Author's Note: I've taken a few liberties with how the universe (both the Free! one and the real one) work for set-up purposes, but bear with me here, please. And hold your horses on any opinions of the pairings. There's lots of character development in the works! Despite appearances, I don't want to start a flame war, so please, wait until about chapter four before attack pairings. Things change. Fast. Please enjoy, and review! (I need all the help I can get!)
Summer's come again. So what does that mean for us? Well, it means more training. More competitions. More time to swim. More fun times together. And, for me, it means one thing more than anything else. More muscles. More triceps, more abs, more pecs, more deltoids, the lot. People thought I was weird for joining a swim club, being the only girl and all. But that makes it all the more fun. I don't have to share my view with anyone else.
You might have noticed I have a bit of thing for muscles. Well, there's nothing quite like a well-cut guy. What kind of self-respecting second-year high school girl doesn't love a guy with a six pack and arms to spare? But… that doesn't mean that a guy has to have muscles to be attractive. I guess. There's this guy I like… and, well, he's not exactly un-muscular, but for a swimmer, one could expect better. But, somehow, when the four of them swim together, he's the most fun to watch. Rei-kun is the most muscular, but his non-stop theory babble makes my head hurt, and it makes him swim a little weird. Makoto-senpai is the most thickset. His shoulders are the broadest, he's the tallest and probably the most welcoming personality of the four. And his back… dear God, sexy doesn't begin to describe it. Haruka-senpai swims the most gracefully, and is the most… shapely, I guess. I don't know if that's good word to describe a guy. But even though Rei-kun and Makoto-senpai have bigger muscles, there's something about the way Haruka-senpai's shoulders taper into his stomach and then his stomach into his hips that makes him really sweet eye candy. But even then…
Even though he's the least muscular of them, even though he's the shortest, even though he'd never listen when I asked him to call me Kou, even though his hair is frustratingly blonde for a guy, even though sometimes I think he's a two-year-old hiding in a sixteen-come-seventeen-year-old's body, I just can't stop looking at Nagisa-kun.
Summer has come again. That is to say, the Earth has rotated through the 360-degree circle that decides what season falls when. And now that Japan is facing the sun again, the Iwatobi swim club can finally return to the training pool. Too soon will not be soon enough. I've been studying the theory, and practicing my form in the air. In fact, the other night, I woke up in the middle of night because I had accidentally swum myself off my bed. It's been too long since the four of us were in a pool together.
Nagisa-kun and his bubbly breaststroke, reaching out just that little bit further to try and get to the line first. It's been a while since I've seen it. Makoto-senpai's strong, if uneven, backstroke, dynamic, leaving behind the competition like they weren't even in the pool. I've always found it somewhat odd that it was so effective, even though it was so irregular. And Haruka-senpai's impossibly beautiful freestyle. There is no more to be said. The way he moves through the water is aesthetic perfection. I'm glad that I've been able to swim the three of them. It's been a blessing, and even though I was a beginner, they slowly coached me until I was the best I could be. And I was no easy student, that much is beyond question. But even then, there's one thing I'm looking forward to most.
Even though she never gets in the pool, even though she's not a swimmer, even though her hair is uncomfortably red, even though she is not theoretically beautiful, I'm looking forward to spending time with Gou-san again.
Summer's back! Hmm… it's been such a long time, hasn't it? I wonder if the others have been working harder than me at keeping in shape? I haven't been slacking! It's just, during winter, it's so cold, and I can't build up the motivation to do anything by myself. So I still went for runs with them at club meetings and stuff, but not much more. I wonder how they're doing?
Well, it wouldn't matter to Haru-chan. He'd swim in a blizzard, so even though he mightn't be in exactly top shape, he certainly is not going to be out of practice. Mako-chan… well, he's been running around after Haru-chan this whole time, trying to keep him in check, I'll bet. Those two should totally be a couple. In retrospect, I kind of regret taking the tent with Haru-chan on training camp last year. It would have been really interesting to see where it went. And, what's more, I would have been with Rei-chan. He's a character, all right. If any of us will be in top form, it's him. He's been studying theory, he's been practising his stroke, he's been running the last leg of the journey to school every day. I can hear him saying it now. But even then…
Even though he's a little odd, even though sometimes I wish he'd shut up about theory and just do it, even though he's really strict, even though he's a bit of a nerd, the thing I'm most excited about is seeing Rei-chan's butterfly.
Well, I guess summer's back, isn't it? Finally time to actually start swimming again. It's a real shame that this is going to the last year for Haru and I. We only just got started again, too. Oh, well, there's life after school, isn't there? We'll keep swimming together, I think. And then one more year and Nagisa and Rei will there to join us. It'll be just like old times.
Oh, listen to me. I'm saying old times like they're already over, aren't I? Well, we have to make the best of what we have. I won't think about after school until school finishes. I've still got this time, and I intend to use every second of it for as much as I can. This time with Rei and his theories and whack taste in swimsuits. I still don't know where he found the giant butterfly-wing-thing he tried on. Or, for that matter, how it stayed on. But, the past is past. Now is now, the now with Nagisa. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with that kid. He'll get himself into trouble one day with the way he goes on. But, now I'm thinking about the future again, aren't I? I've still got now with Haru. But even then…
Even though I know we'll still be together after school, even though we've been together since we were kids, even though hardly anything's changed in a full however-long-it's-been since we've known each other, and even though I know we'll stay together for another however-long, I don't want this time with Haru to end.
Summer's back. Finally. I can finally go swimming in the ocean, in the outdoor pool, wherever I like, and Makoto won't be there like he's my wife telling me I'll get sick. Well, I don't mind it. He's always been like that. And he will be for some time to come, I think. It's a bit soon to be third-years, for me anyway. I feel like I started high school yesterday, all of a sudden. And I only got to be in the swim club for two years. After so long, only two years.
I can always swim after school. And I know Makoto will swim with me, because he sticks to me like glue. And Nagisa and Rei will tag along after they finish school, or I hope so, anyway. It means a lot more to me when I'm with them. But it means the most when I'm with him.
Even though he's from a different school, even though he competes for another team, even though he can be a downright bastard sometimes, even though he upped and left with no warning when we were kids, I want to swim a relay with Rin.
Summer's here, huh? Great… it took its sweet time. I don't know how I managed to swangle it, but someone at Samezuka must have wanted me out, because when I asked to transfer to Iwatobi, I was out the door faster than they could open it. Well, I guess that little stunt with the relay last year didn't hurt. Some might say I'm stupid, and I probably am. It's third year, after all. A lot rides on it. But I know for a fact I couldn't concentrate on my studies with a gun on my head unless I did this. A chance to swim with those guys again…
Haru and his stupid little "I only swim free" rant. He still says like we don't get it yet. It's only been what, ten years? Twelve? There's only so many times you can hear the same thing before you stop wanting to know about it. Makoto and his little happy-families thing. I swear he thinks he's both of Haru's parents, and probably Nagisa's too. But when you've got somebody as childish as that little blonde kid is, he needs a parent everywhere he goes. My little sister's there, too. It'll be good to speak to her a little more. We grew apart when I went to Australia and never really got over it. But I want to make sure I've cleaned up all the loose strings before school's over. And speaking of loose strings, there's one person I owe a special favour.
Even though he can't swim butterfly, even though he's just a beginner, even though he'll never make to the Olympics, even though sometimes he does the most pointless things, I will never be able to thank Ryuugazaki Rei enough.
More Author's Note: My apologies to those who attempted to read the travesty that this chapter originally was. My internet had a hissy fit over the formatting I use in Word to write this, and I was too air-headed to notice. I shall pay closer attention from now on! Thank you for your time! (Sorry if it wasn't worth it!)