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Secrets of the Sea

Chapter Text

A loud screeching noise is what woke Dick and Tim up.

 

Two sets of glowing blue eyes with narrowed pupils snapped open, and observed their surroundings cautiously. The two mermen were curled up tightly against each other, their tails entwined for warmth, but they both remained tense as they waited.

 

Their surroundings were hard to see, even for a merperson. It was pitch black on the bottom of the ocean, and absolutely freezing to some marine animals. To merpeople however, the cold didn’t matter, their skin was tough and thick, and their blood was cold to begin with. The darkness also didn’t bother them, because their eyes were designed to see clearly through darkness, and they could focus perfectly on a figure from 40 miles away. Unfortunately, their vision wasn’t good enough to see through this darkness. There was no other choice. They had to do this.

 

Their tails, both completely black, started to change. An electric blue glow spiked the sides of Dick’s tail, and a bright green slid up the sides of Tim’s tail. The fins located on their heads, arms and tails also started to glow those strange, unnatural colors*. It was a risky move, they didn’t know what predator was out there after all, but for all they knew it could be stalking them anyway.

 

“Dick –“ Tim started to speak, but Dick quickly cut the younger boy off. “Shh.”

 

Tim fell silent, and they both returned to their watchful positions. After a half an hour of silence, Dick finally let the other talk. “What did you want to tell me?”

 

To most creatures, they wouldn’t be able to understand what the merpeople were saying. It sounded like a series of clicks and coos. Merfolk were gifted the ability to speak the language of any creature in the world, but while together they preferred to speak in their native tongue.

 

“I think the danger has passed,” Tim replied. Dick nodded, although he still seemed worried. “We should probably leave anyway. Do you know what time it is?”

 

“I was just as asleep as you were,” Tim tilted his head in thought, “but it’s probably midday.”

 

“Hmmm, midday? The Gathering will be held tonight, if we want to make it we should head there now.”

 

The Gathering was a celebration held once every fifty years, hosted by the King and Queen themselves. The palace was wonderful, but only those connected to royalty were allowed to stay there overnight, and the only way to live there was if they were royalty. The protection of King Ea and Queen Atargatis was very heavy, and very deadly.

 

That protection was called the League of Assassins. They were Merfolk as well, but unlike the other merpeople, these Merfolk were trained from birth to be killers. Merpeople by nature were usually gentle, and ached for warmth and comfort that only other merpeople could give, but not the assassins of the League. They were cold, ruthless, and rarely made connections with other people.

 

Dick and Tim’s relationship with the League of Assassins was a difficult one. The League itself had branches. There was Ra’s al-Ghul, who was in charge of the League with his two beautiful daughters, Talia and Nyssa. Ra’s answered only to King Ea, and his daughters obeyed only Ra’s. Since Talia was the eldest, she was meant to become the next ruler of the League once her father passed. This made her semi-royalty, because her father was considered to be a royal in the eyes of the King and Queen. Nyssa, the youngest daughter, was put in charge of the assassins, but would not be considered semi-royal unless her sister and father both passed away – and even so, that would only happen if Talia did not marry, and if her father did not remarry.

 

Ra’s was always looking for a suitable merman that his eldest daughter could marry.  Enter Bruce Wayne, one of the most powerful mermen and very well-known both above and below sea. Bruce was the picture of a perfect merman. Broad shouldered, a large powerful tail, extremely intelligent and a fierce protector. It would make sense that a merman like Ra’s would want his daughter to marry Bruce. Many mermaids – and mermen – were taken with Bruce, but Bruce (for the most part) would decline their offers.

When Ra’s first introduced Talia and Bruce the two did not like each other. Talia was not afraid to hurt people, Talia was a killer, Talia would use people and not bat an eye or feel remorse for her actions. Bruce was kind, Bruce did not enjoy hurting people, Bruce was more aimed to protect the innocent rather then just protect royalty. They bickered, they insulted each other, but over time the two started to bond. Bruce was able to see past the cold exterior that Talia put up – he could see what was on the inside. Talia was naturally beautiful, her features sharp, her dark hair billowed in soft waves that reached to her wrists. Her body was small in form, but that was considered desirable to a merperson. However, Bruce was able to see the internal beauty now as well as her appearance. She did not enjoy hurting others, but she would if she had to. She was a strong mermaid, the future leader of the entire League, she needed to be cold and strong for the sake of appearances. But when it was her and Bruce alone, Talia let her softer side show. At first, Bruce’s desire to protect everyone and be kind had annoyed her, but Bruce showed her another side of him. He was capable of being just as ruthless as she was, they often spoke about it to each other.

 

Both Bruce and Talia knew that he would be an ideal leader of the League of Assassins, just as Ra’s had intended it to be. Ra’s very much respected the merman, and in return Bruce respected him. Ra’s, King Ea, Queen Atargatis and the entire League watched as a deep love connected Bruce and Talia.

Bruce and Talia had yet to marry, but were considered to be betrothed, and had taken each other in as mates. Therefore, Bruce was also semi-royalty. Once Ra’s perished, then he and Talia would become royalty.

 

As the years passed, their love remained as strong as ever, until one day Talia gave birth to a merbaby. They’d named him Damian, and raised him together in the royal palace. During this time, Nyssa became more and more jealous of her sister. Nyssa would never become royalty at this point, even if her father, sister and her sister’s beloved perished, there was still the merboy to worry about.

 

So, one day, while her sister and Bruce were out, Nyssa approached the merboy. He had reached ten years of age by this point. His hair was as black as Bruce’s was, and his gaze was the same hue of blue, but his skin was Talia’s bronze color, and the cold apathetic look on his face belonged to Talia as well. He still had the body of a merchild, and he still had baby fat on his cheeks, but one only had to glance at his parents to see that this merboy would become a fine merman indeed one day. Nyssa rarely showed any emotion to her sister, but she made sure to dote upon the child, only for the sake of appearances. She would much rather watch the merboy rot away then be a good aunt to him. Even as she watched him, she felt no familial strings, no bond, no regrets for what she was about to do.

 

She lured the merchild to the sea witch’s lair. The sea witch was a terrifying being for anyone, especially a child. Damian, however, showed nothing but disdain for the sea witch’s appearance. Rather then plead for safety; he mocked her green scaly skin and octopus tail. It was well known that once upon a time, the sea witch – called Zatanna at the time – had been beautiful. She was a siren, and had naturally been feared, but she showed nothing but kindness. Rather then killing lost pirates, she would guide their ship to safe lands and safe waters. In return she got ridicule. Sirens were supposed to be vicious, sirens were meant to kill, sirens are the ones who brought the dead humans back for the others to eat. Fish and seaweed would only last a merperson for so long. They required heavy meat, however, most of the sea life that could sustain them were immune to a Siren’s song, and would put up a good fight. Humans, however, were easily infected by a Siren’s song, and would willingly jump to their deaths.

 

Zatanna refused to take a human life. She believed that all life was precious, and should be preserved. She was eventually labeled as an outcast; the other Merfolk wanted nothing to do with a Siren who couldn’t even kill one human! Zatanna had gone to the King and Queen to plead that they let her remain, but the League had refused to let her inside the palace. When she wouldn’t leave, they locked her away in a dungeon.

 

Forgotten in time, Zatanna slowly began to lose her mind. Her body was brittle, the scales from her tail had moved all the way up to her face, but it was not beautiful like Queen Atargatis’s pale-blue scaled skin was. It was disgusting. Her beautiful black hair had started to fall out, her cheeks were sunken, her eyes were always glazed over, and what’s worse was that her tail had started to split. Mermaids and mermen alike took great pride in their appearance. The tail and hair of a merperson usually judged their beauty, so to lose this just drove Zatanna more insane.

 

As more time went by, Zatanna managed to escape. She killed Ra’s al-Ghul’s wife in retaliation before leaving for good. She found a dark cave nearby and stayed there. Every merperson had a core for magic, but Zatanna needed more then what she had if she wanted to survive. It was quite obvious that her appearance would never be restored, and her life was torn into pieces. Insanity clouded her judgment, but she never forgot what the League of Assassins had done to her.

 

So she began to teach herself dark magic. She explored far and wide, getting advice from other sea witches, until she had managed to master almost every spell. She left her old name behind, Zatanna was no longer whom she was; she was simply the sea witch. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

Nyssa had known all about the sea witch’s unfortunate history, and made sure that the sea witch knew exactly what merchild was coming to see her before she brought Damian there.

 

The sea witch might have sent him away, he was only a child after all, but from his insults and mocking the darker side of her started to take control. She didn’t want to kill the merboy, so instead she turned him into a crab. She sent Nyssa back to show Bruce and Talia what she’d done to their son. They were rightfully outraged, but knew a warning when they saw it. So they kept Damian close, they did avoid having him see other Merfolk unless absolutely necessary though. The League would lose hope if their future ruler was now nothing more than a crab.

 

Now, enter Dick Grayson. Dick was eight years of age when Bruce had found the young merboy, huddled next to his parents’ dead bodies. From the looks of things, a shark had killed the two merpeople. Most likely the two had died defending their son. Dick seemed to be in a state of denial about the whole thing. From the haunted look in his eyes, Bruce knew that he’d watched the attack happen, but Dick would insist that: “Any minute now, my parents will wake up, you’ll see.”

 

They never did. Bruce waited for hours with him, until Dick finally attached himself to Bruce’s side, looking down at his parent’s bodies sadly. “They aren’t going to wake up, are they?”

 

Bruce felt his heart break slightly at the anguished tone the merboy used. “No, they aren’t.”

 

Dick sighed a great sigh, and Bruce wrapped a hand around his shoulder, pulling the merboy against his side to comfort him. “What will happen to me now?”

 

“Do you have any other family members, or family friends? Someone to take you in?”

Dick shook his head. “No, it’s always been just me and my parents. We always traveled places.”

 

Well that would explain why Bruce didn’t recognize the boy or his parents. “Come with me.”

 

“But what about mom and dad?” Dick’s voice grew frantic and he stared up at Bruce with tear-filled eyes. “We can’t just leave them.”

 

“It’s too late for them,” Bruce said gently, and Dick squeezed his eyes shut. Bruce wouldn’t be able to carry both of his parents back – not with the wounds they had on their bodies at least. The blood would attract even more sharks. They were dead anyway, so there would be no point in bringing them. Merpeople did not bury their dead, or give them funerals. Unless the merperson was of royal birth, they would not have any memorial for them. Dick eventually nodded. “I just want to say goodbye first.”

 

Bruce had given the merchild some space. Dick had gone back to his spot beside his parents’ bodies, but this time he’d grabbed both of their hands. He mumbled something to them that Bruce didn’t catch, but Bruce figured it was private anyways.

 

Bruce returned to Talia with a merchild that day. Along the way back, Bruce had found out that the merchild’s name was Richard – or as he preferred to be called, Dick - Grayson. Talia had been extremely surprised to see Dick, but took pity when Bruce told her what happened. A lot of it might have been that Dick resembled Damian in many ways. His eyes were bright blue, his hair was black, and his skin was dark, although his skin tone had more of a golden hue then Damian had. Under the sun, Dick’s tail turned from black to a shimmering blue. It was one of the only things about him that was completely different from Damian, whose tail had been yellow under the sun.

 

Neither Bruce nor Talia wanted Dick raised with the League – both for separate reasons. Talia did not want another son, and Bruce did not want Dick to have the burden of being the next ruler. So Bruce left his mate’s side to raise Dick in another place – his old home. Over time, Dick came to think of Bruce as a father figure. Talia visited, and they stopped by the League a lot, but she was not a mother figure to Dick. In fact, she mostly ignored the boy, favoring Bruce’s attention instead. Dick would leave them to it – they were in love, mated, betrothed, and forced to be apart because of Dick, so he knew they deserved time together. Instead, he played with Damian the crab. They were able to communicate with each other due to the merfolks’ natural ability to communicate with any creature, and even though the crabboy seemed… well… crabby… Dick found that he enjoyed the merboy-turned-crab’s company. Damian would only refer to Dick as “Grayson” and seemed very annoyed when Dick would become overly affectionate with him, but he too had grown to enjoy his company.

 

When Dick was fourteen he and Bruce found another merboy. This merboy was completely alone, curled up on the ground and crying. The two quickly swam over to the merchild, checking to see if he was injured anywhere. If he had been injured too badly, his parents might have left him for dead – that’s unfortunately what a lot of merpeople did – but none of the injuries on the child seemed to appear life-threatening, although there had been an astonishing amount. Dick was a bit confused over the injuries and lack of parents, but Bruce had recognized the hand-print shaped bruises, and knew that even if his parents were coming back, the merchild wouldn’t be safe with them. So after checking the boy over again, and getting some information on the boy’s parents – or lack of – Bruce took him home to raise as yet another son. The merboy’s name was Timothy Drake, abandoned by his parents, left for dead, and abused. Dick seemed positively outraged that anybody could be that cruel, and quickly made it almost his life’s purpose to be the best big brother he could be to Tim.

 

Dick even introduced Tim to Damian, which was absolutely horrendous. Tim’s mere presence was apparently enough of a reason to attack, and Tim had to be excused from the room to nurse his numerous claw-marked wounds. Dick had been rightfully shocked. When he demanded to know why Damian attacked Tim unprovoked, Damian wouldn’t give him an answer, but he could have sworn he heard something about “Grayson” and “being left behind for that jerk Drake”. Dick didn’t question him on it though.

 

“You know, you’re both kind of like my brothers now. I want you two to get along.”

 

Damian clicked his pinschers around to ensure that Dick knew just how non-amusing the crab found that statement. “He is not my brother! And neither are you.”

 

“Oh please,” Dick grinned. “You know you love me. Admit it.”

 

“I will admit to no such thing, Grayson.”

 

Dick pouted. “Oh fine. But you’re lying to yourself if you say you don’t love me.”

 

“Tt. Grow up Grayson.”

 

“Never!” Dick beamed, “Besides, you’re technically younger then me.”

 

“No, I’m way older then you are!”

 

“By like, 3 years, and… you’re frozen as a boy now,” Dick didn’t want to mention the curse placed on Damian by the sea witch, because he knew it was a touchy subject. “So I’m older!”

 

“Tt. Whatever Grayson.”

 

“Okay maybe you and Timmy don’t need to get along, but at least try to be civil to him? He’s really nice, and smart, and can be a little sass master if you get him pissed enough.” Dick looked happy at this, as though he pissed Tim off constantly just for shits and giggles.

 

I don’t care for your adoration of that idiot. Please bother someone else with it.”

 

Dick frowned, “Alright. I just… I want you two to get along, for me?” He gave Damian his best puppy eyes look. Damian huffed. “Don’t try that with me, Grayson! …. Oh fine, as long as you stop doing tha – HEY PUT ME DOWN!”

 

Dick had lifted Damian up in his hand and smooshed Damian against his chest in a hug. “Thank you, Damian!”

 

“Release me at once or I will pinch off your fingers one-by-one.”

 

“Right,” Dick quickly put Damian back down. “Thanks Dami.”

 

“Tt.”

 

Back on track, Dick and Tim did have ties to a semi-royal member through Bruce, and therefore were allowed to stay certain nights in the palace. Even though they weren’t blood related to Bruce or Talia, Bruce still took them in as sons, and if the merpeople were honest they did all share a resemblance. Black hair, blue eyes, Tim and Dick even had the same build. And Talia ignored both of the boys equally. Well, not so much boys anymore. They were both reaching their manhood now, which would be announced tonight at the Gathering.

 

They kept up the bioluminescence of their bodies in the dark to help them see before they swam closer to the surface. Away from the darkness, the bioluminescence faded, and their black tails shone like gemstones. Tim’s scales glowed like emeralds, and Dick’s tail glinted like sapphires. It was warmer up here, so the two separated more then when they’d been in the coldness of the deep sea water.

 

It wasn’t long after that when the two felt odd vibrations in the water. At first, they thought nothing of it, until a school of fish swam past them. It wasn’t at their normal, lax speed, they were swimming away from something. A shadow fell over Dick and Tim’s bodies, and they both looked up to see the bottom of a ship, cutting through the water at an alarmingly fast pace. To both of their surprises, the net went into the water, but it wasn’t aiming for the fish. Dick stared in alarm as the net went straight for Tim, who had frozen in shock.

 

“Tim move!”

 

Dick wasn’t sure what made him do it, but he swam forward, managing to push Tim out of the way at the last moment. Unfortunately, this meant that Dick was the one tangled up in the net. He used his razor sharp teeth to bite through the thick rope, but just when it started to break, another rope was pulled around him. He growled, struggling and squirming his whole body to try and break free of the net.

 

They probably hadn’t noticed Dick at first, because his tail blended in well with the water, but Tim’s tail was vibrant both in and out of the water, unless it was dark. “Tim, get out of here!” He didn’t need his little brother to be caught as well. “You have to leave!”

 

“No, I’m not leaving you behind!” Tim was frolicking around the nets, trying to look for weak spots and biting where he could.

 

“Timmy they’ll catch you too! You have to go, tell the others what happened. They can help!” Dick insisted, wishing now that he’d bothered paying attention when Bruce taught him how to use his powers. Tim hovered in the water for a moment, obviously conflicted.

 

“Fine, I’m only leaving to get you help,” Tim said, before swimming off at top speed. It would have taken hours to get to the palace at the normal speed that they’d been going, but with Tim’s swiftness, he’d probably be there within the hour.

 

Which would most likely be too late by then. Dick hadn’t actually sent him for help – he just needed to keep his little brother safe. He felt the net lift him up and he squirmed even more when his body was lifted roughly out of the water. “Let me go! Let me go! LET ME GO!”

 

To his surprise, a few of the humans on the ship actually covered their ears. “God, someone shut him up!”

 

At this, he was dumped unceremoniously on the deck of the ship, his body coming into painful contact with the rough wood. Dick glared at the approaching humans – pirates, he realized. He could tell by the clothing they wore, and the numerous shiny metal things on their fingers. However, there were others on the ship that didn’t look like pirates at all. The looks on their faces weren’t greedy, and they wore barely anything but rags. They looked tired and worn down, and there was metal cuffs on their wrists and ankles, but that didn’t mean Dick trusted them. Humans were humans after all.

 

“Ah, so this is the merperson making all the fuss. I have to admit, I’d hoped for a mermaid, but a merman will probably sell just as well,” Dick’s eyes narrowed and he bared his sharp teeth at the approaching pirate. This one looked different. He had more clothing then the other pirates, and it was more colorful as well. Red, white, and gold covered the man’s body, along with a red… something on his head. It had a large feather on it, which was something that Dick recognized at least.

 

Let me go!” Dick demanded again, and most of the pirates winced. The pirate – who seemed to be in command of the other pirates – didn’t seem affected at all though. “Tie him up, we wouldn’t want him jumping off the ship.”

 

It wasn’t the pirates that moved to do it though, it was the ones dressed in minimal clothing. As soon as one approached Dick bit into his hand. The human pulled away with a cry of distress, clutching onto his bleeding hand. The others seemed hesitant until the lead pirate yelled at them to hurry up. It took some time for the fragile humans to hold down the struggling merman, which was made difficult by the fact that a powerful tail kept slapping at the ones it could reach, and his screaming seemed to make the humans want to cover their ears.

 

Once he had been held steady, ropes much like the ones from the net, were wrapped around his body, making it difficult for the merman to do anything. If that wasn’t bad enough, those same metal cuffs that the ones holding him down were wearing were placed around his wrists. Dick tried to pry them apart but a chain seemed to be connecting them together.

 

Once he was suitably tied up, the humans backed away. The lead pirate came over, studying the merman. Dick tried to lift his tail again (although it was hard) but the pirate took out what Dick recognized to be a knife and hovered it over his tail. “If you try to hit me this is going straight into that pretty tail of yours.”

 

It would be hard to penetrate his tail, but Dick didn’t want to risk it. He glowered at the pirate but lowered his tail. The pirate gave him a grin full of poison. “Such a good little merman.”

Chapter Text

There was a cry of pain. Jason didn’t even need to turn his head to know whom it was coming from – one of the few friends that he’d made on this ship. And by ‘friend’ he meant ‘another person he sort of knows that has to go through this hell’. He recognized the voice, although he did turn his head slightly just to make sure.

 

It was difficult to make out the man’s hair color from beneath the dirt and grime, although Jason himself knew that it was a bright red. Jason could see the man’s ribs even through the flimsy shirts they were forced to wear, and his skin was red from the chains that all of the slaves had around their wrists and ankles. They were only long so that they had room to move when a slaver wanted something. One of the slavers had taken a whip to the male, and Jason twitched in anger.

 

There was a time when Jason might have jumped forward, taking the beating himself to protect his sort-of-friend, but that time was long past. Jason’s previous muscular body was so malnutritious that he wouldn’t be able to take someone else’s beating even if he tried. His long black hair curled around his face and touched his shoulders. They weren’t allowed to cut their hair on this ship, so the longer the hair the longer they’ve been here.

 

Jason didn’t remember when he arrived on the ship, but the red-haired man, Roy, had been taken in a few months after Jason. Jason, unlike Roy, hadn’t been a slave his entire life. Although Jason couldn’t say that his old life was good, because it hadn’t been. The only good thing about his old life was his loving mother, but other then that everything else sucked. Not as much as being a slave sucked, sure, but it still sucked.

 

Jason grew up with an abusive, dead-beat dad, who wouldn’t allow his mother to get a job, even though he himself had no job. Well, not a legal one anyway. Willis Todd had been a lackey for some slavers – in other words, slavers were too lazy to go and find slaves themselves, so his dad was one of the people who found them and gave them to the slavers. Sometimes Willis found people on the streets and gave them to the slavers, and sometimes he bought them from markets. The pay wasn’t too bad, but Willis just loved to spend it all on alcohol. He could have paid taxes, and he could have paid for an education for Jason, but he didn’t, and when the time came that they would lose their house, Willis had shoved Jason at the slavers, with the promise that he would get paid more then he ever had before.

 

Of course, the slavers were pirates, and they had other people who would sell or even give to them for less, so they killed Willis where he stood and took Jason anyway. Jason had been fourteen at the time, practically a man by then, and he’d been a fighter. He was muscular, and knew how to fight from having to protect himself and his mother against people who wished them harm.

 

He’d managed to take down a few of the slavers, but in the end there were too many of them, and he’d been knocked out. So here Jason was, a few years later. He’d long since given up hope of ever getting out of here. He’d tried leaving a few times, whenever the ship docked, but he was caught every time, and the punishments got worse and worse until they’d almost killed Jason once. A part of Jason hoped they would, if it was a way to escape this hellhole, but another part of him wanted to keep fighting. He wouldn’t die at the hands of this scum.

 

Roy was one of the few people that had managed to keep him sane. Trying to ignore the beating Roy was getting – Jason had no idea what had caused the fuss, for all he knew they could have just randomly selected someone to beat for fun – Jason turned his attention to the ocean. It was so beautiful. Even in all of his time here, the ocean still hadn’t turned into something he hated. It was actually one of the only things that he didn’t hate.

 

Then something caught his eye. Something different. Jason’s eyes narrowed as he focused on the water. At first, he’d thought there was a coral reef, but they were too far into the ocean for that, plus he’d never seen something so green and shiny before. “What in the world…?”

 

One of the slavers approached behind him, clapping him on the back. Jason almost stumbled forward from the force of it – and the lack of his own body strength. “Well, well, looks like the slave found us a mermaid.”

 

Mermaid? Shit… I shouldn’t have said anything.

 

Jason didn’t want to even image what the slavers would do with a mermaid in their clutches. It was common knowledge that mermaids exist, but they were rarely seen, and even more rarely caught. However, if anyone could do it, Jason knew it would be this crew.

 

“Boys!” Everyone turned their attention to the deck, where Captain Wade LaFarge had appeared. His second-in-command, Slade Wilson, who also happened to be his half-brother, followed after him. Long ago, Slade had been a Captain of his own ship, but for reasons unknown to the rest of the crew Slade had decided to join his younger brother, even though the title of Captain would be stripped from him.

 

Slade and Wade didn’t seem to get along that well, so nobody was quite sure why Wade had made him his second-in-command, or why Slade wanted to stay with his younger half-brother who obviously irritated him. Their relationship was a strange one, but nobody was able to figure out why they stayed together yet. There were rumors of course, but Jason never put much thought into rumors.

 

“Catch it,” Wade ordered, and the crew all gave shouts of obedience before grabbing a net, lowering it over the green-tailed mermaid. To their surprise, the green-tailed mermaid was knocked to the side, and another mermaid that they hadn’t seen before got caught into the net instead.

 

“She’s going to escape,” Slade growled, seeing the net starting to loosen.

 

“No she won’t, throw in another net boys!”

 

Another net was thrown, and though the two nets were swinging, they managed to hoist the mermaid up.

 

Or, the merman to be precise.

 

The crew almost dropped the net to cover their ears at the shrieking sound the merman let out. Jason felt his own ears start to ring in protest of the sound, and he rubbed at them a few times to get it to go away. “God, someone shut him up!” He heard Victor Stone - another one of the slaves – cry out.

 

The creature seemed to be caught between growling and letting out those shrieking noises, which just got worse when he was dumped onto the deck of the ship. Wade stood a safe distance away from the merman, but there was a victorious smirk on his face. “Ah, so this is the merperson making all of the fuss. I have to admit, I’d hoped for a mermaid, but a merman will probably sell just as well.”

 

The merman’s eyes narrowed and Jason watched as sharpened teeth were shown to the Captain in an obvious challenge. He let out another shrieking noise, but it seemed as though he was trying to respond to the Captain’s words.

 

Wade didn’t seem affected at all, and neither did his brother for that matter. Slade was watching the creature with a curiosity that Jason had never seen on the man’s face before.

 

“Tie him up,” Wade demanded, “we wouldn’t want him jumping off the ship.”

 

He glared over at the slaves, and they quickly went to it. Jason was the first to approach, which turned out to be a mistake, as the merman decided that attacking Jason was a good thing to do. Jason let out a cry of pain as those sharp teeth dug into his skin, and he quickly pulled his arm away from the merman, clutching at his bleeding hand. That son of a bitch, Jason fumed, studying the bite marks on his hand. It looked almost like someone had stabbed his hand in a mimic wolf-bite.

 

He turned his attention back to the merman, who was letting out shrieking noises of distress and flailing around. Jason wasn’t feeling so sympathetic anymore, but he knew what it was like to be captured by pirates, so there was one part of him that did feel for the mermaid.

 

A very small part – that bastard had bit his hand.

 

The slaves were having a difficult time. Jason watched as they were knocked down like bowling pins from blows of the merman’s powerful, gem-like tail. It made sense why they hadn’t seen him before – his blue tail blended in perfectly with the water.

 

Jason glanced over at the other pirates, but Slade gave him a one-eyed glare and Jason quickly resumed his position at the merman’s side, helping to tie him up. The merman was obviously having a difficult time moving. His flailing had stopped, and he appeared more alarmed then angry. The fins on the sides of his head were standing up straight, a display of intimidation, Jason assumed.

 

Victor took advantage of the merman’s shocked state to place handcuffs around the creature’s wrist. The merman stared at the handcuffs, seemingly curious about them. The slaves backed away as quickly as they could while the merman studied his cuffs. It tried to move its wrists away from each other, but the handcuffs kept him steady. A flash of annoyance rose in its cat-like eyes.

 

The Captain came over to stand in front of it. The merman raised his tail threateningly, and Jason mentally urged it on, but the Captain pulled out a knife and hovered it over the merman’s slightly lifted tail.

 

“If you try to hit me this is going straight into that pretty tail of yours,” Wade warned the merman. Seeming to understand the threat, the creature lowered its tail, but its eyes were full of hatred. Wade didn’t seem to notice this. He just gave the merman a deadly smirk, “such a good little merman.”

 

Then he patted the merman’s head. The merman flinched back like Wade had slapped him, and Wade chuckled before stepping away. “Brother,” he called, and Slade stepped forward. “What is it Captain?”

 

“Bring the merman to the lower deck, will you? We can fill up the tank in there with water rather than gun powder.”

 

As curious as Slade had appeared before, he looked a bit reluctant to carry the merman who had given so much trouble to the other crewmembers. “Shouldn’t the slaves be the ones to carry him down?”

 

“The slaves will be filling the tank with sea water,” Wade waved his hand, as though in dismissal. “Now bring that merman downstairs. This is a direct order from your Captain.”

 

Slade’s eye flashed in annoyance, although his face remained as cold as ever. “Yes Captain,” he practically growled and picked up the merman. Shrieks of protest were met and Slade winced at the close proximity to his ear. “Stop that noise or I’ll cut out your tongue.”

 

To Jason’s surprise the merman fell silent immediately. So he can understand us… but he can’t speak our language? I guess he’s kind of like a dog in that way.

 

Jason watched as Slade carried the glowering merman away and down the stairs. Or maybe he can…

 

Jason was interrupted from his thoughts by a slap to the back of the head that sent his vision reeling. “Were you not listening to me, slave?!”

 

Jason turned to see about three of the same man – Victor Zsasz, one of the pirates – glaring straight at him.

 

“What?” Jason asked, rather stupidly. Zsasz narrowed his eyes and Jason took a stumble backwards. He wasn’t in the mood to get a beating.

 

Luckily, Roy came to his rescue. “He was just thinking about what the best way to get the water is all.”

 

Zsasz turned his glare to Roy, who seemed to shrink from the intensity of it. There was a moment of tense silence, in which all three of them wondered if this was worth a beating or not, before Zsasz snorted. “Just get the damn water.”

 

The two immediately obeyed, helping the weaker slaves carry the buckets of water they’d managed to get from the sea and help bring it down to the lower deck. The merman did not look happy at all. He was glaring at Slade, who was standing next to his tank, but when the others arrived he turned his glare to them instead. Jason couldn’t help but to swallow at the intensity of it – he’d seen that look on many of the slavers faces before – but regardless he helped fill up the tank.

 

Even though the tank was now full with water, the merman did not look any happier, although he didn’t seem to appear to want to murder all of them any more. His sharp gaze trailed to Jason’s bloody hand and a small victorious smirk went over his face.

 

Jason could have slapped the merman then and there, audience be damned, but unfortunately the creature was behind a glass case and Jason would only succeed in hurting his hand more. That motherfucker. How dare he look smug over my hand?

 

Roy, sensing Jason’s anger, gave him a sharp look. Not now, it seemed to say, and Jason took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. The merman seemed to realize the effect he’d had on Jason, and he looked Jason straight in the eye, that smirk still on his face.

 

A few people were watching the staredown between slave and merman, none of them wanting to interrupt this process. Jason was glaring and the merman seemed almost amused. That shit, Jason thought angrily.

 

“What the hell are you all still doing down here?” Wade’s voice demanded, and they all snapped to attention, besides Jason who gave the merman one last glare before following after the other crewmates. I don’t care what happens to that merman, he’s an asshole.

 

“Wow, that merman had an attitude,” Roy’s voice broke into his thoughts. “He reminds me a bit of you.”

 

Jason whipped around to glare at him. “Excuse me? I’m nothing like that dumb fish!”

 

Roy just raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “If you say so…”

 

Jason couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “How could you compare me to that ass?”

 

“How can’t I?” Roy seemed a bit amused, and Jason grit his teeth. How was it that both his only friend and the only merman he’s ever seen are both amused by him in the worst way possible? “Whatever, let’s just get back to work,” Jason grumbled.

 

Roy chuckled and Jason twitched with annoyance. He wasn’t anything like that damn fish! Nothing like him!

 

… Right?

Chapter Text

“Brother,” the lead pirate called, and a man that Dick hadn’t noticed before stepped forward. He knew the term brother obviously, but the two of them didn’t look anything alike. For one, the age difference was phenomenal. The lead pirate had wavy brown hair and two blue eyes, plus his skin was a bit bronze. This lead pirate’s brother however, was a complete opposite. He had straight white hair, one of his blue eyes was covered by some… black thing, and his skin was pale.

 

“What is it, Captain?” ‘Brother’ asked, taking a step forward. Captain… was that this lead pirate’s name? Or was it a title? He knew that brother wasn’t a name, so he thought that maybe Captain wasn’t either.

 

“Bring the merman to the lower deck, will you? We can fill up the tank in there with water rather than gun powder.”

 

Brother looked as though he wanted to argue. “Shouldn’t the slaves be the ones to carry him down?”

 

Slaves… that word seemed slightly familiar to Dick, although he wasn’t sure the exact meaning of it.

 

“The slaves will be filling the tank with sea water,” Captain explained, waving his hand dismissively. "Now bring that merman downstairs, this is a direct order from your Captain.”

 

So now Dick knew that Captain was a title as well. Brother’s eye flashed in what Dick recognized as annoyance, but other then that he gave no sign that he wanted to disagree. “Yes Captain,” it sounded like a growl had come from his chest, and Dick wanted nothing more than to get away from this pirate.

 

No, put me down!” Dick demanded when Brother picked him up, holding him close to his chest. “Put me down!”

 

Brother winced, then glared down at Dick. “Stop that noise or I’ll cut out your tongue.”

 

Dick immediately stopped talking. Mostly because of the fact that he didn’t want his tongue chopped off, but also because it just now dawned on him why the pirates and slaves didn’t seem to understand what he was saying. He was so used to speaking in his native tongue that he’d completely forgotten that different humans used their own languages.

 

Although… he wasn’t sure that he wanted these humans to know he could speak in their tongue. Not unless an opportunity presented itself at least. If his native tongue affected the humans negatively, he could use it to his advantage.

 

Dick gave Brother a sour look the entire time that the pirate carried him down the stairs. Brother just snorted and while Dick was distracted with studying him, dumped him into some… clear case. Dick tapped on the clear wall, surprised when a loud noise came from it. He glared at Brother, who didn’t seem effected.

 

“Don’t give me that look,” Brother said, studying the merman, although Dick couldn’t place the exact look in his eye. “The slaves are the ones who tied you up, not me,” Brother suddenly snorted. “Not that I would mind doing it.”

 

Dick tilted his head, unsure what Brother meant by that, but knew that it wasn’t a friendly offer.

 

“You can understand me,” Brother said after a moment of silence. “Can you speak in our tongue?”

 

Dick narrowed his eyes, the fins on his head raised. It was something that merpeople did when feeling threatened, the fins would scare off potential predators, but so far the humans didn’t seem to be very effected by them.

 

“Cute,” Brother commented as Dick’s fins rose, and Dick scowled. Cute? Cute? He was not cute! This was intimidating, not… not cute!

 

Brother took a step closer to the clear thing that Dick was in, but quickly stopped when the rest of the people on the ship came thundering down the stairs. Most of them were carrying buckets of water, seawater if Dick had to guess, and dumped it into the clear thing that Dick was in. He had to admit… the feeling of seawater on his skin and scales did feel good, but that didn’t mean he was going to thank them or anything! They took him against his will, they tried to take his brother, and who knows what they’re going to do with or to him? He’d heard horror stories of merpeople getting captured by pirates before, and he mentally shuddered. He hoped that the stories were just stories, and not true.

 

He saw some red and looked at the bite mark on one of the slave’s hands. Dick allowed a victorious smirk to come across his face. Even though Dick was a captive here, he’d managed to hurt one of them. This human did nothing to stop Dick from being captured, therefore he was an enemy.

 

He could practically feel the anger radiating from the slave whose hand he’d bitten, and he met the slave’s gaze. Green eyes greeted him. Angry green eyes. He just smirked more, glad to know he’d had this effect on at least one of the humans.

 

Besides, it was kind of amusing to see one of them look so angry due to Dick’s mere presence. The others might have been annoyed, such as Brother, but none of them had seemed particularly angry with him.

 

“What the hell are you all still doing down here?” Captain’s voice came out of nowhere, and every human in the room snapped to attention. Well, every human besides the one who was glaring at him. He made sure to give Dick one furious last look before heading out with the others in the room.

 

Brother was about to leave, but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. Captain had gripped him and murmured something to him. Brother nodded and went back to stand beside Dick’s… whatever Dick was in. A cage of some sort, he supposed. Captain left and Brother gave him an intense look. It made Dick want to swim to the other side of his cage, but he managed to give Brother a challenging look back, not wanting to show he was scared. Although the fins on the side of his head said otherwise as they rose again.

 

Brother seemed amused by this. “I won’t hurt you.”

 

Yeah right.

 

“My name is Slade, what’s yours?”

 

“I hope a siren kills you.”

 

Slade seemed to be one of the only humans that wasn’t too effected by his voice. Although it appeared he also had no idea what Dick was saying. “Is that your name?”

 

“And get torn apart by merpeople.”

 

“Seeing the look on your face, I’m guessing not,” Slade said with a hum. He took a step closer until he was right up against the clear thing that kept the water – and Dick – inside the cage. This time, Dick did back away. He didn’t trust this human – well he didn’t trust any of them, but this one especially gave off a bad vibe.

 

Dick always had good instincts. It kept him alive numerous times, and he knew that no matter what sweet voice this Slade man put on, underneath it all he had his own greedy purposes.

 

Slade seemed to know that Dick was hiding something from him. “You do know how to speak our language, don’t you?”

 

Dick didn’t answer him this time.

 

“Interesting…” Slade murmured, studying Dick from his head to the fin on his tail. “Why won’t you say anything to us in our tongue then?”

 

Dick crossed his arms, glaring at Slade with a ‘you’re joking, right?’ look. Slade snorted, seemingly amused. “Is a man not allowed to be curious?”

 

Dick remained quiet.

 

“I won’t tell the others,” Slade promised, and Dick gave him a suspicious look. For once, the man appeared to be completely honest, although Dick knew that wasn’t out of any form of honor, it was about the greed of keeping this knowledge to himself.

 

Well Dick wouldn’t give him that satisfaction. He simply huffed and turned his back on the man. He could feel Slade’s gaze lingering on him still, which made him extremely uncomfortable, but he refused to turn around. Nobody could say that Dick wasn’t stubborn. He was one of the most stubborn merpeople, in fact, and that wouldn’t change because a human pirate was asking him to.

 

Slade let out a low chuckle. “We’ll talk again.”

 

Dick resisted the urge to look behind him. There was a promise in Slade’s words, but he remained looking at the opposite wall until he heard Slade’s footsteps going up the stairs.

 

He looked around. Now he was completely alone.

 

And… as much as Dick despised Slade’s presence, he had been company at the very least. His mind drifted to Tim, Bruce, Damian, the other merpeople. They rarely left each other, and if they were alone they would swim off to find other merpeople. That’s just how the merfolk were. They hated being alone, it was one of the worst feelings. Dick curled up on the bottom of his cage, staring at his tail and imagining that it was intertwined with someone else’s for warmth. He closed his eyes, and if he imagined hard enough, he could almost feel the ghost of a familiar voice – more than one – in his mind.

 

He felt a touch to his shoulder and his eyes immediately snapped open, expecting a human to be down here, but he was alone. And the touch had been feminine – there weren’t any females on board as far as Dick had seen.

 

He rubbed his shoulder, thinking that the touch had seemed… comforting. It must have been a dream though, because he could have sworn that he heard his parents’ voices.

 

Dick sighed and curled back up, staring forlornly at the wooden floor past his see-through cage. He couldn’t imagine it looking anything like the ocean, no matter how hard he tried. He wondered how the others were doing, if they missed him as much as he missed them.

Chapter Text

When Dick opened his eyes, he was completely surprised to find himself in the ocean. Tim was curled up against him, but he woke up when Dick shifted. “Dick?” he murmured, a bit sleepily.

 

“Hey,” Dick reached over and stroked Tim’s hair. “I didn’t mean to wake you, go back to sleep.”

 

“Nah, I’m fine,” Tim’s cat-like eyes were filled with concern. “Are you? You look very spooked.”

 

“I… had a bad dream,” Dick admitted. “It was about humans.”

 

Tim sighed, “We’ve all had bad dreams about humans before. I’m not surprised.”

 

“Yeah…” Dick yawned, the fins on his figure all standing on edge as his whole body tensed from the intensity of it. “I suppose so, it just seemed more vivid then most nightmares I’ve had.”

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” Tim asked, tilting his head. Dick shook his head, “No, it’s fine. I’m starting to forget what it was about anyway,” he half-lied.

 

Tim gave him a suspicious look, but kept his thoughts to himself, something Dick was very grateful for. He didn’t want to talk about his dream; he didn’t want to think about all of the bad things that had happened in it. At least he was able to calm himself with the knowledge that humans would never capture him like they had in his dream. It was very, very rare for that to happen, and Dick was very careful if anything resembling something a human would use came nearby him.

 

“I’m feeling a bit hungry,” Tim said after a moment of silence. “Do you want to come hunting with me?”

 

Dick nodded; now that Tim mentioned it he was feeling hungry too. “Sounds good to me. We should hunt in the coral reefs this time,” he said with a grin. Tim snorted, knowing the joke. Most merpeople used that joke. Hunting in the coral reefs was strictly forbidden by order of the King and Queen, so it was common to joke around with something like that. Not to mention, merpeople rarely hunted, since it was a Siren’s job to hunt for the merfolk. Not that it stopped other merpeople from hunting.

 

“I was thinking maybe we could try that spot that Bruce always hunts in,” Tim said thoughtfully. “It might be good practice for hiding if there’s a shark.”

 

Immediately Dick flinched away, unwanted memories from his parents deaths coming back to him. Tim realized what he said and a hand flew to his mouth. “Oh – I didn’t – we don’t have to –“

 

“It’s alright,” Dick said once he recollected himself. There was a lot about that day that he didn’t remember, almost as though holes were missing in his memory. He remembered the shark attacking his parents, and then Bruce finding him. But… there was a large gap between the time his parents had been attacked and the time Bruce found him where he couldn’t remember anything.

 

Dick tried not to dwell on it – he’d only been a merboy at that time, many of the merpeople didn’t remember certain things from their childhood. “We can hunt there. You’re right, it might be good practice.”

 

Tim gave him a long, lingering look that made Dick want to shift uncomfortably, but the older brother made sure to give Tim a steady look in return. He could do this. He couldn’t hide from sharks forever; they were a part of the sea life and he had to deal with them sooner or later. Dick would rather be prepared then caught off-guard like his parents had been.

 

Tim seemed to realize this, for he gave a sharp nod. “Let’s go then.”

 

The two brothers swam up from the ocean floor and towards the rather dangerous hunting spot where Bruce hunted. Most merpeople avoided that section, since sharks and other dangerous creatures were known to frequent there, but the two mermen were eager to prove themselves.

 

It was dark in this section, so their tails, which had been shining so brightly only seconds ago, immediately turned black. They both pressed themselves against the rocky formations that surrounded this place, watching fish as they swam by. None of them were appetizing enough for the two mermen, so they waited for a bit longer until Tim swam forward, snatching a fish and quickly killing it. Dick watched as Tim’s sharp teeth tore the flesh from the fish, and he felt hunger stir in his stomach. Tim seemed satisfied with his catch, and he licked his lips after he was finished devouring the fish. They sat in silence until another fish that Dick deemed worthy swam by. Immediately, Dick lunged for it. He’d just caught it when he heard Tim’s voice, filled with terror. “Dick watch out!”

 

Dick spun around to see a shark swimming right for him.

 

Jason woke up with a loud gasp. His heart was pounding in his chest, and adrenaline that he hadn’t felt in a long time was rushing through his veins. Sweat dripped from his body, creating trails of cool liquid that stained his already filthy shirt. He sucked in a shaky breath and ran a hand through his long hair, trying to calm himself down. It was just a dream, he reassured himself, although the image of the shark swimming right for him kept flashing in front of his eyes. Why the hell did I have a dream about that stupid fish anyway? More to the point, why was I the stupid fish?

 

Jason had no clue why he was dreaming about being their captive merman, or who the other merman in the dream had been, but he did recall what they looked like. Green tail… the original mermaid we had planned on capturing had a green tail. Was it that merman from the dream?

 

Jason nearly scoffed at himself. Of course it wasn’t, it was just a dream. Besides, what kind of a name was Dick? He couldn’t really recall the other names mentioned in the dream, but he did remember being addressed as Dick. Okay, maybe the name does make sense. I mean… the merman is a total dick.

 

Jason still wasn’t sure why he was feeling so scared though. Sure, nobody really liked sharks, but he never got scared of them. Not like this at least. Plus, he’d had plenty of nightmares, and they had never shaken him this badly before – even the ones that were worse then this. He laid back down, trying to fall asleep, but he still had a feeling of terror. He knew he wasn’t going to get any sleep like this, so he got up and wandered around the ship instead. He looked out at the ocean – which usually calmed him down – but it wasn’t working.

 

What the hell is wrong with me? Jason thought, feeling alarmed. The dream wasn’t even that scary.

 

He wondered if he should check on the merman. Maybe that asshole was somehow doing something to Jason to make him like this. He had no idea if that was even possible… but whatever, he had a strong urge to do it and Jason was an impulsive person. He made sure that nobody was around before creeping down the stairs to the lower deck.

 

He wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting, but he wasn’t expecting the merman to be huddled on the bottom of his cage, his entire body shaking. Jason couldn’t read his facial expression, because his hands were covering his face, but he figured that the merman wasn’t happy.


“Dick?” He didn’t know why he said that, it just sort of slipped out. But the merman’s head snapped up so quickly that Jason himself winced from phantom pain. He could see fear and caution in the merman’s eyes, and he took a few steps forward. “Is that your name?”

 

The merman rubbed at his eyes, before shooting Jason something between a glare and suspicion. He quickly shook his head, but somehow Jason didn’t believe him. “Then what is your name?”

 

The merman stayed silent, but at least he wasn’t making that awful screeching noise. Jason huffed in annoyance, “Whatever. I don’t care. I don’t even know why I came down here in the first place.”

 

Jason started to head up the stairs when he heard the merman say something. Something he could have sworn was in English. Just to double-check, he turned around to look at the merman. “…What did you say?”

 

Dick hesitated, before speaking again. “Yes.”

 

A million questions exploded into Jason’s mind at once. Your name is Dick? You can speak English? How much do you know?

 

He didn’t voice any of those aloud though, he just gave a curt nod. “I see. Well, have fun.”

 

The fear had left him, he noticed that when he started… whatever he was doing with Dick. He wasn’t quite sure if it was talking. Maybe he could actually get some sleep, undisturbed by… Dick. He had no idea how he knew that the merman’s name was Dick though. It was just a dream…. Right?

Chapter Text

Dick barely got any sleep last night.

 

Firstly, he’d had a nightmare about something that had happened back in the ocean a while ago. It sent both fear and irritation through him; he manages to have a memory-dream about the ocean, and it’s about a shark that had attacked him? Why couldn’t he have had a good dream, with Damian and Tim and Bruce? Why did it have to be the shark attack of all the memories his brain could have used?

 

He mentally shuddered at the memory. Luckily he’d woken up before the shark had actually managed to attack him, but still… seeing the shark swimming towards him had been a shock. It brought back too many bad memories; he didn’t think he’d ever had a nice run-in with a shark before. First he’d watched his parents getting torn apart by one, then another one had attacked him when he’d been hunting with Tim.

 

Dick would have liked to blame it on a lack of skill, but the truth was that every merperson was liable to fall victim to a shark attack, even someone as strong as Bruce. Ra’s al-Ghul had a section of his assassins dedicated to protecting the others from sharks. Sharks didn’t care if it was a merchild, or the highest authority of the merpeople, they’d kill them and eat them without so much of a hint of remorse.

 

Dick thought that he’d managed to block the memory from his mind of what had happened during the shark attack, but that dream had brought everything back. All of the bad memories that he didn’t want came flooding towards him until he wanted to cry and hide away from whatever horrible world he was in now. He could remember the blood, and the feeling of tearing coming from his skin, and Tim’s cries of horror that were almost drowned out by his own screams.

 

Dick studied his arm. It was hard to see, but if one were to look closely enough there was a shining scar against his bronze skin from his flesh tearing. The shark had also damaged the fin on his arm, but it had grown back after a year. It was difficult for a merperson to scar, because while they were alive their bodies were quick to heal themselves, but the shark had taken more then a small chunk of flesh from Dick’s arm, and all Dick had to do was study that scar for a permanent reminder of that.

 

If that dream and the terror lingering after it hadn’t been bad enough, now that human that Dick had bit knew he could speak in their tongue as well. He didn’t seem to know how much Dick was able to say, but the fact that he knew Dick could speak their language at all wasn’t good. Dick hoped that the young slave would be able to keep that particular secret of Dick’s to himself.

 

Then there was the fact that the slave knew his name. As far as Dick could recall, he’d never said his name before, so how would that slave know it? Even though the unknown should have scared Dick much more than it actually had, when he was ‘talking’ to the slave, that terror had left him. It was almost a familiar feeling. Sure, the human was rude, but now Dick was curious about him. How did he know these private things about Dick? Why was he able to calm Dick down, if only slightly? Why had he even come down to where Dick was in the first place?

 

So many questions, but no answers were forthcoming. Dick’s mind had been trying to come up with conclusions ever since he spoke to the slave for the first time, not allowing him to sleep, but nothing made any sense.

 

Dick knew that Sirens were able to sense each other, and communicate telepathically with words and images, even though normal merpeople weren’t able to do so. Was it possible that certain humans had abilities like that as well? He’d never heard of anything like that before, but then again, most merpeople never made it back alive to tell the others about their time as captives for the humans.

 

Dick sighed for probably the twentieth time since that slave visited him. He wanted to know how the slave knew something like that. Did he know other merfolk that could have told him?

 

The young merman didn’t really believe that, merfolk never talked to humans, but he couldn’t think of how else the slave could have known his name. He’d sounded so sure of it, like it wasn’t a slip of the tongue, like he actually knew Dick’s name. It was terrifying and captivating at the same time. Dick wanted to know more. He needed to talk to this slave again, but how? The slave didn’t seem very pleased with him when he left, and Dick himself didn’t like the slave much. He was rude and disrespectful and whenever he looked at Dick, the merman got the feeling that the slave wanted to hit him. At the same time, Dick was curious about him. Mostly about how he knew Dick’s name actually, Dick didn’t really care for much else, but there was also the fact that he now knew Dick was able to speak… whatever language these humans spoke. He believed that it might have been called English, but he wasn’t certain.

 

Dick heard footsteps coming down the stairs, and he perked up, only to deflate when he realized that the human coming down the stairs wasn’t the slave he’d wanted to talk to. The Captain and Slade were both standing there, studying Dick with different looks on their faces. The Captain looked like he was gazing at a trophy, while Slade looked at him like he was a piece of meat. Dick wasn’t sure which made him more uncomfortable.

 

“Merman,” the Captain spoke, and Dick turned his attention to him, trying to look as disinterested as possible. “We’ve heard some stories from the crew that you’re able to speak.”

 

For a moment, Dick panicked, thinking that the slave must have told them, but then he got a good look at the Captain’s face. He was lying. It was a bluff to try and get a reaction out of Dick.


Well, two could play that game. Dick just cocked his head at him, like he wasn’t sure what the Captain was trying to get at.

 

From next to the Captain, Slade snorted. “Oh please, you can understand every word we say, don’t try looking so confused.”

 

Dick narrowed his eyes at the white-haired male. If Dick had to choose someone to sacrifice to the sea on this ship, Slade would be at the top of his list. It wasn’t even because he pissed Dick off, it was because he was smart; too smart for his own good. Plus, he seemed to have taken an interest in Dick, and Dick didn’t want that. Dick could tell straight away that Slade was a liar - no matter how much he honeyed his words and actions - Slade had his own intentions. Maybe it scared Dick, to know that he could be read so well by a complete stranger while Dick couldn’t get an exact reading on him.

 

The Captain, on the other hand, was very easy to read. Where Slade hid his intentions, the Captain was very open about them. Dick could see in his face that the Captain was only interested in what he could gain from Dick, not that he bothered thinking about Dick himself. He didn’t see Dick as a living being, just something to be sold off. In his mind, the only thing different about Dick and a prized jewel was that Dick was able to communicate.

 

“Not feeling very talkative?”

 

Not with you,” Dick replied, making sure to use his native tongue. The Captain sighed and turned to his brother. “I thought you said that he could talk?”

 

“I assumed that he could,” Slade replied, looking slightly annoyed, “I never said it was a definite thing. Although, I know that he can understand us, even if he pretends not to.”

 

Dick huffed, which was apparently enough of an answer for the two human brothers. The Captain turned back to Slade. “I don’t care what you do, I want you to get him to talk. He’ll be worth even more if we manage to get some information out of him.”

 

Dick felt a pang of fear forming in his chest. He wasn’t quite sure he wanted to know what Slade was planning to do to get him to talk. The white-haired man was very built; perhaps more built then Bruce, and way taller then Dick. He was intimidating in his own way, and Dick had no doubt that Slade could really hurt him if he wanted to. Slade was staring at him, and Dick held his gaze. He didn’t want to look away; he was scared of what could happen if he did. Slade gave a sharp nod, “I’ll see what I can do.”

 

“Good, you’ll start tomorrow,” the Captain said, and Dick couldn’t hold in a relieved sigh. He’d been worried that the Captain would have wanted Slade to start trying to get Dick to talk right away, but at least now Dick had time to mentally prepare himself from whatever Slade decided to do.

 

The Captain went back up the stairs quickly, but Slade lingered for a moment, still giving Dick an intense look that made the merman want to squirm, before he left as well.

 

Before all Dick could think about was the slave. Now all he could think about was the potential torture they might put him through to get information about the ocean from him.

 

Whatever happened, Dick would never betray the King and Queen by telling these humans about the merpeople and sirens. He leaned against his cage, his body starting to feel an immediate cold from the contact with the cool glass, but he needed it to distract him. Dick would always crave warmth over coldness, but he was at least able to handle it due to his thick skin, plus if he focused on this maybe he could just forget about all of his troubles.

 

Or maybe forgetting about all of his troubles would just make more appear when Slade came by tomorrow.

 

He curled his entire body up against the glass, covering his face with his hands. He wanted to go back to the ocean, to see Tim and Damian and Bruce – hell at this point he would be happy seeing Talia again.

 

But moping around wasn’t going to help him. He needed to find a way off of this ship, no matter what the cost.

 

For now though… for now he allowed himself to have a moment of self-pity. He gave himself a few minutes before taking a deep breath, although a part of him was still scared. He’d only been on this ship for two days, not even full days, and he was already feeling the strain. Had a single good thing happened while he’d been on this ship? No, nothing at all. There had been that small moment of pleasure when he’d bit that slave’s hand, but it hadn’t lasted long. The only good thing Dick could think of was that at least he’d managed to save Tim.

 

Dick wondered if he’d ever see his family again. Before, all he could focus on was getting Tim out of danger, but he hadn’t thought about how he would feel once he was captured and Tim was free.

 

It wasn’t that he wanted Tim to be captured, he was happy that his little brother was safe, but at the same time… a selfish part of him wondered if it would be so bad if Tim was here with him. He didn’t think so. They could cuddle and give each other comfort, they could talk to each other, they could try to find a way to escape, they could keep each other from going mad with lack of communication. Now Dick had nobody, all he had was memories, and even they weren’t strong enough to give him comfort. All he could feel was a terrible, crushing sadness at the fact that he most likely wouldn’t be seeing his family again, and also an overwhelming fear of what was going to happen to him. What if they did get information? Would they kill him? If Dick didn’t give them information, what would they do to him? What would they continue doing to him?

 

He stroked his arm in the same way that his mom used to when he was a merboy and upset. She always managed to make him feel better when he was sad or scared, but… even if he were in the ocean, she wouldn’t be able to comfort him like that anymore. She was dead, and there was no comfort from the dead. There was no warmth the dead could offer, there were no words of reassurance, there was only the emptiness that left a hole in your heart because nothing would ever be able to fill the memories of who the person had been to you.

 

Dick sighed. He wanted to feel that comfort, but no memories or false images could replace how she was able to comfort him. There was a reason that she was the one who comforted him, and not himself. Sure, sometimes Dick could calm himself down, but he was a merperson, he was dependent on the comfort of others.

 

Dick was already really missing his underwater family. When he thought about them, his heart ached with longing. The more he thought about it, the more convinced he was that he would never see them again. What could they have done that could have avoided this fate? Maybe they could have swum faster? Maybe they could have just skipped the party? If that noise hadn’t woken Dick and Tim up, would they have still been asleep when the pirate ship passed? Was it possible that Dick wouldn’t have been captured if the timing had been better? If they’d made better choices?

 

Dick was ripped from his depressing thoughts when hearing footsteps on the stairs. A part of Dick didn’t really care who it was, but he decided to glance up anyway in case Slade decided to start questioning him early.

 

So, he was pleasantly surprised seeing that slave that he’d bitten coming down the stairs. Dick immediately perked up, although he shrunk back slightly when the slave was followed by another person dressed in the same ragged clothing, except this person had long red hair rather than long black hair.

 

The red haired slave was dragging a bucket. It probably wouldn’t have been heavy to normal people, but these… slave people seemed to be very weak physically at times. Sure, they had muscles from the labor they did Dick supposed, but they were skinny – skinnier than Dick and Tim had ever been, even though the humans were taller then the both of them.

 

Dick smelt the fish before he saw it. The red-haired human had pulled out a large bass from the bucket, and Dick immediately drifted up to the top of the cage, reaching out his arms to try grabbing at the struggling fish. Both of the slaves took a step back, seemingly startled when Dick popped out of the water, but Dick didn’t care. He suddenly realized how hungry he was, and that fish was practically making him salivate.

 

The red-head appeared not to want to approach Dick, but the one Dick had bitten scoffed and grabbed the fish before holding it out to Dick. Dick snatched it from his hand before breaking the fish’s neck – he didn’t want the fish to hurt when Dick devoured him.

 

And devour him he did. The slaves both watched him with faces in between a mixture of horror and bemusement. Dick’s sharp fangs cut straight through the scales of the fish, and he yanked his head back to pull out even more of the meat from the fish. The humans watched until there were only the fragile bones of the fish, which Dick immediately dropped and went to sucking on his fingers to try and get the juices left over from the fish.

 

“I… guess merpeople do eat fish then,” the red-haired one stated a bit awkwardly. Dick gave him a lazy glance, finishing sucking on his fingers. He glanced down at the remains of the fish and swam to grab it. The two humans watched as Dick went to the top of the cage again and flung the fish bones right into the bucket.

 

“We uh… have more,” the slave Dick wanted to talk to grabbed another bass. It was smaller then the last one, but it would do. They repeated the motion – Dick snatching the bass from the slave’s hand, devouring the fish, and then flinging the remains into the bucket.

 

“Nice aim,” said the dark haired one, and Dick averted his gaze, feeling a bit… satisfied with the praise. Of course, he had no idea why, humans didn’t satisfy him one bit, but still… maybe it was because he was lonely.

 

Eventually the red-haired one left with the bucket, but the ravenette slave stayed. His green eyes were studying Dick, although he didn’t look like Slade and the Captain did, he seemed… a bit more cautious but also slightly interested. Dick wondered if he felt the same way Dick was feeling when it came to the other.

 

“How much English do you know?” the ravenette started, and Dick hesitated. Maybe he could play dumb? He looked the slave in the eye and immediately decided to tell the truth. “Everything. I know everything,” Dick said, a bit surprised at himself.

 

The slave seemed surprised too. It was obvious he hadn’t actually expected Dick to respond to him. “Oh… that’s… nice?”

 

Dick tilted his head. “Why are you talking to me?”

 

“Do you not want me to? Believe me, I would have no problems stopping.”

 

“No!” Dick mentally winced at how desperate that sounded. “I just… I just want to know what your reasons are.”

 

“My reasons are my own,” the ravenette eventually said, and Dick almost sighed in frustration.

 

“How did you know my name?”

 

“… I can’t believe your name is actually Dick.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Well uh…” the slave suddenly looked a bit awkward. “Nevermind. It’s not something you would get.”

 

“You still never answered me,” Dick said, and Jason shot him a scowl. “I… I had a dream about you kinda. It’s not a huge deal.”

 

“You heard my name in the dream?”

 

The ravenette nodded, and Dick fell silent in thought. As far as he knew, the only creatures able to communicate through dreams were Sirens, but seeing as neither Dick nor the slave were Sirens, Dick was even more confused. “Well what’s your name?”

 

“Huh?” the slave seemed startled.

 

“You know my name, it’s only fair,” Dick said, a bit annoyed.

 

The slave hesitated for a long while - so long Dick thought that he might have been ignored - before the slave finally spoke. “It’s Jason.”

 

“I see… can I ask you a favor?”

 

Jason raised an eyebrow. “Uh… sure I guess. Depends on what it is.”

 

“Don’t tell anybody that I can speak in your tongue.”

 

“Why not?”

 

Dick was silent for a moment. “The Captain told Slade to get me to speak – they want information and I’m not willing to give it to them. So if they know I am able to speak in a recognizable language then they’ll push even harder.”

 

Jason winced, “Damn. Sucks to be you. Well, sucks to be me too but yeah you’re in for a ride.”

 

“How does it suck to be you?” Dick asked in confusion. Jason opened his mouth to answer, but at that exact moment the red-head came down the stairs again. “Jay they want you on the deck, I think you’d better hurry unless you want a whipping.”

 

Jason visibly paled. “Alright I’ll be up,” he turned back to Dick once the red-haired slave disappeared. “Maybe I’ll tell you some other time, Fish-boy.”

 

Dick scrunched his nose. “Fish-boy?”

 

Jason just gave him a smirk before heading up the stairs, leaving Dick alone again. Although… it wasn’t as bad this time. Dick didn’t feel so alone anymore, not if Jason continued talking to him that is.

 

Chapter Text

Jason had been so caught up in thinking about Dick that he almost tripped over the bodies.

 

“What…?”

 

There were two of them on the ground. Jason vaguely recognized them as fellow slaves, but he’d never talked to them before. Their skin had taken on a very sickly white hue, and their dead eyes were glazed as they stared sightlessly up at the sky. There was puke on their ratty shirts, no chunks – they weren’t fed enough for that – but pure brown liquid with a mixture of what Jason recognized as blood. Their lips had already started to turn blue, and Jason stumbled back into Roy. The redhead looked very serious as he stared at the two bodies.

 

Jason wanted to look away… but he couldn’t. What had happened? Had someone killed them? The bleeding must have been internal, since he didn’t find any evidence of a wound that could have killed them. What did this mean? Was there a sickness on board?

 

Jason felt his heart flutter in fear. The pirates might be able to fight off a sickness, but the immune systems of the slaves were shit. If the slaves got sick… even a common cold could kill them. Could kill Jason.

 

He’d survived through too much shit to get killed off by a sickness. Every whipping, every beating, every attempt to escape, every time he picked himself up off the ground, every time he fought for his sanity, it could all be erased by sickness. After everything he’d done to survive, he could be killed off in the worst way possible. There was a reason he never gave up – he refused to die. So the fact that something that could kill him without provocation was on board scared him, and Jason wasn’t one who scared easily.

 

“What’s going on?” The slaves all snapped to attention as Captain Wade came over, his brother in tow. He stopped at the sight of the bodies. For a split second Jason could have sworn that something flashed in his eyes, before they were taken over by a cold look.

 

He turned to his crew. “Did anyone kill these two?”

 

There was complete silence. The only noise that could be heard was the water splashing against the mighty ship before Captain Wade sighed and looked back down at the two bodies. “I’m going to assume they died of an ailment then.”

 

Slade was watching the Captain with an odd expression on his face, although Jason didn’t know why. Wade didn’t appear to see this look; either that or he didn’t care. He was looking down at the two bodies with something akin to annoyance in his eyes, as though the death of two slaves was nothing more then a mere bother to him.

 

Of course that’s the case. Slaves were nothing in the eyes of the Captain. They were mere bugs underneath of his polished shoe.

 

“Toss them overboard, we don’t want them stinking up the place,” said Wade, scrunching up his nose in distaste. Jason probably would have felt anger stirring up in his gut, but he was just… so used to it by now. What could he expect for two slaves? Certainly not a funeral.

 

The slaves looked hesitant to approach the bodies, and Jason couldn’t blame them. How was this sickness spread anyway? Was it through touch? Bodily fluids… oh god… was it airborne?

 

Jason immediately covered his mouth, although he knew by that point it would be too late. Hell he’d practically tripped over the bodies; there was no way he wasn’t infected if the sickness was spread through touch or was just plain airborne.

 

“Get on with it!” Wade snapped, and the slaves jumped into action. The other pirates were looking very relieved they didn’t have to touch the dead, gross and infected bodies of the starved slaves. As soon as Jason touched the arm of one of the infected bodies, his hand immediately started to burn. He pulled his hand back to check and see what the fuss was about.

 

It wasn’t his entire hand, it was the bite mark from Dick that was refusing to fade. This was the first time since Dick had bitten him that it actually bothered him physically.

 

“What the-“ Jason cut himself off with a sharp cry of pain. It had come out of nowhere. The burning sensation went from the bite mark throughout his whole body.

 

He vaguely realized that he was on the ground, and his limbs were jerking and twitching, but all he could focus on was the burning fire spreading through each nerve of his body. He heard Roy’s voice – or at least he thought it was Roy’s voice – calling out his name. It was muffled, though, by another voice.

 

One voice rang clearly through his head, calling his name. “Jason~” it whispered, and the last thought that went through Jason’s mind before he lost consciousness was “Why is Dick talking to me?”

Chapter Text

To a six year old, the world could either be a big scary place, or their own personal heaven – depending on where they grew up. Jason didn’t have the luxury of a personal heaven, despite wanting it a lot for he and his mother. His father was a different story. Jason didn’t really care what happened to him. He knew that he and his mom deserved better then what they had though.

 

Jason was a hot-headed, reckless and curious child, therefore it wasn’t a surprise when he went against his father’s orders to stay away from the basement. Jason had always been curious about what was in the basement that his father was so adamant about him not going in there.

 

Well, Jason wasn’t going to just sit around, he was going to find out on his own! Maybe it was a mistake, maybe it wasn’t, but Jason would have found out about his father’s illegal activities anyway. It was dead night, his father was long gone and his mother was asleep, he knew where his father kept the key to the basement as well. It took a few hops, but the 6 year old eventually managed to grab the key from the hook on the wall and carefully unlocked the door to the basement. It was pitch black, so Jason grabbed one of the hand-candles off the kitchen counter and crept down the stairs with it.

 

He could hear breathing, heavy breathing, and the first thought that came to Jason’s young mind was Oh my god father is keeping a monster locked up in here.

 

A part of him wanted to flee up the stairs, but most of him was frozen to the spot in fear. Then again, he also had that small Well monsters are pretty cool right?

 

“Are you coming down here to hurt me some more?”

 

It talked! Jason gasped, lifting the lamp up to see… not a monster. A dark skinned male was shackled to the wall, wearing nothing but tattered pants. There were dark slashes covering his body and Jason could count his ribs even with the dim lighting of the candle. “W-Who are you? Why are you down here?” Jason asked, his voice accusing as though the man had come down here by his own free will and shackled himself to the wall for fun.

 

“You’ve gotta… help me…” the dark-skinned male murmured, and Jason gave him a mistrusting look. “Help you? I don’t know you! Why are you down here? Are you here to hurt us?” Jason scowled and glared at him, trying to be intimidating in his small child body. “I’ll kick your ass you know, if you try to hurt us!”

 

The man didn’t seem too impressed. “In this state you probably… could… kid… you’ve got to help me.”

 

“Help you?” Jason frowned slightly, “With what?”

 

“Help me get out of here,” the man tried convincing him, “they want to… sell me… as a slave… based off of my skin…”

 

“They?” It wasn’t that Jason wasn’t bright, he was actually rather smart, but he still held that hint of denial that made him not want to listen to what the slave was saying.

 

“Your father,” the slave got out. “He’s a bad man. You need to help me out of here before –“

 

They both froze as the door slammed open. Jason glanced up the stairs to see his father’s intimidating figure and he cringed, knowing that what was going to happen next wouldn’t be good. With a speed Jason didn’t know his father possessed, Willis had raced down the stairs, gripping Jason’s arm tight. Tight enough to leave bruises.

 

“What the hell are you doing down here, boy?!”

 

“I – I – I was just –“ Jason tried to stutter out an excuse, but was cut off by a resounding slap. The stinging pain on his cheek brought tears to the young boy’s eyes, but he didn’t allow any of them to fall, not wanting to look weak in front of his father.

 

“Go to bed, I’ll deal with you later,” Willis growled, letting go of the boy’s arm. Jason didn’t waste any time in racing up the stairs, his heart pounding quickly in his chest as he stumbled on the steps before making his way to his room, locking it behind him. He should never have gone down there.

 


 

Dick woke up with a startled gasp, rubbing at his eyes. The memory of his dream was already starting to get foggy, but he recalled some things… a young human boy… a slave… Jason… the boy reminded him of Jason. But… it probably wasn’t, it was just some weird dream.

 

He ran a hand through his hair, thinking about Jason. Earlier he’d felt woozy, and almost passed out, but after a moment of pure panic he realized it wasn’t him that was feeling it. It was Jason.

 

This didn’t make any sense… he’d never, never heard of a merperson creating a bond with a human, nor any being. As far as he knew the only ones that were able to make mind connections were sirens, and even then it rarely happened with a human.

 

Dick was interrupted from his thoughts when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. He tensed, not knowing who or even what to expect. He remembered Wade saying that he wanted Slade to get Dick to talk… what exactly had he meant by that?

 

Dick remained terse and quiet when Slade approached the cage, although he was mentally freaking out, and he couldn’t help but to feel a sharp pang of fear when he saw that Slade was carrying a bunch of shiny sharp metal things in a cloth material slung over his shoulder.

 

He wondered just what Slade was going to do to get him to talk.

 


 

Jason had been unusually quiet since he’d awoken from his earlier fit. He didn’t really remember much of it, just that his hand had started to burn. He saw Roy casting worried looks at him, but Jason couldn’t bring himself to care. He felt… withdrawn. Not that he hadn’t already been withdrawn, but he was too tired mentally to deal with this shit. Not to mention that he'd had some nightmare memory about the first time he'd found a slave locked up in his basement when he was a kid. He'd almost forgotten about it until he passed out and had the vivid dream.

 

The first emotion hit him like a wave since he woke up, and he almost staggered at the fear that suddenly clenched in his chest. Dick, he thought, although he had no idea why the merman had popped into his head. Something… wasn’t right. He looked over at the ladder, spotting Slade going down it to where Dick was waiting.

 

Jason immediately went to go follow him, but was knocked to the ground by a smack to the back of his head. He looked up with bleary eyes at Zsasz, who was glaring at him. “Get back to work, scum.”

 

Jason looked back at where Slade had disappeared and sighed. Sorry Dick, he mentally apologized. I can’t help you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Slade studied the merman in front of him, who in turn was studying him back. Both of their eyes locked onto each other’s, a battle of wills to see who would look away first.

 

After a couple minutes of just pure staring, Slade decided enough was enough. He could see the fear in the merman’s eyes, although he could tell that he was trying to hide it. Slade knew, he always knew. Fear was something that delighted Slade, because it was something that made others listen to him and do what he said. If this merman wasn’t stupid, then he’d talk.

 

Slade carefully placed the bag filled with knives down and approached the glass cage again. The merman was terrified, but that didn’t seem to stop him from glaring at Slade, which was kind of impressive on its own. Slade was beginning to like the merman’s attitude, although, it wouldn’t be very easy getting information out of the creature if he was too stubborn.

 

Something that Slade had noticed was that the merman’s tail seemed to dim in the dark room until the bright shining blue that it had originally been was extremely dark. Almost black. Slade wondered if the merman was becoming ill, or if this was something that all merpeople did.

 

Despite the knowledge of merpeople’s existence, humans actually knew very little about them. There were many theories, but nobody had managed to get proof. Well, Slade was planning on getting that proof. He could make a lot of money off of this creature in front of him.

 

“I’m sure you’re probably wondering what those are,” Slade said, gesturing to the bag filled with knives.

 

The merman didn’t fall for the bait, but his eyes did hold a slight curiosity.

 

“These are here as a… persuasion if I can’t get you to talk,” Slade said, pulling out one of the knives and twirling it in his hand, watching as the sharp blade glinted. Dick seemed to recognize it from when he’d first arrived on the ship, because he cringed away. It was the first time that he had visibly shown fear in front of Slade. Interesting. The merman obviously wasn’t a fan of physical pain – most people weren’t – but was he as susceptible to mental pain as well?

 

Slade smirked, “It seems that you recall almost getting stabbed by one of these. Is it just knives, or do all sharp objects scare you?”

 

The merman’s body froze, and Slade knew he’d hit a sore spot for the merman. Slade figured that something must have happened in the merman’s past for this reaction to occur. Most creatures with intelligence didn’t like knives or anything that could be used as a weapon against them, but Slade could tell that this was a more deep-rooted fear. Something personal. The merman’s eyes held a slight haunt to them as he glared at the knife in Slade’s hand.

 

“If you don’t want me to use this on you, I suggest that you talk.”

 

The merman bit his lip, before completely turning his back on Slade, surprising the pirate. Slade… hadn’t expected that. Slade could tell that the merman was tense, his posture was rigid and he seemed to be a bit curled in on himself, the small ridges along his back were shaking, but he had still turned away and left himself completely vulnerable. He was lucky that Slade needed him, or else the pirate would have killed him then and there. Maybe the merman knew that, and trusted that Slade wouldn’t kill him. Maybe.

 

Slade chuckled, and one of the blue fins on the merman’s head tilted back to locate the source of the noise now that he wasn’t looking at the human. “Cute. But don’t make any mistake thinking that you’re safe from death, we can always capture another merperson,” Slade threatened, and although there was no truth to his words – they didn’t have the time to catch another merperson – the merman seemed to take the threat seriously. He turned back around, watching Slade and the knife warily.

 

Slade studied him for a moment. “I can put this knife down, and we can talk. No pain, nothing that can hurt you, just exchanging pleasant words.”

 

The merman narrowed his cat-like eyes, obviously thinking it over. Then he pursed his lips and crossed his arms, giving Slade a challenging glare.

 

Slade decided to take another approach. “You do know that you’re never going to see the ocean again, right?”

 

The merman didn’t outwardly react, but the fins located on his elbows and head raised up like hackles. “That beautiful deep blue sea,” Slade continued. “Untouched by humans – and now untouched by you. You can’t go back. Your family abandoned you.”

 

The merman’s head whipped around, his canine-like teeth were gritted as he glared at the older pirate. Slade smirked at the reaction. “That’s right, don’t you think it’s strange that they haven’t come after you?”

 

A glare greeted him, but it was a glare covering up hurt and fear – fear of abandonment. Interesting… the merman had abandonment issues. How humorous.

 

“If they really cared, they would have done everything in their power to save you.”

 

He appeared to be trying to keep himself calm, but Slade was a master of seeing through disguises. The merman was becoming distressed. “You lost the ocean, and you lost your family… a pity. Now all you have is me.”

 

Slade sighed when the merman didn’t react, and picked up the knife. “Very well, you leave me with no choice,” he said, glancing over at the merman whose eyes had widened considerably. “One last chance. Speak.”

 

The merman looked frightened, but he didn’t say a word. He was stubborn, Slade liked stubborn, it made things interesting… but… his brother was running out of time. Slade might not have liked his brother very much, but he had to give a dying man his final wish.

 


 

 

“Slade! Hey – Slade! Wait for me!”

 

Slade groaned and turned to his five year old brother. “What do you want now, brat?”

 

“Papa says that you have to let me play with you.”

 

“I don’t care what papa says,” Slade scowled. “You’re too young to play with me and my friends. Not to mention he’s not even your real father.”

 

Wade looked hurt, and a part of Slade felt guilty, but the older teenager – a young man now - pushed it aside. “We don’t want to play with a little kid. Go do something else. Can’t you make your own friends?”

 

Wade looked at the ground, clenching his small fists, before snapping his head back up to glare at his older brother. “Fine, I will make my own friends! Better friends! You’ll see!”

 

Slade just gave his brother an amused smirk. “Who wants to be friends with the kid that killed their own mother?”

 

Wade’s face lost all color, and the brave face he’d had on before completely disappeared. “I… It’s not like I meant to…”

 

“Of course you didn’t. You never mean to do anything bad. That doesn’t change the fact that you did it!”

 

“It’s not my fault though, she died giving birth to me…! Can you blame me for something beyond my control?”

 

“Yes, I can! And I will!” Slade knew that it hadn’t been his brother’s fault of course, but a part of him as always going to be bitter. If his little brother had only done that, Slade may not have hated him so much, but Wade spoke poorly about their mother all of the time. Plus, he was an illegitimate son. Wade was lucky that his father had agreed to take Wade in, Slade didn’t really care for the person that killed his mother.

 

“She was just a common whore! It’s not like it’s some great loss -!”

 

SMACK.

 

Slade hadn’t even been aware that he’d hit the boy until he saw his brother on the ground, a hand cupping his cheek. “She might have sold herself, but she did it for our sake, to keep us fed and clothed. She was kind, and didn’t deserve to die. She especially didn’t deserve some brat bad-mouthing her.”

 

Wade didn’t look his older brother in the eye, instead he focused on trying not to cry. He’d made his half-brother angry again. He couldn’t help it though, Slade had never seemed to like him anyway so Wade took it upon himself to do things bad so that Slade at least had an excuse to treat him poorly. “… I’ll go tell Papa that I couldn’t find you…”

 

“He’s not your real father,” Slade snapped, glaring at the boy until he’d fled in the opposite direction back to their house. Good riddance.

 


 

 

“You stupid brat, can’t you tell everyone hates you?”


Wade flinched as one of Slade’s friends practically spat in his face. Wade had just wanted to talk… and hang out… Slade always seemed to have fun with them, so why couldn’t he? The only other kids in the village his age never wanted to talk to him…

 

Slade’s friend grabbed him by the shirt and shook him hard. “Answer me you little parasite!”

 

“I – I –“

 

“Ugh, I don’t know how Slade puts up with you, you’re a burden to all of us. Just go and die.” Wade was thrown onto the hard floor, and immediately curled in on himself as a kick landed to his stomach.

 

“What the hell are you doing!?”

 

Wade stared up in surprise when Slade appeared out of nowhere, shoving his friend away from Wade.

 

His friend appeared a bit alarmed, but then scowled. “He’s just a stupid brat, he deserves to be beaten up –“

 

Nothing more came out of the boy’s mouth, except perhaps a tooth, because Slade punched him hard enough to knock his friend to the floor.

 

Wade stared in complete shock; his mouth may or may not have been hanging open.

 

“Don’t even think about touching him – or going near him – again! Got it?” Slade could sure be scary when he wanted to, especially using that tone of voice. His friend looked terrified. “I – yeah… sorry I just thought you wouldn’t care –“

 

“Well you thought wrong. Get the hell out of my house before I literally kick you out.”

 

His friend quickly scampered out of the door, and Slade turned to the mess that his little brother was. He held out a hand to help Wade up, giving Wade a small glare as the boy kept staring at him. “What?” he snapped.

 

“You… you stood up for me…”

 

“… Yeah well you are my brother. Even if you’re a pain in the ass,” Slade said, running a hand through his blonde hair and looking a bit embarrassed. Wade beamed at him and hugged him around the middle, further embarrassing the young adult.

 

“Don’t make a big deal out of it,” said Slade, prying the boy off of him. “I’ve got to go…” he quickly left, but Wade still felt uncharacteristically happy.

 


 

 

Growing up, Wade would often get sick. It would leave the medics confused, because both Slade and their father were very sturdy men who rarely fell ill. Nobody knew that he and Slade didn’t share the same father, the news would be even more scandalous than Wade killing his mom. Wade was another case however; he’d catch colds every month like it was on his schedule. He’d barely escaped death at one point in time, after he had drank some tainted water because of a dare the other village kids had come up with.

 

One of the doctors offered the theory that because Wade had been born prematurely, his immune system hadn’t fully developed and therefore he was more susceptible to getting sick, and it also explained why he was smaller than Slade and their father had been at his age.

 

Once he reached his prime, Wade rarely got sick and his build became more like half-brother’s did. Although he was leaner then Slade, he had well developed muscles. Mostly from helping their father load and unload boxes on the large ships that their father worked on. They were never told what was in the boxes, but whatever had been in them was usually heavy, and sometimes gave off a pungent odor.

 

It was Slade who had first looked inside one of the boxes. Wade eagerly looked in with him, and they were both captivated by the chest filled with jewels and gold coins. Now enthusiastic to see if there was more loot, Slade opened one of the other crates, the one that had a foul smell coming from it. He immediately slammed the lid back over it, not allowing Wade to see what was in it.

 

“What is it brother?” Wade asked, curiosity lacing his tone. “Is it more treasure?”

 

Slade stared at him. “… No it isn’t.”

 

Wade tilted his head, “Is it dead fish or something? It smells like an animal that’s been dead.”

 

His older brother sighed, “You’re old enough to see death I suppose.” He pulled back the lid, and his brother peered inside. The younger man immediately cringed away, holding a hand to his mouth, feeling bile rise in his throat.

 

Slade seemed alarmingly calm. “They were sick, so they were killed.”

 

Wade closed his eyes, but all that did was make the images of the dead bodies – chopped up – stick out more in his mind. Slade was right, with the tint of their skin and their bloodshot eyes, they were most definitely carrying some sort of illness.

 

Slade studied his younger brother. “Wade, this is what had to be done.”

 

Wade nodded, opening his eyes and allowing his hand to fall. “You’re right. Shouldn’t we enclose them? So the sickness doesn’t spread?”

 

“The sickness died with them,” said Slade, although he put the lid back on.

 

“Do you think I’ll ever get sick like that?” Wade asked, his voice low.

 

The older male shrugged, “If you were a child, or even a teenager, I would have said yes. But you seem to have become stronger, I doubt that you’ll become sick like this.”

 

Neither of them had any idea how wrong Slade was.

 


 

 

“So, this is it… you’re leaving.” Wade’s voice was emotionless. He wasn’t quite sure how to feel about his older half-brother’s departure.

 

“Yes, I am,” Slade replied, seemingly proud of himself. “Soon enough I’ll become Captain I’m sure!”

 

“On a pirate ship,” Wade deadpanned, and Slade glared at him. “Don’t say that out loud, Papa would never let me go if he knew that.”

 

“Of course he wouldn’t, he thinks you’re bringing honor to our name by becoming a sailor.”

 

Slade snorted, “There’s no honor in the Wilson family name. You know this, I know this. There never will be,” he declared, and Wade let out a long sigh. “I know, but… Papa always said being a pirate was bad.”

 

“Wade, you’re twenty one. Grow up.” Slade shot him a scowl, and Wade ran a hand through his brown hair. “I suppose you’re right.”

 

“Of course I am. Listen, neither of us will be able to get honor… but the Wilson name will become feared, which is even better.”

 

“How is it better?” Wade asked curiously.

 

“It’s better because everyone will know not to mess with us, we’ll have respect as well. Honorable men are respected, it’s true, but they’re also taken advantage of. Feared men will always have obedience, nobody will cross a feared man. And that is what the Wilsons will be. Feared.”

 

“I… never thought of it that way before,” Wade said, thinking it through. “I always thought that we could bring honor to the family name, but… our name being feared is better. Nobody would ever cross me again if they feared me!” Wade said, almost a little too loudly. “I could say anything or do anything and they would have to listen to me!”

 

“Exactly,” Slade seemed pleased by his brother’s sudden enthusiasm. “Pirates are feared. Imagine the Captain being a Wilson.”

 

Wade nodded solemnly, “I wish you luck brother. Be the best pirate you can, become Captain, and give our name meaning again.”

 

Slade ruffled his hair but didn’t say a word as he left the house. That would be the last that Wade saw of his brother for many years.

 


 

 

Two years after Slade left to become a pirate, Wade left to bartend. Not because he wanted to, he’d rather be drinking the shit he had to pour out for customers, but because he wanted to hear about his brother. There had been no word from Slade, no letters, nothing.

 

And one night, the night that Wade was about ready to fling himself from the window, Wade heard it.

 

Wilson.

 

“I ‘eard Wilson is the Captain of The Flyin’ Dragon,” said one of the men in a carrying voice to the men that were at the table with him.

 

“Already? I don’t believe you,” exclaimed a dark haired man, and the first one snorted. “You never believe anythin’ Todd.”

 

“Don’t mess with me Smith,” said Todd, and Smith rolled his eyes. “Whatever. It’s the truth. I ‘eard it from a buddy o’ mine.”

 

A blonde haired male leaned forward. “I heard that he’s ruthless.”

 

“He is that,” said Todd, albeit grudgingly. “If what William here said is true, he could easily become one of the most famous Captain’s of the seven seas.”

 

“Yeah, guessin’ he’d be famous for his savagery though,” said… William… Smith?

 

“I heard someone took his eye,” said the blonde, and Wade tensed. “And he’s after them now. I feel bad for the bloke when Wilson finds him.”

 

Todd snorted, “I don’t feel bad at all. He’s got what’s coming to him. That’s what you get for shooting someone’s eye out I guess.”

 

What? Someone shot Slade’s eye out? He felt anger boiling in his stomach. He and his half-brother might not have been the best of friends, but it was still his blood that had gotten hurt – almost killed.

 

“Who shot him?” he hadn’t meant to ask out loud, but the three males turned to look at him in surprise.

 

Todd laughed, “Why?”

 

“You’re talking about Slade Wilson right?”

 

“Yeah, so?”

 

“My name is Wade Wilson. I’m his younger brother.”

 

“I don’t believe you,” Todd said immediately, but Smith hushed him. “I ‘eard about you kid, what’re you doin’ workin’ at a bar?”

 

“It doesn’t matter. Who shot him?”

 

“Nobody knows,” said the blonde haired male with a shrug. “Although I heard a theory that it was some guy named Edmund Condent. The original Captain of The Flying Dragon.”

 

“Why would the original Captain try killing the new one? Wasn’t Wilson his second-in-command?” Todd frowned.

 

“I ‘eard that Wilson took it by force.”

 

“Knowing my brother, he most likely did. Thank you for the information,” Wade said, his voice emotionless as he left the bar. He heard the owner yelling at him to get back inside or he’d lose his job, but Wade had already made up his mind. Slade left to bring fear? Wade was going to leave to get revenge.


 

 

More years passed. Wade had joined a ship of pirates, although he had the feeling that they took him in because of his last name rather than any real respect. But he didn’t need real respect. He just needed to use the fear that Slade so graciously and unknowingly gave him in order to rise in ranks.

 

Like Slade, Wade eventually became second-in-command. Unlike Slade, Wade had gained the title of Captain traditionally. The original Captain had perished at the hands of the military, leaving Wade in charge.

 

It didn’t take long for the pirate ship to start harboring slaves. Wade’s connection to Todd paid off, as he received more and more slaves. Todd had even offered him his own son in exchange for more money.

 

During his years as Captain, Wade had made his own name for himself when it came to slaves. He knew exactly what Todd was trying to achieve, so he ordered his men to kill Todd and take his son.

 

He didn’t regret what he’d done – and the son was an asset, being physically stronger than the others and having a stronger will. It would break of course, every slave’s did, but it was amusing to see the boy struggle to keep himself from exploding. Not to mention the numerous escape attempts that had almost cost the young Todd his life.

 

“Captain!” a voice called, and Wade turned to his second-in-command, who looked solemn. “We have a lead on Condent.”

 

“Excellent work Davis,” said Wade, “How reliable is the source?”

 

“Very reliable sir,” said Davis, seeming to bask in the praise. “It’s time to get your revenge.”

 


 

 

Wade had tracked down Condent, but he hadn’t expected Slade to be doing the same thing. Needless to say, his older half-brother wasn’t very happy upon discovering Condent’s lifeless body.

 

“Why the hell did you do that!?”

 

His half-brother looked… more like a pirate then Wade could have imagined. His blonde hair had faded to almost white - a product of stress he supposed - he seemed to have built even more muscle mass, and the new eyepatch just completed the look.

 

“He shot you, so I shot him,” said Wade carelessly.

 

“It was supposed to be my revenge!” Slade growled. “I never asked you to get involved.”

 

“No. You didn’t. I haven’t heard from you in years,” said Wade, narrowing his eyes at Slade. “So you can’t decide what I do and who I do it for.”

 

“You’re such an infuriating bastard child,” Slade snarled, and Wade’s façade crumbled as anger overtook his expression. “I thought we moved on from this.”

 

“We’ll never move on from it! You’re just lucky that nobody knows you aren’t a true Wilson!”

 

“I am!” Wade yelled back, “I was raised as a Wilson! I don’t know nor care who my blood father is, my real father is the one who raised me. And you and I are blood related as well if blood matters so much to you!”

 

Slade scowled, “I don’t consider you to be my brother then, how’s that for blood?”

 

Before Wade could say anything, Slade disappeared back to his own ship. A part of Wade thought that Slade only said that out of anger, but with all of the disdain that Slade had shown his younger brother his entire life, he wondered if that could be true. If Slade really didn’t consider him to be his brother.

 

Well, if Slade thought that, fine… Wade lived without his brother for years now, he could live without his brother for the rest of his life.

 


 

 

Wade stared at the blood. It was dark, not red like he’d been expecting, mixed in with murky bile.

 

Wade was many things, but an idiot wasn’t one of them. He knew that puking blood was a bad sign, especially this much blood. It had started with a cough, something that Wade had passed off as a cold. Colds were annoying, sure, but it wasn’t anything life threatening, so he put it to the side. The coughing just got worse and worse though, and it was hard to hide it from his crew mates – he couldn’t let them see their strong Captain being taken over by sickness.

 

When he was alone, after holding in his shallow breaths, he’d have long coughing fits. One time he’d even passed out from it. Davis had found him and Wade had made him swear not to tell the others.

 

Puking blood had come afterwards. It started out with little droplets, and he figured it was just something in the air, or a product of him holding back those coughing fits in front of the crew. But it got worse and worse until he could feel himself getting dizzy from blood loss.

 

Davis was the only one who knew about this, and it was he who urged him to see a doctor in secret when they’d gone on land. It wasn’t just a simple cough, as Wade had been expecting, it was what the doctor called bronchitis. There was no cure for it, so basically Wade was a dead man walking.

 

It was at this time Wade returned home to see his father. Only to find out that his father had perished, killed by cancer. Wade felt a regret like no other. He hadn’t reached out to his father since the time he’d left the bar. If he’d only known… he could have been here for his father to see him to his final moments.

 

Wade had stayed a few days, grieving for his father away from prying eyes, and he gave one last goodbye to his father’s gravestone with a simple: “I’ll see you in the flesh soon enough, Papa.”

 

Wade knew he had to contact his half-brother, both about their father’s death and Wade’s own impending doom.

 

Davis had stepped down willingly when Wade told him that if Slade accepted, he would make him second-in-command, with the promise that once Wade perished Slade would make Davis his second-in-command again. Wade told Davis a lot about Slade’s personality, so that the man would know the proper way to deal with him once Wade was gone.

 

It took a few months to track his brother down, and arranged a meeting with a reluctant Slade. Still, he came, and that was enough to give Wade some hope.

 

“Papa is dead,” were the first words out of his mouth. Slade’s eye widened for a moment, before his brows furrowed and his mouth set in a heavy frown. “How?”

 

“Cancer ate at him for two years, according to the villagers,” Wade replied, his voice emotionless. Slade was silent, so Wade carried on. “I’m dying.”

 

Slade’s eye widened again. “What?”

 

“You heard me.”

 

Slade’s jaw clenched, “What happened?”

 

“I have bronchitis, it’s incurable, I don’t have long now…” Wade trailed off, looking at Slade’s face. His half-brother didn’t look very pleased with the news, which was good. At least he didn’t totally hate Wade. “I wanted to ask you to be my second-in-command.”

 

Slade seemed surprised. “… I already have a ship and crew. I’m already Captain.”

 

“Brother, please… give a dying man his wish,” Wade tried not to beg, but he needed his brother. Slade stared Wade dead in the eyes, and a look of torn despair was enough to drive a wedge through Wade’s heart. He’d never seen his brother look at him like that before. “You have a good second-in-command, he’ll make a fine Captain until… if you return…” Wade murmured, and Slade ran a hand through his hair. “…Give me a day to think it through.”

 

Wade nodded, “We’ll meet here again by morrow.”

 

Slade didn’t say another word as he got up and left, his figure disappearing into the darkness. Wade watched until he couldn’t see his brother anymore, hoping that the older male would accept.

 

That night, Slade discussed the situation with his second-in-command. The male seemed eager enough to take on the role as Captain, but not so eager as to give Slade any doubts that he’d return Slade the title of Captain if the white-haired male ever returned. In the morning, his second-in-command approached him, his face very serious.

 

“I’ve heard tales that… merpeople are able to heal sickness and wounds.”

 

Slade rose an eyebrow, “Is that so?”

 

“Yes,” his second-in-command nodded. “If you could catch one, it might be able to heal your half-brother.”

 

Slade stared into the distance thoughtfully. “I see… thank you for the information.”

 

The brothers met again, and Slade accepted his offer, informing his brother about what his second-in-command had told him.

 

There was still hope after all.

Chapter Text

Jason had been antsy since he’d seen Slade disappear down to the lower deck where Dick was, and to say it was annoying would be an understatement. Why did he care so much what happened to that stupid talking fish? Hell, the first thing Dick had done was bite his hand. Even as the thought crossed his mind the mark on his hand started to throb slightly. He should honestly hate him, and not give any shits about him.

 

But…

 

He couldn’t help but to feel like this was somehow his fault. Well, it was technically since he’s the one that pointed the merman out, but even that lingering guilt wasn’t what was causing his sudden weakness for the merman.

 

Those strange emotions that he had around Dick, it was so new and… he wasn’t sure if he hated it or not. He’d only talked to the merman a couple of times, so what was with the sudden attachment? He didn’t like it. Attachment made you weak, and there was no room for weakness in a place like this.

 

Still, as time passed Jason couldn’t help but to feel like something was very wrong with Dick. He wasn’t an idiot, he knew that Slade was probably torturing the merman, even though he wasn’t quite sure why. He knew the pirate was sadistic but what reason could he possibly have to torture the merman? Did Dick have secrets? Did they know he could talk? Jason didn’t think that they’d go too far in physically hurting the merman though – after all, they were planning on selling him eventually and most people wouldn’t want damaged ‘property’.

 

But still, it had been about an hour, what could they possibly be doing down there? His mind was jumping to different scenarios, none of them good. Ugh, come on Todd, stop thinking about that stupid fish.

 

It was easier said than done, he felt… scared and… well, it was almost like when he woke up from that nightmare with the shark. He normally wouldn’t have been afraid, but Dick had been scared, so maybe he was feeling Dick’s fear? At the thought, his blood boiled. Dick shouldn’t have even been on the ship, and now he had another reason to fear humans, because of that asshole Slade Wilson.

 

Another twenty minutes passed and Jason had to physically restrain himself from storming to the lower deck to see what was going on. He had a horrible feeling that Dick was hurt. He wasn’t sure why he thought that but there was a part of him that just knew.

 

Finally, finally, Slade came up the stairs, a bag slung over his back. He didn’t look very satisfied, and Jason wasn’t sure whether that was a good or a bad thing. Luckily, he didn’t see any blood on the man’s clothes, so that was always a plus right? Dick couldn’t be hurt too badly.

 

“You,” Slade pointed at Victor, “and you,” he turned to Roy. “Clean out the merman’s cage and change his water.”

 

They immediately nodded and went to fetch buckets, filling it with seawater. Jason was curious and almost asked if he could help them, just so that he could see Dick again, but he refrained himself. He didn’t want anyone to get suspicious, especially since Jason appeared to hate the merman in the eyes of the crew. He didn’t want to jeopardize that weird relationship he and Dick had.

 

Roy appeared to be struggling with his bucket, weak as he was, so Victor helped him out. Their chains made it difficult for them to move too much as well. Jason watched as they disappeared to the lower deck, aching to go down with them but knowing that he couldn’t.

 

Jason turned back to his work of scrubbing the wooden floor boards, his hands working steadily to get filth and grime away. This was one of the easier jobs that the slaves were told to do. He stopped when Roy and Victor appeared, both looking a bit grim. Jason immediately abandoned his post and stepped over to Roy, “Why did you have to change his water?”

 

“There was some blood in it, floating around, kind of gross,” Roy scrunched his face. “It didn’t help that the merman was glaring at us the entire time we tried changing his water.”

 

At his words Jason grit his teeth, so the bastard had hurt Dick enough for him to bleed? He knew that bad feeling wasn’t for nothing now; he had to go check and make sure that Dick was okay. He was at the top step of the stairs when a heavy hand fell onto his shoulder. He was turned around, almost slipping off of the step, and gulped at the sight of the Captain staring at him with cold eyes.

 

“And what do you think you’re doing, slave?”

 

“I… I was going to… just…”

 

“You wanted to see the merman? Make sure he was okay perhaps? Go against my orders?”

 

“N-No I just –“

 

“Zsasz!” Wade used his grip on Jason’s shoulder to push him onto the deck, causing the weak man to fall down hard onto the floorboards. Zsasz appeared in his line of sight, an ugly smile on his face. “Yes Captain?”

 

“He appears to need to learn his place. Let’s give him fifteen lashes,” Wade ordered, and Jason’s eyes widened. Everyone knew Zsasz as the slaver who whipped hard enough to tear skin, the most ruthless one, and he disliked Jason to begin with. Jason wasn’t sure if he could handle fifteen lashes from the man. He heard a gasp from the crowd of other slaves who had stopped to watch, and saw a couple of them giving him pitying looks. Roy looked especially upset, but he didn’t say anything, not that Jason could blame him. If their places had been switched, Jason would have just turned away and pretended that Roy wasn’t being hurt.

 

Zsasz’s grin got even wider as he stared down at Jason, a gleam of satisfaction in his eye. “With pleasure sir.”

 

Jason tried not to shake as he was lifted to his feet by some of the other slaves, they all knew the drill by now. They tied his hands to a net, pushing him onto his knees. His shirt was torn from his body, and he shivered slightly. He wasn’t sure if it was because of the cold or if he was just scared of the whipping.

 

Half of him wanted to look behind him, to see what was happening and when the first lash would come, but the other part was telling him that all it would do was make him scared and weak, and he was neither of those things. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes, and tried not to tense when he heard the unmistakable sound of a whip flying through the air. The first strike had him gasp in pain; it wasn’t unbearable - not yet at least. The second and third formed an X over his back. His muscles clenched without his permission and he tried to relax his body, to make it easier, because he knew first hand that if he tensed the marks would only hurt more later.

 

The fourth lash had him cry out, and he felt liquid on his back, which he was assuming to be blood. He snapped his jaw shut, to keep himself from crying out again, but by the time the seventh lash hit his bleeding back he couldn’t hold back a yell of pain. He hated this, he hated this feeling of weakness, he hated the fact that everyone was watching as he slowly broke down, he hated the way the lashes burned and bled on his back. He hated the pitying looks and the satisfied looks. Only eight more, his brain supplied, but Jason was already starting to feel a bit woozy.

 

If he’d been at full strength – well, he wouldn’t be in this position in the first place – but that’s beside the point; if he’d been at full strength Jason would have been able to take the whipping a lot easier. With fat on his back, and a healthy body, he might have been able to hold his own. But malnourishment and lack of body fat wasn’t helping his situation in the slightest. He just hoped that by the time the fifteenth lash came he wouldn’t have bled out. Eigth lash. Cry out. Ninth lash. A groan of agony. Tenth lash. How long was this going to last? Eleventh lash. There’s so much blood pouring on the floor… Twelfth lash. He couldn’t cry out even if he wanted to… thirteenth lash. His vision was becoming foggy. Fourteenth lash. How much blood had he lost? Fifteenth lash.

 

It was over.

 

The rope was cut and Jason collapsed to the floor, lying in a puddle of his own blood. He could feel it on his stomach, chest, cheek, and some trickling from his back still. He heard laughter, and he heard worried voices, but he couldn’t really focus on any of them. Through hazy eyes he saw Roy leaning over him, saying something like “It’s going to be alright, we’re going to help” and he thought he heard Captain Wade’s voice as well, but at that point his eyes were starting to droop, and everything went black as he faded into a blissful unconsciousness, away from the pain and humiliation.

 


 

 

At first Dick thought that he was sensing his own pain, but this was different. Nothing on his body hurt anymore, and even if it had been phantom pain it still would have originated from his body…

 

… But there was pain. Not enough to hurt him, but enough for him to sense. What could it be though?

 

Jason, he suddenly thought, swimming up from his position on the floor to float and try to look up the stairs. Not that it was possible, he was on the other side of the room, but still… he knew that Jason was hurt. Why though? How? Did it have something to do with Dick? Did it have something to do with… Slade?

 

At the thought of the man Dick’s lip curled into a snarl. If he found out that Slade had hurt Jason then… then… well he didn’t know what he’d do, but he wouldn’t let it stand. Dick could take Slade hurting him, but he didn’t want him to hurt Jason as well. Then again, Dick didn’t want anyone to hurt Jason, and he knew that something had to have happened to the human.

 

Then he heard the screams start. He instantly recognized it as Jason’s voice, and he swam around in the glass cage in distress. There was nothing he could do – absolutely nothing, and he hated it. His hands gripped his hair in agitation, trying to think of some way, any way, to get to Jason but there was nothing. Even if Dick managed to break out of the cage, he couldn’t get up those… stairs with his tail.

 

He let out a helpless cry of frustration, he felt so useless. He wanted so badly to comfort Jason and stop those bad humans from hurting him, but there wasn’t anything he could do. Jason’s yelling had stopped, although Dick wasn’t sure whether that was a good or bad thing. It was too abrupt for it to be normal. He played with his hands in lack of anything else to do, thinking of what could have happened to Jason and what did those filthy humans do?

 

The pain seemed to have stopped. Perhaps that meant that Jason was unconscious? Dick hoped so, because the only other logical reason would be that he was dead, and that was the last thing Dick wanted. He sighed, resting his forehead against the cool glass. Please be okay, Jason.

 


 

 

When Jason woke up, the sight that greeted him was a freckled face way too close for comfort. “Roy, what the fuck?” Jason got out groggily, pushing the male away. Instead of looking offended, Roy looked relieved. “Jason! You’re okay!”

 

“Of course I’m okay you moron, why wouldn’t I be – ah fuck!”

 

Pain exploded in his back when he sat up swiftly, and Roy steadied him so that he wouldn’t fall. “Shit shit shit,” he got out, gripping onto Roy’s arm tightly to try and relax his muscles. “Dammit that hurts…” the memories all came flooding back and he winced as though he’d been hit by a train. “Fucking Zsasz.”

 

Roy watched him with sympathy. “I’m surprised you lasted through the whole thing, he flayed half of your skin off,” said Roy with a grimace. “It sucked patching you up, especially since we barely have any supplies… we had to make do with a shirt… we made sure it was a clean one though!”

 

Jason mentally grimaced, that’s… not surprising, but also not good. His wounds were probably going to get infected, despite Roy and the other slaves’ best efforts; and infection on this ship was basically a death sentence. Great, just great, this was all fucking Zsasz’s fault. Well, it was Wade’s fault too, and Dick’s for making Jason want to check on him in the first place. He ignored the part of himself that whispered it was his fault to begin with, because fuck that he was the victim in this cruel joke of a world.

 

He gave Roy a fake smile, “Thanks…”

 

Roy seemed very relieved, he was probably expecting Jason to explode on him or something. “It was nothing. We have to look out for our own right?”

 

“Yeah, that we do,” Jason said, because it was the truth. Nobody cared for slaves, they had to take care of each other, or take care of themselves. Those were the only options if you lived life as a slave. “Anyway, what time is it?”

 

“About midnight, we were starting to get worried you wouldn’t wake up so they sent me in here to check on you.”

 

“Great, I’m going to go check on Di- the merman,” said Jason, getting up from bed and immediately feeling faint. Roy’s eyes widened and he grabbed Jason’s arm to make sure he wouldn’t fall. “Are you kidding, you’re still on that? I thought you didn’t like him.”

 

“It’s… a long story, just… I need to see him,” Jason said firmly, and Roy frowned at him. “I’m not sure if that’s a good ide-“

“Roy, come on man, how long have you known me now?”

 

“Too long to put up with your bullshit,” said Roy in a joking manner, although there was some concern in his eyes. “You really wanna see him that bad?”

 

Jason scoffed, “You make it sound like I’m excited over it. I just want to fucking get there and get it over with.”

 

“It?”

 

“…Yeah it, see ya, thanks for helping patch me up,” said Jason, stepping out of the barracks and looking around to make sure that no pirates were there before heading to the lower deck, wincing every time there was a creek on the wooden stairs.

 

The merman had been dozing off, but once Jason reached the bottom of the stairs he stirred, giving Jason a sleepy look which immediately brightened. It was almost amazing how the merman could look dead to the world one second, and the next second look as though he’d been awake all night.

 

“Jason! Are you hurt?” Dick asked frantically, hands up against the glass. Jason blinked a bit slowly, “Huh? What makes you think that?”

 

Dick suddenly looked a bit unsure. “I… I just… I don’t know, felt like you were hurt? I can’t explain it,” said the merman in a hesitant voice. Jason studied him for a moment, “I felt the same with you, then I heard that that… asshole hurt you.”

 

Dick watched him curiously. “What do you think it means?”

 

“I don’t know. Coincidence? I’m not into that whole ‘we were meant to be’ shit, sorry.”

 

Dick shot him a scowl, and Jason almost chuckled. That was more like it. “I never said that! I’m just curious,” he moved against the glass, and Jason realized he was trying to get closer to the human, whether he was aware of it or not. Jason stepped forward until he was close to the glass, studying the merman’s pale and unblemished skin. “You’re not hurt?” he asked in confusion.

 

Dick seemed surprised for a moment before understanding dawned on his face. “Oh, no we um… merpeople heal. For the most part,” he added, and Jason was sure there was some trauma there that he honestly didn’t give a shit about. He was still wrapping his head over the ‘merpeople heal’ part.

 

“So… what did he do?”

 

Dick suddenly seemed very interested in his hands. “He was… telling me that I wouldn’t see the ocean or my family again,” he started, and Jason could tell that this was probably still bugging the merman. Jason couldn’t say he was surprised; Slade definitely seemed like the manipulative type that would use psychological torture.

 

“When I didn’t respond to any of that he used those…knives,” he grimaced, “he stopped after a while, I think he was… enthralled that I could heal,” Dick sighed, “and he took a scale too.” He seemed more sulky then anything about that last bit, like Slade had taken away his favorite toy rather than a part of him. “Will it grow back?”

 

“It already has, but still… the tail is what sets us apart from those stupid humans,” said Dick irritably, and Jason knew he should probably be offended on behalf of the humans, but he found himself agreeing with the merman. “They can be pretty terrible.”

 

“What about you?” asked Dick, “What did they do to you?”

 

As if in answer, the wounds on his back started to throb again. “They caught me trying to sneak down here, so they whipped me.”

 

Dick’s face scrunched up into a slightly adorable pout, not that Jason would ever in a million years admit that out loud. “Turn around, let me see.”

 

Jason hesitated for a moment, “Eh, it’s not exactly pretty.”

 

“Just do it,” Dick snapped, and Jason turned, taking his shirt off and hissing as the caked on blood tore at his wounds. Dick swam to the top of his cage and placed his hands on Jason’s back. Jason immediately flinched away from the contact, “What are you doing--?”

 

“Shh, just relax,” said Dick soothingly, and Jason found his body reacting to the words before his mind could fully comprehend them. His entire body practically melted into Dick’s hands, which were rubbing all along Jason’s whip marks. The water seemed to cool off all of the burning and itching from his back, and soon enough Jason felt like he hadn’t even been whipped in the first place.

 

“There,” Dick mumbled, his voice sounding weak. “Healed. Mostly…”

 

Jason whipped around, reaching a hand behind his back but there was nothing there. Slightly raised welts but the wounds were gone… “What did you do?” he asked, watching as Dick slid back into the water, appearing to be slightly drained. “Ah I… used some of my healing power on you… it’s a bit more difficult healing someone else then it is… healing myself…”

 

“Are you okay?” asked Jason. He was relieved that he wouldn’t die from infection, but Dick looked… well, bad. His skin was paler then Jason had ever seen it, and his eyes were a bit foggy.

 

“Mm fine… just give me a fewminutes…”

 

Jason gave him a few minutes. And another few minutes after that. Dick seemed to be slowly regaining his strength, and was soon enough smiling up at Jason. “I’m glad that I was able to help you, Jason…”

 

“I hope I’ll be able to do the same to you,” was the human’s reply.

 

 

Chapter Text

A week ago…

 

The water was a deep, deep blue. It was the type of blue that humans could only imagine, since they were unable to travel beneath the water, they had no idea the actual beauty that the ocean could hold. It was undisturbed, barely any waves and currents, and there was not a single creature in sight; just the vast blue ocean with sunlight streaming down through the water.

 

This peace was broken as a figure dashed through the water, traveling so quickly that many would question if it had been there to begin with, the only evidence of the creature not being a figment of the imagination was the bubble trail it left behind.

 

This blur of a creature was none other than the merman that had been accompanying Dick when the pirates had snatched him. Tim’s heart was beating furiously in his chest, pounding against his ribcage from the speed and strain he was putting on his body, but he couldn’t allow that to deter him. He needed to tell the others what happened; surely King Ea and Queen Atargatis would be able to help.

 

The Gathering would be starting soon, and as much as Tim didn’t like being in the spotlight, his older self-proclaimed brother was more important to him than any anxiety could ever be.

 

“Help, help!” Tim shouted in his native tongue as soon as he reached the palace, pushing past merfolks without a care. “I need to speak to the King and Queen, immediately! Tim begged as a guard suddenly grabbed him by the shoulder, stopping the young merman from swimming farther.

 

“So do a lot of merpeople, what makes this more important than the problems of others?” Dolled out the merguard in a bored tone. It was obvious that he had been dealing with the petty problems of a merfolk’s life all day.

 

“One of our own has been captured by humans!”

 

The guard and merpeople in the general vicinity all froze and stared at Tim for a moment, before the guard snapped out of it. “I’ll take you to them, although I’m not sure what you’re expecting.”

 

“He’s semi-royalty,” Tim grated out. It was true that most merpeople didn’t have search parties after they’d been taken by humans but... Dick being semi-royalty had to have some sort of persuasion right?

 

The guard sighed, “Stay here, the King and Queen shall be out shortly for the Gathering.”

 

“We don’t have time!” Tim yelled, drawing the attention of a few other royals that had been swimming through the palace. The guard put a warning hand on Tim’s shoulder, and the young merman fell quiet, although he was internally screaming. Causing a scene would not help Dick; he needed to rely on his calm and collected self if he wanted an audience with the King and Queen.

 

After what seemed to be an eternity, the large doors of the palace opened and the King and Queen swam out in front of their audience. Tim, as the rest of the merfolk, were struck with Queen Atargatis’s beauty but Tim was the quickest to snap himself out of it. He swam in front of the royals, ignoring gasps from the crowd, and bowed his head. “I’m sorry for the interruption, but one of our own has been kidnapped by humans!”

 

There was silence and Tim dared to peek his head up, almost scared. He was very surprised to see Queen Atargatis’s face close to his, and he felt himself blushing. She tilted up his chin so he was looking right into her golden eyes, the blue hue of her skin and red flaming hair just made her so ethereal.

 

“You are Timothy Drake,” her soft voice cooed, and Tim nodded a bit shyly. “Who is missing?”

 

“M-My brother. Di-Richard Grayson,” Tim stuttered out, still thrown from her closeness. The Queen studied him for a moment before backing away, giving him space to breathe. Queen Atargatis turned to her husband and they seemed to share unspoken words before King Ea looked back at Tim. “When did this happen?”

 

The King was just as intimidating as his mate; although Atargatis used her beauty to stun the King used his powerful stance as a challenge. Tim swallowed, trying to calm himself – because he was sure that he was visibly shaking in the presence of the King and Queen – before replying. “I can’t say an exact time, perhaps an hour ago?”

 

“Where?” His voice was… scary, especially in their native tongue. Was it because he was the King and more entitled then Tim? Perhaps, but something about the two royals had always frightened Tim. Perhaps because they reminded him of his parents, although the King and Queen – despite how harsh they appeared – were kinder and more fair then his parents had ever been.

 

“B-By the drop, on the outskirts of our kingdom.”

 

Again the King and Queen shared a look before Atargatis turned to Tim again. “I’m sorry Timothy, but we cannot help your brother.”

 

Tim’s eyes widened, and for a moment he forgot whom he was talking to. “What? But… but you’re the King and Queen! Dick is semi royalty!”

 

“Mind your tone,” Ea commanded and Tim shut up, although his frame was trembling with barely suppressed anger.

 

“By now It is far too late for Richard,” Atargatis explained gently. “The humans will have taken him to a place far beyond our reach.”

 

“But… please, I beg you, send a search party. I’ll lead it!”

 

“No,” Ea said, his deep voice rumbling. “There is nothing we can do for him except honor him, which is more than what any other merperson would get.”

 

It was true, most merpeople snatched didn’t get a mention much less an honor from the King and Queen, but it still wasn’t fair in Tim’s mind. He wanted more than an honor of Dick’s memory. He wanted Dick.

 

Maybe… perhaps Bruce could help? Bruce and Talia… maybe…

 

“Thank you for considering,” said Tim in a rather bland voice before swimming off, intent on finding Bruce. Bruce would help; Bruce loved Dick like Dick was his own child, and Tim trusted Bruce over anyone in the entire sea – except Dick perhaps. Yes, he’d find Bruce and they’d discuss –

 

“Hey!” Tim shouted as his arm was grabbed and he was pulled behind the wall of the palace. “Let go of me! I’ll scream!”

 

“Silence, I’m not here to harm you,” it was said in an emotionless tone, but Tim was able to make out the figure that had grabbed him. It appeared to be a male, and good at hiding if even Tim hadn’t noticed the merman. No… no that was wrong. There was something different about this creature – it wasn’t a merman at all. It was a Siren. Tim swallowed down his panic, “Then why did you bring me here?”

 

“I want to help you,” the siren said, letting go of Tim’s arm. “I overheard your conversation with our King and Queen.”

 

Although his voice was flat, Tim couldn’t help but to hear a slight sneer in the Siren’s voice when he mentioned the famed rulers of the ocean.

 

“And how are you going to help?” Questioned Tim, although he had to admit, he was desperate and curious.

 

“There are a few more like me, we lost friends and family to the humans and the King and Queen simply brushed it off. It’s time for us to take a stand. We want to help you find your brother.”

 

Despite the sad story, the Siren looked as blank as ever, and his voice didn’t waver once. Tim decided to take his chances – nobody else was going to help him after all. “Fine. How many are there?”

 

“Four,” answered the Siren smoothly, and Tim thought about it. That was probably around the size of an average search party… “You have yourself a deal. Can I get a name?”

 

“Just call me Raymond,” the Siren – Raymond – said in response.

 

“You can call me Tim,” said Tim after a moment of thinking. “Now, how are we going to rescue my brother?”

 

Years ago…

 

“Why is the death of the Graysons so important to you?” The voice was intimidating, even more so by the fact that the figure was wearing a white mask.

 

Masks were very, very uncommon to see in the ocean, because it was normally only humans who wore masks. However, the merpeople who worked for the Court of Owls always wore white masks. Anthony – better known as Tony – Zucco tried not to look away, but the eyes of the mask made him want to squirm. He supposed this was why the ‘Owls’ wore the mask, so that they could be intimidating.

 

Owls were apparently land-dwelling creatures that preyed on the weak, fitting for an organization such as the Court of Owls. The Owls weren’t the only ones who were part of this organization however. They had the cruelest Sirens that would carry out their dirty work. They were called Talons, which were also land-dwelling creatures that preyed on the weak.

 

One could compare the Court of Owls to the League of Shadows due to them both having assassins, however there were differences. For example, the League of Shadows answered to the King and Queen, while the Court of Owls answered to nobody but themselves; they take it upon themselves to exterminate any merperson or Siren who started to stray morally. The League of Shadows were protectors of a sort. The Court of Owls were the slayers.

 

Once, the merpeople and Sirens of the Court had lived in the underwater city with the others, but after learning about their killings and torturing, the King and Queen had banished them. If they were to return, they would be executed on the spot. Forced to go into hiding, the Court of Owls had seemingly vanished in the dark abyss, but in reality they thrived. They continued assassinating, but now it was more organized than back when they had lived in the city. Some of them did miss living with the other merfolk, but in the end, they were Owls and Talons that dedicated themselves fully to the Court.

 

They distanced themselves from emotion, especially the Talons. Fear, joy, sadness, anger, love - it was all wiped away until there was nothing but revenge and a twisted justice left.

 

Occasionally the Owls would speak with outsiders such as Tony Zucco, who would give them information on the affairs of the rest of the ocean, and in return they would kill for the outsiders.

 

“They owe me a favor, and they haven’t delivered,” Tony said after a moment of hesitation. The Owl seemed too look straight through him before giving a single nod. “I accept your proposal, and the Graysons will be dealt with accordingly. They consist of a merman, mermaid and merboy, am I correct?”

 

“Yes,” said Tony with a relieved nod. “They do.”

 

“This is the last favor that you will get with us, we do not usually condone killing merchildren,” the Owl warned, and Tony hesitated before giving another nod. “I understand.”

 

“Good. Now leave and do not return. The Graysons’ death will be carried out by nightfall.”

 

Tony didn’t waste any time in swimming away. Sirens passing by gave him blank and uncaring looks, the closest to emotion that they showed was slight suspicion and caution, but that would be expected out of any member of the Court of Owls.

 

The Owl called forth a party consisting of himself and three Sirens. Accompanying them was a shark, who was under the control of the Sirens’ spell. Sharks would do anything that the Sirens commanded them to, and the Sirens would do anything that the Owls commanded them to.

 

It wasn’t hard to track down the Graysons. They’d been on the run for a while apparently, having told their son that they just enjoyed traveling. It was always a shame to kill a merchild, but if the outsider wanted it dead then so be it.

 

The Owl and Sirens remained a good distance away once they caught sight of the three merpeople. The merboy was clinging onto the merman’s back, laughing as he gently tugged at the merman’s hair, while the mermaid looked at them with a large smile on her face. The Sirens telepathically sent the shark after the merfamily, aiming for the merboy first since he would be the closest and easiest to kill. The mermaid noticed the shark before it could reach the merboy and let out a shout of warning. The merman reacted instinctively, shoving the merchild off of him and instead taking the brunt of the attack. The merboy let out a scream as he watched the shark tear into his father ruthlessly, and with an instinct to protect her mate, the mermaid charged into the shark, knocking it away from the merman. While the action had saved her mate, the shark found a new target – the mermaid herself.

 

“Dick, get out of here!” The dying merman gasped out, lying on the floor of the ocean and looking up at his son. The merboy stared at him in horror, seemingly unable to move, before his gaze was snapped up at the sound of his mother screaming. The shark had sunk its teeth into her torso and was tearing chunks of flesh from her body.

 

Normally, a merchild would have swam away by now, traumatized or not it was coded into their DNA. Parents would protect their offspring to the death, but if the merchild was in danger he or she would instinctively swim away to save themselves. This merboy hadn’t shown the slightest interest in fleeing the scene however. Quite the opposite in fact, he had actually started to swim towards the shark, only to be stopped by a hand on his fin, which tugged him back. The merboy looked down to see his father shaking his head, “Run.”

 

The merboy stared at the merman for a moment before shaking his head. “No.”

 

The screaming from the mermaid stopped and she went limp in the powerful jaws of the shark, which released her body onto the bottom of the ocean floor.

 

The shark turned its gaze to the merboy, who appeared to be refusing his instincts to run.

 

Stop,” came the voice of the Owl, and immediately the shark stilled. The Sirens looked over at the Owl with slight confusion, wondering why they were ordered this, but the Owl swam towards the merboy. Figuring that it was safe to come out, the three Sirens followed their leader.

 

The merboy stared at them with bemusement and terror, obviously not sure who was the enemy and who was the friend. The mask that the Owl was wearing probably didn’t help. The Owl rested a hand on the merboy’s shoulder, which quickly turned restraining when the merboy tried to pull away. “Let me go! Who are you?!”

 

He kept glancing over at the shark, which was completely inanimate under the control of the Sirens. The Owl glanced at the Sirens before turning back to the merboy. “We are the Court of Owls. Have you heard of us?”

 

“N-No…”

 

“That’s probably for the best,” the Owl turned to the Sirens. “He’s shown the resistance of a Siren, abandoning his bond as a merperson by ignoring his instincts – yet he is a merperson.”

 

The merboy was literally shaking with fright and anger, trying in vain to pull away from the strong grip of the Owl. “Let go of me!”

 

The Sirens exchanged glances before turning back to the Owl. “Are you suggesting we change him, Master?”

 

“Change me?! What are you talking about, let – let me go!”

 

The Owl ignored his protests, instead yanking the merboy closer. “That’s exactly what I’m suggesting. Do it now, before anyone comes along.”

 

The merboy’s blue eyes widened but before he could even let out a cry the three Sirens tackled him to the ocean floor. He started to yell for help, but was quickly silenced with a hand over his mouth. The merchild growled and bit the hand, his sharp teeth digging into it, but the Siren was used to pain by now, and a simple bite from a merboy was not enough to deter it. The merboy squeezed his eyes shut as one of the Siren’s tilted its head against the merboy’s neck, teeth scraping against the delicate skin before completely sinking into the flesh. The merboy let out a muffled yell of pain and struggled more, but the Siren didn’t pull back. If anything it clamped it’s teeth in deeper, and the merboy gave a large jolt before falling limp. It was only when the body went lax under the Siren that its sharp teeth pulsed, venom shooting from the tips of its teeth into the merboy’s bloodstream. Immediately the Siren pulled away, eyeing the bite mark before licking over it, the coat of saliva healing the wound quicker then the merboy would have been able to on his own.

 

The merchild was looking up at them with a dazed expression; the blue in his eyes almost completely black from his pupils dilating and his body was twitching. “How will we know when the venom activates?” questioned one of the Sirens.

 

As soon as he establishes a mental connection with another person,” the Owl responded. “As did all of you.”

 

The Owl looked back down at the merboy, stroking his hair softly. The merboy’s eyes started to flutter closed, and the last thing he heard before he fell unconscious was, “When the merchild wakes, he won’t remember that we were here.”

 

A week ago…

 

The Siren waited until Tim was out of sight before establishing his mental connection with the other Sirens. “Grayson has been captured by pirates. We’re going to help free him with his family member. Once we get there, we’ll kill his family member and then bring Grayson back to the Court of Owls.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Months have passed since he’s been on this ship. Dick isn’t sure how many months, but he knows that it’s been too many. He’s given up all hope of seeing the ocean again, or his family, the only thing he has left now of his beautiful home is the memories.

 

Merpeople crave closeness, they crave the feeling of being near someone, of being close to someone, and Dick had limited options for those ‘someones’.

 

Dick has only seen two people in these past few months, Slade and Jason. He hasn’t even had a glimpse of the other slaves and pirates, due to Captain Wade’s orders. He much prefers Jason’s company over Slade’s, but those visits were far and few, fleeting and only there occasionally.


Slade was a constant however. He saw Slade every day. Slade spoke to him every day. And one time, Dick had spoken back.

 

Loneliness, desperation and anguish had all crept up on him and he eventually unleashed it all. Slade was offering the chance to communicate, to talk, and touch. Dick would always shy away from Slade’s touches before, but now he found himself craving them. He missed the warmth of touch that others could give him and Slade was offering it, the only catch was that he needed to talk.

 

Dick wasn’t sure whether or not Slade was reporting this to the Captain, because Slade never mentioned him in their conversations – which were becoming more and more frequent, and it was starting to scare the merman. He didn’t like depending on this… pirate, who he knew had cruel intentions beneath honeyed words. He knew that Slade wasn’t a good person, he was pretending, he could sense it, and he could even see it at times. When Slade would become frustrated or angry, he showed his true ugly self.

 

Dick, knowing this, still looked forward to Slade’s visits. Had Slade tortured him? He had, in the beginning, but the more Dick began to talk the less Slade would hurt him and now he would touch him rather than cut him. It was a nice feeling.

 

But it was a feeling that he wished he didn’t share with that bastard of a pirate.

 

He wanted to share this with another member aboard the ship; he wanted to share this with Jason. He ached for Jason to be closer, but Jason seemed… unnerved whenever Dick would show this need. He’d excuse himself, or brush it off, but Dick could see his cheeks heating up more than once. Dick didn’t understand it. He could see it in Jason’s eyes that he was tempted, but the slave was holding back. Why? What was so wrong with this closeness?

 

Dick was confused. If Jason wanted to, and Dick wanted to, surely the answer would be for them to both get what they want? Why did Jason act like he didn’t want this, when it was as clear as day to Dick that he did want it?

 

Questions, questions, questions. It felt like that was all Dick had when it came to Jason. At least Slade was clear with his intentions, but Jason never seemed to fully open up to him. Dick could sense that the slave wasn’t a bad person, so why hide if there’s no bad secrets to be kept? Why was Jason not seeing Dick the way that Dick saw him? Or was he seeing Dick the way Dick saw him?

 

If that was the case, it was glaringly obvious that Dick wanted to share this closeness with him, so he didn’t know why Jason was holding back. He was tempted to ask so many times, but he was… well… afraid. Afraid that Jason would leave him. Afraid that Jason wouldn’t want to be near him. Afraid that Dick would be alone with only Slade.

 

Slade was… usually good company, when he wasn’t mad or Dick didn’t make him mad, but Dick didn’t want to share that bond with Slade – he wanted to share it with Jason.

 

And now, with Jason sitting down in front of him on the floor prattling about what he did today, Dick decided to brave the storm.

 

“Jason?” he cut off the slave, who appeared startled at the abrupt use of his name for a moment before he snapped out of it. “Yes?”

 

“Why don’t you want to be close to me?”

 

Jason gave him a guarded look, and Dick wished that he knew what Jason was thinking in that moment. “It’s dangerous.”

 

“For you?”

 

“And you. For both of us.”

 

An image of Slade and the sound of a whip suddenly flashed into his mind, although he wasn’t sure where it had come from and why it left so suddenly. It did do something for him though, it was… almost like an answer to his unvoiced question. Why?

 

If Slade found out, Dick would be in trouble. If Jason was found out, then Jason would be in trouble with the pirates.

 

“We don’t have to tell anyone… you don’t tell them that you visit down here at night anyway,” said Dick, trying his hardest to come up with ways to persuade the slave.

 

Jason hesitated, “I’m already risking enough just coming down here at all, even if it’s only occasionally. You want me to add… this… whatever this is… as well?”

 

“There’s nothing wrong with it.”

 

For some reason, Jason flushed at this. “…I need to think about it.”

 

Dick nodded and they didn’t speak about it for the rest of the night, although Dick couldn’t help but to be drawn to the way Jason moved his arms or rested a hand against his thigh. He wanted those hands to be on his, or on him, some form of contact. A hug even. But Jason seemed intent on torturing Dick with thoughts of physical contact but never doing it.

 

Dick sighed when Jason left for the night. Why was he so intent on having physical contact with Jason? He had Slade for that… so why is he craving the touches of Jason instead? Dick needed to get over this, it was making Jason uncomfortable and Dick frustrated.

 

Still… he couldn’t help it. He sighed and curled up on the bottom of the glass cage, trying to sleep it off. Maybe the feelings would disappear if he willed them to. It was surprisingly easy for Dick to fall asleep that night, despite his thoughts going haywire trying to figure out his true feelings for Jason.

 

Dick was slowly becoming more and more aware that Slade had an attraction towards Dick, he could sense it in the way that Slade’s eyes would linger on him and how he’d touch him sometimes. Dick often wondered to himself if he held an attraction to Slade, because he enjoyed the attention that Slade showered him with, but try as he might, he didn’t feel anything. Slade wasn’t bad looking by human standards, but his personality was… too much for Dick. He was manipulative and cruel, and it was something that Dick wouldn’t be able to overlook. Due to being both a merperson and his own personality, Dick hated cruelty. It disgusted him. He saw no reason for it.

 

Did that mean that he was attracted to Jason though? Perhaps… Dick couldn’t really see a flaw in Jason. Well, he was prone to anger, but it wasn’t the same type of anger that Slade had. Slade’s was… scary. Jason’s was the type where you just want to hug him to make it go away. Dick found himself smiling at the thought of Jason. Maybe I am attracted to him.

 

It was at that moment another thought crossed his mind. Attracted to a human. How far have I sunk that I now like the one thing I absolutely despised before?

 

Dick groaned and put his face in his hands. Slade is going to be here soon, come on Dick pull yourself together.

 

With great effort Dick masked the self-loathing he was feeling over possibly liking a human.

 

Not just that, he hated himself for craving the touches of one of the cruelest humans he knew.

 

Heavy footsteps came down the stairs, and Dick glanced over to see Slade. He couldn’t help it. Even though he hated himself for it, he found himself swimming to the edge of the glass, close to where Slade was standing.

 

“We’re going to be reaching land today,” said the pirate, studying Dick. “To sell you.”

 

“Why sell me?” asked Dick, alarmed. When they’d first captured him, a few had mentioned selling him, but as of late Slade never once said anything about selling him.

 

“You’ve been refusing to tell me how you heal other people,” said Slade with a growl, and Dick looked away. It was true. Despite talking to Slade almost everyday and allowing him to touch him, Dick would always refuse to answer when Slade asked about that particular subject. He didn’t know why, but he had a bad feeling whenever Slade would ask.

 

Sure, he’d been punished for not speaking about it, but it was worth it. Or at least Dick hoped.

 

“I don’t know,” Dick fibbed.

 

“Liar,” Slade barked out, and Dick flinched despite himself. “You know exactly how to do it.”

 

“… I don’t…”

 

“Well, I’m not going to be around to protect you from who we sell you to,” said Slade, his voice smooth. “Most likely a scientist that is going to dissect you. Do you know what that means?”

 

Dick shook his head but remained silent, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know.

 

“It means that they’re going to cut your body open, and look inside of you, all while you’re still awake.”

 

Dick’s eyes widened in horror. He didn’t want to be cut open! It was like those tales that Dick had heard about the humans, where they would torture and cut open merpeople.

 

“I can prevent that from happening if you tell me how you do it.”

 

“I… I…” Dick hesitated, that dark feeling rising up in his chest, like saying this would information be wrong morally.

 

At that moment the ship rocked, as though a large wave had crashed into it. Not a second later another huge rock came, and both Slade and Dick fell sideways. Well, Slade fell against the wall and Dick ended up being smooshed against the glass of the tank.

 

Dick was the first to recover, spotting a shape coming up from behind Slade. He kept his mouth shut firmly, not giving Slade any warning as the person whacked the pirate in the back of the head. Slade collapsed, and Dick was impressed that something had taken the pirate down so quickly. He looked up to see Jason standing there, holding a wooden plank and looking slightly terrified.

 

“Jason? What’s going on?” Dick asked urgently, and Jason looked up at the startled merman. “It’s… your pals,” he said in a rather vague voice.

 

“What?”

 

“Merpeople. They’re attacking the ship.”

 

 

Chapter Text

It was chaos on the deck. There was no other word to describe the stench of panic, the mass of bodies, the colossal waves and the very foreboding stormy sky.

 

Slaves and pirates alike were yelling, trying to be heard over the thunderous sounds the looming waves made as they crashed into the boat, rocking it to and fro.

 

Wade DeFarge had traveled through many a storm, but never had he come across anything like this. The sky was an unnatural hue of deep dark blue; the swirling clouds above were mixes of gray and black. The beautiful pastel color of the daylight sky, which had been there only minutes ago, was now a vortex of nightmares. Lightning bolts shot into the ocean, some of them dangerously close to the ship.

 

The previously calm water was now sloshing up on the deck, high waves threatening to tilt the entire large ship over at any instant. The ship groaned and creaked as it was violently rocked, almost going airborne when it rode an incredibly sharp wave.

 

Wade could only watch as the hellish version of his ship took over quicker and quicker. The clouds above were swirling even more dangerously, and he was almost fearful that a twister might come down from the heavens and tear the beautiful ship along with its crew apart.

 

Then, something different happened. The waves calmed slightly, but a large section of the crew went completely still. Wade watched as they walked towards the balcony of the ship, legs airy as though they were sleepwalking. For a moment nothing happened… and then the first male jumped.

 

At first Wade had assumed he slipped, but with growing horror he realized that one after the other, his crewmates and slaves were jumping off of the ship purposefully. Out of plain curiosity he raced to the edge, looking down. He didn’t feel shock when he saw a pair of slender arms wrapped around one of his crew, pulling the male into the dark abyss. He wasn’t expecting it per say, but he knew that this wasn’t natural.

 

Now it made sense. Merpeople were attacking the ship, and the only logical conclusion was that it was because of the merman that was currently sealed away in the lower deck. They wanted him back.

 

But Wade needed him.

 


 

 

Jason carefully pulled Dick out of his glass cage. The merman wrapped his arms around Jason’s neck like a monkey as the slave helped him out of that unbearable invisible prison.

 

This was one of the only times Dick had touched Jason, and being this close to the human, being cradled by him, sent shivers down Dick’s spine. When Jason’s bitten hand made contact with Dick’s shoulder, both of them felt an electric jolt. Their reactions to it were very different.

 

Jason flinched his hand away as though he’d been burned, but Dick clung even harder onto the human, relishing in the skin on skin contact that so far in his imprisonment he’d only had with Slade. Jason seemed to catch onto the merman’s needs and carefully slid one hand under Dick’s tail while wrapping the other around the merman’s back, lifting him up.

 

He immediately stumbled and Dick let out a shriek that pierced through Jason’s ears as they both fell to the ground, the merman landing on his back and Jason landing flat on top of him. The human pushed himself up slightly, intending to get up completely, but he made the mistake of meeting Dick’s gaze. Green eyes met blue and the world around them seemed to pause. He’s very beautiful, the wandering and certainly uninvited thought suddenly invaded Jason’s head, but it almost didn’t seem like it was completely his own. He had the feeling that something had helped him decide that, and he wasn’t sure what it was.

 

Jason was only brought back to reality as he felt a cold, wet hand cup his cheek. The first thing that he realized was that he’d dropped both of them rather embarrassingly. The second thing he realized was that he was in a very compromising position with another male. Either the merman did not see this as an intimate position, or it didn’t bother him, because he did not seem phased at all despite the initial shock when Jason toppled them both over.

 

Jason stuttered out something that was a mixture between an apology and plain old blithering embarrassment as he pushed himself to his feet. This time he managed to sturdy himself before picking the merman up again. It was hard work, both because he himself was weak and it didn’t help that Dick was heavy as fuck.

 

He supposed that most of it was due to the large, powerful gem-like tail that the merman owned, but another part was that Dick was muscular. Jason theorized that he’d have to be to survive in the ocean, but he hadn’t put much thought into Dick’s… appearance until he actually had a valid reason and not just being a pervert to look at Dick.

 

The merman immediately latched itself onto Jason again, resting his head in the crook of Jason’s neck. The slave sighed, he wasn’t a very physical person and Dick seemed to be nuzzling into him as though he were a confused, wet kitten rather than a grown male that could only survive in the sea.

 

A hard wave against the ship had Jason crash into the wall, but he managed not to fall and even kept his grip on the merman this time. Dick stared up at him with wide blue eyes, but Jason couldn’t bring himself to meet his gaze again. He couldn’t afford distractions at the moment, and Dick was definitely being a distraction.

 

With what was left of his strength, Jason somehow managed to carry Dick up the stairs and onto the deck.

 

Dick was extremely alert once they left the stuffy lower deck and the cool fresh air along with raindrops of heavy water greeted him. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes in a bliss. He missed this. He was covered in water, the air was fresh, and the body he was clinging to was warm. This was everything he needed.

 

Well… almost everything.

 

His eyes snapped open again as he caught sight of the monstrous waves – and how hadn’t he seen them before – that were reaching up to the stormy sky. Dick had seen this before, this was an attack caused by a merperson.

 

Humans are jumping from the ship though.

 

He studied the humans that seemed to be caught in a daze, the pupils in their eyes having a strange light to them, before it clicked. Not just merpeople. Sirens as well.

 

Despite everything that was happening, along with the possible death of every human around him – including the one holding him – Dick couldn’t help but to feel flattered that a party of not only merpeople, but Sirens, had come to rescue him.

 

“It’s time you go home fish boy,” Dick heard Jason mumble into his ear, and the first thing he felt was joy and excitement.

 

The second thing he felt was a deep sadness. If he left, that would mean no more Jason. He wasn’t sure when he became so attached to the foul mouthed and honestly infuriating human, but somehow it had miraculously happened. Dick didn’t take his gaze off of Jason, whose face was set with a determination that filled the merman with slight awe.

 

Before Dick could say a word, before Jason could take another step, they were cut off by a very distressed Wade. The Captain stood his ground in front of them, denying them any chance to escape.

 

Jason swallowed as the brunt of Wade’s fury directed itself towards the slave, but he stood his ground, refusing to show any sign of fear. Instead he allowed his anger to take control, to ground him, he was going to give Dick back to his family and… whatever happened to Jason after that was okay. He’d accept his punishment if it meant he was able to right the wrongs he’d done since the day he’d first spotted the green tail in the water.

 

“Where do you think you’re going with my merman?” Wade hissed, and Dick growled at the Captain.

 

“I am not yours!” Dick spoke in his native tongue, completely forgetting that the dialect was painful to the humans. Jason was certainly affected – he almost dropped the merman again. Dick was still clinging to him though, which was the only reason he wasn’t plunged onto the hard – granted completely soaked – deck. Jason regained his bearings and cradled Dick back into his arms again.

 

“He belongs with his people.”

 

“He belongs to me!”

 

Before Jason could retort Dick cut in. “Your crew is being lured into the ocean by Sirens. If I’m released, they’ll let you and the other humans go… if you don’t release me, every single one of you will choke your last breath at the bottom of the ocean.”

 

Wade glanced over. His crew was down by at least half, and more of them were becoming affected by the Sirens’ song.

 

“It’s your choice. All of you die and I’m free, or I’m free and the rest of you live.”

 

Jason didn’t think he’d ever seen Wade look so conflicted before. Usually the Captain had a cold façade on, but the slave could see every emotion in the pirate’s eyes at the moment. He was terrified and angry, but there was also a hopelessness that was starting to take over. Jason could see it. The Captain’s shoulders slumped and his whole body seemed to radiate defeat, along with a look of fated recognition.

 

“Go.”

 

Jason didn’t need to be told twice, but Dick’s voice stopped him. “You’re also letting Jason Todd go free once you reach land.”

 

Wade glared at the merman now. “You dare speak to me as though you have the right to make outrageous demands –“

 

“I do,” Dick cut him off, glaring straight back. “That’s the deal. Set me and Jason free, and you and what’s left of your crew will survive.”

 

Wade was obviously furious, but he wasn’t a fool. He knew the risks – the facts. He could act as mad as he wanted, throw however many fits he wanted, but the truth was that Dick was completely in control at this moment. Wade had no choice but to let Jason and Dick go, because he wasn’t going to allow anyone else to die on his watch.

 

Jason couldn’t feel any emotion as he watched the Captain struggle for words, perhaps trying to find a loophole. The slave knew there wasn’t one.

 

When the Captain met his gaze, that was when Jason knew.

 

He was going to be set free.

Chapter Text

 

It was never discovered how the merfolk acquired their magic, or why some were stronger with it than others. In fact, there were some merpeople who could only access their powers in life threatening situations or under extreme circumstances.

 

Tim was one of the more powerful merpeople that only used magic during extreme circumstances, not because he was too lazy to use his magic – that was Dick – but because his magic was very easy to lose control over.

 

By nature Tim liked to be in control, he needed to be in control. He honed his logic and intellect to always get everything under his command, he did not like when things spun out of his control. Such as Dick being taken. He, correctly, assumed that this was a psychological issue stemmed from being abused by his parents. At first he had struggled, but under the guidance of Bruce and the undying support of Dick, Tim had regained control of his life and became stronger because of it.

 

The only thing that he had that wasn’t in his control was his magic, and therefore he was hesitant to use it. However, remembering all of the times that Dick had been there for Tim, the young merman was absolutely adamant in saving his pseud older brother.

 

He wrestled with trying to reign in his magic as the storm attacked the vessel that Dick was captive on, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him short, and he turned to see one of the Sirens that had accompanied him. “Release it. Only then will you be able to master it. It needs its full potential to be unlocked before you can bend it to your will.”

 

There was no time to argue. He needed to do this if he was going to save Dick. Shaking slightly, he did what the Siren told him to. He allowed his magic to have full control, and the change was instantaneous. At first it scared Tim, the power that he was using was strong enough for at least three average merfolk to have combined. Then the singing started. As a merperson, Tim was not affected by the fated Song of the Siren, but it did not take long for the humans to start jumping into the water.

 

One by one the Sirens pulled down the free-falling humans, dragging them to the depths of the ocean and sinking their fangs into the humans’ necks and sucking the blood. Tim closed his eyes, concentrating more on his power and blocking everything else out. He could feel the heavy wind from above despite being in the water, the rain falling, the fear in the air. It felt… good.

 

But he had to remember why he was doing this. He wasn’t doing it for the power, despite its awe-some feeling, he was doing it for his brother, the closest person in the world to him.

 


 

“Off with you then,” Wade growled, and Dick felt a surge of victory. He’d – with the help of his people – made this human scum submit to him and listen to his demands, plus he saved a person that he… could put up with.

 

Dick glanced up at Jason, whose face had lit up with undeniable relief and joy.

 

Perhaps more than put up with.

 

Without another word Jason pushed past Wade, something he wouldn’t have dared to do before, and hung Dick off the balcony, ready to drop him in. But he didn’t. He hesitated. This would be the last time he saw Dick again. As though reading his thoughts, Dick cupped Jason’s cheeks with his hands. “I’ll see you again.”

 

Jason’s eyebrows scrunched together. “What?”

 

“There’s one thing I haven’t told you, that I haven’t told anyone,” Dick admitted. “Every merperson has three days as a human once a year. I’ll find you.”

Jason’s eyes widened. “How will you find me?”

 

“I just will.”

 

Before Jason could reply Dick leaned forward and pressed his lips against Jason’s. It was like a jolt of electricity passed from Dick’s lips to his, and after a moment of pure shock Jason kissed him back as well.

 

Jason had never been kissed before, not properly anyway. Certainly not with a male. The closest he’d ever come was when his mom would kiss his forehead, but that was it. Being kissed like this now was… not a feeling he could describe. It was like the world had faded around them and all he could feel were Dick’s lips moving against his. Everything was perfect.

 

Until a huge wave decided to crash into them at that very moment, knocking the two onto the deck. For a moment they stared blankly at each other, Dick having fallen on top of Jason’s legs, before bursting into laughter. Talk about a mood killer.

 

“Come on,” Jason said, lifting Dick up again. “It’s time to get you home.”

 


 

“Stop!”

 

The call came from a Siren. “Everyone stop! They’re releasing him!”

 

Tim’s eyes immediately snapped open, and sure enough another plop came into the water. This time it wasn’t a human though; it was a merman with a shimmering blue tail.

 

“Dick!” Tim exclaimed, cutting off his connection to the magic. The storm above dispersed immediately, the sky returning to its normal clear hue of blue. The young merman was almost surprised at how easily he had controlled his magic, but he was more focused on his brother. He swam at top speed towards him, which resulted in a collision, but neither of the mermen cared as they embraced each other.

 

“Tim…” Dick tightened his grip on his brother; his eyes squeezed shut as he focused on his Tim’s presence. It was comforting, reassuring, and he wanted to lose himself in the feeling. This was something that no human, not even Jason, could offer Dick. It was part of a bond that only merpeople shared.

 

“Dick, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” Tim wailed, and it was then that Dick realized the young merman was crying, which he probably should have realized sooner seeing as the Tim was shaking. “I thought I would have time – but Queen Atargatis and King Ea wouldn’t let me – and I couldn’t let them just take you! I’m so sorry that I left you-!”

 

“Timmy,” Dick cut his brother off, “It’s okay. I’m okay now. I’m with you. We’re going home.”

 

“Actually,” one of the Siren’s cut in. “You’re not.”

 

“What?” Tim questioned, pulling away from his brother only to be smashed in the head with a rock.

 

Dick let out a cry of horror as Tim’s body immediately went limp in the water, a blood trail seeping out of his head and staining the water red. “What did you do!?” Dick started to swim towards his brother but he was grabbed by the Sirens. “Let me go!”

 

There was an odd feeling, like he’d been through this before, but he couldn’t recall ever getting into a fight with Sirens before. “Why did you do that to Tim!?” He struggled, but after months of captivity with no proper exercise besides lying around in a fish bowl made him too weak to properly fend off the much stronger Sirens. He growled, primal instincts taking over and sunk his teeth into the arm of the Siren that had wrapped one around Dick’s neck. However, it was a fruitless attempt. The Siren just tightened his grip, seemingly unaffected by the bite, until Dick’s vision started to shadow and pure blackness overcame his sight as unconsciousness took hold of him.

 

Along the way to the Court, Dick drifted in and out of consciousness. It was mostly a blur of confusing colors and noises, and he was vaguely aware that he’d tried speaking multiple times, but the darkness had tightened its grip on the young merman and time and time again unconsciousness overcame his body.

 

Time passed by until Dick finally awoke from his forced sleeping state. He brought a hand up to his throat, expecting it to feel sore, but the bruises had already faded. He looked around, wondering where on earth he was. He was lying on a pile of stones large enough to fit all of him, and the cave he was in was very dark. It didn’t matter much to Dick, since he could see perfectly fine, but he felt like someone – or something – was watching him from the shadows.

 

“Who’s there?” He demanded, sitting up and looking around suspiciously. “What do you want with me?”

 

There was a large bang, like a boulder having been smashed to bits, that caused Dick to jump in surprise and fear. A merperson swam into the room, and Dick could have sworn he recognized the white mask the merman was wearing.

 

Richard Grayson,” said the merman with the mask, sounding pleased. “We finally have you.”

 

“Have me?” Dick spat, hands clenching into fists. He could feel the fins on his head and arms rise up, warning him that he was the prey and the merman in front of him was the predator. “What do you mean by that? What do you want from me?”

 

“So, the venom really did work,” said the merman, “What do you remember about the night your parents died?”

 

Dick scrunched his eyebrows in confusion. “Why are you asking me that?”

 

“Just tell me,” the merman insisted, and Dick frowned. “Not a lot. Just that they were killed by a shark.”

 

“You remember nothing of our meeting then?”

 

“Our… meeting?” Dick echoed, even more confused. “I’ve never seen you before in my life.”

 

“On the contrary, you have. You just don’t remember.”

 

Dick could feel his heartbeat quickening in response to the words. “Why wouldn’t I remember?”

 

“Because we made you forget,” said the merman flippantly. “We’re the ones that killed your parents.”

 

The words took a moment to comprehend, but when they did Dick’s eyes narrowed and he bared his teeth. “That’s… not true. A shark did it. I saw it happen.”

 

“My Sirens were controlling the shark. We’d been requested to kill your parents, and we delivered.”

 

The instant the words were out of the other merman’s mouth, Dick lunged for him. He didn’t get very far, because his arms were suddenly captured by two pairs of hands. He struggled, but the grips of the previously unseen Sirens just tightened in response. “Do not hurt Master,” the voices whispered. The merman in front of him had the audacity to chuckle, as though he thought Dick was about as threatening as a clam. Dick growled, “I’ll tear your throat out!”

 

The merman stopped laughing, but he didn’t appear to be frightened – or at least from what Dick could tell behind the mask. His eyes appeared amused and his body was relaxed. So the merman was either very good at acting, or he honestly did not find Dick to be a danger.

 

“You wouldn’t be able to even if you tried, I’m far too protected for a simple hybrid to kill,” said the merman, waving this off. Dick supposed that he had a point, seeing how the two Sirens holding him had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. He probably didn’t see Dick as a threat at all. At first the thought angered him, but now that he was thinking about it, he might be able to use it to his advantage. If the merman didn’t see him as a threat, then that meant he wouldn’t expect Dick to attack and hopefully kill him.

 

First, he needed to regain his strength though. He relaxed in the hold of the Sirens, and thought they didn’t let him go, they loosened their grip. It was then that what the merman said hit him. “What do you mean by hybrid?”

 

“Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed,” said the merman, sounding genuinely surprised.

 

“Noticed what?” Dick snapped, annoyed.

 

The merman sighed and tutted. “Let me tell you something about Sirens that you might not have known. Sirens, as everyone knows, are identified at birth. However, this is not always the case. Some Sirens don’t display their powers until they reach their prime. It’s very rare, but it happens. These Sirens are usually more powerful then others of their kind. The Sirens that work for me are mostly Sirens that didn’t have their powers until they were in their late teens.”

 

“What does this have to do with me? I’m not a Siren – I’m a merperson. I have the magic of a merperson!” Dick exclaimed. The merman hummed, “That is true. However, when we first found you, we had one of our stronger Sirens inject you with venom from their teeth. Did you know it’s possible to turn a merperson into a Siren?”

 

Dick stared at the merman, his cat-like eyes widening almost comically. “No…”

 

“Of course, you’re not a full Siren. There are a few of your kind here - mixes of Sirens and merpeople - we call them hybrids. Some are more prone to the abilities of merpeople, while others are more adept to being a Siren. You seem to have merperson qualities, but many of your instincts are caused by the Siren in you.”

 

“That’s… that’s not true… I don’t have any powers that a Siren has.”

 

“No?” The merperson seemed amused. “Not even that psychic link you’d made with a human?”

 

Jason. Things were starting to click into place. How they could sense each other’s feelings, how they shared each other’s dreams, how they felt each other’s pain as though it were their own. The strong desire they felt towards each other, but never acted upon. These were connections that only a Siren could make.

 

“Well… well how did that happen? J- The human and I have nothing in common, if anything I’d be more prone to making a connection with someone in my family, right?” He asked, grasping at straws.

 

“Did you scratch or bite the human?” The merman asked patiently, and an image of the bite mark that Dick had left on Jason’s palm flashed into his mind. The merman seemed to take Dick’s silence as answer enough. “A normal Siren could capture the mind of anyone – merperson, Siren or human – with their own free will. Hybrids, on the other hand, need to physically mark the being before establishing a connection.”

 

For some reason, the first thing that came to Dick’s mind was I’m glad I never bit Slade. It was all making sense now, why he felt such a pull towards a human that he’d originally despised. Why he was thinking about Jason all of the time, wondering what he was doing and how he was doing. He’d questioned to himself why so many times. He’d wondered why he cared so much about Jason, and now he knew, it was because of a complete accident that these Sirens had caused.

 

“Who are you?” Dick asked eventually after a moment of struggling with what to say.

 

“My name is not important, just know that I am your Master. As for who we are as a group… we are the Court of Owls.”

 

The name hit Dick like a whip and he visibly flinched, wondering why simple words affected him so violently. He’d heard of the Court of Owls from Bruce and Talia. He’d heard the warnings, he’d heard the merchildren’s rhyme for the Court, but he hadn’t expected to actually run into them. Not to mention, even though the Court would scare anyone, why did the name do more than speed up Dick’s heartbeat and fear? The mask on the face of the merman made sense now – this was an Owl, which meant the Sirens and hybrids here were Talons.

 

“You’re not my master,” Dick hissed out. “I don’t know what you want with me –“

 

“Yes you do,” the Owl cut in, and Dick glared. “You just don’t want to admit it to yourself.”

 

No, he didn’t. “I’m not going to be one of your Talons.”

 

The merman simply chuckled. “You’ll see just how wrong you are, Grayson. Because you don’t have a choice. You were chosen.”

 

With those words the Owl swam out of the room, leaving Dick alone with the two Talons. He glared at them. “Are you going to let me go now?”

 

They seemed to hesitate before releasing his arms completely. One of them suddenly swam in front of him, pushing him against the wall of the cave. “You’re new here, and obviously you’re not Talon potential yet. So, let me make a few rules clear to you. You follow our Masters’ orders, you obey without a question, you will kill and you will hurt for the name of the Court.”

 

“I’ll never do that!” Dick protested, and the Talon gave him a cold glare. “I’m just trying to make things easier for you. Stubbornness and pride gets you nowhere with the Court, so you either push aside your emotions, or they’ll forcefully do it for you. I’ll tell you the second way is not pleasant.”

 

“It can’t be any less pleasant than killing someone,” Dick immediately shot back. “I will never do what the Court tells me to do. I’m not a Talon, and I never will be. You might be some mindless drone, but I’m not. I’m my own person, and I’ll hold onto that until the day I die. So you might as well just kill me, because I’ll never be one of you.”

 

The Talon studied him, and there was tense silence for a few moments. “With an attitude like that,” the Siren murmured. “You’ll be wishing we killed you.”

 

Then the Talon released him, swimming casually over to the other Talon that had watched the exchange quietly as though he hadn’t just pinned Dick up against the wall and threatened him. “You should get some rest, they’ll start your training tomorrow.”

 

With that they left, and though a part of Dick wanted to follow them, he simply slid against the wall instead. His tail and fins lit up in the darkness, and he couldn’t deny the comfort that the soft glow of light offered him. He curled up on the ground, wishing that he was with his family yet again. He couldn’t believe it. He’d escaped the humans and was back into the ocean, only to fall into captivity again. Family.

 

Tim.

 

If the blow to the head hadn’t killed Tim, then surely sharks would have found him by now from the blood. He felt remorse clench through his chest, squeezing his heart as tears fell freely from his eyes. Tim had gone through so much to save him, and Dick repaid him by getting him killed.

 

He knew deep down that it wasn’t actually his fault, but it was easier to lay the blame on himself then on someone else. It was a self-destructive habit that most merpeople had, which was part of the reason why they enjoyed cuddling so much. It offered comfort; it healed the hurt.

 

But yet again, there was no comfort for Dick, and he was left on his own to grieve. There was absolutely nobody that he could share the agony of loss with. He wondered what Bruce was doing. What Damian was doing. Was Bruce looking for Tim? Had he looked for Dick? Was Damian upset about Dick’s disappearance? Did he miss Dick like Dick missed him?

 

Dick sighed, closing his eyes. The mental exhaustion and grief had him falling asleep almost instantly.

 


 

Waking up the next morning was something that Dick didn’t want to face. He just wanted to go home, what was so wrong with that? He didn’t want to be a Talon, he just wanted to curl up with his family and forget that all of this had happened. He wanted to cuddle with Tim and Bruce. He wanted to squeeze Damian to his chest and listen to his protests about Dick touching him. He even wanted to see Talia, just because she reminded him of home.

 

He was worried that he’d become like those other Talons – cold, distant, emotionless. He wanted to feel warmth, comfort and love. He thrived off of it. The thought of becoming an emotionless Talon with no remorse or pity terrified him.

 

He took a deep breath, promising himself that he wouldn’t become that. No matter what the Owls and Talons did, he wouldn’t allow himself to become empty shells like they were. He was going to get through this, he was going to become strong and he was going to go home. The more he repeated it to himself, the more it calmed him down.

 

He was going to stay strong so that he could see his family again. If he couldn’t… well, then he would die and he could see his parents and Tim again. He sensed more than heard the Talon coming into the room, and he squeezed his eyes shut tight. He wasn’t sure if it was because of his newfound status as a hybrid that he was sensing other Sirens, or if he was just becoming paranoid due to the Owl’s words. Either way he didn’t like it, but then again, he didn’t like anything that had to do with the Court of Owls.

 

He heard a tut come from above him and a female voice spoke. “I know you’re awake Grayson.”

 

Dick sighed in annoyance and opened his eyes, glaring up at the Talon. “Leave me alone.”

 

The Talon did not respond, she just grabbed Dick by the arm and yanked him up with surprising strength. “Come with me, it’s time to begin your training.”

 

“I’m not doing any training,” Dick growled, pulling his arm away from her. Her eyes narrowed, “Yes you are. You’re doing exactly what we say.”

 

“Yet here I am saying no.”

 

Before Dick even knew what hit him – quite literally – he was on the ground, the female Talon pinning him down. There was a throbbing in his cheek and he vaguely registered that she’d punched him so hard he fell to the floor of the cave.

 

“You are doing exactly what we say,” the Talon repeated herself, and Dick glared up at her, but didn’t say anything else. After a moment the Talon let go of her hold on Dick’s arms and allowed him to swim back up, her arms crossed as she waited for him.

 

“Where am I going?”

 

“The training room,” said the Talon shortly.

 

“What am I going to be doing?”

 

“That depends on your attitude. Either you train, or we punish you.”

 

Dick frowned slightly, “Punish me? How?”

 

“You don’t want to know,” said the Talon darkly, leading him through a dark hole in the cavern that ended up opening into an even bigger cave then the one he’d been in. The cave was wide and hollow, and the ceiling traveled so far up that it broke the surface of the water – which Dick could tell because of the opening at the top that showed the sun.

 

“Wow…” he whispered, awed despite himself. The light shone beautifully on rocks and stone pillars in the cave, causing the tails of the Sirens to gleam like gems. He looked down at his own tail, the scales glimmering like sapphires. As beautiful as it may have been, there was no mistaking the grunts of pain. He looked over to see what looked like a group fight going on at the opposite end of the cave. At first he’d assumed it was normal fighting, until he caught sight of the shark. He immediately went to call out a warning when he realized the shark wasn’t moving - it was just floating in the water motionlessly. It was obviously alive, because its gaze was on the Sirens fighting, but it’s body was completely stiff.

 

“The sharks here are bound to the Sirens,” the Talon next to him said. “We alone can control them.”

 

“… Did they send a shark after my parents?” Dick asked quietly, and the Talon shrugged. “Most likely.”

 

Dick studied her. Her black locks were braided together to keep the hair from getting into her face, and her skin was creamy and smooth. The shape of her eyes were narrowed in the corners, and Dick realized he hadn’t seen anyone like her in the ocean before. “Where do you come from?” he asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

 

“I come from far away from here. Oceans away.”

 

That would explain why he hadn’t seen anyone like her then. “Your people, do they all share your features?”

 

The Talon nodded, looking bored as though this were a common question she was asked. “Every last one of them. To me, you all look very different from what I am used to.”

 

“What’s your name?” Dick asked, and the Talon shot him an odd look. “Talon.”

 

“That’s your title, but who are you?”

 

“I am Talon. They are Talon. You will be Talon.”

 

“What name was given to you at your birth?” Dick asked, trying to hide his annoyance. The Talon studied him for a moment before looking down. “I have put that name behind me when I accepted the name Talon.”

 

“Indulge me, what did your name used to be?”

 

The Talon twitched, as though this were physically painful for her. “…Cassandra.”

 

“Cassandr-“

 

“Do not call me by that name,” Cassandra suddenly hissed, and Dick closed his mouth. “I am Talon. I have accepted Talon.”

 

Dick nodded. Even though he would always refuse to be Talon, she chose it, and he’d respect it. Besides, making a friend in this place wouldn’t be so bad would it? “Okay then, Talon.”

 

Cassandra looked pleased as she turned back to where the other Talons are training. “You’ll start by sharpening these stones until they’re sharp enough to cut,” said Cassandra, grabbing two stones and putting them in Dick’s hands. He looked down at the rocks cautiously. What kind of a test was this?

 

“How do I sharpen them?” he questioned, and Cassandra raised an eyebrow. “I’m not here to baby you through this, figure it out yourself. When you’ve done that, come and find me.” With that she swam away, leaving him to gape after her while holding two stones in either hand. Dick let out a frustrated sigh, looking back down at the rocks. They were smooth to the touch, not a crack on them. They didn’t appear to be very hard though. He looked around, but none of the other Talons were sharpening rocks. It looked like he’d have to do this on his own.

 

He started by rubbing them against each other, but the only thing that did was scratch the surface. He then decided to do it against the craggy wall, which trimmed the edges but didn’t get the stones sharp.

 

After at least an hour of rubbing the rocks against the wall of the cave, hoping that he didn’t look like a complete idiot, he suddenly realized an easier way and he almost smacked himself for not having thought of it before. He curled up his tail and plucked out a scale, wincing slightly but feeling relief when a new one grew in its place. He used the edge of the scale that he’d plucked off to start scraping at the rock. He was honestly surprised by how smooth and easy it was to shape the rocks to his desire using simply one scale from his tail. He hadn’t put much thought into what his scales could be used for before, certainly not for sharpening rocks into weapons if he ever had thought about it. Maybe… they could teach him useful information - at least a way to protect himself. That still didn’t mean he was going to become a Talon however! He refused to become like Cassandra, not wanting anything to do with her past simply because she was Talon now. Once he sharpened the rocks he dropped his scale and swam high, looking for Cassandra. He tried his best to ignore the sharks that were stationed under the control of the Talons, but he’d had too many bad experiences with them to disregard them completely.

 

When Dick finally spotted her, he almost thought she was about to kill a fellow Talon. She had her legs wrapped around his torso and her arms crossing to snap his neck, however at the last minute the Siren used his strength to throw her off, turning around and smacking her so hard into the ground that the stone actually cracked. Dick forgot about approaching her completely as he gaped at the scene, but the other Talons in the surrounding area either looked bored or unimpressed. Apparently this was something that happened frequently then. Cassandra rolled away, and as she did so Dick caught a glimpse of her back. The previously pale skin was completely mottled brown and black from bruises and snapped bones, however they were healing quickly. Much quicker then a merperson would be able to heal. She swam away from the male Talon, and he allowed her to heal her body. That hadn’t been the usual bruises and cuts, her back had twisted and the only reason she wasn’t paralyzed was because of the venom that coursed through her body. Once the bones had reset and the bruises had faded, she charged at the Talon again. This time she lunged right for him, although her eyes shifted to his tail. Anticipating a strike there, the Talon moved his body to guard his tail, but it had just been a decoy. Her hands wrapped around his neck, squeezing harshly as her fingers dug into the indent in his throat that had him gasping, trying to pry away her fingers. Despite her smaller stature however, she was just as strong as the male, and squeezed even tighter. It was only when his face started to turn purple that he tapped her shoulder. Instantaneously she let him go, not impressed as he coughed and spluttered. His throat was dark with bruises that were quickly healing.

 

“You win,” he said, his voice a bit hoarse even though the bruises had disappeared. Cassandra didn’t allow the slightest victory to show across her face, and the male Talon looked just as emotionless, though a little frustrated that he’d lost in their… whatever that was.

 

Dick swam over to her hesitantly, showing her the sharpened rocks. She took one look at them and gave a sharp nod, “I see you figured out a use for your scales,” she said, and Dick nodded. “Good. Now, bring these to the sea witch and have her turn them to blades for you.”

 

Dick wasn’t sure what scared him more, the thought of facing a sea witch or the fact that these rocks in his arms were going to be turned into blades. He was silent for a moment and Cassandra huffed, “Well?”

 

Oh, right… where is she again…?” Dick questioned, and Cassandra pointed to an alcove on the other side of the cave. “She’ll be in there, like always.”

 

Dick gave a small thank you, although he wasn’t sure if she even heard him or not, and swam into the alcove. The only sea witch he could think of was Zatanna, who had cursed Damian into being a crab. When he first entered, he’d thought it was empty. There was a table made of stones and a dark pot, but no sea witch.

 

“Um… hello?”

 

“Who are you?” the distorted female voice came from behind him, and he jumped a mile before turning to face the sea witch. She was… different then what he’d been expecting. Her skin was a very pale blue, her eyes golden, and her lips a soft purple shade. Unlike the other Sirens and merpeople, she was wearing a dark blue cloth that wrapped around her breasts, torso and upper legs. Her deep purple hair fell in waves over her shoulders.

 

“Are you the sea witch?”

 

The sea witch gave a nod. “That’s what they call me.”

 

“What’s your name?” Dick asked, wondering if he could get a straight answer out of her. She barely even hesitated. “My name is Raven, but if you’re like the others you should probably stick with ‘the sea witch’.”

 

“I’m not like the others,” Dick assured her, and she studied him intently. “What do you need?”

 

Dick handed her the sharpened stones, and she sighed. “You’re a new one.”

 

“Yes I am,” he tilted his head. “Why are you working with the Court? Do you agree with them?”

 

Raven looked surprised, as though she’d never been asked the question before. “I work for them because they make me.”

 

“So you didn’t chose it either?” Dick murmured, more to himself then to her. She didn’t say anything else, but Dick watched with rapt attention as the sharpened stones in her hands suddenly turned silver and shiny. She handed the blades to him, and he flinched away before trying to calm himself down. They’re your blades. Which means that you can use them to protect yourself.

 

“So why-“

 

“Please leave, I’m busy,” said Raven sharply, cutting Dick off from whatever he’d been about to ask her. He frowned, but judging by the look on her face he had the feeling she wasn’t in a very talkative mood, so he left to go find Cassandra again to show her the twin blades.

 

Just who is this Raven? Dick wondered, why is she here?

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

About a month had passed since Captain Wade LaFarge himself had declared Jason a free man. The ravenette would wake up in the mornings surprised by the fact that he was sleeping on actual bed, and when he looked down at his wrists he was still astounded at the lack of iron cuffs.

 

Changing from a slave to a free man wasn’t as easy as it would have seemed. It appears that when you weren’t a slave, you had to be responsible for your own selfish reasons rather than be selfish for other people. He needed to get a job, he needed to make his own income, he needed to pay money to rent a small home, he needed to do this and he needed to do that. Jason had thought that being free would mean he could do whatever he wanted, and he was a bit disappointed that it was the opposite. He wasn’t wearing cuffs anymore, and he wasn’t being beaten or whipped, but he still had to answer to people.

 

Freedom in Jason’s mind had been fabricated to his own fantasies and desires. He’d assumed that he’d live in a home and make a few friends and be happy. Maybe have a pet. He wouldn’t have a care in the world, he didn’t have to clean and he didn’t have to worry about doing something the right way. At least, he didn’t in his fantasies.

 

The real world was a lot different than those fantasies had been. He did have a home from the money that Wade so kindly leant him (okay, he might have stolen it), but he’d quickly realized that in order to keep this house he would have to continue paying money to the landlord every month, which lead him to having to find a job.

 

It can’t possibly be that hard to find a job, right? Wrong. It wasn’t that there weren’t plenty of jobs; it’s just that the jobs that were available were all things he didn’t know how to do. Like being a merchant – he was NOT good with people. He was terrible with people in fact. He didn’t know how to act around another person anymore; he was so out of touch with proper civilization that whenever someone raised a voice he immediately assumed that they were planning to whip him. Then he’d have to remind himself that that wasn’t the case anymore. He was a free man now, he never had to worry about that again.

 

He’d started off slowly. He got his shoulder-length hair cut until it was to his chin, which was apparently very popular with the other young men in these parts. He was still having trouble eating three meals a day. His body was so used to eating a small amount once a day he usually ended up vomiting half of his food into the waste bin.

 

He eventually managed to nab a job as a fisherman. Despite some of his worst memories being on the sea, he also felt oddly… at home. On the days where it was sunny out, and the reflection shone like sparkles on the water, he allowed himself to feel hopeful. Every sparkle that he saw reflected in the water he half-expected to be Dick, swimming out of the ocean to spend those three days as a human with him.

 

Ever since they’d been separated, Jason had been getting strange dreams. Without fail, every night, he’d see a strange white mask and a voice whispering Court of Owls.

 

He had no idea what these dreams meant, although he was almost certain that it had something to do with Dick. He’d never seen a mask like that before, and a heavy presence in his mind reminded him of a certain merman escapee.

 

There were other perks to make up for his terrible social skills. For example, he was able to take relaxing hot baths rather than a two-minute cold shower, and he’d started working out more. Slowly but surely he was gaining muscle mass, although his lack of proper nutrition made it harder to do and sometimes he’d become so dizzy he’d collapse. Still, it was a start in making this new life for himself. He was honestly proud that he’d even come this far. It’s all thanks to Dick.

 

Dick. Jason spent much of his time thinking about the merman, wondering when they’d see each other again, if Dick had found his family, if Dick was happy. He didn’t know why he kept thinking about the merman. Was it out of a sense of duty, or something more? He wasn’t able to answer this question, but he did know that he missed Dick greatly.

 

He occasionally wondered about his fellow slaves, like Victor and Roy. Especially Roy. Roy was the closest thing he’d had to a friend since… well, ever. And he’d pretty much straight up abandoned him. He felt guilty for leaving his red-haired kind-of-friend behind, although he knew that Roy was probably happy that he’d managed to escape, because that’s just Roy’s personality. He wouldn’t hold Jason leaving against him, even though the black-haired male in question felt remorseful.

 

It’s not like he could have gotten Roy his freedom though, Wade only let Jason go because Dick wanted Jason free. Dick didn’t care about Roy or anyone else on the ship. Jason was surprised that Dick even bothered with Jason. At first Jason had assumed that Dick had some sort of Stockholm Syndrome for him, but he reminded himself that Dick had been with Slade more often then he’d been with Jason, and Dick hadn’t requested anything for the white-haired pirate.

 

It left him confused. Why did Dick care about Jason’s safety? Multiple times Jason had entertained the thought that Dick liked him… but it was just a thought. There was no way that the merman who despised humans with all of his heart liked Jason. Right?

 

Whatever. Thinking about this wasn’t getting Jason anywhere, he needed to concentrate on the here and now, not what some sentient fish thought about him.

 

Still, no matter how hard the ravenette tried he couldn’t get the merman out of his head. He thought about him day and night, and the dreams he’d been having only made it worse. He sighed, glancing out over the ocean again, like he did every day.

 

And just like every day, there was nothing.

 

 

Chapter Text

It’d been months since Dick was captured and brought to the Court of Owls. He thought that he’d known pain when he was under the knife of Slade back on the pirate ship, but the Court just had to prove him wrong.

 

Being merpeople themselves, the Owls knew exactly how to hurt Dick in ways that no other being could. They knew where merpeople were the most sensitive, they knew how to prolong the torture, and they knew how to stop a merperson or Siren from healing.

 

Dick had thought that the others had been exaggerating when they’d told Dick how the Court inflicted unbearable pain. Now he knew how wrong he was.

 

The Court was strict, and if Dick made the mistake of messing up a single thing, or refused to do something, he’d be ‘punished’. This punishment consisted of blood, sharp objects, and much screaming on Dick’s part.

 

After months of being tortured, Dick thought he would have gotten used to the pain, but it seemed just as agonizing as every other time he’d been punished by the Court. He wondered how the other Sirens and hybrids were able to deal with the pain, although they’d been here longer then he had.

 

Dick was starting to come to the startling conclusion that in order to escape this pain, he’d have to become like them. Emotionless. Shells of their former selves.

 

His conclusion was confirmed when he spoke to the sea witch Raven. At first it was hard to get her to open up, for she was very secluded and always seemed to disappear when someone approached her for conversation, but once he had managed to break into her shell she seemed a lot more willing to talk to him.

 

Of course, nobody could know about this. Raven told him that since he was new and ‘untamed’, the Owls would assume that he was trying to plot against them, and then both he and Raven would be punished.

 

He actually enjoyed most of their conversations. Raven had a dry humor, and often spoke sarcastically, although there were times when she wasn’t talking sardonically and opened up. Dick found it endearing, and her wry sense of humor never failed to amuse him.

 

It had taken two months for the sea witch to actually speak to him, but the waiting was worth it. He was glad that he’d gotten to know Raven.

 

The sea witch was quiet during a lot of their conversations, leaving Dick to do the talking, but that was okay. He knew that she was very introverted, and preferred listening. She was a very good listener. Most people grew annoyed with Dick’s incessant chatter, sometimes the coos and clicks from his native tongue overlapped from his enthusiasm, but Raven seemed to enjoy it.

 

They were having a conversation now, well, Dick was talking and Raven was watching him with an unreadable expression on her face. Dick didn’t think much of it until she cut him off. “I’m glad you’re not like the others.”

 

Dick trailed off, looking at her with slight surprise. He was silent for a moment before answering her. “Me too.”

 

Raven didn’t speak again after that, so Dick continued on his mostly-one-sided conversation. He didn’t usually have a specific topic, he just talked about anything he could think of. Today the topic was his adopted family.

 

“- I hope that they’re okay… I hope that Timmy is okay…” he trailed off. “Did I tell you yet what happened? After Tim got me off the ship, the Talons hit him and left him for dead…” He had spoken of this, many times before, but Raven never minded it. “I feel like a part of it is my fault, but I know that I wouldn’t have changed anything. I would have let myself be captured rather then let him fall into the hands of those humans. I know that he wouldn’t have given up on me, and I’m not surprised that he went with the only option that he could think of.” Dick sighed, running his hand absent-mindedly over a scar on his chest he’d received from the Court. “He’s really smart, but sometimes if the situation is dire he panics and goes with the best option at the time. It’s normally the right option, but…” Dick fell silent, eyes distant as he thought about his younger brother.

 

“Did I ever tell you about Damian the crab?” He eventually started up again, not wanting to focus on the thought of his brother’s limp body with a stream of blood. He’d be surprised if sharks hadn’t found him and torn him to shreds. The smell of blood surely drew them in.

 

“No,” said Raven in a low voice, even though he had told her about him. She knew that he needed to get his mind off of Tim though, so she let him prattle on about his sort-of-not-really-kind-of brother (as he put it). “-He’s so funny,” Dick gabbed, “I love how easy it is to get him angry, he’s so unlike any other merchild I’ve ever seen. I wish I’d known him back when he was still… but… you know, I’m fine with him being a crab too. Ha ha, he’s crabby,” Dick started laughing at his own pun, and Raven let out a soft sigh at the lameness, but a small smile threatened to tug at her lips.

 

She enjoyed seeing Dick happy like this. It was becoming more rare the longer he stayed with the Court. A lot of his smiles seemed fake, and it was making her worried. She didn’t want to see that light die out of his eyes, like what had happened to so many others before him. He lasted longer then anyone she’d ever seen before however, displaying a strength of will she hadn’t known was possible. Right now, however, he seemed genuinely happy.

 

“- It’s kind of cute how protective he can get,” said Dick with a light laugh. “He’s not very threatening in his current state, so it’s mostly just adorable rather then intimidating.”

 

Raven nodded. Dick had spoken about each of his adopted family members so much that she almost felt like she knew them herself. She felt a sort of… bond with the chatty hybrid. Raven rarely allowed herself to feel emotions, which is one reason why she hadn’t spoken to Dick earlier, but luckily he seemed to get that she needed her own space. There was never an awkward silence between them, because Dick always filled it by talking about pointless things. Those pointless things made everything however, and she soon relaxed with his presence.

 

“You know… I know you don’t enjoy talking about yourself but… why are you here?” Dick asked. It wasn’t the first time he’d done so, and Raven usually answered that she would rather keep that information to herself, but today she found herself answering him.

 

“The Court was looking for a sea witch, and you know them – whatever they want they get. I hadn’t been prepared for the ambush, and before I could cast any curses on them they’d already knocked me out…” she trailed off, memories of fear flashing in her mind. “I woke up in a room much like you did. I was just a teenager at the time, I had no actual control over my powers and therefore was unable to do anything to them. I just remember feeling scared, and wanting to see my mother again. I’m not sure what she thinks happened to me, or if she’s even alive. I hope… I don’t want her to have the pain of losing someone else important to her. My father left us, and it had tormented her for years. He wasn’t a good Siren, he was cruel and harsh and cared nothing about us, except for perhaps my mother’s body. She still loved him though, despite the terrible being he was… I never understood how, but after that she’d become more attached to me. Losing me… I’m not sure how she took it.”

 

Dick was silent, his face more serious then she’d seen in a long time. “I’m sorry for what happened to you Raven,” he said solemnly, but Raven waved him off. “It’s the past, people come, people go, there’s nothing I can do to change it.”

 

“Raven…” Dick hesitated for a moment, catching Raven’s interest. Dick wasn’t one to stay silent. “Do you… do you ever think about leaving?” he said in a whisper, which was definitely for the best. If he’d been overheard, he would have been tortured near death for even uttering such a thing.

 

“I used to,” she replied after a moment. “But I’ve accepted that will never happen.”

 

“Why not?” demanded Dick, his eyes determined. “We could do it.”

 

“What makes you think so?” Raven humored him.

 

“I… I have an idea… I know how to get us both out… but first I need you to promise me something,” he said, his eyes serious as his gaze met hers. “Turn Dami back into a merboy. I know that’s within your power.”

 

“I’d have to leave for that, and there’s no way to,” Raven pointed out, her voice lower then normal.

 

“I know a way,” Dick insisted, and Raven studied him intently.

 

“…What’s your idea?”

 

“I need you to speed up the process for my three days as a human.”

 

“To see that human you told me about?”

 

Dick nodded, “He’ll help us.”

 

“What makes you so sure?”

 

“I… I just know. I think it’s from my… bond… with him.”

 

“… You’ll get us out?”

 

“Yes, definitely. I’ll come back for you, no matter what the cost.”

 

Raven was silent for a long time, and Dick knew she was thinking over the possibilities.

 

“If we’re caught… they’ll torture us to death,” Raven said unnecessarily. Dick already knew the repercussions.

 

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Are you?”

 

“… Give me a day to think it over, this isn’t just some simple question, it’s life or death and I want to make sure I can give you a proper answer.”

 

Dick nodded and gave her a soft smile. “I understand.”

 

A day passed, and then another day, but Raven hadn’t had an answer for him until the third day. “I’ll do it,” she told him, and he had to hold back a ‘whoop’ of victory. “Thank you Raven.”

 

“It’s going to take a couple of weeks to turn you into a human so soon, since you aren’t supposed to turn for another seven months, but it’s doable. I will use my magic to make sure you can breathe underwater until you reach the surface land.”

 

Dick gave a grateful smile. “I don’t know how to thank you. Words don’t seem appropriate.”

 

“Just get us both out of here and that’ll be enough,” said Raven softly. “And I mean both, I won’t leave you behind.”

 

“Nor will I,” replied Dick solemnly.

 


 

Raven was true to her word, a few weeks later and she had a potion ready for Dick to drink. “You’ll have your three days as a human,” she told him, “and you’ll be able to breathe underwater for now. Do you know where you’re going?”

 

Dick nodded, he could sense Jason’s presence if he focused on it. “I know.”

 

“Drink this quickly and I’ll teach you how to swim, your human legs would normally tire quickly but I have also given you stamina in this potion, enough for you to swim laps across all of the oceans.”

 

“Thank you,” he said in relief. He hadn’t even thought of the capabilities and limits his new human legs would give him.

 

Raven didn’t say anything, not that he expected her to. She rarely spoke, the other day being an exception.

 

His heart fluttered with nervousness as he stared down at the black potion. What if something went wrong? No no, he couldn’t think that way. He had to trust in Raven. He gave her a shaky smile before downing the whole thing, immediately making a face at how disgusting it was.

 

It was slimy and had trouble going down his throat, the taste was like the oil that humans dumped in the ocean and Dick barely resisted the urge to gag the potion out. He somehow managed to swallow it down, although his mouth was filling with saliva at the terrible taste and his body seemed to want nothing more than to reject it.

 

For a moment they were both silent, with Dick staring down at his body as though waiting for legs to magically appear. After a couple minutes of nothing happening, Dick opened his mouth, “Raven is this supposed to – AH!”

 

Dick cut off with a cry of pain, immediately slapping a hand over his mouth to silence himself. Raven watched him with slight concern, although she’d already known the process would be painful.

 

Dick squeezed his eyes shut but couldn’t hold back another cry and whimper as his tail started to split in half. He chomped on his hand with his razor sharp teeth, hoping to distract himself from the pain by causing harm elsewhere, although it did nothing. The agony of his tail splitting was way worse then having his hand ravaged. The world started to spin and his eyes drooped as he passed out, the pain being too unbearable for his body to cope with.

 

When he woke up again, he felt different. The pain was gone, but he felt… exposed. He shivered, looking down at his lower half. He felt a flash of fear at the sight of human legs rather than his large blue tail that he was accustomed to. He went to speak but a hand was quickly placed over his mouth, feminine and calloused. His eyes darted up to see Raven’s comforting gaze.

 

“Do not speak, you will fill your mouth with fluid and die. You must wait until you are on land.”

 

Dick’s eyes widened as he tried to calm his racing heart, although her words did nothing to help.

 

“I am going to place a spell on myself to knock me out, so it will look like you escaped and I tried stopping you.”

 

Dick nodded to show he understood. He placed his hand on Raven’s, looking deep into her eyes. He wanted to reassure her that everything would work out, but he was incapable of speaking. He just hoped that physical contact would work as good as words.

 

Raven sighed and relaxed, offering Dick a rare smile. “See your legs? To swim, kick each one out one at a time.”

 

Dick pushed himself up, but rather than kicking he just ended up flailing his legs around. Raven winced at the action and placed a hand on Dick’s shoulder. “Kick your right leg, and then your left. Repeat.”

 

Dick did as he was told, eventually getting the hang of it after a few minutes. He turned to look at Raven, his gaze thankful. “Go now, before the others find you.”

 

Dick felt his heart start to flutter in fear again, and he closed his eyes, before getting up and swimming away as fast as his legs could go. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. He repeated to himself over and over, both to distract himself and help himself to swim faster.

 

Only when he was far from the Court of Owl’s base did he allow himself to relax. He closed his eyes. Jason where are you?

Chapter Text

Jason hadn’t given up his routine of checking the ocean every day, but he still didn’t see the merman. He sighed to himself, wondering if Dick had just been lying to him to spare his feelings. After all the last moment they’d shared together was pretty intimate, and could be seen as a goodbye if one were to look into it. Jason didn’t want to admit it to himself, but he was starting to see no other option. He didn’t want to waste this newfound life chasing after a man that had left him and gave him hope with only a few words. A few words that could have meant nothing.

 

He said this to himself as he stared at the beach the next morning. And the morning after that. And the morning after that.

 

Finally, on one sunny Friday, Jason saw him. Or, at least he saw a man that had black hair and tan skin who appeared to be drowning in the ocean. Jason immediately swam out, feeling the hard waves crash against his body, but he’d regained muscle and mass over the time that Dick had been away and was barely effected by them. The male was still struggling in the water, but his face lit up when he saw Jason. “Jason!” he shouted, and the familiarity of the voice tugged at Jason’s heartstrings. He knew it. He knew it. Of course Dick didn’t lie to him. He wrapped an arm around Dick’s torso and dragged the merman – man now – out of the ocean and onto the beach. Dick was panting heavily, resting most of his weight on Jason. The bigger male realized that without Dick’s tail, he was considerably lighter. He also couldn’t help but to notice that Dick had… very nice legs. He tried not to let his gaze linger upon the naked man’s body, and took his shirt off, handing it to Dick to cover himself with. “H-Here.”

 

Dick appeared confused for a moment before he realized why Jason wasn’t looking at him, and placed the shirt so it was spread over his lap and upper legs. “You can look now,” he said, an odd feeling in his stomach as Jason turned back to look at him.

 

Jason was staring openly. “You… you came.”

 

“I said I would,” Dick reminded him, although there was a pleased smile on his face.

 

“Yeah but…” he didn’t want to admit to the smaller male that he’d started to lose faith in those words. “… It’s weird seeing you without the tail.”

 

Dick looked down at his legs. “… Yes. It is.”

 

They both sat in silence for a moment before it dawned on Jason that this was probably not the best place to be having this conversation. “I should get you inside… come on, let’s go to my place,” he said, and Dick gave him a surprised look. “You have your own place?”

 

“Yes?” Jason was a bit taken aback at how shocked Dick seemed. “I mean, most humans do…”

 

Dick pursed his lips. “But you don’t live with anyone?”

 

“No.”

 

“… Humans are weird…” he mumbled. Jason snorted, “I’ll try not to take offense to that. Come on,” he leaned down and wrapped an arm around Dick’s waist before hoisting him up. “Let’s go.”

 

Dick mostly clung onto Jason for support, trying to mimic his movements. In his human form, he’d usually find a small island and just lie there for three days, like most merpeople did, so he wasn’t used to using his legs. Not to mention he’d been kicking in the water, which was nothing like how he was supposed to walk on land.

 

Jason seemed amused by his attempts at walking, judging by the smirk on his face. Dick glared at him, “What?”

 

“Nothing,” he said, that infuriating smirk still there. “It’s just funny seeing such a graceful creature such as yourself tripping over his own feet like a puppy.”

 

Dick wasn’t sure what a puppy was, but he was positive it was an insult. “I didn’t come all this way just for you to make fun of me!” he snapped, and Jason chuckled. “I know, I know.”

 

Dick noticed that he didn’t apologize however. He shot a sulky look at the other male, who didn’t appear to see it. Or just ignored it. Most likely the latter.

 

Jason kept a close watch on the people in the area, purposefully dodging anyone they came across. He, a male, bringing another naked male to his home, would surely be frowned upon and the last thing he wanted was more rumors circling around him to make his life miserable. He was just starting to get a good thing going, he was becoming more accustomed to this way of living, he didn’t want to have his neighbors hating him because they thought he was a homosexual.

 

In truth, Jason didn’t know what he was, nor did he care. Hell, was it even considered homosexuality if the person wasn’t even a human? Was that bestiality? Maybe he’d been knocked in the head one too many times to be attracted to… another species…

 

Dick was staring at him. He glanced over at the other male, giving him an equally studying look. When their eyes met it was like electricity passed between their two bodies, indeed Dick gave a shudder. Although it might have just been because he was cold. Jason broke eye contact first, and they made their way into Jason’s home in silence.

 

Dick was the first one to break it. “It’s nicer than the pirate ship.”

 

Indeed it was. It wasn’t as big or extravagant but it was decorated nicely with shells and trinkets that Jason had found during his days of waiting. He’d made his own wind chime out of scallop shells that he’d collected along the edges of the beach, which was hanging just outside of his window. Jason was slightly embarrassed at having all of these things around his house, but Dick seemed to really like it. He’d actually tried to take a step forward to observe the conch shells littered on Jason’s windowsill and ended up falling straight on his face.

 

Rather than helping him up though, Jason took the moment to laugh. Dick grumbled and pushed himself up into a sitting position, glaring up at the taller male. “Yeah yeah, laugh it up.”

 

“Sorry,” said Jason sheepishly, before grabbing Dick again and guiding him towards the bed, allowing Dick to collapse onto it. “So… first thing we need to do is get you clothes,” said Jason, clearing his throat. “Can’t have you walking around naked.”

 

Not that I’d mind, came an unwanted thought that Jason was quick to banish. Dick tilted his head, “Clothes huh?” he gave a long sigh, as though this were a heavy burden. “If I must. It is rather… uncomfortable down there…”

Jason felt his cheeks burn slightly as he got what Dick was referring to. He quickly grabbed some of his old boxers and pants (since his size now would in no way fit Dick, but his old clothes might) and threw them at Dick. “Put those on. The short ones go on first, then the long ones,” he said shortly. He’d rather not have to dress Dick. Dick nodded and went to put them on, but ended up falling onto the floor.

 

“Dick? You okay?” Jason questioned, lips twitching. Dick glared up at him. “I’m fine! It’s just… these are faulty!”

 

Jason couldn’t hold back his laugh at that. “They’re not faulty, you’re just an idiot,” he teased, before heading over and showing Dick how to dress himself, although it was awkward and he was quite sure he was blushing the entire time. He’d managed to catch a glimpse of Dick’s package and hell…. He was packed.

 

Dick luckily didn’t catch him looking. Although he most likely had no idea how… private that area was, he was pretty sure that humans wore clothes to cover up these parts of their bodies and would probably not be pleased to have someone whom he trusted staring at those places. Dick turned to Jason when he was done and gave him a brilliant smile that made Jason’s heart flutter – he hadn’t seen anything quite like it before, he was sure. It wasn’t quite innocent, there was a sort of pain in his eyes, but happiness overrode it. “Jason… I am truly glad to have found you again…”

 

To Jason’s immense surprise Dick’s eyes started to tear up. Before Jason could react the merman was crying. It wasn’t loud, gross sobbing, but it wasn’t soft crying either. He wasn’t hiding his pain from Jason – which was something new. Dick was a natural hider, even with their bond, he didn’t like people to see his pain.

 

Without thinking about it, Jason sat beside him and pulled Dick up against his chest, stroking his damp black hair as the merman – could he even be considered that in his human form? – cried into his shoulder. Why was Dick crying? He had the feeling it was more than just missing Jason; he seemed genuinely pained.

 

It took a while until Dick calmed down, but once he did he didn’t seem like he was going to start crying again any time soon. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I lost control of myself…”

 

“Everyone needs to cry now and again,” Jason brushed it off. “Want to tell me what that was about?”

 

Dick immediately shook his head. He didn’t want to think about what had happened at the Court, not while he was finally here with Jason. “No… let’s just… do something else. How about you teach me how to be human?” Dick suggested.

 

“Oh uh…” How to be human. Even Jason wasn’t sure if he was doing that right. “Okay I guess I can try… Let’s start with walking.”

 

Walking got a lot of laughs out of Jason, and a lot of blushing and (cute) angry reactions from Dick, but eventually he started to get the hang of it. He knew how to, so Jason didn’t need to teach him how to walk, it was just that his muscles were weak and unused to being used. His skin was so smooth…

 

Stop being a pervert Jason, the male scolded himself. Control yourself. You’re not a teenage boy anymore.

 

He mentally scoffed. Even as a teenage boy he hadn’t had the luxury of being a normal teenage boy, seeing as that’s around the time he’d been sold to slavery.

 

“Walking is… is… stupid!” Dick declared after his millionth time of falling. Jason chuckled and helped him back up, at least his legs weren’t shaking as much. “Let’s try some stretches,” the ex-slave suggested, motivated by the light that formed in Dick’s eyes at the idea.

 

Stretching… was a good idea for Dick, but not such a great idea for Jason, simply because his body kept having the worst reactions ever at seeing just how far Dick could spread his legs. And the angles in which he could hold him, and the positions… Holy shit… save me Lord…

 

Dick smiled up at Jason from his spot on the floor. Jason was gaping at him like a fish, but he quickly shut his mouth when he caught onto it. “G-Good. That’s good,” he cleared his throat. “N-Now that you’re all stretched out, let’s get you walking again…”

 

There was a strange glint in Dick’s eye, and if Jason were anyone else he’d have thought Dick was trying to seduce Jason on purpose. But he wasn’t. He was just a stupid fish who had no idea what he was doing…

 

Walking seemed to be easier after the stretching, although Jason was extremely aware that Dick kept on bumping his hip against Jason’s, and he wasn’t sure if it was on purpose or not. He decided not to call attention to it. Maybe it was just a merperson thing, who knows?

 

“You seem to be doing a lot better,” Jason commented after Dick managed to walk around on his own without falling. “And it’s only been a couple of hours.” He was actually impressed, learning to walk wasn’t something that should take such a short amount of time, but somehow Dick had managed to do it.

 

Dick beamed. “Am I? I’ve been using memory to remember how I used to walk, it’s helped a lot.”

 

Ah, muscle memory. That explains how quickly Dick had adapted to walking. Jason gave an approving nod, “That’s good. Do you want to continue or stop?”

 

Dick thought for a moment. “My legs are starting to tingle. I think I need to stop for now.”

 

Jason nodded, “That’s fine. I’m surprised you managed to last this long to be honest,” he said, almost apologetically. Dick gave him a small smile, “I’m tougher than I look.”

 

Oh boy if Jason didn’t know that then he’d have to be deaf, blind and stupid. Jason might call Dick a stupid fish, but he was the exact opposite. He was clever, easy on the eyes, strong, and not afraid to hurt people if he feels threatened. That was all discluding his powers as a merman.

 

“Are you hungry at all?” Jason asked him, and Dick’s blue eyes lit up. It was ironic how a merman’s eyes matched the color of the ocean he came from. “I’m starved,” he said in reply, sounding very hungry indeed. Jason chuckled at his response, finding amusement in how such a creature could act like a hungry human at all.

 

“I’ll grab some fish. You like fish right?”

 

Dick nodded. “Yes. I like all fish. Except for puffer fish – they hurt going down the throat.”

 

Jason nodded like he had any idea what Dick was talking about. “Right… err, no puffer fish, but I do have tuna?”

 

Dick, who had just sat on the bed, practically bounced with excitement. “Tuna? I love tuna!”

 

Jason grinned, “You’ll love my tuna, I make it good.”

 

“… Make? How does one make tuna?” Dick asked, cocking his head in confusion.

 

Oh. Right. Merfolk ate their fish raw… and alive. Oh god.

 

“We cook the fish.”

 

Dick’s jaw dropped open and his eyes widened. “What? Why would you do that?”

 

Jason opened his mouth to answer, before knitting his eyebrows in thought. Why did humans do that? Well, he knew why – so that they wouldn’t get sick – but who even decided that humans should eat fish anyway? “Humans can’t digest raw fish,” is what he said, hoping it was a good enough answer. It was. Dick seemed to take it seriously, if a bit bemused. “I suppose that’s a valid reason.”

 

Jason grinned. “I suppose it is as well,” he said, before heading into the kitchenette to grab some tuna he’d caught out of the icebox. Dick peaked over curiously when he saw the cool steam, but didn’t come over. He was probably too tired from walking. Jason then threw the tuna on top of a skillet and placed it over the wood-burning fireplace he had in the corner, putting the fire on and waiting for it to burn.

 

Dick watched with fascination as Jason slowly cooked the fish, watching as the skin melted before Jason cut into it and pulled out it’s insided, then chopped off its head. It seemed a bit extreme, but Jason reassured Dick this was the only way humans could eat it, so Dick continued to watch until the fish had finished cooking and was ready to be consumed.

 

Jason grabbed two plates, putting one down in front of Dick, before plopping some of the tuna on it. Dick stared at it, an unreadable expression on his face. If Jason had to guess, he wasn’t sure if he should eat it or not. Jason decided to give him some incentive by eating his own portion of the fish and giving exaggerated moans. Dick picked up on this and immediately grabbed his tuna, biting into it. He huffed, pulling it out of it’s mouth, and Jason spotted teeth marks digging into the skin. “It won’t work. My teeth won’t go through it. Stupid human teeth.” Dick rubbed at the blunt teeth, looking disgusted. The sight was so bizarre that Jason couldn’t help but to laugh. “Try eating it this way, and chew it with your back teeth.”

 

Dick watched as Jason showed him the proper way to eat, before nodding and starting over, doing what Jason did. Once he swallowed his eyes widened slightly and he looked at Jason. “This is good.”

 

Jason wasn’t sure if he should be offended at the surprised tone or not. “Yeah… I guess,” he shrugged before returning back to his meal, an odd feeling in his stomach.

 

After they finished they lounged around on Jason’s bed, Dick playing with one of the bigger conk shells that Jason had found. The human was staring at him. He was just as beautiful as a human as he was when he was a mermaid.

 

He seemed almost like he wasn’t real, the happy look in his eyes and the boisterous laughing while playing with a shell just seemed unnatural. Unnatural in a good way. Seeing Dick get excited over simple things that reminded him of his home like that made Jason’s heart swell. A smile of his own stretched over his face as he watched the older, unable to look away.

 

“Hey Dick?” Jason eventually spoke, and Dick put down the shell to look at him, although the happy aura remained in place. “Yes Jason?”

 

“Would you like me to show you how I catch fish?”

 

Dick’s eyes lit up and a smile appeared on his face. “Yes!”

 

Jason grinned as well and got off of the bed, holding out a hand to help Dick up as well. Dick hummed as he followed Jason to the deck, waiting and watching with him once the string and hook had been thrown in.

 

After almost five minutes of silence Dick turned to Jason. “Does it usually take this—“ he was cut off by a splashing noise, and they both turned to see a brown fish jump in the air with it’s mouth caught in the hook. Jason let out a triumphant sound and reeled the fish, who was struggling, in. He grabbed it and immediately snapped its neck.

 

The fish fell limp.

 

“Why did you do that?” Dick asked, eyeing the now dead fish.

 

“Well, it’s more humane then boiling them alive,” Jason said with a shrug, standing. Dick looked up at him. He remembered the last time he had seen him. Jason had been very thin, almost breakable looking, although there had always been the undertone of slight muscles. There had to be in order to work on the ship. His hair had been ratty and he was constantly covered in dirt.

 

Looking at him now, he almost didn’t seem like the same man. He had a heavy build, and stood a lot taller then he had before. Dick could see rather than just feel his muscles. His skin had a healthy glow, and Dick had never seen him this content.

 

“You would make a nice merman,” Dick said out of the blue. Jason turned to stare at him, apparently not having expected that. “Excuse me?”

 

“I said, you would make a nice merman. You’re a handsome specimen and fit all of the requirements of an ideal mate by merfolk standard.”

 

Jason’s eyes were wide, and an alarming shade of red spread across his face. Dick gave him a concerned look. “Jason what’s wrong? Are you sick?”

 

“W-What?”

 

“Your face is all red…”

 

Jason seemed to snap out of whatever funk he’d been in before, and he quickly turned his head away from Dick’s view. “No… no I’m fine.”

 

“…Okay…” Dick watched as he practically raced back to the house, confused. Why was he acting like that? His face was all – oh.

 

Dick could have punched himself. Of course. That was so obvious. Jason had been blushing. He was embarrassed. Not sick.

 

Beating himself up mentally, Dick returned to the house at a much slower pace. Jason glanced over at him, but didn’t offer any conversations. Dick didn’t either.

 

Way to go Dick. You just made this entire thing uncomfortable.

 

He looked around for something to distract them both with, and eventually pointed to the ice box. “What is that?”

 

Jason looked relieved before explaining what it was and it’s purpose.

 


 

It was later that night, when the two had returned from sight-seeing at the dock, that they came across their little problem.

 

Or big problem in Jason’s case.

 

“I’m tired,” Dick had informed him, a small yawn that reminded Jason of a cat accompanying him.

 

His mind had suddenly stopped working. Tired. Oh no, where were they going to sleep?

 

Jason had struggled to think until he eventually said, “I’ll sleep on the couch, you take the bed.”

 

Dick stared at him with what looked like slight horror. “What? No! Sleep with me! … in bed,” he added upon seeing the look on Jason’s face.

 

“… why should I?” the pure human eventually challenged, folding his arms across his chest.

 

“Because… because I don’t want to be alone…”

 

The tone had come out so pitiful that Jason gave in and eventually agreed.

 

And that’s how they found themselves tangled together, cuddling in an almost intimate way, in Jason’s bed.

 

“Goodnight Jason,” Dick murmured into his neck.

 

“… You too Dick.”