The snow loudly crunched under both of your steps.
Head ducked in your scarf, you solemnly watched the white crystal like substance being marked by your giddy – paced feet, while also trying to keep up with Makoto’s steps, who’s arm was still protectively draped around your shoulder. Whether to keep your body close to his or to keep you warm, you didn’t even know anymore. ...Nor did you really mind.
Only now did you notice how much you were quivering; both from shock and frigidity. He must have felt your shaking, and decided not to pull his arm back for which you were secretly more than thankful. You swore you’d have fallen or fainted by now, if he did.
Heaving a quiet sigh, you lifted your head a bit higher. The road you two were taking was deserted, the lack of passers – by being really conspicuous. Other then Makoto and you, nobody was there. It was also poorly illuminated. Only a few street lamps were actually working and even most of them were lightly flickering. In fact, the whole area looked a bit eerie rather then mysterious.
And yet, you didn’t feel endangered. To be honest, you thought this place to be strangely familiar...
But it didn’t take long to find out why. Step by step, you saw something appear in the distance, getting closer and bigger as you two made your way to it nearer and nearer. Something that cut the road in half. A neat little construction made out of fine wood. And under that a now frozen creak...!
Your breath momentarily got caught in your throat.
For a moment, sincere elation spread throughout your body. When was the last time you visited this cozy little place? A week or so, when it wasn’t even covered in snow! And the ornate little lights were still there, shedding a yellowish light on the powder - soft snow. You sighed with contentment.
It looked so beautiful.
And as if on cue, the snow began to fall again in light flocks. But even they didn’t bother you. In fact, you even felt yourself getting calmer as you watched the gentle flakes piruette down from the sky. It was peaceful and quiet. Tranquil and serene.
But even though the place you two reached made you feel a lot better, there was still that uncomfortable atmosphere lingering between you two. You heaved a sigh of frustration.
Fifteen minutes passed since you and Makoto left your workplace, and none of you managed to utter even a single word. You didn’t know about Makoto, but you at least tried to say something - anything - to break the awkward silence between you two. ...Only to get hit by a huge wave of discouragement, effectively making your half opened mouth shut.
The reason for this was actually Makoto himself. Or, to be precise, his currently unanalyzable mood.
You carefully peeked at him from under your eyelashes, observing his well chiseled profile.
Was he angry? Most probably. His furrowed brows and tense jawline seemed to give it away. The corners of his mouth were sharply curved south, openly showing the irritation he felt. Sometimes you could even feel his securely placed fingers on your upper arm twitch, making you slightly wince in surprise. But he was still staring right ahead with a determined face, eyes completely clouded with fury.
Yupp. He was definitively angry.
And yet, you couldn’t stop staring at him. Makoto being worried wasn’t anything new, but him being angry was something completely different. You didn’t even know that he was capable of being angry. In fact, the whole ordeal that happened earlier was so unbelievable that you wouldn’t have been surprised if you found yourself waking up at any minute, and realize that it was all a dream.
And yet again, you realized how little you knew about him...
However, your staring came to an abrupt halt when you saw him suddenly flicker his eyes to your shorter form. You gasped soundlessly, too surprised to even feel embarrassed about getting caught in your fixated gazing. But in a blink of an eye, his features visibly softened, and any trace of anger rapidly disappeared from his face.
Fully turning his head to your direction, he quietly observed your shy and insecure posture before he suddenly stopped in his tracks. You lightly bumped in to him, not awaiting his sudden halt, before you questioningly blinked up at him.
Worry wrinkles deepening on his forehead, he sternly asked.
”(Name). Is this what you have to endure everyday?”
You tiredly blinked at him once, letting his question sink in before you averted your gaze to the side, trying not to get intimidated by his towering height and scrutinizing eyes.
But it didn’t work. You suddenly felt like you were a little child again.
”Well, not everyday, but...”
Not finishing your quietly mumbled sentence, you shifted your eyes down to you feet, only to see one more pair to join them. Makoto stepping closer to you rested both of his hands firmly on your shoulders, and unknowingly forced you to look back up at him.
Concern twinkled in his apple green eyes.
They seemed to hold yours in place, not allowing your gaze to wander away. And If it wasn’t for the whole situation, you’d have surely took your time to observe those green irises of his a bit longer. But the way he was gripping your shoulders clearly told you, that his sudden proximity wasn’t for you to marvel at his emerald orbs. For a moment you thought that he didn’t hear you, so that’s why he stepped (and leaned) in closer to you.
But it only took you a quick glance at his lips to realize that that wasn’t the case. And thus, only seconds passed before he sharply inhaled, and then –
”(Name). Quit your job.”
There was a tense silence as you tried to understand the meaning of those words. Your mind echoed them over and over again in your head, and still; you didn’t want to believe what you just heard. And from whom you heard it.
Nothing made any sense anymore. You felt your head spin.
”W – what...?” you breathlessly whispered.
His strict stare rapidly transformed in to one of worry, and he loudly heaved a desperate sigh before he looked back at you.
”Please, (Name)! Why are you putting up with this? Why don’t you go search for another job? There are countless other opportunities for you to get work at, with coworkers that won’t be treating you like this!”
The tint of anger at the end of his sentence didn’t escape your ears, but you didn’t give it a second thought. With an irritated scoff, you replied.
”Oh, really? And you suppose I’m going to find a decent job, with decent payment and with decent coworkers, and even get payed the amount right of money just after I apply to keep my apartment, for which I - by the way – need money by due this week?!”
His eyes widened a bit with realization.
Of course. Your apartment. The one that had no proper heating, windows that rattled and a boiler that didn’t even function right.
A brief but heavy silence followed with the both of you staring at each other. You were almost about to step away from him and scold him for even thinking about something like that and even have the gall to suggest this to you.
He knew about your situation. He knew that you were working very hard to keep your apartment. So where the hell did this come from all of a sudden? How did he even get this idiotic idea?!
”You know what that would mean for me, right? I’d have to go back to my parents’ house or end up on the streets, or even worse! You know I can’t do that!”
”...Would that be really so horrible?” he asked quietly, while gravely staring down at the snowy path. And you snapped.
”YES, it would! Makoto, were you even listening to me yesterday?!” you practically shouted. But he didn’t even flinch at this. He continued observing your boot – clad feet, which was heavily coated with chunks of snow.
But on a closer look, you could see him slightly hesitating. For a good minute he was shifting his eyes everywhere but you, nervously blinking all the while. You could feel his fingers, that were still clinging on your shoulder, quiver for a minute. And you narrowed your eyes at him.
You were just about to question why he was behaving so uptigh, when he all of a sudden lifted his head, looked you deep in the eyes and -
”... Then move in with me.”
Your reaction was quick. Lips soundlessly parted in astonishment and your eyes slightly widened. This again...?
He nervously watched as your eyes slowly transformed in to angry slits. ”...Excuse me?” you asked coldly.
Gripping your arms harder, he stepped closer to you, with an almost pleading expression.
”Please, (Name)! Think about it. You could quit your job, leave your apartment, and move in with me. You could stay there as long as you’d like it. I wouldn’t mind, really!”
But he wasn’t even finished with his sentence when you frantically begun to shake your head, not even willing to listen to the end of it. Annoyed, you grabbed on to his hands in order to shake them off your shoulder.
”Makoto, I thought we already talked about this! I told you that I’m going to think about it!”
”But that’s exactly the problem, (Name)! You aren’t going to think about it, because you don’t even want to think about it!” he retorted with the same amount of volume. At this, you instantly whipped your head back to him, the offense clear on your face.
The fright quickly grabbed his heart at your reaction, and he quickly took his cue to explain himself as fast as he could.
”No, I... I didn’t mean it like that - ”
”Oh, yes, you did mean it like that. And you know what?” you said to him, quickly loosing your temper.
”You are completely right! I don’t want to think about it! And you know why?” you briefly paused, and turned around to face the vast, snow coated field. ”Because that would mean that I’m a fucking failure!”
At this, he could only stand there shocked and rooted to the place as he watched you cry your frustration out to the silent and bare threes.
”I had to go through so much shit and humiliation to get that freaking job! But I always chanted to myself, that it will be worth it! That it will eventually pay off! The good salary is worth it,” you cried, pacing back and forth but keeping your back turned to Makoto.
”And when that day finally came, and I was notified that they hired me, I was overjoyed! At last, I thought! It did pay off! From now on I could take care of myself, live in an own apartment and get away from my parents’ house! Shortly after I moved into Mrs. Tanaka’s appartment and for half a year everything went relatively smoothly! But of course that couldn’t last forever! Of course she had to pass away and leave me...!”
You suddenly took in a deep breath, trying to calm yourself down. Of course you knew that you couldn’t blame your landlady for anything that happened to you, but by now all reason left your mind and it just felt so good to cry out all your pent up frustration.
Tenderly pressing two fingers to either side of your temples, you closed your eyes shut.
Your head was painfully throbbing, and it felt as it would explode any minute. But after a short delay, you gripped yourself together, and turned around to face Makoto, who was still patiently listening to you.
”I know that I’m in knee – deep shit right now, and probably on my lowest point I’ve ever been in my life. But there is still hope. I can make it. I already talked to my boss about a pay – raise this morning. All I have to do is work a bit overtime this week, and that’s all. Do you know how much courage that took me? And now you expect me to just walk in and tell him that I quit...?!”
All the while he quietly watched you with doleful and grave eyes. Not really understanding why he suddenly looked so crestfallen, you slightly raised an eyebrow at him.
”...What is it?”
”So you’d rather bear harassment at work, then quit and move in to my place...?”
You dangerously squinted your eyes at him. Is he for real?!
Feeling your blood pressure rise, your lips were already forming an ’Y’ shape before you stopped yourself with a grunt. ”NO! That wasn’t what I meant, damn it!”
He just watched you with a poker face, as you continued. ”Katsuo has been acting like this towards me since I started working there! This isn’t anything new to me. I can handle him!”
”Is that so?” he asked with a tint of annoyance, before he raised his arm to the direction you both came from. ”You call that handling him?!”
And with that, he suddenly stepped dangerously close to you. ”(Name), do you realize what could have happened if I didn’t show up...?”
You already opened your mouth, ready to retort, not shying away from him, ...but not a word left your lips. The question left you at loss of words. His eyebrows furrowed in worry as he watched you trying to come up with an answer, but nothing came.
To be honest, you never really thought about that. Then again ...this was the farthest Katsuo has ever come in means of harassment. And even then, this was just a sick game for him.
Not that the sole notion of this didn’t leave you uneasy or uncomfortable, but you figured you’d survive him somehow. You had to if you wanted to keep your job. ...Right?
Just when you were completely lost in your thoughts, two well – trained arms suddenly enveloped you in to a just as well trained chest, leaving you gaping in surprise. Makoto firmly hugged you. You felt yourself freeze, eyes widening with surprise and confusion at his sudden display of affection.
With bathed breath you waited, as he rested his head on your shoulder, quite close to your neck. His soft, brown locks tickled the sensitive skin on your neck and ear.
For a while he just stood there holding you close to himself, while you couldn’t do anything but stand there paralyzed. He was holding on to you as if you would vanish any second. And while his scent was really pleasant, and his body comfortable and warm, you still felt your arms move up and half – heartedly press against his chest.
But he didn’t let you go. You blinked.
”...Makoto?” you quietly whispered.
He painfully sighed and his warm breath hit your skin, sending shivers down your spine.
”You have no idea what I’d do if something happened to you. I don’t want you to go back there ever again,” he murmured close to your ear.
You were surprised beyond belief. Of course you knew that he was really worried about you, but ...you’d never thought that he was this worried... Almost desperately pleading to you to quit your job.
In that moment you realized that he was probably more scared of what happened to you before, then you were... And you felt guilt build up in your chest. He only wanted to help you, yet here you were practically scolding him for that.
Feeling ashamed, you retracted your hands from his chest, and wrapped them around his back, returning the hug. You felt him stiffen from surprise, but it didn’t take long for him to quickly melt in to your embrace.
Resting your head against his shoulder, you felt fatigue wash over your body. Makoto’s body was warm, and you honestly wouldn’t have minded to fall asleep in his arms, then and there.
At this, he lifted his head from your shoulder. ”What for...?”
Feeling yourself blush, you buried your head in his chest, which he welcomed more than happily, tightening his arms around you ever so slightly. Your voice was muffled by his jacket, but he heard you clearly.
”For giving you a tongue lashing earlier. I know you mean well, but I just really want to do this on my own. I mean, a lot of our classmates from Iwatobi are already married, have families and even children, and steady, successful jobs, and here am I not even able to keep one lousy apartment...”
He quietly listened to you, and nervously placed his chin on the top of your head. ...And let out a quiet, suppressed breath of air when he saw that you didn’t push him away. In fact, it seemed that you even snuggled closer to his neck...
”(Name). You know that everything that has ever happened to you since your landlady passed away wasn’t under your control. And why are you suddenly comparing yourself to others? This isn’t some kind of competition.”
”I know...,” you sighed in his jacket. ”I just... I feel like I failed at growing up.”
Makoto quietly chuckled, and you strangely didn’t get angry at him for this. Your head resting against his chest made it possible for you to hear his laugh vibrate in his chest from directly up – close.
It was heavenly, and you found yourself quietly laughing with him.
...And thus you didn’t see the guilty expression that replaced his smile shortly after his chuckle died down.
”...You know. I am going to apologize as well,” he meekly whispered to you. Surprised, you lifted your head from his chest, and looked at him beyond confused.
”W – what? ...Why?”
He shot you an uneasy smile.
”I shouldn’t pester you with this whole ’move in with me’ stuff. ...It’s kind of creepy if I think about it like that,” he told you with cheeks burning red.
”Oh ...no! It’s not creepy. Believe me, I appreciate it, really! Don’t think I’m creeped out by you or anything. I’m sure it would be wonderful to live with you - ”
You didn’t even realize what kind of image came to Makoto’s mind at this particular sentence, making him blush harder.
” – But I’ll firstly try to solve this all on my own. Give me one more chance. ...Okay?”
He locked his eyes with you, before he nodded and shot you his trademark smile. ”Okay.”
And with this, you two slowly proceeded to continue on your way home. Makoto wordlessly lifted his bent arm towards you, and you quickly caught on to why. You couldn’t help but give him a radiant smile, as you held on to his arm, comfortably snuggling to his side.
Just like a week ago.
Even now, his tall and broad – shouldered form didn’t leave you cold. You had to sigh contentedly as his inviting warmth protected you from the chilly air, instinctively making you lean up closer against him.
And needless to say, you blushed a faint pink as you felt him reciprocate this.
It took the two of you a few steps before you eventually reached the snow - coated wooden bridge. Makoto briefly observed the tiny snowflakes that were caught in your hair.
They perfectly decorated your luscious locks, making you look like you were a mythical figure that stepped out from a fairy tale. When the various light bulbs shed their dim light on you, he was near believing that...
But before you looked up, he subtly turned his head in to the opposite direction from where you stood. A faint shade of red colored his cheeks, but it didn’t appear as suspicious as it should have been because of the weather. That being said, you didn’t need to see a blush to feel Makoto’s nervousness slowly reappear.
Looking up, you saw him slightly biting the insides of his cheek.
Deciding not to dwell on this too much, you asked him.
”Makoto? Is something the matter? You look a bit ...fidgety.”
Hearing your voice made him stiffen a bit, and he looked forward for a while, before he cleared his throat.
”No, it’s uh ...everything’s all right,” he answered you, finishing his sentence with a short and awkward little chuckle, before he then continued.
”...I was just thinking that... well...”
You only blinked at him, waiting for him to finish what he started.
” – I’m going to be holding training for my students tomorrow at the Sport Center I work at. So they don’t get out of shape and all. The indoor swimming hall will be properly heated, of course, and it will only last an hour and a half.”
This was followed by a short little silence, before he gave you a side glance, and you watched him with bathed breath, already guessing what was about to come.
”...Would you like to come and watch?”
At this you loudly exhaled with a quiet laugh. He watched you as you nodded at him with a sweet smile, and he felt something warm spread throughout his chest, whilst his heart painfully picked up its speed. Shooting you a little grin, he laughed along with you, before he turned his head afore, suddenly feeling really happy.
After you two passed the bridge, a comfortable silence settled between you two.
That was until you broke it.
”Oh, by the way. I had the best sleep last night since forever!”
...Cue his face getting red all over again.
The next day came much slower than you had thought it would.
Waking up in your slightly shabby room, you smiled as you felt your body to be well - rested. Snuggling your face back in your pillow with a quiet sigh, you tried to get back to sleep, seeing as you had the whole morning to yourself.
But a slight burning feeling in your stomach prevented you from doing that. It felt like some kind of knot has been tangling itself there since yesterday.
That being said you didn’t give it much thought as you sat up and gave out a hearty yawn, stretching your arms upwards, feeling your bones and joints crack and pop.
Doing your best to bundle up in your warm covers, you stood up and made your way to the kitchen. You followed your mourning routine, just as you would have done any other day.
But as you were about to drink from your cup of hot tea, you couldn’t help but notice how much your hand was shaking.
’...Uh. Must be the cold’, you guessed. And with that you shrugged and went back continuing your breakfast.
After that you went showering, using your opportunity of showering with boiled water. You secretly hoped that the knot in your stomach would ease out after you washed yourself, but it seemed that it wasn’t just about to disappear because you soaked yourself in hot water.
If anything, you felt as if it got tighter and bigger...
But this peculiar feeling in your stomach wasn’t the only anomaly you noticed about yourself. Your palms seemed to get sweatier, even though there was still no heating in your apartment. Your legs and feet were also restless; shaking and tapping whenever you stood still or sat down.
And this is were - with a grim expression - recognized and admitted to yourself, that you were indeed restless about something.
But despite how many times you told yourself that you aren’t nervous, you still caught yourself biting your under lip and nails; occasionally taking long glances at the clock on your wall and watching as the arrows slowly, ever so slowly ticked the time away.
Though it wasn’t until you caught yourself heavily contemplating on what kind of outfit you’ll be wearing, when you got to the realization that you were actually excited for this day’s afternoon. Feeling strangely giddy.
And you already had a hunch why, but you just weren’t about to admit this to yourself...
Standing in front of your mirror, you observed your antsy self, a serious shadow hanging upon your face.
’Would it be better to wear my white blouse or my black empire waist shirt? He said the place will be properly heated, so if he and his students will be okay in nothing but swimsuits, then I guess I won’t have any problem with wearing lighter clothing,’ you thought to yourself, as you pressed the black empire shirt to your form.
...Just to make a face at the mirror a few seconds after that, and throw the piece of clothing behind you, the shirt ungracefully falling on your bed with a soft whisper of clothing.
Then you nodded at your reflection with a satisfied smile. ’The white blouse is it.’
And thus, you started undressing yourself and went to your wardrobe to retrieve a grey -ish colored jeans.
Before trying it on though, you eyed the fabric in your hands, making absolutely sure that it was in a good quality. But after not finding anything out of place, you shrugged and proceeded to hoist it up your legs.
’I hope he will think it’s okay,’ you thought and a gentle smile, unknowingly to you, appeared on your face.
Buttoning it up, you turned around and grabbed your white blouse.
...And it was just halfway down on your arms and above your head, when you suddenly froze in your movements. You silently watched your reflection, which was currently looking back at you with wide eyes and overall confused expression.
’W- wait a minute! Since when do I care what Makoto thinks of my clothing choices?!’
The thought just kinda happened, would anyone say and shrug it off, but the back of your mind told you that this was not the case. Seeing your reflection getting slightly flustered at this, you continued dressing yourself.
’I never really cared what he thinks of my clothes or looks, aside from that one time when he came rushing in the middle of the night to my apartment. But at that time I was in a state where I’d have gotten ashamed of myself regardless who saw me like that...’
With a sigh, you looked back in your mirror and took note how those skinny jeans hugged your legs and how that white blouse seemed to enhance your bust and hips. This outfit looked really good on you...
Eyeing yourself in the mirror, you suddenly got a bit unsettled.
’I mean... it’s not like we are going on a date...’
You slowly spun around once, feeling your cheeks getting hotter at the thought.
By the time Makoto came to your place to pick you up, you’ve blushed a million times.
Honestly, you’re face slowly transformed in to a strange play of light between pale and red, and you were already on believing that this would later on have a serious impact on your overall health if you didn’t stop.
You tried, really, - but alas, you couldn’t help it.
You could keep it relatively under control when you were outside and on your way with Makoto to the Sports Center, since the cold outside actually helped to cool your cheeks, while at the same time you could also finger point it on the weather if he were to question it.
...But you found yourself in quite a serious problem, when your eyes set themselves on Makoto, who just recently emerged from a dressing cabin, in nothing but skin – tight jammers.
Eyes wide, you couldn’t help but stare at him for a good while. Dear Lord. With his wide shoulders and brawny torso, he looked like a marble statue that just came to life.
His muscles bulged with every movement, and you felt yourself getting goosebumps the moment your eyes traced his muscular back and shoulders. Bashfully tearing your gaze away from his well trained body, you put a hand against your now blazing cheek and bit your lip.
You knew that he was in a really good shape, but you would have never thought that he was this fit. Even though you were already present on one of his training sessions back in high school with Gou, you just simply didn’t remember him looking this fine.
Well, great. Looks like you’ll be having flushed cheeks all day long.
In the meantime Makoto deftly grabbed his training jacket and put it on, absolutely unaware of your admiring gazes, before he walked closer to the bench you were currently waiting for him. With a gentle smile, he stopped before you.
”Well, I’m ready. Shall we go?”
You just managed to nod at him and smile uncertainly; the blush still not refusing to disappear from your face. ...Which now was getting suspicious to him. As you two made your way to the swimming pools, he suddenly asked.
”...Are you sure you’re all right? Your face has been red since I picked you up from your place... ”
”Ah, no! It’s fine! Really!” you reassured him a little too enthusiastically. You felt him observing your fidgeting form from the corner of his eyes, but you were too embarrassed to actually make eye – contact with him, so you hoped that if you just stared right ahead, he would –
”Let me measure your temperature, (Name),” he suddenly told you in a gentle and quiet voice, as he stopped in his track and stepped in front of you. His brawny and muscular form blocked your way, and you couldn’t help but let out a quiet gasp, as he leaned in close to your face and rested his big palm against your forehead.
Not knowing where to look, you just decided to stare at both of your feet as you listened to him hum in worry.
His hand against your forehead, his face only inches away from you made you only more flustered. You could feel his cool breath caress your hot cheeks, which unrationally did not help them cool down.
Especially given that he was currently standing in front of you half – naked; giving you a perfect view of his ripped stomach and chest.
...And you found yourself unable to look away as your eyes set themselves on his body – for the second time today. ...But really. Who could blame you? It’s not an everyday occurrence to stand in front of a very attractive young boy, this close, who had the body of a Greek god. You felt your face getting redder.
Said Greek god suddenly spoke up.
”Hmm. You don’t seem to have a temper, (Name), but I would keep an eye out for any other symptoms that may appear later. Your appartment still does not have any heating, right? I hope you didn’t catch a cold...”
He said this so quietly, that you almost thought he would lean in even closer to you and whisper it to you. Innocently peeking up at him, you saw him gently smiling back at you.
...And you were about to imitate his smile, when his hand all of a sudden slipped down to your still blazing cheek. Breath caught in your throat, and you couldn’t help but stare back at him, quietly awaiting his next move.
Your lips subconsciously parted...
But you felt slightly disappointed, when his hand continued its path southwards and stopped at your chin, eventually going back to the side of his owner.
”Please be careful, (Name),” he told you, shooting you one last warm smile, before he turned around and made his way to the swimming pool.
Miliseconds passed with you standing rooted to the place, staring after him with a dazed expression, before you slightly shaked your head and with quick steps went after him.
Your cheeks, however, were still as red as ever.
If not more.
Even before you entered the prestigious place, you could clearly hear joyous laughter and chatter resonating from the swimming hall. No doubt, the kids having fun in the pool while waiting for their coach.
Makoto opened the heavy metal doors of the hall, and stepped aside as to let you in first, like the gentleman he was. You nodded and smiled at him, already stepping in the chlorine smelling place. Your eyes immediately swept over the hall.
It was huge; having two swimming pools and various equipments scattered around the whole place! At both sides of the hall were long lines of plastic seats, specially built for spectators and viewers. The roof was made out of glass, but the thick layer of snow resting on it blocked your view from the sky.
Still, you found the interior of this place to be quite nice.
Taking a few more steps inside, you continued observing both swimming pools, and the clear water inside of them. The water sure looked tempting. And despite it being winter, you weren’t cold, even though you were dressed in your light blouse.
Makoto was right. This place really is well – heated.
You were so enraptured with the build of the whole swimming hall, that you didn’t even notice Makoto already walking past you and greeting his pupils. The kids immediately leapt out of the water the moment they saw their trainer approaching.
Loudly laughing and cheering, a few of them even hurled themselves against Makoto’s torso and hips, giving him a huge bear hug.
”SENSEI!” they gleefully shouted, while Makoto tried not to loose his footing from the horde of the kids that just playfully attacked him. He gave out a melodious laughter and started gently patting and ruffling several heads around him, in hopes that they will let go of him. But they continued clinging on to him, laughing all the while, for they haven’t seen their beloved trainer for a good while.
You, all the while, stood several steps away from this heart – melting scene and smiled to yourself. It was so sweet watching how he handled his students. And you could just as much understand why the kids were so over the moon with him. Who wouldn’t be? He’s a sweetheart...
After watching them for a while, you slowly and tentatively made your way beside him.
...And it didn’t take long before one of the children spotted your approaching figure.
Makoto watched as one of the boys, that was tightly clinging to his legs, suddenly raised his tiny arm and pointed somewhere behind him.
”H – hey! Who is she?” He gasped with innocent curiosity, his big brown eyes never leaving your form.
At this, the other kids stopped with smothering their trainer and collectively turned their heads toward you. This made you quietly gulp and stop in your tracks. If that little scene back in the corridors with Makoto didn’t set your cheeks on fire, this sudden shift of attention on you sure as hell did.
Makoto freed himself from the crowd of tiny ones, and took a few steps in your direction, until he was right beside you. Taking one hand, he rested it on your shoulder and turned back to his pupils.
”This person here is my friend, Miss (Last name). We were classmates back in high school, and I decided that I would bring her along to today’s training, so she can see how talented you all are at swimming. Please, say hello to her and treat her well.”
At his introduction, you shyly waved at them. ”Hi. Nice to meet you.”
The reaction of the children to this were all individually different. Some of them stepped closer to you, big eyes twinkling in sudden interest and even admiration, while there were ones who were observing you from a safe distance, too shy to approach you.
Sweeping your eyes over them, you inwardly concluded that they couldn’t have been older than ten. The crowd around you was just about to disperse, so Makoto could begin the training, when all of a sudden a boy with light hair hastily emerged from the crowd and confidently stepped in front of you.
Makoto and you both watched perplex, as said boy decisively held out his hand for you, while not managing to suppress the archly grin on his face.
”Good afternoon, Miss (Last name)! I am Mamoru. Nice to meet you!”
Not really knowing how to handle his forwardness, you quickly exchanged looks with Makoto, before you tentatively reached your hand in his. Mamoru’s grin only widened when he saw you giving him your hand, and didn’t hesitate on grabbing it and scrupulously shaking it.
At this you smiled. His actions clearly showed how hard he tried to act as a mature grown up. ...And you couldn’t help but let out a quiet chuckle as he all of a sudden pulled your hand closer to his mouth and planted an innocent little kiss on the back of it, making the children around you gasp loudly.
...And thus, you didn’t notice Makoto slightly tensing up at this display of affection.
The kids came even closer when they noticed that you didn’t get angry at Mamoru. They stepped closer, weary but curious at the same time.
After Mamoru let go of your hand, he looked back up at you and with determined eyes straightened his posture, obviously very set on telling you something. His cheeks getting a bit rosy, he gulped, before –
”I – I would also like to tell you Miss (Last Name) that I think you are really p – pretty...!”
At this you felt Makoto’s hand slightly squeeze your shoulder, obviously not awaiting his pupil’s sudden confession. But Mamoru’s sudden outburst of opinion did not only faze him.
It also seemed to start some kind of domino effect on the children around you.
After some silence, they opened up and started loudly whispering and chatting with each other.
”You know, he is kinda right...,” nodded a boy to another not far away from you.
”She seems like a really friendly person, too! I bet she uses some nice perfume as well.”
The girls, however, were the one who were moved by this the most. ”Aah, I hope I will grow up to be as pretty as Miss (Last Name)! Do you think she already has someone...?”
”What do you mean?! She should definitely get together with Sensei!”
The girls swooned.
”Yes! You are right! I bet Sensei likes her too!”
Cue loud, childish snickering erupting from them.
But before they could further discuss what kind of dress you would wear on your wedding or how many babies you two would have, Makoto suddenly started loudly clapping.
”O – okay, children, listen up! Now that you got to know Miss (Last Name), please go and have your usual warm – up routine. Start by stretching, holding one pose for 15 seconds. Then repeat this in the water, too.”
”Yes, Sensei!” they saluted and then scattered, diligently setting themselves for a warm – up. Before turning around, Mamoru shot you one last cheeky smile, before he went to follow his teammates.
For a while you watched the children doing various warming – up exercises. Full of energy and fired up for today’s training, they were animatedly chatting with each other, even when doing the most back – breaking exercises.
This made you giggle. You wouldn’t even be able to think, much less utter words if you were to do the same exercises as them.
A quiet sigh from beside you snapped you out of your thoughts.
Turning your head to the side, you saw Makoto with slightly furrowed brows staring ahead, observing the kids, one of his hand on the side of his neck. Getting worried, you asked:
”Is something wrong?”
He blinked back at you, and with an uncertain smile shaked his head. ”No... I just... wanted to apologize on behalf my students. ...And for Mamoru’s brash behaviour.”
You just stared back at him, not really understanding what he meant by that.
”It was a while since they had practice so they got really excited for today’s training. It is also rare for me to bring anyone along, so your presence practically highlighted today’s practice. And Mamoru is a really ...lively kid, to say the least. He loves attention and easily opens up... - ” And you were sure that he would have continued giving you a long explanation wrapped up with a sincere apology, but you interrupted him with a quiet laugh.
With surprise evident on his face, he stared back at you. You just waved your hand.
”Oh, but what are you talking about? Mamoru did me no harm. He surprised me, is all, but I actually found him quite adorable. And your students didn’t do anything wrong, either. You know how curious children are. Of course they’d get excited, after all, they seem to really love swimming, along with their Sensei...,” you told him, whilst turning your head afore, continuing to watch the children.
...And thus you didn’t notice the blush that gradually appeared on his cheeks nor the light layer of sweat that broke out on his skin.
He inwardly wondered if you even heard what those girls quietly discussed earlier...
The loud noise of water sloshing gradually seemed to quiet down.
The kids – now exhausted from today’s training - slowly swam their way out of the swimming pools, looking as if they were about to fall asleep on the spot, having used up all their energy.
After an hour and an half, training came to an end.
You watched the whole training from one of the plastic seats, having a really nice side - view of the whole practice. The children were adorable, surprisingly diligent and well – behaved. They listened and watched with new - found curiosity as Makoto explained and showed them how to master the ever so famous breaststroke.
He was patient and gladly explained everything his pupils were interested in regarding swimming. Twice or even thrice if they forgot. You found it endearing how well he could handle kids.
Mamoru sometimes happily waved at you, determined to get your attention and set your eyes on nobody else but him. Chuckling, you occasionally waved back at him or gave him a thumbs up if he got an exercise right, which made him gleefully grin, being proud of his accomplishments.
And just like that time flew by. And all this time you never even noticed the affectionate expression that gradually appeared on your face. Watching the heart – warming relationship and bond between coach and team unfold in front of you, your surroundings kinda disappeared, and all you could see was Makoto and the children.
But while you completely forgot about yourself, Makoto caught you from the corner of his eyes, and his breath got stuck in his throat when he saw the warmth your eyes radiated and that smile of yours...
...All this directed to him and his students. For a moment he forgot to speak, and only managed to stare back at you, as if hypnotized. It took a tiny hand tugging at his hand to snap him out of his trance.
”Sensei! Is something wrong?” asked one little girl, after noticing his coach’s gaze was no longer observing her and her teammates. Makoto blinked and immediately turned back to the little girl. Smiling, he reassured her, ”Uh, ...no. Everything’s fine. I just remembered something...”
This, of course, did not escape the attention of the two girls from before.
Their eyes excitedly watched every little movement of their Sensei, from his glances to his body language – like he was a little animal to be experimented on. With bathed breath, they exchanged mischievous glances and started quietly snickering and giggling, making sure that Makoto and the others did not hear them.
”See? I told ya’! Sensei likes her!” said one of them, her eyes glinting in manic glee.
Her friend vigorously nodded, absolutely agreeing with this. ”Yes, you were completely right! And just look at Miss (Last Name)’s expression! It’s so earnest and full of love; love I tell you! She loves him!”
They glanced one last time at the both of you, quietly laughing from pure giddiness. They were excited of course. It was just like a real – life reenactment from one of their favorite drama shows! With the protagonists being completely enamored with each other, but both of them being too oblivious to see this and too shy to admit it.
...And given that they were experts when it came to drama shows , they knew by heart that all the two main characters needed was just a little ...push.
Another joyful laughter escaped the two girls, and after calming down a bit, they grinned at each other and nodded, with mischief twinkling in their eyes.
You stood up from your place, as you saw the kids one – by – one exiting the water.
Sluggishly moving a few feet away from the pool, they plopped down on the cold, ceramic floor, and slowly started on their after training exercise.
You went to stand beside Makoto, who was the last one exiting the pool. Briefly glancing around, your eyes found his towel that was laid down on his duffle bag close to the plastic seats at the entrance. Without thinking you went and retrieved it for him. He smiled and thanked you.
As he towel - dried his hair, you turned and continued watching the kids stretch. Some of them were so tired, that they started yawning mid – stretch and there were even ones who were quietly groaning from exhaustion.
Brows furrowing in worry, you asked Makoto. ”Are they all right? They look really worn out. Why do they need to stretch after training?”
Makoto – being finished with drying his hair – wrapped the towel around his muscular neck, and with a smile explained. ”It’s better to stretch after swimming, as well. This will help clear waste products from the muscles and also help with post – exercise flexibility. Plus, it will be a lot easier for them to relax later on.”
You aha – d in understanding, and you both went silent for a while, before Makoto broke it again.
”...Looks like your cheeks have gone back to their normal color.”
He quietly chuckled at your reaction. ”Your cheeks, (Name).”
You hastily put a hand on the right side of your face, and smiled. ”Ah... yes. You’re right.”
Makoto stepped before you and leaned in closer. ’...Just like back in the corridors’, shot this thought through your mind. His hand found its way back to your cheek, his skin still a bit wet and wrinkly from the chlorinated water, but this did not lessen the strange sensation cursing through your body.
”I’m glad you’re all right. I was getting worried that you had caught a fever. I hope that you are taking care of yourself, (Name). Drink lots of tea and wear warm clothes when you’re in your apartment. You still have enough to eat, right? ...And you know you can call me anytime, if you need something...”
It was the moment, were you would have grabbed his hand and gently squeezed it. The moment were you would have smiled back at him and reassured him, that you were fine. The moment were he would have uncertainly asked again if you were sure, just so you could squarely nod back at him and repeat that you were indeed fine, and that he shouldn’t worry so much.
But you did nothing. Couldn’t do anything.
For the next few seconds suddenly passed by like a flash. You only remember feeling a force from behind you push you in to Makoto, and Makoto’s hands securely gripping your upper arms, hearing him grunt as he loses his balance...
... and then eventually falls with you headfirst in to the pool. It came so sudden, that you didn’t even had the time to shriek or gasp. And although the water wasn’t cold, it still came as shock when you felt the hard surface of it harshly hit your skin.
Heart beating erratically, you could only encircle your arms around Makoto’s neck and grip on him for dear life, as he hugged you closer to his form and then quickly swam to the surface.
As you two resurfaced, you immediately gulped in a big gulf of air, filling your lungs with sweet oxygen, and heavily panting, trying to calm your heart.
The children stopped with their stretching the moment you two tumbled in the pool, running to the pool with loud gasps and shrieks.
Makoto made sure that your feet were steadily standing on the ceramic floor of the pool, refusing to loosen his grip around you, til’ you didn’t catch your breath. He quickly brushed the wet hair out of your face. ”(Name)! Are you all right?” he asked breathlessly, worry evident in his voice.
You mutely nodded back at him a few times, to reassure him that you were okay. Just very shocked. ...And very soaked.
He was about to ask something else, most probably regarding your well – being, when two voices from the side of the pool suddenly spoke up, voice dripping with mock apology.
”Ooops ~ ! Sorry, sensei! Sorry Miss (Last Name)! Our bad! We were so absorbed in our exercises that we just didn’t notice you two standing there.”
Makoto and you looked up. Standing at the side were two girls, wearing poorly masked smiles and trying to look as innocent as ever. It was those girls who were ever so religiously discussing and analyzing the relationship between you two.
And even thought they were making their absolute best to look like angels sent from heaven, who just accomplished a great duty, Makoto’s otherwise open features were now drawn together in pure annoyance and scepticism.
”Hana. Maiko. What is the meaning of this?” He asked them strictly, as he helped you climb out of the pool. The girls just stared back at him, feigning innocence.
”Whaaaat? Sensei! We swear to God, we didn’t do anything deliberately! Isn’t that right, Maiko?” The latter silently nodded a few times, with both of her eyebrows raised high, determined to confirm everything her friend said.
Makoto gave you a dry towel from his duffle bag, after you both got out of the pool.
”Out on the corridor, you will find a door on your left. Go in there, it’s a changing room. There you’ll find some spare clothes, that will most probably fit you. And don’t worry; nobody will barge in. I made sure that my group will be the only and last one occupying the swimming hall and it’s changing rooms and lockers for today,” he quietly whispered to your ear, his cool breath hitting the shell of your ear, making you shiver.
He, however, misunderstood this as a sign of you getting really cold, and immediately ushered you towards the corridor. You nodded and with quick steps left the hall.
Shivering, you hugged yourself with your arms and searched for the door Makoto told you about.
You could faintly hear him scolding the two girls as you distanced yourself from the hall, wandering the long corridor, soaked and quivering.
The changing room you entered was dark and relatively big. Squinting your eyes, you tried your best to find a light switch, but then eventually gave up after aimlessly tracing the coarse coating of the wall with both of your hands and finding nothing.
A thin ray of grey light shined through a rectangular window near – by and with a heavy sigh you resigned yourself to make out your way in the dark.
Carefully ambling to the closest locker, you grabbed its door and opened it, not really sure what you’ll find there. ...But even in the dark you could clearly make out that in there was nothing. Shrugging once, you nonchalantly closed the door and went to the next locker. With a creak it opened wide, but even this one was empty. Sighing in uncertainty, you turned around and rested your eyes on the lockers across from you.
’What? Will I have to open every single one to find some spare clothing? I’ll freeze to death by the time I actually find one god damn piece of clothing.’
Inwardly grumbling, you turned back and tried your luck with the next one. ...And with the neighbor locker. ...And with the one next to that. Several minutes passed before you were finished with one row of lockers.
By now you were so cold that you didn’t even have the will to complain anymore. Deeming it pointless to continue your search, you were just about to turn around and go back to Makoto when –
”Aah - !” slipped the shriek out from your mouth, which made the person standing before you jump as well.
”(Name?)” asked Makoto, and hesitantly came closer to you. After standing frozen for a few seconds, you put a hand over your heart and gave out a quiet sigh of relief. ”D – don’t scare me like that. Whew, did you gave me a fright. ...I didn’t even hear you entering,” you told him, voice lightly quivering.
”Oh. Sorry about that,” he apologized as he stepped in front of you. ”I just came to check upon you. The kids already left, so we’re the only ones left.” His voice suddenly turned quieter. ”...And I also wanted to apologize in the name of the girls. They claim that they honestly did not saw you, and I want to believe them but I just can’t get rid of the feeling that they did it purposefully...” But of course he didn’t told you why exactly he thought that.
He started rubbing the back of his neck. ”So, I’m really sorry for causing you so much trouble, (Name). I didn’t mean all this to happen. I understand if you’re angry and annoyed...,” Despite it being dark, you could make out that he was telling you all this with his head bowed in shame. You leapt closer to him, and rested one of your hands on his shoulder and reassuringly squeezed it.
”Oh, Mako. I am not angry. Nor at you or your students.” And with a sudden urge of empathy, took one more step closer to him and gingerly lifted his head by his chin.
”Mistakes and mishaps happen, that’s just how life works. You can’t blame yourself for them. ...And if you want to hear my honest opinion, I actually enjoyed myself today. I was a while since I had a nice dip like this,” you finished with a quiet giggle, and he looked up with slight surprise. ”...Really?” he asked, still as quietly as before. You stared back in his eyes and smiled. ”...Really.”
He smiled back at you, though this time it did not reach his eyes. Your own faltered seeing his tired smile. You would have continued reassuring him, that you enjoyed today’s outing, when his eyes suddenly shifted southwards...
”...(Name)? Why are you still wearing your wet clothes?”
Blinking once, you remembered your previous dilemma and in an instant perked up.
”Oh, right! I’m really glad that you came, because I couldn’t find any spare clothing in here. Truth to be told, I haven’t checked all the lockers, but I already finished searching through the row behind me, and found nothing. The dark makes it only harder for me, but I couldn’t find the light sw -...”
You suddenly stopped with your explanation, when you felt Makoto’s stare on you; observing your damp form from head to toe, with a strange, enigmatic expression. ...And was it just you or did he get closer to you...?
”(Name)...?” Makoto asked in a hushed whisper and as his breath hit your cheek, you were absolutely sure that you weren’t wrong. He did step closer to you. Much closer...
”...I, ah... as I was saying, I...,” you tried to spit it out, but the mere awareness of his sudden proximity made you a nervous, wobbly mess. Looking up, you saw his green eyes twinkle in the dim light, and your breath got caught in your throat when you realized that he was practically cornering you to the lockers behind you.
”Yes, as you were saying...?” he asked with the same tone as before. His voice was gentle, yet there was clearly some hidden, underlying tone that you have never ever heard coming from him. It was almost absurd.
You already forgot his question, completely absorbed in your contemplation about the situation you currently found yourself to be. You could only stare at his muscular, well – chiseled chest as it softly rose and fell, his breath caressing your skin and making the fine hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
Your eyes followed a path all the way up his collarbones and neck – eventually finding yourself face to face with his handsome features. His lips were already parted, and you could feel it on your own whenever a soft puff escaped his.
Green eyes were boring in to yours and from time – to – time glanced down at your lips; his intent clearly showing.
Makoto just couldn’t help himself. As he saw you standing there with your soaked shirt, that was hugging and clinging to your form; and a few buttons being undone, exposing your collarbones and decoletté, he felt a strange, warmth – like feeling pool in his abdomen.
Along with your damp hair, that was now wildly framing your face, and a few drops of water still sliding down your lips... It was enough to make him move...
...And just like that, time seemed to slow down when suddenly both of you leaned in, quickly erasing the distance between you two.
His mouth enveloped yours with heart – quickening passion, and you could only blush as you felt him sigh in appreciation. His lips massaged and moved yours in ways that sent sparks down your spine.
You wrapped your arms around his neck, inviting him closer, to which he put his hands on your hips, drawing them closer to his.
A few minutes earlier you were shivering from the cold, but Makoto actually managed to warm you up.
With growing enthusiasm, he deepened the kiss with a quiet moan, tongue slipping past your lips, and your heart jumped in surprise at this.
You didn’t know he could be this forward. ...And you didn’t want to assume anything but somehow this did not feel like just a spur – of – the – moment kiss. No... There was something more...
Short on air, he suddenly broke the passionate lip – lock, and leaned his forehead against yours, all the while trying to get back as much air as possible in his lungs.
”(Name)...,” he panted, eyes half – lidded. He suddenly rested his head on the junction of your neck and closed his eyes.
”I’m sorry. ... I’m so sorry, (Name)...,” he whispered against your neck, his arms on your waist tightening. A short delay followed, and you were just about to ask him why he was apologizing, when –
You both flinched at the voice. Frozen to the spot and all you could do was wait with bathed breath what would happen next. The voice – by the sound of it – belonged to an older male; pleasantly gruff and friendly. He obviously didn’t saw you two, for you were behind a row of rusty lockers.
You suddenly felt Makoto move his lips to the shell of your ear. ”Don’t worry, it’s just the manager. I’ll handle this,” he whispered it tenderly to you, and you reluctantly let go of him, already missing his secure embrace and warmth.
”Yes, how may I help you?” Makoto asked the manager as he appeared from behind the lockers. The manager - surprisingly - didn’t find anything strange about this. Instead he nodded his head from where he came from and said, ”I just came to check on every room and make sure that everyone left the building. We are closing up. Your group was the last one using the swimming pools, right?”
”Yes, that’s right,” Makoto replied ever so calmly. Hiding behind the lockers, you were actually amazed at how composed he sounded.
”All right, then please tell your students to finish their practice for today.”
”There’s no need, since I already sent them home fifteen minutes earlier. We cleaned up and put away everything. I am the only one left. ”
”...Ah, I see,” said the manager, but not after a little pause, a thoughtful expression appearing on his face. ”...Well, then please change and and pack your things as fast as you can. I wouldn’t want to lock you in.”
”Of course. Thank you for notifying me.”
At this the manager only grunted and closed the door, already on his way to check on other changing rooms and sport halls.
Seconds later Makoto re – appeared before you, carrying a pair of jeans and various shirts on his arm. ”Here,” he gently murmured to you, avoiding your gaze. ”Try these on. They will most probably be a few sizes too big for you, but it’s better than going out in the cold with damp clothes.” You already shivered at the thought.
”Oh, and the light switch doesn’t work, so even if you found it, it would have been useless. ...Sorry for not telling you before I ushered you in here...” Makoto continued before he went back to just where he stood a while ago, leaving you to yourself to change, while he too grabbed his clothes and started dressing himself.
You wanted to follow him and tell him that it was all right, but you suddenly felt really awkward, throat painfully tightening. And thus, with a sigh, proceeded to change. The room was filled with sounds of clothes rustling; zippers, buttons and belts clinked as you two bundled up.
The jeans fitted you, albeit only with the help of a belt, and even the smallest shirt in that pile of shirts was a tad bit too big for you, its hem reaching your mid – thigh, but it was warm, and its not like it was bothering you. Hastily packing everything up, you two exited the room and made your way home.
...And while a heavy silence reigned above you both, a just as heavy blush adorned both of your faces.
And this time, nobody could blame it on the weather.