Broken All The Way Down

Haru arrives at Rin’s dorm at ten twenty-three in the morning, thirty-seven minutes after the winter break assembly, twenty-nine minutes after their homeroom teacher let them leave, and three days, eleven hours, and six minutes after Rin had sent him a text asking him over. Haru’s face is red with the cold, and his breathing is heavy. He leans his bike against the building, and he mashes Rin’s buzzer with a mittened finger. When Haru’s mother would ask him what he wanted for his birthday, Haru would always say, “I want to go swimming.” Haru’s dreams had never been bigger than that, until three days, eleven hours, and six minutes ago.

“Haru?” Rin’s voice crackles over the speaker.

“Let me in,” Haru replies, and he hears a buzz. He pulls open the door, and he walks up the stairs, two at a time. He kissed Rin in this stairwell six weeks ago, standing a step above him and tilting his chin gently upward. Rin had gripped his shoulders and Haru’s heart was beating so fast his chest hurt. He first kissed Rin three months ago, on a hot afternoon in early September. They had been sitting on the edge of the pool, and Rin’s hair had hung dark red and dripping in his eyes, and Haru couldn’t take it anymore.

Haru knocks on Rin’s door, two short raps. Rin answers with his hair tied back, like it was in the stairwell six weeks ago. “Someone might see us,” he’d said then, his hands sliding down to Haru’s waist. “Hey,” he says now. Haru’s head feels light and strange and his heart is pounding. Now his hand is on the back of Rin’s head, and Rin’s mouth is open against his. Haru has been waiting for this moment for three days, eleven hours, and nine minutes. Rin pulls him closer, and Haru shuts the door awkwardly behind himself.

“Haru,” Rin mumbles against his mouth. He is pulling at Haru’s shirt, and Haru tosses it aside. They’re on the bed now, and Haru kneels over Rin. He has seen Rin undressed dozens of times, dripping wet in skintight swim trunks, but now, here, with the late morning sun coming in through the window and the flat, taut skin of Rin’s stomach peeking out from under his t-shirt, everything feels different. Haru puts his fingers against Rin’s skin and feels the muscles hard beneath, feels the deep rise and fall of his stomach as he breathes. Five years ago he laid awake in the dark and watched Rin sleeping in the futon next to him, the same rise and fall of his stomach, the same red hair in his eyes.

Rin’s shirt is off now, and Haru leans down to kiss his collarbone. Rin is gripping his shoulder, and when Haru kisses him on the jaw Rin’s fingertips leave little white marks on Haru’s skin. Rin is crying. “Haru,” he sobs, and he leans up, and his arms are around Haru’s neck, and he cries and he says Haru’s name over and over.

Haru’s dreams had never been bigger than swimming, not until three and a half days ago, holding his cellphone against his forehead and smiling, six weeks ago with Rin’s trembling hands on his shoulders, three months ago with his feet dangling in the warm water, five years ago in the dark on the cusp of something he didn’t understand. He understood now.

Haru holds Rin close. He can feel the rise and fall of Rin’s shoulders as he sobs. Haru looks through the gap in the curtain, and watches the snow begin to fall.

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