there are people that remind you of the seasons.
they are unwavering, constant. they don’t change. do you change? are you still the same boy you always were? maybe on the outside.
they give you empty promises, it’s always the same.
you say ”we should see each other again, sometime!” and they reply with ”yes! i’d love to!” but they don’t change, they’ve never changed, so why should you expect this time to be different? but you do, every time, and every time you wonder if they'd be annoyed if you text first. you do, you always do, you're always the first one to reach out and beg for them to remember you exist. you're not sure why you're easy to forget, but you don't hold it against anyone, not too much.
but it's okay, you've got your over-imaginative brain to keep you company, it works overtime, spinning out fantastical ideas of what it'd be like if those individuals came to you first. those individuals who you think about with their corresponding season. winter comes around and you think of the icy cold, distant stare of nanase haruka, the two of you were close in middle school but...you weren't a swimmer. you're still not a swimmer. you worry that he's freezing up in the cold winter air, you wonder how many times a day he soaks in his warm bath tub for a small release from the brisk, unforgiving temperatures.
spring creeps in with the kindness and open heart that makoto tachibana has, he starts off soft, quiet, sometimes, but he's never overlooked. not like you. his eyes are vibrant green like the grass and budding leaves on the trees outside as warm air swallows away the cold. and then summer, too hot, too intense, matsuoka rin is summer, he's vibrant and comes across as relaxed, despite the swirling emotional currents inside of him. he's always been bright like a summer's day on a beach, he commands the room when he walks into it whether he wants to or not, commands your attention like the sweltering days when the air conditioning is broken.
and then autumn. fall. familiarity of school coming back, the air is comfortable but still holds you at a distance. don't get too used to this, like sousuke yamazaki, he can be cold in an instant. you remember seeing him at the hospital. he could've been warm then, like the first half of autumn, the leaves are changing colors and it smells like pumpkins and vanilla--and you always thought his eyes were the color of a deep lake in fall, teal trickling out on the surface with the bright blue reflection of the sky peeking through. fall...yes, fall is right.
you've always been one to fall too quickly.
it feels like your life starts in autumn.
basketball season starts, but on top of that, school picks up again and it was in school, elementary, when you met sousuke. the boy with teal eyes and dark hair captivated you instantly, it was no wonder you liked him so much. he was colder than you, separated himself from your incessant blabbering, and at first it was the three of you. sousuke, rin, and kisumi.
rin left you and sousuke behind and you were crushed, but all you could convince yourself was that maybe sousuke and you could get closer. that’s always been your goal, but as nice and charming as you can be, you never really got as close as you wanted to.
you saw him again, years later, at the hospital. his shoulder was hurt, overworked and he was seething under his skin, disappointment, anger, dreams shattered. you could see it in his eyes. ”sousuke? what are you doing here?” he didn’t answer you. you could tell. you didn’t mean to let your mind wander, as you held your bandage wrapped hand to your heart, watching him walk away from you. you didn’t mean to have those feelings of desire and want and need to come crawling their way back up, you’d tried to silence them. you tried.
but you’d entertain a world where maybe you’d show up at his dorm room, you’d bring soothing cream for his shoulder, along with a large basket of things to make him feel better. you want to make him happy, he smiles at you, it’s small, but it’s there. it’s a smile that makes you feel like he wants you there. you’re wanted. you smile back. ”i wanted to help! make things better, you know? if you’d let me?”
he blinks at you like he’s processing what you’re saying, and you don’t let your heart get deflated by the pregnant pause. he did smile at you though, he did. so when a deep, ”sure” is heard, your heart swells. holding the basket close to your chest, your heart, you watch as sousuke steps aside and lets you in.
you know in reality he'd be too stubborn, he wouldn't let you touch him. not you.
but in your imagination? it was all fair game.
it’d happen like that, you’d come over every night, sneak into his room like a secret, to gently soothe long, practiced fingers over sousuke’s aching muscles, and he'd let you. and for a while it would be enough. you wouldn’t ask for more. you wouldn’t ask for a thank you, either.
but one day you’d sit under your favorite tree, knees pulled up to your chest as you rest your chin against them, flipping through your homework absentmindedly. it’s hard to think when your heart feels like it’s going to burst from your chest. you’d think that maybe, maybe it was better when the two of you weren’t as close. then you could admire from afar.
you got too close.
being allowed to touch but nothing more is harder than being on the other side of the classroom, or hallway, or across the street in two different coffee shops, staring out the windows as rain trickled down onto the street outside. it’s harder to be close to what you want. you’d imagine how bittersweet it’d feel, sitting there in the shade of the sakura blossom tree, petals falling down around you, matching the pastel of your hair.
and then you’d see another shadow, you’d look up and amethyst eyes link instantly to striking teal ones, and your breath hitches in your throat. ”sou-sou! hi! sorry, didn’t see you there. something wrong? you’re furrowing your brows together like..” you’d imitate him, dropping your head down to put on a stern face, before blinking and looking back up to meet his gaze. ”sousuke? what is it?”
you’d stand then, concern on your features and sousuke almost huffs, like he’s trying to fight with himself internally, and then he steps forward, arm circling around your waist as he pulls you in and suddenly lips are pressed to yours and your eyes go wide. you'd gasp into the kiss, lips parting in both surprise and the need to beg for more.
he tastes like a crisp autumn day by the ocean.
you’d reach out to take hold of his jacket, balling fists into the material as you'd pull away for a moment, rest your forehead against sousuke's and breathe for a moment, you want to ask is this real but---
you're still at the hospital and you watch him walk away, comforting smile you gave sousuke only moments before gone, replaced with the look you always give him when he leaves. disappointment on your face, yes. of course, but its also a look that’s hopeful, even slightly, hopeful that the dark haired swimmer would look back at you.
winter almost slaps you in the face.
that first snowfall is always the one that makes you think it’s winter time, even if its the cold frigid days of november. but winter emerges in december and it’s in these cold few months that you think about haruka. the two of you were friends, middle school, and his cold, uninterested air never deterred you one bit. you’d bring him lunch, something else, something healthier than mackerel, even then it was all he ever really wanted to eat.
he didn’t want to play basketball with you, but you respected it. he was always a swimmer, seeing haru play basketball would literally be like seeing a fish play basketball. it didn’t happen. wasn’t natural.
in the beginning, you thought maybe haru was sad.
the look in his eyes was always like he was miles away, underwater somewhere. buried beneath the sea, haruka’s mind seemed as unexplored as the deepest depths of the ocean. but he was resistant. you’d give him hugs, food, eager, warm smiles but those eyes were just him. blue and cold.
you remember seeing him again after hayato’s swim practice. makoto was your kid brother’s swim coach, and haru had stopped by to visit and he hadn’t changed even slightly. still deflecting your arm swinging around his shoulder at times, he never showed more than just a neutral expression towards you. though, you’re not sure if he can even...make his face change from that, actually. maybe all this time it’s been stuck?
you still wonder if he’s sad. you know that when you were younger you upset him when you brought up rin moving. because rin moving to australia hurt you too, but the way haru reacted to it...well, maybe then he was sad. now? you’re not so sure. rin is back, after all.
but your mind takes you back to your middle school years, and you wonder if maybe you’d gotten into swimming if haru would like you more. or at least, stand you a bit more. you’re not outrageously annoying, you’re cheerful, yes...of course...most of the time...but you know when to be serious.
you’d imagine that he’d teach you how to swim. not the most eloquently, and it’d take you asking multiple times over and over again, and finally he’d give in. even if his way of giving in was by telling you ”the water isn’t for everybody.”
but you’d stand in the shallow end of the indoor pool as the snow falls outside, and you’d crinkle your nose as you frowned at the icy eyed swimmer. ”well, good thing i’m not ‘everybody’, huh? haru, please just...” you’d know he wasn’t the best person to ask, but you want to be his friend. this was your only means of doing that.
”i’m not afraid of the water, and i want to learn. maybe...you could just hold me up and teach me some kind of stroke? make sure i don’t sink to the bottom?”
”i only swim free.”
he’d say, like he always says. and you’d nod eagerly and tell him that’s okay, you want to learn free. you’d be so happy to learn free. ”i want to learn free, haru!” you’d exclaim excitedly, and the look he’d give you would be borderline annoyed and maybe...you convinced him.
you know he’d never be convinced so easily by you. you know he’d rather turn away and leave you alone in the pool.
but your mind ignores that fact and before you know it, you’d be holding onto haru’s hands as you kicked your legs in the water, he’d guide you forward and eventually the two of you would be swimming in different lanes and you’d race. race haru.
he’d win, every time, and when you’d exclaim to him how amazing he is, how beautiful he swims, he’d just pull off his goggles and shake his hair out. he’s heard it before, obviously.
but in your imagination, he’d look at you, and would let out a compliment. barely there, sure. he’d say it while he turned away, just a quick ”you’re getting better.”
you nearly laugh, it was a missed opportunity, wasn’t it? you could’ve gotten closer to haru. maybe. you’re not holding your breath, but you wonder if things would’ve been different between yourself and everyone
if you knew how to swim.
sometimes it feels like you’re the only one who doesn’t know how to.
spring welcomes you with open arms.
it’s in the late spring that you bring hayato to swimming lessons. he’s terrified of the water, you blame yourself for it constantly. the ocean is something not to be trifled with. you know that. it was on a family outing that he fell overboard into the dark pthalo green water below and if you could swim you could’ve saved him. but you couldn’t, you’d drown too--and frantically calling for help, your little brother was saved, and you held onto him and apologized for everything and told him you’d never let him get hurt again.
the idea of learning how to swim for you is something you’ve entertained, obviously, but hayato is still young. he’s still at that age where he soaks up information like a sponge, and your parents send him to the swim recreation club and it’s there where you find out that makoto is hayato’s coach.
he’s gentle and kind and he remembers you instantly. it’s been a while. you remember being closer to him than haru in middle school, he’d even play basketball with you and you remember looking at him with longing and envy. he was truly good at everything he put his mind to, wasn’t he?
and his eyes were so green, his skin so perfectly sun-kissed and he was teaching your kid brother how to swim. it was like fate had brought the two of you together, right?
of course, you imagined it to continue bringing the two of you together into the future.
it’d be one day you were feeling oddly upset. it’s the rain, it always makes you feel sad.
your parents would be fighting, like they always do. hayato would be at a friend’s house, and you’d, against your better judgement, leave home. not for long, and not for good, but even though the outside world smells like the bitter earthiness of rain, you’d rather be out there than at home.
you’d walk to the beach, this thing you were afraid of now, just like your brother. you’re weaker than him, you realize. no one else is outside, no one else would be dumb enough to sit on the boardwalk railing and look out at the swirling ocean in the middle of a rain storm.
you won’t cry, things aren’t bad enough for you to cry.
but you’d sit and frown, and when you hear the sound of someone getting closer on the wood of the boardwalk, you wouldn’t expect them to stop. much less do you expect the rain to feel lighter, gentler. turning from large droplets to a light drizzle.
you wouldn’t be scared. there was no way you could be scared.
you’d turn, blinking to look at who stood before you, and your eyes would fall on bright green ones, sandy brown hair drenched from the water, and a worried look etched on that perfect face. ”makoto!” you’d exclaim, clearing your throat and smiling at him. ”why are you out in the rain?” you’d almost go on to saying “i’m used to seeing you wet, but this is way different!” but you’d stop yourself, saving you from the embarrassment.
he’d be more concerned about why you were out in the rain than himself, and he’d lift himself up to take a seat beside you on the railing. ”how long have you been out here, kisumi? you’re soaked. you could get sick!” he comments, and you grin at him. classic makoto, always caring about everyone but himself. ”i’ll be okay. i’m tougher than i look! besides, what about you?”
it’d be a casual conversation, and you’d swear that once makoto smiled at you, a few rays of clear starry sky would peek through the drizzle and rain clouds. each time he smiled, it’d get clearer and clearer, until the two of you were smiling together and the rain had entirely stopped, clouds had parted completely to reveal a peaceful night of stars above you.
you’d look at him and he’d look so open, so welcoming, like a warm spring day when all of the flowers have bloomed and you can smell the fresh air sinking into your lungs and giving you new life.
in truth, he’s not yours. he never will be. even in your daydreams it’s sort of hard to forget that.
but in your imagination, he is yours. he’s always been yours. and he smiles again and it practically feels like warmth is radiating off of him and you feel the chill of your wet clothes against you, and you know he must feel it too. ”we should get going, my parents might wonder where i am...” you begin, and it’s almost like an invitation.
you had turned to get off of the railing when makoto speaks your name, and you swear every time he says it, it sounds more like kiss me. you spin back to look at him, regarding him with curiosity as you stand on the boardwalk and he turns his body so he’s sitting on the railing still, but facing towards you instead of the ocean.
you can tell he’s afraid of the ocean too.
but he leans down, and you look up at him, lifting your head, and suddenly his fingers are taking hold of your chin and your breath catches in your throat once you feel his lips gently, lightly, ever so lightly, press against yours. your eyes flutter closed, and---
you can hear your brother’s voice calling you, telling you to go. it’s time to stop catching up with makoto, its time to go home. you’re not sure makoto will ever realize what him teaching hayato how to swim means to you, but...you tell him you’d love to catch up more, sometime. he turns to leave, waving you goodbye and agreeing to hang out, but you don’t really hold your breath. you smile at him and wave goodbye, as hayato rushes over to you and takes your hand and tugs you along.
summer is overwhelming, too much all at once.
it’d be nice to swim in the summer, you know that much. in elementary school you’d watch rin and sousuke swim together with wide eyes, and while they didn’t always get along, in the water? you couldn’t tell. they both swam like they were born to it, and while they didn’t always get along you would watch rin get emotional. he always got emotional.
you envy him, in that way.
he’s not afraid to cry, ever. even when it seems like a stupid reason to do it, he’ll tear up, let them fall freely. you never cry, not really. you remember getting sprayed in the face with a water gun and getting exasperated, but you’ve never let anyone see you cry. and rin...emotional and he is hot and cold and it seems like out of the blue that he’s going to iwatobi, and then even more out of the blue that he’s moving to australia.
it hurts, to be left. you know you’re not the only one to be left by rin.
but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.
if he’d stayed? if he stayed with you and sousuke, maybe you’d be better friends now. rin came back from australia the same, still the same, but he’s different. he’s discouraged, you can tell. he brushes you off, but you think if he had stayed, he’d think of you as a true friend.
he would’ve brought up australia, sitting next to you besides the vending machine outside of your elementary school. ”are you going to go?” and he’d shake his head, taking a sip from his orange soda. ”not if that means leaving all of you guys!” he’d exclaim, excitedly, and you’d beam, instantly lighting up.
he was staying? for you?
even if it wasn’t for you, he’d added you into that all encompassing ‘you guys’ which meant enough. it was enough to be thought about. the fact that he hadn’t said ‘not if that means leaving my friends at iwatobi’ would’ve made your heart nearly sing like songbirds on a sticky hot summer day.
”but australia is where you can go to get better at swimming, isn’t it?”
he’d turn to look at you, purple-red eyes pinning you and you feel like a butterfly stuck against the wall by little needles. ”i’ll work extra hard here! i’m going to beat haru, i’ll show him a sight he’s never seen before, for sure!” and you’d smile wider and turn to face him more fully. ”yeah! you can! there are great schools here!”
you know he’ll always be one to leave, but he comes back. he always comes back. not for you, but for someone.
you’d be happy if he was happy too, really, and as if out of no where, rin would sit up to face you more fully, sitting on his knees before suddenly he’d stretch his arms out and lean forward to pull you into a hug. you’re not sure why you’re blushing, it’s not like you’ve ever felt romantic feelings towards rin, but the fact that he was hugging you felt like you’d been chosen. silly, yes.
but it’d feel like a gust of fresh air on a hot summer’s day, it’d feel nice to know that rin liked you enough to hug you, wouldn’t it?
but he’s not thinking about you now. which is fine, you’ve never minded. his mind is always elsewhere, his mind is almost always
on at least one
of those other swimmers. you envy him, he’s got the world at his feet and even with his overwhelming emotion he’s never felt left behind. then again, he’s usually the one to leave, isn’t he?
but that's okay.
you don't mind waiting.