Makoto was used to coming and picking Haru up in the mornings. Ever since middle school - no, probably before that - Haru seemed to have had an issue with forgetting the time when he was in the tub. Sometimes Makoto would tease him, telling him that he should have been a mermaid. Haru never said anything to that, but Makoto could tell from his faraway gaze that he fantasized what that would be like.

He liked to think he knew his friend pretty well. They'd been together for several years already.

In middle school, when Haru still lived with his parents, he usually waited in the entryway for his mom to go rouse him from the tub, but as soon as his father was transferred and he started living on his own, when they entered high school, Makoto had appointed himself as Haru's alarm clock.

"Otherwise you'll never make it to school on time, Haru-chan," he had said with a smile.

"Stop it with the -chan already," Haru had muttered. Makoto pretended not to hear.

Those first few weeks of high school, it always struck Makoto as funny how so often he would find his friend in the tub. Once he had asked Haru what time he had woken that morning, only to get a blank stare in return. After that, Makoto began to think that perhaps Haru slept in his bath tub. The thought always made him smile, though he never shared it with anyone else.

Once, he had offered a hand to help Haru stand, noticing that his skin didn't have the raisin-y texture that he always got after spending too long in the bath. He had held Haru's hand too long that morning, running his fingers over the pads of Haru's fingertips and marveling at how smooth they were. Haru had made a noise of protest and told him to cut it out, but he hadn't pulled away.

Things like that gave Makoto hope.

Ever since he had noticed the difference between boys and girls, Makoto had noticed Haru more than anyone else. They had been friends before puberty hit, before girls had been anything other than 'gross'. Before any of them had thought about what adults do together at night, before any of them had thought to steal an older sibling's skin mag to discover the secrets of the naked body. But once those first inklings of interest had begun to surface, Makoto had found his eyes drifting not toward the short skirt hems and suddenly-fuller blouses of his female classmates, but toward the outline of Haru's shoulder blades, and how Makoto could sometimes see his hipbones when Haru stretched his arms over his head. He caught himself staring at the way the light played on Haru's smooth, dark hair, and the way his muscles shifted beneath his school uniform when he walked.

Haru was his friend, he knew he shouldn't stare, but he couldn't seem to help himself. Soft, flowery scents and shiny pink lips had nothing on powerful arms and a piercing blue gaze.

Once they were in high school, things only got worse. The two of them had been swimming together for years, Makoto knew that Haru's body was no great mystery to him. But seeing it every morning, covered only by the skin-tight jammer, sometimes he had to curl his hands into a loose fist to keep himself from reaching out and slipping his thumbs beneath the waistband to slowly pull the stretchy material down. The suit left nothing to the imagination, so sometimes Makoto wondered why the urge to see Haru naked was so strong.

He had never realized how wrong his assumption was, that seeing Haru in a jammer was almost the same as seeing him naked, until one morning in the winter of their first year he offered Haru a hand up and found his eyes glued on the bare expanse of skin between his best friend's navel and knees.

"Ah-" Makoto had said, dropping Haru's hand so he could turn around to offer him some semblance of privacy. He could imagine Haru looking down at himself to figure out what was wrong, while Makoto himself was trying not to blush so his ears wouldn't be red. After all, catching an accidental glance of a friend in the bath shouldn't have been such a big deal. Making it a big deal made it weird. Guys didn't care about seeing each other naked, right? Since neither of them had anything that the other hadn't seen before.

"Sorry," Haru had said, sounding unperturbed. "Everything is in the wash." Makoto wrestled with himself, wishing Haru had sounded more distressed and showing that he felt something, anything toward him other than friendship, but at the same time glad that at least one of them could be normal about the situation. He had excused himself with a tight laugh, shutting the bathroom door behind him and sighing as he had leaned against it. Later, the two of them had walked to school as if nothing had happened.

For Haru, maybe, it hadn't been anything important. But for Makoto, neck-deep in a crush on his best friend and sinking further into it every second they were together until he thought he might drown, it was all he could think of for weeks afterward. At times he would wake from dreams of Haru leaning over him, his skin so deliciously bare and wet, so hard he could count each heartbeat throbbing in his dick. Those nights, he would take himself into his hand, and jerk himself off fast, panting harshly as he rolled over to bury his face in his pillow so that when he keened with need he wouldn't wake his brother and sister in the room next door. Makoto would fuck his fist, imagining it to be Haru's fist, or his mouth, or sometimes the beautifully muscled ass that he couldn't help but watch as they walked to school, enveloping him with heat; with such thoughts filling his head, with the head of his cock brushing against his sheets as his hand stroked himself furiously, it didn't take long for Makoto to come with a shudder, Haru's name on his lips.

After the first time that had happened, Makoto couldn't bring himself to look Haru in the eye. Haru hadn't said anything, but Makoto hadn't really expected him to. In a way, it was a relief that Haru was so focused on water, to the point where he forgot to observe the world around him. It meant that Makoto didn't have to come up with an awkward explanation as to why there was such long, drawn out silences between them on their way to and from school. It meant that if he and Haru's hands ever brushed, he could pretend that nothing was amiss when he withdrew his own had as though he had been burned, and Haru would shrug it off.

By the end of winter, and the end of their first year as high school students, Makoto had learned how to act normally around his best friend once more. The dreams - and the aftermath of the dreams - still came as frequently as they had months prior, but he had taught himself how to look at Haru and not flinch, how to laugh as though he meant it, and how to hide his feelings for his friend behind a smile and a kind word. When he was ready, he would eventually tell Haru how he felt. His friend's eccentricities meant that he could selfishly keep him to himself and monopolize his time, without worrying that someone else would try to invade. His cool aloofness meant that though there were many girls that admired and liked him, none had approached him with a confession. And even if they had, he had confidence that they would be turned down.

After all, Haru's first love was the water. Makoto only hoped that his second love could be him.