Disclaimer! Don't own! I write for the love of writing! Owns my girls, Raiu and Aki!
P/s: DID YOU MISS ME?! Naw… bet none of you did. Lol! Anyway, *on hands and knees* Gomenasai minna! The story was left hanging over a month. I'm done with the crazy end of year theatre production, and now looking forward to the holz! Finally! Some down time to continue my fics! Quick recap: I left y'all with the girls finally coming to the realization that poor Akihiko / Ritsu was framed! Disclaimer! Owns nothing! Reviews and critics welcomed!
Chapter 25: Trouble Be Thy Name
"DING!" The elevator door opened on the first floor of the new Onodera Publishing House in the City of Angels, LA.
Out stepped a tall, lanky man with fair skin and short, light brown slightly honey colored hair cropped closed to his scalp and spiked up in small, artful twists. He had dark brown eyes that slanted downwards a little, and twinkled with some unknown mischief under nicely shaped brows. He had a smile that curled upwards; revealing two rows of perfectly aligned white teeth. He smiled at the receptionist who nearly swooned in her spot at the twinkling aura of this beautifully handsome man. Can a man be both beautiful and handsome at the same time? He had a deadly smile. One designed to ensure that he got what he wanted in life and as if on cue he was turning this smile on for the receptionist.
Getting off the plane three hours ago had left him slightly annoyed and jetlagged but he plastered the smile on his face nevertheless. He was here, work had come calling, and he would be a professional about it. A joint venture with his publishing company and Onodera Publishing was all he needed to cement his position as the Head Editor of all the magazine departments in his company. He would have the final say of what stayed and what will leave the company in shreds. He was confident; confident enough to guarantee his Director that he would come back to the company in a few months time and triple the profits through this joint venture with the Onodera Publishing House.
Donning on a pair of dark blue denims and a white, short sleeved, vee-neck top that showed off his leaned muscles, he took wide confident strides towards the receptionist, turning his smile on full wattage, melting the unsuspecting lady on the spot into a puddle of orgasmic tremors. Before he could open his mouth, his eyes caught sight of a famous author and he turned around to call out to him. Eyes widened in delighted surprise, the author came forward, extending his hand outwards towards the man. They shook hands as though they had known each other for a long time, of which they had. The sight of these two beautiful men were too much for the poor receptionist as she stood there, mouth agape, hearts in her eyes, drool slowly appearing at the corner of her open mouth.
Haitani Shin; Editor-in-Chief of Shudanshaa Publishing House Weekly Earth magazine, multi-award annual winner for best-selling department, best overall Shudanshaa Editor and above all, biggest, most meanest, rival of none other than the delectable tyrant, Takano Masamune; was here in the flesh, his right hand in a tight handshake with the famous The*Kan author, Ijuuin Kyo Sensei.
"Haitani-san… what brings you here? This is such a surprise! The last person I would expect to meet here is you!" Ijuuin said, letting go of the other man's hand and tucking his own into the pocket of his jeans, "The surprises just keep on coming!"
His eyes twinkled with curiosity as he leaned on the reception counter. He tilted his head slightly to the side and took a good look at the editor. Handsome man this, he thought to himself and smiled at the telltale signs of a familiar stir in his nether regions. When did I become such a greedy man? He mused, half-heartedly chiding himself. First Misaki, then Onodera, now this editor? I must keep my hands out of the cookie jar. He grinned as the afterthought fled by him flirtatiously. Ah… Misaki will always be my first target… he decided darkly, still, apparently, dissatisfied that Misaki had yet to succumb to him despite succeeding in making him run away from his ash-blonde haired, lavender-eyed lover.
The thought of the billionaire novelist darkened Ijuuin's thoughts. It didn't escape his ears, and from the gossiping female staff, he found out that Usami Akihiko was here, in LA, with God knows what planned up his silk sleeves. He wondered if Misaki already knew…
"I could say the same to you. I just got here, sensei," Haitani replied, rubbing his sore eyes, and catching Ijuuin's attentions again, "I dropped my bag at the hotel and came right over. I'm here for a few months on a joint venture. Onodera Publishing reached out to Shudanshaa a few months ago for the launching and I was grabbed for the position. Shudanshaa's interested in the American market, and wondered how Onodera would cope with it. I'm here for statistics and reports. At the same time, help the new editors get a good footing. I'm here today to catch the director. Yourself, sensei?" Haitani had answered, his eyes never leaving the dark haired, blue-eyed man in front of him. Such piercing eyes, and his posture… is very thought-provoking, he observed, deciding that he liked what he saw. Naughty thoughts flitted by in his mind as he watched the full lips open to form words.
"I've signed a three manga contract with Onodera Publishing for The*Kan, testing the American market as well, just like you. When my contract is up, I'll be returning to Marukawa with the stats. We're on the same boat it seems. Director's not in at the moment, he left for a meeting. He might be in late. Come, let me show you around instead! If we're lucky, we'll bump into Onodera Junior. He's here somewhere, I believe,"
"Onodera Junior? Onodera Ritsu is here? Well, well, well, isn't this just my starlit luck," Haitani conceded, a wicked smile forming on his lips.
"Ah… Haitani-san, this looks interesting," Ijuuin contemplated, his eyes glinted in knowledge. Haitani gave him a shadow of a hint and winked.
Ijuuin clapped Haitani on the back; the drooling receptionist left forgotten; his hand lingering for a moment longer, too long to be of a friendly nature. Haitani gave him a sideways glance, his lips saying nothing but his eyes were dancing with hidden invites and the latter merely smiled; his cobalt blue eyes as piercing as ever, as though in a mutual understanding. Both men went on a tour of the new Publishing House. Ijuuin began to explain the design concepts of the building as he pressed the button to go up the floors as the men stepped into the cool interior of the elevator. The building had a number of floors, its design and architecture reflecting contemporary art, its walls were adorned with posters of recently published works; magazines, mangas, literature, the likes.
The ground floor was the cafeteria floor and waiting lounge where visitors were asked to wait if they had to see any of the staff. The first floor, housed the main conference rooms, the director's office as well as the reception area. A few floors upwards were editorial departments of different kinds from shonen to shoujo to literature. The top most floor was the main hall for the parties and book signings and other events of significance. There was also an indoor swimming pool and a gym for those who needed to sweat it out, not that they will have much time given the limited time for editing.
"And this is where… Ah! Onodera-san! Just the man we hoped to bump into!" Ijuuin stopped midway of explaining the rubrics of the editorial department when he caught sight of the Publishing House's heir a short distance away.
Ritsu looked up from inspecting an editing work done by one of his subordinates at the sound of his name being called. He saw The*Kan author waving at him genially and saw someone else, whom he recognize immediately – and was caught by surprised; although not too pleasantly, remembering the last encounter he had with him. He straightened his back and walked towards the two men who towered easily over him and gave the newcomer an inquisitive eye. He accepted the bows and handshakes and got over the formalities.
"Haitani-san, what brings you here?" Ritsu asked nonchalantly, careful to keep the tone of his voice neutral, dispelling all thoughts of dislike for this man from being known to others. He had gotten pretty good with keeping up with the charade.
"I could ask the same of you, Onodera-san," Haitani replied, his smile wide, but his eyes were calculative. Ritsu did not miss the look the man gave him, "It's very unlikely for… what's his name… ah… Takano-san… to let go of you this easily,"
Haitani watched with amused interest as he observed Ritsu visibly flinching at the mention of the Emerald editor-in-chief's name. He had shaken the cool demeanor this man was trying to project as he observed with too knowing eyes the blush that crept slowly but surely onto the younger man's cheeks.
"None of your business, Haitani-san. I believe Father will see to you shortly," Ritsu, after a failed attempt to suppress the urge to blush at the mention of his lover's name, commented rather crudely, "Now, if you'll ex-"
"Remember the pleasure trip you took to Kyoto over the weekend last year with Takano-san?" Haitani bent slightly forward, his voice barely above a conspiratorial whisper, his posture mocking the younger man, "Maybe, you could show me some of that while I'm here?"
"I-I… W-what t-the h-hell! Y-You… you…" Ritsu stammered, his façade broken, his awkwardness coming to the surface. His eyes widened in disbelief at the nonchalantly flirtatious way Haitani-san was addressing him, and in the presence of Ijuuin-sensei nonetheless!
"I shall wait for that invitation, Onodera-san!" Haitani replied, whispering into his ear and straightened up. His eyes were twinkling as he gave Ijuuin a cursory nod. Ijuuin left Ritsu with a wink and a knowing curl to his lips as he continued showing Haitani around the department.
Ritsu stood rooted there to the floor. He could feel the embarrassed heat of the blush from the blatantly outright sexual invitation he had just received. Haitani-san was interested in him? Why? As if he could ever do it with another man other than Masamune… The thought of his dark-haired amber-eyed lover that night in Kyoto rushed to the surface and stood vividly in the forefront of his mind. He shook his head to dispel the provocative thoughts of… skin on skin… lips on lips… and the memory of lips trailing kisses down to his… NO! Oi! This is the workplace! Get a hold of yourself, man! Ritsu shook his head harder in an attempt to stop the meandering thoughts.
"Onodera-san, are you okay?" A female staff inquired out of the blue. How long have I been standing there?
"Huh? Nai! Nai! Everything's peachy a-okay! Haha! Haha!" Ritsu replied, shaking his hands and head simultaneously, denying anything to anyone within hearing distance of the things that had crossed his mind. Everyone was eyeing him awkwardly and sensing this, Ritsu made an incoherent excuse and made a dash to the elevator.
He kept pressing the arrow down button and when it finally opened, he dashed in, pressing the close button repeatedly; unaware that someone else was in there with him, eyeing him with a loathing so pure, so strong.
"Onodera-san!" the voice clipped him, forcing him to jump in agitation and he turned around, pressing himself up the wall of the elevator in rude surprise.
"Misaki-san?" Ritsu's already labored breathing calmed down at the sight of the younger man. He slowly eased himself off the wall, "What is it? What's wrong?"
"I've waited weeks to tell you this! Y-You BASTARD!" Misaki yelled at him, his face coming up so close to Ritsu's face, again forcing the older male to back up into the wall, his mind a frame of chaos. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON TODAY?! His thoughts screamed inwardly.
"W-what are y-you talking ab-about?!" Ritsu stammered, agitated and feeling rather vexed by now.
"Oh don't play dumb with me, you asshole!" Misaki yelled. He slammed his palm on the emergency stop button and the elevator shook and tremble before stopping mid-floor, "How dare you! How dare-"
"How dare I what? What the hell are you talking about?!" Ritsu interrupted, his voice rising in a shaky octave.
"HOW DARE YOU SLEEP WITH AKIHIKO?! HE'S MINE! HOW DARE YOU TAKE HIM FROM ME!" Misaki practically shouted the accusation into Ritsu's ears, deafening him but enough sense had allowed it to sink down into his brain.
"W-w-wait… WHAAAATTTTTTT?! WHEN?! EEEEEHHHHHHHHH?!" Ritsu screeched. Now it was Misaki's time to flinch at the high pitch voice directed into his grated eardrums.
"Y-You don't remember? YOU DON'T REMEMBER?! You BASTARD! T-that night after the award ceremony! YOU WERE IN HIS APARTMENT!" Misaki, wide-eyed in disbelief at Ritsu's denial of his acts, pushed his face closer to the other man's now ashen complexion.
"EEEEEEHHHHHHHHHH?! I was there to pick up a manuscript! We- we had drinks b-because he- he said y-you were… YOU WERE CHEATING ON HIM! Now I remember!" Ritsu answered, the faded memories all those months ago resurfacing as fresh as day.
"THAT DOES NOT GIVE YOU AN EXCUSE TO FUCK HIM! HE WAS MINE! AND I DID NOT CHEAT ON HIM! I-I… did not… cheat on him… what did he see that night…" Misaki stopped ranting halfway and stood back, his eyes distant, "Oh God… Ijuuin-sensei… Onodera-san, he must've seen me with Ijuuin-sensei!"
"HUH?! What the hell are you talking about?!" This sudden turnabout in emotions and reactions was kicking Ritsu off his mental rocker and his mind blanked out for an annoyed second at the sight of Misaki's pale complexion at some unknown realization of some distant memory.
"I-I was wrong, I-I was at fault… BUT YOU FUCKED HIM! I WON'T FORGIVE YOU FOR THAT!" Misaki yelled, confusing an already agitated Ritsu to near madness.
"I DID NO SUCH THING YOU BLOODY TWIT!" Ritsu yelled in return and saw Misaki taken aback by his words.
"B-But… I saw you… and Usagi-san… n-naked on the floor. He dressed you before you woke up a-and I left. I never returned after that. Y-you're saying y-you don't remember that?" Misaki whispered, a shadow of the shy boy he once was colored his voice.
"W-what… what are you talking about…" Ritsu said for the umpteenth time, his mind a reel of confusion as he put his head in his hands, "I-I don't remember anything…"
"Guess… y-you really don't remember anything at all," Misaki finally replied after a long silence. He pressed the emergency stop button again and the elevator became mobile. A second later it reached the ground floor and it opened. Misaki stepped out, a hand on the door, stopping it from closing and he turned around to face Ritsu, "I was at fault… I can't fault him for wanting to sleep with someone else after what he saw,"
"I-I told you a million ti-" Ritsu started but the doors had closed on him, "a million times, I don't remember…"
Ritsu wanted to scream in frustration. His world was fucked over, under, above, below, sideways and in all ways imaginable. First, Akihiko, with that project. Then, Masamune, appearing out of the blue. Then Haitani-San and Ijuuin-sensei, stirring up trouble. Now, Misaki was accusing him of God-knows-what he had done?! What the hell is going on?!