Haruka Nanase sat idly in his bathtub, poking at a dolphin toy as it gently bobbed up and down in the water. He breathed out a sigh. The night before he had gone to the temple to pray to the Water God for warmer weather. Haru really wanted to swim in the ocean without catching a cold.
Speaking of cold, the temperature of his bath water was turning just that. Haru forced himself out of the tub, water dripping down his toned body, droplets rolling across his swimsuit as he stepped out onto the bathroom mat. He grabbed a towel from the shiny silver rack, and rubbed his dark wet hair with it, then the rest of his body. Haru wandered out into the hallway and into his bedroom, the towel still loosely draped across his head and shoulders.
He quickly dressed in his school uniform, realizing that if he didn't hurry he would be late to his first class. Haru grabbed himself a slice of toast with some leftover mackerel from the fridge on his way out, nearly forgetting to lock the front door behind him.
The nice thing about the town of Iwatobi was that one could see the ocean from almost anywhere. It was a view that Haruka always appreciated, especially on his walk to the train to get to school. He reminded himself to go test out the water that afternoon after school. Maybe the water would finally be bearable enough to swim in.
"Nanase-San, this is…well, definitely the most… interesting paper I've ever seen."
Everyone in Haru's class had to submit a paper about something each of them loved; it was an exercise in using various tools to describe something. A lot of people had written about their favorite sport or family members. Some had written about their girlfriends or boyfriends. Haru, however, had written about water. While the paper was only required to be three pages long, Haruka had managed to write a good ten pages.
Haru stood in front of his teacher's desk, looking at the man quizzically.
You said to write about and describe something I love. I'm pretty sure what I wrote was more than adequate.
"I am impressed by your work, Haruka. I never thought anyone could describe something so simple to such a massive extent. Needless to say, you've earned top marks for this. I just find it a little unusual is all, to choose water. But to each their own," the teacher said as he marked the grade in bright red pen. He handed it back to Haru over the large wooden desk.
Haru nodded his thanks as he pushed the paper into his school bag, quickly walking out of the classroom. The teacher was just one more person who couldn't see why water was so amazing to Haru, and how everything else was just sort of a drag.
Haru just wanted to hurry up and get back home so he could see if the ocean was warm enough yet. The day had certainly seemed warmer, so why wouldn't the water be?
After dropping his things at home, Haru headed over to the beach, rolling up his pant legs as he went. He stepped from the dry sand onto the more compact wet sand, the ocean gently lapping at his toes. Haru let a small wave come in, soaking his ankles as it spread white foam everywhere. The water felt surprisingly warm. It was the perfect temperature for the ocean, and a happy feeling welled up in Haruka's chest. He quickly stripped off all of his clothing, leaving only his black and purple swimsuit underneath.
Haruka jumped straight into the waves, taking a deep breath as he went. The air tasted faintly of sea salt; it was crisp and clean and natural. Haru swam around underwater for a moment, heading out farther from the shore to a deeper spot. He surfaced, only to go swim around some more, the waves doing little to his form. After a while, Haru just floated on his back, eyes closed as he allowed the waves to gently carry him back to the shore. He enjoyed the sound of the waves, the faint crash they gave off as they hit the beach, the way the water just naturally sloshed together as it rippled and pulled. He opened his eyes and turned onto his stomach, opting to swim the rest of the way back to the beach.
The dark-haired swimmer reach shore, the little waves lapping at his feet as if begging Haru not to go just yet, to stay just for a little while longer. Haru gave the water a silent promise that he would indeed return to its majestic beauty.
Haruka had just turned away from the water to go pick up his clothes when he nearly ran into a red-haired guy who was staring at him.
"What?" Haru asked. "You shouldn't just stand there like that."
"Sorry. Hey, I was just admiring your swimming. You swim like a dolphin," the guy said, grinning. His teeth were pointy and kinda sharp, like a shark's.
"Name's Rin Matsouka," the red-haired guy said as he extended his right hand. "I like to swim too."
"Haruka Nanase," Haru replied, shaking Rin's hand. Rin's grip was like iron. Haru almost thought for a moment that Rin wouldn't let go.
"Hey, since you seem to like swimming so much, wouldn't you rather swim in a pool? I can get you into the one at the Academy not far from here."
Haru perked up at the mention of a swimming pool. Swimming in the ocean was definitely enjoyable by any means, but swimming in a pool had less resistance.
"Samezuka Academy?" Haru asked. "You go there?"
"Yeah. I'll get you in after hours. I'd like to swim with you, Haruka. Meet me out front there at 7 tomorrow," Rin said, flashing his teeth as he grinned. Haru nodded. Sure, he'd only just met the guy, but there was no way he'd turn down the chance of getting free access to a supposedly really nice swimming pool.
"I'll see you then, Rin."
During the entire next day, only one thought stood out in Haruka Nanase's mind.
POOL. SWIMMING POOL. SWIMMING.
After school he hurried home to do his homework, then went over to Samezuka Academy, arriving out front right at seven. Rin was already there waiting for him. He greeted Haru with his pointy grin.
"I'm glad you came. I've been looking from someone good to swim with."
Rin led Haru inside the school, leading down various hallways until they reached the massive indoor pool. Rin swept a keycard through a slot in the door, which popped open. He turned around to look at Haru, only to find the raven-haired teen stripping off all his clothes.
"You wear your suit underneath your clothes? Have you been wearing it like that all day?" Rin asked, amused yet slightly bewildered. Haru shrugged in response as he got up on the starting block for the nearest lane, and jumped in. It was a perfect dive. Rin smirked.
He went off into the changing rooms to get his own suit on, leaving Haru to float around in the crystal clear pool. He yanked on his own black and red suit which extended down to his ankles, unlike Haru's suit, which only went down to the knee.
"Hey, you wanna race?" Rin asked as he gazed down at Haru, who had swam to the edge of the pool.
"I don't really care about winning or losing so much," Haru replied. "Or times, for that matter."
"Any preferred strokes?"
"I only swim free," Haru said, diving underwater again as he aimlessly swam around. Rin could only stare for a moment. He had never seen anyone swim around so gracefully.
He waited for Haru to surface again before posing his challenge. "You gonna race me or not? I let you in here, after all."
Haru climbed out of the water, heading over to the starting block next to the one Rin stood upon. "Fair enough. But I only swim free."
"All right," Rin said, throwing Haru a pair of goggle. Haru caught them neatly with one hand.
"We'll do one lap, from one side of the pool to the other. If you win, I'll let you come back tomorrow," Rin teased. Haru grunted in response as he adjusted the goggles to fit to his eyes.
They each stood in position on the blocks. Since there was no one else there to give them a signal, Rin just yelled "Go!"
Haru glided into the water as he dove, his arms aimed over his head as his back arched slightly, his feet together. He began to bring his arms up and in, meeting with the water and flowing with it, his legs kicking to propel his body forward. Every few strokes he's lift his head to take a breath, and out of the corner of his eye he'd see Rin doing the same.
Haru managed the turnaround a little smoother than Rin, whose form was also rather incredible, although Haru could tell that freestyle wasn't exactly Rin's strong point. He looked more like a swimmer who did butterfly.
They each reached the other side, finishing the lap. Haru won by a mere few inches, breathing a little hard. He heard Rin laugh in the lane next to him.
"Thanks for that, Haruka. I needed a good workout. I'll be here tomorrow too. Same time?"
Haru nodded, his face deadpan. Rin shook his head as he climbed out of the water, laughing a little. Haru reluctantly got out as well, not exactly willing to leave his beloved water. However, he knew he was a guest, and it was clearly time to go. He sighed internally, but again promised the water that he would be back to bask in its wondrous beauty again the next day.