Chapter Sixteen: Original Movie Soundtrack

Ritsu took a shaky breath as he closed the door to his room and started down the hall, still fiddling with the expensive clothes he wore. According to his talking wardrobe he cleaned up decently, but still felt a little out of sorts. He wore a rich green coat with gold embroidery over a silk white shirt, brown breeches, and leather boots that clicked when they walked, making it impossible for his presence not to be known. Even still he headed down the corridor as quietly as he could, twining his fingers together as he tried to mentally prepare himself for dinner with Takano. God knows what it would be like. For all he knew Takano could decide to strip him, tie him to the table, eat pot-roast off him, and drink gravy from his bellybutton…

Ritsu halted immediately upon this thought and was about to race back to his room, hide, and blush furiously for the remainder of the night when he heard a familiar voice call to him from the top of the stairwell.

"Oh Princess!" Chiaki chirped. "You look lovely! Are you ready to go down?"

Ritsu gritted his teeth, cursing how adept the furniture was at ruining his plans.

"Yes Chiaki," He replied, walking up. "Did you come up to get me?"

"Uh huh! I wanted to see you, and Kisa told me to come find you anyway so 'that pussy willow wouldn't try anything funny.'"

"Of course," Ritsu muttered.

"Master is already down in one of the great halls. I'll show you where it is."

Ritsu took a deep breath and tried to mentally prepare himself faster as they headed down the stairs, but raised his eyebrows in (relieved) confusion as he saw them heading in the opposite direction of…the "head" room.

"Uh, weren't we going to eat in Takano's trophy room?"

"Master decided at the last minute not to. He said 'I'll never get him in the sack again if I scare the effing bejeezus out of him first.' Or something like that."

Although a scowl reappeared on the brunet's face, he was inwardly relieved that he wouldn't have to dine next to the head of Bambi's mom. Chiaki led him down the hall that neared the gigantic library and stopped in front of two carved white doors, which opened as soon as Ritsu stepped in front of them. But as he went inside, the doors slammed right behind him.

"Hey!" He yelled, jiggling the iron door rings. "What are you doing?"

"Oy," A voice called from across the room. "Open up."

At Takano's command, the doors reopened, and Ritsu pivoted around to see him sitting at the head of a lavish table piled with entrees.

"Sorry, I forgot those doors lock automatically."

Ritsu's eyes looked Takano up and down, and he had to admit he was slightly impressed. Rather than the jeans and no shirt combo the beast usually wore, tonight he was clothed just as richly as his guest. He also wore an embroidered coat in pthalo blue and his breeches were as dark as his hair, which looked slightly less shaggy than normal. Ignoring the scrutiny, Takano stood and motioned to the chair at the other end of the table, which moved and seated Ritsu comfortably. Dinner was served in short order, and the brunet ate with polite gusto. Truth be told, since the kitchen staff seemed to be engaged in a civil war at the moment due to some controversial elope, he had been living off frozen dinners from the deep freeze. But Takano's feast was the most succulent food he'd ever eaten in his life. The two enjoyed their food in silence, but when they had began dessert, Takano's eyes caught him.

"Are you enjoying yourself?" He asked, resting his palm under his jaw. The beast had actually given the brunet stealing glances while they ate and noticed how much the princess put away (which was a lot), but he had always been the type of man who wanted to hear things said aloud. It wasn't enough just to know.

"Uh, yes. The food was delicious. Thank you," Ritsu murmured politely, dabbing his lips nervously with a napkin.

"To be honest," Takano replied. "I haven't eaten with someone like this in years."

"Really?" Ritsu replied, though he didn't doubt it a single bit.

"Yeah. Not since before I was changed."

Ritsu bowed forward and took a bite of his dessert while he pondered those words. Truthfully, the servants' info on Takano as a human spiked his curiosity, and he couldn't help but ask.

"Um…Takano, I understand if I'm out of line but…I was wondering—"

"You're wondering why I was cursed." The beast cut in, seemingly not bothered. "I'm not offended."

"So…how did it happen? Someone told me you were cursed by a witch."

Takano gave a small sigh, resting his elbows on the table.

"An enchantress actually. But it wasn't just some random act of magic that made me like this…it was what I allowed myself to become. I'm sure the servants have told you, but I wasn't exactly Mahatma Ghandi when I was human. I wreaked havoc on my household and many other people with my pride and anger and gluttony for prestige. I may have been human at the time, but truthfully, inside I was already a monster.

"And one day, I just happened to piss off the wrong person. That enchantress gave me a test, and I failed with flying colors. And so she put this curse on me and everyone here, so my outsides could finally match the darkness in my heart."

Ritsu set his fork aside, staring as his empty plate. He was a little stunned by how honest Takano had been, as well as the story itself. He had always thought the beast a shallow douchebag, but it was apparent he has actually done some soul searching while kept in this state.

In a way, Ritsu almost admired him for that.

"Are you finished?" Takano asked, rising from his seat.

"Uh, yeah."

The beast rounded the table and came over, holding out his paw.

"Then come on. Let's dance."

With only a slight hesitation, Ritsu took it and the two headed across the corridor to the ballroom.

"Tale as old as time…True as it can be…Barely even friends, then somebody bends...Unexpectedly..."

"Oh Kisa-san," Yukina's speaker sobbed as the two watched from the balcony, the original soundtrack of Beauty and the Beast playing from the sound system. Kisa let out a perturbed sigh. Of course the big sap would choose the sappiest and most cliché music for those two idiots' dance (even though most of the household had put in a request for the headless waltz).

What was worse, Takano had bought Yukina wireless, portable speakers…so now he could go EVERYWHERE in the castle. Kisa wasn't sure whether this was the best or worst thing that had ever happened to them…though right now he was opting for the latter.

The other servants were staring down at the ballroom floor as well, quiet whispers emanating from the groups like a flutter of gossipy chickens. Rumors were already spreading through the entire household, some of them with a grain of truth, other with a grain of insanity: Takano and the Princess were in love, they weren't in love, they tried to kill each other, they had sex every night, they built a birdhouse in the garden, their were alligators in the sewers under the castle.

But honestly, no one had any idea what was going on. All they could really focus on was that after all this time, they were closer to breaking the curse than ever.

However, down on the dance floor, things were another story. Although Takano and Ritsu's dancing was fluid, their attitudes left much to be desired.

"You're not letting me lead," Takano growled as Ritsu refused to be spun AGAIN. After such a nice, peaceful dinner in which he had let loose his deepest, darkest life smut in an incredibly sincere manner (his acting coach was right, he did have promise), he would have thought this snooty princess would be more compliant. But that was not the case.

"Who says you get to lead?" Ritsu muttered back. "We're both men."

Takano gritted his teeth, trying to bite back a retort but failing miserably.

"Well pal, that can be changed. I know for a fact that there's a really nice, frilly yellow ball gown in a costume box backstage. So unless you wanna look like a real bona fide princess, I suggest you work with me on this."

Ritsu scowled at this, but when it came time for him to be spun again, he allowed it. And this little power struggle wasn't exactly lost on some of the servants.

"This is ridiculous," Kisa muttered to Hatori. "Those two aren't even close to breaking the curse. Their egos are boxing in the ring as we speak."

Hatori sighed.

"Not to mention Master Ritsu has missed the director's cue to put his head on Takano's shoulder nearly four times now."

"He's missed 'his cue' for everything! These two will never get anywhere by themselves. It's about time we step in."

"Patience Kisa."

"I've been patient long enough Hatori. If their evening doesn't finish well…I'm calling a midnight meeting."

Hatori hummed quietly at this and the two (along with the sobbing Yukina) went back to watching the targets of their scrutiny, who were now slow dancing.

The night was getting on and as he had spent the entire day being harassed by directors, birds, French muscle men, and his own panic disorder, Ritsu found himself quite drained. Takano noticed as he gave a light yawn and slowed them further.


"No, I'm fine." Ritsu lied unconvincingly.

"Let's go out on the balcony," Takano said, not letting go of Ritsu's hand and leading them out. They followed the corridor up to the second floor, past Ritsu's room and down to the large entrance at the end of the hall. The brunet's lips parted slightly as they stepped out onto a wide marble balcony that gave a view of the courtyards and a glittering full moon that cast silvery light upon the black forest. The sight was crystal-clear and breathtaking.

Astounded by it all, Ritsu let go of Takano's paw and rested his arms against the carved stone railing, his eyes trying to take all the of it in.

But Takano lingered back, his eyes fixed upon another beauty.

As much as he enjoyed Ritsu's normal flighty awkwardness, his little (huge) spats of anger, and hell, the face he made when they had had sex…this was a face of him he had never seen. His features relaxed, his eyes bright, and his supple lips curved just slightly.

It was a face of contentment…and it was one that sent longing straight to Takano's heart. How he would love to see that face every morning, every day, every night.

How he would love for Ritsu to truly be by his side…

"Ouch," He muttered all of a sudden, rubbing at the bare patch on the back of his neck where that cursed rose was. Stupid thing had given him a tingly prick all of a sudden.

Funny. That had never happened before.


The beast was shaken out of his thoughts as Ritsu spoke and he dropped his hand.

"Is there anything wrong?" Ritsu asked, cocking his head at how strange Takano's face looked…well, besides the whole beast thing.

"No," Takano said, his eyes softening as he took a step forward. "Nothing's wrong."

Ritsu took a shallow breath as the beast stood right in front of him, his scent, his hair, his eyes, all overpowering. And yet, there was tenderness there as well.

"In fact," Takano murmured. "Nothing has ever been this right. Ritsu…thank you for tonight."

With a slight blush, the brunet lowered his head.

"Y—You're welcome." He said plainly. "I'm…getting a little tired."

"Right. It's late."

Ritsu nodded, starting to head back inside.

"Uh, thank you Takano…good night."

"Good night." The beast replied, his amber eyes not leaving the brunet until he disappeared into his room. After the door had shut, Takano turned back to the moon, so his spirit could howl the longing he held inside him.

Hello everyone. I realize this update took freaking forever and I thank you all for your patience. And wow, this is like the first serious chapter we've had in a long time (but then again is any of this really serious anyway?), definitely different from the last.

Good grief. I couldn't believe all the reviews for the Bambi's mom chapter. Honestly I expected to get a lot of flack for the gruesomeness and some sobbing about ruined childhoods...and instead most of you thought it was hilarious.

I didn't think that many of my readers had psychopathic streaks in them. Not that I mind, it was just...surprising.

And btw, as yourfanfiction dotcom went under, I reuploaded the lemon chapter (I think it's 10?). Screw the site rules. I plan to also backup this story on my blog, but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Anyways, got myself addicted to another TV show so I must head back to Netflix, but giant hugs to everyone who read and reviewed. More out soon. The plotting of the appliances will be shortly underfoot!

Tally Ho,