Disclaimer: And we're powering through!

Misaki: You've been writing this story for years and you still can't just write a damned disclaimer?

Chey: It's like you're just figuring this out.

Misaki: Just say it. Please.

Chey: Well…since you asked so nicely, I do not own Junjou Romantica.

Chapter Forty Four

Misaki found Nowaki in the children's ward, having just come off a thirty minute nap, midway through a thirty-six hour shift. He spent twenty minutes checking on patients and passing information to other doctors while Misaki watched before taking him down to the cafeteria. They were situated and Miki was settled in a high chair before they said anything beyond a polite greeting. Misaki poked idly at his food for a moment, then said, "I think Usagi-san and I might break up."

Nowaki jerked in surprise. "Why?" he asked, examining the young man before him. He looked exhausted and weary and so very lost.

"We fight all the time now. He won't touch me, he obsesses over his family's movements and I can't take it anymore." Misaki swallowed. "He loves Miki-chan, I know that. And, I think he still loves me."

"I sense a But coming," Nowaki said when the other boy fell silent.

Misaki nodded. "But I don't think he's still in love with me."

"I don't know Usami-san all that well, but from what Hiro-san has told me, he does love you with everything he has. As for his family, I'm afraid I don't understand. I've seen his mansion when I went to Hiro-san's house, but that's all I know."

Misaki took a deep breath and poured out everything he had ever learned about the Usami family. From the scandal of Haruhiko's parentage, to Fuyuhiko's manipulations and through the fiasco that was Usagi-san's cousins, Kaoruko and Mizuki. When he was done, he took another long inhale and huffed it out, slumping in the chair.

Nowaki nodded at last and said, "I understand."

Misaki sat up. "You do?" he asked in astonishment.

"Yes, though you have to look at it from Usami-chichiue's point of view. Four people in the next generation. Four options for the next chairman of the Usami Group. One is a girl and pastry chef who refuses to marry in any arranged fashion. She is out immediately. One has become dangerously Westernized, by the way you describe him and he is more interested in being with Kaoruko-san. Usami-san's older brother wants to be an architect and has no interest in the politics that he would have to manipulate in order to control the Usami Group. That leaves Usami, himself. Fiction novelist, attention starved, man child, homosexual, all things that wouldn't be good for the Chairman's position." Nowaki took a bite of food and swallowed, giving himself a moment to think through his next statement.

"And yet, he is passionate, manipulative, cold, exceedingly polite when he wants to be, and can work a room, make people want to listen to him. He can play the political game that the others cannot. Those aspects make him the right choice. And, judging by everything you've just told me, Usami-Chichiue has tried his hardest to eradicate the four things that have no place in his world. Tried and failed." He stared deep into Misaki's eyes, making him blink away sudden blurriness. "And I'm willing to bet that's thanks to you. Usami wants you and the things that don't make him a good leader, far more than the money he throws around to make problems go away."

"But he's changing," Misaki said, his voice little more than a whisper. "The more he fights his father, the more he becomes like him."

"Have you tried telling him that?"

"Not in so many words," Misaki said dryly. He splayed his fingers in Mikiko's hair. She looked at him with her wide, vibrant eyes and almost smiled at him. He closed his eyes and focused on breathing. "Sensei," he murmured, "I want him back the way he was, as much as I hate to say it." He blushed, faintly. "If that doesn't happen, I don't know what I'm going to do, but it won't be staying there, I won't be able to stand it."

"You've left before," Nowaki replied. "And you were miserable. Is that misery better than the one you're in now?"

Misaki shook his head, but it wasn't a negative. He didn't know, not for sure. But he did know that now he needed to talk to Usagi-san, see if their relationship could be fixed. Find the fissure—gaping maw was a better metaphor—between them and bridge it until it closed once more.

If the maw wasn't permanent.

Nowaki's pager buzzed and he excused himself. Misaki nodded his thanks for lunch and collected his girl and diaper bag before heading home. The office door was firmly shut when he arrived. He fed Mikiko. He'd noticed definite shrinkage in his chest. Perhaps it was time to start weaning her off of breast milk. It would certainly help him get his hormones in check if he was no longer producing the damn stuff. Miki yawned, interrupting his thoughts. He set her gently on the floor and pulled his shirt on. He was adjusting the hem when he paused, looked down, and stripped it back off. Usagi-san might be more amenable to his wishes if he had no shirt on.

He turned violently pink at the very thought and yanked the shirt on once more. Mikiko, thinking this was some sort of deranged game, tugged ineffectually at her onesie until Misaki, fully clothed and seriously considering putting on something with longer sleeves, opened it up, put on a fresh diaper and closed it, before scooping her up to put her in her cradle upstairs.

Once she was settled, he made sure the monitor was functional and then headed out, closing the door softly. It took only a moment to reach Usagi's office, but he stood outside it for what felt like an age. At last, he knocked.

"Come in," his lover called, without any sort of inflection.

Misaki opened the door and stepped in, closing it behind him. "We need to talk."

Usagi turned from the computer, looking haggard and drained and very unshaven. Misaki had seen him only a few hours ago, how had he not noticed that Usagi-san seemed just as messed up as he was?

"I suppose we do," Akihiko replied. "I suppose we do."

To Be Continued…

Chey: For those of you who don't speak Japanese, adding ue to chichi, ani, or haha(mother) suggests additional respect.

Nowaki: I'm very respectful.

Hiroki: Not to me, you damned brat.

Nowaki: That's different.

Hiroki: How?

Nowaki: Because I love you.

Hiroki: *blushing* Baka, shut up.

Chey: Aww, love goo. Readers, I love you all, thank you for putting up with me. Please review and be awesome.

Thanks for reading!