Author's Note: There may be some confusion with me swapping between Mikoshiba and Seijuuro but it all depends on the perspective. For Haru and Rin, he would be Mikoshiba and for Makoto, he's Seijuuro. I think that would show just how close Makoto and Seijuuro had become.
Rin and Haru were here in his house. They were here, sitting with his family, talking and laughing as if no time had passed, like they had been doing before they graduated. They were sitting on the couch opposite his parents while the twins squeezed at their sides, asking questions and looking up at them with big, adoring smiles.
Makoto obviously wasn't the only one who missed them and he watched from afar, smiling as Ren gestured wildly at an attentive Haru while Ran giggled at something Rin said to her.
The happiness he felt was overwhelming and when they turned to look at him, it was like a physical blow to his chest. They stood up almost by reflex and Makoto didn't think twice. He didn't have to when he was just so happy to see them after so long. He crossed over to them, arms raised and them standing near each other made it so easy for him to just wrap an arm around their necks, pulling them to him. He felt an arm wrap around his back and another around his waist, squeezing him in turn and he laughed.
"It's great to see you two!" He pulled away, keeping them at arm's length just so he could look – really look – this time at the real thing instead of the pictures in various sports magazines he kept in a box.
Haru was a few inches taller now and just a little bit broader around the shoulders but he was mostly still as slender as before. His hair was slightly longer than what he was used to back in high school and it fell over his face, his eyes soft and still as blue as the ocean he loved so much.
I'm very happy to see you, his gaze seemed to say but Makoto, as happy as he was, didn't know if he was reading him right anymore. Too much time had passed and an ugly feeling bubbled inside him the more he thought about it (it's hard to brush nearly ten years of no communication) despite the joy he felt.
He gave himself a mental shake and kept it out of his mind, smiling at him (and worrying that Haru might read that smidgeon of resentment in him) before turning to Rin who had, out of all of them, seemed to change the most.
Rin was taller and broader than Haru now and there was gentleness and mischief in his red eyes that Makoto once feared he had lost completely after coming back from Australia. He was glad that he could see the young Rin he'd met in middle school in the man that stood in front of him now. Rin was beaming, too, and he had always been easy to read, so expressive with every movement that Makoto knew he was also happy but there was that pang again in his chest, the feeling that he'd been abandoned by them.
That, for some reason, it couldn't possibly be this easy even if it did feel right to have them here.
"…you boys should stay for breakfast," his mother was saying, shaking him out of depressing thoughts.
Rin smiled but shook his head. "That's okay. We don't want to be a bother," he said and Haru nodded in agreement at that.
"Nonsense!" Nami said cheerfully, waving a dismissive hand at them, before she clapped her hands together and said, "I'll start on it right now!"
"I wanna help," Ren volunteered as he began to follow his mother to the kitchen.
"Me, too!" said Ran as she went after him.
"No running," his father called uselessly out to them, shaking his head as his youngest children all but stomped their way in their rush. He turned to the other three left behind with him and clapped a hand on his son's shoulder. "Well, I have some work I'd rather finish today so I'll leave you boys to catch up," he said as he stood up and disappeared down the hall.
The three were left alone in the living room. Rin spared a glance at Haru who hadn't taken his eyes off of Makoto at all while the taller man watched his mother and brother in the kitchen, probably debating whether he should help them or not. He gave Haru a nudge and tilted his head in Makoto's direction, smirking as Haru looked at him in alarm even as he felt the unavoidable jealous twinge at the way Haru went right back to staring at Makoto with a content, barely there smile – something he had only seen when Haru looks at him.
He was genuinely glad to see Makoto, too, of course. He was still taller and broader than either him or Haru but still as gentle when he talks or when he moves. He could sense a change in him but couldn't figure out what because everything else was just how it was nearly ten years ago.
His smiles, so familiar and comfortable, made Rin breathe a little easier, now that he knew that their plan had a chance of succeeding.
Rin had been afraid that Makoto would be angry with them and turn them away (he had good reason to, after all, and Rin wouldn't blame him). He'd dreaded them coming here without any notice but couldn't show Haru his apprehension because Haru was already nervous and he had to be strong for him.
He and Haru would have done anything to be forgiven and should they have been unsuccessful, well, at least, they knew that they tried (that's what he said to Haru but Rin didn't believe it himself – if anything, he was more determined to succeed). He shouldn't have been worried, though, because Makoto was still Makoto and while it made him feel selfish to think so, he was glad that he hadn't changed much.
"What do you guys want to eat?" Makoto asked as he turned to them, smiling softly. "I'd cook for you but Kaa-chan doesn't let me when I'm here."
"Saba," Haru muttered softly before he could stop himself and Makoto laughed.
"I should have known," he said and while it meant nothing, the innocent words hit them in the wrong way the moment he said it, bringing about the distance between them that they had been ignoring. It became quiet and it didn't look like anyone wanted to talk despite the many questions that were in their minds.
It just didn't seem like the best time or place.
Makoto laughed uneasily then cleared his throat. "Well, the good news is we already decided on grilled mackerel for breakfast for old times' sake."
"Old times?" Rin repeated with a brow raised.
Makoto shrugged, tension going out of his broad shoulders as they went to a safer topic. "I've been experimenting with some recipes when I come here so it's been a while since we've had a traditional breakfast together," he said, tailing off yet again to a tense silence.
He was about to say something more, anything, to get the conversation going just as the doorbell rang. Ran sighed as she went out of the kitchen, annoyed. "I'll get it," she muttered, sulking.
They heard the door open and then, "Wai, Sei-nii!"
"Ohayou," greeted the visitor and his voice was strangely familiar that both Haru and Rin perked up at the sound, trying to remember where they heard it before.
Makoto's eyes widened, standing just as they heard Ran and the visitor's steps get closer. They followed his gaze and suddenly, there was Mikoshiba Seijuuro, standing in front of them with Ran hanging off his arm and holding a bag in her other hand. He stood taller than Makoto, his distinct, wild red hair standing in all directions and he had grown heavier, too, since the last time they saw him compete before retiring. He was grinning wide, as he waved at Makoto, waggling his fingers playfully at him.
"Morning! I brought an offering," he said, grinning as he tipped his head in Ran's direction while the girl lifted the bag for Makoto to see.
Rin and Haru shared an incredulous glance with each other, wondering what Mikoshiba was doing here and what his relationship was with Makoto. For a moment, it felt like they were intruding as Makoto approached Mikoshiba and hugged him a second longer than what they thought was necessary.
"You forgot your key again, didn't you?" Makoto guessed as they parted and Mikoshiba sheepishly rubbed the back of his head, still grinning. "What did you bring this time?"
"Ice cream," Ran chirped before looking up at Mikoshiba with suspicious narrowed eyes. "Sometimes I think Sei-nii just likes mooching breakfast because this happens, like, every week."
"Ran-chan, so mean," Mikoshiba pouted with a hurt expression on his face, placing his hand over his heart.
The girl rolled her eyes, blushing as she muttered something about going back to the kitchen and did just that.
"She's right, you know," Makoto chided him playfully.
"About me mooching?" Mikoshiba asked, smirking. "Of course, she is. She's a smart girl." His voice dropped lower as he leaned closer to Makoto. "Got it from her older brother," he stage-whispered, winking at him cheekily.
Makoto snorted and shook his head before he remembered that they weren't exactly alone. "Ah, Seijuuro–"
"Oh, hey, long time, no see!" Mikoshiba greeted Haru and Rin as soon as he spotted them, approaching them and grasping their hands one at a time and giving it a firm shake. "How's the team doing without me?"
Breakfast was not as awkward as Makoto expected. Their kitchen and dining room was fairly small so having six adults and two teenagers in one table felt a little crowded but cozy despite the lack of elbow room. His parents shared the space at the head of the table with the twins opposite them while he and Seijuuro sat together opposite Haru and Rin.
His parents asked them what else they've been up to, continuing their conversation before Makoto went down to see them and the twins interjected with questions of their own. The last Summer Olympics came up a few times with two gold medals for each of them in their 100M events (butterfly and freestyle, obviously) and two silver for 200M but Makoto already knew that. He had the magazines with a shot of them on the podium. He even had the event recorded and would often play it when he felt down (it all sounded pathetic but he couldn't stop doing it).
He really wanted to find out about Haru and Rin's lives beyond what he'd read on the internet or watched on TV but he felt uncomfortable just asking out of nowhere so he let the conversations flow around him and listened instead. Thankfully, Seijuuro was also there and there was no shortage of topics when it came to him – from the swim team's statistics to last night's drama episode to the restaurant.
"You own a restaurant?" Rin asked, surprised.
Seijuuro grinned mischievously. "Yep and this guy over here," he nudged Makoto with his shoulder, "is my partner."
Haru's eyes widened at that but just slightly and whatever that emotion he saw flicker on his face was, it was gone before Makoto could find out what it meant.
"Partner?" Rin repeated skeptically, turning to Haru with an odd look on his face. Why did he look… worried?
"Business partner – in the future, anyway – and head chef of my awesome restaurant," Seijuuro clarified and it just hit Makoto that Haru and Rin might have misunderstood. Looking at the speculative gleam in Seijuuro's eyes despite his offhanded way of saying things, he just knew that he meant for them to misunderstand. But why? "You should come visit us some time. Makoto makes a mean mackerel pâté."
Haru's house was a small walk away from Makoto's – or rather, Makoto's parents' house. They had discovered during breakfast that Makoto didn't live there anymore. He just liked staying the night so he could spend Saturday mornings with his family but other than that, he had his own house close to the beach which made Haru worry though he would never say it out loud (it didn't feel like he had any right). According to his mother, her family owned that house before they decided to move closer to town and Makoto bought it on his own.
"Hey, Makoto," Haru remembered Mikoshiba say, "you should invite them to dinner tonight or something. They'll be your Guinea pigs for that new menu you're trying out."
"It's not a new menu, I mean, not really. I just thought I'd try to cook something Italian," Makoto had replied. "Most of the ones I'm trying are classic dishes."
Mikoshiba had continued as if he hadn't heard a word. "Dinner under the stars by the beach – pretty romantic, I'd say. Perfect for a double date!"
He had winked at Haru then and while he respected Mikoshiba as an athlete and a former teammate (and one of the few who knew about his and Rin's relationship), Haru had never had the overwhelming urge to punch him in the face so hard.
"Date?!" Makoto had exclaimed, flailing his arms and saying things Haru couldn't recall anymore.
Haru bit his lip, an uncomfortable sinking feeling forming in the pit of his stomach. He knew that he missed a lot and it made the distance between him and Makoto almost impossible to close. The old familiarity was still there but there were things he didn't know and it felt wrong to ask when he felt that he should know these things. A long time ago, he'd made it a point to know everything there was about Makoto: his fears, his dreams, his thoughts – everything. He didn't have that right anymore, much less to inquire about what his relationship was with Mikoshiba even though Haru felt as if he was drowning, the air getting squeezed out of his lungs at the thought of Makoto being with someone else (too late, too late, too late chanting in his head).
To even think about acting all friendly now as if nothing happened between them left a bitter taste in his mouth and he just couldn't do it, couldn't ignore that he'd done Makoto wrong by leaving.
It had all seemed logical and simple back then. Following the Regionals, he and Rin had been scouted and made local celebrities. There had been so many offers, so many prospects for their future all of a sudden and Rin and his enthusiasm about being one step closer to his dream swept Haru up like a wave and took him along.
During that time, it made sense for him and Rin to be together after a little fumbling along, trying to find the middle ground because while it had felt natural to fall in love with each other, there was always a struggle between the two of them, a struggle for dominance because of their natures. It took a lot of patience and compromise but they had managed it somehow.
Makoto had been nothing but supportive, guiding them along and putting things in perspective when things got too heated, too difficult.
Before long, graduation was over and he and Rin were off to a university in Tokyo under full scholarships and entering several competitions that allowed them to qualify for the national team. Somewhere along the way, with hectic and heavy training, the chance to do what he loved the most, the new excitement he found in competing and the distance between Tokyo and Iwatobi, he'd forgotten about them.
He'd forgotten about Makoto. And for some (probably stupid) reason, he hadn't even tried to reach out.
Time would pass and Haru was not truly content though his happiness with Rin was real. They'd made a home for themselves and they fit well even if they do argue sometimes but there was always something missing and Haru knew exactly what (or who) it was. A part of himself had always yearned for Makoto (his reassuring smile, his calm, his fears, his corny jokes) and he'd almost ruined his relationship with Rin, who knew about his feelings (feelings that Haru himself couldn't comprehend) but didn't quite understand how complex they were, how it was different to Haru's feelings for him but just as intense.
He'd been afraid then and it had sealed his decision to forget about the ones he left behind in Iwatobi. He could have stayed in touch with Nagisa and Rei but Makoto was still a large part their lives and he didn't want to hurt Makoto more than he had to by staying away. He had told himself over and over that it was necessary because he'd been afraid of losing Rin when it seemed that he was the only one left in his life who mattered.
He really didn't know what to do now. On one hand, he desperately wanted Makoto to be a part of his life again given this opportunity. On the other, he felt so selfish, wanting him and Rin at the same time and knowing that he could hurt both of them by going through with this. It was so unfair for the two of them.
A hand closed around his shoulder the moment his foot landed on the last step and he turned around to face Rin.
"Don't worry so much," he said, rubbing his thumb firmly but soothingly on Haru's shoulder. "Whatever happens, I'm here, okay? We'll make this work."
Haru nodded and for once since they left their apartment, he felt a little lighter.
Makoto was on his back, floating several inches above the sandy sea floor and lightly swinging his tail up and down as he pushed himself weightlessly through the water, watching tiny fish give him thoughtful stares and light pecks (or kisses according to Seijuuro) before they pass him by and go on their merry way. He was much more relaxed than he was this morning and as the excitement finally simmered down, he began to think about what happened in a rational light.
While he was undoubtedly happy to see them (Makoto was never one for grudges and he'd long ago forgiven them), it just seemed odd that they were here now when they had just disappeared from his life nearly a decade ago.
Why the sudden appearance? Did Gou know about this and, if so, why didn't she say anything? Maybe she didn't know, Makoto thought, or maybe she just didn't tell him because for some reason, talking about Haru and Rin outside of what information they already had (from the internet, TV or magazines) was taboo.
Though they didn't talk as often as their schedules would allow, he, Gou, Nagisa and Rei would try to get in touch and catch up with each other as much as they can. There were times that they would schedule a day that they would just talk (over Skype or something) even if Nagisa was all the way in the South Pole with some penguins or Rei was in his studio, panicking in the middle of a design slump. It wasn't easy but they made it work somehow.
He'd been hit the hardest when he just woke up one day and realized that neither Haru nor Rin were ever going to talk to him anymore. He had wondered often if they had known, if he had been so transparent about his love for Haru that it became uncomfortable or awkward for them. He'd been afraid that they could be fighting because of him when all he really wanted was for them to be happy.
It had taken a while for him to come out of it. He'd learned slowly how to stand on his own and even felt angry at them for a time (which Gou encouraged because, apparently, it was a healthy reaction). Not angry for himself, but for Nagisa and Rei who did nothing wrong and didn't deserve to be cast aside. Angry for Gou because she was stuck in the middle of all of this.
Makoto had to be honest with himself. Forgiven or not, it had hurt when Haru left and it still did, apparently, but it was easy to return to old habits and he felt like himself again, now more than ever.
He just didn't know how to feel about that.
Drifting along the gentle current and deep in thought, he didn't notice someone close to him until fingers dug at his sides. "BOO!"
Makoto's body jerked in response, freezing for just a blink before he nearly jumped out of his skin (and scales). His tail swung down in powerful strokes that got him a good distance away from whatever it was that touched him (his mind hadn't caught up to him yet), his heart pounding and his eyes wildly looking around.
"That never gets old," Seijuuro crowed as he held on to his stomach, his deep red tail bent in front of his chest as he laughed loudly, the fish around him avoiding his shaking shoulders and tail, eyeing him warily. He was laughing so hard that he was starting to roll over backwards.
Willing his pounding heart to a steadier rhythm and his gills expanding as he breathed water in and out quickly, Makoto glared at the still laughing Seijuuro who wiped imaginary tears (they were underwater, after all) from the corner of his eye.
"That was awesome!" Seijuuro beamed at him, obviously proud of himself. "Where's Hazuki when you need him and his underwater camera?"
Makoto swam to him, disapproval written all over his face. "You almost gave me a heart attack!"
"Not my fault you're thinking too much," Seijuuro said as he straightened himself, the frills where his ears should be fanning out in agitation before they settled against the sides of his head, fluttering lightly. He looked at Makoto, really looked, his perceptive gold eyes looking deeply into Makoto's. "You feeling okay?"
Makoto smiled reassuringly. "I'm okay. Just... a little surprised and confused, I guess."
"I see," he said and Makoto didn't doubt him because Seijuuro just knew these things (and there may or may not be an incident when Makoto got himself shamelessly drunk and told him everything). "Want my opinion?"
Makoto sighed. "Not that I can stop you from telling me anyway."
"I'm a hundred percent sure that Nanase wants to do the nasty with you."
Author's Note: Sorry for being late and I hope it's worth it. Comments and suggestions are welcome.