Sorry that I've kept you waiting for so long! Here's the first chapter of the second act :) Thanks for your kind words and a happy and healthy 2014!
- ACT II -
Chapter 8 – Home to Hide
The ride home was awfully uncomfortable, so Misaki was more than happy when they finally reached Takahiro's apartment. He got out quickly while the driver retrieved his luggage and brought it to the front door. They walked there together and Misaki thanked the driver for everything, watching the man return to his car and drive away. Then, with a sigh, he turned back to the door. Slowly, he dug his hand into his pocket and searched for his spare key.
While his fingers roamed around, Misaki felt his body tremble with nervousness. He still wasn't entirely ready to face his brother and explain to him—or rather, lie—why he had come home and lost his job. Telling Takahiro he'd been fired didn't seem like a very believable excuse, mainly because he had worked for only a couple of days. That automatically meant that he was left with no other option than to pretend he couldn't adapt to the new circumstances.
Something cold touched Misaki's skin as he found the key. Pulling it out of his pocket, he carefully unlocked the door in hopes to be quiet. Hopefully, Takahiro was somewhere upstairs so he wouldn't hear him.
Misaki's hopes were shattered as he opened the door and noticed his brother standing in the hallway.
"Ah, Misaki," Takahiro said, surprise lacing his voice, "I didn't think you would come to visit me so soon."
"Nii-chan…" Misaki was about to explain, but stopped himself when brown eyes studied the suitcases on either side of him. He could see the confusion on Takahiro's face before he regained eye contact.
"Why did you bring all of your stuff back here? Did something happen?"
The heat outside was slowly becoming unbearable, so Misaki quickly lifted the suitcases, walked into the apartment and closed the door behind him. Not meeting his brother's gaze, he kicked of his shoes and left them in the genkan.
Takahiro didn't speak when Misaki passed him and followed the teen to the living room. There was something wrong with his younger brother, but the only thing he could think of was that Misaki had lost his job. He saw the boy walk to the kitchen and open the refrigerator.
"Misaki, you aren't ignoring me, are you?" Takahiro asked worriedly, wondering if something was bothering Misaki.
"N-no Nii-chan, I'm just hungry; I haven't had breakfast yet and it's almost time for lunch."
"You shouldn't skip breakfast, Misaki. That's unhealthy. Anyway, you didn't answer my question from before." Walking to the kitchen, Takahiro leaned against the counter and folded his arms. "Why have you come back so suddenly? I thought you were going to work there until summer break is over."
"I just…didn't like the atmosphere there," Misaki replied without looking at his brother, "The Honda family lives in a house that made me feel lonely. The feeling of not belonging there kept gnawing at me the entire time." It wasn't completely a lie; Misaki didn't feel very comfortable at the Honda Estate, even though Lillian and Jeff tried to make him feel at home. It was very unfortunate that Jeff's kindness only lasted for a while.
When Takahiro said nothing, Misaki concluded that the man believed his answer and carefully glanced over his shoulder. Takahiro was no longer looking at him, but seemed to be staring into nothingness. What was he thinking of?
"Oh, a good friend of mine is coming over today," Takahiro suddenly announced, "I didn't expect you to come home today, so I invited him over."
"That's okay," Misaki assured him as he brought the ingredients to the counter, "Don't mind me. I can eat upstairs if you think I'll be in the way here."
Takahiro frowned. "Why would you be in the way? Don't be ridiculous, Misaki." He patted the teen's back and stepped out of the kitchen, glancing at the clock. "It won't be long now. I don't think you've ever talked to him properly, but the two of you have met before."
"When was that?"
"At our parents' funeral…"
Misaki bit his lip harshly, cursing himself mentally for asking that question. He had already returned with bad news, so Takahiro was probably feeling a bit down. Talking about their parents wouldn't lighten up the mood. Deciding not to open his mouth again, Misaki quickly began to make himself a simple meal. His stomach was growling softly, causing him to blush. Skipping breakfast wasn't something he often did, especially since Takahiro always made sure he ate all of his meals. Sometimes, it made him feel like a child again.
Throughout the years, Misaki had tried to become more independent so he wouldn't have to rely on his brother anymore. He believed Takahiro had already done too much for him by raising him like a father and sacrificing his dreams. In addition, Misaki wanted to contribute to the family as well. Applying for a job to earn money had been one of his ideas, but that didn't turn out too well.
With a sigh, Misaki poked an egg with the chopsticks he was holding. The idea of going back to Jeff and offering to work for him again was out of the question. In fact, Misaki was sure he would be too scared to face the man alone and without Lillian he wouldn't last a single day there. The only option the brunet had was to look for more job offers in newspapers and on the internet, but he wasn't too confident about that either.
The doorbell rang and Takahiro ran towards the front door, a lot more excited than Misaki expected. Whoever this friend of his was had to be a very special person, because his brother hardly ever got that excited when they had visitors. Perhaps they hadn't seen each other for a long time.
As the door opened, Misaki could hear Takahiro greet the other cheerfully. He let his friend in and shut the door. Footsteps sounded as the two walked to the living room area, until one of the men abruptly stopped.
"What's he doing here?"
Misaki looked up as he recognized the voice. It was most certainly not his brother's, but he was sure he had heard it before. As his gaze traveled towards the couch, he was met with a lavender stare.
'Why in the world is he here?' Misaki wondered as the great author cocked his head.
Takahiro stood between the two with a confused look in his eyes. "Usagi, you remember Misaki, don't you?"
"Yes, but I thought he was working for the Honda family at the moment," Akihiko replied, directing his eyes upon his friend, "I wasn't expecting to run into to him here, not after seeing him yesterday."
"Oh, so the two of you have already talked to one another?"
"Hardly. Jeff knows how to keep his housekeepers busy. I can hardly imagine that your brother has time to visit you when he's got so much work to do." The tone in Akihiko's voice was emotionless, just like the look he was giving Misaki. The eye contact made the teen feel uncomfortable, so he swiftly averted his gaze and pretended to focus on cooking his meal.
"Usagi, Misaki doesn't work there anymore," Takahiro explained, "He says he didn't like the atmosphere there."
Enveloped by silence, Akihiko dug his hands into the pockets of his trousers. While Takahiro walked to the kitchen to pour him a cup of coffee, the novelist kept his eyes on the young brunet. The boy looked very different in his casual clothes, but the image of him in a maid costume was still fresh in Akihiko's mind. He wondered what had caused Misaki to either lose or quit his job.
It was unclear to the man why he was so interested in Misaki. Back at the Honda Estate, he had felt the same curiosity, and the feeling was only becoming stronger. Misaki was Takahiro's younger brother, but Akihiko had never been interested in him before. He assumed it had something to do with what he had witnessed back at Jeff's house.
"Misaki, are you still looking for a job?" Akihiko asked. He could see Misaki struggle for a moment before looking at him. The brunet nodded slowly, as though he was uncertain. "I could really use a housekeeper, in case you're interested."
Takahiro quickly shook his hands. "Usagi, you don't have to do that for us! You've never had a housekeeper before and I can see you're just saying this to help Misaki, but you don't have to drag yourself into this."
"What if I do need a housekeeper?"
"Why would you suddenly need one if you have lived by yourself for years?"
"I've been busy with work, so it's hard to do the chores around the house since I have too little time on my hands."
It looked like Takahiro wanted to say something, but he kept quiet and glanced at Misaki. When his brother got a job at the Honda Estate, Misaki had been so excited about it. Takahiro didn't want to throw this opportunity away and ruin his chances.
He did not know that Misaki wasn't all too pleased with the offer himself.
Misaki was tearing his lower lip with his teeth in frustration as he tried to make up his mind. After everything Akihiko had seen back at Jeff's house, Misaki found it hard to look him in the eye without remembering that embarrassing moment. Furthermore, he did not know if the man's intentions were as impure as the ones of his previous master and he was not looking forward to being raped again.
On the other hand, however, Misaki felt obliged to keep the promise he had made to himself about earning the money he needed for his tuition fees. If Akihiko made him an offer himself, what could be the harm of accepting it and see what he could make of it? Perhaps Akihiko wasn't as bad as Jeff, although his attitude didn't seem exactly refreshing to Misaki.
'It's worth a try,' the teen told himself, 'If he mistreats me, I can just threaten to reveal that to Nii-chan. He wouldn't want to risk their friendship over me…I suppose.' Misaki didn't want to destroy Takahiro's friendship with Akihiko, but it was a way to make sure that he wouldn't be manhandled again.
"All right," Misaki said, gaining Akihiko's attention, "Thank you for offering me a job. When would you like me to start working for you?"
Akihiko took a step forward. "You can go with me once you've finished your food," he replied.
"Are the two of you sure about this?" Takahiro asked uncertainly.
"Is that a problem, Takahiro?"
"No, not at all! If you're okay with it, then it's fine, Usagi."
A smile crossed Akihiko's features, causing Misaki to frown. He found it very strange to see the author act so friendly towards his brother compared to the cold attitude he had given the boy back at the Honda Estate. Furthermore, there was something suspicious about the look in Akihiko's eyes. He looked at Takahiro like he was the most precious person in the world to him.
Misaki remembered the conversation Akihiko and Jeff had the previous day. His ex-master mentioned something about a one-sided love, but did that mean that Akihiko was in love with Takahiro? It would explain why he was so eager to help them out by asking Misaki to work for him.
'If he thinks he can reel Nii-chan in by being nice to me, he's very wrong,' Misaki thought. His brother had never been interested in men before and he was always talking about getting a girlfriend and starting a family. It would take a miracle to turn Takahiro gay. With this in mind, Misaki finished his cooking and threw the omelet he made on a plate. As he walked to the dining table, he mentally prepared himself for what was about to come.
Didn't you all see this coming? xD Do you think Misaki and Akihiko will get along?
Thanks for reading and please review :3