Pairing: Makoto x Haruka

Note: Again, I love you all for all the support you've shown me. I can't thank you enough. Also, I said this chapter was going to 'take a while', but it seems I've been inclined to write even if I'm busy xD I said it would be silly, mindless fun, but the fluff train hit me, so have a mouthful of it.

Warnings: Slash, mild language, mild adult content.


There was one thing cemented in the ebony-haired male's head, and as much as he tried to ignore it, it nagged at his heart; an unpleasant, prickling sensation in his chest that would continue to strain against the confined prison of his ribcage.

Haruka had always wondered how people maintained long-term relationships – he though that the flame of passion the two parties held for each other would dwindle and flicker out with time, and he actually worried the same would happen with him and Makoto. He didn't want their relationship to be superficial, simply for the sake of being able to say that he was in a relationship, and that they would split apart after a month. No, he didn't want that at all.

He learned that he wouldn't have to worry too much about that. Whenever thoughts along those lines crossed his mind, Makoto would do something subtle – be it a simple action, or a few words of affection - and make him fall in love all over again.

Today was no different.

Haruka felt his consciousness slip back to reality in a flash. With his eyes still closed, his other four senses were enhanced – the atmosphere of the room he was in felt different from his own. The entire household emanated an aura of comfort and warmth, unlike his own home, where he would wake up in a lonely, tense, cold sweat. His limber body dipped into a mattress and he was enveloped in tender heat, thin blanket tucked attentively to his chin. It smelled of lavenders, and... Makoto.

The freestyle swimmer cracked twin cerulean eyes open, immediately greeted with a familiar face. The brunet was sleeping peacefully, and although he was loath to admit it, he looked almost irresistably cute when he was in a drowsy state, and the muffled breathing only added to that factor. Haruka smiled softly and prodded a few stray locks of golden bronze bangs from Makoto's closed eyes.

Although reluctantly, he wormed his way out of the taller's arms and swung his legs off the edge of the bed, casting a wayward glance at the digital clock sitting on the bedstand. A soft green light shone, notifying him that it was a little past six in the morning, and that indeed it was Friday, which meant school. Haruka stood to his feet and pecked Makoto briefly on the cheek. He needed to take his morning bath – it was, after all, almost like a ritual to him.

The onyx-haired youth silently slipped out of his companion's room and stalked down the hallway to where he knew the larger bathroom, containing a bathtub, was. It was much too early in the morning for any of Makoto's family members to be using it. As he turned the knob of the door and entered the room, something caught his attention.

His uniform, which had previously been thoroughly soaked, was now hanging by a few clothespins from a clothesline, fluttering gentle in the morning breeze. Another smile tugged at the corner of his lips. He made a mental note to thank Mrs. Tachibana for that when he bumped into her.

Haruka turned the knobs of the bathtub and watched the steady stream of water flowing freely, sending a few droplets splashing against his face. As he waited, he stripped down slower than he normally did. When the tub filled to a satisfactory level, he dipped his foot in for a test on the temperature level. Perfect. With that, the swimmer slipped his entire body in and let the water lap at his skin, soothing away any odd kinks in his body.

~X~X~X~X~X~

Not long after Haruka's departure, Makoto stirred in his sleep and blinked awake.

"Haru-chan...?"

The tall one rubbed his eyes away of their drowsiness and stared at the spot his friend had been previously resting. He was not shocked to see that Haruka had wandered off – he assumed to the bathroom, for his daily, morning bath.

Makoto groaned and rolled over, rubbing away at an awkward knot in his shoulder. After a few moments of idly staring at the specks dusting his ceiling, the boy finally gathered enough energy to drag himself out of the comforts of his bedsheets and slip on his school uniform. He gave a quick glance at the time. It was a little before seven in the morning, which was an appropriate time to be waking himself from his slumber.

The young man froze in a moment of panic as he realized that today, he had volunteered to arrive at school early – he was to help the librarian with sorting out the boundless sea of volumes in time for the book exchange, as well as the fact that he had an important school outing that he had signed himself up to attend.

He comtemplated knocking at the larger bathroom to perform his part of Haruka's morning ritual. He would extend his hand out for the other to grab, with a little greeting of 'Good morning, Haru-chan'. Haruka would respond with 'Didn't I tell you to lay off the '-chan'?', or something vaguely similar, and Makoto would chuckle.

The brunet ran a few slender fingers through unruly strands of hair, mentally making a note to comb it out later. He did not have the time to mindlessly greet the water-loving youth soaking in his bathtub.

There was something he had to do before he left.

Makoto pulled open his drawer to snatch up a little trinket that he bought just two days ago, from the market downtown when shopping for project supplies. It immediately caught his attention and he knew he needed to own it.

After making sure said object was in pristine condition, he rushed feverishly to the other bathroom in the house as to not disturb Haruka, brush his teeth, wash his face, and perform the menial daily morning routines. When that was taken care of, the tall one allowed himself to spend a few minutes in the kitchen, preparing the 'thing' he had to do before his allotted time home was over.

~X~X~X~X~X~

It was a quarter past seven, and Haruka still sat idly in the bathtub, a small frown adorning his features. He did not want to admit it, but he felt a little upset and somewhat crestfallen. Why hadn't Makoto come yet? He always came at seven o'clock, yet the black-haired boy was still lounging around in the bathtub, with no one to help him out.

"...Maybe he's mad." Haruka mumbled quietly to himself as he stretched his arms above his head, peering through the crevices in his fingers. The light from the room slipped through the little ridges of his hands, outlining his arm with a white light,"...That... I didn't wait until he woke up before taking a bath." A rather childish reason, and even the freestyle swimmer didn't believe it himself. His sharp blue eyes softened as a sigh escaped his lips. Might as well get up and indirectly apologize.

Haruka dried himself off with a nearby towel, a faint smile replacing his frown. The towel was something special to him. The body of it was a deep, ocean blue, and in the center, a dolphin and an orca whale formed a circle. In the center of said circle was a pink heart. It was obviously meant for a very young girl to have, but Makoto had instantly fallen in love the moment he laid eyes on it.

.x.x.x.

Oh, the supermarket. Mrs. Tachibana always brought along her eldest son with her on shopping trips and allowed him to pick a few things that he wanted, after giving him a nod of approval – though he had to pay with his own allowance. Haruka would sometimes tag along when her son invited him. By 'sometimes', she meant almost always.

A young boy, perhaps around the age of eight, scrutinized the rows aong rows of goldfish food to find something suitable for his pet. Makoto's eyes trained across the fine print on each capsule until his orbs crossed paths with a rack of towels. He didn't particularly care about towels – only his mother did, mentioning something about finding a matching set for the 'Pantone 14-1118 beige tiles in the washroom'.

"Haru-chan! Look at this!"

The young boy's eyes shimmered as a smile bloomed across his face. A dark blue towel instantly caught his eyes – the design of a silver dolphin and an orca whale swimming around each other in a circle, a small heart stitched into the center. He had always loved both of the sea creatures and his fingers danced along the fabric. It was soft to the touch, and his mind and physical body wandered away from the fishfood, tunneling in on the fabric displayed in front of him.

"Lay off the '-chan'. It makes me sound like a girl." The slightly more irritable youth sent his friend a noncommital glare but complied to his request and approached with a hint of curiosity. His eyebrows raised even higher as he poked the towel that Makoto was currently placing on a proverbial pedestal. "...What's this?"

"Isn't it just the best?!"

Haruka blinked blankly at him and flicked his hair to the side. "...It's... okay."

Makoto gave a disappointed sigh at the unenthusiastic reply he received, and the other quickly took note. "...I mean, the dolphin's nice."

"Do you like dolphins?"

The raven-haired boy took a moment to consider his response and gave a curt nod. "Yeah. They're really good swimmers."

The brunet laughed softly and swiped the towel off the rack, clutching it to his chest. The corner of the material brushed against his knee as he walked, surveying the parameter for his mother, "I think I'll take this. I mean, I really like orca whales." Makoto traced said whale with a content grin, "...And since you like dolphins, this is pretty much perfect."

Haruka gave his companion a weird look, but he couldn't help but smile in return. "Mh." He looked over the design once more and fingered the change he kept in his pocket, "...I'll pay for it."

Makoto froze and granted him an incredulous look. "N-no, I can't have you do that! I mean, I've got enough allowance..."

"It'll be a gift." The young boy flipped a coin, sparking with white momentarily, suspended in the air for a brief moment; when it came tumbling back down, Haruka caught it skillfully against the back of his hand.

The taller looked to protest once more, but stopped himself and let his complaints fade away in the back of his throat. Instead, he reached over and entwined their fingers together, a smile blooming across his features. "Thank you."

.x.x.x.

The little bought of nostalgia made another sigh escape Haruka's lips as he patted his arm dry. Normally, one would find it weird to share towels, but this one was designated for Haruka to use if needed – after all, he would come over to Makoto's home at least once or twice a month.

The raven-haired youth slipped into his now dry uniform and made for the kitchen, perhaps to see if he could snatch a fruit before leaving, or give his thanks to Mrs. Tachibana. More importantly, he wanted to see where Makoto had run off to...

And he was greeted with neither of the three. Haruka felt anther tinge of worry at the lack of Makoto around... where could he have possibly gone? He couldn't have been that upset over something relatively trivial, right? It was not in Makoto's nature to act like that – after all, an integral part of his personality was his unconditional sweetness and understanding.

He shook his head and scanned the kitchen, noticing a plate and a full glass of orange juice sitting at the counter. Beside it appeared to be a slip of paper, concealing a small trinket. A bit curious at the strange set-up, the freestyle swimmer approached for reason of a closer inspection of the note; and as he did so, the worry in his heart melted into a tender warmth that flooded his chest and coursed through his entire body.

Haru-chan,

I hope you slept well. Sorry I disappeared without letting you know – I promised I would help the librarian with some shelving duties and I needed to get to school earlier than usual. I might not be able to see you during school today, too. I'll be helping with the book exchange, and I'm going on the optional field trip - the one to the aviation museum. I'll miss you.

Anyway, I made you breakfast! Grilled and salted mackerel – I know it's your favourite. Also, remember when we were younger, and you said you liked dolphins? I got you a little gift the other day.

Makoto

Haruka mentally slapped himself for even thinking than Makoto would be upset with him or that he would just flat out leave. He reread the little slip of paper a few times and felt something tugging violently at his heart. Never had he allowed anyone to slip past his cold exterior, though the walls he erected around himself were easily being torn apart by this man.

Makoto.

What had he been worrying about even earlier in the day? Something about the flame of passion between lovers dying out, and the same happening to the two of them? There would be no such chance, with someone as much of a damn sweetheart as Makoto.

His eyes flicked to the side, where his gaze stopped at the aforementioned gift.

It wasn't anything spectacular, but it hit very close to home. The athlete reached out and snatched the key chain, flipping it over in his hands. A small dolphin dangled from metal beads, a beautifully, hand-painted creature. He ran his thumb along the charm, feeling each carefully carved valley and the small details in the fins.

Haruka was never one to be smiling so early in the morning, but he couldn't help himself. His stoic line for a mouth broke out in a genuinely happy grin as he carefully folded the note and slipped it into his pocket. After giving the little key chain another heartfelt glance, he clipped it to his backpack, which sat near the foot of his chair.

When twin cerulean orbs rested on the cooked mackerel sitting in wait for his taste buds, Haruka could almost physically feel his chest filling with warmth. His smile shone brilliantly, and he found himself falling, once again, head over heels in love with Makoto.

~X~X~X~X~X~

The day couldn't have gone any slower. During each one of his classes, Haruka had sat in isolation and he felt lonely, without Makoto beside him. Even with Nagisa, and their newest recruit, Rei, it didn't feel right without the tall brunet, sharing his lunch with him or scolding him, not in earnest, for a little stunt that he would pull.

So, when the school bell finally rung, setting each student free from the numerous lectures that took place throughout the day, he sprung from his seat and almost sprinted out the door to their usual meeting place before walking home with one another.

The few minutes Haruka waited felt longer than any minutes he had every waited for something, or in this case someone, in his life.

It didn't take long for Makoto to arrive, hair looking a little bit disheveled and his tie crooked. He had been in a rush during the morning, even more so with the little gift he had prepared for Haruka, and the young man had been hard at work the entire day with the book exchange, and whatever field trip he had attended.

"Haru-chan!"

After not hearing Makoto's voice since last evening, the words flowing from his mouth sounded so heartwarming and pleasant to his ears that it immediately turned his frown neutral. The aforementioned swimmer raised his hand in greeting, trying to act as casual as he normally did, but he could not hide the smile that was just begging to break out onto his lips.

The taller of the two smiled gleefully and lightly jogged over to his companion, pressing a warm hand to the other's shoulder and flashing him that trademark, breathtakingly gorgeous smile of his – it never failed to amaze him, no matter how many times he'd seen it. Perhaps it was because that he understood why these smiles were directed to him now. "I missed you."

"...Likewise." Haruka echoed his assertion and couldn't help but raise his head, peering through obsidian bangs, and let his cerulean orbs hold a gaze with their emerald counterparts. Makoto's free hand had somehow found their way to gingerly brush the contours of his companion's face before falling limply back at his side. "Also, I wanted to thank you. For this morning."

The brunet's eyes twinkled in momentary confusion, but that confusion dissipated as the memory prodded its way back into his brain. "No need to thank me. The pleasure was all mine."

Haruka scoffed at his fading comment and let his urges fly free. Though they were standing, quite frankly, in public view, perfectly visible to the eyes of many fellow classmates and students, he leaned in for a quick hug, and while he did so, pressed as inconspicuous of a kiss as possible along Makoto's jaw. He pulled back as quickly as he made his advance and followed suite with a flourish of his bag, already beginning to walk off. "Come on, Makoto."

In most cases, the backstroke swimmer would have protested to doing something like this smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk. He stared, completely incredulous, for a few moments in pure shock. Makoto raised his finger to trail along the little part of his jaw where Haruka's lips had made their mark, and gave a flustered half-chuckle half-groan.

But when he saw the little dolphin key chain dangling from Haruka's backpack, and the light catching the figurine so it looked like it had just leaped out of the water, jumping with each step his friend took, he decided to let it go.


A/N: That was a lot of fun to write. Longest chapter yet! :D And probably my favourite (tied with 2), yet. C:

EDIT: Changed from Makoto's 'class' going on a field trip to him signing up for am optional one. I forgot that they were in the same class momentarily. xD Thanks to Seiyuurabu for noticing.

The silly crap won't be coming until... hm, maybe another two chapters :'D Sorry! I just had an idea and it will be a little bit angsty, but not too much. But I promise you Rei and Nagisa will be making an appearance next chapter!

Also, thanks for all your reviews! I'm super glad you like Mrs. Tachibana – she's really fun to write! About angst – there won't be a whole lot of it in this story, save for a few moments I have planned. As for smut... I'm not an enormous fan of just writing sex and sex and sex, and I don't really want to bump up the rating of this entire fic, so what'll probably happen is I'll write a separate little thing of that as a one-shot, and I'll let you guys know about it. C:

I appreciate every single one of your reviews! Really, they inspire me to update! Thank you so much! ; w ;

-Kaithau