Title: Jaded Memories
Author: Miyuki Meiru/ Mai Sasaki
Summary: I saw headlights, heard an almighty ear-breaking screech, and then nothing. I woke up in an entirely different life than I ever imagined. –Onodera Ritsu
Warnings: This piece of fiction contains boy's love.
Spoilers from certain episodes.
Author's note: I'm so sorry for the extremely late update. I didn't update for like a year? I guess my readers might be frustrated with the slow updates. I'm going for a trip on the next two weeks so I'll start working on my next chapter when I get back. I'm starting to think more of the drama that I've just written in this chapter. Younger Ritsu is so much interesting to write with all the naivete and his innocence.
Disclaimer: I do not own Sekaiichi Hatsukoi.
Chapter Seven: Past and the Present
My second day at work was better, at least now I could do the typesetting properly. Kisa-san had instructed me and lucky for me, it seemed that my hands were still used to this kind of work. Takano-san had insisted to let me observe again for this day but I protested. He was frustrated at me- muttering about how I was back to my stubborn self- which confused me endlessly. We hadn't talked the entire train ride and had been ignoring each other since we arrived at work. Now that I think about it, I was being unreasonable and Takano-san had a point.
"Ricchan!" Kisa-san called, "you're spacing out."
"Oh… I'm very sorry. What are we talking about again?" I asked, deeply buried in shame.
"We were talking about Mutou-sensei's manuscript. The heroine goes into a date, it's a bit of a cliché don't you think?" He asked.
"Well, they had a trip to the aquarium, a movie and lunch… is that really cliché?"
"Honestly Ricchan, I haven't realized how much you're missing until now. Seriously, you haven't gone into a date?!"
I was blushing madly, Kisa-san's outburst was way too much for me to handle. Come to think of it, I may have gone into a date before, it was just that I couldn't remember anything about it.
"It's safe to go for a cliché… but Mutou-sensei's manuscript lacks some substance. It feels like something's missing out there and it's an editor's job to find out what it is."
"T-thank you, Kisa-san"
"And while finding that missing piece, you may as well enjoy a date or two."
"I'm just kidding! Don't take me so seriously!" Kisa-san laughed.
After that awkward conversation with Kisa- san, I went into the nearest vending machine to get a drink. I bought black latte which, by now had been my one of my personal favorites.
"Onodera, it's nice to see you again."
"I'm v-very s-sorry but I couldn't go d-drinking with you t-tonight," I reluctantly said, trying to avoid his eyes as I remained facing the floor. It was uncomfortable enough to make me run and lock myself away.
Hasegawa-san shifted his gaze; I tipped my head to peek if he was mad. He wasn't mad but he wasn't happy either, I'd label his expression as disappointment. I felt guilty but I know that if I gave in to his offer I'd feel even guiltier to face Takano-san.
"You know it's a good opportunity to get to know each other," he said still trying to convince me, which I already knew, wouldn't work on me. It was horrible enough to see him trying.
"Um… well I still have to work on my manuscript…"I said trying to hide my nervousness with laughter.
"Some other time then…" He said with a hopeful face. "How about this weekend, I know a very good place… we could-"
"Sorry, but this guy's occupied for the whole weekend." I was surprised with the sudden interruption of a familiar voice. Takano-san was standing right behind me with a pissed expression.
"I see; I do hope you won't give Onodera-san a difficult time." Hasegawa-san replied.
"I only give an appropriate amount of work." Takano-san sneered.
"I better go now. It's good to see you, Onodera-san. You're welcome in the Literature Department so feel free to drop in any time." Hasegawa-san gave a smile before he left, leaving me sighing in relief.
"T-takano-san… that was-"He pulled me into a tight hug.
"W-we're at work…" I reminded him. I flushed, "we should do this kind of things at home."
"Who cares?" He snickered.
"T-takano-san!" I tried to distance myself from him.
"If anybody dares to snatch you, I think this will give them a damn good show." He said before pulling me again into another hug. I swear I heard a squeal or two… or was that me squealing in my mind? I didn't know. The only thing that I could think of was senpai's hot breath tickling my earlobe.
"I think we should get going." Takano-san said, pissed off when he heard some noise coming near us.
Takano-san had insisted to cook again, this time it was curry. It came to my thoughts that somehow, Takano-san's spoiling me by taking care of almost all the house chores.
"I have no idea." I slumped at the table where Mutou-sensei's manuscript laid. "There's something missing …"
Takano-san eyed me suspiciously, his lips curved into a smirk. "You want me to help you?"
"Thank you…" I smiled at him. Takano-san took the seat next to me. He gently flipped Mutou-sensei's manuscript while I stared at his serious face. Everything about him was still the same, his expression and the way he looked like when he reads something. Those were the things that I came to love.
"She's cramping too much panels in one page. It disrupts the momentum of the story. It would be better if you cross this panel out while you transfer this one to the next page." I watched his hands moved.
"Ritsu?" The sound of his voice calling my name made me snap out of my thoughts.
"Is there a problem?"
"Ritsu, tell me what's bothering you" his tone was reprimanding yet there was a hint of concern. Takano-san's eyes narrowed as I sat beside him frozen and fiddled by the moment.
"It's silly," I looked away from him. "I still couldn't get shoujo manga, it's all about love and sparks…and all those sappy lines. It's manga and it's way too different in real life."
"That's it?" Takano-san didn't laugh, he only stared at me with a puzzled look. "After all this time, you couldn't even get simple things like that?"
"Is there something wrong with that?" I asked with a pout. I was starting to be pissed off. He didn't laugh but somehow I wished he could have just laughed at me.
"I'm not teasing you or anything but just a while ago you were just so cute."
"S-senpai!" Before I could protest anymore, I was pulled into an embrace. I could feel his warmth and I could feel his slow, even breaths right into my ear. If only we could stay like this forever I would have taken the chance. "It's settled. We're going on a date this weekend."
I pulled away from him, "What?!"
"You heard me. We're going on a date." Takano-san repeated.
"It's so sudden and I don't really know what to do…"
"It's alright, I'll be the one to decide our itinerary… or rather, is there some place that you'd like to go?"
"I don't really know…"I replied with a blush. It felt very unfair that Takano-san would only be the one who'd bear all the planning. I knew that he'd be busy too but it was just that I didn't have any idea how a date should go. Clearly, it wouldn't be like those novels… reality would be a little different.
"It will be fine. You don't have to worry about anything." He smirked as he ruffled my hair. Takano-san was very reliable and he liked to take care of me.
"Takano-san…" I paused, "I think it's unfair that you're the only one who'll make the plans…let's make a promise." I could feel his curious stare at me, even though I couldn't clearly see his face I knew that he was amused. "The next time we go on a d-date, I'll be the one who'll do the planning… Is that fine?"
"So that would make it two dates in a row."
"I m-mean in a very far future…"
It was really unbelievable to think that I was in a real date with Saga-senpai… or rather Takano-san. I stole another glance at him right before blushing and looking away. We were walking side by side, and if I were braver I'd probably hold his hand. Still, the idea of going out with him and being his lover was just like some sort of dreamland. There were awful nights too, where in I dream about waking up, and then I was fifteen once again.
I felt something brushed along the tip of my fingers. I could feel Takano-san's fingers slowly locking into mine. We weren't talking but somehow it felt like our minds were connected, more like our souls were being linked by our emotions. I think I was getting the hang of reading too much shoujo manga.
If only I could hold his hand like this.
Takano-san stopped, "We're here." He was still holding my hand as I scanned the place. It was such a huge movie house. My memory of this place was different; I guess they had too many renovations that I almost didn't recognize the place anymore.
"What are we going watch?" I asked, trying to ignore the loud thumping of my heart.
"Ooh… that sounds interesting."
"Surely it does. You think I'll choose a boring movie? Come on, I've had enough boredom piled up from Ichinose Erika's work." He had such a serious look in his face. If he were another person, I could've felt intimidated and would have fled as fast as I could.
I laughed at him, "And you were the one who told me not to talk about our work today."
"No, really, it's okay to whine about things if that would make you feel better."
"We're on a real date and here I am trying to ruin it."
"We haven't started yet…"
The movie house was quite full with people and especially couples which made me a little nervous. Takano-san bought drinks from the nearby vending machine. There were still some noise from the crowd, as for us, we weren't speaking to each other. Once again, Takano-san must've felt my nervousness when he held my hand just like before we went in. He only gazed at me, he didn't say anything yet it was already enough to make my heart beat fast.
The lights turned off completely as the movie started. I tried to focus my attention on the movie but I couldn't help it but to take secretive glances at Takano-san who was quietly watching beside me. It was really an interesting movie and the graphics wasn't bad either.
"I'm starving," Takano-san said as we walked out of the movie house.
"Me too…" I simply said as I tried to hide another blush. I started to be more comfortable around him but there were still some points in our relationship that seemed surreal. We were walking for about fifteen minutes when Takano-san stopped.
"Here we are." He simply said.
I stared wide eyed at the very familiar fast food chain. "This place…"
"I think I've told you before that I'll take you to this place once again. You liked the food here, right?"
"Yes…" How come he could still remember those tiny details? For Takano-san, it had been ten years since we came here, but for me who had my fifteen-year-old memories, it was just like yesterday.
"And you don't have to worry about those 'questions' anymore. I'm going to order for both of us." He suggested before a smile plastered on his face.
"Takano-san…" I stopped.
"Is there something wrong?" I looked up into his worried gaze.
"Nothing. I'm just so happy." I smiled, "so happy…"
"I'm very happy too, Ritsu."
We spent our lunch time talking about Usami Akihiko's books. Takano-san had been very patient and kind to me. He listened to me as I babbled endlessly about my favourite literary works.
"Ne, Takano-san… what do you think of Sumi Ryouchi's works?" I asked.
"I've read all of them. They were nice but still Usami Akihiko's works are more appealing for me."He said before drinking his cola.
"I think so too. Usami-sensei's writing is really fascinating."
"Maybe next time, we could go to one of his book signing events. He rarely have one since Isaka-san said that he isn't very cooperative when it comes to company events."
After we had lunch, Takano-san brought me to a more familiar place.
'I love you… senpai…'
The library where I confessed to him looked almost the same as it was ten years ago. The old bookshelves were still there, and the very same arrangement of tables. Takano-san held my arm and led me into the rows of bookshelves. There were only a few people in the library, and it was really fortunate that nobody saw my flustered face. He suddenly stopped, and looked at me with those shining hazel eyes. He smiled as he held both of my hands, locking his fingers into mine.
"This is where it all started."
I scanned my surroundings. I gasped in surprise when I realized where I was standing.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
"Takano-san… I-" He cut me off by placing his index finger on my lips.
"This place holds so many memories," he said. "This spot holds the most special one. You do remember right? This is where you told me that you love me."
"I do remember…" I smiled at the nostalgic feeling. "I remember being overflowed by my feelings."
"That was ten years ago." Takano-san said, his eyes only focused on me. It felt like his gaze was melting me slowly. "I love you, Ritsu. I want to be with you. I want to take care of you and make you happy."
He pulled me into an embrace. I was surprised at his sudden confession. "I've always loved you. I loved you before, and I still love you now." I whispered slowly.
"I won't let you leave me." He said, still locking me between his arms. "Just remember that." I could feel his hot breath tickling my ear.
"I will always stay by your side, Taka-…"
"Call me Masamune."
"You could drop the 'senpai' off."
My heart was bursting with all these mixed feelings for him.
He gently pressed his lips into mine, I started to move my lips, as I kissed him back. He deepened the kiss by pulling me closer. We both parted, as we catch our breaths from that kiss.
Takano-san was simply staring at me, not saying anything. Hand in hand, we left the library that held so many memories for both of us.
We had ice cream and played some random games at an arcade. He brought me to different places, like an old museum where we both enjoyed checking out the different archives. We went for a drive while listening to a pop song that I wasn't familiar with. I had no idea where we would be going.
'Are you satisfied?'
'Huh? Yes, but I'm fine if you are happy.'
"The view is so beautiful." I simply said in wonder. The whole city could be seen. The bright lights and the huge buildings, everything seemed to be small.
'I just wanted to see this with you…'
"I've always wanted to come here with you." He said as I blushed, tightening my grip on the metal bar.
"Back then, I'm always thinking about how our date would go. It was childish."
My eyes widened, "Not really. I'm also thinking of things like that."
It was a memory. We had been here before. I was here with Takano-san.
"Snow…" I said slowly. Takano-san's eyes widened as he heard my voice.
"It was snowing at that time right?" I smiled at him.
"Are you starting to remember?" He asked as he held my arm, pulling me closer to him.
"Yes, it was so cold but when you touched me… it was warm." I felt his grip tightening on my arm. "I can't remember everything. We were talking and then…" I stopped as flashback hit me.
Everything was almost covered in snow. It was beautiful.
I felt Takano-san's lips on mine.
He was so warm.
'What do you mean, 'why'? You have Yokozawa-san'
'Hey, why do you always bring him up?'
'Because he told me that you were going out so…'
"Ritsu?" I snapped from my thoughts upon hearing his worried voice.
"I'm sorry, I spaced out…" I tried to avoid those concerned hazel eyes. "I'm feeling dizzy."
"Maybe we should go home for now." He said before leading me into the car. He held me tightly, as if I was going to disappear anytime.
If he were going out with Yokozawa-san, why was he still bothering to take care of me?
Why did he take so much trouble taking care of me?
'You have no right to fall in love with Masamune.'
'I love him more than you do.'
I was sitting on the front seat silently. Takano-san tried starting a conversation a few times but I wasn't just in the right mood.
"Do you want to eat a little?" He asked.
"I'm not really hungry." I simply answered before staring at the window.
What if he was just feeling guilty?
What if he only pitied me since I had no memories of the past?
What if he was only playing along due to my memory loss?
Suddenly, I was afraid to remember the past. I wanted things to stay like this. I wanted to be with him so badly that it hurt me to think of the different possibilities. What happened to me? What happened to us within those long ten years?
The car stopped. I was thinking too deeply that I didn't even notice that we were already at home. "You should get some sleep." Takano-san said, before placing his palm on my forehead. "You don't have a fever, but I'm still going to check your temperature."
"A-ah, yes… but you don't really need to do those unnecessary stuffs."
"I told you that I'll take care of you, right?" He helped me out of the car and led me onto his apartment. We went inside and he helped me settle on the couch before he went to the kitchen to get some water.
I silently watched him with my eyes as I kept thinking about his relationship with Yokozawa-san. "How long have you known Yokozawa-san?" I asked, he simply stared at me for a few seconds. "I'm sorry, you don't really have to answer that.
"I've known him since college." He sat right next to me, "why do you ask?"
"Nothing." I simply said before taking the glass of water. "I'm really tired tonight but it had been very fun." I smiled at him.
"You should take it easy at work tomorrow. Maybe you could take the day off."
"That's not like you. You're not really that lenient with your co-workers." I said, "I will be fine tomorrow. I only need to sleep-"
"And have dinner. You haven't eaten yet." He reprimanded.
"You're starting to sound like my mother." I told him. He must've found it amusing since I heard him stifling a chuckle. "Fine, I'll eat if that will make you stop worrying."
Takano-san re-heated the curry we had left yesterday. It was still good even if it already stayed in the fridge for a whole day. We ate in silence. I wasn't really hungry but I didn't want to hear another lecture from Takano-san about my health.
I rechecked Mutou-sensei's manuscript and placed my corrections. This time, it went smoother than my first try.
"You're making some good progress there." Takano-san said as he peeked from behind.
"Thank you…" I smiled at him.
After checking Mutou-sensei's manuscript, Takano-san insisted that I should get my rest. I didn't bother to argue and simply laid in bed.
I'd been asleep for two hours. I saw that the lights were still open outside the room, Takano-san still must've been working on his manuscript. I was thirsty and I decided to stand up and get some water. I tried to walk steadily, working hard to get my balance. The medicine I took before I slept would make me wobbly every time I wake up. I was about to open the door when I heard voices.
"Masamune, you can't do this again! You know what happened before."
Yokozawa-san was here.
"Yokozawa… I was troubled by a lot of things before. It's not Onodera's fault."
"Why does it have to be Onodera? He hurt you!"
What was he talking about?
It was like the world was spinning. I lost my balance and pushed the door open. I found myself landing on the cold floor. Takano-san and Yokozawa-san were staring at me. Takano-san had his worried and concerned gaze while Yokozawa-san continued to scowl at me.
"Ritsu, are you alright? Takano-san moved in front of me. I was still shocked by this awkward situation.
"What is he doing here, Masamune?!" Yokozawa-san asked.
"Yokozawa, please leave." Takano-san said firmly.
"I understand but you better explain this to me." Yokozawa-san gave me one final scowl before retreating.
Yokozawa-san was gone, yet the tension was still in the room.
"I-I'm s-sorry… I didn't mean to hear those things…" I said as I tried to look away from him.
"You don't have to apologize." He said before helping me to stand up. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine." I replied.
"About what you heard… it's not really-"
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
"I think we should talk about it."
"I'm tired. I want to get some sleep." I said before leaving him. It wasn't easy not to think about all those things. I was starting to doubt myself and what we had. Takano-san was kind and he had been the best, although he wasn't perfect, I loved every single thing about him. He may not be exactly like the Saga in my memories but the feelings I had were the same.
To be continued…
I know that this is a major cliff hanger. I think this chapter is bittersweet! Anyways, I hope you guys would still review and like this chapter despite of the slow update.
I'm quite excited to write the next part. I'm thinking of resolving some drama issues on the next chapter and I'm also calculating how many chapters more before the story ends.
Thank you for all the support that I've been receiving. I wouldn't have the initiative to write another chapter without all those heart-warming reviews that I received. I have no plans of dropping this story, it might be placed on hiatus, or there may have slow updates, nevertheless I will still write this story until its end.
Suggestions are always welcome but flames are discouraged.
I'll be happy to read reviews!