Chapter 20 opens with Takano and Ritsu discussing a meeting they’ve just taken part in–or rather, a meeting Takano took part in, with Ritsu sitting in on it to observe and (hopefully!) learn something. When Yokozawa approached them earlier that day to remind Takano of the meeting that afternoon, Takano had taken the opportunity to invite Ritsu to sit in on it, hoping it might be educational. To their mutual relief, it does.
However, when Ritsu expresses his gratitude for the chance to see such a meeting up close without the pressure of being involved, Takano reveals his ulterior motives…
Cockblocked from a kiss, Takano protests sourly, and Ritsu berates him for trying “funny stuff” at the office. Takano reminds Ritsu it’s him who’s being rude here: Takano is doing his level best to hold back and take things slow, but Ritsu isn’t giving him anything for the effort. He thinks it’s time to move to the next level–which should be simple enough:
Takano: “All you have to do is admit you’re in love with me.”
Before they can discuss the matter any further, though, Ritsu’s phone rings, and he ducks out into the hall. It’s Saeki-san, apologizing for about the fifteenth time for getting so drunk
last chapterthe other day. Ritsu reminds her she’s already apologized, and that he’s told her before there’s nothing to be sorry about.
Saeki then changes the subject, remarking that she accidentally brought home a magazine that Ritsu had bought, mistaking it for her own. Ritsu reminds her she can just throw it away, he doesn’t really need it, but she insists:
Saeki: /Actually, Haitani-san’s got some business over your way, so he’s gonna bring it by for you./
Uh oh. More Haitani drama! Ritsu tries to worm his way out of having to interact even more with Haitani, but the deed is done, he’s already on his way and will meet Ritsu at the ticket gates by the station nearest Marukawa at 7 PM that evening. Unable to get out of the engagement, Ritsu silently resolves to just meet, get the book, and be on his way promptly. He can’t just leave the guy waiting–that would be beyond rude–but he doesn’t want anymore trouble.
Unfortunately, though–his conversation was overheard.
Takano: “So, WHO are you meeting with?”
Ritsu chastises him for eavesdropping–but eventually confesses the situation. Takano reacts with his usual tact and grace: which is to say, none at all. He’s not happy that Haitani has now stooped to using Saeki to get in touch with Ritsu, knowing that if he called Ritsu himself or tried the office, Ritsu wouldn’t answer, or would find a way to get out of speaking with him. Using Saeki like this, he’s ensured that Ritsu’s good manners will force him to listen.
Ritsu: “Ah, well, it seems he accidentally deleted my contact information…”
Takano: “That’s obviously a total lie! Are you a COMPLETE idiot?!”
Takano resolves to go with him, not trusting either Ritsu or Haitani in this case.
Takano: “I’m going with you!”
When Ritsu protests that all he’s doing is picking up a book, Takano even says he’ll go by himself, in Ritsu’s stead. Ritsu then asks if he’ll even be able to finish his work by the 7 PM meeting time, to which Takano haughtily replies, “You can damn well bet I’ll finish it, dumbass!” and stalks off.
But despite all his bluster, Takano is buried in paperwork and fielding nonstop phone calls when 7 rolls around, and Ritsu manages to sneak out unnoticed, resolving to get the meeting over with and not deal with Takano’s sour mood. Haitani’s already waiting for him at the station when he arrives.
Haitani: “Oh! Great work today.”
Ritsu feeds him the usual lines about thanking him for coming all the way to Marukawa, apologetic that he’s gone out of his way, especially after all the trouble he (or rather, Saeki) caused on their last outing. Haitani waves him off, reminding Ritsu he really doesn’t have to be so formal with him. He passes Ritsu the book–and then predictably, invites him to join him for dinner. Ritsu’s ready with an excuse, protesting a subsequent engagement, but Haitani isn’t so easily put off. He insists that he has something he’d really like to discuss with Ritsu, and when Ritsu asks what it is…
Haitani: “Onodera-kun, won’t you go out with me?”
Ritsu isn’t entirely sure what he’s just been asked (or maybe he just has a really good poker face).
Ritsu: “Uh…go out with you…where?”
Haitani: “Wow, that’s a totally ‘shoujo manga’ response there! I didn’t mean it like that–I meant it in the sense of dating me, romantically.”
Ritsu: “……………………EXCUSE ME?”
Haitani asks if Ritsu dislikes him, and reminds him he can think it over as much as he needs before replying, but Ritsu explains that they’re both guys, and he has no real interest in dating someone of the same sex. Haitani returns that just the other day he said he had no problems with that kind of thing.
Ritsu: “I–I realize that, yes, but I still can’t go out with you. See, I–”
Takano: “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?”
Busted. Takano has shown up, of course, at the worst possible time again, and he proceeds to berate Haitani for opening his big mouth again. Haitani, though, is unapologetic about what he was doing just now.
Haitani: “I was confessing my feelings for Onodera-kun, here, and asking him to go out with me.”
Takano isn’t quite sure how things got to this point, but reminds Haitani that he won’t forgive him if he lays one finger on Ritsu. Haitani, for his part, isn’t entirely certain that Takano even has any right to speak out against their dating.
Haitani: “Onodera-kun isn’t yours, after all, right?”
Takano can’t truthfully say otherwise, he realizes, and with no other recourse, he grabs Ritsu’s arm and jerks him away. Haitani watches them leave, calm and blithe, and calls out to Ritsu that he’ll be waiting for a response.
Haitani: “I’m serious, understand!”
Once safely behind closed doors, Takano attacks Ritsu’s body with a vengeance, impressing upon him physically the desperation and frustration he feels inside. He knows what Haitani said is true: Ritsu isn’t his, he can’t claim him as his own, and there’s always going to be a crack for creeps like Haitani to squeeze between them, so long as that’s the case.
Ritsu protests the rough treatment, but Takano is hearing none of it tonight–he wants to fuck, he wants Ritsu. He wants…
Takano: “Hurry up and say you love me… Then…I can boast that you’re mine.”
Ritsu has nothing to say in response–he can’t just say it, not at a time like this, and not just because Takano demands it of him. But Takano isn’t going to be put off this time, and presses that if Ritsu can’t bring himself to say anything, then he needs to just reject Takano outright, make Takano give up on him.
So he draws away. He turns on his heel…and marches for the door. It’s not fair–it’s not fair that Takano is pushing him to this. After all, if he hadn’t shown up at the station, Ritsu knows he could have said it.
Ritsu: /”I already…have someone I’m in love with.”/
And that pushes him over the edge–as he turns around again and finally finds his courage.
Things move to the bedroom with no further protests here, as Ritsu’s made his choice clear. Maybe he can’t say it with his voice, but he can say it with his fingers and tongue and lips.
After Takano goes down on him and he lies there quivering from his orgasm, Takano asks him for something he never has before:
Takano: “Do me, now.”
Protests are ready on his lips–that he can’t possibly do that, but Takano is calm, waiting patiently, and Ritsu finally summons up a bit more courage for the evening.
Takano is always so harsh, so demanding, and yet so gentle and fragile in moments like these, so Ritsu knows he could never truly hate him. But he’s also learned by now that they can’t go back to the way things were in the past–and Takano ought to know that too. He doesn’t know what he should do now…but he does at least know how he feels. If only that made things easier.
Takano: “Hurry up and say that you love me…”
Ritsu: /And yet… It’s only in moments like this…/
Takano: “Please say it…”
Ritsu: /…that he shows me his weakness./
The next morning, Ritsu wakes to realize that he’s spent the night at Takano’s place once again. Seeing that Takano is nowhere to be found, he tries to sneak out before he can be spotted, but Takano is waiting for him in the kitchen–and he’s found the magazine Ritsu was retrieving from Haitani:
Ritsu: “G…Good morning… I’m sorry I seem to have overstayed my welcome again…”
Takano: “I never knew you read stuff like this.”
Ritsu protests that it was only because of their conversation before, regarding flirting and such and how he didn’t know how to go about doing it, which only makes Takano realize that Ritsu actually wants to do that sort of thing. Ritsu tries to backtrack, claiming it was about the manuscript in which flirting had been involved, but Takano is no longer listening, intent on starting the lessons immediately. Ritsu realizes he won’t be going back to his apartment any time soon, and there are still 75 days left in the countdown…
Next chapter out: late April 2015