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Strange things out there in that deep blue sea

Chapter Text

“They’re very nice,” says Erik diplomatically. “But they don’t look at all useful. What can you do with them, anyway?”

Charles smiles like Erik has said something that amuses him, and Erik considers swimming away. But the other weresharks are assholes and Erik doesn’t want to talk to them, either. Charles, with his useless but pretty looking tentacles, is the most interesting person Erik has met in ages.

“Would you like me to show you?” asks Charles, an invitation clear in his tone.

Erik agrees, and Charles moves.

His tentacles are everywhere -- wrapping around Erik’s biceps and torso and tail, caressing his fins, tweaking Erik’s nipples and flicking along his genital vents and --

Okay, maybe Charles’ tentacles are good for something.

*****

“You know, I don’t think I’m quite convinced of the usefulness of your tentacles,” says Erik the next day. “You may need to show me again.”

It’s not remotely Erik’s best line, but the important thing is: it works.

Charles shows him again.

And again, the day after that.

And the day after that.

And the day after that.

*****

Erik is smug about having such frequent and spectacular sex, but he should have known there would be consequences.

“This is your fault,” Erik snarls. Charles tries to put his hands on Erik’s shoulders but Erik angrily shrugs him off and starts swimming in a tightly compacted circle.

“You mustn’t fret, darling,” coaxes Charles. “Stress isn’t good for the babies.”

“Don’t tell me what to do! I didn’t ask to get impregnated with your, your--” Erik thinks about it and realizes. “I don’t even know if they’ll be sharks or octopi, or, God help us, some kind of hybrid. Octosharks. Sharktopuses-es. God, I can’t believe that I’m knocked up with your freakish sharktopus babies!”

Charles rears up angrily. “Don’t call them that! If you don’t want them, give them to me, and then we’ll leave and you’ll never have to see or think about us again, if that’s what you want!”

Erik feels like he’s been slapped.

He would never --

“Oh, hush, dearest,” says Charles, contrite. “I’m sorry. Please don’t cry.”

“I’m not crying,” Erik lies as tears well up in his eyes. Charles pats him soothingly on the shoulder and gently pulls Erik into an embrace with his tentacles. (And Erik probably should be objecting because it’s Charles’ tentacles who got him into this in the first place, but it turns out tentacles are also good for platonic hugging.)

Charles spends the whole night holding Erik and telling Erik how wonderful he is and how happy Charles is about the babies and how he knows Erik will be a good father and that Charles wants to raise their children together, so much.

So when Charles asks Erik if Erik will come home with him, Erik says yes.

*****

So it turns out Charles is, in fact, a king of an undersea kingdom, filled with merfolks of all types who live together in peace and harmony and bullshit like that.

Also, no lie, Charles has a fucking undersea palace.

Erik could, if he wanted, spend the rest of the pregnancy, hell, the rest of his life, being Charles’ pampered consort, with nothing to do but be waited on hand and fluke and have frequent and spectacular sex with Charles (who is excellent at delegating and has lots of free time, hence being able to travel for his research which led him to meeting Erik in the first place.)

Erik figures he’ll get bored soon enough but that it might not hurt to try out that pampered trophy consort lifestyle for a week or so.

Charles has no objections to this plan.

*****

“Oooof,” says Erik, as he feels the babies moving around. “They’re active today.”

“What do you think they are doing in there?” asks Charles as he rubs Erik’s round belly. Erik sighs and closes his eyes.

“Oh,” says Erik, distractedly. “Probably eating each other.”

“WHAT?” asks Charles, horrified.

Erik doesn’t actually see what the problem is, it’s a natural part of the shark and wereshark lifecycle. The circle of life and all that shit. Charles just gets more agitated when Erik points this out and to shut him up Erik agrees to let Charles use his telepathy to convince the babies not to eat each other.

Which means Erik will be getting even bigger over the course of this pregnancy, and Charles had better appreciate it.

Charles shows Erik later that night that he does.

*****

So one of the few benefits of being knocked up by a tentacle person instead of a fellow wereshark is that the pregnancy is shorter.

The labor is still long and exhausting, though.

And despite his previous commentary, when Erik finally sees the babies, all he thinks is that they are beautiful, and they are his.

“Oh Erik,” says Charles joyfully. “Look at them. Look at what we made.”

“You’re having the next ones,” says Erik.

“My people lay eggs, Erik,” says Charles.

“You’re not getting out of it that easily,” says Erik.

~ fin

Chapter Text

The third time Charles vomits in the morning, Erik makes him go visit the healer.

“If you are ill, you’re not allowed around the children,” Erik threatens. “Can you imagine all of them with a stomach bug at the same time?”

Charles shudders, but doesn’t argue.

*****

Charles comes back from the healer with a stunned, shell-shocked look on his face.

“So apparently,” Charles says conversationally, “the reason my family came to power in this kingdom is because they were seen to be favored by the ocean gods for having the mutation of bearing live young. And no one bothered to tell me this before.”

Erik resists the urge to perform a victory somersault. Or gloat. Or point and laugh.

Barely.

*****

Erik is secretly, selfishly glad that this time Charles will be the one getting the round belly that interferes with hunting. Naturally, Charles picks up on this thought.

“It’s not like you were hunting, anyway,” says Charles scathingly. “You basically made me wait on you hand and fluke.”

This was true. Good times.

And then Erik’s thoughts catch up and he notices the gleam in Charles’ eyes and basically resigns himself to indentured servitude for the next .... however long the gestation lasted.

*****

Erik is not proud of the fact that he has resorted to hiding from Charles.

But he is but one wereshark. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongy and bruised.

Was I this bad when I was pregnant? Erik wonders.

Yes, you were.

Shit.

Right. Telepath.

Now stop hiding from me and get back here.

Erik briefly considers refusing. He’d like to sleep sometime this decade.

Unless you plan to subcontract your conjugal duties.

Erik snarls. Like hell.

Erik almost throws his back out, but it’s absolutely worth it.

It would be nice if Charles weren’t so smug about the whole thing, though.

*****

“So, birth control for both of us, next time, yes?” says Erik as he kisses Charles’s forehead and lets Charles grip his hands.

“As if I’m letting you touch me ever again,” scoffs Charles.