The waves rocked Zane's boat gently as they floated offshore. It had been a slow day for fishing, but it was relaxing just to sit out there and enjoy the view and the peace and quiet. Or it would have been if Nate hadn't been complaining nonstop since before they even left the docks. Honestly, Zane was questioning why he'd even invited him along in the first place.
They hadn't seen much of each other since he and Rikki started dating, and he realized what a terrible influence the other teen could be. But they'd been friends for such a long time he wanted to try and fix things between them, and hopefully stop all the backbiting that had been going on between Nate and Rikki all summer.
Cutting off the start of another complaint, Zane turned to Nate and waved his fishing rod a bit.
"With all the talking you're doing, it's no wonder we haven't gotten so much as nibble." He reeled his hook in with a small sigh. Looks like they weren't going to be having any fresh fish for lunch after all.
"Oi, you'd be complaining too if some nutty old woman tried to bite you! She ripped clean through my shirt!" Nate plucked at the torn collar of his polo shirt. "Took off a bit of skin too!" He rubbed at the scraped flesh with a grumble. "Lucky that officer saw it happening and pulled her off. She was raving as he cuffed her. She probably would have had another go if she wasn't being held back!"
Zane grinned, seeing an opportunity. He gave Nate's other shoulder a playful shove, "Oh, don't lie now. You were hoping she'd come back for a kiss!"
Nate sputtered in outrage while Zane laughed at him. Sometimes it was to easy to rile his friend up.
"Besides, it was just a little love bite, nothing to worry about." Zane turned away to bait his hook and cast out again. "Now do you mind shutting up for a bit? We might actually catch something without your screeching." Nate grumbled, but settled back as well.
They fished quietly for another hour, managing to nab a few small fish that they packed away for later. It was after another long stretch of silence that Zane finally stopped fiddling with his line and took a calming breath.
"Nate?" he called and waited until the other boy gave a soft grunt before continuing. "I know we haven't been mates lately. Things have gotten a little tense between us since Rikki and I started dating and then running the café. I understand that you were angry that I wasn't spending as much time with you. Not to mention the fact that you and Rikki keep butting heads with each other." Zane sighed and secured his pole to the rod holder on the side of the boat. He was glad Nate was just letting him talk. This was hard enough on his ego without the extra commentary Nate would usually give.
"The way that you two keep going at each other's throats, I felt like I had to choose between you." He chuckled a bit. "You two are pretty similar, you know?" He felt Nate shift in his seat and decided to take the plunge before he lost his nerve or Nate interrupted him.
"I want us to be close again like we used to be. We've been friends for a long time. I'd hate to just lose that over a stupid fight." He rubbed his hands down his shorts to dry them off from his nervous sweat.
If he was lucky, Nate wouldn't tease him too badly about talking about his feelings like a girl, but he'd felt like this was an important talk that they needed to have. He gave it a moment so Nate could speak if he wanted to. He was just about to say something else to his friend when he heard a soft choking sound behind him.
Brow furrowed Zane turned back in surprise. "Are you crying?"
Nate was sitting with his shoulders hunched and head down, with little gasping cries shaking his body. His own rod was lying along the bottom of the boat, abandoned there sometime since Zane had started talking.
Zane was frankly shocked. He hadn't see Nate cry since they were fourteen and the other boy had crashed his motorbike and broke his arm. A little hesitant he smiled and clapped a hand on Nate's shoulder.
"I didn't mean to make you so emotional."
But his smile slid off his face when Nate stopped shaking and straightened up in his seat. His face was covered in sweat and his skin was pale.
"Nate? You alright there?" Zane turned further and gave him a little shake, concerned that his usually chatty friend wasn't saying anything. Any further questions were cut off though when Nate suddenly growled and twisted towards Zane, grabbing at him.
"What the hell?!" Zane frantically reached out to grab ahold of the shorter teens shoulders in an attempt to try and hold him back. "Nate!"
But Nate just roared and violently scratched at Zane's face, his nails leaving red furrows down Zane's cheeks and neck. They struggled half sitting for a moment as Zane tried to reason with his friend.
"What is wrong with you? Stop!"
Zane's heart was beating faster amidst the fight, and his eyes grew wide when he saw Nate's eyes clouding over. By this point, the teen was beyond words as he started foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. If it weren't impossible, Zane would have thought the boy was getting stronger. He tried to turn and shove him overboard, but the grip Nate had on his shirt was too tight and they both ended up falling over the side and into the salty water.
Water pressed around them both as they grappled. It was only thanks to his childhood swimming classes that made Zane only take half a swallow of water before he forced his mouth shut. Their thrashing was making them sink, but with one hard kick he was able to break Nate's hold on his shirt.
Nate didn't seem to remember how to swim as he was still trying to grab at Zane as he sank down towards the dark depths of the ocean. He didn't even seem bothered that water was filling his throat and lungs. This was the last glance Zane had of him before he struggled back to the surface and to the boat. Gasping and spitting, Zane pulled himself back over the side of his red speedboat. He lay there, coughing and sprawled on the bottom of the boat for a minute as he tried to get his breath back.
Still coughing up water, he sat up and looked over the edge of the boat for Nate. He didn't know what had happened, but that wasn't like anything he'd ever seen before.
"N-Nate!" he yelled between breaths, but the water was rolling gently around the boat with no sign that anyone else had surfaced.
"Shit," he muttered as he looked around.
Taking a few slow breaths, he dove back in and swam down a few feet to look around. Nate was probably having some kind of fit when he attacked him. If it was a seizure, there was no way he'd be able to make it back to the boat himself. But seeing anything in the murky water grew nearly impossible ten meters down and he didn't have any gear with him to help dive deeper. Zane couldn't make out anything resembling his friend, and with Nate likely too far down to be seen, there was no way he'd get to him in time to save him.
Another cough hit him, his throat still irritated from falling in before, and he had to surface. He swam back to the boat and pulled his phone out of the small waterproof box they'd put them in that morning. Wiping water out of his eyes, Zane dialed the number for the coast guard. In his heart he knew it was probably already too late, but he had to try. Maybe Nate surfaced too far away from him to be seen.
"Come on, come on . . ." he muttered impatiently, but the line just kept ringing. Cursing to himself, Zane put the device on speaker and started the boat. He'd try to circle around a few times and see if he could spot Nate. At least he'd be doing something until he could get some divers out to help him.
It couldn't be too late. It was just a simple fishing trip. People didn't just randomly die on fishing trips.
His thoughts were repeating in his head as Zane circled and circled, and listened to the phone ring and ring and ring.