Aquata Cove Chapter 21: Revelations

"Son..." Kaiken said.

"Father... ?" Merrick acknowledged. The two of them are alone, away from the pod.

"Your Mother has informed me of something that has me feeling very concerned..." Merrick looked his father in the eyes as he spoke, "Over the past few years, you seem to have grown distant... Troubled... Over the last 13 suns, more so than usual."

"I have? Sister does not seem to think I have." Merrick replied.

"Do not jest with me, Son," Kaiken retorted, "For 21 suns in a row, you have completely disappeared, save for the full moon."

"Surely you are mistaken, Father," Merrick said, "I always wear the trace, so Razirah Denizyr can always track me no matter where I go."

"You know what I mean, Son," Kaiken said, glaring down at his Adra, "And you will address me properly." Merrick glared back at him, "... Now. As I said, your Mother has expressed concerns about you that are very serious. I need you to be honest with me," Kaiken then leered at the dainty metal chain on Merrick's left wrist, "Your Mother tells me you carry the scent of human about you."

Merrick's eyes strained as he heard this, "Not just this time, but she claims to feel this scent on you when we come to these waters. Why she has chosen to withhold this mention, I do not know..." Kaiken glared angrily at the Adra Triton. His big dark eyes narrowed as he looked at him, "What do you do for your personal training, Son?" He inquired, "I have never heard of this sort of thing before..." Merrick remained silent, as he locked his eyes with his father.

"Refusing to answer?" Kaiken asked. He floated up-close and personal to the smaller merman, "It will be wise for you to respond from this point forward, Son," He said in a low, lethal tone. After a short pause, he began to speak again, "Have you, or have you not made contact with a human?" There was a pause between the two males. Merrick closed his eyes and lowered his head.

"... I have..."

Triton Kaiken rumbled at the answer, "You know it is forbidden, Son... What reason could you possibly have for making contact with those savages?"

Merrick's fist clenched around his trident as he hovered there. He remained silent as his stomach burned with both guilt and anger.

"You know full well what humans are capable of... How can you be so careless?!" Kaiken raised his voice, "How many times have you met this human?? How long have you kept this secret from us?? From your POD? Worse than that, you put yourself at risk! If it wanted to, that human could have snatched you up into the sky! You would be lost forever, you KNOW that, Son! In the presense of a human, you are NEVER safe!"

"... But how can you know that, Father?" Merrick asked. Kaiken widened his eyes as he stared at his son.

"What did you say?"

"How do you know that, Father??" Merrick repeated, lifting up his head and looking at his parent with eyes of hurt, "Have you even SEEN a human snatch a merperson into the sky? Have we ever seen a human ride a giant gull into war? Have we ever witnessed humans create weapons from lava? Or watch as they change and create mountains?!"

"You never have to see their atrocities, Son, do you not understand?!" Kaiken said, "The Sacred Laws exist for a reason: to protect us from the humans and from going astray!"

"Who is REALLY to say what is right and wrong anymore, Father??" Merrick demanded, "We believe such horrifying tales about the humans, but have we ever bare witness to their calamities?! Have you ever seen ANYTHING of the dangers humans pose to our kind?"

"I HAVE!" Kaiken bellowed, "My MOTHER was taken from me, Son!" Merrick gasped, both at the volume of his father, and at the reply, "She was stolen and killed before my very eyes by pirates, Son!"

"You can't possibly believe all humans are cruel and dark from one act of monsters, Father!" Merrick replied.

"And how can you verify that they are not?!" Kaiken responded, "Did the human you know tell you??"

"..." Merrick paused, before taking his conviction, "Yes, it did, Father. It told me many things about humans and how they really are."

"Those were LIES, Son! LIES!" Kaiken shouted exasperatedly, "It was trying to coax information of our world out of you by presenting fallacies to you! Do you not have control over your own senses??"

"I do, Father!"

"No, you do not!" Kaiken said as he turned round, continuing with the ranting, "That human was investigating you! Drawing you closer and closer to your mind, prying to find our world!" Kaiken turned and swam to his son, "Can you not understand me?!" He said as he took hold of Merrick's shoulder, "I do not wish to see my own Adras meeting the same fate of my Mother..." He growled lowly as he shook his head, "No one should have suffered what I have seen. You cannot return to that human, lest you surrender your life and soul to the demons of land and sky."

"You are speaking in blindness, Father," Merrick replied, "The human never once tried to strike me or harm me..."

"It was trying to convince you of false innocence!" Kaiken retorted as he drifted away, and looked out into the ocean again, "You give your trust so easily to a monster, was it so difficult for the Phantasma to swallow you??"

"That is not the same thing, and you know it, Father!" Merrick shot out.

"Is it not??" Kaiken said as he turned and glared at his son, "I think you WANTED to be swallowed!" Merrick looked at him with hurtful shock, "So that you can never reveal your secret!"

"Do you hear yourself, Father?!"

"Do you, Son? You dare question the Sacred Laws! You understand nothing! You are weak! You have allowed a human to twist and distort your mind! You must NOT allow yourself to risk your existence for the sake of a monster! Can you not see its deception?! It will strip you of your soul and trap you forever-"

"I LOVE HIM, FATHER!"

The statement seemed to linger in the water. Merrick's gills flared as he breathed deeply, glaring at his father, shaking with rage. Kaiken looked absolutely dumb-founded.

"... Him?" He finally said, "Him??? ... Him, you love HIM?"

Merrick felt a purge of fear as he just realized what he just blurted out. Kaiken's gills flared as well as he too shook with anger, his widened eyes blazing with wrath "YOU LOVE HIIIIIIIM?!?!" Merrick gasped as the Triton suddenly charged at him. The Adra yelped as his father's trident launched forth, and snagged him on his throat! Merrick grunted and wheezed as his own trident drifted off from his hand, and he was slammed onto the reef, with two of the prongs of Kaiken's trident pressing down on his neck, restricting his breathing.

"Hhnngghhh!" Merrick wheezed as his tail whipped about weakly. His webbed hands pulled at the trident, but it's no use; he's pinned down.

"You... You dare commit it... You DARE commit more than one taboos?!"

"Fah... Father..." Merrick grunted as he squirmed.

"You DARE give yourself to a HUMAN?!" Kaiken bellowed, "YOU! An Adra Triton of the Piscien merfolk?!" He roared. Merrick grunted as his chest started to feel tight, "And not just a human! You have chosen a MALE!!"

"I... Couldn't... Enngghh..." Merrick clenched his eyes shut as he tried in vain to push off the large weapon off of him.

"Do you realize what you have DONE?!" Kaiken shouted, "Do you WANT to become Coshiton?! DO YOU?!" He cranked his trident to heighten the discomfort. Merrick whimpered as he hoarse voice became more strained.

"Red... Moon... Father..."

"So help me, Son, I AM going to get through to you... !" Kaiken said with a deadly rumble, "And if pain must be your teacher," Merrick gripped the trident's prongs as white tears formed around his eyes, "So be it..." He pushed his trident up more, before he raised his mighty arm to strike down.

"FATHER, NO!" Came a loud, young voice. Triton Kaiken turned his head, and gasped as he saw Adra Savarna jet up to them, and put her hands around the shaft of the trident, her eyes wisping pearly tears as she pushed at the weapon, "Don't hurt Brother, Father! Stop it, please!" Kaiken immediately pulled his trident back. Merrick gasped and sputtered as he felt his neck. The mermaid then put her arms around her brother, and pulled him away from the spot.

Minutes later, Merrick and Savarna swam to her little 'Sea Spot', and has been decorated a lot more than it has half a year ago.

"It is ok, Brother. Father will not hurt you anymore..." She said as she rubbed Merrick's arm. However, Merrick simply curled up at the base of the sand. He clenched his eyes shut as his shoulders began to shudder and jerk, "... Brother?" The young mermaid loomed around, and saw that her brother is weeping as he held himself, leaning against the rock, "Brother, it is alright! I promise, Father will not hurt you again!" Merrick only shook his head as he curled tighter, a white, glittering mist forming from his eyes as he cried. "It... It is alright, Brother..." Savarna said as she put her arms onto Merrick, taken aback by the merman's tears, "I will have Mother tell Father not to hurt you... She will not allow him to hurt your..."

Nothing she said will console Merrick in the least. She looked back in the other direction, and then back at her brother, "I-I will get your trident for you... It will be all right, Brother... You will see..." With reluctance to leave her sibling's side, she swam away, and quickly swam away to retrieve Merrick's weapon.

Adra Savarna... She truly has no idea of the hurt Merrick really feels deep inside...

---1 Week Later---

"And now, my Pod," Kaiken announced to the mass of merfolk before him, "The Time of Departure, is now!" With that, Triton Kaiken, Noita Umiato, Adra Merrick, and Adra Savarna turned, and lead the pod of merfolk into the sea.

For the past few days, Merrick and Savarna have stayed at Savarna's Sea Spot, with the Adra Triton hunting for them both, and just spending more time together. However, Merrick DID take her to Aquata Cove. She was quite amazed at the cave of glowing crystals hidden in a waterfall - she even took one add to her Sea Spot. The visit was short lived, however, as the mermaid did not eat any bullshark meat in order to be able to swim in the fresh water, and so developed a minor inflammation from the freshwater.

They returned around, once Savarna and Merrick had eaten some bull shark, but the had to retreat when Merrick sensed a human nearby. It had entered the pool, and is swimming around. Savarna wondered why Merrick looked at the human the way that he did... Saddened and longingly, as if he wanted to engage contact with it. Nonetheless, Merrick escorted his sister out of the tunnel, and the two Adras played elsewhere.

As the pod swam, Merrick rubbed his thumb along the barnacle that concealed his picture of Adam. It was all he can do without breaking into tears in front of the whole pod, to say the least if he opened the barnacle to look at the picture. At this time, Noita Umiato can sense an immense anguish inside her son. She looked sadly at him as his body gave off a large aura - mixed feelings of severe sorrow, longing, guilt... Self-hatred.

It pains her to know her son is feeling so much negative energy in his heart, and the worst part it, she does not know why his aura is so wounded. Does it have something to do with the human scent he holds when they come to these waters? Did that human scent originate from a companion of Merrick's? If so, did he lose this friend?

"HALT!" Kaiken called. The whole pod stopped swimming. Kaiken sent out a few long reaching signals up ahead. He scowled as he scanned ahead, listening for the details up ahead, "Something colossal is ahead. It is piercing the ocean floor..." He said aloud, "We must travel around-"

BOOOOOOM!!

Before they can take the alternate route, there was a huge noise out of the endless void. The merfolk screamed from the sudden rapture. Kaiken glared forth, and gasped, "SIRENS!" He roared out as a small handful of vivid red and violet, twin-tailed merfolk sang savage melodies as they raced towards the pod. "Arm yourselves!!"

The merfolk scrambled about calling to one another - the mermen readying their spears and the mermaids holding their short bows and poison spiral-shell arrows to strike.

The sirens spotted the pod, and jet towards them. The sped and loomed around the blue, green, and purple pod. The merfolk clashed with the cannibalistic sirens, both males and females singing their mad tunes as they frenzied into the pod. Biting into the merfolk, and getting attacked in return.

Merrick snarled as he swung his trident at a male siren. It simply taunted him as it laughed its musical voice, goading on the Adra Triton even more as the blue and silver merman charged at it. The red and purple siren whirled around Merrick as it continued to sing at him. As highly skillful as Merrick is, this siren is too fast; he only managed to get in a scratch at a time.

The sound of the singing male was beginning to make Merrick dizzy. He knows the song is starting to enter his mind and distort his thinking. If he doesn't end it now, he will be at the ruthless mercy of the sadistic siren, just like...

Merrick let out a shriek of anger as he swung his trident in a manic way, making the siren falter for just a moment - one moment that Merrick needed! "PERISH NOW!!!" He hastily thrust his trident into the stomach of the siren. It screamed and bare its razor sharp teeth. Merrick released a fear-instilling call as he took a fishing knife from a notch in one of his sharkteeh belts, and carved into the siren's head!

Once the creature was dead, Merrick yanked out his trident, and swam ahead... Or was it backward?

Adra Merrick looked around. He feels so disoriented, the song is still in effect - it's totally distorted his sense of direction. The merman spiraled about, trying to figure out which way is left. Where is right again? Up and down isn't the same thing, are they? He tried swimming up, but he felt the water getting heavier as he went. He whined as he swam in any direction, his whole sense of balance is completely thrown off.

As he swerved about, Merrick began to taste something... Disgusting. He gagged as he tried to huff out more water to get the taste out, but only more of it seeped into him! He looked about, discovering the blue ocean has been darkened in a mass of blackness!

Then, his gills began to feel... Slippery and raspy, like pain is racking in his gills. It's getting harder to breathe and they hurt like crazy! Merrick swam around frantically, trying to find the surface! Where's the surface!? Did it just disappear?! Where's the rest of his pod?! What happened?! Did the sirens kill them all off?! If so, why haven't they come for him, yet???

Merrick gagged as he struggled to find the surface. He cringed and grunted horribly as his insides began to churn and ache, as if his stomach is full of writhing urchins! His mouth gapped more as he became unable to breathe, choking on the very water he's lived in for so long.

Everything in his line of vision is blurring. His world is turned completely upside down. His head is spinning as everything became dark. He moaned weakly as he drifted into darkness.

"... Adam..." He uttered quietly as he passed into nothingness, "... Aa ... Dah..."

The next thing he can feel is coldness, but heat as well. Cold and heat playing on his body as he also felt the rush of the winds. Something is patting his face as the darkness became lighter and lighter.

"... Merrick..." Echoed a familiar voice. His name bounced in his head as his eyes peered, squinting from the burst of light above him, "Merrick!" Echoed the voice again, "Merrick! ... Please wake up, baby! ... MERRICK!"

The light around the figure slowly came into focus, "Merrick! Open your eyes!"

"Unnngghhh..." Merrick groaned as he still felt heavy and very ill.

"Merrick?! MERRICK"

"... Ah... Adam..." He croaked very weakly. He lift up a trembling, webbed hand to the human's cheek, "My Adam..." Adam sniffled and wept as he took Merrick's cold, oily hand, and held it in place against his cheek. Merrick felt himself smile as his palm pressed in on the somewhat prickly spot on Adam's face.

"Merrick..." Adam sobbed as tears rolled down his face.

"Adam... You came for me..." Merrick uttered weakly, "I broke our hearts..." shimmering white tears formed around the Adra's eyes as he looked up at soaked human, his heart soaring in happiness and confusion, "And you came for me..."

"I love you, Merrick..." Adam said as he pulled the headband off of his head, pressing his forehead against the other, "I'm never letting you go again..." He held Merrick close to him, holding him tight, "Never, never never..." Adam said as he cried even more.

~~~

"Those damn boys..." Yuri said as she stood at the sandy back lawn, "Who the hell do they think they are?? Taking Dad's boat..." She turned to the sea, and spotted the motorboat in the distance. "THERE they are..." She crossed her arms as she spotted Jamal at the controls.

Soon, the boat came to a slowing halt. The Japanese girl glared daggers as she stalked up to the shore, as Adam hopped off, splashing onto the water, and wading quickly through the shore, carrying someone wrapped in shells and seaweed, "Where the hell have you guys been?!" She demanded as Adam approached her, "Where do you get off?! Joy riding my father's boat like that?! Who do you think-"

"Yuri!" Adam called out, as a wave of water hit him, and splashed onto the person he's holding, "Please, I need your help!"

"Adam, who're are you-" Yuri gasped and clapped her hands to her mouth as she saw Merrick looking like he's sleeping in Adam's arms, a lot of water splashed onto him, showing large blotches of blue scales and a line of black frill on his legs, which are partially melded together from the water.

"It's Merrick! He's sick, please, Yuri!" Adam pleaded. Yuri said as she saw Adam's eyes, looking pink and swollen from crying, "Help him..."

"Lets take him to my room, quickly" She said as she rushed back up the sand.

Merrick moaned weakly as Adam carried him to the house, and into Yuri's room. She readied a rollaway bed, with a towel laid down on top of it. He gently placed Merrick onto it, and he dried him off with another towel, making his legs and various parts of his body appear as human. Yuri watched as the blue scales slowly melted into droplets of water.

She and Adam removed Merrick's sharkteeth crossbelts and shell-shoulders, leaving him wearing only the bracelet and his necklace. Merrick moaned weakly as his skin looked... Oily. Even his blonde hair is damp with a wet darkness.

"Alright, I'm going to need some time," Yuri told softly to Adam, "Just stay in the living room, and wait for me there."

"Ok..." Adam said, as he looked nervously at Merrick, then at Yuri, "Please, Yuri-"

"I'll do what I can, Adam..." She said as she had him leave her room. He sighed as the door closed, and he went to the living room. He sat down on the couch, before Jamal sat beside him. Adam huffed, and sniffled, before putting his hands to his face, and started to sob. Jamal scooted over, and out his arm around Adam, patting him gently.

+++

"Ennngghhh..." Merrick gurgled as he peered out, his eyes looking darkened and red around his blue irises, "Adam..." He mumbled.

"Just stay calm, Merrick," Yuri said as she hooked up the earbuds to her stethoscope to her ears, and pressed a cold pad onto Merrick's stomach.

"Yu... Yuri..." He moaned.

"It's ok, you're back at the house..." She said softly as she moved the stethoscope.

"Adam... He said... You're a... Healer?" He asked drearily.

"Training to be one, anyway" She said, "I'm gonna need you to stay quiet..." She said as she pressed it over Merrick's chest. Yuri frowned as she took the earbuds out of her head, and went to her desk, "Ok, Adam said you're sick, so if you feel you need to throw up, use this," She said as she then placed a small canister next to the cot.

She then took a small flashlight, and looked held it to Merrick's eyes, holding the eyelids open, "Oh my gosh..." She uttered. The blue irises had darkened, his pupils are dilated, the whites around his eyes are bloodshot, with a shade of blackness around, "I've never seen anything like this... What in the world has happened to you..."

She sat down next to him, and placed an armband around his left bicep. "Are you experiencing any nausea, tight chest, dizziness?"

"Wh... Whaa?" Merrick mumbled.

"Tell me how you're feeling right now."

"I... I..." Merrick gurgled, and started to cough. Yuri picked up the tub, and helped Merrick up.

"Go ahead, let it out..." Merrick then began to gag before vomiting a mess of blood, oil, and various other chunks.

---

Adam flinched as he heard Merrick from the other room, moaning and coughing violently. Another tear rolled down his face as he listened from the couch.

+++

Once Merrick lay back down, whimpering painfully, Yuri wiped his mouth, and sat down to her computer to type, and the band started to inflate. Merrick gasped and started to writhe, coughing as he tried to tug the band off of his arm, but to no avail

"Wh-What are you doing?!" Merrick yelped.

"It's ok! It's ok, calm down, Merrick!" Yuri said as she held him down, "It's supposed to do that, I'm just taking a look at your blood pressure." Merrick whimpered as he reluctantly stayed still as the band got tighter and tighter. It stopped, and shrunk a little. A little more. One more time. Then, it deflated, and Yuri took ripped the velcro off of around his arm, and checked the stats on the computer.

"... Not good." She said as she put the arm band away, "Your blood pressure and pulse are extremely low... If you even know what that means..." She took out a small, plastic object, a bandaid, a few cotton balls, a few thin, glass tube, and a disinfectant wipe. She rubbed Merrick's finger with the wet wipe.

"What... What're you doing??" He asked.

"I'm taking a few blood samples. I need to know what I'm dealing with here," She then put the plastic cube onto Merrick's fingertip, "This is going to hurt."

CHKT!

"Nhhh!" Merrick flinched as a very sharp point stabbed into his finger, seeing a drop of dark blood seep from his finger. Yuri held the glass tube with the drop of blood, and squeezed Merrick's finger to draw more red fluid from it. Once she collected enough blood in the very small tubes, she took a cotton swab, and wiped up Merrick's finger before wrapping it with a band-aid.

---

Jamal offered a glass of orange juice to Adam, which he shook his head to, and ran his fingers through his hair.

+++

Yuri looked under her microscope, at the blood from Merrick.

"... I really don't like the looks of this..." She muttered. She then took off one of her rubber gloves, "I need a second opinion on this..." She plucked up a sanitary wipe and another finger-prick. She wiped off her own finger, and took a sample of her blood.

Once she put it on a glass slide, she put it under the microscope in order to compare it to Merrick's blood sample.

---

It felt like hours since Yuri and Merrick have been in there. Adam paced back and forth, while Jamal sat on the couch, twiddling his thumbs and staring at the coffee table. Adam gasped as he heard Yuri's door open. He dashed up to her as she left her room, and closed the door.

"Yuri! Is he-"

"Shhhh," Yuri shushed him. "Lets talk outside." With that, Yuri, Adam, and Jamal walked out the front door.

"H-How is he Yuri?? Please tell me he's gonna be ok..." He said, fresh tears already forming in his eyes.

"He's not doing well at all," She said, "He's suffering from a very bad case of blood poisoning. That's ONLY a guess," She then took out a small, plastic bag, containing one of the small tubes with a blood sample, "Here is the plasma sample I extracted from him," Adam looked and cringed as he saw half the tube filled with red, the middle of it black, and the rest of it clear yellow.

"Adam, he has oil in his BLOOD," She said, "It's like it was injected into him!"

"Yuri..." Adam trembled head to foot.

"And now I have a question for you, Adam, and I'd appreciated it if you are completely honest with me," Yuri then looked Adam directly in the eye.

"What IS he?"

Adam stared back at her, "Yuri-"

"Don't lie to me, Adam. What IS he??" She plucked up the stethoscope around her neck, "I listened to several areas of his body, and NOTHING sounds right in there!" She crossed her arms as she looked at him, "Then there was when you brought him here from the boat, and he... Changed when the water splashed on him. Tell me, Adam," She said very sternly, "RIGHT now."

Adam sighed, and looked down. And then looked back up, "Alright... There's something about Merrick I didn't tell you guys. Something I lied about, partially for his protection, and partially because I didn't think you guys would believe me.

"Merrick is a merman."

Yuri raised her thin eyebrows, "He's... What???"

"Is true, Yuri," Jamal said as he nodded, "It's true, I saw him when Adam hauled him on the boat."

"This morning, there was a news report about an oil spill and..." Adam rubbed the back of his head, "I don't know how or why, but... I felt I had to find him... Like I KNEW he was out there."

"NOW will you tell us why he broke up wit chu?" Jamal asked. Adam sighed and nodded.

"He's... Sort of a prince among merfolk..."

"How can he be SORT of a prince?" Yuri asked.

"Well, they don't use the word 'Prince' - they say 'Adra'. See, in a pod of merfolk, they have two leaders: Triton, the 'King', and Noita, the 'Queen'. And their children are called 'Adras'. In his pod, Merrick is the Adra Triton, and he has a sister called the Adra Noita.

"See, in order for a Triton to lead a pod, they have to fall in love with a mermaid, and make her a Noita from the connection. And vice versa if a Noita happens to fall in love with a merman. Eventually, an Adra Triton has to either succeed the pod, or start a new one of his own. And... Well..."

"He can't lead a pod and be with you at the same time..." Yuri said.

"Exactly..." Adam said.

"Wut about that bit about you bein his mistake and all?" Jamal asked.

"Yeah, he DID say that. And it hurt," Adam said shortly, "A lot. And... When I think about it, he DOES have a point, but..." Adam sighed and continued, "That's why I told you he's a Nudist; merfolk don't see the point in clothing - the most they'll wear are shells, kelp, and other little things. They're perfectly comfortable walking around naked. I also told you that he has issues and Anthropophobic, because he IS afraid of humans - ALL merfolk are afraid of humans - they believe all sorts of ludicrous atrocities about them. I also asked you guys to not ask him any questions about his life because he doesn't know anything about human society."

Adam sighed, and rubbed the back of his neck, "I'm sorry I lied to you guys about this, you know I hate lying, but as I said, it was for his protection, and because I didn't think you'd believe me. And even if you did, he wouldn't be willing to come over to meet you; remember last month, you guys met by accident."

"So..." Yuri began, "Is this why you can only see him for a month after 6 months?"

"Yeah," Adam said as he nodded, "His pod migrates and travels around the ocean."

"Then... What about those pictures? Why does he look human now?"

"I took a lot more pictures than that; I only showed you the ones where he wasn't in his true form. See, most merfolk change when they dry up. They morph into human-shape when the water leaves their bodies. But any spot that gets wet with water transmutes back into scales and such.

"A-Anyway, we can talk about this later! We need to get Merrick to a hospital!" Adam said.

"Yeah! I'll go get the-" Jamal began.

"No, guys..." Yuri sighed and looked down, "That isn't going to work..."

"Wh-Why not??" Adam asked, "Yuri, please, I don't want to lose him again!"

"Adam... He doesn't have any medical records, family records, no history at all in any place," She explained, "The papers alone would take hours to compile. Even if he was taken in... There's nothing the doctors can do for him..."

"Wh-What're you talking about??" Adam said as he held her shoulders.

"Adam, there's OIL in his BLOOD. There's no cure for oil poisoning. The only think I can think of that could help would be a transfusion, but that's no use. My scanner can't make heads or tails of his blood type. Adam..." Yuri said as she shook her head, "I don't even know if we should take him to a doctor or a vet."

"..." Adam looked in horror as he let go of her, "Yuri..." He slowly stepped away, "Anything...?" Yuri held her hand to her eyes as she suppressed a tear; she feels so useless, after all her training and schooling to save lives, there's nothing she can do to save the love of her friend's life.

Adam then turned to the wall pressed his forehead onto the wall, and held his head as he felt himself tear up.

"C'mon, gurl!" Jamal said, "They's... There's gotta be SOMETHIN we can do! We can't just let him die like this!"

"Wh-What about his family? O-O-Or, pod, couldn't THEY help?? Let's just take them to his pod."

"We can't..." Adam croaked, "We have no idea where they could be, and besides that, contact with humans is strictly forbidden. They find out he's had anything to do with me, they'll banish him..."

"Then why do we have to take him?" Yuri persisted, "Why not just leave him in the water, and wait for them to show up? If he's a prince to them, then he'd be too important to just leave behind. Do they know how to track? Maybe they've been looking for him."

"... Yeah..." Adam said as he turned around, "Tha-That shell slice on his necklace - that's how they keep track of each other, no matter where they are."

"Ok... Why don't you talk things over with him, see if he has any input on what to do."

"Alright..."

~~~

Merrick grunted as he lay there, his own body feeling filthy and heavy. He opened his eyes as he heard some soft footsteps, "Adam..." He muttered, his voice very feeble and raspy.

Adam felt his eyes water up once more as he looked at his lover, "Hi baby..." He whimpered as he pulled up a chair, "H-How are feeling?"

"I'm..." Merrick winced for a moment, "I'm dying, Adam..."

"No no no, don't talk like that, sweetie, you're gonna be fine," Adam said, "We'll get your mother here, and she can heal you, right? You said Noitas are the healers of your pod, you're going to be alright-"

"No, Adam..." Merrick said, "The black blood of the earth..." He whispered, "It's a poison, otherwise known as the Shroud of Death..." He moaned, "There is no healing me..." Merrick whimpered. He reopened his eyes, and looked at his human. Adam whimpered as he looked into those sickened eyes, "Adam... I'm so sorry..." He grunted as he lifted up his shaking hand. Adam held his weak hand, feeling a weird residue on his skin, "I am so sorry, I said those things to you... I can never forgive myself for breaking you... Shattering your heart..."

Adam sniffled as he wiped his eyes "Why, Merrick? Why did you try and break us up? Is it because you're an Adra Triton?"

"In part... But in truth, it was futile to try and leave you behind..."

"What do you mean?"

The merman took a deep breath, pausing before looking to his human, "... Adam... What is love to humans?" Merrick asked.

"Well... It's uncertain; it's confusing, it's awesome, potentially painful, and very elusive... Humans, we... We look for people to date, go out with. It doesn't always work, and we have girlfriends and boyfriends. And eventually, they can fall in love with each other, and stay together... But... It is difficult... A lot of people never find their true love..."

"Hmph," Merrick snorted, "How clueless and primitive," He blinked slowly, and took a deep breath, "For us merfolk, it is just the opposite.

"Under the night of a red moon - a Lunar Eclipse, as you humans call it - Pods of merfolk gather together, and swim in a spiraling frenzy. These small spirits, called Undines, appear as well, on these rare nights, and frolic with us, for it is they who emanate the love of Sea Mother Atargatis, and allow us to find our mate..."

"... On the night of the 3rd red moon since I became eligible for love... I have once again failed to find a mermaid to become my Noita when the time has come to succeed my pod..." He closed his eyes again as more pearly white tears seeped through, "Humiliated, I swam awa... I wanted to be alone... And then... An Undine came to me," Merrick said as he spoke lowly, "It was curious to see me... But it disappeared shortly after finding me...

"And then... I heard a voice... A very strange voice..." He opened his eyes again, "I followed it to the surface, and saw a human... A human male..." He smiled as he chuckled weakly, "He had a short patch of black baleen on his head, and he wore a bunch of sails around his body. He was moving so strangely and chanting some absurd prayer or hymn of some sort... Or, I suppose he was just singing; at the time, I still did not know any male could sing...

"I was fascinated... He did not fit any description of any horror fable of humans I've ever heard... I followed him along the reef, until he saw me... He didn't even know we had made eye contact, and then... His baleen began to shimmer, and his eyes gleamed with the beautiful aura of the Sea Mother's love, as did other parts of his body... Hheheh... He didn't even realize he was glowing, even when he saw me... I was hiding behind a rock... And then he spoke to me... He came into the water, but I was too scared... I couldn't even talk to him. That's when I realized that I was glowing as well. My body too, was reflecting the light of the red moon... A magenta light dancing upon my tail..."

Merrick turned his head at his awestruck human, "You and I are bonded, Adam... You will always be mine, and I will always be yours..." Adam sniffled, and cried as he wiped his eyes, "I am sorry... But you can never love another man, and I can never love any one else. And they cannot fall in love with us," He reopened his eyes, "No mermaid, no merman can ever become infatuated with me. As neither any man nor woman can ever be infatuated with you. It is a solemn gift of the Sea Mother's tender love."

"But then," Adam said, his voice thick with emotion, "If that's true... Why did you try to end it between us??"

"... My Mother and Father... They are beginning to suspect that I have had human contact... Mother saw the bracelet you gave me, and she can see the affection coming from it..." His fingers tightened around Adam's hand, "I didn't know if the principle of love would apply to a human..." He smiled weakly as tears continued to drip from his eyes, "Even though I wounded your heart... Even after I shattered you in the inside... You still love me..." He exhaled again, "I panicked... I feared I would be banished, and so I tried to leave you behind..." Merrick shook his head, "I could not have been more wrong..." He frowned as he looked at the ceiling, "It is only a matter of time before they discover that I cannot fall for a mermaid. I cannot become a complete Triton without a Noita..."

"Merrick..." Adam sobbed, "Why can't you live with me? Leave your pod and just be here with me?" Merrick moaned and shook his head, "Please... If you're going to get banished eventually anyway, why not stay here???"

"I cannot, Adam. I belong to the sea... I can never leave the ocean behind... And my pod is precious to me..." Merrick said, "I am the Adra Triton, I have a responsibility to my people... I am torn, between my love for you and my devotion the my... My family..."

"What about Belinda? She's a mermaid, and she lives among humans. She lives near the sea too, that's all she needs." Adam persisted.

"She is a Latolcus, Adam," Merrick responded in disgust, "She has capabilities that aren't normal to have. She stole most of her talents and abilities - walking, able to live out of the ocean, and so on. I cannot do the same as her..."

The merman winced as he felt his stomach, as it gurgled violently, "And now... Enngghh... I'm dying, Adam..." He said as tears continued to flow, "I still don't know what I should've done... If saving you from that siren WAS a mistake..." Adam held Merrick's hand to his lips, "I'm glad... That I made it..." Adam shook as he cried, tightly holding his hand.

"Please, Merrick," Adam sobbed, "There has to be SOMETHING... Please," He was close to going hysterical, "Don't make me lose you again..." His voice is heavy with sadness, "I don't want to lose you again, I'm not strong enough, please don't die on me..." He pleaded, "I need you, Merrick, don't..." Adam clenched his eyes shut as he cried more, "I can't live without you..."

"..." Merrick stayed quiet for a while. Adam wept as he held Merrick's oily hand, "Sing for me?" He asked, "Please... I want to hear you..." Merrick trailed off. Adam slowly nodded, and took a minute to breath deeply, trying to steady himself, before thinking up a song to give Merrick.

"~~If I never knew you

~~If I never felt this love

~~I would have no inkling of

~~How precious life can be...

"~~And if I never held you

~~I would never have a clue

~~How at last I'd find in you

~~The missing part of me...

"~~In this world so full of fear

~~Full of rage and lies

~~I can see the truth so clear

~~In your eyes

~~So dry your eyes...

"~~And I'm so grateful to you

~~I'd hve lived my whole life through

~~Lost forever

~~If I never knew you...

Adam held back more tears as he kept imagining all the good times he shared with Merrick. Swimming with him, exchanging questions, kissing, the wonderful bursts of passion... He tried hard to block it out to keep singing.

"~~If I never knew you

~~I'd be safe but half as real

~~Never knowing I could feel

~~A love so strong and true...

"~~I'm so grateful to you

~~I'd have lived my whole life through

~~Lost forever

~~If I never knew you...

"~~I thought our love would be so beautiful

~~Somehow we'd make the whole world bright

~~I never knew that fear and hate could be so strong

~~All they'd leave us were these whispers in the night But still my heart is saying we were right...

"~~Oh if I never knew you

~~There's no moment I regret

~~If I never felt this love

~~Since the moment that we met

~~I would have no inkling of

~~If our time has gone too fast

~~How precious life can be...

~~I've lived at last...

Merrick smiled peacefully as he could think of everything he's done with Adam. Yanking off his swimming trunks and hiding them, being cradled in Adam's arms, going shopping in the pier... He let all these images flow into his head as he slowly faded into slumber.

"~~I thought our love would be so beautiful

~~Somehow we'd make the whole world bright

~~I thought our love wuold be so beautiful

~~We'd turn the darkness into light

~~And still my heart is saying we were right

~~We were right...

"~~And if I never knew you

~~If I never knew you

~~I'd have lived my whole life through

~~Empty as the sky...

~~Never knowing why

~~Lost forever

~~If I never knew you..."

Adam stopped. He couldn't sing anymore. He looked to see Merrick's eyes closed. He put his head to the merman's chest.

...

...

... *Ba-Thump*

It's faint, but he can hear a heartbeat. He sniffled, and stood up, going into the living room, and facing his two roommates.

"... He's dying..." He said, plain and simple. Yuri covered her mouth as Jamal stared at him. "He said there is no cure for the oil... That there is no way to help him..." Jamal stepped closer to him.

"Adam... I'm so sorry..."

"... I... I need to be alone." He strode away from them, ignoring anything they'd have to say, and ran out of the house. He dashed out to the beach. Stopping at the shore, and dropped to his knees. He hunched over and dug his fingers into his hair, weeping uncontrollably.

"No... Goddammit, NOOOOO!" He yelled out, "Not him... NOT him!! Please, dammit, ANYONE but him!!!" He panted and sobbed as he cried. Adam sat back as the waves washed up to his feet, "He's so full of life..." He whimpered.

Adam looked up at the cloudy sky, "... God... Or, Sea Mother... Whatever's up there... Please... Give me something... Anything... Don't do this to him..."

Minutes pass by, and the sun is setting. He whimpered and shuddered as he got up on his feet, before he suddenly gasped.

There, on the rock near the reef, is a young, pearly mermaid. Her body is frilled and white with a tinge of light blue, opalescent, almost, wearing a string of pearls around her neck and waist. Instead of hair, she has long tendrils of frill hanging from her head. She has frilly membranes over her chest, and on either side of her tail. She just sat there, starring at Adam with a mixture of fear and curiosity.

He took one step, and she jerked back, "Wa-Wa-Wa-Wait!" Adam quickly said as he held up his hands. The mermaid lowered her body to the rock as her eyes stayed locked on the human.

"Please, don't go... I need your help..." The small mermaid blinked and gave him a strange look, "Do you understand me?" He asked. There was a short pause before the mermaid slowly nodded, "D-Do you know Merrick??" The mermaid nodded again, "H-He's the Adra, right? Adra Merrick?" She nodded again, confirming that.

"He's sick, he's VERY sick! He was swimming in the uh..." Adam paused, snapping his fingers, "Uh... The oil, he was swimming in oil... Oh! The blood of the earth? Cloud of - No, the Shroud of Death?" The mermaid gasped again as her eyes began to water with glittering white tears. "He tells me that there isn't a cure, but please..." He shook his head at as he looked at her.

"Please... Talk to me... Is there way to save him? Do you know anything that might help? ANYTHING at all???" The mermaid stayed silent, "Please say something-" He took one step, and the mermaid turned and dove into the water, "NO WAIT!" He held his hand out. He let down his arm and stood there listening to the wash of the waves.

 

Feare

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