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Less Lonelier

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“Welp,” Ryuji sighs, stomping into the apartment without taking off or wiping his shoes. Mud tracks in from the doorway and stamps onto the linoleum floor, and judging by the array of dried sneaker-marks leading in different ways across the tile, it’s a normal practice for him. He throws his ring of keys haphazardly onto a cluttered table, yawns and stretches his arms above his head, looks around boredly. “Here it is. Mi goddamn casa.”

It occurs to Akira that he’s never actually been inside Ryuji’s house before, only that one empty room in the complex. The living room itself is quite messy; there are used paper dishes at a tiny dining table in the corner, unopened bills and notices from the school and magazines spilling over counters, clothes and jackets hung over chairs. Blankets and pillows are thrown across the couch as if someone lives on it. In the corners of the room, there are moving boxes that look like they’re only halfway unpacked— hasn’t he been living here for years?— and the blinds are bent and closed in every window, letting in just a faint amount of gray light. There’s a short hallway to the left and a weird merged half-kitchen on the right. It smells like cinnamon air freshener, and the house feels cold. It seems like no one’s lived here for years.

Akira self-consciously takes off his shoes and places him by the poor doormat. He asks, “Are your parents here?”

Ryuji actually laughs out loud when he turns to him, as if the question is stupid. “Yeah, dude, Mom’s cookin’ us lunch right now,” he snorts, motioning to the empty kitchen. Akira gives him a concerned look, and he just huffs and shakes his head. “What, like your parents come home every day or somethin’?’

Of course they did when he lived with them. And even Sojiro is back from work in time for dinner nowadays. “... Well, yeah.”

There’s an awkward bit of silence. The rain continues to bucket down, and he hears a dog bark from another house as if the walls are made of paper. Ryuji’s expression falls, and he scratches the back of his hand, turns back around and heads toward the couch. A rather large TV sits on an out-of-place chest of drawers, the monitor tilted specifically towards the couch. Anyone sitting on the other leather recliner wouldn’t be able to see it. Ryuji must spend a lot of time on that couch. “I’m tired as shit,” he says, then falls flat into the cushions and blankets, haphazardly kicking his sneakers off the side onto the dirtied shag carpet. He’s tall enough that his head and feet go from armrest to armrest. “Tell you what: I’m gonna take a nap. There’s food in the fr— well, no, there’s prolly, like. Instant ramen in the cupboards.” He buries his face in a pillow, wraps his long arms around it. “Or cans of soup maybe? Or tea. Whatever’s in there, you can totally help yourself.”

“Thank you,” he says, though he isn't hungry. “I’m kind of tired, too.”

“I know, right?” He turns to look at him, and his hair fluffs with static when it rubs against the pillow. “I had three tests today. Three! Chemistry, Math, and History. Two were multiple choice, thank God, but I had to totally bullshit the History one. And this kinda weather always makes me wanna pass out, so I was half-asleep all effin’ day.” When Akira holds eye-contact, Ryuji gets uncomfortable again, turning to stare at the low ceiling. “... I just hope I didn’t fail. I mean, I don’t care about it that much, but I just. I can’t afford it if I wanna graduate.”

Akira nods, and there’s another pause. Then, Ryuji gets it and snaps his fingers.

“If you wanna sleep, my bedroom’s the first door on the left,” he points to the hallway, “It’s messy as hell, though. Shit keeps piling up on my bed, so I sleep out here most the time.”

“Why don’t you clean it?”

Ryuji snickers. “If you saw my room, you’d understand. Trust me.”

Akira hums, wanders around a bit more. He really didn’t know what he was expecting to happen while they wait for seven o’clock to roll around— Ryuji managed to get a reservation at this stylish restaurant downtown, and he couldn’t find anyone else to go with him— but it was certainly different than just going off and sleeping in different rooms until dark. It isn’t like him to judge, and he’ll never hold anything against Ryuji for it, but the dark, empty apartment is a bit depressing.

To try and help it out, Akira walks over to a small lamp by the recliner and clicks it on. Soft orange light fills the room, and it seems just a little warmer. “How about I sleep in here?” Akira suggests.

“What, on the floor? No way. I ain’t gonna be a shitty host.”

“No, on the couch.”

Ryuji furrows his brow. Then he starts to sit up, rolling his shoulders. “Alright, fine. I’ll just sleep on the other chair. Fair warning, though, the cushions can kinda fall out if you don’t—”

“No,” Akira chuckles again, and he shrugs his blazer off, draping it across the recliner and navigating around the cluttered coffee table to lay down next to Ryuji on the couch. He states, “Here,” and he props himself up on his side to look at him. It's quite comfortable; the suede material is soft and plush, and the pillow he’s on is big enough for the two of them.

Ryuji is looking at him as if he’s absolutely fucking crazy. There’s no way that they can both lay down on the couch without at least their legs touching, and Akira has to curl himself back so that his arms are at a distance, and he’s clearly not used to this type of thing. He keeps laughing and shuffling to make room and trying to start a sentence, giving up halfway through. He settles on, “Dude, you are so freakin’ weird,” and Akira just smiles a little. “You just wanna take a nap here? Two bros sharin’ a tinyass couch like no big deal?”

“Why not?” He asks, purses his lip. He takes off his glasses, folds them and reaches out to set them on the coffee table. Then, he folds an arm behind his back, sticks the other underneath the pillow. It’s a cumbersome position, he has to admit. He’d much rather just get closer, but he doesn't want to make Ryuji uncomfortable.

“I dunno, man, it’s just weird.” Ryuji yawns again, curls his knees away a little more and closes his eyes. He looks more sad than tired, and it doesn't suit him at all. “Whatever floats your goat, though. I’m shleep. Just don’t get too close, or it’ll get awkward.”

“You seem down,” Akira notes, and his eyes blink open. “You were really pumped on the train ride, and now you’re not. Did something happen?”

Ryuji grimaces, then sighs. “Nah, nothin’ happened… I really— hm. Do you mind if I vent?”

“Not at all.”

“I kinda hate my house,” he says softly. “I don't like being home. I-I just, I hate the mess, and I hate how there ain’t ever any shit to eat, n’ how my mom always sprays a shitton of that cinnamon-apple garbage when she’s here, and I hate how lonely it feels when I get home from school. That’s kinda one of the reasons why I loved the track team so much— it gave me an excuse to be out of the house for, like, ever. I got out to train early, n’ then the practices and the meets at other schools would go on for hours. Until dark, most of the time. I’d grab food on the way home, n’ then I’d basically only come home to crash on the couch.”

“Really?” Akira asks quietly. “I get how it’s lonely, though. Does it help when your parents are here?”

Hell no,” he almost laughs, “Mom’s always goin’ batshit over my grades, and my dad’s never even—”

Ryuji stops himself there. He quickly rubs his eye with his palm, and when he puts his arm back down, they’re laying a bit closer together. “I-I never like it. It isn't like— it's not that I don't love my mom or nothin’, don’t get me wrong, I just— sometimes, she gets so— it's hard to explain. I can’t explain it.”

Akira just nods, gently pats a hand on his shoulder. He’s relieved when Ryuji doesn't seem to mind. “Did they ever—”

“And then you came along,” Ryuji exclaims, “I mean, there’s only so many times you can just go out to the goddamn arcade by yourself before you go insane, and it’s either that or come home and just watch freakin’ soccer or some stupid shit,” he jerks his head toward the TV, “And now you're here and I love goin’ to your house and playin’ video games or whatever, or trainin’ behind the school, or when you make me stuff at Leblanc, or when we’re gettin’ some goodass ramen together— dude, I’m, like, never home ‘cause of you. I effin’ love it. And even right now, the house feels a ton less lonelier with you here. I really— can I say somethin’ kinda weird?”

“Go ahead.”

“It’s not like me to say shit like this, but I’m... I’m really glad I met you. I’d kinda be SOL without you at this point. I— I mean, just finally havin’ somebody to talk to makes me feel like…” Ryuji gives him a warm look, and he suddenly feels very, very close on the cramped couch. “Like I’m worth somethin’, y’know?” He glances away. “N’ I ain’t felt like that in a while, I guess.”

Akira responds by pulling him into an embrace, clasping his hands behind Ryuji’s back and tucking his chin into his shoulder. Surprisingly, Ryuji hugs back, just laughing it off and pressing his cheek into his turtleneck. “You beautiful, vulnerable bastard,” says Akira, and Ryuji laughs even harder. His hands grip oddly at Akira’s sides, but they seem content like that, their legs tangled and their minds at ease.

They stay that way for long minutes, just hugging on the couch and listening to the rain. It’s sort of freeing. Guys always have to act so weird about this kind of thing— one long handshake, one prolonged display of sincerity and it’s a ruined friendship— but if only for a little while, the two manage to relax in one another’s arms as if it isn’t anything at all. Ryuji breaks the silence after a while, though, humming and fidgeting a bit. “Dude…”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way or anything, but you, like…” He nuzzles his face into his sweater a bit more, and his voice is soft and scratchy. “You smell really good. Really clean, like nice cologne or somethin’.”

Akira snickers, feels his face flush. “What would be the wrong way to take that?”

“... I dunno,” he says, slightly wavering.

Barely a minute passes, and all he hears is Ryuji’s breath as it slows, becomes heavy and deliberate. Shaky. His arms go limp, falling off of Akira’s sides. His eyes are clenched shut, his expression pained. Akira feels another pang of concern. “Are you okay?”

When there’s no answer, Akira moves a bit to try and see what the problem is, and that’s when he feels it against his leg.

Ryuji is rock hard.

Akira’s mouth suddenly goes dry as the idea of platonic cuddling flies directly out the window. He has no idea what to do. He should probably say something, shouldn’t he? That he isn’t angry or anything?

“... Ryuji—”

“Don’t fuckin’ say anythin’,” he growls, his cheeks fiercely blushing red, and Akira’s heart suddenly leaps into his throat— for all Ryuji’s cursing, it comes as a surprisingly large shock to hear him actually drop an f-bomb. “Don’t say fuck about shit and don't move.”

“O-oh, sorry,” he says stupidly, and, in attempt to undo his previous motion, moves backward, effectively rubbing his thigh directly between Ryuji’s legs— the stifled grunt it draws from him almost makes him want to do it again, but the look he shoots him afterwards makes him ashamed for even thinking about it.

“What the fuck did I just say, man—”

“Shit, sorry—”

Ryuji takes a deep breath, obviously embarrassed out of his mind, no real anger in his voice. “I didn’t— I wasn’t even thinkin’ about— I ain’t like that,” he shakes his head over and over, “Lemme just get up, I’ll just—”

“Hey, hey, it’s alright, I’m not mad—”

“I don’t even know why I— I promise I don’t— I wasn’t,” He babbles endlessly, and Akira gets an odd tug in his chest when he realizes how flustered he is; granted, Akira would probably react similarly if he’d popped a boner while cuddling with his best friend. Nonetheless, he’s overcome with the urge to kiss him, to comfort him until he feels secure again.

So Akira cuts off his string of apologies and justifications, grasps his shoulders and looks him in the eyes. “It’s fine,” he says softly, shifting until Ryuji is below him, just a centimeter below him— and Ryuji goes still and nearly seems hypnotized for a moment before he tears himself away, presses himself back into the sofa as if he’s trying to phase through the ground, a whole new wave of panic overtaking his expression.

“Holy shit, wait, I’m not, oh my God, I’m not about to— I get that you’re that way, I guess, and that’s totally cool and all, but,” Akira can actually see sweat glint on his temple in the orange light, “Fuck, dude, I ain’t, I don’t— I like girls,” he blurts, clearly short of breath.

“Yeah, so do I,” Akira offers, and it’s the truth. “What does that have to do with this?”

Ryuji’s eyes go wide as saucers, his chest rising and falling wildly. He seems to consider it, cocking an eyebrow before nodding slow in a moment of understanding. “Mkay, alright, yeah, that’s, that’s valid. A-alright, that makes sense. This is— God, I’m so sorry, bruh, this is weird as fuck, I really—”

That’s when Akira leans down, closes his eyes and kisses him softly, slowly, just enough to quiet him, slight enough that Ryuji can easily pull away if he objects. And he doesn’t. Ryuji leans into it, nervously places a hand between Akira’s shoulder blades, and when Akira pulls away to ask if everything’s okay, Ryuji pushes up and kisses him for a fraction of a second, almost as if he's trying to hide it.

Akira just stares at him when he falls back. Ryuji’s practically shaking at this point, his hands gripping at the sofa cushions as if he’ll fall off at any second. His eyes bore through him, wide and anxious, deep and dark as fresh coffee. His tongue darts out of the corner of his mouth for an instant. “... Okay,” Ryuji warbles, closing his eyes and gently, gently wrapping his arms around Akira’s back. “Okay.”

He hesitates, dumbfounded. Ryuji’s breath puffs hot against his cheeks. “Okay?”

“... Yeah, man.” He nods, swallows roughly.

So Akira places his hand on the side of Ryuji’s neck and gives him another soft kiss, and Ryuji presses back eagerly, clumsy and without aim. His embrace tightens, and he shudders when Akira’s palm shifts to his nape, stroking back and forth with his thumb. His lips are soft and warm, and one of his arms slips down, his cold hand sliding under Akira’s sweater to find purchase at his waist, holding him there with an unsteady grip—

Wait,” he gasps like he’s just remembered something important, “Hold on, hey, wait a sec.”

“Yeah?”

“It— It’s just— I promised myself that if I ever did any gay shit,” Ryuji explains, “Then I would be the guy that’s on top.”

When it sets in that he’s serious, Akira tries to stifle a laugh, almost chokes on his own breath. He can tell he’s done an awful job of it when he sees Ryuji crack a bashful smile as well, bowing his head forward, and soon the two are just laughing over the statement, the pent-up discomfort between them soon fading away. Akira kisses him again, lets him clumsily push them over until he’s flat on his back with Ryuji’s eyes on him, looking him over again and again. “Th-thanks, bro,” he breathes a laugh, and Akira snickers, pushes the hair back out of his face. “Wait, dude, can you even see right now? Am I hella blurry?”

“Wh— oh, the glasses? Those aren’t prescription. I can see fine.”

Ryuji hums in understanding, running his wide hands across his back as they kiss, pressing their hips flush— but then he pulls back again, squints at him. “So you're tellin' me that you’re wearin’ fake glasses with fake glass in ‘em every single day just to look cool?”

“Yeah.”

“... Wow,” he says in amazement, “That’s prolly the douchiest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”

And Akira busts out in ugly laughter again, can hardly breathe when Ryuji ducks down to kiss his neck, his jaw, the side of his cheek, quick and endless as if on impulse— he tries his hardest to contain himself when Ryuji presses his lips to his, tried to maintain some semblance of composure when the entire situation has him elated to the point of hysteria.

He has to clutch onto the back of Ryuji’s neck a bit harder, moving his grip down so that he doesn't hurt him by accident, but Akira somehow manages to cool himself down, licking at his lip when he kisses deep and fixing his legs to slot with Ryuji’s, finding a balance, letting Ryuji get an idea of what he’s doing. Ryuji’s already told Akira how inexperienced he is in this area, but he seems to be holding up pretty decently in the moment— he follows into Akira’s movements and rolls against him in slow, deliberate motions that make the legs of the couch creak, achingly slow until he can feel his hard cock straining against his thigh. Akira pulls his hands up, cups the sides of Ryuji’s face tenderly when he kisses him, feels him shudder suddenly and pull back—

“Fuck, dude, how are you so calm right now?” He pants, and everything goes back to making sense. “I-I’m kinda freakin’ the hell out on the inside, I just, oh my god, I’m havin’ a heart attack here and I look down n’ you’re just so goddamn chill. This ain’t your first time, is it? Have you done this shit before?”

“Yeah,” he nods. “Me and Ann made out one time.”

“You and— you and Ann?”

“Uh-huh.”

When?”

“Like, February.”

“What in the absolute fuck,” Ryuji chortles incredulously, shaking his head, and christ, he really does just get more and more handsome the more Akira gets to know him— at first it’d just been his warm eyes and his bright hair that drew him in, but now he gets distracted by the littlest things, the crook in his smile, the bump in the bridge of his nose (he’d broken it on a shopping cart when he was a toddler), the distinct sharpness to his features. “You seriously made out with Ann? Shit, man, how far’d you get?”

“As far as we’re getting now. Wait—” He pointedly moves his hands, placing them flat on Ryuji’s chest and spreading his fingers wide. “There. This far.”

“... I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you,” he deadpans, and Akira doesn’t even get the chance to laugh before Ryuji grabs one of his open hands and pulls him into a deep kiss, his skin burning hot, using too much tongue but Akira doesn't even mind— and Ryuji’s other hand suddenly shoots down and starts to palm Akira through the front of his pants holy shit holy shit holy fuck

“How come girls like you so much?” Ryuji murmurs into his lips, dragging his fingertips rough over the tent in his slacks as if he knows exactly what the hell he’s doing, leaving Akira to cling around him with his free arm while Ryuji interlaces his fingers with his other hand. “How come they like you so much, and, and.”

And not me, Ryuji wants to say, but Akira knows that the words won’t leave his lips. They’re both too vulnerable and too hot right now to try and bring down the mood, so Ryuji opts to just try and kiss him again, squeezing his hand when his leg goes rigid.

Akira pulls back with a smirk and asks loudly, “How come you like me so much, huh?”

And if Ryuji wasn’t beet-fucking-red already, he sure as hell is now. “Shaddup,” he barks, his voice cracking— he still lacks anger or conviction, only trying to hide his perceived weakness. He pulls his sweaty palm away from Akira’s, gets his hand off his dick— damnit— reaches down to Akira’s thigh and hitches it up onto his hip, keeping them so fucking close to each other, making Akira’s mind swim at the thought of how Ryuji must feel in those godforsaken skinny jeans right now.

He keeps his hands gripped on Akira’s shoulders, and he leans down so close that their foreheads touch before snapping his hips up against him— he immediately jolts up, and his name is drawn obnoxiously from his throat, “Ryuji—”

“Okay okay okay I’m gonna need you to be actually quiet right now,” He hurries a whisper, “‘Cause the people in this building can literally hear everythin’. I screamed when Barcelona won in overtime against Paris Saint-Germain a couple weeks back, n' a lady four doors down called the effin’ cops.”

Akira can’t even find it in him to laugh, it feels so fucking good— he simply nods lazily and swallows, clutches at the back of Ryuji’s t-shirt, the fabric worn and soft. Ryuji starts to work into a rhythm, and Akira is gone, holding tight with his leg, his eyes half-lidded and his neck almost completely limp on the crushed pillow. His pulse races, sweat collects in his hair, his turtleneck and his stupid fucking uniform pants become the eighth circle of hell. He gasps his name again and again, stifling moans and trying to make his panting sound less pathetic, less desperate for it.

And the funniest part is that Ryuji doesn’t even seem to notice at all. Ryuji is just going about business as usual, gnawing at his neck to no avail, kissing a path up to his ear and making him swoon like an idiot, grinding against him with quick, even thrusts that practically kill Akira until he’s white-hot, gulping for air like he’s drowning, twisting his shirt in his fingers like it’s the one thing keeping him sane— it isn't at all like when he was with Ann, when she was sweet and warm and heavy in his arms and time moved slow as dripping honey— this is awkward and frenzied and satisfying as all hell, and Akira doesn’t even know what the fuck this is, what he should be doing, what he should say—

“Ryuji, don’t stop, don’t stop—”

“I’m not effin’ stoppin’, calm down, man.”

“Please, please, oh my g—” His voice breaks low when he angles just right, and Ryuji decides to fucking slow down.

“Oh, crap, am I hurting you?”

“No, shit, Ryuji, you're not, you’re, please just keep going, please just keep fucking going I can’t—”

Ryuji nonchalantly huffs, “Hey, can we switch over soon? I’m gettin’ kinda tired,” and that’s when Akira comes so fucking hard that his inner thigh cramps up and it hurts, he pulls at his shirt until he thinks it’ll rip, he bites down on Ryuji’s shoulder and groans loud enough to wake the entire goddamn complex. His feet go numb and his legs go stiff, and for a split second, his vision flickers out.

And then the world comes crashing back down onto him, and he has to spit out Ryuji’s shirt before he can gasp for breath, falling flat on the couch like the wind’s been knocked out of him. When he relaxes his legs, there’s a sharp pain in his cramped thigh. He doesn’t even want to think about how gross this is all going to be.

“Ow,” Ryuji chuckles, rubbing his shoulder and slowing to a stop. His expression goes blank, inspecting Akira as if he has no idea what’s going on. Then, he asks quietly and hesitantly, as if afraid of being impolite: “Did you… did you just get off?”

“Yeah,” Akira replies, sweeping his sweaty hair back, tugging and rolling down the stuffy neck of his sweater and laughing at himself to keep from imploding from embarrassment. He’s exhausted.

Ryuji’s eyes go wide. “Whoa, holy fuck. You just. Oh my god, that’s kinda. W— oh, shit,” he flinches and jolts up and his weight suddenly leaves him, hopping over to the side table and grabbing a box of tissues, handing it to him, “Here, dude, I’m sorry, that’s— I-I have clothes you could borrow for when we go out, we’re probably around the same size, right? Crap, I’m really s—”

“Hey, calm down, bro,” he slurs, sitting up against the armrest, unzipping his fly, taking a wad of tissues and attempting to clean himself off before he gets any awful stains on his slacks. “Don’t worry about it.”

Ryuji looks like he wants to say something, but he doesn't. He sits up on the couch, rubs the back of his neck and catches his breath. “... Jesus,” he says, then presses his hot face into his hands, hunches over. “What the shit.”

“What?”

He wheezes into his hands, “I just got a guy off. I just got my best friend off. God, I don’t even fuckin’. God.”

“Did, uh…” Akira zips his slacks, bunches up the used tissues and lets them fall to the floor, hoping he’ll remember to throw them away later. He cuts himself off as he pulls his turtleneck over his head, discarding it just as quickly, leaving him in just his undershirt. “Did you?”

“Did— oh, uh, no,” he straightens his back and crosses his legs, “I didn’t, but, um. I don’t mind though. I-I really don’t care.”

“I care,” he replies softly. The nervous energy from earlier starts to buzz in his ears again. Ryuji blinks, swallows, starts to move closer again, but Akira meets him halfway before he can lay down, straddling his lap and pulling his arms around his neck. “Is this okay?”

There’s a pause there where the two of them sort of stare at each other, heavy with disbelief of what’s just happened. It takes him a while to comprehend the fact that they’d apparently gotten so comfortable in so little time that Akira had just thrown himself into Ryuji’s lap without even thinking.

“... Well, fuck,” says Ryuji, and that just about sums up their feelings on the issue. "I don't think I can 'no homo' my way out of this one, dude, this is, holy shit."

Akira just kisses him bluntly, relishes in the feeling of his bare arms against Ryuji’s skin, feels so much closer than he did before. Ryuji’s hand sweeps gently through Akira’s hair, pushing it behind his ears again and again. “I— I feel like this’s a bad time to say this,” he rasps, “but I’m just really glad we’re friends. Honestly.”

“Feel like now’s the perfect time to say that,” Akira snickers, swiftly takes down his arms and starts working at Ryuji’s belt— Ryuji immediately freezes up, his shoulders raising defensively and his breath seizing, obviously taken aback. He unbuckles it, pulling the taut zipper of his jeans, and he sees Ryuji’s hands clench at the couch cushions, hears him curse under his breath again and again and again.

And then Akira has Ryuji’s cock in his hand, and everything starts to get surreal and slow again. He’s hot and thick and wet at the tip, so hard he’s throbbing, and Akira marvels for a second at the trail of black hair that leads up the hem of his shirt—

“Don’t fuckin’ stare, oh my god,” Ryuji hisses, “I’m having twenty heart attacks right now holy shit you gotta stop starin’ so much jesus christ.”

“Sorry,” he breathes, moves to sit further up on Ryuji’s thighs and starts to stroke him gently, mesmerized by how alike and how different it feels compared to when he’s doing this to himself. “It’s just that I kind of thought you were a natural blonde.”

Ryuji tilts his head. “Wh— really? You thought so? What the hell? My parents ain’t even American or anythin', why would I be—”

“You just do a really good job of dyeing it, then,” he suggests, “Like, you can never even tell with the roots, it just, it looks like it’s supposed to be that color.”

God, does Ryuji’s face get red. He keeps biting at his lip and looking to the ceiling and walls, anything better than looking down or making eye-contact. He exhales roughly, puts a gentle hand on Akira’s lower back and pulls him closer, leaning in to whisper: “I-I get it. Why girls like you, I get it. I don't mean that I— hey, I ain’t, y’know— but I understand why girls like you.”

“Yeah?” Akira almost laughs at the fact that Ryuji feels the need to clarify that he’s not gay while Akira is literally jerking him off. “And why’s that, huh?” He asks softly, grips a little tighter, feels him tremor and pull him even closer.

“You’re stylish as shit, first off… I mean, like, the cool hair, and the, the fake-ass fuckin’ glasses. The kinda douchebag-hipster look that people are goin’ for nowadays, y’know?” he snorts, but then his eyes snap shut and his fingers grip at him through his undershirt and any trace of humor disappears. “You look— you look pretty. And guys ain’t pretty, mostly, but you are, and it fucks me up and I fuckin’ hate it. Your bigass eyelashes, I mean, what the fuck is that about? When your eyes are all sparkly and cool and shit? What the hell is that? I don't— I don’t, I don’t even fuckin’ think about that kind of stuff, ever,” he backtracks, “I ain’t, I wouldn't ever think about that shit I swear I’m just—”

“It’s okay,” Akira says, gets his other hand on the side of Ryuji’s arm and squeezes it reassuringly. He feels like his face is about to burst into flame, and he attempts in vain to keep himself from grinning. He ups his pace, stroking him quicker, and Ryuji shudders and kicks a leg out until it almost hits the coffee table. “C’mon, dude, don’t worry.”

“A-and girls like you ‘cause you're, like, good to talk to, too. How you're calm enough that you don't turn people off but you’re friendly enough so that they feel… I dunno, safe? I dunno. I don’t fuckin’ know. I just li— I just bet girls like you ‘cause you’re a good listener, y’know? It’s like you really care— fuck, I swear to God, I swear to God Akira, Akira, shit Akira I fucking swear—”

Ryuji clasps his hand over his mouth in an instant and comes completely silently, eyes clenched shut, brows drawn together in bliss. He doesn’t even breathe when it happens, just stretches up straight on the couch and bucks his hips up a little, clear-white over Akira’s palm in strands. He sighs massively when it’s over, slumps down as if he’s lost every bone in his body, and Akira’s just staring numbly at his hand, his mind racing with a million things to say, none of them remotely fitting for the situation.

“... You weren't kidding about not making any noise,” he decides on, to which Ryuji just chuckles tiredly, his breathing labored.

“Six years of jackin’ it in this shitty-ass apartment. Had to learn how to be quiet sometime, am I right?” He pauses, frowns at himself. “Wow, that was s’posed to be funny, but that’s. That’s actually kinda sad. Damn.”

There’s a pause there, Ryuji laying still and catching his breath, Akira still staring at his hand. Ryuji must’ve put it together at some point, because he yells, “Fuck!” and starts to frantically fix the front of his jeans, pointing towards the hall with his other hand. “The bathroom’s the second door on the— wait, shit, the sink’s not working in the bathroom— the kitchen sink works, and, uh, I have boxers you could wear? Y-your pants look fine, but there’s no way that shit’s gonna be okay to go out in, so—”

“Thank you,” Akira nods, carefully pushes up off of him and walks over to the weird kitchen, sees Ryuji’s figure blink over to the short hallway with a mad dash of footsteps over tile. He turns on the faucet with his clean hand and rinses both of them, uses soap with the same fake cinnamon-apple scent as everything else in this house. He turns off the faucet and dries his hands off on his slacks. He actually can’t decide what he’s feeling, although it seems kind of like an odd guilt. His heart’s still hammering.

“C’mere,” calls Ryuji’s voice from the other side of the house, and Akira follows it, sliding open a door on the right side of the hall.

Seeing Ryuji’s room actually makes Akira jump back a solid foot. It's absolutely chaotic. There’s clothes everywhere, over desks and chairs and strewn across the floor like carpeting. There’s even more clothes and textbooks and things like random coins and shopping bags and tangled headphones on his bed, so much stuff that he can't even see the mattress. At least a dozen track medals hang from his bedpost. Although it looks like hell, it actually smells pretty nice, like clean linen and shampoo. Gray light lets in through the half-closed curtains, and he hears the rain continue to pour outside, that one dog still barking. Ryuji digs through a dresser on the side of the room, casually discarding clothes over his shoulder as he searches, piling up even more on the floor.

To break the uneasy silence, Akira clears his throat and asks: “Damn, bitch, you live like this?”

Ryuji immediately puts his hands down on the dresser and starts wheezing with laughter, maybe out of surprise or maybe because of the actual stupid joke— either way, it’s a huge relief to have it all feel back to normal for a second. He turns and looks at him, hands him a pair of clean maroon boxers. “It’s a hellhole in here,” he says, laughing and nodding. “I don’t even have any excuses, I’m just lazy.”

Akira takes them, sits down on the side of the cluttered bed and starts to change out of his pants, and Ryuji promptly turns his back as if to preserve any scrap of modesty the two have left. “... Hey, Akira?”

“Yeah?” He pulls off the legs of his slacks, careful not to take his socks off with them, consciously changing out of his briefs and balling them up in his hand before putting on the borrowed boxers. It’s definitely more comfortable.

“I really… Well, first I just wanna say that I'm a hundred-percent cool with whatever you are. Whatever you’re into, I guess, that’s fine, but I’m— well. I thought I was straight ‘till a half hour ago, so I’m kinda feelin' real fucked up right now. I— I don't want anybody to know about this, okay? Nobody can know.”

And Akira was sort of expecting this, but his heart still sinks in his chest. “Yeah—”

“I-it's just that, like, I’m cool with it, but there are a tonna people who ain’t, n’— the guys from the track team are always lookin’ for excuses to give me hell, y’know? So if this got out— and then people’d come after you, you’re already at risk ‘cause you're the new kid, a-and if somethin' bad happened to you ‘cause of me?” His voice raises, and he scratches the back of his neck, slumps forward a little. “God, I dunno what I’d do. Kill myself or somethin’, prolly.”

“You didn’t do anything,” Akira says, picks his slacks back up and puts on one leg, then the other. “I totally get it.”

“Are you…” Ryuji glances at him for an instant, then keeps his back to him even when he’s completely decent. “You sure you still wanna go get dinner? I get it if you wanna bail, now, I mean. I really fucked up. God, I'm fuckin' stupid, huh? I really fucked up,” and it’s even more upsetting to hear him swear like that now.

“You didn't even do anything, though, man, I was the one who kissed you—”

“But I was the one who fuckin’—” He cuts himself off, slams a fist down hard and falls silent. A few coins roll off the dresser and hit the floor. 

The rain seems to grow louder outside. Akira sits uneasily on the side of the bed, holding his shoulders; in just his undershirt, the apartment is much too cold. He wishes he had his sweater back on. He attempts to nudge some clothes and new-looking books aside, makes a space where he can feel the mattress underneath when he lays down.

“Hey,” Ryuji says softly out of the quiet, turning to face him. He’s smiling a little, looking down at the floor. “Wanna know somethin’ else kinda funny n’ kinda sad?”

“What?”

“That was the first hug I’d gotten in, like, six months, so.” He barely laughs, nudges some clothes around with his foot.

“...Oh,” Akira replies, sitting up almost involuntarily. He rolls up to his feet, steps over the mess and wraps his arms around Ryuji, holding tight around his waist and not letting go.

Ryuji’s breath catches, but he chuckles after, saying, “Dude, c’mon, I… I don’t need you to feel bad for me, I just…” And then Akira starts to lead them back to the cluttered bed, back to the cleared-out spot to lay down there. He can tell Ryuji’s confused, but there aren't any words exchanged after that. They don’t even look at each other.

At some point, Ryuji hugs Akira back, and they're close as can be. They stay that way until dark.