Disclaimer! I sadly do not own this masterpiece of anime/manga, they belong to
Nakamura Shungiku. I only own this story!
This is my first story, so please be nice!
The whole floor of Marukawa that was dedicated to Emerald was like a morgue. But it was to be expected since this was the last day of the 'cycle. What was not expected was the call Ritsu had gotten this morning, right after he'd woken up(and not in his own bed). He shook his head. I can't think about that now. He glanced at the clock and noticed it was almost time to leave, only about an hour left to go. He was still looking at the clock when a hard object (later discovered to be a book) made contact with his head. He turned to see Masamune Takano, his 'attacker'. "Onodera! Everybody is still working! Space out on your own time! "
"Whatever." Ritsu replied snarkily. A couple of editors stopped and glanced over at them in shock that someone had talked to Takano, the 'Demon Editor, like that. Takano narrowed his eyes. "Onodera—"
"I've got to go make copies." He said, grabbing his supplies and all but running out of there. What the hell is wrong with me? I can't believe I did that! When he got back he tried to apologize. He walked up to Masamune's desk. "T-Takano-san?" Takano looked up, surprised. "What is it, Onodera?"
"My, um, outburst earlier. I—"
"Think nothing of it. Everybody is tired and a little cranky." He ruffled Ritsu's hair and before he left, he turned around and added, "Oi, the storyboard is in the meeting room still, could you go get it and take it to the main office?"
Ritsu walked out of Marukawa completely exhausted. That was one rough 'cycle. My Mangaka almost didn't make the deadline! I need to be more careful, but my head just hurt so much…. Bah! What am I saying! It's just from being tired! Everybody else is tired at the end of a 'cycle too! He scolded himself briefly. The news I got this morning sure didn't help either… I just had a hard time focusing today, but at least it got done! Stepping outside almost felt like stepping into another world. Compared to the pink fluff and stuffed animals, just about going anywhere away from Marukawa's Emerald Shoujo Manga Department was bound to feel like that. But today it was even more so. It was about 2:00 a.m. and storming pretty badly. The sky so black you couldn't even see the stars. And now fog was starting to form. On top of all that; he'd forgotten his umbrella.
"Shit! If I don't hurry up, I'm going to miss the last train!"
He began to run faster, the puddles made loud sloshing noises. He tried to ignore the rain stinging his eyes, and kept going. The lightning would every once and a while streak overhead and cause an eerie flash of light to occur, as well as making the street-lights flicker. The rain began to create a fog, and it became very hard to see. Even passing cars' lights were bleary. He hoped to find the 'station soon!
"Damn! I'm not going to make it!"
Regardless of his chances, he kept running. The 'station! I can see it up ahead! He breathed a sigh of relief and brushed his bangs that were plastered to his face out of his eyes.He made it just in time and sat down on the seat, only to jump when he heard, "Well, I guess you did make it after all, so I don't need to come after you in my car again, not that I minded…" Takano teased. Noticing that Ritsu had forgotten his umbrella, he added, "Onodera, I don't know how you're going to make it in Emerald if you can't even remember your umbrella! A good editor never forgets—"
"Shut up." Both were stunned at what he just said. Ritsu's mind went blank when he tried to think of an excuse and an apology. Takano didn't look amused, this wasn't like the usual cute I'm-embarrassed-so-just-shut up that came with an adorable blush. This was serious.
"Oi, Onodera, is something wrong?"
"N-no, I just, I'm just tired. Sorry." That was such an obvious lie. He could see it in Ritsu's eyes, his deep, rich, emerald-colored eyes. They looked troubled, and weary. He didn't want to push it. Maybe he was just under a lot of stress… He thought. So he continued to tease him.
"You know, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if you wouldn't have made it, I could've come pick you up…all you would have had to do was call me…" He trailed off.
"I wouldn't have. Hasegawa-san offered to drive me home, but—" He cut himself off to late. He knew how Takano didn't like Hasegawa-san at all. He glanced up to see that Takano's gaze had hardened.
"I—" BEEP-BEEP! Takano glared at Ritsu as he took out his phone. He looked at the message and choked up a little. Alarmed, Takano reached out and grabbed Ritsu's shoulder.
"Onodera? What's wrong?"
"I… It is nothing. I just had a tickle in my throat…" But Takano could see that he was holding back tears. They exited the train and walked the short distance to the apartment complex in which they both lived. In the elevator Takano decided that he'd had enough of Ritsu's strained lies and silence.
"What's wrong?" before he could protest, Takano went added "And don't give me any bullshit about how you're 'fine' either!" he hissed. Before Takano had said anything Ritsu had been staring at the boring pale yellow walls of the elevator and debating on whether to say it or not. Going back and forth between ' I can handle this on my own' and 'Maybe I should tell Takano…' Ritsu hung his head in defeat and sighed.
"I got a phone call this morning…."
"It…was An-chan…" He paused, seeing the brief look of alarm flash across Takano's face. It vanished so quickly that he thought he'd just imagined it.
"She…was upset. Hysterical is more like it. At first I thought it could have been my mother again, but she calmed down a little bit, just barely co-coherent…" He was fighting not to cry. "I…She said… My cousin died." He finally choked out. Takano looked at him with eyes filled with pity. "Were you guys close?"
"I….yeah, yeah we were."
It was the first time Ritsu had admitted to himself what had happened that day; he had just had to shut off his mind for the work day. He knew how he must look and it pissed him off. He did not want to look or feel so weak. He couldn't even let himself cry yet. This was the longest elevator ride of his life.
When the doors finally slid open, he all but ran into the empty hallway. Nobody was up at this hour; they tended to get back around 2 A.M. at the end of a 'cycle. He was about to open his apartment door when Takano said his name.
He turned around to see that he was right behind him. How the hell does he do that? Takano wrapped his arms around Ritsu, in a way that Ritsu would never admit made him feel a little bit better.
"I'm sorry." He whispered in Ritsu's ear. Ritsu broke out of his grasp and opened the door. He didn't close it fast enough though. In a heartbeat Takano was inside too. He turned around; ready to shout at Takano to get the hell out, but instead Takano kissed him. It wasn't like the usual one, which led to other things; this one was sweet, but also a little bit urgent. He suspected the urgency had to do with him mentioning Hasegawa-san and An-chan in the same hour. Without realizing it, he began to kiss back(as usual). When he pulled back, they were both panting. "I have to go plan out my author's next storyboard…." He handed Ritsu a key. "What is this for?" He asked, confused. Takano gave and exasperated sigh. "It's a key to my apartment, baka. This way, you can call or come over if you feel lonely. And, don't bother coming to work tomorrow. I'm going to message Isaka-san for you. He's pretty lenient on things like this. You'll probably get around two weeks off. Don't worry; I will split up your authors to the others. They won't mind." Ritsu was stunned. Masamune Takano, Dictator of Emerald/The Demon Editor, was telling him it was okay to skip work for two weeks? He must be dreaming!
"Th-thanks." He managed to stammer after a moment. There it was. The blush Takano had been waiting for! He reached over a ruffled Ritsu's hair. Then he cupped his face and pulled him forward a little bit. He kissed Ritsu's forehead gently and then let go. "Feel free to call or come over if you need anything." After a moment, he couldn't resist adding, "You know, if you lived with me, you wouldn't have to ever feel like that. And there wouldn't be a need to call me, seeing how I would already be there…" Without another word he walked out the door.
Takano walked to his own apartment, right next door. He walked in and sighed happily. RItsu had let him kiss him, and even kissed back! He didn't know if it was just from the shock of the grief or what, but he wasn't going to question it. He was happy. He did feel a bit sad though, because he knew what it was like to lose someone close to you. He decided to call Isaka-san now, before he got too wrapped up in work. He answered on the third ring.
"Hello? Isaka-san here!"
"I need a favor."
"I'm fine, thanks for asking! How are you? Geez, Takano, you just go straight to the point don't you?"
"I need a favor."
"What kind of 'favor'?"
"I need you to give Onodera two weeks off."
Isaka scoffed. "Look, I know you're soft on the kid, but—"
"-A family member of his just died."
-Silence. Then, "Alright. I'll make the arrangements. Give him my regards."
He hung up the phone and went to call his author.
Ritsu, still recovering from the shock, slid down the door he had leaned against down to the floor.
"Well, that sure was…. interesting." Said a voice from the living room.