So, here it is! My contribution to the Free! fandom! MakoHaru! Yeah, these two fluffernutters are my OTP. Are you surprised? I'm still pushing through a writer's block, so it might not be all that great and a tad cliche. In any case, for my first contribution, I feel quite a lot of pride towards this. I didn't want to spring any smut in just yet, so I wrote this fluffy feels fest. You'll get some smut out of me later. XD
Read, Review, and, most importantly, ENJOY!
Iwatobi High School - Senior Year
"I don't suppose Nagisa's told you?" Makoto asked Haruka awkwardly over lunch one day.
The blue eyed boy's heart hammered with dread, but he swallowed the lump in his throat, turning to his friend as indifferently as he could. "Told me what?"
"That's funny," Makoto began, scratching his chin, "Nagisa usually can't resist telling things." He smiled his trademark smile. "Well, I suppose it can't be helped."
"Told me what?" Haruka barked. He was becoming agitated with Makoto's cat and mouse game.
"I was accepted to medical school in America," Makoto replied.
That feeling of dread returned stronger than ever as it pulled at Haruka's stomach, making his lunch look downright disgusting. Again, he pushed it away with an exhale.
"That's wonderful news, Makoto. Congratulations."
His words were sincere, but Makoto knew that his friend was hiding more than he was saying.
"Really, Makoto. I'm happy for you."
Tears prickled Makoto's eyes. He knew Haruka wasn't too thrilled with the idea of him going away, but hearing his reassurance just brought out the crybaby in him. Haruka resisted the urge to crack a smile; Makoto was always a big, blubbering baby.
"Haru, I-I'll keep in touch and email you every day and make sure that you don't die just eating mackrel and-"
"Makoto," Haruka interrupted, placing a calm hand on Makoto's thigh.
Makoto looked up from his tears. "Yes, Haru?"
Makoto's going away party was the most painful thing Haruka had ever had to endure.
Makoto had been the one constant in his life, and now they were going their separate ways. Rei and Nagisa would still have one another; they had another year of high school left and would spend it together. How long would he have to endure without Makoto at his side? All these years, he sort of took Makoto for granted; relying on him to get him to school, used to him mothering him, making sure he got more than just mackrel in his system, having his friend bail him out of trouble, the strained relationship with him and Rin, and his total indifference to anything not swimming.
What had he done for Makoto? Now that his leaving was a real possibility, it brought the thought front and center.
After the party, Haru stayed behind the longest to help clean up. It was the least he could do.
"Thank you for coming, Haru," Makoto said after a long silence.
Haru shrugged. "You know I wouldn't miss your going away party."
Going away party. Those words stung as he fought back the lump in his throat.
"I know you wouldn't either," Makoto replied with a laugh and a smile. That smile that made Haruka feel like everything was going to be alright.
In two more days, he'd never see it again.
"It's getting late, isn't it?"
Haruka noted the time on the clock in the living room. Nearly two in the morning. "I'll stay over," he said, laying the rag on the table.
"Are you sure? You've had a long day, helping with the party and corralling Ran and Ren all day."
He did have a long day, but if it meant staying near Makoto for at least one more night, he would tough it out.
"Besides, I want us to hang out today," Haruka continued.
Makoto rose to his feet, pounding on his lower back with his fist. "Hang out? Today?"
"Just you and me," Haru elaborated.
"What's this all about? We hang out all the time."
"Swim team doesn't count."
What about holidays? Birthdays? Festivals? They saw each other a lot. Makoto and Haruka were a pair; couldn't have one without the other.
"I want some time with you alone. No Nagisa. No Rei. No twins. One on one."
A grin broke out across Makoto's face. "You sound like a needy girlfriend, Haru," he teased. "Are you going to miss me that bad?"
Yes, damnit! Why wouldn't I?! Haruka wanted to say. He turned to shoot a glare at Makoto. Not a serious one, but he didn't take too lightly to that girlfriend comment.
Probably because it hit too close to home.
Before Haruka could object to the statement, Makoto cleared his throat.
"Well, if we're going to hang out today, we'd best get some sleep, hm?" he asked with a smile.
Haruka turned away to hide the luminescent blush slowly staining his cheeks. Stupid, beautiful Makoto...
Finally, the day Makoto was to leave had arrived. The very day Haruka dreaded. He hadn't slept well the night before, but he was determined to see him off. This was the last day he'd see that kind face smiling back at him for God knows how long.
He sat in his bathtub as he usually did, mulling over silly words to say to Makoto. What would he do? What if he cried? What if he couldn't say anything? What if this was all for nothing?
Haruka was roused by the sound of his back door opening and hearing that familiar voice.
What the hell was Makoto doing here? Didn't he have a flight to catch? Haruka sank beneath the water, heart hammering in anticipation.
What if Makoto had come to tell him that he decided not to go? No such luck. Makoto always wanted to do this and Haruka couldn't think of anyone better to become a doctor than Makoto.
"I'm coming in, Haru."
The bathroom door slid open, Haruka resurfacing to the sight of his longest and best friend holding out a hand.
"Old habits die hard, eh, Haru?" Makoto said sweetly, smiling.
Slowly, he took the hand before him, lifting himself out of the bathtub.
"Don't you have a flight to catch?" asked Haruka, gently pushing Makoto aside to get dressed.
"I can't leave without saying goodbye to you, Haru. I wouldn't be able to handle it if you didn't come to the airport with me."
"So, that's why you're here?"
Makoto turned his back. "I can't do it without you, Haru. I need you there. Everyone's waiting for us outside."
"Everyone?" asked Haruka.
Makoto began to count on his fingers. "Mom, Dad, Ren and Ran, Rin, Nagisa, Rei, Kou, and Rin's friend Aiichirou."
Haruka shoved a wrapped gift in Makoto's hands.
"Wh-Haru, you got me a gift at the party and then we went out the next day. What's all this?"
"If you don't want it, give it back," Haruka deadpanned, holding his hand out.
"Of course I want it! If it's from you, Haru, I'll cherish it."
"You can't open it until you get on the plane. That's my only condition."
"Alright," Makoto laughed. "I'll open it on the plane. Thank you, Haru."
"Mako-chan!" Nagisa sobbed, throwing his arms around the larger boy's neck "Don't go! I'm gonna miss you!"
"Please don't cry, Nagisa. I'll come back for holidays and Summer," Makoto negotiated as the twins took the opportunity to cling to a leg each.
"You don't have to go, onii-chan!" Ren cried, rubbing his face against Makoto's pantleg. "You can stay here with me and Ran and Mommy and Daddy and Haru-chan!"
Makoto pet his brother's hair as he hoisted his inconsolable sister on his hip. "I wish I could stay, Ren. I really do. Onii-chan has to do this. You can be the man of the house and help Mom and Dad and Ran."
"I don't wanna be the man of the house! I want you there, onii-chan!"
"How am I supposed to marry onii-chan if he's gone?" Ran whined into Makoto's shoulder.
Mrs. Tachibana dabbed at her eyes with a tissue, both proud and sad that her oldest son was leaving.
"Please be safe, Makoto," pleaded Mr. Tachibana.
"I'll be fine, Dad. Really. I'll call everyday to see how everyone is."
It was heartwarming how sweet Makoto and his family were.
"Good luck, Makoto-senpai," Rei said, bowing rigidly.
"Oh, Rei. You don't have to be so formal. We're friends," Makoto said over a particularly loud wail from Nagisa.
After prying both Nagisa and the twins off of him, Makoto hugged his parents, said his goodbyes to Rin, Gou and Nitori.
"I really wish you didn't have to go, Makoto," Rin said, holding on to Makoto's hand for a second longer.
"I wish I didn't either because I'm making you all like this."
Rin shook his head. "When are you going to think about yourself for once? You're leaving and you're worried about us?"
"Is that why you left for Australia with no fanfare at all?" Makoto asked playfully.
"Watch it, whale-boy..."
"I hope you come back to visit us!" Gou said, clinging to Makoto's arm.
"And swim with us again!" Nitori added.
"Don't worry. I will!"
With all of that done, the last person to say his goodbyes to was Haruka. Smiling sheepishly, he stood before his friend, hands clasped behind his back.
"Haru-chan," Makoto said. "I'll miss you."
Haruka bristled at the nickname, but shook his head. "I'll let you get away with it this time because you're leaving."
"Can I read your mind one last time?" asked the taller.
Haruka extended a hand as if to say "go ahead".
Makoto studied his friend's face. Although he showed his normal, indifferent cool exterior, something was pulling at his insides.
"You'll miss me too and you don't want me to go," Makoto replied.
Haruka turned away from Makoto's scrutinizing but calm gaze, choosing to stare at the floor.
"You have something to say to me."
Haruka looked up in shock, unable to divert from Makoto's kind, green stare.
"I was right. Well, go on."
Breaking his hardened exterior, Haruka threw his arms around Makoto's neck, sobbing quietly into his shirt.
"It's alright," Makoto whispered into his hair. "You don't have to tell me right now."
Haruka dug his fingers into the material, afraid that if he let go, Makoto would disappear into thin air where he stood.
A sharp, embarrassing inhale from Haruka sent Nagisa into another fit of waterworks.
"Shhh..." Makoto cooed, wrapping his long arms around Haruka. "It makes me sad to see you like this. I'm supposed to cry for you."
"It-it's my turn to cry for you, idiot," Haruka sobbed.
"How magnanimous of you," Makoto teased.
Haruka couldn't even get angry at him. He knew that Makoto's teasing was to keep himself from breaking down.
"I'll call you every day, Haru, so make sure you have your phone on you."
"Flight number 315 to Washington, DC is departing from Gate 551-B. All passengers are urged to have their tickets visible for checking."
Haruka finally let go with the announcement, Makoto holding him at arms length.
"That's my flight," he said sadly.
"Makoto, stay safe and warm," Mrs. Tachibana said, smoothing her son's shirt. "Make sure you get three meals a day and don't tire yourself. You're such a hard worker, dear, I know you tend to neglect yourself."
"I will, Mom," Makoto said, kissing his mother on the cheek.
They watched as Makoto left for his flight, some waving sadly, some waving happily.
Haruka watching through through tear clouded eyes.
Makoto relaxed into his seat, wiping away stray tears. He couldn't see his friends and family from the plane. He held it in pretty well, he thought. Put on a brave face in front of everyone, break down alone on the plane. Before he could really settle, he sat Haruka's present on his lap.
He did say open it on the plane, but Makoto wanted to wait a little longer. He picked at the package as the plane took off until he just couldn't bear it any longer.
An hour into the flight, Makoto quietly tore the wrapping off to reveal a green and black striped scarf and a note. He opened the note gingerly, smiling at the letter.
On the back of a pencil sketch of Makoto was a letter. It was smudged in places, probably from Haruka erasing, but still legible. Perhaps he didn't know the right words to say.
Maybe he'd been crying while writing it.
For those chilly nights in America. Good luck.
P.S. You better keep your word about calling me.
He seemed like he had more to say, but decided on this. Short, sweet and to the point. Typical Haru.
It's been two months since Makoto left for America.
In the time that passed, Haruka began attending the local college. It wasn't that far from his house and it had a pool. He spent most of his days either on campus, studying in the library, resting in his dorm with a roommate whose name he couldn't even remember, or floating idly in the pool.
He hated that Makoto wasn't there to open his door and coax him out of the bath to make sure he wasn't late for class. He hated that Makoto wasn't there to chide him for eating too much mackrel. Really, there was no such thing as "too much mackrel", but Haruka just wanted to hear Makoto's voice. He hated that Makoto wasn't there to swim with him. No one else at the school was as serious about swimming. He could do ten laps and still feel empty.
The water felt empty without Makoto.
When he wasn't doing any of that, he was waiting impatiently by the phone for Makoto's call. He had his schedule down. Makoto normally called in the morning in Japan because his classes ended at night in America. In addition to waiting for his calls, Haruka finally caved in and splurged on a laptop with a webcam, if not to do work without having to rely on the computers in the school, then to see Makoto's face on the weekends when both were free.
Today was one such Saturday. Haruka sat on his bed quietly, staring at the one thing he had open on his computer.
He stared at that greyed out name. Makoto Tachibana.
"Come on, Makoto. Sign on. I want to see you," Haruka thought.
Finally, the message he wanted to see popped up.
Makoto Tachibana has signed on.
Makoto Tachibana would like to start a video chat with you.
He clicked Accept as quickly as he could, exhaling when Makoto finally showed up.
"Haru? Can you see me?"
"I do. Can you see me?"
"Read you loud and clear!"
Haruka smiled a rare smile, just content to sit there and drink in Makoto's features.
"How have you been, Haru? Are you eating well?" asked Makoto, smiling that smile that Haruka missed so much. It hadn't diminished one bit.
"There he goes, mothering me again." Honestly, Haruka loved it.
"Yes, Makoto. I'm doing fine."
"You aren't just eating mackrel every day, are you?"
"No, mother. I'm not," Haruka replied, rolling his eyes. "I'm eating like a good boy."
"But you eat it sometimes, don't you?"
"It's freaky how he does that."
"How'd you know?"
"Mother's instinct," Makoto teased.
"I miss you," Haruka said after a long and awkward silence.
"Oh! That's rather unexpected!"
"I miss you too, Haru-chan."
"I said, lay off the -chan."
The door to Haruka's dorm opened and he snapped up to see his roommate and a friend.
"That's my roommate, Haruka."
"Isn't that a girl's name?" asked the friend.
Haruka scowled, Makoto laughing over the feed.
"Nice to meet you too," Haruka said between gritted teeth.
"Now, now, Haru. Be nice," Makoto said, drawing his friend's attention back to him.
"Speaking of roommates, when does yours get back in? He doesn't seem to like me much."
Makoto shrugged. "He went to a dorm party. Said he wouldn't be back until morning. He's a really nice guy, Haru, he's just hard to read."
"You didn't go with him?"
"I went to one at the beginning of the school year. It wasn't that much fun to me. Well, nothing's fun if I don't have you by my side."
"Who's he talking to?" whispered the friend.
"His boyfriend in America, I think. He talks to some other guys, but he talks to this guy every weekend and when he doesn't, the guy calls him every day."
Haruka's roommate folded his arms. "I can't hate the guy for who he loves. Besides, he looks so happy when he's talking to him."
"Haru, are you going home for the holidays?"
"Yeah. I miss my bed."
"I'm coming home too, so I want to see you, Nagisa, Rin and Rei," Makoto said.
"I can't wait," Haruka thought, smiling to himself.
"I want you to meet me at the airport on the 15th," Makoto said.
"My family doesn't know I'm coming home and I want to surprise them."
"Won't they know? It's you, Makoto."
"Alright, I'll see you there."
"Are you going to finally tell me what you wanted to say to me the day I left?"
Haruka frowned in confusion. "You didn't forget about that?"
"How could I? Haru, I always know when you need to say something. That day, you just couldn't. I want you to tell me everything."
How could Haruka tell him that? He'd only recently come to terms with that himself. He thought he was brave enough to tell Makoto at the airport, but with his family and friends standing there, he just couldn't. His tears were far more embarrassing, but as Makoto's best friend, Haruka's tears were only taken as someone who wasn't ready for his friend to leave.
This could possibly change everything.
Haruka sat near the gate Makoto told him to receive him at, impassively chewing on a cornet. He kept his eyes peeled on the board in front of him, just waiting for flight number 300 to land.
Finally, 300 lit up green, an involuntary smile spreading across Haruka's face.
"Flight number 300 is landing at Gate 106-A. Passengers can receive their luggage at Bay 115."
The announcement drove it home. Soon, Makoto, weary but excited, would be coming off the plane and...
Haruka didn't know what would happen next. They'd probably just act as they normally do. He stood up to get a better look as the people began filing into the airport. Soon, he found that familiar mop of light brown hair, not as weary as he thought he'd be.
"Makoto!" he called, hoping he'd turn to face him.
And he did, smiling the whole time.
He broke from the pack, rushing over to Haruka's location. He stopped awkwardly before his friend.
"You big idiot. Let's go pick up your luggage."
Haruka could feel people staring as he and Makoto stood a little too close as they waited for his luggage.
"Will you tell me now?" asked Makoto.
Haruka shook his head as Makoto bent over to grab his bag. "Not here."
"On the way to your house."
While walking, Makoto stopped inside a store. When he returned, he was smiling.
"What?" Haruka inquired.
Makoto held up an ice pop.
"It's too cold."
"I know," Makoto replied, breaking half and giving it to Haruka. "If you get too cold, I'll warm you up."
The two friends walked in silence, snow crunching beneath their shoes.
"Just like old times, hm, Haru?"
"If by old times, you mean barely a year ago, then, yes. Exactly like old times," Haruka said, finishing off his ice.
Makoto laughed. "Same old Haru. Nearly a year hasn't changed you." He disposed of the sticks and turned back to his friend. "So, what did you want to tell me?"
Haruka exhaled. Now or never.
"First, I wanted to say that it wasn't the same without you."
"First? You mean to say you have more to say?" Makoto asked. "In any case, it wasn't the same without you too, Haru. I miss swimming with you and the others. What else?"
"I-I don't know how to say this," Haruka hesitated. "I mean..."
He stopped near a rail to overlook the cold ocean. Makoto followed, concerned for his friend.
"Just let me say this, okay, Makoto?"
Makoto held his hands up in deference. "Don't let me stop you."
"I've been...thinking...like, a lot...about you...and...I've only just come to terms with this myself, but..."
Suddenly, Makoto pulled Haruka into his arms.
"Makoto, I wasn't finished."
"I love you too, Haru."
Haruka looked at his friend slowly, eyes wide with shock.
"That's what you were going to say, right, Haru? Otherwise, I just look silly confessing to you," Makoto said.
Haruka said nothing in his friend's stead. He simply let Makoto wrap those strong arms around him once more.
"I hate how you do that," he muttered into the other's coat.
Makoto shook his head. "No. You don't."
A puff of indignant laughter left the blue eyed boy.
"I don't," Haruka admitted, wrapping his arms around Makoto's back. "I don't hate it at all."
Boldly, Makoto planted a kiss against Haruka's cold cheek, the other shaking his head.
Haruka looked away, prompting Makoto to read his mind.
"Ah. You want a real kiss. Aren't we bold, Haru-chan?"
Haruka's head snapped up, glaring at the embarrassing pet nickname. "I said, lay off the -chan," he said.
"I'm sorry. Should I make it up to you?"
Another turn of the head. "With kisses," Haruka muttered. "Lots of them."
Makoto turned Haruka's chin gently to plant a kiss against those slightly chapped lips. He deepened the kiss when Haruka relaxed, winding his arms around his back. He pulled away, peppering kisses along his jawline.
"I'll give Haru as many kisses as he'd like."
"If you aren't busy," Makoto began as he lightly opened his front door quietly, "I want you to spend the holidays with us."
"Would it really be alright?" asked Haruka.
"Of course. Mom and Dad would never say no to you. Plus, I'm sure Ren and Ran would love to have Haru-nii-chan for Christmas."
They stepped inside, taking off their shoes and dropping their bags at the door. Makoto purposely let the door close a little too loud to get whoever was making noise in the living room - Makoto assumed it was Ren and Ran - to come and inspect.
"Daddy's home, Ran!"
The two children rounded the corner, surprised to see their big brother and Haru-nii-chan.
"Onii-chan's home!" they cried, running to cling to the two boys. "Mommy! Onii-chan came home! He brought Haru-nii-chan with him!"
Makoto happily hugged his siblings, leaning over to whisper in Haruka's ear before his mother came.
"It just wouldn't be the same without you."