A/N- Mature content in upcoming chapters.

Sweeter Than You!

CH1

"Ha! How was that, Haru?!" an exuberant Rin enthused to the one sitting next to him. In the game the two of them, along with 3 others, just concluded conducting, the fiery teen believed himself to be the victor. Too bad for him, he was the only one who found validity in this. While the others had used thoughtfulness when providing their answers, he presented blunt honesty that came off quite harshly in comparison. In light of his obliviousness, a morsel of silence scurried throughout the room as an unspoken, and unanimous, response. When that didn't seem to get the point across, the quiet male sitting next to Rin discreetly slid his eyes in his direction before giving Rin his full attention. Light annoyance hung in his brows, showing itself in no other area about his face, as his reply dismantled every hope Rin had been clinging to in that moment, "That's how you always are. It wasn't sweet at all."

"What!?" Rin snapped, slamming his hands atop the floor and nearly shoving his nose into Haruka's expressionless face. "Are you saying I can't be sweet for you, Haru!?"

"No." Either taunt or acknowledgment were identifiable in Haruka's vaporous voice, "You were just bad at it. Maybe next time, Rin."

A spark flashed in Rin's eyes. "Don't you 'maybe next time' me! ^%$ ! Just you wait! I'll be the only one to do his absolute best for you, Haru!" Rin declared, baring his sharpened teeth. In his blind determination to outdo the one he wanted to impress, the utterance of his feelings seeped out without his notice. While he didn't catch it, Haruka, Nagisa, Makoto and Rei certainly did. Their group game had nothing to do with wowing Haruka, but to Rin that was all there was.

About 15 minutes ago, the boys held a "sweet good morning" contest in Haruka's house. It was to gauge which one of them could offer the most tenderness towards a wakening significant other. Rin did the worst, but at the very least everything he had spoken was entirely genuine due to the image of the one beside him occupying his mind. He couldn't picture anyone else of whom he'd want to attempt saying such private things to other than towards him. It had never been spoken aloud to anyone but himself, but Rin was actually quite fond of Haruka. One could even go as far as to say he had secretly given the other his heart. Ever since the two of them had been children, Rin had always wanted to show his finest to Haruka so he'd be proud of him. Today he thought he had easily done the best, however the results were starkly against him. That didn't matter, though. He'd do whatever it took to win at something! Perhaps after doing that, Haruka would smile for him.

"Maybe you don't have to try very hard in order for Haru-chan to find you sweet, Rin-chan," Nagisa suggested, candidly. Even with being the youngest of the group, he seemed to hold the most innate wisdom between them all when it came to matters of relationships and life. Naturally, with Rin being the stubborn hothead he was, there was no way he could accept such simplistic advice. "I don't care! I'm not gonna give up! Haru..." he paused, returning his full attention towards his other. Without realizing, his tone softened, "...I promise you that I'm gonna win and make you the happiest guy in the world by the end of the day!"

"... … ..." Haruka voiced nothing, but his eyes enlarged slightly in surprise. He was pretty sure that with Rin being so bent on proving himself, he initiated a proposal of magnitudes he hadn't intended nor meant to insinuate. Strangely, Haruka accepted all of that at both face and hidden values. When no one bothered to deter him from his dramatics, Rin took his leave. Makoto brought a hand to his face and sighed; Nagisa and Rei gave the other looks before the taller gave a shrug.

"What a nuisance," Rei admitted, smiling knowingly and calibrating his spectacles with a hand. His blonde companion nodded enthusiastically and crossed his arms, "As to be expected of Rin-chan! He never knows how to act when Haru-chan's involved. Right?" he jested, casting an expectant expression in Haruka's direction.

"... ..." Haruka retorted with a brisk sound that could be considered as a dismissal of the subject, or a very weak chortle. Since he hardly ever laughed, the three of them considered it to be the former. As the trio chatted amongst themselves about food and where to buy it from, Haruka separated himself from them and made a beeline for the kitchen. He had no intention of cooking, however. With his face hidden from the rest of them, a gentle smile feathered across his features.

That guy––just what was he going to do with him? "...Rin..." he murmured affectionately.

Already 3 minutes away from Haruka's house, Rin suddenly gained the urge to sneeze. It delayed him from his goal by a few seconds, but that didn't matter! No matter what happened, he had vowed to himself that he'd prove to Haruka at just how precious he could really be!

"...tht...gy...dnt..blve..hm...!" Rin groused coarsely through grit teeth. He felt horribly out of place storming down the isles of some decent-looking trinket store—one of those places you buy useless things for your boyfriend or girlfriend from. Every shelf he glared at made each item appear far less appealing than the last as he scoured for something he thought Haruka would like.

With hands shoved deeply into his jacket pockets and pacing the floors on impatient legs, he swore in a hushed breath. He was going to get lost in this place! But he wouldn't give up. Not yet. The more he tried to focus on picking something up as a present, his previous failure would haunt him. In opposition of the admiration Rin held for Haruka, in actuality, he had absolutely no idea of what to buy him. What would be something that Haruka would even want? Did he care for stupid things like pictured keychains or bookmarks with dolphins on them? What if he ended up getting him something he ended up hating? No, he couldn't let that happen.

Irritated, he began to monologue to himself. "Tch. That Haru...! So I wasn't sweet enough for you, huh?! Well, I'll fix that! Just you watch!" Come to think of it, he'd never seen Haruka happy at all after they'd became friends again. Idly, his mind began to drift into the curious and the speculative. Just what did Haruka look like when he smiled, anyway? What type of sound did his laughter carry? Rin had no answer for either of those. He would have to alter that. In order for him to not stay in this place longer than necessary looking like a bumbling fool, he knew he'd have to do something he wanted to avoid.

He dug out his phone, flipped it open and furiously punched in Rei's number with a thumb. The call was answered on the 3rd ring; however, Nagisa's effervescent laughter popped through the receiver and tugged Rin's sudden frown down a touch lower. "Hahahahaa! Ah stop it, Rei-chan! Stop ti-tickling me! Hahahaha!" he cried. In the background, Rei was heard asking who contacted him and if Nagisa had actually answered or not. In-between respires, the blonde managed some sort of response to Rei before sending his attention to the caller, "He-hello? Hah...hah.. Rin-chan?"

"...What was that all about..." Rin dropped the words so quickly and lowly, they might as well had been stitched together.

"Ah...hah..." Nagisa stalled unintentionally, still needing a moment to find his breath, "Rin-chan..."

"If you must know, Nagisa and I were having a private discussion, Rin-san!" Rei engaged from the background. Although it couldn't be seen, Rin imagined the meticulous teen adjusting his glasses in a know-it-all fashion, "You are now on speakerphone. So please disclose to us the nature of this call."

"Don't put me on speakerphone! I need to talk to you, alone!"

"About what Rin-chan?" Nagisa piped up energetically like an innocent child, "Is it something about Haru-chan?"

"..!" Rin made an agitated sound and immediately Nagisa made one of his own in understanding, "Ohhhhhh. It does deal with Haru-chan! Tell us, Rin-chan. Did you need some help in getting him a present?"

"WHAT... KIND OF CRAP DOES HE LIKE?!" Rin was nearly at his wits' end and it hadn't even been a full minute, yet. There was a small pause on the other end of the phone, save for a few movements of clothing. He supposed they were exchanging glances and mulling over what to divulge to him.

"Listen, I don't have all day! Tell me something Haru's interested in!" His eyes skimmed over a row of various items in a blur as he called them out, "Like a bookmark or a stuffed animal or-"

"RIN-CHAN!" Nagisa exclaimed brightly as if he had just heard the largest news of this side of the century. Soon, that shock malformed into foxiness, "Are you in that new shop that just opened for coupl-"

"SHUT UP ABOUT THAT! I'M NOT GOING OUT WITH HARU, OKAY!? I just want to buy him something! You know that!"

" 'Going out'? But I didn't say anything like thaaat..." he whined childishly with a pout. In no time, his chipper mood then returned, "What then, what then? Buy him what? Something special?"

"Something great enough to make his head spin! He'll be begging for more and then flatter me with what an amazing person I am! It's what I said I'd do, isn't it!?" Unfortunately, Rin's one track mind consisted solely of besting Haruka despite the context of his attestations alluding to them already being boyfriends, "Now tell me, what's something Haru would like? Does he like cute things?"

"Haruka-senpai loves water, Rin-san."

"Yes, I KNOW that, smarta$$. I can't exactly buy him a cup of water and then dump it all over him when I go back to see him, now can I?!"

"Mmm...maybe Haru-chan would like that coming from you. He loves water and he really loves y—HAHAHAHAAA HAHA HA HAHAHA! REI-cHAn! S-STOP IT! D-don't ti-tickle me agaHAHAHA!"

"Rin-san!" Rei urgently took command now. Losing his patience faster than he could temper his aggravated breathing, Rin sucked his teeth, "WHAT. NOW. If I don't get an answer, I'm hanging up on you both!"

"You're going to see Haruka-senpai right after this, correct?"

"Wha-! Don't ask me a stupid question you know the answer to! Yes, I'm going to see him! What do you THINK I'm here for?!"

"Then, my advice to you is don't shop like you would for a woman. Just get him something you think he'd appreciate. However, your presence alone should suffice enough..."

"HUH?! Since when were YOU a relationship expert, Rei?! And don't make it sound like we're together! I'm not buying anything to win his heart, or whatever! ...I just want to prove that I can be sweeter than him!"

"THAT again?!" Nagisa had finally reacquired his voice and prepared to give his hot-blooded comrade a good scolding, "Rin-chan, give it up! Haru-chan's turn wasn't anything to brag about, but he sure beat you fair and square!"

"But! I did better than-"

"No, you didn't Rin-chan!" Nagisa corrected as Rei echoed the same followed by "Rin-san" instead. Of course, Rin didn't want to hear that. "HANGING UP NOW!" he spat and ended the call. The thought of contacting Gou entered his mind, but he promptly decided against it. No way was he going to ask his baby sister about matters concerning men buying endearing things for their heated rivals. The next number to become a victim to his furious dialing was none other than Haruka's very best friend himself.

"Hello?" Makoto's calm voice floated over the line.

"MAKOTO! TELL ME WHAT HARU LIKES! NOW!"

"-Wh-what?! Rin?! ...Don't scare me like that! Ahhh jeez...I thought I'd be used to you yelling everytime you call me by now...! But... ...Um... What do you mean what Haru likes? He likes water..."

"HGDHJGAGDAGDJAD, THAT ISN'T WHAT I MEAN! DOES HE LIKE CUTE THINGS OR NOT?!"

"Haven't you asked him? And what is this for? Have...you two started...seeing each other, finally?"

"Tch! I AM NOT GOING OUT WITH HARU! Why do you all keep accusing me of that?!" Apparently the "finally" tidbit of that just flew right over his head. Presumably, it was currently for the best.

"You're buying him a cute gift right?"

"Ok! Now we're getting' somewhere! Something cute...cute...cute..." His eyes rummaged around the arranged objects, looking for something that stood out enough to catch his eye. Without a second thought, his hand darted out and snatched up a marine plushie, "Hey, are sharks cute?"

"Um... ...no?"

"&%& #!" Rin swore and snapped his phone shut. Angrily he shoved the device back into his pocket. What a waste of time and energy THAT all was! If he were going to do this, he'd have to do so on his own, anyway. That was fine. It was a challenge, after all, and Rin Matsouka never backed down from a good one. Haruka deserved the best; and that was exactly what Rin would deliver to him without fail. As his determination inflamed, his mind carried him to musings of a very pleased Haruka, in only his swimsuit and an apron for some odd reason, holding a favorite plush toy that Rin had gotten him. The way his eyes would glisten, and how the tips of his lips would gingerly curve upwards as he thanked Rin sent an immediate shock of carmine to his face from the vividness of the imagery. He actually had to stop walking for a moment—for obvious reasons.

Since no one else could give him any helpful hints with what to purchase, Rin adapted a change of heart and began walking through the store at a slower pace. He was starting over. If he was going to be stuck in here for a while until he made up his mind anyway, he may as well take his time and do things right.

To be continued...

A/N: FRICK! I didn't think I'd write another new Free! Fic, but this one just wouldn't let me go. Blame it on these two perfect boyfriends, here haha

Peace

-Mel