Rikki stood up suddenly, staring at me angrily.
When I didn't answer the first time, she asked again.
"What are you doing here, Zane?"
"I…uh…I wanted to tell you something?" I asked. It came out like a question.
"You came to the moon pool just to tell me something?" she asked in disbelief.
"Yeah?" I responded hesitantly. She rolled her eyes. Okay, at least that meant I wasn't about to be roasted alive. She was glaring at me. She was so cute when she was mad. Well, cuter when it is not directed at me. A few moments must have passed.
"Well?" Rikki demanded.
"Uh…" Why was my brain not working coherently? Her eyebrows lifted. "I have some good news." I started.
"This better be good," she muttered.
"I'm going to be able to save our café," I said with a smile. Her glare lessened in its icy degree. She was surprised.
"That's good," she frowned. "But it's your café. Not mine."
My heart sank a little.
"I still don't see why you had to invade Mako to tell me this," she continued.
"Why? I thought with the amount of effort you invested in it, you'd want to know its fate," I replied. "I know you care." Something shifted in her expression. Just a flicker, but I noticed. I looked around the cavern briefly. When I looked back at her face, she was no longer glaring. She had a blank, yet sad expression on her face.
"So how did you get the money?" she asked after a short time.
"I used my charm," I smirked. She lifted her eyebrows. Right, not time for joking.
"Sorry," I took a breath. "I begged my Dad again. In exchange for something, he'd give me the money."
She looked warily at me.
"In exchange for what?"
"I promised I'd go and study business," I replied.
"You're going to study?" she asked in disbelief. I nodded in response.
"Long story short, he can afford to get us back on our feet again, so I played the image card. He values image, and what would it say about him if his son worked in a socially low-classed job?" I grinned. I saw a smirk playing on Rikki's lips. "I just have to study. I'll still have to work out studying and managing the café and everything that comes with that balance, but yeah."
"Wow. That'll be hard," Rikki commented. I nodded.
"I'll have to work hard, but maybe it will be good for me?" I smiled at her. "Do you know what you're going to do this coming year?"
"I'm not sure…I've always been interested in…no, it's silly. It's a fantasy," Rikki stopped, folding her arms. "Who am I kidding," she muttered.
"Do you think that you wouldn't have the self-discipline to do it?"
Rikki shrugged, looking up to glare at me.
"I think that you would. I know you, when you want to do something, nothing gets in the way of your tenacity," I said.
"I can't believe I'm discussing this with you," she said, dropping down to sit on the sand again. I quietly sat down next to her, about a metre of space between us. I took her silence as a soundless welcome. I waited for her cue. I had made enough screw ups by opening my mouth too soon, and otherwise.
"I've always been interested in treasure…shipwrecks and the rest," Rikki began quietly. "I…I want to be a treasure hunter."
Now, that was an exciting idea.
"You mean specialising in underwater retrieval?" I asked. She nodded. "That's an awesome idea, Rikki. You'd be great at that!" I grinned. She gave me a half-smile in response, obviously pleased at my encouraging reaction.
"You're the first to think that," she said, looking away again. I frowned.
"Out of who?"
"Cleo and Bella think it would be dangerous for me… being in shipwrecks with a possibility of divers spotting me. Also, they don't think I could get a treasure license," Rikki said, picking at some imaginary lint on her shorts. "I haven't told my Dad yet…I think he wants me to be the first Chadwick to get a degree, but I'm just not that way inclined."
"I think you should do what you want to do," I told her. "Wouldn't it be better to try, than regret not even attempting?"
"Thanks," she said, giving me the first genuine smile in a while. She looked at her watch, before standing up.
"I'll see you around, Zane," she said. Rikki then dived into the water and swam away.
I sat on the sand in the moon pool cavern with a dorky grin on my face. She had smiled at me. And let me talk to her. Man, I needed to pull myself together. Obviously, she appreciated me not pushing, just being there for her. I would take whatever she would give me.
"Zane," I heard my name called, interrupting my thoughts. I looked up to see a puzzled-looking Cleo and Bella in the moon pool. "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, hey girls," I greeted awkwardly. My trip to Mako probably could have been thought out better, but it was totally worth it. She smiled at me. I stood up under the questioning stares of the two mermaids in the pool.
"I was actually just leaving." I continued, turning towards the tunnel path and walking in that direction.
"Zane!" Cleo exclaimed. "That wasn't an answer."
Considering I couldn't give them one they'd like, I left, a smirk on my face from the sound of Cleo's exasperated sigh.
That evening, I began researching which tertiary institutions would let me study business within the Gold Coast. There were many options within Brisbane, but that wouldn't allow me to run the café very well. Wow, I had a lot of tabs open. Oh, this was promising, Griffith University had a campus in the Gold Coast. And I could study business there. Perfect. As I expected, it was a three year course if I opted for full time study. Zane Bennett was going to get a Bachelor of Business majoring in Management. I never thought that would ever happen. I sighed. I hoped I could actually get in. I might have to sit some tests. The horror. Rikki may have been worried about her future, but I was just as anxious about mine. I bookmarked a few pages before exiting the browser and closing the lid of my laptop. I sank back into the couch cushions with a sigh. There was a reason I didn't really want to study. Maybe I would surprise myself.
I heard my Dad come into the lounge. He grabbed the remote and flicked the television on, sinking into his favourite chair and putting his feet up on the coffee table.
"Hey Dad, do you know much about treasure retrieval?" I asked. "How do you make underwater treasure recovery legal?"
He looked up at me surprised.
"What, have you found something?"
"No, I'm just enquiring for a friend. I'm just interested in it, that's all,"
"From what I know, rights to a treasure depends on where it is found, who it originally belonged to, and so on. If we're talking underwater recovery here, the shipwrecks are often still owned by the ship-owners, insurance companies or the government, so a professional 'treasure hunter,' if you will, is usually contracted out to retrieve it. Some professionals have their own companies which get them known amongst people who want to hire them."
The ad break was over so I knew that the conversation was over. Nevertheless, that was very interesting. If Rikki could get contracted to find underwater treasure, it would be perfect. Maybe her dream wasn't so impossible after all.
A/N: Hey everyone! I really hope you enjoyed this chapter! I thought it was an important step on the road to the reparation of the Zikki friendship, which I think is important to them eventually getting back together. I hope you guys agree. Please tell me what you thought and what you would like to see :D I'm sorry it took me a while to get this chapter out, I've been balancing uni work, life, and other fanfictions :P
Thank you so very much to zikki 3, Sammiloveschocolate, Kiradoughnugget and HybridsRose for reviewing. It means so much to me, and your support means everything. This story would have ended long ago if not for the on-going support of people like you inspiring me to keep writing something I love.
Thanks so much!
I'll see you all next time. I'm not sure when the next update will be because I'm approaching a really busy uni time with assignments and all, but I hope it won't be too long, nevertheless. In the meantime, you can check out my other stories :P **SHAMELESS PLUG**