Zach frowned and stormed past the others in the locker room, brushing past Gentry.
Gentry didn’t give him a second look. He brushed past, gliding forward with no expression on his face, no thought in his mind, no feeling underneath it all. Easy like the sun on the sea, and it made Zach hot with an all too familiar anger. In this kind of water, Gentry swam like one of the sharks; and it was so effortless that he probably didn’t even notice he was doing it. It was just something his body did, a second nature. His eyes would grow firm and distant, simmering down to dark nothing. The movements of his body became rigid and firm— head high, chest out, shoulders back. There would be a grating lead-heavy undertone in his voice, and just enough expression in his face to keep questions at bay.
Zach was amazed how fast he could adapt, sickly watching the change kick in— from the moment they set foot outside the library, just before they parted ways for practice. Had that always been there? Yeah.
“Congrats on getting your time up. Just shave off thirty seconds for your backstroke, and you’ll be in good shape for Nationals.”
Zach gave him an odd look, shook his head slowly and turned his back. If no words needed to be exchanged, then none were. Here they rarely communicated beyond grunts and sneers; avoiding eye contact because Zach knew he would hate what he’d see leering back at him.
But this cold-blooded calm was a part of Gentry—not a split personality or even a contradiction. It was not as simple as a flaw or as complex as an alter-ego; it wasn’t even evil, it just was. A part of the whole, nothing more nothing less.
That part of him which moved through the locker rooms with predatory grace.
And every time he thundered through the double doors, the team would, for at least one moment, cast aside their suspicions. Because in these waters, no one was consistently faster, tougher, or more needed than Gentry Lee Johnson. No one was colder, no one was tougher— no one else could swim The Gauntlet. Not the way he did.