The sun was hanging low on the sky, the background pale blue and pink as it began to edge closer to the horizon. It cast a warm golden light over the landscape, over the small town and the water, causing it to glimmer.
Felix looked over the beach, closing the door to the lifeguards changing room. He kept his eyes on the ocean, the waves rolling in gently over the sand as he locked the door. He had been on the last shift, and per usual it had been pretty calm towards the later hours of the day. The beach was currently empty, void of the tourists that had been there earlier that day.
With his shoes in a hand, his bag slung over his shoulder, he began to head back to the apartment he was renting for the summer. He was only wearing a simple white t-shirt and blue swimming trunks, the swimming trunks being a part of the lifeguard uniform. He walked across the beach, the sand still warm from the sun and he pulled up his sunglasses, letting them sit on top of his head.
He had been working here every summer since he’d been 16 turning 17, so this would be his third year. It was a pretty good job to have over the summer and Felix would lie if he said he didn’t enjoy it. He enjoyed coming back to the small town, taking a break from big city life and stress, to spend his days in the sun; working his shifts before hitting some waves.
There was a shortcut to Felix’s apartment, but it required him to walk along the beach for a while longer and then climb over some larger, rocky parts. Not that he really minded. He enjoyed the scenery and the shortcut was his favorite trail to take, because it gave him more time with the sunset as he headed home.
He walked along the shoreline, the waves hitting his feet occasionally and he smiled to himself as he walked in the sunlight.
When he reached the rocky parts, he stopped for a second to look at the larger rocks in front of him before gripping his shoes tighter and he started to climb over the rocks. It wasn’t very steep and he had taken this path so many times, he knew where to put his feet and what places to avoid.
Among all the rocks was a small pond, Felix had seen it before as he took this path back to his apartment. There was a small passage with mostly sand but among the rocks, was a pond. This part of the beach sometimes got flooded when the tide rolled in, which was why it wasn’t a popular path to take. It was always a gamble if you’d be able to pass it or not.
The pond was shallow as the tide had pulled back and at first Felix let his eyes wander over the pond before he turned his attention back to the setting sun. But then he did a double take, looking back at the pond. His eyes widened as he realized what he was looking at.
There was a… merboy in the pond, his eyes wide and back pressed up against the rocky wall behind them. his gray eyes were fixed at Felix, hands fumbling around and splashing water around him as he tried to push back even further away from Felix.
“Uhm,” was all Felix could get out and the merboy looked, if possible, even more scared now. Holy shit he was standing in front of a merboy. What to do? What to say? Felix’s brain raced as he tried to think of something to say. Say something smart, Felix. “Hey?”
The merboy didn’t reply, he kept his eyes on Felix. He could see the three slits on each side of his ribcage, possibly gills, opening and closing with his rapid breathing. This was so weird and Felix looked around, his mind blank as it tried to figure out what was happening.
“Are you stuck?” he asked as his brain finally caught up with what was actually going on. There had been a high tide earlier today, so it would make sense if the merboy had been washed ashore and then stuck as the tide pulled back. “Do you need help?” he asked, this time trying to make his voice softer.
It took a few seconds but the merboy’s breathing slowly got calmer, more even and the fearful look in his eyes was replaced with a curious one. They still hadn’t said anything, but Felix figured that was better than nothing. As the merboy calmed down, Felix took the opportunity to look at them closer. He had an angular face, framed by thick, dark brown curls and his eyes were droopy, thick brows frowning at Felix. Around his eyes was a dusting of pearl white scales, reflecting the light of the setting sun. In the mess of, surprisingly, dry curls, was a crown of white seashells and red gems, a stark contrast to his dark hair. There were more scales, pearl white ones, on his shoulder and down his forearms.
Felix tried to remain civil and keep his eyes on the boy’s face, but his curiosity eventually got the better of him and he let his eyes fall on the tail. The base of the tail was sturdy, strong, the scales were pearl white before slowly fading into a deep, crimson red color. In contrast to the tail, the fins were delicate, an excessive amount of fin rays causing the wide, large fins to look ruffled.
“You’re beautiful,” Felix breathed before he could think. The merboy tilted his head, eyes blinking at Felix. They opened his mouth to say something before closing it again, probably deciding not to speak to Felix.
At this point, Felix wanted nothing more than for the ground to swallow him whole. Who does this? He was an idiot.
“Uhm, thank you?” the merboy finally said, snapping Felix out of whatever self wallowing he was stuck in. He snapped his head up, his cheeks burning and he blinked.
There was a pause and Felix groaned, slapping himself in the face as he facepalmed. He could interact with people, usually.
“I’m sorry,” he said as he dragged his hand down his face and the merboy tilted his head. “I’m- I’m just wondering if you need help to get back to the water,” he continued, his shoulders dropping. “I’m Felix?” he said.
Earth, can you please swallow me whole right now?
“You don’t sound sure about that,” the merboy pointed out, a smile stretching on his lips. “I’m Chan,” he added softly and Felix blinked, his mouth dry and his brain a mess as he struggled to figure out what to say now.
“Yes. I’m Felix,” he said and he immediately wanted to slap himself. Good job Felix. He cleared his throat, his ears and face heating up with embarrassment and he looked between the pond and the shore line. There was mostly sand leading down to the shore line, but at the edge of the water, there was a sharper, rocky shelf and a maybe 10 centimeters drop to the actual surface of the water.
“If you…” Chan began and Felix turned back to him, his cheeks still warm. Chan was chewing on his bottom lip, fingers fiddling nervously. “If you could help me back to the water, that would be really nice of you.”
“Oh,” Felix said, swallowing hard. “I suppose I could help,” he said, just staring at Chan. The setting sun was reflecting in his gray eyes, causing the dusting of scales in his face to gleam and glitter softly.
Jesus, Felix needed to calm down and collect his thoughts.
In an attempt to busy himself, he placed his bag and shoes to the side before taking a deep breath (and praying to God that Chan didn’t notice it) and stepped up to the pond. Chan had turned around, laying on his stomach in the shallow water with his tail fin splayed out and taking up most of the space in the pool. It was stunning and Felix, once again, found himself staring at the crimson red, ruffled fin as it moved in the water.
“Is it okay if I carry you?” he asked, tearing his eyes off the tail to meet Chan’s gaze. The fear was completely gone, replaced with utter fascination and curiosity. There was a pause as Chan eyed Felix from head to toe before he nodded.
“I guess there’s no other way,” he said and Felix nodded mutely, licking his lips nervously. He looked at Chan, then at his arms and then at the water. Okay, it wasn’t too far away, he could probably carry Chan back to the water.
It felt so damn odd, to step into a pond with a merperson and Felix’s brain blanked for the nth time as he tried to figure out how he should carry Chan. An arm over his shoulder and supporting Chan as they walked- No wait, Chan didn’t have legs. Over the shoulder? No that’s horrible, Felix you monster. Drag him along the ground? No that was even worse, Felix please. Bridal style? Bridal style it is.
“Are you sure this is okay?” Felix asked as Chan twisted around in the pool, facing Felix as he stood up.
“Yeah,” he said softly, his lips relaxed and slightly parted.
Felix could feel his heart speed up in his ribcage and he swallowed hard. He took a deep breath, crouching down to put an arm under Chan’s back and the joint on his fin where his knees would be.
“Is it still okay?” he asked and Chan nodded. Felix took another deep breath, bracing himself for everything and stood up, Chan in his arms. As soon as Felix stood up, Chan wrapped his arms around Felix’s neck to keep steady and Felix’s face felt even hotter.
As they made their way towards the water, Felix could feel his arms starting to tremble from the strain. It wasn’t that Chan was heavy, Felix was just kind of weak. He cursed himself in his head for not working out more.
“Are you okay?” Chan asked, shifting his gaze from the water to look at Felix. Felix nodded mutely, his lips pressed firmly together. “Am I too heavy?”
“No,” Felix managed to get out, voice a little strangled and he wanted to disappear. This was so embarrassing. What was he doing with his life? “It’s fine,” he continued as he reached the edge. Chan was looking at him, his eyes so pretty and curious and Felix could feel his cheeks burn.
Oh shit. He didn’t think about how to get Chan into the water. He couldn’t drop him, that was beyond rude.
“Uhm,” he said, intelligently so, and Chan tore his eyes off Felix to look down at the water. “I really don’t want to just… drop you.”
“Oh,” Chan said softly, furrowing his brows as he thought for a second. Oh no. Not only was he beautiful, he could be cute too. Felix was doomed . “If you crouch down and get me closer to the water surface, I can just… dive… you know?”
“Oh, sure,” Felix said, nodding before crouching down. He wasn’t sure how far he would be able to go before crumbling. Goddamn he should hit the gym after this.
Chan twisted a bit in his arms, letting go of Felix’s neck and for a second, Felix thought he was about to drop Chan but instead, the merboy dove into the water. Felix stood there for a second, trying to process everything that just happened as he stared at the water.
One. Merfolks are real and two, he’s crushing on one pretty damn hard.
His daze was broken by the splash of the water and he looked down to see Chan. The merboy was grinning, pushing some of his wet hair away from his forehead. In the water, the setting sun illuminating him from behind, he looked, if possible, even more beautiful and Felix stared, jaw slack.
“Can you crouch down?” Chan asked and Felix nodded dumbly, doing as he was asked. He crouched down by the edge, eyes fixed at Chan.
Chan swam a bit closer, his gray eyes so soft as he kept eye contact with Felix. He placed his hands on the rocky edge and suddenly heaved himself up. He pressed his cold, wet lips against Felix’s cheek and Felix’s whole body froze, locking in place and his eyes widened.
“Thank you for helping me,” Chan said as he dropped back into the water. Felix couldn’t say anything, he stared and Chan laughed. “You’re a funny one, Felix the human,” he continued. “Once again, thank you so much. I’m afraid I have to leave now before my father sends out a patrol for me.” With that, he sank below the surface of the water and turned around. The last thing Felix saw of him was the crimson tail catching the last rays of the sun before he disappeared into the depth of the ocean.
Felix sat there, stunned and his hand slowly came up to his cheek, the cheek Chan had placed a kiss upon, and his heart was racing in his chest. His cheek was burning under his hand and he felt even more embarrassed. He took a deep breath, his hand dropping and he turned around to get his shoes and bag.
Well… that happened.
The second Felix entered his apartment, he tossed his bag to the side and collapsed on the couch. God he really needed to start going to a gym or something. How was he even making it as a lifeguard? He laid on his back on his couch, staring up into the roof as he was thinking about what just happened.
He had met a merboy today. A real one. There was a whole world below the surface, one he had read about in stories as he was younger. They really existed.
“Pookie,” he whined, reaching for the purple, pink and blue bunny. He held it above him and stared into the black button eyes. “I met a merboy today and he was really handsome too.” He sighed, dropping Pookie down to hug it close to his chest. “I don’t know what to do now? Should I go see him again?”
The silence was heavy and Felix ran a hand through his hair.
“Maybe I should call Jisung,” he said, raising Pookie above him again to look at the bunny. “Should I text Jisung?” He paused. “I’ll take that as a yes.” He placed Pookie down on the couch again as he sat up. He got up and scurried back to his backpack, to get his phone.
He took a deep breath as he began to type, trying to organize his thoughts. He wasn’t sure what he should say to Jisung. Maybe leave out the whole merboy part, that might be a bit overwhelming. He frowned at the screen as he proofread the text message, making sure he didn’t say too much anywhere. He really didn’t want to accidentally expose the whole merfolk community, even though Jisung most likely wouldn’t react badly. He would probably just be excited to know about them.
Felix bit his lip and pressed send.
So. I helped a guy today and we ended up talking a bit, just a little and
he’s super handsome and seems really nice and I think I got a crush? Help?
The day after his very, very , odd encounter with the merboy, Felix took the same route back towards his apartment. He walked along the shore, waves hitting his feet every so often as he kept his eyes locked at the far horizon. The sky in the distance was colored pink and orange as the sun moved lower on the sky. It was beautiful, but he couldn’t really focus on it.
He was too busy thinking about the merboy he’d met the previous day. Chan. Felix’s whole body felt tingly just at the mention of his name. He didn’t understand why he wasn’t freaking out more about this whole ordeal.
As a kid, Felix had always been fascinated with the water and merfolks had been an interest of his. He kind of grew out of that as he got older, but he supposed that he never really stopped believing that merfolks existed. Maybe that was why he wasn’t as shocked as he probably should be.
He hadn’t noticed it, being so caught up in his own thought, but he had reached the small path among the rocks, leading from the water to the shallow pool of water. He blinked as he stared at Chan.
Hadn’t expected that one, to be honest.
The merboy seemed to have noticed him as he jumped down from the rock he was climbing over, landing in the soft sand with a thud. He turned away from the sunset, facing Felix and a wide smile stretched on his lips. He was wearing more jewelry today, earrings dangling, a necklace with a bright red gemstone in the center and a thicker gold chain with gems around his waist. His hair was still slightly damp, curls unruly and seemingly having their own life as they stuck in every direction possible.
He was still breathtakingly beautiful and yes Felix still had a crush.
“Felix!” he said, grinning widely and it made Felix’s chest feel weird. “I wasn’t sure I was going to see you again but I figured it was worth a try.”
“You wanted to…” Felix trailed off, licking his dry lips nervously as he took a step closer to Chan, “see me again?” he asked and Chan nodded, grin remaining on his lips. Felix took a careful step towards Chan, followed by another and he approached him slowly, eyes never leaving Chan.
“I wanted to thank you again,” Chan said, eyes bright and warm as he kept them fixed at Felix. “I had to leave in a rush yesterday and I- I just feel like I didn’t express my gratitude well enough.”
“Oh,” Felix said as he reached Chan. Chan craned his neck a little to look up at him and there was a pause as they stared at each other.
“You can sit down,” Chan said softly, patting the space beside him. Felix swallowed hard, his heart hammering in his chest as he sat down, mindful to leave some space between the two of them. He felt so awkward as he sat beside Chan, his legs submerged in water and Chan’s giant, deep red fin brushing against his legs even though he wasn’t sitting that close to Chan.
“Really,” Chan began, breaking the silence. “Thank you so much for yesterday,” he continued and Felix blinked, tilting his head.
“I’m just happy to help,” he said, shrugging as casually as he could. There was another pause, the awkwardness so thick in the air that one could almost cut it with a knife.
“You know,” Chan said and Felix looked up from his hands. “You’re the first human I’ve met… like this.”
“Really?” Felix asked, looking at Chan with wide eyes. Chan nodded, a lopsided grin stretched on his lips and as it did, Felix watched as the dimples deepened in his cheeks. Felix averted his eyes for a second, chewing on the inside of his cheek before looking back. “You looked scared of me.”
“There… Well,” Chan began, sheepishly rubbing the back of his nape. “I was a bit surprised. I didn’t expect a human to appear.”
“Oh,” Felix said softly and Chan hummed. “Do you-” Felix cut himself off, chewing on his bottom lip as he tried to figure out what he was going to say. “Do you usually avoid humans or..?”
“I mean,” Chan began, shrugging casually as he shifted his gaze to look over the ocean instead. Felix followed suit, eyes fixing at the horizon. The sun was still visible, the pink on the sky more intense now as the sun lowered itself. “It used to be more, but nowadays… we don’t actively avoid humans, with exceptions of course.”
“There’s not a whole… I don’t know,” Felix shrugged, cursing himself for even opening his mouth. He was an idiot. “I-I mean, in fiction when humans write about merpeople they… they make it sound like merfolk hates humans and hides from them,” he rambled, keeping his eyes at the ocean as it gleamed gold in the sunlight. His cheeks were probably bright pink by now and he just felt so dumb.
“Well,” Chan said, amusement clear in his voice and Felix’s cheeks grew even warmer. “I’d say that’s pretty inaccurate,” he continued and Felix finally dared to take his eyes off the water to meet Chan’s. “We do not hate humans, nor do we do anything in our power to hide. We’re aware that humans can be… tricky, hence is why we do not flaunt our existence.”
“Oh,” Felix said softly, his lips shaped like an ‘o’.
“I must say,” Chan continued and Felix blinked, tilting his head a little. His cheeks were still warm, his ears burning, but the embarrassment was starting to fade. A little. “I am intrigued with this thing called technology.”
“Like… phones and stuff?” Felix asked slowly. He knew what technology was he wasn’t that stupid. He was just a bit flabbergasted over the fact that Chan knew about it.
“Yes, uhm, my friend talked about it,” Chan said, averting his eyes a little and Felix nodded. Then he looked back, gray eyes gleaming with curiosity and excitement. There was another silence and Felix looked back at the sunset.
Chan didn’t say anything, he too turned back to the sunset. The silence in the air was somewhat peaceful, somewhat awkward and Felix twisted a little. This crush of his was getting beyond ridiculous. He had met Chan two times and he was crushing hard.
“I think I need to head back,” Chan said as the sun began to lower itself beyond the horizon and Felix turning to look at him, blinking. “Uhm-”
“Do you wanna meet again?” Felix blurted without thinking and the intense blush returned in a flash. He wanted to toss himself into the ocean, end this awful suffering. If he did toss himself into the ocean would Chan-
“Oh,” Chan said, thick lips shaped like an ‘o’ before stretching into a smile and he nodded. “I’d love to.”
I’d love to. Felix would be lying if he said his heart didn’t stutter in his chest as Chan said that. He nodded, his mouth dry, and Chan pushed himself off the edge, into the water. There was a slight glimmer on the surface from the last remaining rays of sun and the glimmer reflected on the dusting of scales on his cheekbones. Felix blinked, snapping himself out of his daze.
He really needed to stop.
“I’ll see you tomorrow then?” Chan asked, grinning widely. The water was so crystal clear that Felix could see Chan’s fin and he found himself utterly mesmerized by it. Chan’s fin, when still, looked ruffled and feather like, but as he was moving it back and forth, keeping himself afloat, it was flared out and displaying its full size. “Same time?” he asked.
“Yes,” Felix said, ears warm as he looked down on his own feet, kicking them awkwardly. “That sounds really good.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Chan said softly and Felix nodded again.
“I’ll see you,” he said, his heart doing a little backflip as Chan smiled at him again before he dove under the water. It didn’t take long until he disappeared from view, but Felix kept his gaze fixed at Chan as he swam away, eyes lingering on the darkening ocean as the sun disappeared behind the horizon.
The skype calling signal was playing softly from his computer as Felix was twisted up like a pretzel, legs crossed as he sat on the bed and upper body laying to the side to press his face into a pillow. The call signal stopped abruptly, followed by a rustle.
“Hi Felix,” Jisung beamed and Felix responded by groaning into the pillow. “What’s up, bud?” Jisung asked and Felix straightened his back, bringing the pillow with him to let it rest in his lap.
“Remember the guy I texted you about?” Felix asked, taking a deep breath and he ran his hand through his hair. He was getting really worked up about this whole thing. Jisung raised an eyebrow and brushed some of his blond hair out of his eyes.
“That handsome guy you helped?” Felix nodded. “I remember. How did you help him? You didn’t specify that in your text.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Felix said quickly, not wanting to talk about what Chan was. He needed to get all the words about his crush out. “I met him again today,” he continued, placing both his hands on his cheeks and squeezed them. “He’s so handsome and he’s so nice and easy to talk to.”
“Oh,” Jisung said softly before leaning closer to the webcam, wiggling his eyebrows. “Oh?” he continued and Felix swatted his hand weakly at the screen.
“I just-” he took a deep breath, hands dropping down to hit the pillow in his lap. “I usually never get crushes like this. Not this fast and not this… much? Does that make sense? It doesn’t, right? I don’t know what’s going on anymore but we agreed to see each other again, just as friends you know? I mean I guess just as friends? I-”
“I’m gonna stop you right here,” Jisung said, holding up a hand as he leaned back in his chair. There was a pause as he reached for a cup, taking a sip of whatever he was drinking. “One thing at the time. You have a crush,” he said and Felix nodded mutely, pressing his lips together in a thin line. “It’s okay to get a crush quickly and like… fall deep quickly? It’s not illegal or something so I don’t get why you’re so worked up about that.”
“No, shh,” Jisung said, shaking his head and Felix’s shoulders dropped. “You’re going to see him again? That’s great. Even if it’s just as friends, does that matter? You enjoy his company and that’s the most important thing, right?”
“Yeah,” Felix mumbled and Jisung beamed.
“I don’t see why you worry so much,” he continued and Felix grumbled, lowering his eyes to look at the pillow in his lap. “Just enjoy your time off university before you have to come back, hang out with the handsome guy,” Jisung shrugged and Felix nodded. He took a deep breath.
“He’s just so-” he began before letting out a groan, slapping himself in the face with the pillow. He could hear Jisung laugh and he whined. “He’s so nice to me and he makes me so nervous I don’t know how to act. He must think I’m stupid.”
“I bet he thinks you’re cute,” Jisung said and Felix dropped the pillow again. “Your hair is a bit tousled,” Jisung pointed out, lopsided grin on his face and Felix immediately raised a hand to start smoothening out his hair.
“Thank you,” Felix said and Jisung hummed, smile on his face.
“No problem,” he beamed. “Now, I was thinking of coming out to visit. Would that be okay?” he asked and Felix’s heart leaped in excitement. Jisung had never visited his little hometown.
“Yes!” he said, hugging the pillow to his chest. “Of course!”
“Oh great, because I’m looking at bus tickets now,” Jisung said and the two of them began to excitedly plan for a weekend when Jisung would visit. Felix felt happy, as the reassurance from Jisung helped a lot and he was so excited to show his best friend around his little hometown.
Chan and Felix had continued to meet up, mostly seeing each other for like an hour before or after Felix’s shift. They talked about casual things, how life was on land versus the sea. Felix found that Chan’s company was really pleasant and he enjoyed spending time with him, even if they didn’t do anything but talk about food or whatever. They had, however, kept their meetings limited to that small passage between the rocks. Until tonight as Chan had the day before suggested that they’d meet on the beach instead.
When Felix arrived to the spot at the beach, Chan was already there. For a second, Felix wondered how the hell Chan had managed to get up this far on the beach but that thought quickly vanished as he met Chan’s gaze.
Chan beamed the second he saw Felix and Felix’s heart sped up a little in his chest. Come on Felix, not now. Do not embarrass yourself. Calm down. The place was, like Chan had described it, close to the rocks but less shielded off than the little passage.
“Hi,” he greeted, placing his backpack on the ground before sitting down beside Chan. Chan was leaning back on his his hands, soft smile on his face and his jewelry reflected the silver light of the moon.
“Hello, Felix,” Chan said, smile so wide his eyes crinkled into small crescent moons. Felix could feel his face heat up. God why was he getting embarrassed? Felix smiled awkwardly, sitting down beside Chan. “How was your day?”
“Boring,” Felix said, laying down on his back to look over the stars. “Nothing really happened. I saved a little girl from a hole someone had dug in the sand,” he continued, his eyes wandering over the starry, dark sky above before he shifted to look at Chan. Chan was laying on his side, looking at Felix with soft, gray eyes. “How about you? How was your day?”
“Uneventful,” Chan said, rolling over to lay on his back and Felix turned his head to look Chan as they laid beside each other. “My classes were rather boring, to be honest.”
“Oh you… you study?” Felix asked, blinking at Chan who broke into a wide smile. Felix’s eyes flickered up to study the crown around Chan’s head, distracted by the way it was reflecting the light of the stars and the moon.
“Yes, I do,” Chan said softly and Felix snapped his eyes back to meet Chan’s, his heart fluttering a little as he did. “I’m preparing for… a job I guess,” he continued and Felix let out a soft ‘oh’. Chan smiled, turning his head up to look at the stars on the sky and Felix followed suit.
The sky was dark, not a single cloud obscuring the stars. Felix let his eyes wander over the constellations, the moon, everything. Something suddenly touched Felix’s hand and he jumped in surprise. He glanced down, only to see Chan wrapping his fingers around Felix’s. As he did, Felix realized just how slender Chan’s fingers were compared to Felix’s chubby ones.
“The stars looks like your freckles,” Chan said and Felix turned to look at him, his cheeks burning hot and eyes wide. He had no idea how to reply to this. “They’re really pretty. Your freckles.”
Pretty. Chan had called his freckles pretty. Felix bit his lip as the butterflies in his stomach went wild. He swallowed hard, trying to form a reply in his head.
“Thank you,” he whispered, not daring to raise his voice in case it would waver nervously. Chan only smiled, giving Felix’s hand a gentle squeeze before looking back at the stars. Felix kept his eyes on Chan, studying his face. The pale light illuminated his face, reflecting in his gray eyes and Felix couldn’t take his eyes off him.
Chan was beautiful and it never failed to stun Felix. Felix’s heart was beating hard against his ribcage. This crush was really getting to him. It didn’t help that Chan was also really kind and easy to talk to. It only made Felix fall further.
“Do I have something on my face?” Chan asked, turning his head again to meet Felix’s eyes and Felix flushed bright pink. Thank god it was so dark outside.
“N-no,” he stuttered, averting his eyes to the sky again. He could head Chan chuckle and Felix felt even more embarrassed.
They remained on the beach, looking at the stars together, hand in hand, for god knows how long. Felix kept stealing glances of Chan, being unable to stop himself. He caught Chan glancing at him every now and then and it made his heart race in his chest. He was going to die of a heart attack and it would be Chan’s fault.
“I should get going,” Chan said, breaking the silence. He moved to sit up and Felix followed. As he let his eyes wander over the sky, he could see the sun starting to rise on in the far east. “Wouldn’t want to cause a panic or something,” he continued, grin on his lips and Felix nodded, trying to push the disappointment away. He didn’t want to leave just yet but the sun was rising and soon, people would come to the beach and it was for the best.
“I guess I’ll…” he trailed off, standing up slowly. Chan kept his eyes on Felix, following as he stood up. “I’ll see you?” Felix said, feeling a bit nervous. “I mean if you want. We don’t have to, you kn-”
“I’d love to see you again,” Chan cut him off, voice soft, amused grin on his lips and Felix cleared his throat. “Later today or tomorrow?”
“I’m…” Felix bit his lip, eyes flickering around nervously. “I’m free later today,” he said and Chan beamed. “I’ll come by the cliffs then?”
“Sounds perfect,” Chan said before falling silent, averting his eyes and he frowned. Felix chewed on his bottom lip and Chan looked back at him, the sunrise reflecting in his eyes. Felix felt like his crush had really gotten out of hand. “Could you maybe… carry me back to the ocean?” Chan asked, eyes flickering between Felix and the ocean.
Felix looked at Chan, then at the ocean, then at his arms. He took a deep breath and he nodded. “I can do that,” he said and Chan’s smile returned. He shifted a little as Felix crouched down beside him. He placed his arms under the knee joint of Chan’s tail and under his back. “Ready?” he asked and Chan nodded, his smile and eyes soft and it made the butterflies in Felix’s stomach go crazy.
He stood up, repeating ‘use your legs, not your back’ in his head as he did. Chan wrapped his arms around Felix’s neck, leaning his forehead against Felix’s temple.
“Thank you,” he said as Felix began to make his way towards the ocean. The path to the shoreline was okay, but as he stepped into the water, the weight was starting to become too much for his weak arms. He really didn’t want to drop Chan where the water depth was just ten centimeters, he needed to get him to a deeper part. He took a deep breath, continuing to walk further out.
“Can I put you down here?” he asked as he stopped, water reaching to just under his knees. Chan glanced down, looking at the depth for a second before looking back at Felix.
“It’s perfect,” he said, loosening his grip of Felix’s neck. He placed his hand on Felix’s cheek, keeping his head still as he leaned closer to press a soft kiss on Felix’s cheek, his lips lingering for a moment longer than they had last time.
Felix prayed that Chan didn’t notice the way his breath hitched. He swallowed hard, trying to push down all the fuzzy feelings. Instead he focused on not dropping Chan. By now, his arms were trembling and he tried to crouch down a little. Chan twisted around in his arms, like last time and he somehow got into the water in a graceful way, despite Felix being a little too weak to carry him.
“Thank you,” Chan said again, turning around to lay on his back. “Really,” he continued but Felix shook his head, waving his hands.
“No it’s okay, I’m glad to help!” he protested and Chan hummed. His large tail fin brushed against Felix’s leg and Felix bit the inside of his cheek to not start giggling. He hadn’t reflected over how feathery Chan’s tail was, until now as it brushed against his skin.
“I’ll see you later then,” Chan said and Felix could see something in his eyes, but he wasn’t sure what it really was.
“I’ll see you later,” Felix said, holding the giggle but a smile stretched on his lips as Chan’s fin tickled his leg again. Chan began to move his tail in slow strokes, still laying on his back as he swam out towards the deeper ocean. “Bye,” Felix called after him, waving his hand.
“Bye Felix,” Chan said, waving his hand in the air before he turned around in the water, diving below the surface and so, Felix was left alone, standing in the water with the sun rising in front of him; the sky slowly brightening as the rays danced behind the horizon.
The water was still high and Felix was sitting on a rock above the water as it filled the small valley and the pond. Chan was floating in the pond, filling the space. Chan’s fins were huge, the white, sturdy tail paired with the large, flared tail fin and the two large fins on the side of his tail. Felix wasn’t sure how Chan managed to fit in the pond, considering it was quite small.
“Do you think you could show me around town?” Chan asked and Felix blinked, snapping out of his daze and he realized that he had been staring at Chan for god knows how long. Chan was laying on his back, staring at Felix with wide, warm eyes.
Curse this damn crush.
“What?” he said dumbly and Chan grinned. Felix could feel his cheeks heat up and he averted his eyes. He swallowed, cleared his throat and looked back at Chan. Chan had spun around so he was laying on his stomach instead, facing Felix directly. His eyes were still so warm it made Felix feel all tingly.
“I want to see the town,” Chan said, eyes flickering from Felix towards the path leading up back to town. “Would you show me around?”
“I-” Felix’s mouth suddenly felt dry, his heart hammering nervously in his chest and he licked his lips. “I could do that,” he said, clearing his throat again. The smile on Chan’s lips stretched even wider and his eyes crinkled into thin crescent moons. Felix almost got distracted by it, but he blinked as he remembered what he had been meaning to ask Chan. “But how- do- I mean-” He sighed. Nice work Felix. “Can you get legs?”
“I can,” Chan replied simply, amusement clear in his voice and Felix’s cheeks burned even hotter.
“Just like that?” he managed to get out, voice a little strained. Chan nodded, still smiling widely. “Then why-” Felix frowned. “Then why have I been carrying you?” he asked, narrowing his eyes. Chan laughed, the sound so clear and bright it made it really hard for Felix to keep glaring at him.
“The first time was on me,” Chan began, shifting a little in the crystal clear water. “I didn’t have my necklace,” he said, his hand coming up to touch the thin golden chain with the ruby around his neck. “The second time…” he trailed off, averting his eyes and a fond smile stretched his lips. Keep it together Felix, you can do this. “I guess I just wanted you to carry me.”
“Have you seen my arms?” Felix asked, whine evident in his voice as he held out his arm. “They’re sticks! I’m weak , Chan!” he continued and Chan laughed. Ignoring the warm blush on his face and the way his heart was racing in his chest, Felix huffed, pouted and crossed his arms, looking away from Chan.
“You’re very cute,” Chan said and Felix snapped his head back to stare at him. “Especially when you pout.”
Felix grumbled, hiding his face in his hands in an attempt to hide his red cheeks. Chan laughed again and there was a splash from the water and when Felix removed his hands, Chan had moved to sit on the side of the small pool, on the opposite side from Felix.
“When do you want me to show you around?” Felix asked, trying to change subject.
“Tomorrow? If that’s okay?”
“I have morning shift tomorrow but uhm, after that?” Felix said and Chan nodded, smiling widely. “I’ll… uh, meet you here?”
“I could just wait for you at the beach,” Chan said and Felix blinked.
“You know where I work?” he asked and Chan nodded, warm smile on his lips. Felix decided not to ask how and why, he just accepted it.
Like he said, Chan was waiting for Felix as he stepped outside the changing room. He wasn’t wearing a crown, all traces of scales gone except the small patch on his right collarbone and upper left arm. They were small, barely noticeable had it not been for the way they reflected the light as they peeked out under his white T-shirt. His eyes were still gray and still held that general softness and curious gleam.
He looked so oddly human, in skinny black jeans and a simple white T-shirt. He wasn’t wearing that overly extravagant jewelry, only the thin golden chain with the red gem, and instead of the dangling earrings, he was wearing simple silver rings.
Felix looked down at himself. He was wearing a white T-shirt, just like Chan, the blue swimming trunks from his uniform and a jeans shirt tied around his waist. He looked back at Chan.
“I’m feeling very underdressed,” he said without even thinking and when Chan began to laugh, he wanted to dig a hole and hide. “Uhm,” he said, intelligently so, and looked around nervously, trying to avoid meeting Chan’s gaze. He could see Eric, a colleague, eyeing the two of them, an eyebrow raised and a curious look in his eye.
Oh god he was never going to live this down.
“I don’t think you look underdressed,” Chan said simply, warm smile on his lips and Felix swallowed hard.
“We should go,” he said, clearing his throat as he gently grabbed Chan’s wrist, tugging him along as they left the beach.
“You seem stressed,” Chan pointed out, clearly amused as Felix continued to pull him away from the beach. Felix shook his head, his cheeks warm and embarrassment bubbling inside. He wasn’t sure why he felt embarrassed. Maybe because he got so flustered that Eric saw the two of them together. Maybe because his crush was so damn obvious.
Keep it together Felix.
When they got up on solid ground, he let go and looked around, making sure none of his colleagues could see them. Chan, thank god, didn’t say anything about Felix’s red cheeks, but instead looked around, still holding onto Felix’s hand.
“So,” Felix began, clearing his throat. He loosened his grip of Chan’s hand, but Chan didn’t let go of his hand. Warmth bloomed in Felix’s chest as Chan turned his gaze to meet Felix’s eyes. “Ice cream?” he asked, trying his very best to keep his voice as stable as possible. Chan’s whole face lit up as he smiled and Felix’s heart stuttered.
“Yes!” he said eagerly, tightening his grip of Felix’s hand. “Lead the way!”
Felix nodded, swallowing hard and he tried to ignore the embarrassment burning on his face. Still holding onto Chan’s hand, Felix began to walk towards the ice cream shop. Along the way, he found himself relaxing a little, opening up and he began to tell Chan about the town, pointing out buildings to him.
“This is my favorite ice cream shop,” he said as they stepped inside the ice cream shop. The bell at the door chimed and the guy behind the register, Changbin, looked up. He looked tired, eyes droopy, and bored but the moment Felix stepped inside, his face lit up in a bright smile.
“Felix,” he greeted as Felix and Chan stepped up to the register. Felix had been here a lot before, considering it was in fact his favorite store, and Changbin worked the summers here and had been for the past two years so the two of them had gotten somewhat familiar.
“Hi Changbin,” Felix said as they stopped in front of the display with all the ice cream. Chan’s eyes were immediately glued at the ice cream, wide and curious. “This is Chan,” he said before Changbin could ask, and possibly embarrass him, and Chan tore his eyes off the ice cream to meet Changbin’s gaze.
“Hi,” he said, sheepish grin stretching his lips and Changbin returned the smile, his eyes flickering down to Felix and Chan’s intertwined hands. “I’m Chan. It’s nice to meet you.”
“I’m Changbin,” Changbin said slowly, shifting his gaze to give Felix a short, knowing look before returning to look at Chan. “It’s nice to meet you too.”
“What flavor do you want?” Felix asked, not giving Changbin any time to embarrass him. Chan turned back to the display, eyes scanning all the small signs in front of the ice cream. Felix kept his eyes on Chan, watching his expression as he read. He was cute, as he mouthed the words he just read and a small frown made its way up on his face and Felix bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from breaking out into a wide smile. At this point, his heart was racing in his chest and Felix was sure that Chan could feel the way his heart pounded, just by holding his hand.
“How many scoops can I pick?” Chan asked, turning to look at Felix with wide eyes. He looked starstruck and he looked so cute. How was this fair? How was he allowed to be both handsome and cute?
“I think two or three would be enough,” Felix said, biting his bottom lip and he looked over the ice cream in the display before looking back up at Chan, a smile blooming on his lips. “Let’s start small and pick more scoops next time,” he said and Changbin seemed to be unable to hold back the snort. Felix snapped his head to the side, eyes wide. He had completely forgotten that Changbin was still here.
“What do you want, Chan?” Changbin asked, a smug grin on his lips and Felix wanted to sink through the floor. Chan turned back to the display, eyes darting over the different flavors and Changbin laughed. “I’ll give you more time. Felix, what do you want?”
“I’ll have a lemon pie and a candy floss,” Felix grumbled, his face warm and he did his best to avoid eye contact with Changbin. Changbin hummed, reaching for a cone and the ice cream scoop. As Chan decided what flavors to pick, Changbin quickly assembled Felix’s ice cream and placed it on the desk.
“I’ll have…” Chan trailed off, rubbing the back of his neck and his gaze flickered between the display and Changbin. “I’ll have a vanilla, a hazelnut and an oreo.”
Changbin hummed again and began to prepare Chan’s ice cream. As he did, Felix tugged Chan a bit closer.
“Do you know any of those flavors?” he asked, whispering in Chan’s ear so no one else would hear them. Chan beamed, shaking his head.
“I don’t,” he murmured as he pulled back. “They look good though,” he continued and Felix hummed, nodding his head.
“I’ll just… pay…” he said slowly, pulling back his hand from Chan’s grasp, much to his own dismay. Changbin was still looking as smug as ever as Felix paid for the ice creams and when he gave Felix his change back, he leaned a bit closer. Felix blinked, confused.
“Good luck on your date,” he whispered and Felix’s face immediately flamed up. He grumbled something under his breath and Changbin grinned as Felix took his and Chan’s ice cream, leading him out of the ice cream shop.
“He was really nice,” Chan said as they stepped outside the shop, taking his ice cream cone from Felix. Felix hummed, licking his ice cream before it started to melt in the warm sun. Chan stared at him and he looked between Felix and his own ice cream.
“You should start eating before it melts,” Felix said and Chan widened his eyes. Felix bit the inside of his cheek, trying to not smile but he failed. Terribly so. Then he widened his eyes as Chan took a huge bite of the ice cream. “I-”
“It’s good!” Chan said, eyes sparkling as he turned to look at Felix. Felix stared. He wanted to find Chan adorable, the way his eyes were twinkling with excitement, the wide grin on his face and the slight stain of ice cream on his lips; but he was too busy being horrified at Chan biting into his ice cream.
“Uhm, that’s great,” Felix said slowly, eyes flickering between Chan and Chan’s ice cream cone. “Don’t eat that too quickly though,” he continued, feeling like his soul got stabbed as Chan bit into the ice cream again.
“Why?” he asked, blinking. God life was unfair, huh? Some higher power really wanted Felix to die of a heart attack. He bit into the ice cream again and a part of Felix’s soul died.
“You’re going to-” he cut himself off and Chan suddenly squeezed his eyes shut, wincing, “-get a brain freeze yeah,” he said and Chan let out a strangled sound. Felix watched as Chan’s face slowly relaxed and he blinked, staring at Felix with wide eyes.
“What was that?” he asked, turning to stare at the ice cream. Before Felix could reply, Chan bit into his ice cream again and Felix facepalmed.
“I give up,” he declared, a fond smile somehow making its way up on his face as Chan continued to eat his ice cream. Felix turned back to his ice cream, deciding to enjoy the ice cream, the warm sun and Chan’s company.
“Where’s loverboy?” Jisung asked the second he stepped off the bus and Felix slapped his face, facepalming.
“Get on the bus again,” he said, dragging his hand down his face and Jisung beamed. “I don’t want you anymore. Leave,” he continued, no bite in his words and he opened his arms as Jisung approached. He dropped his duffel bag and threw his arms around Felix, hugging him.
“I’m glad to finally come visiting,” Jisung beamed as he pulled back, looking around the bus terminal. “I can’t believe we’ve been friends for two years but I’ve never visited.”
“It’s a small town,” Felix pointed out, crossing his arms over his chest and he raised an eyebrow. Jisung turned back to look at him, grin still on his lips and he slapped Felix’ shoulder playfully.
“It’s still your hometown,” he said and Felix shrugged, small smile on his lips.
“Still a small town,” he said, spinning around. “Come on, let’s drop your things off at my apartment before we go to the beach,” he continued, gesturing for Jisung to follow him. Jisung picked up his bag before joining Felix.
Felix had known Jisung for over 2 years and he was, despite what he said, really happy to finally get to show Jisung around his hometown. As they headed back for his apartment, Felix made sure to point everything that could make this little, boring town at least a bit entertaining.
The sun was glaring down at them as Felix dropped his bag on the sand. It was a bit windy too and Felix straightened his back, shielding his eyes from the sun as he looked over the clear blue ocean. The waves seemed to be decent enough if he wanted to surf. He wasn’t sure if he should go or not, considering Jisung couldn’t surf and he didn’t really want to leave Jisung alone.
“Do you wanna go for a swim or…” he trailed off as he tore his eyes off the ocean to look back at Jisung. Jisung was as if frozen on spot, his gaze fixed as something and Felix frowned. He followed Jisung’s line of sight and he had to bite the inside of his cheek to not laugh. He cleared his throat, causing Jisung to jump in surprise.
“What?” Jisung asked, tips of his ears turning red in embarrassment and Felix grinned.
“Seeing anyone who catches your eye, eh?” he asked, adding an over exaggerated wink. Jisung’s eyes widened and Felix wiggled his eyes as he tried to regain his composure.
“No,” he said, voice wavering just the slightest and he averted his eyes. “Not really,” he continued, clearing his throat. For a second, there was a silence and Felix watched intently as Jisung’s gaze wandered back to where he had previously been looking.
“That’s Hyunjin,” Felix said nonchalantly, turning back to his bag and he crouched down to pull out a towel. Jisung snapped his head back to stare at him and Felix looked up to meet his eyes.
“Hyunjin?” he asked and Felix nodded, smug grin on his lips as he spread out his towel on the sand. Jisung was silent for a moment, reaching for his own towel to spread it out on the sand. He sat down beside Felix, leaning back on his hands. “Is he nice?” he finally asked and Felix, who was leaning back on his hands, eyes closed and face turned towards the sun, cracked an eye open and he turned his head a little, the smug grin making its way back to his lips.
“He’s pretty nice, yeah,” he said, shrugging and Jisung hummed. “I mean… I haven’t talked to him a lot, but we’ve spoken once or twice,” he continued, shifting his gaze to look at Hyunjin.
Hyunjin worked at the parasol rental, not the most glamorous of jobs and even from this distance, Felix could see how extremely bored Hyunjin was. He was sitting under a parasol, leaning his chin on his hand as he stared blankly into thin air.
“He’s handsome,” Jisung blurted and Felix snorted. Jisung’s cheek flamed red and he immediately hid his face in his hands. “God I need to stop talking before I think,” he groaned and Felix bit his lip. This reminded him a lot of his and Chan’s first meeting where Felix had been an embarrassing mess.
“At least you said it to me and not Hyunjin,” he pointed out and Jisung hummed, slowly removing his hands to look back at Felix. Felix looked Jisung for a second before standing up. Jisung tilted his head as Felix stood up, raising an eyebrow. “Come on,” he said and Jisung frowned at him but even so, he stood up.
“What are we-” Jisung didn’t have enough time to finish his sentence before Felix grabbed his hand, pulling him along. “Felix, what-”
“Hyunjin looks like he could use some entertainment,” he said, dragging Jisung across the beach. Jisung was protesting loudly, saying something in the likes of ‘I’m going to embarrass myself’ but he didn’t fight Felix’s grasp. “Hey, Hyunjin,” Felix said as they reached the parasol rental and Hyunjin blinked, snapping out of his daze and Felix grinned toothily at him.
“Oh, Felix,” Hyunjin said, furrowing his brows ever so slightly as he looked Felix over before shifting his gaze to look at Jisung. “Hi,” he said, snapping his eyes back to look at Felix, standing up slowly. “What-” He licked his lips and his adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. Jisung’s breath hitched. “What’s the occasion?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“You looked awfully bored,” Felix said and Hyunjin hummed, nodding his head as his eyes slowly wandered over to Jisung. “This is my friend from university, he’s visiting over the weekend,” he continued, tugging at Jisung’s hand a little to get Jisung to take a step forward before letting go of Jisung’s hand.
“Hi,” he said, voice a little strained and Felix bit the inside of his cheek, trying his best to not smile. “I’m Jisung.”
“Hyunjin,” Hyunjin said, holding out his hand and a soft smile stretched on his lips. Jisung shook Hyunjin’s hand and when Felix glanced at him, his face was slowly getting pinker. “So you’re from the city then?”
“Ah, yeah,” Jisung said, clearing his throat, eyes flickering around nervously. “You? You’re from here?” he asked but Hyunjin shook his head.
“I’m from another small town,” he began and Jisung nodded. “But my grandparents lives here so I’m staying with them over the summers.”
“I see,” Jisung said and Felix slowly zoned out of the conversation, eyes drifting back to look at the water. He was happy that Jisung finally came to visit, but he felt a little tug at his heart when he thought of Chan.
Come on Felix, it’s been one day. You’re ridiculous.
He continued to stare at the ocean, his heart slowly picking up speed in his chest. He had told Chan he wouldn’t be able to meet him for a few days and Chan had told him it was fine, he’d show him something special when they met up again and Felix was really excited for that.
But first, he had to bring Jisung all around town to show him whatever Felix’s small little hometown had to offer.
“You won’t let me drown, right?” Felix asked as he sat on the edge to the water, wearing only swimming trunks and his goggles on his head. Chan was floating on his back, scales and jewelry gleaming in the bright sunlight, but at Felix’s question he snapped his head up and turned around to look at him.
“Of course I won’t,” Chan promised, swimming over to Felix. He brushed his fingers over Felix’s leg and Felix pretended that it didn’t make him feel something . “You can swim, right?”
“I’m a lifeguard,” Felix said, rolling his eyes and Chan grinned sheepishly at him. “And a surfer. Of course I can swim. I just worry you might bring me to some seriously deep spots and I’ll end up drowning,” he continued and Chan snorted, his hand still lingering at Felix’s leg.
“I won’t,” he repeated and Felix nodded, pulling the goggles down over his eyes before pushing himself off the edge and into the water. Chan smiled, immediately reaching to take his hand and Felix’s heart leaped.
“Your hands are so small,” Chan noted and Felix’s face flushed. “They’re so small and soft.” He brushed his thumb over Felix’s skin and as he did, Felix could see the small scales on the top on Chan’s hand, reflecting the light of the sun. “Come,” he continued, tugging at Felix’s hand to pull him along.
They swam close to the surface, to give Felix the chance to breathe. Chan held Felix close as they swam and Felix could feel Chan’s tail move. It was odd. He had seen it, and brushed his fingers over the scales once or twice, but feeling it move was something else. It made sense, for the tail of a merman being strong, but Felix hadn’t expected it to be this strong. He held onto Chan, not wanting to lose his grip of him.
“You okay?” Chan asked, slowing down and when Felix nodded, he broke into a wide smile. “Good,” he continued, giving Felix’s hand a squeeze. Felix’s heart stuttered and he cursed himself. He was going to make himself have a heart attack. “We’re here,” Chan whispered, dipping his head below the surface. He was still holding onto Felix’s hand.
Felix took a deep breath before lowering himself into the water. At first he came face to face with Chan, the jewels in his crown reflecting the sunlight filtering through the water and the smile on his lips was bright enough to rival the sunlight. Felix almost lost his breath, but he remembered that he was underwater.
“Look,” Chan said softly, moving a little in the water to spin Felix’s around and Felix’s eyes fell on the reef. He almost lost his breath for the second time. He was going to end up drowning because he forgot that he could not breathe underwater.
The reef below them was stunning, corals placed in highs and lows, branching out and sea anemones swaying calmly along with the currents. The colors were all so bright, shifting between pink, orange, green, blue and all the colors. It was so overwhelming to see it.
Felix had gone snorkeling around reefs before, but there was something special about this. He wanted to stay, to never take his eyes off the reef but he could feel his lungs asking for air and he went up to the surface, taking a deep breath as he was above the water.
“It’s beautiful,” he breathed when Chan appeared above the surface. Chan was still holding onto his hand, thumb brushing over Felix’s skin.
“I’m glad you like it,” Chan whispered, just barely audible and Felix beamed, taking another deep breath to dive back into the water.
As he came below the surface this time, he could see all the life around the area. Angelfish, clownfish, butterflyfish and gobies were swimming around, in and out of crevices, twisting and turning. They brought the already colorful background even more color and life. It felt like Felix was staring at a painting. He could stare at it for hours. He felt happy here, watching the marine life in peace while holding Chan’s hand.
He didn’t want to leave.
Felix was laying on his back, eyes fixed at the moving cloud above them. He was laying just so his knees bent by the edge to the water, his calves and feet submerged in the cool water. Chan was laying beside him and he could feel the tail fin tickle his leg every now and then as it moved lazily along with the current.
Suddenly Chan entered his vision and Felix locked eyes with him, blinking confused. Chan didn’t say anything, he smiled at Felix and reached out a hand to brush his finger over Felix’s brow. Felix held eye contact with Chan, suddenly aware of the way Chan’s tail brushed against his leg and he felt his cheeks heat up.
“Why does your cheek turn pink sometimes?” Chan asked and Felix widened his eyes, embarrassment burning even hotter on his cheeks.
“I-I-“ he cleared his throat, averting his eyes to look at the clouds again. Chan was still tracing patterns in his face, his scales scratching against Felix’s skin. “You don’t blush?”
“What’s that?” Chan asked and Felix looked back at him. Chan tilted his head, his thumb resting on Felix’s cheekbone.
“It’s just your blood rushing to your face,” Felix said, swallowing hard as Chan ran his finger just under Felix’s bottom lip.
“Why does it do that?”
“Uhm… it does… Uhm, it does that when you’re embarrassed,” Felix finally said and Chan hummed. In the bright sunlight, all the jewelry Chan was wearing was gleaming as he moved his head slightly.
“Why are you embarrassed?” Chan leaned down, closer to Felix and Felix’s breath hitched. His heart stuttered as Chan placed his other hand on Felix’s chest, the other still resting on Felix’s cheek. “Your heart is beating very fast,” he noted and Felix sputtered, face growing even hotter.
“You’re making me a bit nervous,” he admitted and Chan smiled, leaning a bit closer. His gray eyes were locked with Felix’s.
Felix could feel Chan’s breath on his lips and he swallowed hard. His heart stopped for a second when Chan placed his lips on Felix’s. His body froze and his eyes widened. Chan pulled back, the mischievous glint in his eyes gone and replaced with a serious look.
“Is this okay?” he asked, voice barely a whisper and his breath still fanned over Felix’s lips. Felix’s heart was racing in his chest and it felt like it could break through his ribcage at any second now.
“Yes,” Felix whispered, his hand coming up to weakly grasp Chan’s arm. Chan smiled, the serious look washing away and the look in his eyes became so soft it almost hurt Felix. “Kiss me again,” he continued, blood rushing in his ears and Chan hummed, brushing his fingers over Felix’s collarbone, leaving a warm and tingling sensation in their wake. He leaned down, and this time Felix craned his neck a little to meet Chan’s lips. He tightened his grip of Chan’s arm and he could feel Chan hum against his lips.
“You’re cute, Felix the human,” Chan said and Felix let out a strangled cry as Chan kissed him again. Chan smiled against his lips, still kissing Felix. Felix moved one of his hands to rest it on the back of Chan’s head, tugging him a bit closer.
“You’re so-“ he began but got cut off by Chan’s lips. “You’re so handsome,” he whispered as they parted again and Chan chuckled, nuzzling his nose against Felix’s. “How are you so perfect?”
Chan laughed, bright and clear and Felix’s heart stuttered again.
“I’m not, but I try my best,” he said, wide smile on his lips. God he looked perfect. Curse him and his perfect face. Felix grumbled, his face growing warm and he kissed Chan again, ignoring Chan’s cooing about how cute he was.
“I’m sorry it’s a bit messy,” Felix excused himself as he pushed the door to his apartment open. He stepped inside and Chan trailed behind. He felt nervous, as this was the first time Chan would see his apartment.
It was a small one bedroom apartment, with a pretty small kitchen but a decent sized living room. The kitchen was right ahead when you entered the apartment, living room and bedroom to the left while the bathroom and a small storage room was located to the right.
“It doesn’t look that messy,” Chan said softly as he took off his shoes and stepped inside. Felix took his hand and tugged him into the living room. “It looks really…” he stopped for a second and Felix bit his lip. “Cozy,” he finished and Felix snorted. “I mean I haven’t been over to a human’s house before but-”
He didn’t get to finish before Felix pressed him against the wall, hands cradling his face and he kissed him. Chan laughed against his lips, his hands finding their way to Felix’s waist to pull him closer.
“I thought we were going to…” Chan murmured as they parted, trailing off and he furrowed his brows. Felix hummed, giving him time to think as he brushed a finger over Chan’s thick eyebrow. “What did you call it… Watch a movie?” he asked and Felix nodded, kissing him again.
“Correct,” he whispered against Chan’s lips. “But I-” he swallowed, feeling a bit nervous but also a bit brave. “I like kissing you.”
“You’re cheeky,” Chan said, kissing Felix again as Felix ran his hand down Chan’s arm, lacing their fingers together. Chan hummed against Felix’s lips as Felix began to tug Chan towards his couch.
“I picked a movie already, I hope that’s okay,” Felix murmured, his lips still brushing over Chan’s. Chan hummed again, pressing a short kiss on Felix’s lips before pulling back. “I picked Moana, have you seen it?”
There was a pause and Chan raised an eyebrow, looking at Felix with an amused grin on his lips. Oh, right. Chan had like, never been on land for longer stretches of time.
“Oh,” Felix said, averting his eyes in embarrassment. “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry,” Chan said, voice laced with humor as he placed a hand on Felix’s chin, tilting his head up to meet Chan’s eyes. “I will trust you on the movie choice.”
“You’re not going to regret this,” Felix beamed, kissing Chan’s nose before letting go of Chan’s hand. “Sit down and I’ll get the movie going,” he said and Chan nodded, wide smile on his lips and it made Felix’s heart flutter. He turned around, shuffling over to the TV to start the movie.
When he turned back to the couch, he could see Chan sitting in the couch with two plushies in his hands.
“What are these?” Chan asked, taking his eyes off the stuffed animals. Felix cleared his throat as he went back to sit down beside Chan.
“It’s… plushies… stuffed animals,” he said and Chan frowned. “Like toys,” he clarified and Chan let out a soft ‘oh’, looking back at the animals. “This is Pookie,” Felix continued, pointing at the round, cotton candy pink, purple and blue colored bunny. “And this is Sol.” He pointed at the cupcake Chan was holding. “I got Pookie from my mom when I was… when I was 15 and came out. She gave Pookie to me the week after because I had been so brave and dared to tell her.”
“Yeah I,” Felix bit his lip, petting Pookie’s fur, “I told her I liked boys.” Chan tilted his head, frown on his face and Felix could feel a smile stretch on his lips. “Do you have a norm that a couple should be a girl and a boy?”
“Absolutely not,” Chan said, still frowning. “We do not differentiate. Do humans?” he asked, looking confused and Felix sighed, shrugging.
“Some do,” he said, looking back down at Pookie. “My mom didn’t, thankfully.”
“Did you think she would?”
“I don’t really know. I was 15 and scared,” Felix said. Chan placed a hand on Felix’s head, tangling his fingers in Felix’s hair.
There was a pause before Chan held up the cupcake. “What about this one?”
“What about Sol?” Chan asked, petting the cupcake gently. “When did you get them?”
“I got Sol at an arcade!” Felix said, excitement buzzing in his body just at the memory of that day. “I went to an arcade in the city with Jisung last year and won Sol in a claw machine.”
“Oh, sorry,” Felix said, grinning sheepishly, letting go of Pookie with one hand to rub the back of his head. “I’ll bring you to an arcade some day! There’s one in town and they have a claw machine.”
“Claw machine sounds dangerous,” Chan said suspiciously and Felix bit the inside of his cheek to hold back a giggle.
“It does sound dangerous, but I promise it’s not,” he said, grinning widely at Chan. “It’s super fun! Even though I’m not very good at the claw machine. I was just lucky when I won Sol.”
“I’m not fully convinced,” Chan said slowly and Felix laughed, hugging Pookie to his chest as he leaned against Chan’s arm. “But I’ll trust you on this one.”
“We’ll have lots of fun,” Felix said, reaching for the remote and he kept leaning against Chan. The movie was still paused at the beginning. “Let’s start the movie, shall we?” he asked, glancing up at Chan.
“I’m not exactly sure what is going to happen but yes?” he said, eyebrows raised.
“I’m sorry I overwhelmed you with so much human stuff today,” Felix said, grin still present on his lips. Chan laughed, moving his arm to wrap it around Felix instead, allowing Felix to lean into his side instead of on his arm.
“It’s okay,” Chan murmured, brushing his thumb over Felix’s arm. “You can make it up with ice cream later.”
Felix bit back a snort, his eyes fixed at the screen as the movie begun. “I suppose I could do that.”
“So you’re telling me it’s ice cream…” Chan began, eyes narrowed as he looked closer at the mug in his hand, “but you can drink it?”
“Yes!” Felix said, leaning back in his chair. It was only the two of them (and Changbin) in the ice cream shop. Changbin was busying himself with closing down and Felix reached out to take Chan’s hand, slowly pulling him towards the door. “It’s milkshake. I promise you’ll like it,” he continued and Chan hummed, still eyeing the mug suspiciously. “Bye Changbin! Have a good night!” Felix called over his shoulder as they exited the store.
“Have fun you two!” Changbin called back before the door closed behind them and Felix shook his head.
The summer night’s air was warm, the breeze gentle as they walked along the broadwalk, hand in in hand. Felix took a sip of his smoothie, glancing over at Chan and a wide smile stretched his lips. Chan was looking between Felix and the mug in his hand before slowly taking a sip from his milkshake. Felix watched his expression intently as it went from sceptical to lighting up like a light bulb.
“It tastes like ice cream!” he exclaimed and Felix laughed. He tightened his grip of Chan’s hand, tugging at it to pull him in for a kiss. “It’s really good,” Chan continued when they parted.
“It’s sweet,” Felix agreed and Chan went back to drink his milkshake. “Please be careful. I don’t want you to get another brain freeze.”
“I won’t,” Chan assured but Felix wasn’t convinced. As they continued to walk, Felix kept his eyes on Chan’s face.
“Please you’re gonna-” he cut himself off when Chan let go of the straw, screwing his eyes shut. “Get a brain freeze again, yeah.”
“Why does it do this?” Chan asked, frowning at the mug. “It tastes so good,” he continued, glancing up at Felix for a second before going back to his milkshake, drinking it. Felix rolled his eyes, because he knew what was to come.
“Please don’t do that,” he said but to no avail, Chan continued to drink his milkshake. He snorted, unable to hold back his laughter as Chan got another brain freeze, his eyes squeezed shut and he pulled away from the mug. “I told you so,” he cooed, pulling at Chan’s hand as he leaned closer to kiss Chan’s cheek.
“But it’s so good,” Chan whined and Felix laughed again, leaning his head on Chan’s shoulder for a second as they continued down the broadwalk. “I like ice cream but I’m not a fan of brain freezes.”
“That’s why you need to slow down,” Felix said and Chan laughed, squeezing Felix’s hand. “I used to eat my ice cream really quickly when I was a child. I always got brain freezes,” he said fondly as he recalled the memory.
Chan hummed in reply and they walked for a while in silence before he spoke. “Thank you.”
“Hm?” Felix turned to look at him, brows furrowed. He tilted his head as Chan took his eyes off their surroundings to meet Felix’s. “What for?”
“I don’t know,” Chan murmured, taking a deep but happy sigh as he looked over the ocean on their left, the boardwalk in front of them and town on their right. “For showing me this world.”
“I-” Felix cut himself off, unsure of what he should say. He bit his lip, trying to hold back the smile on his lips as warmth bloomed in his chest. “I’m glad to share it with you,” he said after a moment of silence and Chan grinned.
They didn’t say anything else, they walked down the road with the waves rolling in peacefully beside them and their fingers intertwined.
The sun was barely grazing the horizon, the hour so early that both Chan and Felix were certain that no one else would be out. They had dared to move from their secluded spot to a more open part of the beach, but still obscured by rocks and cliffs, to provide them some privacy.
Chan was laying on his back, relaxed as Felix laid beside him, on his side with his gaze fixed at Chan. His breathing was calm, eyes soft as he kept them focused on Felix. Felix was tracing patterns on Chan’s bare chest, fingers brushing over the jewelry around his neck.
Felix let his eyes linger at the necklace, tilting his head slightly in curiosity. It looked like there was something moving inside the gem, but he was pretty sure that it was just the light and his mind playing tricks on him. He took his eyes off the necklace to meet Chan’s gaze again. Happiness bubbled in his chest the second he looked at Chan, butterflies fluttering in his stomach and he felt all mushy.
He couldn’t hold himself back and leaned down to press his lips against Chan’s, hand moving from Chan’s chest to cradle his cheek. Chan smiled into the kiss, sending a buzz of happiness through Felix’s body and Felix couldn’t hold back the smile.
“You’re cute,” Chan said softly and Felix’s cheeks heated up. As Chan rested the back of his hand against Felix’s warm cheek, Felix shifted his attention to the seashell crown. He ran his fingers over the three, slim and dark brown terebridae shells, the two chamidaes that had been placed on each side of the center terebridae. The dark pearls and gems were smooth under his fingertips.
“Why do you wear a crown?” he asked, shifting his attention from the crown to look at Chan with curious eyes. Chan was staring at him, an eyebrow raised. Felix tilted his head slightly. “What?”
There was a pause as Chan studied his face, gray eyes looking through his very soul and then Chan smiled softly, shaking his head.
“You haven’t figured it out, have you?”
“Figured what out?” Felix asked, only to receive a chuckle from Chan. Okay, he was lost. He blinked, furrowing his brows ever so slightly. “Tell me!” he whined, lightly slapping Chan’s chest. Chan chuckled again, turning his hand so that his palm was pressed against Felix’s cheek and he gently guided Felix closer.
“Why do you think I’m wearing a crown?” he asked as Felix’s lips were only centimeters away from his. Felix exhaled, his breath a bit shaky and he swallowed. He kept his eyes locked with Chan’s, staring into Chan’s soft, gray eyes.
“I-I don’t know,” Felix whispered, his heart stuttering as Chan closed the distance between them, pressing a short kiss on his lips before leaning back. “I thought that maybe… maybe every merperson wore some fancy jewelry like this,” he added, eyes flickering around nervously.
“No,” Chan said softly, brushing his thumb over Felix’s cheekbone. “I’m a prince, Felix.”
It took Felix a second to process it. At first he nodded, then his brain finally registered what Chan had said and he froze, then his eyes widened and he stared at Chan, jaw slack. The fond smile on Chan’s lips stretched even wider as realization made itself clear on Felix’s face.
“I- You- But wait- That means-”
“I thought you had figured it out,” Chan said fondly and Felix sputtered in embarrassment, his cheeks bright pink. “And you’re blushing. Cute,” Chan noted. Felix weakly hit his chest again before dropping his head onto Chan’s chest, resting his forehead against Chan’s sternum.
“I’ve been making out with a prince ,” Felix got out, voice strangled and muffled. Chan laughed, his chest vibrating and a hand came to rest on Felix’s arm. “I don’t know how to feel!” he whined, looking up again.
“I mean…” Chan said slowly, threading his fingers through Felix’s hair. “I’m still me.”
“I know and I-” Felix cut himself off before he said something he’d regret (or would be embarrassed about). “I still like you!” He took a deep breath. “A lot if I may add,” he said quickly, more like a mumble than actually speaking. “I just- isn’t there certain customs and… stuff when it comes to royalty?”
“It used to be,” Chan murmured, voice calm as he continued to brush his fingers through Felix’s messy hair. His hands were so soft and nails scraping gently against Felix’s scalp. “But not anymore. So no.”
“Really?” Felix asked and Chan hummed.
“There won’t be any problem with us being together, no,” he said, smiling as Felix narrowed his eyes. Chan’s other hand, the hand that wasn’t tangled in Felix’s hair, came up to brush over Felix’s arm. “Not as far as I am concerned.”
“You sure?” Felix asked and Chan nodded, fingers soothingly brushing over Felix’s arm, his touch leaving a trail of warmth behind. Then Felix realized something and he widened his eyes. Chan furrowed his brows a little, tilting his head. “But I’m a human!”
“Yes, I’m aware,” Chan said and Felix groaned.
“Won’t you like, I don’t know, get into trouble or something?”
“No?” At this point, Chan looked confused. “Why would I?”
“I’m a human!” Felix repeated and Chan looked at him, raising an eyebrow as he studied Felix’s face. He moved his hands to cradle Felix’s face, tugging him closer to kiss him. “I’m literally a different species,” he pointed out but Chan snorted.
“There has been other couples,” he said, kissing Felix on the nose. “It’s not forbidden, if that’s what you think.”
“Really?” Felix asked, searching for anything in Chan’s eyes that told him he was lying to reassure Felix. But he couldn’t find anything.
“Promise,” Chan said, brushing his thumb over Felix’s cheekbone. Felix hummed, frowning a little. He didn’t know what to think. “You’re going to get stuck with your face in a frown,” he said and brushed his finger over Felix’s forehead.
“Jisung,” Felix whined the second the call connected, covering his face with his hands. “Chan is from a fuckin’-” he stopped abruptly before saying too much, Maybe he shouldn’t say Chan was from a royal family, that would be way too suspicious.
“Chan is from a fuckin’..?” Jisung asked, waiting for Felix to continue.
“From a wealthy family,” Felix lied smoothly, rubbing his face. “And I-I don’t know how to feel . He’s like… a royalty.”
“Okay?” Jisung said, tilting his head a little. He squinted, seemingly not getting Felix’s point. Felix frowned and gave Jisung a look. “I don’t get your point?”
“I-” Felix cut himself off, taking a deep breath as he ran his hand through his hair and he sighed. “I don’t know. How are you?” he asked, changing the subject.
“I’m good, I’m good,” Jisung said, eyeing Felix closely through the webcam and Felix mustered the best smile he could. Jisung raised an eyebrow, obviously not impressed.
“That’s good,” Felix hummed. “Hyunjin was asking about you the other day,” he continued, watching as Jisung’s eyes widened and he could see the tips of Jisung’s ears turning pink. “You should come to visit again.”
“I’d love to,” Jisung said, leaning back in his chair and he brushed his hand through his hair. There was a pause and Felix chewed on his bottom lip, his thoughts wandering back to Chan. “What’s bothering you?” Jisung asked, breaking the silence and snapping Felix out of his own thoughts.
“Felix…” Jisung began, sighing heavily and he raised an eyebrow. “Something is obviously bothering you, don’t even try to deny it. I’ve known you for too long.” Felix sighed, shoulders slumping and head dropping. “You can tell me,” Jisung continued, voice softening and Felix looked up. “I’m your best friend, you can tell me anything.”
“I’m just…” he trailed off, sighing again. “I’m nothing compared to Chan.”
There was a pause and Jisung frowned, narrowing his eyes. “You know that’s not true,” he said after a moment and Felix sighed.
“No Jisung, you-” You don’t get it, was what he wanted to say. He ran a hand through his hair, biting his lip. “He’s basically a royal and he’s interested in me. ”
“I don’t-” Jisung sighed, brushing some of his blond hair away from his forehead. “I don’t understand you Felix. He’s interested in you, end of story.”
“No, Felix,” Jisung sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “No but’s, okay?” Felix nodded mutely, biting his lips and he averted his eyes. “He sounds like an earnest guy, from what you’ve told me.”
“He is,” Felix murmured. “He’s just so nice, so honest and I-”
“You deserve good things too, you know,” Jisung said, rubbing his forehead. Felix’s shoulder slumped and he looked up to meet Jisung’s gaze. Jisung looked concerned and Felix felt bad for burdening him with something as ridiculous as his own insecurities. “Don’t doubt yourself, okay?” he said and Felix nodded, trying his best to muster a convincing smile, pushing down the insecurity that was gnawing on his insides.
“Why are you-” Felix cut himself off, his throat suddenly closing and his chest tightening. He and Chan were back at the beach, the stars glimmering above them. The beach was silent, the only sound around them was the sound of the waves rolling in. Felix was laying with his head in Chan’s lap, Chan gently brushing his slender fingers through Felix’s hair. As he spoke, Chan shifted his focus from Felix’s orange hair to meet Felix’s eyes. Every time Chan looked at him, Felix felt like he was staring into his soul. He felt so small under Chan’s gaze.
“Hm?” Chan asked, brushing some of Felix’s hair away from his forehead.
“Why are you… interested in me?” Felix finally asked. There, he said it. He swallowed hard, letting out a shaky breath as he watched Chan intently. Chan furrowed his brows, frown settling on his face and his hand froze for a second before he continued to stroke Felix’s hair. “Technically you-”
“I?” Chan prompted, raising an eyebrow.
“You shouldn’t be interested in me,” Felix said, his chest tightening again and he swallowed hard, trying to push the lump in his throat down.
“Why not?” Chan asked, frown deepening. Felix averted his eyes, blinking rapidly as he felt tears welling up in his eyes. Keep it together Felix, do not cry. Not now, not now. “Why shouldn’t I be interested in you, Felix?” he asked, voice softening.
“You’re…” He swallowed hard, trying his best to not meet Chan’s gaze because he knew he’d probably burst into tears if he did. Chan was so nice and so caring, and a royalty on top of that. What could Felix ever offer? “I’m just… me,” he finally whispered, not daring to raise his voice in case it would waver or crack.
There was a pause and the silence was ringing in Felix’s ears. He could hear his own breathing, irregular and he swallowed hard, his heart hammering in his chest.
“Felix, please look at me,” Chan said, his voice barely a whisper and he placed his hand on Felix’s jaw, gently guiding him back to look at him. Felix’s breathing hitched and he bit his bottom lips to not cry. “You are you,” Chan murmured, brushing his thumb over Felix’s cheek. “You are just you, that’s true. But you, with your freckles, with your bright eyes and even brighter smile, with your pink cheeks and love for ice cream… I love you because you’re you.”
Felix’s heart stuttered and he was unable to hold back the small sob. It wasn’t a completely sad sob, it was more like a confused or overwhelmed sob as Felix was unsure what he was actually feeling at this moment.
“Y-you l-” he stuttered, eyes wide and vision blurry. He blinked, the tears that had been welling up in his eyes rolled down his cheeks and Chan gently dried them with his soft hands. “You love me?” he asked, his voice small and Chan, eyes soft and gentle smile on his lips as he looked down at Felix, nodded.
“I am fairly certain that I am in love with you,” he said, brushing the back of his hand over Felix’s cheek. Felix exhaled, his heart still racing in his chest and he felt his ears growing warm.
“I think I’m in love with you too,” he whispered, voice wavering and lips trembling. Chan smiled, cradling Felix’s cheek in his hand and he brushed his thumb over his cheekbone. Another small sob slipped past his lips, but it wasn’t a sad one. He was just so overwhelmed with happiness now.
“Why did you insist on me bringing my board today?” Felix asked as he paddled on his surfboard. Chan was swimming beside him, glancing up at Felix every now and then, moving forward with lazy strokes. The sun was bright and the ocean was calm. “It’s not really ideal surfing weather today.”
“Well,” Chan said, grinning sheepishly at Felix as he turned his head a little. Felix wasn’t sure what was blinding him right now, the sun reflecting in the water, the sun reflecting on Chan’s scales or Chan’s smile. “I wanted to show you a place.”
Felix hummed, raising an eyebrow. “And it required me to be on a board?” he asked and Chan nodded. Felix shook his head, smile on his lips but he didn’t push the matter further, he just continued to paddle beside Chan in the warm sun.
“I just wanted to bring you out, to the open water,” Chan said after a few minutes of silence and Felix pulled his arms up, resting them on his board as it continued to glide through the water. Chan grabbed onto the board, bringing it along with him as he swam. “I really like to come out here to the open water and float. I wanted to…” he trailed off and Felix tilted his head, waiting for him to continue. “I wanted to share it with you.”
“That’s really… nice of you,” Felix said, placing his hand on Chan’s hand on the board as Chan slowed down, bringing the board to a halt. Felix looked around. Ahead of them was open ocean, nothing in front of them except the horizon and when he looked back, he could just vaguely make out the shapes of the shore from the small, little town.
“I usually just come here to…” Chan trailed off, twisting around in the water to lay on his back. As he came up to float on on his back, Felix’s eyes immediately fell on his tail. The sun was high on the sky, causing Chan’s pearly white scales, both the ones on the tail and the ones dusted here and there on his chest, to glimmer. “To just sunbathe like this,” he continued, his head slightly tilted to look at Felix.
“It’s really nice,” Felix said, carefully turning around to lay on his back on the board. “It’s pretty,” he continued, reaching out to grab Chan’s hand.
They laid there for a while, under the warm sun and drifted along the gentle waves. Felix’s hand was submerged in the water, holding onto Chan’s fingers and he could feel the board move with every wave that past by. It wobbled, every now and then, threatening to tip over but none of the waves had been strong enough.
Just as Felix opened his mouth to say something, to comment on how peaceful it was, a wave rippled through the water. This one was a bit bigger and stronger than previous ones and Felix board tipped over, sending Felix, with a surprised squeak, into the water.
It took him a second to realize what had happened and he broke the surface to the water as quickly as he could, inhaling sharply as he emerged.
“You good?” Chan asked as Felix pushed his wet, orange hair out of his eyes. He looked to see Chan on the opposite side of the board, having turned it the right way again. Felix nodded, swimming closer to the board. He placed his arms on the board and heaved himself halfway up, so that his upper body was sort of resting on the board. Chan mirrored what Felix had just done and suddenly, they were face to face.
Felix exhaled, breath shaky as Chan leaned even closer. Their noses were almost touching, Felix could feel Chan’s fins tickle his legs every now and then and Felix’s heart was about to burst out of his ribcage. He couldn’t take his eyes off Chan.
“You’re beautiful,” he breathed, his brain not being able to process the thought until it was too late. His ears began to heat up and he averted his eyes. He really needed to get better with this whole ‘think before you speak’.
Chan laughed and Felix’s heart did a somersault before Chan leaned closer to kiss Felix. His lips were warm against Felix’s, soft as they coaxed Felix’s lips open. Felix tilted his head a little, deepening the kiss further.
“You’re quite the pearl,” Chan cooed as they parted and Felix’s cheeks began to heat up. Chan placed a hand on his cheek, brushing his thumb over his skin. “A very rare and beautiful pearl,” he continued and Felix almost choked, embarrassment burning hot now.
“Why are you like this?” he wheezed and Chan grinned widely at him.
“Like what?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. Felix groaned, rolling his eyes before kissing Chan again, hopefully distracting him. Chan laughed, causing Felix’s heart to beat even faster and grinned into the kiss.
Chan had been looking nervous all day, from the second Felix opened the door for him, letting him into his apartment. It wasn’t overly noticeable, but there was a slight flicker in his eyes every time he looked at Felix. Over the course of the day they had cuddled, gone for ice cream and lunch and watched a movie but Chan hadn’t said anything. It wasn’t until they were back at the beach, in a secluded area where Chan could shift back, that Felix decided to bring it up.
“What’s on your mind?” he asked, gently threading his fingers through Chan’s damp curls. Chan was laying with his head in Felix’s lap, back in his normal merboy form. He had his eyes closed but at Felix question, they fluttered open and he looked up to meet Felix’s gaze.
“What?” he said softly, blinking and tilted his head a little. He wasn’t wearing any jewelry except the necklace with the red gem, along with a second necklace, and it was just something about that fact that made Felix feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside. He looked, despite that nervous flicker in his eyes, casual and relaxed.
“Is something bothering you?” Felix asked, moving his hand to brush his fingers over Chan’s cheek, down his jaw. “It seems like something has been bothering you for most of today,” he pointed out and Chan sighed, closing his eyes for a second.
“I- yes,” he finally said, sitting up. Felix frowned as he did, moving a little so he was sitting beside Chan. Chan took a deep breath, eyes flickering around a little before boldly meeting Felix’s gaze. There was something behind his piercing, gray eyes but Felix couldn’t be certain on what it was. “There’s something I- I would like to ask you,” he said, his voice almost wavering a little and Felix blinked.
“Okay?” he said, tilting his head a little and furrowed his brows.
“And I…” Chan sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Please remember that you can say no. You don’t have to accept this, okay?” he continued and Felix’s frown continued to deepen for each passing second.
“Are you going to ask me to marry you?” he blurted, without really thinking it through and for the first time since getting to know Chan, Felix could see the bright pink blush creeping up on his face. Felix stared.
“I- what? No!” Chan sputtered, obviously flustered and Felix continued to stare at him. This was very unlike the very calm and collected Chan he had gotten to know, but despite the situation being utterly ridiculous, Felix found himself enjoying seeing this side of Chan as well.
“Oh,” Felix said, his expression softening before he frowned again. “Then what?”
“I want to bring you to see my world,” Chan said after a second of silence.
“But I’ve already-”
“I mean like… to the bottom of the ocean, to my city, to my kingdom,” Chan cut him off and Felix let out a small ‘ oh ’, his lips slightly parted. “And you can’t get there unless you’re a merperson. You’d probably drown if you tried and I really don’t want you to drown.”
“I-I would love to see your world,” Felix began slowly, averting is eyes for a second to look at his fingers as he fiddled with them. He didn’t know why he suddenly felt so nervous. He swallowed hard and looked back up. “But how would I…”
Chan smiled softly, the blush slowly fading, as he reached behind his neck to remove the second necklace. He held it out for Felix and Felix frowned. He looked closer at the necklace. On a thin, golden chain was a small seashell, thin metal swirls around it and keeping it fastened to the chain.
“Is that-” he began but cut himself off, shifting his gaze from the necklace to meet Chan’s eyes and then he looked at Chan’s necklace. “Is that like- like your necklace?” he asked.
“Yes,” Chan said as he nodded. Felix continued to look at the necklace, chewing on his bottom lip as he tried to process everything. “You don’t have to accept it. Nor do you have to actually… transform if you take it. If you change your mind later, that’s fine,” he continued and Felix nodded. He could hear the slight hint of disappointment in Chan’s voice as he spoke the last few words and Felix’s heart squeezed a little.
“I-I’d love for you to show me your home,” he finally said, holding out his palm as he locked eyes with Chan. Chan’s gray eyes widened and he froze for a second before a wide smile bloomed on his lips. It sparked something in Felix and he could feel his whole body tingle and warmth spreading from his chest out all the way to his fingers.
Chan placed his free hand under Felix’s, his palm warm against Felix’s hand and Felix was unable to hold back the wide smile that stretched his lips. The necklace came to rest in Felix’s palm, a bit cool against his skin and Chan gently closed Felix’s hand around it.
“We can wait until tomorrow, or however long you want until we try,” he said carefully and Felix nodded, smile still on his face as he pulled his hand back, holding the necklace firmly in his hand, close to his heart.
“I’ll… I’ll think about it,” Felix said, not missing the slight drop of Chan’s smile. “I still want to, I’m just gonna decide when,” he hurriedly added. “It does sound a bit scary…”
“It’s going to be fine,” Chan assured, his eyes bright with excitement and Felix’s heart was drumming against his ribcage.
There was a second of silence, a pause and Chan shifted a little again, laying down with his head in Felix’s lap again. Felix immediately, without a word, adjusted and placed a hand on Chan’s head, tangling his fingers in Chan’s hair while he began to inspect the necklace in his other hand.
“I thought you’d like that one,” Chan murmured and Felix tore his eyes from the necklace to look at Chan. He looked a lot more relaxed now, the previous nervousness gone and he smiled warmly at Felix.
“Did you make it?” he asked, brushing some of Chan’s hair away from his forehead.
“I got a bit of help from a friend,” he admitted and Felix beamed, holding the necklace close to his heart. “But I did what I could.”
Felix pulled his hand back to open the little hatch on the golden chain, putting the necklace around his neck. He could see pride rise in Chan’s eyes as he did and his heart swelled in his chest.
Wow he was in deep.
“I love it,” he whispered, brushing his thumb over Chan’s cheek.
A silence filled the air and Felix went back to brush his fingers through Chan’s thick hair and he kept his eyes fixed on Chan’s face. Chan closed his eyes, leaning into Felix’s touch ever so slightly and a small smile danced on his lips.
“Blushing is weird,” Chan finally said, eyes fluttering open. Felix froze for a second before raising an eyebrow. “I think we just don’t blush because the water keeps us cool. That was the first time I’ve blushed.”
“That’s cute,” Felix murmured, lopsided grin stretching his lips.
“It made me feel all warm and sweaty,” Chan pointed out and Felix snorted. “How do you survive?”
“Blushing as much as you do?” Chan asked and Felix could feel his ears heat up immediately. He didn’t blush that much, did he? “Your ears are pink,” Chan noted and Felix groaned. “You’re so cute.”
“I don’t blush that much,” he protested, trying his best to ignore Chan as Chan continued to poke his cheeks, cooing at him. He bit the inside of his cheeks, his heart fluttering and whole body feeling so warm.
They had agreed on meeting outside the arcade, because for some reason Chan had been very excited about the claw machine and Felix figured it was about time to show him the arcade. The sun was, as it usually was during summers, high on the sky and glaring down at the town. Felix was thankful he had been wearing shorts and a T-shirt today, because it was really warm and he was sweating, even though his shorts just barely reached his mid thigh.
Chan was already waiting for him outside the arcade and the second Felix laid his eyes upon him, his heart dropped. Oh no. Chan was dressed up, white jeans and a loose white shirt, exposing his upper chest, and a suit jacket over. Felix looked down at himself, the pastel yellow shirt and blue shorts. His mind raced. Maybe he could turn around, run home and change. Maybe-
“Felix!” Chan beamed and Felix snapped his head up, staring at Chan with wide eyes.
Well fuck. Too late now.
He flushed, cheeks growing even warmer under the sun. He bit his lip before smiling back at Chan, removing his sunglasses. He folded them and hung them on the neckline of his shirt. His heart was drumming in his chest and he felt even hotter than he had been just seconds ago.
“H-” He barely had time to open his mouth before Chan had grabbed a hold of him and swept him off his feet.
“You’re looking cute today,” he said and Felix’s face grew even warmer. Chan pressed a quick kiss on Felix’s lips before helping him to get back on his feet again. “I’ve seen people do that in movies. Did I do it correctly?” he asked, his gray eyes soft and Felix felt like he was about to die.
“Yes,” he wheezed, affection swelling in his chest and almost making it hard to breathe. He swallowed hard, pressing his already sunwarm hands against his burning cheeks. “You look so dressed up,” he said, trying to change the subject. Somewhat.
“It’s a date, isn’t it?” Chan asked, tilting his head and Felix wanted to facepalm. Or maybe punch himself in the face for being so casual. “Why are you blushing so much?”
“I just-” Felix cleared his throat, embarrassed beyond words. “I’m underdressed.”
Chan laughed, that clear and bright laughter that made Felix’s heart hurt so much. In a good way. He reached out to place a hand on Felix’s warm cheek
“You’re not underdressed,” he cooed and Felix let out a strangled sound. This was too much for him to handle. He leaned closer, his nose brushing against Felix’s and Felix’s breath hitched ever so slightly. “You look really cute,” he whispered as he brushed his free hand over Felix’s shorts.
Felix held eye contact with Chan, his hand fumbling around a little until he found Chan’s hand. He laced their fingers together and pressed his lips against Chan’s. His heart was still drumming in his chest and it stuttered as Chan moved his hand from Felix’s cheek to rest it on the back of his head, deepening the kiss and Felix gave Chan’s hand a small squeeze.
“We should go inside,” he murmured when they parted, eyes fluttering open to meet Chan’s warm, gray ones. “You’re too dressed to be in the sun,” he continued and Chan grinned sheepishly, letting go of Felix with one hand but kept their fingers intertwined as he began to tug Felix towards the door.
They started with the other games, because if they indeed won anything on the claw machine they would have to carry around stuffed animals. The first few minutes, Felix went through the games with Chan and how to play them. Felix liked to pride himself on being pretty good at games. Chan on the other hand did pretty good for the first time and every time Felix praised him, he beamed at him. Every time he flashed Felix a wide, proud grin, Felix’s heart stuttered a little in his chest.
This was how Felix was going to die.
“Can we try the claw machine?” Chan asked, obviously excited as he clung to Felix arm. His eyes were gleaming with excitement and Felix nodded, his mouth suddenly dry and his brain was too busy processing just how cute Chan was.
When they reached the claw machine, Chan let go of Felix arm to inspect the contents of the machine a bit closer.
“Felix!” he said, turning around for a second before looking back. “There’s a cat mermaid here.”
“Oh?” Felix said, furrowing his brows as he peered into the machine. True to Chan’s words, there was indeed a cat mermaid plushie in the machine. It was like his others, round with a cat face and a mermaid lower half. “That’s cute.”
“Can you show me how to play?” Chan all but pleaded and Felix bit the inside of his cheek, unable to hold back the wide smile as he took a coin from his pocket.
“I’m not very… good at this though,” he said slowly and Chan hummed, intently staring at the joystick. “So when you move this,” he began, moving the joystick around, “you move the claw.” He glanced to his side, his heart swelling with affection as he caught Chan’s expression. His eyes were wide, lips slightly parted and shaped like an ‘o’ as he looked between the joystick, the claw and Felix. Felix swallowed hard, trying to concentrate on the claw machine again. “And when you think you can get it,” he said. “You press this one.” He pressed on the big, blinking button and the claw went down.
It looked like he was going to get the cat mermaid and excitement spiked in his chest. He reached out to grab Chan’s arm, unable to hold back the excited grin. But the claw didn’t lift the plushie and returned empty, causing Felix’s heart to drop.
“Aw man,” he sulked, pout on his lips and his shoulder slumped. He really wanted that one. Chan laughed, wrapping an arm around Felix and leaned his head on Felix’s shoulder. “It was really cute,” he continued and Chan hummed, letting go of him.
“Can I try?” he asked, straightening his back. Felix nodded, changing place with Chan so Chan was standing in front of the controls. He looked at the plushie, then at the claw as Chan inserted the coin, just like Felix had, and then he looked back at Chan. His heart did a little backflip, sticking the landing in his chest. 10 out of 10.
Chan looked concentrated, eyes fixed at the claw as he moved it around. His brows were furrowed and his tongue sticking out as his eyes flickered between the claw and the plushie. He pressed the button and the claw fell. Felix turned to look at the claw, eyes widening when the claw actually grabbed the plushie.
“You did it,” he breathed, turning to look at Chan with wide eyes. “You did it!” he repeated, voice growing more excited.
“I did it,” Chan said as if he didn’t really believe it and he leaned down to pick up the plushie. Both he and Felix looked at the plushie for a second before turning to each other, bright smile on their faces. Laughter bubbled in Felix’s chest and he kissed Chan’s nose, his heart doing a series of cartwheels when Chan giggled. “Here,” he said, holding out the plushie for Felix.
“I- But you won it?” Felix said as he took the plushie from Chan with uncertain hands. “Don’t you- Don’t you want it?”
“I’m giving it to you.”
“I can’t really keep it underwater, can I?” Chan said, amused grin on his lips as he placed a hand on Felix’s waist, pulling him closer to kiss him on the lips, the plushie in between them. “If you don’t want it… think of it as keeping it for me. Would you mind keep it for me?” he asked as they parted, his breath still fanning over Felix’s lips.
Felix’s breath hitched and his heart hammered in his chest. “I’d love to,” he breathed, kissing Chan again. “And…” he began, exhaling shakingly.
“And?” Chan asked, pulling back a little to look at Felix with a concerned look in his eye. He placed his free hand on Felix’s cheek, rubbing his cheekbone gently. “What’s on your mind?”
“Ready for..?” Chan furrowed his brows, tilting his head a little.
“I want to see your home,” Felix breathed, watching as Chan’s eyes widened. “Would you… would you show me?”
“Of course,” Chan said, excitement bleeding into his voice as he beamed like the bright sun at Felix. “Tomorrow? Is that okay?” he asked, his eyes gray eyes gleaming and Felix’s heart stuttered. He was going to die of a heart attack.
“That’s…” he began, licking his dry lips and he nodded, hugging the plushie closer to his chest. “That’s perfect.”
The sun was barely peeking out over the horizon and nervousness was swirling in Felix’s stomach as he walked towards the usual place he and Chan met. The necklace he had received from Chan weighted heavy around his neck and he took a deep breath as he began to make his way over the rocks.
When he arrived, Chan was already waiting for him. He was sitting on the edge into the water, his fin swaying lazily along with the gentle waves. As soon as he laid his eyes upon Chan, his heart began to race in his chest. Chan’s face immediately softened as he met Felix’s gaze and he held out his arms towards Felix. Felix kicked off his shoes, placing his bag beside them on a small shelf where the tide wouldn’t get them. He didn’t really have a lot of things in the bag, just a few clothing items. He hadn’t been sure what to bring, he felt naked without his bag.
“Hi,” he said, doing his best to not let his voice tremble and he walked up to Chan, crouching down beside him. Chan grinned, taking Felix’s face in his hands and brought him closer to press a kiss on his nose before kissing him on the lips.
“Hello,” he said, his hands still on Felix’s cheek as he studied Felix’s face. “Are you excited?” he asked and Felix swallowed hard, trying to calm his heart.
“Mostly just nervous,” he admitted and Chan’s grin softened into a gentle smile. He brushed his thumbs over Felix’s cheekbones and Felix’s stomach swooped.
“You’ll be fine,” he assured and Felix nodded mutely. “Do you want to sit here for a while or just try it right away?” he asked and Felix took a deep breathing, taking a second to think about it. His eyes wandered to the sky, to the sun high on the sky. Maybe it would be for the best to try right away and then they’ll have the whole day for themselves.
“Right away?” he said in a meek voice and Chan’s smile just stretched wider. “Are you sure it’s going to work?” he asked as Chan let go of his cheeks and he stood up.
“I’m pretty sure,” Chan said as Felix tugged the shirt over his head, tossing it on top of his bag. Felix’s hands froze on the waistband of his swimming trunks and his face flared as he stared at Chan with wide eyes. “What?”
“How do I do this?” he asked, swallowing. “Do I-”
“Nothing is going to transfer through the magic, no,” Chan replied simply. “You might want to remove them because you’re either going to rip them or get stuck in them.”
“Just remove them, toss them to the side and get into the water,” Chan said and Felix nodded mutely before doing as he was told, as quickly as he could. Chan, being as nice as he was, kept his eyes trained on the far horizon and didn’t look back until Felix was in the water. “Now hold onto the edge with one hand, the other one on the necklace,” he instructed and Felix did as told.
Chan smiled, brushing some of Felix’s hair away from his forehead.
“When the transformation is done, get up here to sit, okay?” he said and Felix nodded again, his heart hammering against his ribcage. He felt so nervous. “It might be a bit weird with the fins and all, so it’s best to just sit here and get used to it instead of sinking.”
“I-I suppose,” Felix stuttered, taking a deep breath.
“Close your eyes,” Chan said and Felix took a last look at him, meeting Chan’s gray, earnest eyes before closing his own. “And just think about it really hard, picture it in front of you.”
So Felix did. He tried his best to envision it. It took him a while to focus, to not get distracted by his heart racing in his chest and the millions of butterflies in his stomach. He took a deep breath, calming down as he pictured it.
Maybe his tail would look like Chan’s or maybe it would be less elegant and sleek, and instead more colorful. Would it have the same kind of fins? The ruffled kind of look or another shape? As all these questions flooded his mind, a warmth began to spread through his body and his breath hitched. He tightened his grasp around the necklace but he kept his eyes closed, focusing now on the slight prickle in his legs. It felt so odd but he kept his eyes squeezed shut until the sensation faded.
His eyes fluttered open and he let go of the necklace, placing his now free hand on the edge. He turned to look at Chan, blinking without saying anything. He wasn’t really sure what he was going to say, his brain still struggling to process what was going on.
Chan was still smiling at him, a smile so fond and warm it almost hurt Felix. Felix took a moment to study Chan’s, his eyes, his jaw, his nose, his lips. The sun was reflecting in his gray eyes, glittering as if it was reflecting on the water.
He was beautiful.
Then he remembered what Chan had said and he shook his head, blinking as his senses returned to him. He took a deep breath before mustering all strength he had, heaving himself out of the water.
It felt odd, weird and he felt heavier than usual. He turned a little, struggling as he did, to sit on the edge to the water. He opened his mouth to say something, but the second he laid his eyes upon his own tail, all words suddenly disappeared.
His tail was slim, thinner than Chan’s, and the colors of scales at the base of the tail were a soft pink. They felt similar to Chan’s, maybe a bit less coarse and rough under his touch as he ran his fingers over them in awe. Much like Chan, he had two fins as the side of where his thighs would be but unlike Chan who had a large, ruffled fin with excessive branching of the rays, Felix’s fins at the end of his tail were split into two fins, still large but rounder in shape and less ruffled. The colors of them were stunning, breathtaking almost. Against the base of the tail, the fins started off in a pinkish orange color, slowly fading into orange into a pale blue until the tips reached a darker turquoise color.
“It looks like a sunrise,” Chan breathed and Felix snapped his head up to look at Chan. “May I?” he asked, like the gentleman he was, and Felix nodded mutely. He was at loss for words, staring at the tail as it swayed along with the waves. Chan brushed his hand over the pink scales before moving to trace the fin on the side of Felix’s thigh. “You think you can move them?” he asked and Felix tore his eyes off his tail, blinking at Chan.
“I don’t… know?” he said slowly and Chan smiled, moving his hand from Felix’s fin to brush some of his hair away from his face. He turned back to the tail and frowned, trying to move it.
He could lift it, bend at where the knee joint would be but the fins were a different story. After a bit trial and error, he figured out how to move the two fins at the end of his tail but the ones on the side- no. Just no.
“Do you wanna try swimming?” Chan asked after Felix had been sitting quietly for a while, trying to figure out how the tail worked. “Might help you with figuring out how the fins work.”
“Uhm… I could try,” he said carefully, his heart speeding up in his chest as Chan flashed him one of those wide, warm smiles. He pushed himself off the edge, into the water and Felix watched as he disappeared below the surface, only to reappear seconds later. His hair stuck to his forehead and he brushed it away from his eyes.
“You ready?” he asked, holding out a hand for Felix. Felix remained quiet but he took Chan’s hand, his pudgy fingers wrapping around Chan’s slender ones. His eyes flickered between Chan and the water, his heart beating hard in his ribcage. “You have nothing to be afraid of, little merboy,” Chan said fondly. Had Felix not been so overwhelmed by everything right now, he had probably given Chan a snarky remark or something, but he was too busy wrapping his head around the situation.
He took a deep breath, taking Chan’s hand and used the other to push himself off the edge and into the water. By reflex, he kept his eyes shut and held his breath but a chuckle from Chan, who was still holding onto his hand, caused him to open his eyes.
“You don’t need to hold your breath,” Chan pointed out, moving a little closer to brush his free hand over Felix’s cheek. Felix didn’t reply and instead he stared sceptically at Chan before slowly exhaling.
“I don’t need to hold my breath,” he said and Chan laughed, placing a hand on Felix’s waist to tug him closer. He nuzzled his nose into the crook of Felix’s neck, holding onto him in a firm grip. As he was pressed firmly against Chan’s chest, Felix could feel the lazy and steady strokes off Chan’s tail and he was suddenly aware that he needed to swim to keep himself floating.
The first few strokes were awkward, kind of harsh and jerky and he could hear Chan laugh. Felix grumbled, holding onto Chan to make sure he wouldn’t sink as he continued to move his fin.
“There we go,” Chan said softly, straightening his back as he looked at Felix. He loosened his grip a little and Felix looked down at his own tail. It didn’t look nor did it feel awkward anymore. It looked smooth but he knew he had to keep on reminding himself to actually keep swimming until it became like breathing.
“This is so weird,” he breathed and Chan laughed, cupping Felix’s cheek with one hand and he leaned in to kiss him.
“You’re doing great, don’t worry,” he murmured as they parted and Felix hummed. “Do you think you can swim on your own?” he asked, slowly loosening his grip of Felix further.
“I think so,” Felix said, swallowing hard as Chan let go of him. He swam back and Felix stared at him, eyes wide. He had seen Chan underwater before, when they went to the reef together, but it had been different somehow. He looked so stunning, the white tail in a contrast to the dark rocks around them, his red fins flared out as they moved to keep him floating, his hair swaying with the gentle currents. The sunlight that shone through the crystal clear water caused all the jewelry he was wearing to gleam softly.
Felix didn’t notice that he had forgotten to keep moving his tail until Chan swam up to him, gently grabbing his arm to pull him away from the ocean floor.
“This is hard,” he whined as he began to move his tail again, keeping himself afloat and Chan let go again. Chan laughed, body twisting in such a graceful way and he pressed a kiss on Felix’s cheek.
“You can do it,” he said, a fond look in his eyes and he extended his arms. “Try swimming a little,” he continued and Felix frowned. He opened his mouth to say something but decided against it. He glanced down at his fin before taking a deep breath.
He tried angling his body a little, putting some more power into the strokes with his fin and three strokes of his fin later, he found himself in Chan’s arms, his eyes wide.
“Hello, little one,” Chan cooed, nuzzling his nose against Felix’s. Felix’s laughed, taking Chan’s face in his hands to kiss him. “Don’t forget to keep moving your tail,” Chan reminded him, murmuring against his lips and Felix hummed, realizing that he had indeed forgotten to keep moving his tail, again.
“How do you do this?” Felix asked as they parted, frowning at his tail. The second he stopped thinking about it, it stopped moving and he began to sink so he had to actively think about swimming to keep himself afloat.
“It’s like breathing,” Chan said, brushing his fingers over Felix’s cheekbones. “You’ll get a hang of it soon, I promise,” he said and Felix hummed, pout slowly making its way up on his lips. Chan smiled, pressing a short kiss on Felix’s lips before slowly loosening his grip of Felix again to let him swim on his own.
Felix frowned as Chan swam ahead. He made it look so easy. Felix took a deep breath again, trying to find the muscles to move the fins on his side. It took him a while, but at last he managed to find them and he was able to actually turn as he was swimming.
“Look at you,” Chan said, reaching out to take Felix’s hand. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” he cooed and Felix rolled his eyes.
“Did you get that from Finding Nemo?” he asked, biting back a grin as Chan nodded, a beaming smile on his lips. He shook his head before turning his attention back to getting control over his tail. Chan remained silent, giving him the time to find all the right muscles to move and he gently corrected the course every now and then when they were about to hit something.
“You look so cute,” Chan said, still holding onto Felix’s hands as they swam at a slow speed and Felix turned to look at him. Chan was grinning so widely and Felix’s heart stuttered again. This really wasn’t good for his health. “Are you ready to swim a bit faster now?”
“I don’t…” Felix trailed off, already feeling that he had lost control over one of the side fins and he was now steering left. “Will you hold my hand?” he asked and Chan nodded, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze.
“Always,” he whispered, his grip of Felix’s hand tight as he began to move his tail in larger, stronger strokes. Felix could feel the water being pushed around by Chan’s tail and he tried to match his own strokes with Chan’s, swimming a bit faster.
Felix had gone swimming with Chan before, but that had been different. They had been close to the surface, making sure Felix got to go up every now and then to get air. This was so different.
Everything was just… more. The colors of the reef were more intense, the fishes, everything. Felix didn’t feel like an outsider, swimming this close to the bottom of this fairly shallow part. He felt like he belonged, here in the water with Chan holding his hand. It warmed him, his heart fluttering in his chest as they continued to swim through the reef.
He was vaguely aware of the ocean floor tilting downwards, bringing them deeper into the ocean, as he was busy taking in all the sights around him. When Chan’s grip around his hand tightened further, Felix looked ahead and his jaw went slack, eyes wide.
In front of them was a city. A large city, houses and arches built of stone with tall towers and spires reaching toward the surface. Through the surface, a ripple of light was cast over the walls and towers. From this distance, Felix could see merfolk, dolphins and sharks swimming around the town, in and out through the arches. Before the actual city rose, there was an area that looked suspiciously like a courtyard, a cobble stone path leading towards the grand entrance to the city. In the middle of a courtyard, there was a tree. At least it looked like a tree. Whatever it was, pale blue stalks, maybe seaweed, were intertwined in this vague tree like shape, swaying along with the movement of the waves.
The longer he looked at it, stunned at the sheer beauty of the city, the more things he could see. There was a light coming from within the grand entrance, illuminating the city further.
“It’s beautiful,” he breathed, squeezing Chan’s hand. He swallowed hard, finding it difficult to take his eyes off it but when he did, he laid his eyes upon Chan. Despite being underwater, his mouth felt dry the second he met Chan’s gaze.
Chan was still holding his hand, his gray eyes soft and his face illuminated by the green light of the city. His crown, his necklace, the rings on his hands, the chain decorated with gems around his waist and the pearls nestled in between his scales, all of it was gleaming softly.
Felix swallowed hard.
“You’re beautiful,” Chan whispered, tugging at Felix’s hand to pull him closer. He placed his free hand on Felix’s cheek, brushing his thumb over his cheekbone. “You got some scales here,” he continued, voice still hushed. Felix’s heart stuttered and he let out a shaky breath. “It’s stunning.”
“I love you,” Felix breathed before pressing his lips against Chan’s, his hand coming up to the back of Chan’s head to pull him closer. Chan let go of his hand, moving to brush it over Felix’s gills and Felix let out a giggle against Chan’s lips. “That tickles,” he murmured, still smiling against Chan’s lips.
“I love you,” Chan said, rubbing his thumb against the skin around Felix’s gills and Felix laughed again. “We should continue,” he mumbled, pressing a short kiss on Felix’s nose, pulling back and he ran his hand down Felix’s bare side before reaching out to take his hand again. “I want you to see the castle.”
“The castle?” Felix asked, voice small and he suddenly felt terribly nervous. “Uhm, the castle?” he asked again, chewing on his bottom lip. “Do we… do we have to?”
“You do not have to be nervous,” Chan assured and Felix nodded, not really believing him.
“You’re not taking me to see your parents, are you?” he asked as Chan started to swim again, approaching the city. He kept a firm grip on Chan’s hand and his eyes fixed at Chan’s face. Chan glanced over at Felix, a wide grin stretching on his lips before he turned to look ahead again. “I don’t feel like I should… you know, meet royalties when I barely can swim in a straight line.”
“Oh heavens no,” Chan laughed, giving Felix’s hand a reassuring squeeze as they continued to swim towards the city. “I was just thinking of showing you around a little and meet a friend of mine. You do not have to worry about my parents today, Felix the human,” he continued, a teasing tone making its way into his voice and Felix pouted.
With a hearty laugh, Chan began to move his tail in bigger, stronger strokes and Felix tried his best to mimic it, to be able to keep up with Chan. He held his breath as they got closer, trying to avoid any eye contact with all the merfolks they passed. He caught some curious glances, some tiltings of their heads and he tightened his grip of Chan’s hand. He felt small, under their gazes.
“Do not worry, little merboy,” he said softly and Felix looked over at him, eyes wide. “They’re merely curious. They mean no harm.”
“I know there’s some doubt still in you,” Chan said, brushing his thumb over Felix’s hand. “So I want to clarify their glances. They’re merely curious,” he continued and Felix nodded, biting his lip.
They continued through the city and Felix stared with wide eyes as they passed. The houses were tall, many floors with large doors and open holes for windows. It didn’t seem like there was any logical structure behind the way the streets were ordered, but maybe that was just because Felix wasn’t from here. Maybe there was some logic and Felix just didn’t understand it. All throughout the city, there was that green light hitting the walls and here and there, blue crystals were illuminating their surroundings.
“Here we are,” Chan finally said and Felix looked up ahead. The castle didn’t look all that different, except the door to was simply a large archway, green light glowing from within, and huge windows reaching to cover the three stories tall walls. The windows, unlike the simply open holes of the other buildings, were covered with stained glass in various colors and patterns. It was breathtaking, the way the green light filtered through the colored glass.
Felix steered himself a bit closer to Chan, seeking some form of comfort and he could feel Chan rubbing his thumb over Felix’s hand. That offered him some reassurance as they swam through the large archway leading into the castle. As they entered, Felix could see a large, green crystal casting a bright light in every direction. It must be the source of the light that illuminated most of the city.
“We’re not meeting my parents, I promised you,” Chan said softly and Felix hummed, his eyes darting around the insides of the palace. He really didn’t want to accidentally run into Chan’s parents. “My friend is employed at the castle, which is why we’re here,” he continued.
They continued through the hallways, rounded and soft caverns decorated with amazing artworks on the walls with those small, blue crystals fixed to them here and there, providing more light in the closed off and windowless hallways.
“What does your friend work with?” Felix asked as he noted that the ocean floor beneath them was tilting downwards. “I feel like you’re bringing me to an underground prison or something.”
“Nonsense, my love,” Chan said, shaking his head with that fond, amused smile on his lips as he continued to tug Felix along. “Seungmin works in the lower levels of the castle yes, but we do not have a prison. He’s a jeweler.”
“Oh,” Felix said softly, averting his eyes and he felt embarrassment rise in his chest. But his face didn’t heat up. He blinked, confused. This must be what Chan talked about earlier. Felix blinked again, snapping out of his thoughts and he looked back at Chan. “Is he the one that helped you with this?” he asked, his free hand coming up to touch the seashell necklace.
“Yes,” Chan said, pulling Felix around a corner. “That’s him and if I’m not mistaken...” he trailed off, slowing down as they reached an archway, “he should be here right now.”
Suddenly Felix felt nervous again and he bit his lip, eyes darting around the hallway as he tried to distract himself a little.
“Seungmin?” Chan called out and Felix could hear a distant ‘yes’, from the other room. Chan looked back at him, soft smile on his lips as he brought Felix’s hand up to his lips, pressing a kiss on his fingers. “You have nothing to worry about, love,” he said and Felix nodded, trying his best to push down the nervousness as he let Chan pull him inside the room.
The room was a square space, dimly lit by a few of those blue stones, their light somehow dimmer than the ones Felix had seen before and with a more purple tone to it, rather than a bright, electric blue. There were a few tables here and there, boxes containing who knows what on top of them. In the far end of the room was a small window, allowing some of that green light to filter in through the simple hole and another blue, glowing seaweed thing, this one resembling a house plant rather than a tree, was swaying along with the currents.
“Hello,” a voice said and Felix snapped his eyes off the plant, meeting the golden eyes of another merboy. He had been so occupied with the room, he hadn’t noticed the presence of someone in the room. He was still in the darker corner of the room, but his eyes were glowing and so noticeable in the dark space. “I’m Seungmin,” he said softly and Felix nodded, his brain working on a reply. “You must be Felix.”
“That would be me,” Felix got out, voice small and he grabbed a hold of Chan’s arm. Seungmin chuckled, swimming a bit closer. As he did, Felix got a better look of him. Seungmin had a sharp jawline, chubby jowels and a gentle smile on his lips, paired with a soft look in his golden, glowing eyes. His scales stretched further up his waist than Chan’s, blending into the skin around his belly button. His scales were dark purple, but Felix suspected they held a softer, maybe lilac, tone to them in brighter light. Due to the dim light, it made it hard to spot the random patches of scales, but Felix could see some on his chest and on his arms.
As Seungmin turned to say something to Chan, Felix glanced at the fins. Much like Chan, Seungmin's fins were the show stealer. He did not have that ruffled look on his fin, a large and wide fin with a lot of excessive branching of the fin rays, but instead, his fin rays stretched beyond the webbing of the fin itself, giving it this almost comb like look. However, as he moved it, the rays were not as stiff as Felix had expected them to be, but moved gently along with the slow strokes.
“It is nice to finally meet you,” Seungmin said and Felix looked back up to meet his eyes. Seungmin raised an amused eyebrow, smile on his lips as he looked Felix up and down. Felix tightened his grip of Chan, nervousness spiking and he glanced over to meet Chan’s eye. Chan smiled, brushing his hand over Felix’s arm but he remained quiet. “I see the magic worked fine, even though he is a human.”
“What?” Felix asked, suddenly confused and he looked between Chan and Seungmin.
“There are merfolk with a bit more magic than the rest of us,” Chan explained, still stroking Felix’s arm soothingly. “Seungmin is one of those,” he continued and Seungmin grinned, crossing his arms over his chest. “They make the necklaces that can help us get legs, or help you humans get fins.”
“Wait, you weren't sure it was going to work?” Felix asked, staring at Chan with wide eyes. Chan shook his head, smile still lingering on his lips. “What would have happened if it didn’t work?” he continued, voice wavering slightly.
“Don’t worry,” Seungmin said, sitting down on one of the stone tables. “You would just have remained human, had it not worked,” he assured and Felix nodded.
“Seungmin’s magic is stable enough,” Chan filled in and Felix nodded again, deciding to believe them.
“I would not let Chan do anything stupid with the magic, do not worry Felix,” Seungmin said. He didn’t address Chan by title, Felix noted, but there was this very polite tone in his voice. Seungmin got up from the table again and swam up to Felix. “Oh, sorry I did not intend to frighten you, little one,” he said, halting his movement and Felix realized he had pulled back in surprise.
“Oh, oh no!” he said, letting go of Chan’s arm with one hand to wave it in front of him. “I was just surprised don’t worry you didn’t scare me.”
“Oh good,” Seungmin said, moving even closer. Felix glanced at Chan who shrugged, eyes soft and fixed on Felix. He looked back at Seungmin as he stopped in front of him. “May I inspect the necklace?” he asked and Felix swallowed, blinking. This day was really bizarre. “I want to make sure my enchantment has remained correctly,” he continued and Felix nodded mutely.
“We really wouldn’t want you transforming back into a human here,” Chan said, bringing Felix’s hand up to his lips just as Seungmin reached out to inspect the necklace.
“I-I might transform back?” Felix asked, fear rising and his voice trembled.
“Highly unlikely,” Seungmin noted, letting go of the necklace. “And there is not a single hiccup with the magic in the necklace, hence bringing the risk down to non-existent. You will turn back to human when you wish for it.”
“That’s good,” Chan murmured and Felix nodded. “Now if you excuse us, I plan on showing Felix around the town before bringing him back to the surface,” he continued and Seungmin nodded, smug grin stretching on his lips.
“I’ll see you two later then,” he said before turning to Felix. “Chan talks about you a lot,” he said and had Felix been above water, his face would be burning. Seungmin gave Chan a glance, grin still on his lips. “You two are very cute.”
Felix sputtered something as Chan began to drag him out of the room. Seungmin laughed, giving the two of them a small wave.
“I’ll see you later Seungmin!”
“Have fun you two,” Seungmin called after them as they began to swim down the hallway, towards the exit of the castle.
Felix had to admit that sunbathing was really nice. He had somehow fitted in the small pool among the rocks together with Chan, a miracle considering the size of the pool and the size of Chan’s fins. He had been partly submerged in water, leaning his back against the warm rocky wall and his eyes closed as the sun looked down at him. He was vaguely aware of Chan moving, a small splash being heard but he kept his eyes closed as he sucked up the warm rays.
When he opened his eyes again, he blinked, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. The sky had darkened, the sun approaching the horizon. He stretched, his arms above his head, his fins stretching as far as they could and a small whine slipped past as he did. As he looked around, he realized that Chan had moved out of the pool.
“Hey,” Chan said and Felix looked over to the side. Chan was sitting on the side to the pool, in human form and wearing his white T-shirt and red swimming trunks, his elbows on his knees and resting his chin in his hands. “Are you stuck?” he asked, sheepish grin on his lips and Felix stared at him, his brain muddled as he processed the situation. He looked around him again, this time realizing that the tide had pulled back and he was, indeed, stuck.
“Not really though,” he replied, his voice a bit raspy. He must have fallen asleep earlier. “I can just become human again,” he pointed out, yawning as Chan stood up, stepping into the point. He turned his face, blinking at Chan.
“Do you want me to carry you?” Chan asked, leaning down a little and Felix rolled his eyes.
“I can just become human and walk,” he repeated and Chan smiled softly as he brushed a hand over Felix’s dry hair.
“I figured that it’s only fair,” Chan said and Felix hummed. He blinked again, sleep still lingering in his eyes and he nodded. Chan crouched down, placing a hand at Felix’s lower back and the other one under the knee joint. “You ready?” he asked and Felix nodded again, wrapping his arms around Chan’s neck.
Chan stood up, lifting Felix like he weighed nothing and he turned to look at Felix, wide grin on his lips. Felix frowned, tightening his grip around Chan’s neck before hiding his face in the crook of his neck.
“This is unfair,” he whined, nuzzling his nose against Chan’s skin and he flopped sadly with his fin a little. Chan laughed, turning his head a little to press a kiss on the shell of Felix’s ear. “How long was I asleep?” he asked, mumbling into Chan’s skin.
“An hour maybe,” Chan said and Felix hummed, pulling back a little to rest his head on Chan’s shoulder. “You should turn back to human so I can bring you home,” he continued but Felix shook his head.
“I can get home by myself,” he murmured and Chan laughed again. He took a moment to just rest against Chan’s warm shoulder, eyelids growing heavy and as he realized he was about to fall asleep again, he blinked rapidly, trying to wake himself up again.
Chan chuckled as he helped Felix turn back and five minutes later, Felix was dressed, his backpack on and leaning against Chan. He felt exhausted and his legs felt like jelly.
“I’m bringing you home,” Chan declared, in a tone that made it clear to Felix that he would not discuss this.
Felix clung to Chan the whole way back to his apartment, eyes heavy lidded and he felt really sleepy. Chan was chuckling every now and then, ruffling Felix’s hair as he dragged him back to his apartment.
“There we go,” he said softly as they reached Felix’s door. Felix fumbled a little with his keys, his body not really wanting to respond to the commands his brain gave it. At last he got the right key and unlocked his door. “I’ll…” Chan trailed off and Felix turned to look at him, still clinging to Chan’s arm.
“Hm?” he asked, blinking as he tried to blink the sleepiness out of his eyes.
“Do you want to meet up tomorrow?” Chan asked and Felix brain suddenly was on alert. He frowned, tilting his head a little. “What?”
There was a pause and Felix bit his lip, averting his eyes. He stared at the floor as his mind tried to decide whether or not he should ask Chan.
“What’s on your mind?” Chan asked softly, placing a hand on Felix’s chin to tilt his head up.
“Do you wanna stay the night?” Felix blurted and he watched as Chan processed what he’d said, eyes slowly widening.
“You want me to stay?” he asked and Felix didn’t miss that slight, nervous tremble in his voice as he spoke. He loosened his grip of Chan’s arm, turning so he was facing Chan and he grabbed a hold of the hem of Chan’s shirt.
“Yes,” he breathed, almost afraid to speak up. “Do you want to stay?” he repeated, louder to make sure Chan heard him. He watched Chan’s expression intently, watching as a wide smile bloomed on his lips and Felix’s heart stuttered in his chest.
“I’d love to,” he murmured softly, tucking some of Felix’s hair behind his ear. Felix grinned, his chest feeling warm and fuzzy as he let go of Chan’s shirt, lacing their fingers together instead. He tugged Chan inside and Chan closed the door behind them.
“Let’s just cuddle and sleep,” Felix mumbled, pulling Chan along to his bedroom. His bed might be a bit small but it should fit the two of them. “Do you want to borrow a pajamas?” There was a pause and Felix laughed, squeezing Chan’s hand. “Sleeping clothes,” he clarified and Chan let out a soft ‘oh’.
“I- yes please,” he said and Felix grinned, letting go of Chan’s hand to shuffle over to his wardrobe. He pulled out his own pajamas and a spare pajamas. He looked the spare pajamas over, the plaid red pants and a white T-shirt with a faded print and he glanced over at Chan.
“This should fit.” He held out the pajamas set to Chan before turning back to change into his own pajamas. Sleep was settling deep in his bones, his eyelids heavy and he wobbled a little as he stood on one leg. “I’m really sleepy,” he said when he spun around to face Chan, rubbing his eye.
“We should go to bed,” Chan murmured. He had changed, the shirt a bit too tight on him and Felix made a mental note to buy a pajamas for Chan to use when he visited. “You look like you’re about to fall asleep at any second now,” he continued, gently taking Felix’s hand to tug him towards the bed.
As soon as they laid down, Felix shuffled closer to Chan, a hand reaching out to fumble for the comforter.
“Have you ever slept in a human bed?” Felix asked as he tucked his head into the crook of Chan’s neck. Chan was laying on his back and Felix on his side, his hand resting on top of Chan’s chest.
“I haven’t,” Chan replied, his chest vibrating under Felix’s hand. Felix hummed, pressing a sleepy kiss on Chan’s neck before nuzzling his nose into Chan’s skin. “I rather like it though. It’s warm.”
There was a pause, a rustle as Chan shifted a little, turning his head to press a kiss on the top of Felix’s head. Felix inched a bit closer, his feet brushing up against Chan’s legs.
“Have you and Seungmin been friends for a long time?” Felix murmured, his eyelids heavy and he brushed his thumb over the fabric of Chan’s shirt.
“We have,” Chan said, reaching up to place his hand on Felix’s arm, rubbing his thumb over his skin. “I’ve known him since we were hatchlings.”
“Hatchlings?” Felix asked, his brain a bit muddled but he felt a little more awake now. “You… You’re born from eggs?”
“We are,” Chan confirmed, moving his hand from Felix’s arm to rest it on the back of his head. He gently threaded his fingers through Felix’s hair and Felix could feel sleep trying to pull him in. “I will tell you all about that, tomorrow. But to answer your question, we are really close friends. I would trust him with my life.”
“That’s nice,” Felix mumbled, “to have a close friend like that.”
“Yes,” Chan said, his voice growing sleepier as well. “We should go to sleep.”
“But I-” Felix paused to yawn. “But I wanna-”
“No,” Chan cut him off, amusement clear in his tired voice. “Sleep first.”
“Fine,” Felix replied after a heartbeat of silence. He exhaled, sinking further into the mattress and Chan’s hold. “Goodnight, little prince,” he said and Chan chuckled.
“Goodnight, little human,” he whispered, pressing another kiss in Felix’s hair. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Felix stirred awake as the mattress shifted and he opened his eyes to come face to face with Chan. He blinked, trying to get the sleep out of his eyes and he let out a whine as he stretched his legs as much as he could.
“Good morning,” he murmured, his voice raspy and low in the early hours of the morning. “Did you sleep well?”
“I did,” Chan replied, his voice lower than usual as well and Felix’s heart fluttered in his chest. With a sleepy grin and happiness threatening to overwhelm him, he inched closer to Chan to nuzzle his nose against Chan’s. “Sleeping in a bed was… odd but it was nice. You humans sleep more comfortably than us,” Chan continued, placing a warm hand on Felix’s cheek, his thumb brushing over his cheekbone. Felix hummed, brushing his fingers over Chan’s exposed collarbone, feeling the scales under his fingertips.
“Why does your scales remain when your human?” he asked, shifting his eyes to meet Chan’s gaze. “Not that I’m complaining,” he continued, pressing a small kiss on Chan’s lips. “I’m just curious.”
“Seungmin made my necklace when he was a bit more inexperienced,” Chan explained, still stroking Felix’s cheekbone. “He offered to make a new one for me, but I like it this way,” he continued and Felix hummed.
There was a pause as the two of them stared at each other, fingers brushing softly over skin as they took everything in.
“You’re beautiful,” Felix whispered and Chan laughed, kissing Felix on the nose.
“You said that the first time we met,” he said and Felix sputtered, embarrassed as he recalled the memory.
“Please don’t bring that up,” he whined and Chan chucked. Felix moved his hand from Chan’s collarbone to rest it on his chest, above his heart. “It’s really embarrassing.”
“Are you going to blush?” Chan asked, moving a bit closer to Felix. They were so close, their noses touching and Felix could feel Chan’s breath fanning his lips.
“I don’t-” Felix swallowed hard as he felt his ears heat up. “Stop making me embarrassed,” he whined, pouting as he did.
“Sorry little human,” Chan cooed. “But you look so pretty,” he continued and Felix swatted weakly at his chest. He averted his eyes, trying to ignore the way happiness was just bursting in his chest as he saw Chan looking at him in the corner of his eyes. He looked back at Chan, who was still smiling fondly at him.
He moved a little, pushing Chan’s shoulder so Chan was laying on his back and Felix was laying on top of him. He didn’t say anything as he looked down at Chan, neither did Chan. The silence in the air was comfortable as Felix took it all in. Chan was laying among the soft, white cotton sheets, his curly hair messy and his eyes sleepy but he was looking at Felix with so much adoration in his eyes it almost hurt.
Felix hadn’t expected much when he moved back to his little hometown this summer. He hadn’t expected to learn that there was a whole world out there, one that he didn’t know about. He hadn’t expected to befriend a merboy. He hadn’t expected to fall in love.
There were so many unexpected things that had happened the past few weeks, but Felix didn’t regret any of them.
He leaned down to kiss Chan, his movements eager as he deepened the kiss. Chan hummed against his lips, both hands cradling Felix’s face as he smiled. Felix was content like this, he felt at peace and he was excited. He was excited to see what the future held for him and Chan.
It was a big and scary world out there, even bigger now when Felix had learned about Chan’s world. But they would face it together.