami was a bit shocked by it, but Takano just maintained his cold gaze. To Usami, it was as if he was looking straight into the eyes of a dead fish.
"I see..." Usami muttered, his folded arms falling on both his sides. He didn't know what to do next. Staying in this room felt like sucking his own sanity out of him.
"Do you want me to tell you a story?"
Usami looked deeply at the raven by the bed who just made an unexpected offer. There was a sad glint in those previously dead eyes. A sleeping soul emerged, and Takano gave a small smile. As if all the while this locked-up man had been waiting for someone to listen to the greatest and gravest regret of his life...
"How many times do I have to tell you not to meet with that Haitani?!"
"Huuh? How many times do I have to tell you it's not on purpose!" the brunette shouted, equally enraged. "We just happened to be at the same store so it'd be weird if I just run away from him!"
Takano Masamune drew a deep breath. He kept on calming the painful sensation in his chest that was starting to pierce him almost all day long. The peircing sensation increases everytime he was alone with the only person he ever really loved. It wasn't the sweet sensation though. It was so painful it was driving him at his edge.
"Can you get out now?" Onodera Ritsu asked. "Today's been very busy and I'm so tired. If this is all, please allow me to rest."
The raven threw a glance at the door he had slammed closed earlier. When he looked at the floor, Onodera's bag was there, with a mess of the fallen manuscripts. The brunette must have lost his grip on them when he forced his way into the brunette's flat.
"Onodera...how long will you make me wait?"
The question was brought up in an almost inaudible voice. But Onodera didn't have to hear it. Just looking at Takano's expression gave him all the idea in the world what this was about.
"I cannot be at ease..." Takano continued. "Everyday, I worry you'd get snatched up by someone, I worry you'd just disappear without a trace...I am trying to cherish you as far as I could...I keep on holding back from touching you...I keep on allowing you the space you want..."
"I keep on telling you how much I love you...but you always...always..."
Onodera Ritsu looked down, his own fingers digging in the palm of his hands.
"Sometimes Ritsu...I wonder..." the raven turned and rested his hand on the knob. "...if you take pleasure out of hurting me..."
The train station as usual was jam packed. There was hardly any space for one to stand up near the waiting area so co-workers Kisa Shouta and Onodera Ritsu decided to pass time cramming themselves in small bench made for little children.
"You don't look good Ricchan...even Takano-san wasn't in his usual edge the whole day...did something happen last night?"
Kisa Shouta, a rather carefree man with the looks of an innocent high schooler asked as he typed a message in his phone. His multitasking was so great he could juggle almost three conversations at the same time.
"N-nothing," the brunette replied, looking the other way.
The other shorter guy moved to sit properly and sighed. "Ne...Ricchan...I've been observing the two of you since you transferred to Marukawa so I could more or less tell that it's not 'nothing'."
"Don't worry...it's not my hobby to make fun of people and spread rumors you know?" Kisa said, eyeing the other side of the waiting passengers. "It's just that...how to say it...we're on the same boat so...I can symphatize..."
Most people in the station readied themselves for the incoming train. People in business suits lost their dignified stances as they crammed themselves in. The train then swiftly passed before the two silent passengers left on a kiddy bench. And all that was left was a heavy silence.
"Kisa-san...it's not like I hate him."
Kisa Shouta thoughtfully looked at his colleague and friend. Ritsu just spoke through gritted teeth. It was obvious how the usual energetic brunette was being burdened by something. Kisa stayed quiet, letting Ritsu talk his inner thoughts.
"I feel pressure too," Ritsu said, his voice somewhat decreasing almost to a whisper. "My family...I...don't know how to tell them that their son...is this kind of person..."
There was a new message in Kisa's mail but he decided to listen to his friend first.
"I don't want to leave any unsettled matters..."
"So...you actually plan on telling them...about you...about...Takano-san...right?"
Onodera remained silent. But his bag was starting to get crumpled by his tight grip.
Hesitantly, Ritsu gazed at the male beside him. He looked on the verge of tears.
An exagerated sigh escaped Kisa's mouth as he patted Ritsu on the shoulder a little too hard. "You're such an idiot Ricchan..."
"Sometimes, it is better for you to say these things to the other person than carry all the burden."
"You see Ricchan, Takano-san probably is just feeling...insecure."
Kisa furrowed his brows. "Well...he's a tyrant but he's still a human you know? I'm sure he's willing to wait for you no matter how long...but you see...it would do wonders if you can reassure him that he's not waiting in vain..."
Ritsu gave a small laugh. "Reassure him? How?"
"Tsk...tsk...There are so many simple things if you just think about it!"
The two watched a high school couple flirting in the open. Their slight giggles both reaching them even from the distance.
"I've made a couple of mistakes myself Ricchan...and I'm just starting to correct them..." Kisa inhaled. "You're actually too much in love with the chief-editor already, aren't you?"
Ritsu opened his mouth to reply, but he couldn't make any sound.
"He looks pretty crazy over you if you'd ask me. It's written all over his face. I just have a knack for these things so I know."
"Not all can find their lifetime partners. Even that idiot high school couple there would eventually break up. Married couples even end up divorcing each other..." Kisa Shouta gripped his phone tightly as he checked on another mail that came in. It was a message from a certain 'Yukina' with so many smiling faces and hearts images occupying the entire screen. The man smiled a little and locked his gaze at his friend.
"...so...you have to do your share of protecting yours Ricchan."
When he looked out the window, the sun was halfway setting down. It created the shadows of the tall buildings around like something of a bad omen. Another day would be passing by so quitely. But Takano didn't like it. That orange tint of the sky up to the rustic color in the busy rush hour looked depressing.
"We're heading out for a drink Takano-san? Wanna tag along?" asked a man at the nearby editing department. He looked kind and childish. But he definitely knew how to look after his subordinates.
"Thanks but I'll pass for today," Takano replied forcing a smile out of his rigid lips. "We still have a lot of things to finish over here."
The other man looked at the Emerald Team's table. The others have left. But as usual, the past days, Takano Masamune was the only one sitting at the end, buried with work. And his back facing the window, with his face obstructed by the darkness creeping from the windows was enough to make the other man from a different department worried.
"Takano-san...are you alright? You look really tired you know?"
Takano looked up from the panel he had been staring at for the last hour. He really wished he was fine. But he knew this time he wasn't.
"I probably have gone too far the other night..."
Takano sighed as he walked the humid summer evening. These were the times that days seem to be too long. He really hated the still orangy tint he could see everywhere. But he kept on walking to the train station nevertheless like he always did. With a box of sweets he specially bought for Ritsu as peace offering, he somehow felt a bit better.
"He hasn't accepted me officially...I couldn't be so possessive of him..." the man sighed. "You know he likes you...you know that Takano even if he doesn't say anything...it's alright..."
A small ray of smile crept on Takano's lips. He tried fixing the little crumple on the side of the paper bag. And then he looked straight ahead. Perhaps it would have been better if he hadn't.
Right when he was about to wait together with the pedestrians waiting for the green light, Takano thought he'd drop the paper bag containing his peace offering for Ritsu.
Ritsu was with Haitani. Again. Both whispering at each others ears. Both smiling. Both comfortable at each other even though they were in public. The color of the setting sun looked good on them. Like a blanket that was emphasizing every sparkle that Ritsu's eyes made every time his profile would be visible. What was that again? He had edited so many record-breaking shoujo mangas not to know. That word. Romantic.
It looked so natural that it was weird. They looked too natural that it hurt.
"Why...how many times..."
Takano stood on his spot. His confused eyes following the pair crossing the parallel lines together with the other pedestrians going to their own destinations. He could only see the two there. He could have looked away or he could have dashed to take Ritsu with him. But he felt so disoriented he was paralyzed.
That moment, Takano heard something inside him that was slowly tearing apart. He wondered why the only person he loved for the last ten years, couldn't smile like that when he was with him.
Ritsu kept on pressing the doorbell. It would even be an understatement to say his finger might already fall off. But no matter how many times he rung the doorbell, there was no response. Not even through email or through calling.
The brunette sighed. "Just when I wanted to talk to him...where could Takano-san have been...?"
Disappointed, Ritsu decided to rest for the night.
It had been quite a restless sleep for Ritsu. He couldn't stay in one position, he almost fell from his bed. He felt nervous for no reason. He felt sad and cautious even though he was alone.
"Is it because I'm too excited all for nothing?" Ritsu heaved a deep sigh before deciding to just get some work done. He couldn't sleep in the first place, might as well use the time for better purposes than tossing around.
Dragging his bag to the living room, Ritsu sat cross-legged on the floor. One by one he checked the manuscripts. There were full of red circles and corrections. He stared at one of the characters and smiled a bit.
"This looks like Haitani-san..." he whispered. "He isn't such a bad person anyway...it's nice being with him...today too..."
As soon as he finally got his rhythm working, a shrilly, impatient sound of his doorbell broke the silence. Ritsu darted his eyes towards the wallclock. 11:02 pm.
Hurriedly, Ritsu went to the door. There could be no other man with the guts to do this kind of disturbing anyway. As soon as Ritsu was about to open the door, the man paused for a little. Takano looked so oddly calm. Like that of the calm before a tempest.
"What are you doing? You're disturbing the neighbors..." Ritsu said after he finally opened the door.
Takano just went inside quietly.
"Takano-san? Are you alright?" Ritsu pressed for more. And then he caught a whiff of something so strong he had to step away. "You stink of alcohol. Did something happen?"
"Did something happen?" Takano repeated. And then chuckled softly. "Nothing happened my beloved kohai."
"By the way...Onodera..." Takano raised a hand to his face as if massaging the bridge of his nose. His bowed head obstructed Ritsu of anything to see from the man's expression. "You went home early today...you went somewhere?"
Ritsu drew a deep breath. "I went with some friends."
"Oh...friends? Who're these 'friends'?"
"It's..." Ritsu looked away. "Why do I have to report to you who I went out with? Besides, you seem to be drunk. I'll get something to sober you up then go back to your room."
And then Takano looked up. Behind his dark messy hair, those eyes which always showed passion was gone. It was clouded by something else that Ritsu couldn't explain. Unconsciously, Ritsu stepped back. He did when Takano stepped forward.
"Why are you backing away Ritsu?" Takano asked gently as he made small steps towards Ritsu. "Are you that eager to get away from me?"
"Huh? You're...really acting weird now..."
By this time, Ritsu's heart had started beating so wildly like it would jump out of his throat.
Ritsu stared wide-eyed at the man before him. They've gone so close at this point he could smell the heavy scent of alcohol and smoke around Takano. Ritsu held his gaze. No matter how scary and forceful Takano had been before, never did the man harm him.
That was why at first Ritsu couldn't comprehend what was happening. He felt heavy hands against his shoulders, and in an instant, he found himself falling towards the floor. He hit the cold surface without preparation. He hit his left shoulder, the pain strikingly unbearable.
"What are you..." Ritsu swallowed his words. Takano just stood before him. There was an alarming calmness on that handsome face.
The man on the floor tried to sit. His heart was already sinking when Takano knelt before him. And Ritsu could do nothing but to pedal his feet backing against the wall.
"Come back...to your senses..." Ritsu whispered.
Immediately, a strong hand reached towards Ritsu, forcefully grabbing him by the jaw. A small smile on Takano's lips sent Ritsu's instinct screaming for refuge. But looking at Takano this way too made him stay despite of the sensible voice telling him to get away.
"Why did you show up if you weren't going to stay with me Ritsu?"
"Ten years...I was able to get by on my own..." there was glistening at the corners of his eyes. Due to drunkenness and all sorts of reasons he didn't want to entertain when he was in full control of his emotions. Just right now, the lid was opened. And his pain couldn't be suppressed anymore.
"You were with Haitani earlier again, right?"
Everything turned black. Ritsu's sight was in circles. When he regained a bit of himself, Takano was already on top of him. Pinning him down with such strange strenght. Looking down on him with such coldness.
Desperate to get away, Ritsu tried his best to push the body that was weighing him down. He didn't want this. He didn't want Takano looking like this at all.
Resisting Takano was futile. Ritsu knew. And so gradually, he stopped struggling. He watched his clothes torn apart from him one by one. Like he was being scalded alive by burning, careless hands.
"It's because I've only been thinking about myself...isn't it?" Ritsu whispered in a broken voice. "I'm sorry..."
Takano who was lost in his storm of emotions halted. He saw a tear well down from Ritsu's eyes. And his sight has never flickered this badly before.
The man hurriedly withdrew. His intense gaze almost boring a hole on Ritsu's rag-doll-like body on the floor. Bruised, exposed, carelessly pulled down to a helpless position.
Without a word, Takano stood and headed further deeper into Ritsu's flat.
Ritsu, though wobbly with almost not a strength to support his legs, he stood. He didn't even care for his clothing. His open shirt was his only cover against the chill he could feel despite it being summer.
After a couple of steps, Ritsu finally saw Takano standing quietly, his back facing him.
Ritsu thought someone knocked him out of his breath. Takano-san. Takano Masamune was intently gazing at the sharp blade of a knife. Takano so intently gazed at it that Ritsu felt he saw what was to come.
"Takano-san...Put it down..."
"I'll kill Haitani."
"Stop this already!" Ritsu shouted, throwing off his own fears down the floor as he headed to where Takano was. "You cannot do this you understand?!"
"You care for him this much?"
Ritsu knew he was about to sob. Even his own eyes were clouded by his hot tears. Not a single word seem to reach Takano in his state. He didn't know what to do anymore.
"Takano-san...you've gotten everything wrong...alright?" Ritsu said with his best soothing voice, reaching ever so slowly to the knife Takano was holding. "Calm down now...alright?"
"I'll really kill him," Takano hissed, walking away in a haste that even when Ritsu was already holding on to his arm, he still managed to break away. "He should just disappear..."
"Please...!" Ritsu called, staggeringly hugging Takano by the waist. "Calm down already...stop this already...Takano-san I'm begging you..."
Still out of his wits, Takano gazed down at the hands round his waist. He could feel a thundering and successive beats of something against his back.
"It's true we were together earlier...but tha-"
The raven must have been possessed by something. He broke free from the arms binding him in place and walked away. Ritsu picked up his pace and once again grabbed on Takano's arm.
He only intended to push Ritsu away. He only intended to do it with his free hand. Was he so delusional that he saw Haitani instead? Right then and there, his anger and the alcohol got the better of him. And he stabbed Ritsu on the chest.
Ritsu's bare chest, just above the chest cavity started weeping red. It trickled prettily down to the man's bare legs. Shocked green eyes looked at the knife on his chest, to the hand holding it, and slowly looked to Takano as he found himself falling on the floor.
In an instant, Ritsu fell on the floor with a thud. The wound seemed like a stream pooling under him. But Takano just stood watching the gush of blood out the brunette. There was a sudden relief too seeing Ritsu like that.
"It might not be this bad..." Takano whispered. "I could keep you like this..."
Only Ritsu's gasping for life filled the room.
Takano watched Ritsu's hand trying to cover his chest. He looked somehow pretty that way. As if he was watching a movie or something, he only stood watching the life spilling out of his beloved.
And then a sound of beeping filled the flat. Ritsu's answering machine.
"Uhm...Onodera-kun. This is Haitani. It's late...but I want to ask you have you reached your home safely?" there were sounds of paper being sorted. "The one you asked me about earlier, I managed to somehow beg my friend to put you in the reservations. Next time reserve at least a month earlier okay? They're always booked after all."
Takano listened with a stone face. What was that shit talking about, calling his Ritsu so late at night?
"Anyway...sorry for causing trouble for you. Aren't you glad I'm a friend of that restaurant's manager? I'm sure Takano would be really touched by that 'date' you're trying to set up. Haha, that's right, reach out to him slowly...but man I never thought you're the type to be so eager into this...makes me jealous...hahaha...Well...see yah around..."
The next instant, a clanking sound of metal filled the room until it faded like it never appeared. The knife fell on the floor beside Ritsu. And Takano stared without focus to the body he was denying to recognize on the floor.
The beast in his eyes was gone. There was only a look of a lost child in there. The strength he had earlier had vanished he fell on his knees.
He could hear his own blood rushing to his every veins. As if any time they'd burst from within.
He couldn't even ask what had took place. They were ugly sickening memories flashing in the back of his mind as he stared at the pale body on the floor.
"W-what have I..." Takano mouthed. He didn't know how to pick the person on the floor. He didn't know where to start. "R-ritsu...what have I..."
Ritsu's closed eyes opened a little. The lifeless lips smiling very weakly. "You really shouldn't...drink that much..."
"I'll...I'll call an ambulance..." Takano mumbled almost tumbling to get up. "Wait-"
Before Takano could get up, he felt a hand touch his hand. They were startlingly cold that it made Takano frozen himself.
"What's alright?" Takano asked barely able to talk from the pain in his throat. His shaking hands trying to touch the face that was just smiling that afternoon. "..."
"I love you."
"Nanda...it came out so easily this time..." Ritsu laughingly said. "I should have said it more often..."
"No...no..." Takano bit on his lips hard he could taste something rustic. He pulled the man into an embrace, him almost consumed by an unfathomable pain. "T-this...this wasn't...I didn't mean to do this to you..."
Ritsu's smile slowly faded. His eyes closing in for a long sleep.
Takano stared hard at the bare chest. He waited for the slight rise and fall that should be there. But there was nothing. Nothing at all.
Drop by drop they fell on Ritsu's cheeks. Tears from a man who swallowed all the painful sobs deep within him. Tears that would never be able to return even a second of the time that passed by.
Silently, Takano carried Ritsu to the bed. He had wiped off all the traces of blood. Cleaned the brunette ever so gently with trembling hands. He clothed him with the sweatshirt he had given the brunette as a birthday present.
The man even cleaned all the mess in the brunette's house. As if nothing happened, everything was in place.
After taking a bath himself, Takano climbed on to the bed. Without a word, he lifted the body towards him closer. And began stroking the pale cheeks.
"I've always wanted to do this you know..." Takano gritted his teeth. "But not this way...not this way..."
Ritsu looked so peaceful. He looked really pretty. His parted lips looked inviting Takano brushed his thumb over them. He reached out to brush the hair strands off the brunette's forehead and gently leaned down, planting a kiss. He did so over and over again.
He knew Ritsu would be angry with this kind of treatment. But he kept on kissing the dead man while clutching his own chest from the slow breaking he could sense somewhere.
When the two editors did not show up for work even though the deadline was nearing, their close friends, worried, decided to pay a visit. The door to Takano's flat was locked. But surprisingly, they realized that Ritsu's was left open partially as if the ones inside were waiting for the visitors.
The Emerald team in a room saw Ritsu sleeping. And Takano, hugging Ritsu while staring vacantly into space.
When Usami realized, he was feeling a cold tear passing down to the side of his face. The man on the bed however was as calm as ever. As if it was just a normal bedtime story.
Hurriedly, Usami brushed the wetness away and tried to compose himself. He felt weak himself. The man on the bed Takano Masamune just kept on looking at him with cold, piercing gaze.
And then there was a knock.
The door opened partially, revealing the nurse who walked him there. "Two hours is up Usami-san."
"Uhm...alright..." Usami nodded.
The man sitting on the bed seemed to be not bothered at all. Usami started heading for the door in slow, hesitant steps. He stopped though and glanced back. Usami was now really sure he was very familiar with those gaze.
"Takano-san...why did you tell me this?"
The raven was back on staring at the barbed window. The sky there was blue. And he didn't seem like he would reply.
Usami still tried to wait for an answer. But the distant gaze was already back on the man's eyes. He pulled the knob open and headed out. Before he could completely shut the door, he heard Takano say something.
"Usami-san..." Takano called still staring at a place he could only see. "...I thought you're a mirror."
When Usami reached his car, he couldn't summon himself to drive right away. He stared before him and at the expanding sky above him.
He couldn't shake off the last thing that person had said to him. Mirror? What was that?
He took his phone and pressed on his number one in his speed dial.
"Oi...Usagi-san? I'm about to prepare dinner so I'm hanging up if you are just playing around."
"Misaki, you know I would never hurt you right?"
"Huh? What's this all so suddenly?"
Usami smiled. "Nothing. I just wanted to hear your voice."
"You're really weird Usagi-san. Hurry home okay?"
Usami have no idea what would happen in the future for that Takano guy in Pavilion D. He also didn't know what would happen to him and his Misaki. What he got from that visit though was one realization that he would always keep in mind. Takano must be right about that mirror.
Strong men are really the most fragile ones...
chapter end notes;
hello! i missed writing for this couple! hahaha...anyway...well...i got this idea out of nowhere when a friend mentioned mental hospitals and i just had a typing spree. before i knew it it came down to this. it's sad i know but i can't help it. XD my fingers moved on their own! and well... UsagiXMisaki are the guests! hahaha
for the people readin shadow singer who happened to read this...sorry. i know i posted that the 70th chapter would be posted this week. but something came up and i can only manage a one shot ! gomen! i'll work on my schedule! XD
-thanks for the time reading and please share your thoughts!
ps. this is just a thing i made up. i don't know if similar situations exist for people in any facility around the world. if so, it is completely coincidental.