He had a different towel this time, which he handed to her, before turning around and waiting for her to change back out of the wet doll clothes.
She tugged on his pant leg again to let him know that she was done, but when he turned to look at her, her hair was still wet, dripping soddenly onto her shoulders. That hadn’t been a problem the last time, or at least not as much, since she hadn’t been putting her head in the water.
“Here,” he said, picking up the discarded towel. He held it out towards her head, but stopped short of touching her. “May I?”
A few days ago, he would have just waited, and taken her silence as assent. But he had seen her nod today, so this time he waited. It took longer, but eventually he could see her bob her head ever so slightly.
As gently as he could, San dried her hair. “It isn’t good to leave your hair wet,” he said. “You’ll be cold, and you might get sick.” She stood still and let him do it, and when he had dried her hair to his satisfaction, he eased back.
“If you’re tired,” he said, “I’ll carry you. Hop on?” He extended one hand to her again, collecting the doll clothes with the other. She contemplated it for a moment, but he could tell that she was just deciding, not wary or unsure of what he was asking of her. In the end, she climbed on, and he lifted her up, then exited the room, turning the lights out behind him.
End: Step Up
The next day was a running day. The tub was still there, but it was empty of water this time, and pushed to one side of the room.
The marks, which had faded from the water splashing and the tub scraping against the floor as it was moved, were drawn anew. The chalk for them had been put away in a corner of the room, in case it was needed again.
“You remember these,” he said. It was a little too soon to hope for dramatic improvement, but the more they practiced, the better she would be able to do it. “We’ll stretch first, and then we’ll start. Ready?”
He led her through the same stretching routine that they had been doing thus far. By now, she was starting to remember some of what came next, so it went by fairly quickly. When that wrapped up, she went to her place on one of the lines, and faced where the other line was drawn.
“Sprint,” said San.
She ran for the other side. She wasn’t much faster, but she also didn’t seem as winded as before.
San was pleasantly surprised by that outcome; he didn’t think they had been working on this long enough for her to be improving by that much, but maybe her smaller body adapted more quickly to this kind of conditioning training.
“Good. Sprint,” he said again, after giving her a moment to rest. She ran for the other side. She didn’t slow down as much as she had before either; the pace was nearly comparable to her first attempt.
He was curious to see what her new limit was, so he let her rest a bit then gave the signal a third time. “Sprint.” She ran to the other side, and then again, and then once more, before at last it seemed to be too much for her.
“You’ve gotten a lot better,” he said. “If we rest a while longer, do you think you can do it again?”
Now the questions weren’t purely rhetorical, the way that they had been before, where he couldn't really expect her to respond. Now, he waited to see if she would give him an answer. There was a pause, perhaps for her to think the idea over, before she nodded slightly. “Alright,” said San. “A… ten minute break then, let’s say.” He set his stopwatch for the amount. “It’s a good idea to keep your body moving while you rest. Not a lot, just a little. You can walk, or we can go through the stretching routine again.” He waited for her to indicate a preference, but in this case she didn’t oblige, so he chose for her. “Let’s do the stretches then. Can you do them by yourself?”
She went through as many of them as she seemed to remember, then began walking back and forth slowly between the lines.
When the ten minutes were up, San said, “Alright, let’s try this again. Only this time, I want you to run as fast as you can when I say ‘sprint’. I really mean it, okay? As fast as you can, really push yourself. Don’t worry about a second try. If you’re too tired, we’ll just rest again.”
She didn’t nod, but San could see her preparing herself a little, her feet spaced apart and her posture leaned slightly forward. “Sprint,” he said, and this time she ran away from the line much faster. It was a good speed. San thought, if she could consistently manage this, then he would call himself satisfied.
It did leave her too tired to try again immediately though. San was as good as his promise in that regard, and he simply let her walk it off until her breathing had calmed.
“One more time?” he said, and she assumed her position at one of the lines. “Sprint.”
So long as he let her rest between repetitions, she could maintain a proper sprinting speed over the distance. That felt like good enough progress for San to call it a day. “At ease,” he said. “That was very good. I’m surprised at how much better you’ve gotten.” He saw one of her ears twitch, and a smile tugged at one corner of his mouth. “Tomorrow we’ll try swimming again.”
The next day, he went over everything they had learned during the last swimming session once, before San introduced something else into the mix. “Now I’d like you to try moving your arms too,” he said. “Watch me… Like this.” He moved his arms as though he were swimming. “You want to keep your fingers together, like you’re scooping the water. Let’s try once while you’re standing, just your arms. Can you do it?”
She mimicked what he had done, and after watching her a moment, San nodded. “Just like that. When you’re in the water, you’ll want to breathe, so when you need air, turn to the side like this…”
He demonstrated the movement for her, and she copied that too. “Good. Since you’re not holding onto me this time, you’ll want to lower yourself into the water, then kick off like you’re moving forward. Start anywhere you like,” he said.
She picked one end of the tub, facing him on the other side. San, watching her, nodded again. She was expecting to be able to move forward when she tried putting everything together, so that was a good sign. “On my signal. Ready? Swim,” he said.
It was funny, actually, that she had managed to put it together so quickly. Maybe she had learned a little before, or maybe she was just a quick study.
He wouldn’t have expected it from her, seeing the way she had been when they first met. And it wasn’t necessarily that he thought she had changed from then. If she had found herself among another group of strangers who spoke a language she didn’t, he suspected she would have been just as unresponsive as before.
But she was picking it up. And she managed to swim from one side of the tub to the other, just like that.
“That’s pretty good,” San said. “You’re swimming. Do you think you can do it again, to the other side?”
She looked down, and that was when he noticed that she was breathing hard. Maybe not then. Before he could say anything, however, she held up a hand to him of her own accord, fingers spread.
“Five minutes?” San ventured, thinking quickly. “You want to rest?”
“Okay, five minutes then,” he said. When the five minutes had passed, he gave her the signal again. “Swim.” Rei swam to the other side, moving her arms and legs in tandem. It was still a bit messy, but all things considered, it was still a good outcome. And she was doing what he had asked her to do, after all. He was sure that once she practiced more, she would perfect her technique, naturally becoming more efficient over time.
He asked her to do it a few more times, then pronounced himself satisfied, and moved on to something else.
End: Swim Start: Dive
"You know how to hold your breath now, and you know how to move across the water, so let's work on diving down. When you're swimming, you sort of go... in the direction of your head," he said. "So you just lead with your arms and your head, going down into the water."
It wasn't quite that simple, but he also couldn't demonstrate, and he was doing his best to explain it verbally, which was all that he could do. "Your body naturally floats, so you have to push a little harder to go down, but if you kick and pull the water back with your hands as hard as you can, you'll be able to do it."
He gave her a moment to process what he was saying, then said, "Let's try it. When I say 'dive', go down until you hit the bottom, okay? Dive."
She didn't immediately move, but San gave her time to figure herself out. She crouched down, dipped her face below the water, then made a slightly awkward lunge downward into the water. But she did dip down, and her hands touched the bottom before she came back up, so she had done as he had asked, in the end.
“That’s good,” he said. That awkwardness would go away with practice too. To that end, he let her rest a moment before asking her to do it again. “Can you try one more time? Dive.”
She hesitated over it less this time. He had the sense that she didn’t like to do it, since it was so awkward, but seeing it a second time, he thought the depth of the water might have been contributing to it. At this depth, it was much more practical to just crouch in the water and search for something on hands and knees, rather than trying to dive.
That was some food for thought for their next swimming session. But for now, he figured they might as well practice what it was practical to do.
“That’s not very comfortable to do, is it?” he said. “Let’s try something else then. Do you remember ‘submerge’?”
She didn’t nod, but she dipped lower into the water, until her mouth and nose were below the surface. “Right,” San said, “that was what we did last time. But let’s change it a bit. This time when I say ‘submerge’, I want you to put your whole body underwater. You don’t have to reach for the bottom, you just have to be completely under the water, nothing sticking up. Do you think you can do it?”
There was a little hesitation, but in the end, she nodded. It wasn’t strange that she felt uncertain about it, since she hadn’t done it that way before, but San had confidence that she could manage it. It wasn’t such a difficult thing to do, not when her feet could still touch the bottom. “You can come back up when you need air,” he reminded her, just in case.
He didn’t know if she would try to stay under for too long if he didn’t, and he didn’t want her to try drowning herself for his sake. “Submerge.”
She ducked down, until she was completely below the water. That was the extent of what he had wanted her to do, and it didn’t surprise him that she had managed it, but he was curious to see how long she could comfortably go when she wasn’t being taxed by the extra effort of swimming around.
It was almost comparable to how long he could hold his own breath, as it turned out. He didn’t know if he would ever need to make use of that information, but maybe someday it would be good for him to know... Or even for Rei herself to know, as far as her own limits went. Agents did often have to make their own decisions in the field, after all.
“That’s good,” he said. “You did it. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” She took a few deep breaths, but she didn’t take as long to catch her breath as she did after swimming the length of the tub. “Ready to try again? Submerge.”
She took a deep breath, dipped below the surface, and stayed there a while before coming back up. “Good. Let’s change things up. Can you swim to the other side again?” San said. And after she did, he said, “Submerge.” On his signal, she dipped below the water again. They went on like this for a while, alternating between these things, before he helped her out of the tub.
He handed her the towel, and turned so she could get changed. He waited for the tug on his pant leg to signify that she was done, then turned around to see that her hair was still sodden.
Twilight-Claw: Hey Ridelys, I still got a Sarane Fidelity Egg if your interested in trading your Green Drake for it, you'd have another shot in trying for it then.
May 31, 2020 1:11:44 GMT -6
Ridelys: If you can barter someone else's champion voucher off them for a gold hen, I'm happy with that too. XD \ Otherwise, I'm open to hearing offers.
May 30, 2020 21:19:39 GMT -6
Aster: Hey, if you don't want that green drake, I'd be happy to offer on him :U Alas, I don't have a gold hen either
May 30, 2020 21:18:03 GMT -6
Ridelys: Well, like I said, I'd have to get lucky.
May 30, 2020 21:13:55 GMT -6
Ridelys: I have a feeling its going to be a long one unless I get lucky.
May 30, 2020 18:19:31 GMT -6
Riku: Good luck with your golden egg hunt, BD! <3
May 30, 2020 15:40:20 GMT -6
Jack: Thanks for the notice!
May 28, 2020 10:05:26 GMT -6
Darky: Heads up: there's a chance you might notice Trepuldra images having loading issues on June 3rd, for about 3h. No need to panic, Veebimajutus just notified there's going to be some scheduled maintenance, is all x3
May 28, 2020 10:05:06 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: right??? i was really hoping i could find one of those pachee before the season was out.
May 26, 2020 18:51:32 GMT -6
Fanged: Oh wow that's an awesome garden find FF
May 26, 2020 18:13:26 GMT -6
Riku: Oh how perfect! I woke up wanting to post (unexpected, but yay) and saw I had a reply. <3 Meant to be.
May 26, 2020 6:40:43 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I really, really love all the updates that have come~! <3
May 24, 2020 2:12:37 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: np!!! I hope y'all like it!
May 23, 2020 13:45:06 GMT -6
Riku: What an awesome update, staff! Thanks for that! <3
May 23, 2020 12:06:52 GMT -6
Jack: All have been found!
May 23, 2020 9:53:27 GMT -6
Jack: Might want to be on the lookout for anything... odd
May 22, 2020 23:51:22 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Yeah it’s definitely a coincidence but wow did it work out well for us! XD
May 22, 2020 6:43:27 GMT -6
Silver: I'm pretty sure that was just a coincidence, but it sure feels lucky!
May 22, 2020 2:07:09 GMT -6
Riku: So did you guys make this hosting switch perfectly RIGHT before pb broke? >.< Thaz crazy. It’s a huge relief and I’m very glad we’ve come to this. <3
May 22, 2020 1:41:01 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: It’s free up to a certain number of GB, which we haven’t hit yet.
May 21, 2020 6:46:33 GMT -6