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Beautiful Disaster

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It’s too late.

The sentence repeats itself in Haruka’s mind as he rolls out of bed, carving a shadow through the moonlight painted across his bedroom. The doorbell lets out another ring, identical to the one that had woken him up, and he takes a second to glance at his clock.

It’s too early, he corrects himself, but he thinks it just as bitterly. He pulls his comforter over his head, draping it around his shoulders and cocooning himself as he takes the steps he needs to out of his room, down the stairs, towards the front door.

If it’s his neighbor asking him to borrow his flour for early-morning baking again, he swears he’s going to—

“Rin,” he says, doesn’t ask, because even through his foggy, sleep-soaked daze, he knows exactly who the messy red hair and challenging eyes belong to.

And Rin shifts; shifts his feet against the ground, the backpack on his shoulder, the suitcase by his feet. “Hey.”

Haruka doesn’t even try to hide his grogginess. He leans against the doorframe, blinking frantically in an attempt to keep his eyes focused. “It’s early,” is all he manages, swallowing down a yawn.

But it’s okay, apparently, because Rin understands. “I know. Sorry. I just …” he trails off, searching for words like he’s completely unprepared for this situation, even though he’s the one who’s shown up at Haruka’s door at this ungodly hour of the morning. “... I’m about to leave.”

“Okay.” Haruka says, and waits. He can tell, from the shifty gaze in Rin’s eyes and the guilty furrow of his brow, that there’s more to it.

“And,” Rin continues. “I haven’t … you know. Seen you in a while.”

“Oh,” Haruka mumbles, trying to think back to when he’d seen Rin last. He remembers the pool, Rin’s watery smile, Nagisa crying— “Nationals.”

Rin nods. “Yeah. It’s been two weeks. I know that … we said goodbye to each other when we were there because we didn’t think we’d see each other until I left, but.” Rin doesn’t even trail off. He simply stops talking, like that’s where his train of thought had ended and didn’t bother to start back up again. He digs his toe into the edge of Haruka’s door.

“You wanted to say goodbye now?” Haruka guesses, because that’s a good enough excuse to show up this early, he supposes. He starts to shift himself off of the doorframe because God knows Rin’s a hugger, and straightens his arms a little, preparing to be embraced.

But instead, Rin’s mouth opens and he says, “Actually,” and pauses, pulling his bottom lip between his teeth and biting. It looks painful. “Actually, I … wanted to see if you’d come to the airport with me.”

Haruka blinks. He’s pretty sure he heard Rin correctly, but the request is so … random, so out-of-the-blue that he has to wonder if he didn’t. Rin’s expression is crumpled, like he’s a inch away from taking the words back but just as close to pushing the idea, and he’s caught between which to do. His bottom lip is stuck between his teeth again, and Haruka wants to reach over and pull it free with his thumb.

Then, he realizes something: Rin is by himself.

He’s standing at Haruka’s doorway by himself, and the fact that he’s carrying his luggage means that there’s no one in a car waiting for him, so he must be going to the station by himself, as well.

He’s leaving home again, all on his own.

Maybe it’s that, or maybe it’s the way Rin suddenly glances up at him, something achingly similar to insecurity shining in his eyes and embarrassment furrowed in his brow. Whatever it is, Haruka starts to nod.

“Okay,” he says, and when Rin smiles at him, he suddenly feels more awake than he’s ever been.

 

“Is this all you’re taking to your dorm?” Haruka asks when they’re sitting in the airport, nodding to Rin’s backpack and single suitcase.

Rin shakes his head and offers a smile. “Nah, the rest of my stuff’s getting shipped. This was just the stuff that’s easy to bring on the plane.”

“Oh,” Haruka says, toying with the hem of his jacket. He presses the heel of his foot hard against the leg of his chair, feeling somewhat awkward in the silence. It’s the first time in a long time that he can remember silence being anything but comfortable between them; it’s unsettling, and he searches for words, forcing the first he can think of to his tongue. “Why were you going to come here alone?” is what he ends up asking, and … yeah, now that he thinks about it, maybe it wasn’t the kindest thing to ask.

But Rin doesn’t react negatively; he just shrugs, then turns his face away. “My mom’s got work in the morning. Kou’s over a friend’s house. Sousuke left already. Not really many people I could ask to go with me, but it’s whatever. I’m used to traveling on my own.”

“So why’d you ask me?” Haruka asks, and then blinks, wondering where the hell his filter is and why it isn’t working, but he is curious, so he lets the question sit.

Rin, though, looks startled and a little red-faced when he turns to face Haruka. “You didn’t have to come,” he blurts, and Haruka frowns.

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“Yeah,” Rin mutters, sinking noticeably into his chair. “Well.”

It’s the finality in his voice that lets Haruka know he’s not going to get any further than that.

He sighs, thinking about the last time he’d been in this airport. Rin had shown up unannounced then, too, but they had both been in much higher spirits.

Because this time, Rin was the only one leaving. He’d simply chosen Haruka to be the one to watch him go.

Before the idea of that can cause a confusing kind of swelling in his chest, he sees Rin’s hand suddenly clench around his plane ticket. Rin stands up a second later, and Haruka realizes he must have zoned out through Rin’s flight being announced. Suddenly, the idea of Rin leaving for months—months—is right in front of him, staring him in the face through a curtain of tousled auburn hair with a shaky smile, and wow, this definitely didn’t hurt as much last night, when Makoto had mentioned randomly that Rin would be leaving the next day. It definitely hadn’t had this kind of a hold on his heart, squeezing tightly and painfully.

“Well,” Rin releases with a puff of air, pulling Haruka back into reality. “I guess this is goodbye for now.”

Finally, Haruka stands. He feels like he should say something, maybe along the lines of good luck or have fun at school, but nothing he comes up with feels right. Shifting a little on his feet, he settles on, “Goodbye.”

Except, Rin doesn’t move. In fact, he doesn’t move a muscle. Which is weird, because Haruka was at least expecting a hug. Not that he was particularly looking forward to it, but, does Rin want one? Should he be the one to initiate it? Is Rin expecting him to initiate it?

Then, “Shit.” And Rin is laughing as he says it, but it’s a hollow laugh, one that echoes with dread and something else that Haruka can’t place. “I don’t want to leave.”

The words crash into Haruka like a tidal wave, overwhelming and much more forceful than he could ever imagine. “... You like Australia,” he says, eyebrows pulling downward in confusion.

“I do,” Rin tells him, a wry smile pulling at his mouth. “It’s not that. Going, I’m fine with. I want to go.” He pauses to glance at the floor. “I just don’t want to leave.”

Haruka stares at him, unblinking. And then, he starts to understand.

Rin wants to go to Sydney. He wants to go to college and make his dreams come true in a place that once tore him apart, a place he can conquer, a place so close to his heart. He just doesn’t want to have to leave to do it.

It makes sense, really. That’s the first thing Haruka thinks after he’s turned the realization over in his head a few times. It makes sense because it isn’t fair that Rin should have to leave his family and friends behind just to chase after the dream that he wants so desperately. He’s the kind of person who deserves everything he loves, all at once.

“I’m sorry,” Haruka says, because it’s something that he knows is comforting, even if it isn’t much. But the words must mean a lot to Rin, because he immediately deflates, shoulders slumping and expression drawn up in something like adoration.

“God, what are you sorry for?” He asks it like Haruka’s done something to torture him, and then hangs his head forward, sighing. “You’ve done nothing wrong, fuck.”

And Haruka just watches him, blinking and completely unsure of what to do in this kind of situation. He takes a few seconds to watch Rin look at the floor, and then repeats himself. “Sorry.”

Rin honest-to-God laughs this time, far too loudly for an airport this early in the morning, but he’s smiling when he lifts his head up to look at Haruka, so it’s perfectly alright. “Haru—” he starts, shaking his head incredulously. “You’re hopeless.”

Haruka’s not sure what possesses him to do it. It might be the fact that Rin’s leaving. It might be the fact that Rin’s laughing. It might even be because he’s not sure if he’ll get the chance to do it again and he just wants to try it, but whatever the reason is and whether or not Haruka will ever figure it out, he wants badly to kiss Rin. So he takes a daring step forward and leans, tilts his head the way he thinks he’s supposed to, and he does.

And, he misses. Or, maybe not. There’s no way to tell, because he’s never done this before, but he ends up kissing Rin’s bottom lip exclusively, and it’s actually okay because they sort of fit together there. It’s not by any means a hard kiss, or even a normal one; it’s just a press of Haruka’s lips against Rin’s and Rin pressing back, timidly.

It’s the only movement that either of them makes. Neither of them reaches for the other; they just stand there, leaning their mouths together and exchanging gentle goodbyes in a way that they can’t do with words. It makes Haruka’s skin tingle, not only at his lips but all the way down to his toes and clawing into his stomach, releasing a kaleidoscope of butterflies there.

He can think of words like amazing or incredible or what, what, what but they all feel so inadequate here. It's come out of nothing, but he's not feeling nothing. It's everything and not enough, all at once.

When Haruka pulls away, Rin’s eyes are wide. So wide, in fact, that Haruka wonders if they were open the entire time they were kissing, watching Haruka’s own eyes inevitably flutter in their close proximity. Then, Rin opens his mouth, gaping a little, and his jaw trembles with a fruitless search for words.

“How—” he finally starts, and it sounds a lot like the beginning of how did you know but he doesn’t finish the question, and Haruka wouldn’t know how to answer it, anyway. Rin takes a deep breath after he cuts himself off, and then swallows.

Haruka waits for him to say something—anything, but Rin says nothing. He just raises a hand to rest on the back of his head and leaves it there, his eyes looking into Haruka’s like he can’t bear to turn away. A soft pink sort of color is caressing the edges of his cheekbones, reaching up to touch the tops of his ears, and oh, Haruka thinks, asking himself why Rin is blushing even though he knows the answer. And because he can, because it feels okay, he leans forward and kisses Rin again, right where the soft color is deepening.

“Haru.” Rin says the name like it’s lodged in his throat and he’s choking on it.

Haruka pulls back, leaning heavily on his heels. “Sorry,” he says for the third time in a row. Even though, this time, he’s not.

But Rin just smiles, and it’s bright and wonderful and Haruka wants to keep it there forever. “Idiot,” Rin breathes, his eyebrows tightening and pulling upward. “For what?”

When Rin hugs him, Haruka makes the best attempt he can to hug back, tight and warm and in a way that he hopes doesn’t say  don’t go, because Rin needs to. He needs to, and they both know it.

“Will you call?” Haruka asks into Rin’s shoulder, suddenly hating the idea of letting go.

Rin hums, low and comforting in Haruka’s ear. “I’d call every damn hour if you asked me to.”

It’s the first time Haruka can ever remember feeling himself blush. He buries his face further into Rin’s jacket and breathes in deeply. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Rin repeats, and then releases him. He stares for a moment or two, and when his gaze falls to Haruka’s lips, Haruka has to wonder if they’re going to kiss again. But another call comes over the intercom, announcing the last call for Rin’s flight, and with a curse Rin is stepping forward, forced to act quickly, and plants a kiss on Haruka’s forehead. “Bye,” he breathes, and then turns.

He’s twenty feet away with his back completely turned when Haruka finally thinks of a response. So with a hand pressed to the side of his neck, rubbing as if that could shoo the heat away, he whispers, “Goodbye, Rin.”

He stays to watch Rin’s plane take off, gliding beautifully into the break of dawn, before he leaves.

 

Rin doesn’t call every hour.

Not that Haruka actually expected him to. But it isn’t just that.

It’s been a week since Rin left, and Haruka hasn’t received a single word. No phone calls, no texts, no Skype notifications on his laptop whenever he bothers to open it. He doesn’t know whether to be contented with the fact that it means Rin is probably busy, making new friends and getting along fine, or angry at the fact that Rin hasn’t even thought of him.

As it turns out, he swaps between the two. Another week passes, and he spends the majority of it unfazed, meets with the first two of a handful of swimming scouts who are more than accepting of his request for a gap year and checks his phone regularly, feeling numb when no new notifications pop up. The smaller part of it is wracked with confusion, with Rin and Rin’s behavior and with himself, and whether or not kissing Rin that morning in the airport was a good idea at all.

Does Rin hate him? The idea seems unlikely, but. He always glances at his phone after asking himself that question, and the lack of messages paired with the date in the top corner do nothing to soothe him.

Twenty-three days have gone by since Rin’s left when Haruka finally gives in. It’s at night; maybe a little too late, because he knows that Rin has classes in the morning and his night is two hours ahead of Haruka’s, but it’s been twenty-three days and he’s tired of being trapped in his own head.

He’s thought about telling Makoto. Actually, he’d called Makoto that morning after Rin had left, ready to tell him with the words sitting heavily on his tongue, but something about it rubbed him the wrong way at the last minute. It isn’t only Haruka’s business, after all—it’s Rin’s, too, and sharing that with someone, even Makoto, made him feel like he was doing something wrong.

So when he dials Rin’s number, he’s frustrated and irritated and maybe a little angry.

Rin picks up after the first ring.

Haru?” comes Rin’s voice, and it sounds rushed and there’s shuffling.

“Hi,” Haruka says, and he knows he sounds bitter, but he can’t really bring himself to care.

But Rin doesn’t notice, or maybe he doesn’t care either, because he sounds elated when he says, “Hi.” There’s more shuffling, and then it all stops and there’s only Rin’s voice. “I … hi.

Haruka blinks. “Is this a bad time?”

What? No! I mean … no, of course not. Why?

“You sounded like you were startled that I called,” Haruka tells him.

No,” Rin says. “Just—I was doing homework, and everything. You know. Um,” he pauses. “... What’s up?

Haruka would glare if Rin were there in front of him. “You haven't called,” he says.

The inhale of breath he hears Rin take is all the confirmation he needs to know that Rin understands he’s angry.

I know,” Rin admits. “I’m sorry.”

“Why didn't you?” Haruka asks, and he can practically see Rin shrugging at the other end of the line.

I … was sort of waiting for you to call first.

He says it like he's embarrassed, and Haruka frowns. “Why?”

A sigh. “Since when do you ask so many damn questions?

Haruka waits.

Because,” Rin continues. “Because you were the one to …

“I kissed you,” Haruka fills in for him when he doesn't finish.

Rin must be laying down, because Haruka hears the ruffle of sheets as Rin presumably turns over. “Yeah,” he murmurs. “That.” Then, a moment later: “Why did you do that?

A million answers swarm around in Haruka’s mind. He contemplates brushing the question off completely, but honestly, he’s curious as to why he did it, himself.

“You looked like you needed it,” he settles on saying when he remembers that way Rin looked that night, nervous and terrified and a little embarrassed.

I … what?

“I didn't know what else to do,” Haruka continues. “And, I don't know. I guess I wanted to.”

You guess?” Rin asks like he was expecting much more from him, and Haruka sighs.

“Do we have to talk about it?” he asks, pushing himself up out of bed.

I mean, yeah. Kind of. It's sort of important, don't you think?” Rin’s voice is mostly level, but it’s tilting towards something too close to nervousness for Haruka not to notice.

He makes his way down the stairs as he thinks. “Do you think it is?”

Rin laughs, but it sounds uncomfortable. “I think … I think it’s important we talk about why it happened,” he mumbles, and then says, a little too quickly: “Look, if you want to forget about it, we can.”

Haruka’s startled enough by the idea that he comes to a halt at the bottom of his stairs. “I don't want to forget about it.”

Rin goes completely silent after Haruka says that. So much so that Haruka has to pull the phone away from his ear and glance at the screen to make sure that Rin hadn’t hung up. When he brings the phone back to his ear, brow furrowed, Rin finally speaks again.

You don’t?” The self-deprecation is clear and unmistakable underneath the words, and it makes Haruka’s heart thump loudly against his ribcage.

“No,” he states calmly, approaching his stove and producing a teapot. “And I’d do it again. If you were here.”

Rin makes some sort of choking sound when he says that, and Haruka blinks, silently filling the teapot with water. “You would?” rasps the voice over the phone. “Really?

Haruka thinks about it. Thinks about the way Rin had timidly but immediately pressed back into him, the way that he had blushed, the way he stared at Haruka like he was something to be beholded. “Yeah,” he answers decisively. “I mean, I’m sort of pissed you didn’t call me, so maybe not right this second.”

But Rin laughs, and Haruka realizes that whatever anger he’d felt when he called Rin in the first place was gone now, had been gone from the moment Rin picked up the phone.

“Would that be okay?” Haruka hears himself asking before he means to say it. “If I kissed you again?”

He listens to Rin exhale, slow and deliberate, and waits patiently for an answer. For some reason that he can’t seem to place, he doesn’t feel nervous about it. He thinks that maybe he should—that maybe it would be a normal thing if he felt nervous asking Rin (of all people) if he could kiss him the same way he had over two weeks ago in the poorly lit airport as means of a desperate goodbye.

Haru,” Rin murmurs, and Haruka tightens his hold on the phone. “That would be so much more than okay.”

 

They don't talk about labels.

It’s a little odd, considering they start talking almost every day, and on the days after they can’t, they talk twice as long to make up for it. So really, it’s somewhat of a miracle that they don’t end up having that talk, don’t end up discussing what they are and how the hell they’re supposed to make it work being so far away from each other.

But it’s fine with Haruka. Because, honestly, he would have no idea where to start in answering those questions.

And the question is there. It taints the tones of their voices in every conversation that they have; it simply goes unspoken, remains as unexplored territory between the two of them, and somehow, they’re okay with it. It almost feels better that they don’t try to force it, don’t try to talk about something that they’re both unsure of.

For now, it’s easy to just listen to sound of the other’s voice and become consumed in it. And easy is all Haruka thinks he can handle right now, in his life in general and certainly in his life with Rin.

Eventually, they run out of things to talk about. Haruka’s told him all about the scouts he talks with, his plans for the future, and Rin talks about college life and schoolwork and all of his professors. On the nights that they Skype, Rin will sometimes pull his roommate into the conversation. He’s a nice enough guy—an English literature major and creative writing minor, which maybe is only fascinating to Haruka because he hardly speaks the language, but he loves hearing about it, regardless. The kid is just as impressed with Haruka’s artwork, which is something Rin only rarely manages to convince him to show on camera. They talk about swimming, about the future it might hold for the both of them, and on the anniversary of his death, they even talk about Rin’s father.

So really, it doesn’t surprise either of them when they figure out they’ve talked about it all. And to Haruka’s relief, it doesn’t change anything. Their evening calls are no shorter; they’re simply spent with less talking and more time just listening, to the music the other is listening to, the sound of pages being turned in a textbook, the quiet rush of the other’s breathing. Once or twice, Rin sings Haruka a song in English.

As it turns out, reminders of the other’s presence, of the fact that they’re still connected in some way, is all they start to need anymore.

That’s not to say, of course, that Haruka doesn’t miss Rin, because he does. God, he does. He misses him like the earth must miss the sun when the clouds take it out of sight. And it’s a painful sort of missing, like Rin’s didn’t just take himself away when he left, but he took a vital piece of Haruka with him for safekeeping. And every time he hears Rin’s voice, it’s like he can feel that piece of him start to return.

So when Rin says he doesn’t have the money to come home for December break, Haruka finds himself searching for plane tickets online. And he knows exactly what to blame it on.

He doesn’t tell Rin. He makes sure not to. Not so much for the sake of surprising him, because Haruka hates surprises, himself, but because he knows that if he tells Rin, their nightly phone calls would be filled with anticipation and excitement that’s soon to be lost instead of the normal conversations and the comfortable silences he’s grown so fond of, and that’s not something Haruka wants to gamble away. They mean too much to him.

He schedules his trip before Rin’s break starts, because he knows that Rin will explode over the idea of being able to show Haruka around campus, and calls Russell and Lori ahead of time for recommendations on cheap hotels.

Instead they offer him a room of their own to stay in immediately, and with some convincing, Haruka accepts.

On the morning of his flight, he texts Rin with an apology over the fact that he doesn’t have time to call that day. He doesn’t mention why and Rin doesn’t ask, and he’s grateful that he doesn’t have to come up with a lie.

The plane ride is just as long and just as horrible as Haruka remembers it from the trip Rin dragged him on over a year prior, and he wonders if Rin’s ever gotten used to it, or if the calm demeanor he seemed to have while traveling was just a front he’d put up for Haruka’s sake. It had certainly seemed like he wasn’t pretending, anyway, but Haruka can’t imagine anyone actually enjoying a twelve-hour long stuffy plane ride loaded with strangers.

Rin, Haruka realizes with a start, makes a lot of things worth his while.

It’s late when he arrives at the dormitory, but he enters easily. He remembers feeling uneasy when Rin had told him the doors only lock after midnight, but now he’s grateful for it, somewhat elated at the idea of being able to surprise Rin at his own door. When he’s inside, the air is automatically stuffier than it is outside, but the interior is nice so it’s comfortable, regardless.

He knows, though, that it’s the fact that Rin lives here that makes it easy to make his way through the halls.

He lives on the first floor, and Haruka’s thankful because it means he doesn’t have to drag his luggage up any number of stairs. And because it’s so close, Haruka reaches Rin’s room before he thinks he’s ready.

Because it’s been so long. Because the last time they saw each other his world had spun on its axis and then been flipped upside down. Because all they’ve done since is talk and listen and be aware of each other, and suddenly, seeing Rin is something he’s not used to at all.

He raises a hand and knocks. And even though he causes the sound, it makes his heart leap up and swell in his throat.

When the door opens, a boy with mussed brown hair and glasses drooping at the end of his nose is standing there. He must have been just about to go to bed, because his lamp is the only thing that illuminates the dark dorm, and he’s clearly in his sleepwear. Immediately Haruka recognizes the boy from his Skype calls with Rin as his roommate, Dylan, but frowns when he looks past him at the bed he knows belongs to Rin.

It’s empty, the blankets neatly pulled over it and all.

“Yeah?” the boy asks, in English, blinking tiredly.

All at once, Haruka feels awkward and out of place. Before, he’d felt fine, thinking that Rin was somewhere enclosed within the four walls of this building, but now there’s no trace of him, and Haruka suddenly feels like he’s somewhere he shouldn’t be. That the entire world around him is unfamiliar territory.

His lack of knowledge in the English language doesn’t exactly make him feel better.

“Hello,” he mumbles in his best attempt at the language, lowering his gaze uncomfortably. “I am ... looking for Rin?” He stumbles over the words, trying hard to make his accent somewhat understandable, and thanks Rin for the few, but helpful lessons in English that he’d provided at random.

Dylan’s eyes widen in recognition. “Oh! Oh, I know you. Haruka. You’re Rin’s boyfriend, right?” And even through his only catching one word, Haruka blushes, but because he doesn’t know how to say anything along the lines of it’s complicated, we haven’t talked about it, we’re not there yet, don’t call me that in English, he nods. “He’s been spending the week with some people downtown. Russell and Lori, I think. They were his homestay family. He wanted to move in before the holiday. Said something about the idea of moving his stuff out when everyone else is would be a hassle for him.”

He speaks rapidly, but the second Haruka hears the names Russell and Lori, he understands. The pieces fall together quickly, and he wonders briefly if the couple had deliberately not mentioned Rin moving in early or if they had and he just hadn’t understood them before he nods again, and takes a step back. “Thank you. Sorry for disturbing you,” he says, albeit somewhat brokenly, but Dylan seems to understand anyway because he smiles, and shouts my pleasure! in near perfect Japanese when Haruka walks quickly away.

And Haruka might appreciate that, if it weren’t for the fact that he's focused on taking his phone into his hand.

He doesn’t love that he has to do this, doesn’t much appreciate that he won’t be able to see Rin’s reaction face-to-face, but this is good enough. It has to be, for now. He lifts his cell phone to his ear, and as he exits the building, waits.

Rin picks up two rings in, and Haruka can picture the exact smile he’s wearing when he says, “Hey. You’re calling late.”

Haruka doesn’t even bother wasting time. “You know Russell and Lori’s exact address, right?” he asks, tugging his suitcase along the cracks in the sidewalk.

“... Uh. Yeah. Why?

Haruka takes in a deep breath, releases it. “I sort of need to know what to tell the cab driver.”

He counts the seconds that Rin is silent for. Eight, nine, ten, eleven. He manages to hail down a cab, and the driver pulls over to where he’s standing on the curb just as Rin stutters out:

You … you, what?

“Now, Rin,” Haruka says as he opens the door. “The cab’s here.”

Haru,” Rin wheezes. “You—holy shit. You’re here?

Haruka huffs and pushes his suitcase into the backseat, balancing his phone between his shoulder and his cheek. “Yeah. But I won’t get to see you if you don’t tell me the address.”

A string of flabbergasted expletives later and Rin is rapidly telling him the address, over and over. Haruka repeats it as carefully as he can to the driver, and then leaves an appropriately shocked Rin with a see you soon before he hangs up. He closes the door and the cab lurches to a start underneath him.

I’m going to see Rin, he thinks, and for a long few minutes it’s the only thing he can think, and the palms of his hands start sweating with every turn they make, like he’s terrified that he’ll recognize the street, the driveway, the house he once visited.

But he isn’t terrified. Maybe he should be, like he was when he was standing at Rin’s dorm, but now that he’s heard Rin’s voice, surprised and panicked and so damn excited, all he feels is a nervous excitement that he’s not in the least bit used to swelling in the pit of his stomach.

When they do pull up to the house, his heart is beating almost painfully against the confinement of his chest. Because Haruka can see right through the living room window of the house, and just as quickly can see Rin laying there on the couch.

And it’s almost comical, because Rin sees him, too, and even from this distance Haruka can see his eyes go wide, and he bolts up off of the couch, tripping over the edge of a table and falling forward ungracefully. Haruka can only imagine the curses spilling out of his mouth as he gets up, and then he disappears behind the edge of the window, presumably running for the door.

He gets there faster than Haruka does, so the door is already open by the time Haruka reaches it, and there’s Rin—there he is—wearing a tank top and a pair of sweatpants and his hair in an ungroomed mess. He’s completely unprepared for Haruka or for any company, but fuck if he isn’t the most beautiful thing Haruka’s seen in months.

“Hi,” Rin breathes, and Haruka has exactly one second to think of what to say in response before Rin’s hand is a blur through the hair, tangling in the front of his t-shirt and forcing him over the threshold.

Not three seconds later the door’s shut behind him, and he’s pressed against it, and Rin’s pressed against him, knees knocking against knees, hips slotting together, mouths pleadingly thrust against the other’s.

It’s different from their first kiss. Rin wastes no time in pushing Haruka’s mouth open with his own and his tongue is something new but wonderful, sending bolts of electricity through Haruka’s lips, his tongue, the roof of his mouth. And they have no idea what they’re doing; their hands scramble awkwardly and their kisses are clumsy, messy and wet but perfect all the same.

Rin’s hands, shaking and unsure, move to push Haruka’s shirt up and over his stomach, and Rin’s hands sliding warm against his fluttering skin must be what jumpstarts Haruka’s brain into functioning because he finally thinks of something. He pulls away, takes a gulp of air. He feels the edge of Rin’s nose trace along his cheekbone as he catches his breath, and when he does, just above a whisper, says:

“I missed you.”

Rin laughs, a puff of air across Haruka’s cheek, and his hands curl a little bit against Haruka’s stomach. It’s his own personal I missed you, too, but all Haruka can think about is how much he wants Rin to kiss him again, urgent and needy and like they’ll never get the chance to kiss again in their lives.

“Sorry, I—” Rin swallows, glancing around. “I didn’t really get the chance to clean. If I’d known you were coming I would have—”

“Rin,” Haruka says, leaning his forehead heavily against Rin’s temple. “It’s fine.” He watches Rin’s lips tremble, wants them back on his own.

His hands find Rin’s hips and tug, hard.

A groan. A quick kiss is placed against his lips, and then Rin pulls back to look at him.

“We’re here alone,” he says.

Oh?

It takes Haruka a good few seconds to realize what those words mean, what the promise behind them is. When he does, he feels his entire body warm up, and his hands tighten at Rin’s hips.

“Okay,” he says, half because it’s the only thing that he can think of to say, and half because it is okay—it’s so okay—that they’re here alone. “Russell and Lori?”

Rin shakes his head, the ends of his hair tickling Haruka’s forehead softly. “Out to dinner. Won’t be back until way later.”

This is fast, Haruka’s brain murmurs. This is much too fast. But Rin’s thumbs rub at the edges of his hips, and suddenly he’s overwhelmed, completely taken over by how much he’s missed flames of red hair, striking smiles. “Okay,” he says again, and presses his own hands into Rin’s stomach.

Rin grins. “Okay,” he responds, and kisses Haruka again.

They stumble, Rin backwards and Haruka forwards, to the flight of stairs nestled into a corner. They break apart rather unwillingly so that they can climb the stairs without injury, and somehow they make it to the end of the hallway and into Rin’s room before they connect their mouths again. And Haruka thinks that he’d dropped all of his luggage downstairs, had left it all piled against the front door, and then he thinks nothing, because Rin pulls at his bottom lip with his teeth and thought becomes a concept he can’t even begin to understand.

“You’re here,” Rin breathes between kisses, hands pressing into the sides of Haruka’s neck. “God, Haru. I can’t believe you’re here.”

“Surprise,” Haruka mumbles numbly, and when Rin laughs, Haruka’s hands clench tightly into his shirt.

Rin steps away, then, and Haruka wants to glare at him, but loses all incentive to when he opens his eyes and sees the way Rin is looking at him. His eyes are half-lidded but wide, somehow, at the same time, his cheeks are flushed with something that’s definitely not embarrassment, and his lips are already red and he tugs at them with his own teeth, glancing over Haruka’s frame once, twice, like he can’t figure out what move to make next.

His hands raise a little, and his fingers wind into Haruka’s hair, his thumbs at Haruka’s cheeks. And he leans in with a tentative step forward, seemingly figuring out what he wants to do because his lips find the side of Haruka’s neck. Haruka inhales sharply at the graze of skin, and then leans his head forward a little, honest-to-God moaning when Rin’s mouth opens and closes around a patch of skin, sucking softly.

He swallows, and his voice comes out in a croak when he asks, “Can we lay down?”

Rin freezes, giving Haruka a moment to wonder if he’s said the wrong thing, but then his head starts to move, and Haruka realizes he’s nodding. Rin’s hands find Haruka’s as he pulls back, and then he tugs, setting down onto his bed and bringing Haruka down onto it with him.

They kiss again only when they’re laying down, both on their sides and facing each other. Haruka’s shirt has started to ride up considerably, and finally Rin just tugs at it, urging him to take it off. He does, quickly so as to avoid staying away from Rin’s mouth for too long, and swallows hard when Rin starts pulling his shirt off, too.

He hasn’t seen Rin shirtless since swimming with him at nationals. It’s different, now. So different. Different because he’s not thinking about swimming, or racing, or water at all. Instead he’s thinking about reaching out and scraping his nails along Rin’s stomach, wonders if the muscles will clench underneath his touch if he does and if they do, what it would feel like.

Rin’s mouth presses against his neck again, and his throat goes dry. The kisses are soft and barely there, but he can feel Rin’s tongue regardless, giving soft little touches and licks and it’s more than enough to drive him slightly insane. When Rin reaches his collarbone, though, his mouth opens wider, and his tongue swipes much broader there before he sucks at the skin that stretches over bone. And Haruka keens, the lower part of his back arching slightly.

“Fuck,” Rin whispers, and then he pulls back. His hands fall to Haruka’s hips and push, so that Haruka’s laying flat against the bed, and then they curl over the edge of his jeans and start to pull.

Panic, white hot and scorching, sets a fire up the length of Haruka’s throat.

“Rin,” he breathes, eyes wide and hands moving fast to snatch Rin’s, stopping them where they are. “Rin, I’ve never—”

“Me neither,” Rin tells him, meeting his gaze with softened eyes. “I’m not trying to, I promise, I just. I want to—” he stops, but Haruka hears the rest of the sentence, anyway.

I want to see you.

Haruka swallows. He knows that outwardly, he must look calm, but his insides are a mess of butterflies and shockwaves and so, so much heat. And Rin is there, looking down at him with eyes that say I’m here and I’m so happy and something else that Rin might not be ready to say and Haruka knows he’s not ready to hear.

He releases Rin’s hands and nods.

Rin moves slowly, like he’s afraid he’s going to mess up in some way or another, but soon enough Haruka’s jeans are at his ankles for him to kick off, and Rin is laughing, quiet and sounding overwhelmed.

“You’re wearing your fucking swimsuit,” he gasps, leaning his forehead against the higher part of Haruka’s stomach.

Haruka wants to retort with something like ‘winter is weird and warm here, what do you want from me?’ But the words don’t come, so he reaches down and cards his fingers through Rin’s hair.

“Rin,” he says, and then waits for Rin to look up. “Come here.”

Rin does. But Haruka doesn’t kiss him. Instead, his hands drop low, and he ignores Rin’s noise of surprise as he tugs at the waistband of his sweatpants, pushing them down and over Rin’s hips. Rin has to push them off the rest of the way, and Haruka uses the time it takes for him to do that to reach for his own swimsuit. He breathes, deeply and slowly, before he peels it downwards and kicks it off. It’s the sound it makes when it hits the ground that gets Rin’s attention, and when he looks, his eyes go wide.

“Haru,” he chokes, but Haruka’s surging upward and kissing him before he can finish the thought.

Rin’s boxers join his swimsuit in the blink of an eye.

“I missed you,” Rin is saying next, and the words are whispered confessions into Haruka’s mouth. “I missed you, I missed you. So fucking much.”

Haruka’s heart flutters, and he smiles. “I missed you, too.”

And he has. And it’s okay.

An hour later, they’ve long since stopped kissing. They’re simply wrapped around each other now, with Haruka’s head resting on Rin’s stomach and Rin’s hand in his hair, playing with it absentmindedly. Haruka presses his ear against Rin’s skin and listens, comforted by the sound of his heartbeat.

“Do you have any school left?” Haruka asks for no particular reason, and looks up for Rin’s answer.

Rin is nodding, slowly and leisurely. “Mm. Two more finals. Then I’m done for the semester,” he responds, rubbing his thumb in small circles behind Haruka’s ear. “How long are you staying?”

Haruka settles his hand on Rin’s thigh and pulls his mouth to the side. “As long as you want me here for. I scheduled a flight for the end of next week, but I can always change flights if you want me to stay longer.”

Rin chuckles. “You know, this might come as a shock to you, but I don’t see myself wanting you to leave at any point in the near future,” he says, and Haruka wants to roll his eyes, but instead finds them fixated on Rin’s expression.

He’s looking at him just like he was that morning in the airport. His eyes are like stars, bright and shining, and his smile is one of pleasant incredulity, like he can’t believe Haruka is real.

Haruka sighs. “Will you stop doing that?”

“What?” Rin asks, and the look doesn’t falter for a second.

Haruka reddens, pulling his gaze away to stare at the wall. “Looking at me like that. Like I’m something amazing.” His index finger starts drawing random little patterns across Rin’s thigh, and he hears Rin’s breath hitch when he does it.

Above him, Rin grunts, and it beckons Haruka’s gaze back up. “You are.”

Haruka feels like he could pass out. Or die, if he tried hard enough, if he let himself be completely consumed by those lone two words. Instead he closes his eyes and turns, pressing a long kiss to Rin’s lower stomach. The muscles there contract underneath his touch, and so that’s what it feels like, he thinks.

“Cut that out,” Rin whispers, sounding out of breath, and Haruka smiles for the second time that night, small and hidden by a shadow cast across his face.

He doesn’t apologize. He just lifts himself up and kisses Rin on the mouth, and then lets himself be embraced when Rin’s arms wind around his hips.

They’re not perfect. They still haven’t figured out what they are or where they’re going with what they have. But when Haruka’s looks down and meets Rin’s gaze, he knows it doesn’t matter.

 

And if they fall asleep minutes later, with their forehead pressed together and their limbs a tangled mess, then that really doesn't matter either.