(This chapter skips forward in time to after the end of Free! Season 1, to the events in "Kuroko no Free" when the bus full of kindergarteners crashes off a bridge into the ocean, and Kuroko, who between last chapter and this one, has trained and become very good at free diving. This is Rin's side of the bridge incident.)
Chapter 3: Light To The Unaware
When Rin pulled Tetsuya to the surface, he immediately knew it was bad. Rin could tell at a glance that the younger boy wasn't breathing, and Tetsuya's skin, already far too pale, was turning blue. His lips were tinged with the cold color, and beneath his eyes were very pale blue circles, where most people got dark circles when they were too tired.
"Shit!" cursed Rin, kicking as hard as he could, trying to drag his precious burden to the boat that had come to help, when the boat owner saw that school bus drive off the side of the bridge. Belatedly, he remembered the school bus driver, who Tetsuya had made that final dive back down to save. But he needn't have wasted time thinking about him. Tetsuya's wrist was clamped around the bus driver's, his grip like iron even in unconsciousness. That kid's resolve was the stuff of legend. No one could have predicted from looking at him just how incredible he was.
Not that Rin had time to muse over that now. Not now, with Tetsuya laying there, unbreathing in his arms.
A splash caught his attention. Nitori just dove back into the water and was swimming toward him to help. Not that Rin needed it. He would have preferred that Nitori stay in the boat to help him haul Tetsuya and the bus driver up when he reached it, but there was nothing he could do about that now. Rather than waste breath on it, he only nodded in thanks to Nitori when his kouhai reached him and tried to take the bus driver.
Amusingly, he had to pry Tetsuya's fingers free, one by one. At any other time, Rin would have probably laughed. But now the situation was too grave.
Annoyance flared inside him when he saw that the small boat owner's son, or nephew, or apprentice, or whatever, was filming them on his cell phone rather than helping. Even when Rin reached the boat, instead of putting down his stupid phone and helping them up, the idiot kept filming. The boat owner himself seemed to have his hands full of sobbing kindergarteners, so Rin had to wait until Nitori reached him, then shoved Tetsuya toward him.
"Keep his head up," ordered Rin, then he hauled himself quickly out of the water and reached back down for Tetsuya.
The smaller boy's skin was slippery, but thankfully Tetsuya wasn't very heavy, even with all the muscles that swimming had blessed him with. Rin didn't have time to be overly gentle, but he took enough care to make sure that he didn't hit Tetsuya's head on anything when he laid him down on the deck. Then he reached back down to grab the unconscious bus driver and haul him out too. Nitori clambered onto the deck right after him.
"Check the bus driver. I've got Tetsuya," said Rin urgently as he dropped to his knees beside the smaller boy. He placed two fingers against Tetsuya's throat, trying to find a pulse. "Come on. Come on."
Tetsuya hadn't been under very long, on this last dive. Relatively speaking. He had breathed in water and drowned, Rin knew, but he hadn't gone without breathing that long. He should have still had a heartbeat. But he didn't. Rin's panic grew as he failed to find even a thready pulse. Then he stomped it down and proceeded to administer CPR, mentally blessing his former captain, Mikoshiba, for requiring all Samezuka swimmers to pass a lifeguard certification test. Without that, Rin would have only been relying on scant knowledge from health class and trying to imitate how he'd seen people do it on TV.
Beside him, Nitori was doing the same to the bus driver. Rin could hear him counting as he pressed down on the older man's chest, trying to get his heart to restart.
This is going to be awkward when you wake up to me putting my lips on yours, thought Rin at Tetsuya, giving him some emergency breaths then returning to chest compressions. I just hope you don't throw up into my mouth, because I'll probably throw up right back on you.
Naturally, Tetsuya didn't answer, since Rin hadn't spoken aloud, and he wasn't even conscious to begin with.
After a few moments, the bus driver was coughing up water and swearing, Nitori talking to him soothingly, telling him everything was going to be alright, and that he was okay now. And Tetsuya was still just lying there on the deck, looking even paler and more like a drowned corpse, and Rin was growing more and more panicked.
"Come on. Come on, Tetsuya," Rin muttered as he gave him more chest compressions. "Breathe, damn you."
"Rin-senpai?" Nitori asked hesitantly.
"He's not fucking breathing! It's not fucking working!" Rin shouted.
Nitori dropped to his knees beside Tetsuya's head and took over rescue breathing, taking care to readjust Tetsuya's head, and making sure the airway was open before proceeding. Rin realized that he'd never tried that and wanted to kick himself. If that's what the problem was . . . if he'd screwed up, then it was his fault Tetsuya was still going without oxygen.
"Please wake up," said Rin, giving him more chest compressions. "Please, Tetsuya. You've got to wake up."
Nitori checked for a pulse then shook his head and breathed for Tetsuya again.
"Are you sure that's going to work?" asked the boat owner's son/nephew/idiot.
"Shut up," growled Rin.
"Because he looks dead."
"I said shut up!"
"Rin-senpai, calm down," Nitori said, showing spine in the face of their current emergency.
Rin grit his teeth and went back to work.
Tetsuya had to be alright. He had to.
As the wrecked school bus sank lower and lower, it had been Tetsuya who'd dived down time and again, deeper and deeper, making sure that all the kids and the driver had gotten out of it. Even when it sunk too deep for Rin to make it down again, Tetsuya had still made three more dives, pulling people out each time. The skills he'd honed for free diving had served him well, saving those people. But now, Rin realized with horror, they were probably what was killing him.
Tetsuya had spent the better part of the past twenty minutes underwater, using his free diving skills, surfacing sporadically. The carbon dioxide had to have been building up inside his blood stream, essentially working toward smothering him before he actually drowned. Was it already too late to save him? Had it already been too late before Rin even got him to the surface?
Nitori must have read his expression, because he spoke up.
"We can't quit, Rin-senpai. Remember our training. Once you start, you don't stop. Not until someone more qualified takes over."
Or the situation becomes unsafe to continue. Or if the people administering CPR became unable to continue due to exhaustion. That last one was seemed more likely than its predecessor. Rin could feel exhaustion tearing at him. He'd done what he could to dive down to the bus, but it had been too deep, and he didn't have any deepwater diving training. He'd only been able to get to the rapidly sinking bus twice, but had tried a third time, even when he knew he wouldn't make it. Then he'd swam partway down when during Tetsuya's last dive he'd been under so long that Rin knew something was wrong, and had to drag him back to the surface. That had taken its toll on him. Now Rin was starting to feel dizzy. Even though Nitori was breathing for Tetsuya, just giving chest compressions was becoming exhausting.
"Fight," Rin whispered, unsure if he was talking to himself or Tetsuya. "Don't give up. Fight through it."
Tetsuya remained unmoving and unconscious.
"Don't give up. Damn you, wake up!"
Sometime during their attempts to revive Tetsuya, the boat had started moving. They were nearing the shore and Rin could hear the sirens of an ambulance. That gave him heart. Help was near. The people who worked in the ambulance would have a greater arsenal of life saving tools, like adrenaline syringes and defibrillators. They would have a better chance of getting Tetsuya's heart started again, and getting him breathing.
Somehow, Rin managed to hold on until then, keeping up the rhythm of chest compressions, tenaciously refusing to give into exhaustion. Then, the next thing he knew, the paramedics had come aboard the boat and were pushing him back. Rin almost fought against them until he realized what was happening. Then he stumbled away, just far enough to make sure they had space, but close enough that he could still see Tetsuya clearly, blue lips and all, and if something happened, he was close enough to reach him.
And Nitori . . . God, when had Nitori turned into such a grown up? Because Nitori was calmly giving the paramedics a report on the situation, what had happened, how long Tetsuya had been under, how long they'd been trying to revive him, and then once that was finished, he started corralling the kindergarteners, getting them off the boat and away from Tetsuya and the paramedics, who were setting up a defibrillator, having decided immediately to try that considering what Nitori had told them.
Rin watched numbly as they shocked his younger friend. When that didn't produce a pulse, the medic administered a dose of pure adrenaline. Rin flinched and had to turn away when he saw them stab the needle directly into Tetsuya's chest, straight into his heart.
"Wake up," he whispered, or prayed. "Wake up. You can't die, Tetsuya. Wake the fuck up."
"Rin-senpai." Nitori was suddenly beside him. Through his numbness, Rin could feel Nitori's hand squeezing his arm. "It's going to be alright."
"You don't know that," choked Rin. "God. He's just a kid, Ai! He's too young for . . . And I owe him too much! Him and the others. If not for them, I would have never . . . He can't die. He just can't! Oh God, what am I going to tell Haru?"
"Don't give up on him, Rin-senpai," pleaded Nitori.
"Tetsuya's like his little brother now. If I let him die –"
"Please don't give up. Not until you know Kuroko-kun has," said Nitori. "If there's one thing we know about Iwatobi, it's that they're all capable of miracles, right?"
Funny things, those.
Rin hadn't ever given them much thought before now, not generally believing in them, but it was kind of true. When you looked at what Haru, Tetsuya, and the rest of the Iwatobi Swim Club had done, reviving their died out swim club, putting together a relay team that had the potential to make it to nationals, with a guy who'd only just learned to swim on it, then sacrificing that opportunity to instead heal Rin . . . and managing to heal him in and of itself was a miracle in itself.
And now, what Tetsuya had done today. Swimming deep was a completely different monster from swimming horizontally, and all Rin's training had been useless for it. He and Nitori alone couldn't have done what Tetsuya had. There weren't a dozen people in all of Japan who could have dived that deep repeatedly, and saved all those kindergarteners, as well as the bus driver. For Tetsuya to have been in just the right place, in just the right time to save them, that had been a miracle.
It would be too cruel if the only casualty this day was the one who'd saved them all.
"Tetsuya . . . wake up," Rin begged him.
Right as the paramedics shocked him again.
And it was as if Tetsuya had heard him.
The smaller boy sat upright with a scream, one hand flying up to try to bat away whatever he felt burning his chest, and coughing, up all the water he'd inhaled when he drowned.
"Tetsuya!" Rin charged forward, shoving aside a medic without even meaning to in order to get to the smaller boy's side faster.
Tetsuya continued coughing up water, gasping and choking on it. Rin grabbed his shoulders and kept him upright until he was done, then pulled him so that he was sitting upright, leaning back against his chest.
"What? No, it's me. Rin."
"Oh." Tetsuya's voice was toneless, neither happy nor relieved. But he did relax slightly against Rin's chest, just for a moment, before jerking forward, tense again. "The children! The bus driver –"
"All safe. All alive," said Nitori.
"Everyone's alive," Rin said. Including you. You were the closest call, you idiot. Learn some self preservation!
But he didn't say everything he thought. He just wrapped his arms around the smaller boy tighter when Tetsuya relaxed back against him.
"You're alive," whispered Rin, finally able to relax a little bit himself. "You're going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay."
Miracles did exist. Rin knew that now for a fact.
(Title of this chapter is from the song by the band Live called "Overcome" whose lyrics fits this AU very well, I think.)
Sorry for the long wait, and for my absence recently. My life has been hectic for the past few months, but I'm working to ease back into the fandom now. :)