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   Akiyama Yuuji never expected this to be his life.

   He's been standing outside the station gates at exactly six 'o clock every night for the past three weeks, and it’s just hit him how vastly different this version of his life is from what he had imagined.

   If he had been asked, things would have just continued on the way they had for years; maybe he would still be killing time with Tomomi and the others at an arcade, or picking a fight, or flirting. Maybe he'd be home eating cheap takeout and watching shitty TV before giving up and just turning in for the night. That's all there ever really was, really ever needed to be.

   But here he is, again, just like the day before and the one before that and the ones before that, staring impatiently at the chrome turnstiles of G station as the late autumn wind bites at his skin. It’s cold, the chill starting to seep into his toes and make his nose run as his breathe puffs out in wisps around the heavy fabric of his scarf. It’s only been a few minutes since he's taken his post just outside the halo of warm yellow light spilling from inside the station gates, but he's never been one for the biting weather that comes with November twilights. He buries his face deeper into his scarf and traces the veins of dead leaves underfoot as he counts down the seconds.

   Thankfully, he doesn't have to wait long.

   Just as the train is pulling away with a deafening clatter, he glances up to see Shiba struggling through the turnstiles and jogging towards him. He's flushing red, the same shade he does when Yuuji licks and sucks in just the right places, and it really should look terrible, but on Shiba he can't help but think it looks a little charming.

   Well, a little stupid too, he thinks as the other boy jogs up to him with a too-big grin. Like an over-enthusiastic puppy.

   "Akiyama-kun!" Shiba pants as he comes to a stop, and Yuuji has to ignore the way his heart picks up at the breathlessness. "Thank you for waiting!"

   Same as every time.

   "Y'know, you don't have to run Shiba. And I'm the one who invited you"

   Same as every time.

   Shiba, just as Yuuji expects him to, gives a sheepish little laugh and fidgets with the strap of his bag, as if he's somehow still embarrassed by all this, whatever this is. It used to puzzle Yuuji, how this gangly mess of a boy could be so shy yet so utterly shameless, but now he knows that's just how Shiba is; he'll fuck you dry one minute then blush like a virgin schoolgirl the next.

   He really is just like a puppy.

   "You hungry?" Yuuji asks as he turns away from the station and starts walking. He knows by the patter of feet behind him that Shiba is following and feels a faint warmth as their shoulder brush.

   "Yes...have you eaten yet, Akiyama-kun?"

   "Nope. I was thinking I could cook something, if you're ok with it."

   "Of course!"

   Shiba is practically vibrating with excitement, eyes wide and shining like he's just been given a million dollars and it's almost laughable how easy he is. Shiba is an open book and Yuuji knows exactly which page to read to watch the boy light up like the sun.

   As he ducks his head to hide the heat flushing his cheeks, Yuuji supposes he isn't much better.