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Chaperoning, or a Blind Date

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"No."

"Pleeeeease, Haru-chan!"

"No."

"But Haru-!"

"Nagisa."

"What if I already told them you were coming for sure?"

Haru stopped walking in their apartment's small living room, distracted from his previous goal of food. "... Why would you tell them that?"

Nagisa sighed sheepishly. "Well, we were both really nervous, and even after we realized we were both trying to ask each other out, I couldn't stop blushing and he couldn't stop nervous laughing, so I said, 'What about a double date! We can each invite a friend!' and he said it was an excellent idea and he had a very nice friend he knew would agree, and I said 'Me too! Text me the details!', and then he had to leave for class. So you have to come! I promised!"

"You shouldn't promise things about other people."

"So you won't do it?"

"No."

Nagisa gave a theatrical sigh and flopped down on the couch. "Alright Haru. I understand. I shouldn't have volunteered you before asking." Haru could tell this was going somewhere he wouldn't like. "I guess I'll just have to tell them to cancel the reservation at Abara Daikon. You've heard of it, right? They're famous for their mackerel dishes."

"A-Abara Daikon?"

"Yeah," Nagisa sighed once more, just to lay it on thicker, "I was really looking forward to it."

Haru kind of wanted to punch something. He'd regret this later, he was certain.

"Fine. I'll go."

"YES!" Nagisa leapt off the couch and threw his arms in the air.

"On the condition that you do all the dishes for the next month. And pay for my dinner."

Nagisa descended into a pout immediately. "You're so mean, Haru-chan. I'll only pay if you don't have fun!"

“Have fun chaperoning your date?”

“It's a date for you too, Haru! Maybe you'll like him,” Nagisa said with a smile far too sly for Haru's liking.

He would definitely regret this.

---

That Friday, Haru left the house and headed to the train that would take him to his blind date. Nagisa had given him his date's phone number - Tachibana Makoto, who had apparently picked the restaurant, and gave better directions than Rei - but Haru had no trouble finding the place.

Walking up to the building, he discovered Nagisa hovering a few feet from the door, looking anxious.

"Nagisa," Haru said as he drew next to him.

"Haru-chan! You startled me!"

"What are you doing out here?"

Patting down his bangs, Nagisa replied, "Um, I was too nervous to go in alone?"

Haru gave his friend a look. "Nagisa. Since when do you get nervous about anything?"

"Hey, you'd be nervous too if you knew your date was as hot as mine!" Nagisa said, wide eyes indignant. He huffed. "You're here now, so lets just go in."

Haru said nothing, just followed Nagisa into the restaurant.

It was a nice place, with a little candle flickering gently on every table. Nagisa gave a hostess their name, and she lead them around tables until they reached one occupied by two very tall men. Rei, Haru recognized. Nagisa had shown him his facebook selfies, and gushed for hours over his 'gorgeous and perfectly styled hair' and 'beautiful red glasses'.

His friend, Makoto presumably, gave Haru a moment of pause. He was... really hot. Even sitting down, Haru could tell he was taller than Rei, with broad shoulders and nice arms. His hair was shaggy, but not long enough to hide his warm green eyes.

"Nagisa-kun! I'm happy you could make it!" Rei said too loudly, eyes lighting up as he stood to greet them.

"Hi, Rei-chan!" Nagisa replied starry eyed. Haru could already tell this would be a long night. “And, hi, Mako-chan!” he added after a lengthy pause.

"Ah, how rude of me! I haven't introduced myself!" Rei turned to Haru and bowed, slightly red faced. "I'm Ryugazaki Rei. And this is Tachibana Makoto, my friend."

Makoto stood and gave Haru a bow and a sheepish smile. He really was tall.

"Nanase Haruka." Haru replied, giving them both small bows.

"It's nice to meet you!" Makoto said. He had a nice voice, Haru thought.

They all took their seats again, and for, in Haru's opinion, too few moments, they were silent. Makoto seemed to be trying to communicate some form of encouragement to Rei using only his eyes. Nagisa was fidgeting with his menu. Rei cleared his throat, and Nagisa looked up hopefully.

"N-Nagisa-kun," he begins.

"Yes, Rei-chan?"

"Ah, um, you. That is," he clears his throat again, "You look very nice." Rei fumbles to cover his blush by adjusting his glasses.

Nagisa goes just as red. "Thank too! I mean, thank you, you too! I mean, you always look nice, but tonight you look especially nice!"

"Ah, th-thank you!"

Haru managed to stop himself from groaning, barely. This was painful. Across the table, Makoto caught his eye with a look simultaneously pained and amused. Haru gave a small half-smile, but before he could even be surprised at himself, a waiter arrived to take their drink orders.

"So, does everyone know what they're getting?" Makoto asked as the waiter left, in an obvious attempt to break the ice.

"Oh, I got distracted looking at the desserts! Does anyone have a suggestion?" Nagisa asked.

Rei adjusted his glasses. "Nagisa-kun, that depends on what sort of nutrition you need. If you want more..."

Haru zoned out as Rei launched into an overview of the vitamin contents of various items on the menu. Nagisa seemed hooked on every word; Haru struggled to understand what Nagisa saw in him.

Makoto seemed pleased that he'd started some kind of conversation, but just as disinterested in its actual contents.

Then Haru remembered that he had Makoto's number. It would be rude to interrupt Rei (who showed no signs of slowing down), but it also felt rude not to interact with his 'date'. With a quick glance to assure that Nagisa was still enraptured (he was), Haru pulled his phone out of his pocket and located his newest contact.

>Those two are having fun. Rei knows a lot about nutrition.

Makoto looked startled, then looked down at his own lap. A moment later a large smile crinkled his eyes and he put a hand to his mouth to stifle a giggle.

'Cute,' Haru thought, unbidden. What? His phone buzzed.

>Yes. He knows a lot about a lot of things. I'm glad Nagisa likes to listen to him.

Haru looked back up at Nagisa, who was blushing once again, while Rei laughed too loudly. Haru couldn't be bothered to decipher what they were talking about now.

>This is painful.

Makoto looked down at his phone, still smiling.

>I think they're cute together!

Haru rolled his eyes.

>If you can handle secondhand embarrassment.

Nagisa caught Haru's eye as he slid his phone shut after sending, a questioning look. Haru just shrugged. Then Rei caught his attention again just as his phone vibrated with a response.

>Haha I guess. It was nice of you to agree to friend babysitting.

>I should've charged.

Makoto had to disguise his laughter as coughing after he read that one.

Their waiter returned with their drinks and took their food orders, and Nagisa got Makoto into the conversation by mentioning the stray cat Haru had started feeding around their apartment. Haru let Nagisa do the talking, 'hmm'ing his agreement occasionally. Makoto seemed very enthusiastic about cats.

'Cute,' Haru thought again, and then, 'Damn.'

Nagisa was still talking, and Haru noticed that now that Rei was the listener, he had an even more gross expression than Nagisa had; all soft smile and gentle eyes.

>Those two do have it bad.

Haru made sure Nagisa was still babbling as he typed his reply.

>I'd gag, but Nagisa would throttle me for ruining the moment. How did Rei talk you into this?

Their food arrived, delaying Makoto's reply until after everyone had tried theirs and declared it to be delicious. Haru could see why their mackerel dishes were famous. His phone buzzed.

>I owed him for letting me borrow his notes for our ethics class. Though actually, it was Nagisa who asked me. You?

Nagisa had asked Makoto to come? That didn't fit the story Haru had. He should've known better than to trust that this was innocent chaperoning.

>I made Nagisa promise to do all the dishes for a month, and pay for my meal if I don't have fun.

>Haha, so you two are roommates?

>Yes. We moved here from the same town. We've been friends since swimming club in middle school. You and Rei?

Haru wasn't sure when the last time he'd put this much effort into a conversation was, even if it was over text, but he was genuinely interested learning more about Makoto. Maybe it helped that he was really good looking. Haru watched him while he replied, looking down at his lap so his bangs drifted into his face, one hand holding up a now forgotten bite of food. He had nice hands too.

>We just met last semester in a class we shared. It's funny we've had so many classes together when he's an aerospace engineering major and I'm in the lit dept! What major are you?

>Fine art. Drawing mostly.

>Oh wow! That's very impressive, I've never been any good at art.

>You'd make a good model.

Now Nagisa and Rei weren't the only ones at the table blushing. Makoto took a long sip of his drink before replying.

>Haha, what makes you say that?

Haru didn't hesitate.

>You have good features. Very defined. And a good color palette.

Makoto snorted.

>Did you really just compliment my color palette?

>Well, it's true.

>Well, you have pretty eyes.

Haru looked up in surprise, and directly into Makoto's (also pretty) eyes. Haru blushed; Makoto blushed deeper; Nagisa and Rei continued their own conversation, oblivious.

"I can't believe I sent that," Makoto said, then covered his mouth with his hand - but there was no need. Nagisa and Rei were totally absorbed in each other. The other patrons could all get up and start dancing and those two wouldn't notice.

'Cute,' Haru thought again, and that was just getting ridiculous.

>You should let me draw you sometime.

Makoto definitely still looked pink in the face.

>This isn't one of those things where I have to be naked, is it? Because I don't think I'm brave enough for that.

>Whatever you're comfortable with. I'll try to contain my disappointment.

>Haruka!

>Just Haru is fine.

They continued their conversation through the rest of the meal; Haru talked about some of his projects for the semester, and Makoto told him about some of his more interesting professors.

They made plans for Makoto to model for Haru the next day.

Eventually their waiter came back.

"Is this going to be all one check?"

"Separate, I think?" Rei said, and both Nagisa and Makoto looked at Haru.

"Separate," he said, and the waiter went off to get the bills.

Nagisa looked at him, puzzled, but Makoto only smiled.

They paid and said their goodbyes, Rei and Nagisa more than a little reluctantly, and Haru lead Nagisa off to their train. After five minutes of ignoring his chatter about 'Rei-chan' this and 'Rei-chan' that, Haru interrupted.

“Seems like you two would've been fine on your own.”

Nagisa blinked at him. “Oh! Yeah, I guess so. Hey, you should've let me pay for your meal, Haru-chan. I know you didn't have fun, and that was part of the deal.”

“How do you know I didn't have fun?”

Nagisa looked at him suspiciously as they boarded. “You were on your phone the whole time. Ignoring us. I don't think you said two words to poor Mako-chan.”

Haru opened his mouth to respond, but his phone buzzed, and he pulled it out to read his text instead.

“Who are you even texting this much, Haru-chan?”

>Rei won't stop apologizing for ignoring us the whole time. He doesn't believe me when I tell him I had fun.

>Nagisa thinks the same thing. We should probably tell them.

“Haru-chan, you're still ignoring me!”

“I'm texting Makoto.”

>Tell them we were texting the whole time, or tell them we have a second date? ;)

>Probably both. Nagisa gets very offended by 'lies of omission'.

“You're. You were texting Makoto that whole time? Instead of just talking to him? When he was right there across the table from you?”

“Yes,” Haru said, not seeing Nagisa's point.

“Haru-chan. Why?!”

>Haha, I can see that.

“You and Rei were talking enough for the four of us. We didn't want to interrupt.”

“Haru-chan, you are so strange sometimes. But I guess Mako didn't mind if he's texting back...”

>So I'll see you tomorrow?

>Yeah! I look forward to it ^_^

“He's coming over tomorrow, to model for my drawing.”

Nagisa sputtered. “H-he's what? Haru! Is this a date?! Did our blind date work?”

“Don't get full of yourself, you had no idea if we'd like each other,” Haru admonished, giving Nagisa a look that clearly said he knew Nagisa wasn't as innocent as he pretended.

Nagisa only smirked at him. “Whatever, Haru-chan, I know you better than you think. I've only talked to Mako-chan a few times, but I knew you'd like him.”

“Well, don't bother us.”

“You're so mean, Haru-chan! I invited you on my date,” Nagisa pouted.

“That's because you were too afraid to go alone.”

“Mean!”

---

The next day found Haru sitting in his room, art supplies laid out on his desk, sketchbook open to a clean page. Makoto had agreed to be there by one. It was twelve thirty. Haru had no idea how to occupy himself for the next half hour.

He'd gotten up an hour earlier, taken a shower (best not risk a bath running too long), eaten breakfast, straightened his already clean room, and couldn't think of anything else he needed to do before Makoto arrived.

It wasn't a problem he was used to having on a Saturday. Was this nerves? Now he felt bad about teasing Nagisa. Well, a little.

His phone buzzed.

>Good morning!

Right. What did he have to be nervous about? He and Makoto had texted each other until very late; Haru couldn't believe how easy he was to talk to. Maybe it was because they weren't 'actually talking', but Haru felt like it had more to do with Makoto. He was very... open.

>Isn't it a little late for good morning?

>Haha, well I couldn't decide if I should bother texting since I'm going to see you today...

It took a moment for Haru to realize he was just sitting smiling at his phone.

>That's adorable.

>Haru!

>See you soon.

Schooling his features into their usual neutrality, he settled into some practice sketches while he waited.

Half an hour later, the doorbell rang, and before he could even stand, Nagisa yelled loudly, “I'll get it!”

Haru could hear through his slightly cracked door, “Hello, Mako-chan!”

“Good morning, Nagisa-ku-”

“Haru-chan is in his room, it's right back here!” Nagisa threw his door open the rest of the way. “Haru-chan, Makoto is here!” He looked as if he were presenting the world's largest cake.

“Hi, Haru,” Makoto said, grinning.

“Hello,” Haru replied, before turning his gaze on Nagisa, who made no move to leave. “Thank you, Nagisa.”

“It's no problem, Haru-chan! So what kind of drawing are you going to make of Mako-chan? Oh! You should draw him-!”

“Nagisa.”

Nagisa turned sullen in a heartbeat. “Fine, fine, Haru-chan. Have a nice day,” and with that, he sulked out of the room, closing the door a bit harder than necessary on his way.

“Ah, you didn't have to kick him out Haru, I don't mind. Unless you mind, of course-!”

“I just think things might go smoother without him,” Haru interrupted. “We might get to talk more.”

Makoto laughed openly at that. Definitely better than stifled giggles. “I don't know, it might be weird not to be texting.”

Haru picked up his phone, and Makoto gave him a look when his own buzzed.

>We still could.

>Haha, that's alright. I like hearing your voice.

Haru felt his face go warm but ignored it, turning to his desk and his sketchbook. He cleared his throat.

“So, are you still okay with modeling for me?”

“Of course,” Makoto answered, though he sounded nervous. “Although, I've never done it before. What, ah, do you need me to do?”

Haru dragged his stool to where he'd have the best lighting. “Sit there.”

Makoto sat, and Haru sat at his desk chair, spinning to face his model and settling his sketchbook on his lap.

Makoto tapped his foot nervously. “So, I sit here, and...?”

“And talk, so you don't get self conscious, but don't move too much,” Haru said, too busy taking in the lines and angles of Makoto's face to really read his expression.

“Ah, right. That'll be easy then.”

“You shouldn't ever sass someone who's drawing you,” Haru replied in complete monotone.

Makoto grinned. “Sorry, Haru.”

“So what would you normally be doing today?” Haru asked, not sure when he developed these small talk skills, but not complaining.

“Oh, probably just studying, or skyping my little siblings. Crazy college kid stuff like that. What about you?”

“This, but without the hot model.” Small talk, flirting, making friends? Maybe there had been something wrong with his mackerel last night.

“H-Haru!” Makoto said, sounding offended, but covering a deep blush with his hands on his cheeks.

“No moving, remember?”

And after that, it was easy. For almost two hours they talked and Haru drew. Makoto told him about his siblings, about how he'd also been in a swimming club once; Haru told him that art, swimming, and food were the only things he'd ever really been interested in. Haru marveled at how simple it was to talk to Makoto. Like flowing just a little bit into each other. Like they'd known each other their whole lives.

It was also a nice distraction from drawing him. Really, drawing someone is a pretty intimate activity for the artist. Haru had to study his subject closely; he had to take in the sweep of his bangs, the curl of his eyelashes. He sketched the angles of his eyes, nose, cheekbones. He spent maybe longer than necessary on the curve of his lips – he almost blushed when he realized.

By the time he had a decent sketch down, Haru decided that as a first real date, this had been a mistake. He'd basically spent hours studying exactly how hot his hot date was. Drawing lips you'd rather be kissing, when they're right there in the room with you, is an exercise in self torment.

Eventually, Haru noticed that Makoto was starting to look a bit stiff – sitting on a stool for two hours really wasn't comfortable. Haru needed a break too. His hand was starting to cramp, and looking that closely at a handsome face he was on a date with was starting to drive him crazy.

“Alright, I think this is done.”

Makoto blinked. “Oh! Already?”

Haru half smiled. “It's only a sketch. They don't take long.”

Makoto stood up and stretched out his back – and oh that was a view - then took a tentative step towards him. “Can I see? If you'd rather I didn't that's fine, I-”

“It's fine,” Haru said, “The light's better over here.”

Makoto walked around to stand at Haru's shoulder and gasped. He bent closer.

“Oh, Haru! That's amazing!” his tone was almost reverent. “I'm...”

“You like it, then?”

Makoto laughed. Haru could feel his breath ruffle his hair. “Well, it looks better than any selfie I've ever taken.”

“It's still not as good as the real thing,” Haru said before he could stop himself, looking up into Makoto's face, only a few inches from his own. So much more detail at this distance. He heard Makoto's breath catch.

“I'll blush to death if I keep hanging out with you,” Makoto said, eyes no longer on the drawing.

“Kiss me?” Haru asked. He hadn't meant to say it out loud, but he didn't want to take it back.

Makoto bit his lip, but tilted his head down. “If that's... alright...?”

“Yes,” Haru said breathlessly.

And he did – gently, but with feeling. Like flowing just a little bit into each other.

It wouldn't be the last time.