Reunion at the Starting Block!
Chapter One: Reunion at the Starting Block!
The water is alive. Once you dive in, it will immediately bare it's fangs and attack. But there's nothing to fear. Don't resist the water. Thrust your fingers into the surface and carve an opening. Then you slide you body though the opening. Moving your arms, your head, your chest...
"Her swimming always looks so smooth." a young boy with olive green haired commented as he watched the girl that in the pool swim through the water.
"Yep, she's like a dolphin!" a shorter boy with blonde hair remarked.
The two boys turned their heads and saw another young boy stepping onto one of the diving blocks.
"Who's that?" Nagisa asked.
"Matsuoka Rin-kun." Makoto answered. "He transferred into our class last week."
After adjusting his goggles over his eyes, Rin snapped the bands of the goggles on the back of his head. Then he got into position and jumped into the water with a loud splash. Makoto and Nagisa watched the other boy swim through, catching up with the girl that in the lane next to his. When the two swimmers reached the other end of the pool, they turned in the water and both themselves propelled off the all. They swam back to the other end of the pool. When they finally reached the end, the girl raised her head from the water and panted slightly. She removed her goggles and swimming cap before she shook her short, chin-length raven hair out of her face. She opened her ocean blue eyes and saw a hand being held out towards her.
"Nobody can beat you when you're in the water, Haru-chan." Makota commented, smiling at the girl.
Haru stared blankly at him for a second. "Stop adding '-chan' at the end of my name already." she said before she took his hand and allowed him to pull her out of the pool.
"That was so cool, Nanase-chan!" Nagisa remarked. "I wanna swim like you!"
"You're as fast of the rumors say." Rin, who was still in the pool, said. "What was your time?"
"I don't care about my time." Haru replied coolly as she turned to face away from the redheaded boy, her eyes closed.
Rin stared at the girl for a moment, slightly surprised by what she said, before he started to laugh slightly. "That's just like the rumors said, too."
The young raven haired girl reopened her eyes and watched the young boy climb out of the pool.
"Hey, Nanase. You interested in entering a relay with me at the next tournament?" Rin asked.
Haru stared at him, her face expressionless. "I only do freestyle." she said simply before she turned around and climbed onto the diving block she was using before.
That's right, I don't care about swimming faster times. All I want to do is feel the water.
Haru put her swimming cap and goggles back on. She got into position and jumped into the water, her form closely resembling a dolphin.
With my skin, my eyes, my soul... To never doubt what it makes me feel. Believe in myself. Don't resist the water. Welcome it. We accept one another.
Four years later
"Yep. There was some pretty weird stuff going through my head at the time." Nanase Haruka, or Haru as she was known by her friends and family, said to herself as she sat in her bathtub, her arm in the air with her hand held out. She let her arm drop. "There's an old saying my late grandma told me. When you're ten, they call you a prodigy. When you're fifteen, they call you a genius. Once you reach the age of twenty, you're just an ordinary person." she raised her head to look up at the ceiling. "Just three more years until I'm ordinary."
Then she let herself sink under the water.
'Man...' Haru thought, staring at the bathroom ceiling through the water with a slightly bored look on her face. 'I can't wait to be ordinary.'
"Good morning, Tamura-san." Tachibana Makoto greeted politely to his neighbor.
"Good morning, Makoto-chan." the elderly woman greeted back. She reached into her bag and pulled out a slice of bread that was wrapped up in a piece of cloth. "Take this with you."
"Oh, thank you." the olive green haired boy said, taking the bread. "See you around!" with that being said he walked away.
"Take care now."
When he arrived at his destination, Makoto started to walk up the flight of stairs that led to his childhood friend's home. While he was walking, he heard soft meow. Looking down, Makoto smiled when he saw a small white kitten, with green eyes, sitting besides some bushes.
"Good morning." Makoto greeted as he knelt down and scratched under the kitten's chin, causing her to purr.
The olive green haired boy stood up straight and continued to making his way up the stairs. When he finally made it to the top, Makoto went towards the two-story house that was at the top. He made to the door and pressed the doorbell. After waiting a few moments with no answer, Makoto took a few steps back and craned his neck up to the second floor. What he saw was the blue curtains that covered the upstairs's bathroom window from the inside.
"Oh, come on..." Makoto sighed.
He made his way to the back of the house entered through the backdoor, which was unlocked like always.
"Excuse me." the young man called out.
Makoto made his way to the bathroom area. In there, he saw a pair of pajamas in the laundry basket with the bathroom door closed shut.
"Naturally, she's here." the olive green haired boy sighed again. He turned towards the door and knocked on it with the back of his fist. "Hey, please don't make me come in there." he calls out, a light pink blush on his cheeks.
"I'm wearing a swimsuit." a female voice said from the other side of the door.
Once again, Makoto sighs. "Alright, I'm coming in." he says as he slides the door open.
A second after he opened the door, a head of raven hair shot up from the bathtub. Haru shook her head back and forth a few times to get her hair out of her face. When she stopped and opened her ocean blue eyes, the young woman saw a hand being held out towards her.
"Good morning, Haru-chan." Makoto said, smiling.
Haru stared blankly at him for a moment. "I thought I told you to lay off the '-chan'." she said as she took his hand and let him help her out of the water.
The olive green haired boy immediately noticed the black, with purple stripes running down the sides, and backless one piece swimsuit, which showed off her slender, yet very developed and curvaceous, figure (her measurements from top to bottom are: 95 cm, 54 cm, and 90 cm).
"You were in the bath with your swimsuit on again?" Makoto asked, already knowing the answer.
"Buzz off." Haru said in monotone as she stepped out of the bathtub, her long, waist-length raven hair sticking to her back while water ran down her long, smooth legs (she is 175 cm tall). "You're going to be late." she remarked as she walked out of the bathroom.
"That's my line." Makoto sighed for the fourth time that day.
"Why are you grilling fish?!" the olive green haired teen asked his childhood friend.
"I haven't had breakfast yet." Haru replied simply, her face expressionless as usual, as she continued to fry the pieces of fish that were on the mini grill she was using.
"And you're wearing an apron over a swimsuit." Makoto said as he observed the ravenette wearing a dark blue apron, which was over her swimsuit. "Don't you feel cold?"
"I don't want to get any oil on my swimsuit." the young woman said.
The sound of a light 'ding' caused the young man to turn around to see toasted bread pop out of the toaster.
"Toast and fish?" Makoto questioned, finding his childhood friend's eating habits to be a bit strange.
"So? Why did you come get me?" Haru, now wearing her school uniform, asked the taller boy as she and him walked to their school.
"You didn't show up for the opening assembly yesterday." Makoto replied, smiling softly at her.
"I called in sick." the ravenette deadpanned.
"Do you know which class you're in, then?"
The young woman made no reply.
"We're in the same class again. Class 1. We got a new lady as our homeroom teacher. They've already given her a nickname. She teaches classical literature, but she's a little bit on the odd side."
Haru, who had stopped listening a moment ago, turned her head to gaze at the sparkly blue ocean they were walked by.
'It needs to get warmer so I can swim in the ocean.' she thought as she looked longingly at the water.
Makoto, finally realizing his childhood friend wasn't listening to him, smiled down at her when he saw where she was staring.
"I hope it gets warmer soon so you can swim." he commented.
Haru huffed as she turned her head away, causing Makoto to chuckle in amusement.
Once the two childhood friend's made to their classroom, Haruka took a place in her seat, which was beside the back window. Their homeroom teacher, a pretty woman with short brown hair and brown eyes, began to call roll call.
"Miss Nanase Haruka?" the teacher called out when she got to the ravenette names. "Is she here today?"
Haru, who was staring out the window absentmindedly, didn't reply.
"Yes, ma'am, she's here!" Makoto called out from his seat, which was right next to Haru's, when the young teenager didn't make a move to answer.
"Oh, you're right!" the teacher exclaimed when she saw the ravenette's face in the back. "You were absent yesterday, correct? I'm Amakato Miho, your new homeroom teacher." she smiled warmly at Haruka. "Nice to meet you."
Haru didn't anything, just giving a small nod in the teacher's direction.
"I heard Ama-chan-sensei is from this area." a student said to his friends after class was over for lunch. "She went to college in Tokyo and found a job there, but she came back after her dream fell through."
"What was her dream?"
"Beats me. Maybe she wanted to go into music?"
'We're supposed to be learning from a woman who became a teacher as her Plan B?' Haru, who heard the entire conversation, thought as she stared out through the window. She sighed to herself. 'I want to go home already.'
Turning her head to the side, the seventeen year old saw her childhood friend smiling at her with a wrapped up bento in his hands.
"Wanna eat on the roof?" Makoto suggested.
'He needs to get a clue.' Haru mentally remarked.
"Gou, what are you doing? Hurry up!" a girl, with light brown hair, in a bun, and brown eyes, called out from over her shoulder.
"Hold on!" a cute girl with long red hair, which was in a high ponytail, and red eyes shouted as she tried to catch up with her friend. "And don't call me Gou!"
Suddenly, a boy with short boy with blonde hair bumped into her.
"Sorry!" the boy apologized before he ran in the direction the girl came from.
Gou panted slightly as she watched the boy's retreating figure.
"I didn't bring lunch." Haru said to Makoto as they walked down the stairs.
"Go buy something, then?" the olive green haired boy suggested. "Or would you like some of this?" he held out pieces of dried squid that were wrapped in a piece of a newspaper. "Squid."
The ravenette stared at the pieces of the squid with a blank look on her face. Before she could make a reply, a loud voice called out.
The childhood friends looked down and saw a short boy with blonde hair at the bottom of the stairs waving.
"It's been forever!" the boy said with a huge smile on his face. "I'll be joining you here at Iwatobi High School."
Haru and Makoto stared at him with slight confusion on their faces. They looked at one another.
"Mako-chan?" the young man repeated.
"Haru-chan?" the young woman repeated as well.
Then realization dawned on them. They looked back down at the energetic blonde with disbelief on their faces.
"Nagisa?!" they said in unison.
Hazuki Nagisa just grinned at them.
"How many years has it been?" Makoto thought aloud as the trio looked out over the walls from their spot on the rooftop, from there they could see an empty swimming pool. "I don't think that I we saw you after the swimming club was shut down."
"Yep, that was because I went to a different school." Nagisa remarked. "Look! There are cherry blossom trees next to the pool!" he said excitedly has he pointed at the large tree that were right outside the gate that the pool was in. "Weren't there cherry blossom trees at our grade school, Haru-chan?" he asked the taller girl.
"Can you please stop calling me that?" Haru asked in monotone.
"But that's your name, Haru-chan."
"But that pool is old and no longer in use. There's no swim club anymore, either." Makoto spoke up.
"Where do you swim, then?" Nagisa asked, a confused expression showing up on his face.
"I quit swimming competitively." Haru replied bluntly, her face blank.
"What?!" the blonde exclaimed in disbelief. "Why did you quit? I was all excited about getting to swim with you in high school!"
"We're not children anymore. Things aren't the same way they once were."
"Haru-chan..." the blonde said with a rather sad look on his face.
"Well, even though she stopped swimming competitively, Haru still loves the water." Makoto remarked. He looked at the shorter girl. "She can't live without being in water." he said somewhat teasingly. "During the summer, she swims in the ocean, and was even soaking in the tub this morning."
"What does that have to do with swimming?" Nagisa asked. "That just means she likes baths." then the blonde's face brightened when an idea came into his mind. "I know! How about a hot springs club?" he grabbed Haru's arm and shook her slightly. "Let's start a hot springs club!"
"I can't stand the heat." the tall ravenette replied bluntly, her face emotionless.
"Don't be like that!" the short boy complained.
'Nagisa hasn't changed one bit.' Makoto thought, chuckling to himself.
"Okay then, how about we..."
"I didn't say anything yet."
Then Makoto noticed a girl with long red hair, in a high ponytail, was staring at them. The girl nodded towards him before she went back the conversation she was having with her friend, a girl with light brown hair in a bun, while they ate lunch.
"Hey, did you hear?" Nagisa asked as the trio walked down the stairs, going back to their classrooms since lunch hour was almost over. "The swimming club we went to in grade is going to be torn down soon." he said before he hopped down the rest of the stairs.
Haru's eyes widened slightly at the piece of information.
"So before that happens, why don't we pay a visit?" the blonde suggested.
"To dig that up?" Makoto questioned.
"Exactly! We can sneak in at night..."
"You can go by yourself." Haru stated bluntly.
"Don't say that! Please come with us, Haru-chan!"
"I refuse." the ravenette said before she turned away from the blonde.
"Don't you think it'll be fun?" Nagisa asked, giving her his puppy dog eyes look. However, it did nothing to waver the girl's expressionless face.
"Not at all."
Makoto chuckled slightly at the scene, knowing how the very stubborn girl wouldn't give in so easily.
"Why don't you just humor him?" the olive green haired teen asked.
"No, it would be too much effort."
Makoto put his hand near his chin. "But there's a pool there." he said, pretending he was thinking out loud.
Haru's eyebrow twitched when she heard this.
"A pool is much bigger than a bathtub."
When hearing the word 'pool', the tall girl turned around to face her childhood friend, a hopeful look in her ocean blue eyes.
Later that evening, Makoto and Nagisa went over to Haru's house to prepare for their trip to the old swimming club.
"Wow, you live by yourself, Haru-chan?" the blonde asked, opening random doors throughout the house.
"Her mom went with her dad when he had to move because of work." the olive green haired teen explained, a shovel in his hands.
Haru, who changed into a hoodie jacket with a pair of jeans, walked into the kitchen, put her apron on, and started to fry some pieces of mackerel in the pan she had placed on the stove.
"Wait, fish again?" Makoto asked.
"No one is forcing you to eat it." the ravenette said bluntly in monotone.
"Looks delicious." Nagisa commented. "Haru-chan was always a good cook."
Then Makoto's face turned a little sad. "So, are you positive about this?"
"Weren't you all for it earlier?" the short blonde asked. "Are you getting scared?"
"No, it's not that. Is it okay for just the three of us to dig that up?"
"Can't do anything about it. Rin-chan isn't in Japan anymore."
As the two males talked, Haru was suddenly plagued by a memory that came into her mind.
Flashback, four years ago
"I won't be attending school here." a young boy with red hair said.
A young Haru and Makoto stared at him, confusion and surprise on their faces.
"Huh? What do you mean, Rin?" the olive green haired boy asked.
"I'm going to Australia." Rin replied, arms behind his head.
"You mean you're going to a different country?"
"Yep, I'm going to a swimming school."
Haru stared at the redheaded boy for a bit. Then her face went back to being expressionless as she turned her head to look down at the writing she and the boys had written on the bricks that where being use to hold a cherry blossom tree in place. It was in the middle of winter, so the tree hadn't started blooming yet.
"What are you trying to do?" Haru asked Rin, her voice soft and in monotone.
"I'm going to be an Olympic swimmer." the redheaded boy replied, grinning widely.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Makoto asked. "What about the relay?"
"I'm still going to swim in the relay." Rin said as he put his arms down and turned to walk away. "I'm going to be leaving the day after the tournament. So this will be the last time the for of us can swim together."
The olive green haired boy turned to the young ravenette and saw that her face was still expressionless.
"I only swim freestyle." Haru said, not looking up from where she was staring.
"That's why you have to swim in the relay." Rin remarked as he stopped walking. He turned around and faced the girl with a serious look on his face. "Let's swim together, Nanase."
Haru still didn't turn her gaze.
"If you swim with me..."
Finally, the young girl turned her head to look at the redhead. When she did, she saw that he was grinning at her.
"I'll show you a sight you've never seen before."
"This placed is pretty trashed." Makoto commented as he, Haru, and Nagisa stood outside their old swimming club.
The short blonde smiled as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a napkin. "Here, just in case." he said as he opened the napkin and revealed white power in it. "Purifying salt."
"Salt?" the olive green haired boy repeated.
"They say this place is haunted." Nagisa explained, his face surprisingly serious.
A nervous smile appeared on Makoto's face. "Don't scare me."
"I'm not lying." the blonde said, causing terrified expression to appear on the taller boy's face. "People have been seeing shadows moving around and hearing sobbing voices."
Makoto's mouth twitched slightly as he gazed up at the abandoned run-down building.
"Stand still." Nagisa said as he started throwing salt on the scared teenager. He then turned to the emotionless girl. "Okay. You're next, Haru-chan." he started to throw salt on her as well.
Then something clicked inside the ravenette's brain.
"Hey." she said quietly, causing her male companions to freeze.
"Wh-What is it?" Makoto stammered, gripping the shovel he was holding onto tightly.
Haru put some of the white powder on her finger, then licked it with her tongue. "This is not salt. It's sugar." she said bluntly.
"Well, it's all mental anyway, so sugar will still get the job done." Nagisa, holding a flashlight in his hand, remarked as the trio walked through a hallway in the building.
"Cliched as hell." Haru mumbled as she turned her head to the side.
"It is one of the oldest mistakes out there." Makoto said while he smiled, trying to cover up the fear he was feeling while inside the building.
Suddenly, there was a loud noise.
"Wh-What was that?!" the olive green haired boy exclaimed as he jumped behind his childhood friend and gripped her shoulder with one hand.
Nagisa turned towards the two, the flashlight was turned upright at his face, giving him somewhat of a ghostly appearance. "Sorry." he apologized with an innocent smile on his face. "My foot hit an empty can."
Haru stared blankly at the blonde while Makoto, who was still behind her, slightly glared at him.
"You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?!" the tall man yelled as they all continued walking through the hallway.
"You were always scared of the dark." Nagisa commented.
"You're not helping any at all!"
Unknown to the trio, a dark silhouette was watching them, specifically a certain ravenette, from behind a corner.
"This brings back memories." Nagisa said as they all arrived at the old locker rooms.
"It's not as trashed inside much as I expected." Makoto remarked as they all looked through other rooms.
"This is..." the short blonde said as the trio entered a familiar room.
"The lounge." Makoto said as they walked into the room.
"Hurry up!" Nagisa called from where he was, a wall with photo frames hanging on it.
The two childhood friends went over to the blonde and all bent down and looked at a certain picture that had caught his eye.
"This is the picture from when we won the relay." Nagisa said, pointing at the picture.
The photo was of Haru, Rin, Makoto, and Nagisa when they were younger. The redhead boy was smiling widely and had his arm around the girl's shoulder, holding the trophy in his other arm. Haru had her head turned away from the camera with her usual emotionless face, she was smiling happily on the inside though. Makoto was standing besides her with a small smile while he made a peace sign. As for Nagisa, who was the most excited, he held onto Rin's arm and had a fist pumped in the air.
While staring at the picture, Haru suddenly had the memory of the day they won the relay.
Flashback, four years ago
A young Haru was standing on top of the diving block, waiting for Rin to come back from the other. She remembered the statement the young boy said to her on the day he said he was leaving. She adjust her goggles over her eyes and got into position. The second Rin touched the wall, Haru dove into the water. She sped through the water at top speed, which lead them to win the relay and trophy.
"The four of us won this together, so it doesn't make sense for only one of us to take it home." Rin stated as the four young swimmers stared down at the box that was in the hole they had dug, the trophy was laying inside. The redheaded boy picked up the lid and placed it on top of the box, closing it. "So lets put it in a time capsule and dig it up when we're grown up." he said as he looked everyone. However, when he looked at Haru, he grinned. "Romantic, huh?"
Haru was slightly taken aback by that. She quickly got over it and turned her head to the side, her face going back to her usual emotionless expression. However, if you looked closer, a small, barely noticeable, pink blush had appeared on her cheeks.
"Haru, let's go." Makoto's voice brought the ravenette back from her reminiscing.
"Yeah..." Haru said before she gazed at the picture one last time before she and her male companions continued walking through the old buildings hallway.
"Do you think the marker is still there?" Nagisa asked as he led the way with his flashlight.
"Can we pick up the pace a little?" Makoto asked as he walked behind his childhood friend, holding on to the back of her hoodie.
Then he suddenly stopped, causing Haru to stop walking as well. When she looked at the taller boy, she saw he was looking down a corridor. She turned to head to look down as well and saw a figure at the end. She also heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Makoto flinched, giving a small squeak-like sound, when he saw the figure coming towards them.
When the figure's head rose up, Haru caught sight of a red eye, which caused her breath to hitch and her own eyes to widen slightly.
"Yo." the figure greeted in a deep, male voice when he reached the trio.
"Huh? Who's there?" Nagisa asked, confused.
"I can't tell." Makoto said.
"I didn't think I'd run into you guys here." the figure said as he slipped his finger into the back of the cap he was wearing and released it.
Realization dawned on the two boys.
"Rin/Rin-chan!" they cried out in unison.
When he took off his cap, showing his entire face, a bored expression was seen on the Matsuoka Rin's face.
"You're back from Australia!" Nagisa said as he grabbed the taller boy's arm, a wide smile was on his face.
"What are you doing here, though?" Makoto asked, confused and surprised.
However, Rin didn't pay them any attention, as he was too busy staring at the tall ravenette, who was staring right back at him.
"This must be fate!" Nagisa said. "Some unseen force must have brought us all here at this exact-"
"Haru, are you still hanging out with these guys?" Rin asked the young woman, cutting off the blonde.
Makoto and Nagisa stared at the redhead, surprised by his sudden question. As for Haru, she just staring at him with a straight face.
When he didn't get a reply, Rin chuckled. "You never learn."
"What are you talking about, Rin?" Makoto asked, not sure what the redhead meant.
"And what about you? Have you learned anything?" Haru, finally speaking, asked in monotone as she pushed one of her bangs out of her face.
"Haru?" the olive haired teen said, confused by the young woman's question.
"I'm glad you asked." Rin, smirking, said as he put one of his hands behind his neck, stretching it out, as well as cracking it. "Why don't I show you? Let's race, Haru." he said as he motioned with his cap for the slightly shorter girl to follow him as he walked to where the old pool was.
"Race?" Makoto repeated.
Haru walked pass her male companions and started following the redhead.
"Wait, Haru!" the olive green haired teen called out, trying to stop his childhood friend but did not succeed.
"Did they just ditch us?" Nagisa asked as he and the taller boy watched the young male and female walk ahead of them.
"Looks like it." Makoto said.
The two looked at each other for a few seconds.
"Wait!" they both called out as the rushed after the other two.
"I'll show you how different we are now." Rin stated as took off his shirt, exposing his muscular torso, and tossed it aside.
"Sure. Go ahead." Haru said in monotone.
"They're going to swim here?" Nagisa asked, gaping in surprise with Makoto.
"Wait, hold on a second." the olive green haired teen said softly.
Haru grabbed the end of her hoodie with one hand, and used her other to undo the belt on her jeans.
"Haru, that's a bad idea!" Makoto exclaimed when he saw what the female was doing.
The ravenette ignored her childhood friend. She pulled her hoodie over her head and tossed aside, as well as allowing her jeans to fall to the ground, exposing her black, with purple stripes running down the sides, and backless one piece swimsuit.
"Wait, have you been wearing that the entire day?!" Makoto yelled in disbelief.
"Rin-chan too?" Nagisa said, causing the taller boy to turn his gaze towards the redhead, who was stretching out his legs while wearing long black, with red stripes, swimming trunks.
"We have to stop them!" the olive green haired teen said as he faced the shorter boy.
"Do we really?" Nagisa asked, a look of innocence on his face.
Then the two swimmers starting waking towards the diving blocks, looking straight at each other. Their walking soon turned into running and they jumped onto the blocks.
"Let's do this, Haru!" Rin exclaimed as he placed the goggles he had over his eyes. Both he and the young female got into a position to dive in. "Ready, go-" the redhead stopped when he and Haru noticed that there was no water in the pool.
"There isn't any water." Nagisa stated as he shone his flashlight on a spot in the waterless pool, a small mouse running away when the light shone on it.
"That's why I told you both to stop." Makoto sighed.
Rin 'tsked' as he got off his block and started walking away. "Lame." he growled softly.
Haru got off of her block and looked towards the redhead, who was looking through his bag for something.
"Oh, yeah. Did you guys come here for this?" Rin asked as he swung his jacket over his shoulder and tossed a familiar trophy in the air before he caught.
"Oh, our trophy." Nagisa stated the obvious.
"I don't need this thing anymore." the redhead said as his eyes seem to go dark, staring at the trophy that symbolized the group's friendship and victory. Then he started to walk off, dropping the trophy to the ground without a care in the world.
"Hey!" Makoto exclaimed as he and Nagisa tried to catch the trophy before it fell.
However, it ended up on the ground anyway.
"Rin-chan..." the short blonde said as they all watched the redhead's retreating figure. "He's kinda changed."
Unknown to him and Makoto, Haru was staring at the leaving swimmer with a slightly saddened expression.
Haru opened her eyes and found herself laying on the grass at her school, her arms resting behind her head. "A dream?" she questioned with a blank face.
"No, it wasn't a dream!" Makoto, who was sitting besides the ravenette with Nagisa, exclaimed.
"I don't get it though." the short blonde said, crossing his arms. "Rin-chan was acting really strange."
"Look-alike." Haru suggested.
Makoto sweatdropped. "Why would a look-alike challenge you to a race?" he asked.
"It was a ghost, then." the tall girl said as she closed her eyes and turned on her side, her back now facing the boys.
"He wasn't floating." Nagisa pointed out.
"Oh, that takes me back!" Makoto said. "We used to do that at the swimming club! Super Fusion: Doppelga-"
"Makoto, keep it down." Haru cut off her childhood friend in a lazy voice while Nagisa yawned.
"What's wrong with you guys?!" the olive green haired teen exclaimed as he stood up.
"Sorry, I wasn't listening." the short blonde apologized, feigning innocence, as he turned in his position to face the taller boy.
As for Haru, she pulled herself into a sitting position to also face her childhood friend.
"Hey!" Makoto whined.
As the three carried on with whatever they were doing, a familiar redheaded girl stood a few feet away and watched them with interest.
"Do you know those guys?" a brunette asked as she came over to stand next to the other female.
"Uh-huh." Gou nodded.
"Don't you remember, Haru?" Makoto asked the ravenette.
"No." Haru replied simply, causing the blonde boy to laugh.
"What? Why not?"
"Must be a generation gap." Nagisa teased.
"I'm only one year older than you! And Haru's the same age as me! " the olive green haired teen shouted.
"Nanase Haruka. Tachibana Makoto. Hazuki Nagisa. What they all have in common is that they all used to belong to the same swimming club. And, aside from Nanase Haruka, they are boys with girlish names." Gou explained.
"What's your relationship with them?" Hana asked/whispered in her friend's ear.
"That's a secret." the redhead girl said, placing a finger to her lips.
"That means you have something in common with them, too." the brunette whispered again. "Since you're a girl with a boyish name."
"Seriously. Stop calling me Gou!" Gou yelled in annoyance.
"Come on!" a male voice sighed from the faculty office.
Inside, a teacher was scolding Makoto and Nagisa when he heard about their late night trip to the abandoned swimming club.
"The place may be abandoned, but it is still trespassing if you enter it without permission! Do you understand?"
"I apologize." Makoto said, bowing his head slightly.
"We're sorry." Nagisa said, bowing his head slightly as well.
The teacher sighed. Then he noticed something, or someone, was missing. "Huh? Where's Nanase?"
"She left early this afternoon." the olive green haired teen replied.
"Again?" the teacher groaned.
"Now, now. I think that's enough." Ms. Amakata said as she went over to the three. "Think back to what Li Bai once said." she stuck her finger in the air. "In human life, accomplishment must bring total joy. Do not allow an empty goblet face the moon. You only have one life, so you should do what you want. It would be foolish not to drink from the glass placed before you. Right?"
After the teacher finished quoting, the students and other teacher just stared her.
"Huh?" Ms. Amakata became slightly worried that she did, or said, something wrong.
"Matsuoka Rin, Matsuoka Rin..." Nagisa mumbled to himself as he tried to find said name on the row of lockers he was looking through. "Does he really go to our school?"
"If he's back from Australia, he might have transferred into our school." Makoto said as he searched through the nameplates of different lockers.
"But I didn't see him at the opening ceremony." Nagisa remarked from his spot, which was on the other side of the room.
While the short blonde said that, the taller boy peered through one row of lockers. Then he gasped when he found 'Matsuoka' on one of the lockers.
"Found him!" Makoto exclaimed.
"Really?" Nagisa asked as he rushed over to where the olive green haired teen was.
"No, hold on." Makoto said as he looked at the name again. "Matsuoka Gou? he read from the nameplate. "That sounds familiar..." he thought for a few moments until he remember the girl with red hair and eyes he saw. "I remember now! That was Rin's little sister, Matsuoka Gou!"
Haru sat in her bathtub, wearing her swimsuit like always, tapping her foot a few times. She heard the sound of the doorbell ringing. However, she ignored it and submerged her entire head under the water, the top of her legs sticking out.
Outside the house, Gou stood in front of the door after she rang the doorbell a few times. After waiting a few moments without getting an answer, the young girl sighed silently to herself and turned around to walk around. However, she stopped when she saw Makoto and Nagisa standing a few feet away from her, both smiling.
The three teenagers moved from Haru's house and where now sitting under a small gazebo that had a view of the ocean.
"So you chose Iwatobi High School, Gou-chan." Nagisa said to the redhead girl.
"Don't call me Gou." Gou frowned. "Everybody calls me Kou."
"Huh? Why?" the blonde asked, genuinely confused. "Your name is Gou, like the Sengoku warlord Azai Nagamasa's third daughter, right?"
"Yeah..." the young girl muttered. "But the typical reading is Kou, so call me that. That would be the nice thing to do."
"Uh, putting that stuff aside..." Makoto finally spoke up, slightly nervous when he two freshman started to argue.
"That stuff?" Gou repeated, narrowing her at the taller boy, making him flinch.
"Sorry." the olive green haired teen apologized quietly. "But what are doing at Haru's place?"
"Oh..." the redheaded girl spoke hesitantly a for a second as she scratched her cheek slightly. "I wanted to ask her about my Onii-chan."
"So Rin is really back from Australia?" Makoto asked.
"He returned last month and he's attending Samezuka Academy now. It's a boarding school, so he hasn't come home."
"Samezuka?" Makoto repeated in amazement. "The swimming powerhouse?"
"No." Haru said, without hesitation, to the two boys who were in her house, rubbing her wet head with a towel, her face blank.
"Let's visit Samezuka Academy!" Nagisa insisted.
"Don't you want to see Rin?" Makoto asked.
"We saw him yesterday." the ravenette stated.
The olive green haired teen sighed. "Here I was starting to think you had finally get to swim if you came. Samezuka is supposed to have an indoor pool."
The second she heard the word 'pool', Haru stopped drying her hair and gazed up at the taller boy with a hopeful look in her eyes.
That evening, the trio was seating in a train car, waiting to get to their destination. A sleeping Makoto was slumped over in his seat while a sleeping Nagisa was leaning his head on Haru's shoulder. As the two slept, the young woman turned her gaze to the trains window, watching the scenery go by with her usual expressionless face.
After the train ride, the three students finally made it to Samezuka Academy.
"Do you see Rin-chan?" Nagisa asked as he and Makoto looked through a window, giving them a view of the people swimming in the academy's indoor pool.
"I don't see him." the olive green haired teen replied. "Maybe he's out today." he looked over his shoulder. "Hey, Haru..."
He stopped when he saw that his childhood friend had started to take off her uniform, only standing there in her white unbuttoned shirt, exposing part of her swimsuit, her bow-tie, her skirt, and her socks and shoes.
"Don't take your clothes here!" Makoto exclaimed as he stopped the young woman from removing her skirt.
"You're the one who brought me here to swim!" Haru said, a slight scowl on her face.
"Hold on, Haru." Nagisa spoke up. "Let's wait until practice is over with and everyone else is gone. Okay?"
"We'll still trespassing." Makoto pointed out.
"It'll be fine." the blonde reassured the taller boy, winking as he stuck his finger in the air. "That teacher earlier told us to do want we want with out li-"
He stopped when he and Makoto saw Haru pulling down her skirt, now standing there in her swimsuit.
"Can't you wait?!" the olive green haired teen exclaimed.
Later that night, everyone in the academy's swimming club had returned to their dorm rooms, leaving the indoor pool empty.
"I think this it a bad idea." Makoto remarked as he, Haru, and Nagisa walked into the building. Then he noticed his childhood friend had already taken off her clothes, leaving her standing there in her backless one piece. "Wait!" he cried out.
Haru ignored him and quickly jumped into the pool with a large splash.
"Come on..." the olive green haired teen sighed as he and the short blonde watched the young woman swim through the water gracefully.
"Haru-chan still reminds me of a dolphin." Nagisa commented. He turned to the taller boy. "Mako-chan, let's join her."
"Hell no!" Makoto shouted. "We'll get in trouble if we're found out. Anyway, we need to look for Rin."
"We can take a little dip first." the short blonde said as he removed his uniform. "Nobody will find us if we don't turn on the lights."
"But you didn't bring a swimsuit." the olive green haired boy pointed out.
"A little skinny dipping, then." Nagisa said as he took off his underwear as well.
"What?!" Makoto exclaimed, his mouth gaping in shock.
"I can swim!"
"Hey, wait! Haru's in there!"
The short blonde ignored the older boy and jumped into the water with a loud splash. Makoto just stood there and facepalmed.
"Mako-chan, come over here." Nagisa called from his spot in the pool.
"What now?" the young man asked as he walked over to end of the pool. "I'm not going to join you-"
He was cut off when a hand grab his foot and pulled him forward.
"You got to be kidding me!" Makoto yelled as he fell forward into the pool with a large splash.
Nagisa laughed as the older boy rose from the water, pointing his finger at him. "You look like elephant falling in."
"Seriously..." Makoto said as he shook a little bit from anger. Then he threw off his uniform shirt and started advancing on the blonde. "Nagisa..."
"Take this!" Nagisa exclaimed as he splashed water the older boy.
"There!" the olive green haired teen splashed him back.
While the two boys splashed each other back and forth, Haru had stopped swimming through the water and was now floating freely through it. Her eyes were closed with an expression of pure ecstasy on her face, her long hair fanning out in the water. Suddenly, the loud sound of a door opening and closing echoed throughout the building.
"What are you guys doing here?" Rin, wearing his school uniform, asked as he walked towards the pool.
"Rin!" Makoto said as he and the blonde ceased their splashing.
"We came here to see you." Nagisa stated.
"Get out!" the redhead yelled harshly, surprising the other boys.
Suddenly, Haru rose from the water in front of Makoto and Nagisa, her head bowed down.
"Free..." she said quietly.
"Huh?" Rin responded, slightly confused from what the young woman said.
"Did you forget?" the ravenette asked, her head still down. "I told you that I only swim freestyle."
'About three more years until I'm ordinary.' Haru thought as she pulled herself out of the pool. 'I guess it wouldn't hurt to wait a little bit longer.' she shook her head back and forth a few times before she stopped and, with a flick of her wrist, flicked her hair out of her face. Then she looked at the redhead. "I want you to show me that sight again." she said, a small smile gracing her lips. "I've forgotten what it was that I saw."
Rin stared at the slightly shorter girl, a bit shocked from what she said and the sudden small smile.
"Sure, I can do that." he said fiercely. "But it won't be the same this time. I'll be showing you something completely different."
The two swimmers stared at one another.
To be continued...