"Wow, Captain! You shaved four seconds off your personal best!"
"Haha, he isn't our Captain for nothing!"
Mikoshiba grinned as he climbed out of the pool, the sound of his awed teammates ringing out in the large room. As he tugged his goggles off, he laughed loudly and told them, "Relax, you guys! It's good I've accomplished a new personal record, but I want to see you all go out there and do the same thing. I know you're all capable of it. Now, second years, get in there and show me what you can do!"
As the second years took their places at the poolside, the first years sat off to the side, among them Nitori Aiichirou. While normally Nitori's gaze would be anxiously fixated on the second years, watching their smooth strokes and quick turns, this time his eyes focused adoringly on the team's captain, who was shouting out orders to the swimmers with a proud gleam in his eye.
He's so cool…Nitori thought, thoroughly impressed with the coach's previous performance. The way his strong arms had cut through the water so quickly, powerfully… And how strong of a boost he got when he kicked against the wall during his turns. Nitori was appropriately humbled and awed.
A whistle sounded. "Matsuoka! Good job! You managed to top your personal best by two seconds," Mikoshiba announced to Rin, who already was dragging himself out of the water. Rin nodded, acknowledging the praise but said no more while Mikoshiba called out the times to the other swimmers who had just finished their lap. Nitori stood and rushed over to the pair.
When Rin saw Nitori hurrying over to him, he assumed that the boy was going to gush over his improved time and shower him with unnecessary compliments. But Nitori walked past him without so much as a word, blue eyes fixated at the man standing a few feet away.
"Captain, you were so amazing," Nitori exclaimed, staring up at the swimmer with undisguised reverence. Mikoshiba laughed heartily and ruffled Nitori's hair fondly. "If you keep practicing hard, I know you can break all sorts of records too."
"But so far… I've just been having a lot of trouble increasing my speed. I really am trying! I just… I can't seem to do it," Nitori confessed, looking shamed by the admission.
"Hey now, don't beat yourself up about it. That's supposed to be my job, remember?" Mikoshiba joked before taking on a more thoughtful expression and adding, "From what I can see, you're forcing it too much. It makes your body tense up and you don't want that…"
Rin listened to the exchange in silence, feeling a surge of irritation. Is that kid so damn helpless that he needs to hover around Mikoshiba like that? he thought, finally turning away with a small 'tsk.' He conveniently ignored the fact that it didn't bother him nearly as much when Nitori came to him for advice. As he headed into the locker room, he heard Nitori's shy, but undeniably joyful laugh fill the air. Rin clenched his jaw and wondered why the hell he felt so damn aggravated all of a sudden when only moments ago he had been relatively pleased with himself.
"Oi, Matsuoka! Where are you going?" Mikoshiba called, glancing over Nitori's head to catch Rin leaving the room.
"I'm done here," was all he got in response. The captain sighed.
"Well, I guess Matsuoka's got the right idea." He clapped his hands loudly to draw the team's attention and announced, "We're just about done for the day, so you're all free to go now! Good job today, everyone!" He patted Nitori on the back. "You, too, kid. Just remember what I said, alright?"
Nitori nodded and the Samezuka swim team dispersed. All the while, Nitori finally thought of his dear Matsuoka-senpai and questioned why he had left so early.
That night, Nitori noticed a tension in Rin. The redheaded lay on his bunk, arm covering his eyes; only a tightly clenched fist gave away the fact that he had not yet fallen asleep. Nitori looked worriedly over at him from his spot at the desk.
"…Are you okay, Matsuoka-senpai?" he asked, setting down his mechanical pencil and turning all the way around in his seat.
"I'm fine," Rin replied stiffly, not moving from his position. Nitori's brow furrowed in concern.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," Rin snapped, finally dropping his arm to shoot his roommate a glare.
Nitori cringed and sought a change in subject. "Well, uhm, we had a really good practice this afternoon."
"Especially the Captain! I can't believe how incredible he is sometimes. It's so easy to forget, you know? But he truly is the best one on the team," Nitori babbled, not noticing the way Rin's glare sharpened. "And he even-"
"Yeah, yeah, give it a rest, will ya?" Rin interrupted, sitting up and running a hand through his hair in frustration. Just the very mention of the captain grated on his nerves and hearing Nitori gush on and on about him was irritating him to no end. "You're practically drooling over the damn guy!"
"Eh?!" Nitori blushed furiously. He shook his head wildly, saying, "I-I'm sorry for bothering you, Matsuoka-senpai. I just thought Mikoshiba-senpai looked really cool today and I didn't mean…"
Rin cast a disdainful eye on Nitori's flustered figure. Why was Nitori suddenly obsessing over Mikoshiba? Rin could begrudgingly admit that the captain's time was impressive, but that didn't mean Nitori needed to fawn over him like a girl. Hell, Rin cut his time, too. Albeit, it wasn't as huge a difference as that of the Captain, but normally Nitori would be the first to praise Rin even if he did poorly.
Where the hell was any of that today, huh?
"Don't you have anything better to do than squeal about Mikoshiba?" Rin told him, cutting off the poor boy's rambling with an indifferent look that was a stark contrast to how he actually felt. Nitori cringed and looked as though he'd offer another immediate apology, but it was too late. Rin was thoroughly pissed off and he couldn't help but add coldly, "Maybe if you focused more on your own swimming, your time would improve."
He immediately regretted his harsh words when he saw the way Nitori's eyes widened, the light in them dying down in hurt and shame at Rin's scolding. "S-Sorry, senpai," he mumbled, looking away. He turned around in his chair and stared down at his homework but made no move to pick up his pencil or resume writing. Rin groaned. Why did the kid always manage to make him feel bad?
It remained quiet for a few impossibly long minutes while Rin internally debated what to do. He could ignore Nitori and go to sleep, knowing that the boy would probably be alright in the morning. Or he could suck it up and apologize, knowing that he could make Nitori happy with a few simple words. He groaned. The choice was painstakingly clear.
"Listen," he started, resting his head in his hands. "I didn't mean that, okay? You're doing fine. Just… stop bringing up Mikoshiba so damn much. It's annoying."
"Do you not like the captain?"
Nitori turned back around and stared at Rin. "Do you not like the captain, Matsuoka-senpai?" he repeated, fixing his curious eyes on him. Confusion had replaced the hurt in his countenance.
Rin opened his mouth to retort when he paused to actually think about the question. Why was he so pissed off anyway? He never really had any problem with Mikoshiba before, so why now? He mentally ran through that afternoon's practice, searching for a probable cause.
Warm ups had gone without a hitch, relays were as smooth as they could be considering, and individual timings had gone well, with Mikoshiba breaking his personal record. Then, of course, the team had praised him, Nitori included and-
Rin stiffened, left eye twitching. So it was just Nitori's girly fawning over the captain that bothered him. But why? Nitori did that sort of stuff all the time whenever Rin did something.
"Fuck," he groaned, realizing now the reason for his sour mood.
Rin glanced up at Nitori in a panic. No. No way. There was no freaking way he could tell Nitori the truth. He'd never live it down.
"No, I don't hate him," he said coolly, hoping Nitori didn't read too much into the situation.
"Then why can't I talk about him?"
"You just can't, okay?" Nitori, drop it.
"Because why, senpai?"
"Because I said so, now shut the hell up!" For god's sake, Nitori…
"But I don't see why I can't talk about him! He works really hard and he's really cool and he's an amazing coach."
"I don't want to hear any of that shit!"
Dammit, Nitori. "Because you're going on and on about him when you haven't said a goddamn word about my own time! I can catch up to him soon! But no, you were too busy drooling over him to pay any attention to that," he raged, shooting up out of bed and towering over Nitori.
The grey haired boy blinked. "Senpai…" he began, a hint of a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "Are you… jealous?"
"Tch, no!" Rin denied, face tinted with the faintest of pinks. Nitori's face lit up.
"You are!" he gushed, jumping out of his chair to tackle Rin with a hug. "I'm so sorry I didn't say anything earlier, senpai! Your time was really amazing, too! I don't know how you manage to do it every week, but somehow you keep getting better and better!"
Rin struggled in the embrace, placing a hand on the boy's soft hair and pushing him away. "Get off me!" he shouted, his voice lost in the sea of Nitori's sincere, however late, praise. And yet, despite his vehement attempts to get rid of Nitori, he felt his previous anger melt away, only to be replaced by a warm, satisfied feeling.
This was how things were supposed to be.
A/N- I really wanted to write some Rintori seeing as how there's not much fanfiction out there for it and, well, this is what my mind produced at 2 am. This was actually not what I had meant to go for when I started writing, but it's late and I didn't even bother going back to proofread, so I'm certainly not changing it now. Maybe I can give the whole jealousy thing another shot at a more appropriate time of day.