Aquata Cove

Chapter 76: Gain And Loss

The surface explodes from the outside as Merrick sinks, holding Arnaav close in his arms. His body changes as his flesh formed into an array of beautiful blue and silver scales, along with wavering fins along his tail. Arnaav holds onto Merrick as his body breaks out in velvet fuzz of cream and mocha colors.

The boy peers around him with tired eyes, barely able to keep himself up from his dreary fatigue as the many air bubbles rush up and around their bodies. Merrick holds his harpoon to his side while he refastens Arnaav’s two knives to his sides.

“Rest, Arnaav…” Merrick mutters.


He mounts his harpoon to his back and swims forth. Merrick clenches his eyes as he unlocks a certain, uncomfortable part of his chest connecting to his throat. Merrick swims while sending out strained, echoing signals, sending one forward, turning to his right and calling out, and coughed one out to the left. Signaling for a Capricorn is a lot more tricky than calling other animals. The frequency has to be very precise to a their wavelengths. Mermaids have to sing a fine, elaborate tune to get a Capricorn’s attention, while mermen have to adjust to a strained signal.

Sure enough, Merrick detects the distant bleating echo back to him as a sea goat emerges from the ocean’s infinity. He carries Arnaav to approaching pair, and straddles in securely together.

“We need to think of a way to fashion saddles for Capricorns.” Merrick muttered as the ancient creature turns around, smelling the symbols on Merrick’s and Arnaav’s flesh, “It’d make these trips a little more suiting.”

The Capricorn strokes its large front flippers around, and pulls though the sea with the young males upon its back.

---The Next Day---

Yuri sighs as she wears her casual kimono in the kitchen, “… Hm?” She looks down as she realizes she’s stepped on a pencil, before looking to the table at an open notebook. She picks it up, and sees the paper chart of empty squares of Arnaav’s hand-made paper note.

Almost all of the squares for the letter ‘Ah’ have been filled, with half a column of squares empty. While the squares for the letter ‘Ii’ are only half done, and most of them aren’t even completely in the squares.

“Gotta say, have to give him a C- for his penmanship.” She commented as she sips her energy drink. She observes the slobby handwriting – the lines and the strokes are really jagged, almost like he was being too hasty with writing each letter.

“Looks like he was trailing off a bit… The ‘Ii’s aren’t even in the boxes…” She mumbled before closing the book, and looked over to the couch – the blanket is open, but Arnaav is gone.

“Huh… He might’ve went back to the ocean… Oh well.” She dismissed with a sigh before putting the notebook back down on the table.


On the stage, large, glass tubes have been placed strategically here and there in a symmetrical arrangement. Adam walks up in the middle of the stage, walking around some of them, almost running into them several times.

“Is it really necessary to have this many of them for just one performance?” He asked.

“What? They’re my new toys!” Jerry said, “These are REALLY going to kick ass for some of our numbers!”

“How much did these things cost anyway?” Adam said as he taps at the base-holders.

“Couple of thousand. Made a huge profit last month.”

“And yet you skipped out on giving more hours.” Adam mumbled.


“Nothing.” Adam gets back up, “Ready to start rehearsal if you are.”

“Ok, lets hit the lights!” Most of the lighting turned off around the club, with only a few sources of light to illuminate around the club, “Music??”

Adam clears his throat as he brings the mic to his mouth. He takes a breath, “~You’re in-”

“~I lOVE YOU~” A dull, thick voice with soothing infantile music booms out, “~YOU LOVE ME~” Adam scoffed after he whipped around for a second, “~WE ARE A HAPPY FAMIL-”

“Hey! What the hell!”

“Chloe!! Quit screwing around!” Jerry called out.

“Sorry.” Yowled an insincere voice.

“Bitch…” Adam muttered.

“Douche!” Yelled Chloe.




“OKAY!” Jerry yelled out, “That’s enough, you two. Haha, yak-yak, we got work to do. Chloe, just play the right damn song, please!”

“Sorry! I just saw a big gay dinosaur walk on stage, and I thought we were doing another number for the show.” Chloe called out.

“Yeah right, you-” Adam started.


Adam snickered as he silenced himself. A pounding melody taps over and over. One glass tube flashes white with a bolt of plasma. Another one lights up with a glimpse of lightning in sync with the upcoming beat. “Looks like the sync-track is working…” Adam observed. He holds the mic up to his mouth.

“~You're in control ~Pressin' pause on my heartbeat ~Someone stole all the air, so I can't speak now~” Adam swerves as he puts a hand to his chest before gesturing, “~I know ~The chase ~Is on ~I feel ~As though ~My time ~Has come~”

“~How many times do I fly through your head space~” Adam’s tone rose as he walks deliberately a few steps, “~Now it's speeding away rom the safe place, yeah ~Your skin, ~The touch ~The kiss ~The rush ~Too much ~And here it comes~”

“~When your liiips tooouuch miiiine~” All of the glass columns all light up as electricity dances wildly in them, “~It's the kiiiiss of liiiife~! ~I know~” Adam dances in place with the mic still at his mouth, “~I know that it's a little bit frightening~” Adam walks forward a little, “~We might as well be playing with lightning~”

“~We tooouuch like~” Adam feels his own cheek, “~Like it's our fiiirst tiiime~ Oh oh~! ~I know that it's a little bit frightening~”      ~We might as well be playing with lightning ~NooOOOoow ~Oh oh~”

“~Just you and me and the coats in the back room ~Learning things they don't

Teach in the classroom ~Now, you're here ~I feel, the fear ~But evvv~verything ~Is oh ~So clear~”

“~I've been addicted to you since the first hit ~Out of control like a surge of electric~” Adam holds up his arm out, “~When your liiips touch miiine ~It's the kiiiss of liiife ~I know~” Adam pumps his arm as he takes a repeated step-dance on one side of his body, “~I know that it's a little bit frightening ~We might as well be playing with lightning~”

The music comes to a conclusive melody, “~We touch like ~Like it's ooouuur first tiiiime ~Oh oh~” Adam grooves his body as the individual glass tubes flash randomly with the artificial lightning, “~I know that it's a little bit frightening ~We might as well be playing with lightning now~”

“~Oh oh~” The music slows down, and the plasma columns dim to a close as the tune echos the last line. Before Adam can say anything, someone else shouts out from the deserted club.

“YOU SUCK!” Chloe called out amongst the initial silence. “Go blow yourself, asshole!”

Adam slumped over in a sudden cough of laughing, before holding the mic up to his mouth, “I would, but I’m not that flexible.”

“Of course you’re not, fatass!!”

“Oh shut up, Cow, go home and die, where somebody is actually obligated to like you.” Adam retorted.

“Drew! Mimi! Cut it out!” Jerry called out, “We only have an hour to rehearse tonight’s numbers!”

“Spoil sport.” Adam says.

“Am I the only one with balls in the family, Jerry?!” Chloe called out as Adam walks off the stage.

“Shut up and get dressed, Chloe!” Jerry called back, “Your number is after the next one. Hurry it up and stop picking fights already!!”

Being cousins, Chloe was made to work in Jerry’s club might do something about her attitude, but very little has changed in the 4 years she first started at her parents’ behest, especially since Adam keeps keeping up with her overwhelming sass. Jerry groans as he rubs his temples, reaching into his pocket to pop a couple of Tums.


The Capricorn slows down as Merrick can sense a large group of diversity. Merrick smiles as he sees the mighty sea turtle Triton, alongside the lethal-looking lionfish Noita, with their two children beside them. Merrick calls out with a striking signal, almost immediately stopping the pod where they go.

Samudra looks to his side, and sends a herding call to halt the pod. Vanora swims around, and looks onto them, “Ah, Merrick, Arnaav.” He said to them. Merrick floats off of the Capricorn, and carries Arnaav to them. “It has been over 24 suns, I confess I was starting to worry a great deal.”

“He was stubborn,” Merrick replied as he comes to them, “He became more enticed with human society than I had anticipated.” Vanora comes to him, and puts her hands onto Arnaav’s temples, whom is still sleeping in Merrick’s arms. Her soul reads into his aura, and quickly has a feel of his current health.

“Are you insane?!” Vanora declares as she quickly takes Arnaav away from him, “He is in terrible condition! He is almost as weakened as you were when you first joined!”

“I know, b-”

“And he is far younger than you! He cannot stand this sort of abuse to his body like you can!” She ranted like an angry nurse, “You should have forced him to come back! This is not good for someone so young!”

“I understand that, Noita Vanora,” Merrick said firmly, “But he was persistent, and I did bring him back before he became worse.”

“Pushing him longer is really not wise.” Samudra said calmly, “I understand you have found ways of prolonging a stay, but do be more careful as far as Arnaav is concerned.”

“Yes.” Merrick nods as he begins to turn, “Oh, and when he is perfectly well enough, please send him back to me on the land.”

“What??” Vanora and Samudra said at once.

“As often as possible, if you please.”

“Why? I am reluctant to let him go back just once.” Vanora scorned.

“I believe Arnaav may have found is mate, that is why.” Merrick answered.

“His mate??” Samudra inquired, “But he is too young.”

“True. But there is a human girl that his almost obsessed with.” Merrick said turning back to face them, “I believe when he is of age, and under a Red Moon, they may bond.”

“So this human girl lives in your lands then?”

“No. She lives on the other side of the world. And she speaks of a dialect that we are not familiar with. A human that we live him has offered to teach him this language, and Arnaav wants so much to learn.”

They look at each other, then to Merrick, “I feel he is too young to make such moves,” Vanora says.

“However, it is of his choice,” Samudra tells her, “As long as we all enforce that his health comes first. This is his life, Vanora-”

“Fine. Let it be.” Vanora scowled stubbornly.

“Thank you.” Merrick bowed formally, “Now, I must leave. I have other business to attend to before I go back home.”

“Business?” Samudra said as elevated up, “With whom?”

“… Business.” Merrick stated before moving to the Capricorn.

“Merrick.” Samudra said sternly, “You are Coshiton. What business could you have with anyone of the sea besides us?”

“That is for me to know, Triton Samudra. This is something I need to do.” He replied, not bothering to turn around.

“Merrick,” Vanora spoke up, “You know the Laws. Arnaav has had better allowances because his crimes have not been so numerous as yours. You may not have a better chance than him.”

“…” Merrick gritted his teeth, before making a final comment, “I am sure I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Merrick.” Samudra called out, “You better know what you are doing.”

Just as Merrick is about to kick his tail to go to the Capricorn, when something tugs at his tailfin. “Huh?” Merrick turns around, and sees the dreary otter holding at his beautiful white fin.

“Please be safe, Merrick…” Arnaav whined as he hugs the base of the tail. Merrick smiled as he moved to the small boy, and hugged him close.

“I will be fine, Arnaav. You do the same for me, alright?”

“Yes…” He nods simply. Merrick swims back to Vanora, and gives Arnaav to her before turning back around, and mounting onto the Capricorn. He leans in close, and whispered a few signals before the ancient goat started to propel itself with him on its back.


“Guys, can I take this damn thing off now? I don’t like being blinded and tied up this unless Merrick is blowing me!” Adam laughs as he rides in a back seat, with a blindfold over his eyes, with his arms tied behind him.

“Shuddup, man, we gettin there.” Nick says.

“How long has it even been? It feels like a freakin hour. I’m beginning to feel like a hostage.” He grins with idle amusement, “Someone close a window?? The fresh air is making my hair move. My feet hurt. I’m huuungry. Are we there yeeeet?”

“Man, quit’cha bitchin!” Jamal snickered.  

“No, Adam. We’ve been driving around in circles around the same block. We’re going to Chuck E Cheese.” Harold jested next to Adam.

“PFFF hahaha! Yeah,” Adam laughs, “Where everyone is a ‘Winner’.” He quoted with his fingers, tucked behind his back.

“Aight, we hear now.” Jamal said as they pull into a mysterious location.

“Wait! Is it getting darker?? SHIT! Fuuuuuuck!” Adam squirmed as Harold tugged on him, “Police! Murder! I’m being kidnapped by Jeffrey Dahmer, O.J., and a Mexican Princess!”

“Aw hell naw!” Jamal said as he gets out, and proceeds to drag Adam out.

“Guuuuys! This is my only day off! I wanted to have a God Of War marathon!” Adam whined.

“Told you shoulda gagged him, man.” Nick said, “Jay-Jay, get yo shorts off, and stuff his mouth already.”

“NO! Naw-ahaha!” Adam swerves as he laughs, Harold yanking him up, “I know where those have been! What they touched! I da- MMMFFF!” Harold snickered as he stuffed a CLEAN small pair of briefs into Adam’s mouth. “EMMFF! MMMGGHH! PWEH!” He spat them out, “What the hell, guys??!”

“Oh relax, bitch, those where clean.” Jamal said as he takes off the blindfold.

“Once anything touches YOUR puss-covered dick, NOTHING is clean.” Adam remarked as Nick freed his wrists. Adam looks around, and sees they’re in a parking structure, “Ok, where the fuck are we now?”

“In a better place.” Harold said as they go. They joked and talked as they walk through the parking lot and took the elevator down. They leave, and see the building of which they are about to enter.

“Land of Oz?” Adam read aloud the jeweled sign, “Bar & Grill. What’re we doing heeere?” He complained, “I should be in the middle of Cronos’ labyrinth, getting Pandora’s fuckin Box.” He jested.

“Heh. I already fucked Pandora’s box.” Jamal sneered.

“Not THAT kinda box, you crazy asshole!” Adam laughed.

 The four of them walked into the glass doors, where the floor is paved with a brass-yellow color. They arrive to a sudden boom of music, with a lot of people around cheering and wooping.

“Ahhh, what the heck??” Adam yelped as he walks into what seems to be a party. His eyes catch a big banner reading:



“Holy shit, you guys!” Adam says as he laughs as he spots all of his male friends, Kevin snacking on the side, Captain downing a shot, his father Luther clapping and whistling. “Aren’t these supposed to be held when the wedding is CLOSE?”

“Ain’t nobody got time fo that!” Jamal answered as they entered.

“This is kind of their opening night.” Harold said, “Just thought we’d get in on it while the bash is good.”

“But what about Merrick?? He’s not even here.” Adam pouted, “I would rather celebrate it with him.”

“The reservation lady here is kind of particular. And weird.” Harold said, “And we already had the banner made when before Merrick decided to head out.”

“We’ll throw him a dig over at King Tuts later.” Nick said, “Till then, lets get muy galenteeeehhh!”

“Kudos on the party, fishboy!” Captain growled up, seeing a hot woman in a short blue and white dress with red jeweled high heels.

“Heeeey, what the hell?” Adam says as they go, “How come there’s skimpy women at a gay Bachelor Party?”

“Again, this was last minute, and this is their grand opening,” Harold said, “Just thought this was as good a time as any to have a party for someone getting married.”

“It’s a co-ed nightclub or something” Luther said to his son, “All I know there’s a little bit of something for everyone here.” He said while ogling another fit chick dressed in a beautiful pink leotard with a dainty tu-tu, a glass crown, and a long, sparkling wand.

“Hah. I always do love renditions of Wizard of Oz.” Adam said as they go in. Nick is already flirting with a buff, tan guy decorated with metallic, gold body paint and glitter, in a shiny gold jockstrap and a full mane.

“Hey there~” Says a man with a blue brief stuffed with brassy yellow tinsel in his undies, cuffs, brown paint around his eyes, and the tinsel under his matty hat. “You the groom to be~?”

“One of them.” Adam smirked.

“Ooh, now I know I have a heart~” Says a sexy white guy in a silver thong, with his arms, legs, back, and torso is painted and stylized with silver and grey lines, also wearing a glittering red heard medallion. “Because it’s pounding just by looking of you~”

“Hahaha. You guys got a whole lot of those themed pick-up lines memorized?” Adam asked putting his hands on his hips.

“Sweetie, you have no idea.” Says the bartender, dressed in a black sequin witch’s hat, with sparkling green designs painted on her face, while sporting shiny red nails and tight black sleeves, and a dress of black jewels, “This is the part where I say,” She says as she offers up a drink, “‘I’ll get you, my honey, and your little friend too~! AHAhahahaha!’”

“This almost reminds me of the Dream Waltz,” Adam said, “That’s where I dress up and perform.”

“Do you also have to walk around in your skibbies and offer drinks and lap dances?” The lion-designed guy asked as he comes over. Adam can’t help but grin as he feels his groin stir.

“Heheheh, nope.”

“Then shut up and lets get some courage in ya, boy~” He then danced to the music and started to swerve his hips around Adam’s lap.

“Hah, ho boy,” Adam chuckled as the man’s golden build buffed over him. Having not gotten off in a few days is starting to show by his blush.

“Aight, lets get this party started!” Says another go-go guy in a green sequin speedo, a black top hat, and a pocket watch attached to his hip with a gold chain attached to the clock, which connected to one of his nipple rings.

The music pumped as the lion-dressed man purred as he gives Adam’s neck a lick, “Wow, damn,” Adam chuckles. If Merrick were here, he’d be grinding up against this guy’s bronzed bottom. He always is great at parties.

“Hah, well alright!” Adam gives a hard slap onto the guy’s exposed butt, “Lets get into it! Hahaha!”


Arnaav groans as he paddles along with the pod. He feels so heavy and dizzy… Vanora says it’s his body trying to keep him conscious, while also absorbing as much deprived water as it can, and the struggle is making him disoriented.

“Are you alright, Arnaav?” Asked Deilan, who is still a month away from going back to his own mate on the land. He’s the one keeping an eye and tentacle on Arnaav to protect him from falling behind.

“I am so tired…” The otter whined, wincing as he pulls himself through the water.

“Just try to steady yourself.” Deilan says as he stays close, “You will be fine.”

“Mnnnh…” Arnaav murrs in fatigue, looking forward, and then sending a very quick signal.

“Hm?” Samudra senses the signal from somewhere behind them.

“HHH!” Arnaav gasps before he suddenly jets forward!


“What??” Adra Nerissa looks, and flinches as a brown and cream blur launches from behind, and speeds forward.

“Arnaav!” Samudra calls out.

Arnaav pants with joy as he swims as fast as he can, sending constant signals to an Amnien pod of mostly otters. “FatherFatherFatherFatherFatherFatherFather!” Arnaav comes racing to an enormous, polar bear merman, before he crashes into vast, white fluffy stomach.

“Oof!” Triton Bertone grunts as the pod is suddenly halted. He laughs as he puts his thick arms around the tiny boy, squirming against the warm fur. “Where did you come from, Son??”

“Well, this is certainly unexpected.” Noita Vanora says as the Kenovani comes to them. Noita Rayette looks up, and smiles as she sees the pod of Coshitons come to them.

“Oh, wonderful.” The otter Noita swims to them, and raises her right arm, “I, Noita Rayette of the Amnien merfolk, greet you peacefully, in the name of Guardian Charybdis.”

Samudra raises his trident to her paw, “And I, Triton Samudra of the Holsien merfolk, greet you peacefully in the name of Guardian Kraken. So let it be.”

“Were you looking for us?” Rayette asked.

“I was about to ponder the same question.” Vanora said with a chuckle.

“No, our youngest suddenly felt a surge of energy to bolt without a warning.” Samudra jested. Arnaav purred loudly as he pushed his head into Bertone’s chest, hugging him as hard as he can.

“I was just thinking how my Son was faring.” Bertone says as he rubs his large paws up and down the kid’s back.

“Not well.” Vanora said, “He stayed upon the land for far too long, and he is still recovering.”

“Son?” Rayette turns to him, “Is this true?? Are you alright?”

Arnaav turns around, still keeping within the arms of his Dad, “I am alright, Mother. I was with Merrick, and the humans who live with him take good care of me!” He says with zeal.

“I hope you are not getting into trouble.” Rayette says sternly, “You know you should not venture onto the land for more than 14 suns – I can already see your waning health.”

“Leave him be,” Bertone dismissed, “He is in the sea now, and he is getting better.” The polar Triton turns to his own pod to call for a reprieve “It has been half a sun’s travel! We shall rest for sustenance!”

“I will tell operate the Scouts and Hunters then.” Rayette says as she and her daughter move to them, knowing Bertone is going to want to spend as much time with his son as he can.

“As for us,” Bertone says as he swims and carries his boy, “It is past time for another lesson.”

“OoH! Father!” Arnaav spoke up as he squirmed out of those thick, warm arms, and swam up and onto his back, “I met this human while I was on land – a human girl. I think she might be my mate!”

“Oh? A human mate, you say.” Bertone says as he swims forth, “Tell me about her then.”


“Woo, that was. Awesome!” Adam says as he walks out of the place, “What time is it?”

“Like, 1AM.” Nick says, drunk with his pants perpetually slipping down.

“Not sure if this was a real Stag Party,” Harold said, “Merrick wasn’t here, and we didn’t have any sentimental crap or any wedding presents to do or some shit.”

“I’m up for a next time,” Adam said, “This place was fun. And we can arrange a better gay-themed party, and give it a few months for the whole ‘wedding’ thing to sink in, not just a few weeks after I just proposed.”

“Prissy lil… Whoa,” Nick took a swing, but swerved around.

“Ah, easy there.” Someone said as they helped him back up.

“Aight… *HIC* Whose sober nuff to drive?” Jamal asked, “I feel fine, but if I touch a wheel right now, my probation is gonna kick my ass.”

“Eeemm…” Adam pondered, before shrugging, “I’ve only had a couple of Cosmos. I’m pretty ok.”

“Wait, wait.” Harold said, “Since when do YOU drive?”

“I’ve been taking secret lessons for a couple of weeks. I do ok when Yuri’s teaching me, but I keep throwing Jamal around when he’s in the seat.”

“He fuckin bash my head in, man!”

“Do you even have a permit?” Harold said.

“Yeah, I got one.” Adam said as he takes out his wallet and pulls it out, “I’ll be right back, we’re only parked one level.”

“I don’t know, man,” Harold said, “Aren’t you supposed to have someone with you when you don’t have a license?”

“I’ll be right back,” Adam dismissed, “It’s literally 5 seconds away. You guys wait here, I wanna surprise you all.” He jested.

“Ugh, I’m too tired to argue.” Harold said, “Your ticket, your problem.”

“Gee, thanks,” Adam playfully punched him before he walked off.

“Fuck, my head…” Jamal groaned.


Kaiken and Umiato guide their pod through the bottom area of the Indian Ocean. Savarna adjusts her a few strings of around a couple of shells onto a short, singular branch – lately, a few Noitas and Adras have been crafting rods that they use to channel their power, calling them ‘staffs’, and so she is going with the trend. Umiato prefers to be free-handed, and besides, she must carry the gleaming egg safely with her full care.

Kaiken signals for the pod to slow down, as they all hear a distinct sound from below.

“Waallllllllhhhhhhhhhhhh…” Comes a low-pitch call as a few Sperm Whales glide below them. They gaze in awe of the selection of giants as it seems they prepare to dive down into the darkness. They Triton smiles gently as he sees a small whale stay close to its mother while they dive slowly, before clicking a sound to motion the pod to move.

Brishen chuckles as he holds his tiny daughter in his arms, with Penina billowing beautifully beside him, he then passes her back to his wife for her feeding, until his eyes catch something in the distance. The green fish hunter stops and stares into the vast blue before them, narrowing his eyes as the others swim past him.

“Brishen?” Penina said, the jellyfish mermaid gliding around him, “What is the matter?”

“… It cannot be…” Brishen’s eyes widen as he sees a pair start to approach rather quickly.

Kaiken signals to the right, and signals left, until his sonar and his sight immediately catches the existence of a living being. His eyes locks, and gasps quietly as he spots a silvery blue merman swimming away from a most bizarre animal, of a goat and fish.

“Stop!” He instructed. Several members cease their swimming on his command. Umiato and Savarna’s aura sights trace the energy of someone familiar. Both of them gasped as they see the long lost prince of their pod.

“Brother…” Savarna whispered with shock.

Merrick swims over to his old family for the first time in so many moons and endless suns… His chest pounds as he sees his Mother and Father… The graceful, white mermaid looking with surprise, the strong, dark blue merman looking with shock, and the young, mild frilled mermaid looking with a mixture of her parents.

Brishen compressed the urge to jet up and hug with the banished Triton as he comes closer to them, his insides churning as he yearns to tell Merrick everything that’s happened since his exile. He whines internally, also thinking of how the Triton would react to their own Theros Hunter showing such a display…

Kaiken pushes through his shock with a stern, judgmental gaze before his own son, as he has arrived to the front of the pod “What do you mean to come to us. You know you are Coshiton.” He stated.

‘Predictable,’ Merrick thought as his eyes leered with exasperation to his father. ‘Always with the stone-like formality.’

“After all of this time, Father,” Merrick said, “Of all this time, since I was banished, not knowing whether I was dead or alive. That is truly all you have to say to me?”

“You know the Laws… Coshiton.” Kaiken answered, holding his trident, his stomach sinking to see a regular, human-made spear mounted on Merrick’s back instead of his own trident, “You should not be here, before us. No rogue may ever come back to the pods they were once born. What you do and where you go is no longer relevant in this, or anywhere.”

“You can at least call me by that you have named me.” Merrick said, “Despite the archaic concept that I somehow do not exist anymore, I still live as I am and as I was.”

“You will address me with the proper respect that I once taught you.” Kaiken scowled, pointing his trident at Merrick “Do not think I will not-”

“Kaiken!” Umiato grabbed one of his strong arms. A look of shock overtakes the mighty Triton again as he looks into his mate’s eyes glimmering with a flash of anger. “And you will not treat to him with anything less than how you have treated him before he left your side.”

Kaiken growled stubbornly in his hesitation, but showed restraint in his words. The whole pod feels a distinct shudder from Umiato’s tone – they rarely hear any kind of hostility or anger from her. Kaiken glared back back to his son, “State your purpose. Why have you returned to us… Merrick.”

“I humbly seek a private audience with the Noita of the pod.” Merrick said, calming himself as well. “I have a request that only she can grant, if she will allow it.”

“As I said, you know the Laws, Merrick.” Kaiken repeated, “At this time, you do not have the right to be with us, nor did you-”

“I believe I was asking of Mother’s permission.” Merrick said, “Not for yours, Father.”

“Watch your tone with me, Merrick.” Kaiken warned.

‘You won’t even call me Son anymore?’ Merrick thought.

“I am telling you for your own safety,” Kaiken continued, “You may not-”

“I acknowledge him,” Umiato interrupted while she drifted forward, gaining another shocked look from her husband, “And I accept the Coshiton’s request.”

“Umiato.” Kaiken sternly said, “You know what happens when a Coshiton comes back to his pod. This is not about principle.”

“One mermaid with one rogue should not draw attention.” Umiato answered, before turning to look at him, “And besides, he is my son. What sort of parent would ever dream of rejecting their child?” She asks with a hypothetical flick of her tone. Kaiken sighs through his nostrils as he leers at the two of them.

“Come.” Umiato says calmly as she places a hand onto Merrick’s back, “I will allow your private audience.”

“Thank you.” Merrick said as he turns with her, and swims away from the pod. Savarna grimaces as her sibling swims away from her. Her hands clench on her short staff as she fights every impulse to rush up to him and beg him to take her to race some dolphins are help her set up her Sea Spot the next time they are in his waters.

Kaiken glances, and grumbles, as he sees his daughter fight her thoughts and feelings.

Umiato and Merrick swim down to a bed-reef of pink coral darting with blue and green and yellow fish. Merrick turns right around, and hugs his heavenly mother. Umiato holds him tightly in turn as her son nuzzles her as he whines affectionately.

“Thank you for seeing me, Mother…” Merrick muttered.

“… No child should ever have to ask permission to see their mother and father.” She said lowly. “I have missed you.”

“And I have missed you as well. And everyone…” Merrick then look to the beautiful pouch with the opal egg tucked away in its soft folds. He smiles as he feels along the smooth surface, “Will it birth soon?”

“Hahaha, no.” She says, “This one still has several moons before it decides to hatch. So,” Umiato drifts backward to look at her son, overjoyed to see him so very healthy and now as an overflowing glow about him. “What do wish me to grant?”

“My mate has given me this,” Merrick lifts up his left hand, and showed Umiato the sterling platinum ring with the small diamonds with the thing curves and swirls, “It is a symbol of a sacred ritual humans hold to bond with each other.”

“…” Umiato takes Merrick’s hand with both of hers, examining the ring closely, “… Such stunning detail and elegant design on such a small item. And these stones are so small and beautiful…” She gives a small gasp as she notices the ring being planted into Merrick’s webbing, “Is this embedded into your flesh??”

“No,” Merrick chuckled, “It is a ring, I put it on while in human form. My flesh just reformed around it.”

Umiato then looks to Merrick’s chest, and sees an heart-jeweled angelic key pendant twinkling on a silver chain, “Is this human made as well?” She says as she touches it.

“Yes. It is another gift from my love.” Merrick smiled.

“Humans do have such eloquent taste with metal and stone.”

“Yes. And in the ritual I mentioned, both partners are given a ring by the other. My human gave me this ring. Mother…” Merrick digs into his stiff net pouch, and brings out a pouch. He empties it over his other hand, and lets a few oddly shaped pearls, and a couple of small and tiny round pearls drift slowly to his palm.

“Oh, I see now…”

“Will you please make a ring for my mate with these pearls?” Merrick asked, his chest pounding again, “I-It needs to fit this rod too,” He also brings out a short wooden dowel, “This wood is the size of his finger.”

“Ah yes.” Umiato takes the rounded stick and a large, jagged black pearl, “Reformation then?”

“Y-Yes.” Merrick nods, his insides churning with hopeful optimism.

“Very well then.” Umiato scoops the various pearls from Merrick’s hand, while her inner power started to radiate from her hands, “Hold my wrists, and close your eyes.”

“Yes, Mother.” Merrick smiles with glee as he gently takes her arms and does as he is told.

Reformation; an art that requires a lot of energy and thought. Through a Noita’s power, and a Triton’s imagination, the pair collaborates on a transformation of an item of any sort – some tridents are fashioned this way, while others are crafted manually from various materials.

The pearls’ structure began to morph and melt in the Noita’s hand as her light begins to reshape their form.


“Why is it, that every time I do a graveyard shift,” Yuri says as she and Dennis walk along the halls of the hospital, going to reorganize the equipment, and then to change the bedsheets, “The hospital always chooses to go into a slow night?”

“Is there really nothing for you to do here?” Dennis asked, “I’m still in my volunteer hours, ever since the psychiatric ward was built right next door.”

“Yeah. I always request for as many hours as I can, but for the past while, all I’ve been doing is checking on patients, I.V.s, bedpans, and other stuff… Ah, sorry, I shouldn’t be bitching like this.”

“N-No, it’s cool,” Dennis smiled, “I like listening to you, and I can only hope I can help or something…”

“Thanks, Denny,” Yuri smiles as she pats his shoulder, “I usually complain to my roommates, but Jamal barely gives a damn, and he always has to make a sex joke or a sarcastic reply. Adam’s ok, but he never really has any good advice. Merrick’s always a good ear, though his suggestions are a bit silly, and he hardly understands what I’m saying since he’s not from around here.”

“Do you even have a diary?”

“Eh, I used to. My grandma scolded me for not writing my private thoughts in Japanese-”

“Wait, your grandma read your diary?”

“No. She just caught me writing in English, and gave me a small scold. And I kept trying to keep up with a diary, but I just lost interest. I either got too much to think about, or I was too lazy to bother with a diary.”

-BEEP BEEP- Yuri’s pager dings up from her belt, “I’m glad you’re here anyway; quiet halls like this get a little spooky when it’s only me and a few other nurses and doctors.” She picks up her pager, and looks at it.

“Heheheh, thanks, Yuri,” Dennis smiled, “I’m usually not supposed to-”

“What…” Yuri stares at her pager,


Yuri takes out her phone, calls a number, and holds it to her ear, “This is Dr Umiyama, on station, what’s the Emergency?” She listens for a moment, “… What?? What are you saying, is he…” her stomach sinking as she stands there, her feet and hands becoming cold and numb. “O-Oh my God…”

“Yuri? What’s wrong?”

Yuri bolted to the nearest window. She gasps as she sees flashes of red and white. “Oh my God, no. O-Ok, I’m on my way, get him to the ER and get the detox and disinfectant equipment ready,” Yuri ends the call, buttons up her lab coat, and started to trot, “I have to go!”

“Yuri! Wait!” Dennis calls out.

“Later!” Yuri pants with terror as she sprints down the halls, ‘What happened??’ She thought frantically as she jumps down the stairs, ‘What the hell happened??’


The glowing hoop between Umiato and Merrick rotates slowly in the water as invisible chisels carve into the nautical gem, smoothing out around the wooden dowel, before the process slows down, with the ring’s color darkening and sliding down from the small cylinder.

A cracking sound can be heard as the ring lowers down into the same pouch its pieces came from. Merrick pulls at both ends of the silvery ropes to seal the little bag.

“That was faster than expected.” Umiato smiles. “It is a small item, I suppose.”

“It’s perfect.” Merrick says as he holds it dearly before tucking it safely into his stiff-net bag. “I better leave now. I have something to give to Sister before I depart.”

“Very well, Son.” Umiato then places her hand onto Merrick’s back as they ascend from the reef, and swim off.

The pod idle as they wait at the sandy bottom, a few of the scouts have been gliding forward below a mile outward in several directions. Kaiken paces stubbornly, still feeling a little scorned that the assemblence of order and proper lawful etiquette has been breached, merely by the arrival of a Coshiton to his own pod. It’s simply not done.

Adra Savarna wonders about the branches of coral growing here and there along the sand, before her senses pick up the strong radiance of her mother, and the familiar shine of her brother. She turns around, and smiles as she sees them both coming their way she swims forward, and meets Merrick shortly.

“I have to leave now, Sister.” Merrick says.

“Wha…” Savarna’s smile fades almost instantly, “But you must-”

“You know the Laws, Daughter.” Kaiken said as he comes beside her. He turns his gaze to Merrick with a heated stare, “I assume you have concluded your business.”

“I will be removed from your imbalance shortly, Father.” Merrick retorted, using an attitude he never would have gotten away with in the past.

“Know your place.” Kaiken growled as his fist clenched on his trident.

“Son…” Umiato squeezes Merrick’s shoulder gently, “Do not taint yourself with disrespect so easily.”

“Yes, Mother.” Merrick nodded, before turning to his sibling, “And what is this you have here, Sister?” He said as he notices Savarna’s rod.

“It is a staff. A few Noitas and Adras have been making such items of late. I have been trying to make one of my own, but I cannot seem to become satisfied with previous designs.”

“Perhaps, if I may suggest…” Merrick begins to dig into his bag.

“Merrick-” Kaiken clenches his teeth.

“Kaiken, this is not the right time.” Umiato warned as she drifts next to him, “I would like to see and feel my Son while it lasts…”

“Ghh…” Kaiken restrains himself.

Merrick pulls out a string of tied oyster shells in a sort of garland, topped with the largest shell, and leading down by size, “I tried to make these into a sort of armor to tie on, but I could not quite figure it out.”

“You mean to tie it around the staff, Brother?” Adra Savarna asked as he approached her.

“Let us see…” Merrick puts the top of the array at the top of the shaft, and started to coil the oyster garland around the staff in a spiral sight, with the pearly sides of the shells facing outward and the black sides press into the wood. As he crafts on the staff, Merrick glances, and notice something on Savarna’s headband – where her shell-link to Denizyr used to be, is now a small, white scallop shell tucked into the seaweed band, marked with the Chinese kanji for ‘moon’…

Merrick smiles as he looks back to the staff, and secures it, “How does it look?” Savarna takes her short staff, and examines the gleaming Mother of Pearl scales arranged in a downward spiral, the larger shells up and the smaller shells ending down.

“This feels as a good style.” She answered, smiling as she channels her power into the rod, and seeing the white textures shimmer from within, otherwise remaining unchanged. “Woooow.”

“I must leave now.” Merrick says as he drifts backward.

“Wha-Wh-What?” Savarna looked up pleadingly, “But you have just arrived! Y-You cannot leave so soon.”

“I have to, Sister…” Merrick moves back, and rubbed her shoulder, “If I stay for too long, the Ningyo will come and tell me to leave. You know that.” He said with a wry smile.

“Y-You still have time… B-Brother…” Savarna groaned with sadness as Merrick kisses her forehead.

“Please come and find me if you are ever in my waters, Sister.” He said, giving her a soft hug, before moving back, “Goodbye.”

As Merrick starts to swim away, Brishen sputters something under his breath, hesitating, before speeding forward. “Brishen??” Penina asks as she reaches for him, after just taking their child into her translucent hands.

“Wait!” Brishen called, halting him quickly. Merrick whips around to see his emerald green friend before the pod, equipped with a lot more tools and items since the last time he saw them.

“What?” Merrick blinked.

“Noita Umiato, Triton Kaiken,” He turns to them, “Me and a few of the hunters have spotted a few Abyssal Turtles a ways from here. I request that I go herd them back to the depths, along with the company of the C… Coshiton.”

“What??” Kaiken scowls again, “Their survival is none of our concern. And besides, he is not-”

“One merman with a rogue should also not attract much attention either.” Umiato spoke up, “And besides, Abyssal Turtles are blind, and it would be cruel not to see to their safety. Surely not one of us would wish to be stranded in a foreign place, open and vulnerable without any help.” She turns a glance to him, “Right, my love?”

Kaiken huffs impatiently as once again, his authority is unarmed by just a word and chance. “Do what you will, Theros Brishen..” He finally said.

“Theros?” Merrick quirks a brow as his old friends swims to him, “Not of hunting, I gather.” He smirked, crossing his arms.

“Aheh…” Brishen chuckled as he draws his spear, “A lot has changed since you have been gone…” Merrick turns and glides as he takes his harpoon as the two of them go off.

“I see you too have a child.” Merrick sneered, “She looks nothing like you.”

“For that, I am thankful. A mermaid looking like me would be too grotesque with these scars of mine.”

Adra Savarna’s eyes glimmer with tears as she watched the two of them swim away. She has not seen her brother for so long… She has had so many doubts about him, about what happened, she’s missed him so much… And now he has to leave as soon as he’s got here… It’s not fair…

“Daughter.” Umiato said. Savarna turns up to her, “They will be working in very dark conditions.” Kaiken looks to the side stubbornly; “It would be wise if you were to escort them safely though the depths. We are not nocturnal beings, after all.” Savarna’s chest flutters with hope from the suggestion, “You must go with them to be their light. Go on now.”

“Y-Yes, Mother!” Having a legitimate excuse to somewhat defy her Father’s strict code, Savarna races forward with her rod. Umiato smiles as she sees her two children reunite from afar, “Brother!”

“Huh?” Merrick turns around just in time, “Ohmf!” He grunts as his little sister hugs him tight. After pausing, he hugs her back tightly. Brishen adjusted his numerous belts as they part, and swim away, with Merrick holding Savarna’s hand.

Kaiken snorts with agitation as he turns, and swims off. Umiato rolls her eyes before turning to the pod, “We shall rest her for the night. Hunters, go find us game,” She instructed, “Scouts, look towards the areas. Alert us of any sort of danger.”

The pod disperses accordingly.



Rajani moans lowly as her lips push and roll deeply with Chloe’s mouth as she sits on her girlfriend’s lap, inside of her bedroom. “Mmnnh…” Her delicate hands race over Chloe’s shoulder, her thumb brushing over the hidden strap under her shirt, before roaming down.

Chloe breaks the kiss for a moment, “Why’d you stop?”

Rajani chuckles, “I want to make dis last, Chloe…” She kisses Chloe again on the pomegranate lipgloss, “We haven’t have a moment to ourselves in a long while.”

“Well, don’t blame that on me, curry stuff.” She said, “Ever since I broke the strap-on, Jerry’s been riding my ass constantly. I think it’s a jinx or something.”

“Pfff! Hahaha,” Rajani cackles, “Always the romantic, right sweetheart?”

“You know me, baby,” Chloe kisses that cheek, “I got romance coming outta my ass.”

“Well, you know…” Rajani rises up, and starts to shrug off her sweater, showing a glimpse of her orange and pink satin bra, “Sometimes I wish your romance would come outta somewhere odder dan your ass.”

“You don’t say…” Chloe’s hand reaches behind her, towards the nightstand while Rajani’s face is being slowly roamed by her shirt. Just as her hand reaches the drawer, her cellphone starts to ring out. “Agghhh…” Rajani takes off her shirt casually this time, while Chloe picks up her phone, and holds it to her ear.

“Talk to me… Jerry, wha- Jerry, calm down… Well where is he, and what does this have to do with me? … Wait, what?? You can’t close! I need to work!” Rajani looks curiously, “It’s just Adam, just one performer, how much… What? Are you freaking kidding me?? Who’s even left?? And where the hell is Carla in all this? … Alright, alright, calm down, Jerry, I can run the Waltz tonight… Yes I can, just like last time… You know me, I’m the best damn procrastinator and bullshitter in Hawaii… Yes, fine, I’ll be right there, just take your pills and don’t die… Alright, bye.”

Chloe ends the call and growls, “Fuckin blood-popping panic freak.” She grumbles as she gets up to start preparing herself.

“What’s wrong?”

“Adam was supposed to cover most of the shows tonight since everyone has fucked off for the day, Carla’s at the doctor’s for her next hormone treatment. And Jerry with his high-blood pressure is having a panic attack.”

“What? What happened to Adam??”

“I don’t know, he’s not answering his phone, apparently, and he’s an hour late.” Chloe changes her shirt as she paces around, “And now I need to get down there to improvise so we don’t lose a night of profit.”

“Do you need me for anything, honey?” Rajani asked as she too gets up.

“If you want to pick up a volunteer shift at the Waltz, that’ll help a little.”

“Alright.” Rajani puts back on her shirt, and goes to walk around the bed.

“And, Raj.”


Chloe sighs as she walks to her girlfriend, casting her eyes down, “I’m sorry… This was supposed to be our day together. I’m sorry I’m not as romantic as some fat faggots I know… I just wanna say that I’m trying, and-”

“It’s ok, honey,” Rajani kisses Chloe softly, “I understand. Come on.” She pats her should, “We have a club to run.”

“Ok…” Chloe said with a smile as they went, ‘How do you put up with bitches, babe?’


Kaiken gazes over an enormous school of golden-green rays, migrating as a huge community, with the ones on top skimming and even jumping the surface, while the mass reached all the way down to a great height. He exhales as the sunset light illuminates everything around, making the light beams dance and shimmer through the rays and wavering surface.

“… How must you encourage and indulge in his depravity?” Kaiken asked to break the silence, sensing someone approaching from behind him.

“I would hardly give such a heavy burdening name to his life now.” Umiato says as she looks at her husband, “He is still the same merman as he was when I put that mark on his skin.”

“Hmph.” Kaiken shook his head, “Did you not hear him speak to me? He is lucky I reign authority over him no more.”

“Talk like that does not spawn from nothing, Kaiken.” Umiato said, “After all of those years of raising him, teaching him, training him, loving him.” She looks to him with a hurt face, “Did you truly have nothing else to say to him other than ‘Be gone’?”

“You know the Laws as well as I do, Umiato,” Kaiken turns around to face her, “Even if I showed him a more merciful face, he can not return to us. Ever. Do you think the Ningyo would be so lenient?”

“We are no where near any of the Kingdoms.” She rebuttled, “The closest is Kundam, and it would have taken several suns to report to Son if he stayed as long.”

“That is not the risk we can afford to take so easily. I was thinking of HIS safety.”

“You were thinking of YOUR order.”

“My love,” Kaiken swims to her, “I will confess… I was surprised, and happy to seem him at least once, since it happened… Regardless. Even through all of this, he should not have come in the first place.” He feels her cheek as she glares at with, “He was half of what we are, and returning to us only reminds everyone of a past forsaken by fate.”

“Kaiken.” Umiato shakes her head.

“Do you think I felt only anger when he returned? He was my Son. And now I cannot-”

“Enough.” Umiato smacks his strong hand away as the water pushed them apart, “You say the pod was fractured when he was banished. Our family was wounded with his leave, is that so?”

“You know-”

“Then when are you going to understand more sides than one??” She asked with hurtful exasperation.

“How would you have changed it?” Kaiken asked, “Our Son was confused and committed multiple sins, and he did them knowingly. If not for the order of our Laws, what then??”  

“I would not have brought his crimes to the light so soon.” Umiato retorted, “Laws or no, he did not deserve what he was dealt.”

“Umiato…” Kaiken huffed with annoyance, “You know full well that if we did not punish him, the Ningyo will.”

“His crimes were committed upon the land. They would not have suspected anything.”

“So what would you have him do?!” Kaiken demanded, “Abandon his pod while still retain the rights as an Adra?? Shirk his role of existence for the sake of humans?? Refuse to have him answer for his sins as if he is more privileged than any other Adra in the ocean?! The very suggestion of such an arrangement is-”

“Do not say it.” Umiato pointed a finger at him, her eyes rimming with thin glitter, “No more. Do not dare anymore. Our Son has a far good a nature than you will ever say. He did NOT deserve to be exiled when he was, nor did he deserve all the suffering that he endured.”

“No matter what you say or feel,” Kaiken turns sideways, “It is better this way… At least for him… He has his man. He has his health. He may never hide himself again…”

“Kaiken… I love you…” Umiato quivered with anger and sadness, “But you are truly selfish.”

Kaiken staggered for a moment, and turned his gaze over to her, “Selfish??”

“Even in those previous words in this moment, you gain an air that plainly shows your regret over what was robbed of YOU.” She stated, holding her arms open, “When are you going to learn that you did not just lose an heir on that sun? Our Son lost EVERYTHING on that night.”

“Hhhh…” Kaiken watches the school of flapping rays swim their way.

“Not that you may ever suspect, but there was a I were I resented you after Son was banished.”


“He could have stayed in our pod for longer.” Umiato’s eyes slowly release a shimmering mist, “I discover something new and unique of our Son – his love a love I have never seen before. And you did not allow me to know his pain and joy.”

“That does not matter.”

“Does it not?!” Umiato rose her voice as she swims up, “Were you have eyes like mine!”

Kaiken feels a sudden chill.

“Our Son hid himself for so long for something beyond his control. He lied to us to stay with us. Do you not see the fearful innocence in that?!”

The Triton’s body begins to feel colder, as he also notices slivers of icy strips brushing around.

“I wanted to talk to him when I discovered his mate. I wanted to know how long he has had to wound himself with secrecy, and I wanted him to confide in me so he would not have to endure so much hurt.”

“Umiato-” Kaiken turned around, the water turning very cold by now.

“That is why I resented you. I knew it was only a matter of time before the Ningyo would arrive and demand for his exile, but it was you who did not even give him a chance!” Sparkling ice crystals are beginning to form as they spiraled around them.

“Be calm, Umiato, please.” Kaiken swims to her.

“I could not stop hating you for almost an entire year after it happened!” She ranted as crystals continued to form, sink, and float around her, “I knew it was not the truth, but that is what I felt in my heart.”


“You were the one who robbed me of my Son, Kaiken!”


With her hand layered in ice and planted upon Kaiken’s chest, and her other hand placed over her egg pouch, with a protective sphere of frost around, her eyes issued the mist of tears. Kaiken watches with hurt and shocked eyes as the ice creeps a little wider upon his scarred chest as she pants and sobs with anger.

“You took him from me…” She cried, “Years apart, his soul was ripped apart several times over because you chose to exile him… Were you have eyes like mine, you would seen how much suffering your austerity has brought him…” She wept as the ice crackled around more, covering Kaiken’s front with a thin layer of cold, “He died more than once because of you… I HATED you… The one whom I am destined to love… Do you know how much that hurts, Kaiken… To burn my Son’s flesh and to scorn my love for you… As a Triton how can you turn your back…”

“Umiato…” Kaiken puts his hand onto her wrist, and began to push it down. The ice immediately shattered softly as her hand released her power, as well as the small barrier around her egg drifting into icy dust and drifting down. He pulls her in as the water around them gradually warms up, very little by little.

“I am sorry, my love…” Kaiken muttered as he holds her close, “I am sorry…” Umiato sobbed as she holds her egg pouch, while his strong, hard arms embrace her firmly, “I am sorry…”


It’s been a very, very nice few suns. Merrick can’t stop smiling as he holds onto the Capricorn’s mount. He cannot begin to describe how scared and nervous he was to return to his pod in the first place – he knows his Mother would be happy to see him, but he was not so sure about Savarna – the last time they even saw each other was when she tried to take out Adam so he could possibly come back… But seeing her bright face again, so full of joy and play, it warms his heart to see she still loves him…

Brishen… A Theros Hunter… Someone worthy of teaching… Merrick can’t fathom just how and when he would get such recognition, to be able to teach others to hunt. When they were still hunting together, Brishen could hardly throw his spear in straight line, and he was so wild with his attacks and approach… Merrick laughs as he remembers Brishen’s words…

‘After you left… Hunting was not a game anymore. The fun disappeared with you.’

Herding the Abyssal Turtles was easy enough, but then a few Strike Squids appeared. Savarna’s art of defense is nothing Merrick has seen before – she was able to ward them off while Brishen skillfully dispatched one of the squids with such precision. Honestly, Merrick feels out of practice compared to him.

And then, Kaiken… “Father… Does he even care for me anymore?” Kaiken was just as stonefaced and formal as always, except he was effectively stating that he should not be here. Thankfully, they were nowhere near Atlantis, so the Ningyo shouldn’t have gotten to them as quickly as Kaiken was implying.

Merrick’s train of thought stopped as he can sense the Capricorn slowing down. He smiles as he can feel the waters suddenly warm all around him, his chest bounding with excitement. He rises, and dismisses the Capricorn before swimming quickly around the rock reefs, and digging in his bag for a scale.

The door clicks open, and Merrick walks into the house, “I’m hoooome!” Merrick announced, to dead silence, “… Guys? Huh…” He hears a distant clinking, and sees Sally push through the doggie door. “Oh, Sally.” He pets her as she whines and barks about, excited about the intrusion of a familiar face. Merrick glances out the window, and sees Roxas prowling along the driftwood fence.

“Guess no one’s home…” He enters the bedroom, and sees Skyler curled up in Adam’s spot, “Awwww.” He coos as he comes in. With a few soft strokes, the kitten tightened as he stretched in his sleep, before settling down.

Merrick picks up his phone, and dials for Adam’s number, before holding it up to his ear.

[“Hi, this is Adam. Sorry I missed your call, but leave your name and number, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you, bye.”]

“Straight to voicemail?” Merrick asked. He dialed for Yuri’s number, and listened.

… [“Moshi moshi. Yuri here, sorry I-]

“Her too?” Merrick said, “That’s weird, where is everybody?” He dialed Jamal’s phone, and listened closely.

… *Riiiiing* “Finally…” Merrick mumbled. *Riiiiing* …

“Hullo?” Jamal said, sounding tired.

“Hey, Jamal, it’s Merrick.” He said, “I just got home, and-” He stops as he hears the door open, and he walked out, still naked and equipped with his sea gear, “Oh, there you are.” He ended the call, and came up to him, “I just got home, but Adam’s phone is off…” Merrick blinked as he looks at Jamal’s face.

“Merrick… I… Shit…” He mumbled, avoiding eye-contact.

“… Jamal? Everything ok?” Merrick peered closer, “… Your eyes look… Are you exhausted or something.” He also notices Jamal’s clothing – the side of his left leg is filthy with a crusty pink substance, as well as a few smudges on his arms… And a few dark red/brown spot here and there.

“Merrick, I uh… I don’t know how to say this…” Jamal sniffed as he rubbed his eyes with his thick hands. Something else is off too… His smell. Jamal doesn’t smell clean, he smells like dirt and sweat that’s been aged.

“Jamal, what’s wrong?” Merrick said, “Why do you look upset?”

“Something happened, Merrick…” Jamal’s voice is shaking, as if he’s trying to fight off the urge to cry, “We went out a few nights ago, a-and…”

“What happened, Jamal? Stop stalling.” Merrick said firmly, “What is wrong? Adam’s phone is off, and so is Yuri’s. And I can tell you haven’t showered recently. What is happening, and why are you covered in filth and pink??”

“Fuck…” Jamal holds his eyes as he tries to compose himself. He walks away and goes to the kitchen table. “I can’t… I can’t right now, man…”

“Jamal.” Merrick spoke aloud as he pulled down that thick, strong arm turned him back around, and looked directly into those tired, brown and pink eyes, “Where is Adam?”

Jamal shook as he groans with pained exhaustion.

“Answer me!!” Merrick exclaimed, “Where is my husband?!”



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