“What’s wrong, Cris? Did something happen?” Nelson asked, getting nervous as he saw his manager flustered and out of air.
“Yes… and I need… to talk… to you,” Cris said as he tried to recover his breath.
As Nelson walked to his manager to check him, he heard a murmur. The other swimmers in the locker room were looking at the newcomer.
It took him more time than it should to realize the reason for the swimmers’ embarrassed faces.
They think Cris is a girl, the athlete thought, feeling an urge to laugh as he looked around. Well, I can‘t blame them… my boyfriend is cuter than most girls, and then he barges in the men’s locker room dressed in a skirt… any guy would be embarrassed… But sorry everyone, he’s mine.
“Now!” the manager managed shout when to recover his breath.
Under those worried eyes, Nelson let his boyfriend dragged him out of the locker room.
Despite Cris’ urgency, the swimmer couldn’t help but enjoy as his boyfriend pulled him by the hand.
Before he could stop himself, he squeezed that petite hand, feeling the warmth from those slender fingers.
Even though the manager was frantically looking for a place for them to talk alone, his cheeks went a shade of red as he squeezed the hand back.
“There,” he said, walking as fast as he could without running.
The manager led the swimmer to a huge tree behind the gym looking building. The delicate man wearing a skirt put his hands on the knees and tried to recover his breath.
Nelson put a hand on his boyfriend back, trying to ease the pain.
“Hey, Cris, what wrong?” he asked again, this time the worry filling on his voice.
Something huge must’ve happened for him to barge the locker room and drag me just before the competition…
Cris took a deep breath and raised his head. He opened his mouth, but the next second, he bit his lips and averted his face.
At once Nelson knew his boyfriend had something hard to tell him.
With a tiny smile, he placed a lock of Cris’ long black hair behind his ear.
The manager looked at him again. Then he blushed and smiled as he touched Nelson’s fingers.
The athlete leaned down and gave him a light kiss.
Cris threw his arms around Nelson’s neck and kissed his boyfriend back.
When they parted their lips, the manager seemed less flustered.
Even so, Cris hugged Nelson and squeezed as much as those slim arms allowed him.
The swimmer hugged him back.
“I don’t know what’s wrong, but you can tell me. You can tell me anything,” he said in a low voice, smiling as he caressed the top of his boyfriend’s head. “That’s the best part of our relationship.”
Cris gave a last squeeze and then let go of Nelson. When he raised his head, he had a tiny smile.
“You know how to make a boy blush,” he said in a low voice, closing his eyes. When he opened them again, they were full of determination.
Nelson couldn’t help but blush as he stared into them. Those eyes were part of the reason he had fallen in love with that boy.
“There’s something important you need to know about the competition.”
The seriousness and the topic took Nelson aback.
He held his breath and then let out a weak chuckle as response.
“There’s more to this competition? Please, don’t tell me that the fate of the world depends on my results now,” he joked to lighten the mood.
But it didn’t work.
His boyfriend didn’t even crack a smile as he stared at the swimmer.
“Is it that serious…?” Nelson asked in a low voice.
Cris gulped and looked down.
“Yes… Today… today might really be your last chance,” he said, and Nelson could tell it pained him to say so. Those small hands squeezed the swimmer’s jacket with the club emblem.
“What do you mean? Unless I suck too much, there’s another competition. The regionals, right…?”
“Maybe not. The club… the board is… Some of the board members are thinking about ending your contract today depending on your result.”
Nelson remained quiet for a while as he digested those words.
“I know today’s more important than it seems but isn’t this a bit too much?”
“Yes… it is… But the problem is that…” Cris bit his lips and looked at the ground. “The problem’s that there’s another swimmer… they even sent someone to observe him… some want to replace you with him…”
Cris grew quiet as he hugged the swimmer again, his words hanging in the air.
Nelson had trouble to process what he had heard.
They’re thinking of replacing me…?
After spending all that time and money on my recovery…?
Nelson felt his body going numb.
It makes no sense… Unless…
Unless they reevaluated my situation judging from my practices…
I knew it wasn’t good that my results were not getting back to what it used to…
But I did my best… it’s not like I’ve been slacking off or anything… I’ve been working hard every day… I never missed a practice…
He widened his eyes.
That’s why they think I can’t get back to what I used to be…
They can tell that I’m working hard… and because of that, they believe I can’t reproduce the same results…
Now Nelson felt his body going cold.
They have almost given up on me…
But before the cold could spread, something warm wrapped the arms around him.
Cris was burying his face on Nelson’s chest, hugging his boyfriend tightly.
Not only with his arms, but with his legs as well.
And those slender members were saving the swimmer from the cold.
Nelson chuckled and hugged his boyfriend back.
I’m so lucky to have him.
“Thanks for this,” he said in a low voice. “I needed.”
“Anytime,” Cris said in a heavy voice.
He’s about to cry… The idea pained Nelson. I don’t wanna see him crying… a smile fits him much better… a real and joyful smile and a sly one…
The swimmer took a deep breath.
“Thanks for telling me this. But it’s not like it changes anything.”
As Cris let go of his boyfriend, he looked up at him.
“Yeah… Even with that new information, what I have to do doesn’t change. I still have to give my best and win today.” Nelson tried to flash a confident smile. “The same as always.”
“Always trying to act tough… you’re a swimming idiot, you know that?” Cris smiled as he ran a hand over his face.
“Correction. Your swimming idiot.”
Nelson kissed Cris again, this time with more passion.
The manager wrapped his arms around the swimmer’s neck and pulled him closer.
The kiss became more intense.
But then Cris stopped and pushed his boyfriend away.
“Wait… we can’t do that,” he managed to say, his face red, his breathing a little erratic.
“You’re wrong… we can, we should.”
Nelson leaned in for another kiss, but Cris put a hand on the swimmer’s lip.
“You’re right. We should… but not now… isn’t that what we had promised?” Cris said with a shy smile, his cheeks a shade of red.
That expression made Nelson’s heart thump faster.
It’s too hard to stop the urge to kiss you when you make a cute face like that, Cris, the swimmer thought, pressing his lips to stop his smile.
“Yeah, we did… but then you come dressed like this…”
Cris looked down at his clothes. Then he took a step back and twirled, the frills of his skirt trailing after him.
“What do you think? Cute, right?” he asked with a bright smile.
The manager wore a red filled mini-skirt and a skimpy tank top with the colors of the Prado Maranhão club.
He looks like a cheerleader… my cheerleader… The idea made Nelson blush and smile.
“It’s cute… But anything you wear looks cute…”
“Thanks… You seemed a little disappointed,” Cris said, placing a hand on his chin. Then his face lit with a bright smile. “Ah, I know! I bet you’re disappointed because I’m not wearing that swimsuit you like so much!”
Nelson blushed. “That’s not it! I—”
“Don’t worry,” Cris said, interrupting him. “I am wearing it.”
He raised his tank top, revealing the blue Japanese school swimsuit underneath.
Nelson gulped, his face getting redder. Damn it… thanks to him, it feels like I have a fetish for that now…
Cris smiled. “That’s the reaction I expected. I knew you’d love this!”
Nelson sighed and smiled.
“At this point, it’s best if I just keep quiet…”
Those words made his manager’s smile grow.
Nelson pulled him by the arm and gave Cris a hug.
“No matter what happens today, we’re… even if we stop being swimmer and manager, we’re still…” Nelson struggled to find the words as he hugged the man he loved.
“Boyfriends,” Cris said in a low and nervous voice.
Even without seeing his face, Nelson could tell the petite man was blushing too much right now.
“Yes… boyfriend,” he repeated the word.
With a passionate kiss, Nelson returned to the locker room, half smiling, half worried.
The other swimmers watched as he entered and walked to the bench between the lockers where his bag was.
At once Nelson could tell everyone was interested in the cute ‘girl’ that was in the men’s locker room moments ago, but no one asked anything.
Sorry, guys. But she’s not a girl. He’s my boyfriend and the best manager I could ever ask for.
The swimmer pulled one of the towels from his bag, put it back on his locker and then headed to the individual showers.
Under the shower head, he took deep breaths. As he turned on the water, he ignored everything around him.
He could only hear the water.
He could only sense the cold drops touching him.
So the board is considering ending my contract sooner, he thought, letting the words sink.
The idea seemed hollowed to him.
Now that I’m about to return…
But I guess if they’re interested in another swimmer…
At once he knew whom the swimmer was.
Yuri… he’s the only one here who has the fire to become a professional athlete…
But Nelson shook his head.
I can’t think about the others, he said to himself.
The only thing I can do is give my best… that’s all.
The next moment, Nelson opened his eyes, ready to swim, ready to win.