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Sinderella

Angy Tumbleweed
Staff
Location
In Guzma's Closet
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/sylveon-shiny
  2. gothitelle
  3. froslass
  4. chandelure
A huge storm's rolling in, and Guzma has challenged Odette to surf some of the oncoming waves with him, as is Alola "tradition."

However, he's taking a while to get ready, and she's losing her nerve. She doesn't want to let him down.

Truthfully, she'd rather impress him
somehow.

***

Storm Surge
A one-shot by Sinderella
CW: Strong Language, Near Death Experience, Drowning
Hey all! This was written in one go, so gentle critique appreciated!

I'm unsure where this will fit in with White Swan, Black Swan's continuity, if it even will. I intentionally wrote it omitting some things that may or may not exist in arc 2 because mystery. But, it works as a standalone one-shot. So, please enjoy! 🤍🖤
Odette dug her foot into the sand as the thunder rumbled in the distance. He was taking too long. The waves were getting higher and higher, and surely a downpour wasn’t that far off. The longer she stood there, clutching to her stupid surfboard, the more agitated she was getting.

“One minute, my ass,” she said through clenched teeth as a wave tumbled into the shoreline, sending the murky Alolan waters up around her ankles. There was already a pre-storm chill in the air, which felt no colder than Kalos in the early fall. Familiar. Even a little comforting. However, the water hit like an Ice Beam, sending a chill up through her calves and into her spine. Guzma had said the water would be cold, but not that cold.

Still, she wasn’t about to back out. She was still sticking to her guns that this was a dumb idea—because being anywhere near the ocean during an oncoming storm was simply asking for a shitty time—but she wasn’t about to back down from a challenge. Especially not from Guzma. It wouldn’t be good for their repertoire of constantly one-upping each other, and she’d never hear the end of it.

She’d much rather hear what was going to come out of it when they were done.

Damn ‘Dette, you fuckin’ shredded that! I didn’t think you’d be up to it, but that was wicked cool!

The blush that took form on the tip of her nose quickly spread across her face, and she had half a mind to stick her head in the next oncoming wave to put it out. Maybe she’d drown in the process so she wouldn’t have to keep subjecting herself to this stupid crush.

She supposed it wasn’t bad to admit that she liked when he complimented her. Not the backhanded ones that he liked to toss out when they were reaming each other, but the real ones that slipped out every so often. The ones he gave where he genuinely smiled, and the corners of his eyes crinkled ever so slightly. He had a nice smile. A cute one.

Of course, that wasn’t to say she needed the compliments. She knew full well that she was an able-bodied and capable human, but…it was nice to have that attention from him. Once in a while, of course.

Another quake of thunder caused the sand under her bare feet to vibrate, effectively ending her sugarcoated train of thought and bringing her back to her annoyance. She wasn’t sure what Team Skull’s definition of a minute was, but it wasn’t the same as hers.

The low-hanging clouds only looked like they were getting closer, and the waves were towering now. Their window of opportunity was closing; he had to have known that.

She had half a mind to stomp up to his shack and drag him back by his ear if she had to. She was quickly starting to lose her nerve, and she didn’t want to be accused of chickening out. Not accepting the challenge was bad enough, but backing out on the precipice of completion was even worse.

Besides, she was holding her breath for a congratulatory hug. Maybe he’d even wrap his towel around her while they ran for the cover of his home as the rain came down, and—

She squeezed her eyes shut. She was getting way too ahead of herself. Surfing storm waves would prove much harder if all she could think about was hugging him in the rain, like a wistful soap opera girl. Idiotic.

However, that got her thinking. He might not have been there now to swim out with her, but imagine if he’d come back out to see she’d gone off and done it herself? No training wheels from Golisopod; just her. All by herself, with no issues. Guzma would eat all of those playful taunts he gave her while initially teaching her how to surf. Maybe he’d even be super impressed.

You’re a fuckin’ madlad! That was so sick!

Odette pursed her lips despite herself, carefully glancing over her shoulder toward his house. This was the stupid girl crush talking, and she knew that perfectly well. She knew this was a bad idea even with Guzma being an experienced surfer, but her by herself? She could swim, and she could hold her balance, but these weren’t anything like the waves that had been crashing down on Hau’oli beach. This was the real deal. The big time.

Bitch, I could kiss you right now.

She frowned. This was stupid.

But if she could impress him, it might be worth it for a few minutes. Worst case scenario, she had a wipeout and swam back to shore. She wasn’t going that far out anyway.

Squaring her shoulders and adjusting her goggles against her head, she ran for the choppy water, ignoring how louder the thunder suddenly sounded.

The most difficult part was getting used to the freezing temperatures. Even wearing her long-sleeved top, the chill still managed to drill through the material and prickled against her skin. Her teeth chattered involuntarily, though that might have also been because of her sudden adrenaline spike. Her energy levels surged as she fought through the rolling waves, eager to find a good spot to ride one back in. It needed to be one good one, just at the right time for Guzma to see her. If he was going to drag ass doing whatever the fuck it was he was doing, he was going to have to settle with watching her be cool without him. She briefly smirked at the thought before being punched with another fist of salt water.

By the time her body had gotten used to the chill, she’d made it several yards out. She had difficulty gauging just how far she’d gone with how the ocean swelled and heaved around her, but it looked like a solid distance. She couldn’t see any movement on the shore, which meant Guzma’s dumbass wasn’t back yet. She wasn’t sure how long she could tread water on the board before being forced back in, but if the clouds were any indication, it would be sooner rather than later.

As that thought occurred to her, she sunk into a deep trough. She craned her neck to look over her shoulder, just in time to catch the sight of a crest looming far higher than she was used to seeing. That would have to be it. If she let that wave slide, she was going under. With an agitated grunt, she leaned over the board and started paddling back toward the shore.

The water swelled behind her, and just when it felt like she might flip forward, she pushed herself up to stand and situated herself into that side stance. Left foot forward, parallel to the tip of the board. Right foot back, at a slight angle. Arms out, but not too much. Legs bent into a partial squat. She only had a second to ensure she was standing correctly before leaning into the wave to catch the ride.

When she didn’t immediately go upside down, a sense of pride took form within her. She didn’t have enough time to enjoy it because all of her attention was going toward her balance. Staying upright. Feeling the water droplets hit her as she ripped through the sea, back toward the safety of the sand. More thunder harmonized with the ocean's roar, and Odette felt herself grin again.

She was doing it. She was really–

Her entire world flipped, board and all.

Upon hitting the water, the waves overtook her, tossing her back and forth like a mere ball. It took her a few seconds to register that she had fallen, but once she did, she made for the surface. The sea did its best to keep her from getting there, but even in its violent state, it was no match for the strength of her legs.

Odette gasped for air as her head poked out of the water. She didn’t get much before another wave washed over her, sending her into a coughing fit. She could feel the strap of the board still wrapped around her ankle, and she knew she needed to get back on it.

If she’d had the brain power to feel anything more, she’d be furious. With the weather, with the ocean, with herself. So much for trying to show off for Guzma. She sincerely hoped he hadn’t seen that.

Stupid idea, she thought.

As her hands brushed the surfboard, she braced herself to get back on it. Her mind briefly started to wander toward thoughts of a hot shower and curling up in bed under her weighted blanket. If she got anything out of this, it would be a good night’s sleep, that was for damn sure.

All certainty fled, however, when something else wrapped around her free leg, sending a searing jolt up through her bones.

She barely had a chance to scream before it jerked her back into the murky gray. It pulled with such force, the strap that tethered her to the board snapped like a weak thread. She tried to grab it in a last-ditch effort to protect herself, but it was no use. No surfboard could have saved her from whatever was yanking her toward the ocean floor.

As she tore through the water, she could turn her head enough to catch sight of what exactly was out to kill her. Her eyes landed on a blue, mushroom-shaped head. Red bulges adorned the bell of it, and its yellow tentacles splayed out in its wake as it glided through the murky ocean.

A fucking tentacruel. That explained the unending sting.

Her brain began spinning in circles as she tried to figure out a way out of the situation. So many thoughts passed through her head that she couldn’t formulate anything else coherent.

I can’t breathe, my ankle, I need to get back…

She kicked her legs as if that alone would get the thing to let go of her. Pressure was building inside her chest, slowly but surely becoming a burn. The last time she’d had a breath-holding contest with Plumeria, she’d managed about a minute and forty-five seconds before giving in. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been under, but the building urge to gasp was letting her know she was nearing her limit.

In desperation, she reached for her caught leg, pawing her way down until she found her ankle. Her fingers dug into the slimy tendril, and she ignored the sting against her fingertips as she tried to pry it off. She didn’t hesitate to claw as hard as she could, and she drew blood in the process. No use in being gentle when the tentacruel was being so violent with her to begin with.

As she managed to get her fingers between her own skin and the tentacle, it suddenly tightened on her. The tentacruel was not keen on her getting away.

With a swift yank, it swung her downward, and her back hit the floor.

She wasn’t sure what felt worse: the feeling of her bare skin being dragged along the coral or the seawater that filled her mouth as she involuntarily tried to gasp for air. She felt her free leg graze something, leading to another burning sensation. She soon felt the same feeling in her lower back. And somewhere against her wrist.

It had to have been fire coral. Guzma had warned her about it when she initially agreed to surf with him. But he’d also said it was in the deeper water and that she probably wouldn’t need to worry about it.

She let out a shriek that was muffled by the sea, and she watched helplessly as her bubbles floated to the surface without her.

She remembered arguing with Noel about the worst way to die: drowning or burning alive. She had insisted that it was burning alive, but Noel was adamant that it was drowning. At the time, she simply couldn’t get on board with it.

The burn from the fire coral and from whatever sting that tentacle had given her was nothing compared to the ache of saltwater in her human lungs. There was absolutely nothing she could do about it, and she realized that as her consciousness started to fade.

Everything…hurts...

She’d always felt that she would die in pain, but she never thought it would be like this. At the tendrils of a fucking tentacruel because she decided to think with her stupid girl crush and not her actual brain.

BOOM.

The tightness released from her ankle following a flash of light that struck the tentacruel’s head.

Nothing felt real anymore, so she couldn’t tell where it had come from. She felt both weightless and heavy as her eyes slipped shut, and the blackness that engulfed her started to provide some relief from the suffocation. All feelings began to fade away as she slowly drifted into nonexistence. All that was left was the acceptance that this was how it would end.

There was her peace.

Finally.

~​

With a frenzied cough, she jolted upright.

Sparks of pain ignited all over her person, causing her stomach to heave. As she rolled onto her side, the seawater came up in gushes, tearing through her throat and intensifying her sputtering.

But, at least, she could breathe.

She could breathe.

“...dette!”

Her blood pounding against her eardrums made it almost impossible to hear. A noise that felt reminiscent of static also filled her head, with it occasionally being interrupted by a rumble.

The numbness of unconsciousness faded, and she realized just how cold she was. The pain and urge to vomit aside, all warmth had vacated her body. She was shivering before she even realized she had the capability to.

“Odette!”

The familiarity of the voice was calming. Her muscles relaxed, leaving her limp against the soaked beach sand. As she forced herself onto her back again, she could see through her waning vision that it was pouring. The sky had become so black she could barely make out Guzma’s terrified frown through the deluge.

Odette grimaced as she tried to get her vocal cords to work.

“Hi,” she managed in a jagged wheeze.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Guzma screamed. The bass in his voice managed to carry over the hammering of the rain. “I told you to wait for me! I told you to wait for me!

His body hung over hers, and his blazing gold eyes bore into her soul. For a moment, she couldn’t breathe again.

“You could have drowned, do you fucking know that?” he continued. She couldn’t tell if his voice was trembling or if it was an effect of the downpour. “That tentacruel damn well could have killed you! What the actual fuck were you thinking?”

Her throat was on fire. Saltwater still coated her tongue, leaving it feeling dry. It was a wonder she was able to speak again. “I was…I was trying to show you…”

“Show me what? That you’re an idiot? That you’re fucking braindead?

He was yelling at her. His teeth were bared like he normally bared them when he was getting ready to throw a punch. He was livid.

And yet, his shaking hands caressed her face with such tenderness he might as well have been trying to lull her to sleep.

“I was trying…trying to impress you…” she managed between weak gasps. "And you were...dragging ass."

Even with the rain clouding most of her vision, she could see how his jaw clenched. He furrowed his brow, but his eyes remained wide with rage. “Are you twelve? Are we in fucking high school?”

She didn’t have a good answer for that.

"Assflash newshole; I was trying to find the damn repellent," he hissed.

Of course he was.

“And I don’t need you to impress me. I’m always fucking impressed with you. What the hell is trying to get yourself killed going to show me?”

All she could do at that point was shake her head. “I…I don’t…”

“You’re supposed to be the smart one between us! You can’t be doing this shit, you can’t be,” his breath hitched, causing his voice to crack,“ scaring the fucking shit out of me like that, you stupid dumbass motherfucking…”

His teeth were clenched now, and before she knew it, he was hugging her to his chest. Tight enough for it to feel secure but not hard enough to where she couldn’t breathe. Through her numbness, she could feel his face settle into the crook of her neck. His breaths felt shallow and ragged against her, but he was able to right himself rather quickly. Quicker than he normally did, at least.

“Are you okay?” he finally said into her ear. There was a newfound gentleness to his voice. It sounded like all the anger had faded away entirely.

Odette swallowed hard, cringing through the searing dryness in her throat. “My ankle,” she croaked. It stung the worst.

That was all he needed to hear. He tucked his arms under her quivering legs and looped them around his waist before standing up, then jogged away from the beach, through the grass, and up the steps of his bungalow.

“I’ve got a first aid kit,” he muttered, tightening his hold on her legs. “Golisopod’s handling the fucking tentacruel. You’re gonna be fine.”

~​

Even sitting underneath a stream of steaming water, Odette still felt herself shaking.

She sat on the bathtub floor with her head between her knees, letting the shower run over her. Guzma had done well in applying the stun spore numbing cream he had on hand, because none of them flared up under the water’s heat. Her ankle still pulsed with a dull ache every now and again, but it was mostly manageable for the moment.

Her eyes fluttered with threatening sleep as she relished in the warm feeling. She’d just come out of unconsciousness, and yet her body was chasing it all over again. All she wanted to do now was lay down. And chug a gallon of sparkling water. She couldn’t describe how thirsty she’d gotten since setting foot in the tub, but she couldn’t bring herself to move. The warmth felt too good. It helped remind her that she was somehow still alive.

She was alive, and Guzma was fuming. He had every right to be and then some.

Odette wasn’t sure how long she sat there, but she eventually turned the faucet off and stood up, showing care to her stung ankle. There was enough steam in the small bathroom that she wasn’t met with more unrelenting cold as she slowly stepped out onto the bath mat. Through her blurred vision, she could see the shape of a towel sitting on the sink. A heap of dark-colored colored blobs sat next to it, which she assumed would be her new outfit for the time being. She pawed it and was relieved to feel her regular glasses sitting on top of the pile. She quickly put them on, only to see that the blobs were indeed clothes. Guzma's clothes.

How the fuck is this going to work?

Upon pulling the garments onto her dried body, she got her answer. The shirt hung like a dress, and its sleeves covered both of her hands entirely. The shorts were a little easier to fit due to the drawstrings, and it seemed that her wide hips filled them out a little better. Not by much, though. She still had to pull the strings as tight as they would go, and she even tucked the hem of the shirt into the waistband for good measure. However, despite the ridiculous sizing, she was very comfortable. The most comfortable she’d been since coming inside, anyway.

Draping the towel over her shoulders, she approached the door and placed her hands on it. After a moment's hesitation, she pushed it open.

She didn’t know where Guzma was going to be and was shocked to find that he was sitting on the floor next to the door. His head lifted abruptly at the sound of her footsteps, and he looked relieved to see her.

“Shit, I was gettin’ ready to go in there,” he huffed, pushing his wet hair back. He’d yet to change out of his bathing suit. “You good? Clothes alright?”

She nodded once. “I was just cold. Shower felt great.” Her voice sounded scratchy against her wrecked throat. “And they’re fine. Wouldn’t expect you to have midget-sized stuff on hand anyway.”

That should have made him laugh. When it didn’t, she grimaced to herself. He just silently pushed himself to his feet.

“And yer positive you can breathe? Ya don’t feel lightheaded or anythin’?”

Odette sighed softly, shaking her head. “I said it was just my ankle,” she replied, causing him to scoff.

“Yeah, ‘n wet lung ‘nd dry drownin’ are still shit that can happen. I’ve got half a mind to run you down to the clinic anyway.

“Could Golisopod even get down to the main roads in this? Where even is he?"

His gaze on her was unrelenting. Hard, yet…concerned. He was supposed to at least chuckle at that comment too, and once again, he remained stone-faced. She was starting to shrivel internally.

“In his ball, sleepin’ off that fight. We’d figure it out, but I think you've had enough dangerous bullshit for the night,” he said coldly. It sent a bolt of metaphorical ice through her.

With that, he brushed past her and out into the kitchen area. He expected her to follow because he glanced back at her before he made it to the counter, where a water bottle was already sitting. He picked it up and handed it to her as she limped behind him.

“Drink. No doubt yer dehydrated as all hell.”

He was right about that. The feeling of fresh water washing over her dry, scratchy tongue was the equivalent to pure bliss. She’d downed more than half of it when she finally stopped chugging.

“Thanks,” she muttered, wiping her mouth on her sleeve.

“Mm.”

Odette was certain she felt like she didn’t have any seawater left in her system, yet her chest and stomach churned like there might have been.

She made herself take another short sip. “So we can’t get to the main roads, but what are the odds of me getting home?” she asked sarcastically.

He finally laughed. But it was harsh. It bit at her nerves.

“Storm’s only gotten worse since ya got in the shower,” he said. “Yer not goin’ anywhere in this. You can have my bed; I’ll sleep on the recliner.”

“Guz–”

“I don’t wanna fuckin’ hear it,” he snapped. “‘Nd as soon as the storm lets up, we’re goin’ to an urgent care.”

She cringed. “I told you—”

“And I told you to fucking wait for me.”

Her mouth felt dry again. Any other words she had in mind vanished, and her grip on the bottle tightened. Tears balled up at the corners of her eyes, and she hoped with all she had that he couldn’t see them before she looked away.

He was right, and she knew that. No amount of poorly-timed jokes and derisive quips would make that go away.

She was stupid. Braindead, as he said. All of this strife and a near-death experience over her stupid girl crush. When the hell was she going to learn that nothing good came out of her thinking with anything but her brain?

She swallowed hard, her expression unwavering through the pain. “You did,” she croaked.

Another sip. She wasn’t feeling thirsty anymore, but at least it gave her something to do as she struggled not to look at him. She could feel his eyes digging holes into the side of her face as she kept her gaze trained on the floor. Even as he pushed himself off the counter and walked over to her, she dared not look in his direction. Not until he pulled her into a hug.

His arms had always been just as hard as they looked, but he somehow managed to make his hugs so gentle. Even when she probably didn’t deserve it.

She sniffled deeply as a tear fell down her cheek, and she felt him bury his face in her hair.

“I’m so mad at you,” he murmured.

“I know,” she replied in a whisper. “I’m mad at me too,”

His arms tensed ever so slightly. She might have not noticed if she weren’t as observant as she was.

“You know how long I was beating on your chest?” he asked. The weight behind that question nearly pulled her down to the floor. Thankfully, he was holding her up quite nicely. When she didn’t respond, he went on.

“Over a minute. Sixty-five seconds. Kept looking at my watch.”

Another tear joined the first, and she closed her eyes.

“You weren’t moving, and I didn’t think you were gonna.”

The words were obviously painful for him to say. That time, he tightened his grip on her.

“I thought you died, O. You weren’t moving.

There were no words for that. She tried to find them anyway.

“I’m sorry,” she heaved.

Guzma scoffed loudly before reaching up to grasp her shoulders. He pushed her just far enough away to look down at her, but not enough to where he couldn’t still hold her.

“I’m not asking you to be sorry,” he retorted, his forehead hovering above hers. “I just wanna know what the fuck possessed you to do that. All for something as dumb as trying to impress me? You could open a can of rockruff food and I’d be fucking impressed, are you kidding me?

His eyes narrowed in disbelief, and he shook her gingerly. Like he was trying to get something out of her. “‘Dette, what?

Odette couldn’t consciously think of a good response. A logical response. Because there wasn’t one. She stood before him, mindlessly shaking her head before any semblance of a sentence came to form.

“Crushes make people do,” her voice broke, causing another tear to slip, “stupid shit.”

She watched as Guzma’s expression fell. His jaw went slack, and he dipped his head toward his chest as a sigh fell out of him. That wasn’t how she wanted to tell him, but that didn’t matter anymore. All bets were off right now.

He went a while without saying anything, and if Odette were in any other state of mind, she might have panicked. But she had exhausted all of her ability to panic on nearly drowning at the hands of a hunting tentacruel.

When he eventually grasped her stung hand in his, she jumped. He took it between both of his meaty hands and took to examining the sting marks on her fingers. They were the first of her injuries that he’d slathered the numbing cream on, so they currently weren’t causing her any excess pain. She only felt a comforting warmth as he laced his fingers with hers and held her knuckles to his lips.

“D…do shit that’s gonna keep you warm and breathin’,” he said. “Don’t give me somethin’ else to have nightmares about, please.

Her brain stalled on the feel of him talking against her skin, but she was able to jumpstart herself with a short nod. “I wouldn’t…” she tried to respond. “I wouldn’t…want to.”

Guzma took to looking at her fingers again. Something about the sting marks had him enthralled. Another sigh sounded from him, and he dropped her hand again.

“I’m not good at this crap. I wanna yell at you some more, but I also don’t,” he said. “‘Nd I know we need to talk, but I am fuckin’ freezing.”

Odette’s eyes moved down his body. His swimwear was very much still damp, and she’d been hogging the shower for gods knew how long. She somehow found a way to feel even worse. Both for leaving him to freeze and for making him feel like he needed to address her confession at the moment. She didn’t even want to. There was too much going on inside her head.

He reached up and wiped away her tear streaks with his thumb, pursing his lips as he did. “You should go lay down. I'll wrap up your ankle when I get out of the shower, a’ight?”

Truthfully, laying down sounded like a really good idea. “Sure,” she agreed.

She probably could have wrapped it herself, but she wasn’t in any position to be protesting him now. The dull, tired ache pulsing through her body was indication enough that she shouldn’t be exerting herself too much anyway.

Without another word, she turned and made her way over to the recliner positioned just adjacent to the couch. Her bones creaked and moaned as she slowly lowered herself into it, bracing for any sudden pain that might come over her if she accidentally brushed against one of her numbed-up stings or bruises. But, she settled into the leather easily, allowing her muscles to relax fully and the exhaustion to take hold.

Sleep arrived faster than it ever had before.

~​

Consciousness returned. The TV was on, and everything hurt again.

She wasn’t sure when she’d ended up on her side or covered in a blanket, but she groaned as she tried to adjust her position. A throbbing sensation in her lower back and legs caused her to grimace, and she sucked her teeth. She guessed the numbing cream had worn off.

“Easy, easy,” Guzma’s voice said. A hand brushed her face. Another rubbed her lower back as if trying to coax the pain out of it. “Go back to sleep, dummy.”

She tried to push herself to sit up, but her hand landed on…Guzma himself. Upon lifting her head, she saw that he’d somehow managed to get himself onto the chair without waking her up and was now acting as her pillow. One of his arms was wrapped loosely around her back, and the other had come to settle on his stomach. His hair was still wet from his shower, and the look he gave her now was far more relaxed and smug.

More importantly, they were together. On the recliner. Cuddling. While she slept.

Blinking slowly at him, she felt heat rush to the tip of her nose. She soon found the feeling to lift her arm and rub her eye, hoping to distract herself somehow.

“How long–?” she started to ask. A crackle of thunder caused the bungalow to shudder, and she did as well.

“‘Bout two hours,” he answered. “Wrapped your ankle up and was gonna take you to the bed, but you looked comfy, so I didn’t have the heart to bother ya.”

She yawned and started to rub at her other eye. She rolled her injured foot slowly, feeling the tightness of the bandage around it. It stung, but not horribly.

“But you wriggled yourself up next to me instead?”

He snickered. “Well, it’s my chair. It’s hella comfy, and we fit on it just fine. You were out cold, so it wasn’t a problem.”

No, it wasn’t. She’d have been okay with it if she were awake or even if the chair weren’t as big as it was. But she wasn’t going to say that. She’d said and done enough already.

Thunder shook the walls again, and Odette glanced toward the TV. The news was on, and it looked like they were talking about the passing storm, but she couldn’t quite register what they were saying. She still wasn’t fully awake and unsure if she would be.

“News says it’s not letting up any time soon, so you might as well knock out again,” Guzma said.

She started to yawn again, cringing as another ache pulsed down her back. “I can just walk to the bed now,” she suggested. “Since I’m up.”

“And I’m tellin’ you ya shouldn’t be. You need to rest, ‘nd you need to stay off that ankle for a bit.”

Exhaling softly, her eyes began to flutter. Arguing in this state of mind would be a bad idea, but she couldn’t quite help herself.

“We don’t need to crowd each other like this, so I can just move,” she said reluctantly. Very reluctantly. But it felt like the polite thing to do.

That got a full-blown chuckle out of him. A real one. The sound of it calmed her nerves considerably, and she nearly fell back to sleep right then and there.

“Nah, I don’t think so. Need to ensure you’re sleeping properly, so I’d rather not leave you alone.”

Odette shot him a sideways glance, taking that as an invite to go on.

“I’m not goin’ anywhere. Yer stuck with me for a while, got it?”

Her nose felt hot again. Once more, she didn’t feel like she had any grounds to bicker with him, and she made herself stop there. “Got it.”

She hesitantly laid her head back down, but as her cheek settled into his chest and the soft fabric of his hoodie, she felt entirely at ease. As he pushed some of her hair aside, her entire person was engulfed in a feeling of warm contentment. A sense of absolute safety.

It’d been a while since she’d felt that. And having it come from him just made her heart soar.

“I know yer half asleep ‘nd whatever,” he suddenly spoke again, “but I want to let you know that there's a much better way of showing somebody you have a crush on them.”

Odette craned her neck to give him a half-lidded look. She was aching to shut her eyes again, but the statement had sent the slightest jolt of surprise through her core.

“And what is it?” she queried in a drawl.

“Letting ‘em sleep on you,” he replied, the slightest smirk gracing his lips.

She started blinking rapidly, unable to fully process the statement in her fatigued mind. Clearly, the look on her face was humorous to him because his smirk grew.

“We’ll talk more tomorrow. Please try to go back to sleep,” he insisted.

That time, she obliged. After nearly falling to the cold, relentless sea, being wrapped up in his arms, safe from the storm as she dozed off, was exactly where she needed to be. Knowing he wanted her there only made it that much warmer.
 
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