It's purely coincidental that Haru glimpses across the length of the outdoor pool, just as Makoto surfaces from his turn.
Makoto's pace is off, his arms seeming to move jerky and sluggish in the water. Nagisa cheers him on with unfaltering enthusiasm, hands cupping tightly around his mouth. "Go, go, go, go, Mako-chan!" he shouts, and then lowers his hands and grins delighted as Rei joins him in cheering.
Haru realizes he's the only one noticing something's getting increasingly wrong.
And without warning, Makoto halts in the center of the pool, splashing upright and gasping much louder and harder than ever. He's struggling and no matter what… can't catch his breath. Haru has only seen Makoto truly hyperventilate once before, back in grade school, and this is damn near close to it.
Haru drops his grey-speckled towel, coming up instinctively to the pool's edge.
Makoto doesn't have his goggles on this time, and the bright green of his eyes appear deadened, hollow.
Finally, finally, the others around him sense something amiss. "Mako-chan, hey!" Nagisa calls out, waving to him. He stares dubiously at Haru and his expression clenching up with tension. "Why is he…? Haru-chan?"
"Haruka-senpai, what is it?" Rei murmurs, coming up behind him.
He chooses not reveal the dread beginning to claw restlessly at his stomach — but Haru takes off, leaping into the water and racing as quickly as he can to the pool's center. Something is wrong.
"Ama-chan! Gou-chan!" Nagisa hollers towards the gates, beckoning them over.
Makoto's skin feels like a furnace to the cool water as soon as Haru grabs onto him, leading him towards where everyone else waits. He helps keep Makoto's balance on the way up, stabilizing his hips. Rei and Nagisa take hold of Makoto's hand, grunting and lifting him dripping out of the pool.
Haru climbs out, kneeling down to his best friend still panting, but looking more responsive. It's an unconscious gesture, but Haru clasps his broad, tan shoulder, and examines Makoto's profile with outright apprehension. "Makoto," he says, leaning in but comfortably. "Makoto — are you alright?"
The other boy coughs a little, holding his palm to his lips.
"Yeah, I think so," Makoto replies after a long pause, eyes lowered. He chuckles embarrassed. "I started feeling tired all of a sudden…"
Gou opens her mouth, as if meaning to scold him for neglecting to inform her of his condition. She instead stares a little wonderstruck as Haru presses the inside of his wrist to Makoto's right temple.
"… He's warm," Haru announces simply.
Rei folds his arms and strokes his chin thoughtfully. "Hmm, we have been practicing a lot—"
"Warmer than usual," Haru interrupts, a flash of irritation crossing his face. Sensing a little bit of conflict rising, fueled on by Haru's rapid-swift emotions, Makoto touches the hand on his shoulder.
"I'm okay," he insists softly, but to hell with that — anyone can see him shivering and sweating in place. Haru can feel it happening underneath his fingertips. Why was Makoto being like this?
Why, why does he always pretend there's nothing wrong…?
"You don't look like it," Nagisa protests, eyeing him with concern.
Haru slips a hand under Makoto's armpit, easing him to his feet. It's not easy with Makoto's build and being ten pounds of more muscle than him, but he's done wasting time when Makoto could be resting.
"I'm taking Makoto home," Haru tells no-one in particular, as Nagisa and Gou dutifully back away.
"That's a very good idea, Haruka-kun," she says. "Everyone else, please, go and inform the principal and school leader about what's happened. Let me bring the car around."
She suggests going to a hospital and asking for a doctor, when they're less than a mile mile from their destination. Haru ignores the offer, telling her in a deadpan to drop them off right here. Thankfully, Amakata-sensei doesn't press the matter but instructs him to let her know if they do visit a hospital.
The Tachibana household is empty. The silence only punctuated by the creaks as he aids Makoto inside, Haru's arm locked around his waist. Haru vaguely remembers something about a week-long fishing trip mentioned.
"Feel dizzy…" Makoto mumbles, as his arm draped to Haru's shoulders fall away. Like it's too heavy to fight gravity. Haru makes a noncommittal, acknowledging sound with his throat, hauling his best friend onto the futon. Once Makoto is lying completely down, Haru searches out the thermometer.
38.7 degrees C.
That's a high enough fever.
Haru's mobile vibrates, again and again, again with inquiring texts about Makoto and where they are. Eventually, he tosses the object onto the kitchen counter, mentally deciding to deal with them all later.
The vomiting starts up an hour later, Makoto's lunch spilling onto the floor and the front of Haru's jeans. It's disgusting and reeks even after washing/scrubbing, but it's not the end of the world. And Makoto is barely conscious enough to apologize for it — so it's not important.
Haru changes immediately after deposing of the mess and rags, slipping into one of Makoto's drawstring pajama bottoms.
No matter what, Makoto's not keeping anything down, except sips of water. He complained about a headache and aches before the vomiting spells, and at this rate, he's not gonna keep down medicine either.
Haru discovers an older, slightly beaten first-aid kit, and along with it, a dose of acetaminophen.
But in a suppository?
Fortunately, he supposes, the expiration date hasn't been reached. Haru considers his options. Makoto would feel better if he took some medicine, especially after he wakes up from the fever breaking. If he thinks too much about privacy, Makoto will just continue feeling worse.
Haru gives the salmon-pink wrapped suppository a half-glare, for just a minute, and then sighs. He's already dealt with throwing up earlier, so what could this hurt?
He gathers the supplies — a clean bowl of water, the thermometer and a pair of latex gloves — and stares over Makoto. The other boy is deep asleep on his side, breathing harshly through his opened mouth but steady enough. Makoto's cheeks flushed a blotchy red and with a visible sheen of perspiration.
With a careful maneuvering, Haru tugs down Makoto's trousers and his boxer-briefs, until they're at his ankles and he frees them. Hell, maybe he should feel a little more confounded about having Makoto purposely naked to him. But the reason this is happening is for Makoto — and it's not like they haven't seen each other naked before. Whether it was team showers or undressing during sleepovers.
He has no qualms with being naked in front of Makoto.
Even if sometimes Makoto did get flustered, avoiding Haru's eyes, his teeth biting down hard and reddening his bottom lip.
It's not something they talked about. Feelings… about each other.
Haru pushes the reminder out of his thoughts, fixing on the latex gloves. He guides Makoto's knees loosely towards his chest, watching for any signs of consciousness. Makoto doesn't stir awake, and Haru takes the moment to unwrap the suppository. He moistens it with the cold water, to keep the gelatin from going too soft before entry — instructions tell him, and positions himself into a sit.
He goes about the motions with a clinical awareness, never sexual, peeling apart Makoto's buttocks and probing along with his forefinger for his rim. Haru wets his thumb to make it easier once located, nudging gently against the initial resistance, until he finally sinking in past Makoto's rim.
(In all honestly, Haru doesn't have a damn clue on what to say if Makoto wakes up right this second, his best friend holding him wide open and a thumb-length deep into brand new intimacy…)
There's the embarrassment. Haru mentally scolds himself for it, face and ears heating up.
He inserts the rounded edge of the suppository, pushing it about an inch in. Haru uses the thermometer to hold it inside, earnestly removing his thumb and waits a couple minutes before also removing that.
Makoto's breathing never falters or hitches during the process. Haru monitors him, for any mistakes on his end about insertion or technique — and he strips off the medical-latex gloves, tossing them haphazardly into the bin. Haru yanks for a blanket, respectfully covering Makoto from the waist down.
His mobile vibrates again noisily and repeatedly from the hallway.
Haru rolls his eyes, mildly frustrated as he ducks out.
(Nobody is gonna leave them in peace, are they?)
Dozing off was not expected.
Haru snuffles quietly, before yawning, eyelids fluttering open.
He feels stiff and awkward, having taken a spot on the ground next to Makoto's bed, curled up with arms round his own knees and head propped up. He stretches his legs with a cranky, low groan, taking in the fact Makoto's bed is missing Makoto and the shower rattles off from another part of the house.
It's only another moment before Haru stands, rubbing his lower back and Makoto walks in, clutching his towel — soap suds clinging against his collarbone, his tan skin glistening. The other boy is clearly alert and with green eyes bright and merry.
"… Hi," Makoto says, his smile turning adorably bashful.
Haru echoes, keeping his voice neutral, "Hi."
"Did I wake you?"
Makoto glances him over with undisguised curiosity, and then walks around him, while Haru lowers his head as the other boy dresses. There's nothing unsteady about him this time.
"I feel much better, thank you, Haru." Makoto returns into view, in a orange short-sleeve shirt and another pair of pajama bottoms. But his expression pinches, as if battling guilt. "I wasn't thinking when I thought about practicing while sick. I don't know what would have happened…"
"You're welcome," Haru cuts him off, not wanting to hear anymore wallowing.
Makoto simpers, running a hand through his shower-dampened, brown locks as he follows Haru out of the room.
Haru doesn't waste time in preparation of making food, staking his claim to the tiny, modern kitchen. He hunts around for the rice and a cooking pot. "Nagisa and Rei want to see you," he speaks up, getting Makoto's attention as the other boy drinks more water. "I told them to wait until you were recovered."
"That's…" It's difficult to miss how touched Makoto sounds. Haru's chest warms towards his core at his best friend's sweet, breathy laugh. "I appreciate it."
"You were given a suppository," Haru says, going for blunt. He may as well fess up.
Makoto's eyes bug out. "O—oh…" he whispers uncertainly. "Um, did…?"
"My fingers were gloved."
"Not what I meant but…" Makoto's lips quirk so suddenly into an amused, understanding grin. "So that's why I woke up without my pants?" He laughs once more, dicing the carrots for Haru, tilting his head.
Haru nods, accepting the carrots and daikon, breaking up the rice clumps and then boiling the water.
"You weren't keeping anything down."
Makoto gazes over him and the pot. "Is this you spoiling me, Haru-chan?" he asks, smiling relaxed — but Haru senses the lighthearted teasing. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were enjoying this."
"Hm, you're right…"
The other boy stares back at Haru's unmoved expression, puckering his eyebrows.
"You don't," Haru answers, a very faint smirk on his mouth.
He doesn't bother shrugging Makoto off as the taller, now smiling boy comes up behind him, circling his arms around Haru. It's a snug fit for them, but hardly unpleasant. Makoto's chin lands on top of Haru's shoulder, as he nuzzles his face slightly and affectionately against Haru's neck.
It's better when they're alone. It's better when it's them and only them together, Haru considers.
But something still…
"I thought you were going to drown." The words leave Haru's mouth before he processes them fully, or stop them. He lifts his hands from the countertop, placing them shakily over Makoto's arms to him.
"That's why you came in after me?" Makoto breathes out, squeezing a little. "Haru…"
"Don't do it again…"
Don't scare me like that. Don't LEAVE me like that.
Haru's next exhale feels tight, unable to pass through his nose. His chest too-warm.
"I won't," Makoto says aloud, pressing his nose and mouth to Haru's soft, worn undershirt. "I won't ever…"
It's… it's better.
Free! isn't mine. This is based on the prompt I found on the Free! Kink Meme: "HaruMako - Thinks Makoto is drowning again" and I decided to turn it into a sickfic and fluffy adorableness on top of it! I hope you guys love it! This is my Wednesday entry for Makoharu Week 2016 for "favorite tropes/kinks" and I've LOVED modding for it and I'm so glad people found me and helped me create this event together! Any thoughts/comments so appreciated. :D