“How was your day?” She asked, cleaning up the last plate in the sink as she smiled at her son, who had just come back from school.
“Fine…” he muttered, sitting dow at the table.
“What’s wrong?” She glanced back at him, raising an eyebrow curiously.
“Hm…” she mused. “You look like how your dad used to be when he fell for someone.”
“E-eh? How did you know?”
“Now tell me.”
“...there’s this girl I like, but she clearly doesn’t like me back.”
“I have a good story that might cheer you up,” she suggested. “It all started one day…”
Gou was just about ready to toss her phone into the pool. Unfortunately, swim practice was going on, and the boys were probably not going to appreciate being possibly electrocuted.
So she went easy on him.
“What did you need, Mikoshiba-san?” she grumbled, although trying to sound as dignified as possible.
“I was wondering if we could have a joint practice a few days from now,” came the cheerful reply.
Gou tensed. All his other calls had been about him inviting her to come to the movies, or a cafe. Perhaps there was a catch here. Or maybe he was sincerely trying to get their two teams together to practice. She was about to decide on the latter, just for the sake of her teammates. But then, if there really was a catch…
“I’ll ask the others first. Can you give me a moment?” At least it didn’t make her look bad if she had to say no.
Gou grabbed up her megaphone and turned it on. “All right, come in!” she called out towards the pool.
Makoto got out first, taking off his cap and goggles with his strong hand. “Is something up?” he inquired, with his classic warm smile already on his face.
“You’ll see,” she promised.
The other three had popped out of the pool, dripping water all over the hot dry deck.
“Um…” Gou looked around at them with a small smile. “Mikoshiba-san wanted to schedule a joint practice with us.”
“I don’t see why not,” their captain responded, shrugging. “I say we do it.”
“Whatever Makoto says is fine with me,” Haruka interjected. Of course. He was probably thinking about some other creative way to cook his mackerel for dinner, and could care less about what they did, as long as they swam.
“It would be a good way to show off my exceptional butterfly stroke.” Rei pushed his glasses up, and she wondered how he had gotten on his glasses so quickly after just getting out of the pool only a few seconds ago. She decided that it must have been megane magic.
“I want to see Rin-rin!” Nagisa already looked excited, and started jumping around despite the protests of an irritated Rei.
Her brother was on the swim team. Right. Gou had almost forgot, having not been thinking about him at all for the past couple of days.
“What about you, Amakata-sensei?” She turned to their faculty advisor, who was sitting behind them in a lawn chair, holding an umbrella over her head like usual.
“I think we should go for it!” Amakata nodded in approval. “As the great-”
“Okay, we got it.” Gou hastingly opened her phone again. “Mikoshiba-san, are you still there?”
“Oh, so that’s who he was calling,” a familiar voice mused.
She could hear him almost growling on the other side. “I thought we went over this the other day! You’re too young to have a boyfriend, especially if he’s Mikoshiba!”
Her face was already starting to flush. “We’re not dating!” she retorted. “We were just talking about scheduling a joint practice! Geez, Big Brother.”
“Like hell you were-” His voice suddenly cut off, and there was a faint scuffling noise.
“Sorry about that, Gou-kun. Your brother was being persistent.” Now it was Mikoshiba on the other end.
“Um, it’s fine…” Gou could feel her face still burning from the previous conversation. “T-the others said okay, so when is your team free?”
“Hm, how about tomorrow?”
Tomorrow? She glanced at her clipboard a few meters away on the ground, and it looked as though they were free.
“Okay” was all she could muster without obviously being embarrassed as hell.
“Alright, see you then Gou-kun!” And he hung up.
“...were you guys eavesdropping?”
Gou couldn’t sleep.
The clock read 1 a.m. when she rolled over on her bed to look at it. Yes, it was late, and she should be tired and already asleep, but she wasn’t. She flipped back onto her back and sighed.
Just as she was about to finally drift off, her phone suddenly vibrated, rousing her from her about-to-sleep trance. She stood up and groggily picked it up from her side dresser, rubbing her eyes.
Flipping open her phone, she clicked around. Message from...Big Brother? She sat down on her bed, confused at this latest turns of events. He would never, ever, EVER send her a text. In fact, Gou’s never seen him with his phone before. So what was so important that her brother would actually send her a text?
Matsuoka Rin: Oi, respond.
Matsuoka Gou: What do you want?
Matsuoka Rin: I want you to promise me something.
Gou glanced at her phone in confusion. She replied hesitantly.
Matsuoka Gou: Okay...but what?
Matsuoka Rin: Only talk to Mikoshiba when I’m around.
She huffed in anger. She was already in high school, she was capable of taking of herself perfectly fine! She quickly typed out a response and pressed the ‘send’ button forcefully.
Matsuoka Gou: Why?
Matsuoka Rin: If I don’t keep an eye, you’re gonna go out with that idiot.
She hugged her pillow to her chest tightly in anger, under the pretense that it was her brother and that she was choking him to death. Why did he have to be in her business all the time anyway? And besides, it wasn’t as if she had a...crush...on...Captain….Mikoshiba…
She stuffed her face into the pillow, already forgetting that it was supposed to be her brother. Her face was flushed pink and her heart was skipping beats. She was confusing herself now. Of course she didn’t like Mikoshiba. What was she thinking? He’s a dumb redhead joke of captain, she told herself. Just another idiot she didn’t need to associate herself with.
Her phone vibrated once more, and she didn’t hesitate to pick it up and check his reply.
Matsuoka Rin: Gou respond.
Right. She hadn’t even responded to his earlier text, instead choking her pillow.
Matsuoka Gou: Stop, I can take care of myself perfectly fine. GOODNIGHT BIG BROTHER.
She slipped her phone into her backpack, promising herself to not answer anything. As she fell back onto her bed and stared up at the white ceiling, she thought to herself.
The clock read 2 a.m, her phone vibrated, and she was tired, but she just thought and thought and thought.
The swim team met at the train station after school.
“Is it always this crowded?” Makoto glanced around at the giant jam-packed crowds with his wide brown eyes.
“Not always!” Nagisa chirped as he pointed it out cheerfully, a grin spread out across his visage.
“It’s even worse on Fridays!”
“That’s not what I meant…” The captain sighed exasperatedly. “So shall we go to Samezuka now?” he asked loudly over the crowd noise.
“Yes!” Everyone replied, except for...
“Oh, sorry!” She broke out of her trance and scratched her cheek nervously. “Yes, let’s go.”
“Gou-san, are you alright?” Rei asked, looking concerned, although you really could never tell with tsundere meganes like Rei. He could be being sarcastic for all you would know.
“Yes, I’m fine.” She managed to plaster a decent smile onto her face. “We’re going to miss the train if we wait anymore, so let’s get going!”
Haruka gave her a ‘this-is-suspicious’ look before squeezing into the crowd with the others. Gou quickly followed behind their vice-captain, forcing her way through to the train doors.
“Go, go, go, go, go swim team!” She could hear Nagisa’s voice even over the bustling crowds, and she finally managed to push through.
They all managed to find seats, the five of them.
Gou stared out of the window, clearly deep in thought.
“Hm?” She glanced at Nagisa, who stared at her all concernedly-like, which was rare for him. Something must actually be wrong.
Something must actually be wrong with her then.
“Nothing.” Gou tried to brush it off, but she already knew it wouldn't work, especially with someone like Nagisa.
“No, really, Gou-chan. Will you tell me?”
Oh no. He was pulling THOSE eyes on her. She clenched her teeth, knowing that it was already futile to resist.
“Fine,” she murmured under her breath. “But you have to promise not to tell the others, okay?”
“Okay!” he promised, giving her a quick thumbs up. “Promise!”
Gou took a deep breath, then spoke. “Um...what does it mean when you feel like your heart is going to go out on you when you think of someone?”
“Ooh, girl trouble, is it?” He grinned at Gou cheerfully, eyes sparkling with excitement. “It means you like someone, Gou-chan!”
Nagisa nodded. “Mmhm!”
“Thank you, Nagisa.” She smiled. “That’s all.”
“Welcome to Samzeuka Academy!”
Mikoshiba greeted the Iwatobi Swim Club as they entered the pool area, ready to go.
“Don’t you say that everytime we come here?” Rei, as usual, was looking melancholy as he glanced around at the high-tech facilities the other school had for the umpteenth time.
“You’re right,” the red-haired captain mused out loud, glancing at their visitors. “How about… ‘We welcome you to our humble practice area?’”
“You sound like a butler!” Nagisa commented, laughing a little bit,
Gou ignored their bickering, instead lookiung around like Rei was. Except that she wasn’t looking at the facilities to be exact…
“I can never get enough of these muscles!” she gushed to herself. “No wonder this is a nationally ranked swim club!”
“You say that everytime too, Gou.” their team’s captain replied nonchalantly, smiling in the way that only he could achieve.
“Can we swim?” Haruka interrupted both conversations. despite how quite his vooice was. He was watching the other swim team warm up, jealousy swimming in his bright eyes.
“Oh, right, of course!” Mikoshiba grinned as he peered back towards his ow teammates. “You guys can warm up, then you can practice with our second years today.”
‘Second years’ reminded Gou that her big brother was watching her especially carefully today. She spotted him stretching, his scowl noticeable as he stared towards them, not caring whether he was obvious in doing so or not.
Rin was an embarassement. She stopped herself from hiding her face in her hands from pure shame.
The other members left to go warm up, leaving her and Mikoshiba standing there.
“I told you, don’t put Gou and -kun together!”
He ignored her. “Be careful about the construction over there.” Mikoshiba pointed towards a roped-off area which cut off about half of their 50 meter pool, still filled with water.
She nodded. “Okay, I’ll be careful.”
He gave her a quick thumbs up and walked off, stretching.
Gou stood there, stunned. One, probably because he didn’t try to pull moves on her and two, his back muscles were looking pretty-
No, Gou, no thinking about that! She shook herself out o her little trance, reminding herself that her brother was watfching. Nesides, the captain was just another swimmer, of course he would be buff.
Gou ignored her brother’s glares as she strolled over to the side of the pool near the construction, watching her teammates carefully and scribbling down some notes for future reference.
Once everyone had finished warming up, they started doing practice trails again, like they did everytime they had a joint practice.
Rei was up first, her brother in the lane beside him. They glared at each other discretely before they both snapped on their goggles and bent over on the starting block.
“Ready, set, go!”
The megane was still in perfect form as usual, she noted. But he needed to work on his consistency-
A laugh and an accidental bump.
SPLOOSH! Straight into the construction area.
Blackness prevailed her consciousness before she knew what was even going on.
“Gou. Are you okay?”
Gou tried to respond, but she couldn’t open her mouth. Maybe she was too tired.
“Gou-kun! Wake up!”
She finally managed to open her eyes, fluttering open. “E-eh...what happened?”
“You nearly drowned, Gou-chan!” Purple eyes stared into hers with concern.
“I told you she would be okay,” Rei commented as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
“Shut up, Speedo Glasses, we don’t need your bragging here.” Her brother sat cross-legged a few feet away, looking as stubborn as usual.
Makoto smiled a bit. “We were worried, Gou.”
“Sorry…” She smiled back weakly and tried to get up, all wobbly.
“Be careful,” Haruka voiced as he snapped on his goggles again. “I’m going back to the pool.”
But the one Gou was looking at was not them, but Mikoshiba.
He was just leaning against the wall, looking all lonely and being quiet.
“Mikoshiba-san.” She lumbered over to him. “Sorry for worrying you too.”
“You know, he was the one who saved you~” Nagisa put in cheerfully. “So fast too!”
He nodded slowly. “At least you’re alright now, Gou-kun.”
“...and that’s how I fell in love with your dad.” Gou smiled cheerfully at her first son. “Do you feel a bit better now?”
“So things aren’t always as they seem, eh?” He grinned. “Thanks, Mom. That actually made me feel a lot better.”
The door opened suddenly, and a familiar red head stepped in.
“Welcome home, Sei-kun.” Gou greeted her husband.
Mikoshiba grinned at her. “Business went well today.” He ruffled his son’s hair and kised his wife in her cheek.“Hey, Dad, did you know? Mom told me the story about how she fell in love with you!”