Another part is done and this one is a bit longer than the previous ones :D

I would also like to announce that I'm working hard on the next chapter for 'Just a Boy', so I hope I can update that story this weekend.


Part III

The very moment the door closed, Misaki began to feel even more terrible than before. He felt like a complete loser for not being able to tell Akihiko he loved him. It was unclear to him why it was still so difficult to say it after he had accepted his feelings for said man.

Once again, his own stupid pride had to get in the way. It seemed like some part of him refused to believe that he was attracted to someone of his own gender. He had accepted Akihiko's love, so was this denial something subconscious? Either way, Misaki knew he had to fight it, or he would end up hurting Akihiko even more.

Misaki sighed loudly. Wasn't it already too late for that? His beloved had left the house to be away from him. It wasn't unthinkable that Akihiko's patience had reached its limit. In fact, it was a miracle that he hadn't grown tired of the brunet after so long.

How much longer would it take before Misaki's behavior really drove Akihiko away?

Shaking his head, Misaki let his body fall sideways and met the cold wall. He felt absolutely miserable for making his lover suffer. Akihiko always gave him so much love; why couldn't he return his feelings with words?

"I have to change," the brunet told himself, "If I want Usagi-san to be happy, I have to become more confident about our relationship." Although he knew it wasn't going to be all that easy, Misaki was determined the achieve this. He had to do it, or he might lose Akihiko forever.

Pushing himself back up, the young man began to walk around the penthouse. His mind came up with a small speech for when Akihiko came back home while Misaki paced back and forth.

"Let's see now…I guess Usagi-san will still be upset, so I have to be careful and avoid saying something stupid. Should I tell him that I missed him? No, that wouldn't be right after the argument we had. I should stay on-topic and express my feelings at the same time."

All the thinking was giving Misaki a headache. Since he had never been good at expressing himself in the romantic way, this was a real challenge for him. It didn't help at all that Akihiko was the first person the brunet had ever fallen in love with, because it made him inexperienced and very timid. It was about time for him to break out of his shell and become proud of his love for Akihiko.

Misaki stopped in his tracks, took a deep breath and continued.

"Usagi-san, I'm sorry for making you feel so insecure. Ijuuin-sensei has always been a person I admire, but he's nothing more than that. I could never love him, because…I love you. There's no way Sensei could ever replace you."

The words were being repeated inside Misaki's head and embarrassed him immensely, but he told himself there was no reason to be ashamed. Every word came from the bottom of his heart, just like he had intended. This was what Akihiko had been waiting for those four years. If this didn't wash away all of the author's doubts, Misaki didn't know what to do anymore.

The only problem was Akihiko's absence, so Misaki hoped his lover would return soon. It couldn't take that long, unless the novelist had planned to stay out the entire day. If Misaki called him, would he pick up his phone? The brunet doubted it; Akihiko clearly didn't want to talk.

The sound of the doorbell brought Misaki back to reality. He dashed towards the door, his heart jumping a little in excitement at the thought that Akihiko had come back. When he reached the door, Misaki took a deep breath and grasped the doorknob. Upon opening the door, he discovered that it wasn't Akihiko, but Ijuuin.

"Ah, Sensei! What a surprise to see you here." Misaki laughed nervously as he held the door in his left hand. "Would you like to come in?" He stepped aside swiftly and Ijuuin entered the penthouse, examining his surroundings.

"Usami-sensei's place is very nice," the mangaka said, "You're doing at good job at keeping this place clean."

"Thank you." After closing the door, Misaki walked to the kitchen. "Have a seat, Sensei. I'll make you some tea."

Ijuuin smiled gently and sat down on one of the sofas. When he noticed Suzuki-san, he patted the bear's head before his attention turned back to Misaki.

"Is Usami-sensei not here?"

"No," Misaki replied, "He's out to buy cigarettes." He didn't want to tell Ijuuin about the fight he and Akihiko had earlier, as he knew it would only encourage the man to make a move—and Misaki was most certainly not in the mood for that. "If you want to talk to him, I'm afraid you'll have to wait a little longer."

"Not necessarily," Ijuuin admitted, crossing his legs, "I came here to talk to you, Takahashi-kun."

A sudden feeling of fear enveloped Misaki's mind while he poured the tea into the cups. Although he could've seen this coming, he wasn't prepared to talk to Ijuuin. Obviously, the man wanted to know the reason why he hadn't responded to his note in any way. Perhaps telling him that his feelings were only one-sided would solve to problem, but how was Misaki supposed to say it? He had never been good with words.

With a fake smile on his face, Misaki walked to the living room area and handed Ijuuin his tea. He then took a seat across from him and carefully took a sip from his own drink.

"Takahashi-kun, I gave you a note earlier," Ijuuin said with a calm voice, "Did you read it?"

Had he been good at lying, then the young man would have denied it. However, he was aware of his facial expression betraying him whenever he told a lie, so he decided against it. Instead, he glanced up at the mangaka and nodded quickly.

"Yes, I have read it."

"That's good, but how come you haven't replied to my note? Has Usami-sensei been keeping you busy?"

Misaki put his tea cup down with a slight shake of his hand. There was no forcefulness behind Ijuuin's words, but he knew the man was offended and wanted an explanation immediately. This was the moment where Misaki had to clear things up. No matter how afraid he was, he had to explain that he couldn't love Ijuuin…and for that, he was going to have to admit his feelings for Akihiko.

Growing uncomfortable with the stare Ijuuin was giving him, Misaki chose to answer the mangaka's question.

"Sensei, I know you like me and I do appreciate your offer, but I simply can't meet up with you," he spoke softly, trying to stop his voice from quivering. He stared at his tea cup, not wanting to meet the other's gaze.

Ijuuin smiled to himself. "It isn't because you can't," he replied calmly, "It's because Usami-sensei doesn't want you to talk to me, isn't it? I'm aware that he doesn't like me, especially since he knows about my feelings for you. However, I don't think he has the right to restrain you. After all, you and I are colleagues, so he shouldn't try to interfere."

The moment he heard this, Misaki began to feel a tad irritated. Although he loved Ijuuin's works and thought he was a kind person, he wasn't fond of the idea that the man was using work as an excuse to meet up with him.

"I don't see how taking me out for dinner has got anything to do with work," Misaki pointed out. His voice was kind as usual, but there was a slight hint of cynicism.

"It doesn't. Like you mentioned before, I like you and I want to get to know you better. Although you and Usami-sensei are dating, I would like to find out what kind of person Takahashi-kun really is. I don't see what's so bad about that."

Misaki resisted the need to yell at the other out of utter frustration. It was obvious that Ijuuin was trying to steal him away from Akihiko, even if he pretended to be innocent in the whole thing. Did Ijuuin really believe Misaki was that stupid?

For a second or two, it became hard to breathe. Misaki closed his eyes and emitted a quiet sigh before leaning back. As much as he wanted to explain why he couldn't be around Ijuuin so much, he found it difficult. Everything revolved around his relationship with Akihiko, which wasn't a comfortable subject for him to discuss. In the end, however, he knew he didn't have a choice.

"Sensei, I—" the young male silenced himself when Ijuuin rose from his seat and walked towards him, only to sit down next to him. The man casually placed his elbow onto the backrest and used it to support his head as he stared into Misaki's eyes.

"Are you sure you don't like me?" he asked all of a sudden.

Misaki's face lit up because of the question. Quickly looking away, the younger brunet began to wonder why he was getting so flustered. It wasn't like he had any romantic feelings for Ijuuin.

Or maybe he simply hadn't realized it yet.

Was it possible that Misaki had the same feelings for both Akihiko and the man he had admired since his childhood? Maybe he had locked away his feelings for the latter because he was dating Akihiko. It wasn't unthinkable; Misaki did find Ijuuin a very handsome and gentle person.

Yet, did that mean that the years Misaki had lived with Akihiko couldn't stand up to the few months he had known Ijuuin?

The complexity of the situation was frustrating Misaki to the core. Apparently, the other male noticed this as he gently stroked a few chocolate locks. His fingers combed through the messy strands, a modest smile playing on his lips.

"You're blushing," Ijuuin pointed out, "Takahashi-kun, you really are cute."

"Don't say that, Sensei," Misaki pleaded. He couldn't think straight anymore.

"It's true. I can understand why Usami-sensei has fallen for you as well."

Misaki shyly looked back at Ijuuin, wondering if the man was trying to flatter him. The look in those blue eyes was kind and honest, and he could even see the love reflected in them. There was no doubt that Ijuuin meant everything he said. It made Misaki wonder how everyone around him could speak their mind so openly without being embarrassed. His attention turned back to the mangaka, who was still watching him lovingly.

"Why are you saying all of this to me?"

Ijuuin laughed softly. "Because I love you, of course. Is it a crime to express my feelings for you?"

"No, it isn't…"

"Then, can you give me a chance to make you fall in love with me?" Ijuuin asked, moving a bit closer, "If we both try to work on our relationship, I'm sure we can be the happiest couple in the world."

Silence filled the penthouse after this request, yet the mood didn't change. Misaki still felt uncomfortable and confused while Ijuuin seemed rather confident about the whole situation. In addition, the man removed the space between them, bringing his face closer to Misaki's.

It took a few seconds before Misaki realized what was happening. It startled him when he felt soft pressure on his lips and his eyes widened immensely. Swiftly moving back, he broke the kiss and stared at the other in disbelief.

"W-what are you doing?!" he asked in panic.

The expression on Ijuuin's face didn't falter. "I simply wanted to kiss you. There's no need to be so surprised."

"I didn't see it coming…"

Ijuuin chuckled once more and gently cupped Misaki's face with his warm hands. "Since you know now, it won't be unexpected if I do it again." That said, he pulled Misaki closer for a second attempt.

Countless thoughts rushed through the younger one's mind as he was brought in for another kiss. Something about kissing Ijuuin seemed so weird to him. Whenever Akihiko kissed him, Misaki felt a little embarrassed, but he would also feel happiness well up inside of him. However, in this case, that didn't happen.

This wasn't love. It simply couldn't be.

Misaki couldn't tell if his body was responding out of instinct or not, but he felt his hands move to Ijuuin's chest and push him away. Although the gesture wasn't forceful, it was enough to make Ijuuin realize that he had to stop what he was doing. Obediently, the mangaka released the boy's lips and gave him a questioning look.

Both relief and guilt filled Misaki's mind and he lowered his gaze to prevent eye contact with Ijuuin. He understood that this kind of rejection was painful for the man, yet he couldn't lie about his own feelings.

"I'm sorry, Ijuuin-sensei. I can't do this."

It was clear to him that the only person he loved was Akihiko. No one could ever change that.