Title: (Little Girl) in the Big World
Author: Phoenix Kaen
Summary: Seto's struggle with sleeping pills. Ritsuko's struggle with her independent life. She made the mistake of caring about Kaiba's problem and was fired. The two clashes by a twist of fate and somehow faces troubles...together. KaibaxOC
Alternate Summary: Romance is strictly forbidden in the office place. Ritsuko respects that rule but Kaiba can break his own rules if he wants to. The trouble is that she's not willing to since all she really wants to do is work and make her living.
Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi owns the Yu-Gi-Oh series.
Chapter 1: Emancipation
italic-a character's thoughts
italic with occasional "quote" are memories
"'The most sought after bachelor?'" Ritsuko asked, reading the title of an article in a magazine. Jennifer Ohyama, the woman who sat next to her, looked over the blonde's shoulders.
"Oh, yeah," she said, sipping her coffee. "That is pretty much true. My own daughter would do just about anything to be his girlfriend." Ritsuko blinked with a blank look.
"You have a daughter? How come I don't know that?" She said, hiding the lower half of her face behind the magazine.
Jennifer sweatdropped. "I always talk about her." The teenage girl continued to look perplexed.
"One of these days you have to listen to what I say," Jennifer said. Ritsuko also took a sip of her plain black coffee. Contrary to many people, she never did like sweet things. Her green eyes speed-read the article about her boss. The article mostly concentrated on how handsome, how rich and less of how successful he is. She could only deduce that a fangirl wrote this article.
"I don't get it." Ritsuko finally put down the magazine. "Why does everybody make such a big deal about him? If half his fanclub worked for him, they wouldn't be swooning over him. Don't misunderstand me though, I do respect him."
"Heheh Ritsuko-chan, you've never had a crush on anybody, have you? Sometimes people do wonder if you're a lesbian. Me? I just think you're a late bloomer." Jennifer said, smiling. Ritsuko blushed.
"I am not! I have my monthly menstrual cycle, you know. I might not be as big as you either but they're still growing!" Ritsuko fumed. Jennifer calmed her down.
"I don't mean it like that. I just meant one day you'll be attracted to a guy. When that day comes, you know you've matured a little. It's a bit strange though. You and Mr. Kaiba are pretty much alike. Maybe your first crush will be him," Jennifer said. She reached out to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. In his office, Seto Kaiba sneezed. Was someone talking about him?
"Jenny-chan," she said. Even though Jennifer was older than Ritsuko, the latter was welcome to address her as though they were best friends. "Hmm?" Jennifer answered.
"My onee-san and my mom said something like that once. My dad is anxious for me to have a boyfriend. I don't understand the big deal. I think I'm capable to take care of myself."
"Your father, I've met him before. Remember when you had that birthday party? You invited me to it. I've talked to your father. He talks a lot about you, how worried he is about you but also of how proud he is of you. I think he wants you to have a man that'll take care of you. In my opinion, while you're very intelligent, you're also lonely," she reflected. I noticed your party didn't have any teenagers. Rit-chan, you don't have any friends your age, do you? I wonder when you were excelling in school, did you ever cry alone in your room?
Ritsuko smiled and laughed. "What are you talking about? I can't be lonely when I have people that care for me. I have parents that still fuss over me, a big sister that watches over me and everybody else here. Most of you are friendly and treat me like an equal. I can't ask for more." Her eyes had a faraway look.
Jennifer, however, didn't smile. From the time that she laid eyes on the young girl, she sensed a vulnerable aura from her. She had met her when Ritsuko had wandered into the KaibaCorp building, soaking wet. It had been raining that night. Jennifer thought this girl shouldn't be out this late. Taking pity on her, she took the confused looking girl to her cubicle to dry off. She drove her back home to Ritsuko's grateful family. That was about a year ago. She never thought she'd see the girl again. Then one day (earlier this year), when she returned from her lunch break, she saw the same girl in a beige pant suit. She had neither job experience nor any high school or college education. Besides the CEO, she was the youngest person there. The woman thought she was a fool for trying. To her great surprise, Ritsuko was hired. She started immediately the next day. From then on, the older woman decided to watch over this girl. The other employees seemed to like her, especially for her sense of humor. They became her friends. There still seemed to be a distance between Ritsuko and her co-workers. It was the same with her family members.
"You walk alone in the dark," the brunette woman whispered. Ritsuko asked her what she said. "It's nothing important."
"Hmm..." Ritsuko picked up the magazine and looked through the article again. "It says here that our boss' birthday is October 25th. That's tomorrow."
"Yeah, but if you say anything about it, he'd probably reprimand you for caring about that instead of work. Hey, isn't your birthday next month, also on the 25th? What do you want for your birthday?" Jennifer leaned on the back of her hand. Ritsuko absentmindedly flipped through one of her older friend's shopping catalogs.
"You don't have to get me a gift. You should care more about what your husband and daughter want for their birthdays," she said, seeming interested in something in the catalog. Her friend snatched it away from her.
"Let's see what you're gawking at." There was a picture of a silver charm bracelet with a heart charm hanging off it. "You want a charm bracelet? It's not that expensive...Okay, that's what I'm gonna get you this year!" Jennifer announced. Ritsuko was already walking away dispiritedly from Jennifer's desk.
"Hey, Rit-chan! How you doing today?" The guy that gives everybody their mail said cheerfully to Ritsuko. The latter put up a hand to acknowledge him but didn't say anything. "Rit-chan, is everything okay?" She ignored him. "What's wrong with her, Jen?" He asked her, handing her a small stack of letters. She shrugged.
"She looked through this catalog then when I told her I'll get her a charm bracelet. She just left."
"She's usually happy. A little too happy, don't you think?" He reflected. "A young girl like that should be in high school. Whenever I mention the word 'school' though, she quiets down. I think she had a bad high school experience."
"Yeah..." is all Jennifer said.
"There's no way in hell you're going to work! You're going to finish high school and graduate like a normal teenage girl. After that, you're going to college then you can go to work. You're only fifteen! You have no experience in the business world!" Isamu Amano, Ritsuko's dad argued.
For the first time in her life, Ritsuko glared at her father. "Dad, I'm not happy in school. I'm not dropping out because I'm lazy or I'm a troublemaker. I can still learn without being in school. School just isn't for me. Work is for me. I want to excel in the business world."
"'Excel in the business world'? You say it like it's so easy. Rit-chan, you're a teenage girl. Most girls your age go to high school. You should experience things high school has to offer like having your first crush like a normal teen."
"Ha! You keep bringing up the word 'normal'. A normal teenage girl in Japan hikes up her uniform skirt, dye their hair a light color, put on make-up and press their hair. The normal Japanese girl doesn't care about her schoolwork, she just cares about expensive brandname products, pop idols or about getting a boyfriend. The last thing they care about is schoolwork."
"Dad, Ritsuko, please stop arguing," Kyoko, Ritsuko's older sister said. She stood in-between them. They were both glaring at each other. "Dad, you should seriously consider this. Imouto-chan is miserable in school. I've seen her in class before. She's bored there. Her teachers say that she's advanced enough for college, even for Tokyo University. I trust that she'll succeed in the business world."
"Dear, you should calm down. Rit-chan's birthday is tomorrow. You two shouldn't be mad at each other; the family should be together celebrating tomorrow." Emi, Ritsuko and Kyoko's mom said.
"I just want you to be happy, Ritsuko," her dad said wearily. "You were always difficult to take care of. Always a handful ever since you were a little girl. I'm just so tired now."
"I'm sorry for being a handful, dad. I'm grateful that you and mom took care of me all these years. But right now, you're the one person I hate most." Ritsuko ran out of the living room, tears in her eyes.
"Is there anything you needed, Mr. Kaiba?" Ritsuko asked her boss, holding on the doorknob. She had just entered his office when he said 'come in.'
"Just organize those files I put on your desk. After you're finished, call my little brother and tell him I'm busy and won't be able to eat dinner with him tonight." He said, without looking up at her.
"Yes, Mr. Kaiba." She said, closing the door slowly. Before the door was fully closed, he looked up and caught a glimpse of her. Her blonde hair covered the side of her face. He thought she looked a little sad. Not that he cared whether or not any one of his employees were sad. He shrugged the image off his mind and continued to read a document. Ritsuko leaned on the polished wooden door. She was deep in thought. She thought about how his birthday was coming up tomorrow. A funny little memory floated up in her mind.
She was just pouring more hot coffee in her mug when she heard two female employees gossiping near the cooler.
"Hey, Yuki. Remember last year on his birthday, when he received a mountain of gifts from his fangirls?"
"Oh, yeah. He was so annoyed. He ordered for them to be destroyed. Those poor girls, spending all their money on him and he was so ungrateful."
"Well, it's not like he asked for them."
"True but the least he could've done was give them to us. If he's not going to enjoy them, let us enjoy them." The latter giggled.
"You know what I heard? There's a rumor going around that he's gay." Ritsuko choked on her coffee, trying to stifle a giggle. Thankfully, they didn't notice Ritsuko was eavesdropping on their conversation. Ritsuko was shaking with laughter while she wiped the coffee stain off her blouse.
"Personally I think it's true. Have you noticed how obsessed he is with that high school kid? The one that beat him in Duel Monsters."
"I don't know. I don't pay attention to that stuff."
"Sometimes I wonder how you work at this company." Ritsuko walked out of the employee's lounge, carrying her coffee mug. She tried to regain herself but was still shaking. Her coffee spilled little by little. The janitor that was mopping the floor looked annoyed at her. If he only knew what was going on in her mind...She was imagining Kaiba speaking like a stereotypical gay man. She imagined him wearing tight shirts and tight leather pants. How he would say 'Girl, those pants don't go with those shoes.' For weeks, she couldn't help giggling behind her hand whenever she looked at him.
"Damn, I just had to remember that," she said, covering her mouth to keep herself from laughing. She took her place behind her desk and started to organize the files. The phone rang. She picked it up.
"Hello, Kaiba Corporation. How can I help you?" She said professionally.
"Hello, Rit! How is my adorable little sister?" Kyoko said loudly.
"Your adorable little sister is livid with you for disturbing her at work," Ritsuko said with mock sternness. "What do you want, onee-san?"
"Your onee-san wants you to join her for dinner. You get out in an hour, right? It's been a while since we've eaten out, just the two of us. I already told mom and dad." She said. Ritsuko groaned. She actually was pretty hungry. She wanted to have some delectable ramen noodles in a restaurant.
"I can't. My boss is going to be working late tonight. I probably have to work late, too. He didn't say anything about that yet though. Man, what I wouldn't give for a bowl of ramen noodles!" She stretched her arms, pressing the phone against her ear with her shoulder.
"Oh, I see. You have some overnight work, huh? Are you sure that's what it is?" Kyoko asked suggestively. "That's what he might say then when everybody else is gone. He'll get his opportunity to strike."
"You know the janitor stays overnight, too."
"Yeah but he'll tell the janitor to go home so he can have his way with you. That's usually what happens between a secretary and her boss. Most businessmen have affairs with their secretaries, you know."
"Most of those businessmen are in their mid-thirties or older and has a wife."
"You might be wearing a tight blouse. When it gets all dark, he'll be thinking that he wants to rip it off you and do you on your desk."
"DON'T BE SUCH A PERVERT!" Ritsuko shouted into the phone. Kaiba jumped when he heard her shout. "You've been reading way too much erotic novels. That's what happens when you're a horny working woman without a boyfriend." That struck a chord in Kyoko.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY!" She yelled but Ritsuko already hung up on her. "I was just kidding but she went too far." Ritsuko scoffed at the disturbing thought. "Kaiba ripping off my clothes? Oh, please, what an absurd idea. Not that I want that to happen." Kaiba beeped her. She blinked and pressed the button.
"Yes, Mr. Kaiba?" She said.
"Miss Amano, this is a workplace. I'd like it if you talk to your boyfriend at home, not while you're in the office."
"But Mr. Kaiba, I don't have a boyfriend. I was talking to my sister."
"That's not the point here. I didn't hire you so you can have personal phone calls. And keep it down."
"Sorry, Mr. Kaiba."
"Now get back to work."
"Uh-Mr. Kaiba, I don't have to stay overnight tonight, right? I mean, my sister invited me to dinner..." Not that he would care.
"If you want to keep your job, you will stay." With that, he stopped the conversation. At that moment, her stomach growled. "Bastard," she whispered, frowning. She looked at the clock on the opposite wall. It was six thirty. She sighed and thought: This was what I wanted. Her hand grabbed another file.
Several hours passed, Ritsuko wasn't used to pulling an all-nighter. Unlike regular students, she never procrastinated in doing her schoolwork or in studying. She didn't have to. She was already smarter than most people in the schools she attended. She never participated in extracurricular activities nor had any friends. Schoolwork was the only thing she did to kill time. From time to time, she would spend time with her family though, just on the weekends. Her family was usually busy at work or with housework.
"I'm hungry." Ritsuko yawned and stretched her arms. She looked out the tall glass window. It was dark outside. If all the lights in the city were extinguished, it would be pitchblack outside. Earlier Mokuba had arrived at the company, trying to plead with his brother to take a break. The latter just declined and apologized. Ritsuko overheard their conversation. She felt sorry for the younger Kaiba. Also, jealous. Secretly, she wanted Mokuba to invite her to dinner. He left dispirited. Ritsuko, wanting to be friendly, said good-bye to him. He looked up at her like he didn't notice she was there before.
"Amano-san, you're still here?" He sounded surprised. She nodded, not looking particularly happy.
"I'd be fired if I left early," she sighed. She jabbed her thumb towards Kaiba's office, sticking her tongue out. Mokuba chuckled. "I'm sorry, Mokuba. We're sort of in the same boat. I wanted to dine with my sister, too."
"It must be hard working for my brother," he said, starting a conversation. "You have homework and you have to stay late at night."
"Oh, didn't I tell you? I'm a high school dropout." She said casually. She took out her wallet and took out a bill. She walked out the door, down to the hallway where a vending machine stood. Mokuba followed her.
"Why did my brother hire you then? You should have at least a high school education."
"That's simple. I'm qualified. Being a secretary isn't exactly rocket science, you know." She pressed the button for a chocolate bar after putting the money in. She smiled as she said this.
"Do you live alone?" Mokuba's question surprised her. She blinked in confusion.
"Usually high school dropouts are disowned by their parents."
"If I'm not mistaken, your brother doesn't appear in high school often, does he? He's still the CEO of a successful company. He's not a graduate of high school. Why should his secretary have a high school diploma?" Ritsuko was getting a bit annoyed. He caught the hint.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way." Ritsuko waved away his apology.
"It's okay. People always look at me with disapproval when they learn I'm a dropout. My parents approve of my working. They know I'm capable." She said, almost to herself, taking a bite of the chocolate bar. Just her luck. It was stale.
She looked at the watch. It blinked exactly twelve. She pressed the intercom button. "Mr. Kaiba, I'm finished with my work. Do you need me to mail anything or do you have something for me to do?" There was no answer. "Er...Mr. Kaiba? Hello, is anybody there?" Complete silence. She decided to test something. "Mr. Kaiba, are you gay?" She braced herself for his angry response. Nothing. "Are you ignoring me on purpose, sir? Don't tell me you already left without telling me?" Again, no response. An angry thought hit her. What if she was right?
She stood up abruptly, knocking her chair over. She opened the door to his office, expecting to see him look at her with contempt. Instead, the sight in front of her shocked her. "He's sleeping?" Ritsuko said. That was what it looked like anyway. His head laid on top of the papers that he was supposed to be looking over, his right hand still holding a pen rested on the desk. His other arm was drooping. This is the first time I've seen him napping. Well, of course. What kind of boss falls asleep on the job himself? If I took his picture right now, I'd probably make millions selling it to girly magazines. Hey, is he drooling? And on important papers, too. I should probably leave now but he'll be in a worse mood tomorrow if he found out those papers were ruined with his drool. Worse mood means I take all the abuse.
She sighed, walking towards his desk. She stood behind him and gently took the pen out of his hand. His grip was strong even when he was resting. She finally wrested it from his grip and set it down. His hand shifted but he remained sleeping. She took his left drooping arm and rested it on the desk so he would be more comfortable. Here came the hard part: extracting the papers from underneath his head. "Okay," she whispered. "I can definitely do this. I memorized the periodical table, I can definitely do this." Slowly, she reached her hand out to him. Kaiba stirred, mumbling sleepily and turned the other way. Ritsuko hit the floor, thinking he was waking up. Nothing happened, she whispered. "Mr. Kaiba?"
He didn't answer. She was glad but she was in pain. She fell hard on her butt. Rubbing her aching behind, she stood up and made sure. He wasn't moving. She straightened herself out. "Now to get this over with." She stood beside him, tapping him. He didn't stir. She proceeded with her plan. She put her hand under his hand. She was facing the back of his head. Gently she lifted him up enough so that she could take the papers. This was proving to be hard. Her arm was shaking under his head. She put him down gently. "Oh, Kami-sama! That hurts!" She whined quietly, shaking her arm. Maybe I can pull the papers out. She put her second plan in action. She stood next to him again, pulling the corners of the papers with all her might. His head was sliding along with the papers. "Damn!" She cursed. I should just wake him up. Then again, he'd probably say: Miss Amano, what are you doing in my office? GET OUT!
The phone rang. Ritsuko grabbed it before it rang a second time. Kaiba was still in a deep sleep. "Hello? This is Kaiba Corporation. How can I help you?" She whispered.
"Hello? Imouto-chan," Kyoko yawned. "Why aren't you home yet? I just woke up and checked on you. Your room is still empty."
"Onee-san, I need help." She explained the whole thing to Kyoko. The latter exclaimed.
"Just come home! Who cares if he drools on his papers? He can't blame it on you. It's his fault for falling asleep. If dad finds out you're not home, he's going to force you to quit. Remember his conditions for working. One of them is no working overtime. I covered for you today but if he finds out you're not home..."
"He never wakes up at this hour. Besides, your boss might be understanding but my boss is different. He'll find some way to blame it on me. Plus, my behind is killing me. His head is heavy."
"Um...Okay." Kyoko said, afraid to ask how her sister knew that. That was pretty random. "Just ditch your boss and get your stuff. I'm coming to pick you up. If you finished your work like you said, your boss won't be able to say anything." She hung up. Ritsuko did the same.
"All right, Mr. Kaiba. I'm going to have to do this as quick as possible." Ritsuko said, rubbing her hands together. She lifted his head again with her hand and used her other hand to snatch the papers. She succeeded. She smiled and set his head down gently. She made a face, looking at the drool. She grabbed a tissue and wiped at the papers, making 'ugh' sounds. She set the papers on the corner of his desk neatly. "Finally, I'm done for the day." Ritsuko exited the office.
It didn't take long for Ritsuko to collect her stuff. She sat behind her desk, waiting for Kyoko. It usually took about half-an-hour to get to KaibaCorp from her house. I hope nothing happened to onee-san. Thirty minutes already passed. She yawned, covering her mouth. Her eyes were tearing from exhaustion. Her boss might've been content with sleeping in his office but she wanted to go home and have a warm meal. Thinking about her boss, she just remembered.
"I almost forgot!" She cried. She was supposed to mail some important documents for him. She searched her desk for them. They weren't there. She tiptoed into Kaiba's office. She probably left them when she was supposed to take them with her before her lunch break.
Nearing his desk, she noticed his sleeping position changed. This time he was resting his head on his arms. She ignored his light breathing and searched on his desk, the bright moonlight helped. It wouldn't be wise to turn on a light. Turning over papers, she couldn't find the envelopes. "Where are they? He put them right here," she whispered, frustrated. "Wait. Did I mail them?" Ritsuko tried to remember. Did she go to the post office and forgot all about it? Her hand knocked over Kaiba's pen on the floor. It fell underneath his desk. She bent down to pick it up.
Meanwhile, Kyoko got out of her car, closing the door. She ran to the entrance where the lights were still on. On the way to KaibaCorp, Kyoko's car ran out of gas. She had to call her mom's cellphone and discreetly told her not to wake her dad up. She explained that Ritsuko was still at work. Her mom understood. If her husband knew Ritsuko wasn't home, he'd have a tantrum. She asked her mom to drive and help her. That's why she was late. After her car was filled, her mom drove back home and Kyoko continued to her destination.
Kyoko pulled the handle. It was locked. She knocked on the glass doors. "Hello, is anybody in there?" A janitor that was mopping up the floor, looked out. He signaled for her to leave. Muffled by the glass doors, he said, "It's closed. Go home." She knocked again.
"Please open up. My sister's still in there. Her name is Ritsuko Amano, your boss' secretary."
"No, go home. Only KaibaCorp employees are allowed in the building after hours." He argued.
Jennifer, who had to stay late with her co-workers, was just coming out of the elevator. She blinked, seeing the janitor angrily brandishing his mop at someone.
"Uh...Arakawa, are you all right?" She said, avoiding the parts where he mopped. He pointed to the person outside. "She claims her sister is still in here. I just want to finish mopping, lock the doors and go home." He said.
She looked at where he was pointing at. "Is that-Kyoko?" Jennifer rushed forward and remembered. Again, she walked to the dried parts of the floor. "That's Ritsuko's sister. Let her in, Arakawa." He cursed loudly and dropped his mop. Jennifer sighed. No one ever did like him. He took out a large ring of keys and took out a particular one. Kyoko thanked him but he didn't respond. He just went back to mopping.
"Aheh Just ignore him, he's like that," Jennifer said, directing Kyoko closest to the elevator. Ritsuko's sister didn't like the janitor already. "Kaiba didn't let Ritsuko go home, huh?" Kyoko didn't have to nod. Jennifer already knew the answer.
"She's not supposed to work late hours. Dad would force her to quit if he knew," she said with irritation. Somebody's cranky, thought Jennifer. "She's just sixteen-years-old. Your boss should be smart enough to know that it's dangerous for girls her age to go home this late. Dad only let her take this job because it's the only thing that made her happy. What floor does imouto-chan work on?" Jennifer went with her up the elevator. On the way up, Kyoko was grumbling about Ritsuko's boss. The other woman can tell she really cares about her little sister.
"You know, Ritsuko is a strange girl." Jennifer finally got a word in edgewise. The statement surprised the older Amano daughter. Then she turned away. The brunette woman continued. "Everybody here except Kaiba says Ritsuko should be in high school. Although, whenever anyone mentions school, she gets sad. I don't want to be nosy but did something happened to her? Another thing; it's not just me. Everybody else notices it. She never talks about friends her age. It's not exactly normal. If my daughter acted that way, I would be worried."
"If you don't mind, I don't want to talk about it," Kyoko said quietly. She crossed her arms and waited until they reached their destination. An awkward silence hung in the atmosphere.
Ritsuko bent down to pick up the pen. Her fingers reached out for it. When Kaiba moved again, one of the wheels of his chair trapped the hem of her black skirt. She was unaware of this. Her fingers brushed against the pen. She pushed her body forward and she grasped the pen. When she backed out from under the desk, she found she couldn't move. She looked back and squinted in the moonlight. Damn, my skirt's caught! No! She turned and kneeled, trying to free her skirt from the chair. To no avail. Contrary to his thin frame, he was quite heavy. Trapped under her boss' desk and her skirt was underneath his chair, this day was beginning to be a bad day. Could it get any worse? Kaiba muttered sleepily about 'being busy' and pushed in his chair. She gulped. If he pushed in anymore, she would be trapped in between his legs. That was not a position she wanted to be seen in or be in. Not only would she be fired but her co-workers would not look at her the same way again.
She sighed, calling Jennifer. The said woman looked mortified as Ritsuko explained her strange situation. Kyoko noticed her face.
"What's wrong? Who was that?"
"Uh, that was your sister. She wants you to wait by the vending machine. She and Mr. Kaiba are just finishing up some work. She says she'll be right out," Jennifer said nervously. Kyoko looked at her.
"So he woke up, huh?" She asked plainly. The brunette nodded.
"So the vending machine's this way just down the hall." Jennifer showed her the way. Kyoko agreed then Jennifer was going to open the double doors.
"You're not coming with me?" Kyoko asked.
"I will but right now I want to talk to Mr. Kaiba. It's about an um... upcoming project. Yeah, that's it. It's a new game that we're coming up with. It's top secret so you can't listen to our conversation." Jennifer pushed Kyoko in the right direction.
"Fine. You just tell that jackass not to keep my sister this late anymore!" With that, Kyoko stormed down the hallway. Jennifer sighed out of relief. She opened the double doors. Shadows covered half of Ritsuko's desk and chair. There was another set of doors that actually led to Kaiba's office. She crossed the room to the doors. They were already open. Since they were already open...
She went in the office. As she neared the desk, she saw Kaiba's slumped figure.
"Jennifer, is that you?" Ritsuko's voice whispered. She had heard footsteps. Jennifer walked closer to the desk. "You were supposed to close the doors and knock on them!" Ritsuko groaned.
"If I wake him up, he'll find you under there. How are you going to explain that?" She asked. Ritsuko huffed. "Besides, I'll get you out of there."
In the end, Jennifer got Ritsuko out by lightly pushing Kaiba's chair a little to the left. Her black skirt was freed. She wiggled out from under the desk.
"Thanks. Now I can finally get home." Ritsuko sighed and stretched. When she looked back at her peaceful boss, she wondered how could he sleep through all this? She then noticed a pill bottle on the edge of his desk. Picking it up, she read the label. It was a bottle of prescribed sleeping pills. He takes sleeping pills? Then it dawned on her. "Oh, the stuff he wanted me to mail!" She rifled through his out-box and found them.
"Come on. Let's get out of here," Jennifer said, putting an arm around Ritsuko. The both of them left the office. The blonde slowly closed the double doors behind her. Suddenly, she found she pitied her irritating boss.
Finally, the three females left the KaibaCorp building. Jennifer drove a separate road to her house. While Ritsuko sat in the backseat while Kyoko drove home. She was lecturing her little sister. Kyoko's words went in one ear and out the other. Instead, she was thinking of her job interview with Kaiba. After he had heard her case, Kaiba had decided to give her a chance at his company. He wouldn't be able to begin to fathom how grateful Ritsuko was. She's still grateful. She was probably not one of the greatest secretaries he had but...
"Onee-san, is it okay if we make a stop?" Ritsuko asked when she spotted a brightly lit store. Good. It's still open.
At 1: 30 A.M., Ritsuko and Kyoko got home safely. The former got what she wanted from an all-night store. Unfortunately for her, when they returned home, they found their dad sitting on the sofa. He was furious. His arms were folded and he was staring right at the two, more at Ritsuko. Her older sister tried to cover for her but he wouldn't let her get a word in edgewise. So it was a showdown between Ritsuko Amano and Isamu Amano, two of the most stubborn and prideful people in the household. The short version was that Ritsuko didn't keep her part of the bargain so Isamu was forcing her to quit her job. It was a mess. His wife and Ritsuko's mom woke up from all the yelling. Kyoko and Emi were referees yet again. Finally, the blonde broke down, sitting with her face in her hands. She was sobbing. She felt miserable. She never thought her desire to be out of school would ruin her relationship with her dad.
"Dad, stop it! You're making her cry!" Kyoko yelled in midst of the confusion. She sat down beside her little sister and held her. Her sister has always been there for her, Ritsuko would always be grateful.
"Dear, stop this argument! I can't stand this anymore," Emi screamed. Ritsuko looked up and wiped her tears. She smiled at her supporting sister's concerned face.
"Imouto-chan..." Kyoko said, looking up at Ritsuko, who had just risen from the sofa.
"I'm sorry, mom. I'm going to end this argument right here and right now," she said. She had on a bittersweet smile. Her dad smiled, too. He saw that she was going to give in. That's what he thought anyway.
"Finally, you see it my way." He said in relief. "Do you want me to call your principal this afternoon and tell him you're going back to school?" She shook her head. A fresh tear rolled down her cheek but she still had on a sad smile.
"Dad, mom, Kyoko-onee-san," she said, bowing before them. "I'm sorry for all the grief I caused all of you. I see now that my eccentric needs are tearing this family apart. I want-" She stopped herself from emitting a sob. "I want to move out."
"What?" Kyoko and Isamu gasped in unison. Ritsuko's mom, however, silently dropped on the sofa. The teenager continued, her head still bowed. "And I don't want any of your money. I'll make it on my own. I know that I might not make it. I know it may be an imprudent decision but I can't stand you holding the reigns of my life anymore, dad!" She burst out. "I sincerely thank you for all your love and for taking care of me all these years."
"No, Rit-Rit...What? Why? You can't! Do you have any idea how dangerous it is out there?" Kyoko tried to dissuade her decision. "If you left, we would be so worried...Dad? Mom?"
Isamu stood up. "Fine, you want to be emancipated. You've got it. I'll let you go through with this. I expect you out of here by this evening." He didn't look at anyone as he said this. Ritsuko smiled.
"Don't worry. I'll be out by lunch." She walked out of the living room as if nothing happened. Kyoko faced her dad but his gaze was not on anyone. Emi seemed to be in her own reverie.
"You're fucking kidding, right? Dad? You're not going to really let her go?"
He looked up at her, tears in his brown eyes. Behind them, it hid a pain. "I don't know what to do anymore. If this is what she wants, I'll let her go...If letting her go means she'll be happier then I'll do it. Kyoko, I know you think I'm making a foolish decision. But you'll never know what it's like to be a parent and never succeeding in making your child happy. I got her dress-up dolls, coloring books, stuffed animals, the latest toys; she was never happy to get any of them. All this time I've been trying to make her normal, repressing her intelligence has made her unhappy. I know that she resents me for that. This is one old man that can't do any more for his child. It's time I let her go."
Kyoko almost cried. Her father's weakness was showing. All these years, he had thought his youngest child hated him. That wasn't true. She wanted to scream. That's not true, dad! Ritsuko loves you so much. That's why she attended schools without complaints until now. She did it all for you.
"Kyoko, just leave your father alone. If that is what he decides, we'll let Ritsuko go," Emi piped up. Her voice was shaky but it was the final decision. Kyoko remained silent.
So I guess imouto-chan is really going to move out. Kyoko thought sadly, sitting on the sofa.
A/N: Please review.