When Lance was a kid he managed to convince himself that he was actually part merman.
He would eye his parents suspiciously, trying to figure out if he was found on the beach and they adopted him or if one of them was secretly a merperson.
His mom was a marine biologist and his dad loved to surf and fish, so they were equally tied in his mind to be half fish.
Whichever it was he figured that he would sprout a tail and gills when he hit puberty and anxiously awaited it. To prepare himself for the oncoming change Lance would go the beach to swim everyday after school, he learned how to surf from his older sister, and even tried to eat sushi which had not agree with his 5 year old palette.
His parents found his behavior peculiar to say the least, but harmless, so they didn't question it. They were just happy that their son was healthy and enjoying an active lifestyle to help offset some of his rambunctious adolescent energy.
When Lance was 7 he finally confided in someone his suspensions of his magical lineage, that someone was his best friend Hunk, whom he meet in stinky Mrs. McNorman’s second grade class. Hunk believed him immediately and the two of them have been inseparable since.
The sun was beating down on Lance’s tiny back and the ocean was calling him like a siren, but he didn't want to abandon Hunk to go swimming by himself.
“Hey Hunk, how come you never go in the water with me? Are you a scaredy-cat?” Lance teased, poking Hunk’s foot with a shovel as they worked on their latest sandcastle.
“Nuh-uh, I just like the beach better. It’s got sandcastles, and picnics, and beach volleyball, and you can look for shells,” Hunk listed off on his fingers.
“If you like shells,” Lance interrupted, nearly toppling the castle’s tower in his excitement,“ you should go snorkeling with me. Everyone knows the best shells are underwater!”
Hunk shifted uneasily, it was hard for him to say no to Lance when he got excited about stuff. “My parents don't like it when I go swimming without them, they say it's not safe for me.”
Lance cocked his head, “are you a bad swimmer, ‘cause I can teach you if you are.”
Hunk snorted a little at that, “no it's not that.”
“Then what is it?” Lance huffed.
“It's a secret,” Hunk said shyly, choosing to look at the tawny sand instead of Lance’s big blue eyes.
Lance thought this over for a minute. He didn't want to make his friend uncomfortable, but he also didn't think it was fair that Hunk was keeping secrets when they promised each other no secrets.
Plus he told Hunk the mermaid thing and that was super important! He nodded his head, mind made up.
“Hunk, we said we wouldn't keep secrets from each other. And I told you my mermaid secret and I haven't told anyone else about that.”
Hunk looked at the ocean and the back and Lance. He sighed, “yeah you're right. But, you have to double pinky promise that you'll never tell anyone anything about this.”
Lance blinked in surprise, double pinky promises were sacred, this must be really important. He shook his head.
The two boys held out their hands, crossed wrists, and then clasped pinkies while shaking them. It was sealed, Lance would take this secret to the grave.
“Ok so what is it?” Lance asked, unable to hide his curiosity.
“Well, it might be easier just to show you…”
They were at a hidden cove of rocks, not far from Hunk’s house. Lance’s parents never let him climb them because they were “too dangerous”. Lance remembered being upset and thinking they were over reacting, but now, eyeing how steep, and sharp, and slippery they were Lance knew his parents were right.
But Hunk assured him that he's done this a hundred times and that he knows the path. He scrambled up them in his Finding Nemo flip flops sure footedly, helping Lance along the way. He seemed to have found what they came for because he removed a small rock and retrieved a folded up piece of brown fur.
Lance was hopelessly confused, Hunk just offered him a grin as he helped Lance back down off the rocks.
Once they were safely back on the beach Hunk started taking off his flip flops and swimming trunks.
“Dude!” Lance protested.
“It's cool, I promise,” he said as he swung the fur pelt around his shoulders like a cape. He then ran for the water leaving Lance scrambling behind him.
When Lance finally dove under the water after his friend he didn't see him. He felt something cold poke his back and he yelped, practically jumping out of the water thinking it was a shark.
Turning around he saw a sea lion, wait no a seal. It didn't have any ears, Lance’s mama taught him the difference because she was smart like that. The seal was small, probably a baby, and dark brown.
Lance eyed it curiously, then he pointed up indicating he needed air.
The seal followed him to the surface, “Hunk, is that you?”
The seal, Hunk, nudged his hand.
Lance just stared at him for a moment before exclaiming, “ohmygod Hunk this is so cool!”
Lance and Hunk were both 13 now, and both beginning to see the start of puberty. Lance shot up like a weed and Hunk’s voice began to deepen to a smooth baritone. With these changes lessened and lessened Lance’s small hope that his childhood suspicions were true. Hunk did his best to console his friend, he bought him his favorite garlic knots from the food truck that parked near their beach. But Hunk couldn't shake his feeling of guilt letting Lance go on so long believing what he knew wasn't true.
Mermaids did in fact exist, but Lance wasn't one of them. He had met several of them swimming with his parents, which he desperately wanted to talk to Lance about it but he didn't want to bum him out even more. Hunk stayed pretty tight lipped about most magical things, it didn't seem fair to tell Lance about it if he couldn't join in.
“I should have been able to tell by the fact I don't like sushi!” Lance groaned as he munched on the last knot.
Hunk just chuckled and patted his dramatic friend's back. He rubbed a few circles between Lance’s shoulder blades like he knew Lance liked before getting serious, “you know, you don't have to be a merman to be cool. You're like the coolest person I know! Nobody is better at soccer than you, and you know how to surf, and you're bilingual, and you're a great dancer and singer, and-”
Hunk noticed that Lance’s shoulders were shaking, he was laughing and crying.
Lance quickly wiped his tears away before realizing they were they only ones left on the beach. He sighed and rested his head on Hunks shoulder, “Hunk, you big sap. You're right, I don't need to be a merman. Besides I already have the coolest best friend ever.”
Now it was Hunk’s turn to tear up, “Aw Lance, come’re.”
They were sticky from sweat and ocean water and they both smelled vaguely of garlic, but it was one of the best hugs ever.
Updating a day early because I’m not sure if I’ll have power tomorrow :-)
“Hunk, get your furry butt off me!”
Hunk just wiggled a bit more to get comfortable and then let out a content sigh, which Lance knew meant he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Lance groaned and wiped some of the cold water that Hunk had dripped on him off. He normally would be totally down for some seal cuddles but right now he just wanted to sulk. Taylor had just broken up with him.
And before Taylor it was Selena, and before Selena it was Asher, and before Asher it was Lucas, and before that it was Jenny.
Well, maybe he shouldn't beat himself up over Jenny, they only dated for three days in the sixth grade.
But the point still stands, he was bad at relationships, which is a terrible thing to be bad at for a hopeless romantic like Lance. All of his older siblings already seemed to have it figured out, the whole dating without getting dumped each time thing. Why couldn't he?
He draped his arm over his eyes to block out the sun, it was too cheery for him.
“Huuuuuuunk, shift back. I wanna go home and mope probably alone in my room.”
“Want to talk about it?” Hunk asked elbow propped on Lance’s chest and his check resting in his hand.
Lance rolled his eyes at Hunk, him being naked to shift had lost its awkwardness, and it's humor.
“No.” Lance said, finally being able to shove Hunk off.
“Fine, but text me later to let me know that you're ok?” Hunk asked, worry coloring his voice.
Lance softened as he picked up his clothes and beach bag, “yeah ok, text you later.”
Hunk gave him a thumbs up and a big smile before shifting back.
Lance stared at his seashell alarm clock that Hunk had made him in shop class when they were 15. The short hand was on three and the long hand had stopped working a few months ago but he kept forgetting to ask Hunk to fix it.
So it’s somewhere around 3 AM, Lance thought as he rolled on to in back to stare at the glow-in-the-dark stars on his ceiling. He arranged them to look like the real stars and constellations in the night sky, it normally helped him feel less caged in when he was indoors. But tonight they weren't calming him at all like they normally did.
He counted all of them and traced the constellations with his eyes, but he still felt too keyed up. Between the wind pounding on the window and the thoughts pounding in his head he decided to give up on trying to sleep. Now he was trying to decide if he should do the stupid thing or not.
He tossed the cover of his bed off, deciding to do the stupid thing.
Ok in hindsight maybe I shouldn't have done the stupid thing, Lance thought as he struggled to kick back up to the surface of the water.
The cord attached to his surfboard had snapped, so he no longer had that to hold onto to float in this storm. Lance was also pretty sure his board hit his nose when it snapped, so now he was to worry about it bleeding in open waters.
He managed to break the surface and get a breath before another powerful wave sent him barreling back into the depths of the ocean.
So just to make sure I have everything right, I’m in the middle of probably a tropical storm, with no board, I'm pinned under a wave, and I'm bleeding. This is just fucking perfect, Lance mentality kicked himself.
He just wanted to blow off some steam before he had to go back to school tomorrow and face Taylor. Now Lance morbidly wonders if he will ever make it back to school.
His chest was burning and if his count was right he was nearing four minutes, which was the longest he's been able to hold his breath.
I'm such an idiot, Lance thought as his vision went dark.
Man, what an idiot Keith thought as he followed the scent of blood and selkie. He could now see the selkie was in their human form, but he still couldn't figure out why they would go for a swim when the weather was this bad and without their skin to top it off.
Keith rolled his eyes and sped up, gripping the lanky man around his midsection and propelled them to the surface.
He was careful not to pierce the delicate skin as he checked for a pulse and breath. His heart was beating but he wasn't breathing. Keith’ gills flared in annoyance.
He grumbled as he swam them to shore, “you're goddamn lucky there's no humans around.”
He laid him gently on the soft sand and tried to recall what Shiro taught him about human anatomy. He pressed firmly on his toned stomach, the selkie immediately began to cough up water and push him off.
“Jesus, ow. Couldn't you have done mouth to mouth inste- holy shit!”
The unfairly handsome selkie was staring, his azure eyes wide, Keith glanced behind him to make sure no humans had appeared.
“What?” He asked confused.
“You, you're a mermaid,” Lance looked him up and down, “well a merman. Still, I-I knew you existed! Holy shit!”
“I don't understand, of course you know we exist. You're a selkie aren't you, you reek of one anyways.”
“Selkie..? Like Hunk? Hey! Hunk doesn't smell!” Lance said defensively crossing his arms.
Keith blinked, for this to be a human but to smell so strongly of selkie, he must be Hunk’s mate then. Keith was unaware that he had chosen a mate already.
“Does Hunk know you're out here alone in this storm?” He asked displeased. If he had a mate he certainly would keep a better eye on them.
Lance bristled, “I don't see how it's any of his business.”
Keith crossed his arms to match Lance’s, “he should be taking better care of you.”
Lance was floored, “I’m not some child, I can take care of myself!”
“Yeah, I totally got that impression by having to save your life,” Keith replied dryly.
Lance gasped, “yeah well… thanks for that actually,” he finished softly.
Keith's face and chest flushed the same scarlet red as his tail. “Yeah well, don't mention it.”
The sun was starting to peak over the horizon, painting both the boys in shades of gold, pink, and maroon.
“I should go,” Keith said watching the sunrise.
“Yeah,” Lance said shyly, taking in the merman’s profile. “Can I see you again?”
Keith shrugged, “maybe?”
This is weird, why would someone else's mate want to see me again Keith thought. And why do I want to see them again, they're taken he reminded himself.
Keith frowned, his tone icey, “ be more careful when you're swimming, I might not be there to save you next time.” And then he was gone, disappeared beneath the waves.
Lance and Hunk were relaxing on their beach near the cropping of rocks where Hunk hides his pelt. Hunk had made these seriously amazing Cuban inspired sandwiches and they managed to steal some wine coolers from Lance’s oldest sister Sofía to celebrate making through finals week and Lance’s fifth breakup. Hunk was wearing his obnoxious neon yellow “sun’s out guns out” tank and Lance was wearing his matching neon blue “sky's out thighs out” tank.
Today was a good day, as good of day as any to tell Hunk about his stupid decision and about Keith.
Hunk was walking to the cooler to grab another wine cooler when Lance casually said, “so I met a merman the other day.”
Hunk snorted as he grabbed one for himself and one for Lance, “is this like the time you totally met two aliens and they robbed you?”
“Hey! Nyma and Rollo were real! But no this one was different. His name is Keith and I met him-”
Hunk nearly tripped over his flip flops, “wait wait wait, you met Keith!?”
Lance hopped up from his towel, “wait you know Keith!?”
“Black hair, purple eyes, red tail-”
“And a bad attitude?” Lance finished, “yeah I met him.”
“How?” Hunk demanded has he plopped down on his towel and pulled Lance back down to his.
“Well I went surfing the night we had a tropical storm,”
“Lance!” Hunk interjected worried.
“I was fine! Until I wasn't. Anyway, he rescues me all Little Mermaid like, then he tells me I stink which is like very mixed signals there. Then he says that he thought I was a selkie and I kinda let it slip that you were, oops by the way, but I guess it's fine since you know each other.” Lance paused for a second, eyebrows furrowing. “Wait! Back up, you said you know Keith. So you knew mermaids existed and you didn't tell me? Did you know about them this entire time and think I was stupid?”
Hunk held his hands up “what Lance no, I definitely don't think you're stupid and I never have. You're crazy smart and you're going to make a great marine biologist. I honestly didn't know about mermaids and other magical stuff as a kid, my parents didn't trust me with that stuff until I was older.” Hunk took a deep breath, “and well, by then you were just so convinced that I didn't want to tell you that you were wrong. Plus it didn't seem far to me that I got to see all of this stuff and you didn't so I guess I just kept it from you. But that wasn't right of me either.” Hunk paused to rubbed the back of his neck, “ I thought not telling you would be easier for you but really it was easier for me, because I was scared you would be mad at me and stop being my friend.”
Lance looked shocked. “Hunk,” he said quietly, “I’d never stop being your friend.”
Hunk sniffled, “really?”
“Yeah, really”, Lane replied.
“Thanks”, Hunk said wiping his eyes.
Lance sighed, “do you need a hug big guy?”
Hunk nodded before bringing Lance into a bone crushing bear hug. Lance would have laughed at the intensity of it if Hunk wasn't currently squeezing all the air of if his lungs.
“Hunk, can't...breathe” Lance gasped out, tapping him on the back.
“Sorry man, I'm just really glad we're ok and I don't have to keep secrets from you anymore. Oh and while we're on that topic, fairies and stuff exist”, Hunk added quickly.
“Fairies? What like Tinkerbell?”
“Uh yeah... sure”, Hunk replied thinking of what Pidge would do if compared to Tinkerbell. “So finish your story about meeting Keith.”
Lance let out a long annoyed groan, “ Ok, so then he has the audacity to say the you should know where I am and be taking better care of me like you're my babysitter or something! I told him that I was very capable of taking care of myself and he- he nevermind. Anyway he's a jerk and I don't like him even though he's cute and a merman and I actually don't want to see him again. Screw him.”
When Lance was done telling his story he took an angry sip of his wine cooler, his face was flushed but Hunk could tell it wasn't from the sun or alcohol.
Groaning Hunk flung himself back into the gritty sand, he knew why Keith acted the way he did. He thought Lance was his mate.
Now Hunk was going to have to find Keith and explain to him that Lance is single.
Because he knew Lance was lying, he did in fact want to see Keith again.