a/n : Finally! Sorry for the late update T_T I've been busy these days since my final exam is coming. From now on, I'll try to update at least once in a week or two, so please don't kill me, okay? Also, thank you for all the reviews, minna 333 I'll look forward to your reviews on this chapter too ^_^.
By the way, I listened to "I Won't Let You Go" by James Morrison while writing this fic. And it just… fits. This song really gets into me and I couldn't help but think of Takano and Ritsu when I first heard it. :D
Takano had just arrived at the office when Asahina asked him to come to the meeting room, saying that Isaka had something important to tell him. He followed him to the meeting room, wondering what the 'important' thing was because Isaka hardly considered something as 'important'. He stopped abruptly when he saw Ritsu sitting still across their superior, looking so worn out as if he hadn't get enough sleep. He took a seat beside Ritsu, noticed how the brunette was shifting uncomfortably on his own seat.
"What's the matter, Isaka-san?" Takano asked. Somehow he had a bad feeling about this, but he quickly brushed it off.
"Well, you see…" Isaka started hesitantly. "This little prince here said that he's going back to his fa―ehm, his previous company. He came to see me this morning to give his resignation letter. I've already approved it, but since you are his supervisor I think he has to tell you himself about this. Besides…" he looked at Ritsu as if he was asking for his assent. Takano glanced at Ritsu, their eyes met for a second before the younger averting his eyes intentionally. Isaka cleared his throat and Takano turned back to him. Actually he could guess what would come next. "Besides the CEO of Onodera Publishing had personally asked me to do him a favor…"
"To make Onodera quit his job as shoujo manga editor?" Takano cut him off harshly.
"…to help him with his job as the new executive manager of Onodera Publishing." Isaka continued. "He'll stay here until this month's edition is out. But, really… I wish he could stay here a lil' bit longer. It was so fun watching him trying to kick you from your position..."
"Isaka-san," Ritsu said suddenly. He stood up and bowing politely at him. "Thank you very much, but I think I can handle the rest myself."
Isaka laughed happily. "Is that so? Okay, I'll leave it all to you. Don't hesitate to call me if you need help, Ono-chan," Isaka took Ritsu hand. "Let's get along well, man!" He said, patting his shoulder before stormed out of the room with Asahina.
Takano walked to the door and locked it after he had made sure no one was around. He turned back and saw that Ritsu didn't even move an inch from his position. He still had his head down while his right hand holding onto his stomach tightly. Takano noticed that the brunette always did that whenever he was mentally worn out or depressed. He approached him quietly.
"What happened?" he asked. "Why didn't you say anything about this?"
"I-It's none of your business," Ritsu replied without looking at him.
"I have to re-check Mutou-sensei's storyboard," Ritsu rose from his seat. Takano quickly grabbed his wrist and pulled the smaller man towards him.
"Answer me," His voice filled with rage. Didn't he say that his father was fine? He knew that his father had been sent to the hospital due to a sudden heart attack, but it had not been serious. However, all of sudden, Ritsu had started acting strangely around him.
"No, let me go," Ritsu struggled. "Takano-san…"
"ANSWER ME, DAMMIT!" Takano finally exploded. He cupped Ritsu's face with both hands. "Look at me,"
Ritsu slowly lifted his head, revealing his tear-streaked face. Takano brushed some hair from his eyes. "Look at me," he murmured softly. "I want the truth, Onodera. Why do you keep avoiding me? And why do you never say anything to me?" He stared deeply at him, waiting for an answer.
"No…" Ritsu whispered. "I won't tell you. I can't tell you…"
Takano closed the gap between them. Ritsu's lips were quivering against his as he tried to push him away. He kept kissing him desperately, not wanting to stop even though he knew that it would only hurt Ritsu more. When he finally loosened his hold, Ritsu took a step back and slapped him hard. So hard that the pain stung deep inside his heart too.
"I hate you,"Ritsu said sharply. "I hate you! I really hate you!" He run past Takano and got out of the room.
Takano punched the wall in frustration. He never felt so unnerved before. He was a very composed person yet the thought of Ritsu leaving him had left him agitated. He couldn't ― he wouldn't leave it like this; if Ritsu refuse to tell him then he just had to find out himself, and he knew someone who might know the answer.
I won't let you go, Ritsu…
Takano walked hurriedly into Ritsu's apartment. He had not been in the office after their quarrel. Mino had told him that Ritsu had gone to see one of his authors. Takano had tried to call and text the young editor but he just couldn't get in touch with him. He quickened his pace; what Isaka had said to him earlier kept echoing inside his head.
"Huh? What do you mean why?" Isaka stared at him with a strange expression on his face. Takano gritted his teeth, he knew that his supervisor was playing dumb with him. "Isn't it normal for a good son like him to succeed his own father company? Moreover, his father is still recovering after the surgery and he needs his son to handle the company. I don't see what the problem is,"
"Are you sure? What else did he tell you?" Takano tried again. Isaka grinned at him, Takano had to restrain from punching him. Isaka could be very annoying sometimes.
"Apparently he had insisted to call off his engagement and it really upset his parents. That's when his father collapsed the next day," Isaka paused. "Maybe Ono-chan feels responsible for that."
(end of flashback)
When the elevator openedTakano quickly dashed toward apartement 2012. Maybe Ritsu had not been home yet, but he had to check it. He pressed the bell and waiting. He was about to pound at the door when suddenly he heard the 'click' sound. He pulled the door open hurriedly.
However the person before him was not Ritsu. The petite, long-haired girl who'd just come out from Ritsu's place looked a bit shocked when she saw him.
"Mr. Next-door Neighbor?"
Takano was quite shocked himself; he really didn't expect to meet Kohinata An, Ritsu's fiancée ―or ex-fiancée ― here of all place. "You…"
An blinked, recovering from her shock. "Umm… are you looking for Ricchan?"
"Yeah, is he in?"
"No, he…" she paused. Takano saw the sudden change in her expression and he immediately got a feeling that she was hiding something. He mentally cursed himself, did he really that untrustworthy or what? Why did everyone seem to hide everything from him?
"He's not here," she said.
"He hasn't come back yet?"
She didn't answer that, instead she was glaring at Takano with both her hands gripping the sides of her skirt. "D-Don't look for him again…"she said in a low voice.
Takano frowned. "Hah?"
"Don't look for him again, he asked me to tell you that,"
"Your engagement was called off, at least I already knew about that," Takano said deadpanned. He was very aware that he was acting like a jerk to her, but he did not give a damn. He saw her face had turned bright red in embarrassment. "I won't go easy on you just because you're a girl, you know. Now tell me what happened,"
"Ricchan said not to tell you anything," she said stubbornly.
"I don't care, tell me,"
Takano sighed in frustration. "Listen, I really need to see him. I know something's going on and Ritsu refused to tell me about it, but I must know. I want to help him, I want him to share everything with me. I'm not being insensitive about your feeling towards him, but please help me this time, okay?"
An looked down at her feet. Takano waited patiently ― for only God knew how long ― until finally she lifted her face, staring right at him and nodded.
"Fine," she said. "Come in."
He followed her inside. Ritsu's place was still messy as ever, but what caught his eyes the most were the huge boxes piling up in the living room. His gaze stopped at Ritsu's bedroom. All the memories emerged in front of him like an old cinematheque. He entered the room, inhaling Ritsu's scent that still lingered in the air. He sat on the bed and the memories of that day came back to him. That blissful day when they had made love in Ritsu's bedroom for the very first time. His chest tightened painfully; it had not been 24-hours since he last saw the younger yet he already missed him this much. The soft footsteps interrupted him from his line of thought. An stood in the doorway with two mugs in both her hands.
"I made some coffee," She came into the room, giving him the blue mug in her right hand.
She took a seat in front of him. The atmosphere suddenly dropped to the lowest level. It was a very awkward situation; none of them said anything. Takano cleared his throat, trying to break the ice. "What are you doing here?"
"I am helping Ricchan to pack up some things. He is staying at his parents' house right know. He…" she glanced at the tyrant editor-in-chief. "he's going to move out soon,"
Takano took a sip of the warm black liquid. "Honestly, he is so predictable," he grumbled
"He did the exact thing to me ten years ago, so I kinda expected this," Takano explained. "So, what happened actually?"
An stared down at the white mug she was holding. "To tell you the truth, Ricchan and his parents had made a deal right before he start working at Marukawa Publishing. He was given a year to do whatever he want, whether it's his career or love. He said that he want to start over in another company because he was sick of people bad-mouthing him, saying that he got all the star authors just because he's the company CEO's son. In the end he joined your company because of Uncle's influence. Meanwhile I decided to study abroad. I told him to focus on work and not to worry about me. I said that I would wait for him no matter what,"
"Do you remember when we met at Teito Hotel back then, when you told me that you're serious about Ricchan? He felt so guilty for making me wait for nothing, so he decided to cancel our engagement. He came to apologize to my parents himself, while Uncle and Auntie did not know about this. That was the first time they involved in a big fight like that. When Auntie asked him if he loved another girl, he didn't said anything. Auntie totally lost her temper at that time. On the other hand, Uncle also said if he doesn't have any intention to marry me, he should at least prepare for taking over the company. He said that Ricchan just wasting his time editing shoujo manga when he had a chance to be in a higher position,"
Takano gritted his teeth, he really didn't have any idea what the younger had been through. Despite that, he felt a warm feeling tingled his heart when he heard that Ritsu had tried to clear up the thing with this girl. "Then suddenly his father collapsed and he felt responsible for that?"
An nodded. "I am so sorry,"
"It's my fault for making things harder for both of you. If only I wasn't so selfish and forcing my feeling to Ricchan, it wouldn't turn out this way. Now you can't meet him at home or in the office,"
Takano, to be honest, didn't really know how to reply; but he knew he should say something in this situation. "I don't think so," he said, at last. "I think he just want you to be happy and find a man who will truly love you,"
An chuckled softly. "He's a very nice person, isn't he?"
"Yeah," Takano rose from the bed. Now that he knew what he problem was, he decided to go home and get some sleep. He'd already made plan to bring Ritsu back. "Thank you for telling me this, Kohinata-san,"
An blushed a little when Takano said her name. She put down her mug on the table."What are you going to do now, Takano-san? Are you going to save Ricchan?"
Save Ritsu? Takano smirked. It made Ritsu sounded like a trapped prince and he was the knight in shining armour. I kinda like that.
"You can say so," Takano replied. "I told you, didn't I? I'm serious about him and I already prepared myself for this long time ago,"
An smiled at him. Takano threw one last glance around Ritsu's bedroom before walking out of there. She escorted him to the front door. Takano's eyes fell on the stacks of papers on the table.
"Are you going to see him after this?"
"Eh? Oh, yes. Do you have something to tell him?"
He took his key from his pocket, walking to his own apartment. He turned back when he heard An calling him.
"Ricchan must be really love you, Takano-san," she said sincerely. "He's bad at expressing his feeling, but I think his love for you is too great to the point that saying 'I love you' isn't enough to show it."
Takano unlocked his door, his lips curved into a small and warm smile.