It's been so long I don't even know what to say. You know how muses are. One day you've got it good and the next, just gone. I tried so hard for all these months trying to get it back and I think I might be onto something. Over the past few days I have been writing, for KND, and liking it, which is great seeing as I was the happiest when I was writing for you people. You're all really nice. And while I was planning on posting a different story before, this one got finished quicker and I'm just too excited to wait. It was sitting on my desktop for this long, just kind of lifeless. I rewrote it and finished it, although I'm a little iffy on the way it ended. After all these months of no KND writing, I've gotten a little rusty. Regardless, I'm hoping that you all enjoy some 4/5 friendship (my favorite) and honestly hope there's more to come soon enough. I would have posted this two days ago but Fanfiction wasn't cooperating. I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you again. Happy reading! :)
Disclaimer: This is fanfiction. Are disclaimers really necessary?
"I don't know if this is such a good idea, anymore..."
Abby sighed. Out of all things possible in the world, she should have expected this. Of course, perhaps some part of her did, since it was about the fifteenth time it had occured but for his sake, she'd try to believe he would pull through with it. He didn't, of course. He took an unsure step away from the pool of water and shook his head. He was giving up. Again.
She didn't understand, since he had been the one to approach her about it in the first place. Sure, Nigel had pestered him to take lessons, and it would definitely come in handy during water-related missions but the boy was just terrified of the water, and while she could understand it, she did not like how difficult it made things.
If they were at the beach, it would be an entirely different situation. He'd be fine splashing in the shallow water. Not venturing out too far, equipped with his floaties, he had absolutely no problem with any of it. But pools on the other hand, not his favorite. And seeing as she had ordered him to dump the floaties ("If you wanna learn how to swim forreals, you gotta ditch the floaties"), he was a little more than out of his comfort zone.
"Come on Numbuh Four," she called, trying to sound as calm as she could. She rested her arms on the side of the pool and squinted her eyes at the blazing sun. "You gotta face your fears."
"But I don't wanna face my fears," he grumbled in response. "I'm afraid of 'em."
Abby rolled her eyes, using her best effort to stop the impending smirk before it could reach her face. Sure, it was a little displeasing how she was already in his pool, again, ready to go and get on with everything. She honestly didn't mind taking a little swim herself, especially on such a hot midwestern summer day like this one, but she had come over for him, and she was not happy that he was being just as difficult as the last time. Every time they planned to have a swimming lesson, he had acted as if he were ready to get in the water and finally get it over with. But when the time came, he always came up with an excuse of some sort, to get himself out of the situation. Then came the weak promise, "Next time, for sure."
It was just a waste of time, and it was obvious that the boy was sorry about that, but there was a part of him somewhere that would not allow him to get any closer. Numbuh One had insisted that if Wally did not suck it up and let someone teach him, he throw him into a pool and he would have to learn to swim to save himself. Wally of course had taken this as a joke, though afterwards he did keep quite vigilant. He knew he needed to learn, and he truly wanted to. He'd always been envious when his friends came over to his house to use his pool. He would sit on the sidelines and only imagine that he could join in the fun. But he couldn't think of one good experience he'd ever had with water, and frankly, he didn't think he ever would.
"Numbuh Five knows you did not make her get into the pool for nothing."
"Not for nothing," he countered slyly. "You go ahead and cool off. Have fun."
"Boy!" She tsked, using her arm to send a quick splash! of water in his direction, before he could make his hasty escape. The boy took a few steps backwards after the impact and frowned, but Abby was not going to buy into anything today. "Get in the water, foo!"
"Not with that attitude, I won't," He huffed, jokingly. He gave her a quick shake of the head and turned, eyes locked on the back door. "You want something to drink? My mum made lemonade."
It was days like this the boy was grateful for his mother. The sun had beat down viciously all day, although it seemed to be cooling off now, which came to them as a great relief. Still, the prospect of a fresh beverage was a great means of stalling, and he was craving some like the dickens. Probably more because he didn't want to get into the Pool of Death, but whatever.
"Lemonade sounds great," she agreed. "And we can get some after you get into the pool."
"Look, Numbuh Five. I don't wanna get in the pool," he exhaled, turning back to her. "I know that, you know that. I know we both know that. And I know you don't want to stay in there all day all by yourself, so, since we both don't really wanna do this, how about we just forget about it then?"
"Forget about it?" She repeated, as if she were actually considering it. Then, "Hm. Nah-ah, foo. You're gonna learn how to swim and you're gonna learn right now."
He raised his eyebrows at her, warily. "Don't you wanna come in and drink some lemonade, maybe bake some cookies? Watch a movie? Maybe play some Rock Band?"
"Now," she continued, as if never interuppted. "Numbuh Five suggests you get into this pool because she don't really wanna get out and drag you in here herself. Which she will do, if need be."
Unfortunately, Wally did not doubt her words in the slightest. It was for that very reason he unconsciously took an instinctive step closer to the edge of the water. She wasn't entirely sure what had him so scared. Sure, getting into a pool of water was risky when one didn't know how to swim, but it wasn't as if he was going in alone. There must have been a story behind it all, and she was curious to know, but she wasn't planning on pushing him any further than necessary.
"What are you so afraid of, anyway?" She asked him, as he walked over to the steps.
She rolled her eyes at his answer. "Don't worry. It's not like Numbuh Five's gonna let anythin' happen to you. Now, hurry up. Numbuh Five's gonna start shrivelling up like a prune and she don't like that."
"I'm going, I'm going," he growled. "Geeze."
He stood there in his trunks, staring all five feet of water down as if it were his mortal enemy. Why couldn't he have just gotten over this years ago, like the others had?
In case there was any little hope left, he tried. "Are you sure we ca-"
"Get in," she ordered. She motioned towards the set of steps leading into the pool, and nodded. The Aussie shot her a quick, rather harmless glare at her lack of patience, but obliged anyway. He reached the steps, grabbed at the metal railing like it was the only thing that he could draw comfort from and took an all too careful step into the chilly water. There was some relief, mostly due to the fact that it was probably 90 degrees out, but he tried to ignore it. It could lead up to something quite enjoyable, had he the ability to actually enjoy any of it. As far as either of them were concerned, there would be very little joy coming out of this experience.
As he eased his way down the few steps, excruciatingly slow, he glanced at his friend. She appeared in front of him and held out her hand for him to take, but he did nothing but stare at it as if he knew she was going to drag him beneath the water and drown him then and there.
"Come on," she urged. "You'll be fine."
"Easy for you to say, Mrs. I-Know-How-To-Swim," he sardonically remarked, reaching for her hand. His other was still clinging onto the railing for dear life. Abigail knew very well he was only attempting to joke to keep his mind (and very possibly hers as well) off the fact that he was horrendously terrified, not that she could blame him or anything since she probably would have done the same thing herself were she in his position. But the first step in teaching Wallabee Beetles to swim was the get him comfortable enough in water to even try. It was the farthest they had come all afternoon, and ever, for that matter.
"All right," Abby mused, gently tugging her friend away from the steps. "If you're gonna swim, you gotta let go of the handrail."
She knew she was testing dangerous water here. As soon as he let go of the railing, she would become his one and only lifeline. She sympathized for pushing him into emotional discomfort but it was the only way they could make progress, and she was dead set on doing just that, whether he liked it or not. He would thank her in the end.
He hesitantly (very, very hesitantly) released the handrail and instantly replaced it with her arm, gripping it just as tightly, if not more. She noticed his green eyes wide, alert, and betraying just how nervous he was. She could almost hear his heart beating wildly in his chest. For some reason, she couldn't help but laugh.
"Would you just relax?"
"No, I won't just relax," he retorted bitterly. "You have someone pull you into a giant pool of evil and tell you to just relax. It's not gonna happen!"
"Okay, okay." She sighed, "Sorry. Sorry. Just calm down. You're doing fine."
"Good," he mumbled, unenthusiasticly. "So now that I've actually gotten into the water, we've made some massive progress, huh? Cool. We can, uh, we can just pick up where we left off next week if you want."
"Shh. You're in, let's just get this over with, okay?" She answered, pushing off the wall and leading them a little farther away from the safety of the steps. He seemed incredibly taunted by this, for as soon as he realized they were moving, he all but dug his nails into her arm and tensed up as if he was in a full body cast.
"Whoa, whoa. Wait. What are you doing?"
"Ow! We're just moving over so we have some more room," she replied. "Would you let go of me, please? Numbuh Five would like it if you didn't slice her arm clean off, thank you very much."
"No way!" He shook his head. "I'm not letting go of you."
"Not all the way, you moron," she told him, grabbing one of his hands and loosing his grip. He readjusted his hand soon after she was done, but this time he had the decency to leave his nails out of it. She motioned to the other and he did the same.
"Thank you," she mumbled. "Geeze, you're like a cat. Worse than a cat, actually, since cats can't scream in your ear."
"Serves you right for trying to kill me," he retorted. "Now take me back, please. I want to go back. I don't wanna do this swimming thing anymore. I just want to get out."
"We haven't even done anything yet."
"Well, let's keep it that way then. Please? Just take me back, I want to get out."
"Wally, please." She mused, slipping his real name in for good measure. "Ain't nothin' bad gonna happen, all right? Abby won't let it. Now you're here, let's just get this done so we can get out of here and go get some of that lemonade. Okay? Now, loosen up a little bit because you look like a stick figure and there's no way anybody can swim like that."
He grumbled something non-intelligent under his breath and sighed.
"Good. Now, it's just water. All right? You ain't got nothin' serious to be scared about."
"Well, excuse me for not wanting to drown!" He spat. "It's a very unpleasant thing and I don't wanna do it. Now seeing since I can't swim, there's no reason for me to be in a pool, except for drowning, which I'm not going to do, now is there? Therefore, we need to get out of here now."
"Fine," she lamented. "You wanna get out of the pool, go ahead. Nobody's stopping you."
She loosened her grip on his forearms and boredly motioned towards the exit of the pool. From that distance, the steps looked incredibly daunting, and as much as his fight was disappointing to her, it wasn't as if she hadn't expected it. If he truly wanted out, then he could have it. But she wasn't going to aid him in this. She wanted him to stay, and if he wanted her help, he was going to do just that. He obviously understood what she was doing because the second she suggested it, he exploded.
"Are you crazy? !" he demanded. "Have you totally, completely lost your cruddy mind? I can't swim over there!"
"Well, then you better learn right now so you can."
"You're not gonna trick me into anything, if that's what you're trying to do, Numbuh Five!" He told her, tugging on her hopelessly. If she didn't comply with his demands, he might just start throwing punches. "Now, take me over there and let me out of this stupid pool! I don't want to do this anymore."
"You can get over there yourself. It's not that far."
"Did you even hear me? I don't want to do this! I don't care about cruddy swimming, okay? I can't do it, end of story. I won't. Let me out of here, and let's just forget that anything ever happened, okay? Please!"
"You need to calm down. If you truly want out, then get out of the pool. But Numbuh Five's stayin' right here."
"Please," he pleaded to her. "Please, I'm begging you! Don't make me swim. I'll die."
"You ain't gonna die," she laughed, trying to seem unphazed by his pleading. Honestly, it disturbed her how riled up he was getting over this, but she knew if she let him out she would never see him in again. He needed to learn for his own good, and she knew it was up to her. God knew how awful it would be if they ended up in water again on a mission and he hadn't anyone there to help him. For his sake, and for everyone's sake, it was the only thing he really needed.
"I am gonna die! 'Less you help me over there. I know what you're trying to do, okay? You're gonna just let me go and make me swim over there myself and then I'm gonna drown, and you're gonna shake your head all disappointed like you actually expected me to do something. There will be no surprises here! I can't swim, Numbuh Five, so I'm not even going to try it. Not even I'm that stupid! And that whole, learn to swim to save yourself thing, it doesn't work. So please don't even try it on me, okay? I don't wanna die here. I really don't."
"You ain't gonna die," she repeated. "God, listen to yourself. What's wrong with you? Numbuh Five says nothin' bad's gonna happen, nothin' bad's gonna happen. Now Numbuh Five won't let you go, as long as you behave and actually try to be productive for once. So just be quiet and listen."
Wally did as he was told.
"Good, thank you. Now," she began, pushing him towards the side of the pool. "Numbuh Five's taking you over to the wall there, but that don't mean we're getting out of here just yet. We're gonna use it to practice. You try to make a run for it and Numbuh Five will drag you back in here until you do things right. You got that?"
"Yes, ma'am," Wally grumbled.
"Cool," she smirked. "Now, let go of me and hold onto the wall." He did just that, and she continued, following his example. "Good. Now, what we're gonna do is practice our kickin', okay? 'Cause that's an important thing to know when you actually want to get somewhere in the water."
"Holy crud. Did you see that?"
"Numbuh Five saw that," she nodded.
"Ha! I was swimming there for a second, wasn't I? Did you see me?" He questioned, enthusiasticly. "Holy crud! I totally just swam from over there! I did do it, didn't I? You saw me do it."
Abby laughed. "Yeah, you did it. You're the champion."
"Heck yes I'm the champeen," he agreed. Although he'd only made it as far as a few feet, it was definitely progress. Just the feeling of massive accomplishment from this was enough to get him ecstatic. He'd actually done it! He'd actually survived being in the water by himself. Of course, he had someone there to catch him if something went horribly wrong, but as far as he was concerned, it was the best day of his life. "I can't believe I just did that."
"That's what happens when you apply yourself," Abby joked. "You might wanna try that with your schoolwork."
"I'm a natural!" he decided, ignoring her comment, partly because he hadn't heard a word of it.
"Whatever you say, Numbuh Four." She shook her head and playfully shoved him towards the steps. "Now let's get out of this pool and get dried off. Numbuh Five's toes are so pruney they're about to fall off."
"I mean, I knew I had it in me but I never thought I'd be so good at it," he went on, as he climbed out of the pool of water absent mindedly. "It's like I was made for this whole swimming thing! Like God made a mistake and made me, I don't know, part duck."
"Part duck? Okay, let's not get crazy here." Abby laughed, smacking her friend on the back. "You did good, Numbuh Five will admit to that. Numbuh Five's proud of you. But you ain't no duck."
"I'm not so sure about that," he told her, grabbing his towel and making his way towards the back door. "I do really like bread more than I should. And I am kind of small, now that I think of it." It was amazing he was admitting it himself. "Ducks are small. I mean, not when you compare them to most other birds but to the majority of the animal kingdom, like crocs and stuff like that, yeah. Ducks are pretty small."
"Okay, duck-boy." She chuckled, smacking him over the head with her towel. "Just hurry up and dry your feathers off, would ya. Numbuh Five's got her heart set on a big glass of lemonade."