Joe continued to stare off into the distance, his fingers wrapped tightly around his precious fishing rod. He was sitting on his favorite rock located at his favorite place (Mallard Lake) some ways from the Sunny Garden Cafe, and as usual, he was trying his best to catch even a single fish but sometimes, he would ask himself if his best was not enough.
Fishing was second nature to the young apprentice carpenter, but not catching anything was also one. He told Kurt time and time again that he would catch the biggest fish ever in the history of Leaf Valley, but maybe he was all talk.
Sighing, Joe twisted his rod, slightly rolling the smooth piece of wood in his palms, when he felt something tug on the string. He just stared wide-eyed and mystified at the moving line of his rod, until he snapped out of his stupor and with a large grin, he braced himself while starting to pull.
''This... fish... sure is... strong!'' he gritted his teeth as he continued trying to reel in his catch. He let out a mix of a grunt and chuckle when he felt the tug of the fish grow weaker. With a loud yelp, he gave his all to pulling in.
As if in slow motion, Joe's eyes widened as he took in the sight of a girl wearing nothing but a swimsuit flying through the air with her foot tangled in his fishing line. The expression on her face was priceless but in his shock, he somehow forgot where he placed his sense of humor and only one thing was on his mind.
What was she doing in Mallard Lake?
Your work boots fell into the lake before you coukd react.
''I'm so sorry, [Name]! I didn't mean to!'' Katie whined, latching on to your arm and started to shake you violently. You ignored her as you thought of how to save your boots from a watery grave.
You groaned as only one solution entered your mind. You had to swim in the lake to get it. You could fish it out, but your fishing rod was somewhere back home and it was quite some time since you last fished.
You turned towards the teary eyed strawberry blond with a set face.
''Katie, please watch over my things.''
Katie squeaked as you started to take off your top, covering her eyes with her arms. ''[Name]! W-What are you doing?''
''I'm gonna manually get it,'' you peered at her. ''or do you want to get is yourself?''
''I'll take care of your things, don't worry!'' Katie flashed you a thumbs up and you rolled your eyes but smiled anyway. You couldn't stay mad at her for long.
Tossing your top on the ground, you glanced around to see if there were people watching. When you deemed it safe, you slid your pants off and laid it beside your top. Now you were clad only in your underwear rubbing your arms from the cold.
''I hope I don't catch a cold...'' you gritted your teeth together to stop them from chattering. ''It's freezing!''
''Well it IS the start of Fall,'' Katie helpfully muttered, nodding to herself sagely.
You once again ignored her.
Taking a step towards the edge of the lake, you dipped your foot in and promptly shrieked out loud making your companion yelp in surprise.
''KATIE!'' you sobbed, cursing everything and their mothers at your terrible fate. Katie now looked incredibly guilty.
''I-I'm so sorry, [Name],'' she said, visibly gulping. She glanced fearfully at the body of water. ''If you want, I'll go get it for you...?''
You shook your head. You knew Katie couldn't swim to save her life. ''No. You stay here. I was just joking around.''
Before the blond could get a word edgewise and before you could change your mind, you jumped in the lake.
Your eyes snapped open as the chilly water seeped deep into your body, and you resisted the urge to resurface and just walk away forgetting this ever happened, but no. Your boots had been an essential part of your life and you couldn't just leave it floating away for all eternity, unless some giant fish would decide to make it its snack.
Enduring the freezing temperature of the lake, you started to wade down the water, flapping your arms like an idiot. You knew how to swim, but that didn't mean you were good at it.
After a few minutes of swimming, you were about to give up because your body was growing numb and dying young was not on your to do list until the familiar sight of brown leather appeared in your line of vision. You almost cheered in delight but you remembered that you were underwater. Making a sound of accomplishment, you started to make your way towards your beloved boots, the idea of taking a hot bath later willing you to move faster. You smiled, reaching one hand to your boots until-
You couldn't move.
You made a sound of protest, feeling something wrap around your ankle. You looked back, and your eyes widened when you recognized a string holding you in place. When you tugged on your foot, the string tugged back.
A game of underwater tug of war ensued, but no matter how hard you tried to pull your foot, the stupid string was stronger than you. With the need to breathe in fresh air, you resigned yourself to what was going to happen and you fell limp. The string dragged you from your location and when you felt the chilly air hit your flesh, you gave a loud scream.
You closed your eyes and prepared for impact on the cold hard ground, pulling your arms closer to your chest, but you were surprised to feel something softer than the ground when you landed.
You snapped your eyes open after hearing the pained male groan under you, and froze when you saw a male about your age grimacing, one hand holding his bandanna clad head. You could feel the fingers of his other hand curled around your upper arm.
Realizing your position, you flushed a bright red and you sat up, covering your mouth with both your hands.
''I'm so sorry! Are you alright?''
The male groaned again, one eye opening to look at you. He didn't say anything for a few moments before he slowly grinned, his eyes now fully open.
''I knew that mermaids exist.''
Mermaids? This guy was clearly delusional. You furrowed your brows in confusion and was about to ask what he was talking about when the male sat up, bringing you with him. Both of his hands were now gripping your arms.
''I knew it! Kurt is so gonna lick my feet after this!'' he joyfully exclaimed, a look of pure excitement on his youthful face. ''My name is Joe! I've always wanted to meet a mermaid! This is awesome!''
The guy named Joe continued to chatter uncontrollably while still holding you on his lap. You tried to squirm away but to no avail. You were still a girl and he was a guy. The difference in strength was still there.
Joe stuck out his tongue at you. "Do you think I'll let you get away that easily? Creatures like you are definitely hard to come by!"
Did he not notice that you had legs?
"Excuse me Mister Joe, but-"
"What's your name?" he interjected, clearly ignoring you. You sighed and decided to humor him so you told him your name. He frowned a bit in disappointment.
"That doesn't sound like a mermaid name," he said, lips jutting out in a pout. "I was expecting something like, I don't know... Coral? Ariel? Fishy?"
"It's because I'm not a mermaid, stupid!" your patience was growing thin and you just wanted to go home, your boots be damned! "Now let me go! I wanna go home!"
It seemed that reality struck and the truth pierced through his thick skull as he blushed and released you as if burned. He scrambled to get up and held out a hesitant hand to help you but you just glared at him, standing up on your own.
You stomped away, ignoring his calls of your name and the apologies that came with it. You just wanted to lay dead on your soft bed and pretend that nothing bad happened and that you didn't meet the idiot that thought of you as a mermaid.
But you admit that he was cute.
Joe stared after your slowly disappearing form, smiling all the while. Of course, mermaids wouldn't admit that they were what they were, so he'll let you go for now.
He would wait for the time that you two would meet again, and he'll try to weasel out the truth from you that you were indeed a mythical creature. You were too cute to resist not finding!