"Are you okay, Haru?" Makoto asked, concerned about his best friend.
Haru sneezed again. "I'm fine." The brunette replied in an abnormally tired voice. Haru was athletic and healthy so he rarely fell sick, so this was a side that Makototo rarely saw.
"I know what you're thinking." Makototo said, careful to pick his next words. "I... don't think you should swim today."
Haru stared at him icily.
Makoto waved his hands. "Only until you get better. What if your sickness gets worse? Then you'll never swim again!" He knew his best friend loved the water, and even talking about separating him with it was the worst thing. But he felt like he was responsible for Haru's well-being.
Haru turned his gaze to the front of the class, not saying a word.
'Man, he's really mad now.' Makoto thought. But he knew that Haru will try something that night.
And he was right.
That night, he arrived at the swimming pool. Haru was already swimming underwater, oblivious to Haru's presence.
Makoto sighed. 'This kid. Didn't even give me a chance to argue with him'.
'Well, since he's here, might as well let him have fun for another 5 minutes before I haul him out.'
Besides, Makoto had always liked watching Haru swim. To say he is a beautiful swimmer is... An understatement. He was one with the water. How the water parts ways to let him pass, how it gently glides over him, caressing every inch of his muscular form.
Suddenly, Makoto felt weird. Haru had not made any movement in the last minute or so. He did have a habit of just staying at the bottom of the body of water, but something told him that this was out of the ordinary.
'Haru? Haru?' Makoto yelled. Despite knowing how much Haru loved the water, he was reasonable enough to respond in case anything happened.
Did something happen?
"Haru? HARU!" Makototo yelled again, this time fear stabbed his heart. He ran along all the sides of the pool.
Shit, it's so dark. I can't see him. He thought. He was deathly afraid of the dark. What should he do? Go down and find him?
Makoto's knees shivered in fear at the thought. He hated the dark, but he was beyond horrified at the thought of being in dark waters.
'But if something really happened to Haru, can I live with myself?' A thought popped into his head.
Makoto bit his teeth until it almost drew blood. He took off his t-shirt. Then with a final gasp of air, he dove in. Deeper and deeper. His heart raced when he began to feel the darkness close in on him. The silence in the water was so great that his own heartbeat pounded in his ear. It started to choke him.
His body was so close to pulling back, but Makoto scolded himself. My best friend is down here. I have to find him.
He needs me.
He... needs me? This was a concept that was so alien to him. Haru was the kind of person who never asked help from anyone, nor did he give the chance for people to worry about him. It was a wonder to some people how he managed to have friends at all since he never seemed to depend on people.
But Makoto didn't care.
He knew that under that stoic figure and intense icy stare, he knew that Haru was a passionate boy who just didn't know how to reach out.
Makoto saw a figure in the darkness. He couldn't make out what it was, but Makoto knew. Suddenly, it was as if the darkness disappeared as Makoto drew closer.
It was Haru. He was lying at the bottom of the pool, eyes closed, not moving.
He took Haru's arm, placed it across his shoulder and kicked upwards.
The two finally broke the surface. Makoto gasped for air.
But Haru did not.
Makoto panicked and got Haru out of the water as fast as he could. He laid him down on the tiled floor.
"Shit." Makoto cried out loud. He could see Haru was not breathing and his lips had turned blue.
'I have to start CPR.' Makoto instinctively thought. But Makoto had never given CPR to a male before. The thought of his lips pressing against Haru's...
'He will die if you don't do it.' The reasonable side of him snapped. Then without thinking, Makoto crushed his lips upon Haru's and started CPR.
After the 3rd round of chest compressions, Makoto dove in for Haru's lips again when Haru started coughing up water. He pulled back, a sigh of relief left him. Makoto turned Haru on his side, towards him, to aid the water-expulsion process.
But even after getting rid of all the water in his lungs, Haru did not look like he was fully conscious.
Makoto grabbed a towel and wrapped it around him and carried the smaller man in his arms, cradling him against his bare chest.
'He's so cold.' Makoto thought as Haru's body pressed against his'. His eyes started to fill with tears out of worry.
Without further delay, Makoto ran to the nearest hospital, clutching Haru with his life.
Haru opened his eyes and all he could see was a blur of white. He heard voices, but they were too fuzzy to make out what they were saying.
Then, a familiar face loomed into view. It was foggy, but he thinks he could make out who it was by the familiar colour of his hair.
"Makoto?" He tried calling out. But all he heard was the sound resounding in his head.
Then, he fell into darkness again.
"Doctor." Makoto greeted, pulling away from Haru. "I am so sorry to disturb you so late at night."
"It's fine." The doctor said, waving his hand. "Anyway, it seems like your friend blacked out while he was underwater."
Makototo's eyes widened. It was not something that would happen to Haru. He could stay underwater for long periods of time and still not come up for air. What changed this time?
"He was having a flu, sneezing all the time. If I knew that it was a problem, I would have never let him swim." Makoto said.
The doctor was deep in thought. Then he spoke "Oxygen is important for the body. And the body needs more oxygen when it moves more rigorously, or when it's doing exercise. That's why breathing technique is important. If there's not enough oxygen in the body, especially the brain, it's called hypoxia. Well..." the doctor trailed off, looking at Haru. "That's when a person will faint."
"Are there any effects from hy..pox...xia?" Makoto asked. He was too afraid to know the answer, but he had to know. This was the reality they are faced with.
The doctor shook his head. "For his case, not from hypoxia, no."
Before Makoto could breathe a sigh of relief, the doctor continued "But..."
His heart dropped. His mouth was dry and could not utter a single word.
"But... The water that came into his lungs had damaged his lung tissue." The doctor looked at Makoto squarely. "I don't know how else to put this. But I don't think your friend can swim anymore."
Makoto took a while to process the doctor's words. Haru can't swim anymore? Haru? Can't swim? What did it mean? It was unfathomable that in this world, Haru had to live on land and not in water.
The doctor placed his hand on Makoto's shoulder as a reassuring gesture. "I am sorry." He said. He got up and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Makoto stared at the sleeping Haru, still trying to process what had happened.
Haru's eyes fluttered open. It was dark, but he could make out the hospital ceiling. He felt something warm clasp his hand. He tilted his head to the side and saw a familiar shade of colour. Makoto was resting his forehead against his own arm, his hand clasped tightly on Haru's hand.
"Makoto..." Haru called out weakly. Immediately, Makoto looked up at Haru, releasing his grip on Haru's hand.
Haru was taken aback. Had Makoto been... Crying? Even in the dark, he could see a glimmer in his eyes.
"What's going on?" Haru asked, mustering all the strength to ask.
Makoto gave a reassuring smile, despite it turning out to be a crooked one. "Ssshhh. Don't talk. You need to rest first." He said bravely while patting Haru's leg reassuringly.
"What... Happened?" Haru asked, even more alarmed than before.
"You fainted." Makoto said. "The doctor says you need to rest. So please, go back to sleep."
"It's dark. Are you okay?" Haru asked, remembering how his friend really hated the dark.
Makoto nodded his head. "I am okay. I'm not scared. Now go to sleep."
Haru nodded, trusting his friend's words. It wasn't long before he was swept under again.
Makoto watched as Haru fell asleep. 'I'm scared of the dark... But... I'm more scared of losing you again.' Makoto thought bitterly. He looked out the window. The full moon hung low in the sky.
Makoto sighed. How was he going to tell Haru about his predicament now?
In the morning, Makoto was up bright and early. He had requested the doctor to come in and explain the situation to Haru. Maybe if he listened to a professional, he would take it better. Makoto had been contemplating all night whether he should break the news or should the doctor do it. He felt like this was his best bet.
He had also called up Nagisa, Rei, Gou and Miho-sensei and asked them to be with Haru when the doctor broke the news.
"Are you sure? He can't swim anymore?" Gou asked. There was a numbness in her voice on the other side of the line.
Silence. Every time Makoto said it, the clearer it became to him - Haru can never swim again.
"Unn." Was all Makoto could muster.
"Okay. I'm coming over now." And with a click, the call disconnected.
Soon, everyone was at the hospital. Haru was still asleep. Everyone kept quiet, looking at Haru, looking solemn. They didn't speak to each other. Because what could they talk about? Everyone was too shocked to think. They didn't expect in this universe that something like this could happen.
"Excuse me" a voice came from the door. The doctor stepped in.
At that moment, Haru's eyes fluttered open. Then he stared at the room around him.
"Why is everyone here?" Haru asked, confused. Nobody dared to say anything. Nobody dared to look him in the eye. Instead, they exchanged glances with each other.
"Haru, how are you feeling? Does it hurt anywhere?" The doctor asked in a soft, friendly tone.
Haru shook his head, a confused look on his face. "I am fine."
"Well, that's excellent." The doctor said as he pulled up a chair and sat next to Haru. Makoto stood tall at the foot of the bed, unable to move.
"I don't know if you recall, but last night you were swimming." The doctor said.
Swimming? Yes, I was. Haru started to remember now. He was swimming at the bottom of the pool. He saw nothing but light retractions in the water above him. Then... He could remember he was coughing. He remembered feeling a warmth enveloping him. He could hear a soft heartbeat... and that was all he remembered.
"You fainted while you were still underwater. And subsequently, you drowned. Your friend here performed CPR and brought you to the hospital." The doctor pointed towards Makoto.
'Is that why my lips hurt?' Haru thought. 'Huh, he didn't seem like the type. Baka, even if you had the chance to kiss me, you didn't have to be so rough.'
"The fainting spell was caused by hypoxia, where the body is not getting enough oxygen. But there were no side effects that resulted, thank goodness."
Haru breathed a sigh of relief. Good, so I can go home and swim today.
"But... The water that got into your lungs did some substantial damage to your lung tissue. It seems that it's irreversible."
Haru looked at the doctor as if he had been speaking in some foreign language. What was he saying?
"I am sorry, but I don't think you will be able to swim anymore."
Silence. Nobody dared to say anything or move an inch. They saw Haru's eyes widen, and then he dropped his head so that his hair was covering his eyes. But then, they could see tears trail down his cheeks.
"Haru..." Gou started.
"Out." Haru snapped. Everyone looked at each other, and left reluctantly. The doctor got up, patted Haru by his knee and left. Makoto was the only one hasn't left the room, standing at the foot of the bed. Haru didn't seem to care. Haru started to cry. He didn't even feel like crying but his body was doing it for him.
Why am I crying? What's going on? Haru thought, still confused about the whole situation. He held up the palms of his hands and watched the tears drop onto it.
And at the foot of the bed, the normally calm and collected Makoto started to silently cry too.