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Rin has always known that he has an unfortunate tendency to fuck things up just when they’re getting good, but this is a really, really painful reminder of just how awry the situation can become.

It wasn’t supposed to go in this direction. It’s intended to be a friendly lunch, him and Haruka at the fantastic sushi bar, bonding over tasty food and similar interests. He didn’t particularly put too high a hope on the ‘bonding’ part, knowing how unresponsive Haruka is like, but Rin wished that he could get at least a tiny bit closer to him; get that connection, so to say. When with Haruka, Rin feels jumpy and anxious, his skin tingling and breathing rapid, but at the same time he feels at ease, comfortable to the extent of opening up about his late father, which he rarely does. It’s contradicting and illogical, but then again, when has anything about his feelings towards Haruka make sense?

Rin could practically sense the moment everything went wrong. One minute he’s rambling excitedly about dreams and passion, the next minute he’s already accidentally mentioning about the whole thing being a freaking date and yeah, that was the point of it going downhill.

He wasn’t supposed to blurt out the stupid thing about kissing. They were already getting cozy with each other, until Rin had to ruin it. Now the awkward silence is back, and it’ll probably not go away any time soon.

Shifting the slice of tamago from his sushi (because yuck, who came up with the idea of sweet egg rolls?), Rin glances at Haruka, who’s currently digging into his mackerel sashimi silently. His crimson eyes follow the delicate movements of the boy’s long, elegant fingers working their way around the chopstick with trained precision. Clearly Haruka’s eaten many, many sashimi before. Dude’s got skills.

Haruka must’ve noticed Rin’s staring because he looks up from his plate to return the gaze. Rin doesn’t even notice when he’d started assuming the pose of a severely lovestruck person -head resting on the top of his hand, leaning against it as he watches Haruka with a disgustingly fond look that could be seen from miles away- and having the guy himself catch him doing that is just beyond embarrassing.

He turns away promptly, pretending to stare out the window while humming a random tune. It’s still so glaringly obvious that he was staring, but hey, at least he tried.

 

Not a second later, his phone vibrates on the table, lights blinking and turning the display on.

Rin battles the urge to groan. Again? Seriously?

 

This time though, it’s a text. It might not be anything urgent, so he decides to let it slip (hello! It’s common courtesy to not be on your mobile devices when you’re hanging out with someone!).

“Read the message, Rin,” Haruka suddenly says, eyes fixed on the still blinking phone, facial expression unreadable. Is he angry? Annoyed? Rin thinks he looks more unbothered than anything, to be honest. “Maybe it’s important.”

With a lead-heavy heart, Rin sighs, picking up the phone and flicking the message open.

 

It’s the FanFest event manager, Himura-san. Upon reading the text, Rin slaps his forehead, running a hand over his face in pure exasperation. “Haru,” Rin says, meeting Haruka’s eyes dead on for the first time since their thwarted attempt of a kiss.  He puts on the best apologetic expression he can muster and forces a grin that contradicts his unwillingness inside. “I’m so, so sorry but I have to go now. They’re looking for me, apparently I’m missing some part of the schedule and I’ve to be there in twenty or I’ll get my ass whipped.”

Haruka scowls. “But you said you weren’t busy.”

“I know, my bad,” Rin replies. Haruka keeps silent then, but Rin quickly notices that the boy has resorted to staring (more like glaring) at the table, lips contorted into a forlorn frown that makes his heart clench. Knowing that he was the one who put that grimace there doesn’t help to chase the guilt away.

Given the choice, Rin never wants to see Haruka sad, ever. He only wants to make Haruka smile happily. Why is that so hard to do? Why is the world sometimes such a shitty place?

“Hey now, don’t make that face…” Rin coaxes sweetly.

“—‘m not making a face...”

“You are! See, your lips are curving downwards just a tiny bit here.” Unconsciously leaning forward, Rin reaches out to place his hand on Haruka’s jaw, running his thumb in soft motion along the faint lines below Haruka’s cheeks. He smirks, still too caught up in the moment to realize what he’s actually doing. “You look like an old man, Haru.”

Face turning pink, Haruka reluctantly slaps away Rin’s hand, mumbling “Shut up.”

 

They make it out of the restaurant within 5 minutes, thanks to Haruka successfully gobbling the rest of his sashimi in record time. Rin insisted on paying for the meal as part of his apology for cutting their lunch short, though in actuality, he just wanted to follow the ‘proper’ dating etiquettes. Haruka wordlessly let him do so, aware that if he declined, they’ll fight over it like two idiots and it wouldn’t do any good, especially when Rin’s in such a rush.

“I’ll make it up to you, okay? After the joint swimming practice?”

Haruka looks questioningly at Rin, not understanding. “Joint… practice?”

“Yeah, the one we’re having this Wednesday.” Rin pushes aside the blinds curtains of the main entrance, holding it there to let Haruka pass through (romantic, isn’t it?!). Noticing the confused face Haruka’s making, he asks. “You didn’t know? Didn’t your captain tell you?”

“Makoto is the captain. But nobody said anything.”

“Well, I guess you heard it first from me, then.” Casually, Rin hooks his arm around Haruka’s shoulder, grinning from ear to ear. “We’re going to swim together, Haru! Isn’t that exciting!”

“Not so much…”

“Oh reaaaally? Hah! I’ll prove you wrong, you’ll see,” Rin says cheekily. “I’ll make you so pumped up, you won’t notice anything around you but me.” Okay, wow Rin. Find your chill.

Casting a glance at the arm wrapping around him, Haruka shrugs. “Whatever.”

Walking a few more steps, the overwhelming heat from their bodies pressed close coupled with the summer sun’s hotness snaps Rin out of his trance, finally taking notice of the time. Only ten minutes until the encore starts, and they’re still a stretch of distance away from the hall. “Damn it, there’s really not much time left,” Rin mutters. An idea pops in his mind and he starts breaking into a wide smile. “Haru, wanna run for it?”

All Haruka manages to give in reply is a small nod before Rin's grabbing his hand, pulling him along as they sprint down the gravelly roads and grassy sidewalks, the scenic backgrounds of Tokyo passing by them in a blurry flash. There’s adrenaline rush in the midst of everything, and he’s breathless alright, but Haruka lets his feet lift with each step Rin takes, lets Rin lead him in the run as he feels his whole body gets lighter and lighter, almost like he’s fading away into the air himself. Rin’s hand is warm, clasping around his in a tight grip, and Haruka can practically hear his heart pounding in his chest, its constant sounds a stark contrast against the whooshing noise of breeze hitting his face.

 

He feels like he’s soaring. Flying. Free, and boundless.

 

Haruka clutches Rin’s hand tighter.

 

They keep on running.

 

It’s all over too soon, though, both of them panting and gasping for air in front of the main hall, hands on knees while trying to catch their breaths. A few of the people around look at them funny, but that’s really nothing surprising.

“That was kinda fun!” Rin exclaims, bubbly laughter coming out in short fragments. It’s been a while since the last time he’d run at such a speed, he’s forgotten how much enjoyment it can bring. Calming down from his high, Rin notices that Haruka is beside him, still breathless and coughing intermittently. “Haru, you’re alright?”

Haruka struggles to speak, hand clutching onto his chest as he tries to breathe normally. He shakes his head and stutters out his complaint. “Too… fast…”

“Sorry I had to drag you like that. But hey, you’re a swimmer, you ought to have more stamina than that! Maybe you should consider working out a bit.” Rin teases. Seeing Haruka’s genuine distress, however, Rin steps closer, feeling concerned. “Hey… You’re okay, Haru. Take a deep breath… yes, that’s it.”

Haruka does as advised and soon starts settling down. “It’s not like I swim to win,” he scoffs. “I swim freely.”

“Yeah, yeah… You and your free.”

Rin doesn’t want this to end, this friendly banter he and Haruka are sharing right now, but the vibrations coming from his phone in his pocket are screaming otherwise. He’ll have to run again to the backstage if he wants to stay alive. Shuffling his feet anxiously, Rin speaks up. “Okay, Haru. I gotta get going. See ya later.”

“Rin, wait!” Without warning, Haruka pulls him to the side and swoops in to plant a kiss on his left cheek, lingering for a second. Rin’s eyes widen in surprise, air knocked out from his lungs and hands frozen limply at his sides. He's unable to breathe, to feel, to comprehend, to even think anything at all, and when Haruka’s lips part from his skin with a barely audible sound, Rin shuts down instantaneously like an old-as-fuck computer running on Windows 98.

Standing rooted on the spot, Rin stares open-mouthed as Haruka dashes away without looking back, a rosy tint spreading over his cheeks.

 

He winds up being late after all.


The sight of a fuming Sousuke tapping his feet impatiently with arms crossed in front of his room’s door isn’t something Rin has anticipated, nor is it something he’s looking forward to. If someone were to walk by in the corridor now, the person would’ve wondered who the hell peed in Sousuke’s drink to make him so annoyed.

Angry Sousuke is a scary Sousuke.

“Dude, seriously? It’s almost 12, you barely made it before the curfew. Where the hell were you?”

Flinching at the loud and brash tone, Rin meekly replies. “I was at the FanFest, doing… stuff.”

“Until so late at night? It ended at 6, you know you can’t bullshit me, Rin,” Sousuke pushes himself off the wall he’s been leaning on, bringing his body to its full height towering over Rin. It only serves to amplify his intimidation. Rin knows that if he spills that he has spent the whole evening daydreaming at the playground near Samezuka Academy and replaying the kiss on cheek Haruka gave him earlier, Sousuke would be even more irritated. Sousuke has a playful side to him like any other teenager, but he’s not one to break the rules; if Haruka indirectly leads Rin into trouble, he will not hesitate to put a stop to it. “Hold up. On the phone earlier you said that you were gonna have your first kiss.”

“Yeah…?” Shit, Rin panics. Sousuke knows.

“And the only person I know that you’d actually want to kiss is Nanase.” Like a private detective placing the pieces together, he stares Rin down and drops the bomb. “He was there, wasn’t he?”

Rin smiles sheepishly, unties his ponytail and eases past Sousuke’s large frame to open the door, not wanting to let Sousuke see the stupid bashful grin he’s sporting. Behind him, he can hear Sousuke chuckle bitterly and mumble ‘unbelievable’. “Let’s go inside,” he says, gesturing for Sousuke to follow. The warden might make his round anytime now. “Nitori went back to his hometown for the weekend, so it’s fine if we talk a bit loud. Which I know is bound to happen once you start your fanboy rants.”

“More like once you start talking about Nanase.”

“Don’t make this about me! You were the one who wanted to talk about that Orca guy.” At the mention of Orca’s name, Sousuke’s teal eyes turn a few shades brighter, anger wiped off his face. Rin rolls his eyes; such an open book, that Sousuke. “Okay, I’m all ears,” Rin states at long last, taking his seat on top of his bed.

Sousuke begins detailing his story, much of which he has told Rin over the phone, albeit less coherently. Like the best friend he is, Rin listens to it all despite coming close to dozing off a couple of times.

“So he knew your name, but you didn’t tell him. And you didn’t put your name in your Tumblr bio either.” Rin hums thoughtfully. “You probably know each other in real life.”

“Exactly! But who can it be? None of my friends watches anime, okay except for you, but you only watch the cheesy shoujo stuff.”

“You got a problem with that?!”

“Ten years of friendship and you’re still doubting me, tsk tsk... Rin, if I do have a problem with you, I wouldn’t be here,” Sousuke points out, and they share a lighthearted giggle. After some time, Sousuke lets out a sigh. “Do you think I can somehow find out who he is?”

Rin shrugs. “Ask him directly, Sou, it’s the fastest way. No need to play Sherlock.”

“Good idea,” Sousuke says. Bumping Rin’s shoulder lightly, he smirks. “You still owe me Tachibana’s number, by the way.”

“Ugh, I told you, I’m not going to ask Haru for Makoto’s number. It’ll be so fucking embarrassing! Why don’t you talk to Haru yourself if you want it so bad.”

“Okay, I’ll do it. Gimme your phone,” Sousuke agrees in a heartbeat, earning a quirked eyebrow from Rin. “What? Figured you wouldn’t disclose your precious crush’s number so easily to anyone, even me, so let me use your phone instead.”

Throwing his arms up in the air, Rin screeches. “But you’ll see our previous conversations!”

“Duh. What’s the big deal?”

“I need my privacy.”

“Why are you so reluctant, you guys started sharing dick pics already?”

“Sousuke!” Rin gasped, horrified.

“No? Not even one? Heh, keeping it PG, huh…” Stealthily, Sousuke tries to snatch the black phone lying on the bed, but luckily (or unluckily for Sou), Rin’s reflex is faster. “Come on Rin, he’s probably sleeping already. I’ll just send him a text, that’s it. When he replies, you can tell me later.”

The power of persuasion a best friend holds over you is amazing, Rin thinks, as he finds himself pondering for a while before relenting to Sousuke’s pleads, handing over his phone in defeat.

“I’m beginning to regret this already,” Rin says, observing Sousuke swiping at his phone, tongue sticking out in concentration. “Don’t peek at my gallery,” he warns.

“Mhmm.”

“Don’t you dare laugh when you see his name.”

“Okay--- HAHAHA IS THAT A HEART, RIN? Oh my god, you saved his name with a heart! You sappy little-- Ouch, that hurts!” Rubbing at his sure-to-bruise arm, Sousuke whines.

“Your own fault for being so shitty, Sou.”

“Sorry,” Sousuke says softly, fingers briskly typing out his message. From the corner of his eyes, he sees Rin plopping face down on the bed -obviously desperate for a rest- and sneers. “By the way, Rin, I think you forgot to upload your Saturday vlog.”

Tensing up, Rin releases a long suffering grumble into the pillows. “You could’ve told me earlier!”

 

Sousuke can hardly contain his chortles as Rin scrambles out of bed, heading towards his laptop.


 

Makoto comes home after Comiket, feeling like the entire planet Earth has just crashed onto his head, its trees’ splinters piercing through his skull, its clouded ozone layers suffocating him to death.

 

Makoto can still recall clearly the way his chest tightened the instant his eyes fell on Sousuke at the event, who introduced himself as ‘doritobod’, his Tumblr-persona fan. The person he’s been talking to for the past few months, who was responsible for all the encouraging and saccharine-sweet fan mails that kept him going with new cosplay projects every other week?

Yeah. That was all Yamazaki freaking Sousuke.

 

Letting the beads of heated water fall onto his body in the shower, Makoto reflects on everything. Why must it be him? 127.3 million people in Japan and it just had to be Sousuke?

 

See, what makes things worse is that Sousuke is not ugly, nor is he an asshole. No. Sousuke is a heartbreakingly handsome young man with the kindest downturned eyes and the warmest smile Makoto has ever seen, and from the moment he’d seen him at the train station while they were both waiting for Rin and Haruka, Makoto knew that Sousuke is just… different. Sousuke’s every word spoken in that deep soothing voice makes him blush redder than a tomato, his insides flip in ways he could never imagine before, his mind hazy and light. To top it all, every time that he’d seen Sousuke (especially today), he’s dressed impeccably like a model straight out of a high-end fashion magazine.

In addition, there’s that little height difference they have going on. Makoto has never met anyone with similar body built as him in his lifetime, and he’d be bluffing if he claims that he hasn’t pictured how comfortable it would be to be wrapped up in those strong arms and being cuddled as the little spoon, for once.

 

Crush or not, Makoto knows he’s screwed.

 

It’ll be too weird for him to just ditch ‘doritobod’ after this, but Makoto’s not sure he can handle talking to him like usual now that he knows it’s Sousuke on the other side of the screen.

One thought leads to another, and when he has to switch the warm water into an ice-cold shower for reasons he’s too flustered to state, Makoto knows it’s time to stop. Hastily, he steps out and changes into casualwear. He comes down for dinner –acting like himself so his family will not notice-, plays with his twin siblings, does his homework, tidies his room… and when it’s sleeping time, he lays in bed.

 

It’s 12 something now. He’s still awake.

 

A call comes through Makoto’s cellphone at 12.15A.M., and to his utter disbelief, it’s Haru.

“Makoto,” Haruka’s voice fills the quiet midnight air. “I’m outside your house now.”

It’s rare for Haruka to be dropping by like this. And he certainly has never done an impromptu visit at such ungodly hours at night. Not wanting to disturb his parents and siblings, Makoto tiptoes soundlessly down the stairs to open the front door, letting Haruka in.

“So… how did the meet-up go?” Makoto asks once they’re in his room, Haruka sipping on the warm glass of milk he managed to smuggle out the kitchen sneakily (because let's face it, he is a mother hen and he just feels obligated to take care of people the best way he can).

“Okay,” Haruka replies nonchalantly. “We went out for lunch.”

“That’s really great!” Makoto cheers delightfully, clapping his hands once in glee. His happiness is interrupted by a dark aura coming from his friend, though, and even without telepathy, Makoto can literally feel Haruka’s upset disseminating into the air. “Are you okay, Haru? You look pretty off, to be honest.”

Haruka shifts in his place on the bed, knees drawn up to his chest. “Makoto. You didn’t tell me about the joint practice.”

“Huh? Oh! The one with Samezuka Academy.” Damn it, Makoto knew hiding it from Haru is a bad decision! “Yeah, well… Nagisa told me not to, said it’ll be a surprise for you.”

“I don’t like surprises. They can be troublesome.”

Makoto’s about to apologize when his subconscious hearing catches onto bits and pieces of Haruka’s thoughts, all of which is a strange blend of vexation and confusion. He hears ‘idiot Rin’ somewhere in the lines and immediately understands where all of this is coming from.

“You’re pissed about something else. I can tell.”

“I’m not,” Haruka retorts.

“It’s alright, if you don’t want to talk about it,” Makoto smiles reassuringly. “Want to play video games?”

Haruka looks up at him from the edge of the mug, ocean blue orbs glinting. “The twins?”

“Sleeping in their room. They had a field trip to the Planetarium today, poor things, they were exhausted.”

“Hmmm,” Haruka slowly sits upright and starts reaching for the game controllers by the bedside and the stack of game boxes to choose from. Meanwhile, Makoto sets up the console and lowers down the volume before any music can fire up from the speakers. “By the way, Makoto, Sousuke asked me for your number.”

“W-what?!” Makoto splutters, turning sharply to look at Haruka. “Did he s-say anything?”

“He wanted to be ‘friends’with you. I think he’s lying.”

Makoto’s face lights up like the Christmas tree, expression hopeful and excited. “Okaaaay, what did you do, then?”

“I said no, of course. He looks suspicious. Even if he’s Rin’s friend.” Haruka sees the way Makoto’s shoulder sags, and frowns. “Why, you wanted me to?”

“Ummm, I… I wouldn’t mind, you know.” Makoto turns his attention back to the game console, pouting a little. Haruka did the right thing, but sometimes the right thing is not the thing that he wants. “He just seems like a good guy. I think it’ll be nice to make new friends once in a while. And he swims too! We can… e-exchange tips, or something.”

Absentmindedly, Makoto takes the CD that Haruka has chosen and plugs it into the PS3 drive, watching it swallow the disc effortlessly. He fiddles with the wires of the controller, not noticing the other occupant of the room typing away at his cellphone.

Moments later, Haruka slides down to sit on the carpet next to Makoto, taking his own controller in his hands. “I texted him,” he says. “Sent him your number.”

 

Makoto feels his heart lurch to his throat. Did Haruka really just…?

 

Oh my god,” Makoto breathes, feeling butterflies erupting in his stomach. This can’t be real. Sousuke has his number. What the actual heck.

 

Almost perfectly on cue, his lime green cellphone sitting nicely on top of the table vibrates, and along with that comes the single chime he’s set as his message tone.

Makoto drops the controller so fast, it’s probably got some cracks on the sides. He grabs the phone in his cold, sweaty palms and flips it open with his thumb.

 

New Messages.

 

With a loud squeak, Makoto climbs back onto the bed and grabs whatever pillows he can find, pressing them onto his face to muffle the inhuman sounds he’s probably making. His face is splitting in two from how hard he is beaming, and gosh, hasn’t this day taken such a drastic detour? He types a quick reply, waits for the response, gets a mini heart attack, types another one again, and the cycle repeats on and on.

On the floor, Haruka comes to a realization that he’s on his own tonight and silently selects the 1-player mode of his favourite ‘Let’s Go! Deep Sea Creatures’ game, choosing Northern Stoplight Loosejaw-kun as his playable character.

 

Another squeal erupts from where Makoto's curled into a ball of human, pillows and comforter, and Haruka sighs. Might as well enjoy the game while he still can.