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13 September 2015 @ 07:07 pm
2/3  
Title: Island
Pairing: Nanase Haruka/OC
Rating: PG-13
Summary: When graduation is right around the corner...
Note: This is the second part of the fourth installment. You may find the previous installments here:

Coastline
Soup-Port
Harbor







Come the following morning, Miharu almost arrives late at school, with only five minutes left before homeroom starts. She hurries to her seat with a little bit of a stagger and then prepares her things. As she takes out her notebook, a piece of paper from in between the pages slips away but luckily the boy seated beside her saw so he takes the paper from the floor and passes it back to her.

“Thank you,” she replies to the kind gesture. She takes a look at the paper and finds that it’s the Career Path Questionnaire that their adviser had passed weeks ago. It’s still so clean but it’s not as if Miharu hasn’t thought about what to write yet. She has talked to her parents about her choice and though her parents are relatively accepting individuals, she just couldn’t shake off the feeling of probably disappointing them in the future. Her friends have already answered their questionnaires so that whenever they ask her if she’s done the same, she replies quite uncomfortably, embarrassed. Aside from her parents and her not-so-often questioning friends, she hasn’t talked to anyone else about her future plans.

I haven’t even talked to Haru yet.

It frustrates her how she wants so much to know what she should be doing in the future but there’s no way of knowing all of that at all. Haruka hasn’t talked to her about his plans, too, so asking him out of the blue may seem troublesome to him. She can’t afford to bother anyone else, taking Sousuke’s warning as a lesson.

“Miharu-chan. Miharu-chan.”

“Nn…”

“Miharu-chan, wake up. It’s already time for lunch. Aren’t you going to eat?”

The voice calling out to her sounds so far away. It’s like an echo from inside a deep and dark cave. Miharu slowly opens her eyes and the blurry image in front of her gradually clears and she sees Makoto holding a bento. She sits up drowsily and stretches her arms, covering her mouth with her hands as she yawns.

“You fell asleep in the middle of class,” Makoto points out. He sees over Miharu’s desk then and glimpses the questionnaire underneath her notebook. He notices the bags under her eyes and the unusual paleness of her complexion.

She must have stayed up all night.

“Did I?” Miharu asks sleepily as she unconsciously hides the questionnaire when she collects her notebook and textbooks and slides them into her desk’s compartment. “Sorry…”

Makoto smiles warmly. “Is there something on your mind that you want to talk about?” Hesitating, Miharu looks around the room but she doesn’t see Haruka anywhere. Makoto chuckles, earning her attention. “Haru already went ahead to meet the others.”

“But…”

“It’s all right,” says Makoto reassuringly. “But if you don’t want to talk about it—“

“I want to…” Miharu mumbles almost inaudibly as she bows her head to her desk. Makoto stares at her black hair that falls softly against her cheeks and he can’t help but think that Miharu is still so much like a shy little girl. Knowing that she can’t see it, Makoto still lights up a smile on his face for her.

“Okay then.”

After telling Nagisa and Rei that he won’t be able to eat lunch with them through email, Makoto and Miharu walk around campus until they reach the pool and they sit on the bench there. It’s peacefully quiet as the wind blows over the water and makes it ripple like a lullaby sung lovingly to a baby. Miharu feels completely calm.

“Makoto-kun.”

“Hm?”

“Have you answered your Career Path Questionnaire yet?”

There’s a pause before Makoto half chuckles and half sighs. “No, I haven’t yet.”

“I…” she swallows the lump that suddenly knotted itself in her throat then. “I’m still not sure about what to write. I know what I want but I’m scared that it might not be the right choice.”

“But you wouldn’t know until you try,” Makoto replies thoughtfully before he chuckles to himself. “At least you know what you want. Some people are still trying to figure that out.”

“What about you, Makoto-kun? Have you—“ Miharu stops upon turning to the boy beside her, seeing his usual cheery and reassuring smile turn into that of self-pity and defeat.

“I haven’t really…”

“S-Sorry!”

“No, don’t apologize.” Makoto shakes his head then looks toward the pool. The water is shining with the sun’s radiance. “I guess I’m just taking my time.”

Suddenly feeling bad for being insensitive, Miharu can only nod quietly. Makoto must have read her again because he goes to pat her head consolingly as if he’s saying, “Don’t feel bad.” She closes her eyes, clutching the hem of her skirt just enough to leave some wrinkles when she lets go. Makoto reads her so easily and he really is like an older brother to her that sometimes, she can completely unwind and embarrass herself in front of him and act as if nothing happened afterwards. He understands her so well that she thinks he knows her better than herself. It’s a frightening thought from time to time but most of the times, it’s really comforting. After all, Miharu has a tendency to be incoherent even when she’s trying her best to be understood. Makoto knows this Miharu and he accepts her all the same.

Makoto had told Miharu once that she has this aura that makes other people want to take care of her. The girl didn’t understand what he was trying to say so instead of giving her an explanation, Makoto just smiled at her and said, “Rely on me.” As Makoto reminisces that stormy day, he thinks that she’s beginning to understand what he meant then, little by little, as she sits beside him and though she fumbles for the words to match her thoughts, he can see that she’s trying her best; that she’s showing this side of her to him without inhibitions. This, for Makoto, is comforting.

“Um… Makoto-kun.”

“Yes?”

Miharu twiddles with her fingers. Makoto notices her cheeks have gone red and that she’s fidgeting. He smiles to himself because he knows why she’s acting this way and frankly, he can’t help but be giddy for her. “H-Haru…” she starts shakily. She inhales sharply then sighs, adopting a more composed stance. “Has Haru decided on his future yet?”

Not knowing if he should answer that question based on his own observation or if it would be better to tell Miharu the truth, Makoto closes his eyes as he takes in the caress of the wind. “He hasn’t talked to me about it but Rin asked us the same question a few days back.”

“Mn…” Miharu hums as she, too, closes her eyes. She wants to listen carefully; wants to keep the following words close to her heart because they’re about Haruka.

“He said he hasn’t thought about what to do after graduation.” Makoto pauses as he reopens his eyes now and looks at Miharu’s closed ones. “You know how Haru is. He takes everything at his own pace.”

“He does, doesn’t he?” she whispers.

“I guess you haven’t talked to him either,” Makoto says while Miharu shakes her head. “I see.”

Opening her eyes to the same calming scenery, Miharu feels the time moving so slowly and at the back of her mind, she wishes it could just go on like that forever. On her lap, she clasps her hands together tightly. “I-I’m scared of being left behind…”

Makoto looks up at the sky. There’s an airplane passing by beside those big white clouds plastered on the endless blue ocean above.

“What if…” Miharu bows her head. “What if I don’t reach Haru in time? What if, one day, Haru finally makes his decision and no matter how fast I run, he’s just already too far away from me to reach?” she says quietly, her voice trembling. “What if, after graduation, he just disappears? What if—“

I won’t be a part of his future?

Miharu shuts her eyes tightly as she prevents herself from crying. The thought of being left behind hurts her a great deal and even more so if she gets left behind by someone who has become really important to her. The world won’t fall to pieces but she will, one piece at a time, for each passing day. She fears this the most: no one staying for her, being left behind and just not being wanted.

Knowingly, Makoto rests a hand atop Miharu’s head. He knows words may not be enough to set her at ease and that silence can also be a great help. Looking at Miharu now, he suddenly remembers Haruka back when they were kids; Haruka, who has always been brave and who doesn’t really show it when he’s struggling because he doesn’t want others to worry about him. Makoto knows that Miharu is like that, too. “You and Haru are so much alike.”

“H-Huh?” Miharu stutters as she carefully opens her eyes. The sight of Makoto’s smile calms her down almost immediately.

“Don’t be scared. I’m sure Haru wants you to tell him about your worries, Miharu-chan,” he says honestly, patting Miharu’s head lightly. “Just talk to him openly. Haru will always try to understand.”

Wordlessly, Miharu nods to Makoto’s words. She inhales and exhales until she has sufficient courage to look at her friend and offer him a small smile. “Thank you, Makoto-kun.”

Standing up and offering his hand to the girl, Makoto flashes her one more smile. “Shall we head back, Miharu-chan?”

By the time they get back to their classroom, the bell had already rung and Miharu apologizes to Makoto repeatedly for making him miss lunch. Haruka sees this somewhat amusing scene. Amusing, because Makoto keeps trying to tell Miharu that it’s really okay that he missed lunch but the girl simply doesn’t listen to him. Their other classmates chuckle and giggle at the silliness that the two are portraying.

“Hasegawa-san and Tachibana, huh? They look good together,” one of the boys says.

“Makoto-kun and Miharu-chan really are cute together, aren’t they?” one of the girls teases.

Both Makoto and Miharu seem oblivious from the talks around them. When the teacher arrives, the whole room descends into silence and Makoto and Miharu truly seem to not have heard their classmates during their comedic exchange. Haruka, on the other hand, heard everything. He spaces out for a while and when he comes back to his senses, he realizes that he has been staring at Miharu’s back. The girl probably sensed something because she looks behind her and stares right into Haruka’s eyes before the boy calmly looks away, to the window to stare at the clouds instead. Miharu tilts her head for a second then she turns her attention back to the lesson.

After school, Haruka and Makoto need to pay the clubroom a visit because there’s an abrupt meeting regarding the prefectural competition coming up in two weeks. Partly because of their conversation earlier and partly because he just wants to, Makoto invites Miharu to go with them and she does, with due gratitude shown in a single smile. As they neared the path to the pool, however, the girl stops and tells them to go ahead.

“I have an errand to run today so I’m leaving first,” Miharu explains. She walks past the boys just enough to stand in row with them. “Take care on your way home later.”

With those words, Miharu takes off. Makoto begins to walk again but he pauses when he realizes that Haruka hasn’t fallen into step with him yet so he looks over his shoulder. Haruka is walking slowly as if he’s doing it on purpose for someone to catch up with him. Makoto remembers Miharu back at the pool earlier then a feeling of warmth spreads within him. “Oh, Haru…” he whispers as he waits for his best friend to reach him.

They really are similar.

The following day, Miharu spends it away from the others. There are times when she just feels like she needs to be alone to clear her thoughts. She doesn’t know how to explain to her friends exactly why she needs to be alone so she keeps to herself and politely declines others’ invitations to hang out whenever. This is one of those days. She avoids her friends’ attention and runs off to somewhere to hide.

“Makoto-kun is right,” Miharu says now as she crouches down in front of the small garden behind the main building. Makoto’s advice from yesterday has been swirling in her mind ever since; one about her choice after graduation and another about Haruka. She has stayed up all night staring at her questionnaire until she finally decided to write something down. She has always been fond of literature so she had decided to take it as a major in a university in Tokyo. Once she graduates, she can either sign a contract with a publishing house or become a professor and teach at a university. Of course, she’d rather choose the former but she thinks it’s better to have more options just in case.

“I heard the seniors are having a face-off with the juniors at the gym today!”

“Seriously? I wanna watch!”

“Me, too! Maybe we can sneak in and—“

Ah. Freshmen.

Miharu hugs her legs tightly as she listens to unfamiliar voices go on and on about the basketball game or what to do on the way home or plans for the weekend and such. She remembers her first year and how it was so monotonous, having no close friends to walk home with or go out with over the weekend. She had friends but all of them had groups of their own and she wasn’t a part of any. The guys in her class probably noticed so they ended up befriending her. Miharu is a tomboy to some degree so she gets along with the guys just fine. But, despite forming friendships with them, it still wasn’t the same as having a female friend. Miharu is a girl after all and though she isn’t fond of girly matters, she would want to ask about certain, very particular things; stuff that only girls would know about. So, despite having friends, she still struggled in expressing herself as freely as she would want to.

“Rei-chan!”

That voice!

Whirling around to the familiar tenor, Miharu pulls herself to rest her back against the wall behind her so as to hide from Nagisa. She can hear someone walking closer to where she is so to keep herself from being discovered, she covers her mouth with both her hands. If she makes even one tiny sound, Nagisa might find her.

“Huh? Where did that Rei-chan go?” Nagisa wonders aloud as he scratches his head.

“Let’s go back.”

Miharu freezes.

Haru?

“But Haru-chan!”

“Maybe he went ahead,” Haruka replies before Nagisa could protest any further. He isn’t sure how they got there but if they walk any further, they’d come across the garden they used to pass by whenever they jog around campus. He looks in that direction for a long while, feeling a strong desire to walk over for some reason.

“Haru-chan? Is something there?” Nagisa asks upon seeing Haruka staring dazedly at the other direction.

Sighing before he turns around, Haruka answers, “I don’t know.” He looks over his shoulder for a minute, his gaze lingering at that particular direction, then he begins to walk back to the building. Nagisa follows him hurriedly and both of them disappear.

Miharu sighs heavily the moment she’s sure Haruka and Nagisa have truly gone. She sits on the ground now and stretches her legs toward the garden. The flowers have bloomed so beautifully. Under the sun, it’s as if their petals are diamonds shining brightly at her. It’s just an illusion though, like how she thought Haruka had noticed her presence earlier.

Just an illusion…

The thumping in her heart is as true as her fear of the future, unfortunately. Of course, no one else can know that except for her.

The whole day, Miharu has successfully spent alone. Once, after lunch, she heard from her other classmates that Makoto was looking for her but she had returned to the classroom after the bell had rung so that when she settled in her seat, Makoto couldn’t talk to her anymore. Then, as soon as the dismissal bell rang, Miharu immediately left the room and went home. She left her phone in her bedroom on purpose so when she checked it, she saw messages from her friends but the ones who left the most messages were Gou and Makoto.

Before she goes to bed that night, Miharu replies to Gou’s and Makoto’s messages, saying that she just had a lot of stuff to take care of that day and that everything will be okay again tomorrow. Both of them reply that it’s okay and that they were just worried because Miharu had been going off to places by herself. All three of them greet each other a good night and retire.

On her side, Miharu stares at Haruka’s number flashing on her phone’s screen. She’s about to press the ‘Call’ button but she hastily changes her mind, convincing herself that he has probably gone to sleep. Besides, she doesn’t know what to say to him exactly. She has so much to tell him but she fears that once Haruka picks up, she might go on and on, not wanting to stop as long as she can keep him on the other line. It’s a selfish thought, really, and Miharu doesn’t like it one bit so she leaves her phone by her pillow and closes her eyes, wishing that tomorrow will be all right.

And the following day really does run smoothly, just that Miharu’s friends had her all to themselves, saying that she deprived them of her company so she owes them. She had the chance to exchange pleasantries with Gou and Makoto though, in the hallway when her friends weren’t pulling her along to some place. She was able to chat with Nagisa and Rei, too, though for only a short while at the cafeteria. The day has been so eventful that Miharu just couldn’t believe that, despite being glued to her friends all day long, she hasn’t seen Haruka all that much, only in the classroom.

“You’re definitely walking home with us today!” a friend of Miharu’s demands. She’s pulling Miharu out of the classroom now.

“H-Hey,” the other girl speaks up, tugging on their tired friend’s other hand. “We can let her off the hook now. She might have something else to do.”

Miharu looks at her friends. Some of them must have noticed that she hasn’t been herself all too much that day, having been thinking of how to approach Haruka once she gets the chance. No one else knows that she and Haruka are dating so the cluelessness on her friends’ faces whenever she worries about the swimmer is inevitable. It’s not like she doesn’t want to tell them the truth. They already know that she has a boyfriend but they just don’t know his identity. She just wants it to be a secret only she, Haruka and the few closest to the boy to know. The privacy of their affair kept like this seems to be the better choice for the both of them.

“Sorry…” Miharu mumbles.

“What are you apologizing for? C’mon. You have something else to do, right? You should go,” her friend says now while the others agree.

“Next time, you have to tell us what’s bothering you, okay? We’re here for you, Haru-chan,” her other friend reminds. Miharu smiles at them warmly.

I’ll try.

After saying good-bye to her friends, Miharu finds herself climbing the steps up to the pool. Haruka and Makoto had already gone even before her friends attempted to drag her along to go shopping. Following her instincts, she goes to the pool and relief washes over her as she finds Haruka floating in the water then. Makoto isn’t around so she instantly concludes that he must have gone home. Quietly, she walks over to the edge and sits there, removing her shoes and socks so she can dip her feet into the water. She sets her things aside as she watches Haruka float. He must have sensed her presence as he straightens up and turns toward the head of the rectangle. They stare at each other wordlessly before Miharu finally smiles.

“Haru,” she calls out and the boy calmly begins to swim toward her. When he stops in front of her, Miharu reaches a hand toward him and rests it on his head. He looks away, hiding his expression. “Talk to me.”

Taking those words as permission, Haruka looks up at Miharu and gazes right into her dark brown eyes. He can see his reflection perfectly then feels, clearly, the absence of her touch as she takes her hand back and rests it on her lap. Right in front of him, he sees the smile he has been waiting to see since the day before and he doesn’t know, isn’t sure, when he started to look forward to seeing it. He just wants to all the time now.

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

They stare at each other quietly until small tears begin to well out from Miharu’s eyes, trickling down her cheeks and straight to the collar of her uniform. She bows her head to hide her crying face. Haruka’s honesty always overwhelms her and it’s so precious that she can just break down. A lot of things have been happening lately and all she’s been doing is bottling everything up within herself, trying to figure things out by herself and not knowing that someone has been waiting for her. She’s been so busy trying not to be a bother that the more she pulls herself away from everyone, the more she hurts herself, weakening herself until she can’t hold everything anymore and she bursts. She understands then, all this time, that Haruka has been trying to understand her silence, waiting for her to be ready and to come to him and spill everything to him, if she ever chooses to.

Honestly, Haruka doesn’t, and will never, want to force her to talk to him because it’s simply in his nature that he doesn’t, and because he understands her. He has been figuring things out by himself, too, and he also doesn’t want to bother Miharu, knowing that she has her fair share of thinking and decision-making to do and he doesn’t want to be a part of the trouble. So, until that moment, he has been patiently waiting for her and now that she’s there, all he wants to do is wipe her tears and free her from her worries.

“Hey,” Haruka whispers as he continues to wipe Miharu’s tears. The droplets of water on his skin have dribbled down on the girl’s skirt. “Stop crying already.”

“Nn…”

Haruka tsks to himself. By reflex, he tugs on Miharu’s arm slightly so that she’d bend over, just enough to rest her forehead against his own. One end of her unbuttoned blazer has dipped into the water, her hands resting over Haruka’s shoulders for balance. Of course she’s surprised and it plainly shows on her face that she is as the quiet boy stares at it in such close proximity. Her cheeks have become so red that he swears he can feel her whole body warm up intensely. This warmth has always calmed him down.

“H-Haru—“ Miharu stutters, her leftover tears falling on Haruka’s cheeks yet he doesn’t look away from her.

“Stop crying.”

“Mm…”

Haruka feels her trembling, as well as the warmth of her palms against his skin. The more she tries to speak, the redder she becomes. He closes his eyes. Miharu smells like vanilla for some reason.

Oh…

Since when did he notice all these tiny details about Miharu’s existence? Even behind his closed eyelids, Haruka can see her long eyelashes glistening from her tears, the small pale mark above her right eyelid, the tiny mole on her left palm that looks like a smudge of chocolate, that other one a little below her right collarbone, the bump on her right hand’s ring finger from too much writing and so many other details that make Miharu Miharu and he wants her just like that, near him as can be.

“So troublesome…” Haruka whispers with his eyes still closed. Miharu’s tears burn pleasantly on his cheeks.

“I’m sorry…”

Once he reopens his eyes, Haruka sees Miharu has hers closed. He wants so much to pull her into the water but he can’t. Instead, he cups her cheeks and relishes her warmth, her gaze as she opens her eyes and their shared silence. The redness of her face makes his lips curve into a really tiny yet endearing smile for a split second before he looks away again. “It’s cold,” he mutters.

Miharu sits up properly now and stares at Haruka’s profile before she chuckles, feeling her heart lighten. “Haru.” The boy looks at her reluctantly. She has her hand out toward him and a pretty smile lighted up just for him to see. As if by reflex, Haruka takes her hand in his and holds it tightly. “Let’s go home.”

As they go on their routinely walk, stopping at the intersection as they wordlessly part ways, Miharu understands that she and Haruka just have that kind of relationship; that, despite the silence, they naturally understand one another. It’s already like second nature to them, this wordless communication. However, both Haruka and Miharu know that their feelings and thoughts are meant to be shared honestly. They just need to work on their timing.





<<< Part 1 | Part 3 >>>



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