Chapter Fifty-Four: Work Days

As soon as the Onodera-Takano family made it inside Marukawa, the two girls immediately grabbed Masamune's coat and started bouncing.

"Papa can we go play with Atsushi-chan?!" Masako pleaded. "Pleaase?!"

"Yeah!" Ritsuka chimed in. "I wanna see the pictures of his puppy!"

"I don't see why not." Takano replied, handing both of the girls bags that contained their afternoon snacks. However, Ritsu frowned at the idea.

"Masamune, don't you think Ritsuka should be in time out for her actions today?"

"I'm sure she had plenty of time to think about it in the principal's office," Takano replied with a smile. "Besides we're going to be here well past dinner time and it's really not fair to give them nothing to do."

"I suppose," Ritsu said, though a disapproving look still graced his features. Sometimes he wondered if they were being too lax on their girls, but at the moment, they were far too busy with their deadlines to deal with it now.

Ritsuka and Masako looked expectantly at their Daddy, who finally sighed in defeat.

"All right, all right," Ritsu said. "But I want you on your best behavior for Rurouri-sensei, okay?"

The girls cheered in unison and began to race towards the elevator with Ritsu on their heels.

"I'll come down to Emerald once I'm finished with Yamada-sensei's manuscript." He called to Takano. His partner nodded in agreement and headed down an opposite hallway to drop off some papers.

"Girls, girls, settle down." Ritsu chided to the twins as they bounded into the elevator, their matching pigtails flying. As the elevator ascended, Ritsu looked down at his girls and shook his head at how much they were beginning to resemble Takano and him. Both of them had Ritsu's green eyes, but there was a sly glint in them that undoubtedly was from Masamune. Even as they grew older, their hair had begun to darken from brown to almost a dark chocolate color, though Ritsuka's still retained Ritsu's reddish tint. All in all, Ritsu couldn't believe how the years had flown by, and how much all of their lives had changed, especially within the parameters of his own career.

About two years prior, Ritsu had begun pursuit of his goal in Emerald: to dethrone Takano as head editor. In their personal lives, Masamune hadn't minded in the least, and in fact, challenged Ritsu to do it, but he wasn't expecting such a battle. Soon a race to impress the higher ups was under way, and for both parties, it was a big ordeal. Takano had to pull every trick and technique he knew just to keep up with Ritsu, who had gained such a name for himself that authors he didn't even know were asking for his advice. In the end, there could be only one head of the department, and Isaka chose to keep Takano at his post.

But it was not the end for Ritsu. As luck would have it, a well-known editor in the literature department had just quit and the department was a floundering mess trying to fill the gap she left. Isaka had transferred Ritsu to this department and challenged him to set things right, and that chance was all Ritsu needed. In the two years he had been there, he had completely turned that department around, and was now the editor to some very famous authors.

Once the elevator stopped, Ritsu took both of his girls' hands and lead them down several hallways before finally stopping at a workroom. He knocked several times before opening the door.

"Pardon the intrusion, Rurouri-sensei," he said with a bow. The older woman and her two assistants looked up from their work, and the sensei's face was bright when she saw the three of them.

"Onodera-san, what a surprise," Renaka said, even though they did this on such a regular basis one could hardly call it spontaneous.

"I hope you don't mind," Ritsu said. "But Ritsuka-chan and Masako-chan were wondering if they could play with Atsushi-chan for a while."

"But of course," Renaka replied, gesturing to the opposite corner of the workroom where a blanket was spread on the floor. Atsushi was sitting on it, surrounded by toys and coloring books. The curly-haired boy was vigorously working on a page when Ritsuka came up next to him.

"That's pretty Atsushi-chan!" The little girl exclaimed at the drawing. "Daddy, look!"

Onodera peered over briefly and smiled at the picture of a cartoony dragon breathing fire.

"That's very nice Atsushi-chan."

"My Papa drew it for me," the boy replied, staring shyly down at the floor. As Ritsuka and Masako also took up coloring books and began to work quietly, Onodera looked back over to Renaka's two assistants and bowed again.

"I have to thank you for being so generous Araki-san, Yanase-san. It's a big help to Takano-san and I to have someone our girls can play with."

"It's no trouble at all, Onodera-san. We're happy to have your girls play with Atsushi." Yuu replied. "And next month you'll have to start calling me Araki-san as well. I'm having my name formally changed."

At the mention of that, Hisashi also looked up from his work and smiled quietly. And since Onodera was far too polite to ask why such a change was taking place, Yuu enlightened him.

"Hisashi and I are getting married in New York next month," Yuu smiled, placing his hand on top of his partner's.

"Congratulations," Onodera said. "Now if you'll excuse me I need to get to my department. I'll be back for the girls in a couple of hours if that's all right."

"That's fine Onodera-san," Renaka replied. "Good luck with your work."

"Thank you. Be good girls." Ritsu said as he headed out the door, but the twins were already too immersed in their coloring to notice.

After he had gone, Renaka stood up and stretched her arms, gathering several folders off of her desk.

"Well I'd better get to my own meeting. Do you think you can finish those pages by the time I get back?"

"It shouldn't be a problem," Yuu replied. Renaka then went over to Atsushi's play corner and kissed her godson on the top of his head.

"I'll see you later Shi-chan," she said fondly before leaving, giving her two assistants a wave as she went.

Five years ago, no one could imagine an author harboring children in her workroom. Business was business after all, and personal lives were to be kept strictly separate from the workplace. But that had all changed when Rurouri Renaka had insisted they bend the rules for her beloved godson, claiming that his tiny presence did tremendous miracles for her creative spirit. And when she started churning out best sellers to prove it, the higher ups finally agreed. It had sparked a trend in the company and now the occasional child could be seen with their parents, always in a controlled setting of course. Had Ritsuka and Masako not behaved themselves inside Marukawa walls, their fathers would have no choice but to put them in daycare, but luckily for them Atsushi was the perfect playmate, though the girls thought him to be far too quiet on occasion.

Once he had carefully colored his picture, Atsushi scrambled up and took it over to Yuu's table. The five-year-old stood on his tip toes trying to see what his father was drawing, his big blue eyes barely reaching over the top of the table. Trying to contain his smile, Yuu took the storyboard page he was working on and showed it to his son, who looked at it thoughtfully before handing his dragon picture back to his father.

"Wow, that's very good Shi-chan," Yuu said, looking interestedly at the remarkably neat coloring job. The tinniest hint of a smile came onto Atsushi's face at his father's praise.

"Papa," he said quietly. "Can you draw me another?"

Yuu reached down and ruffled his son's curly head.

"Maybe later Shi. I know, why don't you watch some anime?"

Atsushi nodded enthusiastically and Yuu briefly stood to set up the small portable DVD player plugged into the wall. After situating his son in front of it, Yuu headed back to his table, all the while shaking his head as the theme song for Dragonball Z came on.

"What's that look for?" Hisashi asked as his partner sat back down. Yuu grinned.

"Oh nothing. Just the thought that my son is going to grow up to be as big of an otaku as his daddy."

"What a load of crap," Hisashi replied. "You like watching it as much as he does. Your favorite character is Piccolo."

Yuu chose to ignore that last comment—though it was entirely true, and directed Hisashi's attention to Atsushi's drawing.

"Look at this," Yuu said in awe. "He's already five years old and already he's coloring like this. It's like we bred a little Michelangelo."

Hisashi chuckled, then suddenly remembered something.

"Oh yeah Yuu, Yoshino-san called earlier. He wanted to know if we could schedule another play date with Chiyuki-chan."

"Sounds great," Yuu replied. "Atsushi had a lot of fun with her last time. You know, as long as I've known Chiaki and Hatori, I've never seen them so happy. They've really worked out their issues these past couple years."

"Glad to hear it," Hisashi said, going back to his work. He paused however as he felt Yuu's breath at his ear.

"Next month can't come fast enough," Yuu murmured, wrapping an arm around Hisashi's shoulders and kissing his neck. "Marriage in New York…our honey moon in British Columbia."

"And the family vacation to Germany next Christmas." Hisashi added. "Have you given Yuko-san her plane ticket yet?"

"It's on my to-do list." Yuu sighed. "Though I still don't see how she managed to weasel her way into this trip."

"It's good for Atsushi to be connected to your side of the family too. He sees enough of my parents every day what with them living next door to us."

"I suppose." Yuu said with a smile as he rested his hand on top of Hisashi's. "But soon your family will really be mine too. Araki Yuu has a nice ring to it."

Hisashi's lips curled and he intertwined his fingers with Yuu's as the brunet whispered words of love into his ear. The blond's eyes then drifted over to his son and his smile grew. Even though the path to get to this point had been riddled with agony, fear, and heartbreak, Hisashi knew, without a doubt….it had been worth it.

Hello FF! Sorry I've been pretty quiet these past couple weeks. School and work are really kicking my ass but your patience and reviews mean the world to me. I'm both sad and happy to say that the next chapter will be the last. Once again I just want to thank everyone who was a part of this almost two year journey. To have a spin off generate this much attention has really encouraged me and I'm proud to announce that the journey is not quite over yet.

I am officially announcing my intention to take on the SIH couple Yukina and Kisa and write their Uke flu story as well. You can read a precursor in Cerberus Revised's original flu story in the chapters 39-45 at the egoists' semuke dinner party.

If you want to read more of Yuu and Hisashi, my story "Forever" (sequel to "Always") is also still going as well.

That being said, time for shout outs!

sora yagami 4869, nekocandy4life, hiyokocchi, Vincent Claudius, Morally Evil, Ricchan 14, Alana-kittychan, Miyuki Meiru, Annalisse Rubisher, Mrs. Ciel Phantomhive, puppyfacetwo, gothpandaotaku, Kiyame Hikari-chan, loopy hutton, sunset siren curse, happysunshine, windying, Master Null, starrynight1987, Riverspirit 86, The Random Fujoshi, Shidou, Alexandria, and my darling Cerberus Revised- thank you all for you awesome reviews! It took me ten minutes just to write out all your usernames and I'm glad to do it because you guys rock!