Mermaid Dreams

A Pushing Daisies fic by Gigi

Disclaimer: I don't own Pushing Daisies.

Chapter 3: Rubber Gloves

A/N: So I'm really ashamed of myself. I haven't updated this in two years. I'm sorry! I'm going to try to finish this. I promise! Wish me luck!

Ned was sitting alone in his storage room, surrounded by all his dead fruit, reminders of what had gotten him in this position in the first place.

The one thing Ned despised above all else was a love triangle. He never enjoyed them while watching TV, nor while reading a book. He definitely didn't enjoy them when his friends tried to make him decide for them. And now, here he was, stuck right in the middle of one.

"I'm screwed," Ned moaned, banging the back of his head on the door.

Suddenly, the door opened and sent Ned sprawling on the ground as Olive said, "Hello?" She looked down at the now lying down Ned. "Ned, what are you doing here?"

Ned couldn't speak. He was too mortified to look away from what he could see just by looking straight up. His head had fallen right in front of Olive's long, lean legs, and that meant he could see up her short green dress.

"Ned!" Olive barked, squatting down to gently slap his cheek, making sure he was conscious. "Ned, you there?"

Shaking himself out of his stupor, Ned bolted so he was standing and prayed his cheeks weren't flushed again. "Yeah, Olive, I'm…I'm just fine," he insisted. "I think I have to go make a delivery. I'll see you later." Still avoiding eye contact, he rushed past the petite blonde waitress and grabbed his rubber gloves, which were resting on the counter next to the sink.

"Um, Ned?" Olive's high-pitched voice halted the tall pie maker in his tracks, just a few feet away from his freedom.

He refused to turn around. "Yes, Olive?"

"Why do you need rubber gloves to make a pie delivery?"

Ned glanced down at the offending yellow gloves in his hands. With a forced chuckle, he turned around and tried to look as innocent as possible as he let another lie trip off his tongue. "The guy who ordered it is kind of a germophobe. This is the only way he agrees to eat the pie."

Olive cocked her head to the side. Was it just her imagination, or did Ned's voice just go up an octave? "Okay," she accepted, dazed. Something was off about him. As Ned slipped on the gloves and walked out of the room, Olive followed him quietly. She watched as he grabbed Chuck away from having just served a customer and gently drag her to the back of the shop.

Ever so softly, Olive tiptoed just close enough so she could hear their conversation, hiding just around the corner of a brick wall. She noticed Ned was still wearing his rubber gloves as he tenderly gripped Chuck's bare wrist. So he still can't touch her, she thought to herself. Is she really that allergic to him?

"Ned, what's wrong?" she heard Chuck ask.

"Why are your aunts ordering pies from here?" Ned just short of demanded.

Olive saw Chuck stiffen in surprise, a feeling Olive herself mirrored. How did Ned know? "How'd you find out?" Chuck nearly echoed Olive's thoughts.

"I found the box waiting to go out underneath the counter," Ned stated. "Why is Olive so close to them?" Olive froze, holding her breath.

"What?"

"There was a…picture of Olive attached to the box," he confessed. "It was of her dressed as a mermaid, and she had written some cheerful note along with it to help inspire them." Chuck shifted nervously on her feet. "What is she trying to inspire them to do?"

"I just want them to be happy again, Ned," Chuck pleaded. "Olive is doing me a favor by trying to get them back in the water again."

"But why?" Ned pressed. If Olive didn't know any better, she'd go so far as to say Ned looked…frazzled.

"Because they've been holed up in that house with nothing but their own misery since I died!" Chuck burst out, causing Olive eyes to widen to an impossible size. It was a miracle she managed to control the gasp that threatened to burst from her at that moment. She didn't sound as if she had faked her death, which was what Olive had been lead to believe. Chuck sounded as if she really did die. Chuck was dead? How did that work? "I needed them to move on and be happy again. They cared for me so much, and I can't bear to watch them waste away. Olive is helping me with that."

"Fine, but did she really have to dress up like that to do it?" he persisted in a strangled voice. Unbidden, the vision of Olive in a revealing mermaid's outfit rose up in his mind, causing a very noticeable blush to flood his cheeks.

Chuck definitely saw that. She stepped back and crossed her arms in a considering manner. "That's what this is about," she observed. Olive's hand clenched on the brick in front of her. Ned was freaking out like this over her?

"What do you mean?" Ned's eyes flickered away from Chuck's guiltily as he shoved his gloved hands in his front pockets. He seemed almost caged.

"Ned, do you like Olive?" Chuck asked delicately, sending Olive's heart thumping and her stomach all the way up into her throat.

"Chuck, you're my girlfriend," he insisted.

"That wasn't my question."

Ned looked lost. Finally, he dropped his head and made his confession to the ground. "Lately, I've been feeling…something…for Olive," he admitted. Olive's heart stopped at hearing those words. "I don't know what, if it's just attraction or something deeper. But I don't want her to quit, and I don't want to lose you. I…just don't know what to do about any of it."

Olive didn't hear whatever Chuck said in response. She was too busy running away as quietly as possible. She kept it up until she was in the back storage room, not paying any attention to the fact that dead fruit surrounded her. She slid down to the floor with her back against the door and took deep, slow breaths.

Ned had a thing for her. Ned very possibly liked her. A smile bloomed on the blonde's face, a brighter and more ecstatic smile than she's ever had before. All hope was not lost on Operation: Ned + Olive. No, his overheard confession just made Olive feel like she could fly to the moon and back.

A/N: So I tried to make it a little longer to make up for my abysmal updating habits. I really do hope to finish this, so please, if you liked it, REVIEW!