Disclaimer: Don't own anything except the plot and the name of the OC (she's actually not an OC, you'll see), all property of the gorgeous Nakamura-sensei :3
A/N: I'm hoping this one will be less disastrous then my last one- I have no idea how I wrote something so random. I'm going to attack it soon and churn out something better. If you haven't already read it, don't! I really need to edit it a LOT. Anyway, enjoy! This will be a oneshot if I don't get requests for more, and so I'm hoping for reviews~! Also dedicated to the Route- you guys know who you are!
Akihiko looked across the grounds nonchalantly; his cigarette angled upwards between his index and middle finger as he leaned against his Ferrari and blew a ring of smoke into the afternoon air. The bemused students who were just getting out mainly stayed away, except for the more curious ones, who wanted a peek at his car and observed him from a safe distance. Some of the girls giggled as they passed, with coy glances and skirts that flipped a bit too much in comparison to the wind. The realization made him shake his head- this was probably why he'd sworn off women at an early age.
"…he looks like Akihiko-san from the Junai novels!"
His lips curled up into an amused smile as a blonde (how unusual) senior screeched this nearby, making the two girls around her jump violently before they widened their eyes at him and began squealing. Another annoyed group hissed at them to shut up. Oh god. Schoolgirl dramatics.
"Dream on, girls! He belongs to Misaki-kun!" one of them declared, even as the giggling trio left, making the other team give him confused glances. He muffled his laugh at the statement, at which they fled as well.
Well perhaps not all women were that bad (the terror Aikawa included, he thought begrudgingly). It was entertaining to find fans from both genres, he guessed, but even better to find an expert who could tell what the genuine thing was. The thought brought a bigger grin to his face.
Speaking of which, the expert he'd come to meet was nowhere in sight.
"Usami-sensei?" Speak of the devil. Akihiko turned his eyes to see a pale brunette in glasses and a formal frock in front of him. He straightened up. "Yes?"
"I'm Ayuzawa Chiharu, the librarian. We spoke-?"(1)
"Ah, yes, Ayuzawa-sensei." Akihiko bowed, and she bowed back, a smile on her face. She looked just a little younger than him-maybe two years or three. "I am very much interested in this research material of yours- it quite tickled me to know you have such a collection."
She smiled again. "Then I shall be happy to show you around. Shall we?" She turned towards the school.
Akihiko followed. Somehow, he knew this visit was going to be memorable.
Misaki's old high school was surprisingly large. It was a public school, of course, but it was very well-maintained and spacious, inside and out. There was a row of tall trees surrounding the entire building, and falling sakura blossoms littered the path like something out of a shoujo manga. Akihiko was astonished to see some of the branches of the sakura almost hanging into the classroom windows of one of the wings which seemed to have fallen into disuse. Ayuzawa followed his eyes and laughed at his startled expression. "They've always been that way, ever since I was a junior, in fact. We students used to clear up the blossoms from the classrooms ourselves, since we wouldn't let the administration cut the trees. They demanded us to take responsibility. We didn't mind-we had the legend to think of!" She colored and stopped. "Pardon me, I'm rambling."
"No, it's interesting." Akihiko looked at her. "Legend, you said?"
"Um." She was flushing violently. "The materials! I hope you'll find them very useful!" She turned and hurried into the library, practically running the rest of the way.
He watched her go, his curiosity piqued. She reminded him eerily of his Misaki when he tried to hide something potentially embarrassing. Actually she reminded him of his editor more, when he blustered about something. Stubbing out his cigarette and lips curled in the same smirk, Akihiko followed her into the library at his own pace.
When he got inside, she seemed to have regained some of her composure. She was standing at the desk, looking over some papers hurriedly. The place was really rather modern, with sleek computers and laminated bookshelves filled with encyclopedias, much to Akihiko's surprise. After hearing from Hiroki about the scrolls Ayuzawa had collected, he had expected it to be nothing short of ancient. This wasn't exactly the environment Hiroki would like. She looked up at him as he stared. "Sensei, I hurried ahead and got out some of the manuscripts for you before you arrived. That was part of the reason I was slightly late."
He nodded at her. "Ah, this place looks new?" He motioned to the row of computers against the wall.
"Oh, this is the new library. It was opened five years ago. The old one was the one you were staring at outside, Sensei."
"I see." He glanced out of the window at the old wing again, weather-browbeaten and cozy against those trees, the first storey nearly hidden by lovely pink-covered branches.
Ayuzawa was definitely holding back a smile when he turned to look at her a full minute later. "I suppose you also prefer the same environment as Kamijou-san?"
He shrugged. "I am a bit too obvious, am I not." It was a statement.
"Not as obvious as the Youkai, who had no qualms over making his displeasure known…"She muttered, much to the blond's amusement, and sighed, seeming to be warring with herself over something. "I'll take you there, Sensei."
"It isn't really necessary," he started to say. To his surprise, Ayuzawa merely shook her head, a strange smile on her face. "It's all right. The janitress has a key. And you might find some books there that might help your work." He followed her again out of the place, more than a little curious. She walked up to the janitress who was sweeping the compound and he watched from a distance as she talked to the woman chirpily and got the key. She walked back to him. "The old library's on the first floor- can you go on ahead and unlock the door? I'll go get the scrolls."
Akihiko nodded and set off towards the old wing. The entire place was now devoid of students, as it was well past the end of the school-day. The wind blew the falling blossoms round his feet as he trudged up the path.
How many couples had walked up this path, in all the giddy innocence of their first love, as fulfilling or hopeless it might have been? Were there any initials carved into those trees in that small wilderness behind the school? How many hearts had been broken under that huge sakura tree with those far-reaching branches?
The door had a rusty lock-but not too unused. Akihiko, being Akihiko, nearly cut himself trying to get the lock open anyway, but managed to do it. The air was relatively clean for an unused wing. The blond slowly stepped into the place and blinked.
The air was musty, and the curtains had not been washed in a few years. It would have been a bit suffocating if not for the surprisingly clean floor and desks. The old library was actually quite large. There were little corner tables and huge bookshelves, as well as the big tables the size of pews. The smell of old books, always addictive, combined with the sunlight pouring in through the only glass window that didn't have a curtain, gave it an odd sort of feel. Nostalgic in a way he couldn't explain. And good gracious, why were the tables littered with petals? He glanced to the open window and saw the culprit-that outstretched branch again.
Romantic, he mused.
"It's oddly romantic, isn't it? The principal disapproved of the sakura- good gracious, I must have left the window open when I came for the scrolls." Ayuzawa's cheerful voice broke him out of his reverie. She came up behind him, beelining for the nearest table and dumping the armload of material there before settling down herself.
"It's…inspirational." Akihiko pulled out a chair and sat down, deciding to leave it at that. Misaki would have never been in this library. Heck, he probably hadn't even been to the new one, he realized. As much as he loved the boy, he had to admit that the books in here would be an overload for his brain. Good thing he had Hiroki and Onodera for that.
"He'd love it here too." Akihiko didn't realize he'd said it out loud until Ayuzawa looked at him. "Who?"
"Oh, I meant my last editor. I'm pretty sure he was in your year." He vaguely remembered Onodera saying he'd studied here for a while before he left for England. It was this school, wasn't it? Strange he didn't notice before, when he saw the sign outside.
"What's his name? I used to be the library monitor, I might remember him." The woman was now sorting through the pile, not really paying attention. "Now where's that book I took home…" She picked up her bag and rummaged through it. Akihiko grabbed a book on top-a first edition of Queen's Circus. A common book, but one he'd loved wildly as a child.
"Onodera Ritsu. You've heard of-"
There was a crash. Akihiko looked up at the librarian. She looked a bit shocked. "Oh, pardon me!" She picked up the bag she had dropped.
What exactly was this about?
"You knew him?"
"Ah, I know him. Light brown hair, green eyes? He was a voracious reader, too."
Know, not knew. "One of his friends, I presume? He seems to have very few." Well, he had that clingy fiancée of his, but really that one didn't count for much. He doubted if Onodera was even straight, after the time he'd seen him checking out Kusama at the flower shop.
Akihiko inwardly chuckled at the thought. Hiroki, as much as he liked the studious boy, would've killed him if he'd seen him that day.
"Um, you could say that. I used to know him at school-we even went to the same college in England. We met very recently though, at the Marukawa Christmas party. He looked very busy."
"I apologize for manipulating his outside time." Truthfully, he thought it was a good thing that Onodera hadn't been seen by any of his associates recently. The last time he'd come over, it was because Misaki had dragged him in from where he'd fainted in the genkan (it hadn't been an amusing sight). Being a shoujo manga editor was no joke. A charming smile was aimed at her. She shook her head, amused. "It's not like that, Sensei. I'm a school acquaintance of his at best."
"Ah, his fiancée would be upset, otherwise." Test the waters. The librarian frowned, looking down at her book. "He's not even st-" She stopped abruptly, and started rummaging in her bag.
Not even straight? How did she know?
"Anyway, he loved this place. He was my kouhai, actually. I remember him taking out some really bizarre books." She had gotten up to put in the biography in a nearby shelf and was turned away from him. Akihiko thought how to best approach the situation. Should he say it subtly?
And then like a stroke of luck, her bag slipped from her hand again. He saw her bend down to pick it up and at the same moment, caught a glimpse of the pink book in the front chain. A Sapphire Bunko magazine.
"You read boys' love?"
"GYAH!" She turned, ten different shades of red. "Ah, etto-! It's-!" The blushing subsided, and a strangely defiant expression appeared, and she turned away again. "Yes. Is there anything wrong with that?" Yes, he could see why this woman would be Onodera's friend-they were very alike.
"Not at all. To each their own opinions. So Onodera isn't straight, is that what you were about to say?"
The silence was deafening.
"I could get you Akikawa sensei's autograph. I'm fond of those works myself."
Ayuzawa turned to him, a familiar fangirl light brewing in her eyes. "Are you serious, Sensei?!"
"…on one condition."
"You will tell me the story you've been dying to say ever since we stepped foot in this place."
A flush bloomed on her cheeks. "Sensei, it's really not my place to…"
"And exactly who Saga was."
Her eyes had widened. "How would you…"
Akihiko chuckled, remembering Onodera's babbling about some Saga-senpai in his sleep after Misaki set him on the couch. "I have no interest in him, I assure you. I came here for a plot, and I'm sure my friend Akikawa would like one too."
Ayuzawa seemed to be struggling with her conscience again.
"And I'll throw in a signed collection of the Junai Romantica novels."
Ayuzawa gave up. "I can't say no to that. But please promise me that you will not reveal to anyone that I told you this. Even Onodera-kun doesn't know that I knew." Emphasis on the letter I. Akihiko was amused- did she guess the habit of using real people for those light novels? Was this her way of giving permission?
(Not that he needed it, period.)
"I solemnly swear I won't."
She nodded. "I suppose it's a good thing you don't have an interest in Onodera-kun, seeing that he never got over his first love."
"Ah. So that's who Saga was?"
"Yes, Saga Masamune, an upperclassman. He worshipped him as a teen-still now, even after all that."
Masamune…now where had he heard that name before?
"It was rather cute, that's what we thought, how he used to stalk him- he was only twelve or thirteen…"
Twilight was descending when Ayuzawa finished. She was pensively staring down at the table. Akihiko simply stared out of the window.
He'd learnt a lot about Onodera Ritsu today, in half an hour. And, he supposed, Saga Masamune too.
I think I have material for a new story.
The blond closed his eyes. The scenario he was thinking of was terribly like that of Love in the Student Council Room- a story of heartbreak, based on real life. Only difference (besides the fact that he had never dated or done unmentionable icky things to his other best friend) was that he had no idea why they'd broken up. Maybe he could formulate that himself?
"I wish the legend of the sakura tree had been true. You know, they stopped carving their names into the bark after the soulmate thing was trashed. Worse part is- neither of them found out that the girls were all aware of them. At least it's a good thing for the tree," Ayuzawa looked sad. Akihiko was surprised to find he felt a little bad himself. Onodera was a good kid- someone who deserved a bit of happiness, not an unbearably girly fiancée hounding his steps.
"I don't think he'll ever get over it. I know people say that all the time- but it's been ten years. He hasn't made an effort."
"I see." The human mind was a complicated thing, and Onodera was a stubborn guy. Stubborn enough to never let anyone into his heart again. For a moment, he almost sympathized with Kohinata-san.
Ayuzawa had paused. "Wait. On consideration, he did look a little better the last time I saw him. Irritated, but better. His boss seemed to annoy him a lot. You've heard of him perhaps- the head editor of Emerald?"
Who hadn't, if they'd worked for Marukawa? "Ah yes. Takano his name was, I think."
Akihiko's phone began to ring. A message from Misaki. /When are you coming home?/
"I'm sorry- I really have to go. I wasn't planning on staying very long."
"That's fine. I wanted to drop by the used bookstore anyway-it closes in an hour." She looked at her watch. "I wouldn't mind letting you borrow this."
"Thank you, that's very kind of you." Akihiko stood up at the same time as Ayuzawa. She began gathering up the scrolls again. The blond looked at the tables, wondering exactly where the two used to sit. Misaki has turned me into a sap, he thought ruefully, even as they exited silently out of that lovely, peaceful haven.
I won't write a tragedy, he thought. The real thing might be one, but not the story. It'll be beautiful.
"Ah, sensei?" He turned to the blushing librarian. "Hmm?"
"P-please give my regards to Suzuki-san!" (2) And with that she was fleeing back into the school.
Akihiko's chuckles lasted all the way to the gate, and faded when he looked back at the building when he was about to start his car. So many details, he mused, so little time to jot them down. He shook his head and started his getting into his car.
And gawked at the two people coming down the street, arguing loudly. He closed the door. Was that Onodera? With his boss?
"Takano-san! What on earth?"
"I could ask you the same question, Onodera. Why didn't you tell me you were coming here? We could have taken the same train."
"Well I didn't know you were coming here! I only came to take a look at the place, I was visiting the bookstore!"
"My manga-ka was here for a reference a while ago, she just left. We were in the adjacent café, you baka. How on earth did you miss us?"
"Oh, so now you're going on dates with Ichinose-sensei?"
"...Ritsu." Oh, this was getting interesting. Were the two of them dating?
"Onodera-kun." Onodera looked up, a little shocked. "Sensei!" A smile broke across his face. Akihiko was amused to see the scowl which darkened the other man's face at the cheerful greeting.
"I don't believe we've met."
"Usami Akihiko, and you are?"
The necessary introductions done and cards exchanged, he studied the head editor's features. The man was his height, with dark hair and hazel eyes half-hidden by glasses. He was dressed in a long trench coat, the kind he preferred as well, and a blue T-shirt and stonewashed jeans. Onodera had on a long sleeved red T-shirt and jeans as well. They looked quite well together.
"I'd love to stay and chat, but Misaki's at home waiting. He'll be worried if I don't make it for the candlelight dinner." Takano's jealous expression relaxed a bit, even as Onodera's face fell. "Oh, all right. See you, sensei!"
Akihiko nodded at them in farewell and got into his car. Just before he left, he caught a snippet of their conversation.
"-he was your favorite in high school, too, I remember…"
Akihiko started up the engine, a smile forming on his lips. "I see…" Perhaps he was going to be able to write that happy ending after all.
His phone rang even before he turned the corner. Annoyed, he flipped it open. "Yes?"
"Did you get those materials? Aikawa-san's here already to check on you!"
Akihiko chuckled, mood suddenly improved at the lilting voice of his little lover. "Yes I did. Tell her I have the ideas for my new novel- as well as a new BL."
"Oh great! Wait- a BL?!"
"And I'll need you to give an autograph for a fan."
Somewhere nearby, even as an irate boss tried to kiss him against a wall, Onodera Ritsu sneezed.
Little did he know what he was getting himself (and his significant-not-yet-other) into…
A/N: Well, that's it! Will be in the JR section for now. If you guys demand it, there'll be more chapters for you. REVIEW, EVERYONE, IF YOU WANT YUMMY NOSTALGIA CHAPTERS :3
AND, everyone who gets all the canon references (both JR/SiH) will get internet cookies. :)))
(1) Ayuzawa Chiharu is real. Sort of. Remember the library monitor who says "Book returns?" to Saga in the OVA? Lol, I know I'm obsessive with details…
(2) Suzuki-san here refers to Misaki. In the Junai novels, to the best of my knowledge, his surname is Suzuki. ^3^
To Don't Preach- Thank you, dear divinity, for your words! I actually don't know if janitress IS a real word :P