Eyes Wide Open All the Time Preview: Chapter 23
he completes his dealing route, Haru drags his feet back to the cabin and the
ocean is gray with winter, the clouds glowing white with the hidden sunrise. He
scrubs his face, eyes burning with exhaustion as he keys open the front door.
Giggling and the sound of morning cartoons greet him; cold tension seeps away and his chest swells with warmth. He puts Mori’s bag on the coat rack and toes off his Converse as he takes in the sight before him. A blanket fort is left abandoned in the living room, along with the cartoons, so he follows the intoxicating scent of frying food to the kitchen.
Nao sits at the island with Percy in his lap, watching Natsuya cook at the stove with a soft smile. Natsuya’s curls are a wild tumble from sleep, which was probably interrupted by Gou, who does not understand the glory of sleeping in. She’s at the island with Nao and telling Natsuya everything he missed while he was in rehab, sharing memories between chomps of blueberry pancakes.
Haru steps closer and Nao arches a brow over a grin. “He remembered how much she liked them,” he mumbles, nodding to Gou’s pancakes. Haru smiles tiredly at that, blinking when Natsuya passes him an omelet the size of God. Hunger curls through him and he devours his food, letting Gou hang off his shoulders and nodding to everything she says about her morning with Nao and Natsuya as her sitters.
After breakfast, Gou leaves them alone in the kitchen to play with Percy in the living room. Gratefully, Haru bows his head at Nao and Natsuya. “Thank you for watching her, I’m sorry it was such short notice. Miho called last night about those deals and I didn’t know what to do.” He didn’t want to interrupt Rin and Sousuke’s date and call them to watch Gou – let them have what peace they can cling to, if only for a few more hours.
Nao waves the apology away and Natsuya offers a lazy grin, assuring, “She was a welcome distraction from everything going on.” He absently wipes the island down, his eyes lost to memories. “She’s nothing like Ikuya was as a kid. He slept ‘til noon, begged Mom to order a pizza, ate that, then went right back to sleep.”
Nao reaches over and touches his hand, making Natsuya deflate with a sigh. He brings Nao’s fingers to his lips and kisses them in appreciation before saying, “At Rough Rabbit, I found old blueprints to some more abandoned railways. Some older members remember there being a railroad in the outskirts, so I’m going to keep digging and try to find a map – see if we can’t make our own path through the woods and find these Bloodhounds and get my brother back.”
Haru lifts his chin with determination. “I’ll be right behind you. We all will.” Nao nods in assurance.
Natsuya and Nao leave after that, but not before Gou embraces them. Natsuya props her on his hip to kiss her cheek and says, “It was wonderful to see you again, Princess.”
She grips his leather jacket earnestly. “You won’t be gone forever again, will you?”
His face strains to repress emotion. “No.” A smile flutters about his mouth. “I’m here to stay.”
She beams and hugs them both once more.
Haru showers off the grime of the night, steam billowing off his skin, so good that he nearly falls asleep standing up. Afterwards, he puts on some sweats and immediately dives for Makoto’s flannel, which Haru wore home after their first night together. He inhales against the collar and calm washes over him, but his heart aches with loneliness.
Haru shrugs on the shirt and thumbs through his phone, hesitating for a moment. He almost pours out his heart in the message, wanting to write I miss you, come see me, but he settles for good morning.
The reply is instant. (っ◕‿◕)っ♥♥♥ Good morning!!!
“Oh God,” Haru whispers, clutching his heart out of fear that it might truly burst because that’s the cutest shit he’s ever seen. He flops back on his bed and takes a deep breath and maybe a few dozen screenshots of the message to save for darker times.
His phone buzzes another time. I missed waking up beside you
Haru muffles his groan against a pillow, gripping his stomach so the butterflies will not tear free. He rolls over and stares up at the ceiling, stilling when an idea sparks to life.
Pursing his lips around a smirk, he opens the camera app and switches it to the front-facing camera. His face looks like death warmed over from lack of sleep, so he angles it lower and straightens his arm to lean further away from the phone. The wider shot gets the column of his throat and the sharp rise of his collar bones, Makoto’s flannel parted just enough to reveal the muscled valley between his pecs, which is still glistening from his shower. He doesn’t know what possess him to snap a picture and send it, but he goes along with it and adds the message, that make you feel better?
He chews his grinning lip when Makoto responds. Oh my god
In a good way or bad way?
YOU made me trip over Echo and I landed on the bedroom floor but it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me I’m still texting from the floor I don’t even care. you’re everything. you are everything to me
Haru’s laugh rings through the room and he hugs a pillow to his chest.