He had never seen anything as captivating as water. Until now.
Haru had seen those back muscles countless times. It was only such a tiny back before, fitting a small frame. That seemed so long ago. They were fully formed now, thanks to constant swimming practices. Wide shoulders complements a slim waist, making it a look like the letter V. Haru couldn’t help but stare at it, those blue eyes sparkled as he gazed.
It all started during their futile attempt to attract new members by showing their muscles and their specialties, thanks to Gou’s idea. Sadly, it didn’t work. While it baffled him to no end that nobody saw the beauty of swimming, Haru discovered another beauty.
“Haru what’s wrong?” Makoto eyed his friend. He must have noticed Haru staring at his back for a while now.
“Makoto,” he walked closer to his friend, eyes fixed on the other’s back, “you really have nice muscles especially the back part.”
“Wha--!?” There’s a slight flush on Makoto’s face. “Y-you’ve got nice muscles too Haru!”
“Yes, but,” he lifted his hand and started tracing the contours of the shoulder blade, “it’s different,” he added in a quiet tone.
Makoto was taken aback, his face was beet red. “Haru!”
Oblivious to his surroundings and to his flustered friend, he continued running his fingers in every lines and curves. The sensation of feeling them flex under his fingertips was exhilarating; almost similar as to when he was in the water.
“Ah! You two, no flirting during practice!” Nagisa called out to them. Haru snapped back from his trance, jumping back a little.
“Makoto-senpai why is your face red?” Rei had just finished his lap and popped out of the pool with Gou giving him his towel.
“N-nothing!” Makoto hid his face with his hands before running away.
Haru was rooted in his place. His fingertips felt like it was burning. He could still feel those muscles. He stared at his fingers, wondering what in the world was he doing.
He was doing it again. Before he knew it, his eyes have wandered and lingered to that well-built back. That part was as good as a magnetic field. Haru sensed a strong yet unfamiliar attraction. Whenever he saw any water-body, there’s a pull that made him want to strip and dive in right then and there. That same pull was pulsing through his hands, wanting to roam around the broad outline.
What am I thinking? He sighed.
Today was a weekend and weekends were supposedly spent best at home. Nagisa called them and suggested hanging out together for the rest of the day. Haru wouldn’t have wanted to go but Makoto dragged him out of his house, saying something like, “The more, the merrier, right?”
The moment he heard the word pool, his entire being shook with anticipation. His feet had an outburst of energy and walked faster than his friends. Unconscious of everything else, the trio behind him exchanged knowing glances.
“Not…the same,” Haru muttered, eyes darting from one swimmer to another, especially their backside. There were few swimmers there that day. It’s like a double disappointment to him. They were watching in the sideline because Makoto warned them not to swim as it’s getting late and they have to go home soon. Haru was in the middle of undressing even. He had contented himself in watching instead.
They were just like that…backs. None of them could stir something inside of Haru. Or even enthralled him. Unlike him…
His eyes, already knew the drill, fixed on the person beside him. Makoto was trying to mediate between Nagisa and Rei’s silly antics. Even with his shirt on, his muscles were drawn firmly across the width of his back.
“Haru? Something wrong?” Makoto must have sensed Haru staring at him. The tall guy had turned his attention to his friend, wearing a worried look. Those green orbs were overflowing with concern which in all years of their friendship, Haru had grown accustomed to and lo—loved them?
Instead of answering, the dark-haired guy turned to his heel and started to leave; earning him strange looks from his teammates.
“I’m going home,” he stated and heard a collective gasp behind him. Without even looking, he was sure that they have incredulous looks. Never did Haru turn his back from the water. But he couldn’t look back. He was sure that his face was as red as the hair of a certain shark-teeth boy from another school.
“Just what am I doing?” The same question Haru have been asking himself for quite some time now.
Inside his dark room, Haru tossed and turned in his bed. Ever since he came home, he’d been trying to think of the earlier events. He thought he’s got a back fetish. Yet after looking at other people, he didn’t feel anything. So what makes them different from those finely built back of his best friend?
Perhaps because it’s Makoto? Those brown locks, green eyes that sometimes cast a worried look, those lip that turns to a gentle smile and that overall kind aura… all of those flashed through Haru’s eyes. His chest constricted at the thought. He hugged his pillow tighter as if channelling all those strange emotions inside of him.
“But Makoto is a good friend,” he convinced himself. But the more he tries, the more his thoughts get flooded by the other guy. The more he resisted, the more his feelings persisted.
How will I face him tomorrow without getting flustered? I want to see him yet I don’t want to see him. What should I do?
Haru ended up spending the entire day in the clinic. His head was all muddled up. The lectures were barely registering to his brain that in the middle of the second period, he excused himself to rest. Makoto should be worried about him by now. How many times had he made him worry lately?
Despite his attempts, he couldn’t muster enough strength to move around. He didn’t have an idea how long had he been sleeping but he wanted to sleep more. Somewhere in the room, he heard voices. He wasn’t sure what they were talking about. His eyelids were too heavy to open to check the speakers.
“—ru? Haru it’s late now. We need to go back. Wake up.” That tender voice soothed Haru’s dreamy state. It made him want to continue sleeping. “Can’t be helped then.”
He heard creaking of the bed and his body being lifted up from it. He should have woken up right then but he landed to something warm and firm. A familiar scent passed through his nostrils. He smiled to himself and snuggled closer. He was back to dreamland.
During the entire trip, Haru was only half-asleep. But he didn’t dare open his eyes for he feared the magical feeling enveloping him at the moment will fade away. He let himself enjoyed the sensation. That warm and fuzzy feeling spreading to every tips of his body. He felt comfortable, secured, as if that place was meant for him and him alone. He hugged it tighter and murmured something like “Hmm, Makoto”. At that moment, he was filled with complete bliss. He didn’t care about anything anymore. Once again, he drifted off to dreamland.
Haru managed to avoid Makoto the entire morning. Whenever his friend asked him, his answers were all monosyllabic. He pretended asleep during lunch break and went to the club room a few minutes after Makoto left their classroom.
What he’s doing didn’t make him happy, of course. Makoto and him were almost inseparable ever since. However, he couldn’t face him yet, nor did he have any courage to face his feelings for that matter. He just didn’t know how long he’ll last resisting Makoto.
The moment he arrived at the club room, he changed and went to the pool, talking to no one. Unaware of the nervous glances thrown in his direction, he continued to swim until the sky turned orange. He could have floated in the water forever; not feeling anything, shutting everything. The water calmed him down. He felt safe.
Nobody dared to disturb his peace. Or maybe they did but Haru wasn’t paying attention. When he felt the stillness in his surroundings, he decided to come back to the club room…only to find the person he had been avoiding all this time.
He stopped in his tracks for a while. Makoto was right in front of him, changing his clothes. It took all of his willpower to keep his eyes on the floor. As quiet as possible, he grabbed his clothes and bag, and was about to turn the doorknob when Makoto finally noticed him.
“Ha—,” Haru didn’t let him finish and opened the door. He wanted to get away, to hide as fast as possible. But the brown-haired guy was faster. He pressed his hand to shut the door.
Haru froze and his breath hitched. His chest throbbed so hard he thought it would explode. Makoto was in close range, close enough to hear his heartbeat. Or was it his?
“Haru,” his tone was gentle, like someone talking to a child, “do you hate me?”
Haru spun, eyes wide from the unexpected question. He was ready to answer ‘There’s no way I can hate you!’. But he was unable to utter a single word after seeing the look on his friend’s face. That disheartened look was like an arrow that pierced through him. Haru felt a different kind of pain, perhaps the same pain he never thought he could have inflicted to this special person before him.
Tired and defeated, his knees gave up on him and he crouched down on the floor. His friend did the same.
“…I could never hate you, you know that.”
“I don’t know anymore, Haru,” Makoto gave out a bitter laugh, “you have been avoiding me these past few days. I was pretty sure you hated me.”
Makoto looked straight at Haru, trying to search for something. Haru couldn’t stand it so he looked down and covered his face with both arms.
“So what have I done?” Haru thought something was clawing through his chest everytime he heard that depressed tone. He couldn’t stand it. Perhaps it would be better to get over his fetish.
“..-old your back?”
“Eh?” Makoto had to lean closer to listen to what his friend said.
“I said, may I hold your back?” Haru was sure he’s red up to his ears.
“I don’t understand but okay,” the taller guy complied and let his friend touch him. “Should I remove my uniform?” Haru shook his head.
His fingertips tingled with excitement. First it was only the finger tracing the outline through the fabric, like testing the waters dipping the toes first. Little by little, the other fingers followed, running through the entire back. He caressed every nook and cranny, remembering each curves. Makoto stirred in protest but Haru paid no heed. He needed to feel this. He had been waiting for this chance he thought he wouldn’t have.
“Is it fun touching me Haru?” He could tell that the other guy was blushing so hard. Haru continued with what he was doing, searching for more hidden lines. He started regretting refusing the offer to touch it directly.
“…I love your back Makoto,” the words fell through his lips in a whisper. The taller guy stopped fidgeting. Haru felt those muscles tensed.
“Just my back?” Makoto turned around, catching one of Haru’s hands. The dark-haired guy flinched in surprise. His fingers were lonely due to the sudden lost of contact.
“I want to touch Haru too,” he casted an upward look through his lashes, “I wonder if it’s alright?” He was asking permission. But that look, that tone, that small smile playing at the corner of his lips, there was no way Haru could reject that.
Haru nodded. He watched as the other’s face came closer and arms circled around his body. The scent reminded him of the time when he fell asleep and Makoto carried him back. His arms circled to Makoto’s back as well, his fingers picking up where they left off.
“Would you explain now why you avoided me?” Haru shifted under Makoto’s big built. Right, there’s no going back now.
“I… love your back.”
“You’ve just said that.” Makoto chuckled.
“I thought it must have been a fetish or something. But when we were in the swimming club, none of those backs from other swimmers appealed to me.” Haru remembered his disappointment when he realized that no one could be at par with Makoto. “There might be something wrong with me.”
“You avoided me because you thought something’s wrong with you?”
“Yes, or at least until I’ve calmed down,” he pursed his lips, “…but I couldn’t calm down when I see you. And I don’t just like your back because of its built. Because it’s you. It’s part of you.”
Makoto loosen his hold of Haru and peered at the latter’s face. He opened and closed his mouth but no words spilled from it. After a while he asked, “Haru do you love me?”
Not knowing what to answer, he ended up not answering at all. Makoto didn’t seem to mind. Instead, he’d gotten closer until their nose tips were touching.
“Because I love you, Haru.”
He didn’t need to reply. He didn’t need to be confused at all. Haru answered by closing in the small gap between them.