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Mylene wanders along the deck, humming quietly to herself. She's trying to avoid going back to the cabin. Father caught her singing again and he’s in a mood. It's best for her to stay as far away as possible.

 

She's out at the front of the ship, with no one around, so she lets herself sing instead of hum, but makes sure to stay quiet. She stares out over the water, watching the mist dance across the surface.

 

A rocky outcrop looms out of the mist, the ship almost near enough that she could reach out and touch it. Her mind wanders as she watches it pass, eyes catching on some seaweed, a seagull, a dead fish, a beautiful woman…

 

Wait, what?

 

She leans over the rail to get a closer look, convinced her eyes must be deceiving her. But no, she saw it right the first time: there's a woman lying on one of the rocky ledges, sprawled out like she's sunbathing on a beach.

 

As the ship moves closer, Mylene realizes something she hadn't before: the woman is shirtless. Her upper half is completely exposed, and she doesn’t seem concerned about it. Mylene blushes and knows she should avert her eyes, but can’t tear her eyes away. She traces the curve of her breasts down to the soft pink of her nipples and licks her lips, throat suddenly gone dry.

 

The woman shifts, long black hair spilling over the rock like ink, and opens her eyes. She looks straight at Mylene, plush lips parted as she begins to sing. Her voice is beautiful, amplified as it echoes through the mist. Mylene realizes it’s the same song she was singing a moment ago and feels the urge to join in.

 

A second voice joins the first, creating a perfect harmony, and a second woman appears from behind the first. She lies her head on the first woman’s stomach, dark skin glimmering in the sea spray, and looks up at Mylene. She smiles, so beautifully that Mylene can feel her heart skip a beat. The second woman runs a hand down the first woman’s side, making her smile, and leans in to kiss her.

 

Their songs breaks off as they kiss, and Mylene aches to join them. Whether in song or in the kiss or in both, she can’t quite tell. The other sailors are noticing them now, coming in droves to stare at them. Mylene sees the lust in their eyes, the same lust she sees directed at her when she walks by, and shivers in disgust. Her father sticks his head out of the cabin and crosses himself at the sight of the naked women.

 

The women break the kiss and turn back to the ship, smirking. Then they heave themselves up and slither off the rocks and into the water. Literally, they slither: their lower halves are fish tails, glimmering with iridescent scales and delicate fins. As Mylene watches them cut through the water, Mylene can see the immense power in those tails and feels a twinge of worry. She’s heard tales of the half-woman, half-fish creatures that lure sailors to their death and must admit that is what they’re facing now.

 

Looking over at the entranced sailors, Mylene doesn’t think they’re going to put up much of a fight. But, to her surprise, the mermaids don’t head for the sailors watching them desperately. Instead, they swim to where she’s standing and stare up at her, bobbing slightly as the waves push at them. She know she should back away, but she’s curious. She can see her father try to get closer, but the crowd of sailors keeps him at bay as they all rush to see the mermaids.

 

The long haired one smirks at her and purrs:

 

“Hello, darling. My name’s Regina.”

 

Her partner chimes in:

 

“And I’m Yolanda. What’s your name?”

Mylene smiles down at them; they don’t seem dangerous, in fact they’re very polite.

 

“My name’s Mylene. You’re a lot nicer than I expected.”

 

Regina and Yolanda laugh, voices tinkling like fine crystal, sending another rush of heat through her body. She blushes harder and tries to get a grip on herself. Regina continues:

 

“We’re much nicer to people who respect us. You don’t stare at us like the sailors do, you stare in a way that makes us feel good.”

 

Mylene gasps at that. She finds it’s true for her as well: when the mermaid's eyes wander across her chest and down her curves, she doesn’t feel afraid like when the sailors look at her that way.

 

“Does that mean you’re not going to kill me?”

 

Yolanda shrugs, water splashing with the movement.

 

“Well, we’d like to make you an offer. We can make you a mermaid like us. You can sing whenever and whatever you want. You can love anyone you want.”

 

Regina interrupts:

 

“Don’t forget not having to wear clothes, like, ever. And you get to kill annoying men!”

 

Mylene must admit it sounds amazing. She could never have imagined that mermaids were real, let alone that she could become one, but now that she has the option, she likes it a lot.

 

Yolanda looks concerned though, and speaks up:

 

“We will have to drown you though, that’s necessary for the transformation to work.”

 

Mylene winces at the thought. But when she turns back and looks at what’s in her life right now: the cramped ship, her angry, constraining father, and the rowdy, frightening sailors, it doesn’t sound that bad. She closes her eyes, takes a deep, calming breath.

 

“Okay.”

 

The mermaids cheer and clap, grinning widely up at her. Regina shouts up to her:

 

“All you have to do is climb over that rail and jump into the water, we’ll take it from there.”

 

Mylene tosses one leg over the rail, then the other, until she’s sitting on the railing. Her dress catches the slight wind, fabric flowing as she dangles over the drop. She turns back to look at her father one last time, watches him scream at her to stay. Then she lets go of the railing and falls into the cold water.

 

There’s hands pushing her underwater, pinning her there. It has to be the mermaids. Her world becomes a whirlwind of panic and freezing water until she runs out of breath. Then the pain starts, searing through her lungs and then her whole body, until finally darkness takes her.

 

When she wakes again, she’s surrounded by warmth, soft skin pressing against her from both sides. A hand strokes her hip, gentle and comforting. She opens her eyes to see Yolanda smiling at her. They’re both wrapped around her, looking at her as if she was the most beautiful thing in the world.

 

She sits up, shivering as she loses their warmth, and stares down at where her legs used to be. Looking at the tail, she feels a strange mix of pride and sadness. Then, she looks out past the rocky outcropping Regina and Yolanda must have brought her to and sees the ship. There’s other mermaids there, cutting through the water and luring the men into the water. None of the sailors come back to the surface.

 

She feels a vicious pride in that and smiles, fangs digging into her lip. Regina and Yolanda hiss in agreement, wrapping their arms around her as they watch the attack on the ship. Regina begins to sing, Yolanda joining her almost instantly. It’s a strange, haunting tune that Mylene has never heard before in her, yet she somehow knows it by heart.

 

She joins them, their voices melding in harmony and their bodies entangled, and they watch the ship sink.

Chapter Text

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Mylene lies on her nest-ledge, picking at her teeth with a small fishbone. She hates the feeling of fabric in between her fangs. She snarls around the bone and Yolanda laughs from her perch next to her.

 

“That’s what you get for biting where they’re wearing clothing. Go for bare skin, then you won’t have to deal with this.”

 

Mylene sighs, throws the bone to the side.

 

“I know, I just hate dragging it out. If I bite their torso they die faster. I don’t like listening to them scream.”

 

Yolanda shrugs.

 

“We got over it after a while. But you’re nicer, so maybe you never will.”

 

Regina pops up, crawling up from sea level.

 

“Or you could just go for their neck. It’s the quickest way, and they usually aren’t wearing anything on their neck. The best of both worlds.”

 

Mylene sighs, she’s not enthused about that option. Then they’d bleed so much.

 

“I guess.”

 

Regina settles onto the ledge, intertwining their tails.

 

“Well, I’ve got some good news to cheer you up. The mermen are coming to visit, they’ll be here soon.”

 

Yolanda cheers but Mylene frowns, confused.

 

“Mermen?”

 

Yolanda calms and begins to explain.

 

“Yess, mermen. They’re a herd, just like us, but with male members. They live a ways off but swim over to visit sometimes.”

 

Mylene still doesn’t understand.

 

“I don’t understand. If we’re created by taking woman who are suffering at the hands of men and making them more powerful, how can there be men like us?”

 

“They’re created from men who are suffering at the hands of men as well. Usually this is because they love men instead of women, or maybe just because they don’t fit the version of masculinity that society expects.”

 

Mylene nods, finally understanding. Being with Yolanda and Regina has opened her eyes to a whole new world, one not restrained by society’s rules.

 

“I’m excited to meet them!”

 

Just then a warbling cry of excitement goes up, mostly coming from the mermaids on the lower ledges. When they lean over to peer at the water at the base it’s filled with mermen, bobbing with the movement of the waves.

 

Regina dives off the ledge and Yolanda follows, shouting to Mylene:

 

“Let’s go meet them!”

 

Mylene follows them down. She’s still overjoyed by the way the air rushes past her as she falls, by the way the water embraces her when she hits it, by the way her tail feels as she pushes through the waves. It’s all so new and wonderful.

 

She’s quickly in the crowd, their tails moving slowly beneath the surface, sometimes brushing together. She’s nervous, even though all mercreatures are kind and won’t be impolite to her. Fortunately, Regina and Yolanda reappear a moment later, pulling two mermen behind them. She looks them over as they approach.

 

The first one is white, with long blonde hair that falls in wet stands around his shoulders. His tail is a glimmer of gold hiding underwater, like a flash of lighting seen out of the corner of your eye. His blue eyes shine like the sea when the sky is clear, and he smiles at her.

 

The second one is black, his hair cropped short. His tail is a dazzling ruby red, like arterial blood spilling out into the waves. Thick, silver scars run over his tail, as if he’d been attacked by something. Mylene wonders what could do so much damage to a merperson, but doesn’t dare ask. He’s less expressive, but his lips turn up at the corner and his dark eyes shine as he looks at her.

 

“Mylene, meet Thor and Shao. Guys, meet Mylene. She’s our new wife.”

 

Shao gives her a charming grin and jokes:

 

“Damn Regina, you must be doing something right. Two lovely wives already?”

 

Mylene giggles and blushes. She’s still not used to being complimented by men nicely, but she much prefers it to the alternative. She’s shaking Shao’s hand, his grip comfortably tight, when another warbling cry goes through the herd.

 

“Ship!”

 

The merfolk turn towards the merperson who shouted, their tails churning the water in their excitement. Some lick their lips or do a quick vocal warmup, preparing for their next kill. Mylene feels the familiar mix of excitement and regret as she thinks of the doomed sailors on board.

 

The merperson who shouted the warning, who she now recognizes as Carmelita, goes tearing past them and towards the merqueen of their pack. Misty looks down at her, lips slightly downturned with concern as she takes in the mermaid’s frantic rush.

 

“What is it, Carmelita?”

 

“The ship is fat and ripe with men, my Queen. But it is also heavily armed. We may lose many if we attack blindly.”

 

Misty shifts, her long iridescent tail curling around her rocky throne. She looks out over the combined forces of her pack and the merman pack, their heads bobbing in the waves as they await her orders.

 

“We will send a scout to prepare us for the attack. As our honored visitors, the mermen may send one of their warriors. Who will the honor fall upon?”

 

Shao raises his voice:

 

“I believe Thor had first kill this hunt, your majesty.”

 

She nods, and waves him towards the oncoming ship, still obscured by fog.

 

“Very well. May you swim swiftly and your fangs be sharp, Thor. ”

 

Mylene pushes down a pang of jealousy and turn to congratulate Thor on being so vital to bringing down such a large ship. Shao is already patting him on the back, grinning proudly. Mylene joins Regina and Yolanda is wishing him well. He grins, baring his fangs and tossing his hair, before he dives deep and swims into the fog.

 

Only once the last shimmer of light reflecting off his tail has faded do the merfolk return to their visiting. They’re all twitchy, the bloodlust awoken in them. Regina and Yolanda take Shao to their nest ledge to continue filling him in on their new marriage. Mylene listens politely to their chatter and tries to ignore the gnawing hunger in her stomach. Now that she knows there’s prey around, it won’t stop until she’s fed.

 

They’ve talked for hours, stopping to snack on some fish, which does nothing to satisfy their lust for man-flesh. The sun has risen above their heads, turning Shao’s powerful tail into glittering rubies and burning off the fog. The ship has moved slightly closer, but still out of visual range. But with the fog gone, Mylene can see it much better. She looks at the colorful markings on it’s sides with unease and tugs on one of Yolanda’s fins.

 

“Does that ship look a little strange to you?”

 

All three turn to look at it, Yolanda and Regina squinting to look but not seeing anything concerning. Shao however, stiffens as if he’d been shocked by an electric eel, gasping in shock. Mylene feels the unease blossom into full concern and asks him worriedly:

 

“What’s wrong, Shao?”

 

He stares at it horror, one of his hands falling to his waist to rub at the scar rippling over his hip.

 

“It’s a trawl ship.”

 

Regina frowns, shakes her head, hair whipping around her face with the angry movement. She doesn’t want to accept the fear she sees in his face.

 

“What does that mean? I’ve never heard of anything like that.”

 

Shao grits his fangs, his jaw muscles pulled tight enough that Mylene can see them twitch. She hopes he doesn’t accidentally bite himself; she’d accidentally shredded her own lips a few times before she got used to her fangs.

 

“They’re a small fleet, but deadly. Thor’s in terrible danger!”

 

Yolanda, always the voice of reason, jumps in.

 

“How do you know?”

 

Shao snarls, spits out the words:

 

“Because I’ve met her before.”

 

Mylene feels dread trickle down her spine as she asks, not quite knowing if she wants an answer.

 

“Her who?”

 

It takes him a couple moments to speak, and when he does, it’s with such immense fear and hatred that Mylene shivers:

 

“Fat Annie.”

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Chapter Text

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Annie looks out over the deck through the elegant windows of her captain’s cabin. Blowing out a cloud of smoke, she watches one of the newest recruits swab the deck. She cackles, careful not to smear any of her red lipstick on her teeth. Cadillac twitches at the noise, turns to her.

 

“What’s so funny, Ma?”

 

She knocks some ash off her cigar and strides to his side, wrapping a hand around his neck.

 

“You picked up some real good eye candy this time, dear.”

 

He shifts nervously, ducks his head.

 

“I still don’t get why you insist on only hiring handsome sailors.”

 

He doesn’t meet her eyes as he says it, and she laughs at that too. He knows very well one of the reasons, but that’s not what he’s asking.

 

“The easiest, most efficient way to lure merfolk is to have bait they can’t refuse. And if there’s one thing that gets them, it’s a handsome sailor strutting his stuff.”

 

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Thor approaches the ship carefully; it’s hard to be sneaky when your entire bottom half is essentially a disco ball. He stays deep, where the water will muddle his image and keep anyone from noticing his bright tail. He tries to stay far away, but the garish colors painted on the ship’s side begin to spin and dazzle his eyes. He shakes his head in irritation, trying to clear his vision.

 

The optical illusion persists; no matter how hard he tries he can’t look past the pattern. He’s going to have to get closer. He moves agonizingly slowly, aware that the closer he gets the more likely for a stray bit of light to catch a sailor’s eye. But he’s not willing to go back without any information at all.

 

He surfaces in the shadow of the ship’s side, where he shouldn’t be seen but he can still get a good look at the armaments. There’s something floating next to him, maybe a large mat of seaweed? He’s about to take a closer look, make sure it’s not anything dangerous, when someone shouts on deck.

 

A man is leaning over the side and for a moment Thor think’s he’s been spotted. But then he looks where the man is pointing and sees a small metal bucket slowly sinking into the water. The sailor must have accidently knocked it over the side. Thor tilts his head, curious, and takes a closer look at him.

 

It knocks his breath out of him. The man is beautiful: bright, dark eyes and soft lips. A afro crowns his head, almost looking like a halo as the sunlight hits him from behind. He looks nothing like the rough sailors that usually crew the ships. A pair of his comrades join him at the rail and he graces them with a kind smile. It makes Thor’s heart beat faster, the gentle curve of his lips so sweet that Thor wants to see it over and over again.

 

He’s entranced by the strange sailor, dangerously distracted. So distracted that he doesn’t notice what he thought was seaweed floating closer and closer to him. The delicate mesh of the net is well hidden by the constant movement of the waves. It’s fastened around the bottom of the ship, like a moat around a wooden, floating castle. It’s meant to do one thing: entrap any merfolk that wander too close.

 

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Dizzee watches his bucket finally give up and sink beneath the waves. Annie runs a tight ship; she’ll probably deduct it from his pay. He’s about to turn from the rail and complain about his clumsiness to Zeke and Ra when he sees a flash of movement in the water. It’s probably just another dolphin, but he never tires of looking at the sea creatures they pass by.

 

He meets the creature’s bright blue eyes and it’s definitely not a dolphin. A person floats in the water, a golden tail slowly treading water to keep him afloat. Dizzee may have signed on to a merfolk hunting ship but he never expected them to actually find anything. And no one ever said anything about there being men, let alone men this beautiful.

 

He feels his body heat as he takes in the sculpted muscles of his chest and the soft blonde hair falling around his shoulders, the tips beginning to lighten as they dry. He tries to push the feeling down, he knows it isn’t right, but his lips look so inviting…

 

Zeke and Ra, drawn by Dizzee’s surprised gasp, catch sight of the merman as well. Ra’s eyes almost bug out of his head and he curses:

 

“What the hell?”

 

Zeke fumbles with his belt, pulling out the earplugs every crewmember was given and shoving them into his ears as quickly as possible. They’ve all heard tales of merfolk’s deadly song. He shoves at Ra and Dizzee, telling them to the same. But Dizzee can’t tear his eyes away, and the merman doesn’t seem to be able to either.

 

“Zeke, wait!”

 

The merman isn’t acting dangerous, he’s just looking at them. He’s not even singing.

 

“Maybe he’s just curious?”

 

Ra shakes his head at Dizzee, already getting his earplugs out. Zeke backs away as if the merman is somehow going to leap all the way onto the deck and attack him. Dizzee ignore their fear and leans further over the rail, waving at the merman.

 

The merman breaks into a smile at the movement. Dizzee can see the slight flash of fangs but that seem unimportant compared to how lovely the merman’s smile is. He can feel his face heating and he curses his bad habit of blushing. The merman raises his arm out of the water, a delicate golden fin shimmering on his wrist, and waves back.

 

Dizzee turns to Zeke and Ra, whispering gleefully:

 

“Did you see that? He waved back!”

 

Dizzee hears a suddenly splashing and turns to look as quickly as he can, worried that the merman has left. What he sees is even worse: the merman is thrashing, panic in his eyes as he tries to swim away. Dizzee lunges against the rail, pain sparking in his stomach as he hits it, and yells down desperately:

 

“What’s happening!?!”

 

The merman, of course, can’t answer. Dizzee can see the water around him just barely turning red. But what could be hurting him?

 

Then Dizzee remembers the nets they had strung the first day, before they set sail. Looking closer, he can see the black mesh wrapped around the merman’s limbs. His heart stops when he remembers the short blades that had been dotted throughout the nets.

 

He screams at the merman:

 

“Stop fighting it! You’ll only hurt yourself more!”

 

The merman goes limp, his chest heaving in his panic. Dizzee can see the fins along his tail flutter in the current, huge swatches ripped out of them. He feels sick to his stomach and when he looks at the merman, he see the strangest mix of fear and betrayal in his eyes.

 

[Does he think I was involved in this?]

 

Dizzee’s mind helpfully reminds him that technically, he was.

 

[No, this is wrong!]

 

All the commotion they’ve been making has drawn the attention of the crew and some of them run to the rail. One of them shouts:

 

“Merman!”

 

And then sailors are swarming around Dizzee. Some carry giant hooks which they bury in the net and use to haul the merman up. He shrieks as they pull: Dizzee can see the knives clearly now, some of them buried deep in the meat of his tail. The pressure only pushes them in deeper and Dizzee winces at the thought of how much that must hurt.

 

Behind them, Cadillac and Annie emerge from the captain’s cabin. Annie shouts orders and one of the large glass tanks they’re carrying is hauled up from the hold. They wheel it closer to the rail and begin to fill it with sea water. That breaks Dizzee out of his horrified paralysis and he stumbles back, shouting:

 

“No!”

 

It’s lost amongst the commotion. The sailors haul the merman the last few feet up to the rail and then dump him onto the deck. He screams again when he hits the wood and tries to lash out, his attacks easily stopped by the netting. Then, suddenly, he goes still.

 

Dizzee is almost sure he’s dead, but then he hears the long, high note. It echos, as if it’s a giant voice instead of just one merman. He begins to sing and it’s like he’s ripped Dizzee’s heart out of his chest. It’s filled with the loneliness Dizzee feels as he sings to himself in the bowels of the ship, the lust and guilt he feels as he wakes from another dream about Zeke’s long limbs wrapped around him, the joy of the salt spray being blown into his face as he stands on the gently rocking deck. It’s all the strongest emotions he’s ever felt hitting him at once.

 

No one else seems affected, or even to hear the song. Of course not, they’ve all got their ears plugged. Dizzee can’t bring himself to regret hearing the song, even if it may drag him to his death. The song curls around him and he forces himself into motion, stumbling towards the tank. It’s full now and and the sailors are shoving the merman in as he thrashes weakly.

 

Before he can think about what he’s doing, Dizzee lunges at one of them and punches him in the face, sending him to the deck. Indignant, angry shouts arise around him, but he only has eyes for the merman. He’s stopped singing, staring at Dizzee with shock. Dizzee smiles at him, drinking in his perfect face for as long as possible before someone jumps him from behind and wrestles him to the deck.

 

Dizzee struggles, but he’s never been much of a fighter. He ends up pinned, his face being painfully pressed into the rough deck. The soft click of heels make him turn his head to look up, only to find Annie looming over him. She takes a long drag from her cigar, ash showering down on him and making him cough. She crouches and reaches out, grabbing him by the jaw and tilting his head to look him in the eye. He wants to curl away from her but he can’t move.

 

“It seems the poor dear has been put under the merman’s spell.”

 

Most of the crew draw back at her pronouncement, as if they’re afraid it’s contagious. Dizzee wants to shout at her that he’s not under any spell, it’s just wrong to hurt an intelligent creature! But she rises before he can gather his words. She strides back towards the tank, false pity on her face.

 

“Such a shame. Throw him in the brig.”

 

As he’s dragged away, Dizzee can see Zeke and Ra scream his name. They take a few running steps after him, but are quickly stopped by the rest of the crew. Behind them, Dizzee can see the merman banging on the glass of the tank, as if he too is worried about Dizzee. That thought makes Dizzee smile, even as he’s locked into the dark cell in the bottom of the ship.

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Chapter Text

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Shaolin swims frantic, worried circles around the base of their nest-rock. He’s pissed off most of their neighbors and Mylene must admit he’s starting to get on her nerves as well. That’s less irritation and more anxiety though; she’d been trying to calm Shaolin down by telling him that Thor hadn’t been gone for long, but now he’s past his return time. Shaolin says Thor is almost always punctual. She can’t think of a reason for him to be late other than him being in trouble.

 

Yolanda sighs as she watches him swim, but she and Regina have stayed mostly quiet. They don’t know what to do either, and talking about it only makes all of them more worried. Mylene is about to dive down to join Shaolin when Tanya sticks her head out from the ledge below them.

 

“Alright, what is going on? You guys obviously have something on your minds.”

 

Mylene lets herself sag, buries her face in her hands. They’re all out of ideas so maybe a new mind working on the problem will help.

 

“Thor hasn’t come back on time. Shao recognizes the ship and says he’s probably been captured. But if we go tell Misty she’ll order us not to interfere and we’re not going to abandon Thor, so we’ll have to disobey her orders. But none of us can scout on our own, we’re all hunters. So we’re kind of stuck.”

 

Tanya pulls herself up to their ledge, her bright orange tail making sunlight dance across the rock. She gives Yolanda a comforting pat on the shoulder and holds Regina’s hand for a moment. Then she turns back to Mylene, a sly smile on her face.

 

“Well, it’s a good thing you have two friends who are scouts. I’ll grab Carmelita and we’ll check out the situation. And don’t worry, we’ll be careful.”

 

Mylene can’t stop herself from worrying; sending more of her friends into danger was not the solution she would have chosen.

 

“But what if you get caught too?”

 

“Then go to Misty. Three missing merfolk is an issue she’ll have to address.”

 

She disappears into the waves, leaving Mylene more stressed than before. But at least something is being done.

 

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Thor stretches his tail as far as he can in the tiny tank, wincing in pain. It’s not even big enough for him to swim; he can almost feel his muscles beginning to atrophy. Of course, he probably should be more worried about getting an infection. He’s still got the netting wrapped painfully tight around him, its blades buried in his tail. He hasn’t pulled them out. He’s afraid that without proper care, he might bleed out.

 

The captain, who he’s learned is named Annie, has offered him that desperately needed medical care. But that requires letting her or one of her cronies touch him, and he’d rather die. He’s seen the way her eyes wander across his body and it makes him shiver. He hopes she isn’t Annie who hurt Shao so badly, but he knows that she is. Knowing what she’d done to Shao, he isn’t going to let her touch him, ever.

 

It’d start with medical care, a small debt, and then grow. She’s a master of manipulation and he’s not going to let her start her game. That’s the only way to win: to cut her off before she even starts.

 

Thor watches her through the warping of the glass tank and she watches him back. She obviously noticed his wincing, the pain he's no longer able to hide.

 

"Sure you don't want help with that, sugar?"

 

He grits his fangs, baring them at her. It's never phased her before, but he might as well try.

 

"Very sure."

 

She takes a drag, blows the smoke out smugly. She looks like a cat playing with it's prey, and he's the mouse.

 

"Suit yourself."

 

He’s not enthusiastic about his chances of making it out of this alive.

 

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Dizzee is sitting against the cell wall, cold bars digging into his back, when he hears the footsteps. He’s on high alert so he hears them, despite the person obviously trying to stay quiet. Dizzee doesn't know why someone would need to sneak up on him when he’s trapped in a cell, but he doesn’t think it bodes well. He presses himself against the back wall and braces for an attack.

 

When the person finally emerges from the shadows he relaxes, letting out the breath he’d been holding. Boo grins at him and presses himself against the bars, trying to get as close to his brother as possible.

 

“Boo! What are you doing down here? You could get in trouble!”

 

Boo smirks at him, utterly unconcerned.

 

“Come on Dizz, you know I’m smarter than that.”

 

Dizzee sighs. His brother’s overconfidence to going to bite him in the ass someday.

 

“Then why was I able to hear you coming from a mile away?”

 

Boo’s face falls.

 

“Could you really?”

 

Dizzee smiles at him, reaches through the bars to cup his face.

 

“You did good, Boo. I’m just worried.”

 

Boo smiles, but his face quickly falls. He leans into Dizzee’s touch, worry clear on his face.

 

“But seriously, Dizz. You’re in some deep shit. Why would you attack one of the crew like that? Did the merman really hypnotize you?”

 

Dizzee rolls his eyes at that. Damn Annie and her lies.

 

“Of course he didn’t. I just didn’t think it’s right to hurt an intelligent creature like that. Before everyone else saw him, we were communicating, and he didn’t seem dangerous. Why was it necessary to cut him up and throw him into a tank?”

 

Boo makes a face at that.

 

“Dizz, we’re a merfolk hunting ship. What else did you think we’d be doing?”

 

Boo’s got him there.

 

“I just didn’t expect them to be so...human. We didn’t know what we were getting into, Boo.”

 

Boo shrugs, pulls back so he can stand up tall.

 

“Well, it doesn’t matter why you’re in here, we’re going to help you get out. Don’t know when, since there isn’t really anywhere to go right now, just a lot of open water. But when we do find somewhere for you to go, use this.”

 

He slips a file through the bars, which Dizzee quickly hides in his clothes. It’s small, and it might take awhile to saw through the lock, but it’s more than he had before.

 

“Are you sure this is a good idea, Boo? I don’t want any of you getting hurt. You know I love you, right?”

 

That makes Boo light up, a happy glow forming around him. Dizzee is glad that even with this strange turn of events, he can still make his brother smile.

 

‘“I love you too, Dizz. And don’t worry, Zeke and Ra have a plan!”

 

---------

 

“Ra, what the fuck are we going to do? We don’t have a plan!”

 

Ra shoves Zeke deeper into the hold, where there are less prying eyes, a shushing finger pressed to his lips.

 

“First of all, lower your voice. Second of all, we’ll figure something out! You need to calm down.”

 

Zeke sputters, tripping over a coil of rope in his distress.

 

“Calm down? Dizz is in jail and who knows what Annie will do to him! Not to mention what she might do to us to she finds out we’re trying to help him!”

 

Ra is trying very hard not to think about that. Annie’s cruelty is well known and he’d never want to see it in action. But Dizz is his brother, and he’s not going to abandon him.

 

“You know you don’t have to help us, Zeke. You can leave before things get dangerous.”

 

Zeke whips around at that, his fear disappearing and becoming focus.

 

“Ra, I’m not going to abandon you. I thought you knew me better than that! I love Dizzee, I’m not going to let him get killed just because I’m scared. So come on, let’s figure out a genius plan to get him out of that nasty cell!”

 

Ra smiles at him, throwing an arm around his shoulder so he can pull him close and whisper.

 

“Alright, he’s got a way out of the cell, but how do we get him off the ship? Maybe a rowboat...”

 

-------

Chapter Text

------

Having completed his mission, Boo hurries to meet Ra on deck. He stops by the rail to catch his breath, well hidden in the shadows. He’s breathing deeply and absently staring over the rail when he sees a flash of brown, bright against the dark water. It’s a lovely warm shade of tan, but completely out of place in the ocean. It disappears too quickly for him to confirm that it’s a merperson, but it’s a pretty safe bet.

 

He starts heading towards their meeting place again, this time sprinting. If there’s more merfolk around, they may all be in danger. Ra hears him coming and turns to look, surprise on his face.

 

“Boo? What’s going on?”

 

Boo’s heart stops as he sees someone come over the rail, their long hair obscuring their face. But the fins glimmering on their ears confirms his worst fears: it’s a merperson. They lean forwards, clawed hands grasping for Ra, who’s unaware of the encroaching danger. Boo tries to yell a warning but his voice sticks in his throat.

 

With a sudden yank, the merperson has Ra and is dragging him over the side. He screams and fights, but can’t stop himself from toppling over. Boo runs to the rail, looking down to see his brother desperately struggling with the merperson, a powerful orange tail churning the water and wrapping around his legs.

 

An orange tail? It was brown before, unless--

 

Something hits him from behind, knocking all the air out of his body and sending him tumbling into the cold water. He coughs and sputters, coming up for air only to see the brown tailed merperson leaping off the ship towards him. He tries to paddle out of the way, but can’t move fast enough.

 

“No!”

 

She hits the water, clawed hands burying themselves in his shoulders. He tries to strike at her but the water slows his movement. She slams him against the wooden side of the ship, fortunately keeping him from drowning, but knocking what little air he’d regained out of him. She gets in his face and hisses at him, deadly looking fangs filling her mouth. Despite the rage twisting her face, he can see that she’s beautiful.

 

“Where is Thor, human?”

 

Boo sputters, from surprise rather than water this time.

 

“You can talk?”

 

She sighs, rage suddenly disappearing and being replaced with irritation. She tosses her mane of hair and rolls her eyes, looking so very human as she does so.

 

“Of course we can talk, dumbass.”

 

The orange one, having subdued Ra with a clawed hand around his throat, huffs disapprovingly. She’s wrapped around him, half imprisoning him and half keeping him afloat. The merfolk don’t seem interested in killing them yet.

 

“What, you thought all we could do was sing, like some sort of mindless animals? We have brains, you know. ”

 

Boo feels like he’s gone delirious with cold and lack of air. He’s having an almost pleasant conversation with mystical creatures he never thought he’d see up close. He starts to react in the most unfortunate way: he babbles.

 

“Well, I guess that makes sense. I doubt you would have escaped for so many years and killed so many people if you weren’t intelligent, and Dizzee said that other one was intelligent so maybe we should have seen this coming---”

 

She snarls and shakes him, bringing him to an abrupt stop.

 

“Other one?”

 

“Yeah, the merperson that was here before you. Golden hair, golden tail. Annie caught him, he’s in a tank in her cabin now. Dizzee was being a dumbass and tried to help him which is why we’re in such deep shit now.”

 

“Who is this Dizzee?”

 

“My brother. Spacey, and apparently doesn’t have any common sense, since he decided to talk to merfolk.”

 

The brown merperson sighs and glares at the sky. Behind her, the orange one rubs at her forehead in exasperation. She mutters:

 

“You don’t think Thor got distracted?”

 

The brown one peers closer at Boo.

 

“I’m sure he did. Even with the pitifully small sample size we have here, I’d say there’s an unusually high number of attractive people on this ship.”

 

Boo chokes on air.

 

“Did you just compliment us?!”

 

She smirks and lets go of his shoulders, dunking him into the water. She hauls him back up after a moment, but it’s a harsh reminder of the danger they’re in. As Boo catches his breath, Ra tries to negotiate.

 

“Okay, okay, okay. You’re scary merfolk and probably very angry since we kidnapped one of your friends, but we’re pretty much traitors to the crew already! We’re trying to rescue Dizzee which seems to coincide nicely with you trying to rescue your friend! Maybe we can work together?”

 

The brown one makes a face at that, as if she’d just bitten into worm infested hardtack---an experience Boo has unfortunately had many times. He doesn’t know whether to be offended or afraid that she’s so disgusted by the thought of working with humans. Strangely enough, all he feels is an aching disappointment. He kicks himself; why should he cares what a mermaid thinks about his species. Just because she’s strong and fierce and beautiful...uh oh.

 

He’s self aware enough to recognize the signs. He’s always had a habit of getting infatuated with people, especially if they’re as beautiful as the mermaid. Usually it goes away after a while, but if he’s not careful, he’ll start doing stupid shit to impress the person. It’s gotten him in trouble before, and he promised his brothers it wouldn’t happen again.

 

Ra is still giving the mermaids a lopsided grin, fear obvious even though he tries to hide it. The brown one hisses, claws clamping tighter onto Boo’s shoulders, but the orange one looks like she might be thinking it over.

 

“You are suggesting we work together?”

 

Ra smiles and nods excitedly. Boo can’t believe that might have actually worked, but he’ll take it over being dead. The brown mermaid whines at her companion:

 

“You’re not actually thinking about working with them, are you?”

 

Tanya looks closer at Ra, as if she’s trying to read if he’s trustworthy by looking at his face. She must decide he is, because she turns back to the brown mermaid and pronounces:

 

“Yes, I am. And we are going to work with them, Carmelita.”

 

The name bounces around Boo’s head and he can’t stop from thinking how pretty it is.

 

Carmelita sighs, but gives in.

 

“Alright. So we’ve got some annoying humans who know where Thor is. What do we do next?”

 

Tanya reorients herself so that she’s holding Ra more securely.

 

“Let’s bring them back with us so that we can make a plan.”

 

Boo feels Carmelia’s tail wrap around him and he gets the bad feeling they’re about to be dragged through the water in a very unpleasant way. Before the mermaids can take off, Ra yells again, stopping them in their tracks.

 

“Wait, wait! We have another person on the ship, if you take us without letting him know he’ll raise the alarm. At least let us go talk to him before we leave.”

 

Carmelita snarls at that.

 

“Oh yeah, we’ll let you just waltz back onto your ship so that you can tell everyone we’re here. What part of we’re not dumb don’t you understand?”

 

Ra waves his hands frantically, sending cold water splashing.

 

“No, really! We’re not trying to trap you!”

 

Carmelita tenses to argue back, but Tanya cuts her off.

 

“I believe him, Carmelita. Let them go.”

 

Carmelita unwinds her tail and Boo makes a break for the ship, gripping the wooden side for dear life. Ra quickly joins him while Carmelita yells at Tanya.

 

“Have you lost your mind like Thor? Why would you trust them?”

 

“Carmelita, am I not a Zulu? I can feel that this is the right course to take.”

 

Ra interrupts their arguing:

 

“Guys? You might want to leave so you aren’t spotted when we call for a rope. Come back here in a hour.”

 

Tanya nods, Carmelita sulking at her side, and they dive underwater. Their bright colors quickly disappear and as soon as they’re gone, the brothers start screaming for help. They almost get laughed back off the ship when the night guard hauls them up and they say they fell, but at least they’re out of the water. They towel off and then rush into the body of the ship, where it’s warmer and where Zeke must be hiding.

 

-------

 

Cadillac stares at the merman though the glass, tapping at it with a thick finger. The dull thudding echoes through the water, but Thor doesn’t stir. He looks pale and sickly and the water has gone murky.

 

“He doesn’t look so good, Ma.”

 

Annie leans back in her chair, wood creaking as she relaxes. She gives him that look that means she knows exactly what to do and all he has to do is wait for her to fill him in. That’s his favorite look; he’s a man of action and not much else. He likes being told what to do so he doesn’t have to think about it.

 

“I noticed, Clarence. We’re going to have to do something, whether the merman agrees or not. I am not losing another prize.”

 

Cadillac can see Thor’s tail twitch just barely at that, and gets the feeling that might be easier said than done. Ma speaks again, eyes sharp with cunning.

 

“Clarence, find the least useful sailor on board and bring them here. And the medical supplies too.”

 

She stares at the stubborn merman’s back as they wait for him to return. He’s been putting up a good fight, but she’s going to win in the end.

 

Cadillac opens the door, a crewman cowering at his side and his arms full of gauze. Annie waves the two extra guards in the back of the room forwards and signals for them to get ready to open the tank. Even when their shadows fall over him, Thor doesn’t move. Annie pulls the crewman close and whispers their instructions.

 

Even as the guards lever open the tank, Thor doesn’t move. Even as the crewman creeps closer, Thor doesn’t move. Even as the crewman’s fingers almost touch the surface of the water, Thor doesn’t move.

 

The instant the crewman’s fingers sink into the water, Thor turns into a whirlwind of gold and white. The crewman screams and stumbles back, blood splattering across the decking.  Annie ignores the cries of pain and the bleeding arm cradled close to their chest as she steps closer to the tank. She smiles down at Thor, who is crouched as close to the bottom as possible. He snarls up at her despite his unsteadiness and glazed eyes.

 

“I thought so.”

 

Cadillac looks down at the blood, face twisted with distaste.

 

“Ma, what are we going to do?”

 

She smirks; her son is so quick to worry.

 

“We’ll just have to find someone he won’t shred. Isn’t that spellbound sailor in the brig?”

 

Cadillac breaks into a smile slowly, letting out a creaking, cruel laugh.

 

“I’ll get him right away, Ma.”

 

Annie meets Thor’s eyes again, muttering just loud enough that he can hear:

 

“We’ll see if you’re as eager to take a bite out of your pretty little boytoy.”

 

----------

Chapter Text

------

Tanya and Carmelita quickly leave the trawl ship behind with the powerful strokes of their tails, white water swirling where they’ve passed through. They pause on a rocky outcropping to collect themselves before reentering the colony. Carmelita looks at Tanya with a vague accusation in her eyes and asks:

 

“What the hell are we going to tell them? We picked up some pet humans while scouting?”

 

Tanya sighs.

 

“They will not be as upset as you are, Carmelita. They want Thor back desperately enough to take any advantage given to them. Perhaps we should stop worrying and go talk to them, hm?”

 

Carmelita rolls her eyes but relents.

 

“You’re the boss.”

 

They leave their resting place and swim towards Regina and Yolanda’s nest ledge, carefully avoiding the questions of the merfolk they pass.

 

-------

 

Ra and Boo bolt down the stairs and into the hold, leftover adrenaline still running through their systems. Boo hits the floor first and stumbles, bracing himself against the wall as he tries to regain his balance. He smiles at Ra, exhausted but awestruck.

 

“Ra, we met mermaids! Like, real, alive, insanely beautiful mermaids!”

 

Ra shushes him, but laughs quietly; Boo’s enthusiasm is infectious.

 

“Yeah we did, Boo. But as cool as that was, we’ve got to focus, okay? If we get caught, it’s not going to end well.”
Boo sobers slightly, but the excitement is still humming under his skin, making him shift from foot to foot eagerly. Ra watches him with affection; he hopes his little brother never loses his curiosity. Boo runs a couple steps deeper into the hold, watching the other sailors working on the cargo, and reaches out to take Ra’s hand. Ra doesn’t move fast enough for him, and ends up being dragged along. He increases his pace and lets Boo tug on him good naturedly. Boo cheers:

 

“Come on, let’s find Zeke! I want to tell him everything!”

 

They spend a long time picking their way through the rope wrapped cargo and hastily hung hammocks before they find Zeke. The cargo hold is dark and stuffed full of obstacles; everyone agrees it’s the worst place to work. Zeke must have pulled the short straw. Eventually, after tromping through dirty water and half floating barrels, they find him.

 

He’s focused on tying one of the loose barrels down, and doesn't react when Boo first says his name. When Boo shouts it the second time, he jumps and looks at them nervously.

 

“Why are you shouting, Boo? Are we in trouble?”

 

His fingers are fidgeting with the rope he’s holding; he must be really freaked out. Ra carefully lays his hand over Zeke’s and tries to reassure him:

 

“No, everything’s going okay. But there’s been an...interesting development.”

 

Boo jumps in, his excitement bubbling back up:

 

“We met some more mermaids!”

 

Zeke sputters, and yells as loud as he can without it reaching the other sailors:

 

“You talked to mermaids? That’s what got us into this mess in the first place!”

 

Ra tries to shush him, worried that he’s going to work himself up and draw attention to their little conference.

 

“I know, man! But we don’t have any other way off this ship.”

 

Zeke curses, but begins to calm. He can’t deny the truth: they’re trapped on this ship without the mermaid’s help. Ra sees he’s changing his mind and pushes him towards the exit, whispering tensely:

 

“Can you please just go along with it? They’re going to be really pissed if we don’t hurry up and meet them.”

 

Zeke sighs and lets himself be lead out of the hold. Boo bounces alongside him, whispering gleefully:

 

“Once you see them, you’ll understand. I’ve never seen anyone so beautiful!”

 

“Come on, Boo! Don’t pull a Dizzee on us!”

 

-------

 

Dizzee, personally, is beginning to regret his decisions. Cadillac has taken him out of his cell and is leading him somewhere, a vicious smile on his face. Are they going to kill him? He’s never been so close to death before, and it makes him want to scream, cry, make a run for it, anything but wait for it to come.

 

In the end all he does is follow Cadillac sedately, shaking so hard his teeth chatter. Cadillac leads him to the captain’s quarters and holds the heavy wooden door open. When Dizzee hesitates, he gestures impatiently for him to enter. Dizzee stumbles inside and makes eye contact with the last person in the world he wants to see: Fat Annie. Seeing her smirking smugly at him makes his rage return.

 

She smiles at him like they’re old friends and greets him cheerfully.

 

“Ahh, here he is! My favorite spellbound sailor.”

 

She’s standing on top of a bloodstain, sunk into the hardwood but still fresh. Behind her floats the merman. Dizzee has to stifle a cry when he sees how much he’s changed. His shining scales have flaked off in places and his eyes are glazed as grey as the murky water he floats in. He’s conscious, his eyes tracking Cadillac as he crosses the room, but just barely.

 

Annie laughs, drawing his attention back to her.

 

“Not so pretty anymore, is he?”

 

Her conversational tone turns cold and she snarls:

 

“No one will buy him, looking like that!”

 

She accentuates her yell by slamming her elegantly embossed wooden cane against the decking. It makes Dizzee jump and the merman flinch. Then, after the sudden outburst, Annie returns to her soft voice and kindly demeanor.

 

“You’re going to help fix him up, sailor.”

 

Dizzee has no idea how he can help, and he doesn’t want to anyways, so he just stays quiet. She smiles, knives hidden in the show of teeth, and waves him towards her. Once he’s joined her she walks him over towards the tank, an arm around him keeping him from shying away. They lean over the stinking water and all Dizzee can see the bloodstains on the floor. Where had they come from?

 

His question is answered an instantly later as the merman lunges out of the water. His lips are pulled back to reveal rows upon rows of needle sharp fangs. Dizzee can’t help it; he screams and flails backwards. Annie just laughs and slams the cane into the leaping merman’s ribs, stopping his charge. He falls back into the water, coughing and gasping for breath. Dizzee can see new bruises blooming across his already purpled chest and his fear suddenly turns into pity.

 

Annie chuckles, and Dizzee hates that monstrous twinkle in her eyes. She’s always enjoyed hurting people, but she seems even more gleeful when she’s hurting the merman.

 

“See, he’d have killed me if he could. He already bit the hand right off one of the other crewmen.”
Dizzee can’t help but gasp and his stomach lurches as he looks down at the bloodstains under his feet. When he looks up again, Annie is looming close, her arm forcing him closer to the tank. She whispers, close enough for her breath to brush over his ear:

 

“But he likes you. Hopefully enough to not hurt you. Put your hand in there, son.”

 

Dizzee wants to believe that, but his mind spins with how many fangs are hiding in that mouth. He can’t look away from the tank, frozen by his own fear and by Annie’s arm around him. Cadillac smirks at him from across the water, safely out of the merman’s reach. Dizzee wants to glare at him, but his eyes are stuck on the merman.

 

The merman finally catches his breath and turns around to glare at the humans outside the tank. When their eyes meet, his expression changes. He recognizes Dizzee, and stares at him as if he’s an angel leaning over the tank, halo shining across the water. Dizzee’s breath catches---he’s never been looked at that way before---and suddenly he knows the merman won’t hurt him.

 

He reaches out, pressing the tips of his fingers into the water as Annie and Cadilac watch expectantly. The merman looks broken, his eyes sad and overjoyed at the same time. Dizzee pushes his arm into the water up to the elbow and, bracing for pain to come, reaches out to touch.

 

His fingers brush along the merman’s jawline, and his glazed eyes drift closed. He leans into the touch, his hair floating and tangling itself around Dizzee’s fingers. Dizzee’s fear is completely gone, and the surprise is quickly fading. All he feels now is awe that he’s actually touching this beautiful creature.

 

He cups the merman’s face, carefully stroking a finger across the curve of his cheekbone. The pained lines of the merman’s face smooth out slightly, and his tail settles down to rest peacefully on the bottom of the tank. For a moment; they are all there is. The world is nothing but Dizzee and the merman, barely touching but completely at peace in each other’s company.

 

Then it’s broken as Cadillac drawls from across the room:

 

“I can’t believe it actually worked, Ma!”

 

Dizzee sees the merman’s eyes snap open and once again he looks frightened. Dizzee looks up at Annie, equally afraid. He hadn’t realized that he was the perfect weapon for her to use against the merman. She’s watching them with a greedy glint in her eyes and when she speaks, Dizzee feels a chill run down his spine.

 

“Everything’s working out perfectly, Clarence.”

 

-----

Chapter Text

--------

 

Zeke pulls his jacket tighter around himself as they reach the stern of the ship. It’s exposed, and the cold night wind is tugging at his clothing and biting at his cheeks. When they reach the rail and look over, it’s making the water choppy as well. The turbulent sea is flecked with white froth. He must admit, he’s feeling pretty turbulent as well. He’s not happy with this situation---it can only end badly---but he can't see a way out without betraying his brothers. He’d never do that, so he just hugs himself tighter against the cold and they squint at the waves, looking for any sign of merfolk.

 

They stare for so long that he almost begins to think Boo and Ra are pulling his leg. Then, finally, a pair of sinuous shapes approach the boat. They’re dark, serpentine shapes that set an instinctual fear alight in his mind. Even having seen the merman earlier, Zeke still can’t help but imagine the oncoming merfolk as terrifying sea monsters. Two women break through the water and wave at Ra and Boo, calming his pounding heart slightly. They looks totally human up top, if he ignores the scales gathering at their waist.

 

They talk eagerly with Ra and Boo, but Zeke is too focused on the two other forms slithering behind them to listen. More merfolk? He’d better keep an eye on them while his brothers are distracted.

 

A third woman surfaces, and floats towards Zeke. He gets a good look at her as she grabs ahold of the boat’s hull to hold herself steady against the waves. Long hair clings to her wet shoulders, thick and slightly wavy even when wet. She looks up at him with bright brown eyes and takes his breath away. She smiles widely at him, eyes shining, as if he’s done something to amuse her. He can’t help but smile back, and he realizes he’s blushing. The heat in his cheeks is a stark contrast to the cold wind.

 

Oh, no. Is he being hypnotized too?

 

He’s snapped out of the trance when a second person surfaces next to her. This merman smirks up at Zeke, aggressive and confident. It’s a very different expression than the gentle smile of the mermaid, but Zeke can feel himself blush harder. He can’t look away from away from the merman’s muscular shoulders and handsome face. Zeke begins to panic; he hadn’t let himself look at men this way for a long time. These merfolk are putting thoughts into his head, trying to seduce him!

 

The mermaid waves at him, batting her lashes. Zeke tries to ignore her, but he can’t pull his eyes away from her. The merman at her side looks Zeke up and down, making his heart beat faster, before snarling:

 

“Don’t encourage him, Mylene. Dopey looking motherfucker, smiling at you like that.”

 

Zeke doesn’t want the merfolk to bewitch him, but he still feels hurt that the merman dislikes him instantly. The mermaid apparently, agrees with him; she bats at the man and scolds him gently.

 

“Shao, you don’t have to be so mean.”

 

Zeke is about to speak, snap at the merman who’d insulted him, when Ra taps his shoulder to get his attention.

 

“Zeke they say if we can get everyone into the water, they’ll take us to safety. A small island a few minutes away. But they won’t help us unless we can get the captured merman out and take him with us. Any ideas on how to steal Annie’s prize right out from under her nose?”

 

Zeke frowns. He can see the merfolk quietly talking; probably discussing the very same problem. He tries to shake off the absurdity of working with merfolk in order to focus.

 

“It’s really not that far of a distance, from the cabin to the rail. We just have to make sure we don’t get shot along the way.”

 

Ra furrows his brow, also watching the mermaids.

 

“Annie is obsessed with catching more mermaids, and from what they tell me she also has history with the merman, Shao. Apparently she’ll do anything to recapture him. What if we use them as a distraction?”

 

Zeke grins; the plan forming in his mind.

 

“What if we have them attack? That way all weapons will be focused out over the water, not towards us. If we can get over the rail quick enough they shouldn’t have time to change their aim to us!”

 

Ra frowns, concern clear on his face.

 

“I don’t want any more of the merfolk getting hurt, but if they’re careful, it should be fine. They won’t need to keep it up for long.”

 

Boo, who had been listening to them plan, pipes up.

 

“One of my friends, Napoleon, is working inside the cabin on the merman. Maybe if I let him know of the plan, he can get the merman ready for us to move and make the time a little shorter?”

 

Ra grins at him and pulls him into a hug.

 

“That’s perfect, Boo! You run and tell him and we’ll fill the merfolk in, okay?”

 

Boo nods are runs off, focused on his mission. Ra steps towards the railing, ready to call out to the merfolk, but pauses. He turns and looks back at Zeke, speaking low:

 

“We’re really doing this, aren’t we?”

 

Zeke laughs; part of him still thinks this is a very strange dream.

 

“Yeah, I guess we are.”

 

-------

 

Despite the difficulty of getting the merman out of the tank, Dizzee only has eyes for Annie. She watches him like a predator waiting to pounce, and he looks at her with a hunted wariness. She’s ordered him to take the merman out of the tank and treat his wounds. He doesn’t want to patch the merman up so that he can be sold as an exoctic pet, but he doesn’t really have any other option.

 

He has no doubt that Annie would kill him the moment he became useless, and he can’t stand to see the merman injured further. So he’s carefully leveraging the merman out of the tank while Annie and Cadillac watch victoriously. The merman alternates between wincing in pain and glaring at them with helpless hatred.

 

Dizzee wraps an arm under the merman’s shoulders, trying very hard to ignore how naked his muscular chest is. He reaches under the bulkiest part of the tail with his other arm and lift the merman bridal style. As he does, a few scales fall off his tail and skitter across the floor. Dizzee looks at them with dread; that can’t be a good sign.

 

The merman remains helpfully limp as Dizzee lies him on the sheet covered decking. Once settled, he sprawls out with deadly grace. As Dizzee goes to pull away, he wraps his fingers around Dizzee’s wrist in a gentle, silent thank you. Dizzee grins at him, heart beating faster, and the merman smiles back sweetly.

 

Cadillac sets a bucket of medical supplies down next to the merman, earning a defensive snarl and a snap, reminding Dizzee of what he’s supposed to be doing. He kneels next to the merman, placing a calming hand on the curve of his tail, and leans in to inspect the wounds. They’re deep and oozing, probably infected, but not fatal.

 

Still, they need to be thoroughly cleaned to try and combat the infection, and probably should be cleaned daily after this. Bandaging will be useless since the merman has to be immersed in water most of the time, but changing the water in the tank should help prevent reinfection.

 

As Dizzee has been inspecting the wound, the merman has been inspecting him. His eyes are intent on Dizzee’s face, tracing his features. His hand wanders up his arm, tugging on his sleeve to feel the texture of the fabric. Once he’s reached Dizzee’s neck, he presses his hand to the exposed skin, making Dizzee jump. The contact is soft and nonthreatening, and Dizzee finds himself relaxing into the warm touch.

 

He jumps again when the merman speaks:

 

“What’s your name?”

 

Dizzee recovers from his surprise quickly, throwing a nervous glance at Fat Annie, and responds:

 

“Dizzee Kipling.”

 

The merman laughs, a deep, soft tone, and whispers:

 

“Fitting.”

 

Dizzee laughs too, breathless with how the merman is looking at him and touching him, and asks:

 

“How so?”

 

The merman smiles, lovesick, his eyes bright blue even through their sickly dullness.

 

“You’ve been leaving me dizzy since the first time I saw you.”

 

Dizzee is speechless, his face burning with a blush he can’t hold back. He stutters, overwhelmed, and grasps on the easiest distraction he can think of:

 

“Well, what’s your name?”

 

The merman looks down, wrapping a piece of wet hair around his finger nervously, and Dizzee notices he’s blushing too. He hesitates a moment, eyes searching the decking in front of him as if there’s answers written there, before looking back up.

 

“My name is Thor.”

 

Dizzee laughs at that; it figures the merman who stole his heart would be named after a pagan god from a strange northern land. It suits him, in it’s wildness and mystery. Dizzee smiles and slides his hand up the scaled tail to settle on the human waist. Thor’s skin is soft, with a trail of delicate golden hair leading to where the skin turns to scales. The mix of mammal and fish is slightly unsettling at first, but by no means is it ugly. Dizzee’s hand moves with the gentle rise of his stomach as he breathes.

 

“Well, Thor, I’m going to fix you up.”

 

Thor’s lips curve up in a small, secret smile.

 

“Thank you, Dizzee.”

 

His thumb is running in small circles across Dizzee’s skin, and Dizzee gets the feeling Thor is thanking him for so much more than the medical assistance. For trying to defend him, maybe, even though it got them into this mess? Or just for being here? Dizzee can’t imagine facing down Annie alone. Whatever the reason, the merman’s attention makes Dizzee feel like he’s floating on air, like he could walk right off the ship and into the clouds. If only; escaping would be much easier then.

 

The merman lets his hand sit on Dizzee’s neck for another long moment and then lets it drop. Dizzee misses the warmth of the affection, but he knows he has a job to do, so he doesn’t complain. He just starts digging the disinfectant out of the bin Cadillac had left and dabs it on the merman’s wounds. With how many there are, he’ll be almost completely covered in it when Dizzee’s done.

 

Behind them, a pair of boys are beginning to replace the dirty water in the tank. Thor looks relieved at not having to float in that mess any more. The boys work as quickly as possible, obviously afraid when they’re this close to Annie. Annie can tell, and she grins, basking in the power her very presence has over them. Dizzee keeps his focus on Thor, but he shoots the boys---Napoleon and his brother, if Dizzee remembers right---a comforting glance every so often.

 

Dizzee dabs the last bit of disinfectant around the end of the merman’s tail, careful not to get it on the delicate fin. The merman flinches in pain anyways. Dizzee wants to apologize, but there’s really no way to avoid hurting him. Instead, he places a comforting hand on Thor’s shoulder and smiles at him one last time before turning back to Annie.

 

“I’m done, Ma’am.”

 

She gets up and gives the merman a cursory glance before turning to the tank.

 

“You boys done with my tank yet?”

 

They scrub frantically at the last bit of uncleaned glass and step back, nodding. She smirks at them, and waves for them to pick up the buckets again.

 

“Alright then, let get him back in there and fill it up with some fresh water, hmm?”

 

The boys grab the buckets and scurry out, eager to be done with this job as soon as possible. Annie waves at Dizzee to, impatient with his stillness, and he hurries to pick Thor back up. The merman clings to him, fingers digging into his arm. He’s looking afraid again; they don’t know what’s going to happen next.

 

Dizzee carefully lowers him into the tank and lays him down on the hard glass bottom. As Dizzee steps away Thor curls in on himself, drawing his tail and limbs in towards his torso protectively. He looks small and pitiful, crouching in the empty tank. Dizzee steps forwards a step and then stops; how will Annie react if he goes to comfort him? He shoots her a look, trying to gauge her mood, but she’s as gleefully emotionless as always.

 

He decides to continue anyways; if she wants to hurt them, she will no matter what they do. Fortunately, she doesn’t react as he walks to the tank and sits down, pressing up against the glass wall separating them. The merman shifts to look at him, smiling weakly. Dizzee presses a hand to the glass, wishing they could actually touch, and the merman mirrors him. Dizzee presses his forehead against the tank and closes his eyes, trying to ignore Annie and Cadillac leering behind him.

 

“We’re going to make it out of here, Thor. I promise. It’ll turn out all right.”

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Chapter Text

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Boo does his best to creep along the deck without drawing attention. Not that they would question his presence there, he is a crewman after all. Maybe sneaking is actually being more suspicious? He straightens up and tries to walk calmly towards Annie’s cabin. As excited as he is about the merfolk being real, this adventure is quickly getting too dangerous for his liking. While they were planning, Annie had seemed like a faraway, unreal danger. But now that he’s heading to her cabin to convince one of his friends to commit mutiny against her, she’s suddenly looming large.

 

Boo had always knows she was dangerous, cruel, maybe even evil. But he hadn’t expected her to hurt them until Dizzee had gotten captured. Turns out her violence is easier to cope with when it isn’t directed at you and those you love. Well, it had always bothered him, but it’s not like they really had any way to get away from her...they hadn’t realized how bad she was until they far out to sea, with no way to escape her. None of the crew that had signed on seemed to have known what she was like.

 

Boo is knocked out of his thoughts when the cabin door opens right in front of him. He throws himself to the side, worried that it’s Annie coming out the door. To his relief, it’s only Napoleon and his brother. The younger boy always looks like he’s surprised, hair sticking up in salty spikes. He notices Boo hiding in the shadows of the door even if Napoleon doesn’t and stares. Napoleon, busy lugging a pair of buckets and complaining loudly, continues walking.

 

Boo whisper-shouts a “hey!” at him but he’s still oblivious. Boo and his brother share an exasperated look. Finally, Boo lunges and snags the arm of his jacket to get his attention. Napoleon spins around, long hair whipping around his face in a dirty cloud, almost dropping the buckets in surprise. Boo hisses; a loud noise is the last thing they need right now!

 

Napoleon sees who it is and calms, juggling the buckets for a tense moment before managing to keep them from falling. Once he’s got a grip on them he glares at Boo and snarls:

 

“Boo, don’t do that!”

 

Boo shrugs, he's got bigger things to worry about at the moment than scaring him.

 

“Sorry. But this is seriously important, okay?”

 

Napoleon frowns, his brother watching them with wide, interested eyes.

 

“What is?”

 

Boo leans close to whisper to him:

 

“We’re going to rescue the merman!”

 

Napoleon sputters, shock and fear clear on his face.

 

“You’re going to do what?!?”

 

Boo sighs. He really doesn’t have time for this right now.

 

“Look, all you have to do is help me and Dizz get him out of the tank. After that we’ve got everything else worked out. And we’ve got some really angry mermaids on our side.”

 

Napoleon’s eyes almost bug out of his head.

 

“Mermaids?”

 

Before he can ask more, a terrible shriek pierces the calm night. It’s a man screaming in agony, and it’s followed by a splash that sounds suspiciously like a body hitting the water. Boo starts pushing them towards the cabin door, shouting:

 

“Shit, they’re starting, we gotta get inside!”

 

As they yank the door open, a clawed hand rises over the rails and grasps on tight, a muscled torso quickly following it. The red merman climbs over the rail, mouth open to show all three rows of his sharklike teeth. He wails, a low, unnerving noise that makes Boo shake with a sorrow that isn’t his. A massive tail slithers over the rail, bracing him on the deck, perfectly in place for Annie to see. Napoleon and his brother scream at the sight of him and Boo takes advantage of the noise to kick the cabin door open.

 

He drags them inside and yells with everything he’s got:

 

“Miss Annie! There’s a merman!”

 

Annie rushes to the door just in time to see the Shaolin wail again, silhouetted against the bright moonlight. Her eyes shine and she rushes out the door, calling for her sailors to attack. As they run towards the merman, Carmelita and the other mermaids leap over the rail and drag them down into the ocean. Annie is too entranced by Shaolin to be deterred by the blood and screams and keeps plowing towards him. Boo quickly shuts the door and turns to the tank in the center of the room.

 

The injured merman is alert, a low wail to match Shaolin’s echoing around the cabin. Boo looks into his burning blue eyes and, for a moment, he thinks he understands why Dizzee was willing to throw everything away for him. Then he shakes it off and looks at his brother, slumped against the glass of the tank. Dizzee is looking him with both amazement and fear. He whispers:

 

“What are you doing, Boo?”

 

Napoleon grunts and answers for him:

 

“Apparently, we’re rescuing you dumbasses. Come on, let's get the merman out of the tank.”

 

That only makes Dizzee look more confused. The merman raises his head above the water, tilting his head to speak to Dizzee:

 

“My pack is here.”

 

Boo whispers hurriedly, trying to get Dizzee on board with the plan:

 

“They’re creating a distraction, but it won’t last forever. So let’s get moving!”

 

Dizzee scrambles to his feet. Napoleon and his brother are already moving towards the tank purposefully. The merman pushes himself to the surface with a quick curl of his tail, preparing to climb out. Boo stops for a moment, grinning proudly at his hastily assembled rescue team. Then he joins them at the side of the tank, arms ready to carry the merman to safety.

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Chapter Text

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Thor does his best not to move as the humans struggle to get him out of the tank. One of them is so young, so small, that he can barely reach the top of the tank. Thor wants to make it as easy for them as possible to carry him, but all of his instincts are screaming at him to move! He can hear Shao’s wailing, mourningful with undertones of fear and rage. The thought of him facing down Annie makes Thor shake with anger. They can’t let her can’t get ahold of him again. They can’t let her get ahold of any merfolk again.

 

Thor’s mind is still fogged with sickness but he raises his voice, singing I’m coming, I’m coming, I will be free! Shao’s voice is joined by Carmelita’s, Mylene’s, and Tanya’s, a chorus of we wait for you, come to safety, come back to us that the humans around him can’t hear and wouldn’t understand even if they could.

 

He’s jolted out of his song as they manage to get him over the lip of the tank, almost dropping him in the process. He hisses in pain, trying to think only of the open sea outside and of Dizzee’s cursing next to him, still trying to hold him up. The two youngest boys lose their grip on Thor’s slick scales and his tail goes crashing to the ground, drawing a scream out of him. He sprawls on the ground, his mind ringing with the pain wracking his body, missing out on what Dizzee is saying.

 

The other humans back away and suddenly there is the familiar clutch of Dizzee’s arms under his shoulders and the crook of his tail. He rises, struggling to stand up with Thor in his arms. There’s a moment of hesitation as his hands slip, and Thor curls into him instinctively, a hand coming to rest on his chest. He looks up to see his face determined but strained. Fear seizes him; worse than when the nets first entangled him, worse than when the tank first closed around him, worse than the first time Annie’s cane came into contact with his chest. Harm to himself he can endure, but harm to Dizzee? That cannot be allowed.

 

Dizzee is rushing towards the door, his gait uneven and his arms trembling with the strain. The other humans flank him, preparing to open the door and make the run for the ocean. In the short pause, Thor raises his hand and cups Dizzee’s face, drawing his attention. He looks him in the eye and say with as much conviction as he can drag out of his battered body:

 

“Put me down. You must run, don’t let me weigh you down.”

 

Dizzee shakes his head, equally determined, grasping Thor tighter. Thor gasps, desperation coloring his voice:

 

“Dizzee, please---”

 

Then the door is open and Dizzee is running into the firefight outside the cabin, head down and shoulders hunched as he darts towards the rail. The others run ahead of him, able to move faster, not weighed down by Thor’s weight. Thor struggles to process the scene around them: screams of pain, the song of his siblings, gun shots agonizingly loud. He blinks, the flash of gunpowder exploding nearby blinding him for a moment, and when he opens his eye, there’s the butt of a rifle aimed at the back of Dizzee’s head, unnoticed by him as he struggles to carry Thor.

 

Thor shrieks with everything in him, the painfully loud burst of sound freezing the attacking crewman in place for a short moment. Dizzee stumbles, equally shocked by the scream, and Thor takes the opportunity to slither free of his grasp. As soon as his tail hits the rough wood of the decking he coils it underneath him, using it to spring at the crewman who dared attack them. The man has partially recovered for the scream but it does him no good; the force of Thor’s jump knocks him to the ground, making it easy for Thor to tear into him with teeth and claws.

 

The man dies quickly, blood spilling across the deck and staining Thor’s hands, but the satisfaction only lasts for a moment before he hears a five fold scream: Dizzee’s voice, echoed by the song-scream of his siblings:

 

THOR!

 

He looks up and sees Annie looming out of the gun smoke, her elegant pistol in her hand and and her blood red lips curled up in a self satisfied smile.  His defensive scream must have alerted her, and she’s got the gun locked in on him; no distractions to save him now. Thor’s heart drops and he almost wants to leap at her, try to rip her to pieces, but he can hear Dizzee calling to him, panic in his voice. So he whirls, heading for the rail with the awkward half crawl, half slither of an creature not made for land.

 

He just catches Dizzee eye as he disappears over the rail, still reaching out for Thor but dragged overboard to safety by the human Boo. The other two, the young ones, cower just before the rail, frozen with fear as he hears the gun go off. He waits for the pain to hit as he leaps over the rail, but all he feels is the comforting cold of the sea water surrounding him once again.

 

When he surfaces again, he hears a horrible, pained scream and sees the two young humans falling towards the waves, the older one trailing an almost unnoticeable trail of red. He dives towards them, a new desperation rising in him as he sees the red beginning to spread into the waves. The younger human is thrashing, trying to stay afloat, eyes wide with fear as he shouts at his brother to swim. The older human is in no state to do so; Thor can see a smear of red on his chest and his eye glazed with pain. He’s floating for now, human’s natural buoyancy just barely keeping his head above water, but the waves could quickly pull him under.

 

Thor is almost in reach when he hears a terribly familiar sound; Annie’s cackle echoes over the water, crystal clear even with the sound of fighting so loud behind her. Thor looks up, fear clutching at his heart, to see her leaning over the rail. Her blood red robe shines bright in the smoke but Thor only has eyes for the dark cavern of the gun barrel once again pointed, unerringly, at him. Merfolk are the top of the ocean food chain, but he thinks Annie could very well be counted as a predator and him as her prey. Her eyes drill into him, the endless, violent determination that’s haunted Shao for years now focused on Thor.

 

He snarls; an useless threat display, and continues his course towards the humans, managing to snatch the younger boy. He shouts, fear reignited by a large toothy merman grabbing him with no warning, but quickly freezes as he sees Annie. Thor is surprised she hasn’t fired yet, but their firearms don’t carry many shots, and he’s come closer into her range to help the humans. He gauges the distance between them and the bleeding human, but trying to help him will likely get him shot by Annie, leaving the younger boy to drown. Thor curses and whirls to dive to safety, trying to ignore the human in his arms beating at him with small fists, screaming for his brother.

 

Before he can dive, he hears the bang of the gun going off and he flinches, curling around the human protectively, once again waiting for the pain to hit. Instead, he hears a shriek---unmistakably Annie---and the boy in his arms laughs. He turns, treading water, just in time to see Shao send Annie tumbling over the rail. The pistol slips from her hand as she hits the water and when she surfaces she sputters, struggling to stay afloat. Thor joins in the boy’s laughter, relief washing over him.

 

Shao meets his eyes, perched on the rail victoriously, and grins. Then his song changes and he slithers off the rail, singing:

 

Get to safety! I’ll get the injured human.

 

Thor sings his assent and then turns, spotting Tanya and Mylene in the distance, struggling to keep the four older humans afloat, including Dizzee. Thor sighs, glad to see he’d made it to their somewhat tentative safety, and begins to swim towards them. He’s ready for all the blood and death to be over; he wants to go home.

 

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Shao leaps from the rail, glad to see Thor retreating to safety, and carefully makes his way towards the young human. Annie is still splashing around not far away and as he swims closer she glares at him. She curses, leveling the gun at him, but only produces a clicking noise as the waterlogged gunpowder refuses to ignite. Shao laughs at her, grinning as the disrespect makes her fume with helpless anger, and then focuses on the kid.

 

He’s floating limply in the water, long hair fanning out in the waves that are quickly turning red with his blood. Shao catches ahold of him gently, careful not to jar the bullet wound that’s bored through his chest. For a moment, he thinks the kid might be dead, but then his dark eyes focus shakily. Despite the cold and the pain, he doesn’t seem afraid. He looks up at Shao with awe and asks him weakly:

 

“Are you an angel?”

 

Shao doesn't like humans, but he isn’t heartless. This one is just a innocent kid, dying a slow painful death for helping Thor escape. He smiles at the kid and whispers as comfortingly as he can:

 

“Yes, I am. I’m here to help you. But it’s going to hurt for a moment, okay?”

 

The kid smiles sweetly and nods, his eyes slipping closed again. Shaolin takes a deep breath, bracing himself for what he has to do. He can see the other humans watching anxiously in the distance and knows this next part isn’t going to go over well. He looks down, trying to focus only on the boy so he doesn’t have to see their reaction. He grips the boys shoulders as gently as he can, doing his best not to accidentally claw him. Then he pushes with all his strength, forcing the boy underwater.

 

The humans scream as they watch him, their horrified voices stabbing into him like knives. There’s splashing as they try to swim to the boy’s aid, but they’re quickly stopped by the other merfolk. Shao winces as he feels the kid begins to struggle against him, survival instincts kicking in as his lungs fill with water, but he’s too weakened to struggle for long. He finally goes still and stays that way for an agonizingly long time. Finally he begins to twitch and seize, body regrowing his bones and flesh as the transformation completes. Shao can’t look away; the changing is as amazing as it is disgusting.

 

When his new appendages have finished growing, he once again falls into deathly stillness. Shao waits, desperately hoping the transformation has worked. Some humans don’t survive it, especially if they are injured.

 

The kid blinks his eyes open, easily looking through his newly formed transparent secondary eyelids to meet Shao’s eyes. He looks down at his tail, which appears to be the same bright red as Shao’s. He stares at it in wonder before looking back up at Shaolin, then back to the tail again. He laughs, expression muddled by the layers of water between them, and mouths at Shaolin: ‘cool!’

 

Shaolin laughs, nodding in agreement, and lets go of him, sticking close in case he needs a moment to get used to swimming with his new tail. The kid’s a natural: he only flounders for a moment before being able to stay afloat on his own. Soon enough he’s doing somersaults through the waves and cheering excitedly, waving at his brother.

 

The humans stares at the newly turned merman with a mixture of confusion and amazement. Shao grins, gently steering the kid towards them, before yelling:

 

“What do you say we go home?”

 

He can’t wait to leave Annie and her devastated ship behind. It was satisfying to finally get to make her pay for what she had done to him, but now he never wants to see her again. He wants to live free and unhunted with his new family without thinking about her. Then maybe he can finally begin to heal.

 

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Chapter Text

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Dizzee shakes his head, astonished. Napoleon has been perfectly human a couple seconds ago, but now he’s turned into a merman! Merfolk existing at all is hard enough to swallow, but this? Dizzee gives up being shocked at the absurdity of what their life has become and just laughs at it all.

Thor, who has been treading water at his side, turns to look at him, that love struck smile on his face. Dizzee can’t help but blush; Thor’s attention is rather overwhelming. In fact, the feelings he’s having for Thor are extremely overwhelming.

Dizzee has always been weird, so maybe this was just meant to be. Maybe the hole he felt in his life has finally been filled, and by a handsome mythical creature at that!

He decides that the most appropriate response is simply not to think about it for the moment. Besides, they have bigger things to think about---like surviving--- in their current situation. He raises his voice, almost yelling to make sure everyone can hear him:

“Not to be ungrateful for your help getting us off the ship, but where do we go from here?”

His voice shakes as he speaks because his teeth are chattering so hard. The ocean is much colder than he expected, and he doesn’t know how long they’re going to have to be submerged in it. His brothers are all looking to him now, and he can see them shivering as they bob in the waves.

The mermaid with the brown tail, who is keeping Boo afloat, speaks up first:

“There’s an island a few minutes from here.”

Thor reaches out to take Dizzee’s hand, swimming into position to help him stay afloat, freeing up the mermaid who had been helping him before. Dizzee feels safer with Thor’s strong hold on his hand and a gentle arm around his waist. As he smiles at him, Thor continues:

“You’ll be safe there. There is a spring for water and we can bring you food until we figure out what to do next.”

Dizzee can’t help himself, he reaches out to brush a wet strand of hair hanging in Thor’s face back behind his ear, overly aware of the brush of his fingers against Thor’s cheek. Thor beams at him, cheeks turning a soft pink.

“Thank you, Thor.”

The moment is broken as Boo snorts next to him, snarking:

“He should be thanking us. We risked our butts to save him.”

Dizzee is suddenly reminded that they aren’t alone, and that his brothers are watching them. He feels a slight bit of shame curling in his stomach, which only makes him feel angry. He doesn’t want to have to feel ashamed of what he feels for Thor.

Thor takes the jab well, bowing his head graciously and responding politely to Boo:

“Thank you all for rescuing me. I am endlessly grateful.”

Shao swims closer, the disturbance making Dizzee tread water a little harder to stay above the waves.

“I’m just glad we got a chance to fuck Annie over. Hopefully this means she won’t be hurting any other merfolk.”

The mermaid with the orange tail swims over to him, her eyes subtly scanning him for wounds.

“It was risky, but at least she will not be able to hurt any of our school. We will warn them about the trawl ships upon our return.”

Ra speaks up, always curious:

“You mean there’s more of you?”

The orange mermaid smiles at him, almost looking fond of him:

“Yes, many more. But we cannot let them know of you existence or that we have helped you. We are banned from helping humans in normal circumstances, and others in our school may not be as welcoming as we have been to you.”

Ra’s face drops, excitement turns to fear:

“Oh. Okay. Stay out of sight, then?”

The orange mermaid nods, her long hair falling over her shoulder with the movement.

“Indeed. We should make for the island now.”

The merfolk all grab a human, powering through the waves with strong strokes of their large tails. The weight of the humans slows them down slightly, as do Thor’s wounds, but they make good time to the island. It’s large, but obviously has nothing of value on it, mostly plains of grass and not much else. Even so, it will be a sufficient home for now.

The merfolk drag them through the waves until the water is shallow enough for them to walk on their own. Dizzee stumbles through the choppy water, the sand shifting under his feet and knocking him off balance, but he makes it to the beach. Once he’s far enough up that the waves can no longer reach him he collapses into the warm sand, all the exhaustion hitting him at once.

Boo and Ra stumble past him, heading for the dubious shade of a single palm tree that’s a few feet past where he’s come to rest. Zeke lies down in the sun a little bit away, waving at Dizzee to make sure he knows he’s there.

The merfolk rest in the shallow water, making slow circles as the humans catch their breath. Napoleon does flips as he learns how to work his new tail, his brother watching him in amazement. The Merfolk’s tails shine gloriously in the sunlight, scattering multi colored bits of light across the beach, making it look like a stained glass window.

Dizzee watches Thor makes a thorough inspection of his tail, running his fingers over the missing scales and scars where the knives had cut him. Dizzee can see the same sort of scars on Shaolin’s tail and it makes his heart ache for the merman.

Once he’s done, Thor swims over to Dizzee, his elegant tail dragging awkwardly as he makes it to the sand. His fins flutter, kicking up a faint spray of sand as he settles down next to Dizzee. He reaches out a hand, not expectant but offering contact if Dizzee wants it. Dizzee gladly takes his hand, careful not to cut himself on Thor’s claws.

Thor sighs, dropping his head to hide behind a veil of his golden hair, evidently uncomfortable. Finally he speaks, his voice low.

“Thank you.”

Dizzee shakes his head, trying to process. Like last time, he feels like Thor is thanking him for much more than just helping get him off the ship.

“For what?”

Thor laughs, blushing a soft pink.

“For everything. For being you. For being willing to come with us. Being willing to leave your whole world behind to be with me.”

Dizzee laughs too, slightly uncomfortable with someone being so happy with him just being himself. It’s a new feeling, but not necessarily a bad one.

“Oh. Well, if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being myself.”

Thor smiles fondly at him, squeezing his hand a bit tighter.

“That is all I could ever want from you.”

Dizzee coughs, trying to think of something to say that isn’t “I think I’m in love with you” or “you’re so beautiful I feel like I can’t breath” or just overwhelmed gibberish.

“Are you going to stay here with us?”

Thor nods, his eyes slipping shut as he basks in the warm sun.

“The others will have to return to our pack, but I would like to stay with you, if that’s alright.”

Dizzee grins, bringing a hand up to press against Thor’s waist, right at the line where human skin turns to fish scales. He rubs his thumb in small circles, want to memorize how Thor feels.

“That’s perfect.”

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