A Free! oneshot
Note: The Free! characters belong to Oji Koji-sensei, not to me. After all the angst I wrote for them, I decided it was high time for some fun. ;3 Read, review, and enjoy!
Mikoshiba seemed more fired up than usual. "All right! Let's finish strong, men!" he barked. "Ten more laps, and then we'll end our summer training!"
With Rin's strong turns, he was done well before the others. Only two others finished before Aiichiro finally came up, and Rin gave him a hand. It was a nice spot of touch, but they were used to that in the pool. Outside of the pool was the only time when they had an issue.
Eventually the Samezuka Swimming Club wrapped up, and everyone's spirits were high. Mikoshiba's and the other third years' were the highest, but that was to be expected, since they only had a semester left. It was only natural for them to enjoy their remaining time together.
"Hard to believe we have one week left of summer vacation," Aiichiro commented to Rin before they headed into the showers.
"Yeah. Gives everyone time to cram all the summer homework into the last few days," Rin said with a grin.
Aiichiro raised an eyebrow. "…you actually left it to the last minute, Matsuoka-senpai?"
"Old habits die hard." Aiichiro's exasperated sigh only made Rin laugh.
"Well, you're a year above me, so I can't help you…"
"Sure you can."
"…with studying, senpai."
Rin rolled his eyes. "You're such a tease, Ai," he mumbled so only the gray-haired teen could hear.
"Oi!" Mikoshiba called from inside the locker-room. "You two! Stop dawdling and clean up!"
They did as their captain ordered. Despite Mikoshiba yelling at them to hurry up, they managed to finish before him. However…
Rin flinched. "Sorry, what?" He'd misheard him… He glanced at Aiichiro and saw that he was turning pink.
"Go clean up the pool area."
Mikoshiba grinned and laughed. "You two took forever, chatting like girls. Besides, I'm a third year and your captain. Who else votes for Matsuoka and Nitori cleaning up?" the flame-haired male hollered.
A resonating "Oi!" replied.
As Rin sighed, Mikoshiba came over and slapped him on the back. "If you want, you could lessen your sentence if you just gave me Gou-kun's number."
"Over my dead body," Rin answered without hesitation.
"Yikes… Well, goodnight, Rin, Ai."
Rin shot him an even deadlier look.
Mikoshiba shivered. "…ichiro," he finished safely.
As the other members dispersed, Rin and Aiichiro headed back out to the pool area. Rin put things away while Aiichiro mopped up, and they worked in pleasant silence for a while.
Then Aiichiro spoke up. "Mikoshiba-senpai…he knows, doesn't he?"
Rin frowned. "Maybe. He can be a little thick, but he's not the dumbest guy around."
"Have we been too obvious?" Those blue eyes found Rin in the bright indoor pool's lights. They were full of worry.
"No, of course not." Rin shook his head for emphasis. Then he thought about the locker-room fifteen minutes earlier. "…you misheard him, too, didn't you?"
"Uh-huh," Aiichiro stated, looking away. He was turning pink again.
"Don't worry about it. Mikoshiba doesn't hear himself when he talks."
"But… 'Renai.'" Aiichiro forced himself to look at Rin, and he looked ready to break down like a malfunctioning machine. "'Rin, Ai' sounds too close to 'adult love.'"
Rin felt a little hot under the collar himself, but he was working on not laughing at how adorable Aiichiro's frazzled face was. "Don't worry about it," he repeated. "We have plenty of time for…those things when we want them."
Aiichiro nodded, but Rin kept a safe distance for the rest of the night just in case. He didn't want Aiichiro to freak out. Besides, he was just as new to the concept of dating, let alone dating another guy. There was no need to rush things, even if it had been months now.
That didn't make the remaining days of summer any better, though.
It really had been a stupid idea to leave the homework until the last minute. Rin didn't have anyone to borrow the work from, and Makoto and Haruka were on a different section of the subjects he needed help with because Iwatobi's curriculum was slightly rearranged compared with that of Samezuka's, so he was on his own.
Aiichiro was kind, though. He stuck around and hung out at Rin's house, even though he could've been doing other things. "Don't mind me," he reassured Rin. "I like just visiting." He said it with such a bright smile that Rin almost believed him.
On the bright side, Aiichiro didn't seem to get bored. He alternated between reading the random books on Rin's shelf—he liked trying to read some of Rin's favorite Australian novels to improve his English—and borrowing Kou's body-builder magazines—though those kind of scared him out of trying some new exercise routines.
Still, they got to spend time together, and Rin stayed focused long enough to complete at least one subject each day. Aiichiro took to rewarding him with micro dates. "Shall we pop out to the convenience store for sweet pork buns?"
Rin enjoyed that, though it was best when Kou wasn't around to tease them. She liked Aiichiro, but she was still too excited to have Rin home and so she kept butting in… It had long since become annoying.
On the way back to the house, Rin eyed Aiichiro. "Maybe…we could do something at the end of the week? To celebrate when I get my work done," he chuckled nervously.
"I'd like that." The smaller boy smiled. "Shall we go somewhere?"
"Ah, I dunno… Not the pool. We need a break from that." He had to think a moment. "Arcade or something?"
"Ah…" Aiichiro gave him a weak smile. "I stink at games."
"I could teach you how to play some of them."
"I'm afraid I might be un-teachable…" He pursed his lips. Then he paused and looked up at Rin coyly. "Um…the aquarium? I haven't been since I was a kid."
Rin was surprised. But it was kind of nice, seeing Aiichiro sweetly ask that. Aiichiro was rarely demanding, but he was growing more forthright the more he spent time with Rin. "All right, then. The aquarium, it is."
"Really? Great!" The younger teen's face lit up, and somehow that made the grueling days of homework worth it.
The night before their date, Rin just managed to finish his work. He'd taken the only advice Aiichiro had been able to give him regarding his coursework: save his favorite subjects for last. So, of course, English and math felt like their own little rewards once he got to them.
"Oi, Kou, did you get them?" he asked his sister before bed.
She rolled her eyes and passed him the tickets. "You're not a very nice brother, Onii-chan. Making me buy the tickets for your date…" She pouted. "Look, you can take Nitori-chan here. But I'm not letting this slide. You've got to take me somewhere nice next time." Even though it was a bit of a threat, he could see her excitement.
"Of course," he gave in.
Since that let him off the hook with Kou, he tried to sleep as he looked forward to the morning.
…of course, he didn't sleep a wink.
It annoyed him that that happened. He could sleep like a log before a big swim meet, no problem. But before a date? …well, he had nothing to compare. He'd been too focused on swimming to have tried dating in Australia, and it'd been the same way after returning to Japan. Only once he'd taken a certain kind of liking to Aiichiro had romance even occurred to Rin.
Aiichiro came to pick him up after breakfast, and Rin hustled them out of there before Kou or—for heaven's sake—his mother could waylay the gray-haired teen and ruin their plans for the day.
"I could've said good morning or hi at least," Aiichiro said as a rebuke to Rin on the train.
"Trust me—you've met Kou. Saying 'hi' is the best way to get my mother going a mile a minute without stopping. Kou gets her chatter from her."
"All right, all right… Do you want to have lunch there, too, or go elsewhere?"
The train ride passed quickly that way. But Rin enjoyed that. They planned the rest of their day for after the aquarium, and it truly felt like a reward. After all the schoolwork, being able to stay out late was the best thing for which Rin could've asked.
The aquarium was bigger than Rin remembered. Granted, he was fairly sure the last time he'd come was as a kid, but he was still sure that they'd added on to the building. His suspicions were confirmed when Aiichiro grabbed a map and fawned over the layout. "The size of the shark tank is huge!"
"And they've got a petting area, too," Rin noted. "Hmm… It says they've got baby rays…"
"Oh, look, look! Matsuoka-senpai, they've got a dedicated jellyfish section! We should go there first."
"Fine. Only if I don't hear another single 'Matsuoka' out of you, Ai."
"All right, Rin-senpai."
Rin rolled his eyes and tugged Aiichiro along. He knew he couldn't win every battle.
They passed by turtles and seahorses. They didn't have to look to know they walked by the penguin exhibit—that could be smelled from a mile away. They had to swim through the crowd who stood anticipating the first dolphin show of the day.
Finally they reached the jellyfish. It was very dark inside the large room, in the middle of which stood a large pillar-like tank that held more species. The room made good use of black lights, giving everything an otherworldly glow as the lights bounced off the ceiling and hit the floor.
Aiichiro gasped in amazement. "It's so cool in here…," he said quietly. There were only a few other patrons in the room.
"Yeah, it's more than I expected," Rin agreed. He watched Aiichiro go over to one of the walls and nearly press his face against the glass. The redhead smiled. "I'm glad you like it."
"I love it," Aiichiro corrected him. He beckoned to Rin. "Look, look! That one's tails—"
"They look like lace to me."
Aiichiro snickered. "I was going to say that it looked like the jelly cutting through the water, like when you swim, senpai." He chuckled at Rin's blush. "I never thought you'd say something so, er, romantic."
Rin ruffled Aiichiro's hair, and his boyfriend protested. "Oh, shut up, you. Just enjoy the jellies, why don't you?"
"But I am." Without thinking, Aiichiro's hand found its place in Rin's.
The older boy didn't object. It was plenty dark in here, and they were on a proper date after all.
They took their time in the jellyfish room and then moved on to see the whale tank. Rin enjoyed that, as the whales didn't make as much noise as the dolphins or porpoises, and he felt the same way about many of the other creatures…though he kind of gave in when he and Aiichiro climbed to the top of the turtle tank to watch the turtles come up for air several times. It was fun watching the creatures slice through the water's surface with their fins and make some snorting sounds.
Before he knew it, most of the day had passed in the aquarium. Aiichiro checked his watch as they returned to the ground floor of the building.
"It's about time for a late lunch… Shall we see the penguins on our way out?" the smaller boy offered.
Rin pinched his nose. "I dunno if I wanna smell that while I still have an appetite…"
"Well, we'll be getting some fresh air outside, at least." Aiichiro gave him a sympathetic look. "Come on. It won't be too bad." He gave Rin's hand a squeeze.
"All right, Ai…"
As they looked at the penguins, Rin did his best to hold his breath. But that was impossible, to hold it for the whole time they watched the birds. Rin gasped for air, the stench hit him, and he buried his nose in the hood of Aiichiro's sweatshirt. Ah, yes. Aiichiro smelled much better than the penguins!
"Oh! Look! It's Rin-chan!"
Rin stood up straight. He knew that voice…
Aiichiro turned and saw Nagisa and Rei. "Oh, look, Rin-senpai. It's Hazuki-san and Ryugazaki-san." As soon as the words left his mouth, it struck him, too. "Uh-oh," he squeaked.
"Ai, do me a favor and pretend you don't see them."
"But that'd be rude—"
"I'm going to pretend, too!"
Yet it was too late. Nagisa ran up to them, tugging Rei along. "Wah, to find you guys here! That's so cool. Ne, Rei-chan?"
Rei pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "It's not that unusual. There are other people here, too."
Nagisa jabbed a thumb in Rin and Aiichiro's direction. "Yeah, but to think that they'd choose this date spot, too—"
"Wait, date? 'Too'?" Rin looked down and saw that he still held Aiichiro's hand. They broke apart. But then Rin saw Nagisa had Rei's hand. …oh. He turned almost as red as his hair.
"Sorry to interrupt," Rei said apologetically, and he pushed Nagisa onwards, as if they'd never caught sight of the other couple at the aquarium. A few yards away, Rin could hear Rei scolding Nagisa for being rude and Nagisa whining that it would've been cool to have turned things suddenly into a double date.
Rin looked back at Aiichiro, who was bright pink and avoiding his eyes. The shark groaned. "Time for lunch," he said weakly. Aiichiro nodded.
They left the aquarium, no longer holding hands and standing with at least three inches of space between them. They found a small café to eat at and ordered, but it was too awkward to carry on a conversation. Rin tried, reminding Aiichiro about how great the jellies had been, but Aiichiro was too flustered to give more than one-word remarks.
Even worse, the train ride home seemed to go on forever. And no wonder—the boys were so caught up in what had happened that they missed their stop once, waited until they could make a transfer, and then missed their stop a second time. Their day out now turned to night, but Rin no longer felt glad about getting home late. If anything, he just wanted to go home now.
When they finally got off the train, the walk home was too quiet. Rin couldn't stand it any longer. "We're being pretty stupid," he said loudly.
Aiichiro squeaked at the sudden exclamation.
Rin sighed and slowed his pace. Aiichiro matched him. "Look at us. So happy to go out and happy when we are out—then we bump into someone who knows us… Not that I'm all that surprised, I guess, at Nagisa and Speedo Glasses… But what were we thinking?"
Aiichiro hung his head.
"Mikoshiba's awful speech got us overthinking things, I think, Ai. 'Renai'—we can barely stand to be ourselves in public."
He knew his words were harsh, but Aiichiro said nothing. There was no denying that fact.
Still, Rin knew his street was a quiet one, and he gingerly reached for Aiichiro's waist. At least they got to walk home together as they'd wanted to do.
Rin invited Aiichiro inside for a drink before the younger teen would wend his way home. As they sipped sodas in the ensuing silence, Rin caught sight of a note tacked on the fridge:
I've gone out with Kou and her friend, Chigusa-chan. Heat up last night's leftovers for dinner. Hope you enjoyed your date, sweetie.
The redhead groaned, drawing Aiichiro's attention to the note. Aiichiro snickered a bit. "She signed it 'Mama,' not 'Mom.' That's sweet."
"Oh, shut up, Ai." He playfully shoved his roommate's shoulder.
"I mean it. You have a good life, Rin-senpai. Nothing to be embarrassed about." Aiichiro looked at him with those eyes the color not of the sea but of the sky—and Rin's heart flip-flopped.
Aiichiro was right. There was nothing to be embarrassed about. Not his family, not his friends—certainly not Aiichiro.
The younger one seemed to have guessed where Rin's mind was heading, but he didn't back away. Instead, he remained rooted in the stool at the kitchen counter, waiting for Rin to kiss him.
Rin did. It was short and sweet at first, but then he quickened it, demanding more of Aiichiro and Aiichiro's mouth.
Aiichiro broke for breath and pushed gently on Rin's chest. "We have all the time in the world for these things, Rin."
"Yeah, and when Mom writes notes like that, it means she's gone crazy and she and Kou won't get in until something like one or two in the morning."
"Women are crazy. But it gives us a few hours."
"Sounds like a plan to me."
And Aiichiro barely got his words out. In the next several minutes, their sodas had been abandoned in the kitchen, their shoes had been kicked out of place by the door, and they stumbled their way upstairs, drunk on their emotions in the moment.
In Rin's room, Aiichiro marveled how things and Rin looked in the dark. "All we're missing are the black lights," he joked breathily. Then he gasped as Rin nipped at his chest.
If that wasn't enough to do it, where Rin placed his fingers and tongue next surely was. Renai, indeed.
Oops…a bit of a cop-out, I guess. ;P Argh, it just takes me a while before I write real M fics for a fandom (it took me forever before I did for the Harry Potter fandom, my main fandom). Anywho, more Japanese puns aside, I think this was a pretty cute fic. Plus a side of Reigisa, just because. I also like to think that Rin would get along fine being home again with Kou and their mom—cute. *Matsuoka family feels* :3 And ARGH. NITORI. YOU CUTIE-PIE. UNF. So yeah. I'm so perilously close to writing/drawing smut for these two, it's not even funny. *dithers away* And about Rin putting off homework—I'd started this fic before the short about Aiichiro procrastinating at studying came out, *lol*.; though I'm a little like Rin, liking both English and math (I'm no longer an English major but a math major, actually). And the jellies popped into my head because they're cool and because I'm a Kuragehime fan, yup. Oh, and cover photo by me. TURTLES! 8D Although, shark and petting jokes aside, the really cute animals are baby rays. SERIOUSLY. THEY'RE LIKE PUPPIES—playful and soft. :'D
Thanks for reading, and please review! And do check out my other Free! fics if you liked this!