“I’m Ami,” he said, “nice to meet’cha.”
Alice did not care about him or his cutesy accent. It was all filed away at the very back of Alice’s head alongside the other trivia. The names and locations of all the volcanoes in Japan, the names of obscure pop idols, the name of his new roommate— that sort of thing.
“Asmodeus,” he replied, clipping ‘courteous’ down to ‘hardly sociable.’ He couldn’t help it. To think, he actually got into Levialon University. He had no intention of actually going; he only figured he should pretend he was trying, and then he could go to community college with Iruma and life would continue as usual. Life did not continue as usual. He got his acceptance letter, and then everyone kept congratulating him on getting in somewhere so prestigious, up to and including Iruma.
His roommate was giving him an odd look. He smoothed his expression out the best he could, like shaking out a wrinkled sheet, and asked, “What is it?”
“Nothin’,” Ami replied.
It was just as well. Alice wouldn’t want to live with someone who kept prying into his personal business. Ami was mousy and pathetic. He was a third year student, which would raise the question of why he was living in the dorms at all— Alice had the excuse of being both far from home and required to.
“I’m back,” Iruma announced. “I stopped by the vending machine, sorry if it took a minute.”
“It’s no matter, Iruma-sama,” Alice replied, worries immediately knocked out of his head. Iruma was helping him move in. Iruma was insistent that friends should do things for each other and not unilaterally, which meant that Alice could cling for just a moment longer. He took the box, realizing with a sinking feeling that they were almost out of boxes.
Iruma held a couple of drinks in his other hand, the caps occupying the gaps between his fingers, and he offered one up. Alice accepted gratefully, transferring the box to the bed, but Iruma’s attention was fleeting. “Oh, are you Azu-kun’s new roommate?”
He sounded excited. He was so excited about the whole thing, it was almost like he wanted Alice to be sequestered at the bottom of the sea. Metaphorically. Ami smiled a little, awkwardly hanging back, and replied, “Yup. Ami Kirio, third year.”
He introduced himself like they were a club in a sports anime. The illusion wouldn’t last; Alice had already seen him struggling with a backpack on the way in. It was a ridiculous backpack. It made him look like he was preparing for a hiking trip and not any kind of academic endeavor.
Iruma wasn’t bothered by any of this, because he was perfect. “Suzuki Iruma, but um, no one really uses my last name. I’m helping Azu-kun move in. It’s so nice here! There’s a lounge! They have a pool table! Ami-san, have you seen it?”
His reactions were so charming. They’d been on plenty of vacations together, even when Alice had to pull the ‘extra tickets’ out of who knows where to keep him from catching on. The fact that Alice’s family was happy to pay his way was a carefully guarded secret. The fact that Alice wanted to spend time with him was not. At all.
“I have,” Ami agreed, the boring bastard. “‘S nice.”
Alice’s boxes were mostly moved in, crowding over the invisible line in the center of the room. He overestimated how much space he’d have. He was running out of reasons to keep Iruma away from his own plans.
“Have you moved in yet?” Iruma asked.
“Oh, no,” Ami replied. The only thing on his side was the backpack. “Just got here.”
What a kind, considerate, and as yet implied idea. Iruma was truly a generous soul. So with a smile and no concept of it having been his own suggestion, Alice concluded, “Well then. Let us help Ami-senpai move in!”
Ami seemed touched. “You’d do that? You’re a lifesaver. Ya don’t need to keep callin’ me by my last name either— gosh, I’ve never gotten along with a roommate before!”
That was sad. It was promptly forgotten in the walk out to Ami’s car. Apparently he came all by himself, and could eat the ticket for parking too close to the building. He had more belongings than expected.
“Costuming?” Iruma read off the side of a duffle bag.
Ami— Kirio just nodded.
“No,” Alice objected, trying not to sound like he’d been crying into his pillow for the past half hour. He wasn’t impressed with this pillow. He should have brought one of his own. Maybe he shouldn’t have said anything at all; he snuggled deeper under the blankets, until only the tips of his hair could be visible.
He was beginning to feel both cold and awkward when a weight joined him on the mattress, warmth leaning against his side. It was late. It reminded him of his mother, and David, and the way that they used to comfort him when he had nightmares.
“It’s okay,” Kirio whispered. “I got scared too, when I first went off to school.”
He was talking like they were both still children, who could get away with being frightened by such things. Alice’s problem had nothing to do with it. His momentary jealousy faded away. “I don’t doubt that,” he replied, eventually, trying to be snippy and finding himself hoarse instead.
Kirio laughed. It made Alice feel odd. “You gonna come out of there?”
It would be even sillier to refuse, so Alice sat up, brushing his hair aside where it was stuck to his face, and sniffling slightly. So long as no one commented on it. Kirio was a staticky outline in the air; the air conditioner was humming faintly; the rooms were crowded together in a way Alice might never learn to tolerate, so silence was impossible.
“There we go,” Kirio said. He didn’t sound bothered at all, more like he was barely following the whim of the conversation.