title: Neighbors
fandom: Free!
characters/pairings: Makoto/Haru/Rin, OCs
rating: G
warnings: old ladies, gossip, lusting from afar
summary: The boys are starting to meet their new neighbors.
notes: partially inspired by conversations with Gin about the building of her own house in Japan. ♥ thankyou!!

Tanimoto-san hurried her steps down the hill, her smile widening. The young man turned out of his drive and was walking toward her at a good clip. Abruptly, she dropped her basket.

"Oh! Excuse me, let me get that for you!" he exclaimed, quickly gathering her basket, and the supplies that fell out.

She pressed her hands together, smiling broadly. "What a kind young man. I'm so sorry, my mind must have been... drifting..."

"That's quite all right," he beamed at her, handing her the basket. He had such a warm, kind face!

She took the basket, and touched his hand gently. "It's so good to see a young man with good manners these days. Not that we have many young men up here! Well, we don't have many young people at all... they all leave to go to college, don't they? And then they meet people and get married, and you're lucky to see them for O-bon festival." She clucked her tongue, shaking her head. He was very nicely built, wasn't he!

"Er, I guess that's true," he amicably nodded.

"Of course, that doesn't mean that things can't change!" she looked pointedly at the house he'd come from, the new house. It was the first new house to built in their area in so long that no one could agree on which house was the next most recent! "I hope you're settling in all right?" she prompted him.

"Very well, thank you!" he tilted his head to side, reminding her a dog. "I imagine all the construction was disruptive, sorry about that!"

"A little disruption is good for a soul once and a while!" she laughed, assuring him. "You and your, mm, friends have been the talk of the mountain! It's so good to see new blood coming in here," she confided to him. "Once the youngest of the Hirakawa's left the house, well. We thought we'd all die on this hillside and that would be that. This place would just become a forgotten graveyard. Yasuda-san threw a party when you broke ground," she winked at him.

"Ah! Th-that's... that's very good to hear, thank you," he bowed to her, flushed. His eyes darted up the road.

"I'm just on my way to collect some nice mushrooms. They don't grow here like they used to, but you can still find some really good ones. You have to be careful, mind. There are plenty out here you wouldn't want to eat at all, understand?" she waggled her finger at him.

"O-of course," he nodded seriously.

Such a good boy! "I could show you?" she offered, grinning.

"Th-that's so kind of you, but I-I'm on my way to the train, I have... work..." he replied sheepishly.

"Oh, of course," she laughed, waving him off. "Go, go, don't be late on the account of an old lady."

"You're not old!" he laughed, winking, and she had the feeling that he had quite the fan club, wherever he worked. "And I'm very glad to have met you, ah..." suddenly, he panicked. "Oh! I'm so sorry, I haven't introduced myself!" he bowed fully from the waist. "I'm Tachibana Makoto!"

She patted him on the head, ruffling his hair for her own amusement. "It's good to meet you, too, Tachibana-kun. I'm Tanimoto, and I live just up the road there. I'll bring you some nice mushrooms later, how about that?"

"Eh, that would be extremely kind of you, thank you!" he blushed, smiling.

Yup, he definitely had a fan club.

"Until next time, then, Tanimoto-san!" he called out cheerfully, and then he jogged off toward the station.

She watched him go, happily.

Chouda-san slowed down, biting her lip to keep from smiling.

The young man with a serious demeanor and such elegant features put the garbage out at the end of the driveway, but then he crouched down, holding his hand out to the small black cat hiding in the grass. He made cute chirping noises to attract the cat.

"Be careful," she warned him, cheerfully surprising him. "If you start feeding them, you'll never be rid of 'em."

"That's all right," he said diffidently, turning his face away from her as if he were unconcerned with her existence. "There are worse pests."

"True," she nodded, unable to stop from smirking, especially since he wasn't even looking at her. "But then those beautiful koi might be in danger." She nodded toward the koi pond on the corner of the house.

He turned to look at her! A triumph! "No, the fish are protected. The rocks on the side of pond were specially designed. But, well, then... all the more reason to feed them." He smiled softly, as the black cat had taken advantage of his lack of attention to rub her cheek against his hand.

Chouda-san was pleased with the young man. "It's quite a lovely house. You can't tell now, because the old place is in such disrepair, and they even tore down sections of it, but the Hirakawa estate was a palace. As a little girl, I was so proud to grow up here! That seems like such a long time ago now," she chuckled wistfully. "Your house brings back the spirit of the old estate's grandeur."

"Thank you," he nodded to her, and being shown respect by him gave her the feeling of having received a great honor.

She smiled down at the young man and the black cat, thinking the two had a great deal in common. She straightened herself up to her full height, and began her slow walk back home. "If there's anything you need, we're just up the road a piece," she called out as she walked off.

"I'll remember, thank you," he answered her politely.

She hummed to herself as she walked, her mind dancing with thoughts of black cats and black-haired young men.

Irie-san nearly jumped, which would have been disastrous, and then she waved to the young man in the tiny car, and hurried her cart across the road. She waited until he pulled into his drive, and then she scooted back closer to him, calling out, "I'm so sorry! I wasn't even looking! Oh, I didn't mean to hold you up!"

The young man with the wild red hair came out of the car in a track suit, but he smiled at her kindly. "No, please don't apologize! And please, don't ever hurry on my account again! It's really not a bother."

"Oh, I'm not used to cars being on this road, really," she fanned herself, looking him over. "Only the Yasuda's have a car, and theirs is fifty years older than you, dear," she smiled at him.

He smiled back at her, and his teeth were quite pointy! "Don't worry, I'm always be very careful when I'm driving. You just keep doing what you do. Do you need any help back home? I could..." he reached out to her.

She smiled demurely. "Oh, no, no, I'll be fine, just fine. You're such a kind young man! I've wondered what sort of people built this house!" She beamed at him as he smiled back nervously. "It's such a relief to know you're nice people. Here, why don't you..." she rummaged through the bags in her cart.

"Oh, I don't need anything," he protested politely.

She produced a peach proudly, regardless. "Here! My grandson lives not too far from here, he's always giving me all sorts of fruits and vegetables. It's good to have family looking out for you, but it's also good to look out for your neighbors." She winked at him.

Without too much reluctance, he took the peach. "Thank you, ma'am. Ah, I'm Matsuoka, by the way. Matsuoka Rin. It's a girly name, but my parents named my sister Gou, so," he shrugged, laughing.

Such a handsome young man! "It's nice to meet you, Matsuoka-kun," she nodded to him. "I'm Irie. And parents have all sorts of ways of messing with their young'uns." She winked at him, and earned another laugh.

She liked him!

"I'm telling you, he's just like a puppy. A tall, broad-shouldered, sexy puppy," Tanimoto-san smiled to herself, sipping her tea.

"Well, puppies are just fine, but give me a nice, refined, elegant Japanese boy. The world needs more young men like that, I'll tell you," Chouda-san nodded firmly.

"Yes, he was so refined and elegant he didn't even give you his name. Sounds pretty rude to me. Give me a bold tiger! That redhead sure looks like a wild ride!" Irie-san cackled as she put down her discard tile.

The other two barely looked at the tile. "Don't be so crass," Chouda-san scoffed. "I've seen that redhead, he drives like a man possessed."

"A man possessed of a gorgeous body," Irie-san maintained.

"Have you two even seen Puppy-chan? Just imagining him holding you in his arms, pressing you to his broad chest..." Tanimoto-san sighed happily.

"The two of you are addled. That black-haired beauty would be the only one worth being wooed by," Chouda-san irritably moved her tiles around.

"What are they arguing about?" Irie-san's hard-of-hearing husband bent over to ask Yasuda, who was poking at the grill.

"Ignore them, they're just talking about the young men who built the house at the end of the road," Yasuda shook his head.

"Oh, the homosexuals. I understand they're nice boys," Irie nodded to the ladies playing mah jongg. "You know their entire house can be filled with water," he informed Yasuda.

"That's only the west side," his wife crankily corrected him. "It's called a pool, dear, and you know how homosexuals like to exercise," she shrugged, rolling her eyes at her husband for her friends' benefit.

"No, the whole thing! The concrete man told me, tanks everywhere, waterbed, huge bath... He warned me that mermen were going to be living down the road from us," Irie laughed, poking Yasuda to remind him to laugh, too.

"One of the builders told me that, too," Yasuda nodded. "Mermen. Well, I think it must be nice, living in a house with all men. Especially if you're homosexual. Very convenient, and clever, you know? There's three of them, so... never a dull moment."

"You've gone dull," Chouda-san grumbled. "The windows man told me that it was a very classy house. He said they'd spared no expense, and that the architect was very highly thought of, from Osaka, I think."

"It's certainly pretty to look at. And if you're a merman, well, no problems!" Irie grinned toothily.

"If they are mermen, all the better," Tanimoto-san sighed happily. "I can just picture Puppy-chan wagging his big tail, cutting through the water..."

"She's smitten," Chouda-san loudly intimated to Irie-san as she snatched the discarded tile and revealed a set.

"They're all homosexual! Leave them be, they've no need for a woman!" Yasuda lectured them.

"They're boys, they need looking after!" Tanimoto-san chuckled warmly. "And anyway, we're old women! There's no harm in an old woman's imagination. And in our imagination, they can be anything we like."

"Even mermen," Chouda-san said thoughtfully, clearly picturing her boy as a refined, elegant, Japanese merman.

"Women," Yasuda shook his head.

"We should take them over some food later," Tanimoto-san suggested to her friends.

Chouda-san and Irie-san nodded, both smiling.

"Maybe we can catch them in their swim suits!" Irie-san hoped.