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Like a Puppet On Strings

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Ryuji knew today was a bad day. He woke up feeling wrong, his mom was late for work, the trains were even later, he had to race into the school, nearly tripped on his feet to get inside, more bullshit from teachers, all of that combined with his mind failing him as he could only spiral further and further down a hole.

Maybe that’s why he didn’t realize how long he was just sitting on top of one of the school rooftop abandoned tables, staring blankly into one of the small imperfections of the concrete as his mind swirled and twisted and shoved forward thought after thought front and center in his mind.

It’s been awhile since Ryuji spiraled like this. Since he felt completely trapped inside of himself. Like he had all the energy in the world, yet it was confined. Instead, his body felt empty, and he felt far away. Like nothing he was doing was his doing. Almost to prove this, he lifted his arm. His hand simply hung limply as if held by string. That’s really what he felt like. A puppeteer. He could control the body, make it move how he wanted, but he couldn’t feel it. Couldn’t grasp how that felt.

Though, it’s not like this was new. Disassociation was something he knew well. Almost like an old friend. He felt it a lot after his leg was broken, but even before then, it was his escape. Escape from his dad, from school, from life around him. He’d fall back and just...exist. But he can’t do that anymore. And he’s been so good at keeping it under control. Forcing it away and down. Making himself push through it all and be present. So why now? Why when he knows he has to get up, when he knows he needs to head down to Leblanc to discuss what to do about Okumura’s palace is he sitting on the rooftop blankly staring at the concrete with little bits of grass crawling out of the edges like it’ll tell him the secrets of the universe?

He’s not even sure of that answer himself. One minute he was in his classroom the next he’s on the roof. He doesn’t remember how he got up here. It’s off limits, but he’s still here. And he won’t move. He can’t. He’s not sure why, but he can’t. Instead, he keeps sitting on top of the desk, staring blankly ahead, and stays trapped inside of his mind and body. Feeling miles away as is.

Somewhere he feels something shift. Like something happened. But it’s not until a harsh snap that makes him flinch heavily (which only makes his body shiver uncomfortably. he doesn’t want to move right now.) breaks him out of his staring spell to see Akira standing in front of him with a frown on his face. Concerned. He made his friend concerned. Man, he really sucks, doesn’t he?

“Ryuji? We’ve been waiting at the gate for awhile. Why’re you all the way up here?” He asks, and Ryuji’s gaze turns from him back to the crack he was staring at before. It hasn’t changed. It hasn’t gotten any bigger or smaller. But it’s the one thing Ryuji can focus on.

There’s a moment where Ryuji struggles just to open his mouth, and when he does nothing comes out. He tries and tries and tries to speak, but nothing ever comes out. Eventually he gives up and simply shrugs, his lame leg bouncing impatiently. The one way he can get out the trapped away energy inside him. Though moving still makes him want to crawl out of his skin, even though he already feels out of his skin, he needs to do something. Anything at all.

There’s another silence that washes over the two. Then, the seat shifts, and Ryuji feels himself get tugged into something warm. The actual touch on his arm makes him want to die, but the rest is nice. “You okay, bro?” Akira asks, and all Ryuji can give him another shrug. He really doesn’t know. How is he supposed to?

More silence until Akira finally nods. “I’ll text the others. Tell them you’re not feeling well. Do you want me to stay with you? We can head back to Leblanc before they lock up the school.”

Ryuji wants to refuse, but he doesn’t have the energy. Even though he feels it there, it’s all trapped. And being with Akira...it numbs the weirdness of his body. Of him not being fully there. It makes him feel present. Or at least more present then he already was. So he nods and can’t help the small smile that lifts onto his face when Akira, after finally texting the group and calling the meeting off for tomorrow instead, lets him settle back into his side.

He may not like this, being this distant and far away but also far too close to his body for comfort, but at least it’s a little easier with Akira around.

Huh...that crack has a little dandelion growing out of it. How nice.