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OTP: It's meaningless without you!

Chapter Text

“So take my world, just take it all. I’d cross the earth to break your freefall.”

Freefall: (noun)
- A decline, especially a sudden or rapid decline.

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Makoto, for being as tall as he was, was afraid of quite a few things. His biggest fear, though, was the fear of falling. He was afraid of that weightless feeling in his stomach just before hitting the ground hard.

He had once had this discussion with Haru. Haru had asked Makoto if he was afraid of heights and Makoto had explained that no, it wasn’t heights he was afraid of; it was falling from those heights. It was the feeling he got as he was momentarily suspended in the air. For that same reason, he hated roller coasters.

Ever since that day, Haru had always done what he could to prevent Makoto from having to face his fear. It wasn’t often that something like that arose, but if it ever did, Haru insisted that he handle it and that Makoto keep his feet planted firmly on the ground.

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The summer air was warm and the sun shone down. Makoto sat at the ends of the pool with his feet in the water as he leaned back on his hands with his face to the sky. His eyes were closed as he enjoyed the peaceful silence. A few feet away in the pool Haru floated on his back, eyes also closed.

Makoto breathed slowly and deeply, trying to soak up the relaxation that was surrounding him, but something kept nagging at the back of his mind. Lately he had been noticing a certain feeling—a fluttering in his stomach. It was a feeling he was unaccustomed to and it made him unhappy. The feeling resembled that which he hated—the feeling he got just before a freefall.

With a sigh, Makoto laid all the way back and rested his back against the warm concrete. He laid his hands on his stomach as the feeling began to arise again. He couldn’t pinpoint what caused the feeling, but it was happening more and more frequently. He first noticed it a few days ago on the way to school…

It was a warm day and the ocean sparkled a brilliant blue as he walked next to Haru. They chatted idly, but that was okay. All Makoto could seem to notice that day was how Haru’s eyes were even more beautiful than the ocean.

The sound of water sloshing jolted Makoto from his thoughts. He opened his eyes to see Haru standing over him, dripping.

“You okay?” Haru asked as he toweled off his hair.

“A-ah, yeah!” Makoto sat up, fighting the blush that rose to his cheeks. He pulled his feet from the water and stood up as well, “I’m okay!”

“It’s not like you to just space out,” Haru commented casually.

Makoto noticed the way Haru looked at him. It was the look he got when Haru was trying to say “don’t you dare lie to me, because I’ll know if you do”.  With another sigh he tousled his hair and replied quietly, “I’ve just got something on my mind. It’s nothing.”

Haru shrugged and picked his clothes up off the ground. Makoto knew Haru wasn’t about to push the issue right now, but that he would also be paying closer attention. As they began to walk home for the day, the slight fluttering began to fill Makoto’s stomach again.

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Makoto liked to believe he was a very rational person. He liked to think that the things he did, he did for a good reason. This is why he found it completely fair to say he wasn’t afraid of heights, he was afraid of falling.

So the fact that he couldn’t explain away this feeling was bothering him.  He paced around his room, worrying the hem of his shirt between his hands as he went. What was this feeling? Why did it only appear sometimes?

The feeling was starting to scare him. It really was. And what’s worse than not even knowing what you’re afraid of?

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It was nearing the end of the school year and everyone was excited. The air was warm and they were allowed to wear shorts with their uniform; spirits were high.

Makoto walked out of his house early one morning, his usual smile on his face. He closed the door and turned to face the stairs that led to Haru’s house, only to see Haru about halfway down the stairs, sitting with the little white kitten in his lap.

His smile grew bigger as he climbed the stairs, “Good morning, Haru-chan.”

Haru looked up and his blue eyes met Makoto’s green ones, “Good morning, Makoto.”

And just like that, the feeling erupted.

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For all it was worth, Makoto had been trying to simply ignore the feeling. If he couldn’t figure out what was causing it, there was no point in giving it power over him.

His plan seemed to work decently. He still noticed the feeling as tingles spread down into his fingertips throughout the day, but he didn’t react to them.

No, he wouldn’t let it affect him as Haru held the door open for him. No, he wasn’t going to acknowledge the feeling as Haru fed him the part of his lunch he didn’t want. No, not even when Haru smiled would he let the feeling take over.

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The feeling was coming more frequently, but that wasn’t what bothered Makoto the most. What bothered him more was that it was also increasing in intensity. Now the feeling would get so strong he felt sick. That, or he felt like he was about to get knocked off his feet.

What bothered him most, however, was the fact that he was really starting to think he was dense. There had to be a reason for this. There just had to be. Nothing happened without a reason and yet, he hadn’t figured this one out yet.

Haru had asked him a few times what was wrong and Makoto had always deflected, insisting it wasn’t something Haru would be able to help him with. Haru’s increasing worry was hard to miss, however. In fact, Makoto was starting to worry about himself.

Finally one day, Makoto gave in. They were sitting on the roof alone for lunch and he knew that Nagisa and Rei had gone out to lunch so they wouldn’t be bothered. When the feeling overcame him again and his hands began to shake, he finally turned to Haru.

“You know that feeling you get when you’re falling?”

“Falling?” Haru echoed, looking up from his lunch.

Makoto nodded. He paused for a moment, trying to think of how he wanted to word it. “That feeling in your stomach… you know, the one that feels almost like fluttering or something? That feeling you get right before you fall…?”

Haru nodded but didn’t say anything. He looked at Makoto quizzically and it made the feeling in his stomach triple.

“Well I keep getting that feeling… It’s not quite the same now, though. Now it feels more like… more like…”

“Butterflies?” Haru supplied quietly.

“Yes!” Makoto cried, momentarily relieved to know that Haru understood what he was saying, “Yes, exactly like butterflies.”

They were quiet for a few moments. It wasn’t uncomfortable, and Makoto knew Haru was thinking of the right way to reply. He took the minute or two to relish in the slight relief that came in finally admitting this to someone.

“Makoto,” Haru said finally, “You’re in love.”

“W-what?” Makoto cried, turning to face his best friend. “Haru?”

Haru shrugged casually, “That’s how everyone feels when they’re in love. It’s normal.”

Before Makoto could protest or even ask Haru what being in love really felt like, the bell rang, signaling their need to return to class. They rose silently and walked back together.

Makoto could feel how red his face was, and now he felt panic in his stomach instead of butterflies. But that still didn’t stop him from noticing the worried look Haru sent his way.

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When the final bell rang, Makoto practically ran out of the classroom. Haru had to jog to catch up to him once he’d packed everything.

“Makoto!” He called as he neared his best friend. Finally Makoto relented and slowed to a pace that Haru could match. They were already away from the school and along the coast of the ocean. “What’s wrong?”

Makoto opened his mouth to say something, but the look Haru shot him made him rethink his words. He stopped walking for a moment and Haru stopped next to him. Then all of a sudden Makoto launched into frantic pacing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Haru watched quietly for a moment before reaching out and catching Makoto’s wrist. “You’re really starting to worry me.”

“You’re worried?” Makoto cried, throwing his hands in the air, “How do you think I feel?”

He resumed his frantic pacing, wringing his hands together in front of him. Rarely had Haru ever seen Makoto upset at all, and he didn’t think he’d ever seen him this upset.

“Just when I think I know what’s happening, you tell me I’m in love!” He stops abruptly in front of Haru, his eyes wide. “In love? Me? Did you ever think that was possible?”

“Of course I did,” Haru replied reasonably, “And so did you. You’ve always wanted to fall in love.”

“But I wanted to fall in love with someone who would love me back.” He placed his hands over his face for a moment before dragging them down.

“You’re upset because you think they won’t—“

“I’m upset because it makes sense! Love makes sense. That’s it. I love someone. It makes perfect sense.” Makoto dropped to the ground suddenly, laid back and draped an arm across his eyes, “I’m a fool.”

Haru stood stunned for a moment. He had known Makoto for more years than he could probably remember and although Makoto was kind and outgoing, he knew nobody knew Makoto the way he did. In fact, he secretly prided himself on the way he knew Makoto. And yet, here Makoto was, upset and panicked and Haru had no idea what to do.

He sat down carefully at Makoto’s side, “You’re not a fool, Makoto, don’t say that.”

“I’m a fool, “ He repeated back. Then he sighed, moved his arm away from his eyes and met Haru’s apprehensive gaze, “Sorry, Haru. Let’s just forget this happened, okay?”

Before Haru could even consider a response, Makoto was standing above him with a hand outstretched to him. Haru took it and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. They took off again in silence. But, Haru thought to himself, I never agreed to forget about this.

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Finally, finally the reason had clicked in Makoto’s mind. Haru was right. He was in love. He had heard over and over again that when you know, you know, but he had never believed it. Yet here he was, suddenly in love and he just knew.

He also finally realized why people called it falling in love. It was because you got that awful, terrible feeling in your stomach just before crashing down, like when you fall. And not only had he fallen in love hard, but he had crashed down just as hard, if not harder.

What could be worse than falling in love for the first time with someone who would never, could never love you back?

It simply reinforced Makoto’s hatred of the freefall.

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The next morning Makoto was determined to act like nothing had happened the day before. It was very rare that he lost his cool and he would never do it around anyone other than Haru, but that didn’t mean he should have done it.

“Good morning, Haru-chan.” He called, walking into the bathroom like normal and extending his hand to Haru who, as always, was soaking in the bathtub in his bathing suit.

Haru took Makoto’s hand with no words, but he didn’t miss the way Makoto glanced away momentarily.

Makoto turned to walk out, but Haru caught at his wrist, smiling to himself. He turned Makoto around and without a second of hesitation he leaned forward and kissed his best friend right on the lips.

“H-Haru!” Makoto sputtered after they broke apart.

The small smile remained on Haru’s lips. “I take back what I said yesterday. You are a fool, Makoto.”

Makoto stood stunned, staring at his best friend. His mind, which had been racing for weeks now, came to a screeching halt. Seeing the look on his face, Haru continued.

“You think I can’t figure out what’s happening? You think that I can’t tell it’s me you’ve fallen for?”

“H-Haru…” Makoto said again. He lowered his eyes, a bright red blush covering his cheeks. “I’m sorry Haru, I-“

“Makoto, you fool,” Haru stepped up to him, “Did you really think I wouldn’t catch you? After all, I’m the only one who knows you’re afraid of falling.”

And just like that, Makoto tipped over the edge. He didn’t just fall; he plummeted towards the ground at a rate he didn’t think possible. But waiting at the ground with his arms wide open was none other than Haru. And as Haru leaned up to kiss him again, successfully stopping his freefall, Makoto realized for the first time that he wasn’t afraid anymore.

Chapter Text

Haru had always (lovingly) called Makoto a gentle giant. Makoto was without a doubt the tallest of their class, but he was also the nicest and the most motherly. Makoto would never hurt anyone; he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he did.

That’s why Makoto’s love for cats (especially kittens) came as no surprise to Haru. On the very rare occasion that Haru was up and dressed for school in a timely manner, he would venture out to meet Makoto at the top of the stairs that stood between their houses. Without fail, he would always find Makoto crouched down playing with a small white kitten that seemed to be waiting for him every morning.

It didn’t bother Haru. Why would it? It was sweet to see Makoto playing and laughing and just genuinely happy. Haru would never admit it out loud but he loved the way Makoto’s eyes softened and the way his smile was smaller but just as warm.

“Makoto,” Haru called, leaning against the railing at the top of the stairs.

“Oh!” Makoto set the kitten down and stood up, sparing it one last smile, “Ohayo, Haru.” He quickly ascended the stairs to stand at his best friend’s side. “I hope you weren’t waiting long.”

Haru shook his head casually, pushing off to walk along next to Makoto. They began the trek to school, Makoto rambling about how they would finally be on time for once.

Haru listened half heartedly, his mind wandering back to Makoto’s expression as he looked at the kitten.

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A lot of things made Makoto happy, Haru knew. Makoto loved spending time with his friends, swimming with them, hearing other people laugh, hot tea, two pillows on his bed and a good book.

That was a short list, of course. Makoto was generally very easy to please and always in a good mood. He was very outgoing and easy to be around. But nothing made him quite as happy as kittens, Haru thought.

In fact, Haru thought about this the entire time they were in class. He knew Makoto well enough to know this and he was certain nothing else melted Makoto the way kittens did.

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As they walked home from school that day, Makoto reiterated a particularly funny instance from swimming practice. When Haru actually chuckled in response, Makoto looked at him with wide eyes.

Then his eyes softened and he smiled a small, warm smile that made Haru feel warm inside.

They stopped walking without either realizing it. Haru stared at Makoto for a long moment before asking:

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Like what, Haru?”

“Like you look at kittens.”

Makoto chucked and reached out to tousle Haru’s hair, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not looking at you any different than normal.”

Haru looked over Makoto’s shoulder at the ocean as he thought. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that it was true, Makoto had always looked at him the way he looked at kittens. He had always had that pure, genuine happiness in his eyes when he smiled at Haru. And although he smiled all the time, he seemed to have a separate smile reserved just for Haru.

Well, for Haru and kittens.

“But… Kittens make you so happy,” Haru replied, almost to himself.

“So do you, Haru.” Makoto said as if it were nothing.

Haru looked back up at him, surprised and pleased. He didn’t know why but the warmth he had felt before was spreading all the way to his fingers and toes.

“Honestly,” Makoto waved a hand in between them casually, “Sometimes it’s like you have no idea how I feel.”

“I always know how you feel!” Haru protested.

“Then why are you surprised right now?”

Haru didn’t have an answer to that. He dropped his head in response.

“Haru, you’ve been my best friend my whole life. You’re more than my best friend; you’re basically my other half. And while it’s true that I love kittens, I would never pet another kitten again if it meant getting to see you smile every day. I don’t know where you’ve been for our whole lives if this news comes as a surprise to you because I’m pretty sure everybody but you knows.”

Haru looked up at him then, almost expectantly. He looked into the green eyes that had stood by his side his whole life. He looked at the boy he loved watching; the one who handled kittens so delicately in his big hands. He knew the boy standing before him. So well, in fact, the next words really didn’t surprise him, even though he thought they would.

“I love you, Haru. I think I always have.”

The confession was simple. He didn’t pour on more emotion than Haru could handle and he didn’t state it in a demanding way. No, it didn’t demand Haru’s attention or response. It didn’t ask for anything to change between them. He said he loved Haru as casually as he would tell someone he loved kittens. He said it like it was nothing more than a part of who he was.

A silence settled around them, but it was comfortable. Makoto didn’t act as if he had just poured his heart out or put himself on the line, and in a way, he hadn’t. He hadn’t said anything that Haru didn’t know. Perhaps Haru had never put words to the ideas and feelings before, but he wasn’t surprised. He hadn’t left himself open for rejection, either. No, he and  Haru were too close, too much one solid unit, for Haru to ever reject him.

Haru may love water, but he needed Makoto to live.

“Anyways,” Makoto broke the silence, speaking mildly and smiling the casual smile that Haru was almost certain was just his natural look, “We should get going. I have to get home to Ren and Ran, my parents are gonna be out late tonight.”

They started to walk home again and Makoto chatted idly on like he always did. Haru’s mind was running at a million miles an hour, though. He had just received a love confession, right? So why didn’t it feel more… serious? Why didn’t it feel life changing? Isn’t that what was supposed to happen?

They reached Haru’s house first and Makoto bid him farewell and continued on his way home. Haru watched his back retreat, stunned almost, at how normal this all felt. At how normal everything with Makoto felt.

“Makoto!” He called, running after his best friend. Somewhere along the way he threw his backpack to the ground, but he wasn’t honestly sure where. He didn’t know exactly what he was doing and he sure as hell didn’t know what he was about to say, but everything in him told him No, don’t let Makoto go.

Makoto turned around at the sound of his name and paused, waiting for his best friend to catch him. Haru came at him full force and, instead of stopping, crashed right into Makoto, wrapping his arms around Makoto’s neck and causing them both to stumble a few steps.

“Don’t go,” Haru murmured, his head turned away but his arms tight around Makoto. “Don’t leave.”

“Haru,” Makoto was taken aback, though no unpleasantly, “You know you’re always welcome at my house. You can come with me now if you don’t mind Ren and Ran.”

“No,” Haru’s voice hitched and his face turned red. He never expressed his emotions. He never needed to; Makoto always knew what he was going to say. But this time, whether Makoto knew his thoughts or not, he had to voice them. “Don’t leave me. Ever.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I would never. What is this all about?”

“I love you, too,” Haru blurted out, surprising them both. His face turned even redder as he buried is face in Makoto’s shoulder. After a moment, he mumbled against the fabric of Makoto’s shirt, “I do. I love you.”

Gently Makoto pushed on Haru’s shoulders to move him away and get a clear view at his face. Haru looked stubbornly away at the ocean, the blush slowly fading from his cheeks. Finally, he looked back, only to see Makoto looking at him with that look. The kitten look. The look that made him fall in love years ago.

Makoto pulled him closer again and gently kissed his forehead before tousling Haru’s hair affectionately again.

“I love you,” Makoto repeated, relishing the way it flustered Haru. To him, it had been natural. Falling in love and spending his life with Haru was something that it seemed like everyone saw in his future, not just him. He was just relieved to know Haru saw it, too.

“I love you, too.” Haru replied. After a moment, he added, “And, you don’t even have to give up kittens.”

Makoto laughed and kissed his cheek, “Thanks, Haru.”

Chapter Text

Instructions:
1. Pick a character, fandom, pairing, friendship, whatever.
2. Put on your music program on shuffle/random and start playing songs.
3. For each song, write something inspired by the song related to the theme you chose earlier. You only have the song length. No pre-planning and no writing after the song is over. No skipping songs either. Yeah...
4. Do 10 songs and post. Make sure to include the song name/artist.


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1. Superman- Taylor Swift

Haruka had always thought of Makoto as a sort of hero; he always knew what to say and do or what needed to be done. It was uncanny, but he loved it. If he forgot his towel, his homework, his lunch… Makoto always seemed to be able to anticipate these sorts of things and come prepared with whatever he was missing.

He also considered Makoto a hero at home. The way he was able to run around with his siblings, maintain his homework and help his parents while never appearing to break a sweat was impressive and baffling. Sometimes Haru found himself simply standing in a corner, watching Makoto work his magic and waiting for him to come back.

Lots of people loved Makoto, but nobody seemed to know this side of him. For that reason, Haru started to consider him his own personal Superhero. Someone he could look up to and love; someone he knew would be willing to swoop in at any given moment to save him and bring him back to safety.

And like any good Superhero, Makoto was sweet and gentle. It only took Haru a short time after realizing that he knew a superhero’s secret identity to realize that he had, in fact, also fallen in love with him.

But he didn’t love Makoto because he was a Superhero; capable of feats Haru thought would forever remain unmatched by everyone. He loved him because he was Makoto. Because at night, he put on his polka dot pajamas and climbed into bed and was vulnerable. He loved him because he could see straight through to his heart, and perhaps that was Haru’s superpower.



2. Animal- Neon Trees

When Haru fell in love with Makoto, he really fell—Hard, fast and all at once. He had known Makoto for as long as he could possibly remember, he had always protected him and wanted to keep him safe. But for years he just considered that normal behavior for a best friend.

And then suddenly, it progressed.

Part of him thought it was when Makoto helped pull him out of the pool, only to slip on a puddle that someone (Nagisa!) had created on the cement. The two of them toppled to the ground together, landing on top of each other in a tangled heap of limbs.

Now, this didn’t faze him at first. They had shared beds before; they had fallen asleep together, tangled in sheets and each other and it was normal for them. But when he was laying in bed that night, trying to sleep and picturing nothing but the blush on Makoto’s cheeks as he apologized and the warmth of skin underneath him, he realized that they hadn’t just fallen to the ground.

At least, he hadn’t. In that moment, he had fallen in love. Head over heels, completely and utterly in love. But it didn’t scare him like he always thought falling in love would.

If he were to fall in love with anybody, there couldn’t be a better choice than the person he had always considered his other half anyways.



3. I Like That- Before You Exit

It wasn’t often that anyone saw it, but when Haruka smiled, it meant a lot to everyone. Everyone, including Makoto, who suddenly felt like fireworks had gone off in his stomach when he received one of Haru’s rare smiles.

It was funny, Makoto realized one day as he sat in the still empty pool, staring at Haru while he was working, that just a smile could make him feel that way. He knew with unwavering certainty that Haru could convince him to do damn near anything with that smile.

Let’s rephrase; Haru could convince him to do damn near anything. Period.

Makoto knew the things people liked and hated about Haru; namely the fact that he was so closed off and antisocial (or so it seemed to outsiders). But there wasn’t anything about him that Makoto hated. He sometimes got frustrated with Haru—such a thing was inevitable—but he didn’t hate anything Haru did. He couldn’t.

To hate something Haru did was to hate something about Haru and he had nothing but pure, unconditional love for the boy he had watched grow up. For the one he could read clearly from miles away. No, he loved everything Haru did.



4. Sweeter Than Fiction- Taylor Swift

Makoto had watched Haru grow up. He had always known what swimming meant to Haru and he had never—not even one single time—questioned Haru’s need for water. The only thing he saw in that love was a chance for him to provide. He would always find a way to provide Haru with a chance to swim because he knew, deep down inside, that Haru would make something great of himself with swimming.

He may not become famous, but he would be the greatest version of himself. And if there was one thing in this world that Makoto was sure it, it was that Haru would be able to move mountains someday if he put his mind to it.

So he provided Haru with love, support and water. And through it all, he never lost his belief that Haru could change the world. And when Haru was happy, Makoto felt like the stars had aligned and granted him with a gift.

In the moments that Haru stood tall and proud, ready to face the future and confident that he could do whatever he wanted, Makoto could smile and think to himself that he always knew this was in Haru. He always knew this was waiting to break out.

And though many people came to Haru and tried to get close to him, nobody ever succeeded. Because Haru knew that he had only come this far because of Makoto. He knew that the one who had stood by his side without fail all these years was Makoto and that nobody besides him deserved to share in his triumph.



5. When the Darkness Comes- Colbie Caillat

Makoto was afraid of the water. Of course, nobody besides Haruka knew that extended to all water, not just the ocean, and he intended to keep it that way. It was one thing to share his fear of the ocean with Rei and Nagisa, but he only did so because the situation called for it. Had things not happened that way, he probably never would have told them.

That being said, he had a distinct fondness for rain, specifically taking long walks in it. He loved the way the day would turn dark and he could sneak away unnoticed and blend into the shadows. He loved that for some time, he could just be peaceful. No responsibilities, nobody needing him to look after them, nothing but him and his thoughts.

That quickly changed, however.  During one particularly stormy night, he found himself standing on the beach watching the ocean turn in upon itself, wondering what exactly it was that awaited them all between the dark waves.

“Makoto!” He heard his name. He spun quickly only to see Haru standing a few feet away, hand shielding his eyes from the rain that had already soaked through his clothes completely. “Makoto!”

He walked towards Haru as Haru moved towards him. They met somewhere in the middle and immediately Makoto could feel himself fussing over Haru. “Haru? What are you doing out here! You’ll catch a cold!”

“I could say the same about you,” Haru replied, brushing away Makoto’s worrying hands. “Why are you here? It’s not safe by the ocean.”

Makoto could hear the words Haruka wasn’t saying. “What are you doing here when you’re so terrified of the ocean?”

“I don’t know,” He admitted honestly. “I like to get away during the storms and have some time to myself. I often find myself here, wondering what exactly it is that makes me love this water,” He points up towards the dark clouds above, “And terrified of this water,” he points out towards the dark, swirling ocean.

“Well,” Haru said, walking towards the water a little bit, “I’ll wait while you figure it out.”

“E-eh?” Makoto followed his best friend. “But I haven’t figured it out yet and this has been going on awhile, and I don’t want you to get sick.”

“Don’t face your fears alone, Makoto.” Haru said suddenly, turning to face him earnestly. “Don’t get lost in the darkness. You always have me at your side.”

Makoto smiled then, truly happy for the first time in awhile. Haruka was the reason he loved swimming. He was the reason Makoto had braved the ocean after years of being terrified of it and almost drowned. He could be the reason Makoto braved the ocean again, despite his endless bad luck with it. Haruka was his reason for many things, and now he was also Makoto’s reason for feeling at ease.

“Thanks, Haru.” He said, taking a seat on the beach and staring at the ocean.

Haru sat next to him and they talked quietly amongst themselves. It became a routine, then, that whenever it stormed, they would walk to the beach and get lost in the darkness together, finally able to just be themselves and be with each other.



6. I want Crazy- Hunter Hayes

Haru had thought many times about what being in love would be like. He saw those relationships at school where the boy had to do everything for the girl and she never seemed grateful. But he also saw the ones where the girl did everything she possibly could and yet never was appreciated.

He didn’t want love like that.

He wanted love where he could be himself. Where he could laugh endlessly (not that he did that often as it was, but still) and spend every day with them. He knew relationships didn’t come without fights, but he wanted someone who could go from crazy mad to laughing in no time flat. Someone who made him feel like he was worth it, no matter what his mood was.

He found that in Makoto.

Makoto was the one who would pull Haru in and kiss him in the middle of a sentence because he didn’t want to fight anymore. If Haru did laugh for some reason, he knew Makoto would simply cherish it, instead of acting like it was the end of the world. Makoto knew him inside and out and yet he still managed to light a fire in Haru’s heart that he never knew he could feel.

It didn’t matter if it was something as small as walking home from school, Haru felt like he was always having an amazing time when they were together. Sometimes Makoto would grab his hand and just run and even though they never had a destination, Haru found himself swept away and entirely thrilled at the action anyways.

He found a love that made him feel crazy. He went out of his mind in love with Makoto and somehow Makoto still made him feel like this was totally natural.



7. Our Song- Taylor Swift

Makoto had often heard people saying that couples were supposed to have a “song”. One that applied to their relationship and made them think of each other. But try as he might, Makoto couldn’t think of what their song could possibly be. Neither of them really paid much attention to music, so he was at a loss for ideas.

But then one day he was sitting at the side of the pool while Haru swam and the idea finally hit him.

“Haru!” He called. Haru popped up from under water almost immediately as if he had been waiting for Makoto’s call all along. “I’ve figured out our song!”

Haruka had known that Makoto was trying to figure out their song for some time now, and he didn’t particularly care to have one, but if it meant something to Makoto, then it meant something to him. So he swam over, pulled himself out of the pool and tossed a towel on his head, waiting for Makoto to elaborate.

“Our song,” He says without further ado, “Is the sound of water splashing. It’s the feeling of warm sun on our skin and the laughter of our team. It’s calling to each other, fighting over video games and the feeling of your hand in mine.”

Haru looked up, pulling the towel off his head, fully interested now. This wasn’t at all what he had been expecting.

“It’s the way we speak with just a look, you standing up for me and you cooking me mackerel.”

Softly, Haru smiled and decided to play along, “It’s the way you smile just for me and how your eyes sparkle when something pleases you. It’s how you love kittens and are always taking care of everyone.”

“Yes!” Makoto was thrilled. Beyond thrilled, really, that Haru was participating. “It’s the look on your face when you see water and how elegantly you swim. It’s the way we fit together like it’s nothing. That’s our song, Haru.”

Haru stood finally, walked over to his boyfriend and placed a sweet kiss on his lips. After a moment, he pulled back and smiled up at his boyfriend. It was one of those rare smiles that made Makoto’s world whole, “I like our song.”

“I love our song,” Makoto agreed, just before Haru dove back into the pool, starting their song all over again.



8. Treacherous- Taylor Swift

Makoto remembered when he realized he was in love with Haru. He remembered feeling like he was standing at the bottom of a mountain with nothing but an impossible climb ahead of him. He remembered being terrified to see Haru after that, but also knowing that he couldn’t go without Haru. That Haru couldn’t go without him.

Carefully, he climbed. The slope was treacherous and he felt like he would take two steps forwards and one step back, but everything was worth it to him. When Haru smiled at him, he felt himself entirely swept away. It was moments like that that he knew the climb would be worth it.

Finally one day he reached the top. He hadn’t realized quite how close he was, but there he stood on the edge, waiting to be pushed one way or another.

He was sitting in the sand on the beach as Haru came back towards him and without thinking he simply said, “I love you.”

In an instant he had his hand over his mouth and his face was beet red. He had wanted to say those words for a long time, it was true, but there were plenty of better ways to do it. He felt like he was toppling back to the bottom of the mountain, all the progress he had made was about to be destroyed.

Instead, Haru’s steps never faltered. He continued walking and plopped down next to Makoto with nothing more than, “I know, I love you, too.”

And suddenly everything he had ever done was worth it.



9. Stay, Stay, Stay- Taylor Swift

The two rarely fought with each other. They usually knew each other too well and could predict the other’s actions well enough to avoid any hurt feelings or stepping on each other’s toes. However, there were times where they did fight.

In fact, when they fought, it usually involved a lot of yelling, which was uncharacteristic of both of them. But then the fights would end and one would walk up to the other and pull them into a hug, asking them to stay.

Every relationship had problems and that was totally fine. Their relationship had far more good than bad and they had been together and in love for so long, they thought of being separated was unbearable to them both. They had completely memorized each other and would never be willing to put that work into anyone else. Nobody else could be worth it.

Because despite their fights, they loved each other with an unmatched ferocity. So when the fight was over, they would cuddle up and reassure each other that their love would never, could never falter.



10. Mockingbird- Rob Thomas

Makoto and Haruka stood facing each other on the concrete next to the pool. Everyone stood around them, staring at them with the same smiles they always gave. Makoto could feel his eyes watering as he stared at Haruka.

Suddenly and without warning, he turned on his heels and sprinted off the school grounds. He didn’t stop for his backpack and clothes, he didn’t stop for anything, he just ran. Of course the others couldn’t see it. While they were his friends and he treasured them dearly, he couldn’t let them see the real him: the one inside. They wouldn’t look close enough at his eyes to see the tears forming. Only Haruka could look at him and see it. But why would Haruka care? Haru was the one causing all the pain anyways.

Not that Haru did it intentionally, of course. He would never forgive himself if he knew he was hurting Makoto. In fact, he wouldn’t forgive himself for not figuring out what was wrong. So without a moment’s hesitation he took off after Makoto, leaving the others behind and sprinting as fast as he could. Unfortunately Makoto was taller than him, had longer legs and was able to take bigger, faster strides, leaving Haru more or less in the dust. Fortunately, Haru knew Makoto well enough to predict where he was going and catch up to him anyways.

He walked down the beach and to a small cave they had discovered together years ago. Despite the number of times they had been to the beach with the others, they had never shared this cave with them. This was their place and they had no intention of ever including anyone else on their secret.

He walked into the small cave to see Makoto pacing circles around the cave like he did when he was worried or upset, running his hands angrily through his hair.

“Makoto?” Haru ventured carefully into the cave.

Makoto stopped his pacing immediately, fitting a smile to his face and turning to face the other, “A-ah! Haru! What are you doing here?”

Haru walked in and stood next to his friend. Of course he could see past that smile. All it took was one look into his eyes to see that he was still on the verge of tears. “What’s wrong?”

“What do you--?”

“Tell me what’s wrong.”

Haru said it gently, not forcefully, but the tone of his voice made Makoto crack. Tears welled up in his eyes again as he looked anywhere but his friend, clearly not able to stop the words tumbling out of his mouth.

“I’m losing you, Haru. I’ve tried to be supportive. I’ve tried to give you what you want. I just feel like no matter what happens, you’re going to disappear and I’m not ready to lose you. I won’t ever be ready for that.”

Haru looked up, stunned. He had very rarely felt completely stunned, but this moment had him. Losing him? Makoto thought he was losing him? For a moment Haru considered laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Of course! Things always get so twisted, don’t they?

“Makoto.” Haru looked up at him. He had never been one to shy away from things like this and much preferred to deal with them directly and honestly. It had taken Makoto a long time to get accustomed to that, but they had eventually found a balance that worked for them. “This is my fault and I acknowledge that and I’m sorry.”

“No, Haru—“

“Please, let me just say this.” It was unlike Haruka to plead but this situation was so unlike anything either of them had experienced that it didn’t even matter. “I understand why you feel that way. I’ve been pulling away and shutting you out and I know that I have been. It’s been intentional.”

Hurt flashed across Makoto’s face for only a moment, but it was one of the longest moments of Haru’s life.

“I’ve done it because I’ve been trying to protect you. To keep you happy. You like things how they are, don’t you? Well, I don’t. I want more. I want to be more than just best friends with you. And I understand that you don’t want that and I’m not offended, I’ve spent a lot of time making sure I can come to terms with that. But part of coming to terms with it was pulling away and I’m sorry it hurt you, that was never my intention.”

Finally taking a deep breath, Haru allowed himself to assess Makoto’s reaction. Tears were sliding down his cheeks finally and the sight broke Haru’s heart. However, as he looked closer, he saw that Makoto was smiling.

Before anymore could be said, Makoto reached out and pulled Haru to him, hugging him tighter than Haru could handle. After a moment he fought his way out and caught his breath, entirely caught off guard.

“Don’t you dare pull away from me like that ever again,” Was all Makoto said, but Haru knew what it meant.

He could feel it in his heart; the way the pieces repaired themselves. He could feel Makoto’s acceptance of his love filling him and bubbling over, making him truly smile at his best friend. Maybe they weren’t meant to be friends; they were always meant to be more.

Chapter Text

Haru had never been so scared in his life. Nothing had ever left him feeling as empty as he did now, staring at his best friend’s unconscious body on the beach. His head was screaming at him to do something, anything, but all he seemed to be able to manage was staring. Staring and trembling.

He reached out cautiously to touch Makoto and suppressed a shudder at how cold he felt. Just the water, Haru told himself as he forced his body to comply finally. It’s the water on his skin that’s cold, not his skin itself.

He looked Makoto over once—no injuries. With a deep breath he moved his body forward, not feeling the rain on his shoulders or the way his hair stuck to his face. He couldn’t feel anything beside the gap that was opening up in his heart and threatening to swallow him whole. For the first time he was thankful for how much they had been forced to practice CPR, because his body was acting on auto-pilot and that was the only way anything was going to get done.

With trembling fingers, he reached out to pinch Makoto’s nose and leaned over him, ready to start his breaths. Just before he could begin, Makoto jerked to his side and began coughing. The instantaneous relief Haru felt was something he didn’t think he would ever be able to describe.

“Makoto! Makoto!” He called, fighting the urge to reach out and shake Makoto.

“Ha…ru…ka?” Makoto’s green eyes searched the sky for a moment before settling on Haru’s blue ones.

Carefully Haru reached out to touch Makoto and in that moment, he realized nothing could ever scare him more than this. He couldn’t imagine a worse nightmare.

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Nagisa was laughing loudly in the pool, splashing Rei and Gou, if she ever dared come close enough to the edge of the pool. The three of them were in high spirits as they talked and enjoyed the warm weather of the summer.

Makoto sat at the edge of the pool with his feet in the water, leaning back on his hands and looking up at Haru who was perched on one of the diving boards, legs pulled up to his chest.

“Don’t you want to go in?” Makoto prompted, nodding his head towards the pool.

Haru didn’t reply, but he slid his eyes to Makoto, then to the pool, and finally away from both of them and off in the distance. That was all Makoto needed to know that the answer was no. For the first time in their entire lives, he found himself unable to get Haru in the pool.

Nanase Haruka had turned down the chance to go swimming.

While Makoto sat quietly next to him, worried about Haru, Nagisa swam over and reached up, trying to get his hands on Haru’s ankles. Haru backed away slightly and, when Nagisa persisted, he stood up and left entirely. He picked his backpack up and began the walk home with no warning.

Makoto scrambled up, apologizing to everyone and offering them quick goodbyes before scooping his own backpack off the ground and chasing after Haru.

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Haru had started meeting Makoto at the top of the stairs between their houses in the morning. In fact, Makoto would walk out to find Haru already sitting on the top step, watching the sky.

Haru insisted that he was fine, but Makoto was completely unnerved. He didn’t mind change, but these were drastic changes. This was Haru being someone other than Haru and it was starting to really worry Makoto.

As a last-ditch effort, Makoto stopped walking on their way to school and turned to his dark-haired best friend. “What do you say we skip school today and take a beach day?”

Haru scoffed.

“I’m serious!” Makoto stepped in front of Haru, blocking his path, “You haven’t been in the water as much as normal and I’m sure it’s killing you. It’s the end of the semester and we’ve both been really good with studying, we can take one day off and go to the beach.”

“I don’t want to go to the beach,” Haru said, turning his head away. And Makoto couldn’t help but notice that Haru was staring towards the town and not out towards the ocean like he always was.

“But, the water--!”

“I don’t want to go in the water!” The force behind Haru’s words surprised Makoto. Haru looked at him levelly, his face just as indifferent as always, but Makoto felt his heart shatter in his chest. Something was truly wrong with Haru.

“Haru…” Makoto reached out to gently touch his best friend, placing his hand against Haruka’s neck. “Tell me what this is about.”

Haru stared as stubbornly as ever out towards the town, his mouth set in a hard line. It was clear from his expression that he had no intent of telling Makoto what was wrong. But the longer Makoto looked, the more he noticed the subtleties of Haru’s expression. He could see the look in Haru’s eyes—fear. He could see the way Haru was biting on the corner of his lip—a nervous habit of his that Makoto had thought died years ago.

Perhaps the habit hadn’t died, it was just that Haru hadn’t been upset in years.

Makoto sighed and moved his hand to Haru’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze, “When you’re ready to tell me what happened, we’ll talk about it, alright?”

He didn’t get a reply, but he could see Haru looking at him out of the corner of his eyes. He could see the relief that seemed to replace the fear in those beautiful blue eyes. Without another word they fell in line next to each other again and began their walk to school like none of this had ever happened.

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It had been a little over a week since Makoto had confronted Haruka and yet Haru still kept his secret locked away. It had been a week of Haru shutting everyone out and refusing to participate in anything social and Makoto rushing to say they already had plans or needed to take care of his siblings to cover for Haru’s mood.

The others seemed to take it at face value and not push any further. At one point they had been suspicious of why Haru had stopped swimming but once Makoto had insisted that Haru had injured his shoulder and Haru hadn’t disputed, they let it go.

Makoto was getting more anxious every day that passed without an explanation from Haru, but he knew that pressing the issue would never get him anywhere. He had to wait for Haruka to decide it was time to talk about it and nothing but time could help him make that decision. Makoto just hoped the time would come soon, lest he go insane from worry.

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It was the last day of school and Makoto and Haruka finished their finals at almost exactly the same time. Haru walked out of his class to see Makoto walking up, backpack on and ready to go.

Makoto smiled his usual smile (one that was growing more and more tired and worried, Haru noticed) as he raised his hand in slight greeting. “Ready to go home?”

“Actually,” Haru replied, falling in step next to him, “I think we should take a detour to the beach.”

Makoto agreed without hesitation, hopeful that he was finally going to get to the bottom of all that had been troubling Haru. On their way, they talked about their exams and how excited they were to be done with school. Makoto longed to mention that they could be using their free time to swim more, but he knew better than to bring it up now. Haru had to start the conversation.

They finally made it to the beach and took a seat on an outcropping of rocks, decently far away from where the waves lapped idly at the shore. They sat next to each other, so close that their knees were touching. Neither moved further away.

After a minute Haru finally sighed and spoke up, “I’m sorry,” he said, “For worrying you.”

Makoto didn’t reply. He knew there was nothing he could say.

“I just—“ Haru broke off, running a hand through his hair. Makoto watched him as he gathered his words and noticed the way he was biting his lip again. “I almost lost you.” He said finally, looking up earnestly into Makoto’s face, “The water tried to take you away from me.”

Makoto was shocked, “Haru—“

Haru continued talking, seeming to force the words out. The look he shot Makoto pleaded with him to just listen for now. He just needed to get this out. “I was so scared. The water—you know how much I trusted the water. I knew you were afraid of it, but I never knew why. And now I know. You’re right, there’s something dark lurking down there. It’s just waiting to claim its prey. And that prey was almost you, Makoto.”

Makoto reached out and touched Haru’s cheek. His eyes were shining with what Haru realized to be tears. Panicked, Haru reached out and touched Makoto’s cheeks, too.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m so sorry, Haru. If only I had known. I don’t want to come between you and the water. I know how important it is to you. And I—I ruined that. I’m so sorry.”

“No!” Haru leaned closer, “You didn’t ruin this. You don’t get to apologize. You almost died. The water almost killed you and you’re apologizing? Makoto, why can’t you see? It’s not your fault. There’s nothing you could have done.”

Multiple times since the incident had happened, Makoto had felt guilty for the way things had happened. He shouldn’t have locked up like that. Nobody should have had to save him. He should have saved Rei. He dragged everyone else into this when he should have been able to handle it himself.

“You need the water,” Makoto protested weakly.

“I need you.” Haru said firmly. He scooted so he was sitting on a rock directly across from Makoto, their gazes level. “I need you, Makoto. I can’t lose you.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“You don’t always have control over that.”

The feeling was creeping back up Haru’s spine. For years he had felt like they were invincible. He knew that Makoto would never willingly leave his side and he had always left it at that. But this had been a rude awakening that Makoto didn’t always have a choice in whether or not he got to stay around. That knowledge had continued to haunt Haru, popping up at the worst time to make him afraid all over again.

“Makoto.” Haru was exasperated. He knew Makoto would react like this. He knew Makoto would feel guilty and insist that Haru needed water more than anything else. But Makoto didn’t understand. “Do you remember how you felt when you found out about the fisherman? Do you remember that fear that settled in your stomach? You couldn’t push it away, could you? I know you tried to and yet you’re still afraid of the ocean. You can’t control it.”

“No, but—“

“I can’t control this, either.” At some point Haru had grasped Makoto’s hands in his own and he was shaking them as he spoke, almost as if to emphasize his point. “The fear I felt when I saw you laying there is something I’ll never be able to shake. You had almost drowned in the ocean and I sat there, drowning in you. I was drowning in fear and memories of you and everything we’ve been through, and I wasn’t sure that we would get to make any more memories, and that’s a terrifying feeling. You can’t talk me out of this.”

There was a long silence between them then. They both took shuddering breaths, trying to calm down and get back to a reasonable state. At no point did either pull their hands away, though. Something about the connection made them feel grounded to each other and it was a feeling they both needed.

Finally Makoto squeezed Haru’s hands and looked up at him with the ghost of a smile, “Well I’m sorry, Haru. But whatever you decide to do, you know I’m there with you.”

Those words cut straight through to Haru’s heart. In that moment he overflowed with love for the boy who sat across from him. He had always cared about Makoto but suddenly he loved Makoto, wholly and completely. Makoto, who would do anything for Haru. Makoto, who almost drowned and then apologized for it.

Haru tugged on Makoto’s hands until they were both standing. Haru pulled his hands free and stepped forward to pull Makoto into a hug. They embraced, still full of a mixture of emotions, and simply held each other for a few moments. Then, just as they began to pull away, Haru turned his head and planted a quick kiss against Makoto’s neck.

“I know,” Haru said with a small smile, settling back into his place on the rock.

They stayed there in silence, watching the sun set and enjoying each other’s company.

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A few days had gone by and things had settled back into a normal routine for both of the boys. Haru continued to meet Makoto in the mornings at the top of the stairs and they would go out and spend their day together, doing whatever they felt like on any given day.

They had been enjoying each other’s company more than usual. It seemed that they had managed to get closer after their long talk about their now shared fear of the Ocean and water in general.

And while Makoto couldn’t deny that his heart swelled with love when he thought about the fact that Haru chose him over water, he still wanted to find a way for Haru to be able to have both.

Today he led Haru to the beach, despite the apprehensive looks he was getting from his partner. He grabbed Haru’s hand and led them both right up to the edge of the water, only pausing to remove their shoes. Then, grabbing Haruka’s hand again, Makoto pulled them into the water so that they were about mid-calf deep.

“Haru,” Makoto turned to look at him, gripping both of his hands tightly, “I’m not going to let you give up water.”

“Makoto, we talked—“

“No.” Makoto looked at Haru and then out to the ocean, “When I was scared of the ocean, you are the one who got me through it. You were the reason I still wanted to swim. And now, I’m going to be that for you. I’m the reason your afraid, so I’m going to be the reason you get over that fear and get back your love.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“Yes.” Makoto turned his gaze back to Haru then, “Completely. We’ll do this together.”

Haru smiled, feeling the overflow of emotion again. They had been through a lot in their past and they had so many wonderful memories together, but Haru had never appreciated Makoto as much as he should have. It wasn’t until he almost lost Makoto that he realized how important the boy was to him. When Makoto had woken up and looked at him, Haru had vowed to never take him for granted again.

“Thank you.” Haru said, “But promise me this: no more drowning.”

Makoto broke out in a smile and Haru allowed himself a moment to appreciate how much he enjoyed seeing Makoto smile. Then, without warning, Makoto reached out and cupped Haru’s face, puling it closer until he was kissing his best friend. Haru stumbled a few steps forwards so that they were more level and arched back to better fit his lips to Makoto’s.

After a moment they pulled apart slightly and Makoto placed two more short kisses against Haru’s lips before stepping away completely.

Breathless but happy, Makoto replied, “Only drowning in each other, okay?”

Chapter Text

The water in the bathtub had turned cold a long time ago, but Haru refused to get out. He sat stubbornly in the tub, hoping that somehow the water would wash away the uncertainty in his heart. After all, the water always had the answers he needed. Why would this time be any different?

Carefully Haru lowered himself further into the water so only his nose and eyes remained above the water. Taking a deep breath, Haru forced himself to start thinking all over. His mind had been running in circles for a while now and he never seemed to be able to get out of the cycle.

Lately the day of Makoto’s near drowning had been playing over and over in his head, but that wasn’t the problem. It had been long enough now that the pain wasn’t as suffocating as it had first been and the paralyzing fear no longer accompanied it.

Instead what he kept getting stuck on was how close he had come to kissing Makoto.

Yes, of course he was just doing it to try to save his friends life and he was thrilled that it hadn’t come down to mouth-to-mouth (learning it in class and applying it in a real life situation were vastly different), but now that the fear had subsided he was starting to look at it differently.

He was starting to see it as a loss. A loss of something he hadn’t even known he wanted.

Makoto was fine. He had survived and gone on to be just as amazing as he had always been. So what was it Haru was missing? What was it he was yearning for without even meaning to?

Unconsciously Haru ran his fingers over his lips under the water. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he knew what it was that was bothering him.

He wanted to kiss Makoto. To see if his lips were as soft as they looked and to find out if he tasted as sweet as his smile.

The thought made Haru plunge his head under the cold water.  It wasn’t the fact that he wanted to kiss Makoto that bothered him; it was the fact that he had wanted to for years. It was this fact, too, he knew, that made him feel like Makoto’s near drowning was a loss. There had been his single chance to kiss Makoto without it seeming weird.

Haru resurfaced and shook his hair off of his face, little droplets flying across his bathroom. He was becoming increasingly frustrated with himself. He shouldn’t look at such a serious situation in this light. What mattered was that Makoto was safe and alive.

Before Haru could delve deeper into his thoughts, a soft knock sounded on his bathroom door followed by Makoto’s voice announcing that he was coming in. Haru cursed quietly to himself before ducking under the water again. He never seemed to be ready to face Makoto anymore.

Unfortunately, Haru could only hold his breath for so long and, when he resurfaced, Makoto was standing there with his hand extended and that breathtaking smile covering his lips as always. Haru could almost feel the blush rise to his cheeks as he took in the sight.

“Ohayo, Haru-chan!” Makoto said, extending his hand further forward.

All Haru could do was avert his eyes and gratefully accept the hand in front of him. As Makoto pulled him out of the water, Haru relished in the comfort of his hand in Makoto’s. It was a feeling he had known his whole life; one he hoped he would never have to go without.

Distracted by this thought, Haru forgot to let go of Makoto’s hand at the appropriate time. So, as Makoto continued to pull his hand back to his side, he inadvertently dragged Haru forward, too. Haru, still wet from the tub, slipped and tipped forward, taking Makoto down with him.

In moments they were in a heap on the ground, both groaning and now soaking wet. Haru pushed himself up hastily and suddenly froze. He had both hands propped on either side of Makoto’s head and was now staring down at his best friend who had a blush tainting his cheeks.

Haru could swear that he, too, was red-faced, but that thought didn’t even cross his mind. Before he could chicken out, Haru leaned down and closed the gap between them, placing his lips against Makoto’s.

In that moment, fireworks exploded inside Haru’s stomach. He had spent years fantasizing about what kissing Makoto would be like and he had never even gotten close to how amazing it really felt.

Of course, in all of his fantasies, he had pictured much more romantic scenarios for their first kiss, but that was okay. With how badly this desire had been plaguing him recently, he didn’t even care, he was just thrilled to have it happen.

Slowly Haru pulled away. He didn’t move far, though, just enough to see Makoto’s eyes and expression clearly. He knew he should be feeling panic about the situation but he didn’t have it in him to be worried. He was on cloud nine and he would be damned if someone ruined that for him now.

Makoto was the first to break the silence, which surprised Haruka, but he didn’t mind.

“Haru…” Makoto reached up to brush a few stray hairs off of Haru’s forehead before laying his hand comfortably against Haruka’s cheek. “You have no idea how long I’ve waited for that.”

Haru couldn’t stifle the laugh that came next, “I think I do.”

Makoto smiled up at him before pulling him back down for another kiss. And in that moment Haru realized that, as impossible as it may be, Makoto tasted even sweeter than his smile.

Chapter Text

When Haru first walked out of his house and saw Makoto sitting there on the stairs, he felt a moment of relief. A moment of ‘of course Makoto—sweet, understanding, forgiving Makoto—would be there’. But as Haru treaded a few steps closer, that feeling of relief soon left his body.

Makoto was, indeed, sitting on the stairs between their houses. It was late—later than Makoto had been out in a long time, Haru knew. Stars twinkled in the sky and the moon shone brightly above them, lighting up their surroundings on what was honestly a beautiful night. But Makoto wasn’t waiting for Haru; that became clear instantly.

Makoto sat on the stairs, petting the white cat that often waited there for him. The cat curled through his legs, weaving from one side to another and rubbing up against Makoto in what was a clear attempt to make Makoto feel better. But that wasn’t what stopped Haru dead in his tracks. What stopped him was the fact that Makoto was talking to the cat.

“I wish he could just see…” Makoto sighed, stroking a finger along the cat’s spine as it continued to move around him. “I wish—“

Haru recognized the sound of tears in Makoto’s voice and his heart constricted painfully.

“I just wanted him to choose something—anything! Honestly, I didn’t care what. I’ll never care what he chooses, as long as it makes him happy…” His voiced trailed off on the last word and through the moonlight, Haru could see Makoto’s shoulders shaking.  “All I’ve ever wanted is… is his happiness.”

A cool breeze blew through the area and Haru could feel the way it ruffled his bangs. For a moment he allowed himself to close his eyes and just feel the wind; feel how good it felt to be outside and to be alive.

“I’ve tried everything! I’ve tried—“ Makoto broke off then, sniffling and wiping at his eyes. Haru stood still, eyes still shut, but he could sense every movement Makoto made. He could feel the way Makoto’s fingers trembled as he lowered them back to the cat. He could sense the jiggling of Makoto’s legs as he was too upset to sit still. He could feel it all, and knowing that he caused it all broke his heart.

Haru had returned to his house after their fight and immediately tossed his clothes to the floor and hidden himself in his bed. It had taken an hour or so for his initial anger to wear off and once it did, a sharp ache of pain filled his heart instead. He tossed and turned in his bed, trying to chase away the pain but nothing worked.

All he could see behind his eyes was Makoto’s face when he had told him to butt out and all he could see with his eyes open was his empty, Makoto-less house. Nothing had felt right in his life for a while, but this was something entirely different. It was a whole new level of wrong that Haru hadn’t even known existed.

Opening his eyes again, Haru turned towards his best friend. His whole body ached with the pain of what had happened tonight and he needed to fix it. Every fiber in his being was yelling at him to get Makoto back before it was too late.

“Maybe… maybe he’s right. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all these years.” Makoto’s voice was muffled with the tears that were flowing freely now. “Maybe I should just leave him alone and let him decide. Why would I ever think I know what’s best for him?”

The cat had stopped moving and jumped into Makoto’s lap and it was currently nuzzling its head underneath his chin. Makoto turned his face into the soft white fur, not bothering to care that he was soaking it with his tears. The cat was the only thing that cared to comfort him at the moment.

“Normally after a fight I would go check on him and apologize.”

This was entirely true and it had already crossed Haru’s mind multiple times. It was this fact, actually, that had propelled Haru out of bed and to the stairs in the first place. When hours had passed and Makoto hadn’t shown up, the fear that Haru had permanently damaged their friendship set in.

“But he ran away so fast. And he was so upset. I think I would have been the last person he wanted to see.”

Haru moved forward slowly and quietly, ignoring the way his heart sunk lower into his stomach with every word Makoto said.

“I’ll have to have someone check on him tomorrow and make sure he’s okay.”

Five more stairs till he was next to Makoto.

Four.

Three.

“I hope I’ll at least get a chance to say goodbye to him before I…”

Two.

One stair.

He was standing behind Makoto’s back now, inches away from his oblivious best friend. Makoto never did have much awareness of his surroundings. While he spent all of his time keeping Haru out of bodies of water, Haru spent all of his time making sure Makoto didn’t run into people whenever they went out.

“I doubt he’ll come to Nationals. And even if he does, how am I supposed to look at him? What am I supposed to say?”

The cat was looking over Makoto’s shoulder directly at Haru now and he could almost feel the animosity rolling off of it. It felt almost as if the cat knew that Haru was the cause of all Makoto’s pain.

Taking a deep breath, Haru sidestepped Makoto and took at seat next to him, not daring to look into that tearstained face. Not yet. “You aren’t supposed to say anything.”

Makoto jumped, pulling the cat closer to his chest and stared at Haru for a moment. Haru had expected some sort of exclamation or question as to what he was doing here, but when none came, Haru could feel the lump forming in his throat. Things were already different. He just prayed they weren’t too different.

“You’ve always been the one apologizing to me, even when I was the wrong one. You’ve always been the one to put everything aside and come back to me, even when I’m the one that pushed you away. You’ve always done everything for me, Makoto. And while I know I didn’t exactly show it earlier, I know that this, too, was something you were doing for me.”

The tears were still in Makoto’s eyes and Haru longed to reach out and wipe them away but he couldn’t. Not yet. He didn’t deserve that right. Not until he finally did what he’d been avoiding for so long—laid himself bare and opened his heart fully.

“I was afraid—I’ve been afraid for so long now. I’m sure you know that, but it’s affected everything for me. And earlier I was scared and angry and I felt cornered and I’m sorry, Makoto. I’m sorry for lashing out at you, for pushing you away, for not listening to anything you said. I’m sorry for hurting you and for saying awful things to you. I know I can’t take back any of those words and I can’t heal any of those wounds but if I could, I would. In an instant, I would take it all back.”

There was a silence the length of three heartbeats; Haru counted as he breathed in an attempt to get his rattling nerves under control. And then finally, finally Makoto spoke to him.

“Why are you saying all of this?”

It was far from the answer Haru had wanted to hear, but it was an answer nonetheless. Makoto had listened to his words and responded and that was the opening Haru needed.

“I spent a lot of time earlier—once I calmed down—thinking about it. I replayed it over and over in my head and this time I really listened to your words. I finally realized what you were trying to do. You weren’t pushing me towards swimming, You weren’t pushing me towards anything in particular. You were just pushing me forwards because really, what other way do I have to go at this point?”

Makoto licked his lips. His cheeks were drying, but Haru knew that the tears could come back any second. After a breath, Makoto responded so quietly that Haru wasn’t sure if he was just talking to himself. “I don’t want to leave you behind.”

“I know that,” Haru turned to look at Makoto then. He really looked at his best friend, bathed in the moonlight and beautiful all the same. “I know that now. “

Makoto’s green eyes stared back at him, watery and wavering, full of uncertainty and heartbreak. Haru knew he was making progress. He knew that he could apologize again and they could go back to how things had been the past few weeks. But that wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted the way things were for years. He wanted the security he felt with Makoto at his side. And there was only one way for him to get that.

“I want you to do what’s right for you.” Haru took a breath then and prepared to say all the things he had never said. All the things he had assumed Makoto knew when, in fact, he may not have known. “But I want to be there. I want whatever is right for you to include me. I don’t know what I want to do and I know I’m running out of time and that I must make a decision soon. I know I’ve been avoiding that and it’s caused stress on everyone. But there’s one other thing I know; something I’ve always known. Whatever I do choose to do, wherever I do choose to go, I want you there with me. I haven’t decided what to do, but I’ve never questioned the fact that you’ll be there doing it with me.”

The tears were back instantly, just like Haru knew they would be. But this time he allowed himself the luxury of reaching out and wiping them off of his best friends cheeks.

“Haru…”

“I’m sorry I yelled at you, Makoto.” He said as he stroked gently across Makoto’s cheekbone to wipe away another tear. “I’m sorry I told you to stop meddling. The truth is, without you, I would have stayed lost for the rest of my life. It’s only because of you that I’ve ever known what to do and where to go and I don’t ever want you to stop meddling in my life. I don’t think I could handle it if you did.”

Makoto reached up and grasped at Haru’s wrist, pulling his hand away. Haru was struck instantly by the resemblance of this moment to their fight earlier but he relished in the fact that this time Makoto was grabbing onto him and not letting go.

“I’m not asking you to stay home or to give up your spot at that university. I would never ask that of you. I’m just asking your forgiveness. I’m asking for a chance to work with you to figure out how we’re going to do this.”

Another gentle wind blew through and pushed the bangs off Makoto’s forehead. The light struck his eyes in that moment so strongly that Haru felt his breath being taken away. They stared at each other for a minute, having a conversation without sharing words they way they always had.

It was in that moment that Haru realized. It was that moment that everything became clear to him.

“I do have a dream.” He whispered quietly. “You’re my dream.”

“H-Haru?”

Haru dropped his eyes. “Well think about it. When you look into your future, whatever you see yourself doing or wherever you find yourself at, that’s your dream, isn’t it? But when I look into my future, I don’t see a specific place or job—I see you. And I think that makes you my dream.”

Makoto squeezed Haru’s wrist gently and Haru finally got the courage to look up at him then. The cat was still settled in his lap, though it seemed more comfortable and relaxed then when he had first approached. Makoto’s eyes were still wet and Haru was surprised that his own eyes weren’t wet. The lump was still in his throat and it hurt every time he took a breath or swallowed.

“Forgive me,” He whispered.

Makoto smiled back at him. A small, weak but utterly radiant smile. “I forgave you the moment you ran away.”

Without thinking, without even pausing to breathe, Haru pulled his hand free from Makoto’s grasp, reached up to cup his face and leaned in to kiss him.

Years of his life flashed before his eyes in the moments of that kiss and in each memory was Makoto. Haru had never known a life without Makoto and he never wanted to. He had learned a lot tonight and he was determined to take these lessons and become a better person.

Words hurt. He had never really been one for words and therefore had not anticipated the way they would tear at Makoto’s heart. They had fixed things, but Haru knew he was lucky to have someone as forgiving as Makoto to learn this lesson with.

Communication is key. Real communication. He couldn’t expect Makoto to read his mind all the time and he couldn’t keep pushing people away. It wasn’t always easy to talk and share his feelings, but it was right.

You don’t always have to find a dream; you can create one.

That last one, he thought as he pulled away from Makoto, was the most important. He had been creating a dream his whole life with his best friend. He had been creating a life and a future. And if that wasn’t a dream, what was?

“Haru…” Makoto looked at him, a soft smile still playing at his lips.

All Haru could do was smile up at him and kiss him again.

Yes, he thought as he felt Makoto’s hand gently rest against his shoulder, this is what having a dream and a future feels like.

Chapter Text

Haruka Nanase stared down at the words written perfectly across his arm with his usual disdain.

Haru-Chan!

That’s all it said. That’s all it had ever said. And while Haru knew that the words were that of his so-called soulmate, he couldn’t help but feel let down. That would be the first thing they said to him? A nickname he didn’t even like being addressed by? Plus, it was so vague. There were no distinguishing factors to it. It almost sounded childish.

He sighed and pulled his coat over his arm. There was no point in trying to puzzle it out now. He and Makoto had tried time and time again but there simply wasn’t enough to go by.

Makoto looked at Haru as he put on his coat, “Thinking about it again, Haru?”

Haru shot him a look that implied he didn’t want to talk about it. What he didn’t say, though, was that he was always thinking about it. Not because he wanted to find his soulmate, but because he didn’t want to.

x—x—x—x—x—x—x—

Makoto Tachibana could recite the words written on his arm to you from memory. Not because he looked at it all day every day, he insisted, but because it was such a simple, short statement.

Think fast!

Two words. He had stared at two words for 17 years of his life and wondered, endlessly, when he would finally meet “the one”. Many people in his 17 years had used that phrase in relation to him, but that never mattered. Those had to be the first words they ever said to him, and that had not ever been the case.

But he couldn’t deny that his heart hurt a little every time he heard those two words.

x—x—x—x—x—x—x—

Mrs. Tachibana bustled about the kitchen, working on three pots at once and something else in the oven. How she did it, the boys never knew. She never wanted help, though. Not in the kitchen anyways. Instead, she tasked Makoto and Haru with keeping the twins entertained so she could cook in peace until Mr. Tachibana was home from work..

“Onii-chan!” The twins cooed in sync as they appeared with a video between their hands, “Can we watch this?”

Makoto took the VHS from their hands and flipped it over. It was one of the many home videos that Mrs. Tachibana had recorded all through their lives. The only downside was that she didn’t think to label them until it was too late so there was no knowing what was about to be on them.

“Sure!” He smiled, patting Ran’s head and turning towards the TV.

The twins settled on the ground directly in front of the couch, leaning up on either side of Haru’s legs as he sat on the couch. Makoto popped the VHS in and started the movie before taking his spot next to Haru on the couch.

The scene unfolded before them on the TV screen; it was winter and a very young Makoto stood outside, ushering his parents out the door. He was wrapped up in a scarf, hat, gloves and coat as the snow fell gently to the ground around him. He was bouncing eagerly from foot to foot, but he couldn’t have been much older than four.

“Makoto, darling, hold on a second!” His mother’s voice came through the speakers as the camera twisted around to show the front door shutting.

A hand reached onto the screen and took a hold of Makoto’s small hand. As soon as they made contact, young Makoto made a mad dash for the stairs that sat between his house and Haru’s. Young Makoto took the stairs two at a time, dragging his laughing mother behind him along a familiar route.

Makoto chanced a glance at Haru and smiled to see a slight fondness in Haru’s eyes as he watched.

“Haru-chan is waiting for me!” Young Makoto cried, turning to face the camera.

His mother’s laugh sounded again and she finally released his hand. He made another mad dash around the corner and, when the camera managed to catch up to him, he had stopped short and was staring at an equally young, equally bundled up Haruka.

There was a long moment of silence where the two stared at each other before Makoto, in utter glee, exclaimed, “Haru-chan!”

Haru, in part, looked uncomfortable and turned away. (Makoto couldn’t stifle a laugh as he watched, thinking about how many times he had seen Haru do exactly that. He had never really realized how far back that reaction went.) There was a moment of silence before Haru reached down, grabbed a handful of snow and, as he formed it into a compact ball, called to young Makoto, “Think fast!”

Young Makoto ducked and his mother’s laugh came through the speakers. The twins rounded on the two, ignoring the part in the video where Haru’s grandmother came out to scold him for being so rude. “Haru-chan, that wasn’t nice!”

Haru shrugged and turned to look at Makoto. For his part, Makoto could see his own discomfort reflected in Haru’s eyes.

There was no way, right? It wasn’t possible, was it?

They both wanted to ask these questions but how would they know?

Instead, Makoto went for a light-hearted remark. “I don’t remember this, Haru. Do you?”

Haru shook his head.

“I don’t suppose you would,” Mrs. Tachibana said from the entrance to the kitchen. All eyes turned to her. “You were both so young. In fact, you had both just learned to talk at that point.”

“W-what?” Makoto asked. He didn’t miss the knowing sparkle in his mother’s eyes as she responded.

“There was a while when you were both infants where one of Haru’s relatives got really sick and he had to leave for a little over a year. When he left, neither of you were able to speak full sentences. In fact, I don’t think either of you could pronounce each other’s names. That’s why I had to film that moment. You had been so excited for Haru to come back, so excited to show him that you could talk and that you knew his name and, well, that’s the first time you two ever spoke to each other. I guess the rest from there is history.”

With one more knowing smile she beckoned the twins to wash up for dinner and the three of them disappeared.

A long silence ensued where neither of the boys looked at each other, but they both knew. Of course they knew. They were best friends, they had discussed the words on their arms with each other many, many, many times. There was no denying it now.

“Haru…” Makoto began, finding his voice weaker than he had hoped.

Instead, Haru seemed to have something to say. “Do you remember when I said I didn’t want to find whoever would speak this words? I didn’t want my soulmate?”

Makoto nodded, not trusting his voice again. He remembered that day very vividly. He had already been replaying it before Haru asked, fear settling into his stomach.

“I said that,” Haru said, his voice barely above a whisper, each syllable dragged out painfully, “Because I was already in love with someone else. And I didn’t want to have to give that up.”

It felt like an anchor was sinking in Makoto’s stomach. “Haru,  I would never ask you to—this doesn’t change—of course—!”

Haru looked up at him then, his blue eyes clearer than they had been in ages. They no longer looked like a storm looming over the ocean, dangerous and mysterious and still so enticing. They looked like a clear lake on a Summer’s day—you could stare into the depths of his soul if you were willing to.

“That person was you, Makoto.”

There was a three second pause where the words sunk into Makoto’s mind. Haru watched with baited breath, waiting for the moment he could see the click. Three seconds. Two breaths. That’s all it took for the telltale smile to appear on his lips. That’s al it took for Haru to know that it was going to be okay.

x—x—x—x—x—x—x—

The rest of the night had been uneventful, despite Makoto’s huge grin and Mrs. Tachibana’s pointed looks. It wasn’t until dinner was cleaned up and the twins were tucked into bed that Makoto and Haru got to be alone again.

As they climbed into bed, a movie playing quietly in the background, Makoto smiled to himself.

“I think,” He whispered quietly, “this is the first time I haven’t hated those words on my arm.”

Even in the darkness of the night, even as Haru buried his head into Makoto’s shoulder, he could see the smile that graced Haru’s lips as he whispered, “I think you’re right.”

Chapter Text

Makoto had stopped touching Haru. Not entirely, of course, but almost entirely. Now, he only touched Haru when it was necessary; absolutely necessary.

Haru tried to be reasonable and unbothered by it. After all, Makoto didn’t touch Nagisa or Rei more than necessary either. But Haru wasn’t Nagisa or Rei, he was Makoto’s best friend and Makoto had always touched him. Again, he tried to be reasonable and acknowledge that Makoto did touch him still, just not as often. No more bumping hands as they walked along the coast. No more Makoto straightening out the collar on his uniform, running his hands across Haru’s shoulders to make sure everything was smooth. No more of the little touches. The most important ones.

Annoyed that the water wasn’t soothing these thoughts away like he wanted them to, Haru righten himself and began to head towards the edge of the pool. Makoto was, of course, sitting on the cement looking worriedly at Haru. He had protested profusely to Haru’s swimming because it was still early in the season and the water wasn’t warm by any means, but had eventually relented. Haru knew that if he did get sick, Makoto wouldn’t rub his face in it. He would simple settle in to take care of Haru and nurse him back to health.

As if on cue, Haru sneezed. Makoto’s worried expression deeped as he reached a hand out to Haru who took it obligingly. He was hoisted out of the water and stood across his best friend.

Normally, Makoto would press the back of his hand to Haru’s forehead to feel for a fever. It had happened so many times that Haru practically closed his eyes in anticipation of it. Instead, Makoto’s green eyes fixed Haru with a stare and he asked “Are you feeling okay? Feverish?”

A moment passed where Haru considered screaming in response instead of answering. “I’m fine.”

The look that creased Makoto’s brow was one Haru knew well; the look that implied that he didn’t believe Haru--that he could see through Haru’s white lie. Normally that look would get some reaction out of Haru but if Makoto could pull away, Haru could too. So, instead, he grabbed his towel off the ground and turned on his heel and stalked off.

He didn’t need to look back to make sure Makoto was following.

---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x

On a normal morning, Haru would stay in the bathtub until Makoto came in to drag him out. It was something they had been doing for years; routine. Lately, however, the routine had disappeared. Instead of coming in, Makoto started knocking on the bathroom door and insisting that Haru come out, waiting outside the door until he did. That was enough to set Haru’s nerves on edge but it got worse from there. Now, Makoto came later and later each day so that it was more likely that Haru was out of the tub by the time he arrived.

Today, Makoto would walk out of his house to find Haru leaning against the railing at the top of the stairs between their houses.

Haru heard Makoto’s door open and close but didn’t look his way. He wanted to pretend that he was calm and collected, utterly unbothered by their new routine, when in reality it was eating him away from the inside out. Haru could feel his sanity wearing thinner at the seams with each passing day, but he wasn’t one to get into emotional talks. That was Makoto’s realm. Makoto started those conversations and, honestly, did most of the talking during them. And since he clearly wasn’t in the mood to have one, Haru wasn’t either.

“Ohayu, Haru.” Makoto greeted as he ascended the stairs, a slight glint of surprise in his eyes.

Haru inclined his head slightly in response and pushed off the railing. He fell into step easily beside Makoto and stared off at the ocean. He wasn’t really listening--he wasn’t listening at all, in fact--but he assumed Makoto was chattering away beside him like usual. Instead, he was trying not to think about the way they stepped perfectly in sync with each other, despite the discrepancy in their leg lengths. He was trying not to think about the fact that Makoto was walking an extra foot away from him--not to think about the fact that he would literally have to reach to touch Makoto now if he wanted to.

Not that he wanted to.

Not that it mattered.

Instead, he focused all of his energy on the sparkling ocean and ignoring the sinking feeling in his gut.

---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x

Their entire day of classes passed and Makoto didn’t glance at Haru once. He didn’t scold Haru for not taking notes. He didn’t interact with Haru at all.

When the end of the day came, Haru darted out of his classroom and straight to the pool. He didn’t look for Makoto, didn’t tell him where he was going, nothing. He just darted. His feelings were beginning to suffocate him and it was a feeling he didn’t know how to handle. In his mind, the only thing that could cure it was the water.

He stripped in record time and dove into the water, relishing in the cold bite of the water against his skin. The slight sting was a break from the other pain he had been feeling--the internal pain that he couldn’t explain. Haru swam laps in the pool--something he rarely did--in an attempt to exhaust himself, hoping it would exhaust his mind.

And yet, when he surfaced from the water, Makoto was there, waiting patiently next to the pool with a book in his lap.

Frustrated, Haru ducked back under the water and swam more laps. He swam until the sun was just beginning to kiss the horizon, the colors of the sunset painting the sky for them. His body was tired, but his mind was not. Still, he knew he couldn’t stay in the pool all day. He knew that because Makoto had recited it to him nearly every day for their entire lives.

Every day but today.

Haru said nothing as he toweled off and headed home.

---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x

The next day, Rei and Nagisa joined them for lunch on the roof. Haru never minded their presence but today he found himself downright thankful for it. He was running out of sanity and didn’t think he could be alone with Makoto for another awkward lunch.

There are only so many ways Haru can rearrange the food in his lunch without eating it and he feared he was reaching that limit. Normally, Makoto would notice that he wasn’t eating. Normally, without even asking, Makoto would sense what was wrong and would know what to do. Normally, Haru wouldn’t have to think about what Makoto would do. He missed normally.

“Ne, Haru-chan?” Nagisa nudged Haru’s knee with his own. “You seem more out of it than usual.”

Haru waited, expecting Makoto to interject with an explanation before realizing that he had to speak for himself. “Just have something on my mind.”

“Share it with us! We can help! That’s what friends are for!” Nagisa boasted, but Haru turned his head away.

Rei--kind, sensible Rei--jumped in then, “Nagisa, he doesn’t have to share everything with us. If he needs our help, he’ll ask for it.”

Unfortunately, though predictably, Nagisa was not to be deterred. “Mako-chan, what is going on with Haru-chan? Should we be worried?”

For the first time in what felt like ages--at this point it had to be ages, Haru reasoned-- Haru felt the familiar weight of Makoto’s eyes on his back. Without even looking he could picture the expression on Makoto’s face; downtilt of his lips and eyebrows crinkled as he scoured Haru for a reason for his behavior. Normally, Haru thought, and then cut himself off before he could even finish it. He was done thinking about normally. He had a new normal now, and he needed to get used to it.

He waited silently, staring his Mackerel down with a fierce expression, for Makoto to make something up. Or to admit he didn’t know. Anything. Anything to break the silence that was stretching on forever and suffocating him.

“Haru?” Makoto said, finally. His voice was soft, a gruff whisper reaching out only for Haru. How long had it been since he had heard his name said like that? Why did he care?

Instead of responding, Haru pushed off the ground and walked down the stairs. He left his lunch sitting on the roof behind him and missed the way Makoto’s hand had just been hovering over his shoulder before he stood up.

---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x

Space is the only thing Haru wants by the end of the day but he’s surprisingly limited in that. He can’t think of a single place he could where Makoto wouldn’t know to look for him. Even the place he thinks is most unexpected, Makoto would know. They knew each other too well. Or, they used to. But Makoto has started behaving this strange way and Haru has no idea why.

Haru decides to go to the ocean, knowing it’s an easy place to find him if Makoto decides to look for him. It’ll be the second place he looks. The school pool, the ocean and then his bathtub last. He figured it was only a matter of time before Makoto showed up and he relished the time as much as he could.

Sure enough, not too long after he arrived, a backpack was dropped to the ground next to him. He didn’t turn to look at Makoto as he sat down next to him. He didn’t spare him a greeting, either.

Silence stretched between them but Haru refused to break it. If there was one thing that could be said about him, it was that he was stubborn. This stubbornness was part of the reason that only Makoto truly understood him. Only Makoto was patient enough and forgiving enough to look past all the stubborn moments and get to what was underneath it all.

An ache opened up in Haru’s chest at the thought and the fear that he was losing his best friend threatened to swallow him whole.

“Haru,” Makoto began, his voice in that rough whisper from earlier in the day. Haru wanted to get up and leave again, but he knew he couldn’t. He couldn’t avoid this forever. Instead, he steeled himself against whatever was about to come. “I’m sorry. I promise, it isn’t because of you.”

Swallowing against the knot in his throat, “What isn’t?”

“My pulling away.”

So it was intentional, Haru realized. In his heart, he had known it was intentional. It had to be. Because Makoto’s touch and concern was unconscious. It was ingrained in him, in their friendship. The only way for that to go away would be for him to intentionally take it away. Still, hearing it confirmed stung.

“Then why?”

Makoto paused, and Haru allowed himself to look over at his best friend. Makoto’s green eyes were fixated on the ocean, a distant look in them. Haru recognized that look but, more so, he recognized the conflict in Makoto’s eyes. “It was becoming too hard for me. The closeness. The constantly together. All of it. I do so many things not because I like them--even though I do!--but because I want to be with you. So much of my life cycles around you.”

Haru’s heart dropped further into his stomach with every word.

“And I don’t mean that negatively! If I could have it my way, it would never change. I’d let you be the center of my life forever, if I could.”

Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Haru squeaked out a few words. “And why can’t you?”

Surprise flashed across Makoto’s face then. Genuine surprise. “Do-do you want me to?”

“Well, you’re the center of my life and I didn’t plan on changing that anytime soon.” Haru answered, hoping he sounded nonchalant.

Makoto stared at him, really looked deep at his expression, trying to read into what he was saying, looking for a crack. But there was none and Haru knew that with certainty because he had told the truth. His life had always revolved around Makoto and he liked it that way. He liked knowing Makoto would be there to remember his lunch when he forgot it or to pull him out of the way of a pothole in the road he hadn’t noticed. He had gotten this far in life, sure, but that was because he had Makoto. He didn’t think he could have gotten here without him and he certainly didn’t want to go forward without him.

Suddenly Makoto laughed--really laughed. Haru was surprised but relieved at the reaction. The smile on his friend’s face made him feel better. But what really pushed it over the edge was when Makoto reached out and tousled Haru’s hair.

“Haru-- Oh, Haru, this is just a ridiculous misunderstanding. It’s my fault! I thought you wanted distance from me and I was trying to give it to you!”

“Why would I ever want distance from you?”

“You’ve been so upset lately and nothing I was doing was working. When I started to pull away, you pulled away too and I thought that was what you wanted. I thought--”

“I thought that was what you wanted.” Haru replied.

Makoto looked at him and laughed miserably. “Not very good friends if we can’t even read each other, huh?”

“It happens,” Haru replied, feeling like the reasonable one for once. “Just promise me that you’ll never do that again. I always want you around.”

“I promise.”

---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x

Haru had hoped that things would go back to normal after their talk, but they didn’t. Well, they did. But they didn’t. Makoto was back to all the little touches he always did; his hand hovering at Haru’s low back as they walked through a crowd or their fingers grazing as Makoto passes Haru a set of notes that he knows Haru didn’t take in class. But it didn’t feel like it did before. It almost felt forced.

Finding himself more frustrated than ever, Haru decided he couldn’t take it anymore. On their walk home that day he stopped dead and turned to face his best friend. “Makoto,” He said. Makoto looked at him. “What is it?”

He could see Makoto considering a lie, could see it forming in his mind and he could see the moment Makoto registered his expression and let the lie die. Haru would know if he lied again. After all, he had detected this one, hadn’t he?

Makoto answered his question with a question, “Why do our lives circle around each other, Haru?”

Stunned, Haru didn’t answer. He wasn’t sure how he would answer. They had always circled around each other, that was the only life he had known. Makoto had been more of a constant in his life than his own parents. He couldn’t imagine a life where Makoto wasn’t there by his side every single day. That was just how their life was supposed to go. How do you describe something that’s just meant to be?

“I know what you’re thinking,” Makoto says after a moment and Haru doesn’t try to deny it. He’s certain that Makoto does, in fact, know exactly what he’s thinking. He always does. “But what does meant to be mean, Haru? Meant to be what?”

Green eyes meet blue and this time, Haru didn’t turn away. This time, he searched Makoto’s expression and scrutinized his eyes for an idea as to the train of thought he was following and he found it. Of course, he realized, Makoto was thinking of more. Because that’s what meant to be is, isn’t it? Meant to be more, meant to be something, together.

Perhaps he should have been surprised. He probably should have realized it sooner. Instead, he just felt a sort of calmness. The same kind he felt when he got out of the pool only to have Makoto hand him a towel that wasn’t his because he had forgotten his and somehow Makoto had known and brough and extra. Somehow Makoto always knew. He was always there, completing Haru’s life--completing Haru himself.

“So let’s do it,” Haru says and Makoto’s mouth twists into a wry smile, “the whole thing, you and me.”

“Just like that?” Makoto asks.

“Just like that,” Haru confirms. “Why, would you have it any differently?”

“I don’t know,” Makoto muses as they take off again. He smiles openly at Haru and this time, the smile feels real. “I could go for an extravagant declaration of love.”

Haru scoffs, but smiles to himself nonetheless. Instead, he reaches out and slides his fingers through Makoto’s, locking their hands together. Makoto squeezes back gently and the knot of dread that had been forming in Haru’s stomach for days now unties. He understands where Makoto was coming from and how he was afraid Haru might take it badly. He understands that Makoto didn’t want to push him and he was grateful for that, even if it meant days of distress.

“How about this,” Haru says as they walk hand-in-hand back towards their houses. “You do one first, and I’ll do one second.”

“Don’t offer something you aren’t willing to deliver!” Makoto laughs, pulling Haru closer to his side. They bump shoulders, hands interlocked, and Haru’s skin comes alive. Something about the touch of Makoto’s skin felt entirely new--and exciting--to him and he looked forward to getting to know these new touches and these new feelings.

As the finished the distance to their house, Haru found himself thinking about how easy everything was with Makoto. And how easy they had moved forward in their relationship. And he was grateful to have been paired with someone who was always reaching out for him, just waiting for him to reach back.

Chapter Text

“Everyone who swims with you ends up suffering somehow, eh?”

Without even thinking, Makoto spun on his heels, eyes searching for his best friend. “Haru…”

The look on Haru’s face was enough to make Makoto’s blood boil. It wasn’t often he was angry, and he couldn’t name a time when he had ever been this angry before. His hands shook at his side as he turned back around, his green eyes narrowed. He took a step towards Hiyori, who glanced at him and dropped the smug smile that was gracing his lips. He took another step. And another. In one more step, he was nose-to-nose with Hiyori.

“Listen carefully, because I won’t repeat myself.” Makoto’s voice was low and malice dripped off every syllable. “You do not ever--ever-- talk to Haru like that again, got it?”

To his credit, Hiyori straightened his spine and tried to not look intimidated. “Are you saying I’m wrong?”

“Was I not clear enough?” Makoto thrust a finger into Hiyori’s chest.

“Be clearer.”

A twisted smile crept across his lips. He could hear Kisame mutter his name behind him, but it felt like there was an entire world between him and the others. It felt like he was on the other side of a canyon and nothing they did could reach him. It was just him and Hiyori standing on a small expanse of land--one that wasn’t big enough for the two of them.

“Haru has never hurt anybody. The circumstances may have hurt Ikuya, or Rin, or anyone else you’re speaking of, but guess what? Those circumstances hurt Haru, too. Why do you think he stopped swimming for awhile? It wasn’t because he got sick of it, or because he stopped needing the water. It was because he was hurt and he needed to heal. So yes, I do disagree with you. And I ask you to kindly refrain from talking about things you know nothing about in the future.”

Hiyori took a step back, closer to the edge. Makoto stood his ground.

“W-Well, Ikuya needed to heal, too!”

The reasonable side of Makoto was slowly seeping back in. He could feel his anger dissipating slightly at the thought of Ikuya hurting. Of course he was protective of Haru, but he was also Makoto and he cared about Ikuya and his pain, too. “I understand that,” he said, his voice softer. “And I can see that you would do anything to help him heal. So how would you feel if I marched up to him and threw awful, untrue accusations at him and set him back all those years of healing?”

There was nothing left for Hiyori to say. Makoto had won and everyone knew it, but it didn’t feel like an accomplishment. He could still see the pain in Haru’s eyes and he knew that this was going to cause him a lot of sleepless nights. Silently, Hiyori bowed his head and slipped out of the pool hall and Makoto found himself alone on that expanse of land.

Slowly he turned back, his eyes seeking Haru the way they always did. Asahi and Kisumi stood off to the side, their mouths open in surprise. Haru stood, his back to the pool, eyes still wide and directed at Makoto. For the first time in ages, Makoto couldn’t quite read the emotion that swirled within them.

“That was… amazing!” Asahi closed the gap between them, throwing an arm around Makoto’s shoulders and allowing Makoto to release the breath he had been holding. “I didn’t know you had that in you!”

Makoto let out a shaky laugh, glancing sideways at Asahi, “Neither did I.”

A moment passed before Kisumi began gathering everyone’s things, insisting that they start heading home. They began the trek back, Asahi babbling the whole way about what had happened. Kisumi chimed in on occasion but Makoto and Haru remained silent.

--/--/--/--/--/--/--/--/--/--/--/--/--/--/

Kisumi and Asahi had taken a separate train, leaving Haru and Makoto to ride the train back alone. Normally Makoto would’ve switched trains along the way, but he didn’t want to leave Haru alone. Not while he was still making that unreadable expression.

It wasn’t unusual for them to be quiet, but the silence between them was usually comfortable. Today however, it felt strained and Makoto’s nerves felt like livewires. He felt like he was slowly simmering from the inside out and he was bound to burst at any moment.

“Haru, are you--?” He asked as they reached Haru’s apartment building.

“Makoto,” Haru spun around and looked at him then, his eyes still unreadable. “Did you mean everything you said?”

A long moment passed where he searched Haru’s expression. “Every word.”

“It wasn’t… my fault?”

Makoto reacted without thinking. He reached his hands out and grasped Haru’s shoulders, his eyes boring into his best friend. “No, Haru! It was not your fault! I’ve been trying to tell you that for years. I know you were hurt by all the things that happened. But you didn’t cause them.”

This seemed to give Haru something to think about. He mulled it over as they walked up the steps to his apartment and he unlocked the door. He stepped aside as he opened the door, an unspoken invitation for Makoto to come inside and he obliged. He crossed the threshold and walked into the kitchen, grabbing two bottles of water out of the fridge. He handed one to Haru as he trailed into the kitchen.

“Haru, I’m sorry for going off like that. I know I shouldn’t talk for you. But he said such awful, untrue things and I--”

Haru cut him off. “Thank you.”

“What?”

“Thank you. For defending me.”

“I-- uh,” Makoto wasn’t sure how to respond. “You’re welcome?”

“You were always there, helping me heal. But you didn’t step on my toes. Hiyori--he seems to be making decisions for Ikuya, but you never did that to me. You gave me my space when I needed it and you were there when I couldn’t be alone. And now, today, you did this for me. I’m--” Haru stopped, suddenly overwhelmed with the feelings in his own words.

They stood opposite each other, each with a bottle of water in their hands. Slowly, almost methodically, Makoto placed his water bottle gently on the counter next to him. He took a tentative step towards Haru and, when Haru didn’t back away, he reached out and pulled Haru to his chest, wrapping his arms tight around his shoulders.

“I will always be here.” Makoto said quietly into Haru’s ear. “I will be whatever you need me to be.”

“I need you to be with me.” Haru said breathlessly.

“I am--OH,” Makoto took a step back and surveyed Haru’s face. Before he had a chance to register the expression there, Haru closed the distance between them. Their lips collided just as Haru’s water bottle hit the ground at their feet.

“I need you to be with me,” Haru repeated as he pulled a hair's breadth away.

“I’ll always be here,” Makoto repeated back, leaning in to kiss Haru again.

While he would never forgive Hiyori--and he was sure that he would never like him--Makoto made a mental note to thank him the next time he saw him.

Chapter Text

The sky was a clear, rich blue and it made Haruka Nanase think of the ocean as he walked to school, his best friend chatting idly at his side. Haru glanced to his left and watched the waves gently roll up the shore and then back out, wishing for the feeling of water against his skin. He’d barely been out of the water for half an hour and already he was aching to be back in.

“Haru-!” Suddenly he was pulled to the side, stumbling as he fell into his best friend and they crashed into a building to the right.

Stunned, they both straightened up. Haruka looked from his friend, Makoto, to where he had been walking moments before, only to see what the problem was. A large hole was right in Haru’s path, a large hole that he hadn’t noticed.

“I’m sorry, Haru,” Makoto apologized, straightening his shirt and pulling his tie a little tighter, “But I knew you didn’t notice it and I didn’t want you to hurt your ankle. You couldn’t swim with a hurt ankle.”

Makoto smiled sheepishly as they returned to the sidewalk and began walking again. Haruka mildly acknowledged the apology before they lapsed back into a silence. Haru stared out at the water again, but this time he was thinking about something else. How was it that Makoto knew him so well? He could tell with just a single glance that Haru wasn’t about to notice the hole. Who else could do that? It didn’t even take Haru a second to know the answer to that question: Nobody.

Nobody knew him as well as Makoto did. Nobody even knew him half as well as Makoto did.

He spared a glance to his right. Makoto was taller than him, but he never seemed to know what to do with his height. He was a gentle giant.

Makoto noticed Haru’s look and turned a questioning gaze on him. Haru turned back to the ocean without offering any words and Makoto just continued on, not bothering to ask. Why not? Because he knew Haruka would offer an explanation if he wanted to give one, and that there was no reason to push for one.

A strange feeling settled in the pit of Haru’s stomach. Makoto was his best friend, his security blanket and the definition of comfort. Makoto was everything Haruka was not, and for that reason they worked flawlessly together.

Makoto was quiet and gentle and did not like hurting people. Haruka didn’t like hurting people either, but he wasn’t afraid to tell someone no or that they needed to go away. Although, that was the majority of the talking he did. Most of the time, Makoto spoke for him. Makoto always knew what Haru was thinking or what he would say and was fully capable of speaking in his place. Some people seemed to find that strange, but it worked for them and they were both comfortable with it.

Haru continued to ponder this as they finished their walk to school. He liked their relationship. It had always made him comfortable and allowed him to be himself. But, he was beginning to realize, it was a big risk to allow someone to know everything about you.
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Makoto would never hurt him.

Haruka knew that with absolute and unwavering certainty. There wasn’t a situation he could imagine where Makoto would abandon, hurt, or embarrass him. No, he couldn’t imagine any circumstance in which Makoto would leave his side.

He also knew with absolute and unwavering certainty that he would never abandon, hurt or embarrass Makoto. He would never—could never—walk out of Makoto’s life.

“Makoto.” He didn’t say it as a question, but Makoto looked at him with those wondering eyes anyways, so he took a deep breath and continued. “Why do you know me so well?”

“Haru?” Makoto questioned, sitting down on the bench and tossing the towel he was holding onto his head.

The locker room was now empty besides the two of them and Haru found himself somehow anxious to hear Makoto’s answer. He wasn’t sure why he had suddenly become so acutely aware of their closeness to each other, but he felt like he needed answers.

When Haruka offered no more, Makoto answered as best as he could. “Well, we’ve been together our whole lives. You’re the closest person to me, of course I took the time to get to know you.”

Makoto began to towel off his hair while Haruka stared into his locker, thinking over those words. It was true that they spent essentially their entire lives together. But he had known Nagisa for just as long and he didn’t come close to understanding Haru as well as Makoto did.

“You know me just as well,” Makoto tossed out casually, standing and placing the towel in his spot.

These words jolted Haruka and he realized that Makoto was right. He knew Makoto better than anyone else did. He could read every thought Makoto had in his eyes, he could read every movement Makoto made—hell, he could even predict what Makoto was about to do.

There wasn’t anything Makoto could do that would surprise Haruka. There wasn’t anything he could do that Haru wouldn’t understand. He knew Makoto as well as he knew himself.

Haru turned around to see Makoto leaning against the lockers and staring at him. All it took was one look in each other’s eyes for everything to suddenly become clear. Makoto could easily see the train of though Haru had been following all day. In fact, he had been waiting for this conversation. Haru let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding and crossed to stand in front of his best friend.

Years of their relationship came crashing down around them all at once. Of course, they both seemed to realize at the same time. Things had always been different between them than normal friendships. They had always been fiercely protective of each other.

Haru knew Makoto had always been afraid of losing him. He had always known, and yet now he realized why. At the same moment, it seemed, Makoto realized why, too.

Makoto had always smiled when Haru adamantly stated that he would never, could never, don’t even consider it, leave Makoto’s side. Only once had he ever said that he didn’t think he could face his future without Makoto there, but neither had forgotten it. And in this moment, the true meaning of those words seemed to hit them both as well.

Haruka was the first one to break the silence. He wasn’t much of a talker when it came to anyone other than Makoto, but he had always been the first to dive into their serious conversations.

“You love me,” He said. His words were gentle, unsurprised, and almost happy. His ocean eyes sparkled with an emotion Makoto hadn’t seen in years. An emotion he hadn’t seen directed at anything other than water.

“And you love me.” Makoto replied in the same certain way. He smiled gently. Makoto was always smiling, Haru thought, but this was different. This wasn’t big or flashy, it was small and intimate, just like the moment they were sharing.

Neither made a move to further the conversation. They could talk to each other about anything and everything, but they also needed time to process things alone. After all, their entire past seemed to have just shattered at their feet. It was a good change, they both thought as the walked home silently but comfortably, but change is still change.

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The next morning, Makoto didn’t even bother stopping by Haruka’s house on the way to school. He left early and walked straight to their school and around to the pool. The cherry blossom trees were in full bloom and the warm air smelled sweet as he swept across his cheeks.

Just as expected, Makoto found Haru floating on his back in the pool, just a few feet from the edge. He had his eyes closed, but he straightened up just as Makoto approached the edge anyways.

“Good morning, Haru-chan.” He smiled, reaching a hand out to help Haru out of the pool.

Haru took his hand willingly and allowed himself to be pulled from the pool and onto the concrete. A moment later he found a towel on his head and realized that he had, in fact, forgotten to bring one with him. Of course Makoto would know and plan ahead.

“Well, it looks like we might actually be on time to class for once,” Makoto joked as he scooped Haruka’s clothes off the ground and handed them over.

Haru rolled his eyes but didn’t reply, setting off towards the locker rooms to change. Once he was done, he found Makoto sitting outside, his back against the wall and eyes closed as the spring bathed him in warm sunlight.

A warm breeze blew by, pushing Haru’s still damp hair off his forehead. He smiled, a small smile that would be invisible to anyone besides Makoto, and sat down next to his best friend, his world, his security blanket.

“How are you, Haru?” Makoto asked in a quiet voice, his eyes still closed.

It was such an ordinary question, the kind he would ask anyone, but he wasn’t simply looking for a fine, or good, thanks. He was looking for something deeper.

In lieu of an answer, Haru reached over and wrapped his hand around one of Makoto’s that rested in his lap. Makoto finally opened his eyes then and turned to look at Haru. His eyes were bright and happy and the look he was giving Haru reconfirmed (as it very often did) his need to keep Makoto at his side always.

Haru could see Nagisa, Rei and Gou walking up the sidewalk towards them, Nagisa’s arm raised above his head in greeting. He could see them and he still leaned in and placed his lips against Makoto’s. Makoto kissed back, both of their eyes falling shut. The feeling was somewhere between perfectly right and completely indescribable and Haru made a mental note that he would have to experience it many, many more times.

Nagisa, Rei and Gou finally reached them just as the two parted. Makoto blushed and greeted the three, running a hand through his hair as he often did when he felt like he didn’t know how to handle a situation. Haru stared at the three with a stoic expression on his face.

There was a moment of silence before Nagisa smiled at them both and simply said “It’s about time.”

The others agreed and they set off together, Nagisa changing the topic and rambling on as he usually did. Makoto and Haru fell in step behind the others and linked hands. Just the feeling of Makoto’s hand seemed to brighten everything and Haru smiled to himself as he watched their feet move.

Makoto knew everything about him. He could read his thoughts with just one look. He could predict Haru’s actions and handle his moods like nobody else. He knew Haru like he knew his favorite book—the one he had read and reread countless times. The one, Haru knew, was always on his nightstand, even if he wasn’t reading it. Makoto loved that book so much he couldn’t bear to have it very far away from him.

Quietly, Haru whispered to Makoto, bringing a smile to both of their faces. “I’m your favorite book and you’re my security blanket.”

And that became their “I love you.”