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It's past nine when Rin manages to force his legs to take him towards the doorway.

“Are you sure you don't wanna stay?” His sister asks, holding his jacket a second longer than necessary before handing it to him.

He accepts the piece of cloth and wears it. His feet have already slipped into his shoes. There should be no room for hesitation. He mustn't waver, so he flashes his sister a reassuring smile.

“Its fine, Gou, really. I'd better be near the station or I won't make it to work in time tomorrow.”

“Still… It's late. And we can give you a ride in the morning, I told you that.”

He sighs at her insistence, but it is a fond sigh if there ever was one. Rin is quite aware of the source of his sister's worry. She's still hung up on the fuss he made years ago when she introduced him to the person that is now her spouse. She still believes he holds some sort of grudge against Mikoshiba for ruining her chances of having a ‘normal’ family.

Rin knows better than that now, though. He has learned to acknowledge just how happy and achieved Mikoshiba makes his beloved sister feel. He couldn't hold a thing against that even if he tried his best to. He cannot bring himself to label their love as something wrong, not anymore.

And the truth is, maybe he never did. In the beginning, he was just worried that the path they decided to take could cause them pain. But they were happy then, and that hasn't changed. Gou has found love in the arms of a divorced woman who has a couple of adorable kids. They built a loving home together, and that is exactly why Rin chooses not to stay, today.

It is always too hard to leave that place. It is always too hard not to give in to the promise of a homemade breakfast in the morning shared with a loving family. It is always hard to resist the pleading of smiling angels pulling his sleeves while chanting, “Hey, big brother Rin, play with us!”

He has to be in Kyoto the morning after. Several meetings and another hotel room await him. He has to go now, or else the urge to just hide in Iwatobi forever will take him over.

“I don't wanna give you and Isuzu any trouble,” he pats her in the head, watching her puff her cheeks in response. “It's fine, really. Don't go getting the wrong ideas in your head, Gou.”

“It's just… I can't help but worry!”

“Don't. It's alright. You guys take care of the kids, okay?”

He throws his backpack over his shoulder. It's lighter than before, free from the tons of gifts he brought. Mikoshiba always tells him he shouldn't spoil the kids, but he never listens. He doesn't come to visit often—not as often as the inviting feel of the place should be worth of, anyway.

Maybe he should find more time in his busy schedule. Rin is often getting trapped in business trips, hangouts with coworkers, meetups with his best friend from childhood, and occasional pointless dates with women he knows he won't fall for, in spite of his wholehearted trials.

Maybe, if he gives up trying to find the soulmate with whom he can build a loving home, he will have more time to enjoy the one Gou was graced with.

“Big bro?” she asks, probably noticing a touch of the bittersweet feeling he isn't even aware he's sporting.

“Sorry. Guess I'm getting old. I should go get some rest at the hotel.” He smiles at her once more in an attempt to ease her worries. “Thanks for everything, Gou. I had an awesome time.”

“Now, stop… No need to thank me. Come anytime, okay? We'll be waiting for your next visit. Don't take too long!”

“I'll try not to,” he grins, too aware he should be making no promises.

She shakes her head, too aware she shouldn't foster high hopes either.

They smile at each other and exchange a hug—something the years and the circumstances have taught them to do—then Rin opens the door, letting the chilly night outside embrace him.

He listens, rather than watch as Gou closes the door behind him. His eyes are turned up to the starry sky he never gets tired of witnessing. The skies in Iwatobi have a special feel about them. The whole aura of that small town reminds him of the years they lived as a happy family, the four of them, in a town that might as well have been this one.

With every step he takes towards the end of the silent residential street, memories of a time when their parents were alive flood him. He can almost see him as a kid, waiting at the doorstep just when he knew his dad would show up, coming home from another shift.

He can practically envision his own beam at his dad, and the wide grin that never failed to appear in return. He recalls their walk together to the kitchen, where they would find his mom adding the final touches to supper. She would always turn from the counter to grace his father with her cutest smile, and Rin knew since then that was something precious, that which his folks had.

He can also see Gou standing up from the kotatsu in the living room and dashing to wrap her arms around their father. She asks him to tell her stories after dinner is over, and Rin wants to listen, too.

He doesn't remember when he started wishing he could have a family like his own once was. Even now, he isn't sure if it was the accident what made him reconsider his whole future. Rin wonders, more often than not, if the kind of love his parents had showered him and Gou with, as well as the love they shared from the moment they met to the dreadful day they left the world together, is what makes him want to prove that sort of love isn't something that happens only once in a lifetime.

Sousuke, his best friend, always tells him the reason behind all of those plans is actually Rin's romanticism.

“You've been romantic from scratch, Rin. There's no saving you now.” Sousuke usually says over beers the one who lost at rock-paper-scissors pays.

“A bachelor like you shouldn't be one to tell,” he always retorts.

Both of them aren't getting any younger, but Rin knows he's the one who's been getting frightened by that notion.

He stops by a crosswalk. The surroundings look as empty as those of a haunted city, except they lack the supernatural aura. Instead, the cold breeze is reinvigorating and makes Rin decide to walk all the way to the hotel rather than take a taxi.

It's a long walk, but he doesn't mind. He likes being away from the madness of Tokyo, where his empty apartment is located. He isn't particularly excited about visiting Kyoto either. It's all the same, so many sights he's quite familiar with by now. It all just looks and feels distant and boring.

Maybe he should come to visit more often, he thinks as he makes it to a broader street. A few cars come and go, yet the peace remains. He spots a couple of old people leaving a convenience store across the street, and his heart warms and aches at the view.

They look so connected–as if an invisible string of love involves them just as they walk in careful steps, one supporting the other. Rin wonders if his parents would have been that way, had they gotten to live longer.

“Of course they would,” he grunts with a distinct note of self-reproach.

And he just wishes he could be like that, too. He's satisfied with his career in the office, and he's proud of how far he has come, but something is missing. He feels it every day, and as time passes by, the feeling is more poignant than ever. He's getting tired of going on blind dates arranged by Sousuke. He's done with trying to go out with coworkers, and dealing with the awkwardness that comes when it doesn't work—and it never does, it never brings up what he's seeking—, leading him to another clumsy breakup.

“Have you ever considered the possibility you may swing the other way like Gou? Maybe it's a DNA thing.” Sousuke asked him once when they were way beyond the drunk level. 

He had stared at his friend as though he made no sense. His limbs were too jelly, and his mind too twisted for him to even make sense of those words. 

As he recalls the conversation, now, it sounds as ridiculous as it should have then. Rin laughs, and there's a hint of bitterness in his laughter, but he pretends to be deaf to it.

Maybe he's just not meant to find love and raise a family. Life doesn't always go the way one wants it to, he's long learned. Rin can live with that. He's been through the worst, after all.

The next turn takes him to a school area. The school building is actually a good reference; he knows he's halfway to the station now, and just a few blocks closer to the hotel.

Lost in his trail of thoughts, he didn't realize how much he has walked. He's not exactly tired, but a stone bench beside a cherry blossom tree beckons him.

He sits down, dropping his backpack at his feet. He closes his eyes and inhales, breathing in the serene air of Iwatobi. Sitting there with closed eyes, Rin can almost feel like he's a child again, taking a break after school before he heads home. There's no rush, no worries, no work to be done. He can almost pretend no meeting details fill up a page in his schedule book.

It feels good.

It's always too tempting being here. There seems to be something in the atmosphere, something that belongs in Iwatobi and in Iwatobi only. This sensation strikes him whenever he comes to visit, and it unsettles him sometimes. At this moment, though, Rin feels like he's being embraced by the feeling. He rests, eyes still closed, muscles relaxing to a point he has to be careful not to fall asleep.

He's getting old, but that doesn't matter now.

Eventually, his peace is disturbed. When it does, it's by something other than his typical worries and sorrows. He's pulled out of his rest when a splashing sound reaches his ears and takes him by surprise.

The sound comes from behind him. He opens his eyes and turns his head in what he believes is the direction where the sound originated.

Through the dim illumination provided by lampposts, he disguises the school pool surrounded by a grid. He stands up, worried that some kid may have found their way into the pool and is now drowning. When the splashing continues, he strides towards the wire grid, his mind already focused on calculating ways in which he may get to the other side.

He's barely climbing the grid when his eyes distinguish the shadowed silhouette in motion.

“A trespasser?”

He spots a pile of clothes carelessly thrown outside the pool, across the place where he stands. It looks as though they were left there in a rush. Rin doesn't spend much time staring at those, as his eyes are attracted to the movement in the water.

A person… —A man?—Swims, and it's unlike anything Rin has ever seen.

He's staring, open-mouthed. He cannot take his eyes away from the pool. Instead, his ruby gaze follows the arms and legs which sink in elegant strokes only to surface again in swift moves. He watches what little skin he can see glimmering in the moonlight.

Rin is enthralled.

The swimmer finishes another lap and makes an extra turn, this time, in Rin's direction. Rin realizes he's paralyzed. It feels as though a shark is coming in his direction and he sees the danger, yet he can't move. There's no actual feeling of panic in him, though. And the swimmer himself doesn't remind of a shark. The way he swims—so carefree—makes him resemble a beautiful fish in an aquarium.

Rin wants to stare and only stare.

Much to Rin's disappointment, it doesn’t take long before the man reaches the border and stands in the pool. He opens his eyes and turns them in Rin's direction.

Rin sees a pair of sapphire piercing him through. That’s when he notices he's been clutching the mesh to a point his knuckles are white.

“Who are you?” 

The man doesn't shout, yet his voice thunders in the silent night. It sounds as calm and mysterious as the sea before an unpredicted storm.

“Matsuoka… Rin Matsuoka,” Rin blurts and regrets it right away. He sounded pathetic, he knows. Hopefully, he wasn't heard.

The man keeps staring at him, in silence. Of course, that isn't the answer he expects. The actual meaning of his inquiry was clear, Rin just failed to respond properly. Then again, a trespasser has no right to judge.

“What do you want?” The man asks after a while, making no effort to hide his exasperation.

“Uh… Well…” Rin is at a loss, which is ridiculous. Get yourself together, he whispers in his mind. “I just thought a kid may have drowned or something.” 

“So you're not a pervert or a criminal?”

“W-What!? No! Of course not!” Rin shouts. A heat rises from his neck to his cheeks against his will, and he's sure there's something wrong with him. There has to be.

The man shrugs as if not entirely convinced and dives back into the pool.

Rin still can't bring himself to leave. Instead, he retrieves his backpack that was lying by the bench, not many inches away from him, and returns to the grid.

Watching for just a while more won't hurt.

The moon reflects itself in the pool, making the whole scene somewhat mystical. It's inspiring, really, so Rin doesn't want to forget it. He will stay a while longer so that he can get that view imprinted in his memory.

“The gate is over there,” the man says out loud, having just reached the opposite border. He's pointing to what is likely the entrance.

Rin blinks. So that guy isn't a trespasser? He may be the school janitor. In any case, it doesn't seem right that he's so freely swimming in the school pool at night—let alone inviting a stranger to join him.

Not like Rin makes the rules, anyway. Besides, at this particular moment, he can barely keep himself in check. His legs are walking by their own will, and before Rin knows it, he's crossing the half-open gate.

The familiar splashing sound tells him the man is back to his training or something.

Rin finds a seat in the nearest bleacher and resumes his watching.

The man is now floating on his back. Apparently, he shares Rin's passion for the starry sky in Iwatobi. Though, perhaps, he is simply enjoying both a rest and a view he is likely pretty used to. Maybe there isn't anything passionate about it. He's a stranger, so Rin can't tell.

“Aren't you coming?”

The unaffected, low voice echoes in the air. It still manages to surprise Rin, again.

“Excuse me?”

“Aren't you entering the pool?”

“Wha-no… Of course not. I'll just enjoy the view, thanks.”

“Oh. So you are a pervert.”

“I’m NO-”

A new splash cuts him mid-sentence as the man quickly turns and dives. He does that with little effort and as naturally as if he were a sea creature. As gracefully as a dolphin, Rin reflects.

When the blue-eyed man emerges again, he takes a moment to analyze Rin.

“You're not from here.”

Not a question.

“No, I'm not. Did my accent give me away?”

The man shakes his head. “I haven't seen you before,” he says, then adds. “You look familiar, though.”

“Oh.” Rin slides his hand over his hair, not exactly mindful of his gesture. “My sister lives in town. Maybe you know her? Gou Matsuoka. Or her…”

“Partner,” the man finishes, and there is no judgment in his tone. “Isuzu.”

“Yes. So you know them!? What a small world.”

“A small town, actually. They come to the swimming club with the kids sometimes. And Isuzu worked in the restaurant as well.”

“Are you a chef or something?”

Rin observes as the man sits by the pool border like he doesn't want to break his contact with the water yet.

“Nope. I just help people.”

That sounds pretty vague to Rin. He chuckles. That man is interesting—and it goes beyond his swimming, apparently. He gives off an intriguing vibe, which suddenly makes Rin want to know more about him.

“Like what? Are you a social worker assistant… Maybe a therapist?”

The man takes a moment to respond. He seems to be picking the words carefully so that he will be understood. He may as well just be bored by Rin's open curiosity, but Rin tries to remain optimistic and rules that option out.

“I help people. I have many works, so I help different people. The restaurant is one of the places I work at, for instance.”

“So you have many part-time jobs? I guess we could call it freelance, too.”

“You sound like somebody from a big city.”

Rin laughs. Who knew he would be labeled a big city man when he grew up in a small town like this. 

“I live in Tokyo. It's not that big, it's just…”

“Crowded.” They say in unison.

“Have you ever been to Tokyo?” Rin asks, surprised by the way they spoke together.

“No. It must be a scary place.”

The man sounds like he means it. Rin laughs again. 

“Well, that would be one way to put it. It's a nice place to live, I guess.”

“I would pass.”

“Well, I don't blame you. Iwatobi is a nice town. It reminds me of the place I grew up in.”

“So Tokyo isn't your hometown?” The man sounds slightly more interested now, and that makes Rin glad, for some reason.

“Do I look like a big city guy that much!?”

The man nods. Rin can't say if that which he sees is a small smile at the corner of his lips, but he wants to believe it is.

He doesn't know why. He just does.

Then he tells the man about his own small town. He tells him about the times when he was a kid, living in a loving home. He talks about his parents, and about Gou. The man is a good listener; even when he moves his feet in the water, seemingly distracted, Rin notices he's paying attention.

“You ever considered being a patrolman as your dad?”

“I'm not sure. I wanted to have a family, and I guess maybe that could be a bit of a dangerous job for a parent?”

“Not in Iwatobi, I think.”


They exchange a knowing glance, as though they were old pals. Apart from Sousuke and a very tight circle of friends, there isn't a person Rin feels comfortable with sharing his personal history. He doesn't want to bring some of the pain back, and he doesn't want to hear people labeling him weak.

He wonders why that feels different, tonight.

“It sounds like they are good people, your parents. They still live there?”

The question doesn't pierce him as it occasionally does. Maybe it's the calm note in that stranger’s voice. Maybe it's the moonlight, and the softly rippling water, and the air from Iwatobi.

“They passed away when I was a teen,” he answers, a wry smile on his lips.

He then tells the man about the accident, and about how he had to help people to make sure Gou wouldn't quit school. He tells him about the times when things got better, about college life and reuniting with his best friend from elementary school. When Rin is done, he feels like he has known that man forever.

He also feels like a heavy weight has been taken off his shoulders. It's striking how a person can work this magic on him—especially when Rin still doesn't know his name or much about him.

As they fall to a brief silence, the man jumps into the pool again.

“So you're going back to Tokyo soon?”

“I'm supposed to be in Kyoto tomorrow.”

The man absorbs that information. Then, he stares at Rin.  

“You shouldn't have stopped by to spy on me, then.”

“Oi, I wasn't spying! I thought you were a kid drowning… Then I thought you were the school janitor?” He doesn't mention the trespasser theory for the sake of their growing camaraderie.

“I'm not. But I help the school’s principal sometimes, too.”

“Do you actually get money for helping people?”

“Yeah. Obviously.”

“To be honest, at some point I thought you were a professional swimmer on a break. Are you?”


“Sorry. I didn't mean to bring up a tough-”

“When I was in high school,” the man starts. “People kept trying to convince me to do it. Swim professionally. I couldn't bear the pressure. There was nothing I could hold on to… some kind of motivation, I think.”

He seems to reminisce for a few seconds. Before he continues, he floats on his back again. Rin takes a few steps down on the bleachers so that he can be closer to the pool.

He wants to listen. And he wants to watch him.

“You said you found out you dreamed of having a family because you lost yours…

I guess I understand that to a point.”

The man stops again. The sound of the water shaken by his pedaling remains like clear notes in the air. For a second, Rin feels tempted to join him.

“I hated how my teachers and my friends kept trying to get in my head saying I should go for swimming as a career. I liked things as they were. But as time passed by and we graduated, each of my friends took their own path. They found different ways to do something related to what we did in our club. And I still wanted to swim. But I was a bit late. And I still wasn't sure.”

His voice sounds stronger now as if a storm he kept inside himself all this time is about to blow.

“I went to see the Nationals the year after I graduated. I thought maybe if I got to know people through my coach or my friends, I could still try.” 

He tells Rin about how he felt as he watched the competitions, about how his heart ached for swimming but still felt like something was missing.

“I saw two boys who my coach later told me were long-term rivals competing, and that shook me. It was the IM and they both were swimming freestyle.” He pauses, then explains, “That's my swimming style.”

Rin thinks he sounds cute adding that side note to his story. He almost smiles at that.

“I was awestruck. For the first time in my life, I wondered if that was what I had missed. A rival. Or maybe a friend. I wondered if there was someone who could awake in me what my schoolmates couldn't. If what I lacked was that source of motivation.”

“And so,” Rin can barely hold his curiosity now. “did you ever find that person?”

Another silence ensues.

“No. And when I thought I had made my mind about my dream, it was already late for me to go pro. So I gave up again. I've been helping people ever since. It's not bad… I still swim.”

As if to prove that point, he turns again and dives, exploring every inch of the pool. He is like a fish, like a sea creature, like a merman.

And now that Rin knows his story, he is more mesmerized than ever by this man.

“Hey,” he calls out. “You didn't tell me your name yet.”

When the man emerges, he looks straight at Rin.

“Haruka. Although people usually go for Haru. Just don't add chan to it, and we're good.”

“That's your given name, isn't it? You barely know me. Is it really okay?”

The man shrugs like he doesn’t bother about that. After they just overshared, Rin realizes he shouldn’t, either. He has never felt this close to someone he just met, anyway.

“So… Haru. Before I go, can I race you?”

Rin can see the pair of sapphire eyes widening a bit.

“I’m no pro or anything,” he adds, his hand sliding over his hair in an absent-minded gesture. “And I’m no match for your potential rival, but…”

“...Fine. I only swim freestyle these days, though.”

“I’ll have to swim on my undies, so if you don’t mind that, I’m good too.”

After Rin is done undressing (and he does that as quickly as possible, for only when he starts it dawns on him that he’s stripping in front of a stranger), they step by the pool border, taking their marks. It’s the closest they’ve been to each other so far. Rin can’t ignore that, nor can he ignore Haru’s features and his muscular body.

He wants to believe it's the unexpected challenge what’s making butterflies suddenly go frantic inside of him.

But it could also be the fact that he’s being analyzed by a rather discreet glance from the corner of Haru’s eye. While he’s wearing his pants and nothing else.

“At the count of three,” Haru says. “1… 2…”

When they jump in, it takes a while for Rin to get used to the cold water and to having his muscles stretch, but as soon as he does, he tries to catch up to Haru. It’s like running after a moving car; their speed doesn’t match. He still manages to get as close as possible. He wants to be as close as possible to him.

He doesn’t know why; he simply does.

He hears a splash as Haru smacks his open hand against the tile. He reaches him a few seconds after (he wants to believe it’s only a few, for the sake of his pride).

When Rin lifts his head off the water, he finds Haru staring at him with an impressed look.

“You barely caught up to me. Do you swim often?”

“It’s been a while actually. Not bad, then?” He smiles proudly.

Haru is staring, and Rin finds himself doing the same. He finds himself staring, watching as droplets of water slide down Haru’s face. He nearly loses himself in the deep blue of his eyes.

It occurs to him that maybe he could have been the rival Haru sought, in a different life. Then he thinks about his own quest.

What if…

The two of them are breathing hard from the effort they just pulled into swimming. The sound of their breaths along with the audible fluttering of the water hover in the air. Apart from those, stillness surrounds them.

Then Rin moves. He doesn’t control it, not at first. He senses his body moving, urging him forward. He waits for Haru to retreat.

Haru doesn’t.

The water undulates around them as the gap between them becomes a small breach.

Rin can now feel Haru’s breath as a hot breeze mixed with the chilly wind that sends pink petals flying their way.

What if…

“Maybe… you are…” Rin whispers, his voice sounding vacillant to his own ears.

The person I sought all along.

He grabs the border of the pool with one hand, making sure he won’t lose his balance. Then he leans in, pressing his lips against Haru’s. He waits for the rejection. A push, a punch, anything.

Instead, Haru’s arm locks around his waist, pulling their bodies even closer. Rin nearly gasps into the kiss, but he manages to get a hold of himself before that happens. Feelings he had no idea ever were a part of him are suddenly coming alive. Rin is burning, and aching and longing.

He has never felt this way before. Ever.

“Haru…” he calls softly when they take a brief break. Rin likes the way the nickname sounds escaping from his lips.

“Rin…” Haru calls back, surprising him. So he heard me.

He doesn’t have the time to get flustered as their lips touch again, attracted by some incomprehensible magnetism. While Rin lets the feelings take him over, all he can hear is the echoing voice of Haru calling his name. He likes the way that sounds, too.

Soon, their hands are eagerly exploring each other’s bodies. They move freely and as though traversing areas they have been long familiar with. Their mouths seem to refuse breaking contact; when they do, is to help their hands in their thorough exploration.

A foreign heat rises and burns, striking Rin with wonder at the same time it makes him beg for more.

How can this be? How can it feel this way?

Just when he is sure he cannot take the fire Haru has ignited in him any longer, Haru pulls away. Rin can see that his eyes are clouded and he knows they both feel the exact same way.

“Better not… in the pool.” Haru murmurs then gets off the water with visible strain.

Rin follows him, taking the chance to contemplate the silky, watered skin glistening in the moonlight as Haru lies on the floor.

“Stop staring,” Haru grumbles, avoiding Rin’s glance as he struggles to free himself of his swimsuit.

“Sorry,” Rin answers, feeling a bit self-conscious when the removed spandex swimwear allows him to see what there is to be seen. Then he grins. “It’s the first time I say this to a guy, but you look… beautiful?”

“Shut up.”

Impatient, Haru reaches out, bringing Rin closer again for another round of insatiable kisses. With each kiss, they get closer—their bodies are clashing again, now almost free from any interference; their mouths muttering the same pleadings; their hearts finding out this moment was bound to happen, somehow.

“Haru… can we go all the way?”

“Can you hold back now?”

Rin laughs. He doubts he can or wants to for what it’s worth.

“Not really.”

Haru’s slightly cold hands then travel down his back until they are tracing his pants’ waistband. Rin trembles.

How come he wants somebody he barely knows this much?

Once his wet piece of cloth is lying on top of Haru’s swimsuit beside them, they exchange a glance. Rin doesn’t know if this is going to be a one-time thing. He doesn’t know if Haru will call it a mistake when the sun comes up, and they will never see each other again.

He realizes he doesn’t want it to go that way.

Even if they won't turn out to be the family he has been dreaming of, it's fine. Love can bloom in different ways. It can lead to different paths. Life has taught him that, too.

At that moment, such conclusions aren't coherent to him. But he knows, he feels it.

He wants this to last longer than just a night.

“You know, Haru…” he says, keeping his tone as low as he can while he traces his finger over Haru’s cheek. “I don’t want you to think I’m crazy or anything, but I… I guess you’re the one I’ve been looking for.”

Haru doesn’t reply. Not with words, at least. He wraps his legs around Rin’s waist and nods, giving him the green light.

Rin dives in.

They sink into each other till their every drop of need has been fulfilled.


It’s 2 a.m. when Rin makes it to the street where the hotel he was headed to is. He gets off the companion bike seat and beams at Haru.

“Thanks for the ride. By the way, are you sure you’re okay?”

Haru nods. He had insisted on taking Rin to the hotel, despite Rin’s worries about it.

“So…” Rin says, shifting his weight from foot to foot.

He kinda wants to invite Haru to the room he booked. But it's a small town. And that urge to just stay in Iwatobi forever is close to unbearable now.

“So…” Haru mimics him.

“Can I have your phone number?” He asks instead. 

A brief silence follows, and Rin has to fight his shoulders not to let them slump in defeat.

Haru then fumbles for his mobile in the bike’s basket and stares back at Rin.

“Yes. I just don’t check it very often.”

“Oh… I see.” Rin’s shoulders do slump this time.

They exchange numbers nevertheless.

“You’ve been romantic from scratch.” Rin hears his friend’s words in his mind. “There’s no saving you.”

Still, he has to try.

“Well then, Haru… See you?” He offers Haru the best charming smile he can.

“Sure. See you, Rin.”

Rin turns around, trying not to jump or make a celebration dance right where he stands. His next visit to Iwatobi won’t take long, he decides. And he means it this time.

“I’ll be waiting.”

The mumbled words reach his ears when Rin has taken a few steps ahead. He looks back, but Haru is already turning at the corner of the street. He watches him disappear, and as he does, Rin enjoys the lively heartbeat in his chest.

It's like an invisible string connects them even as they move away from each other.

He was right. It does exist. That kind of feeling doesn't bloom only once in a lifetime.

I'm glad I finally found you, Haru.