title: postscript
fandom: Free!
characters/pairings: Rei, Rin, Nagisa
rating: G
warnings: spoilers for episode 12
summary: Rei comes home after Regionals
notes: written as a postscript, or reaction, to episode 12. i felt so badly for Rei, who really sacrificed so much for everyone else's sake. he's just amazing.

It was suddenly quiet, cool, dark, and still. Rei dropped his bag next to the bed, and sat down, perching on the very edge. Adrenaline, and probably some seratonin, had been pushing him, but now he was alone. Nagisa-kun had stayed with him until he was practically on his own street, and then he'd had to greet his parents, but. All he'd told them was, simply...

We didn't make it to Nationals.

That was accurate and sufficient, but it still lacked.

Feeling incorrigibly exanamite, Rei turned his body and laid down, staring at his ceiling. He should... change out of his track suit. And the ugly yellow t-shirt. And... put away his things from the trip. He had to put his undies in to be washed. And. He stared at the ceiling.

He hadn't gotten to swim at all...

It played before his eyes, that perfect and beautiful race, and how happy everyone had been afterward... the way Rin-san had clung to Haruka-senpai, and Nagisa-kun had clung to Rin-san.

Nagisa-kun had clung to Rin-san.

He hadn't gotten to swim at all. And they weren't going to go to Nationals. All of that was true. It was accurate and sufficient... but it lacked a certain aspect of the whole truth.

Rei's phone began to ring. That startled him, and he looked at the display... but... he wasn't able to talk to Nagisa-kun at just that moment. Or... no, that wasn't right. He could talk. He wasn't crying. He had no reason to cry. His voice would be normal. And Nagisa-kun did more than 64.8% of the talking in any of their conversations.

He did not want to talk to Nagisa-kun at that moment.

A number of thoughts flew through his brain. He laid back down and shut his eyes tightly. Thinking about Nagisa-kun and quitting the track team and swimming with everyone and the training camp and swimming the relay for the first time in the tournament and getting ready for Regionals and thinking about Nationals and Nagisa-kun clinging to Rin-san and Haruka-senpai when he talked about swimming with Rin-san and.

Rei didn't know how not to think. It was too much, but he didn't know how to stop. He needed to... maybe do some homework? If he tried reading something? What would he read? Something... engaging, but...?

He didn't want to sit up. He didn't want to walk across the room. He didn't want to open his eyes, even. He wanted to stop his thoughts from spinning on an endless loop of Haruka-senpai looking defeated after hearing about Rin-san to seeing his team - his team - swimming to seeing Rin-san clinging to Haruka-senpai to seeing Nagisa-kun clinging to Rin-san and then over and over and over again.

The phone kept ringing, like it was keeping pace with his thoughts. Four rings, then a pause. Four rings, pause. Four rings, longer pause. Four rings, short pause. Four rings, pause. A longer pause. Four more rings.

Rei was becoming... agitated.

The phone started to ring again, and he picked it up without looking. "What is it?"

"Ah... sorry, is this a bad time?"

That... that wasn't Nagisa-kun's voice. That... that was Rin-san's voice!

Rei sat up straight, blushing furiously. "Ah! I'm so sorry, Rin-san, I thought... I thought it was someone else, sorry!"

"Ah, no, it's not. I just. I wanted to tell you... Well, I think I said something before, but I wanted to thank you. For... For giving me your spot in the relay."

Rin-san actually sounded like he was embarrassed, which was actually... rather cute. Rei smiled, despite himself. "I didn't give it to you. Unless you plan on transferring, it was just a loaner."

"Whatever, I'm just saying thanks!"

"It's all right," Rei assured him, and saying it out loud... made it so. "It was the only thing to do."

"No, it wasn't. It wasn't even the right thing to do," Rin-san chuckled darkly.

"Well, I was happy to do it."

"...They're lucky to have you on the team," Rin-san said quietly. Seriously.

Rei had never heard that tone of voice from Rin-san before, so he didn't know how to respond.

"You sacrificed something... and it had to be so painful. But you did it for the team. You damn well better make sure they realize how lucky they are to have you," Rin-san sighed.

Rei's eyes widened, and he felt like his whole body was getting lighter. After a few moments, he knew he was grinning like an idiot, so he was glad they were on the phone and not face to face. "Yes, Rin-san!"

"Well, shit, don't act like I'm doing you some kind of favor or something. ...But you know, you still have a long way to go if you think that your lame-ass butterfly will be up to snuff to swim with those guys! First of all, you're concentrating too much on the individual stages and forms. You need to be a lot more fluid! Your splashes are way too big, that's obvious. Oh, and your breathing is way out of whack! You've got to practice taking large, deep breaths, and not every stroke! There's a lot of details to work on, it's kind of daunting. I mean, I'm actually going to Nationals, so I won't have any time for a while, but once that's over..." Rin-san grumbled.

Rei snickered. "Are you saying you're going to coach me, Rin-san?"

"C-coach you?! Who the hell would! I'm not saying that at all! I'm saying you're going to have to work your ass off all winter to not be an embarrassment to your team!"

Rei tucked his leg under him, beaming. "I look forward to the instruction, Coach Rin-san!"

"Shut up, I said I wasn't going to coach you! Dumb ass!" Rin-san sputtered.

"Thank you... Rin-san. And... I'm glad I got to see you four swim together. I know I can't replace you..."

"Of course not, that's what I've been saying!"

"But they're my precious team as well," Rei finished, ignoring Rin-san.

Rin-san chuckled. "Well, next year, let's see how your precious team fares against mine!"

"Looking forward to it!" Rei proudly declared.

After he hung up, he was still grinning. He scrolled through his phone's menu, and brought up Nagisa-kun's number, and he dialed.

Nagisa-kun answered on the first ring, already complaining about Rei ignoring him.

"Sorry," Rei laughed. "I was... indisposed for a bit. But I'm back now."








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