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Between Neck Noodles and Lovers

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The sun dips into the west, yet sleep still weighs heavy on Ritsu’s eyelids as he shifts to study the people around him. Down on the landing platform, planes come, planes go, and none of the people sitting here have any influence over the pace at which that happens. Not the woman across from him, hushing the toddler that swats impatiently at her knee, not the businessman looking between his watch and window, not the boys that whisper over their game systems — and most of all, not even their precious Ou-sama.

Seeeeena!!”

Turning away from his fellow bystanders, Ritsu finds Leo almost immediately. He stands out in the same way he always does, like a bright flame against the airport’s bleak greys. Izumi walks beside him, gripping Leo’s hand far too tightly for a mere public display of affection. Craning back over his chair, Ritsu watches them come down the pathway. Leo’s gaze is trained on something out of Ritsu’s sight, and Ritsu bites back the laugh bubbling in his throat when Izumi’s strides grow faster, longer.

Even after so many years, the two of them are an entertaining sight together.

(A sight that Ritsu will never get sick of.)

It isn’t until they come to Ritsu’s side that he notices the coffee in Izumi’s other hand. That’s... Weird. Normally Izumi would do whatever he could to avoid the stuff — not to mention how much he bitches about the effects caffeine has on a person’s skin — but there’s no mistaking Starbucks’ logo or the strong waft of espresso coming from his cup.

“What happened?” he asks, shuffling to let Leo to drop onto his own seat. He has to wait for Izumi to hike down the facemask enough to drink, so he adds, “I thought you wanted a smoothie or something.”

“Line-up was too long,” Izumi says, glaring pointedly at the coffee as though it’s personally to blame. Behind him, Ritsu sees the woman’s brow crease, gaze flicking up to them for just a moment — trying to figure out where she recognizes their voices from, no doubt. “And then someone decided to tell me he forgot his — ”

“Neck noodle!” Leo finishes.

“Travel pillow.”

“We could have bought one!” Leo protests, seemingly undeterred. “We have lots of time ‘til the — ”

“I’m not letting you spend your stupid money on some stupid pillow just because you didn’t bring your own,” Izumi snaps. Ah, Ritsu thinks, wry smile spreading. Here they go again. “We’re on a budget here, remember? You can live without it.”

Leo wails again, and the woman’s toddler decides to join him. Ritsu watches as he always does, watching as the furrow of Izumi’s brows deepens and his lips purse. His grip on his coffee tightens, and Ritsu bites down more laughter as Izumi clearly tries to decide which one of them he rather throw the drink at.

(He takes one more level sip of it, seemingly deciding on neither.)

“Secchan probably packed extra, anyway,” Ritsu says, soon as Leo allows him to. His gaze flicks from Izumi’s face to focus on the bag in the corner of his vision — the others had left him with their stuff when they went to find Izumi a drink, and he just so happened to find three pillows shoved into Izumi’s while looking for a pack of mints. “He doesn’t trust us to do our own packing, mm?”

“It’s not that,” Izumi says, too defensively, too quickly. “You’re just...”

He stops, squinting as Leo starts craning around Ritsu to reach for Izumi’s bag himself. As he’s forced to press against the seat, Ritsu finds his gaze shifting once again, this time to study Leo. Even now, so many years after graduating and of living with Izumi, Leo still undeniably smells like a boy. It’s refreshing, though, especially in comparison to the sterile blandness of their surroundings, especially when the smell does nothing but remind Ritsu of home.

Leo’s hunt for the pillows is rather short-lived. When it becomes clear that Ritsu doesn’t intend on helping him reach them, he sighs defeatedly, leaning back and allowing his hand to fall overtop of Ritsu’s own. Idly, Ritsu thinks he must be getting tired, and spares one glance to the watch Izumi had wrestled onto his wrist.

There’s another three hours before they’ll even start boarding.

Ritsu sighs, leaning further into Leo’s side and twisting his wrist to intertwine their fingers. Just barely, Leo’s hand squeezes his, and Ritsu isn’t blind to how Izumi’s gaze drops to where they hold each other.

And, of course, neither is Leo.

“I should have known Sena has everything under control,” Leo hums, patting the space beside him with his free hand. “You’re always taking such good care of us! Like our very own mama!”

“I’ve told you thousands of times, it’s weird when you call me that,” Izumi huffs, but sits down nonetheless. Leo’s free hand finds Izumi’s, and Ritsu can’t help but cock his brows as half the tension seems to leave Izumi’s shoulders. “And stop saying my name so loud. People will hear you.”

“Maybe they’ll want our autographs,” Leo says. He nods to the toddler across from them, who does nothing but stare right back at him. “What about that kid? Do you think he’s a fan?”

“Your genius is too great for his age, Ou~sama,” Ritsu replies, shifting to bury his nose in Leo’s hair. “Maybe his mama, though.”

Izumi shoots him a look over Leo’s head. Ritsu merely smiles.

“Do you think they’ll recognize us in America?” Leo muses. Somehow, he sounds less excited than he did about the toddler. “I don’t wanna wear a facemaaaask — they’re too stuffy.”

“You should be wearing one now,” Izumi says. “People are more likely to recognize us here than there...” Even as Ritsu begins to drift off, there’s no missing the wary glance that Izumi shoots the woman across from them. He takes another careful sip of his coffee, distractedly thumbing at his own mask.

Leo watches the movement with an attentiveness most wouldn’t expect from him, slow smile curling across his lips. He shifts suddenly, and Ritsu sways far too quickly. If not for looking up at that same moment, Ritsu would have missed the kiss entirely. It’s a quick thing, a chaste thing, just a quick peck that has Izumi flushing and stammering when Leo pulls back with an even wider smile.

“With facemasks, we can't do that!”

“We shouldn’t be doing that,” Izumi manages. Leo frowns, brows quirking downward, and Izumi sighs. “Not here, anyway.”

For once, Leo doesn’t say anything.

“Ou~sa~maaaa,” Ritsu whines, when the silence stretches too long to be entirely comfortable. He shuffles, trying to position himself so he can lean against Leo in the same way as before, but to no avail. Maybe he should take one of the pillows from Izumi’s bag himself. “You’re not being a good pillow —”

The rest of his complaint is cut off abruptly as Leo shifts yet again, this time to press his lips to Ritsu’s. Just as Leo and Izumi’s kiss had been, it’s a quick and chaste thing, though Ritsu suspects that the angle in this case makes it a tad more awkward. He isn’t given the chance to reciprocate before Leo is leaning back, grin somehow splitting even wider than before. “If Rittsu is lonely, he should just say so!”

“I wasn’t,” Ritsu says, honestly. “I just wanna sleep, but Ou~sama’s being mean and moving too much...”

“Of course,” Izumi mutters.

“Wahh, now?” Leo says. “There’ll be lots of time to sleep on the plane, right?”

“Mmm...” Once again, Ritsu nuzzles closer to Leo. “But the flight’s at night, so if we both nap now we can have fun then...”

“Just what are you planning...” Izumi starts, though he trails off as Leo begins to lean further against him. He bites down on his lip, hardly audible as he continues, “Really, where do you think we are?”

“You’ll look after us like always, right?” Ritsu pipes up. He doesn’t give Izumi the chance to reply before sleepily adding, “Thanks, Secchan... I love you~”

“What...”

“Me too!” Leo says. Truth be told, Ritsu thought he might have already dozed off. “I love Sena and Rittsu lots...”

“If you’re going to sleep,” Izumi says, “Then shut up and sleep.”

He doesn’t really have to say that he loves them, too.