A/N: Candles. Couldn't make up a shittier name if it saved me.

Ahhh, I don't really know what I was doing with this, if I'm honest. There's no real backstory and there's no real pairings or anything either. It's kinda just a...sad Rin with Seijuurou coming to pick him up. I guess it's more based on friendship than anything? Like idk, you can make up the reason Rin's like this in your head because this was just a short thing I wrote simply because I wanted to write.

I put Nitori in the character list thing but he doesn't actually physically appear. So if you were hoping for him to actually appear, you aren't in luck. Nitori's partly the reason Rin's there though so I just put him in there because I wasn't sure if I should or not. Also because it's a Rin x Nitori friendship thing, I was wondering if I should place him there. So I did.

A lot of this makes no sense and it's all jumbled up and everything (and it's really ooc? like is this even Rin anymore?), I'm really sorry, but here you go.

It was cold.

So very cold.

Rin knew it was. He wasn't so cold that hypothermia had started to set in, but he was cold enough for it to hurt.

The pain coursing through his body was a pain that he deserved: that's what he had told himself since he first sat on the sodden wooden bench. Rain attacked his unprotected body with little mercy, each arrow stinging every moment one shattered on his skin. The water wasn't coming down all that hard, but each droplet that hit served as a tormenting testament to the reality he was in—the chances of him being in a dream were low.

Slouched down, with hands shoved loosely into hoodie pockets, the boy raised dazed red eyes towards the dark clouds in the sky. Beads of water steadily rode down and gathered at the tip of a red strand of hair attempting to escape from his untended fringe, before gathering up courage and jumping free. Rejoicing at the perfect landing on the tip of his nose, the group split up into separate groups and slid down first his nostrils, then his cheeks, and then to the tip of his chin. As soon as the first group reached their destination, the second group made their own departure, then the third, then the fourth.

'It's almost like a relay.'

Each set of droplets would reach their goal using their own preferred style, determined to make it before their opponents. That idea…was nostalgic, in a way. Because more than anything, what it seemed most like was…

"…a medley relay."

Impassive is the only way the breathed out words could be described. He'd gotten tired of caring—tired of having to suffer for the conflicting emotions that decided they didn't want to leave. Just one argument could set every single candle of rage alight in a moment's notice, but now, no strength remained for his brain to even consciously linger on the topic.

To light a candle, you need fire. But for fire, you need fuel. That necessary ingredient was the one thing that Rin didn't have. That fuel was the one thing that Rin could no longer reach.

The raging flames had been completely extinguished.

From his eyelashes, water descended and cascaded down his pale skin. With limp joints and apathetic movement, Rin slowly dragged a hand out of a pocket and gradually raised it higher and higher and higher above his head, before outstretching his long, trembling fingers.

The army of water continued its assault on his face, slipping through between the large cracks of his defence. He knew that an unbreakable barricade was something that could never exist in the world, but it was something he yearned for—something he would walk to the ends of the earth and back for. He just wanted something that could protect him; keep him safe when he couldn't hold up his own weight.

"But there's no way something like that could exist."

Rin knew better than anyone that something like that was only wishful thinking; to wish for such a thing was useless and would only end in disappointment.

'So why do I continue to search for it?'

Almost as if all the strength within his arm was yanked out in a single moment, the boy's wrist dropped along with the rest of his arm, slamming into the wood below. Minutes passed before his mind registered that his pathetic excuse of a wall had fallen, and his head turned ever so slightly to view the disgraceful limb that held no will to move.

Had it hurt? He wasn't sure. Was it something that really mattered, though?

Everything he was doing held no meaning—it was all pointless, useless, unnecessary. So why did he keep it up?

He swam.

But for what purpose? Was it really solely for his father's dream? Or was it really because he wanted to be famous and recognized?

He swam for his school in tournaments.

But was it really for the sake of his team? Or did he swim for no one but himself?

It's impossible to participate in a medley relay with one swimmer. Rin was never particularly close with his teammates, and he knew that the only person he could blame for that was himself. The one who deterred anybody approaching him due to his foul manner of speech and his aggressive mannerisms was him; the one who took his anger out on others was him; the one who pushed away anyone who tried their best to help him…

'All of it was me.'

And now, he'd screwed up the one important relationship that had just started to mend: his relationship with his roommate; his relationship with Nitori.

"All of the blame…rests on me." The cerise-haired swimmer couldn't even feel his lips move as he spoke, fingers attempting to curl into fists, but failing to find the power to stay there.

There was no longer a dry body part in sight—his clothes were soaked through, and the feeling of the fabric sticking to him was uncomfortable—but it was an acceptable price to pay for the completely unacceptable attitude he had shown to his friend. The kid was his kouhai, but honestly, he'd never viewed him as one. Nitori could be loudmouthed, persistent, and could clearly make a mess within ten seconds flat, but the good attributes heavily outweighed the negative.

The kid was patient, understanding, caring, and always tried his hardest. Rin had said and done some godawful things to him, but never did he blow up in his face, or give up trying to be friendly with him—he stayed.

'…He stayed with me. Ai stayed with me. He stayed.'

After the regional tournament, when Rin thought that finally, he could break free from his suffocating emotions, he began doing all he could to mend the chains of his friendship with Nitori. In fact, since then, he'd been enjoying his time with Nitori.

But of course, thinking it would remain like that was just another batch of wishful thinking.

Without any thought, he'd blown up in the kid's face. He'd shouted at him; insulted him in some of the worst ways possible. And for what reason? Nitori'd never done anything wrong—did he just think that he could take his anger out on Nitori like it was nothing? Did he think Nitori was some…some toy or something? A toy that he could degrade as much as he liked? A toy that he could use as a fucking…a fucking punching bag or something!? A toy that—

"You'll catch a cold if you stay out here dressed like that."

The deep-voiced rumbling came from behind, and before Rin knew it, no more rain was hammering on his head. Tired eyes could do little but blink as the red hair-covered head slowly fell backwards.

'An umbrella?'

Irises dropped to the side, where they met with piercing yellow.


It came out as a genuine question, like his brain couldn't seem to recognize the what-should-be familiar outline of Seijuurou. The eyebrows of the other were raised in concern—perhaps?—and Rin couldn't comprehend why. Was there a reason for his captain to be concerned?

"What are you doing out here? You're totally soaked."

Well, no shit.

"I've been out looking for you for ages."

A hand pushed firmly into Rin's shoulder.

"You can't stay out here like this, Matsuoka. We need to go back to the dorm."

Despite Seijuurou's efforts to get Rin to move, the boy didn't budge an inch. Instead, he kept his eyes focused intently on those golden eyes that continued to shine, even in the darkness of dull weather.

Simple words were enough to set alight the candles of anger that lay deep within Rin's body. Without the correct fuel, those candles were impossible to light—and if he could keep it that way, he would. However, just because he didn't want the candles of ire to be set fire to, it didn't mean he didn't want other candles to burn.

To light a candle, you need fire. But for fire, you need fuel. That necessary ingredient was the one thing that Rin didn't have. That fuel was the one thing that Rin could no longer reach.

That was what he had thought, at least.

But standing before him was a very healthy supply of fuel—a supply of fuel that would take years to be used up.

Samezuka Academy's Mikoshiba Seijuurou, captain of the swim team was his, Matsuoka Rin's, fuel. Perhaps not his only fuel in the future, but certainly for now.

"…How's Nito—I mean, how's Ai?"

Rin couldn't hide the surprise on his face when his voice unexpectedly cracked at the end of the sentence, and neither could Seijuurou. But the strict, kind-hearted captain's lips soon turned into a gentle smile as he easily gave his reply.

"Nitori's worried sick about you. So how about we get you back there and cheer him up, huh?"

As soon as those words hit his ears, he felt it. It was faint, but there was no doubt in his mind that it was there: a small, yet strong flame had been ignited. Rin couldn't say which candle it was, but he knew, without any doubt in his mind, that Seijuurou really was one part of the fuel he had been reaching out for. 'Maybe he's one part of the barricade I've been wishing for as well.'

Not once had Rin thought he was ever deserving of Nitori's kindness. He'd never imagined the kid to care of his whereabouts but, though he had no proof that the boy really was concerned about him, the captain's words were enough to raise some sort of hope within him.

It wasn't much, but Rin could feel strength returning to his body—to his mind.

Rin's attempt to stand acted as the silent agreement to Seijuurou's proposal, and though he required assistance to walk, the hope that had been granted to him allowed him to give the slightest of smiles.

With the re-ignition of the candle of faith, perhaps there was still a chance for the boy to live a good life.

A/N: And there we have it. Thank you for reading and I hope you could enjoy it to some degree!