This was written after reading High Speed, which easily gave me the most unexpected feels ever. It really gives these characters an enormous amount of depth, and you should all go read it bc it's really good for getting to know the darker side of the Swimming Anime.

Disclaimer: Free! is not mine. Only my words are mine. I hope you like this!

Makoto and Nagisa are staying over at Haru's place for the first weekend of term break, and it's Nagisa who suggests that maybe they should take a night-time dip in the school pool.

"It's closed!" Makoto protests, but the mention of swimming and pools has given Haruka a sudden burst of motivation and he stands swiftly, leaving the house for the other two to grab their swimming trunks and goggles and follow behind.

Vaulting over the gates is easy enough, but Makoto finds the school at night to be pretty much the most terrifying thing ever. He clings on to Haruka for the most part, and tiptoes his way around the shadowy walls and corridors that seem to stretch all the way to the deepest parts of hell. Their footsteps echo throughout the whole building, and Makoto swears he hears whispers echoing back to him.

Soon enough they're at the pool, and Haruka shakes Makoto off, practically rips off his shirt and trousers with great vigour and dives into the pool with a resounding splash, resurfacing on his back and calmly drifting along with the serene movement of the water. Nagisa strips and changes in the open before joining him, and eagerly beckons for Makoto to jump in as well. But Makoto already has an uneasy feeling in the pit of his gut – there are no lights in or around the pool, and it's dark. They only have the moonlight, and as it shines on the pool water there's this eerie feeling that engulfs Makoto. He gulps and looks behind, and is scared out of his wits when a cold breeze blows and the trees sway, leaves brushing against one another noisily, casting images of shadowy demons against the school buildings. Makoto hears Nagisa calling him again, and decides that maybe being in the water with people is better than being on land with monsters that may or may not actually be there, so he quickly changes behind a bench, and slowly lowers himself into the pool.

At first touch the water feels like it's enough to turn Makoto's blood to ice. He gulps again, feeling his heartbeat increase, but his eye catches on Haruka and he follows suit, tentatively floating on his back, trying to ignore the cold water and looking up at the moon and the cloudy night sky. There are no stars, he notices. The water is like hands, he thinks, cold and dangerous and wet. It muffles out the sound around him, and the noise of night crickets diminish under the cover of water.

As Makoto takes a deep breath, trying to calm himself down, hands really do wrap around Makoto's legs and he's pulled underwater. He's caught off guard, and suddenly the water is far too icy and far too black, and Makoto opens his mouth to scream but the cold, cold water forces itself down his throat and nose. He clambers his way to the surface, thrashing against the cold and the water, and as he coughs he stumbles to the side of the pool, shutting his eyes as he shivers. There's no water around his ears, but the sound is muffled all the same. Makoto sees two goldfish in a bowl and Haruka in a river, and then there's Rin and there's also "I've never seen anyone so afraid before", and Makoto convulses and his eyes open, but his throat is burning from the cold water and the coughing, and the panic is so great he retches – almost throwing up onto the side of the pool.

Makoto is terrified, and he wants to shrink into himself but he can't and he's too exposed and the cold wind is on his back and there's water and it's cold and dark and so scary and white trees and dead goldfish and rivers for drowning and demons and someone is saying "I'm sorry!" but his breathing is too loud and he's really dizzy and scared, scared, scared, and—


Haruka's voice cuts the air and Makoto's thoughts like a sharpened knife, glinting in the moonlight. The water ripples quietly as Makoto turns quickly to look at Haruka. The two are silent, and Makoto wants Haruka to ask, almost wills Haruka to ask him if he was alright. But Haruka is not that kind of person, and instead he only fixes Makoto with a grave, assertive look. The noise begins to return to Makoto although the cold still stays, and he hears the crickets and the wind and notices Nagisa sniffling beside him, striking violet irises overflowing with jewelled tears as he apologizes, "I'm sorry, Mako-chan, I-I didn't know – I'm so sorry, really—!"

Makoto doesn't really have full control of his body yet, and hardly hears himself as he manages a weak, half-hearted smile and says, "It's okay, don't worry about it." It's as though his soul isn't there, and as if this is a dream and he's still stuck in the water. He realises then that he is still in the water, and that it is actually not okay, it really is not okay at all, and Makoto tenses before clawing his way out of the pool and up onto the side. Small spasms of unreleased tension still course through his veins, and Makoto shivers as the leaves on the trees brush against each other. Haruka's looking to the side, and for the first time in his life Makoto feels angry at him – for not being able to do anything, for not asking him if he's okay, for not touching him on the shoulder and reassuring him that he is indeed there, and not lying in a river like an upturned goldfish with the sunset a blinding orange on his red, fever-scalded cheeks.

Makoto really doesn't want to lose his cool here. It's especially cold outside and he remembers that they forgot to bring a towel. Makoto storms off to their pile of clothes and peels off his trunks, not caring about who's looking. Haruka looks away and Nagisa doesn't do anything but sob into his hands. It's quiet, except for the sound of Nagisa's crying, and Makoto almost snaps – almost shouts at Nagisa to Shut up, you're not making anything better, but he breathes and tells himself that he's fine, that he's on land and everything's okay, that Haruka's alive and breathing and that's all that matters.

Makoto's clothes are back on and he turns back, glaring – no, staring at the other two in the pool. Haruka taps Nagisa on the shoulder and climbs out himself, shaking his hair just like a wet dog. He puts on his clothes, not even bothering to take his trunks off, and doesn't look Makoto in the eye. The clouds have covered the moon almost entirely and the school is enveloped in an unusual quiet.

They wait for Nagisa to change, and when they walk back to Haruka's place it's Makoto on one side of the dimly-lit road, and the two of them on the other. The two look at their feet and say nothing, while Makoto boldly looks forward and keeps quiet though he really wants to shout at them both. Makoto's hands shake although his mind is clear – too clear, and he contemplates just taking his things and going home.

The wind blows once more, and Makoto feels as if frost is gathering on his fingers, and as if iced water is filling his lungs from the inside. His hands clench into fists, and Haruka notices, eyes widening slightly before he turns away, unable to say a word. Makoto bites his bottom lip as the night becomes a bit too much to bear, and just about stops himself from crying.

how is write hte ednigns (im so sorry ugh)

I hope that at least the middle portions of this are okay. The ending was really bad gosh golly I'm sorry

Makoto deserves a big hug ok u guys damn my heart goes out to you Makoto bby

Reviews would be nice! And a big thank you to all of y'all for reading this, of course.