title: it's stupid really...
fandom: Free!
characters/pairings: Makoto/Haruka/Rin, Kou
rating: G
warnings: pointless fighting
summary: Kou gets the chance to give Makoto some advice
notes: another segment of Happy Household Club. it's a silly bit, really, but i just had this notion i couldn't shake, so...
i got a Mako/Haru/Rin fancomic by the amazing and wonderful butleronduty!! this is absolutely perfect and exactly how it looked in my head and Haru's face in the fourth panel and poor Mako at the end and Rin's teeth... just... ♥!!!

This was the second bar that night. Kou rarely went out drinking with her coworkers, but since she'd broken up with Kenji, she'd been more inclined to be social. It beat being home alone. Her supervisor had decided that one bar was enough, though, so the women who worked with her were gossiping more enthusiastically and the men were trying to hit on them.

She spotted him just about the second that they entered the bar, sitting at the end of a table filled with his coworkers, it seemed. Maybe it was that Makoto-senpai stood out in a crowd, or maybe she was just attuned, but it gave her a good chance to slip away before anyone asked her what her opinion of the boss' new secretary or before she got wedged between the two guys vying for her attention. She caught Makoto-senpai's eye, and went over toward the counter. He got up and followed her, smiling brightly, which served to showcase how unbrightly he'd seemed before.

"Kou-chan! This is a nice surprise!" He bent down and kissed her cheek. Such a sweet big brother!

"It's nice to see you, Makoto-senpai. Out with your coworkers?"

He nodded, and looked over to her group. "You, too, I take it? Having fun?"

She shrugged, and winked at him. "Well, not so much that I'm not happy for a chance to catch up with my brother-in-law. So, how's it going?"

"No complaints," he said, but she realized that it had to be a lie.

"You don't go out all that much, right? I remember one time oniichan complaining because you didn't get back until ten the night before. I thought, wasn't that kind of early for a night out?" she laughed.

He shrugged, shaking his head. "Well, I don't know. I've never stayed for the full deal... but..." He looked around a bit, and then leaned a bit closer to her. "I don't mind being out now. Though, we're on a tight budget, so I can't drink too much, anyway."

"That doesn't sound like much fun," she pouted. "What's going on?" She edged a bit closer to him so he'd feel secure in talking to her about whatever was happening. She wanted him to open up to her. She... well, she wanted to be helpful.

"Oh, it's..." he shook his head, and then he sighed. He looked around again, but no one was really paying much attention to them. At least, no one in earshot. Kou noticed a few women from Makoto-senpai's group who were giving her the evil eye, and some people from her group were checking out Makoto-senpai. "It's not like it's a... it's just. Well. They're both mad at me now, anyway," he tried to laugh it off, but it clearly pained him.

And Kou honestly couldn't imagine how what he said could be true. "What happened?" she pressed more firmly, furrowing her brow.

"Well..." he took a deep breath, looking away. "See, on Sunday, I was napping on the couch, and Haru... Haru came and got on top of me," he flushed a bit, cutely, "and he bit my ear. And. I called him Rin, because... well..." He looked mortified, but Kou was just amused.

"Because my brother's the one who's always trying to eat you," she offered.

"Yeah," he sighed. "Anyway, Haru got really upset with me, and he's been distant ever since. And then the other night, Rin was teasing me about... something really stupid, and he wanted me to guess what he was thinking? And I didn't get it right. And then he got upset because he said if it was Haru, I would know the answer..." He exhaled, and ran his hand through his hair.

Damn, he was sexy. And her brother could be such a brat!

"So now he's not speaking to me, either. And I don't know how to make it up to either of them, because, well..." he trailed off.

"Because they're being childish assholes?" she offered.

He looked embarrassed, but he didn't argue with her.

"You know, Makoto-senpai..." she rubbed his forearm reassuringly. Mm, he'd gotten a bit stronger since he'd become a physical therapist... "It would be ok if you got mad at them every now and again, too. I mean. They're the ones being unreasonable. You're not actually a mind reader. And it's a lot easier for them to tell which lover is doing what since... you're so much bigger. Haru-senpai and niichan have similar body types."

"I know," he said, showing some restraint since he clearly very much agreed with her. "But I really can't be mad at them."

"Of course you can! It's their fault for being so... competitive and sensitive!" she reasoned.

"No, I mean... I can't. I hate it. I hate being angry, and I hate having anyone angry at me," he offered sheepishly. "I know it's bad, but I just... I can't."

"That is bad," she sighed. "You can't possibly mean that you three have never argued before?" she questioned him, narrowing her eyes. They'd been 'dating' for years!

"No, I mean, sure, we've argued... Well, Rin and Haru argue everyday. It's sort of how they communicate with each other," he tried to joke. "But. Well. ...I don't know if I've ever had an argument with Haru. He... He sometimes draws away from people, but... arguing... I can only think of one example, and that time, well. Mm. Rin is special to him in that way," he smiled. "And Rin gets mad and then forgets about it ten seconds later. Pretty much all day long."

That made Kou laugh, at least. "He's always been that way."

Makoto-senpai smiled at her affectionately. "But... they've never... both... I've been wracking my brains all day trying to figure out how to make it right. I've apologized to Haru a million times. And I've tried to reason with Rin, but." He shook his head.

He looked... really upset.

Kou squeezed his hand, and leaned up to kiss his cheek. He looked so cutely embarrassed! "Don't fret it so much, Makoto-senpai. Just tell them honestly that this is upsetting you. But. You know... this isn't going to be the only fight you guys all have. You can't just let them walk all over you because you want to avoid a confrontation. Sometimes, a good fight is just what a relationship needs to grow!"

Makoto-senpai shook his head. "I mean, I know you're right, I know... the psychology and all, I just... I've never been able to... It always feels like... everything is just going to shatter and break. I just... hate it."

"Well, but... I mean, you must have had fights with friends growing up," she reasoned.

He shook his head. "Mostly, Haru and I were together, since... before kindergarten, even. And at home, my parents never fight. I've actually never seen them fighting, so I don't know... and my little sister and brother fight constantly, all the time, but only with each other. I just..." he sighed.

"But... you know, right? That this isn't... it's not really going to be the end? People fight, and they make up, and they move on. People don't discard people over... a fight."

"It could happen, though," he sighed. "I mean, it's not like I can remember any kind of trauma or something, but... Like, in grade school, Haru and I used to hang out with a girl, Aki-chan. She was a big part of our lives. But, even before Haru quit the swim club, one day, Haru had me eat lunch with him up on the roof, and he avoided Aki-chan, and then... that was just it, and I never really knew why. People... don't always stay together forever," he concluded forlornly.

"Well, no, they don't," she agreed, because how could she not? "But it's a choice. You choose to make it work and stick it out, or you choose to let your relationship slide away. You can choose to never let it be it," she told him. Though, forever... was a long time, right?

"I'm not the only one making the choice," he sighed.

"There's no way oniichan and Haru-senpai want to choose to break up or anything. You have to just put that out of your head. It'll never happen." She smiled brightly at him. "You just have to be direct with them. I mean, how can they justify being angry with you for not being psychic?" she winked at him.

"I hope you're right. And now that we've talked about it... maybe I should get home," he sighed. And then he ruffled her hair playfully.

"Hey!" she objected, but she didn't really want him to stop.

"Thanks, Kou-chan," he smiled at her warmly.

"That's what little sisters are for," she managed to say, straightening her hair.

"Oh, is that it? You'll have to explain that to Ran sometime, I don't think she got the memo." He winked.

She laughed. "She did, she just chooses to interpret it differently."

He went back to his group, but he was clearly just making his excuses. She went back to her group, and sat down next to the lady who managed all their permits.

"Who's the babe you were talking to?" she hissed at Kou.

Kou just beamed. "Oh, he's a senpai from school. He's a good friend of my brother's, so he comes to me sometimes for love advice."

"Next time, advise him to come and get some love over here!" she declared, and Kou laughed.

She watched Makoto-senpai leave, and sipped the beer someone had poured for her.

Forever love, huh?

Makoto called out when he got home, but no one was much paying attention. There was a lot of noise in the living room, though. He went in, and just stared in shock for a moment.

Haru and Rin were rolling around on the floor, punching and snarling at each other.

Makoto just gaped, and then he quickly moved in, pulling them apart. "Stop it! Stop it, you two! What's going on?" he pled with them. He got Rin by the armpit, and was able to position himself between them enough to get Haru on his feet and an arm's length away from Rin.

"He keeps insisting you understand him and how freakin' important that is!" Rin snarled.

"What?" Makoto looked at Rin, puzzled.

"He's the one lying," Haru glared. "He just doesn't want to accept facts."

"Guys, this is getting out of hand," Makoto tried to reason with them. "We can't keep fighting and we can't..." he started.

"It's not my fault I'm more sexually appealing," Rin boasted. "I'm being compared to a dead fish, so anyone would seem better."

Haru narrowed his eyes, and snarled, and broke free from Makoto, getting ready to punch Rin. Makoto was so shocked to see Haru that angry he didn't really know what he was doing. Getting himself bodily between Haru and Rin seemed like a decent first step, but there was a fatal flaw in the plan. It did nothing to stop Haru's fist from swinging.

At least he only got Makoto on the jaw, because of the height difference.

"Ow!" Makoto couldn't help crying out.

"Ow!" Haru shook his hand out. And then he looked at Makoto, horrified. "Makoto! I'm... I'm so sorry! I didn't mean...!"

"You hit him!" Rin sounded shocked.

"Shut up!" Haru countered. "I didn't mean to!"

"You were trying to hit me!" Rin complained.

"Yes!" Haru threw himself around Makoto. "I'm so sorry, Makoto. I didn't want to hit you. I didn't mean it. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"Haru, it's ok," Makoto tried to move so he could pat Haru on the back, but Haru was clinging to him too tightly for Makoto to free his arm.

"It's not ok!" Rin retorted. "He hit you! And he was trying to hit me!"

Makoto gave Rin a look. "It's ok because I said it was. It's not the first time you two have thrown punches at each other, though I don't know why, since it never leads anywhere," he sighed. "I'm fine, Haru, I swear."

Haru sniffled. "He said you called me Rin because you think he's sexier."

"Well! He said you understand him better because you two were more compatible mentally, whatever the hell that means!" Rin protested.

"Oh, my god, please tell me that you two haven't been fighting over me all week?" Makoto moaned. Neither Haru nor Rin looked him in the eye. "Please don't ever do that again! I've been going nuts!"

"Sorry, Makoto," Haru and Rin chimed in together, with symphonic sullenness.

Makoto sighed. He forcibly freed his arm and put it around Haru, and got his other arm out to pull Rin in, too. "We're idiots," he shook his head.

"It's because of too much cup noodles," Rin offered, looking up at Makoto cutely. "We need more flavor."

"That's not it," Haru sighed. "We still have lots of canned mackerel."

"I think it's just in our blood. I mean. Listen to us. Clearly, we're idiots," Makoto lamented.

Rin snickered. "Birds of a feather? At least we're flocking together."

Makoto squeezed them both. "I can think of more enjoyable things to do together. And for the record? I only thought it was Rin biting me because he's the cannibal, and I only know what Haru's thinking about half the time, and then only because I started learning how before I learned how to read. There have got to be better things to fight about!"

"Like, who tops?" Haru suggested.

"No, because we can just wrestle to figure that out," Rin smirked.

Makoto sighed. "Someday, we're going to have a real fight. And we won't even realize it because we'll be too busy fixating on something stupid."

"Good," Haru rubbed his cheek against Makoto's chest. "Sounds like a good coping mechanism."

"Seriously, I was suggesting wrestling for tops, who's with me?" Rin nudged them.