Ah sorry for staying away for so long and sorry this chapter is so short. I was having some real life stuff to deal with and it was hard to find time to write. I figured I'd go ahead and publish this despite it's pathetic length. This'll probably be the second to last chapter I'm afraid. I hope to finish this up by next week. Thank you for all of your reviews. It really means a lot!
Nagisa realized he had made a mistake almost as soon as he stepped into his school building.
He had forgotten his swimsuit.
Normally this wouldn't be a problem and he would just tell the guys what's up and go home, but with what happened with Makoto yesterday, he knew it would just raise more questions. He grabbed his hair and pulled as hard as he could, hoping the pain could help clear his frantic mind for a minute. "Dammnit," he cursed low under his breath.
"Nagisa-kun? What's wrong?" a concerned voice spoke behind him. Rei stepped his front of his friend in the middle of the crowded hallway and leveled him with a steady gaze, demanding answers.
"Ah, Rei-chan it's just awful! I left my house this morning without grabbing my swimsuit! And after I promised Mako-chan that I would practice extra hard today! I'm an awful swim club member!" Nagisa whined, clutching to his friend. He prayed that his bubbly act had no holes and that his friends' worry for him would gradually fade over time.
Nagisa almost leapt for joy when Rei pushed his glasses further up his face and shook his head before fixing the blonde with a small smile. "Honestly," he muttered. "I'll let you borrow one of my suits so quit clinging to me."
"Yay! Thank you so much Rei-chan! I'll love you forever!" Nagisa screeched before skipping off to class, feeling a little bit calmer now that Rei didn't seem so suspicious.
Classes went much more smoothly than the previous day and Nagisa found it much easier to be his usual chipper self. The knot of uncomfortable emptiness that had set up home in the pit of his stomach was still there, but he felt much less flighty since that incident with Rei that morning. He couldn't stand the thought of his friends worrying about him or prying him for information so Rei's dismissal drastically increased his mood. He was almost excited to actually get in the water today and he skipped the entire way to the pool, Rei trailing at his heels.
"Ah Nagisa!" Makoto greeted. "You seem to be feeling much better today. I'm glad"
"Me too! I hope you guys don't get whatever I had yesterday." the blonde flitted his gaze around the pool. "Huh? Where's Haru-chan?"
"Oh he's in the locker room right now. Rei came by during break and told me about how you forgot your swimsuit and he couldn't remember where he had put his spare so I sent Haru to look for it." Makoto paused, eyes sparkling as Haruka made his way to the pool area, holding a small yellow speedo.
"That was too much work," Haruka grumbled as he tossed the speedo to Nagisa. "Next time you're doing it."
Makoto just laughed softly. "Hopefully there won't be a next time." He sent a pointed look towards Nagisa.
Nagisa felt his heart sink as he looked at the offending garment. Sure he wore speedos all the time, but that was before, and now just the thought of putting it on made nausea bloom in his stomach and all the blood in his veins turn to ice water.
What do I do?
He continued to just stare, his mouth opening and closing like a fish. He looked up to see his teammates staring at him with various degrees of concern. Even ever stoic Haruka had a small worried frown furrowing his brow. His normal flightiness evolved into full blown terror and panic at everyone's gaze fixed on him.
What do I say?
"Nagisa? What's wrong?"
Nagisa jumped at the sound of Makoto calling out his name. He began to tremble as he stood there unable to speak. Unable to breathe.
Rei's hand on his shoulder is what finally pulled him out of his daze. He smiled as bright as his mood would allow and laughed, brushing Rei's hand away. "Ah I'm sorry, I spaced out for a bit!" he said, his voice much higher than usual. "Actually I just remembered that I need to go home today. I have a dinner with my aunt! I'll see you guys tomorrow!" He yelled as he once again scampered away from his practice and his friends.
"Nagisa wait!" Makoto yelled. But his cries fell on deaf ears as Nagisa continued to run further away.
"What is up with him? Rei asked.
Haruka picked up the discarded speedo before walking over to join his friends. "Makoto," he barked out. "You saw him last night."
"Yeah," Makoto replied, still staring in the direction his friend had ran.
"Well, was there anything wrong with him?"
"Uh, he was acting a bit strange. He greeted the door in a towel, but he just assured me he was fine before shutting the door in my face, something about having a dinner with his aunt to go to."
"Wait, wasn't that the excuse he just gave us," Rei interjected.
Makoto blinked slowly, his brain struggling to put the pieces together. "Yeah."
"Why was he wearing a towel?" Haruka asked, his fingers tightening on the speedo.
"Uh he said that he was hopping on the shower, but he didn't really smell like he needed a shower. Not that I expected him to stink or anything," he added quickly, "but he smelled sterile, like rubbing alcohol or something."
"Rubbing alcohol," Haruka repeated under his breath. "Like used to clean out cuts and wounds?"
"Cuts? Haru you can't honestly think-"
"It makes sense Makoto!" Haruka yelled, louder than Makoto or Rei had ever heard him though not quite as loud as a normal person. "Think about it, he's been different for weeks. More subdued. He hasn't worn anything shorter than jammers and he started panicking once he realized that he would be forced to wear a speedo today. And he's been lying. Don't you think that is a little bit suspicious?"
"But Nagisa just can't be a….a cutter," Makoto said, visibly paling. "I-I mean he's the happiest guy I know. I've never seen him upset." Makoto's head dropped. "He just can't be," he whispered.
"I'm not saying that he is, just that he could be." Haruka replied softly, placing his hand on Makoto's shoulder. "It won't hurt to find out."
"What should we do then? I mean we can't very well just ask him. Rei said, pushing up his glasses.
Makoto ran his fingers through his hair and sighed deeply. "I don't know. Why don't we just…corner him in the locker room tomorrow or something? If they are there, they'd be on his legs right? We'll just catch him changing."
"But what if he changes somewhere else? He changed in the bathroom a few days ago."
"Follow him into the bathroom," Haruka said to Rei. "Make sure that doesn't happen."
"That's like an invasion of privacy or something!"
"If we give Nagisa privacy, this'll just get worse and worse. Grow a pair Rei, and help your friend."
"Understood," Rei replied meekly.