Not If But When


Makoto knows better than anyone else that Haruka isn't the most expressive person out there. It took him years to master the art of reading his best friend's blank canvas of a face and sometimes, Makoto still gets doubts that he may be taking too much liberty in deciphering the enigma that is Haruka. Still, he is patient and understanding and he always appreciates - no, it's more than that - Makoto encourages Haruka's efforts in reaching out; not because he's getting tired of translating for everyone else but because Haruka's self-expression is a treasure to behold.

Resting in his hands right now is proof of that: four goldfishes swimming merrily in a sizable plastic bag filled with water. Makoto has been spending the quiet walk home from the festival grounds pitching goldfish names for Haruka to approve. "How about Junior?"

A chuckle that could've been a snort comes from Haruka. "They can't all be Junior," he says, eyeing Makoto in a way that gets the brunet's smile turning goofy.

"Then how about Goldfish The First?" Makoto suggests as they take the street off the main road towards home. "The rest can be The Second and so forth."

Please tell me you're kidding, says the arch of Haruka's brows.

Makoto tries to maintain an honest smile but it dissolves into giggles under Haruka relentless staring.


Makoto's laughter subsides. "Maruka?" he repeats, pausing in his tracks. The first torii arches over the both of them, funneling the crisp air so that the fringes of their hair gently whip about their faces.

Haruka nods, back turned to the stairs, moonlight brightening his soft smile. "And Reigisa and Nagirei and -" He takes a step closer with every name he gives.

"Haruko," Makoto finishes, looking down at the foursome swimming circles in his hands. Another pair of hands covers his own, lifting the plastic bag and Makoto's gaze. He stares at Haruka, the touch of their hands igniting fireworks grander than the squid festival's display inside his chest.

"I was going to say Tachibananase." Haruka's lips quirk up in a jesting grin and there's something magnetic about it.

"That name's way too long for a goldfish," Makoto says, cool palm sliding away from the bag so he could transfer the weight of it to Haruka's hand and then support them both from underneath. Between their cupped palms, the fishes are dancing in swirls of orange and black and white.

Haruka indulges him with a lax smile, looking down briefly at the new pets that would be making their home in the goldfish bowl that has remained empty for years. "Then Haruko, it is." He refocuses on Makoto's face, not feeling any need to iterate that the brunet take good care of them because he knows that Makoto will do just that. Haruka pursues something else, instead, covering Makoto's hand more securely and feeling the press of the plastic bag against his chest with their minimal distance. "You're hesitating," he observes. "Don't."

"I'm not," Makoto assures him. "Just… waiting for the right moment."

"You've been looking at me differently since the relay," Haruka mutters, cheeks tinged pink. "And when we were at the overlook earlier…"

"I know. I was going to, honestly, but then Nagisa and Rei came up."

"It shouldn't have mattered that they were there."

"They're not here now."

Haruka's eyes flutter shut at the touch of Makoto's lips to his forehead. He tilts his face up in time to catch the descent of Makoto's mouth with his own.


It's only when he's pulling away and faced with a deeply blushing Makoto does Haruka realize what just happened. Haruka desperately wants to say something - an explanation is sorely needed right now - but he can only stare, lips still tingling, his own blush rising to his cheeks. The sight of it only makes Makoto's face burn up some more.

"Ha-Haru..." Makoto's voice has hit the awkward tune-up granted by puberty, the shock he's trying to express is warbled by the uneven pitch. He gulps, purses his surprisingly sensitive lips, ultimately unable to look away from his best friend.

Haruka can tell something big is coming with the way Makoto is puffing up his cheeks - it's a habit he picked up in class when he's about to read aloud or deliver an important address. They're still leaning into each other, Makoto's slouch making him just a tad bit smaller but Haruka is sure that at his rate, Makoto is going to surpass him in height some day.

"I… You… Do you mean…"

He knows what Makoto is asking. The memory is clear to him - as is everything that involves Makoto. It was at the park when they were little, they saw a couple sitting underneath a cherry blossom tree, lips touching and then parting with the sun shining in their eyes. Mrs. Tachibana laughed fondly at their innocent question, telling the boys that a kiss is something you share with someone special when you want to make them happy. Makoto looked at Haruka then, patenting that smile that has since warmed Haruka like nothing else.

"I do," is the short and simple answer.

"I've never seen two boys kissing before," Makoto tells him, wide-eyed.

That's not what Haruka wants to know, though. "Was it bad?"

Makoto shakes his head fervently. "It was nice but… as I've said, two boys..."

"Maybe they just don't show it off," Haruka suggests.

"But... something special like that..." Makoto worries his bottom lip. "Shouldn't people be showing it off?"

Haruka shrugs, a little irritated now at their delineated conversation. "Sometimes special things need to be kept just between the people involved."

The uncertainty in Makoto's eyes suddenly clear away. "Just like mom's precious jewelry," he exclaims, explaining further when Haruka's face scrunched up (very cutely, he should add). "It's a set of earrings and a necklace. Dad bought it for her when he proposed. She only brings them out for very special occasions."

"So, this is just like that, then," Haruka concludes. "A special thing for just you and me."

"Kisses, you mean." And Makoto's subsiding blush returns full force.

Haruka's serious stare wavers in the strength of his body's unbidden response to what's starting to look like reciprocation from Makoto. "I want to make Makoto happy."

There's that smile. The smile that for a split second Haruka thought he'd lost forever. His lips are sliding into a rare smile of his own when Makoto promptly presses their mouths together.

Makoto pulls away before Haruka can react, bright eyes crinkling in delight. "Then I'll do my best to keep Haru happy as well."


Makoto has always looked up to Haruka. Haruka is brave and kind and loyal, he stood up for Makoto when no one else would; when the bullies did their worst, Haruka pushed them back and far away. It may have stemmed from admiration but as their friendship developed, Makoto keeps finding more and more reasons for him to stay beside Haruka... for as long as the other boy would let him, anyway.

Listed high on top of that list is the night of Grandma Nanase's burial. The brutally cold and empty air still lingers somewhere deep inside his bones. He remembers the stoic set of Mr. Nanase's broad shoulders, the way Mrs. Nanase strained to stay polite when her once-bright eyes only reminds him of shattered glass. Most of all, he remembers Haruka's brave facade, final piece held securely in place with the fragrant wafts of incense and somber atmosphere.

The service ends yet Makoto refuses to let go of Haruka's hand. It doesn't take much to convince his parents to let him stay over at the Nanase's. This time it's his turn to look after Haruka.

They finish their nightly routines and turn in to sleep, the spacious capacity of Haruka's bed ignored in favor of huddling close together. Makoto is used to Haruka's silence by now. He brushes dark bangs away from Haruka's face and presses a goodnight kiss to the cool skin of his cheek - just the way his Mom does to cheer him up when he's feeling sad.

Haruka grips the front of Makoto's borrowed shirt, muffling sobs and tears against his small fists, body curled tight. Makoto takes all of it without a word, hugging the trembling boy close and rubbing his back when the hiccups start. Haruka's silent bout of despair dwindles down to the occasional sniffles and Makoto deems it appropriate to finally speak.

"Haruka," Makoto whispers in the dark, shifting slightly so that he can face his best friend properly. Watery blue eyes stare back at him over rounded cheeks made wet by rivers of tears. He dries them away with his thumb, gentle and loving, pressing a kiss over fanned out lashes to finish the job. "It's going to be okay..."

When Haruka opens his eyes again it's daytime. The house is quiet and sunshine is draped all over his back. A heartbeat echoes against his ear, steady and soothing. He snuggles closer to Makoto's side and the arm around his shoulders adjusts with him. Haruka believes that he'll be just fine.


Makoto is startled to find the twins grinning at him. He slides the door closed and greets them with the customary, "I'm home". Their smiles merely get a tad mischievous.

"Big brother went on a date~" Ran begins teasing.

His brain goes on full red alert but he tries to hide behind his trusty calm smile. "I-It's nothing like that… Haru and I were just -"

"That's why you two won't play with us anymore, isn't it?" Ren mock-frowns at him. "Because you'd rather go on dates together."

"Why didn't you walk Haru home?" Ran asks, tsk-ing at him with her pointing finger. "Don't you know that's the polite thing to do? You have to treat a lady properly."

"But Haru isn't a lady, Ran," Makoto corrects her, wondering how he could possibly change topics without seeming rude.

"Well, he's Haruka!" Ren insists as though that trumps everything (which, Makoto has to admit that it does).

"What are you kids doing over there?" Mrs. Tachibana peeks from the living room. "Ran and Ren, let your big brother in."

"Mom! Mom! Mom! Makoto went on a date!"

"And - And he was smooching Haruka on the front porch!"

"Ren! Ran!" Makoto blushes furiously, helpless against the twins' teasing onslaught. He meets his mother's tickled expression, "They're exaggerating. Haru and I weren't... It was just a quick..." Squirming, Makoto gives in to his last resort. "I brought back some ice cream."

"Ooh, what flavor?" With the twins' attentions completely sidetracked, Makoto finally crosses the threshold. His mother and the twins gather bowls and spoons from the kitchen, the whole family converges in the living room where the TV is showing some foreign period drama.

Makoto settles into the couch where everyone is comfortably squished together, partaking in the cold, strawberry-flavored treat.

Ran scoots over until she's sitting on his lap, smiling innocently with pink cream smudged around her mouth.

"Ran," Makoto warns, getting tissues from the side table to clean her up.

She bats her lashes at him, still playing innocent.

"Hey, Dad, Makoto went on a date today!" Ren pipes up from the other end of the couch.

Makoto flinches, he would've made a grab for Ren but Ran's weight prevented him from moving. So that's their plan, Makoto realizes too late.

"With Haruka?" his dad tears his attention away from the television, looking at Makoto from over the rim of his glasses.

With his whole family's attention on him, Makoto could only nod, crumpling up the used tissue.

"Well?" his mother prompts. "How did it go?"

Taking a spoonful of ice cream to delay his response, Makoto vainly fights off the blush that he feels creeping up his neck. "Well, we went to the Aquarium..."

Ran gasps, "But I wanted to go there!"

"Me too!" Ren butts in. "Why didn't you take us with you?"

"That is so unfair, Makoto."

"Now, now," Mrs. Tachibana appeases. "It wouldn't be a date if you two tagged along..."

Nodding in agreement with his wife, the man of the house continues his questioning, "Did you treat Haruka to a nice lunch?"

"Dinner," Makoto corrects, albeit sheepishly. "Lunch was on Haruka, he wanted to try out the Eskimo diner on the top floor."

Another gasp. "But I wanted to try the Eskimo food!" Ran pouts at Makoto, whose only reply is to grin wearily.

"Ran, shush," their mother scolds gently. "We can go there on your birthday."

"Hey, it's my birthday, too!" Ren scrunches his nose at her. "And I want to go camping!"

"But we always go camping," Ran complains.

"You can invite Haruka to join us on our next camping trip," Mr. Tachibana suggests, adjusting his glasses.

The mention of Haruka instantly gets the twins in agreement.

"Ooh, yes! Invite Haruka!"

"Yeah, I wanna go camping with Haruka!"

"I'm sure he'd like that," Makoto smiles, forever grateful for having such a wonderful family. Some day, he wants to build one for his own… with Haruka, of course.


Haruka emerges, lungs sharply taking in the crisp air. He shakes his head, freeing water from his hair. He looks up and - of course. He should've known.

"Swimming at this hour," Makoto tsks at him, crouched down on his calves. "You'll get sick and then what'll you do tomorrow?"

He walk-floats over to Makoto. "If I get sick, I'll just skip the ceremony."

"Haru." Makoto's exasperation is magnified by the velvet night. Rippled moonlight reflects upon him, the fondness in his eyes detracting from his attempt to look stern. "Your parents are coming in tomorrow, shouldn't you be sleeping early so you can pick them up at the terminal?"

"They told me not to bother," Haruka shrugs as he reaches the edge of the pool. Looking up at Makoto, he extends a smile and an invitation. Swim with me.

Makoto rocks back on his heels, dipping the hand he has customarily put forward to lift Haruka out into the pool. "It's cold."

Not 'I don't have my swimsuit', not 'it's getting late'; just the water is cold. Haruka slides his palm into Makoto's waiting hand, letting the taller teen pull him out until he's dripping wet on the concrete. Makoto has a light jacket over a t-shirt Haruka remembers buying for him years ago. Walking forward until they're nearly chest to chest, Haruka tugs on Makoto's hand, pulling the brunet down so that their faces are tilted towards each other. "I'm sure we can find some way to heat things up..."

Breathing in sharply, Makoto recognizes the dark energy swirling together with the bright blue of Haruka's eyes. "Now isn't the time to be naughty..." His reprimand, however, is weak. The eager reciprocation he gives to Haruka's kiss proves itself to be the true answer.

Haruka unzips the jacket, sliding his hands under Makoto's shirt, smirking at the jolt that gets Makoto groaning against his lips. Makoto shivers under his touch, whimpering in a way that has Haruka's jammers feeling too tight. He hitches up the well-worn top, cold hands exploring the sculpted chest until Makoto's breaths turn needy.

Makoto tries not to think much about the details as he undresses and piles his clothes beside Haruka's gym bag a good distance away from the pool. The night wraps its cool embrace around his bare form. He turns back to find Haruka standing on the nearest starting block, stark naked in the moonlight; his jammers presumably folded somewhere nearby. Haruka sends him a smirk, the sweep of his eyes calling him over, and then he dives. Makoto's heart rate picks up. Skinny dipping is somewhat a foreign concept to him, not to mention that his mind is constantly reminding him that they restored this pool with their very hands; just the thought of defiling it...

Surfacing, Haruka watches Makoto perch on the same starting block, gaze briefly flicking over at him before he makes a splashing entry into the pool. Makoto goes up for air right beside him, broad body glinting with starlight drops and shivering. He rakes back the sopping wet bangs, kissing the trembling lips and warming them with his touch.

He holds Haruka close with a hand cupping his nape, delaying their parting with little pecks. Makoto finally pulls away to rub at his arms, staving off the cold. "Our last day and this is when we decide to do something stupid," he huffs.

"It's not stupid," Haruka mutters, taking Makoto's hands and coaxing him into deeper waters. "What's stupid is staying stationary like that. Come."

Makoto follows Haruka's lead, together they take the plunge. Even though the moonbeams are muted underwater, Makoto finds that he isn't afraid. Haruka swims around him, all lithe limbs and grace, slivers of light making patterns on his skin; Makoto traces them with his eyes before going after the teen himself. His body temperature adjusts to the liquid environment, he feels weightless in the navy abyss, mind blissfully empty. Haruka casts a shadow upon him, silhouetted against the star-strewn sky, floating freely. Makoto is ever enthralled by the serenity that Haruka embodies when he's in the water but at the same time, he feels a bout of possessiveness splash through his veins: the water doesn't own Haruka, not entirely.

Haruka breaks for air, thin rivers cascading down his face as he's reacquainted with the song of the cicadas. He feels the ripples preluding Makoto's reemergence just behind him, automatically leaning into the brunet's embrace. Makoto plants a kiss to his temple, Haruka hums, content.

"Remember last spring when the pool was filled with cherry blossoms?" Makoto murmurs, delighting in the way Haruka entwines their fingers and wraps them around his middle. "And that time when we had to teach Rei how to swim?" He inhales, feeling the same motion from Haruka. The pool smoothes out around them, becoming a glassy reflection of the pacific evening. "It feels like it was just yesterday and now..."

"Don't talk like you're never coming back."

"I'm not leaving for two more weeks..."

Haruka pulls Makoto's arms tighter around him, chin to his chest. "I'm missing you already."

For a frozen moment Makoto gets the urge to start crying. It passes but his heart would never beat the same way. "Then don't skip our graduation ceremony tomorrow," he whispers, lips brushing over the shell of Haruka's ear.
Haruka bites down on a whimper, squeezing Makoto's hands before letting go. Silently, he turns and drapes his arms over broad shoulders. The circle of Makoto's embrace is secured around his waist and Haruka reciprocates by finding the perfect fit for their mouths.

The atmosphere is ripe with emotion, Makoto can taste the seasoned sweetness in Haruka's kiss; he grants the teen full access when a tongue traces the seam of his lips. It's easy to fall back to familiar patterns, he intimately knows how Haruka likes to be kissed, what it means when the fingers carding through his hair grip him tight, and what to do when Haruka calls his name in that baritone voice. Makoto gropes at Haruka's ass, hips jerking forward, generating friction to coax their half-hard penises into full erections.

Haruka utters a wet moan into the night, laying his weight on Makoto's shoulder as they move so that Haruka is pressed up against one wall. He throws his head back and Makoto peppers his neck with small bites and kisses. Pushing back against the hands on his ass, Haruka hooks his legs around Makoto's waist, bringing them closer and giving easier access to the fingers skirting around his hole.

Makoto mouths at the slick skin, tasting diluted chlorine, feeling the tremors of Haruka's gasps under his tongue. He ruts his engorged member against Haruka's, making waves in the otherwise stagnant pool.

He draws Makoto's face towards him, meeting a carnal gaze that gets his body thrumming with anticipation. Makoto kisses him deep, a question passing with his exhale to Haruka's mouth. Of course we're seriously doing this. He reaches down between them, grabbing Makoto by the dick and jerking him off.

A tinge of red is just visible under the mesh of light and shadow on his face. Makoto initiates another kiss as his fingers breach Haruka two at once, scissoring and searching for the spot that unlocks Haruka's inhibitions. He never could deny Haruka, not even on such a dubious deed; what does it say about him as a swimmer that he has never thought about having sex in a pool before?


The noonday brightness makes Haruka want to jump into the pool, it's not exactly hot due to the breezy interludes every now and then but still. He looks up at the cloudless sky, imagining it to be a body of water in itself with all it's tones of blue. A listless sigh.

Makoto presses his shoulder against Haruka's, the hand supporting his weight behind him is close enough to curl around Haruka's back if he wants to but it stays stationary. He takes one look at Haruka's bored expression and smiles, inclining his head the other way, wordlessly offering his shoulder as a pillow.

Haruka gives it some thought. He is feeling a little drowsy but sleeping upright doesn't look comfortable. Haruka declines with a small shake of his head, stretching out his body on the grass and rolling over so as to block the noises of the ongoing conversation within his circle of friends.

"Mako-chan's birthday is coming up," Nagisa declares, an announcement that is no surprise to anyone.

"Are you planning anything special?" Rei inquires.

Makoto gives a little laugh. "Just the usual."

"Then…" Nagisa hums aloud, thinking. "Haru-chan, are you planning anything special for Mako-chan's birthday?"

Haruka gives a one-armed shrug, eyes closed and undisturbed. Special… That word again. Makoto's birthday plans have remained unchanged in the past dozen years they've known each other: the Tachibanas go out early to pray at the shrine, they have lunch at a restaurant of Makoto's choosing, then Makoto drops by Haruka's house on the way back, bringing a slice of cake, sometimes the twins come with him.

"Now, Nagisa…" Makoto is using that tone, the one that's genial but just a touch reproving.


"It's not a good habit to keep inserting yourself into other people's businesses."

"Rei-chan, you're supposed to be on my side!"

"We totally have to one-up your birthday celebration last year," Gou points out. She's sitting with the boys today because Chigusa is bedridden with a nasty case of the cold.

"T-That's not really necessary..."

"Of course it's necessary, Makoto-senpai!" Gou says decisively. "You'll be going off to University and who knows if we'll be able to get together properly next year!"

"That's right!" Nagisa nods agreeably.

"Um, okay?" Makoto doesn't want to dissuade them now that they're all fired up about it. At the very least, he wouldn't have a repeat of last year where he worried himself sick at everyone else's absence at school only to discover they'd hatched up a surprise party for him at Haruka's house. "So where should we go… exactly?"

Gou claps her hands together. "To the Samezuka Academy's Cultural Festival of course!"


As far as cultural festivals go, Haruka can say that this completely exceeds any expectations. Cheerful streamers wave at them invitingly, proclaiming the highlights of the weekend celebration. Gou takes pride in touring them around but it's obvious where she really wants to take the team.

"Welcome to the Samezuka Swim Club's Maid Cafe!" Seijuuro greets them heartily. Rin quickly comes up behind him, looking far from pleased.

"So this is why you came back," Rin spits out accusingly. "And you." He turns to the Iwatobi students lingering by the prop picket fences surrounding the outdoor cafe. Immediately, Rin gets harshly reminded by their staring that he is, in fact, dressed like a French maid.

"Rin-chan, you look so-"

"Don't you dare finish that sentence, Nagisa!" Rin exposes shark-like teeth, a vein twitching in his temple as he spots Rei's lame excuse of covering his laughter. "What the hell are you all doing here?"

"That's not the way you treat your customers," Seijuuro frowns, a feat that Rin completely ignores.

"We're celebrating Makoto's birthday," Haruka answers, the amusement in his eyes betraying his straight-laced tone.

Rin growls at him before turning to Makoto to glare some more like it's his fault for being born during the date of the cultural festival. His visual path, however, gets blocked by his little sister's innocent face.

"It was my idea," Gou admits with an unapologetic smile. "It's Makoto-senpai's birthday tomorrow so I thought it'd be nice to give him a treat~"

Makoto scratches at his cheek. "To be honest this wasn't the kind of treat I was expecting…" He looks Rin up and down, sympathetic.

The pity in that gaze only makes Rin bristle. "You know what?"

"That means you get a special discount!" Seijuurou proclaims, clapping a hand on Rin's shoulder. "Matsuoka, give our friends here the best that Samezuka has to offer. Nitori, you too! "

"Yes, captain - I mean, sir, um." Aiichiro picks up a handful of menus, kitten heels clacking as he makes his way. He curtsies at their customers. "Good morning, we have a table for five over there if you'd follow me..."

"That's the spirit, Nitori," Seijuuro approves. "But a table for four will be good."

"Sei-kun and I will be checking out the other stalls," Gou explains, stepping away from her schoolmates. "You guys enjoy yourselves...!"

Seijuuro waves at a guy dressed like a host with a fish-patterned bow-tie. "Junichi! I'll be heading off!"

"'Kay! Thanks for dropping by!" The new Samezuka swim captain takes the spot Seijuuro vacated when he and Gou joined the rest of the festival crowd. "Matsuoka you stay put," he warns, glancing at Rin briefly as he checked his clipboard. "Your shift's not over yet."

"Wow, they really left us," Nagisa whispers to Rei who inclines his head in agreement.

"And she called Mikoshiba-san 'Sei-kun'."

"I'm going to castrate that guy," Rin swears, which gets Junichi clearing his throat loudly.

Sensing that Rin is in danger of getting into trouble, Aiichiro quickly cuts in. "Shall we proceed? Table for four right this way."

"Actually, Nitori, I have a better idea." Rin turns to give a disarming smile to their wonderful guests.


Makoto peers over the top of his menu at Rin. The plum-haired swimmer is wearing a rather frightful expression; the frilly laces on his outfit does nothing to curb it.

"Just make your order already, geez!" Rin grouses, holding a pen and notepad in his hands without any sense of poise.

Haruka's expression remains aloof, merely waiting for Makoto to decide before pitching his own order. Rin is probably thinking that he's getting his revenge on them with this set up - a table for two with a heart-patterned tablecloth, the teacup centerpiece filled with rose petals and a small placard declaring Sweet Love in red ink and a fancy script - but honestly? The joke is on him. Nagisa and Rei are on another table for two, one that's covered in light blue and pink polkadots with a similarly patterned teacup containing a floating candle.

"Um, I'll go with the chocolate milkshake." Makoto lowers the menu from his face, smiling at Haruka across the table while Rin notes it down. "Haru?"

"Just water." Haruka holds his menu up to Rin, deliberately holding the costumed teen's gaze.

Rin's left eye twitches.

Makoto covers a giggle behind his fist, but the look in his eyes soften in reprove and Haruka revises his order accordingly.

"I'll have a caffe latte, then."

Swiping the menu boards into his hands, Rin makes to storm off with their orders but Makoto pulls him back with, "But we didn't order cake yet…"

"Don't bother, birthday boy," Rin replies curtly. "We have a complimentary slice since it's a special occasion and whatever."

"Oh, okay." Makoto grins. "But what about Haru-?"

"Shut up."

"Matsuoka!" Junichi's voice rings out and Rin mechanically turns back to his so-called friends.

"So what do you want?" he hisses through a forced smile, the shadows on his face emphasizing the underlying threat.

Haruka raises a brow at Makoto who looks away, consumed in another gigglefit. Looking up at Rin, Haruka smirks. "I want to know where your dignity went."


"Senpai!" No one knows where Aiichiro came from, only that he is currently dragging Rin away from the staring patrons and into the kitchen.

The commotion dies down easily enough and the rest of the cafe customers go back to minding their own business.

"I can't believe you said that to his face," Makoto chuckles.

Shrugging, Haruka looks off at the other couples. "He started it. Setting us up like this." When Makoto remains silent, Haruka peers at him from the corner of his eyes. "Not that it's embarrassing or anything… Just that..."

Makoto nods in understanding. "Seeing all these other couples…"

Most of the patrons are school girls, some of them in groups, others with their boyfriends. There are a lot of handholding and feeding each other off their plate gimmicks going on, occasionally there's a peck on the cheek. The only other pair of boys sitting together is Rei and Nagisa, the latter wearing a maid's lacy headband he'd somehow managed to borrow (much to Rei's embarrassment). The atmosphere is certainly romantic.

Haruka is caught staring by Makoto, his cheeks coloring pink like the hearts on their table. "I suppose we can try…"

"Orders up," Rin announces upon his return, setting down their drinks along with a hefty slice of angel food cake topped with strawberries and cream. "Enjoy~" He finishes with a flourish.

Makoto, for one, is glad that Rin's murderous look from earlier has dissipated. "Thanks, Rin, but… there's only one fork."

"I know." Grinning, Rin plants a hand on his hip, still clutching the circular tray. Feeling the intensity of Haruka's stare, Rin's lips curl into a nasty smirk. "It's the couple special, what do you want me to do?"

Haruka blows him off with a huff. "Well, since our order is complete, you should leave us in peace so we can eat."

"Don't mind if I do," Rin says in a poisoned pleasant tone, bowing away, skirt ruffling as he moves.

Haruka takes a sip of his caffe latte, finding it passable though a tad bit too hot. Setting the cup back down, he finds that Makoto is longingly staring at the strawberry cake toppings, seemingly hesitant to start eating. He could easily call on another server to get them a fork, so why isn't he doing that? Unless…

Makoto blinks at the portion of cake lifted to his lips. Holding the fork is Haruka, a tentative look in his eyes, a rosy color on his cheeks. He takes the first bite, careful not to let his lips touch the utensil too much as Haruka retracts it after depositing the treat into his mouth.

"Is it good?" Haruka customarily asks.

"It's sweet," Makoto declares. "I should, um, huh…" He raises a hand to hail a passing swimmer in maid's clothes but Haruka stops him with the simple gesture of eating from the same fork.

This wouldn't be the first time they fed each other, it wouldn't be the first time they shared a table for two. Haruka cuts another slice, leaning forward to give it to Makoto but the brunet puts his hands up.

"I don't want to trouble you," Makoto smiles kindly, gently setting his hand over Haruka's to steer the cake back.

"But I want to," Haruka pouts, it's a very slight puff of the cheeks but Makoto notices everything and the glint of bright blue in Haruka's eyes gets his hand pulling away.

After swallowing the soft chiffon drizzled with strawberry syrup, Makoto proceeds with calling on a server. When Haruka looks imploringly at him, Makoto smiles, "I want to do the same."

Aiichiro brings around a fork and Makoto thanks him. Using his new silverware, Makoto makes a clean cut of the cake, sweet strawberry fruit included. He carefully balances the dessert, delivering it to Haruka who takes it without complaint.

"Come with us to the shrine tomorrow," Makoto invites as they proceed with the consumption of their orders. "The twins want to go to the playpark afterwards but Mom and Dad will be there to watch over them so I'm thinking-"

"Okay." Haruka blows on his drink before imbibing. "But don't spoil me too much. It's your special day after all."

Stirring his milkshake with a straw, Makoto peers at Haruka through his bangs. "Every day with Haruka is a special day."

There's a loud clang of crashing dinnerware and all eyes turn to the spectacle of a maid sprawled on the faux grass. Rin is surrounded by empty cups and smeared saucers, face completely red but for a whole different reason than having tripped and possibly broken fine china.

Haruka rolls his eyes, meanwhile Makoto hurries out of his seat to help Rin up.

"Are you okay?" Makoto piles up plates with one hand while the other is extended to Rin.

"I-I'm fine," Rin tries to sound confident but with his gaze moving back and forth from Haruka and Makoto, he very nearly falls over again if not for Makoto's strong grip. "Thanks for, umm, yeah…"

"You should really look where you're going," Haruka adds, picking up the stray cup that fell near his feet.

"Rin-chan are you hurt?" Nagisa goes over, not even noticing the sugar left on his cheeks in his worry.

Rin steadies himself on two feet. "No need to worry. Please get back your table."

"Are you sure?" Rei inquires, "Because if we're putting you off your work-"

"No, seriously, guys, I can handle this." Rin smooths out his apron and skirt with a flourish. He takes the empty dishes and sets them nimbly on his tray. "I mean it, Makoto," he adds pointedly, feeling the brunet hovering behind him. "You go back to your playdate."

"It's not a playdate," Makoto mumbles.

"We're trying to get an actual date going on here," Haruka adds, elbow propped up on the table cloth, disinterestedly looking away.

A/N: And here you go~ Happy birthday Mako-chin~