“You really like to tempt me, don’t you?” Nelson said, trying to take the attention away from him, waiting for his heart to go back to normal.
“I do, but you’re the one who gets tempted by another boy,” Cris replied with the familiar sly smile.
Nelson closed his eyes, took a deep breath and got out of the pool. “Thanks for the temptation, but I think it’s best if I train. I mean, it’s been so long…”
Cris sighed loudly and then showed his gentle smile. “I knew you’d say something like that since you’re a masochist an all.”
“I’m not one. I’m as far as a masochist as a person can be,” Nelson said, pretending to be upset. Then he stopped pretending. “But if I were one, and again, I’m not, wouldn’t it mean that you’re a super sadist?”
Cris put a hand on his chin and stopped to consider. A second later, his smile widened and his cheeks became a shade of red. “All I’m hearing is that we’re perfect for each other.”
Nelson blushed and pretended to cough. “So what am I gonna do today?” he asked in a strangely rough voice, trying to change the subject as fast as he could.
Still red, the manager took his cellphone from the jacket. After touching the screen a few times, he nodded and hummed to himself.
“Wha… all this for the first day? What’s the coach thinking,” he mumbled, more to himself than to Nelson. He shook his head and turned the phone to the swimmer. “This is the schedule the coach set up for today. And apparently, it’s just a light training, though I can’t see anything ‘light’ in all this…”
The swimmer widened his eyes. He blinked a couple times and read again, just to make sure he hadn’t misread.
‘Is this right? It’s pretty much what I was training before the accident. I want to get back as soon as possible but there’s no way I can do that on the first day back!”
Cris turned the screen back to him and seemed surprised. “Oh, yeah… you’re right, this is the old one. What am I thinking,” he said, shaking his head. Nelson still saw his smile behind the lips, no matter how much he tried to suppress it. “I must’ve downloaded it before and it got mixed up somehow. So sorry.”
Nelson stared at him with a blank face. “You did it on purpose just to see me get nervous.”
“I’d never to that,” Cris answered in a fake innocent voice, bringing the phone closer to his face to hide his expression
“You know acting isn’t on your set of skills.”
Cris laughed. “That’s your opinion,” he said after he stopped laughing. Then he showed the screen again. “Here’s the real training.”
Nelson stared at his manager for a second before looking at the phone. “A little hard for someone who’s literally just getting back today. But I liked it. The coach really knows me.”
The swimmer was already warming up when Cris blocked his path with a leg.
“Wait a second. Before you get your hopes up, I have to say you’re not supposed to give your all. Coach’s orders.”
“Then why make me do all this?”
“He wants to check one if you have any specialty.”
“Huh?” The confusion was plain on Nelson’s face.
“The coach said that since you don’t have much time left until the end of your contract, he wants you to focus on one style only.”
“Ah…” Nelson felt his enthusiasm dropping. “Now I get it…”
Before the accident, Nelson trained every style without focusing in anyone in particular. Thanks to his efforts, every style was around the same level. But his coach didn’t like that.
A jack of all trade, master of none, he remembered the coach’s words. I was good enough to get in the Olympics in most modality, but perhaps not enough to win a gold medal in any…
“Oh, does that knowledge make you a little down?” Cris asked, more curious than sympathetic.
Nelson stared at that cute face and sighed. “If it did, shouldn’t you be a little more sensitive to your swimmer?”
“Nah, not my style,” he said, grinning as he waved his hand.
Nelson couldn’t help but smile. “I know… And I like that a lot about you,” he said, without thinking.
Cris blushed and kept quiet. When Nelson realized what he had said, he walked to the staring block, his face a wild shade of red.
The swimmer stood on the cement block, taking deep breaths, focusing on the water to ignore the gaze coming from his manager.
“Let’s do this!” he shouted louder than he had.
“Okay… Go!” Cris screamed, pressing the screen of the phone the moment the swimmer jumped into the water.
Nelson felt the familiar impact of his whole weight against the water. He smiled for a second before moving his legs and arms to impulse himself to the other side of the pool.
At the moment, he couldn’t think of anything else. His happiness for finally getting back. His anxiety for the possibility of not reaching his past form. His fears of the club not renewing his contract. The strange way Cris made him feel from time to time. All the pain and bad thoughts during his rehabilitation. Everything.
Right now, there was only him and the water.
When he was about to reach the other side, Nelson did a flip turn. I’m not supposed to give my all, right? He pulled back his strength a little when he pushed the wall with his feet. The moment he impulse was disappearing, he swung his arms, dislocating the water, getting faster and faster. Then he reached the other side, touched the wall when he stopped.
To his surprise, Cris was there, waiting for him with a smile.
“Do you wanna see your time?” The manager asked when the swimmer rose his head above the water to breath.
Nelson looked between Cris and the phone. For a second, the memory of the day when they went to the water park last week, when he saw his time back and felt a punch in his gut. He shook his head to both answer and dismiss the vision in his mind.
“Later,” he said, getting out of the water and standing on the starting block again.
“Good,” Cris said with a gentle smile. “Get ready… Go!”
Nelson pushed his legs the moment he heard the scream. This time, he went to the other side and back for nine more times. Despite breathing all the way, he was out of air.
“How… was… it…?” he managed to ask his manager.
The moment he saw Cris’s face, biting his lips and all worried, the swimmer knew he wouldn’t like the answer.
“Wait,” Nelson said quickly, raising his hand before the manager could answer. “If I hear my time, will it affect my training?”
“Yes,” Cris said in a low voice, nodding.
“Then leave it for later. Let’s continue this,” Nelson said in a firm voice.
Cris worries seemed to vanish at once. “Don’t be so firm like this. It’s so manly I might fall in love with you,” he said, averting his eyes as if embarrassed. Then he shook his head. “It’s not the time for this. Next is the backstroke.”
“Got it,” Nelson said, getting out of the pool to stand on the starting block for the third time.
Once again Cris screamed and timed each time Nelson went to the other side of the pool and back. After he was done with the backstrokes, it was the butterfly. Then the breaststroke.
When Nelson on the last lap of all the schedule the coach had set, he was exhausted. But since he wasn’t past his limit, he forced himself to finish. Even if the time sucks, I’ll finish this! He screamed to himself, drawing forces from where he didn’t know.
The moment he touched the wall, he opened his eyes to see a pair of legs in front of him. He raised his head above the surface to breath and found himself looking right at Cris’ crotch. Nelson flushed and looked up right away, so fast it hurt his neck a little.
“What are…” He began but trailed off after he saw his manager’s serious expression. “Is it that bad?”
Cris stared at the screen in silence for a long time, biting his lips. Then he sighed and showed the phone to Nelson. “See it for yourself.”
The manager had timed each lap, and the app had given the best time, the worst, the average and a few other information.
“It is that bad…” Nelson showed the yellow smile. He took a deep breath and exhaled through his mouth slowly. “That’s the reality. All I can do is work harder.
“Ah, damn it… I can’t fight the math… guess that’s why I was always bad at it,” the swimmer said with a tiny smile.
Cris chuckled at the joke. “That’s a surprise… You’re not freaking out about it… Guess I was worrying here for nothing.”
“You almost sound disappointed that I’m not freaking out,” Nelson joked again. “For your information, I don’t want you twisting my arm and sitting on my back again. It really hurt.”
“Too bad… I was hoping to go beyond that someday soon,” Cris said, blushing again. “There’s still the matter of my reward.”
“I’m afraid to ask…” Nelson said, averting his eyes and then looking at the man dressed in a bikini again.
“Better not. You’d be shocked.” The manager laughed. “To be honest, I thought you’d get all nervous and dejected again. But, to your luck, there was no need to do what I had planned.”
“I’m slightly curious, but my fear of the answer is bigger…” Nelson trailed off, making sure he kept his head raised.
His neck was starting to strain, but he still forced it. All that so he wouldn’t look forward, where the bulge between Cris’ was. Why does it feel like it’s calling me?
“Do you know why I’m sitting exactly here like this?” Cris asked, his voice suddenly playful.
“Again, I’m afraid to ask…” Nelson wanted to avert his eyes, but there was nowhere safe he could look.
Cris showed his sly smile. “It’s because, in the case you freaked out and started to swim again to compensate, I’d lock your head between my legs.”
Nelson did his best to ignore the image forming in his head. “Well… thank God I didn’t freak out then… right…?”
“Oh, well,” Cris said, putting the phone down. “I still wanna do it.”
The next second, the manager wrapped his legs around Nelson’s neck, pulling him closer before he could even think about reacting.
Nelson touched Cris’ crotch for a second with his nose. When he breathed, he smelled his manager’s scent, and widened his eyes. He smells nice, he thought, his face became a wild shade of red.
When he finally caught up to what was happening, Nelson placed his hands on the edge of the pool and pushed himself away from the wall. Despite the warm thighs pressed against his ears, the swimmer heard Cris laughing as he was pulled into the water.
When the swimmer broke himself free, he raised his head above the surface again. “Why you did that for?”
“Just to break that heavy mood a bit,” the manager said, still laughing.
Under that laugh, the swimmer couldn’t stay mad and smiled against his will. “Why you little…” Nelson swam after Cris, who tried to get away.
But since he was exhausted, the swimmer couldn’t catch his manager. When Nelson stopped chasing Cris, he began floating around, letting the little waves he created led him. “Hey, Cris?”
The manager swam closer and floated next to Nelson, their heads almost touching. “What?”
“Do you think I can get back to my previous form?” Nelson asked in a low voice, but in the silence indoor pool, his words seemed loud.
Cris stayed kept his silence for a while. “I think it’s best if you stop thinking about recovering your past form. You should strive further than that. Aim for the future, not the past.”
Nelson smiled under with those words. What I needed to hear… I’m too lucky to have him, he thought, still floating around. “Thanks.”
Cris stopped floating and pulled Nelson underwater. With a huge grin, the manager moved his mouth in a ‘You’re welcome’.
Even under the slightly cold water, Nelson felt a warmth spreading inside him and smiled too. I really am too lucky…