Takano doesn’t get it–how can Ritsu not see that there is clearly not enough romance between two characters who’ve finally been reunited, are in love, after three years apart? Ritsu thinks there’s plenty, but Takano is firm: up the love level!
Ritsu storms off in a huff, but internally, he is plagued by one question: what exactly does “lovey-dovey” mean? As in, literally what counts? But he can’t possibly ask Takano this question–not when in their very last encounter, Takano himself said that was what he wanted to do with Ritsu: more “lovey-dovey” stuff.
He’s quite appalled that it’s Takano he’s thinking of when he contemplates how he doesn’t understand what “love-dovey stuff” means–and proceeds to attempt to bodily smash them from his head by slamming his head against a wall. Takano walks in on this scene–and berates him for destroying company property…before wondering what led him to attempt to do so in the first place.
After some pressure, Ritsu confesses hedgingly that he’s just trying to think of how best to present the “lovey-dovey stuff”, and Takano, sensing some deeper meaning, approaches with intent.
Takano: “Are you asking because of the storyboard? Or for your own edification?”
Takano goes on to assure Ritsu that he’s happy to explain the details of what he wants to see–first, some hand-holding, then perhaps a kiss on that hand, followed by a warm hug, and a kiss on the hair wouldn’t be remiss either. But when he tries to take it further…
Ritsu: “PLEASE STOP!”
He asks Takano what he thinks he’s doing–and receives a response he probably should’ve expected: “Sexually harassing you.” So he does realize it. Ritsu takes his leave in a huff, and Takano watches him go, admitting softly to himself that Ritsu’s right; lovey-dovey stuff isn’t as easy as it looks.
Ritsu heads to Books Marimo and picks up all sorts of magazines on date plans, hoping something in one of the articles might give him some idea of how to improve the manuscript. It’s there, though, that he runs into Saeki-san, his former coworker from Onodera Shuppan–and also, happily enough, a shoujo manga editor.
They decide to go out for dinner so Saeki-san can give him more details about what exactly couples do to be “lovey-dovey”–except Saeki-san just winds up getting drunk as a skunk and complaining at length about how tough it is being a female editor, how she used to actually give a crap about her appearance, but now it’s like, “WOOHOO, SWEATPANTS!”
She then suggests that Ritsu just ask some of his Emerald coworkers if he wants suggestions on being lovey-dovey; Takano in particular could give him some tips, since he’s rumored to be quite the ladies man. This sparks curiosity in Ritsu who recalls Saeki-san suggesting the same about Takano before, and he asks her where she heard the rumor from. After some thinking, she responds:
They depart the bar, and Ritsu attempts to shuttle a very drunk Saeki-san into a taxi–when his phone starts to ring: Takano, checking in to see if he wants Takano to pick up something for them to have dinner together. Ritsu doesn’t appreciate Takano’s continued attempts to monitor his meals, but Takano is insistent. Saeki-san has enough presence of mind to be curious as to who Ritsu is speaking with, and her pestering to know who’s on the other end alerts Takano to the fact that Ritsu isn’t alone. He reassures Takano that it’s just Saeki-san, his former coworker, and that they ran into each other at the bookstore and had dinner together. He ends the call, reminding Takano he must get Saeki-san into a taxi (as she’s now making a ruckus complaining to passersby about her low salary), and Takano ends the call with, “Take care going home.”
Ritsu’s problems don’t end with Saeki-san, though, as who should wander by seeing Ritsu attempt to get Saeki-san standing up again but…
Haitani: “Oh? You’re out with Saeki-chan?”
Ritsu explains that they had dinner together and he was just about to bundle her off into a taxi. Haitani offers to help, and since Ritsu was having a time of it, he accepts. They manage to hail a cab, and Haitani passes the driver the address to take her to–leaving Haitani and Ritsu alone together.
Haitani suggests they take a taxi together, since they live in the same direction, and while Ritsu knows that Takano wants him to stay away from Haitani, the man’s been nothing but cordial to Ritsu, and turning him down without good reason would be rude.
The ride…is rather awkward.
He continues to comment that Takano would be an unwise choice for consulting about romance. While he’s amazing at his job, he’s an utter failure when it comes to matters of the heart. “He’s got exactly zero experience with anything that could help sell issues of a magazine designed to appeal to women’s dreams.” When Ritsu doesn’t quite follow the thread of his conversation, Haitani drops a bombshell.
Haitani: “I…actually had a lover stolen from me by Takano.”
Ritsu is flabbergasted and tries to protest that Takano isn’t the sort to do that–but then he recalls Takano mentioning something a while back, about some trouble involving himself, Haitani, and the man Haitani had been dating at the time. He considers the possibility that these could be two different incidents, but he still can’t convince himself that Takano would ever do something so low.
Haitani reads his reaction, though, and presses further:
Haitani: “Are you in love with Takano, Onodera-kun?”
Flustered, Ritsu reassures him that he very much is not. Takano is just his boss, that’s it–and to cut the conversation short, he quickly directs the driver where to stop to let him off, exiting the cab quickly and delivering his goodbyes in short order.
But not quickly enough for Takano not to catch sight of them.
Before the taxi door has even shut, Takano is already asking what the hell Ritsu is doing with Haitani, and even as Ritsu attempts to explain, Takano grabs him by the arm and jerks him away, throwing a last glance over his shoulder at Haitani, who responds to Ritsu’s good night with a leer and, “Same to Takano.”
Ritsu complains and protests the whole way back to their apartments, finding himself cornered against a wall in Takano’s entryway with Takano peppering him with questions and pressing for reasons as to why Ritsu insists on ignoring his very clear warnings not to go near Haitani.
Ritsu reminds him that they merely ran into one another and that Haitani helped him see off Saeki-san. This doesn’t satisfy Takano, who declares, “He can take anything else from me that he wants and I won’t give a shit–except for you. I will never forgive him if he hurts you. So…please, I’m begging you. Stay away from him.”
These cryptic words only confuse, and Ritsu demands an explanation; Takano is being far too paranoid about Haitani (and he’s a man, besides! Also–an adult, capable of defending himself).
He then asks for an answer to one question, which Takano allows: “If…if it’s not true, then I apologize, really, but…is it…true? That you…I guess…’stole’ Haitani-san’s lover from him in the past?”
Takano asks if he heard that from Haitani, and Ritsu explains that he did–though he now realizes it was none of his business. Takano ignores his apologies, though, and suggests he come in and make himself comfortable; he’ll explain everything.
They settle onto Takano’s couch for some coffee, and Takano asks if Ritsu remembers him saying that he got involved in some trouble with Haitani and the man Haitani was seeing at the time. Ritsu does, and Takano explains that there’s more to the story than just that.
Despite Takano rejecting the man’s affections, he still wound up breaking things off with Haitani, apparently. Then, immediately after Haitani and his then-boyfriend broke up, the woman that Takano had been dating at the time came to him…and asked him to break up with her–because she’d found someone new.
Everything flows in one ear and out the other with Ritsu as he finds himself stuck on one point: that Takano had been dating a woman at the time.
Takano continues, explaining that, as he heard it from the other editors, Haitani had approached the woman for the sole purpose of seducing her away from Takano. They had been dating, yes, but she had been the one to confess to Takano, and they’d only been together a few days, so he wasn’t exactly heartbroken. Breaking them up hadn’t been enough for Haitani, though, so he’d then taken to making Takano’s job difficult, which eventually resulted in Takano quitting his job.
He’d tried to reason with Haitani, telling him to cut it out and stop causing trouble with Takano’s authors, but Haitani had merely replied:
Haitani: “What’s wrong with taking revenge on someone who’s stolen something from me?”
Understanding the situation now, Ritsu lets everything settle in…but he still can’t help remembering that Takano had been dating someone at the time–and when he mentions this, Takano is irritated that that seems to be all Ritsu got from the story.
Takano: “Were you even listening to what I said?”
Ritsu: “O-of course I was!”
Takano: “So? That’s the part you’re most concerned with?”
Takano huffily explains that the woman had confessed to him in front of the whole company, pretty much, crying and everything, and even when he’d explained that he only wanted to do his job and couldn’t be a proper boyfriend for her, she’d professed that she didn’t mind that, so he’d agreed to date her just to make her settle down.
Takano: “But like I said before, she pretty much immediately asked me to break it off with her, so I wound up not even touching a hair on her head. Satisfied now, my good sir?”
Ritsu: “I–I told you, I didn’t really…”
Takano continues that while he hadn’t really had the time for relationships back then, the whole affair had made him realize that he really ought to try dating someone else…but he couldn’t do it, in the end.
Takano: “I’d always wind up remembering you.”
He goes on to berate himself for being so stubborn, wondering aloud if things might’ve been different if he could’ve forgotten Ritsu and moved on to someone else.
The atmosphere grows tense, though, and Takano bumps into Ritsu, lazily reclining against him.
Takano: “Why’re you asking someone else that kind of stuff? I’ll tell you everything you need to know. Idiot.”
He tries to get a little of that ‘lovey-dovey stuff’ in, but Ritsu is having none of it, and in a moment of seriousness, Takano warns him again not to get involved with Haitani. Ritsu brushes it off with a pithy, “All right, all right,” but Takano presses for him to run if he spots the guy.
Takano: “I think…he’s realized that you’re my weakness.”
He has no intention of letting Ritsu get swooped up by the likes of Haitani, and with a kiss to Ritsu’s hand, he asks for his response–which Ritsu gives in the form of a deep blush. Takano is happy to take that as his answer and proceeds to get back to teaching Ritsu what exactly lovey-dovey stuff is.
But when he makes a grab for Ritsu’s crotch, though, Ritsu stops him right there, reminding pointedly that he already told Takano he didn’t want to be fuck-buddies. Takano contemplates this for a bit, and then allows:
Takano: “…Fine. I won’t do anything other than kiss you until you want me to.”
He’s trying his best to hold back, he complains, so Ritsu has to grant him kisses at least. But try though he might…
Ritsu: “Wh–hey! What’re you doing?! You promised all we’d do is kiss!”
Takano makes no apologies, though, jerking Ritsu off to completion…
Takano: “That was fast.”
…and then proceeding to delicately lick the evidence from his fingers.
He then holds Ritsu close and reiterates that he’ll never ever give up Ritsu to anyone else–that he can’t bring himself to do it. Ritsu flushes, overwhelmed with emotion–he can’t understand why Takano touches him like this; being so gentle, touching him like he’s bone-deep in love with Ritsu…makes Ritsu feel so…
Takano falls asleep on his couch, and Ritsu disentangles himself from the embrace, washing his hands and complaining about Takano’s behavior in under-his-breath grumbles. He tries to make Takano wake and move to his bed at least, but eventually decides to let him be, pulling a small blanket over him.
Sure enough, Takano walks by at just the right time: “Hmm, now where have I heard that before…?”
Takano: “Sounds like someone learned a little bit about how to be lovey-dovey.”
And repeating the mantra to himself that Takano really pisses him off and he never should’ve asked him for advice in the first place, we’re reminded that there’s just 80 days left until Ritsu falls (completely) in love.
Next chapter out: late December 2014