It’s a happy day in Emerald’s editing division today: they’ve won the coveted President’s Award, apparently. What is that, you ask? Well, because of their excellent annual record that year, helped in large part by Yoshikawa Chiharu’s media success, the company president has decided to reward them. Kisa quickly realizes what this means:
Kisa: We get some CASH!
Everyone’s eager to see just how much of a bonus they’re getting, so they open the envelope containing the particulars of their reward…
and out fall five airline tickets (aboard Bear Air of course) from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Takamatsu. Isaka-san arrives promptly at this point to explain the details. He’s bought them all plane tickets and made them reservations at a hot springs resort. The Emerald team are, however, less than thrilled:
Why? Because the date for this trip has already been set, and it’s right before the end of the cycle. Meaning they’ll have to work their asses off to meet an already difficult deadline several days sooner now–something they’re not prepared for in the least.
Isaka doesn’t seem to think this should be all that hard, and he bids them bon voyage before prancing off. They can’t exactly turn down the tickets now, seeing as it’s practically been ordered by their president, but Mino takes a moment of Takano’s time to ask if he can be excused from the trip. Takano, to Ritsu’s surprise, tells him it’s fine, and Ritsu can’t help but envy Mino–because he’s pretty sure no one wants to go on this trip now.
The editing desks are a disaster as they practically kill themselves trying to meet the deadline, and Takano has to remind them all not to die–they can die all they want after they make the deadline.
Ritsu tries to give himself some encouragement, thinking about all of the things he can do on the trip and dishes he can try, but it doesn’t really work. After all, who wants to go on a trip like this with co-workers? He resolves to try get out of the excursion by making up some excuse and spend the few days of the trip relaxing instead. However, he can’t bring himself to confront Takano with the request, certain that he’ll be interrogated about his reasons.
Takano can tell he’s avoiding discussing something, though, and confronts Ritsu on a toilet break when Ritsu stops to get a canned coffee from the vending machine. He comments on the poor state of Ritsu’s health, including the bags under his eyes, and Ritsu reminds him it’s because they’ve been working their butts off to meet this deadline. Takano goes on to admonish him for not eating properly again and says he’ll make him dinner that evening. Ritsu predictably doesn’t want him to do that:
Ritsu: It’s fine! I’m grateful for your consideration!
Takano: I’ll stop by the grocery store on my way home, so think about what you want to eat.
Ritsu: LISTEN TO ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU! What are you, my mother?!
Takano: Hell no. I’m the guy who’s in love with you.
With Takano’s intentions made clear, Ritsu wonders if he ought to stay at work until Takano goes home, since they’re supposed to eat together, but he eventually resolves to just leave on his own. After all, he sure as hell doesn’t want to see his boss’s face 24 hours a day. He heads to the station from the office, but there he overhears a parent loudly and sharply admonishing their child for throwing a temper tantrum.
On closer inspection, though…the parent turns out to be Mino. Mino recognizes Ritsu in the crowd and apologizes for the scene, and they head to the station together. Ritsu decides to make small talk, never having seen Mino like this outside of work.
Ritsu: It was just really strange seeing you with a child! Is he a relative’s son?
Mino: No, he’s mine.
Ritsu: Oh! So he’s your son…wait, WHAT?!
Mino: Like I said, he’s my son.
Mino goes on to explain that, technically, he’s his older sister’s son, but she passed away from illness. She’d divorced her husband already, and he couldn’t be contacted, so Mino adopted the boy himself. Mino isn’t even married–he used to be, in the past, but he divorced, and now he’s a bachelor with a son.
Ritsu is astounded that Mino’s been keeping such an interesting, complicated life secret all this time. Mino explains that it’s very difficult, raising a child in their line of work; it was his unsteady schedule that led to his divorcing his wife, even. On top of it, his son now is lashing out due to his schedule as well, so it’s not exactly an easy time for any of them.
Ritsu realizes here that this is why Mino requested not to go on the trip. He assures Mino that he thinks he’s amazing, raising a child–Ritsu has enough trouble supporting himself, after all. Mino replies that he finds Ritsu pretty amazing as well, with how hard he works, but reminds that if he doesn’t open up about his true feelings, then the person he wants to speak with will never understand him. After all, it’s pretty impossible to understand something you’ve never been told, right?
This sends a shudder of foreboding through Ritsu, as it rings all too familiarly of his situation with Takano.
Mino: You don’t want to go on the trip, do you?
Here, Ritsu realizes that he’s referring to their upcoming hot springs trip and how Ritsu doesn’t actually want to go but can’t bring himself to say so.
Ritsu reflects on his current situation–because he didn’t clearly turn down Haitani, there’s still trouble with him, and things with Takano are the same as ever. But he’s scared: he knows he ought to tell Takano how he feels, but if he does, if he finally gives it voice, then this thing between them that has no form at present will finally be real. And that terrifies him.
He’s lost in thought when Takano comes upon him and Mino on the way to the station and joins them on their walk. Takano reminds Mino that he’s free to pass on the trip, but if he’d like, he’s more than welcome to bring his son along and join them all the same. Mino thanks him and says he’ll think it over, and they part.
Takano finally forces Ritsu to confess what he’s been dithering over: that he doesn’t want to go on the trip because he doesn’t want to see Takano’s face 24 hours a day. This irritates Takano, and he petulantly misinterprets the comment as Ritsu saying he wants to spend the whole evening with Takano. On a tense train ride back to their apartments, Takano calms down and asks if Ritsu was serious. Does he really not like spending time with Takano?
Ritsu: No, just…I mean, I guess it wasn’t entirely true…
Takano: If it’s not how you really feel, then don’t say it. That kind of thing…actually hurts.
Ritsu tries to defuse the tension by discussing the site of their trip–isn’t Takamatsu where Takano grew up? Takano is impressed he remembers, and Ritsu asks if he knows the place well. It’s probably changed quite a bit since he lived there, but he does remember at least he major sights.
Ritsu: I see.
Takano: …I can show you around, if you’d like.
Ritsu: Eh?! Oh…okay. Please do.
Takano: …All right then. Now I’ve got something to look forward to.
Ritsu feels a rush of relief–he feels like, just a little tiny bit, he’s made his feelings clearer to Takano. The swaying and clacking of the train lulls him to sleep, and Takano lets him rest against his shoulder, eventually slipping off himself.
They awake to find that they’re at the end of the line, with no more trains back at this late hour.
Ritsu is furious, blaming Takano for them missing their stop, and Takano does the same with Ritsu. They could call a taxi, but it would be horrendously expensive, so they decide to find a hotel to sleep in and just head to the office again in the morning for an early meeting. The only hotel they find, though, is all out of single rooms, and the only room available is–you guessed it–a double bed.
Ritsu can feel some very bad memories threatening to resurface.
Takano takes first shower, and Ritsu says that he’s very tired, so Takano can just sleep on the floor and he’ll take the bed. Takano derides him for being a scaredy cat and whips the covers back.
Takano: Don’t get all bent out of shape, loser! I’m exhausted myself; I couldn’t get it up even if I wanted to!
Ritsu: WHY YOU–!
Takano then slips under the covers, bids him good night, and falls asleep. Ritsu reluctantly takes his shower, wishing he’d just coughed up the money for a taxi. When he finishes, he creeps slowly into bed, praying that Takano won’t wake up, because he really doesn’t want to sleep on the floor.
To his horror, Takano calls his name, and he pretends to be asleep, ignoring it. Takano doesn’t seem to expect him to say anything, though, and keeps speaking:
Takano: Seriously, just tell me. Whether it’s good or bad, I want to know what you’re thinking.
Ritsu reminds him grudgingly that when he does say thing, Takano whines that he’s hurt. Takano doesn’t try to deny this–explaining that of course he’s hurt; he’s very sensitive, after all. Still, he wants to know the good and the bad. He wants to know everything Ritsu’s thinking, so he needs to tell him these things.
He then shifts around on the bed to face Ritsu, who panics, reminding Takano that he just said he was exhausted and couldn’t get it up if he wanted to. Takano admits that he did say that, but:
Takano: Wouldn’t you want to touch the guy you’re in love with if you were sleeping right next to him? Isn’t it weirder if you don’t feel that way?
Ritsu protests that they’ve got meetings early in the morning, and Takano reminds him that if he wants to make something known, he has to say it. Just say that he doesn’t want it, and Takano won’t do it. But Ritsu doesn’t know how to say it–he can’t find the words to express what he wants, and while they’ve made nothing but mistakes so far, this person still claims that he wants to know Ritsu’s everything.
Ritsu: /He wants to know everything, the good and the bad…but how do I tell him…?/
The next morning at the office, the Emerald desks are hell on earth. At this point, Kisa isn’t even sure they’ll get the magazine out at all, and Takano roars at him that if he has time to weep, he has time to work.
[8 days until the Emerald Editing Division’s hot springs trip]