Chapter 1: Light it Up
“Mako-chan, Haru-chan, let’s go on a triple date!”
Makoto once again wonders just how Rei can sound so exasperated and yet love Nagisa as much as he does. In fact, Makoto probably would have asked if he wasn’t so afraid of finding out, because Nagisa tends to overshare quite a bit, and Rei in turn ends up talking about him with eyes and voice full of love.
“I don’t…” This is not how Makoto had planned on starting his Friday at school. He was supposed to focus on school, keeping his mind from drifting to Sousuke and seeing him again for their joint practice.
Now… Now though, all Makoto can think of is Sousuke, of going on dates and kissing Sousuke, and…
There’s a hand in front of his face, waving back and forth, attempting to gain his attention.
Makoto blinks, rapidly, then closes his mouth shut with an audible snap. Haru is looking at him, trying to convey his thoughts through looks rather than actual words, but Makoto is struggling to understand him.
He really isn’t awake enough for this, having stayed up too late the previous night talking with Sousuke.
“What was the question again?”
“Let’s go on a date tomorrow! Us, Rin-chan and Sou-chan!” Nagisa seems to be unconcerned with Makoto’s lack of attention. “Haru-chan doesn’t wanna go with us but I’m sure he will now that you’re going!”
“Nagisa, I haven’t…”
“You can tell Sou-chan about it at practice later today!”
Then the blond whirlwind grabs Rei’s hand and drags him off to class before Makoto can reply, and so he is left to stare after them. Looking at Haru doesn’t help; his friend just shrugs and walks off towards their classroom.
Focusing on school is hard.
Then lunchtime rolls around, and they get together with Gou on the roof to eat their lunch.
Nagisa starts throwing out ideas for the date, talking excitedly with Gou about what they can do and where they can go.
Makoto zones out, and Haru eats his mackerel in peace, as he does every other day, except Makoto more and more frequently sees Haru smile down at his phone from time to time, and it makes Makoto happy for him and Rin.
“Then it’s settled!”
“What is?” Makoto asks, confused at Nagisa’s delighted voice. Gou just looks at him until he feels the need to squirm under her gaze.
“The date?” Rei kind of, sort of asks, and he actually sounds worried for Makoto. Which, fine, he can understand. The day’s barely half done and he doesn’t quite act or feel like himself today.
“Oh. Good,” he replies, smiling at his friends. He’ll just have to ask Haru about the details after, if Haru even paid enough attention himself.
There are butterflies in Makoto’s stomach, and the closer they get to Samezuka - the closer they get to Sousuke - the more the feeling intensifies.
It makes him feel like a lovesick fool.
They went on their first official date on Wednesday, which means it’s barely been two days since they last saw one another, and they had spend the previous talking, so he has absolutely no reason to react like this.
And yet, when they enter the locker room, Sousuke is there, already changed and dripping wet from his pre-pool shower and Makoto’s mouth is watering at the sight.
He tries to tell himself that this is not the time for such thoughts, but when Sousuke looks over and their eyes meet, it makes it impossible.
Then, thankfully, Nagisa calls out to Sousuke and the spell is broken.
While Nagisa engages Sousuke, talking about their plans for Saturday night, Makoto gets changed before taking a - rather cold - shower.
By the time he is done, Sousuke looks just as confused as Makoto had felt earlier in the day, and he’s oddly grateful that Nagisa had that effect on even someone as (outwardly) stoic as Sousuke.
“Uhm, did you catch any of that?” Makoto asks Sousuke. “Because I didn’t at lunch and seeing as we’re going tomorrow…”
He trails off as Sousuke just blinks at him in return, and Makoto can’t help but laugh.
“I’ll ask Rei for the details and let you know. But you should probably come join us before Rin has a reason to come looking for you.” When Sousuke still doesn’t react, Makoto takes him by the hand and pulls him into the pool area.
“Nagisa, I think you broke him,” he tells his friend once Nagisa’s made his way back over to them after talking with Rin - probably about the plans for the next night. When Nagisa at first glances back at Rin, Makoto can see that even Rin seems a bit out of it, he can’t stop the laugh bubbling up. “Next time I think you should let Rei do the talking.”
Okay, maybe Makoto should have chosen his words more carefully, because now Nagisa seems to think this will become a regular occurrence and there is way too much glee in his voice.
Not really sure of what to say to that, Makoto instead drags Sousuke over to the side to warm up, as his boyfriend finally seems to be coming back to himself.
“I don’t know what to wear!” Makoto shouts at Haru, who doesn’t even flinch at the volume and lack of a proper greeting. How Haru can look this unphased, Makoto will never understand, but that’s not what’s important right now.
No, finding something to wear to their date is. Makoto wants to be casual, but still dress nicely. He doesn’t want to dress too warmly as the bonfire will heat him up, but he still wants to wear enough he’ll not catch a cold.
Makoto follows Haru into his own room, clothes strewn across the bed, desk and floor. Haru’s only reaction to this is a slightly raised eyebrow as he looks over his shoulder at Makoto.
“You’ve been on a date before, right?”
“Well, yeah, but this is different somehow. I don’t know why, it just is.”
Haru sighs (the sigh that Makoto knows is accompanied by a roll of his eyes) as he turns away to look at the clothes covering almost every surface. Then he points towards a green cardigan and a blue t-shirt with white stripes.
It seems Haru thinks the crisis is averted, so he turns around to leave but stops as he reaches the threshold.
“You’re not the only one nervous about tonight,” Haru says, reluctantly, as though it pains him to talk about it. “Rin texted me, saying Yamazaki’s acting the same way you are.” And with that he’s gone, leaving Makoto stunned, surrounded by what looks like a battlefield compared to the usual tidiness of his room.
The doorbell rings, but before Makoto can reach it, the twins have already opened the door.
“Haru!” They chorus, throwing themselves at him, completely ignoring the other two who arrived with him.
Because Haru is like an honorary brother to them, he hugs them back.
Makoto looks at Sousuke, noticing the flash of surprise at the display but it’s gone when Sousuke looks back at him, replaced by a smile that warms Makoto and leaves him unable not to smile in return.
The twins seems to finally have notices Haru’s not alone, asking him who they are and what they’re doing here and if they can’t hang out pretty please?
Haru ruffles their hair, then introduces Rin first, telling them they went to school together for a short time before Rin moved to Australia to get better at swimming (which makes the twins look at him in awe), and there’s a warmth in his voice as he speaks, which is usually only reserved for water and mackerel. When it comes to introducing Sousuke, he simply says he is a friend of Rin’s who recently moved here, and the warmth is once again gone from his voice.
Makoto, Sousuke and Rin picks up on the change, but luckily the twins don’t.
“Whoa! You’re as tall as onii-chan,” Ren says.
“I bet he is taller,” Ran retorts, and then before Makoto knows what’s happened, he is standing back to back with Sousuke, while the twins stare at them, trying to figure out which one of them is tallest - which isn’t easy from their vantage point, even when they’re standing on their tiptoes.
It’s only when his mom enters the room, gently shooing the twins away to return to their card game that Makoto realises that Sousuke is meeting his family , and they don’t even know he is Makoto’s boyfriend .
He thinks his parents knows that he’s gay (he remembers having The Talk with his parents and them not using any gendered pronouns, and he used to be rather clingy when it came to Haru when they were younger), but it’s never been brought up.
His mother has met Rin after he came back, remembered him from way back when, so she immediately guesses correctly when it comes to Sousuke.
“Good to see you again Rin! Makoto tells me you’re the captain now! I’m sure you’re wonderful at it.” Then she turns to Sousuke. “And you must be the one who steals my boy for the weekends.”
Sousuke can do nothing but gape at her for a moment, until Rin elbows him in the side.
“It’s nice to meet you Mrs. Tachibana. Makoto talks about all of you a lot.”
“Oh, Makoto talks about you almost all the time, I feel like I know you already!” His mother beams at Sousuke, while Makoto just wants to find a hole to vanish into. Maybe he can convince Nagisa to dig a hole for him at the beach - if he even makes it that far without combusting from embarrassment.
And then his father enters the room as well, wondering why his wife hasn’t returned to play cards, and Makoto considers just making a run for it.
So introductions are made for the third time in mere minutes, and Rin is now openly sniggering at Sousuke’s look of mortification over meeting his boyfriend’s parents without them knowing while also trying to act like this is a perfectly normal situation.
The saving grace comes in form of Haru, which makes Makoto relieved and also a bit surprised as Haru usually makes it clear he’s no fan of Sousuke.
“I’m sorry, but we need to get going. Rei and Nagisa are waiting for us. It was nice seeing you again.”
Ren and Ran comes running into the room at that, telling Haru they wish he’d come over more often and that he should come over for dinner again soon. Then they add that they’ve become better at playing Go Fish and that they will definitely beat him the next time.
“I’ll hold you to it,” Haru says, laughter in his voice as he once again ruffles their hair.
Makoto puts on his shoes and grabs the cooler he was responsible for and then they’re out the door, his family telling them to have fun and be careful.
“We hope to see you again Sousuke,” his mom calls out, and Makoto hopes there’s enough of a distance between them so that she won’t see their matching blushes.
Since Rin and Haru actually knows where they’re meeting up, Sousuke and Makoto ends up walking behind them through the narrow streets and paths, so Makoto sneaks a kiss from him.
“Hey you,” he whispers. “I hope it wasn’t too embarrassing for you. Meeting them like that, I mean. If I’d known…”
“Makoto, it’s okay. It’ll only make it easier the next time, right?”
“Well, we’re dating aren’t we? Which means I’ll get to come over to your place, and then - when you’re ready - be properly introduced to them.”
Looking around, he sees the streets are almost deserted, which gives Makoto the courage to reach out and hold his hand. In return, Sousuke squeezes it and it fills Makoto with a sense of belonging.
“Besides, I don’t think your mom will forgive you if you don’t bring me back again.”
When they (finally) make it to the beach, they easily spot Rein and Nagisa, as they already have a fire going.
They waste no time unpacking their coolers so they can get started on grilling their food. To no one’s surprise, Haru’s cooler is filled with nothing but mackerel. Nagisa and Rei’s is filled with hotdogs and corn-on-the-cob, while Makoto made sure to be a bit more inventive, bringing skewers with marinated chicken and veggies.
All of them brough at least one bag of marshmallows each (Nagisa brough three just for himself), and as a bonus fun treat, Nagisa got them all sparklers.
As mackerel fillets aren’t exactly easy to grill over a bonfire, Haru has also made sure to bring a couple disposable grills, which he quickly light up so he can get started on his own food, as no one else is keen on eating it.
Not that Haru minds, because it’ll only mean more food for him, but Makoto suspects Rin will sneak pieces off of his plate later on.
The rest of them take turns around the fire, eating when their food his hot, then taking over while the others eat and it doesn’t take long before all the food is gone.
Sousuke and Rin were in charge of beverage, and it had - luckily - been decided early on that they’d not have any alcohol, so their coolers are filled to the brim with water and a various array of sodas.
Because they all knew they’d be having dinner together, it’s been some hours since they’d last eaten, so it’s no wonder the food’s gone as soon as it’s been cooked through, and the bags of marshmallows are quickly torn open to be devoured straight out of the bags as well as hot and sticky.
While they eat, they stay silent, but once they’re done, Nagisa starts insisting they play Spin the Bottle, only to quickly find out (to Makoto’s obvious relief) that spinning a bottle on the sand is far from easy.
But then Rei brings up the time they got stranded on the island during practice the year before and Makoto visibly stiffens.
Luckily both Sousuke and Haru notices, and it seems a split-second decision is made between them.
“How about a game of tag?” Sousuke asks as he gets to his feet, pulling Makoto up with him.
Nagisa lets out a whoop, smacks Rei on the ass, shouts “you’re it!” and then he is off like the little whirlwind he is, kicking up sand in his wake.
They all scatter at once, flying off in various directions and Rei shoots after Nagisa at once.
The beach is filled with the sounds of laughter overlapping the waves and the cries of gulls.
Rei is the fastest, but Rin and Makoto makes up for it in stamina, and Nagisa seems to have no limits to his energy. Haru manages to avoid being caught as he keeps himself in the water, the sea lapping at his knees. No one else ventures into the sea, for fear of catching a cold should they fall in.
When it’s Sousuke’s turn, he quickly singles out Makoto, managing to catch his ankle as he throws himself forward, making Makoto go down with him. They grin at one another, then Sousuke quickly moves so he’s straddling him, looking into Makoto’s eyes for confirmation before kissing him deeply.
Makoto forgets everything and everyone else around him, hands moving to cradle Sousuke’s face as the kiss deepens. Kissing Sousuke feels so good, and he can’t help but let out a moan.
Then sand hits Sousuke’s back, trailing down onto Makoto and they look up to see Rin looking down at them, faux disgust on his face but laughter makes his eyes shine.
Sousuke reaches out to smack Rin, and ends up grabbing his ankle, pulling his feet away from under him. Then he quickly jumps to his feet, pulling Makoto up after Makoto claps Rin on his knee in order to tag him.
In the end, Rin’s had enough of Haru taking the easy way out, so he tackles him into the ocean, sharp teeth glinting behind his wide grin.
It’s easy to see Haru hadn’t expected him to do it, his eyes go wide as Rin’s body collide with his and they go under.
When they emerge, Haru is laughing and Rin can’t resist kissing him.
They join the others around the bonfire, shivering and Rin quickly gets his backpack.
“I brought towels,” he shrugs when Sousuke looks at him. “Precaution of going near the ocean with Haru.”
“Tell me about it,” Makoto says dryly and holds up his own bag. Everyone burst out laughing at this, and even Haru can’t help but join in.
Rin and Haru huddle up beneath three layers of towels while the others light up some sparklers.
Nagisa is still full of energy, so he starts running around with two in each hand, waving them about, drawing fading patterns against the backdrop of the starlit sky.
They end up taking turn on drawing patterns, leaving it up to the other part of their couple to guess what they’re drawing. Some are easy (like Haru’s mackerel), while others (Nagisa’s rockhopper penguin) leaves them confused.
It winds down after that, and they just sit around the dying bonfire, talking amongst themselves.
Makoto feels himself growing cold, but he is having too much fun with his friends to speak up about it, because that would mean going home. He tries to suppress a shiver, but it’s unsuccessful.
“Are you cold?” Sousuke whispers into his ear, coming up behind him and sending shivers down his back for entirely different reasons, warming him up inside for a moment, before it all rushes south.
“Not if you keep that up,” he whispers in return, watching a faint shade of pink colour Sousuke’s face. “But yes, a bit. I forgot my jacket at home.”
“Here,” Sousuke says, removing his Samezuka jacket and draping it over Makoto’s shoulder.
Makoto looks at him in stunned silence for a while, before speaking up again.
“Won’t you be cold then?”
“I’ll be fine; I can just snuggle up to you,” Sousuke retorts with a wink, and Makoto can feel a blush creep up on his own face, so he hides it in Sousuke’s shoulder, breathing in the scent of smoke, saltwater and something undeniably Sousuke.
As he leans in to kiss Sousuke, Makoto thinks he’s never been this happy in his life.
Chapter 2: Brave Enough
To Sousuke: I’m telling my parents today. About us.
To Sousuke: Is that okay with you?
Makoto comes out to his parents
The bits in italic are outtakes from the first chapter that takes part after that chapter ended but before this one
When school starts again after the weekend, Makoto is running late.
He grabs the first clean pieces of his uniform he finds, then throws on a jacket, not even bothering to consider if it’ll be warm enough as he runs out the door.
Mind racing, he puts it on as he runs towards school, worried about what Haru thought when Makoto wasn’t there to greet him as usual.
Then he almost stops as he considers that maybe Haru’s still in the tub, that not showing up means Haru will miss school.
But then Makoto sees Haru ahead of him as he reaches the gates of the school, and he slows down to a jog.
When he catches up to Haru, his best friend gives him a weird look but Makoto shrugs it off, thinking it’s because Makoto is the one who’s running late for once, and not because of Haru this time.
When they get inside however, Makoto receives weird looks and when Nagisa sees them…
“ Keep it,” Sousuke says as he and Rin walks Haru and Makoto home that night. Not that Rin’s going back to Samezuka with Sousuke, but still…
“Won’t you freeze?” Makoto asks, not wanting his boyfriend to catch a cold because of him.
“I’ll just take Rin’s,” Sousuke replies, then adds in a louder voice “it’s not like he’ll need it himself!”
A middle finger is the only reply they get.
Now, Nagisa knows Makoto is dating Sousuke. Nagisa knows they’ve had sex. But apparently, something is causing him to grin at Makoto in what he considers a truly terrifying grin that he is sure will leave him suffering from nightmares.
Makoto looks down at himself and then he understands.
There he sees the black fabric, the red zipper and the Samezuka Academy logo. Shit .
Makoto knows he is blushing, knows that now people will talk, that he can’t find a way out of this mess, that…
He’ll need to talk to his parents as soon as he gets home.
Preferably before that, because people talk and this will likely spread like wildfire in a town this small. And Makoto really wants to tell his parents about him and Sousuke himself. Not to have them hear it from someone who heard it from someone else and so on and so forth.
But he can’t very well skip school to tell them either.
Thankfully Haru drags him out of his spiraling thoughts, keeps him from getting late to class.
Makoto stuffs the jacket into his bag, knowing it won’t help the whispering or the constant looks that leaves the teachers feeling confused.
As soon as lunch break starts, he calls his mom to let her know he has something he wants to talk to her and dad about. He ensures her that there’s nothing to worry about, that she should just focus on her work, everything’s fine, he just needed her to know.
She worries, because of course she does, she’s his mother.
Makoto tries his best to keep his voice level but it’s hard when he doesn’t want her to hear it from anyone else. But he can’t very well tell her over the phone either, because it would feel wrong to let her know like that.
“Just… Don’t listen to what anyone says today, okay mom?”
“Okay sweetie.” The worry in her voice makes him feel like he’s done something wrong.
But then Haru steps in again, taking over the phone and doing his best to calm her down. He mostly repeats Makoto’s own words, but it seems to help her. She’ll still be unable to think about anything else the rest of the day, Makoto knows that very well, but he’s done his best.
At least he hopes so.
Once the call ends, he texts Sousuke.
To Sousuke: I’m telling my parents today. About us.
To Sousuke: Is that okay with you?
Of course. What made you change your mind?
To Sousuke: Wore your jacket today to school.
From Sousuke: Really?
To Sousuke: It was an accident.
From Sousuke: Oh
Makoto wants to hit his head against the nearest brick wall.
To Sousuke: It’s not like I didn’t want to. But…
From Sousuke: ?
To Sousuke: I don’t want them to find out through someone else. People have been talking all day. Who knows who hears about it.
From Sousuke: Makoto…
From Sousuke: Are you sure you are ready?
Truth be told, Makoto isn’t sure. But…
To Sousuke: It doesn’t matter. They need to hear it from me.
From Sousuke: Are you sure Makoto?
From Sousuke: Want me to be there?
From Sousuke: When does your classes end today?
There’s a pause before he receives another text.
From Sousuke: I know they love me already ;) Who wouldn’t?
Makoto can’t help but snort at that.
To Sousuke: Well... Haru probably?
To Sousuke: But thank you.
From Sousuke: Honestly though, they seem like such great people. You have nothing to worry about.
To Sousuke: Meet me at the station at three?
From Sousuke: <3
Such a simple reply. It makes tears well up in Makoto’s eyes.
If his friends notice, they don’t say anything, but Makoto can see Haru’s curiosity. Haru either won’t ask, or he’ll do it later, when they’re alone. He’s just like that, and Makoto appreciates it, now more than ever.
The rest of the day is a blur.
It moves too fast and yet too slow at the same time. Makoto wants to get it over with, but despite knowing how kind and understanding his parents are, there’s still a part of him that worries they’ll no longer look at him the same way.
No. Worry is not the right word.
If Makoto’s to be completely honest with himself, a part of him is terrified. He knows his parents, loves them, knows they’ve never done or said anything to intentionally hurt anyone. But it’s an all encompassing fear that is eating at him right now, convinced they will not want him around after this.
“It will be fine Makoto,” Haru says.
“What?” Makoto startles, having forgotten he’s not alone on his walk back from school.
“Your parents. Yamazaki.” Even now there’s that slight hint in Haru’s voice when he says Sousuke’s name that tells Haru still clings to unresolved feelings. Makoto nods in reply.
“Makoto. They could never hate you.”
“How can you know that Haru?”
“Because I know them. Because they’re more like my parents than my actual parents.” Haru sighs, then adds “but if I’m wrong…”
“Then you can move in with me.”
Tears spring to Makoto’s eyes.
He almost tackles his best friend, but he can see a hint of warieness in Haru’s demeanor. Haru’s never been one to express his feelings, not really. Well, unless one counts Rin and Sousuke that is. And swimming. Also mackerel. Still, he does come through although it always leaves him looking like this. As though he is worried about the reaction to his words.
“Enough with the -chan already,” Haru mutters and Makoto grins at him. Always the same reaction, though not always verbal. “Say hi to your parents from me. And Yamazaki.”
The latter part comes out sounding like a threat, and Makoto’s unsure if he wants to deliver the greeting or not.
He waves goodbye to Haru, then sets off towards the train station. Sousuke should be there soon, and Makoto knows he’d text him if he’d been running late.
As he ends up arriving a bit early, Makoto buys something to drink from the vending machine, too distracted to notice what it is and so when he opens it and the taste of cola hit his tongue he’s surprised.
“That for me?” a familiar voice asks, and Makoto turns around to see Sousuke looking at him.
“Oh. Uhm. Yeah. Here.” He holds it out for his boyfriend to take, but instead of doing so, Sousuke looks around.
Seeing that they’re alone, Sousuke leans in to kiss Makoto.
Makoto whimpers into the kiss, the hand not holding onto the can grabbing a hold of Sousuke’s shirt, dragging him closer, deepening the kiss. Kissing Sousuke is so easy, so addictive that it takes a while before Makoto remembers they’re in a public place and that anyone could walk around a corner and spot them.
“Hi,” he says as he pulls away.
“Hello to you too,” Sousuke replies and the soft smile is so at odds with the redness and slickness of his lips.
Resisting the urge to pull him in again, Makoto once again holds out the can, trying to will away the redness he knows is creeping up his face. To be fair, Sousuke is so ridiculously attractive that it’s impossible to keep a straight face around him. Hah. Straight face. As if.
“Are you sure?” Sousuke asks him again, and it takes Makoto a moment to understand what he’s asking.
“I think so.”
“Sousuke. I have to. It doesn’t matter if I’m ready or not.”
“Yes, it does,” Sousuke replies, and he sounds stern now, sounds more like he did when he’d first moved here. “No one can force you to do this if you’re not ready. Yourself least of all.”
Makoto nods, then squares his shoulders and looks up into Sousuke’s eyes.
“Okay. I’m ready.”
It’s late at night when something hits Makoto’s window. It sounds like a small stone or something, and Makoto thinks he’s dreamt it, when he hears the sound again. Tink.
He gets out of bed, opens his window to look out and narrowly manages to duck out of the way as another pebble flies through the now open window and lands in his room.
“Sorry!” It’s a whispered shout in what is unmistakably Sousuke’s voice.
“Sousuke? What are you doing?”
The streetlight illuminates his face, and Makoto can see he is blushing. It takes him a moment to realise what the cause could possibly be. Saying goodbye only to show up not too long after, waking Makoto up by throwing pebbles at the window… Sousuke’s never struck Makoto as the type of person to do that. Then again, when they first met, Sousuke didn’t strike Makoto as the kind of person he’d end up dating.
“I…” Sousuke sounds evasive, like he is having a hard time admitting to why he is here at this hour.
Then Makoto remembers Rin telling stories about Sousuke.
“Did you get lost?” Trying to keep the laughter out of his voice is difficult, but he manages. Barely.
Sousuke nods in reply.
“I’ll be right there.”
Makoto puts on a pair of pajama pants and Sousuke’s jacket, then sneaks down the stairs and out the door.
“Don’t tell Rin?” Sousuke asks as soon as Makoto’s joined him.
“I promise. Or Haru.” Based on the blush on his face, Sousuke apparently hadn’t even thought of Haru finding out.
Grabbing Sousuke’s hand, Makoto smiles at him, then starts leading him through the quiet streets towards the station.
On their way, they stop by the store to pick up groceries for dinner.
Makoto had figured that making his parents dinner would be a good way to lessen the blow so to speak, and so they return to the house with their arms laden with food and dessert. Okay, so it’s for Makoto’s own favourite meal, but it’s the one he’s had the most practice making and it means he’ll have to focus less on the cooking as it’s become such an integral part of him by now.
“Green curry?” Sousuke asks as he sees all the ingredients laid out on the counter.
“It’s, ah, my favourite. Not as bad as Haru and his mackerel though. I mostly make this when I need a pick-me-up or after we’ve done well in competition.”
“So, like Yuuri and katsudon?”
Makoto laughs at that.
“Yeah, I guess so. Only this isn’t as unhealthy.”
“Okay, if you say so.”
“What? You’ve never had green curry before?” Makoto asks him, and when Sousuke just shakes his head, he knows he chose the right thing for dinner.
“Tell me what to do,” Sousuke says, grabbing an apron for each of them and tying his own on as Makoto just stares at him. “I’m here to help, remember?”
Nodding absentmindedly, Makoto ties on his own apron, the one that belongs to his mom, and tells Sousuke what to do.
Within minutes, a fragrant smell fills the kitchen. The sounds from the stove and fan means they don’t hear Makoto’s parents return home with Ren and Ran, and so Makoto’s family enters the home that smells like Makoto’s favourite dinner. When his parents enter the kitchen, it’s to find their eldest son holding out a spoon with some of the food on it to Sousuke, who is wearing the apron Makoto’s dad uses.
The smile on Sousuke’s face as he tastes the food isn’t lost on either of them, and because Makoto’s back is to them and Sousuke’s eyes are closed, neither of them notices the look that passes between the parents.
But then Sousuke opens his eyes and jumps back as he spots them. This in turn causes Makoto to almost burn his hand on the stove as he loses his balance and tries to find purchase to keep himself on his feet.
“Hello boys,” his mom says, a warm, welcoming smile on her face.
“What’s going on?” There’s a look of curiosity on his dad’s face at the scene in front of them.
But before either of them can reply, the twins barge into the kitchen, almost colliding into Makoto and Sousuke. It’s only the sharp whistle from their dad that stops them in their track, and it’s a good thing because at least one of them would have ended up getting hurt by the heat of the stove, as well as receiving bruises from the impact.
“Makoto?” It’s difficult to understand just what it is his mother is trying to ask, the tone of her voice not relying anything.
“After dinner?” Makoto asks in return and she nods, taking the twins by the hands and leading them into the dining room to help set the table.
His dad lingers for a bit, eyes searching for something and it seems he finds the answer to the unasked question, because he smiles at the pair of them before leaving them to finish up.
“Well, that was..” Sousuke starts, then stops as it seems he is unsure of what to say next.
“That was certainly something,” Makoto finishes, and after a brief pause they look at one another and starts to laugh.
They stay quiet as they finish making dinner, except for Makoto relaying the last of the instructions.
Dinner, by some miracle, goes by without a hitch.
Sousuke, it turns out, finds he loves green curry, and the compliment makes Makoto blush. It only grows darker, matched by the bright red of Sousuke’s ears, when his parents compliment their cooking, saying they worked perfectly together.
“Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Tachibana,” Sousuke says, and Makoto finds that he looks adorable like this. The urge to kiss him is strong, but he reigns it in.
Sousuke and Makoto starts to collect the dishes, but they’re stopped by his dad, who tells the twins to carry them into the kitchen instead. There are no leftovers, and so it won’t matter that the dishes will simply be put on the counter and in the sink.
“Now then,” his mother starts as soon as the table is cleared and the twins have left to start their homework. “What did you want to talk about honey?”
There’s a look in her eyes that Makoto can’t quite decipher, despite all his training at unraveling the words that so often fills Haru’s eyes rather than mouth. Then again, his mother and best friend communicate in very different ways, and his mom prefers to use words rather than facial expressions.
Sousuke reaches out to take his hand under the table, squeezing it in reassurance.
“I called because I wanted to tell you…” he starts. “Before you heard anything by someone else that…”
“Is this about the two of you?” his father asks, calm and curious and… not mad, not upset, not disgusted.
His parents smile at the both of them.
“Yes,” he says, and finds that Sousuke says it in unison with him. The way Sousuke looks at him, the small smile is all the reassurance he needs. “We’re together.”
Makoto waits for the ball to drop, but the reply is not what he’d expected.
“Oh honey. We already knew,” his mother says.
“What! Since when?!”
“Well, you’ve never spent this much time with anyone except Haru. Until a few weeks ago, that is,” his father adds.
“You seemed happier. More relaxed and comfortable. Just like Haru does when he’s around Rin. Or talking about him.”
His mother does have a point, Makoto thinks. They’re not as used to Haru and his expressions as he is, but they’ve known him long enough to see the change Rin brought.
“You started looking at your phone more often. Smiling. We know Haru doesn’t text you, and we saw they way you changed when the weekend approached, or when you were going to train with the Samezuka team,” his mother continues.
“So we put two and two together.” His dad looks over at his mom at that, smiling, and Makoto realise that he and Sousuke must look like the mirror image of his parents.
“Thank you,” he says, voice full of emotions.
As soon as his parents have left the room, Sousuke’s arms are around Makoto as he collapses and starts to cry. He’d been nervous over nothing, terrified for something that didn’t happen, so worried he’d barely poked at his lunch and now it’s all come crashing down at once.
Love and relief floods through him, sobs causing his entire body to shake and Sousuke just holds him, petting his hair. When Makoto pulls back, Sousuke kisses the tears away, and the calm, gentle smile on his lips makes Makoto reach out to cradle Sousuke’s face in his hands before kissing him.
Sousuke tastes like curry and cola and saltwater, and it mixes with the faint smell of chlorine masked by the scent of dinner.
God, Makoto loves him so much.
“Good, because I love you to,” Sousuke says, and only then does Makoto realise he’d said the words out loud.
Makoto laughs as fresh tears spill down his cheeks, and then he kisses Sousuke again, and he is happier than he’s ever been in his life.
Chapter 3: World Wide Open
A year and a day - so not the worst wait?
Happy belated birthday Sousuke!
Title from the song by the same name by Matthew Wright
Makoto comes home one day after spending some time at Haru’s place going through their homework to find what’s become a very familiar pair of sneakers in the hallway.
When his mom hears him enter, she pokes her head out from the kitchen to welcome him home and to tell him Sousuke’s here. Not that she needed to tell him that, but he appreciates in nonetheless. He’s excited to see Sousuke again, as though they don’t see each other most days, but it makes him feel a bit worried seeing as he’d not let Makoto know.
Because if he had said something, then Makoto would have rushed home, tidied his room and not spent the past two hours with Haru.
He really hopes Sousuke’s not been waiting for him for long, because that would make Makoto not just a poor host, but a really poor boyfriend.
As he climbs the stairs, Makoto checks his phone to see if he’s somehow managed to fail to catch any notifications, but his screen is void of any texts or calls or anything else.
Upon entering his room, Makoto’s jaw drops.
Sousuke’s lying on his bed, propped up on his side, form fitting tank top accentuating each and every muscle. He’s looking through a book, but Makoto can’t see which one from where he stands in his own doorway, probably looking like a complete idiot.
“See something you like?” Sousuke asks, not looking up.
Makoto hears the grin in his voice, so he hurries inside and closes the door gently behind him.
“You sound full of yourself,” Makoto replies, trying to act nonchalant, but his voice betrays him.
“I’d rather be full of you,” Sousuke quips back, and it causes Makoto to freeze.
The retort came so naturally and unpracticed; not at all what Makoto could have suspected.
“I’m sorry,” Sousuke says, noticing the change in the atmosphere. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Don’t be. I want that too.” Makoto’s reply is raw and honest and his voice deeper than it normally is.
It’s more difficult, now, for some reason, now that everyone knows about them, to be truly alone.
Makoto’s family is always home, so they can do no more than sleep and steal kisses while in this house. And even though Rin spends almost more time at Haru’s place than at Samezuka, leaving Sousuke alone in their shared room, they don’t really get to be alone together there either, because every student at the school knows about them.
Which means, despite Sousuke’s stern looks and Rin’s threats, there are whispers and looks and comments when Makoto’s there, even when it’s just for training.
He doesn't want to feel ashamed, but it does leave Makoto feeling as though they’re doing something dirty, something forbidden. Something they shouldn’t be doing. And that is wrong, because Makoto cares so, so much for Sousuke.
Makoto doesn’t know if Sousuke knows or even suspects, but they don’t talk about it.
Seeing Sousuke in his bed, posing the way he is, makes it nearly impossible for Makoto to not jump him. But his parents are home, his siblings are home and no matter how open-minded his parents are, there’s no way they’d accept that behaviour.
His parents don’t even know they’re sleeping together in a not exactly innocent way, and Makoto worries the sleepovers will stop if they find out.
Still, he needs to touch his boyfriend, so Makoto sits down next to Sousuke on the bed, stroking an arm over the muscles, ever so gently over the hurt shoulder and then cups the back of his head to draw him into a kiss.
Kissing Sousuke is still as addictive as it was that first weekend they spent together.
Kissing him makes Makoto feel good, and he feels safe in Sousuke’s arms, feels like a protector when he gets to hold Sousuke in return. Part of Makoto tells him he needs to pull away, but another part tells him to kiss Sousuke deeper, to not let go.
Sousuke makes the choice for him, by pulling away.
It’s a good thing too, because in the next moment the twins come barging in to tell them that dinner is ready.
Makoto and Sousuke lets the twins drag them downstairs, talking all the while about their day at school, seemingly not having noticed they’d almost walked in on them making out.
Rather that than they see it and tease them, even good-heartedly.
Makoto is tempted to tell them to learn to knock, but he also knows that doing so will prompt them into asking why, and then he’d either have to explain or to come up with an excuse. Besides, the door should not have been closed in the first place, according to his understanding but worried parents.
Well, his mom had said it because she’s more eloquent than his dad when it comes to expressing these things, and he remembers from The Talk years ago that his dad had been more awkward in expressing his thoughts on this subject, but he knows they’re both in agreement.
Dinner goes by smoothly, thankfully, which is never really a given seeing as Makoto’s mother likes to tease him now that he has a boyfriend, but he suspects the twins being there is what makes her stay silent in that regard. It’s born from love, and from her being happy that he’s happy, Makoto knows this, but he is happy to spare Sousuke the teasing.
Which is why he grabs Sousuke’s hand as soon as dinner is done, dragging him outside.
Makoto always helps with the dishes, and so does Sousuke when he’s over, but this time Makoto feels like leaving his duties to his siblings, so that he can spend some time with his boyfriend, away from the prying eyes and ears of his family.
They barely pause to put on their shoes and for Sousuke to grab a jacket, leaving Makoto’s family at the table, unable to say anything before the door closes behind them.
“C’mon,” Makoto says, leading Sousuke through the narrow streets and alleyways until they break through an opening between the buildings and the landscape is laid out before them.
Sousuke doesn’t ask, thankfully, and they slow down until they’re walking at a leisurely pace.
Makoto knows this small town, knows that most people stay inside at this time and so he feels free to walk hand in hand with Sousuke. It’s not that he is afraid of anyone seeing them, not really, but there’s still a part of his mind that makes him balk at making it easy for any bullying or hate.
Not for his own sake, not really. Makoto is more worried about his family, his siblings in particular; Ren and Ran being too young to have to deal with what others might have against their older brother being with someone the same sex as him.
He pushes the negative thoughts from his mind.
“Hey you,” he says, kissing Sousuke after throwing a quick, and hopefully not obvious, glance around. Just in case.
“Hey yourself,” Sousuke replies, their lips brushing together as he forms the words. “Missed me that much?”
Makoto shrugs, not ready to admit it because it makes him feel like a lovesick fool who can’t live without their significant other. They do meet often, considering they’re attending different schools, and they talk or text every day. Sousuke likes just a handful of stops away, so it’s not like anything about this is long-distance.
Not like it might be when they graduate.
“Maybe,” Makoto says, trying to sound coy. Then he kisses Sousuke again.
“Is something wrong?” Sousuke asks, seemingly having picked up on his odd behaviour.
Makoto shakes his head, not able to lie by saying no. “I don’t know about you, but I could go for an ice cream.”
“You don’t think it’s too cold?” The sun is setting, casting a cool purple-tinted glow over the landscape, that will soon turn to warm reds and oranges. It’s not yet summer, the spring air still hanging on to the last.
He pouts at Sousuke’s words, aiming to be disarming and playful. It works, because Sousuke laughs and kisses him again.
They take a shortcut through the forested area, walking up a narrow steep path, used more by animals than people really, that leads to the nearest park where Makoto knows of a vending machine that sells a small selection of ice creams.
Despite their good shape, they’re both winded as they reach the top of the hill.
Sousuke takes one look at Makoto and begins to laugh, causing Makoto to narrow his eyes at him. “What?” he asks.
His boyfriend just smiles and reaches out, brushing leaves from Makoto’s hair and he does it so gently that Makoto thinks he might just melt right then and there. He steps closer to Sousuke, doing the same in return when he spots a single, errant leaf on his shoulder, before leaning in to kiss Sousuke yet again.
Then he jolts back as he hears laughter.
Turning towards the sound, he sees some children running around, apparently playing tag. He turns back to Sousuke, to find he’s stepped back, and Makoto catches the hurt look on his face before he’s able to mask it. He opens his mouth to try to explain, but Sousuke shakes his head and heads off towards the small cluster of vending machines.
Makoto is momentarily stunned, unable to move, but then hurries to catch up to his boyfriend.
By the time he is joined him, Sousuke’s already bought two ice creams, and he holds out the matcha-flavoured one to Makoto, then heads over to sit on a nearby bench, avoiding Makoto’s eyes the whole time.
“I’m sorry,” Makoto says when he sits down on the bench. “I didn’t mean…”
“Mean what?” Sousuke asks when he trails off. “To look like it would burn you to touch me in public?”
And there it is. The hurt in his voice that Makoto wanted to avoid. He should’ve just answered him the first time he asked. The words won’t form, and he thinks he must look like a fish gasping for water after getting pulled from the water, with how he opens and closes his mouth.
“It’s not you,” he says, fidgeting with the paper of his cone as he curses himself internally for sounding like such a cliché. “I swear,” he continues, looking up and meeting Sousuke’s eyes when he hears the other scoff as his pathetic excuse. ”It’s still new. I’m not used to being public about it.”
Makoto laughs, a degrading sound.
“It’s a small town, and I suspect everyone knows anyway, so I don’t know why I’m like this. I’m sorry, Sousuke, I…”
“I get it,” Sousuke says. “You’re worried about what they’ll say.”
Makoto nods, glad Sousuke understand. “I wish I didn’t. I wish I could just act like all of this was… normal.” He spits out the last word.
Sousuke’s hand lands on his shoulder, and Makoto takes a deep breath, calming himself.
“It’s okay. I don’t mind,” Sousuke says, and Makoto wants to believe him, he really does.
Makoto smiles at Sousuke, but it feels fake and sad and everything he’s usually not.
“I’m sorry,” he says again, but Sousuke just shakes his head.
“You don’t have to be.” His smile is as sad as Makoto’s own, and Makoto can’t have that.
Ice drips down onto his hand, and he licks it up, eyes locked with Sousuke’s, so his boyfriend will know exactly what he’s doing.
It seems to work, because Sousuke’s eyes darken at once, and Makoto sees the hairs on his arms rise, now that his jacket lies discarded on the bench.
“Makoto,” Sousuke says, making his name sound like a growl.
Makoto just grins, then, in a sudden fit of boldness, he swirls his tongue around the top of the cone, not even pretending like he’s doing it just to eat his ice cream before it melts.
Sousuke takes a moment to gather himself, then it seems he decides to reciprocate, because he takes almost his whole creamsicle in his mouth at once.
This time it’s Makoto who shivers, and he’s dangerously close to kissing Sousuke, other people be damned.
Then Sousuke begins to make funny faces and pretends like he’s gagging, and the spell is broken. Makoto bursts into laughter at the look on his boyfriend’s face, and he understands why Sousuke did it; he didn’t want Makoto to do something he admitted to being uncomfortable with, and things were getting too heated, especially in public.
Sousuke grins at him, seemingly pleased that his plan had worked.
“Here,” Makoto says, reaching out to swipe away some of the ice cream on Sousuke’s upper lip. He doesn’t even look around this time, and then licks his thumb, tasting lemon and vanilla.
Enough bravery for today , he thinks. The sky is dark orange and red, warm now.
“Let’s head back,” he says, and Sousuke nods.
They finish their ice creams on their way back, and while Makoto still thinks it was a good idea, he feels himself get a bit chilly.
Without a word, Sousuke’s jacket is placed over his shoulders, and Makoto turns his head to kiss his lingering hand in thanks.
Back at the house, they find a note left by his parents to let them know they went to the store to stock up on groceries and that they brought the twins with them.
It does, of course, mean that they decide to make the most out of their time.
“Whatever shall we do on our own?” Sousuke asks Makoto, pretending to be hurt by the note.
“Oh, I might have some ideas,” Makoto replies, grinning.
And so Makoto’s parents and siblings comes home to find they’ve turned the living room into a large blanket fort, where they sit dressed in sweats, playing Mario Kart and trying to sabotage the other by bumping into each other.
Within seconds, the twins have dived in to join them, after a nod from Makoto to know his parents it’s okay, and they play for so long, even after the twins have gone to bed, that Sousuke’s allowed to stay over for the night, seeing as it’s a Friday and making Sousuke leave for Samazuka now wouldn’t be polite.
They get ready for bed together, and decide that they should stay in their blanket fort that night, since they put so much effort into it.
Staying quiet while moving what they need to sleep downstairs isn’t easy, but no one comes into the hallway to complain, and so Makoto thinks they’re doing a decent job.
And they do, based on how cozy it looks once the mattresses and sheets are placed in there, and the fairylights he brought in from the garden and from above Ran’s bed are lit.
He thinks she’ll forgive him for it in the morning, once she sees how cozy they’ve made it. Or maybe she already did, since she didn’t comment on it when she went to bed. Then again, she may have been too tired to notice.
“Thank you for understanding,” Makoto whispers once they’ve laid down.
Sousuke is so very close to him, close enough that he can see the freckles beginning to appear, even in the low light. Makoto places a hand on Sousuke’s face, stroking his thumb across the space just beneath one of Sousuke’s beautiful eyes.
Then he moves it a bit, just enough to stroke his bottom lip instead.
His boyfriend smiles, placing a small kiss on his thumb.
“Always,” Sousuke murmurs against his skin, and they fall asleep like that; so close that their breath fans over the other one, Makoto’s hand still resting on Sousuke’s face.