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There was yet another awkward pause, and Chase couldn’t hold in a laugh at this one. Every single person there, Jacob included, looked like someone might have told them the sky is purple and the ocean takes every other Tuesday off. Everyone was in some stage of complete and utter disbelief.
“Jeez, I gotta do everything around here!” Chase called out, breaking the silence so abruptly that people flinched. The hand under him tensed, and then Jacob’s huge brown eyes were focused on him. Chase waved. “Lemme go talk to ‘em again, Jake. Gotta sort this out.”
Jacob glanced back at the others. His eyes lingered on the ones playing bodyguard to the important fellow in the middle, and for a second Chase wondered if the big guy would try to keep him. Then, the hand lowered to the ground.
Chase hopped casually to the ground, brushing his shoulder absently and strolling over to greet the group of people. “Hey, guys, what’s up?”
“Kid … what the hell …” the mayor squeaked out. “You just rode around on its hand …”
Chase held up a hand. “His hand, dude. None of that ‘ah it’s a monster!’ business, seriously. Jacob here’s a fragile, sensitive soul.”
He glanced back once, only fleetingly, but it was just enough to see a blush erupt over those giant cheeks. “Hey!” he protested in a whisper that could still rattle the trees.
Chase grinned at him, another of those devious smiles of his, and waved a hand at the giant. “What kinda big vicious monster would blush, I ask you?” he asked grandly.
“Dude,” Jacob breathed. His embarrassment lingered in his tone. Chase, watching the other people down on the ground processing their casual banter, didn’t see the shadow approaching until it was too late. A large fingertip prodded his side, something that had somehow become a habit for Jacob. He stumbled.
The cops nearby tensed and their hands almost went to their weapons, but one of them snorted in amusement. “I think the kid might be right.”
The mayor hummed thoughtfully, eyeing the giant before him. Jacob sheepishly drew his hand away again. Chase pointed at his eyes with his first two fingers before flicking his wrist to point up at Jacob instead. “That’s right, buddy. Respect. I’m a hero.”
Jacob’s expression flattened. “Oh, is that it,” he muttered. Then, he finally greeted the others. “Um. Hi,” he said, clearing his throat as quietly as he could. It was like distant thunder. “I’m Jacob … and I washed up on your shore, I guess. Uh. Sorry?”
The mayor gathered himself up and huffed. He had a job to do, and had finally decided to do it. Chase gave him a thumbs up and got an exasperated look in return.
“We can look past the scare, Jacob,” he yelled up in a much louder voice than he needed. “Seems you were told to come this way by Mr. Lisong here.” He gestured at Chase.
Jacob’s mouth twitched in a smile he couldn’t hope to hide. His face was the size of a billboard. Chase had a feeling the guy wasn’t very good at lying anyway, and his size on Lilliput wouldn’t be doing him any favors. He grinned up at Jacob and gave him a jaunty salute.
“Something like that,” Jacob murmured. He planted his hands on the ground so he could lean closer. Everyone tensed, and he froze. “Um. Chase found me … on the beach, where I washed up. Said it would be okay if I came here.”
The others were varying shades of exasperated, but Chase just kept his smile on. “It’s true! I brought the giant. He’s totally cool. Nothing wrong with him sticking around, right?”
The mayor shot Chase a look, but didn’t have high hopes of dissuading him. “And I suppose you think you’re going to look after the giant, is that it?”
Chase shrugged. “I do live on the edge of town. Where else’re you thinking of putting him?”
That caught the others off guard. No one really knew where they’d have to send the giant. They couldn’t exactly tell him to swim back across the ocean from whence he came. Everyone knew that would be impossible. And no one wanted to think about the costs of building a raft big enough only to send it off and never see it again.
Jacob saw fit to chime in again. “I, um. I’ll try not to be a bother, if I’m gonna be around here … “ he paused, and Chase gave him an encouraging thumbs-up. “I don’t wanna cause any trouble for anyone. Honest.”
The mayor thought about it, even muttered once or twice to his assistants waiting around. The small crowd was skittish in Jacob’s shadow, but Chase was pleased to see no one bolting for the gates.
Finally, when no reason to tell Jacob no was forthcoming, the mayor rubbed his brow with his sleeve. “I guess …” he began, and then straightened. His confidence came back to him for a brief moment and he looked straight up at Jacob. “I guess I should extend my welcome, then, on behalf of Lilliput, Jacob.”
“Well don’t let us twist your arm for it, Mister mayor,” Chase quipped, though he gave Jacob a double thumbs-up this time.
Jacob pursed his lips to hold back his amused smile, and nodded respectfully instead. “Thanks, sir. I really appreciate you not, y’know, chasing me off with pitchforks and stuff.”
“I still dunno why you were so worried about that,” Chase insisted. With negotiations apparently over, he wandered closer to Jacob’s hand again. “But we can sort out the rest later. Gimme a lift home, I cannot wait to see the look on everyone’s faces.”