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Love Finds A Way

Chapter Text


You are the sky and I am the sea.
[underthesamestar]

 

On the last day before Makoto's departure to Tokyo, Haru decided to spend the night at Makoto's house, he knew this would make Makoto happy and keep his mind off things. Lately, Makoto seemed less excitable than usual. Even though he tried hiding it, Haru knew just by looking through Makoto's smiles and longing looks that he was sad. Haru, himself, was okay. He was used to people disappearing from his life and he knew Makoto wasn't really disappearing forever, he was just going to Tokyo to study... for a while. Even if they were together almost their whole life, even if they were going to be separated from each other for so long for the first time in their lives, Haru was going to be okay. At least that's what he kept telling himself.

"Haru, Mom said the bath is ready. You can go first."

Haru looked up at Makoto in surprise.

"What about you?" he asked.

"I.. um.. I'll go after you."

"But.." Haru started, wondering why Makoto wasn't looking at him. He didn't understand why Makoto wouldn't take a bath with him. It was a normal occurrence, taking a bath together that is. Ever since they were kids, it was so natural for them that it didn't change even when they grew up. Taking bath together saved time, especially when there was also the rest of Makoto's family waiting for their turn. He couldn't help but think that Makoto's behavior was kind of odd.

"Okay.."

He didn't wanted to question it anymore.

That evening, sitting alone in Tachibana's bath, Haru truly realized that their lives were really going to be different from now on.

When Haru woke up the next morning, Makoto was already awake and sitting at the edge of the bed, his eyes focused on the gray morning sky outside the window. He felt Haru stir and looked over, same gaze as always.

"Good morning Haru," he said, his usual smile on his face. "It's time. We need to get ready. My train will be leaving soon."

"Makoto..."

"Hmm?"

Haru looked hesitant to speak.

"Can I... Can I keep your shirt?" Haru tugged the shirt he was wearing, the one Makoto was always giving to him whenever Haru spent a night at his house.

"Eh?" Makoto blushed lightly and Haru could feel his heart starting to hammer against his chest.

"I.. I will take care of it, until you come back..."

to me.. Haru thought but didn't say out loud. The sudden thought surprised even him.

"Uh... sure," Makoto smiled lightly and for a second, Haru truly felt like crying.

 

-

 

The train was already at the station when they arrived. Makoto's parents hugged and kissed him goodbye, the twins cried and refused to let Makoto go. After he said his goodbyes to his family, it was time to say goodbye to Haru.

"Take care of yourself Haru," Makoto smiled, "Remember to eat better, not only mackerel, and don't jump in the first tank of water you see and-”

"Makoto..." Haru suddenly hugged him without warning.

"Eh?! Haru?"

It was the first time Haru initiated the hug. Haru himself didn't exactly know what he was doing, his body moved on its own. He wanted to touch Makoto, longed to feel his warmth... and in that moment he wanted to never let him go.

Makoto returned the hug. His arms were so strong and at the same time so gentle, Haru wanted this moment to last longer... but it inevitably had to end. And again, Haru felt his eyes tearing up.. but he refused to cry. He swore to himself he wouldn't. They said goodbye with the promise to write to each other everyday about every simple things. Haru stood next to the train window watching Makoto who smiled at him from the other side. Haru reached forward and touched the glass, then mouthed "See you soon, Makoto."

And just like that, the train pulled away. Haru watched it until it disappeared. Until Makoto disappeared.

Makoto felt tears on his cheek. He touched the spot on the window where Haru hand was just a few short moments ago.

"I miss you already.. so much," he whispered, tears streaming down faster. No, he shouldn't cry. This wasn't the end. It wasn't like they'd be separated forever. He'll write to Haru everyday. And, even if Tokyo is far away, he will still visit him whenever he finds time. He reached into his bag to find some tissues, but paused when he saw something unfamiliar inside. He took it out. It was Haru's dolphin bath toy. He must have put it in his back when Makoto wasn't looking. The tears wouldn't stop for a while.

Chapter Text

It's easier for you to let me go.
[alittleskinnydip]

 

Nagisa and Rei's stops were both only a few minutes away, the ride so far has been silent, both unsure of what to say. Saying goodbye to Makoto and Haruka was easier when everyone was there. But Rei dreaded the end of the ride and feared that he wouldn't come up with the right words to say in time.

Nagisa stared off to the side, if he looked at Rei any longer he would lose his cheery composure, he was sure of it. The tightness he felt in his chest grew more painful with each stop the train made.

“Say, Rei-chan..”

Rei jerked from the sudden break of silence, quickly setting his glasses back into place when he realized they've slipped.

“What is it?”

It wasn't difficult to see the teary corners of those violet eyes, and the moment Nagisa spoke, Rei felt his stomach sink.

“This is the last time we'll ride the train home together like this, isn't it?”

With all his attempts to remain happy, his voice broke and his lungs felt compressed.

Don't cry.

“Rei-chan..”

Nagisa bit the inside of his cheek, hoping to god that it was enough to keep himself together. The sun was setting and the bright red light reflected off the glass around them. It was impossible to hide his pained expression, but it was no different for Rei. He didn't think it would be this painful to say goodbye to everyone. Even though he knew he would be seeing them again in the future, it seemed so far away when put in perspective. And life without Nagisa seemed … monochrome.

Rei heard Nagisa take in a shaky breath before turning to face him with a big smile.

“You've got to watch your back okay? Because I'll be watching you!” Nagisa sang, latching his hands onto Rei's arm.

“W-what do you mean?” Rei inched away from the glaring eyes.

“Heeeh, you'll never know when I might turn up! So you have to be careful! If you pick up a girl while you're in Tokyo, she better be cuter than me!”

“Eh?!”

“Since you're leaving, you won't be my responsibility anymore, right? So whoever picks up the duty has to be above me.”

Rei felt a twinge of pain in his heart. That's right... he'd be on his own now. It was no longer a burden Nagisa had to carry on his shoulders.

“I don't think anybody could replace you..” Rei thought to himself, unaware that he quietly mumbled it under his breath. His eyes widened when he realized he voiced his thought, blushing immediately.

“Rei-chan! Why are you blushing, you're the same color as your glasses!” Nagisa laughed. But the blond fell quiet when he heard the chime sounding for the next stop. The stop Rei would get off the train and leave Nagisa by himself with his thoughts.

“Promise me that you'll-”

“Nagisa, will you do me a favor?” Rei interrupted.

“Huh?”

He paused, looking away for a moment and compulsively pushing up his glasses.

“Will you get off at the next stop with me? I won't get to see you in the morning since I'm leaving for school tonight and... I'll walk you home afterward.”

Did he hear that correctly? Nagisa frowned, he didn't realize that Rei was leaving tonight. Just a few more hours? That same feeling from earlier resurfaced, like he couldn't take a proper breath.

“It can't be helped then, I suppose if it's for you,” Nagisa teased.

Gathering all their things, both boys got off the train at the next stop and began their walk towards home. Once again the quiet atmosphere took over. Rei frowned, he knew that this was his last chance to say what was in his heart. Well...

Sort of...

Rei took a deep breath. The walk was short; it was either speaking now or regretting it forever.

“Nagisa, I don't think I ever properly thanked you,” Rei stopped walking and turned to face the blond.

“For what?” Nagisa tilted his head.

“For teaching me that there's more to the world than calculations and perfection. For.. pulling me into the swim club. For introducing me to the best teammates I've ever had and for...” Rei bit his lip, “everything.”

The way they stood at a distance and with the sun shining against them, Nagisa was reminded of the first day he got through Rei's barrier. When he got off one stop earlier to run to school with Rei. And how he felt when his honest feelings were laid out in front of the other bare. Nagisa wondered just for a moment how completely different everything would be if Rei hadn't captivated him as much as he did.

“You shouldn't say things like that, Rei-chan,” Nagisa shook his head before looking up teary eyed, “when I should be the one thanking you.”

He ran forward and threw his arms around Rei without any shame. Using all his strength, if this was the last time he could be with Rei, it had to be remembered.

“We wouldn't be here without you, Rei,” Nagisa cried into his chest, neglecting the nickname he always used. It caught Rei by surprise, but in his heart, he knew Nagisa wanted him to know he was serious. He wrapped his arms around the smaller pulling him in as close as possible.

“I'll call as soon as I get there,” he promised, letting his forehead rest on Nagisa's hair.

Chapter Text


Even in one hundred million and two thousand years, I will still love you.
[underthesamestar]

Haru sat quietly across from the window enamored with the raindrops that tapped against it, watching as they slowly descent across the glass. The sound of the harsh pattering against the roof and the window was drowned out by the sound of kids playing and the preschool teacher reading a familiar story. Unlike the rest of the class, Haru sat further away from the group disinterested in the story being told, most likely because there was no mention of water, something that he has been keen to since he was born. A sudden flash of lightening burst across the sky, and the loud crash of thunder that followed echoed loudly through the classroom. Everyone fell silent and Haru watched the lightning illuminate the gray sky until his attention was stolen.

Stolen by a tiny yelp and soft whimpering coming from under a nearby table.

The sound latched onto his ears and Haru subconsciously turned towards it, interest peaked. Turning around completely, he was now unexpectedly face to face with a pair of extremely frightened and tear stained green eyes.

“AH!” their owner yelped, lurching himself forward without any thought frightened by the sudden closeness. Their foreheads hit and both boys fell back.

Haru groaned, wincing as he carefully rubbed the red mark over his forehead. That hit was hard enough to leave a bruise. He stopped when he heard the tiny voice again.

“I-I'm so sorry! Really really sorry!” the voice shook, “D-Does it hurt?” Haru peaked open his eyes and watched the boy sit up onto his knees, still half under the table. His cheeks were wet with tears and yet those shining green eyes were only focused intently on Haru with worry. Haru couldn't form an answer right away, he just couldn't take his eyes away from that green, or from the boy.

“Won't you de... dehydrate? From crying so much?” he asked, hoping he remembered the word properly. The boy looked up in question.

“Eh? Dehydrate?”

“My mom says that if you lose too much water from your skin, you'll dehydrate. Don't you think that if you cry so much, you'll lose all the water from your body?”

“Eh?! Wouldn't I die?!” The boy's eyes once again started welling with tears. “I don't want to die! I'm scared! What should I do now?!” he cried.

“Don't worry,” Haru said as he stood up and held his hand out to the boy, “If you drink some water, that'll be enough, right? Things will be fine then.”

The boy's intense gaze felt like it could almost pierce through Haru. Slowly, he stretched out his hand and took Haru's, who in response gave a gentle squeeze and pulled him out from under the table. Quickly, he pulled the boy along to the other side of the classroom where his backpack hung in his cubby.

“What's your name?” Haru asked as he pulled the boy along hand in hand.

“Makoto. Tachibana Makoto,” he quietly answered. Haru looked back in surprise for a moment.

He has a girly name too...

“I'm Nanase Haruka,” he responded as he pulled out a small water bottle from his backpack and placed it in Makoto's hands. “I always carry water on me, drink as much as you'd like.” Makoto nodded in thanks and drank half of the bottle.

“And how much better do you feel?” Haru asked proudly, “Water is great, right?” The boy glanced back at Haru, but when he tried to answer, he couldn't help but laugh to himself.

“You really like the water, don't you? Your eyes really light up whenever you talk about it.”

Haru flinched and quickly looked off to the side. “Somehow, your eyes light up too..” he answered slightly pouting his cheeks, “That means you like the water too, right Makoto?”

Makoto laughed again. “Yeah, I like it,” he figured, “But I also like you, Haru-chan,” he added with a warm smile. Haru looked back at the boy feeling somehow shocked at the words.

“Thanks for your help, Haru-chan!”

The rest of the day they spent together. Makoto took the seat closest to Haru, and Haru would grab his hand and talk excitedly about the water. He didn't mind at all. He listened with a smile as Haru told him the stories that he's heard from his mom, about the oceans, all its creatures, stories about mermaids and how amazing it would be to live as one never leaving the water. Makoto listened to every word and watched as Haru's blue eyes sparkled with excitement. He realized that he could probably listen to Haru talk about the things he loved for hours until..

“Mako-chan!” Haru's voice suddenly snapped him out of his thoughts, “Your mom is here to pick you up!”

Makoto looked towards the door and there she was, waving with her warm smile. Makoto jumped from his seat and ran to his mom, who looked surprised to see her son so happy.

“You weren't scared?” she asked.

“Not anymore! Haru-chan helped! Thanks to him I wasn't scared at all!” Makoto took her hand and pulled her closer, pointing towards Haru.

“Ah! Thank you Haru-chan for taking care of my little Makoto, he's really scared of thunderstorms,” she said with a sweet voice, petting Haru on the head in thanks.

“It's no trouble,” he answered, “Please allow me to take care of your son.” Makoto's mom laughed at the exclamation and once again thanked Haru.

“Haru-chan, thank you!” Makoto added with the same sweet smile from earlier. It was in that moment, looking at Makoto's smile, that Haru thought maybe water wasn't the only beautiful thing in the world.

-

Writing was difficult to Makoto. Specifically writing to a certain best friend whom he's known his entire life. Something like that wasn't supposed to be hard. And yet it was, especially since he suddenly got up and left for university. It's been so long since he's seen Haru.. and especially since his best friend has been the love of his life for so long now...

Makoto sat in front of his computer, typing out his true thoughts only to immediately erase them. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to say. How he spent his day? How much he enjoyed his activities? How difficult it was to live in a city as big as Tokyo? Would Haru even be interested in hearing about things like that? Makoto realized he would much rather be hearing about what's going on with Haru. He wanted to know if everything was okay over there. How his days were passing, whether he was eating something other than mackerel, whether he has seen Nagisa at all. Did he get to swim at all today...

Did Haru miss him like he missed Haru...?

Makoto lowered his head to his desk and took a deep breath, eyes directing towards the little dolphin figure Haru has left with him. He suddenly remembered the day that they first met. They were so little and yet Haru helped him then, while he just hid under the table afraid of the loud storm. Haru held out his hand to him..

Makoto still remembered how warm Haru's gesture felt from that day..

Makoto thought it's very likely that it was in that moment he came to love Haru. From that moment on, he was always by Haru's side, just like Haru was by his that first day and now every day to follow. From that time on, Makoto always offered his own hand to pull Haru out of the water. He suddenly wondered whether Haru was once again spending all his time in the bath, all while wearing his swim suit. He wanted so badly to be there, to spend more time with Haru, to spend the night together like always playing video games. He wanted to laugh together some more, sit close to him, feel his warmth again, let his shoulder brush along Haru's shoulder, lean closer to him, barely a breath apart… and kiss him..

Makoto felt his tired eyes slowly closing amongst all his desired thoughts. It wasn't long before he fell asleep, dreaming of his wishes to be with Haru.

“I love you..” he mumbled in his sleep.

Chapter Text


When you and I are alone, I've never felt so at home.
[alittleskinnydip]

'What a long day' Rei thought to himself. The hallways of the dorm were practically empty and the lights had been turned off for the night. Rei's last course ran half an hour later than usual because of a lengthy test he had spent the last two weeks studying for, all he wanted was to get in bed and go to sleep. He sighed from exhaustion; running all around campus was something he figured he'd never get used to. Punctuality, being on time, organization, those things held great importance. Yet, Rei still insisted on crowding his schedule with as many extra classes he could. Fumbling for the key in his pocket, Rei blindly reached his dorm room. The moment his fingers found the key, he suddenly tripped and fell to the ground. If it wasn't for his clumsiness, he almost would have missed the box placed near the door.

“What is this?” he mumbled to himself straightening his glasses and picking up the key and books he dropped. The box was wrapped with bright pink paper and Rei had to wonder to himself how he missed it in the first place. He shook his head with a slight laugh and unlocked the door, bringing the package inside.

He squinted through the dark towards the second bed in the room; it was empty. Rei's roommate wasn't here yet. That made things a lot easier. Rei flipped on the light and set down his books, taking the package alongside to his own bed. Sitting down cross legged, his fingers were just about ready to tear off the paper when his eyes caught on to something.

Writing?

He turned the package onto its side. In big purple letters, he read 'CALL BEFORE OPENING'

Rei smiled, reaching into his back pocket for his cell phone. It was late, almost midnight. Should he really be calling at this hour? He pondered for a moment, knowing he wouldn't be able to hold out on opening the package until morning, and eventually he scrolled through his contacts and dialed. The phone rang twice before a cheery voice came over the line.

“REI-CHAN! YOU GOT MY BOX DIDN'T YOU!” Nagisa yelled excitedly.

“Yes, Nagisa, I got it. What did you send me this time?” Rei spoke softly, still unable to shake off the fatigue.

“You'll see! Neh, Rei-chan, you sound sad. Did something happen?” Nagisa asked. The immediate concern in that sweet voice was somehow comforting to Rei, knowing that he was being cared about.

“No, nothing like that. I'm just really tired, I finished an exam about ten minutes ago.”

“That late huh? I told you not to overload your schedule, but you never listen, do you?!”

“But if I do it this way, I can graduate a year early and come home to yo-” Rei stopped.

What?

What was he about to say?

He said those words without thinking, but... did he mean them? Rei frowned. Of course he meant them, subconscious thoughts reflect true feelings after all.

“Eh? Rei-chan, I think the call cut out, what did you say?” Nagisa asked with a slight laugh.

Rei felt the immediate blush rushing to his cheeks when he realized Nagisa had heard.

“I'll graduate early and come back to Iwatobi this way,” Rei lied. There was a silence. Did Nagisa catch on..?

He waited, frowning at just how hard his heart was pounding.

How much his head was spinning.

“What, you don't like the city life?” Nagisa teased after a moment, and Rei let out the breath he didn't realize he was holding.

“It's not that...”

“Never mind! Open my box!”

Rei nodded, “Okay.” His fingers carefully found the taped edges. He slid one under the tape and pulled it off, making sure not to tear any of the wrapping. Doing the same for all the taped pieces, he folded the wrapping paper neatly and placed it under his bed, along side the other neat folded wrappings from past packages. The box was covered in cutesy butterfly stickers, Rei couldn't help but roll his eyes.

“Nagisa, how much did you spend on these stickers?”

“Ehh, I didn't spend anything! I had them lying around. You like them don't you, Rei-chan? Admit it!”

“Fine, maybe I like them a little bit,” he laughed. He carefully lifted the top of the box and looked inside, eyes immediately catching a red cloth. The fabric looked extremely soft and it was neatly folded, Rei almost didn't want to take it out of the box. Almost. He pulled it out and smiled when he felt just how nice the material felt against his skin.

“You got me a scarf?”

“Wrong!” Nagisa sang, “I MADE you a scarf! Look at the ends!”

Rei checked and sure enough, at the very bottom of both ends were tiny little butterflies sown into the design.

“This is really impressive! You actually made this?” Rei genuinely asked.

“Of course! You're doubting my skill? I'm hurt, Rei-chan!”

“No no, I'm sorry! It's just really nice!” Rei covered. He heard Nagisa's giggle over the line, why did he always have to tease like this.

“I figured it's getting cold in the city now. I thought you could use one.” It was true, Rei's walk home tonight consisted of non stop shivers and self hatred for not bringing a thicker jacket.

“That's really thoughtful of you, Nagisa. I promise to start wearing it,” Rei eyes were still forcing themselves closed, his voice was growing quieter and quieter.

“Rei-chan, you can go to sleep if you want to, you sound really tired,” Nagisa said.

“Ah.. that's okay, talking to you is comforting,” Rei's subconscious spilled again.

“Eh? What does that mean? Are you lonely, Rei-chan?”

“N-No.. I just,” he paused when his eyes fell shut, body slumping down into his blankets, “miss you.”

Rei could hear a muffled noise against his ear. Was it Nagisa talking? What was he saying? Rei tried to force his eyes open as hard as he could, but it was useless. Trying to push his body to move only cause him to shake with fatigue and before he knew it, he had fallen asleep.

-

“Rei?”

He suddenly awoke to a hand shaking him gently by the shoulder.

“Hm?” His eyes slowly opened. He squinted in attempt to see who it was. Rei's glasses had fallen off in his sleep. He reached for them hoping that they weren't bent.

“You're a mess, these classes are really wearing you out.”

Rei's hand found the frames and he cautiously felt for any bends. When he didn't feel any, he slipped them back into place and looked at the friendly face in front of him. His roommate who had finally come home.

“When did you get back?” Rei muttered feeling around for his cellphone, still half asleep.

“Just a few minutes ago. You told me to wake you up if you ever fell asleep on the phone,” the boy taunted, dangling Rei's cellphone in front of him.

“Ah, right. Thank you,” Rei held out his hand and took his phone back.

“So, is Nagisa your girlfriend?”

Rei felt his heart skip.

“Huh?!”

The boy stared blankly at Rei's shocked expression.

“N-No, w-what would give you t-that idea?”

He shrugged, pointing to the opened box and the scarf on Rei's bed.

“Probably that box... and you had a text message when I took the phone out of your hand. I didn't mean to read it but you already had the phone flipped open.”

Rei's eyes widened. He opened his phone with shaky hands scrolling to the opened text.

“If she isn't, you sure are blushing a lot over someone you aren't going out with.”

Rei disregarded the sentence, the blush across his cheeks, and the tears stinging the corner of his eyes. Instead, he brought his hand up to cover his mouth which had formed into a smile.

[I miss you too]

Chapter Text


I wished to the sky to be able to love properly.
[underthesamesky]

 

He loved everything about him. He loved his smile and his pointy teeth. He loved his red hair and his carved skin that shined with water droplets every time he got out of the pool. He loved his dorky laugh, which showed Rin's true nature. Not the “cold hearted” person that everybody else seemed to see. Rin had his sweet side, which still lingered from his younger years. And Rin's been through a lot.. especially with his friends. Yet, he smiles more than ever and his eyes shine like never before. Rin has changed immensely from the first time Nitori met him. It was like meeting two different people.

Nitori fell in love with Rin's smile from the first moment he saw it. When they finally got to know each other and started living in the same room, it was difficult to get closer to Rin. Nitori felt extremely lucky when one evening, Rin opened up to him about his past, his late father, and how he felt about swimming. But the fact of the matter was, Rin dwelled over his past friends, especially one Nanase Haruka. Nitori wanted nothing more than to be special to Rin. So he chose to always be with him and support him in any decision.. until that fateful day, finally, Rin noticed him. Rin called him by his first name, and even shortened it to 'Ai.' Nitori could remember exactly what his voice sounded like when the word left his lips.

“Ai.”

That day, Nitori understood. He loved Rin above all else.

It wasn't long before high school graduation, Rin lost his high spirit again. Nitori understood why. He understood and that's why he didn't ask questions. It was enough being by Rin's side, and if he needed anything, Nitori would be there for him without question.

It's been a long time since Rin stayed out without saying anything. He didn't return to dorm room for a long time; even though it was already extremely late. Nitori, still, tried to give Rin as much space as he wanted. But he couldn't help sitting awake in bed, worried sick and glancing from his watch to the door every few moments. He figured he should go looking for him. He knew that Rin would probably be in only one place. A certain outdoor pool, and just like that, he ran out the door. When he arrived, there was Rin floating in the water, staring at the stars. But once he neared, he noticed Rin was still fully clothed. He couldn't help but stare for a moment with a saddened expression. He picked up a clean towel and walked over to the ladder.

“Rin-senpai,” he said quietly, barely audible. But Rin glanced in his direction anyway.

“Ai..,” Rin looked surprised. He swam over to the ladder slowly and lifted himself out of the water. Nitori handed him the towel, still wearing his saddened gaze. Rin slowly reached for it, fingers brushing against Nitori's. He shivered slightly, as always, from any contact with Rin. But Rin simply stared at Nitori for a moment longer until he asked softly,

“What are you doing here?”

“Sorry.. I was worried about you. Rin-senpai... are.. are you sad about something?” Nitori wanted Rin to open up again. He wanted Rin closer..

Rin raised his hand gently, touching his face and brushing his thumb along the beauty mark on Nitori's cheek.

“I just...” he started. He turned his back to Nitori and looked up at the moon.

“I don't like goodbyes..” he continued, “People leave. They disappear from our lives. We grow up and we have to say goodbye...”

Nitori knew. Rin had been sad for a while now, from the time the end of the school year was nearing. He knew that Rin had to leave. He knew that he wouldn't be able to stand beside him for much longer.

“Makoto-san and Rei-san are leaving too, for Tokyo. You'll be able to meet them there,” Nitori said. Rin smiled lightly and turned back to him.

“Yeah, you're right.. it's just.. we all chose such different paths in life. I'm scared.. that we'll never get to be together again.”

“That's not true, Rin-senpai. They won't be far. I believe that you'll manage to overcome the distance given time. You're all close friends, I'm sure you'll be together again,” Nitori tried to convince. He watched as Rin's eyes met his, and Nitori almost couldn't believe when suddenly Rin's arms were around him.

“Thank you, Ai. Thank you for that, for always being beside me, for being my friend,” he said while hugging Nitori tighter.

“And stop saying 'they.' You're also our friend. All of ours. Everyone will wants you to be there with us.. when we're finally all together again.” Nitori felt tears rushing to his eyes. But he simply tilted his head, afraid that if he were to say anything, he would break and the tears wouldn't stop.

“Ai...” Rin shuddered, “Do you think that I can achieve my dreams? You don't think that I'm too weak?” Nitori felt how Rin's voice and body shook. He understood in that moment that Rin has started to cry. He suddenly felt Rin's whole body slowly sink to the ground, leaning against the wall. He held Rin firmly in his arms, pulling him close to his chest.

“You're an amazing swimmer, Rin-senpai. You're strong, fast, incredible.. and beautiful..” he added in a whisper, “I'm know that you'll succeed. And no matter what happens, I'll always be here with you.”

Rin peered up, eyes glistening with tears.

“I'll always be with you, Rin-senpai. As long as you'll need me. So long as maybe one day you'll return my feelings... and if not, as long as as you don't tell me to go away, I'll wait for you.”

Rin couldn't help the thoughts that ran through his head in that moment, that he couldn't do this. That he shouldn't. And yet, he wanted Ai near him. He wanted him at his side. Maybe he didn't fully understand all of his feelings. Maybe he wasn't ready just yet... but he just wanted Ai beside him longer. Rin buried his face in Nitori's chest without saying another word.

Chapter Text


So catch me again and again.
[alittleskinnydip]

It was funny how even after entering college, Rei still looked awkward in a crowd. His eyes constantly shifted around to any flash or sudden movement, his jacket was buttoned up properly, and he kept his books clutched to his chest. On top of that, he tended to lean forward as if he was always in a hurry, even if he was walking slower. For these things, Makoto was thankful, because he wouldn't have noticed the younger otherwise. If Rei was any less conspicuous, he would have walked right past the coffee shop Makoto was sitting in and he would not have run outside. They wouldn't be sitting at a small corner table waiting on their orders and catching up on lost time; but Rei still looked awkward in a crowd, just the same as always.

“Rei, how are you handling your studies? I know you took a lot of courses this semester,” Makoto asked, pulling his jacket around himself with a shiver. It was late November so it wasn't unusual for it to snow, and a light blanket had covered the city over night; something Makoto wasn't prepared for when he ran out the door this morning.

“Ah, I'm fine. It's not all too bad, just a lot of papers to write. I handle the workload easily, but I rarely have any free time. It's actually funny that you saw me today, my afternoon course was canceled and I was on my way home,” Rei laughed through the red scarf he had wrapped up over his neck.

“Because of the sudden snow? My class was canceled too,” Makoto nodded, “This must be fate.”

“Sounds like something Nagisa would say,” Rei smiled fondly.

“Yeah, it does. Have you been in contact with Nagisa lately?” Makoto asked. He crossed his arms over the table, leaning closer to the heater above them.

“He calls every few days and sends me packages often. But whenever we talk, we usually end up talking about my classes and what it's like in the city. He changes the subject if I ask about him, I'm not exactly sure why..” Rei muttered. “He told me to be prepared for a surprise visit sometime soon, it's put me a bit on edge.”

“That's just like him, it's good to hear he hasn't changed. We talked a few weeks back,” Makoto added, “Maybe he's lonely.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind,” Makoto noticed the smallest tint of red emerging across Rei's cheeks. So it was still like that.

“Small caramel mocha!” the barista called out.

“Ah, that's mine,” Makoto gestured, quickly making his way over to the counter to get his drink. Rei sighed. He didn't mean to be so transparent. He was sick of blushing every time Nagisa's name came up in conversation. He made sure to be fully composed when Makoto sat back down at the table.

“This is a little sweet for my taste..” Makoto murmured after taking a tiny sip. Rei nodded, still waiting for his drink to be made.

“What about Haruka?”

“...eh?”

“...I-I mean... have you been in touch with him!?” Rei stammered. He didn't mean for the implication to sound that way.

“You know how Haru is. We usually talk over text or online. But sometimes I'll call him when I'm too tired to type..” the vague answer left Rei with an unsettled feeling. “There are all these new things that I tell Haru about and he willingly listens but I worry about him more. I'd rather be hearing about how he's getting along back home. Whether the twins bother him without me there, whether he's seen Nagisa at all, or heard from Rin for that matter. I just kind of have a blank fill for what he's doing; it's not really something I'm used to..” The scenario sounded all too familiar. Makoto's words hit right at home. If there was anybody who would understand what was going on in Rei's heart, it would be him right now in this state of mind.

“Makoto...” Rei stated unsurely.

“What is it?”

“......I think.... I may lo-”

“Small Chamomile Chai!”

Rei jumped at the sudden voice. Was this a sign? He pushed up his glasses, flustered yet again. Why did he think he could say it out loud. Why did he think he could admit something like this to another person? Rei quickly stood and darted towards the counter, taking a deep breath along the way to steady himself. He took the hot cup of tea that was waiting for him on the counter and returned to the table, blowing at the steam before taking a long sip. The liquid was still too hot, burning his tongue and causing Rei to yelp.

“Are you okay?” Makoto held out a napkin.

“Y-Yes,” Rei stammered, taking the napkin and wrapping it around the hot cup.

“You were saying?” Makoto reminded.

“Uh.. n-never mind. It wasn't important.”

“Rei, your feelings are important, don't ever think otherwise. But in the end, you don't have to share them if you don't want to.”

Rei looked up, catching Makoto's warm smile. “You know?”

He guessed it wasn't that hard to piece two and two together.

“Not if you don't want me to,” Makoto said. Rei shook his head, more so at himself than as an answer. He knew that running away from his feelings would eventually catch up with him and pile up even more than it already has. Living in denial for all these years wasn't healthy... or progressive. Even so, Rei fiddled with his glasses out of nervous habit.

“I'm losing so much sleep over this...” Rei started again, “What should I do?” Rei hung his head in his hands, staring down into his cup of tea, as if that would bring the answer to him.

“Be honest with yourself! There's nothing else you can do..”

Rei's eyes shifted up; Makoto wasn't looking at him. His eyes were focused on his coffee, just like Rei was focused on his tea a moment ago. It was like watching his own thoughts and mannerisms. Makoto has the same uncertain look in his eyes, the same nervous habit of tapping the sides of his cup, and the same vacant expression as if he has been waiting to hear the validation he just offered. Makoto was in the same place... and Rei felt his heart skip at the realization, followed by a kind smile.

“I think you should tell Nagisa,” Makoto said when he realized Rei was staring. Rei leaned forward a bit, allowing his voice to lower.

“I think you should tell Haruka as well.”

Makoto's eyes widened. Since when did wear his worries?

“What do you mean?” his voice shook.

“Isn't it obvious? We're the same,” Rei murmured, his words only justified when Makoto didn't say anything in response, “Oh my god, how long?”

Makoto frowned, turning his eyes back down towards his coffee, and Rei could feel every ounce of his pain. With Nagisa it was easy, instantaneous, and it's only been a few years. Rei didn't realize what he was feeling until just recently, it was all so harmless back then. But when he thought about the way Makoto treated Haruka, even when only getting to know them after joining the swim club, it was so much different. Makoto treated Haruka like a treasure, like some irreplaceable piece of himself that he couldn't live without.

“Since before high school?” Rei quietly asked. Makoto shook his head and a small smile emerged on his face.

“I think I've always known. I can't remember a time when... Haru wasn't the most important..”

Rei pushed up his glasses, taking in the magnitude of the confession. “Why haven't you told him?”

“Why haven't you told Nagisa?” Makoto smirked.

“Okay fine, if I tell Nagisa, you have to tell Haruka,” Rei nodded in turn. Makoto folded his arms in front of his chest.

“Rei, I encourage you to pursue your feelings not based off of what I do. I would be lying if I said it didn't look like Nagisa felt the same way... but I don't think I'll ever tell Haru..” Makoto's voice nearly faded into silence before he finished.

“Why not? What's holding you back?” Rei leaned even closer. He froze when he registered the sad smile Makoto offered him.

“Because he would never return my feelings.”

Chapter Text


Yesterday I died, tomorrow's bleeding.
[underthesamestar]

"Happy Birthday Makoto."

"Thank you, Haru."

Makoto was laying on his bed in his room, staring at the ceiling. A gentle smile and a deep blush on his cheeks, he heard Haru's voice on the phone again.

"I'm sorry that I couldn't visit you today.."

"Stop, Haru. Tokyo is very far away, it's obvious that you weren't able to come," Makoto replied, still smiling. Just hearing Haru express willingness to visit him filled his heart with a pleasant, warm feeling.

"But..." Haru started again, "Next weekend... I have time... I could.. come to Tokyo."

Makoto suddenly sat up straight.

"Haru..!"

"But only if you want me to come..." Haru interrupted.

"Yes! Of course I do!" Makoto almost shouted, happiness rising in his heart.

"You get excited too easily."

"Ah, sorry," Makoto laughed merrily.

"I'll come and give you your present... So wait for it.. " Haru said quietly.

"Um!"

-

 

Makoto was so happy that he could barely sleep. Nothing else occupied his mind but the upcoming weekend and meeting with Haru. He still couldn't believe it. He would get to be with Haru, see his face, touch him, and maybe even hug him.. They haven't seen each other for so long already. Every day, they were writing messages to each and, when finding time, talking on the phone. Mostly in the evenings, just before bedtime, Makoto called Haru to tell him goodnight, which often ended up as a long 'conversation', where Haru wouldn't really speak much, but Makoto felt in Haru's simple, short questions, "How was your classes?", " How was your day?", that Haru really wanted Makoto to tell him about it. Sometimes he was able to pull some information from Haru, things such as how his day was, what's up with Nagisa, or whether he saw the twins, which happened often surprisingly, as Makoto's parents were often inviting Haru for dinner. Haru was an integral part of their family. Despite these long conversations and frequent messages, Makoto missed Haru unbearably. On those evenings he was often falling asleep, clutching the dolphin toy that he got from Haru. Thoughts about what Haru was doing with his shirt filled his mind... Makoto buried his face in his hands. What was he thinking? After all, Haru could never have such feelings towards him. It was impossible.

"Makoto-san!"

He heard a familiar voice behind him. He turned around and saw the girl that talked with him once before, when she asked to borrow his notes from a lecture. If he remembered right, her name was Maruko. The girl neared, smiling gently. She looked slightly abashed.

"Happy birthday, Makoto-san. Sorry, I'm late with the wishes."

"Um, thank you," Makoto replied, also smiling, without asking how Maruko knows about his birthday. The girl blushed.

"I wanted to ask.. " she began, "I wanted to ask if you wanted to go to the cinema.. with me, I mean.. to see a movie.. I mean, it's obvious that you go to the cinema to see a movie.. I.. " she paused, staring at the ground. Makoto also blushed. Is she trying to invite him on a date?

"I..." he started, "I... don't.. um... I will think about it... " he replied. The truth was he really wanted to say no, but he did not want to hurt her feelings. It was not her fault, she was a beautiful girl and really nice, so much that he could tell after talking to her for only the second time. But he knew that going out with anyone... didn't make much sense. Not when his thoughts were only around one person; when his heart belonged to someone else.

However, his answer made Maruko smile.

"Thank you, Makoto-san. Please.. please let me know," she responded and ran back toward the building.
'Makoto you idiot,' he said to himself in his thoughts.

-

 

The days of the week were running really slow, but it's always like that when you can't wait for something. Makoto couldn't wait for the promised weekend when Haru would visit him in Tokyo. Finally, it was Friday. Haru already said that he would arrive by a train, which gets to Tokyo in the evening. Shortly after his classes, Makoto ran to the station, despite the fact that there were still about two hours till the arrival of the train. Makoto sat down on a bench and breathed in the cold air deeply. The sun already has set down some time ago and the evening was cold. Makoto wrapped his scarf tightly around his neck, smiling to himself. Despite the low temperature, he wasn't really cold. After all, soon, he would be able to see Haru. His cheeks flushed even more out of joy. Haru's visit is the best gift he could get for his birthday.
The voice on the loudspeaker announced the next train.

Even if …

Makoto saw the lights of the train in the distance.

Even if he would never get to be with Haru like he wanted to…

The train pulled into the station, slowly stopping.

Just being with Haru...

The doors of the train opened.

Just being by his side...

Small crowd of people poured out on the station.

For as long as possible...

He stepped out of the train. Blue eyes met green ones.

I want to be by your side.

Haru smiled. " Makoto."

I will always love you.

-

 

"Are you hungry, Haru?"

Haru was sitting on Makoto's bed, looking around his room curiously. He was very interested in the place where his best friend was now living. When Makoto entered the room Haru, looked at him and nodded his head in response to his question. Makoto smiled.

Ah... Haru missed that smile so much.

"I'll fry you some mackerel."

Haru looked at him in surprise. Makoto seemed to be reading his thoughts, as he often did.

"I bought a lot of mackerel, special for you haha."

Haru looked away, not saying anything. As he always did. Right now it was just simple mackerel, but Haru remembered that Makoto always did everything for him. How he was always looking after him. How he often spoiled him. Makoto was always doing everything for Haru. Nothing has changed. Haru wanted to finally do something for Makoto.

It was time to show him his true feelings. Time to give Makoto his gift.

"Makoto," Haru stood up and slowly walked closer to him. "Happy Birthday."

Makoto eyes widened in surprised. After a moment, he smiled broadly.

"Thank you, Haru!" he said blushing.

"I... I want to give you your present," Haru said quietly, looking deeply into Makoto's eyes. Haru stood so close, their bodies separated by barely a few centimeters.
"Haru, you know, you don't have to give me anything," said Makoto with a gentle smile, "It is enough for me that you're here."

Damn it, Makoto.. stop saying things like this.. otherwise I will.. I...

Haru opened his mouth slightly, his face inching closer to Makoto's...

The doorbell rang loudly, making both of them jump in surprise.

"Are you expecting someone?" asked Haru.

"No," Makoto replied honestly, heading toward the door. His mind and heart were racing like crazy. He didn't understand exactly what just happened. And even more.. what was going to happen... Is it possible that Haru..

That Haru wanted to...

Behind the door stood a girl.

"Maruko-san?" Makoto asked, surprised.

"Um, hello, Makoto-san. Sorry for the late hour.. I brought you your notes, the ones I borrowed from you."

"Um, thank you, Maruko-san," Makoto replied. It actually wasn't as late as it seemed, but because of the darkness outside, their perception was off.

"Did you come here alone? When it's so dark outside?"

"Ah, yes, it's nothing, I.." Maruko suddenly saw Haru, who appeared in the room standing behind Makoto.

"Ah! This is Haru, my best friend. Haru, this is Maruko-san, a friend from college," Makoto introduced them nervously, looking from one to the other. Haru simply pulled out his hand and greeted Maruko. Makoto was a little surprised at the gesture.

"Nice to meet you," Haru said, though his voice was completely void of emotions, "You.. are you Makoto's new girlfriend?"

"What?! Haru! No.. it's not like that!" Makoto began to explain, flustered. Haru just looked to the side.

Makoto gently grabbed his hand, "Haru, I'll walk Maruko home. Please wait here, I'll be back soon," he said quietly. Haru nodded his head slightly, looking at the floor.

"Ah!" Maruko looked like she suddenly realized something.

"What? What happened, Maruko-san?" Makoto asked.

"Um, no, nothing, it's nothing," she replied smiling, "Makoto-san, you don't have to walk me home, I can go alone, really."

"No, Maruko-san, I'm too worried, it's safer this way. Let's go," Makoto replied firmly and Maruko sighed. Makoto turned to Haru, reminding that he would be right back. The door closed, leaving Haru alone in the empty room.

Haru sighed deeply and sat down on the bed. He should have expected this. Makoto was a nice, polite, and incredibly handsome man. It was obvious that there would be a lot of girls taking a liking to him. And someday, one of them could probably win Makoto's heart... Now when Makoto was here alone, free from Haru...

Haru noticed that his phone was blinking. He grabbed the phone, opened it, and saw a missed call from..

"Rin?" surprised, Haru pressed 'call back.' After a moment, he heard Rin's voice on the other side.

"It's about time. I thought I wouldn't be able to get through to you."

"Rin, what are you..."

"I saw you two today," Rin interrupted, "You and Makoto, at the station. So you two are finally together? You had this stupid, cheerful smile on your face when you were looking at him. You finally confessed?"

"I don't know what you're talking about.."

"Of course you do, stop fooling around. You think I couldn't tell?"

Haru heard a second voice on the other side, someone was with Rin?

"Actually, Rin, you didn't see anything, it was me who told you..."

"Tch, shut up, Ai. I can't even have a moment of privacy here."

"Ai? Ai is with you?" Haru asked, surprised. Rin snorted again.

Haru heard the door slamming loudly on Rin's end. He must have shut himself in another room.

"Listen, that isn't important right now..."

"Yes, it is. You say that you saw us? That means you're in Tokyo. So this is where you've been hiding? And you took Ai with you?"

"Tsk, okay, okay. Yeah, I'm in Tokyo. I'm sorry that I didn't say anything, it's not like I was going to disappear forever. I'm talking to you right now, aren't I?"

"Your call is very unexpected and I have no idea what you mean.."

"You know exactly what I mean," Rin said, getting more and more annoyed, "Did you finally confess how you feel to Makoto? And don't play dumb!"

"Why should I answer your question?"

"Since Ai helped me realize that you are totally in love with Makoto and I know that Makoto is madly in love with you, I'm only worried, because both of you are so stupid that you probably can't even realize that you are both crazy about each other."

"Are you my mother or something?" Haru said annoyed, but suddenly he comprehended what Rin just said. Haru blushed deeply.

"Why do you think Makoto feels anything for me...?"

"Are you stupid or just pretending? I really can't tell anymore."

Haru suddenly felt even more annoyed. It wasn't, however, due to what Rin said.

"Makoto has a girlfriend."

"What?! You're fucking kidding me!"

"Stop yelling. Well, ...maybe she's not his girlfriend.. yet.. But she is interested in him."

"And why does this mean that Makoto is also interested in her?"

"Because... because she just came here to give him back his notes and Makoto.. Makoto went to walk her back home and..."

"Eh, Haru.. It's dark right? We are talking about Makoto, right? It's obvious that he would walking her home. Makoto is like a goddamn saint, he is kind to everyone."

"I've heard from Rei that Makoto once had a serious talk with you."

"Don't remind me, he was terrifying. It literally hurts when Makoto isn't smiling at you."

Haru smiled.

"We miss you Rin."

"I can't believe that you just said something so embarrassing! Makoto really has had a bad influence on you, it gives me the creeps... I miss you too, you damn bastards."

"So what about you? Together with Ai, hmm? How did you forced him to stay with you? Tied him down?"

"Ha ha, very funny. He's the one who wants to be stuck with me. He insisted that he would come with me anywhere."

"You don't sound like you're unhappy because of it. More like very pleased?"

"Fuck you."

"Ai's feelings for you are obvious. Everybody knows that. What about you?"

"…"

"Rin?"

"I'm working on it."

"Hmm," Haru chuckled.

"As I said before- fuck you. And what about you? Will you finally tell Makoto how you feel?"

"That was my intention tonight... but the moment was brutally interrupted," Haru sighed.

"Well, then try again! And what were you going to say to him?"

"I don't know. I was going to kiss him.."

"Let's not go into details, please. And what, that's it? But what will you tell him?"

"I don't know... probably... I guess...'I love you'.. or something..."

"Ugh, and that's it? Make an effort to do something more romantic."

"Shut up, Rin," Haru replied, embarrassed.

"Okay, I gotta go. Ai is complaining that it's time for dinner. I'm planing to meet up with Makoto sometime soon, since we are both in Tokyo."

"Just don't flirt with him, remember about me."

"Why on earth I would want to flirt with Makoto? Okay, maybe he's handsome and nice, but I already have one little shit here who thinks he can enamor me. And I'm giving him the chance to do it."

Haru smiled, "I hope we'll be able to meet soon too."

"Yes, we have to meet and swim, so I can beat you again."

"We'll see who beats who."

"Remember to tell Makoto."

"...I'll remember."

"Eh, good luck."

Rin hung up. Haru smiled again to himself. He was glad that he could talk to Rin and hear that he has Rin's full support... at least in his own way.

Haru slowly got up from the bed and went to the kitchen. When he started frying the first piece of mackerel, the doors opened and Makoto returned inside.

"Welcome back," Haru said. Makoto just grunted and nodded his head in response.

Something was wrong. Haru felt it right away. For some reason.. Makoto was sad.

"Makoto?" Haru asked, concerned.

"Haru.." Makoto started, "Maruko-san invited me to the movies.. I was wondering whether to go with her or not.”

Haru was speechless. All the joy that permeated from his heart a few seconds ago disappeared. He stared at Makoto's face, who didn't want to look back at him. He felt as if the world suddenly became gloomy and dark.

"Maybe you should," he replied after a moment with a faint, sad smile, hating himself more than anything else in the world.

-

 

When Makoto entered the apartment he didn't find Haru in the kitchen. Mackerel still laying untouched, and therefore he concluded that Haru didn't decide to fry it himself. After a moment, he heard Haru's voice coming from his room. Was Haru talking to someone?

"I guess...'I love you'.. or something..."

Makoto stopped, his hand on the doorknob, and his heart began to beat painfully faster.

"Shut up, Rin."

The moment Haru said the name.. it was all he could hear.

Rin. Rin. Rin.

Rin's name echoed in his head.

"Just don't flirt with him, remember about me."

There was no doubt..

"I hope we'll be able to meet soon too."

Makoto felt as if his heart broke into a million pieces, each which pierced across his entire chest. He couldn't listen to it anymore. He had to go back outside. It was too hard for him to breathe.

Air.. He needed fresh air...

He went outside and tried to stop the tears.

Rin. Rin...

He should have known. He should have realize this a long time ago. Why did he never notice?...But if this is how it was, what Haru was trying to do today? When Haru stood so close to him, his flushed face right next to his own.

Makoto thought... He thought that Haru...

This wasn't right. He decided to see how Haru would react about Maruko's proposition.

...

...

...

"Maybe you should."

He felt as if his entire world fell apart.

Chapter Text


Your heart is my home.
[alittleskinnydip]

 

"Ryugazaki!"

Rei's eyes shot open, startled out of his skin by the sudden loud voice coming from overhead. His vision still a bit blurry, he moved to quickly fix his glasses. He was... at his desk?

"Good morning," the professor added sarcastically. It took a moment for Rei to actually register what had happened. He glanced at his watch. It was 8:15pm. Class had ended fifteen minutes ago... he must have dozed off.

"Ah! I'm so sorry!" he quickly stood up and bowed. His hands scrambled to gather his things, but when he saw the professor's hands come down onto his desk, he froze.

"Ryugazaki.. you're taking 21 credit hours this semester, aren't you?"

Rei nodded.

"That's a huge workload, I'm sure you were aware of that? What could possibly compel you to take on that type of hell?"

What an atypical thing to hear from a teacher.. Rei felt a smile tugging as the side of his lips. But he bit the inside of his cheek, very much aware of the situation he's placed himself in this semester. Dozing off in class, that had never happened before. In fact, Rei has been an ace student his entire life. Was this really too much?

"I won't let it happen again.. you're right. This was a lot to take on but..." Rei held his books closer to his chest, "I have someone waiting on me back home. So I can't be gone too long."

The professor crossed his arms and stood up straight.

"So it's like that, huh?" he smirked, "Well then, I'll be sure to keep you awake at all costs, Ryugazaki."

Rei smiled, "Thanks."

-

The walk back to Rei's dorm took its usual ten minutes. The cold air of the winter night settled deep within his skin no matter how many layers he packed on or how tightly he had Nagisa's scarf wrapped around his neck. Fresh snow had covered the ground reaching up to around Rei's ankles; it must have fell while he was in class all day. He hadn't even noticed until he finally stepped outside. The campus was mostly empty by this point, just a few straggle students running to get inside. Rei took the key pass from his pocket and opened the door to his apartment. He sighed in relief when the heat reached him. Loosening his scarf a bit, he headed up the stairs keeping his books as close to himself as possible. The amount of times that he dropped them here was ridiculous, and his backpack was already at it's limit.

'There has to be a better way to do this...' he thought to himself as his arms began to ache. But at last he stood before the door to his dorm room. He flinched when he heard loud giggles coming from inside. It was Friday night, it wasn't unusual for his roommate to bring friends over, but they were never this loud in the past. It was late already, they should know the rules... Rei unlocked the door and stepped inside.

His eyes locked onto the flash of blond a little too late.

"REI-CHAN!"

The two fell backwards.

"N-Nagisa?!" Rei yelled, unable to control his volume in shock, "What are you doing here?!"

"Ehhh that's the first thing you say when seeing me?! Aren't you happy?!" Nagisa frowned. Rei blinked hard, trying to make sure that he wasn't just hallucinating from being over tired. But the small hands gripped his shoulders tight and the sweet scent of strawberries lingered as always. This was definitely real.

"Of course I'm happy, I'm just surprised. When did you get here?"

"My train got here around 4 and I got to your dorm around 6. Rei-chan, you have such a cute roommate!" Nagisa giggled, pushing himself back up.

"Huh? Hayato?"

Rei stood back up just in time to see Nagisa run back inside and latch himself onto Hayato's arm. The immediate burning sensation he felt in his heart made Rei frown. It was only a matter of time before his jealously got the best of him. This is something Rei knew for a fact. And it wasn't just now, back in the swim club whenever Nagisa's attention was on someone else... Rei felt out of place. Nagisa was his tie to the world he's been pulled into... and Rei had to stop and wonder if Nagisa ever realized that. Jealousy was an ugly thing. Rei reminded himself of that as he walked inside.

"Hayato-chan, what are you studying?! Does Rei-chan keep you up all night with his teeth grinding?"

"I don't do that!" Rei groaned, closing the door behind him and tossing his books to the side.

"He doesn't grind his teeth but I'm almost positive I've heard him muttering calculations in his sleep before," Hayato laughed.

"That sounds about right!"

"I'm actually studying biology. I'm not really supposed to be living in these dorms since the science department is on the opposite side of campus but I registered late and this was the only room still available," Hayato explained.

"Ah! So you just got stuck here with Rei-chan?"

"Huh?!" Is that was Nagisa thought? That everybody only stuck around because they had to? The annoyance Rei felt earlier grew stronger.

"Haha, I wouldn't say stuck. I have the money to move out into an apartment off campus if I wanted to but..." Hayato looked up at Rei, "I've gotten used to it here."

Nagisa turned around and met Rei's glaring eyes, he only now realized that his words were probably bothering him.

"Rei-chan, you know I'm just teasing you, right?"

"I can never tell with you," Rei answered coldly.

"What do you mean?!"

"I mean everything you say is a tease. I can never tell when you're serious."

Nagisa pressed his lips together, not wanting to answer after that statement. He was beginning to wonder whether something was wrong today. Maybe he was tired from his classes or didn't get enough sleep, it was unusual for Rei to snap so quickly.

"Hey! Rei, you haven't eaten yet, have you? There's still some curry left from earlier. Nagisa brought some, you should have it," Hayato filled the awkward silence. The room was obviously tense; Rei knew his jealousy would get the best of him. It always did.
His mind filled with useless thoughts, things like why did he have to have classes so late that he couldn't pick up Nagisa from the train station? Or better yet, why didn't Nagisa say anything in the first place? Why did he spend the better of three hours with Hayato instead.

'You'll never know when I might turn up! So you have to be careful! If you pick up a girl while you're in Tokyo, she better be cuter than me!'

That's right... Nagisa did say something like that, didn't he. He guessed this was to be expected.

"I'll heat it up later," Rei answered, eyes unfocused towards the ground.

In all actuality, it was exactly like Nagisa to just show up out of the blue. His spontaneous nature was one of the things Rei cherished, so why was he feeling so on edge? Was it the distance and not seeing Nagisa for months that withered down his immunity? Or maybe his insecurities were resurfacing.

No...

Rei's eyes widened when he realized it. This wasn't home, this wasn't a place he was comfortable with yet, so having Nagisa here... was pushing him over the edge?

"I'm gonna step outside for a bit...," Rei suddenly murmured, turning to leave before waiting for a response.

"Eh?! Rei-chan, wait!" Nagisa cried, but Rei closed the door behind him.

-

Rei rushed down the stairs and out the back door. The snow wasn't shoveled here, it was still coming down rather thick. The snow was now past his ankles, a bit high enough for the cold to sink into his legs. He sighed, breath coming out in large puffs against the cold. He let his thoughts race, now in the quiet atmosphere.

That's the whole point of this. Of taking all the extra classes, the long hours, the sleepless nights, his talk with Makoto.

It was always Nagisa.

It was always to go back home to him and yet Rei still found his heart stuck in his throat. He hasn't said a word to Nagisa about how he felt. The only person who knows is Makoto, and how was that going to change things. His jealousy was stemmed from the fact that Nagisa didn't treat him in the same light. Nagisa was still home. Nagisa was still his same old self, still messing around, still just playing...

Why was he expecting anything after all? When he couldn't even spill his feelings over all these years, why was Nagisa his home?

Rei stretched his frozen fingers and brought them up to his cheeks. The skin ice cold to the touch, he knew he was probably turning red by now. The night was silent. It was peaceful, and in any other scenario, it would be ideal for Rei. But tonight...

"I want to go home," Rei sighed.

The sudden crunch of snow beneath hasty footsteps caused him to jump.

"Is that why you're upset, Rei-chan?!" Nagisa cried, running up to Rei and burying himself in the taller's chest, "It's not because you hate me?"

Rei couldn't hold back any longer. It was too easy to give in to him. It's been too long since he felt the comfort of Nagisa in his arms. He wrapped them tightly around his back, pulling him close and taking in his warmth.

"Of course not," he whispered, not wanting to disturb the wonderful silence. Neither spoke. Neither had to in that moment. Rei felt his normal smile returning to his lips, and Nagisa rested his head against Rei's shoulder like always. The familiar feeling surfaced in Rei's chest, like it did every time Nagisa was close.

Home.

Snowflakes delicately found a place in Nagisa's hair, shimmering from the proper angle, and Rei couldn't stop the thought from coming even if he wanted to.

"Beautiful.."

Nagisa tilted his head up, violet eyes glistening.

"You know.. without you around, it gets really lonely."

Rei unwound his arms and opened his jacket, pulling it around the boy once he realized how much he was shivering. He must have ran out the dorm room without thinking. Nagisa's stiff fingers gripped onto the front of Rei's shirt.

"I'm sorry for teasing you so much," Nagisa's voice was shaky. Rei shook his head.

"No, don't apologize."

"Rei-chan.." his fingers slid up over Rei's neck and up to his cheek, "You're freezing, aren't you?"

"I'm fine like this," Rei admit, strengthening his hold a little more, bringing Nagisa up onto his tiptoes.

"It's cold back home."

"Ah.. has it snowed there yet?"

"No.. it just feels cold.. without you there."

Rei felt the warmth flare up to his cheeks, his heart hammered against his chest treacherously.

"I couldn't hold out any longer Rei-chan," Nagisa eyes met Rei's, "I missed feeling at home."

The words rang in his ears. They replayed over and over through his thoughts and suddenly, Rei understood Makoto's words. Rei's hands left his pockets and his jacket fell back around his sides. The silence of the night took over once again as Rei brought a hand up to Nagisa's cheek. The soft smile stole his breath away.

"My home is with you, Nagisa."

Rei leaned in and let their lips meet. His eyes fell closed and a hand wound its way around Nagisa's back, pulling him in eagerly.

Something spontaneous. Something that would display his feelings clearly. Something Nagisa was sure to understand. When Rei felt Nagisa smile into the kiss, he knew that his feelings were reached, and when he felt Nagisa kiss back, he knew that his feelings were accepted. They broke apart, still barely an inch away, eyes locked not daring to look anywhere else.

Nagisa let out a small laugh.

"It's about time."

Chapter Text

Fall Into Your Sunlight.
[underthesamestar]

 

From the very start of their friendship, holding hands was a perfectly normal thing. When they were young, they were always holding hands, whether it was during play time, whether they were going somewhere together, or whether they slept together in the same bed. With time, lying on their backs while sleeping or walking close to each other, their hands clasped together, had become routine. When they grew older and found that at their age two boys holding hands could cause a scene and gossip among people, they figured that something must wrong with it. So they decided to stop. But the habit stuck, and their hands still managed to rub against each other as they walked side by side. Or when they slept together, still on their backs, their bodies mirroring each other with their hands outstretched toward each other, as if they would clasp together again.

It was rare for them to sleep with their backs turned to each other. Haru remembered, for example, once when he decided to sleep at Makoto's house in winter when it was too late and too cold to go home. Makoto had a cold so he insisted he'd sleep on the mattress (from which Haru later coaxed him back onto the bed, taking the mattress himself), Makoto was lying on the bed, his back turned to Haru like he was doing everything in his power not to infect Haru. But then at night, it was too cold and Haru quietly slipped into bed next to Makoto almost giving him a heart attack.
Makoto, for example, remembered a night in the hotel room, before the race, when Haru was lying with his back turned to him, and saying "thank you" to him for always being with him...

But tonight was different. This time, they were both lying with their backs to back to each other, the silence that permeated the room was tense, not even any calm breaths could be heard.. because both of them were still awake. They were laying quietly with their eyes wide open, staring at the opposite sides of the wall in the room. Both knew that the other wasn't asleep. Both wanted to say something, but couldn't find right words. They never really needed words to communicate with each other, they were connected, most of the time each knew what the other needed. But now the connection was broken...

---

"Haru-chan..."

Haru looked at Makoto's worried face.

"Drop the '-chan,'" he said and looked to the side.

"Something's bothering you."

Haru did not answer. He did not want to talk about it.

"Why... Why did you quit the swim club?"

Haru, again, did not answer, stubbornly refusing to look at Makoto.

"Haru..." Makoto said with a gentle smile on his face, "It's okay. If anything happens, if you are ever sad... I won't ever force you, but you can always tell me. I'm always beside you if you need me. And I will always be."

---

Haru woke up, not able to remember when he fell asleep. He remembered his dream, or rather the memory, of Makoto telling him that he will always be beside him. He turned to look at Makoto and saw that the boy was awake, but, as on the day of his departure, he was sitting on the bed and staring out the window. Haru, again, felt pain in his heart.

"Haru, you're awake," Makoto said, smiling as always, as if nothing had happened. "Come on, get up and let's go." Haru groaned and put his head back on the pillow. He didn't want to go anywhere now. He didn't want to do anything. Didn't Makoto understand?

"Haru, please," Makoto said.

'Ah yes' Haru thought 'Makoto can't understand.. because I didn't say anything to him...'
Suddenly, Makoto got closer to Haru and leaned over him, his face really close to Haru's. Haru blushed and his heart started beating fast.

"Haru, please," Makoto said again, "I want to take you somewhere..."

***

They walked together in silence, side by side as always, their arms still brushing each other out of habit. They were used to it, has always been like this. But today, with every touch, Haru felt pain in his chest. He hated it, but he didn't want it to stop. No. He wanted to be close to Makoto until he could feel his touch in any way, even if it would hurt later.

It is possible that Makoto always treated him as only a close friend. It is possible that Haru and also Rin just imagined that Makoto could feel something more towards Haru. It is possible that Makoto just was not into guys. Maybe Makoto wanted to find a wonderful wife, have children, grandchildren, to spend his life amongst a family in peace and happiness. Of course Makoto would love to have children, it was enough to look at his relationship with the twins to say that he would be a great father. Haru couldn't give him that...
In that moment, in Haru's mind, appeared a ridiculous thought. That if only he had been a woman, able to make Makoto happy, able to give Makoto children.. He hid his face in his hands from embarrassment.

"Are you okay, Haru?" Makoto asked, looking at him with a slightly worried look.

"Yeah, everything's okay," Haru replied without emotion. There was a bittersweet smile on Makoto's face. He turned his gaze again, looking straight ahead, even though Haru would sneak in secret glances thinking about how handsome Makoto's children would be.

...He should really stop thinking about Makoto and children.

"Makoto.. " Haru began before the stop occurred, "Are you happy about your date with Maruko?"

"Eh?" Makoto looked at him, surprised by the unexpected question, "Ah.. yeah," he stammered, "I think so. I'm not really invited on dates with girls often. Of course, I'm happy," he laughed nervously.

Makoto would soon go on a date with Maruko. If they liked each other, they would begin to date each other. Then Haru's place by Makoto's side would be taken away by her. Later, possibly, they would get married... and Haru would be invited to their wedding. He would have to watch as his best friend, the love of his life, stood with someone else at his side and vowed to love them till death do us apart..

"I would vow to love you forever," he whispered silently without realizing he said it.

"Did you say something, Haru?" Makoto asked.

"Ah, no... it's nothing, " he replied quickly.

"We're here," Makoto said suddenly. Haru, who previously paid no attention to where they were going, looked at the big building in front of them. It was the Aquarium.

"Makoto... " Haru looked at the boy. He just smiled and grabbed Haru's hand gently, leading him towards the entrance.

 

When they were inside, Haru held his breath. The view was amazing. Large aquariums filled with various creature of the ocean. They floated past them and over their heads. Haru couldn't look away.

"Look Haru, it's Rin." Makoto laughed, pointing at the shark. Haru smiled.

"Indeed, they look alike. They have the same teeth," he said. Makoto laughed again.

Haru, with a lively curiosity, toured the entire aquarium, laughing together with Makoto. It was a side of Haru that he showed only when he was with Makoto.

"Haru. We have to go, it will start soon," Makoto said to Haru. He looked back surprised.

"What's going to start? " he asked. Makoto just smiled mysteriously. When they reached the place, they found themselves in the great hall. There was a large swimming pool at the center of it. Makoto led them to their places. Just as they sat down, they heard the music and dolphins appeared in the pool. Haru's eyes lit up with excitement. Dolphins, conducted by the trainers, performed various jumps in the air, causing the applause from the audience.

"It's beautiful, isn't it, Haru?" Makoto asked.

Haru just nodded, still staring in awe at the dolphins. When at some point presentation trainers jumped into the pool and began to swim together with their dolphins, Haru had a huge urge to jump in there with them.

After the presentation, when everyone started packing up to leave, Haru watched as one of the trainers shared something looking like a hug with his dolphin. Haru thought, at that moment, that he also wanted to be able to swim with the dolphins. He would like to become a trainer...

***

Again, they walked slowly, side by side, back to the bus which was going to Makoto's flat. This time the silence between them wasn't as uncomfortable. Haru was pleased with today. He was happy that he could spend it with Makoto. Even if he couldn't be with Makoto like he wished, even if his love is not returned in the way he wanted it to be... he wanted to be with Makoto, to be his friend as always, for their whole lives. Even if it would hurt, he wanted to be at his side.

"The sky has really a beautiful color," Makoto said quietly, staring at the sky above the buildings, and behind there somewhere on the horizon, the sun was setting.

"Yes," Haru replied, not taking his eyes from Makoto's face. "Beautiful.."

 

When they got to the apartments, Makoto offered Haru a bath, but he said that Makoto should go first. When Makoto disappeared behind the bathroom door, Haru lied down on the bed and looked at the ceiling. After some time, he decided to call to Rin. He got up, sitting up straight, picked up his cell phone and dialed Rin's number.

"And how did it go?" Rin asked immediately.

"I haven't told him.."

"Why the fuck not?"

"Because Makoto is going on a date with Maruko. I'm sorry, Rin, we were wrong about his feelings..."

"What? What the fuck? I don't believe it. And you can say whatever you want, I'm not wrong."

"Rin.."

"Shut up. I told you that I am not mistaken. I'll talk with Makoto."

"Don't say anything to him," Haru said quickly, "Do not tell him how I feel about him."

"Don't worry, I'm not stupid. I'll talk with him about his feelings."

"Rin, I don't know if there's any sense to..."

"Of course there is, because you can't convince me that he is not in love with you."

Haru sighed and heard the bathroom door opening.

"I have to go, Rin. Talk to you soon," he said and hung up. Makoto entered the room.

"Were you talking to someone, Haru?" he asked curiously.

"Yeah, on the phone. I'll take a bath now. Would you mind if..."

"No, of course not, you can soak up as long as you want," Makoto finished for him, smiling slightly.

Haru went to the bathroom and Makoto lied down on his bed. He felt something poking against his leg and saw that he was sitting on Haru's cellphone. When he picked it up, he noticed that the cell was unlocked. It was showing the latest phone calls. Makoto read the name next to the last one, from just a few minutes ago.

Rin.

So Haru was talking with Rin. After spending the day with Makoto, Haru still had to talk to Rin. Makoto, again, felt pain in his heart. Suddenly he jumped up when he heard his own cell. He took it and saw that the person calling him was...

Rin..

Oh no.. it's not possible.. is it? Is it possible that Haru said something to him...

"Hello?" Makoto said nervously.

"Yo," he heard Rin's voice, "It's late, so I'm gonna get straight to the point. I would like to meet up with you. Best would be tomorrow. I'm in Tokyo, I know you are too. Got the time?"

Could it be that Makoto was too obvious with his feelings toward Haru and Haru told Rin... was Rin angry because of it and wanted to talk about it?

"Rin.. it's been a long time. I didn't even know that you were in Tokyo."

"I know, I know, I'm sorry that I didn't write or anything, you all just complain all the time. That's why I want to meet. Got tomorrow any time or not?"

"Yes.. Yes I have time."

"How about the cafe near your campus, where they sell that good chocolate cake?"

"Eh?" Makoto was a little surprised that Rin knew where he is studying, "Yes, that would be great. At 2 p.m.?"

"Great," said Rin.

"Rin..." Makoto started, "I'm glad that I can meet with you."

"Yes, yes, of course," Rin said, and chuckled, "You haven't changed."

"You too, Rin."

Although it was painful, Makoto couldn't feel any reluctance toward Rin. Rin was, and would always remain, his close friend.

"See you tomorrow."

***

Makoto was lying in his bed, in the dark room, staring at the ceiling. Haru was breathing deeply, lying near him. This time they weren't sleeping with their backs turned to each other. However, the distance between them still remained. There was an invisible border that grew up between them that Makoto felt he didn't have the right to get through, that he didn't have the right to be too close to Haru, that he has no right to touch him anymore. From now on, everything would change, he thought. Nothing would be as before. Their paths would probably soon separate. They won't be able to stay together. Haru would leave Makoto's life, together with Rin. Makoto would remain alone dreaming of the time of their childhood when he was spending time together with Haru. Dreaming of warm days when they were laying on the grass, warm under the sun. Dreaming of the colder days when they were cuddling under one blanket, sitting in Haru's room, drinking hot chocolate. The days with fireworks, the days of playing together, the days of swimming together...

These days would probably never return...

Makoto turned to lay on his side, turning his back to Haru.

No matter how much time passed, no matter how many years go by, he was sure. He would always be hopelessly in love with Haru.

Thinking only about Haru, crying quietly, he fell asleep.

***

In the morning, after eating mackerel for breakfast cooked by Haru, it was time for Haru to return home. Before going to the train station, they decided to visit a store so that Haru could buy something to eat on his way back. Makoto stopped him from buying 10 cans of mackerel and when they stood next to the stand with bread rolls, they heard a familiar voice behind them.

"Makoto-san, Haru-san, good morning!" Maruka said cheerfully, smiling at them. Haru looked at her first and then at Makoto.

"I'll leave you alone," he said, and turned to leave.

"Eh? Haru-san where are you goi-" Maruko began but the boy had already vanished behind the shelves. “Is something wrong?" she asked, looking at Makoto.

"It's nothing..." Makoto replied, smiling nervously. "Maruko-san... About your invitation.. to the movie.."

"Oh. I forgot about it," Maruko said, surprised.

"For-.. Forgot?"

"Well, yes. When I realized what was going on, I knew that you couldn't go with me," she replied smiling.

"What's going on?" Makoto asked, having no idea what the girl meant.

"Well... it's that you and Haru are together, right? ...You should have just told me when I asked you out," she whispered, "I'm not going to bully you. It's totally cool. I mean, I think it's a normal thing. So it's okay."

Makoto was speechless.

"But.." he stammered, "Why do you think we're together?"

"Oh. You can see that Haru wasn't pleased when I came. And when I looked at you two talking to each other and how you were behaving toward each other, it's easy to see that you're in love with each other. Haru was even jealous when you decided to walk me home... was I wrong?"

Makoto looked at her, not knowing what to say.

"I... I... " Makoto suddenly became sad, "It's not like that," he said quietly. Maruko was listening to him in silence. "I mean.. I... I love Haru... but Haru doesn't know, because it's one sided.. he loves someone else..."

"Really? ..It's strange, I was sure... are you sure?"

"Yes," Makoto smiled sadly.

Maruko stared at him in silence, sadly. But then she said,

"Makoto-san. I really like you. I don't know much about you, but I can tell for sure that you are a good, amazing, and beautiful person," she smiled, "But once I saw you and Haru, I realized your heart belongs to him... so please, don't give up, okay? I still believe that Haru can return your feelings."

"Thanks.. Maruko," Makoto replied, slightly surprised by her confession, and at the same time, really appreciating her feelings. "But as for Haru.. I think it's not possible."

"Nothing is impossible," she replied, "See you later. Makoto."
She smiled and turned toward the exit.

***

They sat together on a bench waiting for the train in silence. It was a frosty morning and Haru felt his hands freezing in the cold. He breathed deeply and his breath turned to mist. Makoto looked at him and saw his reddened hands.

"Haru, why you don't wear gloves? You should hide your hands inside your pockets."

"My pockets are not comfortable," Haru answered shortly.

"And it's an excuse to freeze? You shouldn't do that. Here..." Makoto grabbed Haru's hand and put their hands together inside his pocket, "The other hand you'll have to hide in your pocket."

Haru looked surprised at Makoto's pocket, where Makoto gripped his hand tightly. Makoto's hand was so warm...

Makoto suddenly realized what he had done.

"Ah! Sorry, Haru," he said suddenly, as he wanted to let go of Haru's hand, but Haru just squeezed his hand tighter.

"No. Stay. This is good," he said. For a moment, he though that he saw Makoto blush, but his face might just be red just from the cold...

"Makoto.." Haru started, but at that moment, they heard a voice announcing Haru's train.

"You said something Haru?" Makoto asked. Haru looked at him sadly.

"No. It's nothing."

The train pulled into the station, slowly stopping. When the doors opened, Haru entered inside. He left his luggage on his seat and went back to the door of the train where Makoto was standing outside.

"Well.. it's time for me to go back," he said quietly.

"Take care of yourself.. and I hope to see you soon. I will be going home for Christmas and New Year."

"I'll be waiting," Haru replied, "Have fun on your date with Maruko," he added.

"Ah that.. we're not going. She canceled it," Makoto smiled nervously.

"What..." Haru was surprised and his heart started beating faster, "Why?"

"Well, she said.. that.. she said, she saw that I was already in love with someone..." Makoto replied, not looking Haru in the eyes.

"She did?"

Makoto just nodded in response.

"Are you..?"

"Am I what?"

"In love... with someone else..?"

There was a long silence before Makoto answered.

"...Yes, I am."

Haru held his breath.

"With who?"

Makoto looked at him and smiled sadly.

"It's a secret." he replied.

In that moment, the sun suddenly came out from behind the clouds, illuminating Makoto's face and everything around him. Haru stared with his eyes wide open at the shine of tears in Makoto's eyes and his sad smile illuminated by the sun.

"Goodbye, Haru." But before Haru was able to say anything, the train doors closed and the machine moved slowly out of place.

"Makoto!"

Haru quickly put his hand on the glass door, as if he still had hopes of being able to touch Makoto through it. The train moved away faster. Makoto was standing at the platform, gently waving goodbye to Haru. Illuminated by the sun, the figure disappeared around the corner.

Chapter Text

Always Here.
[underthesamestar]

Although the cafe was near Makoto's university, he had never been here before. There was a very nice decor inside and a pleasant atmosphere. There were small round tables with small flowerpots on them, cute violet asters in them. Rin was sitting at one of the tables right by the window. He looked toward the door when the bell rang and saw Makoto. He smiled and waved to him. Makoto started walking toward him. Rin suddenly stood up and hugged him, patting his back. Makoto, surprised, after a while returned the hug.

"Long time no see, Makoto," Rin smiled, showing his sharp teeth. Makoto smiled again.

"And whose fault is that, Rin?"

"Yes, yes, I know," the boy replied and sat down. Makoto did the same.

"Can I take your order?" a handsome waiter with long dark hair appeared suddenly next to them.

"Two hot chocolates please.. ah, and for him, also a big piece of chocolate cake," Rin said.

"Of course," the waiter replied and left. Makoto pulled out his wallet.

"Put it away," Rin said, "It's on me. This will be my gift to you for your birthday. And also, I invite you to the pool."

"I see you're training hard," Makoto replied. "I'm glad you are making your dreams come true. You'll be the best, Rin."

Rin blushed.

"Pfff, of course I'll be the best."

They both laughed.

"And how have you been, Makoto?" Rin started. "I heard you are going on a date?"

"Eh?"

"I talked with Haru recently."

Makoto heart began to beat faster. Rin said Haru's name.. The waiter came back with the order, giving them two large glasses of hot chocolate and one piece cake. On the glasses and the plate, there were pretty pictures of tiny mice. Makoto began to drink his hot chocolate slowly, interested in the pictures. He didn't answer for a long moment, not wanting to bring this up because he was afraid of where it was going...

"No, this is old information... Maruko invited me to the cinema but canceled the other day, " he said finally.

"Oh, why?" Rin was surprised.

"I.. I don't know," Makoto laughed nervously. "I'm not so interesting.."

"Are you kidding? I would bang you if my heart didn't already belong to someone else."

Makoto choked on his chocolate and started coughing.

"Eh, Makoto.." Rin stood up and patted him on the back. When Makoto calmed down, Rin looked at him seriously.

"And you, Makoto?"

The boy looked at him, surprised.

"Does your heart belong to someone?"

Makoto heart began to race again and his palms began to sweat.

"I... W-Why do you ask?" he asked nervously.

"Did you tell them that you love them?" Rin asked again.

'How can I?' Makoto thought, 'When Haru loves you. And you know that Rin.'

"No.." Makoto said shortly.

"Why not?"

Makoto didn't answer. Rin sighed but smiled.

"I know how it is. I also haven't confessed my feelings."

"Eh?" Makoto was very surprised. Rin leaned toward him.

"This little shit, everyday, tells me he loves me and I don't know what to say," he whispered quickly, "...he made me fall in love with him, but I don't know if I want to tell him... I thought I should wait.. wait until I achieve something worthy."

"He doesn't know how you feel about him?" Makoto asked.

"Shhh, keep your voice down!" Rin shushed him, "Like I said, I don't want to tell him yet, but it's hard."

"Why is it hard? And why are we whispering?" Makoto asked quietly.

"It's hard because we live together, it is not easy... to hold myself back... you know.."

"Eh?! " Makoto shouted and everyone looked at him.

"Shut up, Makoto!"

"Excuse me, can you be quiet?"

Makoto heard a familiar voice and looked up at the waiter who had just walked up to their table.

"Ai!"

"Hello, Makoto, it's been a while," Ai smiled, "I'm sorry that Rin is bothering you."

"Ehh? What did you say, Ai? " Rin asked irritated. Ai only slightly stuck out his tongue and left to handle other clients. Makoto looked back at Rin who, to Makoto's surprise, was blushing hard.

"I think he already knows that he holds that much power over me. Fuck.." he cursed, hiding his face in his hands. "I really love him."

Makoto was looking at him with eyes wide open.

"Ai?... You love Ai? What about Haru?"

"Haru? What about him?" Rin asked, surprised.

"I thought... I thought you and Haru..."

"Me and Haru!? Here I am talking about my feelings for Ai to you.. so you would tell me about your feelings for Haru..." he whispered again, "And you thought that Haru and I...? Why did you think that?"

"But.. when you talked on the phone.. he said.."

"What did he say?"

"'I love you,'" Makoto quoted, "He said it to you..."

"What?" Rin thought about that conversation. And then it hit him.

"No! No, no, no, he wasn't saying it to me. He was quoting what he wanted to say to yo-... to someone else," he corrected himself quickly.

"Eh?...Someone else? Whom?" Makoto didn't quite understand. Rin got annoyed again.

"Tsk, of course to yo-"

"Rin!" Ai suddenly interrupted, who appeared out of nowhere and shook his head.

"Well..." Rin began again, looking stressed at Ai, "Well.. who would Haru want to say something like that to? Think for a moment, Makoto... " he was staring intensely at Makoto's eyes. Makoto suddenly looked at him, understanding appearing on his face.

"Haru... he.." Makoto started and Rin started smiling.

"Haru... Haru loves... he loves the water!" Makoto finished.

Rin hit his head on the table top, he was probably going to have a bruise there.

"Now I understand," Makoto smiled saying it to himself. Ai was holding Rin's arm.

"Rin, please stop," Ai whispered.

"Let me go, Ai. Let me go! I'll kick his stupid ass.." Rin whispered back.

"Excuse us for a moment, Makoto," Ai said, pulling Rin with him.

Ai and Rin stood behind the door in the hallway. Rin leaned against a wall and sighed.

"Rin, remember, don't say anything to Makoto. Haru asked you not to. We should just leave it between them. " Ai said quietly.

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Rin calmly replied, sighing again. "What an idiot, really."

"People in love are idiots," Ai laughed. Rin looked at him seriously.

"You think you're an idiot? Because you.." he paused for a moment, "..love me?" finished shyly, not looking at Ai. Ai blushed and laughed lightly.

"Hmm, it's possible that I am," he replied, "But I don't mind being an idiot... I love you, Rin."

Rin looked at him sadly.

"I don't deserve you..." he started but Ai interrupted him.

"Shut up."

Standing on tiptoes, he leaned his face closer to Rin's and pressed their lips together in a gentle kiss. His lips were so soft and so warm. But when Rin wanted to return the kiss, Ai stepped back.

"I'm sorry... for doing this," he said quietly. "I have to get back to work."

Before Rin could say anything, Ai disappeared behind the door. Rin hid his flushed face in his hands.

"How am I going to hold myself back?"

When he returned to the table Makoto was staring at the snow falling outside the window.

"I'm back. Sorry about that."

"No, it's okay," Makoto looked at Rin. “Why is your face so red?"

"It's nothing.." Rin mumbled quickly. He looked toward Ai, who was talking with the other handsome waiter. Makoto also glanced at them.

"You're not jealous?" he asked curiously. Rin shook his head.

"No, you see.. this waiter, or rather, one of the owners, is already in a relationship. See?" He pointed to the waiter, who now was standing next to the boy with white hair. They both shared a quick sweet kiss.

"Oh, I see," Makoto ate a piece of his cake, "But you know, Ai is very nice and cute, you really should tell him about your feelings soon or someone will want to take him away," Makoto teased.

"Tsk, shut up," Rin was annoyed.

"Rin, I know that you would prefer to wait until, as you said, 'achieve something,'" said Makoto in a serious tone, "But you know, Ai doesn't care about things like that. Don't feel like you have to earn his love like that. He loves you and wants you, you don't have to be a champion or a gold medalist to 'deserve' him."

Rin looked Makoto straight in the eyes.

"For all of us, you are a gold medalist already," Makoto smiled. Rin blushed.

"Thank you," he whispered.

 

-

 

Over the next few days, it was hard for Makoto to think about anything other than Haru. The sadness that he felt recently disappeared. When Rin told him that he wasn't in a relationship with Haru, and that Haru doesn't such feelings toward him, Makoto felt better. But it still did not mean that he could just tell Haru his feelings. He was afraid to tell Haru. He was still afraid that if he says how he feels and Haru didn't return his feelings, nothing would be the same between them. He was afraid that their friendship might end. Right now, he just wanted to be Haru's friend, for as long as he could.

On Thursday evening, Makoto was very tired because of his classes. When he returned late to his flat, he immediately laid down on the bed, yawning widely. He decided that he should get up and take a bath, but didn't have the strength to do it. Then, he heard the sound of his cell phone ringing. The screen displayed Haru's number.

'Haru...'

Makoto answered a little nervous.

"Haru?"

"Hey Makoto. I'm not bothering you, am I?" Makoto heard Haru's quiet voice.

"No, of course not," he responded quickly.

"I just wanted to know how you were.." Haru's voice was calm as always. Makoto smiled.

"Everything's fine. I met with Rin on Sunday. I was happy I could see him."

"Ah yes, I talked to him recently."

"Would you believe that he and Ai are together? Rin is really in love, but he still didn't confess to Ai."

"Um, because he's an idiot," Haru stated. Makoto laughed gently. He felt tiredness overwhelming him again.

"You're right, Haru," he yawned, "But it must be a nice feeling.. Having someone you love by your side.." his eyes started slowly closing. Haru just grunted in response. Makoto no longer realized what he's saying.

"I wish you were here..." he muttered, his eyes now completely closed.

"I love you, Haru..."

Haru heard only Makoto's deep breaths, implying that the boy fell asleep.

 

-

 

In the morning, Makoto felt disappointed when he woke up, realizing that he fell asleep while talking to Haru. He was glad that their relationship returned to normal and he could talk with Haru like they always did. He decided to call Haru after classes and apologize to him. He couldn't remember what he said just before falling asleep, or the moment when he fell asleep. He only knew that he dreamed about Haru, who was whispering 'I love you too.' in his ear.

Classes passed quickly. The whole day, he was thinking about what to buy for Haru as a Christmas present instead of focusing on lectures. Breathing in the cold air deeply, he started walking back to his flat. He took his cell phone out from his pocket and dialed Haru's number. However, Haru wasn't answering. Makoto figured that he probably went out somewhere and didn't take his phone again. But when Makoto reached the building there was someone totally unexpected waiting for him... Next to the door of his flat, leaning against the wall, stood..

"Haru..?"

Makoto froze, staring at the boy with his mouth open. They stood in silence for a long time just looking at each other, breathing deeply, their breaths turning into mist.

"Makoto.." Haru finally whispered.

"Haru? What are you doing here?" Makoto couldn't believe his eyes.

"Makoto. It's cold. Let's get inside." Haru just muttered looking at the door. Makoto was silent for a moment, then he pulled out the keys, opened the door to his flat, and together they got inside. Haru threw his jacket on a chair and looked at Makoto, who didn't know what to say.

"Haru, what are you... why did you... "

Haru interrupted him.

"I took the first train there was."

"But.. why..? Is something wrong?"

Haru seemed to be a little irritated.

"You don't remember?"

"I don't remember what?"

Haru said nothing. He was clearly annoyed.

"Haru?"

"Makoto, you idiot" he said silently.

"Wha-.. I don't understand.."

"Makoto,” Haru said firmly, "Who are you in love with?"

Makoto took a step back.

"W-why do you ask?"

"Why? Because I want to know the answer. Who are you in love with? "

"Haru.. I... I can't.."

"Who are you in love with, Makoto?"

"Haru..."

"Who ar-"

"Haru!"

Makoto shouted. At that moment he understood.

Haru knew.

Haru knew and he was angry at him.

"Makoto, please.. tell me."

Makoto looked at Haru.

"I love you, Haru. I'm in love with you," he whispered.

"...I know," Haru said, and stepped closer to Makoto. Makoto wasn't looking at him.

"...Last time, I didn't give you your birthday present. Makoto, close your eyes."

"Wha- But Haru.."

"Just shut up and close your eyes," Haru said firmly and Makoto slowly closed his eyes, trying to hold back tears. Suddenly, he felt a touch of warm lips on his own. He opened his eyes in surprise. Haru stepped back and looked deeply into Makoto eyes.

"You're supposed to kiss me back," he said, and again leaned his lips closer to Makoto's. But the boy grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him away gently.

"Makoto?"

"Don't.. Haru. Please don't do this," he said. "Don't pity me. Please.. don't do it for me, don't do things you don't want to-"

"Shut up," Haru interrupted him, "Who do you think I love? Who do you think I've always loved?"

"Haru..."

The boy gently put his finger to Makoto's lips to silence him and buried his face into Makoto's neck.

"I want to be with you... I want to kiss you. I want to touch you like lovers do..." he was whispering. "I want to fall asleep next to you and to see your face first thing in the morning. I want to spend the rest of my eternity with you..." Haru looked up again into Makoto's eyes. His face was heavily flushed. "I love you, Makoto," he whispered.

The tears ran down Makoto's face. He didn't try to stop them.

Haru kissed him gently. He kissed the tears falling down Makoto's cheeks. Makoto took Haru's face into his hands.

"I love you, Haru," he whispered and kissed him gently. Haru knew in that moment that this is the place that he would want to be forever. In Makoto's arms.

 

-

 

They were laying on the bed, cuddled together, their foreheads touching each other. Haru buried his hands in Makoto's hair. Makoto gently moved his fingers across Haru's face, stopping on his lips. He kissed Haru again, inhaling his wonderful scent.

"Makoto..." Haru whispered. Makoto just muttered, touching Haru's nose with his own.

"How long... How long were you in love with me?" Haru asked timidly. Makoto blushed deeply.

"Always."

"Always?"

"From the moment you pulled your hand out to me.. that day when we met. Even then, I felt that I wanted to always be with you.."

"Hmm.." Haru smiled lightly. "It's kind of the same with me."

"Eh?"

"That day, when we met. I decided I wanted to marry you and take care of you. I said it to your mother, didn't I?"

Makoto blushed even more.

"Then, over the years, I didn't think about it like that. I knew that you were important to me. Most important. But I didn't know exactly what I felt... That day when we swam together in the relay with Rin... I realized you were always by my side, no matter what. You were always there, extending your hand to help me. I looked at you and I couldn't stop my smile. I knew I loved you before, but I understood exactly what kind of love it was. When you said you were going to Tokyo... I couldn't imagine my life without you... because you were.. you were just always by my side.. Always.. I was thinking about you all the time.. and then.. and then I started having these... inappropriate thoughts about you..."

Makoto chuckled.

"Don't laugh!" Haru's face was all red.

"I- It was kind of the same with me..." Makoto said shyly.

"The day before you left.. why didn't you want to take a bath with me like always?"

"Eh? Erm.. Umm... I just.." Makoto was very embarrassed, "I'm so sorry Haru!" he said, hiding his face in his hands. "That day, I knew that I wouldn't see you for a long time so I started thinking... thinking about you... thinking that I would like to kiss you.. and... and touch you... and I... I was a-aroused.."

There was a moment of silence and suddenly Haru began to giggle.

"Haru!"

Haru laughed merrily, unable to stop himself. This was a side of Haru, even Makoto, saw only a few times.

"Haru.." Makoto moaned, but then he began to laugh along with Haru. They laughed together, their foreheads touching each other again. When they calmed down Haru looked at Makoto seriously. Makoto suddenly felt Haru's hand under his shirt.

"Haru?"

"And how are you feeling right now.. Makoto..?" Haru asked, looking him straight in the eye. Makoto swallowed hard. His breathing suddenly got harsher. He kissed Haru. This time, it wasn't a gentle kiss, but a deep and passionate one. Haru slightly parted his lips and Makoto used this opportunity to slip his tongue inside Haru's mouth. Haru gasped. Makoto rolled Haru onto his back and looked him longingly in the eyes.

"Are you sure Haru?" he whispered.

Haru took Makoto's face in his hands.

"Idiot. How long do you think I waited.."

He pulled Makoto's face closer and kissed him passionately. Makoto took off Haru's shirt and kissed his neck, sucking and nibbling gently in one particular place. He slowly kissed Haru's collarbones, chest, and his stomach.

"Makoto, you.. too.." Haru gasped, "Take your shirt off.. I want to see you.. "

Makoto quickly did as he was told. Haru looked at him and sighed. He looked at Makoto's beautiful neck and admired amazing muscles on his stomach. He caressed them gently with his fingers. Makoto grabbed his hand and chuckled.

"It tickles."

Haru smiled.

"Where? Here?" he teased and tickled one side of Makoto's stomach. "Or here?" he tickled the other side.

"Haru, stop it!" Makoto laughed. Suddenly, he grabbed both of Haru's hands and pinned them over Haru's head. He kissed him again, passionately, and Haru felt Makoto's second hand pulling his pants down. He shivered slightly.

"Are you okay Haru? " Makoto asked, worried.

"I'm more than okay," Haru answered shortly, "Kiss me."

Makoto, again, did as he was told. Haru's pants landed on the floor. He was naked. Makoto looked at Haru's erection and licked his lips. Haru felt so hot, he couldn't stand it. Makoto let go of his hands and moved lower, kissing Haru's chest and stomach again. Then, he slowly took Haru into his mouth. Haru gasped and his body arched up.

"Mmm.. Makoto.." he groaned.

Makoto slowly moved his head up and down. Haru looked down at him, breathing quickly. Makoto looked so sexy doing this.

Makoto ran his tongue from the bottom to the top of his erection. Haru threw his head back on the pillow and groaned again. Makoto sat up and looked at Haru. They both knew that it wouldn't be long for either of them. Haru grabbed Makoto's pants and helped him take them off, throwing them on the floor. He grabbed Makoto's erection and the boy groaned. After some time Makoto kissed him, and grabbed their erections together and started pumping. It wasn't long for them. After waiting and longing for each other for so long, they knew they were already close. Groaning, they came together.

Makoto laid gently on top of Haru and hugged him. Their foreheads touching each other again. They were smiling and breathing deeply.

"We weren't able to go all the way today," Haru said. "But it 's okay, we were both waiting for this for too long..."

"You would want... to go all the way..? " Makoto asked shyly.

"I always wanted you inside me," Haru whispered with a teasing smile.

"Haru..!" Makoto moaned.

"But I want to do it in the water."

Makoto just laughed and kissed Haru again. They fell asleep into each other's arms.