Fandom: Executive Committee
Pairing: Tachibana x Matsumoto
Notes: I went over the 75 limit by probably a good 15-20 minutes. (Maybe I'm lucky and there's some cliché in here that I could count…) So I do lose the challenge, but I hope what came out will be okay. Apologies for any editing mistakes not caught. ^^; Feedback is always appreciated, and thank you. ^_^
Without a second thought, he dove in. The water rushed past him as he moved forward, his hands together in front, his feet kicking free behind. By the time he had reached the middle line of the pool, the momentum from his dive had waned. He lifted his arms up and out to slice through the air, the surface of the water slapping at his skin as he brought them down over and over again. His feet pushing, his arms pulling, he bobbed up and down between two worlds. So fast, he could barely tell which one he breathed in.
With his goggles on, the wavy blue he dove into was even darker. His skin took on an alien tint. It was something he took quiet pleasure in. It made him feel that he was a part of this strange, cool, rushing world. And if he was a part of it, then coming here wasn't really escape, but a return, a return home.
He reached the other end, and flipped back, pushing off the side with his feet. Turning his head as he swam, he looked at the other empty lanes. Normally at this time, they would all be full with swimmers, but this week the Araiso team was competing at an away-meet. Their absence left the pool strangely quiet, something so inviting, that he couldn't pass up coming in after the student council meeting.
He reached the other end, and the memory of his afternoon caused his feet to push him off hard enough to cross a third of the pool. He felt his heart racing, but it wasn't because of his faster strokes.
"Why don't you tell us what you're really planning, Matsumoto?" Kubota's voice had been as cool as the water that surrounded him now, cooler even. He found little respite in his old partner. Looking at him from where he sat at the council president's desk, Matsumoto had tried to match the temperature in Kubota's tone.
"No matter what you may think, Makoto, there is no other plan outside of this." He kept his hands clasped in front of him on the desk, and felt his grip tightening as he tried to contain his annoyance. He stopped questioning how Makoto knew what he knew, but he wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of feeling right, not just yet. Everything had its proper moment, and this was not it. He kept his gaze level, his hands still, his voice even. "What I have told you is everything." Everything you all need to know right now, he added silently, looking over to the pouting figure next to Makoto. Tokitoh hid none of his distrust for him.
"I don't trust him, Kubo-chan." He elbowed Makoto in the side. "He's hiding something."
Matsumoto inwardly chastised himself. If even that moron could see that there was more going on, then he was losing his touch. He opened his mouth to answer the accusation, but a hand fell on his shoulder, its gentle pressure holding him back.
"What I think President Matsumoto means is that this is all we have for today. Our apologies if it is not satisfactory enough." Tachibana's voice was cool in a different way than his or Makoto's. It was light and soft, but had something behind it that made everything around it quiet. "Perhaps things will be clearer at our next meeting, but until then, if the Executive Committee could go ahead with what has been discussed today, we would be most appreciative." Matsumoto looked up to see Tachibana smile at the other two and then turn to look down at him. "Is that not correct, President?" He felt a soft squeeze from the hand on his shoulder, confirming, consoling.
"Yes." He nodded, turning back to Makoto and Tokitoh. "Start the investigation now, and things will soon be forced to explain themselves."
"Things or people, Matsumoto?" Kubota asked as he brought out his cigarettes from his pocket.
"You tell me, Makoto," he said, "next time we meet. And take that shit outside." He nodded towards the cigarettes.
"Fine, we're outta here. C'mon, Kubo-chan." Tokitoh yanked Makoto's arm and pulled him towards the door. Matsumoto made himself busy by collecting the papers on his desk as he listened to them walk out. He chanced a peek though, and caught a glimpse of Makoto's knowing smile as he shut the door behind them. It was a look he was all too familiar with, and he felt a slow shiver slide down his back, cooler than anything else from the meeting.
Damn you, Makoto, he cursed inside. Why do you always do this?
He felt everything that he tried to keep tight and controlled start to heat up and rebel inside. His hand went to his brow, wiping across, but it was dry- hot and dry. And that was how his whole body felt at that moment. It was like all the cool that he tried to convey had left as Makoto closed the door, that damn smile taking it all away. He clenched his fists, his fingers digging into his palms, and he felt his skin beneath his nails- hot and dry.
He swallowed, but nothing fell to cool his throat. He reached for the glass of water on his desk, but found it empty. He looked at it dumbly for a moment, thinking, when did I drink it all? He watched the glass as it was slowly pried from his hand.
"I'll pour you some more." Calm, soft, Tachibana was always there to soothe, but it didn't reach him, not this time.
He got up without a word and walked to the door. He felt a pang of guilt when his hand fell on the knob, and he bowed his head to the door since the Vice President was standing behind him. "I'll be back. I just have to just- I'll be back." He swallowed what dry resolve he could pull together and opened the door, leaving Tachibana behind.
He had reached a calm rhythm, only broken when he flipped himself over to turn back around. All the feelings that had built up from the afternoon seemed to have drained from him as he swam. As he pushed himself forward, he imagined them floating off until they were sucked right into the filter.
He wished he could do this after every meeting, but he had made the choice back in middle school to go for the student council and to do so, he had to give up the arduous demands of the swim team. Still, the pool- the past that was his life before the council, before the executive committee, before meeting Makoto- soothed him in a way like nothing else did. He wished he didn't need it still. It felt more like a crutch than anything, but he fell back into it anyways, like an old habit.
Get that shit out of here. He always condemned Makoto for what he couldn't give up, whether it was his cigarettes or his strange, unexplained attachment to that idiot. Matsumoto smiled bitterly as he bobbed up for a breath of air. He should be turning that condemnation towards himself. Isn't it really him he's mad at and not Makoto?
His arms slapped the water, and it stung his skin, but it just made him go faster, harder-
Why do I let you get to me? He pushed and pulled, moving forward, sliding through air, water, air, and water again. So fast, he didn't know which he breathed in.
Why do you care what he thinks, he asked himself. Why do you let him get to you still? He's not your partner anymore. And he never was your partner.
He pushed off the side. So hard, he thought he was flying.
He never was. It was never you. He never looked at you like he looks at that moron. And he never will. Aren't you over that yet?
He opened his mouth to answer, and the water that surrounded him flowed in. He bobbed up, coughing, gasping for breath. He could see the edge, tinted blue like everything else. It was just a few strokes away. He was almost there. He dived back down, and pushed forward. The water slapped back at him, each wave asking "Aren't you? Aren't you?"
With his head up, he could see it, past the waves. He could almost touch it. He gave a final kick, and stretched out his arm, his fingers reaching for the edge.
"I am." Pushing through the water, through the air, through the tinted blue, through the past, he reached. "I am OVER it."
What his hand took was not the hard concrete of the pool's edge, but the soft warmth of someone's hand, grasping his back.
He mouth dropped opened in surprise. He didn't even wipe the water dribbling down his chin, so taken aback by the person leaning over the edge, looking at him.
Tachibana gazed down with his usual gentle smile, and still holding his hand, he reached with his other to Matsumoto's head. He felt a slight tug on his hair, and the world returned to its normal colors, the blue tint gone with the goggles now in the Vice President's grip.
"You did very well." Tachibana said, squeezing his hand. "You never told me you were such a good swimmer."
"It's just something…I used to do." Matsumoto tried to shrug it off, but it was a difficult with Tachibana still holding on to him. Before he could say anything else, he felt himself being pulled out of the pool. Once he was standing, looking back at Tachibana who still wore his school uniform, he felt a strange sense of shame. Not so much because he was only in his Speedo, but because he'd left Tachibana earlier without any explanation. Like a child, he'd run off pouting. And now, dripping all over the concrete, he felt that if he was going to offer an apology to anyone that day, it should be to the person always there standing with him.
Like the way a partner should be...
He bowed his head and watched the water drop off his hair to the ground. "I'm sorry."
With his head bent down, he didn't notice the towel until it was wrapped around him, pulling him forward. "What is there to be sorry for?" Tachibana asked, clasping the ends of the towel so it closed around him.
Looking back at him, at his soft quiet smile, Matsumoto felt caught. Not just in the towel, but in the fact that he was far more transparent than he wished he was. Yet unlike with Makoto, he realized he didn't mind so much that Tachibana could figure him out this easily.
"I'm sorry," he said, bending his head further so it fell down on Tachibana's shoulder, "for getting you wet."
He felt a soft, dry hand on the back of his neck, and then an arm around him, pulling him closer to the chest he was leaning against.
"I don't mind a little water." So close, Tachibana's voice tickled his ear. "But apology accepted."
They stood there by the pool, Tachibana gently rubbing his back through the towel while he dripped on both their feet. After a minute, he felt his composure slowly slide back into place. Holding the towel to himself, he straightened up, and took a step back. "I should go get changed."
"Yes." Tachibana nodded. With the few paces between them now, Matsumoto could see the large wet spot on the Vice President's white shirt.
"You might want to too." He said, nodding to his shoulder. "Maybe wear your gym shirt home or something. You don't want to get a cold."
"Right." Tachibana looked down at himself. "That might be a good idea."
Matsumoto turned towards the locker room, but after a few steps, noticed Tachibana wasn't following. He looked back to see him staring off towards the pool.
"No." He shook his head, and turned, giving him that usual smile. "Just...next time, may I join you? When you were out there, it looked very," he paused, as if searching for the right word, "engaging."
Matsumoto looked out towards the pool. He couldn't image what he had looked like out there. It felt like it had been a crazed dream, something filled with anger and fear, and so fluid, it made no sense to him now that he was awake.
"No," he said, his gaze moving from the pool back to Tachibana. "Because I won't be doing it again."
"Why? I thought it was something that you used to do? Something that you liked"
"It was," he swallowed and felt what was left of the pool water slip down his throat. This is the only real relief, he realized. Right here in front of me. Slowly, he let the towel slip off until he was just holding it in his hands. Standing there, still wet, almost naked, he looked back at him and hoped that everything was crystal clear- to both of them. "But I'm over it. I don't need it anymore."
"...Well, then." Tachibana's smile widened as he walked over, wrapping an arm around his naked shoulders. "We should get changed."
The cool air of the locker room hit them like a wave, and Matsumoto shivered at first. The arm around him tightened a little, and he leaned into it.
He chastised himself inside. Aren't you making this another crutch for you to lean on?
No, he answered silently, and he took Tachibana's hand and squeezed. Not a crutch. A partner.