All grown-ups were children first. (But few remember it).- The Little Prince
All Grown-Ups Were Children, Part 1
It wasn't fun, Ritsu reflected, trying to find a birthday present for his mother the day after Valentine's Day. If he'd had any time at all he would've gotten something earlier, but he hadn't. So he found himself wandering aimlessly around a mall on the Saturday before her party, Masamune trailing him like a shadow.
"You didn't have to come with me, you know," Ritsu said, eying Masamune.
"I wanted to." That was all he deigned to say on the matter before he took Ritsu's hand. "Besides, I was up all night going over edits with Ichinose-sensei. I have so much caffeine in my blood that I was vibrating for an hour."
Ritsu eyed his boyfriend. The idea of Takano Masamune being hyped-up on caffeine was a hard one to imagine. Sure, he saw Masamune drinking coffee every day, but it affecting him like that was a strange thought. He was so busy considering Masamune that he only noticed An calling out to him when Masamune pulled him to a stop.
"Good morning, Kohinata-san." Masamune bowed, keeping his fingers laced in Ritsu's. "It's good to see you again."
"And you as well, Mr. Next-Door Neighbor," she said, returning the bow and completely ignoring that Masamune had properly introduced himself the last time they saw each other. Her eyes lingered on Ritsu and Masamune's joined hands as she said, "Are you buying your mother a gift for tomorrow, Ricchan?"
Ritsu rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand. "Yes. I haven't had much inspiration, though."
An smiled. "I'm sure she'd be happy simply spending time with you."
"With all her friends there giving her extravagant gifts? I doubt it," Ritsu said, snorting.
An thought for a while, finally tearing her eyes from Ritsu and Masamune's hands. People were walking around them, a lot of girls carrying heavily discounted Valentine's chocolate. Finally, her eyes lit up. "There is something she's been enjoying lately. Would you like me to show you?"
Ritsu glanced at Masamune. It wasn't as if they had anything to lose at that point.
An led them to a candy shop, its interior so pink and fluffy it rivaled the Emerald offices. As the woman led them through, Masamune was looking impressed. "I might have to talk to the person who decorated this place."
"As if you need help." Ritsu looked slightly miffed about that, and An glanced back at them, an inquisitive look on her face. "You haven't seen our office, have you? Pink furniture, pink walls, stuffed animals and such all over the place. You'd probably like it."
An had the dignity to give them at least a small smile at that before turning to the display they had stopped at. It was near the back of the shop, but there were other people around, so it seemed to be popular. Ritsu stood at it for about half a minute, just blinking, before he turned to An and said, "What exactly are they?"
"Choco Fortune," An explained, picking up a bag and showing it to Ritsu. "They come with little slips like the fortunes in fortune cookies. Your mother has been getting them a lot lately. I don't know how much stock she puts into what they say, but she seems to enjoy looking at them."
Ritsu didn't even realize until he reached out to take the bag for himself that Masamune had let go of his hand. He turned around and was surprised to see his boyfriend wasn't still there. A quick observation of the store revealed that he had wandered off to a display of lollipops about as big as his head.
"Masamune, I got something for Mother, we can go now," Ritsu said, joining him at the display.
At that point, though, Masamune had taken one of the lollipops from the stand. It was heart-shaped and pink, with glitter sugar covering it and the Kanji symbol for 'love' stamped onto its center. "I want it."
"Then you can get it yourself."
"Why can't you get it for me?"
"I know for a fact you earn more than me. You can afford one stupid lollipop." Then he averted his eyes. "Besides, I already got you chocolates yesterday."
Masamune finally seemed to agree to that reasoning, and he followed Ritsu to the cash register, an amused-looking An in tow.
"Where are you going after this, An-chan?" Ritsu asked after he had paid. Masamune had put his lollipop down on the counter and Ritsu had scowled but forked over the couple hundred yen more for it along with payment for the bag of Choco Fortune.
An ducked her head and looked down at her clasped hands. "Actually, a friend of mine from America is coming to visit, and I agreed to meet him for breakfast." She signaled over to the food court, which the candy shop was conveniently located at the edge of. Smells of fried breakfast foods and tons and tons of coffee being brewed wafted over to them.
"I need coffee," Masamune murmured, seeing the stand in the middle of the thoroughfare.
"You told me you have so much caffeine in your system that you were vibrating earlier," Ritsu said.
"My caffeine to blood ratio has significantly declined." And with that, he gave the giant lollipop to Ritsu and went to do something about it.
Ritsu sighed and shook his head, turning to An. "I can stay with you until your friend shows up, if you want?"
"Thank you, Ricchan, but I think he's already here." An's eyes turned to a group of tables where a young man with blond hair was waving frantically as soon as he saw her. Instead of waiting for her to go over to him, though, he jogged up. An bowed and said, "Hello, David. It's good to see you again."
"You too, An!" He spoke in Japanese but there was something slightly off about it that made Ritsu wince. "Thanks so much for inviting me. Who's this?" His eyes moved to Ritsu, who was trying to keep up with him. His word choice and grammar were impeccable, but his words ran together like he'd had too much coffee and forgot which syllables went where.
"Onodera Ritsu." He didn't dare take his eyes off the man before him, at that point unable to determine what he was capable of in his current state.
"Ooh, I know you! An's fiancée."
"Um, not anymore," An said. "We agreed to break off the arrangement a while back."
"Shame." David sighed like this somehow affected him. "An's a great cook. You'd be eating well the rest of your life."
"Well, my job doesn't leave me many days to sit down and enjoy a home-cooked meal." Ritsu was relieved that David's speech patterns were slowing down and becoming clearer.
"What do you do?"
"I'm an editor Marukawa Shoten's shojo manga department." Before he could add more, Masamune had rejoined them, the coffee cup in his hands so big if rivaled the lollipop that he took back from Ritsu. "Ah, this is the first editor-in-chief, Takano Masamune." Masamune was, of course, pointedly ignoring them in favor of chugging his coffee in record time.
"Dude." That was English, and Ritsu and An just stared at David like he had grown a second head. "You're a manga editor? That's awesome!" Then he seemed to think of something. "But why shojo? You're both guys." A pause. "Aren't you?"
Ritsu shrugged. "It's not that much different from any other genre. It has its own conventions and knowing those helps you make successful titles."
"And probably gets Mr. Editor-in-Chief here plenty of dates, huh?" David grinned as he nudged Masamune, who had finished his coffee binge by then.
Masamune glanced over to Ritsu before saying, "Not so much. Ritsu is the jealous type." He flung his empty coffee cup in a nearby trash bin before taking Ritsu's hand again.
This information did not seem to deter David finding manga editors cool, however, and An eventually had to intervene. "It was nice seeing you two again, but I'm sure you're quite busy. We'll see you at your mother's party tomorrow, Ricchan." She pushed David away before he could turn into even more of a fanboy.
Ritsu took that as the signal to leave, and he pulled Masamune along. The older man was gazing down at the giant lollipop, seeming to consider it. "What?" Ritsu asked. "You're the one who wanted that thing." Then he found it right in his face.
"Want the first lick?" Masamune smiled in a not-quite devious way, not even minding when Ritsu growled and pushed his arm away.