Minor Inconvenience

Eden Project 

Now that he was--somewhat guiltily--trying to get back into work, Charlie had taken up an extra task that he normally wouldn't have done. Delivery, from the gallery to the Eden Project. Taken the painting home overnight with him and now it had been handed off to the receptionist in the lobby. It was a simple, relatively inexpensive piece, really. And no one was at all shocked that it was butterflies.

But while he was here, he figured he might as well enjoy the relatively winter-less interior of the glass dome everything that came with it. He could see a few butterflies floating around, and he couldn't help but wonder if it was a lot more lively during the springtime when the insects flourished more naturally. Wondered if maybe Isolde would like to come check it out sometime...

Eh, whatever, that was neither here nor there. He was planning to head back out to work after a little walk-around. At least, such was the plan until he was leaning in close on one of the trails to get a good look at the bark on a really interesting tree that almost looked like it had been painted on when his foot slipped and into the drink it went.

Drink meaning... the stream. Which meant immediately a wet shoe and then a wet sock and there was nothing worse than wet socks. He retreated with a startled yowl and a stifled curse. That had been pretty dang cold, actually, and as he soggy-sole-squished his retreat away from the stream, in search of somewhere to sit and try and remedy this, he couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of it.

"Really?" he asked himself. "Gonna ruin a perfectly good morning with a wet sock?"

In all honesty, he was pretty sure he was alone in the immediate area, so talking to himself wasn't crazy. Plenty else in his life took that label from this more mundane moment. Fair? Fair.

Zachary found himself in Magic Hollow a lot these days. An oasis of peaceful vibes in a city suffering from the most recent violent attacks. He'd only recently found out about Chloe's death. Her face circling news outlets again now that someone else had been attacked. Whoever the poor soul on the news was, they surely didn't deserve such a terrible end.

He hunched his shoulders and kept walking. Practicing his teleportation in North Glenn sounded great in theory, but in reality he couldn't get out there all that often. Oddly enough, he had a pretty easy time teleporting near the salon or arcade here in Magic Hollow, familiarity likely playing a big part.

Today's practice had been a success, but Zachary hadn't felt like returning home just yet. If familiarity helped with his power then he really should be out exploring more. The sign for the Eden project looked interesting, a huge glass dome sticking out in the skyline. By the time he walked in, it was clear he'd need many more hours to properly appreciate such a massive place.

He paused for a brief moment to check out the map and headed off in the direction of the butterfly exhibit. A quick loop around there and then he'd head home. His feet hit the pavement and surrounded by the calming sound of nature, Zachary let his mind wander.

A splash up ahead had him come to a quick halt. There appeared to be another guest a few yards away who took an unexpected dip. Feeling brave, Zachary moved a little off the path. "You okay man?" The water didn't look deep at all, but it didn't hurt to ask.

Whoops, not quite so alone, it seemed!

Charlie was only minorly embarrassed, though. Being caught slipping into an artificial stream was loads less terrible than some of the things teenagers could come up with while suffering from senioritis.

Stopping, he looked up towards the other, younger man, and laughed briefly. "Yeah, yeah, just decided I'd like to spend the next little while deeply uncomfortable. And I suppose this is why we don't go off the path, huh?" He cast his gaze around for someplace to sit down, but nothing was immediately forthcoming.

Zachary had to smile back. The guy seemed to be taking it all in stride, with a added dash of self deprecating humor. He stayed near the path, feeling awkward. "If you take unsolicited advice I'd recommend getting that sock off immediately and if you have paper or padding using that to dry off the inside of the shoe." He hoped the guy had the temperament to match his friendly face and wouldn't mind a stranger's advice. As Zachary silently cataloged his own possessions and came up short, he only wished he had something more to offer.

"I uh, took a dip myself a few months ago and it wasn't fun." A little shared embarrassment went a long way, and Zachary thought the man friendly enough to engage a little further in conversation.

Well, there wasn't really any place to sit, but there was a little bridge across the offending stream, and it had a railing to lean up against. Charlie put his hip onto that and began to work the laces loose of his shoe, laughing faintly at the unsolicited advice. "Man, I'm going to have to go back to the lobby and see if they have tissues or something." He didn't even have to check his pockets--he was basically completely certain he had nothing.

Prying his heel out of the shoe, he grimaced at the sensation. Wet socks just weren't right. "Please tell me you at least committed and got both shoes wet." If you're going to screw it up, don't be half-hearted, right?

He set up shop a few feet away, watching the man carefully remove his shoe. The grimace pulled a huff of amusement from Zachary, who quickly brought up a hand to cover his grin.

He didn't mind sharing his own tumble into a lake. "Slipped trying to cross a shallow area near Red River. Turns out it was actually up to my knees." Zachary pretended to shudder. Even at the end of summer that water was icy.

"Ah, the deception of rivers," Charlie commented idly. He held his shoe in a couple of fingers for a moment, but decided if he was going to pry a wet sock off he was probably going to need both hands to get it over his heel and so, he dropped his shoe.

Well, he intended to drop it as his feet, and it did, but the rubber sole caught the ground at just such and angle that it decided to bounce. Sideways. Under the rail and into the shallow water of the gurgling stream.

By time he moved to do anything about this, the damage was done, and he stood there, looking over the edge of the small bridge to where his shoe was learning the true meaning of 'soaked' just below him.

"Huh," he commented.

There existed previous few circumstances that were more awkward than attempting to gracefully remove a wet sock. Zachary had only attempted such a feat twice in public. The first while on a camping trip leaning against a tree, and the second happening a few months ago which nearly resulted in him wiping out on the ground. However, Zachary also considered himself decidedly ungraceful and therefore prone to far more ridiculous accidents than most.

Then this man decided to take that statement as a challenge. Zachary watched in a mixture of horror and inappropriate glee as the shoe dropped, bounced, and landed right into the water. An overly theatric infomercial couldn't have done it better.

"Oh. My. God." He said with huge eyes.

Another man with hilariously misfortune. Was this Zachary's future??

"I'd say this is divine intervention, but honestly, I can't fathom what for," Charlie commented in a flat tone, torn somewhere between his own amusement and just wondering what his particularly nice morning had decided to turn into. Chewing his lip for a moment, he looked back around to where the younger man was waiting, then decided, "I'm going in for it."

Then, figuring he'd not risk two shoes to this, he decided to OFF with the first terrible sock with as much haste as he could, then he more expertly pried himself out of his dry shoe and the dry sock in turn. If he was going to ford the shallow but wide creek, he was going to do it as smart as he could.

He'd never offer a hug to a stranger, but under these circumstances, Zachary was prepared to break his rule. However, this guy either had the patience of a saint or was freaky good at hiding his frustration. With a growing respect, Zachary watched the man prepared to enter the water. He had to see how this would turn out.

"I'll uh, keep watch?" He took his post, guarding the man's single dry shoe.

"Thanks!" Charlie chirruped, definitely not loving this situation but... well, he'd never been one to cry about that which couldn't be undone. Shoe was wet. It was just a fact of the universe now. Much like how he'd woken up one morning with a cheetah in his brain.

And with bare feet, he decided to not venture off the path and around the side of the bridge. There were small rocks and damp dirt to contend with, and his human feet were not made for that. So... uh... inhuman strength was a plus, and it didn't take too much to get his own bodyweight up and over the railing, sitting there for a moment before he dropped lightly down into the water.

Getting the bottom of his jeans wet, naturally, as the illusion of the water made made it look more shallow than it actually was.

"Holy crap that's cold," he exclaimed breathlessly before he leaned down to retrieve the sodden footwear, before, making aims to climb back up the way he'd come.

The guy's feet disappeared and Zachary's toes curled in protest. That had to be frigid. Even with his close, personal relationship with ice, Zachary did not want his body anywhere near that water. He was very happy spectating over here.

He leaned down and secured the dry items, planning to meet the guy halfway.

As the other secured his fallen footwear, Zachary held back the urge to applaud. "I'm impressed. Let's get you out of there." He spoke truthfully. A roaring success and hopefully an end to this bout of misfortune.

Leaving wet footprints on the small bridge had not exactly been the plan for his morning, but hey, here they were. Managing to get himself firmly back on dry land, there was no denying the goosebumps that had broken out over his arms and the way his hair had risen on the back of his neck. But his warm-blooded nature would make quick work of it soon enough, and he shook out his wet shoe just enough to make sure it wasn't going to spill all over. Alright.

"Guess I'm committing to the barefoot life at this point," he said, "That'll teach me to take the scenic route through my work morning, eh?" And he reached for his dry articles, strangely grateful that this embarrassing ordeal was not his alone to hide forever.

He handed over the clothing dutifully, letting go his own laugh. "You did admirably. Had our roles been switched, there'd undoubtedly be a rescue involved." Now didn't that paint a pretty picture. Zachary a shivering mess and accidentally freezing the poor guy coming to help. No thank you.

"You going to be fine for work?" He looked pointedly at the man's toes. Hopefully this guy worked close by or had a change of shoes there.

Tucking wet sock into wet shoe, and dry sock into dry shoe, he hooked his fingers in the heels of them and let them hang at his sides while he shrugged with a grimaced laugh. "I'll be alright. I might head home to get a chance. Thankfully my boss is about as forgiving as anyone."

She was, right? She had yet to come at him for harboring Isolde under pretense. Either way, it wasn't like he was on the clock today so much as just helping out as one does. He'd have little hesitation in telling Yana the events of his morning if she asked, embarrassing or not. Yeah, nah, he'd be fine.

He extended a (probably cold) hand for a quick shake if the guy wanted it. "Thanks for watching me suffer. Guess I'm not taking this one to my grave."

For the best--there were worse secrets than an embarrassing anecdote.

Zachary shook the offered hand, noting the underlying warmth. The guy must run a little hotter than most, which was pretty beneficial considering today's event. "Your secret is safe with me." He confirmed, matching the guys smile.

Stepping back, Zachary gave a little wave. "Hey man, take care now and have a nice day." The satisfaction of a friendly encounter would linger for a while after. While this guy headed off to work, Zachary had a butterfly garden to visit.

He'd steer clear of the streams for the time being.

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