Chapter 21

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Nelson stopped the moment opened the door of his room to do his morning jogging. Instead of the empty hallway, he saw himself facing a familiar face.

"Good morning, Nelson!" Cris said in a cheerful voice before the swimmer could say anything. Despite the dark circles under his eyes, he had a huge smile.

"Hey, Cris. Morning," Nelson replied in a dragged voice, rubbing his face and suppressing a yawn.

"Did you have a bad night of sleep?" Cris asked, full of interest.

"Yeah. And by your looks, so did you?" Nelson locked the door and walked towards the elevator with his manager by his side. "What are you doing here so early?"

"I came to follow you so you wouldn't do anything stupid like trying to overcompensate in your workout." There wasn't a single hint of shame on the Cris' voice or expression.

"And why did you think I'd do that?" Nelson asked, trying to keep his face blank.

"Well, you were so quiet on the ride back yesterday, I was afraid you'd be freaking out 'cause of that lap." Cris was still smiling, never taking his eyes off Nelson.

"Do what you want."

The swimmer knew his manager would say something like that. Of course, he'd be worried. He didn't have to be so blunt thought, Nelson thought, waiting for the elevator. Despite his mixed feelings, the idea put a smile on his heart. But right now, I can't afford to waste any time. Not after yesterday...

Despite his announcement, Cris said nothing as they walked out of the boy's dormitory and to the park. All the manager did was yawn, rub his eyes and steal some glances at the swimmer from time to time.

With his head full, Nelson made all his stretches and warm-ups. It took longer than usual since he kept repeating a few warm-ups over and over. Only when he finally was ready, he realized that Cris, despite wearing workout clothes, was sitting on the bench.

"I told you, I'm here to watch you," the manager said when he noticed the swimmer staring at him.

"I thought you said, and I quote, you came to follow me," he said, smiling. Despite how he felt, Nelson couldn't help but make a comment

Cris opened his mouth, but nothing came out. A second later, his eyes widened a little when he remembered.

"Yes, to follow you... with my eyes," he said in a triumphant voice.

Nelson stared at him with his face empty. But a moment later, he chuckled and smiled, shaking his head.

"Always with a quick answer." And I appreciate that, he thought, but kept that part to himself. "Then, please, follow me with your eyes. Hope you don't find it boring just sitting here and not jogging. You're welcome to join me anytime."

"Don't worry, I'm not a freak like you athletes. Besides, watching you sweat is fun in a different way for me," Cris said in a sly voice, averting his eyes, his cheeks red.

Nelson chuckled again. "Better if I don't ask."

"Agree."

With one last warm-up, Nelson began his morning jogging.

This feels weird, he thought after the first lap. The course was a short circular track about 500 meters. And all the time, Nelson could feel Cris' stare on him. He glanced at the bench where his manager was sitting.

I don't know why, but it feels weird when he looks at me like that. It's not like when a friend worried about you. Nor it feels like a gay guy checking me. It's more like... a parent making sure the kid doesn't screw up, he realized, picking up the pace a little.

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