He knew why they called it 'swimming like a fish' when he watched her.
Ever since he had found out their identities, Motoki had tried to make himself a bigger presence in their lives. Well, after the initial shock anyway. It had been difficult with the years of fighting that followed his discovery, but now he was to get truly involved, to really be their friends and treat them as normally as he possibly.
But every meeting had some tension lying underneath it. He couldn't help but think, "What if this is the last time I see them?" He had to stop himself from crushing them with hugs each time they parted, and he always felt such relief when he saw them alive and well the next day.
That day, he was sandwiched between Minako and Usagi, an unfortunate position given the fact that they were cheering Ami on at her meet at the absolute top of their voices. He didn't think his ears would ever recover.
But he didn't begrudge them their enthusiasm. Ami was well deserving of it. She was currently ahead by almost a whole swimmer's length, pushing forward with a kind of haunting ease. It was like she was slipping through the water, so in tune with it that it had no affect on her. He wondered if Rei could walk through fire without getting bored or if a lightning strike would have no affect on Makoto. He wanted to ask them, but it wasnít the time. Too many people, too happy an occasion, too somber a subject. Better it remain unasked.
She pushed into the turn, spinning in the water as if by magic. He caught sight of her throwing her head up for air, filling her lungs with the intensity of a drowning man but none of the panic. Every move she made was graceful. Every curve and arch of her body elegant. Every inch of her a study in classicism.
She sped through the water, the liquid slipping off her curves like sand in an hourglass. Like time. Like life.
Like his life.
Motoki sat there, stunned by his own reverie into thinking of how his own life was slipping away, moving past him while he raced through the water, pushing and pushing but never really getting anyway. He had gone too far. He was out in open water. He hadnít bothered to look around and see what he was doing. Now he was in the middle of nowhere with a high maintenance girlfriend who hadnít wanted to come because of the smell of chlorine, a job he only kept through nepotism that didnít even pay well, and no solid goals or aspirations that were actually attainable.
And then he looked at Ami, slipping through the water, racing toward the finish. An attainable goal. The end of the race. A degree. A medical practice. A nigh perfect life.
She slipped through. He slipped away.
He leapt to his feet with Minako and Usagi, clapping and cheering wildly as if nothing was wrong. The buzzer was sounding as Ami pulled off her cap and goggles, waving excitedly towards her group of friends.
She might have made eye contact for a moment, but he couldnít be sure. The moment had slipped by him before he knew it was even there.
Like so many times before.