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Reaching Out, Reaching In

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“Thanks for listenin’ to me, Ren. See ya!”

Ren stared at the screen of his phone telling him that Ryuji had hung up, confused. What the hell? That was it??? “Once we change Shido’s heart…” … then what?! Ryuji had sounded on the verge of confessing something really important, like hell he was neverminding this!!!

He stabbed the screen with his finger to speed dial Ryuji. Because of course, he has Ryuji Sakamoto’s number set in his speed dial.

For someone who had been in a hurry to hang up, Ryuji was very quick to pick up. The first ring wasn’t even done. “Hey man. Somethin’ wrong?”

Ryuji was giving a pretty good attempt at sounding casual. Too bad Ren knew exactly what a nervous but faking confidence Ryuji sounded like by now. “As a matter of fact, yeah, there is something wrong.” He heard muffled shuffling from Ryuji’s side. Probably Ryuji sitting up in bed, or getting out of bed to stand up, ready to run over.

“Shit man, what’s up???” The sudden speeding up of Ryuji’s heartbeat was almost audible.

“My best friend was gonna tell me something direly important but he chickened out and hung up instead. That’s what’s wrong.”

There was a loud groan from Ryuji’s side. He wasn’t even trying to hide it. The shuffling resumed, louder, telling Ren that Ryuji had returned to his bed, now that he knew that Ren was in no physical danger.

“Man, really…”

That whiny tone of Ryuji was really ugly. Especially now that Ren wanted none of it. “Ryuji,” he said, the period at the end almost audible.

“It’s nothing.”

Bullshit. “Ryuji.” Louder. Firmer.

“Look, it’s nothing, okay? I can tell you another time! Mona’s probably yellin’ at you to get you to go to sleep anyway!”

Ren gave Morgana a meaningful look. The not-cat left the futon area to go groom itself on the sofa. Ren then let out a heavy sigh into the phone’s microphone. He didn’t have time and wasn’t in the mood for this denial. "Ryuji. I just faked my own death. If our enemies spot me in the street I'm dead for real. If you don’t tell me now you might never be able to."

The silence stretched on. Tense. Uncomfortable. Ren could almost hear Ryuji's brain panic. It was reckless of him, to force the truth out of Ryuji. But the threat of death was very, very real. The interrogation, no, the torture he had been subjected to had only confirmed so. Every bruise, cut, and abrasion on his battered body was a reminder of that. If something were to happen... he did not want Ryuji to have regrets.

“I…”

Ren waited patiently. When the silence threatened to bury the conversation, Ren spoke up again, his voice soft. He hoped to coax Ryuji’s fears to sleep, if only long enough to let Ryuji get it off his chest. Whatever it was. Although Ren could hazard a good guess. “Go on…”

This seemed to help, as Ryuji managed to croak out “I… I love you, man. Like. Love love. After… after we change Shido’s heart, can… can we, like, go out? Just the two of us?”

The silence from Ryuji was nearly as tense as earlier as Ren closed his eyes and softly smiled to himself. Thank the gods, his guess about what Ryuji tried to tell him had been right.

"Come to the café tomorrow, man?"

On the other side of the line, Ryuji groaned. Hard to say if it was in relief or in annoyance. "So you can kick my ass?" Annoyance, then. Not that it stopped Ren, who was now grinning at the phone, even if it stretched his split lip.

"So I can give you the first of so many kisses."

The silence stretching over the cellular waves sounded very different from the one that had preceded Ryuji's confession. Right when Ren was starting to worry that he had made Ryuji’s brain bluescreen, Ryuji nervously cleared his throat, then spoke, a bit breathless.

"S-see you tomorrow then."