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Swimming Ace

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The aquarium nearly threw them out before they discovered Haru's membership. Even then, only ten or twenty steps were left before the front door and the hard cement outside. Only the combination of Haru's blank stare, an equally blank stare from the dolphin plushie he'd bought at the gift shop, and Rin's makeshift apologies and promises of future redemption kept the card in their hands, and their hands still inside the premise. 

 

 

Rin growled and shoved Haru into the jellyfish exhibit. 

 

"One time, Haru. We bought the damn membership, and had a clean track record since that one time, and you almost blow it because you can't stay dry for more than a few hours!"

 

"I didn't even take my pants off." Haru stared blankly at the moon jellyfish. "The feeding staff recognized me and didn't let me get close."

 

"For good reason! You were up top, where the public isn't allowed! And you have a reputation!"

 

He didn't reply. Jellyfish weren't his favorite aquatic animal, by far, but he always stopped in the dark, black lit rooms to admire a few. He'd once told Rin that they were slow, but they knew how to feel the water, how to fill themselves with it and just drift.

 

Rin had scoffed and hidden a smile. 

 

They wandered quietly through the hallways, maneuvering a few couples who had taken advantage of the dark, as well as small children who pressed their noses and fingers to the glass, achingly curious.

 

"Look how long that one's tentacles are," Rin remarked, pointing at a golden colored jelly that was probably twice his height in length.

 

"Mmm." Haru watched the ripples hit the glass softly, mesmerized.

 

With Rin's help, they moved on. A girl bumped into Haru, giggling an apology as she followed her girlfriend, hands linked. Haru faltered for only a second, brushing at the arm she had bumped into, before continuing on. 

 

He stopped in front of a description board and an interactive display. Rin, having been studying Haru since they were little, had improved in his reading of nonverbal cues, and gave his boyfriend a gentle push with one shoulder, leading them both to a more isolated spot. He leaned against the wall with one arm, the other gently seeking Haru's hand.

 

The other boy's hand was cold, and Rin brushed his thumb over his palm.

 

"What's the deal? Too many people? I told you we should have come here on a weekday instead."

 

Haru remained silent. His fingers didn't move, allowing Rin to play with them, but not contributing. 

 

"What, do you want to swim?" Rin smacked his free hand to his forehead dramatically. "What am I saying? Of course you want to swim! But I mean...do you want to leave now and go to the pool? C'mon, Haru, you've got to tell me."

 

The fingers that had been unresponsive suddenly grabbed Rin's wrist and pulled him close. Rin spluttered, bracing himself with one hand on the wall, and looked behind him to make sure no one was watching, wild hair smacking Haru in the face at the turn of his head.

 

Frowning at the lack of attention, Haru pulled his boyfriend's face back, pressing a gentle but insistent kiss to his lips. Rin complied, and sighed when the hand clutching his own squeezed firmly. He let the hand on the wall wander to Haru's hip, and nipped at his lower lip, but couldn't suppress a squeak of surprise when a tongue tried to slip past.

 

"What are you doing?" he hissed, his flustered breaths mingling with Haru's even ones. Sure, they'd made out before, but never anywhere like this, and never incredibly intimately. Rin had never wanted to startle his slow moving boyfriend, but this...this was sending warm tingles into the pit of his stomach.

 

"Kissing you."

 

There was the usual reaction. Rin resisted the urge to punch the wall.

 

"No shit, I mean why? We can do that later, when we're not in the middle of a public area!"

 

Haru eyed him, eyes nearly lost in the darkness of the room. He glanced down, long lashes casting shadows across his cheeks, and Rin swallowed. What the hell was even going on here?

 

"A lot of people do this." Haru raised his eyebrows ever so slightly, challenging.

 

"That doesn't mean we have to!"

 

The dark blue eyes turned away from him, and Rin swore under his breath, hanging his head. He never seemed to be able to say the right thing, or was able to but the right thing for everyone else was never the right thing for Haruka Nanase.

 

"Look," he began, "I'm not saying I don't want to, I guess I'm just saying you don't need to feel obligated to? And here isn't really the bast place, anyway."

 

A slight nod in the shadows. Rin breathed a sigh of relief and leaned back, keeping ahold of Haru's hand.

 

"Wanna keep going?"

 

Another nod, and Rin tugged on the hand, grinning. They left the jellyfish hallways and wandered into the exhibits with larger animals, heading straight for the dolphin enclosure, hands still holding tight. 

 

---

 

The more time they spent in the aquarium, the quieter Haru became, and Rin's pent up energy finally overflowed and he dragged them both out the door, stuffing the dolphin plushie in his gym bag. At that, Haru wrinkled his nose, but Rin had just had it cleaned and knew the precious plushie would be fine, god.

 

As they neared the beach, a mischievous grin snuck over Rin's face, and he swiftly stashed the gym bag in a bush. Haru's eyes narrowed, and Rin felt the hair on the back of his neck prickle with anticipation. Both of them knew how this was going to go.

 

"Race you to the water!"

 

The only reason Haru won was because his jacket hit Rin in the face when he flung it away, but Rin got him back for it by tackling him the second it was deep enough.

 

They scuffled in the water, splashing and elbowing and making general nuisances of themselves. Rin spied a tiny smile on Haru's face, and laughed all the louder.

 

Eventually the water stopped flying and Haru floated aimlessly, riding the waves in and out. Rin swam out to a boulder and back, passing the other boy each time and purposefully dipping under him to let his toes graze the small of Haru's back. He was rewarded with a slight jolt and indignant scowl that held no real venom.

 

After a few more laps, Haru popped up next to Rin's rock with the Look in his eye, the look that said you're not getting away that easily. They waited for a wave to come in and were off without a starting gun or even a countdown, carving through the water simultaneously.

 

The ocean wasn't the best place to race, with the undercurrents and the wind and the occasional seaweed wrapping around one's leg, but the drag between their two bodies was incredible. Just as in the pool, they were each pushed and pulled forward by the other's energy, propelling through the water together.

 

It wasn't a race to see who would get ahead. It was a race to see how long they could remain together and still contain that energy, suspended, weightless.

 

The effect was ruined when a particularly rough wave lifted Haru up and away from their course, as he was closer to shore. Rin continued for a few more strokes before stopping to laugh in great gasping gulps. Haru merely scowled at him, pulling himself past the breakers and back into the deep.

 

"That didn't count."

 

"Maybe nature didn't want you to win," Rin snickered. 

 

Haru's eyes glimmered. "Yes, I was going to win before that."

 

"What- No-"

 

A small smile stole over his face, and Rin couldn't suppress a laugh at the hint of triumph he could detect in that smile.

 

"You're too damn smart for your own good," he said, and kissed him.

 

It ended badly, as most kisses in unrestrained water are ought to do, and Haru was lucky to come away without a bloody nose. The swim back to shore was filled with Rin's apologies, which continued until his face was as red as his hair.

 

Only when they reached dry sand did Haru respond, spinning around and catching Rin with both hands. The taller boy spluttered and shook the hair out of his eyes, flinging salt water everywhere, to Haru's annoyance.

 

"Okay, so I forgot that the ocean doesn't work the same as a pool, but don't be mad at me, damnit, it was a-"

 

One of Haru's hands came up to Rin's cheek, silencing the babble, and he swiftly leaned in for a kiss for the second time that day.

 

Rin melted against him, wrapping water-chilled arms around the smaller frame, and Haru murmured his approval. Heat built between them, spilling out in the way Rin's fingers gently dug into Haru's back and the way Haru's tangled in Rin's damp hair.

 

Rin was quite positive he could spend the rest of the day doing just this.

 

An abrupt, cold wind sucked the warmth away from them, except for the bit that pooled between and inside their chests. Rin shivered and pulled back, gulping when Haru licked his well-used lips and stared at him, eyes deep and dazed. 

 

"W-we should get inside," he muttered, eyes locked with Haru's. "Or we'll both catch colds."

 

Haru nodded silently and turned, jogging back up the beach without any heed to Rin's "Oi! Wait for me!"

 

The red-headed boy grabbed the gym bag out of the bush as they got back to the road, and they walked side by side to the train station. The tingling feeling hadn't left Rin's stomach or his lips, but he had an uneasy feeling that something was off. Haru was very quiet, quieter than usual, had been all day, but as stop after stop passed on the way to his house, he leaned against Rin, pressing their sides together, and Rin refused to think about anything that might prevent him from enjoying that feeling.

 

Two stops from the right one, Haru's hand found his again, and they absentmindedly played with each other's fingers the rest of the way home.

 

---

 

The walk from the train station to the house was charged. Rin felt it collecting in his feet and hands and considered racing home to rid himself of it, but somehow that seemed wrong. The mood was almost indicative of a very particular tension that was normal for most couples, but the problem was: They weren't most couples.

 

Haru was tense as well, but Rin wasn't sure how to interpret that, and he knew better than to assume.

 

So the walk remained a walk, and was quiet until they made it to the front porch.

 

Rin had had some designs about ambushing Haru when he fumbled with his keys, like in a romantic comedy, but remembered too late that Haru left his house unlocked and nearly let the door hit him in the face when it started to close behind Haru.

 

"Har-"

 

Haru slammed Rin against the closed door, effectively shutting him up and clearing any coherent thought from his mind.

 

Except that there was a slight hesitation before Haru kissed him, and Rin managed to scrape together enough blood for his brain to realize that before they started kissing in earnest. Unfortunately, it had a delayed reaction, and Haru's mouth had already made its way down to his jawline before he managed to choke a question out between deep, shaky breaths.

 

"H-Haru-" He cursed the way he stuttered, helpless under the assault of affection. "Haru, are you sure about this?"

 

Haru paused without looking up. His hot breath on Rin's neck made it hard to remember why he'd stopped this turn of events in the first place. 

 

"I like kissing you."

 

Rin's heart thudded painfully. "Okay, me too, but you seem-"

 

Haru shut him up with another kiss on the lips, and as much as Rin would have liked to continue, now he knew something was wrong. Not wanting to talk was one thing, but Haru interrupting, especially when the topic of conversation is him, was nothing short of suspicious. He was ignoring the problem. Again.

 

Rin gently pushed his shoulders away, and Haru had the gall to look hurt - he knew how much that look cut through Rin like a knife. 

 

"Haru, there's something bothering you, and you're not going to just shove it away and avoid it like always this time. I'm no Makoto, but you've been acting weird all day!"

 

The shorter boy looked away defiantly.

 

"Do you not want to do this with me?" he asked, voice hardly above a whisper.

 

Rin could die. "No, no, that's not it!"

 

"I want you to feel good."

 

How the fuck did Haru just let himself say things like that? Rin nearly choked on his own spit and forced himself to ignore the warmth that coiled in the pit of his stomach at those words.

 

"This isn't just about me, it's about both of us! Why can't you understand that?"

 

Haru shrank into himself, retreating instead of rising to the bait, and Rin's blood began to boil. No reaction, as usual. Like he wasn't even worth a reaction. He stalked closer, until they were toe to toe, and used his height advantage to bear down on his boyfriend.

 

"What's your problem?!"

 

Haru's face twisted for half a second before he turned and sat on the couch, shoulders hunched as he almost visibly retreated into his mind. And Rin wasn't going to have any of that bull.

 

"Just talk to me, Haru, I'm right here!" He sat down on the sofa, cringing when Haru flinched at the sharpness of the action. "Was it the aquarium thing? Did I say something? Whatever I did to piss you off, you've gotta tell me, I'm stupid, I don't just know-"

 

"What do you want from me?!"

 

Now it's Rin's turn to shrink back at Haru's raised voice - not a scream, not a yell, but a loud, desperate, why do we have to do this I don't want to do this question. Haru's fist was balled up against the couch, and his blue eyes were wide, and he-

 

Oh, god, Rin couldn't bear to see that expression. It was the same hurt expression, the same one from the relay, the same one that pierced Rin to his core and broke him into tiny pieces.

 

Haru lowered his head, hiding behind the dark hair. 

 

Rin refused to let him hide. He leaned forward, maintaining a bit of breathing room, not touching.

 

"I want to know what you want."

 

The curtain of dark hair rose, and Haru stared up at him, eyes flooded with the emotion he usually diluted and stored in beakers in the shelf at the back of his mind. 

 

They stared at each other. Rin tried a smile, without teeth, and fought back the angry, guilty, confused, frustrated, wanting tears that threatened the corners of his eyes. He didn't get a reaction, so he tried, slowly, like facing a spooked animal, to put their hands together again. Haru watched his slow progress across the couch, and allowed him to approach.

 

"I want..." he began, quiet in the stillness of the house. "I want to kiss you."

 

Rin opened his mouth to reply, but Haru barreled on.

 

"I like kissing you a lot, and you like it to, but I don't want to have sex with you. But I know you probably want that, because that's what people want in a relationship. I don't want to do all of that."

 

Rin hardly knew what to think. He watched as Haru lifted his head to gauge his reaction, apparently finding something aggressive there, and dropped it again. Immediately, Rin tried to soften his expression.

 

"I...I'm sorry, I don't understand, Haru, I'm sorry, am I not...?"

 

"It's not that."

 

Haru looked up, a wry smile playing at the ends of his mouth. Any other time Rin would want to kiss that smile, but now he merely sat back and stared at it. Haru intertwined their fingers and hesitantly continued.

 

"Makoto said it's called asexual. I'm not attracted to people sexually." He looked away, the faintest hint of a blush high on his cheekbones. "But I like you. A lot."

 

Rin turned his words over in his head, ignoring the sting that Haru had gone to Makoto about this first. "So...you're into me, just not in that way?"

 

"Sexually," the other boy confirmed.

 

"Yes, that way!" Rin blustered, fighting to keep a blush from his cheek. "Then why did..." He thought back to Haru's actions throughout the day. The sudden affection, the total willingness to follow Rin's wake in what they did, and the veiled uneasiness all added up in his head. "You were going to just let us-!"

 

Haru bit his lip and shrugged. "You wanted to."

 

"And you didn't want to!"

 

"Don't you ever listen, Rin?"

 

Suppressing a groan, Rin leaned forward and met Haru's exasperated gaze, pressing their foreheads together.

 

"Tell me again."

 

Haru huffed.

 

"I want you to feel good."

 

There it was again, the blossoming of warmth in Rin's stomach. He fought against it again, fought against the blush that was definitely heading in several different directions, and tried to be absolutely certain.

 

"So you don't mind...helping me, as long as I don't...you?"

 

Haru rolled his eyes and, in a sudden flurry of movement, pinned Rin to the couch. Not knowing whether to be turned on or cowed, Rin settled for confused and only slightly turned on. 

 

"You can touch me if you want. Where I let you. And I'll touch you."

 

Rin didn't bother to point out that Haru hadn't bothered to add, "if it's okay with you" to the end of his sentence. It had become obvious over the course of the day and even the last few weeks of their relationship that Rin didn't have any problem with Haru touching him.

 

Instead of thinking about it, he flushed and scowled.

 

"Fine, so we'll have some rules set down beforehand. I get it."

 

The tiny, cheeky little grin returned to Haru's face, and he lowered his head until his breath fell directly on Rin's collarbone. The redhead squirmed.

 

"You can put your hands on my waist, or shoulders. But this is all about you."

 

Rin let out an embarrassing sound before Haru moved, and then they were kissing again, sprawled out on the couch, carefully exploring and navigating personal boundaries and seeing what was comfortable for both of them. If Rin had been capable of coherent thought, he would have congratulated himself for having successfully resolved this very important problem, but he found his mind blissfully occupied elsewhere.

 

They didn't leave the couch all night long.

 

---

 

"Haruuuuu-chaannn! Rin-chaaannn!"

 

Scuffling sounded outside the door.

 

"Nagisa, don't just yell like that, they might still be asleep! It's early!"

 

More scuffling.

 

"Come on, they had all day yesterday together! And all night~"

 

The distinct sound of someone's forehead being thumped.

 

"Owwww, Rei-chan!"

 

"We must respect Rin-senpai and Haruka-senpai's privacy!"

 

Rin groaned and rubbed the sleep from his eyes with one hand. Why was he so cold on one side? He turned his head to find Haru blinking sleepily on his left, and the edge of the couch on his right. That explained it.

 

"I think you have visitors," he murmured into the dark hair next to him, smiling at the smell of chlorine and salt water he found there. It wasn't the first time he'd woken up next to Haru, but he only had so many free weekends from Samezuka, and they usually slept up in the bedroom, fully clothe-

 

Rin jolted, earning an annoyed noise from Haru, and frantically looked around for his t-shirt. It was on the floor, right next to the couch, along with his pants. Haru was similarly covered, though for sleeping comfort reasons more than anything else.

 

He stretched out an arm, swearing under his breath as his arm regained feeling after being lain on, and grabbed their clothes. Nothing of a terribly sensual nature had happened, with only shirts coming off, but Haru....well, Haru was good with his hands, and didn't mind when it was Rin receiving. He'd had to remind Rin a few times where to keep his own hands, but assured him before they fell asleep that it was mutually satisfying, in its own way. The redhead may have shed a happy, hormonal tear.

 

But Rin had never felt more proud of himself.

 

They bumped hips pulling pants back on, and Haru took the opportunity to kiss his cheek. Even after the intimacy of the night before, Rin's face still threatened to burst into flames.

 

Haru answered the door looking distinctly unruffled. Nagisa, Rei, and Makoto stumbled in, respectively, with Nagisa making no effort to be subtle.

 

"Hey, Rin-chan! Sleeping on the couch by yourself, hm?"

 

"Shove off, Nagisa," he growled, but a secret glance from Haru coaxed a smile from him.

 

"You two look like you slept well," Makoto observed knowingly, eyeing Haru and receiving a mute nod in response. 

 

"It has often been noted that sleeping with another that one feels particularly intimate or comfortable with creates a better environment for sleeping more soundly for a longer period of time," Rei declared, not even pausing for breath.

 

"I know I've been sleeping better lately, Rei-chan!" Nagisa grinned, earning an indignant flush from the taller boy.

 

Makoto smiled at all of them and looked pointedly at Rin.

 

"So you two had a good time?"

 

Rin looked at Haru, and Haru stared back at him before dropping his gaze and extending his hand. Behind them, Nagisa squealed when they slowly grasped each other's fingers, tangling in a thrillingly delicious sensation of intimacy that had nothing to do with what most couples liked to do late at night.

 

"Yeah," Rin grinned, fighting a blush for the fiftieth time in the past twenty-four hours. "Yeah, I think we did pretty good."

 

Haru smiled back at him, and Rin felt like he was floating.