“Look how happy he is now… with that goofy grin… It doesn’t even look like the same guy from before,” Mari said as they watched Nelson stand on the highest podium. Despite her words, she was smiling too.
“Shut up… it’s a big moment for him,” Cris said, also smiling. Then he felt his heart swelling with emotion again. How long it’s been since he was in that place? It where he belongs…
“Look at your goofy grin too.” Mari poked her cousin on the cheek. “You’re not gonna cry again, are you?”
“Shut up,” the manager mumbled, cleaning his eyes, though it made no difference. He had cried a lot already. And I’ll probably cry again.
Mari laughed but said nothing else as she pulled him for a hug.
Then, as Pernambuco’s state anthem played, Nelson bent his back a little and the gold medal he had earn was placed around his neck.
The crowd burst with cheers and applause.
The manager did the same. And then he couldn’t hold his emotions and cried out of happiness again.
He half expected his cousin to make fun of him, but when he glanced at her, her eyes were watery too.
She realized Cris was looking at her. When he grinned, Mari blushed and turned her head away.
As his cousin got him in a headlock, a man appeared by their side. He was one of the few around wearing a suit. Even so, he was smiling and applauding like the others.
“Hey, Marco. How was that? Nelson was awesome. Much better than expected, right?” Mari asked, nudging her ex-boyfriend with the elbow in a friendly manner.
The man showed no emotion as he cleaned his glasses with a handkerchief.
The wait became unbearable.
Cris bit his lips and leaned closer, almost shaking the man by the clothes. Just say it!
“He was better than most of the board expected,” Marco finally said it. “I doubt your father will let him go after this. At least until the regional tournament, I believe Nelson is safe.”
Cris breathed in relief, then he beamed as he turned to his boyfriend, still on the podium, waving to the crowd.
Then Nelson smiled as raised the medals.
A few flashes ran around him.
But when he turned to Cris, he blushed, his smile growing even more.
The manager’s cheek became red as he felt his heart thumping louder.
“By the way, the other swimmer we were watching was also better than the expected,” Marco went on, not noticing Cris was barely listening.
The manager glanced at the petite swimmer next to his boyfriend on the podium.
“Do you think they might still push him in Nelson’s place?” Cris asked, his anxiety returning at an amazing speed.
Marco looked at him in silence for a while.
“If I’m being honest, I don’t think so. Not in his place, at least. But I believe your father might want to hire him…” Marco trailed off.
“Which is basically putting them to compete against each other and then keep the best one,” Mari completed the thought.
“Possibly… But if Nelson improves even more than today, I think he’ll be okay.”
Once again Cris sighed in relief. Then he looked in the man’s eyes.
“Is the board by any chance trying to create some rivalry between them?”
“A little rivalry doesn’t hurt.”
“Always scheming you,” Mari said, punching her ex in the arm.
As they talked about things he didn’t care, Cris turned back to Nelson.
All the swimmers had left the podium. Apart from Nelson, who was surrounded by reporters, the others were returning to the locker room.
Cris smiled. Now that kind of thing it’s gonna get normal for him again, he thought, heading to the locker room to surprise his boyfriend.
But then he stopped. No… I think he should have this moment… I bet he needs time to take everything in…
And besides, I doubt the other swimmers are gonna be comfortable with a cute boy like me with them. Especially in a skirt, he thought, his smile turning sly.
“Hey, Cris,” Mari called him. “I’m gonna give Marco a ride back to the club…”
The manager understood and smiled.
As his cousin and her ex left, the crowd began to grow thin.
Soon there were only him and the family members of the swimmer, some who had already got back from the locker room.
Cris hummed as he walked around the half fence separating the pool from the locker room.
The other swimmers left the locker room talking to each other. Some blushed and smiled when the saw the manager standing next to the door.
Then, the last one to leave was Nelson.
When he saw Cris, he beamed and raced to hug his boyfriend tightly, not containing his tears.
The manager hugged his swimmer back, and couldn’t hold the happy tears as well.
“You were awesome,” he said when they let each other go after a long while. Then Cris blushed a little. “What you’d expected of my boyfriend who also happens to by my swimmer.”
Nelson blushed and smiled too. “Thanks.”
As they walked to Nelson’s car, they talked about the competition. The swimmer was still too excited to think about anything else. So much that he dropped the keys.
Cris held the hand after Nelson picked it up.
The swimmer looked between the keys and his boyfriend and then smiled as he handed the keys.
But when Cris closed his hand, he didn’t let it go.
Nelson pulled the manager closer and kissed him.
The petite man was taken by surprise. But it only lasted a second.
The next second, Cris wrapped his free hand behind Nelson’s neck and pulled the man he loved closer.
Despite the shower after the competition, the swimmer’s body was still warm from the exercise.
Oh, god! He’s so hot! I have no idea how I managed to restrain myself next to him all this time!
As the kiss became more intense, they heard a honk.
“Get a room, you two,” someone shouted.
Cris stopped the kiss and saw his cousin waving as she drove away.
It was only for a second, but he also saw Marco smiling next to her.
Nelson looked at him and flashed a tiny smile.
Cris felt his arousal growing under that expression but had to restrain himself.
“Not here… not now,” he said in a low voice, trying to focus his blood on somewhere else.
“Then let’s get back now,” Nelson said in a voice full of excitement.
With a last kiss, he ran to the passenger’s seat.
Cris got in the driver’s seat and drove as fast as he could without endangering their lives. The moment they got back to the club, they headed to the boy’s dormitory, holding hands the entire time.
Despite his urge to make love with his boyfriend after so long, just holding hands was enough to put a smile Cris’ face.
Guess I’m really like a teenage boy in love for the first time, the manager thought, though he didn’t dislike the feeling.
But when they entered through the double doors of the dormitory, they couldn’t fulfill their promise to be together.
There was a party in the common area.
“Surprise!” everyone screamed together as they entered.
Both Nelson and Cris were too shocked to react.
“I knew you’d have that look!” Marcelo shouted as he snapped a photo. Everyone laughed.
“What’s this?” Nelson managed to ask when his initial surprise passed.
“What do you think, you idiot? Everyone here wanted to celebrate your official return,” Marcelo said, and everyone agreed in unison, raising their drinks.
“Are you sure this isn’t just an excuse to drink in the afternoon?” Nelson asked, accepting the beer his friend offered. Cris accepted his as well.
“That too, my friend. That too.” Marcelo nodded, finishing his drink.
As the people grabbed and put Nelson in the center of the room, he turned back and looked apologetic at Cris.
The manager flashed a sad smiled but then drank his beer, making everyone cheer.
I wished it was just the two of us… but I forgot I’m not the only one who’s been cheering for him, he thought. Despite his feelings, he knew there was no need to rush. We are together anyway. We’ll make it up later… a lot up…
“Sorry for spoiling your fun, Cris,” Marcelo said, offering another beer after the manager finished the first.
“What do you mean?”
The swimmer laughed.
“Do you really think I don’t know what you two had planned to celebrate?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
Cris blushed and smiled too.
“Did he tell you?”
“Like he’d ever talk about that. Our boy there is too shy.”
“That he is.”
“But don’t worry. We’ll give him back to you in one piece,” Marcelo said, smiling and gesturing his beer bottle.
“I doubt that,” he said, clinking the beers before joining the party.