The Gossip

Issue No.1

We here at The Gossip have gotten a few questions about what’s been going on in the lives of everyone’s favorite swimmers, so we figured it was time to put our best team on it. Last time we checked in, Rin was off to Australia, Haru had decided to go pro, Makoto was headed for Tokyo, Nagisa and Rei were nurturing a batch of new recruits, and what Sousuke was up to was anyone’s guess. Our team has been criss crossing the Pacific in search of all the news you want to know. It’s been three years since then, so let’s see what everyone’s been up to.


Since his face has been all over the news lately, we’re sure you guys know that Matsuoka Rin’s made a name for himself in the world of professional swimming. Though Rin did not medal, he did achieve his dream of swimming in the Olympics. When up against such tough competition, 5th place is a remarkable achievement of its own. His coaches say that the loss has only pushed him to up his game even more. They promise that fans will see a more powerful Rin in the upcoming Pan Pacific Championships. We can’t wait!

Next we tracked down Nanase Haruka and we were so surprised that we didn’t have to go far. We found him in the middle of his year abroad at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney. The word on the street is that the high he felt during his first visit to Sydney, the one that made him feel like he wanted to go pro, faded after about two months of training. There are rumors that a series of panic attacks ushered in Haru’s change of plans, but we could not confirm this with a credible source. However, it is true that once he finishes this year, he plans to return to Japan to continue his studies. No word on where, but Hattori or the Sushi Academy are the most likely places, since they’d bring him back to Tokyo where our next favorite swimmer is probably counting the days until his return.

Back in Japan we learned that Tachibana Makoto is in his third year with Waseda University’s School of Sports Science. We hear that he got in with his grades, charm, and on recommendation from two of the grateful parents from Iwatobi SC who happen to be honored alums of the university. It must be fate! No one thought that Haru and Makoto could be separated and we were all happy that Haru ended up going to Tokyo as well, but now that they have been, we were curious about how everyone’s favorite angel was faring without his other half. There’s a story there, but we haven’t been able to confirm anything. The only thing we can tell you for sure is that he’s been keeping company with one of his uni-mates who looks very familiar.

Elsewhere on Soudai’s campus we chased down a rumor that someone was wreaking sunshine all over Shinjuku. Who else could it be but Hazuki Nagisa! Who would have thought our anti-study buddy would have gone to university and one so prestigious? For starters, not Nagisa. You know we have to get our facts straight before we can dish it all out, but for now we’ll tell you that a military mural installation, a chance meeting, and a film screening, lead Nagisa to joining the university’s School of Culture, Media, and Society where our favorite history buff has been torturing his kouhai, endearing himself to his senpai, keeping his professors on their toes, and occasionally disappearing for days at a time, apparently in the name of research.

Guess who else we found on campus and in the same faculty as Makoto? If you guessed Yamazaki Sousuke, then you guessed right! Although they’re on different tracks—Sousuke’s in Athletic Training and Conditioning while Makoto’s in Education—it seems they became fast friends and are often seen working out and studying together. Two times the eye candy! Just one of them walking down the street will definitely turn heads, so with the two of them, they must be stopping traffic. We’re all curious about it since when we last saw him it didn’t seem like he had decided anything for the future. We came up empty on info regarding Sousuke’s admission to Soudai—we’re still working on that. We hope that knowing that everyone’s favorite brooding butterfly specialist has started spending his summers getting acquainted with something long and hard in the Izu Islands will tie you all over until we can get the full story for you!

Speaking of butterflies, we made our way south to Kanagawa where we almost didn’t recognize Iwatobi’s most beautiful butterfly. He was spotted all decked out in the National Defense Academy’s uniform. No my friends, this was not cosplay, our most versatile captain, Ryugazaki Rei, was admitted to Boudai and accepted into the Department of Aerospace Engineering where he’s focusing on propulsion. So, we know he’s studying what keeps spacecrafts moving, but what we’d really like to know is what keeps him going. Well, there have been sightings of an energetic blond who happens to show up in the area around the times Rei’s off for holidays and other extended periods of free time. Whomever could it be?

Well guys, that’s all the dirt we can dish today. Be sure to check in next time when we hope to have confirmed info on Nagisa’s admission, Haru’s year abroad, and more of the news you want to know.

Issue No.2

Oh, dear readers, the things we do for you! In today’s issue we’ve got the first leg of Nagisa’s journey from retail employee to Soudai alum in the making. The story behind Haru’s year abroad is coming together nicely. Sousuke’s plans for the end of the term have been revealed and you’ll never guess where he’ll be making his first stop. And, well, we couldn’t breathe a word of this latest dish until every single fact was triple checked; once you read it you’ll understand why.


First up is Nagisa. So, after graduating from Iwatobi with pretty decent grades, but no desire to see the inside of a text book again, Nagisa found a job while he tried to figure out what he really wanted to do. About four months into his new gig, he and a few of other employees from his region were selected to represent the region at the company’s annual convention. During intermissions, Nagisa wandered around the rest of the civic center where other functions were taking place. When he stopped to take pictures of a mural installation outside of a symposium for the history of the military films in Japan, a guy came up and praised the piece and offhandedly said something like, “awesome, isn’t it?” to which, we were told, Nagisa responded with a lighthearted, but serious rant about how it was anything but. He pointed out how between the uniforms, the weaponry, and the battle formations, there were about 3 different periods represented in the piece whose title was a nod to yet another period. The guy was impressed by Nagisa’s wealth of knowledge and his apparent passion for the subject and invited him in. It seems they got to talking about Nagisa’s interest in history and a history professor he’d seen in several documentaries that he came to look up to. The guy must have been thoroughly charmed, because before Nagisa left, he invited him to the screening of a documentary the following week.

Can’t you guys just see our precious ray of sunshine getting excited about his favorite subject without a care for who he was talking to? Just being adorable and knowledgeable all over the place? When we pick up the second leg we’ll tell you more about his undeniable charm.

Like many of you, a few of us here at The Gossip are die-hard supporters of Makoto and Haru being more than just friends. Much like Nagisa’s charm, their chemistry is undeniable. As far as most of us were concerned, they were already married and it was really just a matter of time before it became official. Or so we thought. The truth is, it was really just a matter of reciprocation. Grab a friend, a box of tissues, or both and brace yourselves.

Sources close to the pair informed us that Haru’s year abroad was an attempt to ease their recently strained relationship. It seems that Makoto confessed to Haru, but was turned down. Apparently Haru was surprised to find out that Makoto wanted to take their relationship further. Moreover, there is talk that Makoto’s confession was prompted by what he saw as a developing intimate relationship between Haru and Rin during the times he would return to Japan which seemed like every chance he got. Now, before you guys pitch a fit, Haru did not choose Rin over Makoto; whether or not the freestylers are in a relationship remains to be seen. Besides, we think Sousuke might have something to say about that. But regardless of how that works, it turns out that while Makoto is the most important person in Haru’s life, he just doesn’t see Makoto that way. Reportedly, the confession came toward the end of Makoto’s sophomore year and they tried to go on as if nothing changed, but by the end of the term, Makoto started distancing himself and they weren’t seen around with each other nearly as much as was normal for them.

Understandably, it was a difficult pill for Makoto to swallow. How many years had he held it in? Haru made the decision to go abroad; we suspect he did it to give to give Makoto the space he needed and it seems to be working. These days they talk at least once a week and trade emails the rest of the time. One of The Gossip staffers wondered if the distance was enough and would they, or more specifically, would Makoto be alright if they were to be in each others’ presence again. Well, we can only wait for Haru’s return a few months from now to see what’s what. However, in the mean time, I don’t think we need to worry for Makoto too much because he seems to be having fun hanging out with Sousuke. Hmmmn…

Speaking of the man, Sousuke has been, by far, the hardest one of the boys to pin down. Last we knew, everything was up in the air and other than his choice to study sports science, we had been unable to learn anything new about him. Many of us thought he gave up on swimming and his shoulder completely. Of course that was until just a while ago when another The Gossip staffer was helping his wife select photos for a decade retrospective of her work shooting open water athletics and noticed a familiar face in her stacks from the last two years. There was Sousuke, plain as day, getting acquainted with a longboard. Word is that even though he’s new to it, many people in the surf scene have high hopes for him. We know you have to be wondering how he can be active in a sport that demands movements similar to those that put him out of commision in the first place, because we were too. After looking into it, we found out that he hasn’t so much as taken off. So what does this mean? We’re not entirely sure ourselves, but it may have something to do with his ongoing physical therapy and the surgery he has scheduled for the end of term. That’s right friends, come August, Sousuke will be going under the knife! Could this be the start of his return to the pool and Rin? As great as that would be, when we consider his stomping grounds of late, we’re inclined to believe that he’s aiming for open waters.

The end of the term is right around the corner, but even after the surgery, he may not hit the water for another six months to a year. So much can happen during that time—just as with what Haru’s return will mean for Makoto, we can only wait and see.

While we’re on the subject of things to see, let’s look to the other side of the Arakawa River as we close out this issue.

Although, according to him, he’s “just getting started,” he’s already making waves on the Tokyo Film Center School of Arts campus and beyond. At a striking 181cm, he’s head and shoulders above the majority of his peers, but that’s probably the least of the reasons for the whispers and stares that follow him around. In his freshman year, he was at the center of scholastic and industry-wide controversy when his documentary on the Japanese art schools’ collective student body’s views on the international pornographic film industry garnered the Super Premier Award at Tokyo FC Film Festival. Taking top honors over documentaries about the state of traditional Japanese arts, pan-asian political relations, and a flurry of thought provoking dramatic and comedic short films, his aptly named The Body Pornographic was the result of a year of being robbed, threatened, harassed, and arrested while collecting data for his year-end project. When he first submitted his work to the festival jury, it was written of as obscene and if it wasn’t for two professors, one lecturer, and that very same collective rallying behind him, he would have been able to add being expelled to the list of obstacles he was made to overcome that year. During a post-festival interview, when asked why he felt the need to make such a bold statement so early on in his career, it was reported that he said,

“Perhaps it’s too soon to call what I have going a career, but I don’t want to wait until I do or until I’m established in what others think is some meaningful way to say what I want to say—especially when it’s something that needs to be said. […] There’s nothing bold about pornography. Nakedness is the default state and sex is what keeps us going, so when you throw in some dialogue or an orchestrated scenario and a person’s willingness and desire to touch and be touched, all you have is a reflection of the everyday life of most people. Somewhere along the way these things congealed into this irredeemable perversion and it was left to those who lack imagination and only seek to exploit people and some of the most basic elements of humanity. […] I aim to reclaim it. I intend to show people that a film that unabashedly focuses on sexual expression is just as virtuous as a coming of age story or a fight to save the world. But even beyond its virtuousness, I want everyone to understand that in addition to being an equally estimable theme, it can also be integrated into these and other motifs without skewing their context or devaluing them in anyway.”

While his efforts to make good on his reclaiming continue to be shrouded in controversy, his sentiments definitely give you something to think about. And speaking of thinking, have you figured out who our vanguard is? We’re so proud of his achievements—we can’t help but cheer him on. You guys should be on the lookout for amazing things coming from him too. But in the meantime, he’s still in his second year, and occasionally trailing behind the ever-present buzz reverberating in his wake is a redheaded visitor excitedly calling out, “Nitori-senpai!”

Well friends, that does it for this issue. We know you’ll never be sated, but we hope you’ve had your fill for now. In our next issue, we’ll conclude Nagisa’s journey, check in on his Soudai senpai, and bring you more of the news you want to know. Please look forward to it!

Issue No.3

We’re back with another issue that’s filled to bursting with the news you want to know. On today’s menu we have the conclusion of Nagisa’s journey, the trials and travels of Matsuoka Gou, Makoto’s returned favor, Sousuke’s new place, and what’s this we heard about Rei spraining his finger on a date? For all this and more, read on!


We left off at Nagisa’s invitation to the screening—now this is where it gets really interesting. Nagisa showed up for the screening and was greeted by the guy that invited him and his friend. The guy turned out to be a professor of film studies at Waseda University and his friend was the history professor that Nagisa was so enamored with! Not that Nagisa’s idol ever had a chance, but he too fell under our ray of sunshine’s spell. And before it was all over, Nagisa had a promise from both professors that if his grades met the minimum requirements for Waseda, that they would take care of the rest to get him admitted to the institution. If we were Nagisa, we wouldn’t pass up that chance either. So, over the following months, our little anti-study buddy turned into a study machine and amazingly managed to fall into the 81st percentile which was 7 points above the minimum score! The professors honored their promise and welcomed their new future alum. As if all of this wasn’t amazing enough, Nagisa is enrolled as a dual major in Japanese History and Cinematic Studies, both with a focus on military, media, and propaganda.

From the looks of things, his first year has been a good one and even though he’s only a freshman, his classmates call him senpai and he’s got the whole faculty wrapped around his finger.

On the subject of fingers, Rei’s is recovering nicely after he sprained it while catching a woman after she slipped on the ballroom floor where they were enjoying their date. So what did Nagisa have to say about his boyfriend going on a date with someone other than him? It seems he was happy and proud since it was Rei’s suggestion that his class’ civil volunteer project be a day out with the WWII Widows Association. Go check out the footage of Rei cutting a rug on the NDA website.

Rounding out the original Iwatobi first-year trio, you’ll never guess where we caught up with our favorite team manager. If you guessed Soudai, then you know more than we did. All of our intel on Gou had her travelling about the country and occasionally crossing oceans—we had no idea there was a rhyme or reason to it. Also on the list of things we didn’t know was that she’s studying journalism and happens to be in a track that has an extensive exchange program, hence the globetrotting. This also puts her in the same faculty as Nagisa. Although she’s on campus these days, she’ll be heading back abroad as soon as she finishes helping Sousuke settle into his new place.

And about that… Our sources tell us that Sousuke’s move was one of the things on his pre-surgery prep list. His new 2LDK is just a hop, skip, and a jump from university and his post-surgery physical therapist. It looks like his pre-op date is during the first week of August. Afterwards he’ll be in the first stage of his recovery which is about a month and a half of stabilization, so pretty much no movement of his shoulder. From there he should be able to move into the next phase. Sounds like he’ll be inconvenienced for a while, but don’t worry, because his new flatmate will be all moved in and ready to lend a hand by the time Sousuke gets discharged.

As the end of term draws nigh, our attention turns to what’s in store for Makoto when Haru returns. Oddly enough, we maybe the only ones concerned about it, because Makoto has been busy studying for exams and lugging boxes to Sousuke’s place as well as his own. What could he need boxes for, you ask? Well, who do you think Sousuke’s new flatmate is?!

That’s right! Sousuke was a big help to him in recent months, so Makoto suggested they move in together so that he could return the favor and be there for him throughout his recovery. Guys! That’s at least a year-long commitment! Some of The Gossip staffers feel a case of the oops I fell asleep naked in the wrong bed coming on. And the rest of us are firmly entrenched in the no way, Sousuke camp. But what if they’re right?! Could it be too soon for Makoto? And what would that mean for Sousuke and Rin’s relationship that, when we last checked, was on hold while Sousuke thought things over?

Looks like that’s all we have for you guys now. Be sure to join us next time when we take a closer look at Makoto’s traded favors, Sousuke’s recovery, and more of the news you want to know. See you guys then!

Issue No.4

Hello! Hello! Hello! It’s the end of the year and we’re back with another juicy issue dripping with all the news you want to know! As promised, we’ll be getting everyone up to speed on Sousuke’s recovery. We’ve got so much to tell you guys about the summer holiday and the autumn term! And, guess who’s back in Japan?


We were all so happy to hear that Sousuke’s surgery was successful and that, with diligence and patience, he should be able to return to the water inside a year. Even with such a bright forecast, two weeks into the first stage of his recovery and Sousuke was caught looking like a sour puss. You’d think that after being holed up in the flat he shares with Makoto for all that time he’d be happy to be out and about, but not so. He was seen with his healing shoulder and upper arm secured to his side and the whole arm nestled in a sling as he trailed behind a shopping bag-laden Makoto. Most of the bags were from several housewares boutiques and shops, so we think it’s safe to assume that they were running errands to pick some odds and ends they weren’t able to get for their place beforehand. Our EIC surmised that self-sufficient Sousuke was probably fine with Makoto helping him out at home, but wasn’t too keen on coming off as completely useless in public. Raise your hand if you can easily imagine Sousuke succumbing to the power of Makoto’s smile as his flatmate urged him to not stay cooped up indoors. Yeah, us, too. It should be noted that our EIC isn’t even on Team Mako, but swears that his smile could stop a war.

Observers who saw them later that day reported that they spied Grumpy Gus break into howling laughter as a result of what appeared to be a staring contest between the friends. What’s more is that, since that time, Sousuke—whenever he’s in Makoto’s company—had never been seen without a smile. We’re thinking that, in an attempt to keep Sousuke from being idle and moody, Makoto planned a bunch of activities for their summer break. Considering the places they went, it looks like they were playing “tourist.” They were seen at the zoo, the Ryogoku Kokugikan, the Shinjuku Gyoen, and a number of shrines and museums. And they always looked like they were having fun. Also, we noticed that all of their visits were scheduled during off-peak hours—leave it to Makoto to make sure Sousuke and his shoulder didn’t get caught up in crowds. Such a good friend!

The boys had such a busy break, so we weren’t surprised when they started staying in two weeks prior to the start of the autumn term. We were sure they were done with their outings and getting back to business, but a few days before the opening ceremony, after accompanying Sousuke to his doctor’s appointment, Makoto took him to Shinjuku Suehirotei for an exhibition of Tatekawa Danshi’s work which included two tribute performances. As birthday presents go, it’s pretty cool, but who would have thought that Sousuke would be into rakugo? It seems that he’s been enjoying it since he met Tatekawa—whose real name is Matsuoka Katsuyoshi—through Gou when they were younger. Sousuke looked like he wasn’t expecting it, so it seems like it was a surprise! Afterwards, they ate at an upscale horumonyaki place where Makoto was seen cutting up Sousuke’s food…

Now we don’t want to start any rumors of our own, but when we think about the quick-eat places they ate at during their other outings, doesn’t this birthday celebration seem more like… a date? Hmmmn… We’ll put that on the back burner for now.

A couple of months later, about a week before Makoto’s birthday, Haru returned to Japan and Sousuke’s smile was nowhere to be found. Initially, we just waved it off thinking that he still hadn’t gotten over Haru’s “interference” with Rin’s dream, but it just didn’t make sense after all this time, especially since Rin was living that dream. A few us thought that it might be some lingering jealousy in regards to his boyfriend’s obsession with Mr. I Only Swim Free. We were all set to go with that when we found out that Sousuke and Rin are not a couple! They aren’t even “on a break.”

Of course we had to get to the bottom of this, and when we did, we learned that they officially broke up when Rin and Haru returned from Australia. What we’ve come to understand is that Sousuke was trying to make it work with Rin, but he realized that no matter how close they became and no matter how much they understood each other, he’d never be a match for what Haru meant to Rin. Other than Rin’s father, Haru was the biggest influence on Rin’s single-minded attachment to swimming. We have to admit that that is indeed hard to beat. It was Sousuke who ended their relationship and, although it took some time, Sousuke did move on and there’s no doubt that they managed to remain friends.

So, if Rin is living his dream and Sousuke let him go to obsess evermore, what’s the reason behind his animosity towards Haru’s presence? Could it be that he’d gotten used to having Makoto to himself and now that Haru’s back, Makoto’s attention is split, or worse, paid in full to Haru? Before any of you say “no,” hear us out, okay? Alright, they have built up quite a bit of friendship points since starting university; both Sousuke and Makoto are single, so there’s no obstacle there; and they are sharing a flat. While there’s been no oops I fell asleep naked in the wrong bed—that we know of—it’s close quarters. When you add in the possibilities of what Makoto helps Sousuke with at home and the thought that must have gone into that birthday date, you have the makings of a brand new love. We’re not 100% committed to this, but these are at least moderately compelling circumstances, so don’t be surprised if something comes of it.

However, there’s something equally compelling against a match between our flatmates and that’s Haru, or more specifically, his behavior of late. When he first returned to Japan, he hung out with the boys on occasion between his classes at Hattori and his apprenticeship. On Makoto’s birthday he celebrated with Makoto during the evening after Sousuke presented his gift. So everything seemed fine. But then, closer to the end of the year, Haru had taken to joining in on nearly everything that Sousuke and Makoto routinely did together. And it wasn’t like when they were living near the main campus, Sousuke and Makoto were now twenty miles away at the Tokorozawa campus while Haru still lived in Tokyo; however he joined them at the library, on their early morning run, and the three of them were even seen together at the market around the corner from Sousuke and Makoto’s place. It was also reported that Haru started using the 3-hour break in his apprenticeship to make dinner for them when Makoto returned from his own internship three days a week. By the end of the year, the flatmates were being seen together less and less and Sousuke changed his physical therapy schedule to one that conveniently had him out of the house on the nights that Haru cooked for Makoto.

So what is it? Did Haru get in between them on purpose? It seems likely when you think back to how he was before going abroad. He and Makoto hung out and were joined at the hip, but it was Makoto going to him and pulling him along. Or is this just how this new phase of their relationship is going to work and Sousuke is just… jealous?

Are these actual developments or are we reading too deeply into this? Tell us what you think is going on.

We’ll end with these thoughts and get cracking on the next issue where we’ll deliver the details on Makoto’s birthday, the story behind the move, how Makoto is handling Haru’s return and more of the news you want to know.

Issue No.5

Happy New Year! We hope you guys enjoyed your holidays. Many, many thanks to all of our readers; everyone took such good care of us last year, so we’ll be counting on you in this new year as well! Let’s see what we have for you all… There’s Makoto’s double dose birthday celebration, Sousuke’s recovery update, lots of details and well-defended speculations from The Gossip staffers about the story behind the move, and as always more of the news you want to know!


We dug deep and searched far and wide to get the intriguing back story of our heretofore unlikely pair. Let’s take it back to Makoto and Sousuke’s freshman year at Waseda. Early in our investigation we were able to solve the lingering mystery of Sousuke’s admission—his exam scores were in the 95 percentile, so if he had applied before he graduated, he would have had no problems getting in. While he did not receive a recommendation, per se, his physical therapist, who is well known in his field, appealed to the admissions board to grant Sousuke special dispensation and allow him to matriculate during the autumn term so that he did not have to lose a whole year. The board required Sousuke to submit an essay on his plans for the future and what led him to pursue those goals. It’s probably safe to assume that the essay went over well with them, because they granted the exception and Sousuke started classes that September.

They were in the same faculty, but Sousuke and Makoto didn’t meet until the middle of the term when they showed up at the same time during their professor’s office hours. We can’t imagine Sousuke taking the initiative to strike up a conversation, so it had to be Makoto that broke the ice. This was also around the time that Haru withdrew from training and closed himself off to deal with what we can only imagine was a difficult decision. When he wasn’t in class, Makoto was seen running between the library and Haru’s place. Rin was back and forth across the Pacific checking up on Haru and visiting Sousuke. That had to be expensive. We aren’t sure if he was “being there” for Haru or trying to convince him to swim again, but whichever it was, it brought about a rift in his relationship with Makoto. The two were overheard arguing and, at some point, Makoto yelled warningly at Rin telling him that he had his chance and he wasted it and that he should just let it go, to which Rin supposedly rebutted that Makoto was the one who needed to let go and that he wasn’t Haru’s mother, so he should stop coddling him. We think the first domino to fall was Rin throwing Makoto’s words back in his face. Before all went silent, Rin was heard telling Makoto that it was ridiculous for him to talk about wasted chances when he had so many for so long and still did nothing and that when he returned if nothing had changed, that he was going to really do it at that time.

It just makes you cringe. One of our interns was quick to point out that they get along to some degree now, so at least we know they worked things out at some point. That did ease our hearts, but the intern didn’t stop there, he said that their argument revealed some very important things. First, that both Rin and Makoto had feelings for Haru and that they knew the other did and persisted with an unspoken rivalry. Second, that even though Makoto had feelings for Haru, he, for some reason, let Rin act on his own first. And third, that Rin didn’t approach Haru about a relationship when they were in Australia, but said that he would if Makoto hadn’t made a move by the time of his next visit to Japan. This means that the speculation that Makoto’s confession that was prompted by Haru and Rin’s seemingly increasingly more intimate relationship was true, but not as sudden or as precisely as we previously believed.

Let’s play “What if” for a moment. What if Makoto, who we know loves Haru, thought that those little changes in behavior that Haru exhibited during high school whenever he was around Rin or up against him (not physically, of course), were signs that Haru might return Rin’s feeling? What if Makoto, wanting Haru to be happy, tried to support them by giving them a chance? What if this chance turned into Rin and Haru’s trip to Australia? What if the wasted chance was Rin pushing Haru to swim instead of dealing with their assumed feelings for each other? What if?

The ladies in accounting reminded us that, before all of these possibilities, that one night before the nationals that Haru ran away from him, Makoto did feel like he failed to get through to Haru about his future. So, it was more likely that he turned to Rin out of love for Haru, hoping that whatever was between them would be enough to comfort Haru who was obviously hurting in a way that he didn’t fully understand. If this is true, it had to be a first for Makoto and it probably hurt him that Rin, his unnamed rival, might be the one to save Haru. Then later, when Haru went into his shell after quitting swimming, Makoto probably not only blamed Rin, but himself as well.

With all of these things weighing on his mind, you have to wonder how did Makoto carry on so well. The truth is: he didn’t. Right after the new year, Haru made the decision to start culinary school. Rin was gearing up for the Olympics, so his visits came to a halt. Makoto wasn’t looking so good and Sousuke was Sousuke. Then, at the end of January, Makoto came down with the flu. They didn’t have any classes together and he never interacted with Haru, so we’re not sure how the barely social Sousuke found out that Makoto was sick, but he showed up with a care package at his place on the second day he was out. Something else we aren’t sure of is where Haru was—he was in the city and attending classes, but he didn’t visit Makoto until the fifth day. By that time Sousuke had fallen into a routine of stopping by Makoto’s in the morning on the way to class, again before he went to the library, and once more on his way home. It should be noted that noted that, at the time, Makoto’s place was to the east of Waseda in Okachimachi and Sousuke’s was northwest, in Mukaihara—that’s quite a bit of travelling to be doing multiple times each day. Even after Haru visited and continued to visit, Sousuke kept up his routine until Makoto was back in good health. In total, Makoto was out sick for a week and a half and during that time Sousuke also helped him get his classwork in order.

This caretaking period must have been a bonding one as well, because from then on, Sousuke and Makoto were thick as thieves—studying at the library, going to the gym, and they were even seen in town visiting a few record stores. Okay, maybe not quite as thick as thieves, but this is Sousuke we’re talking about, so it’s got to count for something. Considering how things are now, we never would have thought that Haru was hanging out with them, too. Several sources reported that while Makoto was definitely the glue that held the trio together and while Sousuke and Haru didn’t exactly yuck it up with each other, they seemed like they didn’t mind each other’s company too much. They carried on like that for almost a year and in that year, Rin stayed across the Pacific, Makoto and Haru seemed to live on as usual and Sousuke accompanied a classmate on what, in future retrospect, may turn out to be the trip that set his future on course. Sousuke enjoyed the Izu Islands so much that he returned the following summer without his classmate.

When the new year rolled around, Makoto, possibly urged by resolve or the fear of Rin’s return, made his long-held feelings known to Haru. Other than knowing that Haru didn’t see Makoto in that way, nothing is known about the conversation that included Haru’s rejection. Now, although his nursing services pulled Makoto through a really bad flu, it was the figurative shoulder that Sousuke lent to Makoto after he was turned down and after Haru left for his year abroad that Makoto felt was deserving of his offer to share a flat and help Sousuke through his own recovery.

To go from saying all of nothing to each other during their high school days to the friendship they share now, is really amazing. So, it’s sad to see them drifting like they are. We were wondering if Sousuke might feel that now that Haru’s back, his job is done. It would be such a shame if they went back to being strangers.

That’s enough with the somber thoughts for now; we’ve got a bunch of good news for you guys, too! We did promise the deets on Makoto’s b-day bash, so without further ado, we return to the present…

So, on Makoto’s birthday, Sousuke was seen meeting him at the station when Makoto was returning from the final interview for the internship it was said that he wanted to start during the following spring break. At first Makoto looked upset and was pointing to Sousuke’s shoulder, but then the look faded. Shortly after, they were seen not too far from Soudai’s campus in Higashi-Ikebukuro; Sousuke notably without his arm contraption—his doctor told him earlier that day that he had progressed to the point that it was no longer of use—and Makoto still suited up from his interview and with an awestruck look on his face as they toured the Sunshine Aquarium. We thought that, at the very least, he would have gone to an aquarium during the three years he was there in Tokyo, but it seems that he avoided going at all costs because it was dangerous to go with Haru. Ha! Readers, can you guys imagine that scene? Makoto running through the halls of the aquarium yelling, “Haru, don’t!” Both of them drenched in tank water… It was for the best, even more so because someone caught Sousuke watching over his flatmate’s first-time astonishment with his own look of fascination. Makes us curious~~

Later that evening, when they returned, Haru, Rei, Gou, and Nagisa were all the at their flat to wish Makoto a very happy birthday. Everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves—stuffing themselves to the gills—but as we know, that didn’t last.

We usually try not to end with such a presentiment, but cheer up dear readers, when we return, we’ll have more about Haru’s return, Makoto’s resolve, another separation, and more of the news you want to know!

Issue No.6

It’s spring somewhere and all is right with the world. Everything seems to be coming up roses! Boy have we got some goodies for you! We’ve got a questionable number of confessions, confirmation of post-graduate plans, a confrontation, and the state of Makoto’s heart in his own words! We always say that we’re bringing you guys more of the news you want to know, but never has this been more true, so let’s get on with it!


Last year ended with Sousuke and Makoto drifting apart, which is hard to imagine when they share a flat. It isn’t as if they were no longer on speaking terms—Makoto still helped Sousuke out with his at-home therapy and they continued to study together—but the atmosphere around them changed. With the exception of Makoto preparing to graduate, their lives carried on according to their routine, then on Valentine’s Day, things changed.

Apparently, two women approached and confessed to Makoto as he and Haru exited Renaissance Books. Initially it looked like the women planned it, but they looked at each other in bewilderment and it seemed as though an argument was about to follow until one explained to the other that she was not confessing to Makoto, but asking him to pass a letter onto Sousuke. The usually uninterested Haru was looking on in annoyance. Was it because they were interrupting their day or because he didn’t appreciate anyone approaching Makoto with such intentions?

Makoto accepted the letter for Sousuke and promised to deliver it. After the woman excused herself, Makoto was seen pulling the confessor aside, supposedly out of earshot of Haru and our source. Our source could not make it out, but it seems that Haru did, because he blushed! Darn those bustling city streets and their noise drowning out vital intel!

Although we cannot yet confirm what Makoto said that made Haru blush, upon hearing this, we decided it was okay to assume it had something to do with Makoto already having someone or liking someone, because what else could make Haru blush? We know Makoto delivered the letter to Sousuke, but we don’t know what he did with it. At the very least we know that it wasn’t a favorable reply because he’s still single. After that incident, Haru started staying over on the nights he cooked.

Our Team MakoHaru staffers believe that Haru had a change of heart, though they are divided on whether it is a case of now he sees the light or if it’s just jealousy and fear of not being number one in Makoto’s heart. Either way, our whole newsroom is in agreement that, with Makoto so close to graduation, that was not the time for Haru to be sending mixed signals. We also wondered if Makoto had noticed any of the changes that came about since Sousuke’s birthday. Our EIC, also considered internally to be an expert on Makoto’s smile, said that that angelic expression had been rather dim since the end of the year, so he’s positive that, be it the distance between himself and Sousuke or Haru’s aboutface, Makoto was aware of something.

It seems our EIC isn’t called an expert for nothing. It’s like he uses Makoto’s smile to chart the state of Makoto’s heart in the same way sailors of old used the constellations to chart their position at sea, because man if he wasn’t right!

Makoto’s senior year ended and he graduated with honors. Due to his special dispensation upon entering Waseda, Sousuke still had one more term to go. Since he was responsible for half of the rent and he still needed to study for his teaching certification, Makoto stayed in Tokyo for another six months. Haru was scouted and accepted a position at ekki BAR & GRILL at Four Seasons at Marunouchi—it was a minimum three-year apprenticeship leading to a guaranteed position at almost any Four Seasons around the world. He was set for life if that was the way he wanted to go. And it was questionable since we heard that he didn’t respond happily to the news that Makoto was returning to Iwatobi once Sousuke graduated and their lease came up for renewal.

The time Haru and Makoto could spend together decreased significantly after Haru began his apprenticeship. He had to move into the staff dormitory somewhere in Chuo and his schedule was hectic. Meanwhile, in addition to preparing for his certification exams, Makoto was helping Nagisa with a grant project, so he was quite busy.

Sousuke graduated and his and Makoto’s time in Tokyo came to an end. Makoto moved back home, Sousuke planned to move to Chiba (but didn’t; we’ll get to that later), Haru continued on at Four Seasons, and all of them without resolving the schism in their relationship.

Back in Iwatobi, Makoto took up a permanent staff position at Iwatobi SC and occasionally mentored his alma mater’s incumbent captain. The local radio show caught wind of his return and invited him to be a guest during their annual Taiiku no hi broadcast. It was there that he ran into Sousuke who had been invited as well. Now, here’s where we make good on our promise to deliver the state of Makoto’s heart in his own words.

Because of some technical difficulties, the broadcast went on an extended commercial break. Sousuke and Makoto were left alone in the booth while the host and the engineers went to look into the problem. Thing is, what they were working on was effecting the recording equipment, so as they fiddled with it, the system turned off and on at random intervals. And we have that mishap to thank for the following partial transcript of their downtime conversation!!! Spoiler Alert: It’s great! (“[…]” represent parts that were not recorded or garbled.)

Makoto: […] Chiba?

Sousuke: Yeah, that was the plan, but my senpai offered me a job that was more in keeping with what I want to do at the Shikano Spa Hospital, so I took him up on it.

Makoto: So… how long have […]

Sousuke: […] straight from Tokyo.

Makoto: I see. Yamazaki-kun, did I do something to offend you?

Sousuke: Eh?

Makoto: Well, I thought we were getting along, but towards the end of senior year, you kind of withdrew. I wanted to believe that it was just because we were busy, but although I thought you were going to Chiba, you knew I was here, and you never said anything after all these weeks.

Sousuke: Nah, you’re thinking too much, Tachibana; I’ve just been busy getting used to my job and stuff.

Makoto: Maybe I am. Maybe I’m thinking too much about how you changed your PT schedule and didn’t tell me, or how you started staying in your room and only seemed to talk to me when we were studying or when I was helping you with your at-home exercises. Or maybe I’m thinking too much about the day I came back to our place and you were already gone, two days earlier than you told me. Maybe I was thinking too much when I was expecting the note you left behind to say more than “Thanks.”

Sousuke: […] [barely audible]didn’t think you’d notice.[barely audible]

Makoto: W-What’s that supposed to mean?

Sousuke: Nothing.

Makoto: Yamazaki-kun, if I did something, please let me know; it wasn’t my intention. It just doesn’t sit right with me how things turned out. So please tell me so I can apologize and so I won’t do it again.

Sousuke: […] anything […] making you feel that way. […] giving you space. I thought you could use some.

Makoto: Space? For what?

Sousuke: Tachibana, you… I mean, Nanase came back and you seemed to be doing alright with it. I was worried because I wasn’t sure if you were over him or not, but I guess it didn’t matter in the end.

Makoto: I don’t understand. Haru did comeback, but did that mean you and I couldn’t be friends anymore?

Sousuke: No, of course not. We’re still friends.

Makoto: Are we?

Sousuke: Yeah, we are.

Makoto: So, why the space?

Sousuke: […] and three’s a crowd. He was definitely expressing interest, so you had a chance to be with the person you loved, so I made myself scarce.

Makoto: You helped me through a really tough year. What you told me about how things were between you and Rin allowed me to put a lot of things into perspective. I was happy to be able to witness your triumphs and so appreciative that you were there for mine. I felt privileged that you let me be there for your failures and grateful that you were there for mine. We’ve seen each other cry […] our friendship. So, if this chance was so great for me [mumbled]not saying that it was[mumbled], why wouldn’t I want to share my happiness with you?

Sousuke: I gu(ess?) […] […] A long period of feedback.

Makoto: […] and you seem to have forgotten it was because Haru turned me down that I became something of a mess that you tried to clean up. I still love him—he’s my best friend—but even if he was showing interest, it’s not because he feels or felt the same way I did and I don’t want to be wanted that way.

Sousuke: But, when you gave me that letter from that girl […] you already liked.

Makoto: […] but I wasn’t referring to Haru.

And then there was more feedback and then the broadcast resumed.

Guys! Guys! What does this mean?! Did Makoto tell the woman he liked someone else because there’s really someone else or did he say it to let her down politely? If it’s the former, was that an offhanded confession we heard? The Gossip offices are in an uproar over this. Even our resident Team MakoHaru is pleasantly intrigued by this development. We may have SouMako converts in our midst!

A terrible place to stop, we know and if it wasn’t bad enough, we’ll be on hiatus for a bit. But we promise when we return, our cups will runneth over with all the news you want to know!

Issue No.7

When we said we were going on hiatus for a bit, we really did mean a bit, but things happened that were beyond our control and we had to close up shop for a while. But now we are back with most of the old gang and a few new faces and we’re ready to deliver all the news you want to know. There’s a lot to get everyone up to speed on, so let’s not waste another minute!


How about a recap? Last we met both Sousuke and Makoto officially became Soudai alum and left Tokyo to start the next stage of their lives. Makoto moved back to Iwatobi and took on a position at Iwatobi SC. Sousuke was initially headed for Chiba, but a change of plans took him to Tottori Prefecture as well and he put down stakes in Koyama which was equidistant from his job at Shikano Spa Hospital and Makoto’s home in Iwatobi. Makoto was none the wiser about Sousuke’s new gig and only found out when they were both guests on a local radio show’s annual Taiiku no hi broadcast. Thanks to some technical difficulties during that show, we were graced with a transcript that may or may not have included an inadvertent confession from Makoto. Taiiku no hi was just a few weeks ago; so it’s been a little more than a year since. Please settle in while we endeavor to bring you current.

November/December – Sousuke and Makoto were seen queuing up for a Miike Takashi film at Tottori Cinema on Sosuke’s birthday. And some weeks later, they were heading to Yuushuukan to support Nagisa’s presentation of his first feature-length documentary.

January/February – The boys started a weekly thing, usually Sundays, where they met up at a random coffee shop and tried something new. Sousuke’s recovery had gone on a few weeks longer than most, so, even though the pool had been introduced to his therapy right before he graduated, he had not be given permission to try out the unpredictableness of open waters until right after his birthday when his therapy ended. We have it on good authority that Makoto convinced him not to rush out to Niijima right away, but to test the less populated Tottori sakyu surf first. It must have gone well since he did finally go to Niijima for three weeks in February. And while he was gone, Makoto was looking pretty lonely.

March/April – Haru came home for four and a half weeks at the end of March. Unlike when he came home from Australia, Sousuke did not fade into the background. Makoto and Sousuke’s routines didn’t change at all. Instead, they invited Haru to join them and from what we can tell, Makoto and Haru hardly spent any time alone. However, we have learned, from a highly trusted and reliable source, that Haru and Makoto were sitting at narrow bar that looked out onto the street as they waited for Sousuke on Random Coffee Shop Day and it was one of those rare occasions when they were alone. Haru asked Makoto if he was still in love with him. Makoto responded with a question of his own. Haru’s response to whether or not he was in love with Makoto was that he didn’t want to lose him. Makoto told him that he was hurt that he would ever think that and assured him that no matter who he meets or who he loves and that no matter where they were in the world that Haru would always be his best friend. It seems that Haru apologized for the way he acted, but rather than smile and tell Haru it was okay and that he understood, Makoto sternly told him to be sure not to do it again.

This was a surprising response from Makoto; it shows just how much he was hurt by it. Apparently Sousuke wasn’t the only one confused about what Makoto said to the woman who confessed to him; not even a minute later, Haru asked Makoto who he was referring to at that time and just as if his name was called, Sousuke waved to them from across the street.

Do you guys think Makoto would have told Haru if they weren’t interrupted? Our EIC says that an unsmiling Makoto is the most honest Makoto there is, so the newsroom is pretty unanimous in thinking that he would have. But the most important question is: what would his answer be?

May/June – Rei and Nagisa returned to Japan for Golden Week;  They both managed to get assignments in Canada right after graduating, or rather, Rei was assigned to work for three years with the Japan-Canada Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation and when Nagisa found out, he begged and pleaded with his director at the Ryozen Museum of History to let him chaperone the three exhibits they were lending to the Canadian Museums Association for a two and a half year tour. While they were back home, everyone came to surprise them and congratulate them on their legal marriage—so says the Canadian government. Nagisa had a little too much to drink and started singing the kissing song. The first five rounds seemed to be his wish for his and Rei’s future, but on the sixth round he used Sousuke and Makoto’s name and Makoto almost choked on his gyoza. Sousuke looked completely unaffected by the lyrics, but was out of his chair and kneeling in front of Makoto, patting his back, and making sure he was okay before anyone could blink.

Well. it’s not like the things they were doing since they met up again a year ago don’t look like dating. And yet, they weren’t dating.

July/August – Between Tanabata, the still new Yama no hi, and an assortment of local festivals, Makoto took it upon himself to keep his and Sousuke’s free time occupied. They also enjoyed a few rounds of arctic laser tag—and now there’s a picture of them all suited up in the park’s hall of fame. Witnesses say the boys had to take the picture several times because Sousuke couldn’t keep a straight face. We believe Makoto packed their free time full of activities because Sousuke was going to be moving to Niijima to help run the new hospital and sports therapy clinic. If this doesn’t say, “I love you/I’m going to miss you,” then we don’t know what does. The most interesting thing is that Makoto started making plans before Sousuke made his announcement, which means that he had known for some time and was just waiting for Sousuke to tell him. J-Just leave us alone with our box of tissues.

September/October – Makoto saw Sousuke off at the airport. Before he boarded his plane, Sousuke hugged Makoto—tightly and lingeringly—and then ruffled his hair.

Some questionable sources say that that exchange was Sousuke asking Makoto out. We don’t believe it. But if that’s true, we’re a little disappointed in Sousuke. Who pats his crush’s head like some little kid? Not sexy at all. Don’t give us that look; we said the source was questionable, so take it how you will.

November – Speculations aside, what we do know is that when Iwatobi SC closed up for the winter—November through the end of January—Makoto boarded a plane east and landed in Chofu. In case you guys weren’t aware, the Chofu airport has daily flights to several of the Izu Islands… including Niijima. Ohohoho!

That was just a few days ago, now. So what’s the deal, readers? Was Chofu a destination or a layover? Did Sousuke really ask him out? Or, perhaps it was just an invitation to visit. If Makoto is visiting, how long does he plan to stay? He’s got three months of free time!

We know there’s more to this story, but we’ll have to stop here for now—fact checking and all that. Once again we apologize for the unexpectedly extended hiatus; we hope our year’s worth of goodies has somehow made up for our long absence. Please hold us to our promise that we will return soon with much more of the news you want to know. m(__)m

Issue No.8

Hello friends! You’ll never guess where we’ve been, so let us just tell you! A few of us just flew in from Shimoda and before that we were on the white sandy beaches of Niijima! Ohohoho! You read that right! So, you know what that means! The facts have been checked and now we’re just itching to deliver more of the news you want to know!


Niijima was beautiful and not as crowded with the summer being over. We didn’t make it down there in time for the Niijima International Glass Art Festival, but while touring the art center, we were able to confirm that yes, Chofu was, in fact, a layover on the way to Makoto’s ultimate destination, Niijima! In the main hall, you can see photos from a recent celebration hosted in the museum, many of which include the boys. As a matter of fact, there’s evidence of the two of them all over the island!

Our first stop was Habushiura Beach which is a stones throw from the airport. With most of the tourists gone, the waves were left to the locals and several extended-stay pros whom Sousuke seems to have fallen in with.

It was reported that when Makoto arrived, he was greeted at the airport by Sousuke who gave him a welcoming bear hug and then proceeded to ruffle his hair. While we won’t retract our previous statement about that not being sexy, we will ask that you forgive us for saying that we were disappointed, because Makoto certainly wasn’t—when Sousuke stepped back, Makoto was practically in full crimson! If Sousuke noticed, he didn’t make a big deal out of it. They hopped into Sousuke’s jeep and headed east towards Habushiura. We didn’t even know that Sousuke could drive. They stopped at a cottage that was just short of the beach where a few of Sousuke’s friends and coworkers were waiting there for them. Introductions were made and then the whole group walked north towards one of the local’s house where a welcome barbeque was held. Once the long night ended, Sousuke drove south towards Omine-yama, a less populated area of the island—-presumably where Sousuke dwells these days—and called it a night. The next morning the boys headed out with a board strapped to the jeep and returned to the cottage from the day before; it seems it’s a clubhouse where Sousuke has been leasing some space to store his gear. They parked, stowed the board, and then headed back out on bikes. After a quick stop at Dosanko for a bite, they were seen biking the coast all the way past Habushiura Port towards Kumatsuchiyama. After that, they weren’t seen again until nightfall at an izakaya in the village.

Thanks to a friend of The Gossip, we were set up with passes to the following week’s events; a series of juniors open water sports competitions. So you know we took full advantage of that. With our press passes in tow, we spent the next few days on the other side of the island at Maehama Beach, doing double duty and earning our keep by reporting on the windsurfing and water skiing events. While there, we had the pleasure of hanging out with some of the locals, many of whom were more than happy to sing the praises of the island’s newcomer, one Yamazaki Sousuke! Apparently he is surfing’s new darling and his name has already left the shores of Japan and made it as far as Australia, the US, Morocco, and he’s even had invitations to Bundoran!

Sousuke hasn’t even been on the island long. Sure he visited during his first two summers at uni, but he couldn’t even surf then. To think that he’s such a powerful athlete that even after nearly four years of relative inactivity, he could advance so quickly in a whole other sport and all while holding down a full-time job. He’s amazing. Can you guys imagine where he would be in the world of swimming if he was never injured? Well, perish the thought! Because if he never had to refocus his life, who would have been there for Makoto when he was falling apart? Everything for a reason, as they say.

Enough of those sobering thoughts. One of the things the locals told us was that Sousuke already has a fan club on the island. Raise your hand if you were surprised. Yeah, neither were we. For all his aloofness, he’s still some kind of charming and more (if the way Makoto reacts to him is anything to go by). Our new intern believes that one of the things under the “and more” umbrella is attentive. She said that she noticed the stories the locals shared about Sousuke before Makoto arrived always had him at the clinic or on the water, but that none of the Sousuke and Makoto sightings during Makoto’s first weeks there were actually on the beach or in the sea.

At first we didn’t get why that was significant, but then, like someone flipped a switch, it came to us. The only thing we aren’t sure of is how Sousuke found out. It isn’t as if Makoto hides it, but his childhood experience with water and especially the sea isn’t anything we can see him just bringing up in casual conversation; we don’t even know if he has fully overcome his fear. The boys have grown close, but that doesn’t mean that Makoto has shared that with Sousuke, although the thought of them having that conversation is intriguing. But leaving aside how he found out, when we mind how Makoto’s first few weeks of island trekking was concentrated inland, it’s clear to us that Sousuke was definitely aware of Makoto’s trauma and was being sensitive to it. That’s what friends are for.

And on the subject of friends, before we pulled up stakes and headed up to Nebu-saki, we were invited to lunch by a few of the fan-clubbers; it was the day our EIC finally joined us on the island. He came to the izakaya straight from the ferry and without greeting or pretense, the first thing he said to the table was, “so, are they dating?” Needless to say, the whole lot of us burst into laughter. His question was quickly answered by one of the fan-clubbers, who actually went to Sano with Sousuke. She told us that while the two have been hanging out—practically joined at the hip whenever Sousuke wasn’t working—they’re just friends… for now.

As the food arrived, we picked their brains. We asked what they thought of Makoto and how Sousuke was doing overall. It seems that Makoto is in serious danger of gaining his own fan club. While Sousuke’s at work, Makoto can usually be seen with a team of kids hanging from or clinging to one limb or another. Somehow he’s fallen into watching them while their parents surf. And he’s totally adored by all of the local aunties. As for Sousuke, everyone fell in love with him immediately as well and in such a short time, he’s really made himself apart of the community. Never would have imagined anyone saying that about him a few years ago. Most think he’s still a bit mysterious, but not nearly as unapproachable. And he became even more so after Makoto arrived.

As we filled our bellies, they filled our heads with lots of inside info, so we have so much more to tell you! Like, what Sousuke used to do while Makoto was sleeping and what Makoto did when he found out. But the details of that and the rest will have to wait until next time. So please sit tight and we’ll return shortly with more of the news you want to know!

Issue No.9

Here we are again; it’s so nice of you guys to join us! Setsubun has come and gone, but the season of new beginnings still cannot be found. While we wait for warmer weather, join us as we dish on old habits, early birds, fraidy-cats, fluffy bunnies, screaming princesses, and more of the news you want to know!Nebu-saki was awesome–only two of us went, though–but since there isn’t much to do beyond taking in the vista, we were only there for a hot minute. With only three days left to our working holiday, we were determined to cover as much ground as possible. Making our way back down south, we stopped in Wakago to visit with another friend of The Gossip where we able to confirm some pretty interesting developments, among other things.


In a previous issue, we expressed our concerns about Makoto being close to open waters and whether or not he had fully overcome his fear. All of the places we tracked them throughout the month of November were inland. So we were happy to report that Sousuke was taking great care in keeping Makoto comfortable during his stay. One thing we didn’t question is how Sousuke, a new, but avid surfer, was coping with his time away from the water. Well, it seems that that time never existed. It was reported that during Makoto’s first weeks on the island, Sousuke would head out to Secret (so named for its lack of ease of access) to put some time in on the water while Makoto was sleep–usually for about 2-3 hours before Makoto woke up. You’re thinking, “clever,” right? Have your cake and eat it too, and all that. So did we, but apparently when Makoto discovered this, he was none too pleased.

It was told to us that Makoto woke up early one morning and walked by Sousuke’s room on the way to the bathroom and saw that it was empty. He looked around the house but he was nowhere to be found. We’re guessing Sousuke planned for this possibility and made a habit of coming back with breakfast as an excuse for why he was out. It happened a few more times and Makoto thought that it was all on the up and up. But then, one morning, Sousuke came back with breakfast as usual, but since they were suppose to be meeting up with people for breakfast, Makoto thought it was strange. He let it go that day, but a few days later he woke up even earlier and listened as Sousuke quietly left the house. After doing that for a few days, Makoto decided to follow him. Sousuke must not have known he was followed because he was audibly surprised when he came back ashore and found Makoto sitting next to his towel and other belongings.

As far as we could confirm, the boys talked and Makoto thanked Sousuke for his consideration. Sousuke apologized, but also asked Makoto if he wanted to try surfing. We think Makoto asked for time to think about it or Sousuke offered it to him because they didn’t hit the water for another week. When they did, Makoto started out just sitting in the surf, then he moved onto swimming close to the shore, then he graduated to swimming farther out. After three weeks or so of progress, they were at the end of December and they stopped their sessions. It was most likely because the water was too cold for Makoto because after that, he would just hang out on the beach with the kids while Sousuke and his friends surfed.

We’re so proud of Makoto and so appreciative of Sousuke for being there for him. A few of the locals said that Sousuke never left Makoto’s side once while he was in the water. Such a good friend! Let’s hope that Makoto keeps going. Wouldn’t it be great if he made a habit of visiting Sousuke when Iwatobi SC closes up for the season? If he does, then he’ll probably be ready to get on a board the next time he visits! We’re definitely looking forward to that!

This next bit was told to us by multiple sources as they tried very hard not to laugh. Since there were various re-tellings, we synthesized the most common parts to arrive at this little gem: one early morning, after reports of off-season whale sightings, Sousuke and Makoto were at the lighthouse on the southern tip of the island with binoculars, seeing all that they could see. Sousuke stood behind Makoto and guided his hands and shoulders in an attempt help Makoto find the pod of whales. Makoto must have been entranced because he took no notice of their friends that joined them. One of the kids brought her rabbit along and it seems that every living thing just loves Makoto, because as soon as she set it down, it bunnied right for him. It arrived at his feet and took no time before it started doing figure 8s around his ankles. It was a fortunate thing that the binoculars were slung around Makoto’s neck, because they certainly would have been done for when he let go of them while screaming and jumping up into an unsuspecting, but always prepared Sousuke’s arms. Apparently the conversation went something like this:

Makoto: Sou-Sou-Sou-SouAHHHHHHHHHHH! [he jumps up into Sousuke’s arms] Run! It’s a! It’s a! It’s a! … [he looks down] Bunny?

Sousuke: Yeah [voice absolutely flat, but his shoulders were barely containing the laughter], it’s a bunny. Do you still want me to run, [acknowledging the manner in which he was holding Makoto] princess?

Makoto: Please [he puts the hand that doesn’t have Sousuke’s shirt in a death grip over his face], don’t laugh…

It seems that Sousuke couldn’t even get out a sympathetic promise before he and the rest of the group broke up with laughter. And for about a week or so after, Makoto endured everyone affectionately calling him Tachibana-hime!

Some of the versions including details such as “they kissed” or “Makoto jumped onto Sousuke’s shoulders.” There weren’t enough corroborating versions that include those details and the possibility of things like that happened was slim to none, so we thought it best not to include them. However, they all include some form of embrace, so we wish we could have at least seen a picture of that.

Do you guys remember Sousuke and Makoto’s Random Coffee Shop days? Well, they kept them up even after Sousuke moved. Before Makoto went to visit, they took turns ordering a variety of coffees, teas, and chocolates online and shipped them to each other. Sometimes Makoto would go to an actual shop with his laptop, but most of the time he just stayed home. They started out using LINE (we wonder which one of them suggested it), but switched to Jitsi when they decided they wanted to have the option to video chat.

Now that they’re together on the island, the goodies are still being shipped, but just to Sousuke’s place. They pick a different place on the Island each time and drink from… wait for it… matching thermoses! How are these guys not dating?!

We’ll stop here while we ponder the answer to that question. Be sure to check out our next issue where we’ll, wrap up our Niijima trip with a local delicacy, the soothing waters of the Yunohama Roten onsen, an awesome exclusive, and more of the news you want to know!

CORRECTION: In issue #7, we reported that Sousuke would be working at the new hospital and sports therapy clinic on Niijima. The report should have read that he would be working at the new First Niijima Clinic in the sports therapy offices. We apologize for the error.

Issue No.10

Salutations! The day of hearts and chocolate is soon to be upon us and shopping bags and mixing bowls will be filled with chocolaty goodness. On the subject of delicious things, in this issue we’ll give you our reaction to an island favorite, an impromptu exclusive, and more of the news you want to know!


Our stop in Wakago was meant to serve as a regrouping, you know, recap what we’d done so far, review the intel that we’d yet to confirm, and to take a breather to rest up for the last two days that were supposed to be jam packed. However, Our Lady of Uwasa looked down on us and bestowed a gift unto us that even though it had nothing to do with why we were there, we simply could not pass it up. Our last full day’s plans were summarily changed, and although we were looking forward to it, we had no idea how so worth it the change would turn out to be. It was so unbelievable that some of us still have pinch marks. But before we get too deep into that, we have few other goodies to share.

As many of you may know, Niijima is thought by most to be the birthplace of a salted fish snack called kusaya. It’s wonders were new to all but one of us. As we sat around partaking of this noxiously aromatic, but surprisingly tasty treat and downing the local shouchuu, we started hedging bets on how long it would take for Sousuke and Makoto to become official. The editors were of the mind that they were already together, but our photographers said that they’d seen nothing to convince them that they were more than friends and seeing how long they’d been like they are, it could be a while yet. So, our EIC, ever the Makoto scholar, says that they have definitely not made their feelings known to each other, at least not directly or conclusively. He based his view on how honest and committed Makoto tends to be.

The senior photographer pointed out that Makoto waited forever to confess to Haru, so he’s not always honest. Our EIC reminded her that there is a time and place for everything and that not saying things that come to mind isn’t always about hiding things, but can often be a matter of taking current circumstances into consideration or simply taking time to determine if thoughts or feelings are true or just reactionary. Once he put that out there, everyone started chiming in with examples of Makoto being Makoto. Our travel photographer talked about the Iwatobi High’s recruitment performance and the very committed and very embarrassed Makoto as he showed off his charm points. Another half hour of praise for him slipped by before our EIC got back to his own point, which was that if Makoto was in a relationship it would be apparent. He said that Makoto “is a hand holder, a shirt collar fixer, a food off your face cleaner… he’s very affectionate and has probably been pouring all the remaining love he couldn’t give onto all of the kitties he’s met along the way.”

That stunned us to silence. No one could disagree, so all bets were quickly forgotten. The evening ended after a few more rounds of Shima Jiman and the sorting of the photographs we were lucky to get earlier that day. Though we all voted to sleep in, our ferry back to Shimoda was scheduled to depart in the afternoon and we still had to visit the onsen one last time, pack, and return our bikes, so up we got when when our EIC’s alarm went off at 7am.

Although we’d already collectively been to the Yunohama Roten onsen three times, our last visit was the first time all five of us visited together. It’s a 24-hour spot, so people were already resting, soaking, and milling about when we arrived. The waters of the free onsen may have been hot, but it was treated like the office watercooler. If you wanted the good gossip, this was where you came. Because we were working overtime each time we visited, we were never able to enjoy it all that much, that’s why we made sure to squeeze a leisure visit in before we left. It was so relaxing; just what we needed after eight days of traversing the island. After our hour and a half stay, we had enough time to return our bikes, grab a bite, and then queue up for our ride home.

We decided to nosh at this little nameless spot that you could easily miss. It had a weird setup; it was only about the size of a stamp, but it had three entrances. We entered and sat near the one that was facing the port. Our lifestyle editor went to find a restroom, which he ended up having to go outside to get to, and when he returned he looked like the cat that ate the canary. He sat like that for nearly two minutes. When he heard a bell ding on the door on the far side of the shop, he covered his face to muffle a scream and slumped in his chair just a bit. He’s not usually one for performances so we didn’t rush him. When he finally lifted his head, he was all red-faced and grinning like an idiot. He pulled out his phone and, like trained seals, we pulled out ours as well, and what he beamed us was the best send off the beautiful island could have given us: a live shot of Sousuke and Makoto on Random Coffee Shop Day!

We’re sure many of you have been questioning how we were on the island at the same time the boys were there, but never ran into them. Well, the problem was that we weren’t or rather, they weren’t. We thought they would be there, but a day before we arrived, they hopped to another island to help set up a volunteer-run satellite clinic and they weren’t expected to return until two days after we were scheduled to leave. Best laid plans and all that. It seems the date for it was tentative, so they probably only found out at the last minute. We had already reached the island by the time we found out so we decided to just make the best of it.

While we were overjoyed with our own last minute development, it wasn’t the first time we were able to catch a glimpse of Sousuke and Makoto. We hinted earlier that we had some exclusive goodies to share and we think we’ve made you guys wait long enough, so without further delay, let’s rewind back to our first night in Wakago.

In Wakago, we stayed at the Modei Minshuku where one of their staff also worked as seamstress for a new clothing company called Saku Collective. Their name comes from the lily native to To-shima, the island where four of the seven owner-designers are from. The collective was going to have a preliminary photo shoot for their first collection and she invited us to go along with her. It was a very pared down affair and everyone was very nice and greeted us warmly. We met five of the owner-designers and most of the models who happened to be local surfers and other athletes. We excused ourselves to a quiet corner out of the way where we could watch everything.

Our EIC and our lifestyle editor had the pleasure of witnessing a fashion photo shoot before, but the rest of us were wide-eyed noobs, to put it nicely. Our EIC said that for such a small operation, they were handling things pretty well. There were all kinds of lights and props and there was even music playing and a green screen. We were just a chorus of ooos and ahhs as we marveled at the goings on. Even though lunch wasn’t included in our stay, the minshuku packed an amazing bento for our team and the seamstress.

When the shoot resumed after their lunch, everyone on the set just kind of sat there. After a while we learned that they were waiting for two models who were asked to participate, but initially they weren’t available, but now, by some miracle, their schedules just so happened to open at the last minute. We were already pretty happy with the way the day and the trip had turned out, but we nearly fell into a euphoric coma when we saw that the models they were waiting for were Makoto and Sousuke! The Gossip let out a collective squeal. You guys, it was amazing! Sadly we were not able to meet them because they had to rush off right afterwards, and due to the line being unreleased, Saku Collective did not allow us to take any pictures, but it was such an awesome experience.

The first set was for their CityLife label. A focus on urban business chic with a touch of prep. The boys were turning heads even in the midst of a horde of models. After that was the set for their Day Off label. Lots of denim and plaid. Sousuke was oozing charm and Makoto was just setting the very air on fire. But between shots, we caught Makoto taking a short nap while leaning on Sousuke’s shoulder! Sousuke didn’t seem to mind at all. The following set wasn’t for a particular label, at least not that we could see, but that didn’t stop us from drooling just the same. The were dressed in yukata! The final image is supposed to have a starry sky background–we can’t wait to see it! And lastly, we are not at all apologetic for teasing you guys about all of the cuteness of their Cafe label set. We know exactly what we are doing and we are not sorry. They were both in different combinations of green and blue and there was such a playful atmosphere. The designers seemed really pleased with their presence for this set. And… there might have been a bit of flirting between takes along with Sousuke napping on Makoto’s shoulder!

And yet our EIC maintains that they are not together! If you guys had to wager, how much longer do you think it will be?

On that note, we’ll close out this mega issue. While you guys are out there scoping out new chocolatiers or mixing it up in your kitchens preparing those delectable delights and deciding who gets giri and if you’re brave enough to give someone honmei, don’t forget about the most important recipient: yourself! We’re sure you deserve it! In the meantime, we’ll be doing our best to continue bringing you all the news you want to know!

Issue No.11

We were looking forward to the spring weather, but it feels like it has been usurped by summer. Although it’s hot out, with about eight hours between them, things with our favorite boys that are friends are on the cool side. Even so, we’re still going to deliver more of the news you want to know!


With Golden Week ahead of us and graduations behind us, we have some long overdue updates for you.

First up is Rei & Nagisa. Rei is now in his 2nd year with Japan-Canada STIC and there is word that his stay may be extended beyond the initial 3-year term. Nagisa is in his 2nd year as a chaperone for Ryozen Museum of History with the Canadian Museums Association, but it’s only his first year as a full-fledged graduate, with honors, of course. He only has a year and a half left on this assignment, we’ll be keeping an ear out for how the two plan to handle their impending separation.

Next is Number Magazine‘s newest lifestyle columnist who brings with her several years of experience in sports administration and an address book full of the A-list connections she made throughout her time as a freelance journalist. Not one to rest on her laurels, Gou’s first contribution to the periodical, even before her first feature was published, was the creation of a mentoring program for aspiring female sports journalists. Although still in its infancy, the initiative has been gaining momentum.

As for the other Matsuoka, Rin has been back in Japan since the beginning of the year. He and his team have set up camp in Tokyo in preparation for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. Prior to his return, there were rumors of him swimming for Japan this year, but he arrived with his Aussie crew in tow, so those whispers have since been put to rest. As far as his habits go, not much has changed since high school. The guy’s got one heck of a training regimen, but it’s to be expected for this Olympic’s favorite. During his breaks from perfecting his stroke, he’s occasionally been seen in the company of Nitori Aiichirou and the Mikoshiba brothers, but more often than not, he’s been spotted out and about with Haru.

Speaking of… Haru’s halfway through his apprenticeship at Four Seasons; it’s too early to tell if he plans to transfer to another hotel once he completes it, though. We don’t know what this means or where it’s going, but Haru has started swimming again. He had a swim date with Rin and his crew a few weeks ago and has gone at least once a week since then. Whatever it is, it seems to be a good thing, because he looks happier than he’s looked in a while, since he quit, really. But we don’t think it’s just that; we’re sure the light in his eyes also has something to do with his mended relationship with Makoto. They’re no longer neighbors, so getting together can be difficult, but like anyone else, they seem to make time for the important things, like meeting up not too long after Makoto returned from Niijima and more recently at a café right around the corner from Rin’s training camp. The Gossip‘s Team MakoHaru has been in high spirits even though, by all accounts, the two’s reconciliation appears to be solely platonic. We’re sure that the most important thing for them is that their favorites be happy, even if it’s not with each other. That’s true love as far as we’re concerned.

On the subject of love, could it be in the air? While Rin has been hanging out with his former teammates, of the bunch, the elder Mikoshiba and his once removed successor have been frequenting dimly lit dining establishments around the hour that good children are heading for bed. In a previous issue we stated that Sousuke was the hardest one to track, but now that we think about it, we have no idea what Seijurou has been up to. He was in attendance when Ai accepted the Super Premier Award at Tokyo FC Film Festival a few years ago and he was seen alongside Gou and Momo and Ai’s graduation a year ago, but other than that he’s not even been a fleeting blip on our radar. What gives? Our Team Ai have added him to their agenda, so hopefully we’ll get some info soon. In the meantime, we do know that he’ll be accompanying Ai to his first appearance at the Cannes Film Festival. No word on what he’s screening, but we’ll be sure to deliver the deets once we know.

Now that we’re sufficiently caught up, there’s one last thing we have to share. With the exception of Momo who’ll be on an expedition with a few researchers from Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae–this opportunity is most likely a perk of having spent his junior year in Prague studying at the National Museum–the whole crew will descend on Iwatobi for Golden Week with command-central for the various get-togethers being stationed at Makoto’s house. This will be RIn’s last outing before he commits to his Taper & Shave phase leading up to the Olympics. Nagisa and Rei will be celebrating their 2nd anniversary. Sources say you can’t tell that they didn’t just jump the broom a few days ago–even a year after, the newlywed bliss is strong with them. And most interesting of all is not that anti-social Sousuke will be coming, it’s that rather than arranging for accommodations, he’ll be staying with the Tachibana’s!

OK. It’s not like Sousuke never stayed with the Matsuoka’s during the holidays and Haru’s never spent the night at his best friend’s house, and it’s not like Sousuke and Makoto didn’t live together for a year in Tokyo and for three months in Niijima, but, but, but… How can we not get excited about the possible implications this development presents?! Really guys, you know there is something going on. He, who, regarding the Iwatobi swim team, once said, “I don’t really plan to accustom myself with them, but if they help bring out a good swim, then I guess that’s all right,” has chosen to endure a whole week being in the midst of them when he could have easily, we don’t know, stayed with Rin, allowing himself some distance to be able to participate at will. Yet he chooses to stay with with Makoto…

We don’t know how we’ll fare, but for the sake of our journalistic integrity, we’ll be trying to keep our imaginations from running wild. However, you guys should feel free to become unhinged while cavorting with all manners of flights of fancy! When next we meet, we’ll be dishing out all of the goodies we get from Golden Week and, of course, more of the news you want to know!

Issue No.12

Heeeey yoooou guuuuuuys! Did you miss us? Well, even if you didn’t, we missed you! We’ve been working hard at hardly working. Most of the team has just returned from their recent hunch hunt and have brought with them a bounty of goodies. We have so much to tell you that it has to be told in two parts! We barely even know where to start dishing out more of the news you want to know!


Well, the beginning always seems like a good place. Team Ai has been on the move has some news about former Samezuka Captain Mikoshiba Seijurou. He has been doing nothing in particular since he graduated with a BA in Sociology from Tottori University. Most of his time has been spent travelling the country—often with Gou while she was freelancing—and showing up to support Ai at various engagements. And we have confirmed that the former captains are indeed a thing. Though we could not confirm for how long, some sources say that they go back as far as Ai’s first year at the academy. We were sure he only had eyes for Rin back then, but Ai remains something of a mystery himself, so we could be wrong. After arriving four days prior to the beginning of Golden Week, the two stayed with Gou during the holiday.

The rest of the out of town crew touched down the night before and with Nagisa leading, they wasted no time getting the party started. That night they attended the first of several karaoke sessions they had throughout the week. The highlight of the evening was an epic Enka battle between Rei who channeled Murata Hideo with a beautifully stirring rendition of “Hana to Ryuu” and Rin with his energetic delivery of Minami Haruo’s infinitely apropos “Tokyo Gorin Ondo.”

On Wednesday, the first official day of GW, while Nagisa and Rei headed to Tokyo for a presentation by one of Nagisa’s mentor’s, the rest of the gang went to the movies and then went for dinner at Shinoya where, some witnesses say, the atmosphere was a bit tense at times. One source was kind enough to provide us with the seating arrangement.

shinoya-01

It seems that most of them were having a good time, but Makoto was heard attempting to include Sousuke and Haru at various points in the conversation, but was usually met with silence. Haru, when he did talk, regardless of who he was talking to, kept his eyes trained on Sousuke. Meanwhile, Sousuke, with the exception of the few times he was heard talking to Gou and the one time he told Rin to “shut up,” he spent the whole evening leaning in to talk quietly to Makoto who was seen blushing in response more than once.

Gou, Ai, and Seijurou returned to Gou’s place when the night ended and Rin, Haru, Sousuke, and Makoto walked back toward Makoto and Haru’s houses. When they were about two or three minutes away from Makoto’s, a shopkeeper was reported as having been unsure what to make of two guys who ran up behind and jumped on the backs of two other guys. He said he was about to call the authorities, but when he heard the laughter, he laughed to himself and went on about his business. Apparently, when they were lagging behind Makoto and Haru, Sousuke decided that it would be great if he and Rin ran up on Makoto and Haru, respectively, and helped themselves to a piggyback ride. Haru didn’t seem too amused, but Makoto ended up carrying Sousuke the rest of the way.

Other than Nagisa and Rei returning, nothing much happened on Thursday. Friday saw mid-day KPop karaoke, more of Haru staring at Sousuke, and then separate Iwatobi-only and Samezuka-only gatherings. Sousuke left the Samezuka party early and returned to the Tachibana’s where he entertained Ren and Ran with sparklers in the backyard while Makoto was still at Haru’s with the rest of his former teammates.

On Saturday morning, everyone headed to Hakuto Beach for a camping trip. After they arrived, they set up camp and had lunch. After lunch, Gou split everyone up into teams and held a sand sculpture contest. The teams were Ai & Rei, Makoto & Nagisa, Seijurou & Rin, and Sousuke & Haru. The latter could not have been a coincidence, or so we think… We’re inclined to believe that Gou was up to something. About two hours later, Gou blew the whistle. Makoto & Nagisa’s entry looked like Genghis Khan with an extremely detailed butterfly on his head. The first captain duo, Ai & Rei, presented a penguin pulling a box or wagon full of pebbles, but it seems like they had trouble starting because Rei wanted to study the properties of sand before committing to their entry. Meanwhile, the second captain duo, Seijurou and Rin, made a three-dimensional rectangle and called it a pool. As for the winners, Sousuke and Haru, onlookers wondered how they even managed to make anything considering they seemed to be having a staring contest for the better part of the two hours. However, some of the crowd that got close enough reported seeing a drawing of the sculpture in the sand about a meter away. We’re sure that was Haru’s doing. They really got into it with a large fan that included a blooming cherry blossom branch in relief as a backdrop to Haru in a traditional mermaid pose with his lower body buried under sand that had been sculpted into that of a dolphin’s body. We think the prize was just bragging rights, but there may be more to it.

The beach-goers that had gathered dispersed, so, with the exception of handful of people, they had the beach to themselves again. Next up was a free-for-all in the sea. There was lots of laughter and splashing about and everyone seemed to be mingling. Haru and Rin seemed concerned about Makoto when they first went in, but it was said that the only time Makoto looked concerned was when Sousuke wasn’t next to him. Hmmn… How we wish we knew the sleeping arrangements—all we know is that there were four tents.

Beach Day 2. After a light breakfast and some warm ups for everyone, Gou set up and judged a few competitions. Here are the lineups:

#1 Samezuka vs. Iwatobi, in which Iwatobi won.
Stroke: Back/Breast/Butterfly/Free
Iwatobi: Makoto/Nagisa/Rei/Haru
Samezuka: Rin/Ai/Seijurou/Sousuke

#2 Butterfly vs. Free, in which Free won.
Butterfly: Seijurou/Sousuke/Nagisa/Rei
Free: Makoto/Rin/Ai/Haru

#3 Baywatch, in which Team Mako won
Lifeguard: Makoto/Sousuke/Rei/Seijurou
Swimmer: Nagisa/Haru/Ai/Rin

Surprisingly, even with an Olympian on their team, Samezuka lost to Iwatobi in the first competition. The Gossip‘s accounting department says Mako and crew had the advantage because the four of them dedicated hours upon hours to practicing together for relays, whereas the sharks, while from the same team, those four had never trained together for that purpose. The second event was stroke vs. stroke. Although they’re all strong swimmers, did the Butterflies even have a chance against a team with both Rin and Haru? For the final competition, Gou paired the same teammates from the sand sculpture contest for a Baywatch race. One team member swam out to a designated point and, once the whistle blew, the other swam out to “rescue” them and bring them back to the shore. It was an overwhelming victory for Makoto.

After the all the fun, Seijuurou and Ai wandered off somewhere, as did Haru and Rin, but not together it seems. Gou trekked off a little later. Rei and Nagisa drew a Gomoku board in the sand and challenged Sousuke and Makoto. By the time the win/loss reached 5/3 in favor of Nagisa and Rei, the rest of the crew had started wandering back. Ai returned aloft Seijurou’s back and Rin, Haru and Gou returned together with snacks. Shortly after, they broke camp and while Gou headed for Tokyo, everyone else made their way to the Shikano Onsen, Sousuke’s old stomping grounds. We kind of came up empty on this one. Since they stayed in the VIP quarters and had limited contact with other visitors and staff members, we weren’t able to confirm much about this portion of the trip, but what we did find out put us all on edge.

Several onsen visitors reported that Haru and Sousuke were seen talking alone for about an hour in the main lobby, but no one could figure out what they were talking about. Our staff had a few suggestions, all of which would probably fail to hold water if tested. A few people said flirting and the rest of us laughed. Our EIC is on his honeymoon, so we’ll have to suffer without his insight for now, but his secretary reminded us that our broodings bros have, to our knowledge, never resolved their differences. She has a point, but it seems like really bad timing for either of them to get into it. Lastly, our newest intern speculated that Sousuke might be asking for Makoto’s hand in marriage. Oddly enough, no one could laugh. It does seem farfetched, especially when you consider that Makoto’s parents are alive and well, but we all know that, for the longest time, Haru was the gatekeeper of Makoto’s heart, whether he truly understood it or not. So, you never know. Sadly, this is one of those things where you had to be there, and we were not. As such, it’s unlikely we’ll ever find out the truth about that exchange. They departed for Iwatobi the next day, late afternoon.

We hate to stop on such a disappointing note, but we promise to return shortly with some amazing developments in Golden Week 2020 Pt. 2 and, of course, more of the news you want to know!

Issue No.13

Here we are with Golden Week 2020 Pt 2! We’re going to skip the formalities and jump right into all the news you need to know!


Everyone made it back to Iwatobi safe and sound. Late the next day, Gou was still in Tokyo while the rest gathered for their final karaoke session, there was a lot of intense staring coming from Haru, but this time most of his concentration was directed at Makoto. It was almost as if he was waiting for something to happen. When they were being shown to their booth, Nagisa was overheard saying that since Makoto and Sousuke had escaped contributing to their earlier sessions they would be that day’s featured set. We wonder how Makoto managed to get out of it, but Haru, who we were told chose to wow the bunch with selections from Gurren Lagann, didn’t.

Now, we knew Sousuke was into hip hop, or rather Western music in general, but we were surprised to find out that Makoto and Ai were as well. We heard that Sousuke and Makoto went to see The Roots when they returned to Shibuya when they were still at university, but we thought he was just tagging along. Well, we were wrong. It seems that Makoto’s been into it for much longer than Sousuke’s had any influence on him. And this was crystallized with his recitations of tracks randomly chosen by Ai, who, on the other hand, was influenced by Sousuke back during their one-on-one training sessions. Apparently he was aware of Makoto’s tastes as well because his selections for the night’s verbal virtuosos were trending in very different styles, but neither Makoto nor Sousuke seemed to be caught off guard by them. Even more interesting is that some of the songs heard coming from their booth when their food arrived were not amongst the official offerings of the West End Sounds Karaoke Shop. We’re so curious to know who among the crew has the skills to hack into the system. What do you guys think? Most of us are placing our bets on Nagisa, but since these guys continue to surprise us left and right, we’re not entirely committed to that wager. During the session, there was a sighting of Haru and Sousuke off to the side as well as one of Makoto and Sousuke having their own private exchange. The evening ended with everyone chiming in on LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad,” which seemed to be the only request Sousuke and Makoto were allowed that night. We later learned that the song is an absolute favorite of the two. Who knew?

When everyone parted for the night, rather than follow Makoto, Sousuke left with Rin and Makoto and Haru headed home. We aren’t sure what happened, but the next and last day of GW saw everyone at the swim club for a sort of all hands on deck youth coaching party. In addition to the crew, Ren, Ran, and Hayato were in attendance. Hayato seemed very much enamored with Ran who seemed very much enamored with Sousuke who, for once, was paying attention to something other than Makoto.

After the event Rei, Nagisa, Sousuke, and Makoto stayed behind with the rest of the staff and a few parents to clean up. At one point, Nagisa was overheard not quite yelling “Oh my God, Rei-chan!” somewhere on the second level and it seems that when he finally found him, ne not quite yelled at him, “I saw Mako-chan kissing Sou-chan!” To which Rei was said to have replied, “what is that, a new Christmas song?”

Now, we were hesitant to make this known because all three of our initial sources only reported what they heard spoken between Nagisa and Rei. However, our fabulous intern was able to confirm with two additional sources who would have been out of earshot of the not quite yelling Nagisa that, by way of a reflection in a trophy case that was situated at the intersection of the corridor Makoto and Sousuke were cleaning, Sousuke was seen kissing someone and then heard asking that person to “please think about it.”

Are you guys still breathing? Well, hold on a little longer. Since everyone else left earlier to get ready for the evening festival, the four cleaners were the last to show up and although they returned to Makoto’s house to shower and dress, they were only there for about an hour, but they didn’t make it to the festival until it was almost over and no one has any clue of their whereabouts during that time. Once they joined the group, everything seemed normal as can be. They were seen twice away from the group, still nothing out of the ordinary. Some of the gang had an early start, so around 8:00 pm everyone said their goodbyes before heading back to their little corners of the world the next day.

When Sousuke and Makoto were seeing Rin and Haru off early in the morning, Sousuke was seen shaking Haru’s hand with no signs of hostility or tension from either side. We swear these two must communicate via telepathy because no one can ever discern what they’re talking to each other about. Afterwards, our favorite boys that are friends got in a Random Coffee Shop Day before they had to part ways. They went to what we believe was their first random coffee shop. Wouldn’t it be cute if they ordered the same thing they did that day? So, while they were there, they were overheard talking about something being “out of the question” and something being able to “be resolved within the next five months.” Our guess is as good as yours regarding whatever is out of the question, but as for the conversation about five months, we’re pretty sure that’s how long it will be until the swim club closes up for the winter. What could such a deadline possibly mean? And will we have to wait that long to find out?

Alright, so we did just do a hit run with the whole “please think about it” moment, but we wanted to give you guys the whole story as we knew it before really getting into it. Now, what do you guys think? Did they really kiss? And if they did, even if one or the other initiated it, did it turn out to be mutual?

Let’s suppose they did kiss {FREAKING OUT!}. So if they did {AH!} and it was mutual {OMG!}, Would that make the “please think about it” a confession/proposition from Sousuke {!!!!}? We are so itching to find out! But even if we are unsure about that, they were M.I.A. for about two hours before showing up at the festival and there didn’t seem to be any kind of distance between them while they were there. Guys! Could this really be what we think it is? And about that handshake… was it the culmination of all of those private chats they were having? Was our intern correct, was he really asking for Makoto’s hand? So many unanswered questions!

What are we going to do? With Sousuke returning to Niijima, we’re at a loss as to when they’ll meet up again? Will we really have to wait those five months? Will Makoto return to Niijima during this year’s winter, too? When we next meet, we hope to have the answers to these questions and, of course, more of the news you want to know!

Issue No.14

Long time no see! Autumn is upon us! Last we met we weren’t sure when we were going to return with an update, but things are happening and we cannot allow anymore time pass without catching you guys up on more of the news you need to know!


First things first. The kiss happened.

We’ll give you guys a moment to let that sink in…

Are you guys OK? Do we need to provide smelling salts? No? Alright then… The story is that a few of Makoto’s colleagues were overheard talking about the incident at a lunch spot just down the road from the swim club. While the two staffers that were leading the conversation couldn’t confirm who initiated it, they were certain that it was mutual. Staffer A said that he was mopping around the corner from where Sousuke and Makoto were when he heard a broomstick spank the linoleum floor. He peeked around to make sure no one was hurt and that’s when he saw Sousuke with his hands around Makoto’s waist and Makoto holding Sousuke’s face to his. Staffer A continued, telling C and D he looked around to see if anyone else was looking and that was when he saw staffer B. Staffer B added that two seconds later, they were being pulled back into their corridor by “Hazuki-san” who then gave them a look and then ran off. We assume this is when he made his way to the second level to deliver the news to Rei.

So we have confirmed the kiss. Now what? Well, we still don’t know what “please think about it” was referring to, however, something is afoot. Three weeks ago, three nights in a row, Makoto was seen with Seijurou and Gou in a parking lot doing what looked like learning to drive. At the end of that week, Makoto went away for six days, but none of our usual lookouts saw him, so we aren’t sure where he went. And that brings us to now, or rather, two days ago when we ran across this listing on the Hello Work site.

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So, could this be a listing for the Iwatobi Swim Club? Of course they aren’t the only facility in Tottori-ken that employs swim coaches, but with all of Makoto’s other activity, we can’t help but wonder. Especially when we consider that we’ve yet to sort out what “please think about it” meant. As we gain ground on the “5 months” that was mentioned during their last Random Coffee Shop Day, we’re hopeful that we’ll finally learn what that was all about. At this point we don’t have a firm grasp on the situation, so to avoid going too deeply into speculation, we’re going to close out here.

Things are definitely a-brewing, so we hope that you, our dear readers, will be keeping your eyes and ears open as well. So, for now, we’ll leave you with this length of grapevine as we do our best to continue to bring you more of the news you want to know!

Issue No.15

Barely a month ago we were up to our necks in unanswered questions and trying our best not fall too deep into the well of speculation, but now, with November on the horizon, we are buoyant with more of the news you need to know!


Sousuke and Makoto have come a long way from high school when they scarcely spared the other a thought. We watched as they became friends, close friends, roommates, and then really close friends. Now we’re at a point where things seem to be graduating to yet another level. Recently, one of the suspicions we had was confirmed and with that, we came to the conclusion that they are officially a couple. But before we get to it, let’s go back a bit so we can share with you how we stitched together our patchwork theory.

We’ve shared a lot of things with you guys over the last three years, and while it all comes together to support our theory, things only really kicked into high gear a few months ago, more specifically, Golden Week. And we think it started with Sousuke.

It was interesting to us that Gou seemed to make a point of pairing Sousuke and Haru during their beach excursion. We believe Sousuke asked for her help to talk to Haru one-on-one. Although he did before, it wasn’t the kind of situation that laid the groundwork for future casual conversations and when they hung out during university, it was more of a situation where they were hanging out with Makoto and the other just happened to be there. And though it still sounds a little strange, we’re going to go with our intern and say that Sousuke was asking Haru for Makoto’s hand, or at least asking him to not get in the way.

Moving on. Do you guys remember when we told you that Sousuke and Makoto were seen chatting away from the group during one of their Golden Week karaoke sessions? Well, after both Haru and Makoto had their talks with Sousuke that night, Haru switched from staring down Sousuke–though the kind of stare changed or became less intense after they were seen talking at the onsen–to staring down Makoto as if he was waiting for something to happen. We believe that Sousuke might have told haru that he was going to confess to Makoto at that time, and Haru was waiting to see Makoto’s reaction or maybe an announcement. As far as we know, nothing happened, so it may not have gone over too well between them and that’s possibly why Sousuke stayed with Rin after they left the karaoke shop that night. And if Sousuke didn’t confess during their break at the karaoke shop, we are almost certain it happened at some point earlier in the day.

Now we’re up to the kiss. We still think it’s amazing that it happened, but we can’t linger too long on the thought, lest we get derailed. If we continue following our line of reasoning, at that time, if for some reason, Makoto turned him down, Sousuke’s “please think about it” could have been him asking Makoto to reconsider. They disappeared for two hours later that night and we still know nothing about it, but from there, everything seemed fine, though still up in the air. If we jump to the next morning, we have them discussing something that was “out of the question” and then about what could be accomplished “within the next five months.” And that brings us to the present. We’ve arrived at the end of that five months and are looking back on another flurry of activity. Makoto learning to drive, Makoto going away for six days, and a listing for what could have been a position at Iwatobi Swim Club.

Though we say learning to drive with some measure of certainty, we don’t have absolute proof, but what else could it have been? And about the six days, it was a week early, but we believe Makoto went to Niijima to celebrate Sousuke’s birthday and maybe take care of some business like, looking for a job or attending an interview. And we were lead to this because, yes, the Hello Work listing was for Iwatobi Swim Club. And guess who just finished training his replacement? If you guessed Makoto, you were absolutely correct! So why does he need a replacement? Because he’s resigning, of course! It would be really difficult to commute to work form Niijima which where he’s moving to. Or, we’re at least 99.9% sure that’s the case.

This is one of the few times agreement to the speculated scenario is unanimous amongst The Gossip staff. Makoto’s still residing in Iwatobi and we haven’t seen anyone dragging any boxes into the house, but the guy that had been shadowing him for the last month stopped wearing the “In Training” lanyard a week ago and now that the swim club is closed for the season, so we’re sure the day of relocation draws nigh.

Usually, this is the process we go through before reporting the news to you, but with such a hefty claim, we couldn’t just roll up and say, “SouMako is official” and roll out like it was nothing. So the staff agreed that we’d lay it out for everyone, so that hopefully you guys would come to the same conclusion and we could all celebrate such a beautiful union when the time came.

So, with that, we’ll leave you all to mull over what we’ve laid on the table and do with it what you will. As for our next encounter, let’s all hope for an official announcement and, of course, more of the news you want to know!

Issue No.16

SOUND THE ALARM!!!! THIS IS NOT A DRILL! WE REPEAT: THIS IS NOT A DRILL! DO NOT REMAIN CALM. DO NOT EXIT THE BUILDING IN SINGLE FILE. MAKE A RUCKUS AND DANCE IN THE AISLES!!


No doubt you guys can guess what we’re going to talk about this go-round, but please allow us the satisfaction of delivering the news anyway.

But just a minor detour before we get into it. These have been all over the news (depending on your preferred news outlets), so it’s not as if you guys don’t know, however, we would be remiss if we did not pay our respects. First, congratulations to Nitori Aiichirou on his win at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. His short, Single Sex–a film about a group of friends and housemates who have chosen to remain single and abstinent and what happens when two of them are caught in a compromising position–took home the Short Film Special Distinction as well as offers to fund a feature-length production. We’ll continue to be on the lookout for great things from him. And our second round of applause goes to Matsuoka Rin who medalled Gold in the 100m Freestyle and Silver in the 200m Breaststroke! Makoto, Haru, Gou, Goro-san, Momo, Ai, and Seijurou were all in attendance for our favorite Olympian’s most recent crowning achievement.

OK, now, what we’ve all been waiting for. Yes, friends, it is official! Yamazaki Sousuke and Tachibana Makoto are officially a couple! It was just a little over a week ago that we started our relocation watch and now it’s here! Or rather, was here. Sousuke arrived in Iwatobi on Friday–six days ago–and stayed with the Tachibanas, of course. On Saturday, he and Ren were seen receiving the boxes the moving company delivered. On Sunday he and Makoto were spotted exiting a movie theater and later at Mango Buzoku sampling ramen prepared with a Jamaican twist. While Makoto was seen wiping something off of Sousuke’s chin with his thumb lingering just below his bottom lip for longer than publicly appropriate, Sousuke was caught licking the corner of Makoto’s mouth! It’s official, alright. Monday saw the arrival of the packing crate and Sousuke, Ren, and their dad packing the crate. Makoto and Haru were most likely inside packing the boxes as they were nowhere to be seen after Haru arrived that morning. On Tuesday afternoon, the moving company collected the crate. Afterwards, Sousuke, Haru and Makoto went to the market and came back with enough for a feast. That evening, everyone–the Tachibanas plus Sousuke and Haru–gathered at the house for a farewell dinner.

Late morning yesterday, The Tachibanas rented a van just to drive the boys to Tottori Airport and see them off. Hugs all around. Their flight to Tokyo Haneda Airport boarded about 90 minutes later. It was part of a layover for Sousuke and Makoto, but Haru just hopped a train and made his way home in no time. However, our source–a long time follower of the boys–said, before he left, she witnessed one of the most beautiful things she’s ever seen: Haru hugging Makoto. She said both Makoto and Sousuke were shocked, though Sousuke also looked like he’d gone pale, but after his shock died down, Makoto returned the embrace. But what we were told happened next was probably the most unexpected thing anyone’s ever seen: Haru hugging Sousuke. Apparently he was a bit teary-eyed when he, still hugging Sousuke, looked up at him and said, quite loudly, that if he made Makoto cry he would personally see to his death. Somehow, that seems about right. Though Sousuke didn’t return the embrace, he patted him on his head–which Haru swatted–while promising to never give him cause to consider it. It’s a miracle that someone finally heard an exchange between these two. They saw Haru off and hopped their bus and then train to Chōfu Airport to wait out the remainder of their layover. From there they would have flown straight to Niijima Airport and then a short trip home!

It’s really real, guys! This is both a happy and sad day for us. With both of them on the island, they’ll be able live their happy, lovey dovey lives and we’ll be so happy for them. However, with both of them on the island, our ability to update you guys on the goings on will suffer greatly. The Gossip has been reporting on everyone’s favorite swimmers for than three years and change, now. This column started out as an answer to our readers’ desires to catch up with the Iwatobi and Samezuka alum. Though we kept tabs on everyone, before we knew it, you guys were pushing us to focus more on an unlikely friendship that has matured into this beautiful union we announced today. It feels like the kids we raised are now going off into the world to live their lives and now all we can do is hope that they’ll write home every once in a while to let us know how they’re doing.

We know that there are others to report on, but it feels like we’ve done what we came to do and now it’s time to pass the baton on to someone else. It breaks our hearts to acknowledge this, but from here on out, the frequency of our updates will probably drop to about once a year. But don’t fret, we’ll be sending a crew on a yearly pilgrimage to Niijima or wherever Sousuke and Makoto may find themselves in the future and we’ll be sure to bring back bushels and bounties of more of the news you want to know!

So, until next we meet, please join us in congratulating Sousuke and Makoto on the start of a wonderful life together!

Issue No.17

Hello, All! It’s been a while. We’d like to welcome everyone to the first official SouMako yearly report! Get ready for a year’s worth of the news you want to know!


November/December – Makoto settled into Niijima life. It seems he was missed by the locals, especially the children. He began his regular teaching duties after a few weeks of shadowing his predecessor; that was just before the holiday break. During the holiday, Makoto’s family came to visit.

January/February – Makoto resumed his surfing training. At the beginning of February, Ai and Seijurou came for a visit and joined in training. Well, it seems that Seijurou was already well-acquainted with the waves and brought his own board, so it was really just Makoto and Ai in novice mode.

March/April – Ai and Seijurou left for Okinawa to start working on a new documentary at the end of March. For the whole month of April, Makoto was by his lonesome because Sousuke was in Tokyo for a conference and advanced training.

May/June – Sousuke returned and as competition season was fast approaching he was gearing up for his official debut. Sousuke has been letting his hair grow since last year–he’s often seen with a messy bun–but now it seems that Makoto has decided to let his grow as well. In mid June, Makoto kissed Sousuke on a heavily populated beach! Apparently the kiss was so passionate that Sousuke fell to his knees. Cheers from the crowd followed.

July/August – At the beginning of July Sousuke had a goatee and Makoto was sporting an enduring 7 o’clock shadow. The competitions were in full swing by mid August. Sousuke came in 5th, 4th, and 4th for the first three he entered. It seems that’s a pretty good debut for someone who had been through all that he has.

September/October – Perhaps his earlier placing was due to debut jitters, because by the end of the season, Sousuke had taken the grand prize in 3 competitions and came in 2nd and 3rd in two others. Ai, Seijurou, and Rin were there for the last five and stayed about 2 weeks in total. Makoto and Rin appeared to be getting along quite well. During the one week competition weather delay in September, Makoto visited Haru who was now out of the dorms and into his own place in preparation for his transfer to Four Seasons Singapore.

Can you guys believe that it’s already been a year since our favorite boys that are friends became boyfriends?! Thankfully they seem to be doing pretty well.

In just a few months, The Gossip will have been reporting on these charming swimmers for five years! This is also hard to believe. To celebrate, we’re working on something we know you’ll enjoy, so let’s all hope that we can make it happen. Until then, please be on the lookout for updates on our progress and, of course, more of the news you want to know!

Announcement

Greetings, dear readers, we can barely hold our excitement! We have an announcement and a request for your participation.

As you may know, The Gossip has been bringing you the latest dish on everyone’s favorite swimmers for a few years, nearly five to be a little more exact. Well, in celebration of our of our fifth year we’ve requested and have been granted an interview with our two most favorite swimmers, Yamazaki Sousuke and Tachibana Makoto!

Yes, it’s true! We have been invited to Niijima for a tour of their home and an interview. When we approached them about it, we were surprised to find out that not only do they know of our little cheering section, but they’ve also read a few issues! Can we talk about awkward? It seems that Ran (✿╹◡╹)ノ☆.。₀:*゚✲゚*:₀。 counts herself as one of our readers and has recently clued her brother and Sousuke in on what we’ve been up to. It may very well be thanks to her that we’ve been blessed with this opportunity. \(´▽`*)(*´▽`)/

So, here’s where you guys come in. You’ve been with us all along, so we want to make sure that this interview is just as good for you as it is for us. Starting today we’ll be accepting questions from everyone to be asked during the interview. When submitting your questions, please indicate who the question is for (Sousuke, Makoto, or both). Also, In preparation for the interview, they’ll be presented with a media package containing all of our reports up to that point. They’ve informed us that they’re willing to answer pretty much anything except for questions about their sex life, so please respect that.

Now’s your chance to get the truth from their very mouths! Questions can be submitted HERE.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to work hard to bring you more of the news you want to know!

Preview

The wait is almost over!


We’ve put the finishing touches on the transcribed interview and we’ll be bringing it to you in four parts. Our entire staff wanted to go, but the budget only allowed for three, so it was just our EIC, our head photographer, and myself. There were some peculiarities to the agreement between The Gossip and the Yamazaki-Tachibana household, but ultimately nothing unreasonable.

First, when we arrived on Niijima, Makoto was there to greet us. Our ride to their home was very much like an international spy trade. We agreed to be kept in the dark in regards to the route there and that turned out to be quite literal. The van we rode in had blacked-out windows and a blacked-out divider between the driver and front passenger seats and the rear passenger seats and it had a very small skylight. We drove for 10 or 15 minutes and were quite disoriented when we were fully in the light of day again. Second, due to a very confusing clause in Makoto’s contract with the school he works for, we were not able to take pictures of him and so Sousuke opted out as well. And finally, due to a last minute schedule conflict, our interview date was moved up, so the renovations that were supposed to be complete by the initial date were just barely completed by the rescheduled date. They apologized for the state of the place, but honestly, it was lovely and not what any of us pictured when we considered their personal styles. Here’s a sneak peak of the Yamazaki-Tachibana home.

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This is the front entrance. You should see the wallpaper up close! It’s so pretty!

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This is the living room where they spend most of their time. It’s a divided household! Makoto’s completely into to the whole Apple ecosystem and Sousuke said he was used to the Windows environment, but prefers Android for mobile. And! Taking a stroll around the coffee table, one of the newest members of the family is Rakim! More about that name in the full interview.

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This, of course, is the master bedroom. Pillows, courtesy of Nagisa!

That’s all we’ve got for you this time around. Until next time, please take care while we endeavor to bring you more of the news you want to know!

The Interview Pt. 1

Today is the day! The Gossip is pleased as punch to present Part 1 of the long-awaited SouMako interview! In this installment we make our greetings and kick off the home tour. So, prepare your tea, grab a snack, kick back, and enjoy the show!


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[Here we have the front entrance and genkan.]

The Gossip: So pretty!

Tachibana Makoto-san: Oh, the wallpaper, right?

Yes, yes!

He gave me a choice of seven and I picked this one, but I don’t think the cats like it.

Eh?

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They used to try to come in here all the time, but since this was redone, they stop right at the door.

Awww…

I’m home!

Rakim: Meow.

Hey, Rakim, where’s daddy?

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[We were greeted by Rakim.]

Yamazaki Sousuke-san: Welcome back. Ah, please, come in, but excuse the state of the place.

Sorry for the intrusion.

How was your trip?

A little scary at first, but Tachibana-san kept talking to us during the ride so we, or at least I, felt a bit more at ease.

Sorry about that, but thank you for enduring.

 No, thank you for the opportunity.

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[The genkan from the inside.]

So, what would you like to do first? We can do the tour now, if you like?

Sure, let’s give him a minute to get set up. [We were waiting for our photographer.]


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So, this is the living room; we spend most of our time here, except on Sundays; we both have off, so we like to sleep in.

No, you like to sleep in and won’t let me get out of bed before you.

Do you have trouble getting up in the morning, Tachibana-san?

Not usually. [He looked at Sousuke for approval and received a nod of agreement in return.] But I’m up so early the rest of the week, it’s nice to not have to do that for a day.

Also, his schedule is pretty routine, but mine is so chaotic, so it’s the only day we’re guaranteed to wake up together.

You guys lived together when you were in university. Has anything changed about the way you live together now? For example, have you discovered any new habits?

Hmmn…? Other than the obvious change in our relationship, I don’t think much has changed. Sou?

This guy doesn’t like to wear clothes. That was new.

What are you saying?!

What? It’s true.

You’re making it sound like–

Alright, alright, so it’s not like he’s streaking or anything, but as soon as he gets home, he strips down to a t-shirt and boxers. I know he’s home when I see his clothes thrown over the back of the sofa. Or next to it if he doesn’t throw them far enough.

Tachibana-san, are you messy?

No, I just–

Yes, he is. Well, compared to how he was when we lived together before. You are. [He said this in response to a look Makoto gave him.]

Well, a little, maybe. But, moving on~ In here is the guest bathroom. This used to be the only bathroom. And it was small, well, smaller.

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Speaking of small, this place seems pretty roomy. Was it always like that or did your remodel include expansion? Do you guys like a lot of space or do you need it because you’re so… uh… big?

It was smaller, just the first two sections were part of the original structure. The master bedroom and bathroom were the additions. As for the space, both, maybe?

When we were in uni, he was very much against living in a large flat. We could have had a 20 tsubo place for the same price as a 12 or 13 one, but he just refused.

When you have all that space, people tend to congregate and I didn’t want that.

Is that why?

So what’s different now?

Yeah…?

Well, we own this place; it’s our home. It’s a different feeling than leasing. But also, or more importantly, we’re here, some ways away from most of the people who had the habit of congregating.

On the other hand, when we do have visitors, the space affords us a certain amount of privacy.

And back in uni, I just wanted it to be the two of us, so a smaller place would seem too crowded with even two more people. I wanted anyone visiting to get that feeling. But now the distance takes care of that.

Huh?! [He blushed!]

Yamazaki-san, you were interested in Tachibana-san as far back as then?

Ha! What’s all this “Yamazaki-san” and “Tachibana-san”? I read your column, you guys were pretty familiar with us in there, calling us by our names with no honorifics.

Please accept our apology. We’re sorry for being so rude.[We bowed.]

Oh, don’t mind it. Really, it’s just hilarious seeing you guys on your best behavior.

Stop teasing them. Really, it’s fine if you address us the same way, save the formalities for someone else.

Thank you! Uh… it’s very interesting hearing that come from you Tach– uh, Makoto; you’ve always seemed really polite in that manner.

 Sousuke’s rubbed off on me.

[I didn’t realize that Sousuke avoided my question at that time, but don’t worry, it comes up later.]

So what’s in here?

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This was the only bedroom, but it’s now the guest bedroom and office.

I think it will end up just being a room for the printer because we spend most of our time over there. [He pointed at the sofa.]

I see a pool~ Do you guys race each other?

Not really.

It’s more of a lap pool.

Old habits and all that.

You’ll get a better view of it when we go out back. Uh… where to next?

Laundry?

Alrighty, follow me.

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Hey baby, are you taking over the tour now?

Stealthy. I didn’t even see him run this way.

Oh, him. He’s a different one. This is Eric B., the other one, Rakim, is still in the living room.

Eric B. and Rakim? Oh, I get it! You guys like that group a lot?

You know them?

Uh, yes, but that’s a story for another time.

I guess the short answer is “yes.”

And the long one?

[Laughing quietly, but somewhat hysterically.]

I wanted a cat.

 Cats.

 Yes, cats. But Sousuke didn’t.

I don’t have anything against cats, but I wanted a dog.

So he said we could adopt some cats.

A cat.

OK, a cat as long as he gets to name it. Somehow we ended up with two and this is what he came up with.

How do you feel about them?

We are both fans of the duo, but I don’t think they would have been the first on my list to honor.

Tell them what you wanted to name them.

That’s not important. You guys don’t want to know that, right?

Well, it’s an interesting anecdote…

Go on. [He was standing behind Makoto with his hands on his shoulders and shook him a little.]

M-Milk and Cereal.

That’s cute!

And?

Oh, there’s more~?

Um… Left and Right. [He rolled his eyes and groaned after Sousuke nudged him.] Alright! Maiza and Avaro, Johan and Tenma, Light and Ryuk, and Mugen and Jin.

So many?!

Ma~, you left out my favorite pair.

That wasn’t …

Mako, come on.

Yes and No. [Mumbled.]

I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.

Yes and NO!

[Leaning against the wall, laughing hysterically.]

Wouldn’t that be confusing for um… training and discipline or just in general?

But look at them, they’re perfect angels, there’s no need for discipline.

[Still laughing.]

Sou, be quiet. It’s not that funny. [He was more red than not.]

I beg to differ. Although they’re trying to hide it, even those guys are cracking up. [He gestured toward our EIC and photographer.]

Well, those aren’t their names, so we’ll never know, will we? [He said this with his arms folded across his chest and a bit of a pout.]

Yamazaki-san– [He gave me a look.] Sousuke-san–

Wait, why does he get a -san, but I don’t? It’s his stupid face, right?

Hey!

Well, he’s kind of intimidating. Sorry, it just came out naturally.

 This guy? Intimidating? No way! [He proceeded to play with Sousuke’s face like it was play-doh.] No, no -san for him either.

We’re sorry. S-Sousuke, back to the names, were there any that you actually liked?

Yeah. Some of his choices were rather droll, but Mugen and Jin were good.

So why not go with those?

No.

…Uh… okay….

 Anyway… As you can see, there isn’t much in here.

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We really just moved back in about two days ago, so there isn’t much to see. Sorry about that.

Oh, no! We appreciate the invitation. The place is really nice and stylish. We didn’t know what to expect, but this is really nice.

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They look exactly alike. How do you tell them apart?

Rakim’s head is a little bit rounder and Eric B. has more white on his belly.

Also, Rakim loves Sousuke and Eric B. is kind of indifferent towards him.

Yeah, he’s Makoto’s cat, but as long I feed him he has no problem with me.

Where would you like to go? There’s the bedroom, the kitchen, and out back.

Well, how about we save the bedroom for last?

 That’s fine; we can enter in from the patio.


Well, that concludes Part 1; we hope you enjoyed it! Next time we’ll be in the kitchen talking about who spends the most time there and in the yard and pool area where we learn how the renovation came about. Please look forward to that and, of course, more of the news you want to know!

The Interview Pt. 2

Welcome back! Thanks so much for joining us for Part 2 of our SouMako interview. This time we’ll see the kitchen, the backyard, the pool, and the master suite! So, settle in and enjoy the show!


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n2-18

This is the kitchen. As you can see, there’s nothing in here either. I want to install more cabinets because it looks weird with nothing over the fridge, I think. Also, Mako still has to install the cornice over the sink and add lighting.

Now’s probably a good time to ask one of our reader-submitted questions. creatingmyowndream wants to know, “who’s the cook and is their cooking good? And if both cook, who’s better?”

[He looked at me like he was embarrassed, but then he started laughing, blushing all the while.]

Mako only bakes bread. He called himself cooking when we were in uni. It always looked good, but, for some reason, the taste…

It’s true. [Still blushing.]

Then, you cook?

Yeah. This is my domain.

His butajiru is the best!

He told me that I’m not allowed to get sick because he’ll starve.

And I nearly did when he was away for a month last April.

Don’t even… Those aunties from the senior center sent you home with more food than you could possibly eat on a daily basis.

Is it really that bad? Not even miso?

Haru said I should stop at just adding water. It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess. [He looked really sad when he said this.]

Alright, enough of that. If we go through that door we’ll be out back. It’s more of nothing.

[Right as we were exiting, Sousuke pulled Makoto back in a loose headlock and whispered something in his ear. We couldn’t hear the words, but the tone made it sound like he was consoling him. Whatever it was, Makoto grinned and blushed in response.]

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Another fireplace? Do you guys chop your own wood?

No. We can’t, actually. There’s a village conservation ordinance that prohibits it, so we get it delivered. It’s considered a utility service on our energy bill.

That must be nice.

It’s convenient, for sure.

I remember seeing bikes around the front, but both of you drive as well?

Yeah, not often, though. If we have to lug a lot of gear somewhere or the weather is bad, we’ll drive, but two wheels are much better than four when it comes to day to day stuff.

So, now that we’re out here, I guess we’ll be seeing the pool soon?

Right around that corner, you’ll be able see one end of it.

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Wow! This must be an amazing view from the bedroom.

This has a much better view of the sunset than the original bedroom.

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It’s so long~

It runs the length of the property. Oh, be careful, we get random gusts of wind up here; you could be splashed at any moment.

Oh, thank you! What’s on the other side?

You can see into the guest bedroom and up to the front drive. We usually walk along this side, but I’d rather not risk any of you getting hurt, so we can walk around from the other side or we can check it out after you see the bedroom.


[We considered splitting up and having Sousuke continue the tour while Makoto escorted our photographer around the other side, but the cutest thing happened. Makoto laced his fingers through Sousuke’s as if to say he didn’t want to be separated it. Sousuke pulled their hands behind them, so from the front it just looked like they were standing close to each other. It happened so quickly that we questioned if we saw it. But we are sure we did. Needless to say, we all went around to the other side before making our way to the bedroom.]

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I noticed this when we first arrived, but your grass is really green. How do you maintain it?

Thank you. Mako laid the sod out about a month ago, so this maybe only the third or fourth time we’ve been on the lawn, so we haven’t done much yet.

It seems like you did a lot of the work yourselves? Was that to save money or is this kind of thing like a hobby?

If it didn’t need to be done, I don’t think either of us would have chosen to do it. But it’s not like we hated it, right Sou?

Yeah. It was definitely to save money, but it’s also nice to be able to say that you built your home.

How did you guys learn how to do all of this stuff?

Youtube.

And we got a lot of help from Ai and Seijurou-san.

And Chickadee has been helping us out, too.

Chickadee?

That’s Sou’s nickname for Nagisa. He’s been back and forth between here and home since he came back from Canada.

How cute! So, how did all this come about? Was this a recent idea or were you guys planning this for awhile?

Sousuke was invested quite sometime before I was. I’ve only been here for a year and a half.

I was already saving to buy a house since I graduated from uni. Then, when I was given this place, I started thinking about what my future was really going to be like.

Someone gave this place to you?!

…Technically, I bought the place for ¥100. Not too long after I got here, there was an old man that started hanging around the clinic and entertaining the kids while their parents were being seen. Sometimes he would sweep and water the front, but he usually just sat in the garden. He was originally from the southern islands, so not many people here understand his dialect. One day I just started having lunch with him and we became friends, I guess. A few months before Mako moved here, his son was visiting and we got to have a conversation for the first time.

Wow!

Yeah, we talked for a while and then his son said that his father wanted to give his house to me since he was moving.

Just like that?

There was paperwork and stuff, but basically. Although I told him that I couldn’t just take it, so after much guilt-tripping from his end, we settled on ¥100.

Did you ever meet him?

I did; the first time I visited Sousuke. He actually gave me a tour of some parts of the island that Sou didn’t. I felt like I learned a lot even though we couldn’t communicate directly much of the time.

How did you communicate?

Well, some pointing and lots of facial expression, but he understood Kanto-ben to a degree, so it kind of worked itself out.

I just met him somewhere in the middle.

That’s like out of some late night drama.

Yeah, it’s cool. I don’t know why he picked me, but it’s pretty awesome that he did. He was a really nice guy. Also, all the money we saved on buying or building allowed us to do stuff like the pool and things on our future list.

We also saved money by not bulldozing and just renovating and expanding. Oh, the wind is picking up. Are you guys ready to go in?

Oh, sure!


So it’s down the same hall as the laundry room.

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And this is the bedroom. The only room that’s really finished, or rooms I should say, are the guest bedroom and the bathrooms.

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There isn’t much to do here but the closet.

And we might paint again.

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I can’t resist! Who chose the pillows?

They were a gift from Chickadee.

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When he comes back, he’s going to hang the double rung clothes bar off the beam in the there. [He pointed in the direction of the closet.]

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Oh, someone beat us here~

He needs to get his kicks now, because once we unpack, they won’t be allowed in there.

I know. I know. Daddy’s mean, isn’t he? But Daddy’s word is law~ [He said this after Rakim came over to be picked up.]

There you go again, trying to make me the bad guy.

[We don’t know what it meant, but they just exchanged a few looks and then Makoto started to blush!]

And now we’ve arrived at the last stop on the tour.

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So whose favorite color is yellow? It seems like the signature color.

No one’s. My favorite color is black and Mako doesn’t have one. I just wanted a good color that I could live with and yellow seemed about right. But I couldn’t do it unless he was okay with it.

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He came to me one day with a box full of fabric swatches and material samples in various yellows and asked if I could live with it.

n2-33

Did you have any other colors in mind?

That’s usually the last thing I think about. I wouldn’t have cared either way, but he doesn’t like that. He won’t let me get away with not making a decision. But that’s just because he doesn’t understand how hard it is to make a decision sometimes. Sou’s quite resolute.

You generally see things in black and white?

For some things, yes, but I’m flexible. As for not letting him slide on stuff like that, I know what it’s like to let other people dictate your choices and have their intentions settle things for you, but once they are no longer there, you’ll be in trouble if you can’t come to your own conclusions. He had his reasons in the past, but I still don’t think it’s a good way to be, so I tried to help him break that habit.

How were you guys able to come to decisions on the rest of the place. As we walked through, I kept thinking that the style choices weren’t anything like what we assumed when we thought of your personal styles.

Ha! I don’t think I could live in a place covered in denim and leather everywhere you turn. And, sneakers don’t translate well into interior decor. Also, Mako has no style. Unless you count his wardrobe full of plaid shirts.

No style? But he’s so fashionable!

Well, that’s thanks to me, these days, at least.

I wouldn’t say I have no style, but I’m not good at making those kinds of choices.

And the rest of the house?

Somethings were chosen for cost and availability first and then style. Sousuke had a pretty good idea what he wanted, but didn’t want everything to be his decision. So he would present to me seven options. Sometimes five, but usually seven. And we usually ended up going with whatever my choice was.

But he did make a few of the style choices without me prompting him.

Like…?

I chose the painting above the bed, the coffee table set, and the hanging lamps in the living room.

Oh, I really like those lamps!

I was surprised about that choice. See, he’s good at other stuff. He’s the one that decided from where we should expand and he drew a rough sketch of the plans. He chose all of the appliances and checked out their energy consumption and all that. And he chose all of the new exterior materials, his focus was functionality, but it worked out. He’s good with the utilitarian stuff, I guess.

I guess we should head back to the living room for the remainder? How about some tea?

So you can make tea?

Well, yes, that I can do, but right now I’m just offering, Sou’s going to make it.


And that brings us to the end of the home tour and the end of the second installment. They were so cute! Looks like their personalities have rubbed off on each other. It was good to hear that they still had close relationships with their old friends.

In our next and final installment, we’ll be sitting down and getting up close and personal with the guys. We’ll be talking to them about their relationship, about their days on Free! and how it felt to grow up in front of an audience, about how different their lives are than where they thought they would be, and about what’s in store for the future. So be sure to check us out next time when we’ll be bringing you more of the news you want to know!

The Interview Pt. 3

Welcome to Part 3! Since we couldn’t take pictures of them, we wanted to give you guys as much of a feeling of being there as possible, so I tried to take as many notes as I could about their physical behavior, so you’ll see a lot more interjections in this and the 2nd half of our final installment. So settle in for the ride!


sit-down-interview-01

[Here’s a shot to get an idea where everyone was sitting when we started. Our photographer was kitty-sitting in the guest room.]

Thank you for having us; your home is lovely. We wish you guys the best in bringing the remainder of your plans to fruition.

Thank you.

Now, let’s get up close and personal, shall we?

Go for it.

Free! was on air when you guys were bringing your primary education careers to a close. It’s a time when most people are trying to make decisions about the person they want to become and the paths they want to take. How was it going through that in front of an audience? And how was that different from when the first series, High Speed, was filming?

W–

Go ahead.

You sure?

[He nodded.]

OK. Well, I only returned during the last season, and before I signed the release forms and other paperwork, the producers sat me down and told me how the show worked. When we were younger, it seemed more like an ongoing photo shoot.

[He nodded in agreement.]

We played a lot and had fun, but we were kids, so there wasn’t much you could expect out of it. But they told me that Free! was different.

It was a reality show, but we all know most of them are scripted, right?

Yeah, but that’s why I was sat down. The producers told me that they made the decision early on to be as hands off as possible. When we were younger, being involved made it easier for them to protect us, but as we neared adulthood, they didn’t want to interfere with us, they just wanted to watch us.

Speaking of watching, AnonymousReader#7 asked “did you guys watch the show?”

We weren’t allowed to watch it while we were filming. I did manage to watch both seasons right before I left for Soudai.

I saw some of the first season before I returned, but I didn’t watch the second season until my second year at uni, I think.

Why wait so long?

A lot of things happened back then, painful things, so I really wanted to distance myself from all it. Especially during the days before I decided to have surgery.

So what changed?

[He looked at Makoto as if asking for permission and Makoto nodded.]

You know that Mako went through a bad spell with Nanase, right? So, I was trying to be there for him, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand their relationship, so there was only so much I could do for him. And it wasn’t like I could talk to anyone about it, so I thought that the show might give me some insight.

Did it help?

It did, but it also made me realize that even though we’d become friends, I didn’t really understand him. Or maybe I should say that I didn’t understand why he was the way he was.

Even though you knew him in high school?

Sou wasn’t very fond of me when we were in high school.

No retort?

Well, it’s true.

Everyone loved Mako-chan! How could you not?!

I was young and stupid?

So how did you guys become friends? We know you met again at university. Was it a coincidence? Did you know you were attending the same university?

Hmm… sort of? It wasn’t until I watched the show that I found out about Sousuke and Haru’s confrontation. I wasn’t sure if I should talk to Haru about it and by the time Rin told me Sousuke was going to be attending Soudai and asked if I could keep an eye on him, I still hadn’t. It was the same when I finally ran into Sousuke, so I wasn’t sure how to approach him.

But you did, right?

Well, when we ran into each other, I was leaving an appointment with our advisor and he was waiting for his. I saw him, but I left without saying anything.

I can’t imagine it.

I can. When I saw him, I was already having a bad day and the last thing I wanted was to talk to anyone from Iwatobi. I would have bet any amount of money that he was going to smile at me. And I really hated his smile. But he didn’t. He didn’t even acknowledge me. I looked him straight in the eyes and he looked right through me!

Is that true?!

[He hid his face in his hands and nodded.]

If both of you were against it, how did you even make it to this point?!

Blame him.

What happened?

After I left, I started feeling guilty for not doing what Rin asked me to… so I went back.

And…?

I approached him, but he was kind of mean to me. [He finally came from behind his hands.]

How could you?!

I told you, I was young and stupid. But I was cured of that real quick.

How so?

He smiled at me.

[Our EIC started cracking up.]

Didn’t you say you hated his smile?

I thought I did, but the one he got me with that day was nothing like what I saw before. And then, everyday after that, he was just a pest! Always showing up at my class to escort me to lunch, making sure I was eating properly, threatening to tell Rin. And, then, after a few weeks he just stopped. The first week I was relieved, well, I pretended to be, but then I started to worry. Since we had the same advisor, I asked him and he told me that he was sick. I decided to check on him and then I ended up taking care of him until he recovered.

And it was during that time that you fell in love with him?

Uh… no. I was drawn to him, maybe, but love took a while.

And you? When did you fall in love with him?

Hm. I think I noticed it in the middle of my last term at uni.

Did you have an epiphany?

Ha! No, nothing like that. It was around the time Haru returned from Australia. I had gotten so accustomed to being with Sou all the time that when he started to drift I realized that I missed him. Even when we were in the same room, I still felt like I missed him a lot.

[It was just a hint of pink, but he was definitely blushing behind the pillow he was holding onto and Sousuke looked completely surprised by every word.]

But then, not too long after, there was a very unexpected incident. I somehow ended up being a messenger for a woman who wanted to confess to him. I remember when I was handing the letter to him, I didn’t want to let it go and I really didn’t want him to read it.

[Even though he was laughing a bit and had little laugh crinkles at the corner of his eyes, his eyes looked really sad as if he was right back at that moment.]

And your moment?

Mine? It probably happened before this, but the moment I knew was when we were looking for a new flat and he peeked out of one of the rooms to call me and the look on his face… Something about that look… I just wanted him to look at me like that some more. Like, for the rest of my life.

Such a simple thing.

Yeah, but it hit me like a ton of bricks.

[He was in full crimson.]

Your realizations were roughly around the same time. Why did it take so long for you guys to get together?

Stuff.

Haha, yeah, I guess that sums it up.

[They looked at each other for about a minute and then Makoto started.]

I guess, at first I thought that he might have noticed my feelings before I did and that’s why he was drifting away, but before I could figure it out one way or the other, I was graduating and had to start studying for my certifications in Tokyo and Tottori. I was too busy to think too deeply about it and then before I knew it, I was back home.

Did you want to confess?

Not really…? But, maybe if I was guaranteed an affirmative answer…?

Not even a little bit?

Well, aside from everything else that was going on, I thought that he probably wouldn’t be interested in me that way. I’m not anything like Rin. And one of the things I understood about Sousuke was that, even though you really couldn’t call him predictable, he was kind of set in his ways, so I just assumed that would include the type of person he was attracted to. Then, there was also the fact that I kind of pushed him into living together–I think I would die if he thought I was creepy on top of everything else.

Sousuke, your jaw has been dropped for a while now, is this news to you?

Uh, kind of, since we’ve never really talked about those days. Ma, I didn’t feel pushed at all.

Really? Well, that makes me happy. [He finally came from behind the pillow.]

And you?

I recall that when I realized it, I thought about backing out of the impending living situation, but I could never bring myself to say it with conviction because I was afraid to hurt his feelings.

Sou…

Once we started living together, I was worried that he would be uncomfortable if he ever found out. I could’ve dealt with it if it ever came out, but I knew he would be very Makoto and try not to say anything. If he didn’t see me that way, he’d try to keep the situation from becoming awkward. I didn’t want to put him in that position. Then Nanase came back and he was acting different towards Makoto. I thought there might be a chance that they would actually get together, so I decided to create some distance. But I still ended up hurting his feelings. [He had the saddest face!]

Did you want to confess to him.

Yeah. I almost did a few times.

Huh… w-when was that?!

Ma…

Sou…

Maaa…

Sou.

[That very cute exchange ended with Sousuke hanging his head in defeat.]

The first two times was our birthdays that year. Then, maybe every morning after the nights Nanase stayed over?

Sou…

How did you bear it?

It was hard, so I kept drifting and got what little peace I could when he was helping me with my therapy. Don’t give me that look; I admit that I was a coward, but I also didn’t want to interfere with you getting something you really wanted.

Sou…

Now that you that you know, do you feel like a lot of time was wasted?

Maybe?

Why do you think so?

Hmm… I guess it’s more of a yes and no kind of thing? I’ll say “yes” because I could have saved myself from lot of worry back then. Even after we started hanging out again, I was always going back and forth about my motives and wondering if I was tricking you or–

HA!

Wh-What are you laughing at?

Sorry, but Mako, you’re… your motives… you don’t work like that.

Are you saying that he’s innocent?

No, no, no, no, no. Not by a longshot. He’s definitely not evil or anything, I mean, he can’t even insult people properly. And even when he’s upset, everything comes from a place of him trying to understand the other person. But, he is observant, so he knows how to push people’s buttons when he wants to, however, there’s never any malice in it.

What about your motives during those days?

Before I get to that, I think Mako’s reason for not feeling like time was wasted and mine are probably the same. I think that even though we could have been together earlier, our relationship benefited from all the stuff we went through in the meantime.

I agree. For me, one of the things I was able to deal with on my own was the knowledge that Sousuke used to date one of my friends and that I was nothing like him. I feel like it was better that I came to terms with that without reassurance from him. I was able to reach a point where I thought, “I’m me and I can never be Rin and if that is the type of person Sousuke likes, then I’ll be content with just being friends.” It was a weird moment, kind of scary being satisfied with the idea of never being with him, but it was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

By comparison, this probably sounds arrogant, but I didn’t care about his type or whatever, I was just worried about whether or not he was still in love with Nanase. I am absolutely against competing for affection. No one wins. I knew he wasn’t the kind of person that would go into a relationship halfhearted, but I really couldn’t tell where they stood and I thought it would be weird to ask, you know? And, I can tell now, but back then, it was difficult to gauge how he felt about most people. He’s a really giving person–he gives of himself equally–so if he thought I was special in some way, I would have never known it.

What do you guys think about each other’s reasons?

You go.

Hmm. I understand his point about Haru. I probably would have never even gotten as far as to worry about his type if I thought he still had feelings for Rin.

Were you over Haru?

It didn’t happen in an instant, but after Sou helped me realize that it didn’t have to mean the end of my friendship, I was able to evaluate my situation with a clearer head. I guess, at a certain point, once you, well, once I understood that he didn’t have the capacity to reciprocate my feelings, it was difficult for me to remain in love with him. I started to understand that while you can fall in love on your own, in order for it be sustained, the love needs to be fed and not by just anything–it needs a similar feeling coming from the opposite direction.

Sounds like you really thought about it. And this was how you moved on?

Ultimately, I suppose, but, I was always more concerned about making sure that my relationship with Haru was good–I never thought about being in love with anyone else until it happened.

[Sousuke pulled Makoto back toward him and kissed the top of his head. Then they had a private conversation speaking only with their eyes. For a while we had been getting in their business, but that was the first moment we actually felt like we were being intrusive… just by witnessing it. But they didn’t seem to mind.]

How about you?

I think I considered that he was friends with Rin for half a second, wondering if it would bother him. I could understand if it did, but if it did, I hoped that if he felt something for me that it would be greater than his apprehension. I don’t have a type, so it was never about that and I never compared him to Rin. Besides, even before our relationship, my friendship with Mako was better, no, healthier than the one I had with Rin. Rin and I did bring out the best in each other in competition, but out of the water, we… sometimes the worst came out in me where he was concerned. It took a long time for me to see that. And even when I did, it still took a while for me to deal with it.

Both of you have been through a lot, yet you’re together now. Your fans, our readers, have been cheering for you guys since we first sensed a spark. Many of us believe that you made it official around Golden Week, in 2020, almost two years ago. So, how long has it really been and how did it happen?

I guess that’s about right.

But he didn’t give me a clear answer until right before he moved here!

Is that right?

I didn’t do it on purpose~

Mako can be absentminded at the strangest times.

I’m not the only on–

Shh, shh, shh, shh, shhhhh. That week, well, you guys wrote about it in your column, but we were with everyone at karaoke and this guy, this guy right here, confessed to me.

[Makoto was still leaning into Sousuke from just before. Sousuke covered Makoto’s face, and then Makoto moved Sousuke’s hands so he could breathe, but only off his nose. So, Sousuke was still covering his mouth, but, from this point on, everytime he talked, he’d just pull Sousuke’s fingers away a little and then let them go when he finished. It was too adorable, guys!]

Makoto confessed? But I thought he didn’t give you an answer until later.

It was “now or nev–” NNH!

[Sousuke pinched his nose.]

He didn’t. After he told me he was in love with me, he apologized and said that he hoped we could still be friends. And then he went back to the booth!

I was embarrassed!

It happened so fast; my head was spinning. If I had caught on quicker, I would have stopped him from going back. I was kind of mad because I wanted to confess first, but as it was, he did and then he left and when I got back, he gave me a look like he didn’t want to talk about it. I had to help Rin and his mom with something, so I didn’t go back with Mako that night. The next day was crazy. I was up to my neck in kids and I couldn’t get a minute alone.

He was Mr. Popular.

Hush. It wasn’t until after the event when we were cleaning up that I got to talk to him and exact my revenge!

Revenge?

He kissed me! [He mouthed this.]

Don’t act like you weren’t asking for it.

That’s too embarrassing, I’d never–

Never? Really? What happened on the beach, huh?

That was different!

[Forget pictures, I really wish we could have filmed this interview. This exchange happened as if they forgot we were here. No public veneer whatsoever. Mind you, Makoto was still leaning into Sousuke at that time. There were a few more of these moments throughout the remainder of the interview. I don’t know how we survived.]

Even so, I didn’t know then, but now I know, when you want a kiss, you– uh, actually, that’s no one’s business but my own~

No harm in a few secrets. So, what happened next?

I told him that the feeling was mutual.

We heard reports that you told him to “think about” something.

What did I ask you?

Hmm? “Think about something”? Oh, maybe when I, yeah, probably when I said that you were too far away.

Ah, yeah. He basically turned me down.

[All of us: loud gasps.]

I know!

[Makoto was burying his face in the back of the sofa. He had since slid down and was basically resting his head on Sousuke’s lap at this point.]

You’re awfully quiet, Makoto.

Don’t hide! What do you have to say for yourself?

Sorry…?

I know I’ve said this before, but you guys have encountered so many obstacles, it’s truly amazing that you managed to get together. Was that the final one?

Kind of. I immediately asked him to move to here, but he got a look like he wasn’t sure what he just got himself into, so that’s what I asked him to think about.

How did that go?

As I mentioned, it was a while before I got a real answer. On our way back to his place he told me that whether he stays or moves, that we have to talk to our parents. We talked to his parents before we went to the festival.

He was worried because he thought my parents would try to separate us.

You say it like I was being unreasonable.

You were sure your parents would accept it?

No. Not at all actually, but I didn’t want to lie to them, so it kind of didn’t matter, just as long as they knew the truth. They weren’t surprised either. That was awkward, but it was much better than the alternative. I still wasn’t sure about starting a relationship with him being so far away, but my dad said that being hesitant is natural, but that time only moves forward and will leave you behind if you waste too much of it.

So if you weren’t so far apart, you would have said “yes” immediately?

It wasn’t just the distance, though. I was very happy with what I was doing. It wasn’t my ultimate goal, more of a stepping stone, but it was something I wanted to do. Sou, on the other hand, was doing exactly what he wanted to do and, honestly, I had never seen him happier. So, closing the distance would have meant that one of us had to give up something very important to us.

[Sousuke excused himself at this point and headed for the kitchen.]

And the tipping point?

I didn’t tell Sousuke about those concerns right away. I told him that I had a job and if I moved with him, I wouldn’t. He said I didn’t need one and the conversation almost stopped right there. I know he didn’t mean to insinuate anything and I really believe he said it on impulse because what that implied went against his principles and a lot of the things he taught me, so I didn’t take it to heart, but I told him that even if he can support us, me moving there with no job in place was out of the question.

And this was all still during Golden Week?

Yeah. Sousuke said that I had time to look for one, but I was very nervous about the idea of saying “yes,” quitting my job, and then having nothing. When I talked to Goro-san about it later, he told me to go. The plan was for me to work there for two years to gain experience with instruction and facility management. He said he could feel me getting too settled.

And were you?

Hmm… I didn’t think so at the time, but probably. That happened a few months after Golden Week. And even once I decided to look for another job, I still didn’t give him an answer; I had to make sure I had a job. Niijima is small and has a settled population and infrastructure, so I didn’t think I’d actually find one, but I did! Once all deals were sealed I called Sou and we sealed our own deal.

You went away for a few days before you moved, where did you go?

Oh, I came here. Well, I was here for my final interview and Sou’s birthday.

Was there ever a chance that Sousuke would be the one to move?

Not really. I don’t think he was prepared to, well, I wasn’t either. I know it probably sounds a little unfair, but I was in a better position to uproot and I guess I had more of a reason, too.

So, all of this happened before you said “the words,” but Sousuke still felt like you hadn’t given him an answer?

I needed the words! I wanted to hear him say it! [He yelled this just before he came back to the living room. He returned with apple ginger tea, cashew crackers, and a creamy spread that tasted like carrots, cinnamon, honey, and brown sugar–amazing! The crackers were made by Makoto and the spread was made by Sousuke. When he returned, Makoto had taken over his spot, so Sousuke sat closer to me. He informed us that lunch would be ready soon.]

It seems like you went from friends to shacking up in a very short time. Did you ever think you were moving too fast?

Nope. / No.

I guess, in a way, we had our courtship already. Thinking back, we were very close, but we never crossed the line. Not like we ever had those awkward moments like you see on TV, but, and I think I speak for Mako, too… we just knew. He knew that I wasn’t just asking him out on a date. I mean, we had already been on so many. And I knew that he wouldn’t relocate his life–his whole life–just for “a relationship.”

I was hesitant about some things before I moved here, but it was never about us. I guess once I knew that he felt the same way, there was no reason to prolong what we had essentially been skirting around for years. Yeah… we just knew.

So how long after you made it official official did you break the news to your friends?

About us being more than friends, we told Rin and Nanase before they left after Golden Week. And everyone else found out whenever it was convenient, I guess.

How did they react?

Everyone was happy, I think. Nanase kinda knew already. I told him that I wanted to be with Mako and I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t try anything?

“Try anything”?

He may not have reciprocated Makoto’s feelings, but he’s definitely attached to him, so I just want to be clear about where we stood.

Was he receptive?

At first he was being his usual mute self, but I kept on him until he responded.

When did you tell your family?

It wasn’t quite the same reception with Sou’s family, but… one day.

[Sousuke had been relatively mum after we started talking about breaking the news and this was the first time Makoto jumped in and answered a question addressed directly to Sousuke. We took the hint and understood that that was territory to tread lightly upon.]

I know it doesn’t compare, but we’re always cheering for you guys.

Thank you.

So, if I’ve done my math right, it’s been a little over seven years since you guys were reacquainted at Waseda University; a little over four years since you first became roommates; and just shy of two years since you became an official couple. Looking back on these milestones, what do you think? Aside from the obvious, how has your relationship changed and how do you each think the other has changed?

Our relationship… hmm… When I think about how we were at Soudai, except for the very beginning, we’ve always had a pretty harmonious relationship. I don’t have to guilt-trip him into spending time with me any more. He tried to avoid me a few times when I was doing a favor for Rin, but that changed and I would find him waiting for me after class. The scope of topics we discuss has widened considerably.

Yeah, after a certain point–in retrospect, it was a point where I think we both knew there was something between us–we stopped talking about Rin and Nanase. We stopped using the word like to describe how we felt about things.

Ha! Yeah, everything was “cool” for Sou.

And everything was “nice” or very nice” for Mako. That started around “Confession Day,” right?

Yeah…

As for how he changed, he’s no longer hesitant about saying things that he thinks I’ll disagree with. Well, no, that sounds weird. I should probably say that he doesn’t sugarcoat things those things anymore. It was really cute, but it annoyed me that he couldn’t just say it, whatever it was, straight out. It’s fine for his students, but I don’t like it.

Sou’s just the opposite. He’s a lot nicer about saying disagreeable things. Or maybe it’s that he’s less disagreeable in general. Yeah, I think that’s it. He’s definitely better at talking to people and making conversation with strangers.

Well, hanging out with you, I had no choice. He can make friends with just about anyone and he’s a magnet for all kinds of people. I was always being dragged into this conversation or that. Oh, yeah, he’s also better at choosing things, you know, like his preference for something. But I think the biggest change for him is being able to put himself first. I’m not sure if that’s a result of all the little changes or if the little changes are a result of that change.

And Sousuke’s biggest change?

I’d have to say moderation. He was very good at pushing himself beyond his limits. It was really bad when he was recovering. I had to constantly remind him how he got into his situation in the first place. He had a bad habit of pushing himself to near-exhaustion.

Is he a workaholic?

I used to think that, but that’s not really it. It’s like he won’t stop until something is complete. That’s good for somethings, but he didn’t know where to draw the line most times. I remember one time in uni, he had a 15-page paper due and even though it wasn’t due for five weeks, he sat down the weekend after it was assigned and didn’t sleep until it was done. I left him that Friday to go home that weekend and when I came back Sunday afternoon, he was in the same spot, wearing the same clothes, and sporting a beard. I was at a loss for words. I felt even worse about it when I’d talk to him after he moved here and he’d tell me he’d only slept 10 hours that week.

And now?

The habit will pop up occasionally, a lot more frequently since the renovation started, but for the most part, not really.

Who wants to be at work when Mako is home?

[A chirping sound came from the kitchen.]

Sou…

And that’s lunch, everyone.


We broke for lunch which was insanely good. Sousuke said he didn’t really start cooking until after uni, but you’d never know he wasn’t professionally trained. Makoto looked like a little kid eating his favorite meal. We had broiled salmon burgers with miso mayo, spinach, and spicy taro chips on an egg bagel bun; cucumber-daikon salad with amanatsu dressing; and strained houtou broth. Towards the end of the meal Sousuke fed Makoto an escaped taro chip and they just stopped right in the middle because they remembered they weren’t alone. They were both in a full blush when they apologized, but of course we told them not to mind us.

They’ve been very open with us and made us feel so very welcomed in their home and at their lively table. The feeling will continue in the 2nd half on the final installment. We’ll be catching up on what’s going on in their life now and talking about what the future holds. So, besure to join us next time when we bring you more of the news you want to know!

The Interview Pt. 4

Lunch was fabulous and we’re all a little lazy from the feast, but that won’t stop us from welcoming you to Part 4 of our interview with Sousuke and Makoto! They’ve been wonderful so far and it only gets better, so let’s go!


For the record, lunch was amazing! You said that you only started cooking after you graduated?

Yeah, somehow, we were usually being fed or eating at or from a restaurant. But after I graduated, the funds stopped flowing from my family, so that got to be expensive. Heh, starving wasn’t really an option, so I started cooking.

Have you ever tried teach Makoto how to cook?

No. He’s pretty content with the eating, so that’s fine. Besides, he does the dishes, which I hate, so that’s even better.

And you’re fine with this arrangement?

Uh, yeah. I get Sou’s food which is always made to my tastes, so I can handle the bubbles.

So, we’ve talked about your past and how you guys got together, so let’s move on to what’s going on in your lives now.

Now? I think it’s so day to day, it’s probably boring.

Are you bored with our life?

You know I’m not saying that! It’s just that we’re not climbing mountains or going on world tours, you know? Our lives are pretty normal.

Ma, I’m just teasing. I think our life is pretty awesome. We both love our jobs and get to come home and wake up to the person we love the most, right Ma?

[He nodded vigorously while trying very hard not to be embarrassed.]

What do you guys do exactly?

I’m an Orthopedic Physical Therapist; my focus is sports rehabilitation.

I’m an athletics teacher for junior high aged kids, a swimming coach and one of the Tokyo Prefecture representatives for the Japan Swimming Federation’s Instructor Committee.

You’re quite busy!

Yeah, some weeks are really exhausting.

How did all of that come about? And where do you find the time?

Long story short, Goro-san put me in touch with his friend who is the head of the JASF Competitiveness Improvement Committee. I met with her and she referred me to the head of the Instructor Committee and he offered me a committee seat and Goro-san’s friend was also the one who told me about the position here. The committee seat isn’t full-time, more like monthly meetings, but she told me that being a committee member would increase my chances for any job in the field. After I accepted their offer, she connected me with three potential employers. Although the pay was less than the other two, I chose the position here in Niijima because I didn’t want to have to travel back and forth to Tokyo or Chiba everyday.

Between my schedule and his long hours, we’d never see each other.

But he’s busier than me if you count his training and competition.

Speaking of~! AnonymousReader#2 wants to know from Sousuke, “what led you to surfing and did you always have the goal to do it competitively or did that come later?”

Good question. I’ll answer the second part first. I’m naturally competitive, so any kind of sport or game will definitely end up that way.

Even laundry.

Huh?

Hush.

Nope. Sou likes to race me in who can fold the most laundry.

Is that true?

It’s his fault.

Eh? My fault? Are you feeling alright?

[Makoto reached to check Sousuke’s temperature as a joke and Sousuke dodged it and bit his hand and without a second thought Makoto started poking him in his side and repeatedly chastising him with “bad dog.” After Sousuke let his hand go he growled and snapped at him and then he nudged Makoto’s hand with his nose. Then Makoto “rewarded” him by scratching under his chin and ruffling his hair and praising him with “good boy” at which Sousuke happily whimpered and yelped. We suspect that this is a routine they have, but it may only be the tip of the iceberg, because just before we resumed, Sousuke stopped short of pouncing on Makoto. We heard Makoto whisper “company” and then Sousuke settled down.]

Sorry about that. [He said this only slightly embarrassed.]

I’m not. That hit the spot. [He said this while putting his hair back into a bun.]

Have you become the dog that you wanted to get?

Heh, never thought of it that way, but I guess so. That’s how it started, anyway. But back to your question. My senpai from uni invited me to his cousin’s place, here, during one break. It was before I decided to have surgery, so I was just irritable all the time, but the first time I got to see the surfers in action up close, I was entranced. It was really soothing and melodic, but also a rush. A year later, I went back on my own and got the same feeling, but I was a little frustrated because it was only a second hand feeling. That’s when I decided to get the surgery–I wanted to be out there in the middle of it, maybe let everything wash over me.

Almost sounds spiritual.

I told him the same thing, but he disagrees. “It’s just a feeling,” he says.

Yeah, that’s it.

You’ve only been involved with the sport for a few years, yet you’re taking home prizes or placing pretty high otherwise. Is it an easy sport to get into or get the hang of?

Like every other sport, it depends on the person. There are all kinds of things to adjust to. Some people have to get over the idea of standing on water, some need to learn how to work with their center of gravity. When I started, my biggest hurdle, aside from my form–you know I was trying protect my shoulder–my issue was fighting the water.

How so?

In the pool, you maneuver to go forward and basically you’re just cutting through standing water, but in open waters you have to contend with water as if it were alive, coming at you from multiple directions. The seas are going to do what they’re going to do and you either work with them or you get tossed or worse, pulled under.

You must be pretty fearless to keep going back.

Not even. Fearless people get hurt. If you had to be fearless to keep at it, I would have never gotten Mako into it. You have to be smart and cautious. Fearlessness is the same as carelessness… too much of that and it’s over.

It must be a pretty incredible sport to be able to sway someone who has trauma associated with water. Makoto, AnonymousReader#6 wants to know why you decided to try surfing.

Sou said I would like it and he’s usually right about stuff like that.

We heard that you didn’t want to at first.

Really? Sou?

Hmn… Well, I know that when I first offered, you were kind of concerned, but I don’t remember you saying that you didn’t want to.

How were you able to get over your fear?

I don’t know if I’ll ever be over it over it, but having Sou there, he was never more than a foot away when I was first getting used to the water. He never pushed or got mad. Even on the days where I’d only be in the water for 10 minutes, he was always patient. The first three weeks was just me getting used to the water. Learning how to stand against the waves as well as how to move with them without letting them take over.

Did you ever want to stop?

Yeah, A few months ago something happened and I wondered if I should continue. But early on when he was teaching me how to right myself in the water, I was having a lot of trouble. But then he started doing it with me. You know how people jump out of planes together, in tandem? Right, so Sou would hold me from the back and get tossed about with me, but I was still really tense. It was… um, it was only after he started holding me while I was facing him that I started to calm down.

I know what you’re thinking, but we were too focused on the task for that and we weren’t together then. Also, it’s a pretty normal scene when someone’s learning how to move about in the sea.

You really did know what I was thinking. So will you be competing any time soon.

No, no, no; I’m not really good enough for that.

He is, though, but he seems to be against it for some reason.

Do you want him to compete?

Not really.

Don’t want the competition?

No, not that. He’s never shown any interest in it and like I said, he’s against it for some reason, so even if I think, “it would be nice,” that’s undue pressure on him.

There are some pro surfers in their 30s and 40s. How long do you see yourself competing?

As long as my body can take it.

This seems like a great time for AnonymousReader#4‘s question for Sousuke. “The movements your body makes while surfing are similar to the ones you made when you were swimming butterfly, How do you plan keep what happened before with your shoulder from happening again?”

This might sound like a cop out, but the only thing I can do is be smart and careful. Even when you do the right things and take precautions, things can happen, so I just have to do what I can. Also, my views on competition are very different from what they used to be and Mako won’t let me overdo it.

Do you chastise him?

Not really. It’s kind of a holdover from his days of recovery. We still do a lot of the same exercises and I just try to remind him about his limits. But there’s also less of a need for it these days. He doesn’t impose the same amount of pressure on himself as he did back in high school.

Yeah, my motivations are completely different.

And what are they?

Well, what drove me back then is pretty well known, so I won’t rehash that, but these days I’m solely in competition with myself. Not having people in lanes to the right and left of me gives me a kind of freedom that I never would have connected with competition. It’s just me, my board, and the water; a welcomed solitude.

Do you get the same feeling?

I don’t think mine is as deep as Sou’s, but I definitely get the part about solitude. It’s really comforting, you know? Especially the few moments you have when you’re inside a wave… it doesn’t last that long, but it can feel like an eternity. Although, that eternity was really scary at the beginning.

From both of you, AnonymousReader#1 wants to know what the surfing community is like?

They were really welcoming and very helpful. I thought it was a cliché, but everyone’s really laid back and friendly. Even before I started surfing they were always including me in things while I was waiting for Sou.

Same here. My first two summers here, when I was just kind of soaking it in, they were treating me like an old friend. I had always had complicated feelings about that kind of closeness and camaraderie, but just like Mako was back then, they were sort of relentless in their efforts to make me surrender.

Hey, I wasn’t trying to make you surrender! I was looking out for you for… for Rin… but, heh, now that I think about it, it didn’t take long for that reason to be overtaken by my own interest in you.

Well, I guess it was fate, then. I remember that it was after you got the flu that I started waiting for you outside of your afternoon class. I tried not to think about why I was suddenly alright with hanging out with you, but you know…

I was so shocked. The first time I saw you there… I was all set to hunt this guy down because that’s what it was like. If I got to his class any later than a minute after it ended, I’d miss him. It was easy at first because he didn’t expect it, but once he caught on, he was always dodging me.

I didn’t want a babysitter and, frankly, even back then I knew something was up because I’d never had a problem distancing myself from people, but I was always giving in to you. You were so irritating!

[Sousuke raised his fists and shook them quite dramatically, which was unexpected, but even more so was Makoto’s descent into a laughing fit.]

Are you laughing because you were trying to irritate him back then?

No way! Back then, Sousuke’s default disposition was “generally annoyed” and that was kind of intimidating, so there’s no way I’d want to purposely provoke the “specifically annoyed” mode.

So, why are you laughing at me?

I wasn’t laughing at you, I was laughing at you giving in to me.

And how is that not laughing at me?

No, well, when we were still in uni, after we started meeting up willingly, when it really was no longer about Rin, every so often you would interrupt the conversation or break the silence. And he’d look me straight in the eye and ask, “what are you doing, Tachibana?”

HA!

The first few times I answered him something like, “I’m eating” or “I’m talking to you.” But it kept happening and his stare was really intense, so after a while, I started getting really self conscious and I’d either look around to figure out what he was talking about or just look down and answer, “nothing.”

I always felt bad when he did that.

So what was going on?

It was a while before I knew. After uni he stopped asking. The next time I heard it was right before he kissed me during Golden Week. It sounded completely different from all the other times.

How did you respond?

I was really quiet, I think. It was a weird thing that I never understood and I had no idea why he brought it back. Also, being between him and a wall with very little clearance… You know, he’s not much taller than me, but his presence is like twice his actual stature, so I think my brain stopped working until I realized he was [mouthed:] kissing me.

Was that the last time?

No. The last time I remember was the morning after I moved here. We were so tired on the day that we didn’t do anything but eat and sleep. So the following morning I was getting my stuff unpacked and Sou peeked in and ask, “what are you doing, Tachibana?” [He giggled a bit.]

And he turned to me and said, “nothing, Sousuke.”

[Everything just hushed and then they both looked at me and then our EIC as if they were just waiting for us to get it.]

Really?! Was that the first time?

Yeah, man. I was not prepared. At all. That was the second time he beat me to the punch. I’d spent a lot of time trying to figure out when would be a good time to call him by his name because I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t be too embarrassed when it happened, you know? I didn’t want him to associate embarrassment with it ’cause it would never become natural like that. But he went ahead and did it first.

[At this point, Sousuke was leaning back against the sofa with his arms crossed while trying to hide his pout and Makoto was donning a rare self-congratulatory look on his face.]

You seem pretty pleased with yourself.

Well, that’s because I am. He eventually told me that he would always say that whenever he felt like I must have cast a spell on him because he was too interested in me for his own good. And it feels good to know I had that effect on him. Plus! You don’t know how hard it is to catch him off guard. Back in uni, when he first started coming home with me to visit my family on holidays and such, I forget what it was, but my mom suggested we do something and I looked at him and turned back to her and told her that I didn’t think he was interested because he wasn’t paying attention. And she said, “I promise you, he only looks that way.” Then she told me to “watch.” So she just asked him, “what do you think,” and he, like he was in the conversation all along, just rattled off his opinion and then even made his own suggestion. And I was just standing there trying to figure out what just happened. And she winked at me like she knew some… thing…

[Makoto’s head turned like whiplash towards Sousuke, and without so much as flinching, Sousuke responded.]

Yeah, she probably knew.

Knew…?

He’s wondering if his mom knew about us back then.

Oh? And you think she did? Wasn’t that a while before you guys… ya know?

I never gave it much thought but now that he brought this up, I’m thinking so.

They weren’t surprised when we told them, but I never would have thought… Actually, I don’t want to think about it. Sooo as I was saying, Sou’s always there, always present, and always a step ahead of me. Any chance I can best him, then I’ll take it.

So you have a competitive streak, too?

Hmmn…? I suppose, but it’s usually more about keeping him on his toes, you know? I don’t want him to get bored with me, so–

Never that.

You sound awfully certain.

People don’t get bored with themselves. They get bored with the things in their environment or the lack thereof and with how those things stimulate them or don’t. Mako isn’t something in my presence, he’s a part of me, so I could never get bored with him.

Sou! How can you even say that?!

What? Do you feel differently?

Well… no, but…

Yeah, so…

Did you and do you feel the same way about swimming and surfing?

Maybe in a general sense, but swimming was different. I was passionate about it, it was a big part of my life, and I never got bored with it, but it was also something I thought I needed to keep me connected to someone. So, it was never apart of me in the same way. As for surfing, I don’t know. I’m still rather new to it. I love it and there’s a freedom about it that I never got from swimming, so, for the foreseeable future, I won’t be bailing out.

While we’re still on the subject, AnonymousReader#5 asks, “We heard that you had been invited overseas a couple years ago, but are you involved with other surfing communities on the mainland or other islands?”

Not so much recently. The renovations have taken up a lot of free time, but I’ve spent some time in Chiba. It’s a slightly different vibe, but it’s still really cool.

Whatever became of those invitations?

I wasn’t ready for them back then, so I declined, but most of them turned into open invitations, so once the renovations are complete, we’ll talk about what we want to do.

Well, on that subject, what does the future look like for the Yamazaki-Tachibana household? Finishing up the renovations, maybe get a real dog, what else?

It’s hard to say. The future’s kind of vague and no matter how much you try to pin it down, what it has in store for you could change any second. But we still try, we make choices to ensure what’s in store is in our favor. So sometimes I’ll take it as it comes, I guess. But, tomorrow, I was hoping I’d get to sleep all day and next year I want to travel. Next month I’ll be starting classes to complete my second masters and in five years I can’t say.

Do you also have a wait and see outlook?

Maybe… the further ahead I look, but for the immediate and near future I’m a little more committed. So, tomorrow, we will sleep all day and next year, as long as the renovations are complete, we will travel, we just have to decide on where. I won’t be going for my doctorate until after we travel. And five years from now we’ll have more cats, I’m sure, at least one dog, and more–

Championships!

Heh, yeah, maybe…

[Sousuke leaned toward Makoto and stared at him for a few seconds before saying something that we could barely hear, but sounded like, “if you don’t wear me out.” Makoto yelled, “hey” as he smooshed a pillow into Sousuke’s face. It seemed like it was more because he was laughing than for what he said. Afterwards, he looked up slowly to see if we heard it. I think we heard right. Sousuke apologized and then nodded at us to continue.]

So, you both have a masters? When did that happen?

Hm, yeah. Waseda’s sports curriculum master’s program is basically an extended and intense practicum. I did my year 5+ with Goro-san and Sou did his year 5 with Shikano and his final seminar with the.. who was it?

Yeah, with the MHLW through the clinic. That program’s one of the reasons I didn’t go to Chiba like I had originally planned.

Well, your future looks pretty bright!


We’re going to break here. We hope everyone is enjoying the interview so far. In this final installment, we’ll be addressing the remainder of the reader-submitted questions, so please look forward to more of the news you want to know!

The Interview Pt. 5

Here it is, the very last of the SouMako interview; it’s all the news you wanted to know!


Now, before we go, we have a few more questions from our readers. You guys ready?

Yeah!

The first batch are questions for both of you from AnonymousReader#3. Question #1, “who’s always on time and who’s always late?”

Ehhh, both of us are pretty punctual, but I guess if I have to say, it’d be Mako because he doesn’t like to get out of bed.

It’s true.

Alright. Question #2, “who has control of the remote?”

Mako. He watches way more TV than I do.

Question #3, “who steals the covers?”

Sou does, all the time. But he only does it so that I’ll have to move closer.

Question #4, “Who’s the better dancer?”

Sou./Mako.

To be honest, neither of us actually do it much, but Mako definitely looks better when he does.

Question #5, “who controls the radio in the car?”

Sou. I’ll listen to just about anything, but he’s really picky, so he’s in charge.

Next is question #6 from randomwordstogether, who asks, “have you ever made the other really angry? What happened and how did you apologize?”

Sheesh! Uh, well, I think we each only have one story to tell. Ma, you go.

You want me to talk about when I was angry or when you were?

You tell yours and I’ll tell mine.

OK. Well, when I first came to visit, we were still just friends, so the people here treated me like Sou’s friend and I got to see how people interacted with him from that point of view, even the people that were interested in him. I got to see all that. And well, Sou is Sou, it’s hard not to be intrigued by him, you know? There was one person who showed a particular interest and Sou knew it, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it, so I just kept quiet. Then–

[At this point, Makoto paused to watch Sousuke double over and pull a pillow over his head.]

…then, when I moved here, I saw that the same person was still interested and making advances. I asked Sou to make things clear with them because I thought it would be best not to lead them on, because what if something happened, you know? And it would make me feel better knowing he did. He kind of dismissed it by saying that I watched too much TV and that there was nothing to worry about because he wasn’t interested. He didn’t get my point at all and by that time, my feelings were hurt, so I just let it go for the time being. About a week later, our schedules were complete opposites plus he had a competition, so we didn’t see each other much, but when we did, he seemed like he wanted to talk about something, but never did. Finally, things settled down and we hung out that weekend and watched the full coverage of the competition. I saw it from beginning to end, off to the side that person kissed him. I could clearly see that they initiated it and he pushed them away almost immediately, but it still happened.

And the apology?

[He came from under the pillow.] He stopped talking to me, so there wasn’t much I could do. After two days of trying, I decided to give him space. I was completely in the wrong, so I could only wait. I had a lot to apologize for, so a couple days later, I wrote a letter to him. About two days after that, he stopped turning his back to me at night and the next day he spoke to me.

Did you not believe him?

It wasn’t that. I realized that he was sorry, I mean, I could see it in his eyes, in his posture even, but I still had to decide whether or not I could or wanted to forgive him and whether or not I was willing to let go of my anger. It wasn’t that he got kissed, that’s part of it, but it was really that he let it happen. I was really hurt when he dismissed me; the whole thing could have been avoided. There was a lot to think about. He’d never done that before; he was usually more aware. I don’t know what was going through his head. So, we did talk… about everything. It was a 2-day conversation that ended in him assuring me that nothing like that would ever happen again and explaining how he would ensure that. I can’t say that I forgave him completely at the time, but I did resolve to let it go.

And now?

That was over a year ago. We’re good, right Sou?

[Sousuke nudged his way under Makoto’s arm and Makoto patted him on his arm.] Yeah, thanks to you.

And how about you? What did Makoto do to you to make you angry with him?

[Sousuke sat up and kind of slouched against the back of the sofa and Makoto closed the distance between them.]

Well, it’s actually more what he did to himself. A few months ago, Mako kept waking up in the middle of the night with leg cramps; he’d just get a charley horse out of nowhere. I suspected a potassium or calcium deficiency and his tests showed it was potassium for sure. He’s not a picky eater, but he’s not really fond of foods that are high in potassium for some reason. Bananas, fish, bamboo shoots, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand a bunch of other things, so he’d been skipping them or picking them out of his food. After his check-up, we talked about changes to his diet–we definitely have enough for normal people, but we are deliberately physically active, so we have higher levels to maintain. After implementing them he was good for about two months and then he started slipping. The cramps returned, but he started getting them during the day as well, but he didn’t tell me about those and I thought the ones at night might have been due to him quitting his workouts cold instead of winding down, so I just reminded him to cool down properly. Then, we went out on water and he got one in both his thigh and calf and…

[Right about when Sousuke said that Makoto “started slipping,” his words started to quicken and we could see the frustration wash over his face. Even though Sousuke wasn’t facing him, it seems Makoto could tell and grabbed his hand, pried open Sousuke’s clenched fist and held it. That’s when he drifted to a pause. Then he took a deep breath and continued.]

I was on land, I wasn’t close enough… He could have drowned, I mean, he almost did. I was angry for so many reasons, but I was more scared than anything and I couldn’t yell at him because he was more shaken than I was. I spent a lot of time holding him and trying to comfort him, but I was so angry that it couldn’t have felt good to him. It took a while for me to be anything but angry because I didn’t want to add to what he was going through, but not being able to yell at the cause of all of it just really overwhelmed me. I felt like I was failing him because I couldn’t get passed it soon enough, but at the same time I resented him for putting himself in danger and treating our life together like it could be easily replaced if one of us were no longer here. I know he wasn’t consciously acting on that, but… still… And I don’t know, he just came to me after a few days and just told me to yell at him. And I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to yell at him, but if I didn’t, I’d never get over it and if I never got over it, I’d never be able to make sure he was okay, because even though he was trying to help me, he was still dealing with that. No one should have to experience that kind of thing so many times. But me not yelling at him hurt him and then I was hurt because of that and it was a mess. Just a mess. But he kept pushing, so I finally let him have it. That was the worst feeling ever. I never wanted to be the one to make him flinch or look at me like he was scared, that’s why I didn’t want to do it. But I was so angry and he understood, but it was so complicated.

So, Makoto, this was the “something” you mentioned earlier that made you consider not surfing anymore?

…Yes.

Considering everything, was there a need for an apology?

Yes.

He was right. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I did put myself in danger and in doing so, I did take the significance of our life lightly. Just because I suffered doesn’t excuse what I did.

[Makoto sat up and stretched a little. He repositioned his arms to lay across the back of the sofa and Sousuke leaned back against him.]

Back during our first fight, we established a rule: sorry’s not enough. In addition to apologizing, we have to address how we are going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

So what are you guys doing to that effect, respectively?

I– Well, when he kissed me on the beach in front of, well in front of everyone, that pretty much cleared it up for most of the community, but I promised that, at the first sign of interest from someone, I would tell them that I wasn’t interested and I told him that I would be mindful not to act or encourage that person to act to the contrary. Also that I would never dismiss his concerns again. I think I was going through something at work at the time. Of course that doesn’t absolve me, but… Ha ha, it’s weird talking about it… But yeah, that’s what I do. Ma…

Hmn, my penalty–

Don’t call it a penalty!

Hmn? I suppose that doesn’t really fit. I guess amends…? Yeah… Sou makes my bento everyday, so I’m making amends by choosing potassium-rich ingredients to be included. Even though I agreed to it, the compromise of “active participation” is something I do with my students, so it didn’t sit right with me that I was being managed that way, but I got over it.

And he’s been doing so well.

Now I understand why you said “sheesh.” On to question #7. AnonymousReader#8 asks Makoto, “in the past you were easily frightened and Sousuke seems like he likes to pick on you a bit; how often does he try to scare you? And for Sousuke, “what are your favorite ways to scare him?”

Not at all, actually.

It’s no good. When I watched the show, I saw how he would get scared and hide behind Nanase and at some point I thought it would be really cute if he hid behind me. He did jump into my arms one time and it was funny, but that was before we were together. However, not too long after he moved here something scared him while we were on the beach when it was getting dark and he hid behind me, but it wasn’t cute at all. He was seriously shaking and he was so pale when I turned to look at him. I just… I can’t ever be the cause of that.

Next we have question #8. AnonymousReader#9 asks Sousuke, “now that you finally understand what EVERYONE else already knew–that Mako-chan is an absolute angel!–do you regret not being friends with him in high school or before that?”

Ha! #9’s a straight shooter, huh? So, maybe? A little. But when we were that age I was preoccupied and I probably wouldn’t have been the kind of friend you might be thinking about. So I missed the first 18 years of his life, it’s fine; I’ll have him for the next eighty. Or more!

Question #9 is for both of you. AnonymousReader#12 asks, “do you want kids?” and AnonymousReader#14 asks if you “thought about bringing anything other than pets into your futures?? like kids maybe..?”

Hmn, kids…

I’ll go first, I guess. When we told my parents, one of the first things my dad asked was, “even though you want children?” I understand that because of the way I am, people readily assume that, but it kind of hurt when he asked because that was something I had only recently fully come to terms with. It wasn’t until I decided to confess to Sousuke that I really, really thought about it. He wasn’t trying to be mean or hurt me, it was just a concern he had. So I explained to him that the idea of having children of my own was something I tried not to spend too much time on because I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to. I like children, but I’m in love with Sou and, thankfully, it turns out that he’s in love with me, and that means I won’t be having any. So rather wanting them–actively or passively–I am completely content with educating them, helping them learn and grow, and generally being a positive influence on them.

[Makoto had such a serious look in his eyes; he didn’t even blush.]

Being gay and living in Japan means that neither a biological nor an adoptive parent is something that I can become. Personally, though, I don’t. Heh, mostly for selfish reasons involving Mako, but also, I don’t have any interest in that level of responsibility. And, at this point, I think Eric B. and Rakim might get jealous of any newcomers.

And AnonymousReader#13 gives us our 10th question, and that’s, “do you plan on staying in Japan forever?”

We haven’t traveled much, so that’s hard to say, right Ma?

I suppose once we get a taste of what life is like outside of Japan we’ll be able to see if it’s delicious enough to leave our home forever, well, that’s what Sou would say.

I don’t talk like that!

You do! Just… not in front of other people, but you do. It’s cute, right?

[We smiled and nodded in agreement, but also to acknowledge Sousuke’s red tint.]

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, once the renovations are complete, we’ll do some traveling, so we’ll be able to get a feel for different places. If Chickadee and Rei permanently relocate to Canada, we’ll definitely visit them there. And since English was mandatory in Soudai’s Sport Science department, we’ve both got a decent handle on that so it opens a lot of ports for us. However, Mako wants to visit Spain and Brazil and neither one of us know Spanish or Portuguese, because of that, we’re hoping they’ll be hospitable enough to work with our English. So, after we’ve trotted the globe a bit we’ll have a better answer for you.

Well, Sousuke and Makoto, you both have been wonderful hosts and we really appreciate you opening your home and lives to The Gossip and its readers. It’s been an absolute blast! Before we call it a day, is there anything you’d like to say you our readers, your fans?

I don’t know, uh, stay in school? Don’t do drugs? Cover your belly? Maybe?

[Makoto put his face in his hands and Sousuke laughed.]

Goodness Sou…

What? How am I supposed to know what to say? Well, let’s hear yours.

Um, okay… When they approached us about the interview, I was hesitant since these sorts of things were done by idols and famous and important people, so I was sure that there’d be no point in talking to me, Sou, maybe, but considering they had already revealed so much in their column–

Was kind of creepy at first.

Well, I guess, but that aside, I didn’t think there’d be anything else for me to share. But I thought it would be a nice thing to do especially since I, well, both of us declined when the studio suggested a reunion three years ago. Sou said he’d do it if I really wanted to, so here we are. I had a lot of fun today and for that, I would like to thank The Gossip and their readers. You guys were supporting us even when we didn’t know it. And knowing that there’s been someone out there cheering for you is a good feeling and I hope with this day we were able to return just a bit of that feeling to everyone.

Yeah, what he said.

Sou!

I guess I want to thank everyone as well. It’s definitely a weird feeling when you find out that you’re being watched. Although the producers did warn us about this kind of thing. But I appreciate that we never felt intruded upon. But I still think it’s important to stay in school, stay away from drugs, and it’s super important to keep your belly warm, heh.


And with that, we’re done! Well, almost. Now, for AnonymousReader#10 and AnonymousReader#11 who asked about “Ama-chan,” we haven’t forgotten about you. When we first started investigating the lives of the Free! cast, post-show, we were contacted by a representative of Amakata-san’s and due to an ongoing investigation of a stalking incident, we were asked not to include her whereabouts in our reports. However, we are happy to report that the offender was apprehended and subsequently brought to justice a few months ago. Makoto assures us that she is safe and being supported by her friends and family. We here at The Gossip hope you’ll join us in wishing her well!


And so we’ve come to The End. It’s been a lot of fun for us getting to know Sousuke and Makoto, we hope you guys will also join us in wishing them well in their adventures yet to come. Thanx for reading along!

Love,

The Gossip


While this fic is pretty much done (though the blog will always be open for questions), The Gossip AU will continue in prose, random conversations, and variety of other things on thenakedtruth-soumako.

Featured image was a gift to me from Hiwa!

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