June comes and goes like a flicker of light and a cool breeze and she hears about him in just about the same way - from the newspaper and online sites - but when she sees that small envelope in the corner of the screen on her phone, she can't help but smile.
"Kicking ass and taking names. They ain't no match for me," says one.
"Just wait till you see me, Captain," says another.
She can see his smile, that goofy grin that no matter the time or place, rain or shine, always made her happy and it's almost like he never left.
He finds that old habits are hard to break. He's no longer captain, so when he's caught staring at the door to the swimming area, waiting, it is he who has to do a ten lap punishment swim. It takes his mind off things if nothing else, but the concentration it takes to swim crumbles by the first turn and not a second later he's thinking of red hair, bright eyes, and a smile that is second to none.
"We got this," he remembers her saying, her breath tickling his neck, and when he finally finishes, he tries not to look at the bleachers, tries not to not get excited when he sees a flash of red in the corner of his eyes and his lips begin to form her name before he has the chance to stop. He tries and fails.
July is busy for her. High school prefecture tournaments are just around the corner and Iwatobi is in the swing of things. It's their second year now and everyone is a little bit more focused, a little bit faster, and more than ready to win. She is as well. There is a fire in her that refuses to be extinguished. She'll see to it that it burns throughout the summer and she will kick the butt of whoever tries to stop her.
He calls her every Thursday after practice. Things are slowing down and he wants nothing more than to hear her voice. "Captain," he says – breathes – and he can't help but to recall the moment where that nickname took hold.
It had slipped out, meant almost as a tease and half mocking, just so he could see her riled up, but she merely looked at him with an arched brow. "I'm the manager, Seijuurou," she said somewhat teasingly back, "Not the captain."
But when he said it again, this time silently in his head, her eyes and the fire just beyond their depths captured him. She could tell him to do anything and he'd reply with nothing less than, 'Your wish is my command.'
"Then I'll give you my title," he said, taking hold of her hands. "What do you say, Captain?"
She sighed, somewhat exasperated, but she was smiling. "Fine, but that means I get to wear the jacket."
"What are you up to next Friday?" He tries not to sound excited, but his stomach is bubbly and he feels like he is about to explode.
"Uh, practice until five but other than that nothing really."
She can practically see him smiling, "Why? What are you planning, Sei?"
"Nothing, nothing. Don't worry about it."
"You can't bring something like that up and not explain."
She hears him curse under his breath, "I gotta go, the man in charge is looking at me. I'll talk to you later, yeah?"
"Okay," her voices drifts off as the line goes blank.
Friday is here before she knows it, rolling in quietly like the morning tide. It's warm and humid to the point that by the time practices rolls around, the Samezuka jacket she has been known to wear on more than one occasion to the Iwatobi swim practices is folded and placed neatly far away from the pool's edge. She finds herself glancing toward it every so often to make sure it's still where she left it and it is. It always is.
It's not like she gets distracted easily, but before she knows it, the boys have vacated the pool and stand just near the exit, changed and ready to go nearly thirty minutes ahead of schedule.
"Well, Gou, we'll catch ya later," Nagisa says, tugging at a rather disgruntled Haru and casting Makoto and Rei weird glances that she's not sure she wants to decipher.
"What? So early? There's a tournament coming up soon; you guys shouldn't be off gallivanting." She admonishes.
"Don't worry, we'll jog to the supermarket," Nagisa smiles widely, nudging Haru in the ribs with his elbow.
"The supermarket?" she asks, her brows furrowing.
"Yeah. Sale on mackerel – it's very important." Haru adds, but there is something about his voice she can't place.
She presses her thumb to her temple, trying to ward off an oncoming headache, "I don't think all four of you need to go help Haru buy mackerel."
The looks on their faces is both amusing and infuriating, and she huffs, blowing the bangs from her eyes. "Fine," she pouts, "But be prepared to work super hard on Monday."
"Thank you, super manager Gou!" Nagisa exclaims, bowing low, before quickly herding everyone down the steps and out of sight.
"It's Kou," she whispers.
It's quiet without them here, too silent and too stagnant, and as she wanders around the pool gathering the things they left scattered about in their hasty retreat for mackerel, she wishes they had turned around and offered that she join them. Not that she believes them and their idiotic excuse or anything. The fliers for this week said nothing about mackerel.
It's when she's at the far corner of the pool, reaching for a stranded kickboard that something catches her attention, and she stands in a quick flourish, her breath hitching in her throat.
He just stands there by the steps, a grin so wide that it practically reaches his ears, as one hand raises in an enthusiastic wave, "Fancy seeing you here."
She finds that words fail her. They are unimportant and superfluous, so she smiles. Smiles so wide that her cheeks hurt and an unfamiliar prickle tickles the corner of her eyes. She turns away from him for a moment to sniff loudly and rub her eyes with the back of her hands, before turning back to him.
"Sei," she says, "Everything is fancy with you."
It doesn't register in her mind that he closes the distance between them (running really) until his arms are about her waist and her feet no longer touch the ground. His laugh is low and rumbling as she wraps her arms around his neck and presses the side of her face into his chest. The result is a tighter hug, and she laughs in spite of the pain, which isn't really pain to begin with. It's more of a sigh – like reaching the surface after too much time underwater. That moment where breathing just feels so good.
His grip loosens, but he rocks from side to side in an awkward dance as he feels the familiar ghosting of her fingers over the back of his neck. His cheeks are flushed, though so are hers, and he presses his lips to her forehead as a laugh spills from hers.
"We got this," she says into his shirt as the laugh fades from her lips, and that's all she really needs to say.
AN: And that's that for this story. Hope you enjoyed!