Friendship In The Details
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'A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.'
-John D. Rockefeller
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Being a worldly thirty years of age, there were many things about life and the environment he lived in that were known to one, Kisa Shouta. The people who surrounded him and walked through his existence daily, the beaten paths he walked, the sights and sounds of his day to day were all familiar, at times, nostalgic. He felt as if he could navigate them almost on autopilot for his level of comprehension, but the flip side to being observant was the desire to soak in the trivial.
It hardly mattered how many times he had seen that neighbor watering the plants on her balcony, how many times he had nearly been run down by one of the bike taxis after turning the corner at the junction of his street and the main road, or any of the litany of small details that comprised Kisa's routine. Each occasion was unique. Sometimes the neighbor watered at one hour, the next day it might be later, or earlier. Some days the taxi operator wouldn't be in a rush, instead meandering about looking for a passenger, and thus put Kisa in no danger of bodily harm. Sometimes their expression, their mood was different; their aura.
Living in a month to month business like manga, despite the new content, was highly quotidian. He had long since noticed that certain plot devices were common, or that there could only feasibly be so many physical features for a character to have to be their own - eventually a "clone" would surface.
Manga, like many other art mediums, was now regulated by what sold and what didn't. Like with test audiences and television, the story lines and key players needed to be modulated so that the finished product would appeal to the widest demographic of readers.
This, as well as practical limits in creativity meant that over the years, Kisa had seen a lot of the same - the content recycled, chewed up, and regurgitated in a new incarnation for print. At first this had stunted him until he had learned the beauty that could be found in reading between the lines. If one thought about it, yes, some may be the same, but then why do humans keep reading or watching or listening to new art? Wouldn't that just be boring?
The answer was that like with the things he noticed every day, art would always be different because each time it was put out there, it was in a new combination, or it had a new person's take on the subject.
After he had realized that, Kisa had found that his career was well suited to his personality. He could get his fix of seeing things in a new light, without losing the regulation of the same thing day in and day out. Change within a vacuum, one could say.
"Oi, Kisa, where the hell is your manuscript? We're only waiting on yours now, so pick up the damn pace!"
Kisa blinked dazedly, as if finally awakening to greet the world. His brain had been set to space out mode for what felt like the past three days. Come to think of it, that was probably likely, given how the month had panned out. What a time.
"Wah! It's almost done! I've just got one more frame...!"
He snapped to attention, scooting in his desk chair and frantically setting back into work. Kisa had been dutifully adding the last touch ups on the issue, making sure the toner was razor straight and everything looked to be in order. Not that they had any time to spare for much repair, but it was part of his job to at least attempt to produce a quality product.
Sweat trickled slowly down the back of his neck.
He heard Takano's long stride as the man stalked across the editing floor and eventually drew up behind his workspace to wait. When things went pretty badly, this was a common occurrence. As much as it unnerved him, it wasn't like Kisa could argue that the method was effective. With his boss watching him like a hawk, the only thing he was focused on was getting the assignment done to pacify the man and make him back off. Nothing else, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant dared broach his consciousness at that time.
He anxiously smoothed down the remaining patch of shade, applying it to the jawline of the male protagonist's face. It was the final detail.
Careful not to drop them with his shaking hands, he rearranged the completed page into the orderly stack of others that made up the full manuscript. He then slid them back into the large manila envelope for transport and gleefully handed it over to Takano. The man swiped it from him, making Kisa want to squeak in surprise - if he weren't used to that late cycle brusqueness.
Kisa felt at that moment like doing a victory dance, but he knew he didn't have those extra calories to waste on such a frivolous celebration.
"I'm taking these to the courier, don't leave yet." Takano's voice rung out clear across the room, and four weary heads nodded in tandem, in various states of slump over their desk. Why did they take up this job in the first place...?
Kisa sighed a big breath of relief, leaning against the elbow propped on the table surface, face pointed to the door to wait out the boss' return so that they could all get dismissed. Already he was planning what route to walk home; there was no hope of boarding a train this late.
He selected the fastest and then surveyed his fellow soldiers with morbid curiosity. He couldn't even see Hatori's head over the divider of overturned books and savaged plushies that separated their two desks, and concluded the man had all but collapsed after handing in his work.
There was a faint whir coming from his direction though, and it sounded rather like the vibrate function of his mobile. Who was calling would have been a mystery if Kisa didn't know the things he knew. Or, to put it another way, on that particular occasion, didn't have the luck he did.
A few months prior, Kisa had the task of going on a reconnaissance mission after his coworker, who couldn't be reached by either phone or fax, and had been A.W.O.L. for more than eight hours, which Takano had deemed long enough to reasonably panic.
The chief had sent him out into the field as his was the only manuscript in at that point, presumably to reel Hatori back in. Actually, Takano's instructions had been to forget the man, so long as he tore the manuscript out of the mangaka's hands and brought it in for publishing, even if he had to leave Hatori behind, but Kisa, being an editor, fluffed the command with a little mental notion that the boss cared about Hatori, too.
And so had been the circumstances under which Kisa had the opportunity to visit the elusive mangaka known as Yoshikawa Chiharu.
He had rode the main line to the artist's home, and, using a copy of the key that Takano somehow possessed, he had let himself into the spacious apartment, hearing not a peep of life at first going. The place was as silent as death, and it made him wonder if either of the two were even present.
Kisa had walked throughout the space, finding the workroom empty, but a fully furnished manuscript stacked neatly on the corner of the largest table. Strange. If it was done, then where was Hatori, and what was he up to? The man was definitely not one who needed to be told how to do his job, and Kisa doubted he had up and forgotten that Takano was a hard-ass about getting the documents in at the first available second, allowing no lollygagging in between.
He had gone through the kitchen, spying used dishes left on the table, a wok still resting on a flame-less burner, vestiges of life. The discovery had spurred him on to explore the rest of the place, guessing that they had to be somewhere around this airy place.
His expedition had come to an abrupt halt at a ponderous place: the door way of the mangaka's bedroom, which, to his surprise, had been left slightly open. Not really one to be shy, and, hearing noises from within, Kisa had peeked in through the opening to find the two in flagrante delicto. Which, despite throwing him off guard at first, came to pique Kisa's sense of humor.
Yoshikawa Chiharu, who was decidedly not the woman his pen name suggested, was laying on his back in the overlarge bed, mouth wide open and panting at the handling he was receiving. Hatori, Kisa's missing coworker, was found to be busying himself in sucking and licking along the artist's reddened erection, nuzzling the crown before slipping it in between his lips and bobbing rhythmically.
So that was what was keeping him. Kisa grinned to himself at the notion, highly tickled at the knowledge that his stoic fellow editor was in fact human like the rest of them, and had a lover squared away on the side. Hatori didn't seem the type to get close to anyone, outside of the professional facade he put on at the company parties or around other authors. Nonetheless, this was irrefutable evidence.
As for Yoshikawa, Kisa had to admit he envied the mangaka. If he had been promised a blow job for getting his work done, Kisa thought he probably would have been that productive, too.
The thought instantly conjured up a visual to go along, and a sweet one indeed. He pictured himself perched on top of his desk, pants down to his ankles with Yukina's tousled head in between his thighs, lips sealed in a perfect circle at the base of his cock, length already trapped inside the younger's throat. Long, deft fingers strumming against his prostate, sometimes plunging in deeper to simulate the second course awaiting.
Definitely productive, if that sort of thing was at the end of the stint.
Kisa had, in a moment of bliss from his brief daydream, lost control of his movement and leaned on the door, forgetting of course that thing was not bolted to the floor, and therefore not very stable. With his weight added in as an applied force, the thing swung open further, metal door handle clanging loudly against the nearest wall. This drew the attention of the couple on the bed, and Kisa stared in mortification and horror as the chaotic scene commenced.
Hatori shot up like a bolt, as if conditioned to loud disturbances. Oddly though, instead of sitting up, it was more that he lunged forward, positioning himself further over the smaller man as if to hide him from view. That was pretty futile, considering that even if someone had just burst in, and hadn't been sneaking a peek like Kisa had for the past couple minutes, they would have seen everything laid out clearly no matter how little time they had to witness it.
Yoshikawa, for his part, squeaked in utter shock and turned his face the other direction as not to have to look at Kisa. His entire body squirmed in Hatori's hold to try and turn that away from viewing, too. The success of this venture only backfired on the man in the end though, because as he rotated, pushing his front down against the bed, that left Hatori planted firmly over him at a particularly suggestive angle. Given that the editor's own tent-pole had to be, at that time, nudging the other man in a dear way, it wasn't surprising that the author blushed hotly before burying his face too into the mattress, devastated by the magnitude of his own embarrassment.
Kisa laughed nervously. "Ah-hah, umm, sorry to intrude!"
His feet had felt planted where they were in the threshold, as much as he knew he should move them. God, why was he laughing at a time like this? He still hadn't puzzled that one out, even by now.
Needless to say, Kisa was no longer welcome in that house after that day, but, if he had to say, his relationship with Hatori had grown a little less distant after the shock subsided. There was just something about seeing another person naked that really nixed any possible reason for feeling awkward moving forward.
In time he even joked with Hatori, or, to the man it was, about the benefits of 'taking in the essence of men'. It was hard to say what was stronger that time, Ritsu's blatant confusion about what Kisa meant, or Hatori's nerves being prickled at the mention of the unfortunate incident.
Speaking of Ritsu, the guy did look a little dead at the moment.
"Hey, Ricchan, are you sleeping?"
"No. Of course I'm not!" Was the miffed reply he got from the brunette, who didn't even look up at the prodding.
"Ricchan, you shouldn't take a nap right now..." Kisa slid closer in his chair, patting the younger man's back in an encouraging fashion. "After all, Takano-san might just leave you here if you're dozing, and once they lock the door, you're staying in here until Monday morning!"
"Like he'd miss the opportunity to jump me this weekend! The baka probably already has designs on luring me into this apartment... Geez, I really should start locking my door at night..."
Ritsu's head pushed up off the desk rapidly, and he stared at Kisa, who after a second of being surprised, smiled so broadly that he wouldn't be surprised if there were flowers and sparkles pulsating in his background. Ritsu's face was cutely flushed, knowing he had spilled a shit load of beans, and Kisa didn't intend on letting it fall to the wayside.
"Oho, is that so, Ricchan? Please, elaborate."
"Mino-san! What do you plan on doing this weekend?" Ritsu's voice cut right across Kisa's playful inquiry, the green-eyed male stammering out the words, determined to get the attention off of him before he had to answer and give up any more of his secrets.
"He's going to go camping with his kids. In their living room, but still. They set up a tent out of sheets and everything," Kisa answered nonchalantly. Mino smiled up at the pair of them when he heard the response.
"Ah, yes, that's correct, Kisa-san. The baby is just starting to get into the tradition, too. I think he likes campfire time best now, because his mother let him have a marshmallow last time we did that. He's hooked. Kids and sweet things, they just go together, don't they?"
Ritsu gawked back and forth at the pair of them. He seemed not to know who to aim it toward more, Kisa for being the one to reply, or Mino for his truth.
"You have kids?"
"Mmm, at least that was what Yurie-chan told me after nine months of craving and foot rubs, but I suppose one can never be too sure. It did happen three times, though, so I'd like to think I recognize the process for what it is."
Mino laughed merrily.
"I am just teasing you, Onodera-san. Yes, I do. Two boys and my little girl. I've never mentioned them before?"
Ritsu's face bluntly spelled out all that needed to be said on that matter.
"Well, now you know."
"See how much you can learn by staying awake at work, Ricchan?" Kisa added in. He patted Ritsu's shoulder once again before settling into a cozy spot on his chair, yawning loudly.
"Yes, I certainly see," the prickly brunette rattled off, eying him suspiciously from the side.
A deep voice intervened not a moment later.
"Good, right where I left you four."
Takano appeared in the doorway to the office, his hands filled with black cans of heaven from the vending machines in the break room. Kisa started to salivate on sight.
"Have some coffee and get out. All of you."
"Hooray!" Kisa leapt out of his seat eagerly, grabbing his bag. "Thanks boss!"
He nabbed a can as he walked by, many thoughts running through his brain at that junction. For one, relief, for seconds, gratitude at the fact that he'd have a little more stamina now to get home. Lastly, Yukina's face appeared to him, and he had to smile even at the same time he was rolling his eyes. The goof would probably amble right out of bed as soon as he realized Kisa was home.
He would never admit to the way his heart jumped when he was given such consideration.
For now though, he said goodbye to the other four of his office, preparing to head out for the blessed weekend of peace afforded to them by the close of another cycle. As tiring as it had been, he'd gladly drag his ass up to do it again next month. It wasn't only the work, but more and more, the people he got to work with, also.
They were a motley crew, but Kisa wouldn't trade even a single one of them.
A/N: So, this one just sort of came up out of the blue tonight, err and morning, and I wrote it straight through in one sitting. My mind is perfectly non-linear. I was watching/reading the Nostalgia couple today, writing snippets of Egoist, not to mention battling a bout of the flu, and then my brain decided, "Oh boy, let's write the adventures of Kisa at work!" ?
IN ANY EVENT... HOLY CRAP, Volume 7 of SIH is about to be released in Japan! And looks like everyone will be in it, even my darling Isaka-san, because there is a Mistake chapter/extra included with it. Fangirling, commence!
Heh. I hope that this was enjoyable, and I'd be thrilled if you swing me a little review now that you've read it. ^_^