Hullo, my droplets! I know, I know, I shouldn't be working on another fic when I've got three going right now. But I rented this film and it whacked me like a ton of bricks. I've always adored Surf's Up and it's unique mockumentary style formatting. The characters have always been wonderfully colorful and fullfilling. I feel its one of the greatest overlooked animated films of the decade (Nostalgia Critic really should do a Top 11 list of Overlooked Animated Films). This certain fic was inspired by one line Cody says in the film: "It's hard enough losing one dad, but-" I decided to expand on that.
So please read and enjoy, and don't forget to review! This is a father-son relationship fic, NOT A SLASH (sorry yaoi fans). Then, if you're interested, pop over to my major fic-quel, 9: The Savior Returns! Catch you later!
~Raindrops to all, Cel
Rhythm Of The World
The day was slightly warmer than usual. "Slightly warmer" in Antarctica means that a blizzard wasn't ravaging the small town of Shiverpool, located on the flat surface of an iceberg. On those particular days, production at the fish sorting plant always went up at least ten percent. Rockhopper penguins circled the large piles of fish continuously, mackerel and carp flying through the air. The grey clouds hovering above promised a storm soon and production was quickly shutting down. Only hardened professionals could work in conditions such as a blizzard, as the fish piles would be difficult to see.
Before the day ended, however, a middle-aged Rockhopper man was walking across the town, holding the tiny flipper of a small three-year-old boy. The young penguin looked all around, his warm brown eyes full of wonder. It wasn't often he got to go on walks with his father, let alone without his big bully of a brother. His father was usually working and far too busy to play with young Cody Maverick. Robert Maverick meant well by his two boys and his wife, Edna. However, by the time he got home, he was far too tired to see his sons. Days like this were always very special to Cody and he was always excited for when they came around.
"Alright son," Bob said to little Cody. The toddler looked up at his father expectantly. "Now, your old man's gonna show you how to catch the best tuna in these waters." Cody nodded excitedly.
"I'mma ready, Pa." He squeaked as they approached the edge of town. Bob let go of his son's flipper and took the camera from around his neck. He loved photography and was the only penguin on the island that had a camera. He often took pictures of the employees at the fish sorting plant as well as the natural wonders that occurred over and around Shiverpool. One of his most prized pictures was that of the aurora australis flickering and dancing over the town. Bending down, Bob held out his camera to Cody. The little penguin knew how precious his Pa's camera was to him and was very proud that he got to hold it.
"Now Cody, I want you to take a picture of your Pa when he's got a big fish. Press this button here to take a picture." Bob instructed, pointing out the right button. Cody nodded. Raising the camera, squinting through the eyepiece, Cody suddenly snapped a picture in Bob's face. The older penguin gave a shout and then chuckled, rubbing his eyes from the sudden flash.
"Okay, now, don't blind your old man." Bob said and Cody nodded, looking a bit guilty.
"Sowwy, Pa." He apologized. Bob chuckled, ruffling the feathers atop his son's head while the toddler giggled. Bob then got to his feet and turned to the water, cracking his neck and stretching his flippers. Turning back to his son once more, Bob winked. "Now, don't lose Pa's camera, 'kay?" Cody nodded vigorously, showing that he had a good grip on the piece of equipment. Bob smiled down at his son before diving into the frigid waters. Cody kept watch on the foaming ripples where his father had disappeared into the black waters. He was quite ready to take his first picture, tip of his flipper on the button. After a few moments, Bob leapt out of the water onto a small ice flow next to the shore. In his beak he had a large Bluefin tuna. It's white, blue, and yellow body shimmered as it flopped about. Bob turned and held up his catch to his son. Cody clapped wildly. "Go, Pa! It'sa big fishie!"
"That's right, son. Premium Bluefin right here. We're gonna eat good tonight!" Bob declared while Cody rubbed his round belly, thinking of the delicious tuna he was going to eat tonight. Then, he remembered the picture he was supposed to take of Bob. Getting hold of the camera, he aimed it at his father, trying to get just the right angle.
"Remember what I showed yah, Cody?" Bob called from the ice flow. Cody nodded, his tongue sticking out the side of his orange beak. Bob grinned at his youngest son and held up the now-still tuna with a smile. The two Rockhoppers were so preoccupied with the photograph that they didn't notice the tall, sleek black fin emerging from the dark waters beside Bob. Cody got just the right angle on his father and he determinedly held it. "Say fish!" He called out to his father.
Then, it happened so fast. There was a roar and rushing water. The gigantic body of an orca heaved from the water, immense jaws open wide. Each sharp tooth was aimed for the unaware Bob. Water flew from its sleek satin skin as it sailed right for Cody's father. The camera snapped just as the orca flew through the air. Cody's brown eyes grew wide as he dropped the camera and reached for his father. "Pa, look out!"
But little Cody's warning was far too late. Bob looked up at his son's scream at the last minute into the dark throat of the killer whale. That was the last thing he saw as the darkness engulfed him and the orca clamped its jaws around him, disappearing into the water with a gigantic splash. Cody could only stare forward, tears streaming from his eyes down his feathered cheeks. The water settled slightly, leaving only a dark, empty space where Bob had just stood. Cody sobbed as he realized that Bob was gone.
Cody suddenly snapped back into reality. In an instant, the frigid cold of Antarctica was replaced with the pleasant warmth of Pen Gu Island. He was no longer a small, three-year-old toddler, but a seventeen-year-old teenager. The young Rockhopper sat bolt upright, his heart pounding painfully against his sternum. It took a few moments for him to gain his bearings and realize exactly where he was. He was lying in the soft, white sands of Big Z's beach, sleeping in the familiar board shack constructed from the trunk of a fallen palm tree. It had just been a terrible nightmare.
Cody blinked, feeling his brown eyes immediately fill with tears. Ashamed, the teenager angrily wiped away the tears from his eyes with the back of his flipper, sniffling softly. Sighing to himself, he turned to see if his mentor, Ezekiel "Big Z" Topanga was still asleep. Sure enough, the chubby Emperor penguin was sound asleep, snoring loudly as he lay on his stomach, surrounded by empty clam shells. Relieved that he hadn't woken the old surfer, Cody got to his feet and walked across the pristine beach, the gentle roar of the waves filling the night air. The young penguin closed his eyes and took a deep breath, loving the smell of the salty, crisp waters.
Cody walked up and down the beach for a few minutes, kicking up the fine sand. The waves swelled up and down the beach, sea foam coating the edge of the island. Cody watched the waters for a moment, sighing. He couldn't keep the tremulous thoughts from rushing forward and Cody knew he wouldn't be able to sleep for the rest of the night – not after being startled awake like that. Figuring a little late-night surf would help clear his mind, Cody walked back towards the surf shack. Making sure to keep quiet, he picked out his koa board and tucked it underneath his fin. Walking towards the water, he swung out the board and laid it on the water. Lying on his chest, Cody dug his flippers into the water and paddled out to sea.
For a few moments, the young surfer rode the smaller waves, easing his board in and out of the swell. The waves splashed around him, droplets coating his sleek black feathers. After a few moments of gliding along the small waves that crashed to the beach, Cody rode the board into the calmer waters. When all was still, he plopped down, lying on his back. The poor young penguin stared up into the sky. Millions of stars twinkled serenely over the island, spreading as far as the eye could see. Cody gazed up at the dark blanket of the sky, flippers over his chest. His mind was filled with troubling thoughts. It had been years since he last dreamed of his father, or even thought of that memory.
Cody remembered running right back to his igloo home, screaming to his mother that the whale had taken his pa. Edna hadn't understood him at first before she finally understood her wailing son. Soon a small group of penguins were gathered at the edge of town, right where Robert Maverick had been supposedly snatched up. Some young male penguins dove into the water to see if they could locate Bob. After a half an hour of careful searching, they had to return to shore and admit defeat. Bob was really gone for good, eaten whole by an orca. Edna had cried and cried while Glen, who was seven at the time, cornered Cody afterwards, telling him that their father's death was all his fault.
"If it wasn't for your stupid picture, he wouldn't have been distracted and gotten away. It's your fault Pa's dead. It's all your fault."
From then on, Cody put up a sort of emotional shield around the memories of his father. Whenever Bob was mentioned, he became very defensive. He never spoke of his father around Edna or Glen and very rarely mentioned him to the other citizens of Shiverpool. Cody insisted that he couldn't remember anything of Bob and shrugged off any sort of sympathy given to him. However, it had all been a sham and nobody except Cody himself knew that. What all the other Rockhoppers also didn't know was how badly Cody missed Bob. Whenever he saw a father with his kid, be in in Shiverpool or on Pen Gu, Cody would have to turn and walk the other way. The pang of longing he felt for a father was oftentimes unbearable.
Although he was only three, Cody could still very well remember the time he spent with his father. Bob would always give Cody rides on his big, strong shoulders and swing him around and around by his flippers. He was always the first to stop Glen from constantly picking on poor young Cody. Cody loved his Pa dearly and wished that he could have seen his son grow into the penguin he was, see how much he had learned. He would have loved to see Cody surf, instead of shrugging him off like Edna and Glen constantly did. It was important for a boy to have a father to teach him the ways of life and bring him along into adulthood. Cody had missed that. Closing his eyes, the poor boy let a single tear fall from his eyes and into the ocean, wishing that, if only for a few moments, he could have his father back.
"Cody? What are you doin' way out here?" A deep, familiar voice said. Cody quickly scrubbed his eyes with the back of his flipper, trying to remove any evidence that he'd been crying. Sitting up, he turned his head slightly to see Zeke on a board, paddling up to him slowly. The plump Emperor penguin slowed his board to rest beside Cody's, looking at the young penguin in concern. "It's pretty late to be surfin'. You alright, Code?" Zeke asked gently, noticing how red Cody's brown eyes were. The younger penguin sniffed and turned his head away, shrugging.
"Yeah. 'M fine. Just wanted to surf a little, y'know." Cody mumbled, looking down at the board beneath him. Zeke cocked an eyebrow, studying Cody closely. Instead of pressing the issue, the older surfer shrugged and leaned forward on his own board.
"Mind if I join you, man?" Zeke asked, paddling away. Cody looked over his shoulder at him, wondering what the old surfer was up to. Sighing, he turned his board and followed Zeke into a slightly larger swell. The two penguins dove underneath it, beams of moonlight dancing through the surf. The light glistened on the water and their sleek feathers, illuminating the beautiful night. Standing, Zeke easily rode down the wall of water, looking completely in his element. Cody followed a bit more unsteady than his friend. Even though he tried to direct his concentration on riding the wave, he couldn't help but think of his father. His board swayed unsteadily, threatening to go over. Cody quickly righted himself, breathing a quick sigh of relief. Zeke had watched Cody nearly wipe out and realized that the young surfer really was upset tonight. Riding his board in front of Cody's, he stopped the young penguin.
"What?" He asked in confusion. Zeke always encouraged him to go for the next wave, not stopped him. Zeke pointed back to the beach.
"Go put your board back on the beach, then swim back to me. I wanna talk." Zeke directed. Cody sighed and rolled his eyes. He in no way wanted to talk about what was bothering him, but it would be no use arguing with Zeke. The older penguin was one of the most stubborn Cody had known. Obeying the other man, Cody paddled his board to shore. Zeke followed him, worried for Cody. The hotheaded teenager was usually never this quiet or unsteady on his board. He had been riding with such finesse lately it was incredible. In those months Cody had been on Pen Gu Island, he had grown in many ways and never surfed better. After depositing the koa board next to the shack, Cody walked back into the water. The shrinking waves broke around his knees as he waded to Zeke.
"Come on. Take a seat." Zeke said, patting the other end of his board. Cody heaved himself out of the water and sat on the other end of the surfboard. Without a word, Zeke paddled them both out into deeper water while Cody sat on the edge of the board, webbed feet dragging in the water. Soon, Zeke stopped paddling, ending their trip behind the huge balanced rock in the middle of the water, off the south end of the beach. Cody looked up at his mentor in confusion.
"Why'd you paddle us all the way out here, man?" He asked. Zeke sat back with a sigh, looking down at Cody with a soft expression, his dark brown eyes warm.
"So you could talk to me without anybody hearin' on the beach." Zeke replied. Cody scoffed and turned away. Zeke leaned forward slightly. "C'mon, Code. What's buggin' yah?"
"Nothin', man. Nothin'." Was Cody's immediate reply. Zeke shook his head and scooted himself further up the board, closer to Cody. He reached forward with a flipper, laying it gently on Cody's shoulder. The young surfer didn't look up at his mentor, instead turning away. He had never really talked about his father, not even to Edna. She rarely mentioned him either and Cody didn't want to upset her or get picked on by Glen for doing so. So it was quite difficult to even consider telling Zeke about his father and how he felt not having one.
"C'mon, Cody. You know you can tell me anything. It's alright, man. You know I'm here for yah." Zeke urged gently, peering down into Cody's face. Cody finally looked up at his mentor, frowning sadly. While Zeke was a unique individual, he was still very kindhearted and Cody had a very deep trust for him. Despite his stubbornness and hotheadedness, the young penguin knew he would feel vastly better if he finally allowed himself to tell someone how he felt about his father and he found himself grateful that it was Zeke.
"Well, it's…it's about my dad," Cody said softly, looking down at his fins. Zeke blinked in surprise and leaned back, completely caught off-guard. He really didn't know Cody to have parent issues. He rarely talked about his mother and brother, but never mentioned his father before. He wrote to his mother Edna back and forth ever since setting up a permanent residence on Pen Gu Island.
"What about your dad?" Zeke prompted gently, wondering whatever the problem could be. Cody sighed, closing his eyes and bending his head. He wasn't quite sure how to begin, having never really spoken about Bob, so he figured that he'd better start at the very beginning, while Zeke listened closely.
"When I was a kid, me and my dad went out to go fish together. He even gave me his camera to take some pictures. And he loved that camera, loved taking pictures. Anyway, we went out to the edge of town to get dinner. He told me to take a picture once he got the fish. Then…man it happened so fast that Dad didn't stand a chance, y'know. This huge killer whale jumped out of the water and just – snap! – gone. Some older dudes went out to try and find him, but they knew he was gone. They were just trying to console Mom. Afterwards everyone blamed for it. 'Cody if you hadn't distracted him,' 'Cody if you had warned him earlier.' So I always acted like I didn't remember. I always acted like I didn't remember him, so I couldn't have missed him. Every time a teacher said, like, 'Oh, Cody, I'm so sorry about your dad,' I always just told them I didn't remember. I was afraid that…" Cody trailed off for a second. Zeke watched him closely, patiently waiting for the young penguin to continue.
"I was always afraid that if I started telling everyone how much I missed my dad that they'd see me as weak. They already saw me as the weirdo who was obsessed with surfing. And…and Glen always told me Dad's death was my fault. He always blamed me that he lost Dad too. If…if I told my mom how much I missed him, I couldn't ever even look at her again. She cried for weeks after he died. If I told everyone I missed him, then they'd knew I remembered him. Then I would get blamed even more." Cody then sighed, dropping his head into his flippers. He ran a flipper through his bright yellow eyebrow crests, hating the memories that came flooding forward.
"When I was younger, a few years after he died, I kept having nightmares almost every night, just the same memory over and over. My mom tried to help by telling me that I'd eventually get over them. I stopped telling her after the first few weeks. I used to think that it wasn't my fault until everyone started judging and telling me that it was. I've just kept everything inside, trying to ignore it. Sometimes I just try to forget the fact that I ever had a dad." Cody said, looking down at his rippling reflection. Zeke looked down at the young penguin, feeling nothing but empathy for Cody. Just as he opened his beak to say something, Cody laughed and shook his head.
"Why're you laughing?" Zeke asked incredulously. Cody could only chuckle again.
"Why am I talkin' to you, man? It's not your problem." Cody said bitterly. Zeke immediately shook his head and leaned forward, putting a flipper on Cody's shoulder. The younger penguin glared up at him.
"Kid, listen to me. I know that if you keep all your problems hidden, you end up like I was. Lost. You need friends to listen because that what they're for. That's what I'm here for. There's just one thing I want to know. Has it been bothering you lately or something? You've never really mentioned anything like this before or seemed bothered. I was just wonderin'." Zeke said, peering down at Cody. The younger penguin sighed, dipping the tip of his flippers in the shining, dark waters beneath him. Now this particular part of his story was extremely hard to admit. It made him feel weak and vulnerable. However, he knew he had to trust Zeke. Taking a deep breath, Cody closed his eyes.
"Z, I'm turning eighteen in a few weeks and that means I'm a man. But…but I've got nobody to teach me how. Y'know, in Shiverpool and even here I see these kids with their dads and I think how they're going to, y'know…have their dads with them, teach 'em how to do things right. But me? I'm just going to screw everything up. I'm just going to be a loser." Cody finished, sighing and dropping his head into his flipper. Zeke blinked in surprise, never expecting Cody to say something like this. He felt for the poor boy, realizing how lonely he had been with only surfing to console him. Zeke looked down at Cody for a few moments before reaching forward with his fins. He put them both around Cody and pulled the boy closer. Cody opened his eyes and looked up at Zeke in surprise and confusion. The older surfer sighed and put a flipper around Cody's shoulders.
"Cody, I know it's hard not having a dad to be there for you…y'know, to teach you how life works. And I know it's been hard to go through life alone. But you've already learned the most important lesson of being a man. That life isn't always about you and that you have to have the courage to care for someone else. You've learned that the most important things in life aren't trophies – it's about being in the moment. Surfing isn't a contest to see whose better. It's the rhythm of the world and our connection to everything." Zeke said gently. He then looked down for a moment before continuing. "And I know that I could never take the place of your dad. But I hope that you do know that I will always be there for you, Code. You turned me around when I was pretty lost. You are already one of the bravest men I've met. I am very proud of you, Cody." Zeke said, grinning down at the young penguin. Cody looked up at Zeke in astonishment. The older surfer only smiled wider, his expression soft and his brown eyes twinkling. Cody smiled back and Zeke lifted his fin, playfully ruffling the top of Cody's head. The young penguin smiled even wider.
It was in that moment Cody realized he wasn't alone. He'd finally found his father in Zeke. The older penguin had taken him in when he was the most lost in his life he'd ever been. He showed him what truly matters in life and Cody felt as if he was finally moving forward in his life. He was going to turn eighteen and truly launch into his life. Instead of feeling extreme trepidation, he was now excited for what was to come.
Sitting up on his knees, Cody leaned forward and wrapped his flippers around Zeke, hugging him tightly. Zeke blinked in surprise, looking down at Cody in confusion. However, he soon felt Cody's shoulders quiver as he silently cried into his mentor's shoulder, closing his eyes tightly. This time, he let the tears come forward and run down his orange beak, soaking into Zeke's feathers. The older penguin then enfolded the young surfer in his fins, holding him close. The two sat like for a moment, bobbing gently on the dark waters. Cody sniffled quietly, hiding his face into Zeke's shoulder.
"Love you, man," Cody murmured, his voice muffled in his friend's thick black feathers. However, Zeke heard him very clearly. The older surfer's response was to hug the teenager closer and reply, "Yeah, me too kid." They remained like this for a few more moments before Zeke got a mischievous gleam in his eye. He withdrew from Cody slightly and gripped his sides with his fins. Cody was about to ask what was going on when Zeke playfully tossed him into the water. Cody surfaced a moment later, coughing and spluttering in confusion, to find Zeke on the surfboard, guffawing loudly. In retaliation, Cody gripped the side of the surfboard and tipped it over, sending Zeke into the water as well with a shout. The two penguins shared a good laugh for a moment before climbing back onto the surfboard.
For the rest of the night, after retrieving his koa board, Cody and Zeke rode along the gigantic midnight waves roaring to shore. Just as the blue light of dawn was shining on the ocean, Cody and Zeke found themselves encased in a gorgeous tube. Turquoise waters churned over their heads, foam and droplets splashing onto their feathers. That exhilaration, the peace that Cody felt whenever he was inside the waves of Pen Gu engulfed him. He let his flipper drag through the wave, smiling widely. Sunlight filtered through the wave and glinted off his sleek black feathers. Looking up, he saw Zeke smiling over his shoulder at him through the bright orange light of sunrise. Cody smiled back at him as he sailed smoothly out of the tube, knowing that he was going to surf into a bright future knowing that he finally had a father beside him.