title: it's time
fandom: Free!
characters/pairings: Makoto/Haruka/Rin, Makoto's father
rating: G
warnings: coming out
summary: Makoto is going to carry out his decision.
notes: another part of the Happy Household Club, closely following discovery
this is kinda spoilery because it's art for the end of the story, but butleronduty drew and AMAZING picture of the boys together and my heart is fluttering and it's SO beautiful so PLEASE go and look and love and heap praises and just... yay!! thankyousomuch!!! woot! i got another fanart of that last scene!! swimmingharumaki drew this joyous and teary pic of the boys! once again, PLEASE go and look and love and praise!! thankyouthankyouthankyou!!

Makoto fussed in front of the mirror, and then reached over to grab a tie, starting to quickly put it on, his fingers moving with frantic precision.

"Don't wear the tie," Haru said quietly. He and Rin were sitting on the bed behind him. "It'll look... odd."

Makoto sighed heavily. "You're right. I don't normally get this dressed up for dinner with them, huh?" He tried to smile, but it didn't work too well. He felt like too much expression might lead to breaking down. He pulled the tie off quickly and unbuttoned the top few buttons on his shirt. He started to roll up his sleeves. He shook his head and pulled his shirt off, just tossing it to the bottom of the closet.

Haru and Rin looked at each other, and then Rin spoke up, "The blue stripe. Your mom... gave that you for your birthday last year."

Makoto looked at Rin, and then nodded. He grabbed the blue striped shirt, and put it on. He couldn't look at himself anymore, though. He buttoned it up and tucked it in, and then turned to his lovers. "So, how do I look?"

He felt awful.

Haru smiled at him sadly, and Rin reached out, wiggling around to get his on his knees on the bed. Makoto took a few lumbering steps towards Rin, and Rin grabbed onto him, first by the forearms, and then by the neck. Rin's hands felt cool as they protectively surrounded Makoto's neck. "Listen... ok, on the extremely unlikely chance that things... go not well. You call us. Immediately. Or just send a text. Just a letter. Anything. We'll come and get you, ok?" Rin was looking right into Makoto's eyes, and holding Makoto's head in place so he couldn't look away.

Makoto took a deep breath, and he smiled for Rin. He moved in and kissed Rin's tiny nose. "Ok."

Rin didn't look convinced. "Are you really sure you wanna do this alone? We can go with you, and like... disappear when you need us to so you can talk to your folks, just." Haru edged closer to them.

Makoto caressed Rin's arm. "No, I really... I have to do this myself."

Haru stood up and put his arms around Makoto's waist, and kissed his cheek. "Makoto. We'll be here when you come back."

Makoto smiled at Haru, and it was getting easier. Just a bit, but still easier. "Thank you. I. It's going to be..." his mind went blank. He had no idea how his parents would react. They were loving, good people. But. "I won't be too late. And I'll. I'll try to bring home some leftovers," he winked at Rin.

Maybe his mother wouldn't let him take any, though.

He disentangled himself from his lovers, and headed for the door. Like dejected puppies, Haru and Rin followed him. Rin helped him put on his jacket, even though it wasn't that cold and he could put it on himself. Haru squeezed his hand just as he was leaving. He smiled for them, but when he closed the door, and he was outside and they were still inside, he panicked, wanting to burst back inside, lock the door, bar it, never go out...

He took a deep breath, and stepped forward.

The door closed and Makoto left.

Haru sat down hard on the step in the genkan and just stared at the door. Makoto was going to his parents' house. He was going to walk, so that would take about fifteen minutes or so. Maybe twenty if he got stopped by a train. And then... and then how long would it take for him to be able to broach the subject? He wasn't going to walk in and immediately declare that he was in love with his two best friends and they were all building a house together, right? Would it take an hour before he would tell them? Maybe he'd wait until after dinner. Then, that might be two hours. He would be nervous, scared. He'd be thinking all sorts of things, trying to prepare himself for the worst. Would Makoto's parents realize how terrified he was? Would they ask him what was wrong? Or would they just assume that their perfect son was perfect as always?

Would they still think he was perfect when he told them?

Rin sat down next to Haru, and sighed. For a moment, for several heartbeats, they just sat there, staring at the door, thinking their own thoughts.

"We're not going to sit here the whole time he's gone, are we?" Rin asked.

Haru scowled, and looked away, to his right. "Makoto wouldn't ask me that."

"H-hey, don't compare me to him!" Rin protested.

Haru sighed. He'd have to start lunch soon. They were going to have seafood salad, sort of a cleaning house smorgasbord so they wouldn't have to throw out any uneaten fish. Rin would complain.

Such a nuisance.

Makoto shouldn't have gone alone.

"Thanks for helping out, son." Makoto's back suddenly went stiff and his whole body jerked a bit.

"Oh! No problem, dad! But... I'm surprised to see you out here hanging the laundry," Makoto smiled.

His smile was forced. He was far too nervous. He rang the doorbell instead of just letting himself in, and he'd worn a nice shirt. Tachibana-san knew his son had something on his mind, but he was giving Makoto space. "What, you don't think I help out around the house?" he teased. Makoto instantly got upset.

His eldest was so cute.

"No, no, that's not what I meant!" Makoto assured him.

Tachibana-san couldn't help laughing. The earnest look on Makoto's face... that hadn't changed since he was just a baby. "Of course not. I'm just teasing you!"

"I know you help out around the house," Makoto replied, still looking like he was afraid he'd hurt his father's feelings. He threw a sheet over the line. "It's just, Mom usually does this stuff, that's all."

"Well, taking care of a house is a big job," Tachibana-san sighed. "This house just keeps getting older, and so do we. I suppose that's a bit poetic. Anyway, your mother's been a bit tired this week, I think she's been stretching herself a bit thin with that beautification project she's been working on with the town council. So, I'm helping out." He beamed at his son as if to say, Praise me!

Makoto smiled weakly at his father. "Do you two... need more help around the house? I could..."

"No, no," Tachibana-san shook his son off before he could even finish the sentence. If he wasn't careful, Makoto would move back in and insist on doing all the chores. That was how he was. "Anyway, what good could a spoiled kid like yourself be to us? There's still a lot about caring for a house you've never even learned!" he teased.

He should let up, but he couldn't help it. Makoto's reactions were still extremely cute!

Makoto froze. He looked down at the basket at his feet fearfully, and shakily picked up a pillowcase. "Ah... that's actually... something I... I was going to talk about this... w-with you and mom t-together, but..."

Tachibana-san waited for his son to get it out. So, he was going to spit it out, huh?

Makoto swallowed hard, and then he just let words spill out of him. "Y'see, I need to learn all that... house-taking-care-of stuff... because... because... Haru... and Rin... and I... all three of us... we're... we're building a house together. ...Ah, I mean, we're not building it ourselves, we don't know how, that would take years and years, anyway, we all have jobs, and I don't think Haru would be any good at carpentry, he's good with his hands, but physical labor is another... a-anyway, yes, we're... we're having a house built. We. We bought land and construction is beginning and... w-we have a thing of dirt from when they broke ground. B-but that's not really the main thing..."

Tachibana-san had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. Makoto was working hard at not looking up at him. He was now putting the laundry on the line haphazardly. Plus, he almost looked like he might cry. Tachibana-san hadn't seen his elder son cry since... thinking back on it, it was probably back before the twins had been born.

Makoto had always taken the job of being a big brother so seriously.

Affectionately, Tachibana-san went over to his son and clapped him on the back. "That's fantastic! Congratulations, son! I can't wait to see it! I'm guessing since Haruka-chan is involved, there's going to be a pool? Ah, I'm already looking forward to visiting!"

Rather than being reassured, Makoto looked at his father with heart-breaking terror. "D-dad... you understand... the three of us... we're doing this... t-together, that is, it's our house, b-because..."

Tachibana-san roughly ruffled his son's hair, pushing his head down. He really gave Makoto a good rubbing down, and then he kissed Makoto's hair. "Yes, son. I understand what it means."

"Y-You do!?" Makoto jumped back, looking at his father aghast.

"I'm not that dense, am I? We've never been over to see your current place, even though you've been there for years. But I know the building. The apartments aren't that big, and all three of you together..." he winked at his son, but he felt a small measure of discomfort. It wasn't really the thought of his son with two other boys. As long as Makoto was happy... well, that was it, really. It would just be a lot easier in life if Makoto was only settling down with one of them. Haruka-chan, for example, was practically already their son, so they could adopt him in their family and make him part of Makoto's clan, as it were. Rin-chan's mother had remarried, so he would probably be fine with being adopted, too. Tachibana-san didn't even know if there was an equivalent type of process for two adoptions like that. Could Makoto even invite his work friends home for a barbeque? It was complicated, wasn't it?

Even if a parent wished to uncomplicate their child's life, it was still the child's life. Makoto had to do what he had to do.

"I'm surprised Haruka-chan and Rin-chan didn't come with you, if you were going to be talking about this stuff!" Tachibana-san laughed.

"Dad..." Makoto was still looking pained. "What about Mom? She... she's always trying to set me up with her friends' daughters or some nice girl she meets at the grocery store..."

Tachibana-san laughed. "I know, son, I know. It's... your mother... she only wants you to be happy," he smiled indulgently at his son, who didn't seem at all appeased. "For the longest time, your mother has had the strangest worry concerning you. I think the first time she vocalized it to me was when you were... yeah, when you were in high school. She said, He's just so nice. So kind. Too kind. He's going to get hurt... And since... well, since you'd never... officially told us about... your living arrangement... Your mother has been afraid that, well, something like that maybe wouldn't last. And she believed that you would step aside and let Haruka-chan and Rin-chan be together, so they could be happy. She was afraid they would let you sacrifice your own happiness for their sake. That's why she's been trying to give you... options. I swear, she means well, son. It's because she loves you."

Makoto looked like he still had doubts, and Tachibana-san couldn't fault him for it. "I did tell you both I was gay way back, though, Dad."

"Well, you kind of said it like a joke. We all laughed, and anyway, your mother was convinced you dated that girl in high school. And you've always been so good with kids... she thought you might want to choose that sort of life." He pulled his son closer by the back of the neck and gave him a rough, buddy-hug. "Let's finish up this job, and then go in and tell her the good news. A house is very exciting! I promise you, she'll be happy for you. For all three of you."

"A-all right," Makoto replied shakily. Tachibana-san patted his son on the back, and went back to his basket. He only had a few dresses to pin up...

"But, Dad. You both have known... that Haru, Rin, and I are involved? For a long time? And it... it doesn't... bother you? You're not... disgusted?" Makoto was watching his father now. Tachibana-san wasn't sure if he wanted reassurance or validation, but that didn't matter.

"You're a good son, Makoto. You always have been. You were such a cheerful and obedient child... and you took such good care of your little siblings. You still do. You've grown up to be a fine young man. You're everything I'd ever hope you to be. As long as you are happy, that's all I need to know," Tachibana-san winked at his son.

Makoto ducked his head down, and picked up another pillowcase. "I... I really love them, Dad. They're... they are so important to me. And they feel the same way about me."

"They damned well better," Tachibana-san laughed. "They're lucky to have you." He pinned down the last blouse. Makoto was still working on his pillowcase, his face hidden behind the fabric.

But Tachibana-san could hear him sniffling.

"Oh, don't sneeze on the laundry, son. I'm very proud of it, I've been working all day on this."

Haru was reading a book and Rin was staring at him in disbelief. Makoto had been gone a really long time already, and they hadn't heard a peep. Rin wanted to suggest that they go and track him down, make sure that he was all right. But Haru was reading a book.

It wasn't even a book about marine biology! There appeared to be no fish in the book at all! The book wasn't made of water! And Haru was still reading it!

Rin was considering taking the book and tossing it away, or maybe just punching Haru. It would be hard to punch him in the face with the book in front of it, but Rin could punch him in the gut. And then he would drop the damned book and maybe even lose his place in it. Or he could punch him in the groin. That would be nasty, but Haru would roll around on the floor, then.

Rin started to picture Haru's face all contorted in pain, and he really wanted to punch Haru in the nuts. Not because he wanted to hurt him, per se! It was just... he was reading a damned book and Rin was really worried about Makoto and Haru was far too calm and he wasn't usually that expressive, so his in pain face would be pretty funny. Probably.

The door opened and Makoto called out, "I'm home!" and both Rin and Haru snapped to attention. Haru even immediately put away the book, but he swiftly stuck in a bookmark. Rin was going to move that bookmark later. Makoto went to the kitchen first, and put something in the fridge. That was good, they had leftovers. He came out, and smiled tensely at Rin and Haru who were both on the edge of the couch.

"Well?" Rin asked.

"It... was fine. They knew. They... already knew. They're really..." and suddenly, Makoto couldn't talk anymore. He clamped his mouth shut, and his face crumpled up, and he turned quickly and went to the bedroom.

Haru and Rin barely took a second to look at each other before they were on their feet. "Wait!" Rin called out to Makoto. "Don't run away from us!"

They found Makoto in the bedroom, but he looked like he was going to escape to the bathroom. And it was obvious why, as tears were already making their way down his cheeks. Rin had a flashback to a time long ago when he didn't know Haru or Makoto nearly as well but he knew Makoto wouldn't cry in front of him. He grabbed Makoto's right arm, and Haru latched onto his left, and Makoto started to sob with great, heaving, hiccuping breaths.

They pulled Makoto over to the bed, and they both tried their best to wrap themselves around him. After a few minutes, Makoto's breath started to hitch, and he regained some control, but his tears were still flowing. "I'm sorry," he managed to gasp out, and Haru and Rin both shook their heads together. "I'm so... so-sorry... I just... They were... so happy for us. They... want the two of you to... to come out next weekend and... they want to see the plans and... Mom wants us to talk... tiles with her or..." but he couldn't go on.

Rin rubbed Makoto's flank, kissing his temple. Haru started to lick Makoto's face just like a kitten would. "I'm so relieved," Haru exhaled.

"I... I... I didn't realize... how much I had... had... been... holding... holding onto... I didn't realize... how scared I was... until... until...." Makoto sniffled, and Rin wiped Makoto's nose with his sleeve, earning him a grin from Makoto. "They're happy for us." Makoto just beamed at Rin with cheeks glistening.

Haru took Makoto's face into his hands and kissed him passionately. "Hey!" Rin pouted, grinning. "Don't leave me out!" He just crawled into Makoto's lap, and kissed his lovers' cheeks.

Makoto wrapped his arms around both of them. "They're happy for us," he repeated, and his tears started to stream down his face again.

But it was all going to be fine.