Rin's heart was pounding. His arms were moving as fast as he could make them. The air in his lungs didn't feel like enough. His muscles didn't feel like they were pushing enough. His legs could move faster. Why wasn't he moving faster? His heart was going to pop out of his throat. The roaring in his ears. The water pushing past him. His eyes were bulging. The tile was so close. His fingers stretched out as far as he could possibly make them. And then...he touched it. He shot out of the water gasping, stared up at the board. His eyes were a flurry of names, fucking English the names and times were in fucking English and his was broken at best. His reading was abysmal but as he searched he knew he'd recognize his name, at least his name. There it was.
Rin Matsuoka….1st Place
He screamed. He cried. He pulled himself up out of the water. He found his closest teammate and composure be damned he hugged that guy so hard. The teammate, bless him really, hugged Rin back too. I did it dad, he was downright sobbing. I did it. Did you see? I've done it. I finished your dream. He pulled himself together and stepped aside to let the next round begin. A gold at the Olympics, he was vibrating with excitement, couldn't wait until the swimmers were awarded their medals. He watched supportively as the rest of the swim events came to an end. He graciously accepted his medal, smiled for all of the pictures and was packing his bag as soon as he got into the hotel room. He checked out of the hotel and headed for the airport, not ready for the hours up in the air but more than ready to land.
From the airport, Rin really only wanted to go to one place. But he knew first he had to make one more stop. So he climbed the hill in the dark with jet lag. When he reached the top he knelt at his father's grave.
"I did it dad," he set the medal onto the unforgiving stone. "Look, can you feel it? Did you see?" A tear slipped out of his left eye. "I finished dad, first place. Gold medal, I brought it to you." He smiled. "So dad, now I just, I have to ask you a favor," his voice was tremored as he fought to keep his tears from falling. "Is it ok, I mean, would it be alright, if I...if I followed my own dreams now?" His shoulders shook. "I love you so much. And I miss you, but dad, there's this guy," he looked up, the tree blocked the clear black night. "There's this guy dad and I think he's the one. And I put a lot on hold to do this, but...now that I have, can I be done? Please," he whispered.
He sat there for awhile in silence, until his phone rang. It was Gou.
"Hey sis," he answered and stood up.
"Rin I just woke up."
"It's late Gou," he smiled running his fingers through his hair.
"I know, I love you Rin." His breath caught.
"W-why did you call to tell me that?"
"I just, I don't know, I woke up and I had to talk to you."
"We talked a few hours ago Gou."
"I know, it makes no sense it's like one AM in Japan and I've already congratulated you and I have nothing else to say. I just, I woke up Rin and I had to call you. I love you brother," her voice was soft and reassuring. It was like clean sheets blowing in the wind and surrounding you in all the familiar comfort of home. "Are you happy Rin?"
"What?" he was caught off guard again.
"Are you happy? You won a gold medal a few hours ago," she laughed. "What am I talking about, jeez I must sound mental. Look like I said it's one AM here and I'm just going a little crazy. I'm going to go back to bed now ok?"
"Alright sis, have a good night. Love you."
"See you tomorrow," she yawned.
"See you tomorrow, Gou," he caught her just as she was about to hang up. "I'm happy," he said firmly. She smiled to herself and the siblings hung up. "Closer to her huh?" he smiled at his father's grave. He picked the gold medal up and set it in his backpack. He walked to the pier and sat on the edge. His legs dangled above the water. He kicked them back and forth.
"One AM," he said. "He won't be up for a few hours at least." A fish jumped in the bay. Rin smiled. Maybe he could be a fisherman. Actually, he might want to work at Coach Sasabe's swim club now. That actually sounded like a lot of fun. Something he'd feel good about. He sighed but it probably wouldn't work forever, not to support some sort of family. But it would get him on his feet when he didn't have a lot of other marketable skills.
Another fish jumped out of the bay. Time was passing slowly as Rin looked out at the dark sky. The sun was still hours from coming up. And yet fish after fish jumped out of the water. "I can't just go now," he said to the cold night. "It's a super unreasonable time for anyone to be awake." Still, the fish jumped. "Ok dad," he laughed and stood up. "I'll go and bug him at a crazy time of the night for ridiculous reasons and tell him my dad told me to," he rolled his eyes and started inland. He looked back at the water one more time, the fish were resting comfortably beneath the surface, he smiled.
He ran the familiar route to Haru's house. He took the steps up to Haru's home, he was giddy as he sprinted up. "Haru-chan, Haru-chan," he smiled and rapped the door loudly. Usually, he wouldn't be so rambunctious but it was late so he needed to make sure that he woke Haru up.
He waited as he heard the heavy footsteps on the stairs. He smiled widely and waited for the door to open. He was eager, dancing back and forth on his feet.
"Haru," he couldn't contain himself as the door opened and his friend was sleepily rubbing his eyes.
"Rin?" He cocked a head to the side. "What are you doing here?"
"I had to come and see you Haru." Rin grabbed his hands. "It's been so long, too long."
"Wait aren't you at the Olympics?"
"I was, but after it was over, as soon as it was over I had to come home. I had to come see you."
Haru finally looked like he wasn't half asleep anymore. "Rin, wait I should, um we should talk. Do you want to come inside?" Haru offered.
"I'd love to," Rin smiled brightly. He hovered around Haru, even when he stepped inside he didn't head straight to any room, just waited behind him to close the door.
"Here, the living room is clean," Haru walked in and Rin followed. When Haru sat Rin choose to sit right beside him, knees touching. "Rin I-"
"I did it Haru," Rin blurted out. "I finally fulfilled my dad's dream. And I'm so happy, I took the medal and showed it to him already. I think he's pretty proud. I hope so. But Haru," Rin bit his lip. "I loved swimming, I don't want you to think that I didn't. But for awhile, I've had my own dream."
"That's great Rin," Haru smiled, small but it still lit up Rin's heart.
"It's you Haru," Haru's eyes widened.
"Haru I love you," Rin said, desperate to finally get the words out before Haru could break his resolve. Haru's eyes were wide and his protests died on his lips. "Haru, I-I've spent years wanting to be with you. But with all the training and the distance, it wouldn't have been fair to either of us. But now, now I can be here, and wherever you want to go, I can go. I love you Haru and I want to stay with you forever, Haru, you're my new dream."
Rin leaned forwards and closed the space between them. Haru's pulse was racing. It was Rin, Rin was here, saying these wonderful things to him. Saying so many good things, he'd waited years to hear and yet. He put his hands on Rin's chest. Rin's eyes opened and hurt was clear in the ruby orbs. Haru stared back at him, his lip quivered.
"Rin I'm seeing someone," Haru whispered.
Rin fell back onto his knees involuntarily. Rin had thought of this moment going one hundred different ways. This hadn't been one of them. Seeing someone, Rin ran his fingers through his hair. Of course, Haru was. Rin was stupid to think that Haru might still be single.
"Ya, duh, sorry. I didn't even think there. Sorry Haru," Rin stood, his legs didn't want to but he forced himself to anyways.
"Rin please don't go," Haru grabbed his hand.
"I'm just, I should go see my family."
"It's late Rin, really late, just stay here, I have an extra futon and-"
"Haru," Rin whispered and met his eyes, the tears slipped down easily. "I can't," his voice broke Haru's heart. How was he supposed to know? How was Haru supposed to know Rin would finally show up and say what he'd been dying to hear.
"Hey, Haru was someone at the door?" Rin heard a voice he didn't know. His whole body went stiff and he pointedly looked away from the doorway he knew the man was standing at.
"Um, yes," Haru stood quickly. "Go back up to bed I just need to figure out where my friend Rin is going to stay tonight and-"
"Rin?" the guy suddenly sounded very awake. "Rin Matsuoka?" he came closer to Rin. Rin realized he was going to have to actually face the guy. He wiped his arm across his face and took a deep breath.
"Eh, um, Soma-kun," Haru started. "Rin's really tired and-"
"Haru I remember you talking about Rin, he's one of your closest friends. He should just stay here tonight with us." Rin stood and faced the guy. He smiled and extended his hand. The guy had unimpressive black hair that was completely matted at the bottom. It probably took him eons in the morning to comb it out.
"Thanks, I really appreciate it," Rin lied as they shook hands.
"Oh ya of course," the guy gushed animatedly. "Haru has a spare futon, I'll go get it out and maybe Haru can grab some sheets?"
"I don't have any clean ones I'll go grab some from Makoto," Haru left out the door before either of them could stop him.
"It's fine," Rin assured. "I have pants anyways. The futon itself will be more than enough," he nodded his head. "If you can just point me in the direction I can set it up myself."
"Oh sure, Haru and I have been trying to find a good place for it but for now," he climbed the stairs and Rin forced himself to follow. "It's just kept in the spare room closet."
"Oh what about Haru's swimsuits?" Rin asked.
The guy laughed. "I didn't know you knew where he kept stuff like that. Well, he had so many and since he wasn't on the swim club or anything we decided to get rid of a few."
Rin froze on the steps. "Haru's not on the swim team?"
"Well no, he quit after his first quarter in college. Decided to come back home, oh um wait," the guy called after Rin as Rin ran out of the house. He took the steps quickly down to Makoto's house. He knocked on the door.
"Who is that?" he heard Makoto's voice.
"Makoto what do I do?"
"Hang on Haru, I'll come right back," Makoto opened the door a minute later. "Rin," he crossed his arms in front of his chest. He didn't look pleased to see his old friend at all.
"Haru quit the swim team?" Rin asked ignoring the pang of hurt he felt at Makoto's angry eyes.
"You can talk about it with him later," Makoto said. "You should go stay somewhere else Rin. You can't just suddenly show up like this and barge into Haru's life and start complaining about things. You've confused him enough."
"Wait, Makoto please," Rin said.
"Why don't you stay with me tonight Rin, let Haru go home. Let him be with his boyfriend who he's actually happy with."
"I'm not trying to-"
"But you're hurting him anyways. You're getting in the way anyways. Let him go Rin."
Rin's eyes brimmed with tears. Like hell he was staying with Makoto. He backed away from the door and dodged the hand that tried to grab his wrist. "You only swim free Haru! You should always swim free," he yelled and hoped Haru heard him. With that, he bolted away from both of the houses he used to feel so welcome at. He ran to the only place he could think to go, the Iwatobi swim club. He tried all the doors but they were locked. Eventually, he decided to try the windows. The reasonably leveled ones were locked but one of the high ones creaked open as he stood on the dumpster to gain access. He went to the locker room, it had cold tile floor so he took some towels and curled up. He had nothing, no change of clothes, no phone, everything was left at Haru's place. He pulled one of the towels up over his head. He tried not to cry as he drifted off to sleep.
He woke up a few hours later and put the towels away, struggled but succeeded to climb out the window. He supposed he should go see his sister and mother now. He had started towards his house but went to the dock instead. It was probably around six or seven AM now and there were a lot more people out, especially around the dock. He found himself going back up to his father's grave. He leaned on the stone, feeling completely drained.
"He's with someone dad," he whispered to no one. "I waited too long. Haru is...gone."
Haru had taken off after Rin as soon as he had heard him yelling in front of Makoto's place. Rin still wanted Haru to swim. Soma had been the one to convince Haru to quit the swim team, that there were other more realistic things to focus on. Haru had let himself be persuaded. And yet here was Rin, showing up again out of the blue and reminding him what it meant to feel, what it meant to dream. To dream beyond swimming, to dream of a future. A future that right now Haru didn't see with Soma. Did he see that future with Rin?
As Haru left Makoto's house Makoto begged him to think rationally. He told Haru that a sudden and most likely brief reappearance from Rin wasn't worth the eleven months he'd spent with Soma. But Makoto didn't know. Haru knew. He could feel it in his gut. His future was with Rin. And he'd just have to be patient to see him tomorrow. Tonight though, Soma needed to pack his bags.
When the sun was high in the sky, probably around eleven, Rin woke up to the warm sensation on his face. He had slept beside his father's grave. He must have been more tired than he had originally realized to fall asleep out in the open. Thankfully his hometown was a wonderful place and he wasn't really missing anything. He stretched, feeling better but still broken. He would have to find a new dream, a dream without Haru. He didn't know if it existed but he owed it to himself to try. Maybe he could keep swimming for awhile. Say hello to Gou and his mom and then hop on a plane and go back to Australia. His coach had already told him multiple times that he should stay. But he had wanted Haru. He had wanted Haru so bad he ached for him. And now, maybe swimming would be the only thing to keep his mind off Haru. But how could it, the water was like the embodiment of Haru. Haru felt most at home in the water, and so Rin felt Haru the most in the water.
Well, whatever he did from here started with him walking down this hill. So he pushed himself up and headed down the hill. In town people waved and welcomed him home, some even congratulated him on his gold medal. He nodded and thanked them all, smiled and kept making his way towards his house.
"Rin's here," he heard his sister's excited voice as he was walking towards the door. "Rin!" she exclaimed as she burst out the door and into his arms. He hugged her back tightly.
"I've missed you Gou," he kissed the top of her head.
"I missed you too, I'm so proud of you Rin. Have you been to see father yet?"
"Ya, I showed him the medal and everything."
"He's so proud of you, he's so happy. I just know it," she unburied her head from his chest.
"Thanks, Gou. How's mom?" he started heading inside.
"She's good, we had an unexpected visitor this morning so she's begrudgingly entertaining."
"Oh, I can always kick them out when I get in," Rin smirked.
"She might need you to," Gou teased. "After all, he only really listens to you or Makoto." Rin froze.
"Wait who's here?"
"W-why does it matter?" she asked suddenly nervous.
"I just, there's someone I'm trying to avoid right now."
"Well it doesn't matter, you're not going to come home after being gone for months and not say hi to mom, she'll kill us both." Rin sighed, sadly his sister was right. He stepped into the house and sitting across from his mother at the table was Haru. He sighed, it would be fine, surely even Haru wouldn't be so bold as to talk about something so sensitive in front of his mother and sister.
"Hi mom," he smiled and went over to hug her. She held him for awhile and Gou and Haru sat silently, very patient. Together the four of them talked about Australia and the Olympics for hours, lunch came and went and as five o'clock came closer Gou and Rin's mother excused themselves to cooking in the kitchen. With a thin wall, but a wall nonetheless between them, Haru faced Rin.
"I broke up with Soma," he didn't waste any time.
"What?" Rin stared at him. "Haru I didn't ask you to do that."
"I know," Haru stared at him. "I did it because I wanted to," Haru looked at him. He shifted his eyes down and his hands fussed in his lap. "Rin, I I never knew you felt that way about me."
Rin sighed, "ya well...it wasn't exactly something I wanted you to know. I wasn't exactly in a place to date anyone at the time. I was completely dedicated to my dream."
"But now I'm, your dream?" Haru said the words hesitantly.
"Yes," he nodded quickly.
"Rin I-I've felt...I love you too, for a long time I've loved you. But I guess, I just got used to not having you. I figured that I would never have you so I gave up. But you're here now," Haru stared at him his blue eyes reflecting all of his emotions. They were deep and Rin could swim in them, Haru had probably tried in the past, Rin snickered to himself. "Do you want this Rin?"
"Of course," the answer was automatic. "I want you so much. Are you sure you want this? I mean you want me?" He was a bit timid and embarrassed, his cheeks a slight red and he could barely keep Haru's eyes.
Haru leaned forwards and planted a soft kiss on Rin's lips. The kiss was soft and gentle but it lingered. They pulled apart and Haru was smiling, he looked elated. Rin was grinning like an idiot.
"So," Rin grinned looking down. "Do you wanna, go out sometime?"
"Well I mean, you did tell me you loved me and all," Haru smiled and kissed him again softly.
"...Haru, can you...say it again?" Rin's cheeks were crimson.
"Yes Rin, I love you." Haru stared at him, unashamed and keeping his eye. Rin grinned and looked down.
"Well, then I guess I'll have to take you somewhere nice then. It's a special occasion after all." Rin shyly took Haru's hand in his own.
"I'll look forward to it. I should get home though, I have a big date tonight," he winked, stood and left the house. Rin smiled to himself and went to the kitchen to tell his family.