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Horizon 2
Uta no Prince-sama, Ichinose Tokiya/Ittoki Otoya, PG-13

MASTER POST



Chapter 2

It's only when he's sliding out of Reiji's car that he remembers to turn on his phone. He has turned it off during the meeting and has forgotten about it because Ren all but drags him to a bar after said meeting is over.

They end up drinking more than their limit so they're forced to leave their cars at the bar's parking lot and he's left with no choice but to call his manager and requested to drive him home. Of course he has to pay the consequence of having to listen to Reiji's lecture for the past hour and a half.

The time '12:22 AM' flashes on his phone's screen. Just as he's about to open the gate, he is startled out of inebriation when he sees Otoya curled up against the left column of the portico. And when the redhead doesn't even stir or look up at the sound of creaking metal as he steps in, he realizes that Otoya is actually asleep.

Tokiya taps him gently on the shoulder, says, "Otoya? I'm home," and feels his heart plunges down his stomach when Otoya's eyes flutter open and a small smile forms on his lips.

"Tokiya?" Otoya says then his lips part to let a yawn escape.

"What are you doing out here? And you didn't even cover yourself up well," he admonishes, noticing that Otoya's only wearing his red cardigan over a tee. "I know spring is just around the corner, but it's still pretty cold."

Otoya gets up on his feet, tucks his hands in his cardigan's pockets, says, "I was waiting for you. I couldn't contact you so I got worried," then sneezes, hand flying over his nose.

Guilt stabs at Tokiya, recalling that he did tell Otoya he'll be home by dinnertime or… or something similar.

In his defense, he did intend to be home early if Ren hadn't invited him for drinks and he just lost track of time.

Besides, why should he be obliged to keep his promise to someone who he has no relation with whatsoever? In a realistic view of things, that is.

Regardless of what he tells himself though, he still feels a sharp twinge in his chest that washes away the apathy he has reserved for the redhead.

"I'm sorry, I should've called," he says with sincerity, surprising even himself because he's rarely sincere when apologizing. Years in the entertainment industry has made him live with the belief that showing remorse is a sign of vulnerability.

"It's okay. I figured you were probably stuck in that meeting." Otoya trails after him and once inside, he says, "I made dinner. If you're hungry."

The guilt that's been gnawing at him intensifies and Tokiya doesn't understand why. He's not supposed to care. Why then does he feel… well, like this? "I've already had dinner. The meeting did take long so they just had food catered. I would've gotten home early, but Ren wanted to have a few drinks."

"Oh." Otoya blinks up at him.

"Don't worry, my manager drove me home. I had to leave my car in Tokyo so…" Why in the world does he find the need to explain? Tokiya blames the alcohol for tilting him off his axis.

Once upstairs, he shuts himself in his room without uttering another word to Otoya, willing the image of the redhead out of his mind.


*


Tokiya jerks awake at the raucous sound from his phone, the familiar ring tone immediately registering in his clouded mind.

He bolts upright and as soon as the phone touches his ear, he hears Reiji's shrill voice screaming, "Toki! Where the hell are you? The driver of the car I've sent to pick you up said he's been waiting outside your house for almost an hour and no one's coming out even though he's been hitting the car horn and has been ringing your doorbell incessantly!"

Oh shit. " I just woke up, Reiji."

"Just woke up?" Reiji practically shrieks. "Toki, it's almost nine in the morning. You have a script reading at ten. Unless you fly over here or teleport, you won't make it in time. It's a couple of hours drive from your place considering the traffic."

"Shit. I'm going, I'm going." He jabs on his phone's screen to end the call and rushes over to his bathroom, takes the quickest shower he's ever had and gets dressed in record breaking time.

Once downstairs, he doesn't miss the absence of any form of sound so he presumes that Otoya has probably gone out or is probably still asleep.

The drive to Tokyo is quick. The driver seems to know the shortest route so Tokiya arrives at the production office at a quarter past ten with the lousiest hangover and a serious case of car sickness. Not even the special herbal tea he's been given can keep his stomach from doing somersaults and his head from throbbing like his brain is trying to break out of his skull.

Tokiya's pretty aware that he's making a complete embarrassing mess during the entire script reading. To his surprise, his fellow cast members pat him on the back when it's over, telling him that he's done a good job.

"Why is everyone being nice?" he asks Ren as soon as they reach the building's lobby.

Ren snorts and shakes his head. "You know, Ichi. What I admire about you the most is regardless if you look like your soul is being sucked into hell, you're still able to give your best performance and what makes it really amusing is that you don't seem to be aware of it."

Apparently, Ren is a good actor himself so Tokiya can't tell right now if he's being honest or he's pulling his leg to make him feel less shitty. "Stop, Ren. You're only making my headache worse."

Ren barks a laugh. "I guess having drinks is out of the question. How about I buy you a cup of coffee or tea? I know a café that can whip up a concoction that's perfect for hangovers."

It sounds scary, coming from Ren, but Tokiya figures it won't hurt to try. He needs to feel better before he picks up his car and go through that long drive home.

As soon as they step out of the building though, a swarm of press people and most likely a handful of paparazzi crowd around them but the pain in his head prevents him from understanding the questions thrown his way.

Then a woman practically blocks his path, shoves a recorder on his face, and asks, "Tokiya, what can you say about the rumor that your husband is cheating on you?"

"My what?" It takes a while for him to realize that she's referring to Otoya.

"Your husband?" The woman reiterates. "It's all over the papers. He's been photographed having lunch with a handsome young man."

By papers, Tokiya's sure she means tabloids. "And why does having lunch with someone make you think he's cheating?" It's unbelievable how these people's minds work. He knows it's pointless to try using logic so he ignores the rest of them and slides his sunglasses on to avoid eye contact.

Tokiya is already an expert in pushing past a horde of reporters so they're able to reach Ren's car in no time. Once he's inside, he sees Ren grab a paper from one of the reporters, tosses it into the backseat and slides into the driver's side.

"I'm sure it's not true," Ren says as they're driving out of the parking lot.

"I'm not worried." Truth is, there's a lump the size of a fist stuck in his chest that makes it hard to breathe. And it seems his heart has migrated up to his ears because his heartbeat is ten times louder than usual.

The café Ren's referring to is somewhere within the suburban area, quite far from the commercial district so it provides some sort of privacy. And Ren seems to be a regular because he tells the woman behind the counter, "The usual, Ayami-chan. And your hangover tea for my friend."

They choose a seat at the corner far from the windows and Ren slams the paper on the table once they're seated.

Tokiya takes the tabloid, turns one page after another until he finds the picture he's searching for. There's nothing incriminating about it, really. Otoya is simply leaning on the table with his arms crossed, lips stretched into a wide smile. The man he's with is good-looking indeed, sporting a hime-cut blue hair and dressed in casual business attire. But the still shot shows the man is simply drinking from a wine glass. Just what possessed the paparazzi and reporters to think that these two are out on a date or something?

There are two other smaller pictures that aren't in any way suggestive, at least in Tokiya's opinion. He dares not read the content because he expects it to be nothing but bullshit. But out of curiosity, he checks the caption where it says that the man with Otoya is Hijirikawa Masato, general manager of an advertising firm.

"Stupid press," he mutters, shaking his head.

"Wait." Ren says, snatching the paper from him, his forehead furrowing as he stares at the picture.

"That's Otoya's boss he's having lunch with," Tokiya explains. "Judging from what Otoya's wearing in that picture, I'm guessing that was taken the day he had a meeting with that guy to discuss a new project."

"I know this guy," Ren says almost inaudibly that Tokiya asks him to say it again. "I know this guy. He's a childhood friend. And we went to the same idol school together." His head snaps up and he reaches out to grab Tokiya's wrist.

"Ichi, I need to talk to your husband. Please. I haven't seen Hijirikawa for the past seven years. If Ikki can tell me where to find him...."

Tokiya has never seen Ren look so… so desperate – desperate close to breaking, that is.

Reiji and his people are the only ones who know where he lives now since Reiji's the one who found the place for him, and his people are the ones who helped Tokiya move in. He doesn't really have any plans of letting else anyone know but. Well, Ren's been his friend for years, so he deems he's trustworthy enough.

"You can come with me, about time you see my new place anyway. Then you can ask Otoya where you can find this guy," he says then quickly adds, "But you have to promise not to tell anyone where I live."

"Of course, Ichi. You can trust me." Gone is the smug look that Ren usually wears. Ren looks almost… hopeful? And wistful. Then he cusses, "Shit," and rubs his forehead with his hand. "I have an interview at six that I doubt I can get out of. Do you think you can—"

"No, Ren," Tokiya cuts him off, knowing Ren will ask him to wait around, which he's so not in the mood to do. Not today. "I really want to call it a day and head home. Maybe next time."

"Yeah." Ren looks rather heartbroken and it makes him wonder just who exactly this Hijirikawa Masato is in Ren's life. "Thanks Icchi."

A waitress comes over their table and places a cup of steaming coffee in front of Ren and a mug filled thick, foamy brown concoction that looks a little more like mud.

"Drink it," Ren says. "Trust me. You'll feel a lot better afterwards."

Tokiya thinks it will be more like he won't feel a thing anymore after taking this – whatever it is – because he's pretty sure he'll end up dead.


*


The house is as quiet as a grave when he arrives, almost dark since the sun is starting to set. Otoya probably isn't home, he thinks, but then when he steps into the living room and turns on the light, he's surprised to see the redhead sprawled on the divan – the same divan he has specifically told Otoya not to sleep on.

The living room is in disarray – vacuum standing in the middle, broom lying on the floor, rags scattered on the tea table, and while it isn't exactly dirty, it's clear that no cleaning has been done.

Oh, he can feel his headache returning. Is this guy really testing his patience?

With forthright intention to shake Otoya out of slumber, he marches up to the redhead in five long strides then grabs him by the shoulder but… hot. Otoya seems hot. Like literally. Tokiya can feel the heat emanating through the fabric of Otoya's shirt. On impulse, he touches Otoya's forehead and – Shit, he's burning up!

"Otoya?" He brushes the red fringes off of his husband's face. His. Husband. He hasn't really thought of Otoya that way. Of course, he's aware that they're married, but for him, this is nothing but a business arrangement.

All he gets in response is a groan but Otoya doesn't stir awake. He notices the redhead is shivering so Tokiya takes his jacket off and spreads it over Otoya's body. Then he rushes up the stairs, grabs a blanket and a couple of pills for fever and returns to the redhead to cover him up and he tries to rouse him again.

This time Otoya does open his eyes and he suddenly sits up. "Tokiya! You're home. I…" he says in a hoarse voice. "I'm sorry. I must've fallen asleep. I haven't… I haven't cleaned up yet."

"It's fine just…." Tokiya hands him the pills. "Here. Take this. It should help bring your fever down. Let me get you a glass of water." He rushes towards the kitchen to do just that then heads back to the living room, wheedles Otoya into taking the medicine and pushes him back down gently. "You should rest." And before he can even start asking himself what the fuck he's doing, he's already saying, "What would you like for dinner? I make a mean miso soup, you know."

A small smile takes shape on Otoya's lips and the sight seems to melt the proverbial ice around Tokiya's heart and when Otoya says, "Thank you, Tokiya," in a soft, sweet voice that coaxes the corners of Tokiya's mouth to curl up, he recognizes the telltale signs that he's slowly losing control of the situation.


*


When Tokiya pads down the stairs the next morning, he finds Otoya in the kitchen, specifically, in front of the stove. "Aren't you supposed to be resting?"

Otoya looks over his shoulder. "I feel a lot better, thanks. The tea you gave me must've worked like magic."

"That was actually honey and ginger. I'm surprised you drank it all," Tokiya says while he steals a peak at what Otoya's cooking. It seems another failed attempt at making tamagoyaki which ends up as a scrambled egg and he watches Otoya pour it in a plate and sprinkle it with seasoned nori.

"Well," Otoya says while he fills a tray with the plate full of eggs; another plate filled with slices of spam and two bowls of rice. "My taste buds weren't working yesterday that's why I was able to gobble it down."

Tokiya grabs the chopsticks, follows Otoya to the dining table, says, "By the way," as he takes a seat across the redhead, deciding to take advantage of the moment to ask about Ren's friend when they're acting all civil. "You remember, Ren, right?" Otoya nods. "He wanted to ask you about that guy who you were with, the one who owns the ad agency? Some paparazzi took a picture of you guys when you were having lunch or something and Ren saw it in the paper yesterday."

Otoya looks confused and Tokiya can't blame him. "What about him?"

"Ren says he's a childhood friend but hasn't seen him in seven years. So he's hoping you can tell him where to find this guy."

"Oh." Otoya takes a bite from a piece of spam then drops it on his bowl. "Well, he's at the ad agency most of the day. I think. I can give Ren the office address."

"Thanks." And when he is about to shove some eggs into his mouth, his phone rings and he thinks, speak of the devil as he sees Ren's name flashing on the screen. He foregoes pleasantries and asks, "What is it?"

"Oh my, I hope I didn't catch you in a bad mood," is what Ren says in his usual sugary tone.

"Not really. I am having breakfast with my husband," he says, putting a little emphasis on 'my husband.'

"Well, that's sweet." Ren seems to be on the road or out on the street since Tokiya can hear cars passing by. "Anyway, I'm calling to tell you that I found out the name of the ad agency Hijirikawa runs. Had to sweet talk my way through that lady reporter. And I also got the address so I'm right in front of the building now. I figured if your husband works here then you probably live around the area."

"Probably." Tokiya hesitates because one – he doesn't know exactly where the ad agency is located so he's not sure if it is indeed in the same area and two – now that Ren has found his old friend's office, Tokiya wonders if there is still a need to disclose where he lives.

"So maybe I can drop by your place later?" Ren says, sounding hopeful.

"Call me when you're done visiting." That should give him enough time to mull over the situation.

"Okay. Later." Ren's the one to end the call.

Otoya wears a look that seems to ask What was that all about? but he remains tightlipped and again, Tokiya can't blame him when he's the one who's been keeping the redhead at arms length.

"That was Ren," he says, taking the initiative to explain. "Looks like he found the ad agency. I've forgotten how resourceful he can be."

"Oh. Do you think I should warn Masa that he's coming?"

Tokiya shakes his head. "Too late for that. Ren is already there."


*


So they start filming the movie a week later and Tokiya finds himself spending more time on location which. It's normal and he's used to it, been doing this for years, but there's something different, like he feels rather homesick.

When he doesn't go home for three days in a row, Otoya calls him, asks how he is and just hearing the redhead's voice makes him feel oddly relieved.

The next day, after shooting a particular action-filled scene with Ren and Shirota Yu, Tokiya is so ready to climb into his trailer to rest but then one of the production assistants, Haruka, comes up to him, says, "Ichinose-san, your husband is here," to his shock because… well, he's not expecting Otoya to be there.

And what surprises him even more is that Otoya is there to bring him food, when he shouldn't have bothered because they have catered meals, but for some bizarre reason, he can't find it in his heart to disappoint Otoya so he takes the bento, says, "Thanks," and starts digging into the stir-fried vegetables.

It's about five days later when Tokiya is stuck on location yet again and Otoya comes over with another bento. This time though, he brings another one for Ren. And Tokiya feels this sharp twist somewhere between his chest and his gut which he doesn't have a name for.

But then Otoya tells Ren that, "Masa made that for you," and the curdling sensation dissipates in an instant.

He finds himself asking, "Masa?" though, not that he's interested to know or anything, just seems to make sense that he says something.

Otoya then says, "Hijirikawa Masato. The ad agency boss?" and somehow his curiosity is piqued.

As soon as Otoya leaves, he's quick to ask Ren, "So what's the deal with you and… Masa, is it?"

"Masato," Ren says then shrugs. "To make the long story short, we dated back in idol school. But then his grandfather died and he was basically Hijirikawa's – uh, Masato's – backbone to stand up against his father's wishes. With his grandfather out of the picture, his father then forced him to drop idol school so he can take over their family's conglomerate but doing so would mean giving up his freedom. So in his desperate attempt to escape his father, he decides to cut all ties and disappear, so to speak."

"Including with you?"

Ren nods. "Including with me. But. We're fine now. His father passed away two years ago, left him some money so he used it to establish his ad agency. His cousin took his place as the conglomerate head and Hijiri—Masato can't be any happier."

Someone yells, "Ichinose-san! They're filming your next scene in five minutes."

"Alright. I'll be there," he hollers back then taps Ren on the arm. "Later, man."


*


It's one of those rare breaks he gets while in the middle of a production so he decides to spend it at home. Bone tired and almost stretched to his limit, he arrives at what he can only describe as a war zone.

The house is a complete mess, like a hurricane has swept past it. There are clothes on the floor and on the stair's banister and a heap on the couch. What looks like an orange juice spill has dried up on the living room carpet and the kitchen looks the worst. A collection of dirty plates and bowls and mugs and glasses are piled up on the sink and the counter is littered with food scraps.

Tokiya hears the faint sound of a guitar so he uses it as a beacon to find Otoya who is out in the balcony, strumming on the strings and writing on a notebook. When he slides the glass door open, Otoya nearly jumps out of his seat.

"Tokiya!" he says, eyes wide as if he's seen a ghost. "I uh… I didn't know you were coming home."

Miffed, he says, "I suppose that's the reason why the house looks like a family of ogre lives in it," through gritted teeth.

"I uh…" Otoya starts rubbing the back of his head with his hand, says, "Sorry. I was given a deadline to finish at least five jingle compositions," and makes no move to perhaps start cleaning and it's enough to drive Tokiya up the wall.

When Otoya opens his mouth again, Tokiya holds out his palm. "Stop. I don't wanna hear another word from you." Then he pivots around and stomps up to his bedroom, only to find most of his things rearranged. His closet door is left partially open so he looks inside, curious, and sees that his clothes have been reorganized by color and not by purpose. He feels as if his head is about to explode.

"Otoya!" The redhead comes bounding up the stairs and into his room. "What, pray tell, did you do to my room?"

"Oh." Otoya looks irritatingly guiltless that it takes all of his patience and self-control to not strangle him right there and then. "I was watching this show that taught feng shui, and I thought maybe it will help you get positive energy if your bedroom is arranged in relation to—"

"I don't give a flying fuck!" Tokiya spits out, all his exhaustion and anger and frustration and just about anything negative surfacing. "I want you to start clearing up the mess downstairs, and I mean now, not later, and I don't give a shit about your deadline, just clean up and stay the hell out of my room from now on. Do you understand?"

The expression that stays on Otoya's face when he says," I understand," is something that makes him look like Tokiya has driven a samurai sword through his gut.

Once Otoya steps out and closes the door behind him, Tokiya reaches out and grabs the first thing his fingers can coil around and hurls it across the room. He then watches the purple-blue vase that Otoya has given him the first week into marriage with a piece of sunflower roll on the floor in pieces. The flower has long dried up and pressed between the pages of Tokiya's favorite book. The vase now lies on his floor all broken.

He leaves the house to cool down, drives to the next town and books a room at a hotel where he stays for two days.

They don't talk about the incident and Tokiya goes back to location filming.

When he returns home about a week later, he finds the house squeaky clean and spotless and Otoya seems to be busy puttering around the kitchen. A familiar, mouthwatering aroma wafts all the way to the main entrance.

"Oh hey, I hope you're hungry," Otoya says when Tokiya steps into the kitchen. "I made your favorite. Sansai soba."

And just as he goes Oh wow, haven't had that in a while, smells delish, in his head, his thought process screeches to a halt when he realizes that not once, at least as far as he can remember, did he tell Otoya that this is on top of his most loved dish because it's someone's specialty. "How did you know it's my favorite?"

Otoya takes off his mittens and hangs them on the hook by the counter then he starts rambling, "Your mom kinda told me? I uh… I ran into her at the supermarket the other day. She kind of came up to me and introduced herself because… well, I didn't know her but sort of saw a picture of her when I cleaned up your room before, so I know how she looks like and well, she invited me to her house and she um… she taught me how to prepare this and she—"

"You. Did. What?" Tokiya's ears are ringing. He can't believe what he's just heard. He hasn't seen nor spoken to his mom for like... ever. Well, ever since she came crawling back to the arms of the man who claims to be his father. Something Tokiya will never acknowledge because all he sees him as is an irresponsible man who has walked out of his mother when Tokiya is too young to even remember.

"I uh…" Otoya's fingers are playing with the fabric of his apron while he continues to babble on, saying, "She seems nice? And sweet. And… and she really misses you. So I thought maybe we can like—invite her over for dinner one of these days? And your father—"

"Don't you DARE talk about my father!" Tokiya roars, feeling his blood boiling and cold fury surging through his veins. "And who the hell do you think you are to act all chummy with my mother? You seem to be forgetting that to me, YOU are nobody."

It starts with a shocked expression, and then it morphs into a look of hurt, like Otoya is visibly breaking inside. "I have had it," he says in almost a whisper that Tokiya isn't sure if he's heard it right. "I. Am so done. I don't give a shit if I lose the house. I am through with you," he says then takes the apron off, throws it on the counter and storms out of the kitchen.

Tokiya feels awfully, awfully bad.

Some minutes later, he hears Otoya trudging down the stairs and when he doesn't show up at the kitchen entryway, Tokiya saunters out into the hallway to see him almost out the front door with his luggage in tow.

"Where are you going?" flies out of his mouth before he can realize how stupid he must sound.

"I'm leaving. I'm sick and tired of this… this arrangement. I… I want a divorce," is what Otoya says before he disappears behind the closed door.

Tokiya screams in his head. Then he actually screams, "Damn it!" his voice echoing around the house which now seems hauntingly empty.


*





Omake:

There seems to be a buzz of excitement in the office when he arrives but as soon as he walks through the door, the entire space suddenly falls into an unnerving silence. He doesn't miss the part where all eyes are on him, which isn't really unusual, but there's something different with the way his people are watching him.

"Good morning, Hijirikawa-san," Tomochika greets him in her usual perky way, but his secretary seems extra bubbly today.

"Did something happen?" he asks, his instincts going haywire.

"Hmm?" Her finger starts playing with a lock of her – a habit she shows when nervous or trying to restrain herself – something Masato has learned over the past two years she's been working for him. "Nothing. Why? Are you expecting something to happen?"

He has no time for this. There are about three presentations he has to prepare. "No. I'll be in my office."

When he enters his private space with a flourish though, he feels his whole world tilt when he sees the man who he hasn't seen in years – seven years to be precise – sitting on his chair like a king.

"Jinguji," falls through his lips like some secret spell in fear that if he doesn't acknowledge the ginger blonde's presence, he will disappear into thin air.

"Nice office you have here, Hijirikawa," Jinguji Ren says, leaning back comfortably on his leather-covered chair, his eyes visibly raking over Masato's body. "You don't look too bad yourself."

What lessens his shock in seeing Ren is that he has known that the probability of their paths crossing is quite high considering that his freelancer, Otoya, is married to the actor Tokiya who is known to be friends with Ren. So destiny has found a way to wind their strings together once more.

"Get off my chair, Jinguji. I'm a busy man and I have a lot of work to do,"

Ren does as he asks, moseys over to the door, says, "I see you haven't changed. You're as cold as ever," then just as Masato is going through a momentary internal panic that Ren might leave, Ren closes the door and locks it. He stops Masato from opening the blinds to the window connecting him to the work area of his employees.

"What are you doing, Jinguji?" His heart seems to be engaged in a violent attempt to break out of his chest.

Ren's too close, breath warm against his face, hand still curled around his wrist. "I looked for you for years, even had my brother hire a private investigator but—"

"I traveled around under different aliases before settling down here," he says, recalling his vagabond trek all over Japan.

Ren lifts his free hand to stroke Masato's cheek with the back of his fingers, says, "I missed you, you know. Masa, I—" then his lips are on his, and Masato can't find the strength to push him away so instead, he melts into Ren, just like he did all those years ago.


tbc ...


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