A/N: Because we're almost never shown Takano's POV in the story, I like to imagine how he might think or feel. Want to do a proper perspective flip but am too lazy so I start with the key moment when the plot kicked into gear. I dislike the way Takano forced himself on Onodera in ep.3 but when I realize what a messed up situation he was in, I cannot be really angry at him.
In a split second
Masamune Takano distractedly listened to the random chatter of his subordinates. It sure felt nice to have a relaxing working day even if another hellish time was waiting for them just around the corner. The newcomer with zero experience with manga would be a problem though. At least the guy seemed to be hardworker. Going through their whole manga collection? Not bad for someone who was so annoyed at being assigned to Emerald the day before.
Everything was fine and dandy until Onodera said "Oh, I used to read all the books in the library in high school. It was like a hobby."
All of the vague and fragmented pieces of his memory sorted themselves out and fitted together into a complete picture. The person he was trying to recall finally emerged. A junior who confessed to him out of nowhere in the library of his highschool. The boy whose presence he had always felt before that sudden confession. The boy who always blushed when being around him. Ritsu...
He had to look, really look at Onodera. Could that shy delicate schoolboy grow into this impertinent frowning guy? The two of them indeed looked similar but the way they behaved was a different story altogether. The adorably sweet boy he knew would never have snapped back against a superior the way this guy did. So far Onodera had always kept a polite front but in truth he looked as if he would have bitten someone in any minute.
He had gazed either too long or too intensely because Onodera looked up with a puzzled look and asked "What's wrong?" That question shook Masamune from his thoughts. He instinctively replied "Nothing", taking his gaze off Onodera but still discreetly observing the guy from the corner of his eyes. As he half expected, Onodera scowled and returned to the manga catalogue.
Not until then had Masamune realized that his heart had been racing like mad. Just now when Onodera looked up at him without any trace of dissatisfaction or defiance the guy had been wearing from the day before, the newcomer was indeed Ritsu. His Ritsu. How could he not recognize his highschool boyfriend earlier? He knew he had met the newcomer somewhere. And that first name. Ritsu. Ritsu.
The first time after who knows how long in his adult life, Masamune felt dizzy when a swarm of questions flooded his mind. How, how on earth did his ex end up here in the very department he supervised? Why now of all time? A faint ache arose on his head where he had been kicked on that fateful day as well as in his heart. Why did Ritsu deny knowing him after what they had been through? Did he really forget? Was it really just a game to him?
Masamune's rational and composed side berated him for getting worked up so easily. He was no longer that naive youth who was easily rattled by every up and down in his life. So what if the ex-boyfriend who had dumped him re-appeared? The guy did not even remember him or want to admit knowing him. What was the use of bringing up their highschool relationship then? Teenage love seldom last anyway. That guy had moved on and so had he.
Masamune's hand tightened into a fist. No, he could not let this slide. He did not even know why they had broken up. He wanted an explanation and an apology. No decent human being would just suddenly break up with his partner and disappeared like that.
Then maybe, maybe they could pick up where they had left and continue their relationship, a part of him which probably remained from his teenage self wistfully added. He mentally snorted. Who would want such an uncute guy like Onodera? Yes, Onodera, not Ritsu. The boy he loved was no more. That thought made him strangely sad. He too was not the Masamune back then. They had changed. Both of them.
Anyway, the confrontation would have to wait. They were no longer carefree highschool students. There was work and Masamune would not want anything to screw up the precarious cycle he and the team had worked so hard to build and maintain. He had to break Onodera for the duties here first. He would kill the guy if he proved to be a failure, ex-boyfriend or not. A bit more time to think carefully about how he should treat Onodera would not hurt either. For now, let them be simply editor-in-chief and subordinate. That would make his life easier.
Still, Masamune could not help but be moved on the way home when he saw an earnest Onodera reading through a pile of books to get how stories in shoujo manga worked. That was his Ritsu. The honest Ritsu who tried so hard at everything he did.
Masamune sighed and shook his head. Life. Hated. Him.