Chapter 12 - Following the Found Pilotfish

Holiday shopping was no simple task, especially when fighting the burning desire to buy the recipient the entire world.

Nagisa had dragged Aiichirou out of his apartment horribly early the day after Christmas in a panic. Aiichirou was a bit dazed, half asleep, nearly forgetting to tug on his binder before leaving the house in his pajamas because he couldn't be bothered to dress nicely, not when it was so cold he was still so sleepy. Nagisa tugged Aiichirou by the sleeve down to the bus stop in front of his apartment complex, chattering on and on. Aiichirou only heard about half of it, vaguely aware that Nagisa had forgotten to get a present for the gift exchange ("For Rei-chan!" he giggled, cheeks rosey).

"What did Ai-chan get for Rin-Rin?" Nagisa asked, poking at Aiichirou's side.

Aiichirou yawned, leaning against Nagisa's side as they waited for the bus, snow piled up at their feet. Rin's present? Oh yeah he'd gotten…Aiichirou jolted awake, spine going straight and shoulders tense. He realized with sudden and absolute horror, he hadn't gotten Rin a present either. Nagisa's confusion melted into a smug grin.

"Ohh, so I'm not the only one." He laughed, hopping up from the bench when he noticed the bus rolling towards them in the distance. Aiichirou wobbled to his feet, following closely behind his friend.

"Do you know what you're going to get him?" Nagisa asked, dropping himself into a seat near the front. Aiichirou caught hold of a pole just as the bus started moving, twisting himself into the seat next to Nagisa. He hummed, fidgeting with his coat, shook his head.

"I don't have a lot of money…" Aiichirou sighed, looking at his snow covered shoes. His feet were already wet and freezing. Nagisa was quiet for a second, then pressed up against Aiichirou's side, a big smile on his face.

"They say the best presents are free." He said, his smile looking just a bit…dirty. Aiichirou coughed, flushing, pressing a hand to Nagisa's face and pushing him away.

"T-That's so lame though!" Aiichirou whined, hiding his face in his hands. "It just screams 'I forgot to buy you a present!" He said, shaking his head.

"Okay-Okay!" Nagisa laughed, squirming in his seat. "Okay so just get him something small in addition to yourself!" He said. Aiichirou swatted at Nagisa halfheartedly.

"Laaaaaame!" He whined.

Halfway down the mall, Aiichirou and Nagisa were still arguing about what he should get for Rin. Nagisa had suggested chocolate ("Rin doesn't like sweets!"), deodorant ("That's not very…romantic."), books ("Rin never lets me see what he's reading, so I don't really know what he'd like..."), and porn ("I'm not old enough!"). They wandered through the mall, still busy enough even the day after Christmas. Nagisa sighed dramatically.

"Ai-chan you're too picky!" He groaned. Aiichirou crossed his arms, looking off the side.

"It would be a waste of money to get something he wouldn't like!" He argued, eyes on the sparkling tinsel hung high from the ceiling of the mall in intricate patterns and snowflake decorations dangling over the store entrances. Nagisa pouted.

"Okay, well what does Rin like?" He asked, steering them to the left and into a small stationary store. He mumbled something about wanting to have a home-made card to go with his gift for Rei. Aiichirou oo'd and ah'd at the vast selection of paper and scrapbooking stickers, an entire wall covered in pens, pencils, and every other writing utensil you could imagine.

Aiichirou watched Nagisa as he browsed the stationary, thumbing through the various Christmas themed paper.

What did Rin like? Swimming. Aiichirou pouted, glaring at nothing in particular. He and Rin had gotten so close, and yet, Aiichirou felt like Rin was still so guarded. Which was a ridiculous notion. If anyone had things to guard it was Aiichirou, but he'd gotten in the habit of throwing everything he had right in Rin's face, desperate to spark some kind of communication between them when Rin lost his voice. Rin, by some unfortunate twist of fate, was the one would probably be the more troubled one in their relationship. Aiichirou had felt this thought scratching at the back of mind a few times, but it was only just now floating into his conscious mind.

Rin was guarded.

It wasn't something they had talked about, and he doubted Rin would mention it, hoped he wouldn't. For all his nervousness and self-doubt, Aiichirou had proved on several occasions he was the stronger of them. He gulped, noticing the harsh beat of his heart and cool nervousness in his stomach. Nagisa had moved onto the stickers, but Aiichirou stayed by the paper, trying to find his composure.

He didn't like it. Rin was faster. Rin was tougher. Rin was a man and no one could doubt it. Aiichirou had no right to even think he was the more dominant of them. Rin couldn't be controlled, Rin was fire and heat and wild and Aiichirou just did not have the right to handle him.

And yet he had.

Aiichirou smiled, small and sweet, to no one but himself. He hadn't made it out of the flames without a few burns, but wore the scars with pride. Rin had become skittish, afraid of hurting Aiichirou, and Aiichirou had become bolder, determined to convince Rin that he was not so weak, that Rin could be gentle. They had changed, grown, even in just the last few months. Aiichirou felt like he was finally growing into his skin, Rin was finally showing his weaknesses.

Which brought Aiichirou back to his current issue.

"Ai-chan?" Nagisa asked, waving a hand in front of his face. Aiichirou jumped back, startled. Nagisa grinned. "You looked so serious! Still can't think of what to get Rin?" He asked. Aiichirou followed him to the counter, sighing.

"Yeah." He said.

Nagisa paid for his paper and stickers, thanking the cashier with a cheery smile. He hummed, swaying from side to side as they left the store. "There's not anything he does besides swimming?" He asked. Aiichirou pursed his lips. Rin read, and watched a few cartoons on occasion…

"Oh!" He gasped, eyes lighting up. "The journal!" He said. "Rin asked what I write in my notebook and I told him it's a journal, and he said he keeps a journal too." Aiichirou slapped a hand over his mouth, looking around nervously. Nagisa was gasping for air, he was laughing so hard. "D-Don't tell anyone, I don't think he wants people to know…"

"Sure, sure, my lips are zipped!" Nagisa said, a few giggles trickling out of him here and there. His face changed, looking a bit thoughtful. "Well if you both keep a journal, why don't you get him a joint journal?" He asked.

We weaved through a few other mall goers, walking at a lazy pace. Our eyes glossed over the various stores, New Year's sales going on in every single one.

"Joint…journal?" Aiichirou repeated. Nagisa nodded, eyes bright.

"Like a journal you share with another person! Like, one of you writes an entry, then you give it to the other person and they write another." Nagisa's smile and bouncing calmed as he caught Aiichirou's gaze. "Considering you guys struggle with communication, it might be a good way to make sure you don't forget to talk about things, yeah?" He said. Aiichirou's lips formed an oh shape and he nodded his head.

"Nagisa-kun that's genius!" He said, fists curled and pressed to his chest. Nagisa smiled triumphantly, hands on his hips.

"Of course I am!" He laughed, his bravado crumbling. "Glad I could help-Oh!" Nagisa took a sharp turn, grabbing Aiichirou by the wrist and dragging them straight into…Victoria's Secret?

"N-Nagisa-kun?" Aiichirou sputtered as Nagisa dragged him through the abundantly pink store. Nagisa only let out a low 'hee' as he navigated, apparently knowing the store well. He stopped at one of the displays, rifling through the selection with a grumpy pout on his face. A cheerful woman approached, meeting them with a generic greeting. Nagisa lifted his head, smiling back.

"Can I help you find something?" She asked. Nagisa nodded.

"I'm looking to get my Rei-chan frilly panties!" He said. Aiichirou choked, his cheeks flushing. Panties? For Rei? Nagisa's shoulders slumped and he crossed his arms. "Ah, but Rei-chan is kind of manly! So I'm not sure what cut would work best." He said, rocking on his heels with a worried look. Aiichirou couldn't breathe.

The woman nodded, saying Nagisa was a kind boy to want to make his girlfriend feel pretty for Christmas. Nagisa and Aiichirou grinded their teeth together, holding back giggles. The woman led them to a section of what appeared to be sized for 'boxy' figures, pointing out the three she thought would be best.

"Let me know if you have any questions!" She said before leaving the boys.

Aiichirou couldn't help it, he burst out laughing. Nagisa was giggling too, a soft blush on his cheeks and a devious glint in his eyes.

"Oh! These are perfect!" He said, holding up a thin bikini cut bottom with both hands. It was simple, pastel purple, with a tasteful panel of black, butterfly themed lace down the middle. "Does it look big enough?" He asked, looking at Aiichirou (who was still trying to calm his laughing fit). Aiichirou coughed, willing his amusement to subside.

"I-I'm sorry what?" He asked, rubbing at his watery eyes, shaking his head. "Nagisa-kun I don't stare at Rei's junk, so I don't think I could tell you." He laughed. Nagisa sputtered, pressing a hand to his stomach.

"Okay, okay!" He laughed. "I'll get a size up, just in case." He said, trading the pair in his hands for the bigger size. "Not that Rei-chan will actually wear this but, hey, just in case." His grin was so wide Aiichirou was afraid his face might split. Nagisa was a cheerful person, but Aiichirou wasn't sure he'd seen Nagisa this giddy before. Was Nagisa nervous?

Nagisa had the panties wrapped at checkout and dropped the lovely, pink, box into the bag with his card supplies. Aiichirou had heard of people using Vitoria Secret boxes to scare people, but this was the first time he'd seen someone actually put underwear in one. On top of that, they were so expensive. Was Nagisa just rich? Aiichirou couldn't imagine throwing out so much money on a gag gift, but Nagisa would always do what he wanted, logic or no. Aiichirou still felt a bit suspicious.

"Just what kind of relationship do you and Rei-kun have?" He asked. Nagisa smiled wickedly.

"The kind where I buy him lacey panties." He said, clutching his purchases to his chest happily.

Despite Nagisa being the party's host, it was held at Rin's house. As it turned out, Rin was loaded, or at least, in comparison to Aiichirou.

His house was large for three people, and well decorated too. Well, Aiichirou thought it made sense, how else would Rin have been able to afford moving to Australia for all those years?

Rin's mother was nothing like Aiichirou had expected, in truth, he wasn't what he had been expecting. She greeted each and every guest with a bone crushing hug. Rin had made a sort of dying cat noise when she kissed Aiichirou on the forehead and proceeded to go on about how much she'd heard about him.

She was small, but built. Her short hair was a shocking unnatural red color, with a layer of her natural red peeking out from underneath. Her teeth, much like her son's, were pointed and a piercing through her tongue was visible only when the light made it sparkle. Aiichirou could see a lot of Gou in her charming smile and loving hospitality, but he could also see Rin's passion and wildness.

Nagisa rushed out after nearly everyone had showed up, a large tray with hot cookies in his hands. He dropped them on the coffee table in the middle of the room, wiping the sweat from his brow with a big sigh.

"The snicker doodles won't be done for another fifteen minutes, but here's the chocolate chip!" He announced happily. Taking a breath to settle down from his busy morning of baking, Nagisa met the eyes of everyone and shouted one big greeting.

Haruka-senpai and Makoto-senpai were standing close together near the couch. Rei and Aiichirou were on the opposite side of the table, Rin sitting in the armchair next to him and Gou sat on the floor in front of her brother. They all chattered idly, waiting for Nagisa to finish up in the kitchen. Aiichirou flopped down in front of the coffee table, stealing several cookies with childish enthusiasm. Rin snickered at him, but Aiichirou paid no mind as he happily stuffed a cookie in his mouth. Matsuoka-san wandered into the room, sitting on a stool next to her son. She smiled brightly.

"It's so good to meet you Aiichirou-kun!" She said, leaning forward on her elbows. Aiichirou nodded, unable to talk with his mouth full. She giggled. "I was starting to worry Rin would never bring you home!" She said. Rin flushed, a strangled sound coming from his throat.

"M-Mom!" He groaned. She just waved a hand dismissively.

"Oh hush, I just want to get to know him!" She said. Aiichirou swallowed his cookie, coughing a bit as Matsuoka-san began what felt like some kind interview.

She asked about his hobbies, personal interests, and career goals while Rin silently blushed himself into a fit. Finally he shot up from his chair, grabbing Aiichirou by the wrist, and tugged him down a hallway. Aiichirou didn't quite realized what was going on until Rin slammed a door shut behind them, sighing loudly.

"Sorry." He said, sounding exasperated, but Aiichirou was a bit distracted.

"I-Is this your room?" He asked, suddenly feeling horribly self-conscious. Rin smiled, revealing sharp teeth.

"Yeah, you like it?" He asked, looking smug but sounding hopeful. Aiichirou looked around.

There was a bed, and a desk, all the things you'd expect. It was a bit plain, a few Olympic posters on the walls. His bed had simple, red plaid sheets and matching pillows. It had a lovely atmosphere, despite Rin having not spent much time here since he started at Samezuke.

"Ai?" Rin asked, moving passed his boyfriend and falling onto his bed. Aiichirou blinked himself out of his daze and followed Rin, sitting politely next to him.

"Sorry." He laughed nervously. "Oh!" Aiichirou brightened, pulling his bag off his shoulder and into his lap. "Do you want your present?" He asked, eyes sparkling as he pulled the messily wrapped gift out of his bag. Rin blushed, trying to mask his excitement with a glare.

"You didn't have to get me anything." He muttered. They shared a look, one that said there was no point in trying to fool Aiichirou, and that he'd be happier if Rin would just let himself be excited. Rin sighed, allowing himself a small smile. "Yeah okay, I want it now." He said, holding his hand out. Aiichirou bounced a little as his passed the present, excited and nervous.

"I hope you like it." He said, watching carefully for Rin's reaction.

Rin dug his blunt nails into the wrapping paper, ripping it off with ease and revealing a hard cover book. He brushed the paper aside, turning the book this way and that. It was simple, brown with white stitching around the edges. Rin carefully cracked the book open in the middle, flipping through blank (beautifully designed) tan on beige lined pages until he came to the inside cover. A tastefully scripted box read "This Journal Belongs to:" and underneath, written in Aiichirou's best handwriting, was his and Rin's names.

Aiichirou was blushing so hard he could feel it. "I-It's a journal, for us to…share." He said, fidgeting with his sleeves. "We don't have to use it if you don't-"

Rin cut him off with a quick kiss on the lips. He smiled wide, showing off his teeth. "Can we start using it tonight?" He asked. Aiichirou, a bit confused, nodded. Rin looked a bit nervous, and spoke in a quiet voice. "C-Can I go first?" He asked, his eyes off to the side and face relaxed. Aiichirou finally caught up with the situation, smiling and nodding his head again.

"Of course!" He said. He felt like his heart was going to burst.

An awkward silence settled over them, Rin shuffling his bare feet on his carpet. He shifted, looked at Aiichirou, to the floor, back at Aiichirou.

"Do you want your present?" He asked. It was all Aiichirou could do not to squeal, nodding, and lost his breath when Rin reached under his bed and placed a gift bag on Aiichirou's lap. He smiled at Rin, teeth and glittering eyes, and took a breath, dipping his hand into the bag.

What he pulled out made him freeze. His smile disappeared, eyes wide and breath caught in his throat. "R-Rin you didn't." He choked out, Rin just smiled. Aiichirou's finger caressed over the squeaky plastic protective package, a brand new swimming binder folded inside. "These are expensive." He said, looking at Rin with desperation. Rin was smiling, shrugged.

"It's worth it." He said, leaning towards Aiichirou, meeting his wide blue eyes. "I miss swimming with you." He said. Aiichirou smile was so bright and cheeks so pink, Rin could feel his heart melting. "Just try not to wear this one out too quickly." He laughed. Aiichirou's heart burst to life, pounding with affection. His eyes felt watery, he sniffed. He took a deep breath, looked at Rin.

"Thank you so much." He whispered, disbelief and excitement and love all tangled up in his chest. Rin's smile pushed his cheeks into his eyes, threw his arms around Aiichirou, hugging him tight and nuzzling his head against his boyfriend's neck. "R-Rin?" Aiichirou gasped, hesitantly hugging him back. Rin chuckled, breath and voice tickling against Aiichirou's neck. It felt as if Rin was trying to say something, little puffs of air ghosting over Aiichirou's skin, making him giggle and shiver.

"I love you, Ai!" He whispered, excited but hushed, like a delicate secret between children. Aiichirou forgot how to breathe, his mouth hung open, fingers pressed to Rin's back. Rin squeezed him, then reluctantly let go, slowly separating from Aiichirou. He frowned, but couldn't hide his nervousness as he rubbed the back of his neck. Aiichirou let out a puff of laughter. He stole Rin's hand, holding it just tight enough.

"I love you, Rin!" He said, smiling with teeth and a nervous jump in his shoulders.

Aiichirou and Rin had received a number of pointed looks when they returned to the living room, and Matsuoka-san seemed rather chipper as she passed them on her way down the hall. Aiichirou and Rin exchanged grimaces, settling on the couch. Nagisa burst out the kitchen with the main meal of finger sandwiches and, thankfully for Haruka-senpai, some mackerel. Aiichirou couldn't help overhearing Makoto's hushed voice, making Haruka promise to eat a sandwich and not just mackerel. Haruka didn't reply, but Makoto seemed to interpret that as submission and let it go.

"Has everyone exchanged gifts?" Nagisa asked, looking around. Rei shook his head, beckoning Nagisa over to where he sat on the other side of the coffee table. Nagisa pranced over, curiosity sparkling in his eyes.

Rei's gift was unwrapped, placed in a crisp gift bag. Nagisa dropped to the floor, turned the bag upside down, and shook. Ten different boxes clattered to the floor, each and every one of them a different kind of candy in all kinds of flavors. Nagisa's eyes were positively sparkling, blushing and all smiles.

"I-I didn't know what your favorite was, so I decided to get a wide variety." Rei said, obviously a little nervous with Nagisa's blushing and bouncing.

"I love it! Thank you Rei-chan!" He said, throwing himself onto the boy, hugging him tight for a moment. "Now for you!" He grinned. Aiichirou tensed, Rin raised an eyebrow, and Nagisa shoved the Victoria's Secret box into Rei's hands. Everyone fell silent, watching with great anticipation. Rei sighed, adjusting his glasses. He sat on the floor, crossed his legs.

"Ha-Ha, Nagisa, I'm not falling for it. And to think I actually thought about your gift-" Rei's voice broke off as he pulled back the pink tissue paper, his face flushing. Everyone leaned in.

"So?" Gou whispered, a hand over her mouth.

"Did he really…?" Makoto was blushing.

"No way." Rin laughed.

Rei slammed the lid back on the box with so much force he dented it. Nagisa was cracking up, nearly falling over with his heavy laughter.

"D-Don't you like it Rei-chan?" He asked. "It has butterflies! You can't say I don't know you well!" He said, laughing through Rei's yelling that never got to a point as he tried to navigate around possibly offensive gender stereotyping. Aiichirou laughed too. Rei was trying too hard, but it was sweet.

As the yelling and laughter calmed, Makoto cleared his throat, sitting a little straighter. Everyone noticed, turning their eyes to Makoto. He smiled sheepishly, a light blush on his cheeks.

"Ah, if it's alright, Haruka and I have been wanting to tell you all something." He said. They all looked around. Nagisa, grin as wide and wicked as always.

"Can we bet on what it is cause-" Rei's hand clamped over Nagisa's mouth, muffling his betting proposals. Makoto thanked Rei quietly.

A moment of silence passed, Makoto and Haruka looked at each other. Aiichirou wasn't entirely sure, but Haruka seemed a bit uneasy. Nagisa settled, Rei's hand fell back to his lap. They all waited patiently. Makoto took a deep breath, slipping his hand into Haruka's and lacing their fingers.

"Haruka and I are dating." He said.

"I would have won!" Nagisa whined, falling dramatically into Rei's lap. Makoto sighed, but looked relieved. Haruka also seemed to relax, the tiniest upward quirk of his lips making a smile.

"It's about time." Rin said, nodding. Haruka avoided his gaze, blushing. Gou pressed her hands to her cheeks.

"I'm so happy for you!" She congratulated cheerfully. Haruka and Makoto smiled at each other. Nagisa sprung up from Rei's lap, curls swishing around his head.

"Why didn't you tell us sooner?" He asked, question earnest and caring. Haruka's eyes fell to his and Makoto's hands, his posture tense.

"We were both a little nervous about it…" Makoto said gently.

"But," Haruka picked it up, finding everyone's eyes. "Since Rin started dating Aiichirou, we realized it was silly to be nervous about telling you guys." He said, smiling softly. He squeezed Makoto's hand, looked at Aiichirou (who was blushing madly). He nodded. "You've been very brave. Thank you."

Aiichirou squeaked, everyone nodding their heads. He laughed nervously as Rin took his hand.

"He's right, Aiichirou-kun." Makoto said. "Of course, this was always a safe place for us, but you're the one who proved that first. That took a lot of courage and it means a lot to Haru and I." He said, smile gentle and bright. Aiichirou felt like he was being burned from the inside.

He hadn't been out by choice. None of this had been bravery. But, seeing Makoto and Haruka's relaxed smiles, Aiichirou felt humbled. Whether he was brave or not didn't matter, he'd given them the courage to come out, and that was the most beautiful thing Aiichirou had ever witnessed.

After a few questions about their relationship, Nagisa broke out his favorite deck of cards. It probably started with goldfish but ended in strip poker after Matsuoka-san went to bed. Nagisa kept telling Rei if he put on those panties he'd have one extra article of clothing to take off. Aiichirou had been a bit nervous to play, but everyone agreed no one would be forced to be naked. Gou was more enthusiastic about the game than Rin was comfortable with.

No one was surprised when Nagisa won.

The next morning, Haruka was the first one up with Aiichirou following closely after. He wandered into the kitchen, finding Haruka at Rin's coffee maker. He nodded at Aiichirou, silently acknowledging the boy's presence. Aiichirou fidgeted with the blanket around his shoulders.

"Good morning, Haruka-senpai." Aiichirou said, his voice trailing off. Haruka sighed out his nose, showing Aiichirou a smile.

"Good morning." He said. "Did you want any coffee?" He asked. Aiichirou bit his lip, considering.

"Yes please." He nodded.

Haruka pulled out another mug and leaned against the counter, waiting for the machine to finish warming up. He looked at Aiichirou.

"How are you and Rin?" He asked quietly. Aiichirou blushed, but smiled.

"Good. I think we're doing…very well." He said, a light laugh in his voice. Haruka nodded. "And…you and Makoto-senpai?" He asked. Haruka looked a little surprised, like he'd forgotten that they knew now, but didn't hesitate.

"Good." He said, eyes rolling to the coffee maker. It was heated, so he checked the grounds and filter. Aiichirou fidgeted more, a question on his tongue currently stuck between his teeth. Haruka turned back to Aiichirou, raising an eyebrow. "If you have something to say, just say it." He said. Aiichirou groaned.

"I-I just wondered if…"Aiichirou cringed. "It's kind of personal." He whispered. Haruka rolled his eyes.

"Spit it out." He said. Aiichirou squeaked.

"Have you and Makoto…had sex?" He nearly choked. Haurka's eyes widened, his impassive façade broken. Aiichirou started to apologize, but Haruka just shook his head.

"It's not like that." He said, looking to the side, out the kitchen window. Aiichirou was relieved he hadn't offended Haruka, but still felt confused.

"Not like…what?" He asked. Haruka sighed.

"Makoto and I are dating, but we don't have sex. We decided that a long time ago." He said, looking back to Aiichirou. Haruka could see the question in his eyes, and didn't hesitate to answer it. "I'm asexual." He said.

"Ohhh." Aiichirou whispered, nodding his head. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to assume." He said, bowing his head, but Haruka just shrugged.

"It's alright." He said. Haruka pulled out the now full coffee pot, filling both a mug for Aiichirou and himself. He passed a mug to Aiichirou, continuing to lean on the counter. Aiichirou hesitantly wandered over to the fridge, grabbing out some creamer chocolate syrup. Haruka seemed to like his coffee black and, wow, how cool is he? Like, he was cool before, but black coffee? Aiichirou tried to pay attention to mixing his own coffee.

"Is it…difficult?" Aiichirou asked. Haurka hummed softly.

"Sometimes. It gets annoying, with the assumptions." He said, quick to notice Aiichirou's guilty expression. "You're different, we can explain it to you. You want to listen." Haruka held his coffee in both hands, blowing at the steam. "Other people, not so much." He sighed, taking a sip. "Makoto's grey-sexual so not having sex isn't generally an issue. I've told him it's fine if he'd like to do it with someone else but," Haruka laughed out his nose. "He'd never take that offer."

Aiichirou was a bit stunned. He'd never heard Haruka talk so much, and about something so personal. Didn't he sound relaxed, comfortable even? Aiichirou couldn't believe it, but it sure seemed like Haruka really did trust him. Aiichirou put the creamer and syrup back, leaning against the same counter as Haruka.

"You two really love each other." Aiichirou said, a needless, but no less heartwarming observation.

"The same goes for you and Rin." Haruka said, sipping his coffee. Aiichirou flushed, nodding.

Haruka and Aiichirou sipped their coffee, unaware of a fairly similar conversation going on in the other room.

Nagisa and Rei were still asleep when Rin and Makoto woke, both sprawled over the floor. Rin sat up, yawning, stretching. Makoto rubbed at his eyes. They nodded, a silent good morning. Rin was quiet for a long time, still and unsure. Makoto eventually forced himself to sit up, though he probably wouldn't be totally awake for at least another hour.

"Hey, Makoto." Rin said. Makoto breathed in slow, turning his attention to his friend. "I'm really glad you finally told everyone." He said, looking over at Rei and Nagisa cuddled up on the couch. Makoto smiled lazily, yawning.

"I said it was both of us, but we know it was really Haru who was afraid to tell everyone." Makoto admitted.

"I figured." Rin said, flopping back onto the floor. Makoto swayed, hands searching for his glasses. "But you know, I've been wondering." He said, waiting for Makoto to slide on his glasses before continuing. "Haru and you…how do you deal with it?" He asked. Makoto's eyes were sleepy, but still widened with surprise.

"Deal with it?" He asked. Rin sighed.

"With Haru? With…him being different?" He asked. Makoto seemed to wake up a bit, his eyes just a little clearer. His looked down at his hands. "Don't you ever feel, like…guilty? Doesn't it scare you?" Rin's voice was a hesitant whisper.

"Sometimes." Makoto nodded. "But," He breathed, long and slow. "Haru feels so much more of that than I do. It's scary, wondering you're enough for them." Makoto smiled at Rin. "But they're feeling that times ten, and I trust Haru. I trust him enough to trust myself." He said. Rin frowned.

"I don't understand." He said. Makoto laughed, yawned, adjusted his glasses.

"To be honest, neither do I." He said. Rin sighed.

He supposed, it did make some sense.

Rin could put his faith in Aiichirou, to tell him if he was hurt, to remind him of his place, to work with him. And if he trusted Aiichirou that much, maybe he could trust himself, just a little, to not completely ruin this beautiful, precious, amazing thing.

The lost pilotfish had returned home, and thus, the shark began to follow his lead once more.

The End

Author's Notes:

Happy ending! Haha, wow I really can't believe I finished it. It's all thanks to you readers! I specifically want to thank lemoca and live-your-life-the-best-you-can for their awesome fanart for the fic! Anyone who reviewed or commented or kudo'd (on Ao3), thank you so so much! This probably won't be my only trans fic, IN FACT I have another free! trans fic coming up next. It'll only be a oneshot, but I think it'll be pretty good. So keep an eye out for that!

OH and there was one comment I wanted to address publicly, if you want to write a trans!Nitori fic, please do! There are so many ways this story could have gone, so many possibilities! So if you'd like to write something different than I did, do it! As a side note, I planned for there to be more porn (really any at all) but it didn't happen. I doubt I will ever write any, so if anyone out there wants to write some fricky fracky for this fic, you should do it. Just saying.

Thank you all for reading! I encourage you to send me a message on tumblr if you have a question or, heck, if you just want to chat! I hope you all enjoyed the fic as much as I enjoyed writing it and, ah geez there's no professional way to end this just, THANK YOU!