Maui knows that if you really set your mind on something, it could be done, and that this rule applied especially to Moana, but this?
This is ridiculous.
He's not even sure what it is she's even trying to do. All he knows is that she's running around all over the island in a frantic, panicked manner. He may not know a lot about what it's like to be chief, but he knows for sure that what she is doing is NOT normal everyday chief behavior.
Okay, scratch that. It's not even normal everyday Moana behavior.
To make things weirder, she hasn't said a single word to him since he's arrived. He landed down on Motunui for a visit probably fifteen minutes ago and he's gotten nothing out of her. She's usually on him seconds after he touches down on the ground babbling her head off about what her life's been like since the last time she saw him while she tugs on his arm to get him to get him to follow her around. But today she's already run past him three times and hasn't provided him with so much as a glance in his direction. It almost seems like she was so busy focusing on whatever she's doing that she didn't even notice he was there at all.
Maui frowns as he watches her run past him a fourth time without acknowledging he's there. As she runs by this time he gets a quick look at her face and notices two dark bags under her eyes. When her back is turned to him he notices that her hair is starting to frizz a little bit. He shakes his head, and begins to run after her to finally find out what's actually wrong.
"Kid, I think it's time you take a break from….whatever this is." He says, and the sound of his voice causes Moana to stop dead in her tracks.
"Maui?" she asks, turning to see him. "When did you get here?" She says, but then shakes her head. "Nevermind, I don't have time for this right now. Good to see you, but I'm busy" She says, and begins to run off, but before she can get very far, Maui grabs her by the shoulder to stop her from moving.
"I'm serious, Moana. You're not looking too good. What's bothering you?" He asks, and she frowns.
"I can't find Pua anywhere. I've looked just about everywhere I can think of two or three times and I'm getting really worried"
Maui opens his mouth to respond, but then closes it. Pua? He's not sure he ever met a Pua when he's come to the village in the past. He's sure he would've remembered someone if they were so important to Moana that she goes into a major state of anxiety when she can't seem to find him.
As if reading his thoughts, Moana frowns. "Right. You don't know who Pua is". She shakes her head. "He's my pet pig. He went missing yesterday after I came home from a short voyage. He was super nervous. He doesn't like being out in the water much. Not since…" She says, but then trails off awkwardly and sends a quick glance down at her foot before returning her attention to Maui. "Nevermind that, it's not important. Anyways, as soon as the boat touched the sand when we got home yesterday, off he sprinted, and I've been looking for him ever since"
Figures, Maui thinks. "You've been looking for him since the minute you got home? Without stopping?"
"What? Oh, no." Moana says. "I've stopped to eat, I stopped when my father wanted to give me another speech about chiefhood," she pauses to yawn. "I even sent a few people out to help look for him."
"Yeah?" Maui asks, almost smiling as she begins to answer his question before he can even as it. "What about sleep?"
"I've gotten plenty of sleep!" Moana snaps defensively, but then her expression turns sheepish for a brief moment. "On...the voyage." She adds, bringing a hand to her neck. "Last night? Not so much". She says, and Maui crosses his arms and rolls his eyes at her, a playful smile beginning to form on his lips.
"All you're doing is helping my side of the argument" He says, and she weakly punches him in the arm.
"That doesn't mean anything! I know for a fact I've gone longer than one night without sleep, and I also know that I'm not going to stop looking until I find him, and there's nothing you can do about it". Moana crosses her arms and pouts at him and Maui sighs when he realizes that she's probably right. There really is no point of trying to get her to lie down in her fale when she's just going to sprint from it to keep looking for her pig the minute Maui turns his back against her.
"What if instead, then…" Maui suggests, "I help you look for him? Would you take a break if I took over the work for you?" He asks, and Moana's expression is full of genuine shock at his offer for a brief moment.
"Really?" She asks skeptically. "You're really going to help? You're not just going to wander around, do whatever you want, and then come back to come tell me you couldn't find him either?"
"Moana, have I ever lied to you?" He asks, and without hesitation, she snorts a laugh in response. Maui clears his throat awkwardly. "I mean, you trust me, right?"
"Enough" Moana says playfully, and Maui rolls his eyes.
"Okay, what I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't assume I'm not going to actually search, because I'm serious"
She doesn't respond except for with an unconvinced smile, and he sighs. "...and if you really don't believe that I'm going to do it, we can just throw my original suggestion away and say you can look for him, too" He says, almost sarcastically, but that seems to be the comment that gets through to her. Her unconvinced, joking smile melts into a genuine one.
"Yes! Thank you!" She says, beaming, and takes a few small steps backwards before turning around and sprinting off in the direction she had been heading in earlier. Instead of sprinting after her like he had done before, Maui shapeshifts himself into a hawk and takes to the sky to look for any signs of a small pig on the ground.
He flies relatively low, and first he only follows Moana so he can have a better view of the surroundings then she does in case he spots the pig before she does to let her know. But he bores of this after a few minutes without luck, so he turns around to look for Pua on some other part of the island. He scans the beach, and when he finds no luck, he tries the heavily wooded area. Unfortunately, however, he doesn't have much luck there, either.
Glancing up, he sees that he's approaching the mountain at an alarming speed, so he slows himself down and pushes himself up into the air so he can land on the peak and look around. Maybe he'll be able to see where that dumb pig is hiding if he looks out from the tallest point of the island.
He touches down on the ground gracefully and returns to his human form. He's about to walk to the edge and look out at the island below, but he's instead distracted by what he finds lying in the center of the mountain peak. Curious, he approaches it, lazily dragging his fish hook in the ground behind him.
It's a large stack of stones topped off with a bright pink seashell. Each stone is carefully placed right on top of the one below it. The lower down the stone, the more it's being covered in grass and earth. I feel like Moana's told me about something like this. He thinks as runs his hand across the rough stones, and as soon as his hands rub up against a stone that's nearly completely covered in smooth grass, it comes back to him. Of course. These were the stones of the village chiefs. Moana had explained to him that each stone represented each chief who ruled over the village. He gazes in wonder at the bottom stone, which was now only recognizable as such by a square-shaped indent in the grass. And as he's admiring it, he also remembers what Moana had said stacking the stones represented, and like he had when she told him the first time, he's so taken aback by it he stumbles backwards. It raises the island higher, she had explained to him. When we add a stone, it's like we're pulling it up higher from the sea. It represents growth. She had said. She had explained something else, too, but he hadn't been paying attention. He was so taken aback that she had described it like she did. Pulling it from the sea. Like he had. This group of villagers had a rite of passage for their chiefs that evolved from something he did. An honored tradition held out by every village chief the island's ever had. He smiles as he re-approaches the stack. Based on how covered the stones at the bottom are, he assumes those stones must have belonged to Moana's ancestors. What surprises him though is how clean and rough the stones at the very top are. Even after he had made the horrible mistake of stealing Te Fiti's heart, they still continued to "raise the island" as a rite of passage. Moana's ancestors easily could've put an end to it, but they stuck with it. Even Moana had participated, even if only temporarily, by placing her seashell on top of her father's stone.
Maui smiles warmly as he temporarily admires the stack. They do care. They do want me. He thinks, and walks to the edge of the mountain to look out at the village below. He smiles, but then he suddenly remembers why he had originally come up to the mountain in the first place. He pushes his other thoughts aside as he begins looking out at the village for any sign of a small disturbance that could be caused by a startled little pig. But as he's doing that, another thought comes to his head, and he sends another glance back at the stack of stones.
Her ancestors! Of course!
Swinging his hook over his shoulder, Maui takes a step back, and then dives right off the edge of the mountaintop before transforming himself into a hawk and flying off towards the cave where Moana and her people kept her ancestor's boats for safekeeping.
When he's inside, Maui grabs one of the lower hanging torches that's already lit and uses it to help him see around the cave. He flashes it all around him, so he can get a good look at the boats while he searches for any sort of signs of Moana's lost pet.
"Uh, come out come out wherever you are?" He calls, and his own echo is the only thing that responds.
"Come on, I know you're in here" he says as he switches the torch into his other hand to get a better look at the other side of the cave. "Moana and I have looked everywhere else, and unless you jumped on a boat and sailed yourself away to some distant island, this is the only other place you could be, so you might as well give yourself up now". He stops to do a quick check of the perimeter, and then he begins to head deeper into the cave.
"Are you hiding from me on purpose?" He asks out loud, and still gets no response from anything in the cave. "Did Drumstick tell you about how I threatened to eat him?" He jokes, smiling to himself. "Because that was months ago. And even if I wanted to eat you, and I'm not saying I do," He says, raising a hand to the air defensively, "I wouldn't be able to, because-" he starts, but something moving out of the corner of his eye catches his attention and he stops. He turns around, and frowns when he discovers that it's only one of the sails getting caught in the slight breeze being created by the waterfall. He's about to ignore it and move on when something else catches his attention. In the top corner of the sail, big enough for anyone passing by to see it is a picture of himself.
He's never seen this sail before. He's not surprised he hasn't, because the sail is ripped from overuse, but it's still very shocking to look at. As far as he's concerned, people sew things into their sails that are near and dear to them, or to tell a story. Some of the boats have images of islands on them. Some of them have large groups of people. Moana's canoe shares the spiral with Te Fiti's heart. Those all mean something. Those things are all important, and near and dear to Moana's people, and if his image is right up there with the rest of those things, he supposes it must mean he's important and near and dear to them too. He smiles. This seems to be the only sail that's ripped to shreds from overuse. That's saying something too, I guess.
Maui stays where he is for a bit, a little lost in thought, before he continues to wander through the cave. Just as he's about to swing his hook around to give up and look somewhere else, he hears tiny footsteps behind him, so he turns around. The torch in his hand momentarily lights up the entire cave dimly when he spins around, and Maui notices a small white pig with black spots following not too far behind him.
"There you are!" He says, and when he goes to pick him up, Pua squeals before taking refuge behind the nearest boat. Taking his torch, Maui approaches the boat and places it down on the boat's deck, careful not to let the flame go anywhere near it. He glances around it and finds Pua cowering in the sand behind the boat, his ears drooping down.
"Hey," Maui calls to him softly, getting down on one knee. "You thought I was Moana, didn't you? You thought she was taking another boat and leaving without telling you, huh?" He asks, and Pua glances up at him, but doesn't move from the spot. Maui stands and takes a step closer, and Pua jumps to his feet.
"Hey, hey" Maui says softly, but then snorts a laugh when he unintentionally calls Pua by the name of Moana's brainless pet chicken. "It's okay. You can trust me. Moana's my friend, too" He says, and as if he understands what he's saying, Pua tilts his head to one side.
"No, I mean it. See?" Maui says, and pushes aside his necklace and holds the torch over the little tattoo of Moana on her little canoe that's resting over his heart. He then places the torch down in the sand. "Moana's been looking for you everywhere" he says, and Pua sits back down. "Do you think you could let me pick you up so I can bring you back to her?" Maui asks, and he could swear that if it were any lighter in the cave that Pua was wagging his little tail like a dog would in response. Taking it as in invitation, Maui approaches the pig, and sure enough, Pua doesn't squirm once when Maui picks him up. Maui quickly turns the torch upside down in the sand to put the flame out, and with Pua in his arm, he approaches the waterfall.
"Alright, now don't go and start acting weird on me" Maui says, and with his free arm, he swings his hook, and in one swift motion transforms into a hawk. He grabs Pua with his claws, who, even though he starts squealing and oinking, surprisingly remains still when Maui takes to the air. He breaks through the waterfall, and then flies up really high in the air to look for Moana. It takes her a moment to find her, but he eventually sees her sitting outside her fale talking to her mother. He waits for a moment, and when he sees Sina walk away, Maui dives down and lands a few feet away from her. Placing Pua down and transforming back into his human form, he mouths the word 'Stay' as he approaches her.
Moana's looking down at the ground, but when he approaches, she looks up at him. She looks much better than she did before. She still looks tired, but at the same time, she doesn't look like she's about to pass out any second. She glances back down at the ground.
"Lose something?" Maui says, smirking as he approaches her. She doesn't respond, and he sits down next to her. He waits another short moment for her to reply, and when she doesn't, he continues. "Because I just found this little guy wandering around the cave of your ancestors" He says, and she shakes her head.
"What are you talking ab…" she starts, and glances up from the ground. When she sees Pua sitting in the sand a few feet away, she immediately jumps to her feet, and Pua, noticing her do this, begins to run to her. She does the same. She then picks him up, and excitedly runs back over to her spot next to Maui.
"No way!" She says as she practically buries her face into Pua's skin. "I thought I lost you! I looked all over for you!" She says, and then she turns her attention back over to Maui. "How on earth did you find him?"
"Well, actually, I was wandering around the cave, uh…" he trails off briefly, not wanting to admit what he had been looking at before he heard Pua's footsteps behind him. "Looking for him, waving a torch around, when all of a sudden I hear these tiny little footsteps and turn to see he's following me"
Moana snorts a laugh. "You thought that was me waving that thing around, didn't you?" She asks Pua, mirroring exactly what Maui had been thinking earlier. She scratches at the top of his head for a moment and then places him on the ground before once again returning her attention to Maui. "Thank you!" she says, and punches him in the arm playfully. "I love you!" she shouts, and Maui smiles.
"You're…." he starts, but then trails off, blinking his eyes rapidly as he processes what Moana just said to him. "You what?" he asks, flabbergasted, and Moana smiles and punches him in the arm again, harder this time.
"I love you!" she repeats, just as casually as she'd said it the first time. "I knew I could count on you to find him for me" she says, and sends another glance down at Pua before jumping up. "I'm gonna go tell the others we found him. I'll be right back" She says, and runs off towards the center of the village with Pua following close behind.
Maui's in complete and total shock. He hadn't heard anyone direct those words at him for a few thousand years, and if was going to be completely honest, he wasn't expecting to hear it for a few thousand more. But Moana, his best friend, had just said it at him so casually, without hesitation, like she was speaking to a member of her own family. The way she smiled when she said it the second time reminded him of how she looked when she told him stories about her distant relatives and childhood friends. She loves me like I'm family. He thinks, and begins to glance around the village. They all do, he thinks, remembering the stones at the top of the mountain and his image on a sail of one of her ancestor's boats. He remembers seeing tapestry of himself in the medical hut a while back when Moana had stepped on a sea urchin bringing a boat in and had to be rushed in there to be checked over for any sign of a poisoning. (There hadn't been, thank gods.). Everyone seemed happy to see him whenever he visited. They all consider me family. He thinks, and smiles when he sees Moana approaching him again. And they're my family, too. He thinks. Every one of them.