"Why must it be me? Why must it be us?" he thought out loud.
As the little boy hugged his legs closer for warmth, he looked around the room where he saw all of the other kids. They were all broken, they gave up as soon they were forced on the truck to get here. They're all waiting for their turn to die in this place where unneeded kids are gathered. Looking up, the boy sees some of the kids from his shipment huddled together for warmth on the conveyor belts. They know they're going to be erased and won't even try to escape. How much longer will it take until it'll be his turn to leave this cold world?
"We will be crushing you into pieces now. You will all just become indistinguishable from another." The worker informed through his megaphone.
Does he really want this?
Just because he's not wanted he should let himself die?
His eyes widened as he realized. "I'm… not wanted?" He clutched his head in his hands and clenched his eyes shut as he painfully thought. Opening his eyes, he realized something. "Wait, that's not why I'm here. Is it?"
Then what was the reason?
Hearing the sounds of the others getting crushed throws the boy out of his thoughts. As the boy looks away from the conveyor belt and looks at the puffs of his breath floating up, he looks at the wall to see the large fans that are forever spinning and letting the light in through the gaps between their blades. The beautiful light is mocking him, the outside world is so close, yet he can never reach where the light is coming from. Tears are coming to the boy's now dim green eyes.
That light must be warm.
He reached out to grab it. To feel his last connection to the outside world. For some reason, that beautiful light created two silhouettes. A little girl and a grown man.
A gentle and sweet voice mixed with a baritone but warmhearted one tickled his ears.
Ritsu, we will always love you…
The girl's voice happily spoke out alone.
Ritsu, this is your chance!
His chance? For what?
However, he noticed the light growing dimmer. Their silhouettes were disappearing! There were probably clouds in the sky that were blocking the light. However, the boy didn't think of this possibility.
Panicking, the boy got up and reached out to his hallucinations with tears in his eyes. "Don't go!"
End of the dream…..
"Onodera... Onodera... Wake up..."
"...Father… don't... go...please..."
Onodera groans as he opens his wet eyes to see into beautiful brown ones hovering over him and finds himself being shaken around. Wait, what? It turns out to be Takano. As Takano stops shaking him, Onodera notices that his arm is raised up, just like in the dream. He puts it back down but can't stop the tears from flowing down his cheeks.
Even though he doesn't show it, seeing the man he's in love with crying is heartbreaking. So, Takano decides to get his spirits up in one of the many ways he knows possible. He pats his head and says, "Oi, crybaby, we're almost at our stop." He tells him.
"Who's the crybaby?!" he shouts as he turns to face him.
"The one with tears in his eyes." he chuckles as he wipes away Onodera's tears with his finger.
Flustered, Onodera faces away from Takano and looks around to see that he's on a train with him and Takano as the only passengers. "Ugh, What happened?" He can feel an oncoming headache.
"You passed out after handing in Mutou sensei's manuscript." He stated matter of fact. Passing out at work on the last days of the cycle was never a big deal. "Oh, for how long?"
"About three hours."
The young editor's eyes widen. "Three hours?! Why didn't you wake me up?!"
"I did. Why didn't you wake yourself up? I had to lug your ass all the way to the station." His reply was a dirty look from his grumpy subordinate.
Even though he feels grateful for what Takano did, Onodera can't help but be annoyed by this man so much right now. His headache is getting annoying as well so he decides to ignore whatever else Takano is saying and checks his phone for messages.
As Onodera checks his phone, Takano is kept to his thoughts and wonders about why Onodera was crying. Why did he say 'Father... don't... go...please...'? His parents… no, he told me they weren't divorced. Then why?
As he's still thinking, Onodera looks over his phone and notices a few missed calls from an unknown number. Figuring it was probably just a wrong number situation, he puts his phone away. Onodera forgets about Takano's presence until he starts talking. "Onodera, what kind of dream did you have?" Onodera jolts in his seat.
"W-Why do you ask?" Onodera looks at him for a second but then looks down and twiddles his thumbs.
"Well, you seemed troubled when you were sleeping. Plus you were calling out to your dad." Takano was sincerely worried for Onodera.
Thinking back on it, it was pretty strange. He hadn't really thought about his past as of late. "Well, it's none of your business" Onodera promised himself to never look back on those dark days.
Next thing he knows, Onodera is pulled back by a solid warm wall. "Onodera, if you're having nightmares you can always sleep with me." Takano's deep voice reverberates through both of their bodies as he whispers into Onodera's ear. "T-Takano-san!" Even though he's trying to fight off the oncoming warmth to his face, Onodera is also too tired to make any more of an effort to get away from his lover.
Being the stubborn editor he is, Onodera seals away his thoughts on the matter. This is not love! This is definitely not love! Now way in hell is this love! He mentally shouted. However, he can't help but be redder in the face. Takano notices his sudden reddening but doesn't say anything.
Walking off the train and out of the station, the two make for home. Since tonight was pretty cold, duo's breath puffed out of their mouths as if they were trains. They slowly neared their apartment building as Takano made his move. Taking his hand, Takano slightly chuckles as the groggy brunet starts getting his pep back. "Takano-san!"
"Come on. It's two in the morning and nobody's out here. Besides, aren't you cold?" He smirked. "If you want, when we get home we can-"
Blushing brightly, Onodera cuts him off. "Takano-san!" He was about to yell at him but was cut off as his phone started ringing. Looking at the caller I.D., he finds that it's Mutou sensei. "Go on, answer it."
"I know, I know." Onodera is still red in the face from both Takano's suggestion and their current close proximity.
Onodera takes a deep breath before pressing the talk button. "This is Onodera speaking. Yes! We managed to get it in! I want to thank you for your hard work and hope that we will continue working together!" Even after dealing with hell week and the jarring nightmare, the young editor can still pull of the cheery tone in his voice.
Onodera's eyes widen. "What?" Takano watches as Onodera's face goes paler by the second.
"Wait!" Onodera freezes up as he hears Mutou sensei get off the phone.
Beep... beep... beep
Since the volume of the phone wasn't very loud, Takano couldn't hear what Mutou sensei had said. All he can tell from Onodera's expression was that something bad just happened. It seemed as if it were the end of the world. "Onodera, what did she say?"
"M-M-Mutou sensei-" He was shaking uncontrollably as he tried to speak.
"Spit it out already!" The man is losing his patience.
Onodera slapped himself before trying again. "Mutou sensei quit!"
The rest of that night was filled with so much yelling it wasn't even funny. Maybe a little…
The next day…
Everybody is back in the office and it's the beginning of the cycle. All the men of Emerald have freshly recovered. All the men radiated sparkles and roses. Except for one man, Onodera Ritsu. For the entire day, Onodera was trying to convince Mutou to continue with her manga. "Mutou sensei, I beg of you..."
"The number you are trying to dial..." Onodera slumps in his seat as he finds that Mutou sensei's number is no longer even in service.
It seems that after a good number of his calls, she cut him off. The story of the runaway author had become known to all of the members of the maiden department.
The baby-faced Shouta Kisa patted Onodera's back." Don't worry Ricchan, it's not like it's fault your author decided to disappear off the face of the earth because you're a bad editor or something." Kisa's beginning of the cycle smile surrounded by imaginary flowers and sparkles only serves to make Onodera's misery more apparent.
Slumping even more in his seat. "Thanks, I feel so much better now."
Realizing his poor choice of words, Kisa tries to change the subject. "Umm, where's Takano-san?"
It seems that Emerald's handsome devil is nowhere to be seen. Mino looks up from his work. "Ah, he's at a meeting now. From what I've heard there's a new author that applied for an editor last night. However, something seems kind of off about this one."
Hatori raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?" Mino scratched his head as he contemplated on his next choice of words.
"Well, it seems that the author used to work with Onodera Publishing before applying here. While she was there she only made works of literature. She's actually gotten rather popular in a short period of time, however it seems that no one has ever seen her. Rumor has it that she sends a maid to submit her manuscripts and to talk to her editors. All that's known about her is her pen name 'Esmeralda'." Mino takes a sip of coffee.
This new spread of information sends a new wave of questions through everybody's mind. "Wait, if this author works in literature, then why is Takano-san involved in the meeting?"
"Well that's the odd part about her. She applied for an editor from Emerald."
"Why? Wouldn't it be normal for her to go to the literature department?"
Mino shrugged. "Yes, but she demanded for an editor from Emerald. Nobody knows why she did."
"Oh well, she'll most likely get rejected anyway." Kisa spun in his chair as he figured that this author will be old news quickly.
"Actually, she somehow managed to get her demand accepted." Takano manages to scare the editors by his sudden presence.
"T-Takano-san, how long have you been standing there?" Hoping that his boss hasn't been there for a long time, Kisa goes back to his work to avoid any reprimands.
"I just got here. Anyways, Onodera looks like you have a new author. Make sure she doesn't disappear off the face of the earth like your last author." The editors in the other departments who were listening in were in shock and thought, "Poor guy..."
He hates it when he's being humiliated. Getting up out of his seat, Onodera faces Takano. "Takano-san!"
Even though it's so much fun to watch the jaded editor get so riled up. The other editors of Emerald decide to just to go back to work so they won't get reprimanded and let the two rivals have their standoff. "Oh, right. I almost forgot." Takano reaches into his to pull out a slip of paper. "Here's your author's phone number. Make sure to call her."
Since Onodera doesn't want to make any more of a scene, he just takes the note, "…Got it, boss." and sits back down. As he looks at the phone number he realizes something.
I've seen this before. But where?
As he's lost in his thoughts, Kisa decides to ask, "Takano-san I was wondering, did you get to meet the author at the meeting?"
"No, I didn't. Why do you ask?"
"Well, I heard that nobody has ever seen her, so I was just wondering."
Takano shrugs. "As long as her work sells, she could be a psychotic hobo for all I care." Everybody can't help but sweat drop at his comment.
"Back to work everyone."
As everybody gets back to work, Onodera's cell phone vibrates. Takano sighs, "You never learn Onodera, no personal calls."
"I know already, I just forgot to turn my phone off." Onodera pulls out his cell phone and his eyes widen when he looks at the caller I.D.
The phone number is the same as the one on the slip Takano gave him!
Onodera mentally shouted, Now I remember! It's the missed caller from last night!
While contemplating whether or not to answer the phone with the others present, Onodera looks over his shoulder to see Takano surrounded by an ominous atmosphere. Panicking, Onodera accidentally presses the 'Talk' button. Realizing his mistake, he has no choice but to talk.
He takes a deep breath.
"This is Onodera speaking"
To be continued...
A/N: Please Review!