Hello readers! I have no notes, except that as usual, my story turned out longer than I'd planned. I could've made it all one super-long chapter, but I'm trying NOT to do that anymore, and so...it shall be two chapters! Still meant to be just a short, cute little story.
Linda yelped as her new sunhat flew off, blowing away with the intense breeze. She scrabbled to save the only layer of protection between her and the merciless Brazilian sun, just managing to grab onto the edge of the straw hat before it could float through the wind and into the water.
"Tulio!" she cried. "Slow down!"
"What? Why?" the ornithologist called back. The rushing wind whipped his words away, leaving only the echo of his question for Linda to decipher.
Luckily, she didn't have a problem with it, as she was sitting behind him and was able to catch the gist of his shouts. "My hat just fell off! And you're going to hit something!"
"Linda dear, it's the open ocean!" Tulio yelled, turning around to face his girlfriend. "It's not like driving, there's nothing else I can possibly hit out here!"
"Yes, we're on a boat."
"YOU'RE GOING TO HIT A BOAT!"
Tulio faced forward again to see a yacht about 10 feet in front of him. He yelped and twisted the wheel hard to the right. The speedboat veered, almost tipping the entire company inside. Although they missed the yacht, Tulio had managed to steer the boat straight into a wave from another motorboat, rocking their own and sending Linda and Fernando to the floor. The sides of the wave sprayed up from impact, falling into the boat like rain and dousing everyone inside.
Tulio slowed down and stopped, leaving the boat bobbing in the water. He looked sheepishly at his girlfriend and adopted son. "That boat came out of nowhere."
"And that is why we stayed on land today," Blu said assertively, pointing at the speedboat in the middle of the ocean rocking back and forth on the waves. "Speedboats go dangerously fast, and they hit waves, and then they get holes and they capsize."
"What? It's made to go on the water. Waves aren't going to drill holes into the bottom and sink it!" Nico yelled from behind the sandcastle he and Pedro were building. "That would be a horribly made boat."
"We mostly just didn't want to be in a boat that Tulio insisted on driving," Jewel said flatly, lying on the sand with Abelina.
"That's a fair point."
"But to pass up on a speedboat ride?" Pedro asked incredulously. "That would have been so cool!"
"Yes. Yes it would've been." Jewel shot a glance towards Blu.
"It's a boat that rises almost all the way up from the water! How is that safe?" Blu yelled.
"Because it's meant to do that."
"It's meant to be dangerous?"
Jewel rolled her eyes. "You are such a scaredy-cat."
"You're comparing me to a cat? I resent that."
"Papa, you're scared of everything," Javier said glumly. "I wanted to go on the boat ride…"
"Excuse me for keeping my family safe."
"Even Rey wanted to go."
Rey scowled. "What do you mean even Rey?"
"You're like Papa, you're scared of everything."
"Guys, how about we rephrase 'scaredy-cat' to 'family protector'?" Blu asked his sons.
Nico and Pedro chuckled from behind their castle. By now, the turrets and walls were a rather impressive height, blocking both birds from view.
"Do you find something funny?" Blu asked, going up to the castle threateningly, although he couldn't see either of the birds laughing.
"You worry too much, Tyler!"
Blu glowered at Nico's use of his full name. "You can't hide forever," he said, poking the surprisingly thick sand wall that surrounded the fortress.
"You can't get us in the castle, Tyler!" Nico sang.
"Just watch me! Um…Nic…Nicholas!"
"Nice try, but Nico's not short for anything!"
"What? Yeah it is," Pedro said.
"No it's not." Nico spoke a little too quickly for anyone to believe him.
"Blu—" Pedro was cut off by furious scuffling sounds that strongly suggested Nico was trying desperately to cover Pedro's mouth. "BLU!" the cardinal shouted over the noise. "IT'S SHORT FOR NICHOLAI!"
Blu started laughing. "Like the Russian czar?"
Nico roughly shoved Pedro outside the protective wall. "You are no longer allowed inside the castle."
"What? But it's cool in there! I want to come back in," the cardinal whined.
"You should have thought of that before you betrayed me."
Blu was still laughing. "Aw, don't start a revolution, Nicholai."
"Shut up, Tyler!"
"Don't send your royal Russian guards after me."
Nico screamed in frustration and remained behind his wall as Pedro and Blu snickered.
Blu was about to take another dig at the sulking canary when Javier shouted, "WOW! Papa, look at that!"
Everyone glanced towards the water, where Javier was gesturing. Another speedboat, a little ways away from Tulio, Linda, and Fernando's, was speeding along at about 30 miles per hour, bouncing over the waves. But behind the speedboat, ricketing in its wake, was a little round thing carrying a person.
"What is that?"
"Oh, that person's tubing," Pedro explained. "You hook up an inner tube to a boat and then just ride it."
"It looks awesome," Javier cooed, eyes wide with awe.
"Mama, look at how fast it's going!" Abelina said, nudging her mother's shoulder.
"I see," Jewel replied.
Just then, the tube hit a wave particularly hard, propelling the tuber off his rubber water vehicle and into the churning waves.
"It looks dangerous," Blu stated.
The tuber popped up from the water, waving towards the speedboat, which turned around and brought the tube back.
"Nah, he's fine," Pedro said. "Look, he's goin' back on."
The tuber had indeed climbed back onto his tube, flashing the thumbs-up sign to the people in the speedboat. They waved back and started the boat again, pulling the tube behind them.
"Papa, can we do that?" Javier asked.
"But it looks like so much fun!"
"Besides the obvious danger factor, there's no way we could. A human speedboat and a human tube are too big."
Javier hung his head glumly. Rey and Abelina looked equally defeated.
Nico peeked out from behind the sandcastle and went to stand next to Blu. "I think I know a way," he suggested.
"That's insane," Blu said, directing his reprimand at Nico and Pedro, who had returned to their spot on the beach with three tiny black tubes covered in gray tape.
"No it's not! The pillow worked perfectly!" Nico exclaimed.
"And we had no problem getting it out of Tulio's office," Pedro said, smirking and pointing with his thumb at the humans' speedboat still floating on the water.
Jewel scrutinized the makeshift tubes. "I didn't even know Tulio had one of those butt-pillow things..."
"Well you obviously aren't very observant."
"This really just raises more questions than answers…"
Seeing Blu's skeptical look, Nico jumped into an explanation. "All we did was cut the pillow into three separate pieces. Then we covered the holes."
"Yeah, with duct tape."
"Duct tape is the strongest thing known to man and bird alike," Nico defended.
"Fine, what about handholds?"
"We stuck toothpicks in it." Nico gestured towards he and Pedro's handiwork excitedly.
"…that is so dangerous."
"Aw, come on!" Pedro cried, kicking up sand. "The kids want to go."
Javier, Rey, and Abelina nodded emphatically, aiming their pleading eyes up at their father.
"There's no way to pull them anyway." Blu clung to this hope desperately.
"Oh, isn't there?" Nico's eyes gleamed as he turned to the right, where four seagulls were chatting a few yards away. "OI! GUYS!"
They turned and recognized Nico and Pedro, waving furiously. They flew over, and Nico introduced the seagulls, Pablo, Hugo, Louis, and Jorge, to the Blue Macaws.
"Listen, guys, we got a favor to ask ya," Pedro said.
He pointed onto the water, where a tuber whooped as he sped across the waves. "We made tubes. Now we need something to make them go. If we found some rope, do you think you guys could pull the kids?"
Pablo glanced at the water. "Oh yeah. I think we could manage."
"NICE! We'll pay you," Pedro said.
"…I don't know. But we'll pay you."
Pablo laughed. "All right. This'll be fun."
The kids whooped, sheer delight replacing the disappointment from a mere hour ago.
"Wait wait WAIT," Blu said. "I never gave my permission!"
The disappointment returned. "Please, Papa?" they begged as one.
"Riding at high speeds on a flimsy tube made from a butt-pillow and duct tape? No!"
Water started to well up in all three of the children's eyes.
"Guys, it's too danger—"
"Oh, Blu, lighten up," Jewel broke in. "It's not as dangerous as you're making it out to be. Why can't they go?"
"Not as dangerous? Are you kidding?"
"No. They'll be fine. Right, kids?" She turned to the children, who had bounced back to the positive end of the emotional spectrum.
"You just have to promise to be careful. And I mean really careful."
Blu sidled over to Jewel. "Jewel—"
"Blu, the gulls will be gentle. They're not going to fly as fast as they possibly can just to knock the kids off. The tubes look fine, they can swim, and you usually worry too much. Let them do something for once."
Blu looked unsure.
"If it helps, I won't go too fast and I won't go too deep," Pablo offered.
Blu still looked unsure. Jewel gently kissed his cheek. "For me?"
"Fine…" he muttered.
"AWWWWWWW," Nico and Pedro cooed simultaneously.
Blu glared at the duo. They retreated back to their sandcastle. The kids, on the other hand, bounced right up to their parents screaming thank you's and general proclamations of the high quality of their parenting.
Ten minutes later, the kids were situated on a makeshift tube each, waving to everyone on the shore. Rope had been found, one end taped to each of the three tubes and the other ends tied tightly around Pablo's feet. Pablo, who had assured he could pull all three tiny children on his own, waded in the water, waiting for the okay signal.
Blu gulped as the kids gave the thumbs-up. Pablo flapped his wings, sending him into the air and the water behind him into small waves that swelled beneath the tubes. The kids giggled, grabbing hold of the toothpicks and balancing on their knees.
Pablo gained speed, and so did the tubes. Whoops and hollers sounded as the Blue Macaws sped across the water, clearly enthralled with their new physical pastime.
"See Blu? Everything's going okay," Jewel comforted.
"MAMA! PAPA! LOOK AT ME!" Javier cried, letting go of the toothpicks. He didn't balance long, and he promptly fell off when he hit a small wave.
"JAVIER!" Blu yelled, almost diving into the water to go rescue his son. Jewel grabbed his arm.
"Blu, he's fine! See?"
Javier had popped up from beneath the water and was waving to his parents to let them know he was all right. Pablo slowed down and turned, guiding the tube back to the floating chick. Javier scrambled back on while the seagull hovered in mid-air, flashed the thumbs-up, and Pablo started flying again.
Blu exhaled, relief visibly etched over his features.
Nico leaned against his friend. "See? Nothin' to worry about."
"Those tubes of yours better hold up, Nicholai."
Nico frowned at Blu, then turned lethally towards Pedro. "Why did you tell him my full name?"
"I didn't know it was a secret."
Blu looked to Jewel and the couple shared a silent laugh. It was nice to hear the friends in a nonchalant argument when last week they had gotten into the worst fight their friendship had ever weathered. A prank war between the two had spiraled out of control, ending with hurt feelings on both ends and a lot of drama (mostly on Nico's part). Although they were closer than ever now, it had taken flying through a sky of fireworks and thwarting a monkey attack on The Branch to return their friendship to its normal indomitable state. Blu could still see the singe marks on the two's feathers, and was very glad they had decided to seek medical attention the day after their fight, even though the humans had said the worst the cardinal and the canary had suffered were bruised bones, and in Nico's case, a raspy cough that had lasted a week.
The canary in question had somehow managed to craft a sandball out of the sand on the beach and was now hurling it at Pedro. Pedro ducked, scooped up sand to make his own, and threw it back at the canary. Nico ran to the side and returned yet another. The fight continued for a few minutes, both birds yelling insults at each other across the beach. It promptly ended when Pedro ducked from one of Nico's sandballs, leaving their sandcastle exposed. The ball of sand continued past Pedro and connected solidly with the castle.
The wall disintegrated, leaving a gaping hole in what had otherwise been an architectural masterpiece.
Nico and Pedro stared at the collapse dumbly for a second. Then it registered.
"NICO! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"
Nico and Pedro ran to their sandcastle, trying desperately to scoop up the remnants of the wall to construct anew.
"Why did you DUCK?" Nico shouted accusingly.
"Because you were throwing a sandball at me! LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO OUR BEAUTIFUL CASTLE!"
"I'm a monster!" Nico lamented as he tearfully let the sand from the walls of the castle sift through his fingers.
Blu struggled to keep his laughter to a minimum as he turned again to Jewel, who wasn't even trying to hide her loud laughter.
"Too bad Rafael's kids got sick," Blu snorted. "He would love this."
"He'd like to see the kids tubing, too."
Blu turned back to the water. Oh yeah. His children were fighting certain death.
Actually, they didn't look to be in too much danger. On the contrary, they were shouting gleefully, and so far only Javier had fallen off.
"Well…at least they seem to be staying on all right," he admitted.
"Rey has fallen off, like, three times."
"WHAT? When was this?"
"While you were watching the generals over there duke it out with sand."
Blu grimaced. Nico and Pedro, who were now practically crying in the remains of their demolished sandcastle, had proved to be a rather effective distraction.
"And yet," Jewel continued. "Rey is still alive."
Well…there was that.
Jewel saw his still anxious expression. "Blu, they're going to be fine. They've been fine."
"Let's just see if it stays that way."
It stayed that way. About an hour later, Pablo flew the kids in. Both the seagull and the children were exhausted. All four of them nearly collapsed on the beach.
"Nice work, kids," Pablo said, offering his wing for a high five. All three slapped his hand, and he laughed. "You guys are light, but man, that was tiring."
Jewel smiled as her kids ran up to her.
"Did you see me, Mama?"
"Yes, Javier. You were impressive."
"Papa, Papa! That was so much fun!"
"I'm just glad you're okay, Abelina…"
Pablo pulled the tubes in from the water, disconnecting the rope from his feet. "We ready to pull these in?"
Blu nodded affirmatively, but Nico and Pedro quickly shouted and ran in front of him.
"Um…do you think we could have a go?"
And now the fun begins. Reviews are much appreciated.