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Stuck In Pain

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The transition between spring and summer was definitely one of the most uncomfortable changes in the all of the seasons. The intense japanese humidity definitely didn’t help the blonde man in not feeling stick and gross. Ryuji Sakamoto was sluggishly moving towards the direction of his shared apartment with Akira. His muscles were sore and his whole body felt absolutely disgusting and he couldn’t wait till he could hop in the shower and wash off all the of the mugginess of the day. But first… he must battle the stairs. It sometimes really did suck to live on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex with no elevator. But hey, it’s not like the apartment itself sucked. It was actually terrible. Living in a campus ‘apartment’ creates its own paradox that both of the boys were still trying to figure out how to balance despite it being their second year. The paradox being that horny college students will throw parties and get laid in the very thin walls of the apartment complex and… that everyone was stressed with classes and trying to study and having violent reactions to any sound that dares intrude in concentration.

After trudging up the apartment steps and digging for his keys in his shorts Ryuji fumbled around before unlocking the apartment door where he would announce his return to the other presence that lived there “I’m back!” no response. Ryuji went to investigate Akira’s room. Akira was studying Criminal Justice and he’d sometimes have to watch legal-related videos and would resort to using noise-cancelling headphones, as to not be drawn out of the drawl he was absorbed in. Ryuji never got the appeal that law had, but it made Akira passionate, and thats all he really needed to pursue it for a degree. Standing outside of his roommates door Ryuji gave it a loud 2 tap before he let his voice travel ‘Hey man, I’m back’ he then opened the door partially before glancing inside. His guess was right. Akira was having an intense staring contest with his bulky headphones. Ryuji stepped in front of him, he couldn’t see what Akira was watching but as soon as he came into Akira’s peripheral vision Akira snapped his eyes to look at the blonde man before him and he blinked away… sorrow? Before he gleamed a gently smile at this friend and closed his laptop.
“Ah, welcome back Ryuji. Sorry, I was a bit preoccupied.” Akira explained as he moved his headphones down to rest down on his shoulders and began packing up the work that he had scattered on his bed. Another downside of living in this shithole? There wasn’t any real space for them to do their mountains of classwork. Well, more like Akira’s mountains of classwork.

“Don’t worry about it man, just wanted to make sure you were aware of presence before I slipped and crack my head open whenever I go take a bath.” Ryuji joked and Akira seemed to appreciate the sorta-self jab.

“Oh don’t worry about that, I’m pretty sure my ‘Ryuji did something stupid’ would’ve gone off before you had severe brain damage.” Akira joked back and Ryuji felt a flare of emotion rise in his chest and his cheeks that exhilarated him. Trying to brush it off quickly Ryuji just turned his head and avoided eye contact with him as much as possible “I just wanted you to know I was home so we can move over to the living room. I’m gonna go take a shower because I feel absolutely disgusting.” Ryuji wiped the sweat off of his to show that he was in fact.

Akira chuckled “Your mom all settled in her new place?”. Ryuji’s face immediately lit up ever to slightly whenever talking about his mom, and even with the exasperation of the springish-summer weather beating his mood to a pulp Ryuji responded with gentle mirth “Ma is super excited, it’s a safer place than our last place. I have to visit her over the weekend to help her set up some things but other then that all of her boxes are moved in. She even decided to keep my old elementary school items! Can you believe that!”.

Akira chuckled gently, “I bet she is cherishing the memory of you before you decided to be a hooligan with those blonde locks.” Akira emphasizes the feature by gentle shaking his fingers into Ryuji’s hair. Ryuji kept on bleaching his hair even after they graduated, much to the chagrin of… well almost everybody. “Well guess what Mr.Kurusu!” Ryuji gently slapped his friends away from his head. “You’d be wrong! Ma says she has grown to love it!”. Despite his short temper there always seemed to be two things that never failed to bring him a smile. His ma and of course… the very boy in front of him.

“Ah I forgot, you still go to her for your monthly dyeing and bonding sessions.” Akira teased, though Ryuji knows that Akira doesn’t say this in a condescending way, as they’ve had almost philosophical type of discussions about their home life and Akira has expressed how endearing and jealous he is of Ryuji’s relationship with his mother. “I’m still sorry that I couldn’t have helped out in the process.” Akira quickly added in before Ryuji quickly did his typical dude-bro shrug and waved off the apology.

“Don’t sweat it dude, Mishima seemed happy enough to get both attention and food as payment, so you’re all good Mister-Honor-Student.” Ryuji jabbed back gently and they both started to walk towards the tiny little main area of their apartment. The cramped apartment had the widest table that was propped in front of the TV. Akira set down the rest of his work on that said table and sat down on the pillow and turned on the television to a random show that the two have already seen before as a sort of white-noise.

“I’m gonna hop in the shower.” Ryuji mentions before heading to the back of the apartment and he just hears an affirming grunt from his roommate in acknowledgement. Stepping into the tiny bathroom, Ryuji turns on the shower and lets the water slowly heat up, he had to be quick because the showers in this complex were finicky and wouldn’t hesitate to straight up freeze an unsuspecting person with no mercy. Joys of living as a broke college student. It could be worse,though. The money that they made back in their Phantom Thieves day helped a ton with dorm costs and the team unanimously decided to split the money before officially moving on with their lives, however, Haru opted to just let her portion go to whatever expenses Morgana might have. That cat had very expensive sushi tastes afterall.

Ryuji quickly hopped into the shower once the water was at an acceptable temperature and immediately went to work, quickly shampooing and conditioning his hair before quickly hoping out as he felt that some sort of magical timer was set on the water as it was getting colder and colder as he lingered even though his time spent was already very short. Ryuji threw on some sweats and t-shirt after drying off and headed back towards the living room where Akira was still in depth looking at whatever boring drawl of law homework he was doing.

Ryuji only went to university as a part-time student, opting to work full-time and slowly working towards his degree in Physical Education in the evenings. Yeah, he can be considered being ‘behind’ then others but it’s what worked best for him. There was no way he could sit through 4-5 classes a semester doing intense study-work like Akira and Makoto were. Plus it helped put a dent in the loans he was going to have to pay off whenever he finally graduates. This allowed Ryuji more free-time then Akira so Ryuji volunteered most of the time to cook for the two. His mother wouldn’t let him live off of the typical teenager diet in his third year of high school and really made an effort to teach Ryuji how to cook for himself and others. These sessions really helped calm down the stress Ryuji had during the time regarding his future, and now two years later Ryuji finds it something that he can destress to. He still can’t hold a candle to Akira’s amazing ability to make coffee. Though Akira always seems perfect.

Ryuji made use of their small kitchenette and whipped up some instant ramen. Look, we can’t all always have time to put effort into every meal, and after lifting boxes and being drained by the sun and still having anatomy to study for, Ryuji couldn’t make time for something extravagant today. He waited for the water to boil and decided to go and loom over Akira for a little bit. “ ‘Kira.” Ryuji draped his arms over his friend’s shoulders, who didn’t even blinch of think at the action and just simply let out a simple grunt of affirmation. “ how on earth do you sit through this drabble.” Ryuji looked over the class work that Akira had laid out and his notes. God the fucking notes. It all sort of just blended together and created something worse then any shadow that they’ve ever faced in the metaverse. And this one was worse because Ryuji couldn’t beat the ever living shit out of it.

Akira laughed gently “I wonder that sometimes too, Ryuji.” Akira seemed so much more exhausted recently. Ryuji recalled the conversation that Makoto had with them a few months back about the upcoming semester. Being in the same degree program and being their senior, Makoto offered great insider information about the classes that Akira had to take very soon and he vaguely remembered her gestures of annoyance at the mention of whatever class was taking ahold of Akira’s current attention. Ryuji guessed that even for Makoto that that particular law class must’ve been a difficult drawl to go through.

Ryuji breathed in Akiras scent gently through his nose. Trying not to be too obvious Ryuji moved his head further away from his neck. Everytime Ryuji got tired he always accidently let his guard down a little bit more than he should. He prompted himself with the task of checking if the water has begun boiling as to distract himself any further from taking in Akira’s scent. Oh yeah the worst part about living in this apartment with him? Akira was just someone Ryuji longs for but cannot have at the same time. And those feelings tore at him in the most random of moment. Ryuji started at the water for a little longer before deciding ‘fuck it’ and putting the ramen into the pot as the water was doing the ‘slight bubbling but not quite boiling’ motion. As long as its soft in the end it should be fine.

After the not so terrifying battle of seasoning and draining the ramen and making two seperate bowls, Ryuji brought over the dinner to his roommate. But Akira wasn’t taking note of the smell… much less actually looking at the work he was intending on doing. No. The sight that fell before Ryuji was that of the black mop of hair sleeping with his arm cushioning his head as a pillow. Ryuji felt a flurry of emotions rush through. Part of him felt like he shouldn’t be seeing this, one said take a photo, the other to pinch his cheeks, the other to kiss, JUST OH GOSH IT WAS TOO MUCH! Ryuji eventually grounded himself past his momentairly gay panic and swallowed his pride. Self-inflicted fear was always going to be the winning member in this particular argument. He set down the dishes and looked at the situation. He must’ve been more exhausted than he had let on. Ryuji studied Akira’s eyelashes for a moment, and just cleared his head of nothing but just the feeling of general admiration.

“You really are a great guy, you know that Akira?” Ryuji murmured softly to himself before moving in to pick the man from the ground and take him to bed. Ryuji had to transfer him to his room before, as Akira was a very lovey-dovey happy drunk who couldn’t hold his liquor perfectly. But this was the first time Ryuji was picking him up while he was sober. It almost felt… violating. But it was better for Akira to get a full rest in his bed then stay out and have a cold or crick in his next morning. Ryuji had been working on his upper body recently, if he was going to be a coach he was gonna have to show those kids how it was done, so Akira wasn’t heavy to him. Infact, it was easier to handle him now since he is sober and not a failing drunk. Ryuji let out a soft laugh at the image that he himself had to witness and suffer through. Taking gentle steps to his room Ryuji shimmed the door open with his elbow and entered the tiny room where the bed laid close by and he gently rested Akira onto it. Thankfully, Akira had moved the blanket away in his previous video viewing set up so there was an blanketed space to set him down in and move the blanket on top of him.
After making sure that Akira was nice and snug Ryuji turned to move away before his poor heart thrummed out of his chest. As physically easy as it was to transfer him to his room and bed, it wasn’t doing much help to ease the ache of his heart and mind. He tried not to think too hard about every single motion that he did. But Ryuiji heard a soft murmur come from Akira and turned back slowly to make sure that Akira wasn’t calling for him or if something was wrong. And Ryuji felt even more conflicted than before and stepped a little closer to him out of worry. Since setting him down, Akira’s features had fallen out of their perfect ready-for-photo set and his face contorted in crinkles and worry. Was he having a nightmare?

“O… ro” Akira murmed. Now Ryuji was just confused as ever, was Sajiro torturing Akira in his sleep for sleeping when he was studying? Ryuji honestly wouldn’t put it past the old man. He focused a lot on them bettering themselves through education and he had an earful of advice from him concerning his future, especially after he brought up how he wanted to drop out his second year until he met Akira. Those were the days… so much had happened. Ryuji couldn’t help but just stare helplessly at the man whom he loved face. He wanted to ease and remove that crinkle from his brow but he simply didn’t know how. He continued to reminisce about the good times they had together back in high school and it slowly unnerved him and his mind was completely empty… and before he knew it. He was moving his body further closer to Akira’s face and pressed his lips gently to the created brow that Akira had created in distress. As soon as released what he had done, Ryuji jumped backwards quickly and honestly quite loudly. Thankfully that Akira seemed to have not woken up, Ryuiji wasted no time in rushing to his own room and having a good freak out.

He had ruined everything, how could he continue to live with Akira after this?! How could he have moved his body without realising what he was doing! Why did he do it?! Why wasn’t there some sort of almighty god to come down here and smite him out of existence. His cheeks and ears felt like they were on fire and he tried to resist the urge to scream and break down every wall in this shit-hole apartment. He opted to try and crawl out of the universe via suffocation by pillow and he kicked his feet and let out a muffled grunt of frustration and embarrassment over what he had done.

After wallowing in self-destruction for a good hour something popped up in Ryuji's mind. Oh shit, the ramen. He didn’t feel like eating anymore though, and he was so terrified of leaving his room in case some sort of karma being would be there to give him the punishment that he rightfully deserved… but it's also bad to leave food out. After having an internal debate for 4 minutes Ryuji decided to go be the responsible self-respecting man of society that his mama raised him to be and wrap the ramen bowls and put them in the fridge for dinner tomorrow. His eyes kept on going back Akira’s door,however, and his heart continued to ache… and ached. He was so afraid that one of these days that it was going to shatter and destroy him and his friendship.