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The sound of a slamming door woke Ryuunosuke from his nap. By now, he’d learnt not to panic waking up in this position. The darkness was still unnerving, but he stayed silent and listened for familiar footfalls. And there they were, sounding a bit low in energy compared to usual. He could even start to tell these details. He wondered if his hearing was getting sharper…and as he thought this, he heard the paper being peeled off of the closet door in front of him.

“Welcome back,” he yawned, rubbing his eyes as the opening door bathed him in light. Asougi looked grumpy, and Ryuunosuke could already start to infer why. “Is it…?”

“Chicken again,” his friend finished the sentence with a grimace. He moved aside to make room for Ryuunosuke to climb out. “Help yourself.”

The scent of dinner wafted over, and Ryuunosuke instantly felt his mouth water. He restrained himself from tumbling out of the closet in his eagerness. Stretch the legs first, then roll the shoulders back…he had a whole routine already figured out. He was still young and spry, but not so much to completely shrug off the effects of sitting in a hard, cramped space for long periods of time. While he was so looking forward to devouring that chicken, he paused to throw a worried look at his friend, who’d just laid himself down on the bed. Sulking.

“Will you be alright, Asougi?”

“I’ll feel better after you eat it all. It smells too delicious…”

Ryuunosuke winced. The last time they served chicken, Asougi was actually hungry enough to try some. He couldn’t even stomach one bite. Poor guy…

“At least come eat the vegetables!”

There was a long pause, then a sigh. Asougi got up and made his way to the table. Ryuunosuke was already hurriedly consuming a drumstick - he left the utensils for his friend. This specific situation really wasn’t his fault, but he couldn’t help but feel bad. Asougi had to share half of his food with him, after all, and he always insisted on splitting it perfectly. Those servings never lasted. And Ryuunosuke, who conserved his energy by sitting around in the closet most of the day, always got hungry hours too early. He couldn’t fathom what his friend, who had to run around and do actual work, was going through.

“Hey, Asougi…it really doesn’t feel fair to you, when I get to eat all the chicken,” Ryuunosuke said with a frown. “You can eat all of breakfast, if you want. Don’t you need the energy more than I do?”

“It’s fine. I can bear with it,” Asougi insisted, popping a piece of carrot in his mouth.

“At the very least, eat more of it this time. Please?”

“Alright, alright. I will…now, could you eat that faster? I can only breathe through my mouth for so long.” Ryuunosuke gave him a little smile.

“Right! I’m on it!”

Ryuunosuke lost count of how many meals there’d been so far. It was hard to tell time when he spent most of these days in literal darkness. How many days had it been? A week, maybe? Asougi definitely knew, but it didn’t matter enough to Ryuunosuke to ask. Knowing that this was a fifty day trip, maybe it was better to lose track of time. Just bear with it, and you’ll get there before you know it. That was his thought process. Still, he did his best to keep a vague sense of the days.

If he were honest, though, going half-hungry everyday was pretty terrible. Maybe they should’ve packed some snacks, if only Asougi’s luggage could’ve fit them along with everything else. Oh well, at the next port - Shanghai, if he remembered correctly? - his friend could hopefully go get some. The sense that they were no longer in Japan was still a difficult feeling to get used to. Hearing all the muffled Russian and English being spoken around him made it feel like he’d stepped into another world. But, well, he just needed a bit more time for it to properly sink in.

After dinner, Ryuunosuke took a little walk - though he wasn’t sure it could be called a walk when he was just pacing around in the same room. Asougi sat at his desk, recording the events of the day in his journal. Their days on this ship passed like this, strangely mundane. Everything went like clockwork. Ryuunosuke walked around after every dinner, ducked into the closet when the sailors came to gather the dishware, then continued walking around and hung out until he climbed back into the closet again to go to sleep. The thrilling concept of being a stowaway, breaking rules and dodging authorities, somehow turned pretty casual in the end. That was fine, too - Ryuunosuke couldn’t take that much excitement anyway.

“So, how are you holding up, partner?” Asougi asked from his desk, and Ryuunosuke frowned towards him.

“I should be asking you that…but I feel just fine.”

“No crippling back pains or anything?”

“Don’t say it like that. I’m not an old man, y’know.” Ryuunosuke made a face. But he did do a little stretch at the mention of it. “Obviously, I’m a little sore. That closet isn’t meant for sitting in, after all.” Asougi gave a thoughtful hum.

“I see…do you think you could really sleep in there for fifty nights straight?”

“Er, well, it’s hard to imagine it. I’m sure it’d be fine, though.”

Asougi looked at the closet, deep in thought. Then, without saying anything, he got up, opened its doors, and climbed in. Ryuunosuke blinked.

“WH- what’re you doing?!” He remembered to watch his volume at the last second. Asougi sighed, adjusting himself to lean upright against the side.

“Sating a curiosity.” He folded his arms, just sitting there for a moment. Then, he grimaced. “This is terrible.”

“It’s not that bad, really! It’s way better than your luggage.”

“Hmm…could you stand it better since you’re thinner and squishier?” Ryuunosuke made a disgruntled noise.

“S…squishier…I don’t know, but it’s pretty spacious. It feels like both of us could fit in there at the same time.” Those words seemed to pique Asougi’s interest, and Ryuunosuke regretted saying them immediately. But it was too late. His friend gestured at him.

“Get over here.”

With a bit of fussing and scrambling, Ryuunosuke managed to fit himself on the other side of the crowded closet. He almost kicked his friend getting in. It was awkward with their legs all tangled up. And now that his back was pressed hard against the wall, he was wondering why he even agreed to this. He pulled a face.

“…Now this is terrible.”

His friend let out a snort, and before he could react, Asougi threw his head back and laughed, loud as usual. Ryuunosuke felt like he almost broke his legs scrambling closer to slap a hand over his friend’s mouth.

“I-it’s not that funny!” he exclaimed in a hushed voice. Though even as he said that, he was struggling to keep his own laugh from escaping. Somehow Asougi was dying, clutching Ryuunosuke’s shoulders and leaning in as he shook in silent laughter. And then his stomach growled, loudly.

“Ah, fuck,” he grumbled against Ryuunosuke's hand, still with a bit of laughter in him. Ryuunosuke almost started laughing again, but sealed his lips tightly together. Shut up!! It’s not that funny!! Really, he should be worried.

“A-are you alright?? Sorry.” He didn’t know what the apology was for, exactly, but it slipped out anyway. Asougi huffed. He grabbed Ryuunosuke’s wrist. Momentarily, his lips pressed firmly against his palm - Ryuunosuke’s eyes widened, and just like that, his face was on fire. Then Asougi turned his hand, opened his mouth, about to bite down--

Ryuunosuke jolted against the closet wall behind him and let out a strangled shriek (as quietly as possible), and his friend snorted, letting go of his wrist.

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding,” he reassured with a low chuckle. He swung his legs out of the closet, giving them a little stretch before returning to his feet. Ryuunosuke sat there, stunned for a moment - for some reason, his heart was pounding out of his chest. But thankfully, his friend didn’t seem to notice. “Well, sitting in that position does seem to help with hunger pains, at least.”

“Y…yeah, it kinda does,” Ryuunosuke managed to reply, shaking off his strange feeling.

“But you won’t have any tonight, huh?”

“Oh, I guess not…?”

“How about you take a break from it, then?” Asougi sat on the edge of the bed, giving it a pat. “There’s enough room for you. Definitely still not the best, but at least it’s more comfortable.”

"…Eh?" Ryuunosuke stared blankly. "Uh, where would you sleep, though?" His friend gave an odd look.

"Next to you?"

"……EH?" Asougi grinned wryly.

"I don't think I can be nearly as tolerant of the closet as you. But like I said, there's enough room here to fit the two of us." Well, the logic checked out, but Ryuunosuke didn't know why his mind was coming up blank right now.

"Uh…s-sleep next to you…?" His friend raised an eyebrow.

"Do you want to or not?"

"Y-yeah?" Ryuunosuke blurted it out without thinking. His mind was struggling to keep up. "Er! I mean, a break from the closet sounds nice, so, sure!" Asougi smiled - he seemed almost relieved that his suggestion wasn't rejected.

"Good! Hope you can get a nice, proper rest."

"Yeah…" was all Ryuunosuke could manage, sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck. He should've been elated that he got to sleep in an actual bed for once, but he didn't know why he also felt nervous. It wasn't like the two of them hadn't slept next to each other in the same room before. Or even in the same futon once, he recalled. How was this any different? He tried his best not to think too much about it, shoving his anxieties away.

Come bedtime, after the sailors had done their last cleanup and check in for the night, Ryuunosuke heard the paper on the closet door peel off again. There was only a dim, flickering candlelight to illuminate the room now, and he could just make out the outline of his friend's silhouette.

"Still awake, partner? You didn't doze off, did you?"

"Almost," Ryuunosuke admitted with a light chuckle. His friend scoffed.

"I really don't know how you do it, in an uncomfortable space like this."

"I don't know, either…I just like to sleep, I guess."

"Hah. Come on." Asougi reached out, taking Ryuunosuke's hand. They got him out of the closet carefully. Ryuunosuke had to feel around a bit to make sure he wasn't about to trip on anything. Though it was clear that Asougi wouldn't allow that to happen, anyway, holding onto him firmly as they walked to the bed. Ryuunosuke sat on the edge, pulling his shoes off, and Asougi strode back to the desk.

"I've got a bit more work to do - you go ahead and get comfortable."

"Oh, alright."

Asougi's stomach growled as he went to sit down, and he gave an irritated grunt. Ryuunosuke frowned at his back. He had to resist asking him if he was alright again. They couldn't do anything to fix his empty stomach until breakfast came in the morning, after all. Come to think of it, with their last chicken dinner, Ryuunosuke recalled being able to hear Asougi's stomach growling even when sitting in the closet. It made him feel really sorry for him. But, doing his best to ignore it, he climbed into bed.

Once he was there with an actual blanket over him and something soft to lay on, he finally realised how much he missed sleeping properly. The pillow was still a bit awkward, elevated by a stack of law books. He remembered Asougi complaining a while ago that it'd sat too low, and that this was his makeshift solution. While Ryuunosuke agreed that without the books, it'd feel like he was laying his head on the ground, this was also rigid and uncomfortable. Beggars couldn't be choosers, though. He'd fall asleep fine, either way. Making sure he was laying as far to the left of the bed as possible, leaving Asougi plenty of room for later, he tucked in. Watching his friend's back as he worked under the soft glow of warm light, he soon drifted off.

He woke up several times after that. The first was when Asougi finally retired to bed. He'd nudged Ryuunosuke awake, fussing about the fact that he'd hogged all of the blanket. Ryuunosuke apologised drowsily, relinquishing as much of it as he could. Though when Asougi scooted closer to him, suddenly Ryuunosuke felt wide awake.

"Goodnight," his friend murmured. He could feel his gentle breath on his face.

"N-night," he replied, blinking. The room was pitch black now, but he could feel from their breaths that Asougi's face was dangerously close to his own. Well, there really wasn't much room, right? This bed was built for one person. They had to squeeze in if they didn't want any body parts hanging off the sides. Asougi's stomach growled again. He sighed.

"Sorry."

"Uh- it's fine, really," Ryuunosuke insisted. No, the thing that was keeping him awake was definitely not that. But he was too nervous to point out what was bothering him. Asougi's stomach cried out a few more times, as the minutes ticked away. But finally after a while, Asougi clicked his tongue.

There was a prolonged shift, and the breath on Ryuunosuke's face disappeared. He blinked again, waiting, but all he felt now was a comfortable warm breeze. Oh. Asougi must've turned and faced the other way. He resisted a sigh of relief, since it seemed like his friend was still awake. Would he really be alright? Ryuunosuke stopped himself from asking, yet again. Asougi would fall asleep eventually, he told himself.

On the other hand, this breeze felt really, really nice. Ryuunosuke was greatly relaxed by it, though after a year and a half, he was still questioning how it was able to exist. Nevertheless, it did wonders on his sleeplessness just now, and he soon drifted off again.

The next few times he woke up, it was just for brief moments. He wasn't even sure what had disturbed him, at first. But after about the third time, he realised that it was Asougi shifting around again. He'd disregarded it the first few times, but after the fifth, he'd started to feel worried. What time was it? Didn't Asougi always get up around dawn everyday? Was he going to get any sleep? Ryuunosuke couldn't just ignore it anymore.

"Asougi?"

"Oh- did I wake you, partner? Sorry."

"It's fine," he insisted again. "Are you…gonna be alright? Is there anything I can do to help?"

"No, no. Don't worry yourself. Just-" Asougi was interrupted by his own growling stomach, again. He let out an exasperated sigh. There was a strange repeating thump. Ryuunosuke frowned, and it took him a moment to realise what it was. Was Asougi…punching himself??

"H-hey, don't do that!!"

Without thinking, he shoved his arm over Asougi's side, trying to find and grab his hand to stop him. But instead, he found himself pressing his outstretched palm against Asougi's bruised stomach. His friend stiffened at the touch, his sharp inhale akin to a gasp. Ryuunosuke yelped, face heating up as he quickly withdrew his hand.

"S-sorr-!!"

But before he could pull away, Asougi roughly grabbed his hand. For a split second, Ryuunosuke thought he was angry, bracing for…something. But then, Asougi simply placed it back where it'd touched, squeezing it against his stomach.

"…Stay." It was only a faint whisper, but it felt somehow desperate. Ryuunosuke was frozen for a few seconds, hearing his heart pound in his ears. He didn't realise he'd started holding his breath, too afraid to make a sound. Asougi's hand was quivering, ever so slightly, against his. Slowly, his body relaxed. His mind was a jumble of thoughts, undecipherable even to himself, so he shut his eyes and threw them away, allowing it to go blank. Just do what feels right, said the last thought rattling in his head. He wrapped his arm snuggly around his friend.

"Okay," he finally answered. Asougi released a soft sigh, fingers intertwining with Ryuunosuke's. He curled up a bit more - trying to stave off the hunger pains, no doubt - but with that, his back pressed against Ryuunosuke's chest and also trapped his other hand under his side. Ryuunosuke hesitated, not knowing what to do with that. He wiggled his fingers a little bit, uncertainly, and Asougi responded in an instant, snatching that hand and pulling it to his front as well. Ryuunosuke made a confused, flustered noise. But gingerly, he wrapped that arm around Asougi too, hugging him gently. "Is…is this alright?"

"Mm." Asougi sounded exhausted, but comfortable. He cradled Ryuunosuke's forearms in encouragement, the tender touch giving rise to goosebumps.

Now that that was settled, both of them seemed to be in comfortable positions. Ryuunosuke was still in an inner turmoil, questioning what he was doing right now and if it was really alright and why his heart was still beating so hard and-

But he could hear Asougi's slow breathing and feel his hands relax. His crying stomach had fallen silent at last. All of Ryuunosuke's worries melted away, replaced with relief as he released a quiet sigh. Thank goodness, his friend was finally able to fall asleep. He realised now that that was the thing that mattered most to him. So long as Asougi was alright, everything else was a trivial matter.

Now Ryuunosuke was afraid to move a single muscle, dreading that he'll wake his friend after all that trouble. But, again, that warm breeze was working wonders on him. With drooping eyes, he gradually became, perhaps, too comfortable. Eventually forgetting himself, he snuggled into Asougi's shoulder, holding him close. The last thing he heard as he fell asleep was his friend's content murmur.

 

He felt like he heard his name being called, vaguely. But it wasn't enough to rouse him from sleep. Everything felt so comfortable, after all, and he'd like his dream to last a bit longer. But then the back of his head gently bumped against something hard and cold, and he blinked his eyes open.

"Oh, now you're awake??"

An exasperated whisper made him blink up - Asougi was throwing him an incredulous look. Ryuunosuke was completely confused for a moment, but he still felt really comfortable and warm somehow. That was a great night's sleep. He yawned, rubbing his eyes.

"G'morning, what's going o-?"

To his surprise, Asougi immediately slapped a hand over his mouth. That jolted him fully awake, and it seemed like it was perfectly timed when just a second later, there was a knock at the door. Asougi tensed up - he looked almost afraid for a moment.

"Kazuma-sama? It's me."

The muffled voice was very familiar. Ryuunosuke was getting his bearings back, slowly. And recalling the events of the night before, the realisation of what he'd woken up to set in, as did the shock and cold sweats. Asougi threw him an urgent look, holding a finger to his lips, and Ryuunosuke nodded vigorously, making it clear that he'd come to his senses. Satisfied, Asougi withdrew his hand and closed the closet doors. As Ryuunosuke heard him paste the seal, it also hit him that his friend absolutely carried him, still sleeping, over to the closet just now. He put a hand to his mouth, where he could still feel Asougi's touch, his cheeks flaring up yet again. Another knock at the door.

"Kazuma-sama?"

There was a lot of rustling going on in the room.

"Sorry, Mikotoba! Please give me a moment."

More rustling and hurried footsteps. Asougi was clearly grabbing his things. But soon, there was the sliding of a latch, and the door creaked open.

"Good morning."

"Good morning! Are you alright, Kazuma-sama? You seem…flustered, today."

"Y-yes, I'm fine. Please don't worry about it."

"Ah…I hope you slept well. You look a bit tired."

"Well, you know…they served chicken last night."

"Oh…! Oh no. I'm so sorry. Er, if you would like, I have some snacks in my cabin."

"No, we should get going. But thanks for the offer."

"If you’re certain…"

There was the sound of the door closing, and Asougi's and Mikotoba's voices faded into the distance. While Ryuunosuke was usually still fast asleep at this time of day, he sat there wide awake, sweating profusely as he stared at the crack of light leaking through the closet doors.

That was…too close for comfort, just now. He almost ruined everything by talking a little too loudly. And now that he sat here alone in silence, his anxiety was painstakingly recalling every detail of the night before and tormenting him with them. Did he really do all that? What in the world was he thinking?! Oh dear. It was going to be a long day, today.

 

Ryuunosuke was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn't even hear the door this time. It'd been hours of torturous thoughts - no, it was still the morning before breakfast, so it was two hours maximum, but it felt like far too long. It'd been impossible to fall back asleep in this state. By this point, he'd convinced himself that everything was his fault. He'd have to apologise. He idly poked at his shoes that sat in the corner of the closet with his toe - Asougi had even remembered to toss these in here. Ryuunosuke's presence was such an inconvenience, wasn't it? They almost got caught. Maybe they already did get caught, and Ryuunosuke just didn't know the news yet. If that was the case, he was prepared to admit to his stowaway crimes and take all the blame. They could punish him however they wanted, so long as they left Asougi alone. It was Ryuunosuke's fault after all, for not being quiet enough. It was his fault for not waking up when Asougi called him. He remembered his friend's exasperation, and his heart sank. He couldn't believe he was such a burden, the one time he was offered something nice. He squandered it. God, he was a horrible person-

The seal to the closet sounded like it was being ripped off with one swift motion, and Ryuunosuke jumped. He had ten different thoughts at once, disoriented as the doors flew open. A hand grabbed his shoulder and he tensed up with a yelp. Oh god, this was it-

"Naruhodou, are you alright?? I didn't hurt you earlier, did I?"

Ah. Ryuunosuke blinked up dazedly. It was just Asougi, as usual, though he looked strangely worried, scrutinising. As Ryuunosuke struggled to find his voice, his friend turned him this way and that, patting his head, fussing.

"Er- no, I'm fine? What're you doing?"

Asougi breathed a sigh of relief, releasing him. "Thank god…I had to take off in such a hurry, I failed to properly consider your well-being. Please forgive me."

"Uh?" Ryuunosuke stared. Um. No. Something about this felt completely backwards. "W-wait, I should be the one apologising here!!" Asougi just shot him a confused look. What was with that face?? "I mean, I almost blew our cover, right?? Because of me not being able to wake up, you even had to carry me over here, and!! That girl almost heard me talking! Or maybe she did?? Did she? Are we done for?!" Asougi looked just as bewildered as he was, stunned for a moment. But then he let out a huff, crossing his arms.

"No, thankfully. She didn't hear you at all…not that we'd be ‘done for’ if she did. I told you before, I just wanted to keep her out of this if possible, but she certainly wouldn't happily turn us in if she found out."

"R…right." Ryuunosuke had been so freaked out, he forgot about those details.

“As for the rest of that, I woke up in… that state, and…well, it was my own selfish choice not to get up.” Asougi looked away. He seemed the most embarrassed he’d ever been.

“E-eh??”

“…It was really comfortable. So I thought, we could stay like that for just a little longer. But before I knew it, the time…” Ryuunosuke didn’t know what to say to this, mouth hanging open. His face was definitely bright red right now. Asougi cleared his throat. “So, all the rushing and panic that followed was my fault. I’ll admit that openly and own up to it.”

“B…but! You definitely tried to wake me at some point, right?! I remember that!”

“I did call you, once. But you were sleeping so soundly, and I managed to slip free anyway, so I thought I’d bring you to the closet myself and let you continue to rest. But I really didn’t expect you to open your eyes the moment I set you down.” Asougi grumbled at that, strangely disgruntled. “Like a big baby, waking up when you aren’t supposed to…”

“D-don’t call me a baby.” Ryuunosuke covered one of his blushing cheeks, turning away. So, his only crime here was waking up at the last minute and then panicking about nothing for two hours? He really wished Asougi did put in more effort to wake him up, especially when he was in such a rush. He could’ve walked himself to the closet, sheesh. “But you really wanted me to keep sleeping, huh…” he muttered the rest of his thoughts aloud. Asougi gave a heated sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Good grief. The whole point of this was so that you could take a break from the closet and have a proper night’s rest for once, and yet it turned out so hectic, and I even ended up bothering you in the middle of the night…I truly hope you can forgive me.” He had a somewhat pained look, one that Ryuunosuke had seen before - notably, during that trial - when something didn’t go perfectly as planned.

“Hey, it’s not a big deal, really! And uh, it…was very comfortable, for sure.” Those words came out weakly. He still remembered that nice feeling he had when he was just waking up. If only he didn’t ruin it for himself. “I think, despite how it ended, that might’ve been the best sleep I’ve had since coming aboard. So please don’t feel bad!” He forced himself to shrug off his shyness and look his friend straight in the eye, asserting his honesty. Asougi looked surprised. But finally, he seemed convinced by these words, relaxing for possibly the first time this morning. And with that, he suddenly looked really tired. With a sigh, he all but fell forward, his head resting on Ryuunosuke’s shoulder. His hachimaki fell limp. “WAH- A-Asougi?!”

“That’s a relief,” he murmured, letting out a groan with his next breath. “Ahh……I’m so damn hungry.” Ryuunosuke sputtered, grabbing him by the shoulders.

“Go eat!!!”

Despite his suffering, his friend chuckled. He held onto Ryuunosuke, urging him out of the closet to join him. A stack of pancakes and fruit were waiting for them. Ryuunosuke hurriedly pulled his shoes on, hungry as always. But before his friend could split the food, he remembered the conversation they had at dinner and stopped him, reminding him to eat more.

“Hmph, I was hoping you’d forget,” Asougi sighed.

“No way! You’re starving, aren’t you?! Eat as much as you want, this time!” Ryuunosuke crossed his arms defiantly, turning aside in his chair. “I won’t have a bite until you’re satisfied.” His friend grumbled, starting to cut a bite-sized piece.

“Fine, fine…”

Despite how hungry he was, Asougi still minded his manners, eating slowly. Ryuunosuke was amazed by his restraint - if he were in his shoes, he’d have inhaled half of it already. He just sat and watched, through little glances, though his friend seemed too focused to notice them. Or, with his next words, it was evident that he was deep in thought.

“Hey, partner…obviously, that was a close call this morning, but I’m not against doing it again, if you wanted.” He met Ryuunosuke’s gaze, firmly. “You should sleep in a bed at least once in a while to rest your back. And, if I vow not to be so selfish next time, it shouldn’t be stressful.” Ryuunosuke blinked before looking away again. Why were his cheeks so prone to blush?

“E-er, I’m not against it, I guess. We can learn from our mistakes, right?” He rubbed his chin, trying to think of optimisations.

“Right…well, I think one thing’s clear. We shouldn’t attempt it again on nights where they serve chicken.”

“Huh? Why not?” Asougi grimaced.

“What do you mean ‘why not’? That was absolutely humiliating.”

“I didn’t mind it, really.”

“I kept you up with my nonsense, and neither of us got enough sleep.”

“Well, you’d just be suffering alone then, right?”

“I’d rather not drag you into my problems like that again.” His expression made it clear - he was going to be stubborn about this. Was he really that embarrassed about it? Well, yeah, Ryuunosuke knew him pretty well at this point. It made sense. Even if sleeping together like that seemed to help…

“Alright, if you’re sure.”

“I’m a hundred percent sure.”

“Okay, okay, I get it.”

They both looked away from each other, making disapproving faces. But after a grumpy pause of silence, broken only by the soft clatter of Asougi’s silverware against his plate as he continued working on his food, he spoke up again.

“Naruhodou.”

“Huh?”

Ryuunosuke turned to look back at him, mouth opened, only to immediately be met with a forkful of neatly cut fruit and pancake. His instincts made him react before he could finish thinking, and he happily accepted the bite. It took Asougi pulling back the fork and two chews for him to realise what just happened, and then he made an angry noise, fingertips covering his mouth.

“Asougi! What did I just say?!” Despite his feeling of betrayal, he found it hard to glare as he continued to enjoy that bite. He was blushing for another reason, now - this was absolutely delicious.

His friend laughed fondly, flashing him a smug smile. “It’s good, isn’t it?” Ryuunosuke nodded vigorously. Despite the mediocre cabin quality, it was no debate that the food they served on this ship was outstanding. Everything had a tradeoff. Asougi kept feeding him every other bite until Ryuunosuke became too flustered at this arrangement, scolding him again to just finish his share and pass over the leftovers.

Even in the moments of suffering aboard this ship, living like this with his best friend was…pretty fun. It felt so worth it to take the risk, in the end. He could say with confidence that he’d gladly survive fifty days of this, and maybe fifty more, even if it meant going hungry or sleeping in a dark closet. The latter part only made him look forward to the next time he’d be able to share the bed with his friend again.

But, unfortunately, that was the one and only chance they had.