6/22/15 Author's Note: Temporarily reuploaded for the summer! I'm currently traveling around and don't have time to follow through with the plans I had for this, so the original version is back up for now. This might possibly be a less edited/revised version than what used to be up, since I am pulling this from a backed up file on my computer. Apologies for any proofreading errors that may remain. Hope everyone has a great summer (if it's summer where you are) and that you get to spend lots of time in the pool! See you next water time!~
"Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
It all started when Haruka first learned how to sink.
"You do realize that all you have to do is blow the air out of your lungs first, don't you?" his college teammate, John, said to him.
Haruka looked up at him blankly from where he was standing in the campus pool, an automatic pool vacuum tucked under his arm. Evening practice had been over for twenty minutes and the sun was setting. As soon as everyone had cleared out, Haruka had gone to the maintenance closet and grabbed the pool vacuum. He was fed up with the incompetent lack of consistency with which his precious pool was getting cleaned. How on earth was he supposed to feel free when every lap he swam required staring at sticks and debris and—God forbid—band-aids, littering the bottom of the lanes? For once, he saw the wisdom behind his high school friend Mako's choice in the backstroke.
He supposed this was what he got for accepting a swimming scholarship to an American university, in California of all places…one surefire way to guarantee an outdoor campus pool. Not that the runaway band-aids ever lessened even in an indoor pool…what was WITH people always wearing band-aids into the pool?!
And so Haruka had dragged the pool vacuum over to the lanes, hooked it up, and promptly jumped into the pool with it. Which was totally unnecessary. The thing was automatic, after all.
John had lingered behind to see what his teammate was up to. He watched for a few minutes, unsurprised, as the raven-haired young man dove to the bottom of the pool and proceeded to manually push the vacuum along the bottom. After two and a half years of training together, John had become familiar with Haruka's odd hydrophilic tendencies that seemed to defy all reason and rationale. So he kept his mouth shut and didn't say the obvious—which was that the vacuum could run by itself, without anyone having to get in the water with it. However, once he noticed Haruka's awkward attempts to stay at the bottom without floating upwards, he could stay silent no longer.
As smooth as Haruka looked when he was swimming freestyle, he was now flailing like a penguin.
"Haven't you ever done this as a kid?" John continued, as Haruka stood in the pool, staring at the vacuum in his arm and processing his teammate's first statement. "Exhale all the air in your lungs, so you can sink to the bottom of the pool and just hang out there?"
Sink? Haruka hadn't even known that it was possible to sink in water (unless you were Rei). Floating had always come naturally to him.
Without a word, he promptly exhaled all the oxygen from his lungs, and dove back under with the vacuum. He found himself sinking easily to the bottom and staying there.
John waited patiently on deck as Haruka proceeded to steadily propel himself across the bottom of the pool like a sea cucumber on steroids, trailing the vacuum after himself. A minute later, the boy resurfaced.
"You don't have to wait up for me," he said to John stonily, his mouth barely out of the water.
John shrugged and turned to go. "Don't drown!" he called over his shoulder, then quietly laughed to himself at what an irony that would be.
Haruka sank back under the water, bubbles blowing out of his mouth as he released all of his air once more. This was a useful trick, he thought to himself as he looked up at the sky through the lens of water. Cleaning duty momentarily forgotten, he closed his eyes and splayed out languidly on the bottom of the pool. He was content. Now he could be fully submerged in the water, without any struggle. He could be one with the water. He could be free.
Forty seconds later this sentiment was shattered, when a disrupting splash erupted next to him and a pair of arms started to roughly pull him upwards.
Christine was typically a very calm individual. But she completely panicked when she saw the body in the pool.
Sure, she had worked summers as a lifeguard back when she was still in high school. She had once even supervised a pool party for the little kids from her mother's church, all on her own. But all that meant was sitting lazily in a lifeguard chair and getting a tan. She never actually had to save anybody before. All she ever had to save was a five pound brick in order to pass the lifeguard test.
A brick was not a human.
All these thoughts passed through her head in the space of a second. By then, she found that she had already impulsively kicked off her shoes. It seemed only logical, then, to run to the edge of the pool and dive in. So she did.
She had barely gotten her arms around the victim's torso when she suddenly remembered what the next step was supposed to be. Did she remember CPR? She frantically racked her brain. She kind of remembered CPR. Not really. She was about to panic even more when something caught her attention.
The body she was lugging to the surface was not deadweight. In fact, said body was actually swimming…swimming out of her grasp. Swimming very capably.
She broke the surface and stared into deep blue eyes.
"Are you okay?" She gulped in air. "I thought—I thought you were—"
"You know," said the boy coldly—for it was a boy, she realized now. "I can swim."
She stared at him. Something clicked in her brain—a memory of one lone face in the back of her morning class, a recollection of whispered gossip in the hallways—and recognition dawned on her face.
"Haruka Nanase," she stated. "The kid from Japan with a full swimming scholarship."
He said nothing, just coolly returned her stare.
Christine was painfully aware of the irony of this situation. She had just tried to save someone, who was probably a hundred times better of a swimmer than she was, from drowning. She thought about laughing. But then she remembered that she was fully clothed, standing in the middle of a pool. In front of a guy in a Speedo. There was only one of them here who didn't look crazy, and she was losing any hope of it possibly being her.
To burst into laughter at this point would not win her any sanity points.
"Well." She tried to muster up the minimal amount of dignity that she had left. "This is embarrassing."