Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or intellectual property depicted in the following story. Kiminozo is the rightful property of âge.


"If the other person injures you, you may forget the injury. But if you injure him, you will always remember."

(Khalil Gibran)


Prologue

It's a good day for training, the swim coach thought.

The watchful mother hen took a good, long look at her brood and smiled. There was something really encouraging about helping other people realize their full potential. Rather than feel discouraged as she was normally wont to do, she actually felt a near-overwhelming urge to pat her students on the back and tell them just how well they were doing.

That would come later, of course. First, she'd push them to the limit.

"Faster!" she barked. "I know you can do better than that!"

"Yes, sensei!" the student swimmers yelled in between splashes.

The instructor clapped her hands, watching dutifully as her students swam back to her. She took a deep breath, feeling strangely relieved as she exhaled. Watching them swim had admittedly been difficult at first. Their youthful enthusiasm and drive to succeed often reminded her of what she had been like years ago, before all the trouble had started.

Unfortunately, it also dredged up some memories that she no longer wished to remember.

Nevertheless, she had made up her mind long before she'd even signed up as their coach. Instead of wasting her time moping over what could've been, she'd decided to focus on what might be. It was her way of picking herself up and moving on, even if that meant standing aside so that others could shine.

That was why she was here…now.

"We're done, sensei!"

The squeals and the laughter snapped the coach out of her reverie. "All right, settle down, everyone," she said. "Listen up."

The three swimmers immediately ceased their conversation and turned their full attention toward their coach.

"That was better than last time," she said with a smile. Her eyes took on a familiar no-nonsense look. "Now it's competition time." She tapped her clipboard for emphasis. "As before, loser buys dinner for everyone, all right?"

One of the students moaned in dismay.

"But sensei…"

"Ah…ah…no 'buts' about it," the coach cut in. "Fuyutsuki, you told me you were here to learn, right? Do you want to be a successful swimmer or not?"

"I do," the girl spoke so softly her voice was barely above a whisper.

"I can't hear you."

"I do, sensei!" she exclaimed.

"As do we, sensei!" the others joined in.

"Good. Now get ready." The instructor reset her stopwatch as her students got into position. "On the count of three. One…two…three…"

The shrill sound of a whistle rent the air, sending the swimmers racing. The coach stood with her hands on her hips, watching in silent satisfaction as her students swam for all they were worth.

They're making great progress. Someday, they may even become as good as…

"It's nice to see you again, Mitsuki-sempai," a familiar voice spoke behind her.

I know that voice...It belongs to...

"Akane?"

Mitsuki whirled around came face to face with her former protégée.