“Ryuji! What happened in here?” Ryuji yelped and jerked back out of his closet to meet his mother’s disapproving frown and raised eyebrows. He looked around the mess of his room, it did look like his closet and dresser had thrown up everywhere, then spat out the first thing to come to mind.
“When did you get back?”
“I’ve been calling your name. You didn’t hear me?” His mother crossed her arms over her chest and her eyebrows lifted higher.
Ryuji was, he was willing to admit, not always the most observant of guys, especially when he was excited about something. This was something all of his friends, now that he had some, could and would testify to. Especially when it came to blurting out certain things in public that, perhaps, he shouldn’t be blurting out considering there were a fair number of people not so impressed with what they were doing.
Which was bullshit. What exactly was the issue in getting people to change their hearts and confess to their crimes? If anything people should have looked at what they did with Kamoshida and were doing with Madrame and thanked them for taking care of two scumbags. Instead people had their panties all in a twist about the how and why, like it mattered. There were even people tossing around words like coercion and blackmail on the internet.
But that wasn’t the point. The point was that he could get stuck in his own little world, forget to pay attention to his surroundings, and he knew that. But he had never been so preoccupied that his mother had been able to sneak up on him in his room! He’d taught himself to listen to the sound of his door opening at all times roughly around the time he’d discovered masturbation and porn. He was, so far, going strong with the ‘never caught with his hands on his junk’ thing.
Lucky for him he’d just been getting dressed.
He rubbed at the back of his neck sheepishly “Ah, no. Sorry. Did you need something?”
“I wanted to tell you I was working another shift tonight. I’ll be in the ER.” She stepped deeper into the room, carefully picking over the strewn about clothes, to lean against his desk.
He shuffled closer, taking in the slump of her shoulders, the dark circles under her eyes, and the way her usually carefully pinned up bun had begun to come down. She was dressed in the same scrubs she’d left in under a black cardigan but now instead of her usual soft floral scent she smelled like the hospital; bleach and lemon and what Ryuji’s brain named as ‘pain and misery’. But, then, he didn’t exactly have the best history with the ER thanks to his father so maybe that was why the scent that always seemed to linger on his mother set his teeth on edge.
Or maybe it was just that she was there so often, working herself to the bone to cover the cost of everything his father had saddled them with when he left. Ryuji tried to not be much of a bother, and to get by with hoarding the money his grandparents sent on his birthday and New Years, but his mother insisted she wanted him to keep living like nothing had changed. He’d never had to worry before about money and she didn’t want him to now, was what she’d said when she’d started working.
“Okay.” He said, trying not to frown. If he frowned she would frown and he hated to see her do anything but smile on his behalf. “I, uh, cooked. Just chicken, rice, and miso soup but I can box it up for you to take with you, if you want.”
She smiled faintly, the tiredness on her face fading some, and straightened up. “I think I can handle it Ryuji. You need to clean this up. What- You look nice dear.”
He blinked at her then looked down at himself, feeling a blush spread over his cheeks. “D-do I?” He asked, like he hadn’t spent the last forty five minutes changing in and out of every clothing combination he could think of before settling on what he was wearing. It wasn’t anything special, he didn’t really have ‘special’ clothes; just black skinny jeans, red suspenders he’d let hang, a red tank top under a black tank top with a omega symbol done, graffiti style, in metallic red.
His mother wasn’t a fan of the shirt, because she ‘didn’t see the purpose in announcing he was an omega’ but he knew that was very much a thing that came with how she’d grown up, skirting around her dynamic and almost ashamed of it because of how people thought of omegas. Things were different now than they’d been when she’d been his age and even if they hadn’t been he wouldn’t have cared. Ryuji liked the surprise and confusion on people’s faces as they tried to reconcile the way he looked with his shirt. He liked defying all those unspoken expectations of how an omega should look and sound and act.
He took after his father in a lot of ways. The height and build, for starters, and a lot of his facial features; looking into a mirror was a lot like looking at the man. The temper. More of his personality than he wanted. He’d gotten next to nothing from his petite, delicate featured, soft spoken mother, aside from his dynamic.
His father had been pissed off from the moment Ryuji was born, angry that what he’d thought was a son had in fact been an omega.
“Why do you look nice?” His mother asked, an edge of suspicion to her tone. “Are you going outside?”
Ryuji opened his mouth then shut it, gaze dropping to the black sweatshirt spilling off the edge of his bed. His mother followed his gaze then, humming softly, leaned over and plucked it up. Ah fuck. This was about to get embarrassing. “Wait, don’t-”
Too late. Her nose twitched and her brows furrowed. “This belongs to an alpha. Ryuji-”
“Are you sleeping with an alpha’s shirt?” She didn’t look as outraged or grossed out as he’d been afraid of, at least but she didn’t look happy either. Concerned, mostly, and maybe a little bit amused if the slight upward quirk of her lips was anything to go by. She smoothed a hand over what he knew was distractingly soft fabric, expression softening. “Are you...seeing someone?”
“No! And no!” He waved his hands, as if to physically ward off the mortifying questions. “It’s Ren’s. From school. I’ve talked about him. He let me borrow it, because of the rain and- I was not sleeping with it!”
He’d only just gotten it today so, as nice as it smelled (really nice, like spice and coffee) he hadn’t even had a chance to do anything but drop it on his bed and look for something to wear. Not that he would have done anything with it! What kind of person did she think he was anyway, taking other people’s clothes and sleeping with them like some kind creepy, obsessed omega like in those ‘fatal attraction’ type movies. Next she’d be accusing him of chasing off other love interests.
...not that Ren had other love interests.
Not that Ryuji was a love interest!
“Don’t say weird stuff like that.” He grumbled, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I was going to call you about it but, yeah, I was going to go out, if that’s okay. Just to dinner and the aquarium but not how you’re thinking! I’m like...it’s a group date. That isn’t a date, really. For Akira-”
“The twin. You talk about them a lot.” She said, nodding and, wait, a lot? He hadn’t talked about them that much, had he? “I didn’t realize they were alphas.”
Ryuji shrugged. “It never came up.”
He hadn’t wanted to worry her and she would have worried if she’d known he was hanging out with two (three, if he counted Ann) alphas. She was wary of them, because of his father, and even more so when it came to Ryuji. He figured it related to how she’d gotten married and had him within months of graduating from high school and how everything had gone downhill from there. Not that she’d ever say that but Ryuji wasn’t so stupid he couldn’t see that she’d gone from promising student to pinned under his father’s thumb all because she’d gotten pregnant and mated way too early.
He knew she just didn’t want to see him make the same choices and end up in the same tough spot.
She tilted her head to the side, eyes dark and thoughtful, fingers twisting in the sweatshirt. “I see. You’d think- Well. A group date?”
“Sort of? Akira is taking out Yusuke, this other friend, but we’re doing a group thing, or whatever, to make it less weird for them. I’m just going for moral support and free food. Nothing for you to worry about.” He paused, twisting around to look at his alarm clock, and bit back swear. “I gotta go, actually, running late.”
“Parents are supposed to worry, you know.” She said softly, shaking her head. “I want you to bring your friends by soon, so I can see who is taking up all your time lately.”
Ryuji made a face. “M-om!”
She waved a hand dismissively, a ‘we’ll talk later but I’m going to win’ sign he knew well. “Do you need money?”
“ No .”
“And you’ll be back before ten?”
“Send a message when you get where you’re going?”
She squinted up at him then, with a sigh, nodded. “Go. Have fun. Be safe.”
He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Like he was going to go and do anything dangerous.
Today at least. No Palaces, no mementos, just hanging out.
He grabbed his wallet and, after a pause, stooped down to wrap his arms around his mother in a quick hug. She hugged him back, nearly tight enough to cut off his air, and dropped a kiss to his cheek. He made a face, drawing teasing laughter from her. The sound followed him out of the apartment; he couldn’t help but smile as well.
He was nearly at the train station when he realized he’d forgotten Ren’s sweatshirt.
Ren, Akira, and Yusuke were waiting outside of the aquarium for him, the twins listening intently to some story Yusuke was animatedly telling, complete with big sweeping waves of his arms and faces. Ryuji slowed from his jog, watching the other omega curiously. Ryuji hadn’t ever really been close to any other omegas, save his mother, because they always felt so different from how he was. Quieter, more thoughtful, more steady, more fitting that ‘ideal’ image that blended feminine and masculine things. Ryuji always felt too big, too loud, too rough when compared to others of his dynamic, too much the picture of his alpha father, to ever relate.
Omegas were supposed to be inclined to being friends, being more tactile and social than betas or alphas, but Ryuji had never felt that particular pull.
Yusuke was no exception to that. He was taller than Ryuji, but was willowy and almost delicate in a way, emotional but not in the loud and angry way Ryuji was, and he seemed so classy and refined, even graceful (unless he was falling on his ass) which were a lot of things Ryuji wasn’t. It was hard to see him and, for all that Ryuji had long since accepted being an omega in spite of (or to spite) his father, it chafed a little to have all the things he wasn’t in his face all the time.
Even now looking at him, with his long hair braided back and falling over his shoulder, wearing fitted black jeans and a violet top that fit close to his chest than billowed out under a cropped black jacket, wearing what looked like eye makeup with his lips tinted a darker shade of pink, made Ryuji itch. Yusuke could have come out in a dress, as male identifying omegas sometimes did, and no one would bat an eye.
If Ryuji did that people would think he was some kind of pervert.
It was no wonder Akira had pretty much lost his shit, as much as Akira could lose it, upon meeting Yusuke. He was what a lot of alphas were looking for when it came to male-identifying omegas.
Ryuji was what exactly no one was looking for.
“Ryuji.” Ren spotted him first and raised a hand in greeting, beckoning him closer. “You’re late.”
Ryuji offered up a sheepish smile. “Sorry about that. We didn’t miss that thing you all wanted to see, did we?”
“No,” Yusuke said. “The Night Dive starts at sundown, so we still have time, thankfully. One of my classmates is showing tonight and I would have felt badly if I missed her.”
“Right.” Ryuji shoved his hands into his pocket and looked down at his feet. “Wouldn’t want that. Let’s go then.”
This Night Dive thing was really his style, or at least he didn’t think it was. A bunch of local high school and college students were showing off their aquatic inspired art, some bands were set up at points throughout the aquarium playing music in different genres, there were fashion students showing off pieces done to the theme of ‘Night Dive’, there were going to be guided tours of all the weirdest sea life, and some fancy ‘high end’ food trucks were set up. Ryuji was most interested in the food, personally, but Yusuke was all about all the other junk.
And Akira was all about Yusuke so, under the guise of a group outing to let off some steam from all the Madrame junk, he’d suggested they all go. Ann had managed to get out of it so she could go to physical therapy with Shiho and Mona couldn’t come in at all, which left the four of them. Ryuji hadn’t been too sold on the idea but a quiet word from Ann about how Akira was trying to work up to asking Yusuke out on a proper date and needed pack support had gotten him on board.
Ryuji had never had a pack before but he took it seriously. If Akira needed someone to wingman and keep the pressure low he was all over it! It was what a good bro would do and Ryuji did strive to be a good bro. And getting to hang out with his friends was never a bad time.
Plus Ren had promised to cover his ticket and dinner.
Ren sidled up to his side and bumped their shoulders together as they shuffled forward to get into line. His hair fell forward, over his glassesless eyes, and Ryuji’s fingers twitched with a need to push it back so he could see those steely gray eyes easier. But, at the same time, he found himself grateful for the distraction from how intense Ren could be without his glasses on.
He looked...nice. Blue jeans, boots, a thin cream colored sweater that looked temptingly soft (stupid omega shit, making him want to rub his face over literally every remotely comfortable looking thing he saw, even when someone else was wearing it) that he could see the collar and top button of a dark blue button down under, and a black jacket. His hair was messy, falling in loose waves (a contrast to Akira who had his hair pushed and slicked back).
His scent was heavier than usual, bitter coffee, thick nose tingling spice, and just a touch of chocolate, but without any sugar or sweetness to it, wafting from him.
Ryuji’s shoulder tingled where he’d been bumped.
“Ready for me to take you on the best ‘friend’ date ever?” Ren asked, his voice, and mouth, dangerously close to Ryuji’s ear. He held up two tickets as he spoke, seemingly missing the way Ryuji had to swallow hard and leaned away just slightly before answering to the affirmative.
Right. Friend date. A group thing to help Akira out. Wingmanning it. Not getting all stupid and scent drunk over one of his best friends.
‘Keep it together,’ he scolded himself as Ren tossed an arm over his shoulders, an oddly...hands on action for him (Akira was more of a ‘toucher’ than Ren, and even then neither twin was really that much for physical contact) and steered him forward with the shuffling crowd. ‘Don’t get stupid.’