Disclaimer: I don't own Sekaiichi Hatsukoi.

Warning: Takano likes to swear a lot in the beginning.

Because I Love You

Everybody had already left an hour ago. So why was Onodera still here? Oh, that's right: because his boss had ordered him to.

Why did Onodera have to stay? He had already finished all his work for today, so there was nothing left for him to do but to sit around and look stupid. So why did Takano want him here? It was pointless.

Irritated, Takano put his feet up on his desk, crossing his legs. He was holding a phone up to his ear. "I don't give a fuck," he said. "If she can't write, then that's her own damn problem."

"Ugh..." Onodera let his head drop to the desk. "It's getting late... Can't I just go home yet...?"

"Well, what the fuck do you want me to do about it?" Takano countered. His brown eyes were narrowed from both his anger and exhaustion.

Assuming that he was speaking to him, Onodera lifted his head and stared at Takano with an exasperated expression.

"The storyboards are already late enough as it is," Takano continued. "If you're her client, you should know."

Onodera let his head fall down once more. Smack.

Great... Now he was being ignored...

Takano sighed, leaning back in his chair. He put a hand to his face, frustrated. "Let me speak to her, then..." He held the phone away from his face and waited, as if he knew what to expect.

"GODDAMMIT!" A feminine voice on the other line roared. "Do you really have to be so goddamn insensitive all the time!?"

Takano put the phone back to his ear, gazing up at the ceiling, freezing for some time. "Look... Listen...," he carried on in a gentler tone. "Is it really so much to ask of you to finish it within a week?"

"Huh? You're... extending the deadline?"

"It depends. Will you be able to get it done in that amount of time?"

"What? Really!?" The girl on the other line squealed. "Th-Thank you so much!"

"I asked you a damn question. I didn't say...-"

"Uh - yes! I-I promise to get it done in that amount of time!"

"That's good to know." Takano sat up. "Because if you don't, by the time you do hand it in, I will rip it up in front of your face."

The girl on the other line became speechless, most likely due to her shock, choked-up in her tears.

"So just remember that, 'kay? Bye." Takano hung up the phone.

Onodera should have sneaked away awhile ago, while Takano was still on the phone. Now he had to deal with a higher risk of being caught, and he wasn't exactly relishing in that thought. He stood up, gathering his coat as he made his way to the door. "Uh... Takano-san?" He did his best to sound as nonchalant as ever. "I'm gonna go home now, so... See you."

Takano held his pounding head up with a hand, his elbow on the desk. "Where the hell do you think you're going? I didn't make you stay overtime without a reason, you know."

"Ugh... Crap."

"What was that?"

"Uhh, nothing!"

Takano got up. "Shall we be setting off, then? Where to? Your place or mine?" He met with Onodera by the door.

"Preferably... neither." Onodera began walking off.

Takano followed. "Then your place it is."

"What!? I said 'neither,' you asshole! Just go home alone for once, will you?" Onodera stomped over to the elevator, pressing the "down" button firmly.

Takano met with him again, resting his shoulder against the wall, in between the two elevators. "I can't," he said.

"What do you mean, 'you can't?'"

An elevator door opened, and Onodera stepped in. And of course, Takano was sure to copy.

Takano slumped his back against one of the walls inside the elevator. It seemed that at every opportunity he got, he was always supporting his weight against one thing or another... Onodera wondered if he was really that tired.

"Because I love you, that's why," he answered at last.

Onodera's cheeks flushed a bright red.

"Is... is that your excuse for everything?"

"... Isn't it yours too?"

"Huh?" Onodera stepped out of the elevator, right after the doors had fully opened. "I don't know what you're talking about..."

Takano did the same without uttering a word. He slowly lagged from behind, the distance between the two of them growing further and further apart.

Onodera noticed this and looked back. After a brief pause, he yelled, "Hurry up! Are you coming or what?"

Onodera was starting to worry. Not only was Takano refraining to yell on the phone (like he usually does), but now he was being silent through most of the bus ride home. Was that really like him? Onodera had to wonder...

Time ticked by. Onodera just had to point it out.

"You're acting strange," he said.

Takano merely glanced at him.

"Are you feeling okay? You look tired..."

Takano pressed back, relaxing himself as he spread his arms across the top of the seat. "I haven't slept in three days...," he bluntly said.

"What!? Three days!? That's insane! Go to bed already!"

Takano presented Onodera with a tiresome look. "On the bus?"

Onodera gave a stupefied look in return. "Oh yeah..." He directed his attention on something else, so long as it wasn't on Takano.

"Besides, even if I was at home, I still couldn't sleep."

Onodera gazed back at him with a concerned look. "Why not?"

"Because I love you."

"HUH!?" Onodera blushed. "D-Don't say that kind of stuff when people are around!"

"But it's true."

"True or not, I won't let you say that on the bus."

"It's not like anybody is listening...," Takano said, now leaning an elbow on the arm of the bus seat, his cheek in hand.

"You don't know that. And, anyway... How is... 'that...' affecting your sleep?"

"Because I can't stop thinking about you. Isn't it obvious?"

"You couldn't stop thinking about me for three whole days!? Are you crazy!?"

Takano smiled for the first time that evening. "I'm crazy for you."

Onodera briskly turned his head away as soon as he felt another blush creep its way toward his face. "You're unbelievable...," he muttered.

"... Aren't you going to ask what I was thinking about you?"

"No, because I'm afraid to find out."

Takano yawned. "Go on. Ask."

"... Fine. What were you thinking about me?"



People on the bus turned to look at them.

Again, Takano smiled. "You asked."

"Th-That's only because you told me to!"

"Nobody said you had to obey me."

"Arrgh! Unbelievable! That's it!" Onodera stood up. "I'm not sitting by you anymore!" He searched around frantically for a seat; but much to his dismay, there was only one available in sight - and that was the one directly opposite from Takano. He reluctantly seated himself there.

What damned convenience...

Takano didn't hesitate to ask, "So you sit across from me?"

"Shut up!" Onodera snapped. "There's nowhere else to sit!"

"Heh. All you're doing is creating a scene..."

Onodera glared. How could Takano remain so composed like that? Whatever. It didn't really matter, just so long as people would stop staring at them... But even when everybody had stopped staring, Onodera still couldn't help but feel uneasy.

When the bus had finally stopped, Onodera shot up at once and said, "Thank God!" And with that, he stormed his way off the bus.

They weren't too far from the apartment now. Onodera felt relieved because the weather had already gotten a lot colder than he had remembered it to be. He suspected they'd arrive in just a matter of minutes. He kept his attention drawn to the road ahead of him, trying his hardest not to glance back at Takano, who was having trouble keeping up with Onodera's pace.

'Seriously, what is wrong with him today?' Onodera wondered. 'Should I slow down?'

"... Ritsu...," Takano murmured.

Onodera heard him and turned around. He found him on the ground, with only his hands and knees to support him.

Shocked, Onodera's eyes widened. "T-Takano-san!" He quickly ran to his side, kneeling down to him, touching him. "What's wrong?"

Takano's breath became shallow. Frost emitted from his mouth like a fire-breathing dragon. His hair hung over his eyes, blurring his vision. "Tell me who you're in love with, Ritsu...," he whispered.


Was there really something the matter or was Takano just faking it?

"You're in love with me, aren't you?" Takano asked. He let himself fall into Onodera's arms. "Tell me who..."

"T-Takano-san!" Onodera glanced about anxiously, then fixed his eyes onto Takano again, after he had discovered how many people were watching them. "Please stop. Th-There are people watching us..."

"Not until you tell me you love me..."

"D-Don't be ridiculous. Is there really something wrong with you or not? Can you stand up?" Onodera tried to help Takano up, but Takano put hardly, if any, effort into it. He just fell back into place, into his beloved's arms.

Takano closed his eyes, dozing off.

"... T-Takano-san?" Onodera asked, hoping to get a reply. When he didn't, he began rummaging his brain for another solution. "Uh... Umm..."

Finding no better way, he lifted Takano up from under his arms, beginning to drag him for what was sure to be an awfully long time (or so Onodera figured). Onodera just feared what the others around him might think.

It was strange, by the way Takano tossed his head to the side, with his hair tossing along with it... It seemed as though he was already asleep, caught in a dream. And as Onodera was dwelling on that, he could hear Takano say, "Say you love me, Ritsu...," under his breath. It caught Onodera by surprise, causing him to blush.

How did it become so hot despite the weather?

Just then, somebody passed by, and Onodera immediately went into panic-mode. "Um, don't mind me!" He said. "He's a little drunk, so... " He shot Takano a glare - and then, in a hushed voice, he said, "Come on, Takano, do I really have to drag you all the way back to the apartment?"

Takano just barely opened his eyes. "If that's what it takes, so be it."

"Huh!? Are you serious!? That's stupid! You're acting just like a kid!"

"If you don't like it, do something about it. Tell me you love me."

"I-I'm not going to say that!"

Takano started to doze off again. "Then suffer..."

In response, all Onodera could do was mope and groan. He unwillingly continued to carry Takano the way he did - but that was only because he... Because he...

Actually, when Onodera really thought about it, he wasn't exactly sure why he was doing this in the first place. Carrying Takano served him no benefit of his own, so why should he bother? Why should he care?

After he managed to drag Takano into the apartment building, he was huffing and heaving like crazy.

Why was he doing this for Takano? Takano had been nothing but a nuisance to him for the longest of time, and yet... Could it be...?

Could it be...

An act of...


Hell no. There was no way. Helping someone out in need was a natural response, wasn't it? And... Anyway, it's not like Onodera would ever admit to something like that. Not to himself, not to others, not to anyone. But... The strangest part was, was that he couldn't very well deny it, either.

Takano was quiet, as if he were tuning into Onodera's thoughts. After awhile, though, he broke the silence that was once showering above the two and said, "You know... you breathing like that kinda sounds like-"

"Don't say it!" Onodera growled, instantly torn away from his thoughts.

A smirk spread across Takano's lips. "Okay," he said.

The silence resumed.

"This dragging thing is a lot of work," Takano said, once more breaking the silence. "I'm thirsty."

"What are you talking about!?" Onodera shouted. "I'm the one doing all the work!"

"Can we drop by the vending machine? I wanna grab a soda."

"No! We're almost there, anyway!"

At last, they finally made it to the apartment and Onodera had to set Takano upside the wall just so he could reach into his pocket and find his keys. When he had found his keys and was about to open the door, a woman had caught his eye before he could do much further. The woman was staring at Onodera, then at Takano, and then back at Onodera again.

Onodera waved his hands dismissively at her. "Uh, nothing to see here. Just go back to whatever you were doing, miss."

'Damn Takano... I'm going to kill him for putting me through so much pressure...,' Onodera thought.

The woman carried on, and Onodera was back to dragging Takano again, only now he was almost finished (thankfully). He dragged Takano into the apartment and, sprawling out on the floor, he sighed. Takano had sunk down along with him, his head laying just below his diaphragm.

"Man, you are a weakling..."

"Sh-Shut up...," Onodera gasped. "Could you... could you close the door, please...?"

With one foot, Takano closed the door - and in no time at all, he was on his knees, undoing Onodera's pants. Onodera didn't quite seem to notice this (at least not at first)...

"What are you doing...?" He asked. When he looked down, he couldn't believe his eyes. "AHHH! You can't just do that! Idiot!" He really wanted to kick him for that, but instead, he just scooted out from underneath him. Unfortunately... Takano was quick to pin him down again.

"I was suffering too, you know," Takano said. "Listening to you pant like that was torturous."

Onodera snapped his head away, his cheeks aglow. "Y-Yeah, and you weren't kidding when you said all you could think about was sex for three straight days, were you!?"

"What do you expect? We haven't had sex for almost a week now."

Onodera only grew redder. "A-And let's keep it that way, please!" He shoved at Takano's chest, although it wasn't that hard at all.

"Ritsu." Takano ran his hand up and under Onodera's shirt, feeling his skin. "You know sex isn't all I ever think about, right?"

"I-I don't care what you think about. Just stop."

Once more did Onodera try to escape, and once more did Takano prevent his leave.

Closing in on him, Takano said, "I think about you much, much more than that."

It was at that time that Onodera's heart beat faster, ready to burst at any given moment. And he couldn't help but ask:

"What... do you... think of me...?"

"Lots of things," Takano replied simply, as if he was just given the easiest question in the world. "I think about our past, our present, our future. I think about why I couldn't respond properly to you back then - back when you asked me if I loved you. I think about when you might tell me you love me again, like you did so many years before."

Tears began to build in Onodera's eyes. He did his best to hide them as he shook away his head. "Why... would you... think these sorts of things...?"

"Because I love you, of course."

Speechless, Onodera's cheeks reddened more. His hair swooped over his eyes, masking his emotions. "... Takano-san..."

"Do you think about me too, Ritsu?"

"... I... Um..."

"What do you think of me? Tell me."

Onodera wanted so badly to say what was on his mind. He wanted so badly to know why it was so hard to tell Takano that he loved him.

"Do you love me?" Takano persisted. "If so, how will I know?"

"Be... cause... Isn't... isn't it obvious...?"

"Huh? Isn't what obvious?"

"I mean..." Onodera became flustered. "I just carried you all the way to my apartment! D-Do you really think I would do any of that if I didn't love you!? Why should I have to tell you!? I-It's because I love you that I..."

Wait. What... what did he just say?

Startled, Onodera looked quickly to absorb Takano's surprised expression, confirming for sure that he had just blurted out exactly what he hadn't hoped for. Soon, he felt his eyes growing wide as well - as he knew for sure, by at this point, his face was as red as an apple.

"I... mean..." He dug through his memory for words to say - anything, just so long as it would relieve him from this embarrassing situation.

Jumping to his feet, he shouted, "I'm going home!"

Takano questioned his motives, eyeing him with a face full of boredom. "You're already at home."

"Th-Then I'm going to my room!" Onodera declared, marching towards his room.

"Ritsu...!" Takano chased after him, grabbing him by the arm. He pushed him against the wall. "Say it again," he ordered.

Sweat started to drip down Onodera's face. He knew he was trapped.

"S-Say what again? I-I have no idea what you're talking about, Takano-san. Your sleep-deprived brain must be causing you to hallucinate. You should probably go and lay down now."

The look on Takano's face showed no signs of "laying down," as Onodera had said.

"... Truly, you are the absolute worst... Fine then," Takano unzipped Onodera's coat, "If you're not going to tell me, then I guess I'll just have to pound it out of you."

"W-W-What exactly does that mean!?"

"Come closer and I'll show you."

Reluctantly (however, eager to know), Onodera inched toward Takano, slowly and painfully shortening the distance between their lips. He already had a clear image of what Takano had in mind.

And Takano had done just that: he had planted a kiss right on Onodera's mouth.

Days until Onodera tells Takano that he loves him again:

Who knows?