Makoto sighed shoving his books into his backpack quickly. It was beginning to get late and if he didn't hurry he was going to be late for his usually Thursday study session. Ever since they'd moved to Tokyo they'd made a habit of studying together despite going to different universities.
“Going to Haru-chan's again?”
Makoto smiled slightly turning to his computer where Nagisa was watching him from a Skype call.
“It’s our Thursday night ritual.”
“And Monday, and Friday, and nearly every other day of the week,” Nagisa said with a giggle shaking his head.
“Are you ever going to tell him how you feel?”
“Haru isn’t interested in me.”
“How do you know?”
Makoto sighed putting his backpack down. They’d had this argument many times but Nagisa didn’t know how to give up.
“I just do Nagisa. If he was interested in me I would have known by now.”
“Never know until you try, right? Isn’t that what you told me?”
Makoto frowned. He knew those words would come back to him one day. He’d told Nagisa that before they left for University, when he found out that Nagisa was interested in Rei.
“Did you ever make a move on Rei?”
Nagisa opened his mouth and closed it quickly.
“I thought so,” Makoto said, reaching over to close the call.
“No…don’t. It’s not that I didn’t tell Rei, it’s, Rei’s response may have changed things.”
Makoto frowned sitting at his desk concerned. He knew he should be hurrying over to Haru’s, but Nagisa sounded upset and Makoto wasn’t going to leave the conversation like that.
“What do you mean?”
“Rei told me he’s asexual.”
Makoto blinked confused.
Nagisa sighed leaning back in his chair blowing a bubble from his gum.
“It means he’s not sexually attracted to anyone. I didn’t understand it at first either. I did some research when I got home. He told me we shouldn’t be together because he wasn’t sexually attracted to people, and that it wouldn’t be fair to me.”
Makoto frowned looking at the pain in Nagisa's face. He couldn’t be upset with Rei. He’d been honest with Nagisa and that was all he could do, but he felt awful that Nagisa was upset.
“What’re you going to do?”
“I’m going to do more research. This website says that many people who are asexual date. Maybe he just isn’t interested in me as well? Or maybe he thinks I won’t be interested in him anymore. The most I can do is be supportive and then talk to him about it.”
Makoto nodded slowly.
“Thanks. Anyways, go on. Go to your date with Haru, have a good time.”
“It’s not a date.”
“Might as well be. You two act like an old married couple.”
“Heh. Married couples have more benefits.”
“Not old married couples,” Nagisa said with a laugh. “Talk to you later Makoto.”
“You too Nagisa,” Makoto said with a smile before disconnecting the call and shutting down his computer.
He really did enjoy his calls with Nagisa. The boy kept him up to date on the swim team, and it was nice to have an outsider view on his relationship with Haru. He wasn’t sure when Nagisa became aware of his feelings for Haru, or if he’d known since they’d been young, but the blonde had been incredibly supportive of his being gay, and his feelings for Haru. It’d definitely been a blessing that he hadn’t seen coming before.
Haru sighed looking at the clock. He'd been expecting Makoto to show up for more than fifteen minutes, and it wasn't like Makoto to be late. He sighed running his fingers over the top of his textbook looking up at the clock. He let out a breath of relief when he heard the knock on the door. He knew without asking that it was Makoto. He'd made very few friends since moving to Tokyo and the only one that knew where he lived was Makoto.
"Sorry," Makoto said as Haru opened the door. "Nagisa wouldn't get off Skype. He had a lot to say."
Haru let himself relax at the sight of Makoto's apologetic smile and nodded.
"It's fine. You can just blame him when dinner is cold."
Makoto laughed softly as Haru went to the kitchen to grab their plates.
It was tradition, if they could call it a tradition after only a few months, that they ate while they studied. Haru would make them dinner and they would sit down at the living room table and eat as they looked over their school books.
"No mackerel?" Makoto asked with a smirk.
"Haha. You've made enough of a fuss over it before."
Makoto laughed softly sitting down.
"Is Nagisa okay?"
"Yes. He just needed to vent." Makoto told him, pulling his school books out of his bag. "You should call him soon. He misses you."
"I know. I just get so busy with classes, practice, and swim meets," Haru said quietly.
"I know. He understands."
Haru nodded slowly opening the calculus book in front of him. He was glad to be able to talk to Makoto so easily. He'd been acting strange, ando Haru was beginning to think he'd done something wrong.
"Ready to get started?"
"With calculus? Never."
Haru laughed, shaking his head as he pulled a stack of paper towards him.
Makoto smiled slightly watching as Haru got started. He was glad that Haru was living in Tokyo with him and could help him study for his more difficult classes. Haru had always been a better student than him, not that Haru would admit it. Despite his rough exterior Haru was incredibly modest. He didn't like drawing anyone's attention.
Makoto turned his attention back to their school work, but every few minutes he found himself glancing back at Haru. He couldn't help but watch the way he chewed on his bottom lip while he was thinking and the little crease that formed between his eyebrows when he was confused. It was usually easier for him to ignore his feelings for Haru, but after his conversation with Nagisa, they were at the forefront of his mind.
Haru sighed putting his pen down looking at Makoto slowly.
Makoto jumped, feeling himself flush with embarrassment from getting caught.
"What is it?"
"Why do you keep staring at me? Do I have food on me or something?"
Makoto blinked before shaking his head slowly.
"No Haru, nothing like that."
"Then what is it?"
Makoto cleared his throat looking down at the table.
Makoto looked back up at him and paused. Haru had leaned closer, his bright blue eyes peering into Makoto's. Makoto slowly reached up to touch his cheek, causing Haru to pause in surprise.
Haru's question was cut off as Makoto closed the distance between them, kissing him softly. He knew he was taking a giant risk, but he had to know. He needed to know if there was a chance he and Haru could be more than friends. He pulled back slowly, taking in Haru's response. His heart sunk as he realized Haru hadn't moved to kiss him back.
"M...Makoto? What was that about?" Haru asked softly.
Makoto sighed running his fingers through his hair. He'd known it was a bad idea. He shouldn't have let Nagisa's words get to him. He knew how Haru felt about him. They were best friends and that was all they were going to be.
He sighed, gathering the strength he would need to get through this.
"I guess this is kind of late to be telling you this but... I'm gay," he started off, watching Haru's expression slowly, continuing only when he saw Haru wasn't going to react. "I'm gay, and...and I've had feelings for you for as long as I can remember."
Makoto sighed pulling back as he saw Haru's eyes widening slowly.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. I'm just going to go."
He stood, walking out the apartment before Haru could stop him. He'd already made enough of a fool of himself. He hurried down the street pulling out his phone to call Nagisa, who picked up after three rings.
"I...I screwed up Nagisa."
"What'd you do?"
"I kissed him."
"You kissed Haru?!"
"That's fantastic!" Nagisa cried happily.
Makoto sat down on the bench down the street from Haru's apartment dragging his fingers through his hair.
"No it's not Nagisa...He just sat there, staring at me like I'd grown another head."
"Oh Makoto...I'm so sorry..."
"What am I going to do? This is Haru. I can't lose him."
"Well...what'd you say?"
"I...I told him how I felt...and...when he didn't respond, I booked it. I couldn't look at him anymore."
"I know. I screwed up."
"Well, you're just gonna have to wait until he responds Makoto. One way or the other."
Makoto groaned burying his face in his hands. It would have been better off if he'd kept his feelings for Haru a secret. He couldn't lose his best friend.
Haru was being quiet, actually had been so for some time. Not that being quiet was unlike Haru or anything. Haru was always quiet, he only spoke when he absolutely felt it was necessary. Normally that wouldn't bother Makoto. It didn't matter that Haru had barely said anything in the last two weeks aside from their usual morning greetings. That was also normal for him. No, what bothered Makoto was that this silence started right after Makoto kissed him. Makoto didn't know what had come over him. He wasn't planning on kissing Haru, he never planned on kissing him.
He knew Haru didn't feel the same way he did. He was pretty sure the only thing Haruka Nanase loved was water. Makoto couldn't take the silence though. He normally knew exactly what Haru was thinking, he could read every emotion behind those bright blue eyes. It was how they always communicated, but this time those emotions were hidden from him, unreadable.
They had gone through the motions of the day normal enough. Makoto had gone to pick Haru up for school, it was near the end of summer, so he didn't have to get Haru from the tub. After Haru cooked breakfast they walked to the college campus together. Normally Makoto would talk and Haru would comment on points he deemed necessary. However, over the last two weeks, Makoto spoke, and Haru remained silent. Aside from the morning greetings and farewells, Haru hadn't said anything to Makoto in two weeks. Makoto thought he was going to lose his mind.
Haru jumped, started, looking at Makoto, eyes narrowed at the nickname.
"What's wrong? It's been two weeks since you've spoken to me."
Haru's eyes showed surprise while the rest of his face remained impassive, it was as if he hadn't realized it'd been that long.
"You were thinking? What about?"
Haru tsked and looked away with a frown on his face. Anyone else would have thought he was angry, but Makoto could see he was simply frustrated.
"I.. I see,” Makoto said softly. “We can forget about it. I won't try to kiss you again...your friendship is too important to me."
"I just don't know if I liked it or not," Haru said softly, refusing to meet Makoto’s eyes.
Makoto blinked in surprise. His ears had to be deceiving him. There was no way in hell Haru could have enjoyed that kiss. He’d not spoken to him since it happened, and the look on his face afterwards had not given any indication that he’d enjoyed it.
"You don't know?"
Haru looked away a second time. Embarrassment. Makoto could see it clearly, and the smaller man was failing to hide his blush.
"It was my first kiss."
"B... but you're 19 years old Haru!"
"Lots of girls were interested in you." And some boys, Makoto thought, mind drifting back to Rin and their trip to Australia. Makoto had been sure Rin would make a move on Haru.
"I never much thought of dating or any of it. I didn't see the point in it. I still don't. That kind of stuff never meant much to me."
"I... I see."
Haru shrugged looking back at Makoto. This was an expression he couldn't read. He hated when he didn't know how Haru was feeling. It was so rare for Haru to speak his mind, the only way to know how he felt was to read his barely there expressions.
"I guess we could try it again? I mean, I don't know how I feel about it. I just didn't want to say anything until I knew for sure, but if it's bothering you that much..." Haru said with a shrug.
That was definitely Haru. He never said anything without knowing where he stood on the topic. He was never one to play both sides. But Makoto could tell he still wasn't sure where he stood on his feelings just yet. It warmed him to know he wasn't being rejected outright, but he had a sinking suspicion he knew why Haru was so indifferent to the kiss now. He had thought about it a lot, especially when everyone in their group was going on dates and talking about sex. Haru, he was dating the water. Water was always Haru's first love, and no one could understand just how he felt about the water and swimming.
"Haru, are you asexual? Is that why you never showed interest in dating or relationships?"
"I've never heard of that."
That didn't surprise Makoto. He hadn't heard of it until recently.
"Perhaps you should do some research Haru-chan."
"Perhaps you should drop the chan." Haru dead panned back and Makoto smiled glad Haru was returning to normal.
"I'm serious, I have a girl in one of my classes whose asexual. She says she's never felt sexually attracted to anyone. Even though she gets crushes on people, she never thinks about having sex with them or anything like that."
He wasn't exactly being honest. The only person he'd ever spoken to about asexuality was Nagisa, but he didn't want Haru to know he'd spoken to Nagisa about them. Haru nodded thoughtfully, eyes fixated on the sidewalk. He could see their conversation struck a chord with Haru, and as much as it pained him that Haru might never return his feelings, Haru's happiness came first. It was always that way between them. He always put Haru first, no matter what, not that Haru ever asked it of him. He wanted Haru to know he always accepted him and believed in him.
"Come on, we're skipping class."
"What?!" Haru cried, finally letting some emotion show in his voice.
"This talk is more important. Start walking or I'm going to leave you behind while you're talking," Makoto told him quoting something Haru used to say when they were younger on the run to school.
Makoto smirked walking down the sidewalk. It was nice, those rare moments when he was able to make Haru lose his cool and sputter on his words. Haru was so careful about what he said, that he tended to speak without emotion, those few moments that he did lose his calm were precious to Makoto.
Makoto didn't look behind him to see if Haru was following. He knew Haru wouldn't mind skipping class. They'd barely missed since starting school. Between Haru's scholarship and Makoto's intense course load, they barely had time to do anything but study. They needed a break from time to time.
Makoto lead him down the street to a cafe they often used to study. It was a quiet place once the morning rush was over. It was popular among the university students. However, most students were already in their classes, so Haru and Makoto would have the place to themselves for at least an hour or two. The woman behind the counter smiled at them as they walked in together.
"Nanase-san, Tachibana-san, good morning. Are you running late this morning?"
"Ah, our morning class was canceled..."
She smiles a bit at them looking toward the university through the window. It was evident on her face she didn't believe him.
"You don't have to lie dear. Did you two decide to skip in order to have a breakfast date?"
Haru walked away heading to their usual table near the window leaving Makoto to handle their order. It was their usual routine, though Haru normally was worn out by hours of swimming practice or at least that was his excuse.
"Ah, well, we're not...together like that..." Makoto said awkwardly looking over to Haru in his seat. Haru was looking out the window, looking bored as usual. Makoto knew he was instinctively looking in the direction of the closest body of water.
"Oh! I'm so sorry, it's just I never see you two apart, and the way you dote on him..."
"Don't worry about it." He said smiling a bit and then added quietly. "Believe me, it's not from lack of trying."
"Oh I see...well he is quite the handsome one, even if he doesn't speak..." she said giggling a bit.
"Oh, he speaks, when he thinks it matters. Can you get us our usual?"
Makoto paid for their coffees carrying them over to the table sitting across from Haru. As Haru took his cup, Makoto cleared his throat leaning back in his seat wondering how to start.
"I thought you wanted to talk?" Haru asked cautiously.
"I do.” Makoto said quietly. “I’m just not sure where to begin.”
Haru blew an irritated breath through his lips taking a sip of his coffee. It'd been awhile since Makoto had been the cause of such obvious annoyance. He hoped it wouldn't last.
"Fine," he said moving his chair closer to Makoto so he could look at the screen. "What did you want to talk about? I thought we covered it all already?”
Haru looked at him slowly before sitting back in his chair crossing his arms.
"It’s not like I’m going to come to a decision right this second is it? If after two weeks I’m not sure how I felt about the kiss, then what good would sitting down and talking do?" Makoto was surprised at how clear the annoyance was in Haru's voice.
"I... I just…” Makoto sighed closing his eyes. He’d made matters worse. He should have left well enough alone. After nearly two decades of friendship he should have really known better.
"Besides, it’s not like I’ve had much of a chance to consider things before. You're the only one who's ever shown interest in me."
"I...no way. "
"No one's said anything before."
"Not even Rin?"
"Why would he?"
"Because he was crazy about you Haru."
"Rin's not gay."
"Yeah, he is."
"Then why did he get upset when the hotel in Australia only gave us one bed? I had to tell him to shut up and go to sleep, or else he would have complained about it all night."
"You shared a bed in Australia?"
"We didn't have a choice, " Haru grumbled. "The lady at the front desk acted like it was our fault."
"I see...” Makoto said, fighting down the swell of jealousy that rose inside him. “Well believe me, Rin is interested in men."
"How do you know? Did he tell you?"
"He didn't have to. It was obvious. But...besides that, he and I..."
"You had sex with Rin?"
"No! No, definitely not. We, just made out a bit at the graduation party..." Makoto said awkwardly, this was not something he wanted to admit to Haru. He and Rin hadn't planned for it to happen and neither of them spoke of it since.
Makoto nodded trying to read Haru's expression. It was one he'd never seen before. His tone almost sounded jealous and even though Makoto knew he shouldn't be; he was happy about that. At least he was, until something crossed his mind. Was he jealous of Rin or Makoto?
"I shouldn't have outed him like that," Makoto said softly realizing what he'd just done to Rin. Despite the fact that they both had feelings for Haru, they'd remained good friends and Makoto didn't want to endanger that friendship.
"I'll pretend I didn't know."
Makoto sighed closing his computer. Instead of helping Haru like he'd planned, he'd just irritated him further.
"Thanks Haru, and... I’m sorry for being so pushy. I guess I got carried away. I just...you know how I am."
Haru nodded looking out the window sipping his coffee slowly. Makoto could practically see the gears turning in his head.
"I'm sorry too. At this point, it doesn't just affect me does it? You have feelings for me, which means you should know where I stand. But how could you, when I don't even know myself? So, I'll try and come up with an answer. A real one, okay?"
Makoto smiled widely at him, touching his hand gently.
"Thank you Haru-chan. That's all I ask."
"Drop the chan already Makoto."
Haru decides he needs to take more drastic measures to figure out his feelings for Makoto, and things don't go as planned.
A lot of my references to the boys' childhood actually come from the High Speed! novels that Free! is based on.
This chapter contains some rape/non-con elements to it. Please do not read any further if you are sensitive to this subject.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Haru sighed leaning back in the tub slowly. Normally the water helped clear his mind and helped him think, but as of lately, it hadn't been doing him any good. He climbed out of the water just as confused as he'd been when he climbed in, if not more so. He groaned running his fingers through his hair. Things shouldn't be this complicated, he tried to avoid things when they got complicated. He was fine with his life the way it was, until Makoto had to ruin it.
Things were going fine, Haru was enjoying his life in Tokyo. He spent every day dividing his time between the swim team, classes, and spending time with Makoto. To him, it was a perfect set up, and he didn't want things to change. Then Makoto had to ruin it all with that kiss. He hadn't even known Makoto was gay. How had he not known Makoto liked guys? They'd been friends since they were in diapers. Makoto had never shown an interest in other people before, except Rin apparently. That thought bothered Haru more than he thought it should. He didn't like the idea of Makoto kissing Rin the way he'd kissed him.
Haru had a problem and it revolved around that kiss, a kiss he wasn't even sure he liked. It'd been a week since he promised Makoto he would try to figure out where he stood on what happened between them, and he hadn't come any closer to a decision. he didn't understand why it was so difficult for him, when other people reacted to things with such ease. That was never the way he handled things, and Makoto knew it so Haru didn't understand why he had to go and throw things out of balance. He knew his thoughts were unfair to Makoto. It was obvious that even though he was content with the way things were, it wasn't enough for Makoto.
He hadn't been expecting Makoto to kiss him, but after it happened, he realized it explained a lot of Makoto's actions. Things had gotten awkward with them for a while, Makoto had been acting strangely and Haru didn't know why. Everyone commented on how Makoto always seemed to know what Haru was thinking, but what they didn't know was that it went both ways. Haru always knew what Makoto was feeling before he spoke up. But for a while there, Makoto was a mystery to him, and that made him more uncomfortable than he cared to admit. He'd thought nothing could get in the way of their connection, and the idea that he was wrong left him floundering.
Then Makoto finally told him what was going on. He'd come over to help Haru study for an exam and was still acting funny, so Haru confronted him about it, in the same direct way he'd confronted him about his fear of water when they were children. Makoto had just given him his trademark smile and shook his head. He admitted that Haru was right, he'd been hiding something. Haru had thought he was going to tell him what that something was, when instead Makoto just reached up and slid his hand over Haru's cheek before he leaned in and kissed him. Haru was stunned, he'd never been kissed before and never expected to be kissed. When Makoto pulled away he admitted that he was gay and that he'd had feelings for Haru for a while. Haru didn't know what to say, he was speechless. The only thing he could think to say was that he was okay with Makoto being gay. Makoto had excused himself embarrassed and probably a little heartbroken after a while.
Haru felt bad, but he didn't know how to respond. He'd never given a second thought to dating or relationships, he was fine with things the way they were. As long as Makoto was in his life, he was happy. He didn't need anything else to make his life complete.
He sighed climbing out of the tub drying getting dressed. He'd promised to give Makoto a real answer and he wanted to do so before they went home that weekend for the summer festival. They'd promised Nagisa and Rei they would come to visit, and he didn't want things to be awkward between them when they went home. He'd looked at the website Makoto had shown him, but he was no closer to an answer than he was before. He decided he needed to go out in the world and actively try and check people out. That was why the last two nights he'd been going to clubs for an hour or two. It was something he'd never done before, and he wanted to see if other people hitting on him sparked a reaction in him that Makoto hadn't.
Tonight was his first time going to a gay club. It was only a few blocks from his apartment. It was within walking distance, and he'd been disappointed with the other clubs. He'd been danced on, flirted with, and rubbed against and he'd felt nothing but annoyance. He wished he'd brought Makoto with him, but then what would be the point of the experiment?
He sighed pulling his shoes on and grabbing the keys to the apartment, locking up before walking down the street towards the club. The music was so loud he could hear it almost a block away. It was less jarring than the music at the other clubs though. He took a deep breath and walked into the club slowly looking around. He made his way to the bar slowly. He wasn't expecting the club to be so crowded on a Thursday night. There was barely room to move through the people. He ordered a drink before slowly moving around the room, taking in the crowd. He was taking a sip of his drink when he felt someone grab his hand pulling him onto the dance floor.
"You're looking far too lonely by yourself." He heard him say over the music.
"I... I don't dance!" He called over the music as the guy pulled him in close.
"Then why did you come out here?" The man said with a laugh.
Haru looked up at him considering his words. The guy was around Haru's age, with curly light brown hair that reminded Haru of Nagisa and he had dark brown eyes. He had a playful grin on his face that relaxed Haru a little, it almost reminded him of the smile Makoto always wore.
"My names Asuka."
Another girl name, Haru thought.
Asuka grinned pulling Haru into dance with him. Haru frowned a bit trying to keep up. He had never danced in his life. He had never learned. He may have been graceful in the water like everyone said, but he was not graceful on his feet. After probably the tenth time Haru stepped on his feet Asuka got the hint.
"You weren't lying." He said with a small laugh.
"It's fine," Asuka said grabbing him by the hand leading him of the dance floor.
Haru frowned at his back. He didn't like being pulled around like a dog on a leash. The only reason he didn't let go and tell Asuka to get lost was he didn't want to get lost in the sea of bodies. Asuka lead him to a seating area through a set of doors smiling towards him as Haru pulled his hand away.
"Sorry, just wanted to get you off the dance floor before you got trampled, or someone else tried to snatch you."
"Is this part of the club?"
"Yeah, it's a second bar. Is this your first time here?"
"So, why are you here?"
Haru shrugged looking at the table.
"Not much of a talker huh?"
"Not unless I have to be."
"So, do you have a boyfriend that's going to freak out that I drug you back here?"
"Good," Asuka said grinning.
Haru looked away feeling slightly annoyed. He would have walked away if he wasn't afraid he would get dragged onto the dance floor again.
"Look, sorry if I came on too strong. You just looked too cute standing there by the wall. And there are people more forward than I am."
"Thanks," Haru thought that was the right response, he wasn’t sure. Although he was beginning to feel a little more relaxed around the other man since he’d stopped flirting.
"No problem. So, why are you here?"
"Does it involve a man?"
Haru nodded slowly.
"It's always complicated. Let me guess, you're interested, he's not, so you're here to forget."
"No, actually...I'm not sure if I'm interested, and he's apparently very interested," Haru said. "Why the hell am I telling you this?"
"It's easier to talk to a stranger about these things than a friend that might judge you. Let me get us some drinks and tell me about this poor guy."
Haru frowned watching as Asuka walked away. He knew he should leave, but Asuka was right, it was easy to talk to him and he needed to talk to someone about what was going before he lost his mind. Asuka came back with two bottles of water and sat back down.
"So, what's this guy like?"
"Makoto...he's...well, he's my best friend. We've been friends since we were babies. We grew up right next to each other. We've never really been apart from each other. Makoto has always been there for me. Even after my parents moved away when I was a teenager." Haru said quietly. "We know each other better than most. I never have to say what I'm thinking, because he already knows. Though, I suppose it's the same for him. I usually know something is wrong before he says anything."
"Sounds like a great guy."
"So, what's so complicated about it? You two are obviously really close."
Haru frowned looking away. He wasn't sure what to say that. Of course he and Makoto were close, they'd always been close. Makoto was the only person Haru knew he could always count on no matter what. If he lost Makoto he didn't know what he would do. It would be more than devastating.
"It's pretty obvious you're in love with him."
"It's in the way your eyes lit up when you were talking about him. You should take a chance, even if you aren't sure about your feelings. The only way to know is if you try."
"But, what if we try and it doesn't work out?"
"Then I'm sure you two will figure it out. You've been friends this long right? And if it doesn't work out, give me a call," Asuka said slipping a piece of paper towards him.
Haru stared at him dumbfounded. Had the man been trying to pick him up this whole time?
"Don't worry, I won't be expecting your call. You and this guy of yours will sort everything out soon, I'm sure off it."
"Now, you should get outta here before more guys try to get ahold of you."
"Right...uh thanks for the talk."
"No problem, it was nice meeting you Haru." Asuka said with a smile walking back towards the doors leading to the dance floor.
Haru shoved the piece of paper with Asuka's number on it into his pocket and headed for the door. He wasn't going to call him. He knew that already, even without attempting a relationship with Makoto. Asuka was right about one thing though, he was going about things the wrong way, the only way to know for sure if he could be in a relationship with Makoto was to try. Hopefully their friendship was strong enough to last even if they don’t work out.
He walked down the street shoving his hands in his pockets. At this rate he would have plenty of time to pack tonight before they caught their train tomorrow evening. He was looking forward to going home. Tokyo was a lot different than where he grew up and he really did miss Nagisa and Rei even if Nagisa drove him nuts sometimes with his antics.
Haru turned the corner to head to his apartment when someone grabbed his arm. He yanked his arm back turning to whoever had bothered to grab him. There was two men standing behind him. The one that had grabbed Haru's arm was dark haired. They both were dressed in plain jeans and t-shirts and they seemed to be older than Haru. Whoever they were, the look on their faces was enough to creep Haru out.
“Don’t touch me!” He growled out.
“Aw, that’s no way to be pretty boy,” a voice said in his ear as he was shoved against a wall.
Haru looked up wincing at the pain. There were two men standing in front of him. He’d never seen them before. He wasn’t sure which one had grabbed ahold of him.
“Let me go.”
“Now why would we do that,” the one to the right said.
He was a blond haired man and Haru didn’t like the way he was looking at him. It made his body go cold. Haru kicked out at them, surprising them enough that he could make a break for it. His heart was pounding in his chest. He knew he needed to get away from these guys as fast as possible. He wished he'd taken the time to become a faster runner. He'd always been faster in the water than he was on ground. He’d only made it a couple of feet before he felt someone grab him from behind pulling him into the alley behind the club. Despite himself he let out a soft cry as they threw him to the ground.
“You shouldn’t have tried to run, but since you did...” Haru recognized that voice as the blond. He seemed to be the one calling the shots. He felt a sharp kick to his ribs before getting flipped over onto his back, the blond making sure his head banged against the concrete causing his vision to become distorted.
After that everything became a blur to Haru. The only thing his body and mind was able to register was the pain he was in. The two men were relentless in their attack. Every time Haru thought they had stopped, they started again. Just when Haru thought it couldn't get worse, he was proven wrong. Just before he blacked out he felt one of men holding him down while the other removed his belt. He was grateful when the darkness overtook him.
Haru's mind felt fuzzy when he woke up. It felt as if his mind were full of white noise. He couldn't remember ever being so disoriented. He was surrounded by noise as if his apartment was full of people.
"Makoto? ...what's going on?" He asked, throat feeling surprising raw, as he opened his eyes blinded by a bright light.
"Mr. Nanase? Good, you're up." He heard a woman's voice say.
Haru looked around slowly taking in the medical equipment around him. Weird, why was he in the hospital.
"Are you in any pain?"
His gaze finally landed on the nurse standing by the bed. She was a middle aged woman. Her red hair had streaks of gray through it, and her blue eyes seemed kind.
Pain, right, she wanted to know if he was in any pain. He shook his head no, actually, he felt quite numb except his throat, why was that?
"Good, the pain killers are working then. Your wounds looked worse than they were, though I don't think you'll be using that wrist for a while."
Wounds? He looked down at his wrist wondering what she meant and saw that it was wrapped up.
"It's just a bad sprain," she paused seeming to finally notice his confusion. "What do you remember about tonight?"
"I don't know, everything is a bit fuzzy."
"Let me go get the detective, she'll be about to explain everything better."
Detective, he wondered as she walked to the door speaking softly to someone just outside. A few seconds later a young brunette woman walked into the room. She was about Haru's height and was rather slim with gray eyes. Her hair was pulled up, and her facial expression gave Haru the impression she'd been up all night.
"Mr. Nanase, I'm detective Hashimoto, I'm the one assigned to your case."
"Case?" Was he dreaming, none of this made sense.
"Yes," she said sitting in the chair beside his bed. "You were found a few hours ago in the alley behind the nightclub Attitudes. Do you remember going there?”
Haru thought back, trying to remember why that name meant something to him. That's right, he wanted to go to come up with an answer for Makoto. He'd danced, poorly, with some other guy. He'd left soon after getting there....and then pain...a lot of pain...Haru gasped opening his eyes.
"Mr. Nanase? Do you remember now?"
"A... a little...it's all a blur..." he said softly.
"I'm not surprised. Between the pain killers and the concussion..." she said quietly looking at him. "One of the cooks at the club found you in the alley way and called an ambulance. The doctors called the police when they realized the exact nature of your injuries."
"You mean...the./." Haru couldn't get the words out but the detective seemed to understand.
"Yes Mr. Nanase."
"Is Makoto here?" He suddenly blurted out. He knew it was a shot in the dark, but Makoto always seemed to know when he needed him, and he thought he had him as an emergency contact.
"Was he at the club with you? When you were found there wasn't a cellphone on you. All that was found was this number." She said holding up Asuka's number.
He groaned softly.
"You didn't call it did you?"
"I'm afraid we had to for questioning Mr. Nanase. We had to know when you were last seen, and who you saw. All we had to go on was your I.D."
"Can I go home?"
Haru was horrified. He didn't want to speak with this woman. He didn't want her to ask questions that would make him remember what had happened. She sighed putting her notebook down.
"My boss will have my ass for this but... I suppose questioning you in your state won't do any good. I'll take you home."
Haru frowned standing up slowly swaying a bit on his feet. The detective caught him quickly.
"Slowly! Let's get you discharged."
"What the hell do they have me on? Coach is going to have my ass."
"Coach? You're an athlete?"
"At Tokyo U?"
"My boyfriend is on that team. You have a meet after break week don't you?"
"Not me I suppose," he said softly.
She fell silent after that helping Haru get to the main desk to be discharged. Haru tuned everything out after that. He felt like he was sleepwalking still locked in a nightmare. He was glad she didn't try to talk during the drive. Haru just quietly pointed out the directions to his apartment. She looked at him quietly after helping him walk to his door.
"I'll be back this afternoon Mr. Nanase. We'll make sure to find these guys."
Haru looked at her before walking inside shutting the door. He just wanted her to disappear. He didn't want to talk about what happened, he didn't want remember the details. He just wanted to wake up from his nightmare. Slowly he made his way to the tub stripping out of his clothes before climbing in turning the water on. He’d felt as if water had healing properties his whole life. At that moment he really needed that to be true.
I'm sorry! I really am. I promise, things get better. And no, I do not hate Haruka! Please don't hate me. And please, leave feedback, whether good or bad.
Makoto goes to check on Haru after not hearing from him all day and is horrified by what he finds.
I hope the MakoHaru fluff in this chapter makes up for the violence in the last chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Makoto stood in front of his computer packing a small duffel bag for the trip home for the weeklong holiday. It was far too early to be doing anything productive on a day he had class, but he had to get up early to Skype Nagisa anyway, so he decided to pack.
"What time is your train arriving again?" Nagisa asked for the millionth time.
"Haru and I will be back in Iwatobi at six."
Makoto laughed watching Nagisa run around the room excited. He finally conceded to a video call with Nagisa, and within five minutes he realized he missed the boy’s antics. Nagisa's energy was really infectious. It always had been.
"Did I tell you Rin-chan is coming back too?"
"No..no you didn't..." Makoto said softly.
He wasn't sure how Haru would act around Rin now that he knew Rin was gay. Would he start to look at him differently? Would he develop feelings for him?
"Are you worried about him and Haru-chan?"
"Haru will choose to be with who he wants. Whether it's me, Rin, a woman, or no one at all."
"So, you're not jealous of Rin-chan?"
"Oh, I'll be jealous as hell if Haru realizes he has feelings for Rin, but all I want is for Haru to be happy."
"Awe! Makoto! Haru is lucky you love him so much..."
"So, how is Haru-chan?"
Makoto frowned slightly.
"I don't know; he hasn't returned my calls. I've been trying to reach him since last night."
"Do you think it's about the kiss?"
"No, we settled that. And don't let him know I told you about that. He'd be mortified."
The night Makoto had kissed Haru, he'd run home and called Nagisa in a panic. He'd been sure he screwed up everything with his best friend, and despite his childish antics, Nagisa was really good at calming other people's fears. He cared deeply for his friends' happiness.
"I won't Makoto, but if you guys got passed that, why do you look so worried? Did he say he isn't interested?"
"No... I’m still unsure about that. We did talk about the possibility of him being asexual though..."
"I told you, he's not asexual, he's hydro-sexual."
Makoto laughed softly, it was a ridiculous label, but one that definitely suited Haru.
"I showed him that website, he thinks I got it from a girl in my class...have you spoken to Rei about things since he told you? "
"No....Rei and I wouldn't work out." Nagisa voice sounded small. Makoto hadn't heard him sound like that since he ran away from home.
"Because he's asexual?"
"Definitely not. I can live without sex. I think Rei is aromantic. He always says how illogical love is, and how he'd never be interested in it."
"I'm sorry Nagisa."
"I'll live...okay, what gives? That is the millionth time you've looked at your phone."
"I just, I have this really strong feeling that something is wrong. That's why I've been trying to call him."
"Maybe you should check on him."
"You're right, have a good day Nagisa," Makoto said with a smile.
"You too Mako-chan."
Makoto sighed shutting his computer down. He glanced at his cell phone sighing, seeing that Haru still hadn't at least returned his texts. He hadn't been able to shake the feeling that something was wrong with Haru all night. He grabbed the duffel bag with the things he was taking home and headed for the door. He hadn't packed much. Mostly just his swimming trunks and bathing necessities. He still had clothes at home.
He locked the apartment behind him and practically jogged to Haru's apartment. If he was wrong and everything was okay, he could always help him pack for the trip home. He knocked on Haru's door as usual before stepping inside.
The lights were all off as if Haru was in bed, but Makoto knew no matter how hard he tried he couldn't sleep past eight in the morning. He stepped through the apartment slowly glancing in Haru's bedroom.
He frowned seeing Haru's bed perfectly made. Haru wouldn't have left his door unlocked if he wasn't home. That meant the boy was in the tub, but Haru didn't take cold baths during the swimming season. He slowly walked towards the bathroom, pausing when he heard noise on through the door. Haru was crying, no he was sobbing. The sound of Haru crying tore Makoto's heart into shreds. He swallowed slowly stepping into the bathroom.
"Haru-ch..." Makoto's words died in his throat as he took in the sight in front of him.
Haru was sitting in the tub with his knees drawn up to his chest, face buried in his arms, his back shaking with his sobs. His body was covered with cuts and bruises. He looked as if he'd been run over by a car. The water was turning pink from the wounds. Haru must have been in the tub for hours, long enough for his wounds to open and start bleeding. When Haru turned to him Makoto saw his face wasn't spared any of the damage. His lip was split open, and his cheek was puffy and bruised. His forehead had a long scrape across it. His right wrist was wrapped up and Makoto guessed it was at least sprained.
"Haru..." Makoto said softly walking to the tub.
"Makoto...," whatever Haru was going to say was forgotten as his tears started up again and he turned his head from Makoto to hide them.
Makoto made a split second decision and undressed quickly, slipping on his swimming trunks. He needed to be near Haru, he needed to show him that he was there for him. He needed to comfort him somehow. Haru didn't show any signs of wanting to get out of the tub and makoto was sure he knew the reason. Ever since they were small children Haru felt water had healing properties in it. Whenever he was sick or injured, instead of going to the doctor or taking medicine Haru would go swimming. As much as he admired Haru's affinity for water, Makoto knew his cuts and scrapes weren't going to doctor themselves. Haru seemed to have forgotten he was there, or just didn't care, either way he turned quickly when Makoto slipped into the tub behind him.
"Sh, it's okay, it's just me Haru, what happened?" He said softly pulling Haru into his arms.
He ignored Haru's nakedness. Any other time he would have sputtered apologies and ran from the room as red as could be, but today was not the day to worry about such things. It destroyed him to see his friend so vulnerable. His friend needed him and he was going to be there for him in the only was he could be. He pulled Haru into his lap stretching his legs out in the tub ignoring the cold water for the moment. He didn't want to startle Haru anymore that he had already. Slowly the tension in Haru's shoulders relaxed and he pressed his cheek into Makoto's chest, a few seconds later Makoto felt a wetness on his chest that had nothing to do with being in the tub. He couldn't remember ever seeing Haru cry. He never wanted to see it again.
"I'm here, I should have come sooner, but I couldn't reach you. Something told me you needed me."
"Thank you Makoto..." Haru's voice sounded tired, as if merely talking exhausted him.
"I…went to a club last night. I thought it might help me, make a decision, if I changed the way I thought about things, like I did with swimming...I wasn't there very long. It was obvious that I made a mistake.... I was jumped by...by two men after I left the club, " Haru's voice was getting quieter with every second but the words felt like they were being branded into Makoto's skull. "They drug me into the alleyway, I don't remember it all, but the beating felt like it lasted hours, and then they...they...they took turns..."
Makoto's blood ran cold as he held Haru in his arms. They'd hurt his Haru, the man he loved, the man his world had revolved around since before he could walk, and he'd done nothing to protect him. He'd just sat in his apartment pouting because Haru didn't answer his call. Makoto shook himself out of his thoughts slowly leaning forward turning on the warm water, opening the drain.
"Come on Haru, we have to get your wounds clean." He said softly, pressing a gentle kiss to his forehead, despite his best efforts to resist.
"I... you shouldn't be in here with me. It's embarrassing," even though he said embarrassing, Makoto heard the tremor in his voice. Haru was scared.
"It's too late for that Haru. Besides, we used to bathe together as children, and you’re in no shape to do it on your own. Your right hand is useless to you at the moment and you can barely function. Just let the water work it's magic while I make sure the worst of your wounds are clean. I promise, I'll be a gentleman Haru, you can trust me, always."
Haru frowned unhappily but did not resist as Makoto began washing him gently. He focused on washing the upper half of Haru's body. The lower half would have to wait until Haru was alone. He didn't want to scare Haru when he was already uncomfortable. He frowned as he began washing Haru's hair, feeling blood caked in it.
"My head was slammed into the ground more than once...." Haru said, answering the unasked question. Makoto did not like how hollow his voice sounded. "They would do it any time I struggled. It kept me disoriented. It's probably why I have memory gaps."
"Haru..." Makoto said softly, pressing his face into Haru's back tears filling his eyes.
"M…Makoto...why, why are you crying?"
"I'm crying for you.... I’m crying because I wasn't there for you when you needed me, I'm crying because those bastards did this to you..."
Haru fell silent after that letting Makoto take some time to compose himself. When he finally did, he finished washing Haru's hair, and climbed out the tub slowly.
"Thank you for wearing your trunks..." Haru said awkwardly looking up.
"Well we're not exactly on those terms are we?" Makoto tried to joke and a ghost of a smile crossed Haru's face.
Makoto held out his hand to help Haru out of the tub, glancing away to give him some privacy, holding out a towel in his other hand. Haru took it quietly and Makoto walked out the room with his clothes to get dressed again. Haru walked out the bathroom in a pair of sweats as Makoto buttoned his shirt.
"Is that a hospital bracelet?"
"Hmm, yeah...I woke up in the E.R. The police brought me home about..." he looked at the clock. "Three hours ago?"
"So you've been in the tub since?"
Makoto let out a sigh walking towards him.
"Let's get some of these cuts wrapped up." He said softly taking in the worst of Haru's wounds.
"Your hands are shaking."
"Because I'm pissed off, and I don't know who the hell these guys were so I can make them pay for what they did."
Haru looked at him with his mouth hanging open. He hadn't expected Makoto to say something like that. Makoto used his shock to get Haru to sit down so he could bandage the worst of his wounds. Haru could feel his eyes growing heavy as he sat there. He guessed it was from the painkillers the hospital had given him. He definitely didn't feel like sleeping, but his body wasn't giving him the choice.
"Okay, you need to sleep," Makoto said looking at him, his green eyes shining a bit.
Haru nodded sleepily, there was no point in arguing. His body could barely function. He slid under the covers slowly, his eyes drifting shut on him. Makoto watched him quietly, getting up to go into the living room so Haru could have some peace. He paused confused when Haru grabbed his hand.
"Will you stay with me...," Haru felt mortified asking but Makoto made him feel calm. He felt like he needed him near. It was selfish of him and he hoped Makoto would forgive him for it later, but right now he needed Makoto to be there.
"As long as you need me to," Makoto said softly.
Haru blushed at the sincerity in his voice. Haru felt like he heard an unspoken "even if it takes forever" but he was fairly certain that was the drugs talking.
Makoto smiled sliding under the covers with Haru slowly pulling him close. They'd shared a bed many times in their life, but not since Makoto realized how deep his feelings were for Haru, and they never cuddled like this. Makoto was afraid he was pushing Haru too far, but Haru just sighed burying his face into Makoto's chest. He was asleep in moments. Makoto reached up playing with Haru's hair, a small smile on his face. He was horrified at what had happened to Haru, and would do everything in his power to help him get through it, but he was grateful for the chance to hold Haru in his arms. He was slowly lulled to sleep by the warmth and the sound of Haru's breathing.
When Makoto woke up a few hours later, tangled up in Haru's arms he was more than a little confused. It took him a moment to remember the chain of events that led to one of his lifelong dreams coming true. The heart that had been full of joy when he woke up, split in two as he looked down at his sleeping friend. As the last traces of sleep drained from his body, he slowly disentangled himself from Haru and slid of the bed quietly to keep from disturbing him.
He quietly stepped out of the room sending a quick text to Nagisa letting him know he and Haru might miss their train because Haru wasn't feeling well. After putting his phone away, he slowly headed for the bathroom picking up Haru's ruined clothes from the night before. He really didn't want Haru to see them. The last thing he needed was another reminder of that hell.
He was still trying to cope with the fact that someone had intentionally harmed Haru. In Iwatobi everyone loved Haru, despite how distant he was. They didn't think anything of his dry humor and short answers. He couldn't understand why someone would want to hurt him. He was distracted from his thoughts when he heard a knock on the door. He put the trash bag down walking to the door opening slowly. Standing in the doorway was a young woman with long brunette hair hanging down her shoulders. She was dressed in a business suit and Makoto was confused until he saw the badge on her jacket.
"Hello, I'm Detective Hashimoto, looking for Haruka Nanase?"
"He's asleep right now."
"No I'm not Makoto."
Makoto turned quickly, seeing Haru in the doorway of his bedroom.
"Haru! You should be asleep."
"That's not going to happen now that the pain pills wore off."
Makoto frowned walking over to him slowly. He could see that Haru was trembling slightly and Makoto didn't know if it was from fear or pain.
"At least let me help you," he said, a pleading tone in his voice, green eyes shining with emotion.
Makoto slipped an arm around his waist being mindful of the bruise he saw on his ribs earlier. He walked over to the sofa with him helping him settle into it, pulling a blanket over him.
"I really hate to do this Mr. Nanase, but I really need to get your statement."
"I'll give you two some privacy." Makoto said quietly turning to walk towards Haru's room. Haru turned to him quickly. He couldn't do this without Makoto at his side.
"Please...stay," Haru said, for the second time that day, blue eyes shimmering with tears.
Makoto didn't have to think even for a second. He sat down beside Haru putting his on his gently. The detective pulled out her cell phone turning on the recorder.
"It's easier to record it instead of writing it down. Okay, so Mr. Kimura says you left the club at about 10 pm..." she started.
"The man who gave you his number."
"Right, Asuka," he nodded.
"So, you were grabbed just after leaving the club?"
"Yes, I left through the south entrance to avoid the dance floor, so I had to double around, and as I did so someone grabbed my arm," even though Haru's voice started strong, it now began to falter. "I pulled back and let them know I wanted to be left alone. Th..they shoved me into the wall, and I kicked at them so I could get away, and I tried to run, but I've always been a slow runner..."
Haru stopped to take a breath. He was trying to talk as fast as possible to just get it out, so he could stop reliving it. His heart was pounding in his chest at the thought of that alleyway. He looked over at Makoto beside him and felt himself relax a bit. Makoto was being strong for him, even though his heart was breaking for Haru. The pain barely hidden in those green eyes, he was giving Haru the strength to continue, with just a small squeeze of that hand in his. Haru had never had to count on anyone before. People always depended on him, and he didn't like being vulnerable, but for the moment he would accept the strength Makoto was giving.
"They caught up with me quickly, and drug me into the alley...I was thrown to the ground face first, and they held me still by my hair...at one point the blond, one was blond, the other had hair close to my color, the blond was in charge. He flipped me over and banged my head against the concrete, and the other kicked me in the ribs I think. After they went bezerk. They kept saying I was going to pay for trying to run. It was only after they did all this," Haru said gesturing to his wounds. "That I felt my pants off. Th… they took turns, one held me down while the other… Well, you saw the hospital report."
"Yes," she nodded stopping the recording. "I wish I hadn't needed to do that. Now, you wish to press charges right?"
"I…" he hesitated looking at Makoto.
"Do you Haru-chan?"
Haru bit his lip as Makoto's soft question washed over him. Did he want to press charges? Could he survive telling his story in a court room full of people?
"Yes," he said softly.
"You were too incoherent last night, but...the men who attacked you have done this before. I was assigned to another case like this last month. I promise you, I'll stop at nothing to catch them."
"I leave town for a week starting today. Will that be a problem?"
"You still want to go home?"
"I need to go home. I need to get away from this city."
"It won't be a problem. If I need you I'll call. And I'll come to you if necessary."
"When you get back I'll have you sign the necessary documents. I've caused you enough pain Mr. Nanase. I'll leave now."
Haru stood slowly walking to the door. He felt bad for the negative feelings he had of her earlier that morning.
"Have a good day," he said softly.
"Thank you," she said slipping out the door.
Haru shut the door slowly, leaning on it for a brief moment. He couldn't stop the trembling in his body. Reliving the events of the night before to her had caused him more pain than it had when he told Makoto. He'd hoped the second time would be less painful. He took a shaking breath trying to calm down when he felt those gentle hands on his shoulders. There was a strength in Makoto's hands that was neither destructive or forceful. There had been ever since they were children. Haru could never figure out where that strength came from.
"I told you, I'm here for as long as you need. You are not alone Haru. You'll never be alone."
"Makoto..." whatever Haru was going to say died in his throat when Makoto pulled him into his arms holding him. He closed his eyes soaking in Makoto's nearness. Having Makoto near didn't cause the pain to go away, but somehow it gave him the will to keep moving.
"Come on, if you want to make it to our train, we gotta get going."
"Right," Haru said quietly stepping back as Makoto slid his hand over Haru's cheek lightly. "Let me get my bag."
"Okay Haru-chan." Makoto was hoping for the usual sass but Haru just nodded and walked towards the bedroom.
I love Makoto, and I think he's beautiful in this chapter. I'll update soon. I can't stop writing this.
I'm so sorry for the wait! I should be able to update again before the end of the week! Enjoy!
The train ride to Iwatobi was miserable. Haru refused to take his pain medicine before getting on the train. He was afraid it would make him too drowsy to during the train ride. So instead he sat in the carriage looking out the window trying to take his mind off the pain. Makoto was watching him nervously; he could see Haru trembling. He knew it wasn't from fear, he would have seen that in Haru's eyes. He knew Haru was in a terrible amount of pain and it worried him.
"As soon as we get to your home you're taking that medicine."
Haru simply nodded and went back to gazing out the window.
"I know this is a stupid question but....do you want to talk about it?" Makoto asked touching Haru's hand lightly.
Haru looked down at their hands slowly before looking back at Makoto. Makoto hated looking at what those mean had done to Haru. The physical wounds were bad enough, but he could hardly look in Haru's eyes. Those beautiful bright blue eyes had become dull and clouded. He wanted to bring life back to those eyes.
"I don't know," Haru admitted becoming fixated on the way Makoto had locked their fingers together.
"You know I'm always here Haru," Makoto reminded him softly pulling him towards him gently.
Haru leaned into him as Makoto wrapped his arms around him gently. He needed the warmth and calm that Makoto's embrace gave him.
"I... I asked for you...when I woke up," Haru admitted quietly.
"At the hospital. I woke up confused, disoriented. I didn't remember what happened and I wanted to to be there."
"Haru....I should have been. I knew something was wrong. I felt that you needed me and I kept calling you."
"My phone was on my nightstand."
"Oh Haru," Makoto said with a soft laugh. "You and that phone..."
"I never wanted one to begin with. My parents just wanted me to have one when they moved out. It's not like they ever call anyway."
Makoto winced at the bitterness in Haru's voice. He was one of the few people who knew how much Haru's parents leaving him had affected him.
"At least carry it on you so I can reach you."
"I'll try Makoto."
"Thank you," Makoto said softly. "I should have been there though. I should have been by your side."
"It's not your fault," Haru said softly burying his face in Makoto's chest.
For the hundredth time that day tears were filling his eyes. No matter what he did he couldn't stop them. He felt Makoto's fingers sliding through his hair and a kiss pressed to the top of his head. Part of him felt like he should push Makoto away, scared he was giving him the wrong impression, another part of him wanted Makoto to keep up these familiar touches. For some reason Makoto calmed him, distracted him from the memory of that alley, the memory of their hands and the things they did. He sighed softly closing his eyes.
Makoto looked down at Haru slowly rubbing his back gently. He hated seeing Haru so weak. The smaller boy was so independent and rarely depended on others for anything. Under normal circumstances he would have been mortified to let Makoto hold him like this. But these weren't normal circumstances and Makoto was more than willing to be Haru's rock. Whenever Haru felt strong enough to stand on his own he'd back off without a fight, but for now he'd take care of Haru as much as possible.
By time they reached Iwatobi Haru was practically asleep. Makoto was secretly glad Haru had skipped his pain medication or else he'd be carrying him off the train. Ss it was he was practically holding Haru up as they stepped onto the platform.
"Mako-chan! Haru-chan!" Makoto turned to see Nagisa running towards them.
Makoto wondered worriedly if Nagisa was planning to pounce Haru like he enjoyed doing when a hand reached out gripping Nagisa's shoulder.
"Nagisa, look at haruka-senpai. I don't think he's up for your energy today."
Makoto sighed gratefully at Rei's interception while Nagisa pouted turning to Haru. His expression turned serious when he finally took in Haru's injuries.
"He was mugged," Makoto said cutting Haru off.
"That's awful...are you going to be okay?" Rei asked eyeing him slowly.
Haru gave a wordless shrug gazing at the ground.
"Well Rei-chan and I have your house clean and full of food! We were so happy you were coming home!"
Haru barely had time to look up before Nagisa was hugging him tightly. His eyes went wide as his bag fell from his hand. He tried to tell himself it was okay, but he found it suddenly hard to breath. The train station was beginning to spin around him and his heart felt like it was beating out of his chest.
Haru could feel Nagisa being pried away from him slowly and then green eyes met his, full of concern.
"It's okay Haru, I'm right here. Breath slowly," Makoto said softly touching his hand gently.
"It's okay, take a moment to relax and we'll get you home. Nagisa was just happy to see you. He didn't mean any harm."
Haru nodded slowly trying to focus on breathing. He hated himself for panicking. It was just a simple hug; he should have been able to handle it. Nagisa hugged him like that all the time. He looked back down clenching his fists to hide the way his hands were trembling. He would've been horrified by the tears he felt on his cheeks had he not just made a fool of himself.
"Come on Haru-chan, let's get home," Makoto said softly putting his arm around his shoulders pulling him a bit closer.
Haru nodded before turning to Nagisa slowly.
"I'm sorry Nagisa. I'm happy to see you too."
Nagisa looked at him concerned for a moment before flashing a big smile.
"Rin-chan is meeting us at your place too! His plane got back an hour ago!"
Haru wasn't sure, but he thought he heard Makoto groan at that.
Haru attempted to head for the kitchen as soon as the group got to his house, but Makoto forced him to sit down on his couch.
"But, I'm sure they're hungry."
"I do know how to cook Haru. Living on my own taught me that at least. You need rest. You're in so much pain you're shaking. You have been since we left Tokyo."
Haru frowned taking his painkillers out of his bag grabbing the bottle of water Makoto held out to him.
"And you need to call the hospital about your blood tests," Makoto said more gently.
"How did you...."
"I saw the paperwork on your table while you were packing."
Haru swallowed his painkillers quietly refusing to look Makoto in the eyes. He didn't want Makoto to know the humiliation he was feeling at the moment. Makoto just leaned down kissing his forehead gently before walking into the kitchen.
"Are you and Mako-chan a couple?" Haru heard Nagisa ask excitedly.
"But he's acting like it."
Haru blushed a bit fumbling to pull his cell phone out. He really should tell Makoto to stop acting so familiar.
"He's been acting like that since this morning, when he found out about the... mugging."
"He was really worried about you Haru-chan. He felt like something bad happened to you."
Haru nodded slowly before dialing the hospital in Tokyo walking out the room. Makoto was in the middle of cooking Haru a piece of Mackerel for dinner, thankful Nagisa thought to buy some for him, when he heard something hit the wall. He looked up quickly turning the stove off, the sound came from Haru's room.
"Haru?!" He called out hurrying from the kitchen.
Nagisa and Rei were standing up startled looking towards the noise. Makoto ran to Haru's room finding him sitting on his bed sobbing.
"Haru, what is it?" He asked softly kneeling in front of him. "Is..is it the blood tests?"
"No...I..I'm just over reacting. Sorry."
"What do you mean?"
"The tests came back negative.... it’s just...I have to be retested in a few months for..."
"For HIV, yeah...it's okay Haru," Makoto said with a gentle smile reaching up to wipe away Haru's tears. "You'll be fine."
Haru looked down at him slowly calming down. He knew he'd been over reacting, but hearing those words from the doctor had terrified him. Makoto touched his cheek lightly, seeing a small bit of life come back into those blue eyes. He relaxed slowly, glad to see Haru begin to relax again.
"Come on, before Nagisa and Rei freak out." He said softly taking Haru's hands in his pulling him to his feet.
Haru stood slowly wrapping his arms around Makoto hugging him slowly.
"Thank you Makoto. I know it must be exhausting, me acting like this. I'm trying to get my emotions under control."
"Don't you dare apologize Haru. You act however you need to act." Makoto said looking down at him intensely. "Scream, throw things, cry, do anything you need to deal with this. I can handle it."
Haru looked up at him slowly, his cheeks slowly flushing before he nodded.
Makoto flashed a smile walking out the bedroom slipping his hand into Haru's. Haru gave his hand a squeeze following him.
"Everything okay?" Nagisa asked as soon as they walked back into the living room.
"Yeah...I just over reacted," Haru said softly.
"Haru? What the hell happened?!"
Haru jumped turning slightly. Rin was sitting on the couch next to Rei. He was staring at Haru in shock, eyes slowly taking in the wounds. Haru realized he must have shown up while he was talking to Makoto.
"Makoto said Haru was mugged last night."
"It wasn't a mugging," Haru said sitting down.
He didn't want to do it, but he needed to tell them. These were the people he would want at his side if they caught them men who attacked him. They were his family. He felt Makoto sit beside him offering him some silent support.
"Makoto said that to protect me. I wasn't mugged last night. I... two men caught me outside a club in Tokyo. They...they raped me," he said softly, shivering a bit at using the word the first time.
Nagisa and Rei's words were cut off when Rin's hands slammed into the table. The red head was shaking with anger. Haru flinched at the noise and sunk back into the couch as Rin leaned in a bit.
"Did they catch the sick bastards who did this?! Are they looking?! What did they look like Haru, I'll..."
"You're scaring him!"
Rin paused looking at Haru who was staring up at him wide eyed trembling. He was clinging to Makoto as if he were a lifeline, and Makoto was looking at Rin as if he were ready to run him over with a car. Rin took a deep breath walking around the table slowly keeping his eyes on Haru, who moved closer to Makoto. Rin stopped before he reached Haru, kneeling a bit to look him in the eyes.
"Haru, I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to lose my temper. I just hate that someone did this to you. You are the last person on earth that deserved this."
Haru nodded slowly as Makoto wrapped an arm around him. Rin paused, seeing Haru's trembling lessen at the gesture.
"Haru-chan, are you okay?" Nagisa asked softly.
"I... I’m going to go lay down." He said softly. "Stay and eat, you guys planned a reunion.... I’m just not up for it right now."
"It's fine Makoto...those pills just make me really sleepy."
Makoto sighed watching Haru walk out the room worried before turning to Rin slowly. Rin flinched at the look on his face.
"I really screwed up. I shouldn't have been so angry. Just..."
"It's not your fault Rin-chan."
"No, Nagisa's right." Rin looked at Rei surprised. "Haruka-senpai is going to react to everything differently. A hug from Nagisa nearly gave him a panic attack."
"So why is it okay for Mako-chan to hug him and kiss his forehead and everything," Nagisa asked softly.
"Makoto makes him feel safe. Gou was the same way." Rin said softly.
"Gou? What do you mean?" Rei asked slowly.
"Last fall...Gou went to see my old captain Seijuro at a swim meet. While there, one of the competitors pulled her into the locker room and... raped her," he said, his hands clenching into fists. "Seijuro found her. For weeks she clung to him."
"Is Gou okay?!" Makoto exclaimed softly.
"After some counseling she's doing better. She's staying with Seijuro in Kyoto. They're getting married."
"I... I see."
"Go to him Makoto. He needs you right now. He stopped shaking when you were near," Rin said softly. "We'll have our reunion tomorrow. I'll have a better reign on my emotions. Let him know I'm sorry. And we're all here for him. None of us think any less of him for what happened."
Makoto stood slowly putting his hand on Rin's shoulder.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I'll be fine."
"Please take care of Haru-chan," Nagisa asked softly looking up at Makoto.
"Of course Nagisa."
"We'll meet tomorrow at the swim club. The pool should help," Rei said pulling Nagisa towards the door.
Makoto watched the three of them walk out the front door before stepping into Haru's room. Haru was huddled under the sheets, the blanket pulled over his head. Makoto slipped his shoes off, climbing in with him slowly. He knew Haru wasn't asleep yet. Haru peeked over the covers as Makoto pulled him into his arms.
"Everyone left. They want to go swimming tomorrow."
"A pool sounds nice," he said softly burying his face in Makoto's neck.
Makoto smiled slowly running his fingers Haru's hair. He heard Haru sigh softly and he kept it up feeling him begin to relax.
"I ruined our day."
"No one blames you Haru, and it wasn't ruined. We'll have fun tomorrow. After that train ride I wasn't ready to deal with Nagisa anyway."
Haru's chuckle came out as a soft breath Makoto felt against his cheek. He began rubbing Haru's back softly. He hoped Rin was right and his being here was helping Haru somehow. Although it was obvious Haru was more calm when Makoto was around.
"Can you stay Makoto. I promise tomorrow I'll try to be stronger on my own so you can see Ren and Ran. But, can you stay tonight?"
"Scoot over, make room for me."
Haru blinked at Makoto's instant answer and blushed making more room for him in the bed. He didn't deserve Makoto's patience. Makoto always seemed to be sacrificing things for Haru's sake, when Haru never needed to make sacrifices of his own. Part of him felt as if Makoto deserved better than him.
Haru was distracted from his thoughts when he felt Makoto's strong arms wrap around him pulling him into his chest.
"Is this okay?" Makoto asked softly.
"Good, get some sleep Haru-chan. We'll go to the swim club first thing in the morning."
Haru's eyes drifted closed slowly, relaxing into Makoto beginning to fall asleep.
Sorry about the wait. I was having trouble with this chapter and I'm still not happy but, here it is.
Haru sat at the edge of the Iwatobi Swim Club pool, dangling his legs in the water. He'd forgotten when he said he'd like to go to the pool that he'd have trouble swimming. Instead of having fun, being this close to the water and not actually being able to swim was torture. The rest of the guys were in the pool playing around and he was stuck sitting on the edge of the pool. Granted it was better than being stuck in the house.
He watched as Makoto came up for air with a laugh, shaking water from his hair after being dunked by Nagisa. A slight smile came to his face as he took in the joy in Makoto's eyes, and his stomach flipped a bit as Makoto turned that gaze on him. He paused confused, he'd never felt something like that before. He felt a bit of warmth come to his cheeks as Makoto grinned, swimming to him.
"What are you doing?!" He cried out as he felt Makoto pick him up.
"Well, you can't exactly swim, but we know you Haru, you're a mermaid...uh merman... sorry," he looked away from the ice in Haru's gaze. "You belong in the water, so hang on to me."
Nagisa laughed splashing them as Makoto pulled Haru into the water.
"Admit it Haru, you need this."
"Thank you." He finished softly.
Makoto looked at him surprised before smiling slowly.
Haru smiled slowly feeling himself slip into the water. No one else would have understood his need to be in the water, especially this water. No one else would have realized the water in Iwatobi did more to heal his spirit than the water in Tokyo. Iwatobi was his home, no matter how far away he went.
"Makoto...I was wondering..."
"When we get back to Tokyo...is there, can we look for an apartment to share?" He was feeling flustered and he hated it. He took a moment to gather his thoughts before speaking again. "I was thinking about it before this. Tokyo, it's different from Iwatobi. There are so many people, and yet, everyone seems so alone. I just think I would enjoy the city more if I wasn't alone. Here, even after my parents moved out, you were just a few steps away. But in Tokyo, it's a new city, new home, I'm alone again, and it takes longer to reach you."
Makoto was floored by Haru's words. He'd felt it too. The isolation in a large city like Tokyo. He and Haru didn't even go to the same school but he forced himself to leave for school an hour sooner than necessary so he could feel as if their old routine had never changed. He walked with Haru to class and then went on to his own university. If it wasn't for Haru being there, he wasn't sure he would have lasted in Tokyo.
"That sounds like a great idea," he finally said.
Haru smiled a bit and Makoto wasn't sure, but he thought he detected the faintest blush on his cheeks.
"I'm thinking about going to see the University counselor when we get back." He admitted softly. "I can't keep depending on you to rescue me when I feel uncomfortable."
"I don't mind it."
"I do. I hate feeling weak."
"I know Haru-chan."
Haru frowned, using his good hand to force Makoto's head under at the use of the nickname. Makoto came up gasping for air wiping the water out of his eyes.
"Drop the chan."
"I think he's serious this time," Rin said with a laugh swimming towards them.
"I think so," Makoto said grinning at Haru.
"How's your wrist doing Haru?"
"Better, it's just a sprain, so...."
"Good, you won't be out of swimming for too long then."
He shook his head slowly.
"No, just a couple of weeks."
"Good," Rin said looking around. "Are you going to the festival tomorrow night?"
"Yeah. That was the point of coming home."
Rin nodded looking away and Haru eyed him slowly. Rin wasn't acting like himself at all. If it wasn't for the fact that Makoto looked just as confused Haru, he would have blamed it on the knowledge that now knew Rin was gay and interested in him. He would have just thought he was reading too much into Rin's behavior but Makoto seemed just as perplexed by Rin's odd behavior.
"Rin, is something wrong?"
"No, no I'm fine. Just got distracted I guess."
"Did you come back for the festival too Rin?"
"Well that and to visit my sister. My coach was pissed about me taking off for a week though."
"Well, it is good to see everyone in one place again," Makoto said looking around the pool.
"Hmm, yeah, even though those two are acting weird," Rin said nodding to Nagisa and Rei.
"Oh, they'll figure it. They've been close since Rei joined the swim team." Makoto assured him with a smile.
Haru looked at Makoto slowly before glancing at Rei and Nagisa. He hadn't noticed anything odd about the pair. Though, he had noticed there was less energy behind Nagisa's actions than normal.
"Makoto, can you take me back to the edge so I can get us a lunch started," he asked softly.
"You sure you want to cook?"
"Yes. Coach gave me permission to use a grill and it's the least I can do after last night. I ruined everyone's reunion."
Makoto sighed knowing better to argue with him, going back to the edge of the pool to let Haru get out. He looked over at Rin as he watched Haru climb out the pool and walk to the grill.
"He seems a hundred times better than last night."
"He's home. And he got some decent sleep."
"Mm, yes, and he has you to help him if he needs, so I'm sure he'll be fine," Rin said turning to him.
"He always has, and always will," Makoto said softly.
"You still love him."
"Yes. He knows that. He and I spoke about it. He still hasn't figured out his own feelings. I can wait. As long as I'm still in his life, I'm okay."
"He's lucky, " Rin said with a smile.
Makoto looked at Rin slowly. That was not the reaction he expected.
"Is something going on Rin? Something seems to be bothering you."
"I... hell, no sense hiding it from you. You've learned to read minds from Haru," he sighed. "Sosuke and I... well he came to stay with me in Australia for some physical therapy on his shoulder. We have a really good one there ...While he was there we started dating, pretty seriously, but we broke up. Well, he broke up with me. Just a couple weeks ago."
Makoto stared at him. He had not expected that. He'd been suspicious of Sosuke's feelings for Rin, especially with how he treated Haru. However, he'd not expected Rin to share those feelings.
"He thinks I still have feelings for Haru."
"I will always care about him. But no, I've moved on. I was happy."
"I hope you two figure it out." Makoto said quietly. He was surprised by how sincerely he felt that sentiment. He’d always liked Rin, even when they were competing for Haru’s attention. He’d never wanted anything badly to happen to him.
"That's really why I came home. To fix things with him. He moved back home to work for his dad."
"Good luck Rin."
"Good luck to you as well. I hope you two are happy."
"Not yet. Now isn't the time to worry about it either. But it'll happen." Rin said smiling at him. "I have faith in you two."
Rin nodded before swimming away to join the others. Makoto sighed climbing out the pool walking towards Haru at the grill.
"What else?" Haru asked, Makoto couldn't help but laugh at the hint of teasing in Haru's eyes, he was slowly getting the light back in those big blue eyes.
"Haru-chan!!! Why must it always be mackerel?" Nagisa cried out.
"Because it's good." Haru deadpanned at him, as if the answer was obvious.
Makoto chuckled sitting in one of the deck chairs watching them. Haru was attempting to ignore Nagisa as he peered over his shoulder trying to talk him into grilling something else. Haru was handling it better than the day before. He still tensed up if Nagisa got too close, but he didn't panic.
"Nagisa, just deal with the mackerel," Makoto called out with a laugh.
He sat down with Makoto with a sigh.
"Why aren't you with Rei?"
"Do you have to ask?"
Makoto sighed looking over at Rei who was talking to Rin on the other side of the pool.
"I hope you two figure this out. I don't want it to ruin your friendship."
"I..just need time."
"Your feelings for him were that serious?"
"I was in love with him," he said softly. "I still am."
"And you told him that?"
"I didn't have to. I've heard how he talks about love and relationships," he shook his head sadly. "He's not interested."
"You should try anyway; he may surprise you. Besides, I'm sure he can sense something is wrong, and he's going to confront you eventually."
Nagisa looked over at Rei and sighed. Makoto put his hand on his arm gently giving it a squeeze.
"Just have faith Nagisa. Isn't that what you told me with Haru?"
"Look how far that got you!"
"A lot further than I would have if I wasn't honest with him. At least he knows of my feelings. He was taking his time to sort his own out. I don't mind waiting. He's worth it. And so is Rei."
Nagisa frowned looking down at the concrete.
"Go on, go make nice before he thinks you're mad at him. Because right now I'm sure that's what he thinks."
Nagisa slowly got up walking over to the other side of the pool, sitting down beside Rei. Makoto shook his head seeing the younger boy already blush. As obvious as Nagisa was being he suspected Rei already knew what was wrong.
"What was that about?" Haru's voice cut through his thoughts.
"Nagisa was just being mopey."
"Oh...lunch is ready."
"Great, come on guys, food is ready." He called out to the others.
They all walked over to the grill slowly, less than enthusiastic about the mackerel.
I'm so sorry this took so long!!! I hope it was worth the wait! Between work and summer courses I got back logged. The next chapter won't take nearly as long, I promise!
"Haru-chan! Are you ready?"
Haru groaned stepping out the bathroom slowly. No, he wasn't ready. Not because he wasn't dressed or anything, he just dreaded going out the front door. Any other time he didn't care what he looked like, but he felt and looked like death warmed over. His wrist was hurting worse today than it had the day before and his cheek was still swollen and red. There was a large bruise forming, plus all the bruises hidden by his clothes. He really didn't feel like stepping out the house, but he'd promised the others.
"There you are!" Makoto cried grinning at him. "Nagisa just messaged, they're waiting for us."
Haru sighed following him out the door. Makoto wouldn't let him disappear back into the house, no matter how much he wanted to. The Obon Festival was something they went to every year. They'd always looked forward to it. Makoto more so than Haru, he usually tagged along while Makoto looked at everything, his eyes as bright as a child's. Makoto just smiled at him walking down the steps happily. Haru was sure he knew how much he just wanted to climb into bed and hide from the world.
"It'll be great once we get there Haru. Remember the fireworks from last year?"
"We didn't watch them last year."
"Had a fight. Our first fight. And the tear before Nagisa and Rei kept moving me to hide Rin."
"All the more reason to look forward to it. We'll actually get to enjoy it!"
"Makoto...I can barely move on my own. I just want to go to bed."
"An hour? Please? At least watch the fireworks with me?" Makoto begged quietly.
Haru sighed looking away. After everything Makoto has done for him he could hardly argue. Not when he was looking at him so pitifully.
"Fine. But don't expect me to join in on the rest of the activities."
"I won't. Thank you Haru-chan!"
"You're as bad as Nagisa," Haru muttered following him slowly.
Makoto just looked back at him with a smile, his eyes shining brightly. Haru frowned looking away from him slowly, he could feel the warmth in his cheeks, a telltale sign he was blushing, though he didn't understand why. Makoto just smiled wider as they walked in silence. He looked like a five year old on Christmas. Haru knew he always enjoyed the Obon Festival, but it seemed to mean more to him this year.
"Mako-chan, Haru-chan! Over here!" Haru turned in the direction of Nagisa's voice waving slightly.
Nagisa and Rei were standing next to one of the booths waiting for them. They were both dressed in more traditional clothing, like the years previous, while Makoto and Haru chose to wear more casual clothing. Haru in a simple button down shirt and pants. He went for loose fitting clothing so he wouldn't have to feel his clothes pressed against his wounds. Makoto was wearing very similar clothing, though Haru suspected it was so that Haru didn't feel like the odd one out.
"We were beginning to think you weren't going to make it," Nagisa said grinning at them.
"Haru just needed extra time getting ready."
Nagisa smiled grabbing Haru's good arm excitedly pulling him along.
"Come on Haru-chan let's have a look around!"
"N..nagisa!" Rei cried out chasing after them.
Haru turned to Makoto slightly, his eyes wide. Makoto stepped forward nervously, ready to pull Haru from Nagisa's grip if he showed any of the fear he'd seen at the train station. However, Haru merely looked irritated, slightly pained, and his eyes were begging Makoto to intervene.
"Nagisa! Be careful, don't hurt him. Makoto, shouldn't we help Haru-senpai?"
"Haru is handling it fine. He's been feeling self-conscious about constantly turning to me for help. I think we should let this one slide. I don't want to make him feel helpless."
"I can understand that logic," Rei agreed softly.
"How is the swim team doing? Did you guys make it pretty far this year?"
"Nagisa didn't tell you? We compete in nationals in a couple days."
"I haven't really asked about the swim team. We've been distracted by other things lately," Makoto admitted quietly.
"H...he told you about me, didn't he? About my being.." Rei broke off the sentence blushing slightly.
"He mentioned it yes. He needed someone to talk to, and Haru isn't the most therapeutic person to speak to."
Rei smiled a bit watching as Nagisa pulled Haru from booth to booth.
"It's nice to see him smiling again. Things have been a bit...awkward."
"I noticed yesterday. I told him to speak with you about it."
"I don't know if talking will make it better. Nagisa has been avoiding me ever since I told him I was....asexual."
Makoto sighed turning to Rei slowly. He knew he shouldn't say anything, that it wasn't his place, but he hated seeing the two of them acting like this.
"He thinks you're aromantic," Makoto told him softly.
"He told you that?"
"The other day. He said you're always talking about how illogical love is."
"It's not really any of my business, and I shouldn't tell you, but I really want you guys to figure this out. If you are aromantic, you should tell him, so that way he knows for sure and can move on."
"Honestly, I thought I was, but...."
"I'm not sure. I've never had feelings for anyone before but, sometimes when he smiles at me or he laughs, I think maybe I could be in a relationship with him. Maybe he and I could figure it out."
"Why don't you tell him that?"
"What if I'm wrong? What it I really am aromantic, and I break his heart? To see his eyes fill with tears....no, I saw it once already, and that's not beautiful at all," he said softly.
Makoto looked at Rei quietly. He'd never heard the other boy speak so openly about his emotions before. He could see the conflict in Rei's eyes and he touched his arm gently with a small smile on his face.
"Tell him. Let him know how you feel, and then let him decide if he wants to take that risk. He's already told me he's willing to be with you, even if sex isn't an option. Nagisa understands what he would be getting into if you two started dating. He thinks you're worth it."
Rei looked at him speechless for a moment before turning back to the crowd where Haru and Nagisa disappeared.
"Come on, let's catch up with them. Haru will be very angry if he thinks I abandoned him."
Rei nodded slowly following Makoto into the crowd. Makoto could tell he was seriously considering what Makoto had said to him, and Makoto hoped he'd managed to help him work through some of his emotions.
They managed to find Nagisa and Haru at a booth selling cell phone charms. He wasn't surprised, Nagisa would stop at every booth and look at all the merchandise before the night was over. It was what he did at festivals. Usually, he would drag Rei around all night while Rei complained about the state of the economy. Makoto expected to find Haru staring at charms looking bored or irritated. He hadn't expected to see him holding a small charm in his hand looking at it curiously.
"Find a charm you like?" He asked walking up to him.
Haru looked at him slowly. He seemed embarrassed and Makoto was confused. Haru had no reason to be embarrassed over cell phone charms, but then he saw the charm he was holding. It was technically two charms, a small dolphin and whale hanging on the string. Makoto smiled slowly picking it up.
"I like it."
Haru turned his head away, pretending to look at other charms on the rack, but Makoto could see the blush slowly filling Haru's cheeks.
"If you don't buy it, I will."
Haru turned to look back at him slowly. He grabbed the charm out of Makoto's hand walking to the lady running the booth, but refused to meet Makoto's eyes. Makoto watched him curiously. He'd never seen Haru act so self-conscious before. Was it because of what had happened? Or had he made up his mind about his feelings for Makoto? Makoto shook his head; it wasn't time for him to be thinking so selfishly. Haru needed time to heal before he brought that up again.
Haru turned back to him slowly and Makoto smiled slowly leading him to the next booth, pushing his thoughts away. There would be time later to talk of feelings, for now he just wanted to enjoy this night out with friends.
Haru sighed as they stepped up to another booth. He knew the others were having a good time and he didn't want to ruin it for them, but with the constant moving from display to display combined with his pain killers, he was beginning to feel completely drained. Makoto turned to him with a concerned smile and touched his arm gently when Haru stopped behind him.
"Haru, are you okay?"
"Yeah. I'm going to go sit down for a moment."
"Do you want me to go with you?"
"No, you guys go on. I'll meet up with you later."
"Are you sure?"
Makoto looked at him slowly, his eyes full of indecision. Haru sighed holding up his phone.
"I promise to call if I need you."
"Alright, but I'll find you soon."
"I know you will, now go have fun."
Makoto smiled slowly touching his arm before walking away with the others. Haru watched them for a moment before going to find a place to sit down.
"Are you sure it's okay to leave him?" Rei asked Makoto, glancing back at Haru.
"I'm sure. It's what Haru wanted. He'd be angry if we ignored him. Besides, I'm sure he's exhausted. This is the most active he's been the last couple days. I should have let him stay home."
"Why didn't you?"
"Purely selfish reasons. Last year we got into that fight over Haru's future. I wanted to make up for that."
"Oh Mako-chan! I'm sure Haru doesn't blame you for that!"
"Still, I blame myself. Haru was having trouble deciding on his future. I should have been more understanding instead of pushing him."
"It was the pushing that finally helped him decide though," Rei pointed out. "Without that argument he never would have gone to Australia with Rin and figured out the future he wanted."
"Well...it was my suggestion that Rin ask him to go...I thought it might help Haru clear his head," Makoto admitted softly glancing back to where Haru had been standing. "I just wanted Haru to have a nice night. I should have known he'd be in too much pain."
"I still think he's having fun Mako-chan. He's been smiling most the night, and we know how weird that is!"
Makoto chuckled softly slipping his hands into his pockets. Nagisa was right. Haru had seemed to be in an especially cheerful mood ever since they'd joined their friends. He may have been reluctant to come to the fair, but he didn't seem unhappy once they'd arrived.
"Now, are you going to tell me why you two are acting so close?"
"What do you mean?"
"I think he means the way Haru is clinging to you. Nagisa, I don't think it's what you're thinking. Haru just went through something incredibly traumatic. He isn't going to be thinking about relationships right now."
"But...he lets you hold him, and you've been so affectionate Mako-chan."
"I've been getting carried away trying to comfort him. I've been letting my own feelings for him get in the way. I really shouldn't be like that with him. We're not a couple, and if Haru decides he wants us to be a couple, I doubt it'll be anytime soon. He needs time to heal. I'm okay with that. I'll wait as long as it takes."
"Haru-chan is really lucky. You love him so much..."
Makoto felt himself blushing as he looked away. Leave it to Nagisa to say exactly what pops into his head. He wasn't looking for any praise for how he felt. He really did plan to wait for Haru even though he knew Haru may never decide he wanted a relationship. There was no one else out there he could love as much as he loved Haru. He'd been on a few dates since they moved to Tokyo and they always ended with him comparing everything the other person did to how Haru would act. His heart longed for Haru, it had his whole life. He'd nearly given up when Rin came back, but when Haru chose to go to Tokyo with him, he knew he was done. He would never give up on Haru.
He sighed, shaking himself out of his reverie following Nagisa and Rei to a booth. Part of his wanted to go back to Haru just to give the two of them time alone to figure their own relationship out, but he knew Nagisa would just pretend nothing was wrong. However, the way Rei was looking at Nagisa, he assumed the other boy had come to a decision about them on his own.
Haru sighed as he sat down on a bench away from the festival crowd. Getting around the groups of people to find a peaceful location was harder than he thought. Part of him wished he'd stayed home, despite Makoto's protests. He was sore, tired, and not in the mood to be around people. However, he was glad Makoto talked him into coming.
He had ruined the festival the year before and picked a fight with Makoto, when all Makoto had been trying to do was help him. He'd let everyone else get to him. He'd let the pressures of school and the swim team affect their friendship. He knew that had been selfish of him. Makoto should not have been the one he lashed out at. Makoto had always understood that about him. Makoto never pushed him to do anything he didn't want to do. He never questioned him or judged him. He was a silent presence in Haru's life, well as silent as someone who liked to meddle could be. Haru knew Makoto's meddling was good natured, but sometimes it could be bothersome. He'd never known why Makoto was so determined to remain by his side, but he was thankful he had.
Makoto was the one person Haru knew would always be there. Throughout Haru's life there was one thing that was certain, everyone eventually left. When Rin left, Haru wasn't terribly broken up. He had immersed himself in Makoto and Haru's life, and had become a bothersome presence. By that point in their lives, Haru and Makoto had a system to their day, and Rin destroyed that system. But after Rin left, Nagisa left. Haru thought that was the end of it until his dad left for work and his mom followed. His parents left him alone without batting an eye. The only person who seemed to want to stay with him was Makoto, and despite Haru pushing him away to keep from depending on him, Makoto was determined to cling to him. From the time they were children until they created the swim team, their lives revolved around each other.
However, Makoto ruined that peace with one little sentence.
"I'm going to study in Tokyo."
Haru could still feel the way his heart clenched at those words. The one person he'd grown to trust and depend on was leaving him. Makoto was the only person who asked nothing of him, and was there for him when he needed it, was saying goodbye. He knew it was his fault. He'd bottled everything up and pushed Makoto away. Makoto was going to have to move on without him. He was going to leave Haru behind. The idea of living a life without Makoto by his side made him sick. Even when he in Australia with Rin all he could think about was the way his heart seized in his chest at that one sentence. It felt like Makoto had crushed it.
Haru frowned wiping away the tears he felt gathering on his cheeks angrily. He had no reason to be getting so emotional. It wasn't like Makoto wanted to leave him behind. He'd been overjoyed to find out Haru had chosen a university in Tokyo.
Haru knew he had no choice but to go to Tokyo. Even though he decided he wanted to swim competitively he couldn't give Makoto up. He'd go to competitions and travel for the team, but he wanted to be with Makoto. He needed to be with Makoto. He needed his presence in his life. Makoto was his everything. His life would feel empty without him.
"It's pointless without you." Makoto had said once, and Haru felt it too.
Makoto didn’t make his heart race like the books and movies made it sound. But, he made Haru feel different than he felt with other people. In Makoto’s presence he felt warm and happy. He made Makoto’s heart seize in his chest with just a smile. Haru had never been able to put a name to the feelings Makoto had caused in him, but that was because he experienced them differently than others had. He’d been an idiot to have never noticed before.
He groaned closing his eyes as he turned to the voice. Rin was walking towards him through the crowd.
"Makoto and the others sent me to find you," he said holding up his phone. "They found a spot to watch the fireworks."
Haru sighed standing up.
"Fine. Let's go."
"You can at least sound a little excited about it," Rin said with a laugh leading him through the crowd.
"I'm a terrible liar."
"Didn't want to come, huh?"
"Why did you?"
Rin glanced back at him with an amused look on his face and Haru looked away slowly. He didn't need Rin guessing what was going on in his head.
"Rin-chan! Haru-chan! Over here."
Haru looked up to see Nagisa waving at them wildly. Rei was standing beside him hiding his face in his hands as if he were embarrassed. Makoto grinned a bit amused at their side. Haru looked down feeling his cheeks flush again. He'd been doing too much of that lately.
"Are you feeling better Haru-chan?" Makoto asked softly when they reached him.
"I'm glad you got a bit of rest. You shouldn't push yourself."
"You're the one who wanted me to come," Haru deadpanned as he sat on the grass.
"I know. I shouldn't have forced you like that," Makoto said softly. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay, Makoto. I'm glad I came."
Makoto looked at him surprised before smiling turning to look up at the sky. Haru looked at him slowly as the lights of the festival filled his face, before turning to the sky to watch the fireworks with him.
Author’s Note: I am very sorry this chapter took me so long. I promise it was not intention. I work full time midnights and then I take class during the day, and with the fall semester just beginning and being short at work causing me to work overtime, I have not had the time or energy to write. All of my stories are suffering like this one. However, I promise you, I will not abandon this story. However, I do think we are nearing the end. I do not expect this story to be more than fifteen chapters. I hope you enjoy this chapter, and if all goes well, this story will be part of a trilogy titled “Diving In.” Hopefully.
Makoto groaned, coming to awareness as an incessant knocking noise reached his ears. He slowly rolled over moving to get out of bed, before realizing his arm wouldn’t budge an inch. He looked back slowly before pausing, a small smile coming to his face. Haru was curled into his side, a fringe of his short black hair falling over his forehead, pinning Makoto’s arm underneath his body. For the first time all week, Haru had gotten a full nights rest. The first few nights after they returned to Iwatobi Haru hadn’t been able to get even an hour of sleep. Makoto would have chalked it up to nightmares if the boy had even been able to fall asleep, but the minute his eyes closed he’d begun shaking in fear. However, the night before he’d simply crashed from exhaustion, so tired he hadn’t even had a chance. The minute he’d touched the bed, he’d fallen into a deep sleep, Makoto staying at his side just in case he’d suffered a nightmare.
Makoto reached out slowly touching Haru’s cheek gently, running his finger over his skin lightly, before pulling away with a sigh as the knocking got louder. He pulled his arm out from underneath Haru slowly, careful not to wake him before walking into the sitting room. He opening the door slowly fighting back a yawn, blinking in surprise when he saw his brother and sister standing on the front step looking at him crossly.
“Ren, Ran. What are you doing here, and so early,” He asked rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Mother sent us,” Ren started crossing his arms.
“She wants to know if you plan on coming home at least once before you go back to school tomorrow,” Ran finished with a glare.
“Whoa…why are you guys so angry?”
“You’ve been home a week! You haven’t even stopped to have dinner with us!”
Makoto paused looking at them in surprise. Had he really been home for a week already? He hadn’t even realized the time was going so fast. He’d been too focused on making sure Haru was comfortable to notice the days passing. He’d been in so much pain and Makoto had been reluctant to leave his side so he’d stayed at his home with him instead of going to his parents.
“I…didn’t realize it’s been a week already guys,” he said rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. “Tell mom I’ll be home for dinner tonight…we go back to school tomorrow.”
“We only get to see you for a couple hours?”
“I’m sorry. It was unintentional, I promise.”
Ran shook his head annoyed looking away from him and Makoto felt a twinge of guilt. He honestly hadn’t meant to ignore his family but Haru had needed his support.
“I promise I’ll come home again soon and make it up to you.”
“Whatever, we’ll let mom know. She said to bring Haru if you want,” Ren said before hurrying off with Ran, obviously angry.
Makoto sighed closing the door leaning against it. He’d have some serious sucking up to do to his family before going home to school. Ren and Ran had been missing him terribly and he’d promised to spend time with them when he got home. He’d make sure to spend more time with him the next time he came home. There was nothing he could do about what had happened to Haru and he wasn’t going to let him suffer without him.
He walked back to Haru’s room, the other boy rolling over slowly arm sliding across the bed as if he was searching for something and Makoto blushed a bit walking towards the bed. Haru’s eyes opened slowly, clouded with sleep as he sat up. Makoto sat down on the edge of the bed as Haru reached up rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Morning,” he said softly.
“What time is it?”
“About nine. You finally got some rest.”
Haru nodded slowly turning to him and Makoto gave him an easy smile. Haru paused before looking away from him pulling his knees up to his chest, crossing his arms over them.
“Just, not ready to get up I guess.”
“That’s fine. I’m going to get a shower. You rest up. My mom invited us for dinner.”
“Well, she sent Ren and Ran to bully me into coming home for dinner, and said you could join if you wished.”
“You don’t have to go.”
Makoto gave him a smile and nod before disappearing into the bathroom. Haru sighed laying back in his bed closing his eyes. It was like he couldn’t talk to Makoto anymore. Anytime they were alone together he froze up and had to depend on Makoto to continue the conversation. While talking had never been his strongest point, he’d always been able to talk to Makoto about whatever was crossing his mind. However, since realizing he had feelings for the other boy, even being around him was becoming a chore.
He groaned pulling himself out of bed going to get dressed. He paused looking in the mirror behind his dresser. Over the last couple of days many of his bruises had faded, and he could look into a mirror without flinching at his reflection. The many scratches on his fade had disappeared, and the few cuts he had were beginning to close. He no longer looked like he got hit by a bus, but instead a small vehicle. He frowned walking out the room into the kitchen to make breakfast for him and Makoto.
He felt bad that Makoto thought he had to stay by his side the whole time they were in town. He hadn’t felt like leaving his home since the night of the festival. There had been entirely too many people in the crowd, and by the time he got home he’d been visibly shaken. He’d decided to spend the rest of his vacation in the comfort of his own home. Makoto was only supposed to stay that first night, but once he caught wind of Haru’s nightmares, he’d refused to leave. However, despite the guilt Haru couldn’t let himself send Makoto home to his parents. Having the other boy hold him in his arms while he slept had been oddly comforting. It was something he refused to say out loud, but he slept better with Makoto beside him.
Haru shook himself from his thoughts while he cooked their breakfast. It wouldn’t do for him to focus on things like that. He couldn’t let himself get distracted with thoughts of Makoto. It wasn’t the time to be thinking about things like that. Not when he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do about his feelings for Makoto. He’d sacrificed so much to keep Haru in his life, and Haru had selfishly allowed him to do so. He’d let Makoto give up so much, and he didn’t want Makoto to have to keep doing that to be with him. Makoto deserved to be happy, and he was beginning to suspect that meant letting him go.
Haru was putting the plates on the table when Makoto walked into his small dining room. He was wearing his trademark smile, which caused Haru to smile back, even as he felt his chest begin to ache. Being around Makoto was slowly beginning to get more difficult to Haru. He found it hard to act natural.
“This looks amazing,” Makoto said with a small smile as he began to eat. “Much better than the stuff they feed us at school.”
“I know,” Haru said with a small grin. “Their food is terrible.”
Makoto chuckled softly as Haru slowly took his seat sipping on the coffee he’d made while breakfast had cooked.
“Aren’t you going to eat?”
“I…I’m not hungry,” he replied softly. He knew Makoto was beginning to worry about him and his eating habits. The pain pills made it difficult for him to eat. He always felt sick to his stomach.
Makoto frowned slowly putting his fork down turning to him.
“I’ll eat later, promise. Just right now I can’t stomach anything solid.”
Makoto sighed softly looking away. He knew better than to argue. They’d argued over it too many times in the last couple days.
Haru looked down at the table taking another sip of his coffee. He hadn’t been much of a coffee drinker. He’d always preferred tea or simply water, but after his first semester of college he wasn’t sure how he’d survived without coffee in his life. Now, he was pretty sure he was addicted, and Makoto teased him about it incessantly. Yet, he never stopped going with him every morning to get coffee.
“I better get going,” Makoto said softly standing up. “Ren and Ran are pretty angry with me. Maybe if I take them to the beach they’ll forgive me.”
“I’m sorry I kept you from them this week,” Haru started softly.
“No…don’t you dare. You have nothing to apologize for. I was here because I wanted to be.”
Haru looked up at him quietly and Makoto flashed him a smile before putting his plate in the sink.
“Thank you for breakfast Haru, now go get some more rest. Your body needs it.”
Haru nodded standing up following Makoto to the door. He was suddenly dreading the other boy leaving. He’d gotten so used to his presence in the last couple days that he was certain he’d be lost without him.
Makoto flashed him a grin before stepping out of the house as Haru watched him. He’d stopped giving Haru his little kisses on the cheek and forehead and Haru was beginning to miss their presence. He’d never told anyone how used he’d gotten to Makoto’s displays of affection, but he expected someone had told him to stop. However, he rather enjoyed the attention Makoto gave him and he missed it more than he cared to admit. He sighed clearing his mind, walking back into the house.
Makoto walked into his parents’ house quietly, shutting the door behind him. He could smell remnants of the breakfast his mother made and smiled to himself. She always did make the best breakfasts, he’d missed them while he was away at school. He kicked his shoes off at the door and slowly walked through the house looking for everyone.
There were footsteps in the hallway and Makoto turned the corner to see his mother walking towards him. He smiled a bit, taking in the sight of her. It felt good seeing her for the first time in so many months. He’d missed her while he was away at school. They’d always gotten along with better than most of the family. Makoto always assumed it was because he looked so much like her. He’d gotten his hair and eyes from her, along with her easy going temperament. Although, it could be that there was such a large age gap between him and the twins.
“Makoto! It’s about time you came home!”
“Sorry about that mom, it wasn’t intentional, I promise,” he said, feeling another twin of guilt. He really hadn’t planned on staying away from home the whole time he was in town.
She shook her head before wrapping her arms around him, enveloping him in a tight hug. He smiled wrapping his arms around her, returning the embrace. He’d missed his family dearly. Tokyo was certainly not the same as being home. The only reason he’d survived the months away was that he and Haru were so close to each other in the city.
“Why didn’t you come home immediately?” She asked looking up at him.
“I…stayed at Haru’s this week,” he said rubbing the back of his neck embarrassed. It felt like such a shallow excuse.
His mother eyed him carefully as she stood back before shaking her head with a soft smile.
“Come on, your father and I were just talking in the kitchen. Ren and Ran went to a friend’s house.”
Makoto groaned following her. There went his plans to make it up to Ren and Ran before he went back to school.
“I was going to take them to the beach to make up for being away all week.”
“I’m sure they’ll be back in time for you to spoil them with that video game you guys always played last year. They just want to spend time with their big brother. They’ve missed you.”
“I missed them, too.”
“Well, they wouldn’t have guessed that,” said a voice as they walked into the kitchen. “They were waiting all week for you to come home. You could have at least called when you got to town saying you weren’t coming home.”
“It wasn’t planned ahead of time, honestly. I…” Makoto sighed sitting in the chair beside his father, wondering how to explain what happened.
“Honey, if things between Haru and you…changed while you were away, we would understand. You should have just told us, you didn’t have to hide it from us.” His mother said delicately taking the seat on the other side of his father.
“I…what? No…it’s not…we’re not…” Makoto sputtered looking between his parents who were eyeing him interested.
“How…how did you even know I was gay?” He asked quietly.
“Oh Makoto, you’re our son, of course we knew,” she said as she put her hand on his gently. “Besides, the way you looked at Haru…there was no denying that look.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“We were waiting for you to tell us. It didn’t feel right to bring it up until you were ready, but I figured it waited long enough. Especially if you and Haru are together now.”
“We’re not together,” he said softly.
“That’s not why I was there this week. He knows I have feelings for him, but he’s not sure of his own so, we’re not together.”
“Then…why did you stay there this week,” his father asked confused.
Makoto sighed softly looking between his parents again. He wasn’t sure how much to tell them. They would obviously know something happened when they saw Haru at dinner. He’d healed, but he still looked awful. However, he didn’t want them to know anything Haru wasn’t comfortable with them knowing.
“Haru was jumped in Tokyo the night before we left,” he said softly. “Two men surprised him on the street and beat him up pretty badly. He’s barely been able to function all well because of the pain…and he pretty terrified of everything around him. I’ve been staying there to help him cope with everything.”
His mother gasped covering her mouth with her hand looking at him. Makoto looked down at the table quietly. His mother had always treated Haru as one of her own children. He knew she would take it pretty badly when she found out.
“How bad is it Makoto?”
“From what I saw of the medical reports he has a couple bruised ribs, a sprained wrist, and well…the rest you’ll see. It…,” he broke off trying to calm himself down. He wasn’t the one that was attacked, he had no right to get emotional over it, not with the hell Haru was going through. However, he found it difficult to speak, thinking about how Haru was suffering.
“How is he handling it, emotionally?” His mother asked softly.
“Not well. I’ve seen him almost go into two panic attacks this week because of Nagisa and Rin. He’s spent the last couple days in his home, trying to keep himself calm. When we get back to Tokyo he has plans of going into counseling.”
“I hope it helps. The poor boy…how could someone do something so terrible to him?”
“They saw him near a gay club. They assumed he was gay and…”
“Did the police catch him?”
“No…someone found him unconscious and called the police. The investigator in charge of everything seems pretty determined to catch them though. She said this wasn’t the first time these men had done something like this.”
His mom nodded quietly going to pour herself a cup of coffee. Makoto could see her hands shaking, and apparently so did his father, because he walked over to her putting his hands on her shoulders.
“Akari, he’ll be fine,” Makoto heard him say softly. “Haru’s a strong boy. Besides, he’s had Makoto beside him since he happened.”
“Haru was always such a sweet boy…I can’t believe someone would want to hurt him,” she said softly turning to her husband.
“I know, but it could have been worse Akari.”
Makoto bit his lip looking down at the table. He didn’t have the heart, nor the right to tell them exactly how bad it was. Knowing Haru, he would either tell them, or not let them go to the trail when a trial finally happened. He rather hoped Haru would find a way to tell them, because if his mom found out she wasn’t invited to the trial there would be hell to pay on Haru’s part.
“Do his parents now?” She asked sitting down again.
“Haru hasn’t called them. He hasn’t heard from them since he moved into his apartment in Tokyo. I don’t think he has any intention to tell them.”
She clicked her tongue disapprovingly. His mother never voiced her opinion of Haru’s parents and the way they’d left Haru to fend for himself in high school, but she didn’t need to. It was clear in the way she asked when they were brought up that she didn’t approve of his parents and their actions. Makoto didn’t blame her. He never understood how Haru’s parents could just pick up and leave their child to take care of himself, and now that they were in the same city he expected that they’d be thrilled to see their son more often. However, they couldn’t be bothered to make even a phone call to make sure he was okay.
“I told Haru he was invited to dinner.”
“Of course he is. You could have brought him with you this morning if you wanted.”
“He needs his rest. He hasn’t been sleeping well since everything happened.”
“I understand,” she said softly. “I’m glad you were there for him. I’m sure he needed the support.”
Makoto nodded, smiling at her gratefully. Haru had needed his help more than she could imagine and he was glad she understood that.
Haru sighed laying back in his bed looking up at the ceiling. Makoto had told him to get his rest when he left, and he’d been trying, but he couldn’t get his mind to shut off. Every time he closed his eyes he was either plagued with memories of what happened in the alleyway or with thoughts of Makoto. Both of which were a form of torture to him.
He frowned pulling himself out of bed going to clean up around the house, hoping to distract himself. It’d been an hour since Makoto had left and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t seem to get any more sleep. He hadn’t been sleeping well all week, and it seemed the only time he could fall asleep easily was with Makoto by his side. He couldn’t keep depending on Makoto. The man had his own life, and shouldn’t have to schedule his around Haru’s personal problems. He needed to learn how to put what happened behind him. He couldn’t keep letting it affect him the way it was. He knew a week wasn’t nearly enough time for him to recover, but he needed to learn how to be himself again.
He sighed stepping outside to take a deep breath. He missed the calm of his shrine home while in Tokyo. It was the only place he had ever known, and for the last couple years it had belonged to just him. After his parents left, his home had become his safe haven. He enjoyed the peacefulness and familiarity that came from it.
He took a few minutes to calm his nerves before walking back inside getting back to cleaning his home. He needed something that would keep him occupied until dinner with Makoto’s parents. He wasn’t looking forward to them interrogating him about his injuries. He knew they would only mean the best by it, but the idea of having to tell them what happened only upset him more.
He frowned picking up one of his bag carrying it into the laundry room. Laundry wouldn’t keep him busy for long, but at least it was something to do. He slowly piled the clothes in the washer pausing when he pulled the slip of paper from the pair of jeans he’d worn to the club. He paused looking at it, seeing Asuka’s name on the paper. He’d forgotten Asuka had given him his number. He started the laundry slowly before leaning against the washer thoughtfully. He remembered the detective telling him she’d questioned Asuka. He wondered how the other man took it. Had he been upset? He sincerely hoped he not, Asuka had been nothing but nice to him at the club and he hated the idea of making his life difficult when he’d done nothing wrong.
He slowly pulled out his phone entering the number on the slip of paper before sending a text message.
Asuka, this is Haru from the club.
I just wanted to let you know I was okay.
I’m sorry that you were interrogated by the police.
Sent: 10:33 am
Haru was in the middle of cleaning the breakfast dishes, which wasn’t easy considering his bad wrist, when he heard his phone alert him that he had gotten a response. He slowly dried his hands off on a towel and walked over to his phone.
Haru! Thank god. I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.
I’m glad you’re okay. Don’t worry about the police.
It’s definitely not your fault. It wasn’t too bad.
Sent: 11:24 am
Good, I was worried.
Sent: 11:25 am
How was your vacation?
Sent: 11:26 am
Fine. I’ve spent it sleeping off pain killers.
Makoto and I went home for the week though.
Iwatobi is a lot quieter than Tokyo.
It’s been nice.
Sent: 11:30 am
Ah, well, I hope it’s been good despite everything.
Hey, maybe we can have coffee or something when you get back.
I’d like to meet this Makoto of yours.
He sounded like a dream.
Sent: 11:33 am
Haru paused looking at the text message as he sat down at the coffee table. He wasn’t sure how to respond to Asuka’s request. It didn’t seem like the other boy was asking him out on a date. He wanted to see Makoto as well. It didn’t sound awful, but he wasn’t sure how he would be able to handle seeing Asuka after what happened. Would he just be a reminder of what happened that night? He shook his head before keying in his response.
That should be fine. There’s a great place by my dorm.
I’ll send you the address when we get back to town.
See you later.
Sent: 11:45 am
Haru put his phone down going to switch over the laundry before laying back in bed. He was hoping to take a nap before dinner with Makoto and his family. He hoped Makoto wouldn’t be upset with him when he told him about Asuka wanting to get coffee with them.
Makoto looked up from his place on the floor of the living room when he heard the knock on the door. He and Ren had been playing video games for the last hour. The twins had been thrilled when they got back from their friends house to find him waiting on them. All it seemed to take was a marathon of video games for them to forgive him. Kids were a lot easier to please than adults were.
“Is that Haru-chan?” Ren asked.
“Probably.” He said ruffling his hair affectionately.
He got up to answer the door, but was beaten to it by his mother who was passing through on her way to the kitchen.
“Good evening Mrs. Tachibana,” he heard Haru say as he walked to the door.
“Haru dear…Oh my god,” she gasped as she looked at him. “You poor boy!”
Makoto stepped forward to calm her down but froze as he saw her throw her arms around Haru in a tight hug.
Haru froze as he saw Makoto’s mother stepping towards him. He could feel his heart rate already speed up. He’d been struggling to stay calm for the last couple hours and as he felt her arms wrap around him the last off his control seemed to slip out of his grip. His heart was pounding, and he could feel his vision beginning to darken. He tried to get his breathing under control but nothing seemed to work. He could hear the voices around him but they seemed to be coming from under water.
“Mother! Mother, step back,” Makoto said quickly pulling her back from Haru when he saw the other boys face. “Haru, Haru-chan, please look at me.”
“Oh Makoto…I, I forgot you said he’s been this anxious, is he okay?”
“Get me a glass of water or something, please.”
Makoto put his hands on Haru’s shoulders looking into the other boy’s eyes as his mother hurried off. Haru’s breathing was coming out in short pants, and he seemed unaware of everything going on around them. He only hoped he could get him calmed down without needing to take him to a hospital.
“Haru-chan?” He said softly touching Haru’s cheek as his vision slowly seemed to clear.
“Hey, it’s okay. I’m right here. Come on, let’s get you sitting down.”
Haru nodded slowly letting himself be led to the couch in the sitting room. Ren and Ran watched them quietly from the floor. Haru sat down slowly trying to get his breathing under control.
“Haru-chan, are you okay?” Ren asked quietly.
“I’ll be fine Ren,” Haru said softly looking at him.
Makoto sat beside Haru putting his hand on his shoulder giving it a squeeze. Haru looked at him gratefully as he calmed down.
“Haru, I’m so sorry,” Akari said as she walked back in with a glass of water. “I was just so surprised when I saw you. Makoto said you were injured, I just didn’t realize it was so badly.
“It’s not your fault Mrs. Tachibana,” he said taking the glass of water from her. “I hope this didn’t ruin the night. I look forward to being able to enjoy your cooking.”
“Certainly not. Ren, Ran, go set the table for me please.”
Ren and Ran stood up giving Haru one more worried glance before hurrying off to the kitchen.
“Makoto, I’ll go get your father. Haru, you get yourself calmed down okay,” she said giving him a small smile.
“Yes, Mrs. Tachibana,” Haru told her with a small smile.
“How many times do I have to tell you Haru? It’s Akari, or mom. None of this Mrs. Tachibana stuff.”
“Yes, of course.”
She walked out the room and Haru turned to Makoto slowly.
“She feels awful.”
“She shouldn’t. It’s not her fault.”
“It’s not yours either Haru. So don’t go blaming yourself.”
Haru sighed but nodded anyway.
“How much did you tell them?”
“Just enough to explain your visible injuries. If you want to tell them the rest, then you can later. She was ready to go hunt down the guys who did this with what little info she has.”
“Well of course. You’re one of her babies. She was livid.”
Haru found he couldn’t quite fight back the smile that threatened to grow with that news. He’d always loved Makoto’s family. They were the exact opposite of his own. Makoto’s parents had always been warm and loving, and made him feel welcome in their home no matter what time of day.
“How are you feeling?"
“Good. Come on, let’s go join the twins.”
Haru followed Makoto to the kitchen slowly, sitting down at the table as Makoto’s parents joined them. Akari smiled putting the bowls of food on the table. Haru was extremely grateful when Makoto’s dad didn’t mention his injuries at all. In fact, it was almost as if he didn’t notice them. Haru knew better than to think it implied he didn’t care of about Haru’s injuries. He knew it just meant he didn’t want Haru to be self-conscious like he would have been about Akari’s outburst if he hadn’t been in the middle of an anxiety attack.
“Thank you for coming Haru. Akari and I were beginning to get worried about Makoto until we realized that he’d been spending the break at your home,” Akari said with a smile. “Hibiki and I were wondering if he even made it back to town.”
“I’m sorry about that. Neither of us really noticed how fast the week went. It wasn’t until the twins showed up this morning that I even realized we’d be going back to school tomorrow.” Makoto said sheepishly.
“Makoto’s been too busy taking care of me. It’s really my fault he didn’t come home, and I’m really sorry about that.”
“Nonsense. I’m glad he was taking care of you. You needed someone there for you,” Akari said with a smile. “We’re just glad you two made it tonight. I would have missed you both dearly if you didn’t make it to dinner at least once.”
Haru smiled slowly warmth growing in his chest. He’d forgotten how much the Tachibana family felt like his own family. He looked down at his plate sheepishly. He and Makoto really should have made more of an effort to visit his family when they got to town. Next time they got a break, he’d make sure they did.
Gah! I can't believe it's been over a month since I updated. I would apologize, except this time it was not my laziness. At the beginning of October I had gotten second degree burns to my face. I had to heal before I could concentrate on writing. This is a shorter chapter. We're nearing the end of this story I believe. Then I'm going to take some time off while I plan out the sequel that will focus on Nagisa and Rei. I had hoped to have this finished by Christmas but between the burns, my eczema that went insane because the burns, and then finald, I never found time. I'm so sorry.
Haru walked into the cafe slowly, sitting down at his and Makoto's usual table. The lady working the cash register smiled and waved to him as he pulled out his textbooks. He wasn't there to do homework, but he figured the rest of the usual customers would leave him alone if he looked busy.
Heather sighed tapping his fingers on the table nervously as he waited. It'd been nearly two weeks since he and Makoto returned from their holiday and he'd finally agreed to meet Asuka for lunch and introduce him to Makoto. He'd genuinely got along with the other man, and he'd been touched when he'd shown concern for him. They'd barely known each other for and hour, and he'd felt worried about Haru after the night at the club.
A part of him was looking forward to seeing Asuka again, something about him had reminded Haru of Makoto and made him feel comfortable around him. Another part of him was worried Makoto and Asuka wouldn't get along. He didn't know why that worried him so much, just that it did.
Haru glanced up seeing Asuka approach the table slowly. He wasn't dressed as flashy as he had been the night of the club, going for a button down shirt and jeans. Haru had to admit, it suited him.
"Asuka, hi. Have a seat."
"You look good Haru," Asuka said smiling slowly as he satries down.
"Thanks, I definitely feel better than I did a couple weeks ago."
Haru nodded slowly beginning to feel awkward. He hadn't known what he would say when saw Asuka, but he'd assumed he'd figure it out. They both managed to keep up conversation through text, talking about school and their friends. He'd been surprised at how easy conversation flowed for them. He'd figured it'd carry over to them meeting face to face.
"This is weird, isn't it?" Asuka asked with a small smile.
"A bit, I don't understand why though." Haru admitted softly.
"It's okay Haru, it's not as if we know each other really well."
Haru opened his mouth to respond when a loud "Haru-chan" rang through the cafe. Haru looked toward the entrance and couldn't help the small smile that crossed his face as Makoto made his way to the table.
"You're late Makoto," he told him softly.
"I know, my class ran late. Sorry," he said with a grin running the backids of his neck awkwardly.
"Oh, he's adorable!" Asuka said grinning. "I'm Asuka by the way."
Makoto looked over at Asuka slowly, his cheeks flushing.
"Haru has told me a lot about you." Asuka said with an easy smile. "He thinks the world of you."
"We've know each other since before we could talk. We've always been close." Makoto said slowly as he sat down.
"That's wonderful. I've never had friends like that. My family was always moving."
"Our friend Rin was like that. I think it really caused him a lot of problems."
"Rin chose to move though," Haru pointed out quietly.
"That's true," Makoto conceded with a nod.
"Rin was part of our swim team when we were kids," Haru explained to Asuka. "Along with our friend Nagisa."
"Interesting. You guys must have a lot of stories to tell."
"A few," Makoto said with a grin. "I'm going to get some coffee. You want some."
"Just the usual please?"
"I'll take an espresso," Asuka said reaching for his wallet.
"Don't worry about it, I've got it," Makoto said, standing up and walking towards the counter.
"How in the world have you not snatched him up yet" Asuka whispered to Haru quickly.
"I....it's complicated." Haru said with a groan putting his head in his hands.
"But you're interested?"
"I...I think I'm in love with him."
"Why haven't you said anything?!"
"B...Because I didn't realize it until after I..." Haru broke off looking down at the table.
"Oh Haru...you should still tell him."
"I...I will, but what if he's not interested in me anymore?"
"Why wouldn't he be? Two weeks ago you said he was head over heels for you. Unless, oh you don't think...Haru don't be ridiculous. I just met him, and even I could tell you that boy is an angel. Snatched him up, before I do."
Haru could feel his cheeks flushing as he laughed softly looking back at Makoto as he made his way back to the table with their drinks.
"Thank you,"Asuka said taking his with a grin. "So Makoto, what are you going to college for?"
"Honestly, I plan to open my own pool and be a swim coach."
"Really? That's an unusual dream."
"I gave the kids back home swimming lessons last summer and I really enjoyed it."
"That's great. I still have no clue what I'm doing with my life. I'll probably just wind up at my father's company."
"You don't have a major?"
"Haru, I major in dancing and men, neither of which they teach in my classes."
"Quit putting on a show," Haru said with a laugh. "Even if know better than that."
"Sounds fun though," Asuka said grinning. "But, I'm majoring in business, simply because it made the most sense."
"Do you enjoy it," Makoto asked softly.
"Most the time." Asuka said with a smile. "I want to hear about you though. Haru never stops talking about you. I feel like I know way more about you than I should."
Haru bit back a groan feeling himself blush. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.
Happy New Years folks! Wait, is this the second chapter this week?! Gasp!
"This is out third visit Haru," Mrs. Tsukino said softly putting her notepad down. "Usually when someone goes into counseling, they do so to talk to the therapist. I know it's hard for many to accept they need therapy, but I can't help you if you don't let me."
Haru turned to her slowly with a sigh. He knew this would happen. The first visit had gone surprisingly well. They'd spoken about unimportant things. She'd explained the process to him, he told her why he'd sought out therapy and that had been it. However, the second session had been awful. He'd barely spoken a full sentence during the hour they spend together. She'd been patient with him. She hadn't pushed him or asked anyou questions, and he'd been thankful. However, a half hour full of silence in the third session it seemed her patience ran out.
"I know this is hard, but you need to speak to me so I can help."
"I...I'm not sure where to begin."
"You mentioned anxiety your first session, is that still a problem?"
"It's usually hits when people get to close, or when they move to fast around me."
"How do you manage to calm yourself down?"
"Usually my friend Makoto is there to help," Haru replied softly, feeling his cheeks flush.
"And if not?"
"It's can get really bad." He admitted. "I try to separate myself from others and just focus on calming down and breathing."
"As long as it works keep using that method. Has anxiety always been a problem for you?"
"I've never done well with large groups of people but it's gotten worse since. . ."
"Since when Haru?"
"Since I...I was raped," he finished quietly, folding his hands in his laps. "Almost a month ago."
"I see," she said softly putting her notepad down, leaning forward a bit. "Do you want to talk about that?"
"I know I should, but I'm not sure if I can yet." He admitted slowly.
"That's okay," she said with a nod. "We have plenty of time."
Haru released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. He knew the whole point of him going to counseling was so that way he could learn to live with what had happened to him in the alley way, but he wasn't sure he was ready to talk about it yet. It was a chore to discuss it with Makoto, let alone a complete stranger.
"Mako-Chan! How are you?" Nagisa cried into the phone as Makoto tried to balance it on his shoulder as he was folding a shirt.
"I'm fine, just packing up my things."
"Sort of, Haru and I are getting an apartment to share."
"You're moving in together?!"
"Not like that Nagisa," Makoto said with a sigh. "A two bedroom apartment, we just split the rent. It makes more sense."
Nagisa let out a long sigh of disappointment and Makoto couldn't help but laugh. It was obvious he meant well, he just wanted to see the two of them happy, and it meant a lot to Makoto that he felt that way.
"It's okay Nagisa, I'm fine with things the way they are. Haru and I are fine. Besides, he needs to focus on himself more than he should be thinking about a relationship."
"But you're lonely, I know you are! And you don't want anyone else but Haru!"
"Who says I'm lonely?"
"Don't deny it Mako-chan."
"I'm not lonely Nagisa." Makoto said with a frown. It wasn't a lie, not really. Sure, he wanted more out of his relationship with Haru, but he was simply happy to have him in his life. He wouldn't push things if Haru wasn't comfortable. "I'm perfectly fine with the way things are. Haru is my best friend, and if that is all he will ever be, then I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm positive. Now, how are things with you?"
"Rei asked me out on a date..."
Makoto paused, sitting on his bed quickly. He couldn't have heard that right. Nagisa had been calling him for months talking about his feelings for Rei. He'd been convinced that Rei hadn't been interested in relationships. He'd never confronted the other boy about his feelings, but he'd been sure after many things that Rei had said about relationships and love that Rei was aromantic.
"I know, it's weird. I don't know what to do."
"You said yes, right?"
"I didn't say anything."
"I panicked. What if he just feels sorry for me?"
"Nagisa, you need to say yes." Makoto replied slowly, sitting on the bed rubbing his forehead.
"What? But what if..."
"But what if he really has feelings for you and you just rejected him."
There was silence on the other end of the line. Makoto understood Nagisa's fears, but the other boy had to act on his feelings. He couldn't deny himself this chance with Rei when it was staring him in the face. If Haru came to him and told him he wanted to give dating him a try, he'd be ecstatic. He wouldn't hesitate to make it it happen.
"God, I'm an idiot." Nagisa finally said softly.
"No you're not. Call him, now. Don't let this chance slip away."
Makoto hung up before Nagisa could stall any longer and tossed his phone on the bed. Nagisa was really hopeless sometimes. He really hoped Nagisa's date with Rei went well. The two deserved to be happy, and if Rei really did have feelings for Nagisa, then he hoped they could find that happiness together. They were really good for each other. Rei seemed to be the only one that could handle Nagisa's energetic outbursts.
Haru sighed sealing his last box and labeling it slowly. If he wasn't so glad head getting out of this apartment and moving into one he could share with Makoto, he'd put off packing for the rest of his life. It'd taken them weeks, but they'd finally managed to find a two bedroom apartment near both their universities they could afford. Haru was more relieved than he could say. Since they had returned to Tokyo, his nightmares had only gotten worse, and he was certain if it wasn't for Makoto, he'd lose his mind.
He would miss the small apartment he'd been living in for almost a year now, but he would looking forward to living in an apartment with Makoto. Having the other boy so close all the time was more comforting than it had any right to be. He'd been glad it was so easy for the two of them to find an apartment together. He'd been certain it would be harder, considering how full the city was. However, Makoto had started looking as soon as they got back from Iwatobi, and had found a nice apartment within a week. The landlady called them just a couple days before and told them their application had been approved. Makoto had been thrilled. He'd ran to Haru's immediately to tell him the good news.
Haru set the box down by the door as his phone beeped letting him know he got a text message. He picked up the phone slowly opening his messages, reading the message he received from Asuka.
What're you up to?
Sent: 2:14 pm
Just finished packing my last box. Makoto will be here soon to help me move it to our new apartment.
Sent: 2:15 pm
Ooh, your guys' loveshack?
Sent: 2:16 pm
Haru rolled his eyes with a small laugh. Ever since he'd had coffee with Asuka and Makoto, Asuka had taken to teasing him about their relationship. According to Asuka, he'd been amazed by how close their relationship was. He'd been encouraging Haru to tell Makoto about his feelings for him for days now.
Our apartment, sure
Sent: 2:20 pm
Well, I won't keep bothering you then. Have fun!
Sent: 2:22 pm
You're incorrigible, you know that?
Sent: 2:23 pm
That's why most people love me. Besides, someone has to keep reminding you of what a catch Makoto is.
Sent: 2:24 pm
Haru rolled his eyes putting his phone away. He wasn't going to bother even trying to grace that last text with a reply. Asuka really was terrible sometimes. However, Haru couldn't deny he was growing on him.
"Haru-chan? Are you ready?"
Haru turned towards the door fighting the urge to smile.
"In here Makoto," he called out.
Makoto walked into the room smiling a bit. Haru looked up at him picking up one of his boxes.
"You look happy."
"Well, besides Asuka being a fool, I'm looking forward to us living together."
"Yeah, he was texting me earlier. Just being ridiculous."
"You two are getting to know each other, huh."
"A bit. He's fun to talk to sometimes."
"I'm glad. You need some good friends." Makoto said with a smile as he leaned down to pick up one of the many boxes on the floor.
"Well...I don't know about that," Makoto said, grinning playfully as he stepped out the room.
Haru laughed softly following him out with the boxes.
Haru sighed rolling his eyes. He was never going to like that nickname.
Well, here is another chapter. Unfortunately, classes start soon, so I'm not sure when the next chapter will be up, but enjoy!
Makoto sighed, putting the last of his clothes in the closet. It wasn't as if he and Haru had a lot of stuff, but they had stalled terribly in unpacking in their small apartment. Makoto had only unpacked his essential's on the first day. He'd put the little bit of food he had away and unpacked his bathroom necessities, leaving the rest for another time. Haru had basically done the same thing. Makoto was certain there were still boxes of clothes stacked in Haru's closet, waiting until he absolutely needed them before he unpacked them. It wasn't as if they didn't like their new home. Makoto adored the apartment they found and he was certain Haru did as well.
The apartment wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad. It was small, smaller than Makoto had realized. Their kitchen was little more than a hallway. They certainly wouldn't have room for a table to eat at, but that was fine for him and Haru. They could certainly sit in their living room to eat, and there was room for a couple of friends to join them if they wanted. The bathroom was the selling point for Haru. He had been worried about the size of the apartment, but as soon as Haru found out the bathroom was large enough to have a bathtub, his fears were settled and even Makoto let out a breath of air he hadn't realized he'd been holding. He wouldn't think of having Haru live somewhere he couldn't relax, and everyone who knew Haru knew he couldn't relax without his morning baths. Their bedrooms were nothing special. Big enough for a bed, and a few decorations if they wanted them. They both had enough room for their computer desks for homework, and both rooms had a closet. It wasn't perfect for sure, but it was enough. Makoto was comfortable enough to call it home, they just had to add the personal touches that would make it home.
Makoto turned to his open computer on his desk as he heard the notification that told him he had a skype call. It wasn't time for Nagisa and his usual call, and he knew Nagisa would be out on his date with Rei. He walked forward and pressed the accept button slowly.
"Rin?" He asked surprised as the call began.
"This is certainly a surprise." Makoto said smiling slowly sitting down. "Not a bad one. How are you?"
"I'm fine. I just arrived back in Australia yesterday. I tried to call Haru, Nagisa and Rei for a group call. Just wanted to talk to all of you for a bit but neither of them picked up."
"Well, Nagisa and Rei are on a date, and Haru's in bed. He hasn't been sleeping well."
"I'm not surprised. How's he doing?" Rin asked frowning a bit.
"Better than I expected. He seems to be coping. It's mostly sleeping. He has nightmares a lot. Almost every night actually."
Rin looked at him curiously, leaning back in his chair.
"Have you been sleeping at Haru's? Keeping an eye on him?"
"Actually, we got an apartment together. He asked me if we could, while we were in Iwatobi. I think it makes him feel more safe to have someone he knows close by." Makoto said softly.
"Of course, between that and the way you two are with each other," Rin said grinning slowly. "I'm glad he has you."
"So am I. I just want him to be happy."
"God you're hopeless sometimes Makoto," Rin said laughing softly.
"You were the same way."
"Oh, Haru's happiness is still important to me. It's why I never told him how I felt. It wouldn't do any good. I wouldn't make him happy. He needs you for that. I love him dearly," Rin said softly.
"Rin..." Makoto started with a sigh.
"No, listen to me, I wanted to have this conversation while we were all together, but after what happened to Haru, it never felt like the right time," Rin said shortly, cutting him off. "Haru is very important to me, and his happiness is important to me. And I knew, even when we were kids that Haru being happy meant you being near. Whenever you two are together, Haru is, well he's better because of it. He keeps himself so distant from everyone else. But with you, he's there, he opens up and isn't afraid to be who he is. He needs you, whether he knows it or not. I would never try to get in between you two. Besides, I'm happy with Sousuke now. At least, I was. Which is why I'm trying so hard to get him back."
"I...Thank you Rin." Makoto said softly, stunned. He cleared his throat slowly. "So, uh, how are things going with Sousuke."
"Slow," he said with a groan. "He's answering my calls now, at least."
"It's my fault. I should have realized something was wrong."
"I hope you two figure it out Rin, you deserve something good in your life." Makoto said smiling slowly. "Well, besides your swimming career."
Makoto opened his mouth to say something, when he heard a shout coming from the other the room. He turned quickly looking at the door, feeling the color drain from his face.
"Is that Haru?" Rin asked sharply.
"Y...Yeah, I'll talk to you later Rin. That sounds really bad." Makoto said getting up from the chair.
Without waiting for a reply he hurried out of his room towards Haru's. He paused in the doorway, seeing him rolling on the bed, whimpering quietly. Makoto sighed slipping into the bed, beside Haru, reaching up to slide his fingers through Haru's hair. He knew Haru had trouble sleeping, but he hadn't known it was this bad. He was usually in bed by time Haru went to sleep. He kept telling Makoto he had a lot of studying he needed to do, and that he needed to stay up and get his homework done.
"Sh..Haru, it's okay," he said softly in his ear, combing his fingers through his hair gently, trying to get Haru to stop struggling. "It'll be okay."
Haru whimpered again, moving closer to Makoto hands reaching out to grab his shirt tightly. Makoto reached out with his free hand running his fingers over his cheeks, pausing when he felt the tears there. He had thought Haru was coping better than this. He hadn't realized he still struggled so much with the fear and the memories. He sighed trying to pull him closer, pausing when Haru started to struggle, crying out a bit louder. He should have known better.
"Stop! Please, stop!" Haru cried out, voice breaking.
"H...Haru, it's me, Makoto," Makoto said softly. He didn't know how to help Haru when he was like this. "Please, you're safe now. You're with me."
He just wanted Haru's pain to stop. He hadn't realized how much Haru was struggling with his pain. He had been blinded by the fact that Haru was putting on a good face and being social again. When Haru started reaching out to more people, like Asuka, he thought he'd managed to move past the fear he had experienced from the rape. He hadn't even seen Haru struggle with anxiety in weeks. However, seeing him like this, seeing the way the memory of his attack affected him even in sleep, Makoto wondered how much of what showed on Haru's face was an act. He wondered how much pain Haru was hiding from him when they saw each other. He knew Haru didn't like people worrying about him, he found that out when they were kids, and Haru suffered from the flu and ignored his symptoms until they put him in the hospital. Having people worry about him always made Haru feel self conscious, and he would shrug it off as being "bothersome." Not for the first time in his life Makoto wanted to grab Haru and shake some sense into him.
Instead, he moved closer to Haru's trembling form and tried to pull him into his chest. Haru struggled at first, crying out softly, but slowly he calmed down. Makoto could feel the tension draining out of Haru's body and let out a sigh resting his chin on Haru's hair holding him closer, running his hands over his back gently.
"It's okay Haru-chan. Nothing is going to happen to you while I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere," he said softly.
He felt Haru slip further into sleep, the trembling leaving his body slowly, and he finally let himself relax. He laid his head back on the pillow, still rubbing Haru's back comfortingly. He knew he should get up and go back to his room, so that way Haru wasn't upset when he woke up, but he couldn't leave him like that. He wasn't going anywhere in case Haru needed him again. He was going to remain by his side so that way Haru didn't have to go through that fear all over again. He closed his eyes slowly letting himself drift off to sleep as he comforted Haru.
Haru woke up slowly turning his face away from the sun shining in his window. He really needed to stop being lazy and hang up his curtains. He knew they were packed in one of the boxes he had in his closet that was full of clothes, but that meant spending time going through the boxes and that just seemed so bothersome. He froze when he ran into something solid and warm as he rolled over. He felt his heart race pick up as he slowly opened his eyes to see someone else in his bed. Slowly he forced himself to look up towards the face, and let out a soft sigh as his mind caught up with his eyes and registered that it was Makoto sleeping next to him.
He bit his lip trying to remember if Makoto had been in his room when he had gone to sleep. He remembered talking to Makoto about unpacking, but he'd been exhausted. He hadn't slept at all the night before and he barely kept his eyes open throughout dinner. He was pretty certain Makoto had been in his own room unpacking when he'd gone to bed. There was no reason for Makoto to have come in here in order to sleep. He winced as the realization hit. He must have had one of his nightmares the night before. That was the only reason why Makoto would have crawled into bed with him. He had been trying to comfort him. He'd managed to keep Makoto in the dark about how bad his nightmares were getting.
He sighed reaching up to touch Makoto's cheek. It was just like him to try and solve someone else's problems. Makoto was the nicest person Haru had ever met in his life. He had always been one to look after his friends and make sure they were okay. He always put other people's needs before he tried to take care of his own.
He smiled sadly running his fingers over Makoto's jaw slowly. It'd been a long time since he'd been able to see Makoto relaxed and asleep like he was. He was usually awake and making breakfast by the time Haru managed to roll over and get get himself out of bed. He couldn't help but admire Makoto's apparently. He knew he was a good looking person, but at the moment he was simply breathtaking. His brown hair was sticking up everywhere, tousled by sleep. He was dressed simply in a pair of sleep pants. He looked amazing. Haru couldn't tear his eyes away from him.
He caressed his cheek gently as memories of his nightmare ran through his mind. He shivered a bit not taking his eyes off Makoto. He knew Makoto had to have come in here, trying to save him from his nightmares. Makoto was always trying to save him, he never worried about himself. When they were kids Haru would sometimes pick fights just so Makoto would stand up for himself and argue for what he wanted, but it never worked. Makoto would just smile and go along with what Haru wanted. It took a long time for Haru to realize Makoto knew him well enough to know Haru was stating the fights on purpose.
Haru looked back at Makoto's sleeping face, swallowing his fear. If he didn't do it now he'd never have the courage to go through with it. He leaned forward slowly pressing his lips to Makoto's. He felt his eyes slide shut as he kissed him gently, running his thumb over Makoto's cheek.
He jumped back in surprise when he felt Makoto slowly begin to kiss him back. He hadn't expected him to wake up. He swallowed nervously as Makoto opened his eyes, looking at Haru curiously.
"M...Morning Makoto," he said softly as his face flushed.
Haru nodded slowly not trusting his voice to speak at the moment.
"I...I wanted to," Haru admitted softly. "But...I've been to scared to."
"Scared of me?"
"No," Haru sighed taking a deep breath. He knew he had to force himself to say it, even if he really just wanted to bury his head and pretend this never happened. "I was scared your feelings might have changed."
"What? Why would. . ." Makoto started before pausing his eyes widening. "Oh Haru, no...never."
Haru looked up at him slowly meeting his gaze. Makoto reached out slowly touching his cheek.
"My feelings for you have not changed Haru, I've just been waiting. You needed to heal and you still needed to decide if you want to be with me."
"I...I think I'd like to try Makoto."
Makoto smiled slowly running his thumb over Haru's cheek.
"So, can I kiss you now that I'm awake enough to enjoy it?" He asked playfully.
Makoto didn't hesitate. He pulled Haru closer leaning down capturing Haru's lips in a gentle kiss.
I know you all got a notification that I updated this story, but it was actually chapter one. I posted a new introductory chapter that actually shows the kiss that started this whole story. I'm currently working on the newest chapter. I know I've said this before, but I hope to have it up by this weekend. I thank you all for your unending patience. With the new chapter I'll explain everything. And, it's not in vain, up to chapter seven I've removed spelling and grammar errors and I've moved things around. I've combined a few chapters, and I think this story will end at 20 chapters.
Haru ran into the locker room breathless. It was the first practice he could be in ever since he'd been injured, it wouldn't help his case if he were late, but he'd overslept. He and Makoto had been up all night watching movies together. He hadn't expected things to be so easy between them. It'd been a week since Haru had kissed him, and yet things seemed to have changed so naturally between them.
He shook his head trying to clear his thoughts. He couldn't let himself get distracted. The swim team had a competition coming up in two weeks and he needed to get himself back into shape if he wanted to be considered for the roster. He'd missed out on the last competition, he didn't want to miss out on this one as well. He changed into his swimsuit quickly before following the rest of the team out of the locker rooms. The coach looked up and smiled when he saw Haru standing with the rest of the team.
"Ah, Mr. Nanase, welcome back," he said with a wide smile. "I hope you're feeling well."
"Alright team, time to get started," the coach said crossing his arms behind his back.
"Mr. Nanase, since you've been out for over a month we will need to work on your endurance, I want you to try beating your times from before you went out."
"Yes, sir." He said before diving into the pool.
It'd been too long since he'd been able to go swimming. Sure, Makoto had pulled him into the pool in Iwatobi but he hadn't been able to swim at the time. He'd only been able to float in the water. This was incredibly different. Being able to dive under the water and forget his problems for a time was the greatest feeling in the world. He let himself fall under the spell of the water and just concentrated on being one with the water. If he focused on his time there was no way he'd be able to beat his time from before. That wasn't how his mind and body worked.
He was never able to explain his feelings to the coach. The coach never saw it from Haru's point of few. Haru was pretty sure the coach thought he was insane the first time Haru told him he never looked at the clock when he swam. Even when he tried to make himself care about times and distances, he never turned towards the clock after the race. There was always someone else willing to tell him his timing. He usually trusted their opinion.
He reached the wall of the pool and flipped before swimming to the other end again. He could feel himself become less and less tense as he was in the water. He'd been stressed over the silliest things ever since he and Makoto had decided to try and be a couple, things he'd never been worried about before, things that Makoto had once assured him wasn't a problem.
The more time he spent with Makoto, the more often it was on his mind. Ever since the first time he kissed Makoto he'd been bothered by his lack of reaction to the kiss. He adored Makoto, knew he had fallen in love with him somewhere along the line of their long friendship, but he didn't desire Makoto the way he often heard people talking about in class. Cuddling with Makoto, kissing Makoto, and spending time with Makoto were things he craved and needed in his life, but he had no desire to have sex with Makoto. He knew it wasn't fair to Makoto and he needed to find a way to tell him. Makoto deserved to know where he stood before things between them carried on for too long. He wanted to give Makoto the option of walking away.
Makoto had suspected he was asexual from the beginning, and between talking to his therapist, and reading what he had online he was beginning to suspect that Makoto was right. But could he still be in love with Makoto and not want to have sex with him? He knew the people on the forums said so, but part of him wondered if it were really true. And, if he stayed with Makoto, would Makoto be happy in a relationship knowing sex might not happen? Could he and Makoto reach a compromise that worked for both of them? Despite not being interested in sex, could he take that step with Makoto? For Makoto's sake? Makoto had already given up so much for Haru in the years they'd known each other, could he expect Makoto to give up even more?
Haru stopped when he heard the whistle blowing. He paused pulling himself out of the water. He'd been swimming for an hour, and he hadn't even noticed. His muscles had though, they felt like rubber. He was incredibly out of shape and it showed. He wasn't sure he'd be able to get back into shape before the competition.
"That was great Mr. Nanase," he heard.
He looked up quickly to see his coach walking up to him.
"You didn't beat your previous times, I'd been surprised if you had, but you did come pretty close to matching it."
He turned to look at the clock slowly and blinked. For as out of shape as he was, his time was pretty good.
"Keep that up and we'll be great when we travel to Kyoto," the coach said with a smirk. "I don't think I have to tell you that you're on the roster."
"Coach...there has to be someone else, I'm too out of shape," he said softly.
"Guess you better spend some extra time working on that then," the coach said waving him off. "Have a good day Mr. Nanase."
Haru groaned heading for the showers. His coach had too much faith in him. He knew he wasn't in the shape to be in a competition. He could tell by how his body was shaking after just that hour of swimming. He wasn't even pushing himself. In a competition he'd be lost.
"Did you just leave the house or something, your hair is soaked."
"Ah, how'd it go?" Asuka asked.
They were at the cafe down the street from Makoto and Haru's apartment. Asuka had offered to meet him for coffee when Haru text him that he needed someone to talk to. Asuka seemed like someone that would understand what Haru was trying to tell him about his relationship with Makoto and he needed someone to talk to desperately. He wanted to know what he should do.
"About as well as expected."
"Well, at least it didn't go poorly."
Haru nodded slowly looking into his cup of coffee.
"What is it Haru?"
"It's about Makoto."
"We uh...we decided to try dating."
"You did?! That's fantastic Haru! Now why do you look like someone killed your favorite cat," he asked leaning back in his chair.
"I don't know how long it's going to last," Haru said softly.
"I...I think Makoto might have been right, about me being asexual."
"He thinks your asexual?"
"He has for a while I think, and the more I think about it, the more I think he's right."
"And you think Makoto is going to leave because of this?"
"I wouldn't blame him if he does. He deserves better. He's sacrificed so much for me over the years, how can I possibly expect him to sacrifice anything else?"
"I think Makoto would willingly sacrifice sex to be with you." Asuka said smiling at him.
"You do? Why?"
"Haru, Makoto stuck by you while you were at your worst. You were an emotional wreck and he helped piece you back together, " Asuka said softly. There was an earnestness to his voice that Haru had never heard before. "That kind of devotion doesn't disappear. I doubt your lack of interest in sex, especially after what happened to you, will change his feelings for you."
Haru looked at him slowly, considering his words.
"You really think so?"
"I guarantee it."
Haru sighed before finishing his coffee as he mulled it over. He knew he was probably making a bigger deal out of it than he should, but he couldn't help but feel guilty. He loved Makoto, more than he thought possible. Makoto deserved to be in a relationship that would make him happy and Haru couldn't help but feel like he was holding Makoto back. Haru felt selfish knowing he felt the way he did.
"You need to talk to Makoto about this Haru, and soon. He deserves to have all the cards laid out."
"I...I know. I just, I don't want to lose him," Haru said quietly.
"I honestly don't think you will."
"I hope not," Haru said, jumping when his phone went off.
He paused at the number he saw on the screen, feeling the color drain from his face.
"Haru, what is it?"
"I...it's the detective," he said slowly answering his phone.
"Hello, I'm looking for Haruka Nanase," a female voice said over the line.
"Th...this is him," Haru said feeling himself go cold.
"This is Detective Hashimoto Mr. Nanase," he heard. "I'm afraid we need you to come down to the station."
"Is there a problem?" Haru hated the tremor he could hear in his voice.
"No, there's no problem, but we think we caught the guys," she said quietly. "We need you to come down to the station to help identify them."
Haru froze, phone slipping from his hand clattering to the ground.
Asuka's voice sounded like it was coming through a tunnel. It couldn't be true. After everything he'd been through, after he finally began to move past the nightmares and the terror he'd been left in, he was going to have to face it all again. He began gasping for air, laying his head on the table in front of him.
Makoto smiled as he pulled the tray from the oven. He wasn't sure if the cookies he'd mixed would taste as good as they looked, but he hoped Haru appreciated the effort. Haru usually did all the baking, ever since they were young, but he knew Haru would be worn out after his first swim practice in weeks and he wanted to surprise him. He could tell something was bothering Haru the last couple of days, and he wanted to help cheer him up.
He put the cookies on the rack to cool, and turned confused when his phone rang. He rarely got phone calls during the week. His family usually waited until the weekends to contact him so he had time to focus on school work, and Nagisa and he usually talked through Skype or text.
He picked it up blinking when he saw Asuka's name on the screen.
"Makoto! Thank god. It's Asuka, I need your help."
"What is it?"
"It's Haru...I think...I think he's having a panic attack."
"Where are you," Makoto asked quickly going to slip his shoes on.
He hadn't seen Haru suffer from his anxiety since they'd gotten back from vacation. He'd become a pro at managing it himself. Something really awful must have happened to make him have an episode.
"We're at the cafe down the street from your new apartment. Please hurry."
"I'll be there in a second."
Makoto hung up pulling his shoes on and hurried out the front door. He ran down the steps of their apartment building and down the street to the cafe. By time time he got inside he was panting for breath. he quickly scanned the room seeing Asuka waving him towards them. Haru had his face laying on the glass table top and Makoto could see from where he was standing that he was gasping for air.
He walked up to them kneeling by Haru's chair.
"Haru? Haru-chan, it's me," he said softly reaching up to touch Haru's cheek.
"Ma...koto," Haru said softly in between pants.
"Yes Haru, it's me," Makoto said softly. "I need you to focus on breathing. You're safe here. Breath with me Haru, come on."
Haru looked up at him slowly beginning to take deep breaths.
"That's it Haru, come on, you can do this." Makoto said softly rubbing his back gently. "Asuka, will you get me a bottle of water for him."
"Sure," Asuka said softly getting up walking to the counter.
By the time he came back Haru was visibly calmer, the dazed look in his eyes had cleared and his breathing had evened out.
"Here Haru," Asuka said sitting beside him handing him the water.
"Thank you," Haru said refusing to meet his gaze.
"You've nothing to be embarrassed about Haru," Makoto said softly. "What happened?"
Haru hesitated looking at the bottle of water in his hands, beginning to peel the label with shaky hands.
"Drink it Haru, you need it," Makoto said softly.
"The detective called," Haru said softly slowly uncapping the water bottle. "They think they caught them."
"Yes," Haru said before taking a large gulp of water.
"And they caught the men who attacked you?"
Makoto touched his arm gently.
"Isn't that something wonderful?"
"They want me to come in and identify them."
Makoto's jaw dropped. They really couldn't expect Haru to go in and look at the faces of the men who haunted his nightmares for over a month. He was just beginning to get back to his every day life, surely they realize how awful it would be for Haru to face those men.
"I can't do it Makoto," Haru said and hated the way his voice trembled and his eyes filled with tears. "I can't face them again."
Makoto shook his head reaching over to give Haru's hands a gentle squeeze.
"You won't go alone," Makoto said softly.
Haru looked up at him in surprise.
"No, I'll be with you."
Haru sighed, before nodding slowly. There was no way he could put it off. Detective Hashimoto needed him to identify the guys they had in custody.
"Call her back and tell her you'll be there tomorrow morning."
"Yes, I'm going to treat you to a nice relaxing dinner and night in before you have to face those sick bastards."
Makoto smiled slowly kissing his forehead before stepping back.
Asuka looked at Makoto with a small smile as Haru leaned down to pick his phone back up, stepping away to call the detective back.
"Thank you Makoto, I couldn't get him to calm down," Asuka said softly.
"His anxiety can be pretty intense. I can't believe they called and told him over the phone instead of telling him in person." Makoto said shaking his head.
Asuka shook his head before slowly.
"I guess they don't realize just how scary it can all be.
Makoto nodded slowly watching Haru quietly.
"Congratulations on you two by the way," Asuka told him. "Haru says you'e dating."
Makoto felt a small grin slide across his face. Haru had told Asuka they were together. That meant that whatever Haru was upset about lately wasn't whether or not he'd made a mistake by kissing Makoto. Makoto had been afraid that things would take that turn.
Haru walked back to the table quietly and Makoto looked up at him expectantly.
"I have to be there by 10 am tomorrow," Haru said sitting down in his seat.
"Good, then it's just you and me for the evening," Makoto said with a smile putting his hand on Haru's caressing it gently.
Haru looked up at him slowly, eyes wide and Makoto realized he still wasn't over his anxiety attack. He laced his fingers with Haru's giving his hand a squeeze.
"Come on Haru, let's go home, where you can unwind and relax."
Haru looked at Asuka slowly who smiled at him.
"We can get coffee another time Haru. Besides, I wouldn't have invited you and not Makoto if I knew you two were dating. That's not cool."
"I trust you both," Makoto said with a laugh leading Haru out the cafe.
Makoto slipped his arm around Haru's waist, holding him closer to his side as they walked down the street. He could feel that Haru was still trembling from his anxiety attack, and he hoped being at the apartment would help relax him. He kissed the top of his head before leading him upstairs to the apartment.
He gently pushed Haru onto the couch before going into the kitchen. He made Haru a glass of tea and put some of the cookies he made onto a saucer before joining him on the couch.
"Where'd the cookies come from," Haru asked softly.
"I was hoping to surprise you with them when you got home from practice," Makoto told him.
Haru smiled slowly leaning forward taking one off the saucer biting into it.
"They're...really good," Haru said quietly.
"....How bad are they?"
"Not at all," Haru said curling into his side finishing the cookie. "Thank you Makoto."
"Anything for you Haru," Makoto said softly kissing his forehead.
They sat there a long time, with Makoto holding Haru trying to get him to relax. Haru buried his face into Makoto's chest clinging to him.
Finally he pulled away to look up at Makoto. Makoto looked back at him with a small smile touching his cheek.
"Makoto, there's something we need to talk about," he said softly.
Makoto pulled back looking at him nervously. Maybe Haru really was regretting kissing him.
"Haru-chan, what is it," he asked softly.
"I...remember when you asked me if I was asexual," Haru began.
"I...at the time I wasn't sure, but...you were right," Haru said looking up at him.
Haru nodded biting his lip looking down at his lap.
"Why do you look so upset about that?"
"Because, you have sacrificed so much for me, and..."
"Haru..." Makoto sighed pulling Haru into his arms again. "Nothing I've ever done for you is a sacrifice. I'm happy to do it. And who cares if you're asexual? You still have feelings for me right?"
Haru nodded into his chest slowly.
"That's all that matters."
"But...what about sex? I know you'll want..."
"That is a conversation we'll have together if it ever causes a problem," Makoto said softly touching his cheek. "Right now, that's the last thing I'm worried about."
"Makoto, that's something we have to consider now," Haru said softly. "It wouldn't be right for you to be stuck in a relationship without knowing whether or not it's right for you."
"Haru, being with you is right for me," he said kissing him softly. "Right now, for me, this is enough."
Haru looked up at him slowly trying to read the expression on his face. Makoto really did look like he was telling the truth.
Haru smiled a bit letting Makoto pulled him in for another kiss, wrapping his arms around him.
I don't even know how to explain this long absence. It started because I had a bout if inspiration on the other fic I was working on at the time for Fairy Tail. I wanted to finish it before I returned to this story, so I could keep my drive to finish it. This chapter just felt so stilted to me. It drove me nuts. I did, however, change the set up of the chapters and post a new Chapter One a couple weeks ago, that actually shows the MakoHaru kiss that started this whole adventure.
Soon after I finished that story my brother got 3rd degree burns over 30% of his body because a gas can blew up in his hands. We had to focus on his healing. Couple that with the fact that I simply didn't have the energy to write and it was disaster.
After all this I found myself addicted to the television series Shadowhunters, and the book series The Mortal Instruments, (Malec for life!). And then Pokemon GO came out, and I work at a University with 20 Pokestops and 6 gyms, so I might have been a little addicted to that. It took up weeks of my life...
AND THEN! (Picture Happy from Fairy Tail) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. MY GOD! Three words: Snape ships it. And Suicide Squad...Deadpool and Harley were so cute...
I know some of these are really poor excuses and I feel awful for having made you wait so long...I am so sorry!
Another note: I know nothing about the Japanese court system. This is all based off crime dramas I've watched. Which are American based. Sorry if this confuses anyone. There was going to be another section to this chapter, but it didn't fit. This just seemed like the perfect place to end it, and I am convinced it is the longer chapter I have written for this story. I hope you guys like it. I look forward to your reviews! (I hope to have this story finished in the next three weeks because after that Fall Classes start.) No promises though.
Haru sighed leaning down to finish tying his shoe. He couldn't force Makoto to wait any longer. He knew he was dragging his feet getting ready, but he couldn't force himself to move any faster. Just going through the motions was hard enough for him. He was dreading the trip down to the station. He'd barely slept all night knowing what he was going to be facing when he got to the station. He only hoped it didn't go as badly as his gut told him it would.
"Haru-chan, are you ready?" Makoto called as he stepped into the room.
Makoto sighed walking up to him putting his hand on his shoulder giving it a squeeze.
"I will be with you the entire time Haru," Makoto said softly.
"I know, I just..."
Makoto pulled Haru into his arms as he broke off with a sigh.
Haru buried his face in Makoto's shoulder, taking a deep breath to steady himself as Makoto rubbed his back gently.
"We should go," he said, as he finally pulled away. "She said ten, and we don't want to be late."
"Make them wait if you need to. They shouldn't force you to do something like this."
Haru offered him a weak smile of gratitude before standing up.
"So...this is probably a really bad time to tell you that Kisumi called, huh?" Makoto asked as he followed Haru through the apartment.
Makoto had known that Haru wouldn't have been exactly thrilled that he mentioned Kisumi, but he could have kicked himself for the way that Haru tensed as soon as the name came out of his mouth.
"Kisumi?" Haru echoed, feigning nonchalance.
"Y...yeah, he wanted to know if we wanted to meet him for coffee, or something."
"We don't have to, if you don't want," Makoto offered quietly looking over at him. "I know he's always made you uncomfortable."
Haru let out a puff of irritated air.
"He's always...touching me," he said and Makoto couldn't help but grin slowly.
"He never understood you were not an affectionate person, and he liked you."
"That doesn't give him the right to always put his hands on me," Haru muttered as he walked out the door.
"You never complained when I put my arm around you," Makoto pressed on playfully. He wouldn't normally push the subject, but it was distracting Haru from their destination and Makoto was glad to see the tension draining from Haru's body.
"Because..." Haru started, but cut himself off with a blush.
"Because? Perhaps you enjoyed my arms around you? Even back then?" Makoto asked, as he slid up behind Haru, wrapping his arms around his waist.
Haru sighed happily, relaxing against Makoto, even as his cheeks flushed brighter.
"Perhaps." He finally said, before looking around embarrassed. "Makoto, people are staring."
Makoto chuckled softly, kissing Haru affectionately before letting him go, ignoring the stares they received from people on the streets.
"I thought, if we did wind up meeting Kisumi for lunch, we could possibly introduce him to Asuka..." Makoto said quietly looking over at Haru.
"Asuka?" Haru asked looking up at Makoto confused. "Why Asuka?"
"Well...it's obvious that Asuka is lonely, and Kisumi isn't a bad looking guy...wait...you did know Kisumi was gay, right?"
"I'm not that blind," Haru said rolling his eyes. "I figured he was. You want to hook him up with Asuka?"
Makoto glanced over at Haru slowly, noticing the tone in his voice.
"Are you okay with that?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" Haru asked as he stopped on the sidewalk to look up at him.
"You just sounded...off, that's all."
"I just don't know if Kisumi is his type is all," Haru said with a shrug. "Asuka and I don't talk about that kind of thing much."
"No offense to Asuka, but I'm not so sure he has a type," Makoto said with a grin that slowly slid of his face as he saw the way Haru was frowning. "Haru?"
"Does that idea of hooking Asuka up with someone bother you?"
"Bother...are you asking if I'm jealous?" Haru asked incredulously.
"Asuka is just my friend Makoto. I thought you said you trusted me," Haru said looking at him, and Makoto winced at hurt expression on his face.
"I do trust you Haru. It's just...it seems like the thought of hooking Asuka up with someone really bothers you."
"Not someone. Kisumi, who drove me crazy while we were in school, and who we're not even sure Asuka will like."
"Well, isn't it worth a shot to try? Asuka deserves to find someone great."
"You and I have differing opinions on people who are great," Haru replied with a sigh looking up at him. "But fine, go ahead and invite them to coffee this weekend. If it goes badly, it's your fault."
Makoto grinned kissing his cheek before pulling out his phone to text both Asuka and Kisumi. He knew the two of them would hit it off, he just had to convince Haru of that.
"Sorry to make you do this Mr. Nanase," Detective Hashimoto said, leading them through the police station. "If we could avoid this step of the process, I would. But we need these suspects identified. A handful of other men are going to identify them as well."
"Other victims?" Haru asked quietly.
"Yes, they're already sitting in one of our meeting rooms. You'll join them while we wait. Makoto can go with you of course. None of you guys will be able to speak to each other once the process begins, to avoid accusations of bias in the courtroom."
"Is it really a good idea to bring all their victims together in one room? Won't that be a little...overwhelming for them?" Makoto asked softly.
"Unfortunately, this is a small station and it's either that or they wait out here in front of the rest of the station," the detective said, sighing unhappily.
Haru took a moment to fully take in her appearance. The last time he'd seen the detective she'd been frazzled, but she'd looked healthy. Now she looked like she hadn't slept in a week and her skin had taken on an unhealthy pale complexion.
"I'll be fine Makoto," Haru said touching his shoulder gently.
The detective smiled at him gratefully before leading him to a small room where a group of men were crowded around a wooden table. Haru looked around quietly before finding himself and Makoto a seat. Makoto reached over giving his hand a squeeze, as the other men in the room eyed them warily.
"Well, this is awkward," one of the men finally said, breaking the silence, a blonde with a scar across one of his cheeks.
Makoto chuckled softly lacing his fingers with Haru's.
"Only a lot," another voice responded.
This guy was younger, probably the same age as Haru, and was still wearing bandages on parts of his body. He had red hair that was covered by a ball cap that he wore pulled down, covering his eyes from view.
"Why do they need all of us to identify these guys?" A darker haired man asked from the corners.
"Because the case would be too weak without all of us," the young one replied. "If only two people identify these jerks, then the defense will say it's a coincidence."
"Detective Hashimoto has worked on this case non-stop for nine months, she isn't going to take any risks. She wants to put these men away for good. Almost as much as we do." The blonde said standing up walking to the door to look out the small window.
"No one is cutting her down Kaito," the red head said softly. "We know how hard she has worked."
Kaito walked back to his seat quietly.
"I'm just ready for this to all be over with, so I can get back to my real life."
Haru looked at Makoto quietly giving his hand a squeeze.
"I think that's what we all want," he said, addressing the group quietly.
The red head gave him an encouraging smile leaning back in his seat before turning back to Kaito.
"Stop looking at me like that Taisei, I'm fine."
"Did...you two know each other before today," Makoto asked quietly.
"No...we just got here before everyone else," Taisei said quietly. "Kinda talked his ear off to kill the awkward silence. What about you two?"
"Oh...Makoto's not a witness," Haru said quickly shaking his head. "He's..."
"Moral support?" Kaito asked with a small smile. "Boyfriend?"
Haru nodded slowly, face flushing a bit. He still wasn't used to talking about his relationship with other people.
"You're lucky," Kaito said leaning back in his chair. "My boyfriend broke up with me shortly after I got out the hospital. He couldn't handle the nightmares."
"Douche," Taisei muttered under his breath, and Kaito laughed loudly.
"Welcome to social hour," the dark haired man muttered.
"Oh relax Kosei," another voice chimed in. "It's better than waiting in silence, feeling like we're walking to an execution or something."
"Thanks Naoko." Kaito said with a grin before turning towards the door as it opened slowly.
"Mr. Hayatta," Detective Hashimoto said, poking her head into the room. "Are you read?"
"No time like the present," Kaito said, full of bravado, but Haru was sure he saw the man's hands trembling.
"Stay calm Kaito," Taisei said softly.
Kaito smiled back at them encouragingly as the detective led Kaito from the room. Haru took a deep breath as he watched Kaito walk away, feeling his breath constrict.
"M...Makoto," he said softly, reaching for his hand again.
"Haru? Are you okay?" Makoto asked leaning forward, eyes full of concern.
Haru shook his head quickly as his breathing started to speed up, and Makoto felt his stomach plummet. He wasn't sure he could pull Haru out of a panic attack when they were in such a syressful situation.
"I...I don't think I can do this," he said softly beginning to breath harshly.
Makoto touched his cheek, turning Haru's face to look into his eyes.
"Haru, focus on me. I need you to focus on me. Forget why we're here. We'll leave if you need to. No one is going to force you to go in there."
The one they called Kosei got up touching Makoto's shoulder gently as he walked by.
"I'll go get him some water," he said as Makoto glanced at him, before disappearing from the room.
"Haru? Can you hear me?" Makoto asked, returning his attention to Haru.
Haru nodded slowly as his fingers began to tremble. Makoto reached down to give one of Haru's hand's another squeeze, trying to reassure him. He could see his breathing start to even out and felt himself relax as Haru began to calm himself down.
"Take some deep breaths Haru. Everything is fine," he said softly trying to encourage him.
"Do you want us to step out?" Taisei offered quietly. "I'm sure they'll understand if we step out for a second while he calms down."
Haru shook his head slowly taking a deep breath. He could feel his cheeks flush with embarrassment. He hadn't meant to draw so much attention to himself.
"N...no," Haru said quietly. "I'll be okay. I...I didn't mean to cause a scene."
"If anyone understands, it would be us," Kosei said from beside them causing Makoto to jump. He hadn't even seen the other man walk back into the room. "Here, I'm sure you need this."
Haru blinked at the man in surprise as he took the bottle of water from him.
"No problem." Kosei said with a shrug going back to his seat. "That's pretty impressive, managing to bring him from a panic attack like that."
"I didn't do anything," Makoto said with a smile at Haru. "He does that on his own. I just give him something to focus on."
"Oh good lord, you two are that kind of couple..."
"What kind of couple?" Haru asked curiously.
"Ignore him, he's just being an ass." Naoko said with a laugh. "If you don't learn anything else today, remember that Kosei is an ass."
Haru blinked before leaning back in his chair taking a calming breath.
"Does anyone know what order the detective is going to use to call us back?" he asked softly.
"My guess is chronological order. Kaito was their first victim. Or at least the first one to report the attack."
"Which would mean Naoko is next," Kosei said looking over at him.
"And I'm last...obviously," Taisei said looking down at the cast on his arm.
Haru followed his gaze before looking at his own recently healed arm. He could still remember how much it bothered him to have one arm that wasn't functioning properly.
"You'll be after Naoko I'm sure," Kosei said quietly, looking at Haru. "Detective Hashimoto told me there were three other victims when she took my statement."
Haru opened his mouth to respond when there was another gentle knock on the door and the detective stuck her head inside of the room.
"Mr. Kido, are you ready?" She asked gently.
"As I'll ever be," Naoko said with a sigh following her out the room.
Haru swallowed slowly, looking back at Makoto.
"You'll be fine Haru...I'll be with you the whole time."
Haru nodded looking down at the table nervously.
"You really are lucky you know?" Taisei said, looking at Haru with a small smile. "I can't imagine being with someone as supportive."
"Th...thank you," Haru said quietly, feeling his cheeks warm. Despite being used to people staring at him while he was swimming, he still wasn't comfortable with people paying so much attention to him.
Taisei smiled a bit leaning back in his seat slowly.
"I was talking to Kaito before everyone showed up about perhaps all of us getting together sometime, not just at a police station, but like a coffee shop or a restaurant, so we could talk..." he said nervously.
"That sounds like a horrible idea."
Haru looked at Kosei quickly. He had come to expect the man to be blunt, but he hadn't expected the anger. Taisei looked up at him slowly, swallowing a bit.
"The last thing any of us need to do is constantly remember what happened to us, and looking at each other is going to cause exactly that," Kosei continued.
"But...we understand each other. We all know what we've been through, and all of us are in different stages of healing, it might help to talk to each other. Who else is going to understand us?"
"Taisei, that's not the point..." Kosei started, but cut himself off when Detective Hashimoto knocked on the door and poked her head inside the room.
"Mr. Nanase, are you ready?"
"Y...yeah," Haru said standing slowly.
"I can go if you want to take another few minutes to yourself?" Kosei offered softly.
Haru shook his head slowly.
"I'll be okay." He said before walking up to Taisei. "If you really want to talk to someone, call me okay?"
Taisei looked at him in surprise as he wrote his number down.
"Thank you," he said softly.
Haru gave him a small smile before walking towards the door with Makoto at his side.
"That was great Haru," Makoto said softly putting his hand on Haru's back.
"I'm sure he needs someone to talk to," Haru replied as he focused on following the detective.
Makoto smiled slowly, lacing his fingers with Haru's and giving his hand a squeeze. Haru squeezed back willing himself to stay calm as he followed Detective Hashimoto into a small room with a long glass window at one side. There was a lawyer, or at least Haru assumed a lawyer standing in the corner with a file full of papers in his hands.
"What we're going to do Haru is bring in a line of men numbered 1 through 7 to stand against the wall on the other side of the glass. They won't be able to see you, and we hope you'll be able to identify one of them as one of your attackers." She said softly. "We'll do this one at a time, so after the first group leaves a second one will come through with hopefully the other attacker among them."
She sighed leaning against the glass.
"And then we have to build a bullet proof case against them, so they can finally go to jail for their crimes."
"And I'll have to testify?"
"Hopefully all of you will be prepared to testify."
Haru took a deep breath then nodded.
The detective turned to a speaker on the wall slowly and pressed the intercom.
"Bring in the first group please."
Haru watched as the door opened an a line of men slowly walked into the room holding up numbered signs. Makoto reached for his hand giving it a squeeze as Haru examined the faces of the men standing in front of him. He wasn't sure he'd fine the right man among them until he came across a bearded face near the end of the line. The man may have grown a beard and may look different in the light, but Haru would recognize that face anywhere.
"F...Five...Number Five is one of the men who raped me," he gasped out softly.
Detective Hasimoto looked at the lawyer before pressing the intercom once again.
"Next group please."
Haru moved closer to Makoto as the men filed out, before a new group of men walked into the room. Once again, Haru found himself examining the men carefully, although this time it was much easier for him to pick the face her was looking for out of the crowd.
"Number three, for sure."
"Did you catch that?" the detective asked looking at the lawyer.
Detective Hashimoto gave Haru an encouraging smile before leading him from the room.
"You were wonderful," she said softly. "I wish you were done and could put all this behind you."
"So do I," he said softly. "But at least you caught them, right?"
"With your help, and the help of the others, these case should be open and shut."
Haru was trying to put on a calm exterior, but the thought of testifying was absolutely terrifying to him. It was bad enough seeing the two men through a glass window knowing they couldn't see him. He could not imagine how he'd react having to see them in the same room.
"Let's get out of here Haru," Makoto said softly wrapping his arm around his back.
Haru nodded gratefully leaning on him.
"Have a good day you two. Thank you again for coming in," the detective said as they walked to the door.
Makoto led Haru out of the station feeling him slowly relax the closer they got to the door. The short time they had been there had definitely taken its toll on Haru. He was glad they hadn't made any plans for the evening. It meant he could get Haru home and spend the day helping him wind down from the stressful morning. He stumbled as Haru paused on the top step, seeing Kaito sitting on the wall at the base of the stairs smoking.
"Kaito?" Haru asked softly.
Kaito looked up and gave him a small smile flicking his cigarette.
"Finally let you go, huh?"
Haru nodded slowly walking down the steps to him.
"You handle it okay?"
"Probably the same as you did." Haru said softly sitting on the wall beside him.
Kaito nodded slowly putting his cigarette out.
"Taking a moment to calm down before leaving?" Makoto asked joining them.
"No. That's what the cigarette was for," Kaito said with a forced laugh. "No. I told Taisei I'd wait out here for him. Kid needs someone to look out for him."
"Kid? He's probably my age," Haru said confused. "It's not like you're much older than us."
Kaito smirked at him slowly leaning back.
"No, I suppose not." He admitted looking at Haru. "Did he tell you about his little idea?"
"Of us all getting together?" Haru asked.
"What do you think?"
"I think it could be a terrible idea. But...he obviously needs someone to talk to," Haru said softly. "I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have Makoto to talk to about everything. So I gave him my number to call whenever he needs someone."
"I'm sure he'll appreciate it."
Haru nodded slowly feeling the awkwardness begin to creep over him. He looking at Makoto slowly, who stepping forward putting his hand on Haru's shoulder.
"Ready to get out of here?" He asked softly.
"Makoto," Kaito said suddenly sitting forward.
"Look after him. He's gonna need it."
"Oh, I intend to," Makoto said with a slow smile looking back at Haru.
"Makoto..." Haru said, a small blush spreading over his cheeks.
Makoto chuckled softly, leading Haru away from the police station.
I hope you enjoy this chapter. It wound up being a beast on my computer. 20 pages when most chapters are less than 10.
Haru could feel the hands on his body, gripping him tightly. The fingertips were digging into his hips, and he was certain there would be bruises. He tried to struggle, kicking out at the man above him, but he was immobilized, arms pinned above his head making it impossible for him to defend himself. He felt his stomach violently object as he smelled the breath of the man pinning him to the ground and started struggling again when he felt hands slip under his shirt. He cried out in pain as he felt a boot connected with his side and the man pinning him to the ground slammed the back of his head into the asphalt underneath him.
Haru’s eyes flew open as he shot up in bed panting. He could feel his skin drenched with sweat, hair plastered to his forehead. Makoto slowly rolled towards him, eyes blinking opening sleepily.
“It’s okay Makoto,” Haru said, hoping he could make his voice sound more even. “It was just a dream.”
Makoto sait up slowly, eyebrows drawing together in concern. He reached out, brushing Haru’s hair off his forehead and frowned.
“Haru, you’re drenched in sweat.”
“Makoto, please, just drop it.”
Makoto sighed before nodding.
Haru knew Makoto wasn’t content to leave it there and he’d been relentless in the past few weeks when it came trying to get him to talk, especially about his nightmares. Haru felt bad, knowing that his nightmares didn’t just affect him alone. Every time he woke up in the middle of the night, Makoto woke up as well, but he wasn’t ready to talk about them. He wanted time to process his own emotions before pushing them off on Makoto.
“I’m getting in the shower,” he said, slipping out of bed.
He grabbed his clothes and headed for the bathroom without waiting for Makoto’s reply. He appreciated Makoto’s concern and it meant a lot to him that the other boy wanted to make sure he was okay, but he did not want to focus on his dreams. As long as he didn’t bring them up he could forget about them shortly after waking up. If he took the time to describe them to Makoto, they would sit with him for the rest of the day and he didn’t know how to explain that without hurting Makoto’s feelings. He didn’t want Makoto thinking he was making Haru’s nightmares worse. He sighed before undressing and stepping into the shower hoping the hot water would make him up and wash the remnants of the dreams from his mind.
By the time he stepped out the shower he could smell the breakfast that Makoto had started and his stomach gave an appreciative growl. He dried off and dressed before walking to their kitchen area slowly. He wasn’t sure what Makoto’s mood would be like after Haru brushed his concern off. He knew Makoto wouldn’t be angry with him but he dreaded the idea that he’d hurt the other boy’s feelings. Makoto had been more than supportive and loving, and sometimes Haru felt as if he deserved better than putting up with Haru’s mood swings.
He took a deep breath and sat down at the counter where Makoto had sat their breakfast, looking up at him slowly. Makoto looked up at him with a small smile pushing his plate closer.
“I know you get tired of hearing me ask, but I just want to make sure you’re okay Haru,” he said softly. “I don’t want you pushing yourself too hard. We can always cancel our plans for the day.”
“Makoto, I’m fine, honestly,” he said, reaching out giving Makoto’s hand a squeeze. “Besides, everyone is looking forward to today.”
Makoto looked at him concerned for a moment before nodding, starting on his own breakfast. Haru let out a relieved breath before beginning to eat. He wasn’t lying to Makoto. His dream had shaken him up a bit, but once he’d woken up and remembered where he was and who he was with, the fear had left him and his shower had helped with any residual emotions. He was in no way over what had happened to him two months ago, but he was learning to leave with it and he wasn’t going to cancel his plans for the day because of a bad dream.
Makoto’s plan to introduce Asuka and Kisumi had expanded to Haru inviting Rei, Nagisa and Kisumi to Tokyo for a visit. Rin was already going to be in Tokyo for a swimming competition, so it seemed like a perfect time for all of them to get together. A couple days after Makoto had suggested introducing the two, an arcade had opened down the block from his and Haru’s apartment, and Haru had jumped on the opportunity to invite his friends over. He’d been looking for a way to make up the disaster that had been the Obon festival to his friends and this was his chance. He had a ton of money set back from his parents’ monthly checks and he wanted to do something nice for them all. They were all riding in on the train that morning and were going to crash at Makoto and Haru’s apartment for the weekend. It was going to be a tight fit, but with Haru and Makoto sharing his room most nights they would be able to find room for everyone. Haru was more than a little glad it wasn’t just Kisumi joining them.
“It was just a nightmare,” he said, when he felt Makoto’s eyes on him once more. “I can’t put my life on hold every time I have a bad dream.”
Makoto sighed picking up his empty plate, leaning over to kiss Haru’s cheek.
“I know Haru,” he said softly before carrying his plate to the sink.
He came back to the table putting his hands on Haru’s shoulders rubbing them gently.
“I’m sorry if I’m being overbearing. I just want you to know that I’m here for you.”
“I know you are Makoto, but I have to be strong enough to stand on my own as well.”
Makoto sighed looking down at Haru slowly. He had to admit Haru looked a lot better than he had when he first woke up. His cheeks had color in them again and his eyes had returned to their normal brightness.
“So, are you ready for the day then?” He asked with a small smile, trying to lighten the mood.
“I’m already exhausted thinking about it,” Haru said with a soft laugh.
Makoto chuckled stepping back from Haru to let him finish his breakfast.
They began their day as they had for every day for the last few weeks. They got coffee at the café down the street for their apartment and waited for Asuka to join them. It was almost unsettling how easily Asuka had wormed his way into their life. When Haru had first begun talking to him he hadn’t expected Asuke to become such an integral part of their lives but he couldn’t find it in him to be unhappy about how things had worked out. The over the top flirt definitely keep things interesting.
“Good morning love birds,” Asuka cried as he sat down across from them.
“How do you have so much energy before you even drink your coffee?”
“It’s a super power,” he replied with a playful wink at Haru.
Makoto laughed softly pushing a cup towards Asuka.
“Awe! You have my order memorized,” Asuka said with a dramatic sigh. “You are definitely husband material.”
Makoto shook his head, trying and failing to keep the grin from his face.
“That’s it,” Haru growled to Makoto. “He’s an alien. There’s no way he’s human if he wakes up with that much energy.”
Asuka laughed loudly before picking up the latte Makoto had ordered for him.
“All joking aside, you’re in an incredibly chipper mood this morning. Anything we should know about?” Makoto asked with a small smile.
“Nothing important,” Asuka shrugged. “Went out last night, had a great time at the club.”
“Really?” Haru asked with a small smile. “Did you meet anyone?”
“Haru dear, I told you. You don’t go to a club to meet someone. At least not someone you plan to spend more than a few hours with,” Asuka said with a laugh. “I had a great time dancing though. There was this incredibly sexy man that I got to spend some time on the dance floor with. One more drink and I would’ve woken up in his bed, I’m sure of it.”
Haru couldn’t stop the laugh that forced its way out of his mouth. He didn’t necessarily understand Asuka’s fascination with night clubs, he wasn’t a dancer and the thought of being trapped between so many bodies on the dance floor filled him with anxiety, but he could remember how alive Asuka had looked when they’d met that night at Attitudes. Dancing was something that filled Asuka with spirit and his energy was simply infectious.
“What’d he look like?” Haru asked, leaning forward and Makoto looked at him in surprise. “What? I’m curious.”
“Hmm…He had dark wavy hair, was taller than I am,” Asuka said with a grin. “He was a little fidgety at first, like he wasn’t sure he wanted to be there but he loosened up after a song or too. I caught his name at one point, but I’ve forgotten it now. Guess it’s a good thing I didn’t go home with him.”
Haru laughed softly as he finished his coffee.
“I guess so,” he said as he checked the time on his watch. “We better get to the train station. Nagisa and Rei will be arriving soon.”
“Ooh, that’s right! I get to meet all your friends from back home today,” Asuka exclaimed, eyes shining.
“Are you coming with us to the train station?”
“Am I invited?”
“Of course you’re invited Asuka, but we’re leaving now, so you better get in gear.”
“But! I haven’t even started my coffee!”
“It’s not our fault you woke up late,” Haru said. “You stayed out to late with tall, dark, and handsome.”
“Sexy, not handsome, and it was totally worth it,” Asuka with a dreamy sigh before taking a large gulp of his coffee.
Haru rolled his eyes as he walked out of the coffee shop with Makoto, Asuka hurrying after them. He looked at Makoto with an amused smile and slipped his hand into his.
“Oh great, now I’m the third wheel,” Asuka pouted.
Makoto winked at Haru before turning to Asuka, looping his arm through his.
“Don’t worry Asuka, there’s plenty of room for you too,” he drawled playfully.
“And now it just got awkward…”
Haru looked pass Makoto to see the wide eyed look Asuka was giving them and laughed loudly.
“Oh relax Asuka, Makoto is just joking.”
Haru shook his head, leaning against Makoto with a smile. He felt Makoto’s fingers slide through his hair and sighed softly. Between the talk with Makoto and Asuka’s antics, the tension of the morning had all but drained from his body and now he was simply looking forward to seeing his friends again. It’d been a long time since they’d gone home for the holidays and this time he could spend time with them and not be in pain. He’d felt awful when they’d gotten back from the last vacation and he realized how horrible he’d been around them. Makoto had assured him they understood, but he still wanted to make it up to them.
The rest of their short walk to the train station was done in silence. Makoto kept glancing over at Haru who seemed to be filled with a nervous sort of energy. He kept running his hands together and fidgeting with his clothes. Asuka, on the other side of him, seemed to have burnt through his extra energy, but Makoto knew better. The minute the others showed up Asuka would be back to his normal self. Makoto was going to enjoy the short reprieve while it lasted because he was certain having both Nagisa and Asuka in the same room was going to be a special kind of hell.
They reached the station just minutes before Nagisa, Rei and Kisumi’s train was set to arrive. Makoto had not missed the way Haru had failed to mention Kisumi would be joining them for the afternoon as well. He couldn’t blame him. He knew exactly how Haru felt about Kisumi and he was certain the boy was trying to forget Kisumi even existed.
Haru stood up straighter when they heard the horn announce the imminent arrival of the train and Makoto chuckled under his breath. He had not realized how excited Haru was about Nagisa and Rei’s visit. He knew he’d been looking forward to it, but he was surprised by how anxious he was acting.
Haru began to pace impatiently as the train pulled into the stop and Makoto reached out to touch his shoulder gently, attempting to calm him down. Haru turned to him slowly and Makoto pulled him into his arms with a smile.
“Relax Haru. It’s just Nagisa and Rei….and Kisumi.”
Haru groaned leaning his head back against Makoto’s chest.
“I forgot you invited him.”
“You told me I could.”
“I know…” he said. “That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Makoto laughed softly running his fingers through Haru’s hair affectionately.
The shout was the only warning they received before Makoto was knocked back from Haru as Nagisa jumped on him, wrapping his legs around Haru’s waist and his arms around Haru’s neck. Haru turned alarmed eyes on Makoto as he attempted to hold Nagisa up as the blond hugged him tightly.
“Nagisa! We talked about this on the train!” Rei’s voice called out.
“But Rei-chan, Haru-chan is fine,” Nagisa cried smiling back at the blue haired boy before turning back to Haru. “I missed you Haru-chan.”
“I missed you too Nagisa but you’re hurting my back,” Haru said softly, attempted to unwind Nagisa from his neck.
Nagisa giggled climbing down before turning to Makoto.
“Don’t even think about it Nagisa,” Makoto said with a soft laugh.
“Awe, but why?”
“You should just stick to greeting Rei like that. We’ll be fine with hugs.”
“I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind being greeted like that once in a while,” Asuka said from behind them with an amused laugh.
Haru turned to Asuka with a smile.
“Asuka, this is Nagisa and Rei, our friends from Iwatobi.”
“Nice to meet ya,” Nagisa called out happily.
“Hello,” Rei said with a small smile, his hand on Nagisa’s shoulder, holding the energetic boy in place.
“Awe, Haru! Aren’t you going to introduce me?” A voice said in Haru’s ear as he felt an arm wrap around his shoulders.
Haru searched out Makoto’s gaze as his hands clenched into fists at his sides. He took a couple deep breaths to calm himself, telling himself he knew it was just Kisumi standing beside him and this was no different from the million other times the boy had gotten to close.
“Move your hand,” he was finally able to bite out.
“Is that anyway to greet an old friend,” Kisumi pouted, pulling Haru closer to him.
Haru swallowed as he felt Kisumi’s arm tighten around him. Without his volition his mind flashed back to his dream earlier this morning, where he’d been restrained and unable to get away and his breaths started coming in shallow pants, despite his attempts to keep calm. He opened his mouth to respond but couldn’t find his voice.
“KIsumi, you need to let him go,” Makoto said, stepping closer.
“Awe, Makoto are you getting jealous?”
“Just let him go asshole,” Asuka growled, stepping up beside Makoto quickly. “Before you give him a panic attack.”
Kisumi released Haru, stepping back as if he’d been burned. Haru took a couple deep breaths, trying to calm his racing heart. Makoto reached out slowly, running his hand over Haru’s cheek gently.
“Are you okay?” He asked, trying to catch Haru’s gaze.
“Yeah…yeah, I’m okay,” he muttered, stepping closer to Makoto burying his face in his chest, trying to find a way to ground himself.
Makoto wrapped his arms around Haru protectively, rubbing his back gently.
“I…I’m sorry,” Kisumi sputtered nervously. “I’ve always greeted Haru like that.”
“Well, maybe you need to learn to back off the next time someone says they don’t like something,” Asuka snapped before turning to watch Haru in concern.
“Haru-chan, are you going to be okay?” Nagisa asked softly.
Haru took a deep breath, pulling out of Makoto’s embrace, hating himself for the tears he knew had filled his eyes.
“Yeah, I’m okay. I’m sorry for causing a scene like that,” he said, running his fingers through his hair before turning his gaze on Kisumi who shrunk back guiltily. “It’s not your fault Kisumi. Just somethings are harer for me to handle lately.”
“I’m sorry Haru. If I had known…”
“Honestly, you should have let him go the minute he said so,” Makoto cut in, slipping his arm around Haru’s waist protectively. “It would have gotten nearly as bad as it did if you had listened the first time.”
Kisumi swallowed a bit before nodding quickly.
“Anyway Kisumi, this is our friend Asuka,” Haru said clearing his throat. “Asuka, this is Kisumi.”
Asuka nodded slowly, glancing between Kisumi and Haru. It was clear he was still angry at Kisumi for ignoring their warnings.
“Ah, hello there Asuka,” Kisumi said, rubbing the back of his neck nervously.
“Are you sure you’re okay Haru,” Asuka asked, turning to him, placing his hand on Haru’s elbow gently.
“I’m fine Asuka,” Haru said with a small smile. “I’m sorry for worrying all of you. How about we put this behind us and get to the arcade? I’m sure Rin is waiting on us.”
“That’s probably a good idea,” Makoto agreed softly.
Haru gave him a small smile before walking away from the train station.
“Are we really going to ignore what just happened?” Asuka said, turning to Makoto slowly.
“Haru just wants to enjoy this day,” he said with a small smile. “I’m going to make sure he does.”
“Awe! You’re such a thoughtful boyfriend! Are you taking applications?” Asuka cried, fluttering his eyelashes playfully.
“Yes Haru darling, I’m on my way!” he cried, hurrying away from Makoto.
Makoto watched Asuka run to Haru’s side with a laugh before falling into step behind them.
“Well…he’s certainly interesting,” Kisumi said quietly, walking beside Makoto as Nagisa and Rei joined Haru and Asuka further ahead.
“Asuka’s pretty great.”
“Where’d you meet him?”
“Haru met him at one fo the local gay clubs about two months ago.”
Kisumi turned to him in surprise.
“Aren’t you and Haru dating?”
He went to a club without you?”
“We weren’t dating then,” Makoto shrugged. “We just started dating a couple weeks ago. Besides, Haru can do what he wants.”
“I’m sorry you and Asuke got off on the wrong foot…I was kind of hoping you two would hit it off.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was hoping to set you two up.”
“That wouldn’t work.”
“Well, for one I’m sure you noticed his crush on Haru,” Kisumi pointed out.
Makoto glanced at Kisumi quietly before looking back at Asuka, who had his arm looped through Haru’s, talking animatedly to Nagisa and Rei.
“Yeah, I’ve noticed he had feelings for Haru, but he’d never act on them. Not while Haru and I are together,” Makoto said with a smile. Asuka has encouraged our relationship since he met Haru. That’s one reason why I wanted to set him up with someone. I know he’s lonely.”
Kisumi nodded looking at others in front of him before turning to Makoto with a small smile.
“I’m also seeing someone,” Kisumi said shyly.
“You are? You’ve never mentioned it before.”
“I wasn’t sure how serious it was until recently.”
“Well…congratulations,” Makoto said with a smile. “I take it, it’s serious?”
“Yeah,” Kisumi said, cheeks flushing a bit, rubbing the back of his neck bashfully. “He’s older. He’s 26 and he has a 5-year-old daughter. He didn’t want to rush into anything at first.”
“You’re okay with that? Dating someone with a kid?”
“I wasn’t sure at first, but…I care about him a lot and we’re really good together. He introduced me to his daughter last weekend,” Kisumi said with a smile. “He said he wanted to be sure things between us would last before I met her. I really like her. She’s a sweet little girl.”
“That’s great Kisumi.”
Kisumi nodded before turning to look at Haru.
“Is Haru okay? I’ve never seen him look so vulnerable.”
“Something really terrible happened to him a couple months ago. He’s still recovering. Forgive Asuka’s temper. He’s just a really protective friend,” Makoto said with a small smile. “He’s really good for Haru. He’s a lot of fun to be around.”
“So…Haru doesn’t like many people touching him now?”
“Haru’s never liked other people touching him. He had a lot of anxiety problems when he was younger, but they lessened as he opened up to more people. Lately it’s returned and is about ten times worse than it used to be. The last time Nagisa hugged him he had a panic attack.” Makoto said sadly. “Somehow I always manage to calm him down.”
“That’s because you two were made for each other,” Kisumi said ruefully. “It’s always been Makoto and Haru. I used to be so jealous.”
“Because of Haru?”
“No. Because he had your undivided attention. That’s why I started hanging on him so much when we were younger,” Kisumi admitted. “I wanted you to notice me. Then it just became habit.”
Makoto looked at him in shock. He was used to people wanting Haru’s attention. That was just how things went. No one had ever admitted to having feelings for him, aside from Haru.
“Don’t worry. I’ve been over you for ages now,” Kisumi said laughing softly.
Makoto chuckled, smiling as Haru glanced back at him. He picked up his stride, catching up with the others, slipping his arm around Haru’s waist. Haru leaned against him with a smile and Nagisa giggled.
“You two are so sweet!”
“They’re sickenning, in the best way,” Asuka said, grinning at them fondly. “They’re always like this.”
Haru felt his face flush as they stopped in front of his and Makoto’s building.
“Come on, we’ll run your luggage up before heading to the arcade,” Makoto told the others, leading them to the elevator.
The five of them squeezed into the elevator, taking it to the floor Haru and Makoto’s room was on, walking down the hallway to their apartment. Makoto unlocked the door letting them inside.
“We know it’s small but there’s going to be plenty of room for everyone. Rin will be staying at the hotel with the rest of his swim team so that means it’s just going to be the five of us,” Makoto said as they all walked into the apartment.
“That and there’s no reason someone can’t stay in my room,” Haru said softly.
Nagisa grinned at him slowly making Haru flush a bit.
“I’ll take the couch,” Kisumi suggested. “No reason for Nagisa or Rei to take the couch when they can share the bedroom.”
Rei began to sputter a bit, cheeks flushing and Makoto chuckled touching his shoulder.
“It’s just sleeping Rei. Nothing to get so flustered about.”
Rei swallowed looking over at Nagisa who smiled slipping his arm through Rei’s affectionately.
“Come on Rei. It’ll be okay,” he said, laying his head on Rei’s shoulder. “It’s just a sleep over.”
Rei smiled a bit, nodding slowly.
“That is the most awkward couple ever,” Asuka whispered to Haru who smiled at him.
“I think they’re sweet.”
Haru laughed softly, shaking his head.
“Now that sleeping arrangements are settled, let’s get out of here.”
“Are we going swimming after the arcade,” Rei asked.
“Yeah, I planned to use the pool at the university. The coach told me I could.”
“Swimming?” Asuka asked slowly, turning to Haru.
“Are you a swimmer?” Nagisa asked.
“Not at all. I just didn’t realize I’d get to see so many boys in their swimming trunks. This day just got a whole lot better.”
Rei sputtered in surprise and Nagisa giggled happily.
“Asuka, behave,” Haru said, walking out the apartment.
“But where’s the fun in that?!”
Haru rolled his eyes with a smile before leading them out of the apartment complex. The rest of the walk to the arcade was relatively short. It was only a couple of minutes from he and Makoto’s apartment. As they approached the building he caught a flash of familiar red hair and couldn’t keep the grin from his face.
Rin looked up at him quickly, sliding his phone into his pants pocket as he stood up on the steps leading to the arcade. He grinned widely hurrying down the steps to meet them on the sidewalk.
“Glad you could make it,” Makoto said, smiling at him.
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
“Whoa, those teeth look like they could hurt in all the best ways.”
Haru groaned, hanging his head in embarrassment, wondering if it was too late to dig himself a hole. He should have known inviting Asuka was a terrible idea. Rin looked over Haru’s shoulder and grinned again.
“I’ve been told they do.”
Haru sputtered, his eyes as wide as saucers as he turned to Makoto. Asuka laughed loudly, stepping around Haru to shake Rin’s hand.
“Name’s Asuka. Nice to meet you.”
“Ah, you’re the friend Makoto’s told me about.”
“Can we just get inside before Asuka tries to undress you,” Haru muttered.
“Hey! I resent that. He’d at least have to buy me a drink first.”
Makoto laughed loudly, grabbing Asuka’s elbow, pulling him into the arcade.
“Come on you.”
Rin watched Makoto drag Asuka away before turning to Haru.
“He seems fun.”
“He’s…interesting,” Haru muttered. “He's been worse today than usual. We may have to stop providing him with coffee.”
“I like him!” Nagisa announced.
Haru gave him a small smile before leading the group into the arcade. He’d already bought the cards they’d need for the games so they didn’t need to stop on their way in. He hadn’t been sure an arcade was the right idea for his friends but his and Makoto’s apartment wasn’t big enough for all of them to enjoy themselves and they all enjoyed video games well enough.
He started in surprise as Nagisa grabbed his hand dragging him through the arcade towards the DDR machine. He’d never been very good at the game, as he was more coordinated in water, but he’d give it a try for Nagisa’s sake.
Makoto smiled, watching as Nagisa drug Haru further into the arcade. The small blonde was practically bouncing with energy.
“You know for someone as socially akward as Haru is, he certainly has quite a few friends,” Asuka said softly.
Makoto turned to Asuka and grinned a bit.
“Back home everyone liked Haru, despite his tough exterior.”
“Haru is very easy to like.”
Makoto paused at the melancholy in Asuka’s voice. He’d never heard the usually cheerful man sound so downtrodden. His eyebrows were drawn together as he chewed on his bottom lip thoughtfully and Makoto sighed looking at the ground. He’d been aware of Asuka’s feelings for Haru for a long time and he thought he could ignore them, but with how Asuka was looking at Haru he knew he had to say something.
“You have feelings for him,” he said softly. It wasn’t a question. He knew he was right.
Asuka looked at him quickly, his eyes going wide.
Makoto could see the panic on the other boys face and sighed. He hadn’t meant to make Asuka uncomfortable. He knew he could trust Asuka not to try and interfere with his relationship with Haru.
“It’s okay Asuka,” he assured him gently. “I know how easy it is to fall in love with Haru. I’ve been in love with him my whole life.”
Asuka cleared his throat looking away from him.
“I’m not sure it’s quite as serious as love,” he admitted awkwardly. “I care about Haru and I want to keep him safe but I would never do anything to come between you two, you have to believe me. You guys are meant for each other. You complete each other.”
Makoto sighed at the nervous tone to Asuka’s voice and put his hand on his shoulder to comfort him.
“Asuka, I’m not upset,” he said softly. “I trust you and I know how much Haru’s happiness means to you.”
Asuka visibly relaxed at his words and sagged against the wall.
“So…how obvious am I?” he asked with a nervous laugh.
“Well…Haru has his head permanently in the sand when it involves people’s feelings for him, so he’s completely oblivious,” Makoto stated with a small smile. “Kisumi knew immediately though.”
“Well…Kisumi’s an ass so…”
Makoto laughed loudly shaking his head.
“He’s actually a really nice guy. Which is kind of why I was hoping to set the two of you up.”
“You wanted to set me up with him?”
Makoto nodded slowly.
“Haru told me it was a horrible idea, but I ignored him.”
“You should have listened.”
“Apparently…I just wanted you to find the kind of happiness Haru and I have. Sometimes it seems as if you’re lonely, and I don’t like seeing you like that.”
“That kind of happiness can’t be forced Makoto. Don’t worry about me.”
Makoto smiled slowly giving his shoulder a squeeze. He knew Asuka was right, but he still hated the idea of his friend not being happy. He wouldn’t be worried about it if he didn’t see the unhappiness in Asuka’s eyes.
“Come on, before Nagisa wears Haru out too badly.”
“He’s an interesting guy.”
“Nagisa? Yeah, he’s pretty great.”
Asuka smiled falling into step behind Makoto, following him across the arcade. They found Nagisa and Haru at the DDR machine with Rei, Rin and Kisumi watching them. Haru was struggling to keep up with the energetic blond who wasn’t missing a beat on the game. When the round ended Haru stepped back panting a bit. He looked up at Makoto, breathless but smiling and his eyes were shining in a way Makoto hadn’t seen in months.
“That’s it. I can’t play anymore.” He said shaking his head, looking back at Nagisa.
“Awe, you just want to go cuddle Makoto,” Nagisa pouted.
“I’ll face ya blondie,” Asuka called with a smirk.
“You think you can handle it?” Nagisa asked with a smirk.
“Oh, you have no idea,” Asuka grinned pulling his jean jacket off, hanging it over the back of one of the chairs.
“This is going to be interesting,” Haru muttered, joining Makoto as Asuka stepped onto the platform.
The two set up the game, waiting for the music to started. Haru watched, stunned, as the two moved in a blur of motion. It seemed as of Asuka turned the machine onto the expert level when he started the game. Haru supposed all of the nights Asuka spent dancing in clubs helped improve his coordination.
“He’s pretty good,” Kisumi said, standing beside Haru.
“Looks like your boyfriend has his work cut out for him,” Rin said, slapping Rei on the shoulder with a laugh.
Rei flushed a bit as he watched the two boys try to keep up with the machine. Haru smiled at him before tensing up a bit as he noticed they had begun to attract a crowd. Even some of the workers had stopped to watch them. When the song ended Asuka stopped to catch his breath, glancing at Nagisa who grinned at him.
“You’re really good!”
“So’re you blondie. Ready for another round?”
“Not after that!” Nagisa said with a laugh. “My legs are like jelly!”
Asuka laughed, pausing as he looked around at the small crowd that had gathered around them. His eyes widened in surprise and Haru followed his gaze to an employee standing near the front of the crowd. He was taller than most of the people around him and he had wavy brown hair. Haru recognized him almost immediately.
Makoto followed his gaze slowly, and leaned forward, his eyes widening.
“That’s…Kosei…” He said softly. “That’s definitely Kosei. You don’t think…”
“That he was the one Asuka met at the club last night? The way Asuka’s looking at him right now…that’s exactly what I think.”
Makoto looked at him again, swallowing a bit.
“Well, since no one else is brave enough to play,” Kisumi said with a laugh. “I’ll join you.”
“You got it handsy,” Asuka said, tearing his eyes away from the crowd slowly.
Kisumi laughed loudly joining Asuka on the platform.
“Well, at least they’re getting along now,” Haru murmured. “Maybe your plan will will after all.”
“Nope. Kisumi is seeing someone, and apparently it’s pretty serious.”
Haru looked up at him in surprise before turning back to Asuka and Kisumi. He leaned on Makoto with a small smile, relaxing a bit as the crowd begain to dwindle down. Kisumi was good, but he wasn’t as energetic as Nagisa was, while Asuka seemed to be trying to show off his moves. When the song ended Kisumi stepped back with a laugh, holding his hands up in surrender.
“I give! I give!”
Asuka laughed brushing his hair back from his forehead.
“Who else wants a go? Makoto?”
“Not a chance. I know when to pick my battles.”
“Boot it up, I’ll face you.”
Haru looked quickly to see who spoke from the crowd and paused as Kosei walked to the machine with a smirk.
“I don’t want to get you in trouble…” Asuka started, a small grin spreading across his face.
“I’m allowed a break period.”
“Haru, we have a few minutes right?” Asuka asked, without taking his eyes off Kosei.
Haru swallowed a bit as Kosei spun a bit to stare at him.
“Uh yeah, we have some time left. Makoto and I are going to order lunch, we’ll be in the restaurant when you’re ready,” he said after clearing his throat.
He didn’t want to give away that he knew Kosei. If Asuka knew they’d met before he’d want to know how and that was Kosei’s story to tell. He wasn’t sure but he thought Kosei nodded his thanks before turning back to Asuka with a slow smile. His demeanor was completely different from when they had met at the police station and Haru wondered how much of the anger he had demonstrated was because of what they had been facing at the time.
“Let’s see if you move your feet as well as you move your hips,” Asuka said with a wink as he swiped the arcade card to start the game.
“Oh, I was just getting warmed up last night,” Kosei fired back with a smirk as he stepped onto the platform. “You should have stayed a little longer. I could have showed you some real moves.”
Asuka laughed softly and Haru grinned watching as a blush filled his cheeks.
“Asuka seems to have met his match,” Makoto murmured, running his fingers through Haru’s hair.
Haru looked up at him biting his lip a bit.
“I can’t believe Kosei was brave enough to go to the clubs last night,” he said softly.
“Well…maybe it’s his way of coping. Getting out of his comfort zone now that you’ve all identified those two,” Makoto replied quietly. “But it does prove Asuka has a type.”
“Grumpy brunettes,” Makoto suggested playfully, running his fingers over Haru’s cheek. “Didn’t he try to pick you up at that club?”
Haru flushed at the memory looking away from Makoto. Sometimes he forgot the only reason why he and Asuka had become friends was because Asuka had given him his number at the club. It felt as if Asuka had always been there.
“Wait,” he said as he finally processed what Makoto had said. “Did you just call me grumpy?”
“In a very lovable way.” Makoto said with a chuckle. “It’s just how you present yourself to people.”
Haru frowned looking away from him. He knew he could be difficult around other people but he hadn’t thought of himself as grumpy.
“It’s okay Haru, we still love you.” Nagisa said, wrapping his arm around Haru’s shoulders. “And we really like your friend. He’s really nice, even if he was mean to Kisumi.”
“Asuka’s just really protective,” Haru said softly glancing back to Asuka at the DDR machine. “I met him the night everything happened and Asuka was interrogated…”
“So he knows then,” Rei said softly.
Haru nodded slowly, slipping his hand into Makoto’s.
“Hey, where did Rin run off to?” Makoto asked suddenly.
“He went to answer a phone call when Kisumi was facing Asuka,” Nagisa said pointing towards the exit of the arcade. “He looked pretty upset.”
Makoto groaned, shaking his head.
“I wish those two would work things out.”
“Him and Sousuke?” Nagisa asked.
“Gou told me on the phone a couple days ago,” Nagisa muttered, crossing his arms. “She said Sousuke’s been making Rin-chan run in circles. She’s pretty angry.”
Haru frowned turning to look at Makoto.
“How long have they been together?”
“They’re not. They dated for months while they lived in Australia and then Sousuke left him. Rin’s been trying to get him back ever since, but Sousuke won’t give him a real answer,” Makoto said with a sigh.
Haru’s frown deepened and he pulled away from Makoto slowly.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to check on him, go ahead and order lunch. We’ll meet you in there.”
Haru walked from them heading in the direction that Nagisa had pointed. Makoto watched him before turning back to Asuka who was stepping away from the DDR machine panting with a grin on his face. He watched Kosei walk away before walking back to Makoto and the others.
“So that was “talk, dark and sexy” huh?”
Asuka grinned, turning to watch Kosei disappear further into the arcade before looking back at Makoto.
“Did you get his number this time?”
“I will before we leave. He looks even better in daylight.”
Makoto laughed softly, shaking his head.
“Where’d Haru go?”
“He went to go check on Rin-Chan,” Nagisa said softly. “He’s having some boyfriend troubles.”
“Oh…so the sexy red head is taken then?” Asuka asked curiously.
“If that’s what you’re calling him, then yes,” Makoto said with a laugh.
“Well, he is sexy,” Asuka insisted.
“Come on, let’s order lunch,” Makoto said, rolling his eyes. Sometimes Asuka was too much for him. “Haru said he’d join us in a little bit.”
Haru walked out the arcade, blinking at the bright sunlight, before looking around for Rin. He sighed when he saw the tall red head sitting on the steps, staring down at his cell phone in his hand. He walked down the steps, sitting beside him quietly, looking out at the people walking past them. He didn’t want to force Rin to talk if he wasn’t ready.
“I guess Makoto told you?” Rin finally asked, turning to look at him.
“He said you and Sousuke were having trouble. He didn’t give me any details.”
Rin sighed, looking down at his phone again.
“We lived together in Australia, after graduation,” he said quietly. “We started dating and things were going really great, he even helped me look after Gou. But then he decided to pack up and leave, move back home. He was convinced I was using him as a rebound and that I was really in love with you.”
“Was he? Are you?”
Rin turned to stare at him before shaking his head slowly.
“No. Not at all. I love Sousuke. Sure, there was time when I was in love with you. But I moved on, and I was happy. We were happy. But now…”
“Is that why you’ve made so many trips back home?”
Rin nodded slowly, swallowing a bit.
“I keep trying to convince him to come home, but he refuses to see me in person.” Rin said with a sigh. “I guess the fact that he’s answering my calls and calling me back is progress. He wouldn’t even do that for the first month or so.”
Haru looked at him in stunned silence. This wasn’t the Rin he knew. Rin didn’t just roll over and accept things as they were. He felt a wave of anger wash over him at the thought of how Sousuke was treating him. Rin deserved so much better.
“Rin…you need to stop.”
“This isn’t healthy. The way he’s treating you isn’t right.”
“Haru, I’m not giving up on him.”
“I know,” Haru said with a small smile. “It wouldn’t be like you if you did. But you need to stop letting him do this to you. It’s not good for either of you.”
Rin frowned, looking down at his lap and Haru put his hand on his, giving it a small squeeze.
“Force him to make a decision. I know that sounds really bad, but he isn’t going to decide if you let him keep playing this game. Either he’s all in or he’s all out Rin. You deserve to know one way or another.”
“I know…but I don’t want him to feel like he’s back into a corner.”
“Well, you’re never going to know how he truly feels if you don’t. Invite him to see you in person, whether at the swimming competition this week, or hell if he’s in Tokyo right now, invite him to meet up with us.” Haru said softly. “Tell him if he doesn’t want to see you in person, then you’re going to back off. He can’t keep treating you like a yo-yo.”
Rin sighed looking up at him.
“I’ll leave you to make your phone call,” Haru said softly. “We’ll be in the restaurant eating lunch when you’re ready.”
“Thank you Haru.”
Haru smiled at him before walking back into the arcade, heading for the restaurant. Despite the arcade being new to the area, it wasn’t especially crowded this early in the afternoon. It was relatively easy for Haru to pick out his friends in the small crowd. He joined them with a smile, taking a seat beside Makoto.
“He’ll survive, but Sousuke is an asshole.”
“He’s definitely acting like one,” Makoto said softly. “This break up has been really hard on Rin, and I hope they can sort it out. Rin deserves to be happy.”
Haru shook his head sadly, looking down at the table. He knew he was lucky to have someone as kind and understanding as Makoto in his life, but he never expected Sousuke to be so horrible to Rin. He sighed forcing the thoughts from his head. Rin’s relationship was his own business. Haru had given him the best advice he could, it was up to him and Sousuke to make things work or to walk away. He looked up, pausing when he saw Kosei walking to their table. Of course the brunette was going to be their server. Haru had the sinking suspicion that Asuka had been behind this particular coincidence.
“Hello handsome,” Asuka chirped as Kosei reached them.
“Do you ever stopped?” Kosei asked, as he placed their drinks on the table in front of them.
“Not unless I’m forced too.”
Kosei shook his head with an amused smile.
“Well, now I’m on the clock so…”
“We won’t report you for misconduct,” Asuka said with a wink.
“Asuka…behave,” Haru said with a sigh.
Asuka pouted, sitting back in his seat.
“Why do you always ruin my fun?”
“Because your fun usually borders on sexual harassment,” Makoto said with a laugh.
“Can I take your orders?” Kosei asked with a laugh.
“We have another person coming,” Nagisa said looking up at him with a smile.
“Oh, okay, well wave to me when you’re ready.”
Asuka watching Kosei walk away before turning to Haru with a small frown.
“You stopped my flirting…”
“I stopped you from embarrassing yourself,” Haru said, laughing softly. “Ask for his number already.”
“I planned on it.”
“Do you think he’s interested?”
“Obviously,” Makoto cut in with a laugh.
Asuke grinned a bit, leaning back in his seat. Haru chuckled, looking away from him as Rin joined the table, sitting between Asuka and Kisumi. He seemed to be handling things better than he had when Haru had spoken to him outside.
“How’d it go?” Haru asked softly.
“I’m not sure. I think he’s going to try and make it to Tokyo. He isn’t sure if he’s ready for that yet.”
“I’m sorry Rin.”
“Don’t be. It’s a clearer answer than I’ve gotten in months,” Rin told him with a small smile. “At least he’s talking like it’s possible.”
“I hope he does show up and you guys work things out.”
“So do I,” Rin said softly.
Haru smiled, motioning slowly to Kosei, who began walking their way when his phone began to ring. He frowned, pulling out his phone to ignore the call, pausing when he saw Taisei’s name across the screen. He and the young blond had spoken a few times since they’d met at the police station. He usually only called Haru at night, when he had trouble sleeping.
“It’s Taisei,” he explained to Makoto softly, standing up to walk away from the table. “Hello?”
“Haru? It’s Kaito. I found your number in Taisei’s phone.”
Haru stopped, looking back at Makoto slowly as a feeling of foreboding washed over him.
“Kaito? How’d you get Taisei’s phone?”
Haru heard Kaito take a deep breath and his heart clenched in fear.
“Taisei’s in the hospital,” Kaito finally said, his voice breaking a bit. “He tried to commit suicide.”
::waves meekly:: Hi? I am so, so very sorry for the wait. I know I said I would update more often, but after the election, I fell into a pretty intense depression. Things are pretty bleak for me and friends of mine who are minorities. So, I was greatly affected by the political climate, especially when hate crimes began happening on my campus. Just when I started to pull out of that, I entered my last semester of undergrad studies and was consumed by my senior assignment. Followed immediately by graduate school and a second job to pay for student loans. However, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. Got a bit of writer's block I'm trying to work through, but I'm doing my best.
Writing at the moment is still a hardship. It takes me an hour to get through one paragraph. I've never had my writing affected like this, so I'm hoping it goes away soon.
This chapter is dedicated to Chester Bennington, as we are approaching a year since he died, and his music helped me a great deal over the last 20 years. I would have liked to dedicate a chapter to Chris Cornell as well, but his music just doesn't fit the feel of this story. So RIP to those amazing artists who meant so much to me. And yes, this is new Link Park, just a heads up.
Additional warning for a homophobic slur near the end of the chapter.
Haru lowered his phone slowly, staring at the screen. Kaito’s voice was still echoing in his head.
... overdose, took all the sleeping pills in the cabinet, only gone for a couple minutes…
“Haru? Is everything okay?”
Haru blinked, coming back to himself at the sound of Makoto calling his name. He looked up to see Makoto standing in front of him, green eyes filled with concern.
“T...Taisei is in the hospital,” he said softly. “Kaito says he tried to commit suicide.”
“Oh Haru, how awful...Is he going to survive.”
“Kaito said he got to him in time, but that he's still unconscious.”
“Do you want to go see him?”
“He can’t have visitors at the moment. Kaito is going to call me as soon as that changes.”
Makoto nodded reaching out, running his hands over Haru’s arms.
“Are you okay?” he asked softly.
“No...but I'll be fine.”
“Yes. Besides, we have all of them to distract me.”
Makoto laughed softly.
“I guess you're right about that.”
Haru smiled weakly, leaning on him as they walked back to the table.
“Sorry about guys.”
“Is everything okay?” Rei asked him.
Haru hesitated, looking down at the table. He knew he could tell them he was fine, and even if they didn't believe him, they would drop it out of respect for him. He also knew that if he told them what had happened, it would hang over them like a cloud for the rest of the day or even the trip. He glanced back up taking a deep breath.
“That was a call letting me know that a friend of mine is in the hospital,” he said softly. “He’s unconscious at the moment but they're gonna call back as soon as they have more info or he wakes up.”
“Do you need to leave Haru-chan?”
“No...he's not allowed visitors at the moment.”
“Well, if you need to leave us we'll understand, we can keep ourselves occupied. Hell, we can have Kisumi introduce us to this guy of his so we can embarrass him.”
Haru laughed softly at Rin’s comment looking down at the table. He reached out, putting his hand in Makoto’s, giving it a squeeze.
“Alright, sorry about that.” Haru startled, looking back up to see Kosei standing at the end of the table. “Had a bit of an emergency, are you guys ready?”
“And willing.” Asuka supplied with a wink, and Haru covered his face in embarrassment. “Asuka, why?”
Kosei cleared his throat looking away from Asuka with a flush filling his cheeks.
“You can throw us out at anytime, honestly. We’d understand.” Haru told him weakly.
“Just give Asuka your number first to put us out of our misery.” Makoto chimed in.
“That won’t won’t be necessary,” Kosei said with a laugh. “And he won't be getting that number unless he can come up with some better lines. Originality goes a long way.”
Asuka gaped, as Haru laughed softly. Asuka had definitely met his match.
“To answer your original question, we’ll just have some water for the table while we look at the menu,” Makoto said looking up at Kosei with a smile.
“Sure thing,” Kosei said with a smile walking off.
“How's that saying go? “Hate to see him leave, love to watch him go?”” Asuka asked with a sigh, watching him walk away.
“You have hit a new low, my friend,” Haru said, laughing.
“I know!” Asuka cried with a groan, laying his forehead on the table. “What is wrong with me?!”
“Should I write a list?”
“Not helping! That guy is amazing and I am making an ass of myself, it is your duty as my friend to stop me.”
“Calm down Asuka. I don't think it's that bad. He seems to like the attention,” Makoto said soothingly. “Just be yourself.”
“That is the worst advice you could give me.” Asuka told him gravely.
“How about we just decide on what we want to eat before he comes back, then we can give Asuka flirting advice,” Rin suggested with a laugh.
“But, I know how to flirt...just not when he's around,” Asuka moaned pitifully.
Haru sighed picking up the menu. He was happy Asuka had found someone who showed an interest in him, but he had a feeling this was going to be a very awkward lunch.
“You really swam for the competing team?” Asuka asked Rin with a laugh.
“I mean, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time,” Rin shrugged with a smile. “I wasn't close to any of my teammates at the time, and I was in a bad place.”
“And forfeiting fixed that?”
“It reminded me of why I wanted to swim in the first place. Haru, Makoto and Nagisa were the first real friends I had, and coming back to Iwatobi to see how much had changed, it messed with my head.”
“We all changed,” Haru said softly. “I stopped swimming. At least competitively.”
“You? You stopped swimming?”
“Yeah. I uh, I was pretty messed up for awhile.”
“Obviously if it caused you to stop swimming.”
“Anyway, Nagisa went to a different school for a few years, and when Rin came back to town, he was a bit of a jerk so…”
“A bit is an understatement, he treated Haru-chan like dirt.”
“It's true! You always picked fights with him!”
“Not on purpose! It just happened…”
“Easier than flirting, huh?”
Rin looked at him quickly before glancing away.
“I guess you could say that. That's in the past though.”
“Haru has that effect on people,” Asuka said, throwing a playful wink in Haru’s direction.
“Knock it off,” Haru muttered, cheeks flushing, as he looked away.
“Oh don’t be like that Haru...you know I don't mean anything by it.”
Haru opened his mouth to reply but was cut off by his phone ringing. He picked it up quickly looking over at Makoto.
“Yeah, it's me. I wanted to let you know that Taisei is awake, and is a horrible patient. He's causing a scene with the nurses now.”
“Because they want to keep him for a few more days and he insists it's not necessary,” Kaito said with a sigh. “He's agreed to see you if you want to visit though.”
“Are you sure he's ready for that?”
“Yeah. I think it might do him some good.”
“Okay, give me the info, and I'll be there.”
Kaito rattled off Taisei’s room number and Haru used Makoto’s phone to write it down.
“See you when you get here Haru.”
“Thank you Kaito.”
Haru hung up the phone leaning back in his chair as Makoto sent Taisei’s information in a text message.
“Why is Kaito in charge of all this?” Makoto asked him.
“I...don't know. Maybe Taisei doesn't have family in the city. He never mentioned his family.”
“Do you need to leave Haru-chan?”
“Haru, we can fend for ourselves. If your friend is hurt, we understand,” Rei told him. “Go on.”
“Do you need me to come with you?” Makoto asked softly.
“No...the hospital isn't that far. I should be fine. I'll call if I need you.”
“Please?” Makoto said giving his hand a squeeze.
Haru leaned in kissing his cheek.
“I promise,” he said before standing up. “Sorry guys, I'll make it up to you, I promise.”
“We’ll be fine. Go on Hru-chan.”
Makoto gave Haru’s hand one last squeeze before he headed for the doors of the arcade. Haru took a deep breath on the sidewalk entering the hospitals information into the GPS on his phone.
“Haru, wait for me.”
Haru turned to see Kosei walking towards him.
“Kaito called you too?”
“Yeah,” Kosei said reaching him. “After you left the station that day, I gave Taisei my number.”
“Well...please tell me you gave Asuka your number before you walked out here?” Haru asked as he started walking in the direction of the hospital.
Haru groaned softly.
“I'm sure he's got plenty of interested guys.”
“Not really. All of that in there? He's only like that when he's nervous.”
“I see…” Kosei said softly, looking back at the arcade.
“You can go back. I'll wait.”
“No...I'll just have you give him my number. Pretending we don't know each other is just dumb. I just...it's not gonna scare him off is it?”
“I seriously doubt it. Asuka doesn't scare easily.”
“That's...good. Really good.”
Haru looked over at him curiously.
“I...yeah. It's just...your friend is the first guy I've been interested in since...well, you know. And, I don't remember it being so overwhelming.”
“If it makes you feel better, he's a nervous wreck.”
“He is? Why?”
Haru shrugged helplessly, wishing he hadn't said anything.
“He’s worried he's blowing it. I don't know why.”
Haru ignored him turning down the street for the hospital. He'd butted in enough on Asuka’s behalf. The rest of it was Asuka's responsibility. He could barely navigate his own relationship let alone someone else's. They walked into the hospital quietly as Haru looked over the instructions for getting to Taisei’s room.
“Looks like we take this elevator to the ICU, and he's in room 36.”
“Yeah, they gotta buzz us in.” Kosei said, pressing the up button on the elevator.
Haru sighed putting his phone away, taking a deep breath.
“You doing alright?”
“Yeah...I just don't normally go to new places without Makoto.”
“I'm certainly a poor stand in,” Kosei told him with a small smile as they stepped on the elevator.
Haru shrugged leaning against the wall. He wasn't sure how to tell Kosei that having him there was actually relaxing, as he was a familiar face in strange place.
They stepped off the elevator and Haru led them to the double doors leading to the ICU, where he pressed the buzzer.
“We’re here to see Taisei Uchida.”
Haru heard the doors buzz and unlock before they slowly began to open. He pulled his phone out to double check Taisei’s room number, pausing when he saw he had a message from Makoto.
Asuka agreed to take the guys to the University pool since you got permission from your coach. Gonna hang around the arcade a bit before heading over. Should be there when you leave.
Oh, and Asuka’s pretty bummed, we were just informed Kosei left for the day, and Asuka's convinced he blew it. We have a new server. I assume he's with you?
He quickly typed out a quick response before looking at Taisei's room number. It turned out he didn't have to, as he could suddenly hear Taisei's voice in the hallway, sounded very angry.
“They can’t keep me here!”
“Yes they can Taisei, and they will.” Kaito sounded exhausted. “It's hospital procedure.”
Haru paused outside the room, knocking on the door frame. Kaito turned quickly from Taisei and gave them a small smile.
“Haru, Kosei, thank you for coming,” the blonde said, running his fingers through his already unruly hair.
He looked completely run down. The clothes he had on were wrinkled in a way that implied he’d slept in them, and there were bags under his eyes.
“I'll just go get us some coffee or something from the cafeteria,” he told them, heading for the door.
Taisei watched him walk away before sitting down on his bed with a sigh.
“Nope, not awkward at all,” Kosei muttered with a smirk, and Taisei gave a small laugh.
“Not to ask a dumb question...but are you okay?”
“Well, physically I guess I am. But now the hospital wants to hold me for 2 days for observation.
“You don't think it's necessary?” Haru asked quietly.
“No...I know what I did was dumb. I just...I let everything get to me.”
“It wasn't dumb. Don't put it like that.”
Haru turned to Kosei in surprise as he sat next to Taisei.
“It was how you felt at the time, whether we understand or not. We all deal with this in our own ways.”
“Thanks Kosei,” Taisei said with a small smile bumping shoulders with him.
“It's true,” Haru said, sitting in the chair across from the bed. “If it wasn't for Makoto, I don't know how I'd be handling all this.”
Taisei sniffed a bit, looking down at his lap.
A throat cleared behind him, and Haru turned to see Kaito holding out a cup to Taisei.
“Caramel Macchiato, just how you like it,” he said softly. “Extra vanilla and caramel, made with soy.”
“Starbucks? Really?” Taisei asked with an amused smile.
“Yeah, apparently the hospital has one.”
“Fancy…” Taisei said, taking a sip of his drink. “Oh, this is definitely not real Starbucks.”
Kaito laughed putting his cup down.
“Hospital coffee is still hospital coffee.”
“That is just cruel.”
“Stop being so dramatic. I can go get you real Starbucks later.”
“Fantastic,” he responded taking another sip with a grimace.
Haru looked between the two of them slowly before looking at Kosei with a raised eyebrow.
“When did you two get so close?” Kosei asked, surprised.
“I uh, I'm actually staying with Kosei,” Taisei said softly.
“Yeah, uh, I wasn't out to my parents before...But with the court case coming up, I felt like I needed to tell them.”
“I take it they didn't handle it well?”
“No...not at all.” Taisei said with a bitter laugh. “They threw me out...after telling me I was a "filthy fag" who got what he deserved.”
“Oh my God.” Haru said softly. "They used those words?"
"Yeah...they're not very accepting..."
"Taisei...I'm sorry," Haru said quietly. As distant as his parents were, he could never imagine them saying something like that.
“That first night I slept at the train station, but in the morning I called Kaito and he let me crash at his place. I didn't really have anyone else to turn to.”
“So, what's the verdict? Am I stuck here?” Taisei asked turning to Kaito.
Kaito sighed leaning against the wall.
“That's up to the psychiatrist. They'll make that decision once they evaluate you.”
“But you think they're going to hold me?”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because it's hospital procedure for patients that pose a suicide risk.”
“Taisei, it's not too bad. Free food, free cable, someone to wait on you hand and foot.”
Taisei laughs softly at Kosei's words.
“I guess not.” He said.
After that, they relaxed a bit, sitting and talking before the hospital psychiatrist knocked on the door, ready to evaluate Taisei. Haru turned to Kosei as they stepped on the elevator to head down to the lobby.
“How do you feel about swimming?”
“This is a terrible idea.” Kosei muttered.
“Relax,” Haru said as he stepped out of the stall where he was changing into his swimming shorts.
“This is going to come off as desperate as hell.” Kosei said fidgeting with the towel around his waist, frowning in the mirror.
Haru stopped, wondering what he was looking at, until he saw the long white scar running up his side. He swallowed, looking away.
“Come on, this is Asuka, the leading expert in trying too hard.” Haru said with a huff.
Kosei sighed stepping away from the mirror.
Haru nodded, leading him from the locker room. The university university had two pools. One for the use of the regular student body, and then one for the swim team that was closed to the general public. The swim coach had told Haru he could use it outside of team practice sessions. He started walking faster when he heard voices carrying down the hall.
He stepped through the doorway leading to the pool and stopped to watch for a second. Nagisa was on Rei’s shoulders as the taller boy moved through the water. Makoto and Rin were casually swimming through the water, while Asuka sat on the poolside, feet dangling into the pool. He drowned confused until he saw Kisumi with a blonde haired man and a little girl at the other end of the pool.
“Hey guys,” Haru called stepping forward. “I picked someone up along the way.”
Everyone looking up quickly and Nagisa scrambled off Rei’s neck.
“Haru-chan! You made it!”
“Ow, Nagisa. That's my eye! Hello Haru-senpai. Oh hey, you were the server at the arcade.”
Kosei waved awkwardly as Asuka looked up quickly.
“Yeah, Taisei, my friend in the hospital is friends with Kosei as well. So after we left the hospital I convinced him to come here.” Haru said before running at the water, diving in smoothly.
“Haru! Use the ladder like a normal person!” Makoto scolded playfully.
“That's never gonna happen,” Rin muttered as Haru surfaced.
“Who's that,” he asked nodding towards Kisumi as he watched Kosei sit beside Asuka out the corner of his eye.
“That is Seiji and his daughter Shiori,” Makoto said with a smile as Kisumi came over with the little girl on his back.
“Glad you could make it back Haru,” Kisumi said softly. “This is Seiji, my boyfriend, and his daughter Shiori.”
“I told him to invite them so we could all meet.” Makoto told him.
“Yeah, it's nice to meet you,” Haru said softly.
“You too,” Seiji said with a small smile.
“Hi!” the little girl piped up. “Kisumi said you swim like a mermaid!”
“Man...merman,” Kisumi corrected, flushing a bit.
“That's what I said.”
“He did huh?”
“That is what he said when we got here. That his friend Haru could swim like…”
“A sparkling mermaid!” Shiori cut in. Haru flushed a bit as Makoto chuckled beside him.
“Personally I think he swims more like a dolphin, but you'll just have to watch him.”
Shiori giggled a bit and Kisumi looked up at her with a smile.
“Alright...but I gotta warn ya. I'm getting pretty tired here, might not be able to stay above water very long…” Kisumi said, pretending to sink underwater water, causing Shiori to shriek with laughter.
Haru smiled at their antics leaning back against Makoto, who slipped his arms around his waist easily.
“How's Taisei?” he asked softly.
“I think he'll be okay,” Haru told him honestly.
“And how about you? How are you?”
“I'm okay,” he said, putting his hands on Makoto's giving them a squeeze. “Thank you, by the way.”
“For...being here. For...caring. Not everyone is so lucky.” He said softly, thinking of what Taisei told them.
“Well, I'm not going anywhere Haru-chan.”
“Good,” Haru said, kissing him, before pulling out of his arms swimming away quickly.
Whew! I believe this is the longest chapter I've written for this story. I had a lot of scenes planned out, but trying to piece them all together, that took me forever. I apologize for the wait. I hope you enjoy.
By the way, the Football mentioned here is actually soccer. Which as an American, feels really weird to say. :D
Haru groaned rolling over to answer his phone.
“H...Hello?” he said, voice scratchy with sleep.
“Mr. Nanase, I know it's early, but we've got a bit of an emergency here.”
“Yes, sorry, like I said, bit of an emergency.”
“It's...6 in the morning.” Haru interrupted, looking at the clock beside the bed.
“Yes. Yes, I know. But Mr. Fujiwara just called to tell me he has the flu and can't make it to the competition today. I need you to fill in.”
“But coach, I'm still out of practice.”
“You're in better shape than most of our swimmers Mr. Nanase.”
Haru sighed rubbing his forehead.
“What time do I have to be there?”
Haru huffed running his fingers through his hair. He was out of practice, but he couldn’t deny he was swimming better than half the team. It was if they took those six weeks off themselves. The coach probably didn’t have anyone else who could swim for him.
“I'll be there coach,” he said with a sigh.
“Thank you Mr. Nanase.”
Haru grunted and hung up, tossing his phone on the nightstand curling back into Makoto. He felt Makoto shift beside him, pulling him in closer.
“Mm...what'd your coach want this early.”
“For me to swim today...no talking. Back to sleep.” Haru said, yawning sleepily.
“But why? When I have you right here,” Makoto asked, grinning slightly, leaning in to kiss him.
“Well...I suppose that's...fair,” Haru said softly, kissing him back.
“Fair?” Makoto asked, with mock disbelief, rolling them over so he was leaning over Haru. “Guess I'll just have to work harder than that.”
Haru laughed softly, leaning up to kiss him, sliding his arms around Makoto’s neck. He was amazed at how easy it was for him to be like this with Makoto. The first kiss he’d shared with Makoto, when they first started all this, had been so terrifying. As much as he'd wanted it, it'd taken everything in him to make that step. Now, it felt as natural as breathing. Holding Makoto in his arms, meeting him kiss for kiss, there was nothing in the world that could compare. His breath caught in his chest as he felt Makoto nip at his bottom lip playfully before moving to kiss along his throat.
“This okay Haru,” he asked softly.
“Yes.” Haru responded slightly breathless.
Makoto chuckled softly, going back to kissing along Haru’s neck, nipping at it playfully every now and then, as his fingers trailed over Haru’s stomach.
Haru gasped softly arching into the touch, before pulling back putting his hands on Makoto's shoulders.
“O...on second thought maybe we should stop for now,” he said quickly, pushing Makoto back from him.
“Haru? Did I do something wrong?” Makoto asked, sitting back quickly.
“No...no, you're fine,” Haru said, sliding from the bed quickly, hurrying to grab his things and rush out the door.
Makoto watched him with a frown, settling back against the pillows. He hadn't thought he'd done anything to upset Haru, he'd seemed fine at first. In fact, Haru seemed to be enjoying himself. He sighed taking a deep breath before releasing it, slowly getting out of bed. Haru would talk to him if he'd done something wrong. He'd never kept any of that to himself before. He just had to be patient, and hope that whatever it was that he’d done, Haru wasn’t too upset.
Haru leaned against the bathroom door trying to calm his racing heart. He needed to talk to Makoto, but first he needed to step away and clear his head. He took a deep breath and released it, before stripping out of his shorts and stepping into the shower. If he was going to be any good at the competition today, he needed make sure he wasn't distracted.
He scrubbed down quickly, deciding against a bath, that would just guarantee him arriving late to the competition, before dressing and heading back to Makoto's room. He stepped in slowly, shutting the door behind him quietly.
Makoto turned to him from where he was getting his clothes ready for a shower.
“You don't have to apologize Makoto, you didn't do anything wrong.”
“But you were upset…”
“No. I wasn't upset...it's a bit more complicated than that,” he said, running his fingers through his hair. He wanted to wait until after the competition before having this conversation, but they had time now and he didn't want Makoto going around thinking he'd screwed everything up.
“You didn’t do anything wrong Makoto. I didn’t make you stop because I was scared or upset. I made you stop because I was confused, and I wanted to be able to make sense of what I was feeling before I let it go too far, and messed things up,” he admitted softly.
Makoto blinked, falling silent. That was not what he was expecting to hear at all. Haru flushed, sitting down on the bed, running his fingers over the covers. Makoto sat beside him, putting his hand in Haru’s giving it a squeeze.
“Makoto, you know how I feel about you. I care about you so much. I want to be in this relationship with you. What I feel with you is...you are the person in the world I feel the safest with. Whenever we’re together, I feel as if I am...home. And honestly, that is the most attractive thing to me. But normally, when we’re kissing, or making out or whatever you want to call it, it just feels nice ya know? I know we could probably have sex and I would enjoy it, because you try to make sure I enjoy everything we do together. But I’m not ready for that yet...and I don’t think our relationship is either.” He said softly, forcing himself to continue before Makoto interrupted him, his cheeks burning. If Makoto cut him off he knew he probably wouldn’t have the courage to finish what he was saying, and he needed to get this out, before Makoto misunderstood what he was trying to tell him. “And I don’t...crave sex the way I know you do, or most people do, and I’m not accusing you of anything, or complaining. You can’t help how you feel anymore than I do. You’re not pressuring me, at all. So don’t think you are. You have been so patient, and so kind and I...honestly, I could never ask for more. But..this morning...something felt...different. Not in a bad way, but in a way I’m not used to. There was a...a spark I’m not used to, and...I didn’t want to stop. In fact, I really wanted it continue.”
“So...you ran off because...you were turned on…” Makoto said softly, looking at Haru in disbelief.
Haru flushed, looking away.
Makoto blinked, trying and failing to hold back the laugh that grew in him.
“Makoto, it’s not funny.”
“No...no it’s not. I’m just, relieved. I was so scared I did something wrong...but apparently, I did something very right.” He said, pulling Haru in, kissing him lightly.
Haru kissed him back, putting his hand on Makoto’s cheek.
“I...I don’t know what was different about it, or why I felt different, but it was,” Haru said softly. “And, I know we've talked about sex before, and how we might approach it, but…”
“That was more hypothetical.” Makoto finished for him.
“Haru...you didn't have to run off like that. You could have told me to stop, and we could have spoken about then.”
“I...I was embarrassed okay.” Haru muttered, face flushing a bit.
Makoto laughed softly, laying back in the bed pulling Haru into his arms.
“I love you Haru-chan.”
Haru smiled, laying his head on Makoto’s chest, wrapping an arm around his waist.
“I love you too Makoto.”
Makoto curled into him happily for a moment before sitting up with a sigh.
“I'm wide awake now, thanks to your coach. Guess I better hop in the shower since this is gonna be a busy day now.”
“It's starting to look that way,” Haru replied dryly. “I'm gonna pack my bag for the competition then head out for coffee. I'm gonna text Asuka to see if he wants to meet me. I'm sure he wants to talk about his date with Kosei.”
“Right, they went out last night didn't they? I hope it went well.”
“So do I.”
Makoto leaned over kissing him gently, before slipping out of bed, heading for the shower.
Haru watched him before grabbing his phone and typing a quick text to Asuka before pausing and opening Kaito's texts. Taisei was set to be released from the hospital that morning, and had shown interest in Haru’s competitions before. He shot off a quick text to Kaito inviting them before he lost his nerve, then set about finishing getting ready.
Makoto stepped out the shower and dried off before getting dressed for the day. He stepped into the bedroom to see Haru packing his duffel bag for the meet. Haru looked up at him and flushed before looking back down at his bag.
“Haru, relax. There’s nothing to embarrassed about.”
“I...I know. I just need time to process this morning,” he said with a sigh running his fingers through his hair. “I’m gonna head down to the cafe and meet Asuka. He finally responded a few minutes ago. Do you want me to bring you back anything?”
“My usual latte would be nice.”
Haru nodded, zipping his bag up before setting it by the door.
“I’ll be back soon then.”
“Just don’t let the coffee get cold before you get back,” Makoto told him with a laugh.
“Very funny,” Haru muttered, a grin slowly forming, before walking out the room.
Makoto smiled as the door shut behind Haru. After the door closed, Makoto walked to the small kitchen to start breakfast for everyone. A few minutes after the food started cooking, Kisumi joined him, leaning against the counter drowsily.
Kisumi grunted rubbing at his eyes.
“Don’t worry. Haru will be back with coffee soon enough.”
“How in the hell did you get him up and functional before 10?”
“His coach called and asked him to swim.”
“Well that’s one way to do it.” Kisumi said with a laugh. “So, he’s busy today then?”
“He just needs to be at a swim competition this afternoon. Gives him a chance to show off for you guys,” Makoto said with a chuckle. “You all can either come watch or hang out around the city or here. Obviously I’m going to go watch.”
“Obviously.” Kisumi laughed. “Do you mind if I invite Seiji and Shiori? I know I came to town to visit you guys, but I only get to see him for a limited time.”
“Of course you can invite him,” Makoto said smiling a bit. “How'd you two meet anyhow?”
“Online, actually. Which sounds a lot creepier than what it is. But, he had a dating profile up, he says it’s been hard for him in the past to date. People aren’t looking for a relationship with single parents, even ones who manage to co-parent without hating each other.” Kisumi said with a shrug. “With him being bi, most people assume he’s just looking for quick hookups, and he’s not like that.”
“And you set up a dating profile?”
“Well, the only gay guys my age back home are all taken,” Kisumi said shrugging. “Thought I'd give it a shot.”
“Nothing wrong with that. A lot of people meet online these days.”
“Then our compatibility scores matched I guess, I messaged him, without really reading his profile. I mean, I read some of it...Okay, I got as far as to where it said he was an artist and messaged him. Completely missing the part where it said he was a dad.”
“Oh no…” Makoto groaned.
“I didn’t realize until a month after we started talking that he was a father. We mostly talked in messages the first couple weeks. Then we moved to phone conversations, and I heard her in the background one day. was so confused, and I swear Seiji laughed at me when I asked who she was. I mean, it’s not like he never mentioned her, but he only said “Shiori” not my daughter in the messages. So whenever he said things like “Shiori and I went ice skating” I thought he was talking about a friend of his.”
“Please tell me you at least handled it well when you figured it out?”
“I panicked internally,” Kisumi laughed. “But shortly after that Seiji traveled to Iwatobi for our first date. He was pretty freaked out about the age difference, and wanted to see if it we could work, and I guess we just sort of clicked.”
“How long ago was that?”
“About two months. We’ve been taking turns traveling back and forth to see each other.” Kisumi said with a blush. “I’ve thought about finding a place to stay in Tokyo, but it’s expensive, and if it doesn’t work out…”
“Are you afraid it's not going to?”
“I...well, no.” Kisumi said, blush deepening. “I'm pretty sure I'm in love with him.”
Makoto blinked slowly before smiling at him.
“As long as he feels the same.”
“Do you think he doesn't?”
“I...don't know. He's been adamant about taking things slow, with the age difference and him being a dad. I don't want to push,” Kisumi said with a sigh. “But him introducing me to Shiori was a big step. So, I'm hopeful.”
“I hope it works out for you two. But hey, maybe you can stay with Haru and I for a few weeks so you can spend time together.”
“Well, I mean, I gotta clear it with him, but I'm sure he'll be fine with it.”
“No problem,” he said with a smile.
Haru walked into the cafe slowly, finding Asuka near the counter.
“Hey there Haru.” Asuka said brightly.
“So, what’d you need to talk about?” Asuka asked as they got in line. “When you messaged me you said you needed my advice.”
Haru flushed looking down at the ground.
“Something happened with Makoto this morning and...I’m a bit confused.”
“Okay...so, what was it?”
Haru sighed running his fingers through his hair. He was the one who text Asuka. He couldn’t be upset with him for asking questions. He just didn’t realize how hard it would be to talk to Asuka about what happened.
“Uh...well this morning, we...were making out…”
“Well, that’s a good start to your day.”
“I uh...the thing is…”
Haru cleared his throat, feeling his face flush.
“I...It...was different this morning.”
“Haru...I can’t give you advice if you won’t tell me what happened.”
“I was turned on okay?” Haru hissed at him quietly.
Haru groaned as they reached the cashier, giving her his order quickly before stepping to the side. He waited impatiently as Asuka put in his order and joined him.
“It...it's not bad...I just, I thought I was asexual, and maybe...I'm not?”
“You don't think you're asexual because you were turned on?”
“I don't think that's how it works.”
“What do you mean?”
Asuka sighed, running his fingers through his hair.
“Okay Haru, I'm gonna ask you a question that's uncomfortable for both of us. I'm being serious though, so don't get mad at me. And remember, you came to me for advice. Do you ever just get horny?”
“Just answer me Haru, it's nothing to be embarrassed about.”
“I...not recently,” he said softly, running his fingers through his hair.
“Before everything happened?”
“I guess, yeah. Why?”
“Did thinking about anyone make it happen, or did it just happen randomly?”
“Randomly, I guess.”
“And does seeing Makoto shirtless get you going?”
“If you were a gay man with any sense then hell yeah seeing that man shirtless should turn you on.”
“No...I...that's bad, right?”
“No, Haru...Listen,” Asuka said with a sigh. “I'm not a therapist so take this with a grain of salt. But..How do you feel about Makoto?”
“I...Well, there really aren't words...I love him, obviously. He means the world to me. I…” Haru blushed a bit looking at his coffee. “Even when I didn't know what I wanted from the future, when I thought ahead, Makoto was always there, ya know?”
“If it was legal you'd marry him, right?”
“Then Haru, you not being turned on ‘cause he’s shirtless isn't a bad thing. Now if you didn't feel all the other stuff for him, then yes it would be. But, you're just not built like that. Being turned on because you're in bed with Makoto, doing God knows what, because I do not want details, we’re in public and I don't want kicked out,” Asuka said when Haru opened his mouth to respond. “That doesn't mean you're not asexual, it means you have a sex drive, which you've always had. But since you've never dated, you wouldn't have really noticed. And in the beginning of you two dating, you were still recovering from something really awful and traumatic. Now you're together, and you feel safe, and you two are in love, and growing closer every day. Really, it can be rather sickening, but it's also really amazing to see. My guess is, you're gonna start enjoying yourself quite a bit more.”
Haru flushed looking down at the table.
“Now, no more sex advice. Our friendship won't be able to take it if I have to keep hearing about two very attractive men going at it.”
Haru stared at him, jaw dropping.
“It's the truth Haru.”
Haru huffed, turning away from him, heading for the door with the drinks.
“Come on. Everyone else is probably awake now.”
“Oh, hey, can invite Kosei to your competition today?” Asuka asked, hurrying after Haru.
“Didn't you say you guys went out for dinner last night?”
“I...yes, but...I mean…”
“Yes, invite him Asuka.”
“Thank you Haru!”
Haru shook his head putting a larger gap between him and Asuka. He should have known going to him for advice was a really bad idea.
“When is Haru gonna be back with the coffee?” Nagisa pouted, putting his head on the table.
“Give him a few minutes.” Makoto told him, laughing softly. “He hasn't been gone that long.”
“Not like you need the caffeine anyway,” Kisumi said with a smirk.
Nagisa pouted, turning to Rei who shook his head laughing softly.
Kisumi laughed softly, picking up his phone as it went off.
“Seiji?” Makoto asked.
“Yeah, he’s going to meet us at the gym,” Kisumi responded as the apartment door opened.
“We come bearing gifts!” Asuka cried loudly as he walked in with Haru, holding the tray of coffee up in the air.
“Yes!” Nagisa cried jumping up to take a cup from him.
Rei groaned putting his head on the table and Makoto patted his shoulder affectionately.
“It’ll wear off soon enough.”
Haru smiled a bit, walking up to Makoto handing him his coffee, hoping he wasn’t flushing too badly.
“Thanks Haru. There’s breakfast ready,” Makoto said, leaning in to kiss his cheek affectionately.
Kisumi smiled at them as he looked up from his phone.
“You two are disgustingly sweet.”
“Aren’t they though?” Asuka asked, sitting in the chair beside him. “I love seeing how much they’ve changed since I met them.”
“I’m surprised you don’t feel like a third wheel.” Kisumi said, taking a cup of coffee from him.
“Oh all the time, but I spend so much time with them, I was about to ask if they share.”
Kisumi choked on his coffee, turning to Asuka with wide eyes. Asuka laughed loudly as Haru smacked him on the back of his head.
“Behave. Don’t kill Kisumi.”
Asuka shook his head laughing, sipping his coffee.
“So, Seiji and Shiori will be meeting us at the gym. Makoto said it would be okay.” Kisumi told Haru clearing his throat.
“Sure, but Asuka invited Kosei as well, and I invited Kaito and Taisei. They’ll meet us at the gym, so we’re going to have a huge crowd,” Haru said with a small smirk.
“That’s good right?”
Haru shrugged sitting at the table.
“I don’t know. For now, I just want to eat and get ready.”
“Is there enough for me?” Asuka asked, turning pouty eyes to Makoto.
“Of course there is, you mooch.”
Asuka grinned widely, joining Haru at the table.
“You’re ridiculous,” Makoto said with a laugh, shaking his head.
“You love me.” Asuka said, batting his eyelashes at him.
Makoto rolled his eyes, walking away from the table, laughing softly. Haru watched him with a small smile on his face before beginning to eat his breakfast.
“Oh my god, you two are hopeless.”
“Shut up, or I tell Kosei about your boy band obsession.”
Asuka quickly shut up, beginning to dig into his food quickly. Haru smirked, turning back to his plate.
Makoto paused in the doorway, scanning the bleachers in the gymnasium quickly before finding a seat and leading the others to them. He sat down in the front row with Nagisa and Rei beside him, Kisumi sitting on the outside of the aisle with Seiji and Shiori. Asuka sat behind him with Kosei, leaving room for Kaito and Taisei beside them.
“So, is Haru really as good as Asuka keeps saying?” Kosei asked leaning forward a bit, so Makoto could hear him.
“Haru seems as if he was born in the water.”
“He’s a mermaid, I swear.” Kisumi said, looking back at him. “But Makoto is pretty amazing too, for someone who is scared of water.”
“You’re scared of the water? But you’re going to be a swimming coach.” Asuka said, his words clouding with confusion.
“I was. I nearly drowned when I was younger, and it took a long time for me to be comfortable in the water.”
“It makes him a natural with kids who are scared of water, like my brother,” Kisumi said smiling a bit.
Makoto opening his mouth to reply, but paused, eyes widening with shock.
“I don’t believe it,” he said softly, watching someone walking towards them.
“What’s going on?” Asuka asked, but Makoto shook his head, standing up slowly.
“Sousuke..” he started, and Sousuke gave him a small smile as he walked up to their seats.
“Mind if I join you?”
“I...no, of course not.” Makoto said, turning to Asuka and Kosei, who stood up to let him sit beside them. “Does Rin know you’re here?”
“I didn’t want to distract him,” Sousuke said shaking his head. “If I spoke to him before the competition, that’s all he’d think about. I’m hoping he’ll talk to me after. I won’t blame him if he didn’t.”
“Wait, you’re the guy who played games, and ghosted him?”
“His words, not Rin’s,” Makoto said, with a sigh.
“I mean, you’re the guy who took off cause you were jealous of Haru, and then wouldn’t give him a straight answer for months about whether you were broken up or not right?”
“I...when you put it like that…”
“Dude, it must be love, or ya know, it’s the sex, ‘cause you’re cute, but you are not cute enough to put up with crazy shit like that.”
Sousuke gaped at Asuka, and Makoto sighed.
“Sousuke, this is Asuka, he’s a friend.” He said.
“Does this mean you want to get back with Rin?” Nagisa asked.
“If that’s what he wants.” Sousuke told him, running his fingers through his hair. “I’d understand if he didn’t. But...I’m hopeful.”
“So you’re done playing games?” Asuka asked him.
“I wasn’t playing games. There was a lot I had to figure out, about me and our relationship, and I didn’t know how to explain that over the phone.”
“But you did? Figure it out?” Makoto asked, looking back at him.
“Yes. I’m in a much better place than I was when I left. So, I’m hoping we can try again.”
“Well...good luck.” Makoto said smiling at him a bit.
Makoto nodded, pulling out his phone to send a quick text, warning Haru that Sousuke was there. He waited for Haru to respond before putting his phone away and looking up.
“Papa, when is it gonna start?” Shiori pouted a bit, sitting on her dad’s lap.
“Well, we have to wait for everyone to be seated, and then the teams will come out. You’ll know when it’s going to start.” Seiji told her with a smile.
She sighed crossing her arms and Makoto laughed softly.
“That was not the answer she was looking for.”
“Not at all,” Seiji said with a chuckle.
Makoto shook his head smiling, as Kisumi pulled out his phone, opening an app and pulling out the stylus before handing it to Shiori who smiled widely.
“It’s a drawing app,” Kisumi told Makoto who was looking at him curiously. “She loves to draw.”
Shiori grinned taking the phone happily. Makoto watched her smiling a bit before standing and waving to Taisei and Kaito as he noticed them walking up the stairs.
“Hey, glad you could make it,” he told them as they stepped up to their seats.
“We’re just glad Haru invited us,” Kaito said, with a smile, as Taisei slid onto the bleacher beside Asuka and Kosei, giving Kosei a small smile.
“Hey, Taisei, you’re looking a lot better.”
“It’s amazing what actual food will do, not that hospital crap,” he said with a small smile, taking off his hat and coat.
“Oh my gosh, you’re adorable!” Asuka cried, as Taisei ran his fingers through his hair, trying dispel that hat head.
Taisei froze, turning to Asuka with his eyebrows raised, as Kosei laughed softly.
“Don’t you think so?” Asuka asked turning to Kosei. “With those big blue eyes and that fluffy blonde hair? He’s adorable! Like Nagisa is.”
“Taisei, Kaito, this is Asuka. He’s a friend of ours. I promise he’s harmless. He’s just had way too much coffee today.” Makoto said with a sigh.
“Nice to meet you,” Kaito said sitting beside Taisei, laying his coat over his lap.
“Hello handsome,” Asuka said with a smile, causing Kosei to look at him with a raised eyebrow. “What? It’s the truth. I’m just acknowledging the truth.”
“You’re ridiculous, you know that?” Kosei asked, but there was a smile on his face, showing he wasn’t really bothered.
Makoto tuned them out, turning back to the pool in front of him as the different teams stepped out of the dressing rooms.
“It’s starting!” Shiori cried out, handing Kisumi his phone back.
Makoto leaned forward as the first competitors lined up to their stations before diving into the water. He eyes searched out Haru in the crowd and found him standing near the back, with his jacket still on. He waved, with a smile crossing his face. Haru waved back at him, before Makoto continued looking for Rin in the crowd, pausing when he saw Rin staring up at them eyes wide.
“I think you’ve been spotted,” Makoto told Sousuke.
“I think so too,” Sousuke said quietly, raising his hand a little. “I was hoping he wouldn’t notice me. Probably shouldn’t have sat with you guys.”
“Who knows, maybe he’ll swim better trying to show off.”
Silence fell on the group as the competition began in earnest. It was quite a while later that Haru finally stepped up to the pool. Makoto grinned, resting his elbows on his knees as Haru dove into the water.
“Oh wow!” Shiori cried, watching Haru swim. “He really is like a mermaid.”
“Merman,” Kisumi corrected gently.
“That’s what I said.”
“You can’t even tell he’s been out of practice,” Asuka said with a smile.
“And he didn’t think he was ready to go to Kyoto for next week's competition,” Makoto said with a smile, shaking his head. “He’s doesn’t have anything to worry about.”
“Rin’s not too shabby either,” Asuka said, surprised.
“No, he and Haru have always been relatively evenly matched. Ever since we were kids.”
“Huh, Haru never said anything about that.”
“Probably cause he was too busy stopping you from flirting with every guy that walked by,” Makoto said with a laugh.
“I’m not that bad.”
“Yes you are,” Nagisa said, looking back at him.
Asuka pouted slouching a bit in his seat, crossing his arms.
Makoto watched as Haru reached the end of the pool, and was helped up the ladder. He turned to the clock and whistled.
“That time is going to be tough to beat. I wouldn’t be surprised if Haru and Rin wind up in first and second place. I’ve never seen times like that.”
“That’s pretty amazing, honestly.” Kaito said softly.
“He never told me he was so talented.” Taisei told them.
“That’s because Haru doesn’t consider it a talent. It’s always been part of who he is.” Nagisa said with a smile. “He swims because he loves it, not because he wants to win.”
“That’s a healthier way to look at sports, in my opinion. I was the same way when I played football.”
“You played football?” Taisei asked him, surprised.
“I was...until the rest of the team found out I was gay. They never officially kicked me off the team, but a few of them made it obvious they didn’t like sharing the locker room with me, so I quit.”
“Other people have it worse.”
“How much longer papa,” Shiori asked softly, and Seiji looked at Makoto.
“One more team,” he said looking at the program. “And then it’s over.”
“Not much longer sweetheart.”
Makoto turned back to the competition, taking in the times of the rest of the swimmers. They were all very talented. Part of him itched to be down there swimming with them. He was happy with his choice of going to school to be a swim coach, but sometimes he missed the competitions.
He stood up clapping when they announced the final scores. Haru wound up coming in second place, Rin a close third behind him. Someone from the final school managing to beat them both, but barely. Makoto waited until the majority of the crowd cleared out before heading down the stairs to meet Haru outside the gym.
Haru looked up with a small smile, as he stepped out the locker room. Makoto was walking towards him, with the others all behind him.
“Second place isn’t bad for someone who’s hasn’t been swimming in competitions for over two months,” Asuka said with a wide grin.
“No, I suppose it’s not,” Haru told him with a grin.
“You looked just like a mermaid!” Shiori cried, causing Haru to blush lightly.
“Thanks Shiori. Hello Kaito, Taisei...and Sousuke.”
“We should definitely go somewhere to eat and celebrate,” Makoto told Haru happily, putting his arm around him. “Especially since everyone else is here.”
“That sounds amazing. I’m starving!” Rin said, stepping out the locker room, pausing as he saw Sousuke.
“Rin.” Sousuke started, stepping forward slowly.
Haru swallowed, looking between the two of them.
“Sousuke...you came. I wasn't sure you would.”
“Neither was I, until last night. We...we should go somewhere to talk.”
Rin looked over at the others before turning back to Sousuke giving him a small smile.
“After lunch. Like I said, I’m starving. Come on, what are we waiting for. He can join us, right Haru?”
“Of course,” Haru said, nodding a bit. “Let’s go.”
“I know a great place. I’ll call ahead to let them know to expect a party of .... 13?” Kaito said, pulling out his phone.
“Thanks Kaito, lead the way.”
Taisei smiled walking up to Haru, putting his hand on his shoulder.
“You did very well Haru. Thank you for inviting me.”
“Thank you for coming.” Haru told him, smiling a bit. “Now let’s go. I’m with Rin. I’m starving. Breakfast has worn off. Do they serve mackerel at this restaurant Kaito?”
“Good lord Haru, try something else,” he said with a laugh.
“Why should I? Mackerel is delicious.”
“If you say so…” Makoto sighed, following as they walked out the building.