Summary: Sometimes loving someone can be painful – especially when all you can do is watch them drift away.
Pairing: OC (Ritsu) x Koichi Natsukawa
Note: I make no promises on doing Koichi justice orz but I wanted to write you something Ritsu because you are so awesome. You always write great fics for everyone else. ;A; So I wanted to do something for you. <3 And I made it angsty because you seem to like angst as much as me.
At least as angsty as I could make it anyways.
The sound of his voice was jarring enough that she shot right up out of her chair. “Y-Yes, Natsukawa-san?” she stuttered out as she turned to face him. Her cheeks warmed with a subtle blush as she found herself gazing into his face. They were long time coworkers, although he seemed to know little more about her than her name.
"The copies from yesterday that I requested?" Despite the smile on his face, she could tell that he was anything but happy underneath it all. He seemed to be feigning it more and more lately – a facade to cover for whatever it was that was bothering him.
"You look a little pale," she mentioned worriedly. "Is… is everything okay with your marriage?" It was a difficult subject to broach, but Ritsu was keenly aware that the entire engagement had been arranged to begin with. That seemed the most likely cause for his mood.
Rather than answer straightforwardly, he suddenly thrust out his hand. “The papers, Ritsu-san.”
He looked tired – exhaustion from the long hours that he had been working? No, unlikely. Even though she kept quiet about it, she was observant enough to realize that he was not being faithful to his wife. The only reason could be, she thought, that their marriage was not working out.
Having spaced out for a moment, she jerked into action suddenly and fumbled through the stacks of paper that littered all corners of her desk. “They’re right here,” she assured him. “I know I printed them off yesterday when you asked me.”
A sigh escaped his lips and at almost that exact same moment, she finally found what she was looking for.
"Here they are, sorry for the wait." A smile curled onto her lips as she held them out toward him. Although inwardly, she was a little disappointed that he had completely overlooked her concern.
All traces of emotion seemed to drain from his face as he gingerly accepted the small stack. “Do not waste time worrying for your superiors. You should be concerning yourself with your work performance.”
"Right," she answered, a bit dejected.
A sigh passed through his lips as his shoulders relaxed. “Go home early today.”
Her head jerked up. “E-excuse me? Sir? But you have been putting in more hours than–”
"Don’t argue with your superior." He cocked his head back, looking down his nose at her. Though despite how gruff he seemed, Ritsu got the impression that he was trying to look out for her in his own way. He was odd that way. Striking, even – it was the same reason she had fallen for him in the first place. "Hm? That look on your face?"
"Huh?" she responded, breaking out of her daze.
"No… my wife also makes that expression."
Her chest tightened at the mention of his wife. “I-I see….”
"Keep up the good work." It seemed less that he was praising her and more so that he was echoing a frequently recited line by his own superiors. She forced out a smile and bowed stiffly as he turned on his heel to leave.
Being truly noticed by him was a dream that she had long since abandoned. Watching his back as he walked away – that was the only sight that was seared into her mind. That was how he would always be. One step ahead of her, always moving forward, in a place that she could never reach. Hand outstretched, she could call out to him, but she knew that he would never turn his gaze to her. That time had long since passed.
Ritsu clapped her hands together. “Well, time to get back to work. Only a few more hours to go. Do your best!” She pumped a fist up in the air before settling back down at her seat.
Time passed quickly and Koichi did not venture out of his office. He remained cooped up in there – though she was entirely unaware of what project had consumed him. In the meantime, the phone suddenly started ringing. And the moment she answered, her heart dropped into the pit of her stomach.
She recognized that voice – the director’s wife.
"I would like to speak with Natsukawa-san."
Ritsu hesitated. Lately he had been avoiding her phone calls. And considering his mind seemed preoccupied enough, she figured this was one call he would not mind missing. “Sorry… he decided to go home early. Something about plans with his wife.”
"Is that so?" the voice on the other end sniped back.
"I’m very sorry."
Frowning to herself, Ritsu hung up the phone. Her gaze briefly flitted to the closed office door, behind which Koichi was probably busily working away. Was he not even going to break for dinner? Suddenly she stood up. It was far past time for her to be clocking out but more than that…. “Maybe we could eat together?” she mumbled hopefully as she grabbed her coat and purse, darting off toward the doors.
Only fifteen minutes later and she returned from the convenience store just down the street. Tentatively she outstretched a hand and rapped on his door. There was a momentary pause within, followed by an echo of footsteps before the door cracked open.
"Ritsu-san?" he remarked with a hint of surprise. His expression quickly grew somber as his gaze wandered down to the sack in her hand.
"It’s not good to skip dinner. If you’re going to be staying in, then maybe we should…."
Rather than answer, he paused to rub his temples before letting out a reluctant, “Fine then.” He did not seem entirely willing but perhaps if it meant that he could get rid of her faster, he was willing to humor her just this once.
Almost immediately she invited herself in – at least, as soon as he stepped aside to make way for her entry. Ritsu immediately headed for his desk, more cluttered than she had ever seen it before, and started unpacking the various dishes she had purchased. Once she is finished, she presented it to him with exaggerated hand motions and a lofty grin. “Here you are, Natsukawa-san!”
He just gave a nod rather than expressing any gratitude directly. However, before he could even settle down at his desk, the phone rang. “Excuse me,” he said, looking particularly weary as he stepped outside of the room to take the call.
Disappointed that they had already been interrupted, she settled down at his desk and started plucking up sushi, one-by-one, and stuffing into her mouth.
Only a moment later the door cracked open. She perked up immediately, only for her smile to falter at the sight of him making a hurried grab for his jacket. “I have to leave early. Make sure to see yourself out.” Not even an apology for having to step out, although he did pause to gaze at her for a moment. And it was then that she saw it in his eyes – unexpressed, unsure how to say it. It was a characteristic of him – something she found endearing. His awkwardness in situations where he felt disadvantaged.
"It’s your wife, right?" she chimed in with a cheerful voice. "You should hurry and go to her then."
He was hesitating, she could see it. It was unnecessary though, and they both knew. What he felt was obligation as her superior, and what she felt was something entirely inappropriate for a subordinate.
"Then… tomorrow." He gave a sharp bow before turning on his heel and hurrying out.
Again – again she was left to solitude, the distance between them only steadily growing larger.