There’s something nice about posting a chapter in the first day of the month.
And nothing better than to start March than with a chapter of The swimmer and the Manager
Hope you like it
The Swimmer and The Manager 21
Nelson stopped the moment opened the door of his room to do his morning jogging. Instead of the empty hallway, he saw himself facing a familiar face.
“Good morning, Nelson!” Cris said in a cheerful voice before the swimmer could say anything. Despite the dark circles under his eyes, he had a huge smile.
“Hey, Cris. Morning,” Nelson replied in a dragged voice, rubbing his face and suppressing a yawn.
“Did you have a bad night of sleep?” Cris asked, full of interest.
“Yeah. And by your looks, so did you?” Nelson locked the door and walked towards the elevator with his manager by his side. “What are you doing here so early?”
“I came to follow you so you wouldn’t do anything stupid like trying to overcompensate in your workout.” There wasn’t a single hint of shame on the Cris’ voice or expression.
“And why did you think I’d do that?” Nelson asked, trying to keep his face blank.
“Well, you were so quiet on the ride back yesterday, I was afraid you’d be freaking out ‘cause of that lap.” Cris was still smiling, never taking his eyes off Nelson.
“Do what you want.”
The swimmer knew his manager would say something like that. Of course, he’d be worried. He didn’t have to be so blunt thought, Nelson thought, waiting for the elevator. Despite his mixed feelings, the idea put a smile on his heart. But right now, I can’t afford to waste any time. Not after yesterday…
Despite his announcement, Cris said nothing as they walked out of the boy’s dormitory and to the park. All the manager did was yawn, rub his eyes and steal some glances at the swimmer from time to time.
With his head full, Nelson made all his stretches and warm-ups. It took longer than usual since he kept repeating a few warm-ups over and over. Only when he finally was ready, he realized that Cris, despite wearing workout clothes, was sitting on the bench.
“I told you, I’m here to watch you,” the manager said when he noticed the swimmer staring at him.
“I thought you said, and I quote, you came to follow me,” he said, smiling. Despite how he felt, Nelson couldn’t help but make a comment
Cris opened his mouth, but nothing came out. A second later, his eyes widened a little when he remembered.
“Yes, to follow you… with my eyes,” he said in a triumphant voice.
Nelson stared at him with his face empty. But a moment later, he chuckled and smiled, shaking his head.
“Always with a quick answer.” And I appreciate that, he thought, but kept that part to himself. “Then, please, follow me with your eyes. Hope you don’t find it boring just sitting here and not jogging. You’re welcome to join me anytime.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not a freak like you athletes. Besides, watching you sweat is fun in a different way for me,” Cris said in a sly voice, averting his eyes, his cheeks red.
Nelson chuckled again. “Better if I don’t ask.”
With one last warm-up, Nelson began his morning jogging.
This feels weird, he thought after the first lap. The course was a short circular track about 500 meters. And all the time, Nelson could feel Cris’ stare on him. He glanced at the bench where his manager was sitting.
I don’t know why, but it feels weird when he looks at me like that. It’s not like when a friend worried about you. Nor it feels like a gay guy checking me. It’s more like… a parent making sure the kid doesn’t screw up, he realized, picking up the pace a little.
Thanks for that Cris. I appreciate that. I really do… But c’mon, it’s not like I’m a kid. And besides, why would you stop me if I worked a little more than usual? I mean, you saw my time yesterday. I didn’t stretch, warm up or anything, but still… 12 times my worse lap… Even after the accident, I shouldn’t be that bad. If the higher-ups hear about this, I’m screwed…
Wait! Cris could’ve already told them. He might be my friend, but he’s also an employee of the club. Not to mention, an actual member of the Prado Maranhão family… I already had to win the municipal competition coming up, but now with the extra pressure…
Don’t be stupid, Nelson. He shook his head and cleaned the sweat off his eyes, picking up the pace a bit more.
The pressure was always there. An Olympic level athlete like me must win local competition… There’s no way anyone isn’t expecting that… But with a timing like that, can I win? If I had more time… But the transition to the pool might take two weeks, perhaps more… How much time will I have to prepare? Will that be enough?
When Nelson came to himself, Cris was in the middle of the tracks, calling him.
The swimmer blinked and slowed down a bit to change his path. He would have avoided the collision if Cris hadn’t moved to block him again. They fell together and got tangled.
“What are you doing?” Nelson complained as he tried to disentangle himself off Cris and stand up.
“Apparently, getting under you. And to be honest, I don’t dislike this position,” Cris said in his usual carefree tone, despite his pain.
Nelson didn’t feel his anger disappearing with the joke. “Stop kidding around. You know it’s dangerous to get in the tracks like this. Are you hurt?”
“Oh, please. I’ve had rougher sex than this,” he said, standing up and patting the dust from himself.
“Good for you,” Nelson said, not bothering to hide the anger in his voice as he massaged his knee. “But why did you do this?”
“’Cause you were overthinking things, as usual,” Cris said bluntly.
“I wasn’t,” Nelson replied.
“Oh, really? So you didn’t notice you started going overboard?” Cris lost all trace of fun and amusement and became serious.
Nelson kept quiet and averted his eyes. It was hard to keep looking at Cris when he knew his manager was right.
“Do you have any idea how many laps you’ve already done?”
Nelson shrugged. “I don’t know. Five, six?”
“Seventeen.” Cris put a hand on Nelson’s chin and forced the swimmer to look him in the eyes.
The swimmer became quiet for a moment, biting his lips. “I can still do more,” he said stubbornly, looking away again.
“Maybe, maybe not. But we’ll never find out.”
“Yeah? And why is that?” Nelson looked back at Cris with a defiant expression.
“‘Cause I won’t let you,” Cris said in his carefree tone.
Before the swimmer could react, the manager grabbed Nelson’s arm, turned around, pressed the hips against him and twisted the body.
Without understanding what was happening, Nelson looked at the sky and then saw himself on the ground with his face against the grass. Before he could try to stand up, Cris sat on his back, holding the arm so whenever the swimmer tried to move it hurts.
“Ouch! Stop that!” Despite the pain, Nelson tried to get rid of his manager’s grip, but he couldn’t put any strength into his arm. How can someone so small do this to me? “Let me go!”
“I will. But not until you calm down and listen to me,” Cris said, twisting the arm a little more. Nelson stopped moving, taking deep breaths to withstand the pain. “Good boy.”
“Now will you get off me?” Nelson tried, but he couldn’t keep the anger out of his voice.
“No.” Even on the floor, Nelson saw the glimpse of a smile on his manager’s face.
“That’s not what you promised!”
“I said I’ll get out when you calm down and listen to me. Now, be a good boy.” Cris diminished some of his force on the grip when Nelson relaxed a little. “Tell me what’s on your mind.”
“You’re enjoying this way too much!”
“Yeah… Can’t deny that… ” Cris chuckled. “Though I prefer the other way, I don’t dislike having a man pinned down between my legs.”
“Good for you!”
“If you want me to get off you, just calm down and tell me what’s on your mind,” Cris repeated calmly.
“You already know,” he mumbled, turning his face away from the manager.
“Yeah, you right. But I still wanna hear from you.”
Nelson let out a frustrated grunt and exhaled through his nose a few times before speaking.
“I… after yesterday, I… I thought everything would be fine if I work hard, but after seeing that time…” Before he realized it, he started to relax. “I need to make up for the time I lost whenever I can…”
“That’s exactly what I thought… almost word by word…” Cris sighed and then showed a gentle smile when Nelson looked back at him. “You can’t make up for the time like this. Overworking your body…If you don’t take care of yourself, you might end up ruining everything. In the worst case, for good.”
“I know that, but… I wanna do something! I can’t just wait around without doing nothing!” Nelson couldn’t stop his tears. He pressed his face against the grass to hide them from Cris.
“Nelson… I have no idea how much frustrating it must be for you.” The manager loosened all his strength on the arm. “But even so, I won’t let you destroy everything you’ve been fighting to recover,” Cris said in a firm voice.
He’s… he’s… right… With a feeling of shame filling him, Nelson closed his eyes.
“Thanks… for stopping me,” he said in a muffled voice.
“Every time you need.” Cris beamed.
They stayed like that for a moment.
“Okay, now you’ll get off me?”
“In a minute… Being on top… it’s rare for me,” Cris said, adjusting his position. “It’s kinda nice. Gives me a feeling of power. Maybe I should try being the on top one of these days…”
“Wait a minute…” When Cris adjusted his position, Nelson started feeling something else. “That pressing against my back… is that what am I thinking?”
“Eh… It’s any healthy boy’s natural reaction… I can’t control it,” Cris said, averting his face as if he was embarrassed.
Nelson tried to stand up once again, and the manager let him this time. When the swimmer stood, Cris fell on the ground and landed on his butt, laughing.
With a sigh, Nelson offered his hand to his manager. Cris took it and stood up with a smile.
“Where did you learn how to do that?”
“Do what?” Cris asked, patting the leaves and grass off his clothes.
“Dropping me like that… was it Judo?” Nelson cleaned the dirt off his clothes as best as he could.
“Yup. Sometimes, between two guys,” he crossed his fingers, pretending they were swords, “a little force is required… especially to bring him to bed,” he mumbled the last part loud enough for Nelson to hear.
“I… I… I don’t know how to react…”
Cris laughed. “I’m kidding. You know I liked it a little rough, but sometimes, a few guys get too rough. With Judo, I can overpower them.”
“That sounds… scary…”
“What’s scary about being cute and strong?” Cris tilted his head, smiling.
Nelson felt his cheeks blushing. He looked away, scratching his head. “You know you sound way too narcissist when you say stuff like that?”
“There’s nothing I can do. I can’t deny the truth.”
Nelson opened his mouth, but only a chuckled came out. “Yeah, I can’t either,” he mumbled.
Couldn’t take his eyes off Cris. Why is his smile so cute? Before Nelson realized what he was doing, his hand was on his manager’s cheek.
Cris looked at the hand and then at the owner, his face a wild shade of red.
They looked into each other’s eyes.
Nelson felt his heart thumping louder. What am I doing? He gulped, trying to find an excuse. Then he pulled a twig out of Cris’ hair. “This…”
“Ah… thanks,” Cris said, running his hand through his black hair. Even after he checked it all, his face was still red. “Long hair is a pain to take care, but I like mine a lot.”
“Yeah… it’s beautiful…”
Nelson and Cris kept quiet for a while, both averting their eyes.
“Hey, look at the time. It’s almost time for my first session and I need to eat something first,” the swimmer said suddenly.
“Yeah… let’s go,” Cris said in a low voice, still not meeting Nelson’s eyes.
The swimmer turned around, but he hadn’t taken three steps when he felt something on his back, two arms wrapping around his neck, and two legs around his waist.
“What are you doing?” he asked Cris when he stopped.
“I’m tired and sleepy. I woke early again just for you. So carry me to the cafeteria,” Cris said in a spoiled voice, burying his face against Nelson’s back.
Nelson turned his head at him in disbelief. “You’re heavy.”
“I’m not! I barely weight 55 kilos,” Cris said defensibly.
“That’s heavy for me. Especially to carry all the way to the cafeteria. Besides, did you just tell me to not overdo?”
“You’re an athlete. And the featherweight me is not considered overdoing.”
“I’m a swimmer, not a weightlifter.”
“What you are is a really rude swimmer, you know that?” Cris put more strength into his arms. Nelson tapped him trice and he stopped.
“Fine, fine, you win,” Nelson said, putting his arms under Cris’ legs and adjusting the manager on his back.
A few moments after he started walking, the swimmer felt a light breathing behind him. He fell asleep… he did say he wasn’t a morning person, and yet he woke up early this for me these past few days… Nelson felt his heart pounding faster.
“I didn’t tell my dad,” Cris said after a while. His voice so low Nelson was he was still half-sleeping.
“Tell him what?”
“About yesterday… about your lap…”
“You didn’t…?” Nelson said, not hiding his happiness.
“No…” Cris shifted his head and rested his cheek against Nelson’s back. “I’m here to help you… telling anyone about that wouldn’t help you…”
Nelson blushed. Glad he can’t see my face now… “Thanks…”
There was no reply. He fell asleep again, the swimmer thought with a smile.
Then, though it was faint, Nelson could feel Cris’ heart. Suddenly he realized how light his manager was.
He’s so light and small… Carrying him like this, he seems so frail… but if not for him, I’d be a mess… If not for him, I’d… I can carry him, but he’s the one pulling me forward…
Nelson just walked to the cafeteria, hearing Cris’ heart all the way.
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