A/N: This is a oneshot set just before the end of Episode 2, "Depths of Fear." After Skeleton King's creature is turned to stone, Chiro is shown to be in the swimming hole...swimming... Now, I may be mistaken, but didn't Sprx have to carry Chiro out of the depths after said water situation? And wasn't Chiro dog-paddling on the way down to the Monkey Team just minutes before? So how the heck did he learn to swim so quickly? And besides that, how is Chiro not feeling guilty and brood-ish when his fear was nearly Shuggazoom's downfall? O.o This clears up that stuff, and with any luck does it in a clear and non-cliche way. ('Monkey doodle' and Skeleton King's one line are from the episode.)
Disclaimer: I do not own the serious awesomeness that is SRMTHFG! If I did, you sure as stinkin' heck would have seen a fifth season...or at the very least would have gotten detailed episode summaries. XP The great Ciro Nieli owns this, along with perhaps Jetix in some way, shape, or form.
"You okay up here, kid?" Sprx questions as he finds Chiro sitting atop the Super Robot, looking out over Shuggazoom as his legs dangle and his chin rests in his hands. Becoming concerned when he receives no response, the red monkey settles down beside the boy and takes in his serious expression. "What's wrong?" He smirks the slightest bit. "You look like you just ate some of Antauri's cooking."
The thirteen-year-old grins, albeit wearily. He runs a hand through his unruly black hair before letting it drop, sighing heavily as he stares down at his lap.
"You and the others…" he starts quietly, voice a little raspy after several hours without use; he clenches his eyes shut, "…you almost died today…"
Sprx is shocked at first. This is what's been making the kid act so funny? But then he remembers the type of person Chiro is—so kind, so loving, so selfless—and he can see why something such as this might affect him so deeply.
"But none of us did." Chiro shoots him a look, and Sprx, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly and averting his eyes, is forced to elaborate. "Okay, so maybe it came a little too close for comfort," he fixes the kid with an atypically firm stare, "but we made it out okay. All of us." He smiles and gently elbows the child. "We're proud of you, kid. You faced your fear and saved everybody." He pokes at the boy's heart. "I'd be pretty proud of myself if I were you, not sulking the day away."
It is silent for several moments, and Sprx wonders if somehow in the midst of all of this he's said the wrong thing. He is eyeing the kid intently, about to ask how he can mend whatever's he's done, when Chiro bursts out.
"But that's just it, Sprx!" Chiro cries, his voice stronger now despite the fact that he has begun to tremble, the true force of things coming to the surface. "The whole Team could have died down there, the entire city and everyone in it could have sunk, and a stupid fear held me back!" A few tears trickle down his cheeks, and the boy buries his head in his hands. "I was a coward today, and I almost lost everything I've ever loved because of it." His voice is almost inaudible as he barely manages the next part. "I don't ever want that to happen again…"
Sprx is thunderstruck. The child blames himself for what happened? If it were anyone's fault at all, it was Skeleton King's, but not Chiro's. It would never be his fault.
But the pilot of the Team peers up at the weeping child and realizes he is just that—a boy, no older than thirteen, and yet he's carrying this kind of weight on his young shoulders! And with a heart such as his, it is no wonder that a blunder such as this might torture him so.
"It won't, kid," he assures, though as Chiro's teary, blue eyes communicate, they both know it is a promise he can't possibly keep. But he can sure as heck try. Taking one of Chiro's hands, he squeezes tenderly as his free hand reaches up to rid the boy's face of the liquid diamonds and their salty trails. "You gotta believe me, Chiro, it was not your fault. We were in trouble, and you loved us enough to conquer your fear to save us." He smiles kindly. "That's what's important. Nothing else matters."
Chiro hums softly and looks out at the horizon again. Sprx can smell the doubt that lingers, and he frowns, brow furrowing.
Suddenly, he brightens as an idea strikes him, and he jumps up, tugging on Chiro's hand.
"Come on, kid," he says, voice a mix of mystery and excitement. "I've got an idea."
Chiro complies, curious though reluctant. He's not sure he agrees with the tone in the red monkey's voice, and even more than that, he's not quite ready to face the others just yet.
"What kind of idea?" he asks slowly, only to get a playful smirk in return.
"We're gonna teach you how to swim."
"A-and you're sure I won't drown?" the swim trunks-wearing boy stutters about an hour later, keeping his eyes fixed on the solid ground beneath his feet as he and his Team stand on the edge of the swimming hole.
"Trust us, Chiro," Antauri eases serenely, floating to his pupil's side. "We would never allow it." He smiles warmly, tilts the child's head up with gentle fingers, and receives a small smile in return.
"No worries, Chiro!" Nova reassures from beside them, winking and brandishing her fists. "Nothing will happen to you on our watch!"
"Indeed!" Gibson agrees, nodding, in sync with Otto's enthusiastic "'Course!"
"Thanks, guys," Chiro says, grinning lovingly. "This means a lot to me."
They wave it off and proceed to dive in, Antauri taking the boy in his arms and using his jetpack to lower them into the water.
Chiro tenses, breath hitching, as the water reaches mid-chest, but forces himself to breathe deeply and focus on the feeling of Antauri's protective grip and the others' steady presences surrounding.
"Okay…" he whispers, voice somewhat hoarse as he battles his fear, "…show me what to do."
"The most vital part of the entire lesson," Gibson told him, "is the art of treading water, like so." The blue monkey kicks his legs and fans his arms outward before pulling them back in, all done in a quick and calm fashion.
Chiro watches a moment more, studying his friend's actions closely. Nodding at last for Antauri to release him, he starts kicking and moving his arms to keep himself afloat. After a couple more seconds, when it seems he's gotten the hang of it, a smiling Antauri allows himself to be put on call.
"Next," Otto instructs, "you gotta make like a board and float on the water." He takes a deep breath and lays flat on his stomach, face down in the water as he is suspended for numerous seconds, before popping back up. "Like that! See?"
Chiro's eyes bug, and he shakes his head vehemently. "With my face underwater? I won't be able to breathe! Are you crazy?" He turns his head away, clenching his eyes shut. "N-no way!"
"Chiro," the boy snaps up at Antauri's voice, "the only way to overcome your fear is to face it head-on." Eyes closed tranquilly, he quirks a smile. "You've already taken the first step of your journey by plunging into the water's depths. You must now trust us, your teammates, to help you through to the end."
The thirteen-year-old, knowing his mentor is right, is defeated. "All right…"
Taking a deep breath, he does as Otto demonstrated, face beneath the surface and all.
It is mere moments later when oxygen bubbles burst from the boy and Chiro begins to thrash in his panic. Antauri wraps his tail around the child and rights him; the moment Chiro's head is above the water, he starts to calm.
The thirteen-year-old wipes his waterlogged eyes (wet from both the swimming hole-water and something else entirely) and blinks to see Nova's worried face.
"What happened, Chiro?" the warrior asks, and the boy averts his eyes in shame.
"I…I couldn't breathe… I panicked…"
A tender hand rests on his cheek, and he glances up to see the golden monkey grinning sympathetically.
"Hey," she says quietly, "everybody's afraid of something. Admitting it like this means you're strong," she smirks and socks him in the arm lightly, "but try not to scare us like that again, okay, tough guy?"
He laughs softly, nodding. "I'll do my best."
"Good." She smiles. "Want to try it again?"
He gulps, but musters his courage and gives it another go. This time he keeps himself from becoming frantic by focusing on the unbreakable bond he has with his Team, by focusing on the security they promise.
Coming up a good many seconds later, he opens his eyes to beam at his friends, who smile proudly right back.
"Perfect, Chiro!" Nova praises. "Now, you know how to float, but you can't swim without moving your arms and legs. It's easiest if you start with the arms." Floating on her stomach, she stretches her arms out in front of her, hands forming cups as they drag the water back before reaching out again. Each time she runs out of air, she turns her head alternately left and right just enough to take a deep breath and go back under. When finished, she smiles and says, "Your turn."
Chiro does, allowing his arms to pull the rest of his body along as his feet trail behind. He surfaces and grins shyly at his Team.
"Maybe this swimming thing isn't so bad, after all," he concedes, and the others' hearts warm. He was catching on so quickly, and everything was going so well…! Perhaps Antauri and his prophecy were right…perhaps this was the Chosen One…!
"Okay, kid," Sprx prompts, "you ready for this?"
Chiro beams and nods confidently. "You bet!"
Sprx allows pride to fill him. This radiant child, who just an hour prior had been a mess, had been absolutely terrified of the water and everything it held for him, is forcing back his fear with them at his side, the only ones he trusts enough to help him overcome this.
"This is the better half of what Nova showed you: the legs." He smirks and wiggles his eyebrows at the warrior monkey, who smacks him upside the head. Rubbing the offending area, he grins all the same before turning back to Chiro. "Do exactly what Nova taught you, but don't forget to kick."
Following the advice, the teen finds himself moving through the water at an accelerated speed and makes a comical show of swimming a crazy-eight between them. All laugh as he breaks the surface, though after several seconds Antauri makes a point of clearing his throat.
"There is one last bridge for you to cross, Chiro," the black monkey tells, and the child quirks an eyebrow. "Learn to swim while entirely submerged."
Chiro pales just slightly before his eyes take on a decisive gleam. "I'm ready."
"It's pretty much the same thing," Otto assures. "You just move your arms a little less like windmills and more like you're drawin' a circle in the sand."
Chiro grins amusedly, takes a deep breath, and goes under. Doing as Otto said, he glides through the water effortlessly. He stays down for as long as he can stand before swimming up to the surface, his friends embracing him.
No matter what happened before, this is undoubtedly one of the best days of his life.
He has beaten this fear of his once and for all. He has vanquished it at last, never to be seen again, and even Skeleton King's words—"Wherever there is fear, you will find me, boy!"—no longer affect him.
For he is Chiro of Shuggazoom's Hyperforce, swimmer and fighter and wielder of the Power Primate.
He and his Monkey Team overcome any and all obstacles.
As a family.
A/N: I've never written anything like this (the whole 'teaching someone how to swim' thing), so if it sucks or there are phrases repeated too many times, etc...sorry. XP
Thanks for reading, as always!