Disclaimer: No, but come August seventh...
The Best Laid Plans.
For The Animanga Girl, who gave me this awesome prompt.
The evening had been going surprisingly well. So well, in fact, that Once-ler found himself wondering why he had been nervous in the first place. He loved spending time with Norma, no matter what they were doing, and judging by the number of times they ended up doing nothing at all together he assumed she felt the same. Really, the only difference between this particular evening and all the others they'd spent together was that they were both dressed a little more nicely. Also, Once-ler kept thinking that it was incredibly warm, despite the cool night air on his face. There was also the fact that they were alone together. Intentionally. As in, they were on a date.
Dating was a new experience for Once-ler. Back home, there had been few girls his age and all were either taken or not interested, it seemed. It wasn't as if he hadn't tried, it just had never worked out. As for Norma, they'd never talked about past relationships so whatever experience she had was a mystery to him. It had just never come up. He wasn't sure that he wanted to know.
It didn't matter as they followed the thin path through the grasslands surrounding Greenville, hand in hand as they decided on a spot to sit. An old picnic basket weighed heavily in Once-ler's hand, full of various sweets he had acquired throughout the day.
The town glowed dimly over the hill behind them as Norma began pulling him away from the path and pointing to a gentle rise in the land. "Oh, let's stop here!" He smiled, letting her guide him to her chosen spot. She plopped down into the grass with no worry of grass stains on her skirt.
"I think I slept through this area when I passed through before. I don't remember any of it." Once-ler glanced around, chuckling softly. There was roughly a half mile of empty fields between Greenville and the edges of the Truffula forest. I was a lovely place to visit. They were far enough from town to feel alone and far enough from the forest to avoid being pestered by wildlife, save the occasional rustle from the bushes. Norma laughed.
"Do you even know how you got here?"
"Nope. I let Melvin do the driving. He usually remembers the way back pretty well."
"Well, I guess it's good that you did. Otherwise you might not have ended up here." She smiled at him and nudged her shoulder against his arm. Suddenly, he felt his face grow warm again. Those little nudges and smiles she liked to give him made him nervous. He glanced around, nervous habits dictating he look at anything but the pretty girl sitting next to him. "Oh!" He'd quickly forgotten the basket. "A-are you hungry? I brought some stuff."
"Actually, yeah! I haven't eaten since lunch. What'd you bring?" Once-ler leaned away from her and she tried to look around him at the heavy basket. "That thing looks heavy."
"Oh, just stuff." He lugged the basket onto his lap - it was very heavy - and flipped open the lid. For a moment he stared. Wordlessly, he closed it again. "On second thought..."
"We don't need to eat."
"Once? Come on, I'm really hungry." She made a grab for the basket, but he held her back with one hand.
"Really, it isn't even anything that good." He tried to reason with her, but she threw herself over him, trying her best to swipe the basket from him. Once-ler nearly panicked. She was on top of him, swinging her arms wildly while he went rigid underneath her, an intense blush coloring his entire face. It scared the living daylights out of him. What was he supposed to do? Shove her off? Lay there and let her climb on him? Freeze up completely seemed like the best option, his body decided on it's own.
With no resistance being offered, Norma easily snagged the basket and drug it close. Still draped across her boyfriend, she flipped the lid and squeaked as a furry paw kicked out at her. "Eh! What?"
"I...um...I seem to have brought someone along. By accidental." Once-ler mumbled in a shaky voice. Norma blinked at him, noticing that she was still laying on him. With a mumble and small blush of her own she rolled away and sat up with the basket.
"All right, little guy. Come on." She tipped the basket, unceremoniously dumping a small barbaloot into her lap. It was a barely recognizable Pipsqueak. His brown fur was caked with icing and what looked like blueberries. It smiled up at her innocently.
"I'm sorry." Once-ler, now calmer and moving again, scooted next to her. He plucked the baby barbaloot from her and used his sleeve to wipe some of the gunk from it's face. "I had cake for us, but as you can see..."
"It must've been good, if he finished it all off himself." Norma pouted a little, watching Once-ler clean up the cub. "Wish we could've had some."
Once-ler hummed thoughtfully, motioning that he wanted the basket. She passed it over and he tipped it, shaking it a little until a small, cloth-wrapped bundle tumbled out. "Ah, I was hoping it would be there."
"Well, he's got a sweet tooth, so he usually doesn't go for regular food. I packed these in case you didn't want cake." He passed her the bundle, which she unwrapped to find four soft rolls. They were a lovely golden brown and looked delicious. It wasn't cake, but she found her mouth watering a little just looking at them. "Sorry it's not much."
"No, these look great!" She beamed at him, earning a small smile from the young man. "I wish I could make things like this. t must be nice."
"It's useful sometimes, I guess. " His occasional modesty made her smile. She was so used to his unfailingly determined salesman act that she didn't often get to see him not playing up his talents. She liked it.
"Well, I think these are going to be delicious. Here." She divided them up, offering him two. He tried to refuse them, but she shoved them into his hands anyway. No way was she going to eat all their food in front of him.
He chuckled quietly at her gesture and looked down at the cub in his lap. Or at least, where there had been a cub moments before. He glanced around and turned to Norma, confused. "When did he-Did you see him leave?"
"No, I...Wait, do you hear that?"
They froze, eyes straining through the night sounds around them. Through the stirring of crickets came an odd fwup fwup sound. Something about it tickled at the back of Once-ler's mind. It was familiar, but where had he heard it? He looked to Norma, who was glancing uneasily around and clutching her rolls. It was growing louder. Cautiously he climbed to his feet, pulling Norma with him. Not far away, shifting sporadically about the Truffula trees, was a cloud, growing bigger by the second. No, not a cloud...
"Swamme Swans!" Norma squeaked, as he yelped and grabbed her by the hand. They dodged aside, narrowly missed as several swans dive-bombed the basket. The flock wasn't quite as large as it had looked in the dark, there were perhaps a dozen altogether, but they descended with such a ruckus of squawking and fighting that the two humans high-tailed it away from their picnic spot. They stopped at the bottom of the hillock, looking in disbelief at the swarm of birds attacking the upended basket. Norma couldn't help herself. She looked up at Once-ler in confusion.
"What...What is this?"
"I-I don't know." He pursed his lips into a frown, studying the spectacle now that they were a safe distance away. "They must've seen me leave with the basket and decided to come along. Kind of like Pipsqueak did."
"This is crazy."
"Yeah." He didn't look at her, knowing there would be disappointment in her face. He had wanted this to be a nice evening. Nothing special, just nice. He couldn't even manage that, apparently. Norma sighed next to him, sounding closer than she had been before. Gently, her small hand reached out to his, entangling itself with his long fingers.
"Oh." He was disappointed too. He didn't bother to hide it. warm pressure on his hand pulled his attention away from the feeding frenzy and down to his date. A small smile played along her lips. He was almost tempted to return it.
"I think you should walk me home."
"Sure. Tonight's kind of a bust anyway, huh?"
"I didn't say that." The smile widened. She reached out to tap his nose playfully. "I just said I think you should walk me home. If we stop for coffee along the way and take our time...well, there's no reason for tonight to go to waste. Right?" He pulled her to him, hugging her against her chest and chuckling. She laughed as she hid her red cheeks against his shirt and wrapped her free arm around him.
"That, Norma Wiggins, is an excellent idea."
"Of course it is." He tousled her curls with his other hand and she pulled away from him. Taking his hand again and with a gentle tug, they set off through the grass together. Nothing had gone like they'd planned. Their quiet even was interrupted and their snacks were stolen, but things were looking up.
As far as first dates went, it was pretty terrible. As far as retries at a first date went, it was going to be a wonderful evening.
That was so fun! It ended up being long enough to stand alone so it's become a one-shot. I may possibly do a second part, but since I have other projects it may not happen for a while.
Thank you for reading, everyone! Please take a few seconds to tell me what you think!