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Tyler's cheeks reddened again and he quickly pulled the fish away from his chest. This resulted in him dropping the fish to the ground as it slipped out of his fingers. "Gah. Seven years old again." He mumbled as he quickly bent to pick it up again. It slid out of his fingers, or at least, it tried to. But he cupped it tightly in his hands, gripping it as hard as he could.
Nate’s smile grew even more, but he toned his laughter down to active chuckling. “You are not going to make me fall into this stream again,” he shot a glance at Tyler, “If you two are accomplices, I’m going to—to,” he faltered, “you don’t even want to know!”
"Won't happen again." Tyler said, nodding again with a straight face. He took a few steps backwards, still holding the fish out in front of him. He kept watching Nate while he stood in the stream.
Nate just shook his head, and raised an eyebrow. “It better not. I’m serious, Tyler. Dead serious. Us criminals are fearsome creatures, I’ll have my whole gang all up on you.” He tried his best to imitate street-thug talk. He didn’t do very well, but hey—you gotta give him points for trying. He stabbed another fish and held it up. “You think you can handle two? I don’t think you have the skill,” he challenged.
"Maybe I can. I don't know." Tyler looked at the fish in his hands, then the one Nate had speared. He carefully set the first fish down, holding his hands out.
He narrowed his eyes. “Alright, let’s see if you can redeem yourself!” Nate skillfully tossed the fish to Tyler, waiting to see if he did, indeed, redeem himself.
Tyler reached up to grab the fish out of the air, trying to grab it's slippery body before it could land on the ground or hit him like the other one had. His hands wrapped around it, gripping it tightly, seizing it out of the air. He quickly pulled it to his chest before could slip out of his fingers. He looked up at Nate, one corner of his mouth going up hesitantly.
Nate had been on the edge of his seat, or rather, he would have been if he had a seat and was sitting. When Tyler caught the fish, he started clapping and cheering instantaneously. Then, he clapped his hands together and bowed. “You have proven yourself a worthy catcher of fish, grasshopper. May your wisdom be passed down for generations,” He said this as seriously as he could manage.
"I actually caught it." The corner of Tyler's mouth twitched up a little higher as he looked back down at the fish held close to his chest. He looked back up at Nate, then back at the fish. Leah would've laughed at him, hugging a fish to his chest. She would've laughed at the thought of someone throwing a fish at him. And then she probably would've pushed Nate in the pond, still laughing. Tyler carefully set the second fish down next to the first one, his tiny smile fading.
“Always knew you would,” Nate lied—Tyler could probably tell he was lying, too. He was usually pretty optimistic, but he wasn’t expecting that perfectly executed catch. And neither was Tyler himself. Nate suddenly had an idea. He slyly walked over and stood in front of Tyler. He smirked. “You have proven yourself skilled at catching fish,” he thrusts his staff-spear into Tyler’s hand, “but can you catch fish?” It was another challenge.
"Catch them?" Tyler blinked with surprise. "No, I don't think so." He tried to push the staff thing back into Nate's hand, taking a step or two back, shaking his head. Leah would've pushed him forward and made him take the staff. Or she would've taken it herself in her eager, fearless way. Tyler took another step back.
Nate raised his eyebrow. “Are you declining my challenge?” He widened his stance, stuck the staff into the ground, placed a fist on his hip, and puffed out his chest proudly. “YOU are DECLINING my CHALLENGE? I know what it is. You’re worried I’ll be better at snatching these fish out of the air. Or maybe, you’re afraid your accomplice, the water, will betray you—and you shall suffer the same fate as I.” He gestured to his still water logged self.
"I've never been good at fishing." Tyler mumbled. He backed away a little more, cheeks going red. He nearly stepped on the two fish lying on the ground where he had placed them.
Nate sighed, “Nor will you ever be, if you insist on declining the chance of enlightenment.” He sloshed back into the water, preparing to catch another fish. “I expect you to be extremely good at catching fish, then. You must hone your skills to perfection.”
Tyler's face reddened a little more. He could practically hear Leah urging him forward, trying to convince him to give it a try, to catch some fish, maybe even have a little fun while he was at it.
But of course, she wasn't. Tyler shook his head again.
"No." He said solemnly.
Nate waited a moment, “Fine, but know this. All who decline my challenges are forced to withstand punishment,” he declared. Just then, he caught one more fish, and immediately tossed it to his unprepared victim.
Tyler gasped a little as he tried and failed to catch the fish. It's slippery smacked against his chest with a wet slap before falling to the ground. He bent to pick it up, mouth drawn in a solemn line.
Nate looked at him, a grim look weighing on his features. “I apologize, but you must admit you deserved that. I warned you.” Funny thing is, he started feeling bad about it. What a fail.
"I see." Tyler looked up again, holding onto the fish. Leah's voice danced in the back of his mind, urging him forward. He stared at Nate for a second. He looked down at the fish in his hands, then back up at Nate again, using the staff spear to stab at the fish. He took a slow half step forward, still holding the fish.
Nate was expecting more than that. If someone had hurled a fish at him, he would’ve tackled them, or at the very least hurled it back. Not out of anger, of course, but as a matter of pride. He shrugged to himself and decided to let it pass and just keep fishing.