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from the lips to the tongue

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Izumi yawns long before Ritsu does. He tries to stifle it, trying to disguise it as swallowing an inconvenient lump in his throat, but it’s no use. Ritsu never misses any of Izumi’s tells, couldn’t miss any when the display of Izumi’s face is all he presently focuses on. The yawn prompts his attention to shift, however, drawing his eyes to the corner of his screen. ‘1:21am,’ he reads. His lips and brows both quirk upward.

“Tired already?” Ritsu asks, just loud enough for his mic to catch. He looks past Izumi, to the pale daylight still filtering into his apartment, and can’t help the teasing lilt that worms into his tone as he adds, “It doesn’t even look like the sun has set~”

“Mm...” Izumi allows, shifting a little in his chair. His hand moves from where it’s propped against his cheek, seemingly in an attempt to obscure Ritsu’s view of his mouth as another yawn threatens to slip through. It’s another pointless attempt, Ritsu thinks, though he’s always endeared by Izumi trying. “I’m not, really... But after sitting in one place for so long...” He looks to something outside of the camera’s scope, lips twisting. “And seeing things on your end is throwing me off.”

“Oh,” says Ritsu. The twinge of disappointment he feels is silly, considering he’s already monopolized Izumi’s time for hours. Still, this one call took so much effort to organize — is it so wrong, for Ritsu to want more of Izumi’s company? “Does that mean you wanna hang up soon...?”

“We should, right? You ought to be asleep by now, and I need to make dinner.”

“Ehh... I wanna watch you cook~” Ritsu’s voice pitches into a whine. “Bring the laptop to the kitchen!”

“Kuma-kun.”

“Mm-hm?”

“You know what I’m going to say,” Izumi says, slowly, as if talking to an uncooperative child. Ritsu pouts, at which Izumi only scoffs. “You still have a responsibility to Kasa-kun and the others. And... Ugh, I don’t want you to collapse or something annoying again, okay? Go to sleep.”

A soft sigh escapes Ritsu as he slumps forward, eyes pressing closed. He knows that Izumi is right, of course. The last thing he wants is to inconvenience Knights by reverting to his old schedule. As much as Ritsu likes being fretted over and taken care of, he is trying to pull his own weight — now more than ever, with Izumi and Leo out of the picture.

“Okay,” Ritsu says, after the silence has dragged on just a moment too long. Drawing his blankets a little closer around himself, he peers back up at Izumi, slowly blinking in that lazy, coy way that he knows will get to him. “I’ll sleep.”

“But?” Izumi deadpans.

An amused chuckle threatens to break Ritsu’s posed pout. Once again, his tone is playful and teasing as he replies, “But I thiiink... Secchan should give me a kiss first. I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep otherwise...”

Soon as the word “kiss” leaves Ritsu’s lips, Izumi’s posture becomes absolutely rigid. His mouth opens, then closes, and Ritsu delights in the way his cheeks and ears pinken. Oh, how he would love to brush his fingers over the flushed skin, feeling the warmth of Izumi’s blush as it rises — but for now, this much will have to do. “W-what,” Izumi manages, jolting Ritsu out of his thoughts and fantasies, “What kind of bullshit is that? Since when have you ever needed help getting to sleep?”

“Dunnoo,” Ritsu sing-songs. “Don’t you wanna kiss me, though? I am your boyfriend...”

“It’s not that I don’t want to,” Izumi mutters. Despite practically baiting him into saying so, Ritsu’s heart still skips a beat. “I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there is a screen and, I don’t know, ten thousand kilometres or so between us.”

“That’s fine,” says Ritsu. “If we kiss the camera at the same time, it’s kinda the same thing.”

“What the hell... That’s not the same thing at all.” Contrary to what he says, Izumi starts fidgeting in his seat, crystalline blue eyes narrowing as he focuses on his computer’s camera. “It sounds super unhygienic, actually.”

Ritsu shuffles a little closer. “Secchan.”

A beat passes. Izumi sucks in a breath, considering, thinking. Ritsu waits, studying the tension in his face and shoulders. It’s only a matter of time before Izumi gives. Aaalways, he ends up being drawn into Ritsu’s pace.

“Okay.” Straightening, Izumi’s gaze returns to Ritsu’s face. “Since you’re being such a pain in the ass about it. On the count of three.”

“Oh? Are you counting?”

“Obviously. I’m the one...” Izumi pauses, sucking in his bottom lip before hesitantly continuing, “I’m the one giving you a kiss, right? So I’ll count.”

Ritsu doesn’t even try to stop the grin that spreads across his face at that. “Sounds good~ On the count of three, then.”

“A-alright.” Swallowing thickly, Izumi begins to lean forward. As a slow “one...” escapes him, his eyes flutter closed. Ritsu watches, fascinated by the slight, experimental pucker of Izumi’s lips. “Two... You better be following my lead, Kuma-kun.”

“Of course I am,” Ritsu says. It’s a lie — an easy one, no less — but being called out prompts him to move as he’s supposed to. At Izumi’s third count, Ritsu’s own lips meet the camera.

Izumi was right, in saying that this wouldn’t be anything like an actual kiss. The cold plastic of Ritsu’s computer is a far, disappointing cry from the warmth of Izumi’s skin against his. The computer doesn’t give into his press, doesn’t melt or sigh contently at his touch. Nothing about this makes up for the distance.

And yet, when Ritsu draws back to find that Izumi still hasn’t pulled away, he almost wants to lean back in.

“Secchan,” Ritsu hums at last, both entertained and endeared by how quickly Izumi jolts backward. His cheeks flare, much more intense than before, almost red as the roses that Ritsu’s family find so rejuvenating. If he sunk his teeth into Izumi’s scarlet skin, would he be energized just the same? “Thanks~ I’m so lucky, dating such a great kisser~”

“Whatever,” Izumi grumbles, clearly too embarrassed to argue. “I did what you wanted. Stop wasting my time and go to sleep.”

Ritsu laughs, quiet and all-too-fond. “Yes, yes... Sweet dreams to you, too, Secchan.”

And as the computer clicks to signify the call’s end, Ritsu finally yawns as well.