All the traditional Japanese poetry here, as well as the title, is from the Ise Monogatari, mostly from the Helen McCullough translation.
"Poetry sucks," Ryuji grumbles, his chin his hands, glaring at the book in front of him.
"Like I'd expect any better from you," Ann snorts. She doesn't even look up from her own book, turning the pages slowly, skimming the tanka for one she likes enough to memorize. "Dumb jock."
"Blonde bimbo!" Ryuji retorts. "You're definitely faking, you don't know anymore about traditional literature than I do."
"Poetry's romantic!" Ann says, back straightening. She reaches across the booth to whack Ryuji's head with the end of her pencil. "Just because you're too dumb to appreciate real art."
"Stop fucking hanging out with Yusuke," Ryuji says. He lets his elbows slide out from under him on the slick surface of the cafe's booth table, dumping his cheek flat on his book. "Ugh, it even smells old. Who the heck cares what people wrote shitty poetry about a thousand years ago!" Under the table, he kicks at Ren's ankle. "Back me up, dude."
"Mmm," Ren hums, noncommittal. He tugs on the piece of hair that always falls in his eyes before admitting, "I kind of like it."
"Renren, no!" Ryuji protests. "You're one of them!"
"Yeah, I guess so," Ren chuckles. "Come on, they're short. And they sound nicer when they're read out loud anyway."
"I totally get it," Ann says. "Here, I'm picking this one: 'After a night / neither waking nor sleeping / I have spent the day / staring at the rain / the long rain of spring.'"
Ann and Ren look at Ryuji expectantly. Ryuji scowls. "Yeah, I don't get you weirdos at all."
"He's talking about the rainy season, you doofus!" Ann exclaims, exasperated. She turns to call to Sojiro, who is smoking and pretending to watch the news instead of listening to them. "Boss, you get it, right?"
"Can't say I'm much for classical poetry," Sojiro says, ashing his cigarette. "But I like the idea that even though we don't last that long, our words might still be here in a thousand years." As if in contrast to his thought, he takes a deep drag of his cigarette and blows a perfect smoke ring that lives for only the two seconds it takes to rise to its death against the ceiling.
"Exactly!" Ann bounces out of her seat, taking her coffee cup over to the counter. "Refill, Boss! Make it a really classical blend this time, to get me fired up for Heian poetry!"
"We didn't get coffee in Japan until the 17th century," Sojiro points out, but he's already reaching for a different jar of beans, considering them thoughtfully.
"I like knowing that people so long ago still thought about the same things as us," Ren agrees, drawing Ryuji's attention back to him. "Like complaining about the rainy season."
"What? They didn't think about the same shit as us at all, man," Ryuji says dismissively. "They didn't have entrance exams or sports scholarships or guidance counselors breathing down their necks. They worried about farming and plague. They had nothing to do but think about nature, and that's why all these shitty poems are about Mount Fuji and fall leaves and the moon."
"You're wrong," Ren says, and it's so unusual for him to bluntly disagree with Ryuji that Ryuji frowns and sits up straighter. Ren slides his book over to show Ryuji the page he's been looking at. "This one is about a man whose best friend had to move far away out in the country, but he tells him 'I feel no distance between us / for there is not a moment / that I can forget you / and the image of you / always fills my heart.' You told me the same thing like last weekend, that me going back home won't change anything."
"You're already home," Ryuji tells him sharply, but he adds, "But I guess dudes still had best friends even a thousand years ago, so I gotta give you this one."
"You should do that one for class," Ren said, pushing his book over to show the page. "It's easier to memorize one where you get the author's feelings."
"You don't want it?" Ryuji asks, even though he's already hunting for the page himself in his own book.
"Nah, I'm gonna do the one about throwing the rooster in the well because it crows too early."
Ryuji laughs, unexpected and bright. "Man, that ancient snooze sucks balls."
An hour later, Ann calls it quits and packs up her bags as Sojiro is getting ready to close up, deftly sweet-talking him into walking her to the station. She raises an eyebrow at them when Ryuji doesn't make any move to follow. Ren and Ryuji exchange a glance, no words needed.
"We're gonna keep going a bit longer," Ren says casually. Beside him, Ryuji grins, the picture of cheerful innocence.
"Uh-huh." Sojiro's face says he doesn't buy it anymore than Ann does. "Lock up, kid."
"Roger, Boss," Ren salutes, getting a soft snort in reply.
The door is shut behind Sojiro and Ann for a whole fifteen seconds before both of them stand up, Ren crossing the room to flip the door lock as Ryuji shoves his stuff back into his bag haphazardly. They've learned their lesson about trying to kiss and walk up the narrow stairs at the same time, but it doesn't stop them from putting their hands on each other, Ryuji's hands on Ren's waist to push him up the stairs faster while sneaking under the hem of his shirt.
At the top of the stairs, Ryuji drops his schoolbag with a careless crash on the floor, making a napping Morgana lift his head up from Ren's bag.
"Ugh, you two," he complains, sitting up and stretching his paws out in front of him, digging his claws into Ren's blanket. Neither of them pays Morgana any attention, Ren busy cupping Ryuji's cheeks between his palms and kissing him hard, his glasses digging pleasantly into his cheeks. "Are you gonna be quiet gross at least?"
"Nope," Ren pulls back just far enough to answer. "I'm gonna read this guy sexy Heian poetry."
"What the fuck?" Ryuji splutters, laughing. Morgana hops down from the bed, tail flicking high above his back.
"No, thank you," he says, twining around Ren's ankles once before he continues down the stairs. "Try not to get a noise complain from the neighbors, you delinquents."
"Go eat a mouse, demon cat!" Ryuji calls after him. Ren breaks up the argument by dragging Ryuji towards his bed with one hand, the other hand pulling off his glasses to sit them on his windowsill, out of harm's way.
He pulls Ryuji close to kiss him again, humming in approval when Ryuji's hands sneak up the back of his shirt to press against bare skin. This kiss is wetter, more impatient; even though Ren's attic is already feeling the autumn chill, his skin is warm by the time Ryuji yanks his shirt over his head suddenly.
Ren shoves Ryuji hard in retaliation, and he flails comically for a second before fall back into Ren's bed. "Jerk."
"Hm." Ren follows after, crawling onto his bed to loom over Ryuji, knees on either side of his thighs, palms down on either side of his shoulders. "Wanna hear another poem?"
"I really don't," Ryuji says. He reaches up to pull on Ren's shoulders, and Ren drops to his elbows, bringing their faces closer.
"'Would I be satisfied,'" Ren murmurs, ignoring Ryuji's groan, "'if I might count / a thousand autumn nights as one / and sleep with you / eight thousand nights?'"
"Shit, shut up, you fucking weirdo," Ryuji protests, squirming, but he's going pink across the nose. Ren kisses him, working fingers into his bleach-rough hair, Ryuji's scalp warm against his fingertips. He keeps on kissing him until Ryuji's blush is spreading down his neck and over his shoulders.
"You like it," Ren says, confident. He likes how everything is soft around the edges with his glasses off, the frizz of Ryuji's hair and kissed-puffed edges of Ryuji's lips and the warm brown of his eyes.
"Like it better," Ryuji tells him, "if you'd put that mouth of yours to better use than shitty poetry."
"Ok, ok," Ren agrees, because he likes this too, the way Ryuji stretches out in his bed when Ren strips his pants off, the way his legs go for miles, corded with muscle under Ren's hands. He likes the way Ryuji's cock is already flushed and pink before Ren even wraps a hand around it, and the way Ryuji's whole body rises into it when Ren puts his mouth on his skin.
Ren sucks Ryuji off with single-minded determination, not in the mood to tease today. Ryuji doesn't bother keeping his noises quiet and that gets under Ren's skin just as much as how Ryuji winds fingers in his hair and pulls. Ren's achingly hard but ignores it other than rubbing against his mattress, hands busy with Ryuji until he groans a warning. Ren sits up, mouth coming off Ryuji's tip with a wet pop, eyes glued to Ryuiji's dick fucking the tight circle of his fingers as he comes with a ragged whimper.
"Nice," Ren says, giving Ryuji a last squeeze and feeling him twitch against his palm. He lets his eyes drag up and down Ryui's flushed body as he raises his hand to his mouth, licking the backs of his fingers clean.
"Com'ere," Ryuji slurs, boneless from orgasm but still reaching for Ren. Ren falls down against him, whining low in his throat from pleasure at how tightly Ryuji squeezes him, how Ryuji drops his hands to Ren's ass and digs his fingers in. Ryuiji drags lips over Ren's cheekbone and mutters, "Wanna do that for you."
"Just touch me," Ren groans, hair practically standing on end. He won't last a second if Ryuji puts his mouth on him; he's so turned on that he barely lasts a few minutes with just Ryuji's hand, pants shoved down his thighs barely out of the way. He feels like all his skin is buzzing as he comes down, hips still circling lazily into Ryuji's hand, chasing aftershocks. "Mm. Mm-hmm."
"Still wanna do it," Ryuji tells him, and Ren shudders, murmuring an ok into Ryuji's shoulder. They're quiet for a couple minutes, coming down and trading slow kisses against cheeks and throats and mouths. Then Ryuji says, "You could pull it off. If you lived a thousand years ago, you'd fit right in."
"What the hell?" Ren asks, amused.
"You'd be some flashy young lord, done up all traditional and shit." Ryuji drags a hand through Ren's hair, making his eyes flutter. "Retainers swearing their lives to you, playing Go with other lords to show off your strategy. That's why you get this poetry shit, because it'd suit you stupidly well. I'd be like a fucking moron."
"Would not," Ren argues gamely. He can kind of see it, even, with his eyes only half-open like this. "You'd look great on the battlefield in war armor, steely. Fearless. My right hand man, right?"
"You're so embarrassing," Ryuji complains, but he lets Ren pull him in for a kiss anyway. Ryuji works a knee in between Ren's thighs and kisses him until he can strip him naked and return the favor.
Next up is beltenebra!