Chapter Forty-Two: Extraordinary
Ritsu stared with a quiet smile as he saw several baby penguins waddling around inside the giant glass structure, looking more like the dust bunnies under his bed than animals. The crowd surrounding the display seemed equally enthralled by the chicks, and several children cried out and clutched the railings excitedly.
To be honest, he had been surprised when Takano had taken him to the new aquarium for their date. It was a little unexpected, but so far Ritsu was having a very good time. As they passed the glass display cases, they rarely spoke, but Ritsu greatly preferred it. Feeling Takano's presence without having to speak at every single turn was comforting, especially considering he was still recovering from his earlier confession. Not to mention Takano's uncharacteristic response. Ritsu knew the man was highly prone to fiery, booming feelings, but standing next to him now watching the penguins, he almost seemed like a different person.
Ritsu turned his eyes to the man next to him, and just by the man's calm, peaceful gaze, he could really see how much Takano had grown in these past few months.
"Daddy look! Look at the babies!" A shrill voice suddenly called from the platform below. Takano and Ritsu both looked down at they saw a little girl press her hands against the glass and stare in wonder at the chicks.
"Hana-chan, don't run," A man called after her, walking over and scooping her up so she could get a better view.
Ritsu watched their interaction with a bit of awe, shifting around in his long coat that concealed a good portion of his bump. It was almost unbelievable to think that would be him in a couple of years. And when he heard a quiet grunt next to him and glanced at Takano, he could see that the man was thinking the same thing.
"You know," Takano murmured. "I used to really like penguins. For a month in elementary school all I did was read about them."
"Really?" Ritsu asked with a light scoff.
"Yeah," Takano smiled. "I liked how the parents would trade off taking care of the chick. And the dads would spend months without eating, huddled together just to keep their eggs warm. I guess I liked their dedication."
Ritsu laughed a little under his breath.
"They sure are a lot stronger than us in that regard."
Takano smiled back and the two moved with the crowd to the next room where a bunch of smaller tanks were. They took their time seeing them, as the gentle swimming of the colorful fish had an engaging, calming presence to them. Takano watched Ritsu's face as he stared at a slowly climbing octopus. He seemed very peaceful at the moment, and Takano was glad for it. He had hoped coming to a casual, public atmosphere would help Onodera to relax and lower his guard. But for once the brunet actually, legitimately seemed to be enjoying all the fish, even if Takano thought the some of displays were overrated…though his did like the penguins.
Even still, the man was still reeling from what happened mere hours before. It had been a morning like any, and now he was with the love of his life on a date. To be honest, he thought about punching one of the glass cases to make sure this wasn't a dream, but thought better of it and bit his tongue instead. Despite the pain, it still didn't register.
Onodera…no, Ritsu wanted to stay with him. He wanted to share his life. He wanted Takano to share his childrens' lives. The dark-haired man didn't know whether to cry or smile or throw a parade or do all three at once. Even as he stood next to the smaller man, Takano just wanted to reach out and take his hand, but his sense screamed at him to let Ritsu be. More than anything, Takano didn't want to spook Ritsu and cause him to take back his declaration, but at the same time, he wondered how long the pregnant man had been pondering this decision, and if he really meant what he said. He'd been quiet the past few weeks so he had probably at least given it some thought.
Takano closed his eyes briefly. No, he would keep his promise. He would go slow this time, even if it meant using every ounce of self-restraint he had. Because this was worth more to him than anything.
"Takano-san," Ritsu suddenly said as they came across another display. "Look, seahorses."
"Seahorses?" Takano replied, his brow arching as he contemplated why Ritsu was taking such an interest. The brunet nodded with a slight smile, taking in the drifting, dangling creatures with bright eyes.
"You like those?" Takano asked, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
"Well, they are kind of kindred spirits to ukes now Takano-san," Ritsu answered plainly.
"What do you mean?"
"When seahorses mate, it's the males that get pregnant and carry the babies."
"Mhmm, I read about it once." Ritsu said, placing a hand on the glass tank in order to get a closer look. "They even help take care of the babies after the birthing. It's kind of extraordinary."
Takano peered at the fragile, and wide-eyed creatures beyond the glass, and a flash of a smile crossed his face as he realized the seahorses did in fact remind him of Ritsu.
"Well," He said. "There's a nice rebuttal to all those people saying male pregnancy is 'unnatural.' After all, it's already been around for thousands of years. It was only a matter of time before nature caught up with us too."
Ritsu turned his head and looked at Takano with wonder in his eyes before looking back to the seahorses with a small smile. And despite his better judgment, Takano reached up and placed his hand over Ritsu's on the glass. The brunet dropped his head and blushed at the gesture, but to Takano's relief, didn't pull away and chide him that they were in public. After a few brief seconds, Takano removed his hand and peered at Ritsu, giving him a small smile. Ritsu lowered his head with a slight blush as an untimely growl came from his whale belly.
"Come on," Takano chuckled. "Let's go get something to eat."
It was almost evening by the time Takano and Ritsu got back to the apartment and both felt the satisfaction of a full, but relaxing day. After the aquarium, they had a late lunch and then a walk around a nearby park. The weather had been warmer lately despite the chill of fall and the approaching winter.
The two were now sitting on the couch, and for once, were not doing anything work related. Instead, they quietly watched the TV, relaxing and enjoying the relative silence. Takano knew he still had a couple things that could stand to be done, but in light of such a monumentous day, he didn't want to spoil it with work. Especially considering that Ritsu had chosen to sit directly next to him instead of the opposite end of the couch. There was no physical contact, but the intimacy was entirely tangible.
"Ritsu," Takano said quietly. "Did you have a good time today?"
"Yes," Ritsu nodded, turning to him. "I did. Thank you." Takano nodded and watched as a blush crept sheepishly over the brunet's face.
"To be honest," He said. "I…I was worried about confessing to you. I wasn't sure how you would react."
"I know." Takano nodded.
"But, today was the best day I've had in a long time. To be honest, I never thought…you'd be so temperate. I mean, in my head I always rationalized you as this terrible, ham-fisted person. And yet, everything you've done for me in these past couple months…has been so kind."
Takano paused, knowing what Ritsu said had a ring of truth.
"Well, I've had a lot of wake up calls during your pregnancy. I guess even while your body is changing, I've been changing a lot too. But I love you Ritsu, and that has never changed."
"I know," Ritsu nodded, lowering his eyes. "You say it so much, I've almost become used to hearing those words."
"I guess I am a bit like a broken record," Takano muttered, knowing what Ritsu said was true. "But you know, I tell you that I love you, but I've never told you why."
Takano leaned onto his side, facing Ritsu with a wily smile.
"I like even though you're always so polite, you have a short temper. And I like the way your lips pucker when you scowl."
Ritsu let out a light scoff at Takano's word, his cheeks flushing again. But not one to back down from a challenge, he decided to retaliate.
"I uh…I always thought it was funny…when you're thinking really hard you get this really big vein in your forehead."
Takano grinned, reaching a hand over to touch Ritsu's shoulder.
"I like how you always keep your promises, even if they're nearly impossible."
"I," Ritsu murmured bashfully. "I like how honest you are…even though it sometimes hits people like a train."
"I like how you've always known what you wanted to do, and stuck with it." Takano said. "You always want to reach a higher place in life, but you don't let any criticism get in the way."
"Even from my head editor," Ritsu smiled. At this, both the men began to chuckle, but they quietly ceased as Takano reached over and cupped Ritsu's cheek with his palm. He said nothing, Ritsu could see affection in Takano's warm, amber eyes, and he didn't move as the man slowly leaned over and kissed him. Their lips mingled from a brief second before parting, and once again Ritsu was astounded by the gentleness Takano was showing him. And it was in that moment that he made a decision. As Takano began to move away, Ritsu took hold of his hand and rested his cheek against the hard tips of the man's knuckles while his emerald eyes lifted and gave the man a silent entreaty.
"Ritsu," Takano murmured in complete shock. "I don't think…are you sure it's not too soon?"
Ritsu lowered his eyes and shook his head, furthering Takano's befuddlement. Even still he tried to remain composed, even though he felt his body stirring.
"What brought this about?" He asked carefully, studying Ritsu's face.
"Takano-san," Ritsu replied. "I…I just don't want to be afraid anymore. I've lived in fear so long…but now I want to conquer my fears…I don't want to sleep with you Takano-san, and I don't want to have sex…I want…I want to make love. Not like the kids we were ten years ago, but as the people we are now. So…will you?"
Ritsu bowed his head with a fervent blush, and he felt his body heat up as Takano took his head between his hands and locked lips with him again.
"Of course I will," Takano breathed, holding the smaller man with the greatness of gentleness. "But only if you call me Masamune."
Ritsu lifted his sparkling emerald eyes that set off the color in his cheeks and gave a single nod.
"Masamune," He breathed, as Takano took his hand and led him to the bedroom.
Ah Nostalgia lemon time! We haven't had one of those since chapter five!
Hope you all enjoyed this chapter as it is a belated Valentine's Day present to my cyber seme Cerberus/Daniel Lazerus.
Ricchan14, Annalisse Rubisher, hiyokocchi, Puppyfacetwo, RedPurpleRose, fionamoto, ElectricalStar, xMoonAngel, Kisaru-ouhisama, Kaoru, sunset siren curse, and Guest- A big thank you to all of you for such thoughtful reviews :) I know we're all waiting like crazy for Ritsu to confess in the manga, but in the mean time, I'm happy to bring you my humble writings to soothe the fact that that Nakamura really likes to take her fucking time.
AND THANK YOU ALL FOR HELPING ME REACH OVER 500 REVIEWS! GIANT SQUEES AND HUGGLES!
Cerbie/ Daniel-Oh my dearest, it was entirely worth the wait for your reviews :) so glad you like the way I write Trifecta, even though I still consider you their sole expert. Also happy you approve of me mixing up the uke/seme stereotypes. You know me, I hate cliche. And I so appreciate your loving comments of Ritsu's confession. Whew. Glad to have that one behind me. I hope you enjoyed their date equally as much (the lemon is kind of a given hahahah)
Love to all! And Lemons to all!