Hello! Welcome to my first Free! fanfic. Let me start off with a warning. This is NOT a happy fanfic. This deals with the harsh reality that is mental illness, eating disorders, negligence, isolation, worthlessness, and unfortunately, suicide. This is not to romanticize any of the things listed or anything else. Hopefully this will help raise awareness for these struggles that many people deal with every single day.

Because this is to create an impact from the harsh reality we live in, there will be triggers. Don't worry, I'll put them up before each chapter begins.

Trigger Warnings: mentions of not eating or lack of desire to eat, forced eating, mentions/thoughts of (implied) self harm, mild feelings and mentions of anxiety

Haruka was suspicious. He made sure his expression remained steady as he watched Makoto from the other side of the pool.

The Iwatobi swim team was at a "joint practice" with Samezuka- really, it was just a meet up for all the swimmers to have fun and celebrate. Sousuke was the only Samezuka student not swimming; after all, his shoulder injury won't let him. Not that Haruka cared. He was, to say the least, concerned for Makoto.

Makoto was acting differently. Haruka was able to pick up the change right away. The taller teen seemed more quiet, even withdrawn. His mind had also been... drifting. His thoughts seemed elsewhere, his head turned in a position that reminded Haruka a lot of himself. A few times, he'd had forgotten to be at the end of the lane, hand held out when Haruka finished his laps.

Maybe it was just the stress of getting into college, Haruka had deduced a while ago. Makoto was susceptible to letting anxiety get the better of him.


Haruka continued to watch his closest friend as he floated on the surface of the welcoming water, the aforementioned teen in the middle of giving Momotarou advice to improving his technique in the backstroke. He rolled his ocean-like eyes; how Makoto could put up with seemingly endless amounts of energy from one guy was beyond his comprehension. Then again, he lived with twins who demanded his attention every minute of the day.

Several hours passed when Rin finally decided it was time for his team to get out of the pool, suggesting the Iwatobi team do the same. Haruka lagged behind a little, enjoying the ripples the water made against his body. It'd be nice to just stay here, float into the welcoming and gentle arms of his-

"Haru-chan, time to go."

He could hear the smile and warmth before he actually saw it on his friend's face. Before he took hold of Makoto's hand, he grunted, "Drop the -chan."

"Sorry! C'mon Haru, the others are already changed. We're waiting for you." He just noticed Makoto wearing his normal attire. He sighed, silently apologizing to the water for leaving and making a promise to return again soon. He let Makoto pull him up and flashed another angelic smile.

Although he would never say it out loud, he treasured that smile.

After coming out of the locker rooms with a new pair of jammers underneath his shorts, Haruka met up not only with his teammates but with Rin and his relay team.

Which included Sousuke. He squinted at the much taller male before restoring his stoic expression.

"What are you four doing here?" Haruka asked. Rin flashed his shark-like teeth.

"Well, to continue our fun, I thought we could go out to eat. My treat," Rin announced. Suddenly, Nagisa was cheering about how Rin was his most favorite person on earth, and Momotarou begged for Gou to be invited as well (Rin only glared at him, ending that conversation before it could start again for the umpteenth time); everyone else was more civil.

Makoto, Haruka noted, was very civil. Quiet. It was a peculiar sight, his best friend so content with what was going on in front of him instead of trying to bring peace between his chicks like the mother hen he was. While it was nice not to have Makoto fussing over someone yet again, it was different from the usual.

Oh, never mind. He wasn't even watching the two boys in front of him glaring and Rei trying to shush Nagisa, face red with embarrassment. In fact, could Makoto even hear what was going on? Probably not; the wall seems particularly interesting today.

They all left for a café near Samezuka. It was small but still had plenty of people inside. Rin ordered drinks and had the others order what they wanted, finally paying.

Because it was slightly crowded inside, the two swim teams found tables outside. While they waited, Nagisa told jokes and had everyone listening. Even Makoto laughed at the jokes of the bubbly breaststroke swimmer, although he was just as intent on watching the sun slowly disappearing from the horizon, casting an orange tinge on everything it touched.

Everyone dug into their food once it arrived. Haruka was in the middle of his tuna sandwich (they didn't have mackerel) when he looked up. Of course, his eyes landed on Makoto.

They also landed on the barely touched bowl of green curry right in front of him.

"Makoto," Haruka forced out. Conversation ceased slightly, the silence interrupted only by Sousuke trying to stifle a belch. Maybe you should stop drinking so much Cola, you idiot, Haruka thought. He tried to force that thought out and looked into Makoto's eyes...

Why did they shift? Makoto's gaze was usually steady. Before he could begin to ponder his friend's behavior, Makoto smiled.

"Yes, Haru-chan?" he asked in a gentle tone. Although he couldn't be certain, Haruka detected a slight waver in the taller boy's voice. He glanced at the food, willing Makoto to understand what he meant. He ignored the others and hoped they could hear his thoughts to go back to talking like the peasants they are. "Oh. Sorry, Haru-chan. I wasn't hungry at the moment, and I guess I just spaced out," he said with a reassuring tone. He had a sincere look on his face, his eyes an exact match with his smile.

So why did it feel like he was lying? Before Haruka could think of anything else to say (like "Drop the -chan."), Makoto began to shove spoonfuls of curry in his mouth so quickly, the bowl was almost empty in a minute. For a moment, Makoto choked but forced it down. Haruka could actually see the strain of swallowing all that curry at once.

Hoping to lighten the mood, Rin ordered dessert for everyone except for Haruka and Sousuke, neither of them very fond of sweets. Nagisa and Rei shared a generously large slice of strawberry cake, Rin and Nitori nibbling at their sakuramochi, Momotarou shoving yōkan in his mouth, and Makoto...

Picked and smeared his chocolate cake. Maybe he really wasn't hungry, Haruka thought. He did eat the green curry too fast. However, before Haruka could do anything about it, Makoto ate and finished the cake in seconds, albeit slower than with the curry. After a large swallow of water, he excused himself to the bathroom.

"Haru-chan?" Nagisa had waited until the green-eyed teen left. "Haru-chan?" he repeated, making sure he had his old friend's attention. He hummed. "Is Mako-chan okay?"

There it was. He felt like it wasn't his right to answer that question, but of course, Makoto would be okay. Better than okay. He just didn't want anyone to worry about him; that was why he forced himself to eat the way he did, Haruka concluded.

"He's okay." I think. Haruka didn't say that out loud. In fact, Makoto returned to the table with a smile and wanted to help Rin pay. Of course, there was the constant back and forth of "I got this" and "Please, it's the least I could do."

Haruka made friends with the strangest people.

They all went their separate ways until it was just Haruka and Makoto walking home together on the boardwalk. The former watched as the ocean glistened in the moonlight, ripples forming into small waves that met the sand. Truly a beautiful sight. Haruka was glad he lived in Iwatobi; this scenery could not be bestowed on everyone.

He was also glad Makoto lived here.

Wait. Makoto?

Haruka turned back. Makoto had stopped walking by his side and was gazing at the ocean just as he was moments ago. His eyebrows knitted together, his forehead frowning like his lips.

"Makoto." The aforementioned teen didn't even give him a side glance. "Makoto," Haruka repeated with the tiniest bit of force. Makoto turned his head, almost surprised that he was being called.

"Eh? Haru? Is something wrong?"

Are you okay, Haruka thought. It was a simple question, one Makoto would be able to understand and answer with ease. He received a soothing smile from the taller teen.

"I'm fine, Haru."

Why did it feel like he was lying again, even though he was telling the truth? Makoto was a terrible liar and actor; Haruka would know when he wasn't telling the truth.

"We better go home before it gets too dark or cold, Haru-chan."

"Drop the -chan."

"I'm sorry! Sorry, sorry." Haruka rolled his eyes; Makoto never did change. Deep down, he may have preferred that more than anything. They continued to walk side by side, although Haruka noticed that he was the one who had to slow down this time because Makoto was the one taking steps in slow-motion, almost as is he was on the moon. Maybe that was where his thoughts were, too far away for Haruka to distinguish them.

Before they would separate at the stone steps, Haruka grabbed Makoto's wrist, keeping him in place for just a minute more.

"Haru?" The taller teen was confused. Haruka was not one for physical contact. He dived into his ocean-like eyes, deciphering every thought floating on the surface and sinking into their depths. They remained that way until Makoto found, You know you can tell me anything, right? He gave Haruka another reassuring smile. "Of course. You know me, Haru. Don't worry."

Haruka's grip loosened and Makoto's arm fell to his side. The smile reached his eyes as he turned around and went up the steps. Haruka let a small smile touch his lips as he observed his best friend. Perhaps he was feeling anxious about the future as well. The anxiety must have been fueling the distorted thoughts of Makoto. Of course, Makoto would talk to him when he needed to. Why wouldn't he?

Walking up the steps to his home, Haruka sighed. Maybe he should've invited Makoto over for the night, just to keep an-

No. Makoto was going to be an adult, and so was he. They both need to grow up and get used to the reality of the world they'll soon be thrown into. They can't always be together, no matter how hard they wished they could be.

Still full from eating at the café, Haruka got ready for bed. Just before he drifted off into unconscious oblivion, a lingering thought wormed its way into Haruka's mind. His wrist. What did that mean?

Then he jolted up in bed. Makoto's wrist felt swollen in certain spots- no, lines. They felt like welts or something. They were also a litte red.

Shit. Makoto...

Haruka was out of the bath before Makoto walked up the stone steps (of course, he stopped to play with the white stray cat). He was there to open the door when Makoto first rang the bell.

"Oh, Haru-chan?" Makoto was a little shocked, to say the least. Perhaps some sense was finally knocked into him that they could one day be late for his antics. Then he changed his mind seeing Haruka only wearing his jammers underneath the apron.

"Drop the -chan," the aforementioned teen responded instinctively. He gestured for Makoto to follow him into the kitchen. As Makoto knelt at the table, Haruka asked in a steady voice, "Why is your wrist scratched?" Even though his voice never faltered and his tone seemed disinterested, bored even, his heart had a mild ache, his brain buzzing.

Makoto's eyes widened and looked down at his right wrist. Haruka was right, it was scratched. The lines were vertical and some were red and slightly puffy, while the rest were scabs. His left wrist wasn't harmed. Makoto chuckled, leaving Haruka in a cloud of confusion for a moment.

"Must have been from playing with kittens and the twins all the time," Makoto answered with a smile pure and clean of lies. Whatever he saw in Haruka's face led him to ask, "What's wrong? What were you thinking, Haru?"

What was he thinking? He didn't know how he jumped to the conclusion that Makoto was... Well...

Never mind. It didn't matter anyway; Makoto wasn't doing it. Now that he thought about it, Makoto was right-handed. If he were actually doing it, he wouldn't do it on his right arm. He softly chuckled at his stupidity.

This was Tachibana Makoto, an angel sent by God himself for whatever reason. He would never do such a thing. He turned the stove off, finished grilling his mackerel for breakfast and lunch. He should really stop listening to Rin talk about American drama shows on TV.

"Doesn't matter," he finally answered, rather tersely in Makoto's opinion. Though, it was Haruka he was speaking with. He smiled.

"Well, hurry up or we'll be late even with the early start." Makoto stood up and went to go upstairs to spread out Haruka's uniform on his bed when he stopped and turned to the teen still in the kitchen, chewing his mackerel slowly. "I'm going to use your bathroom, okay?" Haruka hummed in response.

When it came to his favorite food, Haruka was a slow eater. However, he had finished his meal, packed his bento and was dressed in his uniform (jammers underneath, of course), and Makoto still didn't come out of the bathroom. Loosening his tie slightly, Haruka rapped on the door.

"Makoto?" SIlence. He pressed his ear against the door, trying to hear his closest friend's movements...

When the door suddenly flew open. Haruka lost his support and fell into Makoto's chest.

"Eh, Haru-chan! I'm sorry I took so long. Now we'll probably be late because of me!" Makoto cried out. Haruka only patted his arm, signaling all was fine. They silently left Haruka's home and began their walk to school.

They had also made it to class with a few minutes to spare.