Seijuurou kept his eyes on the entire room when they held practice, and he knew the face of every swimmer under his care. So when the redhead wandered in, he spotted her immediately.
"Hey, so it's you." He sidled up to her and gave her what he hoped was a welcoming smile. He figured that being the only lady in a room full of ripped, half-naked men probably wouldn't do much to set her at ease, and his duty as captain was to make everyone feel safe. "The one who's looking for her big brother?"
As she turned to face him, something stuttered in his chest. No blush flooded her cheeks; she had no problem meeting his eyes and smiling. He'd gotten so used to settling visitors down that her confidence set him off-kilter.
When he said, "Hold on," he addressed himself more than her. He was supposed to be the smooth, capable captain! But before he could zip his lips, the confession slipped out: "You know, you're pretty cute."
Before he could do more than blush (like dive into the pool to hide his face in shame), she gave him what was perhaps the most winning smile he'd ever seen before in his life.
"Thank you." She remained cool and smooth like water, unperturbed. He allowed himself to daydream for a split second, imagining her coming to all of their swim meets, cheering for him—err, for her big brother. Speaking of which. "I'm looking for my big brother, Matsuoka Rin."
"Matsuoka?" he repeated. He could list the name, strengths, weaknesses, and hobbies of every swimmer under his care—and that wasn't one of them. Disappointment surged in his chest. "There's nobody named Matsuoka on the swim team."
She froze, and utter confusion crossed her face. "Huh?"
"Hey, maybe I can help you find him, though," he continued. "Maybe he hasn't gotten around to signing up yet."
"If he's not at his dorm and not here…" the young lady murmured to herself, shaking her head as she trailed off. She offered him another bright grin—the kind that already set his heart jumping. "Thank you for the offer, but I don't want to trouble you."
The words, 'It's no trouble at all,' rose to the tip of his tongue before he swallowed them. He had a duty to his underclassmen; he couldn't go running off whenever he wanted.
"If you find him, he's more than welcome to join," Seijuurou said. "I hope to see you again, Miss…?"
"Kou." Another dazzling smile; his face grew hot, but he managed to smile back. "Matsuoka Kou."
"Pleasure to make your acquaintance," he said. "Mikoshiba Seijuurou, captain of the swim team."
"Oh!" She looked him up and down discreetly, and he puffed out his chest. The little nod of approval that she gave him made him preen. "Captain of a prestigious swim team at a prestigious school. You certainly do look the part."
"I, uh." This time it was too much for him; he blushed and looked away, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment. "Well, uh. Not really, but…"
"Oh, but you do!" She beamed at him. "Just look at those pecs!"
His face felt so hot he might've fried an egg on it. "You—your eyes. Are gold." He buried his face in the palm of one hand. "And pretty. You're—you're cute."
She chuckled, offering him a little wave as she turned. "Nice to meet you, Mikoshiba-san," she said brightly.
"Seijuurou!" he said quickly. "E-everyone calls me Seijuurou."
"Well then, I hope to see you again, Seijuurou-kun."
He could swear that she winked at him—he felt dizzy and giddy and maybe a little faint. Certainly not suave in the slightest. It wasn't until she reached the door that he recovered enough to call back. "You, too!"
God, he hoped her brother would join the swim team.