Onodera Ritsu has just about had enough of his boss–and the man is not endearing himself to Ritsu with his tyrannical ways and rejection of Ritsu’s latest editing job.
When Ritsu restrains himself from delivering a hot retort, instead asking why Takano has rejected his manuscript, Takano returns the question: what made him think it would pass?
Ritsu grants that it’s not up to the author’s usual par, but he thought it was “good enough”–and that is exactly what’s caused Takano to reject it outright. It will have to be rewritten–a tighter schedule is a small price to pay for not having the author’s name attached to subpar work.
Ritsu grudgingly accepts his lot and makes his leave–but not before Takano catches him on the way to the elevator and explains that they can’t have lunch together that day because he has a meeting. Ritsu recalls the agreement that Takano had forced out of him (to share a meal a day together) after he’d collapsed a few days prior and tries to weasel out of the engagement by reassuring Takano that he’s fine–but Takano is having none of it, continuing to pester Ritsu about the meals he’s eaten over the past 24 hours and his sleep schedule, all under the guise of watching out for Ritsu, since Ritsu can’t seem to to it himself.
Takano: “If I don’t keep tabs on you like this, you’ll wind up just keeling over again. Plus, Isaka-san’s backing me up on this, so give up.”
Ritsu continues to protest–he’s perfectly capable of taking care of himself thank-you-very-much–and can’t seem to understand why Takano is going to such lengths just to make sure he has at least one square meal a day–
Having successfully silenced Ritsu’s protests with a kiss, Takano retorts that it’s because he’s worried about him, duh.
Ritsu’s face is flushed with color, and he staggers out the door, confused, exhausted, and embarrassed. It’s bad enough Takano insists on kissing Ritsu period–does he really have to do it at work, where anyone might see them? Ritsu’s grumbling and self-loathing, though, is interrupted by a pair of amorous paramours necking in the alley he’s wandering down…
Who else does it turn out to be but Haitani-san, the editor-in-chief of shounen manga magazine “Earth” and former coworker of Takano’s! Ritsu is MORTIFIED at what he’s seen, but Haitani hides any embarrassment he might personally be feeling well, and as his partner makes himself scarce, he keeps Ritsu from slipping off himself and asks him to keep the liason a secret–at the cost of treating Ritsu to dinner.
Ritsu initially tries to decline, reassuring Haitani it’s not necessary and that he won’t say anything, but Haitani insists, saying he’s always wanted to chat with Ritsu–and they can discuss Takano while they’re at it (reminding Ritsu of the fact that he’s dreadfully curious about Takano’s past).
Dinner winds up not being nearly as awkward as Ritsu expects, and after getting the delicate matter of Haitani’s sexuality out of the way (Ritsu remarks that “sometimes the person you fall for just happens to be a man”–much to Haitani’s amusement at the overly ‘shoujo manga’ comment), the conversation turns to Ritsu’s job satisfaction.
Despite Saeki-chan’s claims that Ritsu hates his job, though, he remarks that he’s grown more comfortable with it and will probably stick around and do his best with it. When Haitani asks if that’s Takano’s influence, clarifying that he got the impression that Takano keeps a close watch on Ritsu, Ritsu grows flustered and reassures Haitani that Takano simply has to keep an eye on him because he’s a new editor.
Regardless of his reasoning, though, Haitani’s happy to have another editor sticking around, given how tough the job is. “Earth” is a weekly publication, Ritsu recalls, which he’s sure must be difficult, but Haitani doesn’t seem to think so. Plus, finally getting the finished product in his hands always makes him eager to start on the next project, reminding him of how fun making books is–a comment that resonates with Ritsu, as it’s similar to something Takano said before.
When he makes this comment aloud, Haitani seems a bit shaken to hear that Takano would say such a thing, but quickly recovers, offering with a smile–
Haitani: “Takano…is an amazing guy.”
He relates how Takano built a name for himself at “Earth”, his skills quickly making him the ace editor of the team and reviving the magazine–so much so that, when he left, sales plummeted and the magazine nearly went under until Haitani managed to bring it back from the brink of disaster.
He still can’t understand, though, why Takano went to shoujo manga of all places–and Ritsu clarifies this by explaining that it was mostly an order by the company that placed him there. Haitani is shocked, having been convinced Takano did it of his own free will because he’d grown to hate shounen manga and is needless to say relieved by this news.
Haitani: “I just…really want to work with him again!”
They finish eating, but just before they part ways, Takano calls with the worst timing ever, and Ritsu’s frantic attempts to disguise who he’s with bear no fruit as Takano realizes he’s been spending time with Haitani.
When Ritsu makes it come–he finds Takano waiting for him…and not looking happy at all. Takano immediately grills him about why he was with Haitani, and when Ritsu reacts with confusion and irritation at Takano’s overbearing attitude and unwarranted jealousy, he starts to wonder if something happened between Haitani and Takano.
Ritsu: “Did Haitani-san do something to you…?”
Takano shoves him to the wall, leaning in and biting out that he’s nothing like Haitani as he presses a kiss to Ritsu’s lips. Ritsu pushes him away, though, reminding Takano that this sort of behavior is inappropriate, as they’re not even dating, and he wants Takano to stop.
Takano it seems, though, is in a strange mood tonight–and tells Ritsu to just say he hates him. To look him in the eye and reject all that he is. When Ritsu grows flustered by this dark request, Takano reminds him of his feelings and asks Ritsu to stop running away from him and be straightforward for once.
He invites Ritsu inside, guilting him into at least having a cup of coffee. Ritsu takes the opportunity to remind him that his worry about Haitani is entirely unfounded…and that it isn’t as if he never thinks about Takano himself, nor is it that he hates Takano. When Takano slyly hints that if he doesn’t hate him, then he must love him, Ritsu snaps that it’s jumping to conclusions like that which irritates him, always going about things in the wrong order and causing confusion.
Takano wonders if Ritsu would actually be straight with him if he did go about things properly, and after Ritsu suggests that he would, Takano reaches forward, takes Ritsu’s hand–and confesses his love, rather simply, before asking Ritsu if they might date.
Ritsu is utterly thrown–but Takano ruins the moment by physically grabbing Ritsu’s head and shoving it down into a mockery of a bow while saying “Sure, okay” as if to suggest Ritsu’s actually agreeing. The formalities out of the way, he feels they can move on now. Ritsu reacts to this show predictably, attempting to leave, when Takano stops him with a vow:
Takano: “I’ll wait for you. However many months…or years it may take. I’ll be waiting for you. We’re both adults now, and have a alot more freedom than we did when we first met. I understand that being in love isn’t easy, but I still…want your everything.”
This heartfelt confession stirs something in Ritsu, and he swallows past his pounding heart when Takano asks for a kiss, bending down to offer a soft brush of his lips to the back of Takano’s hand before stammering, “Takano-san…I l–”
But whatever he was about to say is cut off as Takano launches himself at Ritsu, pulling him into an intense session of love-making, so thrown is he by Ritsu’s boldness. Ritsu protests that Takano said he would wait–something he is clearly not doing–but Takano argues that he wants Ritsu’s heart and body both, so since one of those is already desperate to have him…he might as well.
As Takano thrusts into him, Ritsu reflects internally that he wishes Takano would stop all of this–because with each comment, with every touch, Ritsu loses a bit more of himself to Takano, and it frightens him how much a part of him Takano is becoming now.
The next morning, the pair share an awkward breakfast that Takano likens to a newlywed couple’s morning meal, which Ritsu vehemently disagrees with. Takano insists, though, that they’ve done all the things couples do already–except live together and get hitched.
Takano: “Onodera, I’ll cook you meals every day, so wanna shack up with me?”
Whether or not they actually wind up moving in together…will have to wait for the next chapter to be clarified!
Days until Onodera falls (completely) in love: 100
TO BE CONTINUED…