2020-03-19 - Rivals Reconnected

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Title: Rivals Reconnected

Two former swimming rivals meet, and find out that they have more in common than just swimming


Kozue Kaoru Ai Yamamoto


<The location>

OOC - IC Date:

<03-19-2020 - 08/15/2015>

The Fussa Shiei Swimming Pool is distant from Inner City Tokyo, downright rural in how far out it is. In the distant West you can see Mount Mito looming, with trees as far as the eye can see.

Various schools have come here for a swimming training camp in the summer so as not to have to sweat pool maintenance while the breaks are out. The pools are outdoors, the size is Olympic. They're well maintained and clean.

The Ohtori Swim Team has set themselves apart from the rest as the team Captain fweets on her whistle to mark practice heats, brandishing a pool noodle for comical slapstick that doesn't actually hurt to those who fail to meet expectations.

And then...

An invasion occurs.

It starts soundlessly, as a familiar girl walks in, in a one piece bathing suit of dark black with blue trim that seems to be styled with kimono cloth patterns.

Striking a pose with a cold smirk on the edge of the pool, it begins with a snapping of cameras and flashes by a girl in the Infinity Uniform, with several other girls in Infinity Uniforms following as they set down their bags and take out their phones.

The girl tries to ask shyly, as if inexperienced to her craft. "Could you-" Kozue changes her pose without a word. "That's it-!"

The Captain then notices her, and...

"Kaoru-kun." She grits it out as if it were a dirty word. "I don't know why you're /here/ but - out!"

"Modelling of course. These girls thought the pictures would look better around swimmers my own age." Kozue responds without looking in her direction. One of the Infinity Fashion Club girls clears her throat as she announces shyly, "We're social media influencers..."

"I don't care what you are - you're interfering with our training camp!"

Kozue just shifts her pose, continuing to pretend to ignore her, "According to the lifeguard - it was fine if I stand... right... here."

The Captain shouts at her again. "You realize with the stunt you pulled before you left that we had to practice at a rinky dink little Community Pool for /two months/?"

Kozue finally looks over her shoulder, her eyes raking the pool as if unimpressed until her eyes land on... Ai, "As if I care. Besides - looks like you're not doing too badly for yourself." She gestures with violet polished fingertips in Ai's direction. "If you acquired her - she's a passable replacement."

"You arrogant little-"

<Pose Tracker> Ai Yamamoto [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Summer break doesn't mean that Ai gets a break from everything, so she's found herself at another training camp. Dressed in a black competition swimsuit, the tall blonde is currently tucking her hair under her swimcap as she makes her way towards the pool.

She makes her way over towards the captain of the swim team, taking in the intruders as she approaches. She looks at Kozue in surprise, and tilts her head slightly to the side. "Kaoru-san? Doing well for myself?" She then frowns and shakes her head, before adding softly, "Yeah, I'm not in Magano, so I must be doing well." She takes a deep breath and sighs, glancing away for a moment.
"Actually, I'll take being passable as a compliment!" She then glances towards the Captain and smile sweetly. "Senpai, can I talk to them? I might be able to encourage them to come back later when we're not training."

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

The Infinity Girls look back and forth between each other as Ai asks if she's doing well for herself as if wondering if the question is serious.

Kozue answers with a casual smirk. "You know I think most people would say the life of a headline model for a fashion line is hard but... I have no complaints..."

One of the swimming team girls to a teammate not far behind Ai, "This is why I'm an Akamira."

Whereas Kozue simply lofts a brow at her statement, "Ara..."

It's unclear what she's actually responding to.

The Captain though responds to her request with startlement, "You two competed once upon a time... is that what this is?"

She looks suspiciously back and forth between the pair.

"I have no complaints about discussing terms... privately."

The Captain grimaces and whispers to Ai, "Be careful. Don't let her do anything too weird."

Kozue simply makes a gesture with her wrist at the fashion club. "Go take a break. Don't worry, I won't keep all of you waiting for long..." Kozue says with a wink, as the fashion club decides to head inside. "Let's upload some of these right now..." They say among themselves.

Before turning on her foot and heading towards the door to the locker and shower rooms, vanishing inside the door. The last view of her hand simply beckoning for the other girl to follow.

<Pose Tracker> Ai Yamamoto [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ai doesn't follow fashion at all, so she's blissfully ignorant about models and even the latest fashion trends. "Oh, I am happy that things are going well for you! That's great to hear that you're doing something like that." She glances back over her shoulder to her team mates and then towards the Captain and nods.

"I believe in showing people that I've competed with in the past respect, even after the race has finished," she explains cheerfully. She does look a bit concerned at the comment about Kozue doing strange things. She opens her mouth to reply only to find herself pulled forward by the model and dragged towards the locker and shower rooms.

"I thought we could have sat on the benches and talked!" she protests. She watches the other girl go into the room, before sighing and following after her. "The benches would have been a better idea."

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Several girls on Ai's team vow to tell her all about the Aohime and Akamira rivalry later.

The Captain upon hearing Ai's response on why she shows respect kinda stammers, "G-Good attitude." But then when Ai isn't looking away, mouths, 'To her though???' Silently.

Perhaps Kozue does not have the best reputation for returning respect.

Into the locker room though, Kozue doesn't say anything for a moment, before touching the stopper of the door with her foot, and causing it to shut immediately.

The other girl then looks at Ai out of the corner of her eyes, "Because maybe I don't want to be overheard by group of girls who don't know how to keep their mouths shut. You know I thought I was seeing things - and then you ended up at Ohtori Academy."

Ai suddenly finds Kozue walking straight towards her, moving assertively and uncomfortably into her space as she attempts to back her up against a locker. Kozue's arm then shoots out, as her palm slams the metal of the locker not far to the right beside Ai's shoulder and neck, causing a reverberating echo as she attempts to give her no route for escape.

It's well known to Japanese youths what this is. Kabedon. In media it's usually the taller guy using it to pin a smaller girl.

And yet, here in a strange reversal its Kozue, the smaller girl who is doing just that, as if trying to keep her from getting away immediately, seeming to loom higher than her height would suggest. As her head moves just a little closer...

BGM Change: Mai HiME OST - Yami no Butou - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSbtDr4JFSo

And whispering...

"Don't trust anyone at Ohtori." Then closer still, so much so that her breath can be felt upon the bottom lobe of her ear, "And be careful where you call your Child unless you want to lose it."

<Pose Tracker> Ai Yamamoto [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ai offers a little wave to the people outside, before making her way fully into the locker room area. She takes several steps in and freezes when the door closes behind her and turns to face Kozue. She takes several steps back in surprise as Kozue rapidly approaches her, only to find the cold steel of the lockers behind her.

"W-what do you mean you thought you were seeing things?" she stammers uncertainly. "And I'm only here because..."

She trails off and glances away again, and she jumps when the model's hand bangs against the locker and she's blocked.

She folds her hands in front of herself, and tries to press herself more against the locker as Kozue leans in.

Her jaw falls open, and her eyes go wide when the other girl mentions her Child, while the colour drains from her face.

"How do you know about Arathtrue?"

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

A look of mirth flickers into the model's blue eyes, and Ai might notice the finger of the palm up against the locker shifting, extending to lightly touch the part of her swimsuit where the HiME mark was hidden.

It's just a momentary touch, not a prolonged one - no more meaningful than pointing it out.

"Did you think you were the only one?"

The girl whispers her question, which feels like an interrogation, despite it answering her question.

"Before you showed up here, that mark was just a coincidence... now?"

Then suddenly, Kozue's hand falls back away from the locker, and the shorter girl falls back on her heels as she takes a step back, and turns at an angle in a side profile.

"Now it means you're a single mom to one big kid." The smirk appears on her lips, as if the idea of them all being single mothers to a 'Child' was a joke to her, "Unless you've got a boyfriend?"

Not long ago she was on the intimidating side, but now her words fall more on the teasing side. As if trying to embarrass her while she's back on her heels. A hand lifts up, and Kozue runs a hand through her own blue hair.

"Don't worry if you don't. A country girl like you who looks good in a suit - the guys will eat that up. Bet you'll open your locker to a pile of love confessions before too long. Either way - you don't need to worry."

Kozue's smile for the first time actually seems a touch sincere, even if still looks more smug than anything.

"Your secret is safe with me. I don't see a reason to let anyone know you're rearing a rug rat."

<Pose Tracker> Ai Yamamoto [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ai looks more surprised when she notices Kozue's hand move, and then feels her poking at where her birthmark is. She slowly shakes her head at the question about being the only one as her brow furrows. She takes a deep breath and falls silent as she considers what is being said by the model.

"I have heard about a couple of others, but I don't plan on going out of my way to find them." She then falls silent at the comment about being a single mother, her eyes going wide again. "I-I never thought about it like that before, but I'd never want to get rid of Arathtrue." She unclasps her hands and then folds her arms across her stomach.

She looks more uncertain now, but is starting to relax. Well, until the compliment from Kozue, which causes her to unfold her arms and cover her face as she turns bright red from embarrassment. "I-I look good in a suit? T-thank you? Oh, no, that won't happen. I'm too busy for a boyfriend."

She then peeks through her fingers towards the blue haired girl. "Thanks, that actually means a lot. I've been trying to keep it hidden."

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Kozue doesn't comment on the HiME, her expression momentarily stormy at the thought, then abstracted as Ai relays her feelings on her Child. "Good. Your Child is the one thing you can count on in this messed up world."

Does she look somewhat melancholy when she says it? It's hard to tell. This all changes when she sees her blush and peek through her fingers

"My... you've never heard anyone tell you that?" Kozue flicks her gaze up Ai's body from her toes all the way to the tip top of her damp blonde hair. "There's a lot more than that I could compliment..."

The girl in blue opposite to her says, entirely shamelessly. Strangely she doesn't comment on Ai being too busy for a boyfriend, though she seems amused enough by her reaction.

"I could say enough to make you faint."

Kozue threatens unseriously, teasing without mercy, "The lifeguard is pretty hot. Even if you don't have time for a boyfriend - it'd be fine if you just happened to be rescued by a good-looking guy - right?"

<Pose Tracker> Ai Yamamoto [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ai does notice that melancholic look from the other girl, and was about to ask about something until Kozue speaks again. She slowly shakes her head and partially lowers her hands. Her brows furrow slightly, and she shakes her head.

"No, not really. At my last school, most of the boys didn't really like that I was taller than them. Though one short friend did like to ask for hugs." She then quickly shakes her head. "No, it's alright! I don't want to faint."

She does ponder the comment about the lifeguard and glances towards the locker room door. "He is pretty cute, it's tempting." She purses her lips for a moment and hmms softly. "But that wouldn't do much for my reputation if I needed to be rescued. I also think one of the other girls likes him, too."

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

The other girl say nothing as Ai gives her response. There's a low hum as she delivers it, and Ai might get the feeling that Kozue was evaluating something with all that teasing.

"Those boys are fools."

Kozue notes eventually.

"Fools with poor taste."

There's a hint of a smile, as she looks down at the floor and crosses her arms over her mid-riff.

"Heh. You're too kind to them, stepping aside to preserve their feelings. When you're kind, it's easy for them to pretend they're not jealous."

There's a faint shake of her head.

"You've got talent and dedication they lack. Even if they're nice to you back - they won't be able to help resenting you a bit."

Kozue eventually unlaces her arms.

"Ah well. You shouldn't take it from me. Find out for yourself."

Kozue starts walking away, towards the locker room door, as if she were about to move to leave.

"After all. Ohtori wants nothing to do with me anymore. Anyhow - I'll leave you to your practice, and stop harassing your team for the day. As for what to tell them..."

Kozue's fingertips move out to slide around the handle, gripping it, but without moving to open it yet.

"Well - tell them whatever you want."

Her smile is a playful one, like she realizes she's hanging her out to dry by not arranging something with her to tell them.

<Pose Tracker> Ai Yamamoto [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ai lowers her hands again, no longer hiding her face. She's smiling brightly to herself now, and she seems to have found more confidence from the conversation, and she might feel a little less critical of her height. "Kaoru-san, thank you," she offers sincerely. "I might try to find out for myself."

"Oh, I will still be kind. Kindness doesn't cost anything!" She cheerfully adds. "If they want to be jealous and hold a grudge, then that's all up to them and it doesn't affect me at all. If anything, I hope they use that jealousy to get better." She gives a curt nod as she rests her hands on her hips.

"Oh, Kozue-san, I hope you do decide to go another school and start swimming while you model. I could use a worthy challenger! What someone has done in the past, doesn't have to dictate their future." She offers a waggle of her fingers to the departing girl, and then takes a deep breath and hmms softly as she tries to decide what to say. "Just don't blow up any more pools!"

She makes her way towards the door after the model has left, no doubt telling the Captain that the reason the 'invader' left, was a personal favour. If that would be believed.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Kozue's hand falls lax on the doorway...

"Kindness doesn't cost anything?" The girl repeats, softly, and abstracted. "If only that were true..."

The girl's eyes close in a slow blink, and remain closed for many long moments, as if she were working through something painful.

And then slowly she opens her eyes, looking sidelong with a smirk. "Heh. You're funny." Kozue says as she starts to crack the door.

"Any school that's going to take me back on a swim team after what happened would have to be crazy."

And with the door open halfway, she does confide something simple.

"Wouldn't mind competing again though. Anyhow - see you sometime - maybe."

Stepping out through the door, she strides past the Ohtori pool and the Captain without speaking to her.

Clapping her hands to Infinity's fashion club that was milling around. "Let's move down a few pools."

They're eager to agree, as the group quickly moves down to the opposite end of the stretch of outdoor pools.

The reception she receives down there is much warmer, enthusiastic even...

As the practice stops for the girls of some of the more rural teams stop to try to get a picture with the popular model.