The sun was low in the sky by the time Ryoma stopped, the weight of an entire day of working out in the summer heat suddenly crashing over him and he felt exhausted and heavy. But even as he put his racket away, trudging away from the street courts and towards the bus stop, he realized that for all of that, he still didn't know what the hell to do. Everything still hurt - everything was still wrong.
The bus came and he sat in the back, leaning the back of his head against the window, letting the jitter of the window pane against his skull keep him awake. He rode past his regular stop, farther out of town than he normally went, until he pulled the cord and stepped off the bus and started in the direction of the apartment Eiji- and Oishi-sempai shared. It took a bit longer than normal to get there, with the way his feet were dragging, but eventually he stopped in front of their door and knocked, wishing that Eiji-sempai might be home and not home all at the same time.
It was still too hot for Eiji’s liking, which meant he was wandering around the apartment shirtless with only a pair of shorts and the t-shirt he had taken off once he came back home from work was tied around his waist as he finished up the last of the breakfast dishes. He should’ve been used to this heat, by now, considering how many summers he had gone through his lifetime – and, July wasn’t even near the worst; they still had August to get through. Red hair was sticking to the back of his neck, but he couldn’t be bothered to even take a shower – more like it was time to plop down in front of the air conditioner and not move until he was successfully an ice cube.
With a glass of iced green tea in his hand, Eiji was about to settle down on the floor and flip through his magazine when the door knocked. Raising an eyebrow, Eiji scratched his shoulder before standing up properly, running a hand through sweaty hair before reaching out for the doorknob and opening the door. “Ryoma?” Eiji was surprised to see his kouhai standing at his door – the familiar petname didn’t even fall past lips as he ushered the other in quickly, closing the door to keep out the heat and throw his shirt back on.
Ryoma's throat constricted the moment Eiji-sempai opened the door - now that he was here, he was torn between pretending nothing was wrong and the vain hope that maybe his sempai would be able to fix everything. He dropped his tennis bag just inside the door and stood there a moment while the other pulled his shirt on. He wanted to take off his hat - it was hot and sweaty and it wasn't keeping the hair out of his eyes - but it was better on, because he didn't have to quite hang his head to avoid looking Eiji-sempai in the face.
He was silent a moment, trying to figure out what to say before he finally opened his mouth and managed to get out something that sounded like, "I have to talk to you."
Eiji didn’t think he had ever seen Ryoma quite like this – his body language, his voice… none of it screamed “Ochibi” to him. Had the other boy been playing tennis all day? Judging by the other’s labored breathing and the sweat running down limbs, Eiji knew he was right. “Okay, come sit down at the table, Ochibi.” Moving to the kitchen, Eiji got out the tabletop pot he usually used to cook sukiyaki in, and put the makings for ramen from the refrigerator on the table.
“I’m going to make you some food, okay?” Voice soft, Eiji waited for his kouhai to take a seat before sitting down himself, crossing his arms and leaning down on them slightly. “What happened, Ochibi?” He hadn’t heard of anything in particular happening lately, with Ryoma, but it must’ve been something important if it meant Ryoma knocking on the door, at sunset, looking almost like he was half-dead because of exhaustion.
Ryoma followed Eiji into the kitchen and sat as instructed, legs feeling weak and very glad he probably wouldn't have to move for a while. He nodded at the mention of food - he'd been hungry a while ago, and now it just felt like his stomach was eating itself, but he'd try to eat if Eiji-sempai made something. He knew he probably should.
But what happened? How could he even begin to describe what had happened, tell Eiji-sempai what was wrong. Everything seemed wrong and he wasn't even sure how it had really gotten that way. All he could think about was the way he'd left, weeks ago, when Akaya had told him he'd slept with someone else, and that kept on immediately looping into the way Dan had shoved him away and run out of his house, crying, last night. He'd thought things were better - with Akaya, and with Dan - but apparently he'd been wrong. He was a problem.
"I messed up," he finally said, quietly, hands gripping the seat of the chair and staring at the blank tabletop in front of him. "I messed up really badly. I... I don't know how to fix it."
It was important for Ryoma to get food in his stomach; knowing the other, Ryoma had probably been playing tennis without eating much (if anything at all) and that just wasn’t right. Cutting up some meat and vegetables, Eiji then placed them with chopsticks into the pan to fry and wait until he could put in ramen broth and the noodles from the unopened package. Reaching over the tiny table, Eiji hesitated a moment before removing Ryoma’s hat and settling it to the side – it was soaked with sweat. Adopting a soft tone and keeping his voice like that, Eiji asked, “First, how did you mess up? Did you… do something you regret?” Absently, the redhead played with a flip of his hair, waiting for the other to respond.
Ryoma started when Eiji-sempai pulled his hat off - but he let him do it, eyes flickering over to the other before returning to the tabletop. Something he regretted? That was putting it lightly. He more than regretted it - every time he remembered what had happened he wanted to go back in time and punch himself in the face, tell himself that whatever the hell he'd been thinking, it was wrong. And that he was going to mess everything up.
"Yeah," was all he said, for a moment, before bringing his arms up to rest elbows on the table, hands at his temples holding his head up when he really just wanted to smack it against the table. "I mean - I almost did... I don't know. I messed up," he repeated, barely knowing where to begin. "I just... with Dan. I messed up with Dan. I tried to - I tried to kiss him and - "
When he actually heard it out loud, it sounded so different - worse and not as bad at the same time, and he shut his eyes, not wanting to see his sempai's reaction, good or bad.
Wait, Ryoma did… what? Eiji quickly flipped the meat over to cook the other side and poked at the vegetables for a moment while gathering his thoughts. His kouhai was together with Akaya, so that had to have been one reason why… and then Dan had just semi-recently broke up with his long-term boyfriend, which, undoubtedly, the pain had to still linger from that – was that why Ryoma regretted what he almost did?
“Did…” Eiji trailed off, just simply watching his kouhai for a moment before moving his chair closer to Ryoma’s. The question he had been about to ask was silly and one that Eiji already knew the answer to, so there was really no point in asking – so, he decided to take a different approach instead. “And… I take it Dan reacted badly…?” He could just imagine what it could’ve been like, and the redhead felt his heart leap up to his throat just thinking about how the both of them must feel.
"Badly doesn't begin to describe it," Ryoma croaked, giving in and crossing his arms on the table, resting his forehead on them, skin feeling salty and sweaty from playing tennis all day. Shit, his eyes were stinging, from the sweat, that had to be it. He took a deep breath, trying to keep himself calm - he was not going to break down in front of Eiji-sempai. He was not.
"I'm so stupid," he said, voice muffled by the table, but Eiji could probably make it out all right. "Dan prolly hates me now, and I went and did that after I got all mad at Akaya for sleeping with - " ... Shit again. He didn't know if Eiji-sempai knew about that. He didn't know if anyone knew about that. Well, aside from Shiraishi-sempai, kind of, but that had been different. But it didn't change anything. "I can't - I'm stupid," he repeated. "Fucking stupid." He didn't really have any other way to describe it.
Almost immediately, Eiji responded, “You’re not stupid, Ryoma.” The younger boy said quite a few things the redhead wasn’t expecting – apparently Akaya slept with someone that wasn’t Ryoma and he had gotten mad about that (which was more than to be expected, of course – Eiji tried thinking what he would do if he was in the same position and quickly threw that thought away; not only was it implausible – Oishi would never do something like that – but it just wasn’t a pleasant thought).
Turning the heat down on the pan and leaving the food to simmer – there would be plenty of time to eat after they talked about this mess – Eiji rested his hand flat against Ryoma’s back and rubbed a soothing circle, leaning in a bit to his kouhai. “I’m sure Dan doesn’t hate you, you’re his best friend,” Eiji said while continuing to rub small circles on the sweat-laden back of Ryoma. “Mm, you probably scared him a bit, but I’m positive he doesn’t hate you.” Licking his own lips nervously, Eiji glanced at the front door – Oishi was probably going to be home soon, but knowing his partner, he would give Eiji and Ryoma space and work on his homework assignments from university.
Ryoma didn't think Eiji-sempai was very objective about the being (or not being) stupid. But he guessed he wasn't, either - whatever, it didn't seem to matter, and in the end, how was he notstupid? He bit his lip, something very much like a sob wanting to break free and he tried to shove it back down. The other's hand on his back felt... nice. Too nice - he really was going to lose control at this rate.
"Your best friend's not supposed to fucking try to kiss you," Ryoma muttered at the table, telling himself that as much as he was telling Eiji-sempai. "He should hate me. Wouldn't blame him. I'm a hypocrite. An' stupid," he repeated, feeling like not only was he betraying Dan, he was betraying Akaya, and he couldn't bear doing either. He didn't know what he wanted anymore - he just wanted things back the way they were, when he could hang out with Dan and nothing was weird, and he could date Akaya and not have to worry about being good enough. The latter part may have been better as of late, but he still felt... guilty, somehow, for wanting Akaya to be 'exclusive.' And even more so, now that he'd nearly gone and kissed someone else without having set out to do so.
Continuing with rubbing the circles on Ryoma’s back, Eiji nodded despite his kouhai not able to see it. He could see where Ryoma was coming from – but, there was a key thing the other was forgetting about in this ordeal. “Ne, Ochibi,” Eiji stilled his hand for a moment, lightly drumming his fingers against his spine while he thought of how to word this. “Put both Akaya and Dan-chan aside for now, okay? I want you to think about this.”
The hand started moving in a circular direction of its own accord again, and Eiji chose his words carefully. “Remember that, sometimes, best friends make the best lovers… I speak, well, sorta from experience at least. Oishi’s not my best friend, but he’s my partner – and our relationship… while it won’t last forever, it’s proof that these kind of relationships can work out.” Tilting his head slightly, Eiji grabbed the chopsticks to flip the meat over again so it didn’t burn before turning back to his kouhai, moving his hand across Ryoma’s back to rest on his shoulders. “You may be a hypocrite, but it wasn’t like you purposely planned to do something like this, right? And it still doesn’t make you stupid.”
Gently, Eiji pulled Ryoma up so he wasn’t slumped over the table and pulled him tight against his side; and with one look at the younger boy’s face, Eiji recognized the expression immediately – the expression of being on the verge of breaking out in a sob – and the redhead knew from experience it would simply hurt more to keep it in. Quietly, he murmured, “It’s alright to cry, Ochibi – I’m here.”
Ryoma had other things to say - well, mostly just variations on the thoughts running through his head that would not give him a moment's peace - but they were starting to wash out in a wave of despair that only seemed to increase as Eiji pulled him up and over against himself. He was utterly exhausted (no one's fault but his own, of course), but not only physically. Mentally as well, and it seemed like he was suddenly just too tired to think - or to bother caring what Eiji-sempai might think.
"Don'... wanna... cry," he mumbled stubbornly, even as the first tears escaped his eyes and rolled off the tip of his nose. This was stupid - everything was stupid, he was stupid -
He turned and buried his face against Eiji-sempai's shoulder, gripping the other's shirt and squeezing his eyes shut but it really wasn't helping to stop the tears. He couldn't even say why he was crying - just that right now, he really didn't seem to have a choice. He just hoped he'd be able to stop.
Removing the arm around Ryoma’s shoulders, Eiji instead wrapped them around his kouhai, drawing him close to his body and holding on tightly. This was the first time Eiji had ever seen Ryoma cry – even in times when the redhead would’ve thought that the younger boy would’ve, it just never happened. It was probably a matter of pride; Echizen Ryoma couldn’t cry, right? He was the star of the Seigaku tennis team and a winner at American tournaments – what was there to cry about when you had all that going for you?
A lot, that was for sure. Eiji gently rocked back and forth, his hand tangling with Ryoma’s hair lightly as he let the other cry. He wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it – as Oishi always said, crying was a sign of being a grown man – and wanted Ryoma to always know that he could go to Eiji for things like this; even if it resulted in tears. “Let it all out, Ochibi,” the redhead closed his eyes, his breathing steady even while his heart was racing. Although it wouldn’t solve anything, Eiji wanted to shelter Ryoma away from everything that was hurting him – seeing his kouhai cry almost made Eiji want to cry.
It seemed silly all at once - why was Ryoma, of all people, crying so damned hard over one little mistake? But it wasn't just one little mistake, in the end - there had been way too much going on in his life and over the past few months, he'd been feeling more and more lost. One thing had piled on top of another until he'd reached the end of what he knew how to handle. He'd finally thought things were going better, but... well, he seemed to have proven himself wrong.
Ryoma had no idea how long it went on for, but it seemed like they sat there like that for an eternity and yet not long enough at all. Eiji-sempai seemed to know exactly what to do - which wasn't much, at all, but somehow that was more than enough. Eventually, eventually, the crying had cleared his mind enough that he'd... well, pretty much stopped thinking about everything for just a few minutes, and his throat was raw and his eyes hurt from being squeezed shut so long... Ryoma blinked a few times, sniffling, but didn't move his forehead from Eiji-sempai's shoulder. Somehow he really didn't want to move yet.
Well, looked as though the crying had stopped – Ryoma wasn’t shaking, lightly, in his arms anymore thanks to the tears – but Ryoma didn’t seem to be inclined toward the idea of inching his head off Eiji’s shoulder any time soon. The redhead hoped this helped, though; crying was always a trick Eiji used to make himself feeling better after everything seemed to be going wrong – Oishi was also always right in knowing the exact time that Eiji needed that comfort that usually came along with tears, if there was another person present. Letting his cheek fall down atop Ryoma’s head, Eiji hummed a random tune under his breath, letting his kouhai take however much time he needed.
Absently, Eiji rubbed small circles on Ryoma's upper back while inwardly reminding himself to continue to make the ramen before Ryoma slugged too much after his crying. Eating had to be a top priority, once the redhead felt comfortable enough knowing that Ryoma was going to - at the very least - feel a bit better about the whole situation. "You okay, Ochibi…?” Still, he wasn’t going to force the other to move quiet yet – not until he was ready.
His nose was a little stuffed up, but that'd probably pass; Ryoma nodded slowly against Eiji-sempai's shoulder, feeling utterly drained. He wanted to go to sleep right here - but he couldn't, Eiji-sempai was making food, and it was starting to smell... well, really good, he thought, as his stomach growled loudly. Eating seemed like a lot of work, right now, but he knew he was going to have to or Eiji would force it down his throat.
Finally, Ryoma pulled away, eyes still a bit more downcast than normal as he scrubbed at his eyes, and glanced over at Eiji-sempai's shirt, a bit distressed. "... I got your shirt all wet," he mumbled numbly - he wasn't sure if this was the point or not, but he definitely felt... a bit more detached from the situation. Like he just couldn't think about it anymore at the moment, which was really a blessing in disguise. It had been all he'd thought about for the past twenty-four hours, and it was nice to have numbing static running through his mind right now.
“Don’t mind, don’t mind,” Eiji waved a hand to dismiss Ryoma’s worry, moving away from the table briefly to run a cloth under hot water and hand it back to Ryoma to wipe his face with. “Only a little tears – nothing I can’t handle.” With a small smile and a ruffle to Ryoma’s hair, Eiji settled back down on his chair and focused on the food for a moment, using the chopsticks to navigate the meat and vegetables into a bowl for the ramen, and then proceed to pour the soup broth into the bowl. He then opened the package of noodles and set them to the side – it was just a matter of waiting for the broth to boil, now.
Turning back toward Ryoma, Eiji placed a hand on his kouhai’s shoulder, squeezing gently. “How do you feel, now?” A shower would probably be good for Ryoma after eating so he could rid of the sweat that surely still lingered from the hard exertion of exercise that day, and definitely a change of clothes. Distantly, Eiji thought he should probably go change his shirt, but he couldn’t be bothered – he’d wait until it cooled down a bit more in the apartment before changing into pajamas.
Ryoma wiped off his face while Eiji-sempai dealt with the food; it did make his face feel a better, and he pressed the warm cloth over his eyes for a moment, trying to take the sting away. He glanced up when the other put a hand on his shoulder, trying to figure out the answer to his question.
"... Kinda better," he said slowly - at least, that was how he thought it felt. Everything was still wrong, but it all seemed much more distant. That didn't mean it had gone away, though - and it wasn't going to go away, much though he wished it would. But maybe now his mind would be a bit clearer, if he didn't have the energy for it to be so cluttered. "Still don't know what to do, though..." He was silent a moment more, staring at the cloth in his hand. "I mean, I can't just... apologize..." Could he? And there was still the matter of telling or not telling Akaya - he hadn't done anything, but... He just didn't know. It still felt more than a little oppressive.
Humming low in the back of his throat to show he was listening, Eiji bit on his lip and thought about it while placing the bunch of noodles into the pot to cook in the broth. He thought apologizing to Dan would probably be a good idea, but how would Dan react to it? Would he be glad that Ryoma apologized and all could go back to normal, or would it hurt him even more to know that it was purely a mistake on Ryoma’s part? Eiji wasn’t sure what Dan’s feelings on the matter was – if there were anything involved, that would be Sengoku’s forte – but was it worth risking possible hurt? It wasn’t something Eiji wanted to rule out computer, at least.
Really, it all depended on what Ryoma wanted. “Mm… well, you could apologize… you’re obviously very sorry about what you almost did and the apology may be appreciated,” the redhead cradled his cheek in his hand as he regarded Ryoma – what was the right thing to do? And, on that train of thought, Ryoma still had Akaya to think about, too. This really was a mess that just seemed to never end – first it was Yukimura, then Akaya did something stupid on his part (which, Eiji had an inkling feeling that had to do with Yukimura, but that may have just been his protectiveness over Ryoma flaring up), and then the mishap with Dan… it was frustrating for Eiji not to do anything else but to just offer words of advice and let Ryoma take them as he willed.
Stirring the noodles around with the chopsticks, Eiji watched Ryoma out of the corner of his eye, asking softly, “Are you going to tell Akaya-kun what happened, too? If it were me… I would – keeping something like that in secret will just cause more harm than not later on down the line.”
"... Yeah." Ryoma knew he should - and would, somehow - apologize, but he just... didn't know if that would fix it. Dan had been acting... well, strange, for a while now, and he desperately hoped he hadn't somehow made his best friend uncomfortable without knowing it. Dan hadn't said it was his fault, but... well, what if Dan had been lying? Ryoma sighed - it felt like they were getting farther apart, rather than closer together, and he didn't like it at all, and he wasn't sure how else to fix it, other than to keep his distance until Dan felt better about whatever it was that was bothering him.
But really, an apology for something couldn't hurt. He hoped.
Ryoma glanced to Eiji-sempai as he asked about Akaya - yeah, there was another problem. "I..." Should he tell him? Would Akaya even care? Probably - how could he not, when he'd finally agreed (because apparently he hadn't originally) to be 'exclusively Ryoma's' - how would he feel if Ryoma told him he'd almost kissed someone else, after all that? "I... guess I should," he said softly, thinking that at least he shouldn't keep it a secret. Maybe if he admitted his mistakes, and quickly, maybe Akaya wouldn't...
He didn't want Akaya to leave him. And he'd been worried about it since he'd found out about Akaya and Yukimura. What else could he do? He couldn't help but think he still wasn't good enough - Akaya hadn't slept with him, after all, even after another month of dating. And while Ryoma wasn't about to just jump into bed solely to prove some useless point... He shook his head in frustration. He just didn't know anymore.
Ryoma really liked Akaya – that much was apparent to Eiji. But, he still thought that telling Akaya would be the right thing to do before he found out by some other secondhand source; which, in retrospect, probably wouldn’t happen considering Eiji doubted many people actually knew of what happened, but the slight possibility was still there. “You should,” Eiji agreed, moved away from the table to retrieve two bowls from the cupboard and two sets of chopsticks. “It’s the right thing to do and I’d do the same thing.”
The noodles were ready, now, and Eiji took that opportunity to place the vegetables and meat back into the pot and set it low to simmer for when Oishi came home. Ramen wasn’t exactly what he was expecting to make for dinner that night, but at least it allowed him time to talk to Ryoma without having to focus too heavily on the food – and at least it tasted good, too. “Here, Ochibi,” the redhead scooped the ramen into the two bowls, making sure the additions to the soup sat on top, and scooted one bowl close to Ryoma, the chopsticks soon following. “Now eat up, kiddo.” Eiji smiled, reaching over to ruffle Ryoma’s hair again (a habit he would surely have to break someday) – but, he liked it when his kouhai didn’t wear his hat.
"Yeah," Ryoma said quietly, watching Eiji-sempai dole out two portions of ramen into the bowls. "I will." He did owe that to Akaya, at least, if nothing else. Maybe Akaya would care and maybe he wouldn't, but all that mattered in the end was that Ryoma told him, because keeping it a secret probably wasn't the way to do things. And if Eiji-sempai thought it was a good idea... well, Ryoma trusted his judgment, even if he'd never actually told his sempai that. And if Akaya didn't want to see him anymore... well, then he'd respect that. He hoped that wouldn't be the case, though, because now things were so awkward with Dan and Akaya was the only person aside from Dan and Momo-sempai who was close in age that Ryoma talked to much, anymore. He'd never had many friends, but now that he had a few he didn't want to lose any more of them because of his own freaking stupidity.
"Thanks," he muttered as a bowl arrived before him, glancing down and picking up the chopsticks, consulting the food for a moment before pulling a bit out of the bowl and chewing on it slowly, letting Eiji-sempai ruffle his hair without comment just this once. "... S'good," he mumbled after a moment, taking another bite, and another. He was both ravenous and not hungry all at the same time, but the food was good and maybe it would take his mind off things. And he really hadn't eaten all day, and his head was aching from the combination of that and the crying and he wanted to alleviate at least some of the pressure behind his eyes.
Starting on his own bowl of ramen, Eiji smiled and nodded. “I’m glad.” After Ryoma ate, the redhead thought that him having a shower and then relaxing on the couch would be a good idea – maybe get a nap in before heading off to bed – and if it meant Ryoma accidentally sleeping over that night, Eiji was sure Oishi wouldn’t mind; not like he would disturb anything. Glancing down at his own noodles, Eiji stared hard as he stirred the noodles around in the broth, poking at the food lying on top. He was glad Ryoma felt like he could come see his senpai for advice, and tell him of all the problems happening in the current moment. There weren’t many people who would consider Eiji their first choice, and it brought a small smile to Eiji’s lips – and he really missed spending a lot of time with Ryoma.
“After you’re finished, why don’t you go for a shower? I’m sure I can find something ‘round here that would fit you.” There had to be some sort of clothing around that would fit the younger boy. Probably be a tad too large, but at least it would be better than the sweaty tennis gear Ryoma still had on. Scooping up a few long noodles, Eiji slurped them up and fell quiet, letting them both finish the meal without many more interruptions of speech unless Ryoma wanted to.
They ate in relative silence; Ryoma suddenly felt devoid of both words and energy, and though the ramen helped a little, when the bowl was near empty he suddenly wondered if he'd actually eaten it all, and why he didn't feel all that much different from when he'd started. But no matter - Eiji-sempai's suggestion of a shower was sounding better and better. He felt six times as gross as usual, like he was still dirty from the incident, along with the grime he'd collected from an entire day of playing tennis, not to mention the way his eyes and throat and nose still felt raw from crying.
"Yeah," he finally agreed, pushing the bowl away a little with not much left in it. He knew he should help with the dishes or something - after all, he did realize he was putting Eiji-sempai (and Oishi-sempai, by default) out more than a little, but he barely had the energy to stand up and push the chair back under the table. "Wouldn't mind a shower," he said, though he felt much more strongly about showering than he was letting on.
A quick glance at Ryoma and Eiji nodded, pushing away from the table and leaving the room to grab a towel for his kouhai, double checking to make sure the bathroom was clean – Eiji thought he accidentally left his towel on the floor from his shower that morning, but looks like he was wrong – and go back to the table. “Okay, here,” the redhead extended his arm with the towel, waiting for Ryoma to grab it, and then pick up the bowl with the nearly gone ramen. “The shampoo and stuff is in the shower, if you want to use it – take as long as you’d like, ‘kay?” With another grin, Eiji watched Ryoma exit the room and followed suit, going into his and Oishi’s bedroom to retrieve a blanket and pillow that the younger boy could use on the couch.
Ryoma nodded his thanks, taking the towel from Eiji-sempai and heading for the bathroom, closing the door and slowly peeling off his sweaty clothes, twisting the faucet and waiting for the water to warm up a bit before stepping into the shower.
The water felt... well, in a way, it felt liberating. As long as he was in here, he didn't have to worry about anything outside Eiji-sempai's tiny bathroom walls. Ryoma leaned against the cold tile for a good long while, letting the water run over him and just thinking about... absolutely nothing for as long as he could manage it.
But eventually he realized he couldn't stay in here forever and reluctantly pushed off the wall, washing his hair quickly and running the soap over his skin until he felt a little cleaner. Reluctantly again, he finally turned the water off and stepped out of the shower, drying off his hair before wrapping the towel around his waist and cracking the door to see if Eiji-sempai had any clothes he could borrow.
Meanwhile, with clothes hanging over his arm – he had managed to find a pair of sweatpants with a drawstring that had shrunk due to one too many washes in the washing machine, and a t-shirt that was a tad smaller than what Eiji typically liked to wear – Eiji settled a soft blanket and pillow on the couch before he heard the bathroom door creek open and saw a head poke around the corner. “Here, Ochibi,” Eiji called out, moving toward the bathroom and waited for Ryoma to open the door a bit to pass off the clothes.
Ryoma looked… a bit on the skinny side – at least, more than he usually did. With everything going on, lately, the younger boy probably wasn’t eating as much as he should with the amount of practicing Ryoma had been doing lately. Reaching over to poke the skin right underneath his ribs, the redhead gave a small wink, saying teasingly before exiting the bathroom, “Mou, Ochibi, you better make sure you start eating more before you disappear into nothing.” Truthfully, Eiji wasn’t much better – for years, he had been told to eat more to gain some weight, but with the tennis and acrobatics, there was just no way to keep fat on his body.
Ryoma squirmed a little at the poke - damn, he was ticklish, he didn't like people doing that, but it was Eiji-sempai, and he wasn't doing it to be mean, and he wasn't quite reprimanding him for not eating enough, so Ryoma didn't complain. He just nodded and shut the bathroom door, knowing that he should be eating better but not quite able to bring himself to care right at this moment. He pulled on the clothes the other had given him - still a tad too large, but not too bad a fit, overall.
He hung up the towel and folded his clothes, carrying them out of the bathroom with him into the living room, where he saw that Eiji-sempai had put a blanket and pillow on the couch, and realized that he desperately wanted nothing more than to collapse on it and not wake up for a long, long time.
Dropping his clothes onto the floor beside the couch, Ryoma sank onto it, leaning back and closing his eyes a minute, trying to convince himself to move the rest of the way to the pillow. He felt utterly drained, as he finally blinked a few times and moved enough to lay with his head on the pillow, breathing in its comforting scent of clean and finally feeling a little better. "... Thanks, Eiji-sempai," he murmured, feeling stupid, wishing none of this had ever happened but thankful all the same that his sempai had taken it all in stride and hadn't made a big deal out of any of it. That meant a lot.
Pushing Ryoma’s clothing out of the way, the redhead settled to his knees on the floor next to the couch, tugging on the edge of the blanket to let it comfortably cover the younger boy, and let a small smile grace his lips. There wasn’t a reason for Ryoma to thank Eiji for this – Eiji never needed a thank you when it came to helping out his friends in time of need – but, he appreciated it all the same.
“You’re welcome, Ochibi,” Eiji brushed Ryoma’s bangs off his forehead and held them there for a moment. “And, thank you for feeling you could come to me with this – I really hope I’ve been able to help.” With that, the redhead tilted his head down a bit to press a kiss to Ryoma’s forehead before slipping his hand away and letting the bangs obscure the place he just kissed. “Sleep well, Ryoma – and don’t worry if you end up crashing here for the night.” A fond grin and Eiji ruffled his kouhai’s hair for the last time that night.
Ryoma was very nearly already drifting when he blinked at the touch, feeling his cheeks color uncharacteristically and curling up a little tighter. He wasn't good at stuff like this - he was better at showing than saying, but Eiji-sempai probably already knew that, anyway. And he seemed glad enough that Ryoma'd come; Ryoma was, in a way, glad he'd come too. If he hadn't, he'd probably be lying awake in his own bed now, feeling worse and not getting any sleep at all.
But that wasn't the case any more. "... Yeah," he whispered, eyes closing again, not caring if he did end up spending the night, not worried about getting up at all the next morning, just wanting the oblivion sleep would bring and feeling somehow very safe here, on Eiji- and Oishi-sempai's couch, knowing even if he was asleep, he wouldn't have to be alone at all.
It can be assumed that Ryoma's mom phoned his cellphone, wondering where her son ran off to, and got just a brief explanation from Eiji - and that Ryoma would just be spending the night there. Then, after that, Oishi came home, they finished off the ramen, moved to the bedroom (to not disturb Ryoma, you perverts) where Eiji would then explain to Oishi why Ryoma was sleeping on their couch, and then eventually drop off to sleep, as well. And then, in true Eiji fashion, he'd probably jump on Ryoma or something to wake him up in the morning, and probably make an early breakfast before getting him to go home and then hopefully off to school.