Fear is the Heart of Love

Chapter 6

“Senpai, I love you.”

I felt heat rush into my face as I blushed. Did I just confess to the man I had been stalking for years? Could I handle being rejected, because honestly, that was the most likely outcome to this random, one-sided love.

“Do you want to go out with me?”

Eh?

“W-What?”

Saga-senpai’s hand was suddenly touching my head, making me blush harder. He ruffled my hair and said, “I don’t mind.”


I walked home, replaying the recent events of that day in my head.

Saga-senpai asked me out? What? Why?!

But I knew really that I didn’t care. My little heart would burst if I really went out with my first unrequited love. My face was still hot, but it wasn’t from me blushing at the thoughts. I was tired and aching, my body throbbing with dull pain.

‘Great, it’s starting again,’ I thought sourly. By the time I was walking through the gates of the Onodera Mansion entrance, I was panting and sweating hard. Doubled over in pain, I stumbled up the steps and weakly pushed through the front doors. I coughed roughly and gasped for breath. I heard my parent’s voices in the closest living room. I lurched to the grand room and leaned on the door. It swung open, revealing my parent’s shocked faces as they saw my current condition.

“Ritsu?!” My mother desperately exclaimed.

All I saw was the floor approaching, then an unfathomable blackness. I heard my mother screaming my name and my father yelling for someone to call an ambulance.


I awoke in a cold sweat. The tile floor pressed into my side as I remembered that I had fallen asleep in the bathroom. I propped myself up on my hands and blinked away my exhaustion. My spine was stiff from the hard floor. I felt my head again to feel it was still warm.

“Dammit,” I cursed under my breath. I jumped as I heard a banging on my front door and a sonorous voice yell my name.

“Onodera! Open this goddamn door!”

Fuck…

I pushed up from the tub and trudged into the main hall. Why was he screaming at me so early in the morning?! I glanced at the clock and audibly gasped. It was 11 o’clock.

“Shit!” I fumed and ran to the door. I flung it open to see an infuriated, no, more like livid Takano.

“Where the HELL have you been?! I came all the way from work! To you know what time it is?!”

“I'm so sorry! I overslept! Please forgive me,” I bowed again and again, “I’ll go get ready now, please excuse me! I’ll be out in five minutes.”

I attempted to close the door but a black shoe wedged in between the frame and door. I opened it again and a less angry Takano said, “Are you okay?”

“Y-Yes of course! Haha, stupid me! Now please leave!” I couldn’t hide the irritation in my voice. If he was so pissed at me for not being at work, he was just wasting more time!

“You can take a day off if you need to.”

“What? I just took a day off! I’m fine Takano-san,” I quickly slapped away the hand that approached my forehead. If he saw I had a fever, he wouldn’t let me out the door.

“Fine. But if I get one complaint or see you slacking, I’m going to kick your ass!”

“Duly noted! Now I need to get ready, so you can go back to work.”

“I brought my car, so I’ll wait for you,” Takano walked in unannounced and plopped down on the couch. I knew there was no point arguing, so I just ran into my room and rummaged through the closet.

‘Dammit! I can’t find anything now that it’s all clean and organized,’ I thought as I tossed shirts and shoes around, ruining my perfect closet. A sudden wave of nausea hit me and I clapped a hand to my mouth. I gagged, but managed to swallow the rising bile down. Shaking my head to clear my clouded head, I finally found a decent shirt and pants. Throwing them on and combing my hair in ten seconds, I ran to the genkan and slipped shoes on. I felt Takano silently follow me as I snatched up my jacket, bag, and rushed out the door.


“Oooh, did Richan oversleep~?” A cheerful voice giggled.

“Shut up Kisa-san,” I sat down and immediately started working.

About an hour later, our lunch break rolled in. I planned to skip it to continue to work, but I felt a heavy hand land on my shoulder and a familiar, monotone voice demand, “Oi, either you eat with me now or have dinner at my place.”

I felt a vein throb at this tyrant’s stubbornness and I sighed difficultly. I really didn’t want to end up in his place later tonight, because I knew what would happen afterward. That left lunch with the boss.

“I’ll eat lunch with you…just hold on,” I mumbled as I continued to stare at the computer screen.

“Good. What do you want for lunch?”

“Umm-” I stopped short as the familiar burning sensation returned in my throat and down in my stomach.

“Hold that thought-!” I shot up and scurried to the bathroom like a mouse. I flew to the closest stall and vomited immediately into the toilet. The sounds of my retching and coughing filled the bathroom as the slimy contents slid up my throat and out of my mouth into the open mouth of the toilet below me.

‘Jesus, did Uncle throw up this much when he had Strabo?’ I grumbled internally as I barfed for the fourth time. I heard the door bang open and Takano say, “Onodera.”

Fuck!

“Taka-!” My sentence was interrupted again by more vomit. Dots danced in my vision as I grew dehydrated from too much retching.

“Onodera? Open the door,” I heard the slight desperation in his voice as he knocked on my stall. I did my best to hold down the rest and unlatched the door weakly. Everything swam in my vision as I saw the alarm in my boss’s face.

“What?” I croaked.

“I’m going to take you to the hospital,” I felt his hand enclose around my arm. Alarm rose in my own face and I pulled away, “No!”

‘Because you’ll find out the real reason of why I’m sick.’

“Onodera! Look at yourself! You need a doctor!”

“No! Please Takano-san, no! I’ll just go home and rest!”

“Why are you so scared?”

“I-I’m not! It’s just unnecessary! Hospitals are always so busy and crowded, and I’d probably be waiting for hours just to find out I have a bad fever or something!”

I brushed past him, but the world spun and I almost collapsed on the spot. But he caught me and held me up as I blinked away the dancing dots in my vision. The edges were faded to black and I knew I would lose consciousness soon if I didn’t calm down.

“Onodera, you are going,” He growled and pulled me upright. He started to walk holding on to my wrist, but I planted my feet firmly to the ground and continued to protest.

“Dammit Onodera, except a little help sometimes!” He yanked me hard and I lurched forward. Before he reached the door though, I jumped forward and grabbed the back of his shirt. This abruptly stopped him and he looked down at me.

“Please Takano-san, no,” I pleaded. I didn’t care if he was suspicious by my behavior, but I needed him to forget.

“Just send me home. I promise I’ll rest as long as I need to and I’ll eat dinner with you every night. Just don’t bring me to the hospital,” If he thought that I was afraid of hospitals, I didn’t care. As long as he didn’t know the truth.

I felt him turn around and sigh slowly. He placed a hand on my head and said quietly, “Fine, but if you’re not at least remotely better by tonight, you’re going to the hospital.”

I nodded imperceptibly as he ruffled my hair. His hand slipped away and landed on my waist. I felt him lean forward and press his lips to my warm forehead. Red ran into my cheeks and my eyes widened. He pulled back and I half-heartedly mumbled, “Don’t do that at work.”

I heard his chest rumble from the small chuckle he produced and he said, “I’ll drive you home.”


Pain blossomed on the left side of my stomach as I sat down in the car seat. I flinched, but quickly covered my pained expression as Takano slid into the seat next to me. He pulled out of the parking lot and I curled up in the seat, pressing a hand to my side. It felt as if someone had stuck a knife in an inch deep, slowly pulling down and tearing my stomach open. It grew as we drove, but I showed no signs of pain except my hands pinching my sides so hard it went numb. Luckily the man next to me was too distracted with driving to notice. My vision was still blurred and the new headache wasn’t helping.

Finally, we reached the apartment. I was almost in too much pain to move but I forced myself to sit up. I gritted my teeth so hard they squeaked. I excruciatingly stepped out of the car and almost moaned in agony. I was bent forward a little, still clutching my sides. Takano grabbed my arm and helped me to the elevator, believing my poker face. I might verbally be a terrible liar, but I can pull off not showing my pain with ease. He helped me to my door and I bade him a good day and a thank you. He mumbled something about coming over later but I was in too much anguish to notice.

I closed my door and waited for his footsteps to disappear. As soon as they were, I sunk down to my hands and knees. Now it felt like the knife had horizontally sliced my stomach open side to side, and I waited for my guts to spill out. I gave a little moan of torture. I crawled agonizingly to the bathroom, everything swimming and in slow motion. I tasted a sick sweetness in my mouth and threw up on the tile of the bathroom.

Except this time, it was all blood.

I panicked and tried to stand up, but immediately collapsed again, screaming in pain. I moaned as more blood slid out of my mouth and down my chin, splattering on the floor. Tears of pain and fear slid down my cheeks and mingled with the slight blood on my chin. I needed to call someone. Takano immediately popped into my head.

I turned around, crawling exceedingly slow out of the bathroom. I clawed at the couch, yanking myself up slightly and forcing me on my feet. I ignored my screams of pain and half-crawled, half-walked to the end of the living room using the couch as support. I instantly collapsed back down on my knees. My limbs were unfeasibly heavy as I pushed forward, my stubbornness not relenting to the pain. I reached my bag on the floor and tipped it over, falling on my face as the bag did. My vision lost, my shaking hand reached forward as all my senses started to diminish. My body was shutting down, I realized.

Takano-san….I’m sorry. I should have told you….Masamune,’ I gave a final cough and blood bubbled out and trickled down my chin, ‘I love you.’

My final thought as I felt my fingers wrap around my phone.


Something didn’t feel right to Takano. He thought he heard a sound come from Onodera’s house as he reached the elevator at the end of the hall. It sounded like a moan almost. But he brushed it off as his worried imagination. The elevator rolled down the shaft to the parking garage underneath the building, but an unsettling feeling of unease continued to build up in his mind.

Something was not right. He just knew.

He walked out of the elevator with a frown on his face. Did he forget something about work? Had he left something at Onodera’s somehow?

Onodera.

He knew it had something to do with Onodera. His natural ability to know something was wrong with Onodera was always right. Takano always understood when he was needed by his first love. When something was wrong with Ritsu, he acquired the feeling of unease. Like now.

He immediately turned away from his car and quickly walked back to the elevator. His worry got the best of him and he mashed the button to go back up to their floor. The elevator creaked up the shaft ever so slowly. He tapped his foot as he waited. It finally dinged, informing him of its arrival. He squeezed out the door before it was fully open and walked down the hall.

I’m probably overreacting and he’s just going to yell at me when I show up,’ Takano couldn’t help but smile at the image of his little yelling uke. He knocked on the door to hear no response.

He checked the door to see it unlocked. ‘I’m going to kill him,’ Takano thought. He cautiously opened the door and called, “Onodera?”

He looked down to see his lover sprawled out on the floor, lifeless and blood coming from his mouth.


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