It was the cold, cloudy sort of day where the air seemed to be holding its breath, waiting for a storm that refused to come. Ronan’s mood wasn’t unlike this, ready to snap at anyone who looked at him wrong. Which, coincidentally, meant that he was snapping a lot, as Declan just couldn’t seem to get the hint.
Declan reached across Ronan to change the channel. Ronan swatted at his hand. Declan shoved him off the couch. Ronan bounced up and cuffed him across the back of the head. Matthew kicked his feet up on the coffee table to watch.
“Hey, shithead-” Declan started, grabbing Ronan by the shirt.
Matthew threw popcorn at them to intervene.
In that instant, Ronan’s wrath seemed to surpass words and he just threw his hands up, an act of surrender of all bullshit, before storming out of the house and slamming the creaky screen door behind him. He stomped across the dirt road that lead off the property, kicking all rocks in his path away as viciously as if they affronted him, personally. He needed to blow off steam.
Ronan headed to the docks where he angrily pushed his dingy off the dock and collapsed into it. He rowed long and hard, until he knew his arms would ache tomorrow, until he could barely see the little lights from land. Ronan let down the anchor and unpacked his fishing gear. At least something would die at the end of all of this. He carefully baited his line and cast.
And then the considerably less cathartic portion of the fishing trip commenced, which was the sitting and waiting for a stupid fish to bite. He sat hunched over in the little dingy, the proportions of it and him, with his tense back and broad shoulders, was almost comical. Comical in a way that’d been attributed to his late father, had anyone been looking out at the lake waters that afternoon to observe that.
But there was no one to see Niall’s legacy sitting in his small boat because Ronan was small against the water and the heavy fog settled stubbornly over them. So Ronan just waited. He heard the water lap against the boards of his boat. He watched the little rippling waves making his line dance. Ronan had always been waiting for something significant to happen. Something that would change things, pull him out of the monotony of everyday life. Ronan longed for it. Ronan was good at waiting.
He felt the anger slowly drain out of him as the minutes passed, as the boat slowly drifted out on the still water. Almost too still water, nary a breeze stirred the mirror-like surface, and while there may have been an underlying current, it was too deep to push the boat. Minutes, maybe hours later, Ronan felt a little pull at the fishing line. He quickly reeled it in with deft fingers, only to find the water turn red as it hit the surface. He’d caught half of a medium-sized cod, its newly dead eyes glassy, and only its head remaining, everything else freshly cleaned spine and translucent ribs. His cool blue eyes didn’t betray any emotion as they scanned the once peacefully still waters, for something that could’ve done this. The afternoon ticked on. He pulled the half-fish off the hook and then repositioned it, the flesh a more enticing lure than a worm could be. He cast the line again and waited, more attentive than before.
When he felt the smallest nudge on the line, he yanked it out of the water, only to find that the rest of the fish bones had been stripped of meat, leaving him with a clean skeleton. A few of the delicate bones fell away as he lifted it from the water, incredulous as to what could have been responsible for this. His dark eyes were guarded, as he hooked another worm to the line and cast it out, expecting to wait for another few minutes, but the movement was nearly instantaneous. Though, rather than on the line, the entire boat rocked. Ronan only had a second to prepare, before something jolted the boat, sending him head first into the cold waters.
Ronan’s first instinct was to hold his breath. He opened his eyes, the salt burning immediately, but he steeled himself and looked around. The murky water was heavily shadowed as Ronan kicked his way to the surface. He thought he saw something flicker in the corner of his eye but couldn’t stay under any longer. Ronan’s head broke the surface and he took a gasping breath-
Ronan felt something warmer than the water around his ankle. Long fingers with nails like ice chips, wrapped around his leg like a vice and yanked. Ronan went under again, kicking down with his other foot. The thing released him as blood floated up around him. Ronan shot up towards his boat, clambering to get on top of it.
Once he was back on the boat, he was gasping to catch his breath, though he wouldn't allow his eyes to draw away from the water, even to regain his composure. Whatever was down there was bigger than anything he'd ever seen on this side of the coast, and more... intelligent, maybe? He got the faint impression that whatever it was, it was messing with him, laughing at his expense. Which was undoubtedly a ridiculous notion. He took a deep breath, willing the goosebumps and general panic away, as he grabbed an oar and started paddling to the shore, a plan already formulating. A plan that involved better bait, and a harpoon.