Pairing: SouHaru, some vague side RinHaru
Summary: Misunderstanding and flashbacks. Lots of water, all kinds.
Day 6 “Kiss” of SouHaruWeek.
Sousuke ran through the pouring rain as it pelted his face like little icy knifes across his skin. His heart was pounding in his ears; body fueled on acid as he ran past capacity and just ran on more. Breathing hard he stopped for a second, taking in deep gasps of air. He looked up to see the cars rushing past him on the street.
‘He could be in a taxi,’ his mind supplied and he looked into the window of the closest one, as if he would be sitting in the back seat. The seat was empty, although the driver looked a little interested at a fair.
There was only one place left he could be, the last place he could possibly be hiding. Forgetting about the cross walk he dashed across the street, dodging cars as he went. Sousuke pushed past the throng of people as he made it to the alley. Down the corner bathed in the light of too many shop signs crammed together was a small restaurant.
It was the only restaurant in the area that sold plain grilled mackerel and it was without a doubt Haruka’s favorite place to eat in the city.
Standing under the awning he leaned against a wall wiping the water from his face, taking in deep gulps of air, trying to calm himself before he entered. He needed to stay calm for this, had to find some footing to use as reason with Haruka.
How had he let it come to this? How could he have been so stupid to leave his phone by the bed as he went to take a show? He knew that Rin was going to send him a text tonight. He knew that Haruka was a light sleeper when he was anywhere but his own bed. But he had left the phone anyways and came to see his messages read and Haruka gone.
Not even a note.
Between reading the message and getting dressed he was out of his small apartment in four minutes. He was so sure he would be able to catch up to Haruka. That he would be able to explain. He thought he knew Haruka well enough by now to at least predict where he would go in a time of crisis.
He had been wrong.
He could have tried Tachibana. He was still the only one with prognostic capabilities when it came to Haruka. But it would also rise to many questions.
Running a hand through his hair he slid open the door taking in the small tables, empty save one lone figure meditating over a bowl of miso soup and a plate of grilled mackerel.
The mackerel looked untouched.
Mouth dry, Sousuke walked over to the table. He stood there waiting for acknowledgement, heart still pounding in his chest, hands clammy.
Haruka refused to look up as he ran a spoon through the broth. Even when Sousuke finally sat down opposite him and tried to look at his face Haruka avoided him. Examining his food rather than eating it.
What could Sousuke say to him? What could he tell him that would make this all go away? Back to this afternoon when they had come out of class and Haruka had dragged him to his favorite sports store. Claiming he needed a new swim suit. Again.
How could he tell Haruka that the last two years of their relationship were based on a lie? That he had only gotten close to him as a favor for Rin?
'How did it get to this?' he asked himself as he closed his eyes, blocking out the site of Haruka's wet hair and the beads of water that were still clinging to it.
"What the hell are you talking about?" asked Sousuke into the phone. He was in the middle of lunch when Rin had called him with a "life and death" situation.
"I need you to keep an eye on Haru." Rin sounded like it was a perfectly reasonable request to make of him. Like out of everyone that knew both him and Haru, Sousuke was the most logical choice.
"Why would I do that?" he muttered drinking some soda, as he fished out a book he needed to read for class.
"Because you are my best friend, and I need someone to keep an eye on him for me. What will I do if he decides he doesn't want to swim competitively while I am gone? No one’s around to keep him on track!"
"What about his mother, Tachibana?"
"I--," he stopped.
Now Sousuke knew something was up. There had to be a reason why Rin would ask him instead of Tachibana. Sure all three of them had headed off for college in Tokyo but that was all Sousuke knew.
Rin's breath was audible over the phone, "I want you to make sure that..."
"That?" prompted Sousuke.
"That Haruka doesn't get a lover while I am in Australia!" It was blurted out in a rush and Sousuke blinked, staring off into the nothing.
"You want me to cock-block Nanase?" he lacked inflection and he didn't know if he wanted to laugh or not.
"Don't say it like that," Rin yelled and Sousuke could hear the blush in his voice.
"But that is what you just said. You want me to keep people away from Nanase. What for? Aren't you trying the long distance thing?"
Rin had mentioned it in the last month of high school, before leaving to Australia. That he was thinking of asking Nanase about a long distance relationship now that he was going out of the country. Sousuke was just surprised that he wasn't going to stuff Nanase in his carry on and bring him with him.
"Well about that..."
"I kind of didn't ask him about it. I mean everyone says long distance doesn't work, and I don't want to start something and ruin my chances forever. If I go out with him now we will just break up and I won't be able to start something later!"
"So you didn't even ask him?" He couldn't believe this! Eight years of mooning over Nanase and he still hadn’t asked him. He knew Rin was bad with romantic situation but this was beyond--
"I just couldn't okay. We were at the pool alone and I was looking at him thinking about the future and I just froze." Rin was stressed out, "Then I was talking to Greg, he is a teammate I have here, and he told me that anyone as great as Haru would find someone. That he could be engaged before we even got out of uni!"
Sousuke sighed, "I still don't see why you need me to do this?"
"You’re the only one who doesn’t get pulled in by him.”
“Yeah, but I don’t even know where he is?”
Rin was quite for a minute before speaking, “Don't you know? Haru is going to the same university as you."
"You're food is getting cold?" Sousuke said as he watched him. As if startled by the sound of his voice Haruka looked up at him, deep blue eyes framed by thick dark black lashes. His face was as impassive as always but Haruka’s eyes were like open windows to his soul.
What he saw made his heart clench painfully in his chest.
He wanted to do something. To reach out to Haruka and pull him in, hold him close like he did when Haruka had decided to tell his parents about them. Only to be kicked out their house. When he was feeling down Sousuke had been there for him, for over two years he had been the one Haruka went to. And Haruka...Haruka had been there for him. When he came out of surgery and had woken up to see him sleeping on the uncomfortable hospital chair. Face calm and serein with his mouth slightly open, hand wrapped around Sousuke’s.
It was in that moment, in the quite of a hospital room, that he had felt it. The unexplainable pull, that draw that others always talked about Haruka having. Only it had nothing to do with his swimming, or how graceful he was in the water. It was a million images of Haruka’s day to day life. Not Haruka’s swimming but just Haruka, plain and simple.
While maybe he and Haruka would never be called the other half of each other it didn’t matter. Where Haruka was soft, Sousuke was hard. When Sousuke had a quick temper and a fast cool, Haruka only got annoyed but it would linger for days. They weren’t the other half of the same picture, but a collage, clipped and placed together, creating something just as beautiful.
Sousuke had always been fiercely protective of those he held close, friends and family. It was part of who he was. No one was allowed to hurt Haruka. Only now it was him who had put that face on him, he who was causing that pain. His heart breaking when he saw the fracture in Haruka’s cool façade as the beautiful face was lined with sadness.
How could he have let this go on this long? He should have just told Rin the truth instead of letting it go this far.
Nanase looked up at Sousuke with that dead fish expression he always wore. Half his face was still submerged in the pool and Sousuke wondered how he could breathe like that. Then again anything Haruka did in the water was abnormal.
He had always seemed a bit off if you asked Sousuke, even while everyone was fawning over him being a genius. The way he treated the water alive was just plain weird. Sure he was a good swimmer but as far as Sousuke was concerned that was his only redeeming quality.
Too bad he was stuck playing nice.
Rin was going to owe him for this.
"Hey. Rin told me we were in the same university so I figured I would come down and say 'hi'."
Give me a break; he wanted to say as Haruka sunk even lower into the water till all that he could see were bluer than blue eyes above blue water.
"Don't mind Nanase," a familiar voice behind him said and Sousuke turned around to see Kuranosuke. A wave of relief passed over him at the familiar face; it was horrible standing by the pool. He has just about forgotten the hot humid air and the scent of chlorine.
"Do you know Sousuke, Nanase?" Kuranosuke asked a smile in his warm brown eyes. He was looking at Nanase with that special look, the one his besotted team mates always wore. It was more than a mild annoyance that someone he was fast considering his first friend since coming to university was another Nanase fan-boy.
"'We grew up in the same area, and have mutual friends."
Kuranosuke looked envious.
"Well I invited Nanase to dinner. Maybe you would like to join us? We are going out for some mackerel sushi. It’s Nanase's favorite." He smiled down at Nanase who blew some bubbles before diving back into the water to swim a few laps.
Just as annoying as always, thought Sousuke as he accepted the invitation. At least this was a way to get closer to 'Haru'.
Dinner was interesting, Nanase had made them both try some mackerel with pineapple which was, against his wishes, pretty good. Kuranosuke had turned green as he watched him and Nanase finish off the pineapple with the raw fish.
They were on the train together. Apparently they both lived rather close together, but the awkward silence that spanned between them was beginning to get on Sousuke's nerves. Couldn't Nanase talk like a regular human being? Was some casual small talk too much to ask?
"I thought you would be living with Tachibana," he tried.
Haruka looked up at him from across the divide face confused like he had forgotten Sousuke was on the same train with him. He was surrounded by a backdrop of city-lights, like a divine light was shined from him, it looked staged.
"Our schools are a bit far from one another, the commute would be too much if we lived together."
"It must be lonely. You two have been together since forever."
"I am used to being alone, and we only live about ten minutes by train. Besides no matter how far we are from each other nothing will change us. We will always be together," a small smile tilted the edges of his lips, a hidden smile his grandmother would call it, and Sousuke’s jaw dropped lightly.
He had never seen Haruka smile, but he could not imagine any more expression on his face than that. Rin had told him about Haru's smile, but Rin had told him a lot about Nanase. Sousuke wondered how much Nanase knew about him. Did Rin talk about Sousuke for hours on end? Sadly the answer was probably no.
"Is that how it is with Rin?" he blurted out startling Nanase again.
"Rin is different. We are connected in a different way. The water keeps us together. We swim for each other now."
"What about the two back in Iwatobi?"
"Why are you asking so many questions?" he countered. He was getting suspicious. There had never been anything between the two of them so Sousuke could hardly blame him.
"Just trying to be friendly."
"But you don't like me." Haruka's eyes had sharpened as he stared at Sousuke, trying to read his face. Sousuke felt his face harden but could not bring himself to deny it.
"Listen we are both in a brand new place together, but we know each other. I figured we could at least try to make nice while we are here." It sounded plausible to Sousuke at least.
"I read that people will stay close to someone they know, even if they hate the person, rather than get close to a complete stranger." Nanase muttered.
"I rather sit with a stranger."
"But you are sitting with me."
"I don't hate you." I am jealous of you.
Nanase's eyes widened in surprise, "I see."
"Haruka," he tried again, and Haruka stiffened even further, "we need to talk."
Without a word Haruka stood up, chair falling to the floor. He gave Sousuke a scathing look as he slammed money down on the table and began to leave.
Quickly Sousuke reached out to grab him by the wrist only to have Haruka violently pull free from his grasp.
"I don't think we need to talk about anything. I would rather just forget about all of this," his voice small before dashing out the door and into the pouring rain.
Quickly Sousuke got up to follow and was halfway out the door when saw Haruka's duffle bag against the chair. It was the one he kept over Sousuke's with a change of clothes. Not that it was used much since he was currently taking up two of Sousuke’s draws with jammers.
The significance however, was not lost on him and he headed back for the bag. He could feel the pain of the rough nylon strap against his palm, and he squeezed it, trying to break free from the numbness that had settled on him. Haruka wanted to end it. End them.
I must be bleeding, he thought. Bleeding somewhere, there had to be some physical evidence of the pain he was going through. He hadn't felt this bad in a long time, the feeling where his heart was being crushed inside his chest.
What he felt for Haruka was something he had never felt for anyone else; the all-encompassing need to spend time with him, be with him, and wake up each day just to breathe him in. Haruka had become this bright and shinning thing, and the crazy part was that he was his. They had become closer than he had ever imagined.
The soothing calm that Haruka just seemed to naturally exude acted like a balm to Sousuke who was always fire and heat. They just fit. It had happened so gradually that he had not even noticed before it was too late, too late to step back because his heart had already been taken.
And now this.
This is the worst possible time. Why did this have to happen now?
Haruka was scheduled to leave for the World Aquatics Championships tomorrow. If he didn't find Haruka and explain to him tonight then it would be two weeks before he saw him again. Two weeks for this feeling to settle and fester inside of him.
Haruka never swam well under stress, and he had been so excited with the prospect of getting to race Rin. Sousuke couldn’t let this happen to him now, at an international tournament.
"Do you really eat mackerel every day?" Sousuke asked between bites of his own rice and curry.
Haruka blinked in a way that resembled and owl before looking down at his own meal like he had never seen it before. Sousuke couldn't help but smile there were times when Haruka was just too funny.
It wasn't all bad he had begrudgingly admitted after being friends with Haruka for a grand total of three months. While the guy was still ridiculous at times it could be pretty funny.
Like the first time he had tried coke. Sousuke had been surprised that Rin had never gotten him to try it, surprised that he had lived so long without trying it in general. But he had sat back and watched him poor the soda on ice (to kill some of the burn), smiled when he wrinkled his nose as the fizz jumped on him. Needless to say he had become mildly addictive to the point that Sousuke had started to worry. Since then Tachibana had put him on a three can a week limit.
But the day was hot and as he watched Haruka drink the dark liquid through a straw, he wasn't going to snitch on him.
"How is this," he tried again since Haruka was not talking, "why do you eat Mackerel every day?"
"I don't know. I just always have."
"You know you might grow more if you started to eat meat. Like Rin. How much taller than you is he?" Sousuke smirked as Haruka's eyes lit up at the mention of their friend. He would do it randomly just to bring out that shine in Haruka's eyes. It worked every time like a charm.
Sousuke wondered why Rin didn't just take the chance, because anyone with eyes could tell Haruka was the type of person to be asked on a date rather than do the asking.
"My grandmother used to feed me mackerel when I came home from school," he was taking small bites of the fish as he chewed; "after she passed away I just kept eating it."
Sousuke stopped wishing he had never brought the subject up. While he had never lost a close relative he could only imagine the pain one would feel losing someone like that.
"I'm sorry," he said uncomfortable watching the way Haruka's hair felt to the side as he tilted his head, just long enough to fall over his eye. "So you eat it because it reminds you of your grandmother."
"My grandmother cooked mackerel every day because it was the only thing she could get me to eat."
"It was a long time ago but she was very much a parent to me growing up. So thanks."
This guy could be unbelievable sometimes Sousuke wondered why he was even doing this for Rin. His thoughts stopped and his gaze became trapped on Haruka's mouth, watching the pink tongue that wet his lips.
When Sousuke finally got out of the restaurant Haruka and any trace of him was gone. It was past ten and Haruka could be practically anywhere. The city was much too big to go around blindly looking. It was time to bring in the big guns.
With a grimace he got out his phone and pulled up Tachibana's number. It took three tries before the phone was answered.
"What do you want?"
Tachibana sounded pissed.
Sousuke didn't even know Tachibana could get angry.
This would make it hard to get help from him, and he was counting on that help right now. He needed to talk to Haruka, to get through to him. It was the only way he could see himself salvaging this. Because while Sousuke was not great at lot of things, when it came to stubborn determination no one could beat him.
Losing Haruka was not something he was willing to accept. At least not like this.
"Haruka told you?" he asked rhetorically.
"What do you think? Of course he told me. If I had known this is who you were whole time I would have never let it happen. To think," he went on voice rising in volume, "that I actually believed you loved him. I can't believe Rin would even think up something this horrible.
"Do you have any idea how Haruka sounded when he called me? I can remember the last time he sounded like that and I promised myself that I would never let anyone make him feel that way again. If you have even an ounce of--"
"PLEASE!" he yelled into the phone, chores of whispers in his wake as people glanced over at him. Tachibana was quite but he could feel the anger just below the surface. It was strange how powerful and vibrant his emotions were even over the phone.
"This whole thing was a miss understanding."
"I don't see how it could have been misunderstood." the cold voice over the phone was as good as sinking in an ice pond. Apparently Tachibana had layers of anger.
"Rin and I did have an understanding," Tachibana scoffed, "but it wasn't what you think. I would never have started this with Haruka if my feelings weren't in on it. I am not that kind of frivolous guy. I meant ever word I said to him!"
Sousuke took a breath and waited for the verdict. Tachibana would either decide to help him or not, but he didn't have time to waste. If the answer was no then he had an entire night to search for Haruka.
He was not going to give up without a fight.
"Did you check the university pool?" was the voice, calm but slightly hesitant.
"It is being used for a local swim meet." What did Tachibana take him for? That was the first place he had looked.
All he heard was silence over the phone, but he let Tachibana think.
"There is a bridge," he finally spoke and his voice was just as calming as normal, and it let Sousuke relax, "near the cafe Kisumi works at. It overlooks the ocean. You should try underneath that."
"Why would he go there? He hates Kisumi."
"You want my help or not. I'd go myself but I am thirty minutes away. Besides you are forgetting that Haruka doesn’t want to be found."
There had always been a few flies hanging around Haruka, especially after his work was hung up in the university gallery. People started labeling him as eccentric and sensitive. That he represented true soul of an artist. But if Sousuke had thought that was bad it was nothing compared to the swarm that appeared after Haruka's first FINA World Championships.
Suddenly Haruka didn't just have longing looks and few veiled propositions. After placing in the 100m crawl he was literally inundated with offers. Most were easy enough to get rid of, just a bit posturing by Haruka's side, making people think he had a jealous boyfriend who was exceedingly tall, muscular, and handsome. It made matters easier that Haruka was completely oblivious to all but the most in your face advances, and even then he would stare adorably confused before walking off with Sousuke.
Then there came Hirofumi.
Sousuke didn't even know when he had shown up. It was like one day he was there, laughing while Haruka looked on with an indulgent face. He was a year older than them and was helping Haruka with his English class. He had seemed innocent enough with his thick rimmed glasses and his slightly reserve nature. His hair was a reddish brown and was cut in a way that resembled Tachibana’s.
He had come from the southern islands and Sousuke made it his mission to pick on any accent he heard. It was an added bonus that he had the innate ability to both bother Haruka and make him blush.
It was after swim practice and Sousuke had been waiting of him outside the building hoping to get to him before anyone else. Hell had frozen over as he found himself vying for Haruka Nanase's attention.
It was mid-autumn and the sun was setting earlier now bringing with it the chill of a fall night. Sousuke never went into the pool to see Haruka anymore, now that he didn't need to. He would live well if he never saw a pool again. The memories of his last relay with Rin were enough to hold him.
Haruka's hair was still wet and sticking to the sides of his neck, Sousuke commented on his getting a cold last week for the same reason. Usually it would incite some form of argument but today Haruka just touched his hair before stepping close to Sousuke.
"So want to get some dinner?" asked Sousuke. It was the third time this week he had asked Haruka out only to be turned down. He was beginning to feel a little neglected.
"I need to talk to you about something. It's important." He was looking up at Sousuke with those deep ocean eyes that could mesmerize Sousuke if he looked too hard. The outdoor lights were on and they casted on Haruka's face, his smooth skin darkened by shadows. He wore an excited expression on his face and Sousuke found himself smiling alone with Haruka's contagious happiness.
"Over dinner?" he was hopeful but his smile died down when Haruka bit his lip and looked off to the side. He had been doing that a lot lately, usually followed by an excuse on why he could not hang out.
"Will you walk with me for a bit?"
Sousuke was finding it harder and harder to deny him so with a grumble of how they could talk over dinner they started walking. Haruka was close enough that on occasion their shoulders would brush.
Sousuke watched as he began to push his nail against the pad of his finger, it was a nervous gesture that he had noticed only recently. They were under the old arch on campus and the area was deserted. Without asking Sousuke reached out and took hold of Haruka's hand, trying to stop the habit. He held it longer than usual feeling the chill on his fingers shared between them.
"Whatever is bothering you, you know you can tell me. We are friends now." He smirked down at Haruka hoping to be reassuring; the only thing he succeeded in was causing Haruka to look even more nervous.
"Telling me can't be any worse than keeping it to yourself. I think we both learned that keeping troubles to ourselves cause more problems."
Haruka looked down at their hands together and Sousuke rubbed his callous thumbs long Haruka's knuckles. Squeezing his hands Haruka looked up at him before speaking.
"Hirofumi asked me... if I wanted to go on a date. I-I have never been on a date before. I was thinking that maybe I should."
Sousuke was still on the part where Hirofumi had asked Haruka on a date. How had he not seen it? Hirofumi was always around Haruka lately, helping him a lot more than necessary. All of Haruka’s blushing was starting to make sense.
His blood turned to ice as he looked down at Haruka, an expectant look on his face. He was waiting for some response. What did he want from him?
Sousuke watched Haruka bite his lip when Sousuke did nothing but stare, brain trapped in some ever revolving loop.
Rin asked him to keep other guys away from Haruka. Was that fair for Haruka though? He might have started this relationship with impure intentions but regardless they were friends now. Hirofumi was the only person not from Haruka's home who had managed to worm his way into the quite young man life.
He could imagine Haruka walking hand in hand with Hirofumi, that half smile he sometimes bestowed on the lucky directed at him. Could see Haruka leaning his head back on Hirofumi's shoulder as he looked up at an interesting cloud.
Then it happened. His memories pushed their way to the front of his mind. He remembered Haruka coming over his place on Sousuke’s birthday, walking into the kitchen like he owned it as he began to cook some hamburger steak. How he had pulled out a small birthday cake after dinner. The look of indignation on his face when Sousuke wiped frosting on his nose.
That Hirofumi wanted to...
A burst of flame filled him. He felt like some animal had been released in his chest, sent to take control over his body.
Ripping his hands out of Haruka's he walked forward pushing him against the stone wall. Anger coursing through him as he thought about Hirofumi trying to take Haruka away from him, at Haruka willingly going off with Hirofumi.
Leaning over till he could look Haruka in the eyes he asked, "Do you want Hirofumi?"
The weight of his words like led in his chest as he searched Haruka's face. Wished for even a smidgen of what he had seen Tachibana do.
"I've never gone out with anyone before. So I was thinking why not. I mean it is not like anyone else has ever shown any real interest in me--"
Not wanting to hear anymore Sousuke closed the distance and pressed his mouth against Haruka's. A startled gasp against his lips before he felt them hesitantly began to move against his own.
Sousuke smiled against Haruka's mouth, hand slowly wrapping around his waist as Sousuke reached into that midnight colored hair, damp strands tangling in his fingers.
When Haruka moved back to breathe Sousuke followed, tongue slipping into Haruka's warm mouth tasting him for the first time.
He tasted sweet like a drink of water after being thirsty for too long.
Sousuke didn't know how long they stayed there, hidden in the slight alcove under the arch, as he slowly got Haruka used to kisses. But by the time he pulled away, cradling Haruka's face in his hand, both were out of breath.
A spray of flush darkened Haruka's cheeks, deeper than anything Hirofumi had ever caused on him.
Sousuke wondered how this had happened but at the same time could not imagine any other outcome. Like this was just how it had always been meant to be. Then he saw it. The slow smile that spread across Haruka's face, till even his eyes shined with happiness. It was the most beautiful things he had ever seen.
It was in that moment he promised himself he would do anything if only he could see it again. High on life he kissed that smiling mouth before Haruka moved in to burrow against Sousuke's chest, hiding his face even as his arms tightened around him.
Sousuke leaned his head against the soft hair. Haruka smelled of lavender shampoo and chlorine.
"I'll tell Hirofumi I am seeing some," he whispered in the space between them.
Sousuke took a taxi to the bridge.
The rain was falling in sheets now, a small river running along the sidewalk and down into the gutter. The taxi driver had insisted on giving him an umbrella he had in the car. Sousuke stood there now, watching the lightning strike in the distance. The sound of thunder was deafening. He could see the bridge Tachibana was talking about, but it was too far for him to make out if anyone had taken shelter there, let alone if that person was Haruka.
However, Tachibana had said he would be there, and if anyone knew Haruka it was his best friend. To this day no one could guess what Haruka was thinking like Makoto Tachibana.
Sousuke wished he could do the same. Then he would have a better idea on how to fix this, if he could know what Haruka was thinking right now. As it stood all he knew was that Haruka was wandering around the city at night in pain.
Thinking things that were the last thoughts Sousuke wanted him to have. That after all this time they had been together he had meant nothing. That Sousuke had been playing a cruel game with him. That two people close to him had betrayed him.
That all those times he whispered his adoration against Haruka's skin had been a lie.
Haruka had been the first person he had ever fallen in love with. While he had dated before none had drawn up even a tenth the emotion as Haruka Nanase had. But then again Haruka had always been someone special.
A future Olympian, an amazing artist, a talented cook. Haruka was good at so many things, had more future than a whole group of people put together. Even now there were times when Sousuke's inferiority would resurrect and he would feel a twinge of jealousy.
Haruka had everything he wanted. Why did he even want to be with Sousuke in the first place?
Then Haruka would do something, like carve a whale shark out of a piece of drift wood for him. Or he would catch him listening to the seashells he had brought from his last visit to Iwatobi. He would march his fingers up Sousuke's bare chest before going to sleep.
Even his pouts, dead pans, and even more silent treatment were endearing. The time he tried to fatten Sousuke up by making cake after cake because he saw someone ask him out.
Even when he was pissing him off he couldn't get enough of him.
Haruka was an oasis to him. The dream of so many wandering souls, but in what probably used up most of his luck Sousuke had found it. There was no way he was going to let him go.
They had been dating for almost a year. It was the longest relationship Sousuke had ever had. He watched through half closed eyes as Haruka sad up in the bed. A slice of sunlight coming in through the window to illuminate him perfectly in the shade of the room. He looked on silently as Haruka stretched out his sleep.
A trail of kiss marks on his back made Sousuke's heart swelled. Haruka had mentioned how he liked it when Sousuke marked him and Sousuke was all too happy to oblige.
Haruka always woke up early, and today was no different. The only change was instead of wandering off to soak in the tub he climbed on top of Sousuke to look him in the face. Staring at him, willing him to know what he was saying.
Haruka really was spoiled.
Rolling him over Sousuke got a quick kiss for his troubles before he stood up. It was already hot and he could only imagine how high the temperature would reach today.
"I know, I know," he said looking down at Haruka who was still lying down on the bed, sheet artfully draped across his hips. If Sousuke didn't know any better he would think Haruka staged it.
"We have to catch the bus by nine if we want to make it." Haruka reminded him as he sat up and reached for a pair of jammers he had left on the floor.
"Why are we going again?"
Haruka looked horrified, "Because it is a natural soda water spring!"
"You know it's probably not large enough for you to swim in."
"I know that," he looked really pained at the thought.
Sousuke laughed as he pushed Haruka back on the bed before heading to the bathroom.
It was the first time either of them had been hiking together and after some debate Sousuke was deemed in charge of the map. It was insanely hot and Sousuke didn't know if he would feel better in direct sunlight or under the muggy canopy of trees.
Haruka was on his third bottle of water. He had brought fifteen bottles with him, only five actually had water. The others were for the soda water he had been talking about for most of a month.
Pulling out the map Sousuke looked around, "I think it’s left."
"You think?" said Haruka and Sousuke could practically hear the sarcasm; he was getting better at reading him. Haruka’s hand twitched and Sousuke knew he was just itching to snatch the map out of his hand.
Looking down to where he thought they were than back up to the red "X" marked on the map.
"I'm sure," he said with confidence he didn't feel. It had been years since he had last been on a hike. He was probably a little rusty when it came to reading a map, not that he was going to show any weakness in front of Haruka. For all his love of dolphins he could be a shark when he smelled blood in the water.
Three hours later they were still walking. Haruka had one water bottle left that Sousuke had taken into custody.
"Are you sure you read that map right? Hirofumi said it should take two hours from the road."
Sousuke bristled at the mention of Hirofumi, he had never gotten over the almost data that never happened. Hirofumi had betrayed some unknown trust Sousuke had bestowed upon him and was never to be forgiving.
Too bad Haruka actually liked the guy and refused to drop him.
"Yes, I’m sure!"
"Then why are we going up the mountain? This spring should be in the valley."
"This is a short cut," insisted Sousuke as he looked up to the mountain they were currently scaling.
"Going up a mountain takes a lot of energy it would have been quicker to go around." While Haruka was a regular sailfish in the water he could be a real snail on land. At least he was still pretty to look at, Sousuke smiled at him causing Haruka to frown even more.
An hour later Haruka had lost all faith in Sousuke's ability to read a map. And Sousuke may or may not have lost faith in his ability to read a map as well. He had tried to placate Haruka with a granola bar, which he hated. Giving him back his last bottle of water seemed to work a little better.
He saw it then, a break in the trees up ahead. Without words the two began to speed up till they made it to the clearing. Sousuke smiled when he saw it and knew Haruka would not be unhappy when they got home even if they never made it to the soda spring.
Before them was a lake so large that Sousuke could hardly make out the opposite shore. Reflecting the clouds as they drifted lazily across the sky, it was pristine in a way he had never seen before. Sousuke wondered how long he could stare at it enjoying the view.
Then Haruka knocked him out of his reflection as he dropped all his things on the floor and made a b-line straight for the lake, running faster than Sousuke had ever seen him move on land. A trail of clothes following in his wake.
He dived in without a second thought and with renewed vigor began to swim far off into the lake.
Collecting Haruka's things as he walked over to the lake and sat on a rock he found.
"You swim every day," he yelled when Haruka surfaced some fifty meters out, "Can't you wait five minutes?"
"That’s completely different. This water is wild," Haruka called back as he began to float, "it's not the same as pool water."
Fifteen minutes later Haruka came back to Sousuke who was about to eat some lunch.
"Why don't you come in the water with me?" he asked rivets of water still sliding down his tone chest. Hair flat until he shook it out spraying water on everything including Sousuke.
"You know I can't swim anymore," said Sousuke still looking in the bag for his lunch.
Haruka looked off at the lake before looking back at Sousuke, his eyes as reflective as the water they so resembled. "You can't race anymore. But can't you swim?”
Sousuke's face hardened. Why couldn't Haruka get it? He couldn't swim. If it wasn't for racing...
"I haven't really tried since Samezuka."
"Do you think you might want to?" he was hopeful and Sousuke refused to look at him, "Just a little? I can help you if you need me too. I dragged Makoto through the water during a storm once, and he is almost as big as you."
"Why are you keeping this up?" He snapped as he found the sandwich crumpled at the bottom of his bag, it was barely recognizable.
"Because," Haruka collapsed on the dirt floor, he was reaching the limit of his ability to talk, "I want to swim with you."
Sousuke looked up past Haruka and out into the lake. It had returned to its placid state once more, the mountain's summit clearly reflected on its surface. There must have been a time when he had enjoyed swimming just for the sake of swimming. Before the Sano Swim Club when his family would take trips to the beach.
Without a word Sousuke stood up and began taking off his clothes. There was no way he was wearing wet underwear so he took those off too.
Haruka was staring up at him, eyes wide, before he stood a light blush on his cheeks that Sousuke was sure he would deny later. Walking over Haruka looked at him before placing a hand on his old injury, letting his palm rest over it, feeling the skin, before resting his forehead against the spot.
Sousuke shifted uncomfortable but Haruka's firm grip on his bicep stilled him. Without a word or even a glance up at Sousuke, Haruka placed a warm lingering kiss on his shoulder.
He could feel the heat on his face and looked away before Haruka could see it. Taking a deep breath he took Haruka's hand in his, pulling him to the lake.
Sousuke's heart was pounding.
When they were chest deep in water and Sousuke knew that any minute now he was going to be swimming again, he looked at Haruka.
His eyes were shining with a ghost of a smile. He was just too happy.
"If I drown in there my spirit is coming back to haunt you."
He was half way down the hill, still slipping and sliding in the wet grass and mud. The umbrella folded and left halfway down the hill (along with Haruka’s bag) when it turned out Sousuke needed his hand for balance more than holding an umbrella. He could hardly make out anything but gray in the rain but he headed down further making for the bridge, faith driving him.
Haruka had to be under there. If there was any sort of justice or fairness in the world he would be. His life just couldn't end like this.
Maybe he was being dramatic, but he really felt like he would die if Haruka didn't take him back. Didn't at least stop to hear him out instead of running away.
Yes, he knew Haruka didn't like to deal with stress and right now that is all Sousuke represented. But Haruka loved him. Sousuke knew that he did and he planned to use those feelings to his advantage.
If he could explain he was sure Haruka would forgive him. Or at least be willing to try and forgive him.
As he reached the bottom of the hill he walked along the litter covered river bank. The river rushing, but after the drought they had been having there was no threat of flood.
Lightning struck in the distant ocean and he saw a lone figure standing beneath the concrete structure, hidden away from the rain.
Damn the mud, thought Sousuke as he ran dashing through the soggy dirt and puddles of water. He must look a mess but none of that mattered.
"What are you doing here?" was a cold voice, devoid of all emotion. He had not even turned around to see who it was. But Haruka had always known when he was coming.
"I came to see you," he was panting and out of breath. The sound of the highways run off loud and echoing but Sousuke was determined to be heard.
"I don't want to see you." Haruka walked further away from him, till he was against the wall of rain. The ocean was in front of them crashing against the shore. It was louder here with waves and thunder mixing with the rain and river, cars rushed over head and the cacophony hurt his pounding headache.
"Fine. You don't have to look at me, but will you at least let me speak to you," he pleaded hands clenched into fists stopping himself for reaching out to Haruka.
He could see the tense shoulders, remembered rubbing them last night before Haruka went to sleep. His clothes were soaked through and lay on him like a second skin, shinny in the street light above the bridge, the way fabric sometimes gets. As he walked closer, slowly, he could see a trail of rain water coursing its way down his neck.
"I know what you read looks bad, but you have understand it’s not what you think." He was close enough now that he could see the way his back shuttered just slightly with every breath he took.
His silence was louder than the water, and Sousuke didn't even know if he was really listening to him. He could be just listening to the sound all around blocking Sousuke out. His life with Haruka could be ending as he spoke trying to cling on to it. Like a drowning man hanging on to a piece of floating wood.
His life was falling apart but he was too damn scared to reach out and hold Haruka. He couldn’t force him he knew, he could only hope that he would listen.
"'I just wanted to say Thanks again --'"
Sousuke stilled when he heard Haruka's voice, quiet and sharp as it sliced through the rain. His pulse stopped as he said those familiar words
"'---for keeping Haru busy for me while I am in Australia. Glad you had some fun too getting him ready for me.'"
Slowly he turned around too look up at him, even in the dark hardly there light of the underpass he could tell he was crying. The tears in his eyes clung to his lashes. Sousuke had never seen Haruka cry before, but like everything about him he cried silently. Even when he closed his eyes and his body shook he made no sound.
"I think...I know what you...mean." His voice punctuated by deep gasping breaths. "It makes sense now that I think about it," and he smiled a skeleton smile up at the bones of the bridge.
"You never liked me. Not even when we were kids. Not when we were in high school. So why kiss me when I was finally asked on a date? I was pretty confused when you showed up that day…at the pool." He wiped at his eyes and when Sousuke reached for him he dodged, taking a step back. "But Rin told me to give you a chance...about how great a guy you were. I believed him. Makoto so far now, Rin was gone, my friends were gone. My home was gone. I was alone, but at least with you I could remember them."
He gave a laugh before looking at Sousuke his face raw and broken before he closed his eyes clamping his mouth tight, willing Sousuke away, and trying to bottle up his feelings.
"Haru--" he reached out only for his hand to slapped aside.
"SHUT UP!" he voice echoed around them and Sousuke felt himself flinch at the look of anger that was on his face. It was like he had never even heard Haruka's voice until that moment. "You think I want to hear a single word you have say, why won’t you just shut up. You standing here looking at me like you think I would ever want to see you after what you did to me. I will never forgive you."
"Haruka if you would just let me speak for a minute."
"I don't want to hear you speak! How far do I have to go for you to realize that I don't want to see you? Can't you get the hint?"
"Please. Even if you never want to see me again just let me tell you want happened. Let me explain. If you have any feelings--"
"Don't talk to me about my feelings," he stormed off deeper under the bridge before whirling back around. "My feelings for you were always honest," as the acid came from his mouth Haruka shoved his hand into his pocket, took something out and threw it at Sousuke.
He caught the box and felt the blood drain from his face as he took it in. The soft velvet cover was too small to be a watch. With his stomach in knots he opened it to see a plain gold band.
"Don't you even doubt that my feelings were real." his voice was quiet and the fight had been drained out of him.
He was going to cry again.
"Don't doubt when I say I love you. I didn't when you said you wanted to be with me forever. Today was supposed to be special. I even made hamburger steak for you. I hate hamburger steak!"
"I was waiting for you to come out of the shower but Rin kept messaging you over and over again. So I…"
He was in front of him now, but Haruka was looking everywhere but at him. The box was cutting into his palm as he reached out with the other to hold the side of Haruka's face.
His touch drew Haruka out of himself and back to Sousuke where he needed him.
He stared, heart breaking as Haruka reached up grab his wrist, leaning against his palm only slightly. Like touching Sousuke, having Sousuke touch him, was something he wanted to hate.
When he finally looked up at Sousuke his eyes were both tired and wet. Shoving the ring into his pocket he used both his hands to cradle Haruka's face as he leaned his forehead against his.
Haruka's hand fisted in the front of his shirt, and he whispered.
"I wish I never read that message."
"I am glad you know," said Sousuke startling Haruka who pulled back but he didn't move away. He was listening to him now.
"Rin was supposed to tell you how he felt before he left for Australia. In April he called me and asked if I could make sure you didn't get a boyfriend until he came back. He was sure once you got one that you would never be "on the market" again. That is why I came to you in the first place.
His face showed no expression but Sousuke continued.
“Maybe it was because we were always together but before I knew it we were friends. Real friends. I wasn't just going to see you because of Rin. I was going to see you because I liked spending time with you. But then Hirofumi showed up...I could tell that you liked him. I could see it in the way you were close to him, and the way he made you blush." Sousuke shook his head remembering the confusion he had felt at the time. "You were going to go on date with him and I kept thinking about how happy he could make you. That Rin had a second chance at the World Aquatics Championships and still didn't take it. But then I realized something else,” and even as he felt his emotions welling up Sousuke just let it go. Like a sickness that had been festering in his heart since the beginning and pouring it out would cleanse him. "I would be miserable without you. That I could make you happier than Hirofumi could ever dream because I know you in a way he never could. That is why I kissed you.
"You said not to doubt your feelings. But even if you leave here today and never see me again, please believe that every time I said I loved you I meant it. I never held you under false pretenses."
"It may have started out wrong," his voice was quite but Haruka was touching him now, holding his shoulders as he looked up into Sousuke’s down turned face, his body against his. Sousuke reached out and pulled Haruka close, still marveled at how perfectly he fit against him. "But the only one I betrayed was Rin. I should have told him sooner but...I didn't want to lose him. But I never wanted to lose you either."
His breath was in Haruka's face and while he knew the other hated it he hoped he would forgive him.
"Yeah," he opened his eyes and felt his body relax all the knots and twists in his stomach and around his heart loosened at the hidden smile on Haruka’s face. Biting the inside of his cheek he collapses against Haruka. Letting the smaller man take the most of his weight but he just couldn't help it.
Thank God, he thought as his shoulders shook and his pain poured out of him like a river. Hands clutching too tight against Haruka as he just held him. He let Haruka sooth the worry and hurt that made his tongue taste like sour and his stomach burn.
"Sousuke," Haruka said again and Sousuke stood up straight to look down at him, face expressionless eyes brimming with emotion. He felt as Haruka wiped a tear form his cheek and he hated that he had cried.
"Yeah," he said again in a voice rough.
I don’t know if I should feel sorry or proud of this self-indulgent fic but who cares. I have no idea what Sousuke likes to eat.