Makoto misses Rin something fierce.
It’s been months since Rin had come to Tokyo, and every day Makoto misses him more and more. He’d thought it would get easier in time, but it’s gotten worse instead. In large part because they talk less and less.
In the beginning, Rin had called him almost daily. He would update Makoto on his training schedule, his classes, what he’d seen on his commute that morning…really anything and everything. Makoto’s always loved listening to him talk, so he’d go silent and let Rin’s voice wash over him until Rin would inevitably ask about his day. If he closed his eyes and ignored the occasional bad quality of the call, he could pretend they were together.
They’d video call multiple times a week, as Rin had promised before he’d left. At first, it had been incredibly awkward. Makoto had been too embarrassed to do anything other than talk until Rin started stripping with a bright red face, bringing Makoto out of his comfort zone. They had converted their late night dates into Skype sex, and though it was more satisfying than his hand alone, it still couldn’t hold a candle to the real thing.
But as they’d thought, things picked up. Rin had been over a month into his semester when he’d visited Tokyo, but Makoto had only been a couple weeks into his. It hadn’t taken long for Makoto’s classes to pick up. At the same time, the swim season started kicking into full gear. Rin landed some qualifying times for bigger meets in Australia, and his training picked up to account for it.
Makoto isn’t surprised. Rin’s always been amazing.
Their late night video “chats” are the first to go. They’d started ending earlier and earlier when Rin would stifle yawns until Makoto assured him that it was alright if he went to bed. Then Makoto would cancel because of the sheer amount of studying he needed to do that night. Soon, they stop having them all together.
Rin can’t call him as much anymore either. He has his own studies on top of his training and meets. Being a student athlete puts a ton of pressure on him, so Makoto doesn’t blame him when they don’t talk for two or three weeks.
Of course, they still text constantly. Makoto misses him so much that he keeps his phone on silent so he can message Rin in class, even though he knows he shouldn’t. Rin does the same, so Makoto doesn’t feel too bad about it.
But that doesn’t stop him from missing Rin.
It’s embarrassing how much he misses Rin in a lot of ways. He’s careful not to bring it up around Haru or Sousuke, because they both hear from Rin less. Makoto knows they miss Rin too.
Haru has his own training, his own problems, but Makoto notices him checking his phone more often than he had before. The same way he notices the pout Haru pretends he doesn’t have when Rin hasn’t replied to him yet.
And Sousuke…well, Sousuke frowns more now that Rin’s gone, slowly drifting back into the protective shell he’d had when Makoto had first met him. So he tries desperately hard not to let his sadness show when he’s around them.
Which is why it’s all the more embarrassing when Sousuke brings it up.
They’re in his apartment, a routine they’d fallen into almost immediately upon school starting. Makoto’s trying desperately to catch up to the reading in one of his classes, but the textbook is the most boring thing he’s ever read. He keeps glancing at his phone as if Rin will have magically gotten out of his practice an hour earlier than usual and want to talk. Haru’s due to finish practice and join them any minute, but time is passing so slow it may as well be going backwards.
“Expecting a call?” Sousuke asks, breaking the silence.
Makoto jumps. He looks up and gives Sousuke a guilty smile. “Not really.”
“Waiting for a text from Rin?”
“I know he has practice,” Makoto defends. But he can’t deny that Sousuke’s right.
Sousuke shrugs. “Doesn’t mean you aren’t waiting to hear from him.”
“It’s silly,” Makoto admits. “He has another hour of training. He won’t be able to check his phone for at least that long.”
The other man blinks at him, staying silent for so long Makoto wonders if he actually spoke out loud. Finally, Sousuke responds. “Makoto, you’re an idiot.”
Makoto’s mouth drops open. “What?”
“It’s not silly to want to hear from Rin.” Sousuke closes his book, giving Makoto his full attention. “You have every right to miss him. There’s nothing to apologize for.”
“But…you miss him too…”
“Of course I miss him,” Sousuke says. “So what?”
“So I shouldn’t bother you with it,” Makoto argues.
Sousuke stands up. “That’s why you’re an idiot,” he declares, heading into the kitchen.
Makoto scrambles to his feet and follows him. “I don’t think that’s fair,” he complains as Sousuke pours himself a glass of water.
To his surprise, Sousuke turns back to him with a smile. “That’s the Makoto I remember.” Makoto’s frown must convey his confusion, because Sousuke continues. “You were more confident when you started dating Rin. You didn’t let people talk down to you.” He waves his free hand as he walks by, taking his glass back into the living room. “Rin’s a good influence like that.”
Makoto smiles, even though he knows Sousuke can’t see him. His chest is tight, the way it is when he thinks about Rin these days, but this time it’s a good tight. Rin has always been a good influence on him. He can’t say he wouldn’t have continued swimming in elementary school if it weren’t for Rin, but he certainly would’ve had a harder time enjoying it.
Rin’s always been there for him some way or another.
He pours himself his own glass of water and joins Sousuke back in the living room, determined to focus until he gets his reading done. He takes a seat and flips his book open again right as the door to Sousuke’s apartment opens.
“You should lock your door,” Haru announces as he walks in.
Sousuke sighs. “You’d lose your key if I gave you one. Lock it behind you.”
“Troublesome,” Haru argues, sinking down onto the couch.
Sousuke grumbles something Makoto can’t catch, but he gets up and goes to lock it himself. Haru sighs and leans back against the cushions. His face is paler than normal, and there’s water dripping down the strands of his hair, as if he hadn’t dried off before leaving.
“Haru,” Makoto whispers, leaning in. “Are you alright?” He looks absolutely exhausted.
Haru peels open one eye and glares at him. “Your face looks strange,” he declares.
Makoto frowns. “What?”
“You’re thinking about Rin.”
“Freaky,” Sousuke interjects, returning to the room. “How’d you figure that out?”
Haru closes his eye again. “None of your business.”
Sousuke gives Makoto a look, raising one eyebrow. ‘What’s his deal?’ he mouths. Makoto shakes his head.
“I know you’re talking about me,” Haru tells them, still not opening his eyes.
“If you’re so tired go to sleep,” Sousuke grouses. He’s glaring at his textbook while he says it, tapping his pencil against the edges in a rapid pace.
It’s that moment that Makoto realizes he’s overstaying his welcome. He’d planned to stay longer, catch up with Haru at the end of the day and maybe walk home with him. But he can tell by the way Haru’s sinking deeper into the couch that he’s not leaving tonight. The fact that he came to Sousuke’s at all while he’s this tired means he’d never planned to leave in the first place.
Makoto closes his textbook with a decisive snap and starts packing his things. He isn’t mad, he reminds himself. He isn’t. Haru and Sousuke have a relationship that doesn’t make sense to him, but in some ways it’s as new as his and Rin’s. If Rin had come back to his apartment and collapsed on his couch, he’d want time alone to take care of him too.
So Makoto clamps down hard on his desire to care for Haru and stands up. Sousuke looks up at him, startled, as if he hadn’t noticed Makoto packing up before. “You don’t have to leave,” he says.
Makoto glances at the couch where Haru is now snoring softly. “I should go.”
Sousuke follows his gaze, his eyes going soft around the edges. “He’s been tired lately.”
“Don’t let him train too hard,” Makoto advises.
“Trust me,” Sousuke assures him, standing up with a grunt, “I won’t.”
Makoto has a thousand questions about that, about Sousuke’s shoulder. But that’s a sore topic, even still, so Makoto swallows them and walks to the door with Sousuke following behind. “Sorry about this,” Sousuke apologizes, scratching the back of his neck while Makoto pulls on his shoes.
“Don’t be,” Makoto assures him. “I got more than half of my reading done.”
“Still. You shouldn’t feel like you have to leave.”
Makoto looks back down the hallway. Haru’s feet are the only part visible, but it’s clear he hasn’t moved from where he’s sitting. He pulls his backpack over his shoulder, gripping it too tightly. “You should have some time alone.”
Sousuke rests his hand on Makoto’s shoulder with a sigh. “Rin will be back,” he promises.
“I know.” Makoto does know. Things are different for Rin now. He’s tired from school and training, but he’s happy. That’s more than he had last time, at least from what Makoto’s heard.
“I’ll make sure he texts you in the morning,” Sousuke promises. He’s not talking about Rin.
Makoto doesn’t linger in the door longer than that. He’s still nervous about getting around Tokyo at night. He rushes to the subway station and makes the train with barely a minute to spare. It’s crowded, as it always is at night, packed with students and business men and women in suits, all looking equally exhausted.
He finds a spot to stand between two people in suits right as his phone vibrates. It takes some effort for him to pull out his phone, but when he does, it’s worth the effort. Rin’s out early it seems.
Rin: practice ended early
Makoto: I’m on the subway
Rin: home or Sousuke’s?
Even the implication alone brings a flush to Makoto’s face. The conversation itself is innocent enough, in case anyone wants to read it over his shoulder, but Makoto knows what Rin means. Or rather, Makoto knows what he hopes Rin means.
The subway takes too long, as far as Makoto is concerned. By the time he gets off, he’s less worried about walking through a large city alone than he is in getting back to his apartment before Rin falls asleep the way Haru had.
He all but stumbles up the stairs to his apartment and nearly forgets to lock his own door in the rush to get his computer. By the time he pulls up Skype, Rin is already online. He hits call immediately, and Rin answers almost as quickly.
“That was fast,” Rin laughs the moment he answers.
Makoto’s lips stretch into what is no doubt an embarrassingly fond smile. “Hey Rin.”
“Hey yourself.” Rin grins back at him. He, like Haru, looks like he hadn’t dried his hair before heading home. Makoto’s spent so long wanting to see Rin that he can’t stop from taking in every feature, every sign that something’s changed. “Something on my face?” Rin asks, when Makoto doesn’t do anything more than stare.
He blushes, shaking his head adamantly. “No, it’s just…it’s been a long time.”
Rin’s face softens. “Yeah,” he agrees. “Too long.”
The fact that Rin feels the same way makes Makoto feel a thousand times better. “How are things?”
“Awesome!” Rin confirms, excitement nearly bursting out of him. “I qualified for some meets. I told you that right?” He pauses long enough for Makoto to nod. “So now I have all this extra training, which I also already told you, but! You’ll never guess. There’s another guy from Japan.”
“Yeah, really. He doesn’t go to my school, but our coaches put us in contact. He actually qualified for World’s already, which is pretty awesome.”
The sign that something is really different this time is this: Rin being excited about someone doing well. Rin not getting upset that he hasn’t qualified for World’s yet. So Makoto smiles and nods, letting Rin wax poetic about this new senior he has to look up to. Makoto isn’t jealous of that, after all. Rin should have someone in Australia; not having anyone is partly what caused everything to go wrong last time.
He isn’t jealous.
“Anyway, he urged me to not push myself too hard today, since I’m still tired from practice yesterday.”
“That’s good,” Makoto agrees softly, thinking of Sousuke’s still healing shoulder and Haru falling asleep on the couch. “You deserve rest.”
Rin laughs. “Not too much rest though.”
Makoto twitches, wanting to reach out and stroke Rin’s cheek. He wants to touch him, not just sexually, and remind himself that all of this is real. That Rin is really with him after all those years of pining after him from afar.
“What about you?” Rin asks eagerly.
“Nothing that interesting,” Makoto assures him. “Haru’s been training hard.”
Rin raises his eyebrow. “I asked what was going on with you, not Haru. I know he’s training hard. He messaged me his times yesterday.”
“I’m not swimming,” Makoto reminds him. “Just school and part time work. It’s really not interesting…”
“It’s fine that you aren’t swimming,” Rin tells him. “If you aren’t passionate about it, you don’t have to do it.”
Makoto chews on his lip, biting down his reply. He has too much studying to do and not enough time to do it, or so it feels. He’s been working part time teaching swim lessons at the pool near Haru’s apartment, but that’s about the only time he gets in the water anymore. Compared to Rin, who’s qualifying for events and pursuing his dream, Makoto’s life is boring. It’s like comparing a celebrity’s life to a teacher’s.
“I’m looking forward to seeing you next month,” Makoto says instead. Rin’s semester ends almost a month before Makoto’s summer break, but that won’t stop him from spending as much free time as possible with Rin while he’s up here. Though, with how busy he’s been, he’s not sure what time he’ll have.
They’ll make it work, though.
The conversation, which had seemed safe, triggers a nervous frown from Rin. He taps his fingers on the table audibly and looks away. “Yeah, uh, about that.”
Makoto’s heart sinks. “You’re still coming out right?”
In his defense, Rin at least looks contrite. “I can’t,” Rin admits. “My coach doesn’t think I can afford to take that much time off training.”
“What about Haru’s team? You can train with them.” Rin shakes his head, opening his mouth, but Makoto speaks quickly before he can. “Or one of the local club teams. Haru trained with one before the semester.”
“It isn’t the same,” Rin says almost apologetically.
“It’s training,” Makoto insists weakly.
“It’s different,” Rin repeats. “The training down here is no joke. It’s not surprising I couldn’t keep up as a kid. It makes Samezuka look like a kid’s practice.”
He doesn’t intend it to be mean, but that doesn’t stop the twist of the knife in Makoto’s heart. He thinks about Haru, pale and exhausted from the hours he’s putting in at the pool. It isn’t fair for Rin to act like all that is less than what Rin himself is doing. “So you’re not coming,” he clarifies.
“I’m sorry. Makoto, I really –“
“Rin,” Makoto cuts him off, aware of how rude it is. “I’m sorry but I realized I forgot to finish my reading. I have to go.”
His excuse is weak, paper thin, and Makoto is sure Rin can see his eyes watering even through the now grainy Skype call. But Rin shuts his mouth with a snap and nods. “Right. Of course. I’ll…” Rin trails off before finally saying, “Goodnight Makoto.”
“Night, Rin,” Makoto manages to choke out. He ends the call and slams his laptop shut before his eyes overflow.