"It wasn't so bad, at first."
Makoto looked over to Haruka, who held a styrofoam cup of hot tea firmly with both hands. Steam wafted gently in the air before blowing away in a gust. They sat on a park bench and the November air was chilly.
Makoto remembered Haruka as reticent, but that was nothing compared to this – taciturnity. They had sat in silence for twenty minutes on this bench before Haruka had offered up any hint of why he'd contacted Makoto, out of the blue.
Haruka was quiet again for a long while, but Makoto didn't prompt him, preferring to see where Haruka would take the conversation on his own.
"I found you on Facebook," Haruka changed the subject abruptly. "You shouldn't have your real name and email available so publicly. It's dangerous."
Makoto blinked, bemused. "It makes it easier," he said. "You wouldn't have found me if I hadn't."
"Anyone could have," Haruka insisted.
"I suppose," Makoto conceded. He wondered at this paranoia. "Did you email me just to tell me not to leave my name online, though?"
"No," Haruka shook his head, but did not elaborate. He seemed to be struggling with himself, but Makoto was patient. Three years teaching kindergarteners had elevated his patience to an art form.
"No, I didn't," he said abruptly. "Rin and I – we –" His voice trailed off quietly, and this time it was obvious he was warring with himself to continue. Makoto did not force the issue, taking a sip instead of his own coffee. It was already late afternoon; he would not sleep well.
"We split up," he ended the thought, but Makoto did not react. There was a raw sort of anguish to Haruka's voice that still held a painful power for Makoto.
"Why?" Makoto asked, surprisingly proud of the evenness to his tone; he was rattled. His own war of emotions was taking place, now: pain for Haruka's pain, loneliness for the past several years, anger –
He clamped down on those, hard, and listened.
"I was saying," Haruka took a deep breath. "It wasn't so bad. When we moved in together. After high school, when you – left, for university…" his thoughts were disjointed but Makoto had always been able to piece together the storyline behind them. He still had that ability, rusty. "Rin went to university – he was accepted onto a swimming team on scholarship – I didn't want to swim competitively, anymore."
Makoto nodded; he knew all of this.
"So I supported him, at first. The scholarship paid his tuition and some things, but not everything. I had a job…" the look in Haruka's eyes was faraway, and Makoto wondered what all of his thoughts were. "It… was good, at first. But leaving Iwatobi was – hard, and you…" Haruka paused again and closed his eyes, looking down at the tea: it no longer steamed in the cool air. "And everyone, actually… though I didn't think it at first." He sipped from the Styrofoam cup. "But mostly you."
Haruka… why now? Makoto thought. It's been years since I've even seen you, let alone let myself think of this… He shivered despite the thick sweater he wore, but Haruka didn't notice, intent on his cup. Makoto had to bite back a smile – both at his old friend, and at the easy return of old habits. They died hard.
"It was difficult?" Makoto finally prompted when it seemed Haruka was not about to continue.
"It was," the other man said, and stood. "I'm sorry, Makoto," he said, gripping the cup tightly and shouldering a saddlebag elegantly. "I can't – "
Makoto stood as well. "You're not going to tell me what happened?" He said, incredulous despite himself.
"It's difficult." Haruka said. Even years later, Haruka was shorter than he; Makoto found himself looking at a downturned head so that he could not see the other man's expression. He sighed.
"Well, it was good to see you anyway." He wouldn't pry, despite, five year's silence between them. Despite the loneliness, despite year of fear –
"Makoto, wait," Haruka said, grabbing at his wrist. Face still downturned, he mumbled, "Can we meet – another time? I need to… go slowly, with this."
Makoto's mouth twisted wryly.
"Yeah, Haru-chan. Slow as you want."