Chapter IV

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  Carlos was the first to hit the water. His body splashed into the water like a wrecking ball hitting a brick wall. He held his breath underwater, waiting for Jay to land in the water. A second later, Jay splashed into the water next to Carlos. Jay landed upsidedown, but he flipped right side up almost immediately.

   Jay turned to look at Carlos. And for a second, the two just shared a stare, holding their breath underwater. However, the moment was interrupted when Jay swam forward and grabbed Carlos by his sides, and lifted his head up out the water. Jay's head splashed up soon after as he kept his grip on Carlos' sides, and again, they shared a stare.

   "So, you ready to learn?" Jay said, raising an eyebrow.

  Carlos faked a cough. He was nervous. "Er- um- yeah!" Carlos replied hurriedly.

     "Alright," Jay said. "First, I'm going to teach you how to float on your own. Without inflatables or life vests."

     Carlos immediately frowned upon hearing that. "That's the scariest part of swimming to me..." Carlos said.

     "Don't worry Carlos, I got you," Jay reassured the other. "Just lay back, and let the water take you. If you relax, you'll stay afloat. If you panic, you'll sink below." Jay finished.

   Carlos sighed and let go of Jay, letting his body fall back into the water. He closed his eyes and began to focus on what he loved, what would calm him down. He immediately thought of Jay. Jay was his safe place• he would protect him if anything went wrong. He was lost in his thoughts that he hadn't realized that he was floating.

     "Carlos?" Jay interrupted. "You're doing it."

     Carlos opened his eyes, finally realizing he was on top of the water.

     Immediately, he began flailing around in panic, and sunk beneath the surface. Carlos attempted to scream for Jay, but that only worsened his situation as water filled his lungs. Carlos' vision began to go blurry, but before he passed out, he felt Jay's arms around him.

•       •       •

     "Carlos?!" Jay yelled.

     Carlos immediately opened his eyes to Jay leaning over him, pumping his chest frantically. Carlos sat up from the ground, and coughed up a large sum of water.

     Jay placed his hands on each side of Carlos's face, staring down into his eyes intently.

     "That's my bad. I thought I had you."

     Carlos shook his head to the other. "Jay, it's fine." Carlos assured him, slowly regaining his breath.

     "No, it's not." Jay forced out. "You're my closest friend, and if I would've lost you, I would've felt guilty for the rest of my life." He continued. Carlos' heart beat sped a little. He hadn't realized how much Jay cared for him.

     "Jay, it wasn't your fault. I was the one who agreed to learn to swim," Carlos said. "If anything had happened to me, it would've been on me."

     Unexpectedly, Jay pulled Carlos into a hug. "That doesn't change the fact that I could've lost you. Listen, man. I... love you."

     The last sentence lingered in the air for a bit, before Jay continued to speak.

     "I know sometimes I act like a douche, but that's just how I am. You, Evie, and Mal are all I got." Jay said.

      Carlos couldn't believe Jay had just said that he loved him. And, he hugged him. He knew it wasn't meant to be romantic, but he couldn't help but process it that way. He smiled, and pulled back from the hug.

     "Don't go getting emotional with me, Jay," Carlos joked, with a smile. Jay smiled back to the other, before standing up, and holding out his hand to Carlos. Carlos grabbed it, and Jay pulled him up.

     "Let's head back to our dorm. I'm a little shaken up for today. We can try this swimming thing another day. Hopefully I'll make some actual progress," Carlos said.

And with no questions asked, they headed back to their dorm.

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