Aquata Cove Chapter 27: Coshiton

"Mmmm! Mmmmffffrrrmm!" Adam grunted and squirmed as he is pulled into the sea, feeling his whole body being pressed all around by the increased density of the water, just like before with Umiato! Only this time, it's more... Sudden, almost hostile.

Suddenly, Adam was shoved roughly against the reef. "RRRNNNGGHHH!" He grunted as he felt his neck grabbed. He opened his eyes to see a pearly white mermaid. A young, frilly sea creature with a seaweed band around her head with a spiral shell slice tucked in, and a string of pearls around her neck. She growled and kissed at him as she pinned him down.

"Yooooouuu!!" She said, her voice so lethal and ragged with rage, "You took my Brother away from me!!"

'Brother'? A young, white mermaid, and this one is too small to be Umiato. 'Oh snap!' Adam thought, 'This is his SISTER?!' Adam then flinched when he saw her other arm lift up a spear that has been broken in half, and bound together with fishing line. He looked as a stingray barb as also been tied at the end of it. It shimmered with a light along the shaft, before migrating to the end of it.

"You took him from me, Human!" She said to him. She glared fiery daggers at him as she bared her teeth. She looks so full of hatred, and what does she mean?? He TOOK Merrick away from her??? His eyes looked along the shaft of the weapon, and spotted a barnacle with a metal tab on it.

That's MERRICK'S trident! What's SHE doing with it?!

"If I kill you..." Adam's eyes widened at what she said, "He can come back! You will die! I will have my Brother BACK!"

The mermaid drew the spear back, and sunk her spear into his Adam's right pec!

"RAAGGGHHH!" Adam clenched his eyes shut as that stinger stabbed into him! The mermaid yanked it out, yielding a cloud of blood from his chest.

"Where is your heart?! I will rip it out of you!" The vicious mermaid savagely said. She carved into Adam again, before the spear was removed promptly. The mermaid growled as a webbed hand grabbed her by the arm, and attempted to pull her back. She struggled and growled as she writhed from the unseen force pulling her away.

In a fit of anger, the mermaid brandished the shimmering spear, whirled around, and slashed the stranger across the torso!

Merrick yelped a shaky cry as his webbed hands clutched at himself. The mermaid suddenly gasped as the merman faltered to the reef, clutching at the gash across his chest and midsection as blood drew out of his wound.

"Brossannn!" The mermaid said as she went to him, "Sonaarrus! Heemoorrreen konneerrii" She spoke in a series of strange moans and noises at the blue and silver merman, pulling at his hand and tried to take him from the reef.

"Noorraaan," Merrick said, as he shook his head, and pulled his arm back, "Koraaatuss sanna."

"Eegonna doreetta!" The mermaid replied, sounding upset. She shook her head slowly and spoke more, "Brossan... Dorakiinnaa!! Kensooorrraaata! Konnerrii!" Adam has no idea what they could be saying, only adding more confusion to the situation, along with the growing sting in his body.

"Seetoorruuun!" Merrick said, grunting in pain as his wound sparked with red static, as with Adam's injury. Adam grunted as his right arm started to feel a very vicious sting, along with going numb, "... Meforruunn taeekeen..." Merrick grunted as he tried to speak through the pain, "Mefoorii, Sissan... Kesshhhiiinn..." He said as he put his hand onto his sister's shoulder. The mermaid backed away from him.

"Secoootana!" She said angrily, "Mefforruunn haaseennaata seroooum!" She then slashed at Merrick's tail, making him yelp in pain before she turned around, grabbed Adam, and swam off with him.

"MERRICK!!!" Adam called as he reached his left arm out as the mermaid forcefully carried him away.

"Aaaddaaaaa!" Merrick called back, reaching out for him, but his mystic injuries sparking and paralyzing him from swimming any further.

~~~

Adam struggled against the mermaid's hold. She must have some binding spell on him, because he can barely writhe in her grip. "I will take to the depths!" She hissed, "When you are gone, he will see he can come back!" She growled at him. Adam tried more and more to squirm his way out of her grip.

This mermaid... Merrick's sister, she's supposed to be the Adra Noita, the child mystic of the pod... But she's so young! Then again, whatever magic she put in those strikes, the pain his driving Adam crazy! And being in the seawater isn't helping - the salinity is intensifying the stinging bite of the injuries.

"Please..." Adam said, his voice low and distorted as the mermaid rushed them deeper and deeper. He can feel his ears start to ring and ache as the water's pressure increased. He can't even move, from the harsh, freezing depth, and from the pain sparking inside his body, "I love him..." He managed to say, "Let me go..."

Just then, there came a drawling, raspy screech. Adam and looked to see a scary image; a white snake humanoid jetting through the water, a black, swirling tattoo on her shoulder, bait tackle around her neck, fish hooks attached to her two gills, her long, serpentine tail whipping back and forth, her razor sharp teeth baring as she zoomed towards them.

Merrick's sister looked, and hissed viciously at the incoming Holsien. Adam grunted as he felt the mermaid's arm wrap around his neck and push the stingray barb at his stomach. Adam clenched his eyes as he could feel the biting energy graze at his skin, besides the agonizing fire already electrifying his wounds. The Piscien mermaid called out an anger-filled screech at the other mermaid, as if threatening to kill Adam if she came any closer.

The snake-like mermaid opened her jaws, and let out an echoing cry as she clapped her peach, clawed hands together. Adam felt a very narrow current push between him and Merrick's sister. The young mermaid growled as her arm tightened around Adam's neck, before the water seemed to yank them two of them apart.

The younger mermaid held the half-broken staff and pointed it at the Holsien mermaid. Belinda shot right at the young mermaid, and tangled with her. The Piscien shrieked with ravenous wrath as the snake whipped her tail at her. Belinda hissed as she chomped down onto the fishing line-tethered part of the spear, and broke it in half. White wisps seeped from the Piscien's eyes as she cried out as she jabbed an icy spike at the Holsien. The snake mermaid whirled around, grabbing her wrist, and pointing her hand at another direction, forcing the stream of cold energy to freeze ice blocks into the sea.

A white light came from the Piscien's palm, and slashed at the snake's tail. Belinda screamed in pain as the light crackled into her scales. She sharpened her fingernails on both hands with long, red energy as she circled around the younger mermaid. The small Piscien writhed and struggled to get away, but Belinda's snake-like body is too long, and thus formed a sort of cage around her. She cried and grunted in pain as Belinda's claws scratched in several places around the white mermaid's body.

Try as she would, the young mermaid would not struggle her way out of the forensic spiraling of the sea snake mermaid, until Belinda coiled herself tightly around the white mermaid's body.

Adam gasped as he watched Belinda's shadowy outline constrict the Adra tightly, with her neck exposed, like a serpentine vampire about to sink its teeth into its prey.

"Beeelliinnda!" Adam called out, his voice strained by the chill of the ocean, "Nooooo!" He said. The Holsien didn't seem to hear him at all. The Piscien grunted and whimpered in painful discomfort, rendered helpless in the snake's squeeze.

The young Piscien started to show discoloration from the tight wringing, until the reptilian mermaid unfurled herself from the frilly mermaid, and whipped over to the human, circled her elongated body around him, hissing threateningly at the Piscien. Without even looking at them, Merrick's sister quickly swam away, kicking her tail as hard as she could from the human and Holsien.

Belinda then turned around to Adam, and made her pointy, fingertips illuminate, and press over Adam's wounds. Adam yelped in pain as a red spark crackled and bit at her fingers.

"Ahhhsss!" She hissed. Belinda looked with concern at her friend, "No heal! Isss no heal!" Her voice, like the young mermaid, is distorted and watery, barely even comprehendable.

"Ah..." Adam struggled to say, completely stunned in this state, "Ahh... Ahhtaahh..."

"You arr too deep! You need out of deep!" Belinda then put her sharp, scaled hand to the back of Adam's head, and the other on his abdomen, and swam forth. Adam's eyes closed, unable to process any thinking. He merely submits himself to the mercy of his Holsien companion, unable to move from the pain and cold, not to mention getting the bends from going in that deep and having Belinda escorting him quickly from the icy depths.

As they swam, however, Belinda channeled her own, long-stolen magic into Adam's body through his head, and into his stomach. She knows full well what happens to humans when they dive deep into the ocean, and ascend too quickly to the surface. The shallow energy flows in his blood stream, disabling any and all sudden gaseous bubbles forming in his veins, and regulating a steady moderation for his body fluids as they continue to rise.

Through the dark haze of his vision, Adam can feel the water's temperature improve as the Holsien mermaid carried him towards the beach at his place.

"Hnnngghhh..." He can feel the motion of himself and Belinda slow down, and he could sense a familiar surrounding of the warmed water. Soon, he felt Belinda let go of his body, and swam around to look at him.

"Adaahhmm? Is you ok?" She asked. Adam grunted as he struggled to move. He is in total agony; whatever magic the mermaid put into that weapon, it's messing with the venom from the stingray barb. His muscles are locked and straining right now, severely restricting his movements. He can barely shake his head at this point, "I take you to home, I seek you halp!" She said as she put her scaly arms around him, and carried him further through the water.

Adam grunted as the horrible pain surged inside his body. He looked up, as he sensed his merman coming closer to him. He gasped as he saw Merrick, clutching onto reef, hissing and grunting in pain as he struggled to move along the rock.

And there, right behind the merman, is a strange creature, hovering behind him, nuzzling the back of his neck. It appears to be a blue and purple fish with a long, spiral-built tail, a goat-like upper body with curled up horns and glowing eyes, and two front flippers at its front. It's gleaming, golden eyes shone through the water as it pushed its maw into the back of his neck.

"Meerrriiick!" Adam said in his haze. Belinda looked at the human, then at Merrick, and gasped. The Holsien then whipped her powerful tail around and screeched a cry at the weird animal. The strange goat-fish jerked its head at the incoming snake, baring her fangs as she undulated quickly and violently at it. It bleated suddenly, whipped around, and swam as fast it can from them, soon disappearing into the deep blue.

Having sufficiently scared the creature away, Belinda turned back and swiftly returned to Adam, and carried him forth once more.

~~~

"Where IS everybody?" Yuri asked as she walked around, petting Roxas in her arms. Jamal's at work, and Adam and Merrick are off walking together on the beach...

She looked out the back front door, and gasped as she spotted a grotesque white humanoid snake, dragging Adam from the water, "Oh my God!" She said as she put Roxas down, threw back the glass door, and sprinted out to the beach, just as the white and peach monster crawled into the ocean, "ADAM!" She called out as she ran to the beach.

Yuri stopped and slid onto her knees next to Adam, looking in shock at the deep gashes and stab wounds on his torso, "Oh my God, what happened?!" She said as Adam grunted deeply, wincing and gritting his teeth on the sand.

"Yu-Yuri!" Came another voice. Yuri turned and gasped again, as she saw the same white creature, helping a blue and silver fish person from the shore, "Yu-Yuri, it's me!" The merman said, "It's Merrick! Adam's hurt!"

"Me-Merrick?!" Yuri said as she got up on her feet, and saw the cuts on Merrick's chest and tail "You're hurt too!"

"They're just scratches!" Merrick said, "They hurt bad, but it's not in my blood!" He said as he pulled himself on the sand towards his human.

Belinda then hissed as she traced her hand over herself. The peak of her head dried up, following her face and her shoulders. The water on her body is literally hovering off of her body, and dripping into the sand. Her white and peach scales peeled off into water droplets, and soon is in her human form - light pink hair, tan skin, and wearing nothing but half a string of random pearls around her neck.

She performed the same trick onto Merrick, transmuting the sharp fins on his head into blonde hair, melting his long tail into a pair of legs, "Adam!" Merrick grunted as he could barely move his legs at all as he came to his human, "Adam! Say something!" Merrick put his hands onto Adam's shoulders, and shook him, "Please, Adam, wake up!"

"He need to go to Atarah!" Belinda said as she stood up, and quickly went to Yuri. The Japanese girl gasped as the naked woman came up to her, "No fears, girl!" She said, "I shows you teh way!" Without much word from Yuri, Belinda put her hands onto Yuri's head, and pressed her thumbs over her temples. Yuri felt herself stunned as new images suddenly poured into her head.

~~~

"Nnngh... Ahh! ... Sssss, damn..." Adam hissed and grunted as Yuri tightened the sutures on his wound, before a darkened finger came in and tenderly rubbed a very weird ointment on him, "I REALLY hope Merrick doesn't have to be stitched up like this..."

"No, his were only scratches," Yuri said as she set down the needle and line, and put a gauze onto Adam's wounds, "You got yourself half-butchered."

"Mereek got off eesy," Atarah said as Yuri took a spool of white bandage. Adam grunted in pain as he sat up, and let Yuri start wrapping the bandage around his chest, "You ahh fortunate dat yorr friend ees a heala." Atarah said. Yuri smiled sheepishly.

"I'm still just an intern right now. I'm only patching him up here..." Atarah then tilted Yuri's chin up.

"Do not doubt yorrsalf down," She said, "You ah morr capabull dan most of people." Yuri smiled as she as she bound up the bandage.

"Still hurts though," Adam said, "You sure you don't have any pain killers or something? Nothing to numb it at least?" He asked.

"I have put all dat I have to yorr wounds, Adahm," Atarah said, "Stingray poison - eesy to cure. But deh powa put into deh wound still rings in deh blood. Eet well vaneesh in time, but I canno interfere wit deh enagy." She said as she klinked the jars she had out away.

"I'm gonna go check on Merrick, Adam," Yuri said before she got up, and walked out of the shack. Adam started to get up, but then winced as his injuries stung underneath the bandages.

"Seet," Atarah said as she smirked at the human, "Deh pain will be dere for a while yet." Adam sighed as he sat back down.

~~~

Merrick smiles as he looked at the bunyip floating in the crystal clear water, "Hm?" He turned his head, and saw Yuri come out of the old hut, and sit right next to him, "How is he?" He asked.

"He'll be fine. Whatever happened, she said Adam is going to be fine eventually." She said. Merrick sighed as he looked down at the river.

"I know it's not true, but I feel like this is my fault..." He said. Yuri looked at him with a quizzical.

"What? How would it be YOUR fault?"

"... It was my Sister..." Merrick said lowly.

"Your sister? You mean SHE did this?" She asked as she pointed to the scratch on Merrick's chest and abdomen.

"Yes. She's the Adra Noita of the pod... She's young, but still more powerful than all the other mermaids of the pod. Adam didn't stand a chance... These scratches, here," Merrick said as he pointed at the discontinued scratch on his two legs - those scratches are almost already gone, "When she accidentally got me on the chest, she scratched my tail so I couldn't go after her... Stingray venom mixed with magic makes for a paralyzing substance..."

"Why would she even be here in the first place? I thought your pod was supposed to be long gone by now, and isn't association with humans against the rules?" Merrick sighed as he nodded.

"Yes... She... She was trying to get me to come back to the pod... She's young; she doesn't understand that I CAN'T go back... But I never thought she would try something so drastic... To confront and attack a human..." He shook his head, "She must've been on her own; I didn't sense any other merfolk in the pod nearby..."

"... I'm sorry..." Yuri said, "She must really love you to go to such lengths..." Merrick felt a tear roll down his cheek as he nodded.

"She does... We were so close... By the depths, this is so unlike her... "

"When we lose something we hold dear," Yuri said as she put her hand on Merrick's shoulder, "We do crazy things if it meant we could get them back..." Merrick turned his head to her, "Even if it's unlikely, we do whatever it takes..." Merrick leaned towards Yuri as she put her arm around him, and hugged him.

~~~

Atarah grinds a couple of leaves with a few freshwater pearls on an old pestle. Adam shifted in his spot, and looked over to the ancient, "Say Atarah, how well do you know about ocean?" He asked.

"I know eet boundless, and eempossibill to understahnd," Atarah replied as she sprinkled a bit of powder into the paste, "What do you wan to know?"

"I saw something before we came here. And I want to make sure it doesn't get to Merrick."

"Mereek?" Atarah looked up, "He ees a strong one. He can protect heemsalf."

"I know, but he wasn't able to move this time. And something almost got to him before I could do anything." Atarah paused as she reached up for a jar. After hesitating, she moved her hand to the side, and plucked up another jar.

"Go'on." She said.

"It looked like... A half-goat, half-fish."

Atarah stopped in her meshing. She looked up, with a look of utmost shock on her face, "... The Capricorn..." She said in a hushed tone.

"Oh yeah, I guess it was a Capricorn," Adam said, "I just need to know, are they dangerous?"

"... Does he carry a mahk?" Atarah asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Mereek. Does he have a mahk on hees skin?" Atarah asked.

"... Yeah," Adam said, "On the back of his neck, he has a tattoo."

"Show me. Deh mahk..." Atarah then got up, and picked up a piece of bark, a jar of octopus ink, and a handmade brush of a stick and a bushel of her own hair. She gave the brush to Adam, and set down the ink and bark, "Draw et!" She said, almost demanding him.

"Ok, um..." Adam dipped the brush into the ink, and then drew the heart symbol as best as he can, "It looked sort of like this..." He moved the brush in similar strokes as he remembers from Merrick's tattoo. Atarah snatched the bark, and examined it. She stared at the symbol for a few seconds, before sighing, and putting it down.

"... Fobbiden Loove..."

"What?"

"Teh seembol. Tat is what is mean. Mereek ees Coshiton..."

"He's a what?"

"Coshiton," Atarah repeated, "In teh worlt oof merfolk, dere ah many rules calt Sacret Laws," Atarah picked up a small flower, and the brush, "Dose who break a law, become Coshiton.

"Teh necklace," Atarah said as she traced a finger onto her chest, "Does he wear it?" Adam blinked, and then recalled that this past week, Merrick hasn't been wearing his shell slice.

"... No... It's gone..." Adam said, secretly scolding himself for missing such an obvious detail.

"Teh sea snake mermaid... Her name Belinda, you know her?" Atarah asked. Adam simply nodded, before Atarah dipper her finger into the ink, and traced a swirly design on her left shoulder, "She have dees mahk on her?" She asked.

"Yes..."

"Teh one who ees Coshiton..." She held up the flower, "Dey take teh trace - dere connection to teh pod..." She placed the flower onto the floor, with a bowl of other small flowers, "Teh Triton..." She held up the brush with both hands, "Heem destroy dere weapon," The ancient then snapped the brush in half, and tossed it aside, "And teh Noita..." Atarah then picked the bark back up, and showed Adam the symbol he painted, "Brands teh skin wit a seembol of dere crime. And den... Dey are baneeshed."

Adam gasped lightly as he stared at that heart-symbol, "Dis ees teh seembol of Forbidden Love. Eet ees used for when a merfolk fall een loove wit a different kind. Forr instance, eef a whale merman where to fall een loove wit a sea turtle mermaid, and acted upon dat loove, dey be baneeshed."

"But... Merrick told me... He told me his pod was ambushed by Sirens..."

"Would you be willing to face teh trut so soon?" She asked, "Or to repeat it?" Adam put his hand over his eyes as he felt his mouth quiver. He feels so guilty - forget that Merrick lied to him, but he lost his pod... His family.

"... His sister... Attacked me today..." Adam said in a thick, faltering voice, "It's why I got these injuries, she was holding his trident... It was tied together with fishing line, and she said..." Adam wiped his tears and sniffled, "She said I took her brother away from her... And then she tried to kill me..."

"Adra Savahna..." Atarah said, "Mereek speaks fondly oof her. She would not understand he canno come back..." The ancient looked at the human, crying lightly, "Eet ees no your fault, Adahm. Eet ees loove."

"I know, but... It's..." Adam sniffled, "It's just not fair... He didn't choose to fall in love with me, it just happened when the moon turned red. If merfolk worship this goddess, how can they just banish merfolk who fall in with the wrong kind of person?" He asked, "It's like kicking out a teen for coming out of the closet! It isn't fair!"

"Merfolk ah very traditional," Atarah said, "Dey follow teh Laws, and banish dose who defy."

"Dammit..." Adam then turned to look at her, "Just... Who ARE you, Atarah?!" He asked, just out of random from his anger, "How and why do you know so much about merfolk? Aren't you just a human too?"

Atarah did not answer. She simply stood up, and put her hands onto her old corset. She untied the old lace, bow for bow, until it appeared loosened. Putting her fingers to the crease, she pulled it back, exposing her torso to the human. Adam gasped.

"No... You're..." Upon her stomach, there is circle, with a large X symbol on top of it. The mark is as black as night, but looks as though it was burned into her flesh with a fire poker, as opposed to Merrick's mark, which looks like a real tattoo.

"Tey call me teh Forbidden Ancient, because I have been baneeshed... Long, long, ago..." She said.

"What..." Adam gulped and looked up at her face, "What was YOUR crime?" Atarah's frowned as she closed her corset, and tied it back up.

"I was teh first Noita in teh worlt," Adam's eyes widened at that, "I was teh fift Coshiton to be baneeshed... Dey saw my powa, and came to call me a demon," She said with disdain, "So dey take me to deh hart of a volcano... And dey burned dis mahk onto my stomach..." She said as she looked down onto the injured human, "I hailed from deh kingdom of Lyonesse - I was what dey call now an Amnien..." Atarah shook her head, "I can barely rememba what I used to be..."

"But... Wait, how can you be the first Noita? That must have been hundreds of years ago!"

"Yes..." Atarah looked up, as if trying to remember a distant memory, "I tink I died..." She said in a as-a-matter-of-fact tone.

"But, you're alive NOW."

"No." Atarah said as she looked at Adam, "I am neiter deat or alive. I rememba I was attacked by humans one day... And I felt mysalf falling into teh dahkness... Or was it just dahker because of teh eclipse..." She pondered, "It was probably teh black sun dat kept me here on teh Eart. And now, I am no human, no mermaid, and still have teh powas I had, and more..."

"I'm... I'm surprised you weren't angry and didn't hold a grudge over merfolk for banishing you..." Adam said.

"I was," Atarah said, "I did." She walked around, and fiddled with a wind chime with shells, "I learnt from teh winds dat odder mermaids had deh powa as I have... But dey were not called demons, and dey were not feared..." The ancient's tone became tense, "I was baneeshed..." She seethed, "And dey revered dem..." Her fingers squeezed down around a shell until it cracked and broke into smaller pieces. She turned around and looked at Adam, who is feeling a little uneasy about this conversation.

"I cursed dem. I cursed dem all. Teh black sun gave me new powa, and sought vengeance from teh land. I was no longa able to return to my home in teh sea because of dere foolish fears!" Adam gulped as she went on, "Since teh black sun, I belong to teh land..."

"So..." Adam spoke nervously, "Merfolk are still cursed?"

"... No," Atarah said, sighing as she calmed down, "Anger fades wit time, as do any curse... After ova 200 years, I had learnt to let go of my hatret - teh merfolk who baneeshed me have long since pereeshed..." She said.

"I would not wish to curse merfolk now... Once in a while, a lost merman or mermaid find dere way into my river," The earthly ancient smiled softly, "Dey fear me because of my title, but soon dey realize I am but a lone hermeet in a river. Dey veseet me, and bring me geefs of teh sea..."

"Is... Is that how you met Merrick? Did he get lost in your river?"

"..." Atarah hesitated, "Yes and no. Eet ees how I met his modder. A young, kindly white mermaid, sickened by swimming in deh freshwater. So I geeve her aid," She smiled, "When she can, she come to me to veseet, just like her son..."

"So, how did you meet Merrick?"

"Eet was much, much lata, but I remember eet 5 years ago. When a scaret merman was swimming wit a human. I lata recognize him as teh son of Umiato, a dear frient of mine, and he was being hunted by a pod of Sirens..." Adam widened his eyes at the dark woman, "Dey escaped to a cove of mine, where I had once planted and hahvested fire crystals. I attempted to narrow teh cave to prevent entry of teh Sirens, but I ended up sealing teh entrance by meestake," She said with a smile, "I had to open anodder entrance to let dem out... Into a waterfall..."

"Wait..." Adam said, "That cave, that was you?? That's where Merrick and I first met!"

"So eet was..." She said as her voice trailed off.

"Did you... Did you intend for us to meet? Merrick and me, I mean."

"No," Atarah started to finish meshing a medicinal paste, and adding fresh rainwater to make it into a potion, "I was trying to protect teh son of a frient. It was seex moons lata when I met heem, when he and heem modder came to veseet me, and I could feel teh light of teh ret moon in his soul. I could sense she dit not know, so I neva sait he was - as I sait, merfolk ah traditional."

The ancient then picked up an old teakettle, and poured the concoction into it. She stood up, and carried it to Adam, before kneeling down to hold the spout to his mouth, "Drink."

"What is it?"

"Healing sleep. Your injuries ah deep, and teh magic is still infecting your blood. Only prolonged sleep can cure eet." Adam sighed and nodded. He opened his mouth, and let Atarah tilt the spout into his lips.

He grunted and winced as the nasty cocktail slipped into his mouth. He sputtered and kept from gagging, and swallowed the potion down. He panted as he looked at her, "Does Merrick know? What you used to be?"

"No," Atarah said as she helped him up to his feet, "He neva ask me." She said with a smile, she then put something into the palm of Adam's hand, "Geeve this to heem lata..." She whispered.

~~~

Adam, Merrick, and Yuri soon made their way out from the swamp. Adam could feel his senses dulling and his eyelids growing heavy. Just when they made it out of the marsh, he moaned as he grabbed onto a tree.

"Adam? Are you ok?" Yuri asked as Merrick went to him.

"I'm..." Adam said, feeling so dizzy and drugged up, "I'm fine... She just gave me some strong sleeping stuff..." Merrick tucked Adam's arm over him, and helped Adam into the backseat of Yuri's car. Once Merrick put the seatbelt on himself, he found Adam curled up on the seat, with his head on his lap.

"Adam? Adam??" Merrick said as he shook him. He smiled and giggled as he stroked his sleeping lover.

~~~

"Mmmm..." Adam stirred as he slowly woke up. It's almost completely dark, and he's in his own bed. He gasped and sat up as he realized someone is crawling into bed with him.

"Hi babe~" Merrick said with a smile in the dark. Adam sighed as he sat on his bed while Merrick cuddled up to him, "... Adam? What's wrong?" Merrick asked. Adam looked at Merrick's face, which is illuminated by the faint moonlight.

"Merrick..." Adam mumbled, he looked into those deep, blue eyes, feeling his heart heavy with emotion, "I'm sorry, sweetie... I'm so, so sorry..." Merrick blinked curiously at him.

"What do you mean? Sorry for what?"

"Merrick..." Adam sighed and shook his head. He looked straight into the merman's eyes, and brought his hand up. He moved it over Merrick's shoulder, and placed gently upon the back of his neck. Merrick's lips opened a little as his eyes glistened as he looked at Adam with light horror, "I'm so sorry, baby..." Adam said again, feeling his eyes water up as he rubbed his fingers on the symbol.

The merman whimpered as shimmering tears washed in his eyes. Adam moved in closer, and Merrick just put his arms around his human. The blonde sniffled and huffed as he sobbed into the Adam's bandaged chest. Adam put his hands on Merrick's smooth back and blonde hair. He hissed and cried as he clung onto Adam. He shook his head as he cried.

"Adam... I..."

"I don't care what you told me," Adam said, still feeling incredibly drowsy, "I love you... I love you..." He mumbled as he laid back, with Merrick still weeping into his bandage.

"They're gone, Adam... I've lost them..."

"You... You still have me..." Adam muttered as his eyes dazed into the darkness of the night and the glow of the moonlight as he fell slowly back into sleep. He wants to console Merrick, but that potion Atarah gave him is really strong stuff. He can't even remember to ask what the Capricorn has anything to do Coshitons...

"I love you... You will always have me..." He mumbled as Merrick snuggled up to him, and slipped into slumber.

 

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