Ryuji could never find it in himself to refuse Yusuke's requests. He huffed out a sigh and kicked absentmindedly at the ground as he waited for the artist to arrive at the ferris wheel. He got a sudden rush of inspiration and wanted to see the city from up high during a sunset. It being one of his less unusual ideas Ryuji didn't mind indulging him. In fact it'd probably be kinda fun.
Since Ren left he'd been paling around with Yusuke more often. He did tease him a lot over the past year but after spending more time with the guy he did feel a little guilty for it. The boy had his quirks sure but over time they became more...endearing. His inability to read the mood of a room, his flare for the over-dramatic, not to mention his lack of awareness when he did something "weird" in public. He could be so dense sometimes. It was actually kinda cute.
Ryuji's heart jolted in surprise at that thought. Yusuke? Cute? Where the hell did that come from? Sure the guy was good looking there was no denying that. He was handsome...pretty even. At that Ryuji mentally slapped himself. You can't just call a dude pretty. But Yusuke was pretty. He was beautiful and it was really damn frustrating not to mention distracting as hell.
Yusuke would talk on and on about some art related thing and Ryuji would try to at least pay half attention to whatever he was talking about. But he'd get distracted.
The way his sleek blue hair fell in front of one eye only for him to push it back behind his ear. His long fluttering eyelashes...why did the dude need to have such long eyelashes?! And god the way he'd stare intensely at whatever he was drawing made Ryuji freeze on the spot. He found himself wondering what it would be like to have that gaze focused on him instead, to have Yusuke's complete and undivided attention.
It was so stupid it was so stupid! It was almost sounding as if he had a cr-
A deep concerned voice pulled the blonde out of his thoughts. "O-Oh! Hey Yusuke. When did you get here?"
Yusuke tilted his head curiously at Ryuji with concerned eyes. "Just a moment ago. I apologize if I kept you waiting too long...are you alright?"
Ryuji smiled bashfully. "Nah it's okay dude! And I'm feeling alright. Why?"
The artist approached him to get a closer look at his face, making Ryuji feel incredibly self conscious. He felt like he was being scrutinized under his gaze, it set the blush on his cheeks aflame into a brighter hue. "Your face is quite red. You're not sick are you?" He held the back of his hand against Ryuji's forehead and the touch of his cool hand against his skin felt electric. It made him recoil and step back quickly away from Yusuke's touch.
"N-No I'm fine! I'm just really hot that's all not a big deal."
Yusuke retracted his hand and nodded in understanding. "Ah well that makes sense. It is quite warm out."
Relieved that he believed that so easily Ryuji breathed out a sigh of relief that went unnoticed by Yusuke. "Okay so are we going to get in line or what? You sounded pretty excited on the phone. Inspiration hit you hard?" Yusuke gripped at the sketchbook in the crook of his arm. His eyes lit up with an undying passion. "Indeed it has! I must get this image out on paper immediately before it slips away into the breeze!"
He grabbed at Ryuji's wrist and pulled him along into the line for the ferris wheel. Ryuji laughed at the action, "Okay man relax! The ferris wheel isn't going anywhere."
Fortunately the line wasn't too long so they made it onto the ride in no time. Yusuke's eyes sparkled as they stepped on and he quickly took a seat. Ryuji took a seat close to him...but not too close. He was still recovering from earlier.
Once the ride got moving Yusuke flipped open his sketchbook with an urgency. Ryuji took a look out the window as they rose higher into the air.
It looked pretty cool honestly. Seeing the city bathed in the warm orange glow of the sunset. No wonder Yusuke wanted to do this. But he couldn't help but wonder why he needed to be here. Not that he minded he actually liked hanging out with him now. But if he wanted to draw the cityscape from the ferris wheel couldn't he have just come here on his own?
He looked back to Yusuke who was focusing intently as he drew. He felt his chest starting to hurt at the sight of him. His heart was beating so hard he could hear it in his ears.
Yusuke looked amazing in the light of the sunset. His skin glowed and his eyes sparkled like stars. He looked almost too perfect to be real. That's when Ryuji realized...
He was crushing. He was crushing hard. Maybe he'd been crushing this whole time and he was too dumb to notice it.
Ryuji didn't know how to deal with this realization. He'd never felt this way about a guy before. He hadn't felt this way about a girl before either. Sure he crushed on girls growing up but it never felt this intense. It never felt this nerve wracking. What the hell was he supposed to do about this?!
"You look lost in thought."
Once again, Ryuji was pulled out of his thoughts by Yusuke's calm soothing voice.
The artist was staring at him again making Ryuji quickly avert his gaze to the cityscape instead. He tapped his foot anxiously on the ground trying to think of a way to not fumble and stutter like an idiot. "Nah it's nothing. Don't worry about it."
Apparently this time that excuse wasn't good enough for Yusuke. He sat his sketchbook down and shifted closer to where Ryuji was seated, his expression was serious.
Hearing his name said by Yusuke in such a soft and serious tone made Ryuji's heart feel like it had jumped into his throat. He tore his eyes away from the window to look at him, a fake casual smile on his face. "Y-Yeah? What is it man?"
Yusuke's eyes became rather sullen, losing their beautiful passionate shine. "Do you still feel uncomfortable with me?"
Ryuji's smile quickly faded away and was replaced with desperation. Desperation to convince him that wasn't true. "No of course not! Why would you think that?!" Yusuke wasn't convinced. He shifted closer still and Ryuji felt himself tense up, he felt so exposed under the eyes of this artist.
"You've barely looked me in the eye since I arrived. You purposefully distanced yourself away from me. When we got in line you shifted several steps away from where I stood." A sad smile quirked up on his lips. "And instead of filling the silence with your usual loud chatter you stayed quiet. I must say the air feels quite empty without your yelling."
Ryuji wanted to retort with an "I don't yell" but he was honestly at a loss for words. He had noticed all of that? He pushed aside his genuine shock so he could respond, "Wow. When did you get so observant?"
Yusuke breathed out an annoyed sigh, "I know to others I appear to be oblivious in certain situations. But when it comes to the people I care about I make it a point to pay careful attention."
Ryuji felt a pang of guilt hit him in the gut. Of course he did. That's the kind of person Yusuke was. It wasn't always obvious but he did really care deeply for his friends. He was always eager to support them when they faced troubles. No wonder he was so concerned with Ryuji acting out of character. "I'm sorry man. I didn't mean it like that." His voice went soft, his tone achingly genuine. "I was just surprised you noticed all of that. I didn't really think you'd ever pay that much attention to me." The artist's eyes went wide with shock, "Of course I would. Why wouldn't I?"
The blonde laughed weakly, no real happiness was behind it. "Well...I don't know. I've never really felt like I was worth anyones attention really. What's so great about me that would make people waste their time?" He may have grown over the past year but his past insecurities still lingered within him. He still had doubts about himself rattling around in his mind that wouldn't go away so easily. Not after having it beat into him day after day...
The passionate glow in Yusuke's eyes returned with a fierce determination. "I can list them all out for you. Try to stop me but I warn you it is a pointless endeavor!" He grabbed Ryuji's hands and took them in his making Ryuji yelp out in surprise. "W-What are you doing?!" He tried to rip his hands away but Yusuke's grip was surprisingly firm. He could feel his face starting to flush. "Dude c'mon that's not necessary!" Yusuke wasn't going to budge on this. "I disagree." He cleared his throat meaningfully before starting on his long tangent.
"You are incredibly selfless and devoted. You willingly throw yourself into harms way to protect the people you care about. And you're so passionate and unapologetic with your beliefs! You're not afraid to say what you really think! You care so hard and love so loudly its deafening! Not to mention your smi-"
"-Okay okay dude I get it! Please stop!" Ryuji's fact went entirely red from the tips of ears down to his neck. "G-God how am I supposed to react to all of that?!" It was impossible for him to wrap his head around. Yusuke actually thought all of that? Was this some kind of dream?
"I'm just trying to convince you that you have many redeeming qualities Ryuji. I meant every word I said. I'm no liar of that I can assure you." Ryuji managed a smile at that. "Yeah I know. You're honest almost to a fault. But I love that about you." His eyes went wide with realization at what he had just said. Noticing their hands were still clasped together he managed to tug them away and shift farther away in his seat. "Ryuji?" Yusuke just followed him and scooted closer. Their legs brushed together and Ryuji felt goosebumps rise on his skin. "What is the matter?"
"Nothing! It's nothing!"
"Clearly it's something!"
"No it's not!"
"Yes it is Ryuji I'm not blind! Be honest with me do I still make you uncomfortable?!"
Ryuji managed to make eye contact with him, standing strong against his intense gaze. "Why do you care so much anyway?! You didn't used to care so much about that!" Yusuke was the one to avert his gaze this time, like it physically hurt to look at him. "It's different now!"
"How's it any different?!"
"Because this time it actually hurts!"
That made Ryuji's mouth snap shut. He stared at him in shock for a few moments before managing a whisper. "W-What?"
Yusuke sighed, bringing his gaze back to Ryuji. His expression was painfully sincere and vulnerable. "I didn't used to care so much. But after spending so much time together I've grown...quite fond of you. In fact I'd say you're one of my new sources of inspiration." A faint blush dusted Yusuke's pale cheeks. "I think you're a great person Ryuji."
The blonde stared at him in awe. It felt like his heart was ramming fiercely against his ribcage. This was all so hard to wrap his head around. Yusuke had said all those nice things about him. He said he was fond of him...that he inspired him. That he was a great person. Nobody had ever said that to him before. Ryuji couldn't help but smile at the boy next to him. But Yusuke started to shift away from his side. "I'm sorry for prying. I'll leave you be." In frustration Ryuji took a hold of his hand and yanked him back to his side so hard that their heads almost knocked together. "Okay I'll be honest! I am uncomfortable! But not in a bad way I swear! It's in a good way!"
Yusuke eyed him curiously, completely oblivious to what that could mean. "Is there a good way to be uncomfortable?"
Ryuji wasn't sure how he could explain it without pouring all of his feelings out. "Y-Yeah there is! Like that feeling you have when you have a crush on someone! Your heart beats super hard and it gets difficult to breathe. But in a way it actually feels kinda nice...it makes you feel more alive when you like someone that much."
The topic seemed to catch Yusuke's interest pretty quick. Not surprising considering all the times he wanted to capture love on his canvas. "Are you speaking from personal experience?" He almost seemed desperate for the answer.
Noticing he was still holding Yusuke's hand he squeezed it firmly. Without thinking he answered honestly. "Yeah. I am." The artist responded to his action by moving even closer to Ryuji. Their faces were merely an inch apart now. "I-If that's the case then...you feel this way when you're with me? That's why you've been so quiet and distant tonight?" He spoke in a nervous hushed whisper, afraid of his friend's response.
Ryuji swallowed a lump in his throat, all words escaped him in this moment. He couldn't think straight with Yusuke so close to him. He felt his eyes drift down to the other boy's lips. They looked so soft...
"Ryuji." Yusuke's soft voice was begging for an answer. "Please tell me."
Since he couldn't manage to say anything he did what he does best and spoke with his actions. He reached up with his free hand and gently cupped Yusuke's cheek. With a deep breath he leaned in and anxiously pressed his lips against his. It was a passionate and eager kiss. He needed to get his point across somehow. And with the way Yusuke had grabbed at the back of his head and pulled him in close he knew that the message was well received.
The rest of the ride continued like that. Sharing gentle and clumsy kisses as they tried to sort out their true feelings for one another. Off to the side Yusuke's sketchbook was laid open on his most recent drawing.
It was Ryuji. Bathed in the warm light of the sunset in the ferris wheel. Yusuke wanted so badly to capture his sunny qualities in his art.
Because to him...Ryuji was the most bright and colorful thing this world had to offer.