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High Speed!

"high speed!" chapter 1 summary - swim

Gonna be summarizing the individual chapters as I go! These summaries will contain some direct translations (mostly dialogue, since that’s dead easy and great for characterization) but mostly be an overview. We (September Scans) may go back and translate them properly later on, but of course anyone else is free to translate as well. We’re busy right now, so it might be some time before we get to it. Now, without further ado…! Chapter 1 opens in the pool (specifically, the opening scene of the anime, down to the very same lines), except unlike the anime, it’s only Haruka and Makoto present. Haruka finishes a 1000-m run, and Makoto extends a hand to help him out of the water. They’re 6th graders, in their final year of elementary school, and have been best friends since childhood. Makoto has a bad habit of tacking - chan onto Haruka’s name, which Haruka finds most distasteful, and even when he remembers not to do so, he still can’t help injecting ‘Haru’ at the end of every sentence when they converse, equally irritating to Haruka. Haruka: "I keep telling you —you don’t have to say my name at the end of every sentence; plus, you really need to call me by my family name." Makoto: “But you’ve always called me ‘Makoto’. Would you

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rather I call it, and you I’m ‘Haruka’ never instead, to you th en?" again."

Haruka: “Do

speaking

Makoto: “Then ‘Haru’ it is!" It’s just after New Year’s when Matsuoka Rin transfers to their school. “I’m Matsuoka Rin! I’ve come here from Sano Elementary School. I realize my name sounds like a g irl’s, but please rest assured I am a boy! It’s nice to meet you all." January is an odd time of year for a new transfer student to arrive, and the entire class is kind of dumbfounded by his introduction, but Makoto stands up and greets him with, “Matsuoka -kun" and a smile. Rin had known that Makoto and Haruka went to this school, but had not expected them to be in the same class. “Tachibana… kun. So we’re in the same class?" Makoto: “Yup, that’s right. And Haru -cha —erm, Haru’s here, too." He jerks his head to indicate Haruka sitting at the desk beside him. The other students are curious now as to how the trio knows each other, and during break time, Rin is surrounded by his new classmates who want to know everything about him. He’s eager to make a good first impression and flashes a smile as he congenially answers their inquiries, but at length he grows tired of the attention. Just after lunch break, Rin prepares himself for another round of “attacks", but a hand clamps down on his shoulder from behind — and R in doesn’t even need to turn around to know it’s Haruka, able to sense the strong energy flowing from the

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connection. There’s no one else in the class who could make him feel this way. "Come with me for a bit." Haruka leaves him with these words and stride s off alone. Rin stands, but he’s thrown off by Haruka’s pushiness and has to take a breath before following. He pauses for a few moments, staring at Haruka’s back, unsure of how to hold himself in Haruka’s presence— he wants to be cocky and strong and conf ident, but it’s not how he should behave as a transfer student on his first day. "What’re you doing? You’re gonna get left behind!" Makoto gives him a push from behind, and Rin gathers himself quickly to follow. When he glances around, he realizes that the entire class is watching the three of them interact with curious gazes. Haruka draws to a stop between the school building and the pool, under a large sakura tree — Makoto comments that during the spring, when the tree is in bloom, the flower petals pepper the water’s surface. Rin: “Wow…I’d love to swim in a pool of sakura petals!" Makoto: “The water’s far too cold then, though! It’s best to wait until summer." Haruka: "…Then, you intend to still be here next year?" Rin is a bit shaken by Haruka’s words and tries to laugh them off, “What, trying to bully the transfer student into dropping out on his first day?" He reassures the pair that he didn’t transfer there just for them, that it was really just a coincidence when his family moved. “I never expected to b e in

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the same class as Tachibana and Nanase! Coincidences are scary things~" —————— It’s March, of the previous year. RIn: “Wow, you’re fast ! Are you seriously an elementary school student?" Both Makoto and Haruka had run into Rin before at municipal tournaments — Haruka had taken top in the 100-m freestyle race and Makoto top in the 100-m breaststroke, but the 50-m races in both styles had been taken by Sano SC, Rin’s swimclub — specifically, by Rin himself. The first time they’d interacted with Rin had been after Haruka had overtaken him in the last 30 meters of the 100 -m freestyle, where Rin had lain splayed out on his back on the concrete in defeat. Haruka: "…Who the hell is that ?"

Makoto: “Matsuoka -kun, of Sano SC." Haruka had never heard the name before, and didn’t care one way or the other now that he knew it — but he wanted to be sure he remembered the name of this boy who was ticking him off, splayed out flat on his back and breathing harshly, goggles still on his head. Maybe he’s crying , he had thought at the time, but quickly turned his back on the boy. Rin had approached them just before the awards ceremony, a bit self-deprecating as he had admitted he probably needed to

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work on his stamina. Haruka had warned him that he needed to do more than simply work on his stamina. They’re rushed off to the ceremony, with Rin vowing good naturedly to win when next they met, and after that, the trio could be seen together at every tournament they entered. —————— The wind whips up, and Makoto suggests that the three return inside. Haruka reflects that he didn’t bring Rin out here just to show him the sakura tree —and he still isn’t sure if Rin transferring here really was a coincidence or not. Regardless, his presence here is going to affect both he and Makoto in some manner, and it probably won’t be enjoyable. He doesn’t want to get involved in anything, so he’d thought to call Rin out here and nip any issues in the bud — but the harder he tries to do so, the deeper h e becomes involved, he’s realizing. He tears his gaze away from watching Rin dart back into the school building and turns it back now to watching the sakura tree weave in the wind. [END CHAPTER 1]

"high speed!" chapter 2 summary - water

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Here’s the summary for chapter 2, quite a bit longer (and a hell of a lot weirder ) than chapter 1! Haruka’s house is located near the Misagozaki Shrine — halfway up the stone steps, you take a left at the first torii gate by the handwashing basin. This location means that any time Haruka wants to go somewhere, he must either ascend or descend these great stone steps of the shrine. There are other routes, of course, but due to the almost maze-like layout of his neighborhood, it’s faster just to take these steps. His bicycle is parked at the base of the steps; every day after school, he comes home just long enough to pack a bag, then hopes on his bike and makes for the swimming club. Once at the base of the steps, he pauses and glances up at Makoto’s house, situated just opposite of the stone steps. It’s usually at this point that he meets up with Makoto’s smiling face, but today it seems Makoto is running late. They’ve never made any particular plans to always commute to the club together, so Haruka isn’t obliged to wait. After all, Makoto has younger siblings in preschool he has to watch after, which can take extra time on occasion, so Haruka jumps back onto his bike and pedals away. Makoto might catch up on the way there, and even if he doesn’t, they’ll still see each other at the club. It’s better for the both of them if Haru just heads on alone rather than waiting impatiently, growing irritated. It’s a 10 -minute ride to the swimming club; on the way there, he passes over the Mutsuki Bridge spanning the Shiwagawa River, just beyond which lies the Iwatobi Swimming Club. But as he’s riding over the bridge, he spots a fellow swimming club

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member, a girl named Yazaki Aki standing on the bridge, looking rather despondent. He draws to a stop and notices she’s staring down at the water below. On closer inspection, it’s clear she’s in trouble, and he

considers trying to pretend he didn’t see anything— or perhaps he ought to call out to her? He glances around, but Makoto hasn’t caught up yet, and as he’s chiding himself for leaving Makoto behind and now getting involved in something boring, Aki notices him and calls out . He asks what’s wrong, and she explains that her muffler has fallen into the river. Haruka glances down and can indeed see that it’s been caught in the current, far from where it can be reached. “That sucks. Guess you’ll have to give up on it." As he says these words, he reflects silently that he sounds a bit cold, but it’s the truth. He bids her farewell and heads on ahead, leaving Aki and her un-Aki-like expression behind. When Makoto finally arrives in the changing room of the club, Haruka’s already adj usting his goggles, and he explains his tardiness, chalking it up to having to clean out the goldfish bowl. Haruka silently chides You could always do that afterward. In the corner of his mind, the thought of Aki pops up, and he realizes Makoto would have had to have seen her crossing the bridge when he came if she’d still been there. “Hey, earlier on the bridge…" he starts, but Makoto doesn’t seem to know what he’s referring to, and Haruka waves him off.

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But then —“That reminds me, I ran into Zaki -chan on the bridge on the way here! She seemed kinda down…" Haruka explains that it was because she’d dropped her muffler. “Ah," Makoto agrees. “Yeah, the wind’s really powerful up on that bridge." Haruka had said she’d dropped it , not that it had been blown away — a nd it’s here he realizes that Makoto had known all along, merely pretending not to know. Perhaps he’d heard from Aki about Haruka’s cold demeanor and was intending on scolding him for it. Either way, it sounded awfully dull. He heads out to the pool area, loath to continue this

conversation any further. ————— “I’m Matsuoka Rin! I’ve come here from Sano Elementary School. I realize my name sounds like a girl’s, but please rest assured I am a boy! It’s nice to meet you all." Haruka had seen this coming, so there was no reason to be shocked. After all, this is the only swimming club in the area. Rin can do whatever he pleases —Haruka doesn’t plan on having anything further to do with him. Rin is tickled pink, though, continuing to express his awe of coincidences — but Haruka has no intention of playing along and abandons Makoto for the pool, diving in and relishing the sensation of sliding his body through the water. He accepts the water, and the water in turn accepts him — two beings who acknowledge each other’s exi stence.

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In the water, he’s freed from all annoyances. He doesn’t have to deal with Rin, or Aki, or her muffler, or the wind. It’s not as if he can forget it all, but at the very least, for but a moment, he’s freed from having to deal with any of it. He completes a 1000-m crawl and raises his head as he draws to the poolside, finding Makoto with one hand stretched out to him. “Good run." He doesn’t feel like he’s run at all, though — he’s not out of breath in the least, not compared to Makoto. Makoto never lets the water slide around him when he swims, though, for some reason — and Haruka has never asked him why, nor thought to ask. When he inquires as to where “that guy" is, Makoto informs him that Rin is swimming, of course, and in the farthest lane at the edge, Rin can be seen lazily stroking through the water, getting a feel for the water. On confirming this, Haruka sets off, asking Makoto to come time him on the short course. He doesn’t care about his time, of course. He never has, but he wants to be as far a way from Rin as possible. He doesn’t want to get involved in anything annoying, and doesn’t want Makoto associating with Rin either. If he does, Haruka will wind up getting roped in as well eventually, and that’s just not happening. ————— Rin finishes his 1000-m run at a gentle crawl, and looks up to find a boy staring him down curiously. "…Are you Nanase - kun’s friend, Matsuoka-kun?" Rin replies, “Not so much friends as…rivals, I guess?"

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"What’s a ‘rival’? Actin’ really important and stuff? " "It means we challenge each other." He tears his gaze from the boy and lifts himself up from the pool; too long being stared at makes him feel like he’s being seen through. "So who’s faster, you or Nanase -kun?" "Me at 50 m, him at 100." "Why’s that?" "What do you mean?" "Why are you faster at 50 but slower at 100? Ooh — can you only swim 50 m? Do you not know how to breathe properly? Want me to teach you?" "I’m fine! I can swim 100 m just fine, thank you! And I know how to breathe!" He lifts his goggles and sets off in search of Haruka and Makoto. "So what’re you best at, Matsuoka -kun?" "Everything." "Everything? Even the Butterfly?" "Butterfly, Backstroke, Freestyle, Breaststroke. And my doggy paddle’s pretty good too." He can’t seem to find Haruka or Makot o, it’s like they’ve disappeared. The boy introduces himself now as 5th -year Hazuki Nagisa, begging Rin to watch him swim the Butterfly and offer critique. Rin doesn’t even wait for him to get in the water before giving

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him a dressing down on everything he ’s doing wrong. Nagisa is heartbroken at being critiqued so harshly, nearly in tears as he begs Rin to watch him properly. Flustered, Rin gives in — he can’t have the guy bawling on him — and Nagisa brightens into a smile, diving in and asking him to watch. Hi s “Butterfly" is more like a “Grasshopper", though, and Rin gets the distinct feeling of foreboding that this guy is going to take a lot of work. He ends their critique as soon as possible and urges Nagisa to follow him, promising to show him “something go od", and Nagisa doesn’t need to be told twice, eyes shining with curiosity as he follows Rin. Rin reminds Nagisa of his earlier question as to who’s faster, him or Nanase — and offers to let him see for himself. He draws up to Makoto, who’s timing Haruka, an d asks where he is in his run — just at the 50 m turn. Rin quickly slips on his goggles, snaps the band, and dives into the lane next to Haruka’s, quickly catching up and silently urging the boy into a race. No more lazy laps — come and get me! By 20 m, they’r e neck-and-neck, both taking the turn

simultaneously, and Rin stretches, reaching out and starting his stroke after a dolphin kick; he can feel Haruka’s fingertips at his hips. Haruka’s quickened stroke his changes he in hasn ’t the put final more 15 m —he power hasn’t his

pace,

into

stroke…but Rin still knows, all the same. He can still feel it —

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like a ball of energy building up, an overwhelming

presence. There it is! Come on come on come on COME ON. Haruka biting into his shoulder, ripping off his head — He’s going to overtake me, going to pass me —no, I WON’T LET HIM. Their heads align, they touch the wall —“Who won?!" Both Nagisa and Makoto point straight to Haruka…who, not out of breath in the least, calmly lifts himself out of the water onto the poolside. "So how fast was his time, then?" But before anyone can confirm, Haruka snatches up the stopwatch and erases the record. Nagisa is over the moon with glee at the show, but Rin just lets himself sink back down into the water. Man…he’s so damn fast… he whispers into the water, unable to tamp down the sheer excitement bubbling up within him. ————— As Haruka exits the changing room, he reflects on the race he just ran — he had recognized the body in the water next to him as Rin’s immediately. Having raced together in tournaments before, he can recognize Rin by the sensation of the ripples in the water —plus, Rin’s the only person in the club who would challenge him to a race like that. But the moment he’d recognized it was Rin next to him, something had bubbled up within him — on realizing there was

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someone here before him who had a greater grasp of the water, a closer connection to it than he, his whole body had heated up, something burning through his whole being. He hadn’t even tried to tamp it down. He hates this feeling that Rin rouses within him, stirring up his cool, calm emotions, and chides himself for being so easily goaded by the boy. He leaves the pool area and heads into the break room, where along the wall are hung pictures from generations of club members, taken at the end of every March. There are two featuring Haruka, standing blithely at the far end. He glances over at the oldest now, though — one from 23 years prior and featuring far fewer members than there are now. The boys in the middle have a trophy held in their hands and are smiling, each sporting medals for the “18th annual" something. When he steps outside, the wind is still fierce. Makoto catches up from behind, comm enting the same — he always seems to feel the need to put into words whatever he’s thinking; it’s kind of annoying. "Whoo, that was a great swim!" Rin announces as he exits the building — then starts to walk in the opposite direction of Makoto and Haruka, who are headed for the parking area to get their bikes. When Makoto points this out, Rin replies that he didn’t come by bike. Makoto offers him a ride, and Haruka silently chides him, urging him not to do unnecessary things, but Rin declines again, opting to w alk, as it’s not too far to his place.

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The pair find their bikes and set off for the bridge — and Haruka spares an unconscious glance down at the river, but the muffler is gone. They pass Rin, who’s jogging ahead of them, just before crossing the bridge; Har uka reflects that he probably runs after their time at the swim club every day, and this pisses him off for some reason, so he jerks his gaze away from Rin and puts a bit more power into his pedaling. As they leave Rin behind, Makoto calls out to him, aski ng how far it is to Rin’s house. “Just over three kilometers!" is the reply they receive, ripped away in the wind. ————— Haruka always goes to school alone in the morning, as Makoto has to see his younger siblings off to their bus stop. He hates this wide road leading up to the school, bounded on either side by poplar trees that bend and sway in the wind. In the winter, everyone lines up in one long line to travel down it, and when he thinks about himself being stuck in that line, it becomes unbearable. He hates it, because it makes him remember a similar sight from years before — an old memory, but still fresh in his mind. An icy wind had been blowing back then as well. There had been several dozen — maybe 50 or so — people all dressed in white, smacking their canes along the street, sending the sound echoing about the bay. They had all had their heads down, silently walking along, old and young alike, and before he could catch himself, Haruka had found himself chasing after one of the children, reaching out

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and grabbing the hand of a young girl, herself clad in white and staring down at the ground like the adults around her. He’d tightened his hand around hers, thinking she was crying, but when the girl had turned to glance at him, their eyes met — and she’d fiercel y wiped away the tears from her eyes, glaring daggers at Haruka. "Haru- chan…where are they going?" Makoto had asked, hiding behind Haruka. "Dunno." "Then, what are they doing?" As if Haruka had any remote clue — he had turned to look at Makoto, who had his f ists clenched tight in worry at Haruka’s sleeve, his grip tightening when a sobbing moan had risen up from somewhere in the group. "…Are you scared, Makoto?" "I’m not sure… What about you?" Haruka hadn’t been scared— but a strange, unfamiliar

discomfort was throbbing in his chest. He hadn’t known what this procession meant, but he’d known it was something that frightened Makoto, and pulling away from Makoto’s grip, he’d run as far away as he could. "Good morning, Nanase-kun," Aki greets him, and he wonders for a moment what his expression looks like, pulled out of memory like this, but he quickly schools his features. She apologizes for worrying him the previous day on the bridge, and Haruka silently reflects that he hadn’t been worried at all,

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really; Aki’s troubled features had simply taken root in a small corner of his mind. "So what happened with the muffler?" As soon as he asks, he regrets the question; it’s pretty obvious that nothing could have been done. But Aki doesn’t seem as depressed as she had been the previous day, confirming that it had sunk into the river after Haruka had left, so she’d given up on it. If it hadn’t sunk, had just floated along instead, she probably would have kept watching it forever. "What’s wrong, Nanase - kun? You’re flushed." She peeks close at his face, and when their eyes lock, Haruka slides his gaze off to the side. She brings a hand to his forehead to check for a fever, and Haruka reflexively slaps her hand away. Time freezes for an instant as they stare, each shocked at wh at has just happened, and Haruka quickly mutters a stilted apology. If he didn’t want to be touched, he should have moved himself away or blocked her hand — there was no reason to hit her, but she doesn’t seem too put off, apologizing as well, and they continue on to the school building in silence, the chilled wind bearing down upon them and the poplar trees at their sides. The theme for homeroom is “Graduation Memorial Project" — where each class puts forth an idea for a project to leave behind after they graduate elementary schools. Aki suggests that they build up a flower bed around the large sakura tree near the pool, stating that it seems really lonely on its own. While he makes no objection, Haruka senses some kind of resistance to this idea — the sakura tree is tall, taller than the

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others around it, and grand and majestic, it should be imbued with an air of calm composure; he doesn’t want to even imagine its beauty marred by a bunch of insignificant little buds all around it. Makoto supports the flower bed idea as well, but giving in to majority rule isn’t always fair, so everyone is given equal opportunity to voice their vote. Haruka knows that it would be best if he could just make his opinions clearly known, like Makoto and Aki, but he cannot bring himself to force his feelings on others. In the end, the overwhelming majority support Aki’s flowerbed idea. ————— "Are you okay, Haru?" Makoto asks after homeroom, worried. “Your face is really red. Do you have a fever?" Haruka brings his hand to his neck after being asked the same thing as Aki, and it feels a bit warm. “No, I’m fine." It’s nothing for others to concern themselves with, and Haruka can’t stand Makoto’s overly attentive stare in the face of someone ill — but Rin saves him the irritation with his appearnce. "Never would’ve pegged you for a romantic with a thing for flowers, Tachibana!" he teases, arms crossed over his chest. "I could say the same for you, Matsuoka -kun! Seriously, putting a satellite into orbit? Sounds a lot more romantic than my own idea."

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"It’s not putting one into orbit —it’s writing messages and then having those be put into orbit on a satellite. Stuff about our dreams and friends and all, you know?" "…Yup, definitely romantic." "Well, whatever . I have to say I was kind of shocked that Nanase supported the idea, though. Kind of a thrill!" Both of their voices grate on Haruka’s ears, but it’s too much trouble to even yell at them for being annoying. ‘ Crap…I don’t think this is good…’ Rin now notic es Haruka’s state—and Haruka wishes he hadn’t, as Rin inquires as to his health. Makoto answers that he suspects Haruka has a fever, peering down into Haruka’s face. He snaps at them that he doesn’t have a fever, too irritated to explain himself, and his o utburst calls the rest of the room’s attention, an awkward silence following. He apologizes again, just as he had to Aki, then stands and heads out the door. He just wants to get away from everything, even for a short while. ————— Haruka prepares to jump on his bike at the base of the stone steps — but pauses. ‘…I’ll bet he’ll be running to the club again today…’ Thoughts of Rin occupy a small corner of his mind. It’s about 2 km to the club — a far shorter distance than that which Rin runs. Haruka has never don e much land-based training, has

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never been all that interested in building up his body.

Swimming is simply about feeling the water to Haruka; he’s never swum with the ultimate goal of winning against anyone, which is why he’s never worried about his time o r training. But now…there is someone faster than him at his side,

someone able to feel the water to a greater degree than Haruka, leaving a sensation of something in his chest. He doesn’t know what Rin feels in the water, but the boy is faster than him at 50 m, and still leading him for 70 of the 100 m races. And Rin is running today. That’s all the reason Haruka needs. He knows he has a fever —but he’s always been able to swim it off before; being in the water heals him, and he assumes that today will be no different. But if he goes…he’ll have to face Rin. He’ll have to see Rin running —and if he goes by bike, passing Rin up, he’ll have to deal with the frustration of knowing he chose not to run. He glances up at Makoto’s house— no Makoto today — and

leaving his bike where it is, he starts running. ————— The wind on the bridge is strong again today, and his breath comes out in white puffs of fog in the freezing air, but he keeps running forward. He’s sweating—it’s been a while since he’s run this far, and despite the lack of hills or steps or such, his heart still pounds in his chest and his breathing is labored. Makoto still hasn’t caught up yet; maybe he’s busy with the goldfish again. Haruka couldn’t really care less.

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But just as he’s nearly over the bridge, Har uka realizes he’s not going to make it to the swimming club, and he stalls in place, leaning over to place his hands on his knees as his shoulders shake with heavy breaths. Sweat pours down his face, and he wants to flop down on his back — like Rin had done that first day they met. ‘Dammit… What am I doing slacking off like this?’ He tries to snap some sense into himself, but his chest pains him, and his legs refuse to move. He couldn’t stand it if Rin or Makoto saw him like this — he hates being worried over, being fawned over; he’d rather just disappear than deal with that, and frantically tries to calm his breathing. At length, he finally succeeds — and something white in the water below catches his eye, just a bit into the stream of water, easily reachable by hand from the bank. It’s Aki’s muffler — and it’s stuck in a place Haruka could easily reach it if he felt inclined to try. At the squeal of brakes, he turns to see Aki worriedly watching him from her bike. "…What’s wrong, Nanase -kun?" He stretches up tall, steeling himself, and prepares to tell her nothing and set off at a run again, but he can’t speak — if he does, he’s worried his ragged breathing will become apparent. "Ah…!" She’s followed his line of sight and seen her muffler, and Haruka curses to himself , taking a breath and finally deeming himself calm enough to speak.

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"I’ll get it for you." "Oh —no, don’t worry. It’s too dangerous." He can’t be seen being weak here, and tells himself he was just pausing because he happened to catch sight of Aki’s muffler. He heads down onto the riverbank but is suddenly overcome by a wave of dizziness, his vision going black, and where there should be solid ground beneath his feet — there is only air as he tumbles down the embankment. All he can hear now is Aki’s shrill scream…and the sound of the wind ripping through the bare poplar trees. The chill of the water soaks into him, and he realizes here he’s fallen into the river, his senses slowly returning. Half of his body is in the water now, with one hand clutching tight to the riverbank grass while the other…grips a now -brown muffler. ‘Crap… What the hell am I doing?’ this is his last coherent thought; the water doesn’t heal Haruka’s body and soul this time, merely saps his strength and ceases all conscious function. Somewhere far away, between dream and reality, he can hear Makoto calling out to him and the sound of an ambulance siren — and then he slips into a deep sleep ————— He wakes up thanks to a pounding headache, and Makoto greets him with, “Are you awake now, Haru?" He doesn’t find it annoying now; he doesn’t feel like fighting against being cared for. Makoto’s is the same as always, flowing around him

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naturally. He tries to focus, but it’s no use, and his head still hurts, his body heavy and he opens his mouth in an effort to reassure Makoto he’s fine, but what comes out is, “Where am I?" "The hospital." "Hospital?" "Are you okay, Haru? Your mom’ll be here soon — they called her earlier." He’s finally able to bring Makoto’s face into focus — and realizes they aren’t alone, as Rin stands silently back along the far wall, an uncharacteristically serious expression on his face. He spots something white dangling from a hanger on the wall — the muffler! — and it all comes back to him. He tries to sit up, but Makoto is having none of it, urging him to lie back; “Your fever was over 40 degrees!" Haruka asks after Aki; he desperately wants to know what happened, and she’d been watching the whole time, so she would know. Makoto explains that she went home, and is probably very worried. "…What happened to me?" "Matsuoka-kun and I heard Zaki-chan screaming just as we crossed the bridge — and when we went to check on her, you’d fallen into the river." The pair had then dragged him back onto the shore while Aki had called an ambulance, with Makoto and Rin piling into the ambulance with him while Aki notified the club.

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It’s everything Haruka had wanted to ask, and Makoto expl ains further that Haruka had had influenza — which only irritates Haruka, frustrated that something so seemingly inconsequential has put him in this position now. Makoto leaves to go call a doctor, leaving Haruka and Rin alone together in the quiet hospital room, only the sound of the air conditioner and Haruka’s labored breathing piercing the silence. It’s only now that Haruka realizes his difficulty in breathing. He turns to glance at Rin, who stands silent, his gaze shunted off to the side. "…Thanks, Matsuoka." He’s amazed himself at how easily the words come, but Rin only nods shortly, not bothering to face Haruka properly. They stay like this in silence until Makoto returns, the air conditioner and Haruka’s breathing the only sounds breaking the quiet. ————— The cold wind breezes past them outside, and Rin trudges silently after Makoto, hands stuffed in the pocket of his jacket. His feet feel heavy, and it’s hard to breathe. "…Tachibana." It feels like it’s been a long time since he spoke —and indeed, it’s at least the first time since leaving the hospital. "What is it, Matsuoka-kun?" "I…" "Hm?"

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Rin falls silent, and Makoto patiently waits for him to gather his words, continuing to plod forward without stopping, slowly, as if waiting for Rin to catch up. "I was…really scared." His emotions are without artifice — and his feelings of fear still linger even now. He’d always thought his lungs would continue to take in air, his heart continue to beat without even being conscious of it — but right now, he feels do." Makoto turns to face him, a smile on his features, then starts walking backward, facing Rin as he moves his body forward. “It’s all right— it was jus t the flu. It didn’t develop into pneumonia, so he’ll get better soon." What had happened to Haruka had been terrible — and Makoto had truly panicked when he’d seen Haruka topple into the river. But this isn’t what has Rin scared: “No —I’m not talking about N anase. I’m talking about you , Tachibana." "Huh…?" Makoto’s feet stop, and he takes Rin’s stare full on, his smile not faltering. "When you pulled Nanase out of the river…you were trembling." "…Was I? I was kind of in a frenzy —so I don’t really remember." He starts walking forward again properly, and Rin stares at his back —recalling that Makoto had indeed been trembling. He’d done well with giving Aki her orders calmly, but he’d been shaking the whole time. His hands, his feet — even his face. Not because of the cold, but because he was scared of something. like if he doesn’t consciously take deep breaths, everything will just stop . “So scared…I didn’t know what to

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Even after piling into the ambulance, he’d held on tight to Haruka’s sleeve for dear life, trembling as he’d called out for Haruka over and over and over. Rin…had never see anyone so frightened before, and that image has burrowed down into his chest, keeping his body from responding as it should. Rin says nothing more, simply following behind Makoto — if he doesn’t remember, then he doesn’t remember, and if he doesn’t want to talk about it, then Rin doesn’t want to force the discussion. They remain silent even waiting for their bus, not even

glancing at each other. Rin pushes the button to get off two stops before Makoto, offering a, “Bye…" as he t akes his leave — glancing at Makoto’s face full - on. It’s the same as ever, the same smile as he always wears. Maybe he’s just overthinking things. Once off the bus, it feels like all the strength leaves his body, and he takes a deep breath as he raises his e yes to the evening sky, watching the bus drive off into the distance. After Rin gets off, Makoto’s hands start trembling. Something he’d been straining to keep in check snaps, and his hands refuse to listen to him any further, shaking violently. The trembling travels through his body, to his legs, his chest, his face — and his teeth ring as they rattle against each other. He wraps his arms around his chest, but no matter how hard he squeezes, the shaking won’t stop. His lips quiver, no matter

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how he grits his teeth, and he cannot stop the tears which silently seep down his cheeks. [END CHAPTER 2]

"high speed!" chapter 3 summary - free

Time for chapter 3! Long as usu al, with pretty much all the dialogue translated :x Prayer circle for Makoto bb everyone ;3; It’s 4 days later when Haruka finally shows up at the swimming club again, striding into the changing room and greeting Makoto with his usual expression and labored breathing. "Haru…" "Yo." "Don’t ‘yo’ me—what’s with you? Are you okay?" Haruka replies that he’s fine now, but Makoto isn’t so easily convinced, given Haruka’s haggard breathing. "I ran here," Haruka explains calmly. "From where?" "Home, of course," and he tosses his bag into his locker.

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Haruka hadn’t been at school that day, but he chalks it up to simply not feeling well that morning, assuring Makoto that he’s much better now. Makoto continues to badger him — what if he breaks out into a fever again? — and Haruka has had enough , snapping at him…before calmly thanking him and then exiting the changing area. Makoto feels all the strength leave him as his cheeks relax at the unexpected words of gratitude…and his worry over Haruka seeps away into nothingness. ————— Haruka’s doing his usual 1000 -m crawl, and while he had been out of breath running on land, he’s perfectly calm here, the water healing him through and through. It’s the same water as always, to him. He’d lied when he had told Makoto he’d been feelin g better before; in actuality, he’s just feeling better now . School won’t heal him, mind or body, so he’d skipped out — but the water restores his strength, and he slowly increases his speed. When he lifts his head from the water, a hand is stretched out to greet him —it’s Aki, a bright smile on her face as she stares down at him. The same hand he had batted away under the poplar trees, he recalls, is now pulling him up from the pool. He thanks her, cocking his head to the side to remove the water from his ears, and mutters softly, “Your muffler…" at which her smile falters. “I guess you probably don’t need it anymore after all that’s happened, but…" Try as they might,

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they hadn’t been able to get it back to its former glory, but Aki explains that she got it from Makoto already. Haruka reflects that she probably blames herself for him falling in the river and warns her not to drop it again. She apologizes again, and he curses inwardly for her to quit doing that, that he’s the one who should be apologizing — and he does apologize here. Shortly, her friends come to call her for relay practice, and she takes her leave with a smile, passing Rin on his way to Haruka — who then invites Haruka to relay practice as well. Haruka doesn’t understand why he needs to prep for any relay, but before he can voice his reluctance, Makoto interjects that Haruka shouldn’t push himself more than he already has. Haruka feels irritation rising at Makoto’s overprotec tive nature and reflects that he’d rather be in the water doing anything — even relay practice — than sitting out here being coddled. He ignores Makoto and asks Rin what sort of relay — as Haruka only swims freestyle —and Rin replies that it’s a free relay, their conversation interrupted with Makoto’s continued pleas of Haru! Haruka leaps into the pool, taking up a lazy crawling stroke to the far end of the pool, tapping the wall to signal for Rin to take up the next leg of the relay. His height doesn’t differ tha t much from Haruka’s, but he’s got more leg strength than either Haruka or Makoto, making him a fierce competitor on short runs thanks to the power of his kicks.

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Haruka reflects that even though it’s the same 100 m, short runs require three turns to complete the full course, whereas long runs require only one. These turns give Rin a chance to use that leg muscle, putting him at a distinct advantage over Haruka. This is why Haruka runs, now. He’s never denied that there are some out there who swim faster tha n he, but that doesn’t mean he has to take it lying down. It’s not a matter of wanting to win or hating losing; he just can’t accept that there’s someone here, standing before him, who feels, who understands the water better than he does. He can’t be sure that running every day means he’ll be able to jump further on his dives, but here he has a guy who surpasses him on his jumps, and that guy runs every day. That’s more than enough reason for Haruka to do the same. He watches Rin swim while reflecting on th is, and takes note of Makoto just beyond him. With his swim cap and goggles on, he doesn’t really look like an elementary school kid, given his broad shoulders and firm chest. He’s not ‘built’ necessarily, but when he takes to the starting block, he has un deniable presence. Rin touches the wall, and Makoto leaps forward into the water, charging forward with a powerful stroke. They’re not even counting time, and yet he seems to be swimming with all he has. It’s the usual Makoto, the same one as always, nothi ng different about him at all — and yet with only a few meters left to the goal, he draws to a stop. Haruka wonders for a moment if he swallowed water or hurt his leg or something, but he’s just…standing there, frozen,

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breathing painfully in the water. Rin, who had just gotten out of the pool, dives back in and swims over, checking to see what’s wrong. Makoto simply removes his goggles, smiling wryly, and

professes to not feeling well; Haruka thinks he looks like he’s about to cry and jerks his gaze away, heading for the showers. ————— Aki’s flower bed idea winds up being chosen as the graduation project at school, and it’s decided that they’ll set it up around the base of the great sakura tree, with preparations begun in earnest. A load of clay is carted in, and after school, the students take part in preparing clay bricks for the project. Haruka mindlessly pours himself into making bricks, trying not to think about how they’ll be stacked up around the sakura tree, when Rin turns the conversation his way. “So, Nanase — about the tournament coming up…wanna run the medley race with me?" The tournament will be at the end of March, just after they graduate, and a rather grand affair at that. It was there that he had met Rin for the first time. Haruka and Makoto have taken part in most tournaments since becoming 6th graders; everything’s broken up by age group and gender, and while there are 3 or 4 times or races that can be run solo, Haruka always limits himself to freestyle runs —which he’s won thrice. Makoto enters freestyle and breaststroke runs, and has won twice. Haruka reminds Rin that he only swims freestyle, but Rin doesn’t seem put off, reassuring Haruka that he can be in

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charge of running the freestyle leg of the relay, looking to Makoto for support. Makoto wo nders what they’ll do about the butterfly leg, and wouldn’t it be better to just run a freestyle relay instead? Medley relays require four members, each in charge of

swimming one leg of the relay in backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle — and th ere’s no one in their club who’s particularly fast at butterfly. "Nah, the medley’ll be fine! I’ll do the butterfly portion, and you can handle the breaststroke, Tachibana. Then we just need someone doing the backstroke leg. I can’t think of anyone who’d really fit the bill, but if they can get through it fine, we’ll handle the rest. Just find someone who can swim the backstroke for us." Makoto is silent, overwhelmed by Rin’s pushiness, and he goes back to working the clay, but Haruka takes over arguing in his stead. "I told you I only swim freestyle; don’t pull me into your relay just because you feel like it." He speaks softly, but there’s force behind his words, and Rin sighs into the clay, as if frustrated with an unruly child who won’t listen. "And that ’s why I said you can do the free part!" His voice grows loud at the end, calling the attention of their classmates around them — even Makoto pauses, staring at Rin. Rin scrambles to his feet, hastily trying to put things back in order. “L— like I said, we should all write messages on the bricks! Our favorite words, some kind of memory, you know? Just whatever you want —you’re free to write what you like!"

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Aki stands up here, offering her support for the idea, and the atmosphere settles down again as their clas smates begin to discuss what to write on the bricks. Rin relaxes, letting out a soft sigh, and Haruka and Makoto go back to kneading the clay as if nothing had happened, with Rin sitting down again to do the same. That is the last of any relay discussion f or the day. ————— Haruka glances down at his watch to check the time —he’s getting faster in his jogs to the swim club. He doesn’t have any particular goal, really, isn’t racing anyone; but for some reason, he still pays attention to the time. Maybe he’s ra cing against his past self, he reasons, wanting to surpass the him from yesterday, and the day before that — eager to step into a new world. He’d always assumed the ground was nothing like the water, with nothing of healing to offer him, but when he runs, he sometimes feels like something within him is freed. So he simply tries to run as fast as possible. As he crosses the bridge today, he catches the sound of footsteps along with his own —“Hello, Nanase -kun!" Hazuki Nagisa calls as he jogs up beside Haruka. H aruka returns the greeting, but nothing more. He doesn’t wonder why Nagisa is running, because that will lead to wondering why Nagisa is running with a smile on his face . "You run every day lately, don’t you, Nanase -kun?" His sicklysweet voice winds its w ay into Haruka’s ears.

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"Yeah, I guess," he returns curtly, hoping to avoid conversation. He’s not avoiding Nagisa , he just doesn’t want to think about anything else when he runs, doesn’t want his mind distracted by anything other than running. "Well I…" he starts, words cut off as he runs out of breath, “I was thinking about…starting running today, too. Can I run with you?" Haruka has no reason to refuse. “I don’t care." "Really?? Yay!" "But I’m not waiting for you if you fall behind." "Gotcha!" He doesn’t want to be caught up in conversation with Nagisa any further, and after crossing the bridge, puts more speed into his step. Nagisa’s labored breathing grows distant, and soon Haruka is back in a world of his own. The wind picks up and rushes past him — and for a while moment, Haruka imagines that it’s Nagisa , and gulps thickly. It’s only for a moment, thought. ————— Rin had been right to have a bad feeling about Nagisa; after finishing a 1000-m butterfly run, he lifts his head out of the water and comes face to face with the same big, round eyes as he has every day now. "What?" He knows what Nagisa wants, but he asks anyway.

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"You really can swim the butterfly!" "Uh, yeah? So?" "You’re really good!" Not as good as your grasshopper , he wants to reply; instead, though, he offers to watch Nagisa swim and critique him, deeming further resistance futile. "Oh, no —I’m taking a break from the butterfly for now." Rin wonders if he’s given up, noting that the boy will never get any better at this rate. “Then I guess you don’t need me anymore." "That’s not it! Just—well, you’re going to be in the tournament coming up, right?" "Yeah." He spots Aki standing poolside at the furthest lane — is that Haruka swimming? "What will you swim?" "The medley." It is Haruka — swimming with all the elegance of a shorebird in flight, as if he’s sliding through the water. There’s none but Haruka who can swim like that. "With Nanase-kun?" "Nothing’s settled yet, but I’ve asked both Nananse and

Tachibana." Was Aki waiting for Haruka to f inish swimming? As he considers this, he quietly slips away from the lane — but not without pausing occasionally to glance back at Haruka.

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"So one, two, three…who’s the fourth?" "Don’t have one yet." He notices Haruka lift himself out of the pool just as Aki disappears into the crowd. "Then take me! I’m really fast at the breaststroke!" His big eyes shine excitedly. "No way." Maybe he shouldn’t have asked Aki for help… "Why not?" "There’s no way a guy who skips out on his butterfly practice could be fast." "T hat’s not it! I didn’t skip out on it —I’m just taking a break!" "Then why are you taking a break?" "Because I’m gonna swim the breaststroke in the medley race, so I need to practice that !" "Huh? But your times are all over the place." "C’moooon lemme in!" "No means no ." He cuts off the conversation, ignoring

the meanie Nagisa throws at his back, and walks away. ————— "So what’d you write on the bricks?" Aki settles down next to Haruka on the bench as he takes a breather after his time in the pool.

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“‘Free’," he returns shortly. "As expected of you —you can take that as ‘live however you want’ or ‘freestyle only’, huh?" There really hadn’t been any deep meaning when he’d written it —he’d just been pissed at Rin after saying he only swam freestyle and scribbled i t out of desperation. He doesn’t bother asking Aki what she wrote, even though social niceties dictate he ought to —he’s mostly curious if she came all the way over here just to ask him that, or did she have some ulterior motice? Perhaps realizing his curiosity, she takes a breath and starts, “Umm, Nanase - kun…" but cuts herself off. "What?" At his prodding, she smiles shyly and continues. “Y’see, I think I’m gonna take part in the medley relay at the tournament — with Miki and Maki and Yuuki. Kinda funny, huh? We sound like four sisters…" Haruka wonders if she decided not to say whatever she’d been going for initially — not that he particularly cares. "Yeah, it does." He notices Makoto just finishing a run and takes the opportunity to switch out, trading places a s Aki’s conversation partner with Makoto and taking his place on the starting block. "Nanase-kun?" Aki stands up and calls out to him, and Haruka pauses but doesn’t reply. She eventually steels herself, and her voice spills out, “You should…do the relay ra ce also."

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He doesn’t turn, just cocks his head to glance at her. "…Why?" "Because —well, you’re the fastest of the sixth -years." "Matsuoka’s faster at 50 m." He starts forward again, passing Makoto who’s dripping water, and dives straight in from the starting block, away from embrace of the water. ————— "Did you run here today too, Haru?" Makoto asks as they change. Haruka, wary of Rin changing behind them, answers softly, “Yeah; so what?" He wonders if Rin will say something ab out it —but it’s Nagisa who pipes up. "I’m gonna start running today, too! Nanase -kun said I can run with him!" "Is that soooo?" Rin calls out teasingly, staring Haruka down. Haruka doesn’t want to be misunderstood, so he amends, “So long as he can keep up with me, at least." But this doesn’t stop Rin from leering, and Haruka feels a swell of irritation, which Makoto catches and tries to put a stop to before it develops. "Maybe I’ll start running, too!" He sounds like he’s just joking, but Haruka knows he is n’t. He figured Makoto would suggest that as soon as he asked Haruka if he’d run here today — and it just pisses Haruka off even more, because he has no reason to refuse. her gaze and into the freeing

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"Just so you know —I’m not waiting up for you." "It’ll be fine; I’m not that slow." "I d on’t mean that; I mean even if you’re late getting started." "Oh, that …" A cloud passes over Makoto’s eyes but quickly dissipates, and it’s the same Makoto as always. “It’s all right — I’ll be able to head out earlier starting tomorrow." So then —that means something’s been going on until today, Haruka realizes, and Nagisa cuts in, “I can run with you on the way back, though, right??" Haruka tugs his bag out of his locker and slams it shut. “If you hurry up and finish changing," he allows, exiting the room. "Ah — wait!!" Nagisa scrambles after Haruka, pulling his socks on one-handed, and Rin and Makoto both watch the sight with laughter. The laughter dies away soon, though, and the temperature drops, and Makoto pulls his bag from his locker to leave, waving to Rin. “Well, I’m headed out." "Tachibana." Makoto stops, and when he turns, Rin’s expression is strangely serious. "…How do you feel about the medley race?" Makoto is torn —how is he expected to respond? “I mean…I don’t mind taking part?" But Rin doesn’t look pleased, just nods a few times. This obviously wasn’t the answer he was looking for.

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"Do you think…Nanase will take part with us?" What Makoto hears, though, is will you please ask him to take part? Rin is obviously concerned with Haruka ’s participation, not Makoto’s. "I’m pretty sure he’ll say the same, even if I’m the one asking." "C’mon, don’t be like that!" "Well, I don’t mind trying at least…" "Please!" His eyes seem to suggest that Makoto is his only hope, and a tiny pressure builds up inside. They part ways, and Makoto heads for the lobby at a light jog — but Haruka is gone. It’s not as if he has to speak with Haruka about the race right now , but sooner is better than later, he figures. He doesn’t plan on pressuring Haruka into partic ipating, and he doesn’t mind if Haruka refuses; there’s no reason for any of them to care all that much about the medley race. It’s Haruka’s own decision as to what he wants to swim. In the parking lot, he unlatches his bike lot and glances over where Haru ka’s bike is usually parked—finding someone else’s there instead. It’s strange, and a little cold, being in this lot without Haruka. ‘I’ll start running tomorrow,’ he reminds himself of what he vowed in the locker room, and puts his bike into gear as he pedals off. He catches up to Nagisa at the bridge, calling out encouragement as the boy runs, panting white clouds into the cold air. He can easily just pedal onward, but he feels kind of bad for the poor guy, who’s obviously been left behind by

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Haruka, so h e slowly to a steady cycle beside him. “Keep it up, Nagisa!" He can always bring up the conversation with Haruka

tomorrow; there’s no hurry, and he continues to encourage Nagisa in his efforts as they cross the bridge together. ————— When he arrives home, Makoto pulls out a gardening trowel and begins to dig a small hole in a corner of the yard — and on finishing, he heads inside and turns the light on. There’s a goldfish tank sitting on the shoe box just inside the front foyer, and in it float two lifeless little goldfish. They no longer swim, no longer flutter their fins — just silently drift in the water. Their scales are dotted with little white growths, obviously due to some sort of sickness. Makoto had diligently cleaned out their tank every day after scho ol, slipping medication into the water, but when he’d come home today, they’d both been floating like this, dead. He gently takes the bowl into his hands; he can feel how lukewarm the water is now, like some stagnant bog. The pulse of life is completely gone, and he scoops out the fish, sleeping in his hand and not even wriggling in the slightest. He carries the fish to the corner of the yard and sets them down in the hole he’d just dug, scraping dirt back on top of them now — and thus ends the makeshift funeral. When he thinks about the little lives that have just been extinguished with so little fanfare…something hurts deep in his chest. “You

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probably…still wanted to swim a little more, huh…" He stands, the trowel in his hands, but he can’t tear his gaze awa y. "…I’m sorry." He tosses the trowel to the side and runs back into the foyer, cutting off the tank’s pump. The tank now holds nothing more than dark, quiet water, with no purpose or reason at all — and it reminds him of the water that tried to swallow up H aruka, setting his fingers to trembling. He charges out of the house, down the steps and headed for the great stone staircase leading up to the shrine — just near Haruka’s home. He has to see Haruka right now. It can’t wait until tomorrow; if he doesn’t see Haruka right this moment , he’s not going to be able to stay sane. He wants nothing more than to see — "Makoto." A voice calls out to him just as he’s mounting the stone steps, dusk nearing; his heart thuds in his chest, and his feet stop. It’s Haru’s voice… He slowly raises his gaze, and there under the first torii, backlit by the setting sun and thrown into deep shadow, is Haruka. ‘Was he…waiting for me?’ he wonders — but quickly quashes the notion; it’s impossible, and he knows this, but he still can’t help feeling that way. His feet start to move of their own accord, bringing him to Haruka, and he slowly mounts the stairs. He can’t tears his gaze away, can’ t look away from Haruka; he’s being pulled to Haruka, and climbs up to the first

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torii. If he just reached out —he’d be able to touch Haruka — that’s how close he is. "Were you…here this whole time, Haru?" "Yeah." His expression doesn’t change, and his response is low and soft. "…Did you know I was coming?" He knows Haruka can’t have, but he can’t help but ask. "No." "Then…why?" Why are you standing there? "I was watching the sunset." Makoto turns his gaze t o follow Haruka’s own—it’s indeed a beautiful sight, but nothing all that special. So maybe he really was waiting…? Even if not, Makoto desperately wants to hope he was. Thinking that helps calm the pain that throbs in his chest. “Did you need something fro m me?" Haruka’s face looks red, backlit by the setting sun. "Not really, just…well, I feel like I got what I needed by seeing your face." "What’s that supposed to mean?" he laughs lightly, showing a bit of teeth. "Yeah, I’m weird, I know," Makoto returns w ith a self-

deprecating chuckle. It feels like it’s been ages since they’ve been able to talk like this, just the two of them; lately, Rin’s been with them everywhere they go.

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Haruka turns to face him straight on, and the setting sun flashes deep within his eyes, leaving Makoto feeling as if he can see straight through into Haruka’s mind. “Makoto." "What?" "…Are you scared of the water?" His heart flips, and his throat goes dry. He tries to keep calm, but his breathing grows labored —he meets Haruka’s gaze an d realizes that he is the one whose secrets are being laid bare, Haruka seeing right through to his core. It’s always been like that, ever since they were small. Haruka would never say anything about himself, but he always knew everything about Makoto. Knew everything — but had the good grace to pretend he didn’t. Haruka isn’t attacking him, isn’t probing with questions, just calmly asking in that same tone as always. "…Have you always been…?" Makoto silently nods. Fearing the water has nothing to do with whe ther or not you’re able to swim; it’s the fact that no matter how well you swim…there’s something inescapable lurking beneath the surface. It may seem like it’s slumbering, but there’s no telling when it will attack. Makoto has felt the fear of that lurking something , is terrified of its shadow, and it grips his heart now. Haruka continues his short questions, “Why?" He doesn’t mind Haruka asking; in fact, he wants Haruka to know —maybe he’s always been hoping Haruka would ask some day.

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"You remember when we were little…and we saw all those people dressed in white lined up?" Haruka nods shortly; the image of the child they saw that day blooms in Makoto’s mind, and he suspects it does in Haruka’s as well. “Apparently…a big fishing boat sank that day. There wer e dozens of people on it, and it sank…three kilometers out from the harbor." He’d only learned what had happened years after the incident itself. Haruka turns his gaze to the sea, and Makoto follows. The wind blows past them, carrying the sunlight out to t he ocean. "Three kilometers… That’s as much as we swim every day, right? How could fishermen drown just three kilometers out…?" Something lurking in the water had kept those men from swimming that short distance; they’d probably never find it, even if they tried, for it was probably something you couldn’t see in the first place. "So just…whenever I’m in the pool, I kind of…lose it. I’m not swimming so much as…running away from something. I know it’s not the ocean, and my feet can even touch just fine, but st ill… I’m always running away from the water." Haruka listens to him silently, and Makoto closes his eyes, still facing the ocean, before slowly shifting his gaze to Haruka. “When you fell into the river…I was so scared, I trembled. I tried to stop it, tried so hard — but my whole body just kept shaking. My hands, my feet, my entire body shook." Something lurking in the water was trying to drag off Haruka; he’d been so scared that Haruka would disappear. The fear he’d only ever imagined before was being played out here right

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in front of him. “Fear" had been all he knew at that moment. Ever since then, he’s found himself struck at odd moments by that fear; whether at home, or at school, or even swimming in the pool… It comes back to him, freezes him in place, st ops all conscious thought. He’s doing everything he can to fight this fear. "And…understand that it’s not just because Matsuoka -kun

invited me, but…I’m going to swim the medley race. So…you should swim with us. If you’re not there…if it’s not with you…then it’s meaningless to me. I want to swim with you ."

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Haruka doesn’t bat a lash at Makoto’s impassioned plea, taking the words straight on, staring calmly ahead. This cool reception soothes Makoto’s heated body and soul, and he feels

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the ripples reverberating through his chest slowly calm.

"…Sorry, I’m saying weird things, I guess. Don’t pay much attention to me —it’s late, so…I’m gonna head home." He bids farewell and turns to head down the steps. But just as he starts down the stone stair s, Haruka’s heavy lips open just slightly, and, "…I’ll think about it." "Huh?" "The medley race." Makoto’s brows lift in surprise, and his lips twitch into a smile. That’s all he could hope for right now, and it’s more than enough. "Then…see you tomorrow, Haru." "Sure." Makoto’s heart is far lighter now than before, and he feels like he’s finally gotten a heavy weight off his chest — he fears the water, but he loves to swim, and whenever he’s in the pool, he’s overcome with the urge to flee, so he just wants Haruka to be there with him, yet Haruka’s always so brusque… Still, he doesn’t care right now. Haruka understands him, and that’s more than enough. Makoto heads down the darkening stone steps on light feet back to his home. END CHAPTER 3

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"high speed!" chapter 4 summary - relay

Time for something a bit lighter! Chapter 4 coming at you! It’s another morning marked by freezing winds on the way to Iwatobi Elementary, and everyone’s got their shoulders hunched and heads ducked against the chill — except for Rin, who’s getting in a morning jog on the way to school, darting between his peers as he runs the road dotted with poplars. Up ahead, he spots a girl walking with a brown-stained muffler wrapped about her and draws to a stop, breath coming out in white puffs. “Morning, Yazaki -san." She turns and greets him with a smile, asking if he’s run all the way there. “Yup — kinda like training, I guess." He huffs anoth er breath of white fog for show. "Wow…but you’d better be careful; it’s dangerous to run around here!" Rin swallows his breath. “Yeah —but I’m taking care!" Her muffler flies up and brushes across his cheeks; it’s still stained brown, the dirt refusing to come off completely. Rin still doesn’t know why Haruka climbed all the way down to the bank to get the muffler — nor does he intend to ask. He doesn’t know what made Makoto so frightened he trembled in his own skin —and he doesn’t intend to press for an explan ation on this point either.

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"I’m sorry…for asking you to do what you did yesterday." Aki shakes her head softly. “No— I really want Nanase-kun to swim the relay, too." "Oh…? Why?" At this, she glances downward, then lifts her head and fixes her gaze somewhe re far away. “Nanase - kun’s so capable…he can do anything. In class, in sports — even his drawings are amazing. He really can do whatever he puts his mind to. And that’s why everyone relies on him; but he never relies on anyone else, you know?" Rin has to agr ee; he’s only just moved here, but that was his immediate impression of Haruka. He doesn’t actively seek interaction with others —but it doesn’t push them away, instead drawing them closer to him. And he always rises to meet their expectations. It’s a stran ge balance indeed. "He’s really kind; so even if he has something he wants to say, he never will. I think he doesn’t want to force himself on anyone else, or hurt anyone else —but it’s not good to behave like that all the time; he really should learn to be more assertive." The gaze she fixes on Rin is obviously seeking his opinion on her thoughts, but truthfully, Rin has never felt compelled to try and change Haruka for better or worse. In fact, he doesn’t think Haruka needs to change at all —all he’s concerned with is being able to swim the relay race with Haruka; it’s what he wants to do. Instead, though, he offers his agreement, suggesting that Haruka needs to get a better sense of humor. Aki uses this

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opportunity to get a playful jab in at Rin about his ow n overthe-top humor style, adding that in all seriousness, she really wants to see Haruka doing his best with the others. ————— When Haruka reaches the bottom of the stone staircase, Makoto is waiting for him. “See? Not late." "Let’s go." They set off at a jog, breath coming out in white puffs —and once they reach the bridge, they’re joined by Nagisa, who waves at them wildly, with Haruka returning a weak flash of his own palm. Nagisa’s gaze passes beyond Haruka and Makoto, though, to just beyond them, and he gives another large wave to Rin, who draws up alongside them shortly. "Yo!" he greets the others, and Haruka flashes him a bit of palm as well in return — a gesture which could just as easily be interpreted as Get the hell away from me . Nagisa draws up even with the others, professing to Haruka that he’ll be sure to keep up with them today, but Haruka simply chides him for resting while waiting for them — that hardly counts as training. “Then tomorrow I’ll jog in place while I wait!" he vows. Joke or not, it ’s very Nagisa -esque, and Makoto and Rin sputter in amused laughter — which, from Nagisa’s confused expression, suggests that he was serious. “I—I’ll jog really fast!" This just makes the laughter increase in volume, with Rin tripping over himself and nearly toppling forward.

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"I’m gonna leave you all behind while you’re babbling," Haruka threatens, increasing his speed a bit. Nagisa does his best to keep up as they cross the bridge, but his breathing grows labored, and when Haruka notices he’s starting to fall behind,

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he glances downward — ‘Guess this is it for him.’ A sigh mixes with his breath, and slowly, almost imperceptibly, he gentles his pace just a bit. "Ah…!" is the soft response from Rin, and Haruka can already almost hear the Aww, Nanase’s so sweet! , tutting to himself. Nagisa manages to keep up, though, despite his twisted features, albeit with no energy left to chat anymore. ————— Nagisa is practically breathless by the time they reach the club, and Rin gently claps him on the back, congratulating him for a job well done. Nagisa tries to respond, but nothing comes out, he’s so out of breath. By the time they get changed and back out into the pool, though, he’s back to his usual chatty self. "Are you gonna practice for the relay today, Matsuoka -kun?" Rin replies that he is —but inside, he’s worried more about the futility of practice without an actual official team . "Well, the fifth-years are doing time-trials today, so if — if , mind you — I take top time in the breaststroke, will you let me be a team member?" Rin stares, fixated on Nagisa — the guy really has some selfconfidence — and attempts to locate the source of that confidence in his slender frame. He’d always chalked Nagisa up to some cute, little-brother-like existence with no real drive or fire to him, but maybe he’s been wrong all along —after all, he’s only known Nagisa for a month, and Rin himself was a little fire-cracker in his fifth year, surpassing his elders easily.

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"…All right, then— fine. If you place first, though, and only then." It’s an easily made promise, thou gh, and Rin doesn’t seriously believe that Nagisa has much chance of pulling through. Nagisa is nevertheless thrilled, turning to Haruka excitedly, and Haruka offers him encouragement to do his best, which gives Nagisa even more cause for elation. Watching the exchange, Makoto worriedly inquires as to

whether or not it’s okay to promise that sort of thing. "Nah, there’s nothing to worry about; if he places first, then he’s first, and that means we can put our faith in him to pull through when we need it." R in has decided that he’s going to actually try and figure out what dwells within Nagisa, his true ability. If he wants to run the medley race — he needs to have a heart bursting with energy and drive. "Not that — I mean Haru . Nagisa thinks Haru’s already a

member." "It’s the opposite, actually— I realize it might not be fair to Nagisa, but I’m using him to lure Nanase into competing in the medley race." It’s a long - shot, but it’s the first step to their goal, and he wonders how Haruka will react to Nagisa’s elat ion at becoming a member while he himself chooses not to swim with them. If he’s even the slightest bit hesitant to disappoint Nagisa…that might be their chance— just like how Haruka had slowed his pace a bit for Nagisa’s sake earlier. It’s a long -shot, but it just might work. —————

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The fifth- years’ time trials are held in the smaller 25 -m pool, with eight students at a time swimming one of the four strokes over a 50- m distance. Makoto has had Haruka promise to “think over" participating in the relay, but he fears there’s still a ways to go to get him to actually agree. Nagisa doesn’t want to take part in the relay, though, so much as he wants to swim with Haruka; it’s the reason Nagisa joined the club in the first place, and it’s the reason he runs as well. So Nagisa wants to be in the relay because he thinks Haruka is going to do so as well. They really should have gotten Haruka to agree to participate first — then they could focus on Nagisa. When Makoto turns his attention back to the time trials, he spots Nagisa on the starting block; it almost time for the breaststroke leg to start. Just how much energy can the guy be storing in such a small container as his body…? Nagisa curls down into a starting position, positioning his hands at the edge of the block, and waits for the whistle — "Ready…!" The whistle blows, and all eight swimmers on their blocks dive in. When Nagisa resurfaces, he’s a good two heads behind the top swimmers — not a very good position, but he at least doesn’t seem to be letting it affect him, actually looking like his strokes are calmer and more collected than usual. Everyone swims the breaststroke at their own pace, and slowly but surely, Nagisa inches his way up through the ranks — clinching his victory at the last moment.

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He breaks the surface of the water, glancing around worriedly, but when his time is called, he raises his right fist in a gesture of victory and leaps up from the water in joy. Makoto begins to applaud for him, and Nagisa offers a big wave in return. “That was amazing, Nagisa! You did it!" He throws Nagisa a thumbs-up, and Nagisa returns the gesture. Rin, arms crossed over his chest, is dumbstruck. “I can’t believe he did it…" The sound of splashing reaches them from behind, and Makoto turns to find that Haruka has jumped into the water, starting his run after watching Nagisa’s own, perhaps —or maybe it’s just coincidence. Haruka will likely never confess one way or the other, and if he had expressed interest in Nagisa’s condition, it would be a first. But maybe this is the start…of some tiny change in Haruka, and unable to contain himself any longer, Makoto jumps into the lane next to Haruka. ————— "So what’re we gonna do, Nanase?" Rin calls from his shower stall into the one next to him. "About what?" "About Nagisa . He placed first, you know." "Yeah, I guess so." Haruka’s soft voice is almost lost in the sound of the spray. He doesn’t sound very interested, which sparks a bit of irritation in Rin. "So —what’re you going to do now, then?"

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His only response is the sound of the shower curtain rustli ng as Haruka leaves, and Rin sighs deeply to himself. When Haruka enters the changing room, Nagisa and Makoto are already there. "Nanase-kun, you were watching me!" Nagisa exclaims,

practically launching himself at Haruka. "…Yeah, I was." Nagisa beams at t he response. “I got first place!" "I see." It’s the same tone as always— - but Nagisa’s smile says he’s more than thrilled for it. "So then — about that promise, Matsuoka-kun?" he directs at Rin when he steps out of the shower room. "…Yeah, I promised: you’re officially a member of our medley team." Nagisa whirls in place to face Haruka as soon as Rin announces this. “YESSSS! I’m on the same team as Nanase -kun now!" "Guess you are," Haruka allows evenly — and Makoto and Rin freeze for a moment, unsure if they’ve heard correctly. "Haru — did you just — " "Nanase, are you serious?! You’re going to swim the medley race with us?" "…I was planning to, yeah."

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Rin is unable to contain his joy, even at this curt response. “AWESOME! We did it, Tachibana!" He directs a victory pose in Makoto’s direction, shouting with even more enthusiasm than Nagisa had. "Yup!" "All right, then! We’re officially a team starting today! Time to get down to business with practice!" Makoto and Nagisa nod sharply — Haruka dries his hair with a towel. “Oh hey—let’s use our first names from now on! It’s more ‘friendly’, don’tcha think? I guess that would make Nanase ‘Haru’ then!" Haruka freezes his hands toweling off his hair —but it’s

impossible to see his expression, and after a moment, he starts moving again. "And Tachibana —is ‘Makoto’." "Not very inventive, are you?" Makoto chuckles wryly. "What about me??" "Nagisa is…well, Nagisa, just like you’ve always been. And as for me —you can all call me ‘Leader’!" "Eeeeh??" Nagisa is decidedly unsatisfied with this. “But

‘Leader’ isn’t a name!" Makoto stifles a laugh, and Rin settles his hands at his hips in mild irritation. “Listen up— the Leader is the most important person on the team; he looks after everyone else and kind of binds everyone together, see?"

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"Re ally…? But…I still think ‘Leader’ is weird. Don’t you think ‘RinRin’ would be better?" "Urk…" Rin freezes, mouth open, and Makoto clasps his hands over his stomach in laughter —even Haruka’s back is shaking a bit as he continues to dry his hair. "And then ‘ Mako- chan’ and ‘Haru - chan’!" At this, Makoto’s

laughter stops, and Haruka’s towel drops to the floor. “I can’t wait for tomorrow! The relay’s all about teamwork, right? We’ve gotta do our best together — gotta be sure to practice together!" ————— "Good morning, Nanase-kun!" Aki greets cheerfully, and Haruka returns a soft Hey , the bare minimum required by society. She comments that she’s heard he’s going to participate in the relay. One glance around the room reveals that Makoto hasn’t arrived yet, while Rin is pulling out his books and notes with an air of feigned innocence — the obvious culprit for leaking this information. “Yeah, I guess." She expresses her relief —you’d really wanted him to take part, actually, but she hadn’t been able to get it acr oss to Haruka the day before, so she’d wondered how things would turn out. He asks after her own team, and she returns that they’re doing well, trimming down their times little by little each day. That’s what a relay is all about, after all; it’s not about swimming for yourself, but instead involves teamwork and responsibility — winning and losing.

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All things Haruka wants to avoid at all costs. "I can’t wait to see you swimming with everyone, Nanase -kun," she continues. “I’m sure your team will earn top place ! You’re all so fast, after all." "It’s not my team," he corrects, then takes a breath, raising his voice just enough to be sure Rin hears him: “RinRin’s our leader." Rin’s shoulders twitch, and all eyes turn to focus on him — laughter erupts after a moment’ s silence, with not even Aki being able to contain herself. Rin stalks over to Haruka, who initially thinks he might be about to let him have it, but after a deep breath, Rin calmly and quietly, so that only Haruka and Aki can hear, explains, “You know— I was teased at my old school, with everyone calling me ‘Rin - chan’ all the time. I hated it so much, I transferred. So —please, I’m begging you: if you keep calling me RinRin, I’m gonna have to transfer again." It sounds, to Haruka, like complete bull, and how was he to be expected to know anything about what happened at Rin’s old school? Aki quickly apologizes though. "Huh? But —why’re you apologizing, Yazaki -san?" "Well —I laughed, too! I had no idea you’d been bullied…" "Ah yeah —well, I’m a shy guy like that. I could never say anything back to them, so the teasing just got worse and worse… It was horrible…"

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"I see…" Aki is obviously drinking this up — but what kind of shy person would ever outright say they were shy? Haruka can only assume Rin is trying to score points. He’s about at the end of his rope with the whole charade when Makoto enters. "Morning Haru. Zaki- chan. And…’RinRin’, right?" "No, you mustn’t call him that!" Aki butts in before Rin can say anything. "Huh? But —didn’t we decide on ‘RinRin’ yesterday …" "Apparently he was bullied for his name at his old school!" "Wait…who was bullied?" "Matsuoka-kun, of course!" Makoto can only laugh at the notion, and Aki reprimands him for his reaction. "S — sorry, sorry! But no one would every tease you for that kind of thing here, so don’t worry!" ————— March brings promise of spring and new life — and their breath no longer forms fog as they pant on their runs. Nagisa’s breathing as they run together is still labored as he joins up with the others on their jog. “Just s o you know, I’m not slacking off! I’ve been jogging in place the whole time!" "You say that every day, though." "Because I jog in place every day ."

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"Then what’s the point in going out of your way to say so every day?" Rin’s a bit irritated today for some r eason. "Well you say the same thing too every day, RinRin. Going on about how we’re a team — " "You know, Nagisa —" Rin cuts him off. “My name is Rin , not RinRin." "Wait —really? Aren’t you supposed to read that difficult kanji you use for your name ‘RinRin’? Well — whatever." "What do you mean ‘Whatever’?" "Just that ‘RinRin’ should be fine, even if it’s not the correct reading. Right?" He looks not to Rin but to Haruk a for confirmation. "Sounds fine to me." “ Haru , you — " But Makoto jumps in before things can get out of hand. "No, don’t say that, Nagisa! If you call him ‘RinRin’, he’ll have to change schools again!" "Well —fine then, we’ll just go with ‘Rin - chan’. Gosh, so pushy…" Rin looks like he wants to give Nagisa a piece of his mind, but Haruka increases his speed. "I’m leaving you behind if you’re gonna run your mouths all day." With that, the four charge on. —————

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Perhaps a sign that he’s finally getting used to ru nning, Nagisa no longer is out of breath by the time they reach the changing rooms, Haruka notes, when Rin saunters in, hands on his hips. "All right, listen up everyone!" They can all easily hear him — there’s no need to yell; what’s he so worked up about? But Haruka doesn’t voice this aloud, so Rin doesn’t get the message. "The tournament’s coming up soon, as I’m sure you’re all aware, so I’m thinking of changing up our training regimen." "How so?" Makoto asks, tugging on his cap. "We’re going to focus on o ur medley regimen — or

rather, only on that." "Wooohoo!!" Nagisa raises both hands in joy, thrilled to finally be focusing on only medley-related training. Makoto’s not nearly as excited, though, expression troubled. “Then…what about our other practice regim ens?" "We won’t do them." "Won’t do…?" "I only want to focus on training for the medley." Makoto is still unsure. “But if we don’t practice…we won’t be able to swim our races properly at the tournament." "Then…" Rin slides his glance from Makoto to Haruka. "…we won’t swim any other races." "…Who the hell decided that?" Haruka wants to know.

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"No one —but we’re going to decide it right now. I won’t take part in any races other than the medley; so I want you all to do the same. If we don’t, I don’t think we hav e a chance of winning." Haruka slams his locker shut, and the sound stings the others’ ears as it echoes in the changing room. “Who’re we trying to beat? What’s their time? Why do we have to go along with whatever you say?" "Haru!" Makoto jumps in, just in the nick of time as far as Haruka sees it, loath to continue this conversation with Rin and not intending on doing anything he suggests. He wants to get away from Rin’s passion as quickly as possible, wants to sink into the embrace of the water. “Haru…" M akoto continues, "…we’re entering this race as a team. That’s not going to change…right?" Of course not; Haruka didn’t make this decision lightly, so he intends to follow through with it, and that won’t change. At Haruka’s silence, Makoto sighs softly and turns to Rin. "…Why are you so obsessed with the relay race? If there’s some particular reason — tell us now." Rin doesn’t crack, though, staring right through Makoto at Haruka beyond him. He probably was expecting some resistance, which is why he’s being so inflexible on this point. “I don’t intend to force anyone to go along with me. But if you really intend to win this relay race, it’s what we have to do. If I’m going to participate, then I want to win it . That’s my reason."

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Winning, victory — words that do nothing to move Haruka to action just keep spilling out of Rin’s mouth. ‘That’s not why I swim.’ So…why does Haruka swim, then…? He hates being asked that sort of thing, so he doesn’t voice his opinion, instead sitting quietly. Makoto’s expression is confused. “Wait — I mean, I want to win too, sure, but just training for the relay race is kind of… Well, I want to swim the breaststroke race, too, and I’d been planning on doing the freestyle run as well." Makoto had won the 100 -m breaststroke at last year’s tournament, and Rin had won the 50 m breaststroke and freestyle divisions…yet here he was, saying he wanted to focus on the medley race so badly he was willing to give up on those races he’d taken in the past. "…Can we have some time to think it over? Maybe practice like normal, just for today?" At this, Rin lets his hands drop from his hips, and his usual smile finds its way back to his face. “Yeah, sorry for bringing it up all of a sudden. Everyone’s free to do whatever he wan ts, of course; I can hardly blame any of you. I just…wanted you all to know how I felt." Makoto nods, and Nagisa, who has been silent all this time, glances up at Rin. “I’ll…do medley practice with Rin -chan, then. And I’ll only take part in the relay!" Rin breaks out into a broad grin; whatever his reasoning, Nagisa has decided to go along with Rin’s admittedly selfish suggestion. “Thanks, Nagisa. But just so you know — my

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training’s tough!" Nagisa is confident he can handle it, though, being the best of the fifth- years. “All right then, let’s get practicing!" Rin snaps the band on his goggles, and Nagisa does the same — after which the two head off to the pool. Watching the pair leave, Haruka feels as if he’s lost in a deep fog, unable to see in front of him. H e hadn’t wanted to get involved in anything, but now he’s well and thoroughly involved, and the more he tries to keep from being dragged in, the deeper the fog grows around him. END CHAPTER 4

"high speed!" chapter 5 summary - stroke

Time for more summary! Dive right in :3 Rin stands on the starting block and watches Nagisa’s

breaststroke carefully, noting to himself that his stroke seems a bit different from the time trial not too long ago. When Nagisa reaches the wall and Rin doesn’t dive in to complete the relay, he asks what’s wrong, panting with fatigue. Rin squats and peers down into Nagisa’s face. "…Were you swimming with all your might just now?" "Yup."

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His big, goggle-covered eyes show no doubt or hesitation or lies —he’s not trying to hide anything he’s thinking, showing himself to the world just as he is. That’s how Nagisa is — and it’s the kind of person Rin struggles most in dealing with. People with something to hide have weaknesses that can be taken advantage of — he knows that from experience. "You haven’t changed the way you swim since the time trial, have you?" "It’s the same." Nagisa obviously doesn’t notice anything off. "Your time…it’s slipping." "S eriously?" The time trial wasn’t a fluke—Rin’s convinced— and a time that’s been shortened wouldn’t just lengthen again so easily, especially not for a boy still maturing. “I wonder why, then… That’s weird. I’m really not swimming any differently!" "Are you …keeping an eye on your opponents during races?" "Yeah." "Then that must be it —it’s a matter of feeling that urge to swim faster than someone. It increased your speed without you even realizing it." "You can swim faster just by feeling something?" "Of course." Feelings mature people — almost to the point

of evolution . “Wanna swim against me?" "Against you? But I’ll lose for sure."

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"I’ll hold back. If you can beat me—you’ll break your own personal record!" "Okay!" They take their marks and sync their breathing — and RIn calls the start, both diving in and hitting the water at the same distance. As they race, Rin can feel Nagisa’s fingers just at his hips, the distance neither widening nor narrowing even at the 25-m turn…but with only 15 m left, Rin feels Nagisa’s fingertips stretching out, his arm quickly pulling into view as he catches up, practically clawing at Rin’s own shoulder. A shudder runs down Rin’s spine— and now he understands what threw off Nagisa’s opponents during the time trial. Each stroke narrows the distance between them, and soon Nagisa’s arms are neck -and- neck with Rin’s chin , and with 5 m left, their heads are nearly lined up. It’s no longer Nagisa that Rin sees, but something altogether inde scribable. ‘He’s going to pass me…!’ Rin pours more power into his shoulders and manages to reach his goal maintaining a head lead on Nagisa, immediately lifting himself up onto the poolside. His breath is ragged, far more than it should be at just 50 m. He hadn’t lied when he’d said he’d hold back; he’d had plenty of confidence he could beat Nagisa’s best time easily. So why had he been so stiff? In a word, it had been out of: fear . Not irritation or instinctive response to a challenge; he’d been terrified of Nagisa coming up from behind him, had struggled to escape him, and in the end he hadn’t been able to even bear

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staying in the same water as Nagisa and had leapt out of the pool at first chance. Nagisa glances up at him, confused. “What’s wrong, Rin -chan?" RIn can’t even look him in the eye; he’s afraid Nagisa will see right through him. "See what you can do when you put your mind to it?" he offers instead, and Nagisa is confused — he lost, so how has he gained anything? “Your arms— " "Yeah?" It’s the same Nagisa as always; Rin’s teammate, almost like a little brother. He’s not “something altogether indescribable". He finally manages to look Nagisa in the face. "Your arms are getting longer." "My arms?" "Yeah; on the last leg, you started to catch up, right ? Your arms got longer." "They did? I can’t tell at all…" "What do you think about when you swim?" "Just that I’ll catch up, no matter what." He obviously doesn’t focus on his form or rhythm. Nagisa is clearly the type to learn by doing, and Rin invites him to try swimming against him again. Nagisa lifts up onto the poolside, and Rin takes in his body — slender and small…how on earth did someone like that manage to nearly overtake him? Perhaps there’s some hint in Nagisa as

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to the perfect form Rin’s always be en searching for. They take their places on the starting blocks. "Ready…? Go!" They both leap forward and slip into the water — but is the goal really only 50 m away? Or is it perhaps much, much further…? Rin can’t be sure anymore where he’s heading, just re peating strokes through the water. ————— Everyone’s broken up into groups based on the stroke they’ll be swimming with the tournament so near at hand. Today, Makoto’s in the backstroke group, a stroke he’ll be swimming during the relay mostly by default si nce the other strokes were taken. It’s not that he can’t swim it, or that he’s bad at it —but he’s never swum it during a tournament before. Mostly because he’s never tried the S- curve pull he’s supposed to use with the stroke He grips the poolside, bringing his legs up to brace against the edge as he faces the wall — then pushes off backwards. Usually, when he dives into the water, it feels like some demon is dragging its tongue over him, and his body wants to freeze in place —but right now, that isn’t happeni ng. It feels like he’s being licked still, but he isn’t seizing up. His arms extend, his body stretches —this is him swimming. He’s not fleeing the water —maybe…this is what he’s always been meant to be.

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He can still sense that demonic presence, but staring up at the ceiling of the swimming club like this, his body doesn’t fight it, he feels no reason to run. He feels like he’s riding the water now, properly sensing the water. ‘Like a marine mammal…’ Maybe he used to be some kind of great sea creature in a pr evious life. It’s ridiculous, but it’s all he can think of. If that’s not the case — then why does he feel like this? Where is this sense of fulfillment coming from? Some sensation he’s never experienced before is freeing him within the water. The high follows him even after he leaves the water, and he manages to calm the feelings and find his way over to the bench, where Aki is sitting. "Huh? You’re doing the backstroke too, Zaki -chan?" "Oh — Tachibana- kun. No, I’m freestyle." "Taking a break, then?" "Mmm, just…thinking." "About the relay?" "No…" "Oh —I get it! About the flower bed tomorrow!" It’s time to start cementing together the bricks they’ve just had fired. "No, we’re having a plasterer come in to take care of it, so he’ll apply the cement."

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"You should’ve just asked Haru." "Nanase- kun? But…isn’t it hard?" "It’s all right— Haru laid bricks in the garden of his home, after all." "In the garden?" "Yup; you get mud on your feet walking around the yard, right? So he laid bricks to make a path —it’s real ly well done." "Wow…he really can do anything!" Her smile looks a bit clouded, though. "But…that’s not what you were thinking about, is it?" "No…I was thinking about Nanase -kun, actually." "Haru?" "I’ve only been focusing on my freestyle practice, and I wa s wondering…why he only swims freestyle." "Why would you wonder that?" It’s not as if Haruka’s only just started acting this way. "He’s a really fast swimmer, right? So I was wondering how he feels when he swims. Maybe if I understood, I could swim faster myself." Makoto glances over to the freestyle group, and his eyes find Haruka — he sticks out, swimming with all the grace of a dolphin.

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"You know…Haru doesn’t actually like swimming all that

much." "Huh?" "And he doesnt’ really particularly like freestyle e ither." "But, then why would…" Makoto brings his gaze back from the freestyle group to meet Aki’s. “I’ve never asked, but for him…swimming has a different meaning than it does for the rest of us." "How so?" "Haru…it’s just natural for him to be in the wate r." "Huh?" "And probably the most natural form to do so…is freestyle. I guess you could call it ‘instinct’. It’s like asking why dolphins and whales live in the ocean." Makoto himself just experienced something similar only moments before. He can’t be 100% certain, b ut he feels he isn’t far off. "Then if that’s the case…I guess I can’t understand it." "I’m not sure anyone could—understand Haru’s emotions, that is." He takes his leave, bidding her farewell, and she responds with a soft okay ; from it, he can tell that s he’s still watching Haruka. —————

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The fired bricks have been set around the base of the sakura tree, and the students start to lay the brick in increasing steps with cement. Haruka is laying his set with ease, no worry as he layers the bricks cleanly, Aki brings Haruka more bricks and apologizes for asking him to do this, but he waves her off, saying he’s done it before, and had the plasterer give him instructions. Rin wanders over as Haruka returns to his brick - laying. “Nice work there." Since he isn’t obv iously seeking any response, Haruka gives him none. “Maybe I’ll give it a shot!" ‘Do it if you want, then; there’s no need to make an

announcement about it.’ At the sound of Rin’s footsteps fading away, Haruka notices there are bumps in the cement he’s jus t laved now — Rin simply calling out to him has unsettled him this much . Moments later, though, Rin returns and sits across from Haruka and starts laying cement, actually quite adeptly. They’re no more than 2 m away from each other, and yet Haruka hates it. If they’d been closer, Haruka could move away, and any further would put a stop to any conversation. "Haru —I’m going to start timing myself tomorrow." As expected, Rin starts speaking to him. “I want…to start practicing in a tournament format, so…" He trails off; this time he isn’t making decisions on his own like he usually does. "Go for it, then." Haruka is as expressionless as ever, not once tearing his eyes from the bricks. He can’t see any reason they have to talk about this right now.

High Speed!
Rin nods softl y, seemingly satisfied. “Nagisa…is getting

faster." Haruka knows; they’re on the same team. “His arms — they’re getting longer." "………" "It’s his up - kick; he doesn’t realize it, but when he draws in his legs, he lifts up a bit. But he can only do it when he absolutely has to." "………" "And I think he can get even faster if we can get him a good start." Maybe, but there’s no reason they need to discuss this right now. Can’t he just be quiet ? “We need to teach him about how a match feels, and timing and focus, tho se kinds of things." ‘And Rin’s what do you have worth on teaching keeping anyone?’ Haruka the cement from

brushes off the mild irritation that rises up. He tries to ignore conversation, focusing bumping. When he glances over, he sees that Rin’s almost finished with his section, and it looks perfect — and he finds himself somewhat in awe of Rin’s ability to be so skilled while babbling like he was. "Haru, I brought some more." Makoto arrives with a new bucket of cement. "I was just mentioning to Haru that I wanted to start timing myself today, like in a real match."

High Speed!
"Yeah —the tournament’s just around the corner, after all." Haruka leaves Makoto to be Rin’s conversation partner here, turning his attention back to the bricklaying. He just wants to finish — and then be in the water, sinking below the surface. ————— Almost to the bridge, Haruka is running alone today — no Makoto, no Rin, and Nagisa’s probably long gone. It’s been a while since he’s crossed the bridge alone. He’d always planned to run along — running with others had never crossed his mind, just as swimming with a team hadn’t either. Swimming is a solo sport, and even relays are swum as individual legs. As such, he can’t understand the point of obsessing over the team . Swimming doesn’t require eye contact or any special

formations, it’s all about each individual expressing their own abilities, swimming as fast as they can. There’s no reason to consider anything beyond that. But then Rin got so passionate when he speaks about it, and Makoto went on about needing Haruka there with him, and Nagisa clamored to join their team, and Aki told him he should swim with them. What’s so special about the relay? If there’s something there he doesn’t know about, then it’s worth trying, no matter the price. "Haru-chan, what were you doing? You’re late! Where’s Rin -chan and Mako-chan?" Nagisa greets him as soon as he exits the changing room.

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Nagisa throws him off — Haruka never knows how to deal with him. “Working on the graduation project. They probably can’t come today." "Aww , well whatever! Let’s practice, c’mon!" Nagisa is obviously referring to relay practice. Nagisa takes his place on the starting block, issues the starting call — and then dives in. Around 70 m, though, he can feel Nagisa’s arms lengthening, like they’re too long for his body almost. Nagisa is the same as ever, though, executing a nice calm stroke, but at 15 m til the end, he puts on a burst of speed, and again at 5 m to the wall, before he touches. Haruka dives in at the pass from Nagisa, body flying through the air. He’d heard from Rin about Nagisa’s swimming style, but seeing it in person, he s tarts to realize it’s more difficult to comprehend than he imagined. ————— They start training for the tournament in earnest after the graduation project is finished. Their days are divided in half — with the first half dedicated to individual races and the second to their relay practice, Haruka in his freestyle group and Makoto in the breast- and backstroke groups. Rin and Nagisa focus on the relay for both parts. Today, Aki and Yuuki are taking part in practice with Rin and Nagisa, Nagisa touches the wall, and Rin dives in as Nagisa moves to pull himself out to watch Rin swim.

High Speed!
Aki, admittedly, hadn’t thought Nagisa would be able to push himself this hard. He’s obviously exhausted, and his time is slipping, but he isn’t complaining a bit. He struggles at the wall to pull himself out, almost slipping back in, and she reaches out to tug him forward. “Thanks… huff …Zaki - chan… huff ." "Want to take a break?" "Sure." Nagisa nods at her, not bothering to disguise his huffing. He never tries to come off stronger than he is — if urged to do his best, he does, and if suggested to rest, he does. He’s always exactly what he seems, no artifice or subterfuge. They both settle down onto the bench. “You’ve gotten a lot faster, Nagisa-kun." "Yeah —but if I don’t get even faster, I’ll lose!" "Lose? To whom?" "…I dunno. That’s what Rin -chan-said." "….Hmm, I see." She glances over at Rin, who’s trying to get out of the pool. Who is he swimming against…? He always seems in such a hurry, like he’s seeking something, headed somewhere. "Who taught you how to dive, Zaki-chan?" Aki pauses, caught off guard. “Hmm…I don’t remember. Why?" "I can’t get it down. I’ve tried all kinds of things, but it still doesn’t seem right. And Rin - chan won’t teach me."

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"I see…I wonder why?" It’s strange—Rin’s tak en such a shine to Nagisa, she’d thought. "So how do you think I can get better?" It’s hard for Aki to respond—she’s never really paid that much attention to her form. “Maybe…try looking further than just beyond your fingertips when you dive?" "How far?" " Like…try jumping to the far wall." "Hmm…" His big eyes stare at her, and something akin to regret blossoms in her chest. Maybe she should have just said she didn’t know—it would’ve probably been better than giving such vague advice. “All right! I’ll try it ." He heads back to the starting block, and Aki feels almost relieved to be free of him. It’s not that she doesn’t like him —in fact, he’s almost like a little brother to her — but being stared at with such honest eyes makes her lose her confidence and want t o run away. Rin calls out to her after having just gotten out of the pool. “Yazaki -san, what did you say to Nagisa?" He just finished a run, but he’s not out of breath in the least. He’s not accusing her of anything, but she still feels a bit awkward. "Just about how to dive." Rin glances over at Nagisa. “I knew it… His start looked a little different just now." "About…where to look."

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"Hm?" "I told him to look at his goal when he dives." "Ah, I see." "…Why won’t you teach him, Matsuoka -kun?" Nagisa picks up his pace at the 25- m mark. “Nagisa isn’t they type to increase his speed by fitting some form —he just can’t get his body to cooperate, even if he understands with his mind. But if he can feel it with his mind, it comes out naturally in his swimming. Though he doesn’t seem to realize it himself." Aki adjusts her goggles. “Then, I suppose I just made matters worse…" "Nah, I think it was good. What you told him has to do with feeling as well — and I think he understood that." "Good, then…" She no ds and takes her place on the starting block — her eyes on her own goal as she dives in. She wonders if she’s ever been like Nagisa, straightforward in her approach to swimming, and grows irritated with her own inability to answer that question. To be contin ued…

High Speed!