Chelsea walked into Denny's house about 20 minutes later to find him busily at work tying fishing nets. "Hey, Chels!" he exclaimed, jumping out of his seat to greet her. He hugged her quickly and then led Chelsea over to the table where he had left his net.

Chelsea picked up the net on the table. The rope was worn and stiff from trailing through salt water for many years. Small bits of seaweed clung to it here and there. It smelled like fish.

"Hey, Denny?" Chelsea pointed out, "I thought you were making new nets."

Denny had already grabbed another net from his pile and was pulling a knot tight with his teeth. "Ah famhn," he mumbled through the rope. Spitting it out, he clarified, "I am. It's just I need to fix the old ones up, too." He gave the rope a small tug, and snipped the end with scissors.

"There, that one's done," Denny declared, putting it aside. He then pulled out some clean ropes from a large sack in the corner. "Here, Chels," he said, handing her the ends of the ropes. "Let me show you how to make these." He twisted two ropes together, and pulled one through the loop. Then he tied them together in a complicated looking knot. "See?" Denny said. He repeated the steps, taking care to do it slowly. "Think you can do it?" Denny asked. Chelsea took the ropes uncertainly, fumbling her way through the knots as best she could. When she started to mess up Denny would just catch her hand and guide her through the step again. "Just tie these together… that's it!" he encouraged. Chelsea let out a frustrated laugh.

"This is really hard!" she complained lightly, attacking the knots with determined fervor.

"Hey, it took me a while to figure it out too," Denny confided, "But you're doing a good job. Just keep going like that. I'm going to work on my own net now." He motioned for her to sit in the chair. "I can sit on the floor and work. You, take a load off your feet," Denny ordered. Chelsea laughed.

"Bossy," she accused, dumping herself into the chair, "Don't worry about me. You just work on fixing your nets."

"Hey," he protested with a grin. Scooping up the next in the pile, he continued, "Ya gotta take care of the things that are important to you." He glanced at her briefly. Chelsea paused. Was there a double meaning in that? Nah, couldn't be. He was just talking about his fishing gear.

About an hour and ten sore fingers later, Chelsea finally set the net down. Denny, on the other hand, had completed two new nets and fixed up about ten in the same amount of time. "You're so good at this!" Chelsea praised with a hint of jealousy. His knots were neater, too.

"Practice, Chels. Practice," he replied, ruffling her hair through her bandana, "That net will still catch fish. Its brilliant for your first try, really."

"Really?" Chelsea repeated, looking hopefully into his eyes. He nodded, smiling. Chelsea grinned back shyly.

They continued to gaze at each other for a long moment. Denny's eyes lowered to Chelsea's lips. Her breath caught. Their faces hovered close together, uncertain.

Popper balked at the sudden charge in the atmosphere. He hopped forcefully onto Denny's head to diffuse it.

"Denny leave! Popper talk Chelsea," the bird demanded, bouncing to emphasize his point. "Now, now- Now, now! Denny leave," he insisted. Chelsea and Denny looked at each other in startled confusion. "Denny leave now!" Popper persisted. He gave Denny a peck on the head for good measure. Denny let out an irritated growl, but obliged, handing the bird off to Chelsea. He was too baffled to argue.

Popper strained his neck to watch the door. When he was sure Denny was gone, he spoke. "Denny mine. Chelsea mine. Denny no Chelsea. Chelsea no Denny," Popper told Chelsea importantly. "Mine," he emphasized.

Chelsea studied the bird. Was he saying that Denny and Chelsea didn't belong to each other? That he, Popper, had claimed the both of them and didn't want to share? "Chelsea not Denny's," she ventured, looking to the bird for verification. He puffed up excitedly.

"Right! Chelsea right! Chelsea mine," he chirped, hopping around her hand, "Denny mine. Mine, mine, mine."

Chelsea shook her head. What an odd little bird. His point was expressed, though, so Chelsea figured it was safe to call Denny back in.

"What the heck was that about?" Denny asked her as he swung the door open.

"Popper has sharing issues," Chelsea explained. The bird gave him a meaningful stare.

"Mine," he told Denny, hopping once on Chelsea's hand. He fluttered up and bounced on Denny's shoulders. "Mine," he claimed, "Mine, mine, mine."

Denny let out an exasperated sigh. "I don't know what's gotten into him lately," he lamented as the bird continued to bounce and chant, "I feel like I have to take him to training classes or something. But they really only offer those for dogs."

"Its cute that he's so attached to you," Chelsea offered, "In an annoying kind of way."

Popper kept bouncing, but now he was on the table, and the chair, and on top of fishing poles. "Mine, mine, mine," he continued to chant. Denny and Chelsea looked on, mesmerized, until he landed with a decisive thunk in front of them. "Miiiiiine," he stressed.

Denny and Chelsea burst out laughing. "Alright, alright," Chelsea giggled, "I've got to head home. See you later, Denny." She patted Popper on the head. "You too, Popper."

She had just stepped onto the bridge between Sprout and Verdure Island when she felt a net wrap around her torso. Her arms were pinned to her chest, and she was hauled back a few feet.

"Gotcha!" Denny cheered, pulling her even to his side. He twirled her playfully, and then unwrapped her. "You forgot your net," he scolded lightly, holding it out to her. She took it tentatively.

"But, I thought I was making you a new net?" she said with confusion. He barked a laugh.

"What, you think I'd make you do all that work for my own benefit? It's your net, fair and square," Denny informed her. He pushed her arms up so she was holding the net tight to her body. "Take it," he insisted softly.

Chelsea looked around once for Popper. Not finding him, she gave Denny a light peck on the cheek. "Thanks, Denny," she said warmly. Despite the darkening horizon, Denny's blush was evident.

Yes, she gave Denny a kiss. Oh, the drama!

Now I bet some of you are wondering, how is she writing so much this fast? What is she doing? (Or not doing?) To answer that question, I am touring Yale, and I am not working on my Gold Award X)

Like always, please review! And follow. And mark the story as your favorite, and me as a favorite author- well okay, you don't have to go that far. Constructive criticism is welcome, though.