Marlin awoke and glanced around the anemone. He was alone; it made a nice change from Nemo jumping on him telling him to hurry up.
"Peace perfect peace." He said to himself.
"What didya say?"
"GAH!" Marlin screamed, then sighed with relief, as Dory's bright little face descended from the top of the anemone into view. "Dory, new rule, no creeping up on me while I'm sleeping."
"But you weren't sleeping you were.!"
Nemo suddenly swam over, rubbing his eyes. "Morning Dad, hi Dory."
Dory waved clumsily, her scarred fin wasn't able to move much. Marlin shook his head, every time he saw that bruised fin he felt like it was his fault.
"Nemo." Both Marlin and Nemo corrected at the same time.
Dory rolled her eyes, "Whatever. C'mon you two! You'll be late for school!" she swam behind Nemo and began pushing him towards the edge of the anemone.
"Hold it!" Marlin called, stopping Dory from pushing his son headfirst into the stinging plant. "Brush, then we take him."
Nemo rolled his eyes in annoyance but obediently did as he was told. And as soon as both and Dory had brushed their fins to the point where they could stand the stings they were off.
The three swam along the reef, watching the other parents taking their youngsters to school, Nemo and Dory being silly and racing each other now and then.
"You'll never catch me Dory!" Nemo called, shooting ahead.
"Wanna bet? I was built for speed!" she yelled back and darted in front of the little clownfish.
Marlin laughed, then he too joined the race, "see you at the finish line, if you even get there!"
They reached the clearing where was waiting with the other students. Dory and Nemo arguing about whom had came first.
"Dude!" Squirt called, dashing over to Nemo. "Dude are you going to the trip to the EAC? It's gonna be Totally radical!"
"Can I dad?" Nemo begged, Marlin sighed, not able to resist those adorable little eyes.
"Sure, but be careful okay?"
Nemo dashed onto Mr. Ray's back, joining the gaggle of laughing fish.
"Bye Dad! Bye Mom!" he called as the ray swam away.
"Mom?" Marlin repeated, before realising whom his son was addressing. He turned to look at Dory, who was waving a clumsy goodbye.
"So, getting remarried are ya?" Bob the seahorse asked, swimming up with a wicked smile upon his face.
"What? No, Nemo must just think."Marlin trailed off. "I don't know. Dory's more of a friend that anything."
"Yeah, but the boy needs a mother." The seahorse reminded marlin, then nudged him. Dory was playing with some of the littlest fish on the sponge beds. "She'd make a fine mother to Nemo, and any others that came along."
Marlin sighed and watched her. Since they'd arrived back in the reef he'd become a lot more tolerant of her short-term memory; it really wasn't too bad reminding her of Nemo's name every three minutes, in fact, it was sort of cute.
"Hmm, it's something to think about I suppose." Marlin replied.
Meanwhile, a few leagues away, Gill floated peacefully, waiting for the usual onslaught of questions that would come, as they came every morning, from the worried tank gang.
"Where are we going?"
"Gill, when are we gonna reach the reef?"
Gill sighed, "We're going to the Great Barrier Reef, we'll find food in a minute and I don't know when, I just know it's soon. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to be left alone for five seconds!" he swam away from the tank gang.
Dab put her head on one side, "What's eating him?" she asked the others, then looked around, "And where the bloomin' heck is Flo?!"
Jaques laughed, ""I am thinking notre Capitan 'as ze . . . 'ow do you say? Ze strains de l'amour on 'im."
"And for those of us who speak English?" Gurgle asked irritably.
"He said he thinks Gill's pining for that girl again." Bloat replied.
"Again?" they all groaned in response.
Peach, the only one who Gill would ever open up to aside from Nemo, floated over to the black and white Moorish Idol.
"Gill, she might be waiting on the reef for us." Peach tried, unsure of how to comfort Gill.
"Don't be daft. She always was a bit stupid, she'll have forgotten me by now." He gazed out to the open sea, wondering if maybe there was a chance in hell that he'd ever see her again. "My Dorleen."
"Tell me about this Dorleen." Peach requested, wondering what she must have been like to capture Gill's seemingly cold heart.
Gill smiled nostalgically, happy memories coming to him. "I met her just outside the reef, I crashed into her while I was swimming and."
(this is a flashback, do not attempt to adjust your screen)
"Oh!" Gill cried as he went crashing into a rock. "Owwww."
"Oh my goodness, are you okay?"
He opened his eyes, and for a moment he was sure he died and went to heaven, surely this was an angel he gazed upon, surely she wouldn't have graced this unworthy ocean with her infinite beauty, she shone like each and every star, she was all his dreams come true.
"Are you okay cutie?" she asked, suddenly blushing at the way this young stranger was staring at her.
He shook his head, trying to get some words out. "Uh. I'm fine, are you okay beautiful? I mean um."
She giggled, "I'm Dorleen." She held her fin out, meaning for him to shake it; instead he took her fin in his and kissed it.
"That's a lovely name, it suits you." he released her fin, "I'm Gill."
From then on they couldn't leave each other's side, they found a home in the reef, a clamshell, plenty of space and beautiful surroundings, and Dorleen just loved gazing into the pearl.
"I am a mystic gypsy!" she chanted, waving her fins around the pearl, "I can see into your future!"
"Sure you can." Gill answered, swimming up beside her. "What do you see in my future then?"
"I see. misty white stuff."
"Oh very funny Dory." Gill said, rolling his eyes, "can I read your future now?"
Dorleen floated to one side, sulking. "You can try."
Gill smiled, knowing just how to cheer her up, he stared hard into the pearl, pretending to be concentrating really hard.
"I see. I see a handsome Moorish idol. and I see you and him, sitting in clamshell, kissing." he looked up suddenly. Dorleen blushed.
"How far into the future is that then?" she whispered, casting her gaze down, not meeting his eye.
"About three seconds." Gill replied, then kissed her.
Suddenly there was a scream from nearby, both of them looked up in surprise.
There was leopard shark swimming through the reef! Gill swam up to the top of the clam and began pushing it, trying to close the shell, it remained upright. And what was worse, the shark had turned towards their clamshell.
He froze on the spot, remembering one important thing, Sharks can't see very well, if he didn't move it might not see him. To his horror he realised Dorleen didn't know this. He glanced down into the shell, Dorleen was whimpering slightly.
The Shark swam a little closer to the shell and Dorleen's fear took her over, she swam out of the shell, shooting past Gill so that she was only a blue blur.
"DORY!" he yelled as the leopard launched itself at the space behind him, aiming for Dorleen.
There was a crash and a bang as Gill was knocked into the clam and it slammed shut, he began viciously throwing himself against the lid of the shell, trying desperately to get out and save Dorleen.
Gill had his eyes closed. "I. I never saw her again. Someone told me she'd got a bump to the head that damaged her memory. She must've swam off." He gulped, Peach could tell he was trying not to break down in front of her.
If starfish could hang their heads, Peach would've. "I'm so sorry Gill. You... you really did love her."
Gill took a deep breath, deciding to change the subject before she questioned him further, he didn't want to remember Dorleen, and he wanted to forget. "Let's go, if we hurry we might even make it before nightfall."