Being a Marine Biologist is awesome. Studying for your second PhD in tropical water should be even more awesome but there are serious downsides.
Like, three weeks on a boat with Dr. Simon 'Ahab' Cowell with only a single twenty minute phone call home, made from the rusting hut that pretends to be their home port. Cowell specializes in Octopuses (Octopusi? Octopi? Octopode? Eight years studying and Kris still isn't sure - the preferred collective noun varies depending on his current professor) which is cool and is going to make Kris' thesis look awesome.
Considerably less awesome? Having one of the octopodes he was studying - a sparkling, mostly purple male that Kris has called 'Adam' - humping his leg every time he gets in the water. It started out kinda cute, in a sort of creepy way, but it’s rapidly starting to become a problem. Right now, Kris tries really hard to focus on holding still long enough to get the shots he needs of 'Tommy' (the small silver octopus that Kris had thought was Adam's mate) as Adam's tentacles slide up his leg.
Cowell will be thrilled, Kris thinks bitterly. Alcohol apparently does make the octopodes (or, well, Adam, at least) more tactile and friendly.
Even sober, Adam is sneaky like ninja. Kris is familiar with aquarium-exhibit octopodes who are ingenious little bastards with endless curiosity. He's gotten used to wild octopodes being ninja-stealthy but he's never ever met one like Adam.
Adam seems to have developed an attachment to Kris and he objects to Kris leaving him. Kris spends the first week doing an awkward pat-down to make sure Adam hasn't hidden himself somewhere in the scuba gear or Kris' camera bag. Exactly how a glittery, bright purple octopus manages to sneak past him in a world that is mostly blue and dull rock-colored is hard to explain. Kris has tried half a dozen times to explain it to Cowell who’s met Adam exactly once. Adam had spent the entire time puffed up and glittering brighter than Kris had ever seen him glitter before.
“I’m on to you.” Kris tells him. “You are totally not fooling me. I know a sneaky octopus when I see one.”
Adam honest-to-god pouts, skin going dark and tentacles contracting to make his eyes look artificially huge.
He doesn’t stop. If anything, Adam gets more inventive about finding places to hide. Kris winds up sitting on the step at the back of the boat, praying Cowell is busy elsewhere while he begs Adam not to get back into the water and not let himself get dried up.
Adam stops hiding himself away and for nearly one whole day, Kris’ life is nearly normal. He should have known better. Adam never ever gives up and he’s intelligent enough to know when he’s onto a losing game. Adam, Kris discovers, has a plan. A sneaky plan.
Stage Two of Adam's sneaky plan is hiding things. Anything less than twice Adam's size that isn't sewn onto Kris' suit that Kris looks away from for more than a second disappears. Kris then gets to spend up to an hour looking under rocks and shells with Adam cuddling his leg and making adoring eyes at him.
Stage Three....well, let's just say Kris has started keeping an obsessive inventory of every piece of rope, string and chain that he brings down with him or that gets left on the boat within tentacle reach.
Katy breaks up with Kris over Adam.
Kris spends his entire precious, anticipated week of vacation in a bar with Cale, trying to make that sound better. Unfortunately, Kris' scientific training insists that 'clear, accurate and concise' is all he needs.
(Scientific training does not help Kris avoid several mortifying meetings with the pastor who has clearly googled 'furries' and is still in shock but struggling to be supportive.)
Kris comes back, determined to avoid Adam as much as possible. Cowell, because he is an even bigger bastard than advertised, takes one look at the hickey-shaped marks Adam's suckers (and there is no way even the pastor can make that sound better) left on Kris’ neck and demands Kris document the pattern of Adam's suckers.
Adam, the little traitor, gleefully glomps onto Kris and preens ridiculously for the whole three days.
Because life hates Kris like that, Katy calls on day two when the only thing Kris has to talk about is Adam (again).
...so technically it's also Adam's fault the second time Katy dumps Kris.
Kris tries really hard to be a nice guy but honestly? He's been dumped (twice) by the woman he loves: his hometown thinks he's the sort of sexual deviant that the geeks online think is twisted: he's being stalked by an overly-affectionate Octopus and his guitar has finally succumbed to the humidity. Cowell's demand that Kris handle the latest round of budgeting proposals was just the last straw.
Still, Kris probably shouldn't have dumped his bastard of a boss into the bay and told him to go fuck himself. He's probably fired.
In the spirit of that, Kris spends the last twenty in his wallet on a bottle of rum (because stereotypical self-destruction seems appropriate right now). He winds up sitting on the step while the 'Idle' bobs in the water, just tipsy enough that his totally righteous anger has turned maudlin.
He hopes that Cowell will tell Adam what happened to him. He hasn't really told Cowell that Adam seems to understand English, largely because there's no way to bring it up that doesn't make Kris sound even crazier.
Kris is wondering how he's going to get home and if he has enough to finish his thesis, feet dangling in the water when he hears a soft splash. The tentacle that slides up along his leg makes Kris shiver and he isn't entirely surprised when Adam bobs up, more tentacles settling around his ankle.
"'s all your fault," Kris hiccups at him and Adam splashes his tentacles in a manner that Kris is choosing to take as apologetic.
"I don't even know what to do next?" Kris fumbles his bottle which means it falls into the water and then Adam won't give it back. For an octopus, Adam is surprisingly strong and has an unfair advantage of weight.
Kris doesn't think Adam means to pull him in and he'd like to think that if Adam did mean to pull him, Adam still didn't mean for Kris to sink like a stone. It’s a strange thing to be thinking as the water closes over his head and the tiny part of Kris that’s still sober can’t co-ordinate his arms or legs to do more than flail helplessly.
Apparently octopus-disproportionate-strength doesn't work on drunk humans....
Kris wakes up. Which is awesome and also, not something Kris expected to ever do again. True, he doesn't know where he is or how he got here but he's not drowned or in hospital so Kris takes that one as a win.
He's in bed and for a second Kris wonders if he dreamt the whole thing. He sits up and okay, no. Definitely not dreaming.
This isn't his bed.
Kris has never seen a bed like this before - vast and round with sinfully soft sheets. It gurgles a little when Kris moves and okay, Kris has never (to his knowledge) slept on a water bed before.
Sitting up, Kris realizes three important things at pretty much the same time; 1)he's hungover, 2) he's naked and 3) there is a large, warm arm draped across his stomach and a large, warm body snuggled up behind him.
The body hums and tugs Kris back down with a throaty mumbling sound that is jarringly familiar.
"Adam?" Kris says stupidly and gets cuddled closer. He can feel hair brushing against his bare back as Adam nods and what. The. Fuck!?!?
Kris sputters and squirms but Adam is (still) unfairly strong and just cuddles harder. Kris does get a chance to look over his shoulder and huh, Kris' favourite octopus apparently makes for a searingly hot guy. Kris can't really tell if that makes it better, worse or a sign that Kris is clearly suffering from undiagnosed brain trauma.
"What the hell, Adam?" Kris manages finally and yelps a little when Adam kisses him because really? Adam has to be unfairly good at that too?
He feels the curve of Adam's smile and Adam's warm breath against his ear as Adam whispers to him
"Octopodia needs men."