Preview of Eyes Wide Open All the Time: Chapter 27

Despite the comfort of Makoto’s embrace, Haru does not sleep much that night. He stares up at the ceiling fan in thought, absently playing with Makoto’s hair as he snuggles his cheek against Haru’s heart.

Makoto does not wake up at all during the night, not even when Haru slips out of bed to pace the cobblestone patio in the backyard with cold starlight overhead. He sits on top of the picnic table with his elbows braced over his legs until the winter sky lightens to pale blue. Restlessly, Haru moves to the porch swing with his knees drawn up and a quilt around his shoulders. The frosted grass blades catch the sunrise in icy prisms of gold and pink; white clouds swarm overhead and Haru reaches out to catch the first snowflake of the morning in his hand, then closes it into a fist of resolve.

He slips back into the bedroom without so much as a rustle of fabric. Haru unfolds the blankets and upon lying down, Makoto magnetizes to him and startles awake. “Jesus, you’re freezing,” he breathes, hands rubbing warmth back into Haru, pressing kisses all over his fingers to unwind their stiff, cold tension. “Did you go outside?”

Haru shrugs, tucking his chilled toes under Makoto’s legs. “Just for a while.”

Makoto’s brow twitches up but he does not say anything – instead, he reaches over to the nightstand and takes his hearing aid off the charger, then nestles it into his ear, adjusting for a few moments. After that, he puts on his glasses and levels their gazes. “Are you hungry?”

Haru nods and they move to the kitchen after Makoto puts on his prosthetic. As pancakes cook on the stove and the wheezing tea kettle fills the house with invigorated warmth, Makoto looks over Haru’s burned forearm. He handles it delicately, turning his arm this way and that to find the worst damage. “I have some antibiotic ointment left over from when my burns were still healing. Would you like to use some?”

Haru nods a little too eagerly and Makoto smiles sadly, returning from the bathroom with a tube of what might very well be liquid gold, because Haru cannot even describe how wonderful it feels to slather the cream over his charred skin. It saturates his burns in cool relief and Makoto dresses his forearm in loose gauze to let the wound breathe. “Kind of crazy that cosmetic damage can hurt so badly, right?”

“Yeah,” Haru says, eyes roaming up to the edge of Makoto’s shirt sleeves, studying the imprint of flames that licked up his skin.

“My back was burned a little deeper,” Makoto sighs as he turns to the stove to flip the pancakes. “It’s mostly just patches of second and third degree burns, but there’s a few areas of fourth degree burns, too.” He shrugs while sliding Haru’s pancakes onto a plate. “I have nerve damage from them, which is a blessing in its own way since I can’t feel those pieces of shrapnel in my back very often.”

Haru shakes his head and forks off a piece of pancake, chewing, “You’re scary-optimistic.”

Makoto leans over the kitchen table to wink. “Have to be.” He nods down at Haru’s food. “You want anything on those?”

Haru blinks down at his pancakes, thinking, then his heart twists. “Do you have blueberries?”

Makoto does, just a small handful of them, but the taste makes Haru’s eyes burn with unshed tears for Gou. Blueberry pancakes are her favorite meal and Haru would give anything to make them for her just one last time. He wonders how she’s doing at the foster center – if she has slept at all or if there’s a television there for her to watch morning cartoons on, so she can have some semblance of the home she lost.

Haru has so much to answer for, but the heaviest chain of guilt is bound to the person sitting next to him. “I need to tell you something.”  

Makoto tenses, his eyes unblinking even as his features sink in dread. He composes his expression and swallows to brace himself. “All right.”

Haru glances at the microwave clock in concern. “Don’t you have to get to work?”

Makoto sweeps a thumb over his phone screen to show him a text message. “That’s from the principal. It’s a snow day, so I’m off.” His foot nudges Haru’s under the table as he smirks. “I got the text when you were outside for ‘just a while’ last night.”

Haru’s eyes fall flat and Makoto’s smirk deepens, then he laces their ankles together. “I’ve got plenty of time for whatever you need to say, but… I’m a little nervous because it’s clear that there’s so much on your mind.” His voice falls to a deep murmur as they watch snow spill over the window frame. “I know that nothing is okay right now, but I want you to be.”

Haru captures Makoto’s resolve to memory, the set of his jaw and the fierce green of his eyes. Haru smiles hopelessly and cups Makoto’s cheek, his voice falling to a whisper of vulnerability. “You make me okay.” He shakes his head with earnest insistence. “When nothing else can.”

Trauma, grief, and fear long ago pulled Haru’s heart out by the roots, leaving an empty foundation behind where nothing could ever grow. At least, until Makoto planted seed after seed, nurturing them with sunshine smiles and golden sincerity. Haru has always bloomed under the attention in his own quiet way, but now he must run from the maze garden Makoto planted inside him, the one in which Haru lost himself in goodness, security, and warmth. He will abandon his comfort zone because he must find those empty spaces in Makoto now, and fill them with the love he deserves.

With the truth he deserves.

“I’m a drug dealer, Makoto.”


Frozen Skeena Sunrise by Tara Lynn
Via Flickr:
Skeena river near Prince Rupert, BC on November 29th. We’ve been facing -10 weather for over a week now - everything is frozen solid.