Big-hearted, ardent attachment.
They met during a time in their lives in which memory is scarce, details of scenery smudged at the edges of their minds like watercolors. Haru remembers in smells, tastes, feelings. He doesn’t recall much of his childhood in terms of what he saw, but he knows exactly what his first memory was, and perhaps that’s only because his life changed the moment he laid eyes on Makoto Tachibana.
As a child, his brain associated Makoto with an evergreen unlike the trees, like sunlight that warmed Haru from the inside out, rather than skin first. It all started at the heart. Makoto was timid from the start, chubby fists clinging to his mother’s shirt from where she held him, his eyes all round and wide as he gazed at Haru like he was pure magic, like he was a blue butterfly Makoto was desperate to chase. But Makoto was gentle, curious in a shy way, always pushing his boundaries if it meant that he could help someone.
Makoto became a constant presence in Haru’s life, forever by his side from such a young age that they never knew the ache of loneliness in their chests. There was never a Haruka without a Makoto; as babies, they played at their mothers’ feet; as children, they swam together; as teenagers they once swam against each other and even that brought them closer together in the end; as they stepped into adulthood, they got lost in Tokyo together – it was terrifying but perfect, if only because Makoto was right there with Haru.
But it all started somewhere, as all beautiful things do. Blooming occurs slower than anyone wants; nature and fate are to be trusted when it comes to destined things, whether they be the growth of a flower or love itself.
For Haru, loving Makoto started at the very beginning, as children when they didn’t yet have the capacity to even grasp such an emotion. Their first meeting planted a seed that was watered by days and days at the playground, running through backyards, smiles and giggles poured over summer nights with sparklers.
In hindsight, Haru knows that he was in love with Makoto before he even had the words for it.
Impression of love.
There was a moment in which Haru knew for sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he was hopelessly in love. And he doesn’t like to think about it much.
First of all, he doesn’t know why anyone ever thought fireworks were romantic because that notion made “the moment” a thousand times more devastating. Haru still dreams about it sometimes and he wakes up holding Makoto too tight around the waist, tangling their legs together in the bed sheets. His face buries between Makoto’s shoulder blades, cheek pressed against his back so hard that it hurts because he can’t stand the thought of ever being apart like they were in the moment he knew he was in love.
Fireworks. He hates the metaphor of them when it comes to kissing; anything remotely close to a loud explosion sounds awful and frankly, frightening, when it’s compared to something like a kiss. Makoto’s kisses have never felt like fireworks – not even the first one – and that’s what is so addicting about the softness of his lips. He’s so careful in his passion when he kisses Haru, hands so gentle around his face, fingers so adoring as they card through his hair. Makoto kisses him like Haru is precious, like he’s a treasure Makoto doesn’t deserve but wants to worship anyway. You’ve known me my whole life, Haru thinks each time Makoto kisses him like that. He’s seen Haru at his absolute worst, at his most selfish and cruel, lashing out in blind fear of the future or anything that has to do with change. But Makoto says he loves him the most in those vulnerable moments, so maybe that’s why Makoto remembers “the moment” under the fireworks so fondly.
It was that night back in high school, when they had one of their worst fights to date. When Makoto’s jaw hardened, teeth set on edge, his eyes stern even as they swam in tears. “I’m going to a university in Tokyo.”
Haru’s stomach had dropped. The world tilted, spinning out of control, too fast, too much. Numbness raked through his limbs and ice clawed down his back with a single whisper in his heart: you love him.
Light shot through the sky in an explosion of rainbows but the color drained from Haru’s vision as he stared at Makoto because you love him, oh God, you love him more than life itself.
And now he’s about to be gone forever.
Haru ran from Makoto and for the first time in his entire life, he felt alone.
Presently, Haru knows that they love one another for better or worse, but after the fireworks, he felt utterly unlovable and sick at the thought of wanting it from Makoto. He thought it was selfish to ask for such when Makoto had his whole life ahead of him, a future already lined up and planned out in detail – a future that didn’t include Haru.
He hid from the world beneath his covers, crying into his pillow because even on the edge of eighteen he knew that he was never going to get over Makoto. Haru’s very soul wasn’t his own; it hadn’t been since they were children.
Makoto had given Haru his whole life up to that point, so how could Haru ask him for forever? It would be cruel to ask a soul as lovely as Makoto to be bound to a heart as cold and scared as Haru’s.
They went days without even texting and it was the longest they had ever been apart. Haru’s thoughts bordered on obsessive, wondering if Makoto was hurting like he was, hoping that he wasn’t, hoping that he was so that they could find their way back to one another – so that they could make up and pretend that fight never, ever happened. But the fight was a wound that just wouldn’t scar over, and Haru wrote out his apology a hundred times. Nothing ever felt right; his words tumbled into pleadings of don’t leave me, don’t go where I can’t follow you.
Haru hadn’t realized just how dependent he was on Makoto’s presence until their separation. He felt like a ghost, like he wasn’t even real unless Makoto was beside him to prove it. He felt no warmth when it wasn’t coming from Makoto’s smile with his closed eyes upturned into happy crescents.
Haru can give credit where it’s due and Rin pulled through with that trip to Australia, and he had to physically pull Haru out of his blanket burrito and drag him into the light of day, told him fighting was normal and sometimes it was necessary.
On the plane back to Japan after their little soul-searching vacation, Haru stared at his empty hands and clenched them into fists, whispering, “I don’t know how I’ll face him. I don’t know what to say.”
Rin rolled his lips around in thought, pursing them. He studied Haru curiously, gaze sweeping over him before he flatly said, “Have you two kissed yet? Like, ever?”
Haru recoiled in embarrassment, nearly decked Rin right then and there on the plane, but then he paused. Rin asked the question as if it were the most obvious, simple thing in the world.
Haru’s throat clicked as he swallowed, averting his friend’s gaze. “No.”
Rin smirked with half-lidded eyes, brows dancing. “I’d start there, then.” He put his headphones back on before Haru could fly into tangent about how stupid that idea was, but really – really, the thought of kissing Makoto wasn’t bad. Not at all.
Years later, Rin will credit himself as the reverend soul that kicked Haru into gear both figuratively and physically – giving him the encouragement to embrace his feelings and also, literally never stop apologizing to Makoto for that awful fight under the fireworks. The part about physically kicking him into gear, well, that happened when Rin not-so-subtly nudged Haru and Makoto toward the airport bathroom and locked them in a stall together before practically skipping away with glee.
At that point, Haru ignored how terrible the setting was and embraced Makoto, hugging his arms around his neck and holding on for dear life. Makoto tensed in shock for one sickening moment before enveloping Haru with a sigh and in that moment, Makoto gave his heart back to the one who had broken it without a single regret in full, ardent trust.
Haru leaned up on his toes and kissed him right then and there, and it was as miserable as a first kiss in an airport bathroom sounds like, but it was also completely, utterly perfect. Their lips meshed together and warmth bloomed through Haru, his blood singing, his limbs falling lax with rightness. He kissed at Makoto’s teeth because he didn’t know what else to do and Makoto was cross-eyed for a good two minutes after that kiss because he was too stunned to remember to close his eyes, but the moment was perfect because it was theirs.
Healing, protection, affection.
Loving Makoto is one thing, but telling him is another.
Their relationship was still too fragile in that airport bathroom for Haru to utter the words; they still needed to fix their relationship piece by broken piece, and that took time. Things didn’t go back to normal upon their apologies and they never did; things stayed raw in the best of ways because now they were open with one another on a deeper level. They were more gentle with one another’s feelings yet they made a point to speak their minds when the words needed to be said. Haru would like to say they never fought like that again, but they did, of course they did, because they’re still the same people no matter where life takes them. What makes the new fights different is that they’re on that path of life together, and no argument will ever change that because even flowers know how to grow back after the most brutal winters.
The first time Haru says “I love you,” it’s in his apartment in Tokyo, on the evening in which he got the keys. There was take-out scattered across the floor and the sunset flooded the apartment in golden light. The very world glowed – Makoto glowed with happiness just because he was sitting next to Haru on the floor, cozy and safe in their socks with their bellies and hearts full.
Those three words came tumbling so clumsily out of Haru’s mouth with a desperate clutch of his hands against Makoto’s sweater. Makoto blinked once, twice in a daze like he was feeling faint, or maybe like he had waited his whole life just to hear three little words spoken from Haru. Had Makoto not seen the way Haru loved him in the stolen glances across the classroom? In the way Haru protected him, his fretful best friend, from dogs when they were children?
Later, Makoto would admit that yes, he always knew in his heart that Haru loved him, but hearing it was different. From that point on, Haru made an effort to say those three words whenever he could, despite how much their friends teased him, no matter if he says it a dozen times in a single day. He says it between kisses or crying, between the yawning stretch of morning light and the cresting of the moon.
And Makoto always says it back, as sure as the rise of the sun.
Innocence, purity, marriage.
They have orange blossoms at their wedding and it’s all Kisumi’s fault, as most things are.
Apparently he’s got a hand in every single endeavor imaginable, from basketball to real estate to oh, I know this florist in Meguro who can do the perfect arrangements for the table centerpieces –
So yeah, that’s how the orange blossoms happened at Haru and Makoto’s wedding. To be perfectly honest, Haru liked the pretty little white blossoms until Kisumi held up his champagne flute and hiccupped about the symbolism behind orange blossoms. The moment the word purity left his mouth, Rin almost shot himself in the eye with a finger gun because he was too smug and too drunk, which Haru really should have expected since Rin invited himself to be his best man the moment the wedding was announced.
“Why did you agree to have an open bar at our wedding,” Haru mumbles with his arms snuggled comfortably around Makoto’s middle, swaying as they have their first dance. “Honestly, it’s like you’ve never met our friends.”
Makoto laughs, cheeks flushed a peachy-pink hue, face alight with joy, and Haru’s thankful that Makoto’s arms are around him because he’s way too in love to stand on his own right now. Makoto says, “Nagisa’s the one who convinced me to have the open bar.”
“Of course,” Haru huffs, expecting nothing less from Makoto’s best man.
Makoto takes his hand, their rings clicking together. Haru finds himself staring at the gold bands, watching prisms dance off them with the awe of a child.
“I like the orange blossoms though,” Makoto says.
Haru’s eyes drift to the breast pocket of Makoto’s blazer, fingertips gently brushing the white petals. They’re soft like Makoto’s kisses, as pure as the love planted in their hearts in childhood.
A shy, secret smile blooms over Haru’s face. “I think I like them, too.”