03 : ANXIETIES OF A GROOM-TO-BE
Can love truly ease the pain of a troubled heart?


"If you came here to annoy me, then I tell you, you already have. So will you please leave? I still have a lot of work to do here. Unless, of course, you want to do them for me, which I doubt you can," an aggravated Vice President for Finance grumbled, not at all bothering to spare a glance at the person who had just entered his office. It was his last day of work for the week, as he had the remaining days off extending up to the end of the month, and so he was rushing to finish all the other tasks he was supposed to finish, not wanting to have any trouble at his return.

Kyousuke Jin was used to working that way. A true-blue workaholic he was and had always been. He didn't have a family – well, not yet, at least – to keep him occupied, and everyone else in his circle of friends was busy with their own lives that he had all the time in the world to spend for himself. And he chose to spend that at his office; if he would be busy thinking about his work then he wouldn't have the time to fret about the problems and worries that had been haunting him. That included the thought of becoming a married man in two days' time.

And he, too, was used to being annoyed by his secretary – a loud-mouthed, talkative woman his age who had developed some sort of liking for him. She was quite attractive, that he couldn't deny, but downright irritating. She would often barge into his office uninvited, with the reason that she was bored and just wanted to talk. He had gotten used to it, yes, but it didn't change the fact that he loathed it. He was never the socialist, after all.

So he was surprised when a male voice said, "Just take it easy, Jin."

He almost dropped the folders he had been holding. Quickly, he spun around, his features clearly showing his embarrassment. The person who had dropped by for a visit was not his secretary; it was his boss, the Chief Executive Officer of the Manganji Engineering Group. He immediately began to apologize for his behavior, which was unfitting for an officer such as himself, but the older man only held out his hand to stop him from saying anything more.

"I know the feeling," Takeshi commented with a grin, reaching out to pat him on the shoulder encouragingly. When he pulled back, the smile on his face had grown more mischievous, and so did the gleam in his dark-hued eyes. Tucking his hands into the pockets of his trousers, he continued, "I didn't expect to hear an apology from you, though. I suppose I underestimated Lan Fang's ability to improve your personality – and you're not even married to her yet. But really, Jin. Just take it easy. All I need right now is your say on that budget proposal. Everything else can wait."

"If I didn't know you were married to Lilika Tobita I'd think you're an impostor."

"She knows how to bring out the best in other people, even the worst ones. It's her gift," he told the other, the smile on his tanned features unceasing. In a way, he had been one of the 'worst ones'.

"Yeah. First Kouya then you," the former Gear Master of the Tobita Club pointed out, only to stop short a moment after, remembering the other person he was speaking of had arrived from the States the night before, but they hadn't seen each other yet. Neither of them seemed to bother, though it wasn't strange. He wasn't the type to go out and rendezvous with anyone, except perhaps with his fiancée, and he was busy with work as well, with deadlines to beat and reports to finish. And Kouya, well, he probably went to see Jirou first, as the two were almost like brothers.

Almost.

Takeshi's laughter broke his reverie, and for a passing moment he pondered on how much the once-haughty Gear Fighting champion had changed. When he found love, he seemed to have found – eventually, at least – what was real in his life, too.

"Don't rub it in, Jin. My patience with you can only stretch so far." By then Takeshi's smile had transformed into a roguish smirk that reminded him of the good old days. But they seemed so long ago, he could barely remember; the memories most vivid to him were that of the darkest of his years, and as much as he wanted to forget them, those memories would haunt him night after night, taunting him for his failure, feeding on his sorrow.

Can love truly ease the pain of a troubled heart?

-x-

The rest of the day had been easy for the young genius – in terms of work, that is, as he had little to do considering the break Takeshi had given him. But he almost couldn't stand the constant mingling he had to do with his co-workers, who seemed to be far more excited about his wedding than he was. And, making the situation far worse, his secretary had broken down as he gave his instructions on what to do during his absence, hugging him tightly and telling him that he was going to be terribly missed. He could only roll his eyes, and hope against hope that his part-time martial artist fiancée wouldn't drop by for a surprise visit. They'd both be so dead.

He left the office like a celebrity, and as much as he was used to being all popular, just as he had been during his glorious Gear Fighting days, he still wasn't comfortable with people who he barely knew coming up to him to shake his hand, to ask him questions, to tease him about finally tying the knot, or to give him a hug and wish him the best of luck. Some even went as far as giving him advice as to what to do and not do during his first night, which would've been quite funny if he was the type of guy who didn't mind people poking on his private life.

Upon entering his car, he took a few seconds to just sit down, hold the steering wheel, and stare at whatever laid before him for no reason at all. And, when he had considerably calmed down, he began to pull himself together and process the thoughts that had been running around in his head for nearly the whole day. What was he so worked up about? Getting married was one thing, yes, but aside from the possibility of mishaps during the ceremony and the reception that would follow he really had no worries about the matter. After all, he was marrying the love of his life, and that was something he had looked forward to for quite a long time. He wasn't about to let a nervous breakdown rob him of that moment in time.

It wasn't about his work either. He had made sure to finish everything that was required of him, and he had given specific instructions to his secretary, verbally and in writing, as to what to do should problems arise during his absence. And Takeshi had assured him that he wouldn't have to worry about anything; he would personally attend to whatever would come up during his leave.

Marriage and work out of the picture, his anxieties only pointed to one thing.

To one person, rather.

Someone he hadn't seen in a long time.