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third time's a charm

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there's, honestly, two main responses you expect when you confess to someone.

first of all, the one you expect the most, is to get your ass straight up rejected. you dont know how, exactly. but you imagine everything from a gentle sorry..you're not my type... to them straight up being disgusted by you.

and then, some part of you, more hopeful, imagines them saying yes. there's thoughts of sealing the deal with a kiss. maybe you get a little too hopeful and start thinking about the two of you dating. it's corny.

akira...honestly doesn't know what this is.

he liked ryuji. everyone knew that. everyone but ryuji. 

so he decides to confess, because obviously by actions alone, ryuji's not getting it. akira doesn't think he's stupid. he maybe doesn't want to acknowledge it.

akira is a man of little words. sometimes it's hard to talk. surprisingly, it's not too hard today, but it's hard enough that he just manages to say a simple "i like you." maybe that's enough. he really shouldn't sugarcoat it, or ryuji will try to dance around it.

"yea, i know." ryujis giving him a kinda clueless looking smile, like he doesn't know what he means at all. "we're best friends. ya gotta at least tolerate me for that."

"i like you." he tries again. "like...like like." 

that's a stupid fucking way to put it. but it gets the point across, because ryuji's going red at an alarming rate.

"f-for real?!" akira cant really tell by voice alone exactly how ryuji feels about this information other than reallt, really surprised. "like, you sure? me?"
 
"no, sorry. i thought you were makoto," akira quips, because it's a silly question. he's been thinking nonstop of nobody but ryuji for the past few days. or, well, months. so yea, of course it's him. "i'm absolutely sure." 

"dude," is all ryuji says in response. akira still cant completely tell how he feels about this development.

he honestly can't. because so far, ryuji doesn't seem disgusted (is that a good sign?) or anything, just...surprised. that doesn't give akira something to go on. he can't tell if he stands a chance or what.

ryuji rubs the back of his neck nervously. his face is red, and akira is suddenly aware that his own might be too. "so. uh. what now?"

"what do you mean?" 

"i ain't never been confessed to before," he admits, going even redder. "i ain't really sure what comes next."

is this...ryuji saying he likes him back? because that's what akira's getting and he's not sure if he can trust his own judgment, because right now all he wants is for ryuji to like him back.

"i don't know. you tell me if you like me too, i guess," akira hopes he  sounds as nonchalant as possible, because he feels the most nervous he has in a while. "i'm pretty much asking you to be my boyfriend."

"that's great," ryuji says, a little breathlessly, and then after clearing his throat, quickly adds, "i mean. it would be if i, uh, swung that way."

akira feels every bit of his ability to speak drain out of him in that moment, but he forces out a simple "yeah?" that he hopes doesn't sound too shaky.

"like for real dude, i'm flattered," ryuji says, "i really like you, if i swung that way, i would've totally said yes, y'know?"

does...that mean he likes him?

ryuji is usually an open book. but right now, akira has no idea what ryuji really feels.

he decides to respect ryujis wishes either way. ryuji says he doesn't swing that way, then he's been dumped. it's like that sometimes.

"oh, sorry. i hope i didn't make things weird with us."

"nah dude! it's chill! you ain't gettin' rid of me that easy!"

akira smiles. if one thing, he's at least glad that he can still be friends with ryuji. he doesn't know what he would've done if he couldn't. sure, it's gonna hurt being just friends with the guy he likes, but he's been doing it for months.

"i wouldn't try to get rid of you, man," he finds himself saying, "i like you, remember?"

ryuji blushes, but laughs loudly, and akira feels something in his chest. a bittersweet feeling.

--

ann wakes up at 2 am because her phone , brighter than the sun itself, lights up her room.

9 notifications.

this better be shiho, she thinks, or it's not even worth it.

akira: I confessed
akira: I dont even know what went down?
akira: Sorry for waiting til 2am to text but I've been trying to process this like all evening.
akira: He turned me down?? By saying he would date me??
akira: HE WAS LIKE. Oh Thats great, I'd date you if i were gay. AND I'M JUST LIKE. h

ann is about to answer him when one new message comes on from ryuji, and she accidentally clicks it open while trying to swipe it away.

ryuji: did u kno akira liked me cuz i fuckinh didnt
ryuji: ann i was FRAKING OUT and im pretty sure i said someDUMB Shit
ryuji: I TURNED HIM DOWN BUT i kee thinking abt it and i cant sleep i dont knlw how to feel 
ryuji: i told him id date him if i wrre gay but im thinkin abt it n im like. id date him even tho im not n i regret saying no  
ryuji: ann am i gay

it is, one hundred percent, definitely, absolutely, too early for this.

ann is aware that the read receipts are there, and they can see she sees this, but this is a situation that needs her to be awake, and she's not right now.

she goes back to sleep. she'll deal with this in the morning.

--

ryuji and ann have known each other for a while. haven't been super close until recently, but, hey.

ryuji has to thank all his lucky stars for ann. if someone texted him at 2 fucking am, he would have absolutely been annoyed. 

but she answers back--sure, she answered back at 10am instead of immediately--and decides to help out. what a great friend.

so now he's here at her favourite crepe place, waiting for her since those were the arrangements. meet up together for lunch so they can talk. the meetup point is the crepe place so she can get crepes before heading to the diner. apparently she needs something sweet if she's going to deal with this.

ryuji is still reeling from akira's confession.

one, because he's never been confessed to before. he tries not to dwell on that because it makes him feel a little pathetic.

two, because it's akira. he doesn't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

three, because he's sure he's made a complete and utter fool of himself with everything he said that day.

and four, because he's been thinking nonstop about that whole encounter. about akira.

his best friend likes him. that's a whole lot to take in. and, if going by anything Ann's texts said, has liked him for a while.

he turned him down. in a dumb way. "i'd date you if i swung that way." he had just kinda blurted it, because he was nervous, and he tends to do that when he's nervous. but it's not a wrong statement, if...just if...he were gay, he'd date akira.


he had told akira that the confession wouldn't make things weird between them. but he's not sure about that. he doesn't want their friendship to end, but he feels weird about something. he doesn't know what.

"hey! sorry I'm late!" he's jolted out of his thoughts by Ann's voice. again, thank god for ann.

"it's chill. i ain't been here long." he's lying. he's been here 15 minutes. he wants to talk to her that bad.

"i might scrap that diner thing. i just really want a crepe." ann says. she's looking past him and on the crepe displays, like she's in no hurry to do this. "they've got a place to sit, so we can just talk here. you want anything?" 

"you buyin'?" ryuji's dying to start talking, but he's not gonna pass up free food. "i didn't really walk with much cash."

"nope. you can get free crepes when you sort things out with your boyfriend." 

ryuji feels his face heat up, but he doesn't say anything.

ann hasn't even taken a bite from her crepe, but the minute they sit down, ryuji blurts out the thing that's been on his mind.

"am i gay?"

"yea." ann says, taking a bite from her crepe. she says it like she's answering the stupidest fucking question she's ever heard.

"for real?!"

"oh my gosh. i don't know. i can't tell you that." ann takes another bite. "what do you think i am? a gay doctor? do you think i just go around diagnosing people as gay?"

"i mean, you're gay," ryuji knows he's saying something stupid, because of course ann isn't gonna just be able to tell him if he's gay, regardless of whether she's gay or not. 

but sometimes you just gotta say some dumb shit.

"ryuji, i can't tell you if you're gay. that's something you gotta figure out yourself."

he knows that. he does. but he's been trying not to think about it. and now he has to, and he's confused.

"how'd you figure out you were gay?"

ann finishes the last of her crepe, and ryuji cant help but marvel at how fast she finished that thing. "shiho." is all she says.

"you're gonna hafta elaborate."

"that's the short version. shiho. i just wanted to be with her all the time, and she was all i ever thought about. i called her my girlfriend in my head." ann smiles, "and at first i was trying to figure out why. i thought, this is advanced friendship. then i was like, holy shit, i'm gay."

"and that's it?"

"after we got together, i started realizing that, like, i was never straight to begin with," ann says, "i mean like, my gay ass was obsessed with girl villains as a kid. that was probably a sign. plus, have you seen makoto and haru?"

ryuji must've probably looked notably confused, because ann sighs. she crumples up the crepe paper in her hand. "do you like akira?" she asks. its a simple question. 

"yea." ryuji answers quietly, but he leaves it at that. 

"like, the way he likes you, or?" 

"i dunno!" ryuji says it louder than he'd have liked to, but hes frustrated. it's confusing. he doesn't feel like he's getting anywhere. "i'm not gay. i don't know. girls are still cute, but, i just,"

"you can like girls and boys." 

"i don't know. i need to think."

"i'm gonna get another crepe," ann says, getting up from her seat, "you want one? i'll get it for you this time."

ryuji nods. something sweet doesn't sound too bad.

--

akira: Hey. Shit won't be weird between us right?
ryuji: nah dude. were good
akira: Oh thank god
akira: I was wondering who else i was gonna send these photos of me stacking stuff on Morgana to
ryuji: oh hell no u kno u cant send those to anybody but me
ryuji: wait. doesnt he read ur txts?

"you stack stuff on me?" morgana waves his tail, annoyed. 

"no." yes. theres so many pictures in his phone of things stacked on morgana that hes been kicked from the group chat for sending too many in a row. but morgana doesn't have to know.  

"anyway," morgana says, and akira can just hear the eye roll in his voice, "you know it's gonna get weird right? this is ryuji."

"it might not." akiras still hopeful it won't. he doesn't want to end up not being friends with ryuji anymore over this. "we'll just keep being friends like normal."

"and he knows you like him?" 

"yup." akira pops the p. he's been trying to pretend he had never confessed so things will feel normal again, and having morgana remind him is no help.

"can you really handle being just friends with the guy you like?" morgana licks his paw while saying it. 

"been doing that for months now." akira says, "can't hurt anymore than it did before, right?"

--

this feels weird.

it's not, really, it's a normal thing for them. they're just hanging out in akira's room, reading manga ryuji brought over. they do that all the time.

the conversation isn't awkward at all. they're discussing which characters are stupid and which are written well. ryuji goes off on a tangent about how much that one villain's redemption arc sucked.
akira's listening, because akira's the only one who listens to him when he gets like this. but it feels weird. akira's looking at him with this soft look that makes him feel weird. has akira's eyes always been this pretty?

ryuji stops mid sentence because akira's look is too much. his ears feel hot, and he hopes to god he's not blushing too noticeably. 

akira doesn't notice. or pretends not to notice at least. he just asks ryuji to recommend his favourite arc so he can check it out, and once again ryuji's on a roll.

just. don't think too much about it.

"i like this guy," akira says suddenly, pointing to one of the villains in ryuji's manga. ryuji has to admit, that's a good choice, one of his own favourites.

"oh him? dude, he's the best!" ryuji says excitedly, peeking over at the manga to get a clearer look, "one of my favourites. you got good taste."

akira fixes his glasses, and ryuji briefly wonders how he manages to do that without looking geeky. "i think he's hot."

"i mean, duh," ryuji says, rolling his eyes. anyone with eyes can see that.

"no joke. he can take me on a nice date if he wants," akira says, kind of jokingly, "maybe more. he can conquer my world if he feels like it, if you know what i mean."

ryuji feigns being hurt, placing a hand to his chest dramatically, "aw dude! what about me? ya sure got over me quick."

"you did turn me down." akira says simply. he turns the page away from the guy they're discussing.

there's a small silence. ryuji feels bad, and he's not sure what to say. then akira starts laughing, and ryuji follows too.  

it's only weird if you make it weird. that's what ryuji decides. that's what ryuji repeats to himself, over and over.

it's only weird if you make it weird.

and he's making it weird.

he is. ryuji is a touchy feely person. he's been for sometime, and he especially is when he's with akira. putting an arm around his shoulder, bumping hands when they walk, leaning on him dramatically when he's tired. he's never put much thought into it before.

but now he is. because he's trying his absolute best not to touch akira right now. 

every so often, they reach for the same manga, and their hands touch, and ryuji is making it weird, because he keeps pulling his hand back super fast.

akira notices. everytime it happens, and ryuji draws back, akira raises an eyebrow. ryuji feels bad.

he groans loudly. he's frustrated. he just wants things to be normal, but he just...

"i'm sorry. i'm making it weird." 

"you're not," akira says, he's looking at him again, and ryuji cannot meet his eyes because he knows he's lying.

"i am. i'm sorry. i don't want it to be weird but," ryuji sighs, loudly, "i'm making it weird."

"it doesn't have to be weird."

ryuji knows that. he does. but...

"i know. but..i dunno man. shit feels weird for some reason." ryuji's trying his utmost hardest not to meet akira's eyes.

"is it because i like you?" akira asks. he sounds hurt. ryuji doesn't like that. ryuji doesn't want to hurt him. "do...you have a problem with me liking guys? liking you?"

that's not it. honestly, since akira confessed, he hadn't even thought about the fact that it meant that akira liked guys. because, well, he'd been too busy thinking about whether or not him wishing he'd said yes meant he liked guys.

"that's not the problem, dude. i like you way too much to care." 

"then what's the problem?" akira is looking directly at him, ryuji can feel it. but he still won't look. "ryuji, i don't want to make you uncomfortable."

"the problem is i wish i had said yes," ryuji blurts out. 

akira is quiet. ryuji feels like he's made it weird again. but he can't stop himself from talking, and he just keeps going.

"i wanna be with you all the time, man. i dunno. i said i'd date you if i were gay, but" ryuji takes a deep breath, "i wanna date you even though i'm not. or maybe i am. does that make me gay?"

"this is confusing. i...like you akira, i do," 

ryuji wants this. he thinks. he's not sure. right now, all he really feels is weird, embarrassed, and really fucking scared.

"so be my boyfriend." akira says. he's looking at ryuji with those eyes that makes ryuji weak. "then it doesn't ever have to be weird."

he's being confessed to again. ryuji is getting a second chance to say yes. and akira is right, too. things wouldn't have to be weird if he was his, uh, boyfriend.

boyfriend.

that sounds nice.

boyfriend.

that's a scary word. 

all of a sudden, ryuji's scared again. yes is on the tip of his tongue, but now, all of a sudden, it's so hard to say it, even though he wants to. so badly.

because he's scared. of what people might think of him dating a guy. he's scared that he might be gay, too. and holy shit, his mom. what's his mom gonna think when she finds out her son's a f-

he can't let her down like that. he can't he can't he can't he can't.

and his dad. holy shit. if his dad were still around, he'd get the shit kicked out of him for this. 

ryuji feels like he can't breathe. he feels extremely light headed. was akira's room always this stuffy?

he can't

"i can't," ryuji mumbles a little breathlessly. he feels pathetic. he needs to get out of here.

"well," akira says, closing the manga, "if you change your mind, you know where to find me."

ryuji feels absolutely pathetic. he's sweaty, breathless, and akira's room is kind of spinning. fuck this. fuck this.

akira gets up. ryuji can't make himself look at him, because he doesn't want to see what the look on his face is right now.

"wanna play star forneus?" from the sound of his voice, ryuji can tell akira is trying to bring things back to normal.

ryuji made things weird.

--

akira: Ann. I would like you to come to my house
ann: you wanna talk? what happened?
akira: I would likw you to xome to my house and beat the shit our lf me
akira: I'm upsatrs lying in bed so sjut let yurslef in
ann: akira, are you crytyping?
ann: oh my gosh. what happened? 
akira: No. Morgana is sitting on my chesr and its harf to type.

"don't lie about that!" morgana hisses, swishing his tail indignantly. it hits akira in the mouth.

"maybe don't lie on my chest then." akira sputters, trying to get some cat hair off his tongue. morgana moves his tail one last time, getting more hair in akira's mouth, then hops off his chest and walks off.

akira: Well. Me and Ryuji talked.
ann: and????
akira: And please come to my house and either hug or kill me instantly.
ann: what did ryuji do!!!!! 

akira: He didn't do anything wrong.
akira: He's just confused. But i still feel like shit. 

he didn't do anything wrong. ryuji's confused, and has every right to be. questioning your sexuality is never fun. akira knows, because he's been there.

but akira still feels like complete and utter shit. he's been rejected twice by the guy he likes, and it's obvious that things are just getting weirder and weirder between them.

akira doesn't want that. akira just wants him to be happy, mostly. he'd give anything to see that famous ryuji smile™. that thing lights up rooms faster than any lightbulb could.

and truth be told, if this whole thing ends in him and ryuji not being friends anymore, then he's gonna be really upset. he should've just kept his mouth shut. should've never confessed to begin with.

ryuji's the best thing to ever happen to him since coming here. he doesn't want to lose him.

his phone lights up.

ann: ohh hold up i just got a text from ryuji.
ann: i'll talk to him okay?

--

ryuji: ann i am having a ducking panic attck
ryuji: ive bee on like twenty different sites talming abt sexuality and im gonna COMBUST 
ryuji: ann pls diagnoseme with gay
ann: ur gay.
ryuji: i am
ryuji: bi actually
ryuji: but im fuckinh freakin out abt it. im deadass havin a panic attack

he is. or was. it's kinda stopping now. 

but boy does he feel fucking stupid for it. 

so, to recap, he likes akira, and now after doing his homework, he's realized that, yeah, he's not that straight. that feels weird to say, but he thinks it's true

akira confessed to him again. and that's where he starts to get pissed off at himself, because after specifically stating that yes, he'd want to date akira, he turned him down. again.

why? because he was scared. that pisses him off even further. realistically, he has every right to be scared, because if there's anything he knows, is that gay people aren't really well accepted.

and he's already considered kind of a reject of society. so there's that. 

so yea, it's no wonder he's scared.

he had just...kinda freaked out at the word "boyfriend".

but...he thinks that'd be nice. being, uh, boyfriends with akira. 

akira is just such a good thing in his life, and he doesn't want to lose him. he's at his happiest when he's with akira.


he's always smiling when he's with akira. and he thinks it's true for akira as well, because he's always smiling when they're together too.

he doesn't want to lose that.

ann: you okay?
ann: you left me on read.
ryuji: i didnt get a mssg frm u tho?
ann: oh fuck sorry.
ann: heck*
ryuji: nice f bomb
ann: shhh.
ann: but i just wanted you to know that no matter what we accept u.
ann: ur not alone, you know? we're all here for you and we love u no matter what.
ann: it's scary at first but it gets better.

thank god for ann.

thank god for all his friends.

ann's right, she is. he's scared shitless, yea, but he's got friends who will be there for him.

and how stupid of him was he to think his mom would hate him for this? she's been proud of him no matter what, even after the whole kamoshida incident.

he thinks he can say yes this time, if akira asks again.

but akira's not gonna ask again, because he already turned him down twice. so it's gonna be up to him. he's gonna have to ask.

that's scary...but...

he feels...strangely ready.

ryuji: thnks ann
ann: now, ryuji sakamoto, you useless bisexual, go get ur man
ryuji: already on it

this whole thing, though extremely exhausting, might've been necessary.

he sure wishes it had gone down a bit smoother, though.

ryuji: hey
ryuji: can we go get ramen tmrw
akira: Sure
ryuji: dont bring morgana
akira: He says he wouldn't wanna come anyway
akira: But yea, alright

--

ryuji's nervous. obviously so. he's been shaking his leg the whole time.

akira is trying to keep his cool. so far it's been like every other one of their ramen...uh...dates.

akira has barely touched his food. ryuji's bowl, however, is empty. seems not even the shit going on between them can keep ryuji from enjoying some ramen.

"'m sorry," ryuji mutters. it's so far under his breath that akira might've missed it.

"About what?" 

"y'know." ryuji shrugs, fidgeting with his empty bowl, "makin' shit weird."

"i made it weird in the first place." akira says. it's true. if he hadn't confessed, they would've probably been on less...awkward terms.

"dude, no. come on. it must've been hell havin' a crush on your bro and havin' to just suck it up and be friends."

akira doesn't argue. it was. he just mumbles, "yea."

it's quiet for a while. akira decides to take this time to pick at his half full ramen bowl. it's obvious that's not all ryuji has to say, because he's still shaking his leg like crazy. so he's nervous.

ryuji says, "i like you." 

akira, always having to pull ryujis leg in someway, says, "yea, i know. we're best friends after all."

ryuji stops talking for a while, but akira can tell he's caught on to what akira's doing. ryuji says, "like, like like."

akira's got a mischevious smile on his face now. he says, playfully, "you sure? me?"

"dude! yeah, you!" ryuji says, loud. he  catches himself in time, and says, much quieter, "i been thinkin' about you the past few days. so yeah." 

akira smiles. there's no way he's letting this up so quickly. "so, what now?" he says.

"dude! come on! i'm askin' you to be my b-" ryuji stops mid sentence, realizing he's doing that thing again where he talks way too loud, "my boyfriend."

ryuji's face is beet red. akira can feel his face get hot, too, but he doesn't stop himself from saying, "that's great. i'd say yes, if i swung that way."

ryuji groans audibly, and puts his face in his hands. "dude! come on!"

akira laughs, and reaches for one of ryuji's hands, forcing him to look up. "good thing i do swing that way."

ryuji looks so cute right now, all flustered like this, and akira swears he's never been more happy in his life.

"so, uh, what now?" 

"we're boyfriends, i guess."

ryuji flushes at the word. boyfriends.

that...doesn't sound too bad.

"i'd kiss you, but we're inside a public eating place," akira says. he's still holding ryuji's hand. he should probably let go, but doesn't want to. "i doubt these people would want to see two teenagers sucking faces while they're eating."

"maaaan," ryuji whines, "don't make it weird."

"weird's good sometimes, you know."

ryuji smiles. maybe he's right. it's akira after all. he's as weird as it gets.

"you wanna get out of here and go to my place?" akira suggests, finally letting go of ryuji's hand, "we could do some now-totally-not-weird boyfriend stuff. like, yknow, kissing."

ryuji's breath hitches in his throat for some reason, and he sounds absolutely pathetic when his voice cracks as he says , "yeah, sounds great."

he's probably gonna have to do laps around his apartment building after this.

--
ryuji: i got myself a man
ryuji: that sounds so fucking embarrassing how do i delete a mssg
ann: congratulations ryuji sakamoto, resident bisexual.
ryuji: thnx
ryuji: im gonna hafta get used to hearing that word
ann: ok ryuji sakamoto, resident bicycle.
ryuji: can u pls stfu 

--

akira: He confessed
akira: We just made out with x files playing in the bg
ann: its like that sometime