What do you do when you’ve accidentally become friends with the dude who tried to kill you multiple times? Or, well, maybe just the once with the killing. That “multiple” part should probably be reserved for one person and one person only. And… “friends?” Are they even really friends?
Ryuji sure as hell doesn’t know. About any of it.
Life goes on, after it all happens, because that’s just what life does. Gotta keep moving. Moving through high school, summers, road trips, exams, now college, somehow college is happening, and track track track. Some of them are still friends and some of them aren’t, cause that’s how life goes too. And somehow, somehow, Goro Akechi is one of those friends that stuck.
Still, though… “friends?” Really? Akechi’d probably make some dumb face if he heard anyone call him that. Whatever. It’s his own fault at the end of the day. Dude just won’t quit anything, won’t even quit lurking around the edges of their group—like he’s doing them a favor by sneering and making sarcastic comments every few minutes. Kinda like Ren actually, if someone amped up Ren’s speech meter from one to ten and swapped the joke-y one-liners for insult-y one-liners. Or, at least that’s how Ryuji thinks of Akechi sometimes. Other times he thinks he’s just a shark doing a bad job of pretending to be a dude.
So having a drink after work with a shark… probably a bad choice. But in his defense—and this part is weird as hell—Akechi asked him.
“I thought I ought to put in some effort as a show of good faith,” Akechi explains when Ryuji asks him… why? Why me. Why why why. “You’re the closest to Ren and admittedly the least terrible of his cohort to be around. The best return on my investment, though you don’t have to tell him that.”
“Uh… ‘kay. Thanks?” Ryuji takes another swig from his beer because what the fuck. He’s more confused than ever. “So…” he swings the bottle around by its lip. What do you talk about with a shark? What do you do when you’ve accidentally become friends with the dude who tried to kill you just that once but once definitely seems like enough?
Akechi rolls his eyes way too hard and takes a tiny sip of his stupid expensive whisky instead of answering. It’s probably gross because this is a dive bar and there’s no way dive bar whisky is anything actually good. Ryuji hopes it tastes rank.
“Fuck me, dude,” he sighs, “I dunno, what do you want to talk about? You wanna hear about my latest meet? The shitty shift I had yesterday? It’s that or—oh!” He actually could use a detective opinion on something. Akechi’s pretty dumb but he’s also kinda smart so Ryuji pulls out his phone, opens it up one of his most recent matches. “What d'ya think of this chick?”
Akechi actually physically recoils, which is hilarious. “What do I think?”
“Yeah, like—do you think she’s into me? She’s hot, right?” Ryuji holds the phone closer to his face so he can see.
Akechi just blinks at him like he’s got four heads. “Why on Earth are you asking me,” he says.
Ryuji pouts. He takes his phone back before it gets bitten or something. Akechi’d probably take his whole arm off with it too, not worth it. “Cause,” he gestures at Akechi’s whole deal, “you were like, a celebrity. There’s no way you aren’t pulling chicks left and right, come on.“
Judging by the way Akechi is looking at him, Ryuji has grown eight more heads. “You don’t know,” Akechi says flatly.
No answer was the wrong answer—Akechi flips that weird switch he has to turn from shark to innocent little fishy. “I’m gay and I’m in a relationship,” he says cheerfully.
Oh. Oh, shit.
Wait. Isn’t there a type of fish that lures folks in with a pretty light and then tears them apart with its huge creepy teeth? Maybe Akechi’s that instead of a shark.
“Unbelievable,” Akechi mutters to himself, then takes a big gulp of his sipping drink.
“Uh, n-no wait,” Ryuji stutters—he’s a modern man in the modern world, he can be totally chill! (But seriously, what?) “I didn’t mean it like—like, it’s cool with me—I, um, didn’t mean to assume—uh.”
Akechi stares at him.
“Not that you need my permission? Right? Uh—wait, you’re fucking with me, aren’t you. Shit, no you’re definitely not. Sorry! Sorry for me bein’ stupid, not—ah jeez. I’m makin’ everything worse, ain’t I?”
Akechi stares at him some more. Ryuji decides to cut his losses and chug the rest of his beer because if he runs his mouth any more it’ll place better than his legs in his next meet. Damn it, why does he always get like this? This is just like when Ren told him he was crushing on that one dude in his smart-person class. Just be cool.
Unfortunately, when he finally dares another look at Akechi, the man has once again gone full shark. “Oh, not to worry, Ryuji. I did blindside you, didn’t I? Awfully rude, to do something like that,” his smile pulls at the edges, more teeth. “In fact, it’s nothing to worry about. I was just thinking that perhaps I was investing more into this relationship of mine than it warranted. I’m happy to ‘talk shop’ with you, as it were.”
Okay. Weird. Probably not good, but Akechi operates on a different wavelength and Ryuji gave up trying to make sense of him a long time ago. “Talk… shop? With you?”
“I don’t see why not. You were seeking advice from me, I can provide.” Akechi turns to face him fully, looks almost furious (or, more furious than normal) when he says, “if my latest partner were here I’m sure he’d provide testimony in the affirmative—or, at least, that’s what it sounded like when that trash was screaming my name last night.”
Whoa. Whoa! “Whoa! Dude.”
“What?” Akechi snaps, “have I made you uncomfortable? It’s not as if you know this person.”
“Uh, no, it’s… fine…”
“It’s his first time bottoming, you know. If he expects he’ll get anything better after me he’s sorely mistaken.”
Oh god. He's really in over his head. “Bottoming…?”
“I fuck him. Use your brain, Sakamoto.”
Ryuji's eyebrows shoot up to his hairline—holy shit. He really just says this stuff right out loud, doesn’t he? With his boy band hair and his nerdy little sweaters. Absolutely no shame. This is so weird.
But it’s also… it’s kinda exactly what Ryuji was looking for? Yusuke just goes on and on about aesthetics n’ shit, any of the girls would slap him if he dared bring this stuff up, and Ryuji loves Ren, tells him everything, but if he ever had to hear anything about his sex life he would literally want to die.
“So…” Ryuji waves down a bartender. “So it’s good?”
Akechi looks away, smiles like he’s having fun. And actually, surprisingly, maybe Ryuji is too. “Oh, I’ve said too much. I really shouldn’t speak any more on the matter…”
“Come on,” Ryuji whines.
“I know you want to, dude, I can tell.”
There’s a small pause of consideration, and then Akechi leans forward. A shark, hooked on Ryuji’s line—ha! Manipulating the manipulator really wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be.
Wait. Shouldn’t that have been harder?
“Since you insisted,” Akechi says, “it is good. Wild. Animalistic,” he growls, and Ryuji feels a chill run down his spine.
“Well this man I’m with—he’s a little bit of a slut. Desperate for me, in fact, which was a pleasant surprise. It would be pathetic if I weren’t happy to use him as I please.”
“Too much for you, Sakamoto?”
“No way.” Ryuji fights back against the burn on his cheeks, tries to keep up. He leans forward too now, mumbles, “tell me: do guys do that thing girls do where they act all excited and then they just, like, lay there and make you do all the work?”
“Oh, Ryuji,” Akechi chuckles, “theoretically yes, but I don’t allow it.”
“Wh—!” Goro Akechi holds all the secrets of the universe and Ryuji will get them. Never underestimate a former phantom thief. “How!?”
“Hmm… dirty talk has proven useful to me in the past. And, if that doesn’t motivate them to pull their fair share, just flip them over and let them take it on their hands and knees like they belong.”
Ryuji can feel his own eyes widen to a comic degree. Holy shit. That sounds… hot? That sounds super hot. Wait, is Akechi hot? No, no way, he’s an asshole. But… damn. “And they’d be into that?”
“Extraordinarily,” Akechi says as he swirls his whisky around all smug-like. “But thankfully it’s not an issue with my current paramour.”
Ryuji runs his hands through his hair, leans heavily against the bar. “Man. I haven’t gotten laid in like, three months. And now I’m livin’ through you of all people.” Akechi huffs out a sympathetic laugh at that, which is nice of him. “How long have you and your para-whatever been together?”
“Long enough,” Akechi grumbles first, then clarifies pleasantly: “nearly a month.”
Huh. Weird. “And you like… go on dates?”
“You give him gifts?”
Akechi is looking more uncomfortable by the second, which means Ryuji’s doing something right. “Yes.”
“I don’t cuddle,” Akechi snaps, and Ryuji bursts out laughing.
“You totally cuddle!” Goro Akechi, cuddling. What a world. “Sorry, sorry,” Ryuji snorts. “It’s just weird to think about. You always seemed like a James Bond type to me—you know, ‘ladies man,’ love ‘em and leave ‘em.“
Akechi frowns. “Well, yes, usually. Except the ‘ladies’ in this case would be men. However…” he’s glaring at his almost-drained glass of whisky like it personally wronged him. Or he’s constipated. “This one is… nothing. It’s nothing. Obviously not that serious.” His face pinches even further which is kinda alarming, and Ryuji is just now realizing that this might be the first genuine expression he’s seen on the dude all night. Or ever?
“Found your… uh… Irene Adler?” He tries to help out.
“Alright, you idiot,“ Akechi sits straight up, jabs a finger at Ryuji’s face, “first off, Irene Adler is a character from the Sherlock Holmes series, not James Bond. Second, she was not a love interest in the original stories, and third, again—Irene Adler is a woman.”
“Whatever,” he doesn’t care cause at least Akechi doesn’t look so weird anymore. He can’t believe he missed the shark. “Tell me more about the sex, it’s kinda refreshing to be able to talk to someone about stuff like this.”
“Oh,” Akechi says, pausing for a moment to cackle like an actual villain because god forbid he acts normal for a damn second. “Gladly.”
“She’s hot, right?” Ryuji asks Ren between bites of his food, because for all they talked about he never did get an answer on that from Akechi.
Ren cringes in his seat as Mona scrambles up on lap. Ryuji rolls his eyes, angles the screen up and away from him. They’ve been through this before and he knows Mona will just make up some shitty comment to be mean.
“Hey! I wanna see!”
“Shut it! This is Ren’s eyes only. Well?”
“Yeah, sure,” Ren laughs, then pushes the phone out of his face. “She’s super hot.”
Oh thank god. It was so worth running all the way to Ren’s campus for lunch, just for that. “Awesome! Cool, great. I mean, I thought so, but… uh, anyway, she’s got a friend, ya know—we could double-date it, all go out to a bar or somethin’?”
“Um,” Ren says. He drops the bread he was eating on the table between them and reaches up a hand to fiddle with his hair.
“Oh. No pressure if you don’t wanna, dude.”
“No,” Ren lets his hair go, slaps his hand back down to his leg, “it’s not anything like—um…” he looks down at Mona like he’s looking for help and Ryuji’s kind of taken aback, watching his best friend fidget and hesitate and not say a thing, because he should know what’s up. He should have a clue. Ren always tells him everything. Everything.
Are they growing apart? Oh no, oh god, is it finally happening? Does Ren have a new best friend?
“I’m just going out with someone already, that’s it,” Ren assures Ryuji before he can say a word, like he can read his mind. “Otherwise I would.”
“What!” Ryuji reaches across the table to punch him in the shoulder, “hell yeah man, ‘grats! Who is she, when can I meet her, how’d you meet, when’d you start going out?”
“Joker,” Mona grumbles.
Ren shoots him a look, then says quietly, “a little over a month now.”
“I know, I’m sorry.” Ren goes quiet, the way he does when he has a hard time picking out those perfect words of his, which is just fine with Ryuji because a month!? Ren tells him everything, Ryuji tells Ren everything—how did he miss that Ren’s been in a new relationship for a whole damn month? “I would have told you, I really would, it’s just—it’s complicated. And I don’t want to mess it up. So I thought… I don’t know. I thought I’d play this one close to my chest. Just for now.”
“Wait,” holy shit. Ryuji hasn’t seen Ren act like this in years—nervous, unsure, like he actually cares, “you’re serious? You really like this girl that much?”
Ren’s attention turns back to his bread. “Guy. Not a girl.”
Ryuji looks briefly to the sky, thanks every god that might be up there that he got a dry run of his reaction with Goro Akechi of all people earlier this week. “Guy! Sorry, uh, for assuming.”
“It’s cool,” Ren says.
“Cool,” Ryuji parrots. See? Totally cool. Way way better this time. “So… when do I get to meet him?”
“Joker,” Mona says again, his little head peeking over the top of the table. Ren pushes him away.
“I don’t know. I still have to talk to him about it. I don’t know if he… it’s… it’s a whole thing.”
“Complicated. Right,” Ryuji says. He steals a chunk of Ren’s bread and takes it for himself—payment for his best friend keeping a month’s worth of secrets, and calls it even. “Well, whenever you’re ready I wanna hear all about it. If this dude’s got you actin’ like this he’s gotta be something special.”
Ren smiles, grins with his whole face. “He is.”
“C’mon batter!!” Ryuji screams into his cupped hands, “swing!!”
The batter strikes out. The scattered crowd around them jeers. Ryuji sits down in a huff, grabs a handful of peanuts and shoves them all into his face at once. Damn dude has one job, one job, and he can’t even hit the damn ball…
“Sorry—” Ryuji turns to his companion for the afternoon: his friend, his buddy, his good ol’ pal Goro Akechi. Just effin’ normal now. “You were sayin’ about clothes?”
Akechi takes a single peanut for himself. “Yes. Right. If your goal is to lend an air of mystique, which honestly couldn’t hurt in your case, I’d suggest covering up just a tad more.” He gestures to Ryuji’s tank top and shorts with uncalled-for disdain. Ryuji makes a face at him in return.
“That why you’re always wearing those nerdy sweaters n’ gloves n’ shit?”
“No,” Akechi says, “but it remains an enjoyable side effect.”
Ryuji watches the batter on-deck step up, sighs. Dating is so damn complicated. He’s struck out the last couple of times he was matched up and he’s starting to think that maybe dating apps just aren’t his thing. “No way I’m changing the way I dress for some random chick who doesn’t even know me. But that really works or you? Playin’ coy like that?”
Akechi smirks, then pulls at the collar of his pristine and expensive jersey to reveal—holy shit. “Damn,” Ryuji wolf-whistles, inspects the bite mark a little closer. Bruised, red, and it even looks like it broke the skin in some places. “That looks like it hurt.”
“It did. I made sure to give him one to match.” Akechi taps a spot on his own neck and shrugs his jersey back into place, looking very pleased with himself. “We were out together all day so I had some fun riling him up—flirting, teasing, etcetera. By the time we finally had the chance to be alone he just. Went. Wild.”
Ryuji blinks at him, swallows heavily, his mind wandering again a little too far into Goro Akechi’s bedroom and his faceless, sex-crazed partner. “Where the hell do you find people that’ll do that?”
Akechi smirks. “Look for the quiet ones, they—hit the fucking ball you fucking trash!!”
Ah, hell. The whole stadium heard that. Ryuji sinks down low in his seat while Akechi laughs and jeers, and decides that maybe bringing him to a sporting event and giving him free beer and free reign wasn’t… the greatest idea.
So it’s been, by Ryuji’s rough estimation, two months now. Two months and Ren—Ren Amamiya, his confidant, his partner-in-crime, his very best friend in the whole world—still hasn’t introduced him to the guy he’s dating. Or shown him a picture. Or given him a name. Or anything!
But it’s fine. It’s fine. Ryuji can be supportive while also being held completely in the dark, it’s fine.
He’s literally going to die if he doesn’t meet this guy soon.
“So he’s taking you out again tonight, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Ren mumbles from behind Leblanc’s bar counter, hands in his apron pockets. He’d definitely be blushing if Ren were the type to blush. “He’s got this elaborate date planned… keeps trying to top himself even though I tell him it doesn’t matter to me.”
Aw. They’re cute. So cute. So damn cute. At least, Ryuji assumes so, but he can’t effin’ confirm it until he meets this effin’ dude.
“Well, I think it’s great!” He proclaims maybe a little too enthusiastically. “I’m glad he’s spoiling you so much. You deserve it.”
“Yeah, ‘specially with how hard you’ve been working—he knows about all that right?”
“Yeah, he knows.”
“Cool,” Ryuji nods too many times. He’s not jealous at all, it’s fine. “Cool, good. He should, cause you’re awesome. You, uh… you gonna wear that scarf though?” He points at the soft blue fabric draped around Ren’s neck. “It’s like a million degrees out, aren’t you hot?”
Ren tugs the scarf up higher, “uh, no, I’m fine. I like it?”
Ryuji shrugs, but lets it go. He obviously doesn’t know a thing about fashion anyway.
“So I have him tied up, right?”
“Completely at my mercy.”
“And I spent so long working him up that he’s panting like a bitch in heat. Trembling—shaking right there on the bed, I could feel it.”
“And he still refused to do it.”
“No way,” Ryuji murmurs, entranced. “I totally would’ve—” begged you to fuck me his brain finishes so nicely for him and—oops. Nope, stop, dangerous territory, stop that train of thought. Especially when they’re both half-naked sitting in a goddamn bathhouse. Shit. “I mean, uh… how’d he hold out that long? Why?”
Akechi takes a long drink from his water bottle, drags his fingers back through his wet hair. “He was determined to win,” he says with a sort of dazed look and dreamy tone that would sound better matched to isn’t she gorgeous, or he gave me the most beautiful flowers, or whatever else not-Akechi people in long-term relationships say. “He put up such a fight. It was enthralling.”
“Always about the battles with you, isn’t it. Don’t you ever have, like…” Ryuji glances around to make sure they’re still alone, “regular sex?”
“You know—starin’ into each other’s eyes, declarations of love, all that sappy bullshit.”
Akechi scoffs. But he doesn’t deny it, which is kind of funny to imagine.
“You’ve been going out for three months, right?”
“So…” Ryuji kicks out his leg, bounces it nervously against the bench. He feels like he’s broaching some kind of forbidden topic here, but… “ain’t that kinda serious?”
Akechi does that thing where he looks away and tries to seem like he doesn’t care even though he totally does. “Is it?”
“Yeah man,” Ryuji moves to catch his eye and fails. “If you’ve been exclusive that whole time…?”
Akechi nods at the wall behind Ryuji, but says quietly: “It’s not serious. He doesn’t seem to be telling anyone that we’re together.”
Oh. That sucks. Ryuji’s skin crawls because he… actually feels bad for Akechi and, ugh. Gross. He can never forgive him for that. He regrets asking now, understands why the forbidden was forbidden in the first place.
“You know why?”
“I haven’t asked. The answer is obvious.” Akechi smiles, bright and cheery. “But it doesn’t matter to me, I don’t care.”
Ryuji keeps finding himself in the middle of these heart-to-hearts. He likes to think of himself as a reliable sort of guy. A real stand-up fellow. The sort of guy who always has an ear to lend and advice to offer. Or whatever. But this is getting ridiculous. Like—between Akechi and Ren and whatever the hell Ann is doing, Ryuji still doesn’t know what’s going on there, he might as well be a bonafide relationship consultant. He should print something out on the computer—get a certificate or something he can sign. “A medal!”
“Yeah,” Ryuji says to his friend-shaped blur. “Cause of all the talkin’.”
Ren laughs. “Maybe we shouldn’t take these.”
Oh, right. The shots they ordered. Ryuji’s is still sitting on the counter and Ren is holding his patiently—shit, how’d he forget about that? “No! I’m good! I’m good, let’s go!” He picks up their poison of choice, clicks the tiny little glass with Ren’s, and throws it back.
“Disgusting! Why’re we doing this?”
Ren pushes Ryuji’s forgotten chaser towards him. “Cause you said I needed it.”
“Oh, right, sad cat.”
Pouty face—pouty face is better than sad face. “I’m not a sad cat.”
“You’re not! Not anymore, all because of me,” Ryuji proclaims triumphantly, nearly spilling the soda he forgot was in his hand.
“Because of you I’m going to die tomorrow.”
“That’s tomorrow! This is tonight!”
“I have a date tomorrow.”
“Yeah you do,” Ryuji grabs Ren by the shoulders, shakes him. “And I’m gonna be there too and I’m gonna finally meet Mr. Mystery.”
Ren tries to bat his hands away—unsuccessfully at first, because he didn’t try hard enough, and they get into a little slap fight. They’re probably way too old to do this in public but whatever, who cares. Ryuji wins. Or Ren lets him win—he can never quite tell the difference.
“I still have to ask him,” Ren sighs after they settle down.
You have got to be kidding me, “Renren!”
“I’m gonna do it I swear,” he says. “I swear. I just… I have to make sure he won’t break up with me first.”
“Why the hell—”
“Shouldn’t be telling you this,” Ren glances around, like mystery guy is going to show up out of nowhere and honestly that’d be great, Ryuji wishes he freakin’ would. “You can’t tell anyone I told you this, okay?”
He has never needed to know anything more in his entire life. He’ll sell his soul to Ren if he has to. It wouldn’t be fair, because Ryuji’s pretty sure he’s extremely drunk right now and he thinks Ren is too, but he’d do it. “I swear! Cross my heart.”
“Okay. Okay, we were…” Ren tilts his head, makes a meaningful face. “You know.”
Never mind. “Dude!”
Ren doesn’t seem bothered at all, “so we’re in the middle of fucking—”
“Agh!” Hands clapped over his ears. They don’t help.
“—and he starts crying.”
“Yeah,” Ren drags his hands down his face, holds them there, sounds like he’s about to cry himself when he says: “it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”
“And I’d never seen him cry, not ever, not once, even with all the stuff that happened, right? We started talking and—and he opened up, told me about all this stuff. Like, really personal stuff, dark stuff.” Ryuji sits in silent awe as Ren sways in his seat and just keeps talking, a rare event even when he gets enough alcohol in him. “And it was really nice? I knew him before, obviously, but this—hic—was on a different level he’s just so perfect dude, he’s so mean but also so nice? I’m so lucky, I miss him…” he finally trails off with a dreamy expression.
“Yeah, man,” Ryuji says.
Cause. What the hell else can he say to that? Akechi, now Ren—his friends pick the weirdest reasons to get all gooey and lovey-dovey and gross… does Ryuji need some new friends? Is he the weird one here?
“And the sex is so good.”
“Stop, no, I don’t wanna hear it!”
“Ryuji~,” Ren whines. “It’s so fucking good.”
The hands he has pressed over his ears again still aren’t helping cause Ren’s in his head, ugh, blech, it’s like imagining his mom doing it. Completely unnatural. “Shut up!”
Ren huffs, falls forward onto the bar counter and turns his head morosely towards Ryuji. “I think I really really like him.”
“Wait. You serious?”
He hiccups. It’s cute. “Yeah.”
“Renren…” Ryuji slams a palm down on the bar, shocking Ren back up to a sitting position, jostling all the empty glasses in front of them. “Damn it! You’re killing me Ren, when I am gonna meet this guy!?”
Ren puts his head in his hands. Good! It’s been months, the hell is he waiting for!? “Soon, really soon,” Ren mumbles. “I probably… should have done this way earlier. I just didn’t know it would get so… we didn’t even talk about it at the start, it just sort of happened.”
Ren slumps down further in his seat, drooping like he’s melting, looking absolutely miserable, exactly like…
“Nooo, dude, we just got rid of sad cat.” Ryuji smacks lightly on the back of his head. “All you gotta do is talk to him, idiot. Do it tomorrow. I’m getting us more shots.”
He is so hungover.
Ren was right. He’s probably gonna die. Maybe he’s already dead.
Ryuji lurches towards his train platform in a daze, breathing carefully and intermittently chugging water from the bottle Ren begged him to take after he stupidly insisted on going home. But Ren has a date, mystery guy was on his way, and Ryuji’ll talk all he wants but there’s no way he’s stickin’ around Ren’s apartment if it’d make him even the slightest bit uncomfortable.
He’s doing this right. He’s gonna let Ren figure his shit out, and then he’s gonna meet his boyfriend when they’re good and ready and become best friends with him too, and then he’s gonna do his best to try and forget Ren ever said anything about sex ever.
But he doesn’t even make it onto his train before he runs into Goro Akechi, of all people. Why. Why now?
“He wants to ‘talk to me,’” Akechi tells him straight out as soon as he sees him. No hello. No wave. No greeting.
“Oh. Uh, shit.” Ryuji grimaces, takes another healthy swing of his water. He is way too hungover for this.
They’re in the way of this crowded station—people keep rushin’ by and bumping into the both of them. It’s annoying. “Well… are you gonna?”
“I have to, don’t I? I’m on my way to his apartment right now.” Akechi checks his watch and then just stands there, doesn’t move, even as Ryuji stares at him.
“Well… if you want—”
“It was never anything anyway, was it?” Akechi interrupts. “What should I have expected? I was nothing but a dirty little secret to him, good for a few fucks before he’d inevitably move on to whatever other sycophant of his is begging for his dick—”
“Whoa, whoa! Hey! Don’t talk about yourself like that.” Ryuji grabs him, the idiot, still so stupid after all these years, and drags him off to the side where it isn’t quite so crowded. Those times Akechi talked about this boyfriend of his—even with their usual topics of conversation it wasn’t hard to see their relationship wasn’t just about sex. “Shouldn’t you hear him out first before you jump to conclusions like that? All he wants to do is talk, right?”
Akechi breathes in deep. Heaves out a long, miserable sigh. “Conclusions are my job, Sakamoto. The evidence is clear. The writing was on the wall all along, it can’t work. It obviously can’t work. It’s an impossible thing. The situation is simply too complex. Neither of us expected this, we never discussed it because obviously neither of us were looking for anything real. Better to end it now.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want?”
For a being such a great liar Akechi sure is a terrible liar.
“Well… alright man,” Ryuji taps his foot nervously on the ground, cause he really has no idea what to do here. Some relationship consultant he is. “Good luck, I guess.”
“Thank you.” Akechi says. He still doesn’t move. He looks like he’s going to be sick. And there goes Ryuji, feelin’ bad for him again.
“You’re really in deep shit, huh.” Damn, never in a million years did he think he’d see Akechi like this. “You and Ren—is there something in the water? Did I wish for the wrong thing this year?”
Akechi blinks. “Ren?”
“Yeah, it’s ridiculous.”
“What about Ren?”
“Oh. It’s nothing,” Ryuji sighs, waves a tired hand in the air. “He’s just totally bonkers over this mystery person he’s dating. It’s been months and he still won’t let me meet them cause he’s terrified it’ll mess it up or whatever. And Ren tells me everything, you know.”
“He said that.”
Ryuji’s water bottle is empty, which doesn’t bode well for his pounding head. He should probably take a detour to the bathroom whenever Akechi decides to let him off the hook. “Yeah man, you should’ve heard him last night. The idiot basically had hearts falling out of his eyes, goin’ on and on and on about—”
“Ryuji Sakamoto!” Akechi announces, loud and out of goddamn nowhere, “you’re so delightfully thick, I could kiss you.”
And then as quick as he appeared, Akechi’s gone. No goodbye. No wave. No parting words besides whatever that was supposed to be.
“The hell!? Bye?” Ryuji says to the Akechi-shaped hole left in front of him. He stands there for a bit longer, rubs his head in confusion, and finally wanders off in the direction of his platform once again. “Effin’ rude.”
Joker: 7pm at leblanc
Joker: it’s just gonna be a few of us so it’s not overwhelming
Joker: you’ll be there right
Skull: obviously!!! i’m so excited you have no idea
Skull: mystery man revealed! finally!
Joker: can you promise me something
Joker: promise you’ll be cool
Skull: what? obviously when am i not cool
Joker: dude i am so serious
Joker: you can’t tell him anything i told you
Joker: be cool
Joker: promise me
Skull: i’ll be cool!
Skull: i promise to be cool!
Skull: swear on my life!
Akechi: If you say a single word I will kill you.
Ryuji: about what???
Ryuji: DUDE WTF?????
Ryuji looks at Ren.
At their held hands.
Ren again. Akechi again. Hands.
“This… ain’t a joke?”
“Ryuji!” Sumire gasps, dainty little hand to her mouth, and—oh shit, okay—Sumire is here, Boss is here, Mona and Yusuke and… and they’re still holding hands so it’s definitely not a joke and he promised Ren he would be cool and he is cool, he is, but—
It’s all coming back to him now. Months. Months of talking about Akechi’s sex-capades… with Ren. With his best friend, that was his best friend! Akechi knew the whole goddamn time, that evil bastard knew and he was just—it’s not—it’s not fair. Ren and Akechi are each giving him a separate death glare and—
You can’t tell him anything I told you.
If you say a single word I will kill you.
“Nooo,” Ryuji whimpers miserably, head in his hands. It’s too much! He’s been cursed, cursed with too much knowledge. “Nooooo.”
“Ryuji!” Ann hisses, smacks him on the back of his head, “be supportive, you dick!”
“Wh—but—they—they,” his jaw drops. “I am!!”