The water, so absolutely clear, is warmer than he last recalls it being. Then again, last time he did swim in a pool, it was across the street, Yael and Quentin’s pool. Theirs is kept to a certain temperature as it is inside in all ways. He knows this pool is also kept to a certain temperature but with the heat of the sun getting trapped by the clear panes of the solarium, it tended to be, he imagined, hotter.

He doesn’t mind. Water is water and he could spend his whole days in this pool if he didn’t have a whole schedule set up for his weekdays. Now as it is Monday afternoon, he knows he should have been downstairs in his room, studying for an upcoming exam though he knows that most of what is in that exam he already knows rather well enough. In a few months things will be more difficult and then he will study more.

Alone in the pool, since Agni preferred playing his video games—Mira knows his brother is not studying—he swims slowly down the length, pauses at one side and then pushes himself off over to the other edge. It is a slow, peaceful sort of time for him and he knows to just enjoy the quietness.

He can hear the wind lightly drift by the solarium. A few of the slight little windows near the top are opened, this he did himself. Through a lot of reading, he knows that solariums usually don’t have windows to them but Alexis wanted a breeze, he didn’t want them to suffocate in the humid summer heat when they could afford a breeze. He thinks it’s a wonderful idea, it keeps him from feeling as if he’s in a fish bowl.

When he first came up to the pool, it crossed his mind that he could swim bare, absolutely naked but then he realized that this was hardly a private pool—though in a way it is—and anyone could walk in on him swimming naked. He has nothing to hide, this is hardly the issue but he is somewhat shy about showing himself to the world in this way. Even his brother has not seen him completely bare in some years, despite that Agni himself has been known to wandering around naked between their room.

His brother is self-assured where he just isn’t, at least not quite yet.

For a while, done with swimming back and forth, he settles on his back, floating easily and he closes his eyes. He can appreciate quiet time while he knows his brother might prefer to at least have music playing.

After a little while, he has no way of really telling how long, his ears pick up the sound of something slipping in the water and a little voice in the back of his mind reminds him that it was a smart idea to not swim naked. Maybe over the heat of the summer, one night, he’d swim naked but not now.

Slowly he pulls himself up from his floating position and looks to one end of the pool and sees nothing, he turns around, looks at the other end and his lips pull into a smile as he starts swimming to that end. “Armin!”

He never thought the man might actually come up to the pool. He knows that not everyone can swim and while he doesn’t know whether Armin knows or not, he thought that with his legs—though he doesn’t judge him for that, merely speculates—the man might not come anywhere near the pool.

He can read in Armin’s eyes and in the way he acts that he tries to not think of the way people look at him but it still reaches for him deep down inside. The thought makes Mira made but he’s aware there’s nothing he can do about it.
The closer he swims, the clearer the slightly older man becomes. Wearing shorts, his legs in the water, a slight little smile to his lips. It is as if he trusts Mira to not judge him for how he looks and that is rather how things turn out.

Mira’s curiosity does pull at him and briefly he studies those leg, one slightly thinner than the other, not quite shaped as it should but that is all he does. Once he’s close enough to the shallows and to the man he has come to admire, he smiles brightly. The smile is returned.

“I didn’t think you would come to the pool, it’s nice and warm right now, hotter than I wish it was but that’s the sun, it’s comfortable though. You’re not going to swim though, are you?” He assumes, the words are clear in his question that it is curiosity more than anything else. He sees no signs that there might be a bathing suit of sorts being worn. The man merely is there for a dip in the water with his legs. It’s more than fine by Mira.

“Did you have a good trip yesterday?”

Armin quirks a brow at him, as if surprised by the question and Mira blushes lightly as if he had blurted out some sort of secret. “I saw you leave in that car in the morning and you came back late. I’m sorry if I wasn’t supposed to know.”

“Ah, no, no that’s okay. Yes, I briefly went out of town to visit an old friend. Someone I hadn’t seen in some years and we talked about back then, we brought ourselves back up to date with what has been going on in our lives. And then,” he pauses, his eyes almost glowing and Mira’s own widen, waiting, suspenseful. “We saw tiny little turtles!”

He laughs and Mira blinks a moment before canting his head, curious once more. “Turtles?”

“Yes, turtles. We had to stop driving in the middle of nowhere because there were a few turtles crossing the street in front of us. We waited for them to be done going across before we started on the way again.”

“I wish I could have been there, I’ve never seen real turtles!” He knows what they look like from plenty of searches online, from looking through books and through websites. He craves all the knowledge he can get about anything in the world, animals, plants, bugs. Finding information about anything and everything about what surrounds them seems to fill in a huge hole that was eating away at him.

“They were adorable little things. I could have picked them up and dropped them over but I didn’t. It was easier to just watch them slowly cross the road. I don’t know why they were there to begin with though there might have been a body of water not too far off. I just hope they’re safe where they’re now. Crossing that road has to be dangerous though it’s usually empty. I know that plenty of folks might not stop for them, would just keep on rolling.”

“That’s just terrible.” It is terrible and he knows it. He frowns but shakes it off with a smile. “I’m glad you came up. I thought maybe I might never see you up here but it’s nice to know you do come!”

“Well, I don’t swim, I never have. I don’t own a bathing suit but I thought I might try to see how the water felt and I know that none of you really judge me based on my appearance so it makes it easier to not feel so self-conscious about myself.”

The words warm Mira and he beams again, the smile so bright someone might have compared it to the sun. Armin laughs softly and playfully splashes the teen. His life really is going rather well. He has rekindled with an old friend, he has people in this very building he can call friends just the same, people who do not judge him and it makes him feel as if things are finally heading into the right direction.

He couldn’t ask or more. At least, that is, not considering the voices in his head but that is his gift and he adapts to it a little more every day.


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