i promised myself i would get this chapter out before january ends, so here it is!
When Haruka awoke that morning, he could smell something from the kitchen. He realized it was breakfast cooking, and there was a sizzling sound as well. Who was making breakfast in his home?
Then he remembered that Rin didn't leave before he fell asleep. Stretching his arms and back, Haruka realized it was the first time in so long that he hadn't slept in such an odd position. He quietly folded the blanket that Rin must have covered him with before standing and getting up, heading for the kitchen.
"Oh, good morning, Haru. Did you sleep okay?" Rin asked, in the middle of frying eggs. Haruka nodded, rubbing his eyes.
"Where's Makoto?" he asked.
"Last I checked, still asleep. Wake him for me, I'm almost finished with breakfast," Rin said. Haruka nodded and left. Sure enough, Makoto was still asleep. The young man gently shook Makoto's shoulder.
"Makoto, time to get up. Rin's making breakfast. Let's go eat," he whispered. Slowly, Makoto's eyes opened and, for a rare moment, landed on Haruka's face, but only for a second. Then they left and Makoto laughed. Haruka smiled and helped Makoto out of bed.
"Haru, is this enough for Makoto?" Rin asked, holding a plate of scrambled eggs he had made separately, two slices of bread, and a banana. The raven nodded.
"Just mash the banana a little. We'll be there in a bit," he said, carrying Makoto to his wheelchair. Rin left for only a moment before returning to help. "You don't have to help me."
"Don't act like you're invincible. Aren't I right, Makoto?" the redhead asked the brunet. Makoto giggled, and Rin smirked. "See? He agrees with me as well. He still knows you." Haruka rolled his eyes but felt warmth blooming in his chest. They carefully set Makoto down on the chair and took off the brakes. Before Haruka could take his place behind Makoto, Rin pushed the wheelchair slowly. "Geez, why is this chair so heavy?"
"Makoto is a big man. You know this," Haruka teased, a faint smile tugging his lips. Rin stuck out his tongue but laughed anyway.
Rin served them all breakfast. He took Haruka's advice and the banana was all mushy and soft, easy for Makoto to swallow. They ate quietly. Haruka appreciated the silence. He and Makoto used to have mornings like this, having their silent conversations while they ate, too early to actually make noise and speak. It was always perfect.
Rin was the first to finish and the first to speak since they began to eat. "Haru, I need to tell you something. But you have to promise me you won't freak out."
Swallowing the small bite of mackerel in his mouth, the raven nodded. He helped Makoto bring the scrambled eggs to his mouth, but Rin knew he was listening. He took a deep breath. This wasn't supposed to be so nerve-wracking.
"Alright. So, um, Haru... you know how last night you told me about your financial issues?" Haruka nodded, a suspicious look in his eyes. "Well, I may or may not have... sent a message to all my followers about your situation and... started a fundraiser for you and Makoto," Rin rushed to the end of what he planned to say.
The silence was uncomfortable but not as much as Haruka's glare. Rin squirmed in his seat. Even after all this time, Haruka's quiet nature still unnerved him slightly.
The older man stood up and left the kitchen. Makoto cooed and tried to reach for a slice of bread. Rin handed it to him and watched the brunet nibble on it. The redhead smiled. Makoto had not changed since the last time he had seen him. Just as happy and sweet.
Haruka found his phone in the bedroom. He was bombarded with notifications. Clicking on one, he made his way to Rin's page. His most recent post was eight hours ago, an hour after midnight. Haruka groaned and began to read the post.
"Alright, so most of you know I'm friends with Nanase Haruka. Several months ago, he and Tachibana Makoto left the swimming world, but not because they wanted to or happened to retire. They got into a car accident that has really impacted their lives. Haru needs as much help as possible to take care of Makoto, he just won't admit to it. Please donate what you can. Thank you."
Below the post was a link that said "SUPPORT NANASE HARUKA AND TACHIBANA MAKOTO." In Rin's post, he doesn't even tag Haruka. It was all the comments of their fans who tagged him in hopes of seeing the original posts and their own. Hesitating slightly, Haruka clicked the link. No one could have actually...
The page finished loading and Haruka scrolled through what was surely three or more paragraphs of what he had told Rin. At the bottom was the about of money already donated.
Over ten billion yen. And rising.
Haruka wanted to scream. He escaped the bedroom and returned to the kitchen.
"Please don't be angry. I just thought it'd be a good idea for you two," Rin said the moment Haruka returned. Then he jumped when slender arms wrapped around him. The butterfly swimmer smiled and returned the hug. "Are we cool?"
"You could have at least told me before you decided to tell the whole world about it. My phone is lagging with all the messages of support, Haruka said with a gentle smile on his face.
"Aaaaooo?" Makoto mumbled, his head falling to the right. Makoto knelt down and held one of the brunet's hands. He didn't jerk away.
"Makoto, we might be able to move into a new home very soon. And maybe then I can afford to take better care of you. Please understand," Haruka said, adding the last part in a wistful whisper.
Although his eyes weren't on his fiancé, the green went from cloudy to the vibrant color that they usually were. Makoto cheered, giggling as Therapy Cat rubbed her head against his chest.
And that was all Haruka needed to know that Makoto was happy with the news.
"Thank you so much for helping me back, you guys," Haruka said, folding his jammers and packing them into an almost full box. Kisumi rolled his eyes, carrying two small boxes in his arms.
"Stop thanking us already, it's not big deal," the pink-haired man said. He gently kicked Asahi's behind, the redhead jumping up from his crouching position and accidentally scaring away the white feline that he was playing with.
"Hey! Don't do that!" Asahi whirled around and scolded his boyfriend, who was giggling at his reaction. As Kisumi walked away, Asahi smiled at the former swimmer. "He's right, you know. It's the least we could do to help you move to your new apartment, Haru."
"Really though, it means a lot to me," Haruka said, a soft smile on his lips. He began to fold Makoto's clothing and packing it into a separate box. "I've just had so much on my mind. It hasn't even been that long since Rin made that post. What is it now, two weeks?"
"You can't remember how long it's been, Haru?" Asahi teased, stacking boxes on the dolly.
"Like I said, a lot on my mind," the former swimmer simply stated before closing the box's flaps with tape.
"Yeah, Asahi, don't make fun of him. Haru has a lot to think about," Kisumi said, placing the boxes he carried on top of Asahi's.
"Hey, why do you say that for Haru and not me?" the redhead asked. Kisumi chuckled behind his hand.
"Because you don't think a lot," the other man joked. Asahi jumped onto his back and tried to mess up his hair. Haruka's smile widened slightly. Then it fell when his phone went off.
"Hello, Rei?" he said a bit too quickly. Haruka sat cross-legged as he waited for the man on the other side of the line to speak.
"Good morning, Haruka-senpai. Are you doing alright with packing? Are you okay?" Rei reworded his question after a short pause.
"Um, I think I'm doing alright. Packing's going well," Haruka informed the other.
"He's the good kind of quiet. I think he's saying his goodbyes to this apartment before we go. It has been our home since university."
"Alright. I'll leave you to finish packing. Nagisa and I will visit you at your new apartment tomorrow to help unpack what you need. Is that fine with you?"
"Sure. It's fine with Makoto, too. Bye, Rei."
"Bye, Haruka-senpai." Rei hung up the next second.
"Now, are you two done being fools or do I have to carry all these boxes down myself?" Haruka said over his shoulder to the couple still playing around. Asahi scratched the back of his neck and smiled sheepishly. Kisumi nodded.
"We're done. We better hurry up if we want to leave before noon."
This was the first time since they had gotten out of the hospital. Kisumi was driving. Kisumi was a fantastic driver. He has never had an accident before. He knew what to do, always. But still, even with all those thoughts of encouragement...
Haruka took a deep breath. It was just a car. It's Kisumi's car. It was just a fucking car.
He couldn't do this. Haruka tugged on his hat all the way down until it covered most of his face. He was slowly suffocating on blood, his skin tightened as his nerves tingled and pricked.
"Haru?" a soft voice called out to him. One blue eye peaked out from under his hat. Kisumi had a gentle, understanding smile on his face. "I promise, I vow to drive as safe as humanly possible. I won't ever let anything like that happen again, not on my watch."
"Thank you, Kisumi," Haruka said through pants. "Just give me a moment. Make sure the inside is warm for Makoto." Kisumi nodded and entered the car, sitting in the driver's seat. Makoto was in the back, his wheelchair folded in the trunk. Therapy Cat claimed her place on the passenger seat. Rin was using his car as transport for the boxes. Asahi and Sousuke were helping as well.
Haruka leaned against the stair railings. It felt like centuries since he last sat in a car. He was exhausted.
This had to stop. He couldn't walk everywhere forever, not when it could put Makoto to risk.
Taking several large gulps of breath, Haruka made his way to Kisumi's car and opened it. He sighed when the warmth of the car engulfed him. He scooted as close to Makoto as possible.
"Ready, you two? Uh, I mean, three?" Kisumi added, chuckling when the small cat yowled for recognition. Haruka nodded. The car slowly pulled away from the building and out of the parking lot. His heart was leaping out of his chest but everything was... okay, so far.
"Aaauu?" Makoto gurgled out. Haruka sighed and removed the glove from his right hand. His fingers were cold but he still wanted to hold Makoto's hand. He smiled when he felt the muscles loosen and the brunet's fist opened up.
"Thank you, Makoto. I love you," Haruka whispered. Makoto's grip tightened around his fingers and, for just a moment, everything was normal. Life was how it was before.
Haruka was about to let go when Makoto suddenly brought the pale hand to his lips. It wasn't a proper kiss but it was real and enough. The former swimmer shuddered, covering his mouth with his other hand.
"Haru, are you okay? Do I need to stop?" Kisumi asked, looking through the rearview mirror with a concerned expression.
"No, I'm fine. Just be careful," Haruka reassured, shaking his head. Maybe everything would be okay.
probably one more chapter after this. it'll be a happy ending. or, at least, a happier ending than haru would have let himself believe.