sunnyskies: (Default)
Tree ([personal profile] sunnyskies) wrote2013-08-27 11:51 am

High Speed! Chapter Six

What's this? A chapter before midnight? Clearly the world is ending.

Important note: Since the next chapter (chapter 7) is pretty long, I am going to be splitting it into two parts. One will go up next week, and the other the week after that (hopefully, anyway). Sorry for the delay!

On with chapter 6!

Chapter 6: Team

The unidentified flowers in the graduation-project flower bed were beginning to bud in ones and twos. The girls had planted the seeds, but were keeping the types of seeds a secret from the boys. Haruka wondered if they were the flowers that Makoto had mentioned, the ones that would bloom during their graduation ceremony. They looked like they wouldn't be able to make it in time, though.

He looked up at the cherry tree. There still weren't any buds. It looked like Rin's wish to swim in a pool full of floating cherry petals wasn't going to come true, either.

He looked down at his feet, at the light brown earth spread out there. He wondered if the roots of the cherry tree were growing deep beneath that earth. How did the cherry tree feel about having something like a flower bed planted above those roots that had been growing for so many years? He wondered how he would feel, if he were a cherry tree.

After he thought this, a bitter smile came to his face. If he were a cherry tree, he probably wouldn't feel anything. He wouldn't be worried about something like a flower bed. He wouldn't be led astray, or have to distance himself from others. As long as he could face toward the sky and let his branches grow, he wouldn't have to worry about anything else.

Once he considered that he was the only one worrying, while the cherry tree in question wasn't concerned at all, for some reason, he began to laugh.

"Does it make you that happy that the flowers are coming out, Haru?"

Without Haruka noticing, Rin and Makoto were standing right next to him.

"Not really." Haruka didn't intend to explain his thoughts to Rin. On the other hand, denying things was troublesome, too. And so, that was the answer he gave.

"It'll be graduation soon," Makoto said feelingly, looking up at the cherry tree.

"It really will. A farewell to our old schoolhouse full of memories!" Rin raised his voice like a bad actor. Haruka wasn't nice enough to react every single time. Not like Makoto.

"There's only two months left, right? Wouldn't you rather be in your old school's graduation ceremony?"

Rin's smile suddenly fell. He dropped his eyes to the flower bed and stared at the small buds. "I've definitely cut ties with Sano Elementary." In a performance slightly better than a bad actor's, Rin made a woeful face.

"Sorry. I said something insensitive." Makoto reacted again, even though that wasn't something worth worrying about, even if it wasn't just for show.

"Don't worry about it. It's in the past. Right now, I'm a member of Iwatobi Elementary."

"That's right. We'll be graduating together, then, won't we?" After he'd said this, Makoto's smile clouded over a little bit. Looking as though he wanted to say something, he turned his gaze toward Rin and hesitated there.

"What?" Rin asked, in response to Makoto's look.

"Um, I was just a little worried, because you didn't come to yesterday's information session."

This was the explanatory meeting about middle school. Things like uniforms, textbooks, and club activities were explained. But Rin hadn't come.

Rin looked up at the still-bare cherry tree. The sunlight filtered through the gaps in its branches, making him squint his eyes. "That's because I'm not going to middle school here."

Haruka turned his eyes toward Rin. He couldn't judge whether Rin was joking or serious, so he tried to read it from Rin's expression. But the sunlight filtering through the cherry tree's branches was making patterns on Rin's face as he looked up at the sky, and Haruka couldn't read anything from it. Haruka, still facing the cherry tree, waited for Makoto to say something. At times like this, Makoto always asked the questions Haruka wanted to ask so that he didn't have to.

"What do you mean? Why didn't you say anything? We're on the same team! Aren't we friends?" Makoto didn't ask where Rin was going, or what he was planning to do there. The fact that they were on the same team was probably the most important thing to Makoto right now. That was why he was pestering Rin about the emotional issue of why he hadn't said anything.

For Haruka, those were things he would never say - things like "team" and "friends". Makoto accepted that kind of thing extremely easily, and put it into words. So easily, in fact, that Haruka was embarrassed just listening to him.

"I wasn't keeping quiet about it or anything. It was only just decided yesterday where I'm going."


Haruka couldn't understand this conversation at all. "Yesterday"? "Where I'm going"? They still weren't talking about any of the crucial things, like why Rin had transferred in the first place, or why he had dragged Haruka and Makoto into his plans, or why he was so fixated on something like a relay.

Rin lightly shaded his face as though the sun was too bright, and said nearly in a whisper, "I'm going to Australia."

"Australia? You mean, overseas?" Makoto asked the idiotic question. Obviously it was overseas. There was nowhere called "Australia" in Japan. And from the way the conversation was going, it didn't seem likely that Rin was just going there on a trip.

"I sent applications to a bunch of schools, but acceptances were finally decided just yesterday."

Makoto looked confused. He was frozen with his mouth slightly open, as though he wanted to say something. There were probably a number of words going back and forth inside his head.

"I transferred to this school after I'd already decided to go to Australia. I figured I'd tell you guys about it once I knew for sure where I was going. I didn't want to annoy you guys with something half-done and confusing."

Exactly how selfish is this jerk? Haruka ground his molars together, overflowing with rage. Rin had already thrown their lives into plenty of confusion, and as for annoyance, he'd caused a lot of that, too!

"……Sorry." Rin mumbled quietly, perhaps sensing Haruka's feelings.

The wind, carrying the clear scent of spring, curled itself around Haruka. He thought about how he wanted to hurry up and swim. He thought about how he wanted to hurry up and shake off this sickly-sweet wind. And he thought about how he wanted to hurry up and be freed from his obligations to this incomprehensible jerk.

Makoto finally found a short question among the dozens of words going back and forth inside his head. "Why are you going to Australia?"

"To study swimming." For the short question, the minimum necessary answer was given.

Haruka, still face-to-face with the cherry tree, asked Rin a question. "What do you want to do?" His voice was nearly quiet enough to be lost even in the barely-there wind.

"I want…to be an Olympic swimmer."

Haruka doesn't laugh. Whatever Rin wants to become is fine. But that wasn't the question Haruka had wanted answered. Rin was always that way. He would say whatever he wanted, while hiding his real self. Even now, he was standing in front of Haruka underneath the cherry tree and saying whatever he wanted.

With his upturned eyebrows raised and his eyes wide, Makoto blinked once as if he'd just remembered something. "When are you leaving?"

"The meet…the day after that."

"Then we don't have much longer to swim together, do we?" Makoto looked at Haruka. Though Haruka knew he was being watched, he stayed quiet and kept facing the cherry tree.

Haru, what do you think? How do you really feel? Haruka had a feeling that Makoto was asking him that with his eyes, and so Haruka couldn't look Makoto directly in the face. He was full of anger with no outlet, trying to push it down inside his chest and only barely restraining the impulse to run off. He wanted to hurry up and let his body slide into the water. The water would free him from these unnecessary obligations.

I want to hurry up and run to the water. Haruka's pulse was beating hard. His blood was flowing fast through his whole body. His temples were growing hot, and sweat was gathering in the palms of his hands. …Am I running away?

Was he running away to the water? Had he been running away to the water in order to find peace, to turn his eyes away from the real world, to hide his real feelings?

He had thought that he and the water acknowledged each other's existence, without trying to either unite with or suppress each other. Had he just been depending on the sufficiency he felt from that acknowledgement? Was he swimming for a reason like that?

He wanted to deny it. He wanted to refuse it vehemently. But the more he thought about it, the more it started to weigh on Haruka like an undeniable truth.

He didn't know what he should do anymore. The moment he realized that he'd been depending on the water, he felt as though the self that he'd thought was standing tall was going to crumble any second. Both of Haruka's legs felt thin and fragile, about to break, as if they were only barely supporting him.

That can't be true! These were the legs that he had run with, jumped with, swum with. There was no way they were that weak. But even as he thought that, he couldn't suppress the faint tremors running through his legs.

Haruka looked at Makoto. Makoto was still asking him, what are your real feelings?

Before, Makoto had told Haruka that he was running away from the water. If Haruka laid himself bare like that, and acknowledged it honestly, would he start to feel a little bit better?

The lukewarm spring wind wrapped itself around Haruka. It no longer had the harshness of winter. It no longer gusted strongly or froze. There was no need to brace yourself against it. It's all right for you to be honest, it whispered to Haruka.

Haruka would not be tempted by such things. Always, no matter where he was, he wanted to remain himself. He wanted to continue to be his own, strong self. To set his teeth, and stand on his own. He mustn't run away. There was no way that he would acknowledge that he was weak. He had to continue to be strong. No matter what, he had to continue to be himself.

Makoto's eyes asked him once more: Haru, what do you think?

Haruka didn't answer. He couldn't answer. Where Rin went and what he became - those were things that had nothing to do with Haruka. But he couldn't change the reality that Rin was right in front of him, that they were on the same team. And Haruka didn't intend to change his feelings about having decided to swim in the relay. So he would swim. He'd swim his hardest. He would never run away, so that he could continue to be his strong self.

"……Fine." Haruka's voice floated on the wind of the coming spring.

"Haru?" Makoto drew his upturned eyebrows together and looked worriedly at Haruka.

"The next meet." Haruka said only that, and turned his gaze toward Rin.

Rin's eyes widened, and he faced Haruka squarely from the front. "You're okay with it? You'll narrow down to just the relay?" The words slipped out of the edge of his mouth. Rin was too clever by half. Haruka had thought he'd need to elaborate more. But he had been deciphered as though his heart had been seen through, and so Haruka lost his next words. His irritation rose at the sight of Rin's I-know-everything face, and Haruka ground his teeth once more.

But Haruka wasn't going to run anymore. That was what he had decided. Nor from the relay, not from Rin, and not from himself. That was why he had no intention of turning back at this point.

"Will you really only swim the relay?" Rin kept pushing his pointless concern.

"That's what I meant." Haruka spat out, as he turned back to the cherry tree. Rin's happy face caught the corner of his eye, and that made Haruka irritated again.

"All right! Well, then, Haru, I'll show you a scene you've never seen before!"

"…A scene I've never seen before?"

"Yeah! An amazing scene that can't be seen without the four of us together!"

The sun's angle had changed a bit while Haruka wasn't paying attention. The light wove through the complicated tangle of branches and struck brightly upon Haruka's face. He merely squinted his eyes a bit, and didn't look up the way Rin had.

Makoto was gazing at Haruka with the expression of a lost child. Haruka had intended his answer for Makoto. He'd just have to figure out the rest for himself. Haruka didn't want to be pushy or entitled like Rin was. Makoto should think things out for himself, come up with an answer, and then act. Haruka wouldn't push him away or be cold to him for it. If Makoto decided on something, it was because he thought it was the right choice to make.

"……Haru." Makoto said, his voice wavering like dry leaves floating on the wind. "Will you let me see it too? That scene."

He should have asked Rin. Haruka didn't even know what it was that Makoto wanted to see, or rather, what it was that Haruka was supposed to show him.

"I want to see it too, Rin. I want to swim with everyone."

Rin's face broke into a smile, and he punched Makoto lightly in the shoulder. "That's the first time you've called me 'Rin'. Don't worry, I'm sure we can do it."

Makoto raised his upturned eyebrows and nodded.

From somewhere, the chirping of a small bird could be heard. Perhaps that bird was marking its path as it soared through the cloudless sky, as if was aiming for its goal somewhere in the endless distance.

"Well, then." Rin snapped his goggle strap and went to stand on the starting block with a spring in his step.

Haruka, Makoto and Nagisa hadn't arrived yet. Their last class had ended that morning, and in the afternoon, they had split into two groups: one preparing for the graduation ceremony, and one doing cleanup; as soon as they finished their jobs, they were allowed to go home. Haruka and Makoto had been put into the group preparing for the ceremony, and it seemed like they were still working. Nagisa was probably in his afternoon classes, as usual.

And so, it looked like Rin would have some time to swim by himself, for the first time in a while.

Rin watched the hands of the clock to mark his time, and then kicked off the starting block. A dolphin kick off his handing. Then his stroke. It wasn't butterfly. It was crawl.

There was something that had been bothering him for a while. At the meet where he'd met Haruka, Rin hadn't won a single hundred-meter race. Haruka didn't enter anything but long-course freestyle, so there were races where he wasn't swimming against Rin, but Rin usually competed in both fifty and hundred-meter races. He could win at fifty meters, but no matter what he did, he couldn't win at one hundred.

The first time Rin had swum against Haruka was about a year ago. Rin hadn't thought he'd lose at a town meet, so when he was overtaken, he was quite honestly a little flustered. After that, no matter how hard he swam, he couldn't catch up; they just kept getting farther apart.

Because of the pressure of Haruka gaining on him, and Rin's frustration after being overtaken, by the time he made it to the goal, Rin's stamina was completely exhausted. At any rate, he could barely pull himself out of the pool, and once he did, he laid down without even taking off his goggles.

Rin had lost to Makoto in breaststroke, as well, but it hadn't been the same. It was the first time Rin had felt anything like that kind of pressure or frustration.

His swimming had been flawless. He'd actually gotten quite a good time. Even so, he'd lost. The question why? galloped around inside his head, and at the same time, irritation at being unable to understand swirled in his chest.

Damn. (huff) He's fast. (huff) Who is he? That was what Rin whispered between breaths as he was lying there, spread-eagled.

Rin's time had improved every meet. However, Haruka had improved even more. By the time Rin had caught up to Haruka's previous time, Haruka had already moved further ahead. The idea that he might never be able to catch up lurked in Rin's heart, leaving him with worry and impatience that he couldn't shake. By focusing unreservedly on the relay, Rin wanted to at least catch up to Haruka's time from the last meet.

His turns were sharp, tight, and strong.

He diligently checked his form and his timing. There were no problematic spots to be seen. But even so, when he looked at the clock after reaching the goal, he was too slow. He knew that the difference couldn't be in their physique or muscle strength. On the contrary, at the starts and turns, Rin was faster. That being the case, all that was left was rotation, or perhaps the "snap" of his kick.

That was the most troublesome thing. It was impossible to precisely define the "snap" of a kick in terms of theory. When everything was working perfectly together, from the stroke of your arms, to the rotation of your whole body, to the way you used your hips, then everything would start to come together in the "snap" of your kick. Therefore, no matter how hard you focused on your kick, it wouldn't make you swim faster; there was no clear answer. It was something that you had to test out, find, and become used to, or you couldn't do it.

If Haruka had managed that textbook-perfect kick snap…as Rin thought about that, panic welled up in him again. Or maybe it was Haruka's swimming itself that was Rin's sought-after ideal form. Not the Haruka of today - the one from the previous meet.

Thinking about this and that, Rin climbed up onto the poolside.

"Well, then." He snapped his goggle strap and stepped up onto the starting blocks once more, then looked at the clock. He marked his time and then dove into the pool. He should be able to go thirty more laps - at least, if his stamina held out.

When practice ended and Rin left Iwatobi SC, Gou was standing there, holding a large paper bag. She was Rin's younger sister.


"Ah, big brother!" She turned toward him with a carefree smile. She was one year younger than Rin, in fifth grade. There was the sound of the automatic door opening, and just as she turned toward it, Haruka and the others came out of the building. When Nagisa noticed Gou, he hurried over, curious as always.

"Hey, who's this? Is she a friend of yours, Rin-chan?"

Before Rin could answer, Gou burst out laughing. "You're 'Rin-chan' even here, huh, big brother?"

"W-what are you talking about? Actually, why are you even here?!"

Without answering Rin's question, Gou quickly bowed her head to Haruka and the others. "I'm Matsuoka Gou. Thank you for always looking out for my brother."

Haruka turned towards Makoto with an 'I'm leaving the rest to you' look on his face.

"Hello. I'm Tachibana Makoto,. This is Hazuki Nagisa, and this is Nanase Haruka."

Nagisa smiled at her with a "Nice to meet you!", and Haruka bowed awkwardly.

"Ah, I've heard about you! You're swimming in the relay together the day after tomorrow, right? I heard about it. After every meet, big brother would always say stuff like 'Nanase's so fast, Nanase's so fast'."

"H-Hey, Gou! You don't need to tell them that!" Rin was embarrassed, and couldn't look Haruka in the face.

"But I'm really glad that you're swimming with him. When the deed for our grandma's house transferred to us, we had the option of coming here to use it. Mom was worried, though, because big brother suddenly started talking about transferring all by himself."

"That's enough, geez! Stop talking!" Just as Rin was going to chase Gou off before she could say any more uncalled-for things, Makoto asked her a question.

"Was there a reason you came here?"

"Yeah, I brought this."

Rin took a glance at the contents of the paper bag that Gou offered him. As soon as he realized it was a cookie tin, he became flustered. "You idiot, don't bring that here!" Rin hid it with his body so that the others wouldn't see it.

"But you're going to use it here, aren't you?"

"Yeah, but I asked Mom to bring it to Grandma's house! I didn't know you were going to bring it here!"

"But Mom said that if you were going to use it here anyway, I might as well bring it--"

"There's no point in having it here now, though! I'll bring it with me on Sunday."

"But you'll have all your stuff--"

"It's fine. I don't care how much stuff I have. Anyway, take it back to Grandma's house!"

"Hey, what is it?"

Rin turned around, and Nagisa's big, round eyes were sparkling as he tried to peer into the bag.

"It's not anything. It's got nothing to do with you!" He pushed Nagisa back.

"Sunday's the day of the meet, right? Are you going to use it in the race?" Nagisa was surprisingly sharp at times like this.

"I'm not going to use it. It's not related."

"So, after the race, then? When the commemoration photos are being taken?"

"No! I told you, it's not related!"

"After the pictures? …Ah, I've got it!"


"It's food, right? There's a "well done" party after the meet. I wonder what it is. If it'll keep for three days, then maybe it's something like rice crackers or cookies?"

Rin was startled. Nagisa wasn't quite right, but he was weirdly close to the truth.

"Big brother, you're having a "well done" party? Can I come, too?"

"I'm not having a party! And anyway, you need to get home today, don't you?"

"I'm staying with Mom at Grandma's house until Sunday."

"What about school?"

"Sano Elementary's having their graduation ceremony tomorrow, too. Fifth graders only have half a day, so I'm going to be absent. So I'm going to come and see your graduation with Mom. And the meet after, too."

"It's fine, you don't have to come see."

"I have school on Monday, though, so I can't see you off--"

"I'm going on ahead," Haruka said, and started to walk.

Makoto lightly raised his hand to Gou and started to walk, as well. "See you."

Nagisa waved at Gou and followed after them. "See you next time!"

Oh, geez, Rin thought, turning his back on Gou and following Haruka and the others. As he caught up with the other three, just as they were passing by the harbor, Gou called after him in a loud voice.

"Big brotherrrrrr, tonight we're having sukiyakiiiii!"

Makoto burst out laughing, and Nagisa said "Lucky!" and looked jealous. Rin kept his eyes on the ground and let his speed drop, falling three steps behind the others.

Rin didn't want to talk to anyone anymore. He was starting to understand the prevailing opinion that families were extremely embarrassing.

Haruka was confused. He had thought that the graduation ceremony would be over quickly and easily. He had expected that the ceremony would go forward and that they would get their diplomas with as little fuss as they had the many times they'd practiced. However, he it hadn't occurred to him how confusing it would be to have dozens of people crying right before his eyes. Moreover, the first one to break down had been Rin. Haruka couldn't understand at all why some guy who'd only been here two months was crying, or why he seemed so shaken. And then, as if in sympathy with the loudly-sobbing Rin, everyone else started crying one by one, and Haruka was left completely behind, so all he could do was stand quietly and look on.

It was also surprising that out of all the students, Makoto wasn't in tears, either. It wasn't that Makoto was particularly quick to cry, and he certainly wasn't the type who couldn't control his emotions, but with almost their whole class crying all around him, Makoto being unaffected seemed unnatural.

The tears from the graduation ceremony didn't stop when they returned to their classroom, and continued ceaselessly through their goodbyes to the cherry tree and the flower garden.

Was the wind blowing over the Mutsuki Bridge today? It shouldn't be carrying the harsh cold of winter anymore, though. Was Mt. Kotsuzumi still growing, sparkling against the blue sky, its ridges standing out brightly?

Haruka was running in step with Makoto, thinking about these things and sweating, as usual. The temperature today was warm enough to feel like early summer.

Nagisa came into view, jogging in place near the bridge, and there was the sound of footsteps getting closer from behind them. Without even turning to look, Haruka knew it was Rin.

Rin didn't call out from behind them. He stayed completely silent as he fell into step next to them. It seemed that he'd decided on his own that Haruka hated being suddenly called out to in an over-familiar way.

"Hey." Out of breath, Rin smiled. Haruka gave him a brief glance, just enough to show Rin that he'd heard him.

"Yoo-hoo!" Nagisa waved and rushed over to them. "Hey, Haru-chan, did you cry today?"

The graduation ceremony had ended in the morning, so the afternoon was devoted to club practice. Makoto had told Nagisa about this.

"I didn't cry."

"Really? Even though it was graduation?"

Nagisa's conviction that you were supposed to cry just because it was a graduation ceremony was so silly that Haruka nearly smiled. "Rin-chan was the one who cried."

"Hang on a second! It wasn't just me! Pretty much the whole class was crying! You and Makoto were the weird ones for not crying. And quit calling me 'Rin-chan'. I told you to call me 'Leader', Haru!"

What a troublesome guy, Haruka thought. You wailed that much and you're just now trying to make excuses? "Sure, sure, Leader."

Rin scowled at Haruka. "……Yeah, actually, it sorta pisses me off when you say it, Haru. Just call me Rin."

During this pointless conversation, they had reached the bridge. The wind was blowing, but not from the mountains; it carried the scent of the morning. Riding on that wind, terns were dancing across the calm sky.

Nagisa was running close to Makoto. "Hey, Mako-chan, you didn't cry, either?"

"Nope. Rin was crying so loud it startled me, and the feeling sort of faded away."

"What? You seriously didn't cry? But hey, Rin-chan, why were you crying? You only just got here. Was it maybe because you're about to go to Australia?"

Rin looked uncharacteristically shy when he answered. "I'm just sort of weak to that kind of atmosphere, I guess. We didn't have much time together, but it was a good class, and--wait, how do you know I'm going to Australia?"

"I heard from Mako-chan yesterday. But hey, Rin-chan, you're kind of a crybaby, aren't you?"

Just as Rin was drawing in a breath as if to say something, Haruka sped up a little bit. "I'm going to leave you behind while you're talking."

The other three raised their pace to match Haruka. At some point, Nagisa had stopped being slow. He followed them with light footsteps, his breathing falling into the proper rhythm. It wasn't that he had suddenly gained muscle strength, or that he had gotten taller. It was just that he had cleared a few of the conditions for running faster. Though, he probably didn't realize it himself.

The terns overtook Haruka and the others, returning to the sea. They were never taught how to fly, but as long as they were born with the necessities for flight, that was all it took for them to soar. These thoughts of Haruka's melted into the blue sky along with the terns.

Makoto kicked off the wall hard, releasing his grip at the same time. For a just moment, he stretched out in midair, but the scenery around him quickly changed to water. To make sure that his flutter kick would have enough buoyancy, he paid attention to his downkick. He tried to make his downkick push the water up lightly.

As he began his stroke, he rose to the water's surface. He didn't need to take a breath; he timed his inhale with his recovery. If the rhythm of his breathing was disturbed, it would immediately connect to a disturbance in his form.

He had never swum backstroke in a real competition before. That was why, even though it was just before a meet, Makoto felt almost no tension at all. He didn't know what the common style was for this stroke, or how well he was doing right now compared to that. Since he didn't know anything, he couldn't be worried. And since he wasn't worried, there was no reason for him to be tense. He just felt excited.

At the graduation ceremony, when he wasn't crying with everyone else, it was because he couldn't cry. Up until the ceremony had started, he had thought for sure that he would cry. But during and after the ceremony, his real feelings had never overflowed.

It's not over yet. That feeling had kept his other emotions in check.

It wasn't over yet. The most important race was still waiting. The most important, final race, that he would swim with his teammates, was still waiting. There was no way he could cry when it wasn't even over. There was no way he could cry while he was still this excited. There was no worry or expectation or anything like it. All he had were enthusiastic feelings, to the point that he was worked up with excitement.

Makoto's hand reached out suddenly and touched the wall, and Nagisa dove into the water.

Nagisa, wondering if he had dived too deep, quickly corrected his trajectory. A stroke, a kick. His time was improving. He had felt it himself. The undersides of his legs were starting to grasp the sensation of kicking through the mass of the water. The heavy impact of the water resistance was carried through him from the undersides of his legs.

However, if he was asked whether he could compete with sixth graders, he honestly still didn't have that much confidence in himself. His diving was the same. Though there were times when he thought it went well, there were also times, like just now, when it didn't. He was happy to swim with everyone, but the other side of that was worrying that he was a burden to them. His worries always took precedence, and it made his chest hurt.

That's why I want to swim faster. That thought grew strong, and with his decision, his body felt lighter. The force against the undersides of his legs grew, and he stretched forward. At the same time, the resistance against his forward propulsion grew as well, pushing him back like a wall.

Nagisa turned his awareness to the other side of that wall, and stretched out both hands to break through it.

Rin kicked off the starting block. He landed at an ideal angle in the water. He spread his arms wide off his dolphin kick, and began his butterfly.

In the end, he had finished his crawl practice yesterday without managing an ideal "snap" on his kick. He hadn't been able to surpass Haruka's time. He had the feeling that he was missing something fundamental, and after swimming twenty more laps, he'd given up. In terms of stamina, he was at his limit, and time-wise, other people were starting to show up, but more than that, he felt like no matter how much he swam, it ended up the same.

The fundamental thing he was missing was, in short, the ideal image. He didn't think that just frantically aiming for better times without the right image printed in his mind would make him faster. And the ideal image that was printed in Rin's mind was of Haruka. But right now, Haruka was far from ideal.

Two weeks had passed since they had narrowed their practice down to just the medley relay. Even so, the team's accomplishments hadn't progressed very well. Their time wasn't improving. No, more than that, their time was slipping. Haruka was the cause. He was no longer swimming elegantly, the way he had before.

Whenever Rin tried to pick apart the details of Haruka's form, he couldn't find any spots that could become problematic, but neither Haruka's stroke nor his kick was functioning as a propulsive force. He was just continuing to swim, cutting an awkward rhythm through the water.

Rin hadn't commented on these things. Or rather, he knew it was pointless to try to give advice. Haruka swam without seeming to feel the water resistance, like a shorebird spreading its wings and gliding across the wide sky. That style of swimming was well outside the scope of Rin's specialty.

That same Haruka was now floundering in the water like an entirely different person. He was pushing forward with all his might, trying to fling off the water that was clinging to him. It was different from Makoto's strong stroke; Haruka was simply aiming frantically for the goal. It seemed like he was rejecting the water, even as though he hated it. Maybe he had a reason for it, or maybe he was injured, or maybe he had actually forgotten how to swim. In any case, Haruka's swimming was nothing like it used to be.

Now that he had lost his ideal image, Rin didn't even know what he should be striving for anymore. If Haruka remained the way he was now, Rin wouldn't be able to pursue his ideal. Even so, he had no intention of asking Haruka what was going on. Asking wouldn't change anything, and if there was nothing to be done about it, then Rin didn't care. It didn't change his feelings about swimming on the same team.

But someday, Haruka would surely break out of this slump. Rin just didn't know when. Would he make it before the tournament, or would it be sometime in the future…? Either way, he would definitely break free, and he would unmistakably become faster. He had to become faster, or there was no meaning to all this worry and pain.

It was just that, when Rin thought about Haruka moving ahead of him once again, the feeling was unbearable. Just when he thought he was getting close, he was left behind again. No matter how much time passed, Rin wouldn't reach him. No matter how much time passed, Haruka would always be continuing to swim beyond him.

Why is it all about him? Rin ground his teeth, and, pounding the water forcefully, he tore through one hundred meters.

Haruka jumped. The moment he jumped, he thought no good. He landed. And, without catching his rhythm, he began his stroke. Power flowed through his body. He tensed up. He knew that he wouldn't be able to swim normally that way, but he couldn't do anything about it. He had become unable to swim any other way.

He told himself that there was nothing to be done about it now, and forced himself to understand. He made himself give up. He made himself give in.

He lied to himself, saying that this was fine for now. He deluded himself. He kept quiet.

But even tormented by restlessness and self-loathing that he couldn't do anything about, Haruka still continued to swim.

Just two short weeks ago, Haruka hadn't been worried about things like his times. When he started to worry about his times, Haruka's water…became just plain water. It existed physically, but it had become nothing more than an obstacle to pry buoyancy from, and a hindrance to forward propulsion. He just kept repeating his stroke, his motions straight out of a textbook. The water was just a substance, and his stroke was completely standard. That was what the connection between Haruka and the water had become.

As the fourth swimmer, Haruka touched the goal and lifted his face from the water's surface to check his time. The same unchanging, mediocre numbers lined up lifelessly. A small sound escaped from between his slightly clenched molars.

Aki reached out a hand to Haruka, who was taking off his goggles. "Good work."

Haruka wondered if she was trying to copy Makoto's tone, and answered in a somewhat strangled voice, "Thanks."

He grabbed Aki's hand and climbed up onto the poolside. The size of the hand he'd clasped and the strength of its pulling power were different from Makoto's, too. Haruka tugged off his cap and shook his head, and as he was getting the water out of his ears, he asked, "How's it going on your end?"

"Ah, our times keep improving."

"Really? Keep it up." He didn't have much interest, but he would have felt awkward just waving at her and leaving. That was all it was. Even so, he didn't intend to come up with polite chitchat about how his own team was doing.

"It feels a little strange to see each other again after graduation, doesn't it?" Aki gave a carefree smile.

"In April, almost everyone will be going to the same middle school."

"Yeah, that's true, but seeing each other so soon after we cried so much saying goodbye…it's a little embarrassing."

Haruka thought that was like Aki. To Haruka, the graduation ceremony had been just another ceremony, and it had no other special meaning. If there was one big difference between Haruka and Aki, it was the way they thought about their circle of friends. It wasn't just Aki, either; Haruka differed from almost everyone else. That had been displayed with unpleasant clarity at the graduation ceremony, and it had bewildered Haruka.

"That's because it was a good class." Not wanting to push Aki away, Haruka tried repeating Rin's words.

"Yeah, it really was a good class, wasn't it? We won't be able to laugh and cry with those class members anymore, will we?"

They keyword "members" rolled around in Haruka's ears. It didn't pass through them smoothly, the way the other words had. "That's true."

Haruka was hoping that his short answer would end the conversation. He glanced quickly at Rin, who was taking a break on the bench. Rin was talking about something with Makoto. It didn't look like they were going to start practicing again. Reluctantly, Haruka turned, intending to say something himself.


Just as Haruka was starting to move the toes of his right foot a little bit, Aki spoke up to stop him. When Haruka looked back at her, she seemed embarrassed.

"About when I said it would be better for you to swim in the relay, um…that is…I'm sorry." Having said this, she quickly bowed her head.

Haruka wondered what she was apologizing for. Even looking at Aki's bowed head, he couldn't figure it out. "Why?" There was nothing to do but ask. Or would pretending he knew and answering 'It's fine' have been better?

Aki raised her head. "I decided on my own that you needed friends that you could rely on and who would rely on you, who you could laugh and cry with, Nanase-kun. I always thought that's what friends were. But I realized that was just my own selfish impression. But you have your own thoughts, Nanase-kun, and things like 'friends' and 'teams' come in a lot of different forms, right? I really feel like I was unnecessarily meddlesome. You and the others are all so earnest, and you look at swimming so honestly; when I look at you guys, I'm sort of ashamed…Ah, why did I say something like that? I didn't understand those things at all. …But you know, I think we're the same. Our feelings, and you guys' feelings, I think they're the same. Everyone on a team shares the difficulty and pain of aiming for the same goals, and the same impatience and worry about overcoming those difficulties…That's why, when I look at you and the others trying with all your might, Nanase-kun, I think that I have to do my best, too, and I feel full of strength. Really, it always encourages me." Aki quietly dropped her gaze to the pool.

Haruka thought that he should probably say something, but since he had no idea what he should say, all he could do was look intently at Aki's downcast face. Aki's words were flitting about disjointedly in his head. They wouldn't slip smoothly past him, but he also couldn't accept them without difficulty.

He didn't know what kind of meaning the relay had. Right now, he also didn't yet know what was waiting after that. Because he didn't know, he had agreed to be a member of the team. And he swam. That was all. It wasn't as if he was swimming to encourage anyone.

Haruka wondered how Aki was taking his silence. Her gaze was still on the pool, but she was smiling just a little bit. She opened her mouth. "You know, right now, I'm having a lot of fun swimming." Aki raised her gaze and peered into Haruka's eyes. It was as if she was searching for the real Haruka deep within his pupils.

Nanase-kun, what do you think?

Aki was turning the same question on him that Makoto had, that day under the cherry tree. He wanted to answer that he didn't know, but the words stuck deep in his throat. In their place, meaningless words popped out of his mouth. "Right, let's both do our best."


Haruka lightly raised his hand to Aki, and turned his back to her. Aki's smile disappeared from his view, and only the word "fun" remained in his ears. Thinking of swimming as "fun"…he'd never done that. Was that what was waiting for him after the relay?

Haruka started walking toward the bench that Rin and the others were sitting on. He looked at Nagisa's back, heaving with his breath, and wondered how much he had swum today. What about Nagisa? Was swimming fun for him? What about Rin? And Makoto?

Because the sun was at a bit of an angle, it was shining in through the high windows, making rectangular sunny spots on the pool. As he watched the light reflecting unevenly off the ripples on the water, Haruka vaguely remembered that tomorrow was the day of the meet.


Back to Chapter 5

A couple of notes here:

First, when Rin is thinking about the "snap" of his kick - I wasn't exactly sure how to translate this, but luckily my quality control guy/swim-picker figured out what Rin was talking about. Unfortunately, it's been a few years since he's swum seriously, so he couldn't remember if there was another, more specific term I should use. So to any swimmers out there (I know there's a few of you!), if you know a better way to phrase that, please tell me so I can change it! :)

Secondly, a wild Kou appears! But since the furigana for her name didn't indicate that she called herself Kou, I am assuming that she hasn't yet decided to change her name, and so I went with Gou for this chapter. (Just in case anyone was wondering.)

And of course, please point out any mistakes/typos/just plain weird stuff, as usual.

Translated from raws downloaded at this post.

[personal profile] badromance_fic 2013-08-27 05:02 pm (UTC)(link)
I adore your translations so much! Thank you thank you thank you for doing this! :3
kikuko: (Default)

[personal profile] kikuko 2013-08-27 06:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you so much!

I really love your translation. <3
cenedra: (Default)

[personal profile] cenedra 2013-08-27 10:21 pm (UTC)(link)
I might've eeeeee'd a bit when I saw you'd updated... Lots and lots and lots of inner thoughts again, oh I'm loving this book so very much. Thanks for making my night :)

[personal profile] virayu 2013-08-27 10:46 pm (UTC)(link)
For my first light novel, your writing is exceptional! I can't help but compare your writing to water flowing smoothly against Haru... as Haru best describes it. Aha! XD I also have to say there's more emotional depth and characterization between Rin, Haru, and Makoto compared to the anime. That's a plus considering I wasn't fond of haru until now! I am sad though that Rei isn't in the VN. I wish he's in the LN now D:. Although after realizing Free!'s potential, I wished KyoAni put some serious thought into developing the anime. I think the series could have succeeded as KyoAni's first "serious" all boy anime with some hot bishounens. X3
summerbutterfly: (ljkitty)

[personal profile] summerbutterfly 2013-08-28 03:40 am (UTC)(link)
Re: the "snap" question,

I'm guessing Rin is referring to the natural flexion that occurs when you hit the downbeat of the flutter kick- that perfect balancing point where you're pushing against the water, but not pushing hard enough that you don't allow the water's natural resistance to push back. But I don't know if there is actually a term for it? I can't remember ever hearing one- I know when I was training distance/middle distance for a couple years in college, my coach called it the "down kick," but I'm not sure if that would be applicable in a sprinting situation where the kick is harder and more constant as opposed to rhythmic?

Either way, I think "snap" works just fine for what is being conveyed. Good choice :).

Thank you for this chapter. There are some great details in here that I missed in the first translation I read. Also, sorry, tinyHaru, I kind of adore tinyRin in all his precocious glory. XP

*edited because no one likes a typo >_>*
Edited 2013-08-28 03:43 (UTC)
summerbutterfly: (BAMF)

[personal profile] summerbutterfly 2013-08-28 05:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I think it was only supposed to be a summary. No criticism to that, just my outer nerd likes knowing things. Like, that Rin and Gou moved into their grandmother's house. Or the fine points of Rin's inner monologue regarding his technique (which, Rin, really. Can we talk, honey? You are your own worst enemy sometimes...)

I'm still hoping that older!Rin will eventually thaw out and go back to being a glorious dork. <-- sooner rather than later would be good as my poor capslock key cannot really handle my Rin feels when I get going.
multimediaotakugal: (Default)

[personal profile] multimediaotakugal 2013-08-28 07:10 am (UTC)(link)
Oh my gosh thank you soooo much for the amazing translations! I followed a link via tumblr to here and I must say the way everything is phrased makes so much sense and is enjoyably descriptive at the same time. I guess I could describe it as not seeming like I'm reading a fan translation. Quality. There's quality in there and I appreciate it. Or at least that's the best way I can explain it(?).

There's another translation out there, but I prefer reading your translation. Yours flows much more smoothly and I can understand it more clearly. I get the sense I can better understand the characters. I appreciate the time the other person put into their translation and everything, but it confused me at times... ==;; offense to them...

Thank you so very much to you and your "quality control guy" for making such a great translation.

m(_ _)m

I'm looking forward to catching up (I'm still around chapter 3) and reading the next chapters! Thank you over and over again!

cpup: (Default)

[personal profile] cpup 2013-08-29 02:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Welcome Glad To Know You Like To Hear Are Voice Speak. Thew Text XD

I Know That Sounds Sarcastic But I Really Mean It. Have You Seen Episode 8 Yet Gosh This Show Makes Me Want To Cry :0. Thanks Anyway ^-^.
cpup: (Default)

[personal profile] cpup 2013-09-01 05:00 pm (UTC)(link)
I know Rin Why Cant You Be So So I Dunno Hes Nice But Hes Also Really Mean Ugh. Also Hes bossy As You Can See in The Book Translations. Kinda. Omg Lets Talk Nitrio Hes Sooo Adorable. ^-^. Omg and So Lovable ^-^. (Adorable overload.) Prepare your self for the 2 most awesome videos and 1 die funny video I ask her to finsh it so thats why it says 2

This is fantastic!

[personal profile] jayjaylemony 2013-09-08 07:26 am (UTC)(link)
I'll be completely honest with you—I hate reading translated works. Most of the time, the writing is clunky and much of the original meaning is lost.

That's not what your translations are like; they're very well done. Your word choice and sentence structure flow nicely, and I can honestly picture reading these chapters as though they were from an English book.

Thank you so much for doing this! I look forward to the next chapter :)
zumisumi: (Default)

[personal profile] zumisumi 2013-09-11 12:46 pm (UTC)(link)
Hello! I just read all your High Speed! translations and would like to say thanks for all your and your quality control's hard work!
nyghtrain: (Default)

[personal profile] nyghtrain 2013-09-15 01:14 am (UTC)(link)
I just finished reading through your translations of the chapters and wow! I adored it. Thank you so much for providing these translations. This story is really wonderful.

[personal profile] danydan 2013-09-15 08:30 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks a lot for this translation. I really enjoyed reading these first chapters ! It puts a little sun in my day ^^ (your DW's nickname suits you well ;D !)
yoshitsune: text: oh dear i really ought to do something but i am already in my pyjamas (Default)

[personal profile] yoshitsune 2013-09-25 09:28 am (UTC)(link)
I ended up reading this almost in one go, it's so good. Thanks so much for working on this translation! The quality also makes for an enjoyable read.

Loving the Translations!

[personal profile] theawesomesara 2013-10-03 03:55 am (UTC)(link)
Oh my goodness, this is the best fan-translated work I've ever read! It's just like a professional work, but better in a way because professional works don't have the awesome translator notes at the bottom.
I really hope you'll be able to update soon, especially since the anime is over now :(. I am looking forward to it!
Guten Oktoberfest from California!
~Awesome Sara
tenshinoakuma: (joyful exercise!)

[personal profile] tenshinoakuma 2013-10-27 11:50 pm (UTC)(link)
I've only just gotten around to reading High Speed! now, and I'd just like to thank you (and your quality guy) for taking the time and effort to make such an excellent translation of the first 6 chapters of High Speed! It really feels like your translation captures the spirit of the original text, making it feel less like a translation and more like a story to be enjoyed. High Speed! gives a ton of context to the stuff that's in Free!, so I'm glad that such a quality translation has been made available.

Thanks for the hard work!
kiokushitaka: (IZYA heh)

[personal profile] kiokushitaka 2013-10-29 10:57 pm (UTC)(link)
memming these to read later, but thank you for your hard work!!
littlepunkryo: (Default)

[personal profile] littlepunkryo 2013-11-23 09:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you so so much for this!!

[personal profile] anano 2013-11-30 01:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Hello) Thank you very much for your awesome work! But so much time has passed since the last updating. May I only ask if you plan to continue with the translation?

Update plzzzz~

[personal profile] silvertsubasa 2013-12-14 12:56 am (UTC)(link)
I loveee ur translation of high speed! Thank uuuu~

I just wanted to ask when can h update the next chapter?

Thank you so much!

[personal profile] nikniknik 2013-12-19 06:18 am (UTC)(link)
thanks for translating this story ... I hope you will continue it soon ...
arashinoookami: Made by LJ user kiokushitakaa (Ibuki)

[personal profile] arashinoookami 2014-02-01 09:25 am (UTC)(link)

[personal profile] jamanddounts 2015-07-12 10:47 am (UTC)(link)
Hey, I love this so much!! You're translations are awesome and you're an awesome person did translating!
We've got to such an exciting but now! I really want to know what happens. Rin... Haru.. Makoto... Nagisa... Their relationship is such a complicated one! It's just so good. I really can't wait for the High Speed movie!!

Sorry for being annoying and asking... But are you still translating? I really can't wait for chapter 7. I know it takes a long time and I appreciate your hard work! It's just... Chapter 6 was published 2 years ago so I was wondering if your continuing or if you've stopped. Sorry if I sound rude! I just really can't wait.

I was planning to learn Japanese so I could read the original. Is it just kanji that I need to learn?

Thank you for everything! You are an awesome person!

Please continue

[personal profile] ehhhh 2016-07-15 12:19 am (UTC)(link)
I love your writing style! This translation for High Speed! is amazing. I really wish you would continue. It's sad that every time I get interested in something online, it's on hiatus or has been forgotten. So please, please continue writing and post another chapter (well half of one) :)