A/N: This is supposed to be set in canon, where Romantica is a couple, so, that's kind of important to note. Misaki is still in college in this one-shot. I guess I ended up wanting to write this because in my other story, Princely Plot Bunny, I started off that one with these two already being well acquainted, and I myself wanted to read a story where Misaki got to see what Haruhiko likes to do for work. They've talked about it in the canon series, about his dreams of being an architect, but have never actually gotten too deep into it. I wanted to be an architect when I was a kid, amongst a hundred other things. Now I'm in the medical field. How interests do change.
Characters: Haruhiko, Misaki. This can be considered a friendship/character-building fic, an ambiguous relationship, or an one-sided romance (on Haru's end of things), depending on how you personally like to interpret it. I am not even sure what I would call this myself.
. . ... . .
. . ... . .
The birds were singing and the sun was making an appearance for the first time this week. What a marvelous day it was!
Takahashi Misaki was enjoying a rare, leisurely walk through the quieter of the city streets, book bag hoisted high on his shoulders and his eyes darting everywhere, taking in the views he normally seemed to miss out on while walking back and forth between school and home. Mild was the day, the spring air crisp without being too cool in temperature. He luxuriated in the simple pleasure of it, only hoping that there could be more golden afternoons like this one, because he was rather enjoying getting the quiet time to himself without anything dramatic taking place, or without Usagi-san's unique demands on his attention.
Speaking of the eccentric older gentleman, today was one the rare days where Akihiko didn't pick him up after his classes. Instead the author was briefly away, having a week-long business trip to attend to, a few hours out of Tokyo.
A week being a loose timeline, given Usagi-san's propensity to rush through so that he could come home sooner; this behavior apparently being for Misaki's benefit, though the youth wondered how exactly one saw it in that vein. He estimated that at the most it'd only take the rabbit about three days to escape from work and return to the penthouse they shared together, given prior examples of the man's cunning when it came to squirming out of deadlines and other obligations. Misaki would try to enjoy the time for lounging and schoolwork while he was able.
He stopped to wait alone at the empty crosswalk, pondering what assignments he ought to tackle first. His finals felt like they were right around the corner, and thus the larger projects of the semester were coming close to being due in each class. Truly the break had come at a fortuitous time.
Misaki started walking again a few moments later, crossing over to the next block, where the tall buildings of before ended, and a emptier space existed; a partially constructed building housed on the site. From the looks of it it was going to end quite large, and Misaki did wonder for a moment what the purpose of the structure was. Occasionally there would be a sign hanging from the chain link fence on the perimeter of a lot, telling what was being constructed, and so he stopped to look for it out of curiosity. Was it going to be some sort of business, or a residential tower?
He spotted a likely looking placard, and went to read the name, pausing in front of the spot. Before he could really absorb the information though, his concentration was broken by hearing a voice call out his name, questioningly.
Misaki's point of view shifted, showering the caller with his emerald gaze, those irises that summarily widened upon recognizing the other person standing there on the sidewalk. A man in a smart business suit with carefully cut chestnut hair and slate gray eyes that were hidden behind a pair of glasses. He possessed a tall, lean, yet broad-shouldered form, much like his younger sibling's frame.
Just what was Usagi-ani doing here?
It was only too late that it occurred to Misaki that the sign announcing the new business tower being built had borne an oddly familiar logo next to the name of the company supervising the construction, and then, everything clicked for him.
"Ah... hello... Haruhiko-san," he attempted the requisite greeting, not really sure how to address the man but figuring 'Usagi-ani' was an appellation that only really worked for his internal monologue.
"Did you come to see the building?" Haruhiko inquired, tone one that betrayed no real emotion to it.
"It's not so much that I came to see it as that I was walking here and saw it on my way down the road," Misaki offered, relaxing a little when he sensed that the elder's aura seemed relatively harmless. To be honest, even though Usagi-ani had never officially "given up" on his affection for him, Misaki hadn't had any problems with the man apart from the occasional phone call to reaffirm that the feelings still existed. Usagi-ani might just say that phrase and then leave the call at that; he was a man of few words as far as Misaki could tell.
"It does look nice so far though," he added kindly, "it will be interesting to see how it goes up if I get to see that while they're still building."
"Come in and see the inside."
"The first floor was recently completed and furbished, it is perfectly safe to be touring; my office for the time being is there."
Misaki pondered the request, trying to work out if it were a good idea or not. He knew that had Usagi-san been anywhere in the near vicinity, he would have been displeased if Misaki acquiesced to the offer, but then again, Misaki thought that he should really be able to make his own decisions about what he wanted to do with his free time. And, so even if that meant doing things that the author didn't agree with, he would do what he wanted. Now, he wouldn't go out of his way just to rebel, but this time seemed all right.
It was a public place and Haruhiko-san wasn't the type of person to jump him, no matter what Usagi-san portended. Apart from that, he was a tiny bit curious to get to see the interior of a building that was still getting worked on, if only to see what the bare bones of such a place were like, before everything was done and cleaned up.
He readjusted his bag on his back and nodded, letting the other man know that he would follow him inside.
Haruhiko said nothing, not too different than what Misaki expected, and they walked together through the gates of the construction site and down the main drag to where the front entrance of the tower was. The walls were all glass on this floor, and some of the rooms he could see into from the outside, whilst others were blocked from view by floor length blinds. The other opened the door for him, and they proceeded inside.
It was quieter than Misaki expected it to be on the mezzanine, only a clutch of workers making their way around the space with no noisy tools to form the typical soundtrack.
Haruhiko's office was at the end of the long hall, on the right, behind a solid wood door that contrasted with the overall modern looking features of the building. Misaki decided he liked the variety of tastes present. They made their stop at the room, leaving the door open; probably so that if anyone needed to come and ask Haruhiko-san a question, it would look like he was available to answer.
. . . . .
"So, how much of the building is already done?" the boy inquired once they were both sitting down. As per usual, conversation with Usagi-ani was a little stilted, being that the man wasn't the loquacious sort. Misaki would have to flat out say anything that he was interested in, he supposed, to get a real reply.
"Four floors, and the majority of the fifth," came the factual answer. "There is an observation deck on the fifth that is complete, but the interior is still being insulated and sectioned off for the individual rooms."
"Wow, so then it's almost done, isn't it?"
"Yes." Haruhiko pointed at a paper mounted to the top of his desk. It lay beneath a divider of protective glass, showing the layout of the building in its entirety. Misaki could see the five floors planned for, and he had to figure that most of the work was done. However, it appeared that there was to be another accessory unit on the property, a parking garage with multiple levels. Apparently that would be constructed last of all.
"It's going to be bigger than I thought," he added in, eyes sweeping over the blueprint. Though there were letters on the paper, they all seemed to be abbreviations rather than clearly stating the purpose of each room. Being that this wasn't his job, he had no idea what each stood for, so he asked, "are all of the rooms going to go for one business? Or one on each floor, or something like that, Haruhiko-san?
"It is a professional tower, so there will be several companies that we house here. Some have already bid for their office space, while others will be leased out once construction is complete. From the proceedings thus far, I can say that we have one advertising unit, an attorney, and a dentist's office. None of those will require a whole floor, though, so there may be several of them on each level."
"Oh, okay, I get it. But... how are people already able to get their space? Were they watching the construction, too, to see that they could move their company there?"
"The Usami corporation has recruiting agents, who have put out through the usual channels about these things. If the companies lease out their space before the tower goes up, we offer it to them at a reduced amount. That is what's known as a pre-sale."
"I've done something like that before!" Misaki offered eagerly, which caught the elder off guard mid-explanation, "There's a bookstore where I always go to buy my schoolbooks, and new issues of Za Kan, and sometimes they will have these things in the mail where you can get discounts for being a frequent customer. Or, other times, they will open early only for people who get the mail, on the day when a volume comes out!"
"I suppose that is rather similar."
Haruhiko smiled, in his own minute way, and Misaki felt convicted at causing it to happen. The man's expression never seemed to differ, so it was a big surprise whenever it did change. Apart from that, he was kind of glad that he was able to understand what Haruhiko-san was explaining to him; he didn't want to be a nuisance and waste too much of the guy's time with ignorance.
"The construction should wrap up within the year, if everything continues to remain on schedule," Haruhiko concluded after a moment. He eyed Misaki from across the desk, seemingly thinking about something. Misaki met the gaze, nonchalant, as if to ask what.
"Would you like to see a schematic of the final design?"
"A what?" Misaki hadn't really heard of a schematic before, and was thrown by the lingo.
"It's a sort of picture, generated by a computer modelling program. Whereas the blueprint is the simplified layout, this would be as if viewing the finished product, with everything how it would be when we open it to the public."
"Sure," he agreed, "I'd like to see it."
Haruhiko made a few motions, rifling through one of the top drawers of his work desk before pulling out a large manila folder. The folder contained a few glossy diagrams, printed on high-quality paper. Though you could tell they weren't real, they did look like real photographs as Haruhiko had hinted at. Misaki leaned back in his chair, taking one out at a time and examining them in turn.
The first was modeled from a street view, as one would come upon the complex at arrival. A building towered for five stories, the first floor walls glass but the rest a sort of sandstone brick accentuated with square, flat roofing.
Slightly behind and to the side of the main unit was a concrete, three floor parking garage, each level opened to the area by a break in the walls. It appeared accessible from the outside of the building as well as within, a small path winding its way around the outside of the first floor, the tiles a creme colored stone as if to match with the building exterior. Crowning the path was a series of trellises, on which vine-like plants tangled and bloomed. It was such a simple touch, but it gave a sense of comfort and life to the otherwise standard layout. It was unlike anything else Misaki had noticed anywhere in this part of the city.
"It's beautiful, Haruhiko-san, I'm sure people will like to come here for their business."
"... It's not as if it's meant to be aesthetic. Not in the manner of a museum, or even... the aquarium. It's not an artistic project, so I am not sure that beautiful is an accurate word to describe its bearing."
Haruhiko's voice was distant as he contributed this bit to the conversation, a little flicker of regret laced in with it all. It had to be hard, Misaki thought, giving up one's dream as the older man had. His father had wanted him to inherit the company, and Haruhiko had wished to become an architect. The desires did not entirely mesh, and buildings like these were as close as the elder Usami could come to the things he wanted to be working at.
"Not everything has to be artistic to be beautiful," Misaki responded truthfully.
As the words left his mouth though, he glanced to the side, and noticed Haruhiko staring at him, with wide slate eyes, as if he had just received a shock to his system. If he had to compare it to anything, it was similar to the time Misaki had lost his temper long ago and called the elder a moron, in the Teito hotel lobby. He had honestly meant what he said this time, but somehow, the words must have struck the other in an altogether different way if he was reacting like this. Could it be that he thought that Misaki wasn't talking only about the building itself?
Misaki clasped a hand to his mouth, certain he had done something wrong in voicing it. "I'm... I'm saying something irresponsible, right? I'm sorry!"
A sharp ringing blared out and cut through the chaos; the desk phone choosing a prime opportunity to indicate an incoming call.
Misaki sat uncomfortably in his own seat, flushed and hoping he hadn't accidentally hurt the other's feelings by making him feel hope, and watched Haruhiko take the call. The man held the receiver up to his ear tightly, and he turned his chair a smidgen away to answer, listening for a few seconds before starting to reply to the person on the other end.
"Yes. Yes. Fine. I'm in the office downstairs. I can be up there momentarily." His tone was clipped, precise as ever. His eyes darted around the room, seemingly trying to locate something or another. Misaki could only be glad that he seemed to be distracted, maybe enough for that comment to blow over without doing harm.
The phone was replaced on the cradle soon after that, and the youth waited expectantly for some direction to cling to.
"I need to bring some documents up to the contractor. It appears that he was not provided with the essential copies..." Haruhiko grimaced, the first time Misaki had ever noted such an expression on the man's face, and continued, offering not only the facts, but a rare personal opinion. "I suspect others have been lax in their duties because everything has been progressing so well up until now."
He stood, and the younger man did as well out of politeness.
"I am sorry for this interruption. I will make it brief."
"I'm fine," Misaki interjected, "plus this way, I'll get to see a little bit more of the place anyway, right?"
Haruhiko considered the notion, but did nothing more than incline his head and begin to ferret out the documents that were needed from the cabinets behind his workspace.
The man's arms were burgeoning with scrolls of papers when he finished gathering; plans, floor maps, and charts, the likes of which threatened to roll out of his grasp, as tenuously as they were stacked.
It was clear that he was taking on too much, and so Misaki felt it only natural to pry a few from the stack, carrying them within his own arms without a word about it. He wasn't doing anything right now, so he could step in and help.
At least in this way he could pay back Haruhiko for the inside tour of the building, and no longer feel indebted for the experience. It wasn't like he knew much about buildings, so manual chores were probably the only thing he would be good at around here, like carrying construction papers for the businessman. Everyone needed to do that which they were suited for.
Haruhiko did not protest this division of work, merely adjusted the amount he was still carrying and started to lead the way toward the elevator, carving out a path through the odd employee or two as they went along. Misaki trundled along behind him, walking at a pace slow enough to glance at everything as he went by.
They took the lift to the third floor of the construction, one of the furnished areas, and it was there that they had to part ways, Haruhiko not being able to exactly drag Misaki into a meeting with him. Still, he made sure that the boy would at least have something to occupy him with while he was away.
"Here's the break area. There should be food and drink in the refrigerator, if you should want any. I apologize, but I am going to have to talk to my co-worker for a short time, and that means you'll be waiting here."
"Oh no, it's fine. Wait. Haruhiko-san, is the balcony area okay to go out on right now?" Misaki indicated the space outside the glass door nearby, and Haruhiko summarily nodded to confirm the question. "I'll just wait out there, then, because it will be fun to see the view from this height."
Misaki handed over the rest of the papers that he had carried, and even though he did worry about the elder toting all of them around, he knew this was Haruhiko-san's professional arena, and he was surely more capable of navigating it than Misaki was. He would just try to enjoy the panorama and not think about it too much if he could help it. After all, he had come here to look at the building in the first place, not to visit with the man.
. . . . .
Even if that happened to be his mindset, Misaki found that visiting with Haruhiko was just part of the package on his tour. He had waited for the elder to finish his business with the contractor, and had spent the meantime exploring the outside deck of the tower.
This floor's was smaller than the observation deck Haruhiko had mentioned on one of the upper levels, but it was big enough for a few employees to gather for some fresh air, or to smoke if they had that habit, Misaki supposed. For a moment it had flustered the youth, considering that the notion had only occurred to him because a certain person was always lighting up around him.
Thinking of Usagi-san made Misaki feel a little antsy, due to his current activities. While he did fully believe he could make his own decisions, he couldn't help but think of how the rabbit would be stirred up over his spending time with Usagi-ani, even for this short amount of time, and he thought perhaps it was about the point when he should try and make his way home. Yes. There had to be some sort of balance, between free will, and not offending his... landlord. Maybe if Misaki was more proactive about giving in a little to the other's tyrannical will, Usagi-san would bend some for the things that Misaki wanted in life.
Thus had been his stream of thoughts when the other had reappeared, and, as if sensing Misaki's aura, Haruhiko had posed a question about the other man, asking if Akihiko was still "doing his share."
"Akihiko-san is working hard as always," Misaki insisted, the given name flowing over his tongue a bit awkwardly due to disuse. "He... receives many honors, and a lot of interviews and things, as well."
He left it at that, not sure what else to say about it.
If Misaki had the choice, he would have rather avoided the topic of Akihiko in the other brother's company, because it did nothing but create a malignant atmosphere. Haruhiko, even though he carried the conversation, would go more tense than usual, which made the youth worry for him. Yet, also, some of the things that he said, while restrained, made Misaki feel angry on Usagi-san's behalf, especially since the elder wasn't there to have a chance to defend his choices and actions.
There was no clear cut answer to anything in that topic, bottom line. This whole sibling rivalry deal, to him, needed to stop. If only it could, but that was probably wishful thinking, wasn't it?
A pause made itself known, and Misaki took the opportunity to drink some of his tea, relishing the sweet and tart mixture of it. Perfect for the spring day he was experiencing now.
Lightly shaded eyes followed his simple movements, and when Misaki caught the other's stare, he colored a little, out of embarrassment, he thought, even though that emotion was not one he was palpably feeling. He set his cup down gently, barely having the courage to maintain eye contact when the other was looking at him in such a way. If he didn't know better, he might have been curious enough to ask what was on the other's mind, but he did have some idea, after all, thanks to the ever-assailing Usamones that seemed to plague his existence. It was a look... of endearment.
"Are you happy?"
"Huh?" Misaki didn't expect the question.
"Are you happy?" Haruhiko repeated himself, clear and concise. "Is there anything you require?"
"You don't need to get me anything." Misaki put out his hands in front of him in a 'no way' gesture, hoping to stop the tide of the older man's excessive generosity before it began. There were only so many favorite foods that could be ruined for a person before they started getting wary of being left with nothing they could still happily eat in normal amounts. Another strawberry war need not be waged!
"I want to."
This was rather hard to reply to, and no tangible word came from the college student, but rather a guttural string of syllables that indicated his period of thinking. How to set this all aright?
"Giving you things which you yourself cannot or will not acquire makes me happy, Misaki."
That statement only underlined his issue - with a person like that, how did you make them understand? Misaki supposed that practically, there was nothing wrong with what Haruhiko was saying, but he couldn't let it go on like that, not when he knew the reason driving this giving spirit was a love that he could not possibly return. If he allowed it to continue, he was being selfish. Meeting up like this, out of the blue, unplanned, that was the upper limit of what he could permit and still maintain a proper distance between he and the elder Usami.
"I honestly would be more satisfied if you didn't buy me anything."
Haruhiko pondered the rebuff, but then added, "Then I will offer my help, should you ever need it for anything. Feel free to cash that in at any time."
Misaki smiled softly. "I don't know that I will, but thank you for that anyway, Haruhiko-san."
"Um, I know there is probably more to see, but, I think I should be on my way," the younger said. "I still have some schoolwork to do."
The stoic man seemed to expect this, and he only mentioned, "That's probably for the best."
"I left my backpack downstairs, so, I'll just grab it on my way out."
"I'll accompany you."
"You don't have to do that, Haru-"
"Misaki." It was stated plainly, more a sentence than it was a name in that second, and it took the youth aback.
"Oh, right. You want to. Okay then, I guess if it's not keeping you from work, you can walk me out."
. . . . .
They returned to the office on the first floor after that, and Misaki thought he was being rather responsible, leaving when he did, but, as fate liked to have a joke at his expense, something had to go awry anyway.
It was when he was walking down the last of the stairs to the lobby. They hadn't been able to take the elevator down that time because the workers had been using it to transport roofing supplies to the top level of the tower, and so they had taken the stair route instead. Misaki had been striding along as he normally did, slightly in front of the other man, who seemed to have a purposeful pace all his own. He had taken one stair just a little bit too quickly, and missed the next in his haste.
He had started to fall on uneven footing, but before he could hit the ground, two arms had shot out to steady him where he was.
Misaki's heart stopped for a moment when he had felt that lurch, and now, he gazed back over his shoulder and up into piercing gray eyes, seeing the indecision reflecting back at him.
It was if he couldn't move his feet at that very second, even though, rightly, he could have and should have done so. Misaki waited, not entirely certain of the outcome as he drew in a shaky breath, feeling more intensely the fingers wrapped supply around his waist, the other standing near, behind him. It was a heady sensation, one he did not know how to interpret. Haruhiko looked at him, and Misaki looked at Haruhiko. Neither dared utter a word.
After ages, it seemed, the moment shattered as quickly as it had begun.
Haruhiko righted him on his feet and then retracted his hold, taking a step away from the boy and turning in the opposite of directions.
Misaki, jettisoning his earlier sense of trepidation, was flooded with a niggling worry - of being the problem, once more. Perhaps, in the scheme of things, it would have been better, had their paths not crossed this day. Even though he was not in love with this man, Misaki guessed if he had to say, the other reminded him so much of Usagi-san at times that it was hard not to care for him. A little because of that, and a little because of Haruhiko-san being Haruhiko-san. That was all.
He didn't wish to make anyone feel upset on his account. At the same time, how could you apologize in this situation without crossing the invisible line that separated a sincere sorry from seeming like more?
With an uncomfortable pit forming in his stomach, Misaki realized that even though these meetings were terribly hard to navigate, he couldn't wish that they didn't occur. Maybe he was too carefree in nature, as Usagi-san often said that he was, but thus was his honest opinion. It was almost like he wanted to reach out to Haruhiko-san, as if they were more friends than acquaintances, but it never seemed to work, not with the animosity between the brothers, and Haruhiko-san's own feelings toward Misaki. Even so, they kept seeming to find their way back to each other, every now and then.
"Shall I call a car for you?" The elder finally spoke, turning to face the boy. "To bring you where you need to go."
"No," Misaki declined, quietly. There was so much on his mind that he had little energy to expend on speech. "I was walking before I came here, so I will finish walking home. Please don't worry about it."
. . . . .
After that, they had continued outside to the street, Haruhiko seeming insistent on at least escorting him that far.
Their goodbye had been minimal, the typical messages being exchanged, a 'see you again' in there somewhere even though neither could be sure they would. Their meetings after all, were sporadic, and always of the chance variety. Nothing was guaranteed.
Misaki had departed, or rather, began to, and Haruhiko had turned to go back to work when the younger was reminded that he had never thanked Usagi-ani for showing him around. And, compelled by it, he had turned to call out and speak his mind.
The man halted in mid-step, glancing narrowly over his shoulder.
"The building... i-it's very nice! I think you're doing great work, so keep it up! Thank you for letting me tour around with you today!" Misaki tried to save the moment as best as he could, and then another thought occurred to him. It might be, well, a little irresponsible, but he couldn't help but want to not leave on a weird note as he currently was, so he said it anyway.
"I was also thinking that, perhaps Haruhiko-san cannot be an architect, right, but Haruhiko-san still puts art into what he works on, so it's sort of like he hasn't abandoned his dreams after all. Maybe. Those might just be my thoughts, though."
With those sentiments, Misaki turned back to the street, determined to leave the time behind and get back to normal life.
Well, as normal as his life ever was these days. Soon enough Usagi-san would be back, and his pace would readjust to work the other's renewed presence back into his days. Misaki probably wouldn't mention today to the elder, for posterior and posterity's sake, as he only knew what effect it would have on the author's mood.
And, let's face it, there would be trouble for more than Misaki if he had to explain how he had spent the afternoon.
Yes, it was better that it never came up at all.
A/N: I'd appreciate any sort of review you can give me, or please check out some of my other stories! Thank you. :)
Serendipity is a term meaning "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise." I love how when I set out to write fluff, it never ends up quite "fluffy" in actuality. This story was also supposed to be "short." Yeah right, look at how that ended up. Stupid brain, cooperate with me for once! Lol.