“Haru!” Makoto called happily, sprinting up the path to the bench his best friend was sitting on.
The raven-haired boy was reclining with his head leaned back and his eyes closed, his belongings heaped casually beside him. However, the moment he heard Makoto’s shout, he opened his eyes and straightened, a faint smile gracing his features.
Makoto skidded to a stop in front of him, bending to brace his hands against his knees as he caught his breath. “Hey,” he greeted, giving the other a wide, enthusiastic smile despite his panting.
It was 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and since both of them had breaks from their respective academic activities, they had decided to meet on Haru’s campus for lunch. Haru had chosen to wait in his favorite spot on the Commons, a long, almost park-like stretch of grass, walkways, benches, and the occasional tree or garden plot. Whenever they hung out on Haru’s campus, they both liked to come here; it was a great place to sit and have a moment of peace, a breath of fresh air.. a nice change from the stuffy hallways and classrooms and the chlorine-infused natatorium environment.
Makoto slung his backpack off and dumped it unceremoniously at his feet, rolling his shoulders. “Haah, I should really try to stay more in shape, but I haven’t had time to hit the gym lately,” he lamented, settling down beside him on the bench. Haru obliged by sliding his own bag off the seat, not saying anything in response but gazing intently at Makoto all the same. Makoto stretched out beside him, sighing deeply. “So! How’s your day been so far?” He angled his body toward Haru, propping his chin on his fist and smiling up at him.
Haru blinked, a touch of color suffusing his cheeks in response to the attention, and glanced down at his hands. “Good,” he replied quietly. “We learned some new pacing techniques today. And I shaved two seconds off my record.”
“Ahhh, Haru, that’s awesome!” Makoto beamed at him, and Haru blushed deeper at his praise.
“It’s nothing..” he mumbled, looking away.
Makoto chuckled. “Nn, it’s really impressive! Your coach must be pleased!”
Haru hesitated, glancing back at him out of the corner of his eye. “Y..yeah,” he admitted, lips belying his modesty by quirking into another tiny smile.
Makoto grinned. “Thought so.” Nodding proudly, he bent to rummage into his backpack, finally pulling out his lunch.
“...Makoto, leftover ramen again?” Haru forgot his embarrassment to glare accusingly at the taller boy.
Makoto rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “Yeah... I was in a hurry this morning.”
Haru huffed, shaking his head minutely. “I’ll cook something for you to freeze next time you come over,” he muttered, shifting to pry his own bento out of his bag.
Makoto gave him a grateful look, green eyes glowing with affection. “Thanks, Haru, I really appreciate it!”
Haru nodded once, studying his chopsticks as if they were somehow extremely fascinating. “How about you?” he said finally, looking up at him as he tucked a bite of rice into his mouth. “How’s your day going?”
“Good!” Makoto said, cramming a large chopstick-ful of noodles into his own mouth. “Class let out early this morning, so I got to get some more homework done before I came over here. Oh, and I got a B- on my last English test! I thought for sure I failed it..” He uttered a little laugh, shaking his head as he chewed and swallowed.
Haru met his gaze then, smiling softly. “Good job,” he said, offering him a bite of his vegetables, which Makoto eagerly accepted. “You worked hard.”
“A..ah,” Makoto agreed, tilting his head and scratching at his cheek. “I’m really glad it paid off, anyway.”
They ate in silence for several minutes after that, the only sounds their chewing and the occasional group of chattering passersby. But it was a comfortable silence, a familiar one, where they simply sat together and enjoyed each other’s company without needing to speak.
It was a warm day, but there was a distinct crispness in the air, indicative of the oncoming colder weather. The early autumn breeze gusted across the clearing, ruffling their hair and making Haru shiver.
Makoto turned toward him instinctively, resting his hand on Haru’s shoulder. “Haru, are you – Haru!!” He did a double take, gaping down at his boyfriend’s feet. “Haru, why are you barefoot??”
Haru frowned and kicked his pool slippers out from under the bench. “I have shoes.”
Makoto groaned, running his hands through his tousled sandy-brown hair. “It’s not summer anymore, Haru-chan! You’ll catch a cold running around in such light clothing!”
Haru humphed and folded his arms around himself, trying not to shiver again. “What I’m wearing is fine,” he countered stubbornly. “It’s not cold out yet.”
“No, what your wearing isn’t enough,” Makoto insisted firmly, looking him up and down with the air of a fussing mother. Haru was clad in a t-shirt and track pants, obviously having come out here straight from practice. His feet were bare, and his hair was still visibly damp in spots. Makoto sighed, giving him a look that was both reproving and fond at the same time. “Where’s your sweatshirt?”
“In my locker,” Haru replied, still refusing to look at him. “It was too much effort to bring. Besides, I wasn’t cold.” The wind caught the sleeves of his shirt again, and he scooted a fraction of an inch closer to Makoto.
Makoto raised his eyebrows knowingly. “Wear it later, then. It’s going to get colder.” He draped his arm across the back of the bench, a silent invitation for Haru to come nearer if he wanted to.
“Mhm.” Haru grunted a noncommittal response, focusing on his food. He did, however, shift the rest of the way over so that his knee was touching Makoto’s.
“Ah! I brought something for you.” Makoto dug in his backpack again, producing a small plastic container. “They were selling sushi in the market today, and.. well...” He handed the container to Haru, who accepted it curiously. He cracked the lid open and sniffed it, then looked up at Makoto, aquamarine eyes sparkling slightly.
“M..mackerel sashimi..” he said slowly, as if in disbelief.
“Mmhm!” Makoto grinned at him. “I thought you might like it, so I bought you a couple pieces!” He paused, worrying his lower lip with his teeth. “I hope it’s good...”
The first piece was already in Haru’s mouth. “It’s very good,” he said earnestly, chewing slowly to savor it.
Makoto exhaled in happy relief. “Ahh, I’m so glad!” he exclaimed, leaning back and closing his eyes. “I know you haven’t gotten to have as much mackerel lately, so when I saw it of course I thought of you...”
“It’s good,” Haru repeated firmly, finishing off the second piece with more gusto. “Thank you, Makoto.”
It was Makoto’s turn to blush. “A-ah, you’re welcome.”
They lapsed into silence again, absorbed in their food. After a couple more minutes, Makoto took a final bite of ramen, then stared ruefully into the bottom of the cup. “I really do need to get better things to eat...” he mused, half to himself. Haru rolled his eyes, but pursed his lips in a gentle look of agreement that Makoto didn’t miss.
The wind picked up again, and Haru huddled subconsciously against Makoto’s arm, frowning. Makoto furrowed his brow, noticing the array of goosebumps on Haru’s bare arms.
“Haru, are you sure you’re not cold?” he asked, in a tone that said he knew he definitely was.
Haru’s frown shifted into a scowl. “I’m fine,” he muttered, leaning away from him.
“Mm...” Makoto hummed dubiously, sliding closer to him. Haru huffed, but grudgingly let him come near enough to be touching again.
“So when do you have to go back to practice?” Makoto asked after a moment, tactfully changing the subject for now.
“At three,” Haru responded immediately, setting his bento box aside. The sun went behind a bank of clouds, and a particularly chilly breeze blasted against the two of them, at which Makoto felt Haru shudder.
Makoto sighed again, mildly concerned. He knew that, no matter what he said, Haru was obviously cold. He was shivering, his fingers and toes were purplish, and the tip of his nose was turning pink.
Haru, however, was determined to ignore all of this, and kept right on talking. “I’ve got a-another three hours of t-training l-left today,” he continued, curling his hands into fists. His voice was starting to shake a little. “But I’ve got a c-class at t-..” He hesitated, nose crinkling slightly. “..two o’cl –” He sneezed suddenly, into the air over his lap. “..o’clock-” Stubbornly, he tried to finish his sentence, but a sudden flurry of sneezes made that impossible. He brought his arm up to his face, aiming them into his elbow in a half-hearted attempt at courtesy – likely something he’d picked up from being around others so much of the time, Makoto realized with a quiet smile.
“Bless you,” he offered, patting him on the shoulder again – then stopped short as he saw that Haru wasn’t done.
Haru’s head tipped back, long eyelashes fluttering against his cheeks, before snapping forward again with yet another sneeze. He hunched over, tugging his collar up with one hand and burying his mouth and nose into the material of his shirt. Afterwards, he stayed put, muscles quivering with chills.
“Ahhh, Haru,” Makoto chided, placing his big hand over Haru’s smaller, freezing one, the one that remained in his lap. “I knew you were cold!! Here.” He scrambled for his backpack and yanked out his own hoodie, then hopped up and stood over Haru. “C’mon.” When Haru looked blearily up at him, Makoto slipped the garment over his head and tugged it down in the back and front, then began searching for Haru’s arms in the roomy material.
“M-Makoto..!” Haru stammered in protest, squirming fruitlessly against his efforts. He may have been strong, but Makoto was still bigger than him, so the struggle easily ended in Makoto’s favor. It didn’t help that the sweatshirt actually felt really nice against his cold skin. So sure enough, after a minute or two the sweatshirt was on Haru and Makoto was seated beside him again with a forgivably triumphant expression on his face.
“There now, isn’t that better?” Makoto said cheerfully, squeezing Haru’s shoulder.
“....It was fine before..” Haru said, tone stiff to match his pout. He sniffled, snubbing the edge of one sleeve beneath his nose. “..and anyway, I-I’m n-not cold..”
Makoto sighed, reaching to brush the bangs out of Haru’s eyes. “You’re trembling, Haru-chan,” he said patiently. “Ah, and you really need socks!!”
Haru shot him a perfunctory glare. “....drop the -chan,” he muttered, but Makoto was already up and rifling through Haru’s bag in search of said socks.
“Aha!” With an exclamation of victory, he pulled them out, then knelt in front of him without further ado, rolling them up and slipping them carefully onto Haru’s chilled feet. “Now you’ll be warmer,” he announced definitively, scrambling up and settling next to him once more.
“Hmh...” Haru looked away, one sleeve cuff still pressed to his mouth. Makoto took one look at him, then burst out giggling, much to Haru’s chagrin.
“What..?” Haru tried to sound cross, but Makoto’s mirth was apparently contagious, as the corner of his mouth quirked upward without his permission.
Makoto shook his head, still grinning. “Sorry Haru, you just look really cute....”
Haru’s eyes widened in astonishment before he turned his head again. “I don’t know what you mean..”
Makoto stopped laughing, but kept smiling softly. “Mmm.” Haru never understood why Makoto thought he was cute, but he was, so Makoto could never help pointing it out. In this case, it was nearly overwhelming – Haru, in the dark-blue sweatshirt that was far too large for him, sitting on the bench in socked feet, his hair sticking out every which way, that grudging pout on his face. The sleeves hung all the way over his hands, just the tips of his fingers peeking out, and his slender frame was lost in the baggy fabric. It was, in a word, adorable.
Haru’s cheeks grew redder at Makoto stared unabashedly at him, and he rubbed his nose again. “S...stupid.... I don’t n..need –” Haru interrupted himself to muffle yet another pair of sneezes into the material, then blinked as he belatedly remembered who it belonged to. “...sorry.”
“Nn, don’t worry about it, it’s okay.” Makoto slipped his arm around Haru’s shoulders, pulling him close. Then, he reached into his own jacket pocket and presented him with a pack of tissues. “Blow your nose.”
Haru sighed quietly and took one after only a moment’s hesitation, did as he was told, then sighed again. “...I am fine,” he mumbled, sniffling.
Makoto leaned over him, planting a kiss in his dark hair. “I know,” he consented, taking one of Haru’s hands in his free one and bringing it into his own sleeve as he massaged warmth into it. “But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do my best to warm you up.”
Haru went still, as though he were holding his breath. Then, he snorted, letting his head fall against Makoto’s shoulder. “Idiot,” he muttered.
When Makoto leaned his head on top of his, he drew a short breath and huddled closer, letting Makoto partially shield him from the wind. Then, after the quiet had enveloped them once again, he turned his face into Makoto’s shoulder and added, “....I guess it’s comfortable though.”
They stayed that way for a long time after that, nestled against each other and enjoying the silence.