At the end of your first day, you sent a text to your parents, informing them you might be late home, in case they arrived home early first. Doubtful, but you needed to be sure of every possible outcome. As you grabbed your school bag, heading to Makoto and Haruka who were standing out the classroom waiting for you, you received a text back.
That’s alright Honey, have a great time. We won’t be back till late, take your time. Just be back before dark. Mum, xxx
You smiled at the text, putting your phone away.
“Ready to go?” Makoto asked, smiling kindly at you again. You nodded, walking between the two of them as they led you to the pool. You met up with Nagisa and Rei on the way there, and were introduced to a girl with long red hair and red eyes. You learnt her name was Gou, but she preferred being called Kou.
“So, [first name], I don’t suppose you have a swimsuit, do you?” Rei suddenly asked, making you come to a stop. That was one thing you didn’t have.
“U-Uh…” you started, noticing they’d all stopped to look at you. Kou suddenly jumped into the conversation, putting an arm over your shoulders.
“Don’t worry, we have a spare male and a spare female one in the back room. You can borrow that till you get one of your own” Kou stated, winking at you. You smiled in gratitude, walking alongside Kou as she led you to the female change rooms. The boys went to the male change rooms. As you stepped in and Kou began looking for the swimsuit for you, you began taking off your jacket and tie.
“Here it is!” Kou announced, pulling out a navy blue, sports swimsuit one piece. You smiled at her in gratitude, then began taking off the rest of your clothes. Kou sat down, waiting for you to finish changing when she gasped. You froze, wondering what had startled her.
“[first name], is that a birthmark?” Kou asked and you instantly turned to hide your back from her. You had always felt ashamed of the large birthmark on your back, just in the small of it near your pelvis. According to people it looked like a clam, or some sort of sea shell.
“O-Oh… sorry… I shouldn’t have said anything…” Kou said, sensing your awkwardness and fear. You had always been very self-conscious of your back, but you didn’t think Kou would say anything mean about it. That still didn’t change how you felt about it though. You put on the swimsuit, thankful the hole in the back of it that was part of its design was on the upper back.
“It fits you just right! I thought that swim suit would fit” Kou stated, jumping to her feet. You smiled back at her, thankful she hadn’t brought up the birthmark again. Kou then grabbed your wrist, pulling you out towards the pool. You managed to snatch a towel, putting it over your shoulders as you were dragged along. The boys were already out and gathered along the edge of the pool.
“Wow! [First name]! You look amazing in that!!” Nagisa suddenly shouted when he spotted you. The boys all looked at you, and they all went a little pink in the face. Nagisa jumped to his feet, running to you and suddenly hugged you tightly. You froze, blinking in shock.
“Wow, your skin’s so soft! Hey guys! Her skin is so soft! Come feel!” Nagisa suddenly shouted to the boys as Kou grabbed his ear, pulling him away. The other boys had become really awkward as you looked at the ground, blushing.
“Ow! Ow! Gou, that hurts! That’s my ear!” Nagisa shouted in painful protest as Kou pushed him into the pool.
“It’s Kou, not Gou!” she yelled to him, then dusted off her hands, walking back to you.
“Sorry about him [first name]. Is there a particular style of swimming you do?” Kou asked, giving you a smile.
“U-Um… I kinda swim all styles…” you responded, giving her a shy smile back. Kou grinned, pulling out her stop watch.
“Alright! Time to record how fast you swim in each stroke!” Kou declared, giggling. You sighed, walking to the edge of the pool. You stepped up, getting ready to dive in.
“Wait!” called out Makoto suddenly, making you turn to look at him. He approached you, holding his hand out.
“Here, you can borrow these while you swim” Makoto offered, handing you his goggles. You looked down at his hand, accepting the goggles then smiled at him. Your smile must’ve startled him because he blinked in shock, his cheeks tinged with pink, before he smiled back at you. You put on the goggles, adjusting them a little for your smaller sized head, then made sure they were on correctly. You leaned forward, getting ready to dive in. Luckily Nagisa had fished himself out the pool and was now sulking over his soaked jacket.
“Alright! 100m Breaststroke! Ready, set, GO!” Kou shouted as you dove into the pool, beginning to swim breaststroke down the lane. You couldn’t hear much of anything due to the water in your ears, so you focused on where you were going and moving your legs in the correct movements. When you reached the turn off point, you turned, kicking off the wall and began swimming back up to where Kou was. You could see all the boys were looking a little shocked, but they looked impressed mostly. When your hands hit the wall, you stopped, letting your head out the water.
“Impressive [first name]! Really great for your first try! Here, have some water!” Kou stated, leaning over the edge of the pool and offering you a bottle of water. You accepted happily, guzzling a little before inhaling deeply.
“Thanks… I forgot how tiring swimming can be. Anyway, what’s next?” you asked, pulling yourself up out of the pool.
“Alright, I think the next one should be backstroke. Then you’ll do freestyle, then butterfly, okay?” Kou explained. Sounded reasonable enough, so you nodded in response. After a few minutes break, you put down the bottle of water and returned to where you stood before.
“Alright, 100m backstroke. Are you ready?” Kou asked as you jumped into the pool, grabbing the pole and resting your legs up where they needed to be. You held onto the wall in a crouched, crab position.
“Alright, ready, set, GO!” Kou shouted as you launched from the wall, curving your back and swimming along to the wall on your back. Again, you couldn’t hear anything due to the water in your ears. You swam as fast as you could, touching the wall and launching yourself off it again, swimming back. You tried to imagine a shark or some other dangerous animal was chasing you, giving you incentive to swim at your fastest. You touched the wall, standing upright.
“Wow that was fast! You’re really good [first name]!” Kou stated, looking at the boys as they all nodded in approval.
“So, the next one’s freestyle, right? Just give me a minute to catch my breath” you said, hoisting yourself up again. You downed some more water, putting it aside. As you stood and got ready to dive again, you noticed Miss Ama sitting in a chair with a parasol, watching over everyone.
“Alrighty, 100m freestyle, ready, set, GO!” Kou shouted, making you dive in. You kicked your legs, moving your arms and began swimming towards the wall. It wasn’t long till you reached it, then turned, launching yourself off the wall. A few kicks later and you were swimming back towards the others. You hit the wall, standing up and began breathing heavily.
“You’re really good, but so far breaststroke is your fastest” Makoto said as he stood beside Kou, looking at the sheet of times she’d written. You gave them a smile, attempting to pull yourself out the pool, but your foot slipped. All of a sudden you were waist down back in the water. You sighed, pulling yourself up again. This time you succeeded.
“I’m tired… guess I can go one more though…” you said, drinking about half of the water you had in the drink bottle. You stood, returning back to where you dove in.
“100m butterfly, ready, set, GO!” Kou yelled, signaling your dive. You dove in, quickly raising both your arms up out of the water at the same time. You made it to the wall, a little slower than normal, kicking off and propelling yourself forward. Repeating the same process, you hit the wall and stood up.
“Not as fast as your other times, but you’re really good!” Kou said, leaning down and smiling at you. You panted heavily, taking off the goggles Makoto had lent you. You tried to pull yourself up, but didn’t even manage to lift your legs. You just stood there, holding the wall as you tried to regain your strength. Soon, a hand was extended to you. You looked up, seeing Makoto offering you a hand. You blinked, looking up at him as he just smiled kindly back at you. You went to go accept his offer when another hand appeared alongside it. You looked at the other owner, seeing Haruka offering you a hand as well. You giggled, accepting both as they worked together to pull you out the pool and to your feet.
“So, what do you think of the club so far?” Rei asked, approaching you. Nagisa also rushed to you, suddenly grabbing and hugging your arm happily.
“She loves us, doesn’t she!?” Nagisa exclaimed, laughing. You couldn’t help but laugh.
“Nagisa, that’s for her to decide, isn’t it?” Rei asked, crossing his arms in disapproval. Nagisa let go of your arm, pouting at Rei.
“But Rei…” Nagisa whined, now clinging to Rei’s arm. You found the scene hilarious and began cracking up laughing. You clutched your stomach, doubling over a little from laughing so much, tears forming in the corners of your eyes.
The boys became silent, watching you, then began laughing quietly to themselves as they smiled at each other in accomplishment.
“I’d say with how you all get along that it’s a definite yes” Kou stated, smiling at them all as she added, “And with your times [first name], it’s a definite yes from us!”
“Okay, I’ll join. Please look after me everyone” you said, finally calming down enough to talk. As you turned from looking at Kou, a towel suddenly landed on your head and around your shoulders. You turned to look at the culprit, seeing Makoto smiling down at you. He was about a head taller than you.
“T-Thanks… and thanks for these…” you thanked, handing him back his goggles. Makoto just smiled at you more, giving you that bright, warm, motherly smile.
“Anytime. We’re here to help, and I hope by now, we’re friends” Makoto responded.
“I see [first name] as my friend! Definitely!!” Nagisa suddenly shouted, launching a fist up at the sky.
“I agree, we could learn to be good friends!” Rei added, adjusting his glasses on his face. Haru smiled, nodding.
“Well, I guess that makes us a little swimming club family” Makoto added, putting a hand forward. Nagisa laughed, adding his hand on top as Rei added his. Haru smiled, adding his hand in, then the boys looked at you. Kou giggled, dashing to you, grabbing your hand and placing it on the pile as she then proudly put her own on top. Everyone began smiling and laughing with each other. You looked around at them all, seeing the happy smiles on their faces.
“We’re a team, every member is irreplaceable” Haru stated, smiling at you. You felt a smile grow on your face and a warm, fluttery feeling growing in your chest. You’d never felt so accepted before in your life, not at your old school, or at home. You closed your eyes, still smiling, then nodded in confirmation.
“That settles it then! Miss [first name] [last name] is the newest member of the Iwatobi Swimming Club!” Miss Ama said from her chair as she twirled her parasol happily.