Chapter 59: Familiar Parting
Adam slowly lowers his arm down after Merrick dives into the sea. He watches as he can see the instant transition from below the heavily distorted view of his lover under the surface. The merman’s image swims forward and deep, disappearing into the dark waters below.
“… Please be safe…” Adam muttered as he let his arm down. He turned around, and went away. He goes back into the house, and picks up the charger for his laptop, before pausing. He looks out to the night outside, and then into the darkness of his room. After a few minutes of hesitation, he takes a moment to throw his charger into his room, and turned back around to put on his leather jacket.
He picked up his helmet, and his keys, before exiting his house.
Merrick hangs onto the Capricorn as they moved threw the open ocean. He takes many deep, purposeful breaths of cold sea as they move, half thankful to be back where he belongs, and still half terrified of this whole Kenovani Pod thing turning out to be a cruel turn of events.
He looked aside, and discovered that he and the Capricorn are moving at alarming speeds! Merrick looks to the wavering surface, to the mysterious sea floor, or to a few hammerhead sharks moving on their own devices, and he seems to be moving a lot faster than he feels – he doesn’t feel like they’re zooming through the water like a torpedo, but everything seems to be blurring right beside him.
It seems the Capricorn’s voyage is tampering with his own sense of time. This only makes his insides squirm even more with anxiety, almost as if he’s being rushed to his doom.
Adam flashes his membership card to Steve the bouncer at the Dream Waltz, before entering. He sighs as he enters the bustling club, groaning from the jumpy and cheerful musical number with a few sexy dancers performing on stage, before sitting himself down at the bar.
“Hey man.” Jamal says as he looks at Adam from the other side of the bar, looking so glum and depressed. “You ok?” Adam just sighed and shook his head and put his arms on the bar, “Merrick left, huh?” Adam nodded, “Anything I can git’cha anything?”
“Just a Cosmo, please…” Adam mumbled.
“Aight, man.” Jamal pushed away from the bar, and went to work to mixing his drink.
“Oh hey, Adam!” Came a newer voice. Adam turns his head to see Jerry, the manager of the Dream Waltz come up to him, “How’re doing, buddy?”
“I’ve been better…” Adam groaned.
“Oh, well you feel like making a few extra bucks?”
“That depends. What did you have in mind?”
“The next performance fell through, and we have a half-an-hour gap after this number. The stage is yours if you feel like getting up there.” Normally, when there’s a gap where no performers are scheduled for certain times, the stage is available for customers to do some karaoke, “Just thought I’d offer since you’re a regular part-timer here now.”
Jamal placed the magenta, feminine cocktail before Adam. “It’s ok if you do a sad song if you’re still depressed,” Jerry said, “The people love a bleeding heart.” Adam paused as he looked at the sweet drink, before pinching the narrow neck of the glass, and downed it in a single gulp. After putting the Cosmo glass on the bar, he also slapped a $10 on to the counter.
“No thanks...” Adam said before he turns, and pushes his way into the crowd.
“Is uh…” Jerry said, “Everything ok with him? He’s been really down since I hired him.”
“His boyfriend has to leave fo’while.” Jamal said, “Guy’s like this for bout a week when his bo has to go away.
“Ah, I see…”
Merrick holds tightly to the Capricorn as they sail through the water. His hearts pounds harshly as they proceed, unable to remember just how long they’ve been going, or pay much mind as to how fast or slow they’re moving.
As they kept going, he can only signal ahead until he began to sense the presence of other beings. He keeps his eyes forward as he and the Capricorn approached a nonspecific mass of signals and voices. He can’t seem to get any kind of focus for the small group sounds as he came closer and closer to them.
Merrick’s keen eyes began to spot a handful of different colored merfolk. He first spotted a black and white orca mermaid, and this his eyes shifted to a hammerhead shark merman, and silver and white naga slithering in the water. He sent another quiet signal, and immediately heard a sense of many different species at once.
In moments, the Capricorn came to a slow stop nearing the diverse school of merfolk, allowing Merrick to see a pod that is barely half as big as his original pod. His eyes lock on to a black symbol on a crab mermaid that uses a constructed fan maid of sails to help her swim with the rest of the pod, and a black symbol on a paluga whale merman, who seems to be draped in an icy aura to help cope with his need for chilled temperatures.
A large, flakey and flamboyant lionfish Noita swims along a shorter lionfish mermaid with a hard, spiny scalp and thick armored arms by her side, while a deep blue Holsien merman with thick, heavy limbs that are heavily adorned with naturally thick plates of armor on his flesh, adorned with rather large shark teeth tied around his head, while holding his trident. Both bulging biceps and mighty thighs are wrapped with a tight tether with many welded sea glass beads, swimming beside a very small version of himself with wing-like lion fins on his arms, also carrying a short trident.
One by one, the members of this strange pod turned as Merrick and the Capricorn approached them. Samudra turns his head, and smiles as he sees the blue and pearl Piscien ride upon his old friend’s back, hardly recognizing him in his true form.
“Kenovani, halt!” He called out. The pod as a whole stops, with a few of the other members drifting along to gather. Samudra turns half way so his body is facing the gap between the pod and Merrick as the Capricorn swims away from him, “My Brothers and Sisters. Another lost one of the Laws has come to join the fold.” Merrick looks upon the eyes of the Kenovani.
Samudra swims to Merrick side, and puts his hardened hands on his shoulders, “I am very proud to welcome our new Brother: Merrick of the Piscien Merfolk.” He announced as the Kenovani looks at their newest addition, a few of them noting how stone-faced, dignified, and firm Merrick presents himself – just as Kaiken has always taught him.
“Banished for the crime of Forbidden Love, Merrick has taken refuge to the land to be with his human mate!” Samudra continued, “Please do all you can to make him feel welcome.” Merrick gave a short bow – a formality he picked up from Yuri’s customs.
Moments later, Samudra guided Merrick to the lionfish mermaid of the pod with a dot surrounded by pointy triangles on the lower half of the black circles, right on her chest, “Merrick, this is my mate, Noita Vanora,” Samudra introduced, “She is the one who shall determine when you will be able to return to the land.”
“Oh no…” The Noita’s face broke in immediate concern, “You, how are you,” She stops as she comes in close, causing Merrick to flinch a little, “You are not well! Not well at all!”
“Yes… I know.” Merrick says as she put her hands on his sides, circling him with quick moves.
Syrinx peers around, and sees the blue merman. Her eyes narrow as she can feel a distinct feeling… Almost like she’s met him before. Her eyes spot the decorative heart tattoo on his upper back. So there’s his symbol, but there’s something about this one…
“Your scales are drifting right off of your body!” Vanora says, almost looking terrified as the tiny, thin discs just came right off, “How long have you been on the land? Without coming to the sea??”
“Almost 3 years…”
Everyone in the pod gasps and stared at him.
“3 years?!” Vanora looks at him with estranged eyes of surprise, “And you are alive?!”
“He is mated to a human, Vanora.” Samudra said with his thick, heavy hands on Merrick’s shouldes, “From what I have been told, they have been together for 8 years. And it has been 3 years since he was banished.”
“And in all this time, you NEVER came to the ocean?!” Vanora exclaimed, “I understand the dark myth of the Capricorn, but 3 years?! How did you survive?!”
“He is a Triton, Vanora.” Samudra says. The pod mumbles amongst themselves, as a wave of understand came upon Vanora, “He was the Adra before his exile. He endured much suffering living upon the ground.”
Vanora’s eyes looked into Merrick’s eyes Piscien to Piscien, as she takes a moment to sample the sight of his soul. She gasps a little as she reads his aura with her blessed eyes, “Oh my… He has endured a lot more than that…
Adam walks along the docks, his headphones in his ears, listening to A Fleeting Dream from Final Fantasy X on loop. He walks slowly, deliberately just taking it slow as he looks down on the sandy old planks.
Somehow, he feels as if he’s taking this better than usual, at least to how it was back in the old days. At this point, he’d usually still be facedown in his bed, just mulling away the time. He was about to do just that a while ago, before he decided he didn’t want to just wallow in his dark room like usual. He thought he wanted to hang out in the club, but sipping drinks just doesn’t feel that appealing right now.
He wants to do something, but he just doesn’t know what.
Adam goes to a railing on the dock, and leans down on it with his arms. He looks down upon the noisy surface of the water, his instincts casually informing him of a particular large fish way down below… His eyes focus in the surface, estimating that it’s probably a Grouper. Even if he felt like fishing, there’s no way he could pull a big damn fish like that up on the dock.
He looks up at the moon while the breezes blow around him and through his short, brown hair. The calm, dramatic, melancholy music in his iPod plays through as he looks up at he almost full moon. Either the previous night, or maybe tomorrow, mermaids all over the world will be coming up to the surface to sing to it. He’d like to see that again, it was really entertaining the first time, when Merrick decided to come to his house for the first time.
Adam sighed as he looked back down.
Merrick has made so many changes… He made his own ultimate sacrifice just to be with him – as far as his pod goes, Merrick could’ve stayed a lot longer, had he not chose to reveal his love for Adam, but that would also mean that he would never see him again, at least not for years, maybe even decades, before his pod banished him for not finding a Noita, if that’s how it works. And even then, he had broken up with Adam, and that would invite a lot of more hurt and doubt. And keeping on land all this time was killing him too, slowly and painfully, and he led it on like it was nothing.
Adam can’t help but feel like he could’ve been a better lover to Merrick…
He pushed himself up off the railing of the dock, and turned around to walk back, back to where he came.
Merrick floats there before the Noita while she presses her fingers on his head, examining his being for several moments, before she opened her eyes.
“It would be advisable for you to stay in the ocean for 8 moons.”
“W-What?!” Merrick exclaims, “8 moons?? I-I cannot be gone for that long! My mate is waiting for me!”
“You are not the first human-bonded merfolk in our pod, Merrick,” Vanora said, “The other two are always just as eager to return to land. You must remain for 8 moons if you are to completely heal. As I said, you are in very poor health.”
“But I promised him…” Merrick shook his head, “I promised him that I would be back sooner than 6 moons!”
The Noita huffs irritably at the resistant merman. Her diagnosis is perfectly spot-on an average scale. Though, if this one is a Triton…
“… You will be pushing yourself, upon 5 moons. That is the absolute limit of your body. As the humans say, as I understand it, ‘Take It, Or Leave It’.”
“I will deal with it,” Merrick nodded, “I will not leave my mate alone for more than I must.”
‘Him?’ Syrinx blinked as the merman talks to the Noita, ‘Promised HIM?’ Her eyes widen, ‘Oh my God, is that…’
“Well then, may I introduce you to our Razirah, Merrick,” Samudra said as he then guided Merrick to a rather large and lengthily Amnien mermaid. A long, thin, elongated body with a round tail-fluke at the end, with very long hair to boot, tied in thick shocks by tethers and shell fragments. She smiles at Merrick as they approach her.
“Welcome to the Kenovani Pod, Merrick. My name is Ebba” She greets, holding a string with a piece of spiny conch shell on it, “I assume you know this.”
“Yes, I do…” Merrick nods.
“As you well know, this will bind you to the Kenovani,” She explains, “However, unlike how you were raised to believe, you do not have to keep it on yourself in order to stay linked.”
“What?” Merrick looked at her with an estranged gaze, “I do not understand.”
“Every merfolk is brought to believe that without their own link to the pod on their person, they are not connected. That is not true. I have found that even if you are to take it off, for example, when you return to the land, you are still linked to the pod.”
“How do you know? When my link was taken away from me when I was banished, I immediately felt disconnected.” Merrick replied.
“Was it the Razirah who removed the link from you?” Ebba asked. Merrick paused, before he nodded, “It is the Razirah that holds the connection, not the fragments themselves. So long as the Razirah have given it to you, and the Razirah does not take it from you, you will always be apart of the pod. The same rule applies to all merfolk.” She gave a sad smile, “I was banished for removing my own link, even though it did not affect my connection at all. That Sacred Law is supposed to teach not forsake one’s own sense of unity.”
Merrick nods, looking at his arm, before holding his left wrist up, and offered it to the Razirah. The long mermaid drifted in, and tied the string around Merrick’s wrist, and secured the spiral shell slice onto his arm.
Merrick blinks as his whole body instantly feels surrounded by a familiar sense of closeness, as if he’s in the middle of a bustling crowd. He smiles as he feels as if he has just been accepted back into his pod again, except it’s not his family of Pisciens, but a tiny community of diverse merfolk.
Adam walks along the sidewalk, beside the long line of people waiting outside of the Dream Waltz. He brings his membership card up to show Steve, before entering. He removes his headphones, and goes up to Jerry, who spots him, and turns around to talk with him.
“Hey Jerry… You still have room for someone to perform?”
“Only about 10 minutes left in the gap.” Jerry answers, “You wanna go up there real quick.”
“Ok, hope you got a short number in mind. Go ahead and get yourself prepared if you need to, I’ll sign you up for a quicky.”
“Thanks.” Adam nods, and turns to make his way to the changing room.
“I must say, I find it pleasantly fitting now that you have joined our pod, Merrick,” Samudra said as he brought him along.
“Why is that?” Merrick asked.
“As I have said, we have two other merfolk who have been banished for mating with a human.” Merrick is then present to two other merfolk of the Kenovani, “Here, we have Deilan, and this one is named Syrinx.”
One is a lime-green Holsien merman, his lower body containing a pair of long appendages with a round spade end, with a handful of smaller tentacles in between. His arms are almost as long as the lower two tentacles, with flat, thick fingers at the end. His is 3 feet long with an arrow-shaped fluke on either side, above his dark eyes. His tribal heart symbol is branded upon his left hip.
The other one is a brown and hot magenta Amnien with a spiral horn on her forehead. Her shoulders, sides, back, and stomach area shine with tight rubber, while her chest, forearms, hands, head, and tail are layered in thin fuzz, down to her feathered tail-flipper, as well as her body is decorated with swirls formations. Her intricate heart symbol is placed upon her-
‘Right arm.’ Merrick’s eyes lock right onto the Amnien. His sapphires then go to her hazel eyes, both of them starring at each other with mutual shock.
“This is interesting,” Deilan said as he drifted around Merrick, “A Piscien as well. A full circle of the Forbidden Love sin.” Merrick turned his head as the squid merman circled him, “I myself have mated with a human 4 years ago.” He mentioned before arriving in front of Merrick, “We live together in a place called Venice, Italy.”
“It has been 8 years for me,” Merrick says. Syrinx gasped silently – that’s just 2 more years shorter than her when she bonded with Kevin, “5 years I stayed with my pod, and 3 years since I was banished.” He explained.
“What is your mate like?” Deilan asked, “Is she, ‘hot’? As the humans describe?”
“Actually…” Merrick feels unfamiliarly sheepish at the truth, knowing how taboo homosexuality is with humans, who knows how merfolk take it as a personal opinion, “My mate is a male…”
Syrinx’s eyes widened.
It’s him. The blonde, psychologically damaged merman from the LGBT cruise.
“A… Male???” The Holsien’s eyes beamed with confusion, “A male mating a male?? Is such a thing possible??”
“As I take it, it happens often with humans,” Merrick says, “Half of human society accepts the idea, and the other half grimly rejects it.”
“I have never thought two of the same genders could mate!” Deilan said, “They cannot even produce if they mate by themselves…” Deilan leaned forward with intrigue, “What is it like? Can you even mate with a human man?”
“I…” Merrick’s face feel a brush of prickling heat, “I imagine it is the same with a male and female bond… Only with two males… We mate, through we do not reproduce, we love, we hurt, we cannot feel infatuation with anyone else, as is with anyone bonded. As with any merfolk, my body shines with the light of the Sea Mother’s heart every Red Moon when we are together, as does his.”
“Fascinating…!” Deilan said. Merrick’s eyes looked back onto Syrinx, who is expecting some strange accusation from the Piscien, regarding the cruise.
“…” Samudra looked between Merrick and Syrinx – Merrick’s face contorted with questioning hurt, while Syrinx’s face reflects shock with a hint of fear, “Syrinx…” He said, “Do you know of this merman?”
Syrinx turned to look at the Triton, “I-”
“No. She doesn’t.” Merrick interrupted. Samudra and Syrinx looked at him with estranged expressions, “She made sure of that. Did you not.” Merrick said, rather than asked. Before Syrinx could reply, Merrick looped, and swam away.
Adam adjusts his navy blue, partly sequin designed suit before he walks up onto the stage. He taps on the microphone a few times before pulling it from the stand, and bringing it to his mouth. The audience quiets down for him as dots of blue, aqua, grey, and white light up around him.
“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. This next song, I’m dedicating to my boyfriend, who is going to be away for a long time.” The crowd gave a sad response, “He’ll be back soon, he’ll be fine. I’m just going to miss him until he gets back. So please enjoy this next song about how he’s been dealing with some very harsh trials…”
The building dimmed before he was illuminated with his head bowed down. The sound of rain and a rumble of thunder sounded from the speakers beside the stage. A dot-like melody started to play, along with a slow rise and drift of violin. Adam brought his head up, opened his eyes, and put the microphone to his mouth.
“~Its bigger then meee… ~I see that now… ~But I can wait ~For you to fiiiigure it out~” The sequins and small fake crystals on his suit glinted in the low lights, “~I’ll give you your space ~And you'll make it through ~One day at a time ~I'll be waaaiii~ting for you~”
The rhythm pulsed slowly as the tiny blue/white/grey started blinking in and out, “~This thing, won't ruuuuiiiin you ~You'll maaaake it through ~The niiight~” Adam traces his fingertips down his cheek, “~Just let, those teeeaaarrs roll down ~Your faaaace ~It’ll be Alriiiight~”
“~You will make it through ~The night~” Adam pats his fist on his chest softly, “~I'll take this storm for you, and fiiight~” He holds up his hand, as if to really feel if it’s raining, “~These old umbrellas are worn ~But miiine…” He brings his hand down a little, “~Can take a hurricane, just hold on tiiight~”
The music started to rise, as Adam sings a little faster with the notes, “~I know sometimes ~It doesn’t seem to let up ~Just like a 1000 drains ~Won’t, le~et, the rain, wash awaa~aay~” He holds his open hand palm out, “~You feel, you’re in the Eye Of The Storm ~But I am here to lean on~” Adam clenches his fist as he presses it to his torso again, “~Just hold me tight~”
The rhythm pulsed slowly as the tiny blue/white/grey started blinking in and out, “~This thing, won't ruuuuiiiin you ~You'll maaaake it through ~The niiight ~Just let, those teeeaaarrs roll down ~Your faaaace ~It’ll be Alriiiight~”
“~You will make it through ~The night ~I'll take this storm for you, and fiiight ~These old umbrellas are worn ~But miiine… ~Can take a hurricane, just hold on tiiight~”
The music reflexes as the dramatic climax lingers its approach “~Oooh Ooh Ooh Oh, ~Ahhh Ahh Ahh Ahhh ~Oooh Ooh Ooh Oh ~Ahhh Ahh Ahh ~Oooooooh~”
The music instantly stopped to a low hymn, “~You will make it through ~The night…~” Adam expressed his face in sincere longing, “~I'll take this storm for you, and fiiight… ~These old umbrellas are worn ~But miiine… ~Can take a hurricane, just hold on tiiight~”
The dramatic music jumped right back up, “~You will make it through ~The niiiight~! ~I'll take this storm for you, and fiiight~! ~These old umbrellas are worn ~But miiine, ~Can take a hurricane, just hold on tiiight~!”
“~You will make it through ~The niiiight~! ~I'll take this storm for you, and fiiight~! ~These old umbrellas are worn ~But mii~iiiine~! ~Can take a hurricane, just hold on tiiight~~”
“~Just hold on tiii~iiight~” Adam soothed down to the very last lyric, “~Hold oonn tiiiiiight…~”
The lights stopped blinking, and the audience applauds from his melancholy, loving song. He takes a bow, and throws up his arms in a solemn show of gratitude for the gracious response for his performance, before exiting off of the stage.
“Merrick! Merrick!” Came a young voice. Merrick turns around, and smiles as he sees his young friend, Arnaav, scurrying through the water to him. He chuckles as he swooped around, and moved towards the little otter merman.
Seconds later, those little, furry arms threw around him, and hugged him tightly, while Merrick squeezes him in turn. Rubbing his webbed hand up and down Arnaav’s fuzzy back, he can’t help but feel a little emotional – this loving eagerness, a little ball of energy that is almost too glad to see him, young and playful…
Merrick puts a thumb under one eye, wiped it, and then the other, trying to hide this overwhelming nostalgia.
Triton Samudra smiles as he sees Merrick embracing the young Amnien. That small otter has a hard time fitting in to the Kenovani, being the youngest of the pod, no one seems to have the patience to tend to someone who is just barely older than a meryin.
“Kenovani!” He called out. Everyone turned to listen to him, “Now that our new brother has briefly familiarized with various members, and thus has become one of us, let us move forward!” He announced, with Noita Vanora by his side, and their Adras right next to them, and a single Capricorn drifting around the pod.
Arnaav let go of Merrick, and with everyone now facing one direction, they move forward. The otter merman keeps right beside Merrick, smiling happily as they go.
As the pod began, Syrinx looks at the blue and white Piscien from the lower right of the Kenovani. She feels a mixture of lingering astonishment and nagging guilt. She never gave him a chance, and it seems that she has misjudged him.
What’s worse, it seems he doesn’t even want anything to do with her, as if the tables have turned.
Adam sighs as he sits in the changing room. He looks to the calendar, and draws an imaginary X on the current day with his fingertip, smiling weakly.
“… One day down, a million to go…” He groaned, “I miss you already, baby…”