Disclaimer: Not mine. If it is, Senel would end up with Chloe, sigh. The unfairness of it all. I think I can finally understand the Cleris' feeling when faced with the Cloti…
AN: It's been a long time since I played the game so they might end up OOC.
She was not a good swimmer. Heck, she couldn't even swim to save her life. So why, Chloe wondered, why was she standing in her swimsuit beside the Lumen Spring with Senel watching her like a hawk and impatiently tapping his foot?
Oh yeah, she asked him to teach her how to swim because the title Drowning Knight was a stain in her record. In her moment of undiluted panic when Senel told her to enter the spring without any tools for floating, the reason was easily forgotten.
"Chloe." The voice was exasperated and on the border of threatening. "Are you going to jump in or not?"
Her real, heartfelt answer was a definite and firm no however in actuality she said, "Yes, I will. Just give me a second."
Senel rolled his eyes. "You've been standing there for ten minutes, Chloe. If you're afraid, just say so."
Chloe glared at him. "Don't mock me, Coolidge. Why should I be afraid of little water?"
This time, he grinned. "Oh I don't know. Maybe because you sink faster than a rock?" His tone was back to light and teasing, something she found weird sometimes. Coolidge never strikes her as a teaser. Maybe all of them were really contaminated with Norma's personality.
Chloe scowled at the sparkling water. Got her self in that one. Strengthening her resolve, she took a deep breath and … put one foot carefully in the water. It was cold and it took all her willpower to not just give up on the spot. Asking Senel for a swimming lesson was her idea after all. And she never fancied on giving up in the middle of anything she do. She was a knight. And a knight has to do her responsibilities as a knight. Backing out was unheard of.
All she had to do was enter the spring and did as Se…, no, Coolidge instructed. It's as simple as training with a sword. Only this time, she would use no weapon in training her body.
Yes, she can do it!
Taking another deep breath, she sat on the spring's shore and put both feet in the water. First, she had to get used to the temperature. An amateur should take easy, little steps at one at a time after all.
Senel rolled his eyes again when he watched Chloe sat on the grass. She's definitely procrastinating. Honestly, if she's afraid, she could tell him. It's not like he's going to tease her if she was. Had she say that she's afraid; he would be kind enough to enter the water first and help her to float. But since she was so stubborn, he wouldn't do anything as well.
Staring at her exposed back, Senel appreciated what the sword training had done to Chloe's body. Trim and slim were the perfect word for her. Of course, she wasn't a knock-out gorgeous like Grune or small and cute like Shirley and Norma but he liked her the way she was. His eyes followed the lean muscle of her back when she bent to scoop the water to the small dip of her back, disappearing to her…
Okay, eyes on her head, Senel. He was not a pervert like Moses and he wouldn't start acting like one. Chloe was Chloe. She was his best friend, the one who understand him and stayed by his side whenever he was down. She was a sparring partner and he shouldn't betray her by thinking perverted thoughts about her. Just because he broke up with Shirley (as a lover, their bond as brother and sister was going strong as ever) didn't mean he can think about another girl, especially if the girl was your best friend, as soon as it was over no matter how much Moses and surprisingly Jay told him to do just that. Norma had been on his case ever since the broke-up.
Senel stared dolefully at the rock beside his feet. It was ironic that his relationship with Shirley was over the moment they did something most lover do. Their kiss had been really awkward and afterwards he was filled with terrible guilt and regret. Guilt because he felt the kiss was wrong and regret because he knew their relationship wouldn't go farther than that. No, even the small peck on the lips was too far for them.
And he knew Shirley realized it too.
Their broke-up was calm and without painful feeling. Will told them to take it slow and easy but he and Shirley knew that no matter how much time passes, they would still be brother and sister. They accepted the fact.
"Coolidge?" Her voice broke his reverie. Senel glanced up to Chloe's worried face and gave a rather dispassionate, "What?"
She gave him the Look. The one that said, I know you're depressed so you can talk to me, but she didn't pursue it. Instead she put on her brave face and said, "I think I'm ready for the lesson."
He bet she's going to regret her words soon.
And she did. Oh boy, did she regret her decision.
As soon as she plunged into the water, cold be damned, she realized that the spring was not as shallow as it look. Shrieking very un-knight-ly, she flailed her hands futilely to keep her head above the water, trying to grasp the grass, ANYTHING, to keep her from drowning. If she was coherent enough, she would also say that she looked very, very pathetic. The sudden splash from her side stopped her shriek for a moment but it renewed when she felt something wrapped around her.
State of panic, stage two. Start.
"Damn it, Chloe. Calm down." Senel's voice carried to her ears and she calmed down considerably. It's just Coolidge, not some monster trying to pull her down deeper to the water.
"Coolidge, you scared me." She exclaimed, relief flooding her. It dismayed her how dealing with water turned her usually bravery into practically none. She slumped against the solid body behind her. Maybe this swimming lesson was a bad idea after all.
"And you kicked me hard enough to leave bruise, so it's fair enough." Senel grumbled. "You're really worse than a rock, Chloe."
"Shut it, Coolidge." Chloe muttered in a mix of embarrassment and anger. Se…, COOLIDGE, was holding her too tight to his body. The skin on skin sensation was too wonderful. NO, NO, NO, Chloe Valens, thou should not think impure thoughts! No matter what, you can't give in to the temptation! You're a knight for God's sake! Scowling, she glared straight ahead to the ruins in the middle of the spring, "I'm not fortunate enough to learn swimming from the Ferines like you."
"I don't think it's going to change anything even if you asked Shirley to teach you." He murmured into her ear, his silver hair tickling her cheek.
This time she couldn't blame the cold for the shiver running through her body. Okay, this was definitely too close.
"Uh, Coolidge, you can let go of me now." She squirmed.
"And letting you drown again? I don't think so." His embrace tightened.
And this time Chloe found it really, really hard not to melt into a puddle of goop right then and there.
On the other hand, Senel was also trying to gather himself. Touching Chloe's bare skin was a totally bad idea. The way her body meld to his and the slight scent he smelled from her hair… he found he liked the feeling way too much to be normal. He never felt like that when he touched Shirley.
His logical side was telling him to let her go before something happen. What that 'something' is, he didn't have the slightest idea. He just knew that it's going to change their relationship. He didn't want that. He liked it the way they were. But telling his body to release his squirming captive was proven to be futile.
"Coolidge?" Her voice was quivering. Was she cold?
Running his fingers on her arms, he nestled his right hand on her left shoulder, his other arm still holding her waist. "Are you cold?" He asked.
She shook her head a little before looking downwards, hiding her face from him.
"Chloe?" He peered forward, his cheek brushing her slightly and he resisted the urge to put his lips on her red cheek. The subconscious alarm rang in his mind but it sounded so distant, so dismal to the present. He concluded that something was terribly wrong with him. And it involved the knight in his arms somehow.
The feeling was too unbearable. She had to get free fast before she did something that would jeopardize their relationship. Chloe, he loves Shirley! They said they better off as brother and sister but you know he's regretting the broke-up. Senel loved Shirley and Shirley loved Senel. Senel only saw you as one of his friends.
She felt the familiar pain stabbing her heart. And for once, she was grateful for it. It did a nice job on gathering her thought back. Hoping her face was not red, she elbowed him, a bit too hard by the sound of choking behind her, allowing her freedom and she grabbed the nearest patch of grass so she had something firm to keep her floating before she turned to face him.
"What did you do that for?" He asked, confused.
"It was only appropriate." She answered. Senel gave her another 'Huh?' look. This time, it was her who rolled her eyes. She forgot how insensitive the Marine could be. "I don't think it's a good thing if you hug me like that."
The confusion wasn't going away from his expression. "Why?" He asked.
Why! She could give him a lot of reasons for that question. "It's just because, alright." Sighing, she rubbed her face tiredly. This swimming lesson weren't going anywhere. She hated giving up but maybe it's the best action to take right now. She could ask Shirley for a lesson when she's not busy. "Let's call it a day. Somehow I feel tired." Hefting herself to the side, she didn't expect to be pulled back to the water and onto Senel's warm body.
Spluttering, she grab his shoulder and glared, "What was that for!"
A kiss was something she never expected from the numbskull.
He knew he will get a sword rain or three with the stunt he just pulled. But his instinct told him to do so and he had no complaint with the idea. In fact, holding Chloe close and kissing her felt too good for him to feel guilty. And she didn't protest or smack him so he felt it's alright to continue. Moving his lips over her slowly, he deepened their kiss, urging her to participate.
She did. But no matter how nice her lips and tongue feels human needed to breath. The kiss was broken and Senel knew that she would ask 'Why'.
But how could he explain it when he didn't know the answer himself? He just knew that the kiss was right, unlike the one he had with Shirley.
"I don't understand." He said before she asked. She bit her swollen lips slightly, making his attention drifted there again. But he knew he had to say something, anything, to her to salvage whatever ties between them. But what? "I really don't understand my feeling at all."
"Senel." She brushed his wet bangs aside, revealing the tattoo on his face. "It's alright. I'm not angry."
"You should." Senel grimaced. "I kissed you and can't give you any proper reason." Sighing, he continued, "You can hit me as many times as you like."
They were quiet for a while. Both of them didn't know what to say or do.
"I loved Stella." Senel suddenly blurted out.
Chloe turned away. "I know…"
"And I love Shirley."
"I know that too…"
"As my little sister."
"… really?" Chloe found herself facing the Marine again.
"…but I don't understand my feeling for you, Chloe…" It was his turn to look away. "I don't understand it at all. You are very different with them. I can't just put you into a category. You are more than my best friend but I don't know if I love you like I loved Stella."
"You can't love each person the same way, Senel." Chloe murmured. Butting her forehead slightly to his, she gazed at him straight on the eyes. "Just… just tell me if that kiss wasn't a mistake."
"It wasn't. At least I know that it wasn't a mistake." He closed his eyes and hugged her tighter. She reciprocated his gesture, holding him as tightly as she could.
"Then, isn't it alright?"
"We have time. Let's just take it easy for now." She squeezed him for a bit before letting him go. "I know you're confused so I won't push you into anything you're not ready to."
As long as he didn't play with her feeling, Chloe felt absolutely fine to wait. She had been hiding her feeling for him for quite a while now and with the proffered chance he gave, she knew she doesn't have to hide it again.
Offering him a slight smile, she muttered, "Just know that I love you, Senel."
"Does that mean I can kiss you again?" He was definitely being around Moses too much. For him to ask such an uncouth question when she confessed her feeling, ugh. He's such an idiot.
Chloe gave a wry smile before she knocked him on the head. Satisfied with the look of pain on Senel's face, she leveled a glare at him. "Only after you teach me how to swim, you despicable person."
"That's a deal then." He would make her swim like a Ferine and get his reward. Oh yes, he would make it long and lasting this time.
Unfortunately for Senel, Chloe really was worse than a rock in swimming. It took one week of intense training before Chloe could finally learn how to float and another two for her to swim one lap across Lumen Spring.
AN: …not the idea I had in mind. I wanted to make a humorous fic but this is what happened. Oh well.