“Stiles!” Scott whined, his tail flicking nervously back and forth, “You’re going to be late again and I promised your dad-“
“Shhh come on Scott we’re not going to be late I just want to get a closer look. Come on, I only have a few days left of freedom don’t you think I deserve a little Stiles time?” Stiles tugged on his best friend’s wrist, pulling him closer to the shadow on the surface. A ship. Stiles loved ships.
“But we’re supposed to be at the dinner party in less than an hour! And it’ll take us at least 30 minutes to swim back given the current at this time of night and-“
“Scott come on this will only take a couple minutes I just want to get a closer look!”
Stiles was lying, of course, but there was no way he was turning back now, he was so close
The thing is, Stiles was bored. He was so so incredibly bored with his boring by-the-book life and with every day his craving for adventure was getting worse. I mean, can you blame him? He was supposed to be married in three days to secure a treaty that would merge the kingdoms, and after that he could say goodbye to anything more interesting than attending to the needs of the kingdom. Maybe the occasional day at the sea horse derby, but honestly, how the merpeople could call that entertainment, he had no idea.
“Stiles you know you’re not supposed to go near those things! We could get in so much trouble for this if your father finds out!”
“Relax Scott he won’t find out I’ll make sure of it. If you want to be the best friend in the entire ocean and go cover for me, I won’t tell on you for sneaking out to see Allison”
“Stiles! That was one time!”
“That’s more than enough Scotty boy”
Scott rolled his eyes but agreed and turned around muttering to himself about ‘irresponsible princes’ and ‘Lady Allison is the prettiest mermaid it’s not my fault’
Stiles chuckled and pushed himself to the surface.
It was the best sensation in the world, Stiles thought, that moment when he reached the surface and felt the change from water to air across his skin. He loved the coolness of the breeze and the way sound travelled above water, not slow and heavy but light and free. Stiles wanted to feel that way more than anything.
Keeping his head low, he swam closer to investigate the ship. It wasn’t the first time he’d come to the surface for this very reason, and he sincerely hoped that it wouldn’t be the last. As he got closer, he could make out the name on the side of the vessel, The Triskele. Stiles smiled.
Listening to the voices on the ship, Stiles tried to pick out any familiar ones. He secretly hoped he could hear Derek, maybe even catch a glimpse of him this time.
Stiles had been on many adventures and collected thousands of treasures. From the sparkling coral reef to the deep sea caves where the giant squid slept, yet no adventure had ever brought him a greater treasure than Derek Hale.
Derek was a mystery. He rarely spoke and when he did it was with few words. Although when Stiles first saw his face, he found a story waiting to be told, and he was so eager to discover more.
So he kept coming back to the surface, despite the danger it posed, out of curiosity and longing to know more about the man that was an adventure Stiles wished he could embark on.
“No signs of the Argent’s ship Captain Hale”
That was Boyd, Derek’s first mate. Stiles came here more often than he wished to admit.
“Very good Boyd, thank you”
Feeling more than a little bit daring, Stiles inched closer to the great ship looming on the water. He just had to hear a little bit more, then he would go home. He needed this more than anything, needed the thrill of adventure and the risk of being caught.
As he drew nearer to the ship, he sunk lower in the water to avoid being spotted, but kept his ears above the surface hoping to catch more of the conversation.
“Captain, I believe that we should head back to shore within the hour, we haven’t spotted any other ships and we’re pushing our luck already with the weather.”
This voice called down from the crow’s nest, and Stiles quickly identified it as belonging to Erica, another one of Derek’s most trusted crew members.
“We must go further, it is vital that this territory is secure.”
There was something in Derek’s voice that caught Stiles’ attention. While his tone held it’s usual ‘listen to me I’m the Captain no-nonsense’ quality, there was an edge of something else that had Stiles swimming even a little bit closer. It sounded almost like fear, and it was as if the very sound of it pulled Stiles towards the ship like a magnet. He did not like to think that there was something in this world that Derek feared.
However, those thoughts quickly flew from his mind when someone approached the side of the ship and Stiles finally was able to see Derek.
He looked different from the last time Stiles was able to catch a glimpse of him. He was no longer clean shaven, and his hair had grown out longer as well. Stiles looked for as long as he dared, drinking in the sight of him and committing it to memory.
He wondered if he would ever be able to see him like this again.
The thought itself was overwhelming and Stiles’ tail thrashed anxiously underwater, causing the surface to shimmer and ripple.
Derek’s eyes, which had been fixed on the horizon, snapped to the area where Stiles lurked.
Panicking, Stiles quickly dove to get further beneath the surface, but in his haste to pull himself down, his tail flipped up behind him, momentarily breaking the surface before becoming submerged once again.
After he was a good 20 feet under, Stiles stopped to look mournfully back up at the surface. There was no way he could go back up again now, Derek would be too vigilant. Pushing down the hopelessness Stiles felt that his adventure had come to an end, he watched as the ship sailed on across the water. He wasn’t worried about Derek seeing him in the slightest, after all, even if he did catch a small glimpse, there was no way he could have known exactly what it was he saw. He would forget all about it in no time, Stiles was sure of it.
Derek knew what he saw. He had already been focusing his senses on located any enemy ship in the area, so the small splash quickly drew his attention. What he saw confused, intrigued, and fascinated him. It looked like the face of a young man. Although it quickly disappeared underwater, Derek remembered seeing wide, brown eyes followed by a flash of red before the water was calm once more. It was the flash of red that Derek couldn’t get out of his mind. In a sea of blues and greens, the red stood out like a beacon. It stuck in his mind long after the water had stilled, for Derek was sure the flash of red came from the tail of a fish. Yet in the same place he thought he had seen the head of a boy.
Derek was already aware of the existence of supernatural creatures, he was one after all. However, the extent of his knowledge was limited so while he was sure there were such things as merpeople, he had never encountered one before. It fascinated him to see just how much of the world he had yet to explore and understand, and he wished he could have gotten a better look before this one swam away.
Derek hoped he would come back.