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Title: Part of Your World
Chapter: Part 2 of 2 because of LJ post limits, Part 1 is here
Author: Boots
Rating: NC-17
Genre: Fantasy/fairy tale/postapocalyptic AU, romance
Warnings: Male/male sex, frottage
Pairing: Kai X Uruha/Uruha X Kai, some Aoi X Kazuki
Disclaimer: Boys belong to PS Company, I own the story only. Inspired by the movie The Little Mermaid, which is property of Disney, and the original story by Hans Christian Andersen
Summary: Years after a catastrophic deluge that covered nearly all of the Earth’s surface with water, more than half the human race has evolved into merfolk and are living in undersea kingdoms. The remaining people are living on what little dry land is left, scraping out a living as fishermen. The two worlds remain separate, until a not-so-little merfolk prince sees a beautiful young man on a boat, and wants to be part of his world.
Comments: Written for the uruai Summer Vacation Writing Challenge. My prompt (which, admittedly, I’ve interpreted rather freely) was as follows: Your theme is post apocalypse AU bandfic. Let yourself inspired by your prompt picture and imagine the boys in this world. How would this world work? How would the Gaze boys work inside it? How will this world find Kai and Uruha? The appearance of the Deepers toward the end of the fic, by the way, was inspired by SCREW’s Deep Six PV

Uruha left early the next day, after dishing out a bit more food for himself and Kai. He repeated that he was going to try to come in early to check on him.

Once he was gone, Kai rolled to the edge of the bed. He was bound and determined to teach himself to walk alone. If he was going to learn about this place, if he was going to experience it through the eyes of a Drylander, then he couldn’t stay in the bed in this cottage, could he?

He planted his feet on the floor, pushed upward . . . and launched himself into a standing position, flailing, stumbling, and falling back down on the bed. He caught himself, hands on mattress, panting.

And then, he pushed upward with his arms, getting back on his feet again. This time, he concentrated on finding a center of balance, of making gravity work for him, not against him . . .

He pushed one foot forward, then the other. It was a slow, awkward shuffle, to be sure. But he was walking. Now, he had to just lift the feet, like he did with Uruha . . .

He was stumbling again, arms flailing, and he fell forward toward the table, grabbing a chair to keep from falling all the way to the floor. Dammit. Had . . . to . . . push . . . up . . . again . . .

And he worked at it, and worked at it, throughout the day, concentrating on making his steps quicker, surer, on staying balanced, on lifting his feet . . .

By the time Uruha returned to the cottage, Kai was walking almost as well as a native-born Drylander. He’d even figured out how to sit down and push himself out of a chair.

“You must be doing better,” Uruha said, “if you’re out and about.” Kai nodded enthusiastically. “Do you feel well enough for me to show you some of the town?” Kai nodded again.

And the two of them headed out in the late afternoon, Kai walking beside Uruha with confidence – his gait a tiny bit wobbly, but nothing serious. He didn’t have to grab the other man’s arm at all.

“This is the tinker’s shop,” Uruha said, pointing to one of the squat buildings that made up the merchant district. Two men could be seen inside, hammering away on workbenches. “They repair things here. Over there is the tailor, they make and fix clothing. This is one of the metal shops . . .”

Kai peeked inside. Oh, they had fire in here, a LOT of it. The man inside was holding a piece of metal into the flames with tongs until it glowed red, as red as the fire itself. Then, he took it to a big slab of stone, grabbed a hammer, and began to bang at it.

Uruha noticed how intently the Wanderer was watching this. “Hey – you like that kind of thing?” he said. Kai nodded. “Did you ever do any of it where you came from?” Kai shook his head.

“You seem to have, well, a passion for life,” Uruha said. “You know – you appreciate things.” And it really was amazing to him that Kai could find such joy in what he considered plain and ordinary, the humdrum existence of a fisherman in a society that was, well, humdrum - focused on surviving, rather than living.

“Hey,” Uruha said, “have you ever been anywhere where things are different from this? You know – where people have more space, and lead an easier life? Because I’ve heard from some of the Wanderers that there’s still places like that, somewhere. Or so I’ve heard. They say in the Time Before – before the waters came, that is – the whole world was like that.”

Kai shook his head no. Oh, he’d been to a place that was “different,” all right. He’d lived there. Uruha was dreaming of luxury? That was the life Kai had lived as a merfolk prince, and all he’d wanted to do was escape it.

It all reminded him of a saying from back home – “The seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake.”

“Now that you’re better,” Uruha said, “maybe you can have a bath before dinner, right?” You use the water first, and then I’ll use it.” He put a hand on Kai’s arm as they headed back toward his place – not out of help, out of companionship. “And then, tomorrow, there’s supposed to be performers in the town square. Maybe we can go see them, if you’re up to it.”

Kai was very aware of that hand on his arm, and he liked it. He liked it an awful lot. It seemed like a very, well, human thing to do. And the fact that it was Uruha didn’t hurt, either.

* * *

Apparently, this “bath” thing involved running a tank of hot water, rinsing your body off and then lying in the tank. Drylanders seemed to think lying in the hot water was relaxing. It was a strange feeling to Kai – it was like being home, yet not like it. The water was fresh, not salt. He was still breathing air, not through gills, and he was just lying there, soaking.
Well, for Drylanders, it was apparently a novelty.

When Uruha gave him a spoon with his dinner, Kai decided to use it. He grabbed it, shoveling up some of the fish and cramming it in his mouth. There! Another Drylander skill mastered! He felt quite proud of himself.

Uruha watched him. His way of eating was rather . . . sloppy. He was still sloshing stuff all over the place. But uncouth as that part of him was, there was still something of a charm about him – and that, without saying a word.

Part of him almost hoped the Wanderer would never speak. What if he turned out to have a dull personality? It would certainly clash with the image Uruha had built up of him, which was . . . what? A fascinating person from an exotic place?

What was it about the Wanderer that made him feel he was unlike anyone he’d ever known before?

When Uruha went out in his boat the next day, Kai devoted the hours to going through the house, bit by bit, taking all the items out, handling them carefully, then putting them back. It was everything he’d had in his collection at home, and more. There were plates and platters, to be sure, and chopsticks, and silverware. There were pots and pans, including one extra-big pot used for steaming shellfish – what these people ate on their special occasions.

There were a few books, bound in a leathery material made from treating sharkskin, filled with yellowed pages covered with angular lines that he knew was the form of writing used here. He could make out a couple of characters, but most of it was unknown to him. That didn’t stop him from flipping the pages with fascination, studying the shapes, the patterns of what was on them.

What was on these pages, he wondered? Was it the knowledge of these people? Maybe stories about the Time Before?

He had everything put away by the time Uruha came back. “My partners were asking about you,” he said. “I told them you’re doing better, but you haven’t spoken yet.” He put down his bucket of the day’s catch. “They might see us at the performance tonight.” Uruha went over to his closet. “I’ve got a nice shirt for you to wear to that.” He pulled out a green garment – ironically, the color of Kai’s tail when he was in his true form. “How about this? For some reason, it reminds me of you.”

Kai looked at it, curiously. How could Uruha know? There was no way – he’d never seen him in mer form, and never would. But he nodded, enthusiastically.

When they were done with dinner, and Uruha had finished cleaning off the dishes (a quick dunk in a bucket of salt water), he said, “Okay, I’ll use the bathroom to get dressed.” He went to the closet, pulling out some clothes for himself. “You can do it right here.”

Kai sat down. Removing and replacing these clothes was another challenge – especially when it involved buttons. He’d watched Uruha get dressed that first morning, studying him intently, figuring out how buttons and zippers worked.

Pants on one leg at a time. Zipper pulled up. Button at the top fastened. And then, the shirt . . .

He was still struggling with the buttons when Uruha came out, fully dressed in a dark red shirt covered with a black vest and matching pants. “Let me help you with that,” he said. And he leaned over, pushing the little buttons through the hole . . .

He was close. So close that Kai could feel his breath. And all he could think of was that kiss he stole after he saved him, how close they had been, a deliciously forbidden act. He wanted to kiss him again, longed to lean forward and press their lips together.

Except Uruha leaned back with a smile. “There,” he said. “You’re done.”

And so was the chance of kissing him. Kai felt his heart sink.

But he brightened again as Uruha led him into the town square. There were people everywhere, sitting on benches that had been laid out for the performance. Their attention was centered on a raised platform at the other end of the square – a stage, just like they had in the forums and coliseums back home.

“They usually have musicians first,” Uruha whispered, “and then a play.”

Sure enough, two men came out in brightly colored clothes bearing stringed instruments, and began to play and sing a ballad about lost love.

Kai wasn’t paying much attention to them, though – he was looking around at the other people around him. So many Drylanders! Such a variety of sizes and shapes – tall ones, short ones, stocky ones, reedy ones. Male and female, young and old. Amazing how they were so like merfolk in some ways – their faces were similar, though their hair lay flat, rather than flowing around them as merfolk’s hair did in the water.

It was a beautiful night, the moon a crescent hanging low in the skies, the stars winking everywhere in their indigo velvet bowl. And the air was a perfect temperature, not too warm, not too cold. Perfectly comfortable.

He was just glad to be alive, to be here, to be with Uruha.

The musicians left the stage, and the play began. It also had a theme of love, of mistaken identity and messages delivered to the wrong recipients and people romancing someone who, unbeknownst to them, was an enemy of their clan. Again, Kai only halfway paid attention, though he laughed when everyone else did (well, made the motions of laughing anyway, given his voiceless state).

The play did, however, get him thinking about love.

Romantic relationships were definitely common in the mer kingdom. Gender didn’t matter, you loved whoever you loved. Of course, one was expected to reproduce, as well, and it wasn’t uncommon for a male-male couple to find a willing female to be their surrogate, in exchange for all three being involved in the child’s life. (That was the one thing mer society always expected of you, no matter what your social class – always be involved in the upbringing of children you helped create. Which made Kai wonder if any children had ever been fathered by merfolk visiting shore – that had to be the one exception to the rule.)

Sex was very much a part of their lives, too, though there wasn’t a heavy emphasis put on it. Mer gentitalia was almost identical to their land-based counterparts – it was just kept tucked away inside their bodies until they got sexually aroused, at which point they emerged from a slit in the tail.

Male-female mating was much the same as between humans. Two men made love with frottage and oral. Kai had both straight and gay experiences back home – he and Aoi had been together for awhile, before Aoi met Kazuki and fell in love.

What would it be like here? What would it be like to make love with Uruha?

Kai found himself looking away from his companion, blushing. He shouldn’t be thinking that way, not with the other man right beside him. What would make him think that Uruha would be interested in a man who couldn’t speak?

But part of him held out that hope, that he’d experience that before he went home, and refused to give it up.

* * *

The next day, the fourth in Kai’s seven, Uruha had an interesting proposal for him – “Why don’t I take you out on my boat for the day? You can see what I do, and it will be different for you than sitting around here.” Kai nodded with enthusiasm. He was quite interested in seeing how Drylanders went about fishing.

And so, they headed out to sea, Uruha’s two partners following in their own boat. “We’re going to be dropping the nets right here,” Uruha said, “looking for flounder.”

Now, Kai knew very well that schools of flounder weren’t in this area. They were several miles away. He shook his head, violently.

“What do you mean?” Uruha said.

Kai shook his head again, and pointed at the spot where he knew the flounder were located.

“What’s he doing?” Reita called from the next boat.

“I think he’s trying to tell us where to find flounder,” Uruha called back.

“What?” Ruki said. “He’s a Wanderer. What the fuck does he know about these waters?”

Oh, Kai knew more than they ever did, or ever would. He shook his head and pointed again.

“Guys,” Uruha said, “I think I’m going to try it. I’m going over there.”

“What?” Ruki said. “You’re crazy.”

“Call me crazy,” Uruha said, pulling up anchor, “but if this works, you’re going to be calling me a genius.”

“I’m going to be calling you a dreamer for even trying it,” Ruki called, watching him go. Looking over at Reita, he said, “What is it with him and this guy? Ever since he came, it’s like he’s built his whole world around him.”

“He’s in love,” Reita replied. “You can’t fault him for that.”

“In love?” Ruki said. “He’s known him for three days! The guy can’t even speak!”

“Sometimes,” Reita said, “some things speak louder than words.”

Ruki just shook his head and went back to his own nets – which were bringing in nothing. Zip, zero, goose egg. It was going to be one of those days.

Except it wasn’t in Uruha’s sector of the ocean. As Ruki watched in amazement, his parter hauled in a huge net of flounder.

“Well, I’ll be . . .” he said.

Reita smiled, broadly. “Now, you were calling him crazy, right?”

Ruki pulled up the anchor. “We’re going over there. This guy is some sort of fucking fishing genius. What, does he have a map of the ocean or something?”

Or something. If Ruki only knew . . .

* * *

The next two days, Kai continued to go out in the boat with Uruha, pointing out the best places to go for the best catches – and Uruha’s team continued to pull in huge hauls of fish. “I don’t know how the fuck he does it,” Ruki said, “but I’m glad he’s on our side.”

The group had cut themselves deals for the rest of the year (including Uruha paying off the medical treatment from the day Kai arrived, thanks to a healthy cache of crabs). They’d even been able to afford a couple of new pieces of clothing – considered a real luxury in their world.

And when they got home, Uruha would cook the best of the day’s catch for them, and talk, and Kai would listen, making gestures whenever he could to communicate. Except there was a new development the evening of his last full day on shore.

He’d started noticing it was easier to swallow the stew (and it was also easier to use the spoon now.) Uruha was talking about he and his mother had tried building their own crab traps once, while stirring the pot – and he dropped the spoon, reaching in to grab it, and yelping when he got burned.

Automatically, Kai leapt upward – yes, he was good enough with his legs to do that now – and said, “Are you all right?” And the words actually came out. They were harsher and more raspy than they were when he lived in the sea, of course, but he was talking.

Both of them froze in place. Uruha’s pain was forgotten. He just stared at Kai, eyes wide.

“You . . . talked,” he said.

“Yes,” Kai said. “I don’t know how, but it’s back.” And just in time for . . .no, he wasn’t going to think about it.

“I’m so glad,” Uruha said, walking toward him. “I . . .”

Kai got up, walking toward him as well. “You don’t have to say anything, Uruha,” Kai said. “I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done. You didn’t have to take me in like this.”

“Yes, I did,” Uruha replied. “I did. I don’t know why, but I felt like somehow, well . . . you were important to me.” He laughed, softly. “I know that sounds crazy.”

“It isn’t,” Kai said. “Because . . . I was the one who saved you, when you fell off your boat.”

“You?” Uruha said. “How is that possible? You just got here!”

“I was hanging around before that,” Kai said. And he was going to leave it at that.

“So I should be thanking you . . .” And then, Uruha looked at him with puzzlement. A name. He still didn’t know what to call him.

Kai spontaneously reached out and pulled him into an embrace, and it just felt right – for both of them. “Kai,” he said. “My name is Kai.”

“Kai,” Uruha repeated, softly. And then he leaned toward Kai, and their lips met for the first time. It was a soft kiss, gentle and warm and sweet, and unlike any Kai had ever experienced. Because the contrast of Uruha’s soft, moist lips and the dry air was making his heart pound.

A loud bubbling noise interrupted them. “Oh, my God, the stew!” Uruha said, pulling away from Kai and rushing to the stove, managing to salvage their dinner just in time.

Kai smiled to himself. He wasn’t going to think about the fact that this was the last day. Oh, no, not at all. But at least he’d gotten his voice back in time to tell the other man his name.

And when he went, it would be with the memory of Uruha’s kiss.

* * *

They had an actual two-way conversation during dinner for the first time, and Kai tried to keep the subject matter from himself as much as possible. Uruha did ask him where he was from (he gave a vague “Somewhere far, far from here”), what his everyday life was like (“Boring, that’s why I left”) and whether he was a fisherman himself (“Let’s say I have a lot of experience with fish.”)

And the rest of the time, he asked questions about Uruha’s town, and its barter system, and his two partners – like what happened to Reita’s nose. He knew it might be his only chance to satisfy his curiosities.

At the end of the meal, Uruha said to him, “There’s going to be a dance band in the square tonight, do you want to go?”

Dance? He processed the word through his mental encyclopedia of Drylander terminology and came up with “moving around to music.” “I can’t really dance,” he said.

“Neither can I,” Uruha said, “but it would be fun to try. Besides, we could just watch other people for awhile.”

And so, they headed for the square, which was cleared of benches tonight. On the stage were a couple of pipes players, a couple of stringed instrument players, and a guy beating a big drum. People were clutching onto each other, whirling around in time to the music. Some of them had their feet following orderly steps, others were just kind of stumbling, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

He wasn’t going to think about the fact that this time tomorrow night, he’d be back in his own world, and wouldn’t be seeing this anymore. He was just going to grab onto every single moment, hold onto it and savor it.

“Well?” Uruha said. “Want to try?”

A big smile crossed Kai’s face. “Yes,” he said.

He wrapped his arms around Uruha, and then they were moving around and around, laughing, not really keeping a hundred percent to the beat but at least close (and closer than some native-born Drylanders around him). And Kai looked up at the stars, and breathed the air, and heard the music, and felt the wonderful man in his arms . . .and thought he’d probably never be this happy again.

* * *

There was a different atmosphere tonight as they headed back to Uruha’s place, holding hands and pausing for the occasional kiss. They both knew this evening wasn’t going to end with Kai sleeping on the bed and Uruha on the floor.

Kai felt his stomach fluttering with nervous excitement as they entered the cottage, and took their turns using the bathroom, as always. (Kai had even figured out how to clean his teeth with a paste from watching Uruha do it). And his suspicions were confirmed when, instead of getting out the bedroll, Uruha sat on the bed, and held his arms out to him.

“Come,” he said, and Kai walked over and sat down at his side.

Kai let himself be drawn into Uruha’s embrace, their lips coming together in a soft kiss. He brought his arms around the other man, drawing him in tighter . . . yes, kissing up here was very much like in his own world, wasn’t it?

Except when Uruha’s tongue began to brush his own . . . well, that was different. Because now that he was used to experiencing dry all the time, the sensation of wet was, well . . .

Amazing. Incredible. Something ordinary tuned extraordinary, the way the sunset dyed the sky all sorts of colors.

Kai let his head tip backward, and Uruha began to stroke his tongue down his neck . . . a trail of moist against the dry. It was so hot, the slick thing that was brushing against him, moving along his pulse line, working upward to his jaw – which Uruha traced, slowly, sliding upward.

Kai found himself letting out a low sound, fingers clutching in Uruha’s hair, pulling him closer. Oh, dear merciful gods of the sea, he felt like a virgin. Well, in a way, he was – he’d never experienced this as a being with legs before.

His eyes fluttered closed as the other man began to nibble his ear. How, exactly, did two Drylanders make love? He knew some of it, from the bawdy talk he’d heard from the boats. Between males and females, it seemed to be pretty much like it was for merfolk. Between two men, however . . .

Uruha eased back from Kai, a smile playing at his lips. And then, he reached for the bottom of his shirt, pulling it off and dropping it on the floor. The sight of his chest, with small, pink nipples standing out from the flawless skin . . .

Merfolk were born and lived nude, except for decorations they wore on their bodies. The sight of a male chest shouldn’t affect him . . . except Kai had seen how the Drylanders lived covered up. He knew that being nude among them was a taboo.

He understood that Uruha showing him his body was a gift, a privilege, something he didn’t do for just anyone. And so, he gave that gift back, reaching down to strip off his own shirt as well. He saw Uruha’s eyes move over his body in appreciation, drinking him in, memorizing every inch of him.

And then, Uruha leaned in for a kiss, and the merfolk-in-human-form pulled him closer, opening his lips, drinking him in . . . and feeling the sensation of bare skin on bare skin. Oh, it was lovely, the way it rubbed together, creating a warmth all its own . . . he could feel every bit of Uruha caressing every bit of him all at once.

Friction . . a concept unknown to merfolk, who lived where everything was wet and slick.

Kai moaned into Uurha’s mouth, rubbing his chest against the other man’s, harder and faster, feeling Uruha start to move against him as well, hands reaching between them, rubbing Kai’s stomach, then chest . .

The fingers slid over his nipples, and Kai felt a shock of pleasure so strong that he had to lean back out of the kiss, his head falling backward, mouth open in a gasp. The fingers moved around, stimulating what seemed to be one nerve at a time . . .

“Oh, yes,” Kai moaned. “More . . .”

Uruha smiled. “You’re sensitive there,” he said. And Kai found himself guided backward, until he was lying on his back on the bed, Uruha leaning over him, bending down toward Kai’s chest . . .

His tongue licked at a bud, the wet caress contrasting with the dry friction of before, and his lips closed around it, sucking, the pressure of his lips driving Kai near-mad. He writhed under his new lover, thinking the sensation was more intense than anything he’d ever felt. And when Uruha lifted his head so he could brush the nipple with his fingers, then licked again, then brushed, the contrast of wet and dry was so strong he thought he was going to come in his pants.

“Mmmm,” Uruha murmured, getting off on Kai’s pleasure as much as Kai was getting off on what he was doing. He sucked hard at the nipple, then raised his head, turning it so he could brush his hair across it.

“Aaaah . . .” Kai panted. “Oh, Uruha . . . I need to feel you . . .”

“I want to feel you, too,” Uruha said. He eased off Kai, moving toward the edge of the bed, standing up and unfastening his pants. As the merfolk-turned-human watched, he pushed them down and off, then stood before him, naked.

Kai was mesmerized. It was his first look at a Drylander fully uncovered – well, other than his own current body – and he was beautiful. Exquisite. The way his legs were matched by his arms in perfect symmetry, the erection that was standing proudly at attention against his belly, and the thighs, oh, those gorgeous thighs . . .

Kai sat up, reaching out to run his fingers along them. They had to be the most beautiful part of the other man’s body. Strong and shapely, graceful and erotic . . . and like nothing on a merfolk’s body. He began to explore, caressing upward, then down, noticing how Uruha shuddered in pleasure as his touch grew closer to where they joined the rest of his body.

“I guess that means you like what you see,” Uruha said on a shaky breath.

Kai eased his hands away. “Can I see the back of you, too?” he said.

Uruha turned around, and Kai was presented with a sight for sore eyes. The twin mounds of firm flesh above those thighs, elegantly curved, with a tantalizing cleft running down the middle . . .

Kai took them in his hands and squeezed, caressing them. It felt marvelous – not like any other part of Uurha. He kneaded, feeling the texture, the strength of underlying muscle, the way the skin seemed so soft and supple in contrast . . .

Uruha moaned, pushing his ass back toward Kai, glorying in the attention – hell, the worship – he was being given. Kai was making him feel more beautiful than any lover he’d ever been with, and it was making his cock ache, feeling like it was going to burst.

He needed to come, and he needed to bring this extraordinary man over the edge with him.

Uruha looked over his shoulder, panting. “Everything off,” he said. “Now.”

Kai blinked for a moment (Uruha didn’t like what he was doing?) and then, it hit him what his lover meant. He hopped off the bed as Uruha had, unfastening his pants, stripping them off.

He saw Uruha’s eyes widen as he bared his erection – yes, his cock was just as big as it seemed the day Uruha found him. “Oh, Kai . . .” Uruha reached out, running his fingers lightly over his hardness – and Kai let out a moan. If the touch on his nipples had been intense, this was making him feel like he was going to burst into flame. Friction on his cock, which seemed to reverberate through his whole body like the ripples from a splash . . .

And then, Uruha was pulling him in his arms for another kiss, and they were tumbling to the bed together. Uruha began to move his hips so that his cock slid against Kai’s . . . the familiar way two merfolk males made love.

Except there was nothing familiar about this. Not the way that every inch of Uruha was rubbing against Kai, chest sliding on chest, nipples brushing against one another’s skin, bellies pressed together, thighs brushing . . .

And hard cock on hard cock. They rubbed against one another, caressing every inch, the heads both dripping small amounts of precome, proving just enough lubricant to make it all more pleasurable.

Kai bucked his hips, rubbing as hard against Uurha as Uruha rubbed against him. Their breathing got heavier, their voices turned to ragged moans, stifled only when they kissed each other, hard. Their movements began faster, almost frantic . . .

And finally, Kai arched off the bed, letting out a full-throated cry as his body was wracked with the most intense ecstasy he’d ever felt, an orgasm so forceful that he thought the whole bed was shaking. And he heard Uruha cry out as well, and felt him thrust hard against him . . . there was hot fluid spurting onto his skin, something else he had never felt, and it was glorious.

Uruha fell forward, and the two men wrapped their arms around each other, kissing gently. Kai had never felt so close to anyone in his entire life.

“Mmmm,” Uruha murmured. “You’re unreal, you know that?”

“Not as unreal as you,” Kai said, reaching up and stroking Uruha’s hair, gently. “Uruha . . . I’m so glad I came here . . .”

“I’m glad you came here, too,” Uruha murmured. “So, so glad . .”

The two of them started to drift off, arms wrapped securely around each other, not wanting to let go . . .

And Kai had completely forgotten than when the clock struck midnight, his seven days would be over.

* * *

He was awakened in the middle of the night by a sharp, stabbing pain which made him sit bolt upright. Uruha was still lying next to him, sleeping peacefully. What was it? He hadn’t felt anything like it since . . .

Since he first came on shore. One week ago.

No, Kai thought. No, please don’t let it be that, don’t let me be changing back, I need to stay with him just a little longer . . .

He looked down at his hands, and saw that the webbing was already starting to appear between his fingers. Pushing the covers back revealed that scales were starting to appear on his legs.

One week, the Elder had said, no more. Return to the ocean, or you will die.

And the pain was getting worse. The scales were getting thicker on his legs. Pretty soon, they would probably form into a tail again, and then . . .

He would not only lose his life, but Uruha would know his secret. He didn’t want the other man waking up with a dead merfolk in his bed.

He had to leave while he still could. He bent over, giving the other man one last, soft kiss. Uruha stirred a little, but didn’t awaken.

And then, Kai got out of bed and went outside, not bothering to get dressed. He took off for the harbor, running fast as he could, amazed at how far he had come in a week, from not being able to use these legs at all to being able to move like the wind.

Fortunately, nobody was there to see him. Good thing, because his legs were now completely covered with green scales, the feet starting to take on the tail shape again . . . which would have drawn more attention than his naked cock.

He reached the harbor and dove into the water, using his arms to propel himself forward once he was under the surface. He could breathe right away – his gills were reforming, if not back again entirely. He cleared the city, started heading out for the open water . . .

And a wave of pain hit him that was so sharp and intense that he blacked out, just like he did when he arrived. He was left lying limp in the water, the waves softly buffeting him back toward the mer colony.

* * *

Kazuki, like most residents of Deep Six (and the other Deep settlements, for that matter), looked different from the noblemen who shunned them.

All merfolk were the products of a rapid evolution, of course, of human bodies adapting themselves to life under the sea. It was just that the Deepers, as they called themselves, had evolved just a little further.

Most of them had extra gills, or clawed hands (like Kazuki’s best friend, Byou), or fins on the sides of their faces. (Of course, there was the occasional Deeper who didn’t look that different from the noblemen – like, for instance, Byou’s lover, Manabu. Or, for that matter, Kazuki’s own father. No matter. If they had parents or siblings who had evolved further, they were still considered Deepers.)

Kazuki had spiny appendages on his face. Not big ones, but they were definitely there – over one eye, and around his mouth. He and Aoi had learned to work around them while kissing. When they weren’t kissing, or Kazuki wasn't eating, he wore a mask made of a large, hollowed-out shell over the lower part of his face – less to hide himself than to protect passing creatures from bumping into him. He also had one hand that had a sort of mottled, lizardlike appearance – which Aoi called his “hand with personality.”

Thus, he cut a rather extraordinary-looking figure when swimming next to his aristocratic lover, as he was currently doing. They were just sort of randomly wandering around today, headed in the general direction of the Drylanders’ city, but not really going anywhere.

“He really did go to the surface?” Kazuki said.

“Been there for about a week now,” Aoi said. “So he should be back any day.”

“He’s got guts,” Kazuki said, shaking his head. “That’s not easy. There’s a lot of risk involved – any of the Drylanders could see you when you’re changing. Plus, it hurts. A lot.”

Aoi looked at him. “How do you know so much?”

“My father did that,” Kazuki said. “A long time ago. He really doesn’t talk about it much, he just says it was something that happened when he was young and crazy. But, yeah – he said he doesn’t really regret it, either.”

“Remind me to ask him about it,” Aoi said. “Your father seems like a cool guy.” (Well, he did have misgivings about Kazuki’s relationship with a nobleman, but at least he wasn’t flat-out disapproving, like Aoi’s family. Like he cared about that.)

“You can come see us later on,” Kazuki said. “We really don’t have anything . . .” He paused, frowning. There was a strange shadow over them. “What’s that?”

“What’s what?” Aoi didn’t really notice what Kazuki was talking about.

“That.” Kazuki pointed above their heads. “Looks like an animal that’s dead in the water.”

Aoi began to swim upward, frowning. Kazuki was right. There was something up there, all right. Or, rather . . . someone.

“That’s not an animal,” he said. “That’s a merfolk. Oh, shit.” He headed toward the mass in the water, rapidly, Kazuki following him.

Hopefully, they could rescue whoever-it-was, and they weren’t too late.

* * *

Uruha rolled over when he woke up, reaching beside him, feeling for Kai. Maybe there would be time for a quick round two before they took the boat out.

Instead, he felt nothing.

He sat up, blinking. Was he in the bathroom? No, the door was open. And there weren’t many places in this shack where he could be hiding.

Uruha jumped out of bed, reaching for his clothes. Did he go to the boat by himself? Or maybe he’d gone to see Reita and Ruki? Or to explore the town?

But he wasn’t at the dock, wasn’t with his partners (Uruha told them he wouldn’t be going out until he located Kai, and Ruki said, “I wouldn’t expect you to”), wasn’t in the merchant area . . . Uruha tried going to the other residential districts, to places where he hadn’t been with Kai yet. Except he wasn’t there, either.

He even went as far as the other end of the colony, where the huge glass and metal works building was (at least huge by the standards of this place). Nothing. No sign of him.

He’d left. He’d taken off without saying goodbye.

He knew something like this might happen. When Kai first arrived, Uruha had assumed that whenever he got his voice back, he’d hitch a ride with a trade boat. But that was before . . . last night.

Uruha headed back to his own place, heart and steps heavy. When he opened the door, it seemed even emptier than it had right after his mother passed away. He slammed the door behind him . . . and the box she’d given him on her deathbed, the one containing the “very important letter,” jumped off the shelf and landed on the floor. The latch cracked, and the box popped open.

He just stood there, staring at it. What had just happened? Was his mother trying to tell him something from beyond? Was she saying that now was the time to read this?

Uruha sat down on the floor, picked up the yellowed paper (as all paper was yellowish here, given that it was a mixture of long-recycled paper and sea plant fibers) and began to read:

My Dear, Precious Son,

If you are reading this, that means that I am gone. Please keep our business safe and prosperous. I have every faith that you and your two friends will do well with it.

I need to tell you about a secret I concealed from you during my lifetime, one which I only feel comfortable sharing with you now. It concerns your father. You’ve probably guessed that he was a Wanderer, a stranger who passed through our town temporarily. But he was more than that.

One day, not too long after I started my business, I found a strange man lying on the shore. He was wearing no clothes, and he couldn’t speak. I took him back to my place and cared for him for a week, and I grew attached to him, even though he said nothing . . .


Uruha swallowed hard. Oh, my God. Oh, my God, it was identical to him and Kai. He kept reading.

The last day, he got his voice back, and he told me the most extraordinary thing. He said his name was Urashima, and he was a merfolk – he came from his undersea home to find out what our world was like. He also said he had only seven days on land, that if he didn’t return to the sea, he’d die. And that night, you were conceived. Yes, Uruha, your father was a merfolk.

Uruha fell back to the floor, the hand holding the paper draped across his forehead, trying to process it all. Merfolk? He’d heard about them in songs and stories. He thought he’d glimpsed them from his boat – but figured it was his imagination.

He thought about how identical his own story was to his mother’s – Kai not being able to talk, the disappearance after seven days. And he’d been reluctant to talk about himself, hadn’t he?

The evidence was there. Kai was like his father. No wonder he knew the best places to fish – he fucking LIVED THERE, among the fish.

He brought the paper back to his face – there was still more to read.

Before we made love that night, however, I asked him, out of curiosity, if there were half-human half-merfolk hybrids. He said he knew of some. They could choose to live on land full-time, but if they went into the ocean, and stayed under long enough, they could turn into a merfolk for a week. Just a week, and then they’d have to go back to land for at least a week.

And that is the ability you have, my dearest child. If you so choose, you can go to the ocean, go underwater and become a merfolk for a week. You can go deep in the ocean and gather types of fish and plants our nets can’t reach. Think of it – think of the advantage you could have. Just don’t breathe a word to anyone – except maybe your partners – because others would think the advantage unfair.

Uruha flung the paper away from him like it was on fire, scrambling to his feet. He took off for the harbor like a shot, banging the door behind him. The hell with an unfair advantage to fishing – he was going to find Kai. He couldn’t have gone very far.

He paused behind the same shed where, ironically, he’d found Kai, stripped his clothes off, and dove into the water. More irony - if Kai hadn’t saved him that day, he wouldn’t have died - just turned into a merfolk. He probably would have ended up meeting Kai in his own environment.

He began to swim out to the ocean, going deeper, deeper than he’d ever swam before (yes, it would only happen when he was completely submerged, right? Not just swimming on the surface?), wondering what was going to happen, feeling his lungs start to ache for air . . .

And then, a hideous pain seized him, like a sword passing through his body. He tried to turn around, to swim back upward, but another pain hit, and he blacked out.

* * *

Kai awoke slowly. He reached next to him, looking for Uruha . . .

But he wasn’t there. And neither was the air that had been around him. He was surrounded by cool, damp resistance, and lying on a flat rock.

“You’re awake,” said a familiar voice above him. “You scared us for a moment.”

Kai looked up, and saw Aoi and Kazuki hovering above him. He looked down, and saw his all-too-familiar tail.

It was over. He was back in his own world, in his proper form. Dammit.

“Were you really up there?” Kazuki said. “Up on the shore for a week, I mean?”

Kai nodded, slowly.

“Wow,” Kazuki said. “That’s fabulous! What was it like?”

Kai closed his eyes, remembering Uruha’s smile, Uruha’s kiss . . .

“Wonderful,” he said.

“Your old man is furious, by the way,” Aoi said. “He thinks you just took off and are wandering around the ocean. He said he’s ready to make one of your sisters his heir instead of you.”

“Let him,” Kai murmured. He had no interest whatsoever in being shogun. He never had. He just wanted to find a way to get up there again. He needed to track down the Elder, and ask him if he could keep going up there – didn’t the old guy say he’d done it more than once?

He had to find Uruha again. Maybe this time, he should tell him the truth.

There was a change in the light and shadow around them, as if something were obstructing the sun’s rays through the water. Kazuki looked up, frowning. “What is this, official people-floating-in-the-water day?”

“There’s someone else up there?” Aoi looked where Kazuki had – and saw another merfolk, just hanging limp in the water, apparently unconscious. “Oh, hell, there is!” He grabbed Kazuki, and the two swam upward, rapidly.

“This one doesn’t look familiar,” Kazuki said as they approached him. “Maybe he’s from another settlement?”

“Got to be,” Aoi said. “Probably exhausted himself swimming all the way here.” He smiled at Kazuki. “Nice to know we’re so entertaining that people will kill themselves to get to us.”

They grabbed the newcomer under the arms, as they had done to Kai, and guided him down to the same flat rock, laying him down next to the prince. “We brought you company,” Aoi said.

Kai sat up, and his jaw dropped open. He was hallucinating. That was the only explanation. He was projecting what he wanted to see onto the reality around him. There was no way in hell there could be a merfolk who looked just like Uruha.

* * *

Uruha stirred, groaning. What had happened? At least he wasn’t dead. He remembered going into the water to look for Kai, and then . . .

He was still in the water. More remarkable than that, he was BREATHING water. He sat up, slowly, looking at the lower part of his body. Oh, yes – there was a fish tail there, a shiny aquamarine.

Incredible. It was like his mother had said – he was a merfolk for a week.

“Don’t sit up too fast,” said a voice above him. Uruha looked up, and saw two other merfolk, one with a mask over his face. “You might faint again. What happened, anyway?”

Uruha flopped back to the rock. “I’m . . . I’m visiting,” he said. “I went into the water, and then . . .”

And then, he caught sight of the other merfolk hovering over him, and he nearly blacked out again. There was no way. No way at ALL. How could he be this lucky, this fast?

“Kai,” he said, softly.

“Uruha?” Kai said. “Is it really you?”

“Yes,” Uruha said, and despite the warnings of the other two, he sat up again. “Yes, it is. Kai, I came down here looking for you. . .”

“But how?” Kai said. “You’re a Drylander! You have legs! How can you be a merfolk?”

“My father was one,” Uruha said, wrapping his arms around the other man. “I found that out this morning – I read a letter from my mother. He stayed in our colony for a week, just like you did, and his name was Urashima . . .”

“Urashima?” Kazuki said. “But that’s my father’s name!”

Aoi clapped him on the back. “Well, you wanted to know what your father did on land, didn’t you? Now you know. Meet your brother!”

“You’re Urashima’s son, too?” Uruha looked up at the one with the mask.

“Kazuki,” he said. “My name is Kazuki. And this is Aoi, he’s my boyfriend. I can’t believe this! I have to take you to where we live to meet everyone! My father – our father – will be thrilled. And then you can meet my friends, Byou and Manabu and Jin and . . .”

“Whoa, there,” Aoi said, squeezing his shoulder. “Shouldn’t we give Kai and Uruha some time alone together first? They obviously formed a bond when they were on shore. Let’s let them revive it.” He tugged Kazuki’s hand, leading him away. “We’ll get some alone time of our own in the meantime.”

“I’ll come back later, okay?” Kazuki called over his shoulder.

Once they were gone, Kai embraced Uruha and kissed him. The kisses were different in the ocean – cooler, wetter. But they were still delicious. Because this was still Uruha.

“I can’t believe this,” Kai said. “I can’t believe it’s really happening.”

“I can’t, either.” Uruha grasped his hand. “Maybe that’s why we felt drawn to each other. Because we both knew we were alike.” Both between two worlds, Drylander and merfolk, both longing for something more . . .

“How long do you have?” Kai said.

“One week, same as you. And then I have to go back to land for a week. But then, I can come back. And I intend to – for as long as we want to be with each other.” And he harbored a silent hope that this attraction would grow into something deeper and turn into a forever.

“Your business . . .” Kai said.

“I’m going to harvest deep-sea plants and fish while I’m down here,” Uruha said. “They’re worth so much that we’ll be able to barter for anything – it’ll even increase our trade value with other settlements.”

Kai hugged him close. This was just like Uruha. He was going to make this work for him every way he could.

“If only I could go to the surface with you . . .” he said.

“You can,” said a voice above them – causing both of them to jump and yelp. There was the Elder, hovering above them.

“Where did you come from?” Kai said.

“Been here all along, listening,” the ancient merfolk said. “I’m good at that, you know.”

“How much did you hear?” Uruha said.

“Enough to know you’re one lucky boy,” the Elder said, pointing to Kai. “Congratulations, I hope it works out.”

“Hey!” Kai said.

“I just gave you a compliment, you know,” the Elder snorted. “You should take it. But, yes, you can make return visits to the shore. Can’t go up there all the time, like he can, ‘cause you’re pureblood merfolk. But once every month? Oh, yeah, you can go up there for visits. One week, same as before. Voice thing will get easier, too, once your body is used to it.”

“So why don’t more people do that?” Kai said.

“They don’t know about it,” the Elder said. “And I ain’t gonna tell them. Think I share this stuff with just anyone?”

Uruha frowned. “Kai . . . who is this guy, anyway?”

Kai hugged him. “A friend. And the one who made it possible for us to meet.”

“You better believe it,” the Elder said. “Well, I’m off. Gonna go to the palace. Your father is very entertaining when he’s in a permanent snit.” He waved, and he was gone.

Kai hugged Uruha. “Where were we?” he said.

“Talking about us going back and forth.” Uruha said.

“Yes. Can I be the fourth partner in your business? Because I don’t think the prince thing is working out for me. I can help you harvest the deep sea stuff.”

“Of course you can,” Uruha said. He was going to have a hell of a time explaining this to the other two. Well, he’d just let them see him in mer form, and then they’d buy it. They certainly wouldn’t mind him shuffling between worlds if they were the most prosperous fishing company in the settlement.

“Good,” Kai said. He kissed Uruha. “Is this what a happily ever after feels like?”

“I hope so,” Uruha said, squeezing his hand. “I hope so.”

Meanwhile, the Elder swam away, chuckling to himself. Mission accomplished. He’d gotten tired of seeing the damn prince mope around, and he knew very well that his grandson, Urashima, had fathered a child on shore. It was a small thing to help them get together.

The prince gained the shore and a lover, the lover gained the prince and a new family. And he gained endless entertainment from a cranky king. Everyone came out a winner in the end.

* * *

EPILOGUE

Uruha’s business did, indeed, prosper once he began bringing the deep sea materials back to shore. (And, yes, Ruki and Reita were a bit freaked out at first to find they had a half-merfolk partner. But they accepted it quickly – this was still their lifelong best friend. Just with a tail.)

In fact, it improved trade with other colonies to the point where their settlement could finally have a true economy. People began using money again, and bartering was phased out. They were even able to afford the most prized goods of all – wheat and rice from the one settlement that still had enough land mass for agriculture. Noodles and rice bowls appeared for the first time in centuries.

Nobody questioned Uruha’s methods for harvesting these prized goods, and he never told. Nor did anyone question the strange fourth partner in the business who came to the colony only one week a month (and wasn’t seen all that much during that week, save for performances and dances. That was Uruha’s week off from fishing, and he and Kai spent most of it in bed. They had discovered that sex was a lot more fun on dry land).

When he was underwater, Uruha spent time with his new family, getting to know his father, his brother and his brother’s friends. After the loneliness of losing his only relative, it was a wonderful thing to have kinfolk again. Aoi and Kazuki even came up on land themselves a couple of times (Kazuki’s facial appendages were assumed by the Drylanders to be piercings), during the one week a month when Kai and Uruha were separated – which helped ease Uruha’s loneliness.

Kai’s father, as Aoi predicted, disowned Kai as his heir, and Kai couldn’t be happier. He knew his sister was better equipped to handle sea business anyway. He went to the palace as little as possible, making a home with Uruha in a sea cave between the settlements of the aristocrats and the Deep colonies – very much like the cave where he’d once hoarded artifacts from the land.

And the two built a life together, deeply in love and very happy. They did, indeed, know what a happy ending felt like.

They were part of each other’s world, and had built a special world all their own.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
death_the_rose
Aug. 14th, 2013 12:28 am (UTC)
Aaah....I love the ending. Such wonderful story that bring a new meaning of mermaid fairy tale. It makes me smile like a crazy girl here. They are perfect couple. And I'm happy Kai is free from his boring prince life. x3

Great job, like always~
puss_nd_boots
Aug. 16th, 2013 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, I wanted to put a new spin on the original movie, and part of that was inverting the ending (having the one living on land come into the sea instead of the other way around). And Kai was not meant to live a stuffy and conservative life, that's for sure! Thanks for reading, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
bbhc18
Aug. 14th, 2013 12:51 am (UTC)
Ya for corruption of the little mermaid! I LOVED IT!!!
puss_nd_boots
Aug. 16th, 2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
LOL! That's the third Disney film I've put through the wringer. XD (Although I have a feeling this isn't the first version of Little Mermaid with sex. Or even the first version with male/male sex. XD) Thanks for reading, I'm glad you liked it!
bbhc18
Aug. 17th, 2013 03:28 am (UTC)
I love reading ur stuff! I'm so excited u posted stuff I give me inspiration for my own!
hinoeuma13
Aug. 14th, 2013 08:44 am (UTC)
THAT was so perfect!! ^o^)/ I absolutely loved it, and that ending is so, so good too! They are so perfect together! And I LOVE the elder XD I wish the actual Little Mermaid had been this instead, hot Gazeboys and all LOL >3<

*Thumbs up* Awesome!! I love this little universe you've created here :3
puss_nd_boots
Aug. 16th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Ha, I had a lot of fun writing the Elder. If you've ever seen Keiyuu of Kra imitating an old man, that was the inspiration for the character. I pictured him as looking like Keiyuu, only a LOT older. And I'm glad you liked the ending! Thought I'd give it something a bit different from both the film and the original story. Thanks for reading!
luvthe_gazette
Aug. 14th, 2013 01:04 pm (UTC)
Great job! I really enjoyed reading this and I loved the change of the little mermaid's tale. Kai is definitely a sexier mermaid than Ariel :P

Will there be a sequel? *begs*
puss_nd_boots
Aug. 16th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
Hee, hee, he's a much sexier merfolk than anything Disney could come up with, isn't he? I don't know about a sequel - I gave the boys their happily ever after - but I'm not going to rule it out. (However, there's a definite possibility I may be taking on more Disney/fairy tales in the future! XD)
luvthe_gazette
Aug. 17th, 2013 01:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, he definitely is xD

If not a sequel then how about a small sex one-shot? *double begs*

I'm looking forward to any Disney/fairy tale fics! Lol dunno why but I think you should give Lion King a try. The uke vs seme fight and then the recognition of each other and of course the sex will be glorious xD

Edited at 2013-08-17 01:27 am (UTC)
venomousliberty
Aug. 15th, 2013 09:08 am (UTC)
I was so thrilled to read something like this! I loved your take on Uruai Cinderella, but this, this was gold! I loved The Little Mermaid when I was a kid, but this was far more entertaining than the fairy tale. XDD

I have no words, honestly. I just love it to bits and while reading it, I felt I wasn't reading fanfiction, really. And I imagined Kai and Uruha as merfolks. Aw, dang it. Perfection. Someone, some magazine should make them wear mermaid outfits for the love of all things holy!!! They should!!!


This story just made it to one of my favorite fics of all time! Thank you for sharing. Would you be making more fairy tale adaptations anytime soon? *hopeful puppy eyes*
puss_nd_boots
Aug. 16th, 2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Wow - a HEAVY compliment, I'm blushing big-time here! *^^* Oh, that would be fantastic if they did a merfolk photoshoot. XD It would suit them very well, I think. Hey, Kai already did a shoot as some sort of fairy creature (which inspired my fic A Fairy's Tale), so why not merfolk? XD

More fairy tale adaptations are a distinct possibility - hey, I've already slaughtered three Disney films (one in collaboration with another writer). XD I've actually been kicking around ideas for a few - not saying which ones, though! (I can assure you, though, that one is NOT Uruhontas. XD)
venomousliberty
Aug. 16th, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad to know that! I'm definitely looking forward to reading your next fairy tale fic! Uruhontas would be nice, though. I've been waiting for someone to write that into a fic, ahahaha! But other fairy tales would be awesome to, as long as it's sweet, hot, romantic and all that jazz~ Even Thumbelina is okay with me. Now, that would be interesting. There's just something so irresistibly sexy about a small Kai or Uruha, LOL. Okay, I'm rambling now. Anyway, will be waiting for your next work. *gives you brownies, cookies and rubber duckies for motivation*
yaawe
Aug. 23rd, 2013 10:56 am (UTC)
Wow a really enjoyed reading this! It has a remarkable story, so different from others :3 It was something new for me ^^
It reminds me of Little Mermaid a bit :D but the rest with flooding and evolution and everything around it, you deserve cookies prize for it :3
It has also very nice Epilogue *_* I'm so happy they can stay together... not always in the same world, but still together <3
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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