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we should schedule this type of thing

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The greatest strain on their relationship, Ritsu muses, isn't their attachment to other people. Izumi's perfectly aware that he's always going to love Mao, just like Ritsu's perfectly aware that Izumi's always going to love Leo.

(The difference is that Ritsu also loves Leo, though.)

No – it is the staggering time difference between Italy and Japan, the one that has him sitting in the dormitory's hallway so he doesn't wake his roommates at four in the morning, as Izumi chats with him over his dinner at eight in the evening. Adjusting to a regular awake schedule was hard enough, but adjusting to the times they can talk at the same time seems even harder. Not for the first time does Ritsu wave off someone's concern as they step around him on the way to the bathroom, his body stretched across the hall like a particularly sleepy cat. He doesn't fault Izumi for it though, and he can't say he minds it entirely either.

Izumi has a nice voice, after all. Leo's right about that.

He's almost asleep in the world's most uncomfortably comfortable position when Izumi sighs from the phone held loosely in his hand and says, “This isn't working out, Kuma-kun.

His heart pounds in his chest, his head, feeling like an off-beat symphony as he rearranges himself; it's just he'd woken up suddenly from a falling in a dream, or when his chair's tipped back almost all the way and he's just managed to catch it before it actually does. Izumi's quiet on the other side, but it only must be a moment – actually, all of that must've been just a few seconds – because he continues on as if he hadn't paused at all.

So maybe he didn't.

Ritsu doesn't know. He just feels adrenaline and anxiety mixing sick in his stomach, only one of which gets relieved as the seconds pass.

Like, you're almost falling asleep right now? And it's always soooo bad for me to stay up talking to you when you've got time at the end of your day... Sooo-oooo-ooooooo annoying, Kuma-kun.” A pause – a real pause, like he's considering how just to fix this problem. “We should schedule this type of thing.

You scared the shit out of me, Ritsu wants to say. Instead, he forces a laugh, breath tight in his chest.

I'm surprised you didn't suggest that in the first place, Secchan. Mmm, but isn't that gonna make these calls less romantic?”

It'll just give us something to look forward to,” Izumi replies, voice softer, and Ritsu knows he has a stupid smile on his face. He can feel it – the same warmth that's flooded him since the first time Mao reached out his hand; since he was recognized first as Ritsu, not 'Rei Sakuma's little brother' by his peers; since he had found somewhere precious and worth protecting in Yumenosaki Academy; since he'd first found himself sleeping against Izumi, his features pretty even when unpolished by the overnight bus ride to Knights' first (and, so far, only) camping trip.

Well,” Ritsu says with a sigh, rubbing his eyes. “Mmmm, well, let's start it tomorrow or something then... I'm reaaaaal awake now, Secchan. I can probably stand a few more hours of listening to you bitch about your coworkers.”

I'm not bitching though? I'm just saying—”

Ritsu's lips quirk with soundless mirth and he props himself back up against the wall, heart steadying back to the rhythm it usually has around Izumi.