She'd been searching for hours.
Her little snorkel bobbing up and down along the calm waves of the ocean, Lilo Pelekai was in search of a friend.
Armed with her trusty peanut butter sandwich - fresh peanut butter and everything! - she wasn't leaving without a fight, neither. She was going to find this fish come hell or high water. After all the effort she'd gone to, only a fool would turn back now.
"Puuudge?" Lilo's face rose above the waves. Somehow expecting the fish to not only hear her, but also understand and respond in kind, it was fair to say she was a bit out of her depth. The strain in her legs hinted at perhaps more ways than one.
"Where are you Pudge?" She called again, her voice far less invested this time. While it wasn't exactly standard practice to feed a fish sandwiches, this one was a special fish, and could control the weather!
So therefore Lilo made the brave efforts to feed this special fish a peanut butter - not tuna - sandwich, and keep the people of Hawaii safe. It was completely selfless, and all it cost was the price of peanut butter and bread once or twice a month.
Which was a lot more than Lilo could realistically afford, admittedly. Her sister Nani wasn't rich, and everything was always so expensive and...
and Pudge just wasn't to be found today.
Lilo let out a small sigh, and flopped back to shore. One last reproachful glance at the waves had her spirits dropping farther still, however. Because on top of everything, the sandwich was too soggy to eat now. Even for a fish.
The bready remains slopped out of Lilo's hand, and washed out with the waves.
"What a big old waste..." Lilo groaned. "And the peanut butter was extra expensive today too!"
"You know, I wouldn't have minded tuna."
"Well, it's not for you," Lilo responded to the stranger's voice. "Are you a fish named Pudge? No! You're a really fat bird, and birds don't eat sandwiches anyway!"
Lilo trudged her way back up the beach, away from the bird.
"You kiddin'?" It argued. "Old people feed birds bread all the time! How d'ya think I got so fat?"
"But bread isn't a sandwich," Lilo stood her ground. "That sandwich had peanut butter in it, and that would've stuck your beak up, and then you woulda died, and I don't wanna be responsible for a dead bir-"
"wait a second..."
The giant bird cocked its head at Lilo.
"Why are you talking? Birds don't talk!" Realisation finally kicked in.
"Well I did say I'd prefer tuna," the bird visibly grinned. "On account of... bein' a big fat bird and everything."
"But you're not really a bird at all, are you?" Lilo's suspicions arose. "Are you an alien?"
"Alien?" The bird staggered back a step or two. "Okay, didn't expect that one. There were so many answers more rational than 'alien'."
"Oh yeah, well name seven!" Lilo challenged.
"Seven?!" The giant bird gasped. "Th-that's a random number! Why seven?!"
"Because if there's lots of explanations, three isn't enough!" Lilo countered. "So you get seven!"
"Fine, fine..." The bird replied. "Maybe I should just cut to the chase and show you?"
Lilo narrowed her eyes at the hulking eagle.
However, suddenly, in a bright flash of light, an enormous man stood instead!
At least three times bigger than Lilo, this man was lots of muscle, but mostly fat, had lots of tattoos, and lots of messy black hair.
"Why hello there, Lilo," the man grinned. "I am Maui, shapeshifter, demigod of the wind and sea, hero of man and woman!"
Lilo's confusion remained.
"...also, I am Pudge the fish," Maui added as a little... side note.
"Huh? But you don't look like a fish?" Lilo's eyes were wide with questions.
"Well do I look like a bird?" Maui flashed her a cocky grin.
"Kinda," Lilo shrugged.
"Kinda?!" Maui was taken aback. "Now you listen here, little girl-"
"How do you know my name?" Lilo interrupted him.
"Know your name?" He took another step back. "Don't be silly! How would I know your n-"
"You used it earlier," Lilo deadpanned. "And you still don't look like Pudge."
"Alright, fine, you deserve an explanation..." Maui groaned. "Ohh, this is such a bad idea...!"
Another bright flash of light, and suddenly a little blue and orange fish was flopping about in the shallows.
"Believe me now?!" Maui gasped.
"Pudge!" Lilo fell to her knees. Zooming right up close to the little fish, she exclaimed. "It is you! You really are Pudge!"
"Y-yes, I really am... Pudge," Maui sighed. "...dumb name."
"Waaaaiiitt, does that mean I've been feeding a person all this time?" Lilo summarised.
"Ayup!" Maui concurred, having transformed back into his human form again. "Well, kinda. I'm a demigod, not a human, so you're half right."
"Uh-huh," Lilo didn't sound convinced. "And you've been following me because...?"
"I've been protecting you, Lilo!" Maui's giant hands were fanned out in a gesture of self-appreciation. "Y'see, years and years and years ago, I had this friend. Favourite mortal if you will. She was your great great great, great... great great great... GREAT great, great... yada yada, you get it, she's your lotta-greats-grandma!"
"You knew my lotta-greats-grandma?" Lilo inquired. "Of course I did. And every one of your ancestors since then," Maui was audibly smug.
"And you protect us?" Lilo frowned. "Protect us how?"
"Wellll..." Maui pondered. "Lots... of different ways? Like, you remember that time Nani was surfing, and fell off her board?"
"Which time?" Lilo's voice was far from enthusiastic. "She falls off a lot."
"Err, that time she went surfing with that guy you know? Tall guy, not too bright...?"
"Ohh, you mean David?" Lilo queried.
"Uh-huh, maybe?" Maui shrugged. "Anyway, there was a shark in the waters, and it was gunnin' for her, Lilo!"
"There was...?" Lilo drew her question out. "Are you making this up?"
"N-not at all!" Maui's grin was fragile. "I beat that shark up so bad, it didn't know what hit it! I gave it a left," he swung a colossal fist inwards. "And then a right! And then a Maui one, two punch! Seriously, I'd bring you that shark here to confirm it, but you can't speak Shark."
"How do you know I can't?" Lilo demanded of him once again.
"Aw c'mon, I know you can't, cause you're a human!" Maui groaned.
"Humans can't speak animal languages, and animals can't speak human!"
"My neighbour has a parrot, and it can speak human?" Lilo countered. "Well... then maybe that parrot's a demigod?" Maui's swagger was back in full swing.
"Hmm..." Lilo raised a hand to her chin. "Well, I dunno. You're either a really good liar, or actually telling the truth. Either way, I like you!"
"...you do?" Maui was dumbfounded.
"Ayup!" Lilo smiled up at the half-mountain of a man. "You're weird, and I like weird, but you also tell stories, and I like stories too!" "Well, you ain't lyin'," Maui couldn't help but chuckle. "So, story huh? Lemme tell you all about your lotta-greats-grandma..."