The currents are cool but tropical, dappled light filtering down to dance across Lance’s skin as he opens his eyes. A moray is watching him with beady little eyes, mouth opening and closing from under a nearby reef. Lance makes a soft little trill, assuring it he’s not a threat.
Slowly the eel slips out of its home and Lance extends his hand. Careful of his nails he runs his fingers over the smooth underbelly as the eel swims past. It turns in loops, deciding it likes the attention, letting Lance pet it. He smiles.
He’s been half dozing for a bit, playing with the schools of fish curious enough to come closer. He’d even played a brief game of tag with a baby sea turtle, tapping it on the nose with a finger before it would dart away, only to come back so he could do it again.
He’s been lying tucked against a collection of coral long enough for sand to settle across his fins and fluke, just enough to leave him partially disguised. Not that anything in the area is immediately threatening. He’s more concerned about wandering humans than any of the local marine life. Even the sharks are relatively harmless.
Lance begins letting the eel weave back and forth between his arms while he waits, but it doesn’t take long. He can smell Keith before he sees him, the currents carrying the scent of him. Lance’s heart turns over and he savors the scent along his tongue.
Keith smells like lava searing in the water and deep steam vents, warm and thick in his gills. Lance has never smelled anyone else like him, didn’t think it was possible for a mer to taste so warm.
He smiles as a shadow dips across him from overhead as Keith comes over the coral. In the deeper water he turns muddy and brown, something he’d been self-conscious about for years. His coloring had made him a bit of a pariah, many mer finding his faded pigment unattractive and undesirable, isolating him because of it.
Lance has first seen him in the shallows, the red of his scales vibrant and burning. He was so beautiful it took Lance’s breath away. It still does and even now his gills flutter at the sight of him.
Keith is bright as fire above him, scales glittering and unlike anything he’s ever seen. Lance could stare at him forever.
Keith’s focused expression softens at the sight of Lance and he lets his weight carry him down into the little dip between the reefs Lance is resting in.
“Shoo, my turn.” He flicks his fingers at the eel which makes a grumpy, affronted face before slinking away, back into its home.
Keith drapes himself along Lance’s chest with a pleased little hum, taking its place. He tucks his face into the crook of Lance’s neck, a deep sigh leaving him as he settles.
Lance smiles, flicking a lock of long hair away from Keith’s face as he gets comfortable. He wraps his arms around his mate, kissing Keith on the forehead.
“Were you waiting long?” Keith murmurs, finally content.
“Ages,” Lance teases running a hand over Keith’s back. “That eel was about to propose to me. We were about to run away together before you interrupted.”
Keith pinches him in the side and Lance squeals, kicking up sand and frightening a school of nearby fish.
“I’m sorry, should I leave you two alone?” Keith sits up and makes to leave and Lance whines.
“Nooooo, come baaaaaack.” He drags Keith back down against him, pressing Keith’s head back to his shoulder.
Keith fights only briefly on principle before settling in place. He hides a smile against Lance’s neck, pressing a kiss to his gills.
Lance lets out a deeply contented sigh, nosing at Keith’s hair, dropping a kiss there.
“Missed you,” he says softly, cradling Keith in his arms.
“I wasn’t gone that long.” He taps his fingers along Lance’s chest, tracing over the faint scales along his shoulders.
Lance hums in agreement, nodding. “I know.” One hand slides down Keith’s arm, just enjoying touching him. “Still missed you.”
Keith’s heart squeezes and he hugs Lance. “Missed you too,” he admits. “I always miss you.”
Lance sweeps Keith’s hair back and kisses his forehead, wriggling a little deeper in the sand as they settle in for a nap, the sun glittering off Keith’s scales.
Pressed between him and the bed of sand Lance can’t remember being happier.