It had to be one of the hardest nights Ludwig had ever had to endure. The surgery had lasted what seemed like days for the worried blonde. In reality, it was just a few hours stretched out to stomp upon his already worried heart. He had to constantly keep the tail and other scaly parts of Feliciano wet with what water he could spare from a nearby bucket that Gilbert had fetched him when he realized that his friend was starting to get too dry. Not only that, but he had only taken basic biology in high school with some medical classes that were a mandatory thing for him a bit after his school career.
The hooks were evil little devils to get out of the tail. Some of them spiraled in and out of the flesh, others were broken and he had to search for the little tiny parts embedded in the tail. He had a hand towel nearby that he had to continuously wipe blood off onto. When he started with it, it was a soft blue in color, but by the time he had finished, it was a dark red that was dripping with blood. There were seventeen hooks that were whole sitting on a clothe nearby. They were nothing compared to the broken ones. Twenty-two big pieces, and about eighteen or so small pieces.
Feli had thankfully been unconscious during the entire thing. Ludwig really didn’t want to see the flinching or the tears that came with these types of things. He could barely handle the ride home from the beach, let alone the entire thing. It had hurt him deeper than he could’ve possibly imagined. It felt like somebody was squeezing his heart to see how much it could take before it exploded with worry and concern.
Nevertheless, once the procedure was over, Ludwig had to wait for a beat or two before he was able to pick up Feli. The tail had some stitches in it that he would have to learn how to remove after he was in water for so long. But until he was able to get Feli to be in the water, he wrapped a wet, clean, towel around his injured lower half.
Once he had picked up Feli and brought him downstairs, Gilbert came up to help him through the doors and everything else. “What are we going to do now?” He asked with a hint of worry in his tone.
Ludwig grunted and began walking down into the pool with the tiled steps leading into the shallower end. “We’ll have to take turns holding him in here. We can’t let him swim until the stitches come out.”
“Well, how long is that going to take?” The albino sighed and sat down on the side of the pool with his legs in.
Ludwig once again sighed. “A few days, I think.” He shook his head and sat down on the lowest step. The salt water was well made, he would give his brother points for that. But would he really be able to rely on him for watching Feliciano? His ankle throbbed badly and he had to bite back a yawn. He was exhausted and didn’t even want to think about how long this would take.
Considering everything that he had been through in the past few days, was this the right thing to do? If he had changed just a few things that he had done, maybe they wouldn’t be in this position. Maybe if he had just ignored the merman on the beach all that time ago, they wouldn’t have had to do anything like this at all in their human lives. But, taking in the fact that Feliciano had brought in such amazing light to his once dull life…. No, he had to save the merman on the beach. It was almost like he was destined to go there on that particular day to see that particular thing struggling.
It was an hour before he realized that he was nodding off. Gilbert was shaking his shoulder softly with a rare brotherly concern look in his face. “Hey, brosoff, you need to get some sleep. Especially if you wanna do an awesome job with this.”
The blonde caretaker blinked heavily and yawned deeply. He glanced down at the sleeping angel in his arms and ran his fingers over the gills gently. He stayed like this for a few seconds before nodding slowly and shifted Feli over to Gilbert, who smiled trustingly...for once. “I’ll be back in a while,” he slurred and got out of the pool sloppily.
Ludwig had only been drunk a lot of times, and he felt drunk now. Instead of dragging his body over to his room where he normally would’ve slept off events like this, he made a makeshift bed by the pool with a towel and a plastic lounge chair. He watched Gilbert shifting Feliciano around so he would be a bit more comfortable for the upcoming hours in the water. But he supposed that it would be okay, Gilbert would be an okay brother for this one.
He stretched out, closed his eyes and watched the back of his eyelids for the rest of the day.
The blonde German woke up immediately and shot his head over to the right of him where Feli should've been. Instead, he found the merman gently swimming around with Gilbert holding him underneath. It looked like he was a parent teaching a toddler how to swim.
"What are you doing?" He demanded and sat up, resisting the urge to rub his tired eyes.
"He wanted to swim," Gilbert said easily-as if this wasn't a problem at all. "Who was I to deny him that awesome right?"
Feli looked up and waved gleefully at Ludwig. "Hiya, Luddy!"
Ludwig waved back automatically but kept his eyes focused on Gilbert. "What did I say about swimming?"
Gilbert cleared his throat and began to mock his brother in a too-deep-voice, "We cannot let him swim until the stitches move camp off of his tail!"
Ludwig took a very deep breath and counted off to ten to try and calm himself down. "No," He growled. "I said we can't let him swim until the stitches are taken out."
The albino barked a laugh loudly and startled Feli who was under the water at the time. A little splash accompanied Gilbert's playful face at his brother. "He isn't swimming. I'm just holding him and taking him around the pool."
"I thought it was a good idea to move the muscles a bit, yknow, just to flex out?" Feli said. "Is that okay?"
Ludwig sighed and shook his head. He supposed it was alright so long as he was only stretching. "Are you hungry?"
Feli smiled and his tail twitched at the mention of food. "Si! Do you have any fish?"
"I think so. How much do you eat?"
"About three good sized fish for a meal and two small or a big one alone could be a good snack. Maybe a crab or something." He licked his lips at just the thought of the taste he imagined.
Gilbert and Ludwig shared a look. It wasn't uncommon to buy fish so close to the coast, but it would look weird if they were to buy enough to feed an entire merman for as long as he would need to stay. Not only that, but he would eat it raw making it only more strange for them to buy a full bag of raw fish.
"Do you like tuna?" Gilbert suggested. "Maybe we could have you try a tuna sandwich instead of eating it raw."
Ten minutes later, Feli was eating a tuna sandwich for the first time. He demanded a second one when he finished the first, then for a third. Eventually, Gilbert had to go to the store to buy more supplies.
A few days after that, Feli tried some pasta with shrimp on it. Gilbert had gotten it a few days ago when he was out with friends and didn't want to have it anymore, so he gave it to Feli. The merman immediately fell in love with the noodles and asked for more.
Ludwig had to drag him out of the water and place him on a towel right next to the pool when he took out the stitches. It wasn't that bad of a process, it just took a while for all of them to come out. Luckily it wasn't as bad as it was with the first operation, if it even counted as one, and lasted for little more than an hour.
Feli watched the entire procedure being done. He was fascinated with how the tools would work the way they did and would politely ask for a explanation of how each one worked. Ludwig even let him hold the ones he wasn't using and ask him to pass him which one he needed next.
When Feli was given the okay after they were done, he splashed around in the water with as much excitement as he could put into his actions. Gilbert and Ludwig watched him from their spots on the stairs as he did flips and other things in the water. At one point he even started to make weird noises that they assumed where how merpeople would communicate with each other.
"He looks happy to swim again." Gilbert noted.
"He missed it." Ludwig agreed.
"When do you think we should let him go home?"
Ludwig shrugged after a minute. "I don't know. I need to make sure that he's fully okay before I let him back. It shouldn't be much more than a week really, if that."
Gilbert nodded along. To be honest, none of the three wanted Feli to go back home. They all wanted to be together in one place instead of wing separated like this.
"You know what would be fun?" Gilbert asked, turning to Ludwig. "We should take him to the zoo and the aquarium."
Ludwig watched him with hesitant eyes. On one hand, he knew Feli would absolutely be thrilled about it all. They'd be able to show him more of their world and he would like to see parts of his own. On the other, there were many concerns about it. He'd have to watch out for humans and their prying eyes. Maybe they'd be able to hide it or something, but it'd still be weird to see a man in full clothes this time of year. How would they even get him to be continuously wet anyway? It took a lot just to get him to the house.
"Yeah, it would," he said gently. One thing is for sure, Ludwig didn't expect to agree with his brother on this.