~ Hydrophobic ~

It's probably a wimpy fear, but I couldn't help it. Just the thought of being surrounded by blue, heavy water that's waiting to pull me under and force water into my lungs… It gave me chills. Luckily, farming had nothing to do with swimming, so the only contact with water I really needed was from a cup or a watering can, and if I was feeling brave, I would go fishing near the pond.

I tried not to think too much about where exactly I lived. Why? Because I lived on an island – islands are surrounded by the stuff. It made me a bit anxious to think about it. What if the entire island suddenly combusted into flames and the only escape was to swim away? I'd much rather welcome a few burns than jump into the ocean, which I liked to call the Death Pool. I think the nickname suits it perfectly.

Chase always told me that I should just face my fears. "Don't be a wuss," he would say.

Seeing him on the way to Marimba Farm to pick up seeds was my favorite part of the day. It started out as accidentally running into each other in the area, and then it became a regular routine where he would wait outside of his small, orange-topped house to meet me. He would invite me inside, show me some of his cooking, listen to me vent and complain about my problems, and then he would give me advise; however, his advise was so simplistic that it was easy to mistake it for sarcasm.

A hot day of work on the farm can really work up an appetite, so I would eat out at Brass Bar when I had the money. I could have eaten at Ocarina Inn, but Chase was the chef at the bar. I would much prefer eating his food than risk the chance of consuming Maya's concoctions. Maya was the waitress at Ocarina Inn that liked to sneak her own poison in the food to see if people actually liked it. I initially felt sorry for her poor cooking since she really did try her best to improve, but that was before she sneaked some "beef" in my stew. I was throwing up so much afterwards that Chase actually had to come by and take care of me for the few days I couldn't work on the farm. It was nice of him, but it was torture to feel so helpless.

After countless times of ordering from Brass Bar, Chase would automatically begin preparing my grilled fish as soon as I stepped foot into the building. He'd serve the fish to my table and sit across from me since business was relatively slow for him, as people normally came to the bar at night for cocktails, which the owner and his daughter took care off.

Usually, I would pay Chase for my food before I take a single bite, but when I reached down into my pocket, I stopped and let out an exasperated sigh.

He smirked. "Forgot your money again?"

"No…" I mumbled, not looking him in the eye.

He chuckled lightly and shrugged his shoulders. "It's okay. Just pay me back tomorrow."

It happened again – I was depending on Chase to take care of me again. It seemed like I depended on him too much, like I wouldn't be able to survive without him being around to save my neck. What am I? A child? A helpless, little baby? No, but that's what it felt like every time I had to get help from him.

I had never felt more helpless and childish in my life than when he tried to teach me how to swim. It was amazing how he even got me to go to the beach to learn in the first place. He must have put some sort of mind-control device in my food to make me willingly accept to learn how to swim in the Death Pool. Or maybe it was because I wanted him to stop calling me a wuss.

I was wearing a green, two-piece bathing suit I had bought that same day since I, of all people had no reason to have one in the first place. As I stood on the beach's warm sand, I was trying my best to wrap my arms around the exposed parts of my body out of embarrassment. Why did I ever trust Luna to pick it out? It was like wearing my underwear in public. And to make things even more embarrassing, it was like wearing my underwear in front of Chase. Thank Goddess it was summer because I was able to blame my red face on the hot weather.

Despite how much I complained about being practically naked, Chase assured me that it was fine, though it wasn't very believable when I noticed that he was trying to avoid looking at me for more than three seconds. He must have not wanted me to think that he was staring or something.

Eventually, he tried getting me into the water. Stubborn as I was, I refused. He rolled his violet eyes in annoyance. "How are you supposed to learn if you're not in the water?"

I tried to think of an excuse, but I was stuck. "…Very carefully?"

He shook his head in disapproval. "You have to conquer your fears," he insisted. He offered his hand out for me.

I looked at it with uncertainty, but I knew he was right about conquering my fear. Taking a deep breath, I took his hand, and he led me into the water. Feeling it on my ankles gave me chills and made me feel shaky. I closed my eyes tightly so that I wouldn't have to watch as I felt the water climb its way up my body the more Chase and I walked. Then, we stopped. I kept my eyes closed. I didn't want to look.

"You can open your eyes now," he said with a hint of amusement in his words.

"No, thanks," I said. "I'm perfectly fine like this."

I heard him laugh. "I knew you were afraid, but I didn't think you were this bad."

I growled. "You think this is so funny, don't you?"

"What, you being this much of a wuss? No, not at all."

I was growing so angry with him. I wanted nothing more than to slap him across the face right then and there, but I would need my sight to know where his cheek was. It was a hard decision to make in my mind, but in the end, I willed my eyes open so that I could look at him. But once I opened them, I inhaled a sharp gasp and squeezed Chase's hand tighter from the shock of seeing everything around me for my own eyes. The water was to my bellybutton, and I was so far away from the safety of the beach shore. I looked up at Chase, not because I wanted to hit him – I could care less at that point – but because I was searching for any kind of security he could offer me.

I looked up to see that he was looking down at me with a devilish smirk. "I knew it would work," he said.

Now I really wanted to hit him. He knew provoking me was the only way to motivate me enough to stand up to my fear. But it was strange. I was more happy than angry, and I wanted nothing more than to attack him with a hug to show how happy I was, but I didn't, as I didn't want to risk him falling over in surprise and bring me down under the water with him. So, I settled with flashing him a bright grin.

A few weeks following that first swimming lesson, he continued to gradually teach me. It was surprising that he had enough patience to teach someone as difficult as me to swim, especially when it would take at least twenty minutes for me to suck it up and step foot in the water. But once I was in, it got easier.

It was at night, one of the few nights Chase got a night off from the bar, when we decided to hang out and talk at his house. I had originally made plans to help Owen, a big-muscled guy that was only a few years older than me, find some ore in the mines. But it wasn't often that Chase got a night off, so I asked Owen if we could another time. Owen was a very easy-going guy, so he didn't have a problem with it at all. In fact, he enjoyed teasing me about wanting to spend time with Chase, asking things on the line of if he was my boyfriend or not. I denied it every time he asked me, but he never bought it.

"Better act quick," Owen once said to me. "We all know little Ms. Poison has a big crush on him."

"I highly doubt Chase would ever be interested in Maya," I said, confident in what I was talking about. "He can't stand her. I've never heard him say one nice thing about or to her in the two years I've known him."

Owen shrugged, but he still wore his teasing grin. "Maybe so, but I bet you'd get pretty jealous if he did like her."

I didn't say anything to deny it. I knew that on some degree, he was right. I would get jealous if Chase took an interest in Maya, or any other girl for that matter. I guess I never thought about it since Chase wasn't much of a womanizer. In fact, the only women that I knew of that he talked to on an everyday basis were Yolanda, the grandmother of Ms. Poison, and the bar-owner's daughter, Kathy. But Yolanda was too old to be seen as a potential rival, and Kathy and Owen were practically a married couple.

On the night Chase and I were at his house, we mostly just sat in front of his TV and talked. Somehow, the conversation shifted to the swimming lessons.

"Maybe next time, you can try going in the water alone instead of depending on me. You know, get rid of the training wheels," he said.

That immediately made me defensive. "I don't depend on you," I said.

He raised his brows in disbelief. "Yeah, right! If I wasn't there with you, you would never get any deeper than your ankles."

I could tell that he was just being honest and not intentionally trying to make me mad, but that didn't mean it wasn't somewhat offensive. What, I can't do it on my own? I can't take care of myself? But he was right. I was totally depending on him. Maybe not on purpose, but I was depending on him.

I stood up from my seat next to him and started for the door. "I'm leaving."

I saw from the corner of my eye that he stood up too. "Molly, where are you going?"

I had no idea where I was going, so I didn't answer before I slammed the door shut. The closest to a destination I had was out of Flute Fields. I was getting close to my farm property when I caught sight of a path on my left. It led to the beach that Chase and I would always swim at. This was the perfect opportunity to show Chase that I didn't need him to teach me how to swim.

It was dark and windy outside, and the stars and full moon were bright. I didn't know that the waves were normally louder at night, but I didn't think too much of it at the time. I kicked off my shoes onto the sand and took off my light sweater before I slowly paced myself towards the water. I had goose bumps as I went into the water, and I stopped a few times to get control of my heartbeat before continuing. Baby steps. Baby steps.

My body was shaking more profusely as I kept going, but when I finally made the water rise as high as my collarbone – it would have been higher if I wasn't on my tippy-toes. I stopped to calm myself down. Just suck it up. You're in the Death Pool. Get over it. When the realization of how far I went by myself kicked in, I couldn't help but grin and laugh like a lunatic.

Just as I was considering the possibility of trying to move in the water with my arms, like how Chase showed me, a rough wave hit me by surprise. It pulled me under the water, but I managed to pull myself to the surface again by kicking my arms and legs frantically enough. I felt the water in my body, so I coughed heavily, but the waves weren't giving me a break. I kept getting pulled under as I tried to pull myself back up. Whenever I was able to break the surface, I'd yell, "Help! Chase!"

I knew he couldn't hear me, but it didn't hurt to try.

Then, the final wave hit me as I was trying to cough out the water, and it forced a dangerous amount of water down my windpipe. I couldn't fight it any longer; I was too tired. I didn't want to fight it anymore and lose what little energy I had left. My vision was going black, and all I wanted to do was give up and let the water take me. It didn't feel so bad once my body got used to the idea. It felt almost as if I was falling asleep, but I could still hear the thoughts in my head. My body was shutting down, but my mind was still trying to hang on.

Out of all the things I could of thought of at that moment, Chase's face popped up in my mind's eye. This was the perfect example of an appropriate time to depend on him - when I'm on the brink of dying. It's kind of funny how I complain about being helpless whenever I depend on Chase, and here I am, in the most helpless condition I could be in, claiming that it's the best time to depend on him.

I wasn't nearly as helpless as when I forgot my money at home or when I was sick in bed. I could have gone back home to get my wallet. I could have sucked it up long enough until I got better. But Chase still gave me money to buy my dinner. Chase still stuck by my side while I was miserably sick. He didn't have to do any of the things he has done for me. He could have left me out to dry if he really wanted.

And when I looked back into my fading memory, I realized that I never once told him that I appreciated the things he had done for me. I hadn't thought about it before. I'm so ungrateful…

And now I have to leave him without being able to tell him how much he really means to me.

This was it… My mind was slipping out of consciousness. I was going to finally fall asleep. Am I ever going to wake up? And then, the water took me.

I wasn't sure how, but I woke up and immediately bolted up to cough up what seemed like a gallon of water. My vision was blurry, and I had never felt so tired in my life. I would have laid back down on my back, but an arm was holding my upper-body so that I was sitting up. I leaned back against the arm instead and tried my best to look up and see whom it belonged to. There was a pair of violet eyes and a patch of messy hair that was wet and plastered against the person's forehead.

I squinted my eyes and blinked them a few times. "Chase?" I said, my voice sounding so weak and raspy.

I heard a relieved sigh. "Forget about conquering your fears," he said, his voice cracking. "Just don't do something stupid like that again!"

It was then that I realized how scared he looked. I could see all of the fear in his eyes. The arm that was holding me up was shaking. What he said didn't make sense to me until everything came back – the waves hitting me, the water forcing its way into my lungs, my vision going dark, having my thoughts wonder as I began to fall asleep and slip into unconsciousness.

My lips curved upwards when everything that happened registered into my brain. I'm not leaving. I get another chance.

My eyes were getting heavier and heavier, but I tried my best to keep them open. "I love you, Chase."

Even in my blurry vision, I could clearly see the stunned expression that was soon accompanied by furrowed brows and a blush on his face. "D-Did you hit your head too? Just how many brain cells have you lost?"

I didn't reply, only smiled wider. I finally allowed for my heavy, sleepy eyes to close shut. It felt good to not have to struggle to keep them open any longer. I heard Chase let out a sigh, and then I felt my body be lifted into the air by arms, and then it began to bounce lightly from being carried. I wanted to stay awake a little longer and listen to the thumping sound from his chest. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump.

But I was dozing off, and the last thing I could remember hearing was Chase muttering something that I was too dazed to comprehend.

** I'll let you guys decided for yourself on what Chase muttered. ;)

So, this one-shot is from a poll I did FOREVER AGO when I asked my readers what couples I should do. This is the last one, so now I feel obligated to do another poll just to keep things going. I like doing these one-shots when I suddenly have an idea that I can't incorporate into my other stories. So, I'll have a poll with a few couples that I would like to write and haven't already written a one-shot for. If you don't see a couple on the poll, you're always welcome to PM a request. I don't bite! :)

Anyways, thanks for reading! **