“I’d never think,” Nelson said in wonder.
“For real?” Cris asked, smiling at the swimmer’s reaction to the news, never taking his eyes off him.
Nelson nodded, looking around. “Yeah. I knew about the water park, but I had no idea it belonged to your family too. How rich is your family?” he asked, lowering his voice.
“I’m not answering that.” Cris laughed. “I think it was my uncle who suggested making this park. Something about bringing a different kind of revenue to the family and expanding the business.”
The swimmer raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“Sort of. We made a few indoor wave pools to train the open water athletes. But since didn’t use every day, it was open to the public. People really liked it and one thing led to another and here we have it.”
Nelson faced the water park again. Even from the parking lot, they could see many waterslides, some so tall he had to raise his neck a little to see the top, and others so long it crossed the entire park. That’s a fun way to go to the other side of the park in one go, he thought, not bothering to hide his smile. It’s been ages since I came here. But then he stopped smiling.
“Isn’t the tickets kinda expensive?” I’ve been out of the pools for a long time. I can’t exactly go around spending this kind of money… But we came all the way here… and I do wanna have fun with him… He lowered his head, thinking about his financial situation.
“Hey.” Cris walked and stopped before Nelson. When the swimmer looked him in the eyes, he smiled. “I’m the one who invited you today. It’s my treat.”
Nelson opened his mouth to protest but then a tiny smile appeared on his lips. He won’t listen to anything I say anyway. “Fine. I’ll allow you to treat me,” he said, raising his chin to pretend to be someone important.
“That air of someone important doesn’t fit you at all,” Cris said, laughing and elbowing the swimmer playfully on the belly.
Nelson laughed as he stopped the elbow. “But I am important. I’m the future of Brazil’s swimming.”
“You mean former,” Cris reply with a nasty smile.
“Ouch. Right where it hurts.” Nelson placed both hands over his heart and pretended to be shot.
As they banter each other and walked to the ticket office, Nelson noticed something.
“It feels like we’re dating,” he mumbled what was in his mind. Cris turned to him with a puzzled expression. “I mean, you’re taking me to all these nice places and even paying for all.”
“I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Cris mumbled, blushing, smiling and twirling his long hair with a finger at the same time. That sight made Nelson’s heart thump louder. “But I’m not exactly paying for all this.”
“What?” Nelson asked.
But Cris didn’t answer. Instead, he pulled his wallet and showed his driver’s license to the employee at the ticket office. After the woman saw the name, she checked on the computer. A moment later, she nodded and then handed two tickets and three keys to Cris.
“See? Not exactly paying,” he said, showing the tickets to the swimmer.
“I’ll be honest. That was very cool. Like you’re some sort of VIP;” Nelson accepted his ticket with an expression of impressed. “What’s up with the key?”
“Another privilege that comes with the name,” Cris said, his smile telling he wouldn’t spoil the surprise.
Nelson had no reaction to that expression. A moment later, he chuckled and followed his manager.
As they passed through the gate, Nelson smiled turned into wonder. The view after that point was different from the parking lot. Besides the water slides, he could see the waterfalls, waved pools, the long pool that circled the park, the soap football, and many other attractions.
“It’s been ages since I’ve been here,” Nelson said, smiling like a kid. “It’s completely different from last time.”
“I could’ve sworn most athletes from our club came here once a month,” Cris said, enjoying the swimmer’s reaction.
“What are you talking about?”
“’Cause you can use this facility for free once a month. It’s in your contract,” Cris added when Nelson tilted his head.
“Is it?” Nelson tried, but he didn’t remember reading anything like that.
“Once again I’m surprised how dense you athletes can be when it doesn’t involve competitions.” Cris sighed and shook his head exaggeratedly. But when a few people passed by them laughing, the manager smiled at the swimmer and pulled him by the hand. “Let’s go change into the bathing suits.”
Instead of going to the man’s side of the big changing room near the entrance, Cris led Nelson to a smaller structure behind it. The swimmer stopped when he saw the authorized personnel only sign on the wall, but the manager barely batted an eye at it, unlocking the door with one of the keys.
“Hey, is this okay?” Nelson asked, glancing at the ignored sign. “Won’t this get us in trouble?”
“Sometimes you worry too much. Just so you know, there’re very few people more authorized than me here today,” Cris said with an expression similar to an adult teaching something obvious to a child.
“And sometimes you really like to show off” Nelson muttered, but despite his words, he smiled.
“Well, there’s got to be a time to use it, right? What better time than to cheer you up?”
At the sight of his manager’s genuine smile, Nelson blushed and looked away, glad Cris hadn’t noticed his reaction. After they got into the staff changing room and began changing clothes, Nelson realized something.
“Hey, why couldn’t we use the normal changing room? I don’t see any reason to use this one.”
“There’re two reasons. The main one was that it’d be bothersome to put this on in the men’s changing room,” Cris said casually.
Nelson had finished changing, but he stopped the moment he realized there was something in his manager’s voice. He turned around slowly, but even so, he couldn’t help blushing when he saw the now familiar blue Japanese school swimsuit.
“Why are you wearing that?”
The manager bent over laughing. “‘Cause I’m Cris and I like to watch people’s reaction when they see a cute guy wearing a girl’s swimsuit!”
After yesterday, he wears that? Now I can’t stop thinking about him… and his mouth… sucking my… Just the thought was enough to awake him. He shook his head, trying to dismiss the memory. Damn it! He knew I’d react like this! Suddenly Nelson knew, but had to ask just to confirm.
“Is the second reason we’re changing here ‘cause you wanted to see my reaction?”
“Yes!” Cris answered with a shameless grin. “Your reactions are so fun I can’t help myself teasing you.”
Blushing, with his heart beating faster and shorts tightening, Nelson averted his eyes. “Glad making fun of me entertains you,” he mumbled.
“Oh, come on. Don’t be like this,” Cris said, coming closer, still smiling. “I went through all the trouble of coming up with of a way to take your mind off everything. Don’t I deserve a tiny treat here and there?”
“Here and there? You make fun of me all the time,” Nelson complained, his face even redder. But he sighed and shook his head. “You know what? Forget it. Let’s go take my mind off… everything…”
With a huge and satisfied smile, Cris followed the swimmer out of the changing room. “What do you wanna do first?”
“How about the waved pool?” Nelson suggested, trying to keep his voice neutral.
“Rejected,” Cris said at once. “You just want to swim there and sneak some light training.”
“You figured that out so fast.” Nelson showed a yellow smile.
“I’d suggest the water slide, but since I want the floater for two, you might not want.”
“Why would I not want that?”
“‘Cause I normally have an ulterior motive for that ride. I like to seat on the back and hug a hot boy. But then you’d feel me poking you down there, so it might be hard. Literally,” Cris said with a serious expression, as if his words weren’t strange at all.
“Might be hard? It’s completely rejected!” Nelson screamed, getting many laughs from his manager. Red, the swimmer ignored the stares he and his manager attracted, and turned around. “Let’s to first to the stream pool!”
After going on almost every attraction the park had to offer, they were exhausted. Nelson suggested the waved pool once again. Cris only accepted after he made the swimmer promise he wouldn’t sneak in any practice.
“Ah, today was so fun,” Cris said as they relaxed on the pool. The human-made waves came and went, making the floater go up and down without leaving its place.
“Yeah, I have to agree,” Nelson said, using his hand to spin around on the floater languidly. “I can ‘t believe I never knew I can come here once a month for free. Whenever I don’t have a competition, I’m coming here for sure.”
“Next time, remember to invite me.”
“Of course,” Nelson said, completely relaxed. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, his mind drifting into sleep.
“Hey,” Cris’ voice came from somewhere far.
The swimmer tried to force himself to listen, but it was too much effort. “What…?” he managed to ask.
“When we went on the water slide, did you get a boner too? I mean, hugging me from behind and all…”
“I…!” When Nelson realized what his manager was asking, he opened his eyes and sat up on the floater. “Do you really like to make fun of me that much?”
“I’m not making fun of you. I felt a poke on my butt at the time, so I was just wondering,” he said, pretending his question was just out of curiosity. But behind that façade, Nelson knew his manager was suppressing his mischievous smile.
Without thinking, Nelson reached out for Cris’ floater and capsized it.
The manager sunk into the water, but when he resurfaced, he was smiling. Grabbing the floater with both hands, he turned to the swimmer.
“Why you did that? Are you that afraid of finding out if you got a boner while hugging a guy dressed in a girl’s swimsuit from behind?”
Nelson stared at him for a second. Then, instead of a reply, jumped in the water grabbed Cris’ floater and swum away with both.
“Wait, give it back. I don’t like this pool. It’s too deep,” he screamed, but Nelson ignored him.
Even while holding to both floaters, Cris didn’t catch up with him, laughing at Cris’ pleads. He only stopped when he heard the announcement sound.
“Dear customers, the park will be closing in half hour. Please, make sure you do not forget your possessions,” a female voice on the sound system said twice.
Nelson turned to Cris and pushed the floater back to the owner. The manager looked too relieved to have it back.
“Guess we should get out then.”
Cris was panting a little, but even so, he smiled while pointing to himself. “Guess again…”
Nelson smiled when he understood. “Aren’t you abusing your name too much?”
“You’re loving it and I know. Few people wouldn’t like being VIP for a day.”
As they spoke, the waves became weaker and weaker until it stopped completely. If not for the slope bottom, the waved pool was pretty much a normal pool.
“Isn’t this like they’re almost throwing us out?” Nelson said, observing as most people left the pool
“Yeah. But it must be done.” Cris was back on the floater, closing his eyes and enjoying the last bit of sun still on the horizon. “But I’m not in the mood to leave just yet…”
Nelson looked around. A family had left the water and now were the last people in the pool. “Hey, Cris… how long is this pool?”
“I don’t know. I think around 25 meters,” he answered, shrugging his shoulders. “I remember uncle saying something about wanting to train normal swimmers here too. But I think grandma shot down that idea.”
“Hm… interesting,” Nelson mumbled, not bothering to hide his smile. Just the right size.
“No,” Cris said right away, sitting up. “No. I won’t allow you.”
“Oh, come on. Just one lap, please,” he begged his manager. “Let me swim just once. I’m itching for a good swim. Do you know how many months I’ve been dying to get back in the water?”
“Didn’t we just spend the entire day in the water? There’s no reason for you to be itching for a good swim.”
“Please… Not doing this would be bad for my mental health.”
“Actually, is the opposite,” Cris said looking him in the eyes, all the usual happiness gone from his face. There was only the manager now. “The difference between the you from now and your former self is too vast. The reality of that will be too much.”
“But I’ll have to face that reality anyway. Why not now, when is just the two of us? This way no one else besides you get to see my shocked face.” Nelson swam to Cris’ side. “Please.”
Cris blushed and averted his gaze. Nelson moved around to look into his eyes. “Fine, fine. Damn it, I’m too weak against hot guys with cute eyes,” he mumbled the last part.
“Yes! Thanks, Cris. You’re the best manager ever.” Nelson beamed at his manager, who blushed a bit more.
With some regret on his face, Cris followed Nelson to the edge of the pool. The manager got out of the water and rummage through their things. After he got his phone, he turned to the swimmer, biting his lips. After a few seconds, he sighed.
“Are you ready?”
Nelson smiled at him before facing the water. He closed his eyes, taking deep breaths. When he opened them, he focused on the other side. “I’m ready.”
“Three, two, one… Go!” Cris screamed and pressed his phone, starting the chronometer.
At the same time, Nelson jumped back in the water. Doing his best to swim as fast as he could without forcing his muscles, he moved his arms and legs. I missed this. Just swimming is fun, but this is the best! He went to the other side and came back.
“How was it?” Nelson asked the moment he got his head out of the water. His breathing was irregular, but he still smiled when he looked at Cris.
The manager, however, didn’t look at him. He kept quiet and bit his lips, with his eyes fixed on his cellphone
At once the swimmer knew there was something wrong. He forced smile and let out a hollow laugh, scratching his head. “Was it that bad, huh?”
“Remember that you just got the okay from the doctors the other day. And you’re not in the same shape…” Cris held his phone closer to make sure Nelson didn’t see the screen. But that worried only made it worst. “And you still need to recover your muscles before you can swim for real.”
“It’s worse than I can imagine, huh?” The swimmer pretended to be cool, but the mystery was eating him up. “Oh, well. That’s expected. Just let me see.”
With a deep breath and closing his eyes, Cris turned the screen to him.
Despite being in the water, Nelson felt his body going cold. He stared at the number with his mind going blank. He breathed in and out slowly, trying to digest what it meant.
He wasn’t just slower. He was 12 times worse than his worst lap before the accident.