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He did not particularly want to be here. The ocean was fine, he supposed, so long as it never went past his knees. And if he really had to admit, the beach itself wasn’t the worst he’d been too– this stretch seemed to be a secret only Rio knew of, judging by the way she winked at him when she asked if he wanted to get some alone time.

While it wasn’t his favorite place to be, Durbe was still serene as he watched Rio dive into the water and glide as if she were a creature made for the sea who just happened to be bound to the land time to time. He was starting to get worried when she didn’t pop up after a minute– but jumped as a wave of water splashed him from behind. She had managed to slip around the peer, and was now pulling herself up to sit besides him. Durbe’s pout was met with a shit eating grin and a flash of sharp teeth as Rio proceeded to wring her hair out over his head. “Just trying to help you cool off.”

“Thanks, I appreciate it.” He smiled and pushed her right back into the oceans waves. She yelped and quickly retaliated. Most of their day went on like that, alternating between picking on each other and just relaxing to the sounds of the lapping water.

“Don’t you think you should reapply sunscreen?” Rio pushed herself onto the pier, flopping down besides Durbe and looking him over.

“I’m actually more worried about you. I’ve at least been under the umbrella.” Her skin, while darker than his due to her stronger affinity for the outdoors, had taken on a bit of a redder tint than normal.

Rio pinched at her shoulder, then hissed. “Mmm, yeah I think you’re right. I might have overestimated my resilience.” She reached into their swim bag, pulling out the sunscreen along with water bottles and some snacks. He watched out of the corner of his eye as she applied the block, drinking slowly. Of course she caught him quickly. “Sorry, I’m too flexible to really need help getting this on. But if the knight wouldn’t mind a little chivalry from a princess, I could get your back?”

He felt his ears going pink and knew he couldn’t blame it on the sun– like she’d believe him. Nodding, he stripped off his shirt– while he kept his binder on, the tee had started to dry and was becoming counter productive at this point anyways. Rio nudged him into laying on his stomach, then mercilessly slapped a freezing glob of sunscreen right on his lower back. “Hey!” Durbe squealed but didn’t fight Rio off as she began working it into his skin. It could have been the heat, or the lull of the ocean, but under her hands (he was sure she had gotten all of the sunscreen rubbed in a few minutes ago) he found himself quickly dozing off. Only a sharp snort of amusement kept him awake, mumbling, “What are you laughing at?”

Rio found a particularly tense spot, making him melt as she worked it away. “You purr.”

Chapter Text

“Cathy! Cathy!!! Wait up!” It was the end of the school day, all the students were getting ready to leave, antsy to be home. She turned around and was surprised to see Alito waving frantically in her direction from the hallway. He had to jump a little bit to be seen over the taller students. Cathy’s lips curled into a smile. His enthusiasm was always contagious even when she didn’t know what he was so excited about.

She slung her backpack over her shoulder as he finally managed to break past the current of students. “What’s up?” She asked as he nearly ran into her desk.

He beamed, green eyes twinkling, “I’ve got something to show you!”

It was a basket full of kittens. Cathy squealed in delight and immediately crouched down to pet them. She noticed the lack of mother as she coo’d over the mewing cats. While they seemed old enough to have been weened, they certainly weren’t old enough to hunt on their own.

As Alit crouched down beside her and took one of the kittens to pet almost nervously, she knew what he was going to ask before he opened his mouth. “Yes, I’ll take care of them.” Alit instantly grinned, but opened his mouth to ask– “And yes, you can come visit.”

“Woohoo!!” Alit let out an excited whoop, fist pumping victoriously, before wrapping her in a one armed hug. “Thank you so much! Rio is super allergic and even Gil wouldn’t try to help me sneak them in the house but I couldn’t just leave them here ya know? You were the first person who I thought would at least know what to do–”

Cathy giggled as he rambled a mile per minute, patting his back then gently taking the kitten that was starting to look dizzy from all his animated gesturing. “Just pick up some kitten food before you come over.”

Chapter Text

Durbe had finally done it. After hours of travel, market to market, he had finally found the perfect watermelon. It sat serenely among its peers, dew on the rind glistening in the pink light of the setting sun. A wave of satisfaction overwhelmed him, making him smile as he paid, the watermelon cradled gently in one arm. This summer night party would be perfect.

The others greeted him ecstatically as he pulled into the wildflower field. Alit was quick to drag him over to where Girag was setting up the fireworks, seeking approval as the others arranged the table and prepared the food.

Rio’s voice caught his attention. “Hey Doob, where’d you get this melon? Something feels…. off about it.” She seemed to be thoroughly examining the large watermelon, rotating it and tapping at the shell. He shrugged and laughed it off as one of her superstitions– the family he got it from was nice, and all of their produce seemed respectable. She dropped it quickly at his assurance. They were here to relax.

But before the fireworks, there was one more tradition. Mizael tapped the bat in his hand a few times, as if testing the weight. Alit put the melon on the ground as Vector produced a blindfold. Appraising the situation, Mizael pushed the bat into Durbe’s hands. “You’ve spent so much time organizing this, it’s only fair you get the fun of breaking the melon.”

Vector snickered as he blinded Durbe with ease, then spun him around till he was good and dizzy while the others cheered. Wobbly on his feet as Vector stopped him and pointed him vaguely in the right direction, Durbe’s muscle memory kicked in. He steadied his stance, raised the bat high above his head as if it were a gleaming sword and–

The bat smashed down, the rind cracked easily– but what burst out was not sweet juices nor chunks of fruit. Blood splattered the Barians closest to the beaten melon, Durbe drenched in dark red. Instead of watermelon, weird organs slid out of the shell and pooled in the grass, shards of bone scattered amongst them from the skull that had been contained inside. What remained of eyes and brain oozed obscenely from what was left, a tongue lulling from between the slack jaws.

Shark was the first to speak.
“Oh god what the fuck”

Chapter Text

“You know it’s probably—“ Michael’s sentence was punctuated by a deep yawn. “Probably not good to stay up this late when we have a test tomorrow.”

He and Yuma were sitting on his bedroom floor, surrounded by pillows and wrappers from sleepover snacks. It had taken forever to beg his dad to let Yuma come over on a school night, a lot of puppy eyes and blackmailing Chris to make sure their father was too busy in the lab to remember Michael’s midterms were this week. It had taken even more blackmail to make sure Thomas would mind his own business.

It was nearly 1am now, only the flashing screen of the TV providing any light. They had to turn the volume down, and quickly hush one another when they managed to beat a tough level out of fear of someone realizing they were still awake. Micheal suspected Chris was aware but too tired to care, which he was glad for. They had almost, almost managed to beat the final boss. Yuma was tapping away at the controller furiously, leaning left and right as though his real life movements would give him an edge in the game. Micheal snickered at his enthusiasm and diligently played defense and healer, but mostly just watching the younger boy go all in. He was cute. Really cute.

The final boss was down to a quarter HP when a tapping on the door sent them both screaming and ducking under the nearest blankets. They clung to each other as it slowly creaked open. Michael instinctively placed himself in front of Yuma.

“Go to sleep you twerps. It’s nearly 3 o’clock.” Thomas’s groggy but amused whisper made them immediately relax. He managed to close the door just in time to miss the pillow Michael hurled.

Soon as Thomas left, they broke down into quiet, relieved giggling. “I guess he’s right.” Yuma admitted. His eyes has become half lidded from sleep, and he was blinking slowly.

Micheal snorted. “I told you so an hour ago.”

Yuma swatted him with a pillow, but they quickly got to work making their sleeping bags comfortable. Michael was originally going to give Yuma the bed, as he was the guest, but Yuma insisted they compromise. Squirming into the bags, Michael quickly realized they were a lot closer than he had thought. Yuma was watching him quietly, faint moonlight just enough for Michael to catch the movement of his eyes. “Hey.” Yuma whispered quietly. “Yeah?” Michael whispered back, squirming a little closer. He felt like the quiet was cocooning them better than the blankets.

“Can…. would it be weird if I kissed you?”

Michael wished it was a little louder now— that was the game was still going or he had turned on his radio— anything that would keep Yuma from hearing the obvious beat of his heart in the darkness. Yuma was starting to squirm a bit, no longer looking at him intensely as he had been. “Sorry, I just thought—“

“Yeah!” Michael cut him off, then quickly bit his tongue at how over eager he was sounding. He recomposed himself and wiggled until they were inches apart, “…Yeah. Yeah, that would be nice.”

They stared at each other for a second, grinning loosely but not really sure how to start. Finally, Yuma made the first move, surging forward to plant a soft peck on Michael’s lips. “Sleep well, Mich.”

Michael couldn’t keep from giggling, feeling his face go the color of his bangs. With a little more confidence, he leaned forward and quickly returned the kiss. “Goodnight Yuma.”