A Bad Day, Getting Better
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A flick of the wrist; a quiet buzzing; a distant splash. He toyed with the reel, making the lure dance and twirl in the water below. His legs dangled off the edge of the dock, perhaps the only reason he wasn't tapping a foot impatiently.

"C'mon, fishies," he said, almost to himself. "Daddy needs a new pair of shoes, and he's too lazy to go out and hunt."

He gave the line a gentle tug, and then another, giving the lure the appearance of life. Sighing, he turned his head towards the horizon; he couldn't help but smile a little at the sunset, golds and oranges and reds painting the sky.

"Nice day, at least," he muttered.

The Hume reeled in another inch of line. Suddenly, the line jerked; the hook had found a mark. With a slow grin, he cautiously continued to reel, and the line grudgingly surrendered. Emboldened, he turned the crank faster, and within seconds he heard the sound of something being pulled out of the water.

The second he caught sight of it, he frowned. "Oh, come on! How many of these things are there?!"

Reluctantly, he hauled the rusty bucket up and lifted it by the handle, which had been snagged by the hook. With a frustrated groan, he upended it and emptied the water and mud within, then threw it to one side.

The bucket clanked noisily as it came in contact with two others, which had been similarly discarded.

"I've done that today," said a familiar female voice behind him.

He glanced over his shoulder, half sheepish and half agitated, but managed to smile nonetheless. "Rough day?" he asked, almost rhetorically.

The Mithra nodded, joining him on the dock and sitting down, setting her fishing rod to one side. "I WAS fishing a bit further down... no luck there, either."

He chuckled. "I was wondering why you didn't ambush-pounce me like you usually do."

Her smirk was obvious in her voice. "Well, you are sitting just over the water. You can climb out of a fountain; this would just be rude." She threw him a shrewd look. "And it's not ambushing. Ambushing takes planning."

Cocking his wrist back, he cast the line out again, smiling a little more. "I am aware of the legal distinction," he said with intentional dryness.

She snickered, then sighed. "Well... yeah, it has been a rough day," she admitted, her ears folding back and her head tilting downward.

"You wanna talk about it?"

She shook her head. "It's just a lot of little things... just one of those days, where it doesn't feel like anything's going right."

"Hmm. Just one of those days," he parroted. Without waiting to hook another bucket, he casually drew in his line. "Well, sorry to hear it. If it makes you feel any better," he motioned towards the pile of buckets, "I'm gonna throw these back so someone else can suck at this too."

"How charitable of you," she said flatly, grinning just slightly.

"Hey, I'm a firm believer in paying it forward." He reached over and grabbed the nearest bucket. With a grunt, he hurled the offending chunk of metal back into the water, where it splashed, filled and quickly sank.

She watched him through amused eyes. "Is that so?"

"Try one. It might help." Picking up another bucket, he added, "It makes ME feel a little better, anyway; knowing someone else is gonna find this crap."

"Wouldn't it make more sense to throw the bucket in the trash?"

"Probably." He reeled back and heaved the second bucket into the water; it sailed just a few feet wide of an empty rowboat, splashing noisily and sinking in seconds.

Her tail twitched as she raised a curious eyebrow. "Well... why not?" she said to herself; she half-leaned, half-crawled and snatched up the remaining bucket, then stood up and balled one hand into a fist.

He glanced up at her. "Going for distance?"

She clenched and unclenched her hand, silently popping each knuckle. She exhaled softly as she hurled the rusty bucket a few feet into the air, then drew her right arm back. As the bucket fell back down, her fist rocketed forward in a brutal haymaker punch and slammed hard into its corroded metal surface. The side was dented in by the force of the blow, even as the bucket was knocked clear of the dock, well beyond either bucket the Hume had thrown.

The now-dented rusty bucket smacked into the surface of the water and sank almost instantly.

"Something like that," she said with a satisfied smile, cradling her right hand with the left.

Chuckling, the Hume picked up his fishing rod and slowly rose to his feet. "Forget what I said about paying it forward," he quipped. "You, I think, should stick to paying it back."

Her eyes glinted with amusement, and she covered her mouth to quiet a laugh. "I'll keep that in mind."

Collapsing and slinging the rod, the Hume smiled at her. "C'mon. You feel like eating? I'm buyin'."

The Mithra's ears twitched, as did her tail. "What's on the menu?" she asked, coming up along side him as he started up the dock.

"Anything you like," he confidently replied, "as long as it's cheap."

"Aww, isn't that sweet of you."

"I try. Let's mosey."

As they followed the path north, he felt something soft brushing against one of his legs. He couldn't help but grin as she playfully, if discreetly and momentarily, curled her tail partway around his leg.

"I'm gonna put a bow on that one of these days," he remarked. "A bow or a bell."

"Mm-hmm." She gave him a challenging stare. "Good luck, Hume-boy."

"Thanks, I think I'm gonna need it."

He swore he heard her say something under her breath; "The ribbon better be red."